I interviewed Mark Asquith owner of Asquith & Co accountants back in July. This Scarborough Business Hero has been growing and developing his business in Scarborough for 17 years in Scarborough.
A key to his success is that he always does what he says he’ll do. That way clients know where they are. He knows a lot of people in Scarborough and it’s important to maintain a good reputation. In such a small town, your reputation can be fragile too and easily lost. Mark likes that Scarborough is like an island 40 miles from civilisation so it can be a perfect opportunity to build your business reputation that you wouldn’t get for example in Leeds.
His accountancy business is the road he chose. It’s been better than he thought it would be when he first started up. Mark is a very open, charming and humble guy. He puts his success down to just doing what he thinks is right. He’s made a point of creating his own style – for example he tries not to be the stereotypical “stuffy” accountant. His clients don’t wear suits and neither does he. He believes that suits exert power and he doesn’t wish his clients to feel he has power over them.
However, because of his personality, Mark recognises that he does perhaps tend to take too much on himself. His enthusiasm and love for business, whether large or small, means that business is attracted to him meaning he can’t always deliver personally. Trying to be whatever people want them to be can be difficult with so many clients. He often feels like he’s spread too thin.
Mark told me that the biggest challenge he feels his business has in the town is proving value and getting paid for it. Mark is not sure that clients always see the value in the work that accountants do for them. This can be common in accountancy firms: it’s important to be clear about what you charge but there again it can be difficult to price a job until you get stuck in to the numbers. But it’s vital in every business to make sure you get paid.
He’s not just being bothered about the money though. Loyalty is important in business – he will stand by people who have been in financial trouble.
When I asked Mark if there was one thing he would change in the business what would it be, he said it was an industry-wide issue that he would like addressed. He wishes there was more of a public record of poor performing accountancy businesses. Currently any wrong doing can be buried such as so called “clever accounting” attributed to major tax avoidance. They are the accountants who care only for themselves and their behaviour undermines the profession. Clever accounting is a euphemism for fiddling and he finds it very frustrating when he hears of it going on. In addition, another frustration is that the accountancy profession is not governed. Although Mark is not precious about his firm’s chartered status, there is still no regulatory body and anyone can set up as an accountant.
Overall, Mark seemed happy with his business. He tries to do a good job and builds his business organically largely through referrals. He has no long term plans to do anything else – he wouldn’t know what else to do, he laughed.
To find out more about Asquith & Co, go to https://www.asquithand.co.uk/
If you’d like to know more about our Scarborough Business Heroes project, you can get in touch at https://actioncoach.co.uk/coaches/ros-jones/#contact