Small Business Spotlight Scotland - Anderson & Edwards

FSB Member Story 10 Sep 2021


Dean Anderson and partner James Edwards stand outside their office

We want to highlight the fantastic array of small businesses we have on our doorsteps. In this feature we ask an FSB member some key questions about their business journey and involvement with FSB. This week, Dean Anderson of Edinburgh-based tax and accountancy firm Anderson & Edwards tells his story.

If you have a story to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected] 

Tell me about your business

We started our accountancy firm in February 2021 to assist our clients with their compliance requirements and build a sustainable business. We see that our clients’ accounting and tax requirements need to be aligned.

We see tax and accountancy as two separate disciplines that work in tandem. We are specialists in our respective areas, which is rare for a smaller firm. It allows us to have the technical ability of the larger accountancy firms with specialist departments, without the communication problems that come with size.

The accountancy side of the business assists our clients with their bookkeeping system to streamline the process, so our clients spend less time on bookkeeping and more time running their businesses. We also prepare our clients’ annual compliance and HMRC compliance, such as PAYE and VAT returns.

The tax side of the business helps clients make use of their allowances both in the short and long term, by being as efficient as possible. This allows our clients to plan for the future from a tax perspective. It's not about paying as little tax as possible, it's about making sure it is correct while considering the long term and the short term issues.

Both sides of the business come together to work out the best strategy from a business standpoint and also a tax point of view. An example of this could be the payment of pension contributions. The client may want to make use of the annual pension allowance, but the business would not make that level of contribution. So, behind the scenes, we would work out the client’s options and present these to them.


What's the best thing about working for yourself?

The best thing about working for ourselves is taking on the clients we want to take on. The worst thing to do would be to take on a client that would be hard work and not value our services. It also means that we have to be very disciplined and not take on a client too big for us as a firm.

The fact that we can also work when and where we want is significant. We moved into an office in July 2021, which is excellent, but we can work from home and on the road too as we have the infrastructure to do this.

We are also in charge of our earnings. We don't want to become millionaires but to have a good living from our business. It is about creating the life we want to live, which we cannot do as employees.

We want to create our own culture as a firm that represents our values as individuals. This is something we chatted about at length when we were planning our business. One of our central values is honesty. We want our clients and potential clients to know that we are acting in their best interest and if we feel they can get a better deal somewhere else, we let them know.


What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?

Pay for professional advice or speak to the right people. Going into business is a big decision and, most likely, you will be learning a lot of new things that are not your actual job. We are fortunate that we know the tax and accounting side as it is our day job, but we know very little about marketing, IT systems and the law. So we decided to invest in each of these areas to ensure our business has the proper foundation. If our business fails, we do not want to regret that we didn't put 100% into it and rather we did it how we ourselves wanted to do it.

Have enough cash in the bank, so you do not need to make the sale. This is hard initially as you want to bring in clients or make sales right at the start, but they may be the wrong fit for your business, or you may over-promise them.

Start networking straight away and arrange 1:1s with everyone. We have found that most of our work comes from referrals from people with whom we have taken the time to speak and learn what they do and explain what we do. We very much believe in quality over quantity.


How has your FSB membership helped you?/What attracted you to join FSB?

We enquired about the FSB to join the networking events as we felt it was a great way to grow our networks. However, we were blown away with the additional services our membership offers us, such as legal support, HR support and debt recovery.

We feel very strongly that all of our clients get Tax Investigation insurance as in previous roles, we have seen how expensive HMRC investigation can be, since the clients have to pay their accountants to deal with HMRC. This is another service the FSB offers.