Award winning entrepreneur Ray Rogers of Surf Accounts on the highs and lows of starting and growing a business.
There are some standout achievements for us to date. Surf Accounts was named Bank of Ireland Startup of the Year 2016. We have also won the ALPHA competition for Startups two years in a row, representing Ireland at the Collision Conference in Las Vegas and New Orleans.
And we have been awarded “ICAEW Accredited Software” status, one of only seven online financial products to have been accredited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
There have been low moments. We once made a start on the product and realised after months of work that the look and feel would not fly so we went back to the drawing board, a large amount of cost and time we could have done without.
How do I cope with setbacks?
Dig deep and get things back on track. The creation of product, project or business will be bedevilled by delays, so expect them, try to anticipate as many as you can, and then you are only dealing with left-field stuff. Generally, left field stuff can be sorted.
“I am not a risk taker. Where something does have risk associated with it, I prefer it to be a risk that is within my control.”
If I were to start again?
I’d get a great team from the outset and then get investment early into the project. We had to do it all on our own but sometimes that’s just the way creating a business is.
“The biggest gripe I have is that it’s hard being a small company trying to open up foreign markets.”
How did I fund the business?
We’re self-funded, but we did get help in the form of employment grants from Enterprise Ireland. Our bank has been a great help too and has supported us from the beginning.
The biggest gripe I have is that it’s hard being a small company trying to open up foreign markets. There is no direct support for sales and marketing, yet the one thing a new business needs is promotion, once everything else is setup. I’d like to see direct market entry supports in the form of sales and marketing staff and spend.
If there were one piece of business advice, I’d like to give to another business owner?
Learn accounting and understand how to run finances and the importance of cash. Too many business owners are great at their business but still fail because they don’t know how to keep their books organised.
“A poor Leaving Cert is not the end of the world, you can get on and make it so long as you have the drive to succeed.”
What motivates me?
I guess coming from a working class background; I strive to be recognised. The belief that a poor Leaving Cert is not the end of the world, that you can get on and make it so long as you have the drive to succeed and work harder and longer than most.
My long-term ambition for the business?
The vision is to provide a full range of cloud-based software for the SME market. We want to make Surf Accounts a household name. Surf Accounts already has a good reputation among accountants throughout Ireland as a reputable software provider. Our goal is to continue along those lines into the United Kingdom and at a later date, the United States.
The one thing I would change about business culture in Ireland
Capital Gains Tax at 33-40% means no small business owner can afford to sell their business – the price would be too high.
About Surf Accounts
Surf Accounts is a cloud-based accounts and CRM system aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. You can access and update your accounts anytime, anywhere and on any device and working with your accountant becomes a seamless and real-time event.