This month we celebrate our fifth anniversary. 
Five years ago, to the day – 1 February 2017 to be precise - Tom Payne took the leap and set up his own accountancy firm, Abaqus, and what an exciting journey it has been. 
Over the years the firm has gone from strength to strength, starting off with no clients, to now boasting a client portfolio of over 200 clients; across different industries, from cleaning contractors to financial advisors and from sole traders to limited companies with a few charities too. Turnover for the client base varies from £10k to £1.4m, so a wide variety of clients that span the South West. 
Here we look back on the past five years by asking Tom some questions: 
What made you get into accountancy, Tom? 
When I realised that I just didn’t have the skill levels to play rugby for Gloucester or become the lead guitarist in a successful rock band I had to look elsewhere. My dad was an accountant and I decided to follow in his footsteps. Leaving school after A-Levels in 2000 I worked for local accountancy practices to gain experience and obtain my qualifications. 
Why did you start your own company? 
I had worked at many different places, always moving for progression. The last two jobs had the dangled carrot of becoming a partner, but for various reasons didn’t quite work out. 
Over the years I learnt how - and how not - to run an accounting practice. As time went by I had more and more people ask if I had thought about setting up on my own. All through my career until that point, I had no ambition to start my own practice. But by now the seed had already been planted and the wheels were set in motion for the practice and Abaqus was then born. 
Time has certainly flown by since then though, and if you’d have told me back at the beginning where I’d be now, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. 
Why did you choose the name Abaqus? 
Initially the business was called Cotswold Business Solutions. I instructed Barbara Steele of Agile Design to work on my branding etc and she decided that the name didn’t represent what I was trying to achieve, and I agreed. Barbara came up with a few ideas, but the winner was always Abaqus. Our tagline is Modern Accountancy with a Traditional Twist, and the intentional misspelling of abacus represents this. 
What have been your achievement highlights? 
There’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you get your first client signed up, so that must be one of the first ones. I’ve been lucky with growing the business. We started off offering quite limited accounts and taxation services and now can offer bookkeeping, management accounts and payroll in addition to name a few. Growth is something any business owner wants to achieve and up to date figures is a must for this to happen! 
When clients come to me they often just see their figures as a necessary evil and we take time to explain what everything means and give them a greater understanding. I have had resistance from clients to changing how things are done but once you explain why, they see the benefit. A lot of the businesses that joined when I first set up were also start-ups. It has been lovely watching them grow and a few of them have made the transition from sole trader to limited company as a result of their successes. 
I’ve also been fortunate to win the SME Finance Awards for the Best Accountancy & Business Advisory Firm in Gloucestershire. 
Have you had any challenges along the way? 
As with most businesses the biggest challenge has been cashflow. When starting with no clients you do wonder how you are going to pay the bills at the end of the month! I was very fortunate to have a supportive family at the beginning as they got me through those opening months. 
One of the reasons I wanted to set up on my own was to find out what mistakes businesses can make and to learn from them. We live in a world where there is a lot that can be purchased, and I have invested in some products that I later learnt weren’t for me. I always get my clients to think about what they are about to buy and does the business really need it. 
If you could give one piece of advice to someone about to start their own business, what would it be? 
This is simple, to plan, plan, plan. 
What is your vision for the next five years? 
Like many business owners it’s continued growth. Last year Sarah joined as my office manager, but I’m keen to add to the team even more, so that we can continue with the same high standards. 
If we can help with any of your accountancy needs, please give us a call on 01452 596765 for a chat or take a look around our website. 
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