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From Start-up to maturity: An Interview with Alan Woods

In December 2012, ACCA conducted an extended interview with Alan Woods FCCA, Director at Woods Squared Ltd. The interview was based on two case studies of UK start-ups in need of finance and professional advice, but quickly branched out into a broader discussion about the role of the adviser, the building of the finance function in SMEs and how accountants add value to a business.

A healthy start (Case Study)

Restaurants were very hard-hit in the UK’s recent double-dip recession; starting a new restaurant with almost no track record in business is an incredibly difficult feat. In this section, Alan recalls how a healthy fast-food business with substantial growth aspirations did just that – and how an accountant’s advice, mentoring and connections made a difference.

Setting the ball rolling (Case Study)

In this section, Alan tells the story of a business school teacher with a passion for introducing young people to football, his advice needs and some of the inner workings of a Government-guaranteed bank loan.

Practitioners and In-House Finance Teams:  Zero Sum Game or Relay Race?

In this section, Alan explains the need for in-house finance capabilities in SMEs, what practitioners can do to nurture these, and why external accountants should see in-house finance teams as partners rather than competitors.

Providing Value Added Services to SMEs

In this section, Alan discusses the thorny issue of providing value added services to SME clients. SMEs are rarely happy to be ‘sold to’ in the best of times – yet helping clients grow their businesses depends on advice that goes beyond tax, reporting and general compliance. How can practitioners ensure their clients have access to the right advice while retaining their trust?

Demonstrating value to SME owner-managers

In this section, Alan suggests some ways in which external advisers and in-house finance teams can convince SME owner-managers that they are adding value to the business and that building financial capabilities is a good investment.

You can follow Alan on Twitter - @WoodsSquared or you can go to his practice website


Managing Second Stage Growth: An interview series guest starring ACCA

In 2012, ACCA contributed to a series of expert interviews created by Impulsa Business Accelerator on second stage businesses and growth.

The second stage growth cycle is the transition period during which a company transforms from being a startup to become a mature organization. This is a particularly trying period in the company lifecycle; Impulsa call it "company adolescence", as it brings to mind many of the troubles and hurdles a teenager faces while moving into adulthood.  

As a company gets solid traction in the market and starts to receive steady streams of revenue it often gets sucked into the daily operations of running a business. The balance between running the day-to-day activities, developing the business further, and sharpening its competitive advantage, is difficult to manage.  

This interview series brings together experts from a broad range of fields share their views, experiences and best practices for how to manage the second stage of growth and transition a business from small to large.

The full series of interviews can be accessed here

Last updated: 4 Jun 2013