Each week we catch up with a different entrepreneur to discover what makes them tick, their top tips and more. This week we spend five minutes with Darren Fell, founder and CEO of online accountancy firm with a difference, Crunch.
Hi Darren! What is Crunch and what do you do?
We’re an online accounting solution for small businesses. We’re different from traditional accountants and set out with an aim to turn the industry on its head. We currently offer support, software and accountants for our clients out of our lovely offices in central Hove.
What time does your typical day usually start and end?
I really love to be in the office as much as I can. We open at 9am and I often get in earlier than this to go through emails and connect with the team as they arrive. I usually work until 6pm, sometimes later – it really depends on how much work I’ve got on that week.
What inspired you to start your business and what made you want to be your own boss?
I worked in telecoms for years and it just got to the point where I’d had enough. I walked into my boss’ office and quit, then started putting together ideas for businesses. I’ve never liked big corporates so I was determined any business I built wouldn’t be like that.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge has been the sheer weight of the project. If you want to challenge something that hasn’t been done before, there’s going to be a reason why no-one else has done it. Combining an accountancy firm and a software house – both of which I had limited experience in – was really hard.
Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you overcome them?
I made my biggest mistakes in my first company Pure 360. Every mistake I learnt at Pure has helped me manage Crunch better; for example, ensuring that Crunch had a strong architecture, HR is done correctly, and not cutting any corners at all and doing everything properly .
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone looking to start their own business?
The best piece of advice I would give to someone starting their own business is really know what you’re going to do. Set out a mission of what you want to achieve over a period of time. Think about it, write it down, stick it on the wall, and it will come true. Make sure the whole team buys into the mission and you’re all working towards the same thing.
Would you do anything differently if you could start again from scratch?
I’d be smarter about our value proposition. When we launched the online accounting software market was very buzzy with lots of well-funded startups entering the fray. We tried to compete with them directly, but after a few months we realised people we coming to us because we were accountants with nice software – that’s what makes us unique. All our marketing reflects that now.
Finally, what do you do to relax away from the hustle and bustle of work?
I love nothing more than spending time with my partner and my son to unwind. Making time for friends is equally important, and remembering to turn off email notifications – I’m a firm believer in a good work/life balance.
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