NB: - Factotum is a disruptive business outsourcing firm revolutionising the market for the provision of back-office services by offering whatever a business might need all under one roof. Where did this one-stop-shop, can-do attitude, and experience to fulfil this bold service offer come from?

BL: -In 2003, I built the UK's first small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) outsourcing team within the accounting profession. I've always taken a holistic approach to my clients' businesses. It's never been just about the numbers but looking at the different areas of the business and joining the dots in the right way to support continued growth, as well as helping a businss operate more efficiently and effectively.

From the beginning, I always had the intention of expanding this service provision away from just accountancy to all of the other back-office services that a business may require. Traditionally, these were delivered by multiple service providers. This is not only inefficient as they do not normally work together but costly and provides little flexibility for business owners. Factotum does not offer a one-size-fits-all service, instead bespoke relationships are built and tailored to the specific requirements of every client. Each client is unique and the way in which we work with them is adapted. The plan was to ensure a client would never need to outsource anything to anyone else again from their HR, IT, and Marketing to their accounting and everything in between.

NB: - Did you see yourself as an entrepreneurial accountant, or simply an entrepreneur?

Both! Twenty years ago, I think I would have been regarded as more of an entrepreneurial accountant as I sought to challenge the way a client worked with their accountant. I moved away from hourly rates to a monthly fee, so clients were comfortable building relationships without the dreaded surprise bill.

Now, many accountants realise they are at the heart of their client's business. They provide the technical expertise alongside the strategic advice needed to help their clients achieve their goals and have become far more entrepreneurial.

NB: - Given your background and experience in outsourcing, was Factotum an immediate success?

We set up Factotum just three weeks before the pandemic. In the early stages, it was challenging, as we all navigated what the new world and way of working meant for both our businesses and our families. Initial growth was restricted by our ability to generate new work as it was a very uncertain time for everyone.

When the world restarted, we experienced explosive growth both within the team and the client base and have never looked back.

Business owners realised that the best way to grow was by letting go of the areas where they did not have relevant experience. They could reduce their fixed costs by outsourcing and build flexibility into their business should future challenges arise.

With no minimum term contracts or notice periods we were able to give clients the ability to partner with Factotum in a way that genuinely worked for them.

NB: - Is there such a thing as a typical customer for Factotum?

BL: - No, we work with businesses of all shapes and sizes at different stages of their journey. It's not about size, but about giving them the appropriate business services and advice that they require at the right time.

We have a global client base in the UK, Europe, and the US ranging from very small start-ups to global brands. We have helped a small business start with everything from their staff contracts, website, branding, IT and their accounting requirements all the way through to providing an entire international outsourced finance department for a large global brand.  We have been a fundraising department for a charity as well as running social media activity for a cleaning business.

NB: - Let's say I have a great business idea or want to grow my existing business and come knocking on your door, what's the sequence of events? would I have one account manager to access all the experience in the company or have relationships with various members of the team as my company grows?

BL: - We always start with a chat to get to know you, your business, and your goals. We will look at your individual needs and put together how we could best support you. We're skilled at matching your needs with our team's expertise and will give you one main point of contact who will manage the relationship on an ongoing basis. Depending on your needs, we could work together intensively for a couple of months to support you, or we could become an extension of your team and have someone from Factotum working from your office on a weekly basis.

NB: -  Finally as a CEO with many interests, how do you unwind at the end of the week?

My friends and family are still looking for my off switch! However, re-charging is essential.  About seven years ago, I took flying lessons and now have my private pilot's licence. At the weekend, you'll either find me in the sky somewhere over the UK, at a Spurs match with my son, or supporting my daughter who is a talented performer as the sound engineer for her events business. It seems that entrepreneurship runs in the family.

The business requirement and how Factotum supported Sassoon

Sassoon, headquartered in Los Angeles, initially appointed Factotum to handle the accountancy, bookkeeping, and payroll components of their UK business. For Sassoon, the aim was to create an efficient back-office and to work with a team that could action things quickly. It also ensured that UK employees could have a point of contact in their time zone.

The services Factotum provides have expanded to HR support for the UK and accounting support in the US and Germany. Most recently, Factotum have provided strategic and operational support to the management team around the launch of the House of Sassoon - an innovative concept of a combined salon, academy, and studio space, as well as an exclusive members club and dedicated ambassador programme.

Debbie Webster, Global CEO, Sassoon:

"One of the benefits that I've found working with Factotum is their ability to action things very quickly. We had a situation with our US team where we needed to create an accounts department very fast, and Factotum did that in under four days. They feel like an extension of the team, and to us, that's very important. Our culture is to work with people who really understand our business and can support us, and Factotum have proved that time and again."