In July’s Tomorrow’s Leaders we caught up with Stuart McClure from LovetheSales.com. This month, we are talking to Libby James, co-founder of Merchant Advice Service about how she got where she is, what her greatest achievements have been and if she has any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs to help them get on the right track. Merchant Advice Service exists to help small to medium sized businesses make the best decisions when it comes to processing card payments. They aim to provide impartial advice that makes card payment transactions more transparent and easier to understand.
What’s your career story in a nutshell?
I worked within estate agency for ten years before meeting David, my business partner, while working as a Mortgage Broker. We started Merchant Advice Service to address the lack of transparency within the card payment industry. Coming from a financial background, we both felt we could make a positive change within the merchant services market.
What has been your proudest career moment, so far?
Our advisors make me proud on a daily basis, which sounds very cheesy but it’s true! We often place businesses who struggle to get card processing from the mainstream banks and providers or have been served notice by their existing provider, leaving them without payment processing. Our advice-based service helps these businesses grow on a daily basis, which I believe is something to be incredibly proud of.
Describe your workspace. Are you tidy or organised chaos?
We try to be as paper-free as possible, so I guess I’m pretty tidy. My workspace is a positive one with pictures my children have drawn me, photographs and postcards. It helps me remain focused, keeping in mind why I work so hard.
Which stationery item could you not live without?
I’m a list girl – so I love my weekly planner and a good highlighter!
Who is your business Idol and why?
This one’s easy – Tim Ferris, he wrote a book which my business partner and I love, The 4-Hour Work Week. While nowhere near a 4-hour work week, both David and I apply the principles found within his books and blog posts on a daily basis. This became the core of Merchant Advice Service, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would highly recommend the book to anyone thinking of starting their own company.
Give us a snapshot of your average day
No two days are the same at Merchant Advice Service, because we help so many different types of businesses. I spend most of my time building relationships with banks and brokers, managing client applications and writing content for our website. The days just fly by. We tend to map out our ‘to-do list’ on a monthly basis, which helps me to achieve everything required of me within a set timeframe.
Tea or Coffee?
I didn’t like hot drinks until recently, but now I love peppermint tea.
Which workplace habit can you not stand?
I can’t stand people eating at their desks! We’re all busy, but I like our advisors to take a break and eat a proper lunch. There is nothing more annoying than crumbs in your keyboard!
What advice would you give to people starting their own business?
Patience is everything – work hard and make progress every day, as long as you are doing this with a clear plan of action, everything will happen in time. I’m also a firm believer in joining local networking groups, it’s wonderful to bounce ideas off like-minded businesspeople.
How do you switch off?
Although this has taken me time to perfect, it’s important to have phone/laptop-free time. I found myself helping with the kids’ homework while replying to work emails, meaning I was doing neither to the best of my ability. Now I have structured work times and designated ‘tech-free time’ with my family.
What’s next for Merchant Advice Service? Do you have any plans for the Future?
We have just started offering clients advice on alternative business finance. We’d really like to expand this area of the business. We understand things aren’t always straightforward, so we want to assist companies in more complex situations.
Would you like to be featured in our Tomorrow’s Leaders series? Let us know on Twitter @Viking_Chat.