Knight Transaction Services Turns One Year Old!
Here are 7 Lessons We Learned In Our First Year in Business
This week, Knight Transaction Services is celebrating its one-year business birthday. And it has been one heck of a year!
The best-laid plans don’t work out for everyone, and statistics show that around one in five new UK businesses fails in their first year. Add in a first-time entrepreneur, a woman-led business, and launching against a wave of COVID-related bankruptcies, and the odds were stacked against us from the start.
Yet, thanks to our incredible employees, clients and networks, we’re standing strong and growing faster than we could ever have imagined. Here are a few lessons that we learned in our first year of business that I’d love to share with you.
1. Work with clients who matter to you
Before founding Knight Transaction Services, I’d reached the point in my corporate career where I felt like an insurance policy. Yes, the deals were high value and high profile – the type of transactions you read about in the business pages – but the environment was too commercial and too blue chip. I’m in my element in the owner-managed space where I can get under the skin of the business and develop close relationships with people.
From day one, we knew these clients were our sweet spot. We weren’t taking on the smaller deals until the next big thing came along – these were the clients that mattered to us; where we felt we could add value. One thing that I didn’t expect is that our clients would be as invested in our business as we were in theirs. They appreciate that we’re founders too, and are taking on similar entrepreneurial risk. Our values align, and that makes all the difference.
To our clients, thank you for your unending support. It means the world to us.
2. Be flexible in your approach
The best advice I received came from a lady who had also broken away from a bigger firm to start up on her own. She said, “don’t worry about everything being just so. Say yes to every opportunity, and worry about how it gets delivered later.” This became one of our core business values and it still rings true.
When a client asks for something, we have a willingness to say “yes.” Yes, we may be in uncharted waters. But the world doesn’t work how you expect it to and you never know where these opportunities are going to lead – an important deal, a lesson learned, a valuable partnership. Saying “yes” has pushed us to scale, and quickly. Because if you keep saying “yes,” you have to step up to meet the expectations and requirements that are out there.
3. Trust your vision
One of the best pieces of work that we won came from a cold connection – the client had simply Googled us to find a due diligence provider. This was a London-based business with a New York office that was buying the customer base of a software firm in California. So, a really niche piece of work.
All these factors together represented everything we stood for as a business. It confirmed that there are clients out there with targets they want to acquire, who don’t want a generic scope of service. This was proof of our business plan, and a huge confidence boost.
4. Enjoy the support of your communities
The support from the advisory community has been the biggest surprise of the whole journey. People are so incredibly supportive and generous with their advice. It has made me realise just how much a kind word of praise or a thumbs up means to somebody, because we know how much that meant to us. As a business, we’ll be making an effort to pay it forward.
We’ve been blessed to have picked up some awards over the past year. We had a double win at the 2021 Young Talent Awards, took Accountant of the Year at the Young Insider North West awards and I’ve made the shortlist for the Rising Star award at the North West Rainmaker Awards. This award is chosen by the advisory community – there are no submissions – so it means a lot.
5. Hire people who get it, regardless of experience
Our model is to grow from the bottom. We’re actively looking for people who have just qualified or are about to qualify, so we can train them up the ‘Knight Way’. All the content we put out on LinkedIn – whether it’s about deal completion, awards we’ve won or team news – speaks to our culture and mindset. And it’s attracting the right type of people – proactive personalities who are prepared to push themselves forward and help shape a business in its embryonic stage.
For the right people, the benefits you reap with us could be so much greater than the bigger-firm career track.
6. Plan, but be agile
As we move into year two, our plans include giving our two new recruits the attention and training they need and deserve, exploring key opportunities in London, and linking up with the smaller PE firms that we have synergies with. Like every ambitious business, we have a clear plan for growth.
On the flip side, we’re determined to adapt as we grow. We’re still a small team with a fledgling business – we have to be fluid and prepared to change our vision at any point. Some things will work, others won’t. We’ll continue to focus on the positives, learn from the negatives, and seize opportunities when they arise.
7. Back yourself
It sounds cliche, but you have to back yourself. You can’t create confidence externally; it needs to come from you. And while experience can give you a certain level of confidence, at some point, you have to take the leap.
The more risks you take, the more you build up your confidence bank. This creates a positive feedback loop where you are prepared to take more risks. Everything is a cycle. The more you pedal that wheel, the faster it turns and the further you go. It’s amazing what you can achieve with the right mindset!