Despite any encouragement that every recent Government be it Labour, Conservative or Coalition always proffers about supporting small businesses, it will never be easy to start a business and make it work and grow year on year without some serious chutzpah and an earnest amount of graft, heart and ambition.
PLMR is maybe not a typical business either. I find it difficult to believe that it is the norm for one person with a plan not only to consistently win and service clients to the highest competitive levels, but to welcome and encourage the emerging talents of a new generation to come on the same journey and make it exciting, addictively even, for them too. Even I, a busy mother of three (notwithstanding the dog) find myself caught up in the heady maelstrom and wonder how it happened that I care so deeply about a business which I had never heard of less than two years ago?!
I suppose, without getting too philosophical for an accountant, that where a business is often defined purely by its commercial activity, actually what is just as important is where it stands in terms of its social responsibilities. Deep, no? But actually critical. Because a socially responsible small business will not only choose clients whose causes are good, but drill down further and they will behave with integrity not just to clients but to staff, they will want the best for all of their stakeholders which will cost money, and they will look after those weaker than themselves when they can.
And this will generate success. At the heart of it all are the people, and how we behave to each other, and doing what we think is important and right. The outcome of that for me is that I can combine my family life with my working life for an employer I would be happy to put myself out for, if ever I needed to. And I am not sure I would ever have thought I would say that!
So Happy 5th Birthday PLMR! I was asked to write a piece about the development of the business over the last five years – but really, the obvious business stuff: the cash flow issues, the new business targets, the recruitment and HR matters, are obvious. What is not obvious is why any of us would care, except for the superficial grasping for mammon. The answer is that we believe in the product, in how it is shared, in who it is for, and in the people who are creating it. Yes, deep stuff for an accountant.
Chivonne Preston is Company Secretary and Head of Finance of PLMR Ltd, having joined in July 2009. She qualified as an ACA with Ernst & Young and worked as an Auditor in their Entrepreneurial Services London Office with a wide range of blue chip clients. She has Masters degrees from both the London School of Economics and Oxford University where she also gained her undergraduate degree at St John’s College.