Libby James is the co-founder and Managing Director of Merchant Advice Service. The company is based in the East Midlands, UK offering business owners free of charge advice when it comes to everything payments. The site covers PDQ machines, payment gateways and business finance working along industry experts within those fields.
Libby and her business partner David Bird, met while working within the mortgage and insurance industry. They saw a lack of transparency within the merchant services market with colleagues and friends experiencing hard sales, hidden fees and long contract lengths unbeknown to them. Due to the lack of regulation within the industry Libby and David felt that together they could bring a fresh approach to accepting card payments.
Libby oversees the company on a daily basis and takes on the important role of managing their industry blog, which aims to educate and inform clients on the card processing unknown. In a market which can be confusing one, especially when it comes to comparing accounts, her aim is to write in an informative yet straight talking manner balancing her finance experience alongside her entrepreneurial spirit.
Libby enjoys meeting likeminded business people and continues to develop relationships with banks and brokers in Euorpe and USA. In doing so, it means that Merchant Advice Service can remain at the heart of the card processing industry, keeping it’s finger well and truly on the pulse and offering clients up to date and honest advice.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Both David and I come from highly regulated financial backgrounds, we thought this would be the case in similar industries but were shocked to find that the merchant services sector lacked strict regulation, transparency and honesty, which is why we created the advice based website – aimed at business owners.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As a Managing Director my day is very mixed. I work closely with our brokers to ensure we are giving the very best advice to our clients. My time is split between over-seeing daily tasks and writing for our website to educate our readers as much as possible. I have set tasks for the day, which are set with realistic timeframes and keep me on track.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing idea’s to life only works when you have a clear plan and timescale to work towards. My business partner and I take responsibility to set tasks and have regular meetings to keep us accountable.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Contactless transactions and future technology really excites me. My eldest daughter pays for her lunches at school with her thumbprint – how cool is that??
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I love a list! I am always thinking of what I need to do next, writing a ‘to do list’ and prioritising my jobs for the day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’m my own worst critic – I would tell the 20 year old me to be kinder to myself. Sometimes it can be counterproductive to over analyse and bring you down.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I am such a spiritual person I look for signs when making decisions – which almost everyone in my life doesn’t understand!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I like to go to bed every day knowing I have made progress. Therefore I set goals for each and every day and make sure I reach them before signing off.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When we started Merchant Advice Service we tailored the site toward clients searching for card machines and ecommerce check outs. Our aim was to always leave clients better off than we found them, even if this involved straight talking advice that was difficult to hear. As we developed we came across people who have struggled to obtain business funding – so we added this string to our bow, using our financial backgrounds to help companies in need. I think adapting any strategy is import to allow the Merchant Advice Service brand to grow.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My main failure is a personal one which had a knock on effect on the business. I would work long hours and not switch off, meaning I wouldn’t be giving my best at work or at home. Finding a balance is difficult however having tech free time outside of ‘working hours’ has really helped correct this.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there is a huge market when it comes to educating people in cryptocurrency – be it a blog, online course or face-to-face training. I think the key here is to educate in layman’s terms, giving straight talking, plain English advice.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Spend it on an experience – a day out, a meal, a show – with the people you love. Life is short, money spent on quality time with good people is never wasted.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
We use Hubspot to manage our tasks and clients. It’s a wonderful CRM system – especially when you work remotely. It has some great marketing functions too.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
We’re massive fans of Tim Ferris at Merchant Advice Service – The Four Hour Work Week is a must!
What is your favorite quote?
“A Satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all” Michael LeBoeuf.
• Be kind to yourself – Analyse yourself in order to grow and improve without being too self-critical.
• Clear goals and action points will enable you to continually move forward.
• Don’t let the business rule your life – value your time with friends and family. Work life balance is everything.
• Taking tech free time is a great way to truly switch off!
Twitter – @Merchant_Advice
Facebook – @merchantadviceservice
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.