A story of faith, hope and cacti


Six years ago, I started Philip Elliott Associates in what a silver-tongued estate agent might have called an ‘easy-to-maintain living space’ – i.e. my broom-cupboard-sized home office.

Back then, despite the lack of legroom – or, come to that, headroom or arm-room – I knew that I potentially had what the equally silver-tongued Sugar Minott would have called ‘a good thing going’.

I recognised that one of the first things a new businessperson needs is faith in their product or service. And whatever else I may or may not have known at that time – how to install a printer driver, for example, or just who was it exactly that let the dogs out – I fully understood that there was a demand for the services I was offering.

Too many people I knew in business had struggled – and, in some cases, gone under – thanks to late or non-payments which they just didn’t have time to pursue themselves.

We can add value

SME’s need our services we do

The Idea

Helping you to get paid on time we can help

Hope and Cacti

That was the kernel of the idea: helping hard-working entrepreneurs, SMEs and businesses of all sizes plus sole traders –  from plumbers, bakers and builders merchants to engineers, surveyors, accountants and private schools – to get paid on time. 

One turning point was relocating from that bijou box-room to an office in a serviced block in Nottingham city centre. Not only was I relieved to have room to breathe for once, but it was also good to be in and among other people for a change.

As many of you will know, home-working is highly convenient when you’re starting out but you can go a bit stir crazy if you’re not careful and I did find I was talking to the plants perhaps a little too much.

While the Guiana Chestnut was friendly and full of useful advice, the cactus could be a bit prickly.

Moving into an office with my name on the door was, therefore, a rite of passage and a sign that I was moving up in the business world.

From Strength to Strength

The other highlight was, of course, Robyn joining the company. She arrived in 2015 as a paralegal, newly graduated in law from Nottingham Trent University and she became a director last year.

Robyn has done more than share the workload, she’s expanded it … and not just through her insistence on having office goldfish who require a strict cleaning and feeding rota.

Robyn has helped me to grow our client base and drive up our revenue by more than 20 per cent.

Of course, there have been some minor hitches along the way. We have, for example, encountered more than our fair share of work-shy fools, fops and funk-wits.

There have been the interns who turn up at 9.30am and want to eat their breakfast in the office for half an hour before enjoying a 90-minute lunchbreak and a prompt 4pm finish.

And don’t forget the would-be employees who consider looking at Facebook for two-thirds of the morning constitutes ‘work’. Should I have dared to suggest they might have knuckled down on business-related matters, I’m sure they would have told me that that they were ‘not OK’ with it.

At the other end of the work experience scale, there have been some County Court judges who have been less-than-effective in the way they dealt with our cases.

Key Additions


and the goldfish×300.jpgTestimonials

You Are The Boss

You choose what to do, when.

You choose the wine.

Just Do It

But these are merely minor irritants; if things get too much, there’s always the secret bottle of office Shiraz to keep us – me – going.

The great thing about working for yourself is that you’re in charge. No one – other than Robyn, of course – tells me what to do or when to do it. There’s no office politics, no gossiping behind people’s backs … and no idiotic management speak.

We have never seen the need to climb ‘the strategic staircase to look under the bonnet’, ‘drill down the granularity of the pipeline’ or ‘action a thought shower and touch base offline’.

To anyone thinking about taking the leap themselves, I’d say ‘do it!’.

Just keep an eye on the cactus.