Dear Luc: Can my start-up succeed while working from home?
In Dear Luc, we answer the questions the industry’s fintech founders are too afraid to ask, and solve the problems they don’t want their VCs to know about.
From regulation readiness to technology teething troubles, our start-up agony uncle, Luc Gueriane, is here to help.
Luc has over seven years’ experience working with flagship fintechs like Revolut, Wise (formerly TransferWise), Monzo and Curve.
His expertise and extensive work in the fintech ecosystem mean that Luc is able to offer unique insight into the building of a successful fintech company.
Confession #9: Home working blues?
Could I run my year one start-up whilst working from home? Do I need a London address?
If you had asked me pre-March 2020 I might have given you a different response; however, COVID really has changed everything.
Having been in the industry for a long time and also being one of the few people in my company that doesn’t live on the outskirts of London, it would’ve been hard for me to visualise a time when I wasn’t in the city for the majority of the working week.
But with over 15 months at home and only a few trips to see colleagues in person, my view has entirely changed.
As our company has been operating for a good number of years now, I can say that we were in the fortunate position of having already established ourselves and our ways of working ahead of the pandemic.
Had we been an early-stage start-up things may have been different, as there is so much complexity that comes with those first few years of business.
But to answer the question more directly, your year one start-up could be run with you working completely from home and outside of London. However, there are some considerations that I’d bear in mind beforehand:
First, make sure that however you operate your business it adheres to the requirements of the FCA and Companies House.
You may have an entirely digital by default workforce, but you’ll need to make sure that you have a registered office address to appear on the Financial Services Register. Make sure you’re aware of what the FCA calls ‘firm details’, which need to be published for your business.
Second, think about how often you might need to be in London going forward.
With things starting to open-up again, you must make sure that you’re not going to end-up spending more on travel and hotel costs to meet partners and clients, or go to events, than it would cost you to have a small office or a membership to a co-working space.
This is especially important, as some London rents have gone down recently.
Also, whilst the main fintech scene is currently concentrated in London, there are many cutting-edge solutions being launched up and down the UK.
With the Kalifa Review announcing earlier this year the proposed creation of regional fintech “hubs”, what you may have previously needed from a trip to London might be coming a little closer to home in the coming years.
Third, think about what tools you might need to invest in to ensure your project management and creativity is at the level you would like it to be whilst working from home.
Some employees may still look back fondly at having brainstorming sessions with a whiteboard and pen but that doesn’t mean that is the only way to do things.
Sites like Mural, Slack and Monday have become more popular than ever in this last year and go a long way in replicating office collaboration.
Fourth, keep your business model in mind at all times, including a forecast of your recruitment needs.
Some of the positives of being remote include being able to hire talent from all over and enabling flexibility that might not be possible in an office environment. However, by not providing a central working space this may prohibit people from applying.
A recent Raconteur study showed that the majority of people would like a combination of working at home and in an office, with the smallest number of people wanting to be fully based at home.
Being adaptable with your approach and taking your colleagues’ needs into consideration will be a major factor in ensuring staff retention.
To conclude, it’s entirely possible for your year-one start-up to be completely run from home and outside of London.
There just needs to be a clear game plan in place to ensure you’re constantly working towards your business model.
By adopting the right software for office collaboration, constantly evaluating long-term efficiency, and ensuring your employees are comfortable and supported, working from home is likely to mean less overheads.
These elements, coupled with a realistic and selective attitude to budgeting for in-person travel and event attendance, could certainly work for your business. And as the pandemic has proven in most cases, working from home won’t hinder your success.
Do you have an embarrassing question you want answered, or a seemingly unsolvable problem you’d want help with? Post an anonymous comment below, or email FinTech Futures’ Alex Hamilton in confidence.
YOU CAN READ ALL OUR AGONY UNCLE STORIES HERE