Client Stories: A Dive into Design Marque’s Growth Journey

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Client: Sarah Ray, Founder of Design Marque

A deep dive into the great working relationship between client Design Marque and LHP.

What’s your background?

I’m from a creative background, Art College qualified in 1988, graphic design became my strength and I gained employment as a graphic designer at a printers in 1988. I worked there 4 years and was made redundant while pregnant. My art college course featured an element of Business Studies. This kicked into play straight away and I wrote a business plan to approach the bank for a loan to start our own design and print business.

My business plan worked and we opened our print shop doors in January 1993. We worked long hours and faced many challenges. The business grew and we started employing staff. It grew some more. We bought out another printers and a small advertising company we’d been doing printing for. By 1996 we had 3 businesses and 7 staff. In 2004 the businesses split and we went our separate ways.

I accepted the small advertising company as part settlement and brought it into the 21st century with a rebrand and online presence but it was not my ‘happy’. I needed to get back to designing full time. It was at this point that LHP became my accountant (2005). LHP helped me gain a new perspective on my business so I could grow, supplying quality, affordable, graphics, printing, web design and publishing assets locally and nationally.

What problem did you need to solve in 2005?

Having been in business and self-employed since age of 25, I knew how problematic staff issues could be. Laws were ever-changing and updating, payroll was no fun at all and there was the need to produce updated contracts of employment. It was also difficult to know how and when was the best time to write off and upgrade equipment. As a creative, I’m imaginative and visual. Managing payroll and staffing matters was not my forte.

Long-term responsibilities of getting staff payroll correct and dealing with sick pay and VAT returns were all crushing any creativity I had left. My best work is done when the decks are clear of all paperwork niggles, bills and invoicing. I’m then free to think, create and connect with clients on their projects.

I began to feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities that came with the advertising company, its huge contracts (1 million items a year), managing 3 staff (payroll, holidays, sick pay) moving a paper-based business online and raising my 2 girls.

Why did you choose LHP?

I had an initial meeting with Director Eirian Humphreys at LHP in 2005 and told him all that was going on and he offered me some sound advice which turned into a huge plus for the business. He was a great help, with his extensive knowledge base and good advice.

At the time of approaching LHP, my small advertising company was dragging me down, the staff responsibilities, payroll, and VAT returns felt like I was juggling or plate spinning. I wasn’t able to enjoy the design process with these responsibilities pulling on me.

LHP took over the management of our staff payroll, VAT returns and the tax returns – what a relief. By 2010 I started Design Marque, using my design, print and publishing skills and created a ‘1-stop-shop’ for businesses needing these services.

After a meeting with Eirian in 2011/12 I decided to sell the advertising business to staff and concentrate on Design Marque. Eirian was excellent at advising myself and staff, who were soon to become their own cooperative. He also dealt with contracts and oversaw the dissolution of business. Since then I have regularly sought Eirian’s advice on future business planning and he’s been a tremendous asset, advising on pros and cons of various business ideas.

What benefits have you seen?

The benefits of working with LHP are immense. From needing sound advice in the early days with support on staffing issues like payroll, contracts, sick pay and VAT returns, to the present day with cloud accounting software, which makes the whole accounts process so much easier.

LHP has a range of specialists, which means that as your business grows and diversifies, you feel assured they have your best interests at heart. I can honestly say no matter how big or small your concern, they’re qualified and trained to help.

By using LHP and regularly communicating my business ideas, LHP enabled me to release aspects of the business that were not making me happy and grow my business in areas where I thrive. I’m happy creating and designing. Design Marque is evolving and soon there will be a very unique design service available – so watch this space. 🙂

Let’s Talk

We hope this client’s success story was an inspiring read. For more information on how we can help you as a business, please don’t hesitate to jump on Let’s Talk and we can catch up at your convenience. With over 85 years’ experience in helping businesses thrive, adapt and grow and 5 offices across South Wales, you are in safe hands.

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