Starling Bank founder Anne Boden MBE pens her first column in the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine.
With a million-plus accounts and rising, it’s still hard to believe that Starling Bank was a pretty much unknown start-up less than three years ago. Our first service, a mobile-only current account, only became widely available in May 2017, and it wasn’t until a year later that we launched our business account. While Starling has been on an accelerated and exhilarating journey, we are still acutely aware of the challenges that face SMEs. Just like any innovator, we faced numerous challenges along the way, from investor scepticism, to regulatory hurdles, to finding and motivating a talented team to bring alive the idea of a new digital bank.
In the past two years, since launching Starling’s business account, I’ve had the opportunity to observe many hundreds of interesting and innovative UK SMEs on their own entrepreneurial journeys. These businesses all play such a vital role in supporting the country’s economic health and long-term prosperity and the sheer range and creativity of them is endlessly impressive. It’s the reason why Starling is proud to sponsor GBEA, which is helping to unlock more of the entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined this country.
While everyone’s entrepreneurial journey is, of course, different, I have noticed many similarities amongst us.
One of the most important of these is a burning passion to make a difference in some way, to whatever industry you’re in. In my own case, after more than 30-years working in senior roles in so-called traditional banking, I came to the conclusion that banking was broken. It wasn’t working in the best interest of customers. My vision was to create a digital bank that helped people by making everything about money completely transparent. It led to the creation of an easy-to-use app, updated in real-time, where everyone knows what they have, what they’ve spent and where, and how much, they have spare at any given moment.
Another challenge facing all entrepreneurs is time. Or should that be a lack of it? We all need to be multi-taskers too. In the very earliest days of Starling when I was still working out of a café in the Marylebone Road, I found myself doing everything, whether it was preparing pitches for investors, or recruiting new people, writing presentations, or buying kit. I even wrote the first version of Starling’s website on WordPress. It was a juggle at the time, but there’s no better way to get to know absolutely everything about what makes a business tick.
As we’ve grown, I’m still a multitasker, although the tasks have changed and we’ve now got four different offices in London, Southampton, Cardiff and Dublin. I’ve also learned a lot of tricks to manage my time. High among them is to use technology wherever I can. There are hundreds of apps available today for SMEs. It’s still tough to take the entrepreneurial route, but with new technological innovations every day making things easier, I’m convinced that we’re entering into a golden age for business. It is great to be a part of it.
You can read the full, digital version of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine here.