When marketing freelancer James Poyser co-founded InniAccounts in 2005 with brother, Matt, and friend, Dean Foster, he could never have believed that the venture would take him to Buckingham Palace 10 years later. So he was in a state of disbelief to learn in April that the company had received the coveted Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation. It’s the UK’s highest accolade for business success and recognises those who make brand-new innovations in their field. InniAccounts sits alongside a luxury pet food business, a company building medical machines and an environmental clean-up firm as one of 92 businesses to win the award.
To apply for the award, companies must have innovated in a way that hasn’t been done before, demonstrated outstanding commercial success and recovered all investments made. InniAccounts’ system is simple but effective: to provide freelance clients with real-time updates to their accounts and tax position. By continuously tracking a client’s finances and automatically checking HMRC’s system to apply the right tax rules, the technology dramatically reduces the time spent on going through business accounts from entire days to just a few seconds. And, of course, less time spent on admin is more time dedicated to working.
“My co-founders’ careers in engineering showed me the value of absolute precision,” says James. “We were sat around the table talking about how the accountancy solutions we had were far too complex and thought ‘there must be a better way to do it’. So we came up with the idea for something completely designed for the end user, giving them a better work-life balance and reducing stress. It’s all about simplicity; it gives you all the important info you need without the need to spend time and money learning about accountancy.”
Based in Derby with a tight-knit team of just 19 people, the innovation has established InniAccounts as a leader in its field after its founding in 2005. The company now has thousands of freelancers and contractors on its books – outperforming some London-based firms with far more staff.
James adds that understanding what customers need has helped the firm to develop the technology that underpins its success: “We wanted to take the frustration out of navigating the complex tax system and accounting rules. We took personal experience and feedback from contractors to develop a tool that genuinely reflected their needs. Achieving real-time accounting isn’t easy but it’s the bedrock of why we are in business. Now people have a trusted tool that makes doing your accounts easy and fast.
“The tech means you spend [an average of] just seven minutes per week on your finances, and we were the first people to do this,” James continues. “It uses a built-in tax engine to give you the exact amount of corporation tax due and any other taxes as necessary. Our clients are mainly IT and engineering freelancers, but we’re expanding into a whole range of sectors. We’re exploring the idea of working with the challenger banks and even co-working spaces.”
Businesses honoured with the award can use the Queen’s Award emblem for five years, a marker to show they are “the best of British business”, according to Business Secretary Sajid Javid. Previous winners claim the Queen’s Award is recognised all over the world and can help to win new export business.
The InniAccounts team has now been invited to a Royal reception at Buckingham Palace in July hosted by the Queen herself, while a Lord- Lieutenant will also be visiting the company to present the award in person.