Telling the truth about SME life today

Name: Karen Paterson

Age: 51

Company: I founded international payroll company Patersons in 2001. I launched a second one this year, called Acrede

Turnover: I grew Pattersons into a £10.5m-turnover business employing 200 people and trading in five countries. I launched Acrede in April 2011 and our forecasted turnover for year one is ?806k.

First job: Retail banking. I hated it but it did teach me a great deal about process and accuracy so I don’t regret it.  

Dream job: It would have to be something animal-related. I have four horses, two dogs and a cat.  

Car: Aston Martin. I have a 2003 black Vanquish, which I adore.

Economy, business or first class: On long-haul trips, I generally travel business as I need to work and sleep. I travel economy for short flights and this also sets an example to my staff.

Most extravagant purchase: It has to be the Aston. 

Most-played song on your iPod: I tend to listen to whole albums rather than individual songs. I like all sorts of music from Elton John to Louis Armstrong, Deep Purple to Frank Sinatra.

Best business book: Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Rene Mauborgne. I’m currently doing a Doctorate in Business Administration and put this book as part of my literature review. It’s a must for anyone looking at business strategy and puts Porter to one side.

Worst business moment: Taking private equity funding into Patersons. I will write a book on this.

Proudest business moment: Winning the Real Business/CBI Entrepreneur of Year gong at the 2009 Growing Business Awards. That was a great year for me as we cleaned up most of the awards globally! 

Your business mentor: I have a handful of shareholders who are successful business people in their own right and great to bounce ideas and problems off. But being a CEO is a lonely job and you have to make decisions fast (and right) and every day.

Next big thing: Acrede, of course. Watch this space!


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