The story of Mintmech – an agile engineering company with a new approach

Jack Berryman and business partner Laurie Thornton started their engineering business after very detailed financial projections with the help of Brixx, “We’re risk-averse engineers – we needed a clear, tested set of financial projections if we were to be ready to start a new business with money coming in straight away.”

MintMech specialise in heavy industry, mining, offshore, marine and subsea sectors, delivering safe, bespoke equipment. With over 20 years combined experience in the field and having worked as project managers on million-pound projects, Jack and Laurie both had a very good understanding of budgeting and how important the numbers are for any business. Both worked at the same large engineering firm and had to negotiate their way from being paid employees into running their own company with projects in the pipeline to pay the bills straight away.

Jack and Laurie went on a business course run by Cornwall County Council, ‘Breakthrough Cornwall’, aimed at start-ups with high growth potential. Part of the course covered financial forecasting and cash flow which were demonstrated simply on Excel. Searching to see if there was established software to run the numbers on, Jack came across Brixx. Following a free trial period, he decided to go ahead and pay a monthly fee of £15, “It’s really clever software and so easy to use. It was so useful to see the cash flow in one, two and three-year blocks”.

Needing to step from paid employment into a functioning business with money coming in meant the pair had to analyse the risk carefully, running many different financial scenarios.

“We took our engineering and commercial project-management attitude to testing and measuring. We tested scenarios with different types of funding or financing, checking to see how it affected cash flow if we paid it off slowly or quickly. We could compare this with cash-flow effects if we paid in full in advance for what we needed to start with. This built up our confidence in how we were going to approach starting the business”, says Jack.

“We’re risk-averse engineers – we needed a clear, tested set of financial projections if we were to be ready to start a new business with money coming in straight away.”

Brixx + MintMech

Brixx allowed MintMech get a firm handle on their costs by running the figures a number of different ways. They confidently established what their rates needed to be once everything had been included, in order to cover their costs and deliver income. Comparing their calculated rates with market research, the duo were confident of bringing maximum value to their prospective clients while ensuring they had a viable business.

“Being able to run a variety of scenarios on Brixx was crucial to our first year of planning.”

In preparation for their new business, Jack and Laurie set a date for resigning from their jobs and starting MintMech.

“We over-achieved on our projected figures in the first few months, it was a great start. We updated the figures taking into account self-employment factors – not every hour of your working day is chargeable plus there are sums to cover like pension and holiday leave. We balanced up the figures and as we went along, added in actual figures where our projections had been filled in to get a constantly updated picture of how we were performing. We have stayed on target!” 

“The value Brixx has brought our business has been brilliant.” 

MintMech is a small, agile engineering company with a niche service. “Running your own business means it’s your name on the drawings, there’s no big company to hide behind. Every project you undertake becomes your latest showcase,” says Jack.

“You often hear the expression ‘you need to work on your business not in it’, referring to the fact that every minute you spend doing a job that can be outsourced is costing you money. From the business course we went on, it was a possibility that we could have done our forecasting on Excel but the value for money delivered by Brixx is unbeatable. It would have taken us hours to put together the figures, never mind the slick reports which are automatically generated by Brixx.

We took the attitude that if you charge your time to your own business at an hourly rate, you need to make sure you’re adding value. The value Brixx has brought our business has been brilliant.” Jack used Brixx reports for applying for bank finance in the early stages of setting up the business. They haven’t had to take original loans which they forecast because they won big contracts in the first few months.

Modelling MintMech scenarios

With Brixx, you can switch items on and off easily to model scenarios for your own business. Jack has recommended the software to three other businesses completely different from his own – a restaurant, a holiday let and a building firm.

“It’s very adaptable to any business. The building blocks are funding, assets, marketing and standard costs which can be added or taken out. You can model the scenarios with accelerated growth due to funding or advertising spend, or slow the business growth down to see how those factors change the outcome. We were able to look at how two months of no new business would affect our cash flow, giving us some worst-case situations to think through.” Jack was able to plan ahead for how they would grow the company.

Brixx has an element for adding in employees – how many months they will be employed for, on costs and an adjustable salary to see if it’s affordable for the business. In the early planning stages, MintMech made regular use of the online chat function which was very useful for them in extending their knowledge of what could be done with the software.

While there are many other competitors on the market, only a few are UK-based. Another thing Jack liked about Brixx is their understanding of UK corporate tax. “We could work out dividends, tax, cost of sales and projections for corporate tax. Our accountant has been very impressed with Brixx too.”

So what does the future hold for MintMech? “Our plan is simply to make it through the first couple of years of trading and to stay on track with our Brixx forecasts. We’d like to start employing more staff at the end of 2019 and possibly move to new offices.” 

With less than a year of trading under their belts, Jack and Laurie have won an EU grant for funding. Part of the selection process was presenting a business plan with detailed finances. Feedback from the selection committee was that few other applicants were able to supply such detailed financial projections. “Thanks again, Brixx!”.

James Beer 11th April 2019 By
 

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