When it comes to the world of work, our parents or guardians often think they know what’s right for us. And we often rebel. That’s the story of Tony Reader. He chose to push back against a career in insurance in order to train as an electrician and ultimately run his own business, AER Electrical.

Finding your own path

“My parents wanted me to have an easy life. They were looking out for me. They wanted me to be in a warm office not on a building site,” says Tony, 45, who grew up in Dagenham. “I went straight from school at 16 into a job in insurance. But I found the work mundane and I couldn’t see myself going anywhere.”

At 19, he decided to leave insurance and go to study as an electrician. “I worked while I studied to put myself through college and I was able to move back in with my parents,” he says. “They supported me all the way when they saw how much I enjoyed meeting people and learning - you’ll never be a perfect electrician, there’s always something new to find out. I still enjoy it to this day.”

Variety in running a business

Another aspect of his job he enjoys is the variety of different places he visits. “Today, I’m fitting some lights in a dungeon in a castle,” he says. His work covers commercial and domestic buildings as well as upgrading social housing and working on schools.

Tony set up his business, AER Electrical, in 2016.

Tony started off as a contractor, working for various companies, who acted as go-betweens for him and the actual customer. “My clients always said I should set up a company and go for it on my own. I toyed with the idea for years,” he says.

In 2016, he went from contractor to sole trader and in 2018, he registered as a limited company. “I was buying more stock to install smart homes, training with Elan and Lutron lighting, so it made more sense. We want the business to evolve - you can’t just stand still,” he says. Starling business customers who are going from sole trader to limited company can make this change from the app. “It took me 5 minutes,” he says.

Tony has been following Starling’s progress ever since he opened his personal account in June 2017. He switched his business banking over as soon as we launched sole trader accounts in June 2018. “I’ve always been into cutting edge technology and when I looked into different fintechs, Starling came out best,” he says.

Tony uses Starling to manage the finances for his business.

The instant notifications customers receive whenever money moves in or out of their account is one of the most popular features. For Tony, this means that he can ask a client to pay at the end of the job and he knows that it’s been processed from his phone buzzing, without having to look at it. “The last thing I want to do is check a computer or my phone in front of a client,” he says. “With the notification, my phone buzzes and I can just thank the customer and head off.”

With Starling, everything is done in real-time, something which helps Tony with the challenge of managing the cash flow of his business. “Keeping that money rolling is a challenge for every small business,” he says. “With my old bank I’d be clobbered at the end of the month with payments I hadn’t noticed. Plus with Starling’s integration with Xero, I save even more time and can use that to train on the smart home and home cinema side of my business.”

At the moment, his other big challenge is having lots of work and not enough people to do it. “I’m training someone for permanent who’s 19 and I work with my son who’s 20. As expected from a family run business, we do have our ups and downs but it’s good to give him a bit of responsibility as he is still training.”

Find out more about Tony and his services at AER Electrical.

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