Member Story

Robert Ross

Umbrella Cyber

From the British army to running a limited company: Discover Robert's self-employed story with Crunch

Robert Ross
Umbrella Cyber
Line of work
Cyber & IT Security Services
Crunch Service
Limited company premium
Member Since
August 1, 2020

Get in touch with Robert Ross

With 23 years in the British/Royal Corps, getting used to regular civilian life again was daunting. Fast forward to 2023, and Robert never would have imagined he would be self-employed and running his own business, Umbrella Cyber.

Robert shares with us the stages of his career, the impact this had on his life outside of work, and how using Crunch has helped the running of Umbrella Cyber.

Why did you choose to go self-employed? Was there something that influenced this decision?

Robert shared his thoughts with us from when he was still in the army and how he felt about going back to a ‘normal’ life and a full-time job:

“In 2019, I came to the end of a very rewarding 23-year career in the British Army / Royal Corps of Signals ready to embark on a daunting journey into a civilian world that was completely alien to me. As a soldier, you follow a chain of command and take orders accordingly, so typically, being your ‘own boss’ isn’t a thing until the dreaded ‘resettlement’ last year (in a blink of an eye) is upon you.”

He continues to explain that “I often toyed with the idea of going self-employed, however, that option was always ruled out as my thoughts often ended at the same conclusion. Feeling that I had no idea what I was doing or that I wasn’t good enough to do such a thing. Much of this thought process was, of course, a result of being somewhat institutionalised from being in the Army for 23 years which inevitably contributed to my decision to accept a full-time job a couple of months later.”

Like Robert, most people talk themselves out of becoming self-employed due to not knowing the processes and where to start. The fear of doing something wrong. A scary thought when you have responsibilities and no guaranteed financial stability.

He goes on to tell Crunch how he felt when he chose full-time permanent employment:

“Six months into my job role and I felt completely unsatisfied. Unsatisfied that my skill set was not being utilised effectively and opportunities that were initially promised just simply never materialised. Shortly after, the world was hit with an unprecedented pandemic and I was given the option to take furlough. I took it and unbeknown to me at that time, was that such a decision would be the trigger point and opportunity for me to reevaluate my career and revisit the self-employment thoughts I had previously disregarded due to lack of ability and confidence.”

“My self-employment journey started here and at this point, I had gained approx. 1.5 years of working experience within the civilian/commercial world which would now be hugely beneficial. My perception had completely changed, and I now felt that self-employment and becoming a limited company owner was actually not out of my grasp and the decision was subsequently made to go for it.”

Like many others, Robert felt the impact of the pandemic after being put on furlough, but this allowed him to focus on what he wanted. What did he want to do with his career? What would make him happy? His confidence in himself and his abilities had grown, and his experience behind him now aided his belief in himself. Many find that no time feels perfect to start up a business, but with the right resources at your disposal, like a simple accounting software such as Crunch, it can be a lot easier to navigate. From Robert’s new found confidence and determination, Umbrella Cyber was born in July 2020. But first, he had some challenges to address in his personal life:

“Before moving forward with this significant career change and full-time job resignation, I had some challenges to address in my personal life. Firstly, I needed to have the full backing of my family as they would all be impacted in some way due to the scale of what I was wanting to do. Secondly, I had to ensure that losing a regular salary wouldn’t put my family and me at financial risk, as a new business venture may take time to provide income or fail. Having put some contingencies in place to provide them with some assurances, my family then got firmly behind me to start the journey ahead.”

Once he had the support from his friends and family, he needed a business plan - “to stand a chance of having any form of success, I needed to have a viable business plan in place. Much time was spent researching, taking advice, and building networks, and eventually, the process officially started and Umbrella Cyber was officially born in July 2020.”

His self-employed journey has had its ups and downs and required lots of hard work and time to get it to the established place it is now 2.5 years later and still growing. But he confidently states that it’s the best decision he’s made and intended to continue growing further.

““The journey has provided many highs and lows but perseverance and grit have played a huge part in overcoming them along with luck. Now in January 2023, the company is going from strength to strength, and having started with just me in my home office with just a laptop, I now have two employees and am already planning for a third. I am extremely proud of how things currently are from where they came from.”

“Becoming self-employed has by far, been the best decision I ever made despite bringing an immense amount of unknown, uncertainty, and pressure into my life. I have exceeded my expectations and I am a lot happier than I ever was in employment.”

What is your business and what do you do?

Umbrella Cyber, provides Cyber / IT security services. The service that kick-started the company was Immediate Incident response carrying out digital forensics for companies who had fallen victim to cyber-attacks ranging from Phishing emails to major Ransomware, helping them find a root cause and recover back to a production state. During this time, we invested in the company to become a qualified certification body for the Cyber Essentials scheme. Cyber Essentials has become our main core competency today.”

Robert tells us how his experience in the Royal Signals influenced the business he created - “Throughout my time in the Royal Signals, I was predominately employed as an IT engineer carrying network and system administration roles. My final five years were spent in Hereford, supporting a special user group as an IT security specialist most notably in Cyber defence. Having trained, studied, and gained many industry-recognised qualifications it was the most obvious path to choose. IT security was something I enjoyed immensely and was very passionate about.”

Having work satisfaction is something many look at as a lucky position to be in. But, anyone can do it when you start your own business doing something you’re passionate about. Robert took the chance on his business, grafted hard, and now owns his own company doing something he enjoys. Having a passion for your work often leads to motivation and having the energy to work hard. Having the right mindset and work ethic is what got Umbrella Cyber to where it is today. But with no prior knowledge of how to run a business, tax obligations, and financial organisation involved, how did he manage to do it? Robert joined Crunch and found that all of his worries disappeared. If you’re starting a limited company, you can leave all the hassle to us as we can register your business for you.

What have you liked about using Crunch? How has it helped/impacted your business?

“Everything. I absolutely love the service and they really have negated the need for me to have a traditional accountant in place and have helped me at every step of the way in my journey so far” says Robert.

“The first thing that struck me was just how intuitive the Crunch platform is to the point I really enjoy using it. Navigation is easy and the automation works perfectly. I’m confident that even a non-technical/computer-literate person would get to grips with it with relative ease. I can easily keep on top of everything, plan and understand what’s always going on at all times, and with daily notifications it won’t let you forget important timelines.”

When you join Crunch we provide you with the support you need to get to grips with your accounting. We understand that starting a business can be daunting and that there’s so much to learn. That’s why our expert advisors are always on hand to help you navigate our software and assist with any finance queries. We even have the option to speak 1-2-1 with a qualified accountant. Letting a traditional accountant handle your accounting not only wastes more of your money but leaves you waiting for questions to be answered and you won’t have full control over your tax and financial affairs. Joining Crunch saved Robert time, money, and stress, so he could feel confident in running his business.

He tells us more about his experience with us:

“The platform for me is fantastic and fully packed with features such as the crunch expenses app that saves me so much time doing them as this effectively does it for me with just a photo. Self-assessment questionnaires are painless, as the platform automates much of this process so took only a matter of minutes to complete, and reconciling expenses with associated bank statements are an absolute breeze as are my quarterly VAT returns.

Using Crunch software, you can easily track your finances as you go using our range of features and tools. For example, try our SnapApp. Take a picture of your receipt anywhere, anytime, and get it automatically recorded in your Crunch account. Gone are the days of storing your receipts for the whole year and spending hours, if not days, adding your expenses up.

We also provide a Self Assessment service so we can make your next tax return stress-free. Get the peace-of-mind that you’ve filed correctly when our ACCA & AAT qualified accountants complete, check, and file your tax return to HMRC on your behalf.

We are proud of our superstar team who support each and every one of our clients - “Speaking of the team, the supernovas who were assigned to Umbrella Cyber have been amazing since day one. It’s always a pleasure calling them when I have issues or queries as they are all so very friendly and their professionalism is second to none. My issues and questions are always resolved or answered in quick time. It gives me peace of mind that when I need help, Crunch has my back.”

“Having Crunch on board has taken so much stress away from the whole self- employment process which has enabled me to be more productive and efficient in my work as well as saving me money. They are like remote tutors as my knowledge has been developed through their expert consultancy over the years and I am so much more comfortable with accountancy in general as a result.”

“Crunch Accounting are keepers for the long term and all I need to do now is convince all

my friends and peers to go self-employed so I can take full advantage of the up to £100 reward by recommending Crunch to them all through their refer a friend scheme!”

What made you choose Crunch over any other option such as a traditional accountant or a competitor?

We hear why Robert decided to stay away from a traditional accountant and found Crunch based on just a friend’s recommendation:

“When running a company was nothing more than just a thought in my mind, getting an accountant to look after the accounts I had decided was the first business decision I was going to make. I had zero understanding of the tax systems, general accounting, or bookkeeping.”

“I had never heard of Crunch accounting until my close friend and ex-Army colleague Dez, who had already been encouraging me to become self-employed, told me about the service. As a customer himself, he explained that with something like Crunch and the way the platform is designed along with its biggest strength, the support team available, even clueless newbies like me can manage their company accounts effectively and save themselves money at the same time.”

He continues… “I was initially reluctant to proceed with Crunch, as I felt that I would be completely out of my depth and would still need an accountant even with these other digital services available; however, eventually I signed up. Within days of using the service, everything changed and all concerns along with my desire to hire an accountant were completely gone. I now had the confidence that I could now run the company accounts myself and more importantly, save money and have less overhead during a period where money was extremely tight.”

Our subscriptions are designed for businesses and startups or all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re an accounting expert who just wants to get their accounting done, or someone who is new to the accounting world and needs some extra guidance, we’re designed for everyone.

We love hearing about our wonderful clients like Robert and Umbrella Cyber as we get to see the people and businesses flourish. Robert’s confidence in his abilities and accounting knowledge before he became self-employed and joined Crunch was low, but seeing how our clients can progress and learn the ways of running a business gives others the confidence to do the same.

So, if you’re concerned about how little you know about running your own company, recording expenses, or completing a tax return, don’t fear - Crunch is here with step-by-step guides and articles, informative videos, expert advisors, and qualified accountants to give you all the tools you could need to make your journey a success.

We asked Robert for any last comments on his own experience or his time with Crunch. He gave us just two words… “Thank you”.

Get in touch with our friendly advisors to discover how we can help you and your business. Or, signup today and enjoy 14 days completely free so you can see just how easy accounting can be.

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