Chris Pipe Top 10 Questions



How would you define financial success? To make enough to be able to do what you love both in your professional and personal life. For some making enough to pay the bills with a small surplus for indulgences is enough, for others it’s on a more ambitious scale
– to each their own.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve learned about money along the way? Not to expect everyone to pay on time. If you rely on a payment and it doesn’t materialise in the timeframe set you could be in trouble, so always think ahead. When you’re in business you can understand why so many go out of business within their first few years. The financial burden can be frightening. Always have in mind what your financial runway is.

"If you rely on a payment and it doesn’t materialise in the timeframe set you could be in trouble, so always think ahead."

If money were no object, what would you treat yourself to right now? I’d buy a house with a large annex which I could use as an office, I’m struggling to find dog-friendly office space to help with in my business growth plans. One of the perks of being self employed is that you set the terms and therefore my dogs (Fozzie and Bear) are part of my business and must be accommodated in any office.

If you could donate to any cause, what would you choose? In my profession the housing crisis is a prevalent topic. While I’ve already offered my services to a couple of Help the Homeless Charities on a pro bono basis, I’d give more to Shelter or the local charities supporting the homeless in the North East.

How easy was managing your money, when you first started your business? I have never been good at money management, which I’m not proud to admit. I struggled (and still do) with the different reports and expenses - what you can and can’t claim. Business finance is my nemesis. My first accountant didn’t support me in a way that allowed me to develop my knowledge as she feared I’d do my own accounts. She worked on the principle that knowledge is power, and it wasn’t right. I’ve now been able to find a new accountant (Kieran, the MD of Paykeeper) who is happy to explain things to me and doesn’t scoff at ‘silly’ questions, which is helping me develop.

"My business was developed on a shoestring budget like so many other businesses."

Do you have a favourite finance book, website, app, etc? I should read a finance book, but I haven’t. I watch Paykeeper vlogs, and read their blogs which are useful. I also use the Free Agent app for my accounts. You can get this for free if you are a new business and open an account with NatWest.

Who in your life has taught you the most about money? I don’t think I’ve had a lot of people who have taught me about money, which is probably why I struggle. My husband’s best friend Andy has been in business for many years and is currently in the process of selling his business. I’ve tapped into his knowledge, which has helped.

Do you have any money regrets? I wished I’d saved more during my career because starting a business can be financially draining. A financial cushion would have been useful. However it may also have meant that my business might not be at the stage it is, as initially I thought I was developing a lifestyle business rather than a one with ambitious growth plans.

What was the first thing you bought when you got paid for the first time? I wish I could say a pair of Louboutins or something exotic, but I put the money towards my website. My business was developed on a shoestring budget like so many other businesses.

Would you say you’re driven more by money, or love of your work? Definitely my passion for my profession and the flexibility and freedom you have being self-employed. I have had lucrative opportunities to work for another company while developing my business, but in the longer term its not just about money, its about doing what you love.

Chris has a wealth of experience in the town planning industry and, as former head of planning for a council and a director for a large PLC property company, she knows her way through the planning system and has a unique perspective on it.

She launched Planning House in 2016 - an independent planning consultancy based in North East England, which specialises in residential development. The ethos behind Planning House is to provide no-nonsense, realistic support and advice for clients, but with a personal service at the core of the business.

Meet the author

Tom Hayward

Senior Press & PR Officer