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Libby James: “Something each and every day to increase your knowledge base.”

Knowledge — do something each and every day to increase your knowledge base in your chosen industry. Becoming an ‘expert’ doesn’t happen overnight and staying on top of industry advances will not only keep you one step ahead of your competitors, but also provide your customers with a better service and create trust. I had […]

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Knowledge — do something each and every day to increase your knowledge base in your chosen industry. Becoming an ‘expert’ doesn’t happen overnight and staying on top of industry advances will not only keep you one step ahead of your competitors, but also provide your customers with a better service and create trust.


I had the pleasure of sitting down to interview Libby James, Co-founder of Merchant Advice Service.

Merchant Advice Service offers free of charge advice for business owners processing card payments and searching for finance online. In a predominately male orientated industry, Libby speaks of her experience within the fast-paced world of finance and plans for the future of advancing tech within the payments industry.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Libby! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Coming from a finance background, I couldn’t believe the lack of transparency within the payments industry. Fee structures were confusing, terminology was complex and hidden costs were lurking in the background. Both my business partner and I saw a clear gap in the market for a straight talking, advice-based service. From this moment the idea of Merchant Advice Service was born. It started with what soon would become my obsession — to provide customers with a service we felt was lacking in the merchant banking and card processing industry as a whole. Our aim was to help customers unravel the complexity surrounding accepting card payments and help them make informed decisions when it comes to business finance. It sounded so simple; however, we began doing something others weren’t. We’d help start-ups, businesses which were declined by high street banks and companies who had accounts terminated with little notice. Very quickly we started to make a difference to businesses owners nationwide and continue to do so.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The Card payments industry is known for its lack of regulation and often ‘pushy’ salespeople! This was something which really didn’t sit comfortably with us. We wanted to be different, we wanted to provide free advice to our customers, ensuring they could choose a card payment provider suited to their particular needs (not the ones who pay the biggest commission!) Our promise was to educate our readers, to provide expertise, but also tell them if they have a good deal with their existing provider. Our focus was on creating transparency, providing non-biased advice and most importantly putting the customer at the center of everything we do. These basics have proven to disrupt the smoke and mirrors nature of the industry.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I am very lucky to have worked closely with local business owners who all support each other. Although I’m the first to admit, networking isn’t for me — I’ve met some brilliant entrepreneurs during my time in business. I value my LinkedIn connections especially and rely on them heavily for help and make suggestions when needed. We have created a small accountability group with local businesswomen, who have become my mentors. When COVID first caused lock down in the UK, it highlighted the need for the online platform. With a click of a button you can have questions answered, seek support and inspiration from others — this is hugely important in current times.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Focus — focus on your lane. The best advice I have ever been given. Don’t get put off by competitors, or worry your business is taking a different turn.

Consistency — show up every day and take at least one step towards your business goal. Some days will be tough and others you won’t feel as productive as you might like, but consistency breeds success in the end.

Knowledge — do something each and every day to increase your knowledge base in your chosen industry. Becoming an ‘expert’ doesn’t happen overnight and staying on top of industry advances will not only keep you one step ahead of your competitors, but also provide your customers with a better service and create trust.

How are you going to shake things up next?

The aim is to bring our values and service to other areas of business finance, so recently we launched the ‘Business Banking’ section to our site and plan to do the same with Open Banking during quarter four. It had become apparent to us that company owners need non-biased advice rather than being sold to, which is proving to be a successful approach we hope to recreate in other areas of business finance.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I have recently started to use Meditainment, a site which has guided mediations covering various areas of relaxation and focus based thinking. They offered a free trial during lockdown, and now I’m hooked! Guided mediation helps me no end. I struggle to switch off, so clear structure to the day and prioritising ‘thinking time’ works well for me. Structure features heavily in our thinking as a business and is proven to breed success as highlighted in the book being Tim Ferris — Tools of Titans which is one of my favourites.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Thanks — I’m not sure about that! I think we’ll keep banging the drum for transparency within business finance, primarily card processing which is always our main focus. I know this will help business owners from making costly mistakes. There is huge regulation within personal borrowing, such as the mortgage market, I’d love to be able to influence a similar movement within card processing. I’d also like to be part of a movement that creates transparent sourcing system for deals which the customer can clearly view. Sadly, it’s going to be a long-term fight for the greater good of businesses owners, however in the meantime I hope our education-based site will allow others to make informed decisions and ultimately shape the industry and others like it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘You live most of your life inside your head, make sure it’s a nice place to be’. Ensuring that you think positively will allow you to give your best and create further positivity. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy, so I remind myself of this quote regularly. I aim to bring positivity to others in business and always support my peers, I believe there is enough to go around and everyone can win in their own unique way.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I spend so much time on LinkedIn, I value my connections and have met so many great people (be it virtually). I think lockdown in particular has made me value social platforms even more, allowing more time to be spent getting to know others. Some of my connections could be seen as competitors, however after connecting we’re now working on joint projects together. You can find my profile HERE

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