Meet ‘The CEO Coach’ whose client’s business just became one of Britain’s fastest growing companies

Meet ‘The CEO Coach’ whose client’s business just became one of Britain’s fastest growing companies

Dorset based award-winning business coach James Akin-Smith is celebrating the success of one of his clients, whose business just ranked number 14 in the Sunday Times’s 2023 list of UK’s fastest-growing private companies.

James has been working with Simon Mayne, Managing Director of SDM Fuel Solutions Ltd based in Hampshire, for two years, during which time the company has gone from a £1.5 million business to a £10 million turnover business.

James, who has been coaching business leaders for over a decade following a career in which he built and sold seven successful businesses of his own, offered expertise and advice which proved invaluable as this family-run business boosted turnover by an incredible 567%.

His role was to support, mentor and coach Simon Mayne, who stepped up to become MD following his father’s death in 2019, helping him achieve his ambitions for the company’s growth and development.

James Akin-Smith said:
“Simon got in touch in 2021 looking for guidance on his five-year growth strategy for the business, and we clicked immediately.

“From my objective position, I was able to highlight potential issues and help Simon forecast what might happen for the business and be ready to seize and build on opportunities.

“I was also able to highlight some gaps in the team – essential roles that would be needed to develop and grow the business.

“By challenging him, asking probing and provocative questions, offering different perspectives, and helping him focus and prioritise, I have been able to help Simon get the best from himself, so he could get the best from his business.”

Simon wanted to respect his father’s legacy whilst still putting his own stamp on the company and set in place rock solid processes and structures. Driven to grow and develop the company, he was full of ideas, with a great capacity for planning and organisation – but he needed someone who could advise and support him through these challenges.

Added James:
“Simon is a great client to work with. He’s open minded and responds positively to new ideas and different approaches. He has a great ability to make good decisions quickly and then implement them – he gets things done. As a coach and mentor, it has been very rewarding and exciting to work with him.”

Founded in 2011, SDM Fuel Solutions is a UK-wide 24/7 specialist in fuel and fuel-related engineering services including tank cleaning, fuel filtration, and fuel testing.

This family owned and run company was started by Simon’s father in 2011.

Following the death of his father in 2019, having previously worked for SDM as a business development manager, before becoming Fuel Solutions Manager.

Simon took over in difficult and sad circumstances, he shortly recognised he needed to develop himself to become a great MD.

Simon Mayne, MD SDM Fuel Solutions Ltd said:
“Working with James has been so good and so useful. He asks you difficult questions to challenge you and gives an outsider’s view. James has helped grow my business. He helps me focus, helps point me in the right direction and gives a good steer on what we should be looking for.”

Such exponential growth has brought its own challenges, and James has also played a key part in helping Simon navigate these, including encouraging him to make time for family, friends and a life outside his business. Keen sailor Simon is now in the process of buying a 60ft catamaran so he can pursue his passion for sailing and enjoy quality time with his wife and daughters.

Added Simon:
“A coach isn’t just one dimensional, he doesn’t need to have all the answers but he’s able to help educate and focus. Sometimes advice from James has just been him telling me to chill out – and that’s exactly what I needed!” and

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