26 SIMON DOLAN
Business Services 2018: £141m 2017: £140m (28th=)
“I earn £3m a year, but I don’t just throw money away,” Simon Dolan told the Guardian newspaper in August. Yet, as he recounted: “When I was 21, I had nothing. Debt was spiralling, I was three months behind on my mortgage and I was totally desperate. I ended up placing a £10 advert in a local paper offering to do people’s accounts. It’s the only thing I knew – I’d previously worked at an accountants for 18 months. A florist responded and I handled her accounts for £99. That gave me enough money to place another ad. From there I gained another client, then another. By 2014, when the business had 14,000 clients, I sold it to a private equity firm for £81m.” Dolan started his entrepreneurial career selling scratch cards in the playground of King Edward Grammar School in his native Chelmsford. After being expelled at 16 he began selling cheese and eggs on a Chelmsford market stall. He says it taught him, “the gift-of-the-gab, commitment to hard graft and strong arithmetic”. After a range of jobs including selling photocopiers and timeshare apartments, he started his accounting work. Since then Dolan has become enthused by motor racing and created his own team, Jota Sports, in 2011. Jota won its class in the 24 hour Le Mans race three years later, coming fifth overall. His Jota Group now has three divisions, focusing on motorsport, engineering for racing cars and an airline based at London Southend. Dolan also owns the Mandalay Estate in the Caribbean island of Mustique once owned by David Bowie, which cost him £14m. An avid fan of the late music legend, Dolan even named one of his sons Bowie. He also has an apartment in Monaco, two properties in the UK and a château in south-west France. In all Dolan is now easily worth £141m.