Tuesday, 20 April 2021
KEITH JEFFERIES is a chartered management accountant and owner of Jefferies Accountancy Services at Chiltern House in Station Road, Henley. He was born and raised in Swindon. He and his wife Val met at their local church and were married in 1984. They moved to Sonning Common in 1995 and then to Peppard Common 10 years later. They have two grown-up children and a baby granddaughter. Keith has been a keen runner for many years and has completed several marathons. He is also an enthusiastic lepidopterist. He and Val regularly attend Stoke Row Independent Chapel.
Describe your business
We provide accountancy services to small businesses, sole traders and private individuals. This involves preparing annual accounts, self-assessment tax returns, corporation tax returns, VAT returns, payroll services and non-contentious probate and estate services as well as advising on start-ups and business strategy.
How many people does it employ?
Val and I and our son-in law, Jon, who works here on a freelance basis.
What did you do before you started this business?
I left school at 17 and my first job was as a trainee accounting technician at Thamesdown Borough Council. I was there for seven years before working for several companies, including Raychem, where I became a trainee accountant. I qualified with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in 1991. I then worked for the NHS in Berkshire, which is why we moved to Sonning Common.
When did you start your business?
In 2006 I began doing work for private clients and working part-time from home. In 2012 I decided to set up the business full-time and formed a limited company. We moved into Chiltern House in 2015.
What was your objective?
I always wanted to work for myself and run my own business. When working in a large organisation you feel as if you are just a cog in the wheel.
Who or what influenced you?
I attended a CIMA meeting where the speaker spoke about the benefits of setting up a private accountancy practice and that had quite an influence on me.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
A few years ago, I thought I might benefit from having a business coach, so I approached Dave Reynolds and he worked with me. We’ve become good friends and continue to meet regularly.
What would you do differently if you could start again?
I often wish I had taken the plunge earlier but we had a young family and it would have been a bit of a risk.
What impact is the coronavirus pandemic having on your business?
Fortunately, little other than having to become accustomed to conducting meetings over Zoom.
How is your business doing compared with last year?
We are doing much better and have a lot more clients.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
The freedom of being able to please myself, flexible hours and knowing that I am able to help people.
What is the most challenging aspect?
Peaks and troughs. So many people leave their tax returns to the last minute.
What three qualities are most important to success?
Working hard, continuing to learn and developing good relationships.
What is the secret of your success?
Doing a good job for my clients and listening to them.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
That you can do whatever you want because you have a blank piece of paper, so think big.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Do lots of research. Train to develop the skills you will need. Work hard and pay attention to your customers and their needs. Listen.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Initially I was reluctant to charge enough. Now I discuss fees up front.
How organised are you?
Very. I like a tidy office and I have got systems.
How do you dress for work?
Smartly. A suit and tie usually.
What can’t you be without every day?
Enjoying a good cup of coffee at a coffee shop. I am looking forward to when we do that again.
Lunch at your desk or going out?
I generally go out as I want to walk every day.
Do you continue to study?
Yes. I go into London several times a year to receive the latest tax and industry updates.
What do you read?
I read business and motivational books. Robin Sharma (a Canadian leadership coach) is a favourite and I read the Henley Standard.
How are you planning for retirement?
Eventually I will ease down.
22 March 2021
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