Practice Talk: Tessa Hebditch from Balanced Finance
Joining Practice Talk this week is ‘the ethical accountant’ Tessa Hebditch. She explains how her motto ‘rehydrate, refuel and move’ powers her through a typical working day.
Hebditch goes under the moniker ‘the ethical accountant’. Like many niches in the profession, her ethical stance was borne out of frustration. After leaving school at 18, Hebditch worked in a number of finance departments while obtaining her accountancy qualifications.
While she worked for a number of businesses with an ethical slant such as Riverford Organic Farmers and Nuffield Health, she also worked for businesses whose ethics could be considered questionable.
Not one to turn a blind eye, Hebditch left the unscrupulous operators behind and this year has made a stand as an ethical accountant with the launch of her own business, Balanced Finance Ltd.
At the moment she’s building up her bookkeeping and accountancy services for growing businesses, in addition to a lot of project work such as ERP system implementation.
Tessa Hebditch's typical day
"Every morning I get up about 6am. Because I sit down for a living, it's important to do some moving. It really energises my day. So in the morning, I have a routine or I call: rehydrate, refuel and move. I make sure I follow through on this habit and set myself up for the day.
What time I start depends on who I need to see, and where I need to go. I work at client premises so it's very variable on what needs to be done.
A typical morning is varied. I try to do the difficult tasks in the morning because that works for me. I get the things I don't look forward to out of the way.
I have a high-performance planner, which really focuses my mind and makes you step outside just launching into your day. For me, planning is imperative. My planner asks you questions about your day such as: what three things do you need to get done? Who can you surprise with something nice?
I hate email. I think people spend too much time on email and it causes a lot of confusion. There is backwards and forwards. It is much quicker to make a phone call. I did a lot of research on being as productive as possible and it said throughout that you should never have your emails open all the time.
Taking your eye off what you're doing for a split second can increase the task you are doing by four times. So I check my emails at intervals throughout the day but never have them on constantly. I tell people that email is not an urgent way to contact me. I do have my email on my phone, but again, I keep my phone off the desk because you just press that on, check the screen and see nothing has happened.
Time for lunch? You need to refuel, step away from your desk and refresh your brain. Studies show working throughout the day makes you less productive, you make mistakes, and it's a disaster for anyone. I take a break and go for a walk, normally at lunchtimes.
It can be hard to keep the momentum going in the afternoon. The planner I have asks questions such as 'if you were a business coach what would the advice be for yourself?' Stepping back asking those questions really motivates.
Also, celebrating success is something I learned very recently. If there is a task you do in the afternoon every day or every month that you hate, celebrate when you finish. Even if you just do a crazy dance on your own when you finish something. It really gets into your head and makes you want to power through.
I try to leave the clients’ office by 6pm because I get hungry. I go home and eat and then I start studying and doing business admin stuff. I am studying to be a chartered financial analyst and I am doing a masters degree. Trying to fit it all in is tough, but it is about the planning. What works well for me is seeing something ticked off the list. I then feel like I am achieving.
I dip into my emails after hours but my sister, who I employed recently, has been a massive help for filtering communications. She's not an accountant but she's great at understanding what people want and if she can help or prioritise things for me.
Tessa was a recent guest on AccountingWEB’s No Accounting for Taste podcast. If you missed it, you can listen to Tessa along with Richard Hepburn from Gorilla Accounting discuss with AccountingWEB’s editors the biggest stories in the profession, including the latest disciplinary decisions.