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Vegan accountant finds business niche in nature

Meat is off the menu for Keith Lesser of Vegan Accountants, who talks to AccountingWEB about how veganism has become his recipe for success.   

8th Feb 2021
Community Assistant AccountingWEB
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When starting up your practice, “finding your niche” will likely be a phrase you hear often.

As a business development strategy, being conscious of your USP has been praised by many practice gurus as a key ingredient in growing your practice. 

For Keith Lesser of Lesser & Co Ltd, who six month ago formed Vegan Accountants, this was an organic process: “I didn’t look at it as a niche originally,” Lesser told AccountingWEB. “It’s like anything, you go to a tennis club and get clients because you talk to people. It’s just what happens naturally with hobbies.”

Viewing veganism in this light brought Lesser in contact with like-minded people, naturally allowing him to connect his passion with running an accountancy firm.

According to Lesser, any budding practice looking to network needn’t look far for that connection: “I used to go to a local vegan cafe and meet up with vegans, the owner would introduce me to people – suddenly, you’ve got a dozen vegan clients.”

Balancing business and branding

However, making your niche work within your practice isn’t as simple as having the same values as your clients. It can be easy to lose yourself in marketing what makes you different, but being able to deliver the best service possible to your clients should be the strongest focus with your work.Vegan Accountants

This has been at the forefront of Lesser’s approach to Vegan Accountants; the business comes before the niche aspect. Rather than networking exclusively with vegans, Lesser prefers to adopt an all-inclusive approach. His branding and marketing is what makes him stand out from the crowd.

“I think the appeal of it is wider than that,” Lesser said of his vegan-marketed practice. “That just tells a story.”

Lesser compared this method to large supermarket chains who have been expanding their vegan-friendly meat alternative ranges throughout recent years: “They’re still keeping their legacy products,” he told AccountingWEB, “but they’re looking at their vegan range and finding those are the growing products they’re selling.”

The popular meat alternative company Beyond Meat falls into this category, reportedly selling only 7% of their products to vegans consumers. Similarly, Vegan Accountants currently represents 5% of Lesser & Co Ltd’s clientbase but is set to grow.

“It’s about looking to the future and seeing how society is changing,” commented Lesser.

There has, however, been some misconception that the practice deals exclusively with vegan employees and clients. “I wouldn’t reduce the quality of our business with staff just to take on someone vegan,” Lesser assured. “I would always want to take on the best people.”

Lesser reported that around 90% of employees within the practice are actually non-vegan, with their most recent new non-vegan starter joining early this January.

No accounting for animals

With this Veganuary being the most popular yet, the only way is up for vegan consumers within the profession.

Lesser originally became interested in veganism after watching the 2017 documentary ‘What the Health’, which largely focused on the health aspects of switching to a plant-based diet. With time, the ethical and sustainability factors drew Lesser in deeper to the cause.

“Suddenly you think ‘I’m not eating animals anymore’ and then the thought of it just becomes a bit weird,” Lesser told AccountingWEB. “It can just be a bit of a blind spot for people.”

He related this to the advertising industry of previous years, where mass media campaigns would fund thousands into promoting smoking cigarettes as good for people’s health.

“People will look back and say ‘it's bad for my health, we’re torturing animals, and it's bad for the planet, so why do we do it?’” Lesser asked.

In terms of sustainability issues, Vegan Accountants strives to uphold their values with a partnership with various charitable initiatives such as B1G1 and GoProposal: each time they submit a VAT return or sign up a new client, they’re able to give fresh water to a community in an impoverished region, or provide pyjamas to a person in emergency care within the UK.

With the vegan market only set to grow globally, the grass definitely looks greener on this practice’s side.

Replies (9)

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By Joe753
09th Feb 2021 10:02

Much obliged for sharing data..

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By johnjenkins
09th Feb 2021 10:03

Not so sure this is really a "niche". A lot of business is done in pubs, on the golf course, lunches etc. etc. My stepson became a vegan and ultramarathon runner. His best performance was coming second in the Cyprus Ultra. The point I am making is that my wife and I went to many vegan and running events, talking to many people and didn't really find that the "vegan" effect was any different to any other effect. I actually don't see how veganism or any other ism, come to that, will make any difference to your practice. If a client likes you that's it.

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By Liam.em
09th Feb 2021 10:56

.

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By Ian McTernan CTA
09th Feb 2021 11:39

Just what I needed, more virtue signalling and preaching.

I don't care what people eat, just don't try forcing it on the rest of us.

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Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
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By dwgw
09th Feb 2021 12:44

Why do you think anyone needed to hear that outburst?

It's a piece about a niche business. Nobody was preaching, nobody was forcing anyone to do anything and nobody was signalling anything.

Except you. Duly noted, card marked.

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By forgeron
09th Feb 2021 15:30

Good to see - thanks for sharing this. Hope it works for you. Another happy vegan.

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By Silver Birch Accts
09th Feb 2021 15:44

Hardly Vegan Accountants when 90% of the staff are not Vegan.
Should call himself 10% Vegan Accountants.
I personally love Salt'n' Vinegar crisps so I am looking for like minded clients so we can share a grab bag when next allowed to meet up.

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ghm
By TaxTeddy
10th Feb 2021 12:31

This is rather clever.

Selling / marketing is generally based on the premise of "know me, like me, trust me" and at that point you have acquired a client.

So in any social or business situation it will be extremely easy to find fellow vegans. Let's face it, a vegan will always tell you that they are vegan, whether you ask or not. So having established that affinity with a potential client, you are home and dry.

The bonds between vegans seem to have quasi-religious roots (see https://onlineacademiccommunity.uvic.ca/sociologyofreligion/2017/12/31/v...) and so any bonds built with a client on the basis of their veganism would suggest very strong and long-lasting relationship.

As I say, a really good idea.

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Replying to TaxTeddy:
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By johnjenkins
10th Feb 2021 13:07

Strong and lasting relationship until one decides to diverse?
In my experience Vegans, vegetarians, non meat eaters (although they will eat fish) all meet with the same problem as people who constantly diet. Anything that goes against the grain is hard work. I've started to learn to play the guitar and my tutor was saying that many he has taught give up, come back etc. What do we call it? Human Nature.

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