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.
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.
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.