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Practice Talk: Jeri Williams from J Williams & Co

19th Aug 2019
Practice Editor AccountingWEB
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Jeri Williams
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AccountingWEB caught up with Jeri Williams to find out what a typical day at her Hampshire-based firm, J Williams & Co, looks like.

When Williams decided to set up her practice, she wanted flexibility in order to see her young family grow as well as pay the bills. She didn’t have any vision to grow a business, have staff and premises. In the back of her mind, she secretly worried: “What if nobody wanted me to do their accounts?”

But then it got busy. Really busy. Before she knew it, she had to make a decision on whether she could cope with the volume of clients coming her way. “I either turn people away or I try and get some help,” said Williams. She chose help and things have snowballed from there: new clients, recruit… new clients, recruit…

The secret to Williams’ success is her social media presence. As anyone who follows her on LinkedIn will know, she’s quite prolific. But Facebook and Instagram are what really drove her firm’s growth. “When I started my business it was those that I was on relentlessly from day one,” she said. 

While some struggle balancing social media and life, it’s never been a problem for Williams. And that’s simply because she enjoys it. “In the evenings and when I first wake up I want to see what's going on, I want to get on social media and interact with everybody and that's what I enjoy. And that's what my business has grown from.” 

So, as you can imagine, social media plays a role in Williams’ typical day straight from her 'crack of dawn' alarm clock.

My days start very early. I've got young children. My body clock wakes me up early and my husband leaves for work at 4.30am. If I wake up and it's 6am, it's a mega lie-in. 

I go through my social media accounts and reply to people, post stuff, and think about what I'll put on my social media. Then, I'll sort the kids out and get them to wherever they need to be. Even though my day starts early, I still don't get to work until after the school run.  

I spend a lot of my day with new clients…  either on the phone, emailing, sending proposals or meeting them face-to-face. And the rest of the day is spent managing the office and managing the team. 

To plan out my day, I have a little to-do list and anything important goes on my Outlook calendar. We have lists of different things: all of our prospects are on a list so we can manage those. We also use Digita for our practice management software.

My staff are important to me. On Mondays, we'll get Nandos in the office and sometimes we get breakfast together. We do things like that quite a lot. We're all women and we're all mums, and most of my team are part-time so they pick the hours that suit their life and their childcare arrangements. I don't care to an extent what days and hours people do as long as the work gets done. And they can work from home if they want to. Our systems allow that.  

I'm part-time. I work four days a week. My time with my children, James and Teddy (aged six and four) is precious. It's all about enjoying them while they are young. That's why I've massively reduced my hours over the summer holidays because I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  

If I am out with the kids then I'll check my emails a couple of times throughout the day to make sure nothing mega urgent has happened or that the building has burned down. But on the whole, I don't need to worry because I got a team of people.

For lunch, I usually go and grab something and eat it at my desk because my time here in the office is precious. Other days I'll go home and have lunch because I literally live two minutes away or I'll go out and meet people.

My working day finishes at 5pm but yesterday I was here until 7pm. But then I didn't start work until 2pm because I was off with the kids in the morning so I stayed late.  

Once I'm done I don't do any work in the evenings, I just go home and leave it. Don't get me wrong, there has been the odd occasion in the past where there was an urgent deadline and I needed to do it but I don't work from home once I am finished, I'm done.

Social media is part of my life, not just part of my business. It's really merged with business. If I'm on social media I'm on it from a personal perspective and I have my business accounts on there too. I would choose to be on it anyway. I want to get on social media and interact with everybody and that's what I enjoy. And that's what my business has grown from."