Ahead of the Accounting Excellence Awards in September, we interview ICB member nominees to see what makes them tick and unlock some of their secrets to a successful practice.

In this article, we’re interviewing, Jason Dalton MICB PM.Dip, who founded his award-winning practice, Safe Hands Bookkeeping with his husband, Mark ten years ago in Hampshire. Safe Hands has been nominated for the Bookkeeping Team of the Year in this year’s awards. 

How did you come to be a bookkeeper?

I started studying to be a bookkeeper with ICB in 2012, after leaving a career in banking.  We celebrate our tenth anniversary this year and are proud of the business that Mark and I have built, supporting local businesses to achieve their ambitions. We have achieved so much in a short amount of time, being a multi award-winning business, but we are most excited to be opening our second site in 2022, quickly followed by sites across the UK to bring the ‘Safe Hands Way’ to all businesses across the UK.

What makes your practice special?

I believe we think in a different way to many people in business, we challenge the norm in our industry and always consider how we do things, rather than just the way we do it. 

Safe Hands is a relationship business before it is a numbers business; the numbers are important, but we believe that how we make people feel is more important. We therefore prioritise our clients, team and suppliers being happy and relaxed. We have an amazingly loyal client base, as they understand that whilst anyone can do bookkeeping, not anyone can deliver it in the Safe Hands way. 

Our business is authentically value-centric, meaning we consider why we do things and question the status quo. I think that’s why we attract and retain clients, as they see this authenticity and recognise it in themselves.  We’re really proud of the business we have built and the team of people that deliver amazing outcomes for our clients.

How has your practice grown over the last year?

Safe Hands has been on an aggressive growth trajectory for the past four years, growing consistently since we started the business.  The last year has seen a lot of change in the business community, much of which has been positive, and we have continued to focus on what makes Safe Hands special. This has meant we have increased our team by eight people, taken on larger office space and grown 40% year on year.  

How do you feel about being shortlisted in the Accounting Excellence Awards?

We are really excited about being shortlisted for a third time, after winning Bookkeeping Team of the Year in 2021. It’s a great acknowledgment from our accounting peers of the calibre of what we do and how we do it. Whilst winning is great, it’s always humbling when we are shortlisted for such a prestigious industry award.
What’s your proudest moment as a bookkeeper?

I’m proud that Mark and I have built a bookkeeping practice that is authentic and doggedly determined to ensure our clients, team and suppliers are happy and relaxed. I think the last few years has proven our continued focus on wellbeing and happiness is the right strategy for us as a business.

How has ICB supported you as a bookkeeper and business owner?

ICB initially supported us with our qualifications and has also provided a community for sole practitioners to share best practice and build confidence. Our business continues to be supported with AML. The professional development of our team is supported by ICB and enables us to remain a team of highly-qualified bookkeepers, which we pride ourselves on.

What’s your advice to other bookkeepers looking to grow/ start up their businesses?

I think the bookkeeping industry is fast-paced and constantly changing.  The biggest thing we have learnt in the last ten years is to be bold and proud of what you do, and that not all practices need to be the same. Anyone in business, or looking to start-up, needs to decide what type of bookkeeper they want to be and keep focused on what makes them special. 

ICB are committed to supporting its members in applying for awards and recognition, and will continue to communicate opportunities like this going forward. For more on this year’s Accounting Excellence nominees click here. You can also book your tickets to the star-studded awards ceremony on 07 November, see here for more details.