When Lucy Johnson won the 2022 Xero Award for Sole Practitioner of the Year, her practice – Simplex Accounting (formally known as Isle Book-keep) – was just 12 months old. Knowing the businesses she was up against, Lucy acknowledged: “To even be considered a finalist was a massive deal for me; I was just happy to be there.”
Lucy started Simplex Accounting after being made redundant from her job doing the books for a beauty company. The timing could be described as serendipitous, as she explains, “I basically passed my exams a couple of months before being made redundant, and I got my practicing license.”
Lucy started working for herself at home in March 2021, and the following year took on her first employee, James, through the UK Government’s Kickstart scheme on a six month placement. Lucy was later able to bring James onboard as a full-time employee.
From paper-mess to paperless
Working remotely from the Isle of Wight, Simplex Accounting helps clients go “from paper-mess to paperless”, an ethos that supports one of her firm’s core values – to make a difference.
“With our clients, we’re always trying to communicate well with them and make them feel comfortable. We’re trying to make a difference so that they understand all the figures, but also feel comfortable with the work that we’re doing,” Lucy explains.
Supporting clients on their digital journey with Xero also feeds into some great work on an environmental front too. Not only does Simplex Accounting cut out the use of paper for their clients, they’re also planting trees to mark every client onboarded, press received or awards won for the practice. So far Lucy has planted more than 330 trees, and that number will continue to climb.
As a young business owner, Lucy is a huge advocate for running a digital practice. Forming the foundation for her remote firm, digital not only runs through the processes and software she uses, but it’s also used to market to and educate both existing and prospective clients.
Lucy is clear on the types of clients her practice seeks to attract: “We want to hit those who are looking at YouTube, Instagram and other social media apps. It’s important because often these are people who might not feel confident when it comes to understanding finances, and they want somebody to explain things in a way that is jargon free.”
Lucy uses platforms such as Instagram herself when it comes to marketing and engaging with clients and is soon launching her own YouTube channel. “A lot of people don’t want to sit and read stuff anymore; they want bite-sized bits of content that are quick and easy to consume.”
Lucy’s tips for entering the Xero Awards
When asked what advice she would give to anyone looking to enter into the Xero Awards, Lucy has some advice:
- Apply for that award! “It’s massive credibility for your practice and even if you don’t feel ready (you may never feel ready), just go for it anyway.”
- Be selective. “Focus on one or two specific awards that you really care about, without applying for multiple awards at a time.”
Lucy added: “I’d been looking around at what awards I actually wanted to apply for, and I remember saying to my mum – ‘if I could get any award, this is the one I want to win. This one means everything to me. This is Xero, this is literally what I do and is my day-to-day. How could I not?!”.
- Involve the team in the application process and in writing your award nomination. “Sit down and work through as a team what you do well and really have a think about it. Even the little everyday things are great, and shouldn’t be overlooked.”
Now officially crowned a rockstar accountant after her Xero Awards win, when asked which real-life rockstar Lucy would compare herself to, it wasn’t surprising that she chose Avril Lavigne – an independent, self-starter with a real edge and passion for doing what she loves.
We’re inspired by Lucy’s story and her drive for starting a fully-digital practice that makes life less complicated for her clients. Not to mention supporting a clean and green image. We’re proud to partner with Simplex Accounting – watch this space for more exciting work from Lucy and her practice in the near future.