Today we get to know the other half of the husband and wife team behind Accounting for Energy (AfE). Here Freccia Benn, who is also a dental surgeon, tells us how running a business compares to looking after people’s teeth and why clients can trust AfE.
Meet the Founders – Part 2
Today we get to know the other half of the husband and wife team behind Accounting for Energy. Here, Freccia Benn, who manages the business side of the company, shares how 10 years of managing her own business have helped her to build a client base and why landowners of all shapes and sizes are in safe hands when working with AfE.
Tell us about your journey from being a dentist to launching a business and now running AfE?
I graduated from the University of Birmingham as a dentist but also with a degree in Materials Science. I moved back to London where I have worked as a dentist since 2009. I have always loved business and wanted to run my own. Besides buying a practice there isn’t much scope for doing this within dentistry so I decided to launch a side business within health and beauty industry. It has been a great outlet and opportunity for me to understand how business works.
Some years ago when Travis mentioned the inability for landowners to check their royalty payments accurately, I instantly felt that we could make a difference by providing that service. I’ve had a soft landing into this business, working on it at weekends to start with, but as time has gone on I have realised how much I enjoy building it from the ground up, so much so, that over the last two years I have increased my time working on AfE and I have decreased days working as a dental surgeon.
How do you switch brains from working with your personal clients to managing AfE’s business operations?
We have a fantastic team and without them a lot of what we do wouldn’t be possible. I’m well organised and love technology which helps, in fact I’m an app geek! For the most part, it really isn’t too bad, technology makes things a whole lot easier, I have most of what I need on my phone and can work from anywhere at anytime.
Understanding people. I very quickly learned that you can get far in business when you understand people’s needs and desires, after all you don’t deal with businesses, you deal with people. I learned to listen to what people want and then tailor my services to them rather simply putting what I think they want on them. This has been so useful for the business development side of AfE as I’ve come into it with a very client-focused mentality.
Also, I’ve learned to just keep going. Perseverance is key for any business leader, or for anyone starting something completely new. I’ve learned not to accept no for answer!
What’s your long-term business aspiration?
I want to help those that come up against barriers to starting a business. Business success can often be down our connections, financial situation, education, social mobility etc, but for those who are adversely affected by these things, making their ideas a reality can seem near impossible. These are the types of people I’d love to be able to help in the future.
Best part of running your own business?
Flexibility and variety. I love the variety of our clients, their locations and the businesses they run. No two days are the same; some days we could be anywhere in the countryside – from Cumbria, Carmarthenshire or Cornwall – with a dairy farmer and their land agent, to being in Cardiff meeting a corporate client of a waste management company, to having a strategy meeting with our team.
Best thing about working with your spouse?
We have a common vision for the business. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work to our strengths, which means we get out of each other’s way!
What’s your vision for Accounting for Energy?
To empower and educate as many landowners as possible about their renewable energy payments. Many of our previous clients have been worried about having their payments checked, I would like to show landowners that it is their right to have their payments checked and to ensure that they are accurate.
What’s your advice to someone who understands the rent payments they’re receiving but has no way of checking the accuracy?
There is nothing to lose by working with us! We have carried out audits for clients to find that payments have been accurate which is great. All of our clients receive an audit report whether an underpayment is found or not, and this seems to be what our clients find useful, although a payment is a nice surprise too!
I would say that we bring niche expertise – we have carried out audits for very large organisations, to very clued up individual farmers and have still found underpayments. It’s always worth checking.
City or Country?
I really do love being in the countryside but I love the conveniences of city life just a little bit more!
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