Meet John

The face behind Guida Accountancy

Hi, I'm John

I started Guida Accountancy in August 2019, after 30+ years working as an employee. I want to help clients the way I believe it should be done. An honest, sensible and clear approach, giving my time to answer their questions at all levels, from bookkeeping to tax planning, payroll to setting businesses on their way.

Clients need time. For most, bookkeeping and accountancy are not their area of expertise, and why should it be? I can’t plaster a wall or fix a car! So they need help and guidance, they need someone on their side, someone they are comfortable working with, can talk to and not feel that there is a large bill coming at the end of it.

That is how I like to work, and it is the kind of person I like to work with. It is important to enjoy work, business is hard enough, so there is nothing wrong with having a laugh or two as well (at the right time obviously). 

The decision  to start my own business rose from a difficult period in my life, that made me take a long hard look at myself and in particular my own personal values, what I truly believe in and how I want to live my life going forward.

Apart from being a very interesting exercise, it showed me how I had let those values slip. From my point of view, that was not good enough and undoubtedly formed part of the difficulties I was having. Things had to change and one of the results was the formation of Guida Accountancy.

John Lawrence | member of Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales | Guida Accountancy business and personal accountants in essex
John Lawrence FCA BFP
John Lawrence member of Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales with Ida | Guida Accountancy
Me & Ida on a long walk, always by my side

From the beginning...

From mid 2018 life became a lot more difficult for me. I am pleased to say that mental health has become far less of a taboo subject in recent years, nevertheless it is still a subject that I find difficult to admit to. Depression and anxiety have affected me a few times throughout my life but this turned out to be a bad one.

By February 2019 this was affecting my whole life and as the year went on I had to make changes both to my home and work life. Admittedly some of those changes were forced on me, others came from that deep look at my belief system, and looking at the truth of the person I am. At times I didn’t like what I saw, not because I thought I was a horrible person, but because I was not being true to myself. 

I had forsaken some of my personal values for the supposedly ‘easy life’. The life of employment with a wage packet at the end of the month, doing what I was told rather than what I believe to be right. 

It was this person that I didn’t like. I had to change, to get back to being who I truly am.

It was only a year or so later in 2020 that I was asked by a business mentor to write down the 5 personal values that I live by. I had just gone through a year of a lot of internal thinking, and now I finally wrote down on paper what those values are. It was quite revealing, highlighting a lot of what had gone wrong.

My values

The first five I came up with were very basic, ‘not deep enough’ I was told. They were:

  1. Trustworthy
  2. Professional
  3. Dependable
  4. Approachable
  5. Diligent

Well, shouldn’t all accountants be trustworthy , professional and diligent? Yes, though that’s not to say they all are!

So deeper I went and this is me (all the right values but not necessarily in the right order)…..

  1. Treat everyone with respect – A value I was taught by my parents. Always try to be kind and considerate of others. I do expect the same in return though.  The saying ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ most definitely applies to me. The word philanthropic was recently used to describe me, and (now I’ve learnt how to spell it) I think it is pretty accurate.
  2. Always try my best – some people say I am competitive because I play(ed) a lot of sports, but I do not agree with that. I am not a win at all cost’s person, I believe in fair play over winning. I lose far more often than I win as my golf proves, but I do believe in always trying my best, otherwise what is the point? If I win (or succeed) great, if I don’t, I can learn and improve. Our failures or losses often teach us more than our victories. My ‘competitiveness’ is with myself, not with others.
  3. Family first – I have always believed this but, to my shame, have not always lived by it. The most important thing in my life is my family, from my partner Carol, my special companion Ida, to my parents and brother. My family have been there to provide support when I need it most. We all get caught up in day to day life and work and often put that first, it is very easy to do. I learned a tough lesson when I last fell into that trap, but through their support I came through to start my own business and regain sight of what really matters to me.
  4. Patience is a virtue. – Whether it be patience with others or patience with a task in hand, losing your temper achieves nothing. In my line of work clients will not necessarily understand things first time, it is not their area of expertise after all, so taking time to talk to them and understand them must be the best way forward. Shouting makes things worse, and if done to me, will get you nowhere! Of course, you can always go outside and scream later.
  5. Morality over legality – there are things in life that may be legal by the strict reading of the law but for me are morally wrong.  It is a method used to justify what is normally a very selfish act, at the expense of others. We are a society and we all need to play our part, do what is right and fair.

These values play a huge role in my business, it is how I treat my clients and the people I trust to support me. 

Why Guida Accountancy?

This is a question that I get asked a lot, where did the name come from?

I have been a strong supporter of the charity, Guide Dogs for the Blind, for a number of years. The work they do – the trainers, all the volunteers and of course the dogs – is truly astonishing.

In April 2019 we completed an application to rehome a guide dog. There is usually a 6-month waiting list but just 10 days later we got a call asking if they could come and assess us. We had previously taken in a very nervous, badly treated dog, Dipper, and gave her a great new life until she passed away in 2017. This was the experience and kindness they were looking for. We passed the assessment.

Within 3 weeks we were told they had a dog for us, and on 10th May 2019 we went to meet and collect Ida.

At that time I was struggling with my issues and Ida became a massive part of helping me through this and aiding my recovery. It is one of the reasons why she is so important to me. More than just a dog, she is my trusted, faithful and loving companion. Where would I be without my beautiful girl?

Through Ida my two worlds collided.

My desire has always been to be more than ‘the Accountant’. Being a supportive friend and guide is key to the services I provide. For that reason and with my total respect for the work of Guide Dogs for the Blind, I wanted to use the word ‘Guide’ in my business name. Put that together with the gorgeous Ida – Guida it was.


A bit more about me...

  • Chief dogwalker to Ida
  • I am a keen sports person but sadly getting too old to participate in most of them.
  • My dream job was (and still is) to be the scorer for Test Match Special on the radio. Combining my love of Cricket, Statistics (nerdy I know) and my face for radio
  • Play golf as regularly as I can
  • Long-suffering supporter of Southend United
  • Love gardening and being outdoors
  • Enjoy quizzes and Sudoku puzzles
  • Enjoy learning new things – even if only to prove I need to get someone else to do them for me
  • Like visiting historical castles and buildings
  • Prefer listening to music over watching television
  • Good sense of humour – or so I think anyway
  • Love peace and quiet

And what I don’t like….

  • Greed
  • Selfishness
  • Noise
  • Cruelty
  • Dishonesty
john Lawrence founder and director with puppies
At the Guide Dog Breeding Centre, Leamington Spa

My approach to business

I am committed to being honest, trustworthy and open as well as being diligent and dedicated in all tasks undertaken. My ethos is of sensible, knowledgeable accounting with no corporate buzzwords and sales speak, treating you with respect and having a friendly approach, with the ability to share a laugh or two, when appropriate of course!

With over 25 years of experience working within the accountancy profession I understand the needs of clients. With expertise in micro, small and medium sized businesses and self-assessment, dealing with all aspects of accounts, business and personal taxation, business advice and payroll.

I pride myself on providing an extensive and high standard of service for my clients, it is what I do best. I understand that clients will require help along the way, from the big decisions you need to take, to the small things that just get in the way of you running your business and doing what you do best.

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John Lawrence | member of Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales | Guida Accountancy business and personal accountants in essex