Jan Post, RIFT Founder and MD, talks about how she came to set up RIFT and gives a little insight into her day-to-day life.
How did you start this business? What problems does it solve?
Inspiration can strike in the unlikeliest of places. Back in 1989, I found myself in a damp, bog of field watching an old construction worker carrying a potato back to his caravan to cook it in a microwave. At the time there were hundreds of workers in the area like this gentleman - away from home and spending a small fortune on travel. It dawned on me that most of them would not even be aware they could claim back tax relief on all their mileage and were inadvertently giving the taxman too much of their hard won cash.
From those small beginnings we now employ nearly 160 people and offer a tax refund service to more than 40,000 workers across construction, Ministry of Defence, oil and gas, sports and healthcare sectors. We’ve diversified to work with businesses and also now specialise in Research and Development Tax Credits, Accounting and Capital Allowances. To date we have reclaimed over £100 million for businesses and individuals.
What's your background? Any crazy stories?
A few, but it’s hard to top a story about how a field, potato and microwave changed your life! But over the years juggling motherhood, looking after Labradors and running a business has led to more than a fair few hair raising scares.
How did you realise you are an entrepreneur?
There’s a strong and proud tradition of running businesses in my family so I suppose I always saw being my own boss as natural. I have a very strong team in place now to run the business, but it’s in my nature to always be looking for the next opportunity or idea and I’ve never been afraid to try new things.
What advice you would give yourself when you were younger?
Make time to sit down and plan ahead on a regular basis - step out of the bustle of everyday life and look at your goals. We are good at looking ahead now at RIFT as we have such a fantastic team in place. But in the very early days I probably didn’t do it enough, if I’m honest.
So, what’s your typical day like?
I get into the office between eight thirty and nine but I will have answered my emails over breakfast so that by the time I arrive at work I will know what needs to be actioned. Once the emails have been sorted, I can get on with the rest of the day. My days are divided between the office or out meeting clients or prospective new clients. Depending on what kind of a week it is I will be in the office two or three days a week or vice versa out of the office. I do go out to a lot of meetings because I think that it is so important to meet people face to face.
What’s the most important part of your job?
Key to my daily work is overseeing the many demands associated with a rapidly growing business which has clients across the UK. Supporting that growth is the fact that already long established as the UK's leading tax refund experts, the company has now diversified into Research & Development Tax Credits, Capital Allowances, Will writing, and Accounting services.
How has your role changed over time?
I used to do a lot of travelling all over the country but have done less of it as the years have passed. One of the things on which we have worked hard is ensuring that we have a good management structure so more of my time is spent liaising with managers and team leaders. Communication is so important to us and we work hard to make sure that happens. One of the reasons we need good communication is that we are growing very rapidly.
We have been growing 40 per cent a year over recent years, partly because more and more businesses and individuals are becoming aware of the need to claim their refunds, so communication between departments is important. I finish work earlier than I used to in the early days of the business and I like to be away by 6.30am. Once I am at home, I will relax for a little then answer some emails or read reports with one eye on the television. The reports are important. We are a fast-moving business and I need to keep up to date with what our teams are doing.
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