Closeclose Icon

Talk to a specialist

Darren Wingfield

Darren Wingfield

Commercial Manager

Leave your details below and we’ll give you a call to chat about how we can help your business move forward.

Sign up to receive the latest guides, articles & podcasts

Or if you'd prefer, you can call us on 01207 581717

Just how nice is your business?

Posted on 10/11/20  |  3 Minutes
Image of boy and girl walking along a path with arms around each other

It’s a strange question isn’t it? ‘Just how nice is your business?” But an interesting one. So what’s your answer? This is a question we’ve recently asked ourselves here at Harlands. And we’ll post a response next month. We’re reviewing just how nice and lovely we actually are, in the context of this little tale. So there you go. We both have a deadline for this month’s big question, “Just how nice is your business?”

When you drive through Jesmond here in the North East of England, you see pretty much what you’d expect to see. Cool bars and restaurants (albeit not as busy as they once were, right now), fine shops, smart coffee shops, uncertain students (Covid-19 is taking its toll) as well as workers and families buzzing to and from schools and workplaces.

As you approach Jesmond Dene from Newcastle, facing in the general direction of The Coast Road, you can take a left by some nice little shops and restaurants including Rehills General Dealers, Dene’s Deli and the restaurant Peace and Loaf.

But did you know that if you take a sharp right just past Dene’s Deli there is something else really quite lovely. Tucked away. On the edge of a little patch of green that’s flanked by houses on every side.

And what is this lovely thing? It’s a small, wooden bookhouse.


The bookhouse is a few yards up from one of the entrances to Jesmond Dene, and it really is a nice little thing. It is exactly as I describe here.  A little wooden house about four feet tall containing books. And written on the side there are just six words.

“Take a book.

Leave a book.”

Parents and children.

Parents and children visit bookhouse and just as the little sign says, they take a book, and they leave a book.

Bookhouse is a purely generous thing. And from what I can see, there are no losers. Children learn about generosity and sharing. And maybe less well-off children get books. For free.  

Two things. 

There are two things to take from this.

First, niceness breeds niceness. Because a person created the little bookhouse (which is a nice thing) and it influenced other people, most of whom the instigator will never meet of course, to do nice things as well. For themselves, their children and for other people’s children.

Second, it made me think about people creating things just for the sake of being nice. Which then makes me think about businesses creating things just for the sake of being nice. And how positive such a thing is. Not sponsorship. Not ‘The Harlands Bookhouse’. Or The McDonalds Bookhouse. Or the Nike Bookhouse. Just – The Bookhouse.


Harlands as a brand has a clear purpose. And it is twofold.

First, we talk about Harlands moving business forward. So with any new client we take the time to understand the fine detail of where the client is now and what got them here. Then we listen hard to fully appreciate where they want to go, and by when. Then we explore the best way or ways to get there - together. Clients appreciate that and it’s a part of our business.

Second, we talk about Harlands are evolving the role and perception of accountants. This means we are committed to both the continual improvement, and the unique requirements of each and every, ever-changing client. And we know that we ourselves have to evolve too in order to achieve this. Learning and moving 'from good to great' in more and more areas of our business as each new assignment is executed. That’s all part of our business too.

And because we’re good at it and clients recognise our value – we grow.

But what else can we do? Outside of our core purpose? Something that reflects our personality, too.

What else can we do that is just – well – nice?

And that got us thinking.

So on next months blog, we’re going to write it down. Not in a shouty way. And just once. Because we want to have a think about how we can do something nice. And good. Just for the sake of it.

And you never know - maybe you can too?