What is decision fatigue?

Decision fatigue is the exhaustion that comes with making constant decisions. My tip this week is to remove some of the smaller decisions in your life so here are some ideas for deciding what to wear.

I’d like to think that I simplified my wardrobe long before Steve Jobs or Barack Obama but I don’t know when they started to wear their ‘uniform’ rather than spending time deciding what to wear each day.

  1. The simplest thing is to limit your wardrobe to one main colour so that you need fewer changes to match outfits. You may have noticed that I’m almost always wearing blue with black footwear.
  2. I also wear branded polo shirts and jeans for normal work days. They’re as comfortable as a t-shirt so can be worn when working from home but the collar makes them slightly smarter. Choose something that matches your business image.
  3. These days I follow a 333 clothes system where I choose 33 items of clothing (excluding underwear and sports kit) to last me 3 months. Any seasonal clothes get stored in a box in the loft. I’m pleasantly surprised that I haven’t needed to cheat yet but you set your own rules.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Underselling or underserving

Many of us are nervous of appearing too “salesy” but do we end up underserving our clients/customers as a result?

Thinking back to a long lunch with a friend a while ago now. We ordered our food and drinks and enjoyed a good chat. But the food took a long time to come, a minor irritation as we hadn’t been prewarned but we weren’t in a rush. We had, however, finished our drinks and wanted to order more.

There was no server in sight so we became very conscious of the food delay as well as our lack of drinks.

If only somebody had stopped by to ask if we needed anything else we would have continued our conversation over fresh drinks and stopped looking at our watches.

In failing to sell to us they actually ended up underserving us. They could have sold 22% extra (I’m an accountant, of course I worked it out!) AND had very satisfied customers.

So don’t be embarrassed about upselling or cross selling if you think your client/customer needs it (and, if they don’t need it you shouldn’t be trying to sell it to them anyway!).

What to do when staff outgrow you

In a small business it isn’t always possible to provide a full career path for all your team. Even if you are growing your growth rate may not be the same as that of each individual employee.

So what can you do when a member of staff asks for more responsibility, a promotion and/or a pay rise?

  • Decide whether they are ready to take the step up with your support
  • Check your business plan to see if it is possible to accelerate any recruitment or restructuring that you had planned
  • Decide whether you want to keep the individual in your organisation by adapting your plan to include them
  • If you can’t accommodate their needs then switch your role to one of career mentor and help them to move on to the most suitable role outside your organisation.

It’s always sad to lose a good member of the team but sometimes their needs are no longer compatible with those of the business and you need to go your separate ways rather than force them to stay and become frustrated.

What can I claim for using my home for business?

Yes, we claimed a small amount for you working from home for Upstarter for November 2019 and I have a note to do a proper calculation.

How many rooms do you have in your home excluding kitchen/bathrooms? Do you have a whole room dedicated to the businesses or is it only a half? Eg if you have 6 rooms in your home and a dedicated home office then 1/6 of the costs of running your home relate to your office.

BUT your office is probably used for your home admin at weekends too so maybe 5/7 is business related. As the office is not used for business 100% of the time it is not subject to capital gains tax when you sell your home. This means that 1/6 x 5/7 of your costs relate to the business.

Included in your costs are:

  • Mortgage interest (not repayment) or rent
  • Council tax
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Cleaner
  • Some other costs are also acceptable so talk to us about anything else.

Sole traders and partnerships can just include these costs as capital introduced to the business. Limited companies will need a licence from the director to the company.

Quick software hacks

Software is changing all the time but here are a few useful bits that you may not have spotted in your existing software:


  • I still come across people who haven’t set up bank rules for repeating payments such as rates and salaries.
  • If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper using Xero then it is worth doing their online certification course to learn all the main tips and tricks.
  • There is a new short term cashflow report which can be particularly useful at this time. It forecasts your cashflow for the next 7-30 days based on invoice due dates although it doesn’t include payments for such things as salaries and taxes.
  • Use the invoice reminders to gently chase overdue invoices where customers may have forgotten them.

Thrivecart are offering a lifetime subscription for you to handle all your online sales through one platform. You will still need to use a payment provider. We use Stripe for card sales but you can use GoCardless or Paypal.

  • ​Many apps that don’t have a direct interface can be connected by using Zapier. An action in one app can trigger an action in another app using Zapier rather than coding. It’s so simple that even I can do it (and I haven’t even done the training yet).

Let me know your other hacks and shortcuts as efficiency is so important in business.

Why accounting software is like tea making

If you don’t already know that I’m a tea addict then you’re clearly immune to all my communications (please tell me that you know that I’m a business coach?).
Accounting software is a small but important part of my life and it frustrates me when people don’t use it correctly. It’s the equivalent of slinging a teabag in a cup and claim that’s a cup of tea or confusing instant coffee instead of a proper brew. 
If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. And, if bookkeeping or anything else is not your cup of tea (pun intended), then outsource it and spend your time doing what you love and where you can earning more.

4 hour work week

Have you read the book ‘The 4-hour work week’ by Timothy Ferris?

I read it a few years ago thinking that it would help me to run my business more efficiently in just 4 hours a week. Whilst it does have lots of efficiency tips for any business, it was built around the idea of building a business purely to earn money to finance a lifestyle. While this may be your objective too I was disappointed that there was no thought of creating enjoyable work or focus on serving a client’s needs. 

If you haven’t read the book then I can recommend it as it certainly gave me a few ideas that helped me to run a business I loved in a 25-hour work week, and I believe we helped our clients and their businesses too.


Being consistent on social media

Anyone who’s already read my latest book ‘Growing by numbers: How to scale up your business with confidence‘ will know I talk up the importance of steady marketing throughout the year.

A large part of your marketing plan should include having a strategy to ensure a consistent and active presence on social media. Here are a few tips based on what I have found works well for me:

  • Find the right platforms for your business – think about your target market, your professional network and factor in where you feel comfortable hanging out too. For me, Twitter continues to be my number 1 social media space , but I also have a presence on LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Find a scheduling tool that works for you. My system of choice is Smarterqueue.
  • Set up a bank of key messages and reminders that can go out regularly on a repeat loop, e.g. we have a course that starts with a new cohort each month – we send regular reminders about that out and schedule repeat posts. Don’t forget that not everyone sees everything all of the time, so while you might worry about being repetitive, chances are that other people won’t get that impression.
  • Set time aside on a weekly or fortnightly basis to update your plan and schedule new posts.
  • Outsource where it makes sense to –  I work with a Virtual PA who updates the website and posts my blogs on a weekly basis – she then schedules posts to go out several times to share new information.
  • Build up a bank of visuals to go out with posts, incorporating brand colours and fonts and a mix of free stock images and brand photographs where you have some – we use Canva regularly for this  (again, my Virtual PA works on this on a regular basis).
  • While lots can be scheduled it’s important to show up in person consistently too – after all, it’s called ‘social’ media for a reason. If you don’t naturally find yourself engaging with others on each platform you’ve a presence on throughout the week, set aside some time each week to do just that.

The power of a diverse team

I once worked with a young lad who had exactly complimentary skills to mine. Together we made the perfect team as we shared the same values and would happily shunt the workload between us to whoever was best suited to handling the task or customer. This compatibility meant that, although only two people, we were probably as effective as three.

I’m afraid that I spoilt the dynamic when I went off to have babies and then moved to France.

Roll forward several years and my own kids operate as a power team as one thinks linearly and precisely, while the other is a problem solver who thinks so far outside the box that they don’t even realise that there is a box. For years now their combined efforts have been enough to outwit most adults. (It’s also why I have so many grey hairs just from trying to stay ahead of them).

Even if you never discover such a perfect pairing it is worth having a diverse team who bring different skills and ideas so that the combined efforts are much more than the sum of the individuals.