Entering awards

Last month was awards season (congratulations to all the winners and finalists) and, as I often get asked to judge accountancy awards, I thought I’d share some hints for those thinking of entering next year.

  1. Just like in exams you need to RTQ, read the question, and answer what is actually being asked.
  2. Evidence your claims. If you say something you should have evidence to support it.
  3. Do not just cut and paste your marketing blurb or let the marketing department fill in the application. Judges need facts not spin.
  4. If you have the money it is worth using an experienced copywriter who will be able to use appealing words. But do make sure they follow points 2 and 3.
  5. If you don’t enter you’ll never know if you might have won.

Being there

As you may know I do a lot on social media. Whilst I may not follow the advice of experts I do get business this way, and last year I was ranked 4th in ICAEW’s “social media influencer” table.

Here’s my talk on how to use social media to punch above your weight
https://dellahudsonfca.thinkific.com/courses/socialmedia

But the thing that you must do is BE THERE. People often ask for referrals online and I love to be able to recommend experts that I have worked with. It is very frustrating as it creates a negative impression when that expert does not pick up the referral for a week or more. If you can’t be online every day then do set up notifications.

Caffeine pill or freshly brewed coffee?

Plenty of people are dependent on caffeine so why don’t they take caffeine pills? They are legal after all. They don’t even drink instant coffee that can be made in … an instant. 

Instead they prefer to pay exorbitant amounts and wait ages for a barista to perform their dark art. And, even to me, a tea drinker, it is an art. Some of the best baristas even manage a performance up to the standards of Tom Cruise behind the bar in Cocktail (if you’re too young to remember then the trailer is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUwj3OE2LM4 *heads-up to turn the sound down if you have little ones around*).

So then it’s not just the caffeine what are they paying for? It’s the added value of the taste and even the experience of the performance.

If you want to earn higher prices then what can you add over and above the purely functional? 

What’s on your stress list?

This week’s tip is stolen from Andrew and Pete of Atomic. (Sorry guys but I can return it any time you like).

They are amongst my favourite marketing people and almost bounce out of the screen on their videos. But, like all of us, they have their bad days and shared how they coped with a particularly stressful period.

They each wrote down every single stressor that they could think of; even the little things. They then worked out one way of improving each of the items on their list. They didn’t try to make everything go away with a magic wand, but just went with one small improvement for each problem.


For more information on Atomic Marketing have a look at their new website
https://becomeatomic.com/

How to balance working on and in your business

Small business owners usually do a mixture of working on and in their business. It’s very easy to get sucked into working IN your business to generate profits and income today but it is also essential to work ON your business to grow and generate future profits.

So how do we get the balance right?

I use a default diary to try and ensure that I get a good balance at the planning stage.

Monday: ON catch up on admin, clear my inbox, follow up leads.
Tuesday: IN Write, rehearse and record webinars and talks for the speaking and training parts of my business. 
Wednesday: IN Minerva Accountants work.
Thursday: ON/IN Marketing and content writing for myself and third parties as I write content and articles for fintechs and accountants.
Friday: IN/ON Individual and group coaching for my various online programmes and then my own business development time, implementing ideas from books, webinars and conferences that I have attended.

Of course, in the real world, it isn’t easy to stick to this but having it in my diary in the first place means that I am more likely to move my work slots around than to cancel them completely.

On a Friday afternoon I like to plan out any remaining work in my diary so that I can hit the ground running on a Monday morning.

How do you structure your week?

Retirement planning

No matter what age you are it is still worth thinking about how you will save for your retirement. And I don’t just mean saving your teeth.

There are 3 main ways that your business can fund your retirement:

1. Increase value of business for sale

If you have a valuable business this can be sold at the point of retirement to fund your new lifestyle. Your business value will increase if it is highly systemised and not dependent on you.

2. Systemise your business for residual income

If your business is highly systemised you can step out of it or just reduce your hours and still have a generous income. Whilst we often coach accountants and business owners who want to sell up, two of them have been so pleased with the process that they have actually decided not to sell yet as the revamped business operates so smoothly and takes less of their time. It’s a bit like doing up your house for sale and then deciding that you like it so much that you won’t move after all.

3. Increase profits to invest elsewhere

Some businesses have limited sale value as they will always be dependent on the expertise of the owner. In this case it makes more sense to increase your profits to invest elsewhere. Your company can pay into a third party pension scheme or SIPP very tax efficiently or you may prefer to take your profits out now, pay the tax and invest in property.

Whichever way you choose to fund or retirement, and whether you use us to help you to improve your business or not, please remember to take care of your teeth.

Is free really free?

When we say that something is free we usually mean that no money changes hands. But hopefully there is an exchange of value. For instance, I hope that these tips help you and/or your business is some way.

Salesmen often use the phrase “what have you got to lose?” when they try to book some of our time for a chat or a software demo. Well, actually, I will be losing time and for any business owner time is a precious commodity. (Thanks for taking the time to ready this, by the way).

Or perhaps we exchange our contact information for a free webinar. Yes, we too see interest in our free webinars as a legitimate business reason to think you might be interested in the paid advice that we provide as well as further webinars. It’s why we always include an Unsubscribe button in our newsletters in case you really aren’t interested.

There’s also the opportunity cost of watching a webinar when you could be spending time earning money elsewhere, so I need to be pretty certain that those webinars will prove to be a good investment of your time once you’ve signed up. It’s also why we make a donation of 1 day’s education to a Kenyan girl as a thank you to those of you who turn up.

So, next time you offer something “free” as part of your marketing, make sure that there is some value being exchanged.

What is decision fatigue? (part 2)

Decision fatigue is the exhaustion that comes with making constant decisions. My tip this week is to remove some more of the smaller decisions in your life, so here are some ideas for deciding what to eat AND trying to keep it healthy(ish).

I really admire those people who spend a day each weekend bulk cooking for the whole week. Although I love cooking I’m not that organised.

  1. Plan your meals a week ahead so that you don’t end up ordering a takeaway or snacking on junk just because you’re hungry and can’t decide what to eat.
  2. Cook double quantities and freeze half for a busy day.
  3. Order a veg box. You just have to cook what turns up, whether you like it or not. If anybody has any recipes for courgettes where you can’t taste the courgettes then please send them to me. It’s not just the veg box but the only things I have growing in my garden are tomatoes and … courgettes.
  4. Order a fruit box. Healthy snacks! Also pots of dried fruit and bowls of homemade popcorn instead of crisps for those who prefer something savoury.
  5. ‘Hello Fresh’ and similar meal boxes. Choose them in a matter of minutes ready for the following week. It’s great for trying new things and they come with brilliant instructions so the teens are able to cook a meal without input from me.

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

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.