Bring it on

2022 is here and, one week in, I’m still hanging on to my business plan.

What helps is that I have a list of specific actions for all 12 of my main projects for the year. And the actions for the first couple of projects have deadlines and time allocated in my diary. I know some of them will slip, especially the ones for later in the year, but at least it helps to make a good start.

Have you turned your New Year’s Resolutions into an action plan? I really find that it helps.

Make sure that your goals are SMART.
• Specific
• Measurable
• Achievable
• Realistic
• Time-bound

Communication overload – how accessible should you be?

This is the busiest time of year for accountants and we’re often overwhelmed by contact from clients (in addition to the clients who never respond to any of our chasing letters/emails/calls). How accessible are you? And are you too accessible?

My preferred methods of communication is email and I’m able to file these in Outlook and in my CRM for ease of use if I need them later. Many clients prefer phone calls so I take notes and file them in with their other documents and my CRM.

So far, so good.

But I also do a lot on social media for my businesses so people often message me that way on Twitter, Linked In or Facebook Messenger. And sometimes via Instagram or WhatsApp which I don’t use for business. With so many different channels these often don’t get added to my CRM so I’m left with a vague recollection of a message and having to find which platform it was on.

If you have any ideas on how to manage all this I’d love to hear.

I do have some wonderful tools to help with accessibility:

• VOIP + Answer It takes messages and forwards them to me by email
• Melu chat on both my websites is run by human beings based on a series of FAQs that I sent to them and which they are augmenting. They also forward chat summaries to me by email
• Calendly.com is great for scheduling calls directly into my diary and I receive email notification of these too.
• Voicemail – if I don’t recognise a number on my mobile, or if I’m on another call, my voicemail will record messages for me to follow up later.

How do you manage all your incoming communications or are you too accessible?

How to separate amicably

… with the help of a shareholders’ agreement.

A shareholders’ agreement is a bit like a pre-nuptial contract. I always encourage businesses with more than one director/shareholder to get one drawn up and, if they can’t afford the legal fees initially, to at least discuss and document the important parts.

It’s all very well going into business with a friend but I really want them to remain friends when the business has ended.

The agreement includes details of how the company should be run and how each director shareholder will be remunerated.
• What if one wants to work part time while the other is full time?
• What if one is out meeting and greeting and bringing in new clients while the other is in the back office fulfilling all the ‘work’ or operations of the business?
• What if one invests cash instead of labour?
• What if one has a long term illness and has to be carried in the business for a year?

It should also contain details of how the relationship should end.
• Can a minority shareholder be forced to sell out because the majority has found a buyer?
• Can a minority shareholder be tagged onto a sell out by the majority rather than be left with a partner they didn’t choose?
• Can shares be part of a divorce settlement so that a divorced spouse becomes involved in running the business?
• Can shares be inherited if one shareholder dies or will the company buy them back?
• How will the business be valued if one or more directors decide to go their separate ways?
• Can shares be sold to third parties or must they be offered to existing shareholders first?

If you don’t already have a shareholders’ agreement in place consider getting one drawn up now.