Success is not a solo sport 

I like to think that I work hard but nothing that I have achieved has ever been done alone. 

Both Hudson Accountants and now Minerva Accountants owe a lot to my fabulous teams. When starting out I learned so much from other accountants and coaches who generously shared their ideas and experience.  

I have used a fabulous business coach to help me clarify those ideas and apply them to my own business. And to hold me accountable for getting things done! 

I’m pretty sure that my books wouldn’t have won the awards they did without the skill of my publisher gently helping me to share my expertise in my own words but also in a form that is easy for you to read. 

As a parent I was fortunate that my children had a wonderful father and, although I chose the traditional female role of primary carer, he did a lot to support me. 

I’m currently doing Couch to 5k for the umpteenth time to recover my running fitness after my operation earlier this year. It’s the first time that I’ve done it with a group of people and it has been great for keeping me motivated on rainy evenings. 

To everybody who has helped me along the way, a big thank you.  

But what can I do for you? I provide individual and group coaching sessions which have helped clients to develop award winning businesses themselves. And, for those just starting out we have free webinars each month.  

The difference between spending and investing 

Oscar Wilde once said that “The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing” and this is often true of accountants who are associated with cost cutting. 

Here at Minerva we prefer to see spending as investing. What do we get in return for the cash? 

As a small business ourselves working for small business clients it is important that every pound we spent generates future value. It’s why we invest in things such as marketing, training and business coaching (yes, as well as being a qualified business coach I also see the value of using a coach myself). These are things that many business owners see as overheads but, spent wisely, that can help to generate future profits through growing your business or operating more efficiently. 

What is your wisest investment in yourself or your business? 

Recruiting and retaining your team

There is a skills shortage in most industries at the moment, so it is more important than ever to look after your team. 

Ways that you can help your people to enjoy working with you 

  • Salary – this is an obvious one, but people rarely leave just for salary 
  • Flexible working – what hours would suit them? Do they really have to work full time office hours? 
  • Remote or hybrid working – where would they like to work? With modern technology do they have to travel to a single location to do their work?  
  • Workplace – if your team do come into a central workplace how can you make it nicer? 
  • Listen – do your team feel able to talk to you? Do you operate annual (or more frequent) appraisals? 
  • Training – this can be a great way to invest in your team to do their current job better or even to take on more responsibility 
  • Promotion – can you offer career progression for your team? It’s not always possible in small businesses but worth trying to expand their roles if possible 
  • Gifts – you can give your staff small gifts and experiences (but not cash or similar vouchers) for up to £50 six times per year and claim the tax on these. (Do check the full details of what you can and can’t provide) 
  • Entertaining – you can provide entertaining of up to £150pa as a business expense but any more than this and you pay tax on the full amount. 

Any other ways that you look after your team? 

More than one tool in your toolbox

When it comes to improving your business you need to have more than one tool in your toolbox.

Although we often start with getting the pricing right we also like to look at other things. My books give you some examples of these but they are broadly:

Efficiencies – implement systems, checklists, automation and delegation

People – get the right people in the right place, suitably trained and equipped, and all pulling in the right direction

Marketing – a baseline level of marketing going on at all times so that you have clients/work already lined up for quieter periods

What else do you do to improve your business?

Know your client

Lots of client meetings this week. Yes, we need to know our clients for AML but chatting to them usually results in extra work. Sometimes it’s a quick query that can be answered straight away and earn ‘brownie points’ and client loyalty but sometimes it is paying work that earns extra fees.

How often do you speak to your clients?

Would you buy a discounted parachute?

It’s a question that Brad Burton asked which got me thinking. (So I hope it will get you thinking too)

Why do we assume that we need to be cheap to be attractive?

Quality is often more important than price. Yes, at Minerva we can use software to churn out accounts fairly cheaply but business advice is much more valuable and that takes time to understand the client’s business. It’s hard to be reactive, let alone proactive, on a tiny budget.

What could you do better in your business if you had a little more time or money to put in? And how much more valuable would that appear to your ideal customers?

Your business, your goals

When I talk to accountants about how to have a ‘better’ tax return season my assumption is that they want to avoid having to do all the work in a short period but I am aware that some accountants choose to work this way. They deliberately set aside December/January to do nothing but work, and then take most of February as holiday, and work part time the rest of the year.

And you will all have different goals for your businesses.

Most goals are a mixture of profitability, work-life balance, and final valuation on exit. But you might have a specific aspiration to drive a particular car whereas I’m happy with my battered old Skoda when it’s too far to walk/cycle or public transport isn’t suitable.

When we take on new clients the first thing we discuss is what motivated them to set up their business. We do this for coaching clients as well as for Minerva Accountants clients so that we can give the best advice. Not everybody wants to grow an empire. Other people are happy to put in longer hours short term in order to accelerate their new startup.

We run Vision and Values sessions for business owners and/or their teams. But you can read ‘Start with Why’ by Simon Sinek to ensure that you are clear about where you and your business are heading.

You can order ‘Start with Why’ here.

Aaaaand I’m back!

This is a bit of a personal one.

After 5 years of debilitating ‘women’s problems’ (not a secret but you probably don’t want the details so just take it from me that it made life seem twice as hard as previously) my recent surgery means I’m now feeling more energised and enjoying life again.

It’s been a long drag but I’m so please that I’ve succeeded in spite of this and it’s all down to discipline and doing the right things

So, what is happening?

1. My third book, ‘Changing the Numbers: how to deliver advisory services for success’ has launched and been shortlisted in the Business Book Awards. I’ve also been giving talks and training on the topic.
2. I’m expanding Minerva Accountants so watch this space
3. I’m opening up more coaching slots (group and individual).
4. Online courses are still available but you will be able to start any time and combine this with a rolling 6 months of group coaching. No more missing out on the start of a cohort.

As always there’s lots of free stuff available for those who want a taster but also for those who can’t afford me yet – Join us for any of the free webinars here.

But it’s not just about me. There is a lesson for all of us:

– discipline gets you through when motivation is lacking
– doing the right things gets you the right results
– coaching can provide the clarity to see what the right things are for your business and gives the accountability to follow through
– support through menopause can help the women in your life to keep achieving their best (thanks Lauren Chiren for your talks that made it clear that I wasn’t ready to retire)

If I can help you please get in touch. I’m looking forward to catching up and I still enjoy a pot of tea.

Why to enter awards

I love judging awards as I get a sneak preview of what the best accountancy businesses are doing. It’s really exciting to see people pushing the profession forwards. This year I’m fortunate to have been asked to judge both the Accounting Excellence Awards and the Xero Awards. (My atrocious memory means that I immediately forget who has been shortlisted and who has won so you can try bribing me with chocolates as much as you like but I just can’t remember)

I also enter my books into the Business Book Awards. The Numbers Business won first place in its category in 2019 which was a really pleasant surprise for a first time author. Growing by Numbers sank without trace in 2021. And just yesterday Changing the Numbers was shortlisted in its category. We’ll find out if it wins at the big awards dinner on 16 May.  

Entering awards can feel like a lot of hassle or you may be afraid of ‘failure’ so why would you put yourself through that?

  1. Writing out your awards application helps you to realise how much good stuff your business has done.
  2. An award or shortlist helps you to stand out from your competitors
  3. Being shortlisted is as good as a win as far as your work is concerned. Making the shortlist is based on how good YOU are. The winner can depend on who else happens to have entered the same year. You might win or lose depending on your competition more than your own work.
  4. An award or shortlist is great for handling imposter syndrome
  5. An award is great for publicity as it gives you something to shout about in your local community and amongst your clients. Local papers like to hear good news although you may need a bit of an angle such as your reasons for starting the business or how you have overcome adversity.

Not all awards are created equal. Some seem to be more about making money for the organisers, either in large entry fees or selling tables at awards dinners. If the winner is dependent on paying to attend the dinner then it is not worth it.

But there are plenty of reputable awards out there.

Both the awards I judge and enter are open to anyone whether you can be there in person or not. And, if you can afford it, you can treat your team to a great night out to celebrate all their hard work. Or take along some clients to remind them that they have chosen to work with a (potential) award winner.

So go ahead and enter those awards. And let me know if you need a hand to prepare your entries.

The baby bear amount

Not too much, not too little, but just right.

If you’re reading this then you’re probably like me and read/watch a lot of other business advice books and other resources. Some appear to repeat the same ideas and other appear to offer exactly the opposite suggestions and sometimes it can be hard to figure out what is right for your business.

Should I invest in this course/software which will all but guarantee success or should I save my money and bootstrap? Although I’m generally in favour of wise spending I often have bootstrap moments.

Should I work longer hours just to ‘get ahead’ or would I be better off spending quality time resting like an athlete recovering from a sprint. After all, you can’t sprint a marathon.

You are not the same person as me and your business is not like mine. Mentoring can only get you so far by sharing my expertise. That’s why I’m so pleased that my qualification is coaching AND mentoring. People come to me for my expertise as a mentor who has been there, got the t-shirt and even written the book but the coaching techniques help me to focus on YOUR business for maximum impact. Together we can stop any prevarication, financial waste, and work out the best strategy and actions for your business.

When you’re running your own business it’s too easy to get bogged down in the day to day which is why I also use a business coach to help me view my business more objectively. So far, so good.

What else do you do to devise your business strategy and to keep on track between too much and too little, too sweet and too salty?