We’ve all seen shows where the hero is granted three wishes and they don’t quite get what they had in mind. And the same goes for setting targets.
I used to work in supermarkets to fund my way through uni. One of these was in central London and with so many customers living close to the store they often took trolleys all the way home and didn’t bother to return them.
About once a month the trolley boys would be asked to come in on a Sunday and go further afield to collect them in return for £5 per trolley. Not surprisingly, on the Saturday afternoon they would pay local kids to ‘hide’ some trolleys in a pre-agreed location for £1 each. So the store ended up paying for trolleys that were never ‘lost’ and the trolley boys made £4-5 per trolley that they ‘found’.
We must always be careful when setting targets that they prompt the desired behaviour.
Nobody can deny that times are tough at the moment with the double whammy of Covid and Brexit to cope with but we should still spare a thought for our environment and the world that we will leave for our kids.
The good news is that Covid has already prompted some good moves. Here are some ways that we can try to minimise our environmental impact.
Working from home or even at a serviced office close to home will eliminate the need to commute. If you need a commute as a mental break then try a walk around the block at the start and end of the day instead
Running a paperless office will reduce the amount of paper, ink and printers that are used as well as the file and furniture that we store them in. If you need some ideas then this is one of the free webinars that we run at least once a year
Online meetings where possible. Bingo! One of the benefits of Covid is that more people are doing this already. Once they’re interspersed with some real world meetings (business or personal) they should create a better balance
Walking, cycling and using public transport where possible will make a difference. Use a carbon offset scheme when car or even plane is the only option.
In order to understand both sides of an argument I need to ask questions. And I make my kids do the same. Those of you who follow me on social media may have noticed that I have strong views on Brexit but I still want my kids to think for themselves so, even back in 2016, I challenged them to give me 3 arguments for and against leaving.
As business owners we often have to make fast decisions based on incomplete information but it is still important to look at the information that we have and to weigh up the alternatives. Throughout the pandemic and lockdowns businesses have been forced to pivot faster than the 32 fouettés in Swan Lake but pivots and fouettés are both about turning on the spot.
We run monthly Flyby sessions where business owners (accountants and others) can pop in to update their action plans monthly, quarterly or whenever, to that they are moving forwards rather than turning on the spot. It’s much more short term than our full Strategic Planning Day but it will keep you on track for the next month or quarter to ensure that you make real progress.
Initially I chose a 25 hour working week in order to fit around my small kids. These days they’re teenagers and (in normal times) busy with their own lives but I still continue to work shorter hours because, as the advert says, I’m worth it. But it’s not just me who is worth it, we all deserve a decent work-life balance.
It’s up to you whether you structure your time into fewer days a week, or 5 shorter days, or any other work pattern you fancy. Personally I prefer shorter days because I notice myself getting less effective as the day goes on.
Writing my first book made it quite clear to me that I have peak creativity and mental energy for about two hours per day. This is the time for tricky jobs or the really good quality stuff that moves my business forwards.
After that I switch on to less demanding jobs, the bread and butter of what I do.
Finally I move to admin and emails.
I flex the time to suit myself and I particularly like to take time to have lunch with friends or for language or singing lessons. This leaves the evenings free to focus on family. At the moment I’m using the time to get out of the house in daylight hours to get some exercise and increase my mental wellbeing.
How do you complete a big project? One step at a time.
Whether completing a tax return, growing your business or constructing your dream house the steps are pretty much the same.
Decide what the finished thing will look like and when.
Work out the steps that are needed to get there
Put the steps in order of what has to be done first and what can be done in parallel. Some steps will be dependent on others. Eg You can’t put windows into your house until you’ve built the walls.
This is you project plan and can be mapped on software or just a simple checklist.
Break each step down into bite sized pieces. I like to tie this into the Pomodoro 25minute cycles* but this isn’t always appropriate. Eg writing my books I can do about 2 hours at a time straight off (if I’ve already done the research) so it’s better without interruptions.
Work out what resources you need for each step. eg You need all the paperwork etc before starting a tax return and you may want a coach or mentor to help grow your business.
Now that you have the steps and resources add some timings; working back from the final deadline.
Cloud is now old hat. Even before the Corona Virus caused many of us to work from home most modern businesses were going paperless and using cloud based software*
So what software do we use with most of our clients?
Receipt bank – to get your data into Xero as simply as taking a photo or forwarding an email. Optical character recognition does the rest
Xero – to link directly to your bank statements so that your accounts are as up to date as possible for those important business decisions and loan applications
Xavier – which helps us to check the quality of bookkeeping. We use it to check our own bookkeeping and for the few clients who insist on doing their own.
Fluidly or Futrli – to keep track of cashflow which is so vital at the moment
Clarity – to help you improve your business through tracing 7 key indicators.
While the software in our tech tool box does the heavy lifting we can then help you to CHANGE your numbers with our free monthly Money Matters webinars and our online Flyby review sessions. We might recommend other software depending if we think that it will make your business run more efficiently and help you to create more profit for the hours that you put into your business.
*If you’re not already using cloud based software then we can help you to migrate. If for some reason you don’t want to use the software that we like then we’ll be happy to introduce you to accountant colleagues who use other software