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 Monday morning made me sad

I recently decided to make a concerted effort to stay on top of my emails. Not an Inbox Zero exercise where you just hide them in different folders (I tried it and out of sight is definitely out of mind for me) but actually dealing with them. As part of this exercise, I started measuring how many emails I have in my inbox when I log on in the morning and how many I have at the end of the day. Of course more emails come in throughout the day too but I don’t currently measure these.

It is quite alarming how many emails come in outside of conventional office hours!

Some of these are automated or from clients and colleagues in different time zones or people who, like me, choose to work odd hours but most are not.

And far too many people were working over the weekend so my inbox was jammed when I logged on on Monday morning.

If you’re one of these people and you’re working through necessity rather than choice then I really wish that we could talk. I’ve always run my businesses on an average of 25 hours per week and it breaks my heart to see people working long hours and missing out on family or personal time when I know I can help them.

We have all sorts of options from individual coaching to group coaching and online courses. If you’re really strapped for cash then I run free webinars and write books but frankly, most people don’t take action without a coach of some sort to motivate/nag them.

Have a look at to see what we have available for accountants/bookkeepers and other business owners and make your business work for you in 2023.

I am strong but I am tired

It happens to most of us at some point. November seems to be a busy month for me these days and I’m getting used to it. In the same way that December was busy when I ran a bigger accountancy practice alongside having to do all the family and school Christmas stuff. Many accountants extend this busy period into January too.

There may be other busy periods in your life due to business or home peaks. If you know they will only last for a short period then it is okay to power on through. (It is NOT okay if busyness is the norm!)

It is okay to feel tired. It is not a weakness. So here are a few tips to get through busy periods. Not all of them will be possible but hopefully one or two will help you.

1. Plan ahead and clear the decks as much as possible beforehand
2. Update your systems and processes in the quiet periods to make your busy period as easy as possible. This is why we run two strategic planning days in the new year. January for business owners and February for accountants (Check out our website or reply to this email for more info)
3. Learn to say “no”. If it doesn’t have to be done in your busy period then say “no” or “later”.
4. Balance your whole load. If you are having a busy period at work then be gentle with yourself at home. Your family can survive on oven meals for a short period and they may even see it as a bit of a treat. Your housework will also wait for you or get your kids to help out (it’s probably better than nothing and will train them for later life)
5. Ask for help. This may be from family, friends or employing extra help.
6. Buy extra time. I have two wonderful cleaners who work wonders on my home once a week so that I am free to get on with my work or to do something for me.
7. Try to take some rest and time for yourself. Even in your busy periods try to take at least one day off for you each week. And remember that working late will leave you too tired to work productively the next day so better to finish a bit earlier and get a good night’s sleep.
8. Remember to eat, sleep, hydrate and exercise to keep yourself as strong as possible.
9. Find a way to relax quickly. What are the quick, simple pleasures in your life? I like a bubble bath or a walk by the sea or a massage (anyone else get tense shoulders hunching over their desk?). None of these need to take much longer than 30-60 mins but they make a world of difference.

Please feel free to send me any other tips for this list.

What business owners can learn from cats

Bryony Thomas (author and founder of Watertight Marketing*) may liken customers to cats in the way we tempt them in but never own them. But I think business owners can learn by watching cats themselves.

Cats generally spend vast portions of their day sleeping. Many business owners don’t get enough sleep. Learn how to take better care of yourself in this, and other ways.

Cats do as little as possible and we should all learn to work more efficiently so that we can work fewer hours. The recent trial of the 4 day week has left 90% of the participants intent on adopting this as a permanent measure as they became much more productive.

Cats can become quite loud and insistent when they want food. Do you need to ask for what you want more clearly? Perhaps a little more politely though.

Cats are very good at expressing their thanks. Do we need to say thank you more? Although I wouldn’t suggest rubbing yourself all over your customers.

Cats are all about cupboard love. Whilst this isn’t a good way to develop real relationships being nice to people will definitely smooth the wheels of industry.

Many people are allergic to cats and we should accept that not everybody will like us. That’s why we tailor out marketing to the type of client where we can help most.

What qualities do you think dogs have that business owners can learn from?

*If you haven’t yet read Watertight Marketing I’m happy to recommend it. You can buy a copy here and don’t forget to register for Bryony’s free workbook.

The most important training session

The most important training session isn’t the toughest one, and it isn’t the last one before your A race. It’s the one that you really don’t want to do but you do anyway. It might be a cold, wet, or icy morning. Or it may be during a heat wave. But having the discipline to do that tough session instead of skipping it is what will make all the difference on the big day.

That’s why we include actions and accountability in all our courses*, group coaching sessions, and of course our individual sessions. Yes, I like to think that you’ll feel motivated by my eloquent words and inspirational ideas 😉 but on Monday morning it’s up to you to get things done.

Discipline is worth much more than motivation.

*next cohorts start 15th Sept so do get in touch if you keep meaning to book but haven’t got around to it yet. You can find out more about our courses here.

My life isn’t as perfect as my timeline

Nobody’s is!

I’m all in favour of authenticity but I also hate oversharing. You’re my wonderful clients and business contacts, not my best friends, and there need to be boundaries in every relationship.

We all draw that line in a slightly different place. Although I will never deny that I have dirty laundry I certainly won’t be airing it in public. In spite of my very public social media profile, I’m actually an introvert and a naturally private person. I’m also a positive person who prefers not to dwell on any negatives in my life.

I love social media, especially Twitter, but there is a strange phenomenon where we all think we know each other perhaps better than we really do. The downside of this is that it is surprisingly easy to be the victim of ‘catfishing’ and all sorts of fraud.

There is also a tendency to believe that what we see is the whole story. Whilst some people overshare, others overedit causing real FOMO and other envy or depression in others who feel that they haven’t achieved as much. I love celebrating your successes, but I also assume that you’ve worked as hard as I have and there is blood, sweat and tears behind the picture of you with your latest award.

So here are a few things that you need to know about me that I don’t explicitly mention:

  • Like you, I often think about jacking in my business and taking a normal job for an easier life. Running a business is never as glamorous as it seems on the outside. I think it is this experience that makes me a good coach, even more than my Coaching/Mentoring qualification.
  • Although I’ve generally worked with wonderful teams, I’ve also had to dismiss people. I try to do this legally and as kindly as I can.
  • My kids have grown up into fabulous people that I enjoy spending time with but some days they’ve exhausted my patience. If you have a small business and you’re short on sleep, I completely understand.
  • I’m in the process of getting divorced. Fortunately, it’s all amicable but sometimes I really have to bite my tongue and remember to act like a grown up (and he’s probably doing the same)
  • Some days I find it hard to get started. Without motivation it’s just hard slog dependent on discipline.

I don’t think it helps anybody to have the details of my rough times but that doesn’t mean that everything is 100% rosy.

Do you think you have the right balance between being genuine and oversharing?

A mindset for distinction

Today I learned that I had earned a distinction in a singing exam that I took earlier this month. But it almost never happened.

Mindset fail: I spent too long believing that I couldn’t sing.

After failing to get into my school choir I spent most of my life believing that I couldn’t sing. A few years ago I took a few vocal coaching lessons with my daughter’s singing teacher to help strengthen my voice as I was doing more professional speaking.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could sing better than I thought and I went on to get a merit for my grade 3 Musical Theatre just before lockdown.

With lessons and exams cancelled through lockdowns etc it has taken a while to get around to my grade 4. My exam was in the morning (I’m not a morning person) but I didn’t want to postpone any longer. My daughter also needed to get her grade 7 out of the way so that she can squeeze in her grade 8 and diploma before she heads off to university.

The first two songs sent okay although I could hear that my voice was a bit husky due to hay fever but I carried on as best I could.

Mindset fail: I let one small problem take over my mind

Then we came to the third and final song which I usually sang a whole tone lower than the official score. It’s easy to turn a knob to transpose on an electronic piano but this was a new venue and there was only a grand piano! I had a panicked talk with my accompanist and asked what key I should sing in. There was no choice but to go for the original key. I knew I could only just make the top notes which is why we’d chosen to sing it lower so that I could belt them out with confidence.

I was so fearful that, part way in, I had a complete mind blank and forgot the words! It’s not like when I speak on stage where nobody knows if I’ve diverged from my script; the examiner had the lyrics and score in front of him. I carried on singing some made up words and may have got away with it but then I couldn’t even do that so I had to stop to ask my accompanist for a prompt. I knew I’d blown it and I wanted to leave the room so I could have a comforting cry.

I was cross with myself for letting my terrified thoughts force me into such a simple mistake. But at least I had nothing to lose so I carried on.

Mindset success: I stopped being scared

Just before the belt with the terrifying high notes I remembered my teacher’s instruction to ‘relax’ and her tips on using less breath.

I didn’t just hit the notes, dear reader, I hit them well!

Overall I lost a few marks for the memory lapse but I handled it professionally and didn’t allow it to affect the rest of the performance.

But how many times do we fail just because we’re too scared to try?

Like wildlife on a safari

I love what I do but I also like to spend quiet time away from my business. This is the life part of my work-life balance. Now that my kids are older it provides time for enjoyment and also for rest so that I am refreshed when I get back into work.

We can all benefit from some quiet time in our lives.

I was fortunate to spend my honeymoon on safari in Kenya. As we waited quietly by a waterhole the wildlife drifted into view and we were lucky to see all of the ‘big five’ animals: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses, and African buffalo as well as some gentler giraffes and zebra.

At home, when I take time to wait quietly or, more normally for me, to walk or run gently, I am rewarded by ideas.

How often do you get away from your desk to get fresh ideas?

Do you invest in yourself?

Several years ago I started speaking to promote my old accountancy business, Hudson Accountants. Like most people I hate public speaking but I went to a school that taught this useful business skill and, by about the third event, I felt reasonably comfortable.

Until I joined the Professional Speaking Association!

Being an occasional speaker is very different from being a professional speaker and so I felt that I needed to relearn my craft. Fortunately the PSA is really good for helping speakers to speak more and speak better and I am now a full member, a former Regional President, and I’ve been invited to speak at one of their national conferences for the second time.

Usually I speak to accountants and business owners who are more interested in my content than the way I deliver it. At the PSA my peers will (kindly) analyse the way I deliver my expertise too. It can be quite scary but I know that, if I’m brave enough to ask for feedback, they will be very helpful.

How do you make sure that you’re always getting better at what you do?

PS. If you’re new to speaking then I recommend joining your local Toastmasters or ask me about individual speaker coaches.

How to manage two businesses, write two books and look after yourself and your family

When I’m introduced at speaking events it usually includes something about how I run two businesses, write my books and look after two teenagers. It sounds a lot but here’s how I do it and how you can manage more too.

First, I try to limit my work to 25 hours per week to ensure that I have time for me and my teens. If I do something personal during the working day then I may choose to work an evening to compensate or I may accept that these is a quieter business week to make up for the weeks that are busier.

Pre covid I would try to book a holiday once a quarter. I think most of us have fallen into bad habits through lockdowns so do book your time off even if it’s just to pamper yourself at home rather than to go away. Rest is important to keep performing at our best.

I love everything that I do so no single part of it seems too onerous. I do find deadlines can be stressful so it is important for me to stay ahead of those by preparing early.

My life involves quite a bit of juggling so my diary is essential for my sanity. I have a default diary which schedules each morning to focus on a different aspect of my business. I split my main to do list between each of those 5 areas. The afternoons are kept free for meetings. If I have a speaking event that means that I can’t do one of my morning sessions then I move the appointment to another time.

On Fridays I double check my diary for the next week and move items from my to do list into an allocated morning slot.  My diary is usually pretty fully booked for two weeks ahead and probably half booked for the two weeks beyond that.

I’ve written elsewhere about the benefits of systemising, automating and delegating but please feel free to share your top tips too.