The ‘Icarus’ budget 

I set up my first business with the intention of doing a few sets of accounts from the kitchen table to fit around my kids. But my background BC (before children) was running larger businesses and, if you do the right things, you get the right results. I needed to decide whether to limit my activities or to deliberately grow the business which would entail taking on staff and premises.

In the meantime somebody talked me into running the Bristol and afterwards, high on endorphins, I wrote my ‘Icarus’ budget. Yes, I really did name it that as I didn’t know if what I was planning would be achievable on just 25 hours per week (because I still wanted to fit it around my kids)

The rest is history*. Stay off the endorphins kids, you never know what might happen 😉

What would you do if you were feeling brave?

*If you haven’t heard the story then ‘The Numbers Business: how to grow a successful cloud accountancy practice’ is available on Amazon and Audible

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?

Why you need to increase your prices

A lot of business owners avoid increasing their prices, either because they’re worried about losing clients or because they don’t know how to go about it. Even when they know that they need to increase their prices it is too easy to procrastinate (I’m the queen of procrastination, I have all the excuses)

I’ll cover the ‘how’ in separate tips but today I want to talk about why.

We all started our business for a reason which broadly come into one of three areas:
• Profitability
• Build something valuable to sell at retirement
• Better work – life balance

All of these will benefit from having better prices allowing you to earn more money, increase the value of your business, or to earn more in limited time.

But the real benefit to our clients is that we will have time to provide a quality service. To do things properly and not cut corners. And to run a business that will still be around to help them in future years.

When we provide a quality service our clients benefit, they stay with us, and they refer other people to us. It’s a virtuous circle because everybody wins.

To create the business you want you need to charge the right prices.

Welcome to the minimum wage club

I recently did a wholly unscientific survey on Twitter to find out what hourly rate people were earning working for themselves and taking payment as drawings or salary plus dividends.

The shocking, but unsurprising, result was that 25% were earning below minimum wage.

A further 8% were earning less than they had in their previous employment. In spite of taking on additional business risks.

Whilst in start up mode it may feel necessary to reinvest your profits into the business or to work longer hours to save a salary. This is still a problem but there is a finite period. If you have not recovered your hourly rate by the 3 year mark then you need to get some expert help to tweak your business. (This may be me or another favourite coach)

Look at your pricing, look at the type of work that you’re doing, and look at your internal efficiencies before taking on any more work. It’s no good pouring water into a leaking bucket so fix your bucket first.

Please don’t continue working too many hours for too little reward.

Workaholism is an addiction

Too many people seem to be adopting a long hours culture. It’s partly because of the lack of options during lockdown but now it is time to STOP.

Your productivity decreases throughout the day. My average work week is just 25 hours with perhaps 90% of the output of a 40 hour week. A lot of my work requires my brain to be firing on all cylinders and that’s not the case as I start to tire.

So why do people work 60-80 hours per week instead of employing a second person for the job? It’s usually because they’re not making enough money to employ somebody else. On a quick Twitter poll the other day 25% of respondents were making LESS than minimum hourly wage. And a further 8% (33% altogether) were earning a lower hourly rate than in their previous employment.

So increase your prices (we run regular webinars on this) so that you can afford to employ/outsource. When your own hours reduce you will probably find that your productivity increases so that you can provide a better service to your customers.

Bring forward the joy

I heard this in a PSA (professional Speaking Association) talk and it really resonated.

Are we putting off the joy that we intended when we set up our businesses?

Are we reinvesting our profits for faster growth when we should be taking some of it for ourselves?

Are we spending silly hours working to grow the business faster when we could be spending that time with friends and family (now that we’re allowed out again).

If you knew you only had, say, five or ten years to live how would you spend your time?