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YOU’RE UP ON YOUR NUMBERS, BUT ARE YOU AHEAD OF THE GAME?

In accountancy, as with any business, the skill level of your team is not always reflected in their productivity. You may have the brightest accountants and bookkeepers, but they’ll still be rushing at year end, pulling their hair out with frustration over your clients – why do some of your clients routinely ignore all of your requests for information? Or perhaps they make silly mistakes because of the time pressure which can be costly for your clients and catastrophic for your reputation.

So how can you help this? How can you harness the power of your team and become a well oiled accounting machine?

Does your team know what’s expected of them?

Your people systems and the way you manage your team is just as important as your ability to complete a set of accounts. We’ve worked with excellent accountants, helping them to improve their productivity and systemise their business. The problems are rarely around the skill set of their team, but around the culture of the business, the way the team are managed both by the Business Owner and the Managers within the firm, and the consistency with which they operate.

Do you have targets set within your business and are these enforced? As an example, do you have targets in place for the completion of X amount of tax returns each month, so that December and January aren’t the absolute worst months? How do you measure this?

How motivated are your team? Do you have regular performance reviews with them and listen to their thoughts and ideas for improvement?

Do your clients know what you expect when working with them? (Yes, it is ok to tell them!)

When you take on new clients, and meet with your current clients do you make it crystal clear when you need their information by? Do you explain to them in plain words how important to is and how much more organised and less stressful it will be to operate in advance? Do you have reminder emails, automations to run this?

Perhaps you could build into your teams’ targets – follow up on X amount of clients a week. You can create email templates that are ready to go which serve as reminders, and you can impose rewards for the clients who submit their information to you ahead of the deadline.

Imagine if you received all the information you needed 9, 10, 11 months ahead of the submission date, and that each of your team had a target of X amount of returns each month, with a view to finishing a month, or two months before  the crazy hits?

Do you have plans in place for achieving your deadlines and goals?

Say you wanted to increase your client base by 50% in 5 years. Ask yourself what would need to be in position in three years for this to be on track. Then in 12 months. And finally in 90 days. We call this 3-1-90 planning and it really works to drive and motivate towards achieving your goals.

So let’s get planning, here’s why:

1. Helps you to spot opportunities 
A consistent planning system, and planning calendar, forces you to step off the hamster wheel once in a while and get your head up. It gets you to review your progress to date – what’s worked well, what hasn’t, what lessons can be learned. It provides space and time to think – about what you want to happen, what might get in the way, how you can get round any obstacles. It opens you up to opportunities, that you might otherwise miss.

2. Brings individuals and teams together and breaks down silos 
All too often, specialist teams, or individuals within a business can get lost in their own little world, and not be able to see the value that others bring to the business, or the challenges others face to get things done. Regular planning creates the opportunity to bring people together from different areas of the business to review the way work is done from the customer’s perspective and make plans based on what is best for the whole business.

3. Creates a safe environment for new and creative ideas 
Meet ‘that’s not the way we do things round here’ – first cousin to, ‘we tried that before, and it didn’t work’ It’s this type of statement that will prevent the flow of ideas in your business, and even your best people will not put their creative heads above the parapet if they know they’ll be shot down in flames. Your planning system offers a structured way to talk openly about the challenges facing your business, and ask for new and creative solutions to overcome them.

4. Gives everyone the chance to contribute 
How motivating and exciting to be part of something that is growing and achieving success, thanks in part, to your contribution. Involve your team in your planning, and you involve them in your Vision for the future – you give them the opportunity to create it. How much more engaged do you think they will be? How much more ownership do you think they will take?

5. Exposes your blind spots 
We all have them. We can all be blind to our own strengths and weaknesses, to our innate prejudices, to other people’s talents and the value they add; and often we need others to shine a light on our blind spots. It’s the same in business – we all see things from our own view point, and benefit enormously from understanding how others see things. Planning gives us a framework for this.

6. Puts the customer first
Life planning puts you first. Business planning puts the customer first, and ensures that the focus is on what’s best for the customer, building trust and ensuring that everyone is focused on what really matters.

7. Keeps your products & services relevant 
It’s your customers who decide whether your products are relevant to them or not, and it’s your planning system that will ensure that you check in with them – that you look for more innovative and effective ways to meet their needs and satisfy their wants.

8. Builds a stronger management team 
Regular planning, focused on the business as a whole, brings the management team closer, and helps them to see the value – skills, experience and expertise – that they each bring. It’s also a great way of developing them, teaching them to focus on the end goal, and the strategies and tactics that will get you there.

9. Determines priorities 
Your planning system is a key element in your continuous improvement cycle: plan – implement – review – plan. You start the exercise looking at what’s possible, and by the end it’s all about results. You understand your long term goal and you’ve plotted your course to get there. Together you’ve agreed your priorities, you’ve decided on your 90 day goals, you have your action plan, you know your first step. It’s simple and it’s logical, and it’s all about getting the right things done.

10. Builds ownership and accountability 
Any effective plan assigns the who as well as the what, where, how and when. It gives everyone ownership for their own little piece of the business – their role, their goal, their action plan. Ownership and accountability are the key differentiators between a regular team, and a high performing team. Your plan will drive this.

Take time out to look in in your business and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll discover.

Marianne Page, For more information, please visit https://www.mariannepage.co.uk/

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Business

THE BASICS OF BUSINESS FINANCE

When you’re starting your business, you’ve got a lot to be thinking about. You need to find affordable suppliers, market your business effectively, bring in paying customers, and perhaps even hire staff to get your fabulous idea off the ground.

Although they’re not the most exciting of these topics to think about, your business finances and how to best manage them should be at the top of your list. Get them right from day one and you can worry less about those smaller details and focus on making your business a success. Get them wrong, and you could be creating unnecessary stress and worry that could potentially harm your business.

With this in mind, here’s a useful introductory guide to business finance that can help you navigate the basics.

 

Find the right business bank account

Choosing a business bank account is a key decision that could either save or cost your business money. It will help you keep your personal and business finances separate, budget effectively, manage your accounts and complete your tax returns more easily, even if you’re just a sole trader. You may also be able to access financial support that has been specially tailored to your business needs.

However, business banks offer different services and charge different fees compared to your personal bank account. That’s why it’s worth finding out which account would be best for your business needs.

According to leading small business advisors Informi, “The high street banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest) have all upped their game in order to keep up with the digital-only offering of the so-called challenger banks (Monzo, Starling, Tide Business).”

 

Keep track of everything

Whenever your business spends money or earns money, you should make sure you’re making a note of it and keeping the information somewhere safe.

Getting organised early will simplify your bookkeeping and accounting process, form great business habits and help you stay financially in the black. Depending on your business structure, this may also be a legal requirement.

This should include, but not be limited to:

  • Incoming and outgoings
  • Invoices sent (including invoice dates, numbers and full client information)
  • Inventory details including dates purchased, stock numbers, purchase prices, dates sold, and sale prices.

 

Understand your tax obligations

Starting a brand-new business is an exciting time and the last thing you want to think about is taxes. However, you also don’t want to be hit with a large, unexpected tax bill at the end of the year. That’s why you should always be clear what your obligations will be and budget for it accordingly.

What you need to pay depends on whether you’ve registered as a sole trader or as a limited business:

Sole traders (self-employed): You’re liable to pay tax on all your income after your personal allowance is deducted. You’ll also need to pay your own national insurance contributions.

Limited companies: You’ll need to pay corporation tax and make employers’ national insurance contributions. Any employees must pay tax and national insurance on their income via a PAYE scheme. If you’re hiring freelancers, they may need to take care of their own tax.

This needn’t be confusing if you’ve kept financial records from the beginning and you’re clear on what you need to pay. For more information on UK government business taxes, visit their website.

 

Consider whether you need finance

Paying for your new equipment, premises, advertising, wages and other overheads can soon add up when you’re in the initial stages of starting your business.

If you don’t already have enough funding, you could get extra support from the government or bank. This may be in the form of a loan or grant such as the UK government StartUp loan.

However, be careful about taking on too much debt, especially during these unpredictable times of the coronavirus. Consider how much you can repay and make your decision accordingly.

 

Summary

Take care of your business finance basics and it will be much easier to start and sustain your new business during these challenging times.

Make sure that you choose the best bank for your needs, keep detailed records, understand your tax obligations and consider whether you need extra finance to help get your business off the ground.

But most of all, have fun! This is the start of an exciting new era in your life.

 

Sources
‘Choosing the best business bank account’https://informi.co.uk/business-administration/choosing-best-business-bank-account

‘6 Small Business Finance Basics You Must Understand’https://smallbiztrends.com/https://smallbiztrends.com/2016/01/small-business-finance-basics.html
‘Business finance and support’https://www.gov.uk/https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/finance-support·
‘Apply for a Start Up Loan for your business’https://www.gov.uk/https://www.gov.uk/apply-start-up-loan
‘Business tax’ – https://www.gov.uk/https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/business-tax
 ‘Finance Your Startup Business’ https://www.startupdonut.co.uk/https://www.startupdonut.co.uk/financing-a-business/start-up-funding/finance-your-start-up-business

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Business

HOW THE IMPORTANCE OF E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS GREW DURING THE PANDEMIC

Never in history has the world relied more on the internet than during this Covid-19 pandemic. With governments imposing lockdowns and other social distancing measures everywhere, disruption to the traditional demand and supply systems has been inevitable. Today, businesses and the world population at large are turning online for solutions to this sudden paralysis. This is where the importance of e-commerce platforms is manifesting.

While the concept of online shopping is nothing new, its importance has grown several folds during these Covid times. The increasing limitation of movement and international border restrictions are some of the reasons more people are opting to do business over the internet. Put otherwise, e-commerce is helping the world to cope in various ways that we discuss below.

 

Facilitating service delivery

Think about this; the education system is a service delivery sector that plays such a crucial role in the growth of the world. It facilitates discoveries, sharing of knowledge, employments, and interactions among people. Unfortunately, all this was severely interrupted by the pandemic, with most schools now closed down to minimize the spread of the virus.

E-commerce platforms are offering alternate places where learning can take place. For example, schools are now actively setting up websites where students can enjoy remote access to tutors and learning materials. This has seen businesses go on as usual, but with the exception of physical interactions.

 

Empowering the product industry

Any business, whether new or established, small or large, can sell its products over the internet. Today, some of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, including Shopify and WooCommerce are making it easy for entrepreneurs to set up online stores. Use them to diversify your marketing channels, reach more potential customers, and make more money.

A properly set up online store is just as effective as a land-based one, with the added comfort of operating it from anywhere. You no longer have to stress about business closure and staying jobless. It also offers an alternate way for your customers to find your products, pay, and provide feedback for future improvements.

 

Providing entertainment

Statistics show that digital streaming services like Netflix and YouTube are thriving more now compared to pre-Covid times, but why so? With people spending more time indoors, there’s an increased demand for streaming content including music and movies. So, if you have any exciting projects that you’d like to share with the world, now is the best time to do it!

Governments everywhere are barring traditional entertainment as a measure to minimize human interaction. Luckily, there are a few effective ways to go around these restrictions with e-commerce. For example, you can build an audience and make money while at it by sharing ideas through articles, making online videos, or even promoting other people’s content.

 

Offering venues to sell intellectual property

The internet offers an excellent platform to sell your skills, insights, and expertise. For instance, think about readers and students; where are they getting reading materials with book stores now closed?

You can bridge this gap by joining online stores like Amazon to sell your hardcover books, magazines, and any other intellectual property. If you’re a musician, this is also a great time to ramp up your marketing by focusing on platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify and SoundCloud among others.

 

Creating alternate supply chains

E-commerce platforms are offering alternative supply systems for delivering necessities to consumers. For example, with the traveling restrictions imposed in some places, it means business owners have to rely more on the online supply systems to deliver goods.

In the same vein, online shops are providing safe ways to restock supplies; consumers no longer have to walk to groceries, chemists, or shops to pick the necessities. Less movement translates to reduced chances of getting infected, and a step in the right direction in the fight against Covid-19.

 

Providing channels for crowdfunding

If you have a revolutionary idea or activity that you’d like people to support you on, this is a great time to promote it online. For example, people discovering foods and drugs that help to manage Covid-19 symptoms are getting a lot of support in donations.

To get started, all you need is to set up an account on e-commerce platforms like GoFundMe or Kickstarter. If your idea resonates well with your target audience, then you’re all set to do something you love while uniting people for the common good.

 

Conclusion

Covid-19 is nothing like we’ve seen before and is sure to change how we live and view most things. Luckily, e-commerce has enabled people to lead near-normal lives, given that you can order, buy, or sell pretty much anything without necessarily interacting physically. With no end in sight for this pandemic, it’s safe to say e-commerce is here to stay!

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