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Start with Why

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Start with Why

When I started Sanders Geeson (my accountancy practice business) in 2005 I started with a blank piece of paper. 

I wanted to have my own business, be only accountable to myself, to be in control.   

Staring at the blank piece of paper the question I asked was, “What do I want to do?”   

I thought, I want to help others, make a difference. Who could I help? Business owners of course, I thought.   

I decided I wanted to help business owners to build a successful business, whether that was financially successful – or just doing what they wanted, to fulfil their own dream. 

I started with Why?   

I had a purpose.   

As the business grew typically like all other businesses we had lots of challenges, cliffs to climb, and difficult times too.   

But I had my fire, my passion to help others, make a difference with business owners. This has kept me going. I’m doing the job I always wanted, the one I designed. 
 

So what is your purpose? What is your ‘why?’   

A few years ago I came across a great book, Start With Why by Simon Sinek (he has also recorded a classic TED talk which can be found on You Tube). Why not have a look and get inspired to do what you want, to live your life?   

Get in touch and share your business purpose, your why, with me…I would be delighted to hear from you.  Why ? I have just told you! 
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Starting up a business. Don’t give up! Build bounceabackability…

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Starting up a business. Don’t give up! Build bounceabackability…

 

When I originally started my own business back in 2005 I thought I was going to conquer the world and build a big business quickly.  

Well it wasn’t quite like that.  

I initially read a great book by Alan Weiss on building a brand which emphasised spreading your marketing across many platforms – which is what I did.  

I quite quickly won a few clients including one sizeable one but then unbelievably went four months without winning one new client.  

How do you cope with that?  

I simply kept believing  

I kept doing essentially the same things as I knew they were right.  

I dug deep into my reserves of ‘bounceabackability’.  

I researched and sought advice wherever I could get it (free of course).  

I took work in another firm of accountants to learn more.  

I met other accountants in practice who thought I was mad to start up a new practice.  

But I kept going…..I kept bouncing back.  

And then suddenly, I started winning new clients, lots of them.  

As the business grew a new cliff appeared (I really needed an office) and ever since there’s been new cliffs, new challenges – also some difficult times – but bounceabackability and perseverance is the key.  

So don’t give up!
  

Want to learn more or share your experiences or simply want help, get in touch with the business partner who cares. 
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Your financial numbers are your story

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Your financial numbers are your story

If that isn’t great why not create a happier story by planning your future? 

Accounts are in reality a story – they explain where you have come from – although using numbers rather than words 

As you look through your accounting figures you start to probe, to ask questions.  

You ask ‘Why is that?’ Also, ‘Do they make sense?’ Thinking like that makes you realise that you need to work with your accountant, the business partner to your firm, to understand your story, your history. How did we get here? It is a rich learning experience. 
 

  • But what if you don’t like where you’ve come from?  
  • Why not build a future you want? Why not build your dreams?  
  • You can do this by planning your future.  

Through historic financial numbers (your starting point, where you’ve come from) and strategic planning and forecasts you can start to build the future you want, where you want to be.  

By taking time out and focussing on where you want to be you can come up with a series of action steps (your strategic plan over the next up to 5 years).  

Combine that with the numbers you need to achieve, you have a financial forecast and plan to get where you want. Then keep measuring in a regular disciplined way, we recommend at least quarterly calendar through quarterly management accounts and board meetings, tweaking plans and forecasts and reviewing them all annually. In this way you make yourself accountable.  

Through measuring your past through your accounts, strategic planning and forecasting your future and measuring your performance as you move through your future you have a plan for your success.  

Why not get in touch to let us help you to build a new story, your happier future. 
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Help I’m running out of cash! How 2 things can help you cope with your worst business nightmares

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Help I’m running out of cash! How 2 things can help you cope with your worst business nightmares.


A
client rang me a couple of weeks ago and said “I persistently seem to have no money, I need your help. Sales are up but I’ve got no money!”

I quickly asked about what I call my ‘three quick questions’ which provide a quick tool for analysis:

  1.  What are your stock and debtors levels like now compared to before?
  2.  Are you paying other businesses quicker?
  3.  Have you bought any large items of capital for use in the business recently?

I then discussed a comment he made earlier concerning prices: what are your margins on sales? He confirmed that they had dropped.

I also asked whether he had increased spend on labour, marketing or on other overhead costs in running the business. I was advised that marketing spend had risen but everything else was static.

I could quickly see that the Balance Sheet was under control but I wondered from the conversation whether the business was in fact losing money.

I next suggested he undertook the following actions to get a quick handle of the situation:

Immediately run his profit and loss accounts from his bookkeeping software for the last few months and compare the costs to previous accounts – both in terms of actual spend and in terms of % of sales and then look at recent monthly trends.

Start measuring weekly the key numbers in the business, the KPIs, in this case – bank balance, sales, purchase costs, marketing & labour costs and compare these to year to date and prior year figures, both actual cost numbers and as a % of sales.

Finally estimate fixed costs from past accounts, which shouldn’t vary significantly. From this a ‘Flash’ result can quickly be obtained which if done well should be close to the actual result; ‘close’ is enough for a Flash result. Now you know where you are right now!

Finally prepare a forecast firstly for the next month and then for the next year for these KPIs and the rest of the fixed costs to give a target to measure against for Flash and actual management accounts results. Before preparing management accounts, at the end of each month an initial Flash result can be obtained for that month and compared to the forecast.

By using KPIs and Flash forecasts combined with an understanding of their Balance Sheet, a business can quickly gain information as to how they are performing and take immediate action to control an adverse situation.

Why wait for management accounts to be prepared to know how you are doing?

Contact Jan to find out how we can help get quick control of your business performance.
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The Magnificent 7 Questions to Keeping Control of your Personal Finances

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The Magnificent 7 Questions to Keeping Control of your Personal Finances

All of us check a mirror every day – some of us more frequently than others,
to check if we are looking at our best.

Many of us will keep an eye on our weight, visiting the weighing scales – often with anticipated dread.

Few of us however, keep a regular eye on our personal finances – our financial well-being and standing.

There are seven critical things you need to be checking, if not every day, then at least several times a year.

Here’s our key areas I recommend you should be watching out for:

1. Make checking the look of your finances and your financial ‘weight’ a habit

You should do this at least once a year. A great time to do this is at the beginning of each calendar or financial year.

2. Make sure you protect your loved ones

What will happen to your partner/children/other loved ones? (Do include any pets in your analysis!) 

Another related question is what will happen to my business or my business partners? 

There are in fact lots of different types of personal protection policies, varying as to the level of cover and cost. Income Protection is one type of protection which not many people are aware of, which covers you for losing the job you are presently doing and can compensate you up to your present net profit; it may not be as expensive as you think. Think about it and take action – before it is too late.

3. What plans have you made for your retirement?

Retirement soon comes around. The earlier you start the better, but you probably do need to save more than you think to get the level of pension you want. Indeed do you know the level of pension you want? Is a pension even the right answer? The answer to this latter question can vary with age. 

Have you considered ISA’s or other alternative investments for your retirement? If so, are these strategies right? Long-term starts today!

4. How often do you review the performance of your pensions and investments?

Most of us are guilty of failing to keep an eye on our investments are performing. Have you also considered how your pension is performing? Again, this should be done annually.

5. Have you got a will?

Few of us want to think of the worst; it seems to be tempting fate. The Intestacy rules however, can sometimes be unpredictable. If you have no will the Intestacy rules apply.

Have you thought about wills for your business? These protect you and your spouse and your business partners should you or your business partner become unable to work or die.

6. Have you thought about inheritance tax? 

Although the levels at which inheritance tax start seem high, they affect more of us that expected. Have you prepared a personal Balance Sheet? You might be surprised at the answer; it might make you feel good, but also leave you with an Inheritance Tax headache. 

The importance of these questions can vary at different stages of your life; indeed, are you asking yourself these questions? Do you know the answers?

7. Is this the time to make your exit?

Lastly, don’t forget your own business. How would you like to exit your business? This is something you should be thinking about from starting up the business. If you don’t plan this, you could end up in the wrong place. Starting to think about this with only 2 to 3 years to go could be too late.

Having thought through your magnificent seven questions why not have a chat with us, as we are completely independent; we don’t sell any financial service products.

We can offer a review of your personal finances, the Wealth Tracker. Alternatively we can also help you put together your personal Balance Sheet. Knowing where you are right now and putting in a plan will help you feel in control of your future.

Want to know more? Contact Jan.
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A Problem Shared

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A Problem Shared

It’s lonely at the top.

You’re expected to know all the answers and make the best decisions for your team. You know ultimately, the buck stops with you.

It’s not easy being ‘Superman’ or ‘Superwoman’ in business.

They say that judgment comes from experience: and experience comes from bad judgment.

So, how do you make a good judgment without the cost or pain of a potential bad judgment call?

Being a Managing Director can seem very lonely. No one to share your problems with at an equal level; you may feel you don’t really understand how the business is doing or don’t understand what to do next. You feel stressed and not valued.

Often the answer seems to be to just to slog on alone as you are the boss, be the hero. Yet then nothing seems to change: only the stress levels increases.

To help it would be good to know you’ve got someone to talk to about your problems. A problem shared is a problem halved as the adage goes.

Wouldn’t it be good to have someone on board who can offer many years of experience in running real businesses? Your own right hand man? Someone you can share your problems with and so get answers? A mentor to complement and extend your skills?

Can you relate to these following examples?

James had a great team behind him, he felt the current business performance was a financial success but the financial position of the Company was plagued by historical debt which their foreign business owners demanded they repaid and a large but uncertain legal claim. 

The legacy of the debt and the legal claim muddied the current business performance with their owners insisting that they weren’t in fact making any money – the relationship with the foreign business owner was fraught.

Mentoring discussions helped share the stress and revealed a plan of action which was subsequently put in place to remove the stress.

In Nick’s case, he was unhappy. His business performance seemed to be declining and running the business was no longer fun. Nick decided that the business no longer delivered a good enough service level; maybe they were in the wrong market? Nick decided to close the business.

Acting as a mentor, we helped him to double check if his plan was the best way ahead, and to think through all the issues. We helped him to devise the best action plan in the circumstances to wind everything up. It was a tough decision and a tough job to go through with it. Yet, that was exactly what he did.

Mark sometimes feels alone despite having his team around him and enjoys a very regular catch up meeting to help him sort out his next steps. This has helped him to get focus on the massive recent changes within the business.

James, Nick and Mark were feeling stressed in their work as Managing Directors and found through our mentoring service, that they could find a solution to their problems.

So how can we help?

As well as saving tax, time and worry, we work with business leaders to help them grow their business in the way they want. 

One way we do this, is through meeting with you on a regular basis and acting as a business mentor, someone to talk to, share problems and consequently come up with concrete actions to sort out those problems.

Isn’t it time you started halving your problems?

To learn more contact Jan.