This week I have been mainly …

… celebrating the young people of Bristol.

Friday night I was privileged to be invited to join Amy Kington of Community of Purpose, Regional Mayor Tim Bowles and Lord Lieutenant Peaches Golding at the Bristol Young Heroes Awards dinner. It was a bit of a thank you for a few bits that I’d done for them (accountants are also human beings, after all) and because Xero had kindly doubled the value of a prize that I donated to the organisers, Community of Purpose.

As you may have gathered I’m pretty proud of my own kids but these youngsters had achieved so much against the odds. They were disabled, or young carers, or had suffered early hardships and still managed to do so much. They make a huuuuuuge difference to our community and provide a great inspiration for all; adult and child.

Needless to say there seemed to be a lot of people suffering from hay fever even though I couldn’t see any flowers in the room.

Here I am with Action Hero winner Mohamed Aidid and runner up Tyreke Morgan.

What’s holding you back?

I was always good at maths. At the age of 11 I won a maths scholarship to a posh school and I was expected to move up an academic year too.

I was ok at English but I was definitely more of a reader than a writer. Creative essays and flowery language were not for me (although I do Like poetry) and I particularly detest Thomas Hardy’s descriptions of the Wessex countryside. I much prefer brief, succinct reports. Even now I get great pleasure from finding the exact word that reflects all that I want to say. Concise should be my middle name (It isn’t, it’s Louise, but how were my parents to know all those years ago?)

As a business owner I had to move out of my comfort zone. I started to write blogs and a monthly column for a local free magazine and then, one day, I was asked to write some articles and other content professionally.

And now I’ve written a whole flippin’ book! Not just any book but a bestselling, award winning book! Who would have thought it? (Certainly not me)

I’m a polymath!

But the point I’m trying to make is that I wouldn’t be writing my second book, and commissioned by Bloomsbury to co-author a third, if I hadn’t typed those first few words of that first blog. If I hadn’t done something that I thought I wasn’t able to do.

So what’s holding you back from trying something new? Is it just fear or do you need to go and learn some skills first? Take the first step today and see where you get to. It may be the start of a new adventure or it may prove that you need to call on an expert but just take that first step.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on

Automating is child’s play

My entrepreneurial son has just discovered how to make twice as much £/hr.

1. Cycling his paper round instead of walking doubles his hourly rate

2. Boss is now giving him a longer route so he will earn more £ and still do it in less time

Has he been to my talks about automation?

What next? Delegation?

What do singing and rugby have in common with business?

I was born into a rugby playing family. At least the men played rugby and, apparently, football was a woman’s game.

I did try playing football in my 20s and, being ambidextrous, I could run up and down either wing quite fast and I was equallh incompetent with both feet. I was absolutely rubbish on the ball, played a 99 touch version of the game and lacked the confidence to try a goal even from 2m out. It won’t surprise you that my amateur career was mercifully brief.

One of the things that I had heard my father teaching my brother about rugby is that “if you go in hard, you won’t get hurt”. He meant that you needed to commit rather than faff around. It worked for me in football and for my brother and father in rugby. (The fact that both men suffered broken ribs when talked into “just one more game” in their 40s was more to do with their match fitness than anything.)

I’ve recently started taking singing lessons in order to strengthen my voice for the increasing amount of speaking that I’m being asked to do. I thought I couldn’t sing high notes as my voice “breaks” around B and so I’m cautious above that. It turns out that most people have a break like this and that, provided I attacked the higher notes, I can reach significantly higher. It’s about not faffing around.

If you’re serious about growing your business what do you need to do? And when are you going to stop holding yourself back?

Give it a try and let me know how you get on

Making tax Digital for business owners

Hopefully by now you’re using software which is MTD compliant but there are still a couple of things to look out for:

1.Don’t forget that you will need to register with HMRC for MTD for VAT.

Go into your HMRC account (if you can remember the passwords etc) and sign up there. After that you should be able to use the new service through your software.

2.Watch out if you pay by direct debit as MTD is unable to process a submission under the old system and collect the DD under the new one. I suggest that you finish your final VAT return under the old system and wait for the final DD to be paid before you register for MTD for VAT

MTD for VAT – setting up your new HMRC account

This seems to be creating all sorts of problems for people.

1. Create your new gateway

2. Link to your old gateway

3. Port your existing clients across (sometimes problems if they were authorised by a paper 64-8 instead of online) (No, you can’t see the full list as the bigger firms didn’t want all their clients displayed to all their staff) 

4. Set up each client for MTD for VAT but watch the timing of direct debits eg March VAT DD is due mid May. If you move to MTD before then the DD is not recognised/collected (yes, it’s daft but just work around it for one month)

Give it a try and let me know how you get on

Update: apparently HMRC can now handle the seamless transfer of the direct debits

Top Tip – Eliminating your emails

Sometimes the emails can seem overwhelming so here are a few ways that I like to deal with them.

1.Keep your newsletter subscriptions under control. What may have been useful at one point may now be redundant. Do unsubscribe if it is no longer useful. That goes for my ‘Top Tips for Accountants’ and ‘Top Tips for Business Owners’ too; I have to earn my place in your inbox because I know how busy you are.

2. Move all items for reading to a separate folder. But, as you will probably never get around to reading them, it might make more sense to delete or unsubscribe. Be brutal

3. Use Calendly app to set up meetings and calls. I use the free app which only gives you one length of timeslot. The paid version will allow you to set more meeting lengths and you can set it to build in travel times between your meetings.

4. When you’re starting to build up a bit of an email trail over a single issue then it is often easier to pick up the phone. I know it’s a big deal for an introvert but really, it will save soooo much time.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on

Hints and tips from Xero

Xero are currently running a series of posts on hints and tips to get more out of their software. I’ll collate the links and post them all here

1.Xero mobile app for your clients to do their bookkeeping while out and about. This may be less intimidating for many businesses than the full functionality of the main software. Raise invoices in site and collect payment instantly by card with an app like iZettle. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-2ZRwaup1Gk

2. Invoice reminders can help you chase debts even when you’re busy. (For even more functionality consider add on Chaser.io) https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=vZJ6MGzATmM

Top 50 Women in Accounting

It’s not every day that you wake up to find yourself on the list of Top 50 Women in Accounting.

It was a wonderful surprise to find out on International Women’s Day that I was one of only three women from the UK amongst a number of household names (in the accountancy world, at least) I can’t believe how well this year is going as I see the work of the last few years falling into place.

Thanks to Practice Ignition for sponsoring the award and to all those who nominated me

Top Tip – Pomodoro Technique


This is a great technique when you’re struggling to concentrate as I was earlier this week when I was overtired. It’s also a good way to eat the frog that you’ve been dreading.

– Set a timer for 25 minutes.
– Roll up your sleeves and work intensively on a single task for 25 minutes. 
– When the alarm sounds stop work and stretch your legs etc for 5 minutes. 

You may manage to repeat this 2-3 times in total and you will be amazed at how much you can achieve in a relatively short time. I’d love to be able to work at this 100% rate all the time but the rest of the day usually continues at a more sedate pace after these initial few bursts of mental energy.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.