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What’s your high score

What KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) do you use for your business?

There are so many KPIs that you can track but it is important to focus on the handful that are relevant to your business right now. Tracking irrelevant KPIs is about as helpful to my business as chasing my Tetris high score.

It may surprise you that, as a qualified accountant, I don’t include profit in my weekly KPIs. Profit is the consequence of doing the right things. I do, however, track my marketing activity quite assiduously. The number of industry events that I attend/speak at affects the number of books and courses that I sell. This is the right thing for me to do but your business will be different.

Our Strategic Planning Day helps to identify the best KPIs for your individual business but you can take a look and work some out for yourself. Do you need to concentrate on marketing, sales, cash balances or profitability?

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

Where did our dreams go?

Dream big, surround yourselves with great people and don’t be scared to ask for help.

To my children: dream big, surround yourselves with great people and don’t be scared to ask for help.

This is part of the dedication at the front of my first book, The Numbers Business; how to grow a successful cloud accountancy practice. I read it today as I was looking through the book to check some information for a new talk that I’m writing.

When my kids were little they were full of ideas. Their imaginations were limitless. Now they’re teenagers and their dreams are, to me, quite ordinary and definitely small. They’re mainly focused on their everyday lives at school. Where did their dreams go?

As adults many of us are the same. The minutiae of life has left us no time for dreaming. When did you last take some time to assess the ‘big picture’ of your life? What makes you happy? And are you doing enough of your happy thing? This is what led me to sell my successful accountancy practice to focus on the coaching side business that I love.

When you know what you want to achieve you can set the detailed action plan and add some costs and timescales to it. A business plan, but for your life.

Sometime in the next month book a day just to dream. Start with the big, no holds barred ideas. Work out what you really want from life and write this down. Then book a second ‘reality’ day to work out what you can do to achieve this or something similar enough to be satisfying. How do you get from here to there and what help do you need along the way.

To all of you out there: Don’t be afraid to dream big

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