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What to do when you find yourself on a manel

It’s the 21st century and I think, by now, good women have earned their right to a place on the stage alongside their good male counterparts. But there are still some prestigious events fielding all male panels; commonly called manels (although there are less polite words for them).

Some men, like Xero Founder and UK MD Gary Turner, have joined the fight and already explicitly refuse to appear on all male panels. These are real heroes who understand the importance of true diversity. The annual Xerocon event, at the intersection of the two male worlds of accounting and technology, manages to showcase equal numbers of men and women on the stage.

But not all male panelists feel confident enough to turn down opportunities for exposure. So what can you do?

Here are some suggestions if you find yourself on an all male panel.

Before the event:

-volunteer to step down and try to recommend a suitable female replacement. I actually did this earlier this year when I found myself on an all female panel so it works both ways.

-if you are early in your career and need the exposure or you have specific expertise then try to enlarge the panel by adding a good female member. If you don’t know any female experts in your field then it may be because women and girls don’t yet have enough female role models to step up. This really is your opportunity to make a difference.

-if you can’t find a female expert who is free then try to introduce a female host or MC so that female guests feel more comfortable.

At the event:

-if you discover that you’re on a manel at the last minute, with no time for any of the actions above, then you can probably still find a female member of the audience to join you on stage. They can perhaps ask some of the questions which brought them to listen to your talk anyway. They may even have a different viewpoint to add if they have a more practical role than the male experts.

-learn from this experience and check out the diversity of your next panel at an earlier stage.

-if you find that you have no women in the audience then you’re already noticing the impact of having no women in the stage.

Guys, I hope that gives you some ideas of how you can introduce more diversity into your profession or industry. As for the why:

-more diverse boards and organisations produce better results. This is sound business sense.

-If you have kids you may feel it more personally. I want to remove any barriers that might inhibit my clever daughter from having the same opportunities as my clever son. I’ve made it in a male profession and, quite frankly, I’m weary of fighting men who don’t recognise the privilege which comes with their gender, but I carry on because I don’t want my daughter to have to fight the same battles as I did like some sort of Groundhog Day.

The Pledge,” has a growing commitment and I would encourage you to sign up if you feel able. “At a public conference I won’t serve on a panel of two people or more unless there is at least one woman on the panel, not including the Chair“

 

If you’re not sure what to do then why not ask yourself “What would Gary do?”

Dump the junk

There is always a lot of encouragement to ditch the PITA (Pain in the … Assets) clients in order to focus on our best clients but few accountants seem to get around to doing this.

I recently coached a business owner through dropping his least profitable clients: which ones to drop, what to say, and how to refer them elsewhere if appropriate. He lost 22% of his turnover but only 6% of his profit. Not only that but he has stopped working weekends.

As part of the exercise he has also set out his ideal clients in terms of minimum size and complexity so that his team can filter enquiries and they should only take on good quality clients from now on.

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

Update: A year on this businessman has set new criteria for their ideal client and is carrying out a second cull.

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?

Getting a new high score in what matters can unlock major achievements for you and your business.

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

Getting the most out of conferences

Have you ever spent time and money on a business conference but then been so busy once you get back to the office that you never actually implement any of those great ideas?

I’m a note taker. I type my notes directly into Word on my ipad and they are saved in the cloud where they can be accessed from anywhere, even in the office. Those notes include actions and ideas that I want to consider for my own business.

I put an asterisk next to the notes which require actions.

On my journey home I copy and paste those actions into one of two Trello boards. To do or Ideas.
This way they don’t get forgotten. When I have time the To do list gets added to my CRM/Workflow software (I use Senta)

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

First page of Google?

It’s easy to claim your free Google business listing.

Just go to Google My Business and set up your location, opening hours, contact details, website, pictures and some prices.

You will need to verify your address and then you will pop up on google maps on the first page.

Check your business information is correct, add some photos and ask your customers to review you.

Don’t forget to add some of your blogs there too.

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

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 equally 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 finally retired with 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

Eliminate 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 not useful. That goes for my Top Tips e-news 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.
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.
5. Use a CRM system which track emails for all the team so that you don’t need to be cc’d on everything “just in case”.
6. Consider why you are cc’ing so many people in your own emails.
7. If you can delegate action to somebody else then forward it directly to them and don’t get involved unless they need your input.

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

Am I the only one who loves Mondays?

It’s like a blank sheet of paper or even a notebook, waiting to be written on.

No, I’m not mad (or, if I am, then feel free to leave me here in my happy place) but I really enjoy what I do. It’s taken me some time to get here but these are the main things I worked on:

• Knowing what makes me happy. How else can you know when you’re arrived?
• Working out the right work/life balance for me
• Putting disciplines in place to maintain that balance. I guard my family time fiercely.
• Using a good business coach to keep me on track
• Surrounding myself with people who inspire me. I keep hoping that I’ll become better too through a process of osmosis.
• When things go wrong I put them right, learn the lesson, and then let them go. No crying over spilt milk.
• Try to avoid people who just suck the energy out of me, life is to short
• Spend time giving back as a way of thanking those who helped me back in the day.

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

Environmental sustainability

Saving waste usually saves money which is why environmental sustainability is quite compatible with financial sustainability. Doing the right thing can actually save money.

As former accountants we’re good at auditing systems and asking awkward questions to see where that waste arises. Some of my FC roles included responsibility for the Quality and Environment departments and, in one, a couple of my accountants were trained up as environmental auditors.

While running my practice one of our team was our Environmental Champion and trained to help clients. Sadly we were before our time but I think the business climate is now changing as Climate Change awareness increases and moves higher up the board’s agenda

Is this something that you could add to your services? Or partner with an environmental consultant who already offers this service?

What are you selling?

I did it again! I managed to book 4 back to back meetings on Wednesday. Usually (yes, I’ve made this mistake before) this means that I run late from the second meeting onwards which I hate because it feels as though I’m being rude to the other party. And no chance of a loo stop for all the tea I consume all day. This week I got away with it because every meeting finished on time or early, I had no problem parking, and I managed to find every office first time.

The annoying thing is that it was avoidable. I use calendly for booking many of my meetings. It’s a fabulous app which has a lot of functionality free of charge. It saves all those email chains backwards and forwards trying to book meetings or, for an introvert, it saves picking up the phone And actually having to speak to somebody.

But now is the time to upgrade to the paid version which will build in a buffer for travel time between meetings. I will be buying peace of mind and reducing future stress.

And that’s what people buy from us. They buy a solution to their problems. So don’t start your marketing by telling people what you do, instead sell them a solution to their problems; sell them peace of mind. Have a look through all your marketing material and see if you’re selling solutions

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