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 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

Kids and cash

I was invited on to BBC Radio Bristol this morning to talk about how we teach kids about money. I couldn’t make it so I thought I’d summarise my thoughts here instead.

1.Live within your means

The best bit of advice about both finance and happiness comes from Charles Dicken’s fictional character, Mr Micawber

”Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

2.Have a plan

If you are taking on credit or a loan then have a plan of how you will repay it. Putting something on your credit card today is a bad idea if you won’t be able to pay it back as your debt will just increase each month.

3. Learn to cook

Eating at home is so much cheaper. Compare some of the prices charged for avocado on toast compared to making it yourself. The same goes for barista coffee.

Inviting friends around is a cheap way of socialising. At uni I would cook a Sunday roast while friends brought wine, beer and dessert. My brother went one step further and arranged for the girls in his student flat to buy the food for him to cook.

The same goes for learn to sew and do a bit of basic DIY so you can repair instead of replace.

4.Know where your money has gone

The new challenger banks will analyse where you are spending your money. A quick glance at the app on my phone shows that eating out is a big expense and this is a luxury that I know I can reduce if I need to save more money (see tip 3)

5.Consider the environment

Most things which help the environment will also save you money so it’s a win-win.

Reduce-your parents are right, turn off your lights! (and computers and chargers etc). Consider whether you need to buy something in the first place

Reuse-consider buying second hand, exchanging clothes with friends, etc

Recycle-easy enough to adapt clothes by adding something extra or cutting trousers into shorts when you’ve had enough. Best if you have sewing skills but a pair of dressmaking scissors and some glue can go a long way.

But best of all is to build a life where you are not dependent on oodles of money and things for your happiness.



How to handle the endless Summer

When we were kids the Summer holidays were something to look forward to but, as a working parent, they can be a mixed blessing.

We all make different choices on how much time we want/need to spend with our kids vs how much time we want/need to spend working. That can be anything from finding full time childcare so that important work is uninterrupted to arranging your work to spend the whole 6+ weeks with your kids.

If you are employed then you have the right to request flexible working. If you provide a foolproof plan for how you and your business owner can cover the necessary work then it is more likely to be accepted. If you run your own business then the responsibility lies with you anyway.

As well as professional childcare and holiday clubs the options include:

  1. working from home so that you can supervise your kids yourself. While this is great for some of the time it doesn’t provide quality time with your family or you may find small children too distracting.
  2. working evenings/weekends while the other parent, or somebody else, is available for childcare. This allows you to spend quality time with your kids but it can be harder to communicate with a team working conventional hours and it may be important to you for the whole family to spend time together.
  3. postponing non-urgent work or doing extra before the holidays. This can free up time during the holidays but there is additional pressure on you before and after your time off
  4. take on less work over the holiday period. There may be a natural lull in your business when fewer clients are around working themselves. This is easiest to do if you work for yourself. The downside is that this may also reduce your income so you will need to ensure that you have sufficient savings to cover the break.
  5. arranging reciprocal playdates for your kids with other parents trying to juggle the holidays. This gives your kids a change of scene and may keep them away from screens. If you have more than one child this can require pretty complex coordination.
  6. Holiday clubs can be useful for ad hoc childcare but they are often much shorter than a normal working day. Some clubs just supervise your kids whilst they are watching DVDs or playing on computer games so you’re paying for somebody else to let a screen babysit your darlings. Sports clubs can be good for older children but not everyone enjoys these.
  7. Electronic babysitters can be okay so don’t beat yourself up if you use them sometimes. Just try and mix in a bit of quality time with humans and some fresh air and exercise.

In practice you may choose a mixture of these and other methods.

You may well feel that you’re not working or parenting well enough over this period but just keeping the plates spinning is enough for now.

Please drop me a line with any other suggestions