I am still at it!

Unbelievably it was four years ago, September 2013, when I returned from the Entrepreneurs Convention in Birmingham buzzing with ideas.

Helen Lacey, Red Berry Recruitment, and I had a very bouyant discussion on the way home in the car, and I was all inspired to give producing a newsletter for my clients and contacts a try.

48 editions later and, hopefully, I am still producing something worth reading!

So you may well ask “Why?”.

There are various reasons why I find writing this newsletter a great discipline to do each month.

Firstly, despite the joke about creative accountants, I do not have much opportunity to be creative in the day job. Producing a monthly newsletter helps me to feel I am a bit more creative than I would otherwise be.

Secondly, being forced to come up with new material each month flexs my ‘writing muscle’. This has been particularly helpful when I have wanted to write new published material – whether it is the free guides on my website or the three books I now have for sale on Amazon.

Getting started is always the most difficult part of any project so having to ‘get started’ each month on my newsletter is certainly a help.

I have lots of people I would like to keep in touch with and sending the newsletter to these people is one of the tools that allows me to do that.

Finally, I love having the opportunity to feature businesses I have come across, and want to promote, and people I would like to thank publicly.

I have been asked on several occasions why I print the newsletter and send it via snail mail, rather than emailing it.

Nigel Botterill at the Convention pointed out that if you do what everyone else is doing, you will be lost in the noise. I get lots of emailed newsletters and never have time to read them all, so I don’t read any. But I get hardly any mail.

Hopefully you like receiving this newsletter in the post and are more likely to read it because you do.

Fiona 🙂

A year like no other!


Now we are reaching the end of 2016 we can reflect on a year like no other. November saw the election of Donald Trump to the White House and I am still in shock! Not just because I cannot believe that millions of people voted for Trump, but also because it is the latest in a string of decisions which will change our lives fundamentally.

I cannot remember a year like it!

In the UK, of course, we have been focussed on our decision to leave the EU. This sparked a raft of unexpected consequences that are on the face of it unconnected with the intial vote to leave.

Amongst other things Cameron, a vehement remain supporter, felt he had to leave his post along with the Chancellor, ushering the era of May, Hammond and Boris.

Nicola Sturgeon can now smell blood and is gearing up to call for another referendum on whether Scotland should remain in the UK. If there is a vote to leave I believe this will readically change our view of our country’s identity.

Then of course there was Bake Off’s move to from the BBC to Channel 4 – I am too upset to comment on this!

So Trump’s move into the White House is not the only major change in direction we have seen this year – it is, however, the one which will have the biggest long term impact on all of us. Most worrying is his stance on climate change and the likely impact this will have on the US’s willingness to take part in measures to cut green house gasses. The US is the second largest polluter after China, so the fact their leader believes global warming is a conspiracy is deeply worrying.

Any shift in the White House has world wide implications but this one has the potential to extensively effect the global population for generations to come.

So, as business people what can we do?

Companies are regularly rocked by circumstances outside of their control. To avoid being blown off course it is vital to make the core of our businesses as solid as possible.

Having well trained and competent staff; robust management information for effective decision making; sufficient working capital to meet day to day needs; and strong leadership are vital to long term prosperity.

It’s not just the weather we should forecast!

Forecasting

If you mention forecasting in mixed company you can see a small shudder run around the room.

Many business owners don’t know how much money is in their bank account on a day to day basis and look at their accounts only once a year, so the idea of forecasting for the future leaves them cold.

However, in not doing cash flow forecasting (at the very least) these business owners are putting their businesses at real risk.

Until 2008, when overdrafts were pretty easy to come by, you could get away with not managing your money quite so well. But now the banks are reluctant to lend money, businesses that don’t ensure they control their cash flow can find themselves really struggling – even if they are profitable.

Forecasting forward can help ensure you don’t suddenly run out of money. If things are going badly you at least have forewarning of when you MUST get some money in and have time to do something about it. You can then use your forecast to help the bank – or any other parties you are hoping to secure funding from – understand your business and who investing in your business is a good bet for them.

I have written a free guide to help you with forecasting for your business which you can download from my website http://www.fionabevanfinancialmanagement.co.uk/guides.php

Fiona 🙂

 

 

The problem with pricing!


Pricing is a big problem for most businesses.

In simple terms if you charge too much you may struggle to get customers. Charge too little and you won’t make enough money.

But pricing can reveal more about your company than you may think.

If you regularly price at a lower level than people would expect to pay for your product/service, prospective clients may assume that your work is of a low quality. So bizarrely you may find you don’t get approached by your ‘perfect’ client because they think you are not up to the job.

On the other hand you can be ‘reassuringly expensive’ and draw people to you.

For help with getting your pricing right you may like to download the free pricing guide on my website http://www.fionabevanfinancialmanagement.co.uk/guides.php

Fiona 🙂

Which is your team?

fifa

Well it’s all behind us now!

The World Cup with all its highs and lows is over and, as always, we find ourselves dissappointed at the results.

It occurs to me that this sporting event exemplifies many of the trials and tribulations businesses come across in trying to be successful. If you have a team full of players who are only interested in themselves as individuals, it is likely you will get poor results, even if the players seem to be very talented. However, if you have a team of players who are willing to sacrifice their personal status to further the team’s ambitions, the sum becomes greater than the parts and real magic can result.

Further, it is important that the team has a clear and common vision, which is driven through by the directors. If individuals in the team go in their own direction without reference to the vision, or ignore clear management guidance, the team as a whole will suffer.

So my advice is to look at your business and decide which team you would like to be.

Will your company resemble Brazil, Spain, or indeed England? Or will you be like Germany and hold the World Cup aloft?

Fiona 🙂

Oh to be inspired!!

It has been quite a while since my last blog, which is unusual as I try to blog pretty regularly.

The reason for my tardiness is that I have, quite simply, been completely uninspired! I have even found tweeting subjects (surely the easiest thing to do) difficult to find – and so have been silent on that front too.

So I thought a good topic for this blog was being uninspired and how inspiration to perk up our businesses, or even just our blogs, can desert us!

For me, I think the problem has been that I am a little stuck in a rut and the grey weather is not helping at all. One week flows into the next with little to distinguish one from another.

I need a project.

So that is what I am on the look out for. A project I can get my teeth stuck into, which will re-motivate me and stop the rot.

So if you, or someone you know, has the same problem perhaps we could get together and help each other get back on track. Or perhaps you have a project you need help with.

If so please do contact me.

Fiona 🙂

 

That Jubilee feeling!

I don’t know about you but I got a great buzz out of the Jubilee celebrations.

These Royal celebrations are something we Brits are great at, although we always surprise ourselves at how fully we get behind them. You only had to look at the crowds around Buckingham Palace and The Mall to get a full sense of the occasion. Wherever, the Queen was crowds lined the streets to catch a glimpse.

I find it incredible that we Brits, who are usually a pretty unexiteable bunch, go bonkers whenever there is a big Royal event.

Of course, we had the weather to complain about – but then it sort of made the weekend in a way that unbroken sunshine would not have done – and there was the odd comment on whether people had to take the extra bank holiday as part of their usual leave entitlement or got an extra day.

But generally it was a fantastically good natured build up and four days of events.

From a business perspective, yes a day’s work was lost but this must have been more than made up for on a national level by the resurgence of the flag and bunting industry!

Seriously though, I think these occasions where we re-build a sense of togetherness and solidarity are great for business. If we can stop thinking about our own problems – if only for only a short time – and focus instead on what we can achieve together, I think we can get through the recession and re-build our economy.

Fiona 🙂

Are you financially savvy?

As business owners we need our businesses to make money.

In my opinion an established business which does not pay its owner(s) a decent wage is really a hobby. So given that we need our businesses to make money it follows that we need to be sufficiently au fe with business finances to understand if our business is running our finances, or whether we our running our business finances.

Unfortunately, a large numbers of business owners are not financially savvy enough.

If you would like to see if you are one of these, try answering the questions below:

  1. Do you have a clear financial plan?
  2. Do you know if your business is currently profitable?
  3. At this point do you know how much money is in your bank and what money you can expect in and out of your bank account over the next month?
  4. Do you know what customers/products/services are profitable?
  5. Do you have a robust invoicing and debt collection system so clients pay you in a reasonable time (do you know what reasonable is?)?
  6. Are  you always able to pay your suppliers on time?
  7. Can you always pay your salary/dividend/drawings?
  8. Do you know how much you have to sell, and at what price, to provide the lifestyle you want?

If the answer to two or more of these questions is “no” you are probably not as financially savvy as you need to be to run your business effectively.

However, help is at hand and there are ways you can help yourself.

  • If you have an accountant/bookkeeper ask them questions about your financial position and what you could do to improve it
  • Talk to your business friends who seem to be financially sorted and ask them what they do
  • There are volumes of business books out there that can help you understand the basics
  • Take time to properly plan
  • You may want to go on a finance for non-financial managers course to learn the basics in a workshop setting.

Finally, I have written a series of FREE financial and business guides which you can download from my website http://www.fionabevanfinancialmanagement.co.uk/guides.php

You can download as many or as few of the guides as you like without registering so please do take advantage of them.

Fiona 🙂

 

Giving something back

Since starting my business 5 years ago I have been very lucky to have been surrounded by a network of great people who have given me help and advice, helping me develop my company in the best way for me.

Much of this advice has been freely given, without any thought of direct benefit to the advisor. Most of the advisers believing in the mantra ‘what goes around, comes around’.

I believe this too.

If you treat people as you would wish to be treated you can’t go wrong. Further, it is those people who give most freely of their time and energy who have the most successful businesses – not just in terms of money but also in terms of the enjoyment and satisfaction they find in their business life.

Of course, you have to make a living and it does not do to give away the crown jewels for free if they are your source of income. However, there may be people who will never become clients, who can be assisted along their journey.

For that reason I have written a number of business guides for small business owners for whom having a management accountant is an unrealistic expectation. These guides can be found by linking to: http://www.fionabevanfinancialmanagement.co.uk/guides.php

You do not need to register with me to down load the guides and they really are free.

Enjoy!

Fiona 🙂