Something to think about in August

With summer here our spirits lift and we are more buoyant. So this is probably the time to think about the future.

It is always best to plan when you are feeling good because you will focus on the positive steps you can take to achieve your goals rather than on the negatives.

You are also likely to be spending more time outdoors which promotes creative thinking – also a must if you are planning for your future.

Remember you are more likely to achieve your goals if you know what they are and plan how you can 

reach them.

A little tip for June

I work with lots of different types of organisations from limited companies to community benefit societies to charities.

One thing they all have in common is their need for straight forward, meaningful and concise management information.

Most management teams struggle to understand the finances of their organisations and this is not made easier by figure heavy accounts packs that only look backward.

If your management information does not provide you with what you need to make great strategic decisions make sure you push for changes so it does.

A little tip in February

So we are at the start of a new year. 

I think we can agree that we are hoping that the economic environment in 2022 will prove to be different from either 2020 and 2021.

Even if this does not prove to be the case we can improve our own environment by:

1. Planning for success

2. Always putting customers first

3. Striving to match the value clients get with the fees they are charged

4. Embracing new technologies so the work day is more efficient and enjoyable.

Something to think about in January

I know I hark on about planning a lot, but I do believe that if you can plan for the knowns you are much more likely to be able to cope with the unknowns.

Now that it is the beginning of a new year perhaps it is the time to start planning – if you have never done so – or revisit your plan if you have.

If you are clear what your short and long term goals are, and plan to achieve them, you are much more likely to be successful (in your own terms).

Over the Moon

The moon festival in Wells Cathedral was a two week opportunity for the building to be used in a way which drew, not just the faithful, but a wide range of other visitors.

There were concerts by Fairport Convention and a Pink Floyd tribute band; a tight rope walk across the Nave; art exhibitions; and a performance of a Midsommer Nights Dream. There was also plenty of opportunity to view the magnificent Moon, which dominated the Nave during October.

It was a great example of ways even the church is trying to engage with a new audience, so that its fantastic buildings are used and enjoyed.

I think COVID has taught us all that our organisations have to be flexible and embrace new ideas. Certainly the businesses and charities that I have found have most successfully weathered the COVID storm so far, have been those most willing and able to do things a little differently.

A little tip in September

The strongest businesses have clear processes and proceedures. They make sure they have a risk register to identify and help mitigate against the risks their business might face in the future. Whilst it is almost certain no business had global pandemic on their risk register pre-March 2020, well run businesses certainly have it on their risk register now. 

The best way to survive the unexpected is to identify and control what you can predict so your business is in a stronger position when the unexpected happens.

Challenge Anneka

Do you remember Challenge Anneka? It was a staple of Saturday evenings in the Bevan houshold. The premise, if you don’t know, was that Anneka Rice had to complete a challenging task – often to aid a charitable cause such as building a play area – over a limited time period.

Whilst this is not something we are likely to do personally, setting ourselves challenges is a great way of feeling a sense of achievement. They motivate us to higher things and test what we are capable of.

In May we walked the West Mendip Way in a day (well – 12 hours). It is 30 miles, 4000ft of climb and the last 5 miles were just a hard slog! But we did it.

Although this was not a business test, I think that any challenges we set ourselves make us stronger in all aspects of our lives.

In a challenging year for the wrong reasons how about setting yourself some challenges for the right ones?

A little tip for February

When your business is facing challenges, and there are many factors influencing it that are not under your control, having a clear plan for your business will help you to keep focussed on your goals and take control of the factors you can influence.

Businesses that struggle often have no clear direction or strategy, and so their growth, stagnation or decline is determined not by the owners but by the winds of fortune.

Let’s all plan for success in 2021 and put the challenges of 2020 behind us.

Also, make sure you are up-to-date on any Government help you can take advantage of to help your organisation survive. Many local councils have extra help available and there are grant organisations who want to help in specific areas.

Some well directed Google searching could pay dividends. But be careful not to overextend your commitments to repay later

All hands on deck – again!

This month I am definitely been lacking in inspiration. It may be because work has been busy, but also because the holiday I have recently taken was to do DIY jobs around the house.

So, I hope you won’t mind that I am revisiting the theme of an article I wrote in 2017, because it is pertinent to the holiday jobs I we have just undertaken. The biggest of which was replacing half of the roof of the cabin that houses the HQ of Bevan Financial Management!

Planning is important so we started off by  asking ourselves some key questions:

  1. What is our budget?
  2. How will we get the materials to do the job as availability of wood etc., has been effected by COVID 19?
  3. What time will we need for the project as we needed to ensure we would not be caught out by rain when the roof was off!
  4. Will we do the job ourselves or get someone in to do it for us?

As you will know from previous articles I am a great believer in getting a professional to do a professional job. However,my husband Jeff is pretty handy at woodwork – and we had built the cabin ourselves originally – so we decided we would do the work ourselves. This decision handily reduced the budget needed – but would hopefully not come back to bite us! 

Our son Alex and I would be Jeff’s labourers! Happily we are both very good at taking instruction from other people – NOT! 

Last week was D day!

We had to make sure we had all the tools and materials we needed before the we started as the time we had available to complete the job was limited. Google came in very handy for finding the supplier of felting and shingles. Luckily, we were able to use a local supplier for the wood who delivered everything in good time and for free! 

The day we chose for the job was sunny and hot with no sign of rain. This helped immensely but it was THE LONGEST DAY OF OUR LIVES!! But it was relatively stress free because we knew exactly what we were doing and were focused on the time we had to do it.

The job came out well and I am tucked up tight for another 8 years (hopefully).

The lesson from all of this? If you have a project, whether business or personal, plan for success and you are much more likely to get the results you need.

Are you planning to do better?

So, are you planning to do better in 2020 than in 2019? Most of us are – and January is the time when we resolve that it will happen. But do you know what better is? And what does ‘better’ mean anyway?

Many business owners, especially if they are a sole trader, struggle to even know whether they are doing well or not.

The reasons for this are as follows:

Firstly, many business owners do not have a plan for their business. This means that, even if they have up to date profitability figures in front of them, they don’t know if the figures are good or bad. It is only by having a robust plan, covering several years and based on your own goals, that you can judge whether your business will meet your goals, or not. A business which does not meet the owners’ goals is not doing well – however much profit it might be making.

Secondly, many business owners do not have up-to-date financial information. This means that even if they know their goals, they have no idea if they are meeting them. Some business owners keep a pretty close eye on sales/turnover but leave the rest to sort itself out. However, sales are just part of the picture. If you don’t control your costs or your cashflow, your business will struggle.

Thirdly, it is vital to know who’s definition of ‘doing well’ is important. For me, the only measure which is meaningful is YOURS. I see business owners struggling to match someone else’s ideal, rather than their own.

Finally, if you don’t know whether or not you are doing well, the chances are you will via to one extreme or the other. You will either believe you are doing far better than you are, or you will believe you are doing far worse. The first delusion will probably mean you come across quite unexpected problems with cash flow. The second will leave you feeling disillusioned and demotivated.

So, do yourself a favour and make sure you have a robust business plan, which you are updating with current financial figures. That way you will know for sure if you are doing well – and you will know if this year is ‘better’, following your definition of the word, than last year.

Fiona 🙂