Sunday 21 April 2013


Being a Managing Director can seem very lonely. No one to share your problems with at an equal level; you may feel you don’t really understand how the business is doing or don’t understand what to do next. You feel stressed and not valued.


Often the answer is to slog on alone as you are the boss, but then nothing seems to change. Stress levels increase.


The answer is to know you’ve got someone to talk to about your problems. Someone who can offer many years of experience in running real businesses. Your own right hand man. Someone you can share your problems with and so get answers.


James had a great team behind him, he felt the current business performance was a financial success but the financial position of the Company was plagued by historical debt which their foreign business owners demanded they repaid and a large but uncertain legal claim. The legacy of the debt and the legal claim muddied the current business performance with their owners insisting that they weren’t in fact making any money……the relationship with the foreign business owner was fraught. Mentoring discussions helped share the stress and revealed a plan of action which was subsequently put in place to remove the stress.


Nick was unhappy; business performance seemed to be declining and running the business was no longer fun. Nick decided that the business no longer delivered a good enough service level; maybe they were in the wrong market? Nick decided to close the business. We, acting as a mentor, helped him to think through the issues and come up with an action plan to wind everything up.


Mark sometimes feels alone despite having his team around him and enjoys a very regular catch up meeting to help him sort out his next steps. This has helped him to get focus on the massive recent changes within the business.


Each of James, Nick and Mark were feeling stressed in their work as Managing Director and found through our mentoring service, that they can find a solution to their problems.


So how can we help? As well as saving tax, time and worry, we work with business leaders to help them grow their business in the way they want. One way we do this, is through meeting with business leaders on a regular basis and acting as a business mentor, someone to talk to, share problems and consequently come up with concrete actions to sort out those problems.


Contact Jan on 07890 239442 or 01924 254802




Does this sound familiar? No time and disappointing profitability. Being paid slowly. Doing the sort of work you don’t enjoy a lot of the time. Just not enjoying the work…….


Always in the office and can’t afford the time or the money to do the things you want? Stopped enjoying what was your passion? Feels like a job?


What’s the solution? Working harder, doing more, chasing every lead? Having endless internal meetings to sort out what’s going wrong. All that’s happening is you’re getting more and more tired and your enthusiasm is disappearing. You are now working for the hardest taskmaster of all, yourself…..


This vicious circle can be stopped by standing back for a few hours and talking through with someone outside the business about what’s important to you about your business, the Why or purpose and think through what you need to focus on to achieve your Why, coming up with an action plan, a strategic plan. Then on a regular basis follow up on this plan in order to implement the key actions, supported by the key numbers vital to the understanding of the business performance. These numbers include non-financial as well as financial figures.


Tom and Peter run a web design business but always seemed to be working and made little money and had lots of small jobs which didn’t really interest them. We stopped and took two half day sessions to discuss what they wanted to do and how they thought they could get there. The sessions were followed up by smaller sessions discussing the action plan supported by reporting of key numbers and within one year the business profitability had improved dramatically to the levels wanted, Tom and Peter were doing the sort of work they wanted and their working hours were under control and much reduced. They had decided to focus on specialising in the kind of work they enjoyed and on bigger project work for agency clients as opposed to working for smaller local clients.


Jake and Tim despite working very long hours were never confident that they were making the money they deserved as they always got the financial information very late and couldn’t understand the figures when they got them. After our appointment as their accountants and business advisors a strategic planning session confirmed that their plans were on the right track. This was followed up by a tidy up of the financial ledgers and prompt reporting of the financial numbers up to date. This gave Jake and Tim the confidence to put their strategic plan into action and subsequent quarterly management accounts reported the growth of their business by over 100% over the next two years.


So how can we help? As well as saving tax, time and worry, we work with business owners to help them grow their business in the way they want. We do this through helping business owners get better understanding of their business numbers and also by getting focus on where they are going, what they want to do and their Why, through strategic business and financial planning. We agree action plans and then follow up with meetings on a regular basis.


Contact Jan on 07890 239442 or 01924 254802

Monday 1 April 2013


A few years ago when working as a Finance Director in a business, the Managing Director said to me “You know I can sleep more easily at night knowing you’re taking care and worrying about everything.” I always thought this was a great testimonial.


At the heart of everything we do as practice accountants or as a Finance Director is our customers or clients knowing that we care, whether it is just keeping a careful eye on things, taking initiative to anticipate and stop a problem, as a person to listen and advise (where appropriate), whether business or personal, someone to share a problem or even give help to focus on what needs to be done over the longer term or just giving in deciding the next step.


Why not give me a call to share your problems. What’s worrying you right now?


Call Jan on 01924 254802

Sunday 13 May 2012

Help I'm running out of cash!….How KPIs and a Flash Forecast can quickly help to know how you are doing and get control….

A client rang me a couple of weeks ago and said “I persistently seem to have no money, I need your help. Sales are up but I’ve got no money”.

I quickly asked about a few areas which were directly relevant to the business:
¨      What are your stock levels like now compared to before?
¨      Are you paying other businesses quicker?
¨      Have you bought any large items of capital for use in the business recently?
¨      I then discussed a comment he made earlier concerning prices: what are your margins on sales. He confirmed that they had dropped
¨      I also asked whether he had increased spend on labour, marketing or on other overhead costs in running the business. I was advised that marketing spend had risen but everything else was static

I could quickly see that the Balance Sheet was under control but I wondered from the conversation whether the business was in fact losing money.

I next suggested he undertook the following actions to get a quick handle of the situation:
1.      Immediately run his profit and loss accounts from his bookkeeping software for the last few months and compare the costs to previous accounts both in terms of actual spend and in terms of % of sales and then look at recent monthly trends
2.      Then start measuring weekly the key numbers in the business, the KPIs, in this case – bank balance, sales, purchase costs, marketing & labour costs and compare these to year to date and prior year figures, both actual cost numbers and as a % of sales. Finally estimate fixed costs from past accounts, which shouldn’t vary significantly. From this a “Flash” result can quickly be obtained which if done well should be close to the actual result; “close” is enough for a Flash result
3.      Finally prepare a forecast firstly for the next month and then for the next year for these KPIs and the rest of the fixed costs to give a target to measure against for Flash and actual management accounts results. Before preparing management accounts, at the end of each month an initial Flash result can be obtained for that month and compared to the forecast

By using KPIs and Flash forecasts combined with an understanding of their Balance Sheet, a business can quickly gain information as to how they are performing and take immediate action to control an adverse situation. Why wait for management accounts to be prepared to know how you are doing?

Contact Jan to find out how we can help get quick control of your business performance
07890 239442

Sunday 29 April 2012

The tale of a worried VAT taxpayer

As I said in my previous blog I’m going to be telling you a few stories about how we’ve made a difference in people’s lives.

Lucas had ignored my advice to regularly check his VAT position so when we prepared his accounts he had sailed way over the VAT registration threshold. Since then he has had many sleepless nights trying to work out how he was going to pay this VAT. I kept talking to him though, kept him calm, got him VAT registered, a payment plan put in place with HMRC spread over 6 months and the penalty reduced by half for being helpful. He’s now in the good books with HMRC……

But I also kept telling him that actually in the long run this will help make him money; and to prove the point when I met him a few weeks ago and told him HMRC owe him £2,000 in income tax a smile spread across his face…he looked relaxed….He then told me that he was well on track to clearing the overdue VAT too, through the savings he had made following the VAT registration.

We then went on to discuss how we could put his wife through the business (for help with his administration) saving him another £1,000 in taxes each year………another smile spread across his face.

So it’s not a bad life being an accountant…….we help make people happy!

Getting focus on what you want, for a better life

Carrying on with our stories…….

Steve and Robert were fed up. They were both working long hours and making very little money. They wondered how they could get out of this trap.

I wondered if I could help them. They agreed to a business strategy review.

We spent two half days discussing where they were at the moment and ideas they had to improve things and after discussing various options and much heart searching, they agreed on a plan of action with deadlines and responsibilities.

The plans were implemented, some worked, some didn’t but within 12 months Steve and Robert had transformed their business. They had cut out their low ticket project work for local businesses and refashioned their business to concentrate on larger project work: they also increased their prices and were more selective about the clients they take on. The end result, much higher profits and less hours working; they were far more relaxed about their future and happier.

Through our uncomplicated strategic review process, Steve and Robert had got focus on a plan of action to move away from too little profit and working long hours to job satisfaction and the profits they wanted whilst working sensible hours.

For me, a very rewarding and fruitful few hours of help……

So don’t just think of us simply as your accountant. Use the years of business experience to help you and your business to greater success

The story of the strange VAT returns

A few days ago I met with a new client together with a VAT Officer to discuss the way the VAT returns were prepared by the client. Since moving to their new location they had been short of cash and although thankfully business was steadily improving, he was still short of cash every day. Every day was a battle….so the last thing he wanted was a VAT visit.

On talking through the strange figures that appeared on his VAT returns, we suddenly realised that he had been calculating the VAT on his sales incorrectly. In fact we worked out that it was possible that he had overpaid VAT by up to £20,000 over the last few years. Our client was delighted……..although there’s lots of more work to do and other implications to think through, this was a great outcome from a worrying meeting.

After meeting with the VAT Officer we then updated on things with the client and they advised that they realised that there were entitled to more on their tax credits (which I estimated to be at least £2,000pa). This was on top of the fact that we had recovered £8,000 on unclaimed tax credits in a previous year and the already £9,000 per annum new ongoing tax credits claim we had put in place for them. This had made a massive difference to keeping their business afloat.

Next we plan in the next few weeks to sit down and talk about how they can make more money though their business……..I’m sure there will be far more opportunities to help make even bigger differences there but that will be another story.