Posts tagged ‘Accountants’

Often when I mention the words “business plan” to people, whether they are just starting up in business or already established and looking to grow or change their business, they give me the “do I have to?” look!

Business plans haven’t been dreamt up by accountants to allow them to charge a fee to their clients for “added value” services or simply to bore you to tears.  Every book you read about business success and every leader you hear speak will highlight the necessity of planning.  So “yes” you really have to, unless you like to live life by the seat of your pants.

Failing to plan and planning to fail

If you are starting up your business and you don’t have a plan, how do you know

  • what that business will do
  • what it’s target market will be
  • how it will work  (processes, structure, personnel etc)
  • how it will be financed? (funding, cash flow, collateral/security/personal guarantees etc)
  • whether it will make money and
  • whether you will get out of it what you want?

Are banks still lending?

There has been much reported in the news over the last year or so about how difficult it is to get bank lending nowadays for small and medium sized businesses.  Ask any business bank manager this question and they will quip “we’re always open for business” but there is no doubt that they are being very cautious. If anything is going to help you get the banks on your side,  it will be a comprehensive, well thought through business plan with back up for your assumptions and a realistic timescale for paying back the loan.

If you want to approach an investor, your business won’t even be considered for investment if you don’t have a business plan that you can back up with facts and figures that make you and your business a credible investment.

Getting value from the planning process

Planning is not just something business owners should do when setting up their enterprises or when getting finance.  There are plenty of benefits of planning on a regular basis.

  1. Take the time to think through a plan and then write it down, you are more likely to actually do it than if you keep it in your head.  Even better, communicate that plan to a trusted adviser such as your accountant or a business coach who will be able to help you evaluate it and provide an objective viewpoint.
  2. Take off your rose tinted glasses, a great looking plan may make you feel good now, but it will demotivate or be dismissed as irrelevant later.  Be realistic and honest with yourself and don’t forget to factor in non-monetary elements such as the amount of time you intend to invest. 
  3. Use the planning process to brainstorm.  Perhaps carry out a SWOT analysis to help you to ‘stretch’ your thinking.
  4. Use the plan as a way of involving key people in your business.  This will help them to be more committed to the results and encourage leadership/loyalty.
  5. Most of the ‘added value’ of business planning comes from regular reflection.  Don’t take the time to write a plan and then archive it!

In summary

A good business plan will help you to understand where your business is going, give it structure and direction, provide a communication channel for key stakeholders and build credibility when obtaining any funding or investment that you need from external sources.

If you haven’t got an up to date, clear and realistic business plan, take action now. 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

I am delighted to announce that George Hay are now using revolutionary online accounting software in order to help our clients more easily manage their bookkeeping and keep a better track of their financial position.

Columnar padNew Service

We believe we have future-proofed our bookkeeping offering for clients by moving to an award winning online accounting software package.  The company will now be using KashFlow, which enables accountants and their clients to easily access their own financial records at any time, whenever they have access to the internet. 

Online accounting software is considered by many to be the way that the industry is heading because it enables businesses to keep a constant eye on their company’s financial position without having to install and regularly update costly and bulky software direct onto their computers.  This recent additon to our service portfolio is further evidence that George Hay is a forward thinking and dynamic organisation that puts it’s clients’ needs first.  We are very aware that accountants are generally Sage lovers, and Quickbooks has tried to make bookkeeping more exciting and user friendly, but neither are considered easy or ‘beneficial’ to small business owners who have no bookeeping experience.

Kashflow is extremely easy to use, with continuous functionality development led by user feedback.  We can now talk to clients and update records in real time without having to wait for them to send in reams of paper-work or email back-ups.  This also means we can be even more proactive with our traditional advice and support.

All the records held on the system are stored behind a state of the art encryption system that prevents data from being accessed or passed on without the user’s permission.

The options

I researched the market intently, including taking time to demo Xero and FreeAgent and speaking with representatives from all three.

My brief was clear, I wanted a solution that filled the gap for clients who were outgrowing their spreadsheets but didn’t really have the inclination to learn to use Sage.  I strongly believe Sage is a great package if used properly, but in the hands of an inexperienced, busy business owner, it can be a devil.  Many clients in the past have started using Sage or Quickbooks believing it will save them and us time, thus reducing fees, to be disappointed when I show them the amount of ‘unpicking’ and reconciling we have had to do.

Kashflow won my vote with unprecedented numbers of great testimonials from end users and practicing accountants.  Their helpline and support offering appeared to be excellent and the MD‘s constant involvement with social media platforms such as Twitter gave me confidence that he cares very much about his brand and his customers’ thoughts.

A new beginningNext Dimension

Managing Director of KashFlow, Duane Jackson said, “George Hay Chartered Accountants have shown that they’re forward-thinking by being early adopters of online software. We’re looking forward to working with them the help small business and start ups in Huntingdon and the surrounding areas.” Jackson continues, “Our software is going to help George Hay to deliver on their aims of offering a high-level of service to all of their clients.”

KashFlow launched its flagship product, an online tool specifically designed to help owner-managers in small businesses manage their accounts, in mid 2005.  Since that time it has quickly won a significant share of the valuable accounting software market along with launching a new direct-to-accountant division in late 2006.  In late 2007 KashFlow won a Business Software Satisfaction Award, judged entirely by customer feedback, for the category of web-based accounting, beating the likes of Sage and Netsuite.

Free, No obligation trial

If you would like to discuss this offering or register for a completely free 30-day trial of the software please email or call me on 01480 426500 and I will send you a link by return.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

Whilst there exists a myriad of qualifications that can prove technical competence across most areas of the IT industry, how do you know that the person advising you has the skills to do so?

You can trust ‘Chartered’…..

Many professions such as mine rely on their Chartered  status to build trust with consumers.  Well, there now exists a Chartered status within the IT industry that is aimed at providing proof of experience, ability and breadth of knowledge.

It carries the post nominal letters CITP and is the Chartered IT Professional status which is administered by the British Computer Society.

The CITP  has been setup to be the benchmark of IT excellence, it is a rigorously assessed employer led standard, and it sets out to provide all those who need IT support that the person they are dealing with has the highest standards backed up by a professional body.

If you are used to the various Microsoft Accreditations, such as the “Microsoft Certified Professional Developer” (MCPD) these are designed to show that the engineer, who is installing and configuring your equipment, has all the Microsoft skills to do it.  Think of the CITP as more like being an independent project manager who would look at your whole current and future IT usage, to come up with the best solution and plan.

A holistic approach to IT solutions

Many issues with IT are caused by looking at specific parts of a system in isolation, and creating a separate solution, and for too long it has not been possible to independently ascertain if the person giving you advice has the “right” to do so – the CITP gives you that security. The Daily/Sunday Telegraph formally lists those achieving the CITP, and names of individuals are held on a detailed register.

If you are familiar with the level of professionalism and integrity that the Chartered Status provides Accountants and Architects – then you can now expect the same from the IT world.

Need advice?

So if you are looking to get some IT advice what should you look out for? Well the best advice is always to get some recommendations, ask those that you trust and see who they use. But now you can also check the integrity of anyone by seeing if they are Chartered – after all you would not trust your accounts to just anyone.

The information published in this blog was kindly supplied by David Kilpatrick of iTEXS in Cambridge.

Are you aware that the minimum retirement age is increasing to 55 from 6th April 2010?

This will mean that you will no longer be able to obtain an income or draw tax-free cash from your private pension before your 55th birthday except on the grounds of ill-health.

If you are aged 50 to 54 on 5th April 2010, you need to speak to your IFA as soon as possible to discuss your retirement plan as you will lose access to pension funds until you are 55 if you don’t act before 5th April 2010.  Please give your adviser time to administer your plans, there’s little point in approaching them at the end of March.

You have three options:

  1. Buy an annuity
  2. Transfer to an income drawdown scheme
  3. Do nothing and wait until your 55!

Retirement Road Sign with blue sky and clouds.Did you know that you do not need to physically retire to start taking income from your pension plan?  This means you could take your tax-free cash drawdown and reinvest it while you continue to work, giving you increased flexibility and control over your future.

Obviously taking cash from your fund will reduce its value so you need to talk to an adviser about the effect of this on the long term income you will derive from the plan.

The message here is clear, if you are 50 -54 years old and haven’t spoken to your IFA for some time, now is the time to do.  Don’t procrastinate, it could cost you dearly.

If you don’t have an IFA, I can recommend through personal and client experience, the advice of Chris Langdon at RHG 01438 345734. 

Please bear in mind that while accountants have a good working knowledge of retirement planning, most are not regulated or insured to give advice.  Make sure you are getting good quality advice bespoke to your needs from a professionally qualified  financial adviser.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.