Posts tagged ‘Confidence’

Everyone in business has heard the term “Cash is King” and understands the importance of cash flow, but when in the day to day ‘busy-ness’ of business it is easy to take your ‘eye off the ball’.

So in these difficult times, if you find yourself in a position where cash flow becomes a matter of urgency rather than a procedural chore, what can you do to turn things around?

Here are my top five quick fixes, each one worthy of a post of its own.

1. Debt Collection

Focusing on getting paid for what you have provided is an obvious place to start. 

Don’t allow customers to improve their cash flow at your cost and don’t get lazy when it comes to implementing rigid credit control procedures. Many ledger clerks are instructed by their managers not to issue payment until a debt has been chased both in writing and verbally, so don’t cut corners or get caught off guard. 

If you are uncomfortable with this discipline or you have accepted that this is not your skill set, outsource it.  I recommend Ken Brown from Direct Route for everything from collecting a single difficult debt to completely managing your sales ledger. 

Also, be sure to focus on servicing customers that do stick to your payment terms.  Don’t forget my previous advice about allowing “he who shouts loudest…” to distract you from those that are key to your success.

2. Improve terms and conditions of sale

Meet with each of your valued customers without delay and renegotiate terms.  By prioritising their needs and building confidence in your business relationship, agreements regarding quick payment, or even payment on delivery can be made. 

If need be, offer an early payment discount to encourage quick settlement.  Often the reduction in margin, is substantailly less than the cost of finance such as overdrafts or the deminished goodwill from not meeting debts as they fall due.

Don’t forget that it costs a lot more to attract and service new business than it does to obtain more business from your current clients.

3.  Get your bank manager onside

Having up to date management accounts, a clearly defined business plan that demonstrates that the current difficulties are short term and building an open, honest business relationship with your bank manager will no doubt create flexibility. 

Once they have built confidence in you as a business owner, they will at short notice be able to offer solutions and support.  Involve your accountant in this process.

4.  Manage suppliers

This aspect is often not given enough attention.  In the same way that you manage customers, prioritise, negotiate and treat your suppliers with respect. 

Being honest with them and honouring any payment arrangements you have agreed with them will keep your integrity and prevent suppliers from ‘digging their heels in’.

Also, if you hold stock, review your processes and speak to your suppliers about delivery times etcetera, they may be able to help you to manage a ‘just in time’ system by offering you a priority service. 

5.  Increase profitability

Certainly not the easiest or quickest approach and one where you might want to seek support from your accountant or a business coach.

Looking at overheads is an obvious point, but how about reviewing historic data to identify which products/services in your sales mix generate the biggest contribution and assign time and effort in pushing these.  Perhaps redirect your marketing budget and reward your team for selling these items or finding innovative ways to deliver these at lower costs.

As well as focusing on your most profitable products/services, take time to identify your most profitable clients

Budgeting can take time, but often some ‘quick wins’ can be discovered by carrying out these accounting exercises.  They can also drive long term process and cash flow improvements. 

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.

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The designatory letters DChA are used by holders of a Diploma in Charity Accounting, a qualification awarded by The Institute of Chartered Accountants  (ICAEW) who hope that it will inspire confidence that the holder of the Diploma has the knowledge to make a real difference to the prosperity of an organisation through understanding of charity accounting and financial management.

Prior to 2007 the diploma could be achieved through study and examination or by submitting evidence of experience in advising the 3rd sector.  The ‘experience’ route is no longer available.

At the time of writing this post, around 700 accountants in the UK hold this diploma (listed here) and just over half of these are working in practice as auditors / independant examiners and advisers.   The remaining mainly being financial managers working with in the sector itself.

As a trustee, what does using an accountant with the Diploma mean to you?

  • Confidence to trust them to provide specialist financial care with knowledge of your sector and its inherent challenges
  • Reassurance that they understand the complexities of Charity Accounting
  • Non-financial matters such as governance are addressed with practical solutions
  • Information is presented in a straightforward and understandable manner
  • Value for Money services with fixed fees and experienced resources to keep fees to a minimum
  • You can get on with running your charity knowing that you are in safe hands!

In my opinion providing services to not-for-profit organisations takes additional expertise as the sector has specific accounting requirements as well as a different type environment in terms of targets, principles, reporting and management needs.  Often the people working within this sector do so for low or no monetary reward and do not necessarily have the same skills of someone who has been involved in a corporate environment.  Therefore the level of support and the approach taken to professional advice should be different.

To get the most value from your professional advisers, it is essential that they have carried out adequate and relevant professional development (CPD) and have experience in your industry.

Update:  In August 2010, ICAEW announced that in response to demand the DChA experience route is being re-opened for senior professionals in charity accounting to gain recognition for their expertise.

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.

People often ask “what is business coaching?” and in truth there are lots of ways to describe it.  In this post, Lee Duncan a well respected business coach that I have worked with for the benefit of my clients, will focus on four elements that work together to get results in any area of your life. 

Business is all about getting results.

For most of us, this means achieving a level of financial success from the businesses we create.  The principles of business are actually quite straightforward, although in practice it often turns out to be more tricky.

A formula that’s useful to focus the mind on what to do next is


The first key to success is attitude.

Henry Ford famously said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right”.

Just think about that for a moment. If you start out with the notion that you’re going to fail, you will. I know of a psychologist who calls this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It works the other way around though too, which is far more exciting. If you believe you will succeed, you probably will. As a business coach, it’s clear that many clients need some help to have confidence and a positive mental attitude.

Next up, you’ve got to have a goal.

A goal is like a destination for a taxi trip. When you jump into a taxi, the driver wants to know where you’re going to go before he’ll move off. That’s just the same as your brain. If you want to get somewhere with your business, you’ve got to focus on where you want to go before you can move towards it. Goals should be set to be stretching, but achieveable.

The third part of the formula is to have the correct knowledge.

Many of us know what we should be doing to be more successful, it’s just that we don’t do it. On the other hand, sometimes we simply don’t know how to do something and so we remain stuck.

By attending seminars, reading books, listening to CDs and watching video, we gain knowledge. With practice we can turn this knowledge into skills that help us to achieve our goals. Skills like how to write effective sales letters, or how to create a blog, or how to manage staff effectively, can all be learnt by anybody. Great results can also be described as the successful application of the right knowledge. Make the effort to get the learning habit, you won’t regret it.

The final step on your way to results is to take action.

Great ideas are simply notions until somebody turns them into reality.

If you’re an ideas person who finds it hard to bring your ideas to life, you’re a dreamer. If you have no ideas but keep turning the handle and expecting different results, you’re a madman.

The happy middle road is where success lies – a great idea combined with the right actions, taken relentlessly day after day, to achieve success.

When any single piece of the formula is missed, you’ll struggle to achieve your desired results. That’s where business coaching comes in, to help you bring all of these things into alignment for you.

When you achieve results, no matter how big or small, take the time to celebrate and enjoy your successes. Too often in life we beat ourselves up for failing and don’t notice what we have actually achieved. Start to notice how good you are, how successful you are, and you’ll be successful more often and in bigger ways.

Read about the kind of results that Lee’s clients enjoy in a story from a member of the Chris Cardell marketing club who also works with Lee. 

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.