Monday, 14 September 2015

£459 million lent out via Peer-to-Peer lending

For this latest blog, I would like to share some information kindly provided to me by FA Simms & Partners.

Peer-to-Peer lending has lent out more than £459 million during the first quarter of 2015. This figure supports the UK SME market’s desire to seek investment from non-bank finance platforms.

When the banks went into decline during the recession, their lending to SMEs diminished which gave way to the non-bank finance industry to rise up and offer competitive investment opportunities to micro, small & medium sized businesses. A recent survey of 1,000 SMEs by Liberis, Business Friendly Finance show figures to support the increase in demand in alternative finance. The Business Monitor research showed that 30% of these small businesses have applied to an alternative funding provider for their finance.

Christine Farnish, Chair of the P2PFA said: “These numbers are excellent and reflect the strong industry growth into 2015. We are continuing to see strong appetite in the consumer market and a significant increase in lending flow to businesses to.”

There are two types of finance lending available; Equity Finance and Debt Finance. Equity finance can be used during any stage of a company’s growth from start-up right through to well-established. Debt finance would be used as a short-term capital solution to a current cash flow issue. Whether you are looking for equity finance or debt finance, there will be a non-bank platform available to fulfil your needs all which provide competitive advantages to a bank’s financial help.

You can read the full article at

For further information please contact:
Martha Wood, Marketing Manager
01455 555444
Available Mon – Fri 9am – 5.30pm

Friday, 10 April 2015

The relationship between Bookkeepers and Accountants

What is your views around the relationship between Bookkeepers and Accountants. Here's a few of my own

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Today marks the end of another tax year

Well another tax year ends and another year has flashed by leaving us thinking where did those last twelve months go!

So what do we need to be thinking about now and in the next year ahead to ensure we maximise our personal tax position and not pay too much tax?

Today being the last day of the tax year, means it's the last chance to use up all your current tax allowance. So is there something you were planning to do that you could do right now, such as making a change to a low emission company car or investing with qualifying capital expenditure?! Perhaps you have some surplus cash to maximise your ISA or pension allowances, but it may now be too late to receive the recommended independent financial advice or visit the bank on Easter Sunday!

However on a more serious note, firstly you need to ensure that you update your Payroll software to take into consideration the new tax rates, personal allowances and bands.

If you have employees, then don’t forget to issue those P60’s! Also don’t forget the Employment Allowance is continuing, so the £2000 per year resets tomorrow.

Do you run your own business? Do you pay yourself a minimum monthly wage for Tax and NI purposes, with the majority of your income taken by dividends? If so, you may need to consider slightly increasing your monthly amount due to the new bands.

You may be considering a year-end Dividend, but what would be the impact of declaring the dividend in the new tax year instead? This is a serious consideration for many in or near the high rate tax band or those that are claiming child benefit or tax credits.

If you claim mileage allowance from your business or employer, then tomorrow is the day to reset the accumulative miles you have claimed in the tax year. This is especially important if you claim many miles and have exceeded 10,000 in the tax year.

We all also need to consider what is new for our position going into the new tax year. Perhaps something from the budget will impact upon us, such as the new marriage allowance? Perhaps our business or employment is changing in 2015/16 that will see an impact to our individual income in the next twelve months. So do you need to change anything to maximise your position?

Also what did we learn? What happened in 2014/15 that changed our tax liability? What did we have to complete differently on our tax return? Or what do we wish we had done last year that would have saved the amount of tax we will have to pay for this past tax year?

And finally, I recommend you seek advice of your own business advisers. For example, what does your accountant suggest for you personally? Mine has already suggested many areas for consideration in 2015/16, as I plan to dispose of one business and invest in another. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Converting leads to sales

One of our most popular articles over recent months have been around the subject of finding more customers.
Our discussions with clients and contacts tells us that the level of enquiries remains similar to early 2014, but the conversation is much more difficult with greater competition for the business. 
So here are our 6 areas to help improve your chances of converting your enquiries to the desired sale.
1. Measure and be aware of your conversion rates. Learn from your discussions and feedback to continually improve that conversion rate. Get to know the sales presentation of your business that wins more often than not, then systemise the approach and use it.
2. Track all your enquiries to eventual sale with a lead management system. It can take more than a few contacts to close a sale, so a tracking system ensures you do not miss or forget an opportunity. This should be a habit to update and where possible use automation as a reminder or even to complete a follow up step for you.
3. Truly know your target audience. What is the profile of your ideal customer, what is there current situation, what are their pains and problems and why you can truly help them. Focus on the answers to these points at every touch point with your prospect.
4. Never over promise what you can deliver. Obviously that is the promise of what you or your product can do but also timescales. If you can't write a proposal in the next 24 hours then be honest and advise.
5. Observe and learn from others. This could be your colleagues such as your sales people or your peers. How are they winning new business? Learn from their success and adapt the learn into your business.
6. Don't forget to ASK for the business.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

12 tips from 2014 for entrepreneurial success

During 2014, I continued to enjoy my role supporting entrepreneurs working as professional service providers which last year primarily included the bookkeeping profession and the safety sector. From my experience over the last year, I have selected 12 tips that I feel are key to entrepreneurial success and I hope will be thought provoking for your focus going forward.
  1. Push your comfort zone 
  2. Know who you can trust and understand the personalities around you 
  3. Respond in a timely manner or communicate after a perceived delay 
  4. Have belief and persevere 
  5. Follow your perception or gut feeling 
  6. Build the ability to say no 
  7. People buy from people
  8. Keep the big picture in mind with your daily action steps 
  9. Truly understand your motivation and the value of your work / life balance – 
  10. Utilise your strengths and work on your personal development 
  11. Make the numbers work 
  12. Effective Goal Planning 
You can read the full post and additional comments in my LinkedIn Pulse article by clicking here 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Attract your ideal customer with effective marketing

Over the last decade, I have been delivering support to other business owners as a either a franchisor, via my own businesses or from within a membership organisation.

By far the biggest request for support is with marketing and how to find new clients. So this article shares some of my key thoughts and the areas that I have consistently spoken about at conferences in the past.

To enable you to promote your business most effectively to prospective clients, you have to consider three key areas:

  • What are you offering – having a clear proposition for your clients
  • Strategic marketing – understand who you want as clients and how you will capture their interest to engage with them
  • Tactical marketing – how you will take your message to the market and attract clients
You can read the full article on my LinkedIn Pulse listing at 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The top three marketing activities for Bookkeepers

This is my answer to the question I get asked all the time when speaking to groups of bookkeepers or working with clients on a one to one basis.

Q.What are the top three marketing activities for Bookkeepers?

A. My research from working with Bookkeepers for many years with ICB, as a franchisor and from my own personal experience of running my own practice shows the top three activities are:

1. Networking - not just attending breakfast meetings, but understanding who is truly your network of key business influencers and what are you then doing to create and maintain a strong trusted relationship, so that people get to know, like and trust you.

2. Referrals - Having a proactive strategy focused on generating referrals of your ideal customers. Much more than just networking, but also taking consideration of what will encourage people to refer new business to you. How are you building credibility and also making it easy to refer you. Knowing the 'what's in it for me' factor for a referrer will make a huge difference to your referral success. 

3. Maximising your online presence led by a web site focused on your ideal customer. Yes social media and online marketing are making an impact, but still without question is the power of a good web site. A web site that tells your ideal client, from their perspective, what you offer to save them time, money and pain. After all your social media activity and other online presence such as a blog or email marketing may drive people to your web site to read more, sign up to a newsletter, download a paper or just then pick up the phone to make contact with you.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Personal development - an investment or cost?

This is always a good question for any training and development and I guess my response would be then it depends on what it is!

But some development will simply be seen as a cost because you have to do it and may not even see it as personal development. So for example, if you are responsible for health and safety, you may feel a course is not developing you but is more for ticking a box. But if we remain open minded, then I do not believe there is even training like this that we do not learn something from.

There are other areas that are very much a longer term investment. So for example, attending a regular meeting that gives you the skills and tools to develop your business may be seen either way, but I would suggest is more of an investment in a more successful future than a cost to bear.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Choosing a trusted adviser

This is always a good question and frequently asked by our clients.

Of course, check the person has the experience or qualifications (if needed) to support you in the role you desire. For example, an accountant will need a level of qualification to submit your accounts and calculate your tax, but what are their skills and experience in providing business advice in general (if that is what you want)?

The main consideration is whether you feel you can work with the person. so go and meet with them, get to know them and take the opportunity to explore their experience and see if what they say is what you like the sound of. Have a couple of meetings with different people and have a basis of choice.

In the end of the day, people buy people and you have to be comfortable with the person you are working with and the advice they are providing. The content can be checked in many ways with the internet, other advisers or professional bodies.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Profit and Cashflow forecasting

You cannot undervalue the process of completing a profit and cashflow forecast.
We recommend that this is a ‘live’ document in your business and not something completed when the bank manager requests.
This planning will help any business owner truly understand the numbers in their business such as which areas are profitable or not and which areas are generating cash rather than demanding.
As cash is king in business, then it is very useful to know how your trading will convert to cash utilising credit terms etc and knowing early if external financial support is required.
We recommend that you utilise the skills of your accountant to complete a full forecast of your business that is built with your goals and objectives in mind.
Then in preparation of the big picture we recommend that you really drill down on key areas such as staff productivity and return, cost of sales, fixed and variable costs, the bottom line!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Test and Measure your marketing activities

In our experience, anything that you measure usually improves. Therefore we recommend that you test and measure your marketing activities to better understand what works, what needs a tweak and what does not work, so should not be repeated.
Many of our prospect meetings for A1 Marketing identifies that many business owners simply do not know which part of their marketing is working and what is not. It is common for all marketing activities to be viewed as one and no measure of how a new customer specifically finds you.
We recommend to measure your marketing activity to the level that you can tell for each new customer or sale, which part of your marketing worked.
Once you know this, you can then start to test different variations of that activity and then gradually improve this even further until your marketing becomes even more powerful and profitable. So for example, your last batch of new customers came from your Google Adword campaign, but by testing different alternative messages do you gain even more enquiries?
We suggest that you try and use codes or references, utilise online analytics and try specific landing pages for any online activity to get much closer to measuring your activity.
As a must, you need to ask each new customer how they found you and why they brought from you, but please ensure your questions drill down to find the true reason which may be the first reason they were interested in you and not the 5th time they saw your last marketing message or what actually made them make the contact to purchase?

Friday, 21 December 2012

Common pitfalls to avoid

Research has indicated that there are some common reasons for businesses failing. It is important that you are aware of the common reasons for business failure, which primarily impacts on your cash position, so you can plan to avoid these.

  • Not enough capital
  • Growing too fast
  • Hiring the wrong people
  • Lack of experience
  • Too few customers
  • Setting prices too low
  • Poor financial controls
  • Bad debts
  • Poor control of your overheads
  • Competition
  • Poor communication with staff 
  • Health issues of the key people
  • Bad management & Poor supervision
  • Poor communication with suppliers
  • Poor communication with customers
  • Bad luck
  • Poor planning
We cover these areas in more detail on our dvd.