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Category: business advice

Get your head around your accounts

Get your head around your accounts

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I was reading a post on Link4Business called Accounts Demystified that talks about how important it is for business owners to get their head around their company’s accounts and what they mean. Here’s how the problem is described:

Accounting is viewed by most non accountants as a complicated and highly technical matter, and this is a view that is encouraged by the accountancy profession. But the truth is that it is based on a very simple principal which once understood allows business owners and managers to understand the financial state of their business without the need of a costly accountant.

He goes on to recommend a book that could help if you’re in the process of trying to understand your accounts; and the way the book is described sounds like it could be useful to anyone running their own business, especially as it was written by someone who isn’t accountant. So next time you’re looking for something to read, wait for a nice evening, pull our a couple of patio chairs and teach yourself some accounts.

Keeping in touch

Keeping in touch

Greeting cards on display at retail.
Image via Wikipedia

It’s been said time and again that communication is the root of a successful relationship and that certainly applies for the business world too. It’s imperative to maintain contact with your clients, colleagues and even prospectives. It’s cheap to do nowadays, especially with technologies like VOIP and Skype; but it’s also important to keep in touch in multiple ways. For example, sending cards at Christmas is a great way to remind your clients about your services.

Again, this doesn’t have to cost the earth. You can get your greeting cards online for a fraction of the cost it used to cost in the past; and you can also get them on recycled card, if the environment is a concern of yours. In the meantime, it’s a way to ensure you’re always in touch with your clients and they always know who you are.

Advice to IT leaders

Advice to IT leaders

I was reading an article in Computer Weekly by Robina Chatham where she talks about the rise .. and fall (!) of IT representation on company boards. It talks about some research she has done into the subject and also includes a set of key messages which I wanted to share with my readers. Here’s what she recommends:

  • Sort out your service and project delivery. Recruit first-rate people beneath you who are team players; then delegate and let go
  • Nurture and reward talent. Exercise consideration, compassion and sensitivity in your dealings with people and hence engender trust and loyalty
  • Win friends and influence people; build relationships upwards, downwards and sideways. Build trust and respect; generate goodwill and take the opportunity to learn from this diverse network
  • Develop your business knowledge and political acumen. Learn the art of influencing, make yourself useful and get noticed. Be passionate and inspirational.
  • Take an interest in the wider world. Have an opinion and contribution to make in relation to every item on the board agenda and demonstrate original “out of the box” thinking
  • Do now wait to be told what to do; take the initiative and be prepared to make “bold” decisions based on your heart and your gut instinct. Have the courage to challenge authority and accepted wisdom. Remember, it is better to ask for forgiveness than to seek permission.
  • Ultimately, become one of the new generation of chief transformation officers who have the ability to give their organisation a competitive edge and to become role models who help others follow in their footsteps.

There’s some great advice there, which would apply to anyone I think. Regardless of whether you’re the IT manager in a small firm of Seattle injury lawyers or an IT executive in a large multinational organisation, focusing on your softer side and having a wider view than just the IT department will hold you in good stead for your future.

Creative Commons License photo credit: lumaxart

Five tips for success

Five tips for success

Guy Kawasaki, a popular entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and blogger used to contribute, till recently, to a blog for Sun Microsystems. In his final post he outlines five important lessons he learnt along the way. Here are his recommendations:

  • Focus on cashflow: Profit is important, but if you cannot keep your business afloat, then it really doesn’t matter.
  • Make a little progress every day: It’s extremely rare that something comes along and blows everything away. Practically all successful businesses were built one step at a time.
  • Try stuff: The more things you try the more you learn and the better your chances of discovering/creating something outstanding.
  • Ignore schmexperts: Schmexperts are the totally bad combination of schmucks who are experts–or experts who are schmucks.
  • Never ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do: Whether it’s a customer or an employee if you’re not happy to do it, why would anyone else be?

Those are just the highlights, you can read the entire post here.

Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem

An interesting post on Whooah.biz recounts the story of Glenmorangie, a Whiskey maker in Scotland who managed to seize the day and make turn an unfortunate situation around. Here’s the story:

Scotland Glenmorangie distilleries found that they had accidentally mixed the wrong sort of whisky. Faced with a dilemma they come up with a clever campaign; they used a direct mail marketing to ask for an official pardon and sold the whisky as a collectors item. The campaign generated a 23 percent response. 8 percent above what you would normally expect.

The best bit is still to come; their direct mail marketing grew. When they launched a special whisky called Arigh Nam Beist (shelter of the beast) for Halloween in 2007 their response rate was 69 percent. Virtually unheard of.

It’s a great story and a valuable anecdote that demonstrates that bad situations *can* be turned around. The whisky producer here decided to come clean with their customers, include them in the process .. and customers say this as a valuable behaviour which they were ready to reward.

Do you know of other great stories like this?

Preparing a business plan

Preparing a business plan

I came across some interesting information for anyone wanting to create a business plan. Whether it’s to take to your bank or just to firm up your ideas, it’s a step-by-step guide that can help you build up a meaningful plan. Here’s the information from BusinessLink:

A business plan is a written document that describes a business, its objectives, its strategies, the market it is in and its financial forecasts. It has many functions, from securing external funding to measuring success within your business.

This guide will show you how to prepare a high-quality plan using a number of easy-to-follow steps.

Subjects covered in this guide

Business plans are a great way to help you articulate what you are planning to do, so make the effort and put one together. If you can’t put it down on paper, chances are you won’t be able to explain it to your bank manager either.