Friday, 23 December 2011

week included bookkeeping, great Pathfinder club meeting and catching up with some old associates.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Friday, 16 December 2011

week included collating video testimonials for a client, bookkeeping and Chamber AGM

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Why do Businesses fail?

We are obviously in difficult economic times right now and many businesses are struggling with less customers, greater overheads and cashflow concerns. Although these are easy reasons to be given, not all business failures can be blamed on the economy. Research has indicated a few other areas that all business owners should keep reviewing:

Not enough capital
Growing too fast
Hiring the wrong people
Lack of experience in the team
Too few customers
Incorrect pricing
Poor financial controls
Bad debts
Poor control of your overheads
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

Monday, 12 December 2011

Stock in your business

At A1 Financials, we are quite often reviewing stock with our clients. So is there a right level of stock?Stock levels are a key consideration as the incorrect stock level may impact on your ability to deliver your product on time, disappoint and you could lose sales.To establish an initial stock level, we believe that you should start by listing your requirements. At start up this will be established from your market research and vision or if you are purchasing an existing business, then it is usual to include the purchase of any stock at handover, but we suggest you keep your eyes open for potential obsolete stock. Once you have a list of your stock requirements, then you should seek suppliers of these products and negotiate the best deal for business. Talk to these suppliers as they may have tips to share from their experience and expertise, but take care it is not just sales techniques.Sometimes it may mean that instead of buying all your stock from different places just to save the odd penny on certain items, then you may consider the benefit of purchasing all stock from a few suppliers to maximise your ordering time and benefit from either combined or free delivery costs. But again supply is critical, so don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Over the last year, we have seen two clients experience the difficulty of claiming on an insurance policy. Unfortunately only one was covered and paid, the other did not have the right cover. Here is a checklist of some of the more common insurances that you may need for your business:

Employers’ liability
motor insurance
public liability
product liability
buildings & contents (fire, theft, damage)
professional indemnity
contract insurance
credit insurance
key person cover
legal expenses
business interruption
portable equipment
business money
goods in transit
loss of stock
specialised requirement (eg retailers shop front)

This is not a comprehensive list and there may be insurances specific to your business or sector. Hopefully you will never need to claim, but we recommend that you take independant specialist advice in this area.

Friday, 9 December 2011

week included bookkeeping, new clients, franchise prospect meetings, Pathfinder club event and networking

Monday, 5 December 2011

Are you online for leads?

Do you have your eyes and ears open online and looking for opportunities? It is perhaps not as time consuming as we think with many tools automating such activity for us. For example,

Google Alerts to track keywords and phrases
LinkedIn groups for threads and discussions
LinkedIn connections for referral contacts
Following and reading blogs or forums for clues
Searching Twitter for keywords or conversations
Searching Facebook for fan pages and discussions

Friday, 2 December 2011

week included seminar planning, franchise meetings, bookkeeping, Pathfinder club, first aid training

Friday, 25 November 2011

Week included Bookkeeping, Marketing support, First aid Supplies and Didcot Christmas Street Fair

Sunday, 20 November 2011

First Aid DVD is now online

For the last two years, A1 First Aid has worked in partnership with Concept Filming on the production and distribution of our First Aid DVD

We are now delighted to be able to offer a Cloud based verision of the DVD, thereby allowing business owners to simply share the content between their first aiders. With a personalised hosted service, secured with a log in, the up to date content can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Please see more on our web site about the First Aid Cloud or click here to see our trailer.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Choosing your bookkeeping software

We often get asked at A1 Financials, which bookkeeping software would we recommend. Well, we are a Sage preferred practice and prefer the structure that Sage brings to bookkeeping. It is also a market leading product. However we can understand why people do not like using Sage if they are not used to bookkeeping and like the look of other packages. Some packages like Quickbooks are easier to use for raising invoices etc, whilst others have been created for online / cloud based versions.Primarily we would say, please make sure you choose a tried and tested package, one that you enjoy using and importantly one that your accountant can work with. This last comment is so important as we have seen business owners change packages to save some money, then paid more with their accountant at year end for the information to be converted into a useful format. Lastly if you are choosing a brand, then understand what you want from your bookkeeping and you may not need to pay over the odds for a higher specification.

Friday, 11 November 2011

week included bookkeeping, management accounts, marketing support, filming of our new DVD,

Video on your web site and more

We are advocates of using video on your web site and within your social media strategy. The right video is proven to keep your web visitor longer on your site and build a more personal relationship to your business. Now, with Google purchasing YouTube, you will also start to see video helping your search engine rankings.You can use video for introducing your business, to share your expertise, to give product demonstrations, to show strong visual testimonials and perhaps showcase your ability with historic coverage replicating the traditional case studies. Your video could be part of your web site or your could add snippets as a video podcast. As an example, please take a look at the video testimonial for Planet Interiors that we produced in partnership with Concept Filming.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Google Alerts

Are you using Google Alerts to track web based content and conversations about your business or perhaps the key words relating to your business? Or perhaps even news and views about you and your business?Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Simply type the word or phrase you wish to follow and select how often you want to receive updates and it all happens automatically. To find out more, please see the Google web page

Friday, 4 November 2011

week included bookkeeping, Pathfinderclub meeting, more DVD filming and oxfordbusinessnetwork breakfast meeting

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A1 Shortlisted for Bookkeeping Practice of the year

Sorry to start our newsletter talking about us, but we are delighted to announce that the A1 Group has been shortlisted by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers for the award of Bookkeeping Practice of the Year 2011. We are a top 5 shortlist from over 3000 practices across the UK. Mike Foster said "we are delighted to have been shortlisted by the institute for this award. It is recognition from our peers of the hard work, professionalism and quality of my team". We are hopeful of going one better than when we were previously shortlisted in 2009!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Week included marketing support, bookkeeping, Chamber of commerce meetings, Treehouse anniversary and kind hospitality at Oxford Utd

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Reviewing your marketing material

How often do you review your marketing material? When was the last time you changed something on your web site or on a printed document?Our experience indicates that many small businesses don't have the time to review their material on a regular basis, so the trend is to leave the content as it is until a major overhaul is required.We would recommend that you are regularly reviewing your online and offline marketing material to ensure the messages are current and are working for you. If you are not tweaking your material, then you are not testing your marketing to see if there is a better way of attracting more business. We suggest that testing and measuring should always be on your marketing agenda. We would also suggest the involvement of a third party in your review. You will know your business better than anyone, you may know what your customers really want, but sometimes the material does not give a clear and concise message to someone outside of your business. The external eye can be invaluable to help put youself in your customers shoes and identify the messages that encourages them to buy.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Treehouse play centre wins local business awards

The Treehouse play centre, also owned by Mike Foster, has won the Best Customer Service and Community award at Didcot's Business and Community awards (BACA's).

Friday, 21 October 2011

week included bookkeeping, firstaid elearning, interview by ICBglobal, Pathfinderclub

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Commercial property owners often pay too much tax

There is generally no tax relief on the cost of a building until you come to sell it. However, a free review by our qualified specialists will often yield an agreement from HM Revenue and Customs to allow 20-35% or more of the cost as qualifying for capital allowances against income tax or corporation tax. What is more, the capital gains base cost is unchanged so you can achieve double tax relief with HMRC’s consent!If you are a UK taxpayer and own commercial property such as offices, warehouses, residential homes, shops or hotels costing £300,000 or more, we urge you to arrange a free review of your position as soon as possible, as HMRC have stated they wish to restrict claims to being made within a year of the property being acquired – we can currently go back 15 years or even more.There is no fee to pay for unsuccessful claims, or where no claim is possible, and no upfront charges whatsoever, so there is nothing to lose and plenty to gain from arranging a free review.

How do we arrange a free review?
There are some straightforward forms to complete, available from Alan Sowden on 01865 379272 or

Friday, 14 October 2011

week included great news that A1 was shortlisted for ICB bookkeeping practice of the year, plus more clients bookkeeping, management accts

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Business Start Up Guide

We are in the process of finalising a business start up guide on DVD and we would welcome your help. It would be useful if you would be able to take a few moments to email us with your thoughts about what you think should be included in the content of such a guide. Perhaps information you wanted to know when you started a business or from your experience of start up businesses.
Please email Mike Foster with your thoughts. Your contribution to our content planning would be much appreciated and therefore in return, we will send you a free copy once available.

Monday, 10 October 2011

VAT Registrations

HMRC has launched a concerted new campaign to tackle businesses trading above the VAT threshold but which have not registered for VAT. Individuals and businesses have until 30 September to tell HMRC that they should have been registered. Those that make a full disclosure will normally face a reduced penalty rate of 10% on VAT that has been paid late. More than 40,000 letters are being sent out over the next few weeks to inform businesses how to register to pay what they owe.Businesses must register for VAT if their taxable turnover for the previous 12 months is more than £73,000 or they believe it will exceed this annual threshold in the next 30 days.The clampdown is the latest in a series of HMRC campaigns to recoup unpaid tax. Last month details were published of a campaign to target traders who use e-marketplace sites to buy and sell goods as a trade or business. HMRC also intends to scrutinise the tax affairs of private tutors and coaches who are able to earn additional, and perhaps undeclared income from their expertise.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

week included recovery from eye operation, bookkeeping, Pathfinder club meeting, BBC Radio Oxford breakfast show in Didcot

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Your LinkedIn Settings

Have you checked your LinkedIn account settings recently? LinkedIn have recently introduced some settings with opt in for everyone, plus some settings perhaps share more than you thought. We recommend that you review your settings on a regular basis so that you are aware of who you are sharing your data with.To view your settings, select the drop down choice beneath your name in the top right. We suggest a look at all the settings but especially:

Profile - who are you sharing your connections with? Are people linking with you just because they want to meet one of your contacts? Or vice versa, do you want people to know you have viewed their profile?

Groups, companies etc - Are you sharing with 3rd party applications?

Account - Social advertising! Are you allowing use of your name & photo to advertise to you?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Developing your business and work / life balance

A1 Director, Mike Foster said: "Working with SMI and undertaking their personal and business development programmes over the last 2 years is quite simply the best investment I have made for my business and my family. Those that know me well, will think back and say how did that already busy fool manage to also start up a childrens play centre, whilst also starting a new family. Well it is simply down to the SMI knowledge and tools. The differentiation with the SMI programmes, is that it is not just about the theory. They provide tools to implement the knowledge that makes a real immediate impact. I am happy to tell people I invested several thousand pounds with SMI programmes and believe it was worth every penny. It reshaped my business approach and changed my personal life for the better"Following Mike's experience with SMI UK, A1 Group have joined forces to set up the Pathfinder Club. The concept is to give business owners access to the knowledge and tools only available previously on a one to one basis. Mike added "I spoke to John Harris about how the SMI programmes could work in a peer group environment. It is a great option for business owners, as the cost is less that 1:1 coaching, but also they network with like minded people which is so powerful for creating the right mindset".To find out more for yourself or perhaps a contact, then please see the pathfinder web pages, speak to Mike direct about his experience or why not attend a meeting (1st or 3rd Tuesday of each month in South Oxfordshire) to see the club in practice.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Treehouse play centre shortlisted for award

The Treehouse indoor soft play centre in Didcot has been shortlised by the Play Providers association as the Best New Site in 2011. Read more here

Sunday, 25 September 2011

week included recovery from a surprise emergency eye operation and not a lot else!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Use of video on your web site

Have you started using video on your web site as a way of introducing your business or utilising for strong video testimonials?Research has shown that video keeps your web site visitor longer and reduces the bounce rate.As a couple of examples, you can see our own web site on how we use video to introduce our services on a number of pages. Or for an example of a great video testimonial please see We always use Concept Filiming. Great service, price and quality.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Your LinkedIn profile

Does your web sites listing just say Company Website or Personal Website?
If so, why not change it to something more meaningful like your 'ABC Ltd web site'.
To do this, click on Edit next to the web site name, choose the drop down box where it says Company website and select other. You can then type your chosen description.

Whilst you are there just check you have 100% completeness of your profile.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Management accounts really make a difference

Obviously we are advocats of management accounts and work with a number of our clients to provide such information. We recommend regular management accounts so that you have the financial information to make informed business decisions in a timely manner.We were recently working with a client and identified that an expense line had increased against the previous year period by £5000. When we drilled into the information, we found an employee had accepted a price increase on a service provider. This was identified quickly enough for the owner to take action and save himself considerable cash and profits during this existing financial year.If he had waited until the production of his year end accounts, he would be out of pocket and perhaps too late to take the action?

Friday, 16 September 2011

week included First Aid Training, New Bookkeeping client, Didcot Chamber representation, great lunch with a past client

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A1 owner invited to speak at ICB national conference

We are delighted to announce that Mike Foster has been asked to speak at the annual conference of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers on the subject of Strategic & Tactical Marketing.Mike Said "it is an honour to be asked by one of our governing bodies about the subject of Marketing. Locally in Oxfordshire we have run marketing sessions for the local ICB bookkeepers and we are delighted this was recommended by those members"

Friday, 9 September 2011

Week included The Pathfinder club, DVD developments, Bookkeeping, A1 Financials Franchise Discovery event online,

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Systemise your business growth

Can you make small transformations in different areas of your business to contribute to your business growth? It is really just a systemised approach that is required. Can you:

  1. Increase the number of leads you generate - marketing

  2. Convert more prospects into customers - sales

  3. Get paid more - pricing strategy

  4. Sell more to each customer - cross sales

  5. Encourage customers to buy more often - sales and service

  6. Increase the lifetime of each client - Retention policy

However be sure about your direction. Who do you want as a customer? Who is your ideal customer (eg sector, size, age, personaility, fee level, terms, trading position etc). Then understand what THEY really want.So if your strategy is similar to these 6 steps, then are they customers that will be easier to convert because of your focus, willing to pay or buy more and be loyal to you?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

week included bookkeeping, first aid course delivered, Chipper promotion at the Treehouse play centre, a golf day and holiday

The Pathfinder club - 'Lighting the way'

Hopefully you have seen the news about our new Pathfinder club, a partnership between A1 and SMI UK. To find out more about how the club can help you develop your business as well as your personal life (and I speak from experience) then please see the club's web site or call Mike on 01865 378559

Friday, 26 August 2011

week included marketing support, business planning, bookkeeping, new client meetings, first aid DVD sales,

Monday, 22 August 2011

Saturday, 20 August 2011

You can’t dismiss for gross misconduct anymore…

...unless you follow the right procedures!

If you employ staff, I hope that you never encounter this. It is one of the worst things that an employer has to deal with. You not only have an employee who has done something seriously wrong, you have to confront them about it AND you have to deal with the consequences of their wrong actions for the company. It can be as simple as sleeping at your desk, to being rude to clients and losing them, to embezzlement.

To make the process go smoothly and not be any more painful than it is going to be, here is a practical and straight-forward way to approach the situation.

Gross misconduct
Gross misconduct is often a long list in the handbook, covering a multitude of sins.If you have any suspicions of gross misconduct, then you need to suspend the person IMMEDIATELY (on full pay). Otherwise the lawyers will argue that there was no “breach of trust/contract”. If there had been, you would have removed them from the building immediately.
If you let them work to the end of the day, or even after lunch, then you will only be able to give them a Final Written Warning.The aim is to stop lawyers accepting tribunal claims on a “no win, no fee” basis. You can’t stop people starting claims. However if they have to pay legal fees out of their own pocket, then they will think twice about continuing.
- Suspend
- Investigate
- Hold a disciplinary meeting to hear their side of the story
- Make your decision
- Allow an appeal
- Reconsider your decision
- Make your final decision
- Await the tribunal form (only half kidding!)

This article was kindly provided by Carolyne Wahlen of Gap HR who offer a service, HR in a box, which is designed to increase your people management competence so that you are able to deal with staff issues with less struggle and effort. This means that you can spend more time with what you love in your business: working with your clients. We recommend a call to Carolyne on 01491 699 552 to see how she can help!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

week included prospective bookkeeping franchisee meetings, new DVD content, Pathfinder club and a few days holidaY

Monday, 15 August 2011

Top 5 skills in demand

A recent member survey by the Federation of Small Businesses asked which skills were most needed by Britain's smaller and growing businesses in 2011.Please click here to see the summary by Business Link

If your business requires external financial or marketing skills, then please consider an A1 company to provide this support for you.

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Pathfinder club - 'Lighting the way'

The Pathfinder club is now established with new members joining us at each meeting. The objective of the club is to provide our members with access to information, expert speakers and tools to help them grow their business whilst providing personal development knowledge only usually available from one to one coaching. The Pathfinder club, a partnership between A1 and SMI UK, meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. To find out more please see the web site, speak to us or even visit a meeting to see for yourself. Mike Foster said "my closest friends and associates know how much working with SMI really changed my business and approach to life"
week included new client meetings, planning for DVD 2, bookkeeping, joint initiative with Oxford New Theatre for the Treehouse play centre

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Don't be modest or ashamed about your brand

At A1 we always enjoy the read of other newsletters and communications, no more so than those received from Ayd Instone. In Ayd's recent 'The Creative Ghost', he wrote the following thought provoking article:

I was at a networking event and to have something to discuss over breakfast, our host said we should all get out business cards out and vote on our tables (of 10) for the best one. These will then be passed to the front and the best one from all 12 tables will win a prize.Business cards were distributed to everyone on our table and we held up our favourite. I help up my own. All but one other of the ten people held up mine too. One lady said, "but you've voted for your own?". "Of course" I said. "I'm voting for the best one." She then put mine down and held up her own. I still won of course by 9 votes to 1.What would you do in a similar situation? Assuming there's not an amazingly good card around like mine, would you hold up your own? If not, why not?Are you too ashamed to hold up your cheap, flimsy embarrassing cards that you've invested not time and effort in or that still has the old logo on, or are those free ones with the generic stock image every plumber uses? If so we REALLY need to talk.You wouldn't go out to a business meeting to see potential clients in a big bag, or still dressed in your pyjamas so why send your business's brand out there dressed as a buffoon?

To read more about Ayd and sign up for your own copies of his excellent news, please visit

Friday, 5 August 2011

week included exciting new marketing project, invitation to speak at ICB conference, Bookkeeping franchise meetings, Pathfinder club meeting

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Looking forward to the tour of the Saïd Business School, Egrove Park site with the Oxford Business Network members later

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Keep selling in the Summertime

Most people say that the Summer months are poor months for marketing and cold calling to create new leads. But there may be some benefits of continuing your usual strong sales push as:

  • If your target prospect is quieter in the Summer months, then the key decision makers may have more time for you

  • Most people are only away for one or two weeks and not the full summer!

  • The gatekeeper may be on holiday!!

  • The decision maker will be expecting less calls in this period, so may not be so guarded or may even be willing to speak as you are one of the fewer calls?

  • It can be easier to get the decision makers name, as gatekeepers find it easy to say they are on holiday rather than some other reasons given. You will also be able to establish when that person is back from leave

But most of all your sales and marketing is an all year activity. If you turn it off in the Summer, your pipeline for the Autumn months will be minimal and it is always more motivating to start activity with something in the bag

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Delighted to have been asked to speak at the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers annual conference

Friday, 29 July 2011

Invited to speak at the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers conference in November in London
week included marketing seminar, bookkeeping, Didcot Chamber event, Golf with members of Oxford Business Network

Friday, 22 July 2011

Week included management accounting, Pathfinder club event, first aid training, email marketing, Oxford business network

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Minimum wage increases

Announcements have been made in relation to the minimum wage increases to take effect in October.

Many businesses are on a pay freeze, but allowances should be taken for these pay rights.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Analysing the numbers in your business

Chapman Robinson and Moore accountants have been running a series of seminars to help business owners understand the numbers in their business and how to make timely decisions from their financial information. We see many businesses focused on the turnover figure in their business, but with little awareness of the key financial ratios. Small changes in some of these measurement ratios can result in a large impact on profits. The latest seminar demonstrated the use of understanding your Gross and Net profit margins, liquidity ratios, stock turnover days, debtor days, return on investment, gearing and sales drivers. Contact CRM for more details.

Friday, 15 July 2011

week included first aid training, CPR refresher training, bookkeeping and big decisions

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Monday, 11 July 2011

Please don't forget your offline marketing

As many think we have to be "modern" and "up to date" with our marketing, much advice is to do it online, with all the talk of special web sites, social media, digital copy, email communications, forum contributions etc. But as less businesses are doing 'offline', then activities such as direct mail could work for you?So what are our top 10 tips for a good direct mail campaign

  1. Include a letter and not just a sample

  2. Who you sent to is more important than what you send, so know your market, research the right contacts and find a decision makers name

  3. Use the word 'you' not 'me' to better engage the reader

  4. Use testimonials, as others saying you are great is much stronger than simply stating it yourself

  5. Get it opened, so don't give away too much on your envelope and consider hand writing the address

  6. Make an impact when it is opened, either the words, the offer or something different like a 3D mailing

  7. Don't forget your call to action, what do you really want the reader to do next?

  8. Follow up the mailing with a telephone call

  9. Measure the response AND success rates, so not just who responds but who buys if that is your reason for the mailing

  10. Test small, find your success model and role it out with a larger mail list, as the percentage response rate will be similar for the larger mail out

Friday, 8 July 2011

week included bookkeeping, Oxford Business Network, Video work for clients web site, Pathfinder club meeting,

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Getting paid on time

Research statistics continue to show that small businesses struggle to be paid within their payment terms and the average amount of overdue days continues to grow. So what can you do to improve your credit control and get paid quicker?

Know your customer before and during the relationship, with credit checks and intelligence, but don't get too close as some lean on that level of relationship

Define and set your credit limits, ensuring they are respected by the finance AND sales team

Know your customers authorisation process and check your invoice is being processed as expected

Have timely and accurate management information showing your debtors position

Be assertive with your debt collection policy and do not miss one of the letters, telephone calls or warnings that you propose to send

Identify the early warning signs, such as knowing the payment excuses such as no one here to sign the cheque, need to discuss with ....

Make use of the Late payment of commercial debt act and apply interest to overdue payments

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Pathfinder club

June saw the launch of the Pathfinder business development club and from the interest in the first two meetings, we can see the club membership quickly growing.
The Pathfinders name comes from an RAF squadron that helped mark the targets for bomber planes during World War Two, so it seemed an appropriate name considering the fact we feel the content of our meetings will help you with the direction of your business.

You may know that Mike from A1 has been working with SMI UK for the last 12 months for his own business and personal development. Mike says "SMI have made a real difference to my business and personal life. I have received much theory from past corporate training, but SMI really have given me the tools to actually make the theory happen. So I spoke with John at SMI and we agreed to share the SMI methods in a group format, hence the formation of the club"

The Pathfinder club meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month. To find out more please see the web site, speak to us or even visit a meeting to see for yourself.
week included bookkeeping, prospective franchisee meetings, new client meetings, Marketing for clients events,

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What can we learn about leading our business from the armed forces

Like the front line battle, our business success can be formed by key defining decisions. So what are the lessons we can translate to the commercial world?

  1. Be clear on the mission

  2. Plan and prepare

  3. Understand your battlefield

  4. Lead from the front

  5. Stay positive
Simon Buzza,

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Personal branding

Have you considered how you appear to your customers and prospects? Not just your physical appearance, but with social networking sites, the term personal branding is taking a whole new empathsis. Businesses that are checking out your business, are now likely to be checking out the key people. For example, reviewing your profiles on LinkedIn or Twitter and your own web site.But also consider how your employees are positioning themselves. What are they saying to your prospects? So perhaps you need to consider a corporate approach to profile building?

Friday, 17 June 2011

week included First Aid training, marketing seminar, bookkeeping and promotions for the Treehouse play centre

More about the A1 Group of companies

A1 Financials (Oxford) - Bookkeeping and management accounts support for Oxfordshire based business owners.
A1 Financials Ltd - a bookkeeping franchise for people wishing to run their own business
A1 First Aid - First aid training and supplies plus our First Aid DVD, a comprehensive DVD for refresher knowledge
A1 Marketing - hands on marketing support to ensure you deliver your marketing goals and InTouch email marketing / database software
The Oxford Business Network - relationship networking based on 'people buy people'
The Treehouse play centre - indoor childrens soft play centre in Didcot
The Oxford Cupcake company - delicious home made cupcakes for all occasionsOffices now in Kidlington and Didcot.

We would of course be delighted to support your business, so if we can assist in any way then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01865 378559 or 01235 819320.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Stay ahead of the competition

We are a follower of Andy Preston of, who has recently given his 'seven pillars' advice on how to stay ahead of the competition in 2011 and beyond.

  1. Ringfence your existing accounts - review your relationships and do not be complacent as competitors will be active

  2. Target your prospecting - The quality of your prospecting is one of the biggest factors on how successful you are.

  3. Increase your activity - High level of activity, good quality activity, with the right mindset

  4. Become a valued salesperson - earn the position of a valued resource for your customers

  5. Plan your attack - Win customers from your compeitors and distract them! Motivational for your team.

  6. Manage your own motivation - a compelling reason to make sales

  7. Sharpen your sales skiils - techniques are always being tweaked, be up to date, take tips and advice from trusted sources,

Friday, 10 June 2011

week included First Aid Training, Oxford Business Network, Launch of the Pathfinder business development club, A1 bookkeeping franchise

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Power of Newsletters or regular communications

When analysing our marketing activity, we have always found our newsletters be one area that achieves the results we desire.Email newsletters are a powerful tool that can be used to boost your marketing efforts, without draining your marketing budget. They provide a platform to discuss issues happening in your market, your customers’ potential concerns due to economic shifts and new tips, tools or products.They are also a way of keeping in touch with your network on a regular basis, reminding your contacts about your business and how you can help them or their contacts.Offering a newsletter benefits you in multiple ways, including:

Helping to build your email list
Establishing you as an expert in your service or product arena
Providing a great reason to reach out to your list – keeping your company Top Of Mind
Enabling you to establish a strong Loyalty program
Driving traffic to your site

However you should avoid key mistakes such as sending unsolicitated emails or using your newsletter simply as a brag piece or an advertisement. Each communication should have a clear “call to action” and always include contact information and links to your web site.

There are 4 key stages for your communications. Database, delivery success, open success, conversion.Here at A1 we can help you send email communications such as newsletters and promotional messages in the following ways:

DIY - use of the online software tool InTouch. See web site or request a demo
SUPPORT - we can oversee your DIY, to ensure you are delivering communications to your objectives.
INTEGRATED - we can help build your communications, once you have provided the content
FULL SERVICE - we can source the content, design and send the communication, providing valuable feedback

To find out more about these support services, then please call us on 01865 378559

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Friday, 3 June 2011

week included various first aid training, first aid DVD sales, bookkeeping, The Pathfinder business development club

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Social media as a communications tool

We are quite often asked how to best use social media sites, especially LinkedIn and Twitter. There are many ways in which people are successfully using these online mediums and historic uses have shown that you can benefit in many ways. However these types of social media are predominantly communication tools and our advice would be to use them in the way you do your face to face networking:When you go to a networking event, there will be people you have identified you want to speak to or in conversation consider that person to be someone to keep in touch with. You can search and communicate using these tools. In addition, when say 4 people are stood talking, I guess you do not barge in with your promotional material and business cards, but rather listen to the conversation and then contribute with a view or your expertise that makes people listen or recognise you.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Only 6 days until the launch of the new Pathfinder business club. Serious about your business? Then why not join us

Friday, 27 May 2011

week included Bookkeeping, VAT returns, financial analysis seminar, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers event, Oxford Business Network,

Monday, 23 May 2011

Would you like to network with like minded business owners & work on the development and growth of your business?

Friday, 20 May 2011

week included exhibiting our at the NEC at the Safety & Expo show

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Some Forthcoming key dates

By all means these are not all the key dates to be aware of, but certainly a few that should be in the diary!19th May - P35 Employer annual return, deadline date due to HMRC

6th July - P11d(b) Expenses & benefits return, deadline due to HMRC

1st July - Bribery act comes into force

1st October - New minimum wage rates apply

31st October - Paper filing of tax return, deadline date

31st January - Online filing of tax return, deadline date

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Thousands take up the Red Tape Challenge

Thousands of businesses and members of the public have taken up the Government's Red Tape Challenge.

In just seven days more than 6,000 ideas and suggestions have been made.

The scheme is part of the Government’s Plan for Growth initiative and was launched by the Prime Minister on 7 April, giving the public the chance to have their say on the 21,000 regulations that affect their everyday lives.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Dispensation of expenses

It is that time of year when you may be completing your P11D's and end of year return.

Dispensations from the HMRC can remove the reporting requirements for certain expenses and benefits.See the HMRC web site for more information

Friday, 6 May 2011

week included marketing support, bookkeeping, Didcot play centre promotions, Emergency first aid training,

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Facebook settings change

Have you noticed that you are only seeing updates in your newsfeed from the same people lately? The problem is that a large chunk of your contact list can't see anything you post and here's why: The "New Facebook" has a newsfeed setting that by default is automatically set to show ONLY posts from people you've recently interacted with or have interacted the most with (which would be limited to the couple of weeks just before people started switching to the "new profile"). So, in other words, for both business and personal pages, unless you or your friends/fans commented on one anothers posts within those couple of weeks - you are now invisible to them and they are invisible to you!!

HERE'S THE FIX: On your homepage click the "Most Recent" title on the right of the Newsfeed, then click on the drop down arrow beside it and select "Edit Options". Click on "Show Posts From" and change the setting to "All Of Your Friends and Pages" (you can also access the "Edit Options" link at the very bottom of the Facebook homepage on the right)

Note: Business pages do not have a newsfeed. Owners of business pages should adjust the settings on their personal accounts

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Could you do with a pathfinder force?

The Pathfinders were an elite squadron in the RAF Bomber command, during World War II. They located and marked targets with flares, which a main bomber force could then aim for, thereby increasing the accuracy of their mission. Could this be you?

  • Full of ideas, but little implementation?

  • Isolated in the management of your business?

  • Aware of the theory, but unsure of the practical proven steps?

  • Working long hours as others take control of your time?
If so, then please speak to Mike Foster about the Pathfinder Club.

The Pathfinder Club is a platform for business owners to further develop their businesses, to maximise profits, create a motivational environment, and take their company to the next level. Pathfinder Club meetings offer you an encapsulating programme that covers all elements of running a business. Led by experienced mentors, the meetings cover every aspect of business success over a 12 month period, whilst also giving you practical and straight-forward implementation tools, developed and shared by SMI, across the world, with thousands of pro-active business owners.

Think back to when you first established your company...... How did you imagine your life would be? Is your life today, the way you pictured it to be?
If not, then the Pathfinder club may be for you?Mike can be contacted on 01865 378559 or 07717 372446

Monday, 25 April 2011

A different approach for Businesses Networking in Oxfordshire

The Oxford Business Network has been established now for nearly two years. The network is based on the fact that 'people buy people', so although we still hold a regular breakfast meeting, we also organise a number of social events with the idea that the members really get to know each other personally as well as what they do as a business. There is no pressure to attend every event (which are organised for members at cost only) or bring referrals for other members. As with any network, it is as good as you want it to be but we have proven that the quality of the referral has considerably improved. To find out more, then please see

Thursday, 21 April 2011

week included CPR refresher training, Oxford Business Network, First Aid DVD development,

First Aider saves colleagues life

Just two days after attending an A1 first aid course, a delegate was able to save her colleagues life after he suffered a suspected heart attack. Her action with confidence saved the life of "a dear friend". Please read more on our testimonials page. Would you or a colleague know what to do if:• Someone collapsed with breathing or heart conditions? • A visitor fainted in your workplace? • A person choked on their lunch or suffered an allergic reaction to something like nuts? • They cut their arm on the cabinet and had a serious bleed? For First aid training, please visit our web site or to view or purchase a copy of our first aid DVD then please click here.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Payroll Year End

It is that time of year to be planning your year end payroll returns. The P35 return is due by 19th May, P60's due to applicable employees by 31st May and P11D's plus the return P11D(b) due by 19th July.

Friday, 15 April 2011

week included bookkeeping, marketing support and a great visit to share information with the Happy Days Play Den near Mansfield

Monday, 11 April 2011

HMRC targets small businesses

HMRC has announced it is to launch a programme of Business Record Checks (BRCs) for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during 2011. Up to 50,000 Business Record Checks will be undertaken a year which will on average take ½ day to complete. There is a penalty of up to £3,000 which can be imposed in cases where the Revenue find serious faults with your records. If we can help at A1 Financials with your bookkeeping, then please call us on 01865 378559.

Friday, 8 April 2011

week included first aid training, year end account preparation, tenant / client statement preparation, Pathfinder club

Monday, 4 April 2011

The cheque guarantee scheme closes this year

The scheme is closing on 30th June 2011, which means after this date the UK banks will no longer be able to use the scheme to allow customers to guarantee cheques. This will have an impact if you write cheques with a guarantee card or still accept cheques from customers that you rely on being guaranteed by a card. You can still write or accept cheques, but they will only be paid by the bank if sufficient money is in the drawers bank account. For fact sheets and further information, then please see the UK Payments web site

Friday, 1 April 2011

week included First Aid Training, Management accounting, Prospect franchisee meeting, marketing support for clients,

The Budget

In March, we saw the news from the recent budget. Some of the main points included increased personal allowances, postponement of the fuel duty rise planned and reductions in corporation tax over time. A summary of the key points can be found at the Treasury Web Site by clicking here A recommended practical read is

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

First Aid DVD - version 2

Our enhanced Version two has now been received and is available for purchase. The latest version includes the latest resuscitation guidelines, scenarios to bring the training to life and a downloadable evaluation questionnaire to help check your knowledge. For more details, please see

Friday, 18 March 2011

VAT Flat Rate Scheme

If your annual net turnover is less than £150,000, have you considered the Flat Rate scheme for your VAT? For some businesses, there can be a saving against the standard calculations especially if you make a large number of zero rated or exempt purchases.
In addition, if you are in your first year of VAT registration you get a 1% reduction in flat rate. This means you can take 1% off the flat rate you apply to your turnover, until the day before your first anniversary of becoming VAT registered. Note that the entitlement to apply the reduction runs for the 12 months following the date of registration for VAT and not the date you join the FRS.For more details please see the HMRC web site
week included first aid refresher training, PPA meeting, supporting local college event for students, BBC Radio Oxford

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Treehouse play centre in Didcot will host part of the BBC Radio Oxford Breakfast show on Wedneday 16th from 7am.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Using Facebook to raise your profile

Controlling the personal use of Facebook in the office can sometimes be the biggest headache for many business owners, but perhaps channelling that interest of an employee for the benefit of your business can be a excellent move.
Use of Facebook and other social media continues to grow. With the launch of a new app for the Iphone almost every hour and the media driving online readership, online usage for our messages will only increase.
Having seen the benefits of Facebook recently for a new product launch as part of a marketing model we implemented, we have recently then seen the potential downside if your presence is not managed. It was fantastic for raising awareness of the new product, even exciting to see the 'following' numbers grow and grow. It was also another way of interacting with the potential customers, as comments have to be proactively managed and the postings reviewed regularly.
However human nature appears to be a strange animal to manage! Very few people added positive comments, although many 'likes' were clicked on a regular basis as the product launch took place. But then a negative comment gets added to the page without even being raised with the business! So it is too easy for someone to comment from a distance as it is less personal for them or is our culture changing so much that this is how people now work and communicate?
One key move we have made for this Facebook representation is to work closely with a small group of the followers, so now if anything even slightly negative appears (sometimes from the competitors, so obvious!) then these followers jump on the comment with overwhelming positive reactions. Thereby now making the fear of potentially receiving negative comments something the business looks forward to!

Friday, 11 March 2011

week included Marketing support, Emergency First Aid at Work delivery & thank you for invite to local sportsman dinner with Shaw Gibbs
The Treehouse play centre has been shortlisted as a finalist of the South Oxon New Business Competition. See

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Discussion Forums

Over the last few months, we have been exploring the use of forums and if it is a good use of our time. We have found that if you find the right forum for your business, then they can be invaluable, however, choose the wrong one (a bit like a networking group), then it can be a total waste of time.
We have recently won new work from discussions within a financial based discussion forum, learnt some new useful information to integrate into our business model and also generated enquiries for our bookkeeping franchise, simply by sharing our expertise or creating new discussions. By launching forums for a couple of our clients and voluntary groups, we have found a new strategic direction for consideration when areas of interest in that business or group have been discussed in the forum.
However can we rely on everything that is posted? We have seen a number of replies or comments acting as advice to a question that has been technically incorrect and sometimes very misleading. So, as always, we recommend to check the sources with other information when approriate. As always continue to measure the value of using areas like forums, but we do believe the right ones can help your marketing, competitor awareness, research and decision making.

Friday, 4 March 2011

week included bookkeeping, VAT returns, first aid assessing, volunteering to assist the 'Take the plunge' event in Oxford, a game of golf!

National Insurance contributions up to state pension age

You pay National Insurance contributions throughout your working life. They currently build up your entitlement to the State Pension and to certain social security benefits. You stop paying them when you reach State Pension age. From 6 April 2010 the State Pension age has started to gradually increase from 60 to 65 for all women born after 5 April 1950. The DirectGov web site has a calculator to help calculate such actual State Pension ages and this is particularly helpful if you are running a payroll that includes employees in this age range, as the NI contribution no longer simply stops at 60 for Women.

Friday, 25 February 2011

week included new clients, very positive discussions with potential A1 bookkeeping franchisees and a busy play centre!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Compare your results with your competitors

So you have received your year end financial accounts and you are pleased with the profits made last year. However is it really a good result? Could it be that the industry has seen a lift or your sector has received some specific attention generating new business for you? Even vice versa, if it was not a good year, was that just you or was it the industry?

Have you considered comparing your business results against others in your line of business? Why not take a look at the Benchmarking service offered by Chapman Robinson & Moore accountants, A great way to compare your key numbers and performance indicators for that wider picture.

Friday, 18 February 2011

week included great coverage in the press with front page of Primary times for The Treehouse play centre & Oxford Mail 'the issue'

Friday, 11 February 2011

week included Bookkeeping, Marketing support, First aid supplies, Excellent Oxford Business Network social at Cockadoo,

A1 welcomes Guildford based franchisee

A1 Financials would like to welcome our new franchisee, Mark Butcher, to the team. Mark will be based in the Guildford area. If you know anyone in the Guildford area looking for a bookkeeper or management accounts support, then please see Mark's contact details on our web site

Details about our bookkeeping franchise can be found at

First Aid DVD - version 2

Together with Concept Filming, A1 First Aid are soon to release version two of the DVD, A Comprehensive Guide to First Aid. The new version will include the latest updates, that were recently introduced by the resuscitation council, plus more general scenarios on how to deal with an incident plus a link to a set of evaluation questions to check your understanding. Mike said "Version one has proved to be a very popular refresher tool for many first aiders and we believe these additions will make the DVD extremely good value for money during times when businesses are reducing their training spend".
For more details, please see

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Pressure against your prices

Are you seeing pressure on your pricing model? Perhaps customers are looking elsewhere or reducing orders or simply asking directly for a price reduction?
This may not be simply down to your service or the perceived value of your offering, but simply the external factors impacting many business owners that is forcing us all to look at our day to day costs.
Many businesses are seeing their cost of sales increase. We have heard in the press the likely impact of the increased cost of materials like cotton, metals or food supply. Additionally we have the ever rising fuel costs. So most people are facing increased costs, and with the VAT rise recently increasing some sales prices already and our margins being continually squeezed, as business owners we feel it is difficult to raise prices in the current climate.We recommend that you keep good communication with your customers and understand the factors impacting their business. Then if they come to speak to you, it will not be a surprise and you will be prepared for your response instead of being caught on the spot!

Friday, 4 February 2011

week included bookkeeping, new client sign ups, First aid training & assessing, Franchise discovery event

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Southern Oxfordshire New Business Competition

Here is a great opportunity to raise the profile of a new business in Southern Oxfordshire. The competition details can be found at

Friday, 28 January 2011

week included potential franchisee meeting, bookkeeping for clients, First aid training, Press coverage

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

FSB victory on small business rate relief

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the Government's pledge to help make small business rate relief automatic. This is great news, as some business owners do not know they can claim. See more details and the press release by clicking here

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Late payment excuses and how to deal with them

In the current economic climate, many businesses are seeing debtors taking longer to pay, so here is a great article from looking at the 10 most common excuses and how you could react to them. See the article in full by clicking here

Friday, 21 January 2011

week included first aid training, networking, bookkeeping, VAT returns and new client meetings

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A1 and Concept Filming to partner with Planetwise

Last year, A1 First Aid joined forces with Concept Filming to produce a First Aid Refresher DVD. To develop the offering further, we have recently partnered with Planetwise to bring the DVD onto an E-Learning platform.

The E-learning platform will provide businesses with the content on a licence basis to use across their employee base and critically for some businesses log who has watched which elements and when.

For more details or a demonstration, then please contact us on 01865 378559.

Friday, 14 January 2011

week included first aid training / assessing and first aid DVD development, marketing support for clients

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Friday, 7 January 2011

Week included a busy week for the Treehouse play centre in Didcot, Bookkeeping, First Aid Training, Marketing support

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A1 Launches new Web site

Our thanks to Dave Roberts from Concept Filming / Just Do It Guides for his support to launch our new web site over the Christmas break. Take a look at

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

VAT rate increases to 20%

As announced in last years emergency budget, with effect from the 4th January 2011, the standard rate of VAT will increase to 20%.

We remind you to amend your invoice templates, bookkeeping software, EPOS & till systems, takings records etc. If you operate the VAT Flat Rate scheme, then these rates are also changing and are listed on the HMRC web site. If in any doubt to which rate of VAT to apply during the changover date, then we recommend clarifying with your accountant.