Thursday, 30 August 2012

Employee vs outsourcing functions in your business

Of course we are an external support to businesses, but quite often we are not seen this way and are asked about roles that can be outsourced instead of adding people to the payroll.

So why would you consider using an external resource to support your business rather than employing someone?

  • Your business finances and payroll are sensitive information to protect
  • It provides access to a specialist skill that you in effect add to your team
  • Perhaps frees up time of someone in the business who does not specialise in this area
  • No holiday pay
  • A comparable cost considering Employers NI contribution, sick pay, maternity pay and likely pension contributions from 2013
  • More easily replaced if not performing
  • Less red tape
  • Less cost of ongoing development and training as the providers responsibility
  • And event potentially less desk space

Of course there will be other considerations such as the relationship, management and briefing the specification of work, but outsourcing is now a very real option for business.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Working with Influencers for your business

A key marketing strategy for many businesses is to gain new customers from referrals.
So when meeting key business influencers for your business, remember to:
1. remind them what you do and why you can help their contacts
2. engage them with your trust, excellence and results evidence
3. ask! but focus on your ideal customer

Ways to raise finance for your business

We know that raising finance is not easy in the current economic climate, however good financial information will improve your chances of success.

To support your finance application consider analysing your financial accounts (as per our last email), produce a financial forecast and consider providing a forecast of your business that shows how it would still perform if external factors were to impact your business, such as an interest rate rise or reduction in customers or price.

Your business could be financed in a number of different ways and quite often a combination is used. You can consider:

  • Your own personal monies
  • Conventional bank finance – overdrafts, commercial mortgages, business loans, commercial investment mortgages
  • Asset finance – hire/lease purchase, finance lease, operating lease, contract hire, sale and leaseback
  • Invoice discounting and factoring
  • Equity finance
  • Private investors – business angels
  • Grants

We would suggest that you explore the appropriate options for your business and from our experience the key considerations in relation to your choice of finance should be:
  • Speed of decision
  • Price – interest rate and fees
  • Security required
  • Convenience
  • Flexibility
  • Quality of service

Friday, 24 August 2012

Up to date financial information will help your decision making

More than ever we are finding that business owners want to keep a closer eye on their finances. To measure the financial performance of their business as they go rather than waiting until the financial year end.

Many of our clients are more regularly requesting turnover and profit figures, but we encourage businesses to look deeper than just the black and white resulting figures in your accounts and understand the true numbers in your business that can therefore help you make the numbers work for you.

Ratios and trends are a key focus that we provide when supporting our clients and just some of the ratios we measure are:

Gross or Net profit margin
Debtor days
Stock turnover ratio
Productivity - Staff costs vs income
Return on investment

Some of the patterns or trends we measure are:
Number of customers
Number of sales in month
Average sale value
A specific cost vs income

It is also likely that your bank, lender or funder will be analysing your financial information in this way and from experience it can only help your application for finance if you can talk confidently about this type of detail in your finances.

But more importantly on a day to day basis, good financial information can better support your key decision making.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Prospecting with a plan

When you are prospecting for your sales pipeline, then this should be a process and have a plan.
What is your goal, what is your edge, how is your attitude and what is your key activity for an action plan?
We suggest to all our clients to keep a record of activities and measure against your objectives, especially around the areas of size of pipeline, number of resales, referrals received, referrals met, introducer meeting and events held or attended.
Keep your prospecting strong and pipeline flowing.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Investment opportunities for smaller companies

£500 million of Government investment for small and mid-sized businesses is open for applications. The Government is asking for applications to manage the investment available through the Business Finance Partnership (BFP).

The BFP aims to ease the flow of credit to small and mid-sized businesses in the UK by diversifying their sources of finance and making them less reliant on bank lending. To read more please click here

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Mike Foster: Enjoying his new role at A1

As the A1 team continues to grow across the various businesses, Mike has taken a step back from day to day fee earning to Chair the group of A1 companies, providing greater leadership, planning, sales and promotion.

This has also enabled Mike to follow his passion of working with start up businesses and now regularly speaks to audiences on topics related to this market and coaches a small number of new entrepreneurs.

Mike said; "I am passionate about working with Start Ups, as this market has been in my blood ever since I was the area manager for the Barclays business start up team. Sharing peoples ideas with a passion to make them the success they desire and by sharing my experience is a truly rewarding part of my role now at A1." A1 has also set up a start up foundation to support new business owners.

For more details please see our web site.

Mike has also partnered with Concept Filming to offer a 'must know' guide for start ups on DVD

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Closing the gap between knowing and doing

We are delighted to have co-sponsored the Pathfinder Club in Oxfordshire for the last few months.

The Pathfinder club has been designed for business owners to obtain access to proven knowledge and tools that will help you work on your business success and personal goals.

The meetings blend the content from individual business coaching with peer group learning.

For more details, please see our new web site at

Friday, 10 August 2012

Clean up your social media lists

It is with interest that we study the social media links of our clients. So one recommendation is to make sure you are connected, liked and followed by the right people for you and your business.

If you are not, then we suggest a clean up. For example:

• Who is connected to you simply to be very proactive with your connections? We have even seen examples where people have contacted a connection having suggested that our client recommended a contact, when they had not!
• Who have you connected with because they asked, but you have no actual connection with?
• Who is following you on twitter with no interest in you, but simply to raise awareness of themselves with your followers?
• Who likes your facebook page, simply to post on your wall messages to your followers. We even saw a posting recently started 'we hope you dont mind us promoting a competitor.........'!

We suggest it is better having a smaller list of those interested in you than a large number of followers, likes or connections to look good!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Which Accounting Software is Best for You?

We are regularly asked which is the best accounting or bookkeeping software for our business? Especially as there are so many options today.

At A1 financials, we are a Sage preferred practice, but the answer really depends on your business needs.

To help you choose the best package for your business, here is an insight to our thinking:

• The size of your business. Micro, Small, Large, Corporate all have different needs.

• Your budget to purchase the software etc

• The needs of your business and requirement to integrate with other software or systems.

• The industry you're in and if any specialist software would help.

• What features and reporting information do you need as a minimum. Make a 'desirable' list before you research.

• How good are the support and training options.

• Ease of use.

• Any recommendations. From other business owners, professionals, press....

• What software does your accountant support? Using a program they don't support could cost you more in the long run.

• And finally, please don't just listen to the sales messages. Try and test the software.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Leading with integrity

2012 appears to be the year when many people and large corporations are being questionned about the way they do business and their integrity. So how do we lead our business with integrity?

Perhaps our key performance indicators should be around the 3 P's of People, Purpose and Passion.

The two key areas of behaviour that are considered to support our integrity are:

1. Deliver your promises – but make only those you want to and can actually deliver

2. Conduct yourself by the values you talk about – have key values, live by them, believe them and make decisions around them.

So how does integrity work with your reputation? Well you always need to tell the truth to maintain integrity, as one small lie will ruin everything.

Why is this proving to be so important in the current climate?

Many new relationships are being formed as old suppliers have perhaps ceased trading or had to change their terms, so integrity is a key part of any relationship. Looking internally, then trusting and well directed employees will be more engaged, so find a style of leadership, lead with integrity and then stick with it.