Monthly Archives: March 2014

Alchemy A-Z of running your own business: D is for Debtors

D is for Debtors

Cashflow is important and you have to manage it well or your business will fail.  Managing your cash, means managing your debtors, the people who owe you money.  Firstly, make sure you get your invoices out as quickly as you can; ideally before you deliver the service or as soon as possible afterwards.  When you issue an invoice make sure it shows the due date (ie when you want it paid) and your bank account details so that customers can pay directly into your bank account.  Keep a close eye on what invoices you have issued and make sure you are getting paid on time.  Some customers will pay as soon as you send out the invoice, some will only pay when you send them a statement or when you call them to ask for payment, most will pay on or about the date invoice is due.  It can feel unpleasant to chase a debt, but if you leave it too long it all gets out of hand and you may end up writing the debt off or going to court.    As soon as the invoice is overdue call them and remind them that you have an invoice outstanding and ask when you can expect payment.   If there’s a problem and they’re not happy with what you’ve done for them sort it out as quickly as possible.  If there’s no problem and they’re just not paying call once more, then write to them or get someone to call and write on your behalf, until they do.  Remember you’ve provided the service so it’s your money they’re sitting on.  Unless you’re a bank and are charging interest that’s not a good situation to be in.

If you need help managing your debtors please book a complimentary consultation by emailing or calling 01235 838 641.

Just do it! How to stop yourself putting things off.


Just do it!  10 ways to stop yourself putting things off.

Messing about at workWhen I first started work there was a joke gift that people used to give each other; a gift that would miraculously sort out your procrastination problems and help you get through all of those jobs you had been putting off for ages.  It came on paper, on tee-shirts, in the form of beermats and badges and it was a round tuit (look it up online, there are still loads of examples; proof that the old jokes are not necessarily the best).  Sadly, the round tuit was as much use as the mythical chocolate teapot and I learnt quite quickly that there is no magic cure for having a lot of things to do.

As an accomplished procrastinator and day-dreamer I can easily fritter away hours and wonder where my day went so here’s how I stop myself putting too much off.  It works most of the time….

  1. Keep a to-do list and cross things off as you get through them. Paper still works best for me, there’s nothing like drawing a big line through ‘do VAT return’ to cheer me up.
  2. As Brian Tracy says, eat a frog for breakfast – start with the stuff you really don’t want to do and get it out of the way early on.  You’ll feel you’ve achieved something and won’t have it hanging over you all day.
  3. Do things when you’re most in the mood to do them.  You’ll whizz through them and won’t get that feeling of resentment that sometimes creeps up on you.  So if you’re full of energy and creativity early in the morning,  do something that needs that spark; if you tend to be tired and careless mid-afternoon that may not be the best time to do your accounts.
  4. Set a specific amount of time for the job and stick to it.  If you allow half an hour to write your blog you’ll get it done within those 30 minutes.  If you allow an hour it will take an hour.  If you don’t set a time limit it will definitely take longer than it should; in fact you may never finish it.
  5. Think about getting some help.  If there’s something you really hate doing you’re probably not very good at it anyway.  If you charge £50 an hour and can get someone to do the dreaded task for £20 an hour then that’s a good use of time and money – go for it.  You don’t have to do everything yourself.
  6. Allow time for breaks, chats and day dreaming in your day, schedule them as you would meetings.  These things aren’t a waste of time, they give you time to recover and recharge, topping up your energy and motivation levels.  In other words, they’re much needed.
  7. Ask yourself why you’re doing this job – are you the best person to do it?  Does it even need doing?  If not leave it.  Sometimes we just get into the habit of doing something whether it’s useful or not.
  8. If you don’t know where to start, start anywhere.  Pick the quickest and easiest thing on the list and do it – call the dentist, confirm that meeting, go to the post box, whatever.  Once you break the dithering deadlock you’ll find you pick up momentum and start getting things done.
  9. Find someone to hold you accountable – get a friend, coach or mentor to check in with you and see how you’re doing.  Things get done surprisingly quickly when you know someone will be asking about it. That’s why procrastinators really benefit from coaching.
  10. Reward yourself for getting through the things on your list – finish a bit earlier, have some chocolate, sit in the sun.  Nobody should be working all the time after all.

If you would like a free coaching session on this or any other topic give me a call on 01235 838 641 or email me at  There’s no obligation and definitely no hard-sell.

Alchemy A-Z of running your firm: C is for Cashflow


Alchemy A-Z of running your firm: C is for Cashflow

The old accountant’s mantra goes ‘Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but cash is King’ and never was a truer word spoken for the start up firm.  Lack of cash kills businesses, large or small.  You can be in profit but run out of cash, so you can’t pay your bills or HMRC and end up going bust.  When you start, make sure that you have enough cash, or access to enough cash, to cover your business and living expenses for about a year.  Hopefully you’ll get a flying start but most new business owners underestimate how much everything costs, spend money on the wrong things and assume that people will be buying from you much earlier than they actually do.

When you do have some cash coming in manage it well it.  Track what you’re spending, make sure people are paying you on time and plan ahead – your VAT bill will be payable every quarter come what may.  You can download a free and easy to complete cashflow template from my website at

Cash management is serious, treat it as such.  Don’t let poor cash management kill your firm.

If you need help managing your cashflows please book a complimentary consultation by emailing or calling 01235 838 641.

Alchemy A-Z of building your firm: B is for Branding

Your brand is really important, it gives the world clues about you, your values, your professionalism and what sort of job you will do.  It’s not just about your logo.  So don’t download a freebie from the internet, or get your daughter to knock one up because she’s good at art and won a prize for drawing My Little Pony when she was 8.  Pay a professional, a graphic designer, to help you design your brand identity.   You’ll not only end up with great looking marketing collateral but you’ll also go through a detailed exercise which gives you a much clearer idea of who it  is your business can help.   Here’s a useful link that may help:

The team that did my branding also have a useful free download at this link:

‘Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does…’
―     Howard Schultz,     Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time