Stand by your beds – I’m following up from my first blog which looked to identify common failings that I come across in my Hall of Finance travels as a Business Consultant, Problem Solver and Mentor for SMEs and Owner Managers.

The first batch of common observations/failings covered:

1. Oops too late

2. There is nothing wrong with the health of my business

3. All Banks are the same – aren’t they?

4. They are going to pay me… they said so!

5. My cheque is in the post… honest! – a too frequent response from someone who owes you money

So, let’s continue with the following themes:

6. As an Owner Manager/Partner/Director working from home, I don’t always have the time to do my admin properly but my expenses aren’t far out… are they?

If you don’t like paying more tax than you need to (and who does?), then make sure you properly log and claim back your legitimate expenses such as;

  • parking,
  • travelling,
  • allowable contributions from working from home,
  • office consumables,
  • and communications media.

Hall of Finance find that many are too busy to do this properly, especially sharing the cost of office consumables and phone/internet costs when usage is split between personal and business use.

Just a point to reflect upon: £1000 of additional Owner Manager legitimate claims for business expenditure when the Owner Manager is taxed at 20% will put an extra £200 in his/her pocket at the end of the year… Not huge, but every little counts.

It is also worth remembering that by using a bookkeeper, even if you are an Owner Manager with only £20k or so turnover per annum, their costs are tax deductible, meaning:

– If you do your admin/bookkeeping over the weekend, then the time you have spent is YOUR time to do something else for you personally, or with family and friends.

– If, however, you do it during work time, then every two hours you spend on it, a bookkeeper would probably only spend one. AND, by reallocating your own time to a more profitable sales/cost-saving activity you get Double Bubble – more net retained income! Again, “Do the Math! “No, better still, I will do it for you!

The Math

2 hours per week by Owner Manager at, say, £50 per hour, less notional rate (lost income missed) = £100

1 hour per week by a Bookkeeper at, say, £25 per hour, of which 20% is tax deductible = actual cost £20

Net Benefit – approx. 100 hours per annum available for quality personal/family time or business acquisition. If the latter element was only 50%, then at the above notional charge-out rate, new income of £2500 would be generated against a bookkeeping cost of £1000… A net benefit of £1500 + 50 hours of personal/family time in hand.

R&D Tax Credits – now don’t get me started on these as an opportunity to get money back from HMRC… Have a look at this link and, if you think that the “cap fits,” do something about it – seize the day!

 7. Strategic Partnerships – what are they then?

Sounds “Highfalutin”… but simply put it is:

Finding like-minded businesses that complement either your own ethos and goals and/or fill possible service gaps. This enables you to put together a stronger business package for your own clients and, in return, becomes a part of your Strategic Partners Offering… another Double Bubble, or in posh terminology, “Collaboration for mutual income generation and an enhanced business reputation”.

So where do you find these little golden nuggets then… By sitting back and waiting for them to come to you?

I think not! Usually networking, but you need to do the right networking for the business pond that you are fishing in. Too many businesses either don’t network at all or go to the wrong networks to attract their target customers. This is a blog topic on its own, but in a nutshell, you won’t go far wrong by networking via HEART of business.

8. There is nothing wrong with my communication skills and personal organisation. It was just YOUR meeting that I forgot/was late for on this occasion!

a) Been on the receiving end of this one before yourself?


b) Are you one of those people that find themselves saying this to clients and business associates/colleagues just a little too frequently? There is a limit to how many times you can blame your iPhone alert not working or the traffic on the M25/M40, A40/41 etc.

I have no intention of labouring the point here or going into masses of tips and systems that will help you manage your diary and your personal organisation. Just sort it for yourself and remember that your timekeeping, meeting prep and agenda setting is the first barometer of your service level that a prospective client will see.

If they don’t like this and see these shortcomings as a prelude to your overall service delivery, efficiency and time management of their project by you… well, you are dead in the water. Not forgetting that they will tell ten times as many people about this bad vibe as they would if they were getting a great vibe from you!

9. CPD… “What the Jiminy Cricket is that?”

Continuous Professional Development is far too often given a low priority rating by Owner Managers/Partners/Directors in terms of expenditure and time allocation, not only for themselves but for their key and emerging staff.

It takes many forms;

  • membership of your trade or professional association (often underpinned by an annual requirement for x training hours),
  • keeping abreast of industry developments and implications via newsfeeds,
  • or general business skill enhancement through networking groups that run formalised education sessions.

The only thing certain in the business world is change! So, embrace it via CPD or expect to fall behind your competitors.

10. Business Support in your community

Two common schools of thought here being either:

  • My/Our business doesn’t need any business support


  • I/We can’t find any business support

In short, all businesses need access to business support which in itself is an extension of both networking/continuous professional development as it facilitates the “acquisition of knowledge” and knowledge is power!

Excellent starting points for all are:

Ok, now over to you. Are you going to a) leave this page immediately, b) electronically file it somewhere safe and then forget where that is, OR c) diarise daily time to consider each element of it carefully over the next 7 days or so, and then prioritise what you have identified is an issue and put a SMART action plan in place to address? A clue here, c) would be good!

If the main point that needs addressing is Business Support through mentoring or problem solving, then “WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL?“

No, not Ghost Busters, but me!

Graham Hall, Hall of Finance

“Helping businesses of all sizes to survive and thrive, through a mix of hands-on problem solving, mentoring and as a sounding board.”

Give Graham a call on 07889 780170 or drop him an email at [email protected].