YBM are a key player in our management team

Over the years, YBM has become an important part of our team. Not only do they provide high quality accounting services but their business services have also been of tremendous value.  The last two years have seen us conduct monthly advisory meetings with YBM, focusing on performance, measurement and strategy.  We specialise in a wide range of products, from shades and shelters to grain bunker tarps, to saddlery and clothing, so it has been invaluable to monitor how each part of the business is travelling.

YBM have helped us with superannuation advice, have provided forecasts crucial to securing trade finance, have steered us with regards to business structure and have always been willing to answer our questions.  We really feel that YBM have enabled us to gain control of our finances, our business and the key drivers of profitability.  YBM are much more than just tax and accounting, they are a key player in our management team. Thanks YBM!



Ellis and Sons Group - Management Team.

A supportive relationship that’s solutions-driven

Central West Financial Solutions started working with YBM in 2007 when they provided advice and assistance with the merger of our two businesses. I honestly think that without them the merger may not have happened. They understood what was required to ensure the transaction occurred smoothly and in an equitable and fair manner. Since then, our business has grown into a very successful financial planning practice with the YBM team providing business, accounting and tax advice for our business and personal needs.

They can identify potential problems in advance and investigate them accordingly to ensure there are no surprises further down the track. This approach gives us great confidence in their abilities and the services they offer and, importantly, to our mutual clients.

Central West Financial Solutions.

Practical business advice with one eye always on the future

First National Bathurst started working with YBM in 2013 for business advisory, bookkeeping, compliance and SMSF’s. From the day we met, they’ve provided us with the service we require as an expanding real estate business. As the business had grown rapidly in less than two years, we required an accountant who could work with a forward-thinking outlook. The YBM team have provided this well beyond our expectations and really delivered results.

We are particularly impressed with their absolute commitment to our business. They listen and understand our needs and work hard with us to implement systems that are productive and effective. Their customer service is commendable.

YBM initiated Xero set-up for us and it has dramatically improved our business on all levels. We were previously working historically and relying on an integration of various software packages to assist with forecasting etc. Xero has not only saved us money on our day-to-day accounting, but provides us with the correct information to forecast and plan for the future.

Jacinta Purvis. First National Bathurst

A business partnership founded in practical advice

I’ve used YBM for accounting and financial business advice from the beginning for both my businesses – Iglou and Jumbled. Every time a new event has happened in my life and my businesses, I’ve consulted with YBM – start-up, expansions, house purchase, baby, renovations, another new business start-up, renovation, relocation, online setup, new POS systems in-store… We’ve been through the ups and downs together!

They’re not your typical accounting firm because they truly care about my businesses and are excited by the future. I can always rely on YBM to give me the best possible advice that’s honest and easy to understand.

I see them more as a business partner than my accountant. I feel like I’m in very safe hands and feel energised after a meeting with them as they teach me new ways to improve operations and highlight areas I need to focus on. I get the information and advice I need instantly, whether it’s a simple question or a more complex one. They really understand my businesses and the environment in which I operate.

Xero has made a huge difference. It’s more time-efficient than my previous system and allows us to see how my businesses are performing at all times.

Pip. Iglou and Jumbled


Last night, we had a discussion during our family dinner. The subject of discussion was how social media had turned the world into a global village. A message that could take a lifetime to be delivered would be delivered for you in seconds through Facebook. My sister; Helen, stated how through social media, she was able to reach through thousands of customers in seconds- something that would have been considered impossible in the 15th century.

Sadly, not everyone understands how to appropriate the use of social media when it comes to marketing. I have compiled some keynotes you should consider when posting stuff on social media platforms:

Have empathy

When it comes to brand promotion through the use of social media, you must possess the skill of understanding how others feel about what you are trying to promote. In other words, look through their eyes. If you were in their shoes, what portion of your content would you dislike? Which would you want more explanation for? But don’t just stop there. Go further by meeting their every desire.

Do more of visuals

Don’t bore me with a 1000-word article of how well your product would meet my need. Chill… don’t get me wrong. It is not out of place to be a little bit explanatory about the goods you sell or the services you provide; however, you should ensure you put something that draws the attention of your potential clients. Input pictures alongside your article to create a mental image of what you are trying to communicate across to your customers.

Use emojis

Come on…we live in the 21st century- an age where people get mood swings by just looking at emojis. If you want to keep your readers in tune with your content or what you are trying to pass across, use the suitable emojis. If a sad person looks through your content and a laughing emoji pops up, it would light up his mood. This way, your click-through rates improve. Surely, emojis will improve your engagement metrics.

Tell them about you.

Nobody wants to fall into the hands of fraudsters. Mentioning a little bit about yourself would let them feel safe. If you wish, pop in some photos of yourself. Your followers would see who is behind the scenes and learn about the person is running the company affairs. Go the extra mile by sharing pictures of your employees- without them; your business wouldn’t have survived.

Drop inspirational quotes.

Running out of ideas on what to post? Well, you can never be out of inspirational quotes. Run a simple google search. If you are a good writer, come up with lovely quotes. Doing this, you would make them feel more comfortable with your credibility. It steers up a feeling of confidence in them in the sense that you do not only care about them because you want to make money, but you do care about them. It’s simple- stronger interpersonal relationship attracts more engagement on your post.


2019-8 5 things social media posts have in common. 5 things social media posts have in common



The stable demand for accounting services has made the field a promising one for accountants. This makes it one of the highest salary earners in the labour market.

However, as an accountant, your degree may not be enough for you to break even among your peers in the field. You may want to get certified in some areas of specialization.

Having a certification would not only give you an edge in the accounting labour market, but it would also increase your earning capacity.

Here are some popular accounting certifications that you should consider:

Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)

The CIA is awarded by the Institute of Internal Auditors(IIA). This certification is the only globally accepted one for internal auditors. With this certification, individuals demonstrate their competence and professionalism in the internal audit field.

Aspirants have to pass a four-part exam to obtain the certification and must have a minimum of two years of meaningful experience in internal audit or any related field.

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Tagged as accounting’s jack of all trade, this is the most popular certification among accountant worldwide. Accountants with this certification have proficiency in many areas of accounting and finance; some of which include Corporate government, financial analysis, tax preparation and planning, management consultancy, among others.

Accountants with this certification can operate in so many areas. However, Certified Public Accountants are mainly seen in the sectors of external audit and tax.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Granted by the Institute of Management Accountants, The CMA validates its awardees’ competence in management accounting, which includes cost management, decision support, and financial planning and analysis.

To obtain a CMA certification, aspirants must pass a two-part examination and have at least two years of professional experience in management accounting or any related field.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

With today’s increasing popularity of general and personal finance strategies, this certification has gained valuable recognition. CFP is the most highly recognized planning credential in the world.

The CFP certification would open up your career to a plethora of opportunities. Here are the requirements of becoming a CFP professional:

·       Aspirants must complete a CFP Board-registered education program,

·       Aspirants must sit for the CFP exam

·       Aspirants must hold or earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university within five years of passing the exam

·       Aspirants must have about three years of financial planning experience.

 

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

The CISA is awarded by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). This globally recognized certification is for accountants who audit, assess, control and monitor an organization’s information’s systems and technology.

To qualify for the CISA, aspirants must pass a five-part exam and have at least five years’ experience in information systems auditing, control or security.   While some certifications are more suitable for some accountants than others, there is no single best accounting certification. However, it is essential to choose the type of certification that would work for you. Consider your career goals and interests before choosing one.
 

2019-8 Boost your potential with these accounting certifications. Boost your potential with these accounting certifications


Email newsletters are loved by marketers

The first email was sent in 1971, which makes it ancient technology in the digital world. You might think messaging services and social media have supplanted it but, in business at least, email is still the preferred communication channel for up to 80 percent of people. As a result, marketers say it offers the best return on investment of all digital channels.

And yet we all have a lot of unopened email newsletters in our inbox. So how do you create an accounting newsletter that will get read? And can you do it without investing hours of your precious time creating content?


Why would you send a newsletter?

Before creating and distributing an accounting newsletter, you need to be clear about what it will and won’t achieve. You don’t want to go to the trouble if it’s not going to get the results you want.

Don’t think, for example, that it will go viral and get forwarded around town, bringing you a bunch of new leads. It’s not a lead generation tool. Quite the opposite. You need leads before you even get started on a newsletter. Newsletters are for nurture – helping you build relationships with prospects and clients over time.


Warming up prospects and reminding clients you’re there

As you know, accounting has a long sales cycle. You don’t win new clients overnight. It’s really hard for businesses to change accountant, so things move slowly. And new businesses often don’t hire an accountant until they have to, which may be around tax time. Either way, your leads will take months to mature into new business. That’s where newsletters come in. They’re a way of staying on someone’s radar until they’re ready to make a decision.

Additionally, an accounting newsletter will also help you reinforce your value to existing clients, to keep them happy and onboard.


Newsletters don’t have to be a big production

Perhaps you think an accounting newsletter would be a great idea, if you didn’t have to write it or design it. Well, you don’t. You can create plain-text newsletters using mostly borrowed (or curated) content that’s still valuable to your clients. Here are 11 tips to help you get good results on a budget.


1. Send it to the right people

It may be tempting to buy a list of email addresses to get started, but try to avoid it. Such lists are often of low quality, with many contacts who haven’t agreed to be on them. Most of them will be irrelevant to your line of business. There's no point sending accounting newsletters to people who don't need an accountant. If you go down this route you might also be penalised by your ISP for sending spam (unwanted) emails.

It will be slower, but you’re better off building your own database of contacts. Most accountants are good at collecting business cards, so send those people an email asking if they’d like to receive your newsletter. Add the ones who opt in to your database. You’ll be surprised how quickly your audience grows.

You can also invite people to opt in for your newsletter by including a link on your:

·        website

·        email signatures

·        social media profiles

·        business cards and other marketing collateral


2. Segment your audience 

As with all communication, people respond better if it’s personalised. That’s tricky when you’re sending mass communications but try to segment your audience and send tailored versions of your newsletter.

You don’t want to create too much work for yourself so keep it simple. Start by creating one list for leads and another for existing clients. You’ll communicate slightly different messages with each group, so create different versions of the newsletter.

After a while, you may get more sophisticated and split your list into industry categories for example. But again, don’t over complicate your life or it will become onerous maintaining different lists and creating many different versions of the newsletter.


3. What's in it for them?

Why should people sign up to receive your accounting newsletter? Giving out their email address is a risk, so you'll need to convince them that the reward is worth it.

You’ll probably provide accounting tips, tax updates, or maybe software advice. If your local laws allow it, you may even offer spot prizes. Whenever you invite people to subscribe, briefly explain what sort of content they’ll be getting. Don’t overhype it. Promotional talk will just come across as pushy.


4. How polished does it have to be?

Newsletters come in many forms. In the days of print, they ranged from photocopied letters all the way up to glossy, full-colour epics. You’ll find the same variation in digital form. Some companies produce big, well-designed publications that are full of images, charts and big feature stories, while others send plain-text emails.

There’s a reason why the plain-text approach hasn’t died, even in the digital age. They work. If the content’s relevant, well-written and easily readable, then the rest is mostly just window dressing. In fact a modestly produced text-only email may come across as genuine, less salesy and more personal. Plus it requires much less work to produce.


5. How do you create content?

The most effective newsletter is the one that people read. You have to make the content interesting and easy to digest, but you don’t want to spend hours crafting it. There are agencies that will supply accounting content for you to copy and paste into your newsletter, but it’s generic.

Your best bet is to curate content. Find online articles that are relevant to your clients and write a one-paragraph summary for your newsletter. Include a link to the original article. Besides a summary, you might like to include a few personal thoughts on the topic to add some extra value.

Tips for curating content 
Bookmark 10 or 20 of your preferred online publications and check them during the week. As you find interesting articles, paste the links into your draft newsletter and write little summaries for each. Before you send it, go through the accumulated content and weed out the weaker articles, until you’re left with really strong content.

As a bonus, you can also post the articles – and your comments – to LinkedIn. That way you’re building a wider profile as a thought leader at the same time as creating a newsletter.

You can produce original material too
If you have the time, or there’s a good writer on staff, go ahead and include original content in your newsletter. The best approach in this instance is to publish the article on your blog and link to it from the email newsletter, rather than pasting the whole thing into your email.


6. Writing tips

When communicating by email, you have a few main priorities:

·        Avoid sounding spammy: Use clear, descriptive subject lines that tell people what’s in the newsletter. Steer away from promotional language.

·        Keep it short: People read more slowly off a screen than off a page. As a result, web writing has become more direct and concise. That’s what people expect, so don’t waffle.

·        Be warm: Write the newsletter as though all recipients are old clients. It needs to be conversational and informal. If your tone is too professional, it’ll come across as sterile.

More tips on the subject line
Your subject line often determines whether or not someone opens the email. Savvy marketers often test different subject lines to see which ones resonate the most with an audience. You don’t have to be that scientific but it’s worth taking some time over your choice of words.

The subject line should be short and informative.

·        Don’t waste your words on generic titles like “June newsletter”.

·        Don’t feel like you have to give the newsletter a name. It’s there to build your brand – not to have a brand of its own.

·        Choose plain language over clever phrases. People are in a literal frame of mind when looking at email, so jokes and puns can get lost or, even worse, may cause confusion.

·        Keep your subject line short, so recipients can see the whole thing in their preview pane.


7. How long do I make my newsletters?

The question should really be how short? Try to keep your accounting newsletter to one or maybe two stories. For starters, it will be quicker for you to produce, which means you’re more likely to keep publishing. Even more importantly, it will make the newsletter easily digestible. Subscribers will be more likely to open the email and explore the content if they know they can do it quickly.


8. Don't oversell

It might be tempting to try to add a call to action (CTA) to every newsletter entry, but don't overdo it. Where newsletters are concerned, the hard sell gets old very fast. CTAs such as "Click here to find out how we can help!" are unlikely to work well. To avoid putting off your clients and prospects, limit the CTAs to rare occasions.


9. Proofread what you've written

It's a truism that you spot the typo in your email just as you hit the 'Send' button. So be sure to proofread your newsletter before sending it – it’s easier to see errors if you read a printed copy. Send it to a colleague first and have them take a look too. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will spot mistakes that you missed.


10. Have a sensible schedule

Sending newsletters every day is a good way to annoy people. Weekly or every two weeks is better. Monthly could work too, but recipients may lose interest if they come too infrequently.

Whatever pattern you choose, try to stick with it. People can be sensitive about email traffic so maintain a consistent tempo that subscribers get used to. You can always break the schedule if there’s fresh news that you have to share straight away.

Be realistic
When setting your schedule, it’s important not to be too ambitious. An accounting newsletter is a slowburn approach to signing new clients so you’ll have to keep publishing for a long time. Pick a sustainable tempo.

Sending weekly emails may seem like a great idea when it’s fresh and new but imagine how you’ll feel when the novelty’s worn off and you’re busy with other things. Start conservatively, by sending something less often. If you’re getting good feedback or finding it easy to do, you can always increase the frequency later.


11. Measure the results

One of the big reasons why marketers love email is that they can use tools to see:

·        who opens it, and who doesn’t

·        who clicks on the links, and who doesn’t

This sort of data will help you see if people are engaging with the content. If they’re not, you can try writing on different topics or using different subject lines to improve the results.

You can also drill down to individual contacts and see what content they’re opening and clicking on. That information will help you when it’s time to have one-to-one interactions.

Free email marketing tools will give you data on open rates and click-through rates.


Free email marketing tools for your accounting newsletter

You can use email marketing services to help manage lists, send emails, and track how people engage with your newsletter. There are a number of providers, such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and Benchmark. Smaller businesses often get free use of these services, which means you could potentially send and monitor the performance of your accounting newsletter without spending anything.


Get started

Everything that used to be hard about creating an accounting newsletter is easy now. You can curate the content, forget about design, and send and monitor your emails for free. Plus email marketing services will give you a lot of free advice on how to write good emails. They’ll also tell you what sorts of open rates and clickthrough rates you can expect.

If you want to test it out this year, start by:

·        researching email marketing services (and see what you can get for free)

·        building a database of recipients

·        thinking about how to segment those lists into sub-groups

·        bookmarking good financial and business publications as sources for content

And if the results aren’t great initially, don’t give up. Use analytics tools to try and identify where you can make improvements.

An accounting newsletter is a good way to communicate with large numbers of prospects, with relatively little effort. It’s worth exploring.


2019-8 Creating an accounting newsletter that works. Creating an accounting newsletter that works

Bruce’s business Simple Accounting Services is headquartered in a funky urban corridor, where Wellington’s French cafes cluster. Clients enter the office up the stairs of a former wool store, through one of those cafes, which delivers a stream of flat whites to client meetings.

It’s a far cry from the tiny rural town of Tokomaru, New Zealand, where Bruce went to primary school with 120 other children. “It was a good life for a kid,” Bruce says. “We used to kick a rugby ball around, climb trees, make forts, and help out on the farm.”

Then when Bruce was about 12 years old, his dad moved to a job in town as a computer programmer and Bruce started at Palmerston North Boys High. “It was quite daunting on the first day. We were living by the river and had to ride our bikes all the way through town and through traffic lights. I’d never really seen traffic lights before, so that was a big change.”

Accounting seemed like a good backstop

At high school Bruce played rugby and studied economics, maths, English, science and accounting. He was interested in business and liked money. “My mum’s cousin was an accountant and apparently she was making lots of money, so I started studying accounting, though I wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to do.”

Then a local firm that was looking for someone to work for them and asked the accounting teacher who was the best at accounting and computers. “He suggested me,” says Bruce, “which was interesting because I used to wag accounting and physical education classes, and go to work at the garden centre in the afternoons. I thought, well I’ll take the job, and if I don’t like it, then it’ll stand me in good stead for another role. And here I am – it’s just kept going.”

“A lot of my work centred around spreadsheets in the early days and I did some interesting things. Once I got sent to help open up a bar and teach them how to do the till reconciliations, and at the time I wasn’t even legally allowed to be in the bar because I was too young – I was 17!”

In that first job in Palmerston North, New Zealand, Bruce specialised in accounting systems. “I liked the challenges. If someone said, ‘No the software won’t do that,’ I would make it do what we wanted it to. I don’t like being told I can’t do something!”

After about six years, Bruce moved south to a job in Wellington. But when his marriage broke up he decided to move back to Palmerston North, closer to where his ex-wife and two children were now living. “I met Tash, my new wife, at my leaving drinks on the day I was leaving Wellington! So, I ended up only being in Palmerston North for about three months before moving back down.”

Going it alone from a windy garage

Balancing the demands of a big city accounting practice with having his children at the weekends proved exasperating. “I needed time off on Fridays to go and pick up my kids. So I went home to Tash and said ‘Let’s set up our own firm,’ and she said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and so we did  – even though I only had one client at the time.”

At first Bruce ran the business from an office in their garage at the top of a hill in Wellington, a city known for its wind. Bruce recounts how the southerly would often come whistling under the roller door and blow his papers off his desk.

That was the start of Simple Accounting Services – a name that reflects the focus of the business. “Our clients are IT contractors, small retail businesses, mums and dads with rental properties, and tradespeople. The bigger Wellington firms I worked for were interested in looking after bigger clients. It felt like there was a gap in the market, so that’s where we went. We try to do good service, fast, and for a good price.” 


The ups and downs along the way

Now Simple Accounting is a team of five including Bruce, co-director Peter Reweti, and Tash as business manager.

At one point, after acquiring another accounting firm and their city clients, there were 13 employees. But there were some issues with the different culture and focus of the two firms. Some of the newly acquired clients objected to being with a firm called Simple Accounting because they felt their accounts weren’t simple.

“I don’t think we handled the branding terribly well,” says Bruce. “Things had snowballed, so we pulled it back and we’re trying to focus on keeping things simple again.”

They let the staff numbers decline over time through natural attrition, and now when they recruit new staff, they’re looking for the right attitude. They like to hire people who are willing to adapt and do things differently.

For Bruce, the toughest times are with clients who are struggling. “There’ve been a few tears shed around this table with clients who are seriously in trouble, and sometimes it’s hard to divorce yourself from it.”

“Accounting systems are a speciality of mine so in the early days I picked up a lot of clients with QuickBooks and MYOB, but probably only about one in ten were doing it correctly. Most of the time, it was a complete mess. But fewer and fewer of our clients are on those systems now. And we do all of our end-of-year accounts in Xero, whether or not our clients use it.” 

Once, Bruce was advising a lady that she probably needed to liquidate her company, “I realised halfway through that it meant we weren’t going to get paid the money she owed us at the time! There’s been a lot of that in the last few years with the economy.”

On the other side of the coin, the biggest reward for Bruce is in helping clients sort out a shambles or get out of financial trouble.

Be unique, not a copycat

Though it’s been a rocky road, Bruce recommends going out on your own. He’s seen a lot of people set up their own small accounting firms, now that technology has made it so easy.

“My main advice is don’t do what everyone else is doing,” he says. “Don’t just copy what the successful firms have done. Be different.”  

Bruce also recommends working for an accountancy firm before setting out on your own. “You need someone to learn the ropes off. It’s a good idea to become a chartered accountant too – it gives you more options.”

Imagining a more relaxed future

Between them, Bruce and Tash have six children aged from 10 to 23. With five of them still at home, family life keeps them busy.

“Our youngest one is playing rugby this year, so we spend a bit of time in the club community,” says Bruce. “I go down for practises and run around with the boys. I keep getting pressured to play for a club team too but my knees are both stuffed.”

“And I like to do a lot of DIY work because I’m sitting down all day at work. I think that comes from my upbringing on the farm – if something needed to be fixed, Dad would fix it himself.”

When it comes to work, Bruce finds there’s still quite a lot of pressure. “It’d be nice to grow the firm a bit and get some more senior people so we could back off a little. Maybe I could just come in for client meetings 20 hours a week and have someone else doing the desk work.

“In 10 years’ time, I could see us having a little lifestyle block somewhere. Tash loves horses, and I can picture myself sitting on a beach. We’ll see where it goes.”

2019-8 Doing it differently, keeping accounting simple. Doing it differently, keeping accounting simple


Whether as a group leader in your community’s project or a project director in your company; the chances are that you have been frustrated at least once and have asked the question ‘what do they want’.

Something unique about humans is our range of emotional nuances. Whether it be interpersonal or formal relationships, it’s important to have a sense of empathy for your team members. In other words, you should know how to apply the act of understanding and sharing others feeling in your team.

I have always applied four unique points whenever it comes to the subject of empathy. Hopefully, you could find them useful.

 

Do they really need your help?

Nobody; and definitely not a member of your team wants to feel undermined. We all want to have a feeling of control over what we do. So, before throwing a hand of assistance, confirm they need your help. For instance, I once worked as part of a project team in my workplace. The board of directors apparently thought I needed an extra hand in the area I was assigned to- but I didn’t. As a result, I felt I was incapable of handling this responsibility. It took me speaking out to oppose the idea and a little time of self-motivation to build that trust I had in the management and myself. In the workplace, each person has to take into account every other person’s needs and ideas to figure out how to compliment or add to the team effort, rather than to detract from it.

 

Give them your full attention

When others communicate, learn to listen. Pay rapt attention to the keywords in their sentences, their emphasis, their tone. Also, check out their body language and attention. This way, it would be easier for you to ‘enter their head’. Just step up your game on your mindful listening ability; your amount of empathy for your co-workers would drastically increase.

 

Consider other people perspective

Perspective-taking is the act of looking at things from the point of view other than ours. If you want to show empathy towards people, step into their shoes and see things how they see them. For instance, if there is a misunderstanding in the team, try looking through their point of view on the subject of argument. When it comes to empathy, it is not about what we would do but about what others would do.

 

Don’t just sit- act.

Being able to see the world from others point of view is such a beautiful talent- don’t waste it. It would be no use if you can feel others emotions but fail to express it. A pleasant morning greeting with a smile can go a long way. Pay attention when they open up to you. Use your instinct to detect the hidden meaning to their words. Be curious about their family- talk and counsel.



Wrapping up.

A friend of mine told me “We humans are like the stars- of course, we shine bright. However, if we come together we can shine brighter than stars, we can shine like the moon”. We can always do better when we work as a team.

2019-8 Empathy: 4 things to remember. Empathy: 4 things to remember


I recently received this message from a close friend in Europe … a person who has followed me on social media for years:

“I had no idea you had a new book out!”

This message was a like an electric shock to my marketing pride.

For a period of months after Marketing Rebellion came out, social media posts about my book seemed ubiquitous — blogs, videos, podcast interviews, newsletters. How is it possible that this friend missed the news?

If this were an isolated event I could shrug it off but I get similar comments all the time. People I consider fans and friends seem unaware of my books or events. For some, it seems to be a surprise that I have a podcast, something I have been doing for more than six years!

It makes me wonder … is there any way to reliably reach your customers, even the ones who profess to love you?

The unreachable customer

The unreachable customer has become a “thing” in my lifetime. In the early days of media, you had a daily newspaper, three network television stations, and some magazines. If you repeated an advertising message through these channels you could reliably connect with an audience that had no other place to go for their news and information.

In that age, we didn’t have to battle for this captive attention, at least to the degree we do now. We battled our competition to provide the best offer.

An attention economy

Today the customer attention is fragmented into a million distractions. Assessing the customer journey is like looking at a row of stained glass windows. Sure, they are all windows, but each one is a unique composition filtering the light in a thousand different ways.

Marketing today is so difficult because there is no way to reliably make a connection through all those possible filters.

Some customer “windows” into my work come through my blog, which is typically emailed to subscribers through a distribution service. But even a benchmark “open rate” for an email is 30 percent. So 70 percent of my readers miss whatever I have to say on any given day. If I post those articles on social media the “connection rate” is a fraction of that.

Reach for my podcast …. who knows? The metrics aren’t great for podcasts. Podcasters today don’t even know for certain how many subscribers they have, let alone posses an ability to connect to specific customers.

Digital advertising? Almost invisible to most people.

Even on my best day I’m connecting to just a fraction of my customers through any means available to me.

A solution?

Here is a business idea for somebody.

The world needs a way for us to connect to our best customers in a perfect and absolute way. There needs to be some sort of service where if you are a loyal customer or a true fan, a crucial message gets to you no matter what (maybe a text alert?)

And on the other side, businesses need to be able to slice and dice this list to provide very targeted and relevant messages and news.

For example, last week I did a free event in San Antonio. I wanted to let all my followers in that Texas city that I was coming and that it was free. But I have no rapid, sure-fire way to reach everybody in San Antonio connected to me through some content or social media channel. Nobody does.

We need a service so that if people in a city want to know if I’m coming to their town, they will absolutely know.

I can imagine them checking boxes of their favorite speakers or authors. Simon Sinek. Malcolm Gladwell. Brene Brown. These are the people I would want to see if they come to my city for a speech or book signing. Sort of like a concert alert for authors, speakers, and social media friends.

Reaching the unreachable customer

We are never going to go back to a world where every person’s “window” is the same. But maybe there could be one little portal that is the same and reliable, at least for your most valued audience.

Perhaps somebody out there will say, “hey ya big dummy, there is already something like that out there!” A common refrain to be sure … but I don’t think so.

So get on it world. I have thousands of people out there missing the best things I have to offer, free meet-ups, and even my books.

How do we reach that unreachable customer?


2019-8 Getting creative to reach the unreachable customer. Getting creative to reach the unreachable customer

The Wow Company recently attended a London event for small businesses who didn’t have an accountant. We spoke to twelve business owners there, and eventually signed three as new clients.

We’ve always pitched ourselves as a firm that’s good for young businesses. We want to work for them and we know how to appeal to them. But Wow is 13 years old now. We’re an established business, which means we have to continually ensure we relate well to younger organisations. This was a great reminder of how to win their hearts and minds.


Understanding the new-business headspace

When thinking about how to get new accounting clients, it pays to try and understand their mindset. Most businesses struggle into life as a small one or two person operation. Their setup is simple and uncluttered, but there’s no budget for hiring help, so the owners do everything – including bookkeeping. It’s a do-it-yourself culture.  

As the business grows, the owners come under pressure. There are more transactions happening and more records to keep. Money flows in and out of the business faster, and they often lose track of it. You can expect them to be feeling overworked, tired, and anxious.  


Owners will be feeling some pain

As their workload grows and they slip behind on their bookkeeping, business owners worry that:

·        they’re not meeting their tax and compliance obligations

·        they don’t really know how much money they’re making

·        they’re making decisions about things they don’t fully understand (like debt)

And they’ll feel pressure to:

·        work faster to meet growing demand for their goods and services

·        catch up on business admin on their weekends

·        try and fix their work-life balance

This is the state of mind of your newest accounting client. Be ready to support them through this time.


Make an emotional connection

Small business owners can start to feel very lonely during the growing pains. As a result, owners often feel isolated. The best thing you can do when meeting them for the first time is show some empathy. Don’t focus on the debits and credits of accounting. Try instead to give them a sense of comfort and understanding.

Being human isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. It’s also a competitive advantage. Business owners don’t expect it from an accountant, so it’ll set you apart. At The Wow Company, we start by asking new accounting clients what keeps them up at night, or what they wish for their business. They’re business questions, but they’re framed in an emotional context.


What do they want from an accountant?

Someone who doesn’t have an accountant probably doesn’t know what an accountant can do. You’re not going to educate them overnight so don’t try to. It’ll just overwhelm them.

Business owners in these early stages aren’t looking for sophisticated services. If you can address their short-term anxieties, they’ll be interested in talking some more. Focus on these three things:

1.     Figuring out how the business is doing
As businesses grow and speed up, owners generally lose track of their financial situation. They may not know if they’re profitable, or how much they can reinvest in the business. Tell them how you’ll put that information at their fingertips.

2.     Taking away hassle
No one gets into business to do accounting. Build systems that reduce the business owner’s bookkeeping commitments. For business owners who are scrambling to do a thousand things at once, there’s no greater gift you can give them than time.

3.     Being their go-to person
Small business owners have a lot of questions. They probably worry some of them are naive or stupid. Be the person they feel comfortable asking. As you find out what they do and don’t know, you’ll be able to educate them. That will make them more confident in themselves, their business, and in you.


Give them back their life

It's the sheer volume of work that will often compel a business owner to find an accountant. They’ll be sick of recording and reconciling transactions – or worrying about their finances. Help them imagine a life where they don’t spend late nights or weekends:

·        punching data into a spreadsheet

·        preparing and sending invoices

·        wondering if they can afford new equipment, extra staff, or more inventory


Services that will hook small businesses

Explain how you’ll take away the pain. Most new accounting clients won’t understand that modern accounting tools can automate their:

·        record keeping

·        invoicing

·        cash flow tracking

These three services alone will relieve their work burden, give them certainty in their financial situation, and help them understand their business. If you can promise to fix up these areas of their business in the first couple of months, you’ll be in a strong position to pick them up as new accounting clients.


Caring for your clients isn’t just a marketing trick

Once you have a new accounting client onboard, you need to keep working on the personal relationship. Empathy is not just a show you put on to win the business.

It helps to have compassionate people on staff, but there’s more to it than personalities. You need to make relationship-building part of everyone’s workday. Keep a customer relationship management system, and ensure everyone on staff buys into it. Use it to record personal information about your clients, like:

·        why they got into business

·        what they want from the business

·        who their family is

·        what their interests are outside of work

This will ensure you never lose sight of the personal connection that defined your relationship at the outset.


Young businesses make great new accounting clients

Young businesses can be excellent clients because:

·        they’re often entering a growth curve when they become a client

·        you can set up their accounting systems the way you like

·        you can score quick wins by introducing modern accounting tools and disciplines

It makes sense to go after these new businesses. Just make sure you understand where they’re coming from, what they need from you, and how to appeal to them.

2019-8 How to get new accounting clients. How to get new accounting clients


 

Way back in 2015, the United Nations made a pact to actively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This pact is known as the Paris Agreement and is a clear sign that cutting carbon is a top priority on a global scale.

People, businesses, corporations, families, governments – we’re all responsible for looking after our world.

Since the 90s, the Earth’s surface temperature has risen nearly 1°C because of increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Although 1°C might not seem like the most alarming figure, in 2016 scientists predicted that if the earth’s temperature rose any more than 2°C, the atmospheric balance would be so out of kilter that human life would become difficult to sustain – we’re already half-way there!

If you’re looking to start a business, or want to transform your current company into a carbon-neutral, environmentally conscious operation, now more than ever is the time to do so. Strike while the iron’s hot, and before the world gets even hotter…

Coined in the early 1990s, ‘carbon neutral’ refers to a process that doesn’t add to the net atmospheric increase of harmful emissions (namely CO2). Achieved via a combined effort of carbon offsetting and the use of renewable, emission-free resources, carbon neutrality is an environmental step in the right direction that every business should be taking.

 

What is a carbon neutral business?

Requiring more than popping a few strategic recycling bins about the office – in the hope that your staff will take the initiative to separate their paper from their plastic – running a carbon-neutral business entails a whole host of proactive, yet achievable, steps.

But, before we get into the nitty gritty, what exactly does running a carbon neutral business mean?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, carbon neutral means: “making or resulting in no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, especially as a result of carbon offsetting.”

At Startups.co.uk, we leave no stone unturned! That’s why we asked Will Richardson, founder of Environmental Management Consultancy Green Element, for his expert advice on what carbon neutral means in the business world:

“If you are a carbon neutral company, it means that you as an organisation are not producing any emissions from a net producing point of view. However, the interpretations of how this is achieved and calculated can vary.”

Although, going carbon neutral does entail a bit more than simply waving a magic investment wand. It’s best to think about how all aspects of your business can reduce its carbon footprint. Using an environmentally sustainable energy supplier is a good start, but there are many more steps to take on the path to complete carbon neutrality.

As far as business is concerned, think balance. If you put CO2 into the atmosphere, then somewhere along the line, you’ll have to balance out the emissions by removing the exact amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as you put into it.

This is simpler than you might think. The easy way to counteract your carbon emissions is to invest in an environmental initiative. VEEV, for example, is the first carbon neutral, alcoholic spirit brand and donates 1% of its sales to Rainforest Preservation and environmental causes to balance out its carbon footprint. This is known as carbon offsetting.

Carbon offsetting is an action that compensates for the carbon dioxide your business emits through participating in schemes, or funding programmes, that remove the equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere.

If you’re scratching your head for ideas on where to invest to offset your carbon footprint, we recommend looking into tree planting schemes or rainforest preservation as a good starting point. Or, companies such as EcoAct run a service to help you find the perfect location for your offsetting investment.

 

Why should a small business go carbon neutral?

Heightened levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are bad for the planet for all sorts of reasons, many of which you will already be aware of. But, did you know:

Each year, 40bn tonnes of CO2 is released into the atmosphere – averaging out to a whopping 5.5 tonnes per person? Granted, this might just sound like a few abstract facts and figures, so put it this way: if a day’s worth of CO2 were to form a film over the surface of the earth, the film would be the thickness of a piece of paper (70 microns) by the end of the day. After a year, the film would be 31mm thick, and, after 50 years, the film of CO2 would be the thickness of 1.55m.

As CO2 is a gas, it floats off into the atmosphere rather than forming a solid ‘film’ as such, but you get the picture: globally we produce enough CO2 every day to coat our planet with a layer of what is, essentially, a poisonous gas.

We’re literally suffocating the planet with our CO2 emissions, so making sure that our impact is as minimal as possible is everyone’s responsibility, business owner or otherwise. And, what with World Earth Day just around the corner (falling on the 22nd April, to be exact), there’s never been a better time to ride the eco business wave.

Aside from the clear environmental benefits to carbon neutrality, it comes with some pretty awesome perks as well as reducing the damage inflicted on the planet.
 

1. Save money

Firstly, taking big steps towards improving your business’ energy efficiency levels will save money and the planet. Something as small as implementing a ‘lights off at night’ policy will cut costs and your carbon footprint. For example, corporate giant P&G have reportedly saved $500m through implementing energy efficiency measures alone – with more savings forecast for the future. 

Back in 2016, 190 of the Fortune 500 companies made a combined saving of close to $3.7bn. How? Through energy efficiency initiatives, that’s how. And, being clean and green isn’t just good for your overheads, it’s great for investment prospects too. Barclays, for example, have noted that bond portfolios featuring clear goals for sustainability have shot those with weak environmental targets right out of the water in the past seven years.

 

 2. Retain and attract employees 

Showing that you’re eager to engage with environmental issues will help to engage and inspire staff – motivating your team to pull together in a combined effort to reduce your business’ carbon footprint. Cycle-to-work schemes, work-from-home days and a robust in-office environment policy will all help to show to your staff that you’re a business that cares.

For more information on how to run your business more sustainably, be sure to check out the Startups’ suite of pages focussing on green and social business.

Not to mention the fact that if you’re building your business, you’re probably recruiting. A recent survey shows that millennials want green jobs, and they want them now.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial, Strategy (BEIS) found that 65% of 16-24 year olds would prefer a job in the green economy. This equates to around 3.7 million young people who are looking for, or would be interested in, a job with a clear environmental focus.

Fresh out of college or university, the millennial talent pool is awash with desirable skills well suited to the fast pace and change-driven attitude of any start-up business. So, if you’re looking to make yourself as attractive as possible to the young millennial professional, you’d better pull your carbon-neutral socks up.


3. Attract new customers

It’s not just your current staff that’ll be motivated by your carbon-reduction mission – potential customers and future talent will also be attracted to a greener policy. In fact, research suggests that 55% of consumers are willing to pay higher prices for goods from environmentally conscious companies.

Conscious consumerism is taking off in a big way and you really don’t want to be left behind, so get ahead of the curve and reap the financial, moral and social benefits carbon neutrality can offer.

 

How does a small business become carbon neutral?

The six simple steps to carbon neutrality are as follows:

Step 1: Calculate your carbon footprint
Step 2: Reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible
Step 3: Offset the remaining carbon by investing in a cause or programme that actively reduces global carbon emissions
Step 5: Gain carbon neutral accreditation
Step 6: Publicise your move to carbon neutrality using social media, your website and any other marketing means at your disposal

Hungry for more detail? For the best possible, in-depth advice on how to become carbon neutral, we also caught up with an expert: Studio Republic’s sustainability officer, Halina Myers. Here, Myers shares the story of the small marketing agency on a big environmental mission to carbon neutrality:

What are the first, most achievable steps to running a carbon neutral business?

“First, it’s important to get a baseline calculation to work with. It’s really simple to get your carbon footprint calculated. This will help you to understand your business’ carbon emissions whilst benchmarking you against other organisations.

“Next, you offset. It’s a really good opportunity to make a genuine difference in the world, so choose something meaningful to you and your team.

“However, running a carbon neutral business is about more than calculating and offsetting your carbon emissions. You have to have a long term view to reduce the amount of carbon you produce at source. Last year, for example, Studio Republic produced 3.63 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and has set a target to reduce this to 3 tonnes of CO2 emissions by the end of 2019.”

Studio Republic offset five tonnes of CO2 by donating to a Ugandan Borehole Rehabilitation project, could you tell us a little more about that?

“To offset our carbon footprint, we wanted to choose a scheme that allowed us to make a positive social and environmental contribution – sustainability does, after all, encompass people too.

“We chose the Ugandan Borehole Rehabilitation project because the positive impacts of this project are countless. Borehole water is safe and does not need to be boiled, which greatly reduces the need to gather firewood to purify it. This saves firewood and prevents the unnecessary release of carbon emissions.

“Also, the borehole rehabilitation and maintenance in Lango sub-region, Uganda, will be the very first programme to implement the new Gender Equality methodology from the Gold Standard.

“We chose to offset more carbon than we produced because we wanted to make more of a positive impact. It’s not a necessary step, but if you have the means to do so, we would highly recommend it.

“Choosing a project that is meaningful to you, your team and your business is really the key takeaway from our experience with offsetting. We advise sitting down with your team to get everyone’s input into choosing what scheme to opt for – your staff will feel great about it and really feel part of something good.”

From a recruitment perspective, why do you think millennials are more likely to be drawn to businesses with strong sustainable promises?

“The statistics show that 73% millennials are willing to spend more on sustainable products, and this mentality spreads into recruitment too. Since refocusing our business back in 2017, online job applications have quadrupled and all of our applicants have expressed a passion to work with an ethical and sustainable business.

“So much so, that three quarters of millennials are willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company, the same amount consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding who to work for, and 64% of millennials won’t take a job if their potential employer doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility practices.

“It’s clear throughout our brand, our business plan and our company mission, that sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and this has had a massive impact on our recruitment process.

“We’ve been able to utilise our sustainability actions as a business tool to bring in new talent, and generate business: opening up a world of opportunity for us.”

 

Which businesses are already carbon neutral and who is it suited to?

Spearheading the carbon neutral business movement are some big names in the business world. The likes of Google, Neal’s Yard and Avis are all touting the carbon neutral flag – signposting a strong awareness of the environmental impact they have, with a view to reducing the impact as much as possible.

Even 007 is getting up on the carbon neutral hype as James Bond, otherwise known as Daniel Craig, will be zipping around in Aston Martin’s latest zero emissions vehicle, the Rapide E, in the next Bond movie (now due for release in 2020).

And – as of March 14th 2019 – new kid on the energy provider block, Bulb, has become completely carbon neutral. Already supplying, and powered by, 100% green energy – Bulb are now offsetting the 90% non-renewable gas they supply by supporting ClimateCare.

ClimateCare is a B-Corp that facilitate carbon reduction projects across the globe, including the building of solar and wind farms in Asia, as well as developing rainforest protection schemes in Africa.

On the move to carbon neutrality, Hayden Wood, Bulb Co-founder and CEO has said:
“We supply 10% green gas to all our members and now we're offsetting the remaining 90% by supporting carbon reduction projects across the world.”

With companies both big and small taking the plunge into carbon neutrality, it’s clear that carbon neutral is a badge of honour that any business can wear.

But, it’s all very well and good going to all lengths to become carbon neutral, but how do you let you let the world know that you’re trying to save it, once you’re a carbon neutral company?

Ideas for advertising carbon neutrality:

· Pop it on your website

· Publicise on your social media channels

· PR like crazy – press releases, social announcements… The whole lot

· Make a media splash – if you’re offsetting your carbon emissions by supporting another company or programme, include them in your press release and get them to publicise the move too

 

FAQs

Is going carbon neutral going to cost the earth?

If your business continues to pump CO2 into the atmosphere, then yes, the earth will suffer. But metaphor play aside, the only costs incurred when your business goes carbon neutral are whatever you have to spend to offset any emissions. Otherwise, lowering your carbon footprint will have a positive impact on your business’ bank balance.

Saving on energy costs is the big business budget tip. Other carbon and cost cutting tricks come in more nuanced forms. For example, if your business has a fleet of vehicles, vehicle tracking devices are a great way to improve routes, cut travel times, save on fuel costs and, ultimately, cut down on carbon emissions. Read the Startups section on business vehicle tracking for more information on how to cut carbon and costs, even in your company car. 

What is a B-Corp?
A certified B Corporation (B-Corp) is a business that overperforms in terms of positive social and environmental impact. Transparency, accountability and performance are the three key attributes of a B-Corp and, as a whole, B-Corps are helping to shoulder the social burdens of 21st century life. This is including, but not exclusive to, lessening the environmental impact of the business world.

The likes of Patagonia, the outdoor travel company, are a certified B-Corp. B-Corps are a growing group making big waves in the business world as they, in the corporation's own words, ‘form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good.’

 

Overall

In theory, a carbon neutral company doesn’t produce any carbon emissions. Modern infrastructure, however, makes it nigh-on impossible to run an operation that doesn’t produce any carbon at all. So, for those unavoidable carbon emissions, a business can choose to offset the levels of CO2 it’s responsible for.

Offsetting comes in the form of investment in other companies, programmes or schemes that have a carbon negative impact on the planet and actively seek to reduce the levels of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere.

There are some big movers and shakers in the business world taking on the carbon neutral challenge. Search-engine giant Google is even doing its bit for the planet, and it’s high time we all did the same. It’s simple: reduce the amount of carbon you already use, then offset the remainder.

In the words of Halina Myers: “Carbon neutrality, as with sustainability, gives back countless benefits to businesses across the board, there’s no reason not to go for it.”

 

 

 

2019-8 How to run a carbon neutral business. How to run a carbon neutral business


There is a lot of confusion about what is a business debt – partly because there is a real cross over between someone borrowing in a business or personal capacity.

 

To simplify it, we need to define what personal and business debts might be.

 

If an individual borrows money in their own name, for personal spending such as buying a TV, clothes, a car or a house in their own name, that is clearly a personal debt.

 

The borrower is liable without any ability to deny their responsibility for paying back that debt.

 

If they borrow money to establish, support or fund a business, for instance borrowing $25,000 from a bank to develop an e-commerce website to sell cosmetics, then that money is clearly being used for business purposes, but is still a personal debt.

 

However, a business can have several different structures that impacts on the personal liability of the owner or directors.


 

The main business structures in New Zealand are:

 

Self-employed or sole proprietor – someone trading in their personal capacity

A partnership – several people working together

A limited company – has its own legal personality.


 

What is my personal liability as a sole trader?

 

An individual is liable for business debts when they are self-employed and run their business in their own name.

 

If the business owner enters a hire purchase agreement to buy a vehicle it is a personal debt.

 

Also, if they sign a lease agreement for rent of commercial premises, they are personally liable.


 

What is my personal liability as a partner?

 

As a partner in a partnership business, you are automatically jointly and severally liable, that is, personally liable for all the debts of the partnership.

 

That means if one of your business partners becomes personally bankrupt, you and the other business partners are then liable for any and all the business debts of the partnership.

 

This can be historic, for example if a leaky home case is filed against an architectural partnership that designed the house but is no longer trading – then the partnership and the individual partners are still liable.

 

If one partner is insolvent, the solvent partners take full liability for the outcome of the leaky home hearing and the costs awarded to the building owner.


 

What is my personal liability as a director or shareholder?

 

Essentially, directors and shareholders cannot be naïve and think they are protected if their company goes bust.

 

There are lots of ways a director or shareholder can be liable for the debts of the company.

 

·       If a director or shareholder gives a personal guarantee in respect of the company’s debt, they become personally liable for that debt.

 

·       Directors and shareholders are liable if they allowed the business to trade fraudulently or recklessly, and they are found liable by a liquidator or the court for some or all of the company debts.

 

·       There is personal liability if the Inland Revenue proves that some of the debts of the company relate to trust funds that were inappropriately administered by the directors or shareholders.

 

·       If an overdrawn shareholder loan account accrues, it is then repayable by the shareholders as a loan to the company.

 

·       When drawings or dividends drawn are excessive it is much the same as taking a loan from the company and if the business goes bust – the directors will need to repay the funds.

 

·       The same goes for making excessive personal expense claims against a company, for example buying a fishing boat and claiming it as sponsorship or vehicles.

 

·       Also, if you have borrowed money in your own name and invested that money in the company by way of shareholder advances or share capital then you are still liable to the lender for that loan, even though you didn’t personally use the money – the business did.

 

 

Personal debt risks with guarantee liabilities

 

Guarantee debts normally arise where a director or shareholder has signed the following in their personal capacity, as well as director or shareholder:

 

·       Bank loans

·       Finance company loans

·       A property lease, even if that lease is subsequently assigned

·       A lease, finance or hire purchase agreement for plant, equipment or motor vehicles

·       A service agreement in respect say phone, computer or other services

·       An agreement with a trade supplier, which sometimes may not explicitly state that a director or shareholder may be personally liable, but may be as a signatory to the agreement

 

Depending on the nature of the guarantee, the creditor may also be secured by assets owned by the guarantor, a family trust or other person, and sometimes this again may not be clear in the terms and conditions.

 

As with any agreement, a person really must fully read the documentation presented to them so that they don’t inadvertently give a guarantee, when they had no intention of doing so. 

 

Taking legal advice before signing any documentation is therefore advisable.


 

Keeping track of your personal liabilities

 

One of the most common issues seen when businesspeople find themselves in trouble with debt, is that they don’t actually know what they might actually be liable for. 

 

Maintaining a list of any guarantees given is therefore advisable.

 

Getting into serious debt, or even considering bankruptcy, isn’t part of business owner’s plan.

 

With good financial literacy, advice and planning it can be avoided but should things get out of control it is stressful.

 

However, there are solutions and bankruptcy should be the last option rather than the first port of call for entrepreneurs.

 

 

  


2019-8 Is it a business debt or personal debt, or both?. Is it a business debt or personal debt, or both?


Have you ever had a situation where you sent someone a text or an email and the message was completely misunderstood? Ever had a prolonged period of discomfort between you and the recipient as a result?

Because we have dehumanized communications an awful lot gets lost in translation.

When you post, send a text, IM or email you do so without the benefit of direct human interaction. You don’t make eye contact, you don’t hear the tone of voice nor do you see each other’s body language. You lose the ability immediately to note how someone is actually responding to what you’re saying and to clarify in the moment to ensure the message is heard properly.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take advantage of the efficiency and convenience of technology. It would be pretty hard to run your business without using posts, texts, IMs and emails. I’m also not saying that you cannot be creative in what you write and how you express yourself. (After all, my friends know that I’m the queen of making up words!) What I’m talking about is when you need to convey a message clearly to your clients and customers, your staff, your vendors and your peers.

Here are three simple things you can do to make sure less gets lost in translation:

1. Make your point.
2. Make sure your context is clear.
3. Make your point in language that your recipient will relate to.

Make your point. 
Here are some stats I’ve been seeing: On average, business people receive about 90 emails each day and send about 40. If you’re 45-55 you receive and send about 16 texts/IMs per day, If you’re 25-45 you receive and send more than 85 texts/IMs every day. If you’re under 24, that number rises to 128 per day. So get to the point. Considering how much we’re bombarded with digital contacts, you need to make your point clearly and fastly (see how I make up words? Lol!).

Make sure your context is clear. 
You have seen how a tweet can be taken out of context and spun into a media frenzy. Take a moment to make sure your recipients know what your context is and keep it crystal clear. Remember that your recipients are human and they’re often in a hurry so they will only scan your message rather than reading it carefully.

Make your point in language that your recipient can relate to. 
Think about who you are writing to and make sure you use their language. It’s not about you, it’s about your recipient. When you do this, your odds of being heard and understood go up dramatically.

Take care in what you write… I’m not talking about the 125 character limit, but actual words and phrases carefully selected to convey a message as it is intended to be received. Make your point, give clear context around your message and do your best to say what you mean in a way that it will be received as you intended. Plug in your brain and practice writing quickly and clearly. Oh, and spell things out instead of always shortcutting… KWIM?


2019-8 Lost in Translation. Lost in Translation


Do you know that creating a strategic plan for your business can have a lot of tremendous and positive impacts on your business?


However, before you spend all your resources on developing a plan, there are a few things you should check out for first. 


· Is there a commitment from the leader and management team of the organization? Can they be held accountable for the successful execution of the plan?


· Is there someone whose skillset you can trust to guide the meetings for the development of the program? 


The documentation of the resulting strategic plan does not necessarily have to belong and voluminous. All it has to be is a plan that is conducive to execution. A program that is conducive to implementation would have these characteristics:


· Must be focused


· Brief: Voluminous documentation may not provide enough drive to facilitate the change you want in your organization.


· Accountability: Your plan should be subject to occasional referencing (daily or weekly). This would help track progress and guide decision making. 

The most easily executed strategic plans are no more than two pages long. In the rest of this article, I will be showing you how to make a two-page strategic plan.

 

 

Your Two Page Strategic Plan

Page 1: Strategy

 

This page describes how you will compete for profits. On this page, there should be three main components:

 

· Value Proposition

· Modified Value Chain

· Trade-offs

 

What the value proposition does is that it answers the following questions for your top markets:

 

1. Who are your customers, and where are they located?

2. Which needs are being filled?

3. What is your pricing relative to the competition?

4. Which requirements are not being filled?

5. What makes us unique?

 

What the modified value chain section does is that it describes the activities you perform that are different from your competition to create value

Trade-offs enlist the businesses your organization would no longer engage in.

 

 

Page 2: Long Term plan

 

This page deals with the vision of your organization. This page specifies the route to the achievement of the strategy from the first page. Here are the components of the long-term plan:

 

·  Long Term Goal – This is the expected outcome of the procedure you have put in place after several years. 

 

·  Key Success Factors – These are industry-specific activities that you must perform better than the competition to be successful.

 

·  3-Year Quantitative Goals – These include measurable targets such as revenue, profits, cash generated, number of new/active customers, etc.

 

·  Target Market to Dominate – This part species your targeted market. It should include customer description, location, and your specific offer.

 

·  Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – The three ways your product stand out to when compared to that of your competition.

 

·  USP Metrics – How you will measure that you are living up to your USP.

 

·  Key Metrics – These specify daily/weekly/monthly metrics to be tracked to judge whether you are achieving your plan or not.


2019-8 Strategies, Plans and Commitment. Strategies, Plans and Commitment