Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 6: Answer your phone!

Tip 6: Answer your phone!

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

We all own a smartphone, but are more likely to use it’s smart functions such as email and social media than it’s original function of making and receiving calls. Some new business owners are reluctant to put their personal number out there but all of these things could stop potential business coming your way.

Watch this video where Ed focuses on the reasons why you should answer your phone.

As a business you need to consider what form of communication is going to be most effective for the task you have in hand. A phone call can be more direct and productive than an email conversation.

Action Point:

What solutions have you found to help you answer your phone? Comment below or send us a Tweet including the hashtag #EdsTopTips.

Ed’s Top Tips – Tip 4: Network your way to success

Ed Goodman, business mentor, author and co-founder of Cambridge Business Lounge, presents Ed’s Top Tips – a series of short and useful guides for starting and running a business.

Tip 4 – Network your way to success

Building a successful business is fundamentally creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. One way of creating those relationships is attending networking events and understanding how they can contribute to your success.

Watch this video where Ed explains why networking is an invaluable benefit for your business.

We challenge you to avoid using the opener ‘what do you do?’, instead try something like: ‘what brings you here today?’ or ‘tell me the one thing about your job you love the most’. This creates the start of an interesting conversation which is different to the standard openers and will flow more naturally.

We’d love to know what the best and worst networking experiences you’ve had. Comment below or send us a Tweet including the hashtag #EdsTopTips.

Breaking The Back of Bookkeeping

b imageFollowing on from “Why You Need an Accountant When Starting a Business”, I want to focus on the financial paperwork that you can (and need) to manage yourself, and that you don’t need an accountant for.

Imagine this dark scenario…

You’ve done your research; got your product or service to market, found customers who are interested in what you do…and then you run out of cash. A dramatic, but not uncommon, situation and one not caused by banks not lending.

This situation is often created by not knowing who owes you money, who you owe money to and HMRC penalties for late or incorrect payment and filing of returns. There are more benefits for having your house in order as Emily Coltman FCA, Chief Accountant to FreeAgent Central, explains “Not keeping your books up to date is very risky. Plus, you won’t be able to make informed decisions such as which new markets or new products to try if you don’t have accurate and up-to-date financial information”

“I don’t have the time”

It’s vitally important to make the time, and how much time often depends on the complexity of the business. If you’re a retailer selling a high volume mix of VATable and non-VATable products, your bookkeeping is likely to be more involved than a business which raises 5 invoices per month. A good system will be easy to use, easy to understand and as Emily suggests “we believe that spending just one hour a week on your books will make all the difference.”

It certainly will be if you put these tools in place when you set up your business, rather than play catch-up when you’ve been trading for weeks or months.

“Which system should I use?”

There are a plethora of bookkeeping systems out there, far too many for me to list. So, if you haven’t used one before, seek advice from your peers, accountant or bank manager. An accountant may even suggest using the same system as them, which could be a benefit to you and may even help to reduce your accountancy bill. But is it the right system for your business? Emily warns “Don’t accept an antiquated bookkeeping system because it’s what your accountant has always used. Look for a system that puts YOU in control – after all, this is your business and you are responsible for it to HMRC!”

Using a system that’s different to the one your accountant uses shouldn’t hinder your professional relation with them, as Emily explains “With the right system for you, you will be able to work more closely with your accountant, who will be able to give you proactive business advice such as whether your prices aren’t high enough or you’re paying too much in bank charges.”

Download Software Vs Cloud Based Systems

Market leading tools have historically been QuickBooks and Sage and there is a growing increase in the number of online tools available, with the most popular versions being FreeAgent, Xero and KashFlow. Others are available, but I’d recommend one of these as the starting point for your research.

Online accounting software is, in my opinion, the best way to go. Your information is then accessible from anywhere in the world and, more importantly, it is safe and secure. Also, many online systems offer free trials so you can see how intuitive they are before you commit. When you do try one, also test their customer service/tech support as these will be invaluable to you in the early days of use, and you don’t want to be spending more time on hold or with an unsupportive advisor than you need.

To summarise:

  • Start as you mean to go on, and put systems in place now.
  • Use the tool that’s right for you and YOUR business, not your accountant or bank manager
  • The time spent on this will actually save you time in the future.

Email your comments or questions to info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com

It’s Okay To Ask For Help For Your Business

helpStarting a business can be an extraordinarily exciting, yet daunting experience and the need for peer to peer support is greater than ever…

One morning, a boy was playing in his sandbox with his box of cars and trucks, his plastic pail, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox and, with a little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the large rock across the sandbox by using his feet. However, when the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, he found that he couldn’t roll it up and over the wall.

Determined, the boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox.

All this time the boy’s father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded and, at the moment his tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox.

Gently, but firmly, the father said, “Son, why didn’t you use all the strength that you had available?” Defeated, the boy sobbed back, “But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!”

“No, son,” corrected the father kindly. “You didn’t use all the strength you had. You didn’t ask me.” and, with that, the father reached down, picked up the rock and removed it from the sandbox.

I have absolutely no doubt that you are great at what you do and that you are incredibly passionate about the products or services that you offer. But what don’t you know? And what is stopping you from getting your rock over the wall? I suspect that many don’t ask for help because pride gets in the way, or that we don’t know who to ask outside of traditional businesses like accountants or solicitors. Or maybe because a mental cry for help is closely followed by “but I wonder what it will cost me”.

But there is so much more help out there. In fact, at the time of writing, almost ¼ million businesses started up in the UK* this year alone and many will be sharing the same challenges and feeling the same frustrations.  So, get out there to networking events and coworking spaces; find other start-up businesses, whatever their industry, and support each other. You’ll be amazed how quickly your rock is removed and how much it will help your business to grow.

” Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

* http://www.startupbritain.org