Great question raised this morning at the Birmingham Social Media Cafe – “Do you value your time?”
It sparked an interesting debate about the perceived value of your time. Do you give it away freely? Do you calculate free-time in terms of lost opportunity? Is your time worth more or less to you than to your clients?
In a service sector, time is what I sell. If I am not charging for it then by default I am giving it away. How much can I afford to give away before I start to devalue it?
As ever, it’s a compromise. I need to give a bit away to “show what I’m selling”. The time that I choose to invest in networking needs to have some ROI.
I was reminded today that time spent with some people is priceless.
Spent a great afternoon today on a panel presenting to a group of aspiring film makers. I am always inspired by those who have creativity running through their veins. Something about art being the object of their day’s work, not the pursuit of profit.
My input was to help improve the participant’s business skills. Also on the panel were four (yes, four) lawyers.
Art is good, sustainable art is better; be led by your work, not by the corporate structure.
I have been wondering what I could “give away” to give you an idea of the kind of support I give to businesses.
The first thing that occurred to me was a simple excel spreadsheet that shows how the P&L links to the Balance Sheet, which links to the Cashflow, which links to the P&L. You get the idea – its a neat pro-forma.
Then there is my list of the various kinds of accountants that businesses use – there are more than you might immediately think. This is helpful because you need someone to look after all aspects of your business’s accounts and it’s easy to overlook something…
Then I have a list of accounting software packages I know, either through using them, or reviewing them, or simply on recommendation – handy when discussing potential changes.
I have a great contacts database, but that’s worth a little too much to just give away…
I keep wondering about a FAQ page for my website. Is there an accounts question you always wanted to know the answer to?
So at the moment I haven’t got anything to give away. Should I have something? Is what I do too intangible? Does a freebie make a website more attractive? What would you like?
financial business support
Just had a really interesting chat about accounts packages (no, really!). It boiled down to compromise. There are a number of “must have’s”, including basic transaction recording, simple reporting for statutory purposes, and more complex reporting for management.
Unless you have £20,000 to spend, its unlikely you will get everything you need from a single piece of software. So how much functionality do you require your accounts system to have, and how much do you export to excel?
On one level, you spend as much as you can in order to get as much out of your accounts as possible, using excel to tidy up the presentation. On the other hand, you can get a simple accounts system that copes with the basic transactions (reconciling actual activity to the bank for example), and export key figures to excel to provide all your management information.
Both are compromises, but I suspect the latter could cost a fraction of the former. Its worth thinking about, and could save you a lot of money…
Financial Business Support Many years ago I interviewed a bunch of characters for the post of Nightclub Manager. Failing to make a decision, the panel asked itself the following question, “If the interviewee was a nightclub, would I go to it?”. Suddenly the choice became easy.
It is very easy to forget the impact that the person has on the identity of the business. Every employee, from security on the front desk to the chair of the board, adds a key ingredient to your brand. In times of apparent doom and gloom, what kind of impression do you give the outside world?
A visitor to your business, whether by phone or in person, may well learn more about your company from the first point of contact in the first few minutes than in the whole of the meeting you have carefully planned.
If your business has social enterprise objectives, then Business Link in the West Midlands has a limited time in which it will contribute towards the costs of business strategy, or process development, focusing on how the business will move forward to financial sustainability and move away from grant dependence.
In a nutshell, Business Link will pay 80% of the cost.
Interested? Let me know, and I’ll do what I can to help.
Recently my son appeared in a community production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It was a great show, with all the drama and fun that being part of an amateur musical entails.
As I was reading HSBC’s January Economic Outlook report this morning, it struck me that leaders have an incredible capacity to forget the lessons taught to us by experiences in the past. Over the last few years we have all read, and talked, about bubbles bursting, and such levels of growth being unsustainable.
Joseph told Pharaoh how important it was to save during the years of plenty, as reserves would be needed when times turned rough. Pharaoh listened (and no doubt received conflicting advice from other experts), and decided to impose regulation that ensured his country would withstand the inevitable downturn in fortune.
Are today’s leaders willing to take the same kind of action as Pharaoh? They haven’t in the last few years…
I have been pondering a number of issues over the Christmas period to do with the power of positive thought. As I was starting to compose my own blog, I was pointed towards a great article by Jon Cooper (founder of JupiterDawn.com), published in the Birmingham Post on 1st January 2009. Serendipity strikes again…
I’ve been isolating myself from pessimists for as long as I can remember. As soon as I feel a negative “vibe” from someone, I always make a mental note to be in a different room next time they’re around.
That particular skill is one I’m calling on more and more these days, as finding people without the doom-bug can be quite tough.
One thing which hasn’t changed with the economic climate is pretty much a fundamental law of the universe. Whether or not you believe some of the more spiritual stuff preached by Dale Carnegie, or in recent publications such as “The Secret”, it will always be an irrefutable fact that you get back what you put out.
If you think negatively, you will get negative results.
Even more obviously, if you say and do negative things at work, those around you will mirror those words and actions, producing a spiral of bad outcomes for your business.
The fact is, thriving in 2009 is far from impossible; here’s my 3-point plan to ensure that you keep your plans on track when others are falling off the rails.
1 – Review which of your goods or services are selling best, and focus on making those even more attractive.
Pricing, features and delivery can usually be tweaked if you look closely enough.
Conversely, consider dropping whatever isn’t selling well or making you a profit.
2 – Use PR to get your message to the market cheaply, and ahead of the competition.
Standing out from the crowd as a fashionable, desirable business can cost less than you imagine.
Newspapers, TV and BBC Radio offer great opportunities for entrepreneurs to broadcast interesting, recession-busting stories.
3 – Banish negativity from your business. If suppliers are talking doom and gloom, agree with them and get better prices and longer payment terms.
If customers are whining, find out what it would take to make them happy again.
If staff or colleagues are getting you down, re-arrange your office so you don’t have to listen!
In summary, identify the key success factors which made your business great in the past, promote them and focus on them, whilst eliminating waste and negativity.
I know 2009 is going to present some brilliant opportunities; make sure you are set up to grab them with both hands!