20 per cent VAT 2012 budget 50% return accountancy accountancy fees accountancy services accountant accountant B accountants accounting for dividends accounting records accounting software accounts accounts software administration annuity annuity rates Autumn statement avoid inheritance tax avoidance of tax avoiding inheritance tax bank lending basic personal allowance BCC big picture book keeping Bribery Act British Chamber of Commerce BS7858 budget budget 2011 Budget 2012 budgeting business business accounts online business advice business cash management business confidence business continuity business continuity management business continuity plans business cost management business efficiency business exit business exit planning business finance business friendly business funding business goals business growth business investment business loan business management business owners business performance business plan business planning business record keeping business records business sale business success business succession planning business survival business tax planning business tips bwe based account cash flow Cash flow forecast cash is king cash management Cash-based accounting cashflow chancellor chartered accountant chartered accountant Birmingham chartered accountants chartered financial planner chartered financial planner Birmin child savings children’s savings choosing an accountant client entertaining Cloud accounting Company Tax returns compliance industry contractors IR35 corporartion tax Corporation tax credit control credit control procedure cyber attack cyber crime cyber insurance cyber security cyber threats data security data security. IT security debt collection debt recovery despite some of the bad press over recent years director’s loan account directors loan directors pensions Directors’ loan account dividends doubl Dragon’s Den dragons den Economic expansion EIS email security employee data security Enterprise Investment Scheme enterprise zones entrepreneur Entrepreneur’s relief entrepreneurs entrepreneurs relief ethical hacker Everyone needs to finance their retirement and exit planning finance finance management financial advisor financial difficulty financial forecasts financial freedom financial goals Financial management financial plan financial planner financial planning financial planning checklist financial planning tips financial wellbeing FSTE 100 FTSE100 fund manager gifts global markets growth growth finance HMRC HMRC enquiries HMRC enquiry HMRC IR35 guidance HMRC tax enquiries HMRC tax enquiry home loans how to manage time ICAEW IHT income tax income tax r income tax relief income tax return independent financial advisor information security information security management inheritance tax inheritance tax planning insolvency Institute of Chartered Accountants investing Investment investment advice investment diversity investment in marketing investment management investment options investment philosophy investment planning investment portfolio investment risk investment strategies investment volatility investments investors IR35 ISO 27001 ISO 27001 benchmark ISO 27001 consultants ISO22301 ISO27001 IT security Jimmy Carr jobs keeping the books key perfirmance indicators key performance indicators KPIs kpi's late payment penalties late payment penalty fines late payments legal tax strategy management information management meetings management standards managing data security marketing investment miscalculated tax motivating staff national lottery new years resolution online accountancy online accountancy software online accounting on-line accounting online accounting software online accounts online tax return online VAT return outsourced accountancy outsourcing outsourcing accounts overtrading owner managers Parker Management Consultants partnership agreements passwords Pay off mortgage PAYE paying a dividend Payroll penetration testing pension pension contribution pension contributions pension fund Pension funds pension investment pension investment strategy pension scheme pensions pensions forecast per personal allowance trap Personal financial plan personal financial planning personal guarantees personal pension personal pensions personal tax return plumbers tax safe plan pre pack administration private pension profitable business sale R & D tax credits R&D tax credits recession red tape reduce tax remote working report on economy research and development tax credits retirement retirement planning risk risk return safest passwords Saga sareholder protection cover security of websites Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme SEIS selecting an accountant Self assessment self assessment tax return self invested personal pension selling my business selling your company shareholder agreements shareholder protection SIPP SIPPS small business small business owners small business tax small businesses small firms SME SME business management SME marketing SME tax planning SMEs social media policy SSAS start up start-up stock market succession planning tax accountant tax affairs tax avoidance tax breaks tax charges tax code tax disclosure tax enquiries tax enquiry tax evasion tax investigation tax investigations tax liability tax man tax mitigation strategies Tax planning tax planning advice tax planning schemes tax reduction tax reform tax relief Tax return tax saving tax saving strategies tax savings tax strategies Tax tribunals taxation tax-break time management time management skills top rate of tax tough times UK Bribery Act UK economy VAT increase vat return VAT rise VAT submission web based acc website security when to pay a dividend work-life balance Xero Xero accountancy software Xero accountants xero accounting xero accounts Xero accounts service

Time to refocus?

Add to: Digg Add to: Del.icio.us Add to: Facebook Add to: Furl Add to: Google Add to: Live Spaces Add to: MySpace Add to: StumbleUpon Add to: Twitter
Thursday December 6, 2012 at 9:00am
With many small business owners working flat out to keep their heads above water in the recession, I wasn’t surprised to read in a recent survey that only 24.4% of those questioned said they would close completely over the festive season and 32.7% will close their doors for just 2 days.

Not wanting to miss out on potential sales, covering staff leave or simply taking the potentially quieter period between Christmas and New Year to take stock, do some important business planning for the year ahead or to catch up on paperwork, are all perfectly valid and commendable reasons for business owners being too busy for Santa.

But Christmas aside, if you find yourself consistently working long hours, weekends and rarely taking a break – there is the risk of, at worst, burn out or, at best, a loss of perspective on the business. And even if we take a holiday, we all know how difficult it is to switch off from the office with email and smart phone meaning we’re on call 24/7.

One of the biggest dangers for any owner of an SME is that they try to do too much, or – as is often the case - simply do not focus their time, energies and talents in the right areas. As a one man band starting out, of course you are more likely to be chief cook and bottle washer. But the pitfall many business owners fall into is to keep doing everything, even when the business is able to grow.

A survey of SME owners last month bears out this theory, apparently one in 10 is guilty of spending up to 90 per cent of their time on activities that aren’t directly related to driving business growth.

And so despite business owners seeing retaining existing clients as their number one priority and winning new business and growing their organisation as their biggest challenges, they are all too often more likely to be found poring over operational issues such as HR, IT, finance and training.

But if you look at the most successful entrepreneurs – it’s often because they have known where best to concentrate their talents and when it’s time to delegate.

SME owners, particularly in these hard pressed days of recession, may be tempted to the DIY approach as they perceive it saves them money. But can they really afford not to concentrate on the overall business strategy, direction and growth because if they don’t do it, who will?

And it can be a false economy to take hours over a job that could be done in half the time – and quite likely a whole lot better - by someone else.

The skills needed to be expert in the range of operational issues such as maintaining IT systems, keeping the books, financial planning and keeping the business legal are vast and it is unlikely that one individual would have the combined expertise of those who specialise in their respective fields. Struggling to do it yourself and potentially overlooking some vital piece of legislation or financial reporting, could prove a lot more costly in the long run if the SME is exposed to litigation or a time-consuming investigation by HMRC.

Understandably business owners mindful of their cash flow want to keep their operating costs to a minimum. This is where outsourcing can be the answer. It is a lower risk option particularly for start-ups wary of over-committing in the early stages. Outsourcing can be a ‘pay as you go’ option, buying the support you need when you need it without taking on the significant cost of a specialist employee. We choose to outsource some of our marketing support for example, just as many of our clients choose to outsource their book-keeping and financial reporting to us through our Business Edge service.

Outsourcing to a specialist with the expertise for specific operational needs will not only free up time to grow the business but can inject a new perspective which acts as a catalyst for improvement and innovation.

Andy Parker
Chartered Accountant, Birmingham

Comments on this post:

There aren't any comments for this post yet. Why not be the first to comment?

Share your experiences:

Your Name  
(to appear with your comment)
Email Address  
(will not be published)
Human Validation Check  
In the box below, please type the characters that you see in the picture. This helps us to ensure a real person (and not a crafty computer!) is submitting this form.

Enter the code shown to the left:

Parker Chartered Accountants and Financial Advisors is the trading name for PLW Advisors Ltd (Registered No. 10396831), and Parker Financial Planning LLP (Registered No. OC347027). Parker Financial Planning LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. All companies are registered in England and Wales – registered office contact details here