According to FIFA the main purpose of VAR is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made. So with Russia 2018 in full flow how can law firms use VAR to prevent poor decision making and consequently improve their financial performance.
I’m not suggesting videoing board meetings and re-watching them as often sitting through the meeting the first time was tough enough. I would suggest using it as a prompt to drive improved performance. Here’s how…
Do you know how your firm is performing and not just headline sales and profit but what is really driving them? As an illustration do you know how your business is performing in terms of
Profile of work
Profitability of each work stream from both a client and product perspective
Current level of capacity
Taking that a step further how does this compare to how you need to perform to achieve your goals.
Ultimately you need visibility through accurate, relevant and timely information to drive behaviours.
As one of my clients said recently “you have given us greater visibility of our performance which in turn gives us confidence in our decision making “
Once you’ve set targets and started to measure them do you do anything with the results?
Any good analyst can create a pack of information with pretty graphs but unless you do something with it is worthless. It’s vital to spend time on a regular basis to review your performance, set clear actions and follow up on them. If your team know that actions will be followed up then you can be sure they will be done.
No accountability for failed actions will lead to ignorance of any actions set.
If you set clear targets, measure yourself against them and then take actions both to rectify the problems and promote the positives you will achieve the desired results. As a couple of examples in my experience this has led to
-Improved profitability on fixed fee work
-Better informed pricing decisions
-Timely recruitment meaning you get the right people and not just the people available right now
-Income growth due to innovative pricing offerings
Visibility Accountability Results
Having spent the last eight years in the legal profession I know many of the issues you face and the key drivers to target improved financial performance. I currently work with a number of law firms to achieve this and if you want a chat about how I can help you then please drop me a line at [email protected] or give me a call on 07960 564 203.
World leaders are often assessed on what they have achieved in their first 100 days in office. It made me think that it would be good to share some of the things I have achieved and learnt over my first 100 days as a start up.
Taking the leap from secure employment to running your own business is a big step. For me this was compounded by the most common response I got when I told people of my plans “You are so brave.”. I’ve worked in finance for 21 years, held roles at Finance Director level and worked across a variety of sectors from the legal sector to manufacturing. So with all that experience do you think it was brave or risky to go it alone offering my services in Financial Strategy support?
Well I did it anyway
And in 100 days I’ve achieved
Variety I’ve managed to achieve one of my main drivers for setting up and have secured clients in professional services, retail and the legal sector.
Satisfaction When a client repeatedly thanks you for your support you know you’re on the right track. One client said to me “I always felt better after our meetings as I know what I need to do next.” It’s not just about the numbers but helping business owners to achieve their goals.
Client Success When my client won 100% of a stream of work from a public body based on an innovative pricing piece I produced it made me do a little jig of delight.
Personal Well-being Doing a job you love brings improvement to your personal well-being. I don’t need any Monday motivation quotes to get me going at the start of a week. Being in control of my own workload means I sleep better, I exercise more and I can easily cope with those days when my 3 and 6 year-old are fighting over the same piece of Lego.
And I’ve learnt…. (not an exhaustive list)
Be realistic Unless you have a number of contracts lined up when you leave then it’s likely your earnings will decrease in the first couple of years. Being realistic about what you think you will achieve in year 1 and 2 will mean you are positive when you hit those milestones. Planning to ensure you have enough money to pay the bills will give you peace of mind too.
Build your network Build a support network around you of people who will give you advice, be supportive, may even face the same issues as you and not just people you think may send business your way.
Find the right networks There are a wealth of networking events out there, at the start when your workload isn’t as high make the most of this time to go to as many as you can. You need to find the right ones for you in terms of the right people, the right format and of course the right time. Breakfast meetings are great for me but the reverse might be true for you if you’re not a morning person.
Be a sponge So many people in the Manchester business community have been willing to spare me an hour for a coffee to pass on advice. Take it all in – that’s not to say I haven’t received conflicting advice at times but each meeting has given me at least one little nugget to help me.
Look back as well as forwards Take the time each month to think about what you’ve achieved. It’s strange to move from a role where you had a heavy workload and could see immediate results of what you’ve achieved to one where you are putting in the groundwork but may not see results for a few months or longer. I was recently told to track the meetings and events I’ve been to which has proved to be great advice.
Be yourself, remember why you jumped and enjoy it.
If you are thinking about starting up or are early on in your journey and you want a chat, then give me a call on 07960 564203 or drop me a line at [email protected]
It’s the end of January and whilst the waist band might be a bit looser than the start of the month your cash flow is getting tighter. For many it can take a couple of months in to the New Year to feel like you are back on track and in the meantime it’s just a balancing act to keep things ticking over. So now is the time to think about why it’s always like this in January and what you can do to avoid the pain next year. Some common reasons that I’ve seen clients experience are below and some thoughts about what you can do about them
My client didn’t pay me before Christmas….
If your client didn’t pay before Christmas think about whether they are slow payers all year round or just in December. I’ve felt the pain from mid-December when you just can’t seem to get hold of your client to discuss a payment date. Worse still they promise to pay and by the time its failed to arrive they have closed for Christmas.
Be pro-active and think about what you can do to try and improve this cycle. If it’s a big company it’s always good to find out when their regular payment runs are so you can adapt the timing of your invoicing to meet their schedule. Just bringing forward any monthly invoicing a couple of days could mean you meet their payment run and get paid 15 or 30 days earlier.
If you are dealing with a smaller business, then just talk to them and explain the pressure the delayed payment is putting on you. Honesty from your side may result in them being more honest with you. It may be you can agree a payment plan to clear a larger debt or just a regular monthly payment to keep them on track with on-going work.
January is always an expensive month
January may mean a Vat payment, the rent is due or the dreaded personal tax bill is higher than you thought and so cash flow is always tight.
Be pro-active and plan your cash flow. If it is the case that due to timings January is always a stretched month then it’s time to do some high level planning. Can you spread some of your costs throughout the year, can you get more clients on regular payment plans or do you need to think about your funding requirements. Planning the year ahead for your business will help you identify when these pinch points are going to arise so you will see them coming far earlier and be prepared.
I’m growing I need to invest
You may be growing your business which requires investment. Detailed planning will ensure you know how much you need and how long the pressure will be on so you can get the appropriate funding at a cost you can afford from the start. This enables you to focus on the challenges of growth knowing you have the cash behind you to support this and you can get on with making your business the best it can be.
If cash flow is tight and you want to have a chat about how you can ease the pressure, then drop me a line or give me a call.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.. that’s what Michael Buble tells me anyway. For some though December starts with a party and descends in to panic. There is just so much to get done with presents, parties, food shopping, relatives to visit and not forgetting to borrow the deckchair from next door to seat Auntie Mabel at the dinner table. Imagine you achieve all that and then you sit down to dinner and you’ve forgotten the sprouts….a blessing for some but a travesty to me.
All this stress and panic can be undone with just some careful planning and even those of us who would say we are not detailed planners end up with some kind of strategy to achieve all that December throws at us.
So if we do this in our personal life why do so many business owners not devote enough time to doing this for their business. I often hear that people are literally too busy working to really take time out to plan. Either that or they tell me that they can pay the bills and their work life balance suits them so they are happy to let everything tick along.
Taking a few hours out to think about what you really want to achieve will bring focus to your work, how you deliver it and how you target new clients. You may be happy with the current size of your business but are you delivering the work in the most efficient way and is your pricing right. If you want to grow how will you know when you need to recruit and what is the ideal staffing structure. Alternatively, you may have won some work in a new sector and are looking to capitalise but are not sure how much you want to invest in time and money and when you should expect to see the rewards.
All these are factors to consider and by planning you won’t be fraught when circumstances change. If your business starts to grow quickly you won’t need to spend time thinking about who to recruit or where best to source materials because your plan will already be in place. As a result, you won’t buy at the wrong price or recruit the person who is available soonest rather than the right person in the long term. If business is quiet for a while you will know your cash position and what is available for the unexpected before you need to be concerned. This gives you time to act in a rational way rather than for example taking on low priced work just to bridge the gap and thus consuming your time and preventing you from getting back on track.
Ultimately planning gives you peace of mind so that you can react to what happens next without making rash decisions. It will give you direction for the year ahead and should mean you achieve the work you want at the profit you want without sacrificing your work life balance.
So if you want to chat about your plans for your business and how to achieve them then give me a call or drop me a line via the website at www.helenfleet.co.uk.
And if you tell me that you’re not a planner that you buy all your presents on Christmas Eve and it works every year well in truth that is your plan. We all need one ….
It all started with a handbag and some buttons. Twenty years ago I sat in the year end accounts review meeting of a company in Cheetham Hill that made handbags. I listened to how well the business had performed and what their plans were for the future. For a number of years I prepared accounts for a button factory near Strangeways and watched as the owner moulded his son to take over the business. I loved being in these meetings listening to the owners plans, how they had dealt with the various challenges they faced that year and planning for what was to come. I decided that this was the path for me – I wanted to be in a business as a part of it making changes, influencing decisions – I didn’t want to be on the outside looking in.
Fast forward 20 years and I’ve had the good luck to work across a variety of industries from printing to professional services. I’ve taken some tough roles where cash flow was so tight some weeks we only secured the cash to pay the weekly wages with a day to spare and others where we needed to resource quickly to meet rising demand. I’ve seen both the challenges and demands on a business under threat from recession and the equally cash consuming challenges of a growing business.
In all these roles from revenue analyst to Finance Director and many in between it’s the people who have made my job so enjoyable. I’ve loved the range of people I’ve looked after and worked with from contact centre managers, Printing floor Manager, Sales Directors and equity partners in small accountancy practices and international law firms. The challenge is understanding their level of financial knowledge and interest in the figures, the impact on them and how I can be of most help. The enjoyable part is rising to that challenge, building a relationship and helping them to improve their financial performance.
So now after almost eight years in my last role I realised I yearned for that variety again. I’ve jumped from corporate life in to being in control of my own destiny and look forward to working with different clients across different industries to help mould their financial strategy. On a recent course after an icebreaker my fellow delegate summed me up pretty well as
Helen- she works in finance and helps businesses understand where they want to get to and helps them to get there
With the experience I’ve gained over the last 21 years of working I know I can help businesses at a level that means they see me as part of their management team. I can’t wait to get started and one of the best parts is I get to do it alongside my husband who has built up his own accountancy practice over the last seven years.
So that’s me part-owner of a family business and eager to get out there and help fellow business owners be the best they can be. If this inspires you to think about what you want to do with your business then give me a call and we can meet up for a cuppa and a chat.