Research by the University of Pennsylvania has found that success in life (as well as in business) is driven by a critical mindset, which I call positive responsibility …
This critical mindset of ‘positive responsibility’ is defined by the researchers as, “whether you believe that your failures are produced by personal deficits beyond your control, or that they are mistakes you can fix with effort“.
“Someone with positive responsibility believes that success or failure is within your control!”
They believe you can fix things if you try hard enough. It’s a positive outlook, even an optimistic one; it’s a belief that failure is a learning experience and that they can do better in the future.
The research found that success isn’t the only thing affected by your mindset. It found that people with the opposite mindset – that your failures and your personal deficits are beyond your control – tend to have higher rates of depression.
Maintaining the positive responsibility mindset isn’t always easy. There are things that will make it harder to maintain. Challenges that could drag even the most optimistic of entrepreneur down, and that everyone needs to learn to avoid or rise above.
These challenges generally come from others, but at the end of the day everyone has to man-up (or woman-up) and take responsibility for themselves. So what are the challenges that get in the way of being successful? What things do you need to work to correct in yourself so that you can be more successful?
The seven challenges that make success hard are:
Fear and danger are real
There are dangers out there in business, and it is ok to be afraid of those dangers. Fear is a useful thing as it will keep you away from hazardous things.
But actually fear represents a choice. Just think of the adrenaline you get when you choose to do something dangerous and then the euphoric feeling you get from conquering your fears. There are examples of this in every charity parachute jump, abseil or fire walk … and that is why such activities are often part of personal development courses.
Successful entrepreneurs don’t hold back just because they feel scared. They use the adrenaline of feeling afraid to help push themselves to achieve … and then bask in that euphoric feeling.
Friends and partners are important
‘Creative multiplication’ is where the power of two people being creative is much more than just adding two streams of thought. It is the multiplication of energy and creativity that flows from working with others. You can see it in loads of situations where associating with great people has helped you to reach your full potential.
There are many obvious creative partnerships in recent history. Bill Gates and Paul Allen who founded Microsoft, or Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, for example. However, creative multiplication has a flip side – toxic people. Just as a creative partnership will build you up so associating with toxic people will drag you down.
Age really is just a number
There are examples all over the place to remind us of this. But lots of people will still feel compelled to tell you what you can and can’t do because of your age.
Successful people don’t allow people to limit them in this way. Instead, they use their passion to drive themselves forward.
Negativity is all around us
Actually, life won’t always be sweet and go the way you want it. A successful entrepreneur is usually someone who radiates positivity and energy for a reason!
Successful people don’t complain about how things could have been or should have been. Instead, they focus on the positive, on the things they have to be grateful for … and then they look for the best solution to move forward. They also tend to avoid the naysayers and negative radiators. I’m sure you know someone who is a negativity radiator, people who suck all the energy out of a room when they walk into it.
But if you spend time with such negative people then it will suck your energy and your passion. The answer is simple, most successful entrepreneurs avoid negative people like the plague.
Other people’s opinions can be both positive and negative
If you are the sort of person who compares yourself to others accomplishments and opinions, and gets a sense of pleasure and satisfaction from doing so, then actually you are no longer master of your own destiny. You are a slave to other people’s opinions.
Successful entrepreneurs do care about others, after all, it would be inhuman not to. It’s not that they don’t care about what other people think, but they don’t let anyone’s opinions affect whether they feel good about something that they have achieved.
No matter what other people think, your self-worth comes from within, whether it’s the satisfaction of a job well done or from reaching a particular milestone.
The past is the past and you can’t change it. The future hasn’t been written yet, but it will be defined by what you do in the present. Successful entrepreneurs embrace the reality of now, regardless of whether it is good or bad, and focus on the present.
You can’t forget your past, but you can make peace with it and accept it. You can’t change it, so don’t worry about it. Equally the future is uncertain, so accept that it is uncertain and don’t give yourself unnecessarily high expectations. Of course, you need to plan for the future, but you also need to live in the present.
Your worldview is also important
If you were to read an average week’s media headlines, then it will be filled with violence, disaster and economic woes. Partly, that is because the media likes a bad story more than a good story, but actually, the world has been around a long time, and most people don’t die on the streets or get made redundant.
Actually, there is just as much good in the world, it just doesn’t make it into the headlines! Successful entrepreneurs look at the world around them and don’t get involved in things they can’t control. Part of success is to focus energy on those things they can do something about. To control what you can control, to improve your world, your house, your business, your family situation.
Successful entrepreneurs also know that by taking small steps to improve their own situation they are making that small bit of difference that helps the world to be a better place.
All of which comes together to become the ‘positive responsibility’ mindset.
Importantly, this mindset is something that with training and focus you can develop to help you reach your full potential.
“Would you like to know more?”
If you want help being more positive and having a winning mindset then do get in touch with me
Want to start your own business? Then maybe you should plan to start your own coffee shop. 2017 statistics show that the UK has a total love affair with coffee …
The UK Coffee Week (yes there is one!) survey showed that there is an average of 3.4 new coffee shops being opened every single day! The coffee shop industry is worth £8.9 billion to the UK economy.
“Maybe you can get a share of this?”
There are around 23,000 coffee shops in the UK. But compare this to the number of pubs, which is around 53,000, and it seems that there is plenty of scope for more.
Britons drink around 2.3 billion cups of coffee shop coffee per year so it’s not as if there isn’t a demand for it. So, how exactly do you start a coffee shop? This sounds corny, but the first step in starting any business is research.
You need to understand what you are thinking of doing, so:
Research the market both nationally and locally.
Find out about the regulations that apply to coffee shops.
If you don’t have relevant experience, get some … work experience or training courses.
Find out about the different types of machines you can get … and then ask what freebies they will give you. Some machinery manufacturers will give you training and support.
What look and feel are you going for – the ambiance of any store is an important part of its appeal.
What beans will you use? There are a huge range and this obviously affects every cup you sell.
Are you going to do extra’s like food or books?
Don’t forget wifi!
And where should you start it?
It’s all about location, location, location!
Like any retail business, the first step is where. You need to think about your catchment area.
Are there many people walking past every day?
Will people travel to get to you
Does your area have lots of other businesses or schools or colleges or hospitals? In other words, how busy are you going to be?
You also need to think of size and how many people you can fit in your coffee shop. Part of your planning will need to be an interior floor plan.
Don’t forget things like customer loos!
Next up is how to advertise your coffee shop:
Any business needs advertising and marketing to make it a success … and marketing isn’t instant. You will need to start it before you open and build it up once you open the doors. As retail premises you will need signage, but that is a passive bit of marketing. Obviously, you will need a website and as a food business, you will need to have reviews on trip advisor and similar websites. Social media provides a great way to tell your local community about you and you can use these tools to really help you make a buzz. Launch special offers are always a great way to attract people to try you out and they give you something to shout about on social media.
What about a business plan?
Business plans are always important and useful. As you do your research you need to put together your business plan and have explanations of what, where, the look and feel, etc. But until you have found a location, decided on your look and feel and thought about machinery, you can’t put together the cashflow forecast that should be a part of your plan. This is the bit where you work out how much it is all going to cost. The cost part isn’t just what you need to get to day one and be open, it is also the monthly operating costs and therefore how much you need to sell in order to stay open!
What about business finance?
You can open a coffee shop on a pretty small shoestring, but you will need some money, probably at least £20,000! However, if money is tight then look at leasing your equipment rather than buying it outright. Leasing spreads the costs over the future, so you don’t need all of the money up front.
“Would you like to know more?”
There is lots more to talk about but, honestly if you would like to start your own coffee shop (or any other business), then call me
If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then so is the road to a better business! I meet a lot of business owners, and only a few do things to continuously upgrade and improve their knowledge of what they are doing …
However, lots of them say that it would be useful and probably important to go on more courses and read more business books, or even get a mentor.
“So what are you doing to improve yourself? What are you doing to improve your business?”
How many courses have you been on in the last 6 months? How many personal improvement books have you read? How many webinars, seminars and workshops have you been on? Do you have a business coach or mentor?
Put simply, what are you doing to improve you, because you – the business owner – are probably the most important aspect of the business that needs to be improved.
Sure you may have a technical skill, but that may need freshening up from time to time. But what about all the other skills you need to run a business? What about the stuff you don’t know yet?
In the past the UK’s education system has not provided training on how to run a business; the majority of schools still don’t. Certainly, there are MBA courses available at University, but not enough general learning about how to run a business.
So if you are one of the approximately 5.5 million self-employed, or 3 million company directors of small businesses, how do you deal with this?
One solution is your trusted accountant. I need to add a caveat that not all accountants are the same and therefore you may want to check out several different ones. Some accountants are great bean counters, but not great at giving you business advice.
Another solution is to find a business coach. Well, like accountants, there is usually plenty of choice. Before you say yes, what can you do to check them out? Obviously, you can browse their websites and social media for all sorts of information. One critical part of checking is looking at testimonials and maybe even following up one or two of them with a phone call.
If you are looking to improve your business, then start off by considering working with Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants. We provide the peace-of-mind that comes from being looked after by a professional, full-service firm of advisors.
For positive, pragmatic help and advice to enable you to get more from your business, call me.
Our office is shut for the Christmas period from 3pm on Friday 22nd December until 9am on Tuesday 2nd December. Emails may not be monitored during this period either! Have a great Christmas and see you again in 2018!
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘working smarter not harder’. We all know we should be working smarter, but somehow we end up just working longer hours rather than being smarter …
Working out how to work smarter can be a challenge; after all, if you already knew how, you would be doing it already, wouldn’t you?
“The answer will be different for different people!”
And it also depends on what you are doing, or not doing, already. The keys to working smarter are systemisation, automation, delegation and sales & pricing.
A great beginning to working smarter is to look at your systems and process and make them better. Every business has loads of processes, after all, it’s how you do what you do.
Every part of your business, whether its sales, admin, finance, production or delivery, every part is made up of processes. Frequently there are processes within processes. You need to look at how your business does what it does and make it work better.
“So now you know, you can get on and sort it!”
Well, perhaps not. Just taking the time to document every process is going to take ages and lots of the systems you use are the simple ones that you can ignore to begin with.
There will, however, be glaring issues that do need addressing. What is your area of most significant challenge, or what is giving you the most grief at the moment? You should start there.
What else can you do to work smarter? Part of making your systems work better might be to automate them. Automation can, of itself, help you to work smarter. Can you free yourself or your team from drudgery by using a bit of IT or a clever app that will do something for you?
What about delegation? Do you do everything yourself or do you delegate work to other people, either inside the business or outsourced? If you are a one-man band, you can delegate to a virtual PA. If you already have a team, then review who does what and work out who should be doing what!
“The final point, on my list of working smarter, is sales and pricing!”
If you undercharge for what you do, then you won’t make enough money. Understanding your costs and knowing what you should be charging is essential anyway. But if you want to work smarter then you need to know how to get more money out of your customers, and this is probably done by achieving better value for them.
From a sales point of view, part of working smarter is finding ways to let your customers buy from you rather than working hard to sell to them. Lovely to say, sometimes hard to achieve!
Working smarter not harder isn’t simple, but hopefully, this has given you some ideas of what working smarter is really about and where you can start to look at what you do.
“Would you like to know more?”
If you would like our help in working smarter not harder, then please do get in touch
Nearly everyone in business has a goal, a point that they want to reach, but too often that goal is a bit vague. For example, a lot of the business owners I speak to haven’t formalised their goals and they don’t have a plan for how they are going to achieve them …
Firstly, have a goal that is written down. The process of setting it down in black and white and saying why you want it is important. Of course, you need to be more than just a simple statement.
“Saying ‘my goal is to reach £1m in sales’ is simply not enough!”
You then have to say why you want to reach this and what this will mean to you … and then work out the steps that you are going to take to get there.
Equally, if your sales are going to be a £1m business:
what will your costs be?
what building will you be in?
how many workers will you need?
how many customers do you need?
what marketing is going to get them to your door?
If you haven’t already got a proper set of business goals, then take some time this holiday season to sit down and decide what things you need to do. Every plan has some common elements.
“You need to have a goal, a point to aim for. You need to allow for and be aware of, your cashflow!”
There are lots of tools, tips and strategies available to you, but let’s go old-school and just take a pad and a pen. Start with the simple stuff; how much do you want to earn in 2018? What does that mean in terms of business sales? How many customers, on average, will that be? What marketing will you do? How many staff will you have and will they be directly employed or subcontractors?
If you are already in business then also take the time to look back. What marketing did you do this year and how did it work? What can you or should you change for next year? How prepared is your business for 2018, what things do you want to tweak and improve?
Then you can prepare a plan, a list of activities to do or projects to implement that have a purpose. That are going to move you in the right direction so that you do achieve your plan.
“Sounds easy doesn’t it? A bit of time with a pad and a pen and you are sorted!”
However, you might find you get bogged down or find it hard to start or move forward. Which is where JVCA can help. We have lots of experience in helping our clients plan for businesses. In setting goals and in breaking them down into plans.
Want our help with planning for 2018? Then just get in touch.
There have been several studies over the last few years showing that yes, women do make better business owners! So what is it that helps women to be better leaders?
A US survey showed that 40% of USA businesses have women at the helm whereas 55% of Chinese companies have a female leader. Only around 12 out of the 500 most prominent businesses are run by a female leader, which is a shame.
“A UK survey showed that women are more likely to start or grow a business successfully!”
Women are better at taking risks than men because they are often more realistic about the risks and dangers. But this doesn’t make them less prepared to take risks, it makes sure they are better prepared when they do take on those risks.
Women have better Emotional Intelligence than men. They are generally more social, pick up on non-verbal clues and understand emotional situations. Relationships are important, whether they are with customers, suppliers or, the most important of all, with their team.
“Women are better at
building a team!”
Research by Barclay shows that women tend to re-invest profits for controlled, profitable growth rather than to look for faster growth and a quick exit. The survey came to the conclusion that women embrace entrepreneurship and value business longevity.
Women are better leaders because they are more likely to work towards steady growth whereas men try to position themselves for that lucrative exit. Women seem to nurture business rather than go for that quick buck.
Women tend to be better negotiators, mainly because they are happy to compromise. They value fairness and will look for win/win solutions. As opposed to looking for a way to beat the other side and make them lose.
If you are looking to start or develop your own business then the important point to note here is what can you learn, or what can you do to use this information in your business.
“Would you like to know more?”
If you want help to look at your business and see how you can improve it, then get in touch!
Everyone knows that you’ve got to have a business plan, right? So why do so many people not have one? Well, they may claim to have one but, in reality, are just happy to coast along …
Some have a business plan they prepared years ago, and it’s been gathering dust in some cupboard, long forgotten, until asked about. Others have a plan that their accountant created for them, and consequently, they either don’t believe in it or simply don’t follow it.
A few have a ‘mental’ business plan but, as they never really think much about it; it is rough, unfocused and really just an idea rather than a plan.
“Most don’t even have a misshaped idea and just do today what they did last week or last year!”
The problem is that the world is constantly changing and your business plan needs to be revised and adapted to suit you. Change it to allow for yesterday’s actions and adjust it in anticipation of tomorrow’s challenges. Think and plan for where you want your business to be in the future.
Post Brexit, we now find ourselves with a large business challenge. What is the exchange rate doing to the economy at the moment? Where will it take us over the next three months and what will Brexit really mean?
One thing we can predict with certainty is that stuff will change. What we can’t say is what and which way things will go. There is a truism here though: a recession is what happens to the unlucky or the stupid. You can improve your odds of finding the silver lining in the Brexit challenge if you look for it and plan for it.
I implore you to be smart and think about your business and your current strengths and weaknesses. Plan to use your strengths and improve your weaknesses.
Write down the things that could be problems, prepare a ‘what if’ strategy. What if it is really bad, what if it’s moderately bad, what if it’s much the same? What if it’s good, what if it’s reasonably good, what if it turns out to be amazing?
Think about the options, both negative and positive, so that you can be prepared and react accordingly.
Luck can play a part in our business life, but, just like a famous golfer once said, “you get luckier and luckier the more you practise to be great“.
How much time do you spend working on your business?
How much time do you spend thinking about ways to improve it and putting in place the necessary actions to achieve that improvement?
How much time do you spend conducting customer surveys to find out what your customers think then tweaking how you do what you do so your customers like you more and you score better in the next survey?
How much time do you spend in workshops or training courses or getting mentoring or coaching?
OK, so what are you going to do? Are you going to write your plan down? Are you going to communicate your plan? Are you going to discuss it with the people that matter like your life partner and your work colleagues?
“After all, if nobody knows what you want to achieve, how will they be able to help you get there?”
If you would like me to help you with your plan then call the office
What are you doing for Small business Saturday? If you are a shopper, are you planning on shopping locally? If you are a local business, how will you celebrate Small Business Saturday?
What is really important is that everyone celebrates Small Business Saturday. Importantly, make sure you do something on Small Business Saturday because small businesses are vital to Britain’s economy and we should all want them to and help them to, succeed.
“Shop small and local!”
Small businesses are important for several reasons; after all, in the UK there are around 5½ million small businesses! Like all critical business sectors, the ‘small’ sector both deserves and expects your support. So on Small Business Saturday shop small and shop local.
Why are small businesses important? Together they account for 99.3% of all businesses in the UK and, at just under 16m employees, provide 60% of the UK’s private sector employment. Big numbers!
Clearly this means that the health and well-being of this economic sector is vital. Obviously, there is the fundamental reason why we need small businesses: if you don’t have businesses, then you don’t have jobs. If you don’t have jobs, then you don’t have money!
“But small businesses are good for you and your town or region for other reasons!”
Small Businesses, and especially start-ups and growing small businesses, are the growth that fuels the British economy. Not only do they drive growth, but they create local jobs and encourage competition. Small businesses should be encouraged to flourish in your local area, bringing more choice, more jobs and thus more prosperity to your local region.
Stop buying stuff at the supermarket and go shopping at your local butcher, or baker. Go have a coffee in an independent coffee shop or buy a magazine in your local independent newsagents.
Why? Because local businesses are good for your house price. Research by American Express, amongst others, has shown that if you want your house to be worth more money you should stop driving to the nearest giant shopping centre or supermarket and instead head for your local high street and independent shops.
The research shows that towns with healthy high streets filled with independent shops like butchers, greengrocers, clothes shops, coffee shops, cafes and local markets can add £70,000 to the value of your house! Also, it’s just nicer to have a thriving centre in your nearest small town.
TV Property Expert Kirsty Allsop said, “By shopping locally and supporting local traders, you are investing in your home as well as your high street.“
“So, go out and shop
small and local!”
It will be good for the economy and good for the value of your house. And if you are looking to start a new local business, and need some advice, then get in touch with us
Christmas is nearly upon us, and the tax return deadline is looming. So for many small businesses, it’s time to look at their tax affairs and see how they can minimise their tax bill …
This week, we’re going to look at small limited companies. If you run one, here are some quick tax saving tips that will help reduce what you give to HMRC in January:
If you have lent money to your company, leave it there and charge the company some interest. An individual can earn up to £1,000 interest tax-free saving £200 as a basic rate taxpayer, up to £500 tax-free saving £200 for a 40% taxpayer and nothing for a 45% taxpayer.
There is a form the company needs to fill in and a tax deduction made on any payments of interest, but the individual can get that tax repaid to them, and the interest is free of income taxes if it is within this allowance.
On the other hand, if you have borrowed money from your company – which might be because you have drawn out more than the available distributable profits – make sure you fix this.
This can be either by paying some money back to your company or in restricting how much you take out over the next few months. The reason for this is to avoid (or minimise) the two potential tax charges, one on the company and one on the individual.
Doing this saves the company a tax charge of 25% of the amount still owed to the company 9 months after the year-end.
Meanwhile, the individual saves a P11d ‘benefit in kind’ charge if the loan is larger than £10,000 and the loan is interest-free or below the official rate of interest (currently 3%).
It is also worthwhile having a formal loan agreement with your own limited company to protect you from a potential HMRC challenge to tax your payments under the PAYE rules.
If you are not already making full use of the dividend allowance, then look at ways to do this. The dividend allowance means that in the current tax years £5,000 of dividends are income tax-free, which could save you £1,625 in income tax.
This is going to reduce to £2,000 from April 2018 (subject to confirmation of this in the forthcoming budget).
If you are thinking of ways to make use of the dividend allowance, then be careful over gifting shares to family members.
Gifts between husband and wife are generally free of tax, but the settlements legislation can affect gifts to other people. Don’t get it wrong and incur an unexpected tax charge!
You can charge your business rent for working from home, but you need to consider how much quite carefully. The rent-a-room allowance does notcover rents charged for office space!
Therefore, you need to carefully work out what is a fair proportion to avoid simply incurring a personal tax charge on this rent.
Importantly, if you charge your business for the use of your home, it can be worthwhile having a formal agreement that documents that the business does not have exclusive use of the space, otherwise HMRC might charge you capital gains tax when you sell your house!
If you are looking for more tax saving tips then get in touch with me on 01234 752566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss some bespoke tax planning for you and your business.
Get In TouchJonathan Vowles
114 High Street
Tel: 01234 752 566
Fax: 01234 752 577
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