Yesterday, I was asked for more context about “bridging the gap between operations and finance”. That phrase was said to me by a participant after a training workshop and I felt that it is a good summary of what I try to do. I was a late convert to accounting, having qualified first as an […]

In early December last, I participated in an online Webinar Series organised by Udaras na Gaeltachta. The theme of the series of “Webinars was Doing Business in a time of Crisis” and my topic was “Regenerate Your Business”. Here is a recording of my presentation.

Most Common Problems with Product Costs
What is a VIES Return?

Over the past year, I have been getting questions from clients about VIES. Typically, a client has received a letter from Revenue advising them that they should be submitting a VIES Return. However, the clients typically don’t know what VIES is and have no idea how to make a VIES Return. At this stage, I […]

Outsourced Financial Controller

If you struggle to get reliable financial information, or you cannot understand the information that you are getting, then you should consider taking on an outsourced or part-time financial controller. I was talking with a business owner recently who is running a substantial, exporting business.  They don’t have any qualified accounting staff in-house. At the […]

One question that business owners regularly ask me is “what KPIs should I use?”.  Most business owners are familiar with the idea of KPIs and they understand that they should have them but they are not sure where to start. I have been working in management for over 20 years now – initially as an […]

right type of accountant

Which type of accountant is right for you? Do you need to hire an accountant but you don’t understand all the different types of accountants and how they differ? Your relationship with your accountant is very important. A poor decision could have negative impacts on profitability or the amount of taxes you’ll pay. You need to choose well. […]

managing your business finances

I have provided part-time controller services to many businesses over the years. The level of financial management in businesses varies from business to business. There are a number of broad categories that could help in managing your business finances. No Financial Management The least capable of businesses ignore financial management. Documentation is gathered up during […]

The financial management capability of Irish SMEs varies significantly. I have been working with many Irish SMEs over the past 20 years. During this period I was helping them to assess and improve their financial management capability.  Over time, I have observed a number of different stages that businesses go through as they develop their […]


Have you ever been presented with a set of accounts where you get unexpected financial results?  It’s really frustrating. Maybe you’ve had a very busy period with strong sales and you are expecting to see a very healthy profit in your accounts.  In contrast, you have a poor profit or even worse, a loss. Therefore, […]

Managing Foreign Exchange – Preparing for Brexit

In the past few months, I have been getting more and more questions from exporting companies who are worried about managing foreign exchange after Brexit. There are a number of areas that cause concern but two, in particular, are common for the companies I have been talking to. One is, the Sterling has weakened significantly […]


Hello, Do you ever wonder how some businesses are able to use their accounts to help them manage and improve profitability?  In this short video, I will give you an approach that will change how you think about, and how to use accounts to manage a business. I’m Jim Cahill of AccountsPLUS. I provide CFO/FD […]

AccountsPLUS not good fit

I know that AccountsPLUS is not going to be a good fit for everyone. Over the years, I have worked with many different colleagues and with many different clients.  As I review my experiences, I realise that there are some types of clients who don’t benefit from my approach.  Equally, I get more enjoyment and […]

Which form of business? If you are starting out in Business, you have several decisions to make.  A key decision is to decide which form of business to use.  Will you trade as a sole trader or will you trade through a company? You may not fully understand the difference between the two forms of […]

If you are a business owner, you probably have an accountant. Sadly enough there are some common problems that arise when working with accountants. Having a good relationship with your accountant is very important.  This is because your accountant prepares and helps you to interpret the accounts for your business and ensures that you comply […]

Your Payroll needs to be well managed Most business owners I know are a little bit frightened of payroll. If you don’t manage it properly, you can end up with a big bill at the year end.  If you agree to pay an employee’s wages on an after-tax amount – agreeing to pay, say, € […]

Choosing new accounts software can be a challenge.  You want something that you can use yourself so that you won’t always be dependent on someone else.  You want it to be reliable so that when your review your Profit and Loss you can believe it and you can be confident when you are submitting your […]

You are considering getting financial projections prepared but worried about how much this might cost. You have probably heard a lot of numbers bandied about.  I have heard of business paying up to €5,000 for a set of projections.  Some of those numbers can be quite scary.  Yet, you realise that there are a lot […]

Are you claiming all of your allowable expenses when doing your taxes? Most people know about the PAYE tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.  They also know about Pension allowances and Medical Expenses. Not as many know about what the Revenue call Flat Rate Expense Allowances. Flat Rate Expenses Flat-rate expenses are those […]

I understand.  You are running a business and it’s hard to make money.  Then your accountant comes along and presents you with a high fee, anything from € 600 to possibly €1,500 or more per day for his or her work.  You struggle to understand why accountants are so expensive. I have been running an […]

Do you understand financial statements and how they relate to each other? Over the years, I have developed and delivered workshops on Finance for non-financial managers.  As part of those, I developed some simple scenarios to explain the key points. This series of videos uses those scenarios to explain what each of the three main […]

One thing I am often asked about is how to calculate your breakeven point. Video on how to calculate breakeven (6 min) Other relevant articles If this topic is relevant for you, you may  also be interested in the following blog posts. The nuts and bolts of accounting How to prepare financial projections How much […]

Review of Xero – the cloud accounting software If you run a business, the likelihood is that you will have heard of Xero, the online accounting system.  It seems to be everywhere these days. That is why I found it important to make a review of Xero. Are you wondering if this is something that […]

AIB Online Banking v BoI Online Banking Do you use internet banking in your business?   Maybe you’re a bit frustrated with the online banking product that you are currently using and you are trying to decide if you should switch.  You might just be frustrated with your bank for other reasons and want to know […]

Reducing the cost of preparing your Annual Accounts Are you conscious of your business costs and do you want to reduce the cost of getting your annual accounts and tax done?  It’s a common issue and one I will address in this article. As you may know, I am a qualified accountant with many years […]

What do Venture Capital Companies look for in a business plan? Are you a start-up business, looking to bring in some Venture Capital Investment? You know you need to have a business plan but you are not sure what to include in this business plan. I have been supporting SMEs for almost 20 years now […]

Are you worried about changing accountants? Are you dissatisfied with your existing accountant but worried about changing accountants? This could be because you are fearful that it would be a lot more hassle than it’s worth? From time to time, I get asked by prospective clients how difficult is it to change accountants.  Some accountants […]

The best approach to implementing improvement projects What’s the best way of implementing improvement projects?  This is one of the most common questions that I come across when working with clients. Let me start by stating that I have over thirty years of experience working on improvement projects. Through this period I have seen a […]

How to choose accounting software Are you looking for new accounting software?  Do you need help in making that decision on how to choose accounting software? You could be a start-up or you could be a mature business that has realised the existing accounting software isn’t doing what you need it to do. Many businesses […]

Cost of a Part-time or Virtual Financial Controller Are you running your own business and struggling with the finances?  You would love to have your own financial controller but you can’t afford a full time one. You have heard someone mention part-time financial controllers and that sounds interesting.  But you are still wondering how much […]

Every business needs to have a good understanding of its product costing.  If it doesn’t it could end up quoting or pricing incorrectly.   You could have a situation where losses on one product are wiping out profits on another product. So how do you improve your understanding of product costing? Components of Product Costing There […]

motivation image

One of the questions that comes up often is from someone who is having trouble getting a business loan.  They are frustrated and want to know what they need to do to get that loan loan. To answer this to have to first put yourself in the shoes of the bank manager. Understand how the […]

Allowable Motor Expense Rates (2017) Revenue amended the rates for claiming motoring expenses with effect from April 1, 2017. Given that most businesses use these rates as the basis for Revenue-approved motor expense claims for businesses, you should be aware of the changes. The key changes are: They have increased the number of distance bands […]

Which type of returns should you make? To answer it, the first thing we have to do is to identify the form of your business.  Are you a sole trader, a partnership or a limited company? This table summarises the key reporting areas. Sole Trader Partnership Company Income Tax Yes Yes n/a Corporation Tax n/a […]

Xero Certified Advisor

What is Xero? Xero is a cloud accounting application that provides similar functionality as most of the standard accounting packages such as Sage 50 or QuickBooks. Being a cloud service, the data resides in the cloud and the application is accessed via a web brower.   Xero is  an example of software that are classed as […]

One of the most common problems for self-employed people is achieving or maintaining a good work/life balance. I recently had a client who was finding that he was overwhelmed by the amount of work that had to be done and was seriously considering pulling back from the business because of work life balance issues.  So, […]

Feedback I get regularly from the clients is that they don’t know where to start with the financial projections. So in this article I want to give you a framework and an overview of how I go about doing projections. My approach is something that has built up over time.  To help myself remember the […]

Do you know much it costs you to open your doors in the morning? Thats the easiest way to predict your business costs. There is a friend of mine, a retired banker who describes business owners in control of their business as ‘they know exactly how much it costs them to open their doors in […]

As I said in my last blog post, one of the most common areas where my business clients want advice is around decision-making – knowing which of the options they’re faced with will be most beneficial for their business. Whether you’re a brand new start-up business, or an established family business, it’s vital to make […]

In one of my recent blog posts, I mentioned the need for a business to create an annual budget. One of my readers contacted me, saying “I don’t really know why I’d need a budget if I’m already doing the basic bookkeeping”. So, in this post, I’m going to set out why I think budgets […]

What should a business owner do to make sure he or she has the best possible information at his/her fingertips? We’ve already discussed how to identify the key transactions of the business and also how to record the information that’s important to your business and pull it into insightful reports. Now let’s look at how […]

Understanding the nuts and bolts of your accounting really does give you an advantage as a business owner. As we outlined in our last blog post, breaking down your transactions into inputs and outputs (and thinking like a process-driven engineer) is the first step in getting in proper control of your accounts and finances. The […]

Understanding the nuts and bolts of accounting: an engineering perspective I was a latecomer to accounting. I first completed a degree in engineering and only moved to accounting after that.  Almost everyone who heard what I was doing told me how difficult I would find it and that I would struggle to get to grips […]

I’ve had several new business owners come to me over the years saying, “We’re a small start-up, but nobody tells us what we really need to know about accounts”. If this is the situation in which you find yourself, you’ve probably gone into business because you had a great idea or a valuable skill to […]

One issue that often comes up with new clients is the frustration they feel when the accounting results turn out to be significantly different from what they expected.  They may have had a very busy period, worked hard, and expected to show good results. However, when the accounts are finalized they are disappointed because the […]

As a business advisor, I get to see a lot of different businesses and their finance functions. At one end of the spectrum, the finance function just does the basics i.e processing invoices, managing cash and preparing the core reports. At the other end of the spectrum, the finance function is a key strategic partner […]

This months Blog Post comes from Mindshop Colleagues Mark Buckland and Wayne Lockhart In his highly acclaimed book ‘Good to Great’ Jim Collins suggests that employing, leading and managing engaged staff is like taking a bus trip. In doing so he outlined two philosophies related to how business owners get the best out of their […]

I was talking recently with a friend who commented that he doesn’t feel that he is achieving enough. He sat down at the start of the year and made a to-do list of all the things he wanted to get done. This list included ideas for 2 new products and improving his skills. He is […]

This blog post comes from Mindshop colleague, Fergal Coleman. Now based in Australia, Fergal has strong Galway connections. His family came from Galway, he worked for CK Electronics for a couple of years and he played for Galway United for a period. Fergal has a IT and Strategy consultancy in Melbourne Symphony3. “What is Social […]

On a number of occasions over the past few weeks, I have had discussions with friends and clients about how they use their smartphones to increase productivity. I am getting great use out of mine and would be lost without it. However, others are barely using the capabilities of their phone. So here are some […]

In the poem Advent by Patrick Kavanagh, he mentions “the newness that was in every stale thing when we looked at it as children”. When you look at your business, do you see that newness, or have you stopped to notice the stale things? Have you become so used to looking at what’s there, that […]

Today we have a guest post from Chris Mason, Founder – Mindshop. Mindshop has a unique way of conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. The starting point of this process is to identify your strengths and opportunities. You then ask the key question, “How can I use these strengths to commercialize these […]

Many people go on courses and learn some very powerful techniques but don’t go on to apply the techniques. Some of these people are serial course/workshop attenders. They have all the knowledge. They can tell you how to solve your problems but they don’t seem to be able to apply it to themselves. This phenomenon […]

Often, I meet with clients who are struggling to make decisions. In a situation like that, I guide them through what I call the Decision Matrix. Firstly I get them to identify the alternatives. Then, I get them to identify the key factors relevant to the decision. Then, for each alternative, I have them rate […]

Today’s guest blog post comes from Mindshop colleague, Mark Ellsworth ( Have you ever wondered why some companies seem to thrive despite economic uncertainty, while many of their competitors seem to struggle for survival? Is it that one company’s products are so much superior to that of another? Possibly, but not likely. Is it that […]

While attending a recent induction session for the SCCUL Mentors Programme, I became aware of a 2010 report by Forfás on Management Development in Ireland. You can find it here. The Report quotes findings from a McKinsey review of management practices across 14 countries which found that Management Practice in the high value manufacturing sector […]

This blog update comes from Mindshop Colleague, Paul Hopwood. You can check their website out here. Paul is a longtime Mindshop Member and is one of the Support Coaches for Mindshop members. Very often, the biggest constraint for business owners is their time. Those who make time to think strategically tend to punch above their […]

Affinity Diagrams are a tool used to organise information by identifying some commonality. In improvement projects, they can be used to organise a large number of issues or ideas into logical groupings. Affinity Diagrams are usually created by recording ideas onto post-it notes and then physically moving or organising the notes so that they are […]

Today we have a guest post from John Donagher of BSM. A few years ago, I did some work with BSM on developing the client requirements for RFPs for ERP systems. I worked with John then and he is very knowledgeable about ERP and implementing ERP. John recently posted this on his own Blog. Most […]

Today’s blog update comes from Mindshop founder, Chris Mason. “In today’s ever increasingly competitive global market the question on how to compete on price always comes up. People believe that the only way to compete is to be the lowest price supplier of their goods or services. Unit price is only one factor in deciding […]

There is a lot of good information available from my colleagues in Mindshop that will be very helpful to readers of this blog. From time to time, I plan on sharing some of the best thinking with you. Today’s blog post was written by David Duffy of PrincipleFocus in Australia ( Here’s David’s article. “Most […]

AccountsPLUS are pleased to have been approved by Enterprise Ireland for Inclusion on their Lean Consultants Directory. The Lean Consultants Directory as been put in place to support Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Business Offer, details below. Lean Business Offer Enterprise Ireland has developed a Lean Business Offer which is designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean […]

It’s been far too long since I posted here. However, I came across an interesting article lately that I should deserves a wider audience. The story refers to an article in Psychology Today which makes the case that the more arts a person masters, the more likely they are to become an innovator or creator. […]