Using your accounts to manage your business

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 you use, your accounts. I’m Jim Cahill of AccountsPLUS. I provide CFO/FD services to Engineering […]

Who AccountsPLUS are NOT a good fit for

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 […]

Most Common Problems with Product Costs

I find that one of the most common problems with clients is that they are not confident in the product costs for their products or services. If the products costs are wrong then their product prices may be incorrect.  They could be too expensive,  losing them business, or possibly they could be losing profits by […]

What does a part-time Financial Controller do?

Thinking about a Part-time Financial Controller? Have you ever thought about using a part-time Financial Controller?  Would you benefit from having access to additional financial management skills? 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. Their annual accountant comes […]

What is a VIES Return?

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

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 the effects of Brexit on their businesses. There are a number of areas that cause concern but two in particular are common for the companies I have been talking to. Firstly, Sterling has weakened significantly […]

What KPIs should I use?

A question that I regularly get asked by business owners 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 […]

Assess your Financial Management Capability

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

Are your financial results different from what you expected?

Have you ever been presented with a set of accounts where your results not what you expected?  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.  Instead, you have a poor profit or even worse, a loss. If […]

Form of Business – Sole Trader v Limited Company

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 […]

Common Problems when working with accountants

If you are a business owner, you probably have an accountant. The relationship you have with your accountant is very important.  Your accountant prepares and helps you to interpret the accounts for your business and ensures that you  comply with various regulations re reporting and taxation. If this relationship is not providing you with the […]

Review of Collsoft Payroll 2018

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, € […]

Review of Sage 50 Accounts

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 […]

How much does it cost to prepare financial projections

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 […]

Tax Allowable Deductions

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 […]

Why are accountants so expensive?

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

Understanding Financial Statements

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 […]

How to calculate your breakeven point

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

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. Are you wondering if this is something that you should be using?  Maybe you are frustrated by your current accounting system […]

AIB Online Banking v BoI Online Banking

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

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 […]

Choosing accountants

Comparison of the different types of accountants

Comparison of the different types of accountants 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 […]

What do Venture Capital Companies look for in a business plan?

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 […]

What do you need to know about Value Added Tax (VAT)?

What do you need to know about Value Added Tax (VAT)? Are you one of those people who doesn’t feel totally confident about VAT? I have been qualified as an accountant for over 30 years now and my work experience includes working at Finance Director level in large multinational manufacturing plants as well as helping […]

How difficult is changing accountants?

Are you worried about changing accountant? Maybe you are dissatisfied with your existing accountant but worried about changing, 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 accountant.  Some accountants like their clients to think it’s […]

Best approach to implementing improvements

Best approach to implementing improvements What’s the best way of improving something in your business?  This is one of the most common questions that we come across when working with clients. With over thirty years of experience working on improvement projects, I have seen a lot of different approaches but there are a few common […]

How to choose accounting software

How to choose accounting software Are you looking for new accounting software?  Do you need help in making that decision? You could be a start-up or you could be a mature business who realises that your existing accounting software isn’t doing what you need it to do. Many businesses get recommendations from their accountant.  In […]

Cost of Part-time or Virtual Financial Controller

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 […]

Not confident about Product Costing or Pricing?

Every business needs to have a good understanding of its product costs.  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 costs? The first thing to understand […]

What do I have to do to get a business loan?

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)

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 […]

What tax/accounting returns do I need to make for my business?

This is a common question? 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 n/a Yes […]

Xero Certified Advisor

Is Xero right for your business?

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 […]

Struggling with your work-life balance?

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, […]

How to prepare financial projections

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? Predicting Business Costs.

A friend of mine, a retired banker with lots of experience dealing with owner managers, has a phrase he uses about those business owners that he feels are in control of their business.  What he says is that ‘they know exactly how much it costs them to open their doors in the morning.’  Are you […]

Decision-making and the importance of understanding cash flow

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 […]

Why a good budget is vital for every business owner

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 […]

Putting your accounting knowledge into practice: an engineering perspective

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 […]

Turning your financial transactions into insightful information: an engineering perspective

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

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 […]

You’re a start-up: what are the key things you need to know about accounting?

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 […]

How to avoid accounting surprises

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 and, yet, when the accounts are finalised they are disappointed because […]

Six elements that make an excellent finance function

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 […]

Seven Drivers of Highly Engaged Staff

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 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 people […]

Getting on top of your to-do’s

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 list of all the things he wanted to get done. This list included ideas for 2 new products and improving his skills. He is half […]

10 Tips to get the most from Social Media in your business

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 www.symphony3.com. Over to […]

Improving Productivity with Smartphone Apps

On a number of occasions over the past few weeks, I have had discussions with friends and clients about how they use their smartphones. 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 of the features […]

What would you change if you looked at your business through the eyes of your customer

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 we look at our business, do we see that newness or have we stopped to notice the stale things. Have we become so used to looking at what’s there, that we […]

PDCA or PDSA – What’s the difference?

I have been thinking recently about PDCA and PDSA. When I first encountered Business Improvement Theory I learned about the Deming or Shewhart Cycle – usually referred to as PDCA. This is short for Plan-Do-Check-Act. As I understand it, Shewhart first came up with the concept but Deming popularised it. The theory behind it says […]

Using your Strengths to Leverage your Opportunities

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 […]

How to overcome the Knowing-Doing Gap

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 […]

A tool for helping to make decisions

Often, I meet with clients who are struggling to make a decision. 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 […]

Why is change so hard?

Today’s guest blog post comes from Mindshop colleague, Mark Ellsworth (http://www.cainellsworth.com/gps/). 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 […]

Why you should invest in Management Development

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. https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Forf%C3%A1s/Management-Development-in-Ireland.pdf 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 is above average . […]

Finding time for Strategic Thinking

This blog update comes from Mindshop Colleague, Paul Hopwood. (http://www.paulhopwoodconsulting.co.uk) 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 weight. We know this intuitively, but […]

Tools for organising ideas

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 […]

ERP: Developing Cross-Functional Buy-In

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 […]

Unit Price v Total Cost

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 […]

Making Time for what’s important

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 (www.principlefocus.com.au). Here’s David’s article. “Most […]

AccountsPLUS now on Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Consultants Directory

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 […]

Arts and Innovation

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. […]

Motivation

I recently attended a workshop on Lean Business, organised by Enterprise Ireland. There were some very good presentations there where companies showed the gains they had made by implementing lean practices. In the course of one presentation, the presenter was asked about bonus or rewards schemes. He answered by saying that he was not in […]

Can Accounting really be fun?

I know most of you think that’s a strange question but Dennis Howlett, who blogs regularly on accounting topics, on www.accmanpro.com recently posted an article headed “Accounting is Fun.” I have posted extracts from his article below. The full article can be found here http://accmanpro.com/2011/06/17/accounting-is-fun/Accounting is fun. Since I have started using online accounting, I […]