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, […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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I recently attended a workshop on Lean Business, organised by Enterprise Ireland. There were numerous powerful motivation presentations that I really enjoyed. They shared some insightful results on research conducted on organization merit scheme. Moreso, there were some very good presentations in which companies showed the gains they had made by implementing lean practices. You […]

Are you slack about IT security? once was hacked and the passwords of the users may be compromised. If users use the same username and passwords on multiple sites, then the hackers may now have access to those other sites. Could they have access to online banking passwords? Possibly. A couple of months ago […]

Are your accounts giving you information that helps you manage your business? Most accounts don’t. You should make your accounts work for you. When I go into a new client, one of the first things I do is to review the existing accounts. I am looking to see if they could get more information – […]

Applying the TOTE principle to business. In personal development work, the TOTE principle is an iterative problem-solving strategy using feedback loops. This principle can be applied equally well to business. The First T is for Test. Test the environment and identify what needs to be improved. At this stage you also need to be clear […]