Steven Mugglestone

The more I learn, the less I know

Posts Tagged ‘Linkedin

Our Lessons from Social Media and Sharing those with Our Clients:

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Our Lessons from Social Media and Sharing those with Our Clients

We are all growing up with social media and we as a business are no exception.  We have already thrown away “the mould” of a traditional accountant.  Some of our partners left the large practices and the “corporate” decision making, others left the traditional smaller practices with the traditional ways of doing things.  Some, like me, spent time within business and “got my hands dirty” with the ups and downs that brings.  The one lesson, that I learnt from the years spent within the business world, rather than attempting to advise it, is that accountants are a business and many challenges and solutions to our business are the same as many others.  We can learn lessons and share lessons with our clients about how we can take advantage of changes to the world we operate in.  We embrace social media, but we are all learning things as we go as well.

This year is predicted to be a smash-hit year for social websites. Facebook is predicted to be the biggest flotation of all time. LinkedIn has expanded through Asia. Twitter use has tripled users in Russia.  Social media spending was about 10-12% of total advertising budgets in 2011

Social media is here to stay and has rapidly become an integral part of all business marketing.  It cannot and should not be ignored.

Here are some of the lessons, we all need to consider to help us with an area that cannot be ignored:

Do you look and Listen

We are certainly in out infancy in respect of our responses, but we are looking and learning and developing our own strategies and systems.   Some of the developments below, we are taking very seriously as all businesses should:

  • Many big companies have appointed a Chief Listening Officer to both monitor and report what is being said about the business and where articles, adverts and discussions are being re-tweeted and/or listed.
  • Airline, KLM answers every customer Twitter message personally, within one hour, 24/7, in Dutch or English.
  • Some retail businesses are even deploying the whole senior shop staff with BlackBerrys to respond instantly, night or day, to any customer query anywhere, via Twitter.

Dell, famously has a Social Media Command Centre, as if like NASA.  The social media activities of Dell on Twitter alone allegedly have a greater reach than the combined circulation of the top 12 daily newspapers in the United States.   Michael Dell is quoted as saying, “It represents the next broad step in our efforts to stay connected to our customers around the globe.”

Social Media Campaigns are a never-ending cycle and are not just seasonal

Some leisure and hospitality businesses plan 13 week campaigns, every Monday arranging something 13 weeks away.  Professional sectors have worked on budget and government tax changes or planned seminars for legislation changes.  Manufacturers launch new products for a new year, the fashion industry work to seasonal designs and ranges.  Traditionally, these have been all seasonal strategies, following a plan, launch, wait, sell campaign cycle.  Social media is not like that at all, you can carry out similar campaigns, but social media demands that you are commanding attention 24/7 and 365, or for 2012, 366 days a year.

You get thousands or even millions of people to follow your fan page or Twitter page – and if you ever stop engaging with them or showing them new fun stuff, they’ll take offence. “It’s like inviting people to a party, and then leaving early,” is how one Facebook exec puts it.

Relentless search for good content

Good content is subjective – but you know it when you see it, because it just works, in the classic showbiz sense.  Perhaps we all need to have a bit of showbiz in us to ensure that the content is engaging.

Forbes Magazine has predicted that 2012 will be the year of content.  It is clear that the world is changing here, with the decline of newspaper/magazine circulation and advertising revenues, PR and advertising agencies are rapidly becoming content producers.  In the world of accountants, however, I would like to see more “stuff” written by those with real experiences of business and the issues faced, rather than relying on agency “tone of voice” style and pre-prepared releases and articles.

We are all now in it together, whether you are running a restaurant or a haulage company, or an accountancy practice, there is an important message that needs to be going on across all the iterations of your company online, and it need to all mesh.  Web agencies report global companies consolidating their web offers into single websites with single messages so as to wipe out content differences across sites.

We need to learn how to use the social bit

As everyone knows, you get a personalised experience from Amazon, suggesting things that you might like to buy.  Facebook and Linkedin, recommend friends and connections to connect with, which sometimes appears like witchcraft.  All of these sites can recommend books and music for you, not only utilising your past purchase history, but your connections recommendations as well.  Can the same be done with any company’s website?

An executive from Trip-Advisor was being interviewed by Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 the other week.  He discussed the real advantages of restaurants and hotels that engage with their customer reviews compared to the ones who do not. Friendly commentary from the management on critical client appraisals, done within the hour, makes all the difference. It shows that you care.

Perhaps your employment contracts need to embrace social media as well

Recent, headlines have reported Phone-Dog suing ex-employee Noah Kravitz for keeping the 17,000 Twitter followers he amassed while at the company.   The company argues the followers are actually worth specifically $2.50 each. The ex-employee argues he did all the legwork and actually gained them. The fact of the case existing at all suggests agreement all round that networking online means sales opportunities and value.  Does your business have a policy to deal with the ownership and rights to those who have Twitter accounts in your business name or using your business branding?

The evolution of the smart phone

People are just not talking on the phone as much any-more. The Economist reported that in 2002 the average Japanese mobile user spoke 181 minutes each month. By early 2009, it was down to 133 minutes.  The difference has been attributed to social media.

Another statistic in the UK is that half of all mobile phone users now have smart phones.  I also read recently that only 25% of smart phones have smart users.

Joking apart, perhaps we all need to continue on our learning curve.

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA,
Finance Director Services

McGregors Corporate, Entrepreneurial Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers
…….Really good for your business

McGregors Corporate are a Member of Probiz Tax, providing Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

T: 0845 519 5659                T: 0121 236 3317
steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

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Written by Steven Mugglestone

January 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm

New and established businesses seeking funding being recruited for the Spring/Summer MIN Investor Event

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New and established businesses seeking funding being recruited for the Spring/Summer MIN Investor Event

Following the success of the launch event in January and the interest and further negotiations taking place for the initial group of businesses presenting, we are now organising a second event for late spring (date to be announced).

Businesses looking for funding and wishing to have the opportunity to present to a group of potential investors should start to contact us now for an initial review and discussion.

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

T: 0845 519 5659
T: 0121 236 3317

Midlands Investor Network Launch with a Song and Dance
http://wp.me/pQyUg-2S

Events are being organised in the West and East Midlands

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA, McGregors Corporate, More than just Accountants!

McGregors Corporate are a Member Of Probiz Tax.  We provide Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.  We are relentless in helping businesses.

We like to keep things simple, for ourselves and our clients;
We build our business by reducing our clients’ business and taxation costs;
We build our business by increasing our clients sales;
We build our business by helping our clients succeed in their business;
It is that simple and we meet you to discuss all these things for free;

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/contact-us.html
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

Written by Steven Mugglestone

February 9, 2011 at 11:28 am

How an FD drives a business when sometimes Accountants are just catching up

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How an FD drives a business when sometimes Accountants are just catching up?

Recent debates and criticism from Finance Directors say that Accountants generally do not have the commercial skills required to truly help, support and drive a business.  What does that mean; when a significant number of FDs go on to be chief executives, could you see your Accountant doing the same.  What are the skills and experience that an FD possesses, that an Accountant does not and how can those skills and experience help all businesses.

Most FDs work within a structure of their role covering how a business operates and where it is going and this can be looked at within three distinct areas, support, operational and strategic.

Support Areas

This covers some of the traditional areas that you would expect an Accountant to be responsible for, but an FD may have a differing approach to improve and support the business.

Compliance reporting is one of those areas and whilst this ensures that a company is up to date and complies with its statutory requirements to file its accounts and tax returns, an FD will also ensure that the messages within those financial statements are firmly within the company’s strategic vision and missions and that those financial statements reinforce publicly where the business is heading.

An FD will also be responsible for tax planning and overall dealings with HMRC, on an annual basis.  Whist an FD may not be a tax expert, they will ensure that tax costs are mitigated and planned for and sensible structures are in place to ensure that all relevant reliefs and tax breaks are made available to help the business, and individuals involved in the business to manage its tax costs.  As part of this, an FD will assess the risks involved to ensure that overall risks are managed in line with the strategic plan of the business.

As part of a support role, an FD usually gets responsibility for the areas that the other directors do not wish to touch.  These are usually HR, IT and insurance (part of risk control and mitigation).  Whilst larger organisations may well have separate staff and departments (usually reporting back to the FD), in a smaller organisation and business an FD is likely to outsource these and other similar areas.  Outsourcing allows an FD to ensure that the relevant risks involved in these areas are controlled and mitigated and that costs are also controlled.  However, despite being an Accountant by training, costs are not the only reason why outsourcing is considered as the risk profile and support afforded by the outsourced provided may well be more beneficial than trying to carry this out in house.

Again an area that other directors or the owner of the business may have little interest or desire to be responsible, albeit an area key to the success of a business is dealing with legal documents and agreements.  Whilst an FD is not a lawyer, they do understand what reasonable terms and conditions would include and what clauses should be in an agreement and what should be avoided or mitigated.  An FD will liaise closely with the businesses legal advisers (outsourced) to ensure that commercial matters are reviewed and considered in all of the legal agreements that the business adopts.


Operational Areas

Again this would appear to be a traditional area that an Accountant would operate within to help support a business, but an FD will have a different emphasis to ensure that the operational areas truly help to improve a business.

An Auditor and Accountant will carry out tests and comment on procedures and reporting known as internal control.  An FD sees this area as controlled delegation, the difference being that the appropriate structures and controls are put in place to allow senior members of the business to concentrate and be allowed to carry out roles that they are good at and that are crucial to the improvement of the business.  As an example, if the key director is also a key sales person, they should not be spending their time writing brochures, catalogues or processing orders, but they need to be comfortable that those areas can be carried out to the appropriate standard without them.

A real traditional area is reporting, but an FD will always ensure that the reporting format and what is reported is not about dwelling on the past but ensuring that appropriate areas are planned for and controlled.  The term key performance indicators tend to be over used but an FD will always look to simplify the reporting to concentrate on key areas that really matter and these may not always be financial.  An FD will use budgeting as a control tool for reporting, but will also use benchmarking against best performance within the business and external to the business.  This is not done to dwell on the facts that the business is performing better or worse than others in a particular area, but to understand the reasons and address accordingly.  Sometimes you find that your competitors carry out some things better than you and if you can address these areas you can make a difference to the bottom line.

The use of benchmarking, budgeting and using key performance indicators by an FD will lead to identifying profit improvement, ensuring that operational reporting is used to enhance the earnings of a business.  An FD will usually be responsible for negotiating and agreeing many of the businesses supply and service contracts.  This will mean that they will look to consider all relevant factors, model usage accordingly and ensure that competitive tenders can provide what the business needs.

Profit is one thing, but cash is king.  Businesses do not go bust because of profits, but because they run out of cash.  An FD will always be responsible for working capital and cash management.  The maths in this area is relatively simple in that with high stocks, work in progress and debtors with low creditors comes a strain on cash.  An FD will control this area on a rolling weekly basis and on some occasions and with some businesses this will be done on a daily basis, to free up cash for use in the business.

Strategic Areas

This is an area that perhaps a traditional Accountant does not readily engage with or is involved in.  An FD will have knowledge and experience of an overall strategic plan which covers customer and marketing strategies, systems and processes and people development, but whilst overlapping, an FD will concentrate on the financial areas that underpin a strategic plan.

But what is strategic activity and how can it be defined.  An FD will lead defining strategic investment and activity.  This will mean assessing where a business is going to channel its resources to improve;  an FD will ensure that investments in both capital and human resource, marketing or other activities together with other related improvements and new areas that they are undertaking have a reason and a goal and that these are appropriately considered taking account of strengths and opportunities.  The costs and impact on the business can be measured and the future impact forecasted.  An FD is ideally placed and qualified to ensure that strategic activities are appropriately considered, planned, assessed and monitored and along the way they can add to the creative and entrepreneurial flair gained from the experience in this area.

An FD would not be an FD without considering risk.  All project management and strategic plans will contain a risk register.  Full consideration of both financial and commercial risks involved in all activities are considered and recorded and appropriate mitigation and insurance will be put in place.

All businesses should consider a time plan and an FD will ensure that an appropriate implementation timetable is considered and worked to.  This may be in respect of a specific area or the overall plan for the business leading to eventual exit by sale, or perhaps listing on a recognised market.

Underpinning a strategic plan is an appropriate funding structure.  The businesses own cash generation may not be appropriate to fund longer term investments and in return some higher risk areas may not attract bank or similar funding.  An FD will ensure that funding is appropriate for both the timescale and risks related to the business’ activities and strategic plan.  An obvious key area underpinning funding for a business is the relationship with current and potential future funders.  An FD is key to this relationship, whether banking, private equity or institutional as they understand what information is required and help to ensure that funders are comfortable with the current position of the business and its future aims, goals and requirements.

In summary an FD is not just an Accountant and some of the areas above highlight what FDs mean when they say that Accountants do not have the commercial skills and experience required to add real value to a business.  Some of their roles, including controlling delegation and support areas ensure that other members of the senior management team or the business owner are allowed to concentrate on other areas to enhance the business.  Other roles and functions such as reporting, profit improvement and cash management ensure that that the business can continue to improve cash generation which leads to cash being made available to support the strategic goals of the business.

Given all of this that an FD can offer a business, the only remaining question is why would you just use an Accountant when you can have an FD.

To find out how we can help all SME businesses with this real pro-active support, experience and background or to help you source a part time FD for your business, feel free to contact me at steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk or call me on 0121 236 3317.

Steven Mugglestone BA FCA,
McGregors Corporate, Entrepreneurial Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers
…….Really good for your business

McGregors Corporate are a Member of Probiz Tax, providing Innovative Tax Solutions to Owner Managed Businesses.

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/stevenmugglestonefca/
http://twitter.com/McGsCorporate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhC0wlglePE
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/contact-us.html
http://www.mcgregorscorporate.co.uk/

T: 0845 519 5659
T: 0121 236 3317

steven@mcgregorsbirmingham.co.uk

Connect, call, talk, email, contact us, send a messenger pigeon and arrange a discussion, review and free meeting.

McGregors Strategy Launch

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On 4th March 2010 McGregors launched their new strategic plan to staff across all their Midlands offices at Risley Hall in Derbyshire.
We asked the ex Strategy Director for Reebok Europe, Richard Percival, to lead the event in which the company was also introduced to McGregors’ new branding and the new website.
The strategy focus presentation outlined how the business aims to grow over the coming years and consolidate the business as a leading adviser to SME/owner managed businesses throughout the Midlands. The plan covered customer and brand, products and services, administration support and people development and processes.
Unusually for accountants, it did not dwell on numbers.
Director Steven Mugglestone commented: “We have been working to create and launch our strategic plan, which takes on the development of the practice across all areas and involves all of our team across the offices. Our mission statement and how we are building our business is underpinned by a positive message and attitude to working with our clients and our own team. Accountants tend to dwell on numbers, but financial projections do not ensure that you can actually build and develop a business. Our belief is that what we are doing with the strategic plan addresses how we build on our success and help clients build on theirs.”

Written by Steven Mugglestone

March 10, 2010 at 11:50 am

Posted in Strategy

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