Wednesday, 29 April 2015

How To Have A Social Media Presence Without Being Present?

Running a social media strategy as well as being a business owner will only lead to stress and sleepless nights.  But everyone is on social media, right? Even the Pope.
You need to strike the balance between informative and annoying. Studies show the optimal postings for the two most popular networking sites are:

Twitter: 3 posts, daily
Facebook: 5 posts, weekly

Doesn’t require a lot of effort, does it? But finding free time is any business owner’s challenge, so you need a method of having active accounts, without it taking hours and feeling like a chore. 
Welcome to scheduling. It’s a strange thought that people can tweet without actually being behind the screen at the time, but it’s a time-saving approach to social media marketing.

Having a consistent online presence is a necessary part of marketing, but you don’t want to be doing it every day.
So which schedule tool should you use?

1. Tweetdeck
For Tweetdeck newbies, this is your new best friend when it comes to developing your Twitter presence.

You don’t have to create an account; just sign in with your Twitter logins and you’re off - no email confirmation required. And it’s free! Music to everyone’s ears.

You can plan posts into the far future. Ideal for those who have a lot to say. A huge pro is that Tweetdeck’s layout looks similar to Twitter (probably because Twitter bought it in 2011).

At any time, you can log back in and amend scheduled tweets or delete them. This is a great idea if something you have scheduled is no longer accurate or relevant. You can keep track of when your posts are, too, if you log in often.

2. Sign in using your Twitter login details
3. Click ‘New Tweet’
- Select your account
- Type your tweet you want scheduling
- Click ‘Schedule Tweet’
- Select the relevant date and time
- Once you’ve proofread, click ‘Tweet at…’-

- Don’t be confused by all the columns. The beauty of Tweetdeck is that you can see your direct messages, timeline, notifications and messages all on one screen. Delete all the columns apart from ‘Scheduled’ to tidy up your dashboard.
- Scroll to the right of the page, so you can just focus on the Scheduled column. Here you will see all the tweets you have planned for the future.
- If you have multiple accounts, you can add them all. You can even post the same content across all accounts easily, by selecting all the accounts.
- Don’t forget to add an image with your text, too. Just select the ‘Add Image’ option, before submitting the tweet.
- Once you become an expert, utilise all the columns by monitoring what your followers are retweeting and your notifications.


Even avid social media users don’t know you can use Facebook to schedule posts and many are paying for services that do no different.
Using Facebook to schedule is free and you can prepare a post using the same process as posting normally. You can only automate on a page, not a personal account. Again, you can see your scheduled posts and amend or delete them at any time.

1. Sign into your Facebook page.
2. Type the post you want scheduling. Do not click ‘Post’.
3. Click on the clock symbol.
4. Select the date from the calendar and choose the time you want the post scheduling.
5. Click on ‘Schedule’ once you’re happy with your post.

- With a 63,000 character limit, utilise this space with detailed posts.
- You can schedule up to 6 months ahead, so plan time-relevant posts, such as Christmas.
- Be consistent with your postings. Aim for at least 5 a week.
- Avoid newsworthy content, because for the date you’ve scheduled it, it will no longer be news.
- Select your times wisely. People are more likely to see your post at 7am, when they are waking up, than 9pm on a Friday night. Target locations will also play a part. 

It’s tempting to rush scheduling, but your followers will notice if you’ve just posted anything. Interesting posts about the industry, links to your service and entertaining posts will vary your content and make your account interesting.

Be wary of posting at the same time and day across your accounts, because you want to mix it up a bit.
Scheduling makes life easier, but don’t neglect your accounts. Regularly checking notifications and interacting with your followers will further improve your social media marketing.

We're on Social Media too :)

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Here’s The Key To Success In Business & In Life!

One of the business philosophies I’ve adopted for a number of years is that to be ultra-successful, your business must be SYSTEMISED. Even before I read Michael Gerber’s brilliant ‘E-Myth Revisited’ (if you haven’t read it, you need to—it is required reading) I realised the importance of systemisation and what it can do for a business.
As Gerber rightly states, even if you are NOT going to franchise your business, you should set it up as if it’s a franchise. In other words, create a business model that can be easily replicated.
There are many, many reasons why you would want to create a system for everything you do in your business; for example…
  • It helps to create a ‘perfect’ business and significantly reduces mistakes (note I said ‘reduces’ - nothing can be totally perfect when people are involved)
  • Because, figuratively speaking, you have a ‘peg in the ground’ for every aspect of your business, meaning you can quickly improve each part of the overall system thereby creating an ever-evolving business
  • It makes the recruiting, training (new staff can be ‘up to speed’ very quickly) and development of staff far easier
  • It helps create a world-class business (without systems this is virtually impossible)
  • It reduces the reliance on ‘staff’ and having to recruit and rely on ‘brilliant people’
  • The system drives the business—not the people
  • It helps you shape the business the way YOU want it
  • Frees up your time, enabling you to work on your business, not in it!
  • When you come to exit (however that may be) you’ll sell it for a high-end multiple. A systemised business is worth considerably more than a non-systemised business
 These are just a few of the key benefits of systemising every aspect of your business. When you see these written down, it makes you wonder why more people don’t take the time to create a ‘business on autopilot’.
But it does take time and effort. However, you don’t have to do everything at once. Start with one aspect of your business, systemise it and then move on to the next part.
Plus, as long as your team are fully aware of what your standards are, then getting them to create the systems and procedures makes your task far easier, gives them buy-in and ownership and, believe it or not, makes their jobs more satisfying.
When they know they have a major part to play in the business, they are much more likely to play a bigger role in improving it (the ultimate benefit of systemising any business).
Better still, if you think about it, you have no way of knowing how to do everything in your business. Nor do you know how ‘best’ to do everything in your business. But guess who does? That’s right—your staff. As business owners, we often neglect staff in terms of asking them how to do things more efficiently and better.
The process I’m going to take you through automatically includes them in this ever-evolving process.
So how do you do it? How do you create a fully systems-based firm? There are 4 key stages you need to follow to systemise your firm…
STAGE #1: List all the high-level tasks in the business that need to get done (everything!)
This is the most important part. You won’t believe how comforting and liberating this is once you’ve carried out this first step.
Include absolutely everything required to run your business, right down to the bins being emptied!
Ideally, do it by department (sales and marketing, finance, customer service, IT, etc.).
Getting buy-in from staff, as I’ve already said, is critical to all of this, and getting them involved in creating their own systems and procedures is key to this.
STAGE #2: What does perfect ‘look like’?
This is important. For each high-level task, you need to write down what ‘perfect’ looks like. In other words, what is the optimal final result you’re seeking from each particular high-level task?
Again, this is how you, your department heads and staff keep control of the output and delivery of each task, and it’s very comforting!
Notice how this is very ‘team’-orientated.
STAGE #3: Break each task down into precise steps
Now take each  high  level  task  and break this down into individual steps. Again you’ll find this liberating.
This is the ‘nuts and bolts’. This is the step-by-step ‘system’ of doing each individual task. Use screen shots, diagrams, checklists, even video. The easier you make this—the better.
It’s this stage that takes the longest, and it does require serious thought without interruption.
You have to create the steps so a person who has never done the task before can do it the first time at the required high level of delivery you want. 
Let’s use a very simple example as illustration. The Task is ‘To Sharpen A Pencil’.
Now, clearly, this is not something you would need to break down like this (you do have to use your common sense) but it serves as a good example of the detail required to ensure ‘perfect’ output.
Here are the steps…
STEP #1: Take blunt pencil and insert into pencil sharpener (the sharpener is located in the top right-hand drawer of John Smith’s desk).
STEP #2: Turn the pencil clockwise whilst applying pressure on the pencil so the end of the pencil is pushed against the sharpener blade.
STEP #3: After 6 or 7 turns remove the pencil and check to see if it has been sharpened fully.
If not, repeat tasks 1 and 2 above until you’re happy with its sharpness.
STEP #4: Replace pencil sharpener back in top right-hand drawer of John Smith’s desk.
As long as you include each step in detail, then this will be easy to accomplish.
STAGE #4: Systemise then automate
Now look through each step and decide which steps can be automated and which steps need manual intervention.
That’s what it takes to create a systems-based business.
One thing you must do if you are involving staff (and, as I’ve said, you should) is to explain to them exactly ‘HOW’ you want them to create their systems and procedures (take them through these steps). Ideally, you should create a manual for HOW to create the systems and procedures
Then I suggest you meet with your staff every month for 15 minutes to check on their progress. You have to manage the process closely and carefully. Make sure they allocate time each week to focus on their systems, otherwise they won’t get done.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

4 Top Recruitment Tips to get the best for you!

Recruiting Is Never Easy!

A business is only as good as the people who work in it. When you are making a recruitment decision you are taking on responsibility for the cohesiveness of the staff and diversity in your workplace in addition to cherry-picking the kind of talent that can help to drive your business forward. Here are 4 top tips to get the best recruit for your company:

Rushing the Process

Making good choices about the people who will represent the company and drive it's future should not be rushed. Taking the time to contemplate the fit of a new hire can spare you a great deal of heartache and having to redo the whole process six months down the line road because of incompatibility. Having adequate software such as an applicant tracking system can help save you time by narrowing down individuals who meet the needs of the company. Your discerning eye can do the rest.

Choosing Talent Over Personality

It can be a big mistake to hire on the basis of talent alone. Some large global businesses like Google don’t pay too much attention to hiring graduates with MBAs or other heavyweight qualifications. They have come to realise that people that make it without college or University qualifications are often the most exceptional.  Of course, it's important to choose applicants that can meet the professional or creative requirements of the job, but their skill-set shouldn't be the only characteristic you vet them for.

An applicant’s personality also determines how well they'll work with others, how they problem-solve, and their likelihood to abandon the company should they be offered a bigger salary by a competitor. Aim for applicants that meet the talent quota but also deliver a personality that will work well with others.

Failing to Forecast

This hiring mistake can piggyback off the previously mentioned pitfall of rushing in: not anticipating company needs may cause you to make impulsive and hasty recruiting decisions. Understanding where the organisation currently is and where it's headed can add value to your recruitment selections. Before recruiting new members to your team, consider how applicants may meet existing needs but also their potential for fulfilling future needs. Otherwise, you could end up having to recruit double the staff over the long term.

Gut Feeling

Finally, learn to trust your gut feeling. If you have been in business for a long time, you will have a good idea of what your business needs in terms of its people. Let your instincts guide you - if a candidate feels right, then they probably are right.

 Post your thoughts and ideas as comments below.

APJ Accountancy | 020 89310165 | 07900537459 |

Friday, 10 April 2015

You Can Only FOOL Your Customers Once!

As you know, earlier in the month we had April Fool’s Day. Practical jokes are played out all over the world during the morning hours of April 1st.

That got me thinking… I wonder what some of the best-ever April Fool’s jokes to have been orchestrated, that fooled thousands of people, include. Here’s my top 3 (keep reading to the end, there is a business lesson here too)…

1. Edison’s food creator, 1878

American newspaper The Daily Graphic published, in 1878, news of a technological breakthrough: Thomas Edison had invented “the Food Creator... a machine that will feed the human race!” How, exactly, was unclear, but it would be able to manufacture meat, vegetables, wine and biscuits using only air, water and “common earth”. A final paragraph in the April article revealed that “the Food Creator” did not in fact exist; but not every reader got that far, and Thomas Edison received “a flood of letters from all parts of the country”, as he wrote to tell the Graphic’s editor. “Very ingenious,” he said.

2. Alaska’s volcano, 1974

In Sitka, Alaska, the volcano Mount Edgecumbe had been dormant for around 9,000 years when, one morning in 1974, residents noticed dark smoke spooling from its top. When a coastguard helicopter flew in to investigate, the pilot saw that 100 tyres had been doused in cooking fuel and set alight in the volcano’s crater.
Meanwhile, around the rim, someone  had  spray-painted April Fool”  in 50ft letters. It was the careful work of a local joker, Oliver Bickar, who’d been planning the prank for four years. ...and my favourite…

3. Left-handed burger, 1998

Burger King’s 1998 unveiling of a “left-handed Whopper” – a normal burger, with “the condiments rotated 180 degrees” – fooled thousands in the US and UK with left-handers going out of their way to order one, and righties making it clear they’d prefer the original version. That’s funny!

So what’s all this got to do with you and your business? Well, it concerns your customers and makes sure you OVER-deliver on your promises. Your customers won’t be fooled into buying from you a second time. You owe it to them and to your own business to under-promise and over-deliver. I know that’s a cliché, but it really is a truism in today’s highly competitive market and with highly demanding customers!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

4 Tips to Get More Out Of Your Networking!

While satisfied customers may be your best sales force, they are not the only sales force. There are lots of other people out there who can send business your way if you make the effort to network with them and make it worth their while.

The concept of networking and word-of-mouth marketing is a very hot topic in business today for one simple reason: lots of people are starting small businesses that need to find other businesses they can work with for mutual benefit.

Your networking time needs to be marketing time. This means putting yourself in front of customers or people who will send customers your way. With that in mind, 4 important tips to help you to get more out of your networking:

Competitors can be a networking opportunity

Just because you go head to head with other businesses does not mean that you can’t work together sometimes (for mutual gain). Airlines have an agreement whereby they book business for each other in return for a fee. You may find it useful to work out such an agreement with some of your competitors. On the other hand, you may have an informal agreement whereby you refer one of your competitors to customers for no fee in the hope that they might reciprocate.

Businesses that complement yours

If you put an accountant, a surveyor and a lawyer in the same room – you may have people who can refer clients to each other. When a customer buys from you, what other products and services is he/she likely to want or need? These businesses are the ones that you should consider networking with in order to build reciprocal referral links.

Prepare in advance

Before going to any networking function, make sure that you are prepared. Have business cards, prepare your elevator pitch and read through the attendee list before you go. Try to identify at least 3 people on the list that you want to network with. After the event, make sure to follow up with your new contacts.

Ask for referrals

That is why you are there. After describing your business to someone, ask, "who do you know who might need my services?" Take the time to describe your typical customer. Follow-up on leads as quickly as you can. Where possible, send business to your referrers. Reciprocity is the basis for all good relationships and it is especially true in business. When someone sends a customer to you, acknowledge it with at least a thank you. Keep in touch with your contacts and where possible, send them a referral.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Tax Diary of Main Events for the Months of April & May 2015!

Tax Diary of Main Events for the Months of April & May 2015!

What’s Due

1 April
Corporation tax for year to 30/6/14
6 April
2015/16 Tax year begins
19 April
Final RTI FPS due by this date. Indicate that this is Final Submission for the Tax Year but note that the end of employer questionnaire is not included this year
19 April
PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/4/15 (due 22 April  if you pay electronically)
1 May
Corporation tax for year to 31/7/14
19 May
PAYE & NIC deductions, and CIS return and tax, for month to 5/5/15 (due 22 May if you pay electronically)

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