Telling the story

The aim of this part of the website is to illustrate financial issues through stories. A cross between a regular cartoon in words, and a blog, designed to entertain, as well as to keep you thinking about things financial.

The episodes come under three main headings - profit, cashflow and budgeting, and build on the things we look at in our training. As you read them, enjoy them, but also think about how they apply to your organisation.

Current Articles

There's a hole in my bucket! - (profit)

When we think about hitting our business's profit targets it's easy to focus on cost management.But we mustn't forget to remember our income.

The easy win in income management is to make sure we charge for everything we should be charging for, and don't let our income slip through the holes in our processes.

I'm not talking here about choosing to give away freebies, I'm looking at where our income inadvertently slips through our fingers.

Every business has holes in their income.I once agreed a daily rate with a client, and then charged them less because I failed to check the agreement before I invoiced them.And I'm often in danger of not invoicing my expenses in full, simply because I forget to check my pockets for receipts before charging my expenses!

Maybe we do work without realising its outside the scope of the agreed work.Or we do know it's outside the scope, but we don't like talking about additional costs.Or our team do this for us!

If asked, we often agree to a discount far too quickly, and give away a lot of the profit.Small discounts make big inroads into profitability.

One client always added a few extra items to large orders "in case any got damaged in transit".I can understand the thinking, but…

So in your business where are the holes in your bucket through which income leaks?How canyou help find and plug these holes?

What's your objective? - (budgeting, cashflow, profit)

My last few blogs have been about managing our costs at work.Today I'm looking at achieving our aims.

We all have targets or objectives, plans and processes to achieve them.This blog is one of my processes to build awareness of what I do, and achieve the sales & marketing targets essential to my business success.

We often look at how we can make our processes more efficient, but sometimes we need to ask whether we even have the right process.

I often run a workshop exercise to illustrate this.

I tell participants that they have 60 seconds to make a paper aeroplane that will fly across the room.

Success is often elusive: a few paper darts make it across the room, but many don't!

Then I ask participants to make a completely different design that will fly across the room.

The "completely different design" usually results in another clutch of paper darts, some portrait rather than landscape, and with one or two additional design quirks.

But one or two people think about the challenge, grin, and screw their piece of paper up into a ball.A ball of paper flies across the room very well indeed!

The point of the exercise is that most participants are thinking about theprocess of making a paper aeroplane, rather than theobjective of flying across the room.

And at work if we focus too hard on process improvement, we sometimes don't see that they're the wrong processes to achieve our objectives.

You wouldn't dare! - (budgeting, profit)

"You wouldn't dare!"

In hindsight that wasn't the best thing to say to someone threatening to pour a jug of water over me.

But we hear dangerous words at work as well.How often do you hear "That's the way we do things here"?Or "We've always done that"?

At one level, these are good things to hear.They describe an organisation with clear, well defined processes.An organisation consistent in what it does.Both good traits to have.

But they can also describe massive inertia.An organisation that's doing what it has always done, in the way it has always done.Even though that may now be out of date.

Take "That's the way we do things round here."Sometimes that means that we haven't reviewed our processes for a long time, and that they are no longer efficient.Often we review our processes after an "incident" and build in a preventative check or review.Over time our processes get more unwieldy, and need streamlining.

How about "We've always done that"?That may be a prime candidate for something we do that is simply no longer relevant - but we still do it anyway.I'm prepared to bet that most businesses produce at least one internal report that no-one reads.

So, inyour area of your business, what dangerous words do you hear that may be pointing to inefficient ways of working?Find them, and you may have found a way of getting better value for money from your budget.

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There's a hole in my bucket!. One of a series of articles to to keep you thinking about things financial.

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