Posts

10 Top Cash Flow Tips for a Successful Business

We’ve all heard the term ‘Cash is King’ and know that without cash a business cannot survive for long. Chiltern Business Connections member Andrew Leggett, Manager at Wilkins Kennedy High Wycombe, shares his top ten tips for keeping a business financially on track with its day to day finances. Have a read and see if there is anything that you could be doing to improve your business finances:

Firstly, watch out for key payment dates for things like PAYE/VAT. Create an Outlook reminder to ensure you have enough funds to cover these essentials.

Keep a daily/weekly check online of bank balances so that you don’t get any unpleasant surprises. You can easily set up low balance alerts on many accounts these days which will let you know should funds go below the necessary level for your outgoings, before you incur bank charges or run into an overdraft.

In many cases, it makes sense to only pay suppliers when invoices fall due, unless early payment discounts apply; although as a good local business investing in other local businesses, you may well decide to pay a bit earlier when the service provider is a micro business – you don’t have too, however it can be good to encourage local suppliers who will look more generously at you when quoting for further work.

It’s good practice to draw up a contract for services with payment terms included at the start of a project so that it’s clear from the outset what you are expecting to provide and receive.

Put in place a simple system to track orders which will ensure customer requirements are met and avoid any issues or challenges down the line. The system can be something as simple as a spreadsheet or there are also a number of free to use on line systems which are suitable for small businesses.

As soon as work is completed, invoice but also make sure all details on the invoice are correct so that there is no genuine reason for it to be rejected or queried. It’s a good idea to put a note on the invoice which states a time limit for queries to be raised, for instance – ‘Any queries regarding this invoice must be raised within 7 days of issue.’ This prevents businesses hanging onto invoices for a month and then querying something which means it’s potentially yet another month before you get paid. Systems such as Xero and Quickbooks can be used to track projects and issue invoices very efficiently.

Should there a dispute raised on an invoice, ensure this is resolved before the payment due date.

Don’t assume your existing deal on overdraft facilities is still the best option; things change frequently and it’s worth having an ongoing review or comparison at regular intervals.

Look at reducing your overheads and in particular consider energy efficiency to reduce costs; there are many deals on offer these days and also grants to help upgrade older lighting and boiler facilities to more efficient ones.

And finally, always retain sufficient reserves to cover two to three months of trading so that you aren’t always chasing those few late payments that slip through and so that you have breathing space for working capital.

Andrew Leggett at Wilkins Kennedy is a highly experienced accountant who has shared many useful financial tips with the members at CBC over the years – just one of the benefits of belonging to such a long-established local business networking group. If you’d like to know, please get in touch via our contact page.

A body is slumped over the desk….. what do you do?

We were treated to a fascinating talk by Faisal from FM Training today as he gave the group is a primary survey run through on how to deal with a situation we all hope never happens: we walk into a room, and there is a person slumped on the floor, in their chair or on the table – what do we do?

Firstly, safety first: check for danger. It’s essential to ensure that the area is safe. Check for broken glass, electrical wires – these could have been a cause of electrocution and may still be live – furniture in the way, slippery wet floors and if outside, vehicles.

Secondly, try to get the person’s attention. It’s important to find out as soon as possible if the person is aware. So, talk to them in a strong voice, say ‘Hello, hello, what’s happened? Tell me your name?’ If they don’t respond, give them a tap or shake of the shoulder or hand, to see if they are conscious.

Thirdly, if they are not conscious it’s then vital to find out if they are breathing. Breath is a vital element of life, without breath we die very quickly. How do we do this without hurting them? Put the palm of one hand on the person’s forehead, then two fingers – and please no more than two fingers – under the person’s chin and lift the chin back. This releases the tongue and should clear the throat/airway. Then listen close to their mouth for air sounds, and watch to see if their chest is rising and falling for up to 10 seconds.

If they are breathing, then put them into the recovery position; and call for help. Or if they are not breathing, commence CPR and of course get someone to call for help. How many of us know what number to call in an emergency: Well 999 is good, but 112 is better as if calling on a mobile phone the 112 number can use a geolocator to pinpoint your precise position and potentially get help to you sooner.

Faisal shared how to remember this useful primary survey of an incident through the words DR AB – any guesses as to what it means? The next educational slot from FM Training will cover CPR, then later on defibrilator use…. always something useful at CBC meetings!

Moving on

Can you believe it, time flies when the networking is so good.  However, it’s been a whole year and the time has come for me to step down and make room for our new Chair, Paul Cartwright from Halo Windows. I am sure I am not the only one who is thankful that Paul has agreed to take on the post; in fact, I am sure I speak for all the members when I say his input and commitment are appreciated.  (Thanks to Nick Bright for the lovely photo below!)

When I took over the Chair’s role last June, I said that with Jay Blake as my Deputy, I would be holding the post for six months, that somehow became 12, but that was kind of expected to happen.  We all know in networking groups that 6 months is a very short time indeed.

However, we set out, with the group’s agreement, to make a positive difference, and in particular to grow the membership. Hence our increased number of visitor days and speaker events, which were all well attended. We had some excellent speakers, including:

Mike Duckett of Coaching for Success with his ‘Chimp Paradox’ review, Andrew McBarnett’s ’50 Ways to Increase Your Sales Today’ talk, as well as member contributions from the Fish Partnership on Making Tax Digital, BLR Financial Solutions on the Housing Market, and lastly the creative trio of the group, Matt Hulbert from Creative Jam, Nick Bright from PhotosbyBright and myself, Karen Pawlowska from TakeOneTV for a joint collaboration on ‘How to make the right first impression….’

We must have done something right because the year the result has been 5 new members, including Bucks College Group who applied to join straight after the last visitor day. Plus we have 3 other seriously interested potential new members from that same meeting, and one very disappointed visitor who said:

“Everything about the meeting was fabulous, I am so glad I came. I left brimming with lots of energy and inspiration, as well as many valuable leads.

If I’m honest, it’s the best networking group I have visited and I would sign up in a heartbeat if I could.

So all in all, things are moving forward at Chiltern Business Connections and hopefully with a fuller table we will now also see increased business opportunities for members all round.  Afterall, that’s why we’re there.

Paul Beck from ALS has set up a good system for keeping in touch with visitors, which will help us to be more efficient at bringing them in as visitors, subs and members going forward.

Nick Bright’s photographs on social media, together with Faisal Mahmood of FM Training’s activity on Facebook, digital plugs from Julian Richings at Local IQ and ourselves at TakeOneTV also seem to be raising the group’s profile.

There are going to be some changes under the new Chair, which include a regular business education or development slot, group deep dive networking and other variations that will be a boost to the coming year and provide good ROI for members.

So that’s it for now, I shall enjoy being on the other side of the table for a change, and once again, thanks Paul for taking over the reins, exciting and interesting times ahead!

If anyone wants to come along to find out why we all love Chiltern Business Connections just get in touch via the website for details. We’re particularly looking for a solicitor who does criminal law, employment law or conveyancing; an architect; a PR specialist; a carpenter, a plumber and a motor mechanic.

Client Testimonials Give Everyone A Smile

We all like to hear good news. It’s even better to hear good news from someone we know. And better still to receive that good news because of work we have done with them or for them. As Thomas the Tank Engine would say – ‘we beam from buffer to buffer.’ OK maybe that’s a bit over the top but the point is, we all love to hear and receive positive feedback as a result of our efforts.

As a business owner or as someone who is involved in client service, how do you go about leveraging this feedback and any good news? Would you feel confident and comfortable in asking that person who is giving you the feedback something like:

“Could you please write about our service / product and what you thought about it?” or
“Would you mind us doing a quick video to record what you thought of the service you received from us?” or, if they really don’t want to be seen on camera (see our blog on that)
“Can I please record a quick sound byte of your thoughts on our service?”

You never know and there is no harm in asking. As they say …. ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ If your customers have been happy with the service or product they have received from you, it’s absolutely worth shouting about and celebrating. Existing happy clients will always be your best advocates and client testimonials are a wonderful way to have new customers come to you.

So that’s the gaining a testimonial bit, whether it be written or recorded audibly or visually – each of them has merit and is completely worth doing. We’ll be back with further tips on using client testimonials very soon, and in the meanwhile take a look at a video testimonial for Chiltern Business Connections: https://youtu.be/3L3OGDy5yCw

Visitor Day 5th February 2019

Join us for breakfast networking on 5th February 2019 and let us help you attract more customers for your business.

As a successful networking group in High Wycombe, we attract well-connected business professionals. Would you like to join us and benefit from these referrals?

On the Visitor Day, you’ll also have the opportunity to experience how our dynamic approach to networking and business development works. You’ll also be free to network, join discussions and introduce your business to other members.

We will have two speakers from the group sharing their knowledge about how Making Tax Digital will impact and benefit your business, as well as a review of finances in the housing market from an independent mortgage specialist.

Making Tax Digital becomes effective from April this year for those who are on the VAT threshold and HMRC have said they plan to role it out to all areas of tax in time.  This is one of the biggest changes to how we pay Tax in the UK for many years and will affect how businesses keep their accounts and plan their budgets going forward.  There is a big push towards Cloud Accounting to support the MTD move;  however, it’s not always the vendor who shouts loudest that gives the best solution and our Fish Partnership member will be sharing with us their views on what to do next.

And of course with the defeat of the BREXIT bill many people will be looking to stabilize their finances, particularly on what is typically the largest financial commitment for people – their mortgage.  Paul Wakefield from BLR Financial Solutions will talk us through potential effects on the housing market and share some suggestions on how to give better security on interest rates going forward.

Join us and take advantage of the business connections we have waiting for you.  We are open to all guests though are particularly looking for a photographer, business consultant, marketing consultant and copywriter.  

The group is run by the members for the members on a not for profit basis and we offer a warm, genuine welcome to all our visitors.

The Venue is Wycombe Heights Golf Centre, Rayners Avenue, Loudwater, High Wycombe, HP10 9SZ

We assemble between 7 and 7.15am to kick off the meeting promptly at 7.30am. The meeting will end at 9am

If you’d like to find out some more about CBC please take a look at our website;  www.chilternbusinessconnections.co.uk

If you would like to come along please simply get in touch and we’ll make sure that you’ll have a warm welcome.

Why is a business networking referral process important?

Some networking groups use slips of paper to note down business connections and referrals to new contacts for members. At CBC it’s certainly not compulsory, however it does make a difference.

The reason it makes a difference is threefold.

Firstly, it helps the person making the referral remember what they have promised to do, and we all know that it’s so easy to simply forget these things when we get back out into our day to day business, so having a slip of paper with the details to hand does help the brain to stay focused.

Secondly, the person who receives the referral knows what to expect and can make preliminary preparations such as researching the contact’s website or social presence to get a feel for their brand. It also means they are prepared for the contact and it’s far more engaging to show recognition and interest when the referee makes contacts, which they usually do fairly soon after the recommendation.

Thirdly, it gives a fairly informal means of the group keeping an eye on how they are doing, a kind of taking the temperature of business in general, and raising concerns if any particular member doesn’t appear to be getting relevant introductions. It’s a great way of learning too; for instance, if one or two members are making a lot of validated, quality referrals, other members can gain inspiration from looking at how they do that, and overall the group can develop and hone their listening and connecting skills to ensure everyone is getting value from their membership.

Value of Business Networking Referral Process

Jay Blake, Take One TV, is an experienced networker; he would say it’s pretty much a part of his life blood and certainly something that he enjoys; nonetheless, it is something that needs effort and dedication to build the trust that ultimately leads to business referrals. Jay finds business networking an inspiring and engaging activity, he treats every meeting as a business meeting and his top tips for a succcessful networking are:

Always check out the venue the day before and ensure you are there on time, or even a little early. Often the most productive part of a meeting is that first free networking session where you can catch up with people, make appointments and sound out on ideas. Secondly, listen as much as you talk, actually listen more than you talk! If you can practice actively listening you’ll find it much easier to connect with people, and thirdly, be there regularly and be patient because it is only through regular and reliable attendance, active listening and the willingness to give before you get, that you’ll build the trust and rapport that leads to quality business referals.

Reasons to Join Our CBC Networking Group High Wycombe Bucks

Hi I’m Genovieve Feasey Local Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, here are reasons to Join Our CBC Networking Group. The good things about CBC networking, is that people are generally there for a similar reason.

Chiltern Business Connections High Wycombe.

Chiltern Business Connections High WycombeCBC Phillip and GenovieveOn the afternoon/ evening of the 28th May 2015 a large group of us attend a business-social trip addressing theory of  ‘Business Models’ we attend an exhibition by the Famous and Prestigious Company Patek Philippe, Geneva’s oldest independent family-owned watch manufacturer .  Networking is perhaps one of the most misinterpreted and underrated skills. Some people think it’s just about intermingling and some people consider it’s about getting a chance to get in front of someone they can sell to. We at CBC take Business and Pleasure seriously it’s ‘All about Balance in Life’. Key advice from Genovieve Feasey: “ when I do my Networking and Socialising primarily I remember it’s not about doing business… forget about trying to influence… in its place I discover ways to be of value, discover ways to be a friend and demonstrate how I can be of use to my group. So be ‘in it’ for the right reasons; just ensure these few things are your intention and you will be ahead of the opposition” …so with this in mind, check out below my list of advantages of Networking with CBC: You make new contacts – both one-on-one and as a team You may learn new things very quickly and without research You may find support to take your projects forward You can be empowered and re-energised You get to meet a group of likeminded individuals It will help you focus on what you are looking to achieve You may find Collaborators or Partners – both financially and emotionally for what you are looking to achieve! Done the correct way networking is probably the most central and lucrative skill you can learn. And it doesn’t matter if you do it for the purpose of doing business, getting a job, improve your social / presentation skills, confidence in people skills. It’s simply one of the most effective ways to get what you want.  Why?  Because people like to buy from and do business with people they like, know and trust. Today your networking is more important than ever and the bigger your network grows the more your NET WORTH will grow.