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Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly community roundup.
In UKBF Stories this week, I caught up with long-standing member Busters Dogs to find out how someone who “never, ever” wanted to be self-employed ended up founding a four employee-strong dog walking business. On the forum, the community discussed everything from company cars to alarm clock patents.
Here are my top picks for this week:
Ollie380, General Business
With a full time job and everything that comes with it – mortgage, bills and a young family – Ollie380 is increasingly concerned about taking the plunge with his business idea and jeopardising his secure income. Though he’s considered starting a side business, maintaining his current level of income requires hard work and long hours, and he’d rather concentrate on something full time.
“They say fortune favours the brave,” he says, “but that's easier said than done when you have mouths to feed.”
Alan: It depends on how much you are earning or spending and what your business plan (if it's realistic) will deliver. If you are earning minimum wage today, then yes, you can start a business doing nearly anything and earn more. But if you are into the 40% tax bracket, then don't expect to be back there quickly without a very good plan.
lesliedocherty: If you have a rock solid idea, that's a start and it gives you purpose. If you're looking for an idea to go out on your own with, then just hold back until you get it and don't rush in.
Pish_Pash: Would I recommend it [quitting a job and having to generate an income quickly]? Actually no. Upon reflection, the sacrifice was too great on all those around me. I turned into a stressed out, grumpy old bloke. Financially, it has been worth it, but family wise, it was a disaster. I expect to be the richest guy in the singles bar.
Francois Badenhorst, General Business
As Francois says, there's a tendency within big and medium size businesses to really emphasise data, deep expertise, careful analysis and systematic decision-making. There’s a hype around data, that Francois can’t see small businesses being able to buy into.
For a small business running a lean operation, does anyone really have the time or inclination to engage in deep, granular analysis?
ffox: The business plan is the dream, the business strategy is the road map to achieving the plan, and the information strategy is the detail of what data is needed to follow the road map.Data is the core of the business. This should dictate the means of information harvesting and analysis. Whether this is done ‘in the head’ or with the use of the software is down to individual choice, but it will inevitably impact on business growth.
garyk: The problem I encounter in large businesses is they keep wanting more and more metrics but don't really use or apply what they already have. They then end up with a myriad of views and reports of what is essentially the same data.For small businesses, it tends to be more operational: debtors reporting, cash flow etc. The key for an SME is to keep it simple, focus on what you need and then if you have time focus on what you might want.
Noah: We do basic sales analysis, overall and by product, but there is very limited value because we just do not have enough data to draw meaningful conclusions. I think this is inevitable for most small businesses – you need a lot of data for statistical significance to overcome "background noise".
Claire Freshney, Employment & HR
Claire Freshney’s customer service employee has a great personality but she’s forgetful, struggles to complete tasks to the deadline and doesn't work quickly. Claire’s tried to resolve the issues by creating a productivity planner and introducing her to organisational apps, but she’s continuing to have problems.
Since the company has invested so much time in this employee, Claire is reluctant to let her go and asks for advice moving forward.
Colin_W: Ultimately, I think it comes down to identifying whether the issue is one of skill or will. Maybe an approach which would help is asking the person to find their own solutions (which you can help facilitate if necessary).
Scott-Copywriter: Like any skill, building confidence takes time and involves a lot of repetition to get used to the activity. What takes a lot of mental focus at first eventually becomes more natural. You may need to persist until eventually, one day, everything starts clicking into place. Just because it isn't working so well now, it doesn't mean that it never will.
tony84: If someone is not getting the job after 6 months, I would be getting to the point of cutting my losses. They might not be 100% there, but I would expect them to need very little supervision and only require help with the parts that do not crop up on a daily basis.
Legacy, General Business
Legacy is in a partnership in a maintenance firm. Last year, the company overtraded and invested in a pricey warehouse base, and Legacy used his personal funds to keep the firm afloat. Now, he’s struggling with his workload, doesn’t have the funds to hire an administrative person and receives no help from his business partner.
“I'm fed up and want to shut shop. The spark isn't there anymore and all I can ever think about is getting out of the partnership.”
JEREMY HAWKE: Cost. That's it really. You yourself had the best business plan when running the business from home and controlling the costs tightly. but you let yourself be controlled by muppetry. Tell your business partner how you’re going to reduce costs and he will have to go along with it, as you’re the one bankrolling things at the moment.
pentel: How long is there left on the lease? Can you survive until you can get rid off this millstone? The "junk" in the warehouse – is there any value that could be recovered there? It will need clearing before you move out, so why not make a start on it now recovering whatever value you can.
Chris Ashdown: Take a weekend off and look over the partnership with a fresh mind and see what’s going wrong. You already found three people not paying their way, so look for other areas to improve.
Undoubtedly the start of another Time Out behemoth, Scott-Copywriter settles in to watch the Brexit negotiations unfold over the next few years.
As The Accountancy Lab observes, we're expecting a bloodbath within five pages – catch up with the latest views here.
Have a great weekend everyone!