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Being Human

March 11th, 2014 Posted by Business, Marketing 0 thoughts on “Being Human”

So what do you need to do to have a successful business?

Well I’m not going to compile the whole list. As I’m managing a small business myself it would probably make me panic a little. I’ll stick with what I know best, marketing.  How do you market your services or products with as little resources, (time and money) for maximum return?

Think human.

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

… ok, I’ll expand on that a little.

The products or services you are selling are for humans. You want humans to buy them and use them, talk about them, get their friends (again more humans) to buy them, then return for either more of the same or for other lines or services.  So what you need to do is develop your business around human needs and wants. Even if you are selling B2B, it’s still you (a human) communicating with a real live person in the business.

Here are some suggestions on Human 2 Human (H2H) marketing:

Cut down on the jargon. If you are communicating with people about you or your business they need to be able to read it, watch it, or listen to it without having to try and figure out exactly what you’re trying to get across.

Be real and authentic and keep to your values. Pick three or four words that describe your business personality. Is it honest, fun, passionate, traditional, professional, reliable, ethical or confidential etc? Think about what it is that makes your business special and use those values in your communications.

Talk to the humans, they’re real. This is the thing about social media and where some people are still getting it wrong. You are having relationships with real people so show that you’re living and breathing too. There’s a person at the keyboard who perhaps had to get up too early this morning, is thinking about what sandwich to have and would appreciate you sharing or retweeting their content. Be nice and be real. Think before you tweet too, thoughtless tweeting is not going to do to you any favours.

What makes them tick? Think about what it is that they need from you or your business. Do they want to improve on what they’re doing? Is this all new to them and they need support? Have they been disappointed with other companies? Do they need to excel and be strides ahead of their competitors, or do they just want wonderful service? Think. What is your message, what can you offer that’ll make them either feel smart or valued or will make their lives better.

So, all your need is: the right product or service; at the right price; at the right time or location; and a good amount of people who are willing to buy it. Then tell people about it in the right way and deliver it (with a smile). Good luck with that!

By Karen Marshall of Canny Marshall  www.cannymarshall.com or follow me on twitter @cannymarshall

What exactly is a Virtual Assistant?

February 13th, 2014 Posted by Business, Virtual assistant 0 thoughts on “What exactly is a Virtual Assistant?”

People are often surprised or a little confused by the word ‘virtual’ but when you think about it, everyone works virtually – you do it every time you pick up the phone, use email or participate in a webinar!

A VA is a professional who provides a full PA support service from their own fully equipped office, has public liability & indemnity insurance and pays their own NI/tax.  Because they are self employed it means that clients aren’t responsible for any employee-related taxes or training, etc.  Clients only pay for 100% productive work and can work with VAs to meet their exact needs and requirements which may be on an on-going basis or for one-off projects.  And they don’t have to create any office space or supplies and worry about holidays and sickness.

By embracing new technology VAs can easily maintain regular communications with their clients and their IT systems very easily. The internet and cloud computing is increasingly providing easily-shared, lower-cost software options for start-up firms.   The industry is growing rapidly and now some VAs offer specialist services such as diary management, social media management/training, and most have a very solid career background in administration.

To mitigate risk it could be wise for business owners to plan for disaster – flooding, fire, loss of power, staff sickness, travel/weather disruption – a VA can work remotely completely unaffected.  Could your business withstand disaster?  By being proactive clients don’t lose vital time when a catastrophe does strike.

There are also times when a business may need an extra pair of hands, but perhaps only for a couple of days, or even hours – maybe running a high profile conference or moving office, where the services of a VA could be invaluable.

Although some VAs work for clients all over the world, mine are based in the North East – after all people do business with people, and it has to be said you do have to develop a relationship with a client – it’s no good working alongside someone who you can’t communicate with easily, who perhaps thinks very differently to you, so I do have face-to-face meetings with clients.  If the client wishes I sign a confidentiality agreement, and I have a vested interest in that clients’ business so clearly I wouldn’t jeopardise my own business by being careless.  As a VA is running their own business they have a good understanding and empathy with their clients too.

The biggest advantage for a client using a VA is being able to spend more time on higher value tasks.  After all why would you struggle organising appointments, creating a PowerPoint presentation, maintaining your database when your To Do list is as long as your arm – these are all tasks which can be outsourced to a VA.  I have a client who records his interviews, we share the files in Dropbox, then I produce a document – he says it makes his organisation look bigger than it really is because he tells his clients “…and my secretary will type the minutes up”.

Another client said: “Great value primarily by enabling me to focus on growth and sales based activities, and not on administrative tasks.  I would say I am now at least able to spend 25% more time on high value tasks”.  The flexibility which working with a VA offers enables him to increase/decrease workload as the business necessitates.

So it’s clear to me that clients can focus on growing their business.  Working with a VA means:

  • You can develop a relationship with someone who is consistent and becomes more knowledgeable about your business
  • Someone who is always available, no matter where you are
  • Someone who values you as a client and has a vested interest in your success

There are many VA groups and societies and by linking in with them a VA can keep abreast of constantly changing technology, ask advice and questions – there’s always someone who’s been there, done that and got the T-shirt, which saves so much time. VAs can also pass on valuable information to clients too.

Coffee and tea are about the only drawbacks.  You’re on your own with that!  And you can forget the biscuits too, especially the chocolate ones.  I can always send calorie free photos – so much better for you.


by: Anne Williams, LinchpinPA



New Year – new accountant?

January 21st, 2014 Posted by Accountancy, Business 0 thoughts on “New Year – new accountant?”

How difficult is it to change accountants? It’s as easy as 1,2,3…

This is a question we have been asked many times since we launched Clarand accountants. We have found that business owners think it will be a difficult, drawn out process that will possibly even incur additional costs, so unless there is a real issue with their current accountant clients just stay put. 

It is very easy to change accountants and there should be no additional costs in leaving your current accountant.

  1. All you need to do is contact your current accountant (by email is fine) and let them know that you no longer want them to act on your behalf.
  2. Your new accountant will write to your previous accountant as ask for “professional clearance”.  This is a letter that all accountants must send to ensure there is no reason that they shouldn’t take on the new client. Included within the professional clearance letter will be a request for all of the information relevant to the client.
  3. The old accountant will send all the relevant information to the new accountant, and then the new accountant can commence work on your behalf.

It’s as easy as that!  

Happy New Year

January 3rd, 2014 Posted by Business 0 thoughts on “Happy New Year”

We hope that everyone has had a restful Christmas break and wish everyone a Happy New Year.

At the beginning of a new year it is a great time to not only detox your body (after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year), but is also a good time to look at your business and finances  – what positive changes could be made?  You may want happy and healthier finances, you want to achieve growth, start-up your own business, or just get a better grip on your finances – “out with the old, and in with the new”.

According to recent research carried out by SAGE, SMEs are placing more trust in their accountants than they have previously.  However, the research showed that 40% could get more from their relationships with their accountants than just having bookkeeping, and the managing/filing of their annual accounts.  Only one fifth use their accountants for advice and general business planning!

We work closely with all our clients and we hope that they consider us an integral part of their business.  Take a look at what your accountant actually does for you, the service they give you, their value added services, are you able to speak to them at times convenient to you, and their genuine interest in your business.

At Clarand we are very much looking forward to the year ahead with what it will bring us, and we are off to great start already.   We hope that you are looking forward to the year ahead and wish you a very prosperous and happy 2014!

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 18th, 2013 Posted by Accountancy 0 thoughts on “Merry Christmas everyone!”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and support over the last year, it has been very much appreciated. We hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Our offices will be closed from  20th December and will reopen on  2nd January 2014.  However, as always we are contactable on our mobiles.


Christmas Cheer

December 6th, 2013 Posted by Human resources 0 thoughts on “Christmas Cheer”

Works Christmas parties are a great way to let your hair down and enjoy a few drinks with colleagues. Just be careful though that you don’t do something which you may later regret.

A works party is still a work function and inappropriate behaviour could get you into trouble.

Alcohol can dampen inhibitions and it is not a good idea to tell the boss what you really think of him or to start a fight with the smug guy from despatch.

Employers are still responsible for the behaviour of their employees at parties whether they are held during working hours or after work. So if you step out of line and someone complains about your behaviour you might find yourself in trouble.

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reveals that 10% of workers know of a colleague who has been disciplined for inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas party.

Employment Tribunals have upheld claims from employees for the actions of their colleagues at works parties so there is evidence to support what I say here.


Let’s keep this in perspective though and remember that the vast majority of Christmas parties take place without anyone behaving badly so no one wants to be a killjoy but employers need to make it clear to employees what is and is not acceptable behaviour.


Employers should have a quiet word about what is expected prior to the event but all employers should:

  • have an equal opportunities policy and a dignity at work policy in place to cover any misdemeanours which may arise.
  • ensure that managers also know how to behave responsibly
  • have an agreement about late or non -attendance at work the following day


Also sites like Facebook allow for unflattering photos or comments about the boss or work colleagues to be posted. These postings may appear funny to some people but may cause a loss of respect and trust between colleagues and in serious cases can bring the employer into disrepute. Many companies now have social media policies and you could find yourself in trouble for such actions so be careful what you post. It only takes one person to complain and then you will have to explain your behaviour. It’s best not to post anything which may offend anyone, even if you restrict your posts to your “friends”.

And remember that the photocopier is for copying documents not parts of your anatomy.

So having mentioned a few things to avoid make sure you have a good time and enjoy your works party.


Rob Grinter


Mark David HR Ltd

Human Resource Specialists


Lists of data which need analysing?

December 5th, 2013 Posted by Accountancy 0 thoughts on “Lists of data which need analysing?”

You may have long list of expenses or data which needs totalling up to be analysed or to be put into a graph/chart. Pivot tables are a great way to do this.  Click here to look at our next short video on how to do this. 

Powerpoint for beginners

December 2nd, 2013 Posted by Education 0 thoughts on “Powerpoint for beginners”

We have been busy creating some helpful hints and tips on Youtube.  This one is for novice powerpoint users – its short and sweet, and will help you get started.  More to follow so watch this space …

Powerpoint for beginners (1)

Cloud accounting – how can it benefit you?

November 27th, 2013 Posted by Cloud accounting 0 thoughts on “Cloud accounting – how can it benefit you?”

Cloud accounting is where the world of business is moving.   Most businesses already deal with the cloud, and accountants are getting there too.

“The Cloud” means that everyone will be working virtually and for many businesses, location is gong to become less and less important.  The same goes for accountants, no longer will your accountant need to be based in the same town as you, with Skype, Google +, etc and cloud accounting packages, everything can be done in real time and when its convenient to you, whilst still retaining the personality.  Therefore your choice of accountant can be driven by what is important to you – personality, experience, value added services and cost.

Fed up of sending backups and huge excel files for the year end to your accountant?  Fed up of then receiving a long list of year end journals for you to update your accounting software?  None of this need be the case with using a cloud hosted accounts package.   Both yourself and your accountant can access the package in real time, with your accountant being able to extract the information they need.

Same goes for any problems you come across during the year.   Your bookkeeper has a problem that needs resolving asap, they can call up their accountant, both look at the online data in real time and discuss the issue.   No need for the business owner to take a back up and send it to the accountant, for the accountant to then spend time restoring it and the time that is taken to deal with this.

Not working on the most up to date version?  Cloud accounting packages are updated via downloads – again everything is done virtually.

You can upload bank statements directly to many of the packages, reconcile easily, run bespoke reports, scan in receipts and know how the numbers of your business anytime and anywhere.

What about the costs?  Cutting edge, easy to use, low risk – sounds expensive?  Not at all – compared to traditional accounts packages the cost of many of the packages on the market is substantially lower.  In many cases they also include upgrades (which just need downloading) and they are backed up by the host provider.  Often the cloud packages are at the cutting edge of what is available on the market as they tend to move faster than traditional packages.

Speak to us about cloud accounting and the choices out there.  It makes sense – it saves time, deal with your accountants in real time, not just at the year end, bespoke reports, user friendly, download updates, secure and safe data. 

Check out our latest video sharing our views on cloud accounting with AccountingWeb:


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