Thursday, 30 January 2020

Are Bad Accounting Habits Holding Your Business Back? by MATS Consulting

“Winning is a habit.  Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lomdard

In a world that is moving so fast, habits that were once good can soon become outdated and this is very apparent in finance and accounting.  A business is a living, breathing thing, and it has to constantly adapt to new technology and new legislation.
Companies will spend thousands on changing and improving the habits that seem most obvious, such as sales and marketing strategies, getting the latest software; anything that keeps them at the cutting edge so they can attract new business and retain customers.
Unfortunately this is not the case for the finance and accounts departments.
Like so many of the hidden ‘back office’ non profit making departments, finance and accounting gets the raw end of the deal and is almost a forgotten world.  With a lack of funding and resources some finance and accounting departments are forced to rely on the old habits such as using outdated systems, duplicating work and going through repetitive manual tasks.
It is not always the company that is to blame, this can be the world of the finance manager who clings to the old habits no matter how much extra work is created, simply because this is how things have always been done; this is where they feel comfortable.
In order for a business to grow, you need all parts to be working at the same level; it’s no good one part moving forward if another is static because one will always be dependent on the other and vice versa.
There is a brilliant book called ‘The Power of Habit, why we do what we do and how to change’ by Charles Duhigg which gives numerous examples where sticking to the old habits can have terrible results, in some cases resulting in fatalities.  The most successful companies are those who change their bad habits.
The book also shows that you do not have to make massive changes; ‘small wins’ can have a ripple effect, which can change the whole dynamic and culture of a company.
When Paul O’Neill was appointed as the new CEO of the Aluminium Company of America (Alcoa) in 1987, he announced to a gathering of every major investor that he “wanted to talk about worker safety.” This took everyone by surprise because they were expecting the usual ‘new CEO’ speech; he did not mention profit or taxes, just worker safety.
Finance and accounting is a secret weapon that very few companies use to their benefit.  This department gives you the most important information a company needs in order to exist, its accounts.  The numbers not only show you how well the company is performing, but it can highlight areas to save costs, which projects are actually worth doing, and much more.
The ‘Finance Health Checks’ that I offer highlight ways in which finance and accounting can be improved, and every time the changes filter through to other departments benefiting the business as a whole.  Most of the time it is about changing small habits, working smarter not harder, and best of all the financial cost of these changes is minimal if anything.
So what are you waiting for?
Ref: The Power of Habit, Why we do what we do and how to change – Charles Duhigg

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Rebels with a Cause - How to Respond to Employees Joining Climate Change Protests

It is estimated by organisers that over 300,000 people took part in climate change protests in the UK during 2019, and more events are likely to take place in 2020.
Whilst some events passed largely peacefully, the Extinction Rebellion UK-wide protests in October 2019 proved more controversial and resulted in over 1,500 arrests.
Whilst many employers may feel some sympathy with the cause, the disruption caused by the protests, and the loss of workers who want to support the events can be challenging to deal with; and if those workers are arrested, further concerns arise. Regardless of their views, employers will want to know how to deal with workers who seek to participate in action on climate change.
Are Workers Entitled to Protest Climate Change?
Employers should be aware that individual workers have no right to strike in order to join a climate change protest. Trade Unions can, subject to certain strict procedural requirements, organise industrial action in which workers have some protection, but such action must relate to a trade dispute between the employees and their employer. Therefore climate change 'strikes' raising awareness of the global climate crisis are unlikely to be eligible for protection.
Workers wishing to participate in such action should therefore book holiday, or seek to rearrange their working hours, in order to attend protest events; but employers will not have to grant such requests if it would negatively impact on the business.
Can Employers Take Disciplinary Action?
Some employers may recognise the benefits of engaging with the issue and marking themselves out as an environmentally conscious company, and may want to try to support the campaign by arranging cover and offering or agreeing to unpaid (or even paid) leave for workers who want to protest. Alternatively, if this would cause operational difficulties, a business may be able to find other ways to support the cause, for instance by hosting a lunchtime event or arranging an appropriate fundraising or awareness-raising activity. But ultimately, if an employee misses work in order to attend an event without permission, then an employer would be justified in taking disciplinary action against that employee for unauthorised absence.
Are There Reputational Risks?
Employers should consider whether they have (or should adopt) a policy which provides that employees should not engage in activity that would damage the employer's reputation. An employee's arrest for conduct outside work will not in itself necessarily justify disciplinary action. However, if a policy is in place, and it is reasonable to conclude that the employee's actions have been detrimental to the employer's reputation, such action would be justified.
Whether participation in any protest, or forming part of a mass arrest, could reasonably be said to be detrimental to a company's reputation may well depend upon the company's ethos and customer base. A misevaluation of this could itself give rise to reputational damage.
If the arrest leads on to charge and conviction, unless a prison sentence were imposed which might justify a dismissal on the basis that the employee could no longer fulfil their contractual duties, the employer will have to consider whether the offence for which the employee is convicted is one which reasonably justifies disciplinary action. Where conduct occurs outside of work, this can be difficult to justify.
What You Should Do Now
Ultimately it will be for each employer to determine the approach it wants to take, but with more action likely, it is worth considering this as we enter the New Year and it may well be prudent for employers to clarify their position to employees in advance of further protests by sending out internal communications and reminding staff of the implications of taking part in these events.
If disciplinary action does become necessary, employers must be careful to follow a fair process, which complies with the ACAS code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, in order to avoid a potential tribunal claim.
For more information please contact Michael Delaney in our Employment Lawteam on 01923 919 316 or

Nuffield Health Community Project 2020

Nuffield Health is a not for profit charity dedicated to increasing everyone’s knowledge in relation to their own personal health as well as supporting in their fitness and wellbeing journey.
Within this project we’re donating 1000 complimentary health checksinto the local community this year focusing on employees’ health and wellbeing. We will be appearing at various local events & festivals alongside corporate functions.
The great thing about this journey with our corporate partners is this also ticks the box for their employee’s wellbeing and benefits calendar through the year. Any business can have up to 4 of these events per year completely free.
Events include physical & emotional wellbeing via a health professional / physio who can deliver individual 1-to-1 support or group presentations. We supply booking sheets for these so they don’t effect the day to day business routine. All results and information sheets will be given on the spot.
The NHS recommends a minimum of 150 minutes moderate exercise per week so to help support you our events will include a complimentary 7 day family pass for your team.
We can also support charitable events such as office challenges or healthy month campaigns. All events are completely bespoke to each business to suit your needs.
Therefore, please get in touch with any your team wellbeing activity ideas you may have for your company and we can support you with this where we can.
For any more information, please contact

Nuffield Health BuiltAroundYou.

Exercise has been proven as a natural relief to several medical conditions both physical & emotional. We have heated swimming pools and on site physiotherapists to help with the journey.
Some of the conditions exercise has been proven to help are:
Rehabilitation, ADHD, Stress, Depression, Anxiety.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

My lease is due to expire soon. Can I initiate a renewal or do I have to wait for my landlord to initiate?

A tenant has the right to serve notice on his landlord up to 12 months ahead of the lease expiry date.  The Section 26 Notice, which would be served by your solicitor, would request the granting of a new lease.
In the current economic climate when rents in certain sectors are beginning to fall rather than rise it may be in the tenant’s interest to serve notice at the earliest opportunity so that the agreed new rent, which is likely to be at a lower rent, will commence on the expiry date of the existing lease, rather than waiting for the landlord to serve notice on you. It is in the landlord’s interest in these difficult times to do nothing and hope that tenants forget to initiate proceedings themselves. Conversely, if market rents were increasing it would be in the tenant’s interest to delay for as long as possible. An interim rent can also be applied for so that a lower rent could be paid almost immediately, even though the lease renewal has not been settled. You can apply to the Court to determine this interim rent at any time within 3 months of an Interim Rent Notice, although this cannot start before the end of the lease.
If you or your advisers do not take the initiative in serving notice your landlord is not obliged to take any action and you will be deemed to be ‘holding over’ on the existing lease terms and at the existing rent which could well be more than the current market rate.
Open market rents for retail and office properties in some locations have shown a fall over the last three months and a good surveyor such as Aitchison Raffety, with experts in all of these types of buildings should be able to find enough comparable evidence to support your claim for a lower rent.

My lease is coming to an end and my landlord wants it back for his own use – what can I do and what rights do I have.
If your lease is protected by the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954, then the landlord has a right to ask you to leave the premises under certain circumstances, but you have the right to compensation as set out in the Landlord & Tenant Act 1927. The amount is limited to a multiple of the rateable value depending upon how long your business has been in the property. The landlord may state that they want to use the property themselves but can only do so if they have owned the property for more than 7 years. If they have not then they cannot force you to leave the property unless of course you have not been paying the rent on time. They may also state they are redeveloping. However they must show a clear intention to redevelop, which would include having a valid planning consent and also showing that they have the financial means to carry out a development.
If you have been in occupation for 14 years or less then the compensation is 1 times the rateable value. Over 14 years then the compensation is 2 times the rateable value. However for expert advice contact Ian Archer at Aitchison Raffety on 01727 843232.

Monday, 14 October 2019

A Message From Inventor Tom

A Message From Inventor Tom


With Lord Sugar I’ve been so fortunate to launch my STYLFILE ergonomic nail files, a safety spy hole baby nail clipper and most recently STYLPRO makeup brush cleaner and dryer. Something I keep being asked for is teeth whitening that works. We’d all love Whiter teeth, teeth that really make you want to smile right? 
After a lot of thought and research into the problem. I wondered, what if we put blue light technology into the bristles of a toothbrush and added a small amount of whitening ingredient into a toothpaste to whitening every day as part of daily routine. For the last two years I’ve been obsessed with turning this idea into reality.
Teeth whitening happens when stains are removed from the tooth ‘enamel’, or when the colour of the layer underneath the tooth enamel called ‘dentin’ is changed. Using sonic vibrations and PAPtech in the toothpaste, STYLSMILE, my latest invention, aims to do both 
The STYLSMILE is by far the most complex project I’ve ever worked on. 
Finding a way to make a sonic toothbrush, with blue lights was very tricky, with the added problem of ensuring only the brush head vibrates not the handle and stopping water or toothpaste getting inside the handle.
The next problem was getting an effective whitening agent into a toothpaste that could be used every day and twice a week in a whitening booster tray. Whitening agents are problematic as they love mucking up other ingredients. There are also restrictions on some whitening ingredients.
 It's been such a huge task there is no wonder I believe it’s the first time it’s ever been done! It’s been a long project, but I’m so proud of the results. I tell you, brushing your teeth with this tooth brush is so cool, especially at the mirror in low light.
It's very important to note, the blue lights you see are NOT UV light. STYLSMILE uses blue light technology, this blue light is sometimes called cold light. Blue light is known as a great way to accelerate or energise whitening in the dental industry.
The STYLSMILE toothpaste contains ‘phthalimido-peroxy-hexanoic acid’ or PAP. A non-toxic, peroxide free whitening agent which also has anti-plaque and long lasting bacteria benefits.
The STYLSMILE toothpaste, tastes just like regular toothpaste and contains everything recommended you for healthy and clean teeth. It can be used as your daily toothpaste AND also with the accelerator tray meaning you only have 1 tube to worry about.
For best whitening results, we’ve also included a blue light accelerator tray which can be used for 15 mins twice per week. Personally I use it in the evening, after brushing my teeth, whilst I'm getting ready for bed.


In an Independent consumer trial of 50 people, 88% almost 9 in 10, said they had whiter teeth after 4 weeks using the STYLSMILE. On average their teeth where 3 shades whiter and 1/4 of the user's teeth were 5 shades or more whiter! 
The STYLSMILE achieves such amazing results but it’s important to note STYLSMILE only works on natural teeth, not veneers or false teeth.


Lord Sugar and I believe so much in STYLSMILE we are offering a 100% money back guarantee should you not be satisfied. Terms apply.
I really hope you are excited to try my latest invention and first steps into the dental industry. I'd love to see your STYLSMILE journey, so please make sure you tag us @stylsmile_uk in any videos and photos on social media. Me and my team would love to see your results!


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

A Cluttered Space = A Cluttered Mind

My name is Tracy Ross and I am a Professional Organiser. I set up Blissfully Organised eight years ago to support my clients to simplify their home management and make better use of the space that they have.

I am often asked how clutter affects our brains and the positive benefits of decluttering. I wanted to share with you my thoughts. I hope that you find it useful.

Where do we learn our organisation skills?
The way we organise the space in our homes is individual to each person, but a well organised home will save you time, save you money and reduce stress levels. Often when I am with a client they will say oh I got that from my Mum. We may adopt the same organisational traits as our parents or sometimes we rebel against those and do things differently.  For example, if you grow up in a busy home you might prefer to create a calmer environment in your own home. Alternatively, if your parents were very organised and didn’t hold onto items (maybe they disposed of a favourite toy when you were little) you may now feel a stronger sentimental attachment to the things that you own.

Why do we hold onto things?
Since I started Blissfully Organised 7 years ago I have found that there are some key reasons why people hold onto the things that they have.
1.       I might need it one day
2.       Strong sentimental attachment to items that they have inherited or been offered as a gift from special family/friends
3.       It was expensive. You may have treated yourself to an expensive pair of shoes or jacket that you no longer wear but want to hold onto
4.       Books/crafting materials I will read it or make it one day

Why is it difficult to let things go?
The more that you are emotionally attached or financially committed to an item the more you feel that you need to keep it.  We attach a value to each new item coming into our home making it harder for you to give them up.
Does Clutter Really Affect Your Mind?
Clutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes workplaces and ourselves.  Messy homes or workspaces can leave us feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Each person’s perception of clutter is unique to them. All my clients have different things in their home that are important to them and need to be managed. I work with them to create easy home management systems that will reduce clutter. Your home should be a place where you can relax away from the chaos of day to day life. If clutter can build up it will have an impact on your mind.
Physical Clutter
Visible clutter or chaotic storage cupboards in your home or work environment bombards your mind with excessive messages and creates chaotic signals. It can affect you in one or more of the following ways:
1.       Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from where our focus should be
2.       Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally
3.       Clutter creates visual reminders of everything that needs to be done
4.       Clutter creates feelings of guilt (I should be more organised) and embarrassment (I don’t want people to see the chaos in my home)
5.       Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly e.g. paperwork, car keys etc.
6.       Managing clutter takes more time (i.e. looking for misplaced items or preparing for guests to arrive) and costs more (the cost of replacing items and purchasing duplicate can add up, incurring late fees or not getting the best rate on your utilities or investments)

Digital Clutter
Clutter isn’t just physical clutter. Digital clutter has the same impact on your mind as physical clutter i.e. managing the files on your computer, managing your digital photos on various gadgets, responding to and managing emails, social media alerts, App updates etc. Anything that beeps for your attention will impact your ability to focus and perform tasks.

How can reduce the Clutter in My Home?

1.         Start with one area at a time and finish decluttering that area before moving onto the nest space. This will give you a sense of achievement. I am always there to support you if you need non-judgemental support with any specific area
2.       Create designated spaces for frequently used items and supplies. So that you can quickly and easily find what you need when you need it.
3.       If you don’t use it, don’t want it or don’t need it get rid of it. You can recycle or donate items that are still usable.
4.       The items that you use less frequently should be stored in less accessible places i.e. loft, garage, utility room. When you put things in the garage/loft add a date and keep an electronic list. If you have not accessed, it within a year you probably don’t need it.
5.       When you take something out of its designated storage space put it back when you have finished using it. It takes practice to begin with but if you have a designated space for everything that you need it is much easier.
6.       Be aware of what you and other people bring into your home. Don’t let papers pile up. Think about the journey of all papers entering your home/workspace. You need to create an arrival space for all incoming papers. I usually recommend a shallow in-tray. Then spend 15 minutes each day sorting through what needs to be actioned, items to recycle and those can that be filed away. Get into the habit of immediately recycling papers that you don’t need right now. If you want to find out the information you can do this very easily.  i.e. flyers, menus newspapers etc
7.       Mental clutter -focus on one project at a time without distractions of mobile social media etc

I offer a confidential and non-judgemental service to support my clients to declutter and organise their homes. I provide the emotional support, practical help and motivation to help you achieve your goals, step-by-step. To find out how I can help you tame the chaos and set up easy to manage systems to maintain a clutter free environment please contact me at
Tracy Ross
Professional Organiser
Blissfully Organised

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Ten changes to make at £1 million turnover

As your business gets bigger, you may need to make some changes to stay ahead of the pack.
Reaching £1 million turnover is an important milestone for any business, but it should also be a time to review and refresh. You started your company because you saw a gap in the market and had the vision and energy to attack it. Yet, as time goes by, it is easy to become so busy with the day-to-day running of the business that issues for the future go unaddressed. So what potential changes do you need to consider as you plan for the next million?
Here are ten ideas.
1) Performance - Measure and improve. For example, not managing cashflow can lead to failures of even profitable businesses. As the saying goes: “Sales are for vanity, profits for sanity and cash is for reality.” Do you have enough cash to keep growing your business and what does your capital structure look like going forward?
2) Protection - Shareholder protection and agreements, key person and directors and officers’ cover may have been neglected in the launch excitement, but should not be further delayed. “The challenge in doing this later is that businesses get more complex and emotion based when bigger sums of money are involved as they get larger. This can affect mindsets, so it is key to get these vital insurances set up now,” says Martin Brown, chief executive of business growth advisers Elephants Child.
3) Plan for the next milestones - Businesses can hit glass ceilings or brick walls at levels of turnover of say £1 million, £5million, £10 million and £20 million. This is a good time to think about how to grow the business valuably to provide future exit options and what barriers are likely to be encountered along the way. Assess your leadership, people, processes and technology and work on the business.
4) Purpose - Simply making money is no longer a sufficient aim, businesses must have a sense of purpose to appeal to staff, customers, suppliers and external stakeholders. Spend time devising your company’s values, vision and what you stand for. What is it that you are really trying to achieve? What does your business do differently? How is it sustainable over the long-term?
5) Possibilities - You started a business because you saw an opportunity, but do you have the business knowledge to understand what is the art of possible? “You need to know where you can take your business,” says Martin. “How much can you grow it? Do you need to raise funds to do so? How are you going to build value in the business and then realise it?”
6) Product or service life cycle - Are you refreshing your original business concept and strategy to ensure they are still relevant and sufficient for today’s fast-changing world? Can you avoid a “Kodak moment” by making sure you foresee industry changes and constantly refine and improve?
7) People - Ensure that you are recruiting the right talent and providing them with the training and mentoring they need to move the business on. “As you grow your business, you’re going to need to achieve results through other people,” says Martin. “If you don’t carry forward the business culture or delegate or plan well, the person who started the business can actually become its biggest constraint.”
8) Partners - Do you have the best advisers to challenge you and the business going forward? Just because they got you to £1 million turnover does not mean they are the best people to take you to the next milestone. Are their skills still relevant? If not, do you need somebody else? 
9) Portfolio - Are you proactively managing the types of customers or clients that you are attracting? Are they still delivering value and profits for your business? Over the years, companies can collect suppliers and clients, but your business may need to not only grow existing clients and acquire new ones but also disengage from those that are no longer a good fit. 
10) Passion - Do you still love the business you began? Is it your passion? If not, should you be doing something else?

Where the opinions of third parties are offered, these may not necessarily reflect those of St. James’s Place.