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Thinking about giving it up....

Almost 5 years into my practice, circa 150 clients, i am not sure this is for me.

In my most recent post, I experienced my first client loss through choice (not ceasing to trade) last week.
This morning, I got a good referral from an existing client, which will almost balance the loss I think.

My one full time employee is okay, but if I could find someone else at similar pay level, I would sack him.

I work long hours, have three young kids. My partner isn't working as he is recovering from successful surgery removing two cancerous tumours, one from each kidney.

Does everyone experience large amounts of stress with their practice, or is it maybe that it is just not right for me?
I wish I didn't worry constantly about something or some client, but looking back over the weeks, months there is always something that gets me 'down' about my business.

Is there anything I can change to make it work?

Replies

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04th Feb 2013 18:09

There is lots you can do

Work out what parts of the practice get you down, and then set about changing them.

I think most people starting a practice will go through that phase and you are lucky to have gone 5 yrs before you got there.

Once you can define what makes you miserable or stressed, come back and tell us. There will be a lot of accountants on AWeb who have been in your position at one time or another, and they will help provide solutions.

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04th Feb 2013 18:35

Empathise
I empathise with your position.
My practice is smaller than yours, but like you, I have other personal issues which take up my time, and eat into my "stress quota" including being a carer for my severely disabled son.
But,,, the grass is not always greener, and at least when you work for yourself you have a little opportunity to "juggle" . Sometimes I become very stressed over very small issues with clients, but, on balance, I think it is because my life is pretty stressful, so i don't have much stress quota left.
Do you dread Monday mornings? I don't, so I feel, not perfect, but better than clocking in each morning as an employee.
I agree with Shirley, we can all try to help, if it will help you!

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04th Feb 2013 18:40

PS
Meant to add, I have a client for whom I do her books in exchange for 1 hours coaching per month. I was sceptical at first, but by just being able to "talk at" someone without feeling guilty helps me put things in perspective.
BTW it does sound like you have it tough on many levels, and if you want to " sound off" at any time please do, email me!

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By zebaa
04th Feb 2013 18:57

What are your choices?

Consider a moment what your choices are. Can you walk into another job or start another business? if the answer is 'no', ask yourself 'Would you REALLY be better flippin' burgers?' Because that may well be the outcome of jumping out of your present business in undue haste.

Clients & customers come  - & they GO. Fact of life.

My advice would be decide what you do not like and fix things so you do as little as possible of that thing. If you need it done by someone else, then that task has to be delegated, so think how you manage that. Delegation is not just saying 'do X,Y or Z' and expecting it to be done. It is up to you to manage it.

Lastly, don't overdo things. Take breaks, have short days & long weekends.

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The retention sounds pretty good to me

If it has taken you 5 years to experience 1 client out of 150 deciding to walk then it sounds to me as if your client base thinks that you're doing a pretty good job. However fabulous a job you do there will always be a rival who can do it cheaper, or claims to do it better, or a client just gets itchy feet for no reason. That's just part of having a lot of clients. And sometimes they sheepishly try to come back after a few months (at which point you can decide if you want them back or not)

The standard advice... work out if any of your clients are giving you more headaches than they are worth, and get them to change their ways or politely find a way of moving them on. It is conceivable that 140 of your clients might make you almost as much money with half of the heartache.

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04th Feb 2013 20:15

Change you

With all due respect murphy1 nothing will work unless you change how you see the issues. 

None of us are perfect and we see problems from different perspective. I think anything we do has major downsides. The fact you wrote about it is major step forward. 

Stress - easier said than done I know - all you can say is I have done all I can, what happens,happens I will find a way to handle it. 

Why worry about some client - no one will pay you enough to worry about them. As long as you do all you have to do  why worry about something which may or may not happen. If if it does happen just handle it when it arises.

At times I experience stress my blog are such a help (thank you so much to those who read and respond).

Try and take up some physical activity like brisk walking or cycling.

I hope it goes well for you.  

 

 

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04th Feb 2013 21:46

@Murphy
Well done, fantastic number of clients, great retention rate and more importantly love the fact you care about clients (that is why you worry about them and above that why they love/stay with you).

I too used to stress about client work outside of working hours and worry about their predicament, however that meant I was working or thinking work 24-7, so I decided to a) smile and b) worry only about things I had the ability to change and enjoy the rest. Firstly enjoy your partner recovering from that - well done :-).

I lost a family member young recently and it makes you focus on the good stuff , so enjoy it all and don't worry, we are only here for a visit so don't lose time worrying about things you can't change - sorry if all sounds a bit odd/wet but you know what - I don't care ! :-)

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By murphy1
05th Feb 2013 08:27

Thanks everyone!

You are right, I need to change and stop worrying as it doesn't really matter.

I think the worrying about money and not being able to do the best thing for my business because of personal worries is making everything seem a lot worse.

I am covering two incomes now, and also my staff financial support ( half his pay rate) ends this month too. Then add the lost client and it back to about one year ago. However, I just need to work harder and get more clients in.

I get frustrated that I need to 'touch' or 'see' everything that goes out of the door. I do around 10 weekly, two fortnightly and around 40 monthly payrolls. There are around 5 -10 VAT returns monthly for different clients, and while someone else does teh donkey work for teh VAT I need to review etc.

I woudl love to be able to say to someone 'here, catch...you are responsible' and I thought after hving this person a year I could do something.

I have tried to recruit others but a 'decent' person wants around £10-£12 per hour and the last one couldn't use Excel very well.

I'm hope I will feel better soon, and it really makes a difference to know that people here have been through the same with their business..thanks again! As many have said above, I don't have an alternative!

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I think you have built stress in to your practice ....

in that you have a lot of short notice, deadline driven work. You can only ever get payroll and VAT work wrong. Nobody comments on the 99% accuracy ...just the 1% cock-up!

When I started I had lots of montly management accounts, VAT etc as it provided stable income streams. It did, however, stress me out as I was always chasing my tail. Over the second 5 years I off loaded 95% of this to third party bookkeepers in order to concentrate on annual accounts and compliance work. I changed those clients to DD to even out the income streams and now I am happy and relatively unstressed.

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05th Feb 2013 11:00

VERY well put......

Steve Holloway wrote:

in that you have a lot of short notice, deadline driven work. You can only ever get payroll and VAT work wrong. Nobody comments on the 99% accuracy ...just the 1% cock-up!

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05th Feb 2013 11:11

to start

get rid of the weekly and fortnightly payrolls. Increase fees across the board by 20%. Now.

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By shogun
07th Feb 2013 10:21

Absolutely spot on; the one thing that amazes me the most is how the manage out of 1 million right things you do for a client to spot the one that you missed or was misposted to a wrong account!!!!

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By murphy1
05th Feb 2013 09:04

Steve,

That is what is going through my mind, and indeed I was asked by a client on Friday to take on their bookkeeping and I said kno, but that I had a bookkeeper in mind!

Why constantly chase them and worry when we can achieve a good fee for a few days work over the year rather than every month.

Thanks

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05th Feb 2013 09:12

@murphy

One thing about your recent posts struck me, and that was your post saying that you lost your first client to another accountant after 5 years in practice.

This is pretty unusual, and indicates you are giving good service, but working too cheaply, and I guess you are very busy but not very profitable. I got to that stage and put my fees up by 40-50%, depending on the client/work involved. I couldn't go on the way I was, but I was terrified I would lose lots of clients, but I didn't lose a single client. That was the big turning point in my practice.

I know times are tougher now than they were a few years ago, but going by how busy you are I would still say you could increase your fees quite substantially.

If you put your fees up, and do lose clients, work out how many you could lose and still get the same income, for a lot less work. If you are nervous about this, try increasing the fees substantially for your worst clients, and then gradually roll it out to all clients.

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Just to echo what Shirley said ...

I went through the same process a couple of years ago ... fees up 20 - 30% and on to DD to mask the pain. One £300 loss (who came back a year later) as a result and only about 3 emails from people querying it.

I think you did benchmark your fees when I did the exercise two years ago ... how did you stand at that point I wonder.

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05th Feb 2013 09:48

I have tried to recruit others but a 'decent' person wants around £10-£12 per hour

There is your clue. I agree with other posts you possibly have too low a charge out rate if you think £10-12 per hour is alarming. Take on a good staff member and put your rates up. This will reduce your personal workload and give you less stress

 

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05th Feb 2013 09:52

Don't dwell on things...

I started up on my own 4 years ago and have two young children. I felt pressure to be earning an income from the beginning so I took on a client that I knew I shoudn't really but it was good money. This stopped me from working on my business as they took so much of my time. So I dropped the client (losing 11k per annum) and then my husband started university and went part time at work.

We have spent all our savings to see him through the last few years, but he finishes in May and hopefully he will have a better future. Neither of us are getting any younger, I started on my own at 36 (I'll let you do the maths!)

Having been through the pain of January I too have had my moments of wondering why I am doing it, but I think it is the wrong time to make a decision, let the pain wear off and then see how you feel.

I have days of stress through clients expecting miracles and also, this week, one client putting me in an uncomfortable position due to his management of his company funds. (Tax planning advice for someone with a GIANT overdrawn director's loan account because he just kept spending  but doesn't see why he should have to clear it with a dividend and pay tax on it??? - My advice was DON'T TAKE THE MONEY IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!) He didn't care for that advice but I don't care to stress over how to get him out of his mess, therefore a letter will be going out to him this week about the implications of overdrawn director's loan accounts and if he needs a miracle he'll have to look elsewhere!

I think we all have days that are up and down, I get through mine by thinking about my kids, they love me without question and always make me feel special so at the end of a hard day I think - sod it - I'll go home and have a cuddle off the boys!

Life's too short to let things get to you too much, if a client is a pain, get rid. If you have a bad day try and allow just the one day to dwell on it then move on. (This was advice my Dad gave to me when I was young and he was right!)

I think things generally have a way of working out - I still have a roof over my head so I must be doing something right!

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05th Feb 2013 10:55

I have found this business miserable since I first came into it.

...almost 20 years ago.

It's a lousy business, full of stupid clients who expect that for a few quid a year they own you.

The regulators hate you and itch to give you a beating

The banks don't want to support you

No one wants to pay you.

I have tried 3 times to jack it in, once when I worked for others (I tried to get funding for a PhD), once when I tried to sell up (ha ha ha, what a f****** disaster that was) and once when I signed up to retrain as a physiotherapist, but ran out of money.

I think those that come into this game are pretty much lied to and sold the dream on the basis of a few partners in the top 4 firms.

No one tells you about the stress (I have been in practice and in industry and in both cases - in different ways - EVERYTHING is your problem)

No one tells you about the grinding tedium of the daily life of accountancy and how when you are in it and its on your CV its very very difficult to get yourself out of it and everyone always sees you as "an accountant"

No one tells you that once you get a mortgage and HP and pet insurance and all that jazz you'll never get the opportunity to run away from this rubbish as you'll just not be able to afford it.

So what would I suggest the OP does?

Follow the advice of the others on here - there is some good advice, especially about the fee levels and your probable charge out rates.

Try to accept that our life is essentially parasitic - living off the trade of others - transient - as clients come and go - and valueless.

Recognise that you will always need to have a stream of new work coming your way.

Try not to invest too much in your business (either financially or emotionally) 

Don't expect to ever be able to sell your business (if you do / can treat it as a bonus rather than as part of a plan)

Keep your overheads as low as possible 

Use as much computer technology as possible (within the boundaries of costs allowable)

Ensure that you make some time for you in all of this

Breath

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By chatman
06th Feb 2013 13:41

Decrease your Financial Presures

Steve McQueen wrote:
once you get a mortgage and HP and pet insurance and all that jazz you'll never get the opportunity to run away from this rubbish as you'll just not be able to afford it.

That's a good point; I find the more you lower your personal outgoings, the less stress you experience; and it is amazing how much you can lower them when you try. Many people wonder how I can drive around in a car that cost £575 but I cope, and I never have to worry about scratches or loan repayments. That is just one example, but there are obviously many more.

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06th Feb 2013 14:32

?

chatman wrote:

 Many people wonder how I can drive around in a car that cost £575 but I cope,

 

Is that per month ???

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By Old Greying Accountant
06th Feb 2013 15:04

Why would you ...

zarathustra wrote:

chatman wrote:

 Many people wonder how I can drive around in a car that cost £575 but I cope,

 

Is that per month ???

...ask that?

The car cost £575, when it breaks, buy a new one with a long MOT, even a few a year is cheaper than monthly HPrepayments.

It's choice, personally I like to know it will start in the morning and nothing is likely to break off that may cause me to die. 

 

 

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By shogun
07th Feb 2013 10:24

fully agree and endorse about valueless service that no one appreciates; the one thing that offers value (tax advice that saves them money, most of the time you cannot sell it as a separate service (unless of course it will take long hours or days) as they think it's included in the fee!!!

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05th Feb 2013 10:59

@ Steve McQueen

He He !!!!!

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By murphy1
05th Feb 2013 14:27

@ Steve,

 

Yes I did benchmark and was just under the mid fees for most work.

I have not increased prices but intend to do so for every client on a percentage basis, and certainly all the newer clients in the last year have been pitched and won at the level I need to be at.

Some of my clients pay a good fee, but there are others where there is room for increase.

Without doing a huge survey again, to let me compare, what would you charge a pub, turning over £ 150k, doing VAT, Ltd Co accounts, CT and 2 SA returns. Some non regular payroll too.

I quoted £1,700 plus VAT.

Some small Ltd co's are charged £500 plus VAT for accounts and CT, but the they have hardly any transactions and turnover around £ 30-50k

If fair size Ltd co does their own bookkeeping and we do year end accounts and CT, these fees range from £800 to £2,500

 

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Pub quote

Assuming they do the bookkeeping - around £3k

£1,500 accounts and CT (assumes the bookkeeping is average - done on software but no year end recs apart from the bank)

£600 vat (minimum)

£600 payroll

£300 SATR x 2

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Re pub bench mark ...

Accounts & CT - Current scale rate is £1,499

VAT - I doubt I would quote but I might offer to check the bookkeepers work for a couple of quarters at no cost.

Payroll - ditto (my bureau people would charge about £360 p/a if paid monthly)

SA - £105 x 2.

Do you see your problem? I am getting the same return as you but watching someone else do the monthly/quarterly work. Obviously location plays a part but I don't get turned down on fees.

 

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By Tosie
05th Feb 2013 16:35

lonely

keep posting here it is lonely working alone.Whenever my assistant is away I plan in giving up.Also January is a pain.I agree no payroll bookkeeping or vat .Is it possible to find a local bookkeeper to pass on work and meet up for a coffee .

Good luck you are doing great .

 

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By murphy1
05th Feb 2013 17:59

I think location has a lot to do with it. A medium sized firm in my town did this for them before me and charged £2,200 but no SATR.

I don't have a city centre office like the outgoing firm, and as they are director tax returns with no other income very straight forward.

Point taken however, I do need ton crease fees.

Payroll and vat are definately the crap, but I have picked a few larger clients because other local firms will not touch it.

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05th Feb 2013 19:18

Change

Good advice given

Id suggest that you give your employee a challenging brief of what you want him to do and timeframe the results, if he cant deliver then think about getting someone in who can.  Offer incentives.  If he still isnt up to it then pay more than £10 - 12 per hour and get someone good, who can, someone who can service clients and someone who can bring new work in.  Change your thinking, you dont have to do everything yourself.

Review your pricing. Cross sell.  Review your client base then educate and change or ditch the whingers, the energy sappers, the slow payers, the bring everything it at the last minute and want it done now brigade. Manage your clients - don't let them manage you or they (some) will walk all over you.

Get a hobby, dont work long hours, systemise the business as much as possible, manage your worry levels - how many of the things that you have stressed about have ever materialised?

Sounds like the problem is that your life generally isnt being perceived by you as being as good as you want it to be and that you are focusing on the negatives - this in turn is making the negatives seem to outweigh all else.  Draw up a list of pros and cons of having your own accountancy business, for all the negatives rember that you are totally in control of: who you work for, how much you charge, what your earnings are, when you work, how often you work, how you do the work and how you can make a difference.  I would wager that 80% of people would swap with you in an instant, work wise.

 

 

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05th Feb 2013 20:51

@murphy1

I must admit I have become a little disillusioned with my business over the last month or so - a couple of clients have gone and I do sometimes wonder if it's all worth it.

BUT then I think hang on, this is MY business, MY baby and I don't want to let it go!

So, I am taking next weekend off (well, Thursday to Sunday) to take my wife away for Valentine's weekend then when I come back I am going to be busy planning my 'new start' on April 1st - my new financial year.

I have basically decided to 'audit' everything I do and start afresh from April - so that's what I am doing - so I have gone from being really 'down in the dumps' to being really refreshed and excited - roll on April!

 

 

 

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By murphy1
06th Feb 2013 08:35

@jaybee661

Thanks, and that is what, given all the good advice above I am going to do.

There is no easy way out, so I must change.

 

Godd luck to you, and enjoy the weekend away!

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06th Feb 2013 13:23

Downsize..........

........and be done with stress.

Dump all the clients that cause you worry, reduce your work load, lay off/ make redudndant your staff member if you are not happy. Having employed a dozen or more staff in our last business I would really not be keen to grow my current practice to need staff.

Half term next week, take the kids & hubby to the beach for the day & blow away all your troubles for the day! You will feel soooo much better :-)

I love the flexiability working from home has given me, never missed a school concert or sports day these are the IMPORTANT things in life, that your kids WILL remember. My daughters off to uni next year I'm dreading it on the QT.

Yes I know client call at odd hours and have seen me in my dressing gown before now! The joys of home working. But I really try not to worry about them at the end of the day their business is their worry NOT yours. Try to make life easier for yourself work/life balance is so important.

Take care

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
06th Feb 2013 13:37

Agree with Red Leader ...

... on the payrolls, I only do monthly.

Best bet is to sub it out to an agency and free up your time for more interesting and productive work.

Not sure if the wife will give me the Valentines gift I want, she isn't really in to the Die Hard films!

 

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By chatman
06th Feb 2013 13:43

What is wrong with weekly payrolls? Does this assume that the data is re-keyed? I import weekly payrolls and find it very profitable.

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By Old Greying Accountant
06th Feb 2013 14:10

Depends ...

... how many.

If it is just 1 person, even with template letters etc. it must be at least 21/2 hours per week, more at the month end, and when RTI comes in possibly longer. If the weekly ones have several employees with variable hours you may be talking much longer. At what cost?

If you can charge the client £5/payslip and sub it out for £2.50, assuming say 2 payslips per client gives a profit of £50/week instead of £100. If you can knock out a set of sole trade accounts for £250 in that time saved why hassle with the payrolls and you will be £200 better off!

If you have surplus hours sure, but if time is your scarce resource I can't see payroll being the best use of it.

 

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06th Feb 2013 14:23

Comparable situation

I am a bookkeeper (fully ICB certified) and I have a close working relationship with a sole practitioner accountant who, not including the health problems, has been through a similar pressured situation (I was going to say 'phase' but I don't want to belittle Murphy1's situation which sounds just awful at present).

'My' accountant now does almost no 'data-entry' type bookkeeping.  She accepts the client, and builds the relationship with them, but then she passes their bags & boxes of paperwork to me.  I pass back organised files, up-to-date databases and a form-document (which we have developed between us) of 'notes & queries'. 

This method of working has reduced pressure on her, because she has another resource to utilise (me). She pays me an hourly rate, or fixed price agree between us according to the job, but because of our good working relationship she can also ask me to prioritise jobs as necessary and she asks me questions/picks my brain about client files at any time (as you would ask quick questions of an employee in the same office: 'what did we do about X last year?', 'when is Y's VAT quarter end again?' etc). 

I have other clients, so there is no question of whether I should be employed by her.

Murphy1 would benefit hugely from a similar set-up, but as we all know, good relationships are hard to find.

Much support and hugs to you Murphy - xxx

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By nowells
06th Feb 2013 14:33

It's a business
I could echo most of what you said, and after I gave up my business I read 'the E-myth revisited' by Michael E Gerber. This book gives a very different perspective and I recommend reading it.

I am back and starting again using every resource that encourages and de-stresses. Keep going and never give up!

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06th Feb 2013 14:56

Good Luck

I think we all have been in your situation.  A couple of further points.

This year I have got rid of 3 clients all because they did not accept that it is a partnership.  THe accountant and the client.  What this has left me with is really nice people paying nice fees.

And having got those off the desk I have time to takeon new clients who you want to deal with.  Strangely enough each time a client leaves (or is pushed) I find the time to takeon a new one  (did I just repeat)

With regard to staff.  It is so important that whomever you have supports you fully.  At the rate you quote I would have expected him/her to be doing basic stuff ie payroll, VAT without you telling them what to do and when.  But are you giving this employee the freedom or are you a boss directing.

You say the person is not up to scratch, if this is the case look to replace them. 

No support to you=more stress.

The last thing that keeps me going is accountingweb.  Just some situations and comments from all other contributors makes me laugh out load.

What you have created is a thing of value, at the worst you could sell it.

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By Old Greying Accountant
06th Feb 2013 15:24

Nothing is guaranteed ...

... it is about managing risk.

So if I plunge off a cliff to my death  in my new car I will comfort myself with the thought I took all reasonable precautions!

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By murphy1
06th Feb 2013 16:31

Okay.......

 

Step one......sack bad employeee......DONE!

Step two....recruit higher level new employee......IN PROCESS!

 

Stress Levels....through the roof, but in a few months things WILL be better!

Thanks again, the support really helps!

 

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07th Feb 2013 09:28

Employee

murphy1 wrote:

Okay.......

Step one......sack bad employeee......DONE!

Step two....recruit higher level new employee......IN PROCESS!

 

Can I ask, why is your employee a bad employee ?  Is it their quality / quantity of work ? Are they always sick and/or late - have you ever ever raised any of these issues with them etc. etc.

If not, they probably know that you are not particularly happy with them - but the problem is that they do not know why and are therefore not being given the opportunity to change or improve.  The problem may be a training issue or a personal issue that could be resolved quite easily.

In your OP you said "My one full time employee is okay, but if I could find someone else at similar pay level, I would sack him". 

So you would be happy to recruit another person of the same profile of qualifications and experience as long as they were paid a rate you were happy with (what is that saying about doing the same thing and expecting different results ?).

You also later said "I have tried to recruit others but a 'decent' person wants around £10-£12 per hour and the last one couldn't use Excel very well".

Based on the above it appears that you have made a mistake similar to others recently on this board in that you want a proactive, experienced qualified accountant to help you - but you don't want to pay for it.

What does "decent" person mean ? (although, in your examply even this person did not fit your requirements).

You need to establish exactly what you want to do and what help you need.  You can then find out how much this will cost, and you are then left with a decision to make.

In the meantime, you don't mention how long your employee has been with you but I am sure that you aware that you cannot just "sack" somebody without following correct procedures.

 

 

 

 

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06th Feb 2013 17:46

Congratulations Murphy

You are tackling the problems head on and you will get results.

There is nothing worse than people who stick their head in the sand in the hope it will go away, or are too frightened and/or lazy to change things for the better .... as I keep telling some of my clients ;)

Good luck. Please keep us up to date on developments. We are all rooting for you :)

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Stressed out

Hi

I'm new to this site and have been reading this thread with much interest.   All the accountants I know always seem very calm - so perhaps one cause of all the stress is not being able to show it!     For over 20 years I worked as a self employed management accountant, visiting different clients each day of the week.    And for most of them I was cramming in up to one and half days work into the one day because I wouldn't be returning for one or two weeks.  I ended up very stressed and was turning work away because I couldn't fit it in.       I thought, "there's got to be something easier than this," and came up with the idea of a payroll company.   I started over ten years ago and gradually gave up the accountancy clients as the business grew.     It's not without it's stresses obviously, but I employ assistants and have devised loads of processes to ensure that everything runs smoothly and on time.

Very impressed by how kind and helpful you all are to each other - loads of very constructive advice.   Good luck 

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By Flash Gordon
06th Feb 2013 17:52

Well done

Like Shirley says, you're taking action and that's great. The stress levels will improve simply because your brain will process that you're doing something. And to have posted your Q on Monday and already made changes..... that says it all. Let us know how it goes :)

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By murphy1
06th Feb 2013 21:56

@ann Lovett
One of the main reasons for moving to an office was because clients came to my 'mad house' frequently. Then, a 5,4 and 3 year old at home meant huge noise levels. Now, 7,5 and 4...I did mention to my husband that I have two options,..find decent staff and grow to be able to fund them and manage the business, or 'cope' till my lease expires and move back home, with my 'lovely' clients who I want to deal with where there is no crap.
Time will tell.
Thanks again for your help

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06th Feb 2013 22:42

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Sorry, but I have to admit I haven't read all the replies, and although your personal life sounds like it has a fair amount of stress, regarding your business life you need to ask yourself "how would I feel working for someone else again in business or practice?".

We all have stress with business, as do our clients, accept it and deal with it, or quit!

Remember though, if you quit you could end up working for some ungrateful and very stressful employer.

I would say you have a perfect chance to actually change what you have, we 'churn' our client list every year, that way we get rid of those who cause the most stress, as a result for the last review we kept all clients.

Look through your list, don't look at it and keep the biggest paying clients but keep the 'best' clients, then sell the rest with your 1 member of staff and moving forward choose clients who you want to work with and reduced stress levels will follow.

Just my thoughts, good luck what ever you decide to do.

Jason

 

 

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06th Feb 2013 23:04

Network with local firms and either find a partner or some kind of shared working. Someone in the same boat with the same objectives can provide valuable support. Sole work can be soul less.

Most of all expect the best rather than the worst of every situation.

 

Good luck

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By paddy55
07th Feb 2013 06:14

Streesed and fed-up

Hi, You are experiencing a lot of stress, both personal and business, in your life at present.

I would suggest a two-pronged attack.

1. Learn relaxation and stress reduction techniques. Attend relaxation courses, self-hypnosis course, yoga etc. Take control of your life and your stresses.

2. Take control of your business life. Eliminate uncertainty and stress as far as possible. Practical steps to take include: a) Double-checking all work. This will mandate longer time to complete jobs but it is essential and worthwhile. b) Do not chase debtors. Make it a C.O.D. business. All fees to be paid on completion of job. Make it an infallible rule that no tax returns will be filed with HMRC until fee has been paid or fee secured e.g. from tax refund. d) Make your terms of business known to clients and accept the fact that you will lose some clients either because they will not be willing to accept your terms or you will terminate the clients because they are undesirable as clients.

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07th Feb 2013 12:19

Say no to weekly payrolls

I agree you should give up weekly payrolls.  When you run a small practice, it makes it very difficult to plan time off. The shortest frequency I will agree to is 4-weekly and they all have to pay on the same date, so that we can go away in between.

I run my practice with my husband, having started on my own in 1996.  However, I have made mistakes - when you start with prices too low, it is almost impossible to get them up to a decent level but I naively thought that because I work from home and have less overheads, clients would not be prepared to pay more.  The second mistake made was to be too readily available.  Clients will phone or email evenings and weekends and expect to be dealt with straight away, even on 1st February when I was desperate for a day off!

We are maybe 9 years from retirement, but after yet another punishingly demanding January I have decided that some clients will never learn to send their details in earlier and so I must NOT promise to send in the returns by the deadline.  Trouble is, every year I manage to do it.  Perhaps I should fail occasionally? ..or double the fee so that they go elsewhere?

 

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By murphy1
07th Feb 2013 15:08

@ B Roberts

 

Employee was under one year service, and all proper procedure, including payment in lieu of notice was granted, thanks to the legal advice helpline at the FSB.

Employee was performance managed formally on a quarterly basis and informally on a daily basis. At the last review the said employee was told he had to improve the quality of his work - is stop making mistakes, use his initiative or he would have to go.

The final straw was that he emailed a client about something that I specifically told him not to do, and so was actually Gross Misconduct accordingly to the legal helpline.

He was on a final warning for lateness too.....oh and he frequently ' forgot' to do tasks that were asked of him, which meant I was always having to ask/remind him about what he needed to complete.

He has no right to an Industrial Tribunal according to the FSB now.

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