So, one day I was appointed director, the next day I blinked, and here we are 6 months later – that’s half a year! We’ve made it so far and like to think we’re getting on ok with things. Any clients reading this then please let us know otherwise!
There are a couple of things which we’ve noticed over the last 6 months, things that you only really notice when you’re involved in the nitty gritty of running a business.
The first one is that the summer holidays are not a great time for cashflow……….
Using Xero for our practice accounts means that we are a lot more up to date than we used to be, and sending monthly statements is an absolute breeze. We’ve been religiously sending them since we’ve been appointed, and whilst we might get the odd comment about invoices “not being due yet”, on the whole we’ve had a good response.
Either clients acknowledge the outstanding amount and settle it, or they ask for copy invoices, or for terms to pay – all 3 reactions mean that we have more day to day communication with our clients. If there are any which are struggling, then we’re more likely to hear about it than we would be if we weren’t sending statements and chasing money.
We did however notice a drop in income during August, which we didn’t anticipate, especially as July’s billing target was exceeded. Turns out that it’s not only our staff who take time off in the summer holidays, but our clients too! A lot of them have young families and so they have no option than to take time off in the summer, and if they’re off then they’re not in the office making supplier payments!
All was resolved come September though, and at least we will know to expect it next year.
Another thing we’ve realised is that marketing and advertising is (or can be) expensive and complicated, especially in an area such as Cardiff compared to Chepstow.
To be honest we’re still learning about the current adverts which the firm has in place, along with how much they cost, and whether they’re actually effective. I’ve spoken to a couple of connections about marketing, and they’ve been really helpful in pointing me in the right direction – I guess we’re a pretty blank canvas when it comes to our strategy, and are looking forward to exploring the options available to us.
We’ve looked at a couple of different advertising options within the Cardiff area, and couldn’t believe the prices we were being quoted. They might not have been overly expensive for a firm with an actual marketing budget, but for us they still represent a bit of a gamble at the moment, so we’re looking at alternatives – watch this space as I expect there will be a whole blog post dedicated to our marketing strategy soon!
Finally, one of the newest things we’ve learnt is that recruiting is not the most straightforward of tasks! We’ve recently recruited an AAT trainee who has been with us for a month now, and it has definitely been a learning curve.
Firstly, where do you advertise? We didn’t really want to pay for an ad, or risk running up an enormous pay per click bill on a recruiting website, so we looked at putting an advert on our website, and then publicised it via our social media channels – Facebook jobs is actually free and I think that nearly all our candidates came across the job post that way.
We also asked the colleges we knew if they could circulate the job position for us, in the breakrooms etc.
Then we had the challenge of sifting through CV’s, deciding who to interview, and then scheduling the interviews. This was a slight logistical nightmare as there were only 2 days on which we could actually hold the interviews, but luckily all candidates were able to attend when we asked them to, which I’m still amazed at!
After the interview process there was the final selection process, and then the “lucky” candidate was given their start date (which then had to be postponed as I was on holiday!)
Turns out you can get funding for AAT trainees in Wales, which again was something we found out about “on the job” so to speak. It felt like the first couple of days were just spent filling in our HR forms and the forms from the training company, but we got there in the end.
Who knows we might even ask him to write a little blog post about his first month with us!