Thank you notes and a little gift
I always send a card or letter of thanks and perhaps a small gift for referrals. They remember that more than getting a credit, or a sum of money. I was brought up to say thank you to someone doing you a good turn and I don't see why similar manners should not apply in business.
Thanks John - absolutely spot on advice
It is so easy to forget to breathe properly and take time out to allow our minds to absorb and sort the events of the day. It is so easy to just do things on autopilot because your body and mind have learned the routine and it becomes a habit. Being mindful about what you do helps you realise just how much energy is wasted on things that really don't matter that much and how much tension you carry in your body. I began meditation in the 1990's and at the time people thought it was weird, cultish or only for the religious. Not so - being able to calm the mind is so good for you. Just imagine how good it feels to soak in a nice warm bath and soothe away the tension - for me meditation feels ten time better than that and it helps me refocus on what is really important. I also use a visualisation at the end of every day that helps the mind to let go of all the little niggly worries, thoughts and baggage that you pick up during the day, it is surprising what you store up and carry about with you without realising it. If you find it hard to relax and let go, find some peaceful music to lead you in, or think of a time when you felt really good and relaxed and draw on the feelings you had then. It is so important to let the mind take a rest from the everyday stress and worry. You would not leave your car running all night - it would be a shameful waste of fuel, so why let your mind run on and on wasting energy that could be put to much better use. Getting away from your desk for 10 minutes and resting your mind really does give you a boost to see you through a busy day.
I wouldn't mind doing HMRC's work if HMRC recognised that we are doing their work and pay us for doing it - i.e in a similar way that Royal Mail pay Postmaster salaries or the LAA pay lawyers. Life is busy enough and fees hard enough to earn without taking on extra duties for no reward.
Until then I'll just get on with my own workload, thankyou.
Paper 64-8's for me
The online authorisation process is a farce. Numerous times HMRC have advised me that codes have been issued and upon checking with the client they have not turned up, or the client has thrown it away thinking it was a piece of junk mail - I always warn the clients the code is coming through & show them a suitably screened out example of what to expect, but it still fails to pass their junk mail scrutiny. Paper forms are required by HMRC for various reasons and it is really frustrating to go through the online authorisation process only to be told at a later date that you do not have a 64-8 in place because the smug HMRC operator cannot see it on his/her screen. I agree with an earlier posting - the paper 64-8 system worked well until someone started tinkering with it - the online system causes all manner of time wasting and frustration - why change for the sake of it?
BTW - not sending 64-8's and SA1's in the same envelope and without a covering letter is a new one on me - I always send them together and always attach them to a covering letter and have not had any mishaps yet. I refuse to pay for additional postage just because HMRC employees want an easy life! It is bad enough that you cannot send forms for more than one client in the same envelope without having to separate down the contents even further. It reminds me of when SA was first introduced and agents in my area all got letters from HMRC district offices asking us not to staple return pages together or to include paperclips in the envelopes because it took their processing staff too long to unpick them! They never did account for the additional time wasted on sending back unaccepted incomplete returns because half the pages and additional information schedules had gone missing during their incoming post process and the additional costs incurred by agents having to replace them. Shameful.
The main reason people are "increasingly availing Online Services" is because HMRC are forcing people down that route with insistence that most tax reports such as RTI, VAT, corporation tax etc are only submissible online. I wonder if people would increasingly avail themselves of HMRC's online services if there was any choice over the filing of such tax reports. It is the most frustrating site I have ever come across, half the downloadable forms are missing, the search engine is awful and when you do get a problem with HMRC Online Services the best you can hope for is a call back from the HMRC that more often than not never happens. Well done HMRC!
Bit of a mix really
I don't charge fixed fees in the first year I do bookkeeping for the client - mainly because you don't really know what is involved until you have done the annual cycle. I do charge bookkeeping out at a rate lower than my usual charge rate - volume tends to make up the difference somehow. Work done at clients premises is charged by the day plus travel expenses. Some clients also have a very flexible idea of what bookkeeping means - some think it is anything to do with a peice of paper that happens to pass their way and some still like to retain a bit of control over their paperwork so not charging fixed fees in the first year allows me to get to know how the client operates and what they actually want me to do. Once we both know what to expect from each other we agree fixed fees for the work going forward. I do agree with the OP in that if I keep everything neat and tidy as the year progresses, the annual accounts become a dream job.
Some good/some bad
The problem with checklists is that they need to be relevant to the work you are carrying out. I use the work programmes suggested by SWAT in their Practice Assurance manual and find them really useful in that you can see what has been considered and done and what is still outstanding. Also they act as an "aide memoir" of things you may need to consider about the client and help you to work through the file in a logical manner. What I am not a fan of however are checklists that check the checklists - some of the review checklists are really cumbersome unless you deal with fairly large jobs where you have two or three people involved. I do however quite like some of the HMRC toolkit checklists and use them on more complex matters more as a reference and review tool than a checklist I have to say, but they have proved useful in one or two areas. Good tax software should help with the basic computational matters and a quick sense check style review on the very small returns will usually iron out most issues. I try not to get bogged down in checklists, but I do use them and like them.
Drastic way to lose weight.....
Over lots of years I tried almost every diet under the sun and nothing worked. I just decided to eat sensibly and not deny myself the odd treat now and then and I was much happier. Two months ago I fell ill with gall bladder disease and pancreatitis and have had to keep to a very strict low fat diet. To date I have lost over two stones (no - not gallstones) and it is still going down. OK some of that was because I spent a couple of weeks unble to eat hardly anything, but the rest is down to sticking to the low fat regime. The trick is to not overdo the protein (I never did eat much red meat anyway), watch the carbs, keep off the processed food and alcohol and eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. I eat plenty now within the bounds of what I am able to eat, but I know that what I eat is good for my body. I have never been a Skinny Minny and I am ok with that. I don't have any expectations of losing weight or any target weight - it is just happening but I do feel better for it. I was so miserable during all those years of dieting and I came to the conclusion that it is not just about losing weight - it is about accepting yourself, your body type and shape and not looking for perfection. I hope you find that acceptance.
My cats thought Christmas had come early when a full grown pheasant strolled into our garden last weekend while they were sunning themselves on the living room windowsill. Their eyes were out on stalks! I could see them practically drooling and from their expressions they were probably tying on their bibs and sharpening their knives and forks at the ready in their imaginations. After a bit of pretending to be meerkats to get a better view coupled with playing at being big tigers and stalking the pheasant from the safety of the window sill, they decided that the effort was just too much and went back to their snoozing. I would not like to take bets on who would come off worse if they had tried though!
Fantastic picture OGA. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Would have been nice to have had a Websmiths site.............
But not now ..... I have been sourcing a website supplier for several months now and had just about come to the decision to go with Accounting Websmiths, I had only ever heard very good recommendations and the template websites look very neat and professional. I am really disappointed. I moved away from Iris last year because of a very bad experience with extreme price hikes and poor support service. I can only see this going the same way. Like an earlier posting I have absolutely no intention of getting involved with Iris again unless there are some very radical changes to their pricing policies and support systems. Back to the drawing board now but perhaps lucky for me that I put the decision off until after 31 Jan.
Has anyone had any experience of the Mercia websites? Or can you recommend any other website suppliers? If so I would be interested to hear about them.