Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Balance Sheet Explained

When going through a set of accounts with clients most people can grasp the Profit and Loss Accounts – income going in, expenses coming off = profit or loss at the end, simple but when you get to the Balance Sheet a glazed expression usually appears.

We only produce a Balance Sheet as part of your Financial Statements if it is either a statutory requirement as is the case for a limited company or for others if we feel it is necessary.  However it is only useful if you understand what the figures mean so here’s a quick low down on the main components.

Firstly the layout has to follow accounting standards so is always laid out in a similar format normally with two columns for each financial year and usually showing two years for comparison and with the categories in the following order.

Assets

An asset is simply something the business owns.

  • There are Fixed or Tangible assets – an asset that is a physical thing that isn’t going anywhere soon like a property, machinery or vehicles.
  • There are also Intangible assets – something the business owns that isn’t physical such as intellectual rights, brands & patents.

Most of these items are depreciated each year with the written down value being shown on the balance sheet.

Debtors

This means money you are owed.  Items such as:

  • Trade Debtors – your outstanding sales invoices
  • Stock – purchases you have made but not yet used
  • Prepayments – something you have paid for in advance
  • Other Debtors – such as VAT rebates not yet received or director’s loans

Cash in hand & at bank

Money the business has, it can be in the till, cash not yet banked, money in the bank.

Creditors falling within a year

This is money you owe others such as your trade creditors or suppliers and loan and HP payments due within the next 12 months.

Creditors falling due after a year

As above, money you owe but more long term such as bank loans.

So What Does It All Mean

It’s a snap shot at the balance sheet date of all the money your business has and is owed, less all the money you owe to others.  This end figure is the net assets of the business.

 

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Desks – Which One Is Yours

‘If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?’
Albert Einstein

In my last blog about Working from Home, I stated the importance of having a dedicated work space but whether it’s at home or not, what does this space say about you.

1. Messy as a Pigsty
If your desk is just pleasantly messy you are probably the creative type as it’s believed a messy environment encourages creativity. However, if it resembles a toxic waste zone you will just be hated by all who have to work near you.

2. Inspirational Message Overload
Personally I hate these things especially the team building ones you see in company offices, I’m far too cynical for these. People who need to be surrounded by these messages and quotes are thought to be slightly neurotic. ‘Inspirational statements are a psychological form of trying to keep people together emotionally and it calms anxiety.’

3. The Office Meeting Place
Is your desk the place everyone wants to be at? Maybe because you always have a bowl of sweets on your desk or have cool pictures or stationery that everyone wants to borrow. You are thought to be extrovert and you love the attention. You probably always had the best pencil case at school.

4. Clean on Monday, Messy by Tuesday
You try to start the week organised and promise to stay on top of things but then life takes over. You are a person who finds it hard to break habits but you get things done ….. eventually.

5. Always Neat & Tidy
Being perfectly organised is part of your daily routine. You are super organised, always on time and prompt to reply to emails. You wouldn’t dream of eating at your desk.

So, which one am I? I like to think I’m a 5 but sometimes (most times) I’m probably a 4.

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Photo Credit:  SplitShire

10 Tips for Working From Home

I’m often asked about how I like/deal with working from home.  A lot of people tell me they couldn’t do it stating that they wouldn’t be able to get motivated to work, or they would get distracted all the time or they would miss not going out to work and being with colleagues.

Well, I have to say i absolutely love it.  In my case there’s no daily commute, no boss to deal with, no being trapped inside when the weather is glorious, no having to book time off just to go to the dentist.  The flexibility is brilliant.

However, if you want to earn a proper living you do have to be sensible about it.  I’ve read so many tips for working from home but this is my take on it, the things that are important to me and make it work for me.

1.  Take your work seriously.

If you don’t, no one else will.  People often think if you work from home that it’s not a proper job.  Don’t say ‘I work at home’ instead say ‘I work from home’ or ‘I have a home office’.  Speak of and refer to it in business and professional terms.

2.  Keep social media for personal time.

I make a point of never using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc., on my office computer as hours just disappear.  I restrict use to my iPad and only go on these sites when I’m not in the office.  Usually it’s while I’m eating breakfast or lunch or watching TV in the evening.  TV is also something you should never switch on during your working day – there’s nothing good on daytime TV anyway.

3.  Routine

Some people need routine and I myself am a creature of habit but surely a major advantage of working from home is that you are not tied to routines such as the 9-5.  For instance I would much rather go to the supermarket on say a Tuesday morning when it’s really quiet than have to leave it till the weekend when its busy and takes twice as long.  I would also rather be in the garden on the rare occasions that the sun shines then work twice as hard when it’s raining.

4.  Dedicated workspace.

You need boundaries between work and life.  Having a dedicated office or at least a desk in the corner is a must.  Working on the kitchen table whilst the family are eating, talking, making coffee, dogs running around, papers getting moved etc just won’t work.

5.  Make your free time count.

You can’t stay focused for hours on end and if you work in a home office it’s easy to lose track of time.  You need to get out of your chair and take regular short breaks.  You can use these breaks to put the washing on, unload the dishwasher, walk the dog….

6.  Wake up and put your face on.

You can’t lay in bed every day, no problem if you have a family to get out the door each morning.  Many people say you should get dressed for work I don’t believe this should mean wearing a suit.  My take on this just means that you shouldn’t slob about in your PJs all day and anyone who knows me, knows that my work shoes are my fluffy slippers.

7.  Have a schedule but learn to be flexible.

I have always been big on writing lists, I find if I have things to do buzzing around my head I can feel overwhelmed as it seems like more than it actually is.  Writing these things down helps to clarify and organise.  You can plan your tasks for the day but then life can interrupt your progress, don’t beat yourself up over not ticking everything off your list just try to make progress at a different time.  If you can’t get motivated start by tackling the easiest jobs on your to do list.

8.  Get your telephone answering right during office hours.

Be professional and don’t let the kids answer the phone.  Have an answer phone for when you’re not around.

9.  Avoid Cabin Fever.

Having a dog and living next to a heath is a great help for me here as it makes you go out every day rain or shine.  Many home workers go out to coffee shops to work just to have some human contact, this is not something I have ever felt the need to do.

10.  Closing Time.

Try not to work too late in the evening especially if you have a family and make sure clients/customers respect your personal time.  An advantage of working from home is that you are more available to your clients/customers but phone calls while you are having your Sunday roast is never going to be acceptable.

With that said, it must be time to put the kettle on!

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Photo Credit:  Jeff Sheldon of ugmonk.com