an accountant's perspective

DN21 Awards

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Gainsborough DN21 Awards Celebrating Excellence in Business Tonight

You may have heard us talking about the DN21 Awards. We were excited to be a part of them initially because they represented something positive for Gainsborough business. Our excitement grew when Belinda herself and The Studio Gainsborough were shortlisted for two awards.

The event will be held as a result of a partnership between the towns focal shopping centre, Marshalls Yard and Trinity Football Club. They are keen to recognise great businesses that enhance their community and add something worthwhile to the local landscape. There will be ten awards handed out during the event held at The Blue’s Club.

The categories include: Customer Service Team of the Year, Community Engagement Award, Green Business of the Year, Independent Retailer of the Year, Business of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Shining Star Individual Award, Best New Business and an award for the best Social Media campaign.

The finalists:

Customer Service Team of the Year 2015, sponsored by Gainsborough Golf Club, are Emmalooos, New Look and M and S Simply Food

Community Engagement Award 2015, sponsored by Pygott & Crone, finalists are Browns Department Store, Riverside Training and Sills and Betteridge.

Green Business of the Year 2015, sponsored by Waste Cost Reduction Services, finalists are Wilko, Browns Department Store and Stanley Hunt Jewellers.

Independent Retailer of the Year 2015, sponsored by Elite Signs, finalists are Barnes Jewellers, Pink Pamper, Cream and Horsley’s.

Business of the Year 2015, sponsored by West Lindsey District Council, finalists are Stanley Hunt Jewellers, RH Smith & Sons (Smiffy’s) and Allsop Commercial Services.

Business Person of the Year 2015, sponsored by Road Safety Markings, finalists are Dawn Barron of Barron Bo, Belinda Darley of ABC Accounting and Wendy Stephenson of Browns Department Stores.

Shining Star Individual Award 2015, sponsored by EDF Energy, finalists are Alan Powers of New Look, Paul Cooke of DW and Lilly Dennison of Browns Department Stores.

Best New Business 2015, sponsored by Horsley’s, finalists are Therapy Gold Sports Injury Clinic, The Tool Box, Nail Envy and Pyrus Studios.

Social Media Award 2015, sponsored by MMC, finalists are Williamson’s Farm, The Studio and Stanley Hunt Jewellers

In addition to these nine awards, the public have been invited to vote for their ‘Retailer of the Year’, sponsored by Wright Vigar, by giving their vote to the store who they feel deserves to win.

So our own Belinda Darley is a finalist for the Business Person of the Year 2015 award and faces some stiff competition. As we get dolled up ready for a night to remember and celebrate fantastic Gainsborough businesses we will be full of pride with what we have achieved along with our captain and with what our local community has. We have clients that are sponsors as well as finalists so you can expect the ABC crew to be vocal tonight. The winners will be deserving of the recognition and the runners up have already achieved a win for their business by doing something exceptional for this growing town.

However, to our boss we have this message because we are wholly and unashamedly bias. You have done an amazing job over the last 10½ years and it is an absolute privilege working alongside you. There is no doubt in our minds that you deserve recognition for your growing businesses and all that you have contributed to the town. You would probably defend Gainsborough with your last breath and your personality and presence is felt far and wide as you pursue your two great passions – helping people do business and tap dancing! So whatever the outcome tonight we are very proud of you boss and we hope you continue doing what you do best for many many years to come!

Good luck!

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The Business Woman Must Stomp Harder

There are always headlines in the press that highlight the position of women in business and they are very rarely positive. Yes there are some great women who are both successful and massively influential but there is also ongoing stories about inequality, unequal pay and a lack of women at boardroom level. Isn’t it time businesswomen stomped that little bit harder and left an imprint on the international landscape of business. There are some excellent women doing just that but they will tell you exactly how hard it is for women to hold positions of power, be consistently taken seriously and warrant the same respect and recognition as their male counterparts.

There are plenty of challenges to face out there but why are there? What possible justification is there for these obstacles?

1) Women sometimes get pregnant

There are businesswomen who have been asked by clients if they are intending to have children. This seems to be a deal breaker. But why? Women can take weeks off for pregnancy these days and opt for their partner to raise the child. Is society still hung up on the fact that the woman’s place is in the home with the new-born? – Surely not! Men and women are capable of the same bonds with their children and guilt over taking the supporting role should have died alongside the ridiculous notion that women and men have exclusive roles to play in society.

2) It is the norm!

This is the way it has always been. There are more men in business so they always have the majority and it is a male viewpoint and perspective that drives the majority of decisions. It is habit to promote a man, pay men more, and hep men develop their careers. This learnt behaviour is changing but it isn’t a fast change. The world has to get used to new rules and embrace equality at all levels of management. As younger/newer generations work their way to the top these changes should begin to gather momentum.

3) Religion

It is a quiet force but there nonetheless. In some religious circles women are a classed as the secondary citizen. These views will not change but their reach is fading. These views tend to be limited to the more devout and sometimes zealot faiths but there is no questioning the fact that they can factor in mainstream business affairs. Thousands of years after their origins women are still battling the words of ancient texts and trying to establish equality.

4) Women are ruthless when in positions of power!

I have read this a couple of times – the idea that women become intimidating power hungry assassins when they are promoted into positions of power. Oh please! Why are successful women labelled intimidating man-eaters when all they have achieved is exactly what their male counterparts have. At the end of the day nobody would turn to Alan Sugar and Rupert Murdock and call them sissies! I rest my case – lay off strong independent women.

There is a long way still to go for women to achieve equal pay, equal standing and begin to feel like they are battling for careers on an equal playing field – but at the same time we have made serious progress in the last 20 years. Women do not need special skills or enhanced powers to gain success. They just need to follow the same formula that every businessman/woman follows. They need to possess:

Self-belief: Because everyone with an ambition or dream has to believe in themselves before anyone else will.

Ambition: Because no business is stagnant, they are always reaching further and striving for greater success or more challenging targets. That is what keeps them fresh and competitive.

Confidence: You need to know how to hold yourself and believe that you are worthy of your ambitions. You are no less than anyone else as you enter a room – you are an equal so hold eye contact, shake hands firmly and keep your head up.

Passion: You will not get anywhere unless you have fire and passion to drive you through tough times and continue to drive you through successful ones.

Humility: Part of this is accepting that you will not always know everything and that you must keep training to stay sharp and innovative. You must always remember where you came from and make time for people who support you on your way.

Sense of purpose: Just having blind ambition and passion will not get you where you need to go so a sense of purpose is essential. You must map out your path and stick to your rules and guidelines – stay true to who you are and what you represent.

Assertiveness: Make sure you get your message and your product/service across to the right audience. Be strong and assertive when you need to be.

Hard work: This is a given. You will have to work damn hard to achieve your goals and the business will become your life but nobody got anything by sitting on the sofa!

Bravery: Commit to risks and follow through with your gut instincts. You need to be strong enough to take calculated chances because again you do not get anything by playing it safe.

Persistence: People often forget this but it really is the fuel of any business. You have to keep working and keep putting all that you have into your goals otherwise they will wilt. Never ever give up! Be practical and realistic with your expectations but if the financials weigh up and you have done your research then your dreams are there for the taking.

So there you go. Whether you are a man or a woman you know what you have to do. And if you are a woman then just follow your heart and do not stand for any derogatory remarks. We have proven we can do it and we keep on proving it – one day we will stand side by side with our male counterparts and you will have been part of that change – part of that future!

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Why you need to take a break!

Sometimes we need to take a break but there are so many obstacles in our way:

  • I won’t fit everything in
  • People will think I am lazy
  • I can’t afford to take time out
  • People are relying on me
  • Nobody else is taking a break

Then ultimately, we put the idea out of our minds and soldier on. But, is that the healthy option here? Are we a nation of workaholics? Do we take enough breaks?

And of course the answer is no we do not take enough breaks and this in itself can have detrimental effects on our health. Workaholics end up stressed which in turn clouds their judgment, makes them emotional wrecks and seriously reduces their level of productivity. If you do not take breaks away from work and small ones during your busiest days then you will end up being:

  • Stressed
  • Suffering from poor posture and maybe even poor physical appearance (looking tired/exhausted)
  • Tired and less productive
  • Ill because your immune system is not operating on full power
  • Mentally wrought and edging your way towards anxiety and panic issues

Here are six ways you can make a massive difference to your life and find time for those all-important breaks that you need to keep your energy and sanity levels intact.

1) Prioritise

Everyday there is 100 and 1 things to get done and we could all quite easily rush from one thing to the next without taking time to grab any food or talk to the person that works next to us. In effect all we are achieving is being chained to our desks and when one workload is quickly replaced by another there is no end to it in sight either.

So, the only answer is to start saying no sometimes. I know – how scary is that? But, the fact is that you can afford to turn down some work, you can afford to put some things on a lower priority list and you can afford to delegate some stuff to others. The skill of saying no is essential to a happy and well balanced life. If you cannot prioritise your workload then you will burn yourself out.

Set a routine for your day and stick to it. You will be surprised because people do wait and they will respect the fact that you are taking a lunch break or taking fifteen minutes for a cuppa and brainstorming session. Be ruthless about your day and map it out for you – everything else will fall into place and you will end up working harder during the time that you are at your desk.

2) Allow worries to surface

Do not bury your head in the sand or pretend nothing is wrong when it is. If you allow those worries and stresses to come to the surface then you are enabling yourself to deal with them. This may mean sharing them with someone else, doing a little research or simply admitting to yourself that they are a concern.

It can be liberating just to admit that something’s are beyond your control and no matter how hard you work there will always be stresses. Let them out, write them down, tell someone about them and they will instantly diminish in size and importance.

3) Make time for reflection

Go over your decisions and try and look at them from different perspectives. This means that you can catch problems early and keep evaluating your choices based on now – making sure they are still the best ones for you to make.

Mind maps are always good for this as you can visualise what is going on in that complex brain. There is always a cluster of thoughts revolving around one decision so get them onto paper and then you can see how they relate at which thoughts hold more weight.

4) Turn down your emotions

Try to view the world in a more rational way and do not look at peoples choices as personal. Most decisions are business minded so try and think of their reasons for making them. Annoyance and anger towards others only fuels a stressful working environment and fills you with doubts that are not easily resolved.

5) Enjoy yourself and your accomplishments

There are lots of reasons for not making time with friends and family: deadlines, workload, the expectations of others, it’s the social norm these days! But when you do stop you relax and you take in exactly what you are meant to be working so hard to enjoy. There is far too little enjoyment and living going on these days and far too much working long hours taking its place.

6) Do what comes up

It is not always the things that you are used to and comfortable with that make you the happiest in life. Take the chances that you are not sure of or just nudge you outside of your comfort zone because those are the ones that tend to open up more doors. Mix up your stable income with something that is a little riskier but could put you in perfect stead further up the line. You never know what you will be missing if you flatly turn down opportunities.

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Your Business is Your Baby

Babies keep you up all night, they demand all of your time and energy. They are costly and the responsibility of keeping them safe and giving them a nurturing upbringing is sometimes overwhelming.

But they are also immensely rewarding and nothing can put a smile on your face quite like a happy and content giggling baby that you helped create and raise.

These emotions and sacrifices may well sound familiar.

When you decided to start your business you practically gave birth to a baby. No really…you did!

Building your business is a huge commitment and at times it will take every ounce of strength, energy and sanity that you have available. People will not understand the sacrifices you make to keep your business on track because unless you have your own baby you do not understand what other parents are going through.

The sooner you admit what your business means to you the easier it will be to communicate that to others. It is not just a source of income or the product of you pursuing your passion. It is a combination of those things which makes it incredibly important to you.

If you asked yourself what you wanted most from your life as a teenager, you are not going to say a reliable partner and two healthy and happy children. You might – but it is unlikely. You are more likely to answer: to be living the dream – have money and be doing something I love. You want to reach your potential, make your mark on the world and earn a living while doing those things.

No matter the sex, ethnicity, or culture of your baby they all need the same:
  • Understanding/ Communication
  • Protection
  • Feeding
  • Clothing
  • Nappy Changing
  • Love and Nurturing
  • Introducing to the world around them

No matter the type, industry, or location of your business they all need the same:IT/Business Plan/Forecasts/Communications

  • Business Insurance/Health & Safety/Security
  • Credit/Sales
  • Branding
  • Debit/Supply
  • Team Building/Advice/Support
  • Marketing/PR/Networking

Babies inevitably grow.

You created your business and that makes it an extension of you. You want it to have your values – your drive – and
be made in your image. That is a natural desire as a parent.

In the beginning and to some extent throughout that journey your ambition is simply to survive. But, crafting your voice, building your story and standing for something (whatever that might be) can have a huge impact on your chances of survival.

Your business has a solid place within your heart. As soppy as that sounds it’s true. You cannot prevent the connection from forming because you have put your whole world into it and potentially jeopardised a lot of family and leisure time
to pull it off.

Sculpting your business in your own image works to a point, and it is imperative to ensure the ethos of your
company captures your core values. But, as the business grows there will be lots of other influences that will mold
and shape it for the better.

A company created entirely in ones own image has been suffocated. Whereas one that has grown through a multitude of experiences, mistakes, and leaps of faith is more able to adapt and evolve to suit the changing times and landscapes around it.

How will you parent your baby? These are some of the things our Director, Belinda Darley has learnt along the way which you may relate to:

1 2 3 4 5 6

Baby business workshops will be coming to the local area in the coming months – to discuss your business problems, get support and advice from business veterans and have the chance to network with like-minded individuals – watch this space…

white wolf

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What Animal Traits are needed in business?

The quick response to the question would be a fighting spirit that doesn’t show mercy and does exactly what it needs to survive. But, what about negotiating skills, building a rapport, understanding people’s needs and presenting a united front. There is so much more to business than meets the eye and a lot more to the animal kingdom than a single glance portrays. From the family orientated, resourceful ant, to the selfless journey of the penguin to provide food for its babies, black and white stereotypes are as ignorant as they are shortsighted.

There are times when human spirit and human characteristics just do not seem enough for triumphing over life’s obstacles. This is no exception when it comes to business. We could all ‘roar’ on occasions when a superhuman strength feels necessary to advance past the pressures and stresses our working day throws at us. In fact, we often turn to animal instincts when we feel backed into a corner or challenged beyond our coping mechanisms.

There is something very primitive at the core of business. When someone challenges it or issues threaten the survival of your business, your baby, you fight for it. You throw everything including the kitchen sink at it. There are different challenges and different skills required to combat each of them. Does it require?

  • Diplomacy
  • Determination
  • Consideration
  • Decisive action
  • Support
  • Empathy
  • Understanding
  • Forgiveness
  • Compromise

We are looking to the animal world to draw out five characteristics of five animals that could help you face any battle your business encounters.

  1. The Wolf

white wolf

An honourable, solitary, independent, strong and powerful animal. The pack is led by the leader or alpha who can be male/female. An alpha male usually controls the activities of the other pack members but in some cases a very strong female can usurp control from him and lead the pack. Equality has been there in nature all along! The structure of the pack is beneficial to all wolves in it as they survive in the wild away from human interference.

The pack mentality is that there is power in numbers and this also holds true for business. Whether that means you build a team of loyal and complimentary employees or you build a network with other local businesses and exchange business/skills/information with them. These two models can both give you security and strength where it would not exist if you were operating as an individual.

Wolves hunt in a group and collectively care for and teach their puppies. Hunting as a group means they can take larger prey. They also relay in the chase so they can conserve their strength by taking charges in turn. This is delegation operating at a very simplistic level but its message is a powerful one. If individual wolves tire there will be less present for the kill and the chance of no food retrieved from a kill at all increases. By sharing the workload they ensure their bounty, create equality, and stay safe. Businesses survive when a team or a pack can suffer some losses and work together for the biggest of gains.

  1. Golden Retrievers

golden retriever

You may be thinking that this is an odd choice but there is something about loving animals that make them all the closer to their human counterparts.  A golden retriever wants to please everybody. They tend to be loyal, warm, and always there to comfort you. If we humanise them, they would likely find it hard to make tough decisions for fear of upsetting someone.

But every workplace needs characteristics of the Golden Retriever. They are trusting, open hearted and loyal individuals. This leads clients/customers to feel appreciated and cared for which is a quality that can never be overlooked. They also gel a team together because they thaw out colder colleagues and continue to demonstrate what a loving and loyal character can bring a workplace. Their relentless efforts are endearing to those around them and they probably make great huggers too!

  1. Roadrunners

road runner

As the cartoon suggests, avoidance is the roadrunners chief skill. Some problems just need to be prevented, ignored, or for want of a better strategy, run from. Roadrunners usually have very sharp observation skills. In the wild they will see a problem immediately and be changing direction almost instantly. They are fast so their solution may be impulsive but they are far from indecisive.

Roadrunners in human form will try to avoid conflict at all costs. It is difficult to find out what their problems are because unlike an Emu that is stationary when it plants its head in the sand the roadrunner disappears from view. They will always avoid petty and meaningless conflicts making them a great remedy to overly dramatic personalities. However, they will allow problems to remain unresolved. Their logic and sharp observation skills will alleviate conflict in a tight team. Given the right time to prepare they will choose not to flee and contribute a very valuable insight into any issue that arises.

  1. Cobras


What do cobras demonstrate in the wild that is a skill useful for business? Possibly on of the core strengths of any successful business leader. It is not quite as obvious as it may first appear. Cobras do not just strike at their opponent with lethal effect. They assess a situation, circle their opponents, and only ever enter conflict if they are certain of the outcome. Unless they are unnecessarily riled or threatened in which case they can have quite a deadly temper!

Cobras in human form are calculating and if they can insight others to retaliate for them they will. They can sometimes come across as manipulative and scheming but the heart of the cobra is to resolve conflict and constantly oversea the entire landscape instead of getting distracted by small details. Cobras work well when time is put aside to talk everything through, plan the road ahead and let them have their say/give their input.

  1. Eagles


Eagles relish the opportunity to select their prey and decisively put it down. Their hunting strategy is brutally efficient. They have a complete overview of every situation, flying at distance from their target until the perfect opportunity arises. We associate Eagles with nobility, pride, power and prowess. There is something masterful in their skill set and simplistic about how they get what they want and get the job done.

Humans who have an Eagle spirit are flawless. They understand how conflict can be valuable and use conflict management techniques (listening, repeating what’s said to avoid misunderstandings, calmly stating multiple opinions and being open to other solutions). Eagles are often at the core of a business but are very rarely the leader as that is a difficult position to keep neutrality in. If you have hired an Eagle then you have a flawless fighter that should be used in the capacity of mediator and mentor to other members of the team.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, everyone is different but if you are going to create a sustainable team a good mix of the above is best. Take key characteristics from the animal world and build a team that can handle itself when conflict arises. Do not view every team member as identical to the next because they will each have unique, skills, strengths and failings. That is just the way they were made and it is your job to utilise them so that you are getting their best performance. They are happiest when they are using the characteristics they have naturally acquired:

The Wolf unites

The Golden Retriever supports

The Roadrunner sees everything

The Cobra analyses

The Eagle mediates