To the blog for small and medium sized business (SME) owners.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Entrepreneurs struggle In running SME businesses

A recent report from T Mobile suggests that UK entrepreneurs are struggling to achieve all that they would like from their business.

Finding new customers, feeling isolated, too much government 'red tape' and difficulty in achieving a work life balance contributed to the problems, whilst reality TV shows increase the status of entrepreneurs they fail to inspire others to start a business.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

10 Duties of the Accountant/FD in SME Business

The role of the accountant or finance director will vary between industries and the size of company. As a general rule the smaller the organisation the more general will be the virtual finance director’s work; whereas in larger businesses the different aspects of finance work will each be covered by accounting specialists.

The finance specialist in a SME business will therefore take responsibility for different tasks that may include work associated with the management of the business. This variety of work may not be enjoyed by finance staff in large corporations.

Within the small medium business (SME) sector the typical workload of an accountant or virtual FD may include:
1. Preparation and reporting of monthly management accounts and year end results.
2. Identification of variances from plan and recommendation of corrective actions to recover from any shortfall against profit projections
3. Taking responsibility for preparing business plans, annual budgets and cash flow forecasts
4. Maintaining control of accounting systems to ensure timely, accurate and complete processing of financial data in accordance with internal procedures
5. Overseeing the management of the purchase ledger and credit control functions.
6. Ensuring all Balance Sheet accounts are reconciled regularly and take action on any discrepancies identified
7. Implementing on-going control of cash including regular (weekly, monthly) reconciliations of bank accounts
8. Contributing to the maintenance of business wide systems and procedures to ensure good corporate governance is adhered to
9. Filing all statutory returns
10. Training/coaching others within the business and effectively communicating with all stakeholders

Monday, December 10, 2007

Plan your Business Exit

Avoid being one of the troubled businesses that are predicted to fail in 2008.

The UK's leading accounting practices are expecting a significant increase in insolvency work in 2008. Fears exist that the credit crisis will cause many businesses to go bust with insolvencies expected to rise by 10%.

The head of KPMG restructuring advisory, stated ‘Companies have been kept alive artificially, but now they’ll be caught up.’

Read the report here.

Take steps now to avoid your business failing. Take control of your business, plan and most importantly manage the cash.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

UK Money Laundering Regulations

On 15th December 2007 new regulations on money laundering will come into effect in the UK.

For money laundering purposes all 'external accountants’ must be supervised by a designated Supervisory Authority. The definition of an 'external accountant' being:

“External accountant” means a firm or sole practitioner who by way of business provides accountancy services to other persons, when providing such services.

David Willetts is regulated by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), a professional body designated by HM Treasury and meets the requirements.

The Money Laundering Regulations can be read here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Succession Planning in Family Businesses

A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers finds that British family firms are failing to adequately plan for succession in their businesses.

Some 1454 family businesses from 28 countries were surveyed and only 30% of British family firms had chosen a successor compared with the international average of 50%.

Government policy, legislation and a shortage of senior skilled staff were identified as areas of concern by UK family businesses.

Read the report here and for further details on business planning and resolving the skill shortages visit DAW Consulting website.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Leadership - What is it?

Leadership in part is passion for achieving the goals and mission of the organization. Good leadership will display a strength of character, concise actions based on experience, courage and integrity of the individual.

Improve your leadership skills. How do you become a good business leader?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Business Funding for Small Business

A small business (SME) owner may provide the first funds for the business from his/her own resources, or support may be given by a financial institution perhaps in the form of a loan.

However, an expansion of the business may result in a requirement for more finance to support the business growth with the sums involved being larger and may be beyond the means of the business owner. A bank or other finance provider may require collateral alien to the business owner’s wishes.

What actions are available to the SME business owner in such circumstances?

Learn more on business funding for SME businesses.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When is it a Good Time to appoint a Virtual Part Time Financial Director?

When is it a good time to appoint a Virtual Financial Director?

The easy answer maybe 'When you start your business.' However, a reality check needs to be taken. Funds may not be available to pay for the service or indeed there may be insufficient workload to justify such an appointment.

Although it may be a condition of a third party investor that a FD be appointed by the business, even in these circumstances the Finance Director may only be part time.

So it is most common for businesses to grow (or contract) until a point is reached when the missing skill set that a part time finance director should possess is required to safeguard the future.

What are these situations that may trigger the appointment of a part time finance director?

There may be many but typically any list would include:
- The owner losing control of the business – not knowing how the business is performing – no management accounts – no cash management
- Rapid business growth without a senior financial professional to assist in setting a robust strategy and plan for the future
- Businesses that absorb all available cash with increases in working capital potentially restricting growth and capital expenditure.
- Established businesses with poor profitability and/or with an unacceptable cash generative history.
- Businesses facing external pressures to make financial improvements to satisfy personal or corporate commitments from banks or investors.
- Business owners that plan to exit and seek help to maximize the business value.

Business owners should, whenever possible, be proactive in the appointment of a part time FD; see the appointment as part of the strategeic development of the business and for it not to be a reactionary move dictated by problems within the organisation.

Whatever the circumstances in your business if you need more information on the appointment of a part-time finance director contact DAW Consulting for an informal discussion.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Characteristics of the Business Mentor

When engaging with a business mentor the mentor should possess important characteristics. These include:

- acting ethically at all times
- an ability to analyse and evaluate business problems
- ability to listen to and understand the client's concerns
- knowledge on how to identify the causes contributing to the effects under discussion
- ability to motivate
- skill of communicating effectively
- and more...

Learn more visit Business Mentor

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Business Plans - Who Owns Them?

When setting out the business future or applying for funding it is usual to find support in the form of a business plan.

However, business plans are often not only found to contain omissions and mistakes that are easily avoidable, but also the business owner may not fully understand or appreciate the expectation placed on him/her to deliver the forecast results published in the business plan. If the document is for internal use then the fall-out of not achieving the forecast results may not be as grave as if the plan underpinned an application for funds.

The business adviser may prepare the plan, but the ownership of the business plan is not always understood to belong to the business owner.

Consequently, care should be taken when instructing the business adviser to ensure the business strategy set out in the plan can realistically be implemented and the forecast results achieved.

The business plan should be looked upon has a set of promises that the business owner can deliver and not a 'wish list' of opportunities that cannot be implemented.

It is, therefore, important for the business owner to understand all aspects of business and the adopt a 'will do' midset.

Learn more on Business Planning and Business Mentoring.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Leadership in Small Business

All business leaders should have focus and be capable of driving the business towards the achievement of its business goals.

The SME business owner’s leadership style should demonstrate that what is being undertaken is sensible and will inspire stakeholders to commit to the cause. There will be a display of fairness to all and honesty in leadership style and the approach should be beyond reproach.

Learn more on leadership and business mentoring.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Improve Your Business With a Mentor

A business mentor is someone who has done what you want to do, or has achieved what you want to do. Business mentoring involves building a relationship with someone who has succeeded in your chosen field, but there are other factors to ensure success is gained from working with your business mentor.

Read more

Sunday, October 28, 2007

10 Characteristics Your Business Mentor Should Possess

Your business mentor should possess the necessary skills to guide you in achieving your goals. The business mentor will display many attributes that will be necessary to help you achieve success and include:

1. Relationship building – building trust
2. Honesty
3. Commitment
4. Experience
5. Acting as a sounding board - 'a shoulder to cry on'
6. Independence
7. Objectivity
8. Retaining a balanced perspective
9. Robustness
10. Elimination of the ‘loneliness’ of the business owner

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Discover 7 Factors Determining the Success of Entrepreneurs

There are several factors that will determine the success or otherwise of the small business entrepreneur.

There will be business associated factors that will influence the success of the entrepreneur, however, personal characteristics will also set him/her aside from others and afford greater chance of achieving success.

7 characteristics that help mold a successful entrepreneur include:

1. The person will ooze self confidence
2. There will be a zero or very low fear of failing
3. Clear goals for the business will be set
4. The person will possess an abundant supply of energy and drive
5. Responsibility for the development of the business will be personal and rarely delegated
6. A ‘controlled’ level of risk taking will enjoyed
7. Use of all freely available resources

For more advice on leadership and entrepreneurship visit DAW Consulting.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

7 Symptoms of a Business Turnaround

Business Turnaround - DAW Consulting, Kingswinford, West Midlands, UK
Why should there be need for a business turnaround?

Unfortunately, business turnaround happens when the financial expectations of the business fail to materialize, a situation that may result from:
- Failure to regularly review the financial performance and to take corrective action if required
- Poor internal business controls
- Fraud
- Major errors of judgement
- Events outside of the control of the business owner.

A regular review of the business should identify the causes that give rise to areas of weakness or poor performance. The 7 symptoms that often result in a business turnaround are:
1. Cash flow difficulties
2. No business growth, declining markets
3. Expansion of the business has been too rapid resulting in a lack of working capital
4. Quality of the product or service fails to meet the customer expectations
5. The business lacks strategy, no long term goals and exists from day to day
6. Low staff morale resulting in high staff turnover
7. Lack of specialist skills

If your business needs help to avoid a business turnaround then seek expert help quickly.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Business Plans and SWOT

Most business plans include a SWOT analysis, but what does SWOT stand for?

The acroym SWOT represents:

S Strengths
W Weaknesses
O Opportunities
T Threats

A SWOT analysis is a planning tool used by companies to identify the above features within their organisations. Its purpose is to critically assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in order to indentify and take action to eliminate areas of concern or extract further value.

A serious self assessment of the business should be regularly undertaken, otherwise the speed of change may overwhelm and place the business at risk. However, when preparing business plans the inclusion of a SWOT analysis will provide evidence to a potential investor of control within the business, that is knowing what is going on within the organisation.

For further help visit Business Planning.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Interim Finance Director Role

An interim finance director can be appointed to undertake a specific project or into a line position where the interim FD becomes a member of the management team.

When and why should you use an interim finance manager?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Discover What Makes a Successful Part Time Finace Director

What are the factors that determine the success, or otherwise, of the part time finance director in a small (SME) business.

It is becoming more accepted that many business owners require the skill set that a finance professional can bring to their organisation, but they are unable to afford the person on a full time basis. Hence the increase in demand for the part-time FD.

The person should offer much more than the business accountant who may be focused only on reporting the numbers (the history). The part time finance director should be more active in making the history, implementing plans, improving systems and creating value.

Discover the factors that determine the success of the part time FD.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Invoice Discounting and Factoring

What is Factoring and Invoice Discounting?

Factoring and invoice discounting enables the business owner to raise finance for the business. This is done through the borrowing of monies against the sales invoices raised that will be settled by the customer after an agreed period of credit.

A significant advantage is that the amount 'borrowed' at any time is in direct relation to the growth of the business. The higher the turnover the greater the sum available through factoring.

The sum 'borrowed' will be repaid to the factoring company out of the monies received when the customer settles the account.

This arrangement may be advantageous to business because it may eliminate the need to seek overdraft extentions to support ongoing business growth.

Learn more on factoring and other forms of funding.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Common Issues for the Small Business Owner (SME)

What are the issues affecting many small business owners?

Some common questions and topics relating to cash are shown below:

  • What is cash management?
  • What does the cash flow terminology mean?
  • Invoice queries
  • Factors causing cash flow problem to SMEs
  • Asset finance terminology
  • Credit control process flow
  • Finance for equipment
  • What are important factors in choosing a bank?
  • The benefits of having a bank account
  • Sales invoice and cash invoicing
  • The impact of lacking loan finance for small business
  • How do you manage receivables and credit functions?
  • How long does it take to secure funding venture capital?
  • Factors to consider when choosing type of finance
  • How to control debtors for SMEs?
  • How to manage cash shortage?
  • What are the ways of securing funding for business?

Do you have any to add?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Post Business Plan Preparation - What Next?

After you have prepared your business plan, what do you do with it?

Some business owners may file the business plan away, others correctly use it in the management of the business.

The purpose of the business plan is for it not only to be a 'live' document that is updated to reflect changes in the business, but also to be a target against which actual results (financial and non financial) are measured. If the business is well controlled any changes to the business plan should be minor and reflect on going operational changes in the business. Should a complete re-write of the plan be necessary, it may be indicative that controls within the business are inadequate.

Tips: Take control of your business, review your business plan regularly and update as necessary.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Imperial weights and measures

Some members of the UK business community have been upset during recent years over the decision by the European Commission to impose metric measurements throughout the community.

That decision has now been reversed and small businesses can now legally sell in imperial units (pounds, ounces, pints etc) and well as in the metric equivalents if desired. The 2010 deadline for full conversation has now been abandoned.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Control of Working Capital in Small Business

The importance of controlling working capital becomes evident to many business owners only when cash flow is negative and little or no cash is freely available to sustain day to day operations.

To address this situation the reaction may include the robust chasing of all receivable overdues and the delaying of payment to creditors for as long as possible. Work to perhaps reduce inventory levels may be undertaken, but this may not immediately reflect in improving the cash position.

The SME business owner should take steps to safe guard the business position. Plan to avoid cash flow shortages and implement those plans. If the work is outside the skill set of the small business owner - seek professional help and protect your business.

Related Topics
The Benefits of Using a part time FD
Manage your Cash

Saturday, September 15, 2007

DAW Consulting Forum

The DAW Consulting Forum is now live. It is F-R-E-E to join. Seek help or offer business advice to others, advertise your business, and more....

Register Here

Friday, September 14, 2007

Business Mentoring

For the SME (small business) owner what are the benefits of having a mentor?

How does the SME business owner choose a mentor and how why can a mentor be so important to your business?

If you are a business owner you may from time to time yearn for some guidance to help overcome an immediate or long term issue. A business mentor should offer the experience, independence and committment to provide help in overcoming such concerns through an ability to analyse, evaluate, communicate and motivate the business owner.

Read more on business mentoring.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Financial Planning - Cost Reduction

If the call goes out to 'cut costs' for the next financial planning period , consider the impact that across the board cost reductions may have to achieving the strategic goals for the business.

Tip: Avoid cost reduction in strategically important resources. Consider long term as well as short term goals.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The 7 Golden Rules of Business Cash Flow

Manage your Business Cash Flow.  For tips, advice and how tos visit www.smebusinesscashflow.com
There are many aspects impacting on your business cash flow. However always remember CASH is the lifeblood of your business and every effort should be made to protect your business cash flow.

The 7 golden rules to adopt in control of your cash are:
1 Know your Cash Balance at all times
Sounds obvious but not always actioned by business owners

2 Forecast your Future Cash Flows
Maintain a rolling forecast of your future business cash flow and measure actual results against the forecast and understand reasons for any variance from plan.

3 Take action
Corrective actions should be taken, if possible, to eliminate any variation from forecast.

4. Arrange finance
Do not overstretch your cash position through non financing of capital items

5. Rent not Buy
Do not buy if a renting option is available

6. Manage Your Overheads
Do not waste your cash resource through overspending on overheads. Use immediately what you buy, do not tolerate slow moving materials.

7. Manage your Receivables
Be proactive and avoid slow payers and bad debts.

Business Control

The communication channels between the business owner and the accountant may not adequately satisfy the concerns and frustrations experienced by both parties.

The business owner may feel inferior arising out of a poor understanding of accounting terminology, accounting systems or legal responsibilities; whilst the accountant may forever be awaiting responses to queries and consequently reacting to situations and forced to complete work immediately prior to the deadline.

In this environment the business bookkeeper may be able to resolve some issues but if deep seated concerns exist that distract from the growth of the business, then professional advice should be sought.

A simple exercise is to check if you are REALLY in control of your business.

Do you know understand all the numbers in your Balance Sheet? Are reasons for lower profits or poor cash flow known?

Take the free Business Health Check today.

There is nothing to lose but much to gain.

If you require further help in this matter please contact DAW Consulting.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Showcase Study

The National Business 2 Business Centre recently featured the work undertaken with DAW Consulting Limited. Read the press release here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

E-business Research Project

David Willetts was interviewed (8 August 2007) by Wu Lu a student of Warwick University, UK.

The subject was the adoption of e-business by SME professional service businesses.

Wu Lu who was sponsored by the NB2BC commented, "Thank you very much for responding to the Interview about the E-business Adoption in Professional Service SMEs. The information you provided is really appreciated for my research."

Monday, August 06, 2007

Discover 7 Principles to Good Budget Preparation

Many business owners may be required, perhaps by a third party or as part of the business internal control measures, to prepare financial forecasts.

This may be a daunting task to some, but for organizations that do control the performance of the business the exercise will be part of normal routines and probably completed with little difficulty.

When preparing a budget the following 7 points are worthy of note:

Plan the exercise
Set a timetable and involve all appropriate staff within the organization and communicate the responsibilities each will have in the preparation of the budget. They will then have ownership for their department.

Remember the Business Strategy
The budget should be a ‘measurement’ and reflect the progress made in implementing the business strategy. The goals may be set, the strategy implementation process commenced and the budget should flow to indicate in financial terms whether the business is on course to achieve the financial goals set. Linking the budget to the business strategy will ensure planned actions will stretch the business resources but remain realistic.

Past Performance is irrelevant
Remember the budget is a financial forecast of the impact future actions will have on the business and whilst past results may be of passing interest, it is what is done in the immediate future that is important.

Analyze the Risk
The business should understand the risks in achieving the budget and have a fallback position should risks materialize.

What is included?
A budget should be more than just a sales and profit forecast. A cash flow forecast and Balance Sheet are as important as the revenue numbers and should not be ignored.

Upon completion of the budget, review, check and amend as necessary the assumptions made and the numbers.

Be in Control of the Process
Effectively manage the budget preparation process and do ensure all budget owners adopt a consistent approach and fully justify all sales and expenditure proposals.

For more helpful hints and tips for the business owner visit the DAW Consulting website.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Thursday, August 02, 2007


7 principles to follow when undertaking a MBO or MBI.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Xin Wang - E-business Interview

Xin Wang and David Willetts
Xin Wang, a Postgraduate of Warwick University and studying e-business management, interviewed David Willetts today on his experiences in implementing e-commerce into his businesses.

The interview contributed towards the project work which has been overseen by Mark Bonnett of NB2BC.

Originally from Tianjin, China, Xin has been in the United Kingdom six years and plans to return to her home country upon completion of her studies.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dudley Business Club

As Vice Chair of the Dudley Business Club it is a privilege to welcome guest speakers to the monthly meetings.

In September it will be no different. Martin King-Turner from the National Business 2 Business Centre, based at Warwick University, will share with members and guests details of all the free IT services offered to the SME business owner by his organisation.

Martin will be joined by Jo Cameron, a star from the BBC TV series 2 'The Apprentice'. Now a Midlands based entrepreneur and TV personality, Jo will talk about her business experiences and her latest business venture.

An evening not to be missed.

Booking Form HERE

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Business Turnaround

Business turnaround and transformation are accepted as part of normal business life. Hence the need for business owners to understand turnarounds and transformations in order to face the global market challenges is paramount.

Read article on Business Turnaround

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Discover Why Businesses Change

Many businesses operate with little or no strategy to avoid problems and create value in the organization. This will happen in good times as well as bad and will possibly result from a belief that:

- It is not broke so don't fix it
- There is no competition the business is in a niche
- The business cannot make changes there are no in-house skills capable of manageing the change
- Soon it will be someone else's problem; the business owner is retiring
And so on

Such organisations generally adopt a reactionary position to business life; the organisation fails to take business planning seriously and is focused on resolving current issues than establishing a mechanism to allow problems to be anticipated and actioned prior to becoming an issue. The import of this can be found when comparing organizations that:
- gain year on year success
- attract the most skilled staff
- train staff in new skills
- have set their goals and know how they are to be achieved

Read 'Discover 10 Reasons Why Businesses Implement Change' and guage what changes will occur in your business, if any?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Enterprise Conference - Wolverhampton

The Enterprise Conference, supported by the Wolverhampton Education Business Partnership, was held at the Molyneux stadium, Wolverhampton on 11th and 13th July. Fifteen groups of students from Highfields Science Specialist School were challenged to create an innovative household product, prepare an outline business plan and present their business idea to judges.

David Willetts of DAW Consulting was invited along as one of the judges and was amazed at the knowledge and skills demonstrated by the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2007

DAW Consulting gains approval

DAW Consulting Ltd an approved supplier to West Midlands Business Link
DAW Consulting Limited has been approved to supply business services to West Midlands Business Links.

Professional competency in the delivery of business services

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Business Help

Just starting in business or an owner who runs an established business. From time to time you may need professional help and advice to help resolve problems and create value for your company.

Free articles, tips and help to allow you to control your business are available at www.dawconsulting.co.uk

Specific areas of interest include: Business Planning, Strategy, Cash Flow and Accounting.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Are Your Financial Skills Adequate to Meet Your Business Needs?

Business owners must accept from starting up their business they hold responsibility for the financial well being and development of the business.

The business owners are expected immediately to be capable of resolving all business concerns in an expert and efficient manner. Some business owners may be adept at handling different problems, but for many it would be unreasonable to assume they have acquired sufficient skills to address the commercial issues.

This is particularly true in the area of finance.

The result is that:
- an inadequate and incomplete attempt at addressing the financial concerns is undertaken
- the financial issues absorb an ever increasing amount of time
- the business owner works increasingly outside his/her area of expertise, adding little value to the business
- the control over the business wanes
If these symptoms are recognized seek expert financial help to refocus your business, relieve the anxiety and avoid your business becoming out of control.

Discover the benefits of engaging a part time FD. Resolve your problems and create wealth for your business.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Profit and Loss Battleground

All businesses must generate profit and positive cash flow to survive. However, many small and medium sized business owners (SME) do not appreciate the impact their day to day actions have on their business performance.

Often it is not one single event that may put at risk the business, but rather small errors frequently repeated, that in isolation may be unimportant but compounded have a dramatic impact on the long term business prospects.

One single event is identifiable and corrective action may be easily taken. Many small detrimental actions are perhaps accepted as 'custom and practice' of the business, but the harmful effect may not be realised until it may be too late.

If you are a business owner and would like help to check the health of your business - How Much You are in Control the click here.

For an easy guide to the positive and negative factors affecting your profit visit The Profit and Loss Battleground.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

Factors That Determine Business Success

Have you considered what factors determine entrpreneurial success?

As a business person you will want to succeed, but what are the important drivers that, if followed, create the business wealth?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Quality Management System - Implementation Mistakes

Are you about to implement a quality management system (QMS) in your business? If so avoid some of the common mistakes.

Read ' Discover 10 Most Common Mistakes When Implementing a Quality Management System '

If you need help with your quality management system implementation then contact DAW Consulting today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Learn How a Mentor Can Help You

Often business owners attend training courses and may be:
- Coached
- Taught
- Counselled

They may leave the event full of enthusiasm to put into practice the knowledge they have gained.

However, the eagerness to implement change quickly disappears and old routines and procedures return producing similar results to those prior to the training.

Why should this be?

One should consider the situation the business owner will find himself/herself in. The comfort of the classroom in being told what should be done is very different from understanding how to and having the courage to implement change.

The coach, teacher or counseller may start the change process, however, a mentor may be required to successfully complete the initiative.

In the classroom the emphasis is different from that of the workplace and upon return to the business, the owner will require a different set of values from those of the classroom if success is to be achieved.

This is particularly evident in areas of:
- focus
- skill transfer
- goals
- learning environment

A mentor will be able to take the educational aspects of classroom work and help the owner to convert enthusiasm for change into reality. A mentor will do this in the following ways:

The mentor will extend the knowledge and self confidence gained in the classroom through building new competencies, in order for the owner to comfortably take all required actions.

Skill Transfer
The mentor will replace the classroom mode of instruction and explanation by encouraging the owner to discover the solutions themselves.

Goal setting
Rather than set goals the mentor will work with the business owner on the goals that may already be in place.

Learning Environment
The teacher pupil relationship of one-way transfer of data to the pupil will be replaced by the mentor with a two-way alternative. This will encourage an open sharing of information environment in which the working relationship will flourish.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

7 Tips on Business Turnaround

When a business hits troubled times it is important for the business owner to take remedial action at the earliest opportunity.

What immediate actions shoud be taken?

1 Recognise the warning signs, the adverse trends in the key performance indicators
2 Identify the CAUSES of the concern not the EFFECTS
3 Plan the corrective action
4 Take action to remedy the identied causes to avoid the issue developing into a crisis
5 Review related systems and processes to ensure no issues exist elsewhere
6 Measure results post taking action
7 If matters do not improve and things become worrying appoint a business adviser to add to the skill set and help move the business forward

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Practising Certificate- CIMA

David Willetts awarded the CIMA Practising Certificate
David Willetts has been awarded a Paractising Certificate licensed by The Institute of Chartered Management Accountants (CIMA).

Thursday, May 31, 2007

How To Succeed in Business

In order to gain success in today's rapidly changing business environment, the business owner must continually rethink, plan and implement strategies that will give a competitive edge and meet the needs and expectations of customers.

Whilst small improvement changes in product or service are always desirable, it will be the result of radical actions that will benefit the business most in the long term.

A quote from David Lloyd George "Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is required. You cannot cross a chasm in two small jumps."

Some of the factors to be considered when setting a new business strategy include:

- Develop an entrepreneurial spirit
- Evaluate and implement appropriate change
- Move the business in a challenging and rewarding direction
- Introduce new products or services into new and existing markets
- Reduce the product/service introduction time
- Revisit systems and processes to ensure they are targetting 'world class' status
- Benchmark - Learn from others
- Focus on quality throughout the organisation
- Improve the internal and external communication channels
- Train staff as necessary
- Plan to Manage the Change

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Importance of Management Accounts to the Business Owner

Many small and medium sized business owners may not understand the import of preparing management accounts. Some consider they do not have time or the knowledge to prepare such data. Control of all business activity is of critical importance to enable good, timely and informed decision making to be made. The business owner should stay in control and the use of up to date management accounts data is an essential part of that process.

Friday, May 25, 2007

How Can A Business Consultant Help Your Organisation

When a business is starting, growing or simply implementing change, one of the best ways to address the challenges is to hire a consultant. Consultants are brought into companies that are in need of a helping hand during times of trouble or opportunity. The growing business of consulting is used by thousands of companies a year, ......

Read more

Thursday, May 24, 2007

No Robust Business Strategy - Enforced Change?

Discover 10 Reasons Why Businesses Implement Change

Many business owners do not have business goals or business strategy but would rather continue adopting past business thinking, without recognition of the fast changing business environment in which they work. However, things do go wrong and business change may become inevitable.

Do you have a business strategy? Are you in control of your business and does your management team support your plans?

Should you implement business saving strategies or wait for others to force change?

Read more on why businesses are forced to implement change.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Business Consultant

When hiring a business consultant it is important to ensure the consultant is knowledgeable, able to work with the management team and be able to understand the causes of problems and effectively communicate solutions.

Many business consultants possess skills that are transferrable across industries. In many instances this affords the client the opportunity of 'breaking away' from unrewarding customs and practice of their industry through gaining an insight into how successful businesses operate. This learning process, the understanding of how others create value in today's business environment, should be invaluable in moving your business forward.

Learn more about business consultants.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Yorkshire's Voice

A new business website and David Willetts of DAW Consulting was asked to contribute business articles. Check out the site here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How Good is Your Finance Director?

As the business owner your Finance Director should be helping you in the management of your business, but how effective is the position holder?

How does your Finance Director rate?

Ask YOURSELF the following questions:

1. Is MY Finance Director the first person I refer to when I need to discuss issues?
2. Does MY Finance Director prepare accounts and other management information in a timely and understandable manner?
3. Does MY Finance Director communicate well and in a timely manner with other directors and members of staff to avoid surprises?
4. Is MY Finance Director pro-active in the decision making process?
5. Is MY Finance Director respected by his/her peers?
6. Is MY Finance Director actively assisting ME in developing the strategy of the business?
7. Is MY Finance Director’s relationship with banks, investors, auditors, customers, suppliers and other third parties built on respect and trust?
8. Does MY Finance Director behave ethically in all business relationships?
9. Does MY Finance Director research and fully evaluate issues prior to taking investment and strategy decisions?
10.Is MY Finance Director committed to his/her Continual Professional Development (CPD)?
11.Does MY Finance Director train others in understanding the import of good financial management within the business?
12.Does MY Finance Director seek ways to continually improve business systems, procedures and practices?

If you have answered NO to just one question you will be managing an organization where improvements can be made.

If you need help with this or any other business matter contact David Willetts at DAW Consulting.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Accounting Terminology and the Business Owner

Often the terms and acroymns used in accounting may confuse and mystify the business owner. As a consequence inappropriate decisions may from time to time be taken. Accounting Terminology and the Business Owner gives definitions to a few of the common terms used.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What is The Most Important section of a Business Plan?

Initially you may think all parts of your business plan are important. To some degree this is the case. However, if the purpose of preparing your plan is to attract investors or to gain the confidence of others in the future of your business, then it is critical that the reader's attention is gained, and retained, throughout the reading of the document.

Consequently, the Executive Summary will most probably be the first section of the plan to be read, and it should therefore be written in an informed and interesting manner to encourage the reader to read more.

The Executive Summary should be succinct, incorporate the highlights of the plan so that the reader will gain an understanding of what the business does, how it proposes to operate in the future and the potential financial rewards.

It is important to remember the section is a summary of the whole future business, and is to 'whet the appetite' of the reader to find out more.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Business Plans - Who Needs Them?

Often a business plan is prepared at the request of a third party, typically at a time of distress or fund raising.

Should this be the case in your business the import of having setting strategy, translating strategy into a financial evaluation with timings and the ability to measure actual performance against plan will be lost.

A business plan, and its execution, should be an integral part of the business thinking; and not considered only relevant when its preparation is demanded by interested third parties.

Circumstances continually change, and as a consequence the business plan may need revision, and should, therefore, become a living document.

Third parties who may have an interest in your business plan include banks, investors, a buyer of your business, grant provider, joint venture partner, employees.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Change Management

What are the essential characteristics of a change management process?

It may be simply stated as moving the business forward through a structured implementation of new methods of working and behaviour that create value and are embraced by employees and stakeholders.

Why change current practices?

Usually the actual financial and/or forecast position dictates that a different way of working is necessary if the business is to survive. The development of new strategies to combat a downturn in business fortunes will be required together with robust plans for their implementation.

Beware! Success may not materialise unless all appropriate people are supportive of the change and participate in the implementation.

Should you require help with your change management programme contact David Willetts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Short History of Management Consulting

Ever wondered how management consulting started? This article outlines its roots and the forms it takes today. Learn more about management consulting.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Dudley District Business Club

At the April 2007 Annual General Meeting of the Dudley & District Business Club, David Willetts was elected as Deputy Chairman.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Do You Have a Business Plan?

A plan may be prepared for different reasons. May be the first exposure to preparing such a document for the business owner is a request from a bank or investor in the business. Consequently there is a tendency to view the document as a one-off exercise for use by third parties.

A business plan against which to measure actual performance should be considered an invaluable guide to identify areas for improvement and pro-actively take action to achieve the plan results.

Recent UK research indicates 46% of small and medium sized business owners have a strategy for their business but no written business plan and 9% of owners admit to no strategy and no plan. It is rather like taking a journey, not recognising the hazards on the way to avoid them and not knowing where you have arrived if you arrive at all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

10 Common Business Plan Mistakes

The importance of preparing credible business plans should not be under estimated. However, there are frequent mistakes found in business plans that may have detrimental impacts on the business.

Ten of the common business plan mistakes are:

1. Projections are over ambitious
2. Poor market research into the acceptance of the product/service in the marketplace
3. Timing plans for product/service concept, development, introduction not robust
4. Inadequate skills planned to support proposed business growth
5. Incomplete financial forecasts
6. Financial forecasts do not reflect the plan narrative
7. Insufficient funding forecast for short term and long term business growth
8. Omission of key information
9. The business plan is too long or too short
10. The business owner does not 'own' the plan. The document may be prepared by the accountant but the detail should be understood and supported by the business owner.

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Fiscal Year in UK

6th April is the start of a new fiscal tax year in the UK. Several tax increase come into effect affecting individuals and small and medium sized business. For small businesses the rate of corporation tax is increased to 20% on the first 300000 GBP profit and the employer's national insurance contribution is now 12.8% of employees earnings.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Benefits of a Finance Director in a Small Business

There are several benefits a finance director can give to a business owner. If a part time finance director is appointed the cost advantage is attractive, without the loss of the available skill set, should it be required at a future time.

The finance director should also:

· Release the owner from financial management of the business, enabling more time for the owner to work developing the business

· Provide control over the business finances, implementing adequate controls, preparing results and reporting to the Board

· Become actively involved with the management of the business

· Liaise with financial institutions, and other stakeholders

· Mentor the business owner as required

· Ensure modern business practices are followed

The Changing Role of the Finance Director in Small Business

The role of the finance director continues to change and different work aspects may exist for the finance director dependent upon sector and company size.

In small businesses it is not uncommon for a part time finance director to be appointed, with a brief to manage the finance function, prepare accounts and reports and generally be a mentor to the business owner. When a business is growing it may be financially restricted and unable to afford the services of a full time finance director, indeed in such circumstances it may be unlikely that sufficient work would exist to occupy an incumbent on such a basis.

Read More.

Barriers to a Business Turnaround

A business turnaround may be inevitable to ensure survival. The business may be in decline or simply out of control, with many opportunities to add value missed.

Business owners have an understandable aversion to asking for help in managing their organisation. This may be due to:
• Embarrassment at the perceived failure of the owner in the eyes of others
• Reluctance to accept that the business does need help
• Inability to identify warning signs
• Fear that their own position may become untenable
• An attitude of ‘ma┼łana’

When is the best time for a business owner to seek expert help with a business turnaround?

It will never be too early to supplement skill sets that may be lacking in an organisation, but act before it is too late. Regain control of your business – be proactive and seek professional help with your business turnaround.

10 Steps to a Successful Business Turnaround

10 Tips on How To Manage The Receivables

1. Be proactive – actively chase all outstanding debt and adopt a structured process
2. Invoice the correct selling price, quantity and tax amount
3. Ensure the invoice address is correct
4. Document your credit control policy and procedures
5. Issue a copy of your terms and conditions of sale, including your credit control policy, to customers and seek a signed acceptance by the customer of the terms.
6. Credit check all prospective customers
7. Set credit limits for all accounts
8. Check that the value of all new sales orders received will not exceed the customer’s credit limit
9. Raise sales invoices promptly
10. Review all outstanding debt on an on-going basis, and take recovery action when necessary

Manage Your Business Cash Flow

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Business Turnaround

There are occasions when a business may enter a period of decline. If the downward trend is not recognised at an early stage and corrective action taken, the business owner may have to seek, or be forced to engage, an expert to oversee a business turnaround initiative.

Action taken at an early stage in the decline phase will undoubtedly be less painful for the business owner, both from the workload and finance impact.

Should the decline reach a stage when concerns are raised by investors or financial institutions, it may be that the third party appoint its own business turnaround expert in order to protect it's interests.

When a business turnaround professional is appointed, what steps are taken to ensure a turnaround success?

Read more on the actions taken in the business turnaround process.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Financial Plans

There may be a desire to develop a financial forecasting model, using spreadsheets, on cost grounds. Whilst the up-front investment price of a proprietary financial forecast model will be avoided, care should be taken to ensure the total cost, including your own time, of developing and updating your own model does not exceed that of purchasing proprietary software.

Remember a financial forecast including profit and loss, balance sheets, cash flow, and funds flow is a complex model and will require much time to develop and test.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What is a Consultant?

A consultant is a person, either working independently or with others, who sell professional advice. It is common to find that each consultant will have an area of specialism and will be viewed as an ‘expert’ in that field.

Read more on a Consultant.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Business Performance Management

Businesses must generate profit which in turn can be substantially converted into cash. Cash is the lifeblood of the business and without strong profits the future funds available for re-investment will be diminished.

Many business owners believe more sales generate more wealth for the business, however, the detrimental impact more sales may have on the business may not be understood. Higher receivables, higher stocks, overtrading all consume cash and may jeopardise the business. The chart offers guidance on key everyday aspects of business life to help the business owner achieve better than break even.

Discover more on how you can improve your business performance mangement.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Business Strategic Planning - Do you Plan?

To achieve success it is essential for business owners to plan the direction in which they wish to take their business.

A clear business strategy is necessary to provide focus to achieve the owner's business and personal goals and more importantly identify how the strategic goals are to be achieved.

The business strategy should include:
- the direction that the business will take
- how it will develop
- the resources required to achieve the goals

and the business strategy must be relevant to the business core objectives remembering that the business strategy is an on-going process, to be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect the changing environment in which the business works.

If you would like to learn more visit the Business Strategy section on the DAW Consulting website.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Inheriting The Family Business

Imagine you will soon inherit the family business. Will it be a gift or a burden? Are you equipped with the necessary skills to successfully carry on the business or would you prefer to let the opportunity of business owner pass?

How do you commmunicate your wishes to the family without upset? Read more.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Joomla! Open Source Presentation

David Willetts was invited by Open Advantage Birmingham, United Kingdom to present at their Open source software event on 28th February 2007.

The presentation centred on the journey taken in the development of the DAW Consulting website and the part Joomla! has played - from purpose written software; to the postnuke platform and finally using Joomla!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Top Tip - Inventory Control

Control your stock levels at all times. Too much stock and the business will be absorbing cash in current assets that may not be quickly converted into re-saleable product, and too little stock may result in missed sales opportunities.

Manage your Business Cash Flow.

Discover the Best and Worst Business Exit Strategies

Generating value in a business is a desirable objective; however, extracting the value for the benefit of the business owner can be undertaken in different ways. Plan your desired exit option.

Read the full article here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Do You Achieve Maximum Benefit From Your Accounting System?

The business owner may lack reliable data on which to take informed decisions. However, in many cases financial accounting systems are used, but unfortunately not always in a manner designed to achieve maximum benefits.

It may be that the accounting system is used for accumulating data to form the basis of annual accounts, with maybe some integration with sales ledger (receivables) and purchase ledger (payables).

If this is the case in your business, or even if you generate monthly management accounts from your accounting system, step back and consider how much more valued information your system could give you at little or no further cost.

The accounting system should be viewed as an integral part of your systems and not considered a stand alone system that only benefits the accountant or bookkeeper.

If you need help in appreciating how much more benefit you can derive from your accounting system contact DAW Consulting for a free consultation.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

DAW Consulting - Testimonials

Read the latest testimonials for David Willetts here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Introducing DAW Consulting Limited

DAW Consulting Limited is a private limited company incorporated in England in 2002. It was established by David Willetts to provide part time finance director, business consultant, mentor and NED services to business owners.

DAW Consulting employs professional qualified accounting and senior managerial staff and works with business owners to improve business performance, profit and cash flow.

Specific areas of interest that may be covered include start up, business development, business turnaround, accounting, business strategy, planning and business exit.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Enterprise Management Incentive Scheme (EMI)

Qualifying business owners in the United Kingdom can offer an incentive to staff through the Enterprise Management Incentive Scheme (EMI). Discover the features and tax advantages to be gained.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Business Consultant

A DAW financial management consultant will work with the business owner to identify and deliver solutions that are robust and assist the business in implementing its business strategy . Learn more about the DAW Consultant.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Discover the Top 10 Tips - Business Plans

Discover the TOP 10 tips on how to prepare your business plan. Your business plan should provide you with a blueprint for the operation of your business and help you monitor progress against your objectives. Learn how.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Manager's Club

DAW Consulting has joined The Manager's Club; a business resource that allows managers and owners to share their vies on all things business.

Read David Willetts' published articles

Friday, January 26, 2007

Why Mentors are so Important

Many of us will recall people who have offered information and advice to help us work through problems in the past.

We may not have considered that person to be our mentor simply because we did not call it mentoring at the time. Our parents would be perhaps our first mentors but now we are business owners do we still not have a need for advice and guidance to overcome business problems?

Why mentors are important.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

10 Tips How to Avoid Financial Disaster

The business continues to grow, new customers gained, orders are taken for the next generation of products that will secure the future – or is the future clouded with some nagging uncertainty? On the surface all is fine but elsewhere things are not happening in the way they did a short time ago.

But what steps can you take to give you greater comfort?

Read 10 tips on how to avoid a financial disaster for your business.

Business Control, cash management, honesty, re-engineer your processes .......

Friday, January 19, 2007

DAW Consulting - A Case Study

Open Advantage, a Birmingham UK independently funded vendor-neutral centre specialising in Open Source software, is dedicated to helping business get the most out of Information and Communication Technology using Open Source software.

The DAW Consulting website was written using Joomla Open Source software with the help of Open Advantage and NB2BC, based at Warwick University campus.

A case study has now been written detailing the history behind the launch of the third generation DAW Consulting website and can be read on the Open Advantage site.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Financial Management Consultant

DAW Consulting will work with the manangement team to identify and deliver data on which robust decisions can be taken. As Financial Management Consultant, DAW Consuting will assist your business in implementing your business strategy through agreeing functional and individual targets and a timing plan for implemenation.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Actions to Take to Develop Your Business Exit Strategy

As a business owner if you wish to maximize the value of your business at your targeted exit date a Business Strategy must be formulated, implementation of plans agreed and implemented. You will be advantaged to demonstrate a proven and improving track record of success to substantiate your stated business value, rather than only relying upon anecdotal evidence of future expectations.

Read the article.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Does Your Finance Director Meet Your Expectations?

The role of the part time Finance Director or the full time equivalent may vary from organization to organization.

Preparing and reporting the financial numbers may be an obvious responsibility of the FD, but as a business owner what do YOU expect from your part time or full time Finance Director?

Do you know what you should expect from your Finance Director?

The free to use check list will allow you to see if your part time finance director or full time FD is meeting the responsibilities of the position.

Finance Director Check List

"DAW Consulting providing part time finance director, financial management consulting, mentor and NED services to help business owners improve business performance, profitabilty and cash flow."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Where to find a Part time Finance Director?

Visit DAW Consulting for more information on employing a part time FD.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How a Part Time Finance Director Can Help a Failing Business

The business environment will continually change and the role of the part time Finance Director must also change to meet the new demands of business.

Whilst it is only recently that employing a part time Finance Director has come more into vogue that in itself reflects the changing needs of business.

The part time Finance Director is expected to be more than a keeper of accounts but also to be an integral part of the management team contributing to the success of the business, much as a full time finance director would.

Typically this may include active participation in planning, strategy development, fund raising, management information systems, quality management systems, preparing for exit, training and so on and will afford the part time finance director the opportunity of working with his/her peers on making good informed decisions that will improve business performance and profitability.

For the owner of a troubled business without in-house financial expertise, a qualified part time finance director should provide the skill to help address the most common causes of business failure, particularly when the business owner is too involved with daily problems to objectively recognize that the business may have entered a period of potential terminal decline.

What are the common characteristics of business failure? How can a part time Financial Director help?

Some businesses fail due to exceptional circumstances, however, the more frequently found causes of failure include:

- No expert help readily available to advise the business owner.
The owner may have previously resisted appointing a mentor or part time finance director, consequently the owner’s skill set may be inadequate to address the problems of the business and a deteriorating business position may become exacerbated. A ‘problem denial’ phase may be experienced, however, it is rarely recognized that the cost of being proactive is far less than the cost of re-acting to problems.
- Debtors are slow in making payments.
Good cash management is jeopardized and the business owner must devote more time to cash collection activities or the risk of bad debts will become real.
- High staff turnover.
If good staff cannot be retained operational costs will increase and the lack of work continuity may adversely impact the business performance. Should the reason for high staff turnover not be fully understood by the owner, the trend should be taken as an indicator that areas for improvement exist within the organization.
- Lost customer accounts.
If customer accounts are lost and the reasons why are not established and corrective action taken, the business will suffer a continual downward trend. Often losing a customer is viewed as an expected event.
- Selling price pressure.
Competitive pressure on selling prices will always be evident, however, the business may fail to demonstrate the uniqueness of its proposition and consequently be only able to sell on price. In such circumstances the business must reduce its cost base to compensate for the lost revenue or suffer decline; thus reducing the value of the business.
- Reluctance to change – lack of skills.
The present technological based environment in which businesses operate dictates that the owner must keep abreast of new technologies and train staff to meet new challenges. Often there is inadequate training of staff and a reluctance to acquire external expert skills that lead to long term concerns.
- Poor management of Working Capital.
In addition to increasing debtors, inadequate control of inventory and other current assets will increase costs of the business and reduce the liquidity of the organization.
- Business growing too fast.
Fast growth in business may create a dangerous situation unless adequate liquidity and skills are present within the business to be able to discharge all increased commitments efficiently. Often the business owner fails to understand the interdependencies between the functions within the business. Rapid sales growth, unless managed and all business functions adequately resourced to meet the increase, may potentially cause failure in the business.

The qualified part time finance director will be able to work with the business owner and contribute in:
- taking a proactive approach in the management of the business
- evaluating the business risks
- taking responsibility for the preparation of management information
- and taking informed decisions based upon fact.

The role of the Part time Finance Director will vary in different environments, however, the import and expectation that the incumbent is keeping abreast of changing legislation and management trends, enhancing the appropriate skill sets of staff and is an active team player will be of great importance.

The business owner can now be comforted that professional accounting bodies mandate that members do carry out an ongoing programme of Continual Professional Development (CPD), which helps the qualified part time finance director to meet the needs and expectations of the business owner and further enhances the value of the part time Finance Director within small and medium sized organizations.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Role of the Part Time Finance Director

The business environment will continually change and the role of the Part time Finance Director must also change to meet the new demands of business.

Indeed it is only in recent years that employing a Finance Director in a part time capacity has become more prevalent, and in itself reflects the changing needs of business.

The part time Finance Director is expected to be more than a keeper of accounts but also to become an integral part of the management team contributing to the success of the business.

Typically this may include active participation in planning, strategy development, fund raising, management information systems, quality management systems, preparing for exit, training and so on and will afford the part time finance director the opportunity of working with his/her peers on making good informed decisions that will improve business performance.

The role of the Part time Finance Director will vary in different environments, however, the import and expectation that the incumbent is keeping abreast of changing legislation and management trends, enhancing appropriate skill sets and is an active team player has never been so great.

The business owner can be comforted that professional accounting bodies mandate that members do carry out an ongoing programme of Continual Professional Development (CPD), which helps the qualified part time finance director to meet the needs and expectations of the business owner.