I’ve never been interested in fishing. Hours sat by the side of a river or lake waiting for something to happen.

But I understand those who love it.

Apparently, there are a lot of benefits from fishing. More Vitamin D from being outside, concentration, reduction in stress, social engagement with other anglers, self-esteem from achieving personal goals and of course the physical benefits.

But perhaps more than anything, it’s the break from the day-to-day pressures of life. Time to think. Or maybe not think. Or maybe for your subconscious (your back brain) to do some thinking and work through problems and strategies whilst the conscious part (your front brain) concentrates on catching fish.

Over the past few weeks as part of the BackleyBlack Mindsetting programme, we’ve been covering the different aspects of “Deeper thinking” including:

Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover the fifth section of the programme, analysis and reflection.

I hope our weekly emails have been thought-provoking and are helping you in your journey from wherever you are to where you want to be.

But where exactly are you? And where is it that you want to go?

Several of my previous emails have referred to the strategic planning process which boils down to:

  • Where do you want to be in (say) 3 years?
  • What’s in it for you (i.e., your motivation)?
  • Where are you now?
  • What do you need to do to get from where you are now to where you want to be?
  • What’s stopping you?

You can do this in different levels of detail. You can work it out on your own or you can book a Strategic Planning Day with a facilitator from A4G and let us help.

Of course, most of what needs to be discussed and considered is specifically relevant to you. But ultimately there are always external questions which will impact on what you are trying to do. Since the end of the second world I doubt that there has ever been a time when external factors were more prevalent. They include:

  • Will a new COVID variant find a way round the vaccines and throw us all back into lockdown?
  • Once restrictions have ended, to what degree will companies want to return to the office?
  • Will we experience a mini boom?
  • Will it be followed by an economic crash?
  • Will one or more of the new crypto currencies become mainstream currencies or is it effectively a massive Ponzi scheme?
  • Will we have enough manual labour now that we aren’t part of the EU?
  • Is the current property price boom simply a bubble fuelled by the stamp duty exemptions?
  • Will Harry Kane ever get a winners’ medal of some kind? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

It’s beyond my crystal ball and PI insurance policy to speculate too much on any of the above (in print anyway). The point is that there is nothing you can do to affect any of these things, but most will have an impact on you.

But I will make one prediction that I am completely certain about. Next month, your turnover will be the lower of two things:

A. The total demand for your product or service from the people who consider themselves to be your costumers

OR

B. The total product you have available to sell. “Product” of course might be the items you sell or might be the labour that you have available (or a combination of the two).

Because we are all middlemen really. Buying someone else’s produce or labour, adding value to it in some way and selling it on. Even if you are a one-man band with no employees, the businessman in you is buying the labour of the employee in you and selling it on to someone else.

If A is more than B, you have unsatisfied customers and opportunity lost. If B is more than A particularly if you are in a service business, then you are inefficient and are not maximising profits.

So, the ideal position is for A to equal B. Happy customers and maximised profits.

Or is it?

Because as we all know, demand is not evenly spread. And in most businesses, it’s not easy to increase and decrease the supply of labour or product to match demand exactly.

At A4G of course all our team are salaried. We have two peaks and two dips during our year. The first peak is from late November through to the end of January as we get all the March year-end accounts finished in time for the Companies House deadline at the end of December and then of course tax returns in time for the January tax deadline.

We catch up a bit in February and then incoming work falls for a couple of months before starting to pick up in late April and getting busier throughout the Summer. A small Autumn dip occurs before the cycle begins again.

We’ve fine-tuned our strategy on this over the years. Audits tend to get scheduled in the quieter periods which clients like because they get done quicker. Internal projects are moved to the dips.

But its easy to get caught out. Lose one or two key members of staff or experience an unexpected peak in demand and work rises up through the organisation resulting in stressed managers and owners.

The trick I believe is to always be “slightly over-staffed”.

Yes, it’s slightly inefficient but let’s face it, if you have a quieter period, there are always tonnes of “important but not urgent” things that need doing in your business that will increase numbers of customers, make things more efficient or just free up a bit of your time.

And if you’re not “slightly over-staffed”, then when you get a busy period, some of your customers won’t be serviced properly, will get grumpy and may leave. The danger is that demand will fall, you’ll then reduce staff levels more and the cycle will repeat until eventually there is only you left!

If you agree and your aim is to be “slightly over-staffed”, the next few months is the time to do it. Furlough will be ending and there will sadly be plenty of people looking for work. Another batch of enthusiastic youngsters will be leaving school or college and there are lots of apprenticeship schemes to help you with the costs.

Big decisions will need to be made. Maybe it’s time to get the fishing rods out after all and get yourself some thinking time.

Have a good weekend.

Contact me today!

Malcolm Palmer

FCA

Managing Partner

01474 853856

Send me a message

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