Author: Admin

A new dawn for business

A few months ago (December to be exact), before covid was being talked about much, I put this phrase at the top of our website. I visit it again now in the light of the current global situation and pause for thought.

I believe that what is happening with I Cant Breathe has parallels in the new dawn for business, that is awaiting us.

Eventually i can’t breathe and hashtag BlackLivesMatter and related causes are all asking if we can have equity and fairness in society at every level. This call has been part of human discourse as far back as we can hazard a guess, and that call is STILL needing to be made now.

…there will be no peace until man gets justice, equal rights and justice.

Peter Tosh

Business will always ultimately boil down to people and human relationships, and our ability to harness the positive aspects of both, with be critical for all of us, moving into this brave future. This new dawn can be a herald for human endeavour, ingenuity, and desire for fairness.

If business is about who or what we can exploit, then ultimately the unfairness and inequality will just bite deeper as the world staggers forward. Those that have, will continue to feel the need to build higher and higher walls around themselves, as the only solution for the human tide battering at their gates.

I find this a terrible and wholly unnecessary scenario to face.

Imagine if everyone respected and cared about every other human being. This planet would be heaven on earth quite literally.

Lots of commentators have suggested that mankind finds itself at a fork in the road, and a part of all of us want things to just go back to how they were. This may not happen, and maybe it should not happen… and still we need to see the new way ahead.

Mankind must move forward together, that much is clear, but this can appear a bland statement until we realise that this can and must happen at every scale. Such movement will not be possible without trust, and trust is spawned from peace and justice, plain fairness..

As a white male living in a relatively prosperous country I’m consumed with the questions about what I can do for my family, my business and for our consultants. As consultants living in the west, we doubtlessly have some serious competition from very capable experts living in Asia, Africa and eastern European countries. Expertise that can be quite easily accessed online.

We also have a generation of children and young adults that need to be educated and given a chance to learn skills and get jobs in our new society. As a business I want to know how we can best help this.

Our New Dawn as a company, call it #TEENewDawn if you like, must do what it can to facilitate a new way of working from home, and a new way of offering the help and support that people need.

So we will soon be launching a new platform, that will help us help our customers in the best way possible. It’s going to take time to get it just right, but hopefully we can do our bit even if it is small.

Take care and keep positive.

New Dawn

The Joys of Working From Home.

My wife started working from home today and we’re all holding our breath to see how it goes. Did I say experiment? Unfortunately, this is no experiment, its no trial run, no “send it back if it doesn’t fit right…” It HAS to work for her and for the whole household. We’re going to be jammed in together for a while, closer than we’ve ever been and it has to work.

I’ve been working from home for over 16 years, I’m going to deeply miss the cafe and public library culture that has been a mainstay of my working experience for all that time. It’s going to be a big learning curve for us all. That curve will be unique for each and every one of us, the curve is dictated by the job you need to do, the location (house) you will be working in, and the people that you will be sharing that space with. But 3 things we all have in common: Efficiency, Effectiveness, Motivation, and Productivity. Productivity is arguably a function of all 3.

In moving from working in an office to homeworking you will have the opportunity to be much more productive. One of the first things you will notice is the decrease or increase in the interruptions you will experience in a day. School holidays have put me through this cycle many times, and its always difficult to adjust.

IF you are experiencing a higher level of interruptions (eg. from children being off school) maybe topics I have discussed in previous blogs about home working will help you. It’s why I wrote it after all…

In summary:

Time Box your days:

Open your calendar and map out your regular ‘slots.’ for example

  • “Every Wednesday between 9 – 11 am I will deal with invoices”
  • “4-5 every day I’ll do Social media”
  • Lunchtimes…
  • “2 pm every Wednesday and Friday walk the dog “

How to send a standard email on a regular basis

The school has asked us to send an absence email in every morning and People are asking how they can automate it.

DO NOT DO WHAT I DID AND ACCIDENTALLY SEND THEM AN EMAIL EVERY MINUTE! SORRY ADMIN 🙂 For testing PLEASE send it to yourself or another email address… then set it to once daily.

IF you use Microsoft Outlook at least here is a solution, using a little known feature of Office called FLOW..

First, you click on here: flow.microsoft.com You should see the above screen.

If you already pay for Microsoft office then use that account. If you have a Microsoft account maybe use the trial?

CLick on Create
Pick Scheduled Flow
Build the flow like this and press create
click New step

Type outlook into the search and select “Send an email”


Fill out your email something like this…


You’ve got some advanced options if you need them… I don’t.

Click Save then you can use the checker and the test to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes. Hope this helps.

If you use Gmail, an app called Boomerang may help

Every silver lining has a cloud

I would like to share a post that my friend wrote on Facebook yesterday. It so captures what I feel is also true. I hope you agree. Over to you Paloma x

I have been quietly connecting with the energies of this massive moment and many teachings are coming through.

I wasn’t sure if sharing my reflections publicly as I can feel there is an overload at the moment of people wanting to share information which I think is not helping much but something is really calling me to send my message across.

I see this as a “Blessing in Disguise”, even right now no many people can’t see it. The majority of the population of the planet are being called to go on a “collective retreat” and if you think about it it is actually AMAZING!!!

People are being forced to be away from the distractions of their daily life and that is going to make them to reflect quite deeply about their lives and the things they are happy about and the ones they are not. All of this is going to bring a massive collective healing and wake up moment.

Let’s say we have been asked to got into re-set mode, and the upgrading is inevitable.

Understandably, some people are going into fear and it doesn’t help to tell them to do not go into fear, that has never worked, in fact that will bring even more fear and more separation. The call here is to bring kindness and compassion into our lives and to see with love the ones that are going into fear. So we start to practice what we call the oneness as we can come closer to help each other.

It is not either about holding the space for others but about holding our own space, making sure it is strong enough (physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically) so hopefully will be like an inspiration for others or the spark that others may need to make the shift needed to move from fear into trust and love.

It is about walking the path we talk with humbleness and love.

It doesn’t help either to blame others external forces like government, politics, capitalism, pharmaceutic companies, we know well from where this is coming from and that is not the point now. Blaming others brings again more separation and we need exactly the opposite. Remember also that blaming is another type of fear (and when you blame you do not face).

Let’s also remember that everything that shows up into our world/reality it is just a reflection of ourselves and even you may find difficult to understand this, we asked for this (even it was at a very unconscious level), because this is helping us to Wake up.

This virus is our teacher right now and is calling us for action in mastering ourselves. So as soon we can connect with the teachings that is bringing us the quicker we will be able to transcend it.

So, the invitation is to connect with what is coming up for you right now, it is simple, as always – what is in your life that is TOXIC ?

It seems like we are being asked to do a BIG Spring Clean in our homes, the physical ones and the ones that are inside us, time to check in our thoughts, actions, food, habits, patterns, relationship, friends, jobs……EVERYTHING and start to take action to let go of anything that is not serving us anymore.

I actually feel very excited about all of this.

Let’s enjoy the ride!

Much love,

Our house is on fire…

The best ways to utilise Excel spreadsheets for accountancy and finance

When it comes to accounting and finance software, one platform that does not need any sort of introduction is MS Excel. Microsoft has created a number of different programs for individuals and businesses to use, and Excel – their spreadsheet software – is undoubtedly one of the most popular. However, simply installing Excel is not enough. You need to know how to use this platform effectively in order to get the best possible results. Read on to discover more…

Learning all of the important financial formulas

There are so many different formulas you can use on Excel, and so this is a great place to start! For example, you can use the debt ratio formula. This is the total amount of debt your company has in comparison with the assets you have. All you need to do here is divide the debt figure by the total assets figure, which is easy to do, as you just select the cells and use ‘/’ for the division sign. 

This is just one of many different functions you can use Excel for. For example, you can play around with loan lengths and interest rates by using the =PMT function. It really is worth taking the time to learn what all of the different shortcuts and functions mean, and you will then be able to make Excel work for you. 

Analyse financial data effectively

In your role as an accountant or financial advisor, you may be asked to evaluate data from one system to another. The perfect tool for this is VLOOKUP. This is a function that enables you to look for data and retrieve it from a certain column within a table. The formula you need is =VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, col_index_number, [range_lookup]) for the VLOOKUP function.

Familiarise yourself with Excel’s FV functions

finance report in excel

Future value (FV) functions make up a big family of different financial formulas that can be utilised on Excel. The most basic is future value of money. This is a concept that can be applied to business investments, such as an advertising campaign, as well as financial investments, for example, investing in the stock market. This is a growth projection based on assumed growth rate or initial investment amount, interest, and time.

Use pivot tables to manipulate client data

When you have a detailed and large set of data, using a pivot table is recommended because you will be able to manipulate this data with ease. These tables are interactive. They help you to assess data so that patterns can be detected and comparisons can be made. All you need to do is use the built-in PivotTable and PivotChart Wizard to get started, which can be found in the ‘Data’ menu. 

So there you have it: some useful tips that can help you to make the most of Microsoft Excel. If you have this software for spreadsheets as part of your MS Office package, then be sure to request Excel help to ensure you are making the most of everything that it has to offer.

Emails and the school run

“You can always tell when the father dressed them…” the number of times I’ve heard that expression.. Sometimes followed by a friendly smile, usually.  So what does it mean as a statement? Personally I find it very patronizing but I’m sure that this is not the intention most of the time.

Maybe I spent too much time thinking about business and work in the mornings, before sending her off to school. I should have made the rule for myself “No work before the school run…” focus on your main task. But sadly I didn’t make that rule. I wish I had. Not because her hair would have been any shinier (although it may well have been) but because it was a missed opportunity for the two of us to spend quality time and maybe we missed it a bit.

There’s ‘being there’ .. are you actually THERE with your child or merely in the same room. If you are thinking about work, writing an email, ‘researching’ Social Media or any of the other manifestations we call ‘work-related’… then you are NOT with your child, merely in the same space. You are inhabiting different intellectual landscapes and hence you can only share the experience of ‘being together and alone at the same time.’ Which in itself can be a very pleasant experience, but not that interactive visceral experience of parenting that maybe you feel you don’t get enough of.

Making more time

So that you have more time to dress your child properly or just ‘be there’, as a ‘stay at home worker parent’ you desperately need to get on top of how you deal with emails. I thought this would be such a good thing to talk about this week as we’re currently reworking our emailing system for the umpteenth time (more on that later)

Obviously every business is different when it comes to its use of emails, but I think a fairly simple rule can be applied. If you are spending large amounts of time writing emails to your clients, make sure that you are being paid for the job. By this I mean, don’t undervalue your time… It’s easy to think that your time isn’t so precious. IT IS, you only have this one life as far as we know and your time is as valuable as anyone else’s. Particularly when its time that is being traded as a parent. This childhood will be over so quickly.

Tips for Using Outlook to save time with your Emails

  • Use folders to arrange your emails
  • Turn off notifications – you don’t need them.
  • Rules are great for automating Outlook to do repetitive tasks such as moving emails to folders, mark certain senders as important and things like that.
  • Create custom emails and use them whenever you can. These custom emails can define a sales funnel, a problem resolution system, and a debt recovery system.


Custom emails

The approach you take depends largely upon your email and how you want them to look, but can be applied to any business that uses email.

new email with headerHere is my email when I open ‘New email’. I like to have a header and a signature file that includes a disclaimer at the bottom.

The aim is to automatically insert a chosen custom email text, change the name and insert the to: address with as little effort as possible.

Using Addins

bells and whistlesThis is an Outlook Addin that I used extensively for a year. It’s great for creating customized emails and with a little messing around you may find it does everything you want. We need a higher level of automation and it’s going to be more efficient to design our own email package.

We’re currently working on a new highly automated system based around Excel. Excel is a great platform to build a system around, ask hundreds of happy customers that we have created solutions for. So goodbye Bells&Whistles … YOU’VE GOT TO MOVE TO EAST!

E.A.S.T (Excel Automated Systems Toolkit)

save the email in msg format

If I take my carefully written custom emails and click SaveAs, selecting msg format, I can create a copy of that email that can then be opened, addressed and sent – simple.

The next phase of EAST is to use these messages in an automated emailing system controlled by Excel.

list of email messages

Here’s the list of standard emails I have so far, they work great for a business such as ours (an agency) so I’ll zip them up and post them on the blog when I’ve finished them.

Once you start using custom emails it will prove to be a vital step in running a business and being a parent at the same time 🙂

Loneliness – Dealing with the feeling of loneliness as a stay at home worker.

Starting Up A Business As A Stay At Home Dad. Part 8

I started this blog a few weeks ago, in the PRE-CORONAVIRUS days; do you remember those days? I started writing about the issues around the loneliness that can affect the work from home, and now it looks like LOTS more of you may be working from home for a while.

If so, this one is for you. If you’re not used to being on your own for long periods of time during the day let’s look at the best ways I’ve found over the years for dealing with it.

Importantly this is NOT a manual on how to survive virus epidemics or prevent infection etc, just some tips that have helped me.

1. Use technology to stay in touch and reduce loneliness

Hopefully, you will still be communicating with people, just maybe not in the same way as you’re used to. I’ve noticed that people who are very used to an office environment have to think twice before choosing to use Teams, SkypeWhatsApp or Zoom for their meetings. Maybe they don’t need to, but if you’re working from home the platforms mentioned above are great. We’ll discuss these in a different post some time. Do yourself a favour, install these apps on your phone on your PC by all means but don’t let them control your life. They can be great for informal chats as well as formal business chats. Depending on your colleagues/clients/friends sometimes a well-placed appropriate meme or emoji can put a smile on someone’s face and make a human connection.

We’re going to write a piece very shortly about how to tame your phone. Let YOU call the shots for a change 🙂

2. Get a dog, they’re great company

cute dog

A couple of years ago our daughter Lilia started asking if we could have a dog, she is totally crazy about them. Granny gave her a book with hundreds of photos of dogs in and she literally knows most of the breeds there are about.

I’d been brought up with dogs all my life but had had absolutely no ambition to own one until now. I LOVED having dogs as friends when I was a kid and it was suddenly something I really wanted for Lil to experience.  It wasn’t initially for me, it was for her and thankfully my wife was up for it too.  The decision had been made and we found our rescue mutt Gracie from a Cyrus adoption charity.

It took me a while after Gracie appeared to realize that I had been a bit lonely before she took up residence. She really is good company and although buying a mutt is a serious commitment. As a family, we’re so glad we made that decision. On a personal level, as a stay-at-home worker, being able to talk to someone during the day, even though she doesn’t always answer back, has really helped me stay sane.

The loneliness of working from home only really started to hit me when Lilia spent more time away from me than with me. At first, it was great to be able to give loads of time and effort to build the business up. With a laptop, you can work in a cafe, a library and they’re all good options. Which then raises the question about hardware and what you need to run that business successfully.

3. Tooling up – buying the right computer.

I generally find myself upgrading once a year, and in many ways, my purchase decisions are based upon the premise that there are business developments around the corner that I just don’t know about yet. I don’t know EXACTLY where the business is heading, because things happen, like Coronavirus that can throw things out. Or you find you’re suddenly running a massive database or something that you hadn’t allowed for. This happened to me 2 years ago, I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro and it was a great piece of hardware IMHO, but 4 months down the road I was running some big databases and the Surface Pro just wasn’t up to the job. Sadly, after a year of struggling, I passed it on to my wife Rose who thinks it’s great also. It does everything she needs as a Postgrad student, running Microsoft Office and web apps.

I meanwhile went and brought a ‘workhorse’ machine to run big software, and they don’t come better values than the PC Specialists . Their laptops are quite big, but they’re powerful and an excellent price. Check them out.

As time moved on, so did my requirements again. This week I purchased the Surface Pro 7 you see above. The spec on this machine is as low as I would want to go for my requirements. The only component I saved money on was the size of the SSD card. If I’m every storing more than 256GB of data on my SSD then I’ve got a problem. There are lots of features I really like about this machine, one of them being the lightness of weight so I can easily carry it around with me and visit friends and family on foot and still work from anywhere.

The i7 processor matched with a decent enough SSD to mean Windows and apps load nice and fast. I hate waiting for computers, its part of the reason why I specialize in making them run as fast as they can to do a job, we call it Automation of Microsoft Office. As I no longer run large databases and have automated many processes in a much more efficient way, I no longer need the ‘workhorse’ as much.  

4. Cloud it or Lose It

When working from home, you may not have the luxury of being to access the remote networked storage of a larger business. Your own business files are important, you put in the hours, so you need to do everything you can to keep your hard work safe. Store files and documents in the cloud and if you lose or get your laptop stolen/broken you won’t lose your business. You get loads of cloud storage when you get a subscription for Office 365. If you haven’t got one you should think about it.. PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy a ‘cheap’ version from eBay or such like, buy it from Microsoft and you know it will actually work and be legal.

The other advantage of using cloud storage is that you can log in anywhere and access your files and there are sharing capabilities too. This can be useful if you are visiting clients but don’t want to bring your laptop with you.

Therefore my main tips for working from home are:

  • Use tech to stay in touch with your friends and networks
  • Consider getting a dog (or use services like ‘Borrow my dog’)
  • Invest in the right laptop to enable you to take your work/business anywhere
  • Make sure your (digital) work/business is safe and backed up

If you read my previous articles or know anything about my business, you will know that one of my main motivations is efficiency. Being able to balance work and family life by doing things in the quickest yet most reliable way possible. This is why buying the Surface Tablet was also appealing for me as it has a Pen to accompany it…

I’m going to write about this in my next blog post. See you then I hope.

Starting Up A Business As A Stay At Home Dad. Part 7

Dealing with Loneliness of a stay at home worker.

I started this blog a few weeks ago, in the PRE CORONA days do you remember those days? Started writing about the issues around the loneliness that can affect the work from home, and now it looks like LOTS more, like LOTS more of you may be working from home for a while.

If so this one is for you. If you’re not used to being on your own for long periods of time during the day lets look at the best ways I’ve found over the years for dealing with it.

Importantly this is NOT a manual on how to survive SARS or prevent infection etc, just a chat about what helps.

1.Use technology to stay in touch

Hopefully, you will still be communicating with people, just maybe not in the same way as you’re used to. I’ve noticed that people who are very used to an office environment have to think twice before choosing to use Skype, WhatsApp or Zoom for their meetings. Maybe they don’t need to, but if you’re working from home the platforms mentioned above are great. We’ll discuss these in a different post some time. Do yourself a favor, install these apps on your phone on your PC by all means but don’t let them control your life. We’re going to write a piece very shortly about how to tame your android phone. Let YOU call the shots for a change 🙂

2.Get a dog-they’ve great company

Pets make such great childhood pals

A couple of years ago Lil started asking if we could have a dog, she is totally crazy about them. Mum gave her a book with hundreds of photos of dogs in and she literally knows most of the breeds there are about.

I’d been brought up with dogs all my life but had had absolutely no ambition to own one until now. It wasn’t for me it was for Lilia, and Rose was up for it it turned out.  The decision had been made. I LOVED having dogs as friends when i was a kid and it was suddenly something I really wanted for Lil to experience.

It took me a while after Gracie appeared to realize that I had been a bit lonely before she took up residence. We all love her as part of the family. I’m saying this because I’ve had a number of chats over the years with parents of small children. Face it, buying a mutt is a serious commitment. As a family, we’re so glad we made it.

3.Tooling up

The loneliness of working from home only really started to hit me when Lil spent more time away from me that with me if you know what I mean? At first, it was great to be able to give loads of time and effort to build the business up. You can work in a cafe, a library and they’re all options. Which then raises the question about hardware and what you need to run a business.

I generally find myself upgrading once a year, and in many ways, my purchase decisions are based upon the premise that there are things around the corner that I just don’t know about yet. I don’t know EXACTLY where the business is heading, because things happen, like Coronavirus that can throw things out. Or you find you’re suddenly running a massive database or something that you hadn’t allowed for.

2 years ago I purchased a Surface Pro and it was a great piece of hardware IMHO, but 4 months down the road I was running some big databases and the surface pro just wasn’t up to the job. I sadly, after a year of struggling, gave it to my wife Rose who thinks it’s great also. It does everything she needs as a postgrad, running Microsoft Office and web apps.

I meanwhile went and brought a workhorse to run big software, and they don’t come better values than the pc specialists . Their laptops are quite big, but they’re powerful and an excellent price. Check them out.

This week I purchased the Surface Pro 7 you see above. The spec on this machine is as low as I would want to go for my requirements. The only component I saved money on was the size of the SSD card, if I’m every storing more than 256GB of data on my SSD then I’ve got a problem. Store stuff in the cloud and if you lose or get your stolen/broken you won’t lose your business. By the way, you get loads of cloud storage when you get a subscription for Office 365. If you haven’t got one you should think about it.. PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy a ‘cheap’ version from eBay or such like, buy it from Microsoft and you know it will actually work and be legal.

The i7 processor matched with a decent enough SSD to mean Windows and apps load nice and fast. I hate waiting for computers, its part of the reason why I specialize in making them run as fast as they can to do a job, we call it Automation of Microsoft Office mostly. The main reason though buying the Surface was for the Pen…

I’m going to write about this now in the next part of this blog. See you then I hope.

Starting Up A Business As A Stay At Home Dad. Part 6

Support

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to appear on a panel about parenting at the University of Cambridge Science Festival, an event named ‘In conversation with dads .’ I don’t know yet who else will be on that panel or exactly what the discussion will be about, but the public will be invited and there could well be an audience.

As somebody who has never appeared on a panel or even ever spoken in public, it’s a strange thing to be looking forward to. I suppose in some ways it justifies me writing this blog at the moment, about my experiences as a stay at home dad. The organizer for this particular panel has suggested that some of the areas covered in this blog to date, would be relevant to the topics being covered.

Like many parents, I have had to persuade Lilia to be ‘brave’ on lots and lots of occasions. So many times I’ve totally lost count because bless her, she’s very noisy when she feels secure… but there are many situations where she will still hold my hand tightly and not really want to move forward. I understand that trepidation so well and hope I haven’t made her more scared of life by not showing her enough ‘tough love’ in her short 8 years.

Tough love has always been a very difficult thing for me because in many cases I’m not convinced that it does the good it is supposed to. Very early on a midwife said to me “Don’t worry darling you can’t spoil a little one with too much love” … I’ll never know how long she actually meant that to go on, but I leapt on that statement as a green light to dote on Lilia like I never thought I could or would.

When the tables have turned, and I have Lilia saying “Daddy you’ve got to do this even if you are scared! ” it’s hilarious really, but could there be a better opportunity to show her that daddy too, can overcome his own fears? To have been a solid rock in her life, to always have been there for her when needed, Always supported her, always listened and understood her when she explains to me about her life and its challenges. To have pushed her gently towards scary things… now it’s my turn.

I run an expert agency, and I often feel that this blog does not really belong on the company blog and maybe this should be appearing on a more ‘personal blog’ but that would be missing the point.

If you want to stay at home and look after your child, and you want to make some money while you do that, then I really want to help you. Maybe just by reciting my experiences of starting a business, or even if you are a stay at home dad. I have yet to meet another of my kind though… then maybe me sharing my experiences will somehow support you.

When Lil was about 2 years old, I started a local fathers club. I wanted to see if there WERE any other full-time stay at home dads in my home town, I didn’t meet any. Sure dads came along, and that was great, but in the end, the meetings mostly occurred at weekends when they weren’t at work. I believe the club is still running under different management, at least it was the last time I looked.

If a rich benefactor had given me £1m to start a business what would I have done? Probably very similar to what I have done. I had and still have, many lessons to learn about business. These aren’t the types of lessons that you can buy anyway, you need to experience them and most of them are free.

Going back to the Cambridge panel, A question to the panel is likely to be pertaining to ‘support’… I’m guessing “How could you be more supported that you were or currently are? ”

In bringing up Lilia I have had amazing support from family and the community. From wonderful playgroups and other parents.

With business, however, the answer is less straightforward. I understand why business breakfasts need to start by 8.30 but it just makes it almost impossible for me to attend them. The effort required of others to get Lil to school on those days instead of me doing it makes the suggestion ‘work something out’ sound a bit stupid.

The feeling of being discriminated against as a stay at home parent. I felt and described in an earlier blog is still very real and I remember it very clearly.

The internet can explain just about any business term or paradigm that you will come across in your new career. I wonder if it will help me find a public face to wear at this panel event 🙂