I have to admit it;I hated networking! I used to be sent along to events by my firm and had absolutely no idea how to go about it. Put me in front of an audience of 250 people with a lectern and a laptop with a PowerPoint presentation and I wouldn't bat an eyelid! Ask me to go into a room full of strangers and join in a conversation....not a clue! Once I started my own consultancy and realised that you get no clients sitting in a room at home in front of a computer and hope somebody finds you, I decided to grit my teeth and jump in the deep end. And you know what? I actually enjoy it!

So what does an ex-accountant know about choosing a new advisor? Well as the one often being asked to tender for my work over the years, quite a bit as it happens! Also one advantage of being a long-term advisor yourself, you are the trusted professional that clients come to for advice as to other professionals. At this point you are thinking that the old boy network comes into play; you scratch my back I will scratch yours; the old school tie; the masonic handshake; the friend at the golf club. You could not be further from the truth!

Of course if you recommend another professional to your client you hope you might get something back but there is a bottom line.  The person you recommend has got to be up to the job. Not only is it a disaster for the client if the recommendation is not up to scratch but who do you think is going to get the blame for your recommendation and it is the fastest way to lose a client that I know!

Having set up my own consultancy as of 1st August last year and my website on 1st May this year, one of my biggest worries was how to get my name out there with a limited (in fact non-existent) advertising budget? Everyone told me I had to blog if I couldn't afford the extra costs of Google ads or something similar. My first worry was whether or not I would have anything to say to my target audience but in fact I have learned that people want information in easily digestible chunks that is relevant to their organisation.

This blog , although based on a report from the Charity Commission makes points equally valuable to both charities and SME's. The Commission recently reviewed ten charities who showed signs of being "at risk of financial distress". Five of the charities had an "emphasis of matter" in their auditors report whilst 5 others had one or more of the following risk factors:-

I attended a seminar last Saturday and the speaker referred to her experience as a former head teacher and a government schools inspector which she now used in her new role as a resource for local schools in her area. Each school pays in to a central pot which gives them access to a resource on an as needed basis whether for help with improving say specific provision in a curriculum area or for the head teacher to either assist with improving school provision or with ideas to develop the school for the benefit of the pupils. What they get is someone who knows what they are going through; whether from having done the job as a head teacher or knowing what the education authorities are trying to achieve from their time as an Inspector. The schools call it "Additional Management Resource and it is proving to be a great success. A practical solution to a practical problem