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Business is fun

I don't believe it!

The avuncular Victor Meldrew almost never believes anything, if his scripts are anything to go by. Of course, it has become one of those well known catchphrases that has passed into the vocabulary with the same ease which Bankers employ when awarding bonuses.

"I don't believe it!". Is it shock or genuine disbelief? Incredulity is often employed as a mark of surprise when emphasising how delighted we are with something. How often do you say, "it was an absolutely incredible night!" Well maybe you don't say THAT all that often but I'm sure you understand my meaning. All day now you'll be hearing yourself say, "that blog was incredible wasn't it?"


So what kind of things DO you believe? Usually most people believe numbers (especially when presented by their accountant) and curiously, the more precise the numbers, the more accurate they are perceived to be and are given even more weight. For me it makes no sense to be talking to one of our clients whose turnover is in the region of £4m about the importance of their £248.56 spent on paper, and couldn't they try to find a cheaper supplier. Don't get me wrong, we might have a conversation like that but it is more likely to be along the lines of who is responsible in their organisation for office supplies spend and what have they done about the budget for next year. In big situations, numbers still have to be accurate but also very relevant. Individual results taken out of context (ie not relevant) are a bit like a single piece of a jigsaw - they might be pink and look like a flower when you see it in stunning isolation but once you find the right place for it in the multi-directional connectivity of a business' finances you will probably see that instead of a flower it is actually a piece of sea with the setting sun colouring it reddish.

Surprisingly though (accurate or not, relevant or not) lots of businesses and their owners manage to ignore their numbers one way or another. It may be they pay scant attention to them because they know them to be incomplete; it may also be that they are very complete and they know that they show a disastrous or indeed a great position but ignore the numbers because they don't know mentally or strategically how to process the information successfully. Bad news is often the best known and the least actioned.

So why have you been avoiding getting your accounts done until now? Here are some more reasons to consider why you might avoid getting your numbers sorted or might avoid believing them if you already have them - either you'll have had a horrible year and have little tax to pay but want to sweep it under the carpet and forget it happened or you've had a tremendous (incredible) year and just know that the tax bill is going to be a doozy. Leaving it till 6 weeks before the end of the tax year isn't going to make the tax bill any less - it will simply make it harder to find the cash for.

Incredible isn't it?


PS You know who you are, all of you....

PPS Remember that the penalties for late returns this year are stonkingly big so you have been warned.......



A challenge that many people face in business is getting the message across. In fact being more specific about it, it's a challenge that I sometimes face with customers while trying to help them understand the complexities of business accounting and ratios.

For me it's easy to demonstrate how a ratio works and what it means but sometimes that's not enough, no matter that I explain it - as I do in every situation - in plain, jargon-free english.

But consider what would be better. Consider what could convey instantaneous meaning. Think about how TV works these days: whether you're watching a general election broadcast or ordinary day to day news, many news items containing concepts or numbers are presented in a "Minority Report" style with tables and charts and images flying on to the screen and off again, overlapping and connecting, clicking through the tables to real data and back up again. Even Sage50 Accounts has developed some of this technology so that you can "drill down" through the different layers of numbers making it easier than ever before to find out the cause of an over or under spend.

So pictures work better than words: they are direct, comprehensible in most languages and are (usually) unambiguous. Consider (alternatively) how ambiguous language is and how the same words mean different things even in the same context depending on the inflection of our voice or the position of a comma.

Nevertheless, pictures or diagrams still need to - in themselves - make sense to the viewer! Any old picture inserted any old place simply for "effect" it is hoped it will have, in fact will have the opposite impact to that which was intended.

So it is true - mostly - that a picture is worth a thousand words. Think how difficult it would be to explain in words what a steam engine was compared with showing a picture of one? If you want to see how complicated those words, "steam engine" are, just click on this link to see how widely the words might be interpreted!

Oh and before I finish, Dictator? Why is the article called Dictator?


Simply this, it was Napoleon Bonaparte who first (it is claimed) expressed the idea that a picture was worth more than words: "Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours," (a good sketch is better than a long speech).

Au revoir!