The One-page Business Plan for Your Bookkeeping Service

Sometimes the thought of sitting down to draft a business plan sends me running for the hills, even though I preach the importance of planning to all of my clients! Small business advice: Without planning, your bookkeeping business goes nowhere fast. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

What I have come to learn as a business coach is that business plans don’t have to be long to be good. In fact, a single page can contain all the essential elements you need to show where you’re taking your bookkeeping business and how you’re going to get there. The most important reason to have a business plan is to clarify your thinking about where you are taking your business. When it’s in writing, others will know and understand your vision and your plan.

Here are a few characteristics of an effective one-page business plan for your bookkeeping business:

• Simplicity. A one-page plan takes a complex subject and makes it simple.
• Focus. It focuses on what’s important. There is no room for fluff or filler.
• Versatility. It is a communication tool for employees, prospective employees, partners, shareholders, investors and bankers.
• Consistency. It sends the same message to every person who receives it, unlike a verbal presentation, which may change every time you speak.
• Flexibility. It is easy to change and update.

The Five Elements of the One-Page Business Plan:

1. The Vision Statement – What are you building?

This is the place where you describe your vision —your way. Most business coaches will tell you that vision statements should be expansive and idealistic. They should stimulate thinking and communicate passion, while painting a detailed picture of the bookkeeping business you want. The key to capturing your vision is to refrain from restricting the flow of thoughts.

2. The Mission Statement – Why does this business exist?

The mission statement describes the purpose for which your product, service or business exists. Great mission statements are short and memorable. They communicate in just a few words the company’s focus and what is being provided to customers. They answer the question, “Why will customers buy this product or service?” The mission statement should also reflect the owner’s passion and commitment. When the business satisfies an owner’s passion for creativity, independence or the need to serve, there is substance and staying power in the mission.

3. The Objectives – What results will you measure?

Objectives clarify what you are trying to accomplish in specific, measurable goals. Some of the best small business advice that I can give you is this: for an objective to be effective, it needs to be a well-defined target with quantifiable, measurable elements. There are many types of objectives, and your plan should include a variety of them. For many businesses the two most important categories will be the financial and marketing objectives. It is important, however, to tailor your objectives to cover the full scope of your bookkeeping business, focusing on the goals that are most critical to your success.

4. The Strategies – How will you grow your business?

Strategies set the direction, philosophy, values, and methodology for building and managing your company. Strategies also establish guidelines for evaluating important business decisions. In most industries there are four to six core strategies that successful businesses follow. These core strategies are easy to understand, remain relatively constant over time, are used by market leaders and result in profitable growth. Here are two examples of a core strategy: “Price isn’t everything,” and “Attract the very best employees and give them a stake in the business.” What are your strategies?

5. The Plans – What is the work to be done?

Plans are the specific actions the business must implement to achieve the objectives. Plan or action items should contribute to the growth of your bookkeeping business. Each plan or action item is, in effect, a project. Plans should be action-oriented, list specific tasks and have definitive deadlines or due dates.

Once your plan is in writing, it is now time to put that same plan into action. Putting the plan into action is the most important step because the actions deliver the results you wanted when you started this process. For most entrepreneurs, this is easy — you are already action-oriented!

Here is some business advice, as well as a few suggestions, to help you put (and keep) your bookkeeping business plan in action:

• Keep the plan with you.
• Use it as a decision-making tool.
• Update it with new thoughts.
• Share it with people you trust and whose opinions you value.
• Measure your progress at least quarterly.
• Prepare a budget to match the plan.

5 Fabulous Ideas To Develop A Presentation Handout:

What if a handout is given to you and you are required to submit a presentation based on it in just 15 days?  Well, in such a situation, you will definitely feel butterflies in your stomach and your hands will become cold. A handout basically works to relieve you from including everything to slides, so I always prefer writing a handout before preparing a presentation.

The 5 fabulous ways to develop a breath taking presentation handout with little effort are:

  • Consume a single page to write a presentation handout. If there is much to say, you should prefer adding those points which you think are the most important to your viewers. A single handout page seems easy and brief to read.
  • Your handout should tell the same story as your presentation will.  At least, the bottom line of the story should remain the same.
  • Adding images that illustrate the meanings of your presentation subject can add a fresh breath, or value to it. The images being used in the presentation and in the handout should match so that a reader may associate both of them easily.
  • Writing a detailed section for those, who love to read more about your presentation can add plus points to your efforts done so far. As I have suggested writing a single page handout, much cannot be included in a single sheet. So, adding a separate descriptive section in your handout would be beneficial.
  • Always remember to add your details at the end of the presentation handout paper. Some people might need to know about the writer, or want to contact them later. In such a case, add your email address, or any social networking address which you consider looking at frequently, is beneficial.

I have written my business presentation by using these ideas, and to my surprise, I got great feedback a week later. Try it and you will definitely fall in love with it.

The California Bar Exam Study Techniques

No bar exam is easy. The California bar exam is no exception. More so than in any other jurisdiction in North America, however, the California exam is not only a test of mental stamina, but a test of physical and emotional endurance as well. Some applicants pass on their first attempt. Others take the exam several times before their names finally appear in the Daily Journal as successful applicants. If your name is on the list this time, congratulations! But if not, or if you are about to write the exam for the first time, read on. This article is written for you. This article will set out some study techniques that will help you do your best.

Study Techniques

1. Study Answers to Previous Essay Exam Questions

By far the most important tip for preparing for the California state bar exam is to study the model answers to previous exam questions. If you are taking a bar review course like BAR/BRI for example, focus on the essay workbook. By reading an essay question from past exams, for example, outlining what you think the answer should be, and then comparing your answer to the BAR/BRI materials – you get an excellent picture of what you know, and what you still need to learn. By writing out your answer, at least in point form, before referring to the BAR/BRI answer, you clarify where your memory of the law is still hazy and needs sharpening. You can use the summary answers as review notes. Highlight key words. These highlighted notes will be invaluable study aids the night before the exam.

2. Read the Materials, Attend Lectures and Do Assignments

Your study patterns should follow a set formula. As best as you can, read the materials assigned before classes. Attend all the lectures or at least listen to the tapes of the ones you miss. Do the assignments. And write practice exams. Some of my wealthier friends signed up for extra bar preparation classes. This was a good idea and I benefited by listening to borrowed audio cassette tapes while driving to and from classes.

3. Employ Memory Devices Such as Acronyms

In preparing for the California bar exam you are confronted by an overwhelming niagra of legal materials. It is impossible to digest such an intimidating amount of knowledge without employing some memory devices to keep information as organized as possible. As often as possible, therefore, use pneumonias and acronyms to help your memory recall important concepts. For example, in real property law I used the acronym TIP to recall the four unities of title in joint possessory estates: Time, Title, Interest and Possession. (I just remembered that the T in TIP stood for the two unities of Time and Title). With a little creativity you can summarize entire courses into one or two word acronyms!

4. Use Funny or Exotic Images to Remember Concepts

Use a funny or exotic image technique to recall important concepts. For example, to remember the test for obscenity in constitutional law I imagined General Patton, pure naked, running laps around a track. This vision would help me recall that obscene material must appeal to the prurient interest, be patently offensive, and have no laps, that is no literary, 2rtistically, politically or socially redeeming feature. Making up rhymes, jingles and ridiculous exaggerated action stories with the materials helps to imbed the knowledge into the brain.

5. Check Off Correct Answers in the Answer Section of Multi State

Material when working on the multi state multiple-choice questions, make it a point to mark the correct answers to test questions in the answer section as opposed to the question section of your materials. This way later on you can review wrong answers again to brush up on weak areas without having to match up the answers to the questions.

6. Keep a Disciplined Daily Schedule

As far as possible try to keep balance in your daily schedule. That requires good nutrition, exercise and sleep. Studies indicate that the average person’s peak attention span is 45 minutes – make use of this fact. Take cat naps when you are tired and breaks every hour.

Obedience to Authority

Obedience is an essential part of everyday life of members of modern society. This word has become a synonym of good work and quality performance in the work place. People who are obedient are more likely to be accepted by the society and comforted by it, because disobedience usually means severe consequences especially when an order or a request comes from someone in direct authority to the object. In today’s world people are becoming more and more distanced from their own understanding of things happening around them and thus are easily involved in matters that might be highly unpleasant for them. This happens because the major responsibility is taken by someone, a usually unseen and remote person who is in charge. The comprehension of the whole matter does not occur to the obedient object and thus for both parties, those who order and those who perform, it is much easier now to do things that would not be done if complete responsibility was taken by a single person.

Stanley Milgram’s experiment is well known as an experiment of human willingness to obey the orders of authority, even if there is no real authority and no necessity to follow the orders. The whole experiment was based on the ‘teachers’ and ‘learners’ functions, one of them being asked questions and the other answered. The ‘learner’ was an actor who pretended to experience pain from shocks that were given to him by the ‘teacher’ in case of a wrong or no answer. The experiment has revealed numerous interesting observations which were not evident about human nature prior to its start. It became clear that people no matter what profession they held, or if they were employed at all were eager to please an authority figure, who in this situation was the experimenter, professor in a white coat. The evidence of a serious experiment proved by the appropriate environment, as in a real scientific laboratory, made ‘teachers’ behave in a determined way and imposed a meaning of high significance of what they were doing. Moreover the presence of the professor made them ‘punish’ a wrong answer severer than when he was talking to them over the phone. It shows that people are more likely to follow orders when the authority figure is in their obvious proximity.

Another side of the experiment carried a social meaning to the ‘teachers’ and even when the person in the electric chair started screaming as if from pain, 65% of them continued increasing the voltage as they were told so by the professor. They were eager to please the authority and also did not want to look impolite or unreliable. This feeling of higher power over them ordering what to do and realization of the importance of the experiment strengthened by white walls of the lab unified into desire to continue obeying.

A few people in the course of the experiment requested to stop it and refused to continue when the screaming from the nest room began. Those people explained their behavior by not willing to be responsible for the lives or health of those under shock. It is clear that those people understood and took consequences of this experiment as their own personal responsibility and were not ready to take it. From that one can make a conclusion that when people feel the weight of the consequences in the future for what they do now, they are not likely to follow orders that can lead to bed results, personally for them. They are thinking from the perspective of their individual life not from the perspective of doing harm and causing pain for others, although that also could be one of the factors.

An interesting notion of people’s self imagine is also an important factor that has to be taken into consideration when investigation obedience to authority. When a person is used to see a certain image of himself/herself it is difficult to make them believe different. Thus when something is ordered that contradicts with their usual self image, people tend to disregard the experience or interpret it in a way that would suit their life. In the Milgram’s experiment ‘teachers’ viewed themselves and what they were doing as an important discovery in the scientific world rather than a pain causing trial. It follows that humans are most likely to obey when they believe in the good and important side of the matter and when they are assured in their goodness. Basically the combination of the authoritative command, respect for the authority, willingness to be a good member of the team, and a feeling of self importance typically contributes to obedience.