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WHAT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING

We have spoken many times about being a business owner or entrepreneur in Ireland today. Equally, and sometimes even more importantly for the day to day running of any company are its employees. This week we will focus on being an employee or job seeker in this country at the present time. Following the economic crisis, becoming full-time employed in Ireland became somewhat of a minefield with schemes like the JobBridge scheme offering training in new areas but effectively closing off a large section of previously available paid positions. Likewise, college graduates who were unfortunate enough to finish their studies just as the crisis occurred, may have found their new qualifications of little use. Naturally, we then saw a mass exodus of young workers seeking to utilise their skills on other shores.

 

Now that our economic situation has begun to improve, the question arises about the satisfaction of workers in Ireland. The 2016 LinkedIn Talent Trends report seeks to outline what it truly means to be a worker in Ireland. The report suggests that job seeking remains somewhat of an issue with the biggest roadblocks facing jobseekers including being offered incorrect roles by agencies, whilst not having full awareness of what the job entails is cited as another major issue. This calls into question whether our interview and job posting system is adequate enough for finding the right candidate. LinkedIn’s senior HR director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Wendy Murphy has stated that

“67% of Irish professionals say that culture and values are the most important thing they want to know about a company”.

 

Again, information which is difficult to ascertain by using our current system.

 

Interestingly, Ireland is among few countries where the fact remains that the people you know are important in gaining access to many areas of employment with 40% of people quizzed stating that they gained their current position through someone they know.

 

Finally, it would seem that Irish workers are quite an ambitious group with this report finding that 45% of people left jobs due to a lack of available career advancement, whilst 40% admit to leaving in order to find a more challenging position.

 

In terms of what this report may mean going forward, rather than turning back on our existing employment methods, the recruitment website LinkedIn have stated that Ireland should embrace this method of gaining access to positions through people you know at the company. According to LinkedIn companies should harness this notion and inform current employees of vacancies when they go live in order for existing employees to become ‘brand ambassadors’ and bring new talent to the company.

 

Should you have any queries or require any guidance on your own employment quest and finances, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants where we will be happy to help you on your business journey.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

DO YOU HAVE A ‘LIFESTYLE BUSINESS’?

Have you created a saleable business, or just a job for yourself? And how do you change that?

 

‘Lifestyle business’ is a term that, understandably, gets up many entrepreneurial noses. When used in certain circles, it can sound patronising, or as if the speaker is seeking to diminish a business’ achievement in getting started.

 

So firstly, we’d like to make one thing clear: there’s nothing wrong with having a ‘lifestle business’, one that can’t really be sold easily or grow exponentially. Creating a sustainable job for yourself and others is a real achievement. However, many entrepreneurs do want an exit strategy for their business – whether they want a big payday, or simply to do other things later in their working life. In that case, having a business that they can’t walk away from is a problem.

 

How do you tell if you’re running a lifestyle business? There’s one easy litmus test. Imagine the business if you weren’t working in it, and with another employee drawing down your salary: could it work? If you can foresee it humming along under a competent manager, you have a business that you can sell. If you instead see the whole thing coming apart within a few months, then you’re working in a lifestyle business – one that you just can’t sell and walk away from.

 

Some business just can’t advance beyond this dependence on the founding entrepreneur – but some can, even well after the start-up stage. If you want to shift away from running a lifestyle business to operating a more independent (and saleable) company, there are a few key steps to take.

 

Delegate and Replicate

Many businesses are dependent on an entrepreneur who works punishing hours for comparatively little financial reward. However, does this have to be the case? If you look at your team, they may well be able to take some of your workload, especially if this is presented in the right way: most good employees will welcome added responsibility, for example, if this means that they’re being groomed for management positions as the company grows. Taking some of this day-to-day work away will let you work on the business rather than in it. In time, your goal should be to replicate your own role within the company – this will allow you to adopt a strategic position, identifying opportunities, trouble-shooting and stepping back from day-to-day minutiae.

 

Maximise Profit

Growing a business can be expensive, especially when you’re looking to take on new employees and manage the cash-flow ‘lag’ that comes with new clients. In order to do this, you’ll need to maximise the profitability of current and future clients – this takes discipline and nerve. You can find some useful advice here on getting through the process.

 

Tie Down Clients

Many businesses could operate without their owner doing the day-to-day work, but are dependent on them because of client relationships. If your customers work with you because of you (rather than the advantages of your company), then that’s an issue you need to address.

Getting customers to feel that they’re working with a company rather than the entrepreneur requires a deft touch, and patience. Introduce them to members of your team, and gradually get them used to dealing with those people rather than yourself. In the early stages, of course, you will probably need to reassure them that you’re just a phonecall away if an issue requires your input. Also, tie clients down to long-term contracts if possible – if you’re looking to sell the business, this will reassure a potential buyer that the customers won’t just vanish when you leave yourself.

 

Do you have a question for DCA’s experts? Contact us or connect with us on Twitter.

TIME – YOUR MOST VALUABLE RESOURCE

You’re willing to work long hours for your business, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t place a value on your time – and manage it effectively.

 

Time is money – that may be a well-worn cliché, but it’s palpably true. As an entrepreneur, your productive time is the most valuable thing that you are investing in a business, but it’s also one thing many entrepreneurs treat far too cheaply. Just because you’re working long hours to build your business doesn’t mean that your time shouldn’t be valued. Effective time management will let you maximise this valuable resource, and use it far more effectively to drive business success. A few key tips have been proven to work when you’re looking to do this.

 

Make Appointments

A single ‘to do’ list will eventually get so long that it’s impossible to get through – you’ll end up just playing catch-up with the day’s work. Most people will find it far more effective to assign a specific time for each activity that they need to do in their day. This allows you to make reasonably accurate projections about when key tasks will get done – and, if you do need to delegate something to somebody else, having a schedule to cover your main tasks will let you identify this sooner. Dedicate the first 20 minutes of your day to confirming your schedule. Also, invest some time at the end of the day to ‘update’ the schedule, identifying what you did and how long it took. This will be helpful for future scheduling, as you’ll have a much better idea of how long tasks actually take.

 

Realistic Expectations

Humans are optimists by nature, and it’s been proven in many studies that we’re overly confident about our ability to perform a task in a certain timeframe: even when we’re looking to be conservative in our scheduling, we always give ourselves too little time. You can minimise this by budgeting slightly more time for each task than you optimistically think you need. Also budget in time for interruptions, such as calls from home and dealing with day-to-day issues.

 

Cut Yourself Off

People naturally answer a phone just because it rings. They respond to email instantly even if they’re engaged in something else. And now, with instant messaging, friends, family and colleagues can make immediate demands on your time.

If you’re engaged in something where you need a clear head and concentration, try putting up the ‘do not disturb’ sign. Turn Facebook and other instant messaging services off. Let phonecalls go to your voicemail – if it’s important enough, people will leave a message – and don’t open your emails until you’re ready to. If you’re one of those people who idly browses the internet when you’re meant to be working, the Stayfocusd app will break that habit – you can limit the amount of time you’re allowed on unproductive or leisure sites that tend to steal your time away. Finally, if you need to, lock the office door.

This can be a huge mental adjustment to make for people used to constant – and not necessarily productive – communication on all fronts. But you’ll see an immediate impact on your productivity when you do it.

 

Do you have a question for DCA’s experts? Contact us or connect with us on Twitter.

DCA Q&A – SHOULD I GO AS A SOLE TRADER?

Q: I have been working on a fixed-term contract with a multinational company. However, my contract is up in December, and it’s unlikely to be renewed or replaced with a permanent offer. The reason for this, I’m told, is a company-wide hiring freeze that is expected to change in the middle of next year.

Between now and then, I have been asked if I would like to continue on as a self employed contractor for a number of months. Before I agree to this, I have a few questions about how it will work. Because I will only be working for one company, would the Revenue have a difficulty with my sole trader status? Also, the company is VAT-exempt, but my income will be over the VAT exemption threshold. Will I still need to charge VAT? I would expect also that I will be using my car  for business75% of the time. Will it be possible to claim car-related expenses as deductable because of this?

 

A: You’re right to be thinking extremely carefully, as making this change in your career is a significant decision. You may be aware, for example, that it will affect your social welfare entitlement if things don’t pan out as you expect. That alone would be enough to put some people off going ahead with this temporary arrangement.

 

However, if you decide to continue working with this firm, there are a few things you should know. Revenue do have an issue with self-employed ‘contractors’ working exclusively with one company. If Revenue deem you to effectively be an employee, they have the right to assess the company, you or both for any taxes that they deem should have been paid. Therefore, even if you only have one other small client as a sole trader, it’s worth keeping that up.

 

As for VAT, you will have to charge it. Deductions for use of the car are on a receipted basis for petrol and other expenses. You should keep a detailed diary tracking your business mileage versus your total mileage to get an idea of how much you can deduct. A rough estimate, unfortunately, won’t cut it. If your vehicle will be primarily used for business purposes, your insurance company will have to be informed.

 

Even though you are thinking of this as a temporary arrangement, it’s important not to assume that you will be made a permanent employee after a few months, so set yourself up in a professional manner. Engage the services of an accountant, keep track of your business expenses and invoicing, and set aside money for your future tax liability.

 

We advise many people taking the first steps into entrepreneurial activity, and we’re more than happy to offer a no-obligation initial meeting to discuss your needs. Just contact us to get the ball rolling.

 

Eamonn Garvey

 

Do you have a question for DCA’s experts? Contact us or connect with us on Twitter.