Using A Chartered Accountant: The Benefits

In my experience, many people or clients don’t fully understand the various roles or activities that bookkeepers, accountants and Chartered Accountants undertake.

Whilst some activities are undertaken by all three, it’s important to note the key differences between them before choosing your professional advisor.

Bookkeepers (also known as accounting clerks or assistant accountants) often label themselves as accountants.

However, this doesn’t mean that they are qualified Chartered Accountants (or Chartered Certified Accountants or Certified Public Accountants in other countries).

Bookkeepers primarily record, process and report a business’ day to day business transactions. Typically, anyone can become a bookkeeper.

They don’t need to have passed any accounting qualifications and may “qualify” through experience.

Professional Membership

Professional bodies, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), require its accountants to complete advanced education.

Chartered Accountants typically undertake a minimum of seven years training and education before being allowed to call themselves one.

They must also complete a minimum number of training and professional development hours each year to maintain their membership. They’ll stay up to date with recent changes to tax legislation, the economy and general business environment.

Many accountants are not Chartered Accountants and do not need to comply with these standards.

Reasons to Choose a Chartered Accountant

The modern-day business environment is extremely competitive and fraught with risk. Engaging a finance professional is often seen as a key component of a business’ success.

It’s not mandatory to engage an unqualified accountant but they may lack the knowledge and experience to offer the best advice for your business.

A competent Chartered Accountant will be an asset and will help you and your business flourish. They’ll generally have more tax knowledge and understand the financial intricacies of running a business.

To maintain high professional standards and competence, they must continually meet high professional standards and are bound by a strict code of ethics.

This provides greater assurance that your business is in safe hands.

Trusted business partner

Your Chartered Accountant should be a trusted and valuable business partner. They possess the skills and knowledge to provide insight and to evaluate both financial and non-financial data and unwanted trends.

They’ll help you identify viable financial and business strategies by recognising changing demands in the business environment.

They will use this insight to recommend tailored solutions for your business. Offering you practical advice, they’ll help you meet the myriad challenges you and your business will undoubtedly face.

Direct Mail Dangers – 3 Reasons Not to Use Your Regular Printer

The direct mail (dm) industry is huge. In 2007 alone, over $58 billion in the U.S. and close to $2 billion in Canada was spent on direct mail advertising. Even with the explosion of internet advertising, dm expenditures in the U.S. alone was still expected to grow to $61 billion in 2008 and $65 billion in 2009.

A major chunk of those expenditures is for printing.

Is it any wonder that so many printers have suddenly become mailing ‘experts’ with the addition of a new digital printer? Companies like Xerox, HP and Kodak are climbing over themselves promoting their latest hi-tech printers to excited printers trying to capture new market share.

To attract new business from the dm market, many of these printers are willing to provide rock-bottom prices but the real danger for direct mailers lies not in the quality of the printed pieces but rather in their lack of a dm knowledge which can easily lead to cost overruns and delayed mailings.

Here are 3 reasons why you should carefully consider a printer with direct mail experience rather than a general printer:

#1 Not Understanding Complete Package Format

The normal routine is for the printer to use artwork created by you the client, provide a proof and then go ahead with the job once approval has been granted. Once the job has been printed as per the signed-back proof, there is usually very little, if anything, that can be done if it turns out that there actually was a problem.

For example, placing the window of the outer envelope in the wrong position is probably one of the most common mistakes. Depending on the size of the addressing vehicle, e.g. letter or coupon, and how it is folded will determine the position of the window.

If you are having the letter printed elsewhere, what does your envelope printer care about the window positioning. His only concern is what you approve.

#2 Not Realizing Cost Efficiencies

Another very common problem occurs when printing stock which is to be used for the variable imaging of response pieces. A response piece can be in a 1-up versus ‘multi-up’ format. Unless you have a designer who is knowledgeable enough to design a print-ready layout, these pieces are normally created as 1-up art. The printer may then be required to create the final ‘multi-up’ version for the mailshop, or whoever is doing the imaging.

However, a printer who is not familiar with variable data imaging, or the subsequent insertion process, will not be aware of the potential problems should the response be printed 1-up. At the very least, increased imaging costs are applicable. Since laser prices are based on a per-sheet rate, it will be cheaper to image 10,000 standard 3-up sheets than 30,000 non-standard 1-up sheets.

An experienced dm printer can provide the necessary input to avoid delays and extra costs

#3 Not Dealing With Direct Mail Timelines

Timelines on direct mail campaigns are notoriously short compared to regular print jobs. Everyone wants their jobs done ‘yesterday.’

Nowadays, with the efficiencies of email and online proofing, timelines of 4 weeks in the past for a print job have been drastically reduced, sometimes to only days. Unless you make your printer aware of your quick turnaround requirement, there is a very good likelihood that your campaign will be in the mail late.

Remember that your printer is well within his rights to ask for payment even if it was printed in an incorrect format. Even if your printer’s Customer Service Rep is willing to help you out, any additional costs will most likely be charged by the owner, especially since he gave you such a “competitive” price, i.e. there was already very little profit in the job to start with.

After all, he did a proper printing job based on the artwork and approvals he received from you. Using a printer who is experienced with direct mail production techniques will ‘save your bacon’ many times over. He will be a valuable partner by preventing minor issues from becoming major mistakes.

Internet Marketing – The #1 Marketing Mistake Made by 75% of Online Business Owners

Every day, my inbox is filled with emails promoting yet another new marketing strategy or promising results that will cure all of my marketing ills. Most of the strategies are flash-in-the-pan – here today and gone tomorrow because the next new strategy has been discovered. A few newer strategies have proven to have staying power over time, like social networking, which took a long time to grow on me. I’ve learned the hard way not to be an early adopter of new marketing strategies – I tend to sit back and watch the fallout to see if something is worth my time and energy.

As I reflect back on my early years in business, I often felt like a dog chasing my tail. I used to run and run quickly in one direction chasing one marketing idea, and then reverse course, chasing my tail in another direction when hearing about the next “greatest thing.” What resulted from my helter-skelter marketing? Not much. I was going in too many directions at once and trying to keep too many balls in the air to create a truly successful marketing plan that really helped promote my business.

Here’s the marketing secret I wished I’d learned early on: Adopt the marketing strategy that best fits with your gifts, talents, and interests, or in other words: Do what you’re good at. Yep, it’s that simple. I knew that this was good advice for pursuing a career or starting a business, but I never realized how well it applied to marketing my company.

Roughly 4 years into my business it suddenly dawned on me that I had always been a good writer. Supervisors, teachers, friends, and colleagues had often complimented me on my writing, but I dismissed the praise because I found writing to be a taxing chore that gave me a massive headache. It wasn’t until I learned how to write for myself in my own voice, rather than structuring my writing to meet the criteria of others, that I truly began to enjoy putting pen to paper (or, words on a screen, if you will).

This love for writing made me a natural for my now-favorite marketing strategy, article marketing. Why do I love it? Because it’s easy for me – sometimes scarily easy. However, I discovered that having a skill for a strategy isn’t enough to be successful. Even at this point my marketing continued to be hit-or-miss. There was still something missing from the mix.

After hearing a great talk by a coaching colleague about how he structured his time, I finally realized what was the key component missing from my marketing strategy – and the missing component was the same for the bulk of the other entrepreneurs sitting in the room with me. The #1 marketing mistake made by the majority of online business owners is: Lack of consistency. Once you determine where your talent lies and how you can integrate that into a workable marketing plan, then you need to commit to implementing that plan consistently over time.

Could it possibly be that simple? In a nutshell, yes. I committed to publishing my ezine every Thursday morning. I committed to writing one new article each week for the ezine. I committed to syndicating one new article each week through my article submission service. I committed to repurposing my ezine content to my blog. I committed to making 1-2 new posts on my blog each week. This is only the tip of the iceberg describing what I do for marketing, but consistency was the catalyst that propelled me to a successful online marketing strategy that I’ve been implementing now for 5 years.

My results? I no longer chase after clients – they find me online. 100% of my business comes from my web site, internet marketing, or word-of-mouth referrals – I do no in-person networking at all any longer. My web site screens out those clients who aren’t a good fit and invites those who are. I enjoy running a thriving business from my home office with only a 5-second commute. I create a work schedule that works best for me and my husband, which gives me the flexibility to leave my office early if I want and catch a matinee with him without having to submit a vacation request form to my supervisor. I am happy and healthy and no longer have recurring bouts of colitis and depression from working in a miserable situation. I make more money now than I ever made by working for someone else.

Take inventory of your skills and abilities, and see how you can easily integrate those into a marketing strategy that will be easy for you to implement. Once you decide on your strategy, commit to implementing it consistently over time, and enjoy your results!

The Benefits of Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing SMS is a great example of a new technology providing marketing opportunities. The growth in the mobile consumer market over the last ten years worldwide has been explosive, leading to a massive target market which has proven to be responsive to marketing messages. There are twice as many active SMS users than active email users, reflecting the full extent of the marketing opportunity presented by mobile communications.

But as a business owner, how can you capitalize on this growing technology with a mobile marketing SMS marketing campaign?

SMS messages are generally treated with more interest by consumers than email marketing messages, and consequently the open rate for SMS sales messages is higher than that with email. Rather than delivering to an inbox a message that may or may not get read, no doubt amongst other emails of more importance to the prospect, delivering via SMS creates a situation whereby the interest of the prospect is immediately captured and focused on the immediate message. As a result, permission-based mobile marketing can deliver response rates in the region of 25%, versus 1-1.5% for traditional direct marketing channels. As such, it’s easy to see why businesses of all sizes are getting on board with mobile marketing SMS technologies and embracing this new way of marketing.

SMS messages, including those with a marketing purpose, are on average read within 5 minutes of receipt, and responded to within the hour, making them far more effective than most forms of communication. Unlike emails which may sit unread, may be filtered as spam or may be ignored, SMS marketing messages are to the point and are far more effective at inducing the desired action from the prospect. And with opt-in features to enable targeting and qualification of prospects, strong response and conversion rates can be seen from mobile marketing SMS campaigns across a range of different sectors and demographics.

Another key benefit of SMS messages is that they are virtual, and as such much lower cost in nature. Because there are low marginal costs to sending SMS messages, it’s easily possible to devise a mobile marketing SMS campaign that is instantly profitable. Compared to physical direct mailings, the costs of creating, storing and distributing SMS messages is minimal, leading to a cost saving and increased conversion rate. As a result, the ROI from mobile marketing is expanded on both the revenue and cost sides leading to increased profitability from the campaign.

The benefits of mobile marketing are apparent, and as a direct marketing channel it will only continue to grow in effectiveness over the next decade as technologies improve and consumers become more used to receiving and responding to SMS marketing messages. Early adopters of the technology are still just getting on board, but the results they are experiencing from their mobile marketing SMS campaigns are proving the effectiveness of SMS marketing as a medium. And with over 75 billion SMS text messages sent every month, the market is continuing to expand at an exponential rate.