As the economy begins to recover, many businesses are finding themselves in a rather enviable position: large cash reserves in the bank and weaker competitors just waiting to be snapped up (for a bargain price!). So you know you want to expand by acquiring another firm, but where to start? comp

Analyse Your Business

Start with a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis. Get a flip chart and a marker and, with your management team, write up the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your business. Now identify the gaps; if for example, a weakness is that you have only 3 large clients, you could fill that gap by buying a competitor who has a further 4 large clients, thereby giving you 7 large clients. Repeat this process for the other areas.

Search for a Business

Now that you have your criteria from SWOT analysis, make sure you know how to look for a business. Don’t just go to one source; really check multiple (and reliable) sources to find the business that is right for you. Talk to your team and establish a list of competitors who are considered to have a good client base, good products or services, a good reputation etc. Get the right team of advisors in place (accountants, lawyers, etc.) and draw up a plan.

Value the Business Properly

Your accountant can help you with this, but you should read up and understand the basic financial techniques to value a business; it’s cash flow and other assets. Know how to prepare a basic business plan in order to make projections into the future. You should conduct research in order to understand how the business is getting its customers. Know how it delivers goods and services. You should try to gain an understanding of the cash flow and think about how you can maintain this flow before thinking about increased profitability.

Structure and Finance

Your advisors should be able to give you a basic understanding of how the business valuation and related cash flow tie together. Make sure you examine a number of possible ways to put a transaction together in order to overcome different risks. Your legal team and accountant should provide guidance on the best way to structure the deal and finance it in order to complete the acquisition.




High-level strategy gives direction to the management team of a business. However, such high level plans can often prove to be of little use to other workers within the organisation. Aspects of the strategy must be distilled down to actions and plans which will drive the various areas of the business towards the common goals outlined in the overall strategy.


It is often said that a strategy doesn’t fail in its formulation but in its implementation. The key to implementing a strategy successfully is communication.

Many leadership teams, in their excitement and enthusiasm to turn their strategy into reality, fail to take the necessary steps to ensure that it can be delivered effectively by the various departments in the firm. Taking the time and energy to translate your strategic vision into operational success, demands that you focus on the following:

Communication – Your strategic intent and agenda should form the basis of all your communication with the business. When you make and communicate a decision, for example, you should clearly state how it will help move the strategy of the business forward.

Resources – Resources should be allocated on the basis of their ability to deliver the agreed strategy, and not simply reflect historic trends and decisions.

Alignment – The goals of the business must align with the objectives of the departments and people within the firm. Tiny differences of opinion in the boardroom can become huge divisions across the organisation, rapidly reducing your chances of successful implementation.

People – Your best and most appropriate people should be leading the delivery of your key strategic objectives. Not only does this increase the firm’s chances of success, but it also sends a signal to the business about what management considers to be important.

Accountability – The individual performances, and the collective performance of the team, should be directly based on implementing the strategy.

Measurement – Your KPIs should mirror the strategy, as should your associated rewards and bonuses. If you are serious about your strategy you will define appropriate ways to track its delivery and effectively report on progress.




A never-ending inbox of emails is the cause of long working hours, stressed out managers and procrastination. It is also the reason why many people feel that they are so ‘busy’ when in fact they are often busy doing the wrong things. A full, un-manageable inbox can distract you from what you should be doing. Here are a few tips for managing email.

Read Emails in Batches
Identify two time slots in your working day to read and respond to emails. This may not be possible every day, but gain some consistency when you check in to your mails. For the rest of the day focus on getting things done and don’t worry about your inbox. If something is urgent, they can always telephone you. By introducing a bit of structure you will be more productive and will focus on your priorities.


Switch Off Any Alerts
If you structure your day with ‘email time’ as above, you don’t need to know when you receive a new email. Switch off email alerts on your smartphone or computer. You control your inbox – your inbox can’t be allowed to control you with notifications and flashing red lights!

If you want to receive less emails, send less emails
It sounds obvious, but the reason many people receive lots of emails is because they spend so much time sending them out. Reducing your output will have an impact on how many emails you receive. Try picking up the phone for a change. If you have a team or colleagues, get up from your desk and walk over to talk to them. You may achieve a lot more simply by having a conversation with the right person.

Use your ‘Out of Office’
Manage expectations. When you are on holiday, you probably use an ‘Out of Office’ response to tell people you are away. When you come back you are then faced with a mountain of emails and may feel overwhelmed. Next time you are away, leave your out of office on for an extra day or two after you get back to allow you to catch up on emails that came in while you were away



Whether establishing a business-charity partnership or organising for a group of staff to volunteer in the local community, CSR is part of being in business. CSR is a great way to engage your staff, build teams and fulfil your business’s role as a responsible part of the wider community. Large businesses often run substantial CSR programmes but small firms can contribute by engaging with local charity events. Charity isn’t an obvious profile raising tool for businesses but it can be a great way of increasing your profile in the market while conveying a positive image as a good corporate citizen.


Think Local
If you are a local business, your customers will want to see you supporting the local area. Charitable organisations are often funded purely through donations. What’s more, they often need help with more than just finance. A nice way to support such charities is to allow your staff to volunteer some time (say 1 or 2 days per year) during work to help out with the charity’s activities. Alternatively, if some of your team are sporty, they could run a marathon to raise money. They could write about their experience in the local newspaper or a relevant business journal, giving give the business and the charity some good PR off the back of the event.

Stick with what you are good at
If you want to build the profile of your business in a particular sector, you could try to support a relevant charity which you would like your business to be associated with. For example, if you offer accounting and taxation services to the social housing sector, then you could help out a social housing charity as part of your CSR programme. This would help to raise the profile of your firm in this market, while at the same time giving your business and your people the opportunity to engage in CSR.

Go with what you believe in
You may think that there is nothing you can do to help, but if there is a particular charity that you believe in then contact them. If you are passionate and enthusiastic about the chosen charity your firm supports, this will come across when you talk about it. It will make good reading in the local newspaper while generating some PR for your firm at the same time.



 An effective system that can create, store, and track documents electronically is a necessity in any modern business. One thing that is common with any growing business is the large number of documents that have to be stored and retrieved as the need arises. This calls for an effective document management system and a firm-wide document management policy. Whether documents are stored and made available in paper, electronic, or online formats, a document management system will enhance document security as well as making things easier to locate when needed.

One of the most important components of this kind of system is an ability to capture data and index it in such a way that storage, retrieval, and distribution become instant. Many businesses that introduce such a system soon discover how effective and efficient the management of documents and information can become. Another important aspect is that after information has been stored, it can be made available to authorised personnel as and when they need it. So processes such as sales, audit reports, etc become more efficient.


Secure storage of documents is a key feature of a Document Management System. A properly designed system can keep documents using different types of media depending on factors such as how frequently they are used, their nature, as well as the ease and convenience of their use. There are web document management systems that require documents to be stored on databases or servers, other systems that require storage on optical media such as DVDs and CDs, and still others that require storage magnetically using tape drives or hard disks. Depending on your business, your IT service provider will help you to decide what system is best for your firm.

There is more to record management than storage of documents. A good system will enable staff to efficiently retrieve or sort required documents, speeding up process driven work. Another advantage of a document management system is that all documents are available for the next person online immediately, increasing efficiency within the business.

A computer and web based document management system ensures smooth intra-organisational connectivity which also extends to inter-office levels with a well managed flow of information. Authorised users can also connect to the system when working from home or out on the road. With fast and convenient operations, the business will benefit from further efficiencies and increased levels of productivity.


CPA Practitioners’ Conference 2012

I am delighted to have been invited to speak at the 2012 CPA Practitioners’ Conference the notification to members  is as follows:

‘Best Practice in Practice’ Conference                                                                             

Do you want to discover the tools, information and expertise needed to achieve best practice in practice?

Do you want to make your practice a success?

Discover how at the 2012 Practitioners’ Conference

The Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co Laois

Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd September 2012

As Practitioners’ struggle to stay afloat and grow business in this time of economic crisis our expert speaker Carla Manning ADCA CPA will highlight the tools and activities Practitioners’ can undertake to make their Practice the best in practice. Bringing her wealth of experience, skill and knowledge developed over the last 15 years working with a diverse range of clients across a variety of industry sectors Carla will address the following crucial issues:

–          Managing Cash-flow – Do you have an airtight cash management system in place? Are you collecting what you are owed? Are you effectively managing your cash-flow?

–          Reviewing Your Clients – When did you last step back and analyse your client base? Do you know who is making you money and who is costing you money?

–          Strategic Planning – What do we do? Who do we do it for? How do we grow, succeed, excel? Key questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to strategic planning.

–          Being Proactive with Clients – Do you proactively bring business ideas to your clients? Are you missing cross-selling opportunities with existing clients?

–          Paperless Office – Sick of paper cuts? Do you aim for a paperless office? What alternatives to paper are available?

Carla Manning ADCA, CPA is the owner of CACM Accountants and Registered Auditors, a proactive and innovative accountancy practice based in Cork, established in 2009.

In 2011, Carla launched a new on-line business – which provides a fully on-line company incorporation service to individuals as well as being an out source solution for Accountants and the legal profession.  The website provides live limited company name check and is the first in Ireland to work with the Companies Registration Office to bring this to market through technology called “Open Services”

Carla teaches on new business start up programmes. Carla currently holds the position of Treasurer in Network Cork and is a member of the Board of Cork Midsummer Festival. She was recently invited to join the steering group for the Economic Development Plan for the Northside of Cork.

Protecting your business.

Planning & Budgeting

A well-run business will have controls and procedures in place to monitor the business as well as providing means of gathering relevant information in order to monitor the business on its way to achieving its goals and objectives. Controls also provide an early warning that something maybe wrong.

Most people would associate such procedures and controls with very large organisations, however, planning, budgeting and forecasting are vital tools for SMEs as well.

Strategic Plans & Business Plans

Every business should have a strategic business plan which is vital to developing a long-term view of where business is going and how it plans to get there. When a business is considering raising finance, the plan for finance providers needs to include a significant amount additional information in order to provide new parties with a better understanding of the business. It usually contains information about the history of the business, the owners/managers and key personal, range of products and services as well as financial information (historical and projected).The purpose of the plan is to enable the business to sell itself to potential investors and finance providers.


Now, more than ever it is vital that all businesses prepare an annual budget to decide a plan for the business in the following years. It is important that the budget is reviewed on a regular basis in order to measure progress and monitor as to whether the business is achieving its targets and if not, then why not.


If an SME does not have the resources in-house to prepare the information, accountants can help to devise a simplified system of planning, budgeting and forecasting which summarises key performance indicators and provides a feedback mechanism. After all, it is of no benefit to have set targets and budgets if they are not being reviewed regularly and actions agreed where significant variances arise.
Contact CACM Accountants for further information.

How to turn your financial goals into reality!


Register To Attend This Free Seminar Here

Date: Tuesday 29th May 2012

Venue: Imperial Hotel

Time: 6pm to 8pm

An evening seminar held in the Imperial Hotel Cork, on Tuesday 29 May will address many key issues relating to your personal and professional financial security whilst providing advice on good planning and how to make the most of your financial advisor.

•Do you clearly understand your personal and professional financial goals?
•Is your Financial Adviser or Accountant aware of these goals?
•Do you know what questions to ask when enquiring about financial options?
•Are you protecting your business interests?
•Do you want peace of mind knowing your loved ones are taken care of financially?
•Do you have a Pension?
•Are you saving for retirement?
•Have you recently carried out a Financial Health Check?

These questions and many more will be addressed on Tuesday, 29 May by guest speakers, Ms Carla Manning, Owner, CACM Accountants and  Sandra Maher, Managing Director, Inspire Financial.

Financial reviews are becoming more and more important in the current climate. It is advisable to put good plans in place which in the long-run will save money and ensure tax efficiency. Anyone interested in learning more about protecting their future financial well-being and gaining peace of mind should come along to this event on the 29 May. Light refreshments will be served at registration.

About The Speakers

About Carla Manning:

Carla Manning ADCA, CPA is the owner of CACM Accountants and Registered Auditors, a proactive and innovative accountancy practice based in Cork. As well as providing general accontancy services such as accounts preparation, audit and taxation services, we provide a full service for new business start ups. Carla has continually seen the areas where small and medium sized businesses struggle to develop and grow their business while also trying to maintain proper books and records and assess the financial affairs of their business. We pride ourselves in working closely with our client’s through the year so as to ensure that our client’s have the necessary support and advice needed in these clallenging times.

About Sandra Maher:

As Managing Director of Inspire Financial Options Sandra Maher has a proven history of giving Financial Advice in a wide range of personal and business situations. Having worked in Permanent TSB for twenty five years, Sandra has forged strong relationships within the industry. In her role as Senior Assistant Manager at permanent tsb she gained extensive expertise in risk assessment, lending, debt analysis, budgeting and customer relationship management. Sandra left the bank in 2006, setting up her own business as an independent financial adviser in Cork City.

Get more information

Register Here Now!