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.




Effectively managing difficult employees can be a challenging prospect. Whether it is the employee who is consistently late, who complains incessantly or who seems to constantly upset their co-workers, every company must deal with difficult employees.

difficult emplyees

These situations drain management’s time and energy, impact on the morale of co-workers and interfere with overall workplace productivity. The key to effectively addressing such situations begins with an understanding of the issues and a clear identification of the actual source of the problem.

Even the best employee can have an off-day (or week, or month). Before deciding if an employee is difficult, managers must first step back and neutrally assess the situation. The first question to ask is whether the behaviour is critical enough to implement a formal HR process. Another important concept to consider is that ‘different’ does not equal ‘difficult’. There will always be employees that a manager does not gel with, understand or even like. However, this is not enough to deem an employee difficult. To constitute a “difficult employee”, behaviour must exceed acceptable standards, policies and procedures or interfere with productivity.

Define the Problem

When addressing the problems created by difficult employees, the focus should always be on job performance. It is management’s duty to clearly explain why the issue is a problem, and how the problem is adversely impacting the company. At this stage it may be useful to refer to the employee’s job description and the company handbook.

Clarify Roles

It is important that both the manager and employee are absolutely clear on individual roles. The manager’s role is to ensure business success by leading, coaching and supporting employees. The employee’s role is to meet predefined performance and behaviour standards, and function as a cooperative team member. A key concept that employees must grasp is that it is not only the level of their performance that is important, but also how their performance affects the functioning of their team, department and the company overall.

Identify Expectations

This is where the manager should clarify four things – the employee’s performance, responsibilities, impact of their behaviour and the consequences if it doesn’t change. A follow up and ongoing review should be scheduled and regular updates between the manager and the employee will help to move things forward and get the employee back on track.


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.

Health check for your business

Some easy things for you to check

Whether you are just starting out in business or whether you’ve been around for sometime, it is always worth taking time out to make sure you are claiming all deductions for allowable business expenses. When trying to figure out if an expense is allowed as a business expense or not, remember the basic rule – in operating your business, you are entitled to claim a deduction for any business expense you have incurred in order to earn your profit. There are many items that are clearly regarded as a business expense and include such items as:

-Purchase of stock for re-sale
-Wages and salaries
-Rent and rates of business premises
-Repairs and maintenance
-Light and heat
-The running costs of vehicles used in the business (service costs, motor tax, insurance)
-Accountancy fees
-Legal and Professional fees
-Advertising and marketing costs
-Interest paid on any monies borrowed to finance business expenses/items,

This list is not exhaustive – so it is worth checking all your outgoings regularly to make sure you are including all relevant business expenses.

Expenses Not Allowed

Unfortunately, there are certain expenses that cannot be claimed as a business expense at any time. You cannot claim for any private expenses or any expense, not wholly and exclusively paid for the purposes of the trade or profession. Such items include:

– Any private or domestic expenditure, e.g. your own food and clothing (except protective clothing)
– Income Tax
– Business entertainment expenditure which includes the provision of accommodation, food, drink or any other form of hospitality. Staff Christmas parties are allowed.

Confusion often surrounds the area of Food and Meal Expenses. The rules relating to food and meals are actually quite clear – the cost of meals taken at the place of business are not allowable for tax purposes. Meals consumed away from the place of business are, in general, not regarded as being wholly and exclusively laid out for the purposes of the business. Revenue’s view point on this is that everyone must eat in order to live and so whether you are working or not, you would still have to eat. However, where the nature of a business involves travelling or where occasional business journeys outside the normal pattern are made, then the cost of meals maybe allowed as an expense.

The cost of work clothing such as business suits are not allowable business expenses either. Again, the view point has been taken by Revenue that an individual has to wear something for heat, warmth and decency and so it has been held that any expenditure on clothing is not wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business. The cost of any protective clothing is fully deductible.

Pre Trading Expenses

If you have only recently set up in business, you may have spent quite a bit before you ever started trading. The good news is that whether you are a limited company, sole trader or partnership, you can claim for certain pre-trading expenses. A deduction is allowed for pre-trading expenses which are incurred
in the three years prior to commencement of the trade or profession and would not normally be allowable, but would have been allowable if they had been incurred after the date of commencement of the trade or profession.
Examples of pre-trading expenses might include accountancy fees, advertising costs, costs of feasibility studies, costs of preparing business plans, rent paid for the premises from which the business operates. The allowable amounts are treated as having been incurred at the time the business commences.

Expenses Part Business, Part Private

When an expense is incurred and it relates to both business and personal/private use, then only the amount that relates to the business portion is allowed as a deduction. An example of such an expense would be telephone costs or light and heat costs where a business is operated from a home office. The total costs should be split between business and private and only the business portion is allowed as a deduction. For light and heat, the easiest way to apportion the cost is as a percentage of the total floor area of the house. It is worth bearing in mind though that if you sell your home (the profit from which is normally exempt from capital gains tax) the portion that was used for business purposes will be subject to capital gains tax.

The above is an outline of the principles surrounding business expenses and is intended for general guidance only.