That’s the way I like it.
I don’t know about you, but we see change around us daily. Now, some of this is technology where we are just catching up, but I think everybody is a bit like that. There may be something out there that will solve a problem for you, but you just have not found it yet. Could it be that you have not asked the right questions to the right people? That has certainly happened to us on occasion.
Communications is a problem for us, or at least the technology to facilitate communications. We had a bad experience a few years ago when our telephone provider was sold and the new company was utterly appalling to deal with, sending us unintelligible invoices, overcharging and constantly changing staff. We are not with them now. We moved on, at a cost! We have been with our current supplier for a while now and are learning to trust again. So, with their help, we are now looking at getting rid of the telephone, that big black device taking up desk space with cables adding to the spaghetti under the desk. Who would have believed it or predicted that change in working practices?
If all goes well, our computers will become our phones, and so for me, that means that anywhere I plug in my laptop, I should have an office phone. Mobiles are fine but have their limitations.
Travel is another area where we are seeing change. Helen and I have just acquired our first electric car. The technology takes a bit of getting used to, plus the fact that there is no gear lever. This is our private car but, of course, we bought it through the company. The company therefore pays absolutely everything, so we don’t need to do that out of taxed personal income. For the moment the benefits in kind for the company providing us with an electric car are minimal so it makes a lot of sense to put everything through the company. It also means that we can get the VAT back on tyres, servicing etc.
So, we see change in car technology but also in the tax system, but at least this time, the tax changes are in our favour.
Employment is changing. We introduced a policy to accommodate flexible and remote working for our staff. It works well. As you would expect we have built in safeguards about security etc. This has been facilitated in part by changes in the way you, our clients, keep your accounting records, and also because we have been largely paperless for quite a few years. No more paper files. All our working papers are on the computer and all incoming post is scanned and stored electronically along with outgoing mail, which we generate on the computers anyway. Add to that, the fact that so much now gets uploaded to a secure client area in the cloud, avoiding the need to send or receive paper documents by snail mail.
Then there is marketing. We published a monthly paper newsletter for about 12 years. We prepared it, printed it on one of our classy printers from Highland Copiers, and posted it out to our clients and contacts. We now do it weekly. We still must prepare the material but then all I do is upload it to Dropbox on a Monday and I then have a Lauren (you should get one) from Adder Business who sorts it all out, sending an email, but also publishing the material on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. It’s quicker, cheaper and much more fun!
We also see imaginative new businesses springing up that you would not have imagined a few years ago. Take CATCH for example. I thought it was just a call handling service but it is so much more and seems to be getting rave reviews, and it’s based in Inverness. So, if you don’t have or want a receptionist, are busy out working through the day and don’t want to have to deal with phone calls, or just need an overflow service, give them a call. Many local businesses, from sole traders to some that are quite substantial are already using their services.
So for us, change brings opportunity. On the flip side of that, exploiting opportunities inevitably brings change. So, you have to be open to embracing changes, even if initially it might be a little uncomfortable. You will reap the rewards down the track.
Our business is growing. More changes. More on that another time.
If you want to carry on this discussion but you are not sure where to find us, please click here.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership