Don’t Overlook the Obvious

Making good decisions can sometimes seem hard. Sometimes just making decisions can be hard. Many people just don’t, they prevaricate and avoid taking responsibility at all costs. But, you are I know that the best decision is always the right one, the next best is the wrong one and the worst decision is making no decision at all.

If you make the right decision, that’s great but sometimes you will not know for some time. Likewise, if you make the wrong one. However, having identified that you got it wrong, you can change it. It is rare that you cannot belatedly change your mind. But, it can happen. But, if you make no decision, you never find out the right path to take. You stay there in limbo and the problem that you wanted to resolve never goes away. You stagnate.

This, however, assumes that if you get something wrong, you take it on the chin and change. You don’t get all defensive and try to make out it was really right, by some form of strange logic. That helps no one, least of all you. Make a mistake, recognise it, and move on. Don’t dwell on it, just learn from the experience.

One of the things that I frequently did wrong over the years was rushing. I would rush around, then go into a meeting poorly prepared, or prepare a written piece of work and immediately send it out. These days, I like to allow around 30 minutes to prepare for any meeting. If a meeting is worth attending, all of us will get more out of it if I am up to speed on the specifics and the background. If I am preparing a written piece of work, I like to leave it overnight and then read it again. I’ll do the same with this piece. I may even read it over a couple of times, a day or so in between each time.

I suppose I feel that there are always nuances in any situation where my brain does not immediately come forward with all the relevant ideas. Sometimes, on a second read, you come up with blindingly obvious ideas that you did not consider the first time around.

I suppose the other point here is that when you are rushing around, attending meetings, finishing work, and constantly on the go, your mind does not get the chance to come forward with new ideas.

Many years ago I used to find that going away to conferences and other events, where I was not thinking about the daily grind, gave me valuable insights into our business. It gave me that step back moment, and I regularly saw things that when up close, I could not see.

There is an old expression about not seeing the wood for the trees, and it is just so true. When you are in the middle of it all, you often miss the bigger picture, or at least I do. You may not find this, in which case let me ask you a question. When you were last on holiday and not thinking about the business, did thoughts and ideas still bubble up to the surface?

You need time and space to think. I used to be a part of a mastermind of accountants. This was a group of 15 to 20 accountants from all over the UK who came together 4 times a year to discuss running accounting practices, primarily the business aspects. One of the comments I heard frequently was the importance of thinking time. One of the accountants started to stay at home one morning a week. He was working from early, around 6am to lunchtime from home. This time was not for client work, which would have been the case in the office, but it was time that he could work on, as opposed to in his business. So important.

If you are on the tools all day, every day, when do you really have time to think and lay down plans for the future of your business and you personally?

So, are there obvious things that you are missing? Do you have all the information that you need? Do you have your own mastermind group, where you can explore other related ideas? Do you take the time to work on your business? If not, where are you going and why?

This is where information is key. I know I keep banging on about having good accounting records, but it is important. If you had monthly figures, however basic, how would that impact your daily decision making? Do you project your cash flows over the next 12 months, however basic, to plan for cash requirements coming up? Tax is often the big one here. It only hits you once or twice a year but have you planned for the cash required? You need to be thinking about these basics. After all….

… cash is king! So obvious!


Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

07770 738770



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