It’s December, and instead of winding down for Christmas, some of us are panicking at the thought of a £100 fine if our self-assessments aren’t submitted by the 31st of January!
Last year I edited a really easy-to-read book with a simple system for keeping on top of your bookkeeping.
Its author, Helen Monaghan, is a Chartered Management Accountant – and perhaps surprisingly, a coach.
Helen has written several books, and I’m proud to say that I’m the editor of her latest, ‘The Magical Mix of Money & Tax’, which is more than just a how-to book. Over the years, she has heard no end of excuses why business owners don’t keep on top of their accounts. December and January are probably her busiest months when her clients go into panic mode!
There are experts, and then there are experts!
Helen needed a proofreader for her draft book since, although she knows her stuff and is an expert in her particular field, she acknowledged that there were bound to be some errors when it came to actually getting it down in writing, since she was too close to it to see the obvious.
As a proofreader, as well as keeping a beady eye open for a few spelling or punctuation mistakes, I look a bit deeper than that. It’s easy to find you have written very long sentences which can lose the reader’s interest. It may be full of very relevant information, but the brain needs to keep track of the verb in a sentence, otherwise none of it will make sense. Shorter sentences help.
Another thing I like to point out is that as an expert in our field, whatever our expertise, we get comfortable using jargon and acronyms, and tend to forget that we might be using a “foreign language” to the lay person, so sometimes a writer needs reminding of that fact.
Common sayings that we all use in everyday language can also trip us up – one I hear quite often is “Be rest assured that …” which is a bit of a mix between “Rest assured that …” and “Be assured that…”.
Sometimes, you just need useful habits
A tip that is very easy to make a useful habit when typing a Word document is to use the Synonym Finder. If you find you use the same word frequently to the point that it’s becoming repetitive and its meaning is becoming diluted, select that word and “right click” to see the list of alternative words that drop down. In the case of the word “expert” for example, you could choose one of “specialist / skillful / proficient / knowledgeable / adept” – whichever best fits the context.
Helen’s approach to her role as a management accountant is to keep it simple. That way, she can help anyone to keep on top of their finances, whether a big business or a family that wants to budget so they can plan for holidays and nice family events.
Approaching this from the standpoint of getting the mindset right and introducing useful habits, Helen lists many of these objections as chapter headings and picks them apart one by one, taking the reader through the steps to dispel the sense of overwhelm that comes over some of us – me included!
All you need is help to take the first step
At Chapter 6 as I was proofreading, I decided to take action with my own disordered pile of business expense receipts. I got up from my desk and I found 12 large envelopes and marked each with a date ranging from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next and ensured the current month’s envelope was close to hand. This means I have no excuse not to “file” my receipts every day! It felt really good taking that first and very easy step!
So, if you feel you need a helping hand with the numbers game, you can reach Helen at email@example.com, or just order a copy of her book which is about to be published by Indie Authors World and will be available on Amazon and all other booksellers – just enough time for you to get ready for HMRC!
* If you need a helping hand with the words game – contact me!
M: 07825 587 696