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TLBK feature in the FT in Mike Southon's column: 'Find the fun in the figures'

London, UK (18/09/2009)

LONDON (Financial Times) The successful entrepreneur has many attributes, including energy, ambition, confidence, perseverance and charm. My experience as a mentor leads me to suggest another characteristic – an almost pathological fear of the spreadsheet.

You need only visit the intrepid sole trader to see the evidence: a file of unpaid invoices next to a plastic bag full of unsorted receipts.

When Chris West and I put together ideas for follow-up books to The Beermat Entrepreneur, high on the list was a book on finance, but this was postponed in favour of a book on sales.

When Chris did write Finance on a Beermat with Stephen King and Jeff Macklin, the small business experts, it was a testament to his ability to make a complex subject simple and accessible. When the book came out, I read it and understood it.

I always explain to entrepreneurs that working out how to be profitable and scale their business is just as important as delivering good products and finding customers. But while it is important to have a basic understanding of how finance works, it is often best to outsource the work of putting your accounts in order to a local bookkeeper as soon as you can afford it.

I was therefore delighted to meet Alex King from The Local Bookkeeper, which as Cuprinol’s advertising slogan puts it: “Does exactly what it says on the tin.” The company emerged from Franaccounts, the accounting practice that delivers accounting services for franchises and national businesses.

The concept behind The Local Bookkeeper is simple: let entrepreneurs get on with what they do best, which is running their business, supported by someone who can explain in plain English what is really going on so they can make the right decisions.

The Local Bookkeeper has more than 30 offices across the country, run by chartered accountants and qualified bookkeepers, providing bookkeeping, payroll, management accounts and credit control services.

King claims that the premise of The Local Bookkeeper is to provide a consistent and reliable level of service with nationwide coverage.

Customers include sole traders, such as taxi drivers, who require the minimum amount of work to prepare their accounts. At the other end of the scale are business owners who have a good understanding of finance but see the benefits of outsourcing to a virtual accounts department.

The Local Bookkeeper also looks after ambitious entrepreneurs, who would like to grow their business, but who are, like me, scared of finance.

Most of their customers are passionate about the services they provide, but dread the evenings spent trying to manage their accounts.

People become entrepreneurs for a number of reasons: to make money, to control their destiny, to make a difference to their lives; essentially to have more fun. Fun for The Local Bookkeeper involves getting your accounts in order and providing proactive advice on how best to scale your business.

This should enable entrepreneurs to enjoy life more by allowing them to spend more time with their customers and their families, not poring over spreadsheets deep into the night.
 
For more information, please visit: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4c9fee70-8c02-11de-b14f-00144feabdc0.html



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