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Want More Sales? Advance Business Growth Centre Uttoxeter Networking Lunch All About Mentoring – Tuesday 7th October (12-2pm)

The next networking lunch put on by the Advance Business Growth Centre in Uttoxeter is being held on Tuesday 2nd September from 12-2pm..

Come along to network, make business contacts and get to know other professionals living and working in Uttoxeter and East Staffordshire in an semi-formal networking environment with a very nice buffet lunch.

There is a guest speaker – Stuart Walton from Conspicuous CBM Ltd, Staffordshire’s leading referral marketing consultancy talking about the importance of mentoring and the Staffordshire Chamber’s Of Commerce Let’s Do Mentoring Programme – “Want more business? Get some mentoring in your life”.  Stuart will be assisted by the Chamber’s of Commerce Let’s Do Mentoring team on the day to answer any questions, and there will be some existing Mentees to talk about the benefits they get from the programme.

For more information and to confirm attendance please book via Samantha Halden-Evans at Samantha.Halden-Evans@advance-consultancy.com or ring 01889 561510.  The address for the event is at the Advance Business Growth Centre  on Church Street, Uttoxeter, ST14 8AG.

A booking link exists here – CLICK HERE

Let all your friends and business acquaintances know through the normal social media channels.

Look forward to meeting local business ourselves on the day to talk about mentoring.

Also on Friday 26th September between 10&1pm, the Advance Business Growth Centre will be holding a coffee morning in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support.  Please go along and support this great cause too with our friends at the Growth Centre.

If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with us via LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with us LinkedIn, subscribe to our newsletter or our Superstars of Networking tips series via this website.

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Want More Sales? Remember The ROI On Your Networking!

One of the misconceptions commonly seen to people new to business networking and referral marketing situations is the cost!

New businesses have many challenges that they face – recognise any of them?

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Not surprisingly “No Money” is one of them which leads them to make sub-optiminal decisions on whether to join a more formal networking group.  They think they can’t afford to do this and their belief as to the virtues of networking – better leads & more sales opportunities, mentoring and support, personal development and confidence, and great suppliers etc are not strong.  Especially true we have observed if they come from the world of “work” and never had to build relationships in their safe employment haven!

Even for more experienced businesses who might “get networking” as a way of building relationships and thus sales don’t have a good handle on how much return they need to squeeze from any networking group they join to make a positive return on their investment.

What Are The Costs Of Membership per annum?  The investment one has to consider each year (this example is for a more structure referral marketing group) is as follows:

  • Cost of membership – typically £600 per annum incl VAT
  • Cost of meeting fees – Between £10 to £15 incl VAT per meeting which can vary between 25 or 50 per annum, say £300 for the purpose of the exercise.
  • Cost of transport to & from the meeting – Say 45p per mile which we can approximate to £300 per annum for this exercise.
  • Cost of “coffees” for 121s & transport to and from these meetings – say 30 meetings per annum at £15 per 121 approximates to circa £450 per annum for this very important activity.

Total cash cost of the above is £1,650 – is this the investment you are making in your referral marketing group?  The answer to many people is YES.  This is an error that many make!  The true investment you have to make is much higher – it is your time!  This is made up of the time spent at the meetings, 121s (vast majority of the time including travel), looking for referrals for fellow members, inviting guests, social media promotion, training etc.

On average this might be 4-5 hours a week at minimum or over 250 hours over a year.  How you value this time depends on your business but if we were to use £25 an hour as your opportunity cost, then you have added an easy £6,000 to your “networking” investment.  Does this seem a lot of time to spend on a marketing system?  Well most businesses should be spending at least 20% of their time marketing and selling to keep their pipeline constant, and if you’re a new business it should be 100%!

So depending on the circumstances of your referral marketing group, your investment is at least  the best part of £8,000 per annum.  This is the level your benefits need to exceed in order to have a positive return on investment, with the greatest cost being associated with the time you spend operating the referral marketing system in its entirety.

Some counter arguments to this cost estimate, might be that “if I do a breakfast group I would be asleep anyway, so this is free time!” – true enough but the majority of the time will be in 121s which will be in normal working hours, and if your referral marketing group meets at other times, every hour count!  Other arguments are that 121s are not important to getting a return – again you might strike lucky in a group where little effort is required to get a great return, but in our experience every minute spent doing 121s is time very well spent and key to referral marketing success in any system.

£8000+ seems a great deal of money to invest in a referral marketing group membership but:

  • Fact – Networking brings firms a rich stream of new contacts that can make networkers more successful & profitable
  • Fact – Networking help businesses to understand their customers and the marketplace better whilst testing their message and its effectiveness.
  • Fact – Business networking is a great way to meet your ideal business to business target market.
  • Fact – These groups can literally become an unpaid sales force for the small to mid size business businesses in their community.
  • Fact – Networking is the easiest route to market for good businesses to show they are different from the rest.

All it takes for referral marketing and business networking to succeed for your business is:

  • Hardwork
  • Discipline
  • Perseverance
  • And an plan of action & targets to aim for

The Elements for success for any networking or referral marketing group are which you must do equally:

  • Presence – You need to be at each meeting or trust does not develop
  • 121s – You have to invest in getting to know other businesses better and vice-versa
  • Giving referrals – you are at the heart of the community, giving referrals to fellow group members from your client base or to other professionals should be easy.
  • Guests – whether you are new or old businesses have clients that they need to keep up with. Save money on wasted marketing literature, pay for the meeting fee and solve your client’s problem or solve another member’s problem by bringing them along to meet your fellow group members & get a free testimonial to boot!
  • Focus – Have a clear plan of what referrals you want so you can let people know in elevator pitches, presentations and 121s what you want as leads, introductions and referrals
  • Energy & enthusiasm – It’s not hard for any business to take a leading role in any group and help it succeed (especially through social media).

All the above are easy steps for the well organised, disciplined and energetic business to manage!  You will get your return if you are honest about the cost and value your time (which will focus you to do it properly), and of course honest in valuing all the benefits of membership both implicit and explicit from sales and opportunities, lower purchase costs, free advice, to all the coaching and development from fellow members.

With great FOCUS and a a bottle of mental perspiration thinking about your ideal customer (the number one cause of success for any referral marketeer) at your fingertips – you can only succeed and get a great ROI!

Joining any referral marketing group is in our experience a matter go how it feels.  If it does not feel right people won’t join (CLICK HERE WHY) but as long as it is run properly (CLICK HERE WHY NOT) you will get your justified return over time.

If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with us via LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with us LinkedIn, subscribe to our newsletter or our Superstars of Networking tips series via this website.

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Want More Sales? Build Your Personal Brand Online!

Occasionally we like to share information on other topics from top international and local experts especially on social media which is key to amplifying “Reputation”, “Networking” and “Referral Marketing” the other 3 pillars of low cost marketing we recommend for all new and small businesses and helps your real world networking and referral marketing activities.

Do you ever Google someone when you want to learn more about them?  Do you think anyone Google’s you when they are thinking of doing business with you? Today it is the norm to do some research on potential business providers, vendors, suppliers, employees etc. Most people will even Google someone they are thinking of dating! What comes up in that search identifies the quality of your personal brand.  So branding yourself online is now key to business and sales success.

Today’s great tip is no exception thanks to Melonie Dodaro from TopDog Social Media in Canada

Originally published February 2014 as a blog post on their website, this excellent essay on the topic of building your personal brand online was titled – “10 Steps To Build Your Personal Brand Online” which we think gives some great tips on getting your online branding right:

The 10 Steps are:

  1. Do The Google Test
  2. Complete Your LinkedIn Profile
  3. Setup Google Authorship With Your Blog
  4. Write a Great Facebook Bio
  5. Write a Great Twitter Bio
  6. Create A Killer Google+ Tagline & Fill Out Occupations Section
  7. Specialize
  8. Guest Blog For Websites Bigger Than Yours
  9. Use Professional Graphic Design Services
  10. Remember The 10 Commandments of Social Media

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Read the article for all the details – we can only endorse all the tips especially on LinkedIn (and LinkedIn Recommendations) and Blogging!

Let us know how you did in the Google test and share some of your suggestions for building a personal brand in the comments below or via LinkedIn.

Remember spending quality time branding yourself online will help you impress future partners and get you more sales, as reputation and confidence in you rises!

Follow Melonie on TWITTER for more great digital marketing tips.

If you know of any great Staffordshire, West Midlands or International experts we can share with the world – let us know via LinkedIn

If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with us via LinkedIn.  Feel free to connect with us LinkedIn, subscribe to our newsletter or our Superstars of Networking tips series via this website.

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Want To Avoid Paying More Tax? Get Tax Relief For Entertaining!

Occasionally we like to share information on other topics from top local experts.

These great tips are again thanks to Paul Woodcock, Director of top local accountants PJW Accounting based in Rugeley.

Today is no exception with yet another excellent LinkedIn & email newsletter post on this topic – “Getting tax-relief for your entertaining”:

In a previous article on the 5 ways of making entertaining tax-deductible on LinkedIn I’ve received some feedback suggesting that the option of “Going-Dutch” mentioned within isn’t really that feasible in practice. While I stick by my original advice (because this obtains the most tax-relief for you), I’m always willing to accept criticism and look at other options. But before I make a suggestion lets go back to first principles on entertaining:-

Is entertaining is ever tax-deductible?
The short answer is no – the Taxman always disallows your entertaining costs. So, the key is to not have it categorised as entertaining in the first place. One of the easiest ways of doing this is get “entertaining” classed as “subsistence” instead. This is because subsistence has the benefit of being both tax-deductible and VAT reclaimable – so a win-win.

So what makes a meal “subsistence” rather than “entertaining”?
The basic tax rule is that business owners may claim back their reasonable costs of meals incurred during a “Business Trip”. The cost of that meal is what we call “subsistence”. A Business Trip for these purposes is any trip away from the normal place of business, not forming part of what is considered “normal business travel”. So clearly, a trip from your office in Rugeley to a customer in London would be a Business Trip. However a trip from Rugeley to a customer two miles away in Armitage would not. This is because if you were working in Armitage you could have returned to the office for a sandwich, so any lunch you buy for yourself in Armitage is personal.

How far must you travel for it to become a Business Trip?
There is no hard-and-fast rule about how far you must travel before it becomes unreasonable for you return to the office; and nothing is stated in the Taxman’s manuals to help us either. It’s just a matter of whether it would have been reasonable to return home, so you need to use some common sense.

Guidance Tip:- As a general rule of thumb I take the view that if you’re travelling more than 5 miles from the normal place of work then that’s the point it starts to become unreasonable to expect you to return to the office for lunch.

So how do you turn “entertaining” into “subsistence”?
It’s purely a matter of making sure when you buy a meal it is bought as part of a Business Trip. Therefore, if you buy a client a meal it s entertaining and never allowable. Also, if you take a client for a meal locally the cost of your meal is also entertaining and not allowable because you were not on a Business Trip. However, if you’ve travelled far enough not to be expected to return to the office then it’s Business Trip and you can claim your part of the meal as subsistence. As a result, it often pays to set up an arrangement with your customers where you have a policy of ‘visitor pays’. This is because if you play host to them near your offices then all the meal is entertaining and non-deductible, whereas if the visitor pays then half the meal becomes tax-deductible.

Extra tax saving tip:- There is an exception to this ‘visitor pays’rule – If your visitor is making a direct contribution to your business (e.g. repairing or installing computers for the day) then you could pay for their meal and just claim it as part of their IT repair costs – their meal then becomes tax-deductible as part of the computer repair costs.

So there you go – deductible ‘entertaining’ without going Dutch!…”

If you want to talk to Paul on more top tax tips to help your business or subscribe to his newsletter then please contact him via LinkedIn, email him at paul@pjwaccounting.co.uk or call him on 01889 586431.

Watch out for more top tips on all sorts of subjects from local experts.

If you know of any great Staffordshire or West Midlands experts we can share with the world – let me know via LinkedIn

If you are an accountant or in a another profession and If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with us via LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with us LinkedIn, subscribe to our newsletter or our Superstars of Networking tips series via this website.

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Still Want More Success? Go To Staffordshire Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014

On November 20th at the Stoke Moathouse Hotel, following on from the success of last year’s event, Sarah White is organising another day of fun, speakers and connections to celebrate Global Entrepreneur Week 2014.

There is an all-star list of speakers including Katie Hopkins & our old friend Rob Brown:

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Read more about the day online – CLICK HERE

Book now by 21 September to get the early-bird special for £39.95 using this link – Book Online: CLICK ME TO BOOK

This promises to be a packed day of networking and inspirational speakers looking at the agenda!

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See you there if you are a Staffordshire Entrepreneur that is really interested in “Getting Inspired, Getting Motivated, Getting Ideas and Getting Connected” with the 200 delegates, Sarah White is planning to have there!

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Want More Success? Go To The Legends Event – Rugeley On 15th October!

On October 15th at the Hawksyard Estate, near Lichfield (WS15 1PU), some local business superstars will be holding “The Only Kick-Up The Arse Staffordshire Entrepreneurs Will Need To Make 2015 Their Best Year Ever!”

This follows from the success of the first event on April 2nd put on by the same team led by Karl Lehmann from St James Wealth Management which was the “The Biggest, Baddest Profit Building Breakfast SuperConference Staffordshire Entrepreneurs Have Ever Seen!”

Read more about it with the online flyer – link here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/240027179/Legends-2-0-1

Book now by 30 September to get the early-bird special for £10 :-) using this link – Book Online: http://breakfastsuperconference-part2.eventbrite.co.uk

Guest speakers include our old friend Rob Brown talking “Word-of-Mouth Marketing Secrets” – It is worth the price of admission alone to hear Rob talking networking, referral marketing, and word-of-mouth lead generation!

Other guest speakers include Tony Burgess, talking about how to get out of your own way to ensure success, and Alison Bradford on being super-productive.

See you there if you are a Staffordshire Entrepreneur that is really interested in “Making 2015 Your Best Year Ever!”.

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Want More Sales? Say Thank You On Social Media!

We like to share information on topics from top local experts especially on social media: one of the 4 pillars of low cost marketing we recommend for all new and small businesses that really amplifies your reach and presence in order to grow and enrich your network with your thoughts, ideas and opinions with the aim of having more sales.

Today’s post no exception as it is all about saying “THANK YOU” on social media.

Giving “Thanks” is one of the key skills for generating more leads from your existing network – the very essence of referral marketing!

These set of tips ate brought to us thanks to RED WEBSITE DESIGN BLOG based in Cheshire, a fantastic digital resource of great hints, tips and tricks on digital marketing that you can follow on TWITTER.

Originally published April 2014 as a blog post on their website, this excellent essay on the topic of sating “Thank You” was titled – “6 Ways to Thank Someone on Social Media” which we think gives some great tips on saying “Thank You” on your social media channels.

“For those who don’t know Instagram is an image sharing social network and is owned by Facebook. Very simply you can post images and photos that your followers can view and when used correctly it can be a great way to show your business off to your followers.  The infographic below from The Social Tree gives you 8 ways you can use Instagram to market your business.”

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Some of the 6 tips on how to say “Thank You” include: give someone a shout-out on Twitter; give someone an endorsement on LinkedIn; or featuring someone in a blog post…..

Go to the main blog post to see this great original infographic in original size with all the 6 tips for saying “Thank You” ideas!  You will see something that works for you today on using social media to say “Thank You” to get more sales!

Go and thank someone for their work, help or support on Social Media today!

Follow RED WEBSITE DESIGN BLOG on TWITTER for more great digital marketing tips.

If you know of any great Staffordshire or West Midlands experts we can share with the world – let us know via LinkedIn

If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with me via LinkedIn.

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Want More Sales? Use Humour Carefully In Social Media!

We like to share information on topics from top local experts especially on social media: one of the 4 pillars of low cost marketing we recommend for all new and small businesses.  This is the set of tools that really amplifies your reach and presence (in order to grow and enrich your network with your thoughts, ideas and opinions) with the ultimate aim of having more sales.

Today’s post is all about “Humour” & how to use it very carefully to grow your brand, reputation and thus your sales.  We have talked about “Humour” before in 60 second or elevator pitches, and how you have to very careful – CLICK HERE.  We have even talked about it as part of the 21 embarrassing errors, networking or referral marketing groups make that stops them growing – CLICK HERE.  “Humour” is also a very dangerous topic when it comes to social media that can hurt your reputation, your sales and thus your business in a heartbeat!

These set of tips ate brought to us thanks to RED WEBSITE DESIGN BLOG based in Cheshire, a fantastic digital resource of great hints, tips and tricks on digital marketing that you can follow on TWITTER.

Originally published September 2014 as a blog post on their website, this excellent essay on the topic of “Humour” was titled – “6 Do’s & Don’ts for Using Humour on Social Media” which we think gives some great tips on getting started with your favourite social media tools in a way that won’t literally “shoot you in the business food”!.

Everybody loves a company with a good sense of humour. However, using humour on social media can be a tricky strategy as you’re relying on others to understand what you are saying – and that isn’t always the case.

For some guidelines on when and when not to use it take a look at this infographic from Beta Twenty One which gives you 6 Do’s and Don’ts for using humour on social media.

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Some of the 6 Do’s & Dont’s to using “Humour” to market your business using social media include: before a presentation review your profile – Be the first to laugh at yourself; never joke about tragedy; or avoiding sarcasm when replying to comments…

Go to the main blog post to see this great original infographic in original size with all the 6 Do’s & Dont’s.  You will see things immediately you can do better or differently to show you have character on social media to create rapport with causing offense!

In addition, read their July 2014 “Humour” blog entry “10 Tips on How to Add Some Humour to Your Marketing Strategy Using a Meme” for great ideas on using humour effectively!

Get connecting, sharing and social selling today without causing offence!

Follow RED WEBSITE DESIGN BLOG on TWITTER for more great digital marketing tips.

If you know of any great Staffordshire or West Midlands experts we can share with the world – let us know via LinkedIn

If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with us via LinkedIn.  Feel free to connect with us LinkedIn, subscribe to our newsletter or our Superstars of Networking tips series via this website.

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Want More Sales? Share Something Interesting On Social Media!

Occasionally we like to share information on other topics from top local experts especially on social media which is key to amplifying “Reputation”, “Networking” and “Referral Marketing” the other 3 pillars of low cost marketing we recommend for all new and small businesses and helps your real world networking and referral marketing activities.

Blog writing on all platforms especially LinkedIn (see our previous Blog post on writing) is key to growing your reputation, your network and your sales!  But before you get to this step, sharing a few things about your business etc. is often the first big step people need to make to get started in social media.

Today’s great tip is no exception thanks to RED WEBSITE DESIGN BLOG based in Cheshire, a fantastic digital resource of great hints, tips and tricks on digital marketing that you can follow on TWITTER.

Originally published July2014 as a blog post on their website, this excellent essay on the topic of sharing on your social media channels when inspiration is lacking was titled – “What to Share on Social Media When You Haven’t Got a Clue” which we think gives some great tips on getting in the mood to eventually  write, write, write:

One of the most common things we hear when we talk to our web design clients about using social media is that they don’t know what they should be posting. Some just steer clear of setting up their accounts completely, others set them up and let them lie dormant.  If that sounds familiar and you need some guidance on what you should be sharing take a look at this infographic from Go-Gulf.

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Some of the facts shared include: sharing Facebook is the most popular activity on Facebook whilst sharing your daily activity is what people do the most on twitter….

Go to the main blog post to see this great original infographic in original size with all facts on what works best on what social media channel to provide you with inspiration when it is lacking!

And if you’re still stuck especially on Twitter – here is their blog post “99 Things to Tweet About Besides Yourself” to give you 99 pieces of information!

Obviously if you are still needing inspiration – read super blogger Jeff Bullas’s – “20 Things You Should Share On Social Media” and of course is warning blog – “30 Things You Should Not Share On Social Media!“.  Interesting that there are more things not to share than to sure according to Jeff!

Follow RED WEBSITE DESIGN BLOG on TWITTER for more great digital marketing tips.

If you know of any great Staffordshire or West Midlands experts we can share with the world – let us know via LinkedIn

If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with us via LinkedIn.  Feel free to connect with us LinkedIn, subscribe to our newsletter or our Superstars of Networking tips series via this website.

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Want To Avoid Paying More Tax? Put Your Family On The Payroll!

Occasionally we like to share information on other topics from top local experts.

These great tips are again thanks to Paul Woodcock, Director of top local accountants PJW Accounting based in Rugeley.

Today is no exception with yet another excellent LinkedIn post on this topic – “How to Get Tax Relief by Including your Family on the Payroll”:

“To deduct or not to deduct, that is the question:
The question of whether an expense is deductible or not can be complex. It is this complexity that tends put business owners off trying to get a deduction for certain expenses. The uncertainty creates fear, the fear that if a mistake is made then the Taxman is going to turn up, disallow the expense, charge penalties and interest, and before you know it you’re in a whole lot of financial trouble and in the Taxman’s bad books. It’s enough to put you off claiming for anything! This is why it is vital for you know what makes an expense a deductible expense for tax purposes and why. That way you can make deductions with confidence. So what does the legislation say about employing family members?

Wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade!
The basic rule is – Companies can’t claim tax deductions for expenses unless these are incurred “wholly and exclusively for the purpose of the trade”. So where does that leave you with the employment of your family members such as your teenage son or daughter? If you employ them then aren’t they getting some sort of advantage from it as well, such as work experinece? And if that’s the case then aren’t they breaking the “wholly and exclusively” rule?

What do the Taxman’s Internal Manuals say?
Fortunately BIM47105 clears it up for us – where there is “‘equal pay for equal value’ the amount paid is fully allowable, notwithstanding any connection between payer and recipient”. So the Taxman doesn’t look at the arrangement in terms of the value the employee gets out of it. He’s only interested in terms of the value the Company gets out of the employee. And whatever the relationship is between employer and employee doesn’t come into it.

So what is value for money?
All you have to do is show that the amount of salary you pay is set at an appropriate level for the type of work being done. That’s it! So there’s no reason why you can’t pay your son or daughter to clean the Company Cars; scan the post; make the tea; file the paperwork, bank the cheques, sweep the floors, or train you up on the computer! In fact the list is almost endless.

And what are the Tax Savings?
Let’s say you pay your two youngsters pocket money of £80 per month each (£1,920 a year). As a 40% taxpayer this takes £3,310 of your salary (£3,310 less tax at 40% of £1,324 and NI at 2% of £66). If, instead, your company pays them, the cost to you directly will be nil. Plus, because their pay is tax deductible the cost to your company is just £1,536. That’s less than half the cost of pocket money! And in the process your children have gained some valuable experience they can put on their CV and you’ve managed to put them to good use within your business.

Now that what I call a win, win, win!…….”

If you want to talk to Paul on more top tax tips to help your business or subscribe to his newsletter then please contact him via LinkedIn, email him at paul@pjwaccounting.co.uk or call him on 01889 586431.

Watch out for more top tips on all sorts of subjects from local experts.

If you know of any great Staffordshire or West Midlands experts we can share with the world – let me know via LinkedIn

If you are an accountant or in a another profession and If you want to discuss your referral marketing, social media, business networking needs & how to get the most out of them, then please do get in touch with us via LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with us LinkedIn, subscribe to our newsletter or our Superstars of Networking tips series via this website.