Posts tagged ‘Business Owners’

Often when I mention the words “business plan” to people, whether they are just starting up in business or already established and looking to grow or change their business, they give me the “do I have to?” look!


Business plans haven’t been dreamt up by accountants to allow them to charge a fee to their clients for “added value” services or simply to bore you to tears.  Every book you read about business success and every leader you hear speak will highlight the necessity of planning.  So “yes” you really have to, unless you like to live life by the seat of your pants.

Failing to plan and planning to fail

If you are starting up your business and you don’t have a plan, how do you know

  • what that business will do
  • what it’s target market will be
  • how it will work  (processes, structure, personnel etc)
  • how it will be financed? (funding, cash flow, collateral/security/personal guarantees etc)
  • whether it will make money and
  • whether you will get out of it what you want?

Are banks still lending?

There has been much reported in the news over the last year or so about how difficult it is to get bank lending nowadays for small and medium sized businesses.  Ask any business bank manager this question and they will quip “we’re always open for business” but there is no doubt that they are being very cautious. If anything is going to help you get the banks on your side,  it will be a comprehensive, well thought through business plan with back up for your assumptions and a realistic timescale for paying back the loan.

If you want to approach an investor, your business won’t even be considered for investment if you don’t have a business plan that you can back up with facts and figures that make you and your business a credible investment.


Getting value from the planning process

Planning is not just something business owners should do when setting up their enterprises or when getting finance.  There are plenty of benefits of planning on a regular basis.

  1. Take the time to think through a plan and then write it down, you are more likely to actually do it than if you keep it in your head.  Even better, communicate that plan to a trusted adviser such as your accountant or a business coach who will be able to help you evaluate it and provide an objective viewpoint.
  2. Take off your rose tinted glasses, a great looking plan may make you feel good now, but it will demotivate or be dismissed as irrelevant later.  Be realistic and honest with yourself and don’t forget to factor in non-monetary elements such as the amount of time you intend to invest. 
  3. Use the planning process to brainstorm.  Perhaps carry out a SWOT analysis to help you to ‘stretch’ your thinking.
  4. Use the plan as a way of involving key people in your business.  This will help them to be more committed to the results and encourage leadership/loyalty.
  5. Most of the ‘added value’ of business planning comes from regular reflection.  Don’t take the time to write a plan and then archive it!

In summary

A good business plan will help you to understand where your business is going, give it structure and direction, provide a communication channel for key stakeholders and build credibility when obtaining any funding or investment that you need from external sources.

If you haven’t got an up to date, clear and realistic business plan, take action now. 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

During his first budget speech in the Summer the current chancellor announced that the standard rate of VAT would be increased from 17.5% to 20% on 4th January 2011, the third rate change in two years. 

If you are using the flat rate scheme, this change will affect you too.  Be sure to check your new rate on the HMRC website.

Administrative Burden

For business that supply goods and services to other VAT registered businesses, the burden will be one of administration.

  • The default rates in bookkeeping systems such as SAGE need to be altered – ask for help
  • Business owners and bookeepers need to be clear about the tax point being used – the time of supply is important.
  • If you are using the Cash Accounting Scheme it is imperative that you can identify payments received on or after 4th January 2011 that relate to supplies made prior to that date, to be able to account for them at 17.5%
  • Make sure your book keeping is as up to date as possible, confusion surrounding work/supplies that span the VAT change are likely to be exacerbated if you are behind with your paperwork.
  • If you display prices inclusive of VAT you will need to be prepared to change literature/brochures/websites etc.

Financial Burden

But for business such as tradesmen and retailers that supply goods and services to non-VAT registered consumers, there are additional considerations as the change may have a significant financial impact.


  • How price sensitive are your customers?  Will they find a cheaper alternative or simply stop purchasing your offerings if you add another 2.5% to your prices?
  • If you don’t increase your prices, can your business afford the reduced margins?  If you don’t increase them now, when?
  • Speak to your customers, they may be willing to pay a deposit in advance of receiving your goods and services to take advantage of the current VAT rate. (For full details on whether this ruling can apply to your business click here )
  • Ensure you have procedure in place that will allow you to measure the amount of work carried out up to the date of the VAT rate change, such as detailed timesheets, as you are entitled to split your invoice.  i.e. work performed in 2010 charged at 17.5% plus work carried out in 2011 at 20%.

Effect on Economy

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has predicted that the VAT rate increase will result in the loss of an estimated 200,000 UK jobs.

The effect on an already under pressure retail sector is going to be huge, I don’t think anyone dare to hazard a guess at how huge.


We have been fortunate enough to benefit from one of the lowest rates of VAT in Europe for many, many years, but will this increase really have a significant effect on our huge deficits?  I am not convinced.


For guidance on how to implement the change and minimise the impact on your business, please get in touch.

Another easy to read article about the VAT increase and price sensitivity : What’s a small business to do?  

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

I am regularly contacted by people who are new to business, or at least considering starting their own business.

Excited

Naturally, they are all really excited about the prospect of working for themselves, being their own boss, making the decisions and being able to directly enjoy the results of their efforts.

Apprehensive

However, I find that when I start to talk them through the statutory accounting and taxation requirements, it becomes obvious that they are worried and some even start to question if they are doing the right thing.  Despite assuring them that my team will handle 

  • Companies House administration anc correspondence,
  • Preparation and submission of statutory accounts,
  • Corporation Tax computations and returns,
  • PAYE administration and National Insurance,
  • VAT reporting,
  • Returns of benefits and expenses and other HMRC returns,
  • Construction industry scheme online monthly filing
  • Potential HMRC visits

and provide ongoing bookkeeping support, it is understandable that the overwhelming sense of responsibility causes concern for those who have been in the relative ‘safety’ of employment or education.

Discouraged?

I think it is a shame that budding entrepreneurs can be stopped in their tracks by all the bureaucracy that surrounds a business, and I would urge any aspiring business owners not to be discouraged, it sounds a lot worse than it really is.

Get support

If you are thinking about starting up your own business, you should really go and talk to an accountant who can explain what is required, help you understand your duties and responsibilities and then take away as much of the fear and worry from you so that you can get on with the exciting bit!

It is also a good idea to join a networking group.  They not only provide you with valuable contacts, they are full of potential friends and peers who can guide and support you with first hand experience.

Find someone you can trust

For some people starting up their own business isn’t a big deal, but remember that the best entrepreneurs are surrounded by the best people for each and every part of their business, so do your new business a favour and find someone who can be the best for you.

Outsource

Delegate the ‘red tape’ of administering your business, and non-essential or non-profit making tasks to a team of carefully selected professionals so that you can make the most of your time and  simply…

…..enjoy running your own business!


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

Along with the England flags and hopes of World Cup success the emergency budget is becoming a distant memory, but if you are in business you shouldn’t be so hasty.

Here at George Hay, we regularly advise on the advantages of incorporation and strongly believe that for the majority of small businesses it is the most tax efficient structure, as remuneration (profit distribution) for the owners/directors can be carefully planned to benefit their personal tax circumstances.  These savings can be particularly advantageous if you are operating as a family business.

Corporation Tax reduction

One of the main headlines of the budget was the reduction in the Corporation Tax rate by 1% making the Small Companies rate 20% from April 2011. This was good news for business owners but of course it only applies to those which are incorporated. Those who operate their business as either a sole trader or partnership are subject to Income Tax and National Insurance on their business profits so will instead be hit by the rise in National Insurance rates from April 2011.

The changes in the Corporation Tax rate and National Insurance rate along with forecast reductions in the basic rate threshold for individuals poses the usual question of should those in business consider incorporating and is it beneficial for everyone to do so?

Indicators do strongly suggest that it is widely beneficial for most owner managed businesses to incorporate and when doing the sums at the new rates from April 2011 the tax savings as a result of incorporation increase even more.

Risky Strategy?

There have been many attempts to try to curb the incorporation trend in the past due to the significant tax savings that can be achieved.  Gordon Brown aired his view that business owners are not paying the ‘right amount of tax’,  and we are sure HMRC will continue their expensive and difficult case in the courts.   But I personally have been advising on incorporation for over 10 years and it continues to be a successful strategy, so why not take advantage whilst the regulations allow it?  It is not something that can not be withdrawn from if circumstances change.

Real life example

In 2007 I was recommended to a small business that was earning very handsome profits due the unique nature of its trading activity.  On engagement I quickly did some sums (good old Excel!) and explained the value of Incorporating.  The owner immediately understood and asked me to incoporate the business without delay.  By involving his wife in the business strategy, she was able to take a ‘very nice’ Company Car and between them they saved and continue to save over £15,000 per annum in Tax and National Insurance.  If only they had sought advice years before…..

It’s not all about tax

Careful consideration should be given to incorporation and expert advice sought. It is not always the right choice for everyone and other factors come into play such as legal liability, increased regulation and therefore costs, disclosure of financial information and future business plans such as sale of the business but it is always worth thinking about.


For further details on the key announcements in the ‘Emergency Budget’ download a copy of our budget summary.

Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

To build successful businesses there are Three Elements all entrepreneurs eventually learn that are essential for increasing revenues and profits.  

Many business owners learn by a ‘trial and error’ approach over a number of years, however the game of business has been very well researched over the years through feedback and study of entrepreneurs who are the best in their field.  Without focus on each of these three areas any business success will require far more effort over a longer period of time.  If you’d like to fast track your own success then read on…

  • 1) The First Element:

The Psychological Approach. Or, more precisely, how your current psychological approach may be holding you back.

You may already have heard of the saying that “your business is a complete reflection of you!”.  If that’s the case then what is showing up for you within your business at the moment?  Do you need more sales?  Do you never have enough time?  Do you have communication issues with your team members?  Do you need to recruit your first team members?  Whatever is ‘showing up’ for you within your business, the most important thing is how you are reacting to ‘what’s showing up’.  Do you tend to blame others or deny there’s a problem?  Or make excuses to justify the lack of performance?

This is sometimes one of the hardest things for a business owner to accept i.e. all of the problems that you are experiencing within your business are as a direct result of you ‘not’ addressing something within that business!  To illustrate this point I have been working with a particular client for a number of years now, and as the business has grown there have been a number of recurring problems that have always been down to  a couple of team members not being quite up for the job. This reflected in the business owner being unable to delegate effectively – and ‘what showed up’ was ‘running round like a headless chicken syndrome’ all of the time.  The business owner didn’t confront the issue (for various personal reasons that we worked through together) and so the problems just wouldn’t go away.  Eventually, however (when the business owner felt ready to make that decision and we’d implemented a couple of new systems within the business) the two team members were replaced and there has been a radical shift in the business performance.  This has also helped the confidence of the owner in two ways: they realised that their that fear (of the unknown) was actually stopping the business from moving forward (plus keeping the owner very busy!) and by addressing this fear they also learned a number of things about themselves that massively increased their own business confidence and productivity.  So this element involves you, your beliefs and you creating strategies and tactics to break through the hidden (yet very real) mental barriers that may be holding you back from achieving further success. 

  • 2) The Second Element:

Your business structure. How your current business structure may be holding you back. There are many areas of your business where you will need watertight systems and methods. This element is more focused on uncovering the current strengths and weaknesses of the strategic side of your business. It will ensure that you have the right strategies and tactics to help you break through the business-related barriers that may be preventing your success. Within the second element there are three focus areas when business growth is your goal. The first of these is:

Sales:

 The key in any business is to make sure that you take the time to understand exactly who your clients are and how they decide to buy.  Everybody has a certain way they love to “buy” from others, so finding out the various personality types and their tendencies will go a long way in making it easier for people to buy from you.  Create a set of systems within your business for sales success.

Marketing: 

Customers won’t buy from you unless they know who you are and why they need you.  It has always amazed me when I go into a business and the business owner is desperate to increase sales and therefore cash flow into the business – and yet they are doing very little effective marketing of their business – because they don’t really understand what ‘marketing’ is or they’re doing the day to day ‘stuff’ that’s not connected with driving the business forward whatsoever!   However we define marketing, in it’s simplest terms it is: The generation of quality leads for the business and the further development of your brand.  Your focus is to choose multiple marketing tactics and develop a marketing system that consistently markets your product or service to your clients.

Management:

 As a business owner you should be looking to spend 80% of your time working strategically ‘on’ your business in the areas of Sales and Marketing.  Any Knowledge, talent and beliefs that you have learnt will be wasted if you are not applying these strategically and tactically to your business.  If you want to grow and sustain that growth, then it’s essential to manage that growth. It’s essential to put in place systems to manage growth, cash, people and working relationships.  How do we know if don’t have this in place?  Because we will forever be reacting to our business and any daily problems that arise.

  • 3) The Third Element:

Although the shortest it’s without doubt the most important: it addresses our need for consistent action. Once you have the right resources and information in place then it’s essential to take action. If you asked me if there was one thing that would separate the masses from successful serial entrepreneursthen it would be this: Fast implementation of ideas. Having an understanding of the first two elements (what may be holding you back psychologically and structurally within your business) is an essential step to achieve change, but without implementing what’s been learnt will inhibit change. This is where so many businesses fall short. Through the lack of implementation of those ideas.

Guest author:  Mike Yates is a local, well respected and proven Business Growth Specialist, International Speaker, Author and Business Coach who I have known personally for many years.  For more valuable information like this please visit 121 Business

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.


The new ‘VAT online service’ (VOS) was launched by H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in November in prepartion for the compulsory online filing of VAT returns and electronic payment of liabiliies for VAT periods commencing 1st April 2010.

These new regulations will be enforced and effect all

  • existing VAT registered businesses with a turnover (excluding VAT) of £100,000 or more (taken from the previous four returns submitted)
  • businesses that register for VAT on or after 1st April 2010, regardless of turnover.

 

Once your business has been required to file online once, it must continue to do so.  The only exemptions are businesses involved in an insolvency procedure or those who have satisfied HMRC that the religious beliefs are incompatible with the requirement to use electronic communications!

If your business is VAT registered, you can expect to receive a letter from HMRC during February 2010 notifying you of your obligations.

There are proposals for this to be just the first step of the process and that all VAT registered businesses should manage their VAT returns and payments electronically from 1st April 2011.

The new VOS will enable users to

  • Register for VAT
  • Enrol for electronic filing
  • View previously submitted electronic returns
  • Set up email alerts to remind business owners of when returns should be submitted

Of course, if you do not want to be burdened with this, your accountant will be able to act as your agent in the same way as they can file payroll and self-assessment returns.  They will ask you to an authority to act (HMRC form 64-8 is not adequate for VOS) and may re-issue their letter of engagement to clarify the terms of this service.

More information can be sought from your accountant or HMRC’s online services website


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post