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August 2018

Two of the biggest barriers to growth for many businesses are:
1. Time
2. Cash flow

Time

We’re all struggling to make the most of what time we have; although we all have the same amount of time; it is just how we choose to spend it.

With the modern technology now around us; something that we as a firm are embracing, we can help you achieve more in less time.

We’ve looked back over previous years and learnt what clients want and need and how best this could be delivered more efficiently, hence the Back to the Future theme this month.

Well how would you like the following:
1. Less paperwork taking up all of the space in your office
2. Less time being needed to organise paperwork so you can spend more time earning money
3. More timely, up to date information to enable you to make better decisions sooner
4. Less hassle and concern when it comes to potentially losing smaller receipts and subsequently the tax and VAT thereon

We will be introducing some software next month which will be made available to all clients; FREE OF CHARGE, where you can benefit from all of this. This will be one of the first steps on that A to Z journey we touched upon last month.

Cash Flow

Would you like a FREE creditors services check via one of our trusted third party partners? Perhaps you’re just about to take on a brand new customer or are about to order something from a brand new supplier and want a little more info.

Perhaps, you’re already past this stage and have engaged with a company but now have growing concerns about them?

Well why not contact Jordan Heys at jordan.heys@cowgills.co.uk to take advantage of this service.

Let us help you spend your time wisely; ensuring that you receive just rewards for this.

 

More for less?  Too good to be true?

For those that haven’t seen the Back to the Future films in the second instalment Marty came across this book that basically told you future sporting results; ignore the reference to the year 2000 as this was an old film.

We cannot predict the future, but what we can do is help make our clients have a properous future and this is the reason why we are offering these free additional services.

By saving you time and offering you a service to save you time that; yes we do pay for, will mean you benefit in each of the ways mentioned above. We too will benefit as we can shift our focus from data entry to strategic support which will mean that we too can assist in adding to your bottom line more quickly with better results.

In terms of the free creditors service again this should mean that you maintain a positive cash flow position and the guys who we are working alongside can then assist before it too late hopefully; not just with yourself but with any of these third parties also.

In short, by all working together we can all prosper and move forward.

 

AN EVENT TO HELP YOU WITH THAT A-Z LIST

Yes this was on last month’s newsletter but the event is now fast approaching so we thought it worthwhile repeating it this month.

What is Customer Experience and how do you apply it to the local small and medium-sized business?

Join the original CXY pair, Kate and Kennedy for a half-day interactive workshop to see how you can grow your business through real-world Customer Experience.

By the end of this truly innovative session you’ll ‘get’ what CX is, you’ll see how your customer experience is the only reason why your customers choose you over your competition and you’ll have a roadmap of where to get to work on delivering world class customer experience on a local level.

– Build your brand reputation
– Get your customers to do your marketing for you
– Win more customers
– Keep more customers
– Have more fun doing what you do

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

You probably want to know their credentials…
Kate Cooper-Fay has more than a decade’s experience delivering strategy to FTSE 100s which are focused around growing companies and their markets through customer experience.
Kennedy uses his unique understanding of human behaviour and more than a decade of experience giving talks and presentations for global corporations in his uniquely engaging style.
It’s this recipe of Kate’s corporate experience and Kennedy’s practical “no bullshit” approach that make CXY workshops so impactful.

Regular price: £297 – special for this first run just £97 (plus transaction fees)

MONTHLY OFFER – Want to reduce your stationery costs down?

There are two ways to view costs:

1. How can these be reduced?
2. How can you get more from existing costs?

We have a client that is willing to do a free stationery audit for you so why not do both in September?

Call Moira at Laser-ex on 0191 267 4981 to take advantage of this offer or e-mail her at Moira.Sawyer@laser-ex.co.uk.

July 2018

Don’t we all like an easy life in terms of being able to get as much as possible, in one place, in as little time as possible. I’m not saying we all love Amazon though just before I get any backlash here.

Now although we’re not looking to compete with Amazon, I see no reason why us as; as a firm, cannot learn from their successes in order to BE FIRST, BE DIFFERENT and BE BETTER. We’ve already been first with the monthly newsletters by sending this out early before everybody goes on holidays.

We’ve been gradually building up to this over previous months; and there is still plenty more to come, but we are now branding ourselves as being #notyourordinaryaccountant.

So, you might ask what does this mean for you? Well, wouldn’t you like the expertise of one of the biggest accountancy firms in the world without the associated cost but still with the personal touch? One that has a wealth management department but can also advise and provide assistance around other areas such as pension, branding, marketing, IT etc?

Now we can do all of this and are making it known and would ask that you do the same. We can even help get you back bedroom get decorated if necessary.

Your next question might be that’s a lot to do in your existing offices and why do it? Well, we are in the same offices but have now developed and carefully selected a group of partners to work alongside us who; unlike employees within departments of other firms that can potentially take home their pay every month regardless of performance, our partners must earn their keep and take their work as personally as we do as a firm.

How the heck does this then come back to Amazon? Well, being in business, developing it and growing it is a bit like trying to know the A-Z of everything and then trying to incorporate this on a very long journey.

Let us help you do this in ways you could never imagine but in a coordinated and joined up approach to assist you more than ever achieve those lifetime goals that will help you retire when you want with the amount of money you want.

Talking of saving time and journeys …

 

Going far?  Well have this recorded nice and easily with Tripcatcher

Whilst some of you will be jetting off on your Summer holidays very soon we’re sadly focusing on how far you might be travelling during the working day and the time and hassle involved in recording mileage.

Well, there are now several apps out there at the minute and the one we’re suggesting you take a look at this month is Tripcatcher where from £1.49 per month you can:

1. Log all of your mileage at the click of a button
2. Have this recorded in format that is deemed to be HMRC compliant
3. Link this into some of the main accounting software on the market at the minute.

 

HASSLE, HASSLE, HASSLE

Everybody hates being hassled and one of the main reasons why people often don’t move accountants is because of the ‘hassle’ of doing so.

Well, for those people that you know that would love to switch to us but the hassle of doing so is the barrier then tell them we guarantee to take the hassle away and can have everything transferred across to us so that we can handle things within 1 working day with minimal effort from them.

If we can’t, we’ll give them a month’s-worth of support free of charge.

 

MONTHLY OFFER – Want a free trial of some accountancy software?

We’ve managed to get some free trial packages for accountancy software up until the end of August and we will even set this up free of charge for you.

This free trial will only last 30 days after taking advantage of the offer but why not give it a try if you’re still using manual books and records.

We can potentially automate most of this for you along with bookkeeping moving forward.

Quote ‘notyourordinaryaccountant’ if you want to take advantage of this and this will just be one further way to make your life a little easier.

June 2018

Whether we like it or not the world around us is changing so we all either embrace it or risk being left behind. However, that does not mean that we have to compromise excessively in order to move with the times.

With change though we always need to look to try and see what opportunities these changes might bring and how the associated difficulties that come also may be overcome.

Yes your booking information might only be accessible online with regards to holidays you are taking or even insurance policies. Whilst this is a big change in many cases it does allow you to access this information anywhere in the world and is actually in most instances more secure than any historical method previously adopted.

Yes the documentation of your financial records might also now be moving to the digital age but this will enable you to take pictures on your phone and upload them into a piece of software at the touch of a few buttons. Access your company performance again in an instant and anywhere in the world. Just think of the time this will save and also the space. Your loft and spare rooms might become accessible again.

With change does come challenge but it also comes with opportunity. With us a firm we are embracing this but will not move away from the face to face contact that our reputation is built upon.

All businesses will similarly have to adapt otherwise competition will leave you behind.

Let us help you move forward to ensure that we are all here for years to come.

 

BREAKING NEWS – Making tax digital

Yes you guessed it, the deadline has moved again. Unfortunately this is only for non VAT-registered businesses and this is being put down to the extra resources that HMRC are dedicating to Brexit.

However, we may also have come across a loophole for delaying this for businesses that have voluntarily VAT-registered who trade below the VAT registration threshold.

 

FREE TRAINING COURSES THROUGH NBSL

NBSL are currently offering fully funded training across a massive range of subjects to help you grow your business; improve your customer service; develop new processes; reinforce health and safety procedures – in fact, to improve staff skills in any aspect of your business.

All they need to get your business registered is some basic information about the business and the training you’d like to do – it should take less than ten minutes.

 

MONTHLY OFFER – Laser printer users

If you currently use a laser printer and are after any replacement ink cartridges then contact the guys below for a little surprise they have for you:

M2BS Ltd T/a Laser-Ex
Telephone 0191 267 4981
Fax 0191 229 0795
Web www.laser-ex.co.uk

May 2018

Now to start with we should clarify that the software we use; not accounting software but in-house data management software, is called AccountancyManager and yes there is no space between this so it isn’t a typo.

Right now for the important stuff in terms of why we have introduced this and how it will benefit you:

1. With GDPR now being here, how we hold and transfer data is under scrutiny more than ever and must be done securely and in accordance with ICO guidance. The introduction of this software makes us compliant and provides you with greater confidence that the probability of somebody accessing your information other than yourself is minimised no matter how good the hacker.

2. You know all of those times when you wondered what your filing deadlines were? Well now you have your personalised portal where you can access these at the click of a button.

3. You know all of those times you needed to put your hands on your tax return or accounts? Well now you can again access these at a click of a button.

4. We will be more proactive than ever through this software in requesting and reminding you of the need to bring your accounts because all of the deadlines have been uploaded into the system.

5. This software will allow us to introduce personalised automation with regards to requesting books and records from you and providing you with payment instructions and updated letters of engagement for example. This will mean that we can then spend more time more productively on the things that really matter to you.

The above is just really the tip of the iceberg with the following changes still to come, over and beyond this software, later this year; some as early as next month hopefully:

1. Further staff being recruited to be able to provide you with more support than ever and maintain what we set out to offer from the outset.

2. A significantly expanded service offering including:

a) A specialised accounting software package offering that will be making tax digital compliant and will help you better manage your finances internally.

b) A one-stop shop offering that will allow you to access so much more than just accounting services from us so that we can arrange marketing support, branding supporting, independent financial advisors and so much more.

c) Training courses that will cover not only accountancy packages but also start-up packages, grow your business packages and a lot more that you or anybody you know can access.

d) Training manuals that will replicate what we offer through the courses but be something that you can take away and go through at your own pace.

e) Some other exciting; accountancy-related, services that you’ll have to wait to hear more about as these are still being worked on but have had positive feedback about so far.

3. Further tie-ins with third parties to get discounts that we can pass across to you as clients as part of the benefit of being a client of ours.

4. More free events being planned outside our area of expertise; alongside third-parties, that you can attend.

We’re also not finished there with some further exciting technological changes being introduced and soon offered to clients to make your life easier so watch this space.

 

SPECIAL OFFER – Sage Business Cloud Accounting

We thoughts we’d carry this one forward from our mid month newsletter.

Interested in an accountancy package, accessible through the cloud, that is easy to use, has e-mail, telephone and web chat support and is only a monthly rolling contract that could be cancelled at any time?

Well why not try Sage Business Cloud Accounting? It is £22 plus VAT directly through Sage or £15 plus VAT through us.

I know who I would get it through.

 

AFTER SOME FREE HR ASSISTANCE?

Last few spots remaining on our free HR event on Tuesday 19 June 2018 at Newcastle Racecourse from 9.30 to 12.30 so book your place today if you’re interested.

 

 

Mid Month May 2018

As the warmer weather and lighter nights seem to finally be here we’ve been very busy behind the scenes here trying to improve the customer experience of our clients whilst also tackling the fun issue of GDPR.

To start with, you’ll be wondering why this month’s newsletter has arrived early and that; in short, is mainly due to GDPR.

We have had to implement a series of changes in order to become compliant by 25 May 2018 and also have some exciting other changes that are not due to this so thought we’d give you a quick heads up.

So, here is a list of the key changes we are bringing in this month:

1. We have added to our accounting team so would like to introduce Lisa Lockhart who started with us on Tuesday of this week who some of you will soon be hearing from. With our emphasis on client service and us continuing to grow we want to maintain this level of service and are even in the process of recruiting at least one further accounting member of staff by July 2018.

2. All clients will shortly be receiving an invite via e-mail to access their ‘client portal’ which will allow us to communicate with one another through the cloud. This portal will be personalised to you and have within it your own filing deadlines that you can refer to and somewhere where you can safely access and upload documents wherever you are in the world (subject to internet connection of course). It will also have several other features which we’ll explain in more detail in our end of month newsletter. Current guidance we are receiving suggests that this will be the safest means by which we can exchange confidential information with you from 25 May 2018 without exception. We will be walking you through using this step by step in a separate e-mail prior to it’s introduction though as we’ll also be having to update all of letters of engagement and money laundering documentation. This will also be done through this software. Unfortunately the ICO has been very late in the guidance around GDPR issued hence everybody is tackling this issue so close to the deadline and your mailbox will be filling with several e-mails around GDPR; thankfully not so many from us.

3. We have become Gold Partners of the Sage Business Cloud Accounting Package so we can offer discounts on this that mean you could pay almost a third less than going directly through Sage.

4. We have changed our company bank account across to Natwest. You might be thinking how does this benefit me as a client? Well we will be working a lot more closely alongside them to bring you details of free upcoming events that they will be running which you can attend whether you are a client or not, can give you access to grant funding portal through them and so much more.

Now this is actually only the very start so there are a lot more exciting changes still to come this year so watch out for your usual end of month newsletter where we’ll tell you a little more about your personalised portal and also what other exciting changes lie ahead.

 

SPECIAL OFFER – Sage Business Cloud Accounting

For our second month of special offers we again thought we couldn’t let you miss this opportunity so will even be repeating this on our end of month newsletter:

Interested in an accountancy package, accessible through the cloud, that is easy to use, with e-mail, telephone and web chat support that is only on a monthly rolling contract that could be cancelled at any time?

Well why not try Sage Business Cloud Accounting? It is £22 plus VAT directly through Sage or £15 plus VAT through us. I know where I would be getting this from.

 

REGISTER FOR OUR FREE HR EVENT

We’re just currently finalising the arrangements for this but we only have very limited places so if you would like to pop along to hear about some of the most common HR pitfalls and get some advice around contracts of employment contact us today.

The event is currently pencilled in for Tuesday 19 June 2018 from 9.30 to 12.30 so why not get yourself and even benefit from a bit of networking with fellow business owners.

April 2018

Following the end of another tax year we now have the opportunity to look back and to look forward in terms of what we have achieved in the past and what we hope to achieve in the future.

With the new tax year now being upon us it also means some significant changes coming into play that include:

1. GDPR coming ever closer
2. Employment costs rising
3. Further changes with regards to the tax allowances

We’re going to leave GDPR to the experts but will be looking to share some valuable information and links on this in due course and on the tax allowances front, apart from the annual movements in personal allowances then a further reduction in the dividend allowance from £5,000 to £2,000, there isn’t a great deal more to shout about.

Instead we are going to focus this month on employment costs given the time of year and want to summarize this into three key areas that we suggest you explore more:

1. Wages will increase from 6 April due to the usual annual increases around minimum wages, apprentice rate of pay etc. For more information click here.

2. We’re now well into the auto-enrolment period for most and with a new tax year comes new rates of deductions and paperwork needing to be issued. For more detailed guidance click here.

3. Consolidating both of these points; and factoring in GDPR, how compliant would you consider your contracts of employment to be for your staff? With GDPR alone this is worthy of consideration. Avensure are our company HR support and should you wish to discuss this further with them then please contact us.

 

SPECIAL OFFER

For the first month we’ll kick this one off and start with the FIRST THREE businesses that want to set up a limited company during the month of May, we will complete the set up process with Companies House, the registration for all taxes together with provision of paperwork for the bank FREE of charge.

 

AFTER SOME FREE HR ASSISTANCE

We’ve barely scratched the service above with regards to HR but we will shortly be bringing in our own third party HR experts that look after us as a firm to run a free workshop.

Dates are yet to be confirmed but we are looking at around either May or June and we will be restricting numbers to probably 10 so if this is of interest then please get in touch now to reserve your place.

In addition to this event, our payroll clients benefit from free HR support with this same company that we work alongside so if you would like to benefit from this please get in touch.

 

A FINAL MENTION

Yes he has made it onto another newsletter.

We’re very proud to say that Andy completed the London Marathon last week in exceptionally difficult circumstances and has even declared that he has ‘unfinished business’ meaning that a return to the same event next year is potentially on the cards.

I think it is also fair to say we don’t think any other staff here will be looking to join him.

Key Points From Budget 2015

Following the 2015 budget announcements, the dust has now settled. Let’s highlight some of the surprises that crept under the radar.

We have also spent a bit of time with our tax colleagues understanding the implications of these and what actions might be taken that would be in your best interests.

We have highlighted the main areas below that might be relevant to you either now or in the future and have summarised what has been said and how to counter-act this. Of course this e-mail is only a summary though so if you wish to discuss anything in greater detail please get in touch.

1. Dividends

This was one of the major announcements and can be summarised as follows:

  • From April 2016, notional 10% tax credit on dividends will be abolished.
  • A £5,000 tax free dividend allowance will be introduced.
  • Dividends above this level will be taxed at 7.5% (basic rate), 32.5% (higher rate), and 38.1% (additional rate)
  • Dividends received by pensions and ISAs will be unaffected

In light of this there are really no ways round avoiding this and the benefits of having a limited company over and above a sole trader or partnership remain; though the financial benefit will reduce.

We do however recommend three things prior to these changes being implemented:

  1. Maximise the distribution of any dividends prior to April 2016 in order to avoid unnecessarily being caught up in the new rates;
  2. Consider whether shareholdings could be split any further, in accordance with the necessary guidelines of course, to increase the benefit of the £5,000 tax free dividend allowance allocated to each individual; and
  3. After the initial £5,000 is utilised look to extract any money owed to you by the company rather than continuing with further dividends as this will be more tax efficient.

2. Holiday pay

Though not part of the budget announcements this has been hanging around for a little while now and a lot of people are still unsure of implications of recent court cases regarding it.

What has happened?

The accepted payroll practice in the UK for workers who work normal working hours (NWH’s) is to calculate holiday pay by reference to basic pay and average overtime pay, but only if the overtime is both obligatory and guaranteed.

Excluded from the holiday pay calculation for those with NWH’s is remuneration that is made up of voluntary overtime, shift premiums (unsocial hours/night shifts), allowances (attendance/geographical), status payments (acting up/shift or team leader allowance), emergency call out payments and commission payments.

However, a number of recent Employment Tribunal decisions and an ECJ decision (in relation to commission payments), has thrown the issue of the correct manner in which to calculate holiday pay into a state of uncertainty.

The Employment Tribunal decisions are subject to appeal and are due to be heard but it is highly likely that the UK Government will intervene and refer the cases to the ECJ.

There is a widespread belief amongst employment lawyers that the courts will continue to adopt an expansionist approach and seek to include in the holiday pay calculation variable elements of remuneration which are linked intrinsically to the performance of the tasks that the worker is required to carry out under the contract.

What does this mean for me?

For employers, the issue of rectifying the miscalculation going forwards is going to come as an additional and unforeseen financial cost. Moreover, there is the scope for employees to “claw back” as far back as 1998 any shortfall in holiday pay.

Depending on the number of workers you engage these payments could run into millions of pounds.

What should I do about this?

  1. You should look into your current payroll practice and determine whether you are legally compliant. The overwhelming majority of employers will not be legally compliant.
  2. If you are not legally compliant, then as a business you need to make provision and accruals for significant back pay and increased holiday pay going forwards which takes into account variable elements of remuneration when calculating holiday pay. Any back payments are also likely to attract the attention of HMRC in relation to tax and NI and late payment interest penalties.
  3. Consider the strategy you are going to take should workers/Trade Unions lodge individual or collective grievances.
  4. Consider the strategy you are going to take should you receive a Tribunal claim.
  5. Consider whether you can minimise your financial exposure.
  6. Consider whether your current payroll systems are capable of calculating holiday pay taking into account variable remuneration.

 

What should I not do?

  1. Make payment of any shortfall and introduce a new method of calculating holiday pay.
  2. Communicate the findings of any exposure internally without seeking to maintain legal advice privilege.
  3. Do nothing and wait and see what happens.

 

How can I minimise my financial exposure?

  1. It may be possible to engineer a break in the last in a series of holiday pay shortfalls so that the worker then has 3 months to make a claim for historical back pay from the point that the break takes place.
  2. You could withdraw or amend entitlement to the variable remuneration elements that should be taken into account when calculating holiday pay. However, note that in the majority of cases these are likely to be contractual and you will need agreement. There is also scope for the collective consultation obligations to be triggered if more than 20 dismissals arise in a 90 day period.

 

Will it not alert staff if I make a payment?

At this stage very few workers, Trade Unions, claimant lawyers and most importantly claims management companies are aware of the potential holiday pay miscalculation liability for employers.

However, once the Tribunal claims reach the appeal stage and the UK Government steps in to make a reference to the ECJ (which appears likely), the negotiating position of the workers will fundamentally change in their favour, and employers are likely to be faced with collective grievances and/or Tribunal claims.

Of course this is not our area of expertise so should further information be required regarding this then we suggest legal advice is taken.

3. Minimum wage

Don’t forget there has been an increase in the minimum wage from 1 October 2015.

If we already handle the payroll for you then there is nothing to worry about as we will process this at our end. If you yourself maintain your own payroll just make sure you update your system to reflect this.

Unfortunately there is no avoiding this but just factor this into any future recruitment drives.

4. The Living wage

This was another one that may well have crept under the radar for some with the term ‘living wage’ might not be something commonly come across. It may also not be immediately obvious that there is a difference between the ‘living wage’ and the ‘minimum wage’ but not for much longer.

From April 2016, the minimum wage will be replaced by the living wage and this could catch a lot of companies off guard and cost a lot of money. From April 2016 this will start at £7.20 before rising to £9.00 by 2020. This will not however apply to everybody as it is currently only in respect of those aged 25 and over 25.  Those under 25 will continue to fall under minimum wage guidelines.

How will this be funded?

Now time for some good news; though there wasn’t much within the 2015 budget:

  1. The employment allowance is to be increased from £2,000 to £3,000. However, it is currently proposed that this be withdrawn altogether for sole director/sole employee limited companies from April 2016. A further announcement kept well under the radar.
  2. It is proposed that the rate of corporation tax be reduced to 18% by 2020

Once again there is no avoiding this but just factor this into any future recruitment drives and also don’t forget to factor into auto-enrolment. We will obviously work together with yourselves planning ahead following the announcements to assist with planning ahead for the implementation of this.

 

5. Change reference amortisation of goodwill

Should you be thinking of expanding further and buying a business that itself has goodwill then just hang fire for a second. As of 8 July 2015, and accounting periods and purchases thereafter, there will be no corporation tax relief on the goodwill.

With regards to purchases prior to 8 July 2015 the old rules remain and corporation tax relief will remain.

Our advice, speak to us before making any such decisions to understand the true cash flow implications of any such expansion plans.

 

6. North East Powerhouse or just more politics

Not a great deal to say on this matter other than really watch this space. There are continued discussions around devolved responsibilities coming up north and The North East Chamber of Commerce has recently put a proposal together to the Chancellor along with nine other chambers but this one will very much be a case of wait and see.

We won’t take our eyes off this one though and would suggest you do the same as although this may not impact the tax side of things greatly it will impact our businesses and the operation thereof.

 

7. Buy to let property investors

Restricting finance cost relief for individual landlords was another significant potential change.

This measure will restrict relief for finance costs on residential properties to the basic rate of income tax. To give landlords time to adjust, the government will introduce this change gradually from April 2017 over four years.

Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income to arrive at their property profits. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs.

Also note that there are consultations currently ongoing as to future plans regarding the wear and tear allowance with regarding to properties let out though this will not impact holiday lets. The proposal is currently that the 10% of rental income; which is used to calculated an allowable ‘wear and tear’ tax deduction, is replaced with an allowance for the actual cost of repairing and replacing items in both furnished and unfurnished properties. Currently the wear and tear allowance is restricted to only furnished properties. More information is expected to be released towards the end of 2015 regarding this.

Following on from these announcements we suggest you consider whether the business structure you currently operate under is suitable following the above changes and whether a limited company might be more appropriate or in the case of commercial properties whether moving properties into a pension fund might be the best option moving forward.

 

8. Annual investment allowance

This allowance is what you are entitled to received when you buy any ‘assets’ within the business but does not include cars.

It was initially proposed that this be reduced to £25,000 as of 1 January 2016 but instead it has been decided that though this will still reduce significantly from £500,000, it will permanently be set at £200,000 moving forward.

In light of this we would suggest that should this reduction be an issue to yourself then any large purchases, should be discussed with us a matter of priority if you feel that this reduction will impact you.

Summary and some other interesting points to note

We have also prepared a summary budget document which is provided by our professional body, and covers some of the areas above again, with some of the uplifts in registration and tax thresholds etc. Download the budget summary here.

 

And finally…

Watch out for insurance going up as insurance premium tax has been increased so we will all be seeing increases here also.

Overall, not the most positive of budgets but by planning ahead and taking everything on board we can work together to mitigate the impact.

Please also note that the guidance above is correct at the time of this document being sent and is subject to change so please contact before any decisions are made regarding the above.

Cash is King, apart from when it comes to the tax man

Businesses fail from lack of cash not lack of profits.  Profits can be manipulated whereas cash cannot be!

The recognition of this fact alone is a milestone for any business.  When people often draw up a business plan they can quite easily see a start-up business generate a profit on a regular basis throughout the early years of training.  However, cash can reveal the reality of the situation.

Particularly when it comes to companies first starting up, with no or limited trade history, suppliers will be hesitant about providing any sort of credit so they are more than likely to have limited or no credit.  Customers on the other hand will be looking for the longest period of credit available and will often pay late.

This is not however just a problem for start-up businesses as growing businesses can face the same issues also.  As companies grow, really pushing on, dealing with significantly bigger clients, they might often demand significant periods of credit and over and above this might question and query several things on invoices raised.  Although suppliers will now have developed a relationship with you it is unlikely they will even extend the same period of credit to you that your larger customers might demand.

I hear you ask what can be done to manage such risks?

The first thing is understand your cash flow needs – what does your business need and when by?
Research your customers; even if it is just online, do confirm the likelihood of delays in payments.
Consider the impact of your decision on your cash flow.  How will this impact on existing customers and potentially future customers?  Don’t just think about the actual cost, think about the opportunity costs i.e. what are you giving up in order to get into bed with larger clients?
Ask for staged payments to ease the cash flow burden.
If the figures don’t stack up, WALK AWAY!

Cash is definitely king, keep an eye on it and don’t let it be the end of you and your business!

Why Staff Social Networking is Good

One of the biggest costs to many organisation is staff yet when it comes to analysis costs, the salary of employees often tend to be as far as the analysis goes – this person earns X and that person earns Y. Let’s flip that question round and ask what does this person contribute to the our business.  This might seem like a very similar question but it is actually very different.

To start to answer this you really need to understand the what each employee is doing within the business on a daily basis.  There is a quick solution that will help you answer this question – timesheets.  Have each and every one of your employees fill in a timesheet and even do it yourself as it will generate some interesting results; provided people are being honest that is.  Again you might think well how can I ensure that people are being honest?  There are a few things which again might or might not be available depending on the industry that you operate in:

  1. There is software available that automatically logs time being spent on specific tasks

  2. Have senior management oversee the filling in of these, counter-sign and review them

 

Next you can compare how much money each member of staff brings into the business, how each member of staff compares productivity-wise, how time spent on jobs compares to budgets and previous jobs and so much more.  This information then acts as such a powerful tool for so many things including:

  1. Using it to ensure that work that is billed is profitable

  2. Allows you to allocate your staff to those tasks where they seem to be most profitable and know which work in the future is most profitable

  3. Allows you to monitor performance, support and act

  4. Identify where time is wasted such as on administrative tasks whereby the employing of administrative support might well be a worthwhile investment rather than having senior members of staff spend their time on unprofitable tasks

 

Also, so much time can be abused with social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  We work alongside an HR expert on issues such as this so click on the link below for more guidance on this matter as it is so often overlooked: Click here to read more http://www.markdavidhr.co.uk/unsociable-social-media/
In short, some very small changes to how you work can mean that you get the most out of your existing staff and ensure that you are looking beyond each of their salaries.

NBSL Grant may be available longer

NBSL have recently announced that the current grant being offered to businesses of up to 40% of expenditure totalling not more than £3,400 may soon be made available beyond the initial deadline of early in 2013.  Watch this space …