Starting a new business is always a challenge but there are some common financial mistakes that all start ups should avoid.
- Lack of Planning – Businesses normally start with a great idea but you need to have business model that works and to at least have a basic business plan and cash flow.
- Over Trading – this happens when a business expands too quickly for its working capital, when you start a new business its tempting to accept every order without considering whether you can have the resources and the cash to deliver.
- Wasted Marketing and Advertising – new businesses are an easy target for marketing companies but its important to stick to the essentials to start with, having a website, e mail and business cards are essential, magazine advertising and other things can be done as the business grows, in the early stages you are experimenting and finding your market so if you spend too much too soon you might promote the wrong things at the wrong price.
- Wrong Business Structure – Before you start your business get some advice from your accountant, its important to choose the right structure not just for tax reasons but also for investment and ownership.
- Wrong Staff – Choosing the right team is critical for business success, choose staff that have the right skills, the right attitude and are dedicated to the success of the business.
- Over Ambitious – All too often businesses plans are over ambitious with sales growing rapidly, often they prove to be unrealistic, when preparing a sales forecast start with your order book and be cautious in your assumptions.
- Overheads – Many businesses over spend on overheads for example renting premises too early, work from home, if you can, to minimise costs.
- Stock Problems – Buying the wrong stock, under or over stocking are also issues for start ups, try to adopt a ‘just in time’ stock policy.
- Getting Paid – A sale is only a sale if you get paid, any one can give things away, make sure you manage your clients and get paid on time.
- Competition – Keep an eye on your competitors, they will be watching you and responding to maintain their market share.
When you sell your company your buyer may wish to pay part in cash and part in loan notes to be paid off from future profits. The Loan Notes are known as Qualifying Corporate Bonds (QCB’s), the dilemma is whether to claim Entrepreneurs Tax at 10% now or pay full Capital Gains Tax later.
To obtain Entrepreneurs’ Relief on a disposal of the shares (the “old asset”) at the time of the exchange, the individual may make an election for the gain not to be deferred by TCGA92/S116 (10). The effect of an election is that the gain is brought into charge at the time of the exchange so that Entrepreneurs’ Relief can be claimed in order to benefit from the 10% rate – TCGA92/S169R (2).
In the absence of an election the gain is deferred and will be charged to CGT when it accrues under TCGA92/S116 (10) (b). It would be unusual for the qualifying conditions for Entrepreneurs’ Relief to be met at the later date when the gain comes into charge.
An election under this section, like the claim for Entrepreneurs’ Relief, must be made on or before the first anniversary of the 31 January following the tax year in which the relevant transaction takes place – TCGA92/S169R (4).
So would you claim the Entrepreneurs Tax Relief and pay 10% now or possibly pay 28% later?
You could try selling your shares in stages but that might not suit either you or your buyer?
The rate of new housing required to meet demand in England is now estimated at between 240,000 and 245,000 units a year, an increase of 10,000 new homes annually on previously accepted figures.
Gazumping and other nasties that flourished in the last property boom are making a return, as competition for homes increases with the bringing forward of the second phase of Help to Buy.
So now could be the time to sell off your garden:
- Its a way of building homes without building on the Green Belt
- It can be a zero risk way to make money if you sell the plot
Garden Bagging works as follows:
- Home Owners with suitable land approach a local builder
- The builder buys the right to seek planning permission for a nominal fee
- If the application is successful the builder will pay up to 85% of the open market value of the consented plot less his costs
Alternatively you could develop the plot yourself for a typical self build its estimated that 35% would be the land cost, 40% build cost and 25% profit margin.
It’s nearly Christmas and that puts a strain on most peoples cash, so you might well be looking for ways to earn extra cash, here are my top 20 home based business ideas:
- Get a lodger – Under rent-a-room a taxpayer can be exempt from Income Tax on profits from furnished accommodation in their only or main home if the gross receipts they get (that is, before expenses) are £4,250 or less
- Ironing and Laundry Services – Always popular and you can start with friends and family
- E Bay Trading – as E Bay say… The first task is to sort through those bulging drawers and messy cupboards, finding stuff to flog. Get a big eBay box to stash your wares in, and systematically clear out wardrobes, DVD and CD piles, the loft and garage. Use the easy 12-month rule of thumb to help you decide what to offload: Haven’t used it for a year? Flog it.
- Blogging – Blogging has taken off and many businesses are looking for people to write blogs for them
- Candle Making – You can sell the candles on line and its easy to buy the wax and things you need to make the candles
- Car Boot Sale – As with E Bay but without going on line
- Cake Making – Make sure everything is labelled correctly and you comply with Health & Safety issues
- Data Entry – The internet makes it easy to enter data from where ever you are
- Social Media – Similar to blogging, businesses need help to manage Twitter, Facebook and Linked In
- Website Design – If you have the expertise, go for it
- Sales Parties – Cosmetics to Ann Summers, there is a long list of opportunities
- Sewing and Clothes Alterations – Perfect before and after Christmas
- Jewellery – Making and selling jewellery is always popular and great for Christmas presents
- Car Repairs – Assuming you have the skills needed and comply with legal requirements
- Pet Care – Walking dogs or grooming is popular
- Virtual Assistant – Also personal organiser or personal shopper
- Wedding Planner – You could start by creating a blog about your expertise
- Direct Sales – For example Utility Warehouse
- Computer Repair – Great provided you have the skills
- Marketing – Telesales to leaflet design and freelance writing
Making a profit and generating cash is vital to all businesses and a key way to improve profit is to reduce overheads, here are a few ideas:
- Re-think your office/premises requirements – Premises are big cost for most businesses, could you operate in a smaller space and sub-let part of your offices? could you work from home?
- Telecommute – Technology effectively reduces distance, so there is no need to require administrative people or specialists to be physically located together. Use VOIP, Skype and Video Conferencing.
- Cars – Company Cars can be expensive, time consuming to manage and emotive, why not consider car allowances
- Staff – Generally the biggest overhead is people, consider outsourcing rather than having the fixed overhead of in house staff
- Shop around – Are you getting the best deals on Stationery, Printing, Insurance, Light & Heat…..
- Students – Students, apprentices and interns are eager to learn and will be less expensive then experienced employees
- Refinance Debt – Could you reduce the cost of borrowing? could you borrow from your Self Invested Pension Plan?
- Paper – Sorting, filing, and finding files requires time and space. Purchase a scanner and scan all important papers and keep them in well organised electronic files to save space and administrative costs.
- Go Green – Reducing waste and saving energy will save money too
- Buy Second Hand – Second hand office furniture is plentiful and its cheaper than buying new
Late payment kills businesses, it’s a fact.
Latest research shows that British SMEs are having to wait an average of 41 days longer than their original agreed payment terms before invoices are paid. (source: BACS)
So what can you do to get paid faster?
- Get payment upfront – It might sound obvious but do you ask for payment with order? or deposits? or to be paid on delivery?
- Get Stage Payments – on projects agree stages and collect payment before you do the next stage
- Raise the Invoice quickly – as soon as you can bill the client send out the invoice
- Agree Terms of Business and Payment Terms before you start any work
- Make sure you know who to bill and who to chase for payment
- Make your invoice stand out, use bright colours and send a copy by Post and E Mail
- Offer multiple payment methods – Credit Card, BACS, Cheques, PayPal – make it easy for your client to pay you
- Offer a discount for prompt payment
- Charge interest for late payment
- Deal with any disputes quickly
Before you can sell you need to master the sales process, the following is a link to a 9 step process to help improve your sales process – WikiHow
Or you might prefer the 1941 Chevrolet approach
Once you are selling, how can you maximise your sales revenue…….
- Understand your clients needs and wants, sell products that they want, or make them want what you have to sell
- Keep your promises and earn your clients trust
- Look for opportunities to sell additional services and products
- Offer good value and service
- Get testimonials, recommendations and referrals
- Use your contacts and social media and tell them your success stories
- Credit Check your clients, a clients isn’t a client if they don’t pay and you aren’t running a charity
- Bad Debt Insurance could help reduce your risk but its not appropriate for all businesses
- Set up a customer rewards program and offer incentives
- Follow up leads within 24 hours
The date workers are enrolled depends on the size of the company they work for and is being rolled out over the next six years (this is called a staging date).
- Large employers (with 250 or more workers), have started automatically enrolling their workers and will continue to February 2014 (some employers may choose to start earlier)
- Medium employers (50 – 249 workers) will have to start automatically enrolling their workersfrom April 2014 to April 2015
- Small employers (49 workers or less) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from June 2015 to April 2017
- New employers (established after April 2012) will have to start automatically enrolling their workers from May 2017 to February 2018
- Employers who chose to use Defined Benefit or Hybrid Schemes can delay their staging date until 30 September 2017
You can postpone the start of Auto Enrolment for up to 3 months and then re-test for eligibility using this method could mean that Temporary Staff Agencies could avoid Auto Enrolment for their temps. This also means that many agencies will use NEST because other pension schemes will not want to sign them up as they many not actually receive any contributions.
Pinsent Masons blogged:
Agency workers are different from other workers and so present particular challenges. Many are seeking work for only a short period. Many will register with a number of different agencies and will, in fact, only be ’employed’ by a particular agency for a short period. The auto-enrolment obligation applies to all workers who meet the age and earnings thresholds, but there are options which may assist those employing high churn groups of workers.
Employers can make workers wait up to three calendar months before enrolling them into a pension scheme. If the worker has left by the end of that three-month period, then there is no need to provide that worker with a pension.
If you do postpone, make sure you follow the rules otherwise there could be harsh penalties under the Pension Act 2008 Section 45
Offences of failing to comply(1)An offence is committed by an employer who wilfully fails to comply with—
(a)the duty under section 3(2) (automatic enrolment),
(b)the duty under section 5(2) (automatic re-enrolment), or
(c)the duty under section 7(3) (jobholder’s right to opt in).
(2)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
(a)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or both;
(b)on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.
Cash is vital to you and your business, lack of cash kills businesses.
So how can you improve cash flow:
- Prepare a detailed cash flow forecast, schedule your direct debits and standing orders, knowing how much cash you need and when will help you focus on where the cash will come from
- Invoice your clients as soon as you can, often small businesses invoice late and this just lengthens the time it will take to collect payment
- Get stage payments on large contracts
- Negotiate payment terms with your suppliers, try to at least match the client payment terms with the supplier terms
- If you are able to spread payments do it, for example, most insurance companies will offer you that chance to spread the payments over 10 months
- Adopt ‘just in time’ for stock items, don’t carry more stock than you need to
- Pay sales commissions only after the client has paid
- Change weekly payrolls to monthly where possible
- Sell assets you don’t need
- Sell obsolete and slow moving stock
- Consider paying mileage allowances rather than owning company cars
- Chase your debts
- Get a good credit rating as it will help you negotiate better supplier terms
- File your accounts and tax returns on time to avoid penalties
- Credit check your clients and agree terms based on their credit history and rating
- Diversify to smooth out seasonal trends
- Control your costs and reduce them where possible
- Make cash collection a KPI for your business
- Finance your fixed asset purchases
- Use Invoice Finance if your clients demand long terms