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New Government Funding to help Women in Business

confident business

Last months ONS figures show more people are becoming self employed than ever before.

Budding female entrepreneurs are set to benefit from superfast broadband with a new £1m challenge fund, enabling them to work effectively, access new markets and grow their business online.

The fund will be part of the Government’s Superfast Broadband rollout and will help women take full advantage of all the opportunities superfast broadband can bring to business. There are 40 local broadband projects in England, already delivering the programme and they submitted bids to the £1m challenge fund in May 2014.

This forms part of help the Government is already providing to female entrepreneurs, which includes:

  • £1.6 million to support women’s enterprise in rural areas;
  • access to over 15,000 free business mentors; and
  • from next year, the introduction of Tax Free Childcare will mean that, for the first time, many self-employed parents will have access to support with childcare costs.

Are we doing enough to help women in business?

steve@bicknells.net

A closer look at home workers

Tax Benefits

http://stevejbicknell.com/2013/01/06/what-are-the-tax-issues-and-advantages-of-a-home-office/

Why use a Freelancer

http://stevejbicknell.com/2013/08/12/5-reasons-why-freelancers-are-taking-over-the-world/

20 Home Based Businesses

http://stevejbicknell.com/2013/10/16/20-businesses-you-can-run-from-home/

 

steve@bicknells.net

Get HMRC to pay you

HMRC will pay you interest

It is not that well-known that HMRC will pay you interest on tax paid early.  The interest rate is only 0.5% though, so it isn’t going to change your life.

In the case of Corporation Tax, any payment is due 9 months and a day after your year-end.  If you have a business bank account that pays no interest and the cash to pay your tax early you can pay your tax as soon as you have filed your return.   After the 9 months is up HMRC will send you the interest calculated.

British piggy bank

What spare cash?

See my earlier post on paying your debts first. In the situation where you have cash in the bank that you aren’t putting to good use and no outstanding debts paying your tax liability early will yield a small benefit.

Get your tax return done early

It is difficult to plan your cash flow if you don’t know how much tax you are due to pay.  Even if you don’t want to pay your tax early, it is helpful to know how much cash you will need to set aside.  The later you leave it to file your tax return the more pressure you can end up putting on your cash flow.  More importantly the later you leave it, the more pressure you put on your accountant.  Most accountants increase their fees as tax deadlines approach – or to put it another way you are likely to get a discount for starting early!

Don’t be late!

It won’t surprise anyone that HMRC will charge interest on late payments.  The interest rate isn’t the measly 0.5% mentioned above but is currently 3%.  As Bank of England rate increases  – expect this to increase too!

For support and advice on preparing your annual accounts and filing your tax returns contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.

 

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Top 5 reasons why Mums are starting businesses

Busy mother with her baby

Research by Direct Line shows that 65% of Mums with children under the age of 10 are considering starting their own business, why?

1. Allow me to spend more time with my children     20%
2. Cost of child care if I worked away from home      16%
3. Flexibility of being my own boss                            14%
4. Lifelong ambition to start my own business          12%
5. Don’t/didn’t like my current job                                1%

Reasons according to Financial Reporter

New figures suggested that full-time annual childcare costs for two children are now at £11,702, with almost half (49 per cent) of mothers surveyed believing they would be better off financially to start a business from home and save on childcare fees.

Here are 20 business you could start:

  1. 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
  2. Ironing and Laundry Services – Always popular and you can start with friends and family
  3. 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.
  4. Blogging – Blogging has taken off and many businesses are looking for people to write blogs for them
  5. Candle Making – You can sell the candles on line and its easy to buy the wax and things you need to make the candles
  6. Car Boot Sale – As with E Bay but without going on line
  7. Cake Making – Make sure everything is labelled correctly and you comply with Health & Safety issues
  8. Data Entry – The internet makes it easy to enter data from where ever you are
  9. Social Media – Similar to blogging, businesses need help to manage Twitter, Facebook and Linked In
  10. Website Design – If you have the expertise, go for it
  11. Sales Parties –  Cosmetics to Ann Summers, there is a long list of opportunities
  12. Sewing and Clothes Alterations – Perfect before and after Christmas
  13. Jewellery – Making and selling jewellery is always popular and great for Christmas presents
  14. Car Repairs – Assuming you have the skills needed and comply with legal requirements
  15. Pet Care – Walking dogs or grooming is popular
  16. Virtual Assistant – Also personal organiser or personal shopper
  17. Wedding Planner – You could start by creating a blog about your expertise
  18. Direct Sales – For example http://www.direct-sales-opportunities.com/uk.htm
  19. Computer Repair – Great provided you have the skills
  20. Marketing – Telesales to leaflet design and freelance writing

If you’re thinking of starting a busines please ask us for help https://business-accountant.com/contact-us/

steve@bicknells.net

Ovivo – Dead as a dodo

I guess the moral of this story might be – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is…

Ovivo logo

Is it a dodo?

The ovivo logo looks like bird resisting the weight of a great rhinoceros.  If you have recently signed up for a free subscription to the mobile phone company ovivo, you may be surprised to learn that the company has ceased trading.  Their home page now contains a form to get your PAC code but who knows if they will be able to deal with all the requests?

Glimmer of hope

You may be able to get a refund from your debit or credit card if you signed up in the last few days under the Chargeback scheme.  There is an article on the Money Saving Expert site including a template for a letter to send your bank.  Giffgaff is offering £5 of credit to anyone transferring their number from ovivo, but the deadline for transferring your number is the end of April – and there is no guarantee that ovivo will release the PAC code in time.

For business support and advice  contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.

 

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Should you start your own business?

Economy in recovery

It now looks like the UK economy is in recovery.  Even if this isn’t the case, when people think that times will get better they start to spend money again.  With interest rates at historic low rates there is little incentive to stockpile cash in the bank for consumers and for entrepreneurs debt is relatively cheap to finance a new venture.

No Change for Currency

No Change for Currency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s your plan?

If you are starting a new business, it is important to work out what you will be selling, but to survive the early days of a start-up you will need good projections of your cash flow.  As you grow you may need investment from banks or other third parties.  Without good quality management accounts is it more difficult to persuade a potential investor to part with their cash.

Ask for help!

You can’t do everything on your own.  Work out what your core activities are and how much time you need to do them.  If you have time left over for ancillary activities then you are better completing these yourself too.  The cost of hiring specialist help, whether it be an accountant, web designer or lawyer can seem to be too much for a nascent company to bear.  However if you are spending so much time working out your accounts that you don’t have time for your customers you will cost yourself more in the long-term.

Business booming in Scotland

According to this article from the BBC  more Scots are starting up their own business.  Records from Companies House show that more than 340,000 companies were formed in Scotland last year.  Glasgow and Edinburgh are at the forefront of the economic recovery in Scotland.  If you have a good business idea, now could be the time to let that idea take form, especially if you have a service that supports other new businesses.

Give yourself a break

To give your business the best start, make sure you understand your finances.  Don’t forget that if you registered a company you are obliged to file accounts with Companies House as well as HMRC.  For more information on company formation see my blog here.

For support and advice on the finances of your business contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.

 

Trying to be a superhero?

super girl

Is this story familiar to you? A business person who is successful in their field but starting to get bogged down in the day to day running of their business. In particular, administration and bookkeeping are starting to grind and take the shine out of their enjoyment of their businesses?

This is a common story but one that has a simple solution – DELEGATION.

We may have many ‘good’ reasons why delegation is hard and why we should do all the ‘easy’ jobs in our businesses:

– it can be expensive to pay someone else

– perhaps they will do the job wrongly or prove unreliable

– it will take time for them to settle in and the process will be distracting

However, you cannot escape the truth that however much you try to ‘create’ time by managing it better, there will only ever be 24 hours in a day! We cannot, like Superman, create extra time just by wishing for it.

So I would answer each of the objections above like this:

– You are much more valuable to your business than you may credit. Your time is likely to be worth much more to your business per hour than the £15-£20 per hour you might need to pay an administrator/bookkeeper.

Also there are jobs which only you can do in your business. These undelegatable jobs include creating business strategy, and leading and managing your business (even if you work alone your business needs to be managed!). If administration and bookkeeping are keeping you so occupied you do not have time for strategy, or management, then your business will suffer considerably.

– Are you really sure you are the best bookkeeper/administrator anyway! Surely you did not start your own business to play around with the books or to file!

– If you engage a trained bookkeeper they will settle in very quickly. Also, because they already know what to do as a bookkeeper you won’t have to spend time showing them what to do.

So do yourself a favour. If you have too little time to do the important things in your business – DELEGATE!

Fiona 🙂

Repay your debts sooner and save money

Order your debts

My advice is straightforward and you will have seen it before, but it is probably one of the easiest ways for individuals and companies to save money.  If you have any debts make sure you know which has the highest rate of interest.  If you are in a position to repay debt, you should pay off your most expensive loans first.  For individuals this is likely to be store cards or credit cards, followed by other unsecured lending to banks in the form of an overdraft.

Even with historically low base rate from the Bank of England, you can pay between 30% and 40% interest a year on store card and credit card purchases.

British piggy bank

Maintain minimum payments

For the remainder of your debt, make sure you keep up your minimum payments.  Failure to do this may mean additional charges are added to the debt and may affect your credit score.

Check for forgotten accounts

If you have a balance in your PayPal account or your energy supplier you are lending money free of charge.  You might be relaxed about this, but while you are paying interest on your own debts you are much better getting the balances transferred to your lenders.  Clear out any long term balance from PayPal etc and check your statements from your energy suppliers and any other suppliers to arrange for overpayments to be refunded.

Example

Let’s say you have a balance on your credit card of £200, which you are repaying at £5 a month.  The table below shows the total interest you will pay and the time taken to repay the entire balance.  At an annual interest rate of 32% (2.34% monthly interest) you will pay nearly £395 in interest on your original purchase of £200 and it will take nearly 10 years to pay the whole balance back.  If the annual interest rate rises to 35% you monthly interest would be more than the £5 monthly payment and you would never pay your original £200 off.

Annual Interest Total Interest £ No of months to repay loan
32% 394.82 119
29% 259.65 92
20% 111.85 63
14.9% 70.75 55

So – if you happen to have £200 in your PayPal account that you had forgotten about at the same time as a £200 credit card balance, you could transfer the cash, pay off your credit card balance and save yourself between £70 and £395!

Manage your cashflow

Work out how much cash you actually need for your day-to-day needs.  It is likely that you are receiving little or no interest on cash in the bank.  If you are confident that you have surplus cash, use it to pay down any debts you have – but start with the expensive debt don’t share it out equally between the different debts you have.

For support and advice on restructuring and paying off debt contact Alterledger or visit the website alterledger.com.

 

HMRC reveals ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for late tax returns

I found this on the Gov.uk website and thought is was well worth re-blogging

The following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers:

  1. My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder)
  2. I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer)
  3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman)
  4. My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader)
  5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser)
  6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer)
  7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver)
  8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man)
  9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm)
  10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant)

All of these people and businesses received a £100 penalty from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for filing late. They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said:

There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time. However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.

If you haven’t yet sent your 2012 to 2013 tax return to HMRC, you need to do it online and pay the tax you owe by the end of January. With all the help and advice available, there’s no excuse not to.

To send an online tax return, you must be registered for HMRC Online Services. This involves HMRC sending you an Activation Code in the post, so allow a few days for this to arrive. To register for HMRC Online Services go to the HMRC website and follow the on-screen instructions.

 

20 businesses you can run from home

British piggy bank

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:

  1. 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
  2. Ironing and Laundry Services – Always popular and you can start with friends and family
  3. 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.
  4. Blogging – Blogging has taken off and many businesses are looking for people to write blogs for them
  5. Candle Making – You can sell the candles on line and its easy to buy the wax and things you need to make the candles
  6. Car Boot Sale – As with E Bay but without going on line
  7. Cake Making – Make sure everything is labelled correctly and you comply with Health & Safety issues
  8. Data Entry – The internet makes it easy to enter data from where ever you are
  9. Social Media – Similar to blogging, businesses need help to manage Twitter, Facebook and Linked In
  10. Website Design – If you have the expertise, go for it
  11. Sales Parties –  Cosmetics to Ann Summers, there is a long list of opportunities
  12. Sewing and Clothes Alterations – Perfect before and after Christmas
  13. Jewellery – Making and selling jewellery is always popular and great for Christmas presents
  14. Car Repairs – Assuming you have the skills needed and comply with legal requirements
  15. Pet Care – Walking dogs or grooming is popular
  16. Virtual Assistant – Also personal organiser or personal shopper
  17. Wedding Planner – You could start by creating a blog about your expertise
  18. Direct Sales – For example Utility Warehouse
  19. Computer Repair – Great provided you have the skills
  20. Marketing – Telesales to leaflet design and freelance writing

steve@bicknells.net

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