Thursday, 18 May 2017

Funding – Key for Growth?


Hello, and welcome back to Write Away, the blog for small business owners, freelancers and anybody who is thinking of jumping into self-employment.
 
This time we look at funding for small business, an important area for any business, but it is also a big decision, borrowing money, to try and grow your business to take it to the next level.

There are many businesses who are either lucky enough to generate enough profit, or cash, to not have to worry about raising funds from external sources, but they would be in the minority, particularly amongst new businesses, for whom cash flow can be hand to mouth, and reliant on customers, big and small, paying on time.

For these businesses, they often only have enough cash to cover their outgoings or to invest in further stocks to continue trading, so expansion, for instance investing in new or bigger premises, or purchasing additional vehicles or machinery for the business, is often put on the back-burner, because of a lack of funds.

However, being in this situation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for other ways to grow your business, and external funding can be a good way of doing this.

Deciding to seek funding is a decision that should be approached with caution and treated like any other business decision, but there are a number of options to consider.
1.       Traditional bank loan – this will require a good business plan and any bank will go over this in   detail, and apply certain lending criteria when making a decision
2.       The Bank Referral Scheme – this is a government backed scheme for small businesses that have been refused funding by the major banks
3.       Alternative Sources of Finance – one example of this would be the recent growth in businesses raising money through crowdsourcing, where a business pitches it’s growth plans / idea to the general public, in the hope of many of them investing small amounts – this is often in return for a share in the business – but it can be a very quick and effective way for raising money.

There are many resources online that look at the subject of raising finance and considerations, I have included a link below to one of these below (SMEInsider), who have a handy checklist of things to consider before approaching anyone for funding.
 


Investing more money to grow your business can be an exciting, and daunting time, but exploring all of your options before taking the plunge is a must.

I hope you’ve found this post informative, I’d love to hear your comments on your experiences of obtaining funding, until next time……


Friday, 28 April 2017

Read all about it?


Hi there, and welcome back to Write Away, the blog for freelancers, small businesses, start-ups and anyone interested in working for themselves.
 
This time I wanted to draw your attention to a great business publication that I have come across recently called “BQ” which stands for Business Quarter. The magazine is full of inspiring stories from entrepreneurs who are running successful and growing businesses, and share their experiences, highs and lows, and tips for how they got to where they are today.
 


The latest edition (pictured above) contains fascinating articles about microbrewery business Brewdog and a great interview with a former contestant on BBC televisions “The Apprentice”.

 The magazine has an excellent sister website, the link is shown below, which has some regional content to it as well, and you can sign up to free e:mail newsletters if you so desire.

The website also features a host of content that is very sector specific, so if you are operating in the construction sector or business services or the creative sector, there will be something of relevance here for you.

In my experience there are only a limited number of good publications aimed at Small Businesses (and that is only my opinion, if you know of some, please add them to the comments below this post), and this is certainly one of the better ones.
 



I hope you find this resource useful, until next time……..

 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Accounting - A Taxing Issue? (Part 2)


Welcome back to Write Away, the blog for small businesses, freelancers, and anyone with a desire to move from paid employment to becoming your own boss.

In my last post, I tackled the issue of appointing an accountant to help you in your small business, and how you might go about this, bearing in mind different businesses have different requirements from their accountant.

This time, I want to look at what you can expect to receive from your accountant, for the hard earned money you will be paying them.

 

First and foremost, you need to confident that you are complying with current legislation regarding VAT and Taxation and this is the kind of expertise you need from an accountant. This may be in the form of completing your company tax & VAT returns and submitting an annual return, but aside from these mundane requirements, there is so much more important information that an accountant can provide, that you may not have considered.

In business, information can be king, and sometimes it can be easy to carry on doing what you’ve always done, whereas the right information may lead you to ask questions, and the answers may lead to a change of course that results in better sales, more customers, higher profits, improved margins, in other words, any number of good things!

You should be considering information on your cash flow position, the state of your debtors (those who owe you money!), and information on the profitability of your customers and products (I’ll deal with these in more detail in a future article), also a detailed of sales by customer and region or by product will help you spot trends – both good and bad!

Without wishing to muddy the water too much, accountants also specialise, with some focussing very much on compliance and tax work (often referred to as Chartered Accountants), and others on provision of management information (often referred to as Management Accountants).

Once you have decided what you require, it is certainly worth checking out that the accountant you are speaking is able to demonstrate their expertise in the area, consider asking for client references and follow them up, as you need to be confident they are the right fit for you.

 

I hope you’ve found this post useful, and if it causes you to seek more information, or even just ask more questions of your accountant, then it will have been worthwhile!

 

Thanks for reading, until next time…..

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Accounting - A Taxing Issue? (Part 1)


Hi there, it’s great to be back after some time away, thanks for finding your way to Write Away – the blog for small businesses, freelancers, and anyone with a healthy desire to cut loose from paid employment and work for themselves.
 
In this post we deal with engaging and using an accountant for your small business.

A lot of small business owners start their business armed with a specific set of skills, knowledge or experience. One of self-employments biggest challenges is how to plug a gap in that knowledge in areas you may have never needed to understand or be involved in.

For a large proportion of small business owners and freelancers, the financial management of the business, specifically matters relating to tax and accounting would probably be the area most likely to induce a cold sweat! Unless you are an accountant by trade, why would you need this knowledge anyway!

So now you’re up and running, you need an accountant, right?

Well, yes is the short answer, but you need to ask yourself what your specific needs are, because that’s what any accountant you contact will ask you.

Some business owners only use an accountant once a year, to help calculate their tax liability, others use their accountant as a trusted advisor and involve them in key business decisions.

Often, as small businesses start to grow, tasks such as bookkeeping, which didn’t use to be a big job, grow, and a business owner’s time should be spent building their business rather than raising and posting invoices into their accounting software.

There is no right or wrong answer, but key, regardless of how much or little you plan to use them, is finding an accountant who will take time to understand your business, your needs, and make themselves available when you need them.

There are a lot of accountants out there, some are specialists in regulatory and tax areas, others focus on management accounting and providing business owners with analysis of key financial management areas such as cash flow and overdue debts.

Links to finding an accountant from the main professional bodies are below, next time we will look at useful information you might look to your accountant to provide, to help you manage your small businesses finances.


 

Until next time…..

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Entrepreneur Revolution

Welcome back to Write Away, the blog for small business owners, freelancers and anyone looking to work for themselves.
We don't often feature book reviews on Write Away, but felt the need to make an exception with a book we've just finished, as it felt so relevant to our followers, those looking to work for themselves and create new businesses. The book is Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestley.

In his introduction Daniel Priestley describes an entrepreneur as "someone who spots an opportunity and acts to make it into a commercial success" and in this simple description he challenges the common preconception that entrepreneurs are a different breed to the rest of us - the only difference is often in the way they think and approach things.

This is the main concept of this riveting book - it aims to develop the entrepreneurial mindset in all of us and starts by predicting that we are living in a period of great change relating to the way the world does business - no longer does corporate life and the regular 9 to 5 have to be the way the majority earn their living but reveals the next ten to twenty years will be the age of the entrepreneur revolution, where those open to it, will harness the power of the internet,and the cloud, to start global small businesses and become masters of their own destiny.

Daniel Priestley is an entrepreneur himself, and the book doesn't seek to preach his views but enlighten the interested reader, and this makes it an easy read (if you're interested!)

Will it help you start a business? If you approach it with an open mind and accept the challenges it lays down to you the reader, then I think it could be an invaluable tool in helping you take that next step, but it requires you to be prepared to change your mindset and step out of your comfort zone - but then anyone looking to start their own business would need to be prepared to do this anyway!

This is certainly a recommended read for anyone wanting to swap corporate life for the freedom of being their own boss and are prepared to change their thinking and seek to join the entrepreneur revolution.

We hope you enjoy it and find it as inspiring as we did.

Until next time.

Entrepreneur Revolution by Daniel Priestley is published by Capstone

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Your Next Day Job?


Welcome back to Write Away, the business blog aimed at those working for themselves or anyone who'd love to but has yet to take that first step.

There is an increasing number of people who are deciding to become their own boss later on in their career.
There are many reasons for this, some people see it is a viable alternative to trying to get another job after redundancy, others are tired of working for someone else and some just have a big idea that is bursting to be launched in the form of a new business.
Becoming self employed can also be a fantastic way of gaining a better work / life balance when you have a young family and working hours need to fit around school hours.

Whatever the reason, there are a number of benefits to becoming your own boss later in your career. Not only do you have a lot more experience to draw on, you also have the benefit of having made some mistakes at someone else's expense!

Often, those over forty may also be fortunate to have built some savings which they could use to either launch their business or to draw on when cash flow is tight in the early phases of a new business.

However, taking the brave step to move away from the relative security of a weekly or monthly pay packet requires some courage and confidence in your idea and your ability to turn it into a commercial success.
There are growing numbers of organisations aimed at supporting entrepreneurs who are thinking of such a change later in their careers. One such example is Prime (Princes Initiative for Mature Enterprise) which supports business creation for those over 50. Another relatively new group is My Next Day Job, aiming to support the over 40's who want to make changes to their careers.
Theolderentrepreneur is a another website aimed very specifically at providing a network and support for people wanting to start their own business later in their career.

As usual, the links are at the end if the post, and remember, whatever stage of life you are at, its never too late to work for yourself, you are probably better equipped, in terms of experience and knowledge, than many younger people, and there are no shortage of other like minded individuals out there looking to help and support you - why not give it a go?

www.theolderentrepreneur.com
www.prime.org.uk

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Pitch To Win


Welcome back to Write Away, the blog for small businesses, freelancers and anyone interested in working for themselves.

In this post we’re looking at an interesting new initiative, which has come about via the enterprise campaign, StartUp Britain, called PitchUp!
PitchUp! Is a competition that gives small businesses a unique opportunity to pitch their products to the high street retailer John Lewis.

The competition ran last year as well, and saw 400 small businesses compete to win one of 12 places given the opportunity to pitch directly to the retailers top buyers, and ultimately try and get their products onto the shelves of one of the country’s top retailers.
An added bonus is that it is John Lewis’ 150th birthday next year and winning a competition like this would add an enormous amount of prestige in such an important year.
If you have a product that is just waiting to be discovered, a design classic or innovative masterpiece, then this is the competition for you.

Opportunities like this are few and far between, and even if you don’t win, preparing for the process and making your pitch the very best it can be could be enormously beneficial to any small business. You might not get in front of John Lewis, but who knows who might spot your product along the way, and as the famous saying goes, “You’ve got to be in it to win it!”.

The link for the entry form is at the end of the post, if you decide to give it a shot, I wish you the best of luck.
Until next time.