Category Archives: In the News

Whether it’s been a jaunt abroad, a weekend staycation, or simply time away from the screen, there’s nothing like that back-to-work feeling after some much-needed headspace. Yet even if you haven’t had chance to escape this summer, the holiday season provides the perfect opportunity for SMEs to get their accounts in order. With the deadline for your tax return 12 months after year end (for Corporation Tax and Companies House it’s nine), businesses now have less than half the year to get their affairs in order. So as not to incur unwanted fines – the later you leave it, the more severe the penalty, and some accountants will charge you for late submission of data to them – here are a number of things to consider when submitting your accounts to HMRC and Companies House, from what to file to managing that all-important housekeeping.

From expenses to overdue invoices, chasing up any outstanding payments should also be a priority to ensure your accounts remain accurate.

What exactly do I need to file?

Before year end, you’ll need to ensure your Company Tax Return, or CT600, reaches HMRC; this comprises your total business income – minus any tax allowances and expenses. The remaining figure is then used to determine how much Corporation Tax is owed. Annual Accounts that require submission are made up of these three segments: the Income Statement, Statement of Financial Position, and the Footnotes:

> Income Statement – this record contains any profit or loss your company has made over the relevant accounting period.

> Statement of Financial Position – otherwise known as the ‘balance sheet’, this statement communicates the assets, liabilities and capital of your company, culminating in its overall value.

> Footnotes – these detail any further information regarding transactions, such as loans or advances, between your company and any of its directors.

For businesses that prepare accounts via the Financial Reporting Standard for micro-entities, or FRS 105, Companies House also require the Statement of Financial Position and the Footnotes; it’s important to know that these findings will then be published on the Companies House website.

Taking control of your admin

When it comes to mastering your Company Tax Return, there are several bits of housekeeping you’ll want to action in order to provide the most accurate report; addressing this ahead of time will only make it easier come submission day. Business expenses are a perfect example of this, as every transaction you claim equates to less Corporation Tax paid at year end. If said item/service was bought exclusively for your business, such as staff uniforms, travel costs, or a training course, chances are you can claim it back. If unsure, you can always double-check this with HMRC here.

From expenses to overdue invoices, chasing up any outstanding payments should also be a priority to ensure your accounts remain accurate; allow enough time for clients to settle up ahead of sharing your tax return to avoid any unnecessary stress. Similarly, keeping on top of your paperwork (and yes, that includes your large wad of receipts) is crucial in maintaining visibility. Whether it’s copies of statements from your bank or suppliers, or any other records of income, you must keep track of these transactions for at least six years from the end of the relevant accounting period.

Allow enough time for clients to settle up ahead of sharing your tax return to avoid any unnecessary stress.

Business MOT – your summer service

Year end can prove a hectic time for any SME owner, so why postpone your annual business review any longer? While submitting your tax return can be a huge sigh of relief, it’s also worth stretching your efforts that bit further to give your company the best possible start as you approach the new financial year.

As a limited company director, you’re required to re-confirm your details with Companies House once a year (failure to submit this Confirmation Statement or Annual Return will result in a fine), plus you’ll also need to plan for your VAT returns (if VAT registered on the flat rate or standard scheme). You may also wish to review your suppliers and/or service providers to establish you’re getting the very best deal from your existing set-up. In addition, wise financial decisions – such as assessing your pension options or paying into an ISA – can help you save towards a brighter future; efficient tax planning can also help minimise your tax bill in the long term.

From knowing what to claim on expenses to keeping your records shipshape, Adams Moore offers a range of accountancy services bespoke to your business needs. With a free hour-long initial consultation available at our Tamworth offices to all prospective clients, contact us for a friendly chat.

Late payments, we’ve all been there; and that’s not to mention the chasing up, the waiting around, and the age-old frustration that comes with it. Yet for the majority of start-ups, late payments represent more than just a mere inconvenience. Software company Xero found that on average, a staggering 48% of invoices issued by small businesses were paid past their due date in 2018 – nearly half of the nation’s SME invoices (in their millions). Not only can this have major repercussions for the financial health of a business, but it can also trigger needless stress and anxiety for both owners and employees – as well as damaging all-important business relationships in the long run. We explore the reality behind Britain’s late payment offences, and what businesses can do to prevent them.

Software company Xero found that on average, a staggering 48% of invoices issued by small businesses were paid past their due date in 2018.

From cashflow woes to stifled growth

As many a business owner will concur, keeping on top of cashflow can prove a real everyday struggle. Throw delayed payments into the mix, and an SME’s incomings and outgoings become even harder to manage – spiralling out of control and having a severe impact on productivity. With 50,000 businesses failing each year due to cashflow problems, the belated actions of a client can result in serious setbacks or (worse still) a company’s doors closing altogether. Xero’s Small Business Insights report found that over a quarter of SMEs pay their suppliers late as a result, racking up a debt of over £50 billion per year across the small business community. While bigger corporations may find this easier to swallow, this is a ‘luxury’ the majority of SMEs simply can’t afford.

With a third of small business owners claiming they’d be more productive if it wasn’t for cashflow worries, it’s clear that consistent late payments can have consequences for future growth. Without access to the funds that are duly owed, SMEs will find it difficult to invest in the staff and technology needed to drive their business to the next level. In a world where invoices were always paid on time, 28% of business owners also agreed they would feel more empowered to make big decisions. Affecting the self-confidence of entrepreneurs, it would seem the instability caused by stifled cashflow has the ability to go beyond simply balancing the books.

Losing sleep over late payments

According to Theresa May’s Thriving at Work review, poor mental health in the workplace costs the economy up to £90 billion per year – of which start-ups play a big part. With late payments responsible not only for negative cashflow but a lack of growth, it’s easy to see why once-ambitious entrepreneurs would feel hard done by. Whether that’s being forced to borrow the funds required from family and friends (of which 52% have claimed), to the drastic impact this may have on relationships at work and at home, mental health issues caused by financial uncertainty alone have the power to abolish future growth plans for any business. As 43% of SME owners admit to losing sleep over capital, this mental health dilemma – causing 37% to relinquish their ventures entirely – is already having a detrimental effect on the UK economy. So, what can be done about it?

43% of SME owners admit to losing sleep over capital.

Power to the process

With the right support and processes in place, businesses have the power to take better control over the late payment crisis. As government backing increases to better incentivise those who do wish to pay for services on time, here are a few sure-fire ways a start-up can help themselves:

Trust in the tech – whether it’s automated ‘invoice chasing’ or making it easy for clients to settle up sooner, the adoption of specialised software can take the hassle out of late payment fallout (often preventing it from happening in the first place). If using online wallet PayPal for example, the ‘Pay Now’ feature allows developers to implement this ‘experience’ to encourage payees to finalise transactions sooner – minus the worry of funds being debited later down the line.

Payment on your terms – while it’s good to demonstrate a more flexible payment agreement (particularly in the early days of business), this will only benefit your working relationships for so long. Negotiate shorter payment terms with new and existing customers, and not only will you make your services more transparent – but you’re more likely to regain control of your cashflow as the chief mediator. This may seem like risky territory, but you’d be surprised at how receptive clients can be.

The politeness factor – we’re all guilty of being over-polite; when it comes to your business however, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. If the outstanding payment in question is out of character (or already pre-empted), a fair amount of leeway can be afforded. If late payments are a regular occurrence on the other hand, be pro-active in your professionalism and investigate the reasons why. With better communication in place, the ‘theme’ of late payments is more likely to subside.

For more information on cloud accounting software, please visit our Xero page or contact us to see how we can help streamline processes and keep your business buoyant.

As a start-up juggling multiple tasks at any given time, it’s easy to let the fundamental basics of running a small business fall by the wayside. Yet while brushing these things under the carpet may seem harmless at the time, the knock-on effect can have major consequences on the long-term health of your business – especially where cashflow is concerned. So much so that as a result of poor management (combined with the challenging economic backdrop), research from Xerox and PayPal revealed 37% of small UK businesses considered closing down completely this last year. To help you keep your cashflow in check, here’s a number of things you can do to streamline your operations and look to a brighter future.

research from Xerox and PayPal revealed 37% of small UK businesses considered closing down completely this last year.

Manage your payment risks

Money worries; every business has them. Yet while more established SMEs can afford to suffer the occasional hiccup, fledgling businesses are encouraged to assess their payment risk to establish their level of resilience should the unexpected occur. If you’re just starting out for example, it’s likely you’ll require payment up front if cash generation is a top priority. As a result, this could initially limit your market (where the majority of larger companies may prefer to pay upon completion), and thus demand additional incentives to enhance your offering – from early payment discounts to money off subsequent projects. Working at a reduced rate can open new doors and is a great way to build experience, which also makes it less costly for those making advance payments.

Create a cashflow forecast

While you’ll never know what’s round the corner, a monthly (or even weekly) financial forecast can give you greater visibility, alert you to any discrepancies sooner, and help keep your business on track. A good finance manager, whether internal or external, can help you monitor this and provide detailed reports and valuable insight to ensure you’re never left in the dark; if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, a number of cashflow management apps and software are also available, like Xero. Despite the fact you may be having your best month yet, acting as though you’re in a constant ‘cashflow crisis’ will ensure you maintain focus, never taking your foot off the gas. A cashflow forecast also makes it easier to keep track of overdue payments should they tend to arise on a regular basis.

 A cashflow forecast also makes it easier to keep track of overdue payments should they tend to arise on a regular basis.

Keep contracts ‘on the money’

You’ve finally closed that exciting new project, and the last thing on your mind is fussing over paperwork. But get the invoice wrong, and it could cause a number of problems down the line (resulting in payments made a lot later than expected). Take time to build a comprehensive template, and filling this out will soon become second nature; there’s resources online to get you started, but be sure to make it bespoke to your business. Terms and conditions are an essential tool designed to cover all elements of a transaction, which can even detail what happens should you not receive payment on time (or at all). Remember never to agree to any add-ons verbally (that aren’t included in the contract), and don’t be afraid to draft in a solicitor to help.

Invest in face time to avoid late payments

Whether you’re a bricks-and-mortar or digital business, you can’t put a price on maintaining face-to-face communication with your customers. With new clients, know what you’re getting into from the outset by assessing their credit situation so as to swerve the likelihood of any late payments – and make it clear you take creditworthiness seriously. Try to avoid online-only correspondence by investing time in human relationships – from suggesting a casual lunch meeting to a working day at the office. Not only will this help build trust and rapport with your customers, but it will also help you avoid the awkward situation of delayed payments in future (with faces put to names).

You can’t put a price on maintaining face-to-face communication with your customers.

Trust the experts

If your finances should allow, enlisting the support of external expertise is one of the most sensible ways you can stay on top of your cashflow, saving you time, worry (and ultimately money). Here at Adams Moore, we understand peace of mind is key for the smooth operation of cashflow – at whatever stage of your business journey. Our team of friendly professionals are on hand to guide you in the right direction, from offering business start-up advice to invoice factoring to further drive growth. Contact us to find out more.

Tax, whether we like it or not, continues to form a large part of how we run our businesses today. But if the ‘T’ word still sends shivers down your spine, it’s worth remembering that knowing more about tax not only improves efficiency, but could also save your start-up valuable revenue in the long run. While it’s easy to get bogged down with the everyday demands of running a business, taking an afternoon to swot up on what tax breaks you could be eligible for – with many aimed at SMEs specifically – could result in an unexpected payout when you need it the most. We explore five tax breaks that could help lighten the load for your business.

Taking an afternoon to swot up on what tax breaks you could be eligible for – with many aimed at SMEs specifically – could result in an unexpected payout when you need it the most.

Annual investment allowance (AIA)

Part of a company’s Capital Allowances, the annual investment allowance means full value AIA items that qualify may be deducted from business profits before tax; as it stands, AIA can be claimed on the majority of plant and machinery. However, this relief does not include cars, previously owned items now used within your business, or items gifted to your business. Both sole traders and partners can qualify for AIA, though mixed partnerships are not eligible. It’s also worth noting that between January 1st 2019 and December 31st 2020, the AIA amount was temporarily increased to £1 million from £200,000. SMEs can seek to claim AIA via their tax return.

Small business rates relief

Designed to alleviate the pressure of substantial business rates, small business rates relief offers money off for business properties with a rateable value of under £15,000. While this is only available to SME owners of a sole property, existing relief will continue for 12 months should a second be purchased. Business owners with a premises worth less than £12,000, however, are not required to pay these rates at all. If you’re based in a village and the only business of your kind (e.g. a shop or post office) with a rateable value up to £8,500, Rural rate relief is also be worth investigating. SMEs can contact their local council to apply.

. If you’re based in a village and the only business of your kind (e.g. a shop or post office) with a rateable value up to £8,500, Rural rate relief is also be worth investigating

Creative industry tax reliefs (CITR)

For businesses working in the creative sector, a series of eight Corporation Tax reliefs cover the following sectors: film (FTR), high-end television (HTR), children’s TV (CTR), video games (VGTR), animation (ATR), theatre (TTR), orchestra (OTR), and museums and galleries exhibitions (MGETR). To qualify, businesses must first pass a cultural test, after which (if eligible) can benefit from a deduction of qualifying expenditure between 80pc and 100pc, or payable tax credit. To claim this relief, SMEs must be liable for Corporation Tax. Both certification and qualification are decided by the British Film Institute.

Employment Allowance

Employment Allowance can be worth up to £3,000 off your Class 1 National Insurance bill. Most businesses and charities (including community amateur sports clubs) qualify if paying their employees via PAYE, and can still claim the allowance if paying out less than £3,000 per year. Businesses that employ care or support workers are also eligible, yet for those with more than one employer PAYE reference – Employment Allowance can only be claimed against one. In addition, you cannot claim if you’re a director and the only employee (paid above the Secondary Threshold), employ someone for personal/household work, or are a service company working under the ‘IR35 rules’. SMEs can apply via their payroll software (ticking ‘Yes’ to Employment Allowance) when sending their next Employment Payment Summary. This can also be done via HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools.

SMEs can apply via their payroll software (ticking ‘Yes’ to Employment Allowance) when sending their next Employment Payment Summary.

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

A form of venture capital scheme, the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme is not a ‘technical’ tax break, but is designed to accumulate capital for your business. Should both SMEs and investors meet the HMRC criteria, small businesses could receive up to £150,000 worth of investment. To be eligible, your business must be no more than two years old, have less than 25 employees, and possess gross assets of no more than £200,000 when shares are issued. For those SMEs interested in pursuing SEIS, it is recommended they contact the venture capital schemes department within HMRC for the appropriate advice.

From Making Tax Digital to reducing your company’s annual tax bill, our expert accountancy team specialise in supporting your small business journey. Get in touch with Adams Moore to discuss your bespoke requirements.

This full time, permanent Bookkeeper position at out offices in Tamworth is a fantastic opportunity for an experience person to gain exposure to an interesting and quality client base, spanning many sectors.

You will ideally have experience working in an accountancy practice, but those with experience in industry in bookkeeper positions are also encouraged to apply.

Required experience:
> Bookkeeping using Sage and Xero software including:
> Bank reconciliation
> Purchase Ledger
> Sales Ledger
> VAT reconciliation and filing VAT returns
> Journals including Wages Journals
> PAYE and Wages reconciliations
> Factoring experience – some of the bookkeeping clients use factoring
> Familiarisation of filing VAT returns through software now MTD is here (first VAT returns under MTD will have to be filed at the end of July)

Desirable experience:
> Payroll
> Sage Payroll experience/ RTI
> Sage Payroll year end
> Pensions legislation – filing pension returns etc.

The role may involve visiting clients at their premises and sometimes producing management accounts from Sage/Xero.

To register your interest in the position, please call us on 01827 54944 or email your CV with a covering letter to accounts@adamsmoore.com.

If you’re in the building and construction sector, a new change to VAT is coming in October – and we’re here to make sure you’re ready for it. First announced in the Autumn Budget of 2017, a VAT reverse charge for building and construction services will come into play from October 1st 2019 in a bid to prevent criminal attacks on the VAT system within the industry, or ‘missing trader’ fraud; this will be akin to the domestic reverse charge that currently applies to the sale of computer chips and mobile phones.

As a result, when supplying construction services to other VAT-registered businesses, you’ll soon be required to provide a VAT invoice stating that the service is subject to the domestic reverse charge. Recipients must then account for the VAT on that specific supply through a VAT return at the relevant rate (as opposed to paying directly to the supplier); this may be recovered at the same time as input tax.

VAT reverse charge for building and construction services will come into play from October 1st 2019.

Who will the changes affect?

While the industry can be complex, this change will broadly affect up to 150,000 UK taxable building and construction businesses concerning transactions where the recipient makes an onward supply of the same services; it will only affect supplies at the standard or reduced rates where payments should be reported through the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). Where exceptions are concerned, the following supplies are not covered by the reverse charge if supplied on their own:

> The drilling or extraction of oil or natural gas

> Extraction of minerals by tunnelling/boring/construction of underground works

> Manufacturing of building or engineering components/equipment, materials, plant or machinery, or delivery of any of these things to site

> Manufacturing of components for systems of heating, lighting, air conditioning, ventilation, power supply, drainage, sanitation, water supply/fire protection, or delivery of any of these things to site

> Professional work of architects or surveyors, or of consultants in building, engineering, interior/exterior decoration, or the laying out of landscape

> The making/installation/repair of artistic works such as sculptures, murals or other works artistic in nature

> Sign writing/erecting/installation/repair of signboards and advertisements

> Installation of seating, blinds and shutters

> Installation of security systems including burglar alarms, closed circuit television and public address systems

While the VAT reverse charge won’t take place until October this year, it’s worth considering the potential impact this could have on your business ahead of time.

What impact will this have on my business?

While the VAT reverse charge won’t take place until October this year (with HMRC taking a light-touch approach for the first 6 months and guidance offered throughout), it’s worth considering the potential impact this could have on your business ahead of time. To ensure supplies and purchases are correctly treated moving forward, SMEs will need to update their accounting systems to process these reverse charge supplies. Beyond this key adjustment, HMRC have highlighted a number of potential challenges arising as a result:

> For subcontractors of micro businesses, this change will likely have a direct impact on their cashflow as of October – with VAT no longer chargeable.

> Under the new regulation, the recipient will need to identify the correct VAT treatment of the service provided by another contractor, which can often be tricky to verify.

> To establish whether the reverse charge applies, contractors will have to divulge whether they are at the end of the supply chain to their subcontractor – information which could be commercially sensitive.

> If the customer fails to confirm their ‘end user’ status with the supplier, the recipient will be accountable for the domestic reverse charge. It’s not yet clear whether a penalty would apply for not confirming this status, and whether HMRC would take action.

SMEs will need to update their accounting systems to process these reverse charge supplies.

What are the next steps?

 There’s no time like the present to take action regarding the VAT reverse charge. Construction businesses can start by reviewing supplies previously made to (and received from) other contactors, and whether these will be subject to the new legislation. In addition, the one-off (and ongoing) costs associated with calculating and reporting the reverse charge should be taken into account. Finally, it’s important for SMEs to acknowledge how this change may affect their cash flow due to the fact they will not receive VAT directly from the contractor – if that contractor is not an end user – and how to alleviate this transition.

For businesses looking to adapt their accounting systems ahead of October, Adams Moore provides leading advice and services dedicated to businesses across all sectors. Speak to us to ensure your building and construction business heads into the autumn VAT-savvy.

When it comes to protecting your business, you wouldn’t head home with your shopfront door wide open after a long and busy day, nor would you allow members of the public to leave with a basket of your goods, minus the payment. For both digital SMEs and bricks-and-mortar businesses also operating online, you should be protecting your business from cybercrime. With the average cost of an SME’s worst form of cyber attack ranging between £65,000 and  £115,000 last year, cyber security may seem invisible and ‘unimportant’, but can prove a costly hit to your business should you wind up exposed.

Government data has shown that in the last 12 months, 40% of small businesses and 60% of medium-sized businesses have experienced some form of cybercrime – whether stealing personal data or hacking into banking/payment systems. While an SME’s cyber fortress may be slightly less sophisticated than a larger corporation’s (some with whole departments dedicated to fraud prevention), there are measures all business owners can put in place to enhance their security. We explore some simple ways you can help keep cybercrime at bay.

Password protection

It may seem like the oldest trick in the book for office-based businesses, but password protection of email accounts, servers, folders and even single documents is key should you wish to limit potential intrusion. When communicating passwords to others, ensure information is shared via a brand new email thread, and prompt your team to update their existing passwords on a regular basis. Password management apps are the best solution to keeping this in check, while also generating secure combinations that cyber criminals won’t be able to crack in a hurry. Two-factor authentication can also help keep your business data watertight, where the buffer of a second device such as a smartphone or tablet is the only way users will be granted access.

Practice cyber hygiene

Making cyber hygiene part of your housekeeping is crucial should you always wish to remain one step ahead.  Hold regular workshops with staff to train them on best practice, set time aside for insightful webinars, or why not invite a cyber fraud expert in for the day. Involving your staff members will help them realise that your business security is a joint responsibility, and that all team members should be on the lookout for weak links. Take time to reassess your in-house policies, such as streamlining staff access to certain file locations to minimise the risk of a breach. If working from a central server, ensure staff are not saving work to their desktops. While technical firewalls are effective, an even stronger ‘human firewall’ can be enforced through simple security awareness.

Partner/supplier security

While your priority of course starts with your own business, the surveillance levels of those external parties working alongside you – your partners, suppliers and clients – could also pose a security threat should they fall by the wayside. As you continue to review your own protocol, take this as an opportunity to learn about theirs and whether this measures up; are their employees equally as cyber-savvy? Would they ever be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement? Consider any stand-out weaknesses and always be cautious whenever granting third-party access to classified material. For future working relationships, include a clause within your contract so that new partners will know to comply with your standards from the get-go.

Know your threat

Beyond raising awareness and conducting best practice seminars with your staff members, knowing how cyber criminals operate will give you and your employees the best chance of identifying suspicious behaviour. With ‘phishing’ emails said to aid the most common form of malware attack (malicious software designed to cause harm to a victim’s computer system), this is just brushing the surface when it comes to wider hacker activity. From ‘keyloggers’ – monitoring tools used to record keys typed by the end user to gain access to company accounts and networks – to ‘Trojans’ – illegitimate software in disguise giving hackers access to computer systems once installed – these are just some of the terms used to describe the tactics of cyber criminals (and something every SME owner should know about).

By keeping passwords, systems and software updated – as well as enforcing a strict staff awareness policy – your business will be better positioned to withstand what’s around the corner. From company set-up to strategic planning, our business start-up support services are designed to cover all bases. Get in touch with Adams Moore today.

 

From making tax digital to your new contactless terminal, it’s hard to ignore how technology and the digital world are rapidly transforming the way businesses operate. While it’s easy to cling onto old habits, SMEs that welcome technology in small doses will not only streamline existing processes, but ensure they remain ahead of the curve when it comes to meeting customer expectations. With a combined turnover of £1.8 trillion, nearly half of UK SMEs agree that technology would improve their productivity – providing a huge boost to the UK economy. We take a look at five simple ways your business could integrate new technology for enhanced efficiency, and an even brighter future.

 

Research has revealed that small cash-only businesses have 3.5 months to make the switch before customers in Birmingham lose patience.

 

Payment acceptance

Cash only? While it’s important to keep your till stocked, SMEs that refuse card payments now run the risk of losing business altogether. In fact, research has revealed that small cash-only businesses have less than five months to make the switch before customers lose patience; Birmingham’s shoppers proving the most impatient at just 3.5 months. With the total UK contactless spend reaching £69 billion in 2018, businesses that accept this form of payment can open the door to even more visitors keen to pay with their cards, smartphones or wearables (and not miss out on those lacking the change). Plus, with payments below £30, a simple tap does wonders for your productivity, reducing queue times and allowing your customers to pay swiftly during busy periods.

Savvy apps

With a sea of apps designed to propel SMEs forward, it’s worth investigating which innovations could work for your business. For restaurant owners looking to fill their tables, apps like OpenTable make it easy for hungry guests to discover your place and book a sitting (minus the phone call). Similarly, apps like Qkr! were designed to make eating out a breeze by allowing customers to pay via their smartphones – the kind of tech that has the potential to transform your front of house. With payment acceptance in mind, low-cost solutions like Square allow any sized business to accept all major cards via a small card reader – whether face-to-face, over the phone or online. The free POS app also allows you to track sales, issue digital receipts, and receive sales reports.

 

Can you communicate with customers from anywhere in the world? Skype for Business means you can instantly message, video call and screen share.

 

Better housekeeping

As your team begins to grow, organisation is key should you wish to maintain good communication and a steady workflow. Whether you’re an office-based business or tend to work remotely, software like Trello offers a flexible solution to streamlined project management. If you haven’t already, SMEs sharing large files on a regular basis should consider secure online hubs such as Dropbox or Google Cloud Storage. For avid notetakers, Evernote allows users to capture information quickly via computer or smartphone, minus the pen and paper. When it comes to communication, collaborative workspaces like Slack allow teams to set up project-specific channels and correspond via relevant workstreams. For conference calls from any device, anywhere in the world, Skype for Business puts you in the same room as colleagues with built-in instant messages and screen sharing capabilities.

Under lock and key

Though it may be the last thing on your mind, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to security. SMEs that choose to ramp up their surveillance will not only reduce the chance of theft, but be given peace of mind after a long and busy day. From CCTV to intelligent alarm systems, there are a number of options available to align with your key concerns, dependent on the size and type of your premises. Providing video surveillance and notifications direct to your smartphone, video or ‘smart’ doorbells such as ring allow you to monitor front-door activity 24 hours a day, from anywhere in the world. With customisable security at your fingertips, just a few small changes could keep your business safe and sound – and at a relatively low cost.

 

Could you business utilise technology to offer more services or products, such a photographer using a drone.

 

Robots at the ready

Though the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) may sound far-fetched, SMEs are already enlisting the help of advanced technology to better serve the needs of their business. Whether it’s a photographer investing in their very first drone, a toymaker exploring 3D printing, or SMEs using smart speakers like Amazon Echo, the integration of AI is fast catching on and for good reason. If you’re a consumer-facing business, chatbots can serve as virtual assistants in your absence, offering swift, pre-set responses and effective customer support 24 hours a day. Whether via your company website or Facebook Page, automation can always be adopted to answer your customers’ most basic questions, without compromising that personalised approach should you ever wish to step in.

 

With an annual turnover of over £300 billion, the UK SME market continues to go from strength to strength – in spite of a hazy economic outlook. While preparing for Brexit as a business is of tantamount importance, it’s also key for Britain’s entrepreneurs to adapt to the changing times and plan accordingly for the future, whatever the coming months may bring. As the nation’s start-up community prepares for this year’s Local Business Week (13 to 19 May), we explore hints and tips on how to navigate a new landscape and thrive through this era of uncertainty. Furthermore, to celebrate working with neighbouring businesses, we’re offering any company within a fifteen mile radius of our Tamworth office a discounted fixed-fee for two years when they appoint us by 30 June 2019. So we can learn more about your about your business and your accounting needs, call us on 01827 54944 to arrange your initial, free one-hour meeting.

 

By personally recommending fellow businesses on your doorstep, you’ll soon find neighbours doing the same for you which further strengthens the community spirit.

Getting to Know Your Community

While the competitive spirit is nothing to be sniffed at, the SME ‘community’ has become what it is today by business owners collaborating, co-operating and learning from each other (through the good times and the bad). By personally recommending fellow businesses on your doorstep, you’ll soon find neighbours doing the same for you which further strengthens the community spirit – encouraging customers to shop local. Partnering with other like-minded businesses is a great way to demonstrate solidarity and ultimately increase your customer base. Seasonal events offer the opportunity to do just this – from summer fetes to late night shopping over the festive period. If new to the area, why not start by offering discounts to visitors in exchange for completing a short survey? With 70% of SMEs having expressed a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of local customers, relationship building within the community will only help foster a positive reputation.

 

Localised Marketing

From launching a blog to devising a more integrated approach, a robust marketing plan has the potential to propel your business into the spotlight. More importantly, it can also help put you in front of those that matter the most: your local community. You’ll find the majority of social networks offer paid social (PPC) services to target your content, and the channels you choose will largely depend on where your target audience tends to congregate; would you likely find them using Snapchat, for example? While a Facebook Page can help make your services known – with Messenger for Business placing you directly in touch with customers – paid social using this network is a good place to start. Using Business Manager, SMEs can create and save customised ‘Audiences’ to steer their content via location, demographic, interests and behaviour. From digital to print, press coverage in your local newspaper is also worth exploring and can prove an extremely effective marketing tool – reaching loyal readers (and prospective customers) within your region.

 

By shopping in their neighbourhood, not only are customers supporting the local economy; with less distance to travel, they are also reducing their carbon footprint.

A Lesson in Eco-friendly

By shopping in their neighbourhood, not only are customers supporting the local economy; with less distance to travel, they are also reducing their carbon footprint. In return, there are many things you can do to support the environment as an ‘eco-conscious’ business. If you’re a bar, why not replace plastic straws with paper alternatives, or sell reusable metal drinking straws (and a free beverage with every purchase). Coffee shops can also do away with plastic altogether. Where cups are concerned, incentivise customers to come with their travel flasks handy. Compostable cutlery and bio-degradable food boxes are also easy to stock and offer a great talking point with customers taking away. If you’re an office-based SME, you can take part by adopting a ‘paperless’ policy in the workplace. Invoices, receipts and other important documents can also be shared digitally, saving both paper and time. Reviewing your energy consumption as a small business can also help you do your bit, and cut utility bills in the long-run. Simple changes like turning off the heating at weekends and timer switches for lights can have a huge impact on your outgoings.

 

Keeping your Finances in Order

Staying on top of your finances can be a challenge for the average SME – particularly for a fledgling business minus the experience. Nevertheless, with good organisational skills and the ability to plan ahead, there are a number of ways to iron out the kinks, save time, and allow you to focus on what you do best. From sorting invoices to monitoring your outgoings, software such as Xero offer affordable packages with the purpose of keeping SMEs on track. Annual account management (your yearly financial performance) and Corporation Tax should also be prioritised should you wish to remain in operation. For peace of mind however, outsourcing these tasks to an local business advisor/accountant allows you to meet face to face with your consultant and build that all-important rapport over time – as well as being kept in the loop on your terms. Providing improved transparency, local businesses that specialise in SME support will often offer packages bespoke to your requirements. Plus, you’ll also be supporting local!

 

Whether it’s start-up accountancy advice or a streamlined payroll service, the dedicated team at Adams Moore offer a personalised and tailored approach to all small business clients, whatever your budget. Get in touch to arrange your free consultation. If you are based within 15 miles of our Tamworth office, engaging us by 30 June 2019 means you will be eligible for a discounted fixed-price for two years… in celebration of Local Business Week.

With the 6 April marking the start of a fresh new tax year, change is most certainly afoot in 2019. As a crucial part of your annual housekeeping, it’s worth taking a moment to familiarise yourself with the changes to tax – both personally and professionally – that may impact your finances. Whether this be updates to the National Living Wage or benefit in kind (BiK) tax rates for your company car, we explore this year’s key revisions from HMRC to help directors and business owners stay tax-savvy.

We explore this year’s key revisions from HMRC to help directors and business owners stay tax-savvy.

Personal Tax

With the new earnings cap now at £12,500, the UK Personal Allowance – the amount you make before having to pay Income Tax – increased by £650 on the 6th of April this year. As a result, this equates to a £130 reduction for the majority of taxpayers. For those paying the Higher Rate of Income Tax at 40%, this increased by £3,650 to the new threshold of £50,000 (including the increased Personal Allowance). In other personal tax updates, the Capital Gains Tax yearly exempt figure has risen from £11,700 to £12,000. Those looking to qualify for Entrepreneurs’ Relief have also received an extension as of this April, now with 24 months to ensure all conditions are met.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

Technically not a ‘tax year’ change, but nevertheless; National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates rose on the 1st of April across the board. While apprentices should now be paid £3.90 per hour, those under 18 should be paid £4.35, those between 18-20 now £6.15, those between 21-24 now £7.70, and employees aged 25+ now £8.21 (the highest increase of 38p from £7.83). If you’re considering hiring an apprentice, this band of employee is entitled to the minimum wage of £3.30 so long as they are 19 or over and have successfully completed the first year of their apprenticeship.

If your business pays for any fuel (or vehicle) your employees use personally, the benefit in kind (BiK) tax rate has now increased based on the Vehicle Certification Agency’s CO2 emissions report.

Company Vehicles

If your business pays for any fuel (or vehicle) your employees use personally, the benefit in kind (BiK) tax rate has now increased based on the Vehicle Certification Agency’s CO2 emissions report; HMRC’s ready reckoner can be used to calculate what you owe. For company vans, the set amount has risen to £3,430 (an £80 increase), while fuel for a personal van has risen to £655 (a £22 increase). When it comes to cars, it gets slightly trickier. Business owners/employees with company cars who also receive free fuel are taxed on the benefit’s cash equivalent value. This is fixed every year, and increased to £24,100 from the 6th of April. The BiK is calculated using the relevant percentage (company car benefit rate) which is then multiplied by the fixed amount of £24,100 for 2019/20.

Student Loans

For post-grad business owners looking to shift their debt from yesteryear, the Department for Education announced an increased threshold on earnings before repaying a student loan. Plan 1 loans have now risen to £18,935 (from £18,330), while Plan 2 loans have increased to £25,725 (from £25,000) as of the 6th of April. Directors paid a salary and dividends from their company should also note that this is calculated based on their income as a whole. This change will also affect those businesses enrolling new staff this year, as HR departments will need to double-check their employees’ specific loan plans to ensure the correct deductions are made.

as HR departments will need to double-check their employees’ specific loan plans to ensure the correct deductions are made.

Corporation Tax and Workplace Pensions

While this year’s Corporation Tax has remained at 19%, it’s worth mentioning the government’s plans to reduce this rate to 17% from the 6th of April, 2020. Where workplace pensions are concerned, some rather big adjustments have been made. The total minimum contribution for the auto enrolment workplace pension has now increased to 8% (up from 5%). For businesses, this means a new minimum contribution of 3% (a 1% increase), with employees now required to contribute up to 5% of the remainder (a 2% increase) of their monthly salary to make up the 8%. Finally, the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) for expenditure incurred between the 1st of January 2019 and the 31st of December 2020 on fixed assets (e.g. plant machinery) was increased from the start of the year from £200,000 to £1,000,000, in a bid to help grow the nation’s businesses.

Whatever your needs for the new tax year ahead, Adams Moore offers a whole host of services to help you achieve your business goals – from start-up advice to sole trader accountancy. For a friendly chat, contact our team of professionals today.