Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘money’

I’m infuriated by the election campaign. When things were booming, the Government poured more petrol on the fire, preventing any correction and encouraging the whole population to binge on debt. Then times turned bad, so they borrowed even more. Spending has to reduce because we’re spending more than we’re earning. We understand that on a personal and business basis so why not on a national one?

In business we know that delay makes things worse. Every day of piling on more debt steals from the future. Japan blazed the trail we’re following and got 20 years of stagnation with still no end in sight. And the Government is running on a record of being a safe pair of hands! Yeah, right.

The opposition isn’t getting the point across, because they think we don’t want to hear bad news. They are too scared to say that public sector jobs and benefits will have to be cut.

Sometimes the future of the country should be put before immediate electoral gain. And sometimes a gutsy and principled stand is rewarded. But we aren’t really engaging with the issue and the political commentators aren’t making much of it either. Maybe I’ll take a holiday in Greece this summer. It will be nice and familiar.

Chris Barling is chief executive of Actinic

Do you agree with Chris? What do you think about politicians’ promises and their handling of national debt? Leave your comment below.

  • Have your say! Business support – Part 1
  • Have your say! Business support – Part 2
  • Have your say! Business support – Part 3
  • Visit our extensive election coverage page on the Start Up Donut
  • startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

    Bookmark and Share

    Read Full Post »

    What’s my greatest challenge as an aspiring mumpreneur? Not enough time or money. Oh and not forgetting the lack of sleep (milk in the washing machine, dirty socks in the fridge – you get the picture).

    The fact that I’ve had the word ‘aspiring’ in front of my job title for about eighteen months now gives you some idea of how long the research phase takes when you have babies.

    But we mumpreneurs face even more challenges than a mere lack of time, money and sleep. If you’re short of cash from being on maternity leave or working part -time, then you need to start a business on a shoestring, which means you might have a lot of competition. And that means your marketing needs to be good if you’re to stand out from the crowd. That’s a tall order if this is your first journey into the world of business.

    Most businesses have one main aim – to make money. Most mumpreneurs run businesses with two aims – to make money and to work around their family. This is a tough juggling act, especially if you’re grabbing an hour here and an hour there when the children are napping or at pre-school.

    So why on earth are so many of us doing it?

    • Because we refuse to miss the first years of our children’s lives by working full-time when they are tiny.
    • Because we refuse to be restricted to the typically low status and poorly paid part time jobs out there.
    • Because we’ve earned our own income all our lives and don’t see why we should stop now.
    • Because we want to show our daughters what women can really achieve. And our sons, too.
    • Because we’ve got talent and we want to use it.
    • Because we get such fantastic support from other business mums. We don’t compete, we collaborate.
    • Because childcare is outrageously expensive so many of us have no alternative.
    • Because we want to.

    Having children shifts your priorities in ways you cannot imagine until you do it. Of course your children become the centre of your world, but with this can come a huge burst in motivation and creativity. Your time becomes more precious – any working time is time away from your babies – so you want to make the absolute best of it.

    The urge to provide for your family is not just for the guys. Mums have it too.

    It’s this potent mix of instinct, motivation, determination and (let’s face it) necessity that drives us to start our own businesses at one of the toughest times of our lives.

    Watch out, here we come.

    Helen Lindop, www.businessplusbaby.com

    startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

    Bookmark and Share

    Read Full Post »

    When starting a business it is difficult to put aside an amount for marketing and it’s hard to justify how much should be spent.

    When I started my business Rentabuggy.co.uk in 2008 I spent a couple of thousand pounds on marketing within the first six months but was surprised to find that I didn’t get many results from it. Here are my top five tips for advertising on a low budget.

    1. Network. Networking is free and many businesses are becoming more involved. Networking is a great way to work with like minded businesses on a like for like basis. Shortly after setting up my own company, I set up another company with my business partner called Networking Mummies Dorset and we now have over 150 businesses involved. We share knowledge, advice and advertising and I now use this as my main stream for advertising my own business.
    2. Press release. If you have a newsworthy story involving your business then write a press release. Press releases are a great way to showcase some exciting information you may have with the media. Make a list of local newspapers, radio stations and magazines within your sector and email them. Always write the press release in the body of the email as well as attaching it as a document. For great tips on writing a press release check out www.mumsclub.co.uk.
    3. Reciprocal links. Research businesses on the internet that are in the same sector as you and email them to ask if they would like to do a ‘reciprocal’ link. This means you add a link to your website with their information and vice versa. This is a good way to try increasing traffic to your website.
    4. Facebook. Facebook was originally launched as a social media portal for friends to stay in touch but has since become a great way to advertise your business. Set up a fan page and invite all your friends. Hopefully, they will then request their friends to join and so on.
    5. Blog. Blogging is a great way to keep your customers updated with news, offers and more. You don’t have to be a great writer to write a blog and this can be kept simple. Linking with other companies will help your search engine results too.

    Laura Morris, Rentabuggy.co.uk

    startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

    Bookmark and Share

    Read Full Post »

    Money, money, money

    I developed a business idea which I know is a strong, feasible proposition but, with only having normal jobs, no mummy or daddy to hand me large amounts of cash and no major savings in the bank, I knew that I would need external funds to realise the plan.

    Back in March I decided to learn how to be “investment ready” so that my business could grow with the support of some external investment from a bank, Business Angel, private investor or venture capitalist. I went to some excellent courses run by Connect Midlands to understand the process of writing a good, solid business plan and understand the business from an investor’s perspective.

    It took me a good eight months to write that business plan with a convincing proposition and a solid set of numbers to show investors. It seems like a long time, but I needed to:

    • prove my market
    • write realistic figures, but keep them ambitious to make it interesting
    • learn the jargon

    I went to the bank. Here are the lessons I learned:

    • raising funds is a tricky business, even with a solid proposition and plenty of passion to make things happen.
    • it’s close to impossible to borrow money from the bank if you are not prepared to secure the investment from assets, such as your own house.

    I know everyone is talking about banks not lending but I must admit I was sceptical to believe this, as I fiercely believe that entrepreneurship is vital for the recovery of the economy and it should be supported by the banks.

    As a consequence, entrepreneurs have the option of turning to investors/business angels. These investors receive many plans to review. I have now sent my plan to the Growth Investment Network (East Midlands) who have a range of investors in their network. I sent the plan as soon as I felt it was ready and I have to be open to feedback even if it’s hard to take. Fingers crossed.

    I have to keep trying, and persevering, believing and visualising that I will be successful in raising the funds I need.

    You can find out more about Marcela on the new interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com

    startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

    Bookmark and Share

    Read Full Post »

    Tax is never a popular subject – made even less so by recent revelations that HMRC has got many of our tax codes wrong, meaning excessive charges for some. Mistakes by HRMC aside, ‘tax doesn’t have to be taxing’, as the saying goes. If small firms take the time to keep their books in order throughout the year, a mad dash at key dates in the taxation calendar can be avoided.

    2010 has only just begun, so now is the perfect time to turnover a new (bookkeeping) leaf. Start by buying yourself some filing equipment, with different folders for sales invoices, paid and unpaid bills, bank statements and VAT returns, plus wages, if you have staff.

    Now you have some inviting looking new folders, go through your in-tray – at least once a week – and put all your bits of paper in the appropriate place. If you set aside a small amount of time to sort out your books, weekly – or even daily – it shouldn’t become too much of a chore. Bookkeeping needs to be part of your routine, like reading emails, otherwise it can be all too easy to find something else to do instead.

    Keeping accounts isn’t just sensible, it’s a legal obligation. Companies must keep all records relating to their VAT returns for a minimum of six years after the tax year to which they relate. As a minimum, you must record any income earned or expenses incurred by the company and retain all related documents, including receipts, cheque stubs, invoices, bank statements, PAYE records, etc.

    To get a clear picture of where your money is going, your transactions must be recorded in a meaningful way. You should give your ‘expenses’ record a sheet of its own, with columns representing categories such as ‘rent’, ‘utilities’, ‘travel’ and ‘stationery’. This will give you an ongoing sense of where you might be over-spending, which can help you to cut unnecessary costs

    Why rely on books or bits of paper when there is a wide variety of accounting software available? For a more simple and cheaper solution, an Excel spreadsheet is a perfectly useful tool for keeping records on your computer.

    Keeping your records on a spreadsheet or using bookkeeping software enables you to see your total transactions in an instant. You can also search for a figure among your costs should a mystery debit appear on your bank statement and even produce projections based on the average transactions made in previous months.

    You should be using your bank statements as a reference point, checking every figure in your bookkeeping records against transactions on your bank statement. This is a great way to identify missing receipts, while giving you a consistent monthly deadline to follow for getting your records in order.

    Make sure you note all key deadlines for filing with HMRC. Set reminders on your computer, so you don’t have to rely on remembering to check your diary. The next one to note is the PAYE deadline on 19 May, when employers must register with HMRC to file online. HMRC is supplying free software so small businesses can file their employee data securely. For more information visit the HMRC website.

    If you really can’t commit to the above, it may be time to call in an experienced bookkeeper. Of course, there will be an expense associated with this, but since it could free up your time and give you better information with which to make business decisions, it could be worth the investment.

    Anita Brook is director of chartered certified accountancy firm Accounts Assist. Follow her on Twitter.

    startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

    Bookmark and Share

    Read Full Post »

    This week, Doug Richard, former Dragons’ Den investor and founder of the School for Startups hosted a ‘bootcamp’ for social enterprises in London. Much of the day focused on comparing businesses run to generate profit for shareholders with those run to create a social impact. Just how “business-y” should a social enterprise be?

    Richard attempted to answer the question by focusing on the realities of running a social enterprise in a competitive marketplace. Here are eight lessons that every social entrepreneur would do well to bear in mind:

    1. Don’t assume that being “good” is good enough. If the sole difference between your social enterprise and other businesses in the same marketplace is that you are “ethical”, ask whether that is enough in itself. You may need to rethink your offer or your business model.
    2. You’re in the business of marketing and selling something to somebody. Whatever your ethical objective, you can’t achieve it unless you are selling people something they actually want. Like any business, you need to know your customers, understand your market, and so on. As Doug Richard puts it: “Understand the industry you are in and you can understand how to prosper within it.”
    3. People will not queue up to give you money. Just because you are doing “good”, that doesn’t mean people will lend to you or invest in your business. The “market” is mostly indifferent to the good that you do; your enterprise has to be strong enough to survive on its own terms.
    4. Do one thing and do it well. Successful businesses tend to have one type of expertise; those trying to do too much often over-reach themselves and fail. “A narrow business is better than a vague one,” according to Richard. Whether it’s the thing you’re selling or the thing you’re giving, do one thing and do it well.
    5. You don’t have to be a “social enterprise” to be a social enterprise. The legal forms of social enterprises (such as Community Interest Companies) are still evolving and you may find they limit your capacity to grow. There’s nothing wrong with being a limited company with a social purpose. Richard advises going down this route and incorporating your ethical aims into your company memorandum and articles. (NB: this can be a confusing area as this blog by The Capable Manager explains. Mi-Tee have also kindly offered to share their solution to this problem if you contact them via their website).
    6. Present your cause in a way that actually engages people. As Julie Devonshire of Global Ethics Limited, which runs The One Foundation, puts it: “You have to make your cause so brilliant that people will not just listen but will get off their backsides and act for you.”
    7. Try to avoid paying for anything. Global Ethics Ltd got BT to give them £3.3 million of human resources. They also paid just £293 for a television advert that would normally cost £200,000. Do everything in your power to persuade people to give you things for nothing.
    8. Don’t give it all away. Says Doug: “You need to give away exactly as much as your business model can afford to sustain and to grow.” It’s obvious really; if you’re giving everything away, you have nothing left to develop your enterprise so you can give even more away in future.

    Simon Wicks, BHP Information Solutions

    startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

    Bookmark and Share

    Read Full Post »

    Older Posts »