You might think this is an odd article for an accountant to put together. But in fact its very relevant as without marketing your business there are either no or limited sales in your business, which will have a financial impact on your future.

As part of our development of our own company I have been spending time with marketing experts, and reading up on marketing techniques to build up knowledge of this very tricky area of business.

Im sure that an expert on marketing will also have more to say about the subject than I am covering, but thought I would share some of the marketing tips that have helped us develop.

 

Point 1

The Mission Statement


This is basically your reason for being in business in the first place. This is about goal setting. If you want to be the biggest social enterprise in the country, then put it in your mission.

 

Ours is ‘Supporting Your Business Growth’

 

We not only prepare financial accounts, we also work with a number of businesses in developing their companies into businesses that sustain active growth.

 

What is your mission?

 

Point 2

What Business Am I In?

 

If you don’t know what you do, it’s going to be difficult to tell anybody else about your amazing idea.

 

Think about this very carefully put together a 30 second spoken script to point out the benefits of someone buying from you.

 

Unique Selling Point, why are you different, why should I buy from you?


You are now a walking talking advert for your business everything you do from now on with have an impact on it.

 

Point 3

Who Is My Target Market?

 

Whenever a business first starts up, there is always the impression that the services or product will suit everybody. Unfortunately quite often that is not the case. You need to tailor your marketing to that chosen market, to enable you to sell better to them. You will need to do market research, feedback forms can help with this. By asking your customers questions about what you’re doing you can develop this further.

 

Point 4

What Is Marketing Budget?

 

The majority of businesses have a very limited budget for marketing and have to do a lot of leg work themselves, and choose as much free marketing as possible.

 

Examples of marketing possibilities

 

Door to door

Leaflets

Brochures

Networking

Website

Sign writing a vehicle

Paid advertising online (pay per click)

Magazines

Newspapers

Referral Schemes

Social Media

 

Whatever your chosen marketing strategy, there is not one thing that will be enough to market your business you will need to spend a great deal of time doing a variety of any of the above. There is no quick answer to this as everything takes time to develop, marketing is no exception.

 

Point 5

Self Sacrifice

 

With anything you want to develop and grow there is a point when you need to nurture. Certainly if you have a limited marketing budget, there is a real possibility that in order to grow your business you will need to sacrifice salary to increase your marketing budget, and allow your business to develop into something much bigger than if you had left things as they were. This may need to be done from time to time too, every business runs in stages, and when you reach your limits to that stage, you have to feed it again with investment.

 

Point 6

How Do I Manage Working And Marketing?

 

You’ve now got your customer base but it’s not quite enough to make a living, or you’re looking to grow the business, but time is of limited availability now. As a business owner you need to be putting in a minimum of 30% of your time to marketing and looking for the next prospect. The risk of not doing so means that when you have done the work directly in front of you, and you will then see gaps in your diary, or cashflow, which then with limited time needs to be filled quickly, or you’re on stop.

 

If you have employees, then you need to be delegating their time to working and you need to concentrate as much as possible to marketing your business. I am never without my business cards, as conversations can happen in the oddest circumstances. Pass your cards to friends and family who’s to say they can’t do a little promoting on your behalf too. Consider outsourcing. We use a company for our marketing strategy and our website, they have proved to be imperative to our business development and have also freed up my time immensely.

 

Point 7

Tracking Leads And Conversions

 

As soon as you start marketing your business you need to know where every lead is coming from, and to also track your percentage sales conversions from those initial leads. Your marketing budget is very precious so don’t waste it by not tracking, and making sure that your money is spent on advertising that works.

 

Point 8

Have Fun

 

Marketing is not a chore have fun with it, let your customers see your personality.

 

As the saying goes ‘People Buy From People’. So let them see who you really are, it might surprise you and take you to where you want to be.

 

Happy Marketing!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog is intended for information purposes only and is only advice from past experience, you may have other suggestions of your own. It is not intended to be used to make all of your business decisions but as a guide only.


Imagine your company bank account is actually your own personal money.

Would you check what’s in it?

Would you be interested to know your mortgage, food bill for the month, your electricity, the gas bill. And knowing that what’s left in the bank at the end of the month, is potentially yours to spend as you wish (your disposable income.) Then the key is to not treat your business bank account any different.

You will have fixed bills in your business just like you would personally. It’s a little different in that the Directors income is only guaranteed, once all payments have been made and accounted for. Please remember to keep money back in the account to cover VAT, PAYE, Corporation Tax and Self Assessment. The last thing you need is sudden surprises at the end of the year.

At the very least you need to be keeping a manual ledger book, even if you don’t go down the route of using Accounts software. Keep this updated a minimum of once a month. To not do so will leave you not knowing whether you are making a profit or a loss. To keep this updated regularly will allow you also make instant decisions that change the course of the way you do business.

We are still seeing far too many companies coming through the doors, not thinking this area is of important concern.

You are working in the dark, with the lights off. Be careful not to hit the wall, or the door. (an analogy I know but think about it)

If paperwork is not your strong point, after all your services or products are why you are in business in the first place. Use someone to help you, whether it be a friend, member of staff or outsource this altogether.

Talk to companies who have this already in place and ask them how they feel it has changed the way they work. If you know you are making a profit, things can only look up.

Remember the main reason for companies going out of business in their first two years is because they didn’t know they were running out of cash, until it was too late. The bank balance gives you a false sense of security, it will never tell you, you are running out of cash, until its gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog is intended for information purposes only and is only advice from past experience, you may have other suggestions of your own. It is not intended to be used to make all of your business decisions but as a guide only.

Below is a summary of the budget released 20 March 2013

 For the complete statement see

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/budget2013_statement.htm

The link for more detail about the new schemes mentioned in the speech, are as below:-

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/budget2013.htm

 

Budget 2013 statement Budget 2013 Statement to the House of Commons by the Rt Hon George Osborne, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer

 

We’ve now cut the deficit not by a quarter, but by a third.

We’ve helped business create not a million new jobs, but one and a quarter million new jobs.

Today, I’m going to level with people about the difficult economic circumstances we still face and the hard decisions required to deal with them.

Our nation is in a global race – competing alongside new centres of enterprise around the world for investment and jobs that can move anywhere.

Building a modern reformed state we can afford. Bringing businesses to our shores with competitive taxes.

Fixing the banks. Improving our schools, our skills, our infrastructure, and our industry.

This is a Budget for those who aspire to own their own home; who aspire to get their first job; or start their own business;

A Budget for those who want to save for their retirement and provide for their children.

I can confirm that people sent to Cyprus to serve our country, in our military or government, will be protected in full from any tax on their deposits.

40 per cent of all we export, we export to the eurozone.

There is a huge effort across this government to grow Britain’s trade with the fast growing parts of the world – and exports to Brazil, India and China are up almost two thirds.

UK firms now export more goods to non-EU countries than to EU countries: the first time this has happened in over two decades.

GDP for last year has turned out to be a little higher than the OBR forecast in December, but this year, their output forecast is reduced to 0.6 per cent growth.

While less than we would like, our growth this year and next year is forecast by the IMF to be higher than France and Germany.

The OBR then expect the recovery to pick up to 1.8 per cent in 2014, 2.3 per cent in 2015, 2.7 per cent in 2016 and 2.8 per cent in 2017.

Crucially, jobs are being created.

Mr Deputy Speaker, when we started the unavoidable task of reducing the size of the public sector workforce, some in this House expressed doubts that the private sector would be able to make up the difference. I’m glad to report to the House, that their lack of confidence in British businesses has proved misplaced.

It is a tribute to the energy and enterprise of British companies that for every one job lost in the public sector in the last year, six jobs have been created in the private sector. Compared to this time last year, the OBR now expect 600,000 more jobs in 2013 – and there will be 60,000 fewer people claiming unemployment benefit.

The deficit has fallen from 11.2 per cent of GDP in 2009-10, to a forecast of 7.4 per cent this year. That is a fall of a third. It then falls further to 6.8 per cent next year, 5.9 per cent in 2014-15.

Our judgement has since been supported by the IMF, the OECD and the Governor of the Bank of England. I don’t propose to change that judgement three months later. Mr Deputy Speaker,

I’ve also had representations at this Budget for measures that would add £33 billion a year extra to borrowing on top of the figures I’ve announced. Recovering from the financial crisis has exposed the shortcomings of conventional monetary tools.

We in Britain have had to innovate and develop new tools.

We are now actively considering with the Bank of England whether there are potential extensions to the successful Funding for Lending Scheme that will boost lending still further. And we are also setting out our plans for lending from our new Business Bank.

We also need supply side reform – to throw the full weight of our efforts behind the entrepreneurial forces in our society. Our fundamental overhaul of the planning laws are now helping homes to be built and businesses to expand. Our reform of schools, universities and apprenticeships is probably the single most important long-term economic policy we’re pursuing.

Our support for European free trade agreements with India, Japan and the US is a priority of our foreign policy.

So I accept Michael Heseltine’s excellent idea of a single competitive pot of funding for local enterprise.

I also fully endorse the report of Doug Richard to make the most our apprenticeships.

We have the second largest aerospace industry in the world. For the first time in forty years we manufacture for export more cars than we import.

We’re backing international successes like these with £1.6 billion of long-term funding for the industrial strategy the Business Secretary launched this week. And today we build on our new tax reliefs coming in this year for the creative industries like high-end television and animation with new support for our world-class visual effects sector.

To help small firms, we’ll increase by fivefold the value of government procurement budgets spent through the Small Business Research Initiative. We will fund the proposal to make growth vouchers available to small firms seeking advice on how to expand.

We’ll support the manufacture of ultra low emission vehicles in Britain with new tax incentives. The HM for Stoke on Trent Central has argued passionately and in a non-partisan way about the damage energy costs are doing to his city’s famous ceramics industry – and he’s persuaded me. So we will exempt from next year the industrial processes for that industry and some others from the Climate Change Levy.

But I also want Britain to tap into new sources of low cost energy like shale gas. So I am introducing a generous new tax regime, including a shale gas field allowance, to promote early investment. Shale gas is part of the future.

Mr Deputy Speaker, we can help companies grow and succeed by building infrastructure, backing local enterprise and supporting successful sectors. Our Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme offers generous incentives to investors in start ups.

They have asked me to extend the CGT holiday – and I will.

Employee ownership helps create an enterprise culture. So we’re making our new employee shareholder status more generous, with NICs and income tax relief. And we’re introducing capital gains tax relief for sales of businesses to their employees. Companies that look after their employees, and help them return to work after periods of sickness, will get new help through the tax system too. And we’re going to double to £10,000 the size of the loans that employers can offer tax free to pay for items such as season tickets for commuters.

My HR for Enfield North and others have put forward proposals to help investment in social enterprises. I have listened and we will introduce a new tax relief to encourage private investment in these social enterprises.

Research and development is absolutely central to Britain’s economic future. So today I’m increasing the rate of the above the line R & D credit to 10 per cent. Along with our new 10 per cent corporation tax rate on profits from patents coming in next month, this will help make us one of the most internationally attractive places to innovate.

Here in Britain we’ve cut corporation tax from the 28 per cent we inherited to 21 per cent next year. So in April 2015 we will reduce the main rate of corporation tax by another 1 per cent.

Britain will have a 20 per cent rate of corporation tax – the lowest business tax of any major economy in the world. By merging the small company and main rates at 20p, we will abolish the complex marginal relief calculations between them, and give Britain a single rate of corporation tax for the first time since 1973. Today,

I am unveiling one of the largest ever packages of tax avoidance and evasion measures presented at a Budget. They include agreements with the Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey to bring in over a billion pounds of unpaid taxes.

So to the working parents struggling with the costs of childcare, and the mother wondering whether it makes financial sense to get a job, we offer this: Tax free childcare. New tax-free childcare vouchers for working families: 20 per cent off the first £6,000 of your childcare costs for each child. And increased childcare support for those low income working families on universal credit.

A simple, flat rate pension accessible to everyone and worth £144 a week. Any one pound you save, will be a pound you can keep. For employers that means paying the same employer national insurance as those without defined benefit schemes.

Private sector employers can adjust their pension benefits to accommodate the extra cost; Helping with aspiration also means helping those who want to keep their homes instead of having to sell it to pay for the costs of social care. It’ll also come in in 2016. It will be set to protect savings above £72,000, and we’ll raise the threshold for the means test on residential care from just over £23,000 to £118,000 that year too.

For decades politicians have talked of doing something for savers and those who have to sell their homes to pay for care; and yet nothing has been done. And what symbolises that more than the desire to own your own home. Today I can announce Help to Buy. Help to Buy has two components. First, we’re going to commit £3.5 billion of capital spending over the next three years to shared equity loans. From the beginning of next month, we will offer an equity loan worth up to 20 per cent of the value of a new build home – to anyone looking to move up the housing ladder. You put down a five per cent deposit from your savings, and the government will loan you a further 20 per cent. The loan is interest free for the first five years. It is repaid when the home is sold. Previous help was only available to those who were first time buyers, and who had family incomes below £60,000. Now help is available to all buyers of newly built homes on all incomes. The only constraint will be that the home can’t be worth more than £600,000 – but this covers well over 90 per cent of all homes.

The second part of Help to Buy is even bolder – and has not been seen before in this country. We’re going to help families who want a mortgage for any home they’re buying, old or new, but who cannot begin to afford the kind of deposits being demanded today. We will offer a new Mortgage Guarantee. This will be available to lenders to help them provide more mortgages to people who can’t afford a big deposit. These guaranteed mortgages will be available to all homeowners, subject to the usual checks on responsible lending. Using the government’s balance sheet to back these higher loan to value mortgages will dramatically increase their availability. We’ve worked with some of the biggest mortgage lenders to get this right. And we’re offering guarantees sufficient to support £130 billion of mortgages. It will be available from start of 2014 – and run for three years.

Today, I am cancelling this September’s fuel duty increase altogether. Petrol will now be 13 pence per litre cheaper than if we had not acted over these last two years to freeze fuel duty.

We’re taking a penny off a pint.

In two weeks time, the allowance will reach £9,440 with the single largest cash increase in its history. 24 million taxpayers will see their income tax bill cut by an extra £200. Over 2 million of the lowest paid will be taken out of tax altogether.

The cost of employing people is a burden on small firms. And it is a real barrier to taking an extra person on. To help create jobs and back small businesses in this country I am today creating the Employment Allowance. The Employment Allowance will work by taking the first two thousand pounds off the employer National Insurance bill of every company. It’s worth up to £2,000 to every business in the country. It will become available in April next year once the legislation is passed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog is intended for information purposes only.  It is not intended to be used to make all of your business decisions but as a guide only.


The Financial Spring Clean

 

The weather is warming up and Spring is on the way, its great time for you to put some financial processes into action and start to look forward to the year ahead.

 

Your business plan/budget.

 

Keep this report in mind certainly every six months, ideally every quarter. Rolling the plan ahead and updating it with new ideas or processes you may have in place. I would also look at having a cashflow projection a year ahead, this will help you plug in cash reserves if there is a shortfall ahead of time. You will be better prepared for any challenges that await, if you see this all ahead of time.

 

Cash Is King

 

Keep your creditors and debtors up to date, I see far too many sets of accounts needing either tidying up, or money chasing from several months ago. This will keep you liquid if you are keeping the cash close to your chest. Make sure you have a fully usable process for keeping these up to date. Credit score new Customers if you are giving credit. Don’t be afraid to use outside help if some debts are getting hard to chase. By keeping this professional and not personal you are more likely to get a positive outcome.

 

Look at your processes

 

You can never spend enough time in tightening up your processes. Imagine you have moved your business from a couple of hundred thousand turnover to a million pound turnover business. If you havent addressed processes and improved efficiencies you will never cope with the increased demands. Delegate your time appropriately and keep training of your team at the heart of your business. As you grow you will be become more reliant on them, they are your future. Invest in them wisely and see the rewards, just like you would if you were buying equipment or software to run your business more efficiently.

 

Tracking your Sales

 

Are you tracking where your sales are coming from? How are businesses finding you? I always recommend you track at least the following

 

Where people are finding you

Long term customers/vs new business

Product/service segmentation

Average customer spend

Track every item of marketing spend you have, and make sure they are all working well.

 

Marketing Strategy

 

When was the last time you prepared a SWOT Analysis, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Your competition will be focused on this subject, you need to be one step ahead of them at all times. Dedicate at least a third of your time to marketing focus. Afterall you cant grow without increasing your new business. Track all of the spending in this area and drop what clearly isn’t working. Don’t ponder, this needs direct action.

 

Cost of Sales and Overheads.

 

Keep a close eye on your margins. Always track the service jobs you do, or check margins on the products that you make. It’s a good idea to keep timesheets and compare theses costs to the job originally quoted. This will enable you to quote better, and work on improving your margins, and in turn your profitability.

 

Overheads, keep a track of these. Some of these costs may be fixed, but that doesn’t mean that you cant make amendments if you need to. By knowing ahead of time it is worthwhile knowing your breakeven point. The point at which your sales match your costs, and any surplus is profit.

 

I hope you find these easy to follow steps and look forward to hearing from you as you develop your businesses and grow.  By managing your business as you grow you will be better prepared and find it easier to cope as the demands on your time increase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog is intended for information purposes only, you may have suggestions of your own.  it is not intended to be used to make all of your decisions but as a guide only.

Has your business got the potential to be a Franchise?

 

This question has been asked by a number of clients in recent months, so I thought I would share with you some insights into what is required if you are looking into this.

Questions to ask yourself.

Does your business make a reasonable profit?

Do your products or services meet a ready need in the market?

Could your business work in other locations?

Could others be trained to run a business in the same way as yours?

Are you keen to grow but concerned about losing key personnel?

Does it interest you to help others become successful in their own right?

Are you keen to grow whilst minimising the risk?

Are you keen to grow whilst minimising financial outlay?

Would you like to multiply your profits over the next few years?

Would you like to generate a substantial passive income stream?

 

If you are saying yes to most of these questions, then your business could have franchise potential. We have the contacts to hand who can assist you through this important phase.

 

Some of which are:-

Having a sound financial model with excellent documented processes will put you on the right road to make your business a viable option for others. Most networks look at a business being able to run at a turnover of more than £1,000,000 a year, as this has proven that the model is working and that you as owners are seeing success in your own right. That doesn’t mean that as a smaller business that this idea is pie in the sky, but it does make a difference on your selling price and advertising potential of the franchise.

 

We have found that by being able to at the push of the button knowing exactly where you are financially, you can plan for any number of opportunities. The important thing to remember is that whilst you are passionate about your product or service, others will follow suit. Keeping the motivation is a big part of these successful brands. Training and recruitment, and controlled growth and support. It doesn’t matter what type of industry either, we have seen the food industry, manufacturing and accountancy to name a few take on the franchise idea and make a big success. It is a faster way of getting your name out and improving branding and enables you to distribute on a national, multi national scale, and of course profitable. If you would like to hear more, come and book an appointment with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This blog is intended for information purposes only advice from past experiences, you may have your own suggestions.  It is not intended to be used for all of your business decisions, but used as a guide only.