I see alot of business owners going into owning a business and under selling themselves.  

We all have different reasons for going into business.   You might be looking to be in charge of your own destiny.  You have a great idea that youve always wanted to pursue.  You lost your job and want to create your own or have a redundancy package that you want to re-invest.

Whatever your reason use these tips below as at the end of day,  if youre not making a profit your dreams and aspirations fall by the way side.

Protect Your Margin

Your margin should be enough that it not only covers the direct cost of your product or service materials and labour, but allows you to make a profit to cover overheads and leave a profit/ or income for yourself to grow and develop the company.

There is a market price for every kind of product or service, ie what your customers will pay for your product or service.  Stay ahead of the competition, know what they are doing, offer something different to stand yourself apart.

The margin itself

Costing your product or service is a vital project in itself. 

Be aware of the percentages your industry can attain.  If your in the food industry aim for a minimum of 3 x your costs, manufacturing products maybe lower between 60 and 100% depending on your product or market.

If you are making a product, Costs include
Materials, Labour, Energy

Keep this exercise in mind at regular intervals, at least every six months.  Energy and cost of materials do fluctuate, you need to be on top of that.

For the labour cost, time yourself making the product, as you get busier, look at ways of saving time.

Ie a machine might do the job faster than you, you might be able to buy in part of the process.

Manufacturing sites, keep a close eye on this with the use of computerised stock systems, using either FIFO or Standard Costing methods.  They see first hand any fluctuations, look into any big fluctuations, up or down.

You can also replicate this using a manual method .

Service Provider
Your service is likely to be mainly labour cost.

Experience and judgement always help when costing up a particular job.  But always keep an eye on the actual time it has taken to complete the exercise.  Keep timesheets at all times and for everything connected with that client.  You will be building up a record in order to raise the sales invoice, plus you will be staying up to date and applying realistic costs when quoting for work.

Cost savings

Save yourself cost of sale by buying direct from the Wholesaler, negotiating the prices.  More volume should equal better discounts.

Try and buy local where you can, your carriage costs could be saved.

Saving labour time, by knowing  your time elements to the job, using machinery where possible.  Time management.

Don’t price yourself too cheap.  Remember you need to be selling at a profit.

Offer added value and up sale marketing, to make higher margins.

Split your products up by margin, ie get the selling mix right, volume on lower margin, less of the higher margin.   

What constraints do you have
Do you have only limited capacity of manufacturing space, limited number of appointments available put day.  Put this into your budget, not just numbers.

If you can improve your margin to a realistic target, you will see the positive result on your bottom line, and hopefully in your pocket too.

Set yourself goals, you can always do better.  Keep that mind set, it’s a great planning tool.

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.

Self Employment Vs Employed

I get asked questions about subcontractors on a regular basis, so I thought I would share a few tips with you.

Employed

You will need to register for PAYE all employed staff regardless of the number of hours they work for you.    You need to keep personal information for example.  Name, address, national insurance, date of birth, hours worked and start and finish dates.   Keep a personnel file of any discussions or grievances too.

All employees require an employment contract, this can be simply done see the business link website for a template.

Business Link Template

Or you can use a registered HR Company to prepare one for you.

It describes the employee job title, description, hours of pay.  Rights to holiday entitlement, grievance procedures and sick and maternity leave.  Confirmation of start date and a job description, along with company rules and procedures.

You as the employer allocate work as required and set the hours of work to that employee, these are likely to consistent.  They do not have the responsibility of hiring or dismissing your staff.

You will need to keep employment records and records of salary paid, and you are responsible for their national insurance and income tax contributions.  You will also pay Employers National insurance on top of their salary, after the tax free allowances are taken into account.   Normally applying to full time time or part time after earning gross pay of £625 per calendar month. 2012/13 rates.

Self Employed or Contractors

Self employed staff or sub contractors are normally used on a temporary basis, the hours can be sporadic, and they have other customers besides yourself.

They would either be set up as a Limited Company, ie they are the employees of that company  or your supplier.   Or set up for self assessment.   They have the right to take or refuse a contract offered to them.  They also have the right hire and dismiss their own staff.

They have no entitlement to holiday pay, or sick pay through yourselves, or minimum wage.  But will normally charge for work done at their agreed hourly or fixed term rates.

They will either invoice you for the contract or have a deduction made on their fee through the CIS scheme.

The CIS scheme is a fairly simple scheme where you are either the contractor or the subcontractor, the contractor will deduct and pay over 20% of the subcontractors gross pay for income tax.  The subcontractor is responsible for their own national insurance.   There is a monthly submission required to tell the Inland Revenue what deductions have been made, and payment may be required.

Subcontractors can claim any overpaid deductions against their self assessment return, once a year.

A point to be wary of, any sub contractor that works only for you, and for more than six months will automatically be classed as an employee, once this time has elapsed and you will be responsible for their tax and national insurance.

If in any doubt contact the Inland Revenue helpline on 0845 900 0444

There are many case law studies, where this issue has become cloudy, and the sub-contractor has won the case, been able to sue the customer for lost holiday pay, sickness pay allowances.   Don’t let that be you.

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.

The Business Plan

9 April 2014

This blog is intended to explain the full potential of your business plan.

We have just updated our Business Plan and wanted to share some insights as to why these are important for the growth and success of your business.

You may have put one together when you started your business and it is now collecting dust in the drawer, next to the filing cabinet.

How about if we told you it can be adapted to be used as a positive tool to be developed as your business develops.

You maybe three years into your business, you have changed both as a person, and as a business in that timeframe. What was important three years ago, may not be so important, you may have other ideas, now you’ve dipped your toes into the world of entrepreneurship.

 

Why Do This In The First Place?

To focus on specific goals you wish to achieve, have something to aim for.

To take on a planned approach to your daily routine. The successful companies plan everything.

To know your customer better 

To know your competitors better 

To work on your threats and weaknesses . Stand out from the crowd.

 

Lets break it down.

 

Your Mission Statement

What do you want to be?

What do you want your business to be?

What is your Unique Selling Point, what is your business goal all about?

Why are you doing what you are doing?

 

Update the business plan with these new inspirational ideas.

 

SWOT Analysis

You have now been in business for while. You now have experience with what you are doing. You may have made some mistakes along the way, but have learnt from them using that knowledge to better use.

The SWOT analysis is all about where you are today, and how you compare with your expectations and more importantly against the competition.

 

Strengths - you have first-hand experience of running a business. What have you gained from your time doing it.

Weaknesses – you listed these in your first business plan, did you manage to eliminate some. Have you gained new ones?

Opportunities – No matter how big or small your business is there are always opportunities to promote and sell your product. Use your contacts you have now built up. They may be able to put some work your way. Give you access to that contract you’ve been chasing. Its not necessarily what you know, its who you know.

Threats – Whether you own the local shop down the road, or run a large corporation.

 

Three main threats to your business survival. The economic environment, cashflow and the competition. Embrace and learn all you can about them, be one step ahead.

 

The Products Or Services You Offer

What services or products do you offer ?

What is your Unique Selling Point ?

How saturated is the market place ?

How big is your market, what is your potential piece of the pie?

Is it local area or a global market ?

Can you make a profit from what you are doing?

 

The Marketing Strategy

How am I visible to the market place 

Website development 

Online presence 

Advertising in the local press 

The Directories 

Word of mouth 

Business contacts 

Referrals 

 

Looking at the competition and your customer base, the target market. This should be taking up the main part of your business plan Your strengths and weaknesses against the competition Your target market

How your marketing campaign has been working so far, track what works and what doesn’t. Some Number Work Set yourself a detailed budget and compare to actual figures Put together a cashflow statement.

Whatever youre doing always keep an eye on the cash and profitability.

Check and triple check your costings.

 

Nicola Cross 9 April 2014

 

 

 

 

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.