Frazzled By your Business Finances?

 

HOW TO TAME THE PAPERWORK IN YOUR BUSINESS

Why you need to get your records straight?

So that you are at a Known Financial Position (KFP) and you can be an informed entrepreneur and know where you are at the glance of a simple report

PLUS

You feel less stressed at the dreaded tax time and know where all your paperwork is.

C.A.L.M Money Management stands for:

1. Capturing the data with a simple record keeping system, electronically or with physical files, the choice is yours

2. Accurate accounting system set-up that keeps you informed to make better business decisions

3. Learning to love & understand your numbers that come from the accounting system

4. Managing your cash flow so that you can pay your bills and create financial freedom

So in this post we will touch on the C from the C.A.L.M process

CAPTURING THE DATA

It’s the step BEFORE bookkeeping

There as many ways to do this as there are fish in the sea, which one will suit you depends on how tech savvy you are or whether you would you rather be able to see and touch your paperwork in physical folders.

This post will focus on a paperless or electronic record keeping system
 

ELECTRONIC FILING

I love Evernote

WHY EVERNOTE?

For tech lovers, I love Evernote, why? Simply because your financial data is coming from a multiple of sources; receipts can still come in by hand from cafes and stationers but you will also be gathering receipts and bills from emails and other online sources like online banking. 

Evernote enables you to easily capture all of these into one electronic notebook so that all your financial data is in one place. 

You can also share notes and collaborate with your team.

The search tool in Evernote makes it easy to find what you’re looking for without leafing through lots of paperwork, (it will even look for handwritten text in a scanned image).

So let us consider all the different sources of your financial paperwork and how to deal with them using Evernote:

Paper Expense Receipts

With Evernote you can take photos of those piddling little cafe receipts with your phone using the Evernote App Scanner (it’s brilliant!) and the receipt will go directly into a designated notebook in Evernote.

Emailed Receipts

With your receipts that come in via email, Evernote assigns you a unique Evernote email address so that you can forward these as the come in to that designated notebook in Evernote. 

Bank, Paypal and Credit Card Statements Downloaded

Email them to your Evernote email address or attach them from a file on your PC to your Evernote Notebook

How to Get Started

 Set up a notebook in Evernote and call it 'Financial Notebook' for the current year e.g. 'Financial Notebook 2017' (you may want to call it something more sexy/creative- if you can think of a sexy name for finance, please tell). I digress, you can save all your money stuff into that Evernote Financial notebook, including your tax paperwork, accounting management reports and year end accounts . 

I have personally taken this one step further and set up a 'Stack' of financial notebooks. My lead notebook is called 'Business Bright Finance 2017' and the notebooks within that stack are monthly notebook so that I can have all my financial records ordered by the month. This also makes it easier for my bookkeeper as it sorts my data into months.

As stated before, you can then share your Financial Notebook with your bookkeeper/accountant or administrator each month.

Or if you do your own bookkeeping you can bring up the contents of your Financial Notebook on your iPad while you enter the data into your laptop or PC.

I have detailed step by step instructions on this if you would like and I have a screen-shot of my Financial Notebook in Evernote and the corresponding Notes.

I want to keep this post short and ‘sweet’ so I will have suggestions for paper record keeping in my next post.

Questions?

What do you use currently? Are you happy with your record keeping system? Does setting up a paperless system interest you?.

 

 

 

Why Should You Be Interested In Intellectual Property?

Why should you be interested in Intellectual Property?

By knowing about Intellectual Property you will know what to do to protect your hard work from being copied without your permission.
 Intellectual Property infringements can cost you thousands where amongst other things people can produce a cheap replica of your products and sell them as the original, stealing your profits and doing damage to your reputation with low quality knock-offs.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property is complex. According to the UK Government website, Intellectual Property is a collection of rights. Having the right type of intellectual property (IP) protection helps you to stop people stealing or copying your work including:

  • The names of your products or brands

  • Your inventions

  • The design or look of your products

  • Things you write, make or produce

There are four main types of Intellectual Property

  1. Copyright - automatic and free for literary, artistic or dramatic and musical works

  2. Patents - granted for new inventions

  3. Designs Rights - you can register the look of a product you've designed and Design Rights must applied for at the IP office for new designs. Britain also has unregistered Design Rights automatically given for 15 years from the date created. It is very important to keep good records of the whole design process as well as any meetings and correspondence in case you are ever required to prove the originality of your work.

  4. Trade Marks - can be applied for and registered for brand names, words, sounds and even smells.

What Counts as Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is something unique that you physically create. An idea alone is not intellectual property. For example, an idea for a book doesn’t count, but the words you’ve written do.

A Quick Guide to Managing your IP

 NESTA in the UK provides a step by step list of how to manage your IP:

- List your creative assets including your logo, company name, packaging design and products

- Have a simple confidentiality agreement with your clients BEFORE you start negotiations with potential manufacturers or investors.

- Register designs, patents and trademarks at the IP office.

-Buy the domains for your company names to secure your brand.
and keep the renewal dates in your diary, your domain name registrar usually send you a reminder by email.

- Mark your name or company name on all copies of your work along with the date and country. 

Creative Commons License

 Copyright protection is freely and automatically given whenever you create a photo, song, drawing, story, website, flyer etc. with no need to register

However, sometimes full copyright is too restrictive and you may want your work to be freely shared to get your work exposed without people having to come to you to ask for your express permission. 

This is where Creative Commons Licensing comes in. Creative Commons Licensing is a global movement and refines your automatic copyright and dictates how others may use your work without permission.

Read more about it here:
https://creativecommons.org/about/

How to Monetise Your IP

Knowing about IP is important as your creative work is an asset. It can have a high value in the future and in some cases can be used as collateral or a legacy to pass down. It can give you a real advantage when negotiating deals and it can make you money beyond the sale of your art work.

You Can:
- License your rights,  (retain your rights whilst granting permission to use) and make money on them

- Charge an Assignment fee (transfer of ownership) if the clients wants the rights

- Receive royalties


Enforce Your IP


As mentioned earlier IP infringements can cost you thousands

- Monitor what others in your industry are up to and get alerts on any new trademarks being advertised to ensure that they don't infringe upon yours.

- Have standard Cease and Desist letters ready to use if you find anyone is infringing on your rights

There is a lot information here:

In the UK, the British Library has regular mini courses on IP and lots of information on their website.

This was just a brief outline about Intellectual Property and you will need to read up about the rules specific to  your country. This information is written in very general terms and should be used as a guide only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office

In the US, Patent, trade mark and design applications can all be filed electronically through the USPTO website, and copyright through the Copyright Office website
 
 

Do You have a Great Business Idea?

 

How do you distinguish a viable business idea from a day dream or desire?

Always think about your potential clients or customers first

Ask yourself:

Is there a proven need for your product or service or must you create one.? Have you conducted a simple survey to find out what your potential clients really need?

What do your clients want? People tend to buy what they want not just what they need? Is there an existing demand for your offerings?

Have you worked out your Personal Survival Income and Ideal Income to calculate if the demand for your service or product will meet your financial needs, make a profit and not just break even?

Example:
'Founded in 1995, easyJet's early marketing strategy was based on "making flying as affordable as a pair of jeans" '- Wikipedia.  There was a high demand for a 'no frills', cheap travel option where you are not given so called 'complimentary' extras like snacks. Due to  high demand, easyJet is a  financially successful company with net profits of £427 million in 2016.

What differentiates you from your competitors and why should your customers care about what you do?

What problem do you solve for your customers? Are they easy to market to?

  Is your idea scalable or will you always have to do all the work because you won't be able to afford help?

Is the time right for your idea, has it passed or is it too advanced for your particular niche?

How will you keep innovating to maintain interest in what you offer?

Ensure that you are not the only one in love with your own idea and make sure it is commercially viable. Test your idea before investing heaps of money using a tool like the Lean Business Model Canvas below:
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/0682311eb6dd043a8be2a5d9c/files/fe774d79-b7c4-4f9b-8668-8b64a2d8cf8d/Business_Bright_Adapted_lean_canvas_powerpoint_template_2.pdf
 

There are great tips to be learned not only from successful companies like easyJet but from start-up failures as well. The article linked below is too long to add in here but makes interesting further reading
http://www.fabricegrinda.com/entrepreneurship/lessons-from-a-startup-failure/


Blog Inspired by NESTA Creative Enterprise Toolkit


 By Ally O'Meally-Watson @ Business Bright helping creative entrepreneurs build a solid path to profits.

Serious business with a huge dose of creativity.

Step 1 in Creating Your Business Profit Plan

PERSONAL SURVIVAL INCOME

To find out if you can afford to start your own business (or, in fact, if the business can afford you) you first need to calculate your own survival income.

This figure is the amount of money you need to be able to pay all your personal bills – do not include any business expenses here, then deduct any money you have coming from sources other than your business or any employment benefit or income support during the next twelve months.

Much of the information will come from what you spent last year. You should be able to extract the figures from your bank statements. You can use monthly figures and multiply them by 12 but don’t forget annual items like insurance that might don’t show up on the month you are looking at.

Remember

-       Be honest with yourself, don’t underestimate any of your bills

-       Don’t forget those luxuries e.g. coffee dates etc.!

-       You may have to live on a very low income during the first few months- can you?

-       You may be eligible for government benefits. They will probably need to see your cash flow forecast to be able to decide how much you could be awarded in benefit. Any award is considered as income and should be placed in the bottom part of the attached worksheet.

The overall figure will act as a guide when planning how much money to take out of the business for yourself in the first twelve months- this figure is called your DRAWINGS if you are a sole trader or partner. It is called your SALARY if you are have a Limited Company. As each are taxed differently, you will need to recognise the difference.

BIG TIP – DREAM BIG

Print two worksheets, cross out ‘Survival’ on the second copy and write in big letters above it ‘IDEAL”

Now do the above exercise, one for ‘Survival’ lifestyle and one for your ‘ideal’ lifestyle. How much personal income would you need for your ideal lifestyle?

 

Worksheet

Personal Survival Income for the Next Twelve Months

 

ESTIMATED EXPENDITURE (Annual figures)

Mortgage & Endowment/Rent £

Water Rates & Council Tax £

Gas/Electricity/Oil £

All personal & Property Insurance £

Food/Clothing & General Housekeeping Expenses £

Telephone (personal use only) £

Hire charges & HP repayments £

Entertainment (Meals/Drinks etc.) £

Car Tax & Insurance £

Car running expenses (petrol, service etc. – personal use only) £

Presents & Children’s expenditure £

Saving plans/Pensions £

Booked Holidays £

Other (please state) ………………………………………..£

Expenditure Sub Total (a)  £

OTHER INCOME (Annual Figures) (Other than what you expect to earn from your business)

Income from husband/wife/partner £

Possible Benefits (eg family credit, state) £

Other Income (please state)…………………………….. £

Income Sub Total (b) £ 

TOTAL SURVIVAL INCOME (a) minus (b)          £                                

To estimate your Gross income before Tax and National Insurance are deducted divide your total survival income by 0.8

e.g. If your total survival income is 25,000 your Gross salary would be £31,250 

£25,000 / 0.8 = £31, 250

TOTAL GROSS INCOME £

 

 

 

NOTES

Create Your Business Vision Board

 

What is a Vision Board?

It is a visualisation tool of what you want your business to look like. 

It can be the first step towards writing that intimidating business plan that you may need to secure funding.

Take a day out of overwhelm for a time of creativity & fun and make a vision board of your successful business

'Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun ' Albert Einstein

Every great business begins with a vision of your ideal future and sets you on a path to making it a reality

Mind-set. Profits. Lifestyle. 

Five Steps to Create your Vision for the Business of Your Dreams

1.  Your Mind-set

It all starts with having a business success mind-set. What type of entrepreneur do you want to be?

2.  Your Moola

Get clarity on your financial goals, take your business seriously and get over money dramas, set money goals that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be 

3. Your Message

Who are your ideal customers and what value do you really provide for them? 

4. Your Mailing List

Make your vision a reality, plan your high value client attraction tool and create your action steps to make it happen.

5. Merging It All Together

In step five you put it all together to create your own Big, Bold & Beautiful Business Vision Board for your office to prompt you into action.

Your Business Vision Board will:

  •   Reduce overwhelm & stress by keeping you focused and fine tunes your options
  • Keep all your thoughts and ideas in a single location
  •     Give you clarity
  • Give you inspiration when things are not going so well
  • Help build & strengthen your brand
  •     Be a permanent but flexible reminder of your vision for your business that you can keep for yourself or share with your partners or team
  •    Act as a visual tracker for your money and marketing goals
  • ·    Keep you accountable as it is always visible not tucked away in a drawer or filed in a binder

 

Seeing is believing

Transform Your Financial Systems With a 90 Day Finance Fix

Money is not the be end and all but it is like oxygen in business, without it, it’s not a happy ending…

Are you getting the financial information you need to create improved profits & cash flow in your business? 

Do you have pressing Cash Flow and Profitability issues?

Are your business finances in chaos or just plain confusing?

  • Do you know what your profits were last year?
  • What is your projection for next year?
  • What are your margins?
  • Are your books up to date?
  • Do you know how to work out if you can take on more staff?

A huge step in answering these and any other Dragon Den type of business questions is to understand the numbers since numbers are a key factor in business survival. If numbers are not your forte, you will need to seek help in the form of a fairy finance godmother.  Someone that can help you to have a working knowledge of your financial statements so that you are aware of the health of your business and know what to look for.  A good dose of financial savvy can give you the confidence to leave the detailed daily financial tasks to an expert bookkeeper, company accountant or a Small Business CFO (Chief Financial Officer).

In addition to giving you peace of mind, a finance professional is also a key component when seeking funding either from investors or from the bank. Both will want to see a detailed report of how the finances in your business have been working and what you project in the future. 
So how do you transform your financial systems, gather some number acumen and get your business ready to prosper?

The Eight-Step Solution

1.    Evaluate your company, it's background, your Vision & lifestyle goals and establish a powerful Action Plan to achieve those goals 

2.    Organise, update and fine-tune your accounting system so that you can trust the numbers generated and get reliable insights

3.    Cash is the company's lifeblood so prepare a Cash Flow Projection to ensure that you can fulfill any obligations and plans

4.    Prepare an analysis of your company's current financial position and profitability from past and current financial statements

5.    Identify opportunities for the future improvement of profit with Profit & Loss Projections

6.    Develop solutions & goals that enhance your business

7.    Implement your plan and train your team on the language of business and how their decisions impact the numbers

8.    Monitor your company’s results regularly with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and course correct if needed

You can work through these steps yourself. We will provide detailed information on each step every month or we can do this all for you with our solution called the CFO 90-Day Dash.

Climb out of chaos & confusion and into financial clarity in 90 days.


The CFO 90 DAY Finance Fix is an 8 step process where we work closely with you and/or your team to get your financial management system sorted to get you to a known position, we tell you exactly where you stand now and transform your numbers into knowledge. We then start thinking into the future and making projections.  With the knowledge we have of the business and it’s opportunities we can design what the future will look like with strategic 90 day projects that drives improved profits & cash flow.

To get intimate with your numbers, call us for a complimentary consultation.


‘Ally is great person to work with and her financial skills and knowledge has helped BDC develop its financial management arrangements from financial planning, monitoring and projecting through to the statement of accounts. She puts a lot of effort and time into assisting my office manage the income and expenditure accounts throughout the year giving solid quarterly advice, financial information and benchmarking for key performance factors that we agree which is invaluable in successfully running my business and projecting to the end of year statement of accounts.’

—Byron Davies OBE, Managing Director BDConsulting (UK) Ltd

If you would like the step-by-step guide to work through this yourself join our free F.A.B  (Finance and Business) Club for regular business tips.

Business Budgeting

Many businesses find that they have months when lots of cash comes in and others where the well is bone dry. Well how you manage your cash when it comes in can be an easy solution to this dilemma but it takes motivation to start and discipline to maintain.

The basic steps are:
Produce a 12-month budget ideally on a spreadsheet. This budget will consist of a sales forecast and an expenditure forecast.

You can base the SALES forecast on last year’s monthly results to identify trends, seasonal or otherwise.

Do a similar exercise with EXPENDITURE.

If this is your first year in business you have to give it your best guess and each year thereafter you can tweak the numbers based on experience.

The Profit First Principle

 

Build your budget using the Profit First Principle Usually we think of

SALES - EXPENSES = PROFIT
With this method we think of SALES - PROFIT = EXPENSES

This involves taking out your profit first before spending on overhead and your drawings/salary. This way you always make a profit from day one of using this method.

“When you base decisions on your best revenue month, you will run out of cash—quickly.”

Mike Michalowicz, Profit First: A Simple System To Transform Any Business From A Cash-Eating Monster To A Money-Making Machine

Ideal Cash Allocation for a healthy business that can see you through thick and thin

Set up five different sub business bank accounts if you bear to, if not try at least three to set aside cash for Taxes, Overheads/Operating Expenses and Profit.

For each deposit take out direct costs (like materials to ensure that you are achieving a gross profit). If you are VAT registered and transfer the VAT collected from your sales to the tax account this leaves REAL REVENUE that can go towards overheads.

Then ideally allocate funds as follows:

What makes a healthy business?

5% to the profit account
50% salary into your personal bank account - check your (PSI) Personal Survival Income =gure that you need to pay your personal bills and to take the occasional vacation
30% into the operating expenses account, pay business bills from this account
15% into the tax account to avoid penalties

If you are new in business you can build your budget based on this form day one. If it doesn’t fit keep cutting expenses until it does.

By putting aside these amounts whatever is left in the operating account is what you have to spend on the business, be frugal and try to get this to 30%. This can help you make decisions like shall I get a larger studio or office, does it keep me within the 30% no, then I am not ready.

You should have 5% in a profit account, which will fuctuate with the deposits this can help with lean months, buying equipment or just accumulating an emergency fund.

When you find that you have a surplus bring this over to the next month if there is a loss.
You have to be very disciplined and there are Profit First Hubs that can keep you accountable.

 

At the very least don’t spend all your money if you have a good month set aside some to cover slow periods.

Our aim is to make finance fun, if the money side of your business is driving you nuts, consider if you want a consultation on Finance Fun-De-Mentals

Developing a Business Plan as Your Roadmap to Success

Tip: Use a template and organise a folder with dividers for each section of the business plan.

Using a ring binder for your business plan is a great idea as it means that you can work on one section at a time and you can amend it to suit the fast changing environment of the fashion industry. The business plan is a live document and will change as further research is done and new ideas are developed. Ensure that the implications of each idea are taken through to the financial plan to test for viability. 

5 Elements of a Fashion Business Business Plan

5 Essential Elements of a Fashion Business Plan from the BOF:

A Business Plan helps you clarify your ideas and goals and can be as short or as long as you like.

  1.  Executive Summary or Pitch Page This comes first but is done last after all research and the other parts are complete as it summarises the whole plan.
  2.  Vision & Objectives -What market needs are you fulfilling and how are you unique?
  3. The Market and Your Competition - Who are your customers and competition? What is the opportunity for your business?
  4.  Implementation Plan - What detailed actions do you need to take to make your business work? What are the milestones?
  5. The Fashion Financial Plan - How will you be profitable? What funding do you need?

At Business Bright we can help you get clear on your fashion business idea and answer all the questions above, the result: A concise and flexible Business Plan to use as road map to your success.

 

Blog - Aim to Pay More Tax in 2016

Having to pay tax usually means that you have made a profit in your business. Many of my clients are overjoyed when I tell that they have No tax to pay. This mindset has always made me a little sad as it usually means they have worked hard in their business all year and made a loss. How are you going to achieve the life of your dreams by making a bloody loss? If no or no tax is a result of some savvy legitimate accounting that is great but otherwise, it's not GOOD news. 
Being in Jamaica I can see the benefits of tax in the UK. In Jamaica the average daily pay is about £5.50 PER DAY, imagine how little the government can collect in taxes per year. So it's no wonder that even the 'poor' have to pay for their children to go to school and purchase most of their own school books. These children go to school immaculate in their well ironed, starched and clean uniforms- God bless them!

 

Easy Steps to Creating a Viable Financial Plan

Creating a Comprehensive Financial Plan is Essential for the Success of your Business.

Start strong by listing your business set-up costs

Include:

Incorporation fees

Insurances

Office space/conversion

Improvements

Inventory/stock

Phone line & Internet

Advertising and marketing

Market research

Utility  

Equipment

Initial working capital - which is the flow of money needed during the working day to buy stock, pay wages and pay the bills etc. 

 Licences, permits and registration fees

Accounting fees (of course!)

Legal fees

This will tell you how much you really need to begin a business which is not faltering from the start.

Email ally@businessbright.co.uk for a complimentary financial planning template.

More Profit, More Cash, More Freedom Using Smart Business Money Habits

I have found that information is best given in small doses so here we will only be looking at the first three basic financial habits that every company must have in order to function effectively. Adopting these basic habits will enable you to extract useful information from your day-to-day accounting records and will help you make smarter financial decisions.

There is Confidence in Knowledge

There are 5 Stages and here is Stage Zero the launch of your financial skillset

The launch covers what a company should set up in terms of financial management but unfortunately many companies miss these fundamentals:

The primary objective in making money in business is PROFIT, which is the generation of more income than it costs.

That profit then has to be turned into cash that you can spend to better your opportunities and life. When your business is making money you can also give to others that have less than yourself if you choose to.

Developing systems and habits are important to scale your business, they save time by knowing what to do without having to rethink the whole process from scratch every time. 

   Habit 1: Set up a separate dedicated bank account for your business or even better have at least two business bank accounts; one to bank your income and pay operating expenses from and another to put some money aside for taxes or reinvestment into the business. Do not mix personal and business transactions, doing so will involve extra work when it comes to tax time when you have to separate the two and if you have an accountant they are likely to charge you more for messy accounts. During the year, it is difficult to track and understand your business results if your personal finances are mixed with your business transactions. Unfortunately, a Mulberry handbag is not usually a valid business expense - I have seen this type of expense in several business accounts!

   Habit 2: Establish a bookkeeping process to track and manage your finance with style and ease. Online accounting software such as Xero lets you know your financial position at any given time (as long as you keep it updated). Your income and expenditure headings (your chart of accounts) should be customisable so that they make sense to your business and are not the generic ones already set up in your accounts software. The monthly profit and loss and balance sheet that you or your accountant extracts should then be easier to understand and enable you to make better financial decisions.

   Habit 3: Reconcile all business bank accounts at least monthly or ensure that your bookkeeper is doing this. This process highlights any mistakes in the bookkeeping process, possible theft or bank errors. I have seen an incidence where a business paid a complete stranger’s pension contribution for over a year without realising it, this adversely affected this company's cash position by over £2,000. Upon notification the bank did refund the money but this type of error would have been detected in the first month if the bank accounts had been reconciled during the year.

If you need any help installing these habits or you want to know more about them please contact us at ally@businessbright.co.uk.