So, you’re thinking of scaling your home based business?
What steps would you need to take in scaling your home based business, and which challenges may lay ahead of you…
When you started your own home based business – had you planned for its growth, your personal capacity for production, storage, increased orders or increases in seasonal volume? The idea of starting your own home based business is appealing because it can give you flexibility, more time with your family, no horrid commute to work and so the perks seem awesome!
But what if your home based business becomes a steady growth success?
Without expanding into ready made business premises, you may find it a struggle due to the lack of space and resources as demand for your product or service increases. However, moving to a business premises is a big step – a giant leap if you will – and it will bring with it all kinds of associated increased costs and possibly additional complications. We work with business owners who have erected a log cabin in their garden to use as their working environment, which works well for some businesses. But for other business owners it can be a hefty initial expense.
At some point in the future, moving into business premises may be your only (and most sensible) option, but for now there are plenty of “steps to growth” solutions out there to ease the growing pains that your home based business may be experiencing.
First of all – consider outsourcing
Many owners of small and medium-sized businesses share their time (with family and) buried in administrative tasks. For example, issuing invoices, paying suppliers, completing paperwork, email responses and updating various databases. These administrative tasks are, of course, essential to running your home based business, but allocating large chunks of your time like this leaves you little time for more important strategic planning. And as your home based business continues to grow, this becomes increasingly challenging.
Great news! There are plenty of companies and virtual assistants available to help (for a fee). Maybe surprisingly you can achieve relatively low-cost assistance with online administrative tasks like customer relationship management, finance and marketing. Many Virtual Assistants (or VAs) also work from home and, in the main, communicate with you online, so they can provide an extra pair of hands without you needing to provide any additional desk space. In addition, Virtual Assistants offer flexibility – providing assistance on an ad hoc basis.
Or there’s shared workspaces
Why not explore the option of new flexible working spaces, which offer desk space or “hot desks” and additional resources without the long-term cost commitment of having your own business premises. Typically, the way it works is you pay a monthly membership fee and for that you gain access to a shared office with high-speed WiFi. There are usually meeting rooms available for you to book and printing facilities you can use for an additional charge and many of these facilities also run regular networking events, which can be an excellent way of promoting your business.
Shared Workspaces can also provide a human interaction that you may feel you miss when working from home on your own.
How about storage solutions to help with growth
Are you beginning to get overwhelmed with business stock or your home space is filling up with business-related bits, then a local storage unit could be an ideal “stepping stone”. Storage facilities normally offer flexible options, so you can pay by the week – or the month, and you can select a unit size that suits you, which you can add too with additional units or move to a larger unit. This option should be a much small cost than that of renting a business premises – and you’ll be able to finally free up your home-working space. A simple cost-effective way of scaling your home based business! TOP TIP: Check the insurance cover provided by the storage facility, as your own insurance for your stock is unlikely to cover items that are stored at third-party premises.
We worked with a client who ran a lighting design and distribution business from “premises” within a storage unit, so it is very possible to fully run your business from a storage unit.
Your “work-life” balance juggling act
When scaling your home based business, consider that working from your home can be amazing but it can also bring certain challenges when it comes to juggling your work/life balance. This is especially true when your business is experiencing a spurt of rapid growth. Many business owners find it difficult to justify taking any real time off, and you may find that juggling your work/life balance becomes increasingly challenging or the balance even becomes non-existent.
The best way of “solving” the work/life balance juggling act is to set boundaries – clear and solid boundaries. Keep space in your home that are non-work zones (the sofa and the dining table, for example) and don’t touch work when you’re spending time there even tasks that are achievable using a smartphone. Maintain the space where you do work at home by keeping it tidy, organised and clutter-free, so that you’re immediately in a work-ready mood when you get there and enabling you to stay as focused as possible.
Try to be strict about your timekeeping too! You won’t necessarily be the most productive from 9am to 5pm, but when allocating the hours you choose to work, keep some time free for doing other things – and force yourself to take regular breaks. Whilst working for yourself and from home can be immensely enjoyable and satisfying – remember to take time for a break as this is as important as ploughing through loads of work!
So there you have it, options for scaling your home based business in a nutshell. However, if you would like more information, guidance or assistance in planning for scaling your home based business, feel free to contact Maze Accountants as we have worked with many businesses who have started out from home to grow into decent sized businesses. We can share some of the steps and ideas that have helped when scaling your home based business.
Maze Accountants Are Celebrating 11 Years In Business Today!
WOW – WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?
Yes, we are Celebrating 11 Years In Business Today! It’s amazing to think that back in 2005, on the 11th November, a small accountancy practise was born. 11 Years later, we’re still going strong and loving it!
So what’s our success? Well I’ll be honest, we have won customers and lost customers over the years (as do many businesses) but where we strive to be different from other accountants is our ethos towards our customers and their business. We genuinely care about our clients and we genuinely care about their business. It’s simple and completely uncomplicated.
Are there any other keys to our success story? Well apart from keeping up to date with modern accounting processes and embracing new accounting technology, we build great relationships with our clients. We’re not the stereotypical dull and boring accountants that are often depicted in comedy sketches or television shows, we (meaning the team) actually have interesting personalities and without meaning to sound like a dating site – a good sense of humour too! On the other hand, whilst we have a sense of humour, we do take our work seriously – very seriously.
It is with this ability to build good, solid relationships, understand our clients’ business and their business needs – and to make savings for them wherever possible, that has enabled us to remain in business. We have a planned, steady growth program and we are very excited about the short term and long term future.
I won’t get into any political topics like Brexit or Trump winning the US Election but for us, on a small and local and local scale, we are excited about the future, so watch this space.
If you would like to join us for our next 11 years in business (and more…) feel free to contact us on 020 8643 9633. We look forward to being able to help you save money with regards to your accounts in the future.
Marketing Your Business is an important element of gaining new customers, reminding existing customers of your services – and highlighting services that you provide that your existing clients are not taking advantage of.
As accountants, we are assuming at this point that you have a marketing budget for your business. We are not the marketing department, we are the accounts department but the two are closely linked. So if you have a marketing budget for your business, how much should you allocate to marketing your business?
Obviously this differs according to the size of your business, because smaller businesses will not have a huge marketing budget and many small businesses will be attempting the “Do It Yourself” route of marketing, which means time over money. If a one man band tradesman – e.g. electrician, plumber, carpenter has a van and they pay for the van to be signwritten. That is a one off marketing cost. Whilst the purchase or lease of a van is quite a hefty expense, it does the advertising for you whilst you drive to your various jobs and being parked at the job site too. Ongoing costs would be reprints of business cards and letterheads for business stationery. Plus you may have membership subscriptions to various online directories e.g. Checkatrade, Rated People and so on.
However, these figures below suggest that more and more activity (and spend) is being done online.
In 2016, the average business was expected to allocate 30% of their marketing budget to online activities and this is expected to increase to 35% by 2019.
Search Engine Marketing will capture the largest share of online spend with online display (banner ads, online video, etc.) taking the second largest share.
Social Media investments will continue to grow as an overall share of online spend, but will only represent about 15% of the total online spend.
Mobile Marketing has grown to a point that it’s no longer tracked in the forecast and it’s presumed to be considered across all channels.
Many small businesses – or more specifically one person outfits – are struggling to keep on top of all of the everyday business tasks as well as marketing their business through online channels. Some are not active at all in the online space and whilst they recognise that they need to have a presence online, they may have only established a website but no activity on Social Media exists.
What we are finding, through helping our clients with their marketing budget for their business, is more and more of our clients are needing to outsource their online marketing in order to allow the business owner to run the business itself. This is a cost effective and independently effective method for marketing your business. It increases exposure for your business and if handled correctly engages existing clients, contacts and potential clients in online activity with marketing your business.
If you would like to know who we recommend for this service, feel free to contact us on 020 8643 9633.
From 30 June 2016, the Confirmation Statement replaces the Annual Return for businesses. But what does this mean and how does it affect you and your business?
How is the Confirmation Statement different from the Annual Return?
The confirmation statement is intended to deliver the same purpose as the annual return, which is for companies to provide up-to-date information for inclusion on the public register. However, one main difference is that rather than providing a snapshot of your company data at a specific date, you now only need to ‘check and confirm’ the information that is held is still accurate. This means that once a year you can review your details and advise if there have been any changes. A major difference is that in your first confirmation statement you will also need to include the information held regarding your people with significant control (PSC) register. You can find out more about PSC registers on the Companies House Blog.
What do you need to include in your Confirmation Statement?
To complete your first confirmation statement, you just need to check the information about your company is correct and fully up to date. If you need to update your shareholders’ info, change your company’s SIC code or amend the statement of capital, you can do this with your confirmation statement. For any other changes, eg a new registered office address, you’ll need to complete a separate form and submit it at the same time. Also, as mentioned above, you’ll need to include details of your PSC register.
Confirmation Statements will replace annual returns for both LLPs and companies. LLPs (or companies for that matter) will never have to file both an annual return and a confirmation statement for the same period. The way this works is that if your next annual return is made up to 30 June 2016 or later then you will need to file a confirmation statement for that period instead.
Company directors, company secretaries and designated LLP members are legally responsible for ensuring a confirmation statement is delivered to Companies House, either online or by post, each year. It must reach Companies House no later than 14 days after the confirmation date.
Failure to file a confirmation statement is a criminal offence and can have serious consequences. The registrar may take steps to strike the company or LLP from the register. Company officers may also face personal prosecution for failing to maintain their legal duties.
I came across this article about the 14 Habits of Highly Successful People online and thought it was worth sharing as many people strive for success in their business life and in their personal life. However, striving for success does take work and dedication and it also takes personal development. You may need your own mentor or coach, you may need to educate yourself by reading books, online articles and white papers. Surround yourself with other successful and like minded people either through physical networking or online through social media channels. Copy the most successful person in your area, observe what they do and emulate for your own purposes – stance, wording/tone, expression and choices. Anyway, on to the article itself of the 14 Habits of Highly Successful People.
THE 14 HABITS OF HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE ARE:
1. Sacrificing Important Things
In the end, we all only have 24 hours in a day. To reach success you have to sacrifice spending time on important things to be able to have more time to spend on the things that really matter. Check every week what you can give up to gain something better.
2. Believing What You Want Instead Of What Others Tell You
Most beliefs people hold are not based on fact and are not true whatsoever. Get into the habit of believing that which empowers you and makes you feel amazing instead of the things that others tell you to believe. If it is not certain what is real, believe the thing that makes you feel better.
3. Getting Motivated
Motivation is an emotion that doesn’t last, but that is of enormous help. Find things that motivate you every day.
4. Thinking Less
Thought usually hinders us in our actions. When we think about things to do we tend to think about ways it can go wrong or reasons why we shouldn’t do something. Stop thinking and start doing.
5. Going To Bed Early
To be at the top of your game you need enough sleep. Yes, successful people get up somewhere between 4 and 6 in the morning, but they can only do that because they go to bed between 9 and 11 in the evening.
6. Keeping Track Of Your Progress
Even though you may believe that you know, unless you can actually see the evidence in front of you, you will never know for sure. Know exactly how you spend your time and how you are doing in your habits. If you are really motivated: Graph it!
7. Having A Clean Space
Keep your apartment, room, and/or house clean. Leave as little clutter as you can, and always take care of the mess right away. Anything that aids your motivation and makes you feel great is worth doing.
8. Speak Positively About Your Future
Say things as if they already happened, or as if there is no way they will not happen. If you believe it is a fact that you will get an amazing life, you will act accordingly and receive it.
Thank as many things and people as you can. Most successful people come from a place where they had absolutely nothing, which is why they are grateful about every little thing that they have. This makes even the most simple things special and amazing.
10. Doing It All
Whenever you see tips online, or hear about some great strategies, do them all. You can never have enough of a good thing when it comes to reaching success.
11. Never Giving Up On What Matters
If you want something, find a way to get it. Not because you necessarily want that thing that bad, but instead because you absolutely have to prove to yourself that you can get whatever you set your mind to.
12. Doing What You Said You Would No Matter What
Success comes from not giving up halfway through. Everyone is on the way to be successful in what they do, but only one per cent of all people actually see it through. Do what you said you would. No matter what.
13. Spending More Money On Yourself
Not on beauty products, clothes or video games, but instead on gathering information, finding connections and learning more through books. Spend money on the only thing that lasts: Yourself.
14. Stop Caring
Not only about the people around you, but also about whether or not you will accomplish your goal. The less you care about it, the less stress you will experience when you work, which will make your work more fun and you will get to success much faster than you thought you could. Stop chasing it and you will get it.
So these are the 14 habits of highly successful people. You may choose to follow them or you may have another source of success habits to follow. You may also wish to interpret the 14 habits of highly successful people in your own way, or adjust them slightly to your own lifestyle. These habits have been compiled as a commonality between successful people. If you adjust them to your own lifestyle, they may not deliver the same results, however, you should still achieve success if you work hard and achieve your goals.
Rob says: “When I first started my own business back in 2004, one of the first tasks that I should have done is searching for an accountant. Why? Because having the right accountant on board from the start can help you structure your business in the most effective and cost efficient way.
I learnt the hard way and set my business up first … and then realised that I would need an accountant. That cost me dearly because I hadn’t structured my business in my favour! Lesson learnt!!”
So, if you should choose an accountant first, how can you find the right accountant for your business? What do you look for when searching for an accountant?
Did you know that anyone can call themselves an accountant? It isn’t necessary to have accountancy qualifications or any experience, so anyone, anywhere could wake up and decide “Today, I shall be an accountant!“. With that said, many people look for an accountant based on recommendation or a local search on the internet, because it’s clearly easier to have a local accountant (or even a recommended accountant) than have someone too far away… isn’t it? Just because the accountant has been recommended (John down the pub says his mate is a good accountant), does not mean that they are a good accountant or that they suit your business requirements.
John down the pub says his mate is a good accountant
1. Choose an accountant before you start your business
Choosing the right accountant before you start your business is beneficial when structuring your business plan. So first of all, it is wise to check to see if your potential choice for accountant has qualified through one of the accountancy bodies, such as: the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. If your accountant has qualified through one of these bodies, you are in safe hands as they hold their members to account, so in the event of any bad practice, you have protection if things go wrong. And if you’re looking for assistance with your personal accounts, don’t leave it until the last minute – give yourself (and your accountant) plenty of time to iron out any issues before submission.
2. The right accountancy partnership
Does the accountant meet your business needs? For example, if you are a small start up and need a lot of assistance or hand holding, don’t engage an accountant or practice that mainly deal with larger organisations. See if you can put together a list of what you’re looking for and then match the accountant that ticks the most boxes.
3. The fee structure – how much will it cost to have the right accountant?
The accountancy fee structure can depend on the type of accountant. Look at how much they charge, do they offer fixed fees? Should they be an “old school” type of accountant, you will more likely be charged on an hourly rate basis. We suggest a fixed fee option, so that you know what you’re getting and how much it is going to cost. No surprises when the bill arrives at the end of the year. We offer our clients (and recommend) a Standing Order for the fixed fees as a standard business cost.
4. Your relationship with the accountant and the team.
Your accountant will be advising you on various business decisions and therefore you need to be able to trust them to take their advice on board and you should feel comfortable to be completely open about your finances. If you don’t have that feeling with the accountant or his team, maybe you should be searching for an accountant elsewhere. Choose the team that you “click” with – follow your instinct. How much or how little are they going to work with you? If they are only interested in preparing your annual accounts and tax returns, then maybe you should look for an accountant elsewhere, who is prepared to meet your business requirements. The relationship and contact with your accountant (and team) should be regular, and they should be more than willing to meet you at your premises – even if that means unsociable hours but mutually convenient.
5. Back Up – not data but personnel
If your preference is a small accountancy practice, you will need to find out what back up they have in place. For example, should a technical accounting query rear its head and the accountant needs to escalate, what support do they have, where can they go for further information or advice. If they are unable to answer this, you should be searching for an accountant elsewhere.
6. Teamwork – does the team work?
In many cases, you do not want the accountant to be doing all the day to day work as this should be done by the support team. As part of point 4, you need to be able to have a relationship with the personnel who will be delivering the administrative work on your accounts. It is always a good place to be when you are able to speak to the individual who knows about the detailed numbers of your business.
In conclusion, when searching for an accountant, think about this task before you start your business. Choose the right accountant that matches your business requirements, for the right fee structure and with an open and trustworthy two way relationship. For growth purposes, when you are searching for an accountant, check to see what upward support they have in place and ask if you can meet with members of the administrative support team.