Top tips for writing a business plan

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If you’re thinking about setting up your own company or considering applying for funding for your business, getting your business plan right is crucial.

A business plan should provide an outline of your business, the market in which it will operate and how it aims to make money. We’ve identified some top tips to help you on your way:

  • Be concise: It’s really important that potential investors can understand what your business is all about from a quick glance at your plan. Remove any filler language and get to the point quickly.
  • Be specific: Being specific is just as important as being concise. The details will help you drill down into how you will actually deliver your plan.
  • Be realistic: You should be honest with yourself in your business plan, if you’ve got a strong idea, let it stand on its merit.
  • Know your market: A big part of knowing whether your business will be successful is understanding your market. This not only includes your customers, but your suppliers and competitors too!
  • Know your finances: Be very clear on how your business will make a profit If it isn’t going to make any money, it won’t be successful.
  • Use visuals: Whenever possible, and without overdoing it, use visuals in your business plan. Graphs, charts, and images can help bring your concept to life. Plus, it breaks up the text and helps a plan flow better.
  • Be creative: Include a creative element in your business plan so you stand out and grab someone’s attention. You can use templates, but don’t look identical to a template. Do something unique to make the plan yours.

For a free business plan template, visit The Prince’s Trust website, and for help on how to write your business plan, the Start Up Donut provide detailed information to guide you through the process.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

 

 

 

Bookkeeping Tips for Small Businesses

Businessperson Calculating Tax

If you own your own business or are considering such a move, keeping accurate records not only benefits you for tax compliance, but it could also benefit your business.

Keeping accurate records may:

  • Reduce your accountancy fees
  • make filling in your tax return more straightforward
  • help you with budgeting and cashflow
  • help your business grow with the help of a business loan
  • help ensure you receive the correct Tax Credits

What you need to record:
Records should show all the money coming in and going out of your business, whether it’s cash, cheque or credit card transactions. It’s important to keep your business records entirely separate from your personal records, so it’s recommended that you set up a separate business bank account.

For money coming in, the records you should keep include:

  • payslips
  • invoices
  • till rolls
  • bank statements

For money going out, keep a record of all:

  • receipts
  • purchase invoices
  • cheque stubs
  • motoring expenses
  • credit card statements

Cash books:
All small businesses rely on cash books to help keep track of their business income and outgoings. Cash books can either be paper-based or take the form of computer software such as Excel, Sage, Xero etc. Your accountant will be able to advise you on the most appropriate type of cash book for your specific business.

If you decide to keep your records on the computer, you’ll need to keep a copy of all relevant documents and be able to provide these to HMRC if necessary, especially P45’s, P60’s and any paperwork showing tax has been deducted.

  • Use a ‘petty cash book’ to record all minor business-related cash transactions, and write a short description of each one.
  • Use a ‘cash book’ to record transactions made through your bank account as well as any cash transactions. A cash book will have columns for income and expenses and a separate column for miscellaneous. You may find it helpful to use the same expenses headings as those used on HMRC’s tax return form. You should also include a “drawings” column for any money taken out of the business for personal use.

VAT:
If your turnover of VAT taxable goods or services exceeds the VAT threshold (currently £83,000) you must register for VAT and keep the following records:

  • VAT account: This is a record of VAT charged on sales and VAT paid on purchases, noted under the headings VAT payable and VAT deductible. The VAT account aligns your business records with your VAT return.
  • VAT invoices: These show the VAT you’ve charged and the VAT that has been charged to you.

If you feel like this is too much, or your time would be more valuable spent elsewhere, your accountant may offer a bookkeeping service that deals with this for you. Here at Green & Co our staff are trained on a number of different bookkeeping packages including Sage and Xero. If you would like to speak to one of team regarding this service, please contact us on 01633 871122.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

How did we survive without Google?

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Do you remember life before Google? Rushing to the dictionary to look up a word, pulling out your paper maps for directions or learning a new language just in order to decipher a foreign word.

Gone are the days of quizzing the office on ‘How do you spell this?’ or ‘What does this word mean?’. Google has the answer!

Generally searching on Google is pretty easy you just type what you are interested in finding, into the search box. Here are some useful hidden features of Google to enhance your search:

  1. Use “quotation” marks to search for words in an exact order.
    Vital for searching specific quotes or phrases.
  1. Google will fill the blanks when an asterisk (*) is used.
    Don’t remember the name of a song you heard? (Or phrase, news headline etc.) Fill in the blanks of any search with an asterisk (*) and Google will try to complete the search for you.
  1. Looking for a similar website
    Search for similar websites to the one you are currently viewing, by inserting ‘related:’ followed by the website address you are using.
  1. Use the minus sign (-) to exclude words.
    For example, you are looking for a cake recipe that doesn’t list “wheat” as an ingredient. Search ‘Cake recipe – wheat’.
  1. Search websites for keywords
    Search within a website by typing ‘Site;’ followed by the URL of the site and your search times.
  1. Compare foods by using ‘Vs’
    Can’t decide what food to have for lunch? Type in your choices E.g. ‘Rice vs. pasta’ to view a comparison of the nutritional facts about each option.
  1. Have Google do your maths
    Simply search your equation i.e. ‘50% of 2345’
  1. Do two Google searches at one time by adding ‘Or’ between the search terms 
  2. Set a timer
    Type’ set timer for’ into the Google search engine, along with the amount of time.
  1. Learn the meaning of words
    You can search for the origin behind words by adding ‘etymology’ to your search or entering ‘Define;’ will provide you with a dictionary definition, etymology and a graph of its use over time. Looking for a slang word or acronym – try ‘Define: bae’ or ‘Define: SMH’
  1. Search images using images
    Ever come across an image that looks familiar? If you save the image (or click and drag the image) and then search it on Google image you will be able to see similar images on the web.

Here are some fun additions in Google we also discovered :

  • Searching for the word ’tilt’ will actually tilt your search results at a slight angle.
  • Searching ‘Atari Breakdown’ into Google images will initiate a classic brick breaker game which you can play using the directional keys on your keyboard.
  • Typing ‘do a barrel roll’ into the search engine will command Google to spin your search results on and off the screen.
  • Type ‘Zerg rush’ into the search engine and watch the O’s from the Google logo attack your search results. Clicking onto the O’s really fast will allow you to stop them and make them disappear – can you beat the O’s before they take over your page?

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net