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Legalities your startup needs to take into consideration

Business People Having a Meeting in the Board Room

Thinking of launching a startup? As well as having an innovative idea, a strategic plan and the willpower to turn your aspirations into reality, you need to take a whole host of legal issues into consideration when establishing your company. From employment law to your business structure, read on to find out about the legalities you need to be thinking about.

  1. Complying with employment law

If you are planning to hire employees, then being compliant with employment law is imperative. Fall foul of the relevant legislation and you could face lengthy and costly tribunals, with the average tribunal costing a business £8,500. This is without even mentioning the potential upheaval and effort of replacing unhappy staff and the damage to your reputation that this could cause.

Employment law is very complex, however, and there are many different rights that employees are entitled to, like privacy and protection from unfair dismissal. You should consider consulting a lawyer when it comes to tasks like drawing up employment contracts, though much of the onus will be on you to ensure that your startup is compliant with employment laws. For instance, issues like holiday entitlement and health and safety are very much in your domain. To help safeguard your small business, you should make sure you keep up to date with and fully understand the latest legislation surrounding employment.

  1. Protecting your intellectual property

Safeguarding your intellectual property (IP) is a crucial legal consideration in the early stages of your startup. There are a number of different IP rights that you may need to protect, depending on what type of business you are running. Most startups usually need to apply for copyright and trademark rights, with the former ensuring others cannot copy your works of authorship, like business plans, and the latter typically used to ensure others cannot use your business logo. Some startups will also need to apply for patents to protect inventions, and register design rights for any products they have invented.

In order to register your IP, you will first need to conduct a search to ensure that something very similar or identical has not already been registered by somebody else. When this has been cleared, you’ll need to apply to the Intellectual Property Office to register your own IP. This process can be time consuming and difficult, so it is worth enlisting a company to help register a patent, copyright, a design or a trademark on your behalf. This can cut your administration time and enable you to streamline your workflow.

  1. Deciding on a legal structure

 You also need to think long and hard about what type of legal structure you want your business to employ. Unless you want to raise substantial funds on the stock exchange within a set period, it is inadvisable to start as a public limited company. You therefore have a four way choice between being a sole trader, a partnership, a limited company or a limited liability partnership (LLP). What is right for you depends on what type of business you are, and each have their own advantages and drawbacks.

If your startup is low budget and you are not planning to employ anyone then your best bet may be to launch your venture as a sole trader (you can still have employees in this structure). The advantages of being a sole trader are that there is little red tape and minimal set up costs. However, the law will see the business and its owner as the same entity, so any business debt can be met from your own wealth if the startup fails. In addition, you could end up paying hefty tax figures if your business starts to grow significantly, as profits are taxed as income; you will pay 40% tax as soon as you earn above £41,865 and 45% above £150,000. Another option is to become a partnership, a structure that is often used when two individuals want to launch a venture together. In this structure, you’ll again be responsible for any debt incurred by the business, and profit will again be taxed as income.

If you really want to make your venture sound credible, it could be worth incorporating as a limited company at the Companies House. This will also make it simpler to borrow money, and as a limited company is a separate legal entity from its directors, the business—not you—will take on any debts if it goes under. The tax regime is also more favourable to limited companies than to a sole trader, as company directors are taxed as employees, just like others who work for the business. Finally, you could incorporate as an LLP. This is almost a hybrid of limited liability companies and partnerships, and must have at least two ‘designated members’. Just like a limited company, a LLP model limits the liability of members, but profit will also be taxed as income.

While there a quite a few hoops to jump through, ensuring you comply with these legalities will help increase the chances of the success of your venture.

Are You Preparing for Global Growth?

With the British Chambers of Commerce raising the GDP forecast for 2018 from 1.1% to 1.4%, things are looking positive for many SMEs. A poll of 500 SMEs from Wesleyan Bank shows that 65% anticipate achieving growth of up to 40% over the next two years with only 11% stating they were concerned about the potential impact of Brexit.

In fact, many businesses are reportedly looking overseas markets to fuel growth. Separate research from CitySprint (referenced here) reports that 1.3 million UK SMES plan to fuel growth with overseas business over the next year, that represents one quarter of SMEs with overseas growth on their agenda. Are you preparing for global growth?

Digitisation

The fact more elements of trade transactions are moving online provides a huge opportunity for businesses to save on the costs of overseas sales, whether you plan to sell directly to overseas customers from a website or not. As we move aspects of trading online, many tasks become quicker, cheaper and easier to perform. A 2017 ICC Banking Commission report estimated that eliminating paper from trade transactions could reduce the cost of trading compliance by 30 per cent, along with benefits such as faster processing. Are you ready to take advantage? Is your company set up for digital trading and do you have the skills in your midst to handle it? Do you have the technology in place to make trading overseas easier? If you’d like to sell direct to customers overseas but don’t have a website, could you test the market by selling on worldwide platforms such as Etsy, Amazon and eBay first?

Market Research

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to target next. Putting a strategy in place for export rollout is fundamental for success and it does take research and planning. You’ll find some great tools on the government website www.great.gov.uk including tools for creating an exporter profile, searching out suitable online marketplaces and tips for ensuring you’re ready to meet the demand and expectations of overseas trading. You can also explore markets and build relationships with potential customers by attending trade shows and you may be able to access government grants in able to do this. For smaller businesses it can seem like a big leap to start trading outside of your home country, but having the market research, costing and business plans in place to help you take that leap will give you more confidence and a far better chance of success.

Funding Success

As your business grows, it’s likely you may need new talent, premises, materials, and maybe even equipment in order to help meet demand and successfully secure contracts. Unfortunately, business loans can still be hard to come by in the UK, even with a solid business and exporting model in place. SMEs are increasingly looking to alternative finance to bridge the gap and ensure they don’t miss out on taking their goods and services into the global marketplace.

According to UK Finance, the number of SMEs using invoice finance services to fuel export goals is increasing. If you’ve not considered this financing method before, it can be a useful tool for maintaining consistent cash flow or advancing much needed investment funds. So, how does it work? Invoice discounting firms advance you an agreed percentage based on upcoming invoices, releasing the funds to you before your client pays so that you are able to use the money when you need it. Providing you have a healthy sales ledger, you can use your current sales to help you reach new markets.

Another alternative is to seek investment funding. If you’d like some extra support in taking your product to new markets, you could consider looking for an angel investor with significant export experience. This way, you could benefit from the voice of experience in guiding your next steps and developing your export plan along with accessing additional funds to put them into action. You may also gain access to useful contacts and suppliers. However, you’ll need to be willing to accept criticism and listen to others in order for such a relationship to work, which can be tricky when you’ve grown your business alone up to this point.

If you’ve been bracing yourself for the impact of Brexit and are now daring to dream that the coming months could actually present more outside trade opportunities for your business, don’t waste time in taking your next steps. Where will your goods and services go next?

Making a Case for Automated Data Governance

Ben Douglass, Global Marketing Director of data management automation company ZAP, discusses why a sound automated data governance process is at the heart of corporate best practice, customer trust and ultimately, compliance.

Data is the lifeblood of enterprise level businesses. Every organisation generates vast amounts of data relating to their processes and clients, but too few have built an efficient way of managing that data so that it remains accurate, consistent and secure. Enter automated data governance.

Today, a vast number of enterprises have their data tied up in disparate systems which require manual management procedures. From spreadsheets and content management systems through to databases and data warehouses – how can you manage your data to ensure it’s not

only compliant, but also so it’s an accessible asset that can support you in making business decisions?

Without Automated Data Governance in place, organisations run a number of risks when it comes to managing, handling and storing their data. In our experience, there are three key signs that your manual data governance process is falling short of what’s needed:

#1 Slow time to insight

Unmanageable data landscapes are all too common. In many businesses, data governance technology equals Excel spreadsheets, Sharepoint, Wikis and Word files which outline a framework or policies, business rules and assets, all designed to manage and enable the use of data.

The problem… with all this information sitting in different pockets among different departments, insights are held in silos and are difficult for the right people to access at the right time.

Metadata, for example, is data about data. It can guide data scientists to the information they need quickly and efficiently. Manual management of metadata can be an extremely lengthy process and can result in error. Further down the line, this manual process slows down time to insight, as the data scientists take longer to find the data they require due to poor metadata standards.

With automated data management, the manual labour and chance of error is removed from the process, meaning data scientists can quickly access the information they need.

#2 Poor data quality

With businesses now seeing the benefits of leveraging their data to gain insight and build confidence in business decisions, data quality has become evermore important. If data is used for calculations and decision making, it needs to be right.

Manual error detection for data governance would involve spreadsheets and other data sources being routinely scanned for errors, omissions, faulty formulas and any other issues that might compromise data integrity. Automated data governance, however, would allow you to detect and resolve errors that managed to evade manual detection – reducing the chances of operational or strategic errors. 

#3 Access control 

To ensure the integrity of their data, enterprises must enforce access controls for all critical data sources. This includes spreadsheets, databases, data warehouses and other business systems.

In businesses where there is a lack of governance procedure, business data could be passed into BI tools and could, therefore, be accessible to everyone. This creates the risk that someone might publish data that is intended to be secure, or that a user may access sensitive data that they shouldn’t have access to.

Data governance is in place to establish who has access to what level of data, what permissions should be in place, and what changes have been made to the data and by whom.

Automated data governance ensures the integrity of data by:

  • Protecting from unauthorised data access and breaches
  • Supporting regulatory compliance
  • Protecting data from tampering

Automating data governance for insight

With enterprises leaning toward more global business models and becoming more complex, it’s essential that there are automated controls in place which will aid the discovery, management, error-checking and monitoring of any data which is used to support the day-to-day business runnings and strategic decision making.

A sound data governance policy and automated data governance delivers that solution, enabling enterprises to be confident that the data they are acting on daily is complete, accurate, and secure.

Finance concerns when starting a new career

Change is difficult for many people, and fear of the unknown is often worse than any likely outcomes in your future. However, starting a new career can be rocky territory when it comes to financial security.

Launching your career or pivoting to a different specialisation or sector is inherently risky. The job might not be a good fit for your skills or personality. The employer might not be trustworthy or clear about their expectations. There might be problems with working with existing staff members, or misunderstandings regarding benefits, terms or compensation.

The UK economy is facing higher unemployment and weak growth, raising the stakes for any job changes across the board. You may choose to leave traditional employment due to a lack of opportunity or a different vision for the future, and start up your own company or set off as an independent freelancer.

Self-employment, whether you’re launching a new venture with an eye toward growth, or simply working independently, comes with its own set of risks and rewards. On the one hand, long-term compensation for business owners offers dramatically better earnings than any other employed role in an established company. As owner-founder, you benefit from the gains that your business makes, and your own hard work directly contributes to your success.

On the other hand, working independently means that you carry all the responsibility and risk. You have to consider how you will pay for benefits, insurance, taxes and all other overhead costs. You don’t get paid if you can’t collect from clients; no one guarantees your salary. However, you do have much greater control over the terms, schedule, location and nature of your work. That freedom and flexibility is worth something, and opens up new opportunities such as relocating to less expensive areas and cutting costs.

As an independent freelancer or contractor, working with an umbrella company can help to resolve many of these finance concerns. You still have to go out and win contracts, but you can arrange protection against client non-payment and have professional assistance with paperwork, insurance and legal documentation, taxes and other administrative tasks that are necessary but eat up your time and energy.

The finance concerns of starting a new career can be mitigated by saving up and preparing well before making a change so that you have a financial buffer should things not go well. Researching the change ahead of time, networking with others who have made similar changes, and having a contingency plan can also help. Some professionals have a side gig or balance traditional employment with freelancing in order to give themselves extra security against a downturn or unexpected barrier in either realm.

Don’t let fear hold you back from starting a new career. Strengthen your financial position, research, and use relationships and specialists to help mitigate risk and help you succeed.

Important Tax Tips for Charities

Charities have to deal with tax in a range of ways: claiming Gift Aid, handling VAT, paying tax on commercial income and managing PAYE and expenses. Taking care of all your obligations can be a highly complex business and often needs professional advice and assistance. To help, we have provided some useful tips that look at the main areas of taxation that charities need to deal with.

Managing Gift Aid

Gift Aid, whereby tax can be reclaimed on donations, is a vital source of funding for charities and can increase income by a very generous 25%. However, claiming Gift Aid can be quite complex. There are some forms of donation that do not qualify for Gift Aid, such as those from limited companies or made through Payroll Giving, and there are special rules for other forms of donation, like sponsored challenges, church collections or charity auctions. It is important, therefore, to seek advice about Gift Aid before you start to ask for it.

There are other important things to consider, too. You need to make sure that your Gift Aid forms comply with HMRC guidance and that every donor who is listed has completed a declaration. The declarations need to be kept safe, too, as you may be required to pay back any Gift Aid if they cannot be found.

Charities can now claim Gift Aid on some donations without the need for a declaration. The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS) is for cash or contactless card donations up to a maximum of £20. Again, there are special rules which apply and there is a maximum claim of £2,000 in a tax year.

Handling VAT

VAT can be complicated for most organisations, but even more so for charities. Depending upon the nature and size of your income, you may not be able to register for VAT which means you will not be able to claim back the VAT you pay. If you are registered, there are complexities around which activities you can and cannot charge VAT for. This status of being partially exempt can make handling VAT a challenge.

You will need to ensure that your different sources of income are applying the correct VAT treatment as some are subject to VAT whilst others are not. For example, if someone donates a piece of furniture, you do not need to charge VAT if you sell it on as a second-hand item.  However, if you upcycle it by turning it into something else, then it is liable for VAT.

There are other conditions regarding VAT that you should also seek advice about as you don’t want to make errors that can turn out to be costly.

Guidance on trading

Charities are allowed to trade in order to pursue their charitable aims, however, there are some restrictions when this is done to generate funds. Most importantly, they cannot engage in commercial trading that puts their assets at ‘significant risk’. When there is a significant risk, a charity must create a trading subsidiary through which to undertake their commercial operations. This way, if the trading subsidiary fails as a commercial venture, the assets of the charity are secure, provided it does not owe any money to the subsidiary or has given guarantees for any borrowing.

Setting up a subsidiary trading arm can have tax benefits. It can, for example, make Gift Aid donations to the parent charity and in doing so, lower or even negate any of its own profits which would be liable for tax. At the same time, accounting becomes easier when the trading and main charity’s finances are kept distinct of each other.

Administering payroll and expenses

Managing payroll can be both complex and time-consuming and often the easiest solution is to outsource it to an accountancy company with charity experience. However, even if you do, there are still a number of things you need to consider.

Firstly, you need to ensure that any payments given to employees which have not been processed through payroll are not liable for tax. In addition, if you have personnel who are hired as self-employed contractors but actually work for you more or less full-time, their employment status, as far as HMRC is concerned, may be that of an employee. If this is the case, you will be required to collect tax and National Insurance contributions. It is always best to check with HMRC about the status of your self-employed workers.

With regards to paying expenses, there are differences in how these are handled for employees and volunteers. Some employee expenses are liable for tax whereas volunteers are entitled to tax-free reimbursements of their out of pocket expenses, including the costs for travel between their home and the charity as well as for postage and telephone calls.

Summing up

As you can see from this article, dealing with tax is anything but straightforward for charities. In every area, there are various special rules and exemptions which need to be taken into account and if these are not handled correctly, they can cause problems with HMRC and impact upon your finances.

Hopefully, the information provided here will give you a better understanding of how to manage your tax responsibilities, however, if you need more advice from a company that understands the legal and accounting framework for charities, get in touch or visit our charity services page.

Elements to consider when organising an important corporate event

The events that your organisation holds can be a ‘make or break’ factor in its corporate success. Seminars, meetings, team-building weekends, corporate retreats and fashion shows are just some of the most popular corporate events, and every aspect of yours needs to be just right if you are to make the right impression on everyone who attends.

However, a successful corporate event that does much to cultivate new business does not happen by accident. It occurs as a consequence of savvy and well-considered planning. With this end in mind, here are just a few of the factors that you should think about when organising an event.

Why are you holding this event at all?

You should not be organising a corporate event simply because it ‘feels like it’s time we had another one’. If there is any vagueness about your event’s purpose, you will only attract a small number of stragglers, instead of the members of your core audience who will be instrumental in determining whether the event is a worthwhile use of your time and funds.

Every aspect of your event planning – from the choice of venue and caterers, right through to any entertainment and activities – should dovetail with a purpose stated clearly from the start.

Who are you aiming the event at?

Attempting to make your event appealing to as broad an audience as possible can be counter-productive, not least because it will force you to assemble a programme of activities on the day that does not even adequately cover any single attendee’s specific needs.

Yes, it is gratifying to be able to attract a long list of guests for your event. But you need to formulate a clear vision as to who the audience is for your event, and what value they – and you – will gain from it. This will enable you to tailor the event to even the most niche expectations.

Which venue ticks all of the practical and emotional boxes?

It is understandable that you will probably wish to select a venue that catches the eye, excites the senses and fires the imaginations of your attendees. After all, your choice of venue will say something – however unwittingly – about your brand and its values.

It’s therefore no surprise that so many organisations are enticed by the notion of hiring a chateau for corporate event days – and nor does your search for the ideal corporate events venue have to come down to a ‘head vs heart’ decision.

Our very own Château Bouffémont in France, for example, exudes all of the refinement and elegance that you would expect from a noble stone-built residence.

With its stunning crystal chandeliers and opulent decor on the inside and spectacular manicured French gardens on the outside, this chateau in the Montmorency Forest consistently captures hearts. However, it is also excellently equipped for corporate event days and is even well-connected, being situated just 30 kilometres from central Paris and 20 minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Careful consideration, research and planning are vital if you are to derive the maximum value from your firm’s next corporate event. That’s why you may also be interested in consulting the Taylor Lynn Corporation’s advice on what else your firm needs to think about when organising a corporate event.

Six Common Mistakes Landlords Make

Residential Tenancy agreement with pen and glasses on desk

Interested in becoming a landlord? From small units to large homes, renting out real estate you own can produce a steady flow of regular income, helping you generating income and develop wealth over the long term.

While being a landlord can be extremely rewarding, it can also be a major challenge, especially as a first-timer. From investment errors to practical oversights, landlords of all types can make a range of common mistakes.

Below, we’ve listed six of the most common mistakes landlords make, as well as tips to help you avoid making these errors if you opt to rent out your residential property.

  1. Not checking a tenant’s background

If your property has been sitting unoccupied for several months, it can be tempting to accept the first offer you receive from a potential tenant.

The problem with this approach is that you could end up renting your home to someone without a high enough income to pay the rent, or to someone with a lengthy history of late payments or bad renter behaviour.

Before you consider renting to anyone, make sure they have the necessary credit history and income to pay the rent. If you think it’s necessary, you can also pay for a background check to make sure your property is inhabited by a responsible, low-risk tenant.

  1. Neglecting to carry out repairs and maintenance

From cleaning the carpet to double-checking that the plumbing works as it should, it’s important to carry out regular maintenance between tenants.

In fact, failing to carry out regular repairs and maintenance is one of the most common mistakes new landlords make. On average, landlords in the UK spend between £200 and £1,000 per year on maintenance. If you spend less than this, you may not be maintaining your property properly.

It’s important to remember that avoiding cheap, minor repairs in the short term can often leave you with larger bills in the long term — a situation that any ROI-focused landlord should want to avoid.

  1. Assuming your property will always be occupied

If you’re planning to rent a property you’re purchasing with a mortgage, it’s essential to take a realistic approach to occupancy.

Unless your property is significantly underpriced (a major problem in itself), it will never always be rented. From a few weeks to a few months, there will be timed in between tenancies in which the property is vacant, meaning you won’t receive any rental income.

By planning ahead for empty, no-income periods, you’ll get a more realistic understanding of how profitable it is to be a landlord. This approach will also help you avoid using a mortgage that’s unaffordable — a common situation for first-time residential landlords.

  1. Not taking out appliance insurance

Are you renting out a fully or partially furnished flat, home or apartment? If so, it’s important to take steps to protect your investment, particularly the cash that you spend on appliances and furniture.

From TVs to home gaming consoles, many home appliances can be covered using a gadget insurance policy. If you’ve furnished your rental property with expensive, high quality furniture, it’s also worth looking into an insurance policy to protect it from wear, tear and damage.

  1. Not being available for the tenant

From time to time, your tenant (or tenants) could run into problems with your property, ranging from mail that’s addresses to you (or to a previous tenant) to questions related to the property that only you can answer.

If you’re difficult to contact, this can create a stressful experience for your tenants, as well as leaving you out of the loop on what’s going on in your property.

To make life easy for your tenants and stay on top of the status of your rental property, make sure your tenants can easily contact you over the phone or by email. Usually, a phone call is more than enough to solve most problems and keep you fully in the loop.

  1. Failing to insure your boiler and central heating

For a tenant, nothing is more frustrating than a rental property with a boiler that just doesn’t work properly. For a landlord, nothing is more frustrating than a damaged boiler, especially if it breaks in the middle of winter.

Boiler repairs can be quite expensive for you as a landlord. They can also be very inconvenient, with repairs often requiring an alternative heating system or form of accommodation for tenants.

One way to avoid the stress, frustration and cost of boiler problems is to buy boiler insurance for your rental properties. This way, you’ll be covered for the cost of repairs to your boiler or central heating system, if anything were to ever go wrong.

How Has Plevin Affected PPI Claims?

The payment protection insurance scandal has had an immense impact on the banks, as their total repayments to customers hit the £30 billion mark in January. The total figure repaid to consumers is likely to reach £40 billion before the PPI deadline in August 2019.

Lloyds Banking Group is the biggest culprit of mis-sold PPI. Its total payout is over £18 billion. But, other banks and lenders have certainly not come away unscathed. Building societies and shops offering store cards were also mis-selling the insurance to hundreds of thousands of customers. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has set 29th August 2019 as the deadline for all PPI claims to be made with the appropriate bank or lender. This is to draw a line under the mis-selling scandal and encourage people to make a claim if they’ve been putting it off.

The FCA has even hired Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the face of the campaign. His recognisable voice is used with a robotic head in an advertising campaign, which is telling people about the deadline and asking them to make a decision about claiming PPI. Over 1.5 million people made a claim in the latter half of 2017. This is the highest number in four years, demonstrating that Arnie’s demands to “do it now!” is making an impact.

PPI was frequently mis-sold with credit cards, mortgages and loans, but it’s not unheard of for a PPI claim against an overdraft or car insurance, either. Bank employees were pressured into selling the insurance to consumers. In the worst case scenario, signatures were forged.

With the deadline looming, customers are being urged to act as soon as possible. Until the 2019 deadline, the banks will be busy responding to PPI claims, so the sooner you start, the sooner you will receive your money.

What is Plevin?

To add further pressure on the banks, the Plevin rule means even more people can now make a claim.

Plevin refers to Mrs Susan Plevin, who claimed PPI against Paragon Personal Finance. During the case, it was discovered that 71% of the PPI sale was a commission. The court ruled that this was a form of mis-selling and Mrs Plevin won her PPI case.

The ruling in this case opened up even more opportunities for people to claim PPI. For all future claims under Plevin, if over 50% of the PPI sale was a commission, this is classed as a form of mis-selling. Theoretically, even if a consumer was aware they had PPI, they might not have been aware of the high percentage of commission. Many more people have already made successful Plevin claims.

How Do Customers make a Plevin PPI Claim?

If a PPI claim has already been sent and upheld by the bank, consumers can’t make another claim under Plevin. But, if a claim has been rejected, consumers are able to try again under Plevin. Many banks had 67% commission on PPI sales and this was not disclosed to the customer. As such, thousands of more people are eligible to make a claim.

This means banks are facing even more claims and shelling out more money for those under the Plevin rule. If consumers want to estimate how much they could receive from a PPI claim, a PPI claims calculator can offer an approximate figure.

If you want to claim PPI because you believe that it was mis-sold to you under Plevin, do so now before the rush in 2019. Contacting the bank or lender directly is an option, but many successful claimants have opted for the hassle-free system of using a reputable PPI claims company, enrolling the help of dedicated financial experts to lead their case.

Top tips for launching a successful start-up

How to get your start-up off the ground

Launching a start-up is fraught with pitfalls – so many, in fact, that it’s unwise to experience them all for yourself. Luckily, there are plenty of people out there willing to offer advice, but how do you know where to start? Here, we outline five ways to ensure you get your start-up off the ground successfully.

  1. Have a plan

By which, we don’t mean, have an idea in your head of how it’s all going to work out, but actually sit down and write a plan. Write a description of your objectives and company values, set out what you plan to achieve in the first three to five years, and outline how you’ll get there. Next, forecast the first few years’ figures to give you an idea of what size loan you’re looking at. Finally, write a summary of the market and its demand, and detail how your offering will meet it.

  1. Get the money

The business plan is your ticket to obtaining the funding you need to get started. Without it, it’ll be hard to convince loan providers and investors that your idea is not only great, but also commercially viable. Investigate and pitch to a number of sources to secure investment and – perhaps most importantly – don’t blow it on fancy computers and a state-of-the-art office. You’ll need to make the money last until you’re seeing the returns.

  1. Define your brand

It’d be unwise to start marketing your business before you’ve got your branding down. It’s not just a case of getting a logo and a registered name; you’ll need to outline your company’s core values, decide on a suitable style and tone of voice for content, invest in uniforms if necessary, and define colour palettes. Once you have a cohesive brand, it’s time to get out there.

  1. Get out there

Which leads us nicely onto the next point – getting recognition. You can do this is a variety of ways, from attending conferences and trade shows, delivering flyers, advertising in the local press and engaging in social media. However you choose to market your offering though, make sure it’s via the channels that your target market engages with. Otherwise you’re just wasting money.

  1. Serve your customers

No successful business would be where it is today without a strong customer base. Aim to build repeat business by offering the very best service you can, consistently and on every single interaction. Whether you’re making a sale or dealing with a complaint, you should afford your customers the same level of courtesy and friendliness, and work hard to build their trust. It’s the only way to keep them coming back and – even better – advocating your brand.

A little help

If you’d like some help with the financial aspects of starting your business, speak to a specialist such as THP Chartered Accountants. With extensive experience in helping start-ups get going, professional accountants are well-placed to offer advice.

Working with a financial advisory service can help a business

It can be tempting to have a “do it yourself” attitude when it comes to business, especially when your enterprise is on the smaller side or is newly launched. But while it’s important to have a strong grasp of all business areas for which you provide leadership, it can be a mistake not to make the most of the specialist skills and experience of others.

Working with a good financial advisory service can help your business grow and succeed. It’s important for any business owner or start-up founder to understand the underlying principles of finance and business management, however, financial professionals can contribute much deeper industry knowledge and experience to help you make the best decisions and investments.

There are various types of financial advisory services and professional support available. Financial planners may specialize in a specific area or industry, or provide more general advisory services across sectors. They are certified professionals who are tasked with understanding complex financial products and solutions. By staying abreast of historic developments, ongoing trends, and informed projections they can help you navigate the market more effectively.

If you have specific ideas that you would like to explore with regard to growing, development, financing, or investments for your business, you can task a financial adviser with researching and reporting back on the benefits or drawbacks of all available approaches. They will use industry knowledge, specialist access to information, and certified advisory experience to investigate all available opportunities,

They may also be able to help you access exclusive products or services that will benefit your business. Asset management and stock brokerage are common services to receive help with, but certain types of financial products or solutions may only be available through the financial advisory service acting as an intermediary. They can also monitor your investments and other financial products, provide regular reports, and be empowered to take specific types of action in your best interest.

Another valuable benefit of working with a financial advisory service is peace of mind and legal protection. While some things are by nature volatile and subject to unpredictable gains or losses, such as investments, working with a certified professional adviser authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority gives a measure of legal protection. If you believe you are not receiving good advice or have been misled in any of the financial matters entrusted to your financial adviser, you can address that with the Financial Ombudsman.

It should be noted that, while there are avenues of legal recourse if you are unhappy with your financial adviser, you do need to ensure you work with a reputable, certified, and fully authorised financial advisory service in the first place. There are unscrupulous parties that may try to represent themselves as financial advisers without adequate experience, good reputation, or certification. It’s always best practice to do your research ahead of time, ask for references and visual confirmation of credentials, and avoid services that “cold-call” or otherwise approach you.

If you have strong industry connections, you may want to ask colleagues, mentors, or other members of your network for a referral to services they have used and found valuable. Reputable financial advisory services are generally well-known, well-established parties that can be confirmed by reputation. Shard Capital is a London-based independent financial services company that offers a wide range of expert services. It is relatively simple to research the offerings of such professional companies and assess their track record with various services such as investment management, capital markets, fund management, and institutional broking.

The right financial advisory service can help your business thrive, grow, make the most of its assets, and take advantage of the right opportunities. Knowledgeable, certified, and experienced advisers can help you identify goals and steps to reach them; research and recommend the best financial products and services to support your goals, access and manage investments, funds, or other brokerage services, and keep you abreast of market shifts and trends so you can shift strategy and approach as needed to make the most of your opportunities.

While it’s undeniably valuable to have some awareness of the market and a foundational grasp of markets, options, business targets, and other financial matters, a dedicated, certified financial adviser brings high levels of experience and skill to the work, as well as legal protection and peace of mind that is unavailable to an outside party. They can also provide access to financial products and services that are not otherwise possible to obtain. It’s in your best interests to find a reputable, experienced financial advisory service to take your business to the next level at the earliest opportunity.

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