Time Saving Tips

 If you have ever wished for more hours in the day to get everything done, then here are 6 simple ideas to help make your day more productive:

 

 

 

Time Saver Tip 1

Prioritise. Check your in-tray daily and create a ‘Going Home’ pile of work which you absolutely MUST do before you can leave. Ensure this pile is tackled FIRST before you get distracted.

Time Saver Tip 2

Order. Create a ‘To Do List’  and keep it in a spreadsheet.  Use a different sheet for short and long term tasks. This will allow you to keep track of long term tasks, without being distracted while working on more urgent work.  Always add a ‘Do by’ date for each task to help prioritise.   You can move items onto the more urgent sheet as deadlines get closer.

Time Saver Tip 3

Speed. Speed up meetings by circulating an agenda – that way, people can choose if they need to attend. You could also try hold meetings later – perhaps closer to 5pm to reduce them over-running.

Time Saver Tip 4

Delay. Don’t put off difficult tasks – If you have to do something you hate don’t keep looking at it, get it over and done with, otherwise it can be a distraction and become additional clutter.

Time Saver Tip 5

If you have set business goals. Check if your tasks get you closer to meeting these goals, otherwise leave them until after others that will.  It is very useful to set goals, and a good way to ensure you are staying on track and moving towards a target.

Time Saver Tip 6

If you are fairly organised  –

  1. Does this organisation still meet your needs?  
  2. Should some tasks be delegated ? 
  3. Do you need more space to store stuff if your desk is getting overloaded and you can’t find anything ? 
  4. Would some additional equipment speed tasks up ?

Every so often take a step back and take a quick review.  Start by looking at the most time consuming tasks.  A few small changes here and there could add up to a big time saving in the long term.

Hopefully there was something in the above list which you will want to try out, and with any luck it may save time and stress levels.

 

National Loan Guarantee Scheme

A New National Loan Guarantee Scheme was launched yesterday by the Treasury for small businesses with a turnover of less than 50m.

Businesses taking out a NLGS loan to receive a 1% discount compared to the interest rate they would otherwise have received outside the scheme. Please see link for details of the scheme:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/nlgs.htm

Barclays bank are offering a new Barclays Cashback Finance Scheme, which has been launched following the Governments National Loan Guarantee Scheme.   They offer upfront cashback , calculated as a 1% discount on the price of the loan, over the first 5 years (or duration of loan term if less than 5 years).  This is available for some business loans and Commercial Mortgages over £25,000.

Further details of Barclays cashback are available via their webpage: 

http://www.barclays.co.uk/Businesslending/BarclaysCashbackFinanceScheme/P1242607587465

 

 

 

Lasting Power of Attorney – How it helps.

Setting up a Power of Attorney won’t make you rich, but it will reduce the stress and hassle for your family should anything unpleasant happen to you.

Essentially, a Power of Attorney is a legal document that nominates a trusted individual to deal with your financial affairs and property in the unfortunate event of you being incapacitated, either physically or mentally. 

Without a Lasting power of attorney your family may need to apply to the Court of Protection to be able to make any decisions on your behalf.  This can be costly, and demanding and stressful for your relatives, friends and carers.  It is not tax planning but an essential aspect of it.

 

How to escape the same old…

 Do you feel your business is trapped in the ‘same old’ ?

Are you just taking each day as it comes hoping you will still be in business this time next year ?

It is important on occasion to lift your head up from your desk, and take a little time out to consider where your business is going. 

 Apart from the obvious purpose, (to earn a living), it is always useful and effective to be more specific about what your aiming for.  

Deciding business goals, will in the long run save time and money. It  should effectively influence all the actions you take each day while running your business. 

Once goals are set you can look at what you are doing, and consider the following:

  • Does it get you closer to your goal, great !  If not why are you spending your precious time on it ?
  • Are there things you should be doing to do to achieve your goal  ? Sometimes it becomes a habit to put tricky tasks off.
  • Are you keeping on track ? Once goals are set up, it is easy to forget about them and go back to the ‘usual’.  Keep a note by your desk to remind you why you are there !
  • Don’t forget to monitor your progress.  This will give you a boost for the tough times when problems crop up. 

Clearly, setting business goals is an important part of being in business, and you must not forget to consider personal goals too.  Family life can disrupt even the best laid plans, and not everyone wants to work until they drop.

If you need help with this, we can go through this with you in more detail, and help produce an in depth detailed action plan to help you move forward.  Please give us a call on 01225 751302 to book an appointment, and make a start today.

 

Late tax return filing penalty ?

If you have recently received a letter from HM Revenue and Customs with regard to  non filing of your 2010/11 tax return, you need to act now !  The inital £100 penalty is just the start. 

After 3 months there are additional penalties of up  to £10 per day to a maximum of £900.  This is on top of the initial £100.

After 6 months there is an additional £300 or 5% of tax due, whichever is highest.  Again on top of previous fines. 

 

Where there is a late partnership tax return, each partner will face penalties.

Even if you are worried about paying your tax bill, it is better to do something about it rather than wait and accumulate a considerable debt on top of any tax owed.

Do not delay, call us now to make an appointment to see Jo our Tax Expert, who will be able to help and advise you.  Call 01225 751302.

Best of Bristol Business Exhibition 28th Feb 2012

On Tuesday 28th February 2012, we will be attending the Best of Bristol Business Exhibition at the Bristol City Football Club exhibition centre from 10am – 3.30pm.

There will be around 140 stands offering various services to businesses. You can find us at stand number 139 in the middle near to reception.

There is FREE parking, FREE entry and some useful seminars, including one on low cost ways to win new customers, which we will be looking to attend.

For further details please see http://www.businesssorted.com/exhibition-company

How To Stop Care Fees From Costing Your Home !

If you paid a mortgage for most of your working life to purchase your home, it could be taken from you in your last few years.  

Do you think it is fair ?

If you are one of the millions that think the system is unfair, and that it penalises those that work hard to provide for their future, and that of their loved ones there  is a solution.

Do you want to protect your savings and inheritances from being swallowed up by long term care fees ?

This question is worth asking because should you or any of your family ever need to go into a care home, you may find most of your savings taken by the government to pay for care home fees.

The facts are quite alarming. Surveys show that:

  • Typical care fees can cost £30,000 per year or more.
  • If you have assets or capital (ie) your home is worth over £23,000, you would be expected to pay 100% of the cost of your care home fees.
  • As people live longer, the cost of fees can seriously erode an inheritance.

What you can do.

There is a way to protect savings and inheritances from this, through the use of an Asset Protection Trust.  This allows your assets to be ring fenced from long term care costs.  You will still have access to the money and assets in Trust when needed, but can avoid it being used when calculating your contribution to care home fees. 

As you would pay less in care home fees, this leaves you more left over to spend during your lifetime and pass on to your loved ones on your death.

In order for this to work, an arrangement needs to be in place long before care is needed, as it cannot be done retrospectively or once the need for care arises. 

Don’t leave it too late to get something in place.  We can advise on this issue with a free one hour consultation available on request.  Please call us to make an appointment with our tax expert.

 

3 Key areas to business survival

Recessions, whether single or double dip signal a time for business owners to take a hard look at their business practices, and check what they need to do in order to still be in business this time next year.

 

 

Key 1

 The first question that needs to be approached honestly, is:

“Is your business making money or costing it?”

 The best way to do this is to look at your breakeven point.  Which is the minimum amount you can sell your products/services for, to cover the actual cost of purchasing/providing those services.

 May sound simple, but costs should include everything it costs you to operate your business, such as insurance, electricity etc. That is why the breakeven point will take into account annual expenditure in addition to raw materials etc.

Once the breakeven point is known, small business owners will at least be aware if any areas of the business, are losing money and adjustments can then be made.   This may include adjusting prices, lowering costs or dropping unprofitable activities.

 It may also be of reassurance, as low volume sales are not necessarily an indication of an unprofitable business, as long as they are above the breakeven point. 

Key 2

The 2nd area business owners need to know about is cash flow. 

 Where is the money into the business coming from, and what is draining money out of the business?

 A cash flow analysis will provide this valuable information.  It can be used to determine the most profitable areas of the business, (so efforts and resources can be deployed more effectively) and the most costly. 

This can help owners to plan to reduce their debts and structure purchases of business equipment.

 We can provide a cash flow analysis to clients and go through it with them upon request. 

Key 3

Recovery, good news or is it ?

When trade starts to pick up this can cause additional problems for small businesses.  All of a sudden, orders are pouring in, which need additional purchase of raw materials or extra staff to meet demand.  This leaves a dangerous gap of expense before payment.  Owners need to manage this carefully, to ensure orders will be paid quickly and additional funding secured.  This is where working capital comes in.

 The working capital is the cost of getting the goods or services the business needs in order to trade. 

If you know this, you can then calculate what you need to meet your day to day running costs, and what extra you would need to cover additional orders.  This information will help owners decide what finance to raise, or if the order is a worthwhile risk to your business.

 If you would like assistance in any of the above areas, please get in touch via telephone or email.

01225 751361 or sfoster@blomfields.com

 

Winter Energy Cost Saving Ideas

 

With a both businesses and householders tightening their belts while coping with rising costs, we thought a few energy cost saving ideas would be very useful:

 

Everyone

  • At this time of year the temperature drops very quickly. Save on energy costs by closing blinds or curtains when the sun has gone down.
  • Consider fitting movement sensors to turn lights on/off in places that are not in constant use. eg) Toilets, Copier or Filing rooms etc.
  • If you live in an older house, do a room by room plug review to see what is plugged in and what it operates.  Stick a label on the plug to remind you of items that do not need to be continually switched on.  If you use extension leads ensure that each socket has an individual switch, so if you need to leave an item on continually, you turn can anything else off. 
  • Check your computer monitor brightness settings.  Is it set to a default of maximum ? Does it really need to be so high ? Adjust to a comfortable setting.
  • Do you use your computer at infrequent intervals during the day ? If so and your computer is normally left on, then consider using hibernate to reduce energy use.

This function saves what is open onto disk and shuts down your computer for you after being inactive for a set time.  Then when you turn it back on, reopens everything you were using before shut down. (Quite a timesaver) This can be accessed via your control panel, power options and hibernate tab = enable. (Windows XP users). 

Can also be useful for kids/teens computers when they disappear to watch TV and leave it on.

 Businesses

  • Share printers wherever possible to reduce idle time and maximise usage.
  • Implement a “last one out makes sure it off” policy with a reminder sign by the door, to ensure electrical items turned off at night.
  • If you use compressed air tools, check for and eliminate any leaks, as this will reduce energy useage.
  • Interest free business loans are available from The Carbon Trust for purchasing energy efficient equipment. Please see their website for case studies and further information.
    Carbon Trust case study link

 I hope you have found these ideas are helpful, if you would like additional information, we have produced a booklet on Sustainability which is available free on request.  Please email gwhite@blomfields.com with your details to request a copy.