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.

 

New Junior ISAs (JISA)

The Government has confirmed that Junior ISAs will be available from 1 November 2011. These are aimed at children born on or after 3 January 2011 and older children (under the age of 18) who do not have a Child Trust Fund. 

Where the child is aged under 16, the account must be opened by a person with parental responsibility for that child.

A child or young person may have either a Cash JISA, or a Stocks and Shares JISA, or both. However, it will not be possible to open a new JISA every year – though this will not affect the ability to transfer a JISA between account managers, or the right of 16- and 17-year olds to open an ‘adult’ Cash ISA, in addition to their JISAs. 

Saving in a JISA  – As a matter of law, anybody will be able to add savings to a child’s JISA – the parents’ consent is not required. However, individual JISA providers may set their own restrictions. The maximum JISA investment for 2011/12 will be £3,600, split in any way between Cash and Stocks and Shares JISAs. The same limit will apply for 2012/13; thereafter it will be up rated each year in line with the Consumer Prices Index.

Withdrawals from JISAs – No withdrawals (other than technical withdrawals to pay JISA managers’ charges, etc) will be permitted until the holder’s eighteenth birthday, unless he or she becomes terminally ill. If the child dies, the JISA will become part of his or her estate.

For further information please visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/isa/isa-guidance-notes.pdf

Managing Business Stress Breakfast Event

This week saw us holding our business breakfast on the subject of managing business stress at The Glove Factory Studios in Holt. 

Our speaker for the event Jennifer Hampson gave an interesting and insightful talk to business owners on how to identify and practical strategies for dealing with work related stress.

We soon found out how little we knew about stress prior to this event. 

Her warm and interactive approach soon got groups of business owners and managers, looking at common problems caused by stress and discussing tactics to address such issues.  This caused a few humorous comments and some productive thoughts which we all enjoyed.

At the end of the talk, we received some very positive feedback, here are a few of the comments we received:

“It was brilliant to hear the massively hyped subject of stress dealt with in such a logical and approachable manner.”

“Stress is a very hard thing for some people to deal with, which sometimes turns to depression.  A lot of people cannot recognise the signs, so the earlier the problem is tackled the better !”

“I enjoyed the interaction – it got me thinking about my own stress”.

 The lucky prize draw winner of a free coaching session from Jennifer has now been notified.

With all the knowledge gained from the event, now we just need to put it all into action. 🙂

 

Surviving the week from Hell

 In keeping with our latest theme on business stress, here is another little article on stress, courtesy of Steve Pipes book “Stress proof your business and your life”.  

Also a little reminder that places are filling up for our free business breakfast next Tuesday, on managing business stress. 

Please contact us urgently by telephone 01225 751302 or email gwhite@blomfields.com, if you are a business owner who would still like to reserve a place.

Facing the week from Hell ?

On really busy days with multiple deadlines, it is easy to get to the stage where you are almost scared to answer the phone in case it is another task for you to do.  To combat the panic and get to a stage where you are calm enough to think your way out of this, you need a more positive frame of mind.  Each time panic hits, decide on a positive sentence and run it though your head. Such as ‘I am serenely gliding towards my deadline and everything will get done’.

Calmer ? Good now to tackle the interruptions. 

One way to go about this is to use the ‘best use’ question.  It can help you negotiate you way through any day with dozens of calls on your time.  It will help you to prioritise ‘on the run’, sometimes ruthlessly.  On the morning of manic days, decide what you absolutely MUST achieve that day, and if anything interrupts, ask yourself “Is that the best use of my time, right now?” If the answer is no, take a rain-check and come back to it later.  So if a friend calls you at work, nine times out of ten, you won’t chat then, you call her back at a more convenient time – unless of course, she is very upset about something, in which case as a friend, talking to her is the best use of your time. 

Promises and realism.

One problem we cause for ourselves is to tell people what they want to hear, and over promise on what we can do for them.  Over promising results you can’t deliver, causes a lot of stress for both parties.  It is better to under promise rather than over promise.  That way your boss thinks you are wonderful when you get the report finished a day early rather than a week late.  Make it a rule to be absolutely realistic about how long it is going to take you to get things done.  Until you get expert at this, work out the time you reckon it will take you to complete any task and multiply it by 1.5.

Business stress can you afford to ignore it ?

With difficult trading conditions currently experienced by businesses throughout the country, we decided to run a free to attend, business breakfast event on the subject of managing business stress.

image copywrite istockphoto.com

With 9.8 million days in the UK lost through work related stress.

Each day having a negative impact on business.  We think that most business owners cannot afford to overlook this important issue.

 

 

This interactive event will offer practical and useful strategies to reduce the impact of stress on your business and nip potential problems in the bud.   

The breakfast will be held on Tuesday 11th October 2011, at 08:00am, Glove Factory Studios, Brook Lane, Holt, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. BA14 6RL.  Refreshments and a bacon roll will be provided.

All business owners are invited to attend subject to reserving a place.  Please contact this office if you would like to attend, by emailing: gwhite@blomfields.com, or call us on 01225 751302, for us to reserve your place.  Places subject to availability as numbers will be limited.

 

New Book Keepers Club

We were pleased to host our new book keepers club this week.

 

This monthly club offers book keepers the opportunity to meet others in their industry in an informal and friendly setting. 

 

Here, we organise short workshops to cover relevant topics in more depth, and a chance for free discussion on work related niggles where  the  group can offer support, solutions and advice.  All supplied with tea, coffee and biscuits !

The first session received positive comments and the general feeling was that there was a lot of useful hints and tips to be gained from it.

We are looking forward to next month !