Spring clean your business finances

If there’s one area that’s integral to keeping a successful business running, it’s keeping your business finances in order. Despite this, it’s an area of business many entrepreneurs and small business owners find difficult to manage. With the end of the tax year having just passed and spring in full swing, there’s no better time to spring clean your business finances and assess your spending, so our experts have compiled their top tips concerning all things cash!

Tighten your bookkeeping processesIt sounds dull, but ensuring efficient management of all your invoices and outgoings is a crucial part of keeping a small business running. If this is something you do yourself alongside other duties, consider employing someone to do this for you or look in to trusted online systems that can support you with this.  It can seem like an extra expense, but if you can streamline processes and save valuable work hours you may find in the long run, it’s more than worth the investment.

Assess your outgoings and operationsNaturally, this will be something most business owners are used to doing, but opening up to different options for various aspects of running your business could help you make changes you hadn’t thought about. For example, could you automate some processes to make them simpler?  Is outsourcing some aspects of your day-to-day running costs effective? Could being located in a certain area help to grow your business? These are all questions to consider so you can ascertain where to make savings and where to spend.

Apply for a grantOne thing many entrepreneurs wish they could do is grow their business, but a lack of funding can put unnecessary obstacles in the way. Despite what many people believe about having limited access to business finances, grants are available in East Sussex to help fund business growth.

Get support and advice from a trustworthy source The business advice team at Business East Sussex can offer support, mentoring and advice on all aspects of your business finances. Support sessions are available with advice on starting, growing and financing a business. You can find out how to get the right support for your business here.

Check out free resources – One of the great things about access to the internet is that there are many resources available free of charge and at the click of a button that can help you to keep your finances in check and manage business admin. Take a look at the Let’s Do Business Group advice section for useful free options.

Have a sound invoicing system – and stick to it! This will make business finances much less hassle. Be sure to send out invoices as soon as you can after work has been completed, and clearly outline your payment terms.  If you often undertake high value jobs, be clear before any work is undertaken when you’ll need payment so people know how much is required and by when.

Don’t spend budget on training unnecessarily   It can seem like there’s a million and one things to learn when running a small business, particularly if you don’t yet have budget for many staff members. There’s marketing, GDPR, first aid, HR and more to keep track of, but there are a number of local free or low cost workshops and events available to help with this – these can also help you to save on precious business finances.

Remember time is money! It’s tempting to think of business finances and money as only physical expenditure, but by spending unnecessary time on things, you’re also wasting resource and subsequently time that could be spent generating your business more revenue. Are you tied up in meetings most days without opportunity to actually get work done? Perhaps you find yourself replying to emails all evening without a break? Think about ways you can be more productive to save your valuable time – are those networking drinks really a must do? Do you need to travel for hours to a meeting or could it be done over Skype? Chances are there are small tweaks you can make to your diary to save time and money.

Do you want to find out how to manage your business finances? Simply contact us here or call one of our friendly business experts to arrange a support session on 0844 415 2260.


BES to sponsor Women in Business Awards

Business East Sussex (BES) is delighted to be sponsoring one of the categories at this year’s Women in Business Awards.

BES is sponsoring the Medium Business Award which is open to all businesses within the Sussex area which is owned, part owned or wholly or partly run by a woman with 10-50 employees that can demonstrate exceptional performance, growth and market leadership.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services at BES, said: “We’re delighted to sponsoring such a prestigious set of awards.

“We work with a number of female-led businesses throughout East Sussex and are seeing more and more coming through as women take the entrepreneurial route of working for themselves.”

To enter the awards visit: www.jpeventssouth.co.uk/events/es-women-in-business/

There can be no doubt that women are underrepresented in the workplace and in business.

Statistics in America show that women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager—so far fewer end up on the path to leadership—and they are less likely to be hired into more senior positions.

And, here in the UK, there has been a great debate in recent months about the gender pay gap – with high profile Radio 4 reporters discovering they are paid less than their male counterparts and big companies revealing their statistics on wages.

Higher rates

Government data has shown that 74% of firms pay higher rates to their male staff. Just 15% of businesses with more than 250 employees pay more to women than and only 11% of firms said there is no difference between the rates paid to either gender.

However, there are institutions and businesses which eschew this norm. To that end, the Women in Business Awards, organised by Johnston Press, are a celebration of women in the workplace.

March 8th also marks International Women’s Day (IWD) which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women across the globe. This year, the theme of IWD is a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There’s a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

BES will supporting IWD on social media and is calling on all businesses in East Sussex to show their support for gender parity  and use the hash tag #PressforProgess .


Top tips to love yourself and your business for entrepreneurs

So, you’ve started your own business. You have the funding, the sales are rolling in and you have started to make a small profit… but you’ve hit a wall emotionally and physically.

If this sounds like you, then you’re not alone. The task of starting or running your own business is not an easy one – and the path is littered with burnouts; the people who care for their businesses more than themselves.

Here at Business East Sussex we help businesses secure finance and grants to help your dreams of becoming your own boss come true. But we are also here for the whole business and that includes YOU… the person running it.

So, with February being the month of love we decided to look at the things you can do to love yourself, which in turn will help you love your business more and help it grow.

One of the most important factors is to try and avoid stress, or at the very least recognise when you’re experiencing it. According to the Health and Safety Executive, some 526,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2016/17 and 12.5 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17.

But it’s not just workers that suffer from stress. People at the top suffer too. Managing stress is an important factor to running a successful business.

Here are our top seven tips on how to avoid stress and look after yourself while you’re running your own business:

Manage energy, not time

Your energy limits what you can do with your time, so manage it wisely. If you are burning the midnight hour checking your accounts every evening you may not have the energy to perform to your optimum the next day.

Build a great team

No one succeeds in business alone, and those who try will lose to a great team every time. Build your own great team to bolster success. Some may not be in the position to hire staff to help – however that does not mean you are not in a team. Your suppliers, if good enough, could be regarded as part of your team, your customers too, along with family members. If you have people, however close they are to the business, to rely on then you’re winning. As an entrepreneur, you should not try to do everything on your own. It’s good to be ambitious, but is wise to know your limits. To be successful, you don’t need to make yourself miserable

Embrace training

So, you have started your own business and things are going well. But for how long, and why? Just because you have become a successful entrepreneur does not mean you have to stop learning. Training, in whatever medium, will up skill you and give you that competitive edge. Perhaps an advice session with Business East Sussex is what you need to go from ticking over to taking off in your business.

Work-Life Balance

Relaxation is big business these days – and even if you run your own business you need to schedule in some time to relax. Being aware of your energy levels, time and your priorities is key to achieving a good work-life balance. It’s important to know your peaks and troughs. Are you a morning person? If you are, assign tough, high-concentration tasks to the mornings. Don’t leave the tough tasks until its night time and vice versa. That way you can always still get chance to put the children to bed.

Say no

You can’t do everything. So why even try?

Make your workspace work for you

Working for yourself does tend to require long hours and not much downtime, so invest in equipment that will support you. That includes getting a comfortable chair, an ergonomic keyboard, a support stand for your laptop. You’ll thank yourself later.

Disconnect

We live in a connected world these days and running your own business can mean you’re even more connected than the average man on the street. In your contacts will be customers, suppliers, partners, potential partners – and what’s more – you’re probably connected with these contacts on social media. You probably do your own marketing via social media too. How do you avoid the burnout that too much social media can cause? Well it seems flippant to say put your phone down – but it does really start with that. But others are advocating more – like a full digital detox. Studies show sustained time away from our screens is good for our health. But how do you start? List your devices says Dr Sally-Ann Law, a psychologist and personal life coach.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/better/technology/9-ways-to-start-and-stick-to-a-digital-detox/) and then try and focus.  Stay in the moment with your loved ones and co-workers.


Tips to cope with the collapse of Carillion

Thousands of Carillion’s suppliers are beginning to feel the impact of its collapse with subcontractors that are owed money by the contracting giant starting to lay off workers. Business East Sussex looks at the situation and the sources of help and support available affected businesses.

 The recent and spectacular collapse of Carillion has really highlighted how complex the supply chain network of major businesses is in today’s corporate world.

It has also brought to the fore that in these collapses, it is usually the smaller creditors that will be most significantly affected. Initial estimates indicate unsecured creditors of Carillion will receive less than 1p for every £ that they are owed. Whilst Suzannah Nichol, CEO of UK Build, warned: “Previous collapses show that 17-18% of creditors do not survive the next five years.”

She also added: “The knock-on effect will be ricocheting right through the supply chain”

If your business is one of the, possibly as many as 30,000 creditors of the collapsed group, Business East Sussex strongly advises you firstly to take independent legal advice about your position and the process to register your interest with the Insolvency Service.

Secondly, talk to your finance providers. It will be vital to your business to keep them on your side. Be prepared for that conversation, not just how much you are owed but what that loss will mean to your cashflow over the next six to 12 months. Help them to understand what the size of your finance needs are likely to be over the coming months. They will be much more likely to work with you through this if they are confident that you understand your situation and in your ability to trade through it.

Longer term, it is important to consider what is your business strategy going to be to replace the lost income and how you can de-risk that growth to give your business as much protection as possible in the future?

The following resources have now been made available to all workers and businesses affected by Carillion’s liquidation and to those who are seeking further information:

  • a webpage set up by the Insolvency Service for those affected and seeking advice;
  • a dedicated website set up by the Special Managers, PWC, as well as a dedicated helpline Tel: 0800 063 9282.
  • more general advice on business support is available through the BEIS Business Support Helpline Tel: 0300 456 3565 and is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. There is also a text phone service available on 0208 742 8620

If your business has been affected by the collapse of the Carillion, the Business East Sussex Growth Hub is on hand to offer free help to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to access the support and advice they need. Our team of experienced and knowledgeable advisors will guide you to the most relevant sources of support, advice and finance across the county.

Contact 0844 4152260

e-mail info@businesseastsussex.org.uk

Twitter @BizESussex


The past 12 months for Business East Sussex

BES team portrait

Some of the team from Business East Sussex

Taking a look back over the last 12 months has really highlighted what an exceptionally busy time it has been for the Business East Sussex (BES) Team.

The service has directly delivered grants in excess of £250k and has also helped businesses within the East Sussex region gain access to further finance of £2 million.

Over this year the BES team has now grown to a team of 11 with specialist advisors in Business-Start Up, Strategic planning and Finance coming on board.

What’s more, the team has been out and about networking; meeting entrepreneurs across the county and it has also delivered its own series of acclaimed events.

During the past year, BES has helped over 300 businesses across the region – whether that was by offering advice or access to funding. One of the biggest sources of funding that BES has helped to deliver in 2017 has been the South-East Business Boost grants scheme. Dozens of companies and business from across the county have already benefitted, including high tech engineering, micro-breweries and musical instrument manufacturers.

Commenting on the past year, Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services for BES, said: “This has been a tremendous year for Business East Sussex. We have worked with and supported more businesses than ever before and it is great to see what a difference our support and the finance can make to individual businesses. It is also pleasing to see so many of the ambitious entrepreneurs in the county, seeing opportunities, even in the present environment, and taking up the challenge by investing in their businesses”.

At the start of the year BES was able to offer advice on an uninspiring budget. Following a snap election called by Teresa May, the advice from BES was: “keep calm and don’t panic.”

Earlier in the year BES also approached the issue of cyber security – with a series of events on how people could protect their systems and enhance them further by moving over to the cloud.  This was particularly relevant after the global cyberattack that crippled the NHS computer systems!

BES have also addressed General Data Protection Regulation, legislation that will affect the majority of businesses but is still not fully understood. An interactive workshop highlighted how businesses could be compliant with the new legislation and turn it to a competitive advantage.

Diversification by entering new markets at home and abroad can spread business risk and increase income and BES was at the forefront of a campaign to get East Sussex exporting, in conjunction with the Department of International Trade (DIT). The UK exported a staggering £305 billion worth of goods and services in the year to March 2017 and BES held an event with DIT to highlight the fact that barriers to international trade were not as a big as many SMEs think. Opticals entrepreneur Jason Kirk, of Kirk & Kirk, gave his first-hand experience of reaching international markets to the meeting.

The chancellor’s autumn speech provided another opportunity for BES to engage with businesses across the county through live tweeting comment on budget announcements as they happened and a blog round up of the highlights of the speech within two hours of the chancellor sitting down.

Ian went on to say: “Despite the uncertain business environment 2017 has been a great year for BES and East Sussex businesses and our new team of experienced advisors will allow us to provide even more advice and finance to the businesses of East Sussex into 2018 and beyond. We’ll be out there talking to businesses and running more events than ever over the coming months”

To find out how Business East Sussex could help your business survive and thrive contact us now on: info@businesseastsussex.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 


BES looks at the Budget: digital economy plans unveiled & growth forecasts cut

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has today announced a raft of initiatives for creating a digital economy – but at the same time economic growth prospects for the UK were downgraded.

Delivering his second budget to the House of Commons, Hammond announced £500m for 5G mobile networks, fibre broadband and artificial intelligence and a further £2.3bn allocated for investment in research and development.

He also pledged £540m to support the growth of electric cars, including more charging points, and income tax to be applied from April 2019 on digital economy royalties relating to UK sales which are paid to a low-tax jurisdiction.

The government also said that the VAT threshold for small businesses would remain at £85,000, the highest in Europe, for two years, the highest in Europe, and that rises in business rates would be pegged to CPI measure of inflation, not RPI.

But, the growth forecast for 2017 was downgraded from 2% to 1.5% by the OBR and GDP was downgraded to 1.4%, 1.3% and 1.5% in subsequent years, before rising to 1.6% in 2021-22. Annual rate of CPI inflation was also forecast to fall from a peak of 3% to 2% later this year.

Commenting on the budget, Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Development at Business East Sussex, said he was pleased there had been support for SMEs with regards to the VAT threshold. It had been widely predicted that this would be cut to raise income for the nation’s coffers.

Smallwood said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and they are vitally important to the county of East Sussex. I’m pleased that some predicted regulatory burdens have not come to fruition and here at Business East Sussex we welcome anything that can improve our drive for digital businesses. Also there is some relief on SBR, particularly for pubs, which is an important element of the rural make-up of the county.

“We’re particularly pleased that the government is allocating a further £2.3 billion for investment in R&D and will increase the R&D Tax credit by 12%. And we’re pleased the government is starting to address the skills gap, particularly with the construction industry, which is an issue in the county.

“Overall this is a business friendly budget despite the economic uncertainty we face ahead of Brexit.”

Elsewhere in his budget, Hammond announced:

  • £320m to be invested in former Redcar steelworks site
  • Second devolution deal for the West Midlands
  • £1.7bn transport fund for city regions
  • £2bn for Scottish Government, £1.2bn for Welsh Government and £650m for Northern Ireland Executive

The government also announced a raft of measures to boost the construction industry, in particular the housing situation, and it pledged £44bn in government support, including loan guarantees, to boost construction skills.


GDPR: an opportunity for growth

New data rules are in-coming – are you ready for them? Don’t worry, most businesses aren’t.

Here at Business East Sussex (BES) we have teamed up with the experts when it comes to data – and we will be holding an exclusive seminar that will go into detail on the forthcoming GDPR.

It will outline the key facts about GDPR and how it impacts your business but it will also highlight the opportunities it offers.

We have teamed up with The Jamieson Consultancy, leading data and marketing experts, to give you the GDPR seminar that WILL make a difference to your business.

To reserve your place please book now here https://goo.gl/BNGCT2

Here, David Jameison, of TJC, explains why it can be an opportunity for growth.


South East Business Boost sponsors Let’s Do Business Expo

The South East Business Boost (SEBB) – the chance to get £10k for your capital project – was the main event at the recent Let’s Do Business Expo in Hastings.

SEBB sponsored the breakfast briefing held by Hastings Chamber of Commerce which kicked-off proceedings ahead of the expo.

Dozens of business from across the county were told how easy it is to get up to £10k and YOU can too, see here: goo.gl/vMWC2S

Ian Smallwood, Head of Business Services at BES, said: “The recent Let’s Do Business Expo in Hastings was the perfect opportunity to speak to some key players in the East Sussex Business Community. If you have a small to medium-size business (SME) or are a start-up based in East Sussex, we could help you fund a wide range of capital items to help increase sales, improve productivity and boost profitability.”

The event, which was held at the Hastings Centre, also featured a range of informative talks including two sessions by Google, BBC’s John Young and a presentation by PRG Marketing Communications.


A life in television… and you can learn all his tricks of the trade

Business East Sussex is holding the John Young Newsroom next week and we caught up with the TV reporter with nearly 30 years’ experience of hitting deadlines and making sound snap decisions to ask him about what he does and why his session is so unique.

How long have you been on television?

I’ve been lucky enough to be on TV since 1992 — my first TV report was about a wonder race horse in Cumbria that was going to cause a sensation that year.  Unfortunately it didn’t.  But I’d made my debut as the new Cumbria reporter for BBC Look North.

What’s the thing you love about your role the most?

The surprises.  Often you wake in the morning not having the faintest idea what subject — serious, light, controversial, heart breaking — you’re going to be dealing with that day.  I think it’s known as ‘pivoting’ in the business world.

What is the most memorable story you have worked on?

A light aircraft that crash landed on a mountain-top in mid-winter.  My cameraman and I climbed for two hours with a tripod and camera.  I’ll never forget seeing the victim’s shattered brief case in the snow.  A reminder that what’s a news story to a reporter is often heartbreak to a family.

What is the best/worst moment you have had during your TV career?

Worst:  realising the studio presenter was ‘throwing’ to me for a live insert four minutes early, with a question I couldn’t possibly answer.

Best: my partner telling me that evening that he’d not noticed.

What do people get out of your course?

An exhilarating confidence boost they can take back the next day to their own workplace.  TV News is a great theme to get people to speak their mind, hit some deadlines, deal with a few dilemmas, stick to their guns … without having to fret about being responsible for it all.  And it’s a lot more fun than training by PowerPoint.

What gave you the idea for it?

Being asked by so many schools and organisations to come and talk about TV News.  I decided I could do better than ‘talk’ — so came up with some games.  My “Den of Decisions and Deadlines” and “Newsroom Bootcamp” is the result!  It’s also a great game for an AGM or After Dinner event … far more fun than a speech!

To book your place at this exclusive, informative and entertaining course with a difference, which takes place at Business East Sussex,  8th Floor Ocean House, 87-89 London Road, East Sussex, TN37 6LW from 9am to 2pm on 12th October, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/y82o4nrn


Five reasons why YOU should consider exporting

The UK is an exporting success story.

According to HM Revenue and Customs statistics in the year to March 2017, the overall value of UK trade in goods exported increased by 11% compared with the same period the year before.

That’s right, the UK exported a staggering £305 billion worth of goods and services in the year to March 2017.

And, what’s more, YOU too could be taking part in the export success story. We have teamed up with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and are holding a breakfast briefing on how to grow your business into new markets which takes place on Tuesday, 19 September at the Buxted Park Hotel in Buxted, East Sussex.

Over the next few weeks, in the run up to our event with the DIT, we will be looking at the pros and cons of exporting (HINT: there are more pros…), starting here with the top five reasons You should consider exporting.

• Performing at home

The world is getting increasingly smaller. Thanks to social media, if a product or service is a hit here in the UK, chances are it will be a hit elsewhere. You only have to look at the demand for Western brands and services in Asia, in particular China, as evidence of this.

• Easier than you think

Most put off exporting because they’re satisfied with the level of sales they’re making in the UK. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the perceived hassle of regulations, paperwork and cultural barriers. You could think exporting is a risky venture in uncertain times. Or you might be interested but just don’t know where to start. All of these are misconceptions. Exporting is actually easier than you think.

• Spreads risk

Exporting actually reduces risk by spreading it across a wider range of customers and protecting your business if the UK demand for your product or service falls. Any business venture carries an element of risk and you’ll need to weigh export opportunities carefully. But trading internationally, if you’re being smart about it, adds more security than risk to your business.

• New opportunities

Selling in new markets will mean you’re more likely to be aware of emerging needs of that market and new opportunities that may arise. All of this helps a UK business, it makes you more innovative and better able to maintain a competitive position in your sector. Exporting also enhances your business’s profile, especially at home –as you are seen as successful for being an exporter.

• Don’t go it alone

You don’t have to do a Fleetwood Mac and go your own way. There are tons of resources out there to help you. By taking advice and guidance and by taking things step by step, you can more than manage the extra challenges of exporting and take advantage of the benefits, no matter what the size of your business.

To sign up to our FREE breakfast briefing on how to export, click here.

Next week, in the Business East Sussex blog, we will look at what to export.


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