Is Outsourcing A Way Forward For Your Business?


More and more businesses are outsourcing various functions in order to focus on their main areas of expertise.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are we doing that is NOT one of our core proficiencies?
  • What do we do that we don’t do well?
  • What could we potentially outsource?

As an example, many businesses have outsourced their entire accounting function to their accountants, achieving significant savings in the process.

As auto enrolment is causing unwanted stress and headaches with many businesses, sourcing a reliable payroll provider is fast becoming critical. Not only can we help you with this but we have held events to inform businesses of the changes and what they need to do.

We can help you with all your accounting and/or payroll requirements so you can free up your time and money and do what you enjoy doing. To book a free meeting so you can discuss your business requirements further, contact me by clicking here for my email address or click here for our contact form.

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Corporation Tax Reductions


From 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015, the main rate of corporation tax is 21% where a company’s profits exceed £1,500,000 (divided by companies under common control). The 20% small profits rate continues to apply to companies with profits up to £300,000 (also divided as above). As previously announced, a single corporation tax rate of 20% will apply from April 2015 whatever your level of profits.

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New Flexible Pensions


There are significant changes being proposed which will make it easier to access your pension fund pot if you have a defined contribution (money purchase) pension scheme. As a general rule, 25% of the pension fund can be taken as a tax free lump sum at age 55, although this age will be increased in future to be 10 years before State Pension age (age 57 in 2028). Remember also that the requirement to buy an annuity at age 75 had already been abolished with the introduction of “flexible drawdown” pensions that are currently available.

From 27 March 2014 the Government have increased the maximum amount you can take out each year from a capped drawdown arrangement from 120% to 150% of an equivalent annuity. For example, if the equivalent annuity rate is 6%, then up to 9% of the fund can now be drawn down each year. This is in response to concerns about low annuity rates which are linked to savings rates.

The Government has published a consultation document to consider proposals to make the drawdown rules even more flexible from April 2015. This would allow you to withdraw more than the current 25% of the fund limit, subject to a tax charge. This charge would be at your marginal tax rate instead of the current penal 55% charge on the fund.

The other significant change being consulted on is the proposal to reduce the current limit of £20,000 guaranteed pension income to just £12,000 a year. Those with this level of guaranteed pension income will be able to draw as much or as little as they wish from their pension fund each year without the 150% of equivalent annuity rule applying.

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Capital Taxes


It had already been announced that the CGT annual exempt amount would increase to £11,000 for 2014/15 and £11,100 for 2015/16. With a top CGT rate of 28%, this allowance potentially saves just over £3,000 a year, or £6,000 for a married couple.

There has been no change in the inheritance tax nil rate band, which remains at £325,000 until 2018.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss capital gains tax and inheritance tax planning, as we can help you take advantage of these valuable allowances.

The only significant change to inheritance tax is the proposed extension in the exemption that applies to the military who die on active service to those in the emergency services.

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More Good News For Savers


The 10% starting rate will apply to the first £2,880 of savings income for 2014/15. However, this rate will be abolished and replaced with a zero rate on the first £5,000 of savings income from 2015/16 onwards.

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Important Changes To ISAs


In order to encourage savers, the current £11,520 ISA limit is to be significantly increased to £15,000 from 1 July 2014. Furthermore, the current 50% cash ISA limit of £5,760 is to be abolished so that any combination of cash and stocks and shares can be held within the ISA wrapper up to the overall £15,000 limit. These products will be termed “New ISAs” or NISAs. The Junior ISA limit will increase to £4,000 from 1 July 2014.

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Income Tax Bands


The 20% basic rate band is £31,865 for 2014/15 and will be £31,785 for 2015/16. This means that you pay 40% tax if your taxable income exceeds £41,865 for 2014/15 and £42,285 for 2015/16.

The 45% top rate continues to apply to taxable income over £150,000 for 2014/15.

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Personal Allowances


Personal allowances are fixed for 2014/15 at £10,000, the level promised in the Coalition Agreement. However, the Budget announced that there will be a further (above inflation) increase to £10,500 for 2015/16, in line with the allowance currently available to taxpayers aged 65 to 74. Those aged 75 and over will continue to receive a personal allowance of £10,660. Note that if adjusted net income exceeds £100,000, the personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 over £100,000. This gives an effective rate of 60% on income between £100,000 and £120,000 for 2014/15. Contact us for planning advice to avoid this 60% rate.

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The Key Points From Budget 2014


The Chancellor’s 2014 Budget was clearly aimed at winning the votes of savers, pensioners and those paying for expensive childcare. Increases in ISA limits, a £5,000 zero rate band on savings income, more flexible pension drawdown rules and an increase in the proposed childcare tax relief to £2,000 reflect this goal. There was also good news for businesses with the extension of the Annual Investment Allowance until 31 December 2015 and an increase in the qualifying spend up to £500,000 from April 2014.

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Do you have the right technology for the growth of your business?


Technology is a major driver of business profits. Here is a list of innovations you may want to implement in your business:

1. Document management systems (going paperless)

2. Electronic workflow

3. Multiple monitors

4. Portals

5. “cloud” computing

6. Customer relationship management (CRM) software


There are significant benefits to going paperless:

· Increase in productivity

· Elimination of storage space

· Reduction in expenses

· Ability to work remotely

· Better customer services

· Protection of documents

· Happier team members

There are also significant benefits to being in the “Cloud”:

· Investment – Cloud computing shifts a large portion of your I.T costs from capital outlay to a regular operating expense

· Expense – Reduced I.T expenses as there’s no need for expensive servers, hardware or I.T departments

· Access – Access your data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection

· Scalability – Add users/programs/applications on an as-needed basis, allowing you to adjust system for seasonal peaks and troughs

· Speed – Applications are quicker due to the capacity of the host’s larger operating systems

· Security – Data is backed up (in real time) and stored in multiple secure locations. The threat of having your servers stolen, subject to natural catastrophe such as fire or flood, or being otherwise compromised goes away.

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10 Steps to generating your big idea


After reading an article written by Robert Ashton, I had to share this with you.

Whether you are simply too busy to think, feel that your brain is stagnating or are somewhere between the two extremes, generating the big idea is a daunting challenge. Here are ten ways to start the creative process.

1. Buy a notebook – Keep it in your pocket, beside the bed and everywhere you go. Ideas can strike at any time, be sure to write them down.

2. Ask a friend – Who knows you well. Ask them what they would buy from you, ask them what you’re good at and what they feel you should avoid.

3. Beware of the hobby habit – Many people feel that their hobby holds the key, but are there enough people who share your passion and have money to spend.

4. Watch the weather – Will your idea appeal to your customers all year round? Selling Christmas decorations or hiring bikes might not keep you in business throughout the full year. Perhaps you could run two seasonal business.

5. Read books – Why not pick up some biographies of entrepreneurs you admire. See how they started, often in a small way, and then became household names. What can you learn from their experience and apply to your own situation?

6. Open your eyes – All around you are people running businesses. What do you think you could do better? You may not want to run a coffee shop but, thinking about one you visit every morning could improve your thinking to be more entrepreneurially.

7. Stroll in the park – And other places you only rarely visit. Watch people. What’s missing? Observe, if possible, your potential customers. How can you influence them?

8. Travel – You don’t need to go far. Visit local trade fairs and see what is being promoted. Pose as a buyer and ask questions. Compare your business vision with what you are experiencing.

9. Check your CV – Most people actually start a business in an area in which they have worked before. Don’t take this for granted, but accept it as a possibility all the same.

10. Shake the pig – Emptying you money box onto the bed is the ultimate reality check for a budding entrepreneur. If Auntie Violet has just died and left you with a million, your choice is wide. For most of us though, cash will constrain our start-up plans.

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Develop targets, forecasts and budgets effectively

Once you have a business plan, move on to setting targets for the short and medium term. Do this together with your team, making sure everyone understands them and how they will be achieved. Then make sure everyone agrees that they are achievable. If your team isn’t willing to agree on this, go back to the drawing board.  Next, it’s time to draft financial forecasts for the same periods. There’s a temptation to do these just to satisfy some outside party like as a lender, but they are a key management tool. Highlighting deviations from forecasted numbers allows you to take corrective action more quickly. Your forecasts are dependent on assumptions and estimates, so here it is important to be conservative. The last step in the process is to put together your near-term budgets. This is where team input is critical.  Build budgets from the ground up, i.e. “here are our objectives, how much do you think we need to budget to achieve them?” Rather than “here’s your budget!”  Developing targets forecasts and budgets can be daunting tasks if you do not do them regularly. As accountants, these are our “bread and butter” and we would be pleased to assist you. Call us on 01472 345888 or contact me at   For more business tips and ideas why don’t you order a copy of one of our free books.

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A business plan that will work for any business.

  Planning is a key element to running a successful business. To get where you want to go, you’ll need a business plan. Use our previous blog articles to help you. Be clear on your products and services – USP (Unique selling point) Is your business going in the right direction? – SWOT analysis Most businesses don’t have any kind of plan. So, start with a simple plan that pinpoints what you want to achieve.

Here’s an example:
1. In 5 years time, I want the business to be worth £5 million
2. To achieve this, it must make annual profits of at least £1.5 million
3. To achieve this, it must have sales of £10 million
4. I need to increase my sales by, on average, £1 million a year
5. To do this,
I will need to:
A. Increase my customer base by 15%
B. Increase the number of times my customers buy from me by 20%
C. Raise prices by 10%    

Having developed a basic plan, it’s time to identify the constraints you think may get in the way of successful implementation.

Consider the following:
1. Inside the business, what are the principal constraints on our growth? Some possibilities: · Lack of capital (financing) · Lack of credit from suppliers · Too many customers owing you money · Underperforming owners / attitude issues · Underperforming staff / attitude issues · Internal conflicts · Lack of direction · Outdated technology · Lack of marketing · Missing skills · Retirement and succession issues · Undesirable customers · Excessive payroll · High occupancy costs    
2. Outside the business, what are the principle constraints on our growth? · The economy · Regulations · Competition · Demographics · Energy prices · Shipping costs  

What you should find is that you can’t do much about the outside constraints but you can do a lot about the internal constraints. For more business tips, why don’t you download our free “57 Ways to Grow your Business” book.  For a one to one meeting to make sure your getting the most from your business plan, contact Sharon Rose-Bloy to arrange a convenient time and date at

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