Financial issues that keep you awake No.5 – Finding funding

Today we’re continuing our countdown of the financial concerns that affect business owners’ sleep patterns.


The data comes from KPMG Small Business Accounting, who interviewed 250 business leaders to see what keeps them awake at night.


Today’s concern, at number 5 on the list, is raising finance for growth or expansion.


14.2% of respondents earmarked this as a current concern they’d not addressed yet.


21.3% said they were working to resolve this problem.


13.5% said it was a previous concern that’d they’d now resolved.


That’s 49.1% of business leaders who felt a lack of finance for growth was causing them to lose sleep.


It could be that finding sources of finance is something that may be traditionally outside of the remit of a hired accountant, leaving the business owners to worry about it themselves.


Other issues on the KPMG list were considered less problematic, such as filing tax returns on time and correctly.


This would be because the business owners knew their accountants were prioritising such tasks, so it was all in hand.


However, it seems that simply asking your accountant to help out with finding funding could be a way to alleviate those concerns.


68.0% of respondents found this to be successful. And, if your accountant can’t help you out, maybe it’s time to find one who can.


This is backed up by the 76.0% approval rate from those who changed their accountant.


The other successful tactic was to move to cloud-based accounting, which is unlikely to be applicable to this particular problem.


A good accountant should be able to check your financial forecasts so you have the best possible chance of receiving funding.


They can make sure your business plan and forecasts are tight and realistic, which will be advantageous when applying for a loan from a bank or a government grant.


They should also know what other types of funding you may be eligible for due to their experience within the accounting profession.


Overall, knowing that someone can make your business look as attractive as possible to potential investors should reduce most of the worries you have about the issue.


Find an accountant to help you out right here:



Financial issues that keep you awake No.6 – Up-to-date bookkeeping

I’ve been reading a report from KPMG Small Business Accounting about how finance-related concerns affect business owners’ sleep patterns.


From a survey of 250 business leaders, the report looks at the issues that affect them the worst, the approaches they’ve taken to get a better night’s sleep, and the impact it’s had on their business.


It’s quite worrying to read that 53.6% of small business owners have finance-related worries that stop them getting a decent night’s sleep on a regular basis.


More than one in eight believe that such concerns interfere with their sleep most nights.


The report makes it quite clear what the main areas of concern are though.


Luckily they’re also issues that can be solved quite easily.


In true Top of the Pops style I’ll work through them in reverse order, starting (unusually) at number 6…


6. Ensuring bookkeeping is kept up to date


24.8% of the business owners said this was a former concern, now resolved.


14% said it was a current concern they’re working to resolve.


19% said it was a current concern, but not addressed yet.


Some people believe that bookkeeping and accounting are the same thing. Not quite – bookkeeping is keeping an accurate and complete record of all transactions, while accounting involves analysing those records.


Bookkeeping can be work intensive, which is why it’s probably an issue for small business owners who have to do everything themselves.


It’s easy to feel swamped, and if you’re having to make a product, market it, sell it, put in the hours in a shop, visit clients etc. you may never have the time to sit at a desk with a calculator or spreadsheet and work out your incomings and outgoings.


You’ll work longer hours, into the night, and… lose sleep.


It’s an easy job to outsource though. You don’t necessarily have to do it yourself.


And there’s loads of people out there who’d do it for you.


It’d be one less thing to worry about.


Some of them can be found here:


It might just help you sleep better.



Confused by the budget?

It’s a practical advice day today.


After the budget announcement yesterday, it looks like National Insurance contributions for self-employed workers will go up.


This is obviously not good news for small business owners.


However, apparently any business losing their small business rate relief will benefit from a cap, which prevents the rate they pay from going up by more than £50 per month.


This is only being introduced of course to try to placate those hit hardest by the recent increase in business rates.


That’s not all – income tax allowances for the self-employed will be increasing come the new financial year.


So would you be better off, or not?


It can be hard to see how the overall picture will affect you and your business.


In times like this it might be better to consult a professional, who’ll have seen it all before.


You’ll need a good one though.


Here’s where to find one, with our list of questions to ask an accountant before hiring:



Employers! Do you know what you want?

Some straight-up advice for employers today.


It’s a lesson in what not to do during the recruitment process.


It might sound a little “ranty”, but it’s not, I promise.


A few years ago I applied for a copywriting job at an ecommerce company.


I met all the criteria in the job description and person specification, and was invited for an interview.


It went great – I gave good, thorough answers to show I knew my stuff and felt I gave a good account of myself.


I also got on great with the interviewers, they were nice people.


But two whole weeks after the interview, I finally got an email telling me I hadn’t got the job.




Because I hadn’t had any previous experience at a marketing agency.


Normally I’d say “fair enough”, but it seemed especially annoying because that wasn’t in the job description or person specification.


If that was an essential requirement for getting the job, then perhaps they should have said.


What’s more, despite not having that particular quality I was invited to an interview.


Ultimately, it just made me feel like I’d wasted my time. What’s more, I’ll never understand why’d they’d waste their time on a candidate who didn’t have the required experience.


It’s that kind of thing that can damage a company’s reputation, and can make them seem amateur.


It’s easy to avoid though. Just think about what qualities and experience you need a potential employee to have, and then eliminate anyone who doesn’t match that.




And you can learn how to do that and translate it into a job advert right here:


It won’t waste your time, honest.



Sheer genius? Ed knows his target market

According to The Official Chart update, all 16 tracks from Ed Sheeran’s new album Divide (÷) have charted in the UK Top 40.


Nine of the Top 10 songs are by Sheeran. Crazy days.


One of them, Galway Girl, is a strange novelty effort with half-rapped lyrics that namecheck Dublin’s Grafton Street with an Irish fiddle backing track last heard on B*Witched’s C’est la Vie.


According to a recent interview with the Guardian, Sheeran said his record label weren’t keen on it being included on the album.


“They were really, really against Galway Girl, because apparently folk music isn’t cool. But there’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish.


“You meet them in America all the time: ‘I’m a quarter Irish and I’m from Donegal.’ And those type of people are going to love it.”


Turns out he was right and they were wrong, as it’s currently at number 3 in the UK and already gone to number 1 in Ireland.


You could argue it’s a classic case of knowing your target market, and one that could translate to business.


Sheeran’s market research will stem from constant gigging, using social media, and experience of what works in the world of pop.


He even identifies that there’s been a “huge gap in the market” for that kind of thing since The Corrs, and actively tried to plug it.


For your business, it’s going to be slightly different – but the fundamentals are the same.


As Sheeran shows, it pays to know your audience.


Find out how to research your own target market right here:



The recruitment process blues

I’ve just been reading an interesting debate on the business forums.


It’s about how a builder is really struggling to find – and retain – a new employee for their firm.


In his own words: “I’m currently trying to recruit a new joiner but just can’t seem to find anyone suitable.


“I’m offering decent money and conditions. I’ve had a few guys out on trial who just weren’t good, and another few who’ve lasted a day then said it wasn’t for them.


“I can’t work out why. We’re a good team and all the guys I have are pleasant and polite. We do work hard, maybe some people just want an easy life!”


This query got a good response from the message board, with several reasons as to why things hadn’t worked out.


Here are a few:


  • Good staff are hard to come by
  • Maybe your company benefits aren’t as good as you think
  • Try getting an apprentice (he’d already tried)
  • Pay more for a more experienced employee


Fair suggestions, but it wasn’t until later that someone said what I’d been thinking – maybe the recruitment process needed tightening up.


When it comes down to it, if you’re employing people who aren’t right for your company, people aren’t going to stick around.


Employing the wrong person costs money, takes up valuable time, and puts a strain on other employees who have to take on the burden of extra work.


And you keep having to repeat the process, as this business owner found out.


There are so many stages where the recruitment process goes wrong.


By the sounds of this, it could be anywhere from writing an accurate job description and posting an advert where applicants can find it, to filtering out candidates who are completely unsuited through interviews.


But how to do all this right first time?


Find out here:



Web design and positive reinforcement

I’ve been lurking on the business forums again.


This time I’ve been reading website reviews, something that members of the forum can request from other members.


Someone simply posts the link to their site, and the others tell them how it can be improved.


The odd thing is that the site owners then very rarely take the advice on board.


They’ll get a reply saying something like: “you should change the layout, no-one can find the link to buy your product”, but then totally ignore it.


They’ll then often try to justify why they’ve made a terrible design choice, as if the other users “don’t get” their vision, and it makes total sense in their own head.


What’s the point in asking for feedback when you have no intention of using it?


Either that or the reality of redesigning things or going back to their web designer seems like too much hard work.


Or maybe they were looking for positive reinforcement rather than criticism?


One thing it proves is that web design isn’t easy, and is something you may have to keep coming back to in order to get right (if you’re willing!).


But naturally, you need to start somewhere before tweaking the minor details.


Here’s something that can help you get your business online:


Have a good weekend!



6 free tips for business accounting

Blatant plug today.

We’ve updated our website to include our brand new courses, starting with the Guide to Accounts for Small Businesses.

It’s packed full of useful info so you can keep your finances nice and tight:


  • How to calculate your break-even point
  • Calculate a cash flow forecast
  • Calculate a profit and loss forecast
  • Calculate a balance sheet
  • Recommended accounting software
  • Managing your cash flow


AND it comes bundled with ready-made Excel spreadsheets for each of the financial forecasts, so you won’t even have to work anything out yourself.

Yours for £9.99 so it’s more than worth it.

BUT if I was you, I’d download our free six tips for accounting first just so you really get your money’s worth. Here it is:


#Startup motivationals don’t #help

It’s a new month. The first day of Spring?


Doesn’t feel like it yet – as proven by the frost on my car windscreen that needed clearing before I came to work this morning.


Twitter seems to think so though, with the #FirstDayOfSpring hashtag trending good and proper all day long.


Out of interest, I decided to search for a hashtag that relates to our line of work.


#StartUp. After a few seconds looking at the top results there’s very little there that’s actually helpful for anyone wanting to start a new business.


It’s just a load of motivationals – cheesy, clichéd pictures with some quote about bettering yourself. Like this:


“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no-one alive who is youer than you.”


What does that even mean? Why does it relate to business start-ups?


“Youer”. That’s Dr Seuss isn’t it?


Here’s another:


“Falling down is how we grow. Staying down is how we die.” With a picture of Russell Crowe in Gladiator next to it.


Great! But how do I work out my tax return? Probably won’t feel like growing when saddled with a big fat tax bill due to not having any actual advice available.


One more:


“Memories take us back. Dreams take us forward.” Retweeted 124 times.


Are people into this? Are actual entrepreneurs sitting there thinking “yeah man, so true!”


Doubt it.


If you want genuine help with your #StartUp forget the motivationals and have a look here: