Getting good SME business start-up advice

Getting good SME business start-up adviceA survey that was carried out by AVIVA earlier this year has revealed that many small and medium-sized employers fail to seek expert advice when starting up their businesses, with 85%of employers not understanding their legal obligations.

It was also revealed in the same SME start-up survey that:

  • 40% of business owners said they relied on advice from friends and family when starting up
  • 13% used financial advisors
  • Only 9% of business owners had consulted legal advisers

The research also suggested that 75% of the respondents knew very little about sales, marketing and bookkeeping, with over 30% finding financial administration the biggest challenge in the first 12 to 18 months of starting up.

Over a third of employers also didn’t think they were affected by auto-enrolment.

Getting good SME business start-up advice

At Omni Chartered Accountants, Wolverhampton, we are dedicated to helping new start businesses and pride ourselves in our personable and honest approach. Our fees are highly competitive and we are always there to offer advice and guidance to our valued clients.

Why not request a free or charge call-back from our website today or call 01902 837 408 – alternatively click here to make an online enquiry and we will come straight back to you!

Top 5 tips for productive business meetings

BusinTop 5 tips for productive business meetings ess meetings are a great way to put a face to a voice or name, and to build relationships with suppliers and clients.

But are your business meetings productive? Poor planning or meetings for meetings’ sake could all be a waste of your valuable time and end up being counter-productive in the worst-case scenario.

Here are our top 5 tips for productive business meetings:

1. Be prepared for your meeting

Always have an agenda outlined and have copies for any attendees to hand – it also helps to email them over to anyone who is coming to the meeting beforehand in case they would like to add something, or if there is something you have missed or would like to research prior to the meeting date.

2. Be certain about your objectives

Do you want to solve problems, build a relationship, sign off a deal or project, sell a company service or network?

3. Time costs money

Once you have identified your meeting objective clearly, you can set about allocating a time slot. Time is money, so have a think about how long your meeting should last and try and stick to it if you can – we all know that meetings can often over-run unnecessarily!

4. Get involved

Be aware of your involvement and contribute and lead wherever possible – at the same time, try and give attendees the chance to participate!

5. Be a host

Of course, it goes without saying that tea, coffee or soft drinks should be offered but remember that small snacks are also usually very welcome; even small acts of kindness like offering biscuits usually help forge relationships.

We speak to many small business owners who don’t value their time nearly enough – an afternoon or day away from the office can be costly and often also involve plenty of stressful catching up!

If the meeting is unproductive, this can only lead to frustration.

Follow us on Twitter @OmnitasTax to keep up to date with our latest blogs specially written with the UK SME in mind – and remember, we are always here to help advice and guide with business matters as well as offering cost-effective, professional accountancy solutions!

Are you addicted to the busy drug?

Are you addicted to the busy drug? We see many clients during a working week and understand what commitments mean to anyone who is running a business. As such, we are very happy to accommodate working around our clients’ individual business needs.

What we also see is a whole variety of “I’m really busy” scenarios.

When you are your own boss, on occasions it is well worth reminding yourself of certain things. One pivotal and critical element is your own time – you as a resource. Are you being productive? Are you focusing on the correct and most efficient parts of your business?

Are you addicted to the busy drug?

It appears that many of us can, at times, become addicted to the ‘being busy drug’. But let’s be really clear.

Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being:

  1. Effective
  2. A success
  3. Important

Being busy could actually mean that:

  1. You have poor organisational skills and fail to delegate
  2. You are a people pleaser who cannot say no
  3. You are suffering from a lack of clarity regarding your actual purpose

So please, never ever confuse being busy with being effective. Instead, spend a little more time trying to stop and understand what you’re aiming to achieve, before you move on to take action.

At Omni Chartered Accountants, we are not just here to ensure we assist with your accountancy needs; we also care about your success and want to see your business flourish.

So as well as taking our Accountancy Price Challenge, to see how we could save you money with your accountancy bills, why not give us a call today on 01902 837 408 for some free of charge business advice?

Self-employment tips – part two

Self-employment tips – part one

In part two of our special self-employment feature, we take a look at some more important factors that you should consider.

Get a business bank account

As a sole trader, although your business income will be taxed alongside your personal tax, it is vital to keep your business records and finances separate from your personal affairs.

For this reason, we recommend you open a separate business bank account. Shop around, as you can usually find deals offering you up to 24 months free business banking.

Typically, your new account will be “John Bloggs trading as, or T/A, your Business Name”. Once again, it looks more professional to have your business name on cheques and invoices.

If you’re likely to hold cash for some time, you should also open a business deposit account to get a little interest on your money, even if rates are still at historic lows.

Keep accurate and up-to-date financial records

To be a successful sole trader, you must keep on top of your books.

From the start, you are obliged to keep clear and accurate records of all your business transactions. Not only will this ensure that you keep the tax authorities happy, but you’ll find it so much easier to operate your business if you are organised and your paperwork is constantly updated. Check out online systems like cashflow, sage and Xero.

When the time comes to submit your VAT return (if you’re VAT registered), pass your accounts information to your accountant and complete your annual self-assessment tax return, you’ll be able to get these done quickly and efficiently – giving you more time to work on your new business.

Need advice?

We hope that you enjoyed our Self-employment tips – Part Two and found it useful – don’t forget to check out part one of our special self-employment feature too, if you did.

If you need guidance about becoming self-employed, Omni Chartered Accountants are happy to help – request a free of charge call back from our website today or click here and we will contact you to discuss your situation.

Self-employment tips – part one

Self-employment tips – part one

One of the main benefits of becoming self-employed is the ease with which you can start up and run your new business.

In part one of our special feature, we take a look at some of the important things that you may wish to consider before taking the plunge.

You can even become a sole trader (another term for self-employed) whilst working as an employee for someone else, so you can test the water and see if you’re suited to working for yourself.

Here are first top tips for when you decide to go self-employed:

How to register as self-employed with HMRC

Once you set up as a sole trader (or work as a partner in a partnership if there’s more than one of you), you will be responsible for paying your own income tax and National Insurance (NICs).

You must register as self-employed with HMRC within three months of starting trading, even if you already pay tax via the self-assessment process each year. You can register online or call HMRC on 0845 915 4515 if you’d prefer to speak to someone.

If you are unsure whether or not you need to register with HMRC, here is some help to establish whether you are employed or self-employed.

Once you start operating as self-employed, you will need to pay your own National Insurance contributions (NICs).

Do you need to register for VAT?

As of April 2015, if your business has an annual turnover of £82,000 or more, you must register for VAT.

At any stage of the business cycle, if you look like you’re going to hit this annual VAT threshold over the coming 12 months, you must also register. The threshold usually rises by a few thousand each year. Make sure you let HMRC know within 30 days, or risk paying a fine.

In many cases, you might decide to register for VAT even if you don’t need to. You may gain more credibility by having a VAT number, and you’ll be able to claim the VAT back on eligible purchases you make.

You might also consider the flat rate VAT scheme, which makes accounting for VAT much simpler. Your accountant will be able to advise you if you’d be better off on the Flat Rate or standard VAT scheme.

Need advice?

We hope that you have enjoyed our Self-employment tips – part one.

If you need advice about becoming self-employed, we are here to help – request a free of charge call back from our website or click here and we will contact you to discuss your situation.

When should we put a share agreement in place?

When should we put a share agreement in place?

Usually, it is best to put a shareholders’ agreement in place when you form the company and issue the first shares. In fact, it can be a positive exercise to ensure there is common understanding of shareholders’ expectations of the business.

At that point, the shareholders should, as far as is possible, be of a similar mind about what they expect to offer and get from the company. Indeed if the differences of opinion between you at this stage are too strong to form a shareholders’ agreement, it is likely to ring warning bells about the nature of your future working relationship.

When should we put a share agreement in place?

You may choose to defer discussing a shareholders’ agreement in order to get on with the important task of establishing the business. While you may have every intention of return to it at a later date when there is more time, the appropriate opportunity may not arise and something else always takes priority.

Even if you do pick it up later, by then the shareholders’ expectations and feelings towards the business may have diverged, making it more difficult for them to agree to the terms that should be included in the shareholders’ agreement.

What should I ask to be included in a shareholders’ agreement?

This, as described above, will depend on your level of shareholding and the number of your fellow shareholders.  The key provisions, however, that you should consider including in a shareholders’ agreement are those relating to:

  • Issuing and transferring shares – including provisions to prevent unwanted third parties acquiring shares and how a shareholder can sell shares.
  • Providing some protection to holders of less than 50% of the shares – including requiring certain decisions to be agreed by all shareholders.
  • Running the company – including appointing, removing and paying directors, deciding on the company’s business, making large capital outlays, providing management information to shareholders, banking arrangements and financing the company.
  • Paying dividends
  • Competition restrictions
  • Dispute resolution procedures

We will look at these and other things you might want to include in a shareholders’ agreement in a forthcoming article.

It is possible that the contents of the shareholders’ agreement may overlap with other company documents, particularly the articles of association. The articles will, for example, contain provisions relating to decision making and transfers of shares and in another article we explored what investors should look for in a company’s articles of association.

Consider seeking legal advice if you are not sure which provisions to include in which documents, but overall do ensure that the shareholders’ agreement and articles of association are consistent with one another.

To find out more, feel free to request a free of charge call back from our website or click here and we will contact you by return.

What is a shareholders’ agreement?

What is a shareholders’ agreement? limited company structure, majority shareholder, minority shareholder, partnerships, shareholder agreement, shareholder rights, small business, SME, dividendA shareholders’ agreement is, as you might expect, an agreement between the shareholders of a company.
It can be between all or, in some cases, only some of the shareholders (like, for instance, the holders of a particular class of share).

Its purpose is to protect the shareholders’ investment in the company, to establish a fair relationship between the shareholders and govern how the company is run.

A shareholders’ agreement will:

  • Set out the shareholders’ rights and obligations
  • Regulate the sale of shares in the company
  • Describe how the company is going to be run
  • Provide an element of protection for minority shareholders and the company
  • Define how important decisions are to be made

The shareholders’ agreement will contain specific, important and practical rules relating to the company and the relationship between the shareholders.

How will a shareholders’ agreement help me if I am a minority shareholder?

Without a shareholders’ agreement, a minority shareholder (one owning less than 50% of the shares) will on their own have little control or say in the running of the company. Indeed, the control will often rest with one or two shareholders.

Companies are generally run by majority decision and even if the articles of association include provisions that protect the minority, these can be changed via special resolution by holders of 75% of the shares.  There are laws that provide limited protection to minority shareholders but these can be costly to enforce and may not achieve the required redress.

Protecting your rights as a minority shareholder

Being a minority shareholder and having a shareholders’ agreement that includes the requirement for all shareholders to approve certain decisions ensures that you have a say in the important decisions that impact the company.

This could be decisions on the issue of new shares, appointment or removal of directors, taking on new borrowings or changing the main trade.  However, if the shareholders’ agreement requires all decision to be unanimous this could cause problems and ultimately prevent your company carrying out its business.

As a minority shareholder, you may want a provision included that if someone is willing to buy the shares of a majority shareholder, that shareholder can only sell the shares if the same offer is made to all shareholders including you as a minority shareholder. This is often referred to as a “tag along” provision. This should then ensure that you receive the same return on your investment as the other shareholders.

How will a shareholders’ agreement help a majority shareholder?

If, as the majority shareholder, you want to sell your shares but a minority shareholder is unwilling to agree then including a provision forcing that shareholder to sell their shares is important.

This is often referred to as a “drag along” provision.  This will then allow you to realise your investment at a time and price that you feel is appropriate.  Obviously the price and other payments for the sale will need to be fair for all shareholders, including the minority shareholders.

In addition you would want to prevent minority shareholders passing on confidential company information to competitors or setting up rival businesses, each of which can be included as a provision within a shareholders’ agreement.

Another concern is where one of your fellow shareholders could transfer their shares to anyone.  This could cause problems for you and the other shareholders, especially if the sale is to a competitor or someone else you do not want involved with the company.

Conversely, however, to force an unhappy shareholder to stay may cause more problems than having a new unknown shareholder who is interested in the company being successful.  You and your fellow shareholders need to get on with each other for the business to thrive.  To overcome these problems, shareholders’ agreements will often include rules around share sales and transfers – who shares can be transferred to, on what terms and at what price.

In our blog tomorrow, we will discuss when the best time is to put a share agreement in place. In the meantime, if you have any queries or would like to discuss your situation in more detail, request a free of charge call back from our website or click here and we will contact you by return.

Do you need a shareholder agreement?

Do you need a shareholder agreement?

When setting up a company with family or friends it is easy to assume that nothing can go wrong in the future.

You might assume that – as you trust one another – you do not need to put in place something like a shareholders’ agreement. In fact, you might think that asking for a shareholders’ agreement will make it sound like you don’t trust or respect your new business partners.

Hopefully, nothing will go wrong in the future – after all, nobody sets out expecting it to! However, even family members and best friends fall out and, unforeseen circumstances can occur.

If the worst should happen, you could then end up with nothing. Or you might face the breakdown of a friendship alongside a costly and acrimonious legal dispute related to the business.

Why do you need a shareholders’ agreement?

Although the company’s articles of association will help to some extent, a fully considered and well drafted shareholders’ agreement can act as a safeguard and give you and your fellow shareholders more protection against these types of scenario.

Although some people with a shareholders’ agreement will never need to rely on its terms, there will be many more cases where shareholders wish they had taken the time to put a proper agreement in place.

If you are going into business with others and are looking for confidence about your future relationships with them, you should carefully consider putting a shareholders’ agreement in place to protect both the business enterprise and your own investment in the company.

Our next blog will explain what a shareholder agreement is – in the meantime, if you have any queries or would like to discuss your situation in more detail, request a free of charge call back from our website or click here and we will contact you by return.

Getting your Self Employed tax return right

Getting your Self Employed tax return rightTo work out whether you must pay income tax, you need to fill in the self-employment supplement (SA103) as well as the main tax return.

Usually, this is sent to you automatically once you’ve registered as being self-employed.

If you have registered but don’t receive one, you can download it from the HMRC website or get a copy by calling the HMRC orderline (0845 900 0404).

Tax return supplements

There are now two tax return supplements – a short one and a full one.

You can fill in the short one if your turnover for 2014/15 was £77,000 or less and there are no complications like a change of accounting date, for example.

However, you cannot use the short one if your accounting period is not the same as your basis period (i.e. your business year), so you may not be able to use it in the first year. The onus is on you to make sure you get the right supplement.

Getting the right advice and an affordable accountant

Of course, by instructing an accountant, you can avoid worrying about this – self employed tax return services from Omni Chartered Accountants start from as little as £95.

Getting your Self Employed tax return right

To find out more, request a free of charge call back from our website or click here and we will contact you at your convenience to discuss the options available to you.


ICAEW report shows gender pay gap in accountancy practices widens

ICAEW report shows gender pay gap in accountancy practices widensAccording to the latest survey from ICAEW, the gender pay gap for accountants working in the business sector has widened. Women over the age of 45 have experienced the biggest drop in salaries from 2014, according to the institute and Stott & May.

Male chartered accountants earn an average salary of £100,900 whereas females earn an average of £63,900 – this gap has widened since 2014 by 5.4%.

Women over 45 experienced an average salary drop of £6,500 compared to the previous year; this is despite men of the same age category enjoying an increase of £4,200.

The pay gap is at its smallest for among chartered accountants under the age of 30.

ICAEW report shows gender pay gap in accountancy practices widens

Sharron Gunn, ICAEW commercial executive director, said;

“We need to face the hard truth that there has been desperately slow progress to correct the gender pay gap, given the Equal Pay Act was introduced 45 years ago. While it’s a national trend across all professions, we have a gender pay gap problem in accountancy too.

“With men more likely to hold more senior posts and chartered accountancy being a route into leading businesses, we must look again at how businesses are developing their pipeline of female leaders.”

What do you think about the gender difference in earnings – is it fair and actually, is it at all modern? Is this latest report down to the age of the individuals who have experienced the wider gap and the positions that they hold now? Will the younger generation change the outcome for the future when it comes to equal earning potential for men and women?

We would love to hear from you @OmnitasTax or why not join in the conversation on Facebook!