How to start-up in the technology sector

Many of the best-known technology businesses were started by individuals, often working from their own living rooms. If you have an idea you think could meet a need within the IT sector and generate a healthy profit, how do you go about setting up in business?
Write a business plan
Firstly, you need to have a very clear idea about what you are aiming to do. You will almost certainly need funding to develop your idea and the people you approach for money will want to see evidence of viability, including financial forecasts and projections, before investing. Bear in mind that many start-ups fail first time around: although you may have a great idea, putting it into practice will take time, effort and know-how.
Choose the right structure
Next, you may need help with choosing how to structure your company, whether it is as a sole trader or one of the various types of partnership. Forging ahead with your idea will need planning and the paperwork to back it up, however tedious it may seem. You must make sure you have documents to support your type of business and put in place systems for recording tax, income, pay and outgoings.
Protect your ideas
If you have an original idea which you are planning to market, it may be considered intellectual property. There are four main ways of protecting your concept so that it isn’t copied or taken advantage of:
• designs
• trademarks
• copyright
• patents.

If you’re developing technology, a patent could protect it. Or, you could register the design if it is an original one. A trade secret can be useful if the way your technology has been developed makes it difficult to copy.

Talk to an expert
Don’t underestimate the value of talking through your ideas and plans with others who have experience of the type of product or area of the market you are targeting. If you don’t already have contacts that can help, there are plenty of tech networking events taking place around the UK. You could also make use of business incubators (often linked to Universities), which can offer advice, business understanding or office space. Accelerators aim to kick-start business growth by providing hands-on help from experts in your field.

Find the funds to get started
Approaching a bank, venture capital firm or ‘business angel’ will require you to have a very well thought out plan, with clear expectations of business growth backed up by detailed market research. If successful, securing these types of funding may come with the additional benefit of specialist advice or mentoring support.

If you’re forming a technology start-up which aims to have social benefits, it may be worth researching grants, as there may not be an obvious financial return to attract traditional forms of investment. What about crowdfunding? If your business would benefit from a network of supporters to spread the word, this could be a great way of securing finance from a wide range of different sources.

Contact us to discuss your plans
Starting up in business is never easy but if you’re clear about your aim, can convince others of its potential and are open to advice and support from others, your tech start-up will have a better chance of success than most.

At Arram Berlyn Gardner, we can help you to review your business concept and provide you with helpful and constructive feedback to move forward. Contact us to start the conversation.

John Donohoe

Telephone 020 7330 0000

 

Establishing bonus and commission schemes for sales staff

Sales staff can play a key part in the success of a business. Motivating and retaining the best of them is vital. So what factors do you need to consider when setting up a reward scheme for your sales team?

Money as a motivator

Money is a key motivator for many employees and, as a result, most reward schemes for sales staff are based around the payment of bonuses or commission on top of basic salary. Tax and NI will be payable on all of these but how they are weighted will depend on the type and size of business.

Paying a smaller salary in lieu of a larger bonus or commission will mean there is a greater focus on achieving targets and will reduce the pressure on salaries. But it’s important that the salesperson does not feel completely demotivated if a sale does not happen. Too much of a reliance on commission or bonus can also result in poorer customer satisfaction, as salespeople go after their reward with less regard for building good relationships with customers.

Bonus or commission?

Let’s look at the difference in how bonuses and commission are structured. A bonus is usually paid when a particular target is achieved. This could be linked to a single objective, or multiple business objectives – around revenue, profits or productivity, for example. In larger organisations, a bonus scheme can relate to local targets and/or be linked to overall company performance. A bonus scheme can also be used for retaining staff – you agree to pay a bonus after a certain period of time if targets are met, for example. 

Commission involves paying a percentage of what the contract won is worth. As a result, there is a clear link between the amount of business the employee brings in and the amount of financial reward. However, if lots of employees are involved in the sales process it may be difficult to correctly allocate the commission. You must be clear about which areas of the business are involved.

Individual or team?

One factor to consider is whether bonuses should be based on individual or team performance. Will everyone get a chance to work towards the target, or will the bonus be awarded to the highest performer? On the face of it, team targets may help to bring staff together in pursuit of a common goal. All employees can potentially benefit from the company’s success, but drawing up a reward scheme which is fair to all can be difficult. If business is lost by a lack of after-sales support, will the salesperson that originally brought in the business be affected? Additionally, high-achieving sales staff may resent ‘carrying’ less successful colleagues if they are bringing in a disproportionate amount of business.

Reviewing progress

You will also need to decide how often progress towards the bonus or commission will be reviewed and how your sales data will be analysed to establish whether they can be awarded. You should review any reward systems you put in place regularly to check they are still having the desired results, both for the employee and the business.

It may also be helpful to look at offering other benefits, as bonuses and commission may not be the best way of motivating all staff. Both bonuses and commission can be affected by external factors such as an economic downturn and, ultimately, any reward scheme you put in place needs to finance itself.

If you are looking to implement this kind of scheme and need advice, Arram Berlyn Gardner can help.  Call us on 020 7330 0000 or email abglondon@abggroup.co.uk for further information.

 

Paul Berlyn

 

Joint accounts less attractive to couple

Joint accounts less attractive to couples!

A third of couples don’t have a joint bank account, according to research by Thinkmoney.

The survey of 2,000 adults found that 31 per cent of respondents in a relationship use their own accounts rather than sharing with their partner.

The research also found that:
64 per cent of couples have individual accounts, even if they share a joint one
33 per cent have a joint account but at least one partner also has their own
25 per cent of couples have a joint account but have also bothkept their own individual accounts
34 per cent share an account with their partner, rather than having individual accounts.

The research revealed that age is a factor for couples deciding whether to open a joint account:
Nearly half of couples over 55 have a joint account rather than individual accounts
At 24 per cent, couples aged between 25 and 34 are least likely to share an account.

Ian Williams from Thinkmoney said:

“Increasingly, choosing to share your life with somebody doesn’t mean that you will share your finances with them too. There’s a lot to be said for maintaining financial independence, but having separate accounts can make budgeting and managing shared expenses such as rent or mortgage, childcare costs and household bills more complex.”

Elsewhere, a study by the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) showed that UK adults see being ‘good at managing money’ as an essential trait in their partner.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults who were either in a long-term relationship or had recent experience of one revealed that good financial management skills were more desirable than looks or car and home ownership.

The NEST study also revealed:
people who’d recently become single were even more likely to look for someone who manages their finances well
nine out of ten of those surveyed said ‘good financial planning’ is important for happy relationships
the top financial priorities are now saving for a rainy day and pension saving.

Graham Vidler from NEST said: “Financial planning is clearly becoming much more of a priority, which is welcome news. Not only are people prioritising their own finances, but it’s clearly important for other parts of their lives – relationships, potential relationships and plans for their future.”

Manufacturers plan to increase investmen

Manufacturers plan to increase investment

Small manufacturers are planning to increase investment during 2014, according to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The latest CBI SME Trends Survey of over 300 small and medium-sized manufacturers found that investment intentions were the highest in recent years:

Plans to spend on buildings hit a balance of +14 per cent, the strongest since the data began in October 1988
Plans to invest in plant and machinery also registered a +14 per cent balance, the strongest since July 1995.

Although the prospects for future investment are positive, the sector’s performance in the three months to January 2014 was mixed: The survey showed that:
37 per cent of firms saw an increase in total new orders and 23 per cent reported a decrease
34 per cent reported increased domestic orders and 26 per cent said they decreased
The balance for domestic orders stands at +8 per cent, a slower rate of growth than in the last survey (+20 per cent)
30 per cent reported declining export orders, while 23 per cent said they increased
30 per cent of firms saw increased output but 24 per cent posted a decrease
Although employment grew (+4 per cent), faster growth was anticipated (+14 per cent).

Stephen Gifford, director of economics at the CBI, said:

“As the recovery takes hold, the investment cycle is starting to turn. It’s encouraging to see small manufacturers planning to boost investment, particularly in their plant, machinery and buildings.

“Orders and output continued to grow at a healthy pace, although not as fast as predicted. However, firms remain optimistic about prospects, with growth in orders and production expected to accelerate.”

Real Time Information extension for micr

Real Time Information extension for micro employers

Micro employers will be given until April 2016 to adapt to the real time information (RTI) system for reporting PAYE payments, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced.

Micro employers – those with fewer than 10 employees – who need more time to adapt to RTI can continue reporting PAYE information on or before the last payday in the tax month until April 2016.

Under RTI, employers must send employee PAYE information to HMRC in real time, rather than at the year-end.

A separate extension allows companies with fewer than 50 employees to continue reporting PAYE information by the date of their regular payroll run but no later than the end of the tax month in which the payments are made until April 2014. The new extension for micro businesses is separate to this arrangement.

If you wish to discuss any element of this article please email abglondon@abggroup.co.uk

Making the most of your savings In today

Making the most of your savings

In today’s climate of low interest rates, it can be difficult to secure a good return on your savings and investments. Yet with careful planning, and by utilising tax breaks and allowances, there may be steps you can take to maximise their value.

Tax on savings income
Savings income (which includes all types of interest) paid net is usually taxed at source at 20%. Dividends on UK equities carry a (non-repayable) tax credit of 10%.

Tax paid unnecessarily on bank and building society interest can be reclaimed using form R40, while non-taxpayers can register to receive interest without tax being deducted by completing form R85.

Tax breaks are also available when saving into a pension, subject to certain limits.

Pension contributions made up to the level of earnings (or £3,600 if greater) attract tax relief, but note that pension inputs exceeding the annual allowance (£50,000 for policy years ending in 2013/14) may be subject to a tax charge.

Tax-efficient savings and investments
Paying tax on your savings and investment earnings should be minimised or avoided if possible. There are a number of tax-efficient savings and investments available.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
Up to £11,520 can be invested in an ISA this tax year, of which up to £5,760 can be invested in cash. 16 and 17-year-olds are able to invest up to £5,760 in a cash ISA. Junior ISAs, for those aged under 18 who do not have a Child Trust Fund account, allow investment of up to £3,720 in 2013/14.

Although income accruing in an ISA does so tax-free, the tax credit on UK dividend income cannot be recovered. All investments held in ISAs are free of CGT.

Withdrawals can be made at any time without loss of tax relief, although some plan managers offer incentives, such as better rates of interest, in return for a commitment to restrictions such as a 90-day notice period for withdrawals. It is worth shopping around online for the best deals, particularly with interest rates for many ISAs currently being relatively low.

National savings
Income and capital bonds – Interest is liable to income tax, but paid gross. Income bonds pay interest (variable) monthly. On capital bonds, the interest (guaranteed for five years) is added to the capital annually.

Children’s bonds – These may be bought by anyone over 16 for individuals under 16. Interest is guaranteed for five years at a time until the holder is 21. The bonds are completely tax-free, which is an important feature for parents (normally parents are liable to tax on interest/income over £100 on gifts to their children).

Premium bonds – Instead of paying interest, monthly prize draws are held. Despite a recent cut in the prize fund rate, there is still a tax-free £1 million jackpot and over a million other cash prizes.

Alternative tax-efficient options
Investments under the Enterprise Investment Scheme or Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and investments in Venture Capital Trusts are, generally, higher-risk. However, tax breaks aimed at encouraging new risk capital may mean that they have a place in your investment strategy.

A number of rules and conditions apply to investments made under these schemes, so please contact us for further information and advice.

Time for a review?
With new rates and deals regularly coming onto the market, it is important to review and assess the performance of your savings and investment strategy.

A regular review will help you to maximise your potential income and keep your tax liability to a legal minimum, whilst helping to ensure that your savings strategy is still on track.
Please contact us to discover how we can help you plan to minimise your tax liability and achieve your personal financial goals.

SME population hits six-year high The nu

SME population hits six-year high

The number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK reached a six-year high of 2.16 million in 2013, according to the National Association for Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB).

The data reveals that 86,435 SMEs have been created in the past two years, increasing the SME population by 4.2 per cent. This follows the loss of 80,615 small businesses between 2008 and 2011.

The NACFB’s SME Growth Monitor also revealed that since 2011:
• England is leading the SME revival with 4.6 per cent growth
• SME growth outperforms large business growth by 0.9 per cent
• Nine out of ten UK industries have seen SME growth
• The professional, scientific and technical sector has seen the largest increase with 35,905 new businesses
• The information and communication sector created 18,025 new SMEs.
Chief executive of the NACFB, Adam Tyler, said:
“SMEs are the stalwarts of the economic recovery: they have made the early running and played a vital role in brightening the UK’s future prospects.
“By fuelling activity in greater numbers across the majority of UK industries, they have helped rebuild a strong foundation for further growth. This not only opens up more jobs but also boosts those larger employers who count SMEs in their supply chain or rely on the essential services they provide.”

Elsewhere, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that optimism among its members has increased for the fourth consecutive quarter, with businesses across all sectors and all regions looking to 2014 with confidence.

The FSB’s national chairman, John Allan, said:
“Confidence has been in positive territory for a full year, giving economic growth solid foundations moving into 2014. Small firms are creating more jobs and investing in their business and there are encouraging results behind the headline figures, with promising trends evident across the main areas of expansion, investment and employment.”

If you wish to discuss any element of this article with us please email abglondon@abggroup.co.uk.