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Viewing posts from: July 2017

The Sky’s the Limit with Cloud Storage

Posted by Alex Ruck in Business, Start Ups, Tips | 0 comments

Cloud storage is becoming an essential part of running a business, and we know those late to the party are feeling a bit left behind. Today I’m going to run down some of the best options out there to help narrow your search and encourage you to take your business to the cloud.

Instead of being stored locally on your machine, data stored on the cloud is stored on the provider’s server and is accessed through the internet. There are three main motivations behind storing files in this way, and sometimes they seem at odds with one another. The first is security, as businesses need a safe place to store important documents and need control over access permissions. The second is collaboration, as files need to be shared easily around the office. The third is remote access, so you can get to your data when working from home or edit that presentation while on the train.

As you do more research, remember to look at costs in depth; many offer a number of different plans so you risk paying for services you don’t use.

Dropbox

The best known and most popular, Dropbox is the cloud storage benchmark. If something is going to link to a cloud provider, Dropbox will be first on the list making it the best option for combining with different apps and plug ins. It has also got some useful features of its own; the local folder on your computer can be accessed offline and will sync when online, plus it backs up changed files so older versions and deleted files can be accessed and restored. Real time online collaboration will be used all the time in offices that require multiple people to work on the same project.

Zoolz

Zoolz takes a unique approach by storing rarely used files separately. These ‘cold’ files are kept in inactive storage and require 3 to 5 hours before they can be accessed, using less space and ultimately saving you money as your plan is customisable based on how much data you want to store. Zoolz is ideal for companies with lots of documents that need storing but don’t often need accessing.

JustCloud

JustCloud is a great option for bigger companies with lots of files to store, or companies still growing. Business plans start at 100GB but go up to unlimited storage space which is not strictly necessary for most businesses, but does allow for a lot of room for expansion. We really like the administrator’s panel, from which you can control user access and how much storage each user is allowed. Administrators can also monitor the changes made to documents. JustCloud can be difficult at first as it cannot handle large amounts of data being shipped to it at once; this shouldn’t be a problem later, but can be a pain when setting up.

Box

Box has less of an emphasis on personal use than the others on this list, and has been specifically designed businesses in mind. It’s well designed, easy to customise and is supported by lots of extra plug ins and apps. For example, there is one for linking directly to Office so all files are automatically backed up in Box.  The amount of features means that this one is confusing to new users or non-business users but once you get used to it, you will find that this system can support your every business need.

GoogleDrive

This one links so well to other Google services, that it is the no-brainer option for people that use Gmail already. There is a downside with this: as you share storage space with your email account an overflowing inbox will give less cloud space. The GoogleDrive emphasis is on personal use, but some features are perfect for businesses. For example, with the selective sync feature you can choose which folders sync on each device. Like Dropbox, real time collaboration is supported and the interface is very simple to use as a file tree shows where all files are stored.

Spideroak

Let’s finish with something a little bit different. Spideroak is all about privacy: with the other cloud systems, the companies technically have access to your files, but here files are encrypted by your local folder meaning that the data is readable only by you. This may make it sound as if accessing files from other machines would be a problem but a control centre app that operates on different machines can work around it. This service isn’t really about collaboration or integration but is excellent for security, and proves that businesses must work out their needs before choosing a storage system.

 

For more business tips, email us at hello@thebusinesshut.co.uk or phone 01858 289189. We’d be happy to help!

If you want to talk to us about your bookkeeping or accountancy requirements, we offer completely free of charge business consultations so we can get to know each other and see if The Business Hut is a good fit for your business.

Thanks for stopping by,
Alex

Vehicles and VAT

Posted by Alex Ruck in Accounts, Business, The Business Hut | 0 comments

It seems that with every VAT rule – everything you think you know – there are a bunch of exceptions surrounding it. Motoring expenses are a great example of this – as a rule, you can’t claim VAT when a car is bought, unless…

There is a lot to it, and we know there are plenty of people out there scratching their heads over these rules. So, as simply as we can, let’s see if we can explain things.

Buying

VAT can be reclaimed on cars that are mainly used as a taxi, self-drive hire or driving instruction car. Any other type of car used for business purposes must be used exclusively for business purposes – that means not even being available for private use. And before you ask, ‘private use’ includes the commute to and from work.

This rule is also true of other vehicles. Commercial vehicles like tractors or vans, motorcycles and motorhomes can all be reclaimed on so long as they are only used for business.

Maintenance, parking, and other costs

Even if you can’t reclaim VAT on the vehicle itself, many business-related costs do qualify. For example, for any repair work on a vehicle that is paid for by the business, VAT can be reclaimed. Many off-street parking options charge VAT at the standard rate, and this can be reclaimed for business trips.

Fuel

I’m sure you are noticing the pattern and know what I am about to say; if the vehicle is used only for business, then all VAT on fuel can be reclaimed.

It is a bit more complicated for vehicles used for both business and private, and there are two ways to go about it. The first is to keep detailed mileage records and just reclaim on the business use fuel, the second is to reclaim all VAT and pay a fuel scale charge.

A fuel scale charge is worked out using your vehicle’s CO2 emissions figure, and can be worked out at gov.uk.

Your records

Businesses must always be able to show how they have worked out their claims; records of business journeys are integral to working out claims and cars that qualify must have the records to prove it. It can be a pain keeping all this organised, but believe me your bookkeeper will thank you!

In conclusion, it’s really important to know all the exceptions to every VAT rule, and really important to stay up to date. If you are still scratching your head and need to find out more, email us at hello@thebusinesshut.co.uk or phone 01858 289189. We’d be happy to help!

If you want to talk to us about your bookkeeping or accountancy requirements, we offer completely free of charge business consultations so we can get to know each other and see if The Business Hut is a good fit for your business.

Thanks for stopping by,
Alex

Source: gov.uk goes into much greater detail clarifying many of these points, with VAT Notice 700/64 a particularly important resource.