We’re fairly certain you didn’t start your business to become a business, marketing or financial expert. We suspect most of you started your business to do what ever you are passionate about or just really good at! What you probably found very quickly is that what your business actually does consumes most of your day. But maybe you’ve come to find that general information, tips and advice from others has been essential to the survival and growth of your business. Well, if that’s the case, you’re not alone.
Since The Business Hut began in 2014 we have taken on so much advice from friends, family and clients. This has helped us to not only to continue to grow but to also really enjoy what we are doing. So we thought we would share some of the golden nuggets of information from other successful business owners – that could just help you too. We particularly like the advice from William Chase – what advice do you think will help you?
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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,
Procrastination is part of human nature, it’s amazing how mundane things like housework become super important when you have a project on the go or deadline that should be tackled. The house and garden usually gain more attention when putting something off. As small business owners one of your new year’s resolutions may have been to convert to a new accounting software in the new financial year.
Here’s a brief roundup of the key headlines from the chancellor’s first Budget:
The state of the economy
- UK second-fastest growing economy in the G7 in 2016.
- Growth forecast for 2017 upgraded from 1.4% to 2%.
- But GDP downgraded to 1.6%, 1.7%, 1.9% in subsequent years, then 2% in 2021-22.
- Inflation forecast to rise to 2.4% in 2017-18 before falling to 2.3% and 2.0% in subsequent years.
- A further 650,000 people expected to be in employment by 2021.
- Annual borrowing £51.7bn in 2016-17, £16.4bn lower than forecast. Borrowing forecast to total £58.3bn in 2017-18, £40.6bn in 2018-19, £21.4bn in 2019-20 and £20.6bn in 2020-21.
- Public sector net borrowing forecast to fall from 3.8% of GDP last year to 2.6% this year, then 2.9%, 1.9%, 1% and 0.9% in subsequent years, reaching 0.7% in 2021-22.
- Debt rose to 86.6% this year, but will fall to 79.8% in 2021-22.
If your business is registered on the VAT Flat Rate Scheme then you will need to be aware of the changes being implemented from April 2017. You may recall this being announced in the Autumn statement as an action to tackle aggressive abuse of the scheme.
The Flat Rate Scheme, or FRS as it’s commonly referred, is a simplified VAT scheme which allows businesses with a low cost base to set the net VAT due to HMRC based on a trade sector percentage.
From 1 April 2017, FRS businesses must also determine whether they meet the definition of a limited cost trader, which will be included in new legislation.
Businesses using the scheme, or thinking of joining the scheme, will need to decide whether they are a limited cost trader. For some businesses – for example, those who purchase no goods, or who make significant purchases of goods – this will be obvious. Other businesses will need to complete a simple test, using information they already hold, to work out whether they should use the new 16.5% rate.
Businesses using the FRS will be expected to ensure that, for each accounting period, they use the appropriate flat rate percentage.
So what is a limited cost trader?
A limited cost trader will be defined as one whose VAT inclusive expenditure on goods is either:
- less than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in a prescribed accounting period
- greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1000 per annum if the prescribed accounting period is one year (if it is not one year, the figure is the relevant proportion of £1000)
Goods, for the purposes of this measure, must be used exclusively for the purpose of the business but exclude the following items:
- capital expenditure
- food or drink for consumption by the flat rate business or its employees
- vehicles, vehicle parts and fuel (except where the business is one that carries out transport services – for example a taxi business – and uses its own or a leased vehicle to carry out those services)
These exclusions are part of the test to prevent traders buying either low value everyday items or one off purchases in order to inflate their costs beyond 2%.
HMRC have developed an online test to help businesses work out whether or not they will be classed as a limited cost trader. Click here to take the test.
If you’re unsure how these changes may affect your business, please contact us for support.
Thanks for reading.