Author Archive for Barkley Business Services

Getting Your Invoice Paid

Tips for making sure you are paid

If you are not paid there is no point in doing the work.Our tips for steps you can take to minimize your risk of not getting paid are:

  1. Who are you doing business with? It is a personal judgment of a client’s character and a professional judgment of their situation. You should make pre-contract credit checks. These can help make sure that a potential client /business is sound before you start any work and lay out your time
  2. Make it totally clear what you are going to do or supply . Both sides should be clear on this. There should be no room for doubt. Any description needs to state the details not just give a vague overview as many do. To build ‘a house’ sounds simple until you appreciate that there are many variations on ‘house’. Ideally you should both sign a contract . This can be is a major step in getting paid.
  3. Make sure you have unique readable Terms and Conditions for your business . Your client must have the opportunity to read these. Ideally the client must read these carefully and understand them. These must be readable not full of jargon.
  4. Make you Payment Terms clear from the outset whether they are 7 days or 60 days. Mention these terms personally to the Client and ask if that causes any problems. The Client then has the opportunity to tell you that your terms do not fit with how they are themselves paid and will cause problems. You can then discuss this before you start not find out after the work is done and you want payment.
  5. Make sure the work done complies with what was agreed at the start . Any amendments should be agreed in writing. This reduces the room for the Client to say you have not done what was agreed and argue about paying you.

You do not want to get involved with debt collectors and courts as this is just time and money.  If someone does not pay they may have no money and if they are  a company there is little you can do if they have no assets.

So take all basic steps to avoid getting to that point in the first place. Contact us to get your paperwork in order.

10 Reasons why you need legal advice even if you cannot afford it.

Too many businesses put off looking at legal issues until something goes wrong. You then have the cost and worry of sorting the problem out. Why not put things in order so you miss that stage. Why do this :

  1. You need to know the laws and rules that apply to your particular business.
  2. Any medium or large business will have full legal advice and have documents and processes that act in their favour
  3. You need to know the Legal Risks of your business as otherwise how do you minimize those risks? Legal Risks are different from financial risks. A small business can have a higher legal risk than a large business depending on what it does and who its customers are.
  4. Realise you don’t know what you don’t know and this could break your business.
  5. Terms and Conditions should be a map through your business. They should be specific to your business not lifted from your competitor . They should be readable and you should understand them. Your Clients should understand them. They are the basis of your agreement with your Clients.
  6. Legally you will need various policies eg Health and Safety, Data Protection. These again should be in clear language not something you get out when something goes wrong.
  7. Do not be tempted by templates off the Internet. They will be very generic and usually miss the thing that your business needs. Remember also that language in legal documents has a special legal meaning that may be different from normal English. It may be specifying which part of a legal statute applies but will you know that?
  8. Arguments can lead to expensive court cases. Many cases are caused by DIY Contracts and Terms and conditions or if none of these exist. It is false economy to cut corners here.
  9. Legal Documents should be readable and capable of being understood by the average person. Lots of jargon and nonsense are not necessary just put there to look good. Do not accept this and have documents properly drafted.
  10. Realize that legal advice and documentation is there to avoid problems . It is like driving a car . When driving you spend as much time avoiding other cars that are badly driven as manoeuvring your own car straight down the road. Legal Advice and documents are there to avoid bumps and crashes- they are not there to get out after the problem has been created.

For any advice Contact us now.

Do not take more Risks than are necessary

Risk for your business

Most are aware of the financial risk of a business, You earn to sell £X to keep afloat then make a profit. That bit is easy. Everyone looks at the finacial risk of a business. Few look at the legal risk. The two are rarely the same.

Some businesses have a low turnover but are far greater legal risk than a large manufacturer of goods that coul dnot harm anyone. I find when this in pointed out to the owners of such businesses they are amazed.

To minimise risk every business owner should create defences to minimise the level of that risk to a business. Legal protection is one thing. The ability to enforce that legal right is a totally different matter. You may have a contract but do you have thousands of pounds to take legal action to enforce that contract.

Steps you need to take:

  1. Have robust and detailed contracts with everyone
  2. Have good terms and conditions for your business that cover every eventuality and are drafted for your specific business.
  3. Protect all your IP including your name and logo as Trademarks
  4. Understand the difference between the rights of a consumer in B2C contracts and of another business in B2B contracts. ensure your documents reflect this.
  5. Make sure you understand the laws relating to your particular business and that you comply with these.

In short make sure your business is as well set up and protected as possible and best established to stand up to any problems that may come along.

Secondly make sure you understand where the risks are in your business. You can then take essential steps to reduce these to the minimum. The risks will vary from business to business and relate to what you do rather than the size of the enterprize.

Make sure you understand these risks so you can put in place steps to prevent any problems.

Do not find yourself trying to sort out forseeable problems after the event.Be prepared. Do not find yourself lie averyone else- in a mess.

For more assistance contact http://www,barkleystartups.co.uk

3 Tips on Starting a Business

Few people know what they are doing when they start a business. Many only look back on it and realize how little they knew afterwards. Most business owners muddle through and learn quickly . However there are a few points of advice :

  1. Make Sure Your Business Idea is Profitable
  • It may seem obvious but is often overlooked.
  • If you make something how many hours will it take to obtain the finished product? How much will the materials cost?
  • Take the price deduct the material costs then divide the balance by the hours you will have worked to give you the gross return per hour
  • . If that says you are being paid £6 per hour and that is before all your other expenses you need to reconsider. Making a beautiful object that takes a day for which you can charge £25 is not going to run. I have seen many think otherwise unfortunately.
  • Do not rush to be the cheapest as this will just reduce any profitability.

2. Keep Costs Down

You will be entering fields you have never been into before. Lots of people will want to tell you that buying their product is essential to the success of your new venture.

You should work out yourself what your business cannot do without as opposed to what would be good. Then you should source those items for value . If you need quality items get them at the best price. Do not be afraid to query what you are told . Remember The Apprentice task where the aim is to buy all items as cheaply as possible

3. Is a Website Essential?

In most cases yes as no one will take you seriously without one. There are however exceptions to begin with.

If you have visible premises it is clear where you are and what you do say with a shop or salon.

If your customers are ardent social media users you may be fine with a Facebook Page especially for health and beauty and tradesmen. You will however only be visible to people who use Facebook. For this it is important to know who your customer is.

For most other businesses you need a website as a badge of your existence and credibility. It gives your address, contact details and exactly what you do . It makes a potential feel safe dealing with the business.

There is no need to spend a lot of money on a website to start with. A page will do if necessary although more is better. Pay per month options are available but make sure you own the domain name and it is on say Word Press so you can move it if needed.

For more information contact us

Do you know what a Company is ?

Many seem to have strange ideas about companies . We will endeavor to set out some basic answers for you.

Can anyone set up a Company?

Yes provided they are 18 years old and have not been banned from running a Company due to misconduct

What is the legal status of a Company- you are creating a new separate legal entity when you set one up. It is totally distinct from the shareholders who own it.

What are shareholders- people or other businesses that invest a certain amount ion the company by buying shares in the company. They have certain rights by law as to how the company is run.If the Company becomes insolvent they will probably lose the money they paid for the shares and have no further liability to creditors.

Who are Directors – employees of the Company engaged by the Shareholders to run the company. By law the directors duty is to run the company for the benefit of the shareholders. they are paid a wage by the Company and are subject to PAYE.

What is the downside- there are lots of rules and regulations in law as to how a company must be run. A Director who owns the business has to pay income tax on their wages and corporation tax on company profits before a dividend is paid. Documents have to be filed at Companies House annually that are a public record.

The Advantages? –

  1. the shareholders are only responsible for the value of their shares if the business becomes insolvent. The format was created to encourage people to set up businesses without risking losing everything.
  2. personnel can be changed with relative ease as the business grows.
  3. It looks more professional

How do I set up a Company- apply to Companies House to set up a company or ask Barkley Startups to sort this out for you.

Working From Home – Part 3

There are things you need to consider that you may not have thought of. These include :

1. General Regulations-

  • These are the matters that apply to any business wherever they are based. They tend to be related to your specific business.
  •  Food Hygiene Certificate – required if the business handles food as in catering or Bed and Breakfast
  • Health and Safety- you need to do a proper check of the  premises but only need to put it in writing if you employ five or more people.
  • Commercial Waste- must not go in the wheelie bin but separate arrangement made for collection by  a commercial company
  • Licence  needed- for kennels or home boarding of pets while the owner is on holiday. Registration with the local council is usually required for a Bed and Breakfast. Licence required may vary with each local council so check with them.

2. GDPR

The same rules apply as for an office. They can be harder to enforce in a home. You will have family members and their friends wandering around perhaps not taking you and your work that seriously. Family may want to use your laptop or work table .

Security is still essential. The house must be secure from intruders. Your office preferably must be kept secure from your family and friends. Your filing cabinet must be secure and fire proof.

Issues of Concern –

a. Your Laptop and USB stick– who uses these ? Do your children want to do their homework on your laptop and then borrow your USB stick to take it to school. What could they see on your laptop and what might they share with their friends. What if the USB stick is lost at school. You should make sure these items are solely used for business use.

b. Your Desk- This should be kept clear of papers so that information cannot be seen by anyone walking past. Tidy up at the end of the day an be weary of your children’s friends. They may mean no harm but can cause it.

c. Fire– Consider what you would do if you only have handwritten notes and they are destroyed by fire. Destruction constitutes a data breach . Consider scanning your notes and keeping them in the cloud. It would be bad enough if your house burned down you do not want you business to disappear as well plus have to explain yourself to the ICO.

3. Working Practices

There are lots of solutions on ‘How to Work from Home’ on the internet. These include making yourself work normal office hours. take breaks etc. However the reality is that you do not have to commute so have more time. Your work should not take over your life but equally you can take advantage of your situation. Work in a manner that suits you and your family.If you want to take time off in the afternoon to do the school run and then work in the evening you can. Do however make sure your family knows that you are working and they need to respect that.

Blue House

Your Home and Office

Working From Home – 2 – Do you need Planning Permission ?

Your Home will have Planning Consent for Residential use only unless it is obviously  a commercial property e g one property with a flat over a shop. Working from Home can have several effects.

What you should do if you Work from Home 

If you use part of your home for solely business use then you should apply for planning consent for that part of the property. If you use a building in your garden to manufacture clothing then that is what you should do. However if you have a room that you use partly for work and equally for family use then it is probably not necessary 

The Problems of Applying for Planning Consent

  1. As your home the property will be exempt from Capital Gains Tax when sold. However if part of it is business use then that proportion of the proceeds of any sale would be subject to Capital Gains Tax.
  2. On your home you pay Council Tax. However the part of your home used for business would become subject to Business Rates.
  3. You would have to obtain consent from your mortgage lender to the application. Their mortgage may be conditional on the property being solely residential use so this could be a problem and they may object. It would affect their ability to resell the property.
  4. Your planning application would be advertised and your neighbours made aware of it. 
  5. You may encounter objections to your application from the Council or your neighbours . Possible grounds are noise, smell and deliveries. Visitors and potential employees parking their cars are potential hazards. An increase in traffic on your road however small could be an issue.

Also if you are carrying out any adaptions to a building – eg new walls, new electrics for extra demand – do not forget you will need Building Consent for the work either by applying to the council or employing a contractor able to certify the work. They will also register it with the Council on completion.

Blue House

Your Home/Office

Working From Home 1

  1. Property that you own

If you have a mortgage you should inform your mortgage lender

For a FREEHOLD property

You must check if you have any Covenants registered on your deeds/ Land registry registers

  • They could say that you cannot run a business from the Property.

If you have covenants then

  1. If the property is old then probably any person or business that could enforce them has disappeared or lost interest.
  2. If the property is new or recently built then you need to comply with them. The builder who imposed them is probably still around and able to enforce them. Your neighbours will probably be aware of the covenants if they have only purchased recently.

For a LEASEHOLD property – usually flats or maisonettes

                         Your Home Office

  1. If you Rent Privately

Your Landlord will probably know you are self-employed when you start the tenancy.

However that does not mean they consent to the use of the property for business .

They may assume you have business premises.

They may object to you working from their property.

 

All these situations are a question of degree.

If working from home is you and your laptop then you are unlucky if someone complains about you.

If you are manufacturing from your back room and have employees and lots of deliveries then you would be lucky to avoid a complaint.

 

Next Working From Home 2

Planning Permission – What you need to know.

Why every Business should consider registering their Trademark

                   Protecting Your Business

 

Most small businesses think about registering a Trademark. Many look into it and then as with many legal matters push it to one side for another day.

However why put all that effort into building your business, listening to all that advice on building your brand- then risk someone coming along taking your ideas, branding and reap the benefits.

The Risks

Worse still they can take your branding in a way that your clients assume it is you. They are then given  a poor service for which you then are blamed.

Registered Trademarks are not just for the large business. A small local business can be devastated by someone pretending to be them. With no trademark registration your only action would be to take an action for Passing Off . This is difficult, time consuming and expensive.

Registration is essential if you want to franchise or licence your business. Any person paying you money would expect to have the security of knowing that Brand was yours to sell .

If you do not register your Trademark you should be aware someone else might. Some will even research your business then apply to register your Trademark. They can then commence legal proceedings against you for using their Trademark and perhaps offer to sell it to you. Obviously they would be looking to make a profit from this.

What is a Trademark?

Registering a Trademark is more than just protecting your name and logo.

A Trademark is ‘any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings’. This can be ‘words, (including personal names) designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging’

A Trademark is an asset of your business and if your business is successful it will acquire a monetary value of its own.

A Trademark must be distinctive and thereby unique. It must distinguish your goods or services from other companies offering similar goods and services. It must not describe the products or services.

There are various hoops to jump through and is best taken a step at a time. If you want any help in registering your Trademark please contact us at anne@barkleybusinessservices.co.uk

Terms and Conditions -Five Top Tips

Five Top Tips

Terms and Conditions

  1. Your Terms and Conditions need to be a road map through your business and govern all your procedures. You must consider what you write in detail as the wrong words can have a major impact on your business. They also need to reflect your standards and values. Do you want to be mean to your customers or appear fair and reasonable?
  2. Think of all the problems you have had with clients, products, delivery etc. and all the near misses. You should think through how to avoid a repetition of those situations then put appropriate words to cover yourself into your terms and conditions
  3. Do not lift off the internet. It is like diagnosing an illness on the internet. You might be OK or you might be dead. You need someone who understands the real meaning of the wording to avoid saying something stupid- or dangerous. Do you know what wording would be allowed by a judge and what would be thrown out?
  4. Do not lift your competitors Terms and Conditions as their business and problems may be similar bit will not be identical. Also they could take umbrage especially if you fail to remove their name from everywhere and miss one reference to them which many do.
  5. Be familiar with what your Terms and Conditions  say and make sure you understand what they say. Take the time and trouble to make your Clients read them and also understand them. It is far easier to make sure everyone complies with the Terms and Conditions from the start than have arguments down the line that take everyone’s time and effort let alone the worry.Do not have a long document that cannot be easily read and feels the need to define even the simplest word so that everyone gets lost in the word count and language.