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Government’s Start Up Loan Scheme Reaches £130m

The Government Start UpLoan Scheme has hit a new target – £130 million in funds have now been lent tonew companies. 

Thekey figures of note here are that these loans have created 32,000 new jobssince it was launched in 2012 – and it forms part of the Government’s long termeconomic plan. 

Ifthis is something of interest to you, you can find out more how to get a smallbusiness loans here

Naturally we are are verywell place to help businesses of all sizes but startups in particularare good candidates for services like Xero but they also need proper affordableaccountancy expertise and we think that our entry packages are very well suitedfor this – more of which can be seen here


Xero’s New Dashboard

As you may know we are now offering our Cloud Based Accounting services with the Xero software accounting platform. This is an addition to the Sage platform and we are sure this will be very attractive.

In December Xero passed 400,000 paying customers – a fantastic growth predicated on offering outstanding cloud accounting software.  This coupled with our accounting expertise makes it very attractive to business owners of all sizes – but particularly small and start up businesses.

With that in mind we have seen some recent improvements to the dashboard it Xero and I have highlighted some of the changes which may interest you.

  • They have introduced a new graph which shows your incoming and outgoing cash over the last few months – handy for seeing your historical cash movements at a glance. You can drill into the detail as required.
  • Their invoice and bill graphs will be improved so you’ll be able to see the total amounts for all outstanding invoices rather than just those overdue – the same will apply to bills. The charts are simplified so you can quickly see if there are overdue items at a glance and drill down to see these.
  • They also now enable you to choose what to show on the Dashboard and where those items are positioned. So from now everything can be positioned as you like or optionally hidden if you don’t have a need for a particular item.

If you want to talk about Xero and our combined accountancy and software packages then please give us a call on 020 3199 9057.

Number of UK Startup Programmes More Than Doubles In Three Years

I read with interest that the number of UK startup programmes has more than doubled in three years.  This reinforces the ever growing entrepreneurial spirit in the UK – a can  do attitude – which is so exciting and creative.  I am amazed at how my own children are captivate and engaged with programmes like The Apprentice – which even though it is entertainment – does show people with business ideas and enthusiasm – something that was really hard to experience when I was their age.

This entrepreneurial spirit is why businesses like exist and why in particularly online accounting sofftware like Xero are so attractive.  If you are not aware of it I urge you take a look – and if you know people who are looking to start their own business then let them now about it too!

The article which was published in is below.

According to a report by O2, not only are incubated and accelerated start-ups likely to secure significant financial investment – on average more than £68,000 once they’ve graduated – but the support and guidance they receive gives them an invaluable edge versus their competition.

Of those programmes able to quantify the number of start-ups still operating, the survival rate for start-ups reaches almost 92 per cent, compared to a two-year survival rate of 75.6 per cent for all small businesses.

The research examines the incubator and accelerator ecosystem as a whole, revealing a more than 110 per cent rise in the number of formal programmes operating over the past three years.

The report also reveals who is driving such rapid growth. Over 40 per cent of all the start-up programmes in the UK are currently privately run, with a third of these receiving backing from public sector organisations.

A further 12 per cent are owned by large corporate enterprises, with Telefónica, John Lewis, Barclays and Distill Ventures (Diageo) all launching their own programmes, while another 25 per cent are affiliated to educational organisations such as universities or business schools.

Almost two thirds of incubators and accelerators (61 per cent) are based in the capital – ten times more than the number outside it.

However, cities such as Birmingham and Edinburgh are both demonstrating promising growth as accelerator and incubator hubs, both at least doubling the number of programmes operating in the past two years to four and three respectively

Wales and Northern Ireland have a number of dynamic new co-working spaces or business centres, but they are relatively underserved by accelerators or incubators.

Feilim Mackle, O2’s sales & service director says, ‘The rise in UK start-up programmes creates a unique opportunity for the entrepreneurs, but only if businesses and the government take responsibility for investing in these programmes to ensure they offer long-term, quality support. A loss in momentum could see some of the UK’s best entrepreneurial talent go to waste.’

Business minister Matthew Hancock adds, ‘With more than double the number of incubators and accelerators today than in 2011, the UK is fast becoming the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

‘From London’s Tech City to exciting new clusters in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester, large companies and Government are coming together to help foster exciting new businesses. We’re creating an environment where entrepreneurs can hone their ideas and thrive.’

The Business Show Washup

Recently we exhibited at The Business Show in Olympia
London and there was a real buzz about the show and more importantly our new
Xero offering.

It became quite clear, very quickly, that the awareness of
Xero as an accounting brand was significant – and it was clear to us at that the decision to offer Xero as part of our cloud
based accounting service is one that is likely to be very attractive and since the Show we have had a real flood of enquiries.

With software and accountancy starting from as little as
£55+vat per month it was little surprise that the response was overwhelming.

You can see more about our new service here


Small Businesses Held Back By Poor Use Of Technology

In a recent survey detailed in, it shows that three quarter of employees working in small businesses are less productive away from their desks.

This is something that we are very aware of in discussions with clients and that is why find cloud based solutions which can increase time efficiency and reduce cost have be to be considered by small business owners.

An extract from the article is shown below:

Employees are embracing mobile working, with 61 per cent saying they sometimes work from home. But a further 22 per cent reveal they want to work from home but don’t have the right technology, and nearly half (44 per cent) of those who do work from home say not having the right technology hampers their productivity.
Working in transit is less popular, with only 40 per cent of respondents doing so, though a further 20 per cent would if they had the right equipment. Of those that do, 40 per cent say they would be more productive in transit if they had access to better technology.
Where implemented effectively, technology is seen as a vital enabler of productivity, especially for a mobile workforce. Respondents felt their productivity had been improved over recent years thanks to smartphones (67 per cent), cloud (59 per cent), tablets (52 per cent), video conferencing (52 per cent), and print management (49 per cent).

Small Companies Have Increased Costs – So Where Are The Options To Save?

According to an article in small business costs have continued to rise during 2014 despite falling inflation. 

Energy costs are still the most commonly-seen increase, according to the latest Cost of Doing Business survey from the Forum of Private Business (FPB).  The study shows firms are still feeling the squeeze despite signs that the economic recovery continues to gather momentum.  Some 63 per cent of businesses have seen an overall increase in their business costs, with 70 per cent reporting an increase in energy costs, 65 per cent in transport costs, 76 per cent in marketing costs, and 65 per cent a rise in staff costs.  The report also identifies that 38 per cent of small business owners admit to being unable to pass any rising costs onto customers, forcing them to cut their own costs to keep prices static. Just 3 per cent are able to pass on costs in full.

One area small businesses can save money is of course to review their accounting costs.  With Cloud Based Accounting software and bundled accountancy services there has never been a better time to cut accountancy costs.  Find out more here.

Start Ups Thriving Off The Back Of The UK Recovery

I was interested to read in Kent Business that after 5 years of erratic trading almost every indicator suggests that the UK recovery is in full swing.  This is reflected in two events which are happening in Kent this year – Kent2020startup and Kent2020marketing.  The artcle highlights that startups are a vital part of the UK's economic recovery and that the UK now boasting record numbers of people running their own businesses.  I am not how many startups think about accounting at this stage – but if they are they need to seriously look at the convenience and cost benefit og going down the cloud based accounting route.

3 Reasons Why Accounting In the Cloud is Better.

Reason #1 to do Accounting in the Cloud: The cloud is more secure

If you haven’t figured out the glaring advantage to cloud-based computing and storage yet, it’s pretty simple.

If you rely on a specific computer, with its physical drives and processor, you rely on those items not to fail. The thing is: they do fail. Fans overheat. Processors routinely burn out. Hard drives grind to a halt. And what happens to your accounting documents then? What happens to the legacy software (like old school QuickBooks – we know some of you are still using it!) that cannot run on modern operating systems? What happens to your business without those things?

And that’s not to mention that when you store your accounting resources on physical media, you run the risk of losing it to unintentional damage or theft. Even the most reliable hard drive will succumb if it takes a strong enough hit, or worse, a swim.

The cloud wins here because it removes those risks by keeping your financial information securely mobile behind trusted firewalls, among other trusted cloud-based security measures. This makes it much more logical to manage your accounting purely in the cloud.

Reason #2 do Accounting in the Cloud: Cloud-based accounting is scalable

No matter if your business is a bootstrapped one-person operation or a multinational corporation, you want it to grow and increase revenue. This also comes with new costs to keep track of.

Your accounting app needs to grow alongside your business. If you run a small business with a handful of employees, you don’t need a costly premium version of a legacy application with steep recurring fees and tons of bells and whistles. If it’s just you, you don’t need payroll services. Your accounting needs to the right size for your business and then grow with you.

Cloud-based alternatives are highly scalable. As your business grows and you take on new employees, you can take care of paying them by adding cloud-based tools. If your business expands its sales to reach other countries, you can scale up by adding cloud-based currency conversion.

If you don’t need any of those features, you don’t have to pay for them, by sticking with a starter cloud-based accounting app subscription.

Reason #3 to do Accounting in the Cloud: Cloud-based apps are always current

The cloud is a very dynamic concept. As developers introduce new cloud-based tools and resources, other cloud-based apps are updated to keep current.  It’s that spirit of collaboration that is most striking about the promise of accounting in the cloud. New payment management systems, human resource applications and document management and storage tools emerge all the time. Cloud-based apps integrate with new tools as they emerge, giving you great flexibility when choosing tools to use in your business.

Compare this with downloaded legacy desktop applications (or worse, spreadsheets) and you start to realize that accounting in the cloud is freedom – freedom to use the tools you’d like, where you like, without the confinement of closed legacy applications.

In the cloud, you never have to run manual updates or troubleshoot pesky problems resulting from an update. Cloud-based apps or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are updated by the developers who make them, in real-time, without you lifting a finger. No maintenance. No breakdowns. No hassle. Link them together once and sleep at ease at night as the vendors work tirelessly to keep them up and running harmoniously.

Of course, the big advantage to keeping your accounting app up-to-date is you never have to fuss around with trying to get software to work, freeing you up to focus on the actual accounting and other important tasks.

10 Essential Business Startup Lessons That You Do Not Learn At College

1. Deal with failure. 

An inevitable part of the startup experience is tasting failure. Almost all successful entrepreneurs have failed at one point or other. It’s a learning process that can help you make your next venture a success.  The truth is, it’s not the end of the world to fail. This is something that you will have to discover and cope with when joining the startup world.

2. Raising money.

Raising money for college is easy  compared with funding a new business. While some people rely on parental support, others pursue loans and grants.  

But raising money for a startup is infinitely more complex in its paperwork. Investors and banks expect you to present a detailed business plan that describes how a product works and how it will eventually make them a little something extra.

You may have to negotiate with investors and banks if they don’t at first understand your vision (another skill that you may not have acquired in college). 

3. Budget. 

In college you probably did not handle considerable sums of money. You lived off student loans, a part-time job or credit cards — not taxes, payroll, business expenses or office rent. If you had  extra cash, you savored it, even if that meant living off Ramen Noodles for the next two weeks. You really did not have to budget your money.

Just try to do that with a startup.

Being able to understand a profit-and-loss statement or balance sheet is vital. You will have to be able to budget expenses for the next six months, a year or longer —  skills you may not have picked up in a college lecture hall.  Sage Cloud Based Accounting can help you here.

4. Pivot if necessary.

A large number of students often change subjects and transfer to another College or University. It is not failure to change or "pivot" – it is a recognition that what you are doing is not right for you.  Pivoting is something that startups are becoming familiar with as in many cases it is about sometimes switching your business idea.  Again that is not failure.

5. Think outside of the box.

Often in College, there’s a right and wrong answer. But in the startup world, ambiguity rules.  

“If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original," author and educator Ken Robinson declared in a TED talk, “Schools Kill Creativity,” which has been viewed almost 27 million times.

6. Build the right network.

Connecting with people in college is not the same as engaging with people in the real world. A drinking buddy or roommate who may have been so crucial to you in college won't matter so much as you try to get a startup off the ground.

No matter how tempting it may be to hire friends, they may not be right for your startup. If you studied business, how often do you cross paths with an great programmer? Probably never. 

When running a startup, be ready and willing to reach out and engage with the right people, instead of just relying on those who are there. With the right network of people, the possibilities are endless.

7. Become a salesperson.

If you want your startup to succeed, then you must sell. You’re going to have to market the company's product to employees, investors and clients. 

Being a top-notch salesperson isn’t hardly something that can be taught in a classroom. It’s a skill that must be refined over time through experience and that entails being able to read people well enough to get them hooked on your company's mission.

8. Mind your health.

But at a startup, you and your employees will put a lot of hours and hard work. You just can’t call in sick because you have a cold.  

Since every day at your startup matters, take note that overall healthy employees are more productive and call in sick less often.  

9. Become a boss.

Some people are natural-born leaders. While great bosses may also be great leaders, not all leaders make great bosses. Being a great boss means that you should be able to guide, inspire and even make tough decisions. There isn’t a class for that. It’s just another skill you’ll have to learn in the real world.

10. Manage your time. 

In college, because of the abundant stretches of free time, you could enjoy leisure time and also make up for any "downtime".

That won’t happen at a startup.

There is no free time. You’re going to be working essentially 24/7, no matter how tired you may be. So while your friends are enjoying happy hour, don’t become upset about finishing up a business plan, doing research or having a late-night meeting with employees. That’s just the nature of the beast.