How To Start Trading Your New Business

So you’ve decided to start a small business and you’re ready to get started but how do you start trading your new business?

Here are some things that you will need to consider to get your new business idea off the ground.

Sole Trader or Limited Company?

The first thing to consider is whether you are going to trade as a sole trader or a limited company. The type of small business that you are going to start will largely determine which option that you choose.

A sole trader is a business that is owned by one person (with no staff) who is solely liable for the company’s debts and fulfilment of contracts. This type of business tends to be favoured by traditional skilled tradesmen like gardeners, plumbers, decorators, plasterers etc.

The advantages of being a sole trader are:

Having full control over the business.

It is easy to set up as there are fewer regulations to comply with. You will just need to ensure that you contact the Inland Revenue to advise them that you are self employed within 3 months of starting the business.

You won’t have to complete a lot of forms unlike limited companies, but you will nevertheless, need to have accounts prepared ready for your annual self assessment tax return to declare annual profits and tax liabilities.

As there are no staff you will keep all of the profits yourself, which can remain private as you will not have to declare them to Companies house.

You will not have to register the company and therefore can be known as anything hence why so many sole traders refer to themselves as “trading as…”

You can build up a more personal rapport with the customer.

It will be cheaper for you as accountants will charge you less as they will only need to complete a profit and loss account for you.

The main disadvantages to this type of company are:

You will be solely liable for any failures or liabilities such as your business failing or property being damaged.

It can be harder to compete with larger companies who have more staff and can therefore complete work quicker.

If you become sick you will have no income. Even though you can take out critical illness insurance, some will not pay out until after 1 month.

If your business fails you could be forced to sell your personal assets, such as your house, to fulfil your liabilities.

However, as your business becomes more successful you can minimise the risks by forming a corporation or limited liability company instead.

Limited Company

Unlike being a sole trader, when you form a private limited company your are registered in such a way as to ensure that you have limited liability, with your company and personal finances being kept separate. A limited company is owned by shareholders and operated by directors. By registering your company as a limited company you will need to consider the following:

You will be subject to corporation tax.

If you anticipate turning over £77k or more per annum you must register for VAT.

As a director you will have more legal, financial and administrative responsibilities.

You will have less control over the overall running of your business as you will be answerable to the shareholders.

You will need to register with Companies House and will be required to submit an annual return along with annual accounts to them each year.

N.B.The difference between a private limited company and a public limited company is that in a private limited company all of the company shares are in private hands whereas in a public limited company the shares are owned by the public.

The main advantage of registering a business as a limited company is that directors and shareholders only have “limited liability” and therefore their personal assets cannot be touched, unlike being a sole trader.

Staffing

When you start a small business you are in effect becoming self employed and will therefore need to inform the Inland Revenue that your income may change. Even if you keep an existing job you must still inform the Inland Revenue.

The same applies if you are going to employ staff. You have an obligation to collect and pay their PAYE contributions to the Inland Revenue. The Inland Revenue will them provide your new business with a PAYE number and an account office reference number.

You can either do this yourself or you can appoint an accountant to all of this for you and to pay the wages and salaries on your behalf, which is what I do with one of my larger businesses.

Choosing a small business name

Creating a good name for your business is important. When choosing a name for a business, it is important to make sure that the name is not already in use, otherwise you could be sued.

You can either check with Companies House whether the name you have chosen is available or if you are considering an online business or having a website for your business you can go online using sites such as Go daddy to check whether the domain name that you want is available.

I personally used to think that when naming a company you should make sure that the name reflects what your business is about, but many people argue that the name should be something that is easy to remember or one that is unusual and leaves a lasting impression like “confused.com” or “funkypigeon.com”. After all who would have imagined that these types on names would turn into multi million pound enterprises?

If you plan to start a limited company, then you will need to register a company name with Companies House. They in turn will issue you with a company registration number that will be unique to your new company.

Companies House will then keep details of your new business including account and address details, for third parties to be able to view.

Small Business insurance

Regardless of what small business you start, you will need to take out a small business insurance to protect your business and your customers. There are many specialist insurance brokers who can put a package together to suit your company’s requirements.

How To Start a Business You Can Afford Right Now

Are you sure that you are ready to open a business? Do you know what businesses to start? Some things are the same about any business. You need a business license, inventory, advertising budget and customers. You also need to rent a place where your business will be located. This all cost money and lots of it. It normally takes thousands of dollars to open a business. We have all heard that it takes money to make money. If you have money to gamble with, you can proceed with starting a business that requires lots of money. For the rest of us there is a great alternative and one you should consider.

It’s a janitorial cleaning service of your own. How big you can grow the office cleaning business is up to you. The sky is the limit because in the janitorial service business you can duplicate yourself. You can replace yourself with labor that you employ. This way, more than one office or building can be getting cleaned at the same time. This is the ultimate business to business idea. Every customer is a repeat customer and will be paying every month for your service.

For this reason, when starting a business, you should consider the janitorial service. Before you dismiss this opportunity, consider this. When it comes to business to business ideas, this is one of the best. You don’t need to pay rent for an office as you can use your kitchen table to get started. Customers have no reason to come to your home office so you can avoid paying rent to do business. You can even take advantage of the tax deduction of a home based office. You can get started this way and avoid the big start-up cost associated with normally starting a business. In the janitorial service you can line up your first customer before you need to spend any money on anything.

You can start a business this way and eliminate the financial risk of getting started that is so common with other types of businesses. Instead of going out and spending money right away because you are going open a business. You can put the cart before the horse.

In the cleaning business you can acuumulate things and do so only as you need them. If you have ever wondered about starting a business of your own, you should know that no other business offers you so much opportunity for growth and financial rewards. You can start your own janitorial service business on a shoestring budget. When you compare the low start-up costs of starting a cleaning business to the start-up costs for any other kind of business it’s really no contest.

You can always employ people to help you get the cleaning done. Needing help should not stop you from starting your own cleaning business. Many people would love to have a part- time job and clean for you. Many entrepreneurs spend large sums of money to start a new business and risk it all in the process. The fact is, most businesses end up going out of business after the first year but not in the cleaning business. It is a great service business and the opportunity is open to all. Ask anyone to name you a cleaning business and they would have to think about that one because no company dominates the cleaning business. It is wide open, so when your thinking about starting a business, consider the ultimate business to business idea of your own janitorial service. Commercial cleaning takes place everywhere and cleaning is here to stay.

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How to Get Financing For Your Small Business

In today’s hostile economic environment, access to capital is the primary differentiating factor between those businesses which have been able to expand and gain market share versus those that have experienced enormous drops in revenue. The reason many small businesses have seen their sales and cash flow drop dramatically, many to the point of closing their doors, while many large U.S. corporations have managed to increase sales, open new retail operations, and grow earnings per share is that a small business almost always relies exclusively on traditional commercial bank financing, such as SBA loans and unsecured lines of credit, while large publicly traded corporations have access to the public markets, such as the stock market or bond market, for access to capital.

Prior to the onset of the financial crises of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession, many of the largest U.S. commercial banks were engaging in an easy money policy and openly lending to small businesses, whose owners had good credit scores and some industry experience. Many of these business loans consisted of unsecured commercial lines of credit and installment loans that required no collateral. These loans were almost always exclusively backed by a personal guaranty from the business owner. This is why good personal credit was all that was required to virtually guarantee a business loan approval.

During this period, thousands of small business owners used these business loans and lines of credit to access the capital they needed to fund working capital needs that included payroll expenses, equipment purchases, maintenance, repairs, marketing, tax obligations, and expansion opportunities. Easy access to these capital resources allowed many small businesses to flourish and to manage cash flow needs as they arose. Yet, many business owners grew overly optimistic and many made aggressive growth forecasts and took on increasingly risky bets.

As a result, many ambitious business owners began to expand their business operations and borrowed heavily from small business loans and lines of credit, with the anticipation of being able to pay back these heavy debt loads through future growth and increased profits. As long as banks maintained this ‘easy money’ policy, asset values continued to rise, consumers continued to spend, and business owners continued to expand through the use of increased leverage. But, eventually, this party, would come to an abrupt ending.

When the financial crisis of 2008 began with the sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest and most renowned banking institutions on Wall Street, a financial panic and contagion spread throughout the credit markets. The ensuing freeze of the credit markets caused the gears of the U.S. financial system to come to a grinding halt. Banks stopped lending overnight and the sudden lack of easy money which had caused asset values, especially home prices, to increase in recent years, now cause those very same asset values to plummet. As asset values imploded, commercial bank balance sheets deteriorated and stock prices collapsed. The days of easy money had ended. The party was officially over.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Great Recession that followed created a vacuum in the capital markets. The very same commercial banks that had freely and easily lent money to small businesses and small business owners, now suffered from a lack of capital on their balance sheets – one that threatened their very own existence. Almost overnight, many commercial banks closed off further access to business lines of credit and called due the outstanding balances on business loans. Small businesses, which relied on the working capital from these business lines of credit, could no longer meet their cash flow needs and debt obligations. Unable to cope with a sudden and dramatic drop in sales and revenue, many small businesses failed.

Since many of these same small businesses were responsible for having created millions of jobs, every time one of these enterprises failed the unemployment rate increased. As the financial crisis deepened, commercial banks went into a tailspin that eventually threatened the collapse of the entire financial system. Although Congress and Federal Reserve Bank led a tax payer funded bailout of the entire banking system, the damage had been done. Hundreds of billions of dollars were injected into the banking system to prop up the balance sheets of what were effectively defunct institutions. Yet, during this process, no provision was ever made that required these banks to loan money out to consumers or private businesses.

Instead of using a portion of these taxpayer funds to support small businesses and avert unnecessary business failures and increased unemployment, commercial banks chose to continue to deny access to capital to thousands of small businesses and small business owners. Even after receiving a historic taxpayer funded bailout, the commercial banks embraced an ‘every man for himself’ attitude and continue to cut off access to business lines of credit and commercial loans, regardless of the credit history or timely payments on such lines and loans. Small business bankruptcies skyrocketed and high unemployment persisted.

During this same period, when small businesses were being choked into non-existence, as a result of the lack of capital which was created by commercial banks, large publicly-traded corporations managed to survive and even grow their businesses. They were mainly able to do so by issuing debt, through the bond markets, or raising equity, by issuing shares through the equity markets. While large public companies were raising hundreds of millions of dollars in fresh capital, thousands of small businesses were being put under by banks that closed off existing commercial lines of credit and refused to issue new small business loans.

Even now, in mid 2012, more than four years since the onset of the financial crisis, the vast majority of small businesses have no means of access to capital. Commercial banks continue to refuse to lend on an unsecured basis to almost all small businesses. To even have a minute chance of being approved for a small business loan or business line of credit, a small business must possess tangible collateral that a bank could easily sell for an amount equal to the value of the business loan or line of credit. Any small business without collateral has virtually no chance at attaining a loan approval, even through the SBA, without significant collateral such as equipment or inventory.

When a small business cannot demonstrate collateral to provide security for the small business loan, the commercial bank will ask for the small business owner to secure the loan with his or her own personal assets or equity, such as equity in a house or cash in a checking, savings, or retirement account, such as a 401k or IRA. This latter situation places the personal assets of the owner at risk in the event of a small business failure. Additionally, virtually all small business loans will require the business owner to have excellent personal credit and FICO scores, as well as require a personal guaranty. Finally, multiple years of financial statements, including tax returns for the business, demonstrated sustained profitability will be required in just about every small business loan application.

A failure or lack of ability to provide any of these stringent requirements will often result in an immediate denial in the application for almost all small business loans or commercial lines of credit. In many instances, denials for business loans are being issued to applicants which have provided each of these requirements. Therefore, being able to qualify with good personal credit, collateral, and strong financial statements and tax returns still does not guarantee approval of a business loan request in the post financial crisis economic climate. Access to capital for small businesses and small business owners is more difficult than ever.

As a result of this persistent capital vacuum, small businesses and small business owners have begun to seek out alternative sources of business capital and business loans. Many small business owners seeking cash flow for existing business operations or funds to finance expansion have discovered alternative business financing through the use of merchant credit card cash advance loans and small business installment loans offered by private investors. These merchant cash advance loans offer significant advantages to small businesses and small business owners when compared to traditional commercial bank loans.

Merchant cash advance loans, sometimes referred to as factoring loans, are based on the amount of average credit card volume a merchant or retail outlet, processes over a three to six month period. Any merchant or retail operator that accepts credit cards as payment from customers, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover, is virtually guaranteed an approval for a merchant credit card advance. The total amount of cash advance that a merchant qualifies for is determined by this three to six month average and the funds are generally deposited in the business checking account of the small business within a seven to ten day period from the time of approval.

A set repayment amount is fixed and the repayment of the cash advance plus interest is predetermined at the time the advance is approved by the lender. For instance, if a merchant or retailer processes approximately $1,000 per day in credit cards from its customers, the monthly average of total credit cards processed equals $30,000. If the merchant qualifies for $30,000 for a cash advance and the factoring rate is 1.20, the total that would need to be repaid is $30,000 – plus 20% of $30,000 which equals $6,000 – for a total repayment amount of $36,000. Therefore, the merchant would receive a lump sum of $30,000 cash, deposited in the business checking account, and a total of $36,000 would need to be repaid.

The repayment is made by automatically deducting a pre-determined amount of each of the merchant’s daily future credit card sales – usually at a rate of 20% of total daily credit cards processed. Thus, the merchant does not have to write checks or send payments. The fixed percent is simply deducted from future credit sales until the total sum due of $36,000 is paid off. The advantage to this type of financing versus a commercial bank loan is that a merchant cash advance is not reported on the personal credit report of the business owner. This effectively separates the personal financial affairs of the small business owner from the financial affairs of the small business entity.

A second advantage to a merchant credit card cash advance is that an approval does not require a personal guaranty from the business owner. If the business is unable to repay the merchant cash advance loan in full, the business owner is not held personally responsible and cannot be forced to post personal collateral as security for the merchant advance. The owner removes the financial consequences that often accompany a commercial bank business loan that requires a personal guaranty and often forces business owners into personal bankruptcy in the even that their business venture fails and cannot repay the outstanding loan balance.

A third, and distinct advantage, is that a merchant credit card cash advance loan does not require any collateral as additional security for the loan. The future credit card receivables are the security for the cash advance repayment, thus no additional collateral requirements exist. Since the majority of small businesses do not have physical equipment or inventory that can be posted as collateral for a traditional bank loan, this type of financing is a phenomenal alternative for thousands of retail businesses, merchants, sole proprietorships, and online stores seeking access to capital. Such businesses would be denied automatically for a traditional business loan simply because of the lack of collateral to serve as added security for the bank or lender.

Finally, a merchant credit card advance loan approval does not depend upon the strong or perfect personal credit of the business owner. In fact, the business owner’s personal credit can be quite poor and have a low FICO score, and this will not disqualify the business from being approved for the cash advance. The business owner’s personal credit is usually checked only for the purpose of helping to determine that factoring rate at which the total loan repayment will be made. However, even a business owner with a recently discharged personal bankruptcy can qualify for a merchant credit card cash advance loan.

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Where Social Networking for Business Is Going In The Future

Social networking or social media is heading towards a more business friendly environment. The bigger social media sites were generated with the individual in mind. The features of the current social media networks may not only be ineffective for businesses but also detrimental to developing strong business contacts. These social networks may cause businesses to lose money because they may be too open for businesses to use for everyday business.

A business networking system must be close ended. For a business social network to be effective, it must be like a real Rolodex. When a business meets another business for the first time, they do not want to show off their whole Rolodex on the first meeting. Unfortunately, this is how most of the bigger social networks have built their platform.

Most of the users can see each other in their “friends” and “followers” areas. This can cause some businesses to lose their competitive advantage based on the relationship they have with another one of their business associates. For example, a business may have spent months searching for a wholesale distributor of a certain product. This distributor may be delivering that product at an unbelievable discount that the business can use to generate a great amount of revenue. It would not make sense for a business to reveal who that distributor is to everyone they meet. However, this is exactly what happens in most social networking sites. The full contact, “friends,” and “followers” list is revealed to anyone who becomes a friend or follower of a business.

Generally, any update that any person makes on the regular social media networking systems will push down the updates from any other user (this includes other business entities and potential consumers). This fact alone can mean that a business may miss an important piece of information from a vendor or even a client who wants to make a buying decision. Any information by any person can and will be pushed down by any update in the major social media networks and this is a massive problem for businesses. A business needs a clean social network where contacts cannot see each other unless designated by the business and the stream of communication can be controlled to the point where only pertinent information is seen by the business and not mixed with personal information from personal contacts.

A business owner will likely own more than one business. This means that having one social media or social network profile is not an option for most businesses. Every business needs to be treated as a separate business and have its own profile. This allows a business to avoid a phenomenon called “piercing of the corporate veil” where a business is legally associated to each other by not properly maintaining the borders between two or more businesses. This means more assets can be at stake when a company has legal troubles. Having separate accounts for social media can be very useful for this boundary between businesses and avoids future problems that have to do with litigation.

In the future, social networks will be created with business use in mind and personal use as an afterthought. This change will allow businesses to make better use of the social media systems and allow them to have different profiles and keep contacts from seeing each other on the systems. These businesses will be better prepared for developing contacts through the internet and create a global marketplace that is better suited for the needs of business owners everywhere.

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