Monday, 25 August 2008

HMRC Introduces Streamlined Tax Returns And Extended Penalties

The self-assessment tax return for self employed people who do not use an accountant has been simplified, with fewer questions and easier language.
Questions about less common types of income and reliefs have been moved to the Additional Information pages, whilst there is a new two-page form for more straightforward, smaller businesses, with turnover below £64,000.

Although online SA Tax Returns still need to be filed by 31 January, the deadline for paper returns has been shortened to 31 October.

What the Tax Man giveth, he also taketh away!

The 2008 Finance Bill has also extended penalties for the period from 1 April 2008 (due to be filed by 1 April 2009)

HMRC will charge penalties for documents containing careless or deliberate inaccuracies that lead to understatement of tax liabilities, a false or inflated statement of loss, or inflated claim for the repayment of tax. Their aim is to crack down on those who do not comply, whilst helping those who do.

They suggest that reasonable care should be taken when completing forms because errors will be penalised, and recommend that early disclosure of errors will reduce those penalties.

Top Ten Money Making Tips For A Successful Business

Earlier this month, Sonia Colon, the lady behind My Fashion E-Mall Blog gave us some top tips on running a successful business. In this post, she takes a look at the top ten tips for maximising the earnings potential of a successful business.

1. Quality
Provide a quality product/service which people want and need.
2. Customer Loyalty/Service
Help your customers feel that they can trust you. Be honest and trustworthy. Offer money back guarantees and stick to your policies. Treat your customers like gold.
3. Offer something for free once in awhile
Your customers concern is how your product can help them. How will it meet their needs; improve their lives; make them happier; etc. Offer something of value and they will buy what you’re selling.
4. Creative / Unique
Own and control your products/services. Offer something that only YOU can provide. Have exclusive control over at least one of your products/services. It should be something that people cannot find anywhere else and wanted by a lot of people.
5. Make Money to Spend Money
Spend money on advertising and promotion. Although there are many free methods to work within your budget, you will still need to spend some money in order to make money.
6. Put back in what you harvest
Take a portion of your profits and re-invest that money back into the business. Use that money to purchase more ads, brochures, catalogs, t-shirts, flyers, etc.
7. Grow and Multiply
Put others firstSatisfy the needs of others. Help them achieve their dreams. Show your expertise and in the process others will follow your lead.
8. Seek the Help of Others
Use services to help you reach a wider audience, such as dealers, distributors, Internet, customers and networking.
9. Other Successful Business Owners
Seek the advise of other successful people. Find someone who is making the kind of money that you want to make. Do exactly what they are doing, why re-invent the wheel?
10. Get Personal
Know your customers by name. Thank your customers and acknowledge them.
There you have it the “Top ten money making tips for a successful business”
Thanks again, Sonia!
Sonia Colon is writer/publisher of My Fashion E-Mall Blog & The Biz Buzz of a Latina Mom Blog! Writing & sharing powerful business articles & successful Internet marketing tips on starting & maintaining a lucrative work-at-home business is a passion

New Personal Allowances From September

Next month, new changes will be implemented to personal tax allowances and bandings, as part of the Chancellor’s measures to offset the effects of the removal of the 10p in the pound tax band.

Personal Allowances for the 2008-09 tax year will be increased, by £600, to £6,035 (from the current £5,435). This will coincide with a reduction of the basic rate tax band limit from £36,000 to £34,800. (This is the income level, over which, we will pay higher rate tax).

If you are an employee, the changes will take effect on the first day on or after 7 September 2008, and will be back dated to the beginning of the tax year (April 2008). As self employed, these changes will be reflected in our 2008-09 Self Assessment Tax Return.

The changes will equate to an annual tax saving of around £120 per year (or £2.30 per week). Due to the backdating of the changes, depending on the date and amount they are paid, most employees will see a £60 or £70 reduction in their tax bill in the month of September or October respectively.

These changes are designed to benefit basic rate tax payers only. Higher rate tax payers will see no benefit at all, as the higher rate tax threshold has been reduced proportionately to counteract the increased personal allowances.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

HM Revenue & Customs Issue Notice of Frauds & Scams

Many people are currently in receipt of emails purporting to be from HM Revenue & Customs, and offering substantial rebates.

Although these emails appear to bear all the right logos and details, we should all be aware that they are fake, and, as with all such emails, we should never respond to an email that asks for personal information.

Whilst it is quite conceivable that HMRC may send out emails, from time to time, they would never do so requesting login names, passwords, bank and / or credit card details.

If you suspect you may have received one of these emails, under no circumstances should you follow any links within the mail, or disclose any of the information requested. Forward the mail to HMRC, at Although HMRC can't, obviously, reply to every email, it will help with the reduction of online fraud.

If you have reason to believe to suspect that your personal details have been stolen, you should report the incident to your Internet Service Provider, as they are able to close down sites that subsequently prove to be fraudulent.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Top Tips On Improving Cash Flow With Jigsaw Business Services

After 20 years working with businesses to help them improve their cashflow, Julie Owen, of Jigsaw Business Services gives us some of her top tips on how we might be able to achieve some of these results within our own businesses.

1) Contracts, Letter of Engagement or Head of Terms

It may sound obvious but, whether you’re selling a service or product, do you have a document which your client has signed to say they would like to enter into an agreement with you? The detail of the item being purchased along with the cost and timescales should also be included in the document. Should your client dispute the level of service or goods provided, you can refer to this contract, letter of engagement or Head of Terms to ensure you have delivered what was agreed at the price agreed. This way your invoices are less likely to be disputed.

2) Consider Whether You Have The Right Business Processes in Place

How will you deliver the service or product? What processes does your business need to have in place to ensure the smooth delivery? Do you have the necessary project management quality systems in place? How many times have you ordered a product and something has arrived broken or missing? Having the right business processes in place can and will save companies money in the long term. Business processes should be tailored to your business and that doesn’t mean lots of endless form filling. Remember, only happy clients will signoff the service or product. Unhappy clients will leave your invoice to gather dust on their desks!Where a business is providing a service, whether a one off service or one which will take several months to deliver, think about when you will invoice the client. Could you ask for staged payments rather than wait until you’ve delivered the service before invoicing?

3) Invoicing

Once you’ve agreed the invoicing schedule for each client, put these into one document to make it easy to refer to and which will clearly state all your client invoices to be issued each month making it easy to know who to invoice when.

Don’t leave it until the end of the month before drafting and issuing your invoices. Invoice your clients as soon as you’ve delivered the product/service or at the agreed stages during the project.

Think about who drafts and issues the invoices, are they the right person to do this? What business processes do you have in place to ensure your invoices are issued efficiently? Do they include all the expenses i.e. travel, postage etc, you have incurred? These costs really can mount up over 12 months and, by not passing on these costs to your clients, will result in an erosion of your profit!Explore whether you can issue invoices earlier in the month. If you only invoice at the end of the month and your terms are 30 days, it is likely you will not receive payment until the end of the following month, i.e. when you have to pay salaries and VAT. So by issuing as many invoices as you can during the month, it hopefully means you will have monies coming in during the month hence reducing your business risk and for the need of overdrafts or loans.

4) Cash Control

Who does this task in your business? If you are a Managing Director or a Director, is this a good use of your time and skills? Are you effective enough i.e. are you to close to the situation, do you think you might upset your clients, so don’t talk to them about overdue monies owing? Are your clients settling invoices within the agreed business terms? If not, then why not? It is very important to think about this area and to be honest.

If you have a member of staff performing this role, review how effective they are. Have they received proper training? Do they actually chase clients for payment? I have come across many companies where staff don’t like chasing for monies owed and have even admitted they actually don’t do it, keeping busy on other tasks in order to ‘get out’ of having to pick up the phone.

In this current climate, clients are unlikely to settle invoices if they are not being actively chased. This will become more apparent over the coming months, and it’s very important for businesses to keep on top of debtors.

If a client consistently takes longer to settle invoices i.e. not as agreed in your business terms, then ask yourself the question: Do I want to continue to do business with them? The answer may be yes, but you are then making the conscious decision. By ensuring you have the right business processes and people in place performing the right tasks, it reduces the need for you to make this decision. A business can only afford to have 1 or 2 clients who may take longer to pay than the agreed business terms. If you have more, you need to give this some urgent attention.

5) Cash Flow

Can you project your cash flow at the end of any one week or month? Do you know when monies are due in and when payments need to be made?

By monitoring cash flow based on sales, purchases, direct debits and standing orders, you can easily see if your business is generating enough sales or whether your overheads are too high. Monitoring cashflow will give you an early indication that more sales are needed or a reduction in overheads is required. You can then make an informed decision as you are in control. So many businesses don’t have this system in place and are put in a position of taking large overdrafts or loans which only further impacts on the business.

Reading the above tips may well lead us to ask ourselves the all important question; "Am I in control of my business?" If the answer is; "Yes" then you probably have a healthy business. If not, then what are you going to do about it?

For a no-obligation informal conversation about any of the issues raised above, contact Julie, on 07973 715738, or visit

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Top 6 Tips For Business Success

Sonia Colon offers the six essential skills to business success. Sonia says you may not have developed all of these skills, but like most things in life, you can by learning, practicing and determination. Implement them and you’ll be on the right track.

1. Personal Skills

A healthy self esteem is necessary for you to tackle the day to day tasks of business. As an entrepreneur, you will spend a great deal of time working solo. Listen to your heart but consult your head before making final business decisions. Keep motivated by staying on track of plans and organization.

2. Communication Skills

You must sharpen your communication skills if they have become a little rusty. You may find yourself needing to communicate with lawyers, accountants, bank managers etc. You need to be able to get your message across clearly. Good communication will reduce the chance of being misunderstood. It’s essential to be able to communicate effectively at a variety of levels, in a variety of manners, to a variety of people. There are many self-help books on this topic.

3. People Skills

People will make or break your business. You will make or break your business. You are Your business. The way you deal with people will determine much of you business success. Good manners, politeness, and attentiveness to your customers’ needs are what will ensure repeat business. Customers need to feel that they are important to you.

4. Marketing Skills

To round off your entrepreneurial skills, you will have to have a sound knowledge of marketing your business. Marketing is the ability to communicate to your potential customers and inform them of your products and or services. Know how to define and target your market. You need to know what will work for your business. Read books, talk to others and observe how other types of businesses successfully market their businesses. Usually effective marketing involves a combination of many techniques that can change from time to time.

5. Technical Skills

Read books, attend seminars, workshops, trade shows and conferences to add to your technical knowledge and keep a leading edge on your competition. Don’t make the mistake of working at your business and forget to work on your business. Never cease your education in your area of expertise, and remember to keep up with the changing technology within your chosen field.

6. Financial Skills

You have to be financially knowledgeable in the business world. Your entrepreneurial knowledge should include basic accounting, organizational and administrative skills, an understanding of all tax laws, federal and provincial requirements, and an in-depth knowledge of the business that you are running.

It may sound like a lot to learn, but take heart. You can learn everything you need to know to run a successful business. No one was born a business HOT-SHOT. There are an abundance of courses offering business management training. There are also self-help books that can assist you with the financial aspects of your business needs.

Sonia Colon is writer/publisher of My Fashion E-Mall Blog & The Biz Buzz of a Latina Mom Blog! Writing & sharing powerful business articles & successful Internet marketing tips on starting & maintaining a lucrative work-at-home business is a passion.