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5 ways to manage your business finances

According to a SCORE.org survey, 40 percent of small business owners spend at least 80 hours a year on taxes, payroll, contracts, and working with accountants. Despite the fact that meeting these obligations is absolutely necessary, surely there are ways in which you can better manage your business finances?

Not only will the following suggestions allow you to spend more time on other areas of the business, you should also be able to control spending and enjoy sustainable growth without taking unnecessary financial risks.

  1. Separate Your business and personal finances

"Separating your business and personal finances is essential for organisational and tax reasons—by keeping these finances separate, you’ll have a much easier time managing your bookkeeping and requirements when it comes to business taxes," says Meredith Wood, founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera.

Another reason for separating your business and personal finances is to avoid legal issues. For example, if you were to ever come up against legal trouble with regards to your business, any personal finances would be protected.

  1. Create a cash flow budget

Cash flow is the fuel that keeps the fire of any business burning. Therefore, coming up with a budget will enable you to pay all of your expenses on time as well as help manage your revenues and expenses.

Your cash flow budget should comprise a sales/revenue forecast, anticipated inflows (such as accounts receivable), anticipated outflows (such as cost of goods sold), debt repayments and operating expenses. Keep your cash flow budget up-to-date so that it reflects changes to the business.

  1. Use accounting software

From balance sheets to income statements and revenue forecasts, managing business finances involves a lot of paperwork. Keeping track of this documentation, especially if you manage everything manually, can become overwhelming. That's why accounting software makes perfect sense.

"There are several great accounting software options available that will take the guesswork out of your bookkeeping," says Wood. "Using these cloud-based software services, you can have all of your most important accounting documents just a few clicks away, generate them automatically, and handle invoicing and other bookkeeping needs."

  1. Pay attention to your debts

Very few businesses are entirely debt-free due to loans for capital equipment, commercial mortgage payments or other types of borrowing. However, it's imperative to keep an eye on borrowing costs and asset debts regularly to keep your finances healthy.

If your circumstances change, you may need to reduce - or increase - your debt funding. Don't forget to shop around either, as there could be better ways for you to borrow. Many businesses save a lot of money by shifting debts to a different lender.

  1. Fulfil your business tax responsibilities

"Although taxes are often one of the most cumbersome and confusing parts of small business finance, the consequences for failing to file your state and federal business taxes are severe—you could lose your business and even face criminal charges," warns Wood.

Take the time to understand which taxes you must pay, when forms and payments are due, and how to file those taxes, all of which depends on the legal structure of your business.


Career break: 5 ways to keep your CV fresh

When it’s time to return to work after a career break, it can feel like a big transition. The marketplace is constantly changing, and it’s vital to keep up to date with what skills employers are looking for.

But it doesn’t have to be a struggle, there are several things you can do whilst on your career break to keep your CV fresh, current and exciting.

Here are 5 ways to keep your CV employer ready - even when you’re on a career break:

Freshen up your skills

If you’ve taken a career break, refreshing your skills is essential. Whilst juggling a full-time qualification with other responsibilities might not seem possible, enhancing your skills doesn’t need to be such a big commitment.

Consider finding out what opportunities are available at your local college or learning centre. Just one night a week or a one-off class could help boost your CV, whilst also coming with the added bonus of getting out of the house, networking and meeting new people.

So, reflect on the industry you’re looking to get back into and enrol yourself onto a relevant course – or two!
 

Take up volunteering

When on a career break, volunteering can be a great way to slowly transition back into employment. Whether supporting at a charitable event, helping with fundraising activities or volunteering regularly at a charity shop, volunteering in all its forms makes a great addition to your CV.

Charities constantly need new recruits, so start your search by viewing websites to see what opportunities are available in your local area. You can also search “volunteer” on the major job sites, or just drop in and ask how you can help.

This will enable you to incorporate examples of sought-after soft skills within your CV. Depending on your profession, you might also be able to find opportunities which enable you to build upon your hard, sector-specific skills - for example, a marketing professional could volunteer to run a charity’s social media profiles.

Stay up to date with your sector

Tailoring your CV to your chosen industry is key, and this is even more relevant when you have taken a career break. Industries are constantly evolving and social issues such as employment rates and Brexit can dramatically affect the marketplace, meaning it’s vital to keep up to date.

Reading industry specific blogs, magazines, books or news articles, can keep you in tune with the latest industry advancements. Plus, you can make the search even easier by signing up to Google alerts.

Ultimately, it’s essential to ensure you aren’t out of sync. Spend an hour or so a week researching news or best practise updates will allow you to keep your CV accurate, show your commitment to your field and help you to impress in an interview.

Start a side-project

When looking to re-join the workforce, a side-project can be a great way to gain new skills and get your CV noticed by employers.

Whether it’s starting a blog, launching a small business or even being open to freelancing/ consultancy opportunities, side projects allow recruiters an insight into your work-ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and self-motivation. Plus, you might be even be able to pick up some extra income along the way!

Consider the industry you want to work within and link your side project to skills needed in those types of roles.

Take an online course

Adding additional qualifications or skills to your CV doesn’t need to be limited to enrolling in college courses. You can simply login to your computer to open up a world of affordable and sometimes even free courses.

Dedicate time to boosting the skills needed in your chosen field, whether that’s by completing a qualification over a few months or taking several short courses.

Look at job adverts in your respected industry to identify the skills and qualifications employers are looking for, then use your career break as a chance to develop this skillset. With the sheer number of free courses and knowledge available at your fingertips, all you need is your laptop and some self-motivation!

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.


5 Factors to Consider when looking for a Career Change

5 factors you need to consider when looking for a career change

A career change is an exciting move. And, it needn’t matter whether you are in your 20s or in your 50s: you can always make the move to bigger and better things! However, before you make that big change, consider these five factors of changing career first:

1. Are you changing careers for the right reason?

If your current career is affecting your health negatively, not providing any stimulation, is a dead end in terms of progression or you dread going into the office, then these are valid reasons for moving jobs. However, simply changing careers for the money and moving a career or industry that perhaps isn’t your passion isn’t a good enough reason. Money is important, but it shouldn’t be the sole factor for moving careers. Find something you want to get out of bed for.

2. Are any qualifications required?   

Before you hand in your notice it’s a good idea to check if any qualifications are required for your new desired career path. Let’s say you intend to apply for caterer jobs: do you need training in kitchen work or food preparation before you can start? Is this something you will need to pay for out of your own pocket or is training offered on the job? It would be nice to obtain a new position on enthusiasm alone, but some industries require the right qualifications to get started.

3. Will you need to move to a new location?

Perhaps the positions you want are only available in London or even abroad. Are you prepared to make the move for your dream career? If you are comfortable where you are currently or can’t move for whatever reason, it might impact on any opportunities available. However, it may also prevent you from making any rash decisions, so take stock of what’s important to you and whether or not you’re prepared to move away to to make your new career work.

4. Are you ready to start from scratch?

Embarking on a new career means you might loose all reputability and contacts you had in your previous role. In fact, you’ll have to start again when it comes to making a name for yourself, as well making the effort to network with key people within the industry. Some careers can overlap when it comes to contacts and your experience, but be prepared to work your way up from the bottom again.

5. Do you understand what will be expected of you?

In your current position, perhaps you have got used to driving into work in half an hour, sitting at your desk and not moving much all day. In a new career you could be in meetings all day, visiting clients in their offices, picking up the phone all the time, driving around the country – are you prepared for the big changes that come with a career move and can you keep up? Humans are creatures of habit and sometimes it can be hard to break the habits we’re used to.

Before you change career consider these factors and then make an informed decision. Discuss your options with friends and family, ensure you are making the move for the right decision and then get out there with your CVs to embark on an exciting new path!


 

6 positives from redundancy -

Redundancy is no longer the devastating news from previous years; in fact, it can now be a beneficial experience. Here are six ways to turn it into a positive experience.

Money

The most immediate positive, and potentially a very lucrative one, especially if you’re leaving with an enhanced redundancy package after several years’ service. You’ll need to have worked for at least two years (and not opted for early retirement), but for each year you’ve worked you should get 1.5 weeks’ pay if over the age of 41, a week’s pay if over 22, and half a week if under.

What you do with the money is up to you – it might simply be used to pay bills or the mortgage, but if you’ve found another job it could be put towards a new car or holiday, or something else equally pleasant.

Decision made for you

Some workers can request redundancy but others have it pushed on them – subject to consultation. For those who have been thinking about leaving, and maybe half-heartedly applying to jobs here and there, an actual forced removal can clarify and crystallise your mindset. Your thoughts may go from “I might do this” to “I have to do this” – a metaphorical kick up the backside that can be of benefit.

Chance to reassess

Redundancy also gives you the chance to sit back and take a look at your life and career. Are you in the right industry? Is it time for a break? Why was your role chosen for redundancy, and not others? Would you go back if offered the choice?

You’ll have a period of time to take stock, so use it wisely; carry out extensive research, and speak to experts. Perhaps a fresh outlook, considering your skills and moving in a new direction in life, is what is needed. Your money could be used to train in a completely new field, or to go travelling, or to help you volunteer. Spend time with family members, children and gauge their advice. Also, if you’ve ever had any intentions of starting your own business you’ve now got money, time, and a wealth of experience to help set it up.

Getting out of a dying company

Vibrant, growing businesses don’t make roles redundant. In fact, it’s often one of the final steps taken in a bid to keep the company viable. Therefore, your removal can be a blessing in disguise, especially if you go early; if you leave while others are kept on, you won’t have as many ex-colleagues to compete against for new roles.

Normally, redundancy isn’t a surprise. Whispers and rumours will have circulated, share prices will have suffered, and senior managers will have been coy. An example of the atmosphere can be viewed in this piece on the demise of the Independent, and the gagging agreements that are in place. Does it sound positive?

Part time negotiation

This won’t be an advantage for everyone, but there might be more convenient options available to fit in your lifestyle when a company restructures. Not everyone’s role will necessarily be made redundant; some might go part time, while others might work on a freelance basis. You might be able to take on a different role in the company, or work from home. If any of these ideas have crossed your mind, the consultation period is the time to raise them.

Doesn’t look bad on your CV

Previous eras of ‘one-company workers’, who go in at 16 and leave in their 60s, are now very rare. Where redundancy used to be an earth-shattering experience and one frowned upon by potential employers, it isn’t really even a factor any more when bosses look through the files. The key is to be open and honest about what happened, but leaving the bitterness behind. Turn it into a positive and a chance to move on.



Save on your childcare costs!

The soaring cost of childcare is never far from the headlines and more and more we’re hearing how difficult it can be to find cost effective ways of handling your childcare needs.

In a recent study, Family Investments found that, on average, mums working full-time spend four months’ worth of their salary on childcare costs.  Care-4, the UK's leading electronic childcare voucher solution offer a fully managed electronic childcare voucher scheme providing savings and added value benefits to parents, as well as offering a high quality service to employers, carers and parents.

The care-4 scheme allows you to take advantage of the childcare voucher legislation, which  enables you to save both tax and National Insurance up to £55 per week (£243 per month) of the costs that you would normally pay for Registered or Approved childcare.

You simply agree to exchange a portion of your salary in return for this benefit and you can save up to £1,224 per year, depending on the rate at which you pay tax and National Insurance. An illustration of potential savings are detailed below for new joiners from 6th April 2011. 

Find out more here


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