High banking charges hinder SME expansion

A  study of 3,000 small business owners has found that high banking charges are a bigger obstacle to international expansion than Brexit red tape. It is claimed that last year UK small businesses lost £2.8bn to hidden fees. This resulted in 69% of them being prevented from expanding further. Business owners said they struggle to compare the market. This was due to a “corporate opt out” that allows banks to hide their fees in the exchange rate.

Calls to end ‘Opt out’.

One of the international account providers, is calling on ministers to end ‘the opt out’. Also to ban hidden fees for businesses and consumers. Two-thirds of business leaders agree that ‘the opt out’ should be removed. They believe that regulation should require banks to be transparent about international payment costs. Research shows that, if the cost of international banking services were reduced, 34% of SMEs would enter new markets. Also 27% would hire more staff!

iBOSS Comment:  

Anything that can help to promote exports is to be encouraged. Banks should realise that they also would benefit from this in the future! Short-term pain for long-term Gain! Call us at iBOSS for business planning and advice on Home and Export markets. For help in raising finance click onto this link to our sister company BFS

#businessadvice #businessplanning #businessgrowth #export advice

UK manufacturing continues to struggle.

It is reported that UK manufacturing continues to struggle. This is due, in part, to continued supply chain difficulties. The S&P Global/CIPS UK manufacturing PMI survey shows a slight reduction in the rate of decline. The sector remains, however, below the contraction threshold. Manufacturers are adopting a cost-cautious approach. This is leading to cutbacks in purchasing and stock holdings.

Rob Dobson, director at S&P Global Market Intelligence, notes the widespread struggle across all UK manufacturing sub-industries. The 11th consecutive month of manufacturing production decline is attributed to weaker levels of new work and supply chain delays. As we all know, this is leading to disruption in the Red Sea route to the Suez Canal. The result has been to cause longer lead times. Inevitably, this has led to increased costs and slowed production rates, not just in the UK, but throughout Europe and beyond. This, in turn has been a contributory factor to recent inflation.

iBOSS Comment:

This is bad news for an economy that urgently needs to improve its overall economic performance and its trade balance in particular. If supply chain problems are limiting the growth of your business or, even worse, threatening its existence, then call Phil Jones on 07876 503 830. If your problem is finance/cashflow for the business , then call Peter Douglas on 07770 866955. We will be happy to provide a free consultation on your options.

Highest Consumer confidence for 2 years

The Times reports improved optimism in household finances over the next 12 months. This has led to an increase in the overall index of consumer confidence. The personal finance expectations index on which this report was based, was flat in January. This was the first time in two years that it has not been negative. GfK, who generated the Index, said “consumer confidence has started the year well. Despite the cost-of-living crisis still affecting many households across the UK, consumers appear to be encouraged by the positive news about falling inflation.”

iBoss Comment:  Good news for our economy which needs whatever boosts it can get! If you this news encourages you to grow your business and you need some new ideas, then call Phil on 07876 503830 for a free consultation.

FSB calls for VAT threshold change

The report by FSB is calling for the Government to consider raising the VAT threshold from £85,000 to £100,000. The argument is that this will remove a barrier to growth. Since the present freeze was introduced in 2017, more companies are being brought into the VAT system due to inflation.

It is estimated that around 26,000 businesses are limiting their growth to avoid crossing the threshold. So, the arguement goes,raising the threshold would increase productivity, capital, and employment in the economy. The report suggests allowing companies with sales between £100,000 and £120,000 to apply for a rebate on VAT. This would reduce gradually as turnover grows. The present VAT freeze will bring in an additional £1.4bn a year by 2027-28. The counterargument, however,  is that a lower threshold will bring more traders into the system thereby increasing Government revenues.

iBOSS Comment:  

Whilst the imposition of VAT puts an  additional burden on the ‘admin’ function, is this outweighed by the ability to reclaim VAT on purchases? Alternatively, does the absence of VAT on sales offer the options of being able to offer more competitive prices or have greater margins? Would raising the threshold really benefit SMEs? Must say the ‘rebate’ idea sounds a bit complicated too!

HMRC Employer Bulletin

The HMRC has published its latest issue of bi-monthly ‘The HMRC Employer Bulletin’. This is a publication that provides information on the latest matters relating to company payroll. The December issue has information on a range of topics, including:

  • National minimum wage. Geographical compliance approach – support for employers.
  • Payrolling expenses and benefits for the 2024/25 tax year.
  • Off-payroll working rules (IR35) – opportunities to pause settlement.
  • Help to check whether work qualifies for R&D Tax relief.
  • Making sure you stay on top of your workplace pension duties.
  • Childcare choices – helping families to juggle work and life priorities.

For more detailed information follow this link.

BFS Comment:  

The HMRC Employer Bulletin is a publication, with payroll-related information. Every SME owner/manager or at least their accountants, should be aware of it (and read it)! If you do not have access to the necessary advice on how to interpret the HMRC advice then contact us at iBOSS and we will introduce you to someone who can help. Simply call Phil on 07876 503830 or e-mail him at phil@theiboss.co.uk. Alternatively visit our web site www.theiboss.co.uk and complete the enquiry form. We look forward to hearing from you.

#HMRCadvice #payrollupdates #HMRCbulletin

Setting up a ‘Smart-tech business?

The Scotsman reports that a new partnership has been established between the UK Government, Glasgow City Council and the Smart Things Accelerator Centre (STAC). The  aim is to transform Glasgow into Europe’s largest smart tech innovation hub. It involves a £2.5m investment into a state-of-the-art facility called “the beyond” at SkyPark, Finnieston. The plan is to create an innovation leader in smart technologies. This will focus on industrial, lifestyle, health and sustainability technologies. Industry executives from major organisations such as Dyson, Plexus, Meta, Blackberry, Motorola and Volvo Cars are supporting the plans. The partnership projects that as many as 100 companies will be up and running by the end of 2024. A representative of Glasgow council said: “We will empower Glasgow’s start-ups to hone their technologies here and then compete internationally – bringing a great number of new jobs and careers in this sector.”

iBOSS Comment:  iBOSS works with clients throughout the UK. If you are considering setting up a hi-tech/smart-tech business in Glasgow, or elsewhere, and need help with the logistics and/or funding of such an operation then give Phil a call on 07876 503830. Or you can e-mail him at phil@theiboss.co.uk for a free consultation on how we can provide the services you need.

Advice on Cyber security from Keba Computers

As we are all aware cyber security protection for our IT systems is increasingly becoming a problem. This is true for all businesses and individuals. We have worked with Keba Computers for many years and have always valued their advice. Indeed we are happy to recommend their IT services to any SMEs. So, for this reason we are happy to provide this link to their latest publication which has advice on cyber security. We would strongly advise all to read it and take note of this advice. Thanks Neil and the Team at Keba.

Board directors willing to take on more risk in 2024

According to a recent report, more than 60% of board directors are willing to take on additional risk next year. A survey found that many directors’ appetites for risk has been boosted by a number of factors. These include the prospect of falling interest rates and the availability of more ‘distressed’ sales. There is also a ‘feeling’ that prices for takeover targets are dropping. This has made deals more attractive and affordable, particularly in the case of distressed purchases.

Having said this, the survey also shows that some 18% of directors expect to become more cautious. The main reasons for this apparent fall in risk appetite are inflation and political instability. Despite being prepared to consider increased risk, directors have particular concerns about tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine. There is also worry about the risk of recession in major global economies.

iBOSS Comment:

Whilst this item applies particularly to larger corporations, if you are considering business acquisition, especially if it is for the first time, then come and talk to us at iBOSS. We have broad experience of supporting both individuals and companies in this kind of project. Call Peter on 07770 866 955 for an initial consultation or e-mail him on peter@theiboss.co.uk.

Are you stressed & losing sleep over  how to expand your business?

Increasing numbers of people are stressed and losing sleep worrying over how to expand thier business. A recently Nat-West commissioned report says that 60% of businesses have admitted that 2023 is one of their most stressful years. Top of  the list of the biggest challenges are:

  1. Generating new business.
  2. Coping with rising operational costs.
  3. Balancing work with their personal lives. Some 39% say they are regularly working beyond normal working hours. Also 34% are sacrificing their weekends taking work calls.

The vast majority of business owners (92%) have taken steps to reduce their stress in the workplace. This has been achieved by making healthier lifestyle choices and taking short breaks throughout the day. The NatWest-commissioned report also found that 59% of bosses admit they feel nervous when pitching & presenting to clients. So, to grow their enterprise, business owners and CEOs are focusing on product diversification (27%). Also they are ‘beefing-up’ their digital e-commerce presence (26%). A quarter (26%) are also exploring how they can adapt to new and emerging technologies to deliver that growth.

iBOSS Comment:

One way to reduce the stress whilst growing your business is to seek advice from experienced professionals. That’s where iBOSS comes in. Our Team have many years of working both with our own businesses and in helping others to achieve growth, or in some cases recovery. To learn more about the help we can offer call Phil on 07876 503830 for a free consultation.

#growmybusiness #businessgrowth #businessrecovery #businessadvice

Plans to crack down on companies with poor customer service.

It is reported that Companies with a poor Customer Service record could face fines under plans being considered by the Government. The proposals, developed by Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, aim to give regulators more power to address bad customer service. They include measures to tackle “drip pricing”. They will make it easier for consumers to change and cancel contracts. MP John Penrose supports the plans. He said “Making the consumer king or queen means we all get better deals. If we don’t like something, we can vote with our feet and take our business elsewhere.” He added: “It’s the simplest, most profound way of handing power back to citizens.”

iBOSS Comment:

Sounds like a good and potentially popular move. It remains to be seen whether it works. If attaining a satisfactory level of customer service has become a problem in your business, then give us a call at iBOSS and benefit from our experience. Just call Phil on 07876 503830 for a free consultation on how we can help.

#goodcustomerservice #improvedcustomerservice