Business

Essential Technology Work Tools (Nov 2018)

Here’s our preferred current core ‘technology stack’ at work:

Trello

Trello is our core project management tool.

It has become our central dashboard to running our business. We are power-users at our Firm so we track everything into and via Trello.

All tasks are set up as cards and passed through the Kanban-style workflow process. Boards are linked to other boards so that everything can be seen at the touch of a button.

We know internally where all work is up to, what’s outstanding and what’s been done – all clear from one central dashboard.

Slack

Slack is the ’email-killer’.  It is a great way to communicate both internally and externally with clients (in shared channels).

So much more intuitive and user-friendly than email.

Gmail

When you have to use email, it’s still the best out there.

We just use the normal Gmail client user interface. We’ve trialled different ‘front-ends’ but keep coming back to Gmail primarily due to the add-ons and extensions that can be built in (e.g. into Trello, Slack, Loom etc).

Zoom

The best way of communicating with clients for calls. It can be used both for video and teleconference calls. So much more reliable than Skype. Nice integrations with Google Calendar to set up Zoom meetings directly via calendar invitations too.

There’s a decent free plan.

Loom / Soapbox

Good for quick video screen recordings or short presentations. Both are free in their basic form.

Soapbox is provided via Wistia and is marginally better, but the downside is that you can’t download videos unless you upgrade to their fairly expensive annual subscription.

Cloudapp

Great for quick ‘on-the-fly’ screen-grabs and short GIF demos or how-to explainers. Works well with a Chrome extension and lightening fast.

Zapier

A simply awesome ‘bridge’ to make your favourite apps or online tools (like those above), talk to one another.

Really intuitive, with no coding skills required. Automation at your fingertips. Mind blown…

Which technology tools couldn’t you live without in your business?

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

“The Quality of Your Life is Determined by the Quality of the Questions that You Ask Yourself”

If this quote is true, it begs the question whether we have been digging deep and asking ourselves those powerful questions that might help shape our lives…?

Here are a few to get you thinking:

  1. “Who” not “How”? (don’t try to do it all – find those that already have the skills and hire them)
  2. Do you want to work for your business or do you want your business to work for you?
  3. What are your unique skills? What could you do all day and feel in the flow?
  4. If money was no object, what would you be doing right now?
  5. What is stopping you doing that thing that you answered for Q.4. (hint: it’s probably not solely down to ‘money’)

What are the most powerful questions that you have heard or live by…?

FGB002: Modwenna Rees-Mogg talks raising funding |Crowdfunding | CrowdRating

Fast Growth BusinessWe are delighted to bring you this second episode of the Fast Growth Business podcastthis week we are pleased to welcome as our guest, Modwenna Rees-Mogg, founder of leading private investor news service, Angel News, amongst other entrepreneurial ventures including a new venture aimed at entrepreneurs called CrowdRating.

This podcast is brought to you by ip tax solutions | the innovation tax specialists.

Useful Resource of the Week

Our resource of the week is Rapportive – a useful Gmail extension that brings your social media connections, such as Linkedin, directly into your inbox. It is a good way of keeping in touch with existing contacts and for reaching out to potential new connections…

Guest: Modwenna Rees-Mogg: Angel News | CrowdRating

In this conversation, we cover how Modwenna made the transition from corporate financier to entrepreneur and founded Angel News which brings thought-leadership and insights into the field of private company investment – aimed at both investors and entrepreneurs.

She penned a book on crowdfunding: Crowd Funding: How to Raise Money and Make Money in the Crowd – at a time that was arguably ahead of the curve (much of her forecasts fortunately came true!) – and has she since co-launched a new venture called CrowdRating – the ratings agency for equity crowd funding. This new venture will be of particular interest to founders and entrepreneurs who might be considering raising funding via crowd funding platforms such as Crowdcube.

Modwenna shares her thoughts and views on the private company investing landscape (including SEIS & EIS) plus her view that most founders’ investors might be closer than they think….

You can listen below or access via iTunes.

Seeking your input

Please get in touch with your questions and feedback via Twitter: @iptaxsolutions and/or #fgbpodcast

If you are a UK entrepreneur and would like to share your story, please get in touch as above. Also, if you are involved in advising entrepreneurs on building scalable businesses, we would be delighted to hear from you and to get you involved if you’re the right fit.

Subscribe to receive future episodes

You can subscribe via iTunes or find us on the BusinessN2K.com network.

Listen to this week’s podcast here:

Get a great new car like a Tesla Model S and save tax too!

I have been salivating over the new Tesla Model S that has recently been introduced in the UK. It carries a fairly hefty price tag but given its space-age interior, high performance and ‘cheap as chips’ running costs (its 100% electric) its hard to ignore.

The good news for company owners is that there are some nice tax incentives that can sweeten a deal in getting your mits on one of these cars.

Ordinarily it rarely stacks up from a financial perspective to acquire a car through the company as the driver gets stung for high benefit in kind income tax charges and the company gets sloooooow tax relief in the company. 9 times out of 10 it makes more sense to acquire the company personally and take advantage of the Approved Mileage rates to claw back some of the running costs on business mileage. But there are a handful of exceptions – and this is one of them.

The Government wants to encourage people to invest in low Co2 emission and electric cars so they offer tax incentives. A Tesla Model S ticks all the boxes (for now…)

  1. As it is electric, you can get a 100% write-off against taxable profits in the company. This is huge. A £70k P85 Tesla Model S bought through the company (either outright or via HP) would save corporation tax of c£14k!
  2. There is 0% benefit in kind charge – watch out, this is scheduled to run out on 5 April 2015
  3. No road tax
  4. No London Congestion Charge

There have been tax incentives like this around for a while for low emission cars but, to be frank, these cars have been fairly uninspiring.

The Tesla Model S is a bit of a game-changer in this respect and hopefully opens the doors for more innovative performance cars that both help the environment whilst being functional and fun too (oh and tax friendly!).

Your Virtual Accountant

Today was like many others, but perhaps a world away from just a decade ago for an accountant and client working together.

We wrestled through bank reconciliations, talked through accountancy adjustments, mulled over cost-drivers and shared insights around areas for growth.

We were face to face and looked at the same screen with the same figures. Perhaps nothing particularly strange so far.

Yet we were 100s of miles apart.

We worked together all day. Like we were in the same office (but we were far from it). This was made possible by Google Hangouts, online banking and cloud accounting software (Quickbooks today).

Don’t be restricted by geographical boundaries when seeking financial and tax advice for you and your business. Get the best accountant and tax advisor you can – no matter where they might be….

 

Share Equity: Once it’s gone, it’s gone

Equity Sometimes there is little alternative but to issue shares to investors, employees and other stakeholders. If the company’s an early stage company then it has little else to ‘sweat’ to release some cash.

You might be able to benefit from the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) or the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) but – although technically related to your company – it is the investor that pockets the tax relief (not you). You might be able to squeeze some more cash out of the investors by virtue of the tax relief they will receive but (as the rules currently stand) you have to issue shares to them in return for their investment.

Whilst money for salaries is tight, employees may benefit from an approved share option scheme like the Enterprise Management Incentive Scheme (EMI). Although they only hold a piece of paper entitling them to the shares at some point in the future (say on an exit), you must still take into account the post dilution shareholdings once their shares are issued.

So you started with 100% of the company and very quickly you might find that your shareholding is down to not much over 50%. And then there’s that big VC round you’re contemplating in a year or so – further dilution to come…..

There is only ever 100% to divide up. For each 1% that goes it has gone (probably) for ever. Often it is a price worth paying as the old saying goes,

“its better to have 40% of a successful large pie than 100% of a failing tiddler”

But at every stage you should try to ensure that you have explored incentives that do not require you to part with your equity in your company. 

So you could look at R&D tax credits and grants. Also, further down the line the Patent Box could shave some much needed cash off your corporation tax bill.  These Government tax incentives and grants do not require you to give up any of your shares in return for the cash and so could allow you to get further down the line to achieving your milestones with no further decrease in your shareholding.

Often in practice, companies have little alternative but to push through with investment for shares in the company but its always useful to remember that there are other (non-equity) funding avenues available.

Image: Creative Commons License Richard Potts via Compfight

R&D Tax Credits: How the new HMRC 14.5% cash credit works

I’ve been getting some questions about the new 14.5% R&D tax credit rate announced in the March 2014 Budget Statement and how it works in practise.

So here’s a short video outlining how the effective rate of cash receivable from HMRC increases from 24.75% to 33% on qualifying spend – that’s one third of your R&D expenditure effectively being funded by the Government! 

Plus how it could result in approx £8,000 of additional cash in your bank account for each £100,000 of qualifying spend if your SME is loss-making during its R&D phase.

Please leave your comments or feedback below or get in touch.

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Can I raise funding under both the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)?

The quick answer is YES – you can raise funding under both SEIS and EIS but there are some important points to watch including:

  1. If you wish to raise cash under both schemes, you must issue shares under SEIS before EIS. You can’t raise money and issue shares under EIS and then seek to raise money and issue under shares under SEIS after. It kinda makes sense but one to watch…
  2. You can only follow on with an issue of shares to investors under EIS once you’ve spent at least 70% of the SEIS cash (no sniggering at the back!). This can raise some practical difficulties as the SEIS investment limit for the company is capped at £150,000 so you don’t want to be back out on the investment trail too soon. It is possible to raise the SEIS and EIS money jointly but to take great care in the issue, timing and other matters related to the shares and investors. *******
  3. There are some other ‘funnies’ around timing of appointment to Director etc which can differ between the schemes among other things so you need to take care as you don’t want to jeopardise the EIS relief further down the line.

Drop me a line if you need any help either via the contact page or on Twitter (@stevelivingston) or via my specialist tax advisory firm, ip tax solutions.

******* Note that this 70% rule has been abolished for share issues post 5 April 2015

 

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