Top Three Accountants in Maidstone

By Athos Louca
1 min read

Loucas have been awarded one of the Top Three Best Rated Accountants in Maidstone, Kent. Using a 50-point inspection, The Three Best Rated team based the Top Three Accountants award on reputation, history, value for money and reviews from clients.

 


Top Accountants in Maidstone Kent

The Best Three Rated team add, “we display only businesses that are verified by our employees. You can call it “Due Diligence” or “Common Sense. We call it Hard Work. Our website is updated on a regular basis for quality and latest business information. ”

Are you looking for business or tax advice? Do you need expert help in evaluating your business or personal finances? Contact our accountants team today to get startedT: 01622 758257  

Can you claim vat back on your staff Christmas party?

By Stuart Shaw
2 min read

With Christmas fast approaching many Company Directors want to thank and reward their staff for their hard work. For limited companies, there are certain tax benefits on staff annual and Christmas parties and giving gifts to employees.

Tax free staff Annual and Christmas parties

For any annual event, be it a summer BBQ or Christmas Party, HMRC provides a tax relief for all employees set at £150 per head. The total claim for any annual events combined requires being below the £150 limit to qualify per employee.

How to calculate the cost per head?

The cost per head for the whole event from start to finish can include;

  • food
  • drink
  • entertainment
  • taxis home
  • overnight accommodation

If the VAT, inclusive of cost of the event is over the £150 limit the whole benefit is taxable as a benefit in kind. To calculate the cost per head of your annual or Christmas party, divide the total cost of the function by the number of employees.

Can you bring a guest?

The events are mainly for entertaining employees. If the company has several branches then the event is open to all staff in their location. The £150 threshold is per employee and is split between any employees’ partners or guests who attend too. The cost of the whole event is an allowable expense for your business.

Can you invite suppliers or customers?

When inviting customers or suppliers to the Christmas party, VAT relief may be restricted as non-employees are also being entertained. Event’s for only directors, partners or sole proprietors,  will not be tax deductible as all employees are required to be invited for it to qualify.

What gifts can you give that are tax allowable?

Employers can give gifts listed below to employees as tax deductible, trivial benefit, as long as it does not exceed £50.

  • Turkey,
  • a bottle of wine
  • a box of chocolates

Unfortunately, a hamper with food and wine will not be classed as a trivial benefit. Christmas presents paid in cash to staff are taxed as earnings with tax and national insurance. This also applies with gift vouchers in excess of £50 which are exchangeable for goods and services too.

Record keeping for your annual and Christmas parties

For all events, keep the receipts. By make a note of the employees who attended keeps records organised too.

From Loucas we hope you enjoy your Christmas festivities and that your employees also enjoy their seasonal gifts.

Have a great time.

For more advice on trivial benefits read more on trivial benefits and what they are?

Do you have a networking strategy?

By Athos Louca
3 min read

Do you have a networking strategy?

It takes time and commitment to build up and maintain an effective network, but in our experience these are resources well spent. As with so many aspects of business life, it pays to approach networking in an organised, strategic manner. Read our guide on tips to networking.

Networking

Before the Networking Event

Researching networking events before you attend to find out who will be there and what industries they are from is key.  This will help you decide if the event is the right one for you. Will attending likely yo introduce you to the types of customers you are looking for?

One tip to stand out from the other networkers is by offering some invaluable information. This could be useful advice, a contact or information the person you are talking to  is interested in. To help you break the ice and start conversations with others it’s a good idea to give some thought to possible conversation starters you could use.

During the event

Introducing yourself and approaching people you don’t necessarily know can be daunting. Aim to make a personal connection though talking about your hobbies or even better about their hobbies and interests. Don’t feel the need to rush into talking about work related topics or trying to sell something and when you do get round to talking about your business refrain from using jargon.

When contacts are talking, listen intently and show interest in what they are saying.  Avoid getting distracted by just thinking about what to say next. This will help the conversation flow better and you to connect with the potential customers or contacts.  Individuals like talking about their businesses so asking thoughtful questions is a great way to make a lasting first impression.

Remember to smile.  Not only does smiling make it easier for people to connect with you because you are more open and welcoming, it also helps them remember you and your company.

If a fellow networker hands you their business card, make a positive statement rather then putting it in your pocket.  By commenting on their business, it will show that you are interested in them, as opposed to just trying to making a sale.

After the event

Having done the hard bit, it is important to maintain a database of all the contacts you have met.  They should be put into different categories such as potential customer, referral contact or professional advisor.  This will also help you prioritise those contacts that perhaps will be the most useful to you in the future.

After the event, take the time to  email the contacts you made and connect with them on LinkedIn.  If you are able to make reference to their business or the service they are providing it will again demonstrate that you were listening. You stand a far better chance of developing the relationship further.  This is also an opportunity for you to more formally introduce your business and explain how you could work together in the future.

Future growth

To maintain successful business relationships you will need to ensure that you keep in regular contact.  Consider arranging further meetings every few months, even if it is just to grab a quick coffee together. The relationships forged from networking can be invaluable to start a collaboration, partnership or take advice from someone who you consider knowledgeable. Networking doesn’t necessarily have to be frequent or time consuming. If you want your business to grow then it is something business owners need to invest time in. If you don’t, the chances are they will simply fall by the wayside.

To help evaluate and improve your networking approach why not take our Network Strategy Test.

Ratio Analysis: Measuring Business Performance

By Athos Louca
2 min read

Ratios are calculated from an organisation’s financial statements and are an effective business tool in measuring its performance. By comparing the ratios to those of the previous year it is possible to determine whether a business is doing better this year than last year.

It is also possible to compare ratios of one organisation against those of another in a similar industry, a practice known as Benchmarking.  This helps identify areas in which one business is either under performing or indeed is out performing another.  Undertaking ratio analysis and making comparisons to market leaders within your industry will help focus on areas which require attention. It is important not to simply calculate as many ratios as possible, but to identify those most relevant to your business.

Ratio Categories

There are many different ratios that can be calculated and which can be grouped together into five main categories:

  • Profitability
  • Liquidity
  • Operational
  • Solvency
  • Gearing

Different interpreters of the financial statements will be more interested in certain ratios than others.  For example, lenders will be interested in Gearing ratios such as interest cover and debt to equity. Whilst other business owners are likely to concentrate on Profitability and Operational ratios.

Measuring Business Performance and Target Setting

By carefully selecting the most suitable ratios business owners and managers can use the results to gain a better understanding of how their organisation is performing.  The same ratios can also be used to set future targets.

For example, a business may be experiencing cash flow problems.  The business owner believes that his customers are taking too long to settle their accounts.  By calculating their debtors days and recording the results, it will be possible not only to establish what the current position is, but also to set targets for the future.  This may be to reduce the debtor days from thirty five to twenty five days.  A reduction in debtor days will help ease cash flow and reduce the risk of bad debts.

An organisation should select a number of ratios which provide key information about its performance.  These are known as Key Results Indicators.  Whilst these will vary from business to business some of the most common are listed below:

  • Gross Profit Margin
  • Net Profit Margin
  • Trading Overheads as percentage of Turnover
  • Debtor & Creditor Days
  • Current Ratio
  • Debt to Equity
  • Return on Capital Employed

The calculated ratios should be recorded in a concise format and form part of the management information reports.  The use of graphs will allow trends to be easily identified, avoiding the risk of getting lost in the numbers.

We have helped many clients design and implement effective ratios as part of their business key performance indicators to help them assess where their business is.  If you would like any assistance on selecting the right ratios and other key performance indicators, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Financing Your Startup – Part 1 working out how much you need

By Athos Louca
2 min read

If a new business is going to stand any chance of surviving then it is essential that you have sufficient financial resources in place to see it through its early stages and beyond.

Those setting up in business have a number of different options available to them when it comes to sourcing funding for their venture.  Understanding what these mean for your business will help ensure you choose the most appropriate type of finance for you.

Working out how much you need

Before talking to any investors you must first establish exactly how much money will be required.

Too often business owners only consider how much they will need to actually set up the business such as buying computer equipment or building a website, it is also vital that consideration is made for the ongoing running costs of the business.  This is known as working capital.  It is likely to take sometime for revenues to grow as the business establishes itself, during this time funds will be needed to fund ongoing costs such as rent, wages, stocks etc.

A cash flow forecast should be put together for the first 12 months of the business which will show the monthly opening and closing cash position of the business based on your budgeted business activity.

There are many free excel cash flow templates available online to use but consideration should be given to taking professional advice to ensure that the forecast is as accurate as possible.

Of course a forecast is just what it says a forecast and until you start trading you do not know how things will work out.  However, if this document is going to be used to establish how much money you need to run your business it is worth doing right.

 

A few thoughts to help…

  1. Be realistic with your revenue forecasts
  2. Consider any seasonal variations that may affect revenues
  3. Remember if you are going to be offering customer credit terms they may not always pay on time
  4. Ensure you remember to account for all costs
  5. Do not forget about employment taxes and VAT

 

For some startups it may be necessary to produce a cash flow forecast for longer than 12 months.  This is often the case with tech startups looking to develop technology beyond proof of concept.  A cash flow for 24 or 36 months should be considered.

You should also allow for some contingency funding to cover unexpected events such as a slower start to generating revenues, delayed product launch and even bad weather.  It is far better to be prepared as opposed to having to raise further funds in a very short period of time which will also always be at less favourable terms.

If funding is going to be required at different stages, depending on the type of finance it may be better to arrange the entire funding at the outset.  For example, angel investors may be happy to release further funds when certain milestones have been reached.

 

In part 2 of the post we look at the different types of funding.

If you are looking to start a new venture or securing additional investment to help grow you business and require any advice about how to do this in the best possible way to suit your circumstances we would be happy to help.

Contact us

T: 01622 758257

How does Receipt Bank work?

By Becky Morgan
3 min read

Technology is constantly changing. New tools are designed to assist business owners with the day to day management of their business’ finances.  Receipt Bank makes the gathering, storage and processing of expenses a seamless and efficient process.

What is Receipt Bank?

Receipt Bank is a platform that automatically extracts data from your receipts and imports that data into your Cloud Accounting software. Not only that, it also retains copies of your receipts in the cloud so there is no need for you to retain the original hard copies.

Receipt Bank integrates with a number of cloud accounting systems including Xero, Quickbooks Online, MYOB, Sage Accounting, Kashflow and FreeAgent. For the purposes of this post we will be looking at the integration of Receipt Bank with Xero.

 

How will Receipt Bank benefit my business?

Using this automated software brings a number of benefits to businesses:

  • Using the Receipt Bank app on your smart phone you will be able to scan receipts and invoices on the go.
  • You will no longer need to retain copies of your receipts as once they are in Receipt Bank they are stored in the cloud.
  • The risk of losing receipts will be reduced as you can upload copies of your receipts into Receipt Bank as soon as you have purchased something.
  • The automated data extraction process will avoid the need to key in data.
  • Add your team to Receipt Bank and keep control of their expenses.
  • Human error is minimised as the data is automatically extracted from the receipts.
  • It’s free to our clients!

 

How does it work?

There are a number of different ways in which you can upload copies of your receipts into Receipt Bank ready for importing into your cloud software.

 

Using Receipt Bank:

App

The Receipt Bank app is simple to use.  A picture is taken of your receipt and the data is automatically extracted in real time and upload to Receipt Bank.  It is possible to scan in receipts individually or combine multiple receipts on one page.

Using the Receipt Bank App, you can check the data has been extracted correctly. It also ensures it is being coded to the correct cost centre.  When satisfied this is then published to Xero straight from the App ready to be paid/matched to bank payments.

The App is very easy to use and is a free download from Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Email

Once you are set up, a receipt bank email address will be assigned to you. If you receive emails with copies of invoices in the body of the email or as an attachment, you can simply forward this email onto your receipt bank email address and it will appear there ready to be imported into Xero.

PDF Documents

Using your Receipt Bank online account, you can drag and drop PDF documents into Receipt Bank. The data will then be extracted by Receipt Bank in the normal way ready to be published into Xero.

 

What will Receipt Bank cost me?

To use the software you will need to pay a monthly subscription fee to Receipt Bank. To all of our clients, Receipt Bank will be provided free of charge!

 

Get started with Receipt Bank?

Using Receipt Bank with Xero will allow you to save administration time and reduce risk of error. It is helpful as it avoids missing tax relief on lost receipts.

Loucas have a dedicated team with an extensive knowledge of both Xero and Receipt Bank.  If you would like to discuss the benefits of Receipt Bank and how it can help your business, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Please note: The information contained in this site is provided for information purposes only and is of a general nature. It is not a substitute for specific professional advice related to your own circumstances therefore you are recommended to obtain specific professional advice before you take any action.