Skip to main content Skip to search
Like Us
Follow Us
Company Profile
Get In Touch
Whiteleaf Business Centre, 11 Little Balmer, Buckingham MK18 1TF
01280 818 777
info@balmerlimited.co.uk

Archives for Business Advice

How to Master a One-Minute Business Introduction

The request, “Please introduce yourself,” can seem a daunting task, especially if you’re put on the spot, but we’ve partnered with Buckingham networking organization Bucks Fizz to curate a list of our top tips for mastering the one-minute introduction.

 

Tip #1: Be yourself.

It’s a cliché as old as time, but it’s tried and true. When you tell your story with authenticity – instead of sharing what you think people want to hear – the audience will respond with genuine interest in the real you. Many professional speech coaches advise using your first and last name when introducing yourself, which not only reiterates your brand, but reminds you to be yourself as your intro continues.

Tip #2: Know your audience.

Before a meeting or a networking event, research your audience so that you can speak directly to the people you’re introducing yourself to. It will make you more confident in knowing and will allow you to tailor your intro to better align with the audience’s interests and needs.

Tip #3: Share why you do what you do.

In getting to know you, your audience is looking for ways that you can help them, so include a simple explanation of the service you provide and why specifically this helps your clientele. A successful business brief for a graphic design firm might include a mission statement as follows: “What we do is redesign logos, brochures and website for a fixed fee, with a particular emphasis on using bright colours and quirky graphics so that the business has a consistent and modern image which looks great, which means that our customers feel proud of the way their business looks, and in turn has increased their own profile and sales numbers” (One Accounting UK).

Tip #4: Keep it concise.

In a more structured setting, trust in the one-minute intro. You’ll have enough time to successfully explain who you are and what you do without losing the audience’s attention. In other settings where there may not be a defined time limit, make up a self-enforced one and practise until you master saying your intro in that time.

Tip #5: End on a memorable line or personal anecdote.

A pithy quote or statement gets the audience talking, while an anecdote can give creditability to your business. If you share an instance, perhaps within the last month, of a particularly challenging task you succeeded in solving, you give credit to your business statement, and if you share a catchy phrase or quotation, you leave the audience with something to think about after your intro has ended.

These are just a few of our top tips for improving your one-minute introduction, but they’re sure to work wonders for your networking brand.

For more business advice, follow our blog here and don’t hesitate to contact us at info@balmerlimited.co.uk or 01280 818777.

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited we have a number of staff offering you a wide range of qualifications and skill sets. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

Maternity Leave: FAQ’s

A Comprehensive Look at Some of Our Most-Asked Maternity Leave Questions

1. ‘I have an employee about to go on maternity leave for a year. Am I still allowed to contact her during her leave?’

You’re allowed to make reasonable contact with your employee during her maternity leave, regarding topics including any changes or developments at work, social events, colleagues who are leaving, new staff or arrangements for their return to work. If possible, define what about and how frequently you plan to speak, so there is no confusion as her maternity leave begins.

2. ‘Both my husband and I work full-time, and we want to share the parental leave. How does that work?’

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Pay helps eligible parents to combine work with family life. According to the government’s SPL Guide, ‘Parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay and choose to take the leave and pay in a more flexible way (each parent can take up to 3 blocks of leave, more if their employer allows, interspersed with periods of work).’

This means that you can be off work together for up to 6 months or alternatively stagger your leave and pay so that one of you is always at home with your baby in the first year.

3. ‘What earnings are used in the calculation of Statutory Maternity Pay, and how much will I actually be paid?’

Direct from the government’s Statutory Maternity Pay website: ‘Your average weekly earnings for SMP will be based on all your gross earnings that are subject to National Insurance contributions. Therefore, your earnings can include holiday pay, overtime, commission, bonuses arrears of pay or other sums paid during the SMP calculation period on which National Insurance contributions are paid. Allowances, such as accommodation allowances, that are included in your gross earnings and are subject to tax and Class 1 National Insurance contributions also count as earnings.’

When you break it down mathematically, if you are paid weekly, the SMP calculation period includes your average weekly earnings in the last pay day before the end of your Qualifying Week and the previous seven pay days. If you are paid monthly, the SMP calculation period is usually your average weekly earnings in the last two monthly pay days received before the end of your Qualifying Week.

SMP for eligible employees can be paid for up to 39 weeks, usually as follows:

  • The first 6 weeks: 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax
  • The remaining 33 weeks: £145.18 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower)

Keep in mind that on top of that, tax and National Insurance still need to be deducted.

4. ‘When do you have to claim maternity leave by, and when’s the earliest it can start?’

For you to claim maternity leave, you should notify your employer no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth providing the following details:

  • The fact that you are pregnant
  • The expected week of childbirth
  • The date when you intend to start taking leave

Your employer can insist on the date when you intend to start taking leave to be submitted to your employer in writing to ensure that you both have the correct date when the leave is to commence.

If you don’t give your employer the required notification for the start of the maternity leave then you may lose your right to start your maternity leave on your chosen date, although this will not affect your ability to take maternity leave.

According to the Work and Families Act, maternity leave can start no earlier than the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth.

5. ‘What are Keep in Touch days?’

During the maternity leave period, employees can take 10 Keep in Touch (KIT) days, where they return to work just to learn what has been going on in their absence. This can be used for attending meetings, training, conferences or just catching up, but even part of a day counts as a whole one.

They’re truly just a way of working up to ten days during maternity or adoption leave without your leave or pay coming to an end. Similarly, you’re allowed to work up to 20 shared-parental-in-touch (SPLIT) days without bringing shared parental leave or pay to an end.

For more information, see the government website here, or give us a ring at 01280 818 777 for any and all business inquires. Feel free to send any additional questions to our email address, info@balmerlimited.co.uk and we’ll be sure to get back to you.

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited our staff have a wide range of qualifications and skills. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

How Missed Calls Are Costing You

According to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), over 60% of companies believe consistent mobile customer service is a strong competitive differentiator. Further research indicates similar trending patterns between the success of service call centres and the likelihood of maintaining a loyal client base.

Research findings suggest:

  • 80% of all business communications take place over the phone (Telux HD)
  • 85% of people whose calls are not answered will not call back (BT Business)
  • 60%+ of customers will take their business elsewhere after a poor customer service experience (Harvard Business Review)

To avoid disappointing customers and risking losing their business, it’s important to know what is causing you to miss calls and what better phone service solutions there are. Read on for the true cost of a missed call and our suggestions on how to avoid them in the long run.

What is the true cost of a missed call?

According to the Harvard Business Review, the average cost of a lost client is approximately £1,400. With over 60% of customers dissatisfied with their customer service experience likely to take their business elsewhere in the future, it’s more than a steep price to pay, especially if it can be avoided.

73% of companies with ‘above average’ Customer Experience maturity perform better financially than their competitors (Temkin Group), proving that it pays to be consistent.

Immediate financial detriment aside, there’s a less tangible cost to missing calls as well. Word of mouth and customer loyalty play a key role in establishing yourself as a reputable and consistent brand, and bad service can taint any good reputation. According to American Express (2017), customers tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, while they would only tell 11 about a good one.

 

Why are you missing calls?

There are many reasons why you might be missing calls. Perhaps you have insufficient staff numbers to answer all your calls. Perhaps you have enough staff, but they’re busy with other customer service tasks like emails and direct chats.

It’s also possible that a customer is calling after your operating hours, or that you simply don’t have the right technology to handle the appropriate volume of customer service inquiries.

Whatever the case, be mindful of where you’re weakest so that you can adequately target how and why you’re missing calls.

Click image for enlarged visual
Source: teluxhd.com

What are better phone service solutions?

If it’s financially feasible, hiring more staff to man the phones is the easiest solution for missed calls. Your existing employees might not have the time to answer every call that comes in, so hiring extra staff can help you avoid stretching your team too thin. Given how valuable person-to-person contact is for frustrated customers, it’s likely that the benefit of taking on another employee will make up for all dividends in the long run. Alternately, there are massive benefits to hiring virtual assistants, which can be up to 40% cheaper than hiring in-house staff. [See more about Balmer’s virtual assistant services here.]

Call forwarding can also serve as a solution to missed calls. Call forwarding will automatically send phone calls from unanswered office phones to your mobile, making sure that clients calling in aren’t sent to voicemail if it’s possible for you to take the call on the go instead.

If you do send clients to voicemail, make sure you have an optimised operating system in place. A single voicemail box may end up cluttered and messages may be lost, and an answering tree with too many branches can leave customers confused and irritated. By optimising your voicemail and call sorting systems, it helps ensure that every voicemail goes to the right place, and is heard by employees best equipped to handle the problem.

How Do You Properly Handle a Call if You Can’t Avoid Missing It?

The reality of a business is that you can’t always take a customer’s call, but there are proper ways to handle the situation if you do.

If there is no one available to answer the question at hand, take a message and schedule a call back. It’s better to answer the phone and get the information of the caller than to let the phone go to voicemail if the appropriate staff member is not available.

Return missed calls as soon as possible. If you can’t call them back right away, send their details to a colleague that can, and have them reach out to schedule a call.

Make sure to call people back even if they don’t leave a message – just because they didn’t leave a message doesn’t mean they don’t have a legitimate or important need. If they don’t answer, understand that you might have to return the call multiple times in order to get through to the caller.

Be Prepared.

It’s inevitable that you’ll miss a call every so often, but being prepared is the best way to avoid any headache for both you and your clients down the line. To see how Balmer Limited can help, visit our Call Minding & Virtual Offices Services page here, or call us at 01280 818777.

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited we have a number of staff offering you a wide range of qualifications and skill sets. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

Tax Do’s and Don’ts of Employing Casual Workers

Here’s how to avoid a hefty tax bill when employing casual workers, direct from the HMRC’s tax guide

When you employ casual workers for a short period of time, you need to take special care when agreeing and processing their pay. A mistake could leave you on the wrong end of a tax and NI bill. Here are some do’s and don’ts of PAYE issues surrounding casual labour, helping you prevent problems in the long run.

Do: Use the correct code to operate

When you employ someone for a matter of days or weeks (for example, a student in the holidays), chances are they won’t have a P45 from a previous job. When you pay an employee, temporary or otherwise, who hasn’t given you a P45 or starter checklist, don’t make the common mistake of using the emergency code to work out their tax. You must use code BR, or insufficient tax will be collected and HMRC is likely to ask you to pay the shortfall. BR will mean they pay tax on all of their income at 20%.

Don’t: Disregard new rules and concessions

HMRC used to take a more relaxed approach to casual workers where they were employed for a week or less. However, the only current concession is for short-term harvest workers and beaters for shoots.

Do: Handle full-time and part-time workers the same

Since the introduction of RTI, the golden rule is that, apart from harvest workers/beaters, you should tackle PAYE for casual and short-term employees in the same way as for permanent staff. This includes notifying HMRC of their starting and leaving details on a Full Payment Submission (FPS) and issuing them with a new starter checklist at the start of their first day.

Don’t: Use “cash in hand” payments

Use normal pay arrangements for casual workers to avoid unexpected tax and NI costs. Any cash payment is almost guaranteed to get HMRC’s attention.

With the right preparation, avoiding tax issues with casual employees is a breeze!

These are a few of our top tips, but for more information on tax rates and allowances, check out our resources page.

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited we have a number of staff offering you a wide range of qualifications and skill sets. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

Do You Have 15/15 of These Customer Service Skills?

Good customer service is important in any industry. Customer service not only provides value in helping forge strong relationships with customers, it creates positive endorsements from loyal customers that can also help strengthen your brand.

Research shows that 97% of customers will tell others about a positive customer service experience, and 70% would offer repeat business to a company that has excellent customer service.

See below for the 15 most important customer service skills necessary for obtaining superb customer service status – do your customer service skills make the cut?

Top 15 Customer Service Skills

1. Patience

Great service beats fast service every time. When dealing with callers who are contacting customer service because they’re frustrated or confused, it is important to stay calm and make sure you take the time to fully understand their concerns.

2. Attentiveness

Attentiveness is massively important in providing great service to your customers. Being attentive means having the ability to really listen to what your customers are saying. Watch the language and terms they use to describe their problems to better understand the connotations of their feedback.

3. Clear communication skills

When it comes to important points that you need to relay clearly to customers, keep it simple and leave nothing to doubt. Make sure you are getting to the problem at hand quickly and explaining things well enough that there’s no room for miscommunications that can lead to frustration for both parties involved.

4. Knowledge of your service or product

“Knowing the product that you support inside and out is mission critical for anyone in support. Having that solid product foundation not only ensures you’ve got the best tricks up your sleeve to help customers navigate even the most complex situations, it also helps you build understanding about their experience so that you can become their strongest advocate.” -Elyse Roach, Product Specialist

5. Ability to use positive language

Language plays a key role in persuasion and the general perception of you and your company. Positive changes in conversational patterns can go a long way in creating a happy client base.

An example from business consultant Gregory Ciotti proposes subtle differences in language:

Without positive language: “I can’t get you that product until next month; it is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”

With positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse.”

Make sure the language you’re using doesn’t appear negative, which can put off customers and harm your brand.

6. Time management skills

Though time should be spent helping a customer fully, it is important to do so in an efficient way. If you come to realise there is an issue that you cannot solve, don’t spend the time going above and beyond for a customer who you ultimately cannot help. Instead, find someone who can better address the issue and pass the client over to them. It’s a better use of everyone’s time, and a good support professional should recognise that.

7. Ability to read customers

The ability to read a customer is part of the personalisation process because it takes knowing your customers to create a personal experience for them. It is also essential in avoiding miscommunications that can lead to loss of a customer due to confusion or discontent. Look and listen for subtle clues about mood, patience level and personality of a customer, and reply in a similar manner. This helps to keep all customer interactions positive.

8. Ability to keep calm under pressure

It is the job of a customer service representative to be the “rock” for panicked or disgruntled clients. The best customer service reps know they can’t let a heated customer force them to lose their cool. Staying calm under pressure is the best way to show that you can competently and collectedly solve problems for your customers, which will further establish a good relationship between you and your clients.

9. Ability to close out

Being able to conclude a conversation in a way that solves the problem and leaves the customer satisfied is incredibly important for good customer service. Getting a customer to confirm satisfaction lets you know that the customer feels assured their issue has been taken care of, and it helps guarantee that they won’t call about the issue again. Having closing ability shows that you care about getting things right, that you’re willing to keep going until you get it right, and that the customer is the one who determines what “right” is.

10. Ability to expect the unexpected

The ability to handle surprises is particularly valuable when facing a situation not defined in your company’s guidelines, or if a client is reacting in an unanticipated way. You should be able first and foremost to think on your feet, but there are ways to prepare for the unexpected.

Consider who you’ll defer to in matters over your head and create a plan for who your “go-to” person is for different situations when you don’t know what to do. Preparation here is key; with it, you can handle any curveballs thrown your way.

11. Negotiation skills

A lot of the time, enquiries to customer service resources are based on curiosity regarding your company or products from people who aren’t yet clients. Use persuasion to convince interested customers that your product is right for them – in customer service, you’re as much a salesperson as an advocate for the brand, so being able to balance the two and think on your feet is a great way to increase your customer base.

12. Good work ethic

This one’s self-explanatory. A good work ethic is invaluable in customer service, as it proves to both you and your clients that you’re dedicated and capable of completing tasks, ensuring that any issues will be solved as promptly and efficiently as possible.

13. Empathy

Empathy comes into play when you can’t tell a customer what they want to hear – it’s an unfortunate reality most businesses face at some point or another, but if you can speak to your clients with care, concern and understanding, it can soften the blow of unfavourable news and help lead towards a better outcome down the line.

14. Acting Skills

Maintaining a cheery persona, especially when faced with potentially rude or angry customers, can be an arduous task, so having some ability to act can come in very handy. Just remember that you’re always going to come across people who you’ll never be able to keep happy, so take it with a grain of salt and respond with a smile. #fakeit’tilyoumakeit

15. Willingness to learn

“Those who don’t seek to improve what they do, whether it’s building products, marketing businesses, or helping customers, will get left behind by the people willing to invest in their skills.” -Gregory Ciotti, business consultant

A willingness to learn allows your company to grow with you. If you’re open to new experiences, new methods and new ideas, you’ll become more adaptable, capable of handling any and all tasks that come your way.

Master this list, and you’re sure to keep customers satisfied. A happy customer is a repeat customer, so take a deep breath, use these 15 customer service skills to your advantage and build your empire.

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited our staff have a wide range of qualifications and skills. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

Most Common Late Payment Excuses to Watch Out For

Identify These Warning Signs of Late Payment Excuses

1. “The check is in the mail.”

This is one of the simplest excuses, made easy for a company to fall back on because it’s so believable. Maybe the payroll department actually did send out payment a day or two prior – or maybe it’s an easy excuse. The best way to follow up with a statement like this is to ask for records of the check number and when the check was sent. Make note on your calendar of when it is promised to arrive, and follow up if it’s been any longer. If necessary, have the customer cancel a check if it’s not received within the anticipated time frame and issue a new one sent by certified mail.

2. “I haven’t received an invoice.”

Even if you’re confident the invoice was sent, make sure the customer can’t deny receiving its copy by sending the new invoice in three forms: mail, fax and email. Additionally, you can implement a system of sending out statements separate from invoices, which will give your customers a list of outstanding invoices every month.

3. “I’m waiting for payments from my customers.”

If a client tells you that they need payment from their customers to fulfil your credit agreement, reiterate the terms of your contract with them and explain that you need the payment in full as you previously agreed. If they still are unable to pay the fee promptly, suspend services to them as soon as possible to motivate payments.

4. “The person you need to speak with is not here right now.”

Sometimes at a company there are a select few people equipped and/or cleared to deal with partiular payments, but this also can be used as a way to put off collection calls. First ask who the person you need to be in touch with is, and then ask when they’ll be available. Make note of the time, and call back then.

5. “Our signatory is not available to sign the check right now.”

Businesses commonly require two signatures on checks, but if one of the signatories is out of office it can be difficult to obtain a signed check immediately from the accounts payable clerk. Speak to the available signatory to see if it is possible to authorize the check with a single signature, and if not, get the information of the out-of-office signatory to know when to follow up.

6. “We never received the good/service.”

In today’s digital age, there are almost always online receipts confirming deliveries. Request a copy of the delivery note and send it to your customer, then request the payment again.

7. “We’d rather pay in a lump sum.”

Review your payment plan outlined in your contract with your customer, and reiterate the terms of payment they agreed to. Remind them of the dates you set for payment and ask that they send payment in full as promptly as possible.

8. “We’re switching banks this week.”

Moving accounts to a new bank could be a genuine reason for a delay in payment of a few days, but anything more is likely an excuse for late payment. Make note of how long it takes for a company to follow up with you, and if it takes any longer than anticipated, ask for proof of the situation and permission to speak to the bank concerned. Alternately, push for payment either electronically or by way of a shareholders check.

9. “We only do check runs once a month.”

Though it might be true, this is still not an acceptable reason not to pay on time. Every company maintains the ability to issue individual checks during the month. Another option is to insist on an alternate form of payment, but make sure to note when the company’s monthly check runs are done for future reference.

10. “We have a problem with cash flow.”

Perhaps the most honest of all excuses, this still must not be accepted in terms of collecting payments. Again, you can request immediate electronic payments or a shareholders check, but it’s likely that you’ll have to put services to the customer on immediate hold until they come through with the payment.

For more tips and tools of the trade, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited our staff have a wide range of qualifications and skills. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

10 Tips for Avoiding Credit Control Mistakes

Here are ten of our best tips for avoiding easy credit control mistakes

1. Have Clear Payment Terms

Make sure to always include your credit terms when sending an invoice. To avoid a customer missing a payment, display the payment date in a prominent position to let them know exactly when a payment must be received. This will reduce the chance of your customer missing the deadline date.

2. Know Who Handles Payments

When dealing with large companies, the person you are corresponding with is often not the person in charge of sending payments through. Make sure to address invoices to the most relevant person, and ask if you’re unsure, as confusion can lead to delayed payments.

3. Invoice Straight Away

As soon as your goods or services have been supplied, follow up with an invoice. Any delay gives your customer an excuse to stall payment.

4. Implement Strategies for Late Payments

Set out a day-by-day strategy to target late payments. Train staff to appropriately manage outstanding invoices so that the strategy is maintained.

5. Have a Dedicated Credit Controller

Many businesses forgo an in-house credit controller due to lack of capacity or requirement, but that often leaves existing employees to take over where they’re not best trained. In acquiring a dedicated credit controller, no time is taken away from employees’ primary roles, and you can ensure that you’re getting the best results possible.

6. Credit Check New and Existing Customers

Less than 50% of businesses credit check customers, setting them up for business with companies that might not successfully uphold credit agreements. Use credit reports online that allow you to instantly review a company or director’s credit rating online, which will help you make quick, informed decisions with the lowest risk of late payment.

7. Offer a Range of Payment Options

When you give customers a choice of payment type, it makes it easier for them to complete payments and increases chances of them paying on time. Make sure to clearly detail all options on your invoices.

8. Set Credit Limits

To stop customers from purchasing more than they can afford, set credit limits using information gained from credit reports. Offering higher credit late payment carries higher risk for you and your company.

9. Stop Supplying Late Payers

Be sure to catch persistently late payers to establish accountability with their company. Some suggest placing the worst offenders on a ‘stop’ list to ensure their supply of services provided are halted until all outstanding invoices have been settled.

 

 

.

10. Review and Update Terms & Conditions

Take the time to regularly review your terms and conditions to ensure that you are keeping up with your business’s constant changes. Make sure they are successful and adjust accordingly to improve your cash position.

 

 

.

For more tips and tools of the trade, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited our staff have a wide range of qualifications and skills. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

5 Tips for managing your business and school holidays

Every parent enjoys holidays with children but for business owners school holidays can be challenging. As a business owner, you know, if you are not at work there may be no income.

Even if you have a business with employees, managing school holidays can still be difficult.  School holidays are a popular time, any employee with children of school age will want their holidays during school holidays, making this a difficult time for businesses to cover with a lot of staff away at the same time.

Some parents may have started their own business so that they could manage that work/life balance better or to provide a better lifestyle for their children.  At holiday times try not to feel guilty about the time you are not with your child, make the most of the quality time that you are with them.

We have put together some of our top tips on managing your business and school holidays. With a careful bit of planning you can have the best of both worlds and keep your clients and your children happy.

Read our top tips for working through the school holidays

Childcare

If your business can’t afford to be without you during school holidays make use of tax free childcare options. Wherever possible make plans with family and friends. Jointly sharing child care with other parents can work well.

Pre-Plan

Do all you can beforehand and pre-schedule your workload including blogs and social media so your business is uninterrupted as much as possible.   Try to plan in advance any usual meetings, scheduled appointments so you can work around time out with children as much as possible.

Employ a Virtual Assistant/Call Minding Service

This can be a valuable cost effective addition to your business.   It is important to plan this in advance, employing a VA is like taking on a key member of staff, choose the right person and you will be able to relax and enjoy your break (see our blog I need help, recruiting a Virtual Assistant).

Work in the evenings

Work around the children in the days but don’t burn out as it is important you keep the work/home life balance. If you already work in the evenings you may need to consider recruiting additional help.

Tell your clients/customers

Give all your customers notice that you will be working reduced hours over the next few weeks. This will give them the chance to discuss any requirements with you before the start of the holiday.  Also, ensure your clients know how they can contact you if the need arises.

Hopefully with the right preparation you will be able to manage your business and enjoy valuable time with your family.

Have A Happy Holiday!

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited we have a number of staff offering you a wide range of qualifications and skill sets. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

Which Trading Style Is The Right One For You – Sole Trader?

You want to go into business, you have the business idea, you are ready to begin but how do you start? First of all you will need to choose the right business trading style for you; there are four main types to choose from:

  • Sole trader
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability partnership
  • Limited liability company

What are the difference between the four business types and which one is right for you? Read our guide below on Sole trader trading style.

What is a Sole Trader?

A sole trader is an unincorporated business i.e. one not registered with Companies House (who form and regulate companies). It is usually owned and controlled by one person who may employ staff and may be VAT registered.

A sole trader is not a company. Sole traders do not have a separate legal existence from the person who runs the business, as in the case of a Limited Company.  This affects the way in which the business is taxed. Also Because of this the owners are personally liable for the firm’s debts. This is called unlimited liability. The name of the business may be your own or a trading name.

Advantages

Usually becoming a sole trader is straight forward and easier to set up.

Depending on the type of business you may only need a small amount of capital and this will also reduce the initial start-up cost.

You keep overall control, because you have a hands-on approach to running the business and you can make all decisions without consulting anyone else.

Sole traders do not have the formalities and regulations compared to a company.

There is no annual return to complete, no statutory records to maintain, no statutory accounts to prepare and no separate corporation tax return to submit. Each of these can be costly to the business and therefore it’s owner.

Disadvantages

You’re personally responsible for any losses the business makes and all business costs like stock, equipment

Keeping a record of your business sales and expenses

You have nobody to share the responsibility with. This means you would have to deal with every aspect of your company or employ staff to help in other areas of your business.

Usually as a sole trader if you are not working there is no income. This may mean you have to work long hours and it may be difficult to take holidays or find help if you are ill.

Growing the business can be limited by the amount of capital you have to invest and the amount of hours you are able to work.

You also have the risk of unlimited liability; this means the sole trader may be forced to sell personal assets to cover any business debts.

You will have to pay any tax due to HMRC earlier than you would with a company. Your accountant can do this for you.

Starting a Business as a Sole Trader

You must register with HM Revenue and Customs for Self-Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance if you earn more than £1,000 from self-employed income. You should register as soon as possible.  If you start your business in the tax year 2017 to 2018 you must register before 5th October 2018.  Failure to do so may result in a penalty.

VAT registration will become mandatory once the turnover reaches the VAT threshold (currently £85,000).

As a sole trader you must submit a Self-Assessment tax return every year.  You will have to pay Tax on the profits your business makes and usually pay two forms of National Insurance.

Be The Best You Can!

Whatever trading style you choose, enjoy what you do and we hope this will be the start of your very successful business!

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

At Balmer Limited we have a number of staff offering you a wide range of qualifications and skill sets. For more details please contact us or call us on 01280 818777.
Read more

Contact Us

Fill out this short form and a member of our team will get back to you within 1 working day. If your request is urgent, call us on 01280 818 777.

Fields marked with an * are mandatory.

Services Required
Year End AccountsTax Planning & AdviceBookkeepingPayroll ServiceBusiness Start-UpAuto Enrolment Pensions