Start.biz teams up with newly renovated JQ Modern to provide an advice clinic for local businesses

Start.biz teams up with newly renovated JQ Modern to provide an advice clinic for local businesses


We’re taking our free business advice clinics on the road and holding one in the newly renovated JQ Modern in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham on 13th September 2022. Start.biz specialise in: Intellectual Property (IP) protection, ‘Access to Finance’ and business services & compliance. To book your place please register here.

JQ Modern (formerly The Big Peg) has undergone a £5m refurbishment to create the most stylish private offices in the Jewellery Quarter.

The iconic landmark building now offers stunning private offices and boutique communal lounges with fresh coffee, meeting rooms and a stylish new reception. The transformation included the installation of a fully live 10GB internet connection providing superfast wifi throughout the building. All of this in a location with a train station, a tram stop, several bus routes, cycle parking and a 10 minute walk from the city core, but with a neighbourhood feel.

Sky high on the 7th floor, flooded with natural daylight are JQ Modern’s fully serviced offices – named LUX, meaning light. Ideal for businesses of up to 5, with impressive views of Birmingham and beyond, these characterful offices are available on flexible terms and come fully equipped.

For growing teams, the building offers scalable options of up to 50 people.

Tara Elwell, Sales & Marketing Manager said ‘JQ Modern offers everything you need with great facilities on flexible and affordable terms. We can provide options to scale up over time. We have fantastic communal spaces for when you want to step out of your private office. These are great for making new connections, as is our events programme. We are building the most exciting community of dynamic small businesses in the city.’

Matthew Cusack, Director at Start.biz said of the upcoming business advice clinic, ‘We find these face-to-face sessions really productive when it comes to solving challenges businesses are currently facing and we’re really keen to take these sessions to different areas to broaden our reach. JQ Modern is a fantastic space and the refurbishment has further enhanced the thriving Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.’

To learn more or enquire about pricing and office availability please visit their website.

6 Steps to Take When Creating Your First Business Budget

Starting a business is always a challenge. But, right now, the conditions are extra tough. The UK is experiencing its highest rate of inflation in 40 years and many businesses are struggling to cope with rising costs. It’s in that context that smart financial management takes on added importance.

One of the most important areas of financial management is budgeting. This is the process of projecting your expected income and expenditure. Just like in your personal life, you need to ensure enough money is coming in to cover your investments and everyday costs – and there are various levers you can pull to ensure this happens.

Whilst that sounds simple enough, creating a budget from scratch can be difficult if you’ve never done it before. We’re going to take you through some simple steps to follow to ensure your business finances are in good shape when you’re starting out.


Have a business plan in place

First and foremost, if you’re serious about your business you need to have a business plan. Your business plan sets out the context for how you plan to make your business viable and, ultimately, successful. This will include an overview of what your business does and consider the landscape in which you’ll be operating. That means you should be researching competitors and understanding who your target audience will be – plus how you plan to market and sell to them.

By having this context laid down, you’ll be in a much better place to know how much money you’ll need to spend and, in turn, how much you’ll need to be bringing in.


Prepare a pricing strategy

When it comes to budgeting in business, a good place to start is to think about the products you plan to sell and at what price. Through your business plan, you’ll have an idea of the market landscape, including your competitors, and this will inform your pricing strategy. It’s important to say, there’s no one-size-fits all – you need to work out the right approach for your business – but looking at what your competitors are doing is instructive.

And then, there’s your costs…


Work out your costs

Your business plan will detail your startup and running costs. Whilst some investment will be needed at the outset to get your business launched (think essential equipment), your running costs will play a greater role in your budgeting plans. These costs can usually be split into two categories:

  • Fixed costs: Yes, you guessed it – these are costs that stay the same for the period in question. Things like rent and business rates would fall into this category.
  • Variable costs: These are costs which vary depending on the number of units you produce e.g. material, postage costs and labour (if people are paid on a per unit basis)

Variable costs are where the process of budgeting gets more complicated as it relies on you understanding the cost impact of your sales and production volumes. For example, the more you sell and item that you make, the more you’ll have to spend on labour, materials and fulfilment. There are plenty of budget templates out there to help you do this. This will also allow you to play around with your unit pricing so you can see the impact of increasing or decreasing what you plan to charge your customers.


Project your sales

For a small business, especially if you’re managing the budgets on your own, you’re likely to want to keep things simple. This usually means having one overall operating budget.

The first thing you’ll need to plot into your operating budget is your projected sales. Here’s a quick example of how that might look, taking into account seasonal variations in sales volumes:

Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6
Sales 250 200 220 300 310 150


Now, plot in your expenses

Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6
Sales 250 200 220 300 310 150
Cost of goods sold 125 100 110 150 155 75
Wages 60 60 60 70 75 60

We can see that the two biggest expenses have been added. The cost of goods to be sold are shown at about half the selling price and the wages are shown to be consistent with extra staff for the busy months.

You’ll then want to expand on this further and add other expenses (overheads such as rent and utilities).

Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6
Sales 250 200 220 300 310 150
Cost of goods sold 125 100 110 150 155 75
Wages 60 60 60 70 75 60
Other overheads 30 29 30 35 38 28
Total expenses 215 189 200 255 268 163


Calculate your profits

Deducting your total expenses from your sales will give your profit figure.

£ Month 1 Month 2 Month 3 Month 4 Month 5 Month 6
Sales 250 200 220 300 310 150
Cost of goods sold 125 100 110 150 155 75
Wages 60 60 60 70 75 60
Other overheads 30 29 30 35 38 28
Total expenses 215 189 200 255 268 163
Profit 35 11 20 45 42 -15

At this point, you’ll begin to see where your joy and pain points might be. For example, in Month 6 we can see that the business loses money. However, this might be tolerable as Month’s 4 and 5 have seen a decent profit levels.


Going forward…

As you proceed, checking in regularly and monitoring variances is a key activity, particularly in your first year where you won’t have the figures from previous years. You should include in your budget a column for the ‘Actual’ figures and monitor your performance against what you budgeted. Are you up or are you down? You may decide to do a reforecast every quarter where you can respond to changes in prices, sales volumes, and changes to the economic climate.

Whilst this is only a very simple business budget, it hopefully gives you an idea of the steps you’ll need to take when drawing up your own plans. As your business evolves and expands, it’s quite likely you’ll need to produce multiple budgets that work in tandem – for example, stock and production budgets, overhead budgets and cash budgets. But just getting a grip on the basics to begin with will go a long way.

Guest blog written by Huw Moxon Digital Marketing Manager at Informi and AAT

Our Intellectual Property Story

“Should we just pull out of the deal? If we don’t own the IP when we complete then what are we actually buying?”

Bevan and I had to ask ourselves these questions when we were going through the acquisition process of Start.Biz. The business had been trading in one form or another for 36 years when we acquired it. Its core offering was to protect other business’ Intellectual Property and yet when we came to buy it, we realised that it hadn’t taken the necessary steps to protect its own. Could this situation have been more ironic?!

The brand that the business was trading under had been in operation for over 30 years and was synonymous with the trading activity of the business itself. Whilst we had valued the business based on a multiple of profits, we were acutely aware that we were inheriting a ready-made brand with customers who had been loyal to it for decades. So, without owning the IP, we were putting ourselves (and our families, homes etc) at massive risk by completing on a transaction and potentially buying thin air.


Poking the bear

For a variety of reasons (legal and organisational), we were in a situation six weeks before completion where we were totally unclear as to who owned the Intellectual Property.

This matter only came to light as a result of our Due Diligence – up to that juncture, the Sellers believed that any IP was owned by the business. As a result of our questioning, we had identified that there was a third party who had made claim to owning the IP and was demanding hefty sums of money to release any claim to it.


Stalemate

The acquisition had been rolling on for nearly seven months when this came to light and had been a rollercoaster mainly driven by financial challenges; the last thing we expected to potentially scupper the deal was one surrounding Intellectual Property. As we didn’t own the business, we couldn’t take the case on and so we had to work with the Sellers on overcoming this challenge.

We were at an impasse, as we didn’t want to buy a business that didn’t have ownership over its name, brand and goodwill; whilst the Sellers were not prepared to sell as had they done so without this being resolved then they would have breached the legal documents associated with the transaction itself.


The price of victory

Thankfully, our Sellers had been around the block and were savvy enough to have retained copies of all documentation and notes/recordings of verbal conversations held. As with all things though, resolution came at a cost…. The legal fees associated with successfully concluding the matter were over £10,000 and delayed completing on the deal by more than two months.

We had finally overcome our last hurdle albeit we were poorer, a bit more stressed and with some more grey streaks in our hair!

Most importantly, we were able to buy the business and focus on driving it forwards rather than being laden down with legacy issues that would have hindered our growth and profitability in the first 12 months after we owned Start.biz.


So what?

Peace of mind and ultimately an ability to reap the rewards of a lot of hard work.

IP is often sold on the basis of fear when it should be sold on value. Now more than ever, brand identity and messaging are critical in generating goodwill and market value for businesses. Protecting IP preserves a business’ value and all of the blood, sweat and tears that has gone in behind the scenes to make that happen.

In our case, had this matter not been resolved then the deal would have fallen through, and the Sellers would have been left with a business that they couldn’t sell having spent 36 years building it up. All for what should have cost no more than £500 – £600 to protect in the first place. When the stakes are so high, the question to ask is not “So what?” but rather “Why not?”