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?”

8 Places to find your Perfect Business Mentor

Running your own company can be a lonely business, even if you have higher management or a business partner it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Finding a mentor could be the perfect solution for you, provide you with a fresh perspective and help you grow your business.
Before you go on the search have a think about what you would like from your mentor. Identify some public figures you admire in the business world, then go closer to home. Is there a particular independent business in the place you live that you like? Is there a smaller influencer on social media that provides good content? Having these things in mind you can start the process of finding a mentor(s). Keep the process as organic as possible and we would not advise asking someone to be your mentor when you first meet, unless they explicitly say they are looking for a mentee. We have outlined below some places you could find a mentor and there is no harm in introducing yourself. Keep it professional, friendly and be prepared to have some of your messages go unanswered.

1. Official mentor sites 

Some sites will be free, some have paywalls or there may be products/services you will need to purchase to gain access to their network of mentors. Depending on what you want from the relationship this could be a quick and straight-forward way to get the ball rolling.

2. Traditional Networking 

This doesn’t have to be a lot of bored looking business folk in polyester suits standing around a beige buffet, unless you want it to be. Networking in the traditional way may not suit your industry or might not be your thing. But go to events or places business owners you admire go to, you never know who you could get chatting with.

3. LinkedIn 

Make sure your profile is up to date, your photo is appropriate and you have filled out the bio section so people can understand who you are and why you are relevant to them. Send personalised messages with connection requests and follow companies and public figures. Don’t forget to join applicable groups as well!

4. Peers 

Mentors don’t necessarily have to be older and more experienced than you, or even in the same industry. Getting an outside point of view that totally refreshes your perspective or triggers a fantastic business idea can come from the most unlikely places. Talk through your issues with someone you click with and that you trust their opinion.

5. Communities 

There are a lot of online communities you can join for a monthly subscription fee that will give you access to mentor or peer directories. Try one out for a couple of months and see how it goes. These communities may be better tailored to your needs, e.g. women in business, creative businesses etc.

6. Memberships 

You can join local groups to meet other business owners, for example your areas Chamber of Commerce or National Enterprise Network.

7. Business Consultant 

This is a bit of a short cut and you will more than likely have to pay for the service as it’s a customer/service provider transaction. This could work for you if you just need to solve some issues or have an outside point of view and aren’t comfortable with building a traditional mentor/mentee relationship.

8. YouTube & Other Social Media. 

This again may be a bit of a cheat as it’s a one-way street of you consuming the business ‘gurus’ content and you probably won’t get the opportunity to ask personalised questions. When researching or strategizing watching advice channels, they can spark ideas that you can translate to your business. And you never know if you do reach out, they may become your dream mentor!
Once you’ve found someone that is happy to be your mentor and you their mentee set boundaries, be fully prepared whenever you have a meeting and don’t over run your allotted time agreed with them. You also don’t have to stick to one mentor or continue being mentored by them if you feel it’s run its course.

Resources 

Find or become a mentor with Mentors Me.
Find a mentor with Meet a Mentor.
If you get a start up loan through the British Business Bank you will gain access to their mentoring program

Finance & Funding Jargon Buster

You can’t know what you don’t know, especially when it’s wrapped up in abbreviations and buzzwords. Start.Biz are decoding the most commonly used jargon words when looking for business finance or a funding.

P&L 

Profit and Loss Account – a record of Income and Expenditure within a given 12-month financial period to ultimately determine profitability.

Balance Sheet 

A snapshot of the Assets and Liabilities owned/owed by a business at any particular moment in time i.e. Cash Balance or Value of Outstanding Loans. The value between the Assets owned by a Company after deducting the Liabilities it holds equates to its Net Assets.

Cash Flow Statement 

A log of monthly cash inflows/outflows often using a combination of retrospective and forecast information. For a small business, this is probably the key document to managing cash flow.

Working Capital 

This represents a measure of liquidity on a day-to-day basis within a business and is calculated after deducting liabilities such as supplier invoices/debt/PAYE/VAT from assets such as cash/customers invoices/stock.

MI 

Management Information – lenders often require Management Information such as Aged Debtor/Receivable reports and Management Accounts.

Statutory Accounts 

Financial year-end accounts as produced by the Directors of a business and filed with Companies House.

Management Accounts 

Monthly record of Management Information usually comprising Profit and Loss Account, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement

Aged Debtors 

A report of amounts owed by your Customers to the business.

Aged Creditors 

A report of amounted owed to Suppliers by the business.

SALIE 

Statement of Assets and Liabilities – a form usually completed when looking to borrow money comprised of i) Personal Assets & Liabilities (owned/owing), ii) Monthly/Annual log of income/expenditure.

If you have any questions about financing your business or would like to discuss your personal circumstances, please contact our expert team today. 

Access to Finance Consultation Line: 0800 069 9090 (freephone) or email finance@start.biz

How to Create a Logo for Your Business

how not to use the work we created. I would ask a client to allow me to use it in my portfolio though, under strict guidelines that I’m using it as an example of my work.’

5. A lot of our small business community use sites like Fiverr to create their logos due to limited budgets, would you advise this? 

‘It’s one of those things that sounds like a really good idea in your head. What you have on there is anyone with some design software and then what happens is you start to devalue the purpose of good design. I understand small businesses have less budget but it’s like if you hired a plumber for a fiver, you probably would still have a leaky tap at the end of it.’
‘Canva is great, we use it. I would advise to pop on there and use it for social media posts. If you’re doing a lot of social content, you need templates and it’s really useful for that. I wouldn’t use it to create a logo though.’ 

6. Are there any cliché’s you would advise to avoid in logo design? 

‘When someone says ‘we just like this’. That just means nothing. If I’m presenting to my Director or a client I will always go into the full meaning behind every element I’ve used. This includes colour, typography, colour, and shapes, they all have a meaning why they are linked back to the brief and brand I’m working on.
Don’t follow trends. Trends are just trends, and they change each year but a brand is meant to be timeless. You can’t have something that’s going to fade away in a year.
‘Keep it simple but significant.’ 
Also, the use of generic symbols. Using really obvious icons in a logo, for example how many coffee shops have you seen with a coffee cup in the logo? Or dentists that use a tooth in their logo?
I don’t know if it’s a cliché, but I don’t like monograms, like two interwoven letters. If you google any two letters, you’ll come up with loads of ways that those two letters can look together, it’s very clever but generally it’s overused and it’s not saying anything about the brand.’

7. What are the biggest mistakes people make when designing a logo? 

‘It’s understanding good design. Everything from the basics of how things are aligned through to typography. Typography has so much meaning, every letter and font style has a different meaning as to why it’s those letters and those shapes and why they’re spaced out that way. Choosing a different font is going to give a whole new meaning to your brand. A number of fonts get overused because they’re safe. Designers saying not to use Helvetica has actually now become a cliché within itself.
‘The whole point of a brand is to cut through the noise of your competitors and speak to the audience you want to speak to. If you use safe design, you’ll just get lost in a sea of brands and advertising.’ 
‘People don’t really think about scaling things. I think that really matters when it comes to typography, you could have a really nice type face that looks amazing when you’re a foot away from your computer screen but when you stand 6 feet back you can’t read it. Think about how the logo will look when someone is driving past in a car, or how it looks scaled down onto a business card or blown up onto a billboard.’
‘Don’t be scared to do things a little bit differently, go against the grain. You never know where it could take you.’ 

8. What is some of your favourite branding? 

‘The IMB logo is timeless, they haven’t changed that since the 70’s and they haven’t needed to. MacDonalds are a great example of maximising the potential of your logo, even building campaigns around it. I don’t want to advocate anyone eat MacDonalds but from a branding point of view they’ve created a whole story out of that logo that really speaks to people.’
‘Ultimately it’s about communicating your brand and creating something your customers will love.’ 
You can check out Oliver’s work here
Instagram – ovr-design

Business Finance & Funding FAQ’s

What finance is available to me if I haven’t started trading? 

Start Up Loans are government backed loans where the borrower/s can each borrow up to £25,000 to a maximum of £100,000 for any one business at a Fixed Interest Rate of 6% Start Up Loans – click here to find out more.

What funding can I access if I have been trading for 6 months, 1 year, 2+ years? 

There are lots of options ranging from High Street banks to Alternative providers (i.e. Responsible Finance providers) to Asset-backed lenders (Invoice & Equipment finance specialists).

What key business documents do I need when applying for trading? 

Annual Statutory Accounts, Management Accounts, Profit and Loss Account, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow forecast and Personal Assets & Liabilities Statement.

Who should I go to first when looking for a business loan/access to finance? 

If you have been trading for more than 6 months, try your local Growth Hub – they are a great centralised place to receive connections to finance providers from. Alternatively, give us a call at Start.Biz.

If I get turned down by high street banks for a business loan is there any alternatives? 

There are lots of alternatives. A good place to start would be to look for local Responsible Finance providers who often offer the required level of finance whilst also appreciating the need for SME Business Owners to get decisions on funding quickly. Click here to find out who provides responsible finance in your area.

How much can I borrow? 

This will depend on a number of variables:
i) The level of profitability currently within the business and moving forwards is critical. The more profitable you are, the more likely you are to get higher levels of finance.
ii) Whether the Business Owner is offering a Personal Guarantee to secure the loan
iii) The quantum of investment that the Business Owner is putting in

Can I get a grant? 

Yes but this will be dependent upon the criteria of each individual grant. A good place to start would be to sign up The Innovation Factory’s (Drew Currie) monthly newsletter, click here to sign up for free.

Can I get a project funded? 

Possibly but a bit like Grants, it is entirely dependent on the funding resource in the market at that time. Innovate UK offers Loans and Grants with a focus on business’ growing via Innovation, find out more here.

What kind of business activity can I get finance for? 

You can apply for finance for a multitude of activities including:
– Business acquisition/merger
– Asset purchase
– Invoice Finance
– Refinance
– Working Capital/Cash Flow

Are there still any covid recovery schemes available? 

The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) is available until 30th June 2022

What is a good interest rate? 

The Interest Rate applied is often directly linked to the perceived level of risk with the loan itself. High Street lenders will lend at 3% + the Bank England’s base rate of lending. Currently, SMEs are finding it harder and harder to access funding at these rates via the High Street. Rates for SME’s can range from as little as 6% right up to 14%. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is secure finance at a higher level of interest to get the required funding before then refinancing at a later date at a better rate of interest.

If you have any questions about financing your business or would like to discuss your personal circumstances, please contact our expert team today. 

Access to Finance Consultation Line: 0800 069 9090 (freephone) or email finance@start.biz