Category: Business Start Up Basics

Tips for Freelance Mothers: How to Manage Your Finances

Tips for Freelance Mothers: How to Manage Your Finances

Being a free lance mother means you can easily squeeze in moments like picking up the kids from school or changing nappies, as long as you make sure you have met your deadlines at the end of the month. It might take a bit of discipline, but in general, a freelancer’s job satisfaction is very high. So, working freelance seems like the ideal option for mothers that want to have flexibility around their family.

One of the only things though, that will take extra (unwanted) time is managing your own finances. As a freelance mother, you are solely responsible for sending invoices, giving yourself a salary and doing tax returns. This might seem a bit daunting at first, but with the following tips, you should be ready to take the plunge!

Separate your bank accounts

Open a separate business account so you won’t mix up your personal money with your business expenses. It allows you to get a clear overview of your company’s cash flow, which will come in handy when you’re doing your tax return, but it also protects your personal assets from liability. As a freelancer, you are liable for legal issues and debts of the business. Creditors might go after your personal money in the rare case that your business fails. It’s therefore highly recommended to have a clear business structure in place with a separate business bank account and a company check book to prevent financial disasters.

Create an emergency fund

Freelancing can be a great option for stay-at-home mums to keep the cash flowing in. However, be prepared for the tough times. As a freelancer, you constantly need to be on the lookout for new projects and clients, which means you don’t always have a steady income. Some clients tend to pay you only after you’ve finished a project, which can take months. This means that there will be times where you barely get paid at all, and there’ll be months where you’ll get paid loads at once. It’s crucial to save up for the times that are tough and set up an emergency savings account that you can rely on when clients are slow at paying you or when your child suddenly needs a new pair of glasses. Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover your expenses for at least 6 months.

Plan for maternity pay for free lance mothers

In the UK, conventional employees are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Self-employed women, however, don’t self-evidently qualify for maternity pay. You decide yourself when you start working again after pregnancy and how much. You might be able to claim SMP under particular circumstances, e.g. if you’re a director of a limited company and you’ve been working there for at least 26 weeks preceding the 15th week before your due date. If not, you might qualify for Maternity Allowance (MA), but this is usually a bit less and requires more planning. You can claim MA if you have worked for at least 26 of the 66 weeks before your due date, and you have earned over £30 per week on average for at least 13 weeks. You can add up your earnings from both employed and self-employed work.

Invest in accounting software

To set up a strict budget and plan for your pension, taxes and maternity pay, it might be best to hire an accountant who can do the hard work for you. However, accountants tend to charge a high rate. A cheaper alternative is to invest in small business accounting software. It helps you understand your own finances, track invoices and it gives you free bookkeeping advice. Doing your tax return at the end of the year will be a piece of cake!

Find out more finance tips for free lance mothers here:

 

Author bio: Lisa van der Steen is a Dutch freelance writer based in the UK. Writing on behalf of Accountz, a developer of accounting software, she has an expert knowledge of money management for entrepreneurs and freelancers.

Career Change - From Acccount Manager to Entrepreneur

Career Change – From Acccount Manager to Entrepreneur

Lisa had a successful career change from account manager for a telecoms firm to founder of a baby gift company. She is also a wife, and a mum to two teenage boys, all of whom she uprooted as the business grew and they moved to South Gloucestershire where they now live alongside the business and the grandparents, together with their spaniel Ben. Read more on what it’s like to start your own business.

What motivated you to have a career change?

I studied Business and Finance at University and worked as an account manager for a telecoms firm. I have always enjoyed my working life and successfully worked through both my pregnancies. But, like many working mums, the arrival of a second child meant childcare costs prevented a return to my career. In addition I really wanted to find a job that would have the flexibility to enable me to work around my family and children and still engage my brain and allow me to express myself creatively – this was the motivation I needed to start out on my own.It had always been my dream to run my own business and to work for myself doing something that allows me to get creative and most importantly to enjoy what I do. So when I had my boys that gave me the last bit of motivation and confidence to ‘go it alone’.

Where did your business idea come from?

Drawing from my own experiences of motherhood, Babyblooms was forged in 2005 through my quest to create the perfect new baby gift for expectant friends. For me this had to be a delight to receive, with a real wow factor, encompassing my love of all things beautiful and practical. So I designed the baby clothes bouquet. Following on from the success of the bouquets we now have a range of gifts including hampers for mum and baby, skincare, jewellery, baby shower and Christening gifts and a range of gifts that can be personalised.

I find being creative a real joy and consider myself very lucky to head a business that allows me to indulge in this every single day.

100% conviction that my idea would work gave me the drive to make it happen.

What kind of support do you have?

I work with a fantastic group of people, many of whom are mums like me and together we have created a flexible and supportive work environment and a highly successful business. Our success is due in no small part to the priority we give to accommodating family life, working to provide cover for each other when needed, ensuring business needs and deadlines are met alongside the demands of our families. My husband and family also have been very supportive.

For me it was important to always keep business separate from home and family time. If it is possible, having a physical door that you can shut on your business really helps. Make the most of the time when your children are sleeping. I conducted most of my planning and research in the evenings while my children slept. Needless to say, bedtimes were strictly adhered to!

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

The biggest challenge I have faced was moving home, family and business from Berkshire to Gloucestershire without experiencing a break in the Babyblooms service, or our next day delivery option.

When faced with a challenge I break it down to what I can change and what I can’t. I write a list detailing what actions I need to take and when. Then I go home to my family and shut the door on it until it is feasible to do something. I have learned that worrying in the meantime is futile.

Author: Bryony Bower, PR Executive of Lisa, founder and CEO of Babyblooms, a UK baby gift company.

What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

What’s in a name: Getting the right name for your new company

One of the biggest problems that people face when starting their own business is finding the perfect name for their company. Choose the right name and it can help your company stand out and attract customers, choose the wrong name and it can set you up for failure. You need to find something which is catchy and interesting, which tells the buyer a bit about the product and why they want it. The more the name tells the consumers, the less you have to explain it.

If you are really struggling and don’t even know where to start, then there are tools out there which can help you choose the right name. In the end, chances are you will want to go with a name that you have thought of yourself and that your instinct tells you is right.

Get Creative About the Name for your New Company

So it’s time to get creative. One great way of coming up with a name is to brainstorm all your ideas. Send your kids out to play, grab yourself a coffee, and get thinking. Write down what your product does in layman’s terms, and then write down everything that you can think of which could portray that message in an interesting and quirky fashion. There isn’t really a set time in which to do it, as you could be hit by inspiration at any point. Give yourself a few attempts and don’t get disheartened when you can’t think of anything straight way.

Try not to tie your name down to your area, for example don’t call it ‘Surrey Stationary’ because there may be a time when you need to expand outside your initial remit. Find words that jump out at people and don’t fade into the background. Avoid cliches and don’t make the name so obscure that people will have no idea what service you offer.

Select Options for the Name for your New Company

Once you have a list of all the possible names it’s time to concentrate on the pros and cons of each possibility, slowly making your way down the list until you have two or three really good names. Make sure you have a look at The Companies House and do a Google search for each name to check that they are unique and haven’t already been used.

Test the Name for your New Company

Then it’s time to test the name with your target audience. You can do this by asking people on social media, email, or just asking around to see what name gets the best response.

One thing that a lot of people tend to forget about is remembering how important getting the domain name right is. According to Dan Coleman, Product Manager of The Formations Company, “one of the most important and often overlooked factors involving name choice is making sure that you get the .co.uk or .com domain name for the company name you choose, as this will help hugely with the authority of your company.” Once your company website goes live you don’t want it to fall to the wayside simply due to the domain name not standing out or being clear enough.

Once you are completely settled on the name for your new company register it quickly so that no one can get there before you. You can either register it yourself on The Companies House, or use a service such as The Formations Company, who will do all of the hard work quickly and efficiently.

Enjoy being a business owner!

Author: Amy Shaw, PR executive for The Formations Company. The Formations Company help people to register and form their own limited companies. They simplify the process  by stripping away the unnecessary extras and giving new business owners the right kind of support, especially during the first part of their start up journey. 

mumpreneur

How to Start an Importing Company as a Mumpreneur

2016 could be a great year for UK entrepreneurs importing goods from around the world, and that could be mumpreneurs importing too. With oil prices generally lower than they have been for several years, a strong economy with high consumer confidence and the emergence of several productivity and growth apps to help you scale your business from home, prospects seem bright.

Choose your niche or sector

Finding the perfect product for your business is one of the three P’s of starting a company (product, price and promotion), and perhaps most important. Try Google Trends to look at monthly search volumes for that product or service, to really validate whether or not there is a market. As a mumpreneur especially, you can also pitch your product to communities such as Mumsnet, mums networks / groups on Facebook, and at coffee networking sessions to gauge a reaction from peers who you may be selling to.

Love your product

Building products is hard. Building great products is even harder. Most long-lasting profitable businesses are because the founders love what they’re producing and selling, be that a good or a service. People buy what they love, and so, by adopting the philosophy of creating a ‘Minimum Lovable Product’ rather than a ‘Minimum Viable Product’, you may be more confident about creating something that people are convinced to buy.

Be agile

This bit’s mainly for people that will sell goods and services on the web – but if you are a mumpreneur, it’s probably relevant. There are 1000’s of inexpensive or free tools which help productivity. They’re called SAAS tools (Software As A Service) and can help you do things from automating Tweets (busy mumpreneurs may not get time to monitor the Twittosphere 24-7), build websites without coding knowledge and manage your leads and relationships with customers and partners. We’d actually recommend Crozdesk for searching and finding the latest productivity apps on the market – and it’s free to use!

If your product or service involves an App (e.g. you import custom made clothes and have an app for people to see themselves), you can ‘wire frame’ your app using internet tools to plan out what the App will look and feel like.

Get a plan in place… and stick to it!

Setting yourself up for success will often require vigour, hard work, and discipline. By setting up a plan for 2016, with ambitious but achievable targets, can help you manage your work life balance and achieve the growth you’ll need for the year ahead. Setting physical quantitative targets is the best: ‘get 10 contracts signed in the next 30 days’, or ‘increase traffic to your website by 20% from December to January’, rather than ‘improve my website’, or ‘order some test products from China’.

Furthermore, reflecting on where you are with your targets or ‘to do’ list once a week is good practise to keep you focused and not let things slip. If at any stage you think targets are either unrealistic or continually at the bottom of your ‘to do’ list, question the economic importance and potential return on investment of the task.

Get others to sell for you

Remember the power of networks, blogs and word of mouth. If you can offer financial (or non-financial) incentives for allowing other people to promote and talk about your products, then that’s one last job off your mind. Moneysupermarket.com doesn’t really sell any products, it helps people access information and make judgements on products that other people sell (e.g. car insurance). For mumpreneurs, the power of communities and a strong network can be the make or break for a goods business.

If your company is a service, it may be worth listing it on sites such as Yell or Addtoevent (for events / catering services).

Negotiate when importing

Often you will have spent a lot of time and money finding and sourcing the right product or products you want to sell. Once this has done, it’s time to negotiate a deal with your supplier. Often suppliers will markup their advertised costs, but it doesn’t hurt to ask them for a better offer, given the competitive manufacturing economy in places like Vietnam, China and Turkey.

2015 was a huge year for the construction and manufacturing, as well as importing/ exporting goods and services. The trajectory is set to continue into the start of 2016, so now could be a great time for a mumpreneur to start or grow an import/export business!

Sort out your Mumpreneur finances

For mumpreneurs, finding capital to start your importing business can be tricky. Often an initial capital boost from personal savings, family and friends may be necessary to get your first few orders in. But once you have buyers and customers, trade finance is often a good way to import goods. You can read the Trade Finance Global guide for first time importers, to find out more about this. Unlike bank funding – which requires you to have assets (e.g. your personal property or car) to guarantee repayment – trade finance allows the stock to act as the security.

Think outside the box

Sometimes it really does take Eureka moments to go from 0 to hero! Often creative marketing, out of the box thinking and hard work can bring your business to the next level. Practicing meditation, going for walks, and talking to others (join for instance a women’s network for entrepreneurs) can sometimes provide moments of new insights.

May 2016 be a year of growth, website traffic, and revenue!

mumpreneurAuthor: James Sinclair. James is an editor at Trade Finance Global. Trade Finance Global connects SMEs and businesses with trade and stock financiers, as well as providing useful information to help importers and exporters grow their businesses.

Food Safety Regulations your Start-up Catering Business Needs to Consider

Food Safety Regulations your Start-up Catering Business Needs to Consider

If you have never owned a catering business before you will need to follow some very important rules and regulations. If you don’t adhere to these rules you cannot trade.

Register your Business

When you have chosen your premises and have had it fitted out to suit your businesses’ needs you will have to register it with your local Council offices. This will have to be carried out at least 28 days before you are due to start trading.

Once you have registered with your local authority they will send out an officer to ensure your kitchen and other areas meet the required Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations.

Learn the Basic Rules

You are less likely to make costly mistakes if you keep up to date with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) checklist for starting up a new catering business. When you first start to read the guidelines you will think they are extremely complicated, but most of the regulations are common sense. It is therefore well worth spending some time reading them or even going on a short course to keep up to date with the main rules.

Labelling Food Stuffs

If you are preparing food to freeze or are just storing items in a fridge you should always clearly and correctly label everything. You should put the date first and then what item is in the container. This will help you rotate the foodstuffs in your fridge or freezer so that it doesn’t go out of date and have to be thrown away losing you precious money.

Staff Training

It is important that all of your staff understand the HSE regulations and also food hygiene; you should have strict rules regarding alcohol intake and smoking. The last thing you will want is to cross contaminate between raw meats and salads. This can lead to food poisoning and could get you closed down or even lose you your food license. In the kitchen and serving areas everything should be clearly marked out, with posters explaining where first aid kits are and also what areas could be hazardous. Fire training is also a requirement for everyone working in the building.

Setting out a Menu

New regulations that came into affect in 2015 means that every food outlet must list the ingredients in every dish. This is intended to prevent any possibility of an allergic reaction to things such as nuts or wheat. These guidelines make it easier for customers with allergy problems to choose from a menu.

Stay Alert

Once your food outlet is up and running you shouldn’t have any problems as long as you keep up to date with the rules, regulations and current food hygiene practices. Make sure the staff constantly keep work areas clean, use gloves and wear the correct clothing.

 

Author: Patrick Vernon, on behalf of Brosch Direct. They offer protective gloves that are important in handling food safely, and you can get a great deal from Brosch Direct if you need these or any other cleaning products.

How to be a successful direct seller

How to be a successful direct seller

The direct selling industry has experienced a boost over recent years as more people have turned to direct selling as a way to boost their income and enjoy flexible working. Over 400,000 people are currently involved in direct selling in the UK and it is the largest provider of part-time work, bringing £2 billion to the UK economy.

If you’re thinking about getting starting in direct selling, the DSA has put together top tips on how to become a successful direct seller.

Think about how you’d like to sell

There are various different ways you can sell through direct selling – it could be through parties, catalogue or face to face. Think about what your strengths are and how you would like sell products. For instance if you enjoy organising social events, then you may prefer a direct selling company that specialise in parties and demonstrations, but if you prefer one to one relationships perhaps a catalogue based company might be for you.
selling-direct

Be passionate

It’s important that you chose to work with a direct selling company with products that you are passionate about. If you are selling products that you love using and are enthusiastic about your passion will shine through to your customers.

Think about your customer base

Another aspect to bear in mind is your target market. If you have lots of friends and family who love cosmetics then a beauty product company could be a great fit. If you are a sporty and regular gym goer, you might know people who also work out regularly so a health and wellness direct selling company might be more suitable for you.

Always choose an ethical company

The Direct Selling Association exists to protect, serve and promote direct selling and ensure high level of business ethics and customer service. All member companies have to meet the DSA’s code of conduct – by choosing a DSA member company, direct sellers and their customers can be safe in the knowledge that they are working with a reliable and ethical firms.

For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk

lyndaAuthor: Lynda Mills, Director General of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). The DSA was established in 1965 and is the trade body for the industry in the UK. It is responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies. All of the DSA member companies sign a code of conduct which ensures they comply with ethical trading standards. For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk

Do I need insurance when I set up a business?

Do I need insurance when I set up a business?

It may seem like a laptop is all you need to start your own company, but there are important insurance issues that even the smallest businesses needs to be aware of. In some situations, having business insurance is merely advisable, but it can also be a legal necessity or a professional requirement.

There are a plethora of business insurance options available, and some of them may prove vital to protecting the future of your company. Below we have outlined a few of the insurance options you should consider for your start-up business.

Employers’ liability insurance

If you plan on taking on even a single employee (including temporary staff, apprentices and volunteers) then you are legally obligated to have employers’ liability insurance. The insurance protects your workers should an injury occur while working. The minimum protection permitted by law is £5 million and you can be fined up to £2,500 for each day you’re not covered. This is not an insurance to overlook.

Professional indemnity insurance

Professional indemnity insurance is often necessary for businesses that provide advice/expertise to clients, or are responsible for intellectual property. A professional indemnity policy protects them from claims, especially those related to negligence, made by an unsatisfied client. Some professional bodies and regulators require this insurance of their members, especially in fields such as law, accountancy, consulting, architecture, and IT.

Business premise insurance

Even if you already have home insurance, if you are going to operate a business from your residence then you will want to consider business premise insurance (or combining the two). Premise insurance will protect your building in the eventuality of damage caused by fire, flood, or other disaster. If you are leasing, or going to lease, your business location, then the premise insurance is the responsibly of the landlord. If your business maintains a shop front however, then the premise insurance is probably going to be your responsibility.

Contents insurance

Whereas premise insurance protects your building, contents insurance provides cover for the items within. It is not legally required, but is recommended if your business relies on expensive equipment. If you want to work from home then be sure to review your current policy. If it doesn’t cover your business equipment then you might need to revise or replace it.

Public liability insurance

Although not mandatory, if your business is going to have any contact with the public, including clients, then you should look closely at public liability insurance. It will protect you if a third party enters your place of business, whether home or office, and is injured in any way or their property is damaged. Consider, for example, that you run an art-studio from your home and a client trips over an easel during a portrait session and fractures a limb. You would be insured against any potential reparation claims by a public liability policy. It is also helpful to note that public liability insurance can protect you if you conduct your work events off-site.

Income protection insurance

There are a host of insurance products designed to protect your income if you fall ill, have an accident that prevents you from working, or are unemployed for a period. These are broadly split into short term and long term income protection, with the former covering your salary over a short period of time and the latter covering your salary if you were unable to ever work again. Most policies will be able to cover up to 70% of your gross salary as a maximum and pay-outs are tax free. Income protection insurance can be a very sensible option for the self-employed or small business owners, who don’t have the safety net most employees have in terms of redundancy packages and sick pay.

There are plenty of insurance options available, but your initial focus should be on the policies that are essential for protecting your business. Take the time to review the needs of your company and find an insurer that will tailor your insurance policies accordingly.

About the author: Matt Sanders is a spokesperson on insurance for Gocompare.com. He has commented extensively on a whole range of insurance and money related matters and closely follows the latest changes and trends in the sector.

What is direct selling, and is it for me?

What is direct selling, and is it for me?

With the rising cost of living and the ongoing challenge of balancing family and work life, it’s no wonder that many mothers returning to work seek an alternative to the traditional 9-5 working life. Over 400,000 people in the UK work as direct sellers, with the industry continuing to grow in popularity.

What is Direct Selling

Direct selling is the term given to any kind of face-to-face selling outside of a standard shop. Many products are sold in this way, however not everyone would think this is direct selling.

Direct selling includes products bought from a catalogue delivered by a direct sellers – like cosmetics or homeware, products bought in a group party environment – like kitchen equipment or jewellery, products demonstrated in a customers’ home such as vacuum cleaners or make up, or products bought direct from a direct seller at events like craft fairs or fitness clubs – like cards or nutritional supplements.

For example direct selling includes Barefoot Books, Forever Living, Avon, Kleeneze, Mary Kay, PartyLite and The Pampered Chef.

What to Expect when Starting out on your Own

When people begin direct selling they purchase a starter kit, which is on average £100 for a business kit and sample products but sometimes is free. They can then begin selling the products to their friends and wider networks, keeping a percentage of the sales they make.

The Benefits of Direct Selling

For many mums direct selling offers the perfect way to balance work and family life. Direct selling is incredibly flexible and you can work as many hours, when and where you choose, to fit around your own life and commitments. When you start direct selling, you are effectively running your own business, so it’s very much a case of what you put in you get back out, as well as giving you a level of flexibility that standard jobs just can’t offer.

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) was established in 1965 and is the trade body for the industry in the UK. It is responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies. All of the DSA member companies sign a code of conduct which ensures they comply with ethical trading standards.

There are over 120,000 working mums working in the industry who are attracted by the benefits that direct selling has to offer, including:

  • Flexible working – 82% of direct sellers work part time around other commitments.
  • Variety – there are dozens of member companies to choose from, with products ranging from cosmetics to kitchen equipment to nutritional supplements.
  • Support- all direct sellers are supported by their member company, and the DSA respectively.
  • Networking- direct selling enables you to meet like-minded business people and build your business as much as you wish.

Keeping it Safe

Especially when you start up and choose a company to work for, there are some pitfalls to avoid.

  • Always choose a reputable company – always look for the Direct Selling Association’s logo when choosing a company to work for. All member companies of the DSA sign a code of conduct which ensures they uphold ethical trading standards. By choosing a member company, you and your customers will be protected by the DSA.
  • Expect that not everyone will says yes – you will often hear the word ‘no’, but this does not mean failure.  You have to keep positive and think of it as another reason to move onto the next ‘yes’.
  • Don’t pay more than £200 for a starter kit – It is easy and cheap to start your own direct selling business – on average £100 for a business kit and sample products. The law prevents the initial outlay to be over £200, and a DSA member will never ask you for more in the first seven days. Starter kits often contain products to a much higher value and many companies even charge nothing for this.

For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk

lyndaAuthor: Lynda Mills, Director General of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). The DSA was established in 1965 and is the trade body for the industry in the UK. It is responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies. All of the DSA member companies sign a code of conduct which ensures they comply with ethical trading standards. For more information and how to get involved, visit dsa.org.uk