Assured FD Services 1 Comment

The Fastest Growing Method Of Raising Finance For Your Business Or Startup.

If you haven’t looked into crowdfunding and you need capital for your business or startup, then maybe this blog post is for you.

The way crowd funding works is when a large number of people invest a small amount of money each. This is beneficial to both parties as you don’t need to convince one person to invest a large lump sum and the investors often spread their investments across a few projects which significantly reduces their risk.

Another perk to crowdfunding is that anyone can invest in it as the minimal amounts are flexible. This allows people who wouldn’t usually be able to afford a business investment get a piece of the pie.

 

How crowd funding works

 

Some of the pros and cons

Obviously, one big pro is that entrepreneurs acquire funding for their ideas which allows them to bring them to life.

Secondly, investors can help with the creation of the final product as they are often the first people to receive a prototype and provide feedback. Because they are invested they provide useful feedback then can really help improvement the product. Like a mastermind. This increase the chance of success for both the entrepreneur and the investor.

If this sounds like a good idea to you then you would also be interested to hear that at the end of the day you would retain the full decision-making power when it came to the business. If investors didn’t agree with anything you were doing, because they only invested a small amount it’s easier for them to exit than if they had invested a larger sum.

Another positive is that it is a very fast way to raise finance when compared to more traditional means, and also you would benefit from no fees.

It can also be good for promotion as unique and clever ideas spread fast on these platforms. Millionaires have been made on platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo before the product has ever been produced.

A negative from the entrepreneur’s point of view is you risk the chance of having your product or amazing idea ripped off and duplicated before it’s even been produced.

A bad thing from an investment standpoint is that these are usually riskier projects so a loss must be expected, however as mentioned earlier if they spread their investment through several projects they can greatly reduce risk.

Crowdfunding Models: Broken Down

  1. Donations – These projects are often artistic or cultural rather than business and the investors doesn’t really get anything tangible back. Just the feeling of doing a good deed.
  2. Giving a reward for a donation – Investors in these projects are rewarded for their donation with things like recognition, prizes, raffles or if a physical product is being sold often first editions and prototypes of the product. Under this model generally no money is returned to the investors.
  3. Lending-based crowdfunding – This is where investors agree to lend their money to a business. The business can benefit from getting a smaller interest rate than if they got a loan from the bank as well as the investor benefitting by profiting at the agreed rate.
  4. Equity-based Investments – This is where a business sells off a share to the investors. Typically, in crowdfunding circles it’s common for shares to be offered from around £100 and upwards.

If you require any assistance or guidance with negotiating any of these arrangements an interim CFO is an incredible resource to have.

Is this common?

More and more people are getting involved with crowdfunding every year. In 2015 in the UK alone over 3.2 Billion was raised in crowdfunded loans, investments and donations.

 

Crowding Funding Graph

 

Where to start?

Luke Davis offers some insight into crowdfunding business networking.

 

For this sizeable collection of entrepreneurs who are not fortunate enough to access an affluent group of friends or relatives, a proactive approach is paramount. Business owners or those hoping to start a company should embrace as many networking opportunities as they possibly can to stir up greater awareness of their product and growth intentions. When the time comes to seek initial investment, you will then have established solid connections with like-minded business owners or investors who could be your first point of contact to raise that crucial 30%.

To read more click here.

 

Alternatively, there are platforms out there to promote your crowdfunding project and have their community invest. A number of UK services are provided below.

  1. Crowdcube – Is one of the few crowdfunding companies that solely helps British businesses so this takes our number one spot.
  2. Crowdfunder – Another UK based company – This platform is especially great for community projects but also has some business opportunities.
  3. Ratesetter – Voted the UK’s leading peer to peer lending based service. They boast lending out over £1 billion without any of its customers losing a penny.

There are also dozens and dozens of international platforms available such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe, but for the purpose of our audience, I’ve tried to keep it to UK.

If you are looking to raise capital for your business or startup there is a huge amount of options available to you, including the SEIS programme we blogged about earlier this year. We, at Assured FD Services, are experts in business finance providing first class business financial management as part time FD across Leeds & Yorkshire and the North of England. Contact us today, to discover how we can help you launch your business idea or accelerate the growth of your current business.

Phil Hall 1 Comment

Making sure your financial data is safe online

If you run your own business then one thing you might not have considered is that just by using your computer and the internet to carry out day to day tasks, such as making purchases, sales, transfers and any other financial tasks you are actually putting your sensitive data at risk.

This data includes but is not limited to:

  1. Bank Details
  2. Passwords
  3. Client information
  4. Employee information

If any of this information gets into the hands of the wrong people then you have a potential  situation on your hands.

In this blog post, I’m going to go over 4 steps you can take to ensure your systems are secure.

Make Sure Your Computer is Protected

The first thing you should do to ensure your computer is protected from cyber-attacks and hackers is to make sure that it is free from viruses such us trojans and malware. The unwanted programs are often designed to capture sensitive information such as passwords and account numbers.

To avoid getting these viruses in the first place it is a good idea to avoid any questionable websites and also be careful when downloading files to your computer.A good Antivirus program is essential for maintaining a secure system. If you are on Windows it is advised to invest in some 3rd party anti-virus software as many experts claim Windows defender is not up to the task at hand. You can opt for the more premium options such as Norton Anti-Virus or Kaspersky. If you are on a budget, there are also some good free options such as Avira and AVG.

Many people assume that Mac’s do not need antivirus software and this is true somewhat. The risk of infection is very slim as its mainly windows that is targeted by hackers. However, if you are running a business it’s always best to be proactive rather than reactive, so we would advise getting some protection for your Mac as well.

Don’t do the hackers any favours

Now that you’ve got some anti-virus software it’s important that you keep it up to date. The reason there are so many updates is because hackers are constantly finding new loop holes and ways to get in.

The same goes for your operating system and any other programs on your computer. If updates are released, make sure you install them. Again one of the main reasons updates are made to operating systems and software is because hackers have discovered ways to exploit previous versions.

Another thing you have to look out for is strange emails in your inbox. These might be blatantly suspicious or they could be disguised as legitimate mail from your bank or Paypal. Urging you to click through and enter your details. You should never click through emails like this if they are out of the blue. I recently received one from Paypal that said my account had been blocked due to strange activity and I should sign in to fix it. It looked like a real Paypal email but when I checked the sender (which was hidden) it was from a strange email address that definitely wasn’t Paypal. I logged in by typing Paypal.com into my address bar and everything was working fine and my account was not blocked. You can never be too careful.

Is the network secured?

When doing anything involving payments or bank transfers online always make sure that your browser shows https:// in the web address and a little padlock icon rather than the standard “http://”.

This means that the connection is encrypted. This should be on all banking websites, PayPal and any other payment gateways.

You should also try to avoid making payments or accessing your accounts on network computers when you are not in control of the network. E.g. internet cafes, libraries etc. This is because you can’t be sure if somebody is watching what you are doing or not. For the same reason you should also have some caution when you are connecting via somebody else’s WIFI. Try to make sure it is a trusted network.

Getting the basics right

The last tip we will give you is common sense to many people yet they still don’t do it. And this is protecting your accounts by choosing a hard to guess password. Mix it up with letters, numbers, capital letters and symbols.

Also, make sure your banking passwords aren’t the same as your social media or email passwords. These are more commonly hacked and this results in the hackers having the power to do some serious damage.

As a Part Time and Interim FD, I ensure to take all necessary steps to protect client data,

Phil Hall 1 Comment

Learn how to protect your business from the £8,775 cost of trading disruption.

With any small business, launch and growth strategy are at the forefronts of our minds and we spend the majority of our time critically planning for future opportunities. The very basics of business teaching advise of the importance of SWOT analysis. We should not only look at our business strengths and opportunities but also identify our weaknesses and threats so we can effectively protect ourselves against them. Therefore, it would be lenient to forgive us for overlooking our contingency planning and business continuity strategy.

Following a recent study by small business insurer Direct Line for Business, a disruption to business trading can cause huge implications for a business ongoing operation and survival.

The aim of this article is to share with you the studied implications to a small business of a disruption of trading, the main causes of these disruptions, and what we can do to minimise the risk of it happening to us.

In the following article by Ben Lobel, he details why we should be taking business contingency seriously, referencing the findings of the recent study by Direct Line for Business.

 

How much does two weeks of disruption cost a small business?

The average cost of keeping a small business afloat while unable to trade for two weeks after a disruption is estimated to be £8,775.

Destroyed stock and delivery vehicles breaking down are just a couple of incidents that have been known to cause a halt in business trading.

Small Business Disruption

Reduction in profit (48 per cent), reduction in revenue (42 per cent), loss of customers (39 per cent) and putting personal money into the business (32 per cent) were found to be the most common impacts of an interruption in trading on small business owners.

See full post here…

 

The study carried out unearthed huge risk implications that businesses face when it comes to trading disruption. But what are the causes and what should we look out for? Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty conducted a huge review of business insurance claims and reported the following to be the causes:

 

The top 10 causes of supply chain disruption loss

Increased interconnectivities and interdependencies between companies, as well as lean production processes, have contributed to both the rise in business interruption claims and new risks to business, according to The Global Claims Review 2015: business interruption in focus by Allianz report.

Top causes of business interruption loss globally, by total value (2010-2014):

With the main causes of business disruption shown to be 

1. Fire and explosion
2. Storm
3. Machinery breakdown
4. Faulty design/material/manufacturing
5. Strike/riot/vandalism
6. Cast loss (entertainment)
7. Flood
8. Collapse
9. Human error/operating error
10. Power interruption

View further findings from Allianz review by clicking here…

 

So what can we do about it? With the report detailing that over 88% of business insurance claims can be contributed to technical or human factors, the positive that we can take from it is that we can have an impact in reducing our risk. The following article addresses how we can act now:

 

MINIMISE THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF CRISES

Once you’ve identified the key risks your business faces, you need to take steps to protect your business functions against them.

Premises

Good electrical and gas safety could help protect premises against fire. Installing fire and burglar alarms also makes sense.

Think what you would do in an emergency if your premises couldn’t be used. For example, you might suggest an arrangement with another local business to share premises temporarily if a crisis affected either of you.

Equipment/machinery

If you use vital pieces of equipment, you may want to cover them with maintenance plans guaranteeing a fast emergency call-out.

IT and communications

Installing anti-virus software, backing up data and ensuring the right maintenance agreements are in place can all help protect your IT systems. You might also consider paying an IT company to regularly back up your data offsite on a secure server.

Printing out copies of your customer database can be a good way of ensuring you can still contact customers if your IT system fails.

People

Try to ensure you’re not dependent on a few staff for key skills by getting them to train other people.

Consider whether you could get temporary cover from a recruitment agency if illness left you without several key members of staff. And take health and safety seriously to reduce the risk of staff injuries.

Insurance

Insurance forms a central part of an effective risk-management strategy.

To view the full post and discover more about crisis management click here…

 

To help minimise the risk and impact of a disruption, contingency planning is essential.

If you don’t know where to start with one, Ready Scotland have prepared a “Keep Trading” business record document to help form the foundation of a strategy. They describe it as:

 

One of a number of documents to help owners and managers in small and medium sized businesses who want to think about how to protect their businesses from disruptions, small or large, natural or man-made. They can be seen as a practical introduction to managing business continuity, or how to ‘keep trading’ when trouble strikes.

To complete the document for your business, you can print the document from here…

 

Being aware of the threats posed to our businesses allows us to better prepare for them.

If you would like further advice on business contingency planning, continuity insurance or help through short term cash flow problems, a Part Time FD is the perfect resource. Benefit from extensive financial management expertise and business operational experience, as and when you need it.

Image credit

Phil Hall 2 Comments

Business Confidence and Strategy Following The Brexit Vote

There is no doubt that as we continue to steam towards Article 50 and (officially) begin the journey of Brexit, the majority of us with a vested interest in UK business feel a degree of anxiety. With the media spouting their usual negative spin, you can easily understand why.

Business investment and growth is usually led through confidence of the business market and the people within it. So, how have small businesses reacted to the vote and how do they plan on coping with Brexit?

In the following article by Enterprise Nation, you can view the results of a recent study focussing on business confidence following the vote:

 

Small Business Barometer Summer 2016

The authoritative Small Business Barometer report, which polled 800 small companies and consulted dozens more via focus groups, found an astonishing 68% were expecting to swell in the last quarter of 2016, despite acknowledging Brexit uncertainty.

Of those, 59% said they were planning to boost profits by introducing new products or services.

While 36% said they were more confident about the next six months than previously, 24% said confidence remained the same. Of those that were more confident, one fifth put the increased optimism down to organic growth.

View an infographic of the main results here.
Small Business Confidence Infographic 2016

See full post here…

 

The results of this study paint a clear picture of an optimistic UK business landscape. It has highlighted, however, that strategy is at the forefront of their minds. IDF have offered their opinion on the export opportunities they believe small businesses should be considering as part of their strategy:

Why should your small business consider exporting?

Figures released during ‘Exporting is GREAT Week’, highlighted that there are a number of opportunities available for UK SMEs who are considering export.

In total, over 6,000 export opportunities have been showcased at exportingisgreat.gov.uk, since November 2015, equating to 40 new opportunities to export every day, that is one every 36 minutes!

Whilst SMEs account for 99% of all UK businesses, they currently only make up 33% of our total goods exports, begging the question, “Why aren’t more businesses making the most of the opportunities that exporting presents?”

Click here to read the rest of this post…

With the sterling dropping to the lowest levels in decades, exporting goods and services seems like a naturally progressive strategy consideration for any business wanting to strengthen their position.

If you believe you may require advice on business finance and growth strategy to guide you through Brexit, the services of an Interim Finance Director would be a perfect resource.

If you have any concerns about your business’s performance presently and in the future, Assured FD can help. Contact us today.