Carl’s guide to saving money for new businesses

Carl’s guide to saving money for new businesses

by Magenta

27 June, 2018

By Carl Reader, author of The Start Up Coach, co-owner of dennisandturnbull.com and co-founder of taxgo.org

The startup and development stages of a business can be challenging, not least because of finances. One of the key tasks as a new business owner is making sure that you manage your finances well.

In fact, bootstrapping – the act of starting a business without or with very little external help or capital – can be an incredibly effective way to ensure a business’s positive cashflow.

Often, a startup is run on a minimal budget, and as such effective cash flow management is key. You don’t need to be an accountant to manage your cash position, but you do need to be aware of some key statistics within your business to ensure that a downward trend doesn’t leave you with more month than money!

There is an often repeated phrase in business, which you might have heard before: “Turnover is Vanity, Profit is Sanity, but Cash is King”. This saying highlights a key area that some new business owners forget: ultimately, your staff, suppliers and landlord will need paying, and cash is vital for the health of a business.

One of the first areas that business owners get confused on when it comes to financial matters is the difference between cashflow and profit. Did you know that a business could have £150,000 profit on paper, but be overdrawn with their bank and struggle with cash flow? Once you have an understanding of the differences, it is obvious, however many entrepreneurs don’t immediately understand this area.

There are a number of items that may be included within a profit and loss account that may not be directly reflected in your bank account. If you make a trade sale to another business, it would often have payment terms attached, and as such you might have to wait 30 days to get paid. Similarly, you would have payment terms on your purchases once you are an established business, and again your bank account wouldn’t reflect these expenses until the payment is made. This would all need to be considered when planning your finances in the early stages of a business.
As the popularity of bootstrap businesses shows, starting a business doesn’t have to cost a lot. This is especially true if you already have most of what you need. That said, by very nature, startups and new businesses usually have to spend a fair bit to get themselves set up. They need to purchase equipment, collateral, branding, perhaps premises – but as long as this is carefully budgeted for and factored into future plans, this shouldn’t be a problem. Keeping a strong awareness of your outgoings and stacking this against what’s coming in is key to ensuring you don’t run into problems. Hiring staff can be a massive cost, so I would recommend holding off doing this until absolutely needed.

Besides this, however, the first thing to remember about working to a tight budget is that it doesn’t necessarily mean not spending. It’s not about cash splashing; it’s about strategically and carefully choosing where to put your money. It’s about being lean, not mean – and this needs to happen from the start. Ditch the extras, focus on the essentials.

For some businesses, investment in a high-spec laptop might be a vital piece of kit. For others, they might only need a few low-cost items. What you need to work out is how to spend with careful discernment. Do you need every bell and whistle that is offered with a product? No, probably not – however bear in mind it needs to be fit for your business too. Don’t scrimp if it’s going to affect what you can offer your clients – because with no clients, you have nothing. That can be the make and break of a business – spending money where it matters and adds most value for you and your clients. Economise where you can, but don’t sacrifice your business and values.


How to Challenge Your Mind Through Events

How to Challenge Your Mind Through Events

by Guest Contributor

22 June, 2018

Interview James Vogl

You recently launched Cerebral Gym - can you tell us about your mission and the types of events you're hosting in the upcoming months?

We are working towards having multiple live full-time permanent Cerebral Gyms where people can come and work-out their minds, for an hour or two in the same way that they go to workout their bodies in traditional gyms. World class trainers will lead classes in subjects as diverse as learning to play bridge in an hour to opera appreciation. The content will then be integrated online and via our app to reach a larger audience too. In the coming months, we have individual pop-up sessions at Mortimer House, on improving your backgammon, a parenting workshop, studying the actual text of the Quran, a seminar on Risk and a fiction book club. On the 13th May, we have our launch day at The House of St Barnabas which will showcase all of what Cerebral Gym will have to offer when we open next year: ten speakers, multiple classes, debates, games tournaments, food and drink and a live after-dinner show.

How has your background as a former professional poker play turned hedge fund manager inspired you to start the business?

I always enjoyed playing games and was clearly drawn and driven to backgammon, poker and trading for the financial rewards. But when I look back now at the twenty years I devoted to these areas, it was the process of learning and the amazing people I met and went through that journey with that was special. It doesn’t matter what you are learning if you enjoy it and are passionate and are often all-consumed. I think given the right environment everyone can take something more out of their leisure time especially when they mix with other inspiring people.

How do you think we, as adults, challenge our minds after formal education? Why should we push ourselves to learn something new?

People do this in different ways: traditionally you would have to read widely or in a more focused way on a specialised subject. Today you can watch a TED talk or listen to multiple podcasts etc.. The last thing in the world the majority want to do is go to a night school after a long day of work. Nothing currently exists where you can walk into a luxurious, buzzing environment full of young people hanging out, debating, eating and drinking and listening to music. There is not much more rewarding than expanding your mind and meeting new people on this journey but it doesn’t have to feel like work. If we can create an environment where you don’t realise you are learning but are just having a great time and come away having learned something new or having been challenged I think we will have succeeded.

What is so valuable about physical events? Can't we find out everything we need to know online?

Someone once told me to never ask them a question you could Google. But this leads to a pretty sad and lonely world. Perhaps I am bias… Eight years ago I recognised a girl I had seen around for about a decade but didn’t ever know her name. We were sat by chance next to each other at a Jewish Book Week lecture. I can’t remember even what the lecture was about but I have been married to Nikki for seven years now!

You're hosting a large-scale event in May. Which speakers are you most excited about hosting?

I am excited about all of them but I am especially excited to hear Dominic O’Brien eight times world memory champion as well as Emma Sinclair talking about setting up tech innovation labs in refugee camps for UNICEF.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

In 2004 I was a 23 year-old professional poker player and was undecided whether to go to Vegas for the World Series of Poker that year. A friend of mine who wasn’t a poker player and even thought it wasn’t the right way of life for me said to me “if you are going to be a poker player, you better do it properly and you need to be in Vegas”. I won the first event there for $400,000 and it changed my life.

James Vogl

James Vogl, 37, is a former professional backgammon and poker player. He won a World Series of Poker bracelet at the age of 23 in 2004.

He went on to trade equities and credit at Goldman Sachs, before becoming a proprietary trader at Manro-Haydan commodities, then joining Moore Capital as a macro portfolio manager. He became a partner of Graham Capital LLP in May 2012 where he had sole responsibility for running a portfolio of over $1 billion.

In September 2017 he left to set-up Cerebral Gym full-time, an idea he first conceived of six years ago when he challenged his gym personal trainer to become conversational in Mandarin, rather than complete an Ironman the following year. James was delighted to lose the bet.


For tickets to Cerebral Gym’s upcoming events, visit cerebralgym.com


Thieves of time

Thieves of time

by Guest Contributor

22 June, 2018

by Dominic Irvine

“I don’t have the time to do what you do.” The implication is that somehow I have more free time, a less demanding job, or fewer family commitments. I must have heard this comment said to me dozens of times. It’s nonsense. I’m married, have a family, and along with my colleagues, run a successful business. What makes me a bit unusual is on top of these things, in my late forties, I have also been lucky enough to become a record-breaking cyclist and author. I’d like to say it’s because I am talented, clever, genetically gifted and brilliant. But sadly, that’s also nonsense.

My two biggest revelations have been:

1/     Extraordinary performance requires a huge amount of time and effort and a relentless drive to keep improving what you are doing. It doesn’t matter whether you want to be a brilliant artist, musician, baker, investment banker or sports person, there is no substitute for graft. It’s harder than you think and takes longer than you might like.

2/    Time is perishable. You cannot save time, only spend it. Think of it like a hotel room, if the hotel cannot sell the room that night, it cannot store that unused night up for a busier period – the revenue opportunity has gone and will never come back. The key challenge is how you spend time not how you save it. We cannot change the number of hours in the day, but we can do something with the hours that we have.

From my experience I have found five thieves of time and found some solutions that have helped me recover precious hours to spend on becoming a record breaker and author whilst still being a full-time working dad and husband.

Television

It’s really easy to slump in front of the TV and start watching. There’s a good reason for this, a lot of very clever people have made some very engaging, entertaining and informative programmes. Once you get into a programme, stopping to go away and do something else is really hard.

  1. Don’t start watching it in the first place. You can’t get engaged by a programme if you are not watching it. If you do watch a programme, choose to watch a specific programme, not just anything.
  2. Make TV time a virtue, watch your favourite programmes whilst on the treadmill or an exercise bike or doing the ironing.
  3. Put the TV in a separate room out of the main living area of the house (if this is possible). If you then want to watch it you have to go into the television room. It thus becomes a conscious decision to watch.

Social media

Keeping in contact with friends is great and social media is a wonderful tool for this. Tracking it all can become an addiction that both eats up time and reduces the quality of our thinking by reducing our focus on the task at hand.

  1. Give yourself a few time slots in the day when you do check social media. Turn off the alerts.
  2. Reduce the number of platforms you track – a bit more of a challenge as some people like some platforms better than others. But the more platforms the more time it takes.
  3. Create some rules for yourself about your own posts – what would make them really engaging for other people? Help other people by making sure that if you do post something it is well worth the read, such that people look forward to hearing from you.

Internet

Those clever people who sit behind the search engines we use and the pages we browse, know how to target us with specific information likely to draw us into exploring more and more pages of content. The major challenge of the internet is curating content into usable, useful formats that provide the information we need. The rest is distracting noise that just gets in the way.

  1. When opening your favourite browser, with your mug of coffee ready to be entertained, ask yourself “What question am I seeking to answer?” It might not seem much of a thing to do but it will force you to think about what is it you want to know – Are you exploring holiday options, If so, what aspect? Recommendations? Reviews? Flights? Be clear about what you are doing and it will help focus both your time and enable you make better choices of which sites to explore.
  2. Decide on your time limit for browsing. I.e. allow yourself ten minutes, or half an hour and decide what you are going to do afterwards before you start browsing so you know why you need to move on.
  3. Subscribe only to the number of sites / feeds you can realistically follow and read. There is nothing to stop you changing your subscriptions as your needs change. If you are seeking advice or insight, make sure the credentials of those providing it are adequate – do they really know what they are talking about or is it just a lot of vacuous opinion?

Smartphones

What a brilliant tool a smartphone is. It can do so much stuff, and as a result can be so distracting.

  1. Turn off the alerts except on critical apps. Emails, by definition rarely require an instant response, whereas a text can sometimes be a little more urgent. Consider keeping the alerts on for critical people and off for everyone else.
  2. Turn off all alerts at night. Sleep is so important to performance that it is not worth squandering on browsing.
  3. Put it somewhere where it is just a bit inconvenient to use. If in bed, leave the phone in another room. If out and about, put it in your bag or pocket. If in the car, stick it in the glove compartment.If you really want to be good at something, stop complaining you don’t have the time and take a good long hard look at the things you currently spend your time doing. Are they helping or hindering you in achieving your ambitions? From my experience, changing your habits around these five activities can liberate 10 to 20 hours a week. Just think what you could do with that time.


Author: Dominic Irvine

As well as his consultancy business, Dominic is a keen ultra-distance cyclist – he actually holds the current record for non-stop cycling on a tandem from Land’s End to John O’Groats and regularly takes part in ultra-distance challenges.

Dominic’s consultancy focuses on leadership, performance and innovation. With his colleagues, he has grown the business from developing executives using coaching, to the design and facilitation of international conferences, culture change and leadership development for multinational blue-chip companies across the globe. He also regularly produces blogs that explore key leadership and people development issues.


Getting to grip with coffee: a guide on types of coffee

Getting to grip with coffee: a guide on types of coffee

by Guest Contributor

22 June, 2018

by Gavin Dow, MD of Coffee Central

It seems overwhelming sometimes when trying to get your head around all the types of coffee. Many people get confused on the difference between a Latte and a flat white - let alone the individual flavours of each bean! Gavin Dow, MD of Coffee Central is here to help, talking us through the different types, flavours and best coffee globally; including what to look out for as a beginner.

1. Understanding the location

The first trick to understanding coffee us to know is where your coffee has come from. The same way that people pay attention to the grapes that go into their wine, the geographical region that your coffee has originated is very important in the flavour! Firstly, be aware of the ‘coffee belt’ that runs around the world between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, where the majority of coffee is grown. Then, understand there are three main regions: Asia Pacific, Africa and Arabia and Latin America. Once you get to grips which of these three regions your coffee has come for, you’re off to a good start.

2. Get the flavours right

Secondly, each region’s coffee has a very distinctive characteristics. The coffee spectrum runs from being very full bodied to lighter flavours. Asia pacific has deep aromas of herbs and spices and typically produces very full bodied coffees. Africa and Arabia is the oldest coffee region in the world, and are medium bodied and often more fruity and floral. Lastly, but not least, latin American coffee has less body than the rest and is lighter and more acidic.

3. Brewing is important

One you understand the flavours of the beans itself, the next step is getting to grips with what kind of brew is most suitable. Depending on how you brew your beans has a huge effect on the flavour and style of coffee. The traditional methods of making coffee are Espresso and French press, but many more exist out there. Percolators are becoming increasingly popular, producing a rich and strong flavour.

4. The right style of coffee

Finally, it’s just as important to know the style that you want to consume your coffee. This is the part that most people have some idea about, how much milk and sugar they prefer. However, a lot of people are guilty to sticking to what they know, and don’t dare order anything other than their normal ‘flat white’ for example. However, there’s a whole world of new and exciting coffee styles out there, and knowing the different methods and components of a Cappuccino to Macchiato will help you explore the many variants of coffee available.


First Time Sailors Fear Naught! Tips for Your Inaugural Boating Holiday

First Time Sailors Fear Naught! Tips for Your Inaugural Boating Holiday

by Guest Contributor

12 June, 2018

It’s easy to understand why sailing has become more and more popular in recent years. The focus required to control the boat and the feeling of freedom on the open ocean are just two reasons why people return time and again to the high seas. For first-timers, a few days at sea might seem like an unnerving way to spend a holiday. Yet, with a little forward planning, preparation and sense of adventure, anyone can grasp the art of sailing and enjoy a holiday at sea.

1. Keep it light

Unless you are travelling on a super yacht, bear in mind that cabin space is usually extremely tight. Only pack the absolute essentials to avoid clogging up limited walkway space with unnecessary items. It’s also worth using a holdall or rucksack rather than a hard suitcase, as they can be folded away once you have unpacked.

2. Stay protected

The idea of sitting on the top deck with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair is probably the reason you decided to book your sailing holiday in the first place. However, being at sea does not mean you can forget to respect the sun and protect your skin. In fact, the reflection of the rays on the water intensifies the potential for sunburn and all it takes is a cooling sea breeze for you to forget your SPF and get a serious burn. Stay vigilant and make sure you bring enough sun cream, and a sun hat, after all – you want to make sure the is trip is memorable for the right reasons!

3. Plan for the worst

Noah Silliman / Unsplash

Noah Sillman / Unsplash

Whilst it’s important to only pack the essentials and be wary of the sun, you should be making room for inclement weather essentials too. Even if the forecast is sunny, things can quickly change at sea and to enjoy sailing in all conditions you’ll need waterproofs to protect you. Brands like Musto and Helly Hanson have sailing clothes with moisture wicking base layers and warm inner linings to keep you cosy and dry. Then you can enjoy the seriously exhilarating experience sailing in stormy waters without getting cold and miserable.

4. Keep your sea legs

Taking to the water can gives you a way to switch off from life’s stresses, and simply connect with nature. Although, if it’s your first time staying on a boat, you could end up feeling a little woozy. Make sure you have seasickness pills on hand just in case, so that if you do feel unwell, it doesn’t spoil your relaxed vibe. As well as the medication, try standing on the top deck and focussing on the horizon to restore your balance; spending long amounts of time in the cabin can exacerbate seasickness symptoms.

5. Don’t go sparko

Whilst a sailing trip is a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from your everyday life for a few days, you may want to bring your phone and other electronic goods on your trip. Remember that it can often be tricky to find a plug socket on board. If possible, bring battery powered chargers for electrical items to ensure that you can use them on your trip. If you are likely to have your phone on you whilst on deck, investing in a waterproof case is a clever idea too. Sailing is a truly unique experience and a fantastic way to see the world so once you have prepared for your first sailing trip, the only thing left to do is relax and enjoy yourself!

Read more from Ed at http://thespoondraw.blogspot.co.uk 


Why you should learn how to code

Why you should learn how to code

by Guest Contributor

8 June, 2018

By Sukh Ryatt
Managing Director at intranet software solutions provider Oak
www.oak.com

With the digital revolution in full swing, programming is perhaps one of the most valuable skills to hold. Whether you are looking to expand your career prospects, or even if you just fancy a new hobby, coding has the potential to open endless opportunities.

There are tonnes of reasons why learning to code is a good idea. Due to the skills shortage, there is a constant demand for Programmers and Developers in professional environments, as well as a high volume of freelance roles. Whilst freelancing isn’t for everyone, it does offer the unique opportunity to work to your own time scale, which can do wonders for your work/ life balance. As technology is so prominent nowadays, it will remain a valued profession, and so being computer-literate is essential!

Learning to code will influence your approach to work, as you’ll become a real stickler for detail. Proofreading will become second nature; you will gain detective-worthy problem solving skills; and you’ll be determined to get it right the first time – especially when one misplaced comma has the power to wreck an entire project!

Even if you’re not interested to pursue development as a career, there are very few modern job roles that don’t involve some form of tech element. Being savvy to key concepts and knowing very basic code can improve your communication and collaboration skills with others, as you’ll have a better sense of what to expect in terms of quality and timescale.

If you’re a total novice, it’s advisable to teach yourself code before splashing out on an expensive course. You can think of this as a trial period, to discover whether it’s something you’d like to do professionally, or simply something to occupy your spare time. There are tonnes of free online resources and tutorials you can follow, regardless of your skill level, or expertise.

For first-time programmers, Codeacademy offers a selection of interactive projects that are great to get some guided, hands-on experience. The courses are accompanied by straight-forward articles, allowing you to really get a grasp on the various concepts covered, such as ‘user centred design’ and ‘back-end web architecture’.

Another great option is Free Code Camp. Here aspiring programmers can gain valuable work experience by completing projects for non-profiting organisations – a great way to get your foot in the door!

For those who are slightly more experienced, Hacker Rank lets developers compete in challenges and competitions to expand their skill set. The community element is a great platform to share ideas, and make problem solving a real group effort.

If you decide development is the career path for you, there are tonnes of relevant degree subjects, such as Computer Science and Web Development, that can help you to truly hone your skills, ready for a professional environment. If you are seeking a career change, and don’t want to commit to 3 years of university, there are some legitimate online courses that can help you embark on your new career path. For example, Makers Academy, which is Europe’s leading Web Development boot camp, offering practical experience and job seeking assistance.