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 and co-founder of

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.

The importance of learning from mistakes in business

The importance of learning from mistakes in business

by Magenta

18 October, 2017

By Carl Reader, author of The Start Up Coach, co-owner of and co-founder of

As children, we learn from our experiences, and the strongest way of learning what is safe and what isn’t is often driven more from painful events rather than any warnings our parents give us.

Whilst we’d all like to think that we’ve become much more intelligent and logical over time, as adults we also tend to learn in the same way. Any adult who has had a health scare will know that it speaks far more loudly than the preventative warnings from a doctor; in the same way that we all know that you only truly learn how to drive once you are in the car on your own, and are exposed to the real world of judgement calls, unexpected incidents and your own bad driving. This concept applies to business as much as it does to general day to day life.

There are many examples of businesses learning from their mistakes. In fact, a common word in the startup lexicon is “pivot” – in other words, look at what isn’t working and adjust accordingly. Even the very biggest corporates are now taking a much more open approach to learning nowadays, sourcing feedback from their customers and teams, and creating a collaborative culture to help them succeed.

To be able to do this properly, businesses need to be receptive to this feedback, and it is impossible to learn from your failures and implement the necessary change without embracing failure as part of your company’s culture. It’s not uncommon to find businesses with a fear of failure which has permeated through the ranks; leading to blame and avoidance of failure, rather than identification of failure and positive action being taken. This type of culture (often found in short-term KPI focused businesses) will tend to generate a defensive stance from the team members in any failure “post mortem”, rather than the open and constructive conversation that needs to take place to identify the issues and learn from them.

The reason for failure needs to be understood as there are different levels, with some being more unacceptable whilst others are actually a result of positive actions. For example, deliberate deviance from process (particularly if malicious), or failure as a result of inattention would result in an unacceptable failure; whereas a deliberate experiment to find a better way is almost always a “good” failure”. This isn’t a binary scale however, and failures have to be considered against the intention and reasoning behind them. A simple way of looking at these is to consider whether they are preventable negative failures or intelligent positive failures.

As with any corporate culture, embracing failure has to come from the top, and become part of the fabric of the organisation. The leader has to not only give permission for their teams to fail, but also admit failures of their own, and demonstrate how the learnings from any failure have been used. This is hard for many to do, as it is sometimes a perceived sign of weakness; however team members will soon realise if the culture is simply words in an operations manual rather than actions.

Just a word of warning though – it’s important to differentiate a failure from a mistake, to prevent the business falling into the trap of being underperforming. Failures are absolutely fine, and are part of the learning experience. A mistake is a failure either repeated or ignored.

How to get started with property crowdfunding

How to get started with property crowdfunding

by Guest Contributor

21 September, 2017

By Kim Collier, founder of The Resort Crowd

The property investment sector has been a very exclusive industry for a long time. Only a select group of people have been able to invest and successfully make money from it.

Why is this so? Some may argue that there is a certain level of eliteness within the investment sector. A common belief exists that the finance industry is plagued with language that excludes outsiders. For most people, there is very little education on investment, and how to get started.

But things are changing, and we’re here to talk you through how to get started with property crowdfunding.

How is it changing?

With the development of digital, alternative finance sources online have been revolutionising the way people invest. Since crowdfunding platforms hit the scene, the sector has been opened up considerably.

There are a few reasons for this. Not only does crowdfunding provide a platform for first time investors to get started, the internet is also home to free and readily available information on how to start investing. Example one, this article.

Who is crowdfunding for?

Anyone. The beauty of crowdfunding is that the platforms do not discriminate or exclude; any Joe Bloggs with an internet connection is able to invest. It removes so much of the jargon and complication. Today, you could search for something you’re interested in and make an investment within a couple of minutes. It’s worth noting that some investment platforms will require tests and questionnaires in order to invest, so look out for that on your hunt for investment opportunities.

Why property?

Your first step is choosing something that you want to invest in. A quick google will tell you that you can invest in a broad range, from things such as education, new apps, crazy new startups to overseas property.

The long term benefits of property investment have been observed for years. It’s been said that property doubles in value every ten years, and whilst this might not be strictly true in all circumstances, capital growth still runs parallel with property investment. So, with that in mind, let’s look at where to start.

Step 1 / Do your research

Your first step is finding a platform online that provides what you’re looking for. One of the benefits of online crowdfunding platforms is that there’s a lot more transparency. Since crowdfunding generally works on a peer-to-peer basis, you can read reviews from other investors and be sure that you are putting your money somewhere legitimate.

Step 2 / Shop around

Many crowdfunding platforms and individual campaigns will offer their own benefits should you wish to invest. Make sure the investment you choose will guarantee the return you’re looking for in your own time scale. Overseas property investment is an attractive option, offering fixed returns rates for up to five years. Consider your own needs and look at the different options available before settling on the right deal for you.

Step 3 / Make an investment

Once you’ve committed to the platform and level of investment, making the payment is as easy as filling in an online form. Depending on the platform of investment, often you can purchase property shares for as little as £10.

On platforms that specialises in overseas property investment, such as The Resort Crowd, it’s easy to browse the range of resort properties in holiday hotspots. If a property is not fully funded, your investment will be refunded, leaving you to invest it elsewhere.

Step 4 / Sit back and relax

Once you’ve made your investment, you just sit back and wait for the returns to come rolling in. It’s really as simple as that!

Top 10 tips for managing your finances

Top 10 tips for managing your finances

by Guest Contributor

4 August, 2017

By Helen Howcroft, Managing Director at Equanimity 

1. Set a budget

Please don’t groan and I know that it’s boring however it really does work. Setting a monthly / annual budget does enable an individual to manage their money more effectively. We find that clients that have a budget are more aware of what they spend and therefore generally spend less and save more.

2. MoneyDashBoard

Tracking your income and expenditure can be really hard work and is quite boring. However you don’t have to do the hard work yourself. There are now plenty of online apps that do it for you. We particularly like as it enables you to make your own categories for expenditure and allows you to download transactions onto an excel spreadsheet (or similar format). Therefore for those analytical individuals it enables them to analyse their expenditure to their hearts content.

3. When last did you really check your credit card statement

It is quite alarming when you start checking credit card statements as you will identify transactions on them that don’t belong to you. I’ve been charged for a private number plate thanks to the DVLA as well as someone’s cosmetic surgery on mine simply because a member of staff had keyed on one digit incorrectly when processing a transaction. Obviously large transactions should be spotted quite quickly however the small transactions can sneak through easily. So please do check credit card statements regularly. I personally found that using the online budgeting systems such as MoneyDashBoard has enabled me to spot such transactions more easily as it highlights any transactions that it doesn’t recognise.

4. Subscriptions

Direct debits are great as they mean that items get paid for automatically however how many of the Direct Debits linked to rolling subscriptions do you need? Do you really need to be paying for Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime and iMusic (don’t get me started on LinkedIn Premium). Lots of subscriptions cost less than £10 each per month but every £10 being spent is £10 less than can be saved for something for you to buy in the future.

5. Shop around

Insurance, utilities costs, bank accounts and credit cards generally cost more each year and can easily become uncompetitive. Shopping around can save hundreds of pounds each year that could be saved for your future instead. We particularly like Martin Lewis’ website MoneySavingExpert as they generally keep their research up to date. Remember that with all the comparison sites they generally get back a “kick back” for any referrals so never solely rely on one comparison site for your research.

6. Discount websites

There are a plethora of websites that can give you discounts off transactions. These can be for either a pre-funded transaction where vouchers are bought at a discounted price with a retailer or cashback is provided on transactions. Using such sites can save up to 10% on the cost of the transaction.

7. Inflation

Don’t underestimate the effects of inflation. Inflation is the amount that items increase in value each year and it can be substantial over a 10 year period. The general rule of thumb is £10,000 in the bank account today will only be worth £6,666 in 10 years time. Not that the £10,000 has actually fallen in value, but it will only enable you to purchase goods worth £6,666 today as inflation will have increase the costs of the goods by the difference.

8. Don’t be scared of the stockmarket

Generally over the long term, ie a 10 year + period, it is sensible to invest money that has the opportunity to grow faster than the rate of inflation. Over the long term investments on the stockmarket or in property have generally outperformed inflation. However with all types of investing things do go down as well as up in value. Any money that you don’t need to get access to for a long time should be inested for it to grow as much as possible. The key thing to remember is that they will fall in value however over the longer term they should grow to be worth far more than money just left in the bank.

9. Don’t underestimate how much you will want to spend in retirement

The most common question I am asked as a financial adviser is how much money clients need to save for retirement. The only way to answer that question is to know how much you want to spend. A rough way of calculating that answer is to take what you are spending now, deduct the cost of mortgage and children. Whatever is left will the amount that you will want to spend in retirement to maintain your current lifestyle.

10. Just start saving

Many people are put off from saving into a pension because they can never afford to save enough. The most important thing to do is to start saving. Unless you start saving you will never have enough. So anything is better than nothing.