Our Finance Story

Acquiring a business is always challenging. Acquiring a business during a global pandemic might be considered stupid.
In August 2020, we acquired Start.Biz after the best part of 12 months trying to get the deal over the line and it was the best decision we ever made.
Bevan and I became friends whilst our wives, Kirsty and Michaela, were pregnant. During the first year of becoming parents both couples decided that we wanted to control our own fate.
We had spent the best part of 15 years working in businesses and helping the Directors and Shareholders of those businesses make a lot of money. We thought it was about time we pooled our resources and brains to have a go ourselves.
On 3rd January 2020, we received confirmation that our offer for the business had been accepted. After initial jubilation/celebration, the hard work began. Alongside working in full-time roles across the UK and completing Due Diligence, we had to start and complete our finance raise. Our journey to raise finance and finalise the deal had six steps:

Step 1 – “Skin in the game” 

No-one was going to lend to us without us putting some money in ourselves. The business was profitable and cash generative, but lenders wanted to see us share some of the risk. Over a period of 6 months, we managed to raise one-third of the deal value using our own money plus begging/borrowing from family.

Step 2 – Start Up Loan salvation 

We were one-third down but still some way to go. Due to us structuring the deal via the formation of a new Limited Company, we were eligible for a Start-Up Loan. Both of us and our wives were able to apply for these loans which secured another 25% of what we needed. Although these are personal loans, the business (post-acquisition) makes the repayment and at an interest of 6%, it is a great funding source to go to when there is a funding gap.

Step 3 – Alternative providers 

High-street lenders weren’t interested in the deal. At the time of our finance raise, Covid had just started, and all focus was on businesses securing CBILS or Bounce Back Loans for survival. We were way down the pecking order so had to approach other funders. Luckily, in BCRS and ART Business Loans, we found two lenders that were willing to work with us and provide the required debt to get the deal over the line. Funding secured, or so we thought….

Step 4 – Panic 

We arrived in mid-June engulfed in ‘legals’ and things started to go quiet. Having been through a few of these processes previously, I knew that this wasn’t a good sign. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally spoke to the Seller who told us that he had been giving the deal a lot of thought and decided to pull out. Bevan and I had already racked up a lot of costs to get to this point and more importantly, we had started to get emotionally invested in the business and our plans to drive it forwards. Although all seemed lost, we went back to the Seller for one final time with a revised/improved “Hail Mary” offer – two days later, it was accepted. Phew!

Step 5 – Completion 

From the moment the deal was back on track, we went into overdrive to get the deal done as quickly as possible but now we needed more finance!! We had run out of time to go to another finance provider and the effects of Covid had started to be felt throughout the UK. Eventually, one of our contacts was able to provide a short-term loan to give us the space to get the deal done before then applying for new finance, post-Completion, to repay him.
Right up to the day of Completion itself, we really weren’t sure whether the Seller would go through with the deal which, in itself, was pretty stressful. At 1:30pm on 28th August 2020, the legal documents were signed, and the business was ours.
We gave ourselves the weekend to celebrate….

Step 6 – Re-focus and drive 

From the following Monday and ever since, we have been striving to drive the business forwards with new staff, products and systems. Like any SME, day to day costs need to be managed as we grow our customer base. All of this has required investment and use of working capital. From day 1, raising finance has been inextricably linked to our ownership and management of the business. With the plans that we have in place, that isn’t going to change any time soon.

What happens after the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) ends on 30 June 2022?

Here are our predictions for what will happen after the scheme finsihes this year.

1. It might not end 

The RLS has already been extended once, from 31st December 2021 to 30th June 2022, and it has been mooted that there may be another further extension yet. With over 70 lenders on board and a steady stream of RLS loans still being approved, demand would suggest there is still a need for this product. Watch this space!

2. The RLS may be replaced 

We had a meeting this week with one lender who informed that talks were ongoing about a replacement for the RLS currently under review by the Government. No terms have, as yet, been released but this would imply that the Government recognise that without further encouragement on their part, the debt market place (for SMEs in particular) could start to shrink.

3. The debt market place returns to pre-Covid’19 conditions 

Without an accessible Government-backed loan product on the table. The Government may determine that it has propped up the business community enough over the last 2+ years and now it is time to start recouping those monies rather than lending more into this space. There are pros and cons of ending the RLS and the decision would be made much easier if macro-economic circumstances were not as turbulent and fragile as they currently stand.
Over the last 2+ years, high-street banks have lent multiple times their annual average and are now working hard to secure repayments; market share that alternative lenders started to occupy after 2008 has accelerated and borrowers are more comfortable with paying a premium for more accessible debt without the ongoing management and financial information requirements; debt is now commonplace amongst a high proportion of SMEs that had previously never considered or required taking it on pre-Covid.
The Chancellor has to make a big decision on the RLS in the coming months that will impact the market as a whole. One thing is certain and that is that the debt landscape has changed for good due to Covid’19: demonstrating strong entrepreneurial skills (adaptability/innovation/resilience) will determine the winners of tomorrow.

Different Types of Business Finance Explained

Accessing the right debt finance for your business can be hard – the debt market is very noisy and has some sharks patrolling its shores. Despite this, raising finance is a very common requirement for the majority of businesses whether they are a start-up or large Corporate.
Before taking on any new debt, the first question we always think requires serious consideration is “Do I actually need it?” Can the business get where it needs to be in the same timeframe without the debt, albeit with a bit more difficulty along the way? If so, don’t take the debt on and endure the short-term pain for the long-term gain.
If taking on new debt is the right option for the business, then we typically see this taking one of three formats:

1. Finance for Growth: 

Start Up Loans – Typically aimed at the pre-start/early stage marketplace, 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. Critically, these loans are personal loans and repayments will be made by the individual. Interest rates are 6% which is reasonable relative to the high-risk nature of the loans themselves.
Working Capital – “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is King.” Every evolving business has its working capital pinch points and cash management is one of the biggest challenges that SMEs face. Working Capital finance can give a business the breathing space it needs to manage its growth, hire new staff, take on new contracts etc.
Assets/Equipment purchases – Raising finance for equipment, vehicles or acquiring a property is a natural evolution in most business’ growth. There are a variety of ways to fund an asset-led deal which can work well for a borrower and add some tangible value to a business’ Balance Sheet. When allied with certain tax breaks (Capital Allowances) that businesses can currently receive, they are well worth consideration as a business looks to expand.

2. Finance for Mergers & Acquisitions: 

A Merger or Acquisition can be a great way to accelerate business growth and profitability. Certain sectors such as Technology and Healthcare are ripe at the moment for consolidation. Raising finance in this area can be challenging and requires a substantial amount of due diligence and financial analysis and forecasting. Getting the right finance package in place can be one of the key determining factors between a good deal and a bad one.

3. Finance for debt management/refinancing: 

In our ever-changing and unpredictable world, a rise in the Bank of England’s base interest rates can have a meaningful impact upon monthly debt repayments. As a result, refinancing debt via a cheaper provider or looking to extend the term of a repayment can ease cash pressures and allow management to focus on the core activities of the business.
At Start.biz, we have 15 years’ experience raising debt finance in all of the above areas and have built a network of industry contacts over this period to introduce our clients to. Give us a call on 0800 069 9090 or e-mail via finance@start.biz to set up your free consultation.

Start Following – Inspire-a-doll

Shovon Wiggan is CEO and Founder of Inspire-a-doll, a multi-cultural doll range representing girls from different cultures around the world. They are bringing much needed diversity awareness to the doll industry by celebrating individuality, geography, and culture. Inspire-a-doll aims to teach children about new cultures, introduce them to inspiring leading ladies in history, travel the world through play and celebrate diversity. Shovon is also a mother and third year student just about to graduate from Birmingham City University.
We sat down with Shovon last week to chat all things business, the importance of self-believe and discuss what on earth Kim was talking about with her ‘advice’ to women in business 🤔

How did you originally get the idea for Inspire-a-doll? 

‘I started university and I was studying business management. One day whilst I was babysitting my niece, Nyah, she said to me she didn’t want to be black which obviously shocked and saddened me. I’m a solution-based person so I tried to think how I could incorporate what she said into a solution and that’s how dolls came up.’

What’s the best piece of life or business advice you’ve been given? 

‘Believe in your own source. We live in a world where it’s so easy to not be yourself or not have confidence in yourself, especially if you’re different. However, when you become confident that changes, everyone wants to know how you became so confident.’
‘Believe in your own source.’ 

What advice would you give to someone with an idea but not a way to realise it? 

‘Create a team and a support system around you of people that have done it before and have more knowledge than you. Learn as much as you can about the industry, including your competitors. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions!’

What’s your opinion on the hustle and girl boss culture? 

‘The BossBabe Instagram account does inspire me. I prefer the hustler mentality. Hustler is about hunger and a purpose that will never fizzle out.
On Kim K’s recent advice‘I think it’s odd how she phrased it, she aimed it at women in business but women in business have worked to be there, so I didn’t really understand what she was saying!’ 

You’re a mum and a business owner, how do you balance these two super important and demanding jobs? 

‘Managing being a mother and running my own company has happened over time. When I first set up, it was during the pandemic so I still had time to spend with my son, less external demands, time to reflect. When lockdown eased it then became really stressful. My living room was where I worked and where I spent time with my son. So, I decided to move my office out of my house to STEAMhouse. Work never ends when you’re an entrepreneur however now having a separate space to work makes it easier to allocate time and switch off. Don’t get me wrong I still don’t enjoy the pressure to go into the office though!’
‘Sometimes I want to go and hide until I know all the answers, but life doesn’t work like that.’ 

What leaves you feeling recharged and who are your biggest inspirations? 

‘My YouTube addiction leaves me feeling recharged! I love documentaries – crime docs, nature docs. The women that inspire me are my mum and nan. I also love Rihanna and her attitude. But my biggest inspiration is me. When I was younger, I was a tomboy, I would watch how the boys interacted with each other and how they would interact with girls they liked. I wanted to be treated like the boys treated each other not how they would treat the girls. This taught me that I can look beautiful on the outside but to always invest in your personality.’

What’s your favourite part of running your own business? 

‘Meeting and networking with so many cool, amazing people.
Knowing that I’m making an impact with my life, creating change and giving my son something to look up to. 
Showing people, and definitely females, we can do anything. Don’t be put into a box, you have so much potential.’

What’s your least favourite part of running your own business? 

‘Having to deal with the failures because there’s a lot of them [laughs]. Fully accepting responsibility when things go wrong and having to learn on the job. You can plan, plan, plan, and still things go wrong.
You have to reflect, learn and try again.’ 

What’s your biggest business barrier right now? 

‘Being a confident woman intimidates people, especially men. I purposely don’t tone myself down, I like to set the tone from the beginning, this is me.
I’m not going to water myself down just to make you like me. 
That can be a barrier as they don’t expect you to be like that.’

Do you think every private company should have a social impact element their business? 

‘Right now, this is the buzzword, big business has jumped on being socially impactful, but I do think if they could get away with not doing it, I think they would. With small businesses, because it’s from the heart and we put in our blood, sweat and tears to get it off the ground, do try and think about how it’s going to impact the environment and the community.’

What would you like to see change in the doll and toy industry? 

‘The toys our children play with need to reflect the society that we live in. They indoctrinate children from such a young age to want features they aren’t genetically born with.’

 

Whilst building your business have you made your products more environmentally friendly? 

‘Yes, we were going to do plastic dolls but after doing my research on how plastic is affecting the environment I said no and decided to go with fabric dolls instead. I also got the opportunity to produce a 3D printed doll, we ended up using a material made from banana leaf for the printed doll rather than plastic.
I would like to go into schools and do workshops too, so I want to be able to talk about the environmentally friendly materials as well.’ 

What are your plans for the future of Inspire a doll? 

‘Our products will be arriving in April, for the May launch. After the launch I would like to do pop-ups in stores around the UK. Then we’ll start working on the second doll if all goes well. Following this we’ll start pitching to buyers, I want to see Inspire-a-doll in The Entertainer, Argos, Tesco, Selfrdiges! I’m thinking big as I know the possibilities are endless. We want Inspire-a-doll to be an animation and a series of children’s books.
I’m a big believer of manifestation and timing is very important.’ 
Shovon is a total inspiration, we want to thank her for sitting down with us and we can’t wait to catching up with her again as her business grows.
Interviewed and written by Felicity Blades, Marketing Executive at Start.Biz.

Start Following – Unite Rehab

Start.Biz community member Leila Holmes and owner of Physioadvantage has teamed up with Muscle Mechanic Sports Massage founder Sam Cochrane, to provide a comprehensive Physiotherapy & Sports Massage Therapy clinic located on St Owen’s Street in Hereford, UK.
We first met Leila when her business, @physioadvantage, was entered into our monthly independent business competitions and have been blown away by her service and exciting expansion over the past few months.
Unite Rehab’s aim is to combine all your rehab needs under one roof.

Leila provides: 

Specialist Musculoskeletal assessment and treatment for muscle and joint injuries.
Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapy assessment and treatment for pelvic floor problems and antenatal and postnatal conditions.
A specialist Postnatal Assessment called a Mummy MOT which is a thorough postnatal assessment of your abdominal muscles, pelvic floor muscles, posture and breathing. You are then given a personalised exercise programme to help you reach your exercise goals and functional needs.

Sam provides: 

Specialist assessment of injuries.
Level 5 Sports massage.
A pathway and management plan for recovery and rehab, including personalised exercise programmes.
‘We have a gym rehabilitation area in our clinic in Hereford and two separate treatment rooms. So we can provide individual hands on treatment and then provide gym rehabilitation as needed to overcome injury and get back to the level of activity and function people want to get to.’ – Leila Holmes, Co-Founder of Unite Rehab.
To find out more go to
And check out useful tips and tricks on their Instagram’s
Do you have an amazing business that we need to feature? Get in touch today felicity@start.biz

Registered Design FAQ’s

WHAT CAN BE A REGISTERED DESIGN? 

A registered design can be the particular look, shape, configuration or ornamentation of a product(s).

DO I NEED TO REGISTERED DESIGN? 

This depends on if you have something unique that you would like to protect. A registered design may become essential to your business in the future and save a lot of headaches down the road. If you are unsure regarding anything to do with registered designs our expert team with over 30 years’ brand protection experience are on hand to advise. Call us on 0800 069 9090 or drop us an email to mitch@start.biz to find out more.

ARE ALL REGISTERED DESIGNS REGISTERABLE? 

No, a registered design will not be accepted if it is not distinctive enough. We will advise in our report ways in which you can make your design more distinctive and help you with your application.

IS A REGISTERED DESIGN EFFECTIVE WORLDWIDE? 

No, a registered design is only effective in the country where the design is registered. However, there are several International Conventions that exist which assists clients who wish to register a design in more than one country with one single application which are more cost effective than obtaining separate national registrations.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE REGISTERED DESIGN CLEARANCE SEARCHES? 

Registered design novelty searches are particularly important as they are the first step to determining whether the design you wish to use, and register is available to do so. We strongly recommend that, to avoid any potential conflict between your proposed design and any existing confusingly similar designs, that you instruct us to carry out a comprehensive registered design search on your behalf.

CAN I AMEND MY REGISTERED DESIGN AFTER SUBMISSION? 

No, once an application has been submitted it cannot be altered except for the owner’s name and address. It is important your application is as accurate as possible.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A DESIGN REGISTERED IN THE UK? 

The initial registration process takes around 2-3 months to complete.

HOW LONG DOES A DESIGN REGISTRATION LAST? 

A registered design is renewable every 5 years for a maximum registration period of 25 years.

HOW MUCH DOES A REGISTERED DESIGN COST? 

The application fee is dependent on the number of designs included in one application. For example, it is possible to file a multi-design application in the United Kingdom. A UK design application containing one design costs £300; a UK multi-design application containing up to 10 designs costs £550 and UK multi-design application containing up to 20 designs costs £750.

5 Top Tips for Small Businesses at Christmas Markets

As the nights draw in and we start to swap our chilled Savvie B for toasty mulled wine, small business owners are gearing up for their busiest time of the year. Christmas markets and pop-ups can provide a seasonal cash generating ‘bricks and mortar’ opportunity for many online businesses. Not to mention they are a fantastic way to feel more part of the indie business community, reach new audiences and meet customers face-to-face. Festive pop-ups can be great however they don’t come without their challenges. We sat down with bespoke online jewellery brand owner, Esme Rogers Evans to get her top tips to maximise sales during the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Pick the right market. 

‘I’ve done fantastic pop-ups in central London which were amazing for social media content and PR, but we didn’t see the sales we would have liked,’ Esme explains. ‘Think about whether the market and location is right for your particular product and target audience. Also consider if you’re happy to take a risk for the PR, or if you need to save cash only sign up for the markets you’ll definitely make sales at.’
Many events use marketing buzzwords such as ‘sustainable brands’, ‘independent’ and ‘ethically sourced’ in their promotions. This may all be true, but this doesn’t mean it will automatically bring buyers to your fantastic indie business. Do some research and find out who else is going to be there.
Considerations should include:
● Price points – are you similar, way above or way below other brands with a stall?
● Would your customers usually go to this or a similar location?
● How long is the market there for, how well known is it and what reputation does it have?

2. Cash isn’t king. 

Have some sort of digital payment system set up, especially if you have higher ticket items. Esme recommends Sum Up as it is easy to pair with your phone, straightforward to use and cost effective. If your items are priced at the lower end of the spectrum it may be worth simplifying or rounding up your prices to limit the amount of change, you’ll need to take with you.
It is also worth noting here that you may want to take a portable phone charger with you. You won’t always be positioned near a power point. In the quieter moments of the market, it’s a great time to catch up on emails or make content, both will drain your phone’s battery and might leave you in a pickle during the busier times.

3. Presentation. 

‘Don’t spend lots of money on plinths or fancy display units when you’re just starting out,’ advises Esmé, ‘I recently invested in some lighting for my stalls, the reflection highlights the jewellery beautifully and the glow from the table draws people in’.
It’s essential to do a test run of how you will set your stall up. Think about creative (and inexpensive) ways to display your products. Lighting is a fantastic and simple way to make you stand out. Remember about your plug sockets though and consider using battery powered lights.

4. Parking. 

‘If your event is relatively close, I would always advise doing a parking reccy beforehand’, says Esmé. Many locations won’t have parking directly outside so consider how to transport your goods to the venue once you get there as well.

5. Creature comforts. 

Markets can be long days, they can also be outside, and we all know how reliable the Great British weather is, especially in winter.
‘My top tip is to take cardboard to stand on. It may sound silly, but when you’re outside all day on your feet it can be kinder on your soles, and it gives you that little bit of extra insulation from the cold floor which will provide much needed warmth’.
Other top tips for the day from Esmé include:
● Take your favourite warm drink in a flask for the colder hours at the end of the day.
● Stay hydrated with water but don’t drink too much. You don’t want to miss customers because of frequent bathroom trips.
● Wear layers.
● Make friends! Talk to your fellow stall holders, this can be an informal way to build new connections and you can have someone look after your stall whilst you pop to the loo.
● Have a fold down chair.
● Take a craft with you. If you can make your product on the stall, that’s fantastic. Alternatively if this doesn’t apply, take a hobby project with you. It will keep you occupied during the quieter moments and will showcase how amazingly creative you are!
● And if you use interesting tools when making your work, consider displaying them alongside your products in an interesting way. People want to know how things are made and it’s a fantastic way of sparking a conversation that isn’t directly about selling your products.
Find out more about Duxford Studios here and follow them here.
Want to see Duxford Studios in real life? Catch them this Christmas at:
Cardiff Indie Collective’s Christmas Market at Big Moose Café, Cardiff on the 2nd December. For more info, head to their site here or visit their Instagram @cardiffindiecollective.
Seekd Christmas Pop Up at One New Change, London, EC4M 9AF from the 6th December – 24th December. Seekd is the marketplace for unique, chic, eco-friendly jewellery & accessories that give back to people and the planet. Visit their website here and follow them on Instagram @seekdfashion

Accountancy for Small Business

Accountancy is referred to as the language of business, similarly when learning a new language you can feel overwhelmed or completely lost at the beginning. In this article we will go through the 4 cornerstones of accountancy, with examples, so you can start to get to grips with the basics.

What is accounting? 

Accounting is the recording, reporting, interpreting and analysis of everything that happens within your business linked to financial matters. These are the 4 cornerstones of accounting. It is important you have your books in order from day one as it can be a headache to go back and opportunities to save your business money may get missed.

Record all transactions 

There are 5 different types of transactions your business can make; it is important all of these are recorded to give you a clear picture of the finances of your business.
Revenue / sales – all money coming into the business from selling your products and/or services.
Expenses – any money you are spending to run your business.
Assets – this measures –
the future value of equipment or premise you own to produce your product or carry out your service,
monies owed to you from customers
cash held in your bank (assuming this is in the black)
Liabilities – any debts of the business, including loans, financing etc.
Equity – this represents the money the owners would be left with if all assets & liabilities were sold & settled.
Once you’ve set up your business account with your selected bank sync it with your bookkeeping system to keep the recording of all the above as efficient and easy as possible.

Reports about your business 

There are many different types of reports you can run depending on the information you need. Many of them have specific names, your accountant should be running these so you can ask to have a look or you can run them yourself using your bookkeeping software. Here are some common ones to know.
Income Statement/Profit and Loss Account (P&L) – this shows you whether your business is growing or slowing. Most businesses typically produce a P&L on a monthly basis to track performance in the prior month. This report gives business owners a sense check on the underlying trajectory of the business and whether there is a need to review costs or invest further to drive growth.
Balance Sheet – this is laid out in a ‘T’ shape and is called a balance sheet because it should balance on each side, like a pair of scales, to account for all the transactions in and out of the business. These can be produced either at the end of the financial year or at the end of every month to keep a closer eye on your finances.
Cash Flow Statement – this is a vital report you should have access to as bad cash flow is where most new businesses trip up. This gives you a much better idea of what is really going on in your business and how much cash you are owed and have available right now. This can help you make important decisions about expenditure for growth. Remember – “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is King!”
In the event you are trying to raise money to grow your business, acquire or even sell, you will in all likelihood need at least 12 months’ worth of financial reports in support.

Interpreting & Analysing 

We have put these two together, they are not the same thing but do go hand-in-hand. Going back to our analogy of learning a new language, interpretation is vital, there will be nuisances and different ways of classifying the data so it can be interpreted differently. Be very clear about what you want to know and communicate this with your accountant or know the correct report to run to find out. Once this is done you can analyse the data factoring in your growth plans to see if they’re achievable. You can use accounting formula’s to determine results, here some examples.
Net Profit Margin = (Revenue – Cost) / Revenue. You can use this cleverly to see if you can afford a loss-leader to get customers through the door. For example, can margins be made up other places to keep prices low on eye-grabbing products that are coveted.
Return on advertising spend = current advertising cost / revenue. This isn’t always this simple however it gives you a figure to work with.
How liquid the company is = current assets / current liabilities. Again, this a simplistic equation however it’s a good base figure to start with.
Getting an accountant early on, even though it may feel like an unnecessary expense, is essential and well worth the money. There are different kinds of accountants out there, if you are a numerically literate person that feels confident doing accounts you may just want one to check over everything and file for you, cheaper packages can be found to just cover the basics. There are lots of cloud-based software packages that are compatible on your mobile as well as your desktop and allow you to check your accounts in real-time and record specific transactions when you are out and about to save time.

Do I need Insurance for my Small Business?

You are legally required to take out Employer’s Liability (EL) insurance if you employee anyone, even on a casual basis. This is the only insurance that is illegal required to operate your business with in the UK. Some contractors will request you have EL insurance, ensure this is clarified in the contract between you before starting to work with them. If you have employees and operate without EL insurance you could receive a fine of up to £2,500 per day.

What is Employer’s Liability insurance? 

This is to cover you and the business if an employee becomes injured or dies whilst carrying out their duties at work.

How much does Employer’s Liability insurance cost? 

Your premiums will depend on the type of business and how many employees you have. For example, an office worker could be as low as £60 per annum whereas an employee working in construction could be just over £200. The average to cost to a small or medium sized business in the UK is about £120 per year.

Will my Employer’s Liability insurance pay out? 

You should read the whole contract through first and if you are unsure about anything ask the service provider or have a lawyer look over it. The main sections to focus on are ‘Insuring Clauses’ and ‘Exclusions’, this can help you clarify what is covered and therefore more likely to result in a pay-out.

Other types of insurance include… 

How much does it cost to add business use to my car insurance? 

If you are going to be using your own vehicle to carry out business activities you may want to add business use to ensure you’re fully covered. Premiums usually only go up by about £30.

What is Professional Indemnity insurance? 

This covers you if a client incurs a financial loss from your actions. This could include if you made a mistake or accidentally omitted something during your dealings with the company. The burden of proof lies with them but if a client does decide to take action against you, a case could be costly and time consuming, not to mention stressful. This insurance applies to many different types of businesses from consultant firms to graphic designers so even if at first you think this might not apply to you, it would be worth getting quotes.

Should I get Professional Indemnity insurance? 

This insurance is not a legal requirement in the UK but we would recommend considering taking out a policy if you feel this situation may occur in your line of work.

What is Public Liability insurance? 

Public Liability insurance covers you against customers and members of the public making claims if they become injured whilst at your business or as a result of your or your employees’ actions whilst carrying out their duties.

Should I get Public Liability insurance? 

If you regularly come in to contact with the public, we would advise considering this type of insurance.

How much does Public Liability insurance cost? 

The average cost of Public Liability for a UK company is about £120 per year however small businesses and sole traders can pay as little as £40 per annum.
There are many different types of insurance out there and we have only covered the three main ones for general business. If you work in a niche industry or with a specialised product/machinery having tailored insurance would be advisable. Always get several quotes to compare, carefully read your policies to ensure you are covered correctly and if in doubt ask a lawyer to look the contract over.

The 5 Essentials of Branding your Small Business

Branding is not reserved for the international conglomerates of this world, it is just as important for smaller businesses to build a unique brand. It can be an essential tool in developing trust with an audience and it can lead to an deep affinity and loyalty from your customer base. Not to mention it can be really fun too! We’ve also included a free brand guideline template here to make creating your brand a breeze.

1. What is a brand and how does it apply to my business? 

A brand is about who you are and the direction you want your company to take. To identify what your core values are think about the below questions, not only will this inform your brand identity it will keep you focused on your goals.
Why did you start your business? This is your mission statement, the why behind your business can get lost in the day-to-day so it’s good to have this written somewhere you can see it often.
What is the USP (unique selling point) / POD (point of difference) of your company? What you’re doing has probably been done before however what makes you stand out? It could be your service, it could be your style caters to a particular audience, it could be you! Whatever it is – identify it and stay true to it.
Who is your ideal customer? This will help give direction to your product ranges, inspire you to find ways to improve your products/services and help you understand the nuts and bolts of your business e.g. price point, location, availability etc.
What branding do you like? Look at companies, competitors, personal inspiration sources and/or social media accounts you like. Marry this with your product/service and you will have the aesthetic of your brand. This point may also help you identify your POD.
What is the businesses tone of voice? This may sound a little out there but it’s designed to get you thinking about your business as a separate, objective entity. It makes writing promotional copy, social media posts and newsletters easier as well. Creating a company vernacular helps build recognition with your community and adds to your brands distinctive identity.

2. How do I create my brand? 

Branding is your logo however it is, or should I say it can be, so much more than that. Branding evokes an emotional reaction in your customer, it can turn people from total strangers into your biggest fans. In a saturated market it can be the difference between someone choosing you or a competitor. This is why it is important to spend some time developing your brand and really thinking about how you want people to feel when they see it. Using your answers from question 1 write down a few words, aesthetic choices, colours, icons, motifs and key elements that define your business to create a brief to design your branding from.

3. How do I brand on a budget? 

Once you have your brand brief you will need to decide who will realise it for you. There are a few factors to consider including; your budget, your personal design abilities, your timeframe and what your physical brand needs are. Don’t forget you can use a combination of the below.
DIY! If you feel comfortable using design software such as Photoshop or Illustrator, have the time and the inclination to create your own branding, this can be the best way to go. You can get exactly what you want and save money.
Budding designers – finding a design student, a friend with creative flair or someone that does design in their spare time can be a great option to keep costs low and get quick results. Always pay students and be clear about requirements and budgets from the outset to ensure it’s a win-win situation.
Freelancers – sites such as Fiverr, UpWork, peopleperhour and LinkedIn are amazing resources to find design freelancers. Trusted recommendations, transparent budgets and clear briefs are essential to this process, don’t forget to ask to see portfolios or past examples of work to find a good fit.
Small design agencies – if you have a little more budget consider using a local design agency. You will be able to meet with the people designing your brand, have a guiding hand through the process and (usually) end up with a solid, professional looking brand that fulfils your requirements and allows you to hit the ground running.

4. What does my company need to brand? 

The below list is not exhaustive but it’s a good start when thinking about what you can brand. Include each point that applies to your business in your brief to inform the design process.
Logo – this can include your name but it’s good to have a visual element to it that can be used by itself. This can be turned into a sticker or stamp without your name and people will still associate it with you.
Typography – keep this modern, include clever design elements and show your personality but remember to keep it legible and clear.
Packaging – this doesn’t have to be a bespoke design, you can buy generic and add a stamp or sticker to personalise it (see logo above). Other considerations for packaging should include environmental impact, ensuring the product arrives in it’s best condition if posted and personal touches like printed tissue paper, confetti and even sweets can give you that ‘unboxing video’ wow factor.
Label – adding a branded label to your product can help your customer remember you and enable them to recommend you to others. This will also add a polished finish to your products.
Merchandise – your main business may be a food vendor for example but if your brand is aesthetically pleasing enough and your customers become fanatical about your product, you can translate your branding onto all manner of commodities. This could come in as a handy extra bit of cash as well. If this isn’t the main part of your business, creating small batches using pre-orders promoted through your website or social media ensure you don’t end up with dead stock.
Stationary – for example branded letter heads will reassure your customers about your level of professionalism.
Equipment / vehicles – large vinyl stickers are easily produced and can be added to your companies assets. This provides advertising and adds a level of professionalism to your service.

5. What are and what should be included in brand guidelines? 

Brand guidelines are a visual summary of your brand. It can be an A4 sheet or two depicting your branding foundations setting a clear tone for all communications both written and visual. These are good to have saved down to refer to and use as a resource. Any visuals can be saved in png files to use for advertising, printing, content creation and social media promotion. The list below outlines what you should include to get you started.
Your principle logo – including your business name and logo (if separate) in full colour.
Visual logo – you may decide not to have your name as part of your logo and instead use a purely visual representation for your brand. Example, the tick from Nike.
Mono logo – a black and white version of your logo.
Colour palette – the core colours with pantone references for your brand.
Vertical and horizontal layouts – your logo needs to be versatile. For example, it may have to go at the bottom of a page meaning a horizontal layout would work better. It’s good to have these layouts ready to go so you don’t have to edit in the moment.
Typography – state what fonts you will use. This could include the font of your logo along with one or two fonts that work well visually with your branding.
Tagline – these can be cheesy but if it works for you it’s good to have a short sentence that sums up your business.
Mission statement – the why of your business.
Key words – when thinking of these it’s best to think about how you want the customer to feel about your service and company as a whole. You may also use words from your tone of voice ideas.
Don’ts – if you have any major ‘don’ts’ include them alongside the example of the ‘do’. Any colours, words, or layouts that you would never want are to be included as an annotation.