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Most of us are pleased to wave off 2020 - it's been a tough year to put it mildly. But the start of a New Year is the perfect opportunity to ‘spring clean’ your small business with a few New Year’s resolutions. Here we’ve come up with some ideas.
Your business plan is the roadmap to success. It contains the goals, ethos and strategies behind your business so frankly you know where it’s going.
But many business owners fall into the trap of writing their business plan and never revisiting it. However, like any map, regular updates are required to keep you heading in the right direction. And if there’s one thing 2020 has taught us it’s that things can change fast.
Therefore, now is a good time to look again at your business plan and see if it’s still relevant. Make any changes as required and set a date to revisit it again in future.
With many of us now working remotely, the lines between work and home can become blurred. Try to stick to your old routines as much as possible, and encourage your employees to do the same.
Take regular breaks and get as much exercise away from your desk as possible. It’s also essential to keep the lines of communication open with your staff. Are they happy working from home or are they struggling with anything? Are they managing to stick to their hours and do they have all the equipment they need?
Financially COVID-19 and the restrictions it brings have wrought havoc on businesses across the country. But even if your business hasn’t been hit too hard, it’s still always worth making efficiencies where possible.
A good place to start is with your utility, phone and internet companies. Can you shop around and switch to a better deal?
Also, if your business has downsized during the pandemic, do you still need large, expensive office space? Could you pay cheaper rent elsewhere, or for somewhere smaller? Perhaps with your team working remotely, do you even need an office at all?
Your business’s website is its shop window. Just like with a real bricks and mortar location, it needs maintenance, time and care. After all, you wouldn’t want your store signage to be wrong, or for your shop front to be outdated or inaccurate. So why put up with them in your web content writing?
Start by looking at your existing web content objectively. Does it flow well and draw people in? Is it factually correct? Is there a call to action, and is making a purchase easy? Consider too whether enough relevant SEO keywords have been integrated so that search engines can find you.
Think of your web content writing as your sales pitch to customers and clients. Would you want to make a purchase yourself?
Is there a piece of equipment kicking around that actually makes your business more inefficient? Perhaps it’s a knackered old printer, a clunky laptop or an office chair that’s seen better days.
The New Year is a good time to throw out or sell anything which is frankly slowing you up. Instead, invest in equipment that actually makes your life easier. Even when looking after the pennies, sometimes “making do” just isn't worth the hassle.
Spending on fixed assets as part of an R&D project? Don’t forget you can claim a substantial tax relief known as R&D Capital Allowances.
Adding regular, high quality blogs to your website (and linking to them on your social media pages) is a powerful way of engaging with your audience. It’s the chance to build your brand, stay relevant and grow your business.
Think about topics that are current or relevant to your industry. Promote your products wherever possible and entice people to learn more.
Getting a killer blog up and running doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. Simply keep posts regular, relevant and concise - packed too with good quality SEO.
Again, this is something too many small businesses often overlook. But when was the last time you reviewed your prices? Are you actually charging enough for your services?
Although it might seem like a good idea to undercut your competition at every turn, you may end up actually underselling yourself.
Be brave. Increase your prices where you think it’s warranted - after all, if your customers and clients value you, the chances are they’ll stick around. Just make sure you get the balance right by positioning yourself at a price point that’s competitive but not too low. A large part of this will be down to your target audience so do your research first.
If your company carries out research and development, you may well qualify for R&D Tax Credits. Limited companies that have spent money on new product development or new processes, or on making significant improvements to existing ones - listen up!
The scheme is particularly generous for smaller companies who (usually) claim under the SME branch of the scheme. In this case, as much as 33 pence per £1 of R&D expenditure can be claimed back, regardless of what industry the company is in (we did say it’s generous!)
Average claims are around £55,000 - even for small businesses - which is certainly worthwhile having.
The award is given either as a reduction in a company’s Corporation Tax liability, or as a cash credit if the company has made a loss.
Your company may be eligible if an R&D project aims to tackle a specific technological or scientific uncertainty. This part can be difficult to determine, which is why it's highly recommend you engage the services of an R&D funding consultancy like us at Myriad Associates.
There are also numerous costs that are claimable, including staff wages, certain overheads, materials and software, external worker costs and much more. Again, apportioning them correctly is much more complex than it sounds, which it’s why working with us is so important. Plus of course there’s the technical report.
Find out more about R&D Tax Credits and how to apply on our R&D Tax Credits page. You can also contact us for further advice or to get started on your claim. Don’t forget to look through our other blog articles too.
Whatever your R&D tax or funding query, we’re here to help.