Most small businesses fail because they run out of cash. It caught out a lot of people who couldn’t cope while they waited for covid funding came through. Hopefully we’ll never have to manage a global crisis of that magnitude again but there are many things that might go wrong for individuals. I’ll talk about business continuity planning separately as I just want to consider your bank balance today.
I recommend reading the first half of Profit First by Mike Michalowicz and I think I’ve written about it before. There are some good principles and the remaining chapters just go into more detail
I have a Starling account which comes with savings spaces and I do monthly management accounts on Xero so I try to ensure that I have the following saved:
- VAT per Xero
- Corporation Tax per Xero management accounts (or you can save 19% of your profit)
- 3 months of overheads in case of illness or crisis which can also be used to buffer any large or unexpected bills
- Dividends to pay myself later in the year
- Spare cash to pay into my pension later in the year to minimise my tax
I usually pay my suppliers immediately because, as a small business, it reduces my admin to only deal with each transaction once. You should ensure that you have enough funds to pay your suppliers on or before the due date. A business is insolvent if it can not pay its debts on time.
I also use a Starling account for my personal finances and I use my savings spaces for:
- 3 months of household costs in case of illness or crisis which buys me enough time to sort out alternatives
- Savings to replace my car every three years
- Savings for holidays each year and fun experiences such as watching musicals with my kids
- Income tax due on my dividends and other income not on PAYE.
It’s taken a long time to build up this financial security so don’t worry if you’re not there yet but, if you’d like a hand with making your business run more profitably, please give me a shout.
I’m a Line of Duty fan and one of the things that really impresses me is their evidence packs. It’s like an enhanced audit file where everything they say has supporting documentation.
I only wish that my own business documented everything as well. I’m pretty good at making notes and writing processes but often create a second document rather than updating .
Do you document all your processes for yourself, for new starters, and for possible automation? Do you download all email attachments to a separate document management system? I’d love to get some idea of how everybody keeps their client/customer information and their standard operating procedures.
As a chartered accountant I have to make sure that, if anything happened to me, another qualified accountant could step in and keep Minerva Accountants ticking over using my procedures and notes.
Is your paperwork good enough? Would your business survive without you?
No matter what age you are it is still worth thinking about how you will save for your retirement. And I don’t just mean saving your teeth.
There are 3 main ways that your business can fund your retirement:
1. Increase value of business for sale
If you have a valuable business this can be sold at the point of retirement to fund your new lifestyle. Your business value will increase if it is highly systemised and not dependent on you.
2. Systemise your business for residual income
If your business is highly systemised you can step out of it or just reduce your hours and still have a generous income. Whilst we often coach accountants and business owners who want to sell up, two of them have been so pleased with the process that they have actually decided not to sell yet as the revamped business operates so smoothly and takes less of their time. It’s a bit like doing up your house for sale and then deciding that you like it so much that you won’t move after all.
3. Increase profits to invest elsewhere
Some businesses have limited sale value as they will always be dependent on the expertise of the owner. In this case it makes more sense to increase your profits to invest elsewhere. Your company can pay into a third party pension scheme or SIPP very tax efficiently or you may prefer to take your profits out now, pay the tax and invest in property.
Whichever way you choose to fund or retirement, and whether you use us to help you to improve your business or not, please remember to take care of your teeth.