Category Archives: financial management

Our Management and Business Studies Portal goes live

THE BRITISH LIBRARY HomeThe fruit of many months of labour by my colleague Sally Halper has finally emerged blinking into the bright light of day.

The Management and Business Studies Portal is a joint venture from The British Library and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

We have joined forces to develop a new online service for managers, bringing together the latest management research and business information, alongside the British Library’s vast collections of print and digital material.

Jude England, head of social science collections and research at the British Library, says: “Our joint aim is to develop joined-up information services and content. The partnership with CMI expresses our continued commitment to supporting the government’s vision of building Digital Britain and improving UK productivity.

We have created a video explaining the site on our YouTube channel.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/user/britishlibrary#p/a/f/0/pvkCLCxHjVw]

Whether you’re a University researcher or a busy manager, this Portal will help you find and use high quality management research publications quickly and easily.

  • Download research reports, summaries, briefings, working papers, conference papers and articles from key publishers.
  • You must register (see button above) to see most of the content.
  • Discover the British Library’s vast print and digital collections – in one powerful search
  • Receive alerts about new content that matches your subject interest(s)
  • Watch author interviews and other videos
  • Disseminate and preserve your work
  • Contact us

The introduction of the portal is the second joint venture with CMI this year. The first was the CMI Management Book of the Year awards, which I blogged about last March (Who will win Management Book of Year?).

Fifteen of the UK’s best management authors are now one step closer to winning the coveted title of Management Book of the Year, having made it on to the competition shortlist.

The CMI Management Book of the Year competition, launched by the CMI (Chartered Management Institute) in association with the British Library, aims to uncover the UK’s best books on management and leadership and raise the profile of the great management writing published or distributed in the UK. The shortlisted books are those that, in the opinion of the panel of expert competition judges, will help transform the working practices of managers and help to raise awareness of how management theories and thinking can be better applied in practice.

With £5,000 at stake for the winning author, the shortlisted books, which include John Adair’s Leadership of Muhammad and Richard Donkin’s The Future of Work, will now undergo an intense review process, where expert judges will whittle down the entries to find the UK’s best management text. One winner will be chosen in each of the three categories – ‘Practical Manager’, ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Digital Management Book’ – before the overall winner is picked from the three.

The first competition of its kind, Management Book of the Year was created in response to shocking research that revealed that 85 per cent of employees would rather seek help elsewhere than turn to their managers when they need guidance at work. Despite this, just five per cent of these people are turning to management books when they have work issues, suggesting that managers are struggling to find useful, practical texts.

The research also revealed that surprisingly, when it comes to topic choice, more people would like to read about how to achieve a good work/life balance (40 per cent) than how to get a pay rise (30 per cent). In addition, 31 per cent are interested in advice on how to manage people, while just 19 per cent would like tips on securing a promotion.

The winning book will be announced on 25 January 2011.

The books that have made it onto the shortlist are as follows:

  • Practical Manager category:
  • Leadership of Muhammad by John Adair
  • ReWork: change the way you work forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  • Managing by Henry Mintzberg
  • The Intuitive Mind by Eugene Sadler-Smith
  • The World’s Business Cultures and how to unlock them by Barry Tomalin and Mike Nicks
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship category:
  • Glimmer: How design can transform your business by Warren Berger
  • Brilliant Business Creativity by Richard Hall
  • Evolution:  How to thrive in crazy times by Bill Lucas
  • Supercorp by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • Design-Driven Innovation by Roberto Verganti
  • Digital Management Book category:
  • The Future of Work by Richard Donkin
  • The Leadership Illusion by T. Hall and K. Janman
  • Fast Track to Success:  project management ebook by Patrick Harper-Smith
  • How to lead by Jo Owen
  • Meet the new boss by Philip Whiteley
  • FAQs when considering the correct legal form for your business

    Legal Clarity Logo I have previously blogged on how to Get Legal Clarity on what type of company you should form, and now James Quinn has kindly sent in a list of ten frequently asked questions (FAQs), when customers are setting up in business.

    FAQs when considering the correct legal form for your business:

    1.    Do I need to register a sole trader business and its name?
    No, if you decide to establish as a sole trader then there is no requirement to register your business to bring it into existence, just start trading (the equivalent for companies is registration at Companies House).  However, you must inform HM Revenue & Customs of your self-employed status (information on the pros and cons of setting-up as a sole trader).

    2.    How much does it cost?
    The legal expenses involved in setting up a company are great – the cost of forming a standard limited company is low and the ongoing compliance costs are usually negligible.  The single largest expense of operating a company is accountants fees – companies are required to file accounts annually with Companies House.  Although technically you could prepare these accounts yourself, it would be inadvisable.

    3.    Can I use my home address as the registered office of my company?
    Yes, although this means that your home address will appear on the public register.

    4.    Do I need more than one person to form a company?
    No, you only need one person. Private limited companies can be formed with one director and one shareholder (who can be the same person).

    5.    Will running my business as a sole trader gives me more flexibility?
    Whilst it may be true that operating as a sole trader allows you to run your business more informally, that does not always equate to flexibility.  For example, operating as a company certainly allows you a great deal more flexibility when it comes to seeking investment or on the sale of your business.

    6.   Does a company require a secretary?
    No, since 8 April 2008 private limited companies no longer require a secretary (unless, exceptionally, their Articles of Association state otherwise).

    7.    Do directors and shareholders have the same role?
    This is not the case.  Directors are responsible for the ‘day to day’ running of the company; and shareholders ‘own’ the company and are primarily involved in major decisions concerning the company’s structure and constitution.  The directors and shareholders in smaller companies are often the same people, but it is important to remember that they have different roles and responsibilities depending on whether they are acting as a director or shareholder in relation to a particular decision.

    8.    Is there a lot of paperwork associated with a company?
    There is some additional paperwork compared to a sole trader business, such as filing an annual return and accounts (although all businesses should keep accounting records in any event).  A company also has to keep Company Registers of shareholders, directors, directors residential addresses, secretaries (if you have one) and charges but these are usually provided on formation and only require updating if there is a relevant change – for example if a director resigns.

    9.    Do I need a Shareholders’ Agreement?
    No, you are not legally obliged to enter into a shareholders’ agreement when forming a company.  However many businesses with more than one shareholder choose to do so in order to protect their investment in the company and to help resolve any disputes which may arise (Legal Clarity have published a free guide on shareholders agreements).

    10.    Do I have to publicly disclose each director’s residential address?
    No, since October 2009 directors, shareholders and other officers of the company may provide a ‘service address’ for the public register in place of their residential address.

    You can get additional guidance from the Legal Clarity website:
    What type of company?
    A gentle introduction to private limited companies
    Obligations after formation

    Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs – Supporting Small Businesses

    On Tuesday I was invited to an HMRC partner conference and networking event at 100 Whitehall. The meeting actually took place in the Churchill room so was redolent of history.

    The objective of the afternoon was to see how HMRC can work with partners to improve support for their SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers.

    The obvious question was why would they take this approach, and they were impressively frank and honest with their answers. It starts with their vision; “our customers will feel that the tax system is simple for them and even handed’.

    Our Way
    –    We will understand our customers and their needs
    –    We will make it easy for customers to get things right
    –    We are passionate in helping those who need it

    I love the way they refer to tax payers as customers, and am amazed that they put in writing that they are passionate about helping them. This is not the kind of language one expects from a civil service department, and especially not the tax office. I suppose the real test is whether their customers see it the same way.

    SME’s are a key customer group for HMRC. There are 4.8 million SME’ in the UK and they account for over 99% of all businesses in the country. They make up  over 50% of business turnover and employ some 14 million people. They collect or contribute over 40% of tax receipts.

    The bottom line is that £6bn is lost from the Exchequer each year because of failure to take proper care in record-keeping. SME’s make up the bulk of that ‘tax gap’, but are often scared of, or unwilling to contact HMRC directly to address tax problems.  Whereas they are much more willing to talk to others such as the partners invited to the meeting. These ranged from business advisors, to professional bodies (such as the Federation of Master Builders), to accountants and even trade retailers such as Screwfix.

    Stephen Banyard, HMRC’s Director of the Business Support Unit gave some fascinating information on the scale of their challenge:
    – For instance £1.6 billion pounds of tax income is lost due to mistakes made by business.
    – This despite the fact that HMRC receive 10 million phone calls a year from their customers.
    – Seventy percent of companies use a tax agent to avoid dealing with the forms themselves.
    The Tax deferral scheme introduced to help businesses make it through the recession has helped more than 242,000 companies, totalling nearly £4.23 billion.
    – All tax related information will be moved onto the Business Link website,  but will allow content to be mashed-up on partners websites.

    The key problem that HMRC face is the lack of record keeping from tax payers. To help address this they have partnered with Staples officer supplier. They have  produced jointly branded marketing materials which are displayed in Staples stores and on their website.

    They are even sponsoring a Channel Five TV show starting on 10 March this year. The Business Inspector will be a troubleshooting series aiming to transform failing small companies, with the intention of to encourage good-record keeping.

    Keeping records (pdf 57KB) Brings together the main record keeing guidance for easy reference by our customers and provides opportunity to mention the new penalties that maybe applicable.

    Self-employed and partnerships

    Form or record
    A record of all sales and takings, including cash receipts. For example • till rolls • sales invoices • bank statements • paying-in slips • accounting records.
    A record of all purchases and expenses, including cash purchases. For example: • receipts • purchase invoices • bank and credit card statements • cheque book stubs • accounting records.

    Why
    Allows you to quickly see what you are owed and accurately work out your total income. Allows you to quickly see what you have spent, how much you owe and what you can claim for tax purposes.

    Further information
    Self-employed: go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa/ rec-keep-self-emp.htm Partnerships: go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa/ rec-keep-part-partners.htm Phone Self Assessment Helpline 0845 900 0444

    Karan Bilimoria and the story of Cobra Beer

    Cobra_Beer_bottleAnother late night for me last Thursday night. This time to attend the Chartered Management Institute 2009 Sir Kenneth Cork lecture. It was organised by my friend Chris Seow from the University of East London who is the current chair of the City of London Branch of the CMI.

    I have to admit I was reluctant to spend another evening in London and went along to support Chris. However, I am glad I made the effort as the talk by Karan Billimoria was absolutely fascinating.

    Even while waiting for Lord Bilimoria to start I heard an amazing story from Darren Way the founder of Streets of Growth.

    Streets of Growth is a dynamic community leadership organisation founded in 2001 and led by local people in Bromley by Bow East London. Committed community adult and young people work together to offer real solutions and practical approaches to tackling the issues that people face in their local community and so develop sustainable and healthier communities in the East End.

    karan-bilimoriaAlthough I had not been following the Cobra beer story closely, I was aware (along with everyone else in the audience) that they had gone bust in May of this year and had been rescued by the giant Canadian brewery firm Molson Coors.

    I was wondering if Lord Bilimoria would mention what seemed to be an unfortunate end to what had been an amazing success story up till that time. His first slide gave an indication that he would not be skirting around the painful aspects of his fascinating twenty year story to bring a new beer brand into mass consumption. The title of the slide was ‘Adapt or Die’. He immediately began to explain how quickly the
    credit crunch had impacted high growth business such as his, who were dependent on external finance for expansion. As he pointed out, prior to the crash, cash had been king, but then it became an emperor.

    Fortunately, he then went back to the beginning of his story, and spent an hour giving an absolutely riveting speech which concluded with the painful details of the collapse and eventual revival of the business.

    As with so many entrepreneurs Lord Bilimoria went against his parents wishes with his plans to start his own business. Although his father as head of the 350,000 strong Indian Army did not want Karan to follow him into the military, he felt a career in the City of London would be a more appropriate use of his Cambridge University education. He was told ‘you should get a real job like a banker’.

    But, he had developed a love for beer and recognised there was a significant gap in the market between traditional British bitter beer, and the sharp and gassy lager beers available at that time. There was nothing that was a suitable accompaniment to curry meals in Indian restaurants.

    The second slide of the talk consisted of just three words, ‘Aspiration, Inspiration, Perspiration’. He reinforced my experience of dealings with entrepreneurs that the business idea is the easy part. Bringing it to production and then to the market is the hard bit, and may take many years.

    Lord Bilimoria went to give many instances when his business nearly died. Often from causes which could never have been predicted. For example, a one year boycott of his product by Indian restaurants (his primary customers), after an article criticising the professionalism of the restaurant owners in a trade magazine which Karan had founded, but no longer had links to. In each of these ‘near-death’ experiences it was always flexibility and a creative approach that led to a solution.

    It was good to hear his quite confidence about the new opportunities the partnership with Molson Coors would lead to. He said they were moving from a David vs Goliath situation to one where David and Goliath were working together. He had been impressed by the family culture that was still present despite the global size of the company, and how they had been true to their initial agreement despite the financial turmoil of the period when Cobra was forced into a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

    He concluded by listing the Molson Coors definition of what makes a remarkable brand:
    1.    A compelling story
    2.    Refusing to compromise
    3.    An instantly recognisable look
    4.    A unique, relevant and consistent product
    5.    To inspire brand champions from customers
    6.    To deliver enduring profits

    Get Legal Clarity on what type of company you should form

    Legal Clarity Logo I am often asked what type of company an entrepreneur should form. As with so many of these topics, the answer is, it all depends. So it is great to see the good folk at Legal Clarity (who aim to ease the burden of legal and regulatory obligations) has produced a nice clear guide to the options which I have copied below.

    1. Standard Limited Company

      The overwhelming majority of companies registered at Companies House are standard limited companies (more formally known as private companies limited by shares).

      If you are forming a company with a view to making a profit then a standard limited company is probably appropriate for your needs. We would recommend that you do not form a Company Limited by Guarantee or a Public Limited Company unless you have a specific reason for doing so.

      Features of a standard limited company:

        1. Benefits from Limited Liability.
        2. Suitable for most commercial purposes.
        3. It only requires one person to form this type of company.
        4. Does not require a Company Secretary.
        5. Is not obliged to have its accounts audited by an accountant if it is a small company.
        6. Can be converted into a Public Limited Company at a later date.
        • Company Limited by Guarantee

          This type of company is suitable for non-profit making organisations such as voluntary groups, sports clubs, political organisations, and for one off or recurring events such as non-profit festivals and fairs. Companies limited by guarantee formed through Legal Clarity are not Charities, and are therefore not subject to the additional regulatory requirements imposed on Charities.

          The members of companies limited by guarantee (the equivalent of shareholders of a normal company) are not permitted to extract money from the company, even if the company has surplus funds.

          Features of a company limited by guarantee:

            1. Benefits from Limited Liability (each members’ liability is normally capped at £1).
            2. No initial investment is required for this type of company.
            3. This company can only carry out activities to meet objects specified on forming the company (for example ‘to provide a sports club for the local community’).
            4. This type of company does not issue shares or have shareholders.
            5. It only requires one person to form this type of company.
            6. Does not require a Company Secretary.
            7. Is not obliged to have its accounts audited by an accountant if it is a small company.
            8. You CANNOT convert this type of company into a Public Limited Company.
            • Public Limited Company (PLC)

              It is rare for a company to start its life as a Public Limited Company. PLCs are normally formed by converting an established standard limited company into a PLC.

              A key feature of PLCs is their ability to offer their shares to the public (if certain conditions are met). Standard Limited Companies cannot do this.

              PLCs are subject to more onerous regulation than standard limited companies. They are typically larger and longer established than standard limited companies.

              Businesses sometimes become PLCs for the prestige of identifying themselves with larger and longer established companies; these companies are referred to as ‘vanity PLCs’.

              Features of PLCs:

                1. Benefits from Limited Liability
                2. Requires at least two directors.
                3. Requires a company secretary, with specific qualifications.
                4. Requires a minimum initial investment of £12,500 with an obligation to pay a further £47,500 at a later date.
                5. Requires a Trading Certificate confirming the above initial investment before the company is permitted to trade.
                6. Shares may be offered to the general public for sale (if certain conditions are met).
                7. PLCs are subject to more onerous accounting obligations. Including a mandatory annual audit.

                Other types of business structure:

                1. Sole Trader

                  A sole trader is not a type of company, but rather an individual who trades on their own behalf.

                  Sole traders are not required to register with Companies House. In order for an individual to set-up as a sole trader they simply need to start trading or carrying on business activities.

                  Sole traders are obliged to register as self-employed with HM Revenue & Customs within three months of starting to trade.

                  The most important point to note is that, unlike the shareholders of limited companies, sole traders do not benefit from the protection of limited liability in relation to their business. Sole traders are personally liable for all of the debts of their business without limit, which means that their personal assets are at risk.

                  For further information about the positives and negatives of operating as a sole trader as opposed to a limited company visit our sole trader page.

                The description of the above types of company only applies to companies formed by Legal Clarity. Companies formed by other organisations are likely to have different features.

                For further guidance please read our About Companies page.

                Inspiring Entrepreneurs – Surviving and thriving: controlling costs to boost your business

                Another inspiring Inspiring Entrepreneurs event this evening with the title of Surviving and Thriving: Controlling costs to boost your business. You can catch the webcast of the event once it is posted up on our website.

                Doug Richards the former BBC Dragon and founder of the School for Startups started by saying he wouldn’t be able to keep to his script. He had some great stories and a few gems such as, ‘if you are small, you will die if one customer doesn’t pay your bills’.

                In other words the micro immediate level is the key, not what is happening to the economy at the macro level.

                Forget convential wisdom, sales are marketing are the key – not cash flow. With sales – take the order, whatever it is! Don’t start a business with Kent Richards…(Doug’s brother, who he started his first business with).

                Marketing – don’t spend money – Doug has an eight hour training day covering marketing techniques that don’t cost any money.

                Nick WheelerNick Wheeler the founder of Charles Tyrwhitt shirts gave a very entertaining talk. He founded the business at University in 1986, and it took four years to double workforce from one to two. After another fours in they went bust.

                ‘This is the story of how a complete and utter idiot can build up a business.’

                ‘It’s all about having a belief in what you are trying to do. Every day you remind yourself of what you are setting out to do.’

                84% of Charles Tyrwhitt staff say they have fun working for the company.

                Critical Factors for Success:
                The idea – Vision – Focus – Passion – Hard work – Patience

                Compound growth is the key to long term success.

                Heather Gorringe the founder of Wiggly Wigglers started with quote from Winston Churchill, ‘Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm’.

                If you are running a small business you need to be both proactive and reactive. The key thing she is doing to survive the economic downturn is to ‘keep working harder’.

                Johnny Martin is a business finance expert who runs a regular course in the Business & IP Centre on financial management.

                Imagine you are in the Dragon’s Den – how would you answer their questions about your business finances?

                He feels you can’t start too young, and gets his children to use duplicate invoice books in order to receive their pocket money via their PayPal account.

                The second most common reason for businesses failing is poor financial management.

                Documentation can be the undoing of a business. Please check if you have any undocumented agreements.

                You need to know where you are financially.

                Be able to look ahead (at least six to nine months). Don’t go for financial support at the last minute, you won’t get it. Use forecasting techniques.

                Be able to understand the difference between variable costs and fixed costs, and how to calculate your gross profit and gross margin. To survive in these difficult times you need to protect your gross margin (the value you are adding).

                Turnover is vanity, what is important is profit.

                The presentations were followed by a varied set of questions:

                What happens when a business fails?
                The main cause is lack of focus. Manager think they can do anything and fail when they diversify beyond their competencies.

                How should businesses use the web to market the products:
                Google Adwords are the place to start. Find the right company to help you navigate your way for very little money. Big companies are getting ripped off. Doug Richards – Search Engine Optimisation is not rocket science. You can spend a boring weekend learning enough to know what you are doing.

                Heather Gorringe – the web is a bit like your local pub – whether you are there or not people may be talking about you – online is the same – you need to be there to listen and respond to your customers.

                hsbcstartup