business advice

We’re one of the Top 200 Accountants

Posted on April 23rd, by Helen in business advice. Comments Off


On Sunday 10th April the Sunday Times published their first supplement listing the Top 200 Accountants in the UK based on reviews on the independent consumer ratings website We are proud, but not at all surprised, to say that Helen Alexander was featured.

To be included Helen was highly recommended by 10 of her clients. All had rated her services over 4 stars out of 5, which is a fantastic achievement. We’d like to thank all of the clients who took the time to share their positive feedback on

Comments Adam Price, Founder of “At VouchedFor we’re passionate about helping people to find great financial and legal advice. At certain points in life the majority of us would benefit from expert help with complex issues such as pension planning, securing a mortgage or for advice on a legal issue. Listing professionals … Read More »

Is a business partner right for you?

Posted on December 29th, by Helen in business advice. Comments Off

Is a business partner right for you?

Going into business on your own is hard work. Not only do you have to provide the service or product you are selling but you also have to come up with the ideas, market your business and cover all of the admin.
It’s no surprise that businesses with more than one founder get off the ground more quickly. But supposing you and a friend have a cracking idea for a business, what else should you consider?
Before you spend too much time on the more exciting tasks like finding a name or thinking about your marketing there are some practical matters to consider. Each prospective partner should declare:
1. What he/she would like and expect the business to achieve.
2. How and why the business will be successful.
3. What skills he/she brings to the business.
4. How much capital … Read More »

Can my staff buy holiday?

Posted on December 2nd, by Helen in business advice, Payroll, Uncategorized. Comments Off

If a member of your staff asks for extra holiday – what do you say?

Your gut reaction will probably be No!

But if you allow the staff member to BUY holiday from you then it could work to your advantage. In today’s job market it can be expensive and time consuming to find the right people to join your team. Allowing staff to buy more annual leave can help you to retain staff and improve morale.

So what are the benefits to you?

You will save the cost of the salary for the days bought and 13.8% employer’s national insurance on top of that.
You may reduce the number of days absence for family emergencies or sickness.

To make this work you need to make sure that you could apply this to all staff if requested.  A maximum number of days should be agreed to … Read More »

What is the Annual Investment Allowance? (Part 2)

Posted on November 26th, by Helen in business advice, Small business tax. Comments Off

The Annual Investment Allowance enables a business to reduce its tax bill by claiming for the cost of capital equipment in the year it bought the equipment. Up until December 2015 the maximum Annual Investment Allowance is £500,000. But from January 2016 this amount drops to £200,000.

This might seem very straight forward but in fact it is slightly more complicated than that. For a business with an accounting year that is partly in 2015 and partly in 2016 the amount that can be claimed is a proportion of each limit. There are transitional rules that affect how much can be claimed and it all depends on the timing of your purchase. So if you buy a number of pieces of equipment for fairly low costs this may not be a problem. Alternatively you may buy one large piece of machinery … Read More »

Compulsory 5p charge on carrier bags

Posted on September 21st, by Helen in business advice. Comments Off

From 1st October 2015 the government has introduced a compulsory 5p charge on carrier bags in England.

The charge has been in place for some time in Wales with favourable feedback and a reduction in plastic carrier bag use.

But the scheme will only apply to businesses with more than 250 employees so in theory it doesn’t apply to smaller retailers. So a good piece of pragmatic lawmaking here. Compulsory for the big business but choice for the smaller one.

Although not compulsory you may choose to adopt the charge on carrier bags if this fits with your business ethos.

If you choose to adopt the charge on carrier bags make sure you get the VAT right. The 5p charge will be treated as standard rated goods.

Business rates – how much will it cost you?

Posted on January 23rd, by Helen in business advice. Comments Off

Business Rates are a substantial cost for most businesses and there are key changes coming up on 1 April 2015.
• New business rates appeals on or after 1 April 2015 will only be effective from that date. So if you want to appeal your current assessment and backdate it to 1 April 2010 you need to appeal before 1 April.

• 1 April 2015 is also the next revaluation date. The open market valuation at this date will be the valuation used for business rates from 1st April 2017.

• Over the next year the Valuation Office will be sending out “Requests for Information” regarding the rent you pay and your lease terms. Pay careful attention to this as it will directly affect the business rates you pay in the future.

Decisions, decisions – which is best for your profits, gut feeling or data?

Posted on September 26th, by Helen in business advice. Comments Off

Every company wants to make more profits right? And to do that you have to take the right decisions.

Companies that rely heavily on data are far more likely to report significant improvement to profits when making important business decisions, but only one in three managers says his or her company is highly data-driven.

A recent global survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit and PwC has shown that more big decisions are based on gut feeling or the advice of others than are made based on data.

And these are not just occasional decisions, they are happening as frequently as every 3 months.

Although just 32% would describe decision making as data driven, the research has found that companies that use data are three times more likely to report solid improvement than those who don’t.

The main obstacle to making use of data is the … Read More »

Are you paying the National Minimum Wage?

Posted on September 19th, by Helen in business advice, News, Payroll. Comments Off

Look out for changes to the National Minimum Wage from October 1st. The rate for adults rises by just over 3%.

For most employers this will have little effect as employees are paid more or substantially more than the minimum wage. And it seems on the surface, a pretty straight forward calculation – amount paid divided by numbers of hours worked.

But it can catch you out as an employer, particularly when you take on casual employees to achieve a specific task. For example you may agree a fixed amount, say £500 for an employee to lay a patio. You need to make sure that the rate you pay actually covers the average hours it takes to do the job.

Have a think about the way you decide to reward employees and make sure that you have methods in place to check that … Read More »

Would you close for lunch?

Posted on September 3rd, by Helen in business advice. Comments Off

Imagine you are the owner of a shiny, bright new cafe? How would you decide your opening hours? Well you could look at what all of the other cafes do  and follow the trend.

Or you could do what this cafe does and close for lunch!

Yes, you did read that correctly. No, I couldn’t quite believe it either.

Let’s think about this in terms of the costs of the business

Cost of the food

Staff wages

Heating and lighting

Rent, rates and water rates

Other fixed costs like accountancy, food hygiene certificate etc.

By closing for lunch, what does the owner actually save in costs? Well only the staff wages, cost of the food and some light and heat.

If he stayed open then presumably he would have more customers.  It’s a very simple calculation to make. It is worth staying open for longer if the value of your … Read More »

The 2014 budget and more

Posted on April 16th, by Helen in business advice, Business Budgeting, News. Comments Off

The 2014 budget was few weeks ago now and as life moves on you may have forgotten what was in it. So here is our newsletter with a couple of the highlights to remind you.

Plus there’s more so have a read and let us know what you think. With a new tax year now is the time to plan ahead for small businesses, so give me a ring on 01243 788041 if you know a business who would like help with their business finances, or email me at

Millbrookfm Newsletter 2