Taking ‘care’ to help entrepreneurs

In January, we wanted to make good on some new years resolutions and make a difference to entrepreneurs in developing countries.

For the whole of January, we “lent” our subscription revenue to Lend with Care to pass on as loans to entrepreneurs in less privileged countries.

Lend with Care is an innovative microfinance charity; pairing up entrepreneurs in developing countries with people in more fortunate parts of the world, who loan those entrepreneurs money in order for them to transform their lives through business.

To date over 25,000 lenders have made 251,510 loans and lent over £8m to 27,567 entrepreneurs in 11 countries providing 32,976 jobs – that’s a measurable difference!

It was a difficult decision to choose who to donate to on the Lendwithcare site, as we really wanted to choose them all. They all have great stories, and are looking to improve their businesses to help their families and are also trying to improve the environment they live in.

After much thought, we choose four different businesses to lend to:

Bui van Kien

Mr. Kien wants to diversify the sources of income and he chose to rear buffaloes because it is profitable in his region. He applied for a loan, which is to be used to buy a young buffalo.

Bui van Kien

Bui van Kein

 

Bui thi Ninh

Growing rice and rearing 2 buffalo help them to bring 120 USD per month on average.
Mrs. Ninh hopes to expand her breeding business by rearing one more buffalo.

Bui-thi-Ninh

Bui van Kein

 

Ra Siem

To increase their income and make it better Mrs. Ra wants a loan in order to purchase another small plot of land around 1,600 square meters to grow sugarcane.

Ra-Siem

Ra Siem

 

Nguyen van Du

Mr. Du requested a loan to finance the installation of a household biogas plant. The biogas plants accepts mainly animal manure but also other organic waste. Then it converts them into biogas which is then piped into the home and used for cooking, lighting and even heating. This will help reduce electricity cost and save a lot of time spent travelling to collect firewood. Therefore, deforestation will be reduced and the living environment will be much healthier.

Nguyen-van-Du

Bui van Kein

A few days later, we learnt that Nguyen van Du is now fully funded, so he’s on his way to realising his dreams for his business, which without Lendwithcare, he probably wouldn’t have been able to do. We’re looking forward to Bui van Kien, Bui thi Ninh and Ra Siem reaching their funding target too, so that they can get going with their projects.

Lendwithcare, is such a great idea, as it makes a real difference to entrepreneurs in developing countries, and it’s a ‘loan’, so you will get the loan amount back – so please lend any amount you can, to make a real difference today.

Here in the UK, we can help you to check the financial health of the businesses you’re trading with. For less than 50p a day, you’ll be able to see how good or bad a credit risk they are, and what’s most important to many small businesses – when they are likely to pay you. Sign up to CreditHQ so that you can get paid on time, and with that extra cash, please think about lending some to other entrepreneurs in developing countries, to help them improve their lives.

Thank you

May the force be with your small business this week!

star wars

“a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”

The seventh Star Wars film – The Force Awakens is out tomorrow (in case you hadn’t heard!) …

Even the massive franchise that is Star Wars started out small, the original movie took $11 million to make in 1977 (the equivalent of $40 million in today’s money), but made $786 million worldwide at the box office. In contrast, the production budget for the new film is $200 million!

Now, the combined box office revenue of all the Star Wars films is $4.38 billion. Star Wars also holds a Guinness World Records title for the “Most successful film merchandising franchise.”
In 2012, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at USD $30.7 billion, including box-office receipts as well as profits from their video games and DVD sales (source: wikipedia).

So, out of something small, big things can happen

The original Star Wars story was even rejected in its early concept stages, so don’t ever give up testing new ideas and concepts in your small business and refining your product or services – you never know, the force may be with you 🙂

Instead of using the force to credit check your customers, suppliers and any companies that you do business with, use CreditHQ! If Luke’s family had credit checked the Jawas, maybe they would have got a better deal on C3PO & R2D2!

And for your chance to win a kindle fire, a printer and some other small business goodie – check out how to win our CreditHQ Christmas Gift Box!

 

My top 3 favourite small businesses

I like small businesses, and I think it’s important to support them – here are my current top 3 🙂

Fitness on Fire – Hot Yoga

These guys do hot yoga – I was a complete newbie to yoga last year and wanted to find a place where I didn’t have to sign up for a course, and didn’t feel intimidated by super skinny bendy Wendys. Fitness on fire do hot yoga classes for all levels, without having to sign up for a course of lessons. The teachers are amazing, each with a different style, making sure you always feel ok with where you’re at in terms of experience, and most importantly they always make it fun 🙂 The price of a class is one of the best in London, so it’s difficult to ever find an excuse not to go!

Thank you Fitness on Fire.

fitness-on-fire

http://fitnessonfire.co.uk

Too Pure Singles Club

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it can be tricky to think of what to buy for presents. Too Pure solved one of those problems. For those retro enough to own a record player, these guys send you a new band’s album (actual vinyl) through the the post every month. They also give you the download as well, so cater for all ages! It’s a great gift for any music buff and it’s a lovely surprise to get a present through the door every month!

too-pure-singles-club

http://www.toopure.com

Birds of prey centre

Doing something different for a weekend usually makes for a fun time! I bought a voucher from Time Out for half a day ‘Falconry experience’. To be honest I didn’t expect much (particularly as it was a great price), maybe see some birds and watch a display, but I was massively surprised by how much we actually got to do. We held eagles and owls – not just one, but lots! and got to fly them!! We also saw a couple of displays by the professionals. Being that close to the birds and actually holding them was a wonderful experience, so it’s well worth a visit.

eagle-and-me same-and-me

owl-flying me-and-owl

http://www.birdsofpreycentre.co.uk

What’s your favourite small business?

It’s Red Nose Day! – giving to charity is good for your business too!

red-nose-2015

It’s Red Nose Day! Are you doing funny for money today?

The money raised for Red Nose Day is spent by Comic Relief to transform the lives of millions of people, both at home in the UK and across Africa, funding fantastic projects that really do change people’s lives. So, donating or sponsoring someone will make you feel that you’ve made a bit of a difference, but on top of that, there are benefits for your small business when you give to charity.

Giving a donation or sponsoring a team

If you make a donation and don’t receive anything in return (apart from a good feeling!), then this is classed as a straightforward donation. It can also help build a positive image for your business too. If your company donates (it has to be a donation from the company rather than from a sole trader or partnership), you can deduct the value of your donation from your company’s total profits when you calculate your Corporation Tax. For how to claim, visit the HMRC website.

So set up a team fundraising page, and start donating!

Giving shares, property or land 

You can’t give shares in your own company to a charity, but you can give ‘recognised shares’ in other companies, land and property as a gift. You can claim corporation tax relief for such gifts, and you can claim relief if the gift is sold to the charity for less than the market value. For more information on how to give, and how to claim tax relief visit HMRC.

Giving equipment or stock

Giving equipment or stock are both considered as ‘gifts in kind’ and you can get tax relief. Company equipment, such as office furniture, computers, printers, cars/vans, tools and machinery all count, but they have to have been used in ‘your normal business activities’ to qualify.

If you donate goods that your business makes or sells – your ‘trading stock’ – to a charity, then you can claim the cost of these goods in your business accounts, reducing your business’s taxable profits by the full cost of the goods. For more information, go to HMRC

You could consider becoming a partner – for more information visit http://www.rednoseday.com/partners

Payroll Giving

Setting up a Payroll giving scheme is a great way to help a charity. Payroll giving enables your employees to give to their chosen charity directly from their gross salary, before the tax is deducted, making the donation worth more to the charity. It also allows charities to budget ahead, providing them with regular, reliable income.

The costs of setting up a scheme and the small ongoing costs of running a scheme are deductible for tax purposes and help support corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes too. For more information, visit the Payroll Giving Centre and HMRC, for how to set everything up.

Giving is good!

So giving is good – not just for the charity, but for your business too…. So do something funny for money and support Red Nose Day 🙂

(For more information on what you can and can’t claim, and how to claim any tax benefits, then visit the HMRC and The Institute of Fundraising.)

Running a small business isn’t easy. It’s rough out there. Enter CreditHQ: helping small businesses get paid, grow and thrive.

Groundhog Day: Is it time to spring-clean your business finances?

groundhog-day-6am https://ormsbystreet.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/igyb.mp3

Groundhog Day, which is celebrated today (2nd February), predicts the onset of Spring. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its burrow today, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, then the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

Whatever the groundhogs think, it’s always a good time to get your finances in order.

In the 1993 movie ‘Groundhog Day’, Bill Murray’s character is forced to relive the day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness and become a better person.

Become a better business and start your Spring clean now, by doing the following five things:

groundhog

1. Credit check your customers – remember it’s your money which is at risk while you wait for the customer to pay. Check their creditworthiness and how likely they are to stay in business, for free at CreditHQ.

2. Plan ahead – forecast your cash flow by looking at how quickly your existing customers pay you, and for new customers, use CreditHQ (it’s free!) to check when you are likely to get paid.

3. Chase your invoices and collect your debts – got any money outstanding? Send reminders or contact us for a letter before action template, if reminders aren’t getting you anywhere.

4. Tax entitlement – before you submit your accounts, ensure you have claimed everything you are entitled too.

5. Review your business costs:

Insurance – when is it due, how much is your yearly premium? Auto-renewing isn’t always the cheapest option, so check out some comparison sites to see if you can get a better deal.

Phones – look at how many minutes on average you use and what else you get with your package. A quick look on the internet will give you an idea of the best offering for you.
If you work from home, it can be easy to just use the house phone and forget to expense these as business calls. Look at getting a dedicated business line or a separate mobile account.

Broadband – shop around, you might be able to pay less for faster broadband.
If you use your personal broadband for business uses, you may find a business account is better.

Utilities – like at home, business often stay with the same supplier for gas and electricity, because it’s easier. It may not be cheaper though, so look into switching.

Postage – right now a 1st class stamp costs 62p. So the cost of sending out invoices by post adds up. Sending invoices by email is definitely cheaper, so save them as a pdf and attach them – or better still, your accounting software will probably do all this for you.
If your business involves posting or shipping, then shop around for the best courier, here’s an article which may help http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/cheap-parcel-delivery

Software – review how much your paying for all your software packages, things change so fast in technology, so there may be better, cheaper options out there. Start comparing!

Bank charges – how much are you paying in bank charges and what are you paying for? Do you have an overdraft or loan? Speak to your bank and other banks to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Remember to examine your statements for any mystery charges, or things that you no longer use.


groundhog-peeping

 

 

Whether it’s cloudy or not today, it’s always a good time to get your finances in order, and according to many reports, the groundhogs only get it right 37% of the time anyway!

Use CreditHQ to help you.

CreditHQ’s top 5 blog posts of 2014

With the end of 2014 fast approaching, it’s time for another top list! here’s a round-up of some of the most popular posts written by the CreditHQ team this year, in case you missed them the first time around…

Posts are ranked by number of page views

Tea-Biscuits1Number 1 – Good Downtime

At number one by a mile, this post on Good Downtime from our very own 6’2″ Small Business Man, Martin Campbell, reminding us that scheduling a couple of hours to take a look at the big picture with your colleagues is a good thing – and don’t forget the tea and biscuits!

 

happinessNumber 2 – Happiness is a journey, and so is profit

Another entry from Martin Campbell – very popular! A business should be driven by achieving important work that generates value for others.

What’s more, it might even make you happy.

 

amazoncashmachineNumber 3 – At Amazon, it’s all about cash flow – and what they can get away with…

Martin again! This time writing about Amazon being well known for rapid growth but relatively low profit, encouraging small businesses to think about starting the virtuous circle that Amazon have found – Good cash flow fuelling growth, fuelling good credit, fuelling good cash flow.

 

NumbKeep calm and enjoy your time offer 4 – The importance of taking the bank holiday off

First entry from our Head of Product Rob, wise words, we all followed his advice.

Research shows you’ll perform better at work if you take a break every now and again, so make sure this bank holiday you have the day off and do something non-work related – it works.

 

Numbecustomer-badger 5 – Get to know your customers

Written by our business analyst Carolyn, knowing your customers is so important to the success of your business – you may think you know your customers, but how well do you really know them?

 

Looking forward to lots more blog posts in 2015!

Happy New Year from CreditHQ & Ormsby Street 🙂

6 ways to avoid bad debt on Debt Collection Awards day!

It’s the “Debt Collection Awards” today – who knew there was an awards ceremony for that?

5899676716_ff0d235315_m

To maintain a healthy business and avoid bad debt, not only do you need to get paid for the goods or services you provide, but you also need to get paid on time. So, to reduce the risk of having to call the debt collectors, here are some tips:

1) Check your customers’ creditworthiness – you can use CreditHQ (it’s free), to search for the companies you trade with and find their credit worthiness. The lower the credit indicator, the greater the risk of a company facing financial difficulties.

2) Set credit limits – often smaller and younger companies will have a lower score, which doesn’t necessary mean they won’t pay, but you can consider setting a lower credit limit until you are confident that they can and will pay on time.

3) Know when you should get paid – manage your cash flow by forecasting when invoices are due and keeping an eye on any changes in payment patterns and delays with your existing customers.  For new customers who you are yet to trade with, check when they are likely to pay you. Search for the company on CreditHQ and look at the payment indicator – the lower the number, the greater the risk of a company paying their bills late.

4) Monitor the companies that you are trading with – you can set up an account on CreditHQ (did I mention, it’s free!), and create a ‘Watch list’; you’ll then get alerts when credit or payment indictors change for the companies that you are watching, so you’ll know if who you might need to chase for payments.

5) Give clear terms – make your terms visible to your customers by publishing them on your website, on your invoices and send a copy to your customers upfront. Include a clause stating that you continue to own the goods or services until they have been paid for.  You could offer discounts for payments made within 30 days, and charge interest on anything over (you’re legally entitled to), but if you chose to do this, make sure your terms specify this.

6) Manage your invoicing processes:

  • Send invoices on time.
  • Make sure you find out the right person or department to send the invoice to, and request an acknowledgement that it has been received.
  • Keep up to date records on who owes you what and when.
  • When an invoice is due, chase it.
  • Stop supplying customers who don’t pay on time.
  • Resolve any disputes quickly – payments are usually withheld until the customer is satisfied.
  • If you have customers who regularly pay late, increase the prices that you charge them, or cancel any credit facilities.

If you don’t get paid, even after chasing, then here’s what to do next..

Before you go down the debt collection path, try one last time to recover the debt yourself, phone and write to the customer and let them know that this is your next course of action, as this may be enough to get them to pay. Also try and find out why they haven’t paid, as it may be a problem with their accounts system, or they may be having problems, and you could agree a repayment schedule.

Decide if the amount is worth pursuing – it may not be worth your time or the cost to collect, so let it go and move on.

4105722502_a442444bb9_mIf you do decide to pursue the debt, then use a debt collection agency, or take legal action using a solicitor or via the small claims court (https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/overview). A reputable debt collection agency can chase late payments in a professional manner, without alienating the customer.

Make sure you check the costs – there may be a flat fee or a percentage of the debt recovered, or both, and ask about additional charges.

Don’t delay chasing any bad debt and good luck. Please do remember to reduce your risk though, by knowing your customers better – use CreditHQ to check them out!

If you on the other end of the debt collection process, and are being pursued by debt collectors, then here is advice on how to deal with it: http://www.money.co.uk/article/1009025-how-to-deal-with-debt-collectors.htm