Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company

THE EMERGENCY BUDGET: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • A new National Living Wage for workers over the age of 25 will be introduced from April 2016. It will start at £7.20 per hour and rise to £9 by 2020.

  • Corporation tax will be cut from 20% to 19% in 2017, and to 18% in 2020.

  • The Employment Allowance has been increased, meaning that businesses will see their National Insurance bill cut by £3,000.

  • The annual investment allowance is to be set at £200,000 from January 2016. Companies can deduct the full value of items such as machinery from their profits before tax.

  • Three million new apprenticeships are to be created by 2020 thanks to a levy on large employers.

  • The dividend tax has been changed. Directors could previously take a small monthly salary and up to £30,900 as net dividends without paying personal tax. From 2016/17 only the first £5,000 of dividend income will be tax-free: the remainder up to £30,900 will be taxed at 7.5%. Dividends above the standard rate tax threshold will be taxed at 32.5% with additional rate taxpayers paying 38.1% tax.

Selling online – how to get started

E-commerce is rocketing, with UK online sales expected to grow by more than 18% in 2015 alone. If you’re a trader who has never tried selling online, or you’ve tried before and it never really took off, now is the time to see if you can capture some of that growth for yourself.

So, how to go about it? If you want to test it in a cheap and cheerful way, there is no harm in setting up an Amazon or eBay shop and then trying to direct customers there by other means – perhaps by telling your existing customers they can now buy online, or through your social media properties.

For a more committed approach, however, you could consider the popular Shopify platform. It’s a subscription-based system that allows you to build a store easily online and manage it though the Shopify interface.

Shopify’s USP is its simplicity. But if you need flexibility for your shop you may well end up considering a website built on the Magento platform. Be warned, though: while it is feature-rich, it is also complex so you will need an experienced Magento developer to get the most out of it.

Whatever e-commerce system you adopt, you’ll need a payment service provider. Your bank or a system such as WorldPay or SagePay can provide this. Alternatively, there is the ubiquitous PayPal, which is easy to integrate with most e-commerce systems (although it can be expensive). You should also consider the new kid on the block: Stripe.

Zoe Richards is the project manager at North Laine Solutions (NLS), an integrated digital marketing & communications agency.
www.nlsltd.com

Q&A

“My accountant has told me she’s going to retire so I need to find a new one. Do you have any advice on how I should go about finding someone reliable that’s a good fit for my garment decoration business?”

Choosing the right accountant can be the difference between your business succeeding and not.

The most important thing is to make sure they are professionally qualified and a member of a professional body. In the UK that’s most likely to be ACCA, ICAEW or ICAS. That means not only are they qualified but they are also regulated and required to undertake continuous development, and subject to disciplinary measures if things go wrong. ACCA has a database of qualified members for you to search: https://www.accaglobal.com/uk/en/member/find-an-accountant.html?isocountry=GB

Secondly, make sure they understand your business. Do they have other clients either in your field or of similar size? There are many accountants who specialise in certain industries, or certain types and sizes of businesses. They will understand the challenges your business faces and the legal requirements specific to your business.

Thirdly, look for a personal recommendation. Do you know someone who can recommend a good accountant they’ve done business with? If not, find someone who is professional, qualified and specialises in your sector, then call them, meet them and get a feel for how they will approach the relationship.

It’s important you are comfortable with your accountant and confident that they will give your account the care and time it deserves. You need to be clear about what you want and expect from them, and be confident that they can meet your requirements.

Glenn Collins is head of technical advisory ACCA Western Europe. ACCA is a leading global body for professional accountants.
www.uk.accaglobal.com

If you have a business question for any of our experts, email it to: [email protected]