Quality always rises to the top!
Recently we have seen increasing interest rates, the largest monthly house price fall for nearly 14 years by 3.4%, and businesses and individuals paying the highest tax burden since the 1960’s.
Times are likely to remain challenging for many businesses, however history shows us that that when things are difficult, genuine quality always rises to the surface.
So what do businesses have to do to ensure that they succeed in the present economic environment?
The changing nature of the economy presents a whole series of questions for any business:
- What finance will it need, short term and to invest?
- What are the challenges of entering and maintaining exporting and/or new markets?
- How does it develop new and innovative income streams?
- How can it manage its workforce through the peaks and troughs of activity?
There is no ‘one size fit all’ answer to these questions. Different businesses will have different requirements and here are some learnings from quality businesses that are successful:
Put customers first:
For the next few years, arguably more than ever, companies need to understand their customers in order to respond to their needs and the pressures they are facing. Household income has been squeezed; some experts predict it will continue to be the case until 2024.
For most consumer-facing businesses, that means offering value for the customer.
The key here is to invest time in understanding your customer spending patterns and their needs.
Take some time out to research these needs, look at how you satisfy these currently and what you could do to improve your offering. Think of ways you can change the delivery of your product or service.
These could be simple things like discussing your offering with the customer before providing it, letting them know how things are progressing, or calling them up to make sure everything went OK after delivery.
Constant communication with your customers before, during and after the sale is a key factor for successful business in tough times. Ask yourself what you could do to improve this in your business.
Take time to seek out new revenue streams. Consider rebranding some of your offerings and selling them abroad or online. What new income streams are available to you? How can you take advantage of them?
Control your costs:
Keeping the cash coming into a business is fundamental, but so is controlling the rate at which the cash flows out.
Take time to think about your costs and what you could do to improve the way you manage your business. Regular review of targets to actual costs on a monthly basis is key to good control of your business.
Look at the way you do things. Are there alternatives?
Consider alternative suppliers, alternative payment schedules, better use of electronic point of sale, stock management and quality control.
Sit down with us and discuss your strategy for controlling costs and the management of these. Brainstorm how you can do things more quickly and more efficiently and formulate a strategy for the next year.
Manage your employees:
One of the biggest costs for firms is the cost of employment. Taking on new staff is expensive; it’s equivalent to fresh investment in the business. Many successful businesses are reviewing the value they get from their employees and are taking time to discuss how they can be more customer focused and efficient in their roles.
Look at alternatives to salary rises and consider the use of performance-related pay and a bonus structure that rewards both good service to customers and increases in sales. Get all employees involved in how the business can improve and do this regularly.
The Blueprint for success?
There is no single answer but there are a few general principles. Be flexible, but also be alert to the dangers. Successful businesses of the future will be fast on their feet but also aware of the risks. They will be lean and efficient. They will be the ones who spot and take advantage of the opportunities that are there.
As tough as the economic outlook appears for the remainder of 2023, there will still be plenty of opportunities, so please talk to us about your plans. We have considerable experience of helping our clients be successful!
The digital pound consultation
HM Treasury and the Bank of England are consulting on a potential digital pound, or central bank digital currency (CBDC).
The consultation paper sets out analysis by HM Treasury and the Bank of England on the potential case for a UK central bank digital currency – a “digital pound” – and consult on the key features of a potential model.
A digital pound would be a new form of digital money for use by households and businesses for their everyday payments needs. As part of the wider landscape of money and payments it would sit alongside, not replace, cash – a digital counterpart to familiar, trusted banknotes and coins, subject to rigorous standards of privacy and data protection. This is in line with the ambition that public trust in money remains high, and that modern forms of money and payments meet the evolving needs of individuals and businesses.
Unlike crypto assets and stable coins, the digital pound would be a central bank digital currency or CBDC – sterling currency issued by the Bank of England and not the private sector.
Although it is too early to commit to build the infrastructure for a digital pound, the Bank of England and the Government are convinced that further preparatory work is justified to appropriately respond to the emergence of new technologies, international developments and fresh opportunities. In the four-month consultation period, officials in HM Treasury and the Bank of England will engage extensively across the UK to seek views on a potential digital pound. Responses to the consultation are invited from all interested members of the public, experts, and the widest range of organisations.
The deadline for responses has been extended to 11:59pm on Friday 30 June 2023.
Consultation on SAYE and SIP Employee share schemes
In a call for evidence launched recently, the UK government wants to hear views on Save As You Earn (SAYE) and the Share Incentive Plan (SIP), as it seeks to improve the schemes and expand their use by making it easier for businesses to set them up and offer them out to staff. The government is considering more simplified schemes to support business growth. The changes also aim to boost participation among low earners.
This comes as a HMRC evaluation report shows that 81% of businesses say these schemes help boost their business, with almost three quarters of these saying it has helped them retain and recruit staff. 31% of businesses which do not use these schemes say they are too complicated to set up.
The call for evidence comes after venture capital firm Index Ventures praised government reforms to a separate scheme, the Company Share Option Plan, placing the UK as joint top among G7 countries in share option policy.
These reforms saw a doubling of the amount of share options employees can be granted and removed restrictions on which kind of shares could be included. Index said the moves the government took were “helping scale ups attract and retain the talent they need”.
The government is looking to replicate this success through similar reforms for SAYE and SIP and is particularly interested in understanding whether the schemes are attractive to lower income earners.
Protect yourself and your business from investment scams
A scam is a fraudulent scheme or operation designed to hoax people out of their cash, property, or personal information. Scams can take many forms, but they all share one ultimate goal: to take advantage of people’s trust to part them from their money.
With the internet providing anonymity as well as opportunity, the scope for scams has increased – and a particularly rich area for scammers with eyes on your money is investment. You want to grow your money by investing it – scammers know ways to convince you to invest it with them.
Scammers are very good at what they do. The difference between a sound investment proposal and a scam designed to whisk your money away so it is never seen again can be hard to tell until it is too late.
Scams can be difficult to spot. Fraudsters can be convincing and knowledgeable, with websites and materials that look identical to the real thing.
If you’ve been contacted unexpectedly, or are suspicious about a call or text message, make sure you stop and check the warnings signs.
- Is it unexpected? Scammers often call out of the blue. They may also try and contact you via email, text, post, social media, or even in person.
- Do you feel pressured to act quickly? Scammers might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest quickly, or they may say the opportunity is only available for a short time.
- Does the offer sound too good to be true? Fraudsters often promise tempting rewards, such as high returns on an investment.
- Is the offer exclusively for you? Scammers might claim that you’ve been specially chosen for an investment opportunity, and it should be kept a secret.
- Are they trying to flatter you? Scammers often try to build a friendship with you to put you at ease.
- Are you feeling worried or excited? Fraudsters may try to influence your emotions to get you to act.
- Are they speaking with authority? Scammers might claim that they’re authorised and often appear knowledgeable about financial products.
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, or you’re unsure if a contact is genuine, follow the steps below to protect yourself.
How to protect yourself from an investment scam
Check that the firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can do this by using the register on the FCA website: Home (fca.org.uk)
Then check that it isn’t a cloned company. The firm may be genuine – but the fraudster may be spoofing their connection with it. Make sure you use the contact details taken from the FCA’s register: Do not use the details given to you by the company, or by the person who contacted you.
- Never give out your bank account or credit card details unless you’re certain who you’re dealing with;
- Never share your passwords with anyone (including your social media passwords); and
- Do not give access to your device by downloading software or an app from a source you don’t trust. Scammers may be able to take control of your device and access your bank account.
The “Investing in Women Code” is closing the finance gap
The Government has published the third annual Investing in Women Code report. The Investing in Women Code is a commitment to supporting the advancement of female entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom by improving female entrepreneurs’ access to tools, resources and finance from the financial services sector.
Key findings in the review showed:
- A higher percentage of venture capital deals made by Investing in Women Code (IWC) signatories feature at least one female founder as compared to the wider market;
- This is the third year in a row that IWC signatories have outperformed the venture capital market;
- More diverse investment committees are key for bridging the investment gap; and
- With 204 signatories, the IWC now covers a significant proportion of the SME lending market and accounts for 39% of UK venture and growth equity deals, up from 24% in 2020.
35% of all venture capital deals made by Investing in Women Code signatories were in female-founded companies last year, compared to the market average of 27%.
Over 200 organisations have signed up to the code, showing the growing numbers of lenders and investors committed to increasing the levels of finance directed towards women-led businesses. Today’s report demonstrates that IWC members are leading the way in addressing the finance gap between male and female entrepreneurs. Equal access to finance will boost the potential of female founded businesses and deliver on the Government’s priority to grow the economy.
Young Professional Awards Wales 2023
The Young Professional Awards Wales recognises the next generation of business leaders. To be eligible to enter you must be 35 or under as of 5 October 2023 and working in Wales.
This year’s categories include:
- Young Finance Professional of the Year,
- Young Banking Professional of the Year,
- Young Business Development Professional of the Year,
- Young Construction Professional of the Year,
- Young Digital and Tech Professional of the Year,
- Young Lawyer of the Year,
- Young Insurance Professional of the Year,
- Young Marketing and Media Professional of the Year,
- Young Property Professional of the Year,
- Young Recruiter of the Year,
- Young Volunteer/Third Sector Professional of the Year,
- Young Apprentice of the Year,
- Young Graduate of the Year, and
- Young Professional of the Year.
The closing date for entries is 23 June 2023.
HSE: Working in hot temperatures guidance
With temperatures getting hotter in parts of Wales, check you have the right advice and guidance to work safely.
It is important to remember the risks of overheating when working in hot conditions.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has plenty of guidance on workplace temperature, including:
Find out more by visiting the HSE’s workplace temperature website.
New Energy Saving Grants for sports clubs in Wales
The Energy Saving Grant offers an opportunity for sports clubs to make energy-saving improvements and save money.
These grants will help clubs become more financially sustainable so that they can continue to offer affordable activities to their communities.
The grant is for not-for-profit sports clubs and community groups looking to make energy-saving improvements to their buildings. The fund will support:
- solar panels,
- insulation/building fabrics,
- lighting (excluding playing/training floodlights),
- improved heating and hot water systems, and
- sustainable water sourcing.
The closing date for applications is 28 June 2023.
Increasing the number of Welsh electric vehicle charging points
The Welsh Government is investing £15 million to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points across Wales. The funding will be used to help local authorities increase the number of charging facilities ahead of fossil fuel vehicles being phased out in 2030.
The new funding follows the £26 million already invested in charging infrastructure across Wales since 2021 which has created more than 1,600 charging points – enough for one in six battery electric vehicles.
Last week’s announcement complements the Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) fund which has already kick-started many EV projects as the Welsh Government aims to reach its target of providing charging points for every 20 miles of the strategic trunk network across Wales by 2025.