Tag Archives: small business

federation of small business

The Federation of Small Business – Benefits of joining

The Federation of Small Business – Benefits of joining

I joined the Federation of Small Business (FSB) a year ago. An accountant friend and I were chatting whilst sat in the doctor’s surgery and she recommended this as a brilliant thing to join to help with all advice and admin you must do as a small business owner. It’s a necessary evil, it must be done and you can’t afford in the early days to outsource it.

I met up with Charlie from the FSB who had me sold at free business banking (I was paying at least £6 per month with Barclays) and the free legal advice (I have needed advice on partnership agreements and documents, trademarks and employment law in the past year, all included in membership). There is plenty more included in the membership which I will list at the end of post, but I wanted to share with you an incredible event hubby and I attended a few weeks back.

Hubby is starting a new business

Setting the scene, hubby is starting up his own bathroom showroom business. It’s been dream for around 6 years!! Now he is going for it, with a bit of help from me on the accounting and marketing sides of the business, my expert areas. It has also prompted a series of small business posts on how to save money, and what you need to get set up in what order, as there is a fair bit.

We attended a local small business fair, this wasn’t small businesses like us, it was companies who can support small businesses. I didn’t know what to expect and had never been to one before so thought why not give it and try and see what it was all about.

The fair was hosted in a huge warehouse in Huntingdon, Wood Green animal shelter. We walked in and saw hundreds of stands, this looked good.

We had Jack with us as it was a non-school day, imagine his joy when he saw sweets on every table, and drinks, and toys and he could help himself to.

We wandered from stall to stall, seeing what grabbed our attention. It was perfectly aimed at people running small business. There were banks, legal, insurance, mobile phone companies, accountancy, car leasing, stationery providers, sign makers, you name it, it was there.

Legal Advice

The first stand that grabbed my attention were the ones giving away the best freebies (I never change, I love a freebie, even a pen). I stopped at a legal firm and got chatting to one the women who worked in employment law, not for me, but her colleague was a property lawyer so we had a great chat about hubby’s potential new business premises and the type of things we could negotiate in the contract. He also told us if your business premises have a rateable value of less than £15k the rates are free! This man could potentially have saved us ALOT if money. #grateful.

Car/Van Leasing

We chatted to the car leasing guys from Toyota and spoke about selling our current car for a cash flow boost and leasing a new car for the family and then a van for hubby. We are now in discussions about buying a hybrid, and Jack got a heart sponge and some stress squeeze hats (happy days).

Business Lending & Grants

I found a man who was an expert in business lending and grants and had a great chat about what funding we could both get, me 18 months in and hubby as a start-up. I also spoke to Barclays and NatWest about lending, NatWest seemed very keen for our business.

Business Insurance

We popped over to the FSB stand and met the guys in charge of the fair. Hubby will be joining the FSB for his new company. I ended up chatting to a legal expert who handily also knew about insurance. It’s a grey area subject for bloggers, should we have it or not. The conclusion was yes, I should have public liability insurance. If I am going to meetings in client’s offices I need to insure myself if I was to cause any accidents when there. Professional indemnity was probably not a requirement as what I write about is my view and my view only. Hubby also need public liability for a retail shop.

I was astounded at the amount of free advice we got at the event, as well as about 10 pens, toys, sweets and keyrings;-)

Benefits of Joining the Federation of Small Business

I highly recommend joining the FSB if you are a small business. Charlie Smith is the man who can help you to decide if its right for you. A quick highlight of some of the benefits

  • Free business banking with Co-op
  • Discounted insurance broker
  • Discounted contract hire on vehicles
  • Free legal advice and template documents
  • Free cover if you have a tax investigation
  • Free crisis PR
  • Free financial planning advice (I have used this for business planning)
  • Free health & safety advice
  • The list goes on and on.

The cost and how to join

There is an annual membership fee, which is  £172.50 for the first year and then £142.40 for year 2 onwards. Here is a link to get more information and to sign up online or feel free to call Charlie Smith on 07801 333480.

Disclosure – I will receive a small referral fee if you join up through this link.

Starting a New business: 10 Lessons Learnt with Mrs Mummypenny

Starting a New Business

3 ½ years ago I was on maternity leave. It was my third maternity leave so it was nice and chilled. I knew what I was doing with motherhood and after a few months I started to get itchy feet. I needed something to keep my brain occupied, this DID NOT mean going back to my day job! The thoughts of starting a new business were stirring.

I had always been obsessed with saving money and thought there was something I could do. A lightning bolt struck, a friend and I, over a glass of wine, came up with the name and Mrs Mummypenny was born. The next day domain name was bought, social media accounts were set up. Done.

I spent the next 2 years running it as hobby. I would update the content every week, whenever I had some spare time from the busy full time day job. I always knew it had the potential to be an incredibly successful business.

By July 2015 I had been able to negotiate redundancy from EE which allowed me to launch the business properly and now 1 year on I am running a successful business bringing in enough income to pay the bills and with huge plans. Here are my top 10 lessons learnt.

  1. Plan, plan and the plan some more. I spent last July and August setting everything in the business for success. I worked with a business advisor on a business plan, cash flow forecast and survival budget. A great discipline to help focus the mind and work out the plan for the next 6-12 months and beyond. This business plan was signed off and my reward was a National Enterprise Allowance from the government. £65 per week for 13 weeks then £33 per week for 13 weeks. A great help with set up costs.
  2. Speak to trusted advisors. I am a great networker and work hard to maintain that network and build relationships. I have 2 mentors who helped in particular with the business plan stage. They tore is apart and made me start again. They questioned my values, beliefs and confidence behind the business. They pulled my financials apart. It was amazing and they really made a difference at the beginning of the business. They are extremely successful self-made business men perfect people who understand the beginning of your own business.
  3. Keep all costs to a minimum at the beginning. This means set up costs and stock costs. At this point you are not earning any/much money so these costs will hurt you. Do not spend any money unless it is key to the running of the business. I needed a laptop (as my old one died a nasty death after downloading Windows 10), a tablet for on-the-go work, a new mobile phone and a desk. That was pretty much it.
  4. Employ a great accountant early on. If you need one drop me a message and I will pass on a recommendation. The accountant can help with financial advice, structure, company set up, payroll, planning. I am a qualified accountant but I feel much more comfortable having one there to check what I do. They know all the rules about income I have to declare and expenses to claim.
  5. Work out the best way to get your name out there and reach out to your customers. My customers are brands, PR Agencies and small business as my providers of income. They pay me to review their products or services. To reach out to these guys I needed to do all sorts of stuff. My main way was to build my social media channels, focussing first on Facebook and Twitter. I grew my numbers through my friends and network, then competitions then Facebook targeted advertising. I have spent around £200 on Facebook advertising in 1 year and maybe another £200 on competition prizes. Twitter was organic growth rather than paid. My Facebook is now 4k likes and Twitter is 3k.
  6. Go to events. One of my defining moments was working with Aldi. I joined the Aldi Wine Club, I reviewed wines and then I entered a competition to be a wine panel taster for an Aldi You Tube video. The rest is history. I met the PR team at the filming event and I started reviewing products for Aldi. They invited me to events they held such as wine tasting evenings and I talked to people. Simple as that, I engaged with other guests, told them all about Mrs Mummypenny. This has led to so much other work such as BBC Good Food Live show and other press work.
  7. Engage with your local small business community. They can help with advice and you might even be able to do an exchange of services. I help out my local butchers with marketing, and he throws in the odd freebie sausage & burger;-) I would avoid working with people who are takers. I.e. those who want stuff for free and will give nothing back to you. Of course there are exceptions to this rule sometimes, like charity work or local community work. I organised a charity event in Jan that raised £2800. I used my Mrs Mummypenny link to Barclays bank to get £1000 donation from them for the charity.
  8. Keep track of your expenses and income. I have completely failed at this and my books are a mess. Set up your banking from day 1 separately from your personal banking and pay all expenses from there and put all income in there. My income is all over the place, sometimes in business account, sometimes in personal, sometimes PayPal. It’s going to take me forever to pick it apart. And only I can do it. My expenses are at least sorted into monthly envelopes. And I have asked a bookkeeper friend to help me sort it out. She is going to help out on-going as it’s REALLY important to know your monthly position income and expenses wise.
  9. Cash flow is king. Do not run out of money. Chase invoices and if they are not paid add on late payment charges. If you run out of money your business will fail so keep afloat and always have a positive balance of money.
  10. But what if you need money? So I got to the point where money was getting tight. I spoke to my bank, Barclays where I needed 1 year of accounts to get an overdraft, not helpful. But I was able to get a Barclaycard with 6-month interest free purchases, this has a limit of £3k. You can take out personal credit cards maybe, as there are tons of great interest free rates that last for ages. Consumer rates are often better than small business rates on most things. There are grants and loans available if you search carefully online. I am always on the lookout. Maybe you have a nice rich relative or friend who might loan you some money on a short term basis, please agree payback terms though.

The past year of running Mrs Mummypenny has been my best year ever in my working life and long may it continue. I appear to have found my calling in life, finally I do what I love, I am my own boss and have the ultimate flexibility to do what I want when I want.

Supporting Local Small Business – #shoplocalknebworth

Supporting Local Small Business

Mrs Mummypenny is a local small business that has evolved over the past year. I started out thinking it would be a great medium to share my money saving tips with the world across my website and social media. I absolutely still do this, but there are lots of extra parts of the Mrs Mummypenny family.

I offer commercial & marketing advice to small businesses. If you need a lesson in social media I can do this for you, if you need a marketing strategy I can do this for you. If you need commercial advice on how to make money from your business I can help. I work with big brands on their advertising campaigns so you will see the occasional collaborative post pop up with interesting new products or services that I think are great value for money. Name check Aldi, Disney, Standard Life, Epson;-)

Why should you shop local?

A new project is #shoplocalknebworth. I live in a beautiful Hertfordshire village with so many local small businesses. I shop in these shops and I love to support local small business. If I need some cheese for a dinner party cheese board I will go to my local Butchers/Deli – Trussells. Or if I need a gift for my friend who has just had a baby I will go to Lucas May to get a cute gift. I also get to work with these businesses, helping out with social media and marketing ideas.

#shoplocalknebworth is all about sharing with you who live near the village about the fantastic local businesses and what you have available on your doorstep. Please visit the high street as often as you can to keep these local small businesses going. We have everything on our doorstep, great quality, fantastic value and amazing customer service.

I will be running this campaign every few months to celebrate local business and give everyone a chance to promote their business. I encourage you to use the #shoplocalknebworth every time you buy something great in the village. Why not tweet a picture of a great find in the local charity shop or beautiful necklace you have found in the bead shop and use the # when tweeting or posting on Instagram so I can find the pictures:-)

The following five businesses are the first to embrace #shoplocalknebworth to promote their businesses with Mrs Mummypenny, please go take a look at their products or services and mention me when you visit, call and buy!!

Trussells Butchers

A butchers can be an intimidating shop, there is a lot of meat and men!! Don’t let this put you off Trussells. Hubby and I have shopped there for maybe 10 years. It has been great to watch Paul & team grow the business and expand into the deli. The cooked meats, cheeses and olives are yummy and Jack, our 3-year-old adores the home made sausage rolls. Here are a couple of meals I or friends have cooked using meat from Trussells.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Trussell butchers217-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Trussell butchers

I love the local sourcing of food and the information you get when you go in. If you want to know how the cows are reared for the 30-day aged sirloin steak just ask the guys behind the counter. I am interested in animal welfare and like to hear about the farm in Saffron Walden where Paul will be getting his turkeys from this year.

And its great value for money and healthy. The meat wont shrink when you cook it, the meat tastes great and you will feel happier eating meat of an animal that has been brought up happy and healthily. I am eating clean and this is the best place to get my turkey, chicken and lean meat from. Handily on a Friday a fish van arrives to sell beautiful products from the carpark to the right of Trussells. Visit their Facebook page here

Putterills Estate Agents

We have moved house twice since moving to Knebworth and we bought our current house 7 years ago from Ricky and the team at Putterills. We have toyed with the idea of moving several times over the years and there has been no hesitation from Ricky to value our house or give us advice on the best things to add to the house to create value.

Ricky has owned the franchise in Knebworth for 24 years and has built up a loyal team around him who take pride in everything they do from photography to chasing down the chain in a sale purchase. They even have a dedicated full time sales progress mgr who will help out with that ‘lovely’ stage between offer to exchange and completion, that we often want to progress as quickly as possible.

Here are a couple of properties for sale at the moment. Why not pop in and ask for a valuation, or check out their website for latest houses for sale you’ll be shocked that the current house prices in the village if you haven’t checked for a while! Here are a couple of properties for sale at the moment in Rabley Heath and Knebworth.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Putterills 17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Putterills 2

Lucas May Florist

Catherine launched Lucas May in November 2015, the hop is at far end of the high street near the school zebra crossing and 4hair. She offers the most beautiful bespoke bouquets and gifts to suit any budget. Take a look at these 17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Lucas May2flowers hubby gave me for our anniversary on Thursday last week. Flowers from Lucas May are more expensive than the supermarkets BUT they will last and last with care and love (i.e. change the water every few days!!). I got a bouquet for my birthday back in March and they lasted for 2 ½ weeks!!

I adore flowers and pretty things so this is one of my favourite shops in the17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Lucas May village. Pop in and take a look at her wide range of cards, candles, vases and oil burners. I suspect some of us have not yet bought a present for your children’s teacher. Take a look at the wide range of gifts for inspiration, I took a few pictures of my favourites this week.

Caffé Vero

Arif took over Caffe Vero 2 years ago. The cafe can be found on station road, near the newspaper shop and ABC end of Pondcroft Rd. We visit often as a family and we always get a warm welcome from Arif and team, a chat and some great food. I also visit quite a lot to use it as an office/meeting place. Sometimes it nice to get out of my home office and go somewhere social to work. Tis important for me who still misses the hussle-bussle of an office sometimes for grown up real-life conversation.

They support local and buy their meat from Trussells, so you know your English breakfast will be top notch with the best sausages ever. I am the most difficult eater in the world at the moment with my eating clean but they will cook me whatever I ask for, last week I had smoked salmon, poached egg and green tea in hard-core week 1 of eating clean.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Cafe Verro17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Cafe Verro 2

Ross Randall Plumbing and Heating

A great plumber is hard to find!! We did an extension 3 years ago and moved one bathroom and created a new one. Ross did those bathrooms for us and did a professional and great looking job. Handily whenever we have bathroom issues he’ll pop round to take a look and sort it out. It’s important to know trustworthy tradesmen like this and we recommend him time and time again.

Ross has owned his business Ross Randall Plumbing & Heating for 7 years. His mobile number is 07824 394126, do drop him a line for your plumbing and heating requirements. Here are a couple of photos of our bathroom that Ross fitted.

17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Ross Randall2 17-7-16 #shoplocalknebworth local small business Ross Randall

THANK YOU for supporting #shoplocalknebworth

So there you have it, my first social media campaign to support local business of which I am also one!  So please like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter & Instagram. I WILL save you money with my personal finance and lifestyle advice.

@mrsmummypennyuk on Twitter & Instagram

Mrs Mummypenny on Facebook & Pinterest

MrsMummy Penny on You tube

And please do sign up to receive regular emails from Mrs Mummypenny so you miss nothing.

The next #shoplocalknebworth campaigns will be in September & November. So if you would like to feature in the next campaign please email me on lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk.

My Plan on how I am going to survive financially without a corporate job…

What Have I Done??!!

I am 38 and have spent most of the past 16 years working for a range of big corporates. Okay so I have had 3 breaks of maternity leave with the boys (not exactly a holiday!)..but 16 years…that is a very long time! On the 30th June I ended my 5 years of employment with EE, handily just in time for the summer holidays. And everyone continues to ask “what am I going to do?”.

2014-05-11 14.56.40

There is a look of shock/admiration/interest when I say I am going to set up my own company and run my own business. I am extremely well set up to do this. Mrs Mummypenny has been my hobby for 2 years now, set up whilst a bit bored on my last maternity leave. Whilst it has been a hobby it’s not been that lucrative. However I can now focus, spend time and write an amazing business plan to kick off Mrs MummyPenny. And I love doing it, I really believe that its a viable business model and I love the fact that I actually help people to save money. One of biggest buzzes that I get every day is when I get a message from a liker or follower telling me how much money they have saved or sharing a money saving tip with me. And people love my blogs and ideas on things to cook, things to do with the children and creative activities. It can be a lonely job, which is not good for a person like me who loves to be around people. So I do spend a good amount of time out and about with the children, researching content for my website. Oh and I do call, email and whatsapp alot!

How I will Maximise My Income

Mrs Mummypenny Income – Website

In my new self employed world I need to make money, I have carefully worked out the household budget and need to make at least £1,800 per month to cover the essential bills such as mortgage, food, utilities, council tax etc. This all needs to come from Mrs Mummypenny and its offshoot businesses streams. To monetise my website I can do things like reviews, receive advertising revenue, recommendations income and selling things from the website. You will see the odd advert of great money saving companies on my website. I have partnered up with companies like Trip Adviser, M&S, Made.com, Topcashback and Money Dashboard so you may see the odd banner with information on offers. Sometimes I work closely with these companies. Money Dashboard have recently featured me as their guest blogger and I answered a few questions for them. There’s no payment of money going on here but they are helping me to build my traffic, and following on twitter/ facebook etc all in return for me writing some content for them. Money Dashboard Interview

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I often recommend services and companies. I love Trussells the Butchers in Knebworth and Church Farm in Arderley and talk about these places often. I know several good builders, beauticians, cake makers, soliciters, accountants I have wide network so will recommend people who are good. All my recommendations will have been bought/tried and tested and I will give you an honest review. Sometimes I review things where I have had a bad experience and have complained…one of my most popular blogs explains how I got a lot of compensation and a huge fruit basket from Npower who messed up my utility bills in 2014! Occasionally I earn revenue from these recommendations, if so this will be disclosed. I am also approached to review things for which I will do a write up on the product and if I think it is money saving and/or good value for money. For example I am off camping August bank holiday and I have been offered this for free in return for an honest and insightful blog with lots of photos for my website and for them to feature on their website. Blogs not yet published include a positive review of RAF Hendon to visit with the children (unpaid, they dont even know I am writing it) and a not so positive view of Ford and their service plan that I have paid £696 into since August 2013. Again they don’t know I’m writing it, but I will tweet them once its published.

Mrs Mummypenny Sales

I am also going to set up a selling page within my website for money saving items like the Mrs Mummypenny Pennies jar. This is my homemade jar..I’m going to work on a more neater version to sell with my creative partner in crime Red jellies and wellies. Watch this space.

Mrs Mummypenny Pennies Jar

I already admin & run Knebworth Items for Sale on facebook. A local community site for buying & selling unwanted household gear. I have so much children’s stuff /toys/ clothes/electrical gear to sell on Facebook, Ebay, gumtree, direct to resellers. And I am working for a client who has lots to sell as well and earn a commission for sales. This is a great revenue stream for the earlier days of Mrs Mummypenny when the revenues are not high enough to pay the bills.

Mrs Mummypenny Cashback

I make full use of cashback websites when purchasing anything online, I am currently waiting on £180 to clear from a recent swop of Broadband from EE to BT and an energy company swop from First Utility to SSE. Topcashback – set up an account

Mrs Mummypenny Help & Support for Small Business Benefits

I am also fully aware of which benefits I can claim at the moment given my unemployed status. I have spoken to the lovely guys at the Stevenage Job centre who are helping me to set up my own business properly. I have a business mentor from a company called Avanta to help me plan the business. They will aid with my business plan and the hundreds of questions I have. In the meantime I am approved to claim JSA. Thank you to my sister for advising me to go for an interview to understand what payments I am due. And yeah I can now claim for child benefit again as my income drops below the tiers of non-payment into payment.

July 28th Plan to fail

How I will Save Cash – And these are things you can all do!

Create a Realistic Budget

The first thing I needed to do was to write a budget, a realistic one. So my friend Excel, yes I love Excel, has helped me to create a list of everything I spend on.  This tells me that I need to earn at least £1800 to ensure everything is covered, from mortgage to life insurance to cash machine withdrawals. Its all in there. Please mail me E-mail Address if you want a copy of the budget template.

Money Dashboard Helps me:-)

Next step was to download a great tool called Money Dashboard to understand what I spend money on to double check if the above mentioned budget is realistic. Money Dashboard combines all your bank accounts/credit cards into one place and analyses your spend. It catagorises your spend and creates brilliant graphs/list/pie charts (my favourite graph). I know last month we overspent on dining & drinking, but then it was hubbys 40th birthday month;-)

July 28th Pie chart

Sign up to Money Dashboard here

Assess spends and reduce where neccessary

Next plan is to assess all my outgoings and work out if I have the best deal going. So far I have

1) reduced my utility spend by £15 per month by switching from First Utility to SSE.

2) saved £3 per month on my home broadband by moving from EE to BT, despite EE being a staff deal, BT still beats it with a cash back offering, see above money I have made.

3) I have no credit cards with interest being paid, all have been switched to interest free for at least the next 2 years.

4) Cancelled Ford Service plan as next service will be done by a mechanic friend for much cheaper cost. saving £23 per month in my direct debits.

5) Mortgage was changed a couple of months back, I changed the term from 16 years to 25 years. Just for the moment when I am not sure what my income will be. Payments reduced by £400 per month.

Spend less on days out with the children

I plan to spend as little as possible on days out with the boys over the summer holidays, check out this blog post for loads of great money saving/free ideas to keep the children amused. Money Saving ideas for the summer holidays

So there you have it, my plan to pay the bills and keep my children fed over the next few months. And if it all goes wrong….well I will probably end up back in the corporate world, maybe on short-term contract..so I can quickly get back to the world of Mrs Mummypenny.

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