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The survey sampled 500 recruitment agencies, 500 SME employers, and 2,000 office workers – all of which are based in the UK.

Key findings

The research identified that, due to rising operational costs, 34% of SMEs are struggling with staffing costs – which is resulting in a lack of talent uptake. 26% of businesses are also suffering from weak cash flow, making it difficult for companies to progress and keep up with the current changes affecting ways of working.

In terms of what the key evolutions are when it comes to ways of working, employers were asked which trends were the most relevant to the UK market. They elected:

Interestingly, however, employees reported that 71% of them want a four-day work week, standing out above hybrid working (31%) and remote working (28%). 

Perhaps employee demands are outgrowing what employees are currently offering, which may in turn cause SMEs to reconsider the perks and working modes available to staff in order to retain and attract talent.

One thing employees, employers, and recruiters could agree on is that the 4-day working week is likely to become the norm by 2030. So, it could be a question of IF rather than WHEN the prospect of new working modes is properly considered.

Implementing, for example, a four-day week would require a wealth of operational and financial considerations. After all, how will it impact communications, client handling, the supply chain, and cash flow?

Surprisingly, though, 40% of SME employers feel their businesses are ready to offer a four-day week. This outshines the 29% of employers who feel financially and operationally unable to offer a four-day week, while a further 31% of the market remains unsure and may take more convincing.

Financing an operational shift can be challenging, and SMEs highlighted finding cover for workload, reduced output, and compression, as challenges that could worsen their financial situation. These factors must be balanced against current challenges, too, with 30% of SMEs identifying late payments from clients as being a pressure point.

Perhaps the external financing market could hold the keys to strengthening SME finances and enabling an operational reshuffle that could see new modes of working introduced, and new talent joining UK businesses.

About the author: Natalie Kerr is the Commercial Director at NatWest Rapid Cash.


Banks are a necessary part of the small business landscape, a 2020 survey of SMEs by Statista found that 99% of SMEs work with a bank or building society. Small businesses are often extremely loyal to their bank, unfortunately, that loyalty is rarely reciprocated. 

Banks rarely go beyond the bare minimum when it comes to supporting SMEs: products are designed for mass use, but poorly suited to the needs of any individual business. While banks are increasingly coming around on the need for technology and digitalisation, they are followers, not leaders in this space.

Why banks don’t serve modern SMEs

For an example of the issues with banks, let’s look at onboarding. Getting a small business set up with a bank is a frustrating, time-consuming experience at the best of times, and it’s made significantly more challenging by the inclusion of any changes, such as complex entity structures and special purpose vehicles (SPVs). The old-fashioned process often requires in-person attendance at a branch, even following Covid, and can take weeks.

Overall, banks are large, slow-moving institutions. They have historically been successful, and they’re reluctant to rock the boat as a result; innovation is risky, and banks like to play it safe. They’re wrapped up in legacy red tape and long-outdated processes, but every bank is in a similar position, so there’s no competitive pressure to do better. Unfortunately, the very loyalty that SMEs show to their banks also means that they have little incentive to improve. 

FinTech’s enter the scene

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs make up more than half of all UK business turnover. This represents a remarkable opportunity, so it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs have leapt into action. Seeing a clear gap in the market, newer, nimbler companies have emerged specifically to serve the needs of SMEs. 

Unlike the big banks, these businesses are eager to innovate and leverage technology to deliver a set of features designed to make life easier for small business owners. Compare the weeks-long process of signing up for a bank with that of signing up with a fintech - which is straightforward, takes minutes, and can be done from the business owner’s smartphone. 

Over the past decade, these alternative financial services (AFS) have evolved from plucky start-ups to trusted institutions in the small business world. Providers have built out their ecosystems, ironed out early issues, and now represent a realistic alternative to the old banking giants. 

What can SMEs do?

Every SME is unique, and each one has different needs from its financial provider. The first step that small business owners should take is to ask themselves questions about what they need from banking and expenses and the challenges they face. Often, this is something that SMEs have never seriously considered – the big banks are so well established, it’s easy to forget that there are other options or assume banks are the better one. 

Many SMEs don’t actually need to work with a bank and would be better off with an alternative financial provider. For instance, modern payment providers offer many of the same services as a bank, yet are far more responsive and deliver a higher quality of service. In fact, many providers connect SMEs with a dedicated account manager from day one, making the transition over as simple and hands off as possible. 

For others, a more tech-savvy partner may act as a supplement to the bank, adding capacity rather than replacing it entirely. Many businesses use the bank to store funds while managing them through a tech platform for greater insight into their finances. Combining a core banking solution with specialised solutions for the financial processes a business regularly needs – such as managing employee expenses, international payments, and foreign exchange – is well worth considering for SMEs which aren’t ready to ditch their banks just yet. 

The future of SME finances

There’s no doubt that the entry of fintech’s and alternative financial service providers has spurred banks to improve their offering, but they still lag far behind. It could be years until they implement the quality-of-life features that every smaller provider already has. For that reason, SMEs leveraging new providers – whether instead of or in addition to a bank – will have a competitive advantage. 

About the author: Simon England is Managing Director at Equals Money

Business data from the Office of National Statistics showed that a total of 100,835 businesses in the UK closed in the third quarter of 2021, a 50% increase from closures in the third quarter of 2020. To protect themselves against global crises and other unexpected events, businesses need to learn how to manage their finances wisely. That means staying on top of payments, organising cash flow, and optimising business expenses. So, with that in mind, the following tips can help small to medium enterprises manage their money.

Step 1: Monitor Income And Expenses

Every business should have a good handle on where its money goes. As we mentioned in ‘7 Ways to Cut Your Business Expenses’, keeping track of income and expenses helps you identify whether you are allocating your resources wisely. Understanding your expenses can help you figure out how to cut down later on.

Start by saving all receipts, both digital and physical. From there, find a place to store transactional data. Less tech-savvy businesses tend to use spreadsheets, but those that want to streamline the process can use cloud accounting software, such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero. High-quality accounting software can integrate with your bank accounts to automatically import your transaction history into a comprehensive bank feed.

Step 2: Create A Budget

Once you’ve identified key spending areas, it’s time to make a smarter spending plan. Here’s where budgeting comes in. According to AskMoney’s guide to budgeting, the first step to building a business budget is to use historical income data to create accurate revenue forecasts. Once you’ve estimated how much you might make each month, figure out which expenses you can cut down to maximise profit.

Be sure to be realistic about reductions — if you resort to lower-quality services just to save, you might end up losing more money in the long run. For example, a restaurant that sources cheaper but lower quality appliances might have to spend more on replacements or repairs later down the line.

Step 3: Control Spending

Making a spending plan is one thing, sticking to it is another. Fortunately, many modern banking apps come with features that help you control spending according to your budget. The online bank Monzo, which won the award for Best British Bank in 2022, has a feature called Tax Pots. Monzo’s Tax Pots tool lets you divide income into dedicated expense categories — such as a pot for payroll, a pot for operating expenses, and a pot for taxes. By creating separate cash reserves and giving each a clear purpose, you can allocate revenue effectively and prevent overspending.

Step 4: Put Savings Back Into The Business

Once you’ve controlled your spending, it’s time to figure out what to do with all your extra cash. The smartest business move would be to invest in growth. Put your savings into things that can help your business make more money in the future. A delivery business, for example, can use savings to buy new delivery vehicles, which expands their capacity to take orders.

You can also use savings to diversify your business income. Place money into stocks, bonds, or other securities. This way, if unexpected events cause operations to slow down, the business has extra income to turn to.

At the end of the day, it’s important not to let poor money management prevent your business from reaching its full potential. Through expense tracking, budgeting, spending control, and investment, businesses can take their income further and make a bigger impact.

The number of people shopping in stores is predicted to drop as the cost of living continues to rise. Challenges may lie ahead for businesses both big and small across the UK, with recent research finding that 71% of SMEs view inflation as their biggest cause for concern this year. 

New data from Square has also revealed a trend of “lunchflation” in the UK. Lunch item prices are rapidly increasing, with rates jumping by 3% year on year with soups leading the way, with an average mark-up of 36% as of March 2022. This is a clear indicator of recent setbacks for businesses from the past two years. 

The upcoming months are likely to look as tumultuous as the start of the year, however, there are actions business owners and leaders can take to safeguard themselves against unprecedented challenges and enable continued recovery as businesses navigate the post-pandemic world. Implementing tech to streamline operations is a strong starting point and also acts as a foundation to grow and pivot a business.

Streamlining operations

Making operations more efficient should be at the top of every business owner’s to-do list, enabling employees to spend time on what really matters - building strong customer relationships, perfecting their product or service, building out their offering and creating an engaging brand story to ultimately drive sales. 

By integrating technology into operations, businesses can easily boost efficiency and standardise processes across locations. We’ve purposely designed solutions such as the Square Dashboard so that businesses can track sales by employee, monitor inventory, manage timecards, accept payments and more. This way a business's entire team only needs to use and be trained on one system (and control access to certain features via employee passcodes), so everyone across multiple locations is using the same POS, which is all linked to the Dashboard.

Hospitality businesses can create seamless communication between multiple ordering channels from front to back of house. The benefits of investing in automation aren’t just felt by the restaurants, they trickle down to consumers, too. For 400 Degrees Pizzeria, a pop-up pizzeria in Cambourne, that meant giving customers the choice of how they were served, whether that be online, or in-person. 

Flexibility for maximum customer reach

The pandemic accelerated e-commerce and it’s clear this shift online is here to stay. In the UK, the share of classic lunch items that were ordered in-person hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, as consumers have had to pivot to placing orders online for delivery and pick-up. Despite this, a number of orders are still being placed in-person - highlighting the need for businesses to offer customers flexibility in how they order across platforms. 

Going back to our previous seller example, 400 Degrees Pizzeria, is using technology to maximise orders from each end. The owner Sam Corbin told us; “I’ve been using the Square KDS, it brings together all the orders in one place no matter if they were face-to-face or online everything is just there at a glance. There are two KDS screens in the van with one at the prep side & an ‘expeditor station’ at the hatch. We mark off on our screens when it’s made and that in turn shows at the hatch - then I tap it away when it’s been collected. As we’re all able to see what’s going on clearly we can accurately predict timings for walk-ups and get orders out faster than ever.”

Whatever the next year throws at businesses, one thing is clear; those who embrace change and adopt technology will have what they need to thrive. The human-interaction element of dining and shopping will always be a huge part of the holistic brand experience, but businesses need to use the right tools to meet customers where they are, whether that’s online, in-person, or a mix of the two. 

Recovery is still on the horizon

In recent years, it’s been encouraging to witness small businesses adapt and innovate not just to survive but continue growing. Many have embraced an omnichannel approach by enabling their customers to shop through their own sites, or on social media. Recent research shows that 73% of consumers are now actively shopping through social channels, showing the demand for this approach.

Staying agile and aware of the changing customer habits will enable businesses to bend and pivot. Employing the right technology early will help them to adapt fast and keep multiple revenue streams open. 

Worsening global supply chain disruption is one of the conflict’s most significant consequences for businesses. In fact, Moody’s has highlighted that the war in Ukraine has replaced COVID-19 as the most considerable risk confronting the global supply chain. Of course, this comes as no great surprise, considering that approximately 15,000 China-Europe freight train trips were made in 2021, with many of these trade routes running across Russia and Ukraine. 

The disruption and rerouting of these trade routes due to the war is leading to further chaos across the supply chain and this has massive implications for SMEs, which face tremendous supply chain challenges. Even before the war, almost two-thirds of UK SME manufacturers had already reported concerns that material supply shortage could impede their output. The conflict is serving to exacerbate these problems.

The need for supply chain redesign imminent

Tackling crippling supply chain challenges would require businesses to shift away from existing models that relied on lean inventories and just-in-time delivery. With this in mind, many companies are now looking at ways to build up and store inventory reserves to prepare for supply chain shocks in the future. The difficulty, however, is that while this mitigates the impact of disruptions to future production and improves supply chain resilience, it ties up valuable working capital. Moreover, these "safety stocks" can also risk obsolescence due to technological advancements or changing customer demands, which leads to precious resources, waste, and lost revenue, if not managed carefully. 

At the same time, larger organisations have begun to scrutinise their entire network of suppliers to identify potential critical bottlenecks. With the ongoing supply chain disruption, excessive reliance on specialist suppliers or suppliers in the exact locations created a knock-on effect that delayed production down the line. Unfortunately, this puts everyone in the supply chain at greater risk and consequently, these organisations are expected to diversify their network to strengthen their resilience.

The push for diversification presents both an opportunity and a challenge for SMEs.

While more MNCs are expected to decentralise their supply network to mitigate risk exposure, they will also likely set stringent criteria for SMEs to demonstrate strong business and financial fundamentals.

The need for liquidity and risk mitigation through trade financing

To assemble a well-stocked inventory and devise a strategy to sustain production during future disruptions, SMEs need to identify and unlock alternative funding sources to ensure resilient cash flows

Many are already suffering from high debt burdens due to the pandemic and, in addition, the war and the subsequent sanctions have caused soaring inflation and surging energy prices, exacerbating their financial challenges. This dramatically raises SMEs’ operational costs and worsens their liquidity crunch. 

The uncertainty of macroeconomic recovery due to the war in Ukraine has also led to investors remaining cautious and banks focusing their funding on more conservative, established relationships. 

The "flight to quality" has left many worthy businesses — particularly SMEs — with limited options for trade finance. Smaller companies are often unable to prove creditworthiness or show additional collateral required by banks to mitigate the risk of SME lending under the traditional banking system. Some may also resort to self-financing, which results in more significant cash flow challenges in a sustained crisis.

A recent survey Asian Development Bank (ADB) showed the global trade finance gap grew to an all-time high of US$1.7 trillion in 2020, a 15% increase from 2018. Despite the universal acknowledgement that SMEs are vital to economic prosperity and macroeconomic growth, they accounted for 40% of rejected trade finance requests. Without the short-term liquidity and risk mitigation provided by trade finance, buyers and sellers will be impeded in their efforts to tap into traded goods for recovery. 

One option SMEs can consider is a non-recourse approach for off-balance-sheet financing, which essentially takes away the burden of loans. Suppliers can leverage platforms, such as Incomlend's global invoice financing marketplace, to ask for early payment from their customers via a third-party financier. In effect, they are selling their invoice and obtaining finance without risk. It reduces the risk of late payments and bad debts – an option that would not be offered with traditional banking.

Buyers can also tap similar options by allowing buyers to optimise their cash conversion cycle and extend their payables due date to suppliers, freeing up working capital that would otherwise be trapped in the supply chain. 

Unlike commercial lending or dynamic discounting, such off-balance-sheet financing options allow SMEs to keep a low debt-to-equity ratio and preserve their borrowing capacity while diversifying their access to funding and reducing their reliance on traditional financial institutions. It also helps them mitigate the risk of their receivables and build up economic resilience in these volatile times. 

Hunkering down for uncertain times

Without an end to the conflict in Ukraine, many SMEs will need to build up their resilience and prepare themselves for prolonged volatility. During this period, SMEs in Europe will be challenged to transform their supply chain to buffer against ongoing disruptions and increase their working capital to remain fiscally agile in these uncertain times. These drivers will increase interest in receivables as an asset class among the SME community. They will look for more ways to manage risk in their trade processes and improve liquidity to weather through the storm.   

About the author: Morgan Terigi is CEO and Co-Founder of Incomlend.

Finance Monthly speaks to Saumil Mehta, General Manager of POS at Square, about the company’s new products, increased demand for omnichannel selling post-pandemic, and Square’s goals for the coming years.  

In terms of supporting businesses, what would you say are the best features of Square Loyalty and Square Marketing? 

Both Square Loyalty and Square Marketing have multiple features that are beneficial in the day-to-day running of a seller’s business, as well as the longer term.

Square Marketing simplifies how businesses engage with their customers as it fully integrates with the point-of-sale system as well as all other tools already being used by the business. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to standalone marketing tools is that businesses have to try and engage with their customers from various sources. With Square Marketing, businesses can streamline their communication by integrating with their point-of-sale, online store, invoicing system, appointments software and everything else. In the past, elaborate and effective email campaigns have often taken months to plan and have therefore mainly only been achievable for businesses with more resources and manpower. Square Marketing helps to change this by enabling sellers to create effective campaigns in less time; this means businesses with large marketing teams – and those without – can now reap the benefits. 

Square Loyalty gives businesses the chance to really personalise the customer experience by allowing SMEs to stay on top of the changing needs of consumers, which evolved rapidly over the course of the pandemic. Deloitte research shows customers are looking for a more personalised experience when they shop for products or services - they want their needs anticipated, with offers and product suggestions tailored to their tastes. Square Loyalty lets businesses reward customers wherever they choose, whether that’s in-store or online, encouraging repeat customers through the implementation of a loyalty program built into the point-of-sale.

One of Square Loyalty’s key features is that it enables omnichannel selling. Would you say that there’s now a greater need for businesses to adopt omnichannel selling than there was pre-pandemic?

There is undoubtedly a higher demand for omnichannel selling since the start of the pandemic. Our recent UK research report, The Future of Retail uncovered that 97% of consumers now make monthly retail purchases online and 73% have bought products directly from social media in the past few months. These insights demonstrate that omnichannel selling is here to stay even now that in-person shopping restrictions have been lifted. Not only this, but eCommerce is also becoming an essential offering for businesses, who, without it, fail to tap into a significant portion of their customer base. Square Loyalty helps businesses accommodate this trend by providing an integrated solution to enable omnichannel outreach and sales.

Customers like the ease and convenience that comes with online shopping, but many still value in-person shopping in physical stores. Our same report shows that consumers missed various aspects of shopping in person during lockdown such as browsing through the stores for products (54%) and trying products in store (34%). This is where the benefits of an omnichannel offering come in for customers – they don’t have to choose either/or, but rather have multiple, integrated options open to them at their favourite businesses. For example, they may purchase an item online and then collect it from a physical store of their choosing. Ultimately, omnichannel is about meeting customers where they are and – if done successfully - creates loyal customers. 

With the pandemic still ongoing, it’s likely the demand for omnichannel will only increase as consumers continue to adapt to the ‘new normal’ that involves balancing both everyday activities – like shopping – with existing restrictions and health & safety measures. 

What would Square like to achieve over the next 5 - 10 years?

Saumil Mehta, General Manager of POS at Square

Saumil Mehta, General Manager of POS at Square - Image courtesy of Square

Whether in five years or 10, our mission will remain putting our sellers at the heart of everything we do through our purpose of economic empowerment. As technology advances and consumer demands change,  our products will evolve along with them to ensure business owners have what they need to easily create the ideal user experience for their customers.

Tools like Square Marketing and Square Loyalty are critical in helping shape this trend, by allowing business owners of all sizes and sectors to tap into the changing needs and demands of consumers. Such tech is also crucial to not just building growth, but also supporting the resilience needed to thrive during unforeseen challenges.

Kevin von Neuschatz, Group CEO at Stanhope Financial, explains how the post-pandemic recovery of SMEs can be expedited.

When the full extent of the pandemic was first revealed, governments around the world offered generous loan and furlough support schemes in an effort to keep companies afloat. Yet the fact remains that the majority of businesses will have lost customers, suppliers, and partners during this difficult period, and it will take time for things to return to normal.

Critical Support For SMEs

The pandemic also provided the big banks with the opportunity to offer critical support, and many did so. From mortgage protection plans to low-rate interest loans, there are numerous examples of large financial institutions doing their best to support the recovery. Yet the fact remains that for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) tier one banking services have remained out of reach for many years. This problem first arose during the 2008 financial crash, which triggered recessions in major economies around the world. Credit lines were pulled, due diligence, background checks and borrowing estimates revised, all making it harder for smaller firms to secure credit and finance.

The tidal wave of financial restrictions triggered by the 2008 crash also meant that many big banks withdrew their services from emerging or high-risk markets in an effort to reduce risk. The sad fact is that for many companies seeking access to high quality financial services, from payments to FX support, the banking infrastructure simply no longer exists anymore. 

SME boarded up amid covid-19 pandemicThrow in the chaos of the pandemic, with many businesses struggling to bounce back and the lack of support is profound and urgent. In the UK for example, there are around six million SMEs, which are a major source of employment and support for the wider national economy. Anyone who has ever founded a start-up business knows just how hard it is to attract investment. Many of these organisations are in the early stages of developing their product or service and it can take time to build a strong customer base and accelerate growth. These businesses would also benefit from new talent but paying sky high salaries is often a high-risk strategy when margins are tight. 

The bottom line is that many of these companies need external financial support. Bank lending is the most common source of external finance for many SMEs and entrepreneurs, which tend to be reliant on traditional debt to fulfil their start-up dreams. While it is commonly used by small businesses, however, traditional bank finance poses challenges to SMEs, in particular to newer, innovative and fast-growing companies, with a higher risk-return profile. 

The New Normal For SMEs

While bank financing will continue to be crucial for the SME sector, there is a broad concern that credit constraints will simply become “the new normal” for SMEs and entrepreneurs. It is therefore necessary to broaden the range of financing instruments available to SMEs and entrepreneurs, in order to enable them to continue to play their role in investment, growth, innovation and employment. It is now highly important for SMEs to provide credit as well as have legitimate loans, trading and payments support in the post-Covid climate. SMEs could try crowdfunding, or donations. In recent years, with the support of public programmes, it has become increasingly possible to offer hybrid tools to SMEs with lower credit ratings and smaller funding needs than what would be the practice in private capital markets.

Obtaining access to credit and payments support is critical for many businesses seeking to survive and thrive in a post-Covid economy. The time has come for tier one banking services to be accessible to companies of all sizes, and not just reserved for larger, more established companies.  The answer is to work with specialist fintech providers that can combine speedy online services with actual consultancy and advice to ensure the best products are purchased and delivered. 

For ambitious businesses keen to reboot following the devastation of the pandemic, the time for accessing tier one banking services is now.

Running a business can be highly challenging and sometimes overwhelming for many entrepreneurs. As a business owner, you are responsible for making sure that your company operates proficiently. Aside from the daily tasks that you need to attend to, you also need to ensure that all aspects of your business are running smoothly. It can be overwhelming for many business owners, and that’s why many companies turn to outsourcing to help them manage their businesses. Here are some signs that your business needs the assistance of an outsourcing agency.

You are unable to keep up with demand

Increased demand for your products means that your sales are growing and you are generating higher revenue. While this is a good sign for your business, it also means that you need to work extra hard to fulfil your customer demands. If you have a limited workforce, you might not be able to effectively handle the large volume of orders and meet your deadlines.

With the help of an outsourcing company, you can efficiently manage and accomplish your orders without compromising quality. Outsourcing can enable you to cater to your clients' needs and allow you to focus on other essential aspects of your business.

Lack of progression or plateaued sales

On the other hand, if you notice that your company has not been growing significantly, this is an indicator that an area of your business is struggling. You might be overly focused on accomplishing your administrative tasks that you failed to manage your operations properly. Outsourcing certain aspects of your business can reduce your workload and ensure that every area is adequately attended to. It will also improve your business productivity and performance.

You are constantly stressed out and unproductive

If you constantly feel stressed out and cannot balance all of your responsibilities, outsourcing some of your tasks can help relieve some of the stress. Additionally, if you notice that you need to reset your work-life balance, it is a clear indication that you are unable to manage your time correctly. Outsourcing one or two of your daily tasks can provide you with that needed rest.


You are seeking ways to cut down on operating expenses

If your workforce is limited, hiring additional employees might be more costly than getting the help of a third-party agency. Remember that you need to provide your employees with their salaries and ensure that they are getting the basic benefits mandated by law. Moreover, hiring people can be time-consuming and unproductive, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.

If you choose to work with an outsourcing provider, you only need to pay for the services that your business requires. For instance, if your company is involved in the oil and gas industry and you need assistance with back-office operations, you can work with a reliable outsourcing company that can handle and achieve your business needs.

You can also skip the hiring process and have access to several professional experts. Outsourcing companies routinely train their staff to ensure that their skills remain relevant, so you are guaranteed that your business is up to date with the latest industry trends.

Outsourcing is a great way to save money while generating revenue for your business. Depending on your business needs and focus, outsourcing help can help grow your business.

Starting a new business can be one of the most exciting ventures you pursue in life. The benefits of running your own enterprise include being your own boss and having the flexibility to schedule work around your family responsibilities. However, the perks of being a business owner comes with its own set of risks.

Statistics show that about half of new businesses stop operating within the first five years. While this is quite a sobering reality, it shouldn’t put you off pursuing your business dreams. If you are able to learn from the experiences of others who’ve pursued this path, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to achieve your goals and become a success. Here are a few handy tips to help new business owners get off on the right footing.

Research is Important

Before you get going, do your research. Find out about your competition, marketing platforms and industry trends. Remember that things in the business world change constantly, so it is important to stay ahead of the trends. Furthermore, in this digital age having a strong social media presence is another key factor in a businesses success.

Establish a Business Plan Early

Regardless of how small your business may be, you need a business plan which includes a detailed financial report. The importance of proper financial management is essential in ensuring business survival in this highly competitive environment. Ensure you have a little financial cushioning to carry you through the slower months. If you don’t have a head for numbers, it is worth enlisting the services of an accountant to help you manage the financial aspects of your venture.

Make Connections

Remember that people like doing business with people they know, so get networking. Whether this means attending conferences, joining industry associations or signing up to online forums, meet as many people as you can because you never know where you’ll find your next customer or business partner. The more people you connect with, the more exposure you’ll get for your enterprise.


Be Pragmatic

Things won’t always go to plan in the business world, so as an entrepreneur being a pragmatist is important. Remember your initial idea may not be as lucrative as you once thought, so be willing to change it as you go along. You’ll also need to be realistic and come to terms with the fact that you have your limitations so stay humble and make necessary changes to meet the needs of your market.


Placing all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Regardless of the product you are offering it is important to explore other services that can be used to attract new clients and retain existing clientele. For instance, if you run a restaurant, expanding to provide a delivery service by introducing a kitchen management system could serve to broaden your target market.

Setting up a business requires a lot of hard work and dedication. You’ll need to mentally prepare yourself for the fact that there will be tough times ahead. However, if you believe you have what it takes to succeed, follow these useful tips to ensure you launch a resilient enterprise that stands a chance of thriving in this ever-changing world.

Suppose you wrote a check to a material supplier last week, and unfortunately, the accountant was out sick that day. Meanwhile, you forgot about the check, using your business checking account to make your everyday transactions. The check clears weeks later, and now you are hit with a hefty fee.

With overdraft protection, you could have avoided this hassle, and such a simple mistake wouldn’t have to derail your business operations.

Overdraft protection is a form of credit that the bank extends to business owners to protect them from hefty fees and assist with their operations' seamless running. When a business writes a check for more than the amount available in the account, this triggers overdraft fees which can snowball, costing the business many times over.

With overdraft protection, the bank will automatically "loan" the business money to cover the check's amount when the account does not have sufficient funds to cover it. Typically, the bank will then charge the business a fee of $35 for this service.

Benefits of Overdraft Protection:

1. Prevents Embarrassing Declines

If your salesperson is taking a client out to dinner and there are insufficient funds in the account due to a bookkeeping error, overdraft protection will cover the transaction instead of having your company's card decline in front of your potential client or vendor.

Few things are more embarrassing than giving your business card information to a vendor only to have them call back and tell you that your card declined.

2. Covers Financial Gaps

Small businesses often run on thin margins, and overdraft protection can cover you if you need extra cash in anticipation of income. Perhaps you have an invoice that you expect payment for, but the payment is still days away. You need to pay the utility bills or buy supplies, yet funds are low. Overdraft protection can kick in in an emergency, providing you with the cash you need.


3. Covers Unexpected Expenses

In another scenario, a heavy storm causes water to leak from the roof, leaving your showroom a wet mess. Paying for a contractor to come in and take care of the damage will cost you, but you will still have to pay your employees and your expenses. Overdraft protection will allow you to write the check to the contractor while still keeping your business running.

Overdraft Fees and Small Businesses

While many business owners use overdraft protection to keep their business afloat even when they are low on cash, it is not a magic pill. Each transaction carries a fee, and those fees can add up quickly if you use the service frequently. For instance, taking a client out to a $40 lunch can easily end up costing $75 once you factor in the cost of overdraft protection.

Some banks only charge the overdraft fee if the transaction is greater than $5, which saves you from being hit with $35 in extra fees for miscalculating a dollar here and there. Other banks have a daily limit of how much they will charge in fees, which is particularly helpful to small businesses.

Still other banks allow you to link a credit card or a savings account to your main account and will draw from those in the event of an overdraft. Those transactions' fees are usually much smaller, making them a better fit for businesses on a budget.


When it comes to protecting your business's finances, overdraft protection can give you a safety net in an emergency. Overdraft protection will grant you "leniency" for small accounting errors and provide you with the extra cushion you need in lean times. Many small businesses find overdraft protection a necessary part of overall financial management.

Finance Monthly hears from Menzies LLP business recovery partners Simon Underwood and John Cullen on how owner-managers can overcome restart anxiety.

During the pandemic, a £407 billion support package has enabled many UK businesses to maintain a healthy cashflow and survive to fight another day. However, with the end of Government support on the horizon, many owner-managers may be experiencing ‘restart anxiety’ and be putting off the important decisions needed to future proof their businesses.

By spotting financial red flags and conducting effective scenario planning, owner-managers can take steps to turn their fortunes around and improve their chances of performing successfully when they reopen. They should also investigate their eligibility for the Government’s new Restart Grant, which could provide them with a much-needed cashflow boost over what may be the final few months of lockdown restrictions.

Owner-managers that fail to prepare for the end of coronavirus business support measures could be facing a cliff-edge scenario in a few months’ time. Being able to spot key signs of business stress is essential, allowing them to take action to improve their financial position and rebuild a stronger business.

For example, if owner-managers seem to be spending more time worrying about the business than they do running it, have noticed a dramatic drop in revenues or have paid dividends without sufficient reserves to cover them, action might be needed before it’s too late. Other signs of trouble could include a lack of communication with creditors or an inability to pay debts on time.

Scenario planning can help owner managers to get back on the road to recovery by planning for a number of ‘what if’ scenarios. Three-way cashflow forecasting involves combining a business’ profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and cashflow. In the current uncertain economic environment, this tool can help to facilitate informed decision-making about the business’ future by improving the visibility of costs across the company. This type of cashflow management can also help to convince creditors to flex their payment terms by providing them with greater confidence about when payments can be expected.

Scenario planning can help owner managers to get back on the road to recovery by planning for a number of ‘what if’ scenarios.

To understand if they will be able to operate sustainably once Government-backed support such as grants, loans and the furlough scheme come to an end, business owners must be able to assess their long-term viability. To do this, they should ask themselves questions across four key areas; cashflow, innovation, communication and protection.

For example, questions around cashflow might include asking whether there is enough cash in the bank to pay any outstanding bills and whether there are any outstanding debts that could be called in. ‘Innovation’ should include a consideration of areas such as whether the business is doing enough to adapt to the new normal for its marketplace and take advantage of areas of demand, such as eCommerce. Key questions around communication might include asking how regularly owner managers are keeping in touch with key customers and suppliers, and whether the business is reaching out to lenders if it’s experiencing cashflow difficulties. Finally, ‘protection’ questions might include whether the company has the right insurance cover, including unrestricted business interruption insurance, and whether the owner manager understands their options if the organisation is in cashflow difficulty.

Announced in the Budget on 3 March 2021 and introduced from April, the Government’s new Restart Grant could provide around 700,000 UK business owners with an injection of cash during what is hoped to be the final stage of lockdown restrictions. Replacing the monthly Local Restrictions Support Grant, which closed at the end of March, the grant is aimed at helping businesses that have had to close as a result of lockdown restrictions during the pandemic through to 21 June – the date currently in place for the lifting of lockdown restrictions in England.

Under the scheme, non-essential retail businesses can claim up to £6,000 per premises to help them reopen, while those in hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gyms can receive up to £18,000, depending on rateable values.

To be eligible to claim under the scheme, businesses must be based in England, occupying property on which they pay business rates and must have been required to close because of the national lockdown from 5 January 2021 onwards, or between 5 November and 2 December 2020. The business must also have been unable to provide its usual in-person customer service from its premises. Owner managers can apply for the grant by visiting their local council’s website.


In order to see the true picture of their business’ cashflow, it is vital that owner-managers have the key numbers at their fingertips. By having access to accurate profit and loss balance sheets and other core management data they will be in a better position to make important decisions about their business’ future. Owner-managers should also consider seeking the support of experienced insolvency practitioners, who can help owner managers in assessing the business’ viability and talk through its options for getting back on the road to recovery.

While the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is creating a light at the end of the tunnel for the UK business landscape, the pandemic is far from over and it’s crucial for owner managers to ensure they’re cash-ready for the end of Government support measures. By carefully assessing their financial position and viability, scenario planning and investigating their eligibility for the Restart Grant, owner managers can take back control and prepare for a successful restart.

Non-essential shops and services have reopened across England and Wales as lockdown rules are eased across the UK.

Gyms, hairdressers and zoos can now reopen, while pubs and restaurants are able to host customers in outdoor areas. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people taking advantage of the eased restrictions to “behave responsibly” and continue to exercise advised steps to reduce the likelihood of contracting or spreading coronavirus.

Non-essential shops have been closed since 5 January when a third national lockdown was announced in England and similar measures imposed across the devolved nations. This new easing of restrictions coincides with the relaxing of Northern Ireland’s stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in Scotland and Wales.

58% of small businesses predict that their performance will improve this quarter as a result of these slackening restrictions, the highest proportion since the summer of 2015. Conversely, fewer than 24% anticipate a fall in sales.

“We’ve seen a phenomenal increase in bookings since the government confirmed restaurants can open on Monday,” said Patrick Hooykas, managing director of TheFork, formally known as Bookatable. “This week alone we’ve seen an 88% uplift in bookings.”

The pound also opened the week holding steady following heavy losses in the days prior. The GBP/EUR exchange rate fell over 2% over the past week before settling at €1.1514 on Friday.


As of 05:16 UTC on Monday, GBP/EUR was trading -0.03% at €1.1509.

More than 32 million UK residents have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Last Sunday saw a reported seven deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, the lowest daily total since 14 September.

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