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Start-Up Loans shines a spotlight on “reflecting and planning ahead” for small business owners this September

Written by Richard Bearman on Thursday, 02 September 2021. Posted in Start-up Diaries

We’re at that natural turning point in the year when summer transitions to autumn, people return from their holidays and children go back to school. Known as the ‘September re-set’

Start-Up Loans shines a spotlight on “reflecting and planning ahead” for small business owners this September

Richard Bearman is Managing Director of the Start-Up Loan scheme, a government-backed programme launched in 2012 to provide loans to new and early-stage businesses throughout the UK who may have struggled to access finance (up to £25k) elsewhere. As we enter the last few months of another challenging year, Richard suggests to business owners ways in which they might make the most of what remains of 2021, reflect, and plan for the future.

We’re at that natural turning point in the year when summer transitions to autumn, people return from their holidays and children go back to school. Known as the ‘September re-set’, this month is often used for reflection and refreshing old routines, both in life and in business. 

I’ve always thought this time is particularly useful for small business owners. It is easy for them to get caught up in the day to day, especially when they have been through a period of pressure such as that brought about by the pandemic, and the time to reflect and strategise can feel scarce.

The UK business community has demonstrated amazing resilience in 2021, but all that effort and focus might make it feel impossible to find breathing space. The usual milestones we measure our year by have been disrupted, goals have shifted and plans going forward may seem uncertain. Now, more than ever, it’s important to carve out and protect the time to invest in future planning. 

I’ve spent some time talking with business owners who started up with one of our fixed-interest, government-backed Start Up Loans about how they reflect, reposition and ready themselves for the future. Here’s what they had to say… 

1. Set realistic goals

With a quarter of the calendar year still remaining, September is an ideal time to set some realistic and achievable short-term goals. Step back and think what you’d need to do by the end of 2021 to be satisfied with your business’ success this year, and you’ll be surprised by the motivation these goals offer you as the winter months draw in. 

If you’re struggling to decide on goals, Start Up Loans has a host of free-to-use support and guidance on its ‘Learn with Start Up Loans’ portal that can help clarify your thinking, so why not start with our ‘Setting business aims and objectives’ guide?

2. Take control of your finances

September is the perfect time to get a grip on your finances, allowing you to work out your financial situation ahead of 2022 planning. It can, nonetheless, seem like an overwhelming task. Our Start Up Loans Ambassador for Yorkshire & The Humber and Founder of D&K Accounting, Daniel Edwards, shares 4 easy steps you can take: 

1. Review your expenses. Take your bank statements and mark all the expenses as either:

  • P – Profit driving (things you cannot run your business without)
  • R – Replaceable (things that you can change for a cheaper option)
  • U – Unnecessary (things that you do not need)

2. Move money for yourself!

  • Move a set percentage (we do 6%) of your income to a profit pot and every 3 months reward yourself with half of this money to spend on a treat (or if you’re carrying debt, it would be used on that) and the other half should be spent on building a contingency fund.

3. Reverse engineer your income.

  • Work out how much you want to earn personally, add your expenses and the tax that you will need to pay, then decide how many hours you want to work. This will help you calculate what your service will need to be charged at.

4. Paying tax is a sign of success, not something bad that should be avoided. Make sure to budget for tax and save towards it on a regular basis. 

3. Re-assess your work-life balance 

The September ‘re-set’ shouldn’t just be about your business, but how it fits into your and your colleagues’ lives. Often the reason people founded their own businesses in the first place was to achieve better work-life balance, but if you’re not careful the opposite can happen. 

Our North West Ambassador and Founder of My Outdoor Classroom CIC, Kate Collins, is able to take her two children under six with her to work so doesn’t have to pay for childcare, but this means she has to do the administration side while they are asleep. 

Her tip to balancing work with home-life this September is to work out what works for you, rather than comparing yourself to others, as every business progresses differently, and every family situation is different. 

Kate Collins, Founder of My Outdoor Classroom CIC, said: “I used to look at other similar businesses and wonder why we weren’t as far along in our journey as them, but I now know that growing at our own speed whilst bringing up children is completely fine.” 

As always, I am excited to see how the small business economy kick-starts over the autumn and winter months of 2021 and wish all business owners the best of luck as they transition during this period.

About the Author

Richard Bearman

Richard Bearman

Richard Bearman is the Managing Director of Start Up Loans, a government-backed programme that launched in 2012 to provide loans to people who would traditionally find it difficult to secure finance. Eight years on, the programme has successfully delivered more than £623 million in loans to business owners from under-represented backgrounds across the UK.

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