What’s new for 17-18?

If you’ve engaged in Enterprise & Innovation support through us previously, you are probably wondering what’s happened to the Wednesday IdeasLab and Thursday StartupLab sessions.

We found that so many people were bringing new ideas, having just a couple of fixed-time drop-in sessions per week wasn’t giving everyone enough time and space to get the attention they needed

So, this year we’re opening up more slots and letting you call the shots on when they should happen.  We’re still calling them Labs, but there are now lots of different Lab types to choose from.

How does it work?

The idea is simple – we’ll help you put together a personalised development programme and you work through it at your own pace. Whenever you’re ready to work on something new, you book a Lab session and we’ll supply the space, the know-how, the resources, and, where appropriate, bring in like-minded collaborators.

To make this work though, there are a couple of other things that have changed.

  • Firstly, before you start ‘dropping in’, we’ll ask you to register or re-register by completing a short Registration Form so we can get you into the system.
  • Secondly, we’ll book you in for a 1-2-1 chat (called an IntroLab) so we can find out more about you, what you are trying to achieve and what you are looking for right now.
  • Thirdly, we’ll get you underway so you can start putting together your bespoke development programme from our new menu of different Lab types. Regardless of what you are working on or where you are up to, there’ll be something for you.

To get started right away, please complete the Registration Form.

To find out more about Labs, please visit this page.

GUEST BLOG: How to price your art

Inés Gregori Labarta is a PhD  student in the Department of English & Creative Language, and an avid doodler and illustrator. Here, she shares what she has learned from working with us at our weekly StartupLab and why she finally feels empowered to put a price on her art.

Original image by Inés Gregori Labarta

As an artist, I find it difficult to put a price on what I produce. First because it’s something intimate, like a part of my body, or a memory. Also, creating equals good mental health for me and it’s, plainly, my source of energy. Creators out there, you know where I’m coming from, right? If suddenly all the papers and pencils in the world were gone and I couldn’t write or doodle, I’d automatically go insane – and start seeing faces in my wall, like the protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper. On the other side, I’m a terribly perfectionist artist. I haven’t ironed my clothes for years now but let me tell you I get literally sick every time I see the slightest mistake in my piece. Nothing of what I produce resembles the (perfect) ideals I have in my mind.

Because of all this, every time someone asked me how much I charge for an illustration or story I had no idea what to answer. It could be one thousand pounds – considering that I’m selling something unique and original that, in some cases, has taken years to produce. Or I could also give it for free considering it’s not perfect – what’s perfect in life anyways?

Did you have similar thoughts at some point in your artistic career? Art being priceless, way above money and any other mundane nuisances, or not good enough to deserve some cash. To me the turning point was gaining financial independence by working as a content writer in an office. This came with a realisation; work is great because it can give you freedom (unless you have blue blood running through your veins, of course). But you have to like it, or else it may become torture. I hated my work with a passion – the office environment turned me into a caged ferret and being forced to put quantity before quality when performing any tasks made me feel like a fraud. I put up with it, as I still do with many part time jobs, because, well, I need to, but that made me realise that I wanted to make money with something I enjoyed enough to not mind the downsides – and that has to be art.

I find many artists associate genius with poverty and misery – at the end of the day, Vincent Van Gogh never sold but one painting, and Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe died penniless. This may be rooted in your subconcious too – it was rooted in mine, at least – but as the writer Carolyn Elliot explains in this interview, you can change that. Art and money go hand in hand and hey, that doesn’t make your art dirty or less real.

Just put it this way; when you walk into Sainsburys to buy a loaf of bread, do you expect them to give it to you for free? And when you jump on the bus to go to Uni or work, do you get offended when they ask you to pay for the ticket? Do you scream at the bartender when he’s trying to charge you for a pint on a Saturday night? We live in a capitalist society – and if you don’t like it you can always burn all of your money and go to live Thoreau-like as Christopher from Into the Wild. Time is valuable, and a limited resource, so why wouldn’t it have a price? An alternative would be exchanging your goods for other people’s goods – for instance, you could try to pay for a meal with a doodle on a napkin… but realistically it would take lots of time and discussion. Money is, on the other hand, an easy way for people to show appreciation for what you do.

And this takes me back to pricing. Shall you charge all or nothing for your art? Luckily, pricing can be resolved in a logical and easy matter, so next time someone asks you how much you charge for painting or writing you can give a quick answer full of confidence – instead of blushing thinking “oh-how-can-someone-pay-for-this” and mumbling a random number. (Yes I’ve been there too). This article by Amanda Brooks from the Enterprise Centre taught me in about twenty minutes how much should I charge for my art and – more importantly – why that particular number and not another. If you want to honour your artistic gift and make it a way of living, check it out!

If like Inés, you find it difficult to know how much to charge for your work, or if you’re looking to start making money from your creative talents, get in touch.

LU graduate in Forbes top 30 under 30 Europe: Finance

Forbes recently revealed their top 30 under 30 in the Finance industry, with a former Lancaster University student making the list.

Daumantas Dvilinskas (Business Studies, 2007 – 2010) attended one of the Enterprise Team’s very first bootcamp events and was an active student entrepreneur. Now the co-founder of TransferGo, a high-growth digital global money transfer service, Daumantas is well known in the fintech scene.

Other under 30s in the list include young professors, CEO’s of fintech startups and entrepreneurs creating digital financial market places. In years gone by, the top 30 would have included traders, bankers, fund managers and other traditional financial jobs whereas 2017’s list reflects the vast changes within the sector.

Congratulations Daumantas!

The Business Finance Guide – An Invaluable Business Tool

To help you make the right financing decisions for your business…

Put together by the British Business Bank and ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty, with contributions from 23 bodies, the business finance guide is an invaluable tool for entrepreneurs starting a business or directors managing established, growing companies of all sizes.

The guide provides a comprehensive overview of financing options available to businesses at all different stages of growth. Financing decisions are critical and thus awareness of the choices available is crucial in helping businesses to make well informed decisions.

There is both a print version and an interactive online version available. The interactive version neatly guides you through each stage of the financing journey.

Click here for more information and access to the guides.

The Hidden Cost of Kickstarter

Kickstarter and the Tax Bill

kickstarter tax2If you’re planning on raising capital for your project or startup you might have considered creating a Kickstarter campaign; it’s an easy way to hit the jackpot and get started, right? But what about the tax implications of crowdfundng?

Crowdfunding is not comparable to a lottery win; it isn’t a tax free jackpot or a pot of gold exempt from the normal business, legal, and financial regulations. Rather, crowdfunding and Kickstarter campaigns should be viewed in the same way as any other type of income; you will be liable for tax and you should seek financial advice (read Kickstarter’s official advice here).

For example, a startup sending their backers/contributors some sort of reward, or goodies in return for their backing, will more than likely be viewed as a traditional business selling goods and services, and therefore the usual rules on tax will apply.

We would always encourage you to try new things and test your ideas, and Kickstarter is a great platform for raising money for your project or startup; that being said, if you are going to generate your income in this way, be prepared to factor in the tax bill which will inevitably arrive at your door. Take financial advice, be clued up on the reality of raising a “quick buck” and work out a realistic financial plan.

Read more here.

Financial Blockbuster

Last week I went to an event Higher Education Entrepreneurship Group event on Financial Literacy for Entrepreneurship: What to teach, and how?

This event focused on what’s important for students of enterprise and potential entrepreneurs to learn about accounting and finance, and how best to teach it.

It was an opportunity to discuss, share practice, get new ideas, and network with colleagues across the sector.

One of the most engaging and accessible sessions of the day was by Lionel Bunting of the University of Chichester, who brought a little glitz and glamour to the more mundane aspects of business planning.

Lionel showcased a creative and practical approach, designed to change the way students see and think about business problems and aspects that they’re more likely to shy away from.

With his contextualised real world based exercise; a film festival, he gives students the opportunity and ability to get to grips with all aspects of planning such as operations, marketing, generating income and forecasting sales. Setting up a business can be fun, teaching students practical enterprise skills should be equally as fun.

The talk and presentation was based on a case study workshop Lionel developed on the planning and costing out of a film festival event for an independent cinema. The workshop enables students to work with and develop a range of enterprise and employability skills as well as learn about a business model and sector.

There were other great examples of best practice shared on the day and you can see some of them here.

To hear about best practice we’re sharing on, please register with LEEN (Lancaster University Enterprise Educators Network) and to share yours drop us a line and we will happily post about it on our blog.

MOOC: The Importance of Money in Business

MOOC to develop your commercial awareness & financial knowledge, starts 7th March

mooc money in business2Free Future Learn online course for greater understanding of the role money plays in business success.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur in the making, or you’re looking to work for an established business when you leave University, here’s an opportunity to improve your commercial awareness by completing a Future Learn course in conjunction with the University of Leeds.

Over four weeks you’ll get insights from business professionals and entrepreneurs from adidas, PwC, FitFlop and M&S (to name but a few of the companies involved) about dealing with financial matters and understanding financial strategies for growing a business.

By signing up to the course you’ll have access to videos, animation, interview and top tips. You’ll also have the opportunity to map your skills and demonstrate your commitment to developing your commercial awareness – a crucial skill required by many graduate  employers. This isn’t just a course for future accountants and financiers; understanding the importance of money in business development is relevant across a variety of career paths.

Find out more about the course here and sign up.

Free online webinars with HMRC for those self assessment nightmares!

Are you filing your self assessment returns this week?sa tax return2

If you’re struggling to fill out your self assessment tax forms this week, and are dreading the thought of spending endless hours waiting for HMRC to answer your call, log on to their online sessions and get the advice you need.

Although they won’t be able to give you assistance with your personal details, HMRC representatives will answer your general questions and queries on the following dates;

  • 28th January 2016 – 1pm – 3pm
  • 29th January 2016 – 10am to midday
  • 29th January 2016 – 1pm – 3pm
  • 30th January 2016 – 9am to midday
  • 31st January 2016 – 10am – 1pm

Don’t worry though, if you can’t make any of these times, there are some short videos on the HMRC YouTube account which cover topics like: registering for Self Assessment, paying your bill, important dates and what to do when you can’t pay your tax bill.

Click here to access HMRC guidance.

Gain £3k for your social enterprise with Shared Future & UnLtd

Shared Future CIC holding North Lancashire PIP Awards: 4th Feb 2016

shared futures2

Shared Future CIC, local Lancaster based community interest company, are running the North Lancashire PIP Awards Programme; a unique opportunity to pitch for up to  £3000 funding for your social enterprise.

What is a PIP?

A participatory investment programme enables organisations to generate new income through social enterprise by taking on contracts, receiving social investment and loans as well as entering into new partnerships and collaborations. Investments made through this programme are non repayable, but should facilitate social and environmental benefits and change.

How do I apply?

Applications for a PIP award are welcome from new social enterprises from start-up to 1 year in operation who are based in and around North Lancashire. Funding will be awarded in two levels and applicants may request up to £500 or £3000. You must demonstrate how an award will enable you to generate future income through trading in goods or services or new public sector contracts for a social or environmental benefit.

In order to apply, you should submit a short application by 1pm, Wednesday 20th January. Successful applicants will then be invited to pitch their idea at the event on the evening of Thursday 4th February where an expert panel and audience will vote to decide which projects should receive funding; up to £20,000 will be distributed on the night, so don’t miss out.

Download the application form and guidance information on the Shared Future CIC website here.

Where can I get more information?

It is recommended that you get in touch with the Shared Future team before applying to confirm your eligibility and find out further information about the award and event.

Startup Loans available to new businesses

Changes made to Startup Loans are good news for businesses


Businesses less than three years old are now eligible for Startup Loans – with a quick turnaround, free business mentoring, and flexible lending period.

Startup Loans are available for up to £25,000 and applicants 18 or over can apply for funding to support their new business with a 60 months repayment period; good news for early stage startups in need of a cash influx. This is a government funded scheme which provides advice, loans and mentoring – by taking out a secure loan with the company, you have access to a comprehensive support package to ensure your business success.

Find out more here.