Clueless about VAT?

New HMRC e-learning guide for getting started with VAT


VAT can be difficult to get your head around and knowing whether or not you need to be VAT registered is not easy. Learning the benefits of choosing to register for VAT and the processes required is an important consideration when working on your business model canvas, for example.

In response to the confusion which can arise, HM Revenue and Customs have produced an e-learning tool with useful tips and case studies to guide you through VAT. This will be invaluable if you are in the process of setting up your business.

You can access the guide here.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Innovation Showcase Competition

Venturefest: Innovation Showcase Competition


The Innovation Showcase is the centrepiece of Venturefest Manchester and is set to feature some of the region’s most innovative businesses, who will have won the right to pitch their business ideas to potential investors in the Venturefest audience.

And that business could be yours.

The overall winner will also receive a unique package of business support worth up to £30,000 and including a year’s free space at the Sci-Tech Daresbury, support around accountancy, patents and legal issues and a range of marketing and PR services. Applicants can pitch for the competition prize alone if investment is not required.

This year’s competition is open to both Start-up (businesses under 3 years old) and Growth businesses (businesses trading 3 years+).

To enter, please fill in the relevant form. Please note the closing date for applications is now MIDNIGHT 24th JUNE. If you have any queries please contact

Key dates

Thursday 28 May – Innovation Showcase competition opens

  • Friday 19 June – Closing date for entries
  • Thursday 25 June – Shortlist for those to take part to next stage revealed
  • W/c 13 July – Practice session with Business Growth advisors and Access to Finance
  • W/c 24 August – Final Practice session
  • Tuesday 01 September – Finalists selected to pitch at Venturefest to be revealed

Find out more about Venturefest Manchester 2015 and book your place today

3 steps to better cash flow

Cashflow problems? Free mobile app to help manage your moneycashflow2

Once you’ve started your business, and money starts going in and out of your account, managing your cashflow can become daunting.

Sage One is a simple online accounts and payroll service for small businesses and enables users to create and send professional invoices, record expenses and manage your products and services lists.

Whilst you might expect to pay a small fortune for such a service, Sage One are offering a free mobile app, recommended by small business owners. However, if you are willing to pay for such a service, prices start from £6.00 per month, including 24/7 advice and support- for some this might be a worthwhile investment.

For further information, click here.

Are you charging enough?

7 Easy steps to calculate how much your product will cost.

Last week I was working with a Lancaster University student Oliver Bradley-Baker who is a first year Art student and a talented film maker. You can see his show reel here.

Ollie and I were discussing the challenges of potentially starting up, costing your work and knowing how much to charge, to ensure that you are covering your overheads, your job or material costs and earning the right price for your time and your talents.

In their series ‘Create a business you are proud of’ the Design Trust have written a really helpful series of articles on subjects ranging from, calculating how much your product or service will cost, to different ways to price, how to handle clients who say you charge too much and the one I like is ‘how to avoid being a starving creative.’

The articles are really helpful, but to work on your figures and the different iterations of your costing options you need a tool to play with. What I came up with is attached. It has been sanity checked by a few business and numbers people so it should be good to go.

You can access it here.

Any feedback always welcome  – warts and all!

Thank you to Patricia van den Akker at the Design Trust for the great on-line article that helped me to put this together. The Design Trust website is well worth signing up to for advice, competitions and other forthcoming opportunities.