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Celebrating small businesses is at the heart of what we do, so we have teamed up with West Bromwich Albion FC and Birmingham Post to invite businesses in the West Midlands to share their success stories with us for a chance to take their business to the next level.

Success comes in many shapes and forms – what might be just a small footnote in the history for one business could be considered a great triumph for another. Whether you are a one-person-band running a local shop or employ a few people in an office space, we want to know what makes your business tick.

In return you could win a prize package worth £15,000 to grow your business; including £5,000, a full page article in the Birmingham Post newspaper, advertising at the West Bromwich Albion v. Queen Park Rangers game with a day out at the Hawthorns, a two-year subscription to QuickBooks Online  and 6 hours of consultation with business experts.

The contest is for any small business in the West Midlands area – simply tell us about your biggest business success story and your vision for developing your business in 2015. You can submit your entry at www.quickbooks.co.uk/success from now until 1st of March 2015.

The sings from the recent Autumn Statement suggest the scene is set for small businesses to prosper, in part due to the boost in bank lending which will create a genuine funding option for entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2015. Intuit Vice President and UK Country Manager, Rich Preece, gives his thoughts on the top five trends for small businesses over the next 12 months.

 

1)      The high street will undergo a revolution

In recent years, we’ve seen the revival of the high street, with the number of pop-up shops and restaurants across the country expected to grow by 8.4 per cent over the next 12 months. Movements such as #SmallBizSat are doing a lot to get more shoppers through the doors of local businesses, with some traders reporting takings were up by around a third after this year’s event.

 

2)      More British SMEs will spread their wings

The Government is keen to get more SMEs selling abroad, as shown by the UKTI’s recent Explore Export Week. Yet SMEs currently account for just 20 per cent of British exports, leaving plenty of opportunity for growth. As we see in the British Chambers of Commerce review, the trend for Q4 2014 export balances are equal to the average 2007 pre-recession levels within manufacturing.  If this continues this is a positive trend for 2015.

 

3)      SMEs will have increasing legislation to tackle

While the Government’s auto enrolment regulations were first introduced in 2010, most SMEs’ staging dates will take place from 2015 onwards, depending on their size. Despite the impact that this legislation could have on their bottom line, many local businesses remain unaware of how to make themselves compliant, or even what it is.

 

With so much confusion surrounding the new legislation, accountants and technology providers need to work closely with their small business customers to ensure everything is in place for their staging date and, crucially, to manage it in the future.

 

4)      Crowdfunding will become the norm

So far, using crowdfunding as a means of financing businesses has been somewhat of a novelty compared to the traditional approaches such as bank loans, venture capitalists and even credit cards: 2015 will be the year that crowdfunding comes into its own.

 

5)      Flexible working will become mainstream

Cloud technologies will continue to facilitate the increasing trend to work virtually and in real time with our colleagues and customers. This makes it easier and more cost effective for SME owners to run their businesses more efficiently. This cloud revolution is extending to how SMEs manage their finances, with up to half set to adopt cloud-based accounting software by 2016.

 

 

We want to know what trends you think will impact small businesses this year. Leave your comments below or tweet us @QuickBooksUK.

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At Intuit, there’s little we value more than spending time with accounting professionals, so we’re thrilled to announce we will be hosting a number of events across the country in February and March. The events are dedicated to helping attendees learn how to save valuable time and money and, in turn, take their practices to the next level. We’ll be bringing together a team of experts, including Intuit employees and industry thought leaders, who will tackle some of this year’s hottest topics.

Over the course of the day, attendees can expect to:

  • Hear from experts and guest speakers about the biggest challenges facing accounting professionals and small businesses in 2015 and what this means for their practice
  • Meet industry peers who will share their own experiences of taking clients into the cloud and how they’ve accessed the great benefits the cloud brings
  • Learn more about QuickBooks Online, allowing accountants and their clients to work remotely and collaborate for financial reporting, freeing up time to focus on delivering more strategic advice

Here are the dates for our upcoming series of free events:

  • Exeter – 24 February 2015
  • London – 26 February 2015
  • Coventry – 3 March 2015
  • Manchester – 4 March 2015
  • Edinburgh – 5 March 2015

For more information, or to secure your spot today, visit: intuit.me/1wTkg4m

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Many small and medium business owners consider creating a video for their businesses, but don’t know where to begin. They are usually put off by the potential cost, don’t understand the ROI or simply don’t know where to begin.

Michal Dzierza from Meehow Media (meehow.co.uk) deals with the most common myths about video production for small and medium businesses:

 

“My clients are not interested” 
There are many reasons why a business decides to invest in video. Communicating with existing clients is one of them. But how about using video to reach new prospects, new markets or even new partners?

Video content marketing is fast becoming one of the most powerful – and cost-efficient – tools for small and medium businesses. The power of social media means you can easily reach new clients or markets and – if you provide valuable content – build up trust and recognition, which can then turn into sales.

 

“I have nothing to sell”
Your company may not produce any physical goods, but you or your colleagues certainly have expertise in a certain field. For example, you are an accountant or a lawyer or an interior designer. Your knowledge can be translated into a number of videos – educational, inspirational, aspirational – which will give you an advantage over your competition.

Your current or future clients or partners will also see who they are dealing with and will be more inclined to trust someone they can relate to.

 

“It’s probably too expensive”
You need to define your audience, the purpose of the video and your ideal format. Only then will you be able to gauge how much you need to invest in a video. Can it be done by one person who helps you with the script, films, edits and delivers the final product? Or do you need a complex production involving a bigger crew, multiple locations or special effects? It’s unlikely to be the latter, so do proper planning and research first.

 

“Business video = corporate video = boring”

I think we can all agree that the era of dull corporate videos with a bunch of suits presenting the visual equivalent of a spreadsheet is mostly over. Audiences demand much more than an anodyne CEO-fronted video aimed at no one in particular.

 

Always choose the right format. A talking head video is not the only option available to businesses. You can create a short documentary, commission an animated video, publish instructional videos, product overviews, etc.

 

If you know your audience, you can make your videos really exciting, informative and as different from the clichéd corporate video as possible. And your audiences – and clients – will notice.

 

“I can’t do it myself”
Of course you can. There are multiple video platforms and distribution channels, many of which involve the use of mobile phones. Apps like Vine or Instagram can easily be used by small businesses to share anything from advice and information, to product overviews, Q&As and even office tours. This small design business for example uses 6-second Vine clips to showcase the packaging they designed for clients: https://vine.co/v/bnurH3YYqLL

If you do go down that route however, have a look at what others are doing, how they are doing it, what response they are getting and think if this is something you could do. Oh, and make sure you know how to use the app and do some research on basic editing, audio and lighting.

 

“I only need one video”
If you’re thinking of putting a welcome video on your homepage, then maybe. But video content marketing is only effective if you invest time in a number of videos that provide value, educate or even entertain, and you produce them consistently. Building an audience takes time. And it’s difficult to do it with just one video.

 

“It won’t give me any new clients, there’s no ROI”
Video, particularly when done as a series, may take time to bring you a return on investment. Most businesses choose to host their videos on platforms like YouTube. This allows them to embed them on their sites without investing in additional solutions, and provides users with an easy way of sharing such content on social media and elsewhere.

But depending on your area of expertise, the competition on YouTube might be fierce and you may need to promote your videos more actively to help people notice them. If your videos are genuinely useful or helpful, you stand a much better chance of reaching new clients and building trust.

 

“There’s no room for videos on my site”
Visual content appeals to people more than words. Do a quick audit of your website. Does your site have a Q&A section? Do you have a blog? Are there text-heavy areas that would work better with a short video instead?

 

Look for valuable, shareable content that translates easily into video. Or create new content that attracts users to as particular section of your website. Chances are they’ll remember a 90-second video better than a dry, 1000-word article.

 

“Only short form works”

It’s true that our attention spans are getting shorter. Viewers usually decide within the first 5-10 seconds whether a video is worth their time. So don’t waste this time on unnecessary explanations, intros, titles or anything that doesn’t provide any value.

 

But if the nature of what you are trying to show does require a lot of time, don’t be afraid to go over the sacred 2-minute mark. Sometimes you do need more time to explain or show something. Just use that time wisely and always think whether your audience is getting good value from your video.

 

“My cousin has a camera, he can do it”
Oh, careful. Now you’re skating on thin ice. These days everyone has a camera on their phones, but that doesn’t mean everyone can make a professional video. There are plenty of people out there willing to create a video for free or almost nothing. But the price your business will pay when the video backfires is definitely not worth it.

 

Michal Dzierza is a filmmaker and photographer, who helps brands and businesses tell their story on video. Find him on Twitter (twitter.com/michald) or  visit his company site meehow.co.uk. For his personal work go to dzierza.com 

From the 1st of January 2015, a new VAT system is coming into play, which impacts businesses in the EU who provide Digital services.

You can find out more: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vat-supplying-digital-services-to-private-consumers/vat-businesses-supplying-digital-services-to-private-consumers

 

This impacts some of our QBO users; below is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your QBO platform for the VAT MOSS system.

 

I’ll explain what you need to do if you fall into one of these 2 scenarios:

 

SCENARIO ONE:  “I’m already VAT registered and currently complete a UK VAT return and now I’m also impacted by the EU digital services rule.”

PLEASE NOTE: if you’re supplying to businesses in the EU (B2B), do not do the following, this guide is only if you’re supplying consumers (B2C). If you’re not sure, read the guidance above and get in contact with your accountant and HMRC.

 

Step 1

You’re already tracking your UK VAT in QBO, so let’s create a new Tax agency to separate out the UK VAT return and the EU Digital supplies you make to consumers. A Tax agency is simply another word for ‘VAT Return’. You are going to create a New VAT Return called the VAT MOSS (return).

Click on the VAT Tab > Click on ‘New Tax’ > ‘A Custom Tax’ > Next

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Now, Complete Box that appears – this flow will help create your first EU tax code and also the agency’ (New Tax Return -called VAT MOSS) the example in the image is if I was creating a French Tax code TVA, and I want to call my new Agency’, ‘VAT MOSS’. I recommend you speak to your accountant/HMRC before completing the set up below if you’re unsure of any dates or information.

You’ll need to fill out the following:

  • Tax Name: The name of the EU Tax code you want to create, in my example I’ve called it VAT MOSS France… you can call it ‘France Tax’, or ‘FR’ for example
  • Tax Agency: Name it ‘VAT MOSS’
  • Registration Number: Your UK VAT Registration Number starting with GB
  • Filing Frequency: Quarterly
  • Reporting Method: Standard / Cash
  • Tick, ‘This Tax is collected on Sales’ > Next

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Now from here, you will find the screen below. Enter in the tax rate (just type in the amount and ignore placing a % sign) then click “Done”.

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Now you’ve achieved 2 things:

1)      You have created a new ‘VAT return’ called the ‘VAT MOSS’

2)      You have also created a new tax code called ‘VAT MOSS France’

On your VAT tab now, you will see your normal UK VAT return called simply ‘VAT’ the rectangular box at the top, then underneath you will see another box called VAT MOSS. Why is this so helpful? You can track both your UK VAT position and your VAT MOSS position from one screen.

We haven’t finished – now imagine you also supply consumers in Spain. You now need to create the Spanish TAX code…you may also want to know what exactly is the VAT rate in Spain, check this link: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/tic/public/vatRates/vatrates.html

Click on ‘New Tax’ > but this time, on the pop up, we’re going to click on ‘An additional Tax code’ > Next

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Now do the following to create a Spanish VAT code:

  • Tax Name: Call it what you like – I’ve called my one ‘Spain VAT’ or call it ‘VAT MOSS SPAIN’
  • Tax Agency: It’s key to select the new ‘Agency/Tax return’ in my example it’s the ‘VAT Moss’
  • Tax applies to: ‘Sales’
  • Rate: Just the Tax rate (without the %)
  • Show Tax amount on the return line: Tax Collected on Sales
  • Show Net amount on the return line: Total Taxable sales in period before Tax.
  • Then Click ‘Done’
  • You now have a French VAT code and a Spanish VAT code.

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Now you want to create a Sales invoice to Julien in Paris, how would this look in QBO? In this example, I’ve created a new Customer called ‘Julien’ – remember he’s in France consuming my digital services and I’ve agreed to invoice him in Euros. I’ve also under ‘Notes’ within Julien customer card, noted down supporting evidence just as his IP address or ANY other note about him such as the buyers location info. Remember to select his Currency as ‘Euros’

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Now on his invoice, I’ve done the following:

I’ve selected the correct VAT rate ‘VAT MOSS France’ and then saved.

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Now in the VAT tab, you can see the Sale automatically updated under the VAT MOSS box.

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<<If you want to make any Currency adjustments, do the following>>

It’s now the end of the quarter and I need to file.  If you now need to adjust the currency you’ve used (take advice from an accountant). The European Central Bank currencies are updated and listed here: https://www.ecb.europa.eu/stats/exchange/eurofxref/html/index.en.html

In QBO, if you need to make adjustments you can do so by doing the following:

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Now select the invoices you may want to adjust and manually type in the rate from the ECB on the last working day of the quarter.

Manually enter the FX rate. It’s always good to note down a memo and select the invoices that are applicable.

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Now when it comes to filing, you can click on ‘Prepare return’ from the ‘VAT Tab’ for the VAT MOSS’ agency and ensure your dates are correct for your MOSS VAT quarterly return:

Box 2 shows the total taxable sales before tax.

Box 5 shows the total amount of all the VAT you’ve collected from all your sales around the EU, so in this example it’s the total VAT on sales to Spain (21%) and France (20%)

Now in QBO when you’re ready, click on ‘mark as filed’

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However you also need to complete your return to HMRC, so you need a breakdown of the sales by EU nation and Tax code.

Click on Reports > All Reports > Manage VAT > VAT Liability Report

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Now in this report you’ll see:

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If you wanted to further analyse the sales that make up the Net Amounts, click on the ‘Net Amount figures’ and it will bring up all the invoices that were marked with for e.g. VAT MOSS France.

Click on Excel or click in to the net amount and then use that report for your VAT MOSS return that you will complete on HMRCs site.

 

Now…. In SCENARIO 2-

If you’re not yet VAT registered but are planning to as you are impacted by the EU VAT MOSS ruling, speak to an accountant and/or HMRC around the requirement of having to register for VAT to get a VAT Registration number but not needing to track VAT on your normal UK supplies and expenses.

Once you have received guidance, you should click on the VAT Tab to set up your UK VAT return (as per above in Scenario 1) Enter in your UK VAT number and select Quarterly as your Filing frequency. The VAT Month start period is normally provided by HMRC, again contact your accountant if you’re unsure of any aspect of setting your VAT in QBO.

If the majority of your transactions are actually UK based supplies and expenses (but you’re planning to providing a ‘Nil’ return to HMRC as you’re below the VAT threshold), then do the following below, it will save you time when creating expenses, bills, invoices for your UK based customers.

The Settings Cog > Company Settings>

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Click on Advanced > Accounting > Default Tax Rate > select ‘NO VAT’ as the setting ‘SAVE’ then done.

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This means that all your transactions will default to ‘NO VAT’, which is fine for the UK transactions you have (if you don’t want to account for the VAT on these UK based transactions), but for the EU transactions which are covered by VAT MOSS will need to make adjustments to the invoice when creating it.

This is in more detail explained below:

So for Julien again, when I create an Invoice, there is no VAT column showing, you will need to do the following each time you sell to Julien in France on the invoice:

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Select Exclusive or Inclusive as per your liking but then under the VAT Column below on the invoice, select the VAT code you’ve created earlier, for Julien it was VAT MOSS FRANCE. Then hit save to save the invoice.

Repeat this every time you need to sell to your EU consumers who consume your digital services.

When it comes to filing, follow the steps in Scenario 1 as it’s all applicable. The difference being, your UK VAT Return will be ‘£0’ but your VAT MOSS return will have an amount.

Thanks, get in touch with our support team if you have any Questions on how to do this in QBO.