Financial Support for Small Businesses & Self-Employed | Business Survival Livestream 005

Simon and Alan are joined by Accountant Emma Cooke to answer questions about furlough, self-employment support and the finance issues and opportunities for small businesses right now. RECORDED LIVE: 31st March 2020 Emma’s Blog at Millward, May & Co:

Note: This transcription has been generated with AI and there may be errors present. 


We’re live. I think we are. Well, this is great, Alan, it’s just you and I for now. But the co founder, and accountant and all round triathlon superstar that is MMA is going to be joining us in a bit. And she’s out for her daily exercise currently, but she’s going to be jumping on the call, and which is brilliant, because we get to ask her all of the difficult questions that she’s been answering on a daily basis about self employed people, about people that are directors of their own company. And she’s got a really interesting perspective on furlough, and what that means and the other support that’s out there for companies. And she’s been right at the sharp end of that. So it’s brilliant that we’ve got me on, I think you’ll notice that my background is slightly different than last time, I just wanted to point out that this is what the pop up business school looked like, about four weeks ago. And this is what it looks like now.

We we are sort of coping with our new reality. And I think that was one of the things that we were going to chat about tonight. So the plan for this evening is we’re going to share some of our thoughts and experiences, both in terms of our, you know, personal lives and about coping with what’s going on at the moment. But we’re going to pivot quite quickly into the business, what’s the new reality for us as a business? And how have we responded to that? And also, we’re going to have a little look about certainty, and about when things are uncertain. And we feel like we need some certainty in our lives. Where do we go and hunt for it? How do we get it? And how do we get ourselves in the right headspace to get creative and start solving the problems, which is really tough to do when you’re feeling a little bit anxious about what’s happening around us and the world shifting and the world’s changing. So before I pass over to Alan, who I know has got some stuff to share about the new reality because things have been moving very fast in your lives, as well as it has everyone else’s Alan, please like this post, please tag your friends and family that either have small businesses or self employed. And please share it because what’s happening over the next few weeks is that we are starting to ramp up the content engine and we’re going to be having a daily schedule of stuff that’s going out specifically designed to help people we’re getting a whole bunch of experts in as well as sharing our own knowledge and experience. So please like, comment, share, tag the folks that you think might get some value from this. And frankly, just a chance to take a different a different spin and a different look into what’s happening in the world and how we might navigate our way through the choppy waters. That’s probably won’t won’t be my last dodgy metaphor of this evening, Alan. When we say again,

we’ve actually got this live stream seems to be a collection of all my favourite people in the world. Simon, I don’t know if you’ve seen news watching. I have Coombs, Teresa Allen, Jackie Marsh, Alex, me, James headspace, Russell. Kathy, is watching Hello, Kathy. And Ben Perrault from the USA seems to be everyone has tuned in which I’m very happy Hello to everyone. And actually, so let’s talk current reality. Simon was the one that actually introduced me to this tool called current reality. And it’s something you used to do. At the beginning of every collaborative session that he ran was he would get the companies to go through what’s our current reality? What’s great about life, and what’s not working so well. And I think the first step to change is realising where you are, and what restrictions you’ve got. And I think that settling into the reality of life that has just happened to us. It’s something that we all need to do right now. So it’s checking in, going, okay, current reality. Yes, I’m stuck at home. I have time to do all the Yoga I could ever want. And focusing on this. I love this. I hate this. This is great. This is not so good. And I would do anything to change that. But it’s that realising what your reality is, I think is one of the most important things any of us can do. Yeah, and to adjust to it, you have to acknowledge it.

I think that’s an excellent point. And I learned that from brilliantly from My last boss. And I think the reason that we were doing the current reality before you go and solve the problems was that, and I sort of liken it to Lisa. So Lisa runs a business up in Bolton and I saw a message on the post that I did earlier on. And she was kind of going, look how, how the are we gonna work this out? We this is tough. This is really, really tough. And I think there is a risk that when you’re trying to solve problems that if you come at it with a sort of fingers in your ears, lalalala, everything’s Klein, everything’s fine, we can come up with some new ideas in the world is great. It doesn’t feel right. And there’s something that’s missing. And that’s because we’ve not allowed ourselves the chance to, to say how we feel about the good stuff and say how we feel particularly about the problems and the challenges. So it’s almost like, you’ve got to get that stuff out of the wave first, before you can kind of galvanise yourself, your team or your family around what the problem is, and then start start solving it. So yeah, I think I think we did a little bit of that today. In fact, we’ve been doing that over the last couple of weeks with the team. And it’s not an easy thing to do, because sometimes it sounds a little bit scary. But it’s painful. Yeah, but we can’t, we can’t go and solve the problems until we know exactly where we are, and how we feel about where we are to.

And I think this tool that we’re talking about works as well for relationships, for your family, for your business. And I would suggest you actually do this with your family. Okay, so what’s the current reality? Well, we’re stuck in the house. We can’t go out for more than x, we’ve got to do this, this and this. And acknowledging those real factors is going to help the whole family to become more comfortable with it, then it doesn’t become something we just don’t talk about. We suppress. One of the things that I hate most about the British culture is the suppression of problems in emotions and we just don’t talk about it. But talking about what’s real and talking about what is happening to us and our feelings is so important to get through it. So important.

And love that so I’ve got a couple of messages to check in on the thread. Before we move on, and I think MMA is going to join us very shortly. She’s if you miss the start, she’s the co founder of an accountancy firm in Wokingham called Millwood Mae and CO Emma is our accountant. She’s been with us since the start. And really looking forward to chatting with Emma and she’s got great perspective and great insights on the problems facing self employed on the problems facing businesses and company directors and and employees to she’s looking at it from both sides. So if you’ve got any questions, Emma, about your business and about the support that’s available, if you need something explained, please stick your question in the thread underneath. And then we’ll do our best to get Emma to answer the question. And I know that she’s about to join us. So we might get a random Bing bong and he short any moment and shortly. Emma particularly loves difficult questions about furlough and government support available so save your best questions for her? And I’m sure I’m sure that she won’t mind answering. So question from Carrie Barton Allen, what’s the post it notes on the wall? The pain can you share them?

Yeah. The post it notes are on the wall are actually from a virtual games evening that we had with my friends Kathy Jane and Jamie this weekend. This was my wife was a statistician at heart. So she did some calculations as who had the most Facebook friends who had Facebook friends in common, how many years and days we’d known each other. And she gave us a quiz. And we’ve got part two of the quiz this Saturday night I think unless we’re on a flame a plane back to England. So we’ve been doing our best in the Donegan household to connect with friends have games. And yeah, keep mood and energy on the hi.

Beautiful. We’ve got James and Alex from the team even guys, Kelly and Joanne Great to see you on here. And Caitlin as well Caitlin is head of healthy snacks for the whole of London and she is my healthy snack dealer. And actually I need to call it magic because the the stuff that you that you got me was brilliant. It that that’s for sure to raise. Thank you for your lovely message and Thank you for your support. As I promised to email you, I haven’t forgotten you, Emily. So Emily has commented that the problem is humans is that we need time to adjust our current reality, which we can totally do given time and space. But the problem facing self employed business owners is that there isn’t time. And it’s a real push and pull. What does that make you think? And the challenge of, yeah, I need time to get my head around the shock of what’s going on. But my business doesn’t allow me to take too much time out. I need to get on and make stuff happen. What are your thoughts on that?

It’s actually, so one of the challenges, but also one of the good things is the speed of reaction to these things, and how much processing time you have got for it. Now, Simon was joking with my wife, Katie about the pressure earlier that I put on us to do things. But the key here is the processing time. And what I’d recommend to everyone listening, and what I’m doing is journaling through it, writing about what’s happened, and laying out my thoughts as best as I can. Once I can get my thoughts out on paper, I can analyse them, I can look at them, I can float above them, and see which ones helped me which ones don’t, then it’s about the speed of reaction. And the speed of reaction is the key bit here. Simon was telling the story of us in the early days, and we had an idea for a TV show called Job Centre, millionaires. And by the time we’d had the idea, I think I’d already pitched it to the DWP and several other people. But you’re gonna have to react quickly. And I think, rightly or wrongly, it’s the people who react quickly to this and take action that are going to survive the most the people who are slow to this and sit around waiting, they’re going to be in trouble. And I think change is inevitable. And unfortunately, the pace of change is going quicker and quicker and quicker. And it’s how we respond to it. And I think, yeah, I was just gonna say, Simon, that there’s a couple of comments about people drying up buying online. Linda Robinson says she’s got loads of stock, but nothing shifting. And then we had another comment from Kate saying her sales have dried up. Are people scared of receiving stuff online? I getting it sent to them? And then Ben said, how can we stand out and offer services online with so many people going online right now and so much being offered free. And I think this is the speed of change. Things are changing by the day. In the first week. People were buying shed loads of stuff online. By today, people have stopped buying stuff online and things have changed. And it’s how quickly respond to that, I think is the key bit here. It’s how quickly we respond. And in some ways, there is no right answer. It’s just about doing something.

I think so the thoughts that those questions. So Ben’s question about standing out and Linda talking about the stock and Kate saying Are people scared of receiving? Those things have reminded me of some of some thoughts that that I’ve been going through and that we’ve been going through as a business. I think just to talk to Emily, Emily’s comment. So Emily runs the business that I mentioned with Lisa, a small good thing up in Bolton, just a phenomenal business. And I know that you guys would have had to close the shop, maybe or maybe you’ve been able to keep it open but struggling to get the volume of sales through. I’d love to find out how you’ve pivoted so far. But your comment Emily reminded me of the very first mistake that I made when I started my first business in 2003 is that I thought that because I was self employed. I had to do everything myself and I had to solve all of these problems myself. And actually, what I could have done and should have done was galvanise the team of people around me, but that’s my friends, my family, people on this thread, people in the pop up business school, sort of support team people that are in our support group and so on, is to ask for help. And speaking of asking for help, we have a new Genie that’s arrived. Alan, thank you for rubbing the lamp. Hello, are you able to put your device in landscape rather than portrayed? Let’s do that first. If it works

it’s a challenge isn’t it? How would I do that?

Can you just turn your phone sideways? Are you on your?

I’m on my iPad.

Let me just will it just turn?

I can do let me try.

Yeah, that’s it. Jack will be very happy.

Cool. Oh, can you see me now?

We can see. Yes. Excellent, beautiful. If you saw that this is my fault, if you have moved just one foot to the left, we could turn the light on every time you had a new idea. And it will be right over your head. Emma. Emma, thanks for joining us. So. So this is Emma, everybody. Emma is from Millward, Mae and CO she started that business. She’s the co founder. But she’s also our accountant that’s been with us since the beginning. And Emma’s been massively helpful to us sharing her knowledge and understanding of the support that’s been offered by the government, both for businesses, business owners and self employed people. And we’ve had a couple of questions posted in the thread already. Mr. Egg was delighted to know. Yeah, yeah, for sure. I’ll give you some thinking time. But the I asked everyone to save your most difficult questions. Clearly not able to Nash, and confident. So just before I give you a bit of time to settle in mo welcomes just talking to a couple of the points that have been raised in the group. And I’m probably going to trigger a thought in Allen here. So just to recap, the biggest mistake I made with my first business was that I thought it had to do everything myself. And if there’s ever a time to reach out to people, ask for help, ask for advice, ask for support, ask them to do things. Sitting at home is an absolute army of intelligence, an army of people with social media at their fingertips, there’s only so many Netflix boxsets that you can watch. Let’s see if we can get friends and family and neighbours supporting small business and helping you guys get through this next bit. And I know that Emily and Lisa have got a hugely supportive customer base. And before I hit you with points two and three, have I triggered a thought Alan?

Well, I think that’s one of the thing I love most about the British culture is we want to help each other. And I think that spirit of coming together is what we all need right now. And we’re actually doing it really, really well. So yeah, if your business is struggling, let’s speak to friends. Let’s talk to people. Let’s ask let’s ring people. And I’ll tell you what, if there was ever a time that you wanted to get someone on the phone, Now is that time, the most success?

Yeah, I think that’s really important. We’ve, we’ve noticed that having phone conversations with clients is, is definitely helping them and reassuring them. And, you know, just listening to their kind of their problems in terms of not being able to kind of make sales or struggling not knowing how they’re gonna pay that overhead. Just having someone to listen and, you know, provide help and guidance goes a long way. So, yeah,

yes. And I think you could even stretch further if there’s someone that you’ve always wanted to get on the phone that you thought would be good for your business. They’re probably not doing anything for the next two months. And there has never been a time like this where people are free. If you want to get someone on the phone ring them now.

Unless they were Yeah, yes. When do not bring them now.

Okay, there’s a few accountancy questions coming in through so if you’ve got any questions about about furlough about what you may be entitled to, from the government in terms of the support package for COVID-19 that’s come out, then Emma will do her best to answer and Emma is one of those folks that if he doesn’t know the answer, she’ll find out for us.

Yeah, so if I don’t know, I will have a look and paste it in the Yeah, the chat later.

Thank you. Thank you. A couple of thoughts. Before we dive into those accountancy questions. Emily’s replied to some of the comments I’ve seen about getting people to help. And I think she’s saying that we’ve closed the shop for general public, but offer a pre order and collect system along with deliveries. And it’s gone from being a lovely customer focused chatty business, to a logistical nightmare that needs lots of online systems to survive. Anyway, thanks for this, the live streams are really useful. So I think that reminds me of Done is better than perfect. And if we need to revert to emailing a PayPal link out to customers, rather than relying too much on E commerce, maybe that’s something that you could do, maybe there’s another way around it. I bet some of your customers would just transfer money straight into your bank, because those are the kind of folk that you’ve got in the community up in Bolton, which is awesome. I think just a couple have thoughts and go back to Alan because I know I’m about to trigger a thought for him. And, you know, for those that are thinking like Ben’s question, how do you stand out in a busy online world and Linda’s got lots of products and Kate saying Are people even want to receive stuff in the post? Now? This reminds me of it’s almost like in our own business, we’ve we’ve wrestled with this, how do you stand out in a busy world where every everyone and their their mum, dad, cat, dog, and their dogs, puppies are online trying to make stuff happen? So what’s the tactic and I always go back to the beginning. And we’re saying, actually, in our own business, it feels like we’re in startup mode, again, because the future is not set. And we’re creating it in real time. And that takes me back to the basics, which are all about focus. So focusing on what’s the one product, or the one service that you can offer, who is the customer that’s most likely to buy it. And if you can, if that customer exists in your network, friends and family, neighbours, people on your Facebook, you’re not not your real friends, your Facebook friends, too. And focus on like one thing to one target customer, and do 100 times more promotion than you think you need to. Because I bet when someone’s seen your posts, Kate about those awesome craft kits that you’re putting together, once they’ve seen you online 15 to 20 times, over the next couple of weeks, you may find their propensity to buy has been has been unlocked. And I think what usually happens is that people don’t take enough bold action to promote what they’re doing out of fear, because we’re scared, what if it doesn’t work? What if people are judging me because I’m still running my business during this time? What do you think to that? And how do you how do you get around that stuff of, you know, who do you Who do you focus on? Should you focus, what’s the size of the action that you need to take to promote?

The size of the action to take to promote is normally about 20 times more than you imagined it is. And you’re exactly right. Again, going back to startup mode, we have a reasonable sized business, and it just evaporated. So we are starting again and making up new stuff and going from the beginning. And we’ve got to get out there and shout about it. And actually, we were having this chat in the team today. Our next mission is to sell an online course course, an online course version, that’s

the Hungarian version, if you sign up for the Hungarian pack, you get a course the English version is just a course. Thank you,

we’ll be selling that to councils and housing associations around the UK. And actually, what we need to do is email every single one of them, ring every single one of them, and work to do what we do to help people. And you’ve got to go back to the beginning. So I guess my question to the audience is, how many phone calls you’re making a day? How many emails are you sending a day? How many zoom calls, how many messages, how many direct messages, there’s the size of the marketing effort. And people say size isn’t important, but in marketing makes a difference?

Well, that’s a new piece of content. And Jack’s making the mean behind the scenes as we speak.

And I feel it’s, it’s also, I guess, it’s it takes a while to get going. But once you kind of get a few customers and you get a few recommendations, and it starts it starts rolling. So we found that when we started up five and a half years ago, you know, to get our first client was a massive thing. But then after after a while you kind of it snowballs because they recommend us people. And then you put your name out there a bit more on the internet, and you get reviews. And that’s how you kind of be a business snowball. So the first I think I’d say the first year is the hardest, hardest bit and especially at this time, when the economy is so uncertain, it’s doubly hard. So yeah, just keep at it.

It’s exponential, and put all this energy in all this energy and nothing happens. Nothing happens. You get one, you get two, you get four, you get eight, and then all of a sudden it takes off. But sometimes you have to push and give energy for three, six months before that happens. You’re exactly right. Simon, should we get into the accountancy questions? We have this impressive?

Just before we do Yeah, yeah, let’s let’s live in the show up with some finance questions, everybody. I think before we dive into find out just to find out from you, Mr. I just wanted to ask you run a business. And I just wanted to find out what it’s been like for you over the last few weeks. And, you know, what does the certainty versus uncertainty look like for you and how are you guys responding to With all the changes and so on?

Yep. So like any business, we’ve, we’ve been faced with quite a bit of uncertainty, we’re in a fairly stable, a stable kind of, what’s the word? Yeah, type of business. So Accountancy is generally everyone needs an accountant. But then the impact on our clients has been quite significant. So we’ve got clients in the events industry who don’t have any events for the next three months, at least, we have built a lot of builders and tradesmen, who have to just down tools and stop work immediately. So that the impact on us is quite significant. Because if our clients can’t work, then, you know, we don’t have any clients eventually. So yeah, so that’s, that’s the scary thing for us. I think the thing we’re doing, I guess, is trying to support our clients. So communicating with them clearly about the different options that are available to them to the different government funding that’s available to both employees and self employed. And also having conversations with them. As Alan said, that’s the key thing. I think just making sure that you give them a call and reassure them that, you know, we’re here for them if they need to chat, or if, if, if, for example, yeah, I don’t know, for whatever reason, they can’t afford to pay certain things, then we can kind of give them options as to what what we’d suggest and help them maybe have some forecasting or something like that. So that’s the key thing that the impact on our team has actually been, it’s not it’s not been a negative one. It’s actually I think, I feel like we bring you bring some positives away from it. We’ve, we’ve actually come launch remote working. So we’re all using Microsoft Teams. And we’re actually finding that really efficient at the moment. And I think the team are really enjoying working from home. And we were able to kind of connect to using zoom or Microsoft Teams, which is helping and we’re just thinking about different ways of working. So it’s actually could be quite a positive thing for us in the long term. But obviously, it’s quite uncertain at the moment and challenging for our clients. So I just feel that last two weeks, I’ve just been fielding calls from clients when March is normally a nice quiet time for me and I normally get away and have holidays. So

question for let’s let’s start you off gently. There’s a question from Kelly Harlan. Oh, hi to Jolene, by the way. And to keep watching. Question from Kelly is Can I ask a question for me, please? I only started my business on December the 18th. From what I’ve read, I’m unable to benefit from any government support. Is this correct? My understanding of that is that they are basing it on the tax year 1819 contributions.

Yes, that is correct, unfortunately. And that’s one of the dark the pitfalls of this scheme. If she’s self employed, which I presume she is, she didn’t say that. But it sounds like she is. And she’s not a director of a limited company. So if she’s self employed as a sole trader, then unfortunately, she doesn’t qualify for the grants that the government have issued. They say that’s based on the 2018 19 tax year profits, anyone who started trading in this tax year, which is 2019 20. So from April 19, to march 20, they won’t be eligible for the grants, what she can apply for unfought is just the universal credit hour or the Employment Support Allowance that’s available to anyone who’s who’s not working. But unfortunately, that’s quite a small amount compared to what you might get with a grant.

Yes, or a very small amount. They’ve removed the minimum income floor to make it more accessible. They have actually a very small amount, but it’s kind of the best we’ve got. It’s not great, but take it take every penny you can.

It’s not great. And I can understand why they’ve done it because they need you need to be able to prove that you’ve been trading and that you’ve made a profit and and how do you prove that otherwise? Because your tax returns? Not yet do but it’s just it is unfair? Well, it seems to be unfair on people that have just started the business and maybe they’re doing work they were doing well for six months, nine months, and now they’ve got no income. So yeah, it does seem a bit unfair.

Similar question from Joanne slightly different, but it crosses over into same thing. So it’s a little bit about benefits advice here, which I know isn’t our area. But let’s let’s answer the bits that we can and see if we can find out the bits that we can’t. So as self employed do your income streams have to have dried up completely in effect, ceasing to trade? Or can the HMRC claim be a top up to low income? If you get the self employed support from H Mr. C, can you still be eligible for Universal Credit? If below the UCC threshold, can you not apply for HMRC? claim you see, or you’ll be expected to claim after that. So there’s lots. There’s lots of sort of weaving in that. What do you take from that? Emma?

The first point, I’ve actually read that this self employed grant, you can actually still trade as a sole trader with the grant, as long as you can prove that your trading profits decreased as a result of the Coronavirus. So, as long as you’re, you know, you’ve been impacted by it and your profits are down, you can still continue to trade and get the grant. How they’re going to check that who knows that the detail? Yeah, has not been announced yet.

And there is taxable as well. Sorry, just on that thing, yes. Yeah, classed as income, right? It will be

taxed as income. So you’ll need to declare it in your tax return as a self employed on your self assessment tax return for 1920 or 2021.

Just added on the benefits side of things, you know, if you’re faced with your in the in the 5% that they’ve described of people that have started their business, you know, since April 19, I spoke Zubair today, who was just starting his business about about six weeks ago, that’s when he decided to start. So bless him for that. So for those folks that don’t qualify for the support currently, and you’ve got options, haven’t you go, I’ve either got to go and get a job. If I’m lucky enough to have a financial runway, I might be able to cut back my my expenses and ride it out. But for someone that’s looking at benefits as an option, what would be your view on on that? Because I know it’s a tough thing to do for many people.

I’ve got mixed feelings about this. The benefits, we’ve all been paying our national insurance. And we’ve been paying into this system that is designed to catch us when we need it. And the DWP lady, I spoke to Caroline, She’s incredible. She was saying like, if you’ve lost your job, if you lost your income, and you’re not being caught by these other buckets, you need to take it. And it’s not ideal, it’s probably going to hurt your pride a bit. But we need to do it and emergency times like this, take the cash, let’s get on with it. Let’s survive, and then you can come back stronger. I think what these schemes aren’t meant to do is kill your innovation and kill your progress. However, sometimes that can get caught up in this and stop you doing anything. And we’ve been having that discussion at pop up very recently. There is the job retention scheme where we can furlough our staff members, but then they can’t do any work. So we can’t set things up for when the bounce comes back. And actually the side effect of these some of these schemes is to kill progress and creativity. But that’s not their purpose. They’re meant to help support you. And I think you’ve got to take them as the the best you can take the money where you can, and then just get ready on the side ready to go again.

That’s it. I think we’re the furloughing I think you’d only want to furlough staff. If you if you ultimately have to, you know, if you don’t have any work for them to do. If you’re in a position where you can put them on to something that’s more productive, that’s productive. And you could keep them going, then I would probably choose to do that then than furlough them personally.

So question from, from Rachel Flack. So Rachel has said, I’m a sole director of a company that works with schools. My income disappeared at the start of March, but I’m still running my website, as schools use it for resources. I don’t get any money from this. But does it stop me from accessing the job retention scheme? If she still runs the the thing? So she’s, I guess, would it? Would it mean, would it make a difference if she was on paye from that company? Or if she was an employee of her own company? Do you think

yeah, so with the job retention scheme, directors can apply for this scheme. They will get the 80% but it will only relate to the salary that they take. And they do have to have a paye scheme in place as of the end of February to qualify. So as long as she has a paye scheme at the end of February and she’s taking the salary from there, then she potentially could apply for this job protection scheme. It won’t apply To any dividends that she takes from the company. So unfortunately, that is another area where directors will lose out if they’ve been taking a small salary and the rest of dividends, like most directors do. The thing about working this scheme is supposed to be for those directors who can no longer work through the business. Now, the government haven’t really clarified what that means. There’s different interpretations. So some, some places I’m reading that it has to be you know, that if they’re generating revenue, then they can’t obviously apply for the scheme. What if they’re doing admin work? Or, you know, invoicing or not invoicing, but just doing their bookkeeping or doing other bits? You know, how does that how does that affect it? And I think the consensus is that, if they’re just doing a bit of admin, and kind of directing, running the business, or just keeping the business ticking over, then that should be fine. But we haven’t yet had clarification from the government on that. And I don’t, don’t expect to have that until the actual portal is up and running. And we can apply for it.

Yes, I love it. They’ve sort of sold before they’ve created this haven’t, they’ve kind of gone. And it’s been perfect. They’ve been reading the pop up principles of how to start a business. And they’ve launched this scheme without actually having finished it, which, but, you know, we are in such a good position compared to so many other countries. I guess it’s just such a challenge for those people that are falling between the stalls of support that are existing. And I guess I’m just gonna looking down at some of the other questions here that are going to come back to Karis question. I’ve got a similar one from Caitlin head of healthy snacks for the whole of London. So Caitlyn says, Thanks in advance for your help. Emma, I love that. thanking you for something you haven’t given me you need to deliver now because she’s already said thank you. This is an excellent tip for those people that are doing email marketing, you are more likely to get your email opened, if it has Thanks in advance at the end of it anyway. So I am a freelance PR consultant set up as a limited company and she’s a director, but because of a back injury, she’s been off work for numerous months. Icing on the cake or not, is that with the upcoming brackets now cancelled, ir 35 March the fifth I gave up my accountants and seized I love that the company paye scheme. Right. So one week later, we are where we are. So yeah, question, do I need to immediately unseized? The PA ye a scheme? What is this furlough? And can you smoke it? She didn’t put that I added that bit. Will I be included in the June payments? Is there any financial assistance outside of Universal Credit? That’s not a no. So that’s actually quite a complex one. It’s a is there anything that you can share with Kaitlyn now to talk to that, and maybe we can follow up in the comments afterwards?

Anything I’d say is that if she had a POA scheme at the end of February, and then as since Dr. Then potentially, she could reinstate it. I’m not sure on the technicalities on that. But I do know that, that where you’ve made someone redundant. And they were on the payroll in February, then you can still apply for the furlough and kind of reinstate them as such. So potentially, that will apply to directors as well. So if she was, if she was on the payroll at the end of Feb, then potentially that could apply. I think you can reinstate a payroll scheme, but it just takes a bit of admin and I’m not sure how long that will take. But again, yeah, that the government guidance hasn’t been detailed enough to kind of answer that in full, unfortunately, at the moment, but it’s something that we can kind of keep an eye on. Yeah, what’s the second part the question?

The second part of the question, I’m going to hand over to Alan in a moment to see if anything’s caught his eye, but I think the second part of the question was about do I need to immediately unseized the paye scheme, and what’s the furlough bit of it? How does that actually work? will be included in the June payments.

So if Yeah, if she stopped work because of the Coronavirus then she could apply for the 80% based on her February payroll. So if she was an employee at the end of Feb, then yeah, she should go ahead and try and unceasing the payroll scheme and apply for it that way.

Great. So please tag your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and their cat in these posts because we’re starting to ramp up our support, we’ve got a survival guide, which is full of free content that we’re building in real time to help people navigate through the choppy waters of all of this stuff. So thank you for those people that have already shared and tag people really much appreciated. And we had, I think, one of our best ever weeks on Facebook last week in terms of people engaging with our stuff, and you know, we, we’ve just set out to help as many people as we can with this stuff. So please help us continue that. That’s great. A quick hello, before I say over to Alan, to Chad from the California mafia, that some of these conversations are about. He’s not actually in the mafia, by the way. Some of these conversations are about today are about UK law and the UK government support. But we have lined up a couple of us experts that we’re going to invite on this live stream and maybe make some videos with as well as Emma and her team, so that we can answer some of the American questions that are coming through as well. And yeah, Alan, Henry’s watching Hello, Henry. Hello, Steve Murray. Kelly says thank you for the advice. ously head of carpentry and wood for the whole of the South is watching. Clive, head of food production for Wales, Amy how Bri Mo’s watching which is great. And Sophia sham from the Bristol mafia is on here as well. So Alan, what’s caught your what’s caught your eye? Alan?

That’s a very broad question. What caught

my eye red in the face?

Not? Like, you know, is there? Is there a question that’s caught your eye? Or is there a sort of a train of thought that’s been triggered by some of the questions and answers that we’ve had so far.

So actually, there’s two broad activities that are going on at the moment. And one is protection. And one for one to better term is expansion or going out there. And a lot of what we’ve been talking about is replacing what has gone, protecting ourselves with benefits, furloughing staff, all those activities of, you know, let’s put the sandbags up. Let’s protect ourselves. Let’s get through this. And that is great and important. And we must remember to look at the expansion bit as well. Because it’s not just about protecting what’s gone. It’s about building something different for the future. And that is exactly what we’ve been talking about a pop up. We could with our team, furlough everyone throughout the sandbags to close the business and wait for this to pass. But is that going to set us up for the future? Is it going to help people? Is it going to make a difference? I would say no. And actually, we’ve been working on the decision today. And the decision we’ve taken is to not furlough the team, but actually to go full on out there and work to sell the online version. And we are rolling the dice, we’re taking a risk. But that expansion works, that progressive work is equally as important. And I just wanted to say to everyone who’s watching today, yes, we need to focus on replacing what we’ve lost. And we need to focus on going out there and getting more of what we want.

And it’s kind of a good opportunity for you guys. Because you’ve been so busy that now you can actually get around some projects that you’ve kind of had on the back burner that you’ve wanted to do, but you haven’t a time. So actually there might be some businesses in your position where they’ve got a whole long list of to do things to do list and then actually they’ve got time now to do those things. Yeah, it’s uh, it could be a good thing for you guys. But

a quick question about outside of the virus stuff for a second question from from Russell down in Kent. Head of electricity testing, that’s why we call impact test. Russell’s asked just some thoughts on what do you think is the best accountancy programme for a small business and when I hear the words best, my head hears free rustle every you might have a different view, you know, for you know, for a sole trader or for you know, a small business that’s doing electricity testing, for example, maybe Russell’s asking for someone else, but what would your thoughts be? Where’d you go these days? Because it does change over time.

It does depend on the type of business and how many employees they have, whether they’re a contractor whether they’re a bigger business, but generally there are three main parts Keeping software’s that we use. So Cloud bookkeeping software. So the first one is zero, which is really good for, I’d say, no bigger than one man bands. So people, we have employee distances, we have employees, where you want to maybe report by different kind of categories. You want a bit more kind of, vibe, a bit, a bit more detailed reporting, basically, it’s a really good tool. And yeah, we use their own and we love it. Then I would recommend free agent as well for smaller one man band contractors, because it’s really intuitive and easy to use. And it just kind of yeah, it works, basically. And then the other one we use is QuickBooks, which can be useful for for Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it necessarily all the time for contractors, but some people get on with it. Some people don’t. It just depends what you like. So yeah, there are three the three main ones that we use. But yeah, I love zero because the reports are great. Under the gig.

Alan, you did offer spreadsheets for a few years. With accounting, would you if you were starting again? Would you go back to that?

Well, I don’t think legally you can now. I think at some stage, we all have to be online. And Emma probably knows this better than I do. But when’s the date where we all need to be using cloud based software.

So for VAT registered businesses who are earning, so where their turnover is over 85,000 pounds, you have to be on digital software. There are some work around so you can use a spreadsheet and put it into a bit of software, which links into HMRC. But it’s just so it’s just why would you do that when the software is great, because you can submit the VAT returns through the software. And it actually will save you a lot of time using a bit of software rather than spreadsheets. So yeah, we try and steer people well away from spreadsheets, even the smaller clients, we try and get on kind of one of the one of the software’s. There’s a really good bit of software. So free agent is actually is currently free for life for the lifetime of the client, if you set up a business bank account with NatWest. So we often recommend that because it you might as well do it, you know, if if you’re going to have it, you have to have a business bank account anyway for him as a company. So yeah, why not? Why not do that? So that’s when we kind of recommend quite a lot of the time, but zero is great for bigger businesses. Yeah.

Cool. Thank you very much.

Did you see the comment from Vicki Preston Simon? said, Oh, my goodness, I’m watching financial advice. Does that mean I need to pop my grown up hat on and sought out my paperwork and work on my accounts? And she said, I’d been given a QuickBooks disk. You’re talking about a CD that you could in a computer didn’t didn’t they go out in the 90? Yeah.

That’s probably quite old. I

got it downloaded Vicki, I think you got to download it.

Sorry, in the bed now.

But it’s, um, it’s actually one of the most important bits that I’ve let go of full a few times. In the early days, I was very good. I tracked everything. And I had a spreadsheet for expenses, a spreadsheet for income, I tracked all the receipts. But then I didn’t have many customers in those days. So I had a lot more time to be be geeky. Then I got customers and I was actually making money and doing work and that got stuff left. That stuff got left behind. And the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. So it’s actually really important to do this stuff as you go. Vicky says the disc is actually from 2012. So it’s only they’ve probably got an updated version Vicki maybe version 2.0.

The beauty of online bookkeeping software’s you do not need a desk, it’s all on the cloud. Get rid of those desks.

Right, one word answer Emma, one word answer. To answer Linda’s question, the best cloud software for a sole trader selling furniture your best guess would be

selling furniture. Um, I’ll probably use free agent. Use free agent

devinwatson Answer not one but free agent. Yeah. 00. a sledgehammer to crack a nut for that. Wouldn’t it be?

Zero is good. The only reason I say that is for agents a bit more affordable for startups. There is a bit pricier so QuickBooks is, is kind of reasonable priced, reasonably priced. It depends. If you go for an accountant, you can get a good discount for QuickBooks. But yeah, if you’re if you’re on price, then free agent does the job. But yeah, Xero is probably the better one if you want to if you want to be growing your business in the future as well, because you don’t really want to be switching software. So if you think you might grow, and you might get employees and revenue might increase, then yeah, maybe, maybe go zero.

Great stuff. Thank you. Ross has been emailing future potential customers and previous customers and he’s got four lined up so far. So he’s taking the action to take advantage of the fact that people’s premises are empty. no better time to do electricity testing when all the buildings are empty. It’s quite an interesting approach. I love that. Chad’s generously given us an idea. And thank you, Jamie, for your comment, appreciate that. Travis started out with nothing. And he’s still got most of it left in. He also said he’s in the same position that he was at the start. He didn’t have any customers before the virus and he hasn’t got any now either. So Trevor, I guess the only ways up, as they say. I guess there was one or two other things that caught my eye. There was a question actually from, I think it was Carrie, I need to go back to that. Kate says she needs three more videos and push them more. But it’s not easy with two kids. One who keeps flashing her knickers in the videos, these days of flying so fast. Okay, I completely understand that I have a business partner that keeps flashing during conference calls. See what I mean? Like, Oh, no. Oh, no, it’s gone. Dark everyone. Right, so I’m gonna get back. Let’s do another accountancy question. Jack is literally just melted into his chair, because he’s gonna have to edit this to put on the self, the self employment guy tomorrow. So like, well, that’s getting a lot of love. So, Carrie, again, another another interesting question that’s got lots of bits wrapped up in it. And I think I know some of the answer here. But I’m going to hand over to the experts and Alan comments as well. So Carrie is currently on Universal Credit. She’s at university as well doing a photography degree until June. She’s also a self employed photographer. And she’s employed seasonally a Boot Fair. Can I go furlough at the Boot Fair? And my guessing is that if you’re employed seasonally, what do you think? Does it depend if your PA Ye, because she’s not currently employed? If Carrie is not currently employed, yeah. Okay, yeah,

I wouldn’t I think it only applies to PA ye. I think you can. There was something where you could say you have two jobs and one of only one of them has furloughed you, then you can get the furlough for that one job, as long as you don’t feel your time doing full the extra spare time doing the other job, if you see what I mean. So yeah,

hurry would need to go back to that employer to ask the question, I guess to see Yeah, DIY way in the right time. I guess they’ve also suggest carries also said, the plan is to open a photography studio in June, they’re going to pay themselves a small wage at the start. And I’m guessing they’ve got a bit of cash in the bank, if, you know, they’re thinking of opening a studio this moment in time and paying a wage as well. And the question is, should they go limited and take a chunk out once a year? And I think Kerry’s trying to juggle everything and go? What’s the right thing to do I want to launch my business during this time, is limited company, the right vehicle to do that? And, you know, is there a way of opening that photography studio album without spending any money?

So yeah, limited the sole trade is is a common question that we asked, she would probably get asked that, you know, about 80% of our queries of should I be limited? Or should I be sold trade? It really depends on your circumstances, if you can’t provide kind of an answer for Yeah, for one a blanket answer. We actually have a really good blog on it on our website. So if you want I can link that on the chat later on. And that kind of goes through the different things that you want to consider versus limited versus sole trade. The main thing is, I think the main advice that we give to people is if you’re just starting out, sole traders easier and is less risky, because you’d have to set up a company and have all the costs associated with that. So and you can always convert it into or convert to a limited company at a later date. So yeah, normally most people start as a sole trader and then potentially incorporate it. Maybe a year down the line or however long down the line.

Yes, that’s exactly how we did it. And sole trader is this simple, possibly simplest possible format to get going and the quickest and easiest. It’s also the cheapest in general, in terms of fees, set up all of that stuff. So sole trader tends to be the way to start. If you think you’re going to make a fortune in your first year of 100 grand plus, then maybe limited companies useful. But for most of us, that doesn’t happen. Our purpose actually shared your blog in the comments right now. So you’ve got the company versus sole trader, he found it already. That’s impressive. Found it. We’ve done it for you.

There’s a team of two and a half 1000 In Mumbai. Everything and responding in real time.

So we’ve had a message from Joana and actually copies into a few people’s messages as well. Fennel said something similar, said, I’m a sole trader, I started trading July 2019. So I don’t have a year’s worth of books. Therefore, I cannot apply for the government self employed help. And unfortunately, the answer to that is correct. And the government has kind of said you’re one of the 5% of people that have been left out of this. We don’t have a way to work this out.

Yeah, that’s that you’re the same as the Yeah, the same as the person that earlier that said that they’d started in December that? Yeah, unfortunately. They’re the ones that have Yeah, they’ve lost out on this, which is, is not ideal. But yeah, the government, I guess, had to draw the line somewhere. And that’s what they’ve done. So yeah, Universal Credit, or I think there’s the as Yeah, Support Allowance as well. Comment what it’s called now. But yeah, they’d have to go through that stream, unfortunately,

join her and she says she doesn’t qualify for Universal Credit. Is there anything else you can do? I would say join it, like, just tell us why you think you don’t qualify it? Because that’s something that you can argue with them and chat to them about? And is there anything else you can do? Now we’re starting to get to the other side? And we’re wondering, okay, we can’t get much support, we’re gonna have to focus on making money somehow. And there’s rent deferral schemes, there’s mortgage deferral schemes, none of them are great solutions. We’re gonna have to start to brainstorm and if you want to chat separately off the live stream, feel free to give us a call. We’re happy to chat through your situation and give you a hand. Yeah, we know this is a tough time.

Yeah, I guess like, Yeah, can you think how can you how can you diversify your business? Can you do something a bit differently? You know, if your say I’ve got a few got a personal trainer on my books, so can they can they offer training courses online instead of face to face? You know, that kind of thing? If but then there must be some industries where you just yeah, that’s just not possible. But try and think outside? Yeah, outside the box, I guess a little bit.

Yeah, that’s part of the challenge, isn’t it? And I know that the r&d Brilliant, friendly yoga teacher that taught you in Katy, how to do a headstone. I think my Facebook timeline was filled up of YouTube upside down first thing this morning, which I wasn’t expecting, actually, I have to say. So Laura started doing, Laura jumps in the pool, started doing some yoga sessions for her previous yoga customers that you know, that her clients were coming along to yoga sessions in Newport, Wales. And she started doing those yoga sessions online a couple of days ago. And now some of the people that were in that live stream, have asked if they can pay her for her time and ask for PayPal, links, and so on. So Joanna, your business is phenomenal. I don’t know if if some, you know, some live stream sessions or video stuff would work for you. But I also know that you’ve done such an amazing job for your clients and customers. Maybe if you engage them in the conversation about how could you pivot this business and try something different? And I think the thought processes that I go through is, does the thing that I’m doing work in its original form in this climate, yes or no? If the answer is no, it doesn’t. The next question is, can I pivot? Can I adapt it? Can I try something different? Like my yoga example? If the answer is no, it doesn’t really work. I’ve asked my friends, my family and my customers. If I can adapt it and try it in a different way, would it work would you pay for the service online? Could I deliver something and so on? If that doesn’t work, you know, based on my other business ideas, and my entrepreneurial instincts and creativity, is there something completely different, I can hustle and start making money, you know, and doing something completely different to your core business. Maybe those customers that you’ve been selling to want something different, maybe they’ve got other problems that need solving in this climate that those insights could use could spark a new business idea. And at the end of all of that stuff, if you if you’re still at a dead end, and you go, I’m not sure I can’t come up with anything at the moment, then we’ve got the next option is we could go get a job. And there are, you know, I went through this conversation, if this happened three years ago, I’d be on my way to tescos or the NHS right now, or maybe back in the cops, who knows, but I would have had to have done that. So that plus the UC options, if you don’t qualify for UC, maybe there’s similar right and idea in there somewhere that might trigger a thought. And you know, to help you kind of move on and try something different. And is there anything in the comments that I know that pop up Business School has apologised publicly for your nipples, which I think is the most unexpected Facebook comment of the year so far.

I also think that’s quite inappropriate. My nipples do not need an apology. They are just there. I think we’re a body positive company and I am disgraced by that comment. And we will be having a disciplinary tomorrow with Jack.

Christian question from Christine. Am I did I did warn you, you know, you know. Thank you all for your help. Christina said my question to Emma is as a limited company. As a limited company director, do I have to pay myself? Do I have to pay myself at the end of each month, and then apply for the scheme when it’s ready?

So yeah, you’d have to run payroll. So you’d have to continue to run your payroll, as you’re currently doing. You could choose to pay yourself 80% If you’re following yourself, and then you run the payroll, and then you’ll be able to reclaim the money once the government have got their act together and sorted this portal out. Probably not for, I’ll probably say another month or two. But yeah, it’s key that you do keep running the payroll scheme, what you could do is if you don’t have the cash in the business, you could effectively pay it out to your director loan account. So you don’t physically pay out the money, you just kind of do an accounting adjustment to move it to your director loan account. So you could do that if you don’t have the cash in the business. And then yeah, and then the grant should be paid back to the business. And then you can pay yourself the actual money once you got the money. Does that make sense?

Yes, yes, I think so. Yeah. And let’s find out. Hopefully, that’s answered your question, Christine. There’s lots of ideas that people are sharing in the thread, which is brilliant. Thank you for everyone for your generosity. So Joanne has got about another five ideas to explore here. people’s homes and also some advice for someone who sells food in an indoor, super, or in an indoor market, not supermarket. So any thoughts on how you might pivot that business? If you’ve got you’ve got a food store in an indoor market? What do you do? How do you pivot that stuff?

A food store or an indoor market. You’ve got some challenges there. There’s curbside pickup, there’s the can you put the packages out on the curb and line them up for people which we’ve seen some businesses pivot to there’s delivery, there’s essential services faster, saying the markets had to be closed. So I’m guessing you don’t even have access to the supplies and stock to be able to do this. This is where I get to the stage where I go. There’s not actually many good options with this. We’re going to have to go back to startup mode and come up with something else. And that’s not always good. But it’s pretty much what pop up are having to do right now is we can no longer run events. And we’re an event business. So we have to go well, what else can we do? Everything we were doing has been closed down. Every way we made money last year has been closed. We have to do something else. And I know that’s not great fantasy, but you’ve got to let go of what happened. Then we’ve got to work out what’s next. And that’s what we’ve got to do. So can we teach online Can we sell recipes? Can we kids homeschooling? Can you do home economics classes for kids where you teach them food and the cost of food online? I don’t know. Let’s brainstorm ideas. And my first ideas will be rubbish. But we just need to brainstorm ideas and change direction completely. And I think the more we focus on what we’ve lost, the more trapped we’ll become by it. And the more we focus on what’s next, the more empowered we will be to make progress. That’s a long pause. Simon has disappeared.

Simon’s muted

in phone. If you if you unmute, then people can actually hear you better. Yes. I had a cracking conversation with myself though, which is great. Okay, so I think just looking at some of the comments that have come through, let’s keep this thread going. And I think, you know, I’ve had a number of messages from people over the last couple of days talking about the application process for UC for Universal Credit, and not being able to get through on phone lines, computers, crack, chip, and all that kind of stuff. I spoke to someone in Jobcentre Plus last week. He said that there is a 450% increase in applications and a 52% reduction in staff at the particular job centre that he was working at. So are properly under the cosh. And I think what we need to do is to get a pot of coffee, and deep breathing, put on some soft music in the background, or maybe even a comedian just to keep your tail up and have the tenacity to complete the process. Because it will test us all. And I see Linda’s comments, then I completely understand where you’re coming from. And I remember those conversations we had, including with Alan a few years ago. It just because it was a complete nightmare, then it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a complete nightmare. Now, let’s just take the now for what it is. And if you need some support and some help, you know, ask for it. And there’s people in our support group, you can reach out to us and friends and family and neighbours and other businesses that are going through the same thing. That’s what our survival guide on our website is designed for. That’s what the support groups in this thread are designed for. People can share ideas exactly as you’ve been doing. And look Thank you. Everybody feel generosity. Thank you to Emma, who walked into a bit of a storm. I think it’s fair to say this unexpected questions, some unexpected ideas and some unexpected nudity.

Thank you for having me.

Cool, Alan, I just want to there’s one thing that you always do really well. And that’s when we come to the end of a little session. You’ve always got a closing thought it’s almost like a bedtime story from Alan. I wonder what what closing thoughts are in your mind based on the chat that we’ve had tonight.

So I will give my closing thought Absolutely. Just before I do that, I would like to say Emma has been an incredible help to our business and the support she’s given us over the last few years since we set up a limited company has been phenomenal. I feel very lucky to have her as our accountant. And if you have questions, speak to her. She is she’s excellent. Excellent.

Alan was a pleasure I’ve loved I’ve loved working with you guys. You’re great fun.

Yeah, it’s nice. We’ve seen both of our businesses grow together over the last five, six years. And it’s been fantastic. So bright closing thought. Just before I started my business, I went to the job centre as well. And I was on benefits. I was getting 56 pounds a week for going to the job centre. And those trips sucked the life out of me. Because you’d have to go in every two weeks. Tell them what jobs you’ve been searching for what was happening, and they sucked the energy out of me. The place was grey, it was in a 60s, accountancy block. It was the people were grey, it smelled of alcohol and weed. It was just a horrible place and it destroyed me emotionally. And I think we’re gonna have some times over the next couple of months where we are going to have to go through some of this stuff. and being successful is not about not having problems. It’s about how you react to them. And what’s changed for me over the years, is I still get stuff that sucks the life out of me, it’s how quickly you can bounce back and make progress on the next thing. So if you have to make that phone call to the job centre, make it and then I need you to change your energy, bounce back and get on with the next bit. And I think it’s the speed with which you can do that will affect your energy and your progress going forwards. So come up with a list of ways you can change your state and make that progress.

I told you, you’re good at this. Thank you, everybody, for watching. Thank you for everybody that commented, and shared ideas and tag friends, and so on. You may have got an email from us today, we’ve sent an email out which is all about the survival guide that’s on our website. That content is growing and growing and growing. And it’s designed to give you the information and some inspiration and motivation to think which direction do I need to head in yet and navigate through this little challenge that we’re facing right now. So thank you everybody for your generosity and for watching. And we’ll be in touch