Adventures in Micro Business

Each month, Professor Russell Smith answers your queries

Q: Is it true that banks are not lending to small businesses at the moment?

A: It is not true, though it is fair to say that banks are focussed on reducing their exposure to risk. For a small business, this may mean the owner will be required to provide security against a business loan, usually a charge over property such as your home. What it certainly means is that business owners will be required to make a strong case to support any request for debt finance in the shape of a business plan and a cash flow forecast. The key point is that banks need to be persuaded that your business will generate enough profit to be able to repay the loan.

Q: Where can I get clear and helpful advice about which health and safety issues matter in business?

A: The Health and Safety Executive has a really excellent website and its documents are just what you need. Look out for the HSE’s 'An Introduction to Health and Safety' which is available from its website. The good news is that health and safety matters mainly relate to common sense and is all about, as the HSE states, 'preventing people from being harmed by work or becoming ill by taking the right precautions and providing a satisfactory working environment'.

Q: I have a potential issue around bullying within my business. What is the best way to deal with this?

A: It is difficult to comment without further details but a good place to start is the ACAS website. Download a copy of the free advice leaflet 'Bullying and harassment at work - a guide for managers and employers'. The site also offers free online courses in ten areas, one of which is bullying and harassment.

Q: What are enhanced capital allowances?

A: These are tax breaks available to business and relate to the purchase of environmentally friendly equipment and vehicles. There are three main categories: energy saving products, energy efficient vehicles and efficient water technologies. Seek advice from your accountant if you feel that your business might qualify for enhanced capital allowances.

Q: How do I avoid falling foul of the law when selling goods to customers?

A: This is a big topic but there are a number of useful guides that you can obtain online. Start with 'A Trader’s Guide – The Law Relating to the Supply of Goods and Services', which is available from the Dept for Business, Innovation and Skills website. The Consumer Direct website has a fact-sheet about the Sales of Goods Act 1979 which is the main piece of legislation that you should be familiar with. The Trading Standards Institute website has a useful help and advice section and also offers a number of training courses.

Q: If I work from home will I have to pay business rates?

A: If you have an area of your home converted specifically for business purposes (for example, some kind of workshop) then you may have to pay rates on that part of your home. The Valuation Office Agency website provides a lot of useful information under its Frequently Asked Questions section. Every home business will be considered separately and it may be that an inspection is required before an assessment can be made.

JARGON BUSTER

Common Commencement Dates

Amendments to business law or the introduction of new laws tend to start on one of two Common Commencement Dates which are 6th April and 1st October. The European Union is looking at having a similar system with two dates per year - these are also in April and Octobe,r but will be on the 29th of each month. Details of any changes are always made available at the Business Link website and a summary for October is available now.

Cloud Computing

This terms covers how businesses can manage their computing and data needs via the internet. It is now possible to store huge amounts of information (customer data, emails, business applications etc) online at comparatively low cost. This removes the need for computers dedicated to data storage in the office and it also means that business owners can access their data from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. In theory, cloud computing should provide a cost-effective business solution.

Send your questions to Prof Smith at independent@businessboffins.com. Selected questions will be answered each month. Answers are for the general guidance of owner-managers only; always seek professional advice. Professor Smith is the founder of Business Boffins Ltd which, in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University, Anglia Ruskin University, Warwick University, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of the West of England delivers support programmes to small businesses nationwide. Independent and Independent on Sunday readers can enrol on the programme at a discounted rate; see www.businessboffins.com/independent.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Business Analyst - London - Banking - £400-£450

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Banking - London...

Project Manager,Conduct Risk,London,£5-600pd

£500 - £600 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Senior Fund Administrator - Edinburgh - £22 p/hr

£20 - £22 per hour + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Fund Administrator, Top Four ...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on