Adventures In Micro-Business: 'My bank manager doesn't understand me'

Each month, Russell Smith answers your queries and profiles a small business with a big challenge
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Q My bank manager doesn't seem to understand my business at all. I'm not keen to move bank since I've been with them for years and I have my personal account there. What should I do?

Q My bank manager doesn't seem to understand my business at all. I'm not keen to move bank since I've been with them for years and I have my personal account there. What should I do?

A If the person who services your car did a poor job, I suspect that you'd find another garage. Make an appointment to see your bank manager and discuss your concerns openly. If you are still unhappy, then talk with other banks about what they can offer.

Q I want to set up a limited company. Both my accountant and solicitor offer this service - whom should I choose?

A Either adviser will offer a professional service, but firstly check with your accountant that a limited company is the best business structure for you to trade under. All companies must be registered with Companies House and their website ( www.companieshouse.gov.uk) is very helpful.

Q Eight months ago I set up a small business (I am a sole trader) to offer graphic design services. Lately it's been a struggle to find enough work - should I admit defeat and get a "proper job"?

A Not necessarily. Sole traders often find it difficult in the early days, especially after initial promises of work have been exhausted. Firstly, do talk with your previous customers to see if repeat work is possible. Secondly, try to establish a network of related businesses, for example website service providers often contract out design work.

Q My company is doing OK but my accountant advises me that an injection of capital could really help "make it fly". I like the sound of that but my partner isn't keen to put our house at risk since it would need to be used as security for the loan. Do I have any options?

A The DTI Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme (www.dti.gov.uk/sflg) may be the answer when small firms with viable business proposals have tried and failed to get a conventional loan because of lack of security. Most banks can provide business loans via this scheme. Ask your bank manager - if they are unhelpful, talk to another bank.

Q I am keen to turn my passion (furniture-making) into a business and I have identified facilities and two people to employ on a part-time basis. Where can I find out about health and safety regulations?

A All employers, including the self-employed, have statutory duties to ensure that their workplace is safe. The Health and Safety Executive has an excellent website with a special section for small businesses ( www.hse.gov.uk/startup).

Q I own a small engineering firm and I've a great idea for a new product in the field of automotives. The prototype I have made works well and I feel there could be a large market. What should I do to patent the idea?

A Well done for not describing the product - you must keep your idea secret at this stage. Ask your solicitor if the idea can be patented and, if so, to recommend someone to advise on the patent process. Many people do write and submit their own patent applications but getting help at this early stage would probably be money well spent. Do visit the Patent Office website ( www.patent.gov.uk). It's a great source of information about patents and the application process.

Comments