Adventures in micro-business: What is my business worth?

Professor Russell Smith answers your queries


Q: I am thinking of selling my business - what value can I put on the name and logo which are registered trademarks in the UK?

A: The value of any “brand” will all depend on whether the purchaser wishes to trade using the same logo and name that you have registered. Assuming that they wish to trade using your developed “brand” then the Trade Marks will have a value. You should get a professional valuation from a qualified accountant that takes account of all intellectual property that your business owns. For example, a registered web domain name and photographs on the website (assuming you own copyright) all have a value. In other words, it’s the overall brand that you have established that needs valuation and not simply the value of the trade marks in isolation.

Q: I am a UK-based business looking to export products and services but am finding it difficult, particularly in this current financial climate, to get a letter of credit confirmed by my bank. What should I do?

A: The Government’s Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) should be your first port of call! Take a look at their website ( ecgd.gov.uk ) for information about their Letter of Credit Guarantee Scheme(LCGS). The scheme aims to help businesses like yours by boosting the availability of short-term export finance. They do this by sharing the risk (up to 90%) associated with confirmed letters of credit issued by foreign banks.

Q: I am just starting out and I have been advised to find a good accountant for my business. Where do I begin my search?

A: If you have friends, relatives or colleagues in business they may be able to give you referrals or recommendations to suitable accounting firms. Whether you look for an accountant in business directories like Yellow Pages, or seek advice from a bank or a solicitor who may be able to provide introductions, you should make sure you engage the services of accountant who is experienced as they will be able to provide the most useful advice as your business develops. There are also various accountancy bodies, such as The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales ( icaew.com ) that provide details of member firms. When choosig who to work with, always remember that a good accountant should be an adviser to your business and not simply someone who prepares tax returns!

Q: New products that I am looking to sell are going to require substantial phases of R&D and my cash flow is going to be impacted. Apart from raising debt or equity finance to support my business during this phase is there anything else I can do to help my cash flow?

A: You should try to establish if your business would qualify for grant funding. Start by looking at the Business Link website ( businesslink.gov.uk ) under its grants and Government support section from where you will find lots of useful information about where to find R&D grant schemes that may be operating in your region or particular industry. Also, in order to encourage innovation, research and development in the UK there are tax credit and relief schemes that are designed to support businesses. For further information take a look at the HM Revenue and Customs website ( hmrc.gov.uk ) and seek advice from your professional adviser.

QUESTIONS PLEASE

Send your questions to Professor Smith at independent@businessboffins.com. Selected questions will be answered each month. Answers are for the general guidance of ownermanagers 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 and University of the West of England, delivers support programmes to small businesses nationwide. Readers of The Independent andThe Independent on Sunday can enrol on the programme at a discounted rate. See businessboffins.com

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