Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Creation Collaboration - Wedding Wednesday - The Proposal!

It's generally seen as one of the most important conversations we will ever have, and to that end, we should strive to make "The Proposal" as memorable as we can.

It can be a daunting prospect, and the intense pressure to do it "right", is immense.

This doesn't mean we have to whisk the love of our life off to some romantic place, or spend silly amounts of money.

The best proposal stories can come from pleasures like a summer picnic in the park, and in the manner one of my friend's, stones laid out on a beach to say "Will you marry Me?" whilst on holiday.

Romance can be as simple as rose petals, and candles, it can be a walk up a mountain to see an awesome view, it can be a spur of a moment decision where you are gripped with such a feeling that you never want to let go this amazing person you have found.

You can go all out too, and have the proposal written in fireworks, or in a banner drawn by a small plane, or in the manner of a recent Scottish groom, on the cinema screen before the showing of "It's a Wonderful Life!

Whichever way you propose, you have to think about your partner, and the kind of things they love and appreciate.

Celebrity's have had differing ways to propose.  Michael Douglas made his proposal to Catherine Zeta Jones memorable through asking her to marry him at the Eve of the Millenium.  It was a discreet proposal, balanced very nicely by the huge diamond he gave her.

I personally like recently married, Pier's Morgans approach, where he whisked his girlfriend to Paris and whilst there, presented her with a 1st Edition copy of her favourite author, John Updike's book "Marry Me".

For me personally, I was the one that proposed, quite romantically, I thought!

My proposal to my husband was on the 23rd of August 2003, and was on Tower Bridge in London.  I was going to do it on the London Eye, but got the wobbles as I'm scared of heights, and wimped out.
It didn't really go so well as I got turned down, but that is the chance you have to take when laying your heart on the line, its a monumental and life changing decision.  Luckily for him, he soon realised what he would be missing, and 6 years later we couldn't be happier.

I wish you all your own romantic story, and even if its not, the fact that someone loves you that much to ask you this amazing question is beautiful indeed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Start Up Sunday Week 4 Website or no Website?

Welcome to the fourth instalment of our Start-up Sunday series. Today we will discuss the benefits a website may provide to your business.

We have done considerable research individually and collectively over the last months and years and have found many important reasons to have a website.

Firstly, websites can be a key part in promoting your companies name. The Internet provides equal access to all users, you could be a small work-from-home company set up with £100 or a multi-million pound national company and the size of screen you have to convey your message is the same. A well designed website can be set up for very little outlay; one even created on a shoestring budget but with a little flair and an eye to giving the customer what they want will give a better impression than a badly designed website, even if it did cost hundreds or thousands of pounds.

When compared to more traditional marketing methods such as print or radio media, promoting your website is relatively inexpensive. Websites have one distinct advantage over printed adverts which can often become outdated very quickly. As new products and services are introduced, printed materials need revised and reprinted adding costs to your budget. Websites offer the opportunity to provide your customers with up-to-date information when they need it, and allow you the freedom to update the information on your products, services and information when necessary.

With a web site, you can build a customer/user database to save contact and demographic information about people who visit your website. This can enable you to gain a better understanding of who your online visitors are, and create complimentary marketing strategies (direct mailings, etc.) customised to their interests. This is also a great way to keep in touch with customers who have purchased your products, leaving you the ability to send a follow-up email, or occasionally sending them information about new products.

One of the greatest features of the Internet is the ability to link to other websites, and, more importantly, have them link to yours. This allows customers to find your web site through several different channels, increases the potential for building traffic to your site, and essentially provides free advertising for your business or organisation.

For those of you who are members of the Creation|Collaboration forum, why not add a link to your website to your signature. If you are not a member of the new and revised forum please join us here.

From a customer service perspective, having a website is one of the easiest and best ways to interact with your customer.  Your website is a great place to publish your own list of "Frequently Asked Questions", or even the rarely asked ones. Well thought out questions and answers, in as much detail as you like, and exactly as you'd like it stated, can provide your customers with immediate help with their question, as well as provide prospective customers with a reference tool. Additionally, you can provide up-to-date information, such as postage times/prices, product specifications, or available dates, allowing your customers immediate access to such information, and possibly saving yourself the cost of extra technical support staff.  A website is a great way to get immediate feedback from your customers, through customer surveys, contact forms, and email addresses for your contact personnel. This type of feedback can allow you to provide great customer service based on what your customers really want!

With the ability to get a basic website for literally nothing you really would be mad not to create an online presense for your organisation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Creation|Collaboration Feature Friday features Caroline Nash from Carolee Crafts

We're really delighted to be bringing you our 9th Feature Friday - today we're featuring Caroline Nash of Carolee Crafts.  

Hi Caroline, welcome to the Creation|Collaboration Blog - Can you introduce us to you and your company?
My name is Caroline Nash and I run a home based business called 'Carolee Crafts'. Designing and making gifts and cards using fabric, lace, ribbon, beads and more, in fact anything that falls into my shopping basket when out and about, just crying out to be bought.

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
I have stitched and created gifts and cards for over 30 years; getting near to my 50th made me take a look at my life and realise that there was a lot more to it than working in a job and for people I did not like.

I have a real love of stitching and making gifts for friends and family and the obvious progression was to start selling to others and share my talents with them.  I wanted to carve out a niche to be fully self-employed and not dependent on other work directions so, in 2003, I started my business whilst still working full-time and was successful enough that in 2008, I was able to give up my job and run the business full-time. 

What do you love most about your business?
I love being creative and working for myself; I am in control of my own day, what I do and how I do it.  And I really love not to be involved in office politics (something we probably all can identify with!). I am an early riser and start my working day at 5.30 am so I get to enjoy the peace and quiet and the wonderful mornings. Creating is a passion for me and a calling that I just had to follow.

What would you like to change?
I am really happy at the moment - more sales would be nice but I'm really content!

What is your aim for the next year?
I am currently working on party plan products, making samples of approximately 24 repeatable items to be able to then take orders at party events. 

A lot of my creations are OOAK (one of a kind) so with with the Party Plan, I need to design and source materials that can be repeated for multiple orders. I already have my first booking from a good client scheduled for September - my goal is to have brought this to fruition by mid August so I'm happy I'm currently on plan. 

The next stage is to average two paties a month (if not more!) by the end of November.  Please check out my contact details if you're interested in organising any parties.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
I see myself running a successful online and party business, dealing both with repeat customers and sourcing new ones - my plan is that I will achieve this within the next two years.

What are your Top 5 tips for new Business Women?
Tip 1 Always follow your dreams and never put off for another day, as, inevitably, that day never comes.  Don't let anyone or anything stop you from achieving your dream!

Tip 2 Be passionate about what you create it shows when you are talking to potential customers. Always have a smile on your face - the saying 'smile and the world smiles with you" is so true

Tip 3 Don't listen to negative comments from family and friends

Tip 4 You do not need a large bank balance to start your dream, start small and reinvest any profit back into the business for more stock, you will be amazed how quickly funds build up.

Tip 5 Join forums such as Creation|Collaboration to get support and advice when you need it

A few last words - How do we contact you?
You can contact me in a variety of ways - firstly on Facebook at, on Twitter at, via my website at and, finally, by email

Thanks so much for chatting with us today Caroline, I love that you have such a focused set of goals and targets for your business - your work is so lovely, I can see that your Party Plan products will definitely be a big hit! Don't forget to check out Caroline's fabulous website for further details on her products.

Check in next Friday when we'll be featuring yet another woman run business! If you are a business woman and would like to be considered for our Friday Feature, please leave a comment below with you email address and we'll be in touch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Collaboration Women Wednesday Blog Hop - Week 10

Welcome to Creation|Collaboration's 10th and last in this series; Women Wednesday blog roll, hosted by Beads & More by Lois, Soaperstar and Plans and Presents

Creation|Collaboration was set up by eight women, all existing friends, who run small businesses from their homes. We have started Women Wednesday blog roll to link up with other women in business, spread the word about Creation|Collaboration and basically just have fun visiting all of your interesting blogs!

We hope you have joined the weekly blog hops, we will be doing more of them in the future with a slight difference!

Heres how you can join in with Collaboration Women Wednesday:
  • Link up your blog name and URL to your Women Wednesday blog post using the McKLinky below (you only need to add on one blog to be seen on all of the McKLinky blog roll's) Please note that it's for blogs only and not links to your websites or shops.
  • Follow our Creation|Collaboration blog and the hostesses listed in the first 3 slots.
  • Grab our Women Wednesday button and feature it on your blog or Women Wednesday blog post.
  • Follow and comment saying you're from Women Wednesday on as many blogs as you likes listed in the McKlinky box.
  • Follow back any new followers from Women Wednesday!
It's that easy and a fun way to discover new and interesting blogs and us women at Creation|Collaboration get to meet other women in business!

Last week Jacquie Swain from Soaphora was picked to be our 5th Blog Hop Feature!

Jacquie has incorperated Soaphora and A String of Beads to handcraft beautiful soaps, creams, balms and lampwork beads in her studio.

We asked Jacquie 5 questions so we could find out more about her and her business.

1. Tell us about yourself and your business.
I started my business in 2006 after a lengthy time off sick from my job, I started making jewellery, which, in turn, I started to sell. I then got more and more interested in where the beads came from (ethically) and so started to source British made lampwork beads. I loved them so much I started making them myself. I still make and sell beads and from time to time jewellery, but it's the beads that are my main passion. 

2. What do you love most about having your own business?
I love that each day is different, I love being able to lock myself into my studio and create when I want. I love the freedom of being my own boss and making the decisions!

3. What would you like to change?
What would I like to change, apart from the obvious, More sales, the only thing I would change at the moment is to perhaps streamline my range of fragrances a bit. There's always room for change though!

4. What do you love most about blogging?
I love the sharing of information, seeing others creativity. Lovely photographs and always learning something new!

5. What is your most favourite thing you have made?
My favourite thing that I've made, hmm thats tricky. Over the years I have made somewhere in the region of 4000 silver core beads and many many sets and its hard to have favourites as I always see the technical flaws, I'm also a relatively new soap maker and my favourites are based on fragrance and how they feel to me when I use them ( I'm biased I know so am bound to say I love them all!) However I would say that that whatever you make your first should always be your favourite as its a constant reminder of how far you've come and what you've achieved. I still feel excited when I see the first soap I made and although it's not the best and it has no smell I'm still amazed that its soap!

Thank you Jacquie for being part of the blog hop and feature.

Make sure you check out her blog

You can buy her products from her Website

Monday, June 21, 2010

Check out Creation|Collaboration's New Forum! Join us Now!

To all our C|C users, as you know we have had a few technical problems with the site and a lot of you haven't always been able to post when you want. That's not good for anyone. So from 13th July, the Creation|Collaboration website will move to a much more simple 'forum' only site.

This does mean we won't have some of the nice extras we had on this site, but it does give us a reliable forum where we can chat about being self employed and share all our business challenges and succeses.

We'd love it if you all joined us, unfortuantely you will need to sign up again but we hope you think it's worth it. You don't have to wait until the 13th July, the new forum is active now if you would like to join us sooner.

Sign up for free at our Creation|Collaboration Forum.

We value all of our members greatly and a heartfelt Thank You from us all at C|C for all your posting, feedback and support so far.

We hope you will also follow our blog at and our Facebook page

Please leave us a message to let us know how you are all getting on in your respective areas and we're looking forward to talking to you on our new forum!

C|C Team xx

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Creation|Collaboration Blog - New Ideas & Feature Friday

We at Creation|Collaboration are working on new ideas for our blog but we would love to hear from you, our readers, and see what you would like to see featured? Is there anything in particular you'd like to know more about, do you have any ideas on a series of posts we could do, do you have any questions about running your own business that we could help with? Drop us an email at with the words "Blog Ideas" in the subject line.

We're also looking for women run companies to include in our Friday Feature slot each Friday - these have proved really popular and it's great to see how other businesses are fairing in this economy.  If you'd like your company to be featured, please email us at with the words "Feature Friday" in the subject line and we'll foward you on the relevant information. 

All you'd need to do is complete a questionnaire we'll send you and include between 5 - 7 images that show your business off to it's best, including your logo.  We have no limit on words so why not take this opportunity to get you and your business some fab (and free!) promotion! All requests are taken on a first come, first served basis and you will be notified of the date that your feature will be published. 

Remember, Creation|Collaboration is all about women run businesses networking and helping each other out so don't forget to keep in touch with us - we're here to help you out!

Check out our Facebook page at

Creation|Collaboration Start Up Sunday Week 3 - Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan is possibly the single most important thing you will when planning your business.  It will help you develop your business, dealing with the need for financial projections and budgeting, writing about the aims and objectives of your business along with your business goals and will help to collate not only the evidence that you may need to help support a request for financial assistance from your bank or any investors but to help focus and concentrate your own mind on what you want to achieve and why.

A business plan is a document that summarieis various points about your business, such as:
  • Where has your business come from, what was the concept behind starting out 
  • Where it is at this present time
  • Where it will be going in the future and how you intend to get it there
  • What financial package you need to achieve your aims
  • Why it's different from other businesses which will help you define how likely it is to be successful
  • What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunites and risks that will face your business as it grows

You don't need to write thesis with a million pages - a simple business plan can be a couple of A4 typed sheets of paper but can run to a couple of hundred pages; this really depends on the business, what it wishes to achieve and how it plans to get there.  For small businesses starting out, keep it simple.  If you get to the stage where you are seeking financial aid from the bank or wishing to apply for enterprise grants, you may need to update your current plan and delve deeper to provide additional details.  However, remember that these are busy people so keep it clear and simple.

The key parts of a business plan are:
Text - the details about your business; this will be the bulk of your final document
Evidence - to support any claims you make in your plan.
Financial information - projections and budgets to show that you afford to get where you want your business to go.  This will usually include a projected profit & loss account, balance sheet and cash flow statement

Do not underestimate the need for in depth planning - the old phrase "fail to plan, plan to fail" sounds horribly trite but it's very true.  Be very truthful about your business, be clear about what you want to do, where you want to go and how you're going to get there.  A good business plan will help you in the planning process because to provides a structure for you to investigate each aspect of the business.  It will help you:
  • To focus your mind and thoughts on the business and provide a structure to include all the information that you might miss out
  • To help clarify your thinking - writing out your plan will help you clearly define what it is you really want
  • To help you put foward any answers to any arguements that might be questioned by the bank or other funders - it will assist you in anticapting queries and answering them before they've even been asked
  • To help you focus on any risks (and any ensuing loss) in your plans - and, conversely, it helps focus on the opportunities and strengths of your business

How to Structure your Plan:
Your business plan should have a structure that allows for easy reading and understanding by the reader.  It should include:

1  An Executive Summary - this is a 2 or 3 page summary of the business, your product(s), any opportunities and the company's financial requirements. This is the first part of the report that will be read by any potential investors but the last to be written.  It helps summarise all the information and details contained within the body of the report.  This is the most important part of your document as it can be the only part read by investors - it's usually this part that helps them decide to read further.  It's important to note that most business plans are rejected before the Executive Summary has been fully read so spend time ensuring that you get this right. 

2  The Staff - for small businesses, this could amount to one person only but do detail your experience and skills

3  Your Products & Services - what they are and how they are unique from your competitors

4  Your Competitors - who are they and how they could affect your business

5  Your Marketing Strategy - how will you let prospective customers know about your product(s)/services?

6  Your Research & Development Strategy - for the development of new products/services

7  Your Operations Process - purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, customer service, infrastruture

8  Your Financial Details - requirements, project profit & loss information, balance sheet, projected cash flow statements

9  Appendices - any documents or other details that may be of required as evidence of any claims made in your document

Reviewing a Business Plan:
Your business plan helps you focus your thoughts about your business, what it is, where it's going, what you want it to achieve, how it will actually achieve what you want and how, and how much all this is going to cost.  Because it is such an important document and can take time to write, it is important that you review it fully before your sign off on it.

Ask yourself, does your plan tell the reader:
  • Who you are
  • What your product/service is and what will your customers pay for it
  • Who your customers are
  • What your unique selling point is
  • What will be the price your customers
  • How many products/services can you supply and how many customers will be willing to pay for it?
  • What are your delivery and other overhead costs?
  • What investment is required for further development of the company?
  • And possibly most importantly, is this a viable business?
Remember that your business plan isn't a static document - as we've seen in the last few years, economies change and businesses, in order to be flexible and stay in business, must be able to move with the changes.  Therefore, your business plan must a live document - as your business changes, so must your plan in order to remain current and up-to-date.  Growth is a live process, your business plan must be also. 

Don't forget to check out our next Start Up Sunday feature - Website or No Website?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Creation|Collaboration Feature Friday - Kirsty Mussett of Your Wedding Dress!

We're really delighted to be bringing you our 8th Feature Friday - today we're featuring Kirsty Mussett of Your Wedding Dress.

Hi Kirsty, thanks for talking to us today.  Can you introduce us to yourself and your company?
Hello everybody, my name is Kirsty Mussett of Your Wedding Dress. I am 23 years old, but don't let my age fool you! ;-) I married my fab husband James last year and we stay in Helensburgh. I opened my bridal boutique in Helensburgh on the 16th January of this year and have loved every minute of the process.

Kirsty & James at their wedding

Where did the idea of running this as a business come from?
I graduated from University with a Degree in Business and Management, including modules in Public Relations, Marketing and Communications & the Media.  Arising from this, I was employed as an Event Co-ordinator at The Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel for two years. Gaining extensive knowledge within this position, I moved onto setting up my own wedding and events business august 2009. From there, the idea came of opening my bridal shop. I have always dreamed of running my own business since I was young - I think this was helped by the fact that both my parents also run their own companies. The step from employed to self-employed was a big risk - but sometimes these risks are worth taking!

What do you love most about your business?
I love the fact that I have free reign on my company and the decisions are soley down to myself. I think this ensures you take more care for your work which is then translated into a better service to your customer.  I also love watching when my brides find their dream dress for their special day - there is NO better feeling than seeing the happiness on someone's face and knowing you have a little input into that happiness. I also love the challenge of every day work and new and exciting decisions to make.

What would you like to change?
I would probably like a bigger shop! Although I am very fortunate to have the store I do, I realise I need to start off small and work my way up - the safer option!

What is your aim for the next year?
Next year, I aim to have taken on another designer for my bridal gowns, and to be recognised in the industry as a young dynamic 24-year old who continues to bring great customer service to the industry and to grow and build new and exciting contacts.

Where do you ultimately see yourself?
I see myself competing on a par with the big companies - even though I come from a small town, it's important to me to show that even an independent business can demonstrate the skills required to succeed in this current economy.

What are your Top 5 Tips for new business women?
Tip 1: Really put yourself out there, word of mouth is a great form of advertising; if you make the right contacts, this can really work for you.

Tip 2: Build strong relationships, even with your "competitors"; you never know when a prospect to help each may happen.

Tip 3: Try and find out what funding is available to you, business gateway are a fantastic organisation to help and support you.

Tip 4: Networking events can really work for you! Just choose the right ones for yourself and your business and there will be no stopping you!!

Tip 5: Have fun, enjoy your business. You are starting a new life for yourself and your family, but you need to enjoy life. Don't stress, every situation can be worked out with a little bit of patience...ok a lot...and a supportive network around you.

A few last words - How can prospective clients contact you?

My address is:
Your Wedding Consultant
28 Sinclair Street
G84 8SU

Telephone: 0044 (0) 1436 670 339


Thank you so much Kirsty for talking us today, your store and dresses sound utterly fabulous! I can totally imagine that there have been many tears of happiness shed when brides have found your amazing creations!

Next week, we'll be featuring another guest contributor - make sure to check back next Friday!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Women Wednesday's 5th Blog Hop Feature

As next week is our last blog hop the blog hop feature will be our last also, all good things must come to an end! But don't forget we will still be doing our Feature Friday so lots of opportunity to be featured on our blog and tell us all about your business.

This week we are picking a winner from weeks 9 blog hop where we had 23 entries.

And the winner is...

Number 12!

Which is Soaphora

Well done, your blog will be featured with next weeks blog hop! We'll be in contact to see if you wouldn't mind answering a few questions to add with your blog feature.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Collaboration Women Wednesday Blog Hop - Week 9

Welcome to Creation|Collaboration's 9th Women Wednesday blog roll, hosted by Beads & More by Lois, Soaperstar and Plans and Presents

Creation|Collaboration was set up by eight women, all existing friends, who run small businesses from their homes. We have started Women Wednesday blog roll to link up with other women in business, spread the word about Creation|Collaboration and basically just have fun visiting all of your interesting blogs!

Join in each week and you could be the following weeks blog feature. Every Thursday we will use Randomness software to pick someone from that weeks blog hop and announce who will be the next blog feature.

Heres how you can join in with Collaboration Women Wednesday:
  • Link up your blog name and URL to your Women Wednesday blog post using the McKLinky below (you only need to add on one blog to be seen on all of the McKLinky blog roll's) Please note that it's for blogs only and not links to your websites or shops.
  • Follow our Creation|Collaboration blog and the hostesses listed in the first 3 slots.
  • Grab our Women Wednesday button and feature it on your blog or Women Wednesday blog post.
  • Follow and comment saying you're from Women Wednesday on as many blogs as you likes listed in the McKlinky box.
  • Follow back any new followers from Women Wednesday!
It's that easy and a fun way to discover new and interesting blogs and us women at Creation|Collaboration get to meet other women in business!

Last week Polly from Miss Polly was picked to be our 4th Blog Hop Feature!

Miss Polly is a new bath and beauty company based in Ayrshire, Scotland. All their products are handmade with beautiful packaging that makes them stand out.

We asked Polly 5 questions so we could find out more about her and her business.

1. Tell us about yourself and your business.

Hello, my name is Polly and I live in Ayrshire with my husband and son Matthew. I started making soaps as a hobby and gave myself 3 years to start a business. Once I mastered soaps, I then turned to body butters and I will be launching body scrubs, bath salts, bath oils, and Cold Process soaps all before the end of the year. 

I had no idea how much I would enjoy making bath products, or how much I would want other people to enjoy Miss Polly soaps, so it has been a wonderful suprise that the business has taken off so much quicker and more successfully than I ever imagined. And with so much more products than I ever dreamed of making.

2. What do you love most about having your own business?

My business is just that, my business. I thought it, dreamed it, cried over it, have handmade every single product and that is a huge boost for me. I'm not quite my own boss, as the big decisions (e.g. the big financial outlays) are made jointly with my husband, but being the owner of my own business has forced me to find skills and confidence I never knew I had, to get out there, to networking events, to shop owners, and put me and Miss Polly into the public eye. The success of Miss Polly rests on my shoulders, which might sound daunting, but is actually quite empowering and is a great motivator!

3. What would you like to change?

The usual - time and money. I work 3 days a week in an office, and it's hard to craft the other 2 weekdays with a very inquisitive toddler on the loose, so I do most things in the evenings and weekends. It's tiring but worth it as I get a huge feeling of satisfaction when I see all those pretty tins lined up on the shelf. And all the practising, the abandoned projects, just getting to this stage has been costly, so more time and money would help take the business forward and allow me to work on the ideas I have spinning around in my head.

4. What do you love most about Blogging?

For me, blogging isn't just about selling my products,  though that is important too, but it is a way of getting to know the people behing the brand, the individuals who are creating all these lovely products. I am interested to read about their thoughts and their lives, as we are all in similar positions and the community spirit among bloggers means that we all help and support each other, which is fantastic. I would not have been anywhere near this stage without fantastic feedback from networking sites. 

5. What is your most favourite thing you have made?

My favourite has to be my body butters because they work! I love that people will buy a Miss Polly body butter and within a week or 2 they will have lovely soft skin. I take enormous satisfaction from the knowledge that I've created something that has a direct beneficial effect on their skin. 

Thank you Polly for being part of the blog hop and feature.

You can buy Miss Polly products from their website

If you would like to be featured next week, make sure you join in this weeks blog hop, only 2 more left!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Start Up Sunday Week 2 - Company Structures: What's the difference & what option is best for you?

Welcome to the second instalment of our Start Up Sunday series. Before we start, I would like to stress that the information we provide is designed to be a guide to help support you and your business, it is not to be taken as professional or legal advice.  We are drawing on our collective knowledge of the UK system. If you live outside of the UK, please consult a local business advisor.

Today we will talk about your company structure. Each company entity has its own advantages and disadvantages. You need to consider these carefully as, unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all"l solution. You will probably find this to be one of the first hurdles in your quest to have a thriving and profitable business.

Firstly we have Sole Trader; you may more commonly hear this referred to as self employment.  This is a business owned by one person. Legally, the person and the business are one and the same. All financial risks are taken by that person and all that person's assets are included in that risk. You are obliged to keep careful and accurate business records detailing your income and expenses. If you work from home, you have to divide your utility bills accurately to account for what is business usage. Working from home may also have implications for your home insurance policy.

When you first set up as self employed, you have to register with HMRC.  We will cover this in more depth in Week 5. As a sole trader, you are totally and personally responsible for any debt or legal compensation your business becomes liable for so please check you are adequately and totally insured as you could, quite literally, lose everything you have worked for.

To recap, Sole trader:

  • Your business is your own
  • You can make all business decisions (presuming they are within the law) yourself and without interference
  • Admin costs are relatively low and you have to keep records for HMRC only

  • You are solely responsible for the companies finances, if it all goes wrong personal bankruptcy can occur

The next business type we will look at is the Partnership.

A partnership is a business run by two or more people together. There should be a written agreement detailing this arrangement. Profits are usually shared between partners according to the agreement. Although profits may be shared unequally, liabilities which may arise are shared jointly. This is something that everyone involved should be very clear about. Even if you only own 1% of the business, you will still be responsible for 100% of the liability. You have the same record keeping obligations and liabilities as a sole trader.

  • More money can be initially raised on start up
  • Records need kept for HMRC and you can share the workload. 

  • The same as a sole trader, personal assets are at risk if the business fails, bankruptcy is a possibility.

This moves us on to a Limited Liability Partnership. A LLP give the benefits of a partnership while limiting your liability, protecting your personal assets. You have to register it with companies house using a process similar to registering a limited company. The LLP will be a separate legal entity and, while the LLP itself will be liable for the full extent of its assets, the liability of the members will be limited. Under certain circumstances, however, claims for economic loss could be made against individual members who have been negligent. The business itself is controlled by the 'designated members' and the Members. Designated members have responsibilities similar to that of company directors. You can find out more by visiting the companies house website here.

  • An LLP is a alternative corporate business vehicle (being introduced April 6th 2001) that gives the benefits of limited liability but allows its members the flexibility of organising their internal structure as a traditional partnership. 

  • LLP have much more complex requirements for record keeping and returns. Yearly account must be filed with companies house as well as members and designated members completing their own personal returns.

Finally we come to Limited Companies. Unlike a Sole Trader or a Partnership, the Limited company is legally a separate entity in its own right. The directors and shareholders have limited liability. When a limited company is created it will have an Authorised Shareholding which specifies the limit of a shareholders liability. This means your personal assets are safe. A limited company needs to be registered with Companies House, you must also hold an AGM with all the shareholders within 18 months of formation and no longer than every 15 months after that. These meetings must receive, and approve, Annual Reports from directors and auditors. These reports must include summaries of the accounts, names of the directors, details about the shareholders, and other information. At these meetings, the shareholders must also elect directors and auditors. You must submit annual company returns to Companies House for inclusion in the Annual Reports. These are available for public inspection.

A limited company will always have staff as the Director of the company is considered to be an employee and a limited company must have at least one director and a company secretary. This means you would have to operate a PAYE scheme. We will briefly touch on this in Week 5. A limited company will have to pay corporation tax on all profits.

  • A limited company can protect a director, who act within the law, from legal actions brought against them. 

  • There is significantly more paperwork involved in running a limited company than any other option. You cannot keep your business affairs private and there is a small charge yearly for submitting your annual accounts to companies house.

In conclusion, from a record keeping, tax and NI perspective, you are usually better off being a sole trader or partnership - however, very few partnerships outlast a business. Indeed, many very good friends who have a long standing and stable friendship often turnout to be shockingly bad business partners.

We hope you've have enjoyed Week 2 of our Start Up Sunday series - please make sure to check back with us on Sunday 20 June for Week 3.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Women Wednesday's 4th Blog Hop Feature

We are on to our 4th blog hop feature already! Unfortuantly there will only be two more blog hops, all good things must come to an end! But don't forget we will still be doing our Feature Friday so lots of opportunity to be featured on our blog and tell us all about your business.

This week we are picking a winner from weeks 8 blog hop where we had 24 entries.

And the winner is...

Number 23!

Which is Polly from Miss Polly

Well done Polly, your blog will be featured with next weeks blog hop! We'll be in contact to see if you wouldn't mind answering a few questions to add with your blog feature.