New Business Resolutions
We’re all hoping that 2021 will be a better year, but we don’t really have much control over making that happen! So what positive steps can we take to make our businesses a little better this year?
It’s very common for senior managers and business leaders to feel that they ‘can’t’ take time off because their businesses need them too much. However, that can be an indication of weakness in a business, either in its structure or in employee productivity. As we head towards a second year of the pandemic, anything could happen to any employee, so now is a good time to audit why certain people are ‘indispensable’ to your business, and what you can do about it. After all, people generally become less good at their jobs the less time they have off – even business owners! Whether it’s through contingency planning, new hires, or restructuring job roles and workflows, try to get your business into the position this year where individuals can take the time off they need, without returning to absolute disaster!
As discussed in our previous blogs, one of the key effects of the pandemic has been accelerating the adoption of automation by businesses across all sectors. While we should not downplay the effect that automation will ultimately have on the jobs market, and the morality of automating existing roles during a pandemic, it cannot be denied that automation gives businesses significant advantages. From streamlining processes, to providing ‘Covid-secure’ services, saving money, and saving time, almost all businesses can benefit from automating at least part of their operations. This year could be a good time to reimagine what your business would look like with various automated parts, balance that against the human impact, and start the process of planning for the future.
Electrify your transport
Due to the climate crisis, the government has been incentivising the purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles for some time now, as those of you who attended our ‘Electrify your Business’ event in 2019 will know. Given the imminent introduction of Clean Air Zones, including one in Birmingham, and the commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, now is a great time to switch your company car fleet to electric or hybrid – the former attracting a 0% benefit-in-kind rate.
Spread a little love
Speaking of benefits in kind… Your employees most definitely deserve a treat, particularly if they haven’t been able to let their hair down at your expense at the annual Christmas Party in 2020. You can give gifts of up to £50 in value (not cash, although shopping vouchers are fine) to show that you appreciate them, and save some tax as these class as trivial benefits. Employees may well appreciate a gift that brightens up their home office, or a voucher to help them towards the cost of a weekly shop.
Dot and cross your records
This year, despite all of us having better things to do, is likely to see an increase in HMRC investigations. Towards the end of 2020 HMRC were already starting to issue fines and convictions for Furlough Fraud, and had already been pursuing landlords for unpaid tax on rental properties, as well as continuing with their general investigations as normal. By and large, when tax is underpaid, it’s likely to be because of a genuine mistake – particularly with furlough, which was set up in such a hurry and changed so many times, that employers were almost set up to fall foul of the regulations! HMRC do recognise this, so rather than burying your head in the sand and hoping they don’t see you, take a little time in 2021 to check that you haven’t made any errors. If you do find a CJRS mistake, you have until 12 months after your accounting period to repay (or until 31st January 2022 for sole traders), and for rental income errors you can take advantage of the Let Property Scheme to declare an underpayment.
Contact your accountant for advice
We’re not just here to do your tax return (although it does kind of feel that way at this time of year!) We can offer business advice to help with all of the above steps, whether looking at your business structure to identify new ways of working, providing Cloud Accounting as your first step towards automation, putting you in touch with dealers for your switch to electric vehicles, or providing Fee Protection insurance to mitigate any HMRC investigation costs, we’re here to help! To book a February business advice appointment with your accountant, click here.