Catch up on the big issues in this week’s Small Business Bites. We cut through the noise to dig out stories that really matter to UK small business owners, from the last month. Here’s our roundup of things you need to know.
Over half of small business leaders suffer sleep deprivation over money
53% of small business leaders believe they routinely suffer from sleep deprivation due to finance-related worries, according to a survey of over 250 leaders commissioned by KPMG.
More than 1 in 8 of those who are routinely sleep-deprived say their sleep is disrupted by financial concerns on most nights. Having 3 or more money-related worries typically results in leaders losing sleep up to once a week.
The main causes of sleepless nights are matters that are not typically managed by an accountant, with almost 75% saying management of cash flow is a major worry. Accountants’ basic responsibilities are much less of a concern, with only 29% of leaders saying that correct filing of tax returns is a current or previous concern.
Katy Tanner, director at Robert Half, spoke about sleep issues: “Daily stress factors at the office follow us all home. While most employees have lost sleep over work, there are certain measures we can follow to reduce stress. Regular meetings, addressing issues while they’re fresh, being proactive with planning and taking regular breaks, all help us to ease workplace stress and get a better night’s sleep.
“A bad night sleep also kills workplace positivity, which has huge business implications. Employees who are burned out, frustrated or unhappy are far more prone to skip work. In contrast, well rested employees are much more committed, healthy and productive. This, in turn, has a direct impact on the bottom line. Now is the time for employees and employers to realise the importance of sleep and its impact on effectiveness and wellbeing.”
‘Digital tax will cause £330m IT burden on small businesses’
Small business owners may be set to endure yet more sleepless nights as they adapt to new tax rules.
According to the government, most small businesses will have to upgrade their computer hardware to comply with the new regulations. This includes landlords and the self-employed.
The official estimate is that small businesses will need to spend £330m to meet requirements to keep digital records and and send quarterly updates to HMRC.
In order to meet the government’s plan to digitise the tax system, half of the affected small businesses (3.4m) will have to upgrade their hardware, while 1 in 10 will need to purchase new equipment.
HMRC insists that businesses will save money because people will no longer waste time recollecting transactions that took place months ago. The tax authority believes the initiative will reduce the £8bn a year in tax lost from taxpayer errors, while saving small businesses a net £80m of administrative costs a year.
The Federation of Small Businesses has a different view however, saying the change could triple the administrative burden on small businesses. It says the changes could cost them about £3,000 a year in time, salaries and accountants’ fees.
The estimates provided by HMRC revealed that it will take each business 6 hours on average to get used to the new system. This will cost small businesses £430m in total. The availability of free software is likely to limit the extra software costs to £10m, but businesses are also expected to pay an extra £90m of accountancy costs.
Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Treasury select committee said: “There are huge differences between the FSB and HMRC about the administrative burden of ‘making tax digital’. This is the heart of the matter . . . A comprehensive pilot should shed some light on which assumption is closer to reality.”
The changes will affect around 3.3m self-employed individuals, including around 900,000 landlords, 1.6m companies, over 400,000 ordinary partnerships, and about 600,000 businesses with income from different sources.
The good thing is that business owners have time to prepare for the change, as following a concession in the Spring Budget, the new rules will not come into force until April 2019 for those with an annual turnover below the £83,000 VAT registration threshold. Those with turnover of less than £10,000 will be exempted from the updates.
Almost one in five of Britain’s SMEs miss payday in battle to stay in business
Many small businesses could do without this ‘£330m burden’, as they are struggling to survive as it is.
17% of British businesses have had to miss a payday to stay afloat, according to research commissioned by npower business.
The energy supplier surveyed over 1000 SME Senior Decision Makers, also finding that 19% of SMEs rely heavily on personal savings for financial support.
Richard Longbottom, Acting Head of npower Business, urged SMEs to help each other: “SMEs are super powering towns and cities across Britain, helping to determine the success and character of regions across the UK. However, it’s clear from our research that some of these businesses are relying entirely on themselves to succeed. At npower Business, we believe SMEs could do more to learn from each other in the same way that we continually learn from those who we talk to everyday. This is why we are calling on SMEs to share their superpowers and learn from each other to help improve their bottom line.”
The findings also revealed that a substantial proportion of SME leaders are uncertain about their business’ growth. A quarter of the respondents are less confident about their growth prospects than they were last year.
67% of these leaders attributed their concern to Brexit. It will be interesting to see how the confirmation that Britain will leave the EU, through the triggering of Article 50, will affect SME leaders’ confidence after so much uncertainty. Reassuringly, over a third (36%) are actually more confident about their business prospects for 2017.