How needless admin can hurt SMEs

Every business owner knows the tedious admin work that needs to be done to run a successful business, including accounting, employee payroll, inventory and more. It is all too easy to persevere with inefficient systems and traditional processes simply because they have formed a part of our working routine and the hassle and time required to rework these age-old practises is too daunting. Unfortunately, such thinking simply isn’t logical and these practises will inevitably not stand the test of time. For every day that we continue to allow our businesses to be burdened by unnecessary admin and archaic process, we are missing out on the opportunity to modernise, streamline and produce a thriving business that can lead to personal fulfillment and a comfortable life!

Most SME entrepreneurs are working around the clock to run their business and have no further capacity to think outside the box and get creative. To tackle this issue, in our world of fast pace technological development, one of the priorities should be to scour the market for new tech that unburdens us of these repetitive tasks and leaves our minds free to create, build, invent and generally contribute to our societies with our brilliant business ideas.

Often business owners will hesitate to purchase software to make administrative tasks simpler because it seems like something they cannot afford. What they are not considering is the cost of team hours and the potential for human error, which in the long run will cost the business a lot more.

A report from Sage found that entrepreneurs currently spend an average of 120 working-days every year on admin tasks, accounting for around five per cent of the manpower of the average SME. The same research said that increasing productivity of just 5.6% in the UK could lead to an increase in GDP of at least £33.9bn a year. Considering that businesses can be more productive by simply replacing their manual admin work with computerised processes this can be very easily achieved.

What if you can use innovative technology to not just save time and money but to earn you extra money on the side?

 Many great entrepreneurs have come up with software and cloud solutions to provide automation for time saving purposes. Akoni has taken this one step further and come up with a solution for a task most SMEs don’t even consider taking on, because

  1. They are not aware of the potential earnings they could profit from
  2. They don’t have the time and resources to do it

This task is, broadly speaking, about cash management. The most underutilised asset of SMEs today is cash. A business will have a certain amount of cash savings, sitting on an account and earning nothing, when it could be generating interest rates amounting to the value of being able to invest further into the business, such as hiring more employees for example. Large corporations already do this today, because they either use treasury services offered by their banks or hire their own treasurers, who will be up to date on market rates, move cash around to different accounts based on maximum returns and deal with the paperwork involved. SMEs cannot afford this luxury and banks do not provide such services to anyone but large corporates.

Akoni’s platform revolutionises this problem and provides an easy to use service, which levels the playing field and gives SMEs the same opportunity to optimise return on their cash savings. The best part is, that there is almost no paperwork involved and virtually no time needs to be invested to do this because everything can be done in a matter of minutes in a few clicks.

Our world is moving faster than ever, don’t let your business stay behind! Use technology to your advantage for your venture to succeed.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register free at panel.akonihub.com and follow us on Twitter

 

Why is Akoni different? How we set ourself apart from the crowd

SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy and yet they are chronically underserved by the banking sector. For many people this might be an unfortunate yet passing fact but for business owners across the UK, it’s an everyday reality.

At Akoni, we know how critical change in the business banking sector is for SMEs because we’ve experienced the challenges first hand.  Our founder, Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, first conceived of Akoni while she was the frustrated financial director of an SME herself. Despite holding up to £50m in cash, she found that there were few market options available to help the company maximize their returns and little interest from banks whose business services were designed around serving larger clients.

We believe that it’s absurd that £50m has become an insufficient sum to attract any engagement from the banks and we are driven to provide all UK businesses, regardless of size, with the resources they need to thrive and grow.  We know that it’s much easier for a company to focus on what they do best when they’re given the tools they need to streamline their finances and efficiently increase their returns. It was this passion for equal access to an efficient and fair business banking system that first inspired Felicia to found Akoni Hub and these values remain key to Akoni’s future.

With hundreds of financial products available to small businesses it is alarming to think that so few of them have been designed and conceived by people with real experience of what a small business requires. All to often banks reserve their most powerful tools and offerings for the large corporates before presenting a much reduced selection to smaller businesses – a selection that rarely, if ever, is specifically tailored to meet the differing requirements of an SME. Akoni co-founded by a CEO with real, endlessly frustrating, experience of seeking out financial products for the SME market are different.

Financial services have traditionally been plagued by a lack of diversity that has deprived the sector of the innovation and growth that a multi-cultural environment can provide. While many companies now acknowledge how important it is for their team to reflect the broader community they serve, few have created a culture that doesn’t just tolerate diversity but actively seeks it out.

For Akoni, however, equality isn’t a choice but is integral to who we are. Our team draws from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and is led by a female founder with experience in finance. It’s disappointing that having a female founder is still of note in 2018 and that last year only 9% of funding for UK start-ups went to companies with a female founder. Yet for us, embracing diversity is a natural extension of our commitment to the values that first inspired our platform.

UK SMEs should have access to the same services that larger corporates have long enjoyed. When these services are denied to smaller businesses they miss out on valuable opportunities to access extra income. This disparity is not only unfair but is also damaging to the UK economy as the success of SMEs is critical to maximizing growth.

It’s clear that the banking sector itself must learn to embrace whatever innovation is required to give all their clients the tools needed to achieve their best results.  Akoni believes that our platform will play an important role in modelling this change and we are deeply passionate about leading the way to a future where efficient and responsive business banking is equally accessible to all.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register free at panel.akonihub.com and follow us on Twitter

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day- Women in Business

International Women’s Day is just around the corner and there is so much to showcase when it comes to the crucial role that women are playing in building SMEs around the world.

As the motor of every nation’s economy, SMEs are recognised for their importance to a country’s prosperity.  In the UK alone, over 99% of businesses can be classified under this category, employing between 0-250 employees and generating more than half of total business turnover in Britain each year.

In 2016, 22% of SMEs with no employees and 20% of SMEs with employees were led by women which in concrete terms means that around 1.2 million SMEs in the UK currently have a woman at the helm.

Unfortunately, female leadership is still sharply segmented by industry in a broad reflection of the wider inequities of gender participation in the labour market.  According to analysis by the SME Finance Monitor, only 3% and 4% respectively of female SME leaders work in the ‘Transport, Storage, and Communication’ and ‘Construction’ sectors compared to 18% each in the women dominated ‘Health and Social work’ and the ‘Community, Social and Personal Services’ sectors.

Addressing this issue will take time, but we can start by encouraging leadership role across all fields- regardless of gender.  Women should be supported to lead in traditionally male dominated industries like construction, while men should also be encouraged to spearhead initiatives in the ‘people oriented’ sectors which can be subject to biases stemming from outdated misconceptions of ‘female oriented’ industries, particularly in roles outside of top level management.

The persistence of the gender divide in leadership and the lagging rates at which women launch their own business remains a critical societal issue because diversity in leadership matters. The existence of role-models at the top can inspire other would-be-entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and model gender equality and achievement to their employees and colleagues.

Closing the gap between male and female rates of entrepreneurship could also have a profound effect on the nation’s economy.  Despite recent evidence that more women than men are choosing to move into self-employment since the 2008 recession, the RBS Enterprise Tracker – which tracks people’s attitudes to starting up in business – found during 2016 that women continued to be less likely than men to want to start a business (30% vs. 38%) and that fewer women were in the process of starting their own business (3% vs. 5%).

Research cited by the Federation of Small Businesseses suggests that an additional 900,000 businesses would be created if the UK achieved the same level of female entrepreneurship as in the US, resulting in an additional £23 billion gross value added to the UK economy. In England alone, 150,000 extra businesses would be created per annum if women started businesses at the same rate as men.

The final piece to the puzzle is the funding gap between male and female led SMEs, which can hobble promising new start-ups before they can truly grow. According to a 2017 TechCrunch review of Venture Capital funding in the US, since 2010 women led teams raised an average $82 for every $100 a male founded team raises. In early-stage venture funding, the picture was even bleaker with women-only founding teams raising on average $77 for every $100 a male-only founded team raised.

While these statistics are for the US, VCs are similarly male dominated environments in the UK both in terms of businesses funded and the gender makeup of the VCs themselves. Securing funding is critical for SMEs and the predominance of male dominated fundraising environments can make this a more difficult process for female led businesses.

Of course, such hurdles are frequently overcome everyday by the countless trailblazing women who lead successful businesses across the country. In 2018, however, we hope that this International Women’s Day will be one of the last where admiration for such success still needs to be paired with a call to action for the continued fight for equality.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register free at panel.akonihub.com and follow us on Twitter

Autumn Budget 2017 – What we expect

Chancellor Phillip Hammond will announce his second budget tomorrow.

Below is an overview of some of the points that the Chancellor is likely to raise in relation to UK businesses.

1. Business Rates

The Chancellor’s changes to the business rates system in April meant that there would be big changes to what businesses would have to pay. The public uproar has meant that Philip Hammond is thought to be considering a range of solutions to address some of these issues, including a possible self-assessment style process. This however, has also come under fire as an additional administrative cost to businesses.

2. VAT for self-employed

There are 4.81m self-employed people in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as of September 2017. Increasing the national insurance contributions for them has been a subject of budget discussions since the publication of the March Budget. Even though the proposal was scrapped following public controversy, it is now expected that the threshold at which the self-employed must pay VAT, currently at £85,000, will be lowered.

Issues particularly relating to the start-up community:

3. EIS- investments

It is widely anticipated that the Enterprise Incentive Scheme (EIS), which provides tax relief worth 30% for investments in high-risk companies plus Capital Gains Tax exemption on the disposal of those shares after a set period, will be amended. EIS has been a useful source of finance for start-up companies since its introduction in 1994. However, the EIS has been put under review, with many anticipating that the relief will be cut to 20% and that there will be a requirement for these shares to be held for longer.

4. Scale Ups

Although the independent Office for Budget Responsibility is expected to cut growth in the short term for this year from 2 per cent to about 1.6 per cent, there is still a lot of confidence in business and opportunities for capital investment, to remain positive. Nonetheless, there is a gap in funding for scaling up successful start-ups. One potential option being suggested is to make changes to the R&D tax credits or patent box claims, taking steps to make it easier for people to claim, reducing the complexity and speeding up the process.

We are interested to see the chancellor’s announcement tomorrow. Stay tuned for further updates.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register free at AkoniHub.com and follow us on Twitter