Monthly Archives :

February 2021

Online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme Service Extended

Online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme Service Extended 150 150 Cypher

Online VAT Deferral Payment Scheme Service Extended

Businesses that deferred VAT payments last year now have more time to join the new scheme to pay it in smaller monthly instalments it was announced this week.

In a blog at the start of the year, we wrote about the various options to defer Tax owed from last year. If you did decide to defer your VAT payments, due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you now have three options. You can:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full, on or before 31 March 2021
  • join the VAT deferral new payment scheme – the online service is open and has been extended to 21 June 2021
  • contact HMRC on Telephone: 0800 024 1222 by 30 June 2021 if you need extra help to pay

Over half a million businesses are thought to have deferred VAT payments last year, mainly due to the Covid Pandemic, but these businesses can now join the online VAT deferral payment scheme which has opened last month.

Under the VAT Payment Deferral Scheme, businesses have the option to pay their deferred VAT in equal, consecutive monthly instalments from March 2021 April, May or June 2021 without incurring interest. 

Payment Instalment options available

The date you join the scheme will determine the maximum number of payment instalments that are available to you.

The following table sets out the monthly joining deadlines (to allow for Direct Debit processing) and the corresponding number of maximum instalments (including the first payment):

If you join by Number of instalments available to you
19 March 2021 11
21 April 2021 10
19 May 2021 9
21 June 2021 8

Businesses need to opt-in to the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme themselves; their agents can’t do it for them, while it is open between 23rd February 2021 and 21st June 2021. For those that opt-in to the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme, this means that your VAT liabilities due between 20 March and 30 June 2020, will now need to be paid by 31 March 2022.

If you don’t pay your VAT, don’t opt in to the new scheme and don’t contact HMRC to discuss your situation, you may be charged interest or a penalty on the outstanding funds.

If you are still concerned about not being able to pay HMRC, speak to your accountant or ring this number and speak to the HMRC Coronavirus Helpline: 0800 024 1222 before 30 June 2021.

As the UK begins its journey on the roadmap the Prime Minister has set to come out of lockdown, it’s important that as a business- and a sector- we learn our lessons from 2020 and adapt accordingly. For the last 12 months we have tried to ensure that business owners know their options, understand the support that is on offer and that we are available for them.

Find out more

If your business could use the Cypher touch, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Cypher Joins the Hoops

Cypher Joins the Hoops 150 150 Cypher

Cypher Joins the Hoops

I am delighted to say that earlier his month Cypher joined Oxford City as one of their Principal Club Partners until the end of the 2021/22 season.

The news and timing of joining 90 other local organisations in support of the club is slightly bitter sweet as during week two of the new sponsorship, the league that the Hoops play in; the Vanarama National League South was cancelled with immediate effect.

Clubs in the league had been asked to vote on their preferred outcome of the campaign after a £10m government grant expired last month. And 24 of the 43 sides in both the National Leagues North and South opted for the season to be declared null and void.

We know this is a massive blow for City, who were fourth in the table, unbeaten since December and wanted to play on.

But we remain optimistic. In the past 12 months, in particular, we have spent a lot of our time working with clients and business that have had to pause, close and then reopen after a period of furlough or due to lockdown. And that, along with the other 90 commercial partners I am sure, is what we intend to do for Oxford City.

The Business Club we are members of as part of our new deal gives business owners the perfect platform to share ideas and network with local organisations associated with the football club. Ultimately, being involved in the Business Club helps us help the club make a real difference to the local community.

We were buoyed by these words from Mick Livesey, Commercial Director, Oxford City FC.

“I am delighted to welcome Cypher as one of our latest commercial partners. I am so proud that our commercial partners are the best in the business, they have our back, and they support us. Alongside them, Oxford City is ready and willing to carry on being a vehicle for positivity in the community and a beacon of positivity for everyone in Oxfordshire. Anything in the future is possible.”

We can’t wait for the start of next season. Not least because we are sponsoring a match and will have 400 tickets to distribute to clients and contacts. Come on you hoops!

Cypher Helps Rowood Open Doors to a Fireproof Plan!

Cypher Helps Rowood Open Doors to a Fireproof Plan! 150 150 Cypher

Cypher Helps Rowood Open Doors to a Fireproof Plan!

With more than twenty-five years’ experience, Rowood Handmade Kitchens and Joinery Ltd has become one of Oxfordshire’s premier specialist carpentry and joinery companies, delivering handmade, quality joinery that is guaranteed for life for both residential and commercial properties.

From their purpose built HQ in Brize Norton, MD Nick Rowland, and his team design, create, deliver and install anything from individually designed doors and windows to kitchens, bathrooms, dining rooms or bedroom furniture to drive gates from scratch, all from sustainable timber.

With such an eye for style, precision and reassurance, it was no surprise that Nick chose Cypher to be the accountancy firm for his business.

“It was all about Matt Williams”, Nick explains. “It didn’t matter about the name above the door, I wanted to work with Matt. He is a problem solver, he has a can do attitude. He has earned the respect of a lot of people for the way he approaches things and so it was an easy choice.”

Rowood, has built a solid reputation for delivering on time and to a quality few can match and boasts an impressive client list that includes Blenheim Palace.

Business was good, but Nick had spotted a gap in the market and wanted to fill it – literally, with bespoke, handmade fire doors.

He explains, “You can buy commercial fire doors anywhere, but for many of the businesses and period properties we work with there is no uniform size, no straight lines, so getting a door off the shelf to fit is impossible. We take that pain away by offering a bespoke service, and make the doors to fit.”

At the start of 2020, Nick had plans in place, test products made, testing complete. He was ready to open the Oxford Fire Door Company. Then lockdown hit and the doors were well and truly slammed shut. But with the support of Cypher Nick was able to open the new company and create another chapter for his quality handcrafted furniture.

Says Nick, “We had everything ready, but we had sat on the idea. We spoke to Matt and he helped convince us that we could go to market. We spent the first part of lockdown getting ready, testing more products, getting some photography done, so when the world was ready, so were we.

“Despite having 25 years in business, a year ago we panicked; we didn’t know what was going to happen a lot of us didn’t. It was Matt that guided us through, he opened the doors, helped us create this new start up. He helped us consolidate with the other businesses and helped protect our existing assets and it is already doing really well.”

One year on, Nick is considering expanding and utilising more space in the Rowood’s HQ building with the support from Cypher as solid and tailored as one of Nick’s own designs.

If you would like us to help your business as we did Rowood’s HQ, get in touch.

Getting Started – Happy Entrepren-year

Getting Started – Happy Entrepren-year 150 150 Cypher

Getting Started – Happy Entrepren-year

At the start of the year, Alan Clark from Exponential Coaching and I decided to record a series of podcasts. Our intention was to let business owners know that they aren’t alone; we think that there is a real clearing of the paths for entrepreneurship, a clearing for diversity and we are rooting for you.

Our first episode was titled, Getting Started; obviously it was our first crack at a podcast, but getting started also reflected our thoughts that for entrepreneurs and new business owners 2021 is the year to get started!

At Cypher we see lots of people who have perhaps become disgruntled with their lot, sick of working for ‘the man’ and have decided to try it for themselves. We have also seen, throughout our towns, that traditional big high-street chains are struggling, so maybe, this year we will see a new generation of independent shops, cafes, and businesses reclaim our high streets.

Talking to Alan, he feels that there could be a great reset coming; a clearing of the way for new, independent businesses that bring high levels of service and diversity to their towns and cities. Entrepreneurship brings something different to the market; it’s inspiring.

Welcome to 2021, welcome to the New Entrepren-year!

But getting started is hard. We speak to a number of start-ups and typically, as employees who have worked in a business maybe in a key role, outside of their function the accounting, the marketing, the recruitment- in fact all of the back office functions have been done for them. Now as an entrepreneur, one of the hardest things to adjust to is that they are now responsible for everything. Usually this includes things they have never encountered before, for example, dealing with accountants, dealing with suppliers, dealing with marketing or keeping their business Facebook or personal LinkedIn profile up to date.

It can be great fun dealing with some of the more creative aspects of setting up a new business, choosing fonts for letterheads or getting your logo right and building a website for example, but there is also a lot fear for the future when we get started. It means we can terrify ourselves from day one.

One of Alan’s top tips for business owners to help them overcome this initial surge of terror is to really connect with the change they want to bring to the world; connect with their purpose. It allows them to put their time and energy into that rather than worrying whether anyone will like a LinkedIn update! Get real clarity on the product and service you offer and why you are doing it – the scary future is largely made up anyway!

Our second tip is to not be afraid to ask what you think is a beginner’s question. Everyone that has started a business has, at one time or another, been where you are. Everyone has to speak to an accountant for the first time. Everyone thinks they are asking silly question like should I be a sole trader or limited company, when should I register for VAT, how should I pay my Corporation Tax. Well two things to note here. One, no, they aren’t silly questions and two, everyone asks them!

Another, helpful context, at any stage in your business cycle, is to think more about the experience you create. Reconnect with the big, game changing idea you had in the first place and create the best service and experience for your clients. Don’t worry about the competition. It will help bring your anxiety levels down and it can be extremely liberating too.

This idea of creating a great experience doesn’t have to just apply to customers either, it can be a way you deal with suppliers, your network and as you grow the people that work with you in your business. You can create a wonderful end to end experience for your team and you can do this right at the start. Too many people focus on the customer journey but if the staff hate working with you, it will fall over pretty quickly.

It is also much better to build the systems for the business you want in 12 months from the start, while you are nimble. Otherwise, you will get really successful and have to change all of your systems and processes when you are really busy, which is painful. Or, another way to look at it is if you think small, you will stay small. If you don’t have the ambition to get to the next level your business will always just be a job for you. When you are looking for promotion, you dress for the job you want, so implement the systems you want for a bigger business.

There is a trap for every business owner is that they don’t create a business for themselves, they create a Job. Once the product or service is out there, then the next step is to take someone on. It isn’t a business until it is earning money when you’re not there. It is the big hurdle for many small business owners.

Alan calls this intent. If you start with the intention that you will implement the systems and structure, the culture and the service levels that helps you run a business and delight clients, you won’t have to worry that they will be able to evolve as you grow. You have all heard the adage ‘reach for the stars, you might hit the moon’, well this way of thinking allows a business owner to access a mind-set that stretches you, it makes you better and as you get better, more people talk about you and you do go to new levels without limiting yourself.

As a business owner, being the best version of yourself you can be, will get you to the stars, or at least the moon.

Another metaphor I have heard was likening a successful business to the Chard in London. It is a skyscraper visible from all over the capital. Look at it now and it looks very impressive. But when we see only the finished structure we forgets the fact – like a successful business – that it took 10 years to build and in that time there were mistakes and hardships and struggles. Another similarity is that it was built amongst other skyscrapers that already dominated the skyline. They were there to be seen, like other businesses already in your marketplace.

The start of this blog focused on a throwback to when high streets were dominated by small, independent, diverse businesses. Well in another trip down memory lane, we think the famous Lord Kitchener World War 2 image is apt. Right now your business community needs you! We know it can be tough to get started but the business landscape is ready for diversity.

In summary, to avoid the fear of failure, before you even start, get real clarity in your purpose, be absolutely clear on the offer you are bringing to the world and then get better at it. Get a mentor, get a coach, buy books, read and learn, because a fundamental truth is that the better your product and service the more people will buy it. Then build the systems and infrastructure for the business you want, not the one you have on day 1. Be agile, your business plan will change, it will evolve and that is good.

Ultimately remember that version 1 is better than version none!

New editions of the Mind Your Business Podcast appear every Friday. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts etc to have it delivered straight to your device.

Crave clarity not certainty

Crave clarity not certainty 150 150 Cypher

Crave Clarity Not Certainty

They say two things in life are certain; death and taxes. Being an accountant, I focus on helping clients with one of those eventualities more than the other.

Despite this, we have a lot of conversations with business owners who want absolute certainty about an idea or a proposal before they can progress it. Often when building a financial forecast, they are projecting a financial future for themselves, their families and want us to tell them that 100% what we project will happen. They want absolute certainty that if they take on three more hires, or open another office or venue that their business will make another £500,000. Sadly no-one can guarantee that level of certainty and so we encourage clients to focus on clarity.

Clarity is something we can control. We can be very clear on the product or service we’re going to deliver, we can get very clear on when we are going to do this and we can clear on why we are doing it, our purpose. With this clarity, we can maximize the possibility of a set of results. It’s still not a certainty but we are maybe moving into the realms of probability.

Craving clarity not, certainty was a wonderful topic to discuss with Alan Clark on the Mind your Business Podcast. Typically this conversation comes up a lot when we are business planning with clients. In every forecast, there is an element of the known and an element of the unknown. For the majority of businesses the large area of uncertainty is around sales. To counter this, we have precedents that help us predict what will happen; we look at past performance, we look at industry benchmarks for a particular product, we make sure that we have absolute clarity on costs such as overheads and wages and we know what a business owner wants to take out of the business. If we are clear on all of this then use probability and a bit of common sense and try to set realistic goals.

Global pandemics aside, if your sales haven’t fallen off a cliff in the last 12 months, then the likelihood is they won’t this year.

Clarity starts when you write down your plans. This scares a lot of business owners because as soon as you write down that you want to be a half-a -million-pound business or you want to take out a £30,000 dividend, you feel you have to achieve it and if you don’t then you will have failed. But if you don’t write it down you’ve never failed that’s just the human psyche at work.

In his coaching business, Alan has frameworks that he uses to describe this level of clarity for clients. One of his particular favourites is called V.U.C.A. V.U.C.A was originally coined by the American military to allow them to view the world in a certain way. It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

In the UK over the last 12 months against a backdrop of Brexit or the Covid pandemic, your markets might be volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, but there is an antidote to this called V.U.C.A Prime. V.U.C.A Prime stands for Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility. We talked a lot about Getting Started on the Podcast and in a previous blog. We discussed how business owners could shoot for the stars to get to the Moon, but to get there they needed to be agile, flexible and allow a business to evolve over time.

Clarity brings control. Before any performance comes action. Clarity defines that action it allows you to act in a focused way. You’ve done your thinking, you know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how to make the product or service better, how to astonish customers, how to act, how to work with your team. All of this comes from clarity and that 100% has an impact on your performance.

During the pandemic, we have seen business owners that had clarity and who created action, while others were crippled by inaction. They were swamped with information, burdened by negativity, they didn’t know which way to turn and so we spent a lot of time trying to provide that clarity, looking forward to how businesses could get itself back out there, open up again and be a strong as possible.

Many of those that acted brought subtle changes to their business. They pivoted. They looked at their business and understood its purpose and what their customers wanted and needed from them. Some, for example decided that they didn’t need bricks-and-mortar but could still deliver their purpose. They retained the clarity on what they were trying to achieve. These businesses might find they will need to pivot a number of times over the next 4 or 5 years but that is ok.

As well as useful frameworks, Alan likes a quote too. He cites Werner Erhard, an American author and lecturer who says ‘what is undistinguished runs you’. It means that without clarity you are run by emotion. Emotion makes you unclear, runs you ragged and prevents you from creating your optimal levels of service for your customers.

If you are reading this and are unsure where to start, there are two elements that it is essential you have clarity on. The first is your financials; your costs, your margins, your overheads, your conversion rate. The second is your purpose. Take a piece of paper and write down all the ways that you can delight your clients, your customers and your team. Obviously, there is a lot more to running a business but even this small activity frees you to undertake an action and ultimately delight your customers, which ultimately has to be very positive for your business.

In summary, seek clarity not certainty. V.U.C.A is a lens through which you can interpret the world. It comes in two forms; volatility uncertainty complexity and ambiguous which is a way to describe the world or the business environment you find yourself in. The Antidote is V.U.C.A Prime, which stands for Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Agility. It’s about understanding what you want to bring to the world, the industry you are in, what your clients are looking for, the change that the world is craving and then adding clarity about what you are going to do about it.

New editions of the Mind Your Business Podcast appear every Friday. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts etc to have it delivered straight to your device.