The Christmas lights are switched on at street corners; mulled wine is on the drinks menu at your local pub; and the sound of jingle bells can be heard from open shop doors. As the pre-Christmas shopping buzz hits the high street why not ‘go local’ and get behind those small, independent businesses by celebrating Small Business Saturday on 5 December 2015?
A national day originating from our American cousins in 2010, we are now approaching the UK’s third anniversary of Small Business Saturday, shining a light on small businesses in a way which benefits the local and national economy, not only at Christmas but raising their profile for the year ahead. The UK Government has backed the campaign by recognising the enormous contribution that small businesses make to the country’s economic recovery. There are 4.8 million small businesses in the UK and over 14 million people work in them. Closer to home, Edinburgh City Council has encouraged everyone to support local shops and retailers within vibrant town centres which are crucial to the growth of our city’s economy. Statistics indicate that 200,000 people live within 1km catchment of our town centres and over 25,000 people are employed within their immediate area which is why it’s important to commit to building stronger high streets.
We know that small business owners need to work hard and commit to their business all year round. As 2016 draws ever closer it can be useful to take stock and prepare your business for challenges that may await.
Take note of Pagan Osborne’s top tips this year.
- Calling all Landlord’s and Tenant’s: Is it time for a rent review? Check the terms of your lease which may provide that rent should be reviewed on an ‘upward only’ basis and amend your financial planning strategy accordingly.
- Is your commercial lease in the name of your company or an individual? To reduce personal liability it can be helpful to take the lease in a company name (bearing in mind that you may need a personal guarantor if the company is newly incorporated)
- Are you looking to grow your business by purchasing commercial premises? Be aware of costs that may be involved as the new property law regime in Scotland means that any property purchase will induce first registration in the Land Register. Speak to a legal advisor about the technicalities.
- Consider your cash flow and don’t forget about credit control: Banks are continuing to focus on the review of credit facilities and you should be sure to keep on top of your debtors (both suppliers and customers).
- Review your business structure: does this mirror your long term objectives for the business? Entrepreneurs and start-ups will often operate as sole traders or partnerships. As your business grows there can be merit in incorporating a company which has its own legal entity – allowing flexibility as directors or shareholders can change over time; promoting permanence and credibility to suppliers and customers; and benefiting from lower tax rates and tax deductible-costs that can be offset against company profits.
- Keep your brand at the heart of your business: Low costs are always a priority for independent retailers. Think outside the box as you market your business and don’t underestimate the value of your current customers and clients as your biggest fans and chief promoters. Why not use Small Business Saturday as a hook by offering specials for existing customers; using social media #hashtags; or opening your doors to new customers with some celebratory offerings?
Amy Alexander is a solicitor within our Commercial and Business Services Team. If you are a small business owner looking for legal advice, thinking about diversifying or growing your business as the new year approaches, then contact Amy for a no obligation Business 360 today.