June / July 2019 issue of the independent North Devon-based business magazine covering news about business and enterprise in Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton, Chulmleigh, Combe Martin, Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, Lynmouth, Lynton, South Molton, Torrington, Woolacombe and more.
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IN THE HEADER HOT SEAT Jack Richards of Applegate 1. What was your first job? I worked for a sports coaching company turned sports artist agency as an admin assistant from the age of 16. Bizarrely, I organised an office renovation in my first six months. I am still confused as to why I was trusted to do this . . . but it turned out okay. 2. What is the best business advice you’ve ever received? ‘Don’t do too much on your own’. I am a ‘yes’ person, and whilst that is great, I have had to admit that I am not the best at everything. What I have learnt is a business is filled with experts and it is always best to recognise that and use that knowledge to broaden my own understanding. 3. What do you enjoy most about business? Positive conversations. In a world that can sometimes be just a bit gloomy, it is incredible how many positive conversations, cheery coffees and optimistic propositions I have shared. Going to work can be very refreshing. 4. What technology could your business never be without? Artificial Intelligence. We lived without it, but it now makes our lives much easier and rather more exciting. We have two programmes running which have been set up through our partnership with the University of Exeter. As a technology business, PCs are rather important too, but significantly less glamorous than AI. Each issue we put a North Devon business personality in the hot seat and ask them 10 questions. This issue we asked Jack Richards, marketing communications executive at Applegate 5. Describe your business management / style Our business is managed in such a way that is inclusive of employees at all levels. From apprentices to directors, all staff are made aware of decisions and the vision of the business – included in discussion and decision making along the way. 6. How do you go about personal development? My personal development seems to be never ending. From a Degree Apprenticeship and working towards CMgr status to project management and external event attendance, it is safe to say I have a lot going on in terms of my professional and personal development. I think that Applegate strikes the right balance between providing support and giving me autonomy to jump into the deep end and just learn to swim. Applegate Marketplace offers ‘Applegate’ – the eProcurement Marketplace which helps buyers source the products and services their organisation needs. While Applegate’s database provides information on millions of products and services from many thousands of companies – the 60,000 registered buyers can simply fill out a request for quotation and obtain multiple quotes, from different suppliers, in line with best purchasing practices. 7. Is there anything about yourself that you want to change? I think it’s quite important to learn to be happy with yourself. So, I’d quite like to be more like that. I always worry about underperforming or me not being the best I can be. 8. Social media: yes or no? Preferred network? Yes, yes, YES! Not just as a digital marketer, but as a person too. I love the fact that on social media, I can see where my friends are and all the cool things they are up to. I’m a Londoner, so social media connects me to everything and everyone I know. LinkedIn is great for expanding my professional network, generating leads and keeping up to date with contemporaries. But, no preferred network – I like them all. 9. How do you wind down when not working? Apart from drinking wine? Let me think. I do like to travel and visit new places, so winding down for me often involves heading off somewhere for some exploring. 10. Do you have a motto or favourite quotation? No – I am not one of those people, I’m afraid. I’ve heard the phrase ‘Be More Jack’ float around of late, which I rather like. ABOUT APPLEGATE MARKETPLACE In partnership with the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Exeter, the company now develops machine learning systems, continually enhancing the matching of suppliers to buyers’ requests – ensuring the best possible result for buyers. The company is a Strategic Partner of the US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration. ■■Details 0345 600 7177 or applegate.co.uk 18 business action | June / July2019 | business-action.co.uk
Barefoot accountants: (from left) Mel Willis, Barbara Harris and Nicola Blong Shaking off the corporate accountancy image Barbara Harris of Cranford Business Services is one of a growing new breed of accountants – women, who dress casually and can tell a joke. She realised early on that many clients are scared by the fancy suits and plush offices and, as she wasn’t interested in the ‘corporate’ image, started her own business taking on other clients. “Originally, it was just for me and my husband Ian as money was tight and we could save by doing our own tax returns,” says Barbara. She quickly realised that there were other selfemployed people and those who owned a single rental property, for whom paying the bills was the priority but profit easily eaten away. “It’s also a matter of knowing your strengths and playing to them, letting others play to theirs. By keeping overheads low, we can pass this saving along to those smaller clients. Working for the occasional client in evenings and weekends from a home office while working full-time soon led to one parttime member of staff, then a move out of the house. Being self-employed, it can be difficult to switch off and if you’re not careful you find yourself living to work rather than the other way round. “So many people in North Devon / North Cornwall’s rural environs enter selfemployment because there is no real alternative, often doing more than one type of work – now colloquially referred to as ‘slashies’. “This is an area that could cause some problems for them in future years. HMRC rolled out their latest acronym MTD (Making Tax Digital), which finally went live in April. This leads to quarterly reporting of income and expenditure. Presently only for those who are above the VAT threshold of £85,000 turnover, the ‘HMRC initiative that will revolutionise the UK tax system and ultimately bring an end to self-assessment’ has at least one flaw for those who need to keep costs low and that is the requirement for the majority of business owners to maintain digital records using compatible software. And this definitely has cost implications. There are systems available at lower costs to enable Excel to communicate to HMRC computers, but increasingly it costs to use Excel. And if you then have to send income and expenditure for each type of business you run, it’s not just the money but the additional time it takes in an already packed working week. “Is there an upside to this? Well, if you have to do this four times a year, then the actual tax return at the year end should be quicker. “From the point of view of the small accountant, there have already been changes and cost implications at Cranford. In the past few years, as we attracted new clients, we have tried to encourage them to let us have their paperwork every few months so it becomes a good habit. This quickly made us realise that storage space was going to be a headache. Although the volume of paperwork isn’t more, we still need to book it in and be able to work on it then get it back out to clients. Also, we needed more people to complete the work to meet the new deadlines.” To meet these demands Cranford has a new office and, shortly Barbara and her two existing colleagues will be joined by a third. Barbara also remains very conscious of the need to provide the service clients want at a cost they can still afford. “To keep costs down we have our office at the bottom of the garden rather than paying rent on offices in town and we meet up with clients at a time and place to suit them and stagger our opening hours to provide a value for money service. “We are now waiting to see how the new tax system will actually work in real time. RTi for payroll was introduced 14 years ago, requiring employers to send an electronic return to HMRC every time they pay their staff, yet we still encounter instances where HMRC maintains that its system received different information from that which was sent, leading to investigations that can take months and considerable work to resolve.” So with changing times ahead for tax, is there anything that will stay the same? “Oh yes, as the temperature rises on those warm sunny days with gentle winds, you will still find us sitting up on the decking with the parasol up, sunscreen on and our sandals off . . . still practising barefoot accountancy.” ■■Details 07896 204857 or accountsindevon.co.uk @businessactionm | June / July2019 | business action 19