Essential apps for small businesses

No matter their industry, small businesses and start-ups have one thing in common: they need to operate as cheaply as possible. All start-ups must ensure that cashflow is the for the first 12 months. And that means being careful where you spend money, and how to get the most out of your technology.

By including as many cost-saving and efficient tools into your plan as possible, you can get a lot of value from a little investment. And while there are endless services and solution packages on the market, many of these are too expensive for small businesses. They can also be overkill in terms of what’s needed to manage a growing start-up.

Essential apps for small businesses

Instead, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) should focus on useful, efficient and cost-effective apps. Here are five excellent apps, all of which are either free or relatively cost-effective. They also offer premium and extra features that you can incorporate as the business continues to grow.

  1. Accounting app – Kashoo

Kashoo has been available to small businesses since 2008. It’s specifically designed for use by entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelancers. The app allows the user to create invoices, carry out audits and tax returns, and much more. After a free trial period of 14 days, there is a cost. At £12.75 it’s a reasonable outlay for a host of accounting features, and there’s a money-back guarantee if it doesn’t suit your needs.

The app was developed as the makers couldn’t find an accounting solution that offered the simplicity and features of an app. While there are loads of products on the market for accounting, they tend to be aimed at larger, more complex businesses. Kashoo appears fast, easy and simple to use, and has most of the features a small business owner would need.

Notable features include a function allowing you to create invoices across different currencies. Users can also use the payment gateway to accept credit card payments. There is excellent support 24 hours a day, and the app is updated constantly.

However, there are drawbacks. Specifically, the mobile Kashoo app is only available for iOS, which means Android users are out of luck. Other criticisms include the lack of functionality to bill clients at an hourly rate. 2

  1. Collaboration tool – Slack

Slack (Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge) is an easy to use, cloud-based collaboration tool. Crucially, it’s available for all mobile platforms and can be accessed via the webpage too if you prefer.

Originally an online tool for a game called Glitch, it relaunched in 2013 as a collaborative business tool. It allows businesses to divide work between various teams and clients and provides chat functions for all parties. Employees can hop in and out of chats and use the video feature to speak to colleagues face to face at any time. It works with more than 1,000 other apps, from Dropbox to Google Drive.

There is a free option, but it’s quite restrictive. The Standard options costs £5.25 per month, and the Plus option £9.75 per month. Slack does have a relatively steep learning curve but can be a great tool for the right business.

  1. Expense report tool – Expensify

Developer David Barratt came up with Expensify because he wanted to provide “expense reports that don’t suck!”. This app integrates services such as Uber, allowing the user to record expenses as they go. It also allows managers to review costs and work out ways to streamline their company expenses.

It’s competitively priced and relatively easy to use. However, you will have to spend time getting to grips with it in the first instance, as there are few direct instructions available online. Expect to pay £4 per month for each active user for the mid-tier package, and £7 for the ‘control’ tier package. There’s also a free trial option so you can work out whether it’s for your business.

  1. Office software – Office 365

SME owners can choose from many different software platforms for their business. However, Microsoft Office 365 takes some beating, and remains an excellent option for small businesses.

The web app version of Microsoft Office is ideal as everything runs from and is stored in the cloud. This means you can also log in using all kinds of mobile devices, and it’s not restricted to the office computers. It’s also easily usable on Macs as well as PCs. Office 365 offers the three big apps that everyone needs – PowerPoint, Word and Excel. OneDrive is a great automatic online backup, and other software applications are also available. These include Publisher, Access and Skype.

Different versions are available depending on your business needs. A personal edition of Office 365 comes in at £5.99 per month. If you need one for more users, the simple office package costs £7.99 per month and allows six separate users. There’s also Office 365 Business at £7.90 per month and Office 365 Business Premium at £9.40 per month.

  1. Complete business solution – QuickBooks

This has everything your small business needs in a single app. Made by Intuit, QuickBooks was originally a simple financial management software tool. However, the company quickly developed it to offer broad business solutions for SMEs. It can be downloaded or used as a cloud-based system, and used to pay bills, accept payments and administer payroll. Check the website for all the functions and price points. There is also a package available for freelancers, which includes being able to track expenses and mileage.

James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited says: “This is a small selection of the apps available to small businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and start-up owners. Taking the time to research apps and use the free trials available on a number of these digital apps is a good way to ensure you find the best for your business.

“Small businesses don’t need the same solutions as bigger businesses. There’s no point paying out for accountancy packages designed for much larger companies, for example. Technology means there are plenty available for every size of business, and any budget. Keeping costs down is essential for SME owners, and these apps can help do just that.”

 

About Turner Little
Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.

How Brexit could be good news for innovative start-ups

Brexit could be good news for innovation, if the Government helps make it a success. This is the view of Dave Philp, Head of R&D Tax at Chiene+Tate accountants. He says that withdrawing from the European Union will give ministers freedom and funding to incentivise new product research and development.

Currently, the UK is one of the best locations within the EU to launch a start-up business. We have sufficient tax incentives, grant funding initiatives and access to a wide talent pool. All of this supports UK companies in progressing tech innovation and advancement to push through barriers and become world-class businesses.

Does Brexit threaten innovative start-ups?

While media attention has focused on the threat that Brexit presents for innovative start-ups in the UK, it could also provide a welcome opportunity. Leaving the EU will impact some of the access to funding streams and grants, but it will mean the UK Government has a golden opportunity to switch up the way they support start-ups. They could introduce more generous measures to support start-ups through the tax system, for example.

Some grants, such as Horizon 2020, will not be available to UK start-ups should we leave the EU with no deal. UK Government guidance says that if there is a no-deal Brexit, businesses will forfeit future funding for projects that come under EU programmes. And, while the Government announced that it would honour the projects that were signed off before Brexit, there are no plans to do so after the UK’s proposed exit from the EU on 29 March 2019.

Turning negatives into positives

There’s no doubt that the one thing businesses of all sizes want is stability. And, the ongoing Brexit negotiations are shaking this. It’s likely that some tech start-ups are affected by this uncertainty. However, the most innovative minds excel under pressure, and many successful business owners turn weaknesses into strength.

For innovative, forward-thinking, cutting-edge start-ups and small businesses, Brexit is just another challenge along the road to success. The Government could attract companies focused on innovation and invention by providing R&D (research and development) tax relief. It’s a flagship incentive scheme that helps companies, including start-ups that typically make little revenue but have high expenditure levels early on.

R&D tax relief is one of the most generous corporation tax breaks provided by the Government. Designed to help businesses improve processes and invest to ensure success, it offers a tax credit of up to 33p on every pound of expenditure on activities focused on innovation. By using this effectively, start-ups can maintain a positive cash flow in the crucial early days.

Opening up opportunities for innovation

While this kind of tax relief has had a positive impact on lots of UK companies, it does have certain limitations. The tax relief complies with EU law and has been changed many times following objections from other EU member states who felt it gave the UK a competitive advantage.

When we leave the EU, the UK will no longer be bound by these restrictions on this kind of tax relief. This presents the Government with an excellent opportunity to expand its scope and add in other incentives for innovate start-ups to thrive after Brexit.

James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited says: “Brexit has caused a certain level of difficulty for some businesses, particularly those who want clarity on the final deal. However, it should be emphasised that Brexit will be a great opportunity for the UK Government to make different decisions for funding and supporting innovative UK start-ups.

“The chance to alter incentives such as the R&D Tax Relief is a golden opportunity for positive change that could completely transform the fate of start-ups in the UK. Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy, and will be even more vital to the success of the country after we leave the EU. The Government could fuel further innovation in business and as a country we will continue to build on our excellent reputation as the perfect base for innovation.”

About Turner Little
Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.

Six MarTech and AdTech UK start-ups worth watching

The race is on for UK start-ups to transform the future of brand advertising and digital marketing. Advertising tech (AdTech) and Marketing tech (MarTech) are two powerful industries packed with innovative businesses making their mark.

 

Research by Gartner shows that, on average, marketing leaders in the UK and in North America spent 29% of their budget on MarTech in 2018. This was a rise of 7% on the spend in 2017. It’s expected that this increasing interest in these sectors will continue, as businesses continue their digital transformations.

 

Six UK start-ups worth watching

We’ve listed some UK start-ups who are already busy in these sectors. The businesses here highlight the changing needs of companies in every sector, as they strive to improve productivity and make the most out of their marketing spend.

  1. PPC Protect

This is a start-up that hones-in on a specific area: stamping out click fraud in PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. Click fraud is when bots, click farms or competitors create fake impressions. This annihilates the advertiser’s Google Ads budget. In 2017, this kind of fraud cost advertisers an estimated $16 billion.

PPC Protect provides automated software that is designed to stop the click fraud and provide protection for future campaigns. When click fraud is detected, the software bans the IP address from accessing another ad. The company currently protects more than 35,000 Google Ads accounts.

  1. DataSine

This London based MarTech start-up uses machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to allow businesses to personalise their communications at a massive scale. Machine learning gains an understanding of the customer base and targets ad content. They work with BNP Paribas, Hello bank! Belgium and Tinkoff Bank, among others. The company secured £4 million in series A funding by February 2019.

  1. SuperAwesome

This digital ad platform is designed to improve safety for children. It ensures child controls are in place on online content, including marketing and digital material. This allows kids to play games without seeing adult content. It’s already used by hundreds of companies aimed at children, including Lego, Hasbro, Disney and Mattel. The next step for the company is launching a social platform just for kids, called Popjam. It promises to be the home of only safe social content.

In 2018, the business announced a 75% increase in revenue, to $60 million. The start-up began in the UK but is now global.

  1. Sceenic

This UK start-up works with media businesses to provide effective audience engagement solutions using interactive viewing experiences. Founded in 2016, Sceenic provides technology that allows companies to create sophisticated experiences for customers. Customers include eSports and BT Sport. So far, Sceenic has raised £210,000 in funding since launch.

  1. Qubit

London-based start-up Qubit is on the cusp of life beyond launch. It now has more than 260 employees and raised £40 million in Series C funding in February 2019. The funding is led by Goldman Sachs, and clients include the likes of TUI, Thomas Cook and Topshop.

Qubit focuses on web optimisation and personalised digital customer experiences across digital platforms. It’s a marketing hub platform and was designed by four ex-Google employees. Built on open-source software, it’s a sophisticated database with a simple, easy to use front end.

  1. Unruly

Another company crossing over from being a start-up to something more established, Unruly has more than 250 employees across 12 separate markets. It’s a video advertising platform promising content that will go viral. CEO Sarah Wood says: “Our mission is to deliver the most awesome social video campaigns on the planet, so this video advertising for brands. We don’t make the videos, but we make them famous.”

Unruly tools provided for advertisers include Activate, which is a programmatic video platform, an analytics suite for benchmarking and tracking, and ShareRank, a predictive tech algorithm that evaluates how shareable a video ad is before launch. Unruly has run campaigns for huge brands, including Guinness and Coca-Cola.

James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited says: “The explosion of interest in digital platforms for marketing and advertising is an exciting opportunity for UK start-ups. Now that it has become in the interests of just about every business to cut costs by streamlining their services using tech, we are seeing innovative and impressive start-ups acquiring vast amounts of funding and really making an impact.

“These sectors will continue to grow and are a strong example of the importance of UK start-ups and small businesses to the country’s economy. We have a wealth of talent and expertise, as well as hundreds of innovative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs who will take the UK forward into a positive space post-Brexit.”

About Turner Little
Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.