Cashflow Loans: Key Features and Benefits

Whether due to slow-paying customers, inadequate cash reserves, too much debt, or another factor, cash flow problems are a common frustration for businesses of every size. 

Having healthy cash flow is vital to keep your operation running like clockwork, and we understand that finding the right finance for your business can be overwhelming. There are so many choices and considerations to keep in mind, it’s easy to become confused.

For many businesses, taking out a cash flow loan can provide much-needed financial breathing space during leaner months and/or enable them to invest in key areas of growth that will improve their operation. Read on for more information on cash flow loans. 

What is a cash flow loan?

A cash flow loan is a short-term commercial loan that can provide financial support through challenging periods in business. In simple terms, you borrow the money you need, and pay it back in fixed instalments over a short period of time. 

Every business needs a healthy cash flow, but because of cash flow issues, many small business owners aren’t able to pay vendors, loans, bills, or even employees. This can prevent businesses from realising their ambitions and can, in extreme circumstances, force them to close down. 

A cash flow loan is there to bridge the monetary gap left by late payments and other unforeseen circumstances.

How do cash flow loans work?

A cashflow loan is unsecured which means lenders are more interested in your past and future cashflow than your asset value. You will usually pay back the loan in full between 3 and 12 months, and as interest rates are fixed the regular repayment amount will not change.

Cash flow finance is an unsecured loan, which means lenders don’t fixate on your asset value, they’re more interested in your past and future cash flow. So, your business would borrow based on estimated future revenues.

For example, you have invoiced a customer, but they have missed their payment deadline. You are chasing the payment, but they are not responding or are telling you they will need more time to pay. While they may have nothing but good intentions, you need to pay your own invoices, bills, rent, and employees.

You could try not meeting your own financial obligations, or you could take out a cash flow loan to cover your costs until you are in a more comfortable financial position. 

It is important to note that a cash flow loan is not a long term solution for cash flow issues. If you are experiencing ongoing cash flow problems, you may need to look at alternative ways to help manage it. 

Examples of other types of cash flow finance include a revolving credit facility (a type of business credit line where you can access a pre-agreed maximum amount of funds whenever you need them) and invoice finance which helps your business get up to 95% of the value of an unpaid invoice from a lender when you need it – you then pay the lender back when your invoice is paid. 

What can cash flow loans be used for?

While other types of commercial loan have to be used to cover specific costs, e.g., tax bills or insurance payments, a cash flow loan offers more flexibility. 

A business cash flow loan can be used to pay for whatever you need it to in your day to day operation. This might include utility bills, wages, rent, stock, or other materials that will keep your business running in the leaner months. 

This type of loan is particularly useful for seasonal businesses to help them maintain a consistent cash flow throughout the year. 

Cash flow loans can also be used for:

  • business renovation or expansion
  • stock
  • business equipment
  • recruitment
  • marketing your business (e.g. building a website)
  • paying rent and bills. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of cash flow loans?

Just like any type of commercial finance, there are advantages and disadvantages of cash flow loans. You should always research every suitable financing option before signing on the dotted line.

Advantages of cash flow loans

  • The loan is unsecured making it a quicker form of finance to secure, and you won’t have to use your property or commercial assets as collateral.
  • It’s a short-term loan so you won’t be committing to an agreement that lasts for several years.
  • Boosts your cashflow during slower periods of trading.
  • While your business’ credit history will be assessed when applying for a cash flow loan, lenders tend to focus more on your business’ current financial health and future prospects rather than a bad credit history.
  • In some cases, if you repay your cash flow loan in a short amount of time, your credit score may improve.  

Disadvantages of cash flow loans

  • Because the loan is unsecured, it attracts higher interest rates. 
  • Some cash flow lenders may require automatic payments to be set up which could become an issue if you cannot afford to pay the same amount at the same time each month. 
  • Directors will need to provide a personal guarantee with most lenders as the loan is unsecured. By providing a personal guarantee, you’re agreeing to pay the loan from personal funds if your business cannot make the repayments for some reason.  

Interested in a cashflow loan for your business?

We can help businesses to by obtaining the best funding options and facilities, quickly and efficiently, whilst ensuring your short-term goals and long-term ambitions are considered in your financial strategy. 

If you are interested in a cash flow loan, get in touch with us today. We will assess your business’ individual circumstances and work with you to decide if a cash flow loan or another finance solution would be the right choice.

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.

What does a commercial finance broker do?

A commercial finance broker can be an invaluable professional to have on your team when looking to make smarter financial decisions for your business. Whether you are looking at overcoming short-term challenges or making plans to realise long-term ambitions, the right commercial finance solution can solidify your position and accelerate your growth significantly. 

But what exactly does a commercial finance broker do, and what are the key benefits and considerations when using their services?

What does a commercial finance broker do?

A commercial finance broker provide a go-between service for businesses that are trying to secure funding from commercial lenders. This is might mean securing a loan, finance leases, hire purchases, mortgages or cash flow products such as invoice finance on your behalf. 

The broker will be with you from start to finish as they work with you to decide on the best product for your needs (ensuring you will be able to afford the repayments and relevant interest fees), identifying the lender(s) most likely to accept your application, preparing and submitting the application and facilitating the transfer of the funds from the lender to you. They should also be on hand to ensure you are fully aware of your current and future obligations when entering into any finance agreement, as well as explaining any potential tax benefits you may be able to access. 

Why use a commercial finance broker?

There are several benefits to working with a commercial finance broker when making financial decisions for your business.

They are experienced in identifying the most suitable finance product 

What is right for one business may not be appropriate for another which is why a competent finance broker will take the time to get to know your business, your goals, and the unique challenges of your industry. They are used to asking the right questions to make the most suitable recommendations. 

They have an extensive knowledge of finance products

There are several finance products out there each with their own terms and conditions to be aware of before you commit. This can be confusing and overwhelming, but a finance broker will be able to help you understand your options to make the right choice for your business. 

They have access to a wider range of lenders 

Commercial finance brokers have relationships with multiple lenders and often lenders that you would not otherwise have access to. This can enable them to access lenders that are best suited to your needs or better interest rates than you would be able to find alone. At the very least, they will be better positioned to identify an appropriate shortlist of lenders to approach which saves a lot of time. 

Using a broker saves you time and hassle

There are literally hundreds of potential banks and lenders to consider not to mention all the different products. Finding, comparing and contacting them yourself will be time consuming and potentially not productive if you are approaching the wrong lenders. A commercial finance broker takes on this work saving you time and stress. 

They provide long-term vision and support

While some brokers might only be interested in standalone finance deals, the more reputable ones will want to establish a long-term relationship with your business. This includes being available once the finance has been secured to answer your questions and iron out any issues as well providing ongoing advice and support as your business grows and your financial circumstances change. 

They can manage complex projects and challenging credit

If your business has a poor credit history, a complex corporate structure, or you have only recently started trading, securing finance can be more difficult. A finance broker is perfectly positioned to help you navigate these issues increasing the likelihood you will be able to secure finance. 

They can help you realise your goals sooner

With a commercial finance broker helping you make the right choices, you will be able to secure the funding you need to achieve your goals sooner rather than later. Whether you want to purchase new machinery or equipment, to complete a fitout of your premises or simply bridge a cash flow gap, a commercial finance broker help you access the most appropriate solutions to boost your cash flow and support your success.

How do commercial finance brokers make their money?

This will differ depending on the broker you are working with but generally commercial finance brokers are either paid for their work via a commission paid by the lender, but in some cases there may charge you – the client – a fee for their service. In either case, they should be upfront and transparent about this from the beginning. 

Questions to ask a potential commercial finance broker

To help you find the most suitable broker, there are several questions that you need to ask. Put them to your potential – or even your current – finance broker to ensure that you’re getting the best support for your business’s needs and ambitions.

Do you understand my industry?

Each industry has its own challenges, regulations, seasonal sales patterns, etc., so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to commercial finance. Working with a broker who has knowledge of your industry can be a big help when securing finance. 

Do you have experience in arranging the finance product that I’m looking for?

Some brokers will specialise in asset finance, while others will primarily focus on loans or cash flow solutions. You may want to approach a broker with specific expertise in one finance product, but in some cases it might be beneficial to speak to a broker with a broader knowledge as they may be able to recommend more suitable solutions that you have not considered. 

Are you independent?

Some brokers are part of larger financial organisations which can mean that they are restricted or influenced in terms of the products they can offer you and the lenders they work with. An independent broker like Bluestone Leasing will objectively assess the finance market and concentrate on sourcing the best fit for you and your needs. 

How long have you been operating?

Of course, the length of time they have been operating is not a sure indicator of trustworthiness or quality of service, but in some cases being a more established brokerage might mean they have more experience and stronger relationships with lenders. 

How many lenders do you work with?

Commercial finance brokers work with a panel of lenders, and the bigger and more diverse this panel is the more likely you are to secure the most suitable solutions for your business’ needs.  Therefore, it’s essential that you consider how many lenders your chosen broker works with. A good broker will go one step further and have direct communication with the decision makers and will know how to structure an application with more likelihood of success. This ensures your company can be put in contact with the right person and often speeds up the application process.

What support do you provide after my funding has been secured?

Finance brokers should not disappear after your funding has been secured; they should be in touch regularly to ensure that you are happy and able to offer ongoing support as your business’ needs change. 

Are you FCA regulated?

Brokers who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are subject to codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures that ensure they operate to the highest standards. It could also be beneficial to check for associations and affiliations with the leading industrial bodies that are relevant to their field of expertise, for example UK Finance, the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) and the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA).

Can I see recent case studies from your other clients?

One of the best indicators of quality of service in a commercial finance broker will come from their previous clients. Ask them for case studies and testimonials from other businesses they have helped to secure funding and conduct your own research where possible. 

Why choose Bluestone Leasing?

Whether you are a sole trader, partnership or limited company, the team at Bluestone can help you to secure finance that will help your business to grow quickly and easily. 

We are an independent brokerage working with a large panel of funders and have experience of financing just about every asset in every sector. After more than 25 years of arranging commercial finance we know what lenders are looking for and we can help you prepare the best possible application to secure the right finance. For further information regarding the different types of commercial finance, the service we can offer you and how we can help your business now and in the future, complete the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 

Introducing Bluestone: Harry Pilling

The World of Work and Joining Bluestone

Harry joined the Bluestone Leasing team in September of 2021, after having worked in Communications and Banking. When interviewing for Bluestone, Harry was drawn to the company because of how laidback the interview process was and the ethos the company holds on believing that skills and knowledge are teachable, and how the company aims to find individuals that would be the right person to add to the team.

As an Internal Account Manager, Harry works alongside Ben Howe and focuses on Bluestone’s IT accounts. A typical day for Harry involves spending time keeping in touch with partners and customers, and helping to provide quotes for any sales or purchases that come in.

“I really enjoy my job, particularly the company and conversations I have with my colleagues, partners and customers.”

The early days

Harry grew up in Huddersfield and has fond memories of playing football in the street, and even more so the strict instructions to make his way home before the streetlights turned on.

At school, Harry would make the most out of his breaks by spending time with his mates, but in the classroom, Harry aspired to be an archaeologist like Indiana Jones. 

Life outside of work 

For Harry, the perfect weekend would consist of him going somewhere different, or doing something new, whilst keeping an eye on the football results and squeezing a drink or two in with his friends. 

Outside of work, Harry likes to spend time playing darts, which may come as a surprise to some considering how good he is. 

If you would like to speak to Harry about finance for your business, get in touch today: harry.pilling@bluestonelease.com

How to improve your business’ credit score

Much like your personal finances, your business’ financial history/circumstances is assigned a credit score. Of course, a credit score is not just a number – it can be a huge factor in the success or failure of your business. 

Here we explain the key points you need to understand about your business’ credit score and, importantly, how you can improve it. 

What is a business credit score?

Credit reference agencies (CRAs) collect and record information about your business’ past and present financial behaviour. Typically, this includes:

  • Payment performance information (have you paid invoices on time, have you repaid finance on time)
  • Your total amount of debt (also known as credit utilisation ratio)
  • When you held credit and for how long
  • The type of finance you have
  • Any applications for finance you’ve made recently
  • Companies House information (length of trading, whether you meet filing deadlines, trends in financial accounts)
  • Public information (e.g., county court judgements)

Taking their information from a wide range of sources, CRAs then calculate a score which represents your financial situation and whether your business is high or low risk financially. The score assigned will vary depending on each CRA’s scoring system, e.g., some range from 0 to 100 while others might range from 1 to 1000. 

Why is a credit score important?

This credit score helps lenders, suppliers and other creditors to quickly evaluate whether your business is financially stable, and whether you will pay your bills and honour your financial agreements. 

So, when you apply to a lender for a loan or finance arrangement such as asset finance or hire purchase, the lender will access your credit score to gain an understanding of your financial situation and historical behaviour. They may also look at your personal credit score. 

The better your credit score, the likelier it is that not only will your applications for loans or finance will be successful but also that you will be able to access more favourable interest rates. A low credit score will often mean finance is only available at a higher interest rate, or, in extreme cases, you may be prevented from borrowing funds completely. 

However, having issues on your credit report will not necessarily stop you from accessing finance, and there are steps that you can take to improve your credit score. 

How to improve your business credit score

It is important to realise that credit scores are complex statistical models for predicting credit risk and there is no guaranteed way to improve your business credit score. However, there are some steps you can take that may move your score in the right direction.

Check your credit report

If you have not already done so, it is time to access your credit report. There may be a cost involved, but the information in the report could be crucial to your success. When you know your score you will have a deeper understanding of your score and what needs to be done to improve it. 

Dispute and request deletion of any errors 

Sometimes there may be errors on a credit report which could be dragging your score down unfairly. If you see something on your report that you believe is incorrect, you can dispute it with the credit agency and possibly have it removed.

Pay your bills on time

One of the easiest ways to improve your business credit score is to pay your bills on time. Missing repayments or late payments will have a significant impact on your score.  

Decrease your credit utilisation ratio

A factor that can make you appear to be a high credit risk is having a high credit utilisation ratio, i.e., borrowing close to the maximum limits of the credit available to you. To decrease your credit utilisation ratio you could clear balances where possible, increase your credit limits with credit card providers, decrease your credit card spending, opening a new line of credit and/or paying your bills more than once a month. 

Establish credit accounts with suppliers

If there are some suppliers that you work with regularly, consider opening a credit account with them and stay up to date with all your payments to add a positive financial agreement to your report. If you have a good working relationship with a supplier, ask them to provide feedback and share payment record data with credit reference agencies.

NOTE: It might make sense to keep track of the business credit score of your partners, important suppliers and customers, as them falling into financial difficulty could affect your score too.

Keep your company information up to date

Limited companies should be filing full accounts and annual returns with Companies House on time. If any of your information (such as your registered office address) changes, notify Companies House, as well as your suppliers and customers, as soon as you can. 

Maintain a healthy cash flow

Ideally you will be able to maintain a healthy cash flow with regular turnover, as long periods of time without any activity on your account could be a warning sign. Your credit score should improve if you can show a growing balance sheet and regular turnover. 

Don’t make lots of credit applications in a short period of time

It is not wise to apply for credit unless it makes financial sense for your business, so avoid making unnecessary applications as they will show on your report. It is particularly important to avoid making a lot of applications in a short period of time as each will trigger a search on your report making it look like you are in financial trouble or borrowing irresponsibly. 

Avoid living in your overdraft

Using your business overdraft from time to time should not be an issue, but being over-reliant on it can be a red flag for lenders. Keep a close eye on when payments will be taken from your account and try to ensure that there is enough cash in your account to cover payments that are due. 

Make sure your registered office is correct

County court judgements (CCJs) on your report will have a big impact on your score. A common reason for getting CCJs is that letters requesting payments or making business owners aware of issues are sent to the registered office but they are not received as the address is incorrect.

Don’t ignore your personal credit score

Where possible it is important to ensure that your personal finances are healthy, especially if you’re a start-up with little financial information available as lenders may use data from your personal accounts to calculate your business credit score.

Interested in finance for your business?

We can help businesses to by obtaining the best funding options and facilities, quickly and efficiently, whilst ensuring your short-term goals and long-term ambitions are considered in your financial strategy. 

If you are interested in a loan or asset finance for your business, get in touch with us today. We will assess your business’ individual circumstances and work with you to decide which, if any, finance solution would be the right choice.

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.

Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance Loans: Key Features and Benefits

Professional indemnity (PI) insurance is key for those who offer a professional service, give advice or handle another firms’ data or intellectual property. The insurance covers you if your client suffers a financial loss due to work you have carried out for them. 

Paying PI insurance is essential and one of the largest costs that organisations have to meet, but many do not realise that they can spread the cost over time with PI insurance loan. Read on for more information.

What is professional indemnity insurance?

If you make a mistake in a piece of work for a client that causes them financial or reputational loss, you may find yourself facing legal action and/or a claim for compensation. Professional indemnity insurance protects you and your business for the costs of compensating a client. Having PI insurance is not a legal requirement for all businesses, but it is a widely used form of protection for businesses in many sectors. 

Who needs professional indemnity insurance?

Paying for professional indemnity insurance is popular choice for small businesses or self-employed people that provide professional services to other businesses or individuals. This might include tradespeople or contractors who are working in the premises of other businesses or in private homes, IT companies that manage another business’ website or computer network, businesses that provide advice to their clients, or even businesses that handle confidential information or copyrighted material for their clients. 

If there is a risk that your professional service could cause damage to your clients should you make a mistake, or even if your business is subject to a cyberattack that compromises client data, PI insurance should be a top priority. 

What does professional indemnity insurance cover?

Professional indemnity insurance typically covers:

  • Professional negligence, i.e., if you give incorrect advice or make a mistake.
  • Defamation, i.e., if you produce or support libellous statements about your client.
  • Breach of confidence, i.e., if you share sensitive information without permission
  • Breach of copyright, i.e., if you infringe on copyrights, trademarks or intellectual property
  • Lost or damaged documents, i.e., if you lose or damage documents while they’re in your care
  • Employee cover, i.e., if an employee causes a loss for your client.

Funding PI insurance with a loan

Paying PI insurance is essential and one of the largest costs that organisations have to meet. While PI insurance is an important form of protection for businesses, paying for PI insurance can be a significant cost to a business. This can impact a business’ cashflow, delaying their growth and affecting their operational capacity. There is an alternative, however, in the form of a PI insurance loan. 

A PI insurance loan allows you to spread the cost of cover over a 12 month period. The interest on the loan and the repayments are fixed, making it easier to manage your budget and keep capital in the business. This leaves you with more money to invest elsewhere in the business or to keep in the bank to cover unexpected costs, bills, or downturns in revenue. 

Interested in a PI insurance loan for your business?

We can help businesses to by obtaining the best funding options and facilities, quickly and efficiently, whilst ensuring your short-term goals and long-term ambitions are considered in your financial strategy. 

If you are interested in spreading the cost of your PI insurance over time to retain capital and enable you to manage your budget more effectively, get in touch with us today.

We will assess your business’ individual circumstances and work with you to decide if a PI insurance loan or another finance solution would be the right choice.

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.

Case Study: Dean St. Studios

Dean St. Studios used £170,000 of finance to help fund one of the most advanced Dolby Atmos mixing studios in the world. The studio helps creators to deploy a three-dimensional sonic experience that delivers a new level of listener experience. 

The service simplifies the complicated, preparing and compiling each mix to the highest quality standards and guidelines, ensuring all finished mixes are provided in a format ready for all streaming platforms. 

Being able to deliver audio in this new format helped Dean Street secure work with some of the worlds most respected film and music companies who demand only the highest quality results.

About Dean St. Studios

Dean Street Studios was originally used in the 1950’s as a film studio, but its musical history began when the studio became Zodiac Studios and later Good Earth Studios, when legendary producer Tony Visconti bought it and changed the name. Tony Visconti recorded music for the likes of David Bowie, T-Rex, Thin Lizzy, U2 and many others. In addition, artists such as Tina Turner, Wham!, The Smiths and Duran Duran, would hire out the studios independently to record. 

In 1989, Visconti sold the premises to a production company who developed some of the building into music recording and production suites. During this time, the likes of Robert Plant, Pink Floyd, Tim Finn, Brian Molko, Bruce Hornsby, and Cliff Richard all worked at the studio, with the great Dusty Springfield recording her last ever track in Studio 1 in 1995. 

In 2007, now as Dean St. Studios, the studio is still making history with artists such as Adele, Noel Gallagher, John Legend, Florence + the Machine, Plan B, Tom Odell, Take That and Jonas Blue. 

Bluestone have been a delight to deal with. The whole process was straightforward and dealt with by the excellent personable team of Myles and Alex.” Jazz Lee, Managing Director, Dolby St. Studios 

The Solution 

Bluestone received an introduction to Dean Street via Veale Associates, a Bluestone partner and one of the most respected studio design companies in the world. Owner and lead designer Edde Veale even received a mention on a Beatles track via John Lennon.

Dean Street’s project incorporated 5 different suppliers and was syndicated between 3 funders so the full project value could be financed. The client was offered both Hire Purchase and Finance Lease options and after reviewing both, the client opted for Hire Purchase agreements as they best met their requirements. 

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Jazz and the Dean Street team. They are a wonderful bunch & it’s very rewarding to have helped finance one of the world’s leading Dolby Atmos studios.” Alex Judd, Bluestone Leasing

Interested in finance for your business?

We can help businesses to by obtaining the best funding options and facilities, quickly and efficiently, whilst ensuring your short-term goals and long-term ambitions are considered in your financial strategy. 

If you are interested in a loan or asset finance for your business, get in touch with us today. We will assess your business’ individual circumstances and work with you to decide which, if any, finance solution would be the right choice. 

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.

Introducing Bluestone: Gemma Grainger

Gemma is our regional account manager for East Midlands North. Since joining Bluestone Leasing in 2022, Gemma has established herself as an approachable, personable and hard-working member of the sales team. If she is not out of the office meeting with a potential new client or partner to help them understand the benefits of finance, you will find Gemma on the phone providing advice and support to one of her existing partners or customers.

“I immerse myself into my partners and customers businesses, understanding their needs and bug-bears, and recommending the best solutions to help them achieve their long-term aspirations. I recently had my first client meeting which I really enjoyed – I’m looking forward to speaking to and supporting more of my clients.”

The early days

Gemma grew up in Tamworth with many fond memories, particularly of dancing ballet, which she has done since she was three. Her favourite subject as school was English (particularly Shakespeare), made all the more enjoyable by her amazing English teacher. 

I really wanted to be a dancer (ballet, contemporary, modern and Jazz). I grew up dancing but ballet was always what I was best at. I have won some awards and danced in the winter gardens in Blackpool as well as in London.

The world of work   

Gemma began her career working in recruitment for clients wanting to lease pubs. Since then, she has spent the last few years in the role of internal sales manager at Grenke Leasing, where she was focused on new partner acquisition and delivering excellent customer service to clients, including helping them to generate more business through finance.

Right from my first interview with the CEO, I got a sense that the people at Bluestone were friendly and approachable. I knew from then that it would be a good company to work for. Everyone is extremely supportive, open, and approachable. From the MD to the admin team everyone is treated equally and it’s just a fab place to work.”

Gemma really likes that no day is the same, working with people and the diversity of her role. 

Gemma wants to be remembered for…

‘Making people smile and always dancing around to cheesy songs.’

What does the future hold for Gemma? 

After already completing a solo parachute jump, Gemma has ambitions to undertake a freefall skydive, as well as continuing to spend her time with her family and dog who all keep her on her toes. 

Gemma is a huge lover of food, so cooking and going out for a nice meal is something she enjoys doing (when she’s not doing to watch the kids play football, rugby or boxing…)

When it comes to her work with Bluestone, Gemma is exited to build new relationships while continuing to support them in achieving their long-term aspirations. 

If you would like Gemma to help your business to move forward with a bespoke finance solution, get in touch today with her today. 

gemma.grainger@bluestoneleasing.com

How Your Businesses Can Tackle Rising Energy Costs and Make the Most of Your Office Space

What Do Further Energy Cost Rises Mean for SMEs?

With energy bills continuing to rise, SMEs are still faced with the challenge of maximizing profits and streamlining their costs amid tough economic times. Both gas and energy prices have shot past record highs which have been felt across homes across the country, but just how much do these price changes affect small businesses around the country?

Businesses are essentially affected in the same way as households are, meaning as the price cap increases, the higher the energy bill will be.

However, unlike domestic customers, businesses have a lot less protection when it comes to energy because regardless of the business’s size, the energy price cap does not apply to businesses.

How to Strategically Tackle Rising Office Energy Bills

Running a business can be expensive and expenses can quickly add up, so cutting down on your overall energy usage is a great way to combat the rising energy costs. Here are a few ways you can reduce your business’s energy usage:

  • Switch off appliances that aren’t in use

Whilst in standby mode, appliances can still use up to 50% of the electricity they would when in operation. So, ensure they are kept off when not in use.

  • 2. Use energy-efficient light bulbs

Replace old incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones. LEDs can help save you as much as 80% on electricity.

  • Switch everything off at night

Make sure you switch off appliances like vending and coffee machines, these will waste energy if left on overnight.

  • Upgrade appliances

Look into upgrading older appliances for new, more energy-efficient models as this will have a significant impact on the amount it will cost you a year.

  • Share the brew

Instead of individual tea runs, make the most of your kettle’s capacity and offer to make a brew for your colleagues. The cost of making a cuppa may seem insignificant, but you could save a pretty penny each year when you use your office kettle effectively.

Why Offices Spaces Are Still Important for Businesses

As remote work roles increase and more and more employers adopt a hybrid working system, some may question if investing in a dedicated office space is necessary for businesses of today.

If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic showed how important it is for businesses to be agile and able to work in challenging and changing times. During the COVID outbreak, businesses were forced to close the doors to their offices and switch to running their operations and workflow remotely. This change has ultimately imprinted a shift in the way people work and the ways businesses utilise their office space.

It’s clear that remote working has come with both its positives and its drawbacks, so let’s explore some of the reasons why having a dedicated office space is beneficial.

  1. Offices help promote the company culture and connect people
  2. Offices separate work and home life
  3. Working from the office makes quality assurance and productivity management easier
  4. Offices encourage collaboration
  5. Offices help promote professional development

Offices provide a central hub for people to work and collaborate on tasks and projects in an environment that allows them to separate from the challenges of home life by being connected with their co-workers and submerging into their company culture.

Is It Time for You to Invest in Your Office Space?

Finance for renewable energy tech

Making simple changes to how you manage your energy consumption in the office will make a difference to your energy bill, but how much of an impact will investing in how you use energy make?

Investing in solar panels for your business would have a significant impact on the business’ overall environmental footprint, and would play a part in saving you money each year. 

Here are a few things you should know about commercial solar panels for businesses:

  1. Over the 25-year lifetime of solar panels, you’ll have saved thousands of pounds on energy.
  2. Energy from commercial solar PV will cost a fraction of what you were paying from a utility company.
  3. Solar panel maintenance cost in the UK is relatively low, so you’ll be able to enjoy reduced overall expenses for your electricity consumption.
  4. Reduce your dependence on imported energy and finite resources.

Similarly, investing in switching to LED lighting will prove to be an investment that is well worth it in the long run. Commercial LED lighting has a lot to offer your office space, here are some of the benefits you can expect:

  1. Reduction in energy use – LED lights can reduce your energy consumption anywhere from 50-90%, which can equate to huge savings on your utility bill.
  2. Longer-lasting – LED lights have a long lifespan and can provide up to 50,000 hours of use.
  3. Increased light quality – LED bulbs come in a variety of styles and colours that give you more control and flexibility over your interior lighting design.

Solar panels and LED fittings can both come with upfront, installation, and maintenance costs, which can add up to a high initial investment. However, by financing these assets, you’ll be able to secure and finance your solar panels and LED lights, and spread the costs of investment which will allow you to reap the cost-saving benefits faster than you would by buying them outright.

Finance for office fit-out projects 

Whether you’re looking to update the layout of your office to adopt a hotdesking style of work, or you’re looking to refurbish, and kit-out cubicles for your office, now is the time to invest.

Financing your office workspace project would allow you to retain capital that can be utilised somewhere else in the business. This is great for those looking to invest in redoing their workspaces because fit-out projects can be expensive, so, financing your office renovation would provide you with a way of paying the cost of your project with regular fixed payments each month.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can support you with financing your office interiors or renewables projects, get in touch with us at info@bluestoneleasing.com, or give us a call on 01924 248 800, we’d be more than happy to help with any of your financing needs.

Invoice Finance: Key Features and Benefits

Invoice finance can ease cash flow problems by enabling you to get paid faster for completed work, meaning you can carry on growing without being held back by your finances. Rather than waiting days or weeks for your invoices to be paid by customers, an invoice finance facility means that lenders will advance you most of the value of the invoice immediately. 

Read on for more information on invoice financing. 

How does invoice financing work?

Invoice finance is a collective term for the various types of invoice based lending such as invoice discounting, selective invoice discounting, invoice factoring and spot factoring. As invoice financing is an unsecured business loan in place of your invoices, you won’t have to offer up physical assets from your company.

The concept for invoice finance is simple. When you raise a customer invoice, you do not need to wait for days, weeks or months for them to pay it. Instead, you also send the invoice to a lender. The lender will advance you up to 95% of the value of the invoice straight away. 

This means that you will get paid faster, boosting your cash flow and enabling you to focus on running your business.

When the customer has paid their invoice, you repay the lender. There will be interest and/or a processing fee to pay the lender for their service. 

Types of invoice finance 

There are two types of invoice financing: invoice factoring and invoice discounting. 

Both facilities can give businesses more control over their finances, but the key difference to keep in mind is whether you want to be able to control the invoicing process for your business or have the lender take care of it for you. 

Invoice factoring

With an invoice factoring facility, the lender provides a ‘credit control’ functionality on your behalf, chasing late payments and performing credit checks on potential customers so you can concentrate on running your business. In this scenario, your customers will know you’re using a factoring provider. This option is often better suited to younger businesses or those with a smaller turnover. 

Invoice discounting

With an invoice discounting, you maintain credit control which means you can manage your client relationships. This is a more time-consuming approach as you will need to chase payments yourself. Invoice discounting is generally available to more established businesses with higher turnover.

Selective or spot invoice finance 

If you choose either an invoice discounting or invoice factoring facility, you will be asking a lender to deal with all your customer invoices. This all or nothing solution may not be right for every business, but there is an alternative in the form of spot or selective invoice finance. 

The selective product enables you to choose which invoices you want to finance and which you would like to manage as normal. This ad-hoc strategy might be more suitable if you only want to finance certain types of customers or those that regularly take a long time to pay.  

Why use an invoice finance facility?

As with any commercial finance product, there are both pros and cons to consider. Some of the advantages of choosing either an invoice factoring or invoice discounting facility are:

  • Quicker access to cash as it will be available from the lender as soon as the invoice is raised. This cash can be used to grow your business, invest in stock, or cover operational costs. 
  • Invoice finance provides a quicker turnaround than other forms of finance such as loans. 
  • Invoice finance is an unsecured finance product so your assets will not be at risk. 
  • Invoice discounting can help convert credit sales into cash enabling quicker growth and development in a shorter amount of time.

Invoice finance: Things to consider 

  • Only suitable for B2B: Invoice financing is only available on commercial invoices meaning your customers have to be other businesses, not the general public.
  • Managing client relationships: If you choose to apply for invoice factoring, then chasing payments will be out of control to an extent. This means your client relationships could potentially be a risk of damaging these relationships.
  • Long-term costs: Whilst invoice financing can be a great short-term solution for cash flow, there may be processing fees and interest to pay which can add up over time. 

Example of invoice factoring in action

Gemma, owner of Smart Interiors Ltd, is about to start a big new office fitout project. Gemma knows she’ll need to pay for extra materials and take on another member of staff to do this new job, but she’ll only get paid when it’s finished.

Gemma is owed £10,000 by a previous client for a completed project, but the invoice has payment terms of 30 days. Gemma agrees to an invoice finance deal that will give her 85% of the invoice up-front, with total fees and charges at 3%.

  • Invoice value = £10,000 
  • Advance amount (85%) = £8,500 
  • Fees (3%) = £300 

When Gemma sends the invoice to the lender, she receives an advance of £8,500 within a couple of days. Then, when the customer pays the invoice, the full £10,000 goes into a bank account controlled by the lender.

Gemma gets the remaining value of the invoice (£1,500) minus the lender’s 3% fee (£300), so she receives £1,200.

Interested in an invoice finance facility for your business?

We can help businesses to by obtaining the best funding options and facilities, quickly and efficiently, whilst ensuring your short-term goals and long-term ambitions are considered in your financial strategy. 

If you are interested in an invoice finance facility, get in touch with us today. We will assess your business’ individual circumstances and work with you to decide if invoice finance or another finance solution would be the right choice.

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.

What is a VAT Loan? Key Features and Benefits

Paying VAT bills every quarter is a legal obligation, but it can be a financial obstacle for many businesses, especially in the current financial climate. Cashflow issues are a common side effect of each quarterly payment. However, what many do not realise, is that it doesn’t have to be like that. 

Many business owners are taking the sting out of paying VAT bills by taking out a VAT loan to ensure HMRC are paid in full and on time and then repaying the loan in instalments over time. This can help businesses to retain valuable cash, avoid late payment penalties, and establish a healthier cashflow. 

Read on to discover more about VAT loans.  

What is VAT?

VAT stands for Value Added Tax. 

It is added to the price of a product or service at every stage of production, distribution, or sale to the end consumer. If the end consumer is a business that collects and pays VAT to the government on its products or services, it can reclaim the tax paid. If the end consumer is not a business or is not registered for VAT, they cannot reclaim the tax paid.

Many products and services in the UK are liable for VAT – that is, they are not VAT exempt. Goods and services that are not exempt typically accrue VAT at the following rates:

  • Standard rate: 20% (most goods and services).
  • Reduced rate: 5% (some goods and services, such as home energy and children’s car seats).
  • Exempt rate: 0% (includes basic and essential items such as most food and children’s clothes).

VAT registered businesses collect VAT on behalf of HMRC and must pay the collected tax (minus any reclaimed tax), to the government on a regular basis – usually quarterly. Most VAT must be paid one month and seven days after the reporting period, but some types of business will have different payment requirements. 

Businesses must register to pay VAT if: 

  • They expect their VAT taxable turnover to be more than £85,000 in the next 30-day period.
  • They had a VAT taxable turnover of more than £85,000 over the last 12 months.
  • The taxable turnover is on sales of goods and services that would be liable to VAT.

Every VAT registered business receives a unique VAT number which must be shown on invoices and most receipts.

It is important to paying VAT bills on time to significant penalties and surcharges. If a business is struggling to pay their VAT bill, they might consider avoiding late payment penalties and keeping cash in the bank by taking out a VAT loan.

What is a VAT loan?

A VAT loan is a type of commercial loan used to pay the quarterly VAT payment to HMRC. 

If a business is struggling with cashflow when their VAT is due to be paid or they would rather invest their cash into the business (e.g., to buy new assets), they might apply for a VAT loan. The lender pays HMRC the amount owed in full, and the business pays the lender back in instalments over time. Repayments are subject to fixed interest rates (which will vary depending on the business’ circumstances )and typically made on a monthly basis over 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. 

The amount a business can borrow will depend on the unique circumstances of the business and eligibility. In addition to credit checks and a review of the business’s financial situation, other eligibility criteria will usually apply, often including:

  • the business is VAT registered
  • turnover is more than £85,000 ex-VAT
  • UK business
  • usually a limited company, although partnerships and some sole traders may also qualify
  • trading for more than one year.

Why would a business use a loan to pay VAT?

  • A VAT loan ensures that HMRC receive their payment in full and on time, helping your business to avoid late payment penalties. 
  • A VAT loan can prevent you from parting with a large chunk of cash that could be put to better use in your business, i.e., to be invested in growth. 
  • VAT loan repayments can be made on a monthly basis rather than making quarterly VAT payments which can help to maintain a healthy cashflow. 
  • VAT loans do not use existing banking or credit facilities and may be arranged as ‘rolling’ or drawdown borrowing (subject to eligibility). This allows the borrower to use loan funds on a fluctuating basis.

Disadvantages of VAT loans

  • Interest will be applied to a VAT loan, so while the payments will be spread over a longer period of time businesses will pay more overall. 
  • VAT loans cannot be used to pay other tax liabilities such as corporation tax, although it is possible to obtain a loan to cover corporation tax bills. 

Interested in a VAT loan for your business?

We can help businesses like yours to obtain the best funding options and facilities, quickly and efficiently, whilst ensuring their short-term goals and long-term ambitions are considered in their financial strategy. 

If you are interested in spreading the cost of your VAT bill over time to retain capital and enable you to manage your budget more effectively, get in touch with us today.

We will assess your business’ individual circumstances and work with you to decide if a VAT loan or another finance solution would be the right choice.

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.