Case Study: A VAT Loan for Grafik

Grafik develop sustainable, functional and commercially viable projects, working with a range of clients in the residential, commercial, leisure, mixed use and public sectors. Formed in 2001, they work strategically across the UK from their offices in Essex.

Their range of architectural services include; conceptual design, feasibility studies, master planning & urban design, full planning services, working drawing package and value engineering as well as having broad knowledge and experience of softwares including AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup, Photoshop and InDesign.

Grafik’s need for finance

Grafik were looking for a way to pay their VAT over a period of time so they could retain capital within the business to invest in their continued growth. A VAT loan would ensure that HMRC were paid in full and on time whilst preventing them from parting with a large chunk of cash upfront.

“It was great working with Bluestone to fund our VAT bill – they have been helpful and supportive to our requirements. The process has been easy and it’s one less thing for the business to have to worry about.”

Miranda Jules, Admin Director, Grafik

The Solution

After being introduced to finance specialists at Bluestone Leasing, Grafik made the decision to utilise finance in the form of VAT loan over a three month period. The loan will allow them to spread the cost of their repayments over time and retain cashflow in the business for use in other areas.

Kate Walker, Regional Account Manager at Bluestone, said, “It was an absolute pleasure working with Miranda and the team at Grafik. We were delighted to support them with a VAT loan to spread the cost of their repayments and continue with their growth plans.”

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.

Case Study: A New Headquarters for West Barn Co.

Kim, a make-up artist to celebrity clients with over 10 years of experience, founded West Barn Co. with her mother, Donna, in 2017.  At the time, there was a trend for either tattooed eyebrows or pencil drawn eyebrows and Kim wanted a different look and feel to what was the norm. As such, ‘Soap Brows’ was born.

Using cosmetically formulated soap which is safe to leave on the face, Soap Brows creates fluffy, prominent eyebrows. The product took social media by storm and demand sky rocketed. Today, the company focuses on creating high quality brow and skin prep products including cleansers, serums, prep mists and toners along with makeup tool kits.

West Barn Co.’s Continued Growth

The company signed a building lease for WBCo. headquarters in December 2018, but the business has continued to grow at an incredible pace. West Barn Co. now employ over 25 staff members in their Durham HQ and ships to more than 60 countries. This growth led to a need for a bigger and better headquarters in 2021.

Louise and the team at Bluestone Leasing were really great. They were thorough, efficient and super lovely to work with. The options they presented us with meant we were able to further invest into New Product Development much sooner. When speed to market is imperative, this was a great step in our business. Thanks again Louise.”

Kimberley Cattin, CEO, West Barn Co.

The Solution

After being introduced to commercial finance specialists for the interiors sector, Bluestone Leasing, by their team of fitout specialists, West Barn Co. decided to finance their fitout over 5 years to run in tandem with their 10-year building lease which has a 5-year break clause.

Louise Harris, Key Account Manager at Bluestone said, “It was an absolute pleasure working with Kim and the team at West Barn Co. We were delighted to support them with their large-scale fit-out project, allowing them to continue with their exciting growth plans and we look forward to supporting WBC in years to come.”

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.

Self-Assessment Loans for your Business: January Deadline Approaching

With the 31st January 2023 self-assessment deadline approaching, we have revisited our blog on the key benefits and features of a self-assessment loan and how this can support your business.

In January and July each year, the Self Assessment fee can be a significant outgoing for sole traders and partnerships. This often has a negative impact on cashflow for many businesses, inhibiting their operation and delaying their growth.

What many do not realise, however, is that this doesn’t have to be the case.

With a Self Assessment loan, you could spread the cost of your tax bill over time enabling you to retain capital in your business while making manageable monthly repayments in line with your budget. Read on to discover more about Self Assessment loans.  

What is Self Assessment?

Self Assessment is the process by which you advise HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) of your income, gains and relevant expenses for a tax year. You currently do this by completing a tax return, sending it to HMRC and calculating your own tax liability (the online return will do the calculation for you automatically).

You must send a tax return if, in the last tax year (6 April to 5 April), you were:

  • self-employed as a ‘sole trader’ and earned more than £1,000 (before taking off anything you can claim tax relief on).
  • a partner in a business partnership.

The government’s online system will calculate how much tax you owe based on your earnings, and this amount needs to be paid by a specific deadline to avoid additional penalties.

What are the payment dates for tax returns?

A UK tax year runs from 6th April to the following 5th April. For example, if we are talking about the tax year 2022/2023, it started on 6th April 2022 and will finish on 5th April 2023. Generally, the payments need to be made in January and July each year.

  • 31st January (during the tax year): The first payment on account for the tax year ending the following 5 April is due, e.g., the first payment on account for the 2022/23 tax year is due by 31st January 2023.
  • 31st July: The second payment on account for the tax year ending the previous 5 April is due, e.g., the second payment on account for the 2022/23 tax year is due by 31 July 2023.

NOTE: Depending on your circumstances, there may be other relevant dates and deadlines during the year to be aware of. Visit the government website for more information.

What is a Self Assessment loan?

A Self Assessment loan provides the cash you need to pay your fee by the relevant deadline. You then make repayments on the loan over 6, 10, or 12 months so you can align the repayments with income and manage finances more effectively. The capital retained can be used to operate and/or invest in the business. 

Income and other outgoings are normally budgeted monthly so spreading the cost of self-assessment can help cashflow, align the outgoing with income and enable you to manage finances more effectively. The capital that you retain can be used to grow the business.

For LLP members or Partners who are taxed individually on their share of the firm’s profits, a self-assessment loan can be taken out by the firm to spread the cost, aligning it with other business outgoings and income.

How do Self Assessment loans work?

  1. Your partners complete their self-assessment and you collate the combined amount due to HMRC.
  2. You can then submit that amount to us and we will source the most competitive finance option for you to allow you to spread the cost.
  3. We’ll secure an agreement to finance from one of our specialist funders who will pay HMRC direct. 
  4. The payments will then be made by the firm to the funder over time to settle the balance. 
  5. The capital retained within the business can then be utilised for other means to help grow the business.
  6. The funder will need an HMRC statement confirming all outstanding tax liabilities at least 7 days prior to the due date to ensure payments are made to HMRC on time.

In some cases, even if you have already made the payment to HMRC, we may be able to secure finance for you retrospectively if you contact us within 14 days of making the payment.

A financial illustration

Based on a £50k Self Assessment Loan (this is for illustrative purposes only, as individual circumstances differ).

  • 12 monthly repayments of £4,492.20pcm = Total repayable: £53,906.40
  • 6 monthly repayments of £8,760.43pcm = Total repayable: £52,562.58

Interested in a Self Assessment loan for your business?

If you are interested in spreading the cost of your next self-assessment tax 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 Self Assessment loan or another finance solution would be the right choice.

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.

Interest Rate Rises & Inflation: The Impact and Benefits of Finance in the Current Market

We know the level of economic uncertainty the UK is facing right now can be daunting for many UK businesses. 

The last couple of years have seen many changes to the commercial finance market. With multiple announcements about interest rate rises, energy bills soaring and the cost-of-living crisis upon us, it’s a big ask for UK businesses to stay up to date with what’s in the news, but also the opportunities there are to ensure they are making the best financial strategy decisions to maximise the benefits available.

At Bluestone, we are working closely with our clients to ensure they are utilising the most effective options for their businesses, maximising tax savings, capitalising on deferred repayment options and accessing the most appropriate finance solutions for their needs.

The impact of interest rate rises and inflation in the current climate

In today’s current climate, understanding the state of the economy can help you better recognise how you should be utilising and managing your business’s finances. 

In recent months we have seen a rapid increase in the cost of living, higher energy bills, soaring interest rates, and the value of the pound dropping, putting financial strain on many people and UK businesses. 

The mini-budget

On the 23rd of September 2022, government introduced the mini budget to the public to combat the nation’s economic problems. Some of the key points announced in the mini budget were: 

  • A cut in the basic rate of income tax to 19%. 
  • A reversal of the 1.25% national insurance rise.
  • A freeze on energy bills that will cost roughly £60bn over 6 months.
  • Annual tax-free corporate investments allowance to remain at £1m indefinitely.

The budget came with its fair share of mixed responses and reactions, these being: 

  • The pound sterling fell sharply after the government’s planned spending increases and tax cuts were released, losing 3% against the US dollar. 
  • Banks and building societies withdrew several mortgage products in response to concerns about an increase in interest rates.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a statement criticising the plan because they believe “the nature of the UK measures will increase inequality”.

As a result of the negative response, the then Prime Minister, Liz Truss U-turned on a number of the decisions and subsequently replaced Kwasi Kwarteng with Jeremy Hunt who made further changes. We await to see what further changes are coming now Rishi Sunak is in office.  

Interest rate rises and inflation explained

In simple terms, higher interest rates make it more expensive for people to borrow money and encourage people to save more and spend less. With people spending less on goods and services overall, the prices of those things tend to rise more slowly – slower price rises mean a lower rate of inflation. 

The Bank of England (BoE) try to ensure that inflation remains low and stable to create a healthy economy and the Government sets a target for how much prices (overall) should go up by each year; the target is currently 2%. 

With inflation currently nearer 10%, interest rates need to increase to meet this target. The bank rate (more widely known as the ‘base rate’ or ‘interest rate’) influences all the UK’s other rates, including those you may have for a loan, mortgage, or savings account. 

We have all seen that the bank rate has increased from 0.1% last December, to 3% on the 4th November 2022, affecting everyone who has a loan or mortgage that charges a variable interest rate and putting a strain on their finances. 

If prices are and remain to be unpredictable, it can be difficult for people and businesses to plan how much they can spend, save, or invest. 

You can see how the rate of inflation has changed over the years on the Bank of England’s website here.

How to future-proof your assets

Despite the level of economic uncertainty at the moment, and the concern that we may be in this position for some time, there are some financial solutions that can support UK businesses retain capital and future-proof their assets. 

Consider refinancing recent purchases

Realistically operating costs are only going to increase in the coming months and cash will become even more precious to your business. Spreading the cost of your purchases over time via a finance agreement enables you to keep more cash in your business, boosting liquidity and cashflow. If you have recently purchased assets with cash, you might want to consider refinancing the assets. This will unlock the cash tied up in the assets so you can put it to better use in your business.

Investing in renewable technologies to reduce energy bills

With the increased uncertainty around energy costs, energy solutions such as solar and renewable technologies are becoming a viable consideration for many businesses across the UK looking at ways to reduce their energy bills whilst becoming more sustainable. 

Spreading the cost of going green using Bluestone’s finance solutions means you can spread the cost in line with the energy savings your business is likely to see, meaning immediate benefits for your business without the large upfront investment.

Financing your assets at a fixed cost 

When inflation is high, such as we’re seeing at the moment (10%), Net Present Value becomes an important consideration for UK businesses.

Net Present Value (NPV), in its simplest terms, is the value of money today compared to the value of the same amount, at a future point in time. 

As an example, £100 today, if we continue to see 10% inflation for the next five years, might only be worth £62 in real terms by 2027. If you spread the cost of your investment over those five years, the true value of your repayments (and therefore the actual cost you end up paying) will be significantly lower by the end of the term when inflation remains high; that’s well worth factoring in when you’re weighing up the cost of financing a project. 

Whilst it may feel like a substantial commitment for your business in the outset, financing your assets at a fixed cost can help you save money in the longer-term, keeping more capital in your business and ensuring you are being as cost-effective as possible.

Bluestone can arrange a variety of bespoke finance solutions to help you manage your business’ finances over the challenging months ahead, including.

  • Finance leases
  • Cashflow loan
  • VAT loans
  • Corporation tax loans
  • PI insurance loans
  • Self-assessment loans
  • Hire Purchase agreements
  • Invoice finance facilities
  • Commercial mortgages
  • Vehicle finance (personal or commercial).

What to expect in the coming years

The Government’s cap on energy bills means we may expect to see inflation rise a little further from where it is now (10%) to around 11% in October. It is expected that after that, it will remain around 10% for a few months before starting to fall to the Bank of England’s 2% target.

If necessary, the BoE will continue to raise interest rates further to bring down inflation to this target. What is still uncertain however, is how high interest rates will need to go in order for this to happen and is dependent on the economy. 

The BoE meet around eight times a year (approximately every six weeks or so) to evaluate further increase rate decisions, with the next announcement due to be made in December this year.  

Interested in finding out how Bluestone can support your business?

We can help businesses 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 speaking to someone who can talk through how to best support your business, get in touch with us today. We will assess your individual circumstances and work with you to decide which finance solution would be the right choice for you. 

Complete the form below to send us an enquiry.

Introducing Bluestone: Danielle Gilbert

Danielle is our vehicles account manager here at Bluestone. Since joining the company in 2022, Danielle has worked closely with the team and established herself in the vehicles department as the go-to person for all things vehicle financing.

The world of work

After leaving school, Danielle began her career working in hospitality and retail before moving on to work in finance for other brokers. At Bluestone, Danielle is committed to supporting customers and partners across all regions by understanding their requirements and sourcing the right vehicle for them or their business needs.

“I love helping other people achieve things for their business or helping individuals get their dream car. I really like cars myself so I find it very interesting dealing with them daily.” 

The early days

Danielle grew up in Tamworth, a town in Staffordshire. She would often spend her free time as a child outside playing whenever she could, and putting her bike to good use. One of Danielle’s earliest memories was playing in the snow with her Nan & Grandad’s Labrador Barney.

“I like that I am in a town but I am located on the outskirts so I have a lot of countryside around me where I can go for lovely walks. It’s in a good location where I have everything I need. When I am homesick, I just think of my lovely home and am thankful for what I have around me.”

How does Danielle like spending her time off?

Danielle is a keen traveler who has visited a number of amazing destinations across the years. Danielle’s perfect weekend would be spending time with her family and going out to do something nice with her little girl.

I love seeing the sights around me when I’m on route to my destination.”

Danielle wants to be remembered for… 

Being the one that was always there for them no matter what. Being kind, funny & caring.

If you would like to speak to Danielle about finance for your vehicles, get in touch today: Danielle.Gilbert@bluestoneleasing.com 

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.