Should Wannabe Bosses ask for Directions?

When you start a business it helps to have a business bank account.  It may not be absolutely necessary and I am sure there are plenty of small businesses who are quite happy to operate using personal bank accounts and building societies, but for Everything Dinosaur we decided from the start to have a business account.

In these matters I am happy to defer to my colleague Sue.  She, I have to admit, has far more knowledge of financial matters than I do.  Her background is book keeping and office administration so I have left it to her to choose our bank, financial advisers, accountants and so forth.  Everything Dinosaur banks with Barclays, this was Sue’s choice.  I know that banks make money out of businesses such as ours, you only have to look at the enormous profits the high street banks are making to see this, but banks make money from everybody even personal bank accounts that remain in credit.  Banks may claim that they offer “free” banking in the UK, so long as you keep a positive balance in your account, but this isn’t the case.  Financial institutions use the money in your account to make money for themselves, if you are paid interest it is nowhere near the commercial rate.  The difference between the interest banks pay and the returns they make when they use your money makes up a proportion of their profits.

So, there is no such thing as free banking… this is the issue we discuss today with Everything Dinosaur blog readers.

If you accept that you need a business bank account, there are certainly lots to choose from.  Banks on the whole like small businesses, the make money from them and sooner or later you may need an overdraft or a bank loan – more opportunities for the bank to cash in.

Banks and other organisations do provide advice and assistance.  For example, Everything Dinosaur has a Start-up and Small Business Adviser, he is called Nick and he is based at a Barclays branch about 10 miles from our offices.  Nick has been very helpful and he has provided some sound advice.  Nick has to look after many customers in the region and I suppose he has targets to reach such as number of new accounts opened, amount of money loaned etc. so the cynic in me sometimes thinks just how impartial his advice may be.   He is also difficult to track down, like many banks Barclays have reduced the number of support staff and as a result Nick has a bigger and bigger area to cover, so if you do try to contact him, mobile phone is your best option.

Two things I have learnt whilst running Everything Dinosaur, firstly it is useful to ask for advice and support.  Secondly, it is useful if you know where to find this advice and support.  I think one of the differences between men and women is their different attitudes when it comes to asking for advice.  Men, like me are reluctant to do so, whilst women are more willing.  Take asking for directions as an example, if Sue and I are going to a dinosaur event at a school and we get lost I am very reluctant to stop and ask someone for assistance.  Sue on the other hand has no problem with this.  Perhaps our brains are just wired differently, this may be a result of our environment and evolution.  Our ancestors divided the daily tasks with women going off to do one thing and the men another.  This might have resulted in our different attitudes for asking advice when we get lost, or it might be because I just don’t want to admit I have lost control of the situation.

Either way, it is important to seek advice when a running a company.   Whether you sell doughnuts or dinosaurs often the problems you have are the same – how to increase sales, where to find premises etc?

When we were planning Everything Dinosaur we used a software programme provided free by Barclays Bank coupled with a handy booklet from Natwest to help write the business plan.  The best tool we were given was a book entitled “Small Business Guide”, this was given to us by Lloyds TSB.  In fact I have both the fourteenth and fifteenth editions of this book in my office, the second copy was given to me by our local Business Link adviser – another example of me asking for directions.

This book contains information on how to develop your business idea, raising money, increasing sales plus lots of useful tips on how to deal with VAT, income tax and other issues.  If you are going to take the plunge like we did and start your own company I would recommend you read this book.

This book was written by a woman, called Sara Williams.  I suspect she brought in specialists to help her with each of the chapters – I guess she asked for directions…

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