Managing small business cash flow and income in 2022

Managing small business cash flow and income in 2022

finance designated

Content from this article was originally posted by XERO.

 While there are many advantages of being your own boss and running your own small business it isn’t always easy and it can come with hurdles you didn’t even know existed. Then throw in 12 months of restrictions, lockdowns and uncertainty.

The scale of the impact felt by the self-employed is abundantly clear in latest research by simply business. They found Covid-19 will cost SMEs an estimated £126.6 billion – double what owners predicted it would cost them. With six million SMEs in the UK – accounting for over 99% of all businesses, 33% of employment and 21% of all turnover – this £126.6 billion hole in the books of small businesses is a huge blow to the economy.

 It’s been a lean time for small businesses, and especially the families supporting them.

Xero’s small business trends report shows that 60% of small business owners are worried about their household finances running low. So while 2022 will hopefully be a year of rebounding sales and revenue, owners really need that to carry through to the business’ bottom line.

What the experts say

“Businesses must analyse margins and focus on the products and services that generate actual profits as they try to restore cash to the business,” says Ya Wen How, an accountant at AccountServe, who participated in the report.

While there will be a temptation to withdraw any spare cash from the business as ‘owner’s drawings’, experts say it’s important to be mindful of upcoming and potentially unknown expenses.

“Owners often overlook upcoming business expenses when taking drawings, which creates cash flow issues later,” says David Stephens, an accountant at Stephens Financial Services. These cash flow issues create further disruption to the household budget because money has to be put back to the business. 

“Rather than clearing out the business bank account, owners are better off paying themselves a modest amount at regular intervals,” Stephens advises.

Takeaways for small businesses

There are a few things small businesses can do to help support their recovery according to Xero’s small business trends report:

  • Analyse your business margins and focus on products that generate the most profit

  • Create a ‘rainy day fund’ within the business so you’re not constantly loaning it money from your personal savings

  • Schedule regular, sustainable drawings to ease home budgeting

  • Keep your regular drawings modest, as you can always give yourself a bonus payment at the end of a good year

Check out other trends for 2022

Read Xero’s small business trends report to learn more about how to manage your cash and income to set your business up for success in 2022.

How does writing your Employer Value Proposition helps to create a healthy workplace culture?

How does writing your Employer Value Proposition helps to create a healthy workplace culture?


What is an Employer Value Proposition (or EVP) and what does it mean? How does it differ from the Employer Brand (or EB) and why is it so important for companies to define and promote their EVP?

One way of defining the difference between the EB and EVP is to imagine the EB as an outward-facing marketing proposition and the EVP as an internal exercise that outlines the offerings provided by the company in return for the skills, experiences and capabilities an employee brings to the business.

The EVP is a strategic statement that defines how your business wishes to be perceived and outlines the company’s vision, mission and values. These are supported by the company’s offerings in terms of learning and development, career progression, benefits and remuneration thus shaping, supporting and giving credence to the EB.

The EVP and EB go hand-in-hand so that the experience matches the promise. Any mismatch between the two would undermine employee trust and engagement and no doubt lead to poor reviews on review sites such as Glassdoor.

A well-defined EVP can give employers a competitive advantage in the war for talent as candidates become more selective and discerning in their choice of employer. This is especially helpful if the business doesn’t have the budget to compete with the remuneration offered by its larger competitors. The EVP can promote other unique qualities that differentiate the business from its competitors, thus attracting the right talent.

An EVP should provide incentives that reward hard work and create a supportive, inclusive working environment.

According to research from Gartner, “Organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%”

So how do we go about developing an EVP?

This should not be a top-down exercise dictated by senior management since leadership teams will see things differently from employees. Developing an EVP should be an inclusive activity involving HR, management and employees to ensure that strategy, vision and working philosophy tie in with reality.

Use works councils where they exist or create focus groups that represent a fair and diverse cross-selection of all employees. Ensuring inclusion across different levels, functions and disciplines, will help to make sure that any subsequent messaging resonates within each target group.

Start by identifying all the benefits of working at your company and the unique strengths of the organisation versus its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, career progression, learning and development and culture.

This could be done as a focus group exercise and/or through the use of a simple questionnaire. Alternatively, consider using the results of the questionnaire as a basis for your focus group discussions.

When considering remuneration, it’s worth bearing in mind that a generous remuneration package does not always compensate for a poor working environment and a lower-than-average remuneration package will need to rely on other unique selling points to attract key talent. A pleasant and welcoming working environment is as important as remuneration. A comfortable workplace with good facilities, bright open spaces, breakout zones and stylish furniture can be a very attractive feature. Supplying free healthy foods and snacks is also a welcome offering.

Covid has changed the face of the working environment and more companies are adopting a hybrid working solution. Where this is not possible (i.e., in customer-facing roles such as leisure, fitness and hospitality), businesses are providing more flexible working solutions such as job sharing and condensed hours to attract target audiences who value flexibility and a healthier work-life balance.

Opportunities for career progression is also an attractive proposition for high potential individuals who are looking for challenge and growth. Many employers like to showcase success stories of people who have risen in the ranks and who have been encouraged and supported throughout their career journey from entry-level positions to senior-level roles.

Examining the company’s policies on training, performance development and promotions will give clarity on the company’s attitude towards career progression and growth and how the company supports this by providing opportunities for learning and development and supporting good performance management and development practices.

The culture reflects everything from human, social and even political issues. Identifying with the corporate culture can help candidates determine whether or not their values and beliefs are aligned with those of the company. If candidates share the same beliefs, attitudes and behaviours as those identified by the company, this gives them some reassurance of a harmonious working environment which could lead to a longer-term working relationship.

Other benefits can also cover aspects such as financial strength and constant growth, unique products and services and a strong commercial footing, reassuring candidates in terms of security, stability and longevity.

In each stage of the EVP definition process, consider how the company fairs against its competitors in terms of remuneration, working environment, culture and career progression. This will help to establish the company’s USP against the competition and promote aspects that are more generous or attractive than its competitors.

These exercises will help analyse and define the company’s strengths which will form part of the EVP and give it more honesty and credence.

Where can you go from here?

For inspiration, take a look at EVP statements from corporations such as Nike, Airbnb and Starbucks who have invested time and effort in establishing strong EVP statements, testimonials, quotes and blogs providing a diverse and varied view of life at their organisation.

By giving detailed descriptions that support a few key points, you can present realistic and honest EVP statements that support the recruitment, retention and motivation of employees and unite current employees under a common manifesto.


Why induction plays a key role in the recruitment process

Why induction plays a key role in the recruitment process


When does the recruitment process end? Is it considered done and dusted as soon as an offer of employment has been made and accepted, once the contract has been signed or when the new recruit arrives for their first day of work? 

The reality is that the recruitment cycle continues well into the employee’s first 3-6 months of employment whilst they undergo a thorough onboarding process. During this time, they will undertake any necessary training and have regular conversations with their line manager to discuss and review their performance.  

The recruitment cycle concludes once the new recruit has successfully completed and passed their probationary period. Therefore, when establishing a stable, long-term working relationship, the first few months are critical. 

Embarking on a new career can be an exciting, albeit daunting experience for new joiners. They are motivated, enthusiastic and keen to learn and to perform well. 

Induction is the most important part of forming the employee relationship. Welcoming a new joiner and making them feel included, respected and valued reinforces their feeling of wellbeing and alleviates any anxieties or concerns they may have. 

In addition, as more organisations are working remotely because of Covid-19, it is especially important to tailor induction programmes so new joiners have a positive experience and additional support to connect with new colleagues. 

However, induction can often be overlooked and rushed, leaving the new employee feeling unproductive and demotivated. Statistics show that up to 40% of new recruits leave within the first 6 months of starting a new job and the cost of a replacement, including fees and loss of productivity, can be up to £30,000* per head. After all the time and effort spent sourcing the right candidate, it is disappointing, costly and damaging to the business to have to start the whole process again. 

Like the strong foundations of a new high-rise building providing a safe and solid base for construction, a robust, well-planned and thoroughly executed induction will form the basis of a fully engaged and motivated employee who performs well, is highly productive and shows long-term commitment. 

Therefore, it is important to take time to carefully plan the induction process, ensuring that all key aspects regarding the business, the office, the role, the teams, the systems and processes are covered, that training is provided and regular feedback, encouraged. 

By setting a good first impression, new joiners will feel confident in their choice of employer and in their new role. 

Start the induction before they come onboard by sending a welcome pack with some goodies such as a personalised company mug or t-shirt, creating a positive feeling in connection to your company. Provide an outline of what they can expect on their first day/week/month of employment, so there are no sudden surprises. Include any company literature or media that gives the employee an informative and engaging introduction to the company, the business and its people.  Avoid bombarding the employee with too much information and ensure that any information you do provide is relevant to the employee and their employment with the business. 

Any pre-employment matters such as right to work and starter forms should be dealt with before the start date.   

Prior to their arrival, ensure their work space is set up and fully equipped, with all the necessary resources they need to hit the ground running. Where applicable, ensure their PC is connected and working properly, their email is set-up and that all furniture and equipment are in good condition.  

Some new employees have been known to spend their first few days setting up their own workstations, chasing log ins and passwords and setting up accounts. This is timewasting and unproductive. It is also frustrating and demoralising for the new joiner. 

Depending on the nature and size of the company, induction can be conducted by HR and the line manager as well as other directors and team members. The induction can be delivered in many ways, via a combination of individual and/or group talks and presentations, social media and/or other media resources.  

Some companies prefer to address practical matters as a priority, such as on-site health and safety, workplace compliance, facilities and IT, company benefits and policies. Others prefer to focus on organisation information, culture and values, role specific information and learning and development in the first instance, as this is the more interesting and engaging part of induction. In any event, avoid treating induction as tick-box exercise and keep it as informal and engaging as possible. 

There are many tools available to facilitate the sharing of information and improving internal communications and interactivity. An intranet app such as Actimo can be uploaded onto smart phones and used as an effective social media and company communication tool, introducing new joiners, sharing knowledge, company news and information.  

Implementing a peer buddy system enables new joiners to integrate and settle in more quickly. Introducing new joiners to key employees will also help them to better understand the organisation’s structure and key responsibilities across all teams. Organising regular social events encourages newbies to meet their colleagues and make new friends in a relaxed and informal setting. Some companies like to arrange fun activities specifically aimed at encouraging new recruits to meet the teams, such as inviting them to distribute beers and drinks during Friday night socials. 

The induction process should be evaluated to determine whether it is meeting the needs of the new recruits and the organisation. Providing opportunities for feedback at the end of the induction process and inviting ideas and suggestions for improvement is always good practice. 

As well as gathering feedback from new employees, its important to identify key measures of success of the induction process and evaluate the process against these metrics. Information from turnover statistics or employee feedback can also be used, particularly from those who leave within the first 12 months of employment.  

The kind of start they get off to is crucial to shaping their attitude to the company and their job, so planning an induction will be more than worth the effort involved. 


*ACAS – Oxford Economics
* Work -force insights arm of credit-reporting agency Equifax 2013 


Working with Designated vs project-based sites such as Fiverr and Upwork.

Working with Designated vs project-based sites such as Fiverr and Upwork.

Fiverr Upwork

If you haven’t come across websites like Upwork or Fiverr before now, allow us to give you a brief overview. If you require a creative project or task that you wouldn’t normally need on a long-term or regular basis, then you could use websites like Upwork and Fiverr to outsource that task and find a creative person to get the job done. (There are many more out there, but as these are some of the biggest, with the most aggressive marketing campaigns and budgets – we’ll only reference these for today).

Upwork claims to have the largest network of independent professionals to – in short – get things done. Fiverr is very similar, they connect businesses with digital freelancers in 300+ categories. So you get the idea, you need a person, these sites will help you find one.

Sounds simple enough right? Well…not always. On paper, the concept works and is an attractive one. But those aggressive marketing campaigns I previously mentioned, promote competitively low fees, and tight turnarounds. As a business, your budget for the project or campaign may thank you in the short term. But you may find yourself spending double later, fixing rushed or plagiarised work, that you simply can’t use. 

At Designated we recruit experts in their fields, our full-time employees and freelancers all have several interviews and project-based tasks to assess whether they would be a fit for our current (and future!) clients. So when our clients come to us with a project, we can assign the right person for the job, based on more than a job title. 

A Designated team member is dedicated to the client to work on the project, campaign or long-term assignment. Our team develop strong and lasting relationships, which is why our clients have been so loyal to us over the years and exploring various business solutions support, as and when they need them. It is not uncommon for a client who employees their PA via Designated to come back to us for Marketing, Accountancy or HR requirements further down the line. 

Concepts such as Fiverr or Upwork can result in an exploitation of industry professionals, those that have spent many years perfecting their craft. Such low fees for their time and work as well as constant reminders from the platform of the ‘tight turnarounds’, mean that freelancers have very little choice than to submit sub-standard work. Not to mention that the platforms can charge some hefty fees to the freelancers for the privilege of using their services. 

There will be some clients out there that seek to take advantage of this cheap labour, but in the long run – their business won’t benefit from it. Unfortunately, multi-million-dollar platforms like these are benefiting from businesses that don’t have an eye for or realise the importance of unique and specialist design. 

Many of our clients see us as an extension of their teams and with such strong working relationships, productivity soars. So for us, websites like Fiverr and Upwork would never work to outsource our projects.

At Designated we are committed to our clients and take real ownership over the work we do. If you are looking for some additional support at your company across the areas of PA, Accountancy, Marketing or HR and Recruitment – please do get in touch. 0207 952 1460 or 






Get off to a good start in 2022

Get off to a good start in 2022

Taxes Self Assessment

As we head into 2022 and a promising new year, we have an opportunity to take stock and reset. This includes reviewing our more strategic plans and objectives and checking that the basics are well managed. Jane Braithwaite shows how to give your business a fresh start.

From a strategic perspective, I take time to review and plan every quarter. I make the most of the ‘back to school’ feeling in September and at the start of the new year, which is an obvious time to reflect on everything in life including business. April and July are the two other times during the year when I pause to review progress and make plans for the coming quarter.

Over the last two years, with the changing environment caused by the impact of Covid, my strategic planning has become less proactive, and my focus has been on managing the ups and downs caused by the Covid crisis. But performing in ‘crisis’ mode for such a long time is not healthy for us in either our personal lives or for the success of our businesses. So the start of 2022 is a more significant opportunity than it might normally have been for all of us to take stock and set our agenda for the coming year. My strategic planning will involve reviewing my previous plans and assessing what has been successful, what we have achieved and identifying the areas where we made less progress than hoped.

Purposely parked
To be honest, due to the challenges of the last two years, there are a few objectives that I set for my business that was purposely parked and I am sure I am not alone. Due to a lack of time to focus on the more proactive side of growing the business and to allow time for the day-to-day management of the effects of Covid some activities needed to be taken off the agenda in the short term.

The start of 2022 will provide a great opportunity to decide whether the time is right to reset those objectives and restart progress. I am also addicted to business plans and notebooks, and I have used most of the widely known business plans/journals.

Currently, my favourite is the Clever Fox Planner Pro, which I highly recommend for anyone like me who enjoys structure and handwriting out plans. Clever Fox allows you to set your strategic plan and then manage it on a day-to-day basis.

The new year is also a good time to check that business basics are being managed well. No business, can succeed and grow if the basics are not well organised.

Good processes
Most importantly, good processes and systems ensure that the business runs smoothly and that patients, clients and employees are happy.

Conversely, poor processes lead to a drain on management time with time spent addressing issues and firefighting reducing time available for patient care and more strategic activity.

Over the last two years, it is possible that many of us have taken less time to review the basic operations of our businesses and this is a good time to check and act if needed.

Customer experience
Are you capturing and reviewing feedback from your customers? This is an activity that may have been lost in recent months or even years and it is worth re-establishing good processes; firstly, asking your customers for feedback and regularly reviewing matters with your team.

Over the last few months, customer expectations may have changed and it is important to ensure that your business delivers against its current requirements to maintain an excellent reputation.

Employee satisfaction
The challenge of surviving the Covid pandemic has affected everyone to a greater or lesser extent and your employees may have been under increased pressure to deal with changes in their working environment.

Now is a good time to assess how your employees are feeling and to ensure that their well-being is being prioritised by you as an employer. An employee survey is a good way to gain feedback in an anonymous way to allow you to get a realistic picture of the challenges your team is facing.

The information gathered can be used by you and your senior team to develop an action plan to address any issues and ensure that your team know their well-being is a top priority for you.

Most businesses review their pricing on an annual basis to ensure they are competitive but also in line with inflation and the cost of running their business.

Is your marketing in line with your objectives and how well is it delivering against your objectives? Now would be a good time to re-assess your marketing activities and ensure they are delivering the results you are aiming for.

Are all of your marketing and communication materials consistent in their look and feel?

Is your website working well from a technical perspective and is it compliant in terms of cookie policies and privacy? Are you communicating regularly with your patients and referrers via a newsletter and/or via social media?

If you need any assistance with your fresh start in 2022, please feel free to get in touch. But, for now, I wish you a Happy New Year.