Tag Archives: work from home

A Bit On The Side

A Bit on the Side

No, not what you’re thinking, I’m talking about the Side Gig, Side Hustle, Moonlighting, Homers, whatever you want to call it, it can be a very good idea.

Initially I built up my accounts practice on the side of my day job before leaving that job to grow my business full time.

More and more people are moonlighting on the side of their day job – so why is this such a good idea?

Test the waters

If you eventually want your side job to become your full time job, growing it on the side gives you time to test the waters, experiment and learn.  It lets you try out different strategies to see what works and allows you to fail, all whilst keeping the financial security of your day job.

Not having to rely on your side gig for income allows you to focus on the long term success rather than short term income.

Extra Income

You’ll no doubt make some money from your side gig to compliment your full time income.  Whether you use this extra income to grow the business, save or dig yourself out of debt is up to you but the extra cash will always be nice.

Cash lets you fund your own start up or take a pay cut when you eventually want/need to ditch the full time job and make your side job the full timer.

Money can make you feel that you have options, that you have some backup, that you can afford to fail.  In other words it makes you feel safe, and if you feel safe you are more likely to take the small risks necessary to start up.

What to do

You need to establish what your side gig is going to be – what are you good at, what do you know how to do, what would you like to do, what would others pay you to do.

Getting started

Once you’ve decided what you are going to do you need to work out how you are going to get clients/customers.  How are you going to get the word out about what you are doing and what platforms are you going to use to do this.

Keeping it going

Office management – even if your side job is something low tech such as dog walking, don’t think you don’t need to get involved in office management.

A side gig doesn’t have to be about money.  It can be for fun, to gain experience or self education.   However, if money is the main objective you need to take it seriously.  Dealing with administrative tasks, paperwork, income, expenses, taxes and marketing all need to be done.  If you are making money you have a legal obligation to declare this for tax which requires some record keeping.

Stay Organised

If you’re working 9–5 and then moonlighting on the side, you are going to be busy.  You must stay on top of the admin and if you are making money you need to stay on top of the finances.  Keep track of all income, expenses, bank and paypal accounts.  You may need to develop systems for tracking this, customer/client relationship management and other items relevant to your line of work.  These systems can be anything from notebook scribbles or spreadsheets to specialised software.  The more you have going on, the more you need to attend to these back office tasks.

Word of warning

If your side gig is something that could tread on the toes of your full time employers business, you should get their permission first as there may be clauses in your employment contract to stop employees setting up in competition against them or stealing their clients.

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Photo Credit: Splitshire.com

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All About Poole

I recently saw a blog from a follower giving 40 reasons to move to Toronto, so I thought I would take inspiration from this and compile a list of things about Poole. Now Poole is a lot smaller than Toronto and our Mayor is not known internationally for taking crack and using inappropriate language, in fact, I have no idea who our Mayor is but let’s see what we can come up with.

    • We have one of the largest natural harbours in the world.
    • We have Blue Flag beaches

      • A Chain Ferry
      • Not one but two lifting bridges.
      • 4 Tides per day
      • It’s where the Scouts were founded by Lord Baden Powell – dib dib dib
      • The home of Sunseeker Yachts

      • The home of Lush – they make our industrial estates smell lovely

        • Head Quarters for the RNLI – they have a fancy new college building where you can even get married.

          • The Sandbanks Pennisular has the 4th highest land value in the world – you need serious millions for even a scrap of land.
          • Poole Quay – where several of the pubs date back to the 1600’s
          • The Dolphin Shopping Centre – an incredibly ugly 1960s concrete monstrosity, how did they ever think that looked good.
          • We have cross channel ferries.
          • Rainfall is well below the UK average.
          • Population (at the last census in 2011) is 147,600 with 22% under 19 and 20.5% over 65.
          • In 2006 a National Housing Federation study claimed Poole was the most unaffordable town to live in, in the UK.
          • The castle on Brownsea Island was originally a fortification built by Henry VIII in 1549 – now its owned by the National Trust who lease it to John Lewis for their staff holidays.

            • Ryvitas are made here – you can smell it when they burn them.
            • The heathland at Canford Heath is an 850 acre site of special scientific interest.
            • We have ‘Bikers Night’ on Poole Quay every Tuesday.
            • Polo on the beach.

            • It’s home to Diane Hudson Accountancy Ltd.

 

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HMRCs Home Office Policies

How much can you claim, for using a room in your home for business purposes?

HMRCs guidance uses typically vague words such as ‘fair & reasonable’ and ‘modest or excessive’. The trouble is someone earning mega money will think one figure is fair and reasonable but to most of us the same figure would seem excessive.

HMRC believes just £4 per week is all that should be claimed for the use of a home office. This measly amount is deemed as a ‘significant’ expenses and any claim over this amount must be justified by providing records or demonstrating your calculations.

How to can claim over the £4 per week

One way to prove your claim is reasonable is to calculate your monthly outgoings for gas, electric, rent, water etc then divide this by the number of rooms in the property (excluding kitchens & bathrooms).  For example if you have 5 rooms (Lounge, Dining Room, 3 Bedrooms) and one is used as an office take 1/5th of these bills.

If this amount seems too substantial for your business use you could divide it down further by the number of hours you spend in it working each day eg, 8/24 hrs or by the number of days per week that you work or by square meterage if known.

Beware

Be careful if claiming for more than one room as you will need more justification but it is possible ie a photographer could have an office and a darkroom (days before digital).

You should never claim the room is ‘solely’ for business purposes as this could lead to a business rates claim by the local council for part of your home or even Capital Gains Tax when you sell your property. Most people’s home office also doubles as a spare bedroom or is home to the unused exercise bike or the kids use it for doing their homework.

If you run your business through a Limited Company you can draw up a lease agreement so your company is reimbursing you for the costs of the room thus reducing your Corporation Tax but again, to be exempt from Capital Gains Tax when you sell the property make sure the agreement doesn’t state that it is solely and exclusively for business purposes.

For the Love of Lists

Lists – I love them, always have done. There’s something deeply satisfying about ticking off items on your lists. I guess that’s why I took to accountancy, it’s basically just lists of income & lists of expenses.

When you have lots to do or lots to remember and everything is whizzing around in your head itbigstock-The-word-Everything-on-a-To-Do-45656401-300x300 can seem like double the amount of tasks you actually have to accomplish and can seem quite overwhelming. By writing the tasks down in a list it helps to clarify, organise and prioritise the tasks and then when you can see exactly what’s to be done and you know you won’t forget anything, it suddenly all seems less overwhelming.

As humans, we tend to have a natural state of ‘slackness’, lists help to focus the mind. Shopping lists, reminders and ‘to do’ lists are all variations on productivity based lists that we use to help us stop procrastinating. The ‘to do’ list is the one we spend most time on. We don’t seem to struggle to write a shopping list and then buy everything on it but getting tasks on a ‘to do’ list done is a whole different matter.

Tips for your ‘To Do’ list

Don’t make tasks too large, break them down into smaller tasks, you’ll have more to tick off and will feel like you are achieving more.

Prioritise – put the list in order of urgency.

Be realistic with your planning. It will have a negative effect if you are unable to accomplish your tasks in the time you set yourself.

If you can’t get motivated try doing the simplest, quickest tasks on your list first. Ticking off some items will help you get going.

Find methods that work for you. You may need a list of long-term tasks and then make sub lists for smaller more immediate or daily tasks.

My Lists

In my personal life I have lists for everything, shopping (I have an app for that one), packing, camping, finances, birthdays, bucket lists etc, etc but we won’t go into those as some may think it’s a bit sad.

In work, although I have many lists to organise and keep track of things in my business, my ‘to do’ list is the most essential. (That and the list that shows who owes me money.)

I do a monthly to do list so on the first day of each month a new blank list complete with tick boxes is printed off. First I put on everything that was left to do from the last month. I draw a red line under these so I know they were from the previous month and that these items must be done by the end of the new month, that way I am never too far behind with anything. Then in a separate section I write in anything that I know has to be done in the month and the date it has to be done by, items such as PAYE submissions, Companies House annual returns, VAT returns etc. Again a line is drawn under these, then any new work that comes in during the month is listed underneath and whilst I try to get as much completed in the month, I know it’s ok if these have to be carried over to the following month.

Click link to my blankTo do list

Some days when there seems to be a lot of little bits & pieces to do, I will write a sub list just for the day. You need to be flexible, I do not always do the items in order of the list, if you know you only have 20 mins to spare, just chose a quick task to tackle, it’s not always practical to start a task you won’t be able to finish.

Lists can help a lot but don’t be ruled by them, sometimes life just gets in the way of your goals.

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Reba – The Face Behind the Noise

A few of you have met her but a lot of you have just heard her. I’m talking about our big fluffy monster who barks like crazy every time you come to my front door. We are trying to stop this behaviour but she is just so protective of her space.

I usually try to shut her in the kitchen before I answer the door as once the door is open she changes from being protective to very excitable and I know being jumped at, licked and covered in fur isn’t to everybody’s liking.

Her name is Reba (named after a bicycle suspension fork).

She’s a proper Welsh Border Collie from a sheep farm in the Brecon Beacons, she’s now 10 years old and we’ve had her from a puppy.

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She loves to come with us for forest bike rides, she runs along beside us and gets impatient when we stop for a rest.

She also likes sticks

And her teddy’s

And we love her to bits

Bye

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My Office

Following on from my previous blogs ‘Working from home’ and ‘What your desk says about you’, it occurred to me that none of my 170 clients have ever seen my office so here is a guided tour.

Firstly my office takes over 2 rooms; one has filing cabinets and storage of work to be done and work to be collected.

The other is where the many, many hours of work are done.

There are 2 workstations, 2 laptops, a Mac, 2 printers, shelving, stationery cupboard, filing trays, white board, pin board, Bose speaker doc, telephone, shredder, binder and all the necessary stationery. All very usual and boring.

However, I have some more interesting objects in the office to make it more personal to me.


A canvas of Moto GP Champion Jorge Lorenzo – I’m a big fan.

On the shelf you may have spotted there is an Ice Hockey goalie mask – a present from my husband. This one is from NHL team Florida Panthers (not my team but they are hard to come by) and it actually has blood inside it. I also have 2 ice hockey pucks – they make great paper weights.


Look see I really am qualified and licenced to practice!

My stapler is the best stapler ever, I had it for years at my last place of work and loved it so much that they let me keep it when I left 6 years ago and it’s still going strong. I don’t know what I’d do if it broke.

My paperclips are held in a little cake box from The Bulldog – one of those ‘special’ cafes in Amsterdam and yes the cake was ‘special’ too. My husband and I thought we would be brave and try one. So sitting on the edge of a canal in the red light district, whilst watching the numerous stag parties go by, we split the tiny cake in half and ate half each, then waited ….. and waited ……and, nothing!! It was probably just an overpriced sponge cake.

My husband and son stick stickers on everything – I hate stickers, the side of my printer is the only place I allow them on my stuff and they have to meet the criteria of being pretty/cute/girly bike related stickers.

Finally, my all important calculator. I’ve had it from when I was studying accountancy so I estimate it to be at least 15 years old. Pretty much all of the numbers have disappeared from the keys and I never even realised until my son tried to use it to do his maths homework and he would ask “Where’s the 3”, “where’s the plus”, and I would tell him “where they’ve always been” – no wonder he done so badly in maths.

 

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10 Tips for Working From Home

I’m often asked about how I like/deal with working from home.  A lot of people tell me they couldn’t do it stating that they wouldn’t be able to get motivated to work, or they would get distracted all the time or they would miss not going out to work and being with colleagues.

Well, I have to say i absolutely love it.  In my case there’s no daily commute, no boss to deal with, no being trapped inside when the weather is glorious, no having to book time off just to go to the dentist.  The flexibility is brilliant.

However, if you want to earn a proper living you do have to be sensible about it.  I’ve read so many tips for working from home but this is my take on it, the things that are important to me and make it work for me.

1.  Take your work seriously.

If you don’t, no one else will.  People often think if you work from home that it’s not a proper job.  Don’t say ‘I work at home’ instead say ‘I work from home’ or ‘I have a home office’.  Speak of and refer to it in business and professional terms.

2.  Keep social media for personal time.

I make a point of never using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc., on my office computer as hours just disappear.  I restrict use to my iPad and only go on these sites when I’m not in the office.  Usually it’s while I’m eating breakfast or lunch or watching TV in the evening.  TV is also something you should never switch on during your working day – there’s nothing good on daytime TV anyway.

3.  Routine

Some people need routine and I myself am a creature of habit but surely a major advantage of working from home is that you are not tied to routines such as the 9-5.  For instance I would much rather go to the supermarket on say a Tuesday morning when it’s really quiet than have to leave it till the weekend when its busy and takes twice as long.  I would also rather be in the garden on the rare occasions that the sun shines then work twice as hard when it’s raining.

4.  Dedicated workspace.

You need boundaries between work and life.  Having a dedicated office or at least a desk in the corner is a must.  Working on the kitchen table whilst the family are eating, talking, making coffee, dogs running around, papers getting moved etc just won’t work.

5.  Make your free time count.

You can’t stay focused for hours on end and if you work in a home office it’s easy to lose track of time.  You need to get out of your chair and take regular short breaks.  You can use these breaks to put the washing on, unload the dishwasher, walk the dog….

6.  Wake up and put your face on.

You can’t lay in bed every day, no problem if you have a family to get out the door each morning.  Many people say you should get dressed for work I don’t believe this should mean wearing a suit.  My take on this just means that you shouldn’t slob about in your PJs all day and anyone who knows me, knows that my work shoes are my fluffy slippers.

7.  Have a schedule but learn to be flexible.

I have always been big on writing lists, I find if I have things to do buzzing around my head I can feel overwhelmed as it seems like more than it actually is.  Writing these things down helps to clarify and organise.  You can plan your tasks for the day but then life can interrupt your progress, don’t beat yourself up over not ticking everything off your list just try to make progress at a different time.  If you can’t get motivated start by tackling the easiest jobs on your to do list.

8.  Get your telephone answering right during office hours.

Be professional and don’t let the kids answer the phone.  Have an answer phone for when you’re not around.

9.  Avoid Cabin Fever.

Having a dog and living next to a heath is a great help for me here as it makes you go out every day rain or shine.  Many home workers go out to coffee shops to work just to have some human contact, this is not something I have ever felt the need to do.

10.  Closing Time.

Try not to work too late in the evening especially if you have a family and make sure clients/customers respect your personal time.  An advantage of working from home is that you are more available to your clients/customers but phone calls while you are having your Sunday roast is never going to be acceptable.

With that said, it must be time to put the kettle on!

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Photo Credit:  Jeff Sheldon of ugmonk.com