The Definitive List of Networking Events in Cambridge

cambridgeIn the city of Cambridge alone, there are over 10.000 self employed people and, to many of these, networking is a vital way of meeting future clients, suppliers or to simply make connections to join them on their journey to success. However,…

  • Where is the best place to meet them?
  • What networking events are best for technology or non-technology businesses?
  • What are the best informal networking events to go to?

Here you’ll find the answers to the questions and more with our free guide to all the networking events in the city of Cambridge, which is regularly updated. All you need to do is complete the form below for your free copy. You’ll notice that the form requires you to sign up to our newsletter, but don’t worry as you can unsubscribe at any time. You will then receive the networking guide by email within 24 hours.

The Definitive Guide to Networking in Cambridge

If your event or group needs adding or updating, please email info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com for details or tweet us @CamBizLounge. You can also find out about our own events on our events page.

Cambridge Business Lounge Event at Cambridge Union Society by Pendleton Events | Photo by http://www.ianolsson.com

Breaking The Back of Bookkeeping

b imageFollowing on from “Why You Need an Accountant When Starting a Business”, I want to focus on the financial paperwork that you can (and need) to manage yourself, and that you don’t need an accountant for.

Imagine this dark scenario…

You’ve done your research; got your product or service to market, found customers who are interested in what you do…and then you run out of cash. A dramatic, but not uncommon, situation and one not caused by banks not lending.

This situation is often created by not knowing who owes you money, who you owe money to and HMRC penalties for late or incorrect payment and filing of returns. There are more benefits for having your house in order as Emily Coltman FCA, Chief Accountant to FreeAgent Central, explains “Not keeping your books up to date is very risky. Plus, you won’t be able to make informed decisions such as which new markets or new products to try if you don’t have accurate and up-to-date financial information”

“I don’t have the time”

It’s vitally important to make the time, and how much time often depends on the complexity of the business. If you’re a retailer selling a high volume mix of VATable and non-VATable products, your bookkeeping is likely to be more involved than a business which raises 5 invoices per month. A good system will be easy to use, easy to understand and as Emily suggests “we believe that spending just one hour a week on your books will make all the difference.”

It certainly will be if you put these tools in place when you set up your business, rather than play catch-up when you’ve been trading for weeks or months.

“Which system should I use?”

There are a plethora of bookkeeping systems out there, far too many for me to list. So, if you haven’t used one before, seek advice from your peers, accountant or bank manager. An accountant may even suggest using the same system as them, which could be a benefit to you and may even help to reduce your accountancy bill. But is it the right system for your business? Emily warns “Don’t accept an antiquated bookkeeping system because it’s what your accountant has always used. Look for a system that puts YOU in control – after all, this is your business and you are responsible for it to HMRC!”

Using a system that’s different to the one your accountant uses shouldn’t hinder your professional relation with them, as Emily explains “With the right system for you, you will be able to work more closely with your accountant, who will be able to give you proactive business advice such as whether your prices aren’t high enough or you’re paying too much in bank charges.”

Download Software Vs Cloud Based Systems

Market leading tools have historically been QuickBooks and Sage and there is a growing increase in the number of online tools available, with the most popular versions being FreeAgent, Xero and KashFlow. Others are available, but I’d recommend one of these as the starting point for your research.

Online accounting software is, in my opinion, the best way to go. Your information is then accessible from anywhere in the world and, more importantly, it is safe and secure. Also, many online systems offer free trials so you can see how intuitive they are before you commit. When you do try one, also test their customer service/tech support as these will be invaluable to you in the early days of use, and you don’t want to be spending more time on hold or with an unsupportive advisor than you need.

To summarise:

  • Start as you mean to go on, and put systems in place now.
  • Use the tool that’s right for you and YOUR business, not your accountant or bank manager
  • The time spent on this will actually save you time in the future.

Email your comments or questions to info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com

Testimonial 7

I’ve found the Cambridge Business Lounge to be an excellent environment for coworking and providing training

Jon Torrens, Communication Coach

Testimonial 6

If you haven’t been to a CBL coworking session, talk, meeting or speed networking event, I suggest you give it a try. It will probably be the best business decision you ever make!

Kathy Salaman (The Good Grammar Company)

Why You Need An Accountant When Starting a Business

 

a imageTo kick start our new A-Z series for anybody who has recently started a business, or is thinking of doing so, we look at A for Accountants…

The focus for many, when starting a business, is to bring their passion, skill or product to market and then find the customers to buy into it. The thought of talking to an accountant often doesn’t even come up at the start up stage, let alone worry about finding the right one. However, the right support can so often make a difference between a successful and unsuccessful business, and an accountant is one the most valuable ports of call that you have. But why? And how can they help?

Why Does My Start-Up Business Need An Accountant?

Will you start trading as a limited company or sole trader? Should you be VAT registered? What taxes will you be liable for? What documentation should you keep track of and how? And, what do you need to know to set up your business that you don’t know now? It is these questions that you will need answers to and, as Elaine Clark, MD of the award-winning Cheap Accounting states “not seeking advice from the offset can often prove to be a false economy

What Else Will An Accountant Do For Me?

Accountants are known for being tax experts and supporting both businesses and individuals on Self-Assessment, VAT, PAYE, Year End and more. In my opinion, an accountant should be a professional friend and confidante for a business. Elaine goes on to state that, like a friend, an accountant will stand with you throughout “It’s not just about today and what needs to be done at start up. A good accountant will be around for all key events during the life time of the business.” she adds “An accountant should listen to the objectives for the business including the aspirations for the future and advise the owner on the best way to structure the business & set up the system of accounting both now and for the future, explaining this in language that the business owner can understand of course.

How Do I Find A Good Accountant?

A qualified account is a great starting point with ACCA, ICAEW, CIMA and AAT helping you here, but as Elaine says “having letters after a name is not always a sign of quality” she goes on to advise “Ask the accountant what professional body they belong to, do they have professional indemnity insurance and what is their complaints procedure. Failure to provide any of these details should start an alarm bell ringing – listen to it.” Remember that if something does go wrong, you can refer back to a professional body. A option not available if you work with an unqualified accountant.

However, like a decorator, motor garage or website designer, one of the best places to find an accountant is by asking a trusted friend or advisor. Find out what the accountant has done for them and what impact they think it would have had on their business without one. Many accountants will also offer a free initial consultation period, usually around an hour. Use this to find out what the personalities of the people you may be working with are like and understand how genuinely interested in your business they are.

Finally, finding the right accountant could save your business a lot of hassle, time and money. Look for one as early as possible as “Starting a business is like learning to ride a bike” says Lance Uttridge, owner of Cambridgeshire based Uttridge AccountingSome will take to it very quickly others will take longer, but to succeed everyone needs advice, encouragement and support. That is what a start-up needs and what an accountant will give

5 Great Books For Start-Ups

One of the first things many people do when starting a business for the first time is to buy a book to learn more about it. But which one should you choose?

Amazon produced 419 results when searching for “Books for start-ups” and Google came back with a staggering 128,000,000. So, I’ve whittled it down to 5 great books based on thoughts from businesses who have referred to these during their navigation through the start up stage:

1. Start It Up. Why Running Your Own Business Is Easier Thank You Think – Luke Johnson

start-it-upLuke Johnson, one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, with an estimated personal fortune of £120 million. is a former chairman of Pizza Express and Channel 4 Television, and columnist for the Financial Times and Management Today. Arguably then, Start It Up is certainly a how-to book by someone who has been there and done it. He covers almost everything from the emotion of starting a business to investment, and communication to planning. He certainly doesn’t shy away from forcing the reader to be sure of what they’re doing and to be prepared for the unexpected.

 

2. Like A Virgin – Richard Branson

bransonbookAn easy to read book, which reads more like a series of short blogs, Like A Virgin contains over 75 chapters of tips and experiences from one of Britain’s leading entrepreneurs. Some of the tips may appear glaringly obvious at first glance, and can be a little repetitive, but when backed up by the reasons why Sir Richard has included them, they often take on a more beneficial meaning. Its breezy style means it’s less of a cover-to-cover and more of an open-at-random.

 

 

 

3. Business Gurus  – Various contributors

business-gurusIt’s easy buy volume after volume on the philosophy of customer service, marketing and more. Business Gurus is a bite size volume of global leaders’ major business theories and a perfect introduction to complex leadership ideas. It enables the everyday reader to easily understand these hugely influential management ideas and how they changed the face of modern-day business. Featured experts include Stephen Covey, Napoleon Hill, Charles Handy and many more.

 

 

4. Dear Entrepreneur – Danny Bailey & Andrew Blackman

dear entrepImagine contacting successful entrepreneurs such as the founder of innocent drinks, Pimlico Plumbers, AudioBoo, Urban Coffee Company amongst others, to ask them for their advice in starting a business. Actually, I’m not stopping you if you wish to do that, but Bailey and Blackman have asked these leaders to write to you and offer their advice. As Daniel Callaghan, founder MBA & Company, writes “The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step” and with the simple act of purchasing this book the first inch of your expedition has already been conquered”

 

 

5. The Start Up Kit – Emma Jones

start up kitWhatever your industry or budget, The Start Up Kit offers tips, case studies and templates to help either turn your business idea into a reality or take it to the next level. Another benefit of this book is that it’s released annually, so the case studies and advice are as up-to-date as possible.

 

Would you recommend any others? Would you like to write your own business book review for our website?  If so, or once you’ve read one of these, please email your thoughts to info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com. 

Do Something Amazing For Your Customers

extra_mileWhen was the last time you went a step further to delight your customers? Here are a couple of examples…

1. Recently, one of our customers was celebrating their birthday and I decided to buy a cake from the local Burleigh Bake Shop. Sadly the shop didn’t have the cake that I wanted and instead suggested I visited the mini-supermarket around the corner. Nothing revolutionary so far, but it’s what the owner of the shop did next that blew me away. He offered to drive to the bigger supermarket up the road and buy one for me there, if the one around the corner couldn’t help.

2. I was having a discussion with a connection on Twitter about where to meet up one evening to discuss a joint event. Don Pasquale’s offered their venue and when we asked if they had a specific item on their menu they said no, but they would buy it in and cook it for us. Not for a large group but for 2 people holding an irregular meeting.

In Flipping The Funnel, Seth Godin talks about turning strangers into friends, friends into customers and (most importantly) customers into salespeople. Both these instances show how, with minimal effort, going the extra mile and doing something extraordinary for your customers can get your ‘sales people’ singing about your business, whatever it is that you sell.

So, this week, do something amazing for your customers and tell us all about it at @CamBizLounge or info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com.

Huppert Meets Home-Based Entrepreneurs At The Business Lounge

julian huppertMP Julian Huppert will meet some of the city’s home-based entrepreneurs on Monday, July 29 at the Cambridge Business Lounge.

Mainly sole traders, they run companies in sectors from technology to marketing and 3D printing to entertainment. Occasionally they work from the Cambridge Business Lounge, where they are offered desk space and wi-fi access as a change of scenery from their home-based offices or to meet other small business people and exchange ideas.

Cambridge Business Lounge in Burleigh Street, Cambridge is run by Ed Goodman and Nicky Smerdon.

Ed said: “Nicky and I launched Cambridge Business Lounge in January this year to provide home-based businesses with a platform to work from, where they can share ideas and experiences, and access much of the support and interaction that working from home can sometimes lack.

“We are delighted that Julian is so keen to meet the diverse businesses who use our facilities and support small businesses in the Cambridge area. We look forward to welcoming him into our growing community”

It is estimated that there are 8,000 self-employed workers in Cambridge, many working from home and home-working has increased by 13 per cent to 46 per cent in the last five years.

Peter Robbins has been running his Artisan Entertainment agency from home for the last year but uses the Cambridge Business Lounge, often for just half a day at a time.

He said: “It gives me everything I want and need from office space – good company, fast internet access, pleasant surroundings and good coffee.”

Vhari Russell runs The Food Marketing Expert helping small retailers to grow and she finds the Cambridge Business Lounge invaluable for holding meetings and meeting other business people.

She said: “Sometimes it can be hard running a business on your own and it’s good to bounce ideas off other people and get a different viewpoint.”

And Len Keenan, who runs enablen3D which looks at how 3D printing can be introduced into primary schools, said: “One of the key things about running a business is that you can’t do it on your own.

“At the Business Lounge it’s like having an office with people in it. You never know who is going to walk through the door and you can make connections with people from all different backgrounds – computer, engineering marketing.”

Julian said: “It is really good news that there are so many successful self-employed workers and that home-working is on the increase. Home-working gives businesses, especially new start-ups, the opportunity to keep costs down and offers great flexibility. I am looking forward to finding out more about these businesses and meeting the people behind them.”

Is Good English Really Important in Business?

A guest post from Kathy Salaman of The Good Grammar Company, who are a Cambridge based company offering training for staff in schools and businesses helping them get to grips with grammar…

When I was working as an English teacher, I received the following memo from the head teacher:

Kathy

Mrs Maloney*, mother of Thomas Maloney*, has requested a meeting following you unfairly depriving his human rights in yesterdays English lesson.  I need definate confirmation that you will be there at 8am so we don’t exasperate the situation.

Peter*

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

dv072022bFirst, I feel I should exonerate myself.  My crime was to ask Thomas to refrain from trying to set light to his shirt (which he was wearing at the time).  I did indeed apologise to his mother for denying her son the right to set fire to himself, and promised that, in future, I would do all in my power to ensure that he should be granted the right to self-combust whenever he disrupted one of my lessons.

But enough teacher whinging!  What horrified me more was the quality of the head’s writing skills.  As a mere teacher, I was supposed to have respect for, and confidence in, our mighty leader; instead I felt embarrassment for the school and began to wonder whether similar communications to parents of prospective students might be the reason for the school’s rapidly decreasing roll.

It isn’t only in teaching that such errors can undermine credibility and authority.  I know from conversations with fellow business owners that spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes on business literature can often be the deciding factor in not using a company’s services, and that finding errors on one’s own corporate literature is something about which many have nightmares.

Some errors are obviously typos and just the result of trying to do too much too quickly, but often errors that appear on company literature are due to misunderstandings or complete unawareness of the rules.

Whether or not we agree with all the rules, there is no doubt that we are judged on our ability use them correctly, and nowhere is the awareness of grammar rules more important than in business.

For many, the problem stems from school.  Unless you were one of the fortunate few who attended expensive fee-paying or grammar schools, the chances are that your experience of grammar teaching was, at best, sparse.

I wasn’t aware of the number of grammatical errors I was making in my writing until I began studying for my degree.  It was with grim determination and a feeling of shame that I made it my mission to learn as much as I could, and that was where my fascination with the English language began.  Today I’m a grammar geek, but I still break a few rules.

It isn’t necessary in business to be an expert linguist, but a confident grasp of the basics will save you from those glaring errors that others will notice.  Once aware of how grammar works, you will quickly realise how ridiculous some of the rules are; understanding how they work will arm you with the means to break those rules effectively rather than unwittingly.

You can follow Kathy on twitter at @GoodGrammarComp

Caption Competition Time!

Ed recently had a day out at Downing Street in aid of the brilliant and inspiring Liam Fairhurst Foundation, and came back with this picture.

We want your captions! Email your best effort to info@cambridgebusinesslounge.com and the winner will receive a free 4 day coworking pass at Cambridge Business Lounge (worth £60).

Entries need to be in by 9am on Tuesday the 23rd of July, and we’ll decide the winner on the day. Good Luck!!

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