Your January newsletter from Cool Ventures
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Cool Ventures January 2014 Newsletter

“Perfection is achieved, not when you have nothing left to add, but nothing left to take away”.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Customer Profile
Fast Track Access to Finance Growth Accelerator
Start-up Loans for over 30s
RTI Extension
Relaxation in CIC Rules
TUPE Reforms
Bring your own Device (BYOD) regulations
Tips on Business Loan Applications
Self employment and Pensions

Customer Profile
Talk-IT - IT training and consultancy

Cool Ventures coach Roger Wilkins has been working with David Ringsell, the founder of Talk-IT to help David grow from being a freelance IT trainer to having a sustainable, scalable training business, leveraging new technology to transform the way people acquire new IT skills.

David has been helping people to work with computers for many years throughout the UK and says " I first started programming at school in the computer Stone Age, when you had to save programs on paper tape punched with holes".  David went on to study Computer Science at University and worked on mainframe computer operating systems, including a European Union project in Luxembourg.

From there he moved to education, before becoming a freelance trainer, training software developers.  He worked with many companies, particularly when they were starting a project or using a new technology and now aims to support developers in becoming more productive and companies to getting the most out of their investment in IT. TalkIT is based in Bath and, in addition to delivering training in the traditional classroom style, provides online tutorials, so people looking to acquire new IT skills can learn when & where they want.  Many of David's users are based overseas in places as far afield as India and South Africa.
For those keen to learn how to programme David tells us "New technology can be very confusing at first. My advice is to learn the theory and then do the practical. First gain an understanding of some of the principles, purpose and limits of a new technology. Next, start to build an application using the technology.
Many developers start to build something, and may even get it to work, without really knowing what exactly they are doing, or why. That is why having a good understanding is important. With software development, theory and practice go hand in hand.
For the practical bit, it is fine to start by just copying small bits of code. Alternatively learn by following step-by-step written instructions. But then try, by yourself, building a program from scratch. That is when you really get a sense of achievement."

David's goal of building a business that can deliver income over and over again from the same piece of work by providing a platform for people to access and, more importantly, pay for his valuable training materials online, is getting ever closer as he develops more online training modules and introduces new, leading edge technology training topics.

Roger says 'In the year or so I have been working with David I have seen him develop his business from giving away content on his website in the hope of receiving donations, to having a brand new website capturing over 1000 names and email addresses in its first three weeks - disproving the advice of his original web developer who was adamant that asking for contact details would drive users away'.  The next step is launching his new, more advanced, courses behind a paywall and to generating income from all the hard work he has done so far.

Growth Accelerator launch Fast Track Workshops in the South West

If you are an ambitious business looking to raise finance to grow, you may be interested in a new way to access the Access to Finance Growth Accelerator programme.  Customer feedback indicates that the masterclasses are a great way of developing new businesses ideas as in addition to the input from their coach, they get to meet other people in the same situation as themselves and learn a lot from each other.  The new Fast Track Workshops are designed especially for the smaller start-up or early stage business. As approved Growth Accelerator Access to Finance coaches, Cool Ventures has been asked to take part in the pilot for this new scheme.  If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about these workshops, call us on 01225 580850 or email for more information.  Don't delay - the first series of workshops starts on the 17th February!

Entrepreneurs of all ages can now apply for more than £150 million worth of government funding.

The Start Up Loans scheme has now been extended, with the application process available to entrepreneurs aged 18 and over. Loans had previously only been on offer to those aged between 18 and 30.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “Last year there were a record number of start ups in the UK, supporting our efforts to make this the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

“The Start Up Loans scheme continues to thrive, with 8,000 loans worth £45 million already advanced.”

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving more information on the STart-up loans scheme, why not drop us an email at or call us on 01225 580850.

RTI extension for micro employers
Micro employers - those with fewer than 10 employees - will be given until April 2016 to adapt to the real time information (RTI) system for reporting PAYE payments, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced.

Employers  who need more time to adapt to RTI can continue reporting PAYE information on or before the last payday in the tax month until April 2016.

Under RTI, employers must send employee PAYE information to HMRC in real time, rather than at the year-end.

A separate extension allows companies with fewer than 50 employees to continue reporting PAYE information by the date of their regular payroll run but no later than the end of the tax month in which the payments are made until April 2014. The new extension for micro-businesses is separate to this arrangement.

HMRC's director-general for personal tax, Ruth Owen, said:

"This package strikes a good balance by ensuring RTI improves PAYE processes while minimising the impact on micro-businesses and their agents by giving them up to two years to adapt."

CIC rules to be relaxed in order to encourage investment

Rules restricting the amount that Community Interest Companies (CICs) can pay their shareholders will be relaxed in 2014, in order to encourage investment and growth. Following a four-month consultation, the CIC Regulator has decided to increase the maximum rate for performance-related interest from 10% to 20% and remove the dividend cap, although the maximum aggregate dividend cap will remain at 35%. Stephen Lloyd, Partner at law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, has welcomed the changes. He said: "A CIC needs to be both social and an enterprise. The current restrictions were too focused on the social mission and not enough on making it a successful enterprise. To be a successful enterprise you have to be able to get access to finance."

Read more about the changes at: 

TUPE reforms confirmed for January 2014

Changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) will come into force on 31st January 2014. The changes will allow firms to renegotiate a collective agreement one year after transfer (provided that overall, the change is no less favourable to the employee). Firms with ten or fewer employees will also be able to inform and consult directly with employees. The Government has also clarified that for TUPE to apply, the activities carried out after service provision changes must be "fundamentally or essentially the same" as those carried out before them, which is the approach set out in case law.

Read more about the changes at:

Information Commissioner's Office issues BYOD reminder

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued a reminder to firms that they risk breaching data protection laws if they do not have clear guidelines for staff using their own devices to store work-related personal information. The ICO has published a guide for employers on developing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Recommendations in the guide include ensuring devices are encrypted and password protected; making sure data is only transferred via approved secure channels; registering devices with a remote 'locate and wipe facility' in case of loss or theft; and introducing clear 'end of contract' procedures and 'acceptable use' policies.

There is more about the guide at:

Tips for a successful business loan application

Over half of all first-time business loan applicants are turned down. Affordable finance is vital for small businesses, but business owners often find it difficult to get the funding they need.

Banks say they are willing to lend, but anecdotal evidence sometimes indicates the opposite. If you are making a business loan application, how can you maximise your chances ?

1. Write your plan

Your business plan is the cornerstone of your business loan application. It is important that this document is watertight – but it is vital that you pay particular attention to your financial forecasts. These sections will be drilled into in great detail, and it is important that your numbers add up. You might consider having your financials looked over by an accountant or an adviser, who may identify areas that need improvement.

2. Check your personal credit history

Especially if your business is a start-up, you and your partners will be subject to as much investigation as the business itself. You need to pay particular attention to your personal credit history, as this is likely to form a fundamental part of your application. Request your credit report from the major reference agencies, and make sure that there is nothing there that shouldn't be. Make sure all your bills are paid on time as if the decision is borderline a single late payment could end up with your application being turned down.

3. Make sure you ask for enough

It is common for entrepreneurs to try to do everything for nothing. You will want to borrow as little as you can, on the assumption that the bank is more likely to say yes to a smaller request. This is not, however, necessarily true. The bank will want to know that you are able to meet your repayments, but also that you have enough cash to keep the business (and you) afloat.  They don't want you coming back in a couple of months asking for more! Be realistic about how much cash you need in order to ensure that your business is able to pay the bills when they fall due.

4. Make it personal

If possible, meet with someone at the bank you are applying to in person. Most banks provide relationship managers for business owners and, although decisions are still normally made centrally, going through one of these individuals may help your application as they can lobby on your behalf. Real people may be more sympathetic to your application than a computer algorithm, so maintain personal contact as much as possible.

5. Consider alternatives

Finally, it is important to remember that bank loans are not the only places where you can raise money. You might want  to consider alternative sources of finance such as the government’s Start-Up Loans scheme, loans from friends and family, equity investment or invoice finance.

We can help you choose the right finance option for you, call us on 01225 580850 for more information or email

Self employed may lose out on state pension

Increasing numbers of self-employed people in the UK may not qualify for a full state pension when they retire, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has warned. ACCA has stated that self-employed people who reached state pension age on or after 6th April 2010 will need to have 30 years of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to be eligible for the full basic state pension. Proposed changes to the state pension could increase this to 35 years for those reaching state pension age from April 2016. Other groups that may not qualify for the full state pension include self-employed people who do not have to pay Class 2 NICs, because they have been issued a CA6812 Small Earnings Exception certificate or are living abroad. Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA Head of Taxation, advised anyone falling into these categories to contact HMRC to request a NICs statement.

Read more about the warning from ACCA at:

Cool Ventures girl with lightbulb

Future Events

5th February
Starting in Business
10am, Midsomer Norton

10th February
An Introduction to Business
6pm, Emerson's Green

11th February
Business Advice sessions
various times, Bath

14th February
Start-up Business Advice Sessions
Various times, Bath

20th February and 6th March
Developing a Growth Strategy and Business Planning

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