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To G Suite or not to G Suite, that is the question.

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Formally known as Google Apps, G Suite is part of Googles cloud based offerings for businesses. We are all familiar with Googles basic yet powerful free tools such as Google Drive or Google Docs and a lot of us use them extensively in our business lives, especially in smaller businesses where buying expensive software isn’t in the budget.

Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations together with colleagues no matter where you at the same time. Whether you are a small business such as Reid Brothers – Stainless Steel Banding or a personal blogger with big admissions, G Suite is there for you to take advantage of its collaborative, cloud based software.

Why G Suite?

Googles free tools are fantastic as they allow you to work seamlessly across different platforms like Docs and Sheets which are basically Googles versions of Word and Excel. These programmes allow several users to access the document at the same time. Not only that but edits can be viewed in real time as they happen and notes can be left between the users to share ideas or suggestions. Thanks to G Suite being a cloud based system, you can comment on a document, while it’s being written in Japan, while you are in London.

Hangouts

We have also been given free access to Google hangouts which gives us the ability to video conference with up to 10 colleagues across the world. Not to mention Google Drive which is perfect for sharing and storing up to 15GB of data. Both of these free Google services have previously been very expensive from other providers.

For a lot of small businesses these free tools are all that are needed. Many businesses will create one business account and share the login details with everyone in the office. Some businesses ask their employees to create a personal, work Gmail account and grant them access to the various documents. Whichever way people decide to set up and use their accounts, it’s clear that Google has delivered some of the best free cloud based software available. Thanks Google.

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Cost

G Suite has all the same advantages as the free tools like Docs, Sheets, Drive and Forms with one main difference, it’s not free. Now before you catapult your cup of coffee across the room, it’s not as bad as you would think. There are three tiers, $5 Basic, $10 Business, $25 Enterprise and as you would imagine, as the price increases the amount of features increase too. In a nut shell, you get more control and less restrictions over your G Suite than you do with Googles free tools.

Storage & Collaboration

You get more storage space, 30GB for the basic package and unlimited for the other two. You also receive more advanced actions like smart search across the Suite and higher security control like data loss prevention. Being able to add multiple users to the account also allows for simple organisation and limitless collaboration. G Suite is also available on mobile so no matter where you are, as long as you have your smart phone you can retrieve and present the information you need in a matter of moments. If you are already fairly dependant on Googles free tools, it’s worth looking at the details of each tier to understand which package would best meet your specific needs.

G Suite Benefits

The main reason people choose to purchase G Suite over continuing to use what’s free, is that it brings your Google tools up to a professional level. Having more control over the business data and the users that have access to it. The most practical advantage of G Suite is that it gives you access to a business email. So instead of having a yourbusiness@gmail.com email address, you receive a @yourbusiness.com email address.

This not only gives your business emails a more professional look, but having a dedicated business email address also helps build trust with your stakeholders. A quick search for email hosting will give you an idea of the different prices available from other vendors. 123Reg for example offers you 1 email address with 25GB of storage for £6.99 + VAT and that’s all you get. If you compare that to the Basic G Suite package at $5, even if you all you needed was a business email account, it is still better value for money.

You get all the great cloud based tools with 30GB of storage and it’s from google, which is probably the most trusted source around. G Suite is fantastic value in comparison its competition.

It really comes down what you need and what your business needs. For a lot of people, continuing to use Googles free tools is the way to go.  After all, for a free service it’s brilliant. If you don’t need a lot of storage or a business email, it also may be pretty hard to justify spending any amount of money on added benefits you wouldn’t use. However, for those businesses looking to up there game, G Suite may just be the best option.

6 pieces of tax advice for every small business

Whether you’re just starting out or are well established in business it’s vitally important that you seek good tax advice – without it you could literally be giving money away. While there’s no replacement for a qualified accountant, there are some pieces of advice that apply to all small businesses.

Have a look through our 6 pieces of tax advice and see if there are any areas you could be working more tax efficiently…

  1. Explore flat rate VAT

VAT is VAT right? If this is your assumption – you’re wrong – and you could be missing out on a healthy size chunk of profit.

A flat rate of tax applies when you choose to pay VAT annually on your turnover – rather than individual transactions. A flat rate also means that the rate you pay is based on your industry, for example:

  • Advertising – 11%
  • Computer repair services – 10.5%
  • Printing – 8.5%
  • Labour-only building services – 14.5%
  • Security – 12%
  • Transport (including taxis and removals) – 10%

…and that is to name just few.

So, VAT is charged at 20% – but if you choose to pay that one-off flat rate then you’ll be paying a reduced amount to HMRC – with the remainder retained by your business. And if that isn’t good news enough, HMRC even give you an additional 1% discount for your first year of operating that way. Well worth looking into in more detail.

  1. Work from home?

If you’re a sole trader or small self-employed business it’s easy to settle for the most basic tax perks of working from home – HMRC offer a fairly small £2 per week allowance if your home is your business base. However, there’s much more available if you do a little homework.

As an example, let’s say you have a house with 5 rooms, if you use one of these as an office then effectively 1/5th of your household costs can be attributed to the business – so if your electricity bill £500 then there’s £100 worth of electricity that is being used to power your work if you’re there full time.

There’s a sliding scale too, so even if you just work one day from then there’s still a proportion that can be claimed. And it’s not just energy bills, you can claim against a proportion of the following:

  • Heating
  • Electricity
  • Council Tax
  • Mortgage interest or rent
  • Internet and home telephone use

It can be tempted to just keep things simple and claim the most basic amount – but remember this is likely to be far less than it actually costs to run your business from home, so calculate what you’re entitled to with a ‘Use of Home’ claim.

  1. Staff perks can be tax perks

Perks for staff might sound like something that’s going to impact your bottom line – but in actual fact, used smartly there are perks that can save your business money at the same time as keeping employees smiling!

  • Car leasing – Have you considered offering a salary sacrifice car leasing scheme? There are lots of companies who’ll walk you through the kind of services they provide and explain the benefits in details. You’ll instantly do away with those ‘car won’t start’ excuses for days off too!
  • Ride your bike to work – There are a variety of Cycle to Work style schemes – staff can save a huge amount on buying a new bike, have a small monthly sum taken from their wage for doing so and your company receives a tax incentive for promoting green travel methods.
  • Child care – Providing tax free childcare vouchers can be a huge benefit to employees with families – especially considering the lofty prices of professional nurseries and child-minding providers.

And that’s not all – there are various salary sacrifice schemes available for businesses of all sizes, cutting your tax bill and giving excellent incentives that could help you recruit and retain excellent staff.

  1. How are you paid?

If you’re smart with how you take money from your business you can make some really big dents in your tax bill. The goalposts can move on what’s going to be best for you, so discussing options with your accountant is important – but some things to think about might be your level of salary, how much is drawn as dividends and anything that can be considered a ‘benefit in kind’.

Generally speaking the most common benefit in kind is the use of a company car – usually a positive step for someone self-employed – however, do make sure that HMRC are made aware, even delaying notifying them by a couple of months can mean a chunky tax bill.

The guidelines on how company directors are paid look set to change – so an on-going dialogue with your accountant is important. Which takes us neatly to…

  1. Talk to your accountant

We’re in an age that makes finding a ‘tick-box’ accountant really easy… That’s to say, every company needs an accountant – and many decision makers feel like having one onboard is just a formality – when, in reality a business-accountant relationship should be much more than that.

If you’re not talking to your accountant on a regular basis you’re missing out on what you’re paying for! An accountant isn’t just someone who’s there to keep track of the business money, in actual fact, proper financial advice is worth far more than the advanced admin skills that many are used for.

There’s no tangible amount of percentage of tax benefit that talking to your accountant will return, but if there’s one thing you can be certain of – it’s that they know more about tax than you do – so talking to them should be done as frequently as is practical!

  1. Keep organised!

Again, we’re finishing up with a non-specific piece of advice – but one that has the potential to save you a fortune in unnecessary tax. Keep your receipts and expenses in an organised manner! That means different things to different people – but the more detailed you are – the more efficiently you and your accountant can work together.

Can you face keeping a spreadsheet with all your business expenses? Can you just manage to keep all your receipts in one folder?

If you’re feeling really lazy, consider having a company credit card that you only use for expenses – pay it off at the end of every month and your statement suddenly becomes a very neat and organised list of your expenses – all kindly provided, printed and sent by your card company!