Business Q&A with MINDBODY

MINDBODY is a specialist software service provider for the health, wellness and beauty industries, providing client scheduling software to more than 33,000 clients in over 100 countries.

We recently caught up with London Operations Manager, Sarah Counts, to find out what inspired the company, their main business challenges what invaluable advice they would like to pass on…

 SarahCounts_mindbody

Hi Sarah! Tell us a little bit about MINDBODY…

We help business with client scheduling, CRM, database management, marketing, retention, basic revenue and attendance reporting. The MINDBODY software is cloud-based, which means that business owners can access everything they need to manage their business from any web-capable device.

What inspired the creation of MINDBODY?

MINDBODY was created to improve the health and wellness of the world via technology. The web-based product was developed to cure those pain points most frequently felt by business owners and take the more granular aspect of business management off their plates, allowing them to spend more quality time with their clients.

At what point did you decide to move into an office space in London?

MINDBODY was created in the US, but due to rapid growth and an increase in demand from around the globe over the past few years, MINDBODY has experienced exciting international expansion. Opening a London office was a direct result of our business growth in the UK specifically.

What are the benefits to your business of using a serviced office space?

We opened our first office in London in 2011 and encountered the types of aches and pains that any company has opening an office in another country. From our experience of that first office, when we were going through explosive growth of our sales team and needed more space, we looked for a suitable serviced office solution to help make our next move a lot easier. We moved into our new office in July 2013 and having connectivity, security, post delivery and one building POC looked after by someone else really allowed us to do our jobs and not get side-tracked with admin tasks.

What has been the most difficult business obstacle you’ve faced so far?

Rapid growth comes with growing pains – things are always changing, because our company is always growing. But we’ve turned this challenge into a positive for the team  and react to continuous changes by remaining flexible and constantly evolving.

What has been one of the biggest lessons learnt by MINDBODY?

Being in the software industry, we’ve learnt that technology is always changing and evolving. As a result, we’re focused on providing the latest, most cutting-edge software at all times and we’re constantly re-evaluating our products to ensure that they’re forward thinking.

What has been the biggest success to date?

Growing our client base and our advocates around the world.

What’s the best business advice you’ve been given that you’d like to share?

Your clients matter most.  Always focus on their needs, their questions and their feedback!

Are you an entrepreneur with a business story to share? Get in touch with us on TwitterFacebook or Google+. We’d love to hear from you!

Budget planning tips for the new financial year

Budget planning can be tedious – especially if you’re not a fan of spreadsheets and number crunching. However, failure to plan for the year ahead could not only jeopardise the growth of your businesses, but potentially its existence.

The start of the new financial year in April is the perfect time to outline the vision for your business over the next 12 months, as well as the financial structure around that vision, in order to achieve your goals.

Keeping your business on track is dependent on working through a budgeting process – so here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. A typical business planning cycle includes a review of last year’s performance, which means your budget planning should cover a review of last year’s income and expenditure
  2. Once you’ve analysed your opportunities and threats for the coming year, you should look at your key objectives and identify any resource implications for your new budget
  3. Define the new financial year’s profit-and-loss and balance sheet targets
  4. Agree budget with your budget holders and ideally ask for their input to ensure their buy-in
  5. Review your budget regularly – ideally on a monthly basis – by monitoring sales performance figures and actual spending on one hand and adjusting sales and spending forecasts on the other

Main budget items

These are the typical incomes and expenditures that most businesses have to manage.  Balancing the relationship between these is vital to keeping your business buoyant and cash flowing through the new business.

Income:

  • Projected sales – ideally keep these realistic to pessimistic, rather than basing your forecast on optimistic estimates
  • Funding from public sector bodies or investors
  • Any other sources of income

Expenditure:

  • Direct variable costs – e.g. bill of materials, subcontractors’ costs per product or supply of service
  • Fixed costs – overheads such as rent, salaries, staff benefits, utility bills, equipment maintenance costs, marketing, travel and subsistence, legal and professional costs
  • Capital costs – one off expenses, e.g. purchase of equipment

Profit / Loss:

  • Income minus expenditure

If you’re a start-up and/or your company is fairly small, it makes sense to have just one budget for your business. However, if you have several departments, it is better to have separate departmental budgets which can be consolidated into an overall company budget.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Comparing your budget year-on-year is one way of benchmarking your business’ performance. You can also compare your projected income and expenditure against the actual figures. If figures of projected profit margins and growth are available for your sector, then it’s worth using those as a benchmark, especially if certain trends are affecting your industry and inevitably your bottom line.

The main performance indicators are essentially your sales figures, costs and working capital. Keeping an eye on those and your cash flow on a monthly basis will help you spot problems early on so that you can proactively make informed decisions and keep your business profitable.

Congratulations to our first #OurOfficeHero competition winner!

In February, we ran our first ever #OurOfficeHero competition where we asked you to nominate the people who make your office a brilliant place to work.

Thank you so much to everybody that entered the competition via Twitter, it was fantastic to hear about all your colleagues who make your workplace enjoyable.

After much deliberation, we’re delighted to announce that our winner of the #OurOfficeHero competition is…

Toby Saxby from Brighton!

Toby Saxby Our Office Hero

19-year-old Toby is an apprentice accountant at Bainbridge Lewis – he was nominated by company owner Gail Bainbridge because he’s running the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 6th April in aid of children’s charity CLIC Sargent.

As our first #OurOfficeHero, we wanted to get to know Toby a little bit better – what better way to do that than a quick Q&A?

Congratulations Toby! How do you like your iPad 2 prize for being named #OurOfficeHero?

I am loving the iPad 2 – it’s such an awesome piece of tech. It’s been really useful in helping me strike a balance between leisure and work – so thank you!

Is Brighton Marathon your first ever marathon?

Yes it’s my first marathon, but I’ve completed both the Brighton Half Marathon and 10km so far, both with good times. I’m really looking forward to the marathon, just praying for sunshine!

What time are you hoping to achieve?

I’m looking at a competitive 3 hours 30 minutes.

Wow, good luck! How have you been preparing?

I’ve been taking part in 10km races since last August and have been training every week, progressing the distance weekly to get myself in shape for the marathon.

Why did you choose to run for CLIC Sargent?

Many years ago, my brother was diagnosed with Leukaemia and CLIC Sargent both supported him and us as a family throughout his treatment. They really went the extra mile to help us out.

What’s your fundraising target and how much have you raised so far?

My target was £500 but I’ve actually raised £547 to date – so I’ve bumped the target up to £750 prior to the race hoping to get more donations!

We hope you’ll join us in wishing Toby the best of luck for the Brighton Marathon on Sunday! If you’d like to donate to CLIC Sargent – a fantastic charity – and help Toby hit his £750 target, you’ll find his Just Giving page here: www.justgiving.com/toby-Saxby

7 tips for expanding your business

Once established, many start-up owners begin thinking about how to grow their business, but it’s hard work and the UK is still operating under difficult business conditions.

According to UKBI, a professional association for start-ups, only 30% of small and medium-sized companies registered survive for longer than five years.

So, how do small businesses not only survive, but thrive in these tough economic times?

Plan, plan, plan

Some entrepreneurs either don’t like planning, or don’t feel that they’re able to spare the time for it. Following your gut instinct and making ad hoc decisions might have been enough to turn a new business idea into a start-up, but growing a new enterprise into a sustainable business requires a lot more thought.

Developing a business plan should ideally be the first thing you do before starting a company. This plan should be a work-in-progress document that gets revised on a regular basis – at least once a year. Your business plan will not only act as a guide and provide your staff with a common understanding of your goals, objectives, tactics and resources, but it will also act as a benchmark. What’s more, if you’re planning on getting a bank loan, government funding or venture capital, you’ll definitely need a business plan.

Look for passion when you’re hiring

When you’re hiring staff, it’s hugely important to look for the right personality – not just skills and education. Passionate people who believe in your mission and in you as a leader will help you grow your company.

Get the right systems in place

Lots of businesses worry about “worst case scenario” planning for when they don’t have enough customers to sustain business. Intelligent businesses also consider “best case scenario” and plan systems and logistics to cope with a sudden spike in activity that not only meets demand, but protects the quality of their products and services. In short, ensure you consider all eventualities.

Location is key

If you’re running a ‘bricks and mortar’ business that relies on footfall, then location will probably be one of the most important factors in your success or failure.

If you’re currently based in a co-working space or business incubator centre and are planning on expanding, then choosing a serviced office space is probably the best option as it means that your office can ‘grow’ with you. Here at Flexioffices, we have thousands of office spaces in our online database which is searchable by a variety of factors including location, street, town, postcode, public transport and country.

Watch your cash flow

If you don’t come from a financial or accountancy background, ensuring you protect your cash flow is easily overlooked. Knowing when money is flowing in and out of your business is crucial. Business success doesn’t just depend on having future orders balanced against your business costs, but on actually being able to pay your monthly bills. You may well have a huge order dropping into the next calendar quarter, but if you can’t pay your team’s wages to supply the work booked in, your business may not survive in the interim.

Listen to your customers

Consumer behaviour can change over time and can follow certain trends that might affect your business or industry.

Talking to your potential customers to find out what their actual needs are, what motivates them to buy from you and what they think about your competition is something that you should be doing on an ongoing basis. There are many ways to tap into what your customers think; exit surveys on your website, opinion polls on your social media channels, questionnaires sent out with your order confirmation emails or focus groups with loyal customers.  Each of these can be executed for free in most cases and will garner you valuable insight about the people who buy your products.

Invest in research and development

Research and development – whether that’s market research or development of new service or products – is crucial if you want to stay ahead of your competition.  To encourage business innovation, the UK government has introduced incentives for companies that invest in research and development. Your expenses that are associated with this activity are weighted heavier than other expenses when your taxable profit is calculated. For each £100 of qualifying costs, your company could have its Corporation Tax profits reduced by an additional £125 on top of the £100 spent.

Our fab Fruitdrop fruit delivery!

As a company, we’ve recently been trying to think of ways we can improve the office environment for our employees. As a young team of keen gym members and sport enthusiasts, the traditional office treats of cakes and beers on a Friday afternoon have never really been received with a great deal of enthusiasm. When we were offered a Fruitdrop trial, we thought it would be ideal for us!

Fruitdrop fruit delivery

So on a Monday morning, instead of a guilt-ridden bacon sandwich to recover from the weekend with, we now have a box of fruit.  There’s been a definite shift in attitude in the office, with everyone eagerly awaiting our delivery and – when it arrives – it goes down well. Too well in fact, we don’t have enough! You can’t just take one piece; you have to take at least two because it looks so appealing. That and the fact that you have to get in there quick because everyone’s on it straight away!

Having the fruit to hand has meant that people have rediscovered their love for it and it’s encouraged them to eat it more. It’s had a great effect on the office as a whole too – more energy and enthusiasm from the team (something rather lacking before on a Monday morning) and learning to work together as a team… to share the last few grapes out!

Having the fruit delivered regularly means the team know that we’re doing something positive for them. It’s something they can look forward to and enjoy guilt-free.

“Fruitdrop has been a revelation! It has certainly had a positive effect on myself and also the rest of the team. I think just knowing that you’re putting something healthy in your body makes you feel good, rather than chomping on biscuits all day! Regular fruit deliveries will definitely have a positive effect on the whole office in my opinion.”  Nick Price, Business Account Manager.

“Young professionals in the office want a healthy snack and you don’t get much better for you than some quality fruit.”  Oliver Quigley, Sales Director.

“We’re all going bananas for the fresh fruit!”  Natalie Cooper, Business Account Manager.

“It’s great to have something healthy in the office to help with training – especially with summer approaching.”  Jimmie Brennan, New Business Account Manager.

Getting ready for the end of the tax year

With the new financial year just around the corner, here is some advice on the processes, deadlines and changes in the wonderful and complex world of tax.

Tax Return Images Of Money

Image by Images Of Money

The basics

Each tax year starts on 6th April and runs until 5th April the following year. As an employer, if you operate Pay As You Earn system (PAYE), you will need to complete the following tasks:

  • Submit your final Full Payment (FPS)
  • Submit Employer Payment summary (EPS)
  • Provide a P60 (paper or electronic) to each employee on the payroll who was working for you on the last day of the tax year by no later than 31st May

All of this information is used by HM Revenue & Customs to make sure that the right amount of income tax and National Insurance contributions have been paid as well as to calculate entitlements to state benefits, tax credits and pensions.

Here is a useful ‘step-by step’ flow chart and an ‘at-a glance’ guide produced by HMRC.

Income tax changes

The current government has introduced a few changes to the income tax. The basic personal allowance for 2013/2014 is £9,440, which is due to increase to £10,000 in 2014/15.

Many small business owners pay themselves a small salary which is close to this allowance and then draw dividends from the company, which allows them to save some money. However, if you’re on a higher income, you will be liable to additional tax.

Here is a quick overview of this year’s and next year’s income tax rates for each taxable band:

Rate 2013-14 2014-15
Starting rate for savings: 10%* £0 – £2,790 £0 – £2,880
Basic rate: 20% £0 – £32,010 £0 – £31,865
Higher rate: 40% £32,011 – £150,000 £31,866 – £150,000
Additional rate: 50% N/A N/A
Additional rate: 45% from 6 April 2013 Over £150,000 Over £150,000

 Tax relief and allowances

Whether you are new to the world of tax or have some experience already from running your own business, it might be worth hiring a tax advisor who can make suggestions about how to legitimately save money off your tax bill without being branded a tax dodger. Some of these options include using tax-efficient investments or making use of married couples’ allowances, tax reliefs, pension contributions and other exemptions.

Generally speaking, in order to maximise the use of your individual tax allowances, reliefs and exemptions for each tax year, you should start your tax planning at the beginning of the tax year otherwise you risk losing out.

Take the #LiveYourLunchBreak challenge with Flexioffices!

Do you make the effort to take a 30-60 minute lunch break most days? If so, what do you do during this time to unwind, let off steam or pass the time?

Surveys have suggested that as few as 30% of UK employees regularly take a lunch break, while more than a third of workers feel pressured to work through their lunch breaks[1]. In fact, according to health provider BUPA, “UK companies are losing close to £50million a day in lost productivity as workers fail to take a lunch break”[2].

As experts in helping businesses find their perfect office space, here at Flexioffices we understand and promote the importance of ensuring that your workplace is a healthy and productive one.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be working with wellbeing, lifestyle, culture and food bloggers who live and work in London to launch the Flexioffices campaign to take back the lunch break – whether it’s 30 minutes or a full hour – as time to socialise, revitalise and relax ready for the afternoon!

Take the #LiveYourLunchBreak challenge!

Are you ready to take the #LiveYourLunchBreak challenge? We’re asking you and your colleagues to spend one week during the next month ensuring that you take a break of at least 30 minutes every day doing something you enjoy.

To help you discover new things to see and do, we’ll be sharing advice from our city-wise bloggers about the best places to eat, meet, entertain yourself or simply enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet.

When your week is up, let us know how taking this dedicated time out in the middle of the day has contributed to your mood, given you more energy or made you feel more productive!

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ using the hashtag #LiveYourLunchBreak – let’s reclaim the lunch break together!

 —

[1] Source: Guardian Work Blog

[2] Source: BUPA

Finding your perfect first office space

How do you go about researching, finding and choosing your first ever office when you’re a small start-up with a limited budget?

Many famous companies have started in their founder’s bedrooms or garages – Google, Apple, Amazon, Disney, Mattel, HP (to name just a few) have all been there. However, it’s only a matter of time before your spare bedroom, living room corner or garage can make you feel a bit claustrophobic. You start stumbling over your children’s or pets’ toys, you get distracted by domestic chores and you can hear kids screaming in the background when you’re on the phone to a client.

This is about the time you realise that you probably need to move to a proper office space! Here are some helpful hints around what to look out for when you’re researching your options to make sure you find the space that will help grow your business.

1. Virtual office spaces and business incubators

Every penny counts when you’re setting up a business – especially when you don’t have a steady income yet. Therefore, at the beginning, it’s worth considering either a virtual office or business incubation centre. These spaces are usually shared with other start-ups and make a great temporary solution as you make the transition from your bedroom to your own office space.

The benefit of being part of a business incubation centre that’s subsidised by the government or EU is not only that your rental costs are low, but you can exchange ideas with other entrepreneurs who are equally as excited about starting up their own businesses.

According to UKBI – a professional association for start-ups – 98% of companies based in business incubators succeed while they’re based there, with 87% surviving after five years. These are incredibly compelling statistics alone, but even more so when compared with the national average success rate of less than 30% for all small and medium-sized companies registered.

However, while these are a brilliant jumping up point, the time will come when you’ll have to move on from these types of shared office spaces – either because you’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement with a big new client and can’t afford to have people looking over your shoulder, or they need to make room for the next wave of new start-ups.

2. Location

When moving to your first office, it’s ideal if you can keep close to home which will reduce your daily commuting time and allow you maximum time to wind down in the evening. Alternatively, it may be better for you to be based somewhere central which will make your company more appealing and accessible to collaborators, new staff members and potential clients.

If you haven’t come across Flexioffices’ search feature (which you’ll find on our homepage) that’s a great place to start – you can search by town, postcode, street, station, airport and country. The Flexioffices team will also be more than happy to set up viewings and send you quotations.

3. Serviced offices vs. conventional offices

Serviced offices are the best option for most start-ups as they offer an instant physical office space which includes furniture, utility bills, broadband and receptionists. You don’t need to pick up a paint brush, drill holes or renovate a building before you can move in. An added benefit of serviced office space is that it’s easier to upgrade to a bigger space during your expansion phase.

Conventional office spaces are better suited to established companies that have the money and resources to add that personal touch to the interior of their office. For inspiration and information about the latest interior design trends, take a look at this blog post by the team at Paramount Interiors – you might decide to set up an “office jungle” with lots of green plants to counteract high stress levels in your team, or create a play corner with table tennis or basketball net for staff to let of steam in their lunch break. When the space is your own, the ideas are only limited to your own imagination!

Competition time! Nominate your office hero to win an iPad 2 #OurOfficeHero

Is there are particular person who makes always Monday mornings bearable? Maybe there’s a member of your team that’s absolutely brilliant at boosting staff morale? Perhaps one of your employees is taking on an amazing challenge for charity?

If this sounds like someone in your workplace, nominate them to be named the ‘Flexioffices Office Hero’ today! Here at Flexioffices, we want to celebrate the best bits of the working day and everyone who makes your office a fantastic place to work.

To nominate someone who brings something special to your daily grind, simply tweet us at @Flexioffices with the hashtag #OurOfficeHero – preferably along with a photo of your nominee – and we’ll select the most stand-out nomination to win an iPad 2!

You’ve got until the end of the month – Friday 28th February – to nominate your office hero and we’ll announce the winner on Monday 3rd March. Get nominating now!

Tweet us using the hashtag #OurOfficeHero now!

Terms & Conditions

Entrants must be aged 18 or over and be a resident of the UK. Entry is open to all UK residents except employees (and their families) of Flexioffices, its agents, suppliers and any other companies associated with the competitions. Flexioffices accepts no responsibility for entries lost, delayed or corrupted in transit. Flexioffices reserves the right to amend or alter the terms of the competition at any time. Reasonable efforts will be made to contact the winner. If the winner cannot be contacted or are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, Flexioffices reserves the right to offer the prize to another entrant. The prize is as stated, is not transferable to another individual and no cash or alternatives will be offered. In the event of a discrepancy between the standard terms and conditions and the details of the promotional material (or any other terms and conditions provided/referred to at the time of entry), the details of the promotional material (and any other terms and conditions provided/referred to at the time of entry) shall prevail. The winner agrees with the use of their name and submitted photograph for marketing purposes and will co-operate with any other reasonable requests made by Flexioffices relating to any post-competition publicity. Entries featuring imagery and content that Flexioffices deems offensive, inappropriate or unsuitable will be disqualified. Flexioffices’ will select the winner of the competition on Monday 3rd March 2014 and their decision is final. Competition closes at 5pm on Friday 28th February 2014.

Business Q&A with EnVirtual

Here at Flexioffices, we’ve helped small start-ups as well as major brands find the most suitable office space for them. We recently had a chat to Andrew Mendoza, co-founder of EnVirtual and one of Flexioffices’ clients, about his business, his inspiration and his tips for success.

Andrew Mendoza

Andrew Mendoza, co-founder of EnVirtual

Andrew studied the classics – Latin and Greek – and just a quarter of a century ago would never have thought that in 25 years’ time he would be working on a tech start-up. Especially when he started his career in blue chip corporate strategy consulting. Andrew is now a board member of several businesses within the digital content and technology sector.

Hi Andrew! Tell us a little bit about you and your business…

EnVirtual – which was founded in 2013 – is a UK-based technology company focused exclusively on cloud technologies and software-as-a-service for industry-specific enterprise software. All six co-founders have extensive experience in information technology, software engineering and cloud computing within blue chip companies in a variety of sectors and their combined industry experience spans over 150 years.

What inspired you to start your own business?

A huge wave of change within the technology sector. Many companies needed lots of help to take their software programmes to the next level – whether that was moving to the cloud or developing a new software programme. It’s a really exciting time for us and we are pleased that we are able to help establish the UK as a technology centre and London as a hub for skilled and credible software providers.

At what point did you decide that it was time to move into an office space?

For the first two months, we were borrowing office space and using coffee bars for meetings, right up until we landed a contract with a major client. That’s when we decided to contact Flexioffices to help us find a central office location in London that would be convenient to travel to for our clients based up North and our founders based in the South.

What are the benefits to your business of using serviced office space?

The flexibility and hassle-free nature of serviced office space is the main benefit for us. It has meeting rooms, a receptionist, and we don’t have to worry about utility bills etc. When we wanted a new round meeting table, we got one. When we asked for blinds, we got some.

What has been the most difficult obstacle you have faced so far?

We’re a fast-growing company and are finding it hard to recruit good people quickly enough. We are currently recruiting for technical architects, developers and project managers. We are building a team of software engineers, testers, release managers and experienced service managers, so if you’re interested or know of anyone who fits the bill please do get in touch!

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your business?

Getting started rather than just talking about it is the biggest lesson learnt.

What has been your biggest success to date?

We landed a very large global company as our first client. They were frustrated with their then current supplier and we were in the right place at the right time.

What’s the best business advice you’ve been given that you’d like to share?

Keep an eye on your cash flow and cash flow projections!

Are you an entrepreneur with a business story to share? Get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. We’d love to hear from you!