Starling is committed to radically transforming banking for small and medium enterprises. This involves us launching new products and services to support small businesses. But it also involves sharing knowledge. Here, we’ve asked our business customers to share what they’ve learned about managing their money.

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Focus on the people and the product

When you start a business, you can be so excited to tell everyone, that you end up putting more energy into your business card than your actual business.

It’s an easy trap to fall into and one that Starling business customer Stuart Lennon advises against: “Lots of startups rush out to build websites, print business cards, do all sorts of things to make themselves feel like a business. Don’t. Go get a client, or sell a product. That’s what counts.”

Stuart started his first business, Lime Consultancy, in 2003. In 2017, he bought a second business, Nero’s Notes, through which he sells notebooks and stationary. He uses Starling for both businesses.

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Don’t bury your head in the sand

Being your own boss can bring freedom and fulfilment to your working life. But it will also bring you Profit and Loss sheets, tax returns and bank statements - paperwork that you can’t shy away from.

“The reality is no-one will care more about the finances of your company than you,” says entrepreneur and public speaker Alex Merry. “Spend an hour each month accounting for every penny that leaves your account. Try not to bury your head in the sand or delegate the responsibility to somebody else.”

The good news is there are plenty of digital tools to make your life simpler. For example, with Starling’s business account you can easily access the online accounting software providers FreeAgent and Xero, through the Marketplace in your Starling app.

Alex Merry, entrepreneur and public speaker

Of course, depending on the size of your business, you may have employed someone to take care of your accounts, but as Alex says, it’s still important that you take an active interest in the financial side of your business. For Starling business customers, tracking income and outgoings is made easier by instant notifications and Spending Insights, a feature that categorises transactions automatically.

Ollie Edwards, founder of breakfast delivery service Epic Breakfast, takes photographs of every receipt and uploads them into the Starling app so that he has a digital record of everything for HMRC. “At the end of every month I process the photographs on the computer, as well as all ins & outs. I then keep tabs with my Profit & Loss tracker.

Ollie Edwards, founder of Epic Breakfast
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Move money into separate Goals

Helen Priest, who sells her handmade bags through Etsy, organises funds into separate Goals in the Starling app to help her save money for specific objectives.

Starling business customer Helen Priest sells handmade bags and stickers through Etsy

“With Starling, I’ve been able to set up Goals and allocate the money to different things - paying tax, buying new stock, paying for running costs, insurance and another one that is profit. By doing this it means I can see exactly what money I’ve got for what things and I will be ready once my tax bill comes!”

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Delegate to save time and money

When you’re self-employed, time is money. If there’s a time-consuming task you can outsource, it may be cheaper to pay someone else to do it.

Dot McCarthy, farmer, sheepdog trainer and owner of Cronkshaw Fold Farm

Dot McCarthy, who runs Cronkshaw Fold Farm, says: “Work out the cost of your time per hour per day over the year. If you’re doing tasks you could hire someone to do for you, bear in mind that it may well be cheaper than you doing it - and it will free you up to focus on other areas of the business. Delegate as much as possible and try not to be a perfectionist.”

Dot’s final word of advice: “Done is better than perfect.”

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