James Mead by James Mead

Week 535

This was a short week, because of the Good Friday bank holiday.

Business development

Predictably we spent the majority of the week continuing with business development. I think we all find this pretty tough, mainly because it’s often hard to feel like you’re making concrete progress.

We’ve been shortlisted (yay!) for a Digital Outcomes & Specialists (DO&S) opportunity at a government department and we met up with our co-applicants on Monday to walk through the planned presentation. The presentation went ahead at the client site on Wednesday and hopefully we’ll hear whether we’ve been selected in the not too distant future. Special thanks go to Ben and Chris L, as well as our collaborators, for all the hard work they put in on the proposal and presentation.

In the meantime, we’ve continued to apply for other opportunities on the DO&S framework and we hope to get listed as a supplier on the next version of G-Cloud.

As Chris R mentioned last week, we’re applying for funding from Innovate UK funding, specifically their Smart Grants funding round. This is a bit of a departure for us, because the way the funding works is that we would claim a percentage of our costs, but make up the shortfall ourselves. Thus we’d effectively be making an investment in the project. Chris L and our business partner, Andrew, have done most of the leg-work on this (thanks, both!), and the rest of us pitched in with some financial calculations at the end of the week.

Virtual assistant

As we mentioned back in week 511, Liz has been taking care of a lot of our company admin and this has been working really well - thanks, Liz! With her help, we’ve been gradually refining the written instructions for the various Harmonia tasks which I think is really useful.

This week we setup a new Harmonia team just for Liz and moved over those tasks that make sense for her to do. This avoids a needless dance where we had to ask Liz to volunteer for some tasks incorrectly assigned to us and where Liz had to ask us to volunteer for tasks incorrectly assigned to her. It seems to be working well so far!

Salary vs dividend

We’ve got into the habit of reviewing how we pay ourselves at the beginning of every tax year and we’ve built a spreadsheet to help us do this. Part of that process is to work out the split between salary and dividend. For quite some time, we’ve been keen to switch to paying ourselves entirely via salary, but haven’t yet managed to bite the bullet.

A couple of things have further encouraged us in this direction. One is that R&D tax relief can’t be claimed against dividends, because they’re not an employment cost, whereas they can be claimed against salary. And it turns out that a lot of grant funding (e.g. from Innovate UK) works in a similar way.

As part of deciding whether applying for the Innovate UK funding was sensible, we used the spreadsheet to work out how the figures might look. Our hope is that if we switch to paying ourselves entirely via salary, we can reduce our corporation tax bill by claiming for grant funding and/or R&D tax credits.

Show & Tell

Wednesday was the first time we were able to book a meeting room at our new office location for our 54th Show & Tell event. We have access to a large “board room”-style meeting room which I thought worked very well.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Until next time.

– James

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