Murray Associates Accountants Limited: Gloria Murray

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Your Business

Q: What is the value of bringing a non-executive director into a business?

The most immediate benefit is getting an outsider’s perspective on your business. As you probably know it’s so easy to see solutions to other people’s business problems but when it comes to your own it’s much more difficult to see things clearly. If you’re thinking of taking on a non-executive director make sure they are the right fit for your business in terms of the skills gap you have on your Board. It’s probably a good idea to use a profiling assessment on them too as that will give you an indication of their strengths and weaknesses. I use Harrison Assessments so drop me an email if you’d like me to put you in touch with them. I would also suggest you keep them in a truly non-exec position. A few times I have seen someone start off as a non-exec only to be offered shares in the business within a short period of time. This doesn’t work as the director is then no longer independent. I’ve seen a few businesses come to very bad endings because of this. So don’t be persuaded by a smooth talker who wriggles into your business, keep them independent.

Q: I set up in business with a friend about two years ago and our differing approaches to where we see the business going are causing real problems. His lack of focus is having an impact on our growth, how do I decide whether to walk away and start again or put up with it and hope things improve?

There is always a risk, when you set up in business with a friend, this will happen. That’s why I always suggest to anyone setting up in business to make sure you have a partnership or shareholder’s agreement. It sets out each person’s role in the company and what’s expected of them. Also what will happen in the event of disagreement or leaving the company (or even dying). It sounds like you might not have this in place, but there are other things you can try. If you put up with his behaviour things won’t improve by themselves. So you will have to take action to ensure the business moves on. Perhaps his lack of focus is caused by having different business and personal goals from you. Or it might be he’s really not clear on where the business is going or what his role is. There’s no point in second-guessing what the problem is as you really need to have a full and frank discussion with him. I suggest you don’t do this alone as you could end up arguing rather than resolving the issue. Get someone you trust to get involved. So if you have a non-exec director or a business advisor ask them to chair the meeting. Set up an agenda with the points you want to discuss and ask for his contribution too. Give him clear examples of how his behaviour is impacting on the business and look for ways to resolve this. Make sure the two of you share the same goals for the business too, so you’ll both need to get very clear on this. If this doesn’t work then at least you’ve tried and you’re only solution might be to walk away and start again.

Q: I’m going to set up a counselling practice next year when I’ve qualified. I want to register the name of the business now, how do I do that without actually starting trading?

The easiest way to do this is to set up a limited company with the name you want to use (if it’s available). You don’t need to start trading until you’re ready and can keep the company dormant until then. However as soon as the company is registered you will start to get communication from HMRC. So you will have to notify them you are not trading as yet and then let them know when you start to do so. Also you will have to send dormant accounts to Companies House and send them an annual return. The other alternative is to trademark your name, but this can be expensive. Also there’s nothing to stop another business using your name. You would have to start legal proceedings against this company and that could be expensive too. I’m not a solicitor so if you do think it’s important to protect your name please get in touch with a solicitor and get some legal advice.

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