Fresh Threads: easier startups, dealing with returned products, and claiming expenses for a dog

  1. Ray Newman

    Ray Newman UKBF Regular Staff Member

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    Hi UKBFers,

    Welcome to Fresh Threads, our weekly roundup of the best comments and advice from the forums. 

    Here are my top picks from this week.

    1) Is it easier or harder to build a successful enterprise today?


    Just wondering what your overall opinion is on starting a business these days? Obviously startups are made ten times easier thanks to modern-day communication and access to information, but I feel this has become a double-edged sword as there is virtually no barrier to entry and anyone can “start a business online”.

    Whether these people are capable of making the idea profitable is another thing, but to me there certainly seems to be a case of entrepreneur saturation within most markets.

    fisicx: My mate has a very successful enterprise despite loads of competition. He cleans wheelie bins. I also know dog walkers, gardeners, plumbers, window-washers, builders and all sorts who are successful despite there being thousands of others all doing the same. Many were recent startups.

    Helpful Johnny: There’s always scope to build a business and it doesn't need to be innovative. My window cleaner charges a fair whack a clean and it takes him no time – nothing new about his model.

    Benjamin B: What I see a big issue with is a lack of originality and innovation, and everyone in each sector ends up looking pretty much the same with a different logo. This leads to price being the overriding difference between businesses, and the ones with the biggest buying power win because they can offer it at the lowest price point.

    Mark T Jones: It is absurdly easy to set up a business selling some rubbish on eBay or making a few bob from your hobby – on the other hand, actually building a meaningful business requires a similar level of skill and commitment as it always did.

    2) What should I do with returned products?


    How do I deal with returned products when a customer orders by mistake? The products can’t be resold new, and if I were to sell at used prices I would be selling at a loss.

    Newchodge: If they are personalised goods you can refuse to accept a return. If they are online sales of ordinary goods, your business model has to take into account that people are allowed by law to change their mind.

    Mr D: I just resell them as used if they are in no condition to be sold as new. Rather than bin them, which would be even more of a loss than selling them used.

    ComPropSolicitor: If you are selling volume then I think you just need to ignore it and absorb the cost. Simply getting rid of the item or refusing to sell it will presumably lose you a lot more. Can you not bundle the item up with something else? All depends on what you are selling, but I think you need to get creative.

    Paul Norman: Selling as returned goods at a discounted price often yields a decent recovery. However, as you suggest, it’s sometimes just as viable to bin them. It is part of the cost of running an online store. The returns level is fairly constant, and it has to be built into the business model.

    3) How to buy the premises for a restaurant without buying the business


    I'm looking into a well-placed cafe in my local town centre, but I do not want to buy the business. I have over a decade of experience in the industry and have contacts that I can rely on and hire.

    My issue is I don't want the business, I only want the premises and some fixtures and fittings, and after a lot of research I still don't know how to go about it. What would be a reasonable proposition to the agents?

    Newchodge: If you take over the premises and trade as a cafe or restaurant, you are very likely to also take on the staff under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations. Is that what you are trying to avoid?

    Echelon_26: I'm not taking over the business. I want the owner to exercise his break out clause and close down. I don't want their staff.

    Clinton: Even if the owner closes down you could end up liable for paying his staff redundancy. It may sound crazy, but them's the rules. Which is why you should get expert advice on matters like these.

    ecommerce84: We often see threads where sellers have very ambitious asking prices, much of which is goodwill. Short of the business going pop or the landlord serving notice, I highly doubt the seller will sell up easily without the goodwill completely.

    4) Can I claim the cost of a therapy dog on expenses?


    My wife is a private practice mental health counsellor. She bought a dog to use in her practice as a therapy dog, and it’s proven very successful in helping clients with their problems. Is any of the expense in buying and keeping the dog allowable for tax purposes?

    Adam93: Is it wholly and exclusively for business purposes? (i.e. are you going to put your dog in your stationery draw on Friday night and get him or her back out on Monday morning?) Don't forget to add your dog to your payroll either!

    TheCyclingProgrammer: I think for all intents and purposes it would be hard to argue that the dog isn't also just a personal pet. I think it would be reasonable to expense the provision of some food, a bed etc. for the dog at the place of work if there is a separate office but if your wife operates from home then I would say duality of purpose would bite.

    Energise Accounting: If the dog has been professionally trained for the purpose of a therapy dog, there could be an argument, similar to guard dogs. But on balance of your post I would say definitely not.

    That's all for this week – keep an eye out for the weekly UKBF newsletter on Friday.

  2. Furqan721

    Furqan721 UKBF Contributor Free Member

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    Thank You for sharing this stuff!
    Posted: May 16, 2018 By: Furqan721 Member since: Feb 26, 2018
    Chris The Dropshipper likes this.