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Welcome to our Autumn newsletter! 


CAROLINE BOARDMAN CONSULTING business news and current offers.

CLIENT FOCUS: Chris Ogden, Keystone Paving. Chris answers some questions, including how his company can help give your house curb appeal.

3 TOP TIPS for the quarter.

Visit my website to learn more about me & CBC.

CBC business news and current offers

Welcome everyone to our 3rd newsletter. I'm Caroline, I've been running my accountancy practice now for almost 2 years. CBC is 2 on 5th September! I'm a friendly, family-focussed accountant based in Urmston near Manchester. I started working for myself to fit around the family, I didn't know how valuable a skill that would become, as that is exactly what we have been doing here at CBC for the last 5+ months now. 

Since the last newsletter, we've had a lot of small business support updates from the government as well as the budget announcement. I hope you've found the short updates useful.

What’s been happening?

  • Due to popular demand, I opened a waiting list in June so that some new clients could join this month. I'll be contacting them this week and next so that they can sign up. I'm now open to new clients until the end of October then will be starting a waiting list up for February 2021.
  • I had a lovely family holiday in the North East and Yorkshire where I took a complete break from emails and client work. However, I couldn't quite drag myself away from social media.
  • I've been invited to be on a podcast! Watch this space.
  • I ran an online training session with FreeAgent in July and during this, the lovely Amy from Amy Newton Interior Designs and Sarah Steinhoefel from the Smart Bear shared their wisdom. The next training webinar is on 24th September. It will be a FreeAgent "free for all" and the talks will be from Lisa Clennell of Your Happy Customer and Madeleine from Birtles Mortgages and Financial Solutions. You can sign up on my company Facebook page and watch out for an email with more details about this. It'll be a good one! 
  • I have been communicating even more about the annual tax investigation insurance which is now available for £100 per year. This can be paid £20 per month September to February if you prefer. Let me know if you are interested in this. Please remember that anyone could be investigated and without this insurance I would have to bill extra for the time I spend helping take the stress and burden away.  The risk of an enquiry is very real. Even if you've done nothing wrong, anyone can be selected. No business is too small for HMRC to challenge. For an annual charge, you can rest assured that you are protected against the professional costs associated with an HMRC enquiry. The cost of not doing so, could be an unnecessarily high tax bill.
  • Lots of my clients have successfully pivoted their businesses to online or have completely changed the way they earn money. The Feel Good Club open their 1st coffee shop in the Northern Quarter next month! Watch this space as I know there will be loads more to say about these girls in the coming months. Statement Artworks featured on the front page of Cheshire Life. The Hive Mind CIC was established by Sarah Steinhoefel. 
  • Helen Calvert (of Clear Day) and I set up an exclusive Facebook group for clients. It is called the Organised Entrepreneurs Club and its going really well. We are loving it, it's a great way for us to get to know our clients better and to easily be able to refer work between people we know and trust.
  • Many of my clients are also parents who have been juggling childcare and running businesses. It's not been easy, but we've survived it!
  • Michelle and Emily are now fully back working with me and off furlough. I'm so pleased. We had a group work day last month and it was really nice to have the team together.
  • Emily has been helping me to get all clients registered on the Accountancy Manager portal, to enable e-signing of future documents. Thanks to everyone who has registered! If you haven't yet, look out for the "Registration" email.
  • Michelle has been having 1:1 FreeAgent training over the last couple of months and she will be increasing her hours and providing some direct bookkeeping to an existing client who has big expansion plans!
  • I've written a couple of articles on LinkedIn too. If you are on there, please have a read, they're only short. Here's the latest one
  • Thanks to everyone who completed my customer satisfaction survey last month. There was a 40% response rate and as it stands, the net promotor score (NPS) for CBC is 97! In the professional services sector a world class NPS is said to be >73 so I am over the moon with this result! The responses to these surveys really help me to shape the future of my business and help to decide where to focus my efforts for the next 6 months, so thank you again for taking the time to complete it for me.

See what clients say about Caroline Boardman Consulting.
  • And finally, FreeAgent asked me to be on a promotional video which is way out of my comfort zone but I got brave and went for it! I know this is a pertinent thing for a lot of people in business, I felt incredibly nervous before it but soon got into it and I feel like videos do really encourage a lot of engagement.
  • This venture into video has given me the confidence to put out short 1 minute video tips in the OEC Facebook group too. Look out for them, you may find them useful.
Watch the short video about how CBC worked through Covid-19
And look out for me in this one about how to get FREE licences for FreeAgent accounting software.


Chris Ogden, Keystone Paving.

Chris Ogden is the owner of Keystone Paving, a Stretford based family run paving company with over 20 years' experience in paving solutions including driveways, patios and garden design.

I first met Chris when he paved the driveway in our old house, then a few months later bumped into him at my son's school and it turned out our children were in the same class. He is professional, honest and really easy to get on with. He's a great communicator too and not your average tradesman, with a university degree in Economics. All of this contributes to him having a very successful business and his customer being happy, recommending him and most of his work coming from word of mouth. When Chris set up he worked on his own, he now employs 3 lads full time and they are always busy.

Keystone Paving strive to ensure the total satisfaction of their customers. They aim to provide a product, which has durability, good looks and character. This is achieved by using a combination of workmanship, design and experience.

See Chris's Facebook page to see some of the great work they do.

I had a chat with Chris last month and asked him a few questions about his business... the good and the bad and the ugly and of course, no conversation is complete at the moment without talking about coronavirus! It's a pleasure to have Chris as a client and you will see from his answers here that he always has a positive outlook.

1. When did you start Keystone Paving and have you always worked for yourself?  

I started Keystone Paving in April 2001. I had been working for my brother during school/Uni holidays and for many years and so had the experience to start working for myself installing driveways. I was currently working in sales but always fancied the idea of working for myself. The catalyst was my wife becoming pregnant with my son Ryan and I decided I could make more money self employed. This was probably a bit of a gamble but I had confidence I could make it work and indeed had work booked in before the end of my notice period so just got cracking straight away.

2. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?

There are many aspects to working for myself that I enjoy, the fact that I am in control and can decide where I want the company to go and at what speed. I also really enjoy selling my services and getting great feedback after work is complete. There is a lot of satisfaction gained from turning a clients’ overgrown garden into a pleasurable area for them and their family to enjoy.

    3. What’s the biggest challenge about working for yourself?

    Throughout the 19 years I have been in business I have had many challenges not least having to make lads redundant when the banking crisis plunged the economy into recession and work just disappeared. I was able to continue on my own and survive but lost a couple of great lads. It has taken me many years to get back to the stage I was at before. There is always the need to secure enough work but I have always relished this challenge and have been able to keep the work coming in even in the quiet winter months.

    4. How did Keystone Paving change and adapt through the coronavirus pandemic?

    During the coronavirus pandemic we have had to completely close down and did so for 6-7 weeks. 

    Fortunately the Job Retention scheme and the SEISS has meant that I have been able to look after staff and we have been able to continue in business as pre-lockdown. I can't praise the government enough for their support of the self employed and workers. However I know many friends whose business model means they slip through the net of support and hope they survive going forward. 

    One big change for me is that I need to check stock and order products for jobs much more in advance as stocks vary so much. Products I use often and that are normally available at suppliers can be on a 3-4 week lead time. Shortages are also a problem as firms hoover up supplies of sand and cement leaving suppliers no stock. We also use products from abroad such as Indian Stone and these products have been in short supply, although that is slowly improving. However as supply has become more erratic prices have increased too, especially recently for many products with the explanation simply “Due to the coronavirus.” 

    I have also had to relocate my storage facility. The coronavirus had a positive effect on the fencing company I sub-let space from, therefore their yard was busy all the time and so I have had to move to an alternative location which also resulted in increased costs.

    Hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

    5. Do you think any of the government’s “Plan for Jobs” incentives will help Keystone Paving over the next 12 months to 2 years?

    Going forward I believe that the government's Plan for Jobs will allow me to employ 1-2 new staff and train them up by offering me financial incentives to support their training and wages. 

    I will of course benefit from the Job Retention Bonus for my current workers. I am hopeful that with all the government support and hopefully a vaccine in the next 6months or so, Keystone Paving will be stronger than ever in the next 2 years although much depends on the ability of the economy to bounce back and ensure demand for my services continues to grow.

    Get in touch with Chris if need any external work on your house.

    CBC Autumn tips

    Tax tips

    2 this month, the first is a reminder that the 2nd and final instalment of the SEISS grant is now available to claim. These are some eligibility criteria:-

    You can claim a grant if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and your business has been adversely affected due to coronavirus.

    To make a claim for the second and final grant your business must have been affected on or after 14 July 2020. 

    All of the following must also apply:

    • you traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted your Self Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year
    • you traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
    • you intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021.

    The claim option will be open until 19th October 2020.

    "you can claim this grant if your business has been adversely affected due to coronavirus"

    The second is to tell you about the Job Retention Bonus.

    If you have furloughed employees (including directors) you could qualify for a bonus in February 2021. 

    The government will introduce a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021. 

    Employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021. 

    "one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed"

    Follow this link to check your eligibility and make a claim.

    Money saving tip


    As the client focus this quarter is a tradesperson, it seems appropriate to talk about this. The government will introduce a £2 billion Green Homes Grant, up to £5,000 per household. 

    For those on the lowest incomes, the scheme will fully fund energy efficiency measures of up to £10,000 per household. 

    The scheme aims to upgrade over 600,000 homes across England, potentially saving households hundreds of pounds per year on their energy bills.

    Tradespeople are urged to sign up for TrustMark accreditation as part of the new Green Homes Grant scheme.

    Homeowners across England will soon be able to access advice and support on improving the energy efficiency of their homes from the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) service. SEA will suggest appropriate home improvements that homeowners may be able to apply for support in funding.

    Homeowners and landlords will be able to receive the vouchers in late September. I'll keep everyone updated on this on social media.

    "Homeowners will be able to claim up to £5,000 per household." 

    See the latest update from the government on the Green Homes Grant.

    FreeAgent tip

    Quotes / Proposals / Estimates

    No need to mess about writing estimates from scratch, dazzle your customers with a great-looking online estimate sent from FreeAgent.

    You can send your estimates to clients and track whether they are approved or rejected. You can build your own workflow of proposals, quotes and estimates and when the work's complete, you can convert your estimate into an invoice.

    You can also save time by duplicating existing estimates, exclude VAT from estimate totals and set up a price list to add common products or services to your estimates quickly.

    "Send estimates and easily track and follow up on any that are outstanding"

    See how easy it is to create a quote on FreeAgent here

    Words by Caroline Boardman with assistance from Lisa Clennell.


    Amazing illustrations by Victoria Lysaght of TeaCup Doodles.

    Caroline Boardman Consulting Limited

    Company number 11554381

    6 WESTMORLAND ROAD,                            Urmston, Manchester

    Visit my website for more information.

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