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The Cloud – How it can benefit your Business

Head in the Cloud

Today sadly brings us to the close of our mini-series of posts on digitising your business activities. We hope this series has been of benefit to you and we hope to be able to bring you more of these small segments in the future. This week our heads are well and truly still in the clouds… or THE CLOUD to be more specific, sure isn’t that where we are all looking to store our data at this point?

We have spoken recently about how a move to Cloud Computing and how this can be of benefit to your business. From ensuring higher security measures than storing files on your computer hard drive or in hard copy, to the general ease of access, there can be no doubting that Cloud Computing appears to be the way forward. Many people do pose the financial question however, will moving to The Cloud save money? The truth is that while it often does, this is not a guarantee but this should not dissuade you as the increased usability of your files will undoubtedly save you time, the second thing we often find ourselves short of.

To assist you with an easy transition to this new way of life, we have gathered the below list of considerations to take into account when creating your new Cloud Strategy:

  • Hardware investment decisions– when hardware is up for refresh it is an ideal time to look at whether you can save money/increase flexibility by moving to the cloud.
  • Connectivity – is there available bandwidth that is reliable and secure to facilitate access to cloud technologies?
  • Application suitability – are your core applications ready for a move to the cloud? Are some more suitable than others? What would your migration roadmap look like if you phase your move?
  • Public versus private cloud – the pace of technology change means that private clouds can easily become defunct or run into performance issues, it can often be as limiting as servers onsite as, you are tied to the decisions made at a moment in time. Public cloud investment from companies like Microsoft means not only migrating to the cloud, but an ongoing cycle of optimisation through advancements in the platform.
  • Core versus context – choosing to migrate to the cloud with a trusted partner means that you can have your internal staff focus on what is core to your business, rather than managing infrastructure, back-ups etc.
  • Risk management – a move to the cloud is an ideal time to review your business continuity arrangements, cloud can open up a degree of redundancy that would be impossible to achieve as a single small/medium organisation.
  • Staff productivity – desktop cloud tools afford staff a greater opportunity to collaborate, offer larger storage capacity and remove the need for inhouse management of servers.

 

We hope this has been of use to you and will assist you in creating the best digital strategy for your business. Thank you to our friends at INNOVATE for being a fountain of knowledge on this topic and for sharing this with us. Should you wish to engage their services for your own Cloud Strategy don’t hesitate to get in touch with them and as always for all other business and financial queries, our door is always open here at Ecovis DCA.

 

The Cloud – How it can benefit your Business

Up on Cloud Number 9

Following on from last week, we will this week be continuing our series on bringing your business into the digital age, taking you through the basics of Cloud Computing so that we can keep our clients informed. Last week we focused on the definition of Cloud Computing, as well as the ways to take those first hesitant steps into the digital world. This week, we have decided to focus on the ways in which Cloud Computing can ultimately benefit your business. According to digital professionals, the Cloud is not a place, but a business strategy.

As business in general moves into a more digital space, it is of course advisable to endeavour to be

moving with the times, as difficult as this may be for businesses who have not used the digital model in the past. As intimidating as it can be, there are a great many benefits inherent to cloud technology as a business model going forward, and though your board of director’s may not fully understand the concept at first, taking the first steps will lead to incredible rewards.

So how can you begin to convince an uncertain and perhaps slightly outdated board of directors that a move to the digital space is a step in the right direction? To begin with, it is advised to begin building a ‘Cloud Strategy’ as your first port of call, followed by a ‘Migration Plan’ which will enable you to ensure that you will be maximising the potential of the Cloud for your business, as well as identifying any inherent risks and implementing the appropriate security measures to protect your data. To begin the process, the following 4 steps are advised as your first stepping stones to full Cloud Computing.

  • Agree on a migration plan to manage risk and avoid business disruption
  • Identify the costs involved
  • Manage legacy applications
  • Implement appropriate security measures

It is also advised to hire a tried and trusted IT company to oversee these proceedings to ensure the safe transfer of any data and that your Company is utilising the capabilities of the Cloud to full effect.

We hope that this series on Cloud Computing is of benefit to you and your company and, as always, should you require any assistance or guideance on any business or financial matters, we here at EcovisDCA are always happy to help.

What is this Cloud they speak of?

There has been quite a lot of negativity making the headlines in recent months. At times the business world can seem filled with lists of what not to do with very little useable advice for anyone without immediate access to a time machine. Alongside this, constant changes to the day to day functioning of a business, with an emphasis on moving towards a more digital focus can create confusion when trying to merge with a standard business model. With this in mind, we have decided to bring you some vital information and advice on how to navigate the digital aspects of the business world.

One of the terms we hear over and over these days is “The Cloud”, everyone wanting to know what we have uploaded or backed up to “The Cloud” can often raise the wrong images for those not familiar with the terminology so over the next couple of weeks we will be going into detail about how “The Cloud” can benefit you and your business.

In simple terms, utilising the Cloud or ‘Cloud Computing’ essentially means the storing and accessing of date over the Internet instead of on your computer’s hard drive. The Cloud itself is a network of servers, each one serving a different function. When looking to solve any problem, be it personal or business, we tend to reach out to our support network and in this way the Cloud is no different, acting as another support structure for you and your business.

According to professionals in the area, the below are some of the first stepping stones for getting your business onto the road of Cloud Computing. It could not be simpler to get your business moving into the digital age with ease:

  • Evaluate if a move to the cloud is right for your business
  • Learn how to build a cloud strategy plan that supports your business goals
  • Understand cloud investment models
  • How to optimise your existing cloud infrastructure
  • How to increase the reliability and flexibility of your IT infrastructure
  • Understand how cloud solutions can extend additional services to your customers and open new business opportunities
  • Which cloud-delivered security solutions offer the best protection against modern security threats
  • How cloud solutions can support your business continuity plans
  • Practical steps to moving to the cloud, how to avoid business disruption, migration plans and piloting workloads

Should you feel that this would be a step in the right direction for your business, we would advise holding a training event for your staff to ensure everyone is aware of this new approach being taken.

Should you have any queries or require further information on this or any other business or financial matter please don’t hesitate to contact us here at EcovisDCA’s new head office, where as always we will be delighted to help.

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

If you Own It Then You Need to Put Your Name On It (All The Beneficial Owners)

As of the 15th of November 2016, all Irish business owners or part-owners are required to create and maintain a list of the beneficial owners of the aforementioned business. This new order is in accordance with Statutory Instrument 560 of 2016. The new rule applies to all Irish companies, partnerships and all business entities whether publically listed or not.

A beneficial owner is defined as being a person who currently holds more than 25% of a business either directly or indirectly. This is a legal term wherein specific property rights belong to a person even when legal title of the property belongs to another person. Therefore even if you are not publically an owner of the business, if you hold more than 25% you will be required to be listed on this new document, the register of beneficial owners for the company.

 

The register of beneficial owners for the company must include for all parties:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Residential Address
  • Nature and extent of interest and involvement with the company
  • Date entered into or removed from the register.

 

This new requirement will naturally take some time to implement accordingly, and we would advise all companies to ensure that this register is kept fully up to date with leaving and entering dates etc. to ensure that no issues arise in the future as a result of incomplete information.

 

It is also advised that the company issue letters to all those viewed as beneficial owners to inform them of this new register and to request the required information. It is essential to have a record of all endeavours to identify all beneficial owners and should they still be impossible to identify, the names of the directors and CEO must be entered on the Register.

The CRO will create a central register by the middle of 2017 so it is essential that all beneficial owners are reported to them before this time.

It is heavily advised that this be put in place as soon as possible as failure to comply can result in a fine of up to €5,000 being applicable to your business.

 

Should you have any concerns, queries or require further information on these or any other business and financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us we are always available to help.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

Voluntary Strike off VS Liquidation

Unfortunately, it is not always prudent or financially viable to keep your business going. To assist you if this is the case, we will today be discussing two ways in which your company can be formally closed down. We will be focusing on Voluntary Company Strike Off and Members Voluntary Liquidation – two very different processes which should not be confused. Rather than incurring the on-going costs of continuing to file annual returns, you can choose to either liquidate or strike the company off. It is inadvisable to simply abandon your company as this can incur ongoing costs as well as causing legal trouble down the line.

Voluntary Company Strike off is the process wherein a company is formally de-registered from the Register of Companies and the Revenue Commissioner. The liquidation process involves the appointment of a liquidator to collect and assign any existing assets.

Voluntary Strike Off is often seen as a quicker and more cost effective option than liquidation. This option is available to companies which have had little or no activity and have no more than €150 in assets or liabilities. Voluntary Strike Off leaves an option to restore the business open for a period of 20 years following the date of dissolution.

Members Voluntary Liquidation is the alternative option for companies which have had activity and remain solvent at the time of cessation. Members Voluntary Liquidation is often seen as the more correct way to dispose of a company as it is not possible to resurrect the company after liquidation.

Voluntary Strike Off is also a cheaper option than Members Voluntary Liquidation despite its inherent lack of finality,

If you require any further information on either Voluntary Strike Off or Members Voluntary Liquidation or indeed any business or financial matters please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help.

 

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DCA PARTNERSDECLAN DOLAN & EAMONN GARVEY

2016 – A NEW YEAR OF BUSINESS

Hello again and a very Happy New Year to all of you from us here at DCA Accountants. The foggy haze of a holiday season well spent may not have fully lifted just yet and this month may see all of our wallets a little lighter. To combat this, we have compiled a list of some handy tips to increase cash flow for you and your business and start 2016 off on the right foot.

Budget Budget Budget

No, we don’t mean another governmental offering, lay down the pitchforks, rather a budget for both your business and your own income. It may seem basic to suggest setting out a budget for your business as there has probably been a general one in place for years. However, when entering a new year we would advise setting out an immediate new budget to ensure that you have a clear idea for your finances and where you want them and your business in general to be for the year ahead. On a more personal level, it is advisable to map out exactly what your monthly income is and make a note of the absolutely essential outgoings. From there you will be able to add on the less crucial expenditures and have an idea of how much it will be possible to save each month.

Pay up

The easiest way to keep track of both personal and business finances is to ensure that bills are paid as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the last minute deadline. This will prevent you from overspending as the cash will already have been spent, rather than existing in a limbo of “to be spent” where the temptation to dip in can be strong. In business, you should always set clear and attainable payment terms with all suppliers to avoid confusion.

Be Flexible

Yoga might have played a part in your New Year’s resolutions so keep up the good work, but here we do not mean flexible in the physical sense. In both personal and business finances there will always be unforeseen expenses that creep up and threaten to derail your budgeting. The key when these issues arise is to be flexible and accept that this expense must be paid, but it doesn’t need to be the end of your savings. As much as it is tempting to derail a healthy eating plan after a day of indulgence, it is incredibly easy to allow your finances to become confused after unexpected expenses. Instead of allowing this to happen, a clear budget should allow you to figure out a way to get your savings and finances back on track.

Keep in Touch

In business, it is advisable to keep regular contact with your accountant and bank so that you are at all times aware and knowledgeable about the cash flow of your business. This contact will also assist you in identifying areas of concern early on to help avoid any issues.

We hope that these simple tips will assist you going into the New Year and that 2016 will be a successful year for you and your business. As always, should you have any concerns or queries please contact us at DCA

CREDIT CARD INFORMATION AND TAX EVASION

It was reported earlier this month that the Revenue were to begin targeting credit card transactions as a way of uncovering tax evasion. This new endeavour came to light after it was revealed that over 2000 Irish companies had made payments to the Revenue Commissioners after failing to declare tax in full.

The Revenue Commissioners say that the practise of examining credit and debit card data to investigate tax payments is now active. The information is being released by merchant acquirer firms. These firms process credit card payments on behalf of the merchant you purchase from. Their data will then be compared to the data submitted by the individual or business in order to assess any issues or differences. Any discrepancies found would be flagged as a potential risk of evasion, to be given a closer look.

How is this information being released, you may ask? Legislation enacted two years ago states that these merchants are obliged to divulge information on transactions over a certain threshold. The Revenue are currently making an attempt to ramp up its digital focus as concerns grow regarding the easier tax evasion in this area.

The general idea here, is to ensure that The Revenue Commissioners have all the information they possibly can, in order to assess effectively. In order to do this, As the Revenue Commissioners have now increased their digital focus, they are now engaging new teams in the advanced analytics area. This process utilises a wealth of digital resources in order to flag potential tax evasion.

Declan Rigney, assistant secretary in the Revenue’s planning division has stated that the information has been of great benefit to their research into potential evaders:

“We are able to match information up with our records and see firstly, do we know about them, and secondly, have they registered with us and have they declared income and so on. After that, we can examine if that cumulative figure for the year matches what they have told us in their income tax or corporation tax returns”

Revenue have now stated that their advanced software, known as the Risk Evaluation Analysis and Profiling (REAP) system – (which sounds a lot more violent than it is we promise), can now accurately predict whether someone is potentially evading tax payments or not. This system can also compare cases in order to highlight potential issues that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.

So, it would seem that the ‘Tax Man’ has now well and truly entered the modern age, and with all this technology at the Revenue’s disposal it hopes to ensure that tax evasion becomes a thing of the past.

If you require any assistance or advice on managing your own or your businesses taxes and finances, please don’t hesitate to contact us at DCA Accountants.

CREATING AN EFFECTIVE WEBSITE FOR YOUR COMPANY

In this digital dominated age, a website is a necessity for fledgling and well established businesses alike. A website may be the first port of call for customers or investors searching for the services and products you offer. Regardless of any other marketing methods you may put in place, a website is of great importance in order to get the message of your business out there and give potential clients the information they need. Think of your website as being an extended, digital version of your business card. A way of introducing yourself and your company to the wider world.

As well as the existence of your website, the quality of your website and the ease with which it can be navigated could make or break a transaction with a potential customer. How can you ensure that your website is both visible and accessible to those who will need it? We have compiled a few handy tips for you to consider:

Choose Format.

This is one of the most important initial decisions you will make regarding your website. This will decide how your content is updated and managed. If you intend on doing regular updates yourself, a content management system such as that used by WordPress or Joomla would be the best choice. With a Content Management System you simply input blocks of text and photos as necessary using a set template. Alternatively, if you have hired a web developer or have experience with code yourself, you can build your website from the ground up. Of course this option comes with its challenges and may make regular updates more challenging.

Generate Content

Next to your website’s general layout and design, your content and copy will be the key to generating website traffic. Content is what will attract and keep visitors on your website so it is important to keep content varied and interesting and avoid having massive blocks of text apart from the blog section. It has been suggested that visitors decide whether to stay on your website or go elsewhere within 4 seconds so this is good to bear in mind when generating content. You have a limited amount of time to impress your visitors, and it would be advisable to have some copy already on hand so that as soon as your website is up and running there are a few options for your new visitors to choose from.

Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest ways of generating a following these days so as well as setting up a website it is a good idea to set up relevant social media channels for your business such as Twitter and Facebook. Linking these social media channels to the blog aspect keeps your followers updated and generates some extra traffic to your website. These are also excellent tools for getting your company message out in a quick and informal format.

Maintain Content

Finally, the most important thing to remember when creating your own business website is that it must be consistently in flux. Your content must change and be updated on a regular basis as this is what will keep prospective clients returning to your website.

DIFFICULTIES IN VALUING A BUSINESS

Valuing a business can be one of the most challenging issues faced by business owners and analysts alike. Valuing is a difficult and incredibly complex task, but one that is utterly essential. On occasion, traditional modes of valuation simply do not suit the business type. These techniques often assume a certain level of stability and an imagined risk profile which may not be applicable, and without being adapted, this can result in critical errors in valuation.

In the early stages of your business it can often be a struggle to value the business in an accurate way. This is also often a stage in which it can be difficult to predict the risks associated with the business. In this instance three things must be predicted which can be challenging to do in changing financial times: how will the market you are entering grow and change? What is the likelihood of your business surviving and what risks will be associated with the venture in the longer term?

Analysts can often be more concerned with the general economic growth, rather than the growth of the individual company and this may be something you will have to take into account in your own calculations. For ease: we have collected some of the most common forgotten issues that may become a problem in your valuation and risk assessment, in the hope that you may be able to avoid these pitfalls.

Originality/Diversity: A good thing to bear in mind when valuing your business is that businesses which offer an original/single product or service are subject to a higher risk level than those which offer a well-known or a great many products and services.

Clientele: It is important to take into account your current and projected clientele when valuing and assessing your business. For example, if your business is one which has relatively few clients, then your risk factors will be much higher as the results of losing one of your clients will be much more detrimental to your business than one which has a wide range of clients.

Projected Lifespan: Your Company’s projected lifespan is often difficult to assess but it is important to take into account the changing business world you are entering and whether or not it is likely that your product or service may soon become outdated.

Location: Location is not only a factor in setting up your business, but also in valuing it and assessing its growth capabilities for the future.

Assets/Liabilities: When valuing your business it can be easy to forget to factor in current and projected assets and liabilities. When included, these can paint a more in depth picture of the current and projected value of your company.

Expectations: It is vital to remember that valuations are essentially expectations by nature, and they can be used as a blueprint for the planning and maintenance of your business.

There are always unforeseen circumstances both negative and positive that will affect your business and these cannot be predicted. As such, your valuation is a blueprint for you to build upon rather than a strict prediction.

If there is any way at all we can be of benefit to you in the start-up, maintenance or valuation of your business please don’t hesitate to contact us at DCA Accountants.

TAX RELIEF FOR FIRST TIME ENTREPRENEURS

It was announced this month that there will be a revamp of a previously existing entrepreneurial scheme. This newly revamped scheme will mean that first time entrepreneurs will be able to claim back thousands of euro in tax relief in order to offset their start-up costs.

 

The SURE scheme (Start-Up Relief for Entrepreneurs) was recently launched by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton. The scheme comes as a response to the latest employment figures, which suggest that two thirds of all new jobs are created by new start-up companies. Minister Bruton has stated that this new tax relief is important because many start-up companies have “fallen into pitfalls where cash runs out before their potential is fulfilled.” This new scheme could mean increasing longevity for these companies who may need an extra push in today’s difficult marketplace.

 

Some of you may remember that a similar scheme had previously been in place as well as the capital gains tax incentive for new entrepreneurs. Mr Bruton has suggested that this previous scheme received a relatively small amount of interest, as there was a lack of understanding about what was involved in the process. It is hoped that the SURE scheme will offset these difficulties as it essentially involves directly offering assistance to those considering starting their own business. The funds will be offered up to a value of 41% of the total capital invested. Depending on the size of your investment you may be entitled to a refund of income tax paid over the 6 years prior to year in which you invest.

 

So, how do you know if you qualify for this scheme? The following are the basic guidelines:

 

You must:

  • Establish a new company carrying on a qualifying trading activity.
  • Have mainly PAYE income in the previous 4 years.
  • Take up full-time employment in the new company and not be employed elsewhere.
  • Make an investment by purchasing new eligible shares.
  • Hold at least 15% of the issued share capital of the company for 12 months.
  • Ensure that the company is a qualifying new venture.
  • Ensure that the company is incorporated in this or another EEA State.
  • Ensure that the company is between a micro or medium-sized enterprise.
  • Ensure that the company does not have any trading arrangements with your former employers.
  • Ensure that the company is not controlled by any other company.

 

These are, of course, just the basic guidelines to give you an idea of how to qualify for this exciting new scheme. If you should be interested in assessing your own eligibility for the SURE scheme, we at DCA Accountantsare here