There are two key parties who have the power to shut down your business – the bank and the tax man

The rollercoaster ride of the entrepreneur does not always allow for planning ahead of time; the business may suddenly receive its largest new order without a clear path to delivery, or an unexpected tax bill may present itself when the business is strapped for cash. Ensuring the business has the right capital structure in place (whether that is in the form of Venture Capital or Private Equity investment) will go a long way to making sure the rollercoaster is smoother, but will reduce the likelihood of having the bank or HMRC knocking on your door in the first place.
If they do, maintaining a calm approach, and forming a plan of action can be critical in guiding you through these growing pains. Taking the bank and HMRC in turn, we explore the key questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves and discuss with trusted advisors.
 
The Bank
 
What type of funding do you need? What do you already have in place? What is the right fit for the business’ future? 
 
There is not a one-size fits all solution to plugging a short-term funding gap, and panic can often send businesses to seek lending at extortionate rates, without having fully considered all options available to them. For example, if you are a software-intensive company, you may want to consider enterprises that lend against your future R&D tax credit. Equally, rather than requesting a further loan from an existing lender, it is worth going out to the market to sense-check the rates you are being quoted, to help prevent become increasingly indebted without a clear vision of repayment. 
 
The right advisor will assist you in assessing each of these questions in order to find the right solution. This will prevent you entering into a spiral of short-term debt, with the possible consequences being the bank knocking on your door and potentially repossessing your assets.
 
The Tax Man
 
Are you behind on PAYE or VAT payments? Have you calculated your R&D tax credit correctly? 
 
The timing of various payments due to HMRC may be difficult to keep on top of, particularly if you do not have the appropriate level of internal or external finance support and advice. There are two key ways to help avoid HMRC knocking on your door: 1) seek sufficient support, internally or externally to assist; and 2) do not be afraid to pick up the phone and discuss your situation with HMRC. 
 
Ensuring your R&D tax credit claims have been calculated correctly and are supported by documentary evidence is crucial in ensuring your business receives cash payments from HMRC in a timely manner, thus helping to create realistic cash flow expectations and avoiding lengthy rounds of enquires that can become expensive to resolve. Furthermore, you may feel in an impossible situation when you are behind on VAT or PAYE payments to HMRC, but if you contact them early (either directly or through an advisor) and discuss entering into a payment plan, this can be immensely helpful to ease the immediate pressure. 
 
In short, assess your options calmly and form a plan of action – don’t let the bank or HMRC be the ones in control of your business. 
 
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