Opening an account
You need a bank account that belongs to your limited company. To open it, you'll need to provide your certificate of incorporation, ID of all your directors and no doubt a sheaf of carefully filled in forms.
Many banks offer business banking free for 18 months.
The Federation of Small Businesses offers free business banking with the Co-operative Bank to its members. Membership starts from £120 but carries several other useful-sounding benefits. The FSB is a lobbying group for the interests of small businesses and has a reputation for aggressive recruitment.
When opening an account, you may consider getting;
- internet banking, so you can pay bills on-line by BACS
- a bank card for someone who will have time to run to the tool hire store during the event - i.e. not the main organiser.
- a bank card for someone who will be on site the whole time and can order things over the phone - probably the main organiser.
- the facility for the person who is running pre-reg to pay in large amounts of cheques easily, and get a receipt.
Past BJC experiences
BJC 2010 had an account with Alliance and Leicester. A&L do not have business banking facilities in-branch - it can be done at machines (if you have a bank card) and at the Post Office. This meant that for Emily to pay in pre-reg cheques without a bank card, she had to go to the Post Office with the cheques in an envelope. If the Post Office had lost an envelope with £1000 of cheques in, there would have been no comeback whatsoever.
In contrast, BJC 2009 used NatWest and they were happy to take cheques over the counter with no bank card, and give a receipt with the amount of the cheques written on it.
BJC 2008 used the Co-operative Bank and had no problems (except that the account took a VERY long time to open). They were given some lovely paying in books that had the facility to write all the cheques individually to keep proper track of them.
If you make out invoices to people, put your bank account details on your invoices. Then they can pay you on-line and don't have to send you a cheque. The easier it is for them to pay, the more likely they are to do it promptly (or the less excuses they have for not paying promptly).
You can't get credit easily with no trading history. Luckily you don't need it. Loans from previous BJCs will cover your initial expenses, and soon after that you can open pre-reg. Once pre-reg is open you will quickly have enough money to pay all your bills in cash if you need to.
This means that you don't have to waste time asking the bank for credit, or trying to open an account with the hire company. (Though some hire companies do offer much better rates if you can open an account with them).
When working with companies you don't know well, they may want you to pay up front and you may not want to. In this case you can offer them a partial payment up front, and the remainder on delivery or by invoice afterwards.
Payment by cheque has been declining year on year since credit card payment has been available. However, there are still plenty of people who like to post cheques.
When the cheques arrive in the post it's very important to keep careful track of them. It's helpful to keep track of which cheques have arrived in the post, which have been paid in and which have cleared (so you know they didn't bounce, or worse, get lost by the bank).
Some banks supply nice paying in books that make it really easy to do this. If yours doesn't, making up your own little form for each time you go to the bank is a good idea, and keeping it stapled to the receipt the bank give you.
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