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How a £40k tax bill made SME turn to forecasting

6th Feb 2023
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When Futrli CEO, Hannah Dawson, bought a pub twenty years ago, she was excited to make her business dreams a reality. When a £40,000 bill from HMRC arrived, she thought all was lost. This is how Hannah got into forecasting, and why she thinks small businesses could learn from her mistakes to achieve their business ambitions.

How a £40k tax bill made SME turn to forecasting | Futrli by Sage | Picture of pub and Hannah Dawson
Futrli by Sage

By Hannah Dawson, Futrli by Sage CEO

My forecasting journey started with a brown envelope and a sinking sense of doom. In seconds, my business, home, and livelihood were under threat. A colossal amount of stress, anxiety, expense, and work could have been avoided if I had forecasted correctly. When the dust settled, I realised that there was nothing out there that could do what I was looking for… So, I decided to make it myself.

This is my journey from owning a pub to founding Futrli, a low-cost forecasting and reporting solution for small businesses and accountants. I didn’t want to see any other small businesses go through what I had experienced… So, I called last orders and entered the world of real-time forecasting.

Nineteen years ago, I bought a pub. In the first six months, we were overwhelmed with renovations and hiring staff. It was all a whirlwind. While I had an accountant, I didn’t really feel very supported by them. We would meet rarely and much of what they said went way over my head.

Fast-forward a few months and a dreaded brown envelope arrived on the doormat. (Cue music from “Psycho”.) The envelope contained a letter from HMRC with a bill of £40,000. How delightful. It was a bill that I just didn’t expect. I hadn’t expected it because I hadn’t factored it into my forecasts.

My entire world was blown upside down. I was living above the pub with my daughter and partner, and suddenly not only were our jobs at risk but our livelihood.

For me, all hope was not lost… I was in a very fortunate position and borrowed the shortfall of cash from my parents. (I have, of course, since paid them back!) All the same, it was a terrifying event.

This shock forced me to become better at doing business very quickly. I took my own business education into my own hands. When I wasn’t working, I was down the library on Google (anyone remember dial-up?) and taught myself management accounting. That business, despite the bumps along the way, ended up being truly successful.

But… That event. The brown envelope. That really stayed with me. I knew that I couldn’t be the only small business owner who felt alone in their decision-making.

At Futrli, we help small businesses and the accountants who support them make future-focused decisions. Plan for events you know are coming and ensure that you have a buffer for the unexpected.

Forecasting will help your business during what is set to be one of the toughest for small businesses. You can find hundreds of free forecasting Excel templates online. However, they are time-consuming, fiddly, and not grounded in real-time data.

The solution we offer is far more than a forecasting platform. We offer dashboards, drag and drop reporting, and scenario planning capabilities all within the platform. This sits alongside our forecasting solution that uses maths that “thinks” like an accountant. Clients’ financial ledgers in Quickbooks Online, Xero, (and soon Sage!) are automatically synchronised producing instantly generated cash flow, balance sheet, expenses, and p&l forecasts across the next 3 years.

While receiving a £40,000 bill in the post is never going to be fun… It shouldn’t have to mean the end of your business. With businesses – much like the one I owned – forced to close early this winter, and tabloids urging readers to “sack off Dry January” to help your local boozer, it really is a scary time.

If you want to start running a predicted business, then it’s time to get support from those that know all about the highs and lows of running an SME. Find out more about the work we do here or start a free trial, and take control today.

Check out our free 1:1 demos of Futrli here!