Fintech | How are tech companies innovating to fill gaps in Government support? Tim Fouracre, Founder and CEO of Countingup explains!
Countingup’s mission is to relentlessly focus on making it easier to run a small business. It’s April 2020 and right now it’s extremely tough running a small business. The team at Countingup took some time out from building our banking and accounting app to think up ways we could help during the Coronavirus pandemic.
We came up with two interactive Coronavirus Calculators. One for self-employed sole traders, looking to benefit from the grants available. A second for business owners considering ‘furloughing’ employees. They’re both free to use here.
We welcome the support available to sole traders under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), and to employers under the Job Retention (‘furlough’) Scheme. But understanding how the schemes translate into a grant or reimbursement is confusing.
The SEISS will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. It is due to launch at the end of April. In a similar vein the Furlough Scheme will allow employers to claim 80% of monthly salary up to £2,500 (tax will be due on this), National insurance contributions and minimum pension auto-enrolment. For those employees placed on temporary leave (furlough).
When sole traders and business owners are feeling the pinch, it’s really important to have an estimate of likely cash flow and lost earnings, to plan accordingly.
As we couldn’t find calculators, we decided to build them. We hope that this can fill a gap in the government support, translating policy into a practical outcome that small businesses can easily digest and act upon — their financial position.
Although building these calculators has been a relatively small project, it’s reflective of my life-long approach to finding new ways to make running a business easier.
In 2008 I founded a cloud accounting software company called Clear Books. It was born out of my need to do the bookkeeping for my web development company and my mum’s theatre school. I wanted to be able to remotely help my mum with her accounts but couldn’t find a web based system. So I created a solution, which became Clear Books.
I was the CEO at Clear Books for nine years and over those years I got frustrated with the fact that there were many inefficiencies importing bank data into accounting software; with having the banking and accounting separate.
Imports get duplicated which creates a bookkeeping mess. Bank feeds would break. There was setup and ongoing maintenance of the feeds. Whereas banking happens in real-time, the interpretation in the accounting system only happens when “the books are done”. Often this is a frustrating weekend, weeks or months after the bank transactions actually happened.
Basically, it made no sense to me that the banking and accounting were separate systems. It seemed it would be much easier to run a business if they were one and the same.
In October 2017 I set up Countingup to do just that. We’ve created a business current account that automates the accounting. Fast forward to today and we’ve got over 20k businesses banking and accounting with us. They have collectively processed £1bn through their accounts and are enjoying the benefits of having accurate, real-time and highly automated accounting records.