I get knocked down, but I get up again...

...they're never going to keep me down!

Things haven't been going too well these last few weeks. Whilst I've kept a couple of great customers I've lost a load to a father and son team of 'experts' who offer a complete gardening and handyman service for £6.50 per hour (for both of them!), and I've struggled. Attempts to keep customers with "but you can't exactly expect competence at £6.50 an hour" has been met with "but they're only £6.50 and there's two of them!" Hate to think where their gardening and building rubbish goes, and the aftermath of their chainsaw job on a small Buddleja was a work of art (in a harsh, modernistic way). I know that these guys will lose customers as their reign of chaos spreads, but in the meantime I can't sustain myself without the work.

For now I've taken a part time job with a local nursery. With a background in commercial growing I should make myself useful! The money is less than I could be taking per hour working for myself, but is a better prospect than not being able to pay the rent etc. I'll be honest I'm a bit gutted; I take pride in what I do and being self employed was, I hoped, my chance to take control of my life a bit more.

I'm not giving up. Things are complicated, but they could be so much worse! Hopefully I'll be back on track soon, but in the meantime I'm relieved to have a job.

Just need to decide which account I need my wages in, personal or business!

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  • Personal. Your part-time employers will be taking care of tax and NI from their perspective and you cannot influence that. Whatever you pay yourself from your business should be declared and taxed/NId separately and your personal tax submission should declare both. Once HMRC understand (sic) that you are doing both one or other coding should change and you will be taxed correctly. Until you go back to being fully self-employed and have to go through it again.

    The downside is that it usually means you pay too much tax month on month then get a refund later. The upside is it works it way out in the end and those lump sums are nice to get.

    • Thank you for this Mike; I thought it would be better into my personal account, but it's helpful to have someone else's advice.

      • Think about it this way. Your part-time employer is going to tax you for both income tax and NIC. If you put that money into your business' account HMRC see that as an input (gain) to the business for tax purposes. The business has had a receipt with no corresponding outlay. You may have to pay both income tax (or corporation tax if a limited company) and VAT (the new money may push you over the VAT threshold too, be careful it doesn't also push you into a higher personal tax bracket) on money you have already paid all the necessary taxes on. Keep them separate at all times.

        • Thank you! This is so much clearer than stuff I've read online. Makes sense.

  • Ben, it sounds as though you are in a very small catchment area, for a new 'father and son' outfit to make such a difference to your business - or are they targeting your customers specifically for some reason? If it is the former, then you may need to look a whether your area can sustain a profitable round in the future. 

    • I'm trying to work a big catchment area, but most of my interest/work so far has been locally.

  • PRO
    If they are as bad as you say then at the end of the season your phone will be red hot with everyone calling you to go and fix their work!
  • PRO

    Hi Ben, Sorry to hear about your troubles, I know you're active on twitter and have your fantastic blog

    what about promoting yourself on social media, your plant knowledge sets you well above £6.50/hr

    how about promoting your services on your local #ukbusinesshours for example

    • Thank you. The customers I've kept are the ones who appreciate plant knowledge and more care for their plants. Many have hired local 'gardeners' who have mauled shrubs instead of pruning them, and who have done fairly shoddy work of borders...

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