Another quality business development tip from by Caroline Robinson of Sandler Training in Cambridge.

Hate asking for introductions so avoid doing it?

10772137703 bc1df2e195 m Do you avoid asking for referrals?Do you hate asking for introductions as much as I do, so much so that you never do it, or “forget” to ask?  You know it’s the best way to grow your business so why procrastinate? How can we ensure we do it systematically and effectively?

Firstly commit to doing it and be clear about what is a good referral for you.

Then, at the beginning of your meeting, lay your cards on the table, own up to your issue and get them to help you solve it.

An example

‘Being completely honest with you I have a problem. I hate asking for introductions but as I’ve committed myself to growing my business I’ve made a promise that I can’t leave without having asked you.  Can you help me with this? 

When we get to the end of this meeting please can you remind me to ask you if there are any other business owners you know who may be interested in X, Y, Z? ‘

What have you got to lose?

10797722765 1cf2c9b607 m Do you avoid asking for referrals?Try it.  You may be surprised at the results you get and very soon it becomes a lot easier to ask for referrals.

 

To find out more about how to get these things right more often in your business come to the next Business Leaders seminar. Click here for more details,  or here to sign up to the Sandler monthly newsletter with practical sales and prospecting tips.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

HMRC has had much success in collecting large amounts of tax from property related tax investigations recently, giving them more impetus to continue to challenge investors.

In particular, the widely used claim for PPR (Principal Private Residence) relief which significantly reduces exposure to Capital Gains Tax has been making headlines following a high profile debate about MP’s expenses.

Making a house a home

There+s+no+place+like+home 9d95e3 4741424 300x217 Property Investors Beware : You are HMRCs latest target!In order to be eligible for PPR relief, you must be able to demonstrate that the investment property was your home at some point during your ownership.

The term “home” is key here, merely paying council tax and redirecting some of your post simply is not enough.  HMRC may require evidence that your personal artefacts were present enabling you to reside in the property with “home” comforts, but of course what makes a house a home is a very subjective matter.

Evidence

Perhaps the current trend of sharing your personal life on Social Media, will become useful after all?

Flipping and switching

If you are what’s known as a “property flipper” (regularly buying, refurbishing and selling on) or have elected to change your principal residence from one property to another, which you are perfectly entitled to, be warned that you may be putting your head above the proverbial parapet.

Protect your eligibility

If you need advice on how to ensure you get the very valuable PPR relief, then please feel free to get in touch.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

In today’s digital age, information is accessible to many via the web, but the validity of the data published online is always difficult to establish.  With search engines offering entries from Wikipedia and blogs set up freely and authored by anyone who is inclined to share their opinions as if they were facts, the internet really is a minefield for those searching for clear, coherent and up to date advice.

laptop frustration Tax advice: Is the internet really the answer?However, it is reasonable to assume that major websites of core government organisations are up to date and free from misleading information, isn’t it?

Take the website of H M Revenue & Customs for example.  Full of guidance, help sheets and forms to download it is a useful source of information that goes some way to replace the much depleted staff numbers manning the ‘phone lines and tax offices.  But can it be relied upon?

In the next two weeks, we have the Self-assessment Tax Return filing deadline. If you were in any doubt as to whether this regime applies to you, it would be reasonable to visit www.hmrc.gov.uk and find the following as part of a list of circumstances in which a Return is necessary.

Quote “If you are an employee or a pensioner and already pay tax through a PAYE code, you can sometimes ask for tax that you owe on income, such as savings and property, to be collected through your code number. You’ll need to complete a tax return instead if the income you receive is:

  • £10,000 or more from taxed savings and investments
  • £2,500 or more from untaxed savings and investments
  • £10,000 or more from property (before deducting allowable expenses)
  • £2,500 or more from property (after deducting allowable expenses)”

5856616883 2e08acfeb6 m Tax advice: Is the internet really the answer?The words “you’ll need to” are certainly not ambiguous, however if receiving £10,000 or more of dividends does not create a charge to tax, perhaps because your employment earnings are minimal, this fact alone is not enough to require a Tax Return from you.

It is important to note that the list published by HMRC is intended as guidance, the need to file a return will depend on each taxpayer’s circumstances.  As it the taxpayer’s responsibility to notify HMRC of the need to file a Return, I am sure an “it depends” answer isn’t really what you were looking for.

Whilst the internet serves many needs, it must be used with caution when seeking advice regarding even the simplest taxation and accounting queries.  For the foreseeable future, there really is no replacement for trustworthy, personal advice from a team of trusted professionals!

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

3078856253 aa1e08579c m Sales Tip: Do prospects ever use the you are far more expensive than competitors line with you?When this happens it’s hard not to start justifying our price or getting outraged and walking away.

So, how else could you handle it?

 

 

Example one:

two people talking 300x225 Sales Tip: Do prospects ever use the you are far more expensive than competitors line with you?Buyer: You are more than twice the price of the other company we are talking too.

Salesperson: Of course I’m disappointed, but I appreciate your courtesy in telling us that you’re going with them

Buyer: I didn’t say that

Salesperson: I’m surprised. If they do the same things we can do for half our price it would seem like the logical conclusion that you would go with them?

Buyer: Well they don’t do exactly the same thing

Salesperson: But for your purposes, is it fair to assume they do what you need?

Buyer: Yes I think they do, but it’s a one-man band and I’m not sure how long they will be around

Salesperson: You know we want to work with you but you should do what’s in your best interest

Buyer: Well David has told me good things about you and if I go with them it means more risk if its doesn’t work out

 

Example Two:

yellow triangle Sales Tip: Do prospects ever use the you are far more expensive than competitors line with you?Draw a triangle with one of these words on each corner: Effective, Easy to use, Cheapest.

Explain to your buyer that most people want something that’s easy to use, very effective and cheap.
There are people who will tell you that they can do all three but that’s not true.  You can pick two but in reality no-one does all three.  So, which two are most important?

 

This tip was offered to you by Caroline Robinson of Sandler Training in Cambridge.

To find out more about how to get these things right more often in your business come to the next free Business Leaders seminar. Click here for more details,  or here to sign up to the Sandler monthly newsletter with practical sales and prospecting tips.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Now, I’m not particularly interested in politics, but the state of the economy and the property market is something that I just can not ignore.

Is it just me, or does George Osbourne’s grasp of economics worry you too?

In this Telegraph article  he is quoted as saying that 95% mortgages are not “weapons of mass destruction” despite warnings from RICS that they could create another housing bubble and he believes that large home loans are part of a “healthy market” and “aspiration society.”

2246559455 3d805f96a9 m British property ownership : aspiration society or loan default culture?How does he think the 2007/8 crash happened?

When Maggie gave us the opportunity to be home owners, do you think she envisaged British people being up to their eyeballs in debt?

Simple?

There are two very obvious problems with big mortgages

  1. If you stretch yourself to the maximum to afford a loan at a time when interest rates are at historically low levels what do you do when interest rates rise, as rise they must, sooner or later?
  2.  What do you do when the house in which you have 5% equity drops in value by 10%?

The answer in each case is default on the loan and hand the keys back, and we all know who will end up paying the costs of these bad bank debts!

Responsibility?

So who should take responsibility for promoting  this “so what” attitude to debt?

The first time buyers who are being allowed to take on such a huge financial burden?  The lenders? The Government?

Personally

Frankly as the owner of several buy-to-let properties I am revelling in the shortage of properties caused by the recession, profiting from the low interest rates and the chance of another “bubble” is very exciting!

But I am sure I am in the minority with this rather selfish outlook.  What’s your view?  Has the Chancellor got it all wrong? Will his strategy help the country to recover from its economic crisis?

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

 

The legislation enabling charities to use the “new” Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) structure was laid before Parliament last October and is being slowly implemented during 2013.

The journey

8411052360 32bc41e7eb m CIO’s: 20 years in the making, but are they worth the wait?The concept of a “simple” corporate structure was identified and debated when the Charities Act 1992 was first published and the CIO proposal developed during the late 1990’s.

The Home Office submitted a white paper entitled “Charities and Not-for-Profits: A Modern Legal Framework” in 2003 and the CIO structure finally became law as part of the Charities Act 2006, but it wasn’t until Lord Hodgson published his five year review of the Charities Act 2006 in 2012 and the Charities Act 2011 was issued that Parliament passed the CIO regulations for England & Wales and the Charity Commission could begin registering CIOs.

Still relevant?

The length of time taken to get to the current “implementation phase” has however dampened the initial enthusiasm for this new structure that enables Trustees to manage the activities and assets of the charity as a separate legal entity and benefit from limited liability, in the same way as a corporate entity, but without the need to comply with Company law.  I can see that this may be a reasonable option for a new organisation, but for existing charitable organisations (registered or not) I have yet to be convinced that the benefits outweigh the hassle, and if any form of finance is required, I don’t see it as an option at all.

172506278 203e72117f m CIO’s: 20 years in the making, but are they worth the wait?So far…

During January to May 2013 a mere 200 CIO’s have been registered, which I believe is partly due to the rather extended phased implementation, set out to assist the Charity Commission in dealing with the anticipated workload, but more likely the confusion over the tangible benefits of the new structure.

The future…

In 2014, Charitable Companies and Community Interest Companies (CICs) will be able to apply for CIO status, but considering the painful conversion process and the lack of understanding, particularly for those with debt finance, I doubt that the Commission will be dealing with a huge rush.

 

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Once again, we’re being told that most of us (77%) feel we’ve chosen the wrong career. (And 33% are bored at work.)

A guest post by Liz Lyon of  Design the Future Coaching and RISE Business Circle

Living for the weekend?

6790625269 3966062f9f m Are you part of the 77%?I know I go on about this a lot but I get very annoyed that so many people see their work as something that has to be got through 5 days a week so that they can do their real living on Saturday and Sunday.

OK, we can all have off days – days when we wonder why we bother – when it’s only the need for an income that keeps us going.

What bugs me is that it’s become part of the culture to see work as an irritating and inescapable interruption in the enjoyment of life.

Radio DJs, for example, regularly commiserate with us on the direness of Monday morning; they applaud when we’ve got as far as Wednesday lunchtime and it’s all downhill to the weekend and they celebrate the arrival of Friday and being able to shake the dust of the office (or wherever) off our feet.

Really?

5j0438570 Are you part of the 77%? days out of 7 is around 70%: do we really want the norm to be that most of us feel trapped and depressed for 70% of our week?

Is there some hideous conspiracy by sinister authority figures to make us believe that it’s the only way things can be? Keeping the masses down by making them trudge through their working lives?

Time for change?

j0433028 Are you part of the 77%?It’s time to fight back! Time to challenge the restrictions and start looking at exactly what it is that will make your career as satisfying, rewarding and fun as it can be.

What really excites you in the rest of your life?

What work could you do that would incorporate that?

If it doesn’t already exist, could you create it?

Do you really want to spend most of your life wishing it away?

There’re lots of books and professional help out there: what could you achieve with a small investment of time, energy and money?

Tip:

RISE 28 Are you part of the 77%?Look for someone who’s already achieved the kind of life you want and do a little investigating into how they did it: what tips and strategies can you pick up to help you?

Want some support?

Call Liz for a confidential, no obligation chat on 01223 811913 or email liz@dtfcoaching.co.uk

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

What’s happening?

The laws governing pensions provided to staff by employers are changing so that all employees will be enrolled in the pension scheme unless employees specifically opt out of it, compared to the current situation where all employees are offered the pension scheme but must apply to join it. This new regime is called “auto enrolment”.

What effect will it have on my organisation?

If a significant majority of your staff are already members of the staff pension scheme, then the change will make very little change other than to change the induction process for new employees. However for many organisations where staff have traditionally not joined the pension scheme, especially if this is through apathy rather than through a clear decision not to join, then this change could increase your staff costs in line with the employer contribution to the scheme – which for employers operating a final salary scheme could be as much as 20%.

When does it happen?

j0434804 The Next Big Change in PensionsFor the country’s largest employers the change has already taken place. The change is being rolled out, starting with the largest employers, over the next five years.

Your staging date will depend upon the number of employees registered for PAYE purposes and the PAYE reference code you use for paying over tax and national Insurance. For employers with fewer than 50 employees the roll-out starts in two years’ time.

What do I need to do?

First, you need to make sure that your staff pension scheme qualifies for registration for auto-enrolment. Most schemes that are open to all members will, and there is a tool available on the Pensions Regulator’s website, www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk, which will help you.

Secondly, you need to look at what it would cost if everyone that is entitled were a member of the pension scheme, and then compare that with what you are paying now. This will give you a view of the potential extra cost the organisation will have to take on after auto-enrolment. Consider this in the context of your business. You may decide that it’s not a significant increase, in which case all you have to do is change your process for induction of new staff, and start talking to your existing staff about the change.

The next thing you need to think about is how many of your staff are likely to opt out of the scheme. Remember that you are not permitted by law to encourage employees to opt out in any way, so people have to make an effort to opt out – they need to make an application. However some employees may choose to opt out. Finding out by consulting your staff may be difficult without giving the impression of encouraging staff to opt out, so be careful.

However you may feel that this is an unacceptable increase in costs. In which case you need to plan very carefully what you do next, and you will probably need some specialist advice. See the next section for more details.

The next thing you need to do is to work out when you will need to make the change. This is called the staging date. There is guidance on this on the Pensions Regulator website.

Once you know what your staging date is, you can then start to plan the implementation. You will need to

  • Decide whether you want to continue with your existing pension, or change to a new one with revised terms;
  • Plan how you are going to tell your staff about the change. You will need to allow at least three months for consultation, especially if you plan to change your scheme;
  • Prepare changes to your induction process for new employees, so that they are told about the pension arrangements when they join, and contributions are deducted from their pay and paid to your pension provider from the start of their employment;
  • Set a process for those who wish to opt out of the pension scheme (it is good practice for this to be administered by the pension provider, so that there is no grounds for claiming that the employer encouraged staff to opt out);
  • Appoint a point of contact which must be notified to the Pensions regulator;
  • Start automatically enrolling staff into the scheme from the staging date and paying contributions over to the pension provider;
  • Register the pension scheme with the Pensions Regulator.

Changing your pension scheme

You may decide that your current pension scheme is not suitable for auto-enrolment. This might be because

  • Employer contributions are too high and you as an employer cannot afford to pay contributions for all staff;
  • Employee contributions are too high and few staff will be able to afford it; or
  • The scheme does not qualify for auto-enrolment.

When you have decided this you will need to take advice from an expert pensions adviser. You will need to aim for a pension scheme which will

  • Be affordable to you as an employer;
  • Be affordable to your staff; and
  • Meet the pensions Regulator’s conditions for auto-enrolment.

So it’s probably a good idea if you have a clear view of what you would consider to be affordable to both employer and employee before you talk to the experts. Remember that in order to be acceptable to the Regulator there will need to be minimum employer contributions of 3%, and minimum total contributions of 8%.

Next, you will need to think about what you want to offer to those already in the existing scheme. You will need to think about the impact both on existing staff, on those not currently in the pension scheme, and on new staff. Options would include:

  • Closing the scheme to all further contributions, and auto-enrolling members into the new scheme;
  • Closing the existing scheme to new members, allowing those already in the scheme to continue to contribute in the scheme, and auto-enrolling all other existing staff into the new scheme.

Either way, you’ll need to consult your staff and take their views into consideration when you make your decision. You need to allow at least three months for this process.

Conclusion

The arrangements around auto-enrolment are complicated. It’s important to make sure you understand the implications for your business, cost out the options, and leave yourself enough time to make alternative arrangements if necessary. This could involve extensive consultations with your employees or their representatives. So it’s worth starting your planning now to allow enough time to make a well-considered choice.

Need help?

Clover 1062 292x300 The Next Big Change in PensionsThe author of this post is an experienced Finance Director and Consultant and can help you to

  • Identify your Staging Date
  • Establish whether your current pension arrangements will meet the criteria of the Pensions Regulator after your staging date
  • Project the annual cost
  • Cost out some alternatives
  • Explain pensions to your staff

Melanie Digney at Tailored HR Limited is an HR professional who can help you

  • Explain and communicate the pension scheme’s details to all your staff
  • Consult with your employees about pension arrangements or arrange individual staff meetings with the scheme provider at your office to set up the scheme.
  • Put arrangements in place for employees who wish to opt out
  • Change your induction processes to reflect auto-enrolment
  • Provide advice on Employment Law

Antony Moyes of Moyes Financial Planning Limited is an Independent Financial Adviser authorised by the FCA to advise on pensions. He can

  • Help you select a pension plan
  • Advise your employees on investment options within the plan
  • Establish whether your current pension arrangements will meet the criteria of the Pensions Regulator after your staging date
  • Explain pensions to your staff
  • Register your pension scheme with the Pensions Regulator

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

Well it really depends on what you mean by paid.

Remuneration

j0438570 200x300 Charity Trustees cant be paid.  Right?It is true that a Trustee can not be paid for the time and skills committed to assisting the charity.  This is to prevent conflicts of interest when a Trustees personal decisions are not necessarily in line with those of the charity, and ensures that the charity sector doesn’t ruin the trust it has built with the public with media stories of fat cat bonuses, like the banking sector are still trying to shrug off.

Expenses

129603689 13419180e3 m Charity Trustees cant be paid.  Right?A Trustee should not however, be out of pocket.  It is one thing to donate your time, thoughts and energy to the cause, but to be financially worse off as a result is recognised by the Sector, after all attracting highly skilled people to take on the time commitment and huge responsibility of Trusteeship is difficult enough.

It is therefore considered acceptable to reimburse such as travel to Trustees meetings and specifically identifiable telephone call charges.

It is imperative however that the governing document (usually a Memorandum and Articles of Association, a Trust Deed or a Constitution) allows this.  Many of these documents have not been revised since the origin of the charity and more often than not prohibit any payment of charity funds to Trustees.

If expenses are allowed then Trustees should be careful to ensure adequate controls have been designed and fully implemented so that their governance of charitable funds is not questioned.  Your auditor should be able to advise whether the systems in place constitute “adequate controls”.

Services

In the Charities Act 2011 which was implemented in phases between 2006 and 2011, it was acknowledged that in some circumstances it is perfectly logical and commercial for a Trustee to tender for work to be carried out for the charity.  For example, if a surveyor was a partner in a Chartered firm and a Trustee, it would be nonsense to engage the services of a different firm to offer advice regarding properties held, when the Trustee already knows the objectives of the charity, the opinions of the Trustees and the properties involved. He may even offer his professional services at a preferential rate.

Once again the Governing document may prohibit this, but assuming it doesn’t, the board must ensure that they are using charitable resources in the most effective manner and the Trustee in question must be removed from any decision making process in respect of his firm’s appointment.

Regulation

This is bound to be a focus point of Charity Commission scrutiny, so make sure you read the guidance on their website and liaise with your auditor before considering this.

It is also possible to obtain the Commission’s approval, which I would recommend if the amounts involved are substantial or relate to non-commercial circumstances such as compensation for loss of earning because the Trustee was required to attend a meeting.

The Commission also has the power to override the governing document, which may be useful if time does not allow for the document to be amended and approved.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

On the 3rd of August 2012, 7-9pm there will be a pamper event at The Hub, Cambourne.

 This is a chance for you to come and find out what is available in your local area as well as learn lots and treat yourself.

2404416901 73009b9e95 m support local business AND pamper yourself!There will be…

  • Beauty therapists talking about waxing, threading, minx eyelash extensions, nail extensions, manicures and pedicures
  • Hair stylists
  • Spray tanning specialists
  • Photographers
  • Make up artists
  • Stalls selling handmade bags and Pandora style charms
  • Weight management and nutritional advice
  • Skin and hair care advice including free treatments

……And much, much more!

We will be offering drinks and nibbles and a raffle to win a  range of treatments and products from people advertising there businesses

185187947 0f8f79afaf m support local business AND pamper yourself!Hunter’s Health & Wealth will be there with plenty of products for you to try without obligation to buy, endless advice regarding skin complaints, digestive disorders and many other conditions that can be eased with good nutrition and skin care – and a FREE PRIZE DRAW.

Please spread the word, come along and bring your friends…

For more information or to book a promotional table for your business contact Kate on 07584322025.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.