Archive for the ‘Business Support’ Category

by guest blogger, Nigel White. MD of Web2Market.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently released new guidelines for Cookie Compliance which affects UK website owners and is based on a new EU directive.

I wonder how many of us even know if cookies are used on our website(s)?

What does the law say?

One little back door to HellSome of the points within the guidelines will mean as website owners, you will need to make changes to your website, to avoid the risk of prosecution.

I won’t go though all the guidelines here, you may well nod off, but the main point is that the responsibility for educating users about cookies and how they are used on your website has been devolved to.

This will include informing users about your and 3rd party cookies should your site be using them (e.g. Google Analytics).  This legislation is to be enforced from May 2012.  It is actually a legal requirement already but we are in a grace period.

Ashley Freidlein from Econsultancy summarises some key points in his article Cookie Compliance or you can read the full guidelines from the ICO here who you will see ask for cookie approval already.

365.121 - Anzac Biscuits

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a small text file that a website may put onto the visitor’s computer to “mark” that visitor.

The website may want to mark the visitor for a variety of reasons.

Examples may be to track a user’s basket as they shop or a retain a user’s website preferences.

How are other people complying with the legislation?

For an example of compliance, you can look at the Information Commissioner’s Office website.  At the top of the page you will see the Cookie notice that they have constructed and installed.

How do you know if your site uses cookies?

It is not immediately obvious if a website uses cookies to work effectively.

Cookies are very frequently used for a variety of situations including, but not limited to, remembering a log-in password and managing a shopping basket. I would recommend carrying out a cookie audit to answer this question.

What should you do now?

To get on the right side of the law, you should find out what cookies are being used on your website by carrying out an audit. We can do that for you – I would estimate an hour’s work.  Once you know what cookies are on the site (if any), we can help you formulate a plan for informing the user of their purpose and possibly allowing the user to opt out.

If there are no cookies on your website, we will not charge for the audit! If you’re still confused about cookies, please call me for a nice explanation 😉  If you would like to request an audit, please let me know.

Best Regards, Nigel White

01480 878510

 

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.

remember to thank all the books you haven´t read over the past three yearsIt is obvious that the more skills and knowledge you have the better, but is it really that important to engage in academia?   After all there are many “uneducated” muliti-millionaire business entrepreneurs in the world.

This is what Arron Stevens of Degree Jungle thinks.

 

Business ownership comes with a steep price including time, money and effort.

Many small business owners lose in the race to compete in an industry because they lack the proper training, experience and/or accountability to create a competitive advantage.

Entrepreneurs in College

College is the basis for discovering your personality, passions and opportunities in your studies.

Details for a business idea often begin and are acquired from involvement in work internships and experience in a chosen field while in school.

Based on research data, if the business owner receives proper training, he or she will have the knowledge to plan each step for starting and developing a business.

Reasons to Take A Step Back

Owning a business is a part of the many people’s dream, but it’s also a reality check if you’re not ready.  Your business deserves careful thought and demands leadership, expertise and knowledge of industry expectations.

A business degree from today’s colleges works towards enhancing the workforce’s capabilities to explore ideas, develop plans and execute profitable, worthy companies. You may think your plan is the best in the league, but are you ready to face the heat of entrepreneurship?

Tell the Truth

Do you know the history of business? Are you familiar with business laws, accounting principles, tax regulations and human resource management?

If not, your business and workforce may waste time, resources and intellectual capital in solving business problems.  A business degree gives you an edge in solving problems, developing a vision and acquiring skills necessary to achieve your goals.

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

Just Full Of IdeasIf you own a business now, you may need to consider a degree to increase your competitiveness.

You will learn the outline of business operations, how to work efficiently and effectively; you also develop the proper critical thinking skills to evaluate opportunities the right way – your way, with a twist.

Get ahead of your competition

Skills learned in the classroom can be applied to your actual business ideas, plans and current position in the markets.

Think about it. Whatever you knew two years ago may no longer apply in today’s business world.

The knowledge, skills and education behind business ownership is changing as time progresses; consider earning your degree to get started on beating out the competition today.

Guest Author: Arron Stevens is a professional blogger and business coach.

His goal is to help entrepreneurs achieve business success.

Please direct any questions regarding Degree Jungle to Henry Thompson

 

 

What’s your view?

As many of you know, I left school with average GCSE grades, so it was a good job I didn’t have any inclination to go to University!  However, I do believe in continuous education and personal development, being as efficient as you can and distinguishing yourself from “the rest”.  I have devoted a significant part of my adult life learning from others and from various forms of education and can with out a doubt say that I would not have achieved many of the personal and business goals that I am so proud of, without that investment.

What do you think?

Let´s Fly!Welcome to 2012!  I hope you have all had a well earned rest and have recharged your batteries in anticipation of a successful year ahead.

Everyone knows that “to fail to plan, is to plan to fail” and you should have by now reflected on your performance of last year and be making formal written plans for what you need to achieve this year to take a significant step towards, if not achieve your personal and business goals.

Whilst reviewing some social media posts at the tail end of last year, I came across the following message from John Hall of Enstrata and felt compelled to share it with you.

Do you share these Twelve Business Resolutions?

Here is a list generated at a ‘coffee’ conversation on business resolutions for 2012.

Could these be useful to forming your own resolutions?

The list below is not a complete list, and, as you may note, a couple will not be widely shared.

I have recorded them here in a general form. All you need to do is choose any appropriate ones and make them specific to your circumstances. Then add any others of your own.

The resolutions were of the form  ‘By the end of 2012 I will have…’

1)     Improved financial management and control.

2)     Gained more customers and…

3)     Improved how we gain new customers (social media etc).

4)     Talked to more customers about what they think of my / our business.

5)     Improved Business resilience to shocks (e.g. illness, core knowledge disappearing).

6)     Attacked wasted time as well as wasted money.

7)     Understood Corporate Social Responsibility and be able to explain what my business is doing about it.

8)     Personally shared more problems with trusted peers who can help.

9)     Improved utilisation of technology.

10)   Invested more time in acknowledging employee’s contribution.

11)   Learned some management methods to make life easier

12)   Gained a better work life balance.

Action required

At the coffee morning, we all recognised that this is a bit of a wish list. The feeling was that unless you identified problem areas, and acknowledged you needed to do something, you would not actively set about changing the status quo.

Then someone said that the same things appear on their wish list year after year……

The conversation moved on to why many business resolutions and personal resolutions fail.

Telephone contact 0845 226 7673 or 01223 846351

Email johnhall@enstrata.co.uk   Website – www.enstrata.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.

A value proposition is the entire set of resulting experiences from which your customer derives value from what you.  A good value proposition will have an enormous number of elements, or individual value outcomes.  The more you have, the easier it is to promote your offering in a compelling way.

High Value!Synergy

It is not unreasonable to suggest you need to identify at least 50, and likely up to 100 different things that your customers will find of great comfort and value if they buy from you.  Some elements of what you do may be inferior to similar elements in other suppliers’ offerings, but it is the overall package that wins.

Focus on customer experiences

Beware of the tendency to focus on internal stuff that’s of no consequence to the customer.  Customer experiences generally revolve around Quality, Price, Service and ‘Intellectual Capital’.  Social Capital – the value in your customers, suppliers, vendors, networks, referral sources, alumni groups, joint ventures, alliance partners, professional bodies, reputation and so on – is the least exploited form of Intellectual Capital, yet is the most highly valued by customers.

Communicate Value

By  emphasising total quality service and transformation, you offer a superior value proposition.  But please, don’t embellish the truth.  Don’t kid yourself that things your customers expect to be able to take for granted will be compelling differentiators.  No one expects ‘poor’ quality  or ‘lousy’ service!

In summary….

Communicate value outcomes with numbers, free  information, rapid results, and exclusive viewpoints all served up in easily digestible bite-size chunks.

Customers actually aren’t price sensitive –  They’re value conscious!

Signature
David Winch

david@davidwinch.co.uk

Guest Author:  David Winch works with professional service providers to help them overcome their fear of selling and to get paid what they’re worth.

Steve Jobs and Bill GatesOn Thursday we heard the news that Steve Jobs died.

He was an incredible businessman, building not just Apple into a huge success, but also Pixar Studios, the creators of Toy Story.

Jobs said that his “goal was to put a dent in the universe, to make a mark in history”

He’s achieved that.  But how he achieved it is worth studying.

 

Apple don’t invent products…

…they figure out how to make products that people will love.

iApple PlanetPod was not the first mp3.  Sony, Creative and a few others created the market before Apple dominated.

iPhone was not the first smart phone.  Yet Palm, Blackberry and Nokia have all suffered through Apple’s innovation.

iPad was not the first tablet computer – Microsoft announced one around 2002, yet it took Apple to make it brilliant.

Apple create a fabulous user experience.  They do this so successfully that they have created a cult following for their products.  People even left flowers at Apple stores worldwide in memory of Jobs – that’s real customer loyalty.

Building Customer Loyalty

Practically every business owner I speak to tells me that their service is what makes them special.  But when asked what in their service that makes them special, they don’t know.

Domino’s let you track the progress of your pizza order online, with each step in the cooking of your dinner indicated by blocks that change colour on screen. It looks very cool and my 10yr old daughter loves it.  This will help them to keep their number 1 in the pizza takeaway business. It is also one of several deliberate innovations that make ordering pizza online from Domino’s a great customer experience. It is so easy to order exactly what you want that we choose Domino’s over other takeaway foods more often.  Like Apple’s products, it’s a joy to use.

Little innovations like this help your customers to be delighted with your service.  It keeps them loyal and your business profitable.

Look for ways to put your business to the front of the queue.  Make little improvements that mark you out from your competition.  Steal ideas from other industries.  But above all, do things that make your customers love you.

Make a dent in the universe.

Warm regards,

Lee Duncan
Tel: 0800 206 2216
Email: lee@leeduncan.com
http://www.leeduncan.com

 

Relevant reading:  Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple & Pixar June 2005 “You’ve got to find what you love

 

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.

 

Local firm Aspire Recruitment Solutions reports that the REC says “Increased uptake is positive but more apprenticeships are needed to meet youth employment challenge”

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has welcomed positive data on the overall uptake of apprenticeships whilst underlining the need to ensure that they provide a genuine route into employments as well as a means of up-skilling existing staff.

The latest figures

Show that over 250,000 apprenticeships have been created in the 2010/2011 financial year, which exceeds the Coalition Government’s targets.  However, this includes a big increase in short-term apprenticeships – often taken up by those already in employment.  Furthermore, a greater number of these positions have gone to the over 25’s, raising concerns about whether the Government is responding effectively to the UK’s youth unemployment crisis.

Need to accelerate use of apprenticeships

Commenting on this, Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Professional Development at the REC said;

“The latest data shows some encouraging trends in terms of the overall take-up and progress has also been made in terms of positioning apprenticeships as a credible alternative to university. However, we need to accelerate the use of apprenticeships as a genuine route into the work of work for young job-seekers.”

This was one of the key recommendations of the REC’s Youth Employment Taskforce and the latest statistics do not mask the need for sustained Government action in this area. The recruitment industry can play its part by developing apprenticeships within the sector, and by raising awareness amongst clients and candidates.

 New batch of school leavers will flood the employment market

Writing Exams“With thousands of A-level students leaving school at this time of year, it is increasingly clear that young people require targeted, focused assistance. This includes practical guidance on the benefits of apprenticeships and on the sectors where job opportunities are most likely to exist both now and in the future. As well as continuing to actively promote the apprenticeship route, the Government must commit to establishing a careers guidance network that is fit for purpose.” (Taken from the REC website- 15th August 2011)

For more information/advice please contact the friendly team at Aspire on 01954 253440

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.

Drowning under a mountain of paperWith 2011 more that half way through, how is your business performing?

 

Here are twelve tips to act an aid-memoire when trying to stay in control of your business:

  1. If you are not producing regular management accounts, consider what financial information can be easily extracted from your accounting system to help you monitor the business. You can only extract meaningful information if your records are up to date and accurate.
  2. If you are selling a product, make sure you know your break even sales volume – this could be higher than you realise, particularly with pressure on prices.  What level of waste are you experiencing?  Are you carrying too much stock?
  3. If selling a service, check how many hours of time you are invoicing out a month – how much of it is resulting in billable income?   Are you charging at the right levels?  Are you competitive without being cheap?
  4. Project Management PlanRevisit your business forecasts and cash flow projections for the coming 12 months on a regular basis – are they still realistic in the current climate?  What costs can be trimmed back?
  5. If cutting costs, make sure you know which of your costs are fixed and which are variable.
  6. What can you delegate/outsource so that you can devote more of your time to looking after key clients and driving the busimess?
  7. A big, bad debt can be disastrous for business, so make sure you monitor your debtors carefully.  Keep in regular contact, resolve disputes quickly and discuss options at an early stage if they are having difficulties.  A debtor making round sum payments on account is often a warning sign.  Consider credit checking businesses that do not have any history with you.
  8. Look after your purchase ledger with as much care as your sales ledger.  Good suppliers are key to you being able to deliver to your customers, keeping prices down and an essential source of credit when managing cash flow.
  9. Make sure you have up to date information to hand when requesting a renewal or increase in your banking facilities and keep your bank manager informed of changes to the business and its performance.
  10. Check that the financial structure of your business is correct.  If you are relying on short term finance for long term projects then you need to get the balance right.  What assets do you have to secure more cost effective commercial finance?
  11. Income taxGet your tax affairs up to date and make sure you have provided for payments due in January and July as well as Corporation Tax due nine months after the accounting period if trading through a Company.  This is just as important if profitability has declined as you may be able to reduce any payments on account that fall due.
  12. Check you are using the most effective VAT scheme.  If you have a large sales ledger, cash accounting may be more appropriate.  Have you calculated whether the flat rate scheme results in less VAT being paid over to HMRC?

 

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.

 

Clients often ask us “what is the best way to buy a vehicle?”  If they plan to use it in their business, should they own it personally? Should they buy it through the business? Should they lease it? The list of questions is endless and many of the answers will depend upon your particular situation and requirements but beware getting it wrong could prove costly in terms of time and money.

Your options

Martin Bessell from Midland Autolease Contracts says “The type and terms of your finance will be dictated by your circumstances, if you require a mid range car for business use this often lends itself to Lease purchase or Hire purchase.  An executive car which is mainly used for private use will often be better bought outside the business, so a personal contract purchase should be considered. If you simply need a reliable car for a short period leasing may be the answer, but talk to your accountant about each type they may have a better solution”

Taxation

1959 Porsche 356A Carrera GS CabrioletThe tax position regarding the purchase of your vehicle can be quite complex.

Firstly you will need to consider the VAT position. Generally you can not claim VAT on the purchase price but may be able to claim a proportion of the VAT on lease costs, this is providing it is a car you are purchasing. If the vehicle is a van different rules apply, and the debate as to what is a car and what is a van is not something I wish to discuss here!

You will also need to consider the costs that you can deduct in arriving at your taxable business profit. The rules on both Capital Allowances and Lease rental deductions changed significantly in the last budget and many clients are now taking a more serious look at leasing.

Finally don’t forget if a vehicle is provided as a company car there will be PAYE and National Insurance arising from the benefit.

Get advice

The important aspect is to seek advice when buying a vehicle don’t just be blinded by that shiny new car.  Make the right commercial decision for you and your business, search the market and then present the facts to your accountant who will crunch the numbers and tell you what the tax consequence will be.  HAPPY SHOPPING 😀

 

Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

For more business news updates like this, please subscribe to my monthly business support newsletters using the “join my lists”  widget in the top right of your screen.  Thank you.

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.

If you think Disaster Recovery procedures are a waste of time or too expensive for small businesses, think again.  Fellow Business Club, Cambridge member Neil from Safebox explains that simple and cost effective solutions are available.

It’s not going to happen to me…

3D Character and ChanceIf you see in the press that a company has burnt down or flooded, let’s be honest, the reaction is “poor things” for about a nanosecond then it’s back to work.  How many of us carry on regardless thinking, well that’ll never happen to me.  You’re right, it probably won’t but let me ask you this, do you buy a lottery ticket?  I’ll assume that the majority of us do and ask you to think about why you buy one, apart from the obvious potential of getting showered in millions of pounds.

“Because you never know, it might be me –  someone has to, don’t they?”

Protect your business; take disaster recovery planning seriously

Your business affords you your current lifestyle and if you suffered a total data loss for whatever reason, that lifestyle is immediately snatched away from you. This will affect sole traders, SME’s through to multi nationals, not to mention the regulatory bodies and frustrated customers and creditors that start banging on your door. Disaster recovery planning is an essential part of your business continuity and needs to be taken seriously.

A price to pay for piece of mind?

One solution is to store a Disaster Recovery Box which will contain everything you need to “get going” after a data loss, speak to us and we’ll be happy to quote, but it will be a lot less than you think.  Certainly less than the cost of replacing the data you’ve lost!  Storing in the region of 50 archive boxes for just £35.00 plus VAT per month.

Fancy your chances?

But if you don’t plan against the unknown, don’t worry, Saturday’s a rollover and you’ve got that ticket in the kitchen drawer!

 Safebox:  Your information is our business.

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.

Obviously, we all network to build a contact database in the hope of developing relationships that create business leads, but for those of us who are commited to business networking, both online and offline, the benefits are multi-faceted.

When I look back over the last ten years and reflect, I am amazed a how much I have changed as a person as a result of my networking experiences.

Skills

By rolling up my sleeves and getting involved, I have learned many skills that my retail training and professional accountancy training could not have taught me.  These include;

  1. creating, organising, promoting and hosting events
  2. managing a team, including chairing a committee of volunteers
  3. opportunities to work in the charity sector, which have since been a significant part of gaining my Diploma in Charity Accounting
  4. many different forms of marketing, communication and negotiation skills
  5. and of course – blogging and social media techniques.

Friends

The number of great friends I have acquired as a result of networking moves me.  Friends that I can pick up the ‘phone to, banter with on Twitter, share books with, ask both personal and business advice or simply meet for a cuppa whilst our children play.

So the second half of my “10 ways” is devoted to paying homage to them as a small token of my appreciation.

  1. Mervyn Foster.  Looked after me like a surrogate father in the early days of my time on the HBN committee; partnered with me when hosting The Missing Link in Cambridgeshire; “bullied me” into attending Toastmasters and is often my chaparone to networking events allowing me to chew of his ear in the car!  A life-long friend and trusted counsel.
  2. Julie Buck.  Another HBNer that has had a significant impact on my life.  Her passion for business and helping others to be healthy and successful is infectious, and as a result Hunters’ Health was conceived.  She is a great leader, and like Mervyn someone I can confide in.
  3. Heather Townsend.  A more recent addition to my networking circle, Heather was one of my first Twitterbuddies.  Her no-nonsense approach to business and love of networking drew my attention.  We now chat for hours on social media about business and personal issues. She is now an accomplished author as well as a successful coach, I am proud to know her.
  4. Other Twitterbuddies and Bloggers that deserve a shout out: Helen Stothard, Katherine Connolly, Maxine Welford, Darren Leighfield, Jim Connolly.  Thank you for your support, entertainment and generosity.

Number 10

And finally, it has to be said that the biggest benefit that networking has given me other than an amazing Linked In, Twitter and Facebook contact list, is BELIEF.

My networking experiences have helped me to become the person I am today by developing my confidence and helping me to enjoy my work, knowing that I add value to my clients business.

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.