Startups

Legal Consideration For Tech Start-Ups – Navigating The Legal Minefield

Legal Consideration For Tech Start-Ups – Navigating The Legal Minefield

Setting up any kind of business requires careful navigation through a legal minefield! Yes, that sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? And it should because setting up a business isn’t
How To Grow Your Local Business Online

How To Grow Your Local Business Online

The Benefits of Running an Online Business

The Benefits of Running an Online Business

The business impact of your startup office

The business impact of your startup office

The 8 best ways to empower you team

The 8 best ways to empower you team

Business Advice

Legal Consideration For Tech Start-Ups – Navigating The Legal Minefield

Legal Consideration For Tech Start-Ups – Navigating The Legal Minefield

Setting up any kind of business requires careful navigation through a legal minefield! Yes, that sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? And it should because setting up a business isn’t
How To Grow Your Local Business Online

How To Grow Your Local Business Online

The Benefits of Running an Online Business

The Benefits of Running an Online Business

Tax back – your guide to getting quick rebates

Tax back – your guide to getting quick rebates

The business impact of your startup office

The business impact of your startup office

Psychology hacks to boost business productivity

Psychology hacks to boost business productivity

Latest Posts

How small businesses can ensure customer loyalty

Blog10 - How small businesses can ensure customer loyalty

If you’ve got a small or medium sized business it’s likely that you know quite how hard it can be to go from having a blank order book to having a database full of customers. Everything from the finding the perfect hosting for your new website to sales and marketing can be hard – but it should get easier. Why? Because each of those customers in your CRM or database should be coming back for more!

They’ve responded to your marketing, they’ve gone through the sales process, they’ve given you money!

Sadly, many businesses neglect the very customers they’ve spent time and money finding – meaning they’re released again into the wild… good news for you, you get to make them your customer, then keep them by ensuring you do the following:

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Communicate on their terms

There are countless ways to keep in touch with customers – and everyone’s got a favourite. For every person who’s keen on accessing ‘live chat’ on your website, there’s another who will be frustrated if there’s no phone number to call. Try to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered and make them all known – that way you can be sure you’re leaving no customer wanting.

Provide perks for coming back

If you have a loyalty card at a supermarket you’ll know the sheer weight of vouchers and coupons you get handed to you, in the post, emailed… and so forth. Supermarkets are always looking to keep their customers, and we can learn a thing or two from them. Offer incentives on next orders and make sure your customers know – people love to save money, whether it’s theirs or on behalf of their business.customer2 - How small businesses can ensure customer loyalty

Find out how they want to pay

“No, let’s go somewhere else, they only accept cash” – If you’re the type of person who prefers to use their credit or debit card, you’ve probably said this more than a few times. Just like ways of communicating, people like to know they can pay in a way that suits them – and there are a lot of ways! Cash, card, cheque, bank transfer, direct debit, recurring card payment, PayPal – to name just a few. Making sure you’re equipped to take a customer’s money is the key to being able to keep taking it in the future!

Tell people what you’re doing for them

If you’re bending over backwards behind the scenes then let your customers know! You don’t have to express your discomfort, enormous working hours or how you’ve missed your child’s sports day on their behalf – but letting people know you’re going the extra mile is really important. People often aren’t aware how good your product or service is until they’ve gone somewhere else – by which time it’s too late.

Offer great service

You should have planned provision in place for offering good service, no matter what your business is. Are you a coffee shop? A smile and quick efficient service are key. Whether your a large enterprise or a local company that provides pools such as willshapools.com Lose the jargon, offer great solutions and stick to your timescales. Whatever you do, there are a few simple steps that people want from you – and they’re crucial, because it’s likely that no one’s ever going to give you a second chance if your service is poor. In the UK, studies show consumers are more likely to vote with their wallets then almost anywhere else in the world.

There’s no replacement for the human touch

Customers love using machines and automated services for convenience – the proof can be found by looking at how much Amazon is worth – but when it comes to service, consumer like to know they’re dealing with a real person who understands them. When was the last time you had a real person give you an update on your sales order? When did you last get a handwritten thank you note after using a small business? These are the things that stick in people’s minds – exactly where you want to be when they’re looking to spend money again…

Customer birthdays and occasions

There are any number of reasons that companies might want to take your date of birth as part of a registration, security or age verification process – but how many of them remember it when it matters? This is something that Facebook does extremely well, it collects your dates and occasions then helps you revisit them – do you remember what you were doing 4 years ago today? Facebook does, and it’s probably shown you this morning – part of the reason you keep going back.

Perhaps you could celebrate the birthday of the product you sold your customer? It’s a nice touch, keeps you fresh in a person’s mind and gives the impression you’re genuinely aware of what’s happening for them.

customer - How small businesses can ensure customer loyaltyOffer referral incentives

People love to recommend – so give them a reason to recommend you. If that reason is a discount when they next order that’s fine, but a great reward is something they don’t have to spend with you. If you’re selling a product or service with a big margin, why not send flowers, chocolates or some other small gift to say ‘thank you for sending another customer our way’. Imagine if you could ditch your marketing budget and just send flowers for every new customer you had sent your way? – Look after people and you can!

Refer customers yourself

If you’re in communication with your customers and find yourself unable to provide a product or service they ask you for – why not make an onward referral yourself? It shows a real care for the customer you’re dealing with, especially since they perceive you get no financial gain from the recommendation – you don’t, but you’ve just won the admiration and loyalty of a customer by doing so!

Be the authority in your marketplace

If you can provide information that surpasses all other information that’s out there on your chosen industry, product or service – you’re onto a winner. It’s the information age – so arm yourself with the best information and customers will keep coming back, certain that you’re the people to point them in the right direction when it comes to finding the right product in your field – and don’t worry, you’re a business, no one said you had to be impartial…

Legal Consideration For Tech Start-Ups – Navigating The Legal Minefield

2560 - Legal Consideration For Tech Start-Ups – Navigating The Legal Minefield

Setting up any kind of business requires careful navigation through a legal minefield! Yes, that sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it? And it should because setting up a business isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everyone.

The term minefield is very apt as well because one false step could end up in a big mess of legal problems. Of course, that is the worse case scenario some mistakes are easy to correct, and you shouldn’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from setting up your business.

However, we can help you navigate the minefield there is a lot of red tape entrepreneurs need to cross in order to set-up their business and it’s in these first few steps where many entrepreneurs struggle. But getting through these legal hurdles is easier than you think and there is help and support available as well.

According to Jones Whyte a Glasgow solicitors there are many important legal obligations that entrepreneurs need to know about but let’s get straight down to the fundamentals. One area where many entrepreneurs struggle is that they don’t know what legal responsibilities they have to fulfill. 

When it comes to setting up your business you have many options, for tech start-ups, things like non-disclosure agreements are going to be very important but they aren’t legal requirements for setting up your business. Likewise, many businesses will want to trademark their business name and domain but again this isn’t something you need to do either.

So, to help make your first steps as an entrepreneur easier we are just focusing on the legal requirements you have to meet before you set-up your business. This can be broken down into four main categories and these are the main legal considerations all tech entrepreneurs will need to meet before they can set-up their business.

The Business Structure

The first legal concern of any entrepreneur is how they are going to set-up their business. Depending on the structure you choose you will have different legal considerations you’ll need to meet. You will have three main options when setting up your business namely a limited company, sole trader or an established partnership.

Sole traders require no formal registration but there is a lot more personal risk involved, a limited company will need a share agreement set up and a partnership will need a written partnership agreement. Each business structure has its benefits and disadvantages so you’ll need to think very carefully before deciding which structure is best for your tech start-up.

A Business Licence

The second legal concern will you need to deal with is the matter of a licence, so do you need a licence to set-up your business? Thankfully tech start-up businesses will likely not need to bother with this step as it’s unlikely they will need a licence.

Licences are usually only required for businesses in industries like catering or hospitality. However, if you are dealing with some form of hazardous materials then you may need to apply for a licence as well.

This is uncommon for tech start-ups but in some cases, you may be working with potentially harmful materials so in some cases a licence may be needed. 

The Importance of Health and Safety

For our third legal consideration, it’s the always important health and safety! Health and safety as an unusual reputation in the UK but despite its reputation with many people, it’s a very important part of setting up your business.

And while the tech industry might not seem like the most dangerous industry at first glance it usually will require working with electronics and sometimes even potentially harmful materials. It is also very important when setting up your business that you are aware of your health and safety responsibilities.

Business owners have a responsibility for ensuring the proper care of anyone who might be affected by their business. This isn’t limited to just your employees either but also to members of the public and any visitors. So, what must you do to ensure you are legally covered for health and safety?

First of all, you must carry out risk assessments in your business premises to identify any potential risks that could develop during the course of your business. Hazards can take many forms and as an employer, you are responsible for ensuring these risks are managed.

There is a wide range of ways this can be accomplished, and you will need to set-up a health and safety code of practice as well. Health and safety also require constant vigilance especially in an industry like technology which is forever evolving. 

Insurance Requirements

Insurance is notoriously tricky especially since it isn’t always something that you actually need, sometimes it can be optional. So, what does your business need when it comes to insurance then? Well first of all if you are going to employ people (and most tech companies will need to at some point) then you will need employer’s liability insurance.

If you are uninsured and have employees, then you will be fined for each day your business operated without insurance. This can add up very quickly, and you may also be liable to compensation claims from employees if they have suffered harm while you have been uninsured.

Other covers like public liability are valuable but they are not mandatory however that doesn’t mean your business shouldn’t invest in them. While it isn’t technically insurance another area you need to consider is the VAT.

If your business turnover is greater than the current registration threshold (remember this changes) then you will be legally required to register for VAT. If you fail to do so then you will face penalty charges and if you want to you can also voluntarily register for VAT even if you don’t meet the current threshold.

So, that’s an outline of the four main legal considerations all tech start-up businesses will be responsible for. By ensuring you tackle these four considerations first you’ll make the rest of the process of setting up your business much easier and simpler.

How to Purchase Bitcoin – A Beginners Guide

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With Bitcoin becoming one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world, it should come as no surprise that more and more people want a slice of the pie. There can be several different reasons as to why a person would want to purchase Bitcoin, and there are many different ways to purchase Bitcoin. Whether you’re looking to invest for the long-term, or you just want to switch over to a currency that offers more features than more conventional payment methods, then there are some steps you need to take to ensure that you’re purchasing Bitcoin in the right way.

An Overview of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a digital currency, so there is no physical money. Instead, the currency is kept in virtual wallets. These wallets can differ. An online wallet is often referred to as a paper wallet and is one of the cheaper solutions when it comes to storing Bitcoins. If you’re looking for something a little more robust, then you can invest in a hardware wallet, which is effectively a physical storage device designed especially for Bitcoins.

It’s important that you have somewhere to store your currency, otherwise, you could end up risking losing your currency if you just leave it in exchange. While not a frequent occurrence, there can be times when certain providers go out of business, meaning that you have no access to the currency you have invested. Ensuring you have somewhere to store your Bitcoin just gives users an additional layer of protection.

Purchasing Bitcoin

One of the most popular platforms for purchasing Bitcoin is an exchange. There are many options available online, so it’s really a case of finding what works for yourself. If this is your first foray into the world of Bitcoin, then you will need to create an account on one of the available exchanges such as coinbase, for more information read this Coinbase review. This normally involves stating your name and email address, although different platforms may ask for different information.

Once you have finished setting up your account, you will then need to add a bank account. This is because you will need to purchase Bitcoin with you fiat tender, and then have it converted. It works in a similar way to foreign exchange. If you don’t want to add your bank account, then there may be other options available, such as adding your credit or debit card.

If you’re new to a particular platform, then it’s likely you will have limits set on your account when it comes to purchasing Bitcoin. However, these limits normally increase once you have become a verified member.

The price you pay for your Bitcoin will vary, but in most instances, the platform you use will give you the amount of Bitcoin you will receive for your fiat tender before the purchase is made.

Getting Paid in Bitcoin

If you’d rather get paid in Bitcoin, then this is also a possibility. While there are many merchants who use the cryptocurrency for their business, it won’t always be the case that they can pay you in Bitcoin. Of course, there will be those who can, but this is likely to be a very small demographic, so we need to look at a solution that’s going to serve us well moving forward.

There are companies available who will provide you with a basic bank account for your wages to be paid into. These details are then passed onto your employer, and the details will be similar to that fo a generic bank account. However, the main difference here is that the company will transfer the funds into Bitcoin, and automatically send the payment to your wallet,

You may ask yourself why you can’t just carry out the purchase yourself. The service is set up for those who work, and often means that they’re not subjected to the same fees that someone making a one-off purchase would be. It’s always worth doing your research to ensure that a particular solution is going to serve your purpose, but if you’re looking for a reliable and easy way to convert currency into Bitcoin, then this is an avenue worth investigating.

Purchasing Bitcoin Offline

This is one of the least popular methods, as there can be some risk involved. However, if you’re able to safeguard yourself, then you could find some bargains. There are several platforms that look to match up those selling Bitcoin with those wishing to make a purchase. Rather than carrying out the transaction online, the seller and buyer may wish to meet up to discuss the matter in more detail. While this is great for some, it can also be a breeding ground for the more unsavory, so we need to ensure we have our wits about us.

Treat the transaction like you would when meeting any other stranger in public. Ensure you choose a public place, let people know of your whereabouts and if possible, take a friend along with you.

This may all sound a little worrying, but it’s simply a case of being safe than sorry. Unfortunately, we’re not able to vet anyone before we meet up with them, so we need to remain cautious when it comes to money and strangers.

There are many avenues available when it comes to obtaining Bitcoin, it’s simply a case of finding what works for us. However, before making any transactions, it can be a good idea to become familiar with the currency as well as the way it is used.

Buying Cryptocurrencies – Where to Begin

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Are you tempted by the prospect of buying Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies?

Would you like to take chance and uncertainty out of the equation?

We can help!

Forget about the reviews that tell you every site, wallet or currency is the next big thing – we’ve done it, so we can show you how. In doing so, we’ll help you avoid spending money you don’t have to, give you advice on how to keep your currency secure – and help you watch your crypto wallet swell in size…

What are cryptocurrencies?

A cryptocurrency is a type of digital money – the most well known of which is Bitcoin, although many others exist. These cryptocurrencies are generally based around what’s known as a ‘decentralised ledger’ – a way of operating that removes power from any individual, government or company who would want to control the currency.

To do this, each transaction is logged, then shared with every other copy of the ledger that exists. Because every transaction can be traced back to the very beginning of the currency, it means every value and transaction can be verified against the information that already exists. Only when a transaction is ‘verified’ is it officially complete – hence, the currency is referred to as a ‘consensus’ currency.

This verification process isn’t simple though – and the network of supercomputers that do it are rewarded with Bitcoins for doing the job (referred to as ‘mining’) – growing the currency in the process.

Why bother?

With financial systems already in place throughout the world, people often want to know why more are needed – so it’s worth understanding why Bitcoin and other currencies have been created and grown in popularity.

In a lot of cases the motivation boils down to trust.

Or, more accurately – a lack of trust in governments and financial organisations. Bitcoin was created almost immediately after the worldwide financial crash in 2008 that damaged the reputation of many household banking names.

As an alternative, most cryptocurrencies require no trust whatsoever – no one has more power or insight than anyone else. The ‘middleman’ is a system, a set of rules that ensures everyone is an equal. Against a backdrop of greed and apparent corruption – this looks like a favourable system.

How do I get involved?

We’ll walk you through the process of buying cryptocurrency – using Bitcoin as an example. Although the values of the currency you look at will vary, generally, most brokers us a very similar process whichever you’re buying.

Step #1 – You need a wallet

For any digital currency to work you’ve got to have a wallet that it can be deposited into. A wallet provides a public address for your money to be sent to. They come in 4 different forms:

  • Paper wallets – a printed version of the code that makes your Bitcoin
  • Hardware wallets –  physical device that holds your Bitcoin code
  • Online wallets – often broker provided online software that holds you Bitcoin code
  • Software wallets – A program that’s downloaded to your computer than holds your Bitcoin code

Generally speaking, for ease of use when you’re getting started, most people opt for an online wallet. This is fine for smaller transactions – but the fact that your currency and the codes that make it are kept online mean it’s somewhat more vulnerable to hackers and malware than an ‘offline’ service.

Both ‘paper’ and ‘hardware’ wallets are offline solutions that offer a great level of security. That said, a hardware wallet is far more costly than an online solution – and paper wallets are often viewed as fairly impractical unless you’re planning on safely storing your printed Bitcoin code keys.

Whichever option you choose, security needs to be at the top of your priority list. For online services, setting up 2-factor authentication is essential.

Step #2 – Decide where to buy your currency from

Until you’ve got a multi-million-pound supercomputer that’s capable of doing the exceptionally complex problem solving that’s required to obtain Bitcoin yourself, you’re going to need a broker to sell it to you!

Brokers don’t create Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, they just source it and sell it to you, acting as a transaction middleman of sorts. There are numerous brokers you can use – so we recommend reading an article like this xcoins review – to establish who has a solid reputation in the field.

The registration process can be quite lengthy, you may be required to provide ID and link your bank account to the service. Most cryptocurrencies aren’t anonymous – Bitcoin included – and verifying your ID is an important part of the process.

It’s also worth noting at this stage that many brokers provide an online wallet for you to use as part of their service. Provided you’ve read some reviews to make sure the company is a positive one to work with, this is fine as a starting point, but you might want to take greater control of your currency when you scale your buying or use up.

Step #3 – Buying

When you’re verified with a broker you’ll be able to buy an amount of currency. This is sometimes limited immediately after registration and verification and will be upped to greater limits when you’ve made a series of smaller transactions.

You can expect to enter your credit or debit card details, have money debited from your account – then be left waiting. Don’t panic though, the process of buying Bitcoin can sometimes be held up by the nature of the process – along with the fact that many brokers are making and receiving international card payments.

Step #4 – Cryptocurrency in your account

When the money is credited to your account you’re then the owner of Bitcoin or whichever other currency you opted for. Now you can decide whether to sit on the money and treat it like an investment – or spend it with one of the hundreds of thousands of vendors around the world who accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

The choice is yours – but be aware, even though Bitcoin has send exceptional strong performances vs. other financial investments – any cryptocurrency could fluctuate in value quickly and dramatically – and as such, you should avoid tying up money that you cannot afford to lose…

How To Grow Your Local Business Online

Blog - How To Grow Your Local Business Online

You might love your small local business but let’s be honest with ourselves not many people start a business with the hope that it will stay small, do they? Now you might not want it to grow into a huge multimedia conglomerate, but you’ll still have aspirations for it.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, I’d say that’s the right way to run a business, as long as you’re realistic about your businesses growth potential you’ll be fine right? Well, unfortunately, that’s not exactly true even if you are realistic about your businesses growth potential sometimes it can seem impossible to develop and grow your business.

So, what’s the solution? Unfortunately, there’s no one simple, easy answer to that the internet has given businesses from all industries huge potential for growth but while in the majority of cases it has made it easier for a business to grow that doesn’t mean you’ll know how to utilise it properly.    

The huge variety the internet offers is a great thing but because there are now so many ways to do things it can be very confusing for even experienced business professionals. But we can help you by taking a look at some of the best ways you can grow your local business. So, without further ado let’s explore the methods you have available.

SEO

SEO or search engine optimisation is going to simultaneously be your best friend and your worst nightmare. With high-quality SEO content a small local business can grow at a very fast rate, contrary to popular belief there’s a lot more than just keywords involved with high-quality SEO.

Links, pictures and layout designs all play an important part when it comes to crafting high-quality SEO content and learning everything isn’t easy. Thankfully there are some amazing SEO tools out there that can help you uncover new keywords and strengthen your content.

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This includes programs like SEM Rush and Google Analytics but there’s many to choose from. When it’s done well SEO can open a lot of doors for your business and will give you a much higher spot on the search rankings. We all know the jokes about page 2 on Google, if you’re not on page 1 you might as well be invisible.

While I think that’s a little unfair there is an element of truth to it and your aim should be on page one. But remember knowing all the ins and outs of SEO is important but you need to remember that at the heart of it the content still as to be interesting and well-written. Loading your text with links and keywords doesn’t equal high-quality SEO. 

For more SEO tips and advice click here.

Social Media

Is your business on social media? If not then stop reading right now and go and open up an account whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the others your business should have some sort of social media presence.

Once you’ve got those accounts set-up then comes the tricky part, you have to be able to utilise them effectively and this isn’t as easy as it might sound. Writing a post on Facebook is not the same as writing an email and knowing how best to approach each social media site will take some time.

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But don’t be put off by that you won’t get results straight away but once you’re on social media you can start expanding your online brand and identity. Conversing with customers, dealing with queries and showcasing new products and sales is all so much easier on social media.

If you want your local business to grow then you need some sort of social media presence you don’t have to use them all, in fact, I’d recommend you start small and then gradually add more when you’re ready. Social media is challenging but it can do a lot to help your business grow and develop.

PPC

PPC or pay-per-click is the internet’s version of old-school advertising, basically, you advertise your site in the search results and for every click, you get you’ll have to pay the search engine a small fee. There are some other variants of it, but they are all generally very similar, so is PPC worth it?

Well yes, the aim of PPC is that once you attract the attention of people they’ll go back to your site again and again just by naturally searching for it. PPC isn’t something you’ll use all the time, but it can give your business a head start and help you attract potential customers.

But you should be aware that PPC isn’t exactly as simple or as straight forward as it may first appear, you need to think carefully about what keywords you use to bring up your search results. And be sure that once you’ve got them on your site that they’ll have a reason to come back.

A Mobile Website or APP

You can help your local business grow in a variety of ways it doesn’t always have to be a complex strategy or a long-running process. According to Think Zap who offer web design in Glasgow, one of the most successful ways to help your website grow is by ensuring your businesses website is mobile friendly.

In today’s digital world the mobile platform rules supreme, OK that’s a little extreme but a large share of people do prefer using their mobile devices whether that be a smartphone or tablet to use the internet.

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So, if you want to cater to this crowd (and if you want your business to grow you will need to) then you’re going to need a website that will run just as well on a mobile device as it would on a computer. Thankfully this is usually very straightforward now, but you will need to consider the design of your website and ensure that nothing is lost.

And if you really want to appeal to the mobile crowd then developing your businesses very own app is a sure-fire way to do it. Now depending on what you want your app to do this could be relatively easy or massively complex, so think carefully a simple rewards app could do a lot to help your business grow it doesn’t need to be massively complicated.

The Benefits of Running an Online Business

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There are many different businesses in the world today, all with their own requirements. With so much inspiration in the world, it only stands to reason that there are some entrepreneurial minds with some fantastic ideas. However, some can be dissuaded from implementing their idea as they feel it’s too expensive.

While some businesses will require a huge investment, there are others that can be ran from the comfort of our own home,  for example some of the businesses you can see here https://mlmcompanies.org/best dont require any capital to get up and running. 

The options available online nowadays means that anyone with an Internet connection has the ability to start their own business online, and enjoy the benefits it has to offer,

Be More Flexible

When starting a business that involves many different factors, it can be difficult. If you have new premises to oversee, then other work can take a backseat. Similarly, you may find that storefront of your business has taken an impact because you’ve had to focus on the work itself, and it can be something of a balancing act.

However, starting a business that solely operates online gives you more flexibility. Of course, you will need to ensure that the website you have is efficient and reliable. One of the main issues that can tarnish a website is mediocre hosting, so it’s important to ensure that you are employing the services of a web hosting company that can ensure that your website is hosted securely, without customers running into issues because the bandwidth has been exceeded. To find some of the best hosting providers you should definitely check out this list hostauthority.org/top.

Once you have your website running in the right way, you effectively have your storefront or brand identity.

Expand Your Business with Ease

A business that has a brick and mortar business may go through a series of expansions, and for the most part they are successful, but you shouldn’t underestimate how much work will need doing to ensure the expansion is a success. Not only will a business have to secure larger premises, but it may also need to take on extra employees.

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If the business is well-established, there may well be a process in place that allows this to happen with the minimum of disruption. However, if you’re a startup, or have very few employees, then it can be quite expensive and time-consuming.

Those who run a business online will still have a lot of work ahead of them, but it will be much easier to manage.

If you run a company that sells a service and there has been a recent influx of orders, then you will need to look at what working practices need to change to ensure you can meet the demand. if you find your website has more visitors, then you will need to ensure that the hosting you have in place will be enough.

While there can be a lot to consider, the fact that the business is online means that you can make the changes quite quickly and with little cost in most instances.

An Online Business is Easy to Promote

While their options to advertise almost any business, the promotion of an online business is very easy. Whether you use paid advertising or look to make use of social networking, the possibilities are endless when it comes to promoting your business online.

If you feel you don’t have enough budget to advertise your site, then why not undertake the role yourself. Sure, it can mean setting some time aside, but it means that you’re able to promote your business in the most cost-effective way possible.

Make Use of Automation 

Let’s be clear, there’s no business that can be ran on an automatic basis, there will always be a need for human interaction, be it an after-sales check-up or a purchase query. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make use of some of the automation available to us online.

An example of this can be the use of Customer Relationship Management software. Although you will need to input some details, you can tailor your marketing efforts so you don’t have to spend hours communicating with different customers, as you can tailor marketing towards specific demographics without being repetitive.

Or maybe you find that the management of your social networking sites is just too time-consuming? Again, there are a plethora of tools available that can help schedule your posts. If you’re still wanting that human element to your posts, or you want to engage with customers on social networks, then why not look at outsourcing your social media efforts to a freelancer? img2 - The Benefits of Running an Online Business

Online Businesses Can Be Recession Proof

We’ve all seen the consequence of a recession, and it generally means that stock loses value and overheads go up. This can be a lot to contend with for those in a bricks and mortar-based business, as there can also be a drop in business.

An online business will undoubtedly be affected in a recession, but the consequences don’t have to be as severe. There’s normally little cost involved with running an online business, which means that you are better-placed to ride out the recession and still be business at the end of it.

You’re Creating an Asset

When building a business online, you’re also creating an asset. While your website may not hold much value during its starting phase, as time goes by, you will find that you site is able to gain more and more value.

People may start a business and look to stay with it for the long run. However, there are others that look to create a unique brand, and the sell the business for a profit. What’s more, there’s nothing stopping from you from repeating the process and doing it all again.

Running a business is a benefit, but some businesses can induce more stress than others. While not for everyone, the benefits of an online business aren’t to be underestimated, especially when it comes to managing the business.

Tax back – your guide to getting quick rebates

Blog3 - Tax back – your guide to getting quick rebates

Tens of thousands of people pay an incorrect amount of tax each year – and since there’s no rhyme or reason as to why errors can occur, you could very well be one of them. There are few nicer feelings than getting a cheque through the post from HM Revenue and Customs – but the key to quick rebates is knowing what to look for.

The Government’s advertisements tell you ‘tax doesn’t have to be taxing’ – but in reality, it often is. We’ll take you through some useful information and point you in the right direction if you think you might be due a rebate!

What is a tax code and why does it matter?

1150L, 1100L – these seemingly meaningless numbers actually mean a lot to the amount of tax that you pay! You can normally find your tax code on a payslip – and it’s used by your employee to calculate the amount of tax that should be deducted from your wages. Even a slight mistake can lead to big money errors!

tax - Tax back – your guide to getting quick rebates

If you don’t have a payslip to hand, you can find your tax code in a few other ways:

  • P45 – You receive a P45 when you finish working for an employee. It’s the form you pass to your new employer the ensure your tax contributions are correctly accounted for when they begin to pay you.
  • P60 – Each year you receive a P60 – it’s an annual statement explaining how much you’ve earned, how much tax you’ve paid.
  • HM Revenue and customs – If you’re happy to call the HMRC you’ll just need to give them your national insurance number and answer a few security questions to confirm your ID – they’ll then give you tax code. A word of advice though – don’t call them on a break from work, wait times can be substantial!

What does this tax code mean?

Although it might look like a random set of numbers, it’s actually an indication of how much you can earn before paying tax. The most common UK code is 1150L – the ‘1150’ section being an abbreviated version of the £11,500 that you can earn each year before paying tax.

Beyond this tax-free amount, you’ll pay 20% tax on anything above your personal allowance up to £33,500. From £33,501 to £150,000 you’ll pay 40% tax – and anything above this is subject to 45% tax.

The letter or letters shown next to your code indicate certain elements of your circumstances. L is the most common – meaning you have a standard personal allowance, i.e. you’re under 65 and have just one job.

BR would indicate that all of your income is taxed at 20% – this would feature on the end of the tax code you would expect on payslips from a second job. If your code ends with NT that means you’re not due to pay any tax on the income that code relates to – often used if you’re not based in the UK.

Is your code correct?

Incorrect tax codes are where virtually all overpayment of tax errors occur. Knowing what yours should be is the key to working out if you’re being taxed the correct amount of money.

First of all, if your tax code is 1100L this is what’s known as an ‘emergency’ code. This is used when a new employer doesn’t receive a P45 from your previous place of work and normally rectified quickly by a payroll department. Check over your payslips, if you’ve been on an emergency code for a while, then you’re almost certainly due a rebate. If you’ve only got one job but you have a BR code – this is also an indication that there could be something wrong – check with your payroll department or give HMRC a call.

Ultimately, your tax code should make sense when compared to your circumstances and what you’re earning – and if you’re in any doubt, consulting your payroll team, HMRC or Citizens Advice can all be good ways of being certain.

What might you be due?

Tax rebates can be anything from a few pounds to thousands – it all depends on how long it’s taken for any mistake to be rectified – and given HMRC’s occasional tendency to miss mistakes for quite some time, you might be pleasantly surprised.

tax2 - Tax back – your guide to getting quick rebates

The good news is, claiming the overpayment back is quite easy. The best way of doing things is to call HMRC, explain to them why you believe your tax code to be wrong and leave it with them. They’ll inform you through the post whether or not your claim has been successful – it can take a couple of weeks, but it’s worth waiting if the next envelope contains a sizable cheque for you!

What if you owe money?

It’s worth mentioning that the wrong tax code can sometimes mean you owe HMRC money – but it’s always better to know this sooner rather than later – and again, given HMRC’s sometimes slow turnaround when it comes to picking up on errors, you should keep checking to make sure you’re not paying too little tax.

We admit, paying too little tax does sound good, but when HMRC catch up (and they always do) – they’ll adjust your tax code to make sure you’re paying it back. Don’t worry though, while they pay you back any rebate in a one-off cheque, they’re normally happy to stagger any repayment you have to make to them, so you definitely shouldn’t be significantly out of pocket.

Are things correct moving forward?

Understanding what your tax code should be is really useful information. The person or people who take care of paying employees in your company are likely to be well versed in what tax codes should be – and why there might be a discrepancy – so they’re good people to keep onside!

It’s well worth periodically checking that your code is right – even if you’ve had a nice rebate, there’s nothing worse than realising you’ve paid too little, after all, money is better in your pocket than anywhere else! If you’re at all uncertain, check with HMRC.

The business impact of your startup office

Blog4 - The business impact of your startup office

When you’re setting up in business the luxury of expensive and decadent office space is sometimes out of reach, but you got to start somewhere even if its metal garages – but what impact does that have on your employees? Your clients? Or your overall brand image? There are lots of things specific to your choice of office that will have an impact on your business – you’ve just got to decide what’s important to you.

From the postal address to the colour of the walls, you might be surprised at quite how much your choice of workplace says about you.

What kind of operation are you?

Have you got a feel for how your business is going to operate? You might think that ‘business is business’ – but the recent trend in internet startups has proved that what some people might look at as a bunch of slacker students with laptops and a foosball table in a room – can actually be the beginning of a multi-million-pound business.

That said, if you’re a high-end management consultancy company, a dilapidated workshop with beanbags as chairs probably isn’t going to suit your style of operation, so think about what is.

There’s more at stake here than just how you decorate and choose your wall-art – the way you operate is going to influence the image that your workplace gives off.

Who’s going to be using your business?

Depending on the industry that you’re in, people being on your site might be a daily event – then again, it might be that you’re operating entirely online and you never see a non-work human! Thinking about what’s likely for you is where location becomes important.

You might be able to find cheaper premises on the outskirts of town – but what’s that going to do to your footfall? Are clients going to be as happy to come and see you if you’re off the beaten track? There’s no certain answer to this – but be sure to think about what location could do to people’s desire to come to your site (and whether you want them there at all!)

If you’re a retail setup – it’s also really important to think about your demographics. How many local people are there that’ll be interested in what you’re doing? Dig into the numbers here, the greatest location on the planet is only any good to you if there are people nearby who want your products.

Accessibility and parking

Attached to location is travel logistics – how will people be getting to you? What’s your proximity to trains, planes and car parking? They might not all apply – but if people need to get to you you’ll want to consider how they’re going to do it. The same applies to your staff – if you want to attract good people you’ll need to make sure their potential commute doesn’t put them off applying…

What does your address say about you?

You’d be amazed at the amount of people that will make a judgement about your business or service based on where you’re located. If you’re a tech startup with a hot Silicon Valley address then people are likely to assume you’re the next big thing – if you’re working from a basement in a little UK village you might not attract the same kind of excitement.

office - The business impact of your startup office

That’s not to say this attitude is correct, massive multi-billion pound companies have come from garden sheds – and Silicon Valley sees daily closures of startups – we’re just talking about perception here. If it’s important to your brand that people think you’re providing an exclusive high-end service, think about finding an address and office space that reflects that!

Then again, if your portfolio of work needs no fancy address to back it up – why bother with the expensive location? You could save a small fortune if you opt for a less desirable postcode.

What is your décor doing to do to your workforce?

So – you’ve found the right address, decided on an appropriate tone for your brand – now it’s time to kit the office out. Are you tempted to replicate those quirky Google style offices with comfy sofas, interesting wall murals and day beds for your staff to take their daily brain-rejuvenating nap? Or do you want the clean business-like lines and edges you’d expect to see in a Wall Street hedge fund office?

There’s more to these decisions than taste. We’ve already talked about creating the kind of space that reflects the ethos of your company – now you’re going to need to balance that with the need to create an office that inspires work productivity.

Some of this decision is going to be dictated by the type of manager you are – do you mind seeing your team lounging on beanbags? Or does the idea of it instantly make you order people to their workstations? The best companies foster a kind of ‘family’ culture – where understanding and communication are at the forefront of everything that’s done. Like it or not, you’re the head of this family – so you’re going to want to lead by example in a setting that’s comfortable for you.

office2 - The business impact of your startup office

What does your décor say to visiting clients?

While most people are going to be willing to overlook your postal address if your service seems right – very few clients will overlook an office that’s got hints of an unprofessional service. No matter how laidback and cool you want your product to appear, someone’s going to be giving you money to deliver a product – keep that at the front of your mind when you’re looking at creating your workspace.

If you’re going for the shabby-chic coffee shop vibe with Chesterfield sofas, taxidermy horns and a strict Converse and jeans dress code – make sure it’s well presented, the office is clean, bins are empty and workstations are in use. Again, looking for the sharp corporate office vibe? There’s nothing that says you’re blagging it like a sky-high pile of folders with their contents spilling out all over your desk!

Avoid risks!

The underlying message is this – your office can be anything you want it to be, but there are fundamentals that people expect to see if they’re going to be spending their hard-earned cash with you. Perhaps some people won’t mind – but lots will, why take any risks?

How to find and use good WordPress support services

Blog5 - How to find and use good WordPress support services

You might have heard a little about WordPress support services and wondered if paying for such a service would be right for you and your business. We’ll help you explore what’s involved and decide whether such a service is going to be right for you.

Managing your site

As your business grows it’s likely that your website will grow too. Even if the basics stay the same, modern marketing techniques demand that you’re sharing good and valuable information, handling traffic conversions safely, efficiently and productively and working across numerous platforms – and this is before you’ve maintained customer databases, email lists and backups.

Making time for maintenance can be hard – but not as hard as factoring in additional time for changes, updates and recovery – and having a dedicated employee just doesn’t work for most companies.

What does it take to manage a WordPress site yourself?

Managing a WordPress site is theoretically more than possible for most people. Even if your development knowledge isn’t cutting edge, WordPress is designed in such a way that you’ll get a grip of the basics quickly.

Sometimes though your business needs more than the basics, so it means exploring one of the following options:

  • Train and practice doing it yourself – which often doesn’t work out from a productivity and money efficiency point of view.
  • Find a freelancer who’ll work on your site – it can be logistically difficult to work with someone who’s got no formal expectation in a role and isn’t accessible all the time.
  • Employ someone dedicated to your site – this is the most costly option and therefore the best in terms of access and dedication – but does it represent the best value for your business?

There’s unlikely to be a stand-out best option for you from that list – which opens the door for support service providers…

What is a WordPress support service?

Like so many other parts of your business, outsourcing is all about time exchanges. Some time exchanges are easy – do you want to drive 250 miles to deliver a letter? No, so the cost of a postage stamp is a positive investment. The most successful business owners look at their own time as an extremely valuable resource – and a WordPress support service should be looked at in a similar way.

Most services start from around £40/$50 – for that price you could expect a service covering the basics of backups, some technical support and lower level tasks. The upper price obviously depends on how much work you’d like someone to do on your behalf, but is unlikely to cost more than £250/$300 – which is obviously far cheaper than a full-time member of staff and the surrounding logistics and training.

What would a WordPress support service do?

As mentioned, there’s a sliding scale of price and service features – ultimately though, a good support service will have the knowledge and experience to do whatever you want them to – and maybe even suggest more. Services generally include:

  • Secure backups
  • Security monitoring
  • Theme installation and maintenance
  • Speed optimisation
  • User experience testing
  • Coding fixes
  • Broken link checking and fixes
  • Installation of caching resources
  • Plugin management

…and much more. Don’t forget, you’re not just paying for what is actually being done, you’re paying for a bunch of people who have a massive knowledge base for all things WordPress – which means that most services will offer some kind of support desk feature too, often with the option of discussing your site and needs with hosting and storage providers on your behalf.

comp1 - How to find and use good WordPress support services

Handling updates

We’re going to pay special attention to updates for a second. Why? Because they’re absolutely vital is keeping things running smoothly on your site. They can also be a headache to apply – especially if you’ve got modified themes and plugins on your sites. If you’ve ever struggled with an update you’ll take little or no convincing that a support service is a brilliant investment of your money!

Most supported services will be so experienced in handling updates that you won’t know they’ve even happened.

How do I choose a good one?

What? You mean you don’t just plan on giving the most important part of your businesses marketing strategy to a random stranger and just hope that they’ll do a good job?!

You haven’t got to where you are now without making some smart choices – and choosing someone who’s going to do a good job of looking after a resource as valuable as your site is a big and important decision.

When you look at hiring outsourced services you should be thinking in the same way as interviewing a potential employee:

  • What can you bring to my company?
  • Do you have a proven track record?
  • Can you give me some examples of your work?
  • Can you provide references and checkable testimonials?
  • Can you provide what I need – as opposed to what you want to sell?

Dig deep into reviews and testimonials – it’s easy to pretend to be better than you are when you’re selling your services on the web, but it’s also difficult to keep those bad reviews out of sight.

comp2 - How to find and use good WordPress support services
What else can they offer?

You might find a service that can tick some other boxes for you too. Perhaps you have a need for someone to manage your social media accounts? Or maybe you could use some help with on-site-SEO? Having a single point of contact for these things is convenient – and you end up working with someone who understands your business and your goals as part of a bigger picture.

Ultimately…

If you’re running using WordPress and you’re struggling to keep on top of the maintenance it’s probably safe to say that you’re not getting the most out of your site in a number of areas. Every year internet usage numbers are growing – and with it, people’s expectations are becoming inflated.

If your site isn’t loading quickly you’re losing customers. If you’ve got broken links you’re losing customers. If you’re not backing up and taking security seriously – you’re losing customers. The question shouldn’t be whether not you can afford a managed WordPress service, but instead, can your company afford the website perils of not having a good supported service by your side?

Psychology hacks to boost business productivity

Blog6 - Psychology hacks to boost business productivity

If you have a start-up or small business you could probably do with a few extra hours in your day – could you imagine what an extra hour would do to that email inbox that seems to constantly replenish itself? Or how much further you could push your business on social media working on new strategies with your Facebook ads agency!

Let’s not kid ourselves – a couple of extra hours in bed wouldn’t go amiss either!

Well, economists at the University of Warwick have good news, they say you’re sat an extra 2 or 4 hours a day – depending on your current frame of mind. We’ll explain where those hours are hidden – and how you can unlock them…

Where are you on the happiness scale?

The research that’s been done looks primarily at happiness levels in business owners and employees – and has produced 2 interesting figures. The first is 12% – that’s the amount of extra productivity shown in workers who are operating from a position of general ‘happiness’ when at work. The second figure is 10% – this is the amount of lost productivity when staff are working with less than average levels of happiness.

What does that mean in real terms?

12%, 10% – they’re all pretty abstract terms when you’re sitting at your desk with a pile of work to get through. So, let’s look at what that really means.

Say you work a 10-hour day – not at all uncommon for someone starting a business or pushing to get ahead. Your general mood is less than happy, meaning you’re one of those people operating 10% behind others in terms of productivity. Working at less than your potential probably means you’re not getting through as much as you’d like, you’re having to put in some sleepless nights to hit deadlines or you’re not selling as much as you’d like to.

If you could magic yourself happy, you’d be looking at being able to do 12-hours-worth of work in 10 hours. You’d deliver an extra sale for every 4 you currently do. You’d generate 60 new customer leads for every 50 you currently create. You’d produce 6 new business quotes instead of 5.

Or, if you’ve still got your eye on those extra couple of hours in bed – you’d get through your current 10-hour day in 8 hours – that’s around 12 extra presses of ‘snooze’ for those who need to recharge their batteries.

The 4 happiness hacks

Sadly, there’s no quick or magic route to happiness – but being aware of the influencing factors on your happiness is the absolute best place to begin if you want to unlock that extra time feeling good could offer you. They are:

Hormone levels

Serotonin and dopamine are two of the major ‘feel good’ hormones in our system. People who experience depression are often found to be lacking in either the hormone itself, or have an issue that prevents their body being influenced by its production.

The hacks:

  • Light – Make sure you get some expose to UV rays through your day. That doesn’t mean you have to be on a Thai beach – instead just being outdoors, even if that’s just a couple of short walks, means you’re kick starting your hormone production.
  • Exercise – There are very few things that inspire the creation of feel good hormones like exercise – and don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have to join a gym right away. Walking, running, dancing, fitness classes, some light weight training – the list is huge and all inspire consistently increased levels of dopamine and serotonin.fat2 - Psychology hacks to boost business productivity

Fatigue

You might think fatigue is something that occurs only because of prolonged physical exertion – actually you’re far more likely to experience the symptoms of psychological fatigue. Irritable? Can’t find inspiration? Easily distracted? These are all signs that you’re mentally worn-out.

The hacks:

  • Rest – Working long hours can be a vicious cycle, the more you work, the more tired you become – meaning you get less done and you have to work longer to achieve anything. Sometimes you just need to pull the plug for a few days. Sleep (but not excessively), watch some mindless movies, don’t take any work calls – letting your mind cool down means it’s more equipped for work when it matters.
  • Do something you love – There’s nothing like spending time doing something you enjoy to give you a kick in the right direction. Got a favourite place you like to visit? Family you enjoy spending time with? A neglected hobby you’d like to revive? Schedule time to do it fairly frequently – and you’ll feel energised.

Lethargy

If you’ve got good intentions but you can’t seem to get started you might want to consider if lethargy is holding you back. Where fatigue is the feeling that you’ll crash if you keep going, lethargy is feeling like you just can’t get out of the starting blocks…

The hack:

  • Eat well – managing your diet is the biggest key to maintaining a good energy level. Quite simply, if you eat sugary and processed foods you’re tying up your brain and body with the processing of this food. There are great resources out there on healthy eating – but as a quick fix, tip the balance of your diet toward ‘whole’ foods – they’re the ones that don’t need an ingredients list to tell you what’s in them!

Low or bad moods

Human moods are affected by a huge host of variables – way way too many to ever keep tabs on or control. Therefore, if your mood dictates your productivity or relationships you’re effectively rolling the dice and only being happy if it’s a double-6.

fat1 - Psychology hacks to boost business productivity

The hacks:

Talk to someone – it can be very very difficult to get a handle on your moods, there’s just so much that can be out of your immediate consciousness that’s having an impact. Talking to someone can be the key to working out what’s getting the better of your brain. Have a look for a counsellor – either privately or through your GP – it’s a bit like having a good brain-storming session, but with your mood and productivity at the centre of the picture.

Take time to observe yourself – The key to handling low or bad moods can sometimes just be understanding that it’s influencing you – but not owning you. Sit quietly and think about what’s happening – when you realise that your mood is more like a cloud above your head rather than an unchangeable attitude you’ll realise you can shake it off, instead of being slave to it.

“I don’t have time for all this!”

We know! No one has time – until you understand that these things buy you time. Would you swap 30 minutes of exercise for an extra 2 hours of work? Understand that if you’re not maximising your mood then you’re letting your time trickle away. You wouldn’t throw away £10 notes – so start doing these things to make sure you’re not throwing away your time – it’s an even more precious resource…

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