General Advice

Business advice on everything from fire safety regulations to basic copyright matters.

9 Tips for Staying Alert During Business Meetings

Meetings are integral to any business, but they can be a drain on resources and time. Therefore, it is important to get the most out of them. Here are some great tips on remaining attentive and sharp during those important meetings. 1. Setting an Agenda One of the most important elements to any meeting is the setting of an agenda. A common mistake is the lack of forward planning – everyone goes into the meeting with different conceptions about the focus of the meeting. This first hurdle is likely to be the primary reason any meeting doesn’t achieve its aims. Confusion stems from tasks that have no focus – large projects and even the most important meetings often suffer because participants become distracted due to meetings having a lack of focus. Participants can start thinking about other... »

Top Tips for Women in Business

March 8th 2011 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day, with hundreds of events occurring throughout the world to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Leading law firm, Lester Aldridge, is celebrating this occasion by offering top tips to women in the small business community: More than a token. According to the Financial Times, a well constituted board needs three to four women on it. One female director on the board is seen as a token woman, two are likely to be seen as conspiring, whereas three or four are viewed as ‘proper’ directors. But, before becoming a director, take advice on your exposure and ensure the company takes out an appropriate directors’ liability insurance. What about equal pay? At the current rate of change, working women will not ac... »

Outsourcing: 10 Top Tips for Successful Outsourcing

As businesses attempt to cut costs in the new year, many small businesses are looking at outsourcing as a means to reduce outgoings, but how can SMEs and start-ups make a success of a practice traditionally reserved for big business? Recently launched online portal OutsourceMyProject.com aims to open up the global outsourcing market to businesses of all sizes. Founders Loren Holland and Sumit Agrawal give their 10 top tips on how to make outsourcing pay. Clearly define your project and set out what you want before opening it up to proposals. Poorly defined briefs tend to attract low quality proposals and can often end up as much larger, and so much more costly, projects than anticipated. Don’t just go with the first offer. If possible get a selection of proposals from both the UK and overs... »

Business Continuity Management: Snow Days

Andy Sumner, Sales & Marketing Director, Easynet Connect, explains how businesses can look online to maintain business-as-usual during ‘snow days’ In a country used to moaning about the weather more than anything else (I suppose we have good reason), it is surprising how much ‘freak’ weather, like snow, catches us by surprise. When the snow fell at the beginning of the year the country was brought to its knees. Schools were closed, trains were suspended and all but the main roads were blocked. However whilst schools were able to implement their regimental snow policies with ease, businesses were thrown into a panic. What was their policy for a snow day? How could they stay productive when people couldn’t get into the office? Thankfully for the UK’s businesses, crippling snow days are s... »

Outsourcing Document Management

As communications become evermore sophisticated, managing the related design, print and mail processes requires both expert knowledge and access to the latest technology. Sally Hewitt, International Marketing Director, Pitney Bowes, looks at how outsourcing these functions can help businesses benefit from accuracy, cost-savings and transparency at a time when satisfying the customer is essential and every spend must be justified. The Importance of Document Production and Delivery A recent survey conducted by Pitney Bowes reveals that only 33% of organisations benchmark their print jobs to ensure they get the most competitive quote. Fully 67% of businesses admit to having little or no idea as to how competitive their current print and design processes are. In addition, approximately 5% of a... »

Virtual Assistants – A Low Cost Solution to Office Administration

If you are a new business startup or a small business with big plans, it is sometimes hard to find enough hours in the day to fit in all of your administrative tasks that can’t wait – replying to emails, answering the telephone, dealing with post or chasing un-paid invoices. On a day to day basis you can spend a lot of your time on these smaller tasks, leaving little time to do what you do best – sell or promote the product or service that your business provides. As your business starts to grow, your administrative tasks can grow too – and this is where you begin to think you need someone to take over these office tasks. You might think you need to hire a secretary or a PA so that you can manage your workload, delegate tasks or just to get more organised! If you dec... »

Landlords: Your Guide to Becoming a Landlord

When is there a better time to become a landlord? Landlords have the upper hand in today’s climate. With a fragile economy, ever-growing population but a shortage in affordable housing, landlords would certainly benefit from offering rented accommodation. Become a Landlord Becoming a landlord is not as simple as finding a tenant and renting it out. There are few things that need to be carried out and certified first. Ensure safety of gas supply: It is the landlords’ responsibility to ensure the property is Gas Safe. You must ensure a Gas Safe Engineer checks the property and provides a satisfactory Gas Safety Certificate. You must also, by law organise an annual check up, to guarantee it is always safe. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): It is a legal requirement to provide ... »

Fruit: 5 A Day Keeps Workplace Stress Away

Since the start of the recession, small businesses have been under extra pressure to reduce costs and maximise the effectiveness of their existing resources. As most companies now need to justify every penny spent to an evermore stringent financial director, staffing budgets must produce excellent results all of the time. For many employees up and down the country this has meant extra workloads, tighter deadlines and generally more workplace stress. Combating stress at work and creating a relaxed and efficient workplace is a major challenge for employers. To get the most out of staff, it is essential they are in a fit state of mind and are able to take on new challenges using the best of their abilities. Stress in the workplace can be detrimental to your performance at work in a number of ... »

Keep your Language Simple

We’ve all had times when we’ve struggled to get our ideas down on paper. We’ve started writing and ended up tying ourselves up in knots and overcomplicating the issue. It’s amazing how a simple idea can get lost in translation once we start writing. And often if we don’t like what we come up with first time, we throw more words at it, which compounds the problem. Quite often, the opposite is the best solution – to keep it short and, more importantly, simple. Consider this recent example from Suffolk County Council’s website: ‘The purpose of this Forward Plan is to give sufficient notice to people affected by key decisions to exercise their rights to see papers and make an input into the decision-making process.’ Why not simply say: ‘Thi... »

Lost for Words? Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s a common dilemma. You have a really important document to write and the deadline is looming. You sit down at your computer to write it and – guess what – you’re completely at a loss where to begin. It’s not as if your manager has suddenly sprung this task upon you or that you haven’t given it any thought at all. In fact, you’ve proactively allocated time to write it, but you’re already struggling and you haven’t written a word yet. You have a common case of writer’s block. We’ve all encountered it and it always seems to hit when you’re under pressure. But fear not, there are ways you can tackle and overcome it. Identify the cause There are two main causes of writer’s block: fear and lack of information. Let’s deal with the fear factor first. People often approach putting finger to key... »

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