Business Advice

A Small Business Owners Guide to Using a Consultant

A Small Business Owners Guide to Using a Consultant

Whether for marketing, efficiency or another purpose, bringing a consultant is a necessary part of running any business. Choosing the right consultant is of course crucial, but it is only half the skill of maximising the return on your investment. This article covers how to manage a consultant effectively in order to get the best possible results. What should my objectives be when bringing in a consultant? Clarity is the key word here. If you are not entirely clear about what you want to achieve, it will be difficult to use a consultant effectively. There are many ways you can narrow down your objectives but first start by working out the end goal. Thinking in broad terms, what is it you want? Are you expecting a concrete, tangible output such as an increase in sales, or more ephemeral obj... »

Company Directors: Why You Should be Making the Most of Tax Relief Allowances

Company Directors: Why You Should be Making the Most of Tax Relief Allowances

As a company director, you’ve already got your head round all the legally enforceable regulations that govern your role. You have taken on the responsibilities directorship entails and kept the interests of the company at the heart of your decision making. Your record keeping and company accounts are maintained through clear, scrupulous systems; and a crucial part of your financial management is the administration and payment of relevant taxation. As unpopular as it is inevitable, there is one upside to the tax system – allowances! Nobody wants to miss out on their entitlement so here we look at what you need to pay and what you can claim back… The main business taxes: What you need to be aware of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) establishes the rules and you are legally responsibl... »

Bad Advice Costs UK Small Businesses Billions

Bad Advice Costs UK Small Businesses Billions

Almost fifth (16%) of micro and small businesses lost a combined £6.4bn last year due to poor professional advice – £20,842 per business – with 19% of business owners said to have lost between £50,000 and £100,000 due to consultancy issues. The data, outlined in a report by Direct Line for Business, estimates that 320,000 enterprises lost money due to deficient advice from consultants and third party advisors. Poor advice was found to have negatively impacted small firms in a number of ways; 46% of companies were forced to let staff go, 34% had to take out credit, 30% were required to scale back, 28% said it almost caused failure and 16% lost clients. Insufficient IT advisors was named as the top issue by 44% of companies, followed by poor consultancy in management (34%), marketing (32%), ... »

National Minimum Wage

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage sets out the hourly rates almost all UK workers are entitled to by law and every employer, no matter how small, must pay. Designed to provide employees with decent minimum standards and fairness in the workplace, the National Minimum Wage helps small businesses compete on the basis of the quality of goods and services provided rather than low prices based on low rates of pay. The law was first introduced on 1 April 1999 by the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 and the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999. Set by government, the headline figure is based on guidance provided by the independent body the Low Pay Commission. What is the National Minimum Wage? The Minimum Wage is a legal right which covers almost all workers above compulsory school leaving age. There are... »

A Third of Small Businesses Seek Advice via Social Media

78% of businesses using online media rely more on social networks for business advice than traditional and professional services The latest Close Brothers Business Barometer (CBBB) has revealed almost a third of small and mid-sized businesses access advice through social media. The CBBB report, a quarterly poll that reveals the opinions of business owners and senior staff from across the UK, also found that of the business owners that use social media to seek support, 78% rely on it more than traditional methods like their accountant or legal representatives. Despite this increase in the use of social media to access advice, overall businesses remain reliant on traditional means for advice, such as a mentor or professional consultant, with half of small firms emphasising that they had not ... »

Family Main Source of Advice for 400,000 Small Businesses

Guidance on new legislation is top concern for small business owners yet many fail to seek expert advice A new survey has revealed that one in 10 small and mid-sized business owners rely on advice from family members as their first port of call, despite their top worries concerning guidance on new legislation, finance and HR. The survey, conducted by Sage One, revealed that new legislation – such as the Auto-Enrolment Act – is the biggest concern for businesses with 20% of respondents stating so. This was followed by advice on finance (14%) and HR (13%). The majority of businesses seem confident in their company’s marketing strategy – with only 9% naming it as a top worry. Though the research shows that some small and medium-sized firms are seeking advice from experts – 56% looking to acco... »

Two Thirds of Small Businesses Prioritise Investor’s Advice over Finance

A quarter of small businesses who successfully obtain finance get refused investor’s advice A new survey by Angel’s Den revealed that 64% of small businesses prioritised mentoring over cash when seeking investment for their company. The research, which was conducted with 613 small business owners, found that the majority wanted both, with 76% of small businesses pursuing finance with mentoring and business advice, but only 12% stating that they were looking for money alone. The report also found that of the 80% of small firms that requested advice from their investors, 26% were refused and 34% only received “minimal or very brief advice and mentoring”. The survey highlighted that business investment is moving away from the traditional finance-alone funding but that investors were failing t... »

How Card Payments Can Help Grow Your Business

Gert Scholts, Director of First Data Merchant Solutions, gives valuable business advice on how card payments can help to grow your small business. Key to the success of any business is accepting payments for goods and services, however choosing the right card acceptance provider can be both confusing and time consuming. A recent survey [1] conducted by First Data Merchant Solutions highlighted this by asking budding entrepreneurs and small business owners what fears and reservations they had around accepting card payments: Of those surveyed 83% had given some or significant consideration to accepting card payments in their business. However 77% admitted that they had little or no understanding of how card processing works. 81% of respondents were concerned about the associated cost and ris... »

Ten Years On – Looking in the Rearview Mirror

John Sollars, founder & MD of printer ink retailer, Stinkyink.com I was 47 when I started Stinkyink.com, and now, 10 years on, seeing all those fresh-faced University graduates and twenty-somethings that seem to dominate the start-up scene these days I feel very old. The upside of working for 40 years is that the experience and lessons I’ve gained have contributed immensely to the stability and longevity of my present business, making it what I call a sustainable company which is efficient, profitable and where everyone enjoys coming to work. Here’s a few thoughts on what I have found important. Lesson 1 – Understand the basics It feels like a long time ago, but in a previous life I ran other businesses which weren’t as successful as Stinkyink is now, and in con... »

How to Survive Beyond the Start-up Stage

10 years on Stinkyink.com celebrates rising from fraud to financial success Back in the spring of 2002 BBC 6 Music launched, coal mining ended in Scotland and the Queen Mother died. Another story that crept under the media radar at that time was the launch of the online printer ink retailer, Stinkyink.com. On 22 April 2012 serial entrepreneur, John Sollars, celebrates a decade of trading and gives advice to start-ups on how to survive beyond the early years. John Sollar’s tips for new businesses: “It’s different for everyone but these tactics have worked for me.” Stay single. If you start a business with a friend, you will fall out eventually. That’s my experience, anyway. When my first business failed the bank chased me for the total amount of the guarantees ... »

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