Budget 2008 – The fiscal cupboard is bare

The Chancellor, in his first Budget, duly announced that the Treasury is now expecting the economy to grow more slowly this year and next than it forecast at the time of the Pre-Budget Report just five months ago. It now thinks the economy will grow by between 1.75% and 2.25% this year before bouncing back to 2.25% to 2.75% in 2009. That, however, is still more optimistic compared with most independent analysts, including those at HSBC. On average, independent forecasters expect growth to drop to well below 2% this year and to remain below 2% next year.

Pinpoint accuracy

Most of us are familiar with the calming disembodied voice of our GPS device informing us to take a left turn just as we overshoot the junction. What’s less familiar is the process by which that voice gets its information. To find out, I spent a day on the road with digital map provider, Navteq.
The map you see on your GPS device (whether it be on your PDA, mobile or in your car) will probably have come from one of two mapping companies, Navteq or Tele Atlas. Both collect map data by driving the roads with a satellite receiver attached to the vehicle and recording information as they go. Information is also collected from other sources, such as Royal Mail, local councils, and the Highways Agency. It is a complex and time-consuming process; no corners can be cut.

Motoring Review:Audi A5

Where Audi really needed to improve its game was in the driver involvement department. With the A5, it has just done that. The coupe features a wide track, its steering has been engineered from scratch, the quattro 4WD is biased towards the rear and the front axle has been moved forward 120mm to counteract understeer. All this work has had the desired effect.

Web Site Performance

Having web pages that have landing pages which load too slowly do not only hurt your conversion rates but they are to be penalised by Google.   Google will be giving websites with slow loading landing pages a lower Quality Score and in turn, a higher minimum bid price in an effort to improve user experience.   A landing page could also be referred to as a destination page, the destination URL or a target URL and is the web page that a consumer arrives at once a link is clicked.

Entrepreneurs predicted to take less risks in 2008

The director of an online site for business angels and budding entrepreneurs warns that the UK economy will suffer if business start-ups steer on the side of caution.
 
Echoing the thoughts of business angels signed up on the funding site, www.angelsden.co.uk, Director, Bill Morrows believes that higher interest rates and predictions of an economic downturn will prevent many potential start-up businesses from getting off the ground. 
 
Starting up a new business can be a huge risk, with 20,000 UK start-ups failing in their first year of business. Coupled with the initial outlay and the fragile state of the current economic climate, it is no wonder that many business ideas will never get further than an outlined plan.

Small business working group must have real influence

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is urging Prime Minister Gordon Brown to place a new small business working group at the heart of his enterprise policies. The group is to be created within the Business Council for Britain, which currently comprises representatives of big business and celebrities such as Sir Richard Branson and Sir Alan Sugar. The move follows criticism that smaller firms have been left out in the cold.

At home in the world of work

More than 2.1 million people work from home and some 8 million spend at least some of their working week in the house instead of at the office, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Working from home offers many advantages and is an attractive option for today’s budding entrepreneur or teleworker. Being able to work at your own speed, in your own environment without the daily commute is encouraging an increase in home-working initiatives and “bedroom start-ups”.

Writing the wrongs

If you, like many, had letter writing etiquette drilled into you from an early age then nothing screams from a page louder than the elementary error of “Dear Sir” followed by “Yours sincerely”; You may think it doesn’t matter but the impression it gives to the recipient can easily undermine confidence in a business.

Experience on tap

Mentoring has long been a valuable tool in staff training. Typically, a junior member of staff is assigned a mentor – someone experienced from inside or outside the company – to guide them along the learning curve.And if it works so well for individuals, then why not for small businesses?
 

Disputes can be damaging to business

Companies are more at risk from disputes than they think, according to new research from law firm Nabarro.
Despite 78% having risk management policies in place only one third of policies cover dispute resolution. The estimated cost of commercial disputes is £33 billion each year to UK PLC*.
 Risk management policies may cover obvious issues such as health & safety, but the majority fail to cover dispute resolution.  Disputes don’t just cost businesses money to manage and resolve they can also have a damaging effect on a company’s reputation. Nearly 90% of those surveyed said that senior management’s biggest fear when it comes to disputes is damage to the organisation’s reputation.
Rise in scandals

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

With recent negative press coverage and investigative television programmes such as Panorama looking at the British residential property investment market – in particular whether buyers and lenders have been the target of widespread fraud – Jim Moore looks at how you, as a seasoned investor, can sort the good guys from the bad.

Thanks for nothing, Darling…

“Surprise, surprise, Alistair Darling has made a u-turn on Capital Gains Tax. And as per usual, there was no consultation with businesses large or small. But that’s not what bothers me.

In a nutshell, the ‘Entrepreneur’s Relief’, which was announced on January 24th 2008 (relief….really??) means that people will pay just 10% on the first £1 million of capital gains. This is a serious u-turn following October’s announcement that plans were afoot to impose a single flat rate of 18%.

So what do I think of this?

Are the CGT proposals as grim as many SME’s claim?

Are the Government’s Capital Gains Tax proposals as grim as many small and medium sized businesses claim? Property mogul Jim Moore, founder of Inside Track and Instant Access Properties – the UK’s biggest buy-to-let education and investment company – takes a closer look…..

"When I first heard the Government is to slash Capital Gains Tax from 40% to 18% I thought it sounded good. But if it’s really as good as it sounds, why are so many small businesses against the Government’s plans?