The ten steps towards greener technology

More and more businesses are now recognising the urgency of saving energy and developing plans to reduce their carbon footprint. Gaining control of the amount of power that a datacentre uses should be at the forefront of these strategies, as understanding where energy is wasted can make a huge impact to the size of your business’s footprint.
Currently, there is no standard for measuring datacentre efficiency which makes it incredibly difficult to benchmark efficiency performance. Generally, users of datacentres have scant understanding of where savings can be made and make little connection between their electricity bill and operational decisions. As a result the majority of datacentres are grossly inefficient.

Making sure it works

Modern businesses have started to treat IT as the fourth essential utility after water, electricity and gas. Today, IT is likely to play a vital role in the daily operations of all businesses, from bakers to banks.
Businesses of all sizes are upping their investment in all manner of IT, recognising its ability to streamline processes, improve efficiency as well as productivity and ultimately contribute to the bottom line. However, with this increased dependency on technology the availability and immediacy of good technical support has become a top priority.
One of the main reasons behind this IT services revolution is the availability of off-the-shelf standard software, as opposed to the complex bespoke systems thatwere the mainstay of offices twenty years ago. With the dawn of these off-the-shelf solutions, businesses can now buy software at a fraction of the cost it would to develop them for themselves. This means that IT support organisations are able to provide support for specific standard applications, thus ensuring the investment in technology is maximised.

Carry on Trading: Formal and informal

So you’ve decided you can’t carry on as you are and you’ve decided not to simply inject more capital.
If the business is viable if it did not have debts then you have one set of choices.  If the business isn’t viable even without debts then there are another set of options.
Let us first look at your options if the business is viable, were it not for the debts.  As we discussed last month, your energy levels and attitude to the business are as important as the balance sheet.  Let’s assume that you have energy and you want to continue; essentially, there are two possible approaches: the first is a formal negotiation with your creditors; the second is an informal one.

Picking up the post

Struggling to cope with late deliveries is nothing new for smaller business. Three years ago, when the Royal Mail’s second post was scrapped as part of the continuing drive to cut costs, many members of the Forum of Private Business (FPB) complained that late deliveries were hindering their ability to do business.
However, the latest delay is in naming the UK’s 2,500 post offices that are to face closure. This has been postponed from September and has left countless owners of small businesses on tenterhooks. Post offices are vital links in their supply chain, and many communities face prolonged agony because the process of consultation will not be concluded until October 2008, in some areas.

Going it alone

At the end of the ‘90’s the air was thick with revolution.  Offices, newspapers and gastropubs across the land were alive with rumours that the end of the workplace as we knew it was nigh.  With just a mobile phone and a laptop, people could work from anywhere, anytime. For some, tomorrow’s working world was a freelancer’s haven.  To others, it was all hype.
Whichever way you look at it, the UK’s freelance community is growing and it includes some of the country’s most experienced and talented workers who make up a highly skilled, highly mobile and flexible 21st century workforce.

Your own boss

Some of the common reasons cited for going freelance include being your own boss, making more money, having freedom and variety and striking the work/life balance.

Managing staff sickness absence

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) published their eighth national survey of absence management policy and practice in July.  According to the survey the average employee now takes 8.4 days off sick each year, costing employers £659 per employee per year.  It is inevitable that some employees will need to take some time off sick but long-term sickness and growing rates of short-term sickness can have a huge impact upon business.  But what can businesses do to do tackle absence?

Packing the Punches: How to make your website a big hitter

Having a company website is the norm for any serious business these days, no matter what its size is, but it makes very little sense to spend good money on a website unless you can make it easy for people to find, use, and come away with a clear vision and understanding of what you’re about and the desire to return.
The best websites offer visitors something different but equally useful or entertaining each time they visit, compelling them to come back for more.  Without exception, these are websites that are in constant evolution; they are the sites that are tended to daily and regularly updated with new information.

Make ‘your’ voices heard

Businesses are the lifeblood of communities, and collectively they are the economic engine of the country. Business opinions matter greatly, and to ignore this voice would be disastrous to any government with aims of achieving economic development and future prosperity.
This year, I hope the party conferences act as a platform to promote the issues affecting businesses, and with the current ‘credit crunch’ taking hold, uncertainty at Northern Rock, and a government in power that claims it wants to utilise ‘all the talents’ available, this really should be the time for politicians to listen, learn and to wholeheartedly deliver.
So what is it that we are determined to voice? The first thing that strikes me when I travel around the country talking to businesses on behalf of the British Chambers of Commerce, is a growing skills gap. This country is suffering at the hands of an education system failing to deliver a skilled, enthusiastic and professionally minded workforce. Manufacturing, engineering and the science and technology sectors are suffering.

No longer a great job

The directors of Britain’s companies are feeling the pressure from the growing risks and responsibilities they face – to the point where a majority are seriously questioning whether it is worth being a director at all – and those at small-to-medium sized enterprises are bearing the brunt.
These are the main findings of a major survey conducted in August by – an online service that matches businesses with law firms – which questioned 918 directors and senior managers at companies in the United Kingdom.
More than half of company directors polled – 55% – agreed that being a company director ‘is no longer a great job’, while 58% said that the risks and responsibilities of the role are increasingly outweighing the rewards. The proportions of SME directors  – those at companies with between 2 and 249 staff – who say the same are higher still, especially those at companies with fewer than 10 employees, 61% of whose directors agreed with the statement.

Taking action

Many small business owners will be used to copping flak for addictions to their ‘crackberry’.
The tell tale symtoms are all too common. Exasperated partners railing at post midnight emailing or blackberrys heading for a watery demise in the swimming pool during that longed for summer break.However, the vexed issue of the merits of Blackberrys is truely small fry compared to the grief that could be caused to business owners by the latest internet phenomenon. The explosion in popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, You Tube, Bebo and My Space presents a new potentially very big problem for owner managers to grapple with.

Energy saving website launched

Opus Energy – a leading independent electricity supplier to businesses – have just launched Opus Evolution, a real-time online energy purchasing system that gives customers direct access to wholesale electricity markets.
The system, which, for the first time, gives smaller (non-half hourly) customers the chance to take advantage of pricing deals normally only offered to larger (half hourly) customers, is the first of its type in the UK.

Free relocation guide for UK businesses

Windsor Telecom Plc, UK’s 2nd largest provider of 0845 memorable phone numbers and inbound call solutions has published a free guide to relocation aimed at UK businesses of all sizes.
The two handy guides, for the corporate and SME markets, provide valuable information on how to make the right move, an essential ten step plan to successful moving , and a comprehensive directory of useful contacts.

Search for investment just got easier

A new website is set to provide an easy boost for anyone seeking venture capital or private equity funding.
 Investor Search is a specialist search engine that will greatly simplify the task of identifying investors with interests or preferences that match a company’s investment needs. It is designed for trading companies that need capital to grow, for start-ups looking to get off the ground or potentially anyone in the investment community.

Standing out from the crowd

With an average annualised turnover of £25 million, The Commercial Group is the largest independently owned office services company in the UK. In its 17 years of business it has built a reputation based on exceptional customer service, superior consultancy and a quality product range.
Determined to continue to spearhead change within its market place, Commercial works tirelessly to innovate, promote best practice and, where necessary, instigate debate to ensure the standards it has set itself as a company challenges others to assess their own processes and systems.
With this dynamic background it may be surprising that the Directors have thrown all of their efforts into a campaign across the business to embrace a culture which is unashamedly green. But because the business is at the top of its game it is crucial that it continues to seek ways to further differentiate itself from its competitors and this is where the almost messianic drive for green credentials has been put at the heart of the corporate agenda. Naturally where there are leaders in industry there are followers and what once set you apart can eventually become a standard offering.

The ability to change

For Commercial its ability to anticipate change and ensure it can accommodate it, whether it is an e-commerce solution or software integration, has enabled the company to not only develop and grow but remain the supplier of choice to over 6000 companies.