Making your mark this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, children and adults will soon be getting into the festive spirit decorating their homes and wrapping up presents. This year there is one great way to ensure your present stands out from the rest whilst under the tree; by using a Sharpie marker!

Whether personalising your wrapping paper with a festive silver snowflake or putting colourful finishing touches to that perfect tag, Sharpie markers are available in 13 stand-out colours making them the ideal Christmas creative companion.

We have teamed up with Sharpie to give 10 lucky readers the chance to get their hands on a goodie bag of Sharpie markers – the ultimate Christmas design kit worth £35, which will ensure your gifts really stand out this year. To enter just email us at:

To grow or play it safe? That’s the million-dollar question…

One reoccurring topic which always seems to crop up when speaking to business owners is ‘when is the right time to bite the bullet and take the business to the next level’? When do we stop the bootstrapping and say hello to investment? I am a firm believer that all businesses can (and in most cases, should be) boot-strapped from day one. This not only saves costs, it keeps your business lean and avoids the unnecessary ‘fat’ that one could be tempted to add if investment is gained early on.

Season’s warnings

Every year, thousands of people close up their businesses and homes for the Christmas break without fully considering the disasters that could happen in their absence. According to the Fire Statistics Monitor Q3 2008-09, 10% of the 33,000 house fires that occurred in 2008 happened over Christmas – largely due to poor quality Christmas lights and flammable decorations.

Are you ready for the VAT rate rise?

It is just a year since the Government rushed through, in a matter of days, a reduction in the VAT rate to 15%. We were told that this would stimulate the economy – whether it did or not is one for the political commentators – but the thirteen month temporary reduction is now almost at an end and we must prepare ourselves for a return to 17.5% VAT on 1 January 2010.

SMEs have their say about bad management practices & cost-cutting initiatives

A recent survey of small to medium sized businesses reveals that the three worst qualities an employer can exhibit during difficult times to their staff are ‘hiding the extent of problems’, ‘making the problems appear worse than they are’ and ‘being distant with staff’ – indicating that SME employees want honesty and straight talk from their employers about the state of the business.