Every Cloud…

Commercial bank managers have long complained that it is much easier for clients to get unsecured loans personally, where no evidence is required as to how the loan will be repaid, than it to get unsecured loans for a business, no matter how good the business plan.

As set out in previous articles, if you do have to provide a personal guarantee, make sure it is not secured against your home. This way if the business goes belly up, and the guarantee is called in, you have a strong position and will in all probability keep your home, if you go about things carefully.

If the loan is secured against your property and the business fails, its hard to increase the mortgage, as your income has gone, and you stand every change of losing your home. 

Of course many businesses are mostly conducted as sole traders where there is no legal separation between business assets and personal assets and by the largest sector is Buy to Lets (BTL).

The value of a sounding board

In times of Change, people feel much more secure with strong and clear leadership, but they need considered action and decisions from their leaders. The trouble is, with the pace of business today, the pressure has never been higher and consequently there is always a temptation to act just for the sakes of moving things off the pending pile and appearing decisive.

Change specialist Richard Derwent Cooke suggests that sometimes, the best way forward is infact to stand still for a moment a lend some quality time to a spot of good old fashioned conversation.

Fact or fiction, how far should you go when writing your CV?

This year’s winner of ‘The Apprentice’, sales manager, Lee McQueen, was caught out during the interview stage for lying on his CV about how long he had been at university.’

Despite this, he was still hired, but, as Victoria Band from The One Group explains, real life isn’t like that and lying or even exaggerating to a prospective employer is never a good idea.

“All of us want to make a good impression,” said Victoria. “And it’s only natural that we’re occasionally tempted to tweak the truth to make us seem more suited to a particular job.

Small business decision-makers spend over two months a year out of office

Research highlights need for mobile communications as senior staff spend a minimum of 11.5 weeks away from team members every year.

  • 60pc of small business senior decision makers that we spoke to spend a minimum of five hours out of the office a week – equivalent to 32.5 working days a year.
  • 42pc of small businesses consider they pay too much for their mobile communications plan and yet 77pc do not have a plan that balances the cost of phone calls, mobile emails and text messages.
  • 65pc also do not have the means to control the cost of international calls from mobile phones.

Red tape & bureaucracy awards put Darling at Number One

Nearly 40% of small business owners blame the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the increasing burden of red tape in the UK. A recent poll commissioned by online accounting software firm KashFlow has revealed the constraints and worries that increasing amounts of red tape has had on small businesses around the UK.
In the first ever Red Tape and Bureaucracy Awards the Chancellor of the Exchequer is today revealed to be the person that the majority of small business owners and accountants blame for increasing red tape in the UK.

Surviving the downturn part three – When it goes wrong

Many are wary of upsetting key customers by chasing slow or overdue debts. But as a frequent surprise to many suppliers, buyers often report privately that a failure to chase agreed debts is not seen as a relationship-building exercise, but as weak management. A contractual debt owed is a contractual debt to be paid!

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we have stressed the importance of ‘starting off on the right foot’ contractually, and ‘keeping your eye on the ball’ financially.

Of course, some organisations have no shame in delaying payments to their creditors, until pushed really hard.

Whether you really want to trade with such bad payers is entirely up to you, but here are some more handy tips that might help however things might go wrong.

Surviving the downturn Part two – Getting Paid!

Part 2: Keeping your eye on the ball

Getting your Terms and Conditions right and checking customers’ credit status are vital. (See Part 1 of this series). What else can you do to ensure prompt payment?

Monitor your Aged Debtors and set Customer Credit-Limits

You will probably already review your debtors at least monthly, to keep an eye on defaulters. Most financial software packages readily provide this data phased by sums due over successive months. Ignore it at your peril.

The monthly ‘Total Outstanding‘ figure per client is also critical. Your credit checks on each customer should also produce credit limits and you need to have really good reasons to allow these to be exceeded. (Banks, Factors and Debt-Insurers can be laughably conservative in guiding you here, but don’t ignore their advice without excellent reason.)

Surviving the Downturn – Part One

When doom, gloom and despondency reigns in business, the inevitable response is always to make cuts. No surprise here. The media resound with everyday stories of staff cuts, budget cuts and training and development cuts. And yet, at the same time, there is an astounding growth in job advertising for ‘business development’ executives of multiple shapes and sizes. It’s a stereotypical and oh-so predictable response to tough times ahead. Jeremy Thorn assesses the problem

Remote & mobile working clinches the deal

The option to have flexible and mobile working can be a deal breaker when choosing a new job according to 70 per cent of respondents to a commuter survey carried out by THUS plc.  An encouraging 72 per cent of employees said that their employers actively promote this style of working within their corporate cultures which demonstrates how UK companies are embracing flexible and mobile working.  However, this still means that 28 per cent of companies are not currently offering flexible and mobile working and risk losing out on the best candidates.

Businessman turns apprentice for Sir Philip Green

Matthew Riley finished his first apprenticeship at the age of 18 and now 34 he’s doing it all again – his teacher, one of the most astute businessmen in the country, Sir Philip Green.
After winning one of the biggest prizes in business – the title of Bank of Scotland Corporate Entrepreneur of Year – the CEO of business communications provider daisy has now started to reap the rewards of his money-can’t-buy prize.

Making Marketing Accountable

Marketing accountability should be a priority, but in reality there is a lot of talk on the matter, and less action.   Given access to large corporate budgets, marketing staff have promised returns on investment and increased market share.  However, the evolution of the dot.com era has contributed to the fact that marketing staff can no longer get away with promising big results without quantifiably measuring them.

Older workers boost UK enterprises

UK entrepreneurs are increasingly relying on older workers to plug skills shortages in their businesses, according to figures released today by entrepreneur think tank, the Tenon Forum.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of UK owner-managers are concerned about skills shortages and many claim younger recruits are often just not up to the job.  Over a third (34 per cent) of SMEs report a lack of work readiness amongst graduates and 31 per cent cite poor literacy and numeracy amongst school leavers as a key issue facing their business.

U-turn over plans to phase out cheque payments forced

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is welcoming the Payments Council’s new National Payments Plan, announced this week, in which it agrees not to phase out cheque payments until adequate alternatives are in place. Research carried out by the FPB at the end of last year revealed that most of the smaller businesses surveyed want market forces to determine when they should switch payment methods.

Office workers are animals when it comes to the colour printer

Are you like a Parrot and need colour in everything regardless of cost? Or are you a Cheetah and need everything at speed? Or perhaps you are a Panda or Polar Bear and are happy with everything in black and white?
Leading behavioural psychologist, broadcaster and journalist, Donna Dawson, says that office printing habits are the best way to examine the dynamics of the modern workplace, where people’s behaviour can be equated to The Human Zoo.