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Understanding the 24-month rule for tax claims that relate to working at temporary workplaces

You might have heard of the ’24-month rule’ that relates to tax claims for working at temporary workplaces – but it can be a complex area that comes with lots of conditions and requirements. If you or your staff are working away from the location you’re permanently based then this guide will be useful when it comes to working within HMRC regulations. Not only will we define the term – but we’ll give you some examples of how it works in real life…

Please note – this is intended as guidance only, to give you some outline information prior to discussing possibilities with your accountant. Tax-relief relating to temporary workplaces can save a lot of money – but it’s important you always seek qualified professional guidance.

What is the 24-month rule?

The legislation was created to provide tax relief on travel expenses for an employee who was required to move between sites for their employment. Instead of being for people who simply commute to work – the 24-month rule was designed for people who are frequently travelling to one or more temporary places of work. If you meet the criteria, expenses that are incurred can be paid without incurring tax.

What’s considered ‘travel’?

Although the term travel often relates just to the actual means of travel – i.e. plane, train, car mileage, etc – ‘travel’ in this instance relates to any costs that relate to working somewhere other than your permanent place of employment. So, that could include:

  • Accommodation
  • Childcare costs
  • Clothing specific to the temporary location
  • Home office costs
  • Training costs
  • Travel costs – including public transport, mileage and taxi costs

What’s considered a ‘temporary workplace’?

The HMRC defines this as being a workplace in which your presence is required for a short period or to complete a temporary assignment. It’s not just the length of time that is spent there that defines somewhere as temporary – it could actually be the proportion of time you spend there compared with your permanent workplace – although generally speaking, you would be expected to be at any temporary place of work for less than 24-months.

Some real-life examples

If every temporary workplace secondment were as simple as sending someone to another site for a certain period of time – then the 24-month rule would be easily applied, however, it’s rare that this cut-and-dry way of working is the case. Therefore, we’ll share some examples that show how the rule works in slightly more complex business practice:

  • Time working away reduced

Mark is based in Glasgow but agreed to working in his company’s Edinburgh office for a 3-year period – meaning he is not eligible for temporary workplace tax relief. However, after 6 months, Mark’s company shortens this secondment to 18 months. Although 18 months falls within what is acceptable as a temporary workplace, until 6-month in, it was intended that he was there for 3-years, so expenses incurred during his first 6 months are not eligible for tax-relief. However, his remaining 12 months are now at a temporary workplace – so his travel expenses are now tax-free.    

  • Extension to original plans

Craig is an engineer who’s based in Aberdeen, the company he works for expands, buying offices in Portsmouth where Craig is asked to work for 12 months. After 9 months working at the Portsmouth site, Craig agrees to an 18-month extension to the role. From the moment the new contract is signed, Craig’s intended time in Portsmouth becomes 27 months – therefore exceeding the maximum 24 and establishing Portsmouth as his permanent place of work.

At the point of signing his new contract, Craig is no longer able to claim travel expenses relating to a temporary workplace.

  • 40% of working time

Jane is an assistant headteacher who lives and works in Darlington. The chain of academies she works for asks that she works in another of their schools in Middlesbrough for 1 day each week over a period of 30 months as they prepare for inspection. Jane will not be able to claim relief on the expenses for traveling to her own school – but she will for her travel to the school in Middlesbrough.

This is because, despite being at the school for more than 24-months, her overall time spent there will not exceed 40% of her overall working time, thus allowing it to maintain ‘temporary workplace’ status.

  • Close proximity

Lucy works for an online marketing agency who have two premises in central Birmingham. Lucy is continuing her employment with her company is going to work in a client’s office who are based in different offices a 5-minute walk away. Despite working in an office that is not her own, she is not able to claim tax-relief on travel expenses as the journey would be considered virtually identical to that that she would be making if she were working from her own company’s offices.

  • Breaks from the temporary workplace

Tim is an architect who’s working on a series of large projects with a company redeveloping a part of East London – with a projected timescale of 5 years. He works at the London offices for 22-23 months at a time – but is periodically recalled to his company’s head office in Bristol to oversee short 1-2-week tasks – before returning to his East London redevelopment projects.

Although Tim isn’t working more than 24-months at any one time, the period of time away from the longer projects is not enough to ‘reset’ his time in London and reframe it as a temporary workplace. Tim is not able to claim tax-relief on his travel expenses as he is spending more than 40% of his time there. To count as a ‘break’ – Tim would need to be away from the London site for 15+ months – making sure he worked at a different location in the meantime.

Intention counts!

As you can see with these examples – it’s often the intended working arrangements that count over how a situation actually pans out. That’s why it’s important to include an accountant in decisions that relate to workers being based somewhere other than their main place of work. A good accountant will be well aware of how the 24-month rule works and be able to use it to the best advantage of the individual and business. 

August 4th, 2017|Categories: Finance|0 Comments

11 important questions to ask before you start your own business

Setting up your own business probably sounds like the dream ticket for a lot of people, you’re the boss, you’re in control of the finances, you’ve got brilliant ideas, the plans to monetize them and big hopes for the future – but the reality of starting-up can be quite different when wheels are in motion.

If you’re 99% certain that starting out by yourself is the way you want to go, have a look over our list of things to consider before you start your own business and make sure you’re 100% before you hand your notice in and get your plans in action!

  1. Why do you want to do this?

It’s fair to say that there are right and wrong reasons for wanting to set out in business by yourself. Do you want the kudos of having your own business or considering yourself an entrepreneur? Perhaps you’re more interested in the flexible working hours to fit around Call of Duty and Game of Thrones?

Then again, maybe you’ve got an idea or knowledge that you’ve never seen put into practice before – or an innovative approach and work ethic that surpasses everyone in your field.

If your business is going to succeed then you’re going to have to work hard – probably even harder than if you were working a 9-5. Think it through carefully and go into business with your eyes open.

  1. Have you got a good business plan?

Sadly, it’s not enough to rock up to the bank or investor with a great idea – they’re going to want to see formal plans of how the business will pan out, the role you’ll take, the skills you bring and how financial projections will look.

Having a business plan makes sense for you too – your idea might sound wonderful, but if you’ve got to sell your product to thousands of people before you turn a profit, it might make sense to pursue a different angle.

Get your idea down on paper, make sure your numbers add up and that you can apply yourself for as long as it takes.

  1. How are you planning on structuring the company?

You need to think about whether you begin as a sole trader or a limited company. Who are you going to be working with? Some larger companies will only want to work with you if you’re a limited company – so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by starting out with the wrong structure.

If you’re in any doubt – or you haven’t thought about it, speak to someone who’s a finance professional with experience in these matters, make the wrong choice and you might end up paying too much tax.

  1. Is there a market for what you’re doing?

Your idea could be solid gold – but if there’s no one interested in your raw food vegan naturist café then you’re going to have an empty till and a lot of carrots leftover.

Joking aside, market research is key, for example lets say you’re a web design based agency in Scotland. You may want to start with doing some Google searches for web design Scotland to find out what other companies locally are offering these services.

Are you planning on creating a service that the market is already flooded with? Or are you under-pricing your product because the market is calling out for it and you’re the only person who’s listening?

If you don’t know the lay of the land you could be starting out completely unprepared for what meets you when you launch.

  1. What makes you different?

Why will you win where thousands of others have failed? Perhaps it’s knowledge? Perhaps it’s work ethic? Perhaps it’s your unique set of skills?

Haven’t thought about it? Neither had the thousands of people whose businesses have folded. When you know what it’s going to make you stand out from the crowd then you can approach the market with the confidence you need to make it.

  1. Have you got the mindset?

There isn’t a business owner or entrepreneur in the in the world who’s had it easy since day 1. You’ve got to be resilient, patient, not afraid to say no, able to learn from mistakes, dynamic – and much more.

It can also be the making of a person who doesn’t feel they’re those things already – so don’t write yourself off, just be prepared to learn a lot about business and yourself.

  1. How much time will you need to spend on this?

Have you got the time to launch this business? The average business owner works longer hours than most 9-5 workers – and the business won’t wait if life stuff gets in the way, it’ll suffer.

Think about what life looks like now – and what life will look like if you have to spend 60 hours a week shaping your marketing, products, team, recruitment and the dozens of other things that need to be in place if you’re going to fly.

  1. Is there enough of you to go around?

A lot of new businesses fail because they’re built around the knowledge of the founder member. When he or she takes a day off or is out of mobile phone reception then business goes on hold – meaning dropped productivity, an inability to access resources and gaps in knowledge.

If you’re going to be the cornerstone of your business you’ll need to think about ways of distributing your knowledge and skills. This is key if you want a scalable business without the need for big advances in cloning technology…

  1. Do you understand the logistics around hiring staff?

Hiring staff is no walk in the park – especially if you want good ones that’ll stick around. You’re going to ask yourself where you’ll advertise, the costs involved, the skills needed to interview and recruit a good team – as well as the legal implications of being an employer.

  1. Have you got the money needed?

This is a real ‘brass-tacks’ question. You either do or you don’t. If you don’t, where’s it going to come from? If you do, can how long will it last before you need more?

  1. Are you financially minded enough to keep the cashflow healthy?

Keeping tabs on your cashflow is absolutely vital if you’re going to stay financially afloat. Don’t think about getting money in now and managing it later – you need to be smart with the company cash from day one if you’re going to keep your head above water long term…

July 19th, 2017|Categories: Entrepreneurship, Startups|0 Comments

7 Things You Can do To Speed Up your Website

7 Things You Can do To Speed Up your Website

Have you ever abandoned a website because you got bored watching that loading icon spin? If so, you’re not the only one, studies show that almost half the visitors to a page will abandon if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load – meaning page load time optimization, website speed optimization and, if you’re working on the platform that powers the majority of the web, WordPress site speed are all more important than ever before.

Luckily, as a website owner, you’ve got some control over loading times for your site – considering these 7 things can make big differences – meaning you’re probably going to hang on to more of that increasingly impatient traffic!

  1. Try to minimize HTTP requests

HTTP requests are made every time a browser request an element of a page. So, images, scripts, Flash, stylesheets all require individual HTTP requests. If you hadn’t already guessed, each of these take a fraction of a second – and while that might not sound like a big deal, fractions of seconds all add up.

You’re likely to see big differences in speed if you reduce the number of elements required to render your page. Try using CSS for background images rather than waiting for a large image, combine style sheets and reduce scripts where possible.

       2. Enable compression

Compressing large pages has often been a go-to move for people displaying large images and other high-quality content. By doing so you’re reducing the bandwidth of your page, meaning HTTP response time is decreased.

Think about it like this, HTML is a fairly chunky language – by its nature there’s a lot of repetition, and repetition means size. So, if you use a tool that can efficiently compress the information that is sent from server to browser and you’re reducing loading delays significantly.

      3. Enable browser caching

Browser caching is a pretty standard practice – but if your site isn’t doing it you’re risking losing some of the most important traffic to your page.

When someone first visits your site each of the elements that go together to create the full page are loaded. Caching means these elements are stored locally for that visitor, meaning subsequent visits don’t require that data to be transferred again – and the page will load in a fraction of the time.

From a customer behaviour point of view – it’s pretty obvious that the more time someone visits your site the more likely they are to interact in the way you hope they will, whether that’s buying, signing up, contacting your business – or so forth. Most people will accept that a page takes time to load fully on their first visit, but studies show they can be more impatient if they expect quicker service second and third time around. If they’re coming back they’re 10 times more valuable than they were on their first visit – make their experience a positive one!

       4. Trim that code

Some of the best literary writers in the world will go back to their text and trim, trim and trim again to see how lean they can make their work without losing the important meaning – remove 25% of the words and your book can be consumed in 75% of the original time. Coding is no different – unnecessary line breaks, spaces and indentations add nothing to the page – other than fractions of seconds in loading time.

There are a couple of options here, you can work through your code manually looking for unnecessary code – or you can employ the use of a ‘minifying’ tool – which can be downloaded as a browser add-on – with specific tools intended for HTML, JavaScript and CSS.

       5. Optimize images

We’ve got good and bad news if you’ve got plenty of images on your site – the bad relates to the frequency with which poor page load times can be attributed to oversized images, however, the good news is that you can tackle those image issues in number of ways…

Crop – instead of setting a width parameter for a large image crop that image down to the correct size. If there’s a mega high-res 5000px that’s being coded down to a 540px width then it’s going to take a lot longer to load than a 540px version of the same image.

Colour – Do you really need the awesome colour depth you’d need if you were printing on to a huge point of sale? If the answer is no, reduce that depth.

Format – JPEG and PNG are your best bets for size, quality and browser support. Avoid BMPs of TIFFs as both are uncompressed – so can be sizable and therefore slow.

Source – Avoid empty image ‘src’ codes. If there’s no source contained a request is still sent – taking up time and adding load to your server.

        6. CSS

While a lot of people will suggest using only one CSS stylesheet it might be worth considering having a short inline CSS that loads the top of your site a little faster than the rest. In a world that is increasingly favouring longer ‘one page’ style sites, this can improve user experience considerably – meaning a visitor sees what appears to be a fully loaded page – buying precious seconds to fully render the rest of the site.

         7. Reduce the number of plug-ins you use

A plug-in is an additional pieces of software that adds functionality to a website. One of the most common is Adobe’s Flash Player – although there are thousands upon thousands more. Using too many slows your site, can cause security issues within certain browsers and they are notoriously responsible for many technical issues.

If they add nothing significant to your site, deactivate or delete to encourage speedier responses.

Overall

Some of these tips are going to be fairly easy to implement yourself – however, there are some that are best left to someone else if you’re not so technically minded. If you’re not sure whether it’s worth spending money on having someone else tweak your code to ensure your page is displaying as quickly as is possible then you might want to think about this:

For every 1-second delay research shows that you’re likely to lose 11% of your page views, 17% user satisfaction and 7% loss in conversions.

Do some financial projects and think about what that might mean to your bottom line – then have a look at whether or not the maths of outsourcing those complex speed boosting tips might stack in your favour…

July 18th, 2017|Categories: Technology|0 Comments

How To Use Your Artistic Talents To Make Money Online

The whole starving artist stereotype might be romanticised in works of fiction, but few creative individuals ever want to experience that life. Art and design are hugely popular subjects to study but are often believed to be very difficult to turn into a career. However, you can make money online quite easily with your art and design skills.

This goes for artistic skills of any kind, whether it’s traditional painting and drawing or more digitally orientated creative skills like graphic design. Think about it for a moment, websites need designers, don’t they? And businesses often need logo or advertisement designs whether be a simple poster of a more complex pamphlet.

It might not seem obverse at first glance but there’s a huge array of different businesses out there, across whole industries that will need to call upon the services of an artist or graphic designer to get the job done. Artistic skills are more in demand than you might think and they are also very valuable because they aren’t easy to learn.

So, if you have an artistic talent in any medium then using it to make money online could be a lot easier than you think. Whether it’s creating illustrations for a book, comics for a newspaper or simply painting pictures for people to use as personalised gifts there’s a wide range of ways artists can make money online.

Get Your Portfolio Together 

Artistic skills across all mediums are in demand so the next step in your journey to making money online is showing that you have the skills to meet said demand. And how do you do this? It’s a word I’ am sure artists know well your portfolio, now the good news is that I’ am sure most artists reading this have one.

If you don’t then start creating works of art to put in one, they can be simple sketches or elaborate designs it doesn’t really matter just get some examples of your work ready. Your portfolio doesn’t have to be huge a few pieces that show what you’re capable of doing will do the job fine.

Once you’ve got your favourites pieces selected take photographs or scans of them (if possible) so you have digital copies. These are going to be very important for the next step of your journey, if you have a blog or already have a digital portfolio then you can skip this step altogether.

But remember not to neglect your portfolio and constantly add new pieces and switch things around every now and again.

Join Freelancing Sites

Freelancing sites such as Peopleperhour, Fiverr and Outsourcely are great for you to get started. You’ll be able to show examples of your work directly on the sites and offer your services and scout for jobs. The competition will be tough at first and you may have to settle for less money than you’d like while you build up your reputation but they are a great platform to make money online.

And if you do a good job you could potentially have a long-term client who will work with you again and again. It takes time to grow on these platforms though (unless you’re really lucky) so don’t expect to make a fortune straight away.

You could also try sites like Etsy or Redbubble which are more art and design focused freelancing sites. The aim with these sites isn’t just to use your artistic talents to make money online but to also build up a stronger online presence. If you have a strong presence online then people might contact you directly for work.

Build Your Own Website

Every artist should have their own website, it gives you a way to display all your work, blog about your interests and network with others without being bound by any restrictions. You can also link your website to any freelancing sites you’re on so it acts as a hub for you to work from. A website will also impress potential clients and is incredibly valuable for networking.

Use Social Media

The influx of social media sites in the last decade have been incredibly valuable for artists of all mediums. Instagram, in particular, is very valuable and artists have been able to amass followers very quickly.

These followers are all potential customers and even if they don’t want to use your services by sharing your work they are bringing your name to a wider audience. It’s networking but without any of the hard work!

Be Patient and Don’t Be Afraid To Stand Out

They say fortune favours the bold and when it comes to artists that is certainly true, so don’t be afraid to be daring. But remember when it comes to networking and freelancing patience is important, you’re not going to build a reputation as an elite artist overnight.

But if you put the time and effort in you really can make a lot of money online using your artistic talents. And over time you can learn new disciplines and skills to add to your skillset which in turn will bring you, even more, custom and money.

July 18th, 2017|Categories: Entrepreneurship|0 Comments

Taking on your first member of staff

There comes a stage in the life of every start-up business where you just can’t do everything anymore – and at least one member of staff is going to be needed to continue your expansion. Finding the right person can be tricky – but not nearly as tricky as finding out you’ve got the wrong person further down the line!

We’ll walk you through some steps you’ll need to take to find, recruit and keep the first official member of your start-up staff team…

Work out who you need

It’s easy to think in ‘job roles’ when you’re looking to recruit someone – but try to be more flexible in your thoughts. Instead of thinking “I need a salesperson”, take some time to work out the responsibilities of the role you’re hoping to fill. From there you can create a detailed description of what a day with look like in the job. Your company is likely to be fairly unique, you don’t have to be generic in your recruitment.

Find them!

The global economy and the sheer number of internet recruitment tools means that people are usually fairly easy to find. Be careful though, while there are lots of people who are qualified or experienced in whatever role it is you’re trying to fill, there’s another person who’ll be keen to just ‘give it a go’.

Thinking about the job roles and responsibilities you outlined, work out what are ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ traits in the person you’re trying to find. Be specific, if you want someone with experience of using a particular program that is vital to your business then make sure it’s an essential – and only interview people who meet or exceed those minimum requirements.

Interview

If you’re starting-up you’re likely to be spending a lot of time with the person who’s nervously sitting opposite you in your interview. While fleshing out some of the experience they’ve talked about in their application is necessary, it’s also important that you get a feel for them as a person. Is this someone who’s going to share your passion? Do they ‘get’ what you’re trying to do with the business? Do they share you outlook or sense of humour?

You might think that these things are secondary to the skills needed – and if you were a CEO taking on your tenth programmer they might be – but for these first few people who join your business, being part of the business ‘family’ is going to be just as important.

Try to account for nerves – but don’t discount that feeling you get in your stomach about whether or not this person is going to fit well into the company.

Check references

The whole thing about ‘you can’t give a bad reference’ is nonsense – while they might not be able to unleash a tirade of abuse about the person who’s just been fired, an employer can reflect the facts about a person, good or bad – you’ve just got to ask the right questions.

This is an area that warrants spending some thinking time – focus on extracting facts from previous employers, i.e. amount time spent off ill, whether or not the person fulfilled everything in their job description, whether the person had or was facing a disciplinary or performance management issues – etc.

If any of the questions don’t come back as you’d hoped, call the person back in for a further interview and chat about the issues – we’ve all been in jobs where the boss is difficult, so don’t throw a good candidate away just because they’ve had a bad time previously.

Give a very detailed job description

It’s really important to formalise a person’s role. If you were ever to face problems with an employee you don’t want to be in a position where they can say “that’s not in my job description”.

That doesn’t mean a role description can’t change, if there’s an additional aspect to the role you’d like a person to take on then you can talk about adding it – be aware that this is the perfect time for your employee to talk about more money though!

Don’t be afraid to be specific, working times, conduct relating to work, responsibilities – it should all be in here – it keeps everyone’s understanding in the same place.

Think about a trial period

It can be prudent for both parties to opt for a trial or probationary period in a role. If at any time the arrangement isn’t working for either party there can be a discussion about terminating the role – or changing either party’s input.

A 3 or 6-month probationary period shouldn’t be something that hangs like a sword over an employee’s head, if you get to the end of the period and the person asks if they can stay on then you’re doing it wrong! Instead, this should be a period of constant adjustment – are they not quite right on a certain task? Provide some training and set some goals. Are they missing deadlines? Don’t wait until 6 months down the line and tell them to leave – address it now and have a model employee at the end of the probation!

Create a contract

Having a contract in place means formalising all the logistical parts of the role – as well as incorporating the role description you’ve worked on. While you’re likely to do a great job of creating this – it’s worth having someone who’s familiar with employment law look it over to make sure you’re not leaving yourself exposed by omitting anything.

Formalities

As you’re now an employer you’re going to need to abide by various employment laws – but don’t worry, it might sound intimidating but there’s some great formal and legal guidance out there on how to do it to the letter.

You’ll need to:

  • Have insurance in place to cover the employee in the role they’re doing.
  • Register with HMRC as an employer.
  • Be aware of and abide by sickness, working hours, holiday and maternity and paternity laws and regulations.

There’s too much in each of those subjects to explain in depth here – and since they’re legal areas you’re always better to make sure you’re getting your information straight from the HMRC or government to ensure you’re 100% protected.

Don’t worry!

It might feel like a big and worrying step taking someone on and being responsible for their employment – but it’s a vital part of seeing your company grow, so enjoy the first big milestone!

July 14th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

5 other ways to monetise your start-up

The age of the internet has heralded some significant changes in how businesses can make money. If in times of old you were a carpenter then you made your money working with wood – now, a carpenter could far exceed his money made from his actual craft by being smart with how he monetises his ‘brand’ – as opposed to just his products and services.

Thinking of yourself as a brand is the key when you’re imagining ways to create revenue. Instead of thinking about what you do, think about what you know or what you represent – and how to get people to pay for that!

The internet has opened the door to mass exposure if you’re smart with your brand – and here we focus primarily on using online resources to your advantage, although there are a couple of tips that work just as well in ‘real’ life!

  1. Blog

You could be forgiven for thinking that blogs are nothing much more than an online journal – but actually, blogs are an increasingly powerful tool in the world of internet marketing. If you’re creating a company blog it’s tempting to use it as an out and out sales tool – but try your best not to fall into this trap.

For example lets say you are a provider of CCNSG courses in Manchester, now you may think you wouldn’t have a lot to talk about in a blog, but in reality that’s not true! You’re training people so you could post a blog each week interviewing the people who are attending your courses.

The world of online marketing is not as simple as shouting “buy my services” from every conceivable outlet, in fact, that’s likely to be detrimental to your business. Instead, look at offering as much value as you can. That might mean you blog about the equipment you use, techniques relating to your work, tips on how people can engage with your industry – or much more.

By doing so you create a reader base, your articles are shared and the quality of your information speaks volumes – you’ll bolster your own business and you’re likely to attract people who want to ‘guest post’ on your blog. This is where an individual or company gives you an article to post on your blog – in return they attract some of your traffic to their site and their Google listings can be positively influenced by links back to their pages.

Now obviously, this is worth money to them – so it’s something you can ask money to do. The bigger and better your blog and site, the more money you can charge!

  1. Create an ebook

If your business knowledge base extends beyond what could be contained in some blog articles you might want to think about creating an ebook. An ebook can be whatever you want it to be, a guide, a series of shorter articles, a long form piece of text – or anything in between. You might need to employ the services of a designer to give it the professional feel – but this can be done fairly cheaply if you look for a good freelancer.

When your ebook is together you can sell it. Have a look at what’s out there already for some ideas on pricing. Amazon is a good place to start when it comes to a marketplace – but there are dozens of options, so do your homework!

  1. Consult

If you’re at the absolute top of your game you’re likely to have a huge number of people who’d like to replicate your success – and they’re going to be more than willing to pay you to offer some insights on how they can get there! Even if you feel like you’re far from the top of your industry, if you’ve got a business that’s up and running and making some money then you’re head and shoulders above most other people who are starting out. You might take a daily rate for the input you put into their company – or you might contribute your knowledge and time in exchange for a share in the organisation. Either way, your knowledge is worth big money to someone who needs it.

  1. Podcast

If you’re one of those people who cringes when they hear their own voice this might not be for you! However, if you’re willing to talk about what you do – perhaps in conversation with other people in your industry or guests that relate to your line of work, then there’s chance to make some money.

Unless you have some celebrity friends or you’re already world renowned, you’re unlikely to start making money from day 1, however, there have been plenty of podcasts that have seemingly come from nowhere, having gained a strong following quietly before breaking into the mainstream. As podcast popularity grows, so do the people who are willing to give you money to have you talk about their product to your audience. Prices depend on how many people listen and subscribe…

  1. Courses

You might work in an industry that lends itself well to offering your knowledge as training courses. These don’t have to be done through any formal learning institution – instead, you might offer access to some pre-recorded or live coaching videos, perhaps with access to you personally for attendees (either actual or online) thereafter.

This is another way of offering that expertise that people are looking to implement to their own businesses – and actually might be more beneficial to everyone. Studies show that content people have paid for is normally more highly valued than information that has been amassed for free.

If you’re thinking of running a course to offer some knowledge, you might want to think about two (or more) levels of cost, a low-price introduction to your work – and a more highly paid specialised course with the real meaty knowledge contained. Attendees for the first of course being the perfect place to market the second.

Need a third angle?!

So, not only do you have your primary business model – but you now have a number of ways to monetise you, your ‘brand’ and the expertise that surrounds it all. As if that weren’t enough, consider this – you’ve built a business. No matter what your core business, there are universal truths that apply to all businesses – especially when you think about the attitudes and work ethic needed. So, re-read this list thinking not only about your industry and your brand… but your ever-growing business acumen too…

 

July 12th, 2017|Categories: Entrepreneurship, Startups|0 Comments

5 essential entrepreneur habits – and how to make them happen

Attitude counts for much more than ideas and knowledge when you’re in business – you might have the finest mind in your field – but if you can’t be bothered getting out of bed it’s worth very little to anyone.

Habits are the manifestation of established attitudes – for good and for bad. Your ability to spring out of bed in the morning might be driven by positive thoughts about work or life in general, just as your habit of reading every YouTube video comment might be driven by your dislike for the task at hand and a desire to avoid it.

What follows are some habits that will make you a better and more successful entrepreneur, have a look at what might be beneficial – and we’ll explain how to create your desired habits toward the end…

  1. Get good at getting out of bed

Your morning routine paves the way for a good or bad day. Instead of thinking about minimum amount of time needed to get you from bed to desk at the IT Support company in Glasgow you run, start thinking about ideal amount of time and plan around that.

Here’s some reality; if you’re not good with mornings you’re likely to feel tired whether you wake up at 5:30 or 7:30, so why not make it the earlier of the two options but have a good breakfast, stretch, watch the news, walk the dog, go to the gym – or all those other things that will get your brain and body working?

  1. Set goals and keep your eye on them

Your goals are like ideas; they’re worth very little unless you’re doing something with them. If you don’t have a path that will take you toward your perfect scenario then you’re leaving a lot to chance.

A good way to think about goals is to imagine what the end of the day/week/month or year will look like. What would you like to have achieved? How will you get there? Write it down and revisit it at the end of your allotted timescale.

This habit is as much about rewiring your way of thinking as it is about having a long-term to-do list. If you’ve got something to work toward you’re far more likely to be the type of person who gets the job done as your goals are there, even subconsciously, as you choose between a long lazy lunch and grabbing a sandwich and getting back to your desk.

  1. Learn to say no

There are lots of people whose style of social interactions makes them lean toward being amiable even when it’s to their own detriment. If you’re one of these people, sometimes considered “too nice for their own good” – then learning to say no can free up masses of time and energy.

It might sound somewhat brutal, but ask yourself what you, your company or your business gets out of any business interaction. If the answer is little or nothing, then say no. You don’t have to be rude, just explaining that something isn’t going to work for you at the moment leaves the door open to revisit the opportunity or conversation further down the line.

  1. Think of life as a series of time exchanges

If you can get into the habit of assessing the productivity and impact of time spent doing any one thing you’ll start to appreciate time as the limited resource it truly is. This applies to both work and home tasks.

Let’s say you pay yourself £25,000 – meaning your time is worth roughly £100 each day. You need to write the copy for your company website, a task that’s going to give you a headache and take you two days – thus costing the business £200 for your time, plus any missed work or opportunities that wait in your inbox thereafter.

You might feel like it’s the smart move to just get on with it and get it done – when actually, you could outsource the work for £75 while you do £200 worth of work (that only you can do) elsewhere.

Be careful though! This only works if you’re actually doing your own work while paying someone else to perform a task – the second you start a 5-episode run of House of Cards is the moment your time becomes worthless and would have been better spent struggling with that dreaded task!

  1. Look after yourself

There is a scientifically undeniable link between our bodies and our brains. The proof is there for anyone who’s had a hangover then tried to perform a good solid days-worth of work. A good diet and exercise means your brain is functioning as efficiently as is possible, meaning you do more, you’re sharper, mornings are easier, you sleep better, your work and personal relationships are better… and so on.

You would not expect to do your best work if you drank a bottle of vodka at breakfast – yet so many people operate at the cutting edge of their own business having eaten food that makes them sluggish and tired. For most people, breaking the habit of eating unhealthy (but gloriously tasty) food is very difficult – but if you can, your brain and your productivity levels will be extremely thankful…

How to create a habit

Okay, so you know what the success stories of this world do to put them where they want to be, but how do you grab hold of your motivation and turn it into a positive habit? Experts say that the key is repetition.

At first that might be painful repetition you want to kick back against as hard as you can. Let’s take the morning routine example – there are few buttons as tempting as that snooze button, but, go through the barrier of getting up at 5.30am for 21 days and day 22 will be much easier.

Why 21 days?

Neuroscience says 21 days is the time needed for a behaviour to become habitual. Although we’re not going to do the brain science much justice here, essentially the electrical impulses in your brain tend to take known paths, so, previous behaviours create links between the synapses in your brain – and when that situation presents itself again, it’s easier to repeat your past behaviour than it is to try something new.

21 days is the amount of time needed to ‘retrain’ those links in your brain. So, 21 days of your desired habit will see your brain telling you that the alarm going off means get-up – and not ‘fumble around for the snooze’ button. You might well find that hard to believe now, but in three-weeks-time you’ll be a lot more convinced (and productive).

July 12th, 2017|Categories: Entrepreneurship, Productivity|0 Comments

Could a lack of discipline end your start-up?

If you’re starting out in business, you don’t need telling that you’ve got a good idea – you’re the one investing your time, energy and money in it, and the last thing you want is to be bankrupt within the first year or applying for a Trust Deed to help you take control of your financial situation due to a failed business! . However, the question is; if there are so many great ideas in the world, why isn’t everyone starting-up or becoming an entrepreneur?

The answer is simple – it’s hard work. Not everyone’s cut out for hard work, it means apply your focus when there’s other things to do, putting in the extra hours when your friends are socialising and using your time more wisely than you ever have before.

The people who win at business are the ones who don’t hit snooze, they say no to box-set binges and they keep a tight daily regime. Why? Because if your business is going to fly in a world of smart people and good ideas – the only thing that’s going to set you apart is how hard and tirelessly you work. With this is mind, it’s important to think about your levels of discipline – and whether or not it’ll be the thing that hinders your business taking off…

The maths

To look at why discipline matters you need to understand what happens without it. The biggest and most important resource you have when you’re starting a business is time – and luckily for us, we can add that up fairly simply.

So, let’s do it. You’re starting out and putting 10 hours a day into your business, 5 days a week. A total of 50 hours each week spent driving your venture forward. That’s a figure to be proud of right?

But it’s not that simple. Factor in the following:

  • 1 hour for lunch
  • 45 minutes on social media (at least!)
  • 15 minutes on non-work phone calls
  • 4 x 5 minutes making coffee
  • 5 minutes looking for misplaced receipts/pens/phone chargers

By the time you’ve stopped to use the toilet, that’s 2.5 hours every day. 12.5 hours a week – or 575 hours over a normal 46-week year. You haven’t misread that, 575 hours. 11 and a half weeks of your year go to that stuff. And let’s be honest, for every time-consuming habit that’s on the list, there’s another 5 that we haven’t added in.

A broader lack of discipline

It’s not just distractions that cause you to lose time and productivity either, got a hangover? Kiss goodbye to your best work for the day. Eating 3 sausage rolls and donut for lunch? Good luck staying awake when that mid-afternoon blood-sugar crash kicks in. Can’t be bothered keeping your paperwork in order? Enjoy the pressured half an hour of trying to find a quote when a customer’s expecting a call back.

A lack of discipline will bleed into every aspect of your life if you don’t tackle it. Sure, maybe you can name a couple of people who’ve made it despite being lazy and unmotivated – but they’re the exception to the rule – and if it’s what you aspire for, you’re on a path that is 99.9% certain to end with failure. Fancy those odds?

Your business – your attitude

The point is, the dozens of tiny little distractions and bad habits you have that don’t matter to you when you’re working for a big corporate suddenly do matter when you’re the boss. And it’s not just the massive amount of time that is taken up with non-work ‘stuff’ that impacts your business, it’s the lack of focus and discipline that leaves you with an attitude that allows Facebook to be prioritised over reaching for your goals.

The world is against you

Here’s where we cut you some slack – you’re not at all alone if you struggle with distractions and focus. A person’s attention is one of the most valuable commodities for any business, so you better believe that the world you live and work in is designed to encourage you to part with your time rather than invest it. It’s when you conquer this beast that you start to win.

There’s an ancient African proverb about exactly this kind of problem: “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion” – and it’s important to consider this. The lion represents everything that distracts, discourages and represents the failure of what you want to achieve. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fighting with your own levels of discipline – and that’s great, being aware of the lion is the first step toward tying it up.

Discipline does not come in pill form, you can’t take one step and make yourself 100% productive. Instead, you can create dozens, if not hundreds of tiny habits that all represent one out of the mass of spider webs that are going to bring that lack-of-discipline lion down.

Where to start

This is not a lesson in how to structure your day – because one person’s perfect day is another person’s nightmare. Instead, you need to take a good, deep and searching look at exactly what you do on a day to day basis. Lets say you have just launched a new company that provided stainless steel banding products worldwide and you have a revenue target to reach each month.

Get a notepad. It’s going to stay with you for the day or the week. Don’t put it down or forget about it, this is probably the most important notepad you’ve ever had.

Every time you do something, write it down. Check Facebook 6 times before breakfast? Note it. Skip the gym? Note it. Have a productive call with a supplier? Note it. Your time with the notepad isn’t about judgement, you might think things are good or bad, but reserve your judgement for now.

When the end of the day or the week comes around, spend some time thinking about where you want your business to be a year from now. Dream big, be unrealistic – think absolute best-case scenario. Now look over your notepad and ask yourself about every single action that’s in there – “Is this helping me toward or keeping me from my goal?”

No magic pill

We’ve already told you, there’s no magic pill that’s going to turn you into an ultra-disciplined success story overnight – instead, you’re going to want to tackle each of the habits that you’ve dropped into the ‘keeping me from my goals’ category one by one.

Tying up a lion isn’t an easy job, in fact, it’s probably the hardest part of being an entrepreneur – hence, it’s the part that causes most people to fail. But awareness is the very best place to start from, so, grab a notepad, observe yourself, look honestly at what needs to change and start building the real path to your own success.

July 11th, 2017|Categories: News|0 Comments

3 Big Types Of Business Advice From Consultancies

Are you looking for business advice? Business consultancies can help by providing professional and customized advice. The goal is to improve the company in the areas it needs to do better, like sales, hardware/software, management, operations, etc.

An effective consultancy can design a customized solution for companies that will help to deal with their biggest problems. Here are some of the main areas business consultants can help with:

  1. Finance

There are various issues companies might be dealing with in terms of their finances. There are several possible issues including cash flow, expansion, budgets, sales/profits, and others. This is easily one of the most important issues for any company since a company will want to get/stay out of debt and achieve cash flow positive.

A consultancy can help with these issues. For example, a company might need professional accounting advice to get its bookkeeping in order. Budgeting might be another issue to provide enough funding for the company’s day-to-day operations. What’s important is that a business consultancy can help with these kinds of money matters. That, in turn, can help the company to maintain better finances and become more profitable.

  1. Marketing

The Internet has changed the business world. Today there are several channels for marketing including email, social, mobile, web, etc. It all starts with a solid marketing strategy that serves as a blueprint for your company to achieve its marketing goals/objectives.

A business consultancy can help with these issues. For example, an SEO consultant can evaluate your company’s search marketing strategy and determine what is and isn’t working. They can also help with making your marketing more effective. For example, if you’re not using social marketing it’s something a consultant can help to design and launch.

if you’re looking to run PPC campaigns to help grow your business quickly then a consultant can also be beneficial to work with, however if you want to manage this in-house in the short term then there’s a lot of useful information online. For example this article from SEMrush who look at the impact your CTR can have on your overall quality score.

Marketing is one of the most important departments of any company. The problem is that many companies aren’t using an effective strategy to get the word out about their company.

There are various issues but one of the biggest ones is finding a company’s target market. If you learn who your target market is, you can then design your marketing strategy to reach those people.  For example, it’s critical to pinpoint which social platforms they tend to use. Sometimes a company’s target market tends to use a niche platform like Reddit instead of Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The key to effective marketing is to boost your company’s conversion rates, sales, profits, and margins. Achieving those goals all start with developing effective marketing for the right audience.

  1. Technology

This is another area a business consultancy can help with. The tech world is constantly changing so it’s important to know some of the latest innovations in terms of hardware, software, networks, etc. This will help your company to improve its operations and stay competitive in whatever sector you’re in.

Why should you consider the services of a consultancy? Today’s companies often have a tech/IT department to deal with issues like hardware/software. However, it’s quite another thing to know how your company should upgrade or change its technologies to use them more effectively.

Network issues are becoming particularly important today. Tools, like cloud storage, are valuable tools for storing the huge amount of data companies are collecting. A consultancy can be effective in determining which cloud service is the best option for your company’s applications, for example.

Technology issues can also prevent your company from staying completive in your sector. It’s critical to know which technologies are trending so you can stay ahead of rival companies by implementing ones that are the best options.

These are some of the main areas a business consultancy can help with.

July 8th, 2017|Categories: Consultancy Business Advice|0 Comments

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