Latest News from Office Assistants

Office Assistants regularly updates this page with our latest news releases and bulletins, so keep it bookmarked!

Key Ruling in the Long Running Self Employed or Employed Argument
Added: 11 November 2017
Is your workforce employed or self-employed? The recent high profile case involving Uber drivers may well have connotations for other employers operating businesses on a similar basis. The issue of employment status is considered serious by HMRC, which is keen to get to the bottom of whether claims by business owners that its workforce is self-employed are genuine.
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The Importance of Getting Your Buildings Reinstatement Value Right
Added: 6 November 2017
The property from which you operate your business is obviously of vital importance. What would you do if it was completely wiped out? No doubt you'd rely on your buildings insurance to cover you for full reinstatement. If this is the case, then you'll need to check something vitally important: that your buildings reinstatement value has been quoted correctly on your insurance policy.
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GDPR Essentials for Businesses
Added: 1 November 2017
Back in August we wrote about how a new Data Protection Bill was set to be published in September this year which would bring the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law. GDPR is now officially due to come into force on 25th May 2018 and will mark the most wide-ranging change to global privacy law in two decades.
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Why Employers Need to Beware of Vicarious Liability
Added: 16 October 2017
Employers insure their own risks, covering themselves for actions they take that may lead to a claim for compensation. But what about the actions of their employees or third parties, where does an employer stand should a claim be made against them for something someone else has done? Vicarious liability is the situation where employers could be liable to pay damages where someone who works for them, either employed or outsourced, causes losses or personal injury to another through actions taken during the course of their duties.
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How to Get Your New Business Off the Ground
Added: 9 October 2017
Had an idea for a business? All businesses start with an idea, but you need to take the next step and transform that idea into something tangible. It's at this stage that you may start to feel overwhelmed and lost at sea. However, it's not actually as challenging as you might think, especially if you break the overall task list into smaller, bite-size chunks that you find more manageable. The following advice should help you segregate the process and get moving with your business idea.
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Autumn Budget 2017 Predictions
Added: 2 October 2017
The Autumn Budget of 2017 is set to take place on Wednesday November 22, with the major annual financial update by Chancellor Philip Hammond switching from the spring. Here we take a look at what is potentially on the cards.
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Beware the Employee Private Admin Cyber Security Risk
Added: 10 September 2017
It is a much discussed fact that one of the greatest threats to data security is the human factor, rather than technology. Whilst you may invest heavily in firewalls and virus protection, cyber-attacks so often come down to human error. It is said that employees using company networks to carry out private admin is one of the most significant risks, and employers need to realise just how serious this risk could be.
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To Sit, or to Stand - Modern Working Methods Examined
Added: 7 September 2017
Working days are getting longer and breaks are getting shorter. Sitting down for hours without much movement can have a negative effect on health. It can lead to cardiovascular issues as well as diabetes. So is it time for employers to start considering alternatives? In Scandinavia, sit-stand desks are commonplace, with more than 90 per cent of PC-using office personnel making use of them. The benefits are said to be manifold.
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Charity Urging Businesses to Increase Employment for those with Learning Disabilities
Added: 1 September 2017
Registered charity Mencap is trying to encourage employers to make use of apprenticeships to boost levels of employment for potential employees with learning disabilities.
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Regular Voluntary Overtime Included in Holiday Pay
Added: 8 August 2017
Towards the end of last year, we discussed in an article how holiday pay must now include results based commission. Further to this and no doubt of even further concern to business owners, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently confirmed that payments for overtime undertaken on a purely voluntary basis should be included in holiday pay, providing they are paid regularly enough to constitute 'normal pay'.
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GDPR to Become Law Next Month
Added: 6 August 2017
A new Data Protection Bill is due to be published in September 2017, bringing the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law. Under GDPR, individuals will be awarded a new right to request that their personal data is completely erased. UK law will extend this right by requiring social media providers to delete all of a personal's posts from before they were under 18, if requested.
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New Rules on PSC Registers
Added: 1 August 2017
As of April 2016, most UK limited companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) have been required to hold and maintain a register of people with significant control. The PSC Register as it is known must be filed with Companies House on incorporation and as part of a company's annual confirmation statement as of June 2016. With the regime only still fairly new, it has come as something of a surprise to the business world that changes have already been introduced as of 26th June 2017.
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How to Protect Your Business Against Cyber Attacks
Added: 17 July 2017
The worldwide cyber-attack that brought the NHS to its knees recently has definitely reiterated the threats faced by businesses working in the modern digital environment. The much publicised attack made use of hacking tools to spread ransomware known as 'WannaCry'. Not only did it affect the NHS, but also global shipping outfit FedEx as well as more than 300,000 computers over 150 countries. So how to protect against cyber attacks?
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Digital Signatures Now Permissible by law
Added: 11 July 2017
The process of obtaining written signatures on contracts has long been a serious challenge for businesses in the B2B sector. It can lead to lowered productivity, difficulties in closing deals and delayed projects. Electronic signatures have been used for many years, but they have long been questioned from a legal point of view, which has led business owners to put off relying on them. The good news is, however, that in 2016, a significant milestone came about concerning the adoption of e-signatures.
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New Inheritance Tax Allowance Sparks Good News for Direct Descendants
Added: 1 July 2017
On 6th April 2017, amendments were made to inheritance tax law courtesy of the new 'residence nil rate inheritance tax break' came into operation. The new 'nil rate band' applies where a residence passes to a direct descendent.
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The Importance of Having a Dynamic Lockdown Strategy
Added: 12 June 2017
Now the UK's threat level has been raised to critical, businesses really should be listening to the Government's advice to develop a 'dynamic lockdown' strategy. Here we look at what a dynamic lockdown strategy involves and how you can go about preparing one.
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What You Need to Know About Making Tax Digital
Added: 8 June 2017
Chancellor Philip Hammond's March Budget was pretty much all doom and gloom although the backtracking on the self-employed National Insurance Contributions hike was a welcome relief. One other glimmer of hope came in the shape of a delay to the introduction of the Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime which means that the self-employed, buy-to-let landlords, sole traders and small businesses that fall below the VAT threshold of £85,000 (as of 1 April 2017) will have an extra year to get ready for MTD. There is also a promise on the part of the government to consult on the design elements of tax administration in an attempt to streamline the system for taxpayers.
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Employers of Non EEA Workers Now Facing Increased Costs
Added: 2 June 2017
From 6 April 2017, the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017 are in operation. These Regulations call for sponsoring employers of migrant workers employed under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system to pay a new charge known as the 'Immigration Skills Charge'. Here we answer the most commonly asked questions on the subject.
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Useful HMRC Resources
Added: 14 May 2017
As a business owner, and particularly as a sole trader, keeping up with what you need to do to comply with HMRC's rules and regulations can be a little daunting. But did you know that there is actually a whole range of HMRC resources available to help you? With everything from webinars to email alerts on a range of subjects from self-assessment to VAT returns, there is a range of tools available to you on the HMRC website which can help with the smooth running of your business.
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The Benefits of Business Forums to the Small Business Owner
Added: 7 May 2017
Any good businessperson will know the benefits of a trustworthy network of suppliers and contacts. Businesses often grow through word of mouth, but in addition to referrals, you may well need to call upon other professions that you can trust to help and advise in certain situations. Business forums are a great place to network and make these connections, as well as being a place to exchange ideas and find support.
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How to Attend Business Meetings Without Travelling
Added: 2 May 2017
Doing business face to face and collaborating with others has always been an essential part of trade. Apart from the fact that things can often get lost in translation when done by telephone or email, putting the personal touch into negotiations often goes a long way towards problem solving or sealing the deal. Obviously, it's not always easy, economical or convenient to travel to meetings, but this doesn't mean you can't do business face to face. The good news is that modern technology can help to overcome this obstacle.
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Important Dates for the Small Business Pension Diary 2017
Added: 11 April 2017
Approximately 500,000 small to medium sized businesses will set up a workplace pension this year. Indeed, it's the biggest ever year for workplace pension enrolment. If you're a small to medium business that will be required under the regime to provide a workplace pension, there are certain key dates that you need to have in your pension diary for this year. These are as follows.
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Warning for Employers over Tough New Health & Safety Sentencing Regime
Added: 4 April 2017
Two recent prosecutions by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have brought home the gravity of the reformed and far more stringent health and safety offence sentencing guidelines which were introduced in February 2016.
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What the 2017 Budget Means for the Smaller Business
Added: 1 April 2017
For many small business owners, the 2017 Budget will have cast more gloom than it did sunshine. Listening to Chancellor Philip Hammond will have left many small firms worried about the impact the budget will have on their bottom line, but it's important to stay abreast of any changes so that you can plan accordingly. These are the main points from this year's Budget that will affect small businesses in the coming period.
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Getting it Right with Subject Access Rights
Added: 6 March 2017
At any given time an employee can ask to see any personal data that their employer holds on them. This is known as a 'subject access request', and when it happens employers need to tread very carefully.
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What VAT Registered Businesses Need to Know About the 2017 Flat Rate Scheme Changes
Added: 3 March 2017
The VAT Flat Rate Scheme was introduced over a decade ago to make paying VAT easier for small businesses by removing the complex need for record keeping. However, from 1st April this year, the government is setting the Flat Rate at 16.5 per cent for all limited costs traders.
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The Apprenticeship Levy Explained
Added: 1 March 2017
Later on this year, large organisations will be subject an Apprenticeship Levy as the government changes legislation surrounding apprenticeships. Although it will mainly be large employers that are affected by the levy, there may well be some effect on small businesses too. So what do you need to know? Here we explain what the apprenticeship levy is, when it comes into effect and who will be affected by it.
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The Latest Business Trends for 2017
Added: 10 February 2017
If you want to get ahead of the trend in business, you need to be constantly ahead of the trends in life. Small businesses are appearing all the time, and those that are successful will have kept a keen eye on emerging trends and new technologies. Now that we're in the New Year, it's the perfect time to brush up on what's new in business, both in terms of the latest technology and those emerging markets which are going to be big business in 2017.
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How to Use the Internet of Things to Your Advantage as a Small Business
Added: 6 February 2017
Nowadays, the Internet of Things allows us to control everything from our heating to our TV recording devices via the internet. But how can this connectivity help small businesses? Well, as the possibilities are almost endless, there are multiple ways that small businesses can take advantage of the IoT. Here are just a few examples of how it can help your brand.
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New Legislation Every Business Needs to Know About in 2017
Added: 1 February 2017
If you are a business owner or an employer, you'll know that with every New Year that rolls around, new legislation comes with it. 2017 is no exception to this, and there is a variety of new rules and laws on the horizon. Business owners need to be aware of what's about to change, so here's a guide to what you need to know this year.
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Understanding the Law on Unfair Terms and Conditions
Added: 11 January 2017
The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a campaign to help customers know the rules on unfair terms and conditions and to help businesses keep within the law when it comes to unfair terms. But, according to a poll carried out by the CMA, 54 percent of business owners to not understand the rules themselves.
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New Small Business Taskforce to Speak up for SMEs
Added: 6 January 2017
A new taskforce has been set up to act as the lobbying voice for small to medium sized businesses in the UK. By bringing together some of the key SME membership organisations into one lobbying group, it is thought that the Small Business Taskforce, which is the brainchild of Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation, will become the voice of small businesses.
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Banks Must Now Offer an Alternative to Businesses Turned Down for Finance
Added: 2 January 2017
From 1st November, it became a legal obligation for the UK's nine major banks to refer any small to medium businesses who they have refused for finance to an alternative provider.
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Why Directors Facing Insolvency Must Beware Transactions at Undervalue
Added: 9 December 2016
When a director of a company is facing insolvency, the thought may well occur to them to that it may be a good idea to sell or transfer company assets as quickly as possible in order to protect them. However, it's actually a requirement for company directors to maximise creditor returns during insolvency, and therefore by selling or transferring assets at an undervalue they could be considered to be carrying out wrongful or fraudulent trading. Company directors therefore need to be very careful of transactions at undervalue if they are facing insolvency.
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Fake Bailiff Warning for Businesses
Added: 5 December 2016
Local businesses have been warned of a fake bailiff scam. Police have been warning businesses that conmen are contacting companies requesting payment for non-existent debt.
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Are you Wasting Too Much Time on Admin?
Added: 1 December 2016
Do you find yourself constantly tied up in the red tape of admin? Struggling with day to day financial tasks such as tax calculations and payroll, when all you really want to do is work on the products and services you offer? If so, you're not alone.
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Accentism - the Latest Workplace Discrimination Issue?
Added: 4 November 2016
Employers currently have a duty to protect workers from harassment and victimisation that is based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, race or age. Now there is a suggestion that accents should be added to that list.
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An Employer's Guide to Brexit
Added: 2 November 2016
Following the Brexit referendum there is some disquiet and anxiety in the working world of the UK. Some employees from EU countries are worried about whether they will be able to remain in their jobs here and some even feel unwelcome. The wave of hate crime in the streets has reinforced that feeling.
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Holiday Pay Must Include Results Based Commission Says New Ruling
Added: 1 November 2016
While the business community awaits the results of the Brexit deliberations of the UK government, of course, EU Law continues to influence the rulings of UK judges. A recent judgement in the Court of Appeal could have serious implications for any business that has employees on commission schemes.
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How to Patent Your Invention
Added: 7 October 2016
If you believe an idea or invention you are working on will take off and be valuable to you, you need to protect it as your intellectual property. The way to do this might be via trademarks, design rights or binding non-disclosure agreements or you might decide to apply for a patent.
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How to Deal with Reference Requests
Added: 3 October 2016
When an employee gives you notice that they will be leaving at the end of the term specified in their contract of employment, you know that they will probably be requesting that you give them a written reference to pass to their new employer. You may also receive reference requests for past employees from their new employer.
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Insurance Act Now in Force, What Businesses Need to Know
Added: 1 October 2016
The Insurance Act 2015 came into force on 12 August 2016. It is intended to make for a fairer balance of interests between the insured and the insurer.
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How Flexible Working Makes Businesses Attractive to Employees
Added: 10 September 2016
When you are considering the type of people you want to join your business, and how to attract them, you would do well to look at your working practices, especially if you are competing for a small pool of good people.
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Carrying Over Annual Leave - What you Need to Know as an Employer
Added: 7 September 2016
As an employer you will be aware that you are obliged to give your staff 5.6 weeks annual leave, or the appropriate proportion of that for part-time personnel. You can, of course, offer more than that if you want to offer a really attractive contract and compete with other companies to gain and retain a loyal and motivated team.
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New Immigration Act Rules Now in Force
Added: 2 September 2016
On 12 July 2016 new legislation on employing illegal workers came into force. According to the Immigration Act 2016, if a worker is found to be in the UK illegally, the government no longer has to prove that the employer knew about it. If this were to happen in your business, you could be prosecuted if you had 'reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment' because of being in the country illegally.
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How to Deal with Bank Holidays and Part Time Workers
Added: 8 August 2016
Under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, it is illegal to treat any workers differently from their colleagues, and this applies as much to how leave is allowed and paid as to anything else. All employees must have at least the minimum annual leave entitlement. For those working a five day week or more, this is 28 days a year. Those working fewer days or hours must be given the appropriate proportion of this amount.
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New Tax Rules Affecting Company Distributions
Added: 5 August 2016
In previous years it has been financially advantageous for business owners and directors to take a small salary during the year, and take a lump sum dividend at its end. This is because the rates of dividend tax have been much less than the rates of income tax. From 6 April 2016, however, this changed and dividend tax has been raised.
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What you Need to Know About the New Confirmation Statement
Added: 1 August 2016
If you own or are with a company that normally submits an annual return to Companies House, since 30 June 2016, you can no longer do this. Instead you must file a Confirmation Statement. Failure to comply could mean prosecution for yourself and any other directors or officers of the business as well as the company itself. Late filing can carry severe financial penalties.
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Common Misconceptions About Claiming VAT Back
Added: 11 July 2016
When you are completing your VAT return and claiming back VAT you have paid on purchases, it should be a simple job that is easily completed. But it is also easy to get things wrong without even knowing. Some of the rules are complicated and unfortunately, ignorance is no defence if HMRC pick up your mistakes. They can, and will, impose heavy penalties.
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All you Need to Know About Secondments
Added: 8 July 2016
Have you ever thought about taking on a secondee from another business? A secondment can be particularly useful when there is a need for temporary help, perhaps to get you through a particularly busy period or to cover another staff member's maternity or parental leave, or long term sickness. Would it be a good idea to second one of your staff members elsewhere to help someone out, or to acquire skills that would be useful in your own business?
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Why the Human Touch is Still so Crucial in Customer Service
Added: 1 July 2016
'Press one for x, press two for xx, three for xxx, four to talk to one of our customer service representatives.' How many times have you fumed through this scenario and breathed a sigh of relief when you heard the final option? Why do you occasionally see companies proudly announcing that you will always talk to a person when you call them? Doesn't it make you feel good when you enter a shop and a member of staff steps up to welcome you in with a beaming smile?
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Time to Update Your Display Screen Equipment Risk Assessments
Added: 11 June 2016
Pretty well any time you buy new business equipment, you need to produce a new risk assessment. Work stations, which comprise equipment such as desks, chairs, monitors and other display screens, are no exception.
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The 'Gig Economy' - a Guide for Employers
Added: 3 June 2016
A new buzzword in the business world is the 'gig economy', but do you know for sure what it means? Some people think it just refers to being able to use websites such as People per Hour where you place your bid for services offered. Others give it a much wider application as if it refers to using any freelancers for specific projects.
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A Guide to Employing Executive Staff
Added: 1 June 2016
In a small business, hiring your first member of staff is an important step which some first time entrepreneurs approach with trepidation. Once that first time is under your belt you become more confident, and might even get blasé about. But how much more difficult it is when you want to bring in a number two or a finance or marketing director. You want people with skills to complement your own, and you may be way out of your comfort zone.
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Shared Parental Leave - the Story so Far
Added: 6 May 2016
One year after the introduction of shared parental leave for parents of babies born on or after 1 April 2014, surveys on take-up were undertaken. Reports in the press declared it to be very poor, but it seems they got the wrong end of the stick.
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How the EU Referendum will Affect Small Businesses and Employers
Added: 4 May 2016
June 23rd 2016 is when the UK public will vote on whether or not to remain in the EU. If the result of the referendum is to leave, the government must notify the European Council. There will then be a two year period of negotiations before we can finally exit. Not until then will we know what kind of relationship we will have with EU countries or whether we can still have access to the single market. It is therefore difficult to predict the effect of a withdrawal on small businesses, but various people have suggested a number of scenarios.
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National Living Wage: Common Questions Answered
Added: 1 May 2016
Each time new regulations are introduced, they throw up many questions that need to be answered to be sure of compliance. On 1 April 2016 the national living wage (NLW) of £7.20 per hour became the minimum amount that employers could pay workers aged 25 or over. Here are our answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about this.
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Two Important Insurance Policies Businesses Think They Have (But usually do NOT have)
Added: 8 April 2016
It is a legal requirement for any company that employees staff to hold employer's liability insurance, and no doubt there will be numerous other policies you hold as a business owner. But do they cover every area for which you need protection?
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What to Consider When Taking on Your First Employee
Added: 4 April 2016
When your business has developed to the point where you need additional help, courage is needed for the next step. It has to be taken though, otherwise your business won't be able to grow any more.According to the government's web page about taking on your first employees, there are seven things you need to take action on immediately. Actually you'll find there is a lot more to it than that, but its list is a good starting point.
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A Useful Summary of Employment Law Changes April 2016
Added: 1 April 2016
April 2016 sees the introduction of a number of changes to employment law. If you are an employer, read on for a summary.
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Preparing for the New Rules on PSC Registers
Added: 11 March 2016
One of the most far reaching changes this 6th of April is the introduction of the need for the majority of UK companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) to start keeping a register of 'people with significant control'. The 'PSC register' as it will be known is a new statutory register which has been formulated to make sure the people that ultimately own and control a company are identified.
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Four Things to Consider Before Going it Alone with Self Employment
Added: 7 March 2016
Self employment in the UK reached an all time high of 4.5 million in 2014. The benefits are many: freedom to work the hours you want; control your own earnings; take holidays when you wish; challenge yourself. But is it right for you? If you are considering taking the plunge into working for yourself, here are four key things to think about before you do so.
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Important Change to the Law on Contractual Penalties
Added: 1 March 2016
On 4th November 2015, judgements were made in the Supreme Court that have clarified the law on penalties in contracts. The decisions on two cases mark the first authoritative final appeal court decisions in 100 years that comprehensively address and amend the law surrounding contract penalties.
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A Guide to Keeping Employees Happy and Fulfilled
Added: 15 February 2016
Finding good employees takes time and investment, so once you get the right people in your organisation, you really want to hold onto them. Money may seem like the obvious lure in this respect, but this won't always be possible, and in fact there are things that can mean a lot more to your staff. Here are some ideas to help you retain your star workforce.
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Why You Need to Take Care Over Employment Advertising
Added: 8 February 2016
If you are recruiting in 2016 you will need to heed the recently released advice of the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) when putting together the wording for your advertisements.
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Businesses Need to Prepare for the National Living Wage
Added: 1 February 2016
April 2016 will see the introduction of the compulsory national living wage. The new minimum wage of £7.20 per hour is set to become law for all working people aged 25 plus. The National Living Wage will have to be paid as a minimum by all employers, and the Government aims for it to rise to £9 per hour by 2020.
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Tax Changes Affecting Buy to Let Investors
Added: 15 January 2016
Back in August we reported on how the landlord fair wear and tear allowance was to be scrapped as of April this year, and how tax relief on buy to let mortgages was also set to be decreased down to the basic rate by 2019. Then there was the news that landlords would face a change to the way tax is paid when a buy-to-let property is sold. Now we hear that stamp duty changes will also be introduced in April this year, applying to anyone purchasing additional residential property.
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What you Need to Know About Gender Pay Gap Reporting
Added: 8 January 2016
Early this year, draft Regulations will be published by the Government that will call for larger employers to publish information detailing any differences in gender pay. Information about variations in pay between men and women will have to be provided and this will need to include a single annual figure setting out the gender pay gap and the method by which the calculations have been made.
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Data Protection Law to see Biggest Change in 20 Years
Added: 1 January 2016
An agreement was reached on the draft EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at the end of 2015, and it signifies the dawn of momentous changes to privacy law: the biggest changes in two decades.
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Your Handy Business Travel Checklist
Added: 13 December 2015
You're off on a business trip. Amongst all the meeting preparation, getting your presentation ready and making sure your laptop is charged, there is still your packing to do. Overlook this at your peril, however, because there will always be something vital you'll wish you never left behind. If you're packing in a hurry for a business trip, use this at-a-glance guide to make sure you don't miss anything essential.
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Statutory Pay Freeze for 2016
Added: 4 December 2015
The Government has announced that there will be no annual increase in various types of statutory pay in 2016.
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Crucial Christmas Considerations for Employers
Added: 1 December 2015
It's that time of year when as an employer, you are faced with a raft of trials and tribulations. Christmas always tends to throw up all sorts of issues where annual leave, discipline and discrimination are concerned. Here are some of our top tips on what you should be doing in order to deal with these issues effectively, so that your workplace Christmas can be a peaceful one.
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What you Need to Know About Competition Law
Added: 11 November 2015
Competition law promotes or seeks to maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct amongst companies. Any company that fails to comply with UK or EU competition law will meet with serious consequences.
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Employee Referral Schemes Could Help you Find the Right Staff
Added: 5 November 2015
If like a significant number of employers you find it a challenge to source the right calibre of personnel for your business and have exhausted all the traditional avenues such as advertising, recruitment consultants and social media, there is another initiative you may wish to try.
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How to Guard your Small Business Against a Cyber Attack
Added: 1 November 2015
The very recent major website cyber breach suffered by TalkTalk has left businesses exceptionally worried. And with the increasing use of the cloud to store confidential data and information, it is no wonder. So what to do? You need to focus on minimising your vulnerabilities, and implement policies and initiatives that are rolled out throughout the business, including to any remote workers.
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Taking Care of Lone Workers
Added: 9 October 2015
According to the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), more than six million UK employees work without supervision or in isolated conditions, and a high proportion of these work in situations or locations that pose a considerable risk. If you employ lone workers, or any of your staff may be at particular risk then the following information may prove very useful.
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Petition to Halt New Tax on Share Dividends
Added: 5 October 2015
As of April 2016, notional 10% tax credit on dividends will be abolished. Instead, a £5,000 tax-free dividend allowance will be brought in. Dividends above this level will be taxed at 7.5% on the basic rate, 32.5% on the higher rate and 38.1% on the additional rate. The changes have been met by much furore amongst the small business community, and a campaign has been launched with the aim of attracting the support of 100,000 business leaders via signatures on a petition.
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Important Considerations for Employers of Remote Workers
Added: 1 October 2015
The Office for National Statistics reports that 13.9 per cent of UK workers carry out their jobs remotely. That translates as 4.2 million people, and it is a figure that is on the rise. As an employer offering remote working, you will enjoy numerous benefits, but there are a lot of considerations to take into account, from data protection and insurance to health and safety.
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Tax Cut Makes Rent a Room Scheme Even More Attractive
Added: 7 September 2015
If you rent out a spare room, whether to a lodger or to holiday or business travellers, there is good news in store. The Rent a Room scheme has since its introduction a few years back offered the opportunity to earn extra income. Up until now, the scheme has allowed the people doing the renting to earn up to £4,250 a year tax free, or £2,125 if renting out jointly. This amount has been frozen since 1997. However, from 2016 this amount is set to rise to £7,500 and £3,250 respectively.
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Does your Company Logo Actually Belong to your Company?
Added: 4 September 2015
Most businesses have a logo these days; even the smallest companies appreciate the importance of carrying an identity to reinforce their brand. Logos form a significant part of the marketing armoury because they allow people to instantly recognise a business. With this in mind, it may come as something of a surprise that in some cases, companies don't actually own their own logos. Here is a story to illustrate what we appreciate has probably come as something of a shock to you.
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Dealing with E-Cigarettes in the Workplace
Added: 2 September 2015
Employers are having a hard time dealing with the scenario of e-cigarettes in the workplace, for numerous reasons. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says that in the region of 2.1 million adults in the UK use e-cigarettes, which raises the question of whether or not a company's smoking policy should differentiate between the use of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
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Landlord Wear and Tear Allowance to be Scrapped
Added: 8 August 2015
The July budget headline that mortgage interest relief for private landlords is to be restricted to the basic rate of income tax has perhaps overshadowed another announcement by the Chancellor that is going to leave landlords reeling. By April 2016, the current system whereby landlords of furnished residential properties are allowed to deduct 10 per cent as a tax break for wear and tear will be no more. Instead, only actual costs incurred will be deductible.
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Fit for Work Service Now in Place
Added: 5 August 2015
The Fit for Work service, formerly known as the Health and Work Service, is now in place and ready to provide occupational health assistance to employees, employers and GPs, free of charge.
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Changes to the Law on Marketing Calls and Texts
Added: 1 August 2015
When the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) was given enhanced powers on 6th April 2015 allowing action to be taken against companies making nuisance calls and sending spam messages, the whole marketing landscape changed.
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Preparing for Consumer Rights Act 2015 Changes
Added: 11 July 2015
As a business you have until 1 October this year to make sure your staff are aware of the rest of the changes being brought in by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The Act replaces various laws surrounding business-to-consumer transactions, including the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. It serves to outline a clearer path for consumers to understand their rights and the solutions available to them should services or goods fail to be fit for purpose.
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Underinsurance Warning for Businesses
Added: 6 July 2015
The Building Cost Information Service, part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, has announced that close to 80% of UK commercial properties could be underinsured for rebuild costs by as much as 60%. For a property worth £500,000 this would mean a shortfall of £300,000: a very worrying thought.
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What you Need to Know When Taking on an Apprentice
Added: 1 July 2015
If you've been thinking about taking on one or more apprentices as a way to fill skills gaps in a cost effective way, taking advantage of the various apprenticeship grants that are often available, you probably have a selection of questions when it comes to things like their rights, pay and training. In this article we run through some of the most frequently asked questions about apprentices to help you obtain a clearer picture before you make your decision.
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New Regulations Affecting Building Developments with a Commercial Nature
Added: 7 June 2015
If you are planning building or renovation works that have a commercial nature - and that includes developing or refurbishing property that you intend to let, or constructing an outbuilding for use as an office or commercial workshop for example - then you should read on.
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How to Avoid Late Payment and Prevent Cashflow Problems
Added: 4 June 2015
Whilst late payment can lead to detrimental cashflow issues, a lot of companies take the decision to not pursue debtors too strongly, concerned about losing their business. But staying in control of outstanding accounts with regular reminders is a good way to do business, and most customers will realise that you are simply doing what is necessary to keep afloat. Chasing debts though should be considered a secondary measure. In fact, it is something that could be avoided for the most part by putting certain processes in place. Here are five such processes that could make all the difference to your business.
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Getting Your Business Ready for Summer
Added: 1 June 2015
Summer is generally one of those times in the business calendar when requests for leave escalate. It can be a challenging time for any business owner and one for which planning ahead is essential so that you can be sure your operation continues as normal.
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Are you Familiar with the Sunday Working Rules?
Added: 9 May 2015
If you run a business that operates on Sundays, then it is important you make yourself aware of the rules surrounding Sunday working as there are various obligations you need to adhere to.
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Take Care When Telemarketing to Avoid Costly Fines
Added: 5 May 2015
If you have decided to take advantage of increased confidence in the economy and boost your marketing efforts, something you may be thinking about trying is telemarketing. It is certainly a very popular initiative, but, as with all marketing, there are particular guidelines you need to adhere to. So before you get started on your campaign, have a read of this article so you can get it off the ground whilst staying within the law.
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Toll Fraud - The Latest Threat to Businesses
Added: 1 May 2015
When you hear about 'hacking', you automatically think of attempts to gain access to your data, or your website. Whilst these are of course very real threats that cost businesses billions collectively, there is something else that is becoming a significant problem, and that is telephone hacking, otherwise known as 'toll fraud' or 'phreaking'.
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The Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Act 2015
Added: 10 April 2015
The Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill was introduced to Parliament in June 2014 and received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015. The Act has the intention of fostering and encouraging entrepreneurial spirit in the UK, and will impact upon a number of company and employment law matters. Smaller, privately owned companies are likely to experience the greatest impact.
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Employment Law Changes April 2015
Added: 7 April 2015
The spring is the bearer of brighter weather, but of course we all know it also means a raft of new legislation is introduced that has us all doing a spring clean of our employment policies and procedures. Here we take a brief look at each of the changes coming in this month.
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The Vital Importance of Partnership Agreements
Added: 2 April 2015
When starting out in business with a friend, colleague or relative, it is easy to think that everything will continue remain as pleasant and smooth running for the long term as it is at the beginning. However, it is important to realise that business partnerships can go wrong. Relationships can turn sour for all sorts of reasons, in particular where things like the obligations and duties and financial input of each partner are not clearly defined. The most common reason for a business partnership to fail is a lack of a written partnership agreement.
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How to Choose a Name for your New Business
Added: 14 March 2015
When you're setting up a new business, probably the most important step you'll take is choosing a name for it. Changing a company name once you have developed a logo, had stationery and marketing material printed and registered domain names and social handles is far more trouble than it's worth, so it pays to get it right from the start. If you are in the throes of setting up a business and not quite sure where to start in deciding on a name, the following tips may be useful.
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Things to Consider When Introducing Bring Your Own Device Working
Added: 10 March 2015
Bring your own device (BYOD) working has become very popular, and for good reason. With employees able to work wherever they wish, whenever they wish, it boosts goodwill, enhances productivity and helps businesses gain the edge over competitors. However, there are data protection and security considerations you need to make as an employer if you are promoting BYOD working.
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Taking Care of Mental Health in the Workplace
Added: 2 March 2015
Mental health in the workplace is becoming a much talked-about subject. The promotion of mental well-being is very important if you want to see your employees enjoying the best possible physical health, and if you'd like to ensure maximum productivity.
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Pension Auto Enrolment and the Micro Business
Added: 20 February 2015
If you are a company that operates a PAYE scheme you will by now probably have received your 12-month 'notice' letter from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) confirming your staging date and providing key information and advice on preparing to enrol your staff. But do the rules actually apply to your business, and if not, what should you be doing about it? Not ignoring it, that's for sure ...
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Home Business Owners Must Check Their Insurance
Added: 12 February 2015
If you are one of the UK's fast growing number of home business owners, and share the view of 145,000 others who mistakenly believe that their home contents insurance will cover their business, it's time for a wake-up call.
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Preparing for the Unexpected with a Disaster Recovery Plan
Added: 4 February 2015
Whatever size business you run, wherever you run it from, it is imperative you have a Disaster Recovery Plan. 'Disasters' don't just mean catastrophes like floods or fires. Anything that can bring business to a halt can be classed as a disaster.
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Why You Need to Keep a Check on Your Energy Contracts
Added: 28 January 2015
If you have been fortunate enough to negotiate favourable rates for your electricity and gas supplies then you should pat yourself on the back. But don't sit back and relax for too long, because you absolutely must keep an eye on the end-dates for your contracts. And if you are moving premises and think your special rates are going to relocate with you, think again.
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Get Ready for Significant Changes to Business Insurance with the Insurance Bill
Added: 20 January 2015
Back in July 2014 the Law Commission, a public advisory body sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, put a report forward to Government. It consisted of a set of recommendations for reforms to non-consumer insurance in the UK. It also included a draft bill called the Insurance Bill. This Bill is set to have a significant - and beneficial - effect on the way commercial insurance is sold in the UK.
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Get Ready for the New Shared Parental Leave and Pay Rules
Added: 12 January 2015
As an employer you will of course be well aware of the new shared parental leave and pay rules introduced in respect of children due on or after 5 April 2015. With the notice period being a minimum of eight weeks, requests are likely to start coming in this month. You will therefore need to put a process in place without delay to deal with such requests from expectant employees with babies due on or after 5 April.
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New Ideas to Combat the Late Payment Problem
Many small businesses are still having difficulties caused by late payments for goods and services supplied to other organisations. If this is a problem for you, you may, like many other small business owners, be reluctant to charge the interest and compensation that is legally allowable by the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. This is understandable because you need to maintain relationships and get more business.
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How to Make the Most of your Working Time
How do you organise your working day? Do you make a list of things to do and religiously follow it? Or do you find that most activities roll onto the list for the next day? Here are some of the worst time wasters that you should be looking to avoid.
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The Pros and Cons of Bitcoin
Throughout the recent recession, entrepreneurs have been constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency, cut costs and ensure their businesses survived. Although we are told that the economy is recovering, this is not the time to relax efforts in this respect. One of the innovative ways that some owners of businesses operating beyond their own localities is to use Bitcoin as an option for payments and receipts. For most people, though, Bitcoin and how it works is still something of a mystery.
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Small Businesses and Real Time Information
Have you got your head around Real Time Information (RTI) yet? Many small businesses are saying that they were not able to ready themselves for the deadline for this new tax regime.
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Be Prepared for the New Waste Management Laws
An amendment to the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011, based on the EU Waste Framework Directive, means that you will be legally obliged to separate recyclable materials from your landfill waste from January 2015. This is so that the waste collection services can collect it separately. Fines for non-compliance can be unlimited. Are you prepared?
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New Rules on Consumer Data Imminent
The changes to data protection laws are expected to be ratified by the Council of the European Union by the end of 2014. The new rules will mean big changes for businesses that collect consumer data. They are designed to protect individuals from aggressive marketing techniques and give them more control over where and what information about them is held.
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The Role of Local Enterprise Partnerships
How much help do you get from your Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)? Are you confident that you can get the advice and the services you need from it? Do you and other small businesses in your area have a voice in local business strategy of your LEP?
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Choosing Safer Business Risks
If you want to grow and develop your business, you must inevitably take some risks. All the great entrepreneurs will tell you that they have taken major risks throughout their careers, but they have survived mostly by being canny and calculating about which risks to take. So how can you avoid being foolhardy and only proceed along the paths that are the safest? What will make it easier to calculate the risks and choose the ones most likely to be worthwhile?
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Business Growth Beyond our Shores
Recent research carried out by The Small Business Research Centre and Barclays Business indicates that small businesses that export are growing faster than those who simply serve the UK markets. Their report follows a survey of 1000 owner managers across the UK, plus detailed qualitative analysis by the academics.
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Local Authorities and Small Businesses
The Centre for Entrepreneurs, and the Spend Network, have been analysing the breakdown of spending for the 158 local authorities across the country. Their survey covered over 44 million transactions between April 2011 and March 2014. It found that, at a time when central government claims to be trying to do more business with small firms, most local authorities don't seem to be following that trend.
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Minimum Wage Rise October 2014
If you have employees, you need to be aware that the next increase in the minimum wage comes into force on October 1st. You are advised to get your bookkeepers to check the payroll and ensure that all your employee records are up to date, especially those for young people whose rates could have changed on their birthdays. Rules for what can be excluded when calculating the minimum wage can be complicated and many employers have fallen foul of the regulations because they were not known or understood.
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Starting the Working Day in Bed
Freelancers who work from home have long luxuriated in the fact that they can start work when they want, and can stay in their dressing gowns while getting on with the job and even while talking to clients on the phone. Video calls may have put paid to the latter, but by making good use of new technology, they don't even have to get out of bed before checking their emails, posting social media updates, performing research, working on drafts of proposals and reports and so on.
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If You are too Busy for a Holiday Take the Work with you!
It's always hard for an entrepreneur to decide to take time off, and many small business owners forgo holidays altogether. That, however, is decidedly not good for you and not really good for the business either. When you don't take breaks, you get tired and stale, and that affects your performance. Your business can no longer benefit from your vision and verve.
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More Help for Small Firms Seeking Funds
Although we are supposedly well into economic recovery, small businesses are still finding it hard to access the revenue they need to develop. Sometimes they need funds just to get them over a slump and survive, and this seems to be even more difficult. There are many new options from which investment can be sourced and Business Secretary Vince Cable recently said, "small businesses often give up if they are turned down for finance by their bank.'
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Managing Without Borrowing
Can you run a successful business without borrowing? Some do, and if the circumstances are right, with some good cash flow management, you could too. The circumstances will be right when the business income is reasonably predictable; you are not planning excessively expensive changes; you have ample stocks; and you have the staff you need and the cash to pay them. These are aspects that can also be managed, but you need to take them into account when considering the cash flow situation.
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Could Cloud Computing Benefit your Business?
If you are already a fan of cloud computing, you'll know all about the benefits for businesses that have embraced it. Many business owners though are still cautious about using it because of the problems that have been associated with it in the past, and because of some of the cyber-crime stories that are still around.
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Can you Cope with a Rise in Interest Rates?

Next year, the Bank of England is expected to begin to lift the base rate of interest from its all-time low of 0.5%. It's going to have quite an impact on the finances of the nation. While savers will welcome it, borrowers will be hit with a rise in repayments. Businesses will mostly sit in the latter camp.
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