Monday, 6 October 2014

For small businesses Christmas isn't coming yet

As the weather turns cold and every place that sells food begs you to come in and book for Christmas, small businesses must keep on striving for old and new customers to make sure that Christmas won't be cancelled!

We've lurched from hot dry summer to cold wet autumn in the space of a few days (at least, we have in good old Surrey), but we cannot yet turn our thoughts to the festive season.

There may only be 79 shopping days until Christmas (which equals the actual number of days until Christmas in modern times!), but more importantly there are 57-and-a-half working days until Christmas!

So, TV adverts, pubs, restaurants, garden centres, shopping centres and shops - give it a rest. Start your campaign for Christmas on 1 December and respect the rest of us. Do you think people don't realise Christmas will be on 25 December this year? Let them plan for it without being bombarded.

Not all businesses have their peak season in the weeks leading up to Christmas. For many of us it's a period of working hard to seal deals and grafting to earn a crust.

Being told it's Christmas in October is tedious.

Friday, 7 March 2014

If only work would arrive on a regular, even-spaced basis!

One of the frustrating things about working for yourself - and in most instances being the only employee - is that there are not more of you!

In the past couple of weeks, things have suddenly got really busy, and I could have done with three or even for of me at times.

No complaints about being busy - that's what we strive for - and at the moment there is no realistic chance of employing someone else on a permanent basis.

It's such a pity that work doesn't come in on a regular, even-spaced basis. But nothing was ever that simple.

So - very sadly - some work has been turned away, and the rest I will just have to squeeze in.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Businesses suffer in the floods

Business is not much of a game when you have to deal with emergencies like this year's floods are causing.

Thankfully, I have not had to deal with anything to do with the floods but obviously many businesses will be affected. Currently, therefore, they are no doubt having to deal with flooding and its effects rather than with their real business that actually earns them some money.

So it's a double-whammy of reduced income and increased expenditure to deal with the floods.

On the BBC, David Woodcock, in Berkshire, texted:"I run an office in Theale right by the canal. We got a knock on the door from a local police officer at 15:00 yesterday saying they were evacuating the business park as rapidly rising flood waters may mean we would be stranded overnight. I thought this was excellent work from the local authorities. With around 400 people working on the business park this was a great call. Not great for business but our company are lucky as we are all able to work from home but others aren't as fortunate."

A reaction that most would describe as "typically British", I think.

I hope his business, and all others survive this ordeal - and , of course, all the people concerned too.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Make PHP conference more affordable

I'm quite interested in this PHP UK conference 2014 at The Brewery in London in February.

But it would cost me £377 to attend. I can't afford that.

I'm not quite sure, therefore, what audience they will attract.

I'm an independent PHP programmer for my own company. PHP is a free internet programming resource, and that is why many website programmers use it. Therefore, £377 to attend a PHP conference seems a bit much.

I wish them luck (it's the ninth so they must be doing all right), but I won't be there.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

As a programmer, understand your data

I started computer programming many years ago, and have used among others, Algol, Cobol, Basic, machine language (more than one type), and more recently, PHP for website programming.

Logic counts in programming, of course, and syntax is crucial, but I think understanding your data is the most important thing.

If you understand how your data looks, then (as long as you're a competent programmer) you can probably program almost anything. If you have the good fortune to be able to define your own data then you can make life easier for yourself. The relational database that goes with PHP is MySQL and I have found it as flexible as I need for programming in PHP.

The fact that PHP and MySQL are both open source and therefore free is a great boost for website programmers like myself.

Of course, I still find challenges (after 30+ years) in programming and I still find it rewarding to get successful results from my programming efforts.

Long may that continue.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Be community spirited - fix your PHP bugs

I was browsing "PHP news" on Google and came across this blog - Dragon Be's PHP blog - which exhorted its readers to do something for the community: "update documentation, fix bugs on your favourite project or attend a PHP user group or conference."

Not the usual sort of thing you might be asked to do for the community (I can't see this being on the list of community service projects), but for the PHP community it is a fair request.

Most of the websites I write and maintain are now written in PHP, making the websites dynamic and in most cases giving the website client the opportunity to make their own updates to the website as and when required.

But I will make it an objective in 2014 to update documentation and fix bugs. I also have a project of my own running on my own laptop (a sports simulation which may lead to others...), but it has its own bugs. I know my way around them, but I need to make it bug-free to make it marketable. A 2014 challenge.

As for attending a PHP user group or conference - that's a good idea. Let's Google that...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Unemployment rate down to 7.4%

UK unemployment has fallen to 7.4%, its lowest level since 2009, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. This figure is for the period August to October, and is down from 7.6% for the three months to September.

The drop represents a reduction of 99,000 for the number of people out of work, now down to 2.39 million.

Esther McVey, the Employment minister, said: “When people said unemployment would rise; when they said there would a double dip economy, that did not happen. The reverse has happened.”

The Bank of England (BoE) has said that it will not consider raising interest rates until unemployment is down to 7%.  The base rate is at 0.5% - its record low – where it has been since March 2009. However, BoE governor Mark Carney has said that an unemployment rate of 7% or lower would not automatically mean an interest rate increase.

ONS figures show that the number of people aged 16 and over in work is 30.09 million, a quarter of million higher than the period May to July.

A drop in the unemployment rate and a rise in the number of people employed is good news. Let’s hope those trends carry on into 2014.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Disruptions hinder learning in our classrooms, says Ofsted

Ofsted has said that minor disruptions and inattentive pupils have been tolerated for too long in schools in England and are hindering progress and learning.

Given that England has been slipping down the international rankings of literacy and numeracy, it seems good to me that someone has come and acknowledged that there’s a problem.

Yet teaching unions did not seem to agree with the views of Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw. Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “Its combative words do more harm than good.”

Sir Michael said there was “a culture of casual acceptance of low-level disruption and poor attitudes to learning.” He said that kind of culture was “a million miles away” from the cultures seen in successful Asian countries.

He said: “We're also seeing unlucky children with the same sort of background, who are born in the wrong area, live in the wrong place, go to the wrong sort of school where there's poor leadership, with head teachers and teachers with low expectations of what they can achieve.”

Dr Bousted said: “The lessons from this country and from abroad are clear - treating teachers with professional respect and fostering a climate for school-led collaboration is what helps children learn.
"Ofsted, however, is severely inconsistent in the quality of its inspections, which leaves it undermined and seriously out of touch.” Her own combative words.

It seems to me that:
  • Something is wrong.
  • That something needs to be identified.
  • Actions need to be put in place to correct that something.
  • All parties involved should agree those actions and work together to make things better.

Can't we at least agree to work together to make things better?

Friday, 6 December 2013

We keep on working through economic shifts

Political tub-thumpers will argue about George Osborne's Autumn Statement for a few days.

The Right will tell us how the cuts have worked and we've all made sacrifices together for the greater good as the economy improves.

The Left will tell us that any improvements are based on flimsy house price rises, an unpredicted rise in customer spending, that we're all worse off, and the recovery is slower than Osborne predicted.

All good stuff, and the politicos will enjoy the distractions from buying Christmas presents.

For most of us, though, the bottom line is that times are still tough and we're working as hard as we can to pull through this. We understand that the country's finances have been in a bad state since 2008. We hear that the Eurozone is suffering too, and about the rise of China's economy compared with that of the US. We hear that the UK's economy is improving, that energy prices are for ever on the rise. We're grateful that petrol prices have been stable for a couple of months.

For those of us who run our own small business, we look for smarter ways to work as technology moves on apace (one example this week: car tax discs will be scrapped), and we look for better ways to advertise our services among the tangle of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogs, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest - where will it end?). We also try and predict what will shape our business and the work we do in years to come. And we work as hard as we can.

Predicting the way the economy will turn is beyond us (and them!).

We'll continue to work through it.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Sticking mud will mean many businesses will steer clear of RBS

The old saying "mud sticks" will almost certainly prove pertinent for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Earlier this week a report from a government adviser said the bank had taken advantage of struggling businesses, seizing their assets at cheap prices.

RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton made a clumsy effort to defend his bank, saying: "We will almost certainly have been too heavy with some customers from time to time. And we will almost certainly have been too lax with customers from time to time, given that we have dealt with many, many thousands of businesses in distress in recent years.

"I am certain that we will have got it wrong in both directions because there are so many people that we have had to deal with in deep distress."

The Tomlinson Report said that when a business was put into the RBS's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) lending division, it generated revenue for the bank by fees, increased profit margins and, perhaps most significantly, the purchase of assets as knock-down prices by their property division.

It all smells a bit unsavoury.

Investigations continue, but mud sticks. Many businesses will stay away from the RBS now.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

If it sells none at all, tell the BBC!

The BBC has published an article on its website on 20 November 2013 headed “ ‘Dullest’calendar – of telephone boxes of Wales – fails to sell”.

The article tells us how the calendar has struggled to sell a single copy, even being branded by its publisher Kevin Beresford as “naff, nerdy and boring”!

He was hoping to build on his success of 2012: Roundabouts of Great Britain, which was a surprising success.

This could turn out to be an amazing example of “no publicity is bad publicity” as sales will probably soar into their tens in the coming days, out of curiosity.

If it was Mr Beresford who contacted the BBC about his nil-sales calendar, then I commend him for bringing it to the BBC’s – now the nation’s – attention.

An example of marketing for us all.

On the other hand, it still might not sell any copies!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

HostPapa here we come

I have used a couple of hosting companies for some years for my business and my clients, but one of my clients has had problems with email so wanted to change hosting company.

I wanted to use someone new, but who to use?

I did a Google search for "best hosting companies uk" and the first (it was a paid ad) result was here:

So I've decided to bite the bullet and go for new hosting with HostPapa.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, 8 November 2013

S&P downgrades France's credit rating

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has downgraded France’s credit rating from AA+ to AA, putting on the same level as Belgium and two places above Italy.

This is a blow to President Fran├žois Hollande who has already had some of the lowest poll ratings in recent French history.

The country has relied on tax rises to reduce its annual budget deficit, but this effort, together with some reforms of business subsidies, bureaucracy and labour restrictions has not worked.

S&P said: “We believe the French government’s reforms to taxation, as well as to products, services and labour markets, will not substantially raise France’s medium-term growth prospects. Furthermore, we believe lower economic growth is constraining the government's ability to consolidate public finances.”

The government in Paris was not happy and said S&P had ignored the long-term effects of many of its initiatives, especially pensions and benefits reforms.

Finance minister Pierre Moscovici said: “They are underestimating France's ability to reform, to pull itself up. During the last 18 months the government has implemented major reforms aimed at improving the French economic situation, restoring its public finances and its competitiveness.”

Hollande has given in to protests against some business taxes, but in spite of the threat of a footballers' strike, has stood firm on a 75% rate on earnings over €1m. Clubs say this threatens "the death of French football".

French workers pay the highest aggregate tax rate in the EU.

Those who would have us pay more tax in the UK, be warned.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

UK growth is looking good

So the UK economy is recovering nicely.

Its growth is one of the highest in the Western world.

Business confidence is at its highest for ten years according to a survey by the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

This is excellent news for the country and, of course, for the Government and Chancellor George Osborne. However, the latter might come under pressure to share some of this recovery wealth with taxpayers, many of whom will not recognise this apparent good news story.

The third quarter showed growth at 0.8% in the UK, and Christmas spending, good demand in construction, and increasing business investment could produce a fourth quarter figure of 1.3%. Time will tell.

In the meantime, heads down, let's keep the growth going.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

PM: consultation to get SMEs paid on time

I see that Prime Minister David Cameron has made an announcement about a consultation looking at trying to get small businesses paid on time.


This follows research by YouGov that showed that 85% of small businesses had been paid late at least once in the last two years.

Indeed, apparently, small and medium size businesses (SMEs) are owed £30.2bn according to figures from BACS.

Mr Cameron said: “I am clear that more needs to be done. It's not right that suppliers are not getting paid on time for the work they do and the services they provide and I know that late payment can have devastating effects on our small and medium-sized businesses.”

Apparently a Prompt Payment Code came into practice in December 2008 which was supposed to help small suppliers get payment on time.

Well, it’s the first I’ve heard of it. And I can tell you – it didn’t work.

There is also an EU directive that says business-to-business payments should be made within 60 days (30 days too long in my opinion), but this is flaunted by many.

In my experience it is the bigger companies that are the worst. Small businesses and individuals pay quickly – often within a day or two – but larger firms hold out for as long as they can – and longer.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, welcomed the consultation. "Being paid late or given extended terms can severely hamper many small firms. They simply don't have the same cash-flow buffer as large businesses," he added.

Friday, 25 October 2013

SMEs account for nearly half of all UK business turnover

Office figures from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills reveal that Small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) employ 14.4 million in the UK.

There are 4.9 million businesses in the private sector, almost all of which are SMEs which have a combined turnover of £1.6 trillion of a total for all UK businesses of £3.3 trillion.

Businesses employing fewer than 250 people make up 99% of private sector businesses. Indeed, businesses with fewer than 50 employees account for almost half of all businesses and a third in the private sector.

Well, all power to them (us!).

I think this demonstrates the courage of people to get into business themselves and not simply to rely on others to give them a job.

I see that there is a new £2,000 employment allowance coming in next April that will cut tax on jobs in every company. Businesses will get a discount from their national insurance payments.

Anything that helps small businesses is always welcome.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

What can small businesses learn from Angela Ahrendts?

Angela Ahrendts has been credited with pulling Burberry up to great success as chief executive. Now she is moving on to Apple, the US technology giant apparently in need of similar medicine.

Ms Ahrendts oversaw the re-statement on Burberry’s image. Prior to her arrival the company had watched as its image slip from top-of-the-range to low-brow fans. Ms Ahrendts steered the company away from that image crisis, in partnership with chief creative officer Christopher Bailey who now takes over as CEO.

Burberry focused on a growing demand for luxury goods in Asia under Ms Ahrendts – a key part of the strategy. The traditional check design has not been lost, but is seen less now on Burberry designs.

While the share price fell on her departure, Burberry reported a 17% rise in revenue to the end of September.

Apple are obviously hoping that Ms Ahrendts will have the same effect on them. Apple's chief executive Tim Cook said: "She shares our values and our focus on innovation, and she places the same strong emphasis as we do on the customer experience."

We certainly could not afford Ms Ahrendts, but what can we small business owners learn from this, if anything?

Maybe we could look at:
·         Our own company’s image – is it in the right place? Does it fit with what we want to achieve?
·         Our markets – could we spy a ‘demand for luxury goods in Asia’ type of market in the same way as Ms Ahrendts?
·         Do we value our ‘check’ too much? Have we got something in our image that we like, but actually isn’t doing us any good?

It’s certainly worth checking.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Valve's amazing company structural model

I read in amazement about the games-maker Valve. It is a company without management, where employees work on what they want, sit where they want and decide each other's pay.

"We're a flat organisation, so I don't report to anybody and people don't report to me," employee DJ Powers told the BBC. "We're free to choose to work on whatever we think is interesting. "People ask you questions about what you are working on. And the response is not to get defensive but to have that conversation and make sure that we're all invested in each other."

Valve's games include the Half-Life, Portal, Dota and Left 4 Dead series. They are well-known for their quality and their high sales.

Its (lack of) structure might lead to individuals simply working on pet projects with no team-working at all. This could not lead to the games it produces, so how do its quality products some to fruition?

"One of the ways that things get done at Valve is that a critical mass does form," explained Mr Powers.

"There are lots of ideas about what is cool to work on. But unless you can find like-minded people to work with, you will struggle to get enough resources you need to get it done."

Powers rejects the theory that there's an elite of people working at Valve. He said: "It works because it was the original philosophy. Gabe [Newell] and the crew that started Valve hired people with this in mind. That's how we got to a company working effectively for a long period of time under this structure - because it was designed from the beginning."

The firm also has a ranking system in which staff working on the same project assess each others' technical skills, productivity, team-working skills and other abilities. This helps to form a ladder which determines who will get paid most. 

Yet in the land of equal, someone has to have the ultimate say.

As Valve's handbook says: "Of all the people at this company who aren't your boss, Gabe [Newell] is the MOST not your boss, if you get what we're saying."

See original BBC article here:

Monday, 11 February 2013

Business confidence at 21-year low

Business confidence has hit a new low, according to a report on the BBC ( based on a survey by accountancy firm BDO. Confidence was at its lowest for 21 years, the survey said, based as it is on optimism in business performance and the economy over the next six months.

This is in spite of improving labour market figures and a stock market that peaked recently at well over 6,300.

It seems that the survey's responses reflect the continuing lack of growth in the UK economy and any signs that it has turned the corner.

While a triple-dip recession remains a possibility, the survey's employment index was up in January, as was optimism within the manufacturing sector.

As a business owner, I have seen a fall in enquiries as a reluctance to spend money persists. With that trend, the spiral is downward until people and businesses decide to spend again. It appears that upward turn is still some way off.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Selfish business owners reap the wrong rewards

There is nothing quite so irritating in running your own business as non- or late payers.

Just before Christmas I was asked to do a small piece of work by a company in Wales. It was urgent, the boss said, so I did it in good faith, and sent it back to him in a timely fashion.

The charge would only be around £15, but since sending it off to him, I have heard nothing: no acknowledgement, no responses. I have tried to ring, and once got through to a woman who said she'd get him to ring back, but he never did. I have emailed him, I have sent him the invoice.


I will keep trying, but nothing so far.

OK, it may only cost me £15, plus the time taken for the work (not long) and the time taken chasing up (probably longer), but the actions of this selfish business manager will mean that I will have to be tougher in future.

I'll have to ask for a deposit, for example, for pieces of work - however small - causing inconvenience to everyone involved.

Is he really delighted to have saved just fifteen pounds? It's quite pathetic really. If he doesn't pay the invoice or respond to further communication in the next month, I'll name and shame him and his company on this blog.

Selfish non-action has wide consequences.

Friday, 4 January 2013

2013 will present challenges

It's been nearly three months since I posted on here.

I'd like to say that I've been busy, and I have. And no complaints about that, for sure.

However, 2013 has not opened quite as optimistically as 2012 drew to a close. One regular two-month contract in early year had fallen victim to internal cuts and I am a victim of that.

Such is economic life, as it has been for a few years. Nothing can be taken for granted.

So it is now time to renew efforts to bring in new work, to search for new opportunities and look for new ways of working.

If it was easy, it would be boring.
If nothing changed, we'd stagnate.

I welcome the challenge and intend to make 2013 even more successful than 2012 was.

Happy New Year!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Unsecured business funding

Unsecured business funding can be useful for businesses which either don’t want or don’t qualify for unsecured lines of credit.

Hawkeye can help your business obtain the loan it needs, and gives you guidance on whether a loan or a line of credit may suit your business best.

Hawkeye Management provides solutions to help your business get the funding it needs. Obtaining a loan is a process and Hawkeye will help you through the process to ensure that you are best positioned to get a loan from the bank.

Avoid being turned down for a loan. Turn to Hawkeye for the loan solution you need for your start-up company, or to build or grow your business.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Dental practice for sale

Occasionally dental practices come up for sale. Are you a dentist looking to buy a practice, or looking to sell one?

If you are then you’ll be looking for an experienced practice broker or consultant to help you with the process. In the United States the National Association of Practice Brokers (NAPB) is the organisation that can best help you find the solution customised for you.

A dental practice for sale may be for any number of reasons, such as retirement, lifestyle change or a plan for an exit strategy. Whatever the reason NAPB member brokers have the experience to help you, giving you assistance with partnership agreements, relocations, tax arrangements, contracts and financial packages.

If you have a dental practice for sale, look no further than NAPB.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

Anger at the banks

It's hard not to be irritated by banks these days.

It's hard not to feel outright anger.

Fixing interest rates, mis-selling products ... on top of the crisis they caused by the way they acted before the credit crunch and recession.

And they still merrily charge individuals and business owners punitive amounts when they go ever-so slightly overdrawn. Yes, it did happen to my business recently. Overdrawn for less than a day: charge of £30.

How is this justifiable?
How does this help?

If my business was really short of cash (it's not - it was just in a different account), how would charging the business help that cash shortage?

And yet banks are supposed to helping businesses.

The only business they're helping is their own. Helping themsleves to our money.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Manitoba carpenters

Carpenters are at the heart of most construction work. Wood is fundamental to the construction of houses and most buildings, as well as the cabinets, doors and other furniture inside.

There are basically two fundamental types of carpentry work: rough carpentry and finish carpentry. The former is for outdoor work with projects using unfinished wood, such as house frames, scaffolding and other forms. The latter is for doors, windows, interior moulding, cabinets, floors and the like.

Manitoba carpenters provide all this kind of work, and they also provide carpentry in the film and theatre industry, as well as the less obvious area of wharves and docks.

While many pieces are built at base and shipped to the construction site, other work has to be carried out onsite.

Cabinetmakers work on custom designed cabinets, shelves, counters and other fittings for stores, restaurants and the home.

From small workshops to large construction sites, the influence of carpenters is everywhere.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Embrace the Optimism

I am back working at home after a stint on a client site for the past couple of months.

I may be wrong and, of course, the sample set is very small, but it seems to me that there's a very slight increase in business optimism.

I have had more enquiries and pay rates for work seem to be slightly higher. It may be an illusion; I've not analysed it, it's based on a general feel.

And what happens when you're more optimistic about business? Things seem brighter, better, more sustainable, and you're keener to get on with things.

How about we stop all the doom and gloom, threat of strikes, moans about the Olympics and...

Embrace the Optimism

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The European Trade Register Scam

I am little embarrassed to admit that I fell foul of an invitation from European Trade Register to ‘update your details for free’ recently. I filled in the form and sent it off believing that a free update to my details in a directory would be a good thing.

I was shocked, therefore, a couple of weeks later, to receive an invoice for €990 for my "insertion" into the directory. Sure enough, on reading the tiny print on the original form I could see that there was a charge of €990 per year for three years and then following on year after year. There was no "right to change your mind" or "cooling off period".

I didn't pay. I couldn't afford to pay. I immediately emailed them and wrote to them by post to tell to take me out of the directory as I would not be paying. No response.

There followed further demands to pay by email and by post and a threat of a late payment charge and an admin fee which took the total to €1124.

Sharing this news with a colleague, she pointed me to this site:

Well, good for SAM DEEKS, and other websites of a similar topic.

Thus, I realise this is not a new thing and it is a scam, in that it comes from an unsolicited, mis-leading email and offers virtually nothing for a huge amount of money, using fear to frighten people into paying. In addition, they never respond to any attempts to contact them. But they do note them and feed on that to continue to try and frighten people into paying.

In the end, after reading many comments from people who had fallen foul of this scam like me, I was actually amused at the sheer effrontery of these people and their shameless attempts to frighten people into paying. 

After sending threatening emails, they then use an apparent global debt collection company, Waldberg & Hirsch, to chase up the debt. It's the same people.

If you're in the same boat and have either received apparently good "offers" from any so-called business directory (particularly if it has a 3 part name in the following format:
[Europe / European / World / Global] [Company / Trade / Business] [Directory / Register]
then just bin it.

And, if you receive emails, faxes, letters, phone calls from these people demanding money, just IGNORE THEM. They won't sue you, because they wouldn't win (because it's an illegal scam) and it would expose them. Read Sam Deeks's blogs, join in the fun, sit back and relax... 

On reflection, of course, it was foolish to respond to unsolicited mail and believe in something that appeared to be free. I will not make the same mistake again.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Be wary of moaning about work on your social media

I find it interesting the number of people who moan about their place of work on social media such as Facebook.

Let's face it, Facebook and Twitter are great places to get things off your chest, and moans about work are something many of us have often wanted to get off our chests. With so many like-minded friends, family and followers linked to our Facebook and Twitter accounts, we're bound to get a sympathetic hearing.

But do we remember all those people we friended on Facebook? Your colleagues, your staff ... your boss?

You might not get such a sympathetic view from them.

And even if you're not connected to colleagues from your current place of work, one day you might need to use your connections on Facebook and Twitter to get yourself a new job. But, browisng through your historical comments, they might not take too kindly to someone who's often moaned about their place of work.

Is there anywhere you can really let off steam? The pub? Even walls have ears.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Non-communicative businesses look like scams

It is frustrating that we all get junk mail and spam email, and it shows no sign of decreasing.

Equally frustrating, I find, are businesses who cannot communicate. These are businesses who may write to you (by post) or email you, but when you reply to them, there is no acknowledgement of your communication at all.

This is happening to me at the moment with one organisation, so much so that I am beginning to believe that it is actually a scam operation, despite its headed note paper etc.

Until they reply to my communications I cannot believe that they are a true operation and if they are, what does it say about them when they can't even reply to my emails?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Can you suggest more back-office systems?

As a small business owners, we sometimes neglect those small, yet significant, tasks that bigger companies have whole departments for.

I'm thinking of back-office systems.

I'm sure we've all got things like our accounts under control, including our invoices and our purchase orders, but what about the other back-office systems?

Things like:
  • Work enquiries
  • A list of clients
  • A list of suppliers
  • Staff holiday management
  • Work applications (e.g. speculative CVs sent through to you)
  • Staff sickness management
There must be loads of others; things that I haven't thought of because my business is too small.

Can you suggest some other back-office systems for me?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Use the excitement of 2012, not the gloom

The Prime Minister gave a "downbeat" message yesterday about the business and economic prospects for 2012. There is little doubt that it will be a hard year, especially for those with low incomes.

For small business owners, the year will also likely prove to be a tough one.

However, for small business owners, there is little choice but to plough on and make the best of it. We cannot go on strike; we cannot moan about "fat cats" somewhere higher up the company ladder. In many cases of single-person businesses, the owner is the potentially striking "worker" AND the would-be "fat cat"!

At least there's a reduction in fussing and fighting, my friend.

Small business owners will probably be using much of January to plan how they will improve their business prospects for the year. 2012 promises to be an exciting and complicated year and business owners should try and tap into such events as Euro 2012, the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics. How could you use those to your advantage?

The smart ones will work out how, make the best of it and come out the other end of the year saying what a great year it was.