Thursday, 30 December 2010

Gold exploration mining company

Gold is still the most romantic of precious metals and Edgewater Exploration Ltd is a gold exploration mining company, building a portfolio of gold mining assets around the world.

Edgewater has, with FeatherStone Capital Advisors, secured two gold projects in their mid stages from Red Back Mining and Lundin Mining, and continues to look for undervalued goldmines at the development stage.

Mining projects in Ghana – the second largest gold producer in Africa – and Spain are generating excitement within Edgewater, the gold exploration mining company based in Canada.

These assets will be advanced as Edgewater continues to acquire undervalued non-core and mid-tier gold mining assets and companies which will increase shareholder value in the company.

Las Vegas moving companies

Among Las Vegas moving companies one name stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that’s Capitol North American. It’s the top moving company in the city and Southern Nevada, and has been a Better Business Bureau A+ Accredited Business for 45 years, having started business in 1962.

It’s the top corporation relocation provider, the number one trade show display service provider in Nevada, and has received Quality Service awards for 45 consecutive years.

Capitol North American has a reputation above all other Las Vegas moving companies for moving and storage, with vast experience and knowledge in the field, and has warehousing, logistics and distribution services too. It has been an A+ rated BBB Accredited Business for 12 years.

Taking the stress out of moving, your moving experience will be smooth, well organised and efficient when you move with Capitol North American.

The best for riverside apartments, Austin, Texas

When you’re looking to buy property it is best to talk to people who are experts in the local area. So if you’re looking for riverside apartments in Austin, experts on the subject of condos, houses, duplexes and apartments in Austin, Texas are the people you should talk to.

The owner is a graduate of the University of Texas with personal experience of the university campus and central area – an area rich in investor-owned and absentee owner rental properties.

This firm makes it its business to follow the Austin and University of Texas rental markets every day, so it can pass on first class information to clients, whether they are buying or selling property, including riverside apartments in Austin.

With an independent sales department to help clients, the firm focuses on property management and has a high success rate for occupancy.

For your property needs in Austin, use the experts.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

And so Christmas is upon us, and small businesses have little choice but to virtually close down for a week or so.

While Retail has its day, we'll have a sup or two and look forward to a busy and prosperous 2011.

Happy Christmas to anyone that reads this!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The best in furniture retail software

For the best in furniture retail software, look no further than Myriad Software’s product, Eclicktic™.

Designed with mid-sized home furnishing retailers in mind, Eclicktic gives you a complete business management product, which includes warehousing, inventory, purchasing, service orders and all the other modules you need for the complete furniture retailing product.

Targeting furniture retailers with turnover of $1m to $60m, Eclicktic was developed to make them more streamlined and more profitable, and you can trust software from Myriad Software, because they have been designing in furniture retail for over 20 years.

The software can run in a CLOUD environment or on a local server and support comes in the form of training, online and in an Implementation Guide.

Two or three updates a year to the furniture retail software mean that the Eclicktic product is always up to date and ready to make your business more profitable.

Dell 5110cn

If you’re looking to buy a Dell 5110cn color laser printer, then you’ll be looking for the best deal you can get – and you can make big savings by shopping on the internet.

On this website you can save money on top brand inkjet cartridges, refill kits and toner cartridges as well as compatible cartridges guaranteed to give you 100% satisfaction with a one-year warranty.

As well as buying via the website, you can get customer support on 1-888-400-7972 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm Pacific Standard Time.

While the Dell 5110cn is a leading laser printer, there are products available from Canon, Epson, Lexmark, Pitney Bowes, Xerox, Brother, Dell, HP, Kodak and Samsung, among others.

See the website for over 2000 products, and also check out the blog, facebook and twitter accounts.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

UK needs a dose of optimism

A new global poll has indicated that emerging nations are more optimistic about business prospects in 2011 than businesses in the old "G7".

Countries like Brazil, India and China show up brightly in the poll by Gallup International, but of the 53 countries polled the most pessimistic for the year is the UK.

We do like to be gloomy, don't we? The poll was probably taken during the snowy period, which would add to our miserable mood.

Only 8% of UK interviewees think 2011 will be a year of prosperity, compared with 30% over the world. In the UK 37% believe unemployment will rise compared with a world average of 17%. And so it goes on.

Far too easily a gloomy prediction can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It's time for a dose of optimism to go with your mulled wine and mince pies. Cheer up and get to it!

Monday, 20 December 2010

CBI downgrades recovery forecast

The CBI has reduced its forecast for economic growth for the first quarter of 2011. The previous forecast was 0.3%, but this has been downgraded to 0.2%, with inflation and public sector job cuts impacting the recovery.

However, the CBI did stress that it did not expect the economy to lurch back into recession, and its forecast for the second quarter is a growth of 0.4%.

Consumer spending is likely to be hit by higher energy bills and the increase in VAT to 20%.

Chief economic adviser at the CBI, Ian McCafferty, said: “Quarterly growth at the start of 2011 is likely to be very sluggish, although we do expect the recovery itself to stay on track.

"What is striking is how little we see growth accelerating in 2012. Typically, by the third year of a recovery, growth would be more robust than we expect for either 2011 or 2012."

I can’t see that it’s surprising myself. The recession was pretty bad, but it has long gone – yet, people still refer to us being in a recession. The mood is still bleak and angry, and I can easily see that this will keep economic growth sluggish.

All this is in spite of economic growth of 0.8% between July and September. It was good news, but did little to lighten the mood. It’s going to be a long, hard climb. I would have thought anyone could see that.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Lord Sugar admits mistake in falling for Baggs blag

We're down to the last two after the brutal "interview programme" on last night's show. It was certainly the right two who reached the final - Stella and Chris - from the final five.

But - and Lord Sugar admitted this last night - he may have missed a trick by eliminating Liz last week. In fact Sugar voiced his anger towards Stuart Baggs, the candidate who had blagged his way through last week's show at Liz's expense, only for Lord S to realise his mistake following the interviews and subsequent boardroom discussion.

I can't recall Lord S being so angry at - or admitting - his own mistake. I think he's right to be cross.

Baggs was "full of shit", said Lord S - and never could so many of the watching TV audience have chuckled in knowing agreement at this assessment.

The victim was Liz Locke, who seemed to be an excellent candidate until last week's Baggs blag saw her off.

So, on to the final: Stella v Chris. I wonder who'll get Liz and who'll get Baggs in their team for the showdown.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Innovation will bring success

If December is a bit slow for your business, maybe it's a good time to take a moment to plan for 2011, if you've not already done so.

I always find looking forward to the future and making plans for the next year (or three) very exciting. It stimulates the mind and gives hope for a bright new year.

The economic situation in 2010 hasn't been great, and it's not likely to get a lot better in 2011. Consumers will have less money to spend and, whatever your business, you are likely to be affected by that. So it is worth putting that into your equation for planning for next year.

How are you going to overcome that?

Will it be by spending less, or by spending more (to eventually gain more), by taking more risks, or by taking less risks?

It is a firmly held belief among successful entrepreneurs (I've read the books!) that you have to take risks to become successful. That's not gung-ho, mad risks, but calculated risks where you understand the consequences of failure. But don't be held back.

I believe that 2011 should be a year for innovations; in the way we work, the way we market and sell, the way we produce and what we produce.

I don't have all the answers (I wish I did), but I believe innovation will bring success.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Inflation on the rise again

Inflation has risen again. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up to 3.3% in November, from 3.2% in October. It is still lower than its recent high of 3.7% in May 2010, but has been 3% or over since February 2010.

The deflation fears of mid-2009 seem a long time ago, don't they.

Inflation at 3.3% is well above the 2% target set by the Government, and Bank of England governor Mervyn King will have to write to Chancellor George Osborne for the tenth month in a row to explain the reasons for this.

He'll no doubt say that food prices rose at record rates from one month to the next. To be fair, there's not much Mr King can do about that.

Meanwhile, we poor public and business people are victims of circumstances caused by others.

It's up to us to strive to do better for ourselves.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

GPS - because tracking matters

GPS tracking can be a useful asset to all kinds of businesses.

Based at Fort Worth Airport, just north of Dallas, Track What Matters, LLC provides GPS tracking services to assist its customers to supervise their employees when away from the office.

Track What Matters tracks vehicles as far afield as the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia, as well as the United States, Canada and Mexico.

GPS tracking enables business to track personnel, assets, trailers and containers. The service is renowned for being easy to use and providing detailed vehicle tracking information.

The service can also be used for non-business purposes, such as for families to keep track of their relatives – whether they are children or aging parents. Now, they can be out of sight, but never off the radar.

Track What Matters is an investment group with a record of investing in the growth, building and management of successful businesses. GPS tracking is another in a long list of technical solutions for business problems.

The best SEO Dallas has to offer

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for improving the online presence of businesses with a website and maximising their revenue potential. Simply having a website will not mean that people will visit a site, even if millions of people may want what it is offering.

Professional SEO in Dallas using Globe Runner software can ensure exposure and put your business on the map.

With Globe Runner you will get all the things you need to improve the visibility of your website, including website design, search marketing, social media campaigns and link building, using “white hat” (ethical) SEO techniques.

To get the best SEO Dallas has to offer, use Globe Runner, which will offer you a partnership to improve your business standing online. Expertise, personal service, understanding of your objectives: all on offer at reasonable prices. Globe Runner SEO will give you long-term results to take your business to the next level.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The place to buy a Dell 5110cn

Check out this website for great savings on printers and associated printer products. For example, the Dell5110cn color laser printer can be found here at a great saving.

As well as buying a value-for-money printer, it is important to be able to buy printer cartridges and refill kits at reasonable prices, or you lose the benefit of the cut-price printer. Cartridges purchased here will meet or exceed yield and ink quality standards set by manufacturers.

This website delivers big savings and one-year warranties to ensure you get total satisfaction and peace of mind with your purchase.

As well as Dell, big names represented are Canon, Epson, Lexmark, Pitney Bowes, Xerox, Brother, HP, Kodak and Samsung.

The website prides itself in offering the best quality products, to give the clearest pictures you could imagine.
Contact can be made via the website of a toll-free customer support number 1-888-400-7972, open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm, Pacific Standard Time. You can make payments using American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover or PayPal.

It’s the best place to buy a Dell 5110cn.

Late invoice payments hurt smaller businesses

It's a continuing frustration that bigger companies pay invoices late to smaller businesses. Many go well beyond the accepted 30-day rule.

Whether they do this for reasons of selfishness (i.e. keeping the money in their interest-bearing accounts for as long as possible) or because their systems are sluggish (i.e. once a month BACS run), I do not know, but I do know that is very unhelpful to "the little guy".

Most small businesses are reliant on small, but speedy cash flow, and the delays in payments of invoices - many for amounts as small as two figures - only serve to stem the cash flow and give owners headaches in chasing unpaid bills.

The next thing the bigger client may know is that the smaller business is no longer there.

I urge larger businesses to make paying smaller businesses a priority, giving them a fighting chance of beating the current economic climate, and maybe eventually employing a few new people into the bargain too.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Work from home - let it snow

It's on days like this, with four inches of snow lying on the ground outside (I live in Surrey) that I'm glad that I work from home. I do not have to go out today, when the roads are likely to be treacherous and public transport undoubtedly badly affected.

In spite of the weather I can carry on with my business. This is a great boon, and one which home-working and the Internet have brought about. I am sure that in 2010 there are many more thousands of people who can continue to work normally, despite the terrible recent and ongoing weather, when compared with twenty years ago.

I have no demographics, but I'm fairly sure that nearly everyone travelled to their place of work back in 1990. In 2010, most people still do, but many now don't. Whether that has any great impact on the country's economy, I don't know, but maybe if we look forward another twenty years, the increase in home-working will by then make a difference to the economy on bad weather days, and to the amount of traffic on the roads (decrease it!) when the weather's good.

No day off for me when it's snowed. Back to work...

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

December will bring the usual Christmas slowdown

December arrives tomorrow, and as the Christmas lights go up in people's homes and offices, so thoughts naturally turn towards the festive season. And despite, many good intentions, people begin to switch off from work. (Except for those in retail, of course.)

December has always been a quiet time for getting things done in the office. Any project that relies on as much work being done in December as in, say November, will fail. It is a disappointing fact of life.

Even if you can get through the first week or two with steely determination to cary on regardless, then by the third week - for example, this year the week starting 20 December - you will find yourself weighed down by the lack of enthusiasm for work shown by everyone else.

You might as well give up fighting and enjoy the Christmas period just like everybody else.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Royal Wedding no holiday for small businesses

It's all very well for the Royal Wedding on 29 April 2011 to be a cause for celebration, but for those of us who run small businesses, the declaration of a bank holiday is a royal pain!

A non-working day means no income for small businesses and freelancers.

Those who work for large corporates will be delighted, of course, as will any business that might make some money out of the occasion (a Wedding mug, anyone?).

Perhaps the secret is turn your business to try and make an advantage from the Big Day, but most of us do not make branded cups, or lacey goods that might be suitable.

How about: A 20% discount for everything ordered on 29 April 2011?

That might work.

Monday, 22 November 2010

We'll never run out of ideas

Having a big idea for a new business is what we are all looking for. The TV programme 'Dragons' Den' is all about this, as the so-called dragons trawl through the big ideas of the would-be entrepreneurs.

I was talking to someone the other day who seemed to think that all the ideas had been dreamt up already.

This is not correct and never will be.

Think back to, say, 1980. What major inventions have we had in the 30 years since then?

Take PCs and the World Wide Web as two major examples. The first eventually spawned the second and between they have given the platform for almost all of us to start up and run our own businesses, which for most would have been impossible before 1980.

So, there are always new ideas to be had. They may not all be on the scale of PCs and www, but you can form your own niche.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

No business loves Christmas like a retailer

Retailers look forward to Christmas as their busiest time of the year. For many, it is the key to survival as they achieve most of their annual sales in the Christmas period.

For those of us in small businesses that are not in the retail sector, however, Christmas is disruptive, and it seems to have begun early this year.

We have noticed a slowdown in orders recently. Of course, it may not be entirely down to the season, as the economic climate will undoubtedly be having an effect on the amount people and businesses are prepared to spend. However, i do think it is highly unlikely that things will get very busy for us again before Christmas and the New Year have passed.

The festive season can mean four to eight weeks of slowdown for non-retailers. So, while they are all busy dressing up their shops from the end of October, the rest of us have good reason to fob it off, and then hope it will go away very quickly.

In the meantime, pass the nuts, sherry and mince pies, and light a candle!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

How Mervyn might explain the inflation rise

Inflation was up again in October, to 3.2% from 3.1%. As it remains above the 2% Government target, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has to write to Chancellor George Osborne explaining why this is so.

One can only imagine the letter.

“Dear George,

Inflation was ever-so slightly up last month to 3.2%. But, hey, it’s a good job we don’t use the old RPI figure – that was at 4.5%!

Of course, this rise isn’t really my fault (I can’t remember when it last was actually). It’s those pesky fuel people who keep putting prices up. Oh, and you might want to look at your own figures – that nuisance fuel tax rise on 1 October didn’t particularly help, did it?

I’m not sure you’ll be too bothered about this, but food inflation for those poorer folk was actually down. You might want to use that as a headline?

I reckon this rise is only temporary anyway (did you see my quote on that one?), so let’s not be too down; it’ll look good next month if inflation is down for Christmas, eh?

Mind you, then you’ve got that VAT rise coming in January, haven’t you? Again – not me!

Look, the bottom line is this: we can’t see beyond the next couple of months, but we’ll just say that inflation is likely to be down to 2% by 2012. How’s that?

Hope the family are well. Regards to David.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Blackpool manager upsets the status quo

Many managers,when they enter a new organisation, want to "make their mark" and show what a difference they can make. They often end up changing things for change's sake and the result is to upset the status quo and they end up with disgruntled staff who perceive no benefit in the changes.

How refreshing it is to see a manager who does things his own way and doesn't worry too much about upsetting the norms and mores, not of the oragnisation he has joined, but of the profession he is in.

Step forward manager of Blackpool Football Club, Ian Holloway.

From the start of the season when Blackpool joined the Premier League for the first time, Holloway has been determined to do things his way, for example not paying his players the over-inflated salaries that most Premier League players get paid - but scarcely earn.

Last night Holloway made ten changes to his Blackpool side to face Aston Villa at Villa Park. The Premier League is understood to be investigating Holloway's decision. Holloway says he will resign if he is fined by the League. Last season Wolves manager Mick McCarthy was fined £25,000 (suspended) for fielding an apparently weakened team.

Holloway's team lost 3-2 at Villa last night, but Holloway maintained that they were worth a point, and opposing manager Gerard Houllier agreed.

Holloway was forthright after the game, saying: "I'm manager of Blackpool and I manage the players how I want. If some bright spark from the Premier League wants to tell me who I can pick then come and have a cup of coffee and you'll probably get it chucked in your lap.

"Let them try and fine me, it's an absolute disgrace. I'll show the Premier League. We were a credit to football, and let the Premier League try to tell me otherwise."

Good on ya, Ian. Buck the trends. I wish you luck.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The truckers of the night world

I drove home from Leeds to Woking last night between 10.30pm and 2.30am. It's motorway for 204 of the 212 miles.

What a different motorway world it was. The world of the truck driver.

Morrison, Royal Mail, Eddie Stobart, UKMail, Logistics companies by the dozen. Large trucks outnumbering cars by probably something like 15 to one. Columns of them working their way north (and south) to destinations around Britain.

It's a world most of us don't see.

On the motorways during the day there are more cars than trucks, but at night there are almost as many trucks, but far fewer cars.

The trucks are moving to stock Britain's shelves - not just the obvious supermarkets, but stockists of any kind - car parts, stationery, fuel, electronics - everything. They keep Britain ticking over.

Keep on trucking, guys!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Anyone for China?

I read that Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable are visiting China in an attempt to increase the amount of business done by Britain in China. Prime Minister David Cameron and 50 business leaders will join them tomorrow.

Mr Cameron will also raise the issue of human rights with Chinese officials, but it is the broadening of trade links that is the priority, with an emphasis on fast-growing development markets as exploited by both China and India.

Exports to China are on the increase, but are less than those to the Irish republic, for example. Vince Cable said that China had huge potential.

If you run a business it should star you wondering if you’re offering a product or service that might be wanted or needed by China, and, if so, how you can market it and deliver it there.

The Internet, of course, makes life much simpler that it used to be, but getting the message to China’s people might not be so straightforward.

Chinese translation, anyone?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Nonsense still rules in the office!

Now that I work from home, I don't have to put up with office bullsh*t any more. Or any of those crazy phrases that appear and (hopefully) disappear rather like records used to do in the charts.

An article on the BBC website showed some of the most hated currently. I'm pleased to say I've neve heard of some of them. These are my ten favourites (i.e. most hated) and the contributor.

  1. idea showers (Anon)
  2. product evangelist (Philip Lattimore)
  3. incentivise (Karl Thomas)
  4. touch base (Gemma)
  5. I've got you in my radar (Stephen Gradwick)
  6. low hanging fruit (Paul)
  7. 110% (Ricardo Molina)
  8. paradigm shifts (Barry Hicks)
  9. strategic staircase (Peter Walters)
  10. we are still optimistic things will feed through the sales and delivery pipeline (Alexander)
Oh dear, oh dear. For a more in depth review, see the orignal on the BBC website.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Give your CV a makeover

In these days of economic hardship, government cuts and likely redundancies it is important to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job you would like if you find yourself in the job market.

Getting your CV in the best possible state is vital.

So, if you have no CV, if your CV is a little out of date, or you think it might be in need of a little TLC, then try ClearerCVs.

They offer the following services:
  • Write a CV
  • Re-write a CV
  • Write a cover letter
  • CV template
  • CV template + questionnaire
  • Application form assistance
  • Company research
  • Free CV Review
Give them a try.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Service sector index on the rise

The UK service sector showed stronger than expected growth in October, which has boosted the pound.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI), a survey of activity in the UK service sector, showed an increase to 53.2 in October, up from 52.8 in the previous month. A fall to 52.5 had been expected.

Boosted by the news, sterling rose by some 0.5%, to $1.614 and 1.148 euros.

The PMI is produced by data services company Markit and any number above 50 means an expansion in the sector. The October score was the highest since June.

As the sector represents around three-quarters of the UK economy, it is a significant figure. The survey also found evidence of increasing price pressures in the sector.

Nevertheless, service companies have lowered their expectations for the coming months due to concerns over the economy and the impact of government cuts.

Monday, 1 November 2010

New CV service launched today

At, we're launching a new service today.

It's called ClearerCVs and offers these services:
  • Write a CV
  • Re-write a CV
  • Write a cover letter
  • CV template
  • CV template + questionnaire
  • Application form assistance
  • Comapnsy research
We also offer a Free CV Review.

If you're in need of some assistance with your CV or your job application, why not try it out today:

Friday, 29 October 2010

Go with social media to further your business

I have just been speaking to an acquaintance of mine who runs his own Events Planning business. He told me that business has been slower than usual, and more customers than normal are leaving bookings until the last minute. He also said that other people in the industry are experiencing exactly the same thing.

I guess it's not a surprise, is it? In times of economic hardship, the frills have to give first as people strive to pay for the essentials.

Paul went on to say that he had set up a facebook group and a twitter page for his business and, lo, within hours he had had an enquiry from these.

It demonstrates the importance of social media in modern times. If you don't go with that flow, you'll be left washed up by the tide.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Wellworths to rebrand as Wellchester

The former Woolworths store in Dorchester which re-opened as Wellworths is going to be forced to change its name. Wellworths was launched by former Woolworths manager Claire Robertson in March 2009 after the old chain closed down. The company has been given two years to change its branding.

Shop Direct bought the Woolworths brand out of administration. It said a legal settlement had been agreed with the Wellworths store in Dorchester, Dorset.

The new Wellworths name will beWellchester. It had sought to agree terms that would have let it keep the name but restrict its expansion.

After the 815 UK-wide Woolworths stores closed in late 2008, Ms Robertson reopened the store, re-employed about 20 colleagues and saw the business make a profit in its first year. It's one of those feel-good success stories.

It's a shame for Wellworths that they have to change their name, but I hope they continue to succeed.

As for Shop Direct, what exactly are they doing with the Woolworths name?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

If business is slow, don't be inactive

When you run a small business there is no guarantee of work. One good month for income does not necessarily mean that the next month will be good for business.

But a slow month is no excuse for inactivity.

Instead, consider what you can do to improve your business. There are plenty of areas you could look at. Here are a few ideas.

Can you do more? Can you target it better? Do you need to cut spending? Or is better to increase spending?

Are your exisiting campaigns working? Can you introduce a new campaign? Is it time to re-assess to target market? Is there room to cut your prices to gain new clients?

Are you getting from (and giving to) the best to your existing clients? Can you prompt them to buy more services from you?

Your Organisation
Is it running smoothly? Do you have procedures for all processes? Could a new employee come in and take over any of your processes? Examine your business and see if can make it run more effectively.

There is always something to do in business. If things are slow, then take that chance to re-look at the way you run your operation.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Get a clear spec from your client

One of the biggest problems I have found in business is that the customer's requirements are usually very unspecific.

Although I learnt this soon after I'd started out on my own (six years ago), it remains a problem, and no matter how hard you try to get clear instructions from your clients, more often than not, they can't do it.

I don't believe it is wilful on their part. I believe that they have brought me in to deliver a service and, despite the fact it's their business and I need to know (for an example of creating a website for them) how their business works, what they do, what their logo is, whether they want photographs ... all the rest of it, they want me to "just do it".

Having such an open sepcification may allow for creativity, but it also leaves an awful lot of holes to fill!

It's a journey to get from a blank spec to a website that gives the customer what they want (even though they had no idea what they wanted!).

In truth, life is so much easier when the client knows what they want, but just doesn't know how to do it!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Realism required on state pension age

The news in the Government's Spending Review that the age of receiving the state pension is to rise to 66 by 2020 did not comer as particular surprise to me.

I am of an age where this relates directly to me, but I don't feel it is a problem.
  • We are all living longer, so it is logical that we should work longer.
  • The country is in dire financial straits, so it is logical that the state can't afford to pay our pensions so readily.
  • The are more older people now than ever before, so it is logical that the stae can't afford to pay our pensions so readily.
  • We are all fitter and healthier in our 50s and 60s now than ever before, so it is logical to work longer.
It probably depends on what work you do.

Personally I feel that I will be more than happy to continue my current work beyond when I turn 66, but I can understand that some manual workers may not feel the same way.

Apparently in France they are disgusted by the idea that the state pension age there will rise from 60 to 62.

Hmmm, where is "Brussels" when you need a bit of European harmony? The French need to take a dose of realism.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

We need understanding from banks as the cuts bite

The government spending review or "The Cuts" were outlined by Chancellor George Osborne yesterday. They will undoubtedly mean big changes for the way many people run their lives, and it will be several years (at least) before the good times are back.

This is not the place to try and apportion blame, but maybe we all got used to too much of the good times - borrowing and spending money on the never never ... and then the never never came to an end. It easy to blame bankers, and say we should never have bailed them out, but modern society cannot exist without banks and the services they provide. When the good times were good, we didn't try and rein them in. That only happened when things went bad.

Now they are back in profit, however, I do think it is time for the banks to give something back to the people who bailed them out. How about these for starters:
  • better, cheaper service
  • reasonable loan terms
  • better interest rates on our savings
  • In general: an understanding that times are bad for us, and they might like to help us this time.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Furniture retail software

If you’re a furniture retailer then consider furniture retail software from Myriad Software, which for more than 20 years has been a furniture retail solution. The package offers a completely integrated business solution.

The total business management product from Myriad offers modules for inventory, merchandising, purchasing, Executive Management reports and much more. The integrated product will cut down on data entry for furniture retailers.

The company’s product, EclickticTM has been designed with mid-sized home furnishings retailers ($1m to $60m) in mind, to enable them to boost their profits.

Running on a local server or as a web-based solution, the software includes support such as training, consulting and technical and application support.

For the furniture retailer, Myriad Software has everything you need.

Wage freeze and flexibility on the cards?

Chancellor George Osborne is due to announce the long-awaited (dreaded), already much-maligned spending cuts today (Wednesday).

Apparently a photographer snapped up a preview yesterday when Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander was carrying the Spending Review - two pages of which were visible to photographers.

Part of what it said was that a wage freeze and flexibility over hours would help minimise redundancies, but it also suggested that there would be 490,000 fewer public sector workers by 2014-15.

"Wage freeze and flexibility would help minimise redundancies". This should please those left wing union leaders, who surely would like to spread what wealth there is around their members and members of other unions, rather than campaign for higher wages for their members alone.

Thus, I'm sure we can expect some generous offers of how that will happen so that we can avoid redundancies and the misery that goes with that. (I think this is where I put a wink emoticon to show that I'm joking.)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Have faith: put trust in your fellow businesses

Even in these days of difficult economic conditions, and supposedly hard-nosed business people, I still think there is room for trust.

In six years of running my own businesses, I have employed a basic trust in my dealings with clients. Thus, if I have had to make an outlay of money to buy a service on behalf of a client who has yet to furnish me with a penny, I have done so on many occasions.

Only once has theis resulted in a problem with delayed payment from the client that took so long, it resulted in my having to go to the online claims court to recover the money (successfully, I would add).

Now I know that many of the harder-edged business folk will say that I am foolish to pay out money before getting any in; even if the trust has only been breached once, it does not make good cash flow sense. That is, of course, true. Most of the outlay amounts have been small - two or three figures - so there has been little risk.

Despite any "loss of interest" I still feel it is good to act in good faith, and I hope to continue to do so.

Remember that trust works two ways in the end.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Lack of optimism for business growth

Context is an organisation which analyses distribution sales and pricing in 35 countries. Its chief executive, Jeremy Davies, reckons the "jury is out" in the UK over the government's proposed cuts, CRN reports.

"In terms of overall UK business," he said, "we are not back to pre-crisis levels; in fact, we are still down from pre-crisis levels." He said that, although there had been a pick up at the start of the year when the recession was techincally over. the effect of cuts on the well-being and morale of UK businesses should not be underestimated.

Mr Davies thinks it is likely that businesses will look at budgets and go into "lockdown mode". How wider consumers will react is also unknown, but Christmas may see a boost (as it usually does), as people take advantage before VAT rises to 20% in January.

Sectors showing growth include telecomms, PC components, printer consumables, computers and storage.

However, it is smartphones that are the biggest success story of 2010, with a whopping 339.4 % growth.

If you're in the right markets, you can still make it big!

Friday, 15 October 2010

A golden rule for business partners

I went for a haircut this morning and a new, guy, Tony, cut my hair. We talked a bit, as you do, and he told me that he used to be in (haircutting) business with his brother, before he came to work for my barber's.

Things went wrong, Tony told me, and he and his brother fell out over something fairly trivial, which was vaguely business related. It was certainly true to say that if they had not been in business together the falling out would not have happened.

That was a year ago, and they are still pretty cold with each other.

This seems very sad to me, but does remind me a golden rule of my own: Never go into business with friend or family.

I also was in a business with a friend a few years ago, but we had a difference of opinion and have not spoken since.

Sad. I didn't have my golden rule then. I do now.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Shout out loud to survive The Apprentice

To see those women candidates on The Apprentice on BBC1 last night was astonishing. The cacophonous babble as they argued, shouted and talked over each other in the boardroom made one shudder at the thought of ever trying to work with such people.

Alan Sugar's female sidekick in the show, Karren Brady, voiced her amazement and disappointment with the way the women were behaving and how they were representing females in the workplace (not like this, please!), and there were a few moments of quiet.

It made for good television, of course.

The trouble is that the show is really desgined for the loud-mouths and show-offs. If you don't "put your head above the parapet" or get yourself noticed, you will get outed as doing nothing, not being a winner, making no contribution.

So, sure enough, after all the moaning about the wild behaviour of these crazy women by Sugar and Brady, what did our Lord Sugar do?

He fired the quiet one.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Internet advertising is essential

You might have a great business, a great idea, what should be 'the next big thing'. But if nobody knows about it, it will fail and die.

You need to bring it to the attention of your potential customers. You need to advertise in some way.

In these days of the Internet you need to be found there. People may still use their hard copy of Yellow Pages, but more and more they are turning to Internet search engines. Of course, the king of the search engines is Google and their advertising service is Google Ads.

I am in a very competitive line of business (website design: Pierrepont Consulting), but set up a Google Ad recently. The number of enquiries I have had is well above what I was getting before. There is little doubt that Google Ads works (it may not always work, but my experience is positive).

The good thing about Google Ads is that you can turn off your ad at any time, so you're not committed to a large outlay if you find that in fact it's not working for you.

I'd strongly recommend giving it a try

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

In the private sector we just have to get on with it

It's a tough business environment out there at the moment.

No surprises, of course, with everyone cutting back in anticipation of "the cuts" that will undoubtedly affect all of us in one way or another.

In the private sector we just have to get on with it.

Which is why it is very frustrating to hear the unions perking up and threatening strikes and all the rest of it. It won't help the economy. In fact, at times, it sounds like petty politics. Yes, cuts will hit us ALL hard. But, despite what the unions make think, there's no divine right to a job and an income.

In the private sector we have to fight for every sale. We also have to fight to ensure our businesses keep going, hoping to expand them and create employment opportunities for others. Even if we can't do that, then every sale and every purchase we make as part of our business helps to grow the economy.

Strikes do not.

Monday, 11 October 2010

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Friday, 5 February 2010

Economy faces a bumpy ride

Yesterday the FTSE 100 index tumbled more than 2.1 per cent - or 113.8 points to settle on 5139.31 at the end of the day.

It was the largest one-day fall for three months and prompted speculation that the economic recovery was faltering.

Bad news from the eurozone, with huge debts for countries such as Greece and Spain, appeared to be the catalyst for a selling spree.

Analyst at BGC Partners, David Bulk, said: "This week's story is Greece. Next week's story could be Portugal. Nex month could be Spain and maybe even Italy. The next quarter - who knows? It coiuld be the UK and next year the US."

He said that equities were "uncomfortable".

It's a gloomy prognosis, and a "double-dip" would appear to be on the cards. Although still rising, the pace of house price rises slowed in January.

The uncertainty about the General Election won't help.

It looks like being a bumpy economic ride for the next few months.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

January services sector affected by snow

The services sector in Britain slowed more than expected in January, and no doubt the snow and cold weather had a lot to do with it.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply's purchasing managers' index (PMI) was down to 54.5, from 56.8 in December. Anything above 50 is growth, but the forecast had been for a score of 56.5.

CIPS chief executive officer, David Noble, said: “This may be a temporary blip caused by one-off events rather than signs of a double-dip recession, but we can't dismiss the possibility.

"The chaos caused by the snow hit this sector particularly hard, much more than manufacturing or construction, reducing the growth rates of activity and new business wins."

Nevertheless, Mr Noble was positive on a number of points.

"At ground level, employment is moving closer to a level of stabilisation and there's even evidence of recruitment in the financial sub-sector. And, it seems the VAT increase coupled with growing confidence and demand has encouraged some firms to raise their output prices slightly."

"Even with imminent tax increases and government spending cuts, confidence in the future is buoyant as wider economic pick-up is expected to offset any fiscal austerity to come."

Philip Shaw of Investec was not surprised at the low figure. And wondered how much the snow had been influential.

He said: "I think the policy implications are unchanged: certainly a rise in quantitative easing this week seems very unlikely and while we wouldn't totally rule out a further expansion of asset purchases, the likelihood is that £200bn will be the top."

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Small business owners lend money to their own businesses

Small business owners have been drawing on their personal finances to keep their businesses afloat during the recession.

In fact, there was a rise in personal insolvencies in the first nine months of 2009, and experts believe many business owners have sacrified their perosnal finances in favour of their businesses.

Owners have been using their own credit cards, drawing on personal savings and using overdraft facilities to prevent their businesses going under.

Chris Poll, chief executive of CreditPal, said: "Thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been forced to rely on credit to survive in the last two years as a result of disruptions to business cashflow.

"We believe we have identified an SME fear factor at play, with companies more likely to seek finance from non-traditional sources because they are scared of even applying for finance from banks and building societies."

Incredible, isn't it?

The banks, who should be there to support our businesses - after all UK taxpayers now own most of the banks - are scaring off business owners, who have to dip into their pockets to keep their businesses going, while at the same time paying taxes to keep the banks who won't lend to them afloat.

Monday, 1 February 2010

UK leads Europe in online shopping

Figures from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) show that shoppers in the UK spent more online than anywhere else in Europe last year. In fact, UK online purchases accounted for almost a third of all European sales.

The UK spend was £38bn online in 2009, or an average of £1,102 per shopper.

The figures mean that online sales now amount to around 10 per cent of total retail sales in the UK, according to the CRR.

The centre reckons that internet shopping would continue to grow sharply this year, reaching £42.7bn in 2010.

"This year is when we will really start to see online sales achieving a significant share of overall retail trade in the UK," said Bruce Fair, managing director of online shopping and price comparison site Kelkoo, which commissioned the research.

Mr Fair said that online shoppers were growing in confidence of the security of the Internet and monetary transactions.

Online shopping had been boosted by the recession, Mr Fair said. "In these hard times, it is no surprise that shoppers are turning to the internet rather than the High Street, especially when you consider that purchasing items online can result in savings of 20% or more," Mr Fair said.

It demonstrates the importance of a website for all businesses, and the ability for people to buy right there and then.

Friday, 29 January 2010

It's fun to pay other people in your business

When you're starting a new business, the last thing you want to do is give away money.

Yet one of the secrets of building a business that will last is to make it bigger than yourself. And that means employing other people - either directly, or on a contract basis.

It surprised me what a pleasure it is to pay (or give away money) someone else for helping you to do your job. To expand your small business you will have to use other people sooner or later.

If one task takes you all week, then you can only do one task a week on your own. If you use someone else your business can do two tasks in a week, and you will make money from that, while at the same time paying them.

It's a great pleasure to do that.
1. You make money.
2. Your business grows.
3. You make someone sle happy by paying them.
4. You help to grow the country's economy.

It's good to do all those things, so you'll soon get to enjoy "giving your money away"!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Businesses not trusted, says Edelman

The global economic crisis has ruined public faith in business leaders. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that seven out of ten people believe companies will just go back to business as usual after the recession. Banks are particularly distrusted, and chief executives are viewed with suspicion.

Some countries, however, are seeing a rise in business trust, notably the United Stated, Netherlands and Italy.

Commenting on the rise in trust in these countries, Richard Edelman, the chief executive at the PR firm, said: "Trust in business has improved, but the patient has a long road to go for a full recovery.

"The increase in trust in business belies its fragility. There is concern that short-term actions have been taken only as a result of the crisis and that government will need to remain a watchdog. Companies will have to prove the sceptics wrong and show they can achieve both profit and purpose."

The survey results coincided with the start of the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Banks, especially, are struggling to regain trust, according to the survey. That is not surprising, given their role in the economic crash. Yet, they are not the worst regarded sector. Media and insurance companies are even less trusted.

Two sectors stand out as trustworthy. These are non-governmental organisations and campaign groups. In industry, the technology sector is most trusted.

Trust in governments remains fairly stable, especially in the US.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Britain crawls out of the recession

Britain has come out its recession, but with GDP growth at a mere 0.1 per cent in quarter 4 2009, it was hardly cause for a fanfare yesterday.

Indeed, the pound fell on the less than remarkable news. Forecasts from economists had been for a 0.4 per cent growth - but their increasingly wayward predictions are making them almost worthless.

Colin Ellis at Daiwa Capital Markets Europe said: "Never has an end to a recession been so underwhelming."

As the pound fell, hopes rose that the UK record-low interest rate of 0.5 per cent would remain in place for some months to come.

Mr Ellis commented: "With the economy still in intensive care, there is a strong case for more support from policy to boost growth and job creation."

Now popular forecasts are that the Bank of England will continue with its quantitative easing programme.

The Office for National Statistics will produce two revisions to the GDP growth figures which could take the figure up or down by 0.1 per cent. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said last night that he expected the figure to be revised upwards.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Tax system failure proves it IS taxing

There’s an advert of TV at the moment, saying that “tax doesn’t have to be taxing”. Its purpose is to prompt people to return their tax forms or pay their tax bills by 30 January.

And then you read that incorrect tax codes may have been sent out because of a new computer system!

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) reckons that taxpayers might have to pay up to £108 a month too much.

HMRC said it had no evidence of the problem being widespread, but advised taxpayers to check carefully.

The CIOT is urging the Revenue to launch an advertising campaign to alert taxpayers to the problem.

Apparently, the problem lies in a new computer system designed to process the collection of income tax via the PAYE system, together with national insurance contributions.

However, the CIOT said the system was not distinguishing between current jobs and old ones, meaning that tax codes were being calculated on the assumption that some people had more than one job. The result is that some people are being taxed too much by their current employer.

It just goes to show what we all already know.

Tax IS taxing.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Business groups call for NI rise to be scrapped

The government has been called upon to scrap next year’s one per cent rise in National Insurance.

Claiming the rise could have an adverse impact on economic recovery, British Chambers of Commerce and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have written a joint letter to Lord Mandelson urging him to cancel the proposed rise in payments by businesses, saying that business will suffer from the financial burden it will cause, and hit any recovery in the job market.

A CIPD survey showed that 10 per cent of businesses felt that the increase would interrupt their recruitment. Worse, just under one in ten said the NI rise would cause them to make job cuts.

The NI rise is designed to help the government plug the whole in its coffers, and the CIPD estimates that it will cost employers £14bn over four years. They say it amount to a tax on jobs, and should be scrapped.

The one per cent rise is the result of two 0.5 per cent rises announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling in separate budgets, in late 2008 and in 2009.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Virtual AGM with no technical hitches on Skype

I am a partner in a virtual business; that is to say that there are three partners: one is in Woking, one in Hemel Hempstead and one in Worcester. We meet once a year for an AGM at Oxford Services by the M40.

With the weather forecast for heavy snow running from approximately Worcester to Woking and bisecting Oxford, we decided that the pragmatic decision was to cancel the meeting. The trouble was, we had already called it off once before, when six inches of snow lay on the ground last week.

Thus, no further delays could be allowed, and we took the decision to hold the meeting "virtually". We have held such virtual meetings before - always on MSN. But that tool is creaky - crashing one partner's system, and throwing out members of a conversation at random being two of the problems.

Being a recent member of the Skype community, I suggested Skype to host our virtual meeting. Despite one of the partners not having Skype, she was able to download and install with ease.

We held a three-hour AGM on Skype without a technical hitch. All we used was the messaging feature; no visuals required - but it all worked perfectly.

Although it is useful to meet in person at least once a year, we are confident that we have a tool that can host our meeting in future. We felt very "green" (environmentally so). As for the weather - who knows what it has been doing along the M40. It sleeted here in Woking during the meeting...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Inflation jump catches City by surprise

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the Government’s preferred measure of inflation, jumped to 2.9 per cent in December.

It was only 1.9 per cent in November, and the increase represents the biggest monthly increase since records began. The City was shocked, as it had expected a leap – but only to 2.6 per cent. It is the highest level since March.

The Retail Price Index (RPI) was also up – to 2.4 per cent, its highest level for over a year. It was up from 0.3 per cent in November – the biggest leap in RPI since 1979.

The jump in CPI came about because of a number of factors that had kept prices down a year before, including a fall in oil prices in December 2008, the cut in VAT to 15 per cent and retail discounting, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Core CPI, excluding food, energy, tobacco and alcohol, was up by 2.8 per cent on the year, and this is the fastest rate of growth since records began in January 1997. RPI includes council tax, mortgage interest payments, buildings insurance and house depreciation – none of which are included in CPI.

Monday, 18 January 2010

UK cities to fare unevenly on emerging from the recession

Some cities in the UK will take years to recover from the recession, a think-tank called Centre for Cities, says.

Cities such as Cambridge and Edinburgh, with highly educated populations, are well-placed for recovery, but some cities, such as Burnley, Stoke-on-Trent and Newport will suffer because people have less qualifications and fewer businesses are stating up there, the report said.

The think-tank claimed that the gap between the top and bottom of the economic rankings has grown during the recession.

Cambridge had the lowest percentage of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance, and Hull had the highest, and the gap between the two has nearly doubled.

According to the study, locations with already robust economies were likely to get stronger, and areas with weak private sectors and poor graduate skills would sink further behind.

"The turnaround of our largest cities will be critical to the national recovery," the report said. "Brighton, Milton Keynes, Reading, Cambridge and Edinburgh have the right ingredients to succeed after the recession has passed.

"They have strong private sectors, high levels of entrepreneurship, highly educated workforces and large shares of knowledge-intensive jobs."

Chief executive of Centre for Cities, Dermot Finch, said: "The next government needs to help these struggling cities fix the basics - like improving schools and public transport - so they can attract new business and jobs."

Friday, 15 January 2010

Bank of Scotland business customers now referred to call centre

Small business clients have criticised the Bank of Scotland for changes in the way it handles corporate customers. Business Relationship Managers were moved out of branches, leaving small businesses to use a call centre.

The FSB spoke of outrage at small businesses being “abandoned” with call centres being bad for customers and bank alike, but the bank claimed that business managers still travelled to meet clients.

Small businesses now have to deal with staff at a call centre in Edinburgh.

Andy Willox, Scottish policy convener of the FSB, criticised the call centre approach He said: "This means that partners, who must take decisions jointly, now need to conduct finance negotiations huddled around a speakerphone.

"Even returning a call is now a touch-tone labyrinth of security questions."

He added: "I find it astonishing that the Bank of Scotland says this is what their small business customers want.

"Our members say the exact opposite. And despite the bank's protestations to the contrary, our members are receiving a drop in service level, without any drop in their bank charges."

A spokesman at the bank said: “We introduced the new system for small and medium-sized enterprises after extensive market research. Since it was introduced we have increased both the amount of lending and the number of SME customers in Scotland.

"In a small number of locations we found that most of the contact between the bank and its customers was sporadic and over the telephone."

The spokesman also said that it was no longer commercially viable to keep all small business meetings as face-to-face with business manager.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Business looking up for 2010

I hope everyone else is having the same experience as we are with our business so far in 2010. At ( we have had an increase in requests for work in these first couple of weeks, which is a boost for us in difficult economic times.

Don't get me wrong. It's not easy, and where we've increased the amount of work coming in, we could still do with more!

However, it's been busy enough for us to have to review our plans for 2010. Previously, we were looking at a 20-30% increase in turnover, but now we're more optimistic about a 40% increase.

Much of the success in 2010 depends on a new venture, clearercvs (, but we are hopeful that this will go well this year, and our plans only include a slow start with this venture, anyway. We first put plans in place for this new venture in August 2009, and we had a six-month plan with a target of going live on 1 February 2010. I'm delighted to say that I'm still confident we will meet that deadline.

Having work in IT for many years and see so many projects miss their target dates, I am keen to prove that IT projects (and this is essentially one of those) can meet their deadlines and come in on budget too.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Contingency planning required for snow

With the snow and ice continuing to keep Britain in their frosty grip, business leaders have urged the Government to convene a special conference to review bad-weather contingency planning.

With Britain at a “standstill”, the Federation of Small Business (FSB) estimated that the bad weather had cost the UK economy around £600 million a day, as staff struggled to get to work.

There should, say the FSB, be discussions between local authorities, transport and salt mining companies, schools and businesses to find solutions in periods of bad weather.

The FSB says that many small firms have been forced to close, have lost business or seen their supplies run out because of transportation problems, as many roads have been unusable. School closures have meant parents have had to stay at home to look after their children.

We Brits never seem to learn lessons from bad weather, and we haven’t done so, even with last February’s snow still in the mind.

The FSB urged the Government to put an emergency grant scheme in place for small firms adversely affected by the snow, together with mandatory guidelines for local authorities regarding salt, and increase the nation’s salt supplies.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Postal service appears to be frozen

The snow is turning to slush, the kids are back at school, the thermometer has gone upward past 0 degrees, the buses are running, office workers are back in the office, yet ...

... we have had no postal delivery for a week.

I run a business from home here in Surrey, and normally get three or four pieces of post a day. But, for a week ... nothing.

It really is quite ridiculous.

What is it? Health and safety? Too cold? Can't be bothered?

For those of us who are trying to generate some income - for ourselves, and for others who work for us, it is frustrating to see a supposed general national service simply not operating because of the snow on the ground.

Come on. Get a grip. Literally.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Budget shops have a sparkling Christmas

Figures tell us that budget retailers had a bumper Christmas as shoppers sought out bargains.

Poundland, which sells all items for £1, reported that sales over the festive period rose by 4.4 per cent.

Former Sainsbury's executive Jim McCarthy runs the 254-store chain. He said: "The increase in shoppers over Christmas 2009 is yet more proof that Poundland continues to offer both quality and value. We are confident that sales will continue to reflect this customer trend throughout 2010 and beyond."

So-called "rent-to-own" retailer, Brighthouse, which sells furniture, electrical equipment and kitchen appliances to customers on low incomes, has seen a 9 per cent rise in sales in the 13 weeks to Christmas Eve.

Chief executive Le McKee said: "Both customer footfall and trading in the run-up to Christmas have been strong and we have delivered improved revenue and customer numbers. Consumer electricals have been popular and we have also seen significant demand for furniture and domestic appliance."

Budget fashion chain Peacocks also reported strong Christmas trading.

Maybe the message is clear to all businesses: if you want to sell well, then make sure you're offering a bargain.

Friday, 8 January 2010

FSB complains that school closures cost work days

Head teachers have come under fire from business leaders, who say many schools have been close too readily because of the snow.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says that many work days are being lost as schools close, and they have called on the government and head teachers to create a code for school closures.

Head teachers hit back, saying that schools were closed on the basis of local issues alone.

Spokesman for the FSB, Stephen Alambritis, told BBC Radio’s Today programme: “There is concern that the vast majority of absences from work is simply because parents have to stay at home to look after the children.

“We appreciate that, but we do have a worry that head teachers and the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Association of Directors of Children's Services haven't really sat down and thought through a code of practice to make sure wherever possible that it's only in exceptional circumstances that the school is closed.

"We all know that the vast majority of children are within a small catchment area to attend school and so there is a concern that head teachers may be closing schools unnecessarily."

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said decisions were made based on a “whole range” of local information. "It can be a very difficult and a very local decision; that's why it's right that head teachers should make these decisions," he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "These are never easy decisions, but we cannot and should not dictate closures from Whitehall when we don't know local circumstances. We trust heads to make the right decision for their school."

Thank goodness for that. The last thing we need is more government intervention.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Services sector figures look good

Britain's services sector continued its recovery in December with new business on the increase for the eight month in a row. This is good news for Britain as the services sector dominates business in the country.

The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) was up from 56.6 in November to 56.8 (anything above 50 is an increase in activity). The new business measure was up from 56.8 to 57 - its steepest rise since September 2007.

Chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), David Noble, said: "Last year saw the UK service sector at an extraordinary rate and end 2009 on a high. This was on the back of stronger economic activity, new business wins - especially among larger companies - and growing client confidence."

However, the figures came with the news that the sector continued to shed jobs, albeit at the slowest pace for 16 months.

It should mean that the recession ended in the fourth quarter in the UK. Vicky Redwood at Capital Economics, said: "Even if the surveys prove a bit optimistic, it looks a safe bet that the recession ended at the end of last year."

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Mandelson justifies delay in spending cuts

Lord Mandelson today defended the delay in cutting the country’s huge deficit.

Mandelson used a speech to attempt to back up the Government’s business credentials prior to the general election in May. He said: “Only by growing our economy can decent jobs be created, living standards protected, and the winners’ circle expanded outward to those on low and middle incomes."

Government spending, he said, was providing vital demand when private sector activity was low.

"Pull away that prop for the economy and you reduce the tax take, push up spending on unemployment and make the deficit worse. This is the paradox of government thrift. We learnt it in the 1930s.” (Actually, quite evidently, we didn't!)

He went on to say: "Let me say this quite bluntly. For the past decade we allowed ourselves to become over-dependent on the City and financial services for growth and our tax revenues."

It is interesting that he feels that his party, who were a big cause of the problem (as admitted above), will also have the solution.

Why is it that the Government told banks to lend more responsibly – implying that we all need to borrow more carefully – yet they feel the best way out of a huge deficit is to continue spending more?

If we rack up the full amount on our credit cards, is it sensible that we don’t bother to pay it off, but continue to borrow more?

Lord Mandelson also said that the new 50 per cent income tax for top earners "is justified in the quite exceptional circumstances we face". Yet, the top earners may well leave the country, ‘reducing the tax take’ (see para 4).

He also suggested there should be a new culture of long-termism in business managers.

Yet many recent strategies by the Government smack of short-termism … or electioneering.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Record new business start-ups in 2009

The year 2009 saw a large number of new businesses set up despite the recession.

There were 476,000 new businesses set up in the first ten months of the year, and the total for the year may well beat the total of 525,000 in 2008.

There was also a lower rate of business failure than expected, meaning that Britain will probably end 2009 with 90,000 more businesses than at the end of 2008. That will mean the third consecutive year of record new business star-ups, fuelled by a rise of self-employed and the ease of sarting up new ventures.

Steve Cooper, managing director of Barclays Local Business division, commented: "The UK small and medium enterprise stats have been more resilient that we thought they would be. And it's starting to bounce back."

Since June, he added, small business have been generating more profits than the previous months, following 16 months of falls.

Economists at Barclays believe that new businesses have been formed to generate an income, but also as a lifestyle choice.

Mr Cooper said: "You could argue that those that are starting up now have thought through their proposition less thoroughly."

Whether that is the case or not, we should wish all new businesses well for their owners' futures, their employees' future, as well as for the well-being of the country.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Women to outnumber men in work within four years

The Conservative-leaning Policy Exchange says that women at work will outnumber men in four years.

The think tank says that men have been hit harder by the recession, creating a "Full Monty" effect.

The proportion of men of working age who have jobs has fallen from 92 per cent in 1971 to 75 per cent now. For women the percentage has increased from 56 per cent to 60 per cent.

The recession has hit men harder than women, with the number of men in work falling since June 2009, whereas the number of women in work has increased.

Director of Policy Exchange, Neil O'Brien, said: "We are having Full Monty-style recession, with women faring much better than men."

The Full Monty was a 1997 film telling the story of how out of work men turned to stripping to earn money.

Men in traditional manufacturing industries have undoubtedly suffered from the decline in manufacturing in the UK since the 1970s. The sector has fallen by an average of 1.2 per cent in every year in the last decade.

It is time for men to change tack and take hold of their own professional lives. Men need to move into sectors where the jobs are, and get on their metaphorical bikes.