Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Is high pay rewarding failure?

It's difficult to see any real justification for the huge - and increasing - disparity between the highest earners in the UK and the rest.

The High Pay Commission - set up by a pressure group - says the difference between what top executives and average workers earn has been building for 30 years.

Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo in the UK and Irish Republic, sought to justify the enormous salaries to top executives to the BBC by saying that the UK has to be competitive with the rest of the world.

But one wonders whether it does and if it is. Does it have to be competitive with the rest of the world? And is it?

I haven't got the figures to answer that question.

What I would say is that salaries at such a level should be commensurate with the success or failure of the compnay they are running. I am all for incentivising success. But given the dismal failure of many companies' share prices in recent years (often chosen as a general indicator), that should surely mean that salaries should have fallen recently.

Why do we continue to reward failure?

That's certainly a good incentive for top executives: "I can screw this company and this country and still get paid hugely. What a fine vehicle for competition this country is!"

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Branson's an example we should aspire to

There's still a lot of anger about regarding the banks, since the credit crisis and recession began in 2008. The anti-capitalists camping outside St Paul's and the Stock Exchange in London demonstrate the ongoing frustration.

It is interesting to speculate how the news that Northern Rock is being sold to Virgin Money will be received.

Many hardliners will no doubt shrug it off as being sold from one bunch of capitalists to another, but I suspect many will be (at least secretly) quite pleased that Northern Rock is being sold to one of Richard Branson's companies. A self-made billionaire, Branson doesn't quite fit the bill of the despised money-men.

In fact, Branson is - and should be - feted, lauded, exemplified and copied. This is surely the kind of business person we should all aspire to be.

I hope he makes a magnificent success out of Virgin Money and its new-found Northern Rock clients.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Cymax, based in Vancouver, Canada, and founded in 2004 is a leading ecommerce retail. It prides itself on its excellent customer service, it low prices and wide array of products.

Cymax began by specialising in audio and video furniture, but has widened its furniture portfolio to encompass one of the largest product lists on the web. From humble beginnings it has grown steadily to beat $100 million sales in 2010. It was listed by Internet Retailer as one of the Top 500 online businesses in the world in the same year.

The company dedicates itself to excellence in retail and great service, and with its inspiring culture and young team it continues to innovate to remain a first-class online “e-tailer”.

Cymax has more than 100 online stores selling brand-new merchandise from the best manufacturers in the world.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Cold calling never ceases to irritate

Times are tough for small businesses. I have found recently that business can vary from one week to the next, and the only guarantee is that nothing is guaranteed.

In such times, of course, business look for more work. I can certainly understand that, but it is still very irritating to get the cold callers on the phone:

"We're not selling anything..." yeah, right.

"You're a [Telecoms network provider] customer. We think we can offer you a better deal..."

"Do you play golf? We have some great deals..."

"We can offer you cut-price accountancy..."

I try to be polite (no, I really do), but when more than one person from the same company rings you within a couple of days of each other, a saint's patience would be tried.

I know they're only trying to do their job, but go away and try it on someone else - please.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Jury Service and the self-employed

I was summoned for Jury Service earlier this week, for three weeks in November.

Being self-employed I was concerned about the impact that would have on my earnings; i.e. if I'm not here, I don't earn anything.

So I immediately rang the Coroner's Court to ask the question. I spoke to three people before I got through to someone who knew the answer. Before I reached her, I was thinking: "Surely I'm not the first person to ask this question!" I would have thought many people would have asked this before and everybody in the coroner's office would know the answer straight away.

The answer, by the way, was a desultory £32.95 for four hours, and a vague "about £60" for a full day - plus expenses (car travel, car park) in both cases. Not much, eh?

The justice system doesn't seem to put much value on the self-employed!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

How is business for you?

It has been a while since I've been on here to make a comment.

I have been busy - working!

That, of course, is a good thing, but I also like to keep up with the blogging and background articles and such like. Never mind, the work has to be done!

I can't be sure whether the extra work means that the economy is recovering. Macro figures may suggest otherwise, and my sample of one business is 'rather' small, but I can but hope that things are moving in the right direction.

I've said on here before that one good month doesn't necessarily make the next month good, and small businesses have to learn to live with the ups and downs of their particular market.

While taking on as much work as possible, it leads me to think about taking on other people - as freelancers only - to help me with the work. Now that surely would be another tick in the economic recovery box.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Rioting idiots think nothing of their own futures

The appalling, sickening and disgusting rioting that has taken place over recent nights in English cities demonstrates mindless stupidity.

The idiots may think they're having fun, looting - stealing - and thumbing their noses at society, but, frankly, they're just making things worse. "The cuts" probably don't mean anything to yobs like this - they won't understand anything about national debt and things of that nature. But they might - just - understand what a job is, though many of them may not have one.

Some day these little hooligans might want a job, and where will they go? To the local shops, to see if they can get a start as a check-out person or a store helper of some description. Oh, but guess what? That store isn't there any more - they torched it "some time ago".

It is the businesses that they are ruining with their idiotic behaviour that are the backbone of this country, but what would these people know about that?

It's behaviour lacking in all thought. It is indefensible.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Low interest rate encourages us to borrow

The Bank of England left the base rate at 0.5% once again. It has been at that "record low" level since March 2009 - that length of time at one interest rate may be a record in itself!

Most economists do not expect the rate to be changed this year, but many do expect there to be a rise in 2012 - to 1.5% by the end of the year. Pure speculation, I'd say. I don't believe any so-called experts foresaw the economic crash of 2008-9, nor expected the interest rate to tumble to 0.5% when it did. Few of them know what surprises are around the next corner.

For people with mortgages, the continuing low rate should continue to be good news, but for savers the low interest rate means that their savings are dwindling in value - especially with inflation at around 4%.

We are encouraged to save - at least in words - by politicians, but the hard monetary facts enourage us to do otherwise. It is still better to borrow than to save.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Speculative emails can work

Anyone who runs their own business will inevitably use email and have a website. This will equally inevitably lead to insolicited emails arriving in their in-box from time to time.

Most are spam, but some are genuine enquiries with a view to mutually beneficial ways of working.

I receive loads and most are spam. If they are written to "website owner" or "[blank]" or "to whom it may concern" or similar, then I ignore them straight away. If, however, they are written to "Garry" or "Pierrepont Consulting" (especially the former), then I might give them the benefit of the doubt and read them. After all, at least they have bothered to read the website (even it is by their software!). I also like them to have something that looks like a real name at the bottom - not just a website address - and like them to be based in the UK.

If I do write and send a reply, then the second test is whether they reply to that quickly and personally. (i.e. are they real? do they exists?)

If that happens then a discussion may take place. I have actually met up with people who sent speculative emails on three occasions, and two of them led to working with each other.

I have another meeting on a similar basis this afternoon (in fact he's just called to change the time!). I'll let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Selling items is so much easier now

I've just sold an item on ebay that was used by my business. It was a piece of equipment that can be used again, but it was no longer right for my business.
I turned to ebay to auction the item off. Starting at £50 and hoping for around £200, I eventually sold the item for well over £300. I am delighted with that piece of business.

Before the advent of the Internet - and particularly ebay in this instance (say, over ten years ago) - I would have had to try to sell the item by other means, for example an advert in the local paper. I would have had to set the price (probably £200) and hope that people viewing the ad would be interested enough to call and arrange to come and see the item. On ebay, of course, you can post a picture (several, if you wish) so that potential buyers can see it immediately and make some sort of judgement about condition. I would have made less money at greater inconvenience in "the old days".

Although there may be some downsides to ebay (though I've never experienced any), this way of selling is a vast improvement on what we had available to us a decade ago.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


We all know that banks make good profits. It would be good to part of that, wouldn’t it? Well, you can if you bankonyourself – a new concept, which means You can Be the Bank™.

This gives you the opportunity to grow your money safely and profitably, and it’s a process that financial institutions and wealthy investors have used for many years, earning them interest, and potentially dividends too, all without risk.

The Personal Equity Institute (PEI) can help you learn how to do this. PEI is a company which teaches and helps implement new strategies for gaining wealth. Teaching methods include online resources, classroom teaching, seminars, books and videos.

PEI is continually looking for new ways to acquire wealth, looking at the history and principals of finances, applying common sense and structuring powerful prosperity systems. People who PEI help to invest are usually professionals and small business owners.

Bankonyourself with PEI.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Who's going to win the social network war for businesses?

In the private sector, and particularly in the small business, sole trader or freelance part of the finance sector, many businesses are battling for too little work.

Many of us turn to social media (social networks, business networks) in an attempt to boost our business connections. But there are so many of them, which ones should we turn to?

Many people are on Facebook and, although it has some pretences towards business networking, it is primarily a social network. It has undoubtedly promoted some success for people in their businesses, but it is hard to mix business personal activities with business activities, unless you have more than one Facebook persona (which is hard...).

Twitter is swamped with business people following other people merely in the hope that they will follow them back. The number of Internet marketers on there is a phenomenon in itself - I wonder if they manage to market to each other. It still seems the best place to follow people you're interested in ("celebrities" for want of a better word), and I should imagine the number of business success stories are a tiny percentage of the amount of nonsense that goes on there.

Ecademy and LinkedIn are more business-oriented networks, and both have chargeable elements. LinkedIn seems to give away a little bit more for free, and the pendulum seems to have swung its way, with Ecademy now trailing behind.

Where all these will lead is anybody's guess. More networks are appearing all the time - WAYN  and NABO are two that keep bombarding me with, well spam, for want of a better word.

Where Friends Reunited and Myspace have fallen, will facebook and Twitter follow? WIll all your invested time have been wasted?

Thursday, 30 June 2011

News Corp sells MySpace

MySpace has been sold to online advertising firm Specific Media by its erstwhile owners News Corporation. The social media website was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for £361m in 2005, but in the last couple of years it has been left high and dry as users spent more time on Facebook and Twitter.

Specific Media say that Justin Timberlake will play a major role in assisting with the strategy and creative direction of the site.

When News Corp bought MySpace it was one of the leaders in social networking, but it could not sustain its position in the face of the leaps forward made by Facebook.

Specific Media will have to come up with a new niche for MySpace as it appears that it cannot compete in the same arena as Facebook. MySpace’s original thrust was in the music area and trying to push it as a competitor to Facebook as singularly failed, and its main use is now confusing. It needs a new definition.

Between 2005 and 2011 MySpace’s monthly US visitors have risen from 21.8 million to 24.9 million, but in the same period, Facebook’s monthly US visitors have rocketed from 8.3 million to 157.2 million.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Artists use vacant shops for mutual benefit

I read that empty shops are being used by artists and film-makers, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13842044.

The article refers to an artist's exhibition in Leeds, but it is happening in Newcastle and elsewhere too. The recession left many high street stores empty, boarded or pasted up, and art exhibitions certainly make them look brighter. One office block is even being used temporarily for a film set.

The key point for landlords is that they pay full business rates on properties that have been empty for more than three months, but if they let them to charities, they get 80% off. Many art exhibitions qualify as charities.

Arts Council England helps to fund the rent from the artists' side.

"The premises are being used for public benefit, we're brightening up areas that are standing empty and helping to change the image, and we get the resource that we can give artists to use," said Ken Stratford, operations manager at Leeds-based East Street Arts.

Looks like good business all round to me.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Water Heater installation

Offering installations on a complete range of gas furnaces, Friesen’s is a leading heating and furnace Installation Company. Based in Alberta, the company serves Calgary and Edmonton, particularly looking for homeowners looking for value for money in their home heating costs.

The company’s single stage hi-efficient installed furnace operates at up to 97% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). This can reduce home heating gas consumption by up to 40%.

Getting the best water heater installation is a prime target in these days of environmental targets and money difficulties.

Friesen’s has been in the gas-fired furnace business since 1999, and it can diagnose and repair all makes and models. Friesen’s also has a ‘fixed right or it’s free’ policy, to give you peace of mind.

Water heater installation is understood by Friesen’s who promise a same-day installation service for orders before noon.

No wonder Friesen’s was named “Service Provider of the Year”.

Wine club

Membership of the Hemispheres Wine Club enables you to receive bottles of top quality wine made by the best wine makers. With an expert who tastes each wine be visiting each winery, the club offers an exciting array of wines from around the world.

All membership levels at the wine club give you access to excellent wines and you will come to appreciate the detail of every bottle you receive.

The Hemisphere Wine Guild is a co-operative which aims to supply unique and less obvious wine of the highest quality at competitive prices. Membership is by subscription.

Members of the wine club in Canada will receive wines and education about wines in a country where importing wine has its own special difficulties. That is where the wine club gains its advantage, by opening the world of wine to its members.

Inventory control software

Kornyk Computer Solutions International (KCSI) has as its purpose the delivery of cost effective, quality and scalable solutions to help its clients produce excellent business results with its inventory control software. Founded in 1997, the company now has thousands of clients around the world in industries as wide and varied as the military, schools, hospitals and factories.

KCSI has its headquarters in British Columbia, but its professional IT services reach out across the globe, with software development, website services, search engine optimisation and advertising campaigns. KCSI likes to build strategic partnerships over the long term with its partners.

By analysing the business processes of its customers KCSI can tailor its products and services to suit, including its inventory control software.

Results are guaranteed with KCSI’s full-range of solutions for accounting, sales, time management, web, e-commerce and interactive services.

Cheap flights

Escapes.ca has the aim of providing cheap flights with the best value service.

The company’s user-friendly website enables travellers to book flights are the lowest possible rate, but travel experts are also on-hand to help.

By using Escapes.ca there is no need to shop around for cheap flights because the flights and vacation packages are the best available from Canada’s best-known tour operators and vacation wholesalers. As well as cheap flights, cruises with major and niche-market cruise companies are also available.

The company has a proud vacation tradition, dating back to 2001, and there are specialists available to help you get the best-value vacation, and to help you with travel tips and information.

Holidays available come from – among others – Signature Vacations, Transat Holidays, Air Canada Vacations, Sunwing Vacations, Sunquest Vacations and Westjet Vacations.

If you want excellent service, knowledgeable experts and cheap flights then Escapes.ca is the place to go.

Basketball training

Basketball training is critical for players to play intelligent basketball and PGC Basketball provides just the training needed for high school, college and professional players.

Student-athletes are taught to train with purpose, to be coaches on court, and leaders in games, practices, out of season, and in everyday life. Beyond being an average basketball camp, PGC camps are like universities, with basketball at the core.

Prep School for junior high and freshman high school varsity basketball players is an ideal introduction to PGC for younger students, putting them on the right path to becoming successful high school varsity players.

PGC is a must for players and coaches who want to push their game to a higher level.

Prep School summer basketball training camps is about basketball – and much more, instilling character and leadership qualities into students. It’s an experience not to be missed by would-be basketball players.

Eco friendly printing

Increasingly businesses are looking for environmentally friendly products and eco friendly printing is a move in the right direction.

Metropolitan Fine Printers has been recognised as having the most progressive print project for the environment for three years. The company is proud that its print is almost completely greenhouse gas-free. It has also obtained Forest Stewardship Council and is a 100% Carbon-Free Plant.

The policy at Metropolitan is to address environmental issues and the firm takes its responsibility very seriously. Eco friendly printing doesn’t come easily and extensive research has led to Carbon Neutrality with Pacific Carbon Trust.

Presses are cleaned with recycled material which then ends up being used as alternative fuel. Sister company EIS has managed to increase the life of printing blankets by 400%.

Metropolitan chooses its partners carefully to ensure they are also environmentally friendly. For example, MET ENVIRO UV Inks uses enviro-liquids and recycled paper stock.

People at Metropolitan operate strict procedures to protect the environment from risk. Reduction, re-use and recycling are not just words at Metropolitan.

Mining company in Canada

A mining company in Canada is running the Taysan Project in the Philippines, exploring for advanced copper-gold porphyry deposits.

Located on the island of Luzon, 100km south of Manila, in the Batangas Province, the project also comprises the Antipolo Epithermal Gold Mine.

Modern exploration began in this area in 1968, with most of the work concentrating on resources definition drilling and assessment of the deposits to be found. Such work has found various concentrations of gold and copper in the 11,254 hectare area, and feasibility studies have been undertaken by HBP Engineering and Pincock Allen & Holt. High grade copper concentrate with gold, silver and magnetite are products expected to be mind at the Project.

The mining company in Canada, based in Vancouver, hopes that the mine will have a working life span of 25 years with a payback in three years.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Improving unemployment figures mask other truths

UK unemployment fell by 88,000 in the period February to April to 2.43 million.

On the face of it this appears to be good news, especially as it was the biggest drop since summer 2000.

However, it masks another truth: that the number of claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance was up by 19,600 to 1.49 million. Not all good news, then.

The official unemployment figure is – interestingly – based only on a survey, and has been diverging from the jobseeker number for a number of months.

Unsurprisingly earnings growth slowed down during the same three month period, with earnings rising by only an annual rate 2%. At a time when the latest inflation figure was 4.5% (May), this emphasis the hard times Brits are going through right now.

Whether mass strikes by 750,000 public sector workers potentially coming up will help this situation is debatable (and the reasons are not for earnings or job losses), but it is easy to see why frustrations are rising.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ideal opportunities are few and far between

Occasionally an opportunity comes along that looks ideal.

I have just seen an opportunity for a "sports content writer", and the requirement was for writing on sports, and especially on UK football (soccer) [so, just football, then]. Excellent, right up my street.

They wanted so much writing that it would apparently have filled 40 hours a week. Wow, that's a lot of writing.

However, the pay was poor, very poor: only £5-£6 an hour.
I'm not sure who they would expect to write articles for that money; and I'm not sure what quality of writing they would expect.

Such a pity. Another apparently ideal opportunity gone with the wind!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

FIFA cabal reflects business management

FIFA is reflective of many businesses in the way it runs itself.

I'm not saying that FIFA is corrupt in this blog, but having just watched a part of the FIFA Congress on live video streaming, it does strike me that most of the delegates are not interested in even finding out if FIFA IS corrupt. They just want to all vote themselves back in and crack on with their cozy cabal.

Similar occurrences happen in business. We have all seen fellow workers be promoted to managerial level and suddenly change their long-held views. Where previously they agree with the stance of the general staff, now they agree with what they'd disagreed with for so long!

Are they in the proectorate all of a sudden?
Now, if they rattle the cage, they'll be swiftly pushed out. Fall in line, or find another one.

It happens in business and it happens in FIFA. They all seem to be protecting their own positions rather than seeking the truth.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Kitsilano real estate

If you’re interested in real estate in Kitsilano then we are here to help.

We cover everything from condos through townhouses to houses and you can search for the property you want by making your own specifications. With up-to-date market information and the latest on things going on in the neighbourhood, there is no better place to come for Kitsilano real estate data.

Our realtors live and work in Kitsilano, so can give you an insiders’ view of Kits. What’s more, we’ll do all we can to make buying your home an enjoyable process, by aiding and guiding you every step of the way.

We offer professional experience with knowledge of the market and tactics in negotiation.

We offer proven performance in Kitsilano real estate as we are members of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's Medallion Club, and ten years of experience in the industry.

We offer you local knowledge from our local realtors.

Look no further.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Tax-free mileage rate has increased for this tax year

It may have escaped the notice of UK tax payers, and especially those who run their own businesses.

The rate of tax-free mileage allowances for using your own vehicle for business purposes have changed for tax year 2011-2012.

For example, for cars and vans, for the first 10,000 miles in a year, the rate has increased from 40p to 45p a mile.

This is an important changes and long overude, given the huge increases in petrol and diesel prices in recent years.

If you run your own business and do any miles on its behalf in your own vehicle, then claim the miles back from your business into your own pocket at this rate. The change applied from 6 April 2012.

For more detail see http://www.cmbpartners.co.uk/budget2011/tax_free_mileage.html.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Shrinking directories - how long till they disappear?

We've all know it was coming, and this year it has happened.

Printed directories are shrinking.

Yellow Pages and the Thomson Local directories have recently arrived and they're both much smaller than they used to be. Not just in height and width dimensions, but also depth - they're much thinner than they used to be.

Shrinking directories: Yellow pages, a ruler, Thomson Local directory, a paperback book.

Like I say, we've known it was coming. No doubt many of us have stopped putting our businesses in either directory (I have been in both, but this year have chosen neither as a priority - though one gave me a "free" listing as part of my lnline package).

The trend towards online directories has been and is unstoppable. Yellow Pages and Thomson have to go with the trend. I wonder how long it will be before they disappear altogether.

See my website: http://www.pierrepontconsulting.co.uk/

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

It's been a long time

It's been three months since I posted on this blog. Too long.

The trouble is that during that time I've been working on a contract at a client site, taking me away from my normal place of work - home - and thus rendering updates to this blog very difficult. Of course, it's not really "trouble" as working is vital as part of the business itself!

However, it's a shame to miss this blog as I value the opportunitites it presents to communicate my latest feelings on business and make new contacts, etc.

However, neither is there any doubt that working onsite with permanent staff as well as other contractors presents its own networking and communication opportunities. I guess it emphasises the old adage that "there are many ways to skin a cat".

I look forward to re-establishing this blog and imparting my ... views on business life.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Keep your business on track

If you’ve got a business question then you will probably turn to the Internet and type something approximating to your question into your favourite search engine. The chances are indeed that you may come up with the answer on some forum or another.

But why not bookmark a new favourite website? One that has answers to many of the questions you’re likely to ask about business, and one that is growing all the time.

Business on rails at www.businessonrails.co.uk with a strapline of “keeping business on track” is just the kind of site you need.

It comprises hundreds of articles (and it's growing) from local experts that will enlighten you on many aspects of running a business and making it a success. That’s good news – and the even better news is that the articles are available for to read for free!

Headings cover the following topic areas:

  • Accounting
  • Environment
  • Finance
  • Health & safety
  • IT
  • Marketing & PR
  • Quality Standards
  • Sales
  • Social Media
  • Tendering

It’s hard to think of another area in which you might have a business question.

So, if it’s quick and free small business articles that you want. I would definitely advise you to make business on rails a favourite website today.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Victoria hotels

The beautiful Inner Harbour at Victoria, Canada is the perfect location, and that is exactly where the Best Western Plus Inner Harbour Hotel is situated. It is only a short stroll to find the city’s best features, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon Hill Park and the majestic Parliament Buildings.

At this, one of the best Victoria hotels there is, you can find luxurious guest studios, one bedroom suites, and top notch penthouse apartments, all non-smoking and containing microwave, fridge and with their own balcony.

The continental breakfast comes free, as does the gated parking and such amenities as the outdoor poor (in season) and the indoor whirlpool.

Various packages are available at this excellent hotel, so check out the room availability at the Best Western Plus Inner Harbour Hotel right now.

Davos experts tell us what we know

The World Economic Forum is taking place in Davos this week.

These economic experts are predicting a general world economic recovery in 2011, but it will be a “three-speed recovery”.

“Emerging markets” like China, India and Brazil (how long do these markets take to emerge, for goodness sake? Haven’t China and India been on the list for over five years?) will grow fast.

Germany and the US will grow strongly, and the rest of us (advanced economies, at least) will make only slow progress.

I hope they’re not paying these experts for this amazing insight.

Nouriel Roubini, an economist who predicted the credit crunch and known as a pessimist, spoke of a situation where "we have a glass that is half-empty and half-full". He could see the “first signs of acceleration”, but warned of “potential negatives”, citing the latest slowdown in the UK as a sign that the crisis was not yet over.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ask us. We already knew the economy was screwed!

The endless repetition of Chancellor George Osborne trying to blame the weather for the contraction of the UK economy was rather embarrassing yesterday.

Hold your hands up, George. It was a bad result. Sometimes you have to admit things went badly and "go back to the training ground." Labour - in the form of new shadow chancellor Ed Balls - could hardly keep the smirk of its face.

I'm not quite sure why everybody's so shocked about it. All these economists dashing about like startled ants running from a kettle of boiling water wondering what's going on. For those of us running around trying to earn a living, watching the food bill creep up every week, seeing the price of petrol rocket every day, knowing we had to cut back on Christmas presents, and tightening our business belts, the contraction of the economy comes as no surprise.

And with VAT having risen, petrol prices rocketing every day, energy bills on the up and little hope of a decent wage increase, we can all see what 2011 is going to be like.

We don't need a speech from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to tell us things are bad and "pay needs to be squeezed" (speech Tuesday night). It already has been - we know this!

Why don't they ask a few people in the real world?

Monday, 24 January 2011

We can't have it every way with the banks

A proposed deal by the coalition government to encourage banks to lend to small businesses has hit a hurdle. Loans of up to £200bn were supposed to result from the deal, but negotiations have stalled. The plan is known as Project Merlin.

What a disappointment if nothing comes of this.

Banks are apparently arguing that targets for lending to “weaker” businesses could break rules about decisions being made in the best interests of shareholders.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls (new in the job), said: “At this critical time for our economy and for the prospects of a strong recovery, the banks should be playing their part in supporting small and medium-sized businesses.” He said the government was going easy on the banks. It strikes me that the government is trying to encourage the banks to lend more – but within sensible bounds.

The stumbling deal comes in the wake of news of large bonuses being paid by banks.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said it was "all a bit odd, since you'd think RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds would all be desperate to show that they're doing their bit to support small businesses and economic recovery - and take some of the sting out of the widespread criticism of the substantial bonuses they are set to pay."

The trouble is there are too many strings pulling in different directions:

• The taxpayer has a large investment in many banks and thus want banks to help the taxpayer.

• Banks are now encouraged to lend “sensibly” after some appalling lending pre-2008, but we want them to lend more (to both “weaker” businesses and higher risk individuals).

• Banks have to keep their best people, but when they pay large bonuses the people (well, the media) are in uproar.

• The banks have to store up some reserve money to cover emergencies so that the taxpayer doesn’t have to bail them out again, yet the taxpayer want them to lend out the money at the same time.

We can’t have it every way.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Change at the top for Google

The success of some technology businesses in nothin short of amazing. Microsoft, e-bay, Google, facebook all spring to mind.

At the search engine giant (Google), co-founder Larry Page is to take over from Eric Schmidt as chief executive in April. Schmidt will become executive chairman to look after “deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships”.

Page (37) is taking back the job that Google gave to Mr Schmidt (55) when investors said they wanted a more experienced leader at the helm.

Schmidt said of Page and co-founder Sergey Brin: “In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I’m excited about working with both him and Sergey form a long time to come.”

Google’s net profits in the last three months were $2.54bn, but Google had lost some momentum recently. Key staff have been lost and Larry Page will have the task of re-energising the business.

After-hours trading on Wall Street saw Google’s shares climb about 2% in value to $639 a share on the news.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Inflation rise makes interest rate rise likely

With inflation rising to 3.7% in December (up from 3.3% in November) life gets ever harder.

Costs seem to be going up all the time, but small businesses are unable to raise their prices. Inevitably profits gets squeezed.

Even worse, the rise in inflation will bring increasing pressure on the Bank of England to raise the base interest rate, which has been at its historically low figure of 0.5% since coming down to that level in March 2009. The value of the pound rose on expectation that interest rates would be rising some time soon.

Inflation has now been above the Government target of 2% for the last 13 months. (By the way, if you kept missing targets month after month, would you expect to be sacked?)

The Office for National Statistics reported that the main causes of the latest rise were air transport, fuel, utility bills and food costs. Steer clear of those, then, and you probably won't feel the effects. Good luck.

If you want a bargain, however, why not buy yourself a camera, a video camera, a TV or a DVD? They have all tumbled in price. Not exactly the kind of things you buy when times are tight, are they?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Vehicle wraps

If you would like to personalise your vehicle – be it for business of personal reasons – then Speedpro Signs and Imaging is the place to go.

They install more vehicle wraps than any other company in Canada – because they offer value for money, innovative solutions and the results will be beyond your expectations.

Vehicle wraps are an excellent marketing tool for both multinational and home-based businesses, taking your message with you to customers wherever you drive all day and night.

Signing your vehicles is akin to a company uniform for your people so it’s worth considering vehicle wrapping for your whole car fleet.

For the most stylish and best vehicle wraps you can imagine, use Speedpro Signs and Imaging.

Vancouver Corporate Housing

The Onni Group is a real estate firm specialising in land development and property management. With real estate projects ranging from residential condominiums through single family homes to shopping centres and industrial parks, now its LEVEL Furnished Living division is focusing on short-term rentals in Vancouver.

With experience stretching back over 40 years, Onni has won awards from the Canadian Home Builders Association and is one of British Columbia’s most respected property developers. Vancouver corporate housing at LEVEL will add to its reputation for design, development and management of real estate in the province.

LEVEL is a new introduction to the short-term rental market in Vancouver. It is located in the downtown area of the city, giving easy access to the most fashionable neighbourhoods, such as restaurants in Yaletown, shops on Robson Street, the business district as well as the law courts, convention centre and entertainment and sports venues.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Gloomy outlook from the WEF presents our challenge

The World Economic Forum has said that the global economy could not face major new shocks.

Its report on Global Risks 2011 warns that risks are caused by economic imbalances, volatile currencies and commodity prices and budget shortfalls.

Other risks come from population increase which will increase demand for water, food and energy by 30-50% in the next 20 years.

These gloomy forecasts are made even bleaker by the warning from the WEF that governments are showing no signs of co-operating in achieving sustainable economic growth across the globe.

Chief business officer at WEF, Robert Greenhill, said that while the crash of 1929 had taken months to filter through to affect the world, that of 2008 had an impact within minutes. This was cause by “increasingly connected systems” giving us threats of “disastrous impacts”.

Interestingly Mr Greenhill said that while the G20 had come together in a crisis, he wondered whether they would be able “to identify and address a crisis before it happens”.

It’s all pretty bleak stuff.

But Mr Greenhill also said that countries and companies who understood the risks, and came up with solutions to cope with the crisis, would be able to unlock "global opportunities", the BBC reported.

There’s our challenge.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Apartments West Campus

More than 16 years of operation have given Campus & Central Properties a solid reputation in finding and selling houses, apartments, duplexes and condos in Austin, Texas.

Specialisation has enabled the owner – a University of Texas graduate – to give clients the benefit of first-hand knowledge of the Campus & Central area, and apartments West Campus.

Such unique and niche expertise means that this is the best company you could find to help you buy, lease, rent or sell property in Austin and apartments at West Campus at the University of Texas.

The property market is not a place for guessing – it is where you need expert information and guidance, and as the company searches the market daily, it is in the know. Focus on property management gives them the edge over other firms.

To sell, lease or manage property in the area of the University of Texas, look no further.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Articles are one way to boost your website visibility

Most people in business now realise that they have to have a website, any everyone wants their website to be noticed. They want to be "number one on Google". Be wary companies that promise that they can get you to number one on Google. I'm sure they can, but you're probably there already. Type in "Pierrepont Consulting" to Google and my company will be number one.

Is that good enough? Not really.

We all have to work to get our website's high on Google, but it's not easy.

One way of doing so is to use articles. They can be sent to e-zines, such as http://ezinearticles.com/ and http://www.articlesbase.com/.

What you do is write articles reasonably related to your business area and refer the reader to your website. In this way you are hoping to generate traffic and interest in what you are selling. News, views and other website use the articles to populate their own website which is where users will read them and hopefully come to your site.

Articles can also be used on your own site, making it a "resource". The idea here is that people will be attracted back to your site more than once for information and views, and then buy your services.

But it's hard work, and if, for example, you're an accountant, you're in business to do accounts, not to write articles. But neither are you in business as a computer fixer - so you use a 'computer guy' for that - you outsource. So for articles, you should also outsource.

Try CommissionArticles.com to commission articles for your own use. They will written by expert researchers and writers and give you the articles you ned to improve your website visibility.

Friday, 7 January 2011

40p a mile? So outdated!

I don't know who decides these things or how they decide them, but 40p a mile for business car travel seems pitifully low these days.

The cost of motoring has risen in recent years and the cost of fuel has rocketed in the last few months. You can buy a litre of unleaded for only just less than £1.30 these days.

As Bill Bob said in April 2010 on the forum Piston Heads Gassing Station:
"When petrol was 55p a litre I was getting 40p a mile expenses to use my car on company business. Guess what I'm getting now!! Yes it's still 40p. How can that be fair? ... It seems this government want the penny, the bun and the oven it was made in."

I don't know how long the 40p a mile has been the maximum amount payable for motoring expenses, but these days it seems woefully inadequate.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

All the best for 2011

And so we arrive back at work for 2011.

Retailers have been hard at work during Christmas and the sales period, but for most of us it's been time off.

There were SEVEN bank holidays (including weekends) in ten days between Christmas Day and yesterday. And (as I say, apart from retailers) it will have been pretty quiet in those three wokring days too!

Christmas/New Year really is a hump that most businesses could do without. Perhaps Ebenezer Scrooge had it right after all!

Now we are in 2011, it's time for a fresh start, a time for optimism. The days are drawing longer and the bad old days of 2010 are behind us. 2011 will be tough, but we're up for the challenge!