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 and

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 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!