What's in a Business Name?
I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about business names, all part of having a under occupied fertile imagination! However, when it comes to naming a business of my own my creativity comes to a full stop.
Unless you are fortunate enough to own a business such as virgin, eBay or Coca Cola many small businesses remain invisible to most of the world. Almost everyone living in Britain knows that M & S sells knickers, not because their name suggests it such as the Tie Wrack did, but because they have money to spend on national advertising campaigns.
My previous boutique was named Kit and Caboodle. I thought this was a name that explained the business 'kit' as in clothes and Caboodle 'everything else' an explanation for all the shoes, hats and accessories that we sold. This is per the dictionary definition of caboodle. Quite a few people thought the shop was a sewing shop - why I am still not sure?
So as I prepare to name my new business, I am thinking what is the status quo? Should a SME business name say what the business does, such as 'Design Nation' an interior design company. Or should the name just be something catchy, or trendy such as 'Purple Rinse' a shop selling retro clothing and music. Perhaps the name should include the address such as 'Bath Road Market', in Cheltenham. Louisa's Funky Vintage & Craft Fairs includes my name in an attempt to make the business personal, so that people can associate the business to a real person.
But does any of this matter?
I can understand that 'Shaky Hands' wouldn't be a good name for a hairdressers or barbers shop or a business name such as 'Colour Blindness' wouldn't enlist trust in an electrician or interior designer,
But just how much impact does a SME business name have?
Will a business name that includes the address signpost more people to the business, yet it may say little as to what the business does or sells? Should the name include what type of business it is? Should it include 'buzz' words that might date quickly?
It is beginning to feel to me that the area of business names could encompass a whole field of sociological / psychological study. But for now I am in need a name for my business, that perhaps should include what the business does, where it is and something catchy and trendy!
What do you consider a good business name? All suggestions and thoughts are welcome.
Louisa's Funky Vintage & Craft Fairs
Insurance Act 2015 – Reforms
In 2006 the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission began a joint review to reform insurance contract law for consumer, non-consumer and marine insurance.
This review was conducted in stages, with the first stage culminating in the Consumer Insurance (Disclosure and Representations) Act 2012. This Act relates to one distinct area of consumer insurance law and applies to policies issued or renewed on or after 6th April 2013. The 2012 Act replaced the consumer’s duty to volunteer information with a duty to answer the insurance company’s questions honestly and reasonably.
Last week, on the 12th February 2015, Parliament passed the second piece of legislation, which is known as the Insurance Act 2015. This Act reforms post contractual issues for consumer and non-consumer insurance contracts alike and pre-contractual obligations on commercial policyholders to make a fair presentation of the risk. These latest reforms represent the largest overhaul to insurance contract law in England, Scotland and Wales in over a century. They are intended to bring the market into the twenty first century by rebalancing rights and remedies when things go wrong.
Insurers have the option to opt out of these changes or embrace them by August 2016. Given the pressure within the industry, it is likely that most insurers will adopt the measures, and in some cases make more radical changes.
The key provisions relate to Disclosure, Warranties, Conditions and Fraud, as follows:
Duty of Disclosure and Representation
The duty of disclosure is retained for business insurance, as part of a wider ‘duty to make a fair presentation of the risk’. The duty is satisfied if either all material circumstances are disclosed by the business, or sufficient information is provided to put the insurer on notice to make further enquiries.
Remedy for Failing to Make a Fair Presentation of the Risk
If a business fails to make such disclosure, the insurer‘s remedies must be proportionate (other than where non-disclosure is fraudulent or reckless), based on what the insurer would have done if it had received a fair presentation of the risk.
Basis of Contract clauses (Warranties)
Basis of contract clauses are abolished for all classes of insurance. These are clauses which incorporate all statements made in the proposal form as warranties in to the insurance policy.
Remedy for breach of Warranty
Significantly, all warranties are made remediable. If a business breaches a warranty, the insurer’s liability is suspended for the duration of the breach. If the breach is remedied before a loss occurs, the insurer has to pay the claim.
Remedy for breach of terms designed to reduce particular types or risk
Where an insured breaches a term of an insurance policy (whether it is a warranty, condition or similar) which is intended to reduce the risk of particular types of loss, the insurer cannot refuse to pay a claim if the insured shows that the breach did not increase the risk of the loss.
Remedy for fraud
The option of avoidance – treating the policy as if it had never existed – has been removed. This means that the insurer is still on risk for claims made before the fraudulent act occurred. The insurer has the option to terminate the policy with effect from the date of the fraudulent act.
The Act also introduced amendments to the Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 2010 so that this latter piece of legislation can finally be brought into force. This will allow third parties to bring actions directly against the insurer without first establishing the liability of the insured.
What does this mean for consumers and business policyholders?
The aim of the legislation is to provide a fairer system for the policyholders – by introducing measures that mean an insurer’s response to a breach of the policyholder’s duty of disclosure, as well as breaches of warranties or conditions is proportionate and reasonable.
By implementing these Reforms in full, the customer could see the following changes:-
· Warranty – free policies
· Conditions precedent to liability will only be invoked (applied) if the breach of this condition by the policyholder has contributed to the loss.
· Basis clauses will be removed from policies.
We have seen in the past incidences where a policyholder submits a claim for say storm damage to their premises, and because they did not have the required locks or security measures in place as required by a warranty or condition on their policy, the insurer has exercised their rights to avoid the policy and refuse to deal with the claim.
These reforms are not intended to remover the policyholder’s responsibilities – but ensure that their position is not prejudiced if an innocent breach occurs.
Andrew Long Cert CII
Commercial Account Executive
In sales, a Dancing Pony is the sales person who gives all of the information on the first call or visit. This is then perceived by the customer as open information to be used to get the best deal from the competition.
Sales people are warned continually that this is bad practice and they should hold back as much as possible until they get commitment. The buyers though are continually told to try and get all of the information early and under no circumstances to give a commitment.
In my humble opinion, this all leads to a competitive culture where each is trying to outwit the other to get the 'best deal'. This invariably leads to 'buyers remorse' which means that you feel inclined never to buy from that person again and the supplier resents giving any further help.
Clearly in the case of a service such as IT support or telephony which is all about the relationship this will never work.
As more and more 'open source' products are being given away free to start with, thanks largely to Google. There seems to be a new culture building in which the expectation is that you try stuff out first and become 'expert' in its use then go to market to get the best deal. This devalues the role of the expert advisor and potentially can waste a lot of our time. This in turn could damage our ability to do business.
So what can we do? I for one want to have happy customers that feel encouraged to recommend my services, so I'd rather cut out the competition and go straight for the relationship. Since that is going to be based fundamentally on my ability to provide the service, I'm going to give all that I can of my time and expertise free of charge and if prospective customers go elsewhere then good luck to them.
With this in mind, feel free to ask me for a quotation or help any time.
Bring on the Dancing Ponies! ;)
The Power of Networking – and why it’s not always about passing leads
Earlier today I submitted a request for help in sourcing a suitable placement for my son to undertake work experience locally.
Being specific about the industry (technology) that my son is interested in, I duly drafted an email and sent it to the proprietor of CAP Business Clubs, Paul James just before 11am today.
Within a matter of minutes, my request had been relayed to the three Groups within CAP – the Motivated Monday guys, the Terrific Tuesday group and mine, the Thriving Thursday bunch. I was impressed and grateful in equal measure.
Fast forward just a couple of hours, and I have received three independent offers from local IT related businesses, and further contact from two more Members offering to help – all members of CAP Business Club for which I remain very grateful. After considering the logistics of getting my son to and from the placement of choice for a week, and the nature of work undertaken, we accepted Eric Witheridge and his team’s offer of a place with Module IT for the week.
Without being a member of CAP Business Club and regularly networking as I do, who can say if this would have been possible? I suspect it would have been a case of making a number of cold calls or issuing numerous letters in the hope that an offer is made.
In my view, this experience demonstrates the strength of the relationships that can be developed through pro-active networking, and not simply expecting business from each connection.
February 13th 2015.
VAT is not for me - you think not? Beware - new rules on digital sales:
Do you deal in digital products and services, such pdf files, downloadable software or tutorials, to private individuals and non-business?
Are you under the impression that VAT does not affect you because you don't create enough turnover to register for VAT in the UK?
Or - as you are under the, very high, VAT threshold in the UK, you have decided not to voluntarily go for VAT registration?
Why bother reading this if you are under the threshold? Because, since 1st January 2015, if you make sales of digital services to consumers in the EU you will either have to register, individually, with the 28 member states in the EU with the possibility of having to make 28 individual VAT returns or the alternative is to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and join the mini-one stop shop (MOSS) scheme.
Major changes have taken place across the EU on digital sales to consumers in EU states.
It is now your responsibility to account for VAT to the tax authority in the EU state the 'place of supply' took place; at the VAT rate of the place where your consumer is based, has their permanent address, or usually resides.
To determine whether a VAT charge will apply you need to:
Question is - do you supply the following electronically?
To comply HMRC states that: "To use the Union VAT MOSS scheme you need to be registered for UK VAT".
If you are already VAT registered in the UK - login to HMRC’s online service with the User ID and password that you use to access the VAT Online service to register for the VAT MOSS scheme
If you do not want to have to register for VAT in other EU member states, you must register for VAT MOSS by the 10th day of the month following your first digital services supply. So, for example, if you make supplies on 8 January 2015 and want to use the VAT MOSS scheme to declare sales in the tax periods ending 31 March 2015, you must register by 10 February 2015. Your scheme registration will then be back-dated to the date of the first cross-border digital services sale on 8 January.
If you sell business to business you may be able to avoid joining MOSS but only if the person/business you are selling to can prove they are a business ie provide their VAT number, or if not registered in their country, proved suitable proof such as business documentation, website etc.
If you are under the UK VAT threshold, and supplying non-business customers in EU states with digital products or services, you will need to:
Any VAT incurred on expenditure wholly and solely in relation the declared digital sales to EU states can be claimed.
The above is a taster of the new rules governing the supply of digital services to private consumers. If you are caught by this new legislation, or think you are, please ensure that you get professional advice and assistance.
For more information on this subject please contact Cecile Hunt.
Cecile is licensed to practice in accountancy and has run her own business for ten years, she has a wealth of experience in advising and assisting start-ups, micro and small businesses in running their business' plus advising on, and dealing with, taxation issues, including VAT, of sole-traders, limited companies, partnerships and personal tax.
Much more Information on MOSS can be obtained from:
Regardless of portfolio size, it's important for landlords to be aware of the legal regulations they are responsible for when it comes to their properties. I’ve listed the ten most important, in my eyes, from over a hundred regulations. If you’re an estate or lettings agent, I can arrange a seminar for your landlords to help the understand these regulations and more.
1 Gas Safety
Where there are any gas appliances in the property provided by the landlord, the landlord must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out. These checks must be carried out by a gas fitter/engineer who is registered on the Gas Safety Register (which has replaced Corgi). A copy must be given to the tenant before the tenant moves in and the check must have been carried out within the 12 months before the new tenant takes up occupation. Checks must be done annually at no more than 12 month intervals and copies of all certificates for checks must be handed over to the tenant.Residential Landlords Association
2 Fire Safety Order
Where a landlord controls flats, bedsits or hostels there must be a risk assessment in place to comply with the Fire Safety Order. It should be in writing. A statutory risk assessment is not required for shared houses or single dwelling lets. Residential Landlords Association
3 Energy Performance Certificates ( EPC’s)
Before a tenant moves in there must be an energy performance certificate in place for most types of property. This must be made available to prospective tenants and a copy of the certificate given to any tenant who moves in to the property. Residential Landlords Association
If you take a deposit from a tenant under an assured shorthold tenant, the deposit must be protected under one of the three tenancy deposit schemes and the prescribed information regarding the deposit must be given to the tenant within 14 days of receiving the deposit. Residential Landlords Association
5 Payments of rent/administration fees
It is very important that advance payments of rent and non returnable administration fees are not confused with deposits. You should always make clear to tenants what money is being taken for; otherwise it could be regarded as a deposit which shall be protected under one of the deposit protection schemes. Residential Landlords Association
6 Licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
If your property is a house in multiple occupation (e.g. bedsits, shared house or a shared flat) then if the property is on three or more floors and has five or more occupants an HMO licence may well be needed from the local authority. Residential Landlords Association
7 Electrical inspections
If your property is a house in multiple occupation of any kind then you must have a five yearly electrical safety check carried out by a competent electrician even if you do not need a licence. This will cover shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits, hostels and certain converted blocks of flats. These are blocks of flats which are not converted in compliance with 1991 (or later) building regulations and less two/thirds of the flats in the block are owner/owned. Residential Landlords Association
8 Electrical Appliances
Where a property is provided with electrical appliances it is the landlord's responsibility to make sure that they are safe at the outset of letting. Residential Landlords Association
9 Fire alarm systems and fire precautions
Where fire alarm systems are provided in a house in multiple occupation because the landlord is responsible for insuring fire alarms are checked regularly. You must also make sure that the means of escape from the property (normally the halls stairs and landings) are unobstructed. Houses in multiple occupation include shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits and certain types of converted flats. See under number 7 above. Residential Landlords Association
10 Illegal eviction/harassment
You must not harass your tenants. It is unlawful to evict a tenant without a Court Order. You cannot throw a tenant out because he is in arrears with his rent or breaking the terms of his tenancy. You must go to Court to get a possession order. Any possession order obtained must be enforced by the Court Bailiff. Residential Landlords Association
Whilst these ten legal musts are crucial, they are by no means all a landlord must consider.
There are over 100 regulations that landlords must adhere to, which is why joining a trade association like the Residential Landlords Association can be so vital.
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