Make the best of your Website carousel.
Most people like to see images on a slider on a website, they are a fairly well established design element. However, there are some dos and don’ts to bear in mind:-
Get the auto rotate right:
1. Don’t make them whizz by too fast, give the user a chance to linger on the nice images, maybe even read a heading.
2. Prioritise the order of your slides, the first will always be most important, the fourth may not get seen by a lot of users.
3. Pause on mouse hover, give the user the chance to click on any links and disable autorotate on mobile.
4. If the user clicks on the play controls, stop the auto rotate - they may just be trying to look at something.
5. Add swipe as well as arrows to control the slider on mobile, users like that on touch screens.
There are more things you can do too - check out the full list on our website. http://ilateralweb.co.uk/web-design-news/you-spin-me-right-round-a-guide-to-carousels-on-home-pages/
What price loyalty or a guarantee
Skype suffers worldwide outage for a full day, users of the free app threaten to leave in droves! What price loyalty eh?
Just because something is free, it should still work and nothing is more frustrating than a free and useful product suddenly becoming unavailable. People become resentful and bitter toward the products owners.
Apparently, the business version was unaffected which leads one to imagine that their view is that the free product didn't matter? Cynical yes and probably incorrect but that's the world view.
We recently had to compare product availability for a business continuity plan for a telephone system.
The very best quoted service level agreement on the market is from a leading British Telecom provider. However, their claim of 99.9% availability is only guaranteed if you use their equipment and their broadband! Strangely, our humble Module IT VOIP is currently at 99.975% and we will use any broadband and equipment. To put this in perspective, 99.9% equals about a working day per annum. 99.975% is about 2 hours.
What does this really mean to my business?
Well, you should be cynical about sales claims and work out what the real impact might be but then look at the cost difference between the systems. The one guaranteeing 99.9% costs over 100 times more than the one currently performing better but of course we cannot guarantee that! ;)
What are the chances?!
1) You've just bought a new house and the 70's avocado bathroom suite has to go.
2) After some bad weather, the fence between your neighbours has broken and their little doggy is leaving some presents on your lawn.
3) Your little darling has given your beautiful lounge walls a little update.
What do you do?
You might look in the local paper, grab a business directory out of the drawer, Google local services, jump onto social media and search for a local business, ask on social media if anyone knows anyone, or ring friends and family for suggestions.
So...... now, you are that local business they need, using the options above, how can they find your number and not your competitors? Everyone works differently, some use only one of these methods, some a mixture, some all - how many can you be found by?
If it's only 1 of them, you have a 1 in 6 chance they will use the option that finds you, but wait.......there's many other people who also do what you do and they also market themselves in the same place. What's the chance that you will get the call? Probably one in maybe even hundreds at times.
Have a think about your business and whether you are in enough places. Brand awareness is a massive part of your business plan and must not be overlooked.
If you'd like more information on brand awareness and how to expose your business, contact Jo of Forest Traders for more details.
Business planning and networking helps
I have been bad. Business networking is most effective when you attend regularly and take the small steps that build relationships and understanding of potential clients, either those in the room or those they can refer.
I keep missing CAP as I’m too busy working in my business. This is much like the approach most owner-managers take to business planning.
Lots of owners get stuck in talking about sometime doing some business planning. But the time never arrives. Yet talk is the first building block of any business plan. Talk about your business objectively and candidly with someone. What is good? What is bad? What would better look like?
The choice of the person is key. Close family is unlikely to be completely objective. But if they are all that is available, proceed carefully. The tale of the successful builder of two £1M+ businesses struggling with his own business, being asked by his wife when was he going to get a proper job, is true.
Assets and Liabilities
Review everything and everyone involved with your business. Ask what and who are assets taking your business forward. Conversely what are the liabilities holding you back.
Often entrepreneurs find that something can be an asset as well as a liability. The contract with Fred provides regular monthly income (steady cashflow) but takes up so much time as he likes to talk (query profitability).
Then ask which liabilities should I ditch and how can I use my assets more. Or alternatively what changes or training needs to be done to get more asset and less liability.
In business planning terms these are the many different ways the business could go. Shell has a department which plans every conceivable scenario for its operations around the world, so that it can react quickly and appropriately. Smaller companies have at least 5 opportunities:
· Stay as you are- getting the same business the same way, changing nothing
· Grow slowly- getting more of the business you want, but not risking much.
· Grow rapidly- focusing solely on what will get you the business you want now.
· Decline slowly- almost stay as you are; keep working in the business not on it
· Collapse- end the business as it is going nowhere (positive) or become over-reliant on a small customer base which lets you down (negative).
Consider what are the real opportunities for you? Is it a new market/ product/approach/people/client?
Assets, Liabilities and Opportunities all need objective analysis. Vision is all about what you are trying to achieve as a business. If this business is successful what will it be doing and for whom? Who are your ideal customers and why and how does your business fit their needs? Why are you different?
It is a good business habit to be able to articulate your vision in a short sentence or two. This allows you to decide whether the asset/liability/opportunity fits that vision and have a prepared networking 30 seconds.
A business plan is not the carefully crafted hefty document gathering dust on the shelf. Business planning is the creation of larger strategies which are broken down into small steps. A step needs to be done today so that the next can be taken tomorrow. Along the way there are intermediate goals. Win 5 new clients for the new product range by Jan 1st comes back to firstly designing the range by 1st October and secondly devising and executing the marketing and sales plan so there are at least 5 qualified leads on 31st November.
Business Schools give acronyms to processes to aid the memory. I call this the TA LOVE model to remind me that I need objective feedback from other people to plan my business effectively. Much like I might find at a business network like CAP!
Andrew Callard and Aimed Business helps owners and senior managers achieve their goals through providing advice and insight to enable their business to grow and to devising and executing cost effective marketing strategies. He can be found (sometimes) at CAP or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m in business because….. Everyone in business has a why. Every successful business person is able to explain why they are in business and what they want to achieve to fulfil that why.
So take time today and think about your why. The immediate wrong answers are:
· I’m in business for the money.
· I’m in a job.
· I haven’t got time to answer this as I’m far too busy!
Recent research into characteristics of successful entrepreneurs show that most have higher missions (eg saving the world….) or really love what they do and inspire others. It’s not about money; it is about taking responsibility and it is about focusing their time on what really matters.
Why have a Why? Rarely are people in business for the money alone. Do you need money so you can retire in 5 years’ time to the holiday mansion in Spain and/or with the Ferrari outside. Or just enough to not work for 20 years. Or to put your children through university/college.
The old photo of the family on the desk has now moved to the computer, but for many it is there as a reminder of their why; not because they’ve forgotten what their family looks like. Or it’s the family having fun in the sun, which is the motivation. Or the image of a boat or car.
If you are able to know what your why is, you can create an image of that success to motivate when times get tough or celebrate another success achieved on the road to that why. A visual image of the why is a powerful means of focusing yourself on your goals and a reminder to keep you on track.
And it can also stop you doing something stupid. The old joke is why do bank robbers rob banks? Answer because that’s where the money is. So if you’re in business solely for the money why aren’t you robbing banks as that’s where most of it is?
So why are you in business then….?
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
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! ;)
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.
TAX FREE EXTRA INCOME
By signing up to the ‘rent a room’ scheme, not only could you enjoy the extra income from the rent, but also up to £4,250 a year is free from tax. ‘Rent a room’ relief is an optional scheme that lets you receive up to this amount in rent each year from a lodger, tax-free. !is only applies if you rent out furnished accommodation in your own home.
LANDLORD’S ENERGY SAVING ALLOWANCE
You can claim ‘landlord’s energy saving allowance’ for the cost of buying and installing certain energy-saving products for properties you rent. You can also claim a special tax allowance of up to £1,500 for insulation, draught proofing and installing a hot water system.
COSTS YOU CAN OFFSET AGAINST TAX
If you rent out property, don’t forget you can deduct certain costs before declaring your taxable income. !e costs you can offset against tax are numerous, including mortgage interest; lettings agents’ and accountants’ fees; insurance; utility bills; council tax; cleaning; and maintenance and repairs (but not improvements – building an extension will enhance the value of your property, but you can’t claim it as a daily expense in the running of that property).
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