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Latest news

Is your business a going concern?

I guess that first of all we should be talking about what a going concern is before I spring the bad news on all you company directors and business owners. First of all the document is here. It was issued by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in the UK addressed to all UK Company Directors and I bet you knew nothing about it! Do you even know about going concern and what that is? Don’t worry, help is at hand. I’ll summarise what the FRC is saying – jargon free of course – but after that it’s going to need to be a joint effort.

Told you so

People say that the people got what they voted for but there wasn’t actually a box that was a “hung” option. Regardless of political preferences we are about to have an interesting few years and a more interesting few months. Like I trailed in my blog post “Public expenditure is not the issue”, tax is the issue and based on the last few days policy activities, it is becoming very clear that VAT and CGT (Capital Gains Tax) are going to rise. No one admitted before the election that VAT was on their agenda – clearly it was, and it seems to me quite clear that the strangely low CGT rate of 18% – while attractive – couldn’t be sustained. The abolition of taper relief for everyone as a trade off for the low flat rate of CGT seemed like a double edged sword at the time – lose discount for holding assets but get a better rate. For example to get from a 40% CGT rate to 24% you would need to have held a non-business asset for about 10 years and you still wouldn’t have reached 18%. Now Taper Relief has been abolished though, it looks like we are about to see the rate rise again to 40% or even 50% so without the return of any discount for length of ownership. No news yet about Entrepreneur’s Relief which has some special rules but it’s quite likely that the 4/9 discount may remain (giving an effective CGT rate of 22.2%) in preference to a discount of 75% (keeping the rate at the current 10%).

Website Usability

As those of you who have been following the adventures of NGM’s website construction, you may know that I am at the stage of usability testing – a stage that I hadn’t really planned for.So that’s the first lesson. Plan for it – no one ever seems to, not even Royal Bank of Scotland! I had my two Maestro cards reissued recently – the usual problems, signature strip worn out. And while few people ever check the signature nowadays, you get the odd one. So I had to get them replaced and in came two shiny new Visa debit cards. I had signed up for Mobile Money with RBS for my Iphone recently and for a few days I had been getting texts from RBS reminding me to log on to their website to register my new cards. Today, I decided I would do it and stop the annoying texts. So I followed the instructions on the text and after some special codes sent to my phone to be entered on the website, came to a dead end – there was nothing to enter, update or click. After doing it again and ending up in EXACTLY the same place, I decided to phone for help. I spoke to someone (I’ll call him Michael, though I think his name was Lee) who took me through the SAME process again. After I explained this he said, “Oh I didn’t realise you were already registered – he didn’t ask – all you need to do is open the app on your phone and…… And it was obvious except their texts didn’t tell you that, their website didn’t tell you that and I wasted time on something which with some simple explanation up front could have been achieved in a minute or two.

Furnished Holiday Lets – Update

Due to the current general election in the UK, the legislation to change the furnished holiday lets rules has been abandoned. This may be resurrected following 7th May but depending on which party gets in, implementation may be different and the scope may be vastly different. Watch this space for up to date info.

Why Public Expenditure isn’t the issue

David Cameron has certainly upset Gordon recently, hasn’t he? Everyone had bought into the need to preserve health spending etc and were resigned to paying the extra National Insurance next year, mainly because they had no voice to be able to do anything about it – that was the real reason we were all resigned to it. Gordon’s answers to any questions or criticism of his sound policy are always going to rely on the fear factor – protect public services, where will the extra cuts come from to pay for not doing the National Insurance increases? Public Expenditure isn’t the issue with the planned National Insurance increases.

Marketing for small businesses

I received an interesting item of post today.First of all it was in a hand written envelope. For me usually that means a cheque, and as I always like to receive cheques, it was among the first to be opened. To my disappointment, I found a photocopied extract from a magazine and a post it – you can see it here:Marketing documentI puzzled for some time over this. Who is J?In colour, the post-it looks handwritten and I still can’t distinguish if it is or isn’t. On closer inspection, the article starts reading like information but by the end is clearly an advertorial. My Google search couldn’t find a publication called Business Marketing – though that is down to my search techniques I’ll bet. And, I note that the article is incomplete, leaving me wondering what they offer that no other firm can offer…I went back to take a look at the envelope – that was what had intrigued me first of all. The stamps were not carefully applied in a straight line, the envelope definitely hand written. I looked at the postmark: Manchester. I don’t know anyone in Manchester.And then it all fell into place:What amazing marketing – make it look like someone – a client possibly – has been reading stuff, found this article and thought, I’ll post that off to John. Handwrite the envelope and stamp it – don’t frank it – I know that from my BNI days (handwritten envelopes are always treated with priority and especially if they are stamped with real stamps).It was a very clever marketing campaign which had me wondering (but not on the point of phoning though!)Question is, can you make it work for your business? At least it saves me phoning to find out what the Academyforgrowth.co.uk secrets are now!!JohnF

I puzzled for some time over this. Who is J?In colour, the post-it looks handwritten and I still can’t distinguish if it is or isn’t. On closer inspection, the article starts reading like information but by the end is clearly an advertorial. My Google search couldn’t find a publication called Business Marketing – though that is down to my search techniques I’ll bet. And, I note that the article is incomplete, leaving me wondering what they offer that no other firm can offer…I went back to take a look at the envelope – that was what had intrigued me first of all. The stamps were not carefully applied in a straight line, the envelope definitely hand written. I looked at the postmark: Manchester. I don’t know anyone in Manchester.And then it all fell into place:What amazing marketing – make it look like someone – a client possibly – has been reading stuff, found this article and thought, I’ll post that off to John. Handwrite the envelope and stamp it – don’t frank it – I know that from my BNI days (handwritten envelopes are always treated with priority and especially if they are stamped with real stamps).It was a very clever marketing campaign which had me wondering (but not on the point of phoning though!)Question is, can you make it work for your business? At least it saves me phoning to find out what the Academyforgrowth.co.uk secrets are now!!JohnF

2010 Sage Pulse Survey

Sage recently carried out a survey of more than 300 SME decision makers and have published the results of the survey. They asked accountants some questions too and this blogpost is a summary of the most interesting of the findings - without the beautiful graphs and charts. 1. Accountants are the most trusted source of business advice (38% said this). Almost 20% more people gave this response than last time. Interestingly the next nearest was management consultants (9%), then banks (4%) and finally solicitors at a meagre 2%.

Edinburgh Council Tax Office

I got this email recently from the revenues & benefits office in response to a request for a council tax refund: “Thank you for your email. We will try to answer your enquiry within 10 working days of receiving your email. However, at times when we are experiencing high volumes of correspondence we may not be able to meet this standard.”

Budget 2010

The budget - the last for Alistair Darling - has now been announced for 24th March. Don’t expect this to be a radical policy driven budget. I suspect this will be a moderate post recession budget with an eye to the 6th May General Election. What you need to consider are what happens AFTER the election.

The R word - Part 1

I am not an economist, so I don ‘t rank with those who support or don’t support the various macro views of the UK economy right now. What I propose to do in this simple article is let you know how I see where we’ve reached, based on the signs that I am seeing and the feedback I get from clients and customers. Without, in the best Andrew Rawnsley tradition, revealing my sources. So firstly, where have we got to.