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Calling all businesses - did you know you can access 30 minutes of consultancy from 13 different business sectors as an ISSBA member?

Last year we launched the ISSBA Assist scheme, which allows any ISSBA member to reach out for support to one of our panel of experts.

Whether you need some pointers on a legal matter or have an SEO issue that needs some clarity, our team of specialists are on hand to support you and your business.

ISSBA Assist is an exclusive membership benefit to our members, which means that as soon as you join - even if you are in the process of creating your business - you can access these valuable resources. There is no obligation to go on and purchase services from the ISSBA Assist specialists, so you really have nothing to lose.

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Three years ago Carole Burman set up MAD-HR to bring affordable HR support and advice to businesses of all shapes and sizes in East Anglia and beyond.

Now with the sensational Charlotte Bate by her side, MAD-HR has grown to offer a range of training and coaching – on and offline, as well as the strategic HR planning for business growth and change that Carole has established since day one.

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What’s the first thing people say when they decide to start their own business? Whether they are starting up as a as an electrician, carpenter, hairdresser, independent financial adviser and dare I say it marketing expert, one of the first things they think about is branding – and by branding they mean logo, business cards, website, headed paper etc, etc.

Hold your horses! – or to mix a metaphor, don’t put the cart before the horse! Branding is so much more than just your logo. Branding is about the DNA of your business. It’s about the business culture, not a pretty design.

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You will know when you have a great HR strategy when your HR practices and responsibilities are aligned to the organisation’s goals and mission statement, resulting in growth and achievement of your business plan.
Let’s face it, HR starts as an admin function for the majority of businesses. Most SMEs start with a “muck in” approach and whoever is around at the time will write the vacancy advert….draft the policy…. greet the new recruit. A quick google search is relied on to answer any queries and a “wing it” style is quickly adopted in many areas including HR; whilst many start-ups survive initially with that approach, it can come at a price. Based on a survey conducted by Forbes in 2015, 90% of start-ups fail in first twelve months.

There is no defined point in the life of a business or number of employees, when it becomes time to consider your HR Strategy, however let’s consider one element...Read full article here...

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So, you are running a small business operation, and you do not have an insurmountable number of clients, and therefore you probably don’t need outsourcing, right? Well that’s not entirely true, and there are a few reasons for that.
Regardless of the size of your operation, you should definitely have an outsourcing strategy. In the following article, we will discuss the importance of it and why you should have it in the first place.

Now, let us tackle the topic more thoroughly.

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Hammond delivered what may be considered a fairly lively Autumn Statement, displaying humour and banter with back-benchers, even fitting in a reference to Ed Balls’ (outstanding) Strictly performances; noting how complicated some fiscal announcements are. His performance certainly made it entertaining viewing and perhaps will stand well as his audition for a future reality show himself. But amongst the humour, wry smiles and strategic pauses, there were some significant announcements. Here are the key messages for employers and what you need to know about the Autumn Statement.

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When we think about the importance of branding as a marketing tool, it is all about creating a connection with your customers on an emotional level so that they would not think of using any other company other than your own.
Given that many companies use the phrase “our people are our best asset”, it often leaves HR professionals confused as to why companies don’t want to focus on the importance of their brand as an employer. After all, your employees often have more contact with your clients / customers than you or any of your management team – they are your brand.
How can they convey your brand to customers if they don’t get it themselves? This is why it is so important for you to tell that story, so that they can make a strong connection to your business. They are after all emotionally driven just like your customers.
A strong employer brand can be a powerful business tool that can connect an organisation’s values, people strategy and HR policies to the corporate brand.
In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, attracting and retaining the right kind of talent is central to a company’s ability to grow but building your employer brand is by no means an exact science:
• Get it right, and your company will reap the benefits in terms of recruitment, retention and employee satisfaction levels.
• Get it wrong, and you’ll not only be turning off potential employees, but also current staff and anyone they care to tell about their experience with your organisation.
• Crucially, you could also lose them as customers.
The best place to start...Read More here

 

Strategic HR consultancy can help you to build your reputation as a good employer that recognises effort and achievements and invests in training, so your business can grow and prosper with quality, motivated people.
GET IN TOUCH TODAY AND WE’LL HELP TO GET YOUR BUSINESS FIGHTING FIT. Carole Burman is currently offering free, one hour, face to face consultations here

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Your client is about to expand their business and you’ve been helping them get to where they are today.
You’ve helped form the infrastructure of their company and have developed the financial side of things so that they’re ready to go and to grow.
How do you help them take the next step?

The step that will see them with employees, with premises, and all the vital processes and procedures in place that will help them accelerate growth.
Skills for growing a business

As your client’s business develops, their finance arrangements will become more complex and that’s well within your remit, of course, but they’re going to need more help with marketing, with HR, health and safety, new equipment and IT systems.
The learning curve is steep and they need strong pillars in place to help them succeed. Your role is one of trusted advisor and you want to ensure that they see you them in the direction of people and businesses that you and they can trust to help take them to the next level. This is never and easy thing to do!
Be sure of your recommendations

The people and businesses that you advocate reflect on you, so you need to know that the businesses you recommend to your client are ones that really will deliver. They MUST give them what they need. At MAD-HR we recognise that and we’re practised at helping growing businesses put the right structures in place. Our highly experienced HR professionals know that while every business is unique, the demands they face can be similar. We work with each business to maximise growth in a way that’s sustainable and stable, advising them along the way. We help them to become proactive rather than reactive.
Businesses grow through good reputation and we can help your business AND your client’s business thrive.
To become an Introducer for MAD-HR call Carole Burman today on 01473 360160 for more information.
When you clients sign-up to the Online HR Toolkit through your business, they benefit from 20% off their subscription for the first 12 months.

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We are pleased to welcome Charlotte Bate to our board of Directors. Charlotte joined this month to support the growth of the business, bringing a wealth of experience as an HR Professional, Trainer and Coach across most industries from marketing to manufacturing, construction and engineering.

 

Carole Burman, Managing Director of MAD-HR said: “Charlotte will be a real asset to our Company. We’ve worked together previously and so I know that she has a proven record of helping businesses to develop effective, motivated teams lead by capable and inspiring managers”.

 

“Her work focuses on helping clients’ businesses to thrive rather than survive. Being an employer is a serious undertaking but with Charlotte’s ability to provide clear, concise and commercial advice and support to clients blended with a friendly and positive approach made her a perfect choice to join our team.”

 

Charlotte added: “I am excited to hit the ground running. We have plans to grow our training and development offering as we continue to provide flexible and affordable HR support to businesses in the region. I am really pleased to be working with Carole again. We share the same ethos which is a client-focused approach and I know that we make a great team.”

 

MAD-HR offers commercial HR consultancy to a wide range of businesses of all shapes and sizes across East Anglia as well as offering an Online HR Toolkit for SMEs. Find out more at http://www.mad-hr.co.uk/

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Most managers, at some time in their career, have to deal with a poor performer. It can often be frustrating and a thankless task, unless you have the right tools to help you.

There is an old Chinese proverb which said that “For every hundred men hacking away at the branches of a diseased tree, only one will stoop to inspect the roots.”

Are individual members of your team performing less well than you’d hoped? If so, this proverb can take on great significance. To figure out what’s causing the performance issue, you have to get to the root of the problem.

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A Suffolk based entrepreneur is hoping to revolutionise the way small businesses order office essentials after launching a new platform designed to help companies make significant savings when it comes to purchasing printed materials.

Peter Brady founded Ipswich-based graphic design and print specialist Mutual Media in 2004. After securing a contract with DPG, a national Training Company, Peter and his team invested in developing a new e-procurement system which allowed print and training material orders to be placed online and distributed directly to each of the company’s training venues throughout the UK.

Mutual Media currently produces nearly half a million wage slips for Baker Tilly, a national accountancy practice, each year through this system. The new system allows purchasing managers to monitor and replenish stock at the click of a button and Peter recognised the system could also offer significant benefits to small and medium sized businesses.

The new system can be accessed from Mutual Media’s website: Once a company has registered, any printed materials including letterheads, business cards and even marketing brochures can be re-ordered at the click of the button. All prices are guaranteed for a minimum period of twelve months, helping businesses to manage budgets effectively, and avoid the need to find space to hold large quantities of printed materials – something Peter believes will benefit many small businesses.

Peter Brady, Founder of Mutual Media, said:

“When most businesses look to purchasing stationery, price is one of the most important considerations. It’s worth remembering that badly produced letterheads and business cards can seriously damage the credibility of your brand.

“We recognised our e-procurement system wasn’t just something which could benefit our existing clients, but one which could help many businesses throughout East Anglia and the UK. By signing up to the free system, business owners can monitor usage, track orders and replenish stock quickly and easily.

“Over the past decade Mutual Media has helped hundreds of businesses throughout the UK to make cost savings when it comes to managing print orders and after securing the contract with DPG, we decided to invest in a bespoke procurement system which could simplify the process of creating repeat orders. The service has proved to be extremely successful, helping businesses to make both cost and time savings.

“Anyone who has ordered printed materials understands that there can be significant savings by purchasing large quantities, but this can create storage problems and even wastage. The system means that businesses of all sizes can benefit from our purchasing power and order what’s likely to be used in any given period."

The system is aimed at small businesses in the Suffolk and East Anglia areas. New and existing customers can register to use the service free of charge by calling Mutual Media on 01473 659563

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Having the right mindset is absolutely essential if you are to be successful in anything and business is no exception. If everything is a bit rusty and the cogs in your brain are dry, you are not going to achieve the success you desire.

At the core of every truly successful business person is the absolute belief that they will succeed. They know this because they have a strong, focused, driven, positive mindset with a vivid picture of the outcome they want.

So here's the secret to success - be crystal clear about what you want, have a laser-beam focus on it and be prepared to pay the costs of achieving it. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Of course in the real world its all a bit more difficult.

Knowing what you want isn't always easy to articulate. Do you know what you want? If you think you do know, is it what you really want or is it a false dream that will ultimately  disappoint you when you achieve it?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Why do you want to be successful?
  2. What does success look like to you?
  3. Can your personal life cope with the demands of your ambitions?
  4. How will you know when you have achieved success?

Once you have answered these questions honestly and perhaps discussed them with the other people that are important to you in your life, you will be ready to take the next step.

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On 22nd July 2015 HMRC issued a consultation document on this subject stating that by their estimation in 2012/2013, some £5.9bn tax was lost to the economy by businesses or individuals failing to declare a source of income.

The basic idea is to collect data from third parties who facilitate trade either between businesses or business to consumers and largely through those providing the online facilities through which these transactions take place.  This will affect those selling through ebay, amazon, etsy, airbnb and paypal including apps sold through Apple’s App store and the Google Play Store.

Let’s look at it simply, banks are already obliged to provide HMRC with details of interest paid to individuals and businesses and when tax returns are submitted HMRC can run a simple cross check with returns and throw out any mismatches for further potential checks.

If we apply the same principal to the number of, or value of, transactions flowing through the websites listed above then HMRC will have the data they need to check if tax is being paid where it should be.  Current legislative powers allows HMRC to demand details of Income, Transactions and Assets as well as name and address information and this will be extended to Electronic payment providers and business intermediaries.

So!

Advertising boards and Platforms – linking a supplier with potential customers.

App Stores – a platform for applications for devices such as smartphones or tablets.

Booking and Reservation Intermediaries – reservation of goods or services and perhaps taking deposits.

All are likely to be affected.

It won’t just be sellers of good that will be affected but rental income and commissions to which this new approach will apply.

If you are a trader selling goods or services through a website, and remember my list is not exclusive, or you have a property which you let through an internet intermediary and don’t include the income you generate in your accounts or on your tax return for the relevant year you might receive a letter from HMRC enquiring into your tax return. That initial letter might look relatively innocuous at first but could broaden out into a full blown investigation with the risk of significant penalties if you are found to have concealed undisclosed income.

Who will the Revenue go for at first? They might go for the ‘big boys’, those with significant volumes of transactions or value of transactions, or they might test the water, and their systems, with smaller operators. However, what is clear is that with increasing amounts of business being transacted through the internet, HMRC will look to this as an increasing sources of funds and, no doubt, they will have the technology as well as the legislation to do this.

HMRC calculate that an attack on this basis will yield £860 million over the next 5 years.  This isn’t significant even when you look at 2020/2021, where they anticipate raising £285 million, when compared to the £5.9 billion lost through the black economy, but it will have an effect on non compliant Small or Medium Sized  Businesses or Sole Traders who don’t declare their full income and may encourage more of these to comply with tax legislation..

With an increasing use of the internet for shopping the government see an increasing ability for the evader to operate and I think we can see greater emphasis being placed on clamping down on ‘rogue’ traders. This is likely to be only the thin edge of the wedge.

If there is anything in this article you wish to discuss further please contact your nearest office or alternatively email Philip directly at: philip.hunt@astonshaw.co.uk

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If there’s one thing we know about us Brits, it’s that we love our property. With the issue nothing short of a national obsession, it’s no surprise that Estate Agents large and small have invested heavily in all things digital to keep pace with changing consumer behaviour. Digital has well and truly disrupted the way we buy, sell and rent homes.

We’re not just flocking to our laptop or PC to browse for homes, though – today’s house-hunter is more mobile than ever before. In fact, research by property company Rightmove earlier this year revealed that smartphones and tablets account for an impressive 40% of page views, and drive up site traffic by 27%.

With property-seekers going mobile (a trend that, no doubt, will continue to skyrocket), what’s next for Estate Agents? We think that Augmented Reality (AR) is set to have a real impact on the property market, enabling companies to gain a unique competitive advantage in an increasingly heated market – and all while providing a valuable experience for the end-user. In fact this shift is already well under way with the more enlightened and innovative businesses in the sector.

As anyone who has gone through the process of buying a property will know, access to information is everything. With the move to mobile, having the right information at your finger tips at the right time is a real value-add for the consumer. It’s perhaps why QR codes were so keenly adopted within the sector as a short cut to an agent’s website and property details in the past. Unfortunately the act of scanning QR codes and poorly optimised webpages for mobile meant that the user experience was far from perfect. (A case of right idea wrong execution).

With AR technology it's now a different story. With easy-to-scan codes and tailor-made experiences that deliver the content you need  instantly: be that floor plans, additional photos of the property, video tour, street map, the agent’s contact details saved direct to your device or open days as calendar reminder.

As an Agent it means that all your marketing becomes a multimedia portal transforming print materials into an interactive wonderland, helping your window displays, for sale boards and business cards all work harder for you delivering greater engagement and dwell time. And all at the most affordable price on the market.

Estate Agents like Spicerhaart and Felicity J Lord have brought Augmented Reality to their signage and magazines, giving readers access to details like floor plans, complete and up-to-date specifications and the opportunity to connect with agents directly.

Regional newspaper advertising remains a really important avenue for estate agents to secure instructions, but now with the ability to join together print with Augmented Reality embedded into the newspaper advertising , agents can open up a truly interactive experience for potential buyers.

The property market is one that has already seen extraordinary disruption with the likes of Zoopla and Right Move changing the dynamics of search and advertising forever. Augmented reality offers another digital utility mobilising the physical world of Estate Agents marketing mix to benefit end users. With the benefits the Augmented Reality solution brings to the market we’re delighted to be pioneering this exciting new opportunity for local independent Estate Agents.

 

BeeAppy Limited is an Ipswich based ‘Out of Home’ advertising business. We offer a content management service based on the Zappar Augmented Reality platform.

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Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills v Knight UKEAT/0073/13

 

The Employment Appeals Tribunal considered whether a majority shareholder who had not received pay for two years could be an employee.

 

In this case, the issue was whether the Managing Director and Sole Shareholder was entitled to Statutory Redundancy Pay from the Insolvency Service under section 166 of ERA 1996, even though she had not received pay for a period of two years.

It is established in the case of Ready-Mixed Concrete [1968] 2 QB 497 that “there must be a wage or other remuneration” for there to be a contract of any kind.

 

In the case of Knight the Secretary of State argued that whilst there was a written contract of employment in existence, the terms did not reflect the reality of the situation, and when Ms Knight forfeited her right to collect a salary she varied the terms of her contract, and in doing so ended her employment status.

 

In dismissing the Secretary of State’s appeal the EAT found that Ms Knight would probably have taken a salary if the company was suddenly in a position to pay her, and as such there could not have been an agreement whereby her salary was no longer payable. Therefore, the entitlement to pay had not been varied even though this entitlement was not exercised.

This case does not change the law but it does stretch the factual matrix in which a “contract of employment” can be found, particularly when looking at the economic reality of the relationship.

 

This case could encourage “workers” to claim “employee” rights, or for contracting parties to claim benefits that might otherwise have been waived many years earlier by virtue of the parties’ course of conduct with one another.

If you have any questions concerning this article or any other employment matter please call Tom Clements, Solicitor on 01473 244 333, email tom.clements@unitesolicitors.co.uk or visit our website at unitesolicitors.co.uk

 

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Even hard pressed small business owners need holidays.  If you are booked to go to Greece or one of its islands you really ought be wondering whether you will get back in time to sign off an important order or make that vital payment.  For many business services (telecoms/cloud) there are no periods of grace.  They simply cut you off!  So potentially, no transport AND no communications. Not to mention societal disruption. 

Of course, the same questions apply to your staff.  Do you know where they are going?  How tight is your holiday schedule.  Is there enough slack to cope with someone who can't get back?  Is their role vital to 'keeping the show on the road'?

Similarly, you could check if any of your supply chain has a greek connection.  Greece is mainly a service economy but it does have a very large merchant fleet.

 

The obvious answer is to plan ahead and here is the result of some quick brainstorming:

1. If possible, bring forward the important stuff or postpone with a sufficient buffer.

2. Check out the Foreign Office Web site for special advice (not much on there at present - despite reports to the contrary) - which you and your staff should always do if going off the beaten track.  The same for your travel agent.  It is generally suggested that extra cash is carried - but be security conscious.

3. Make sure that people back home can authorise things with creditors and banks.  It isn't alot of good if your significant other in your business is also your significant other in your personal life. Unless you have separate holidays!

4. Check your supply chain - not just your supplier but who supplies them and so on.

5.  Have a great holiday! 

 

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When was the last time you took some time to truly step back from the day to day running of your business and considered how the world around you has changed? The problem is that we are all so engrossed in what we are doing that we simply don’t have the time for such luxuries.

I don’t believe this sort of exercise is a luxury. I believe it’s an absolutely essential activity for any responsible business owner. The consequences of not doing so can be catastrophic as many very well known High Street names can attest.

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