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Category: Business

Hiring an Accountant Even for your Small Business is Important

Hiring an Accountant Even for your Small Business is Important

Being a small business owner can oftentimes mean that you have to do all the work by yourself.  It is the ultimate goal of every person that engages in a business to succeed in the field. As much as possible you want to personally oversee all the aspects of your business up to the last detail especially when it comes to finances. It is vital for every entrepreneur to know if the business is profitable or not so as to improve marketing schemes to increase sales but this could mean additional costs and effort on your part as well. This is why it is essential that even as a small or startup business, you seek help or delegate other areas especially those that concern accounting and finance, so you can focus on your strengths and thus, increase the chance of your small business to eventually be one of the biggest in the industry.

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Online Estate Agencies 101: What You Can Really Expect from the Service

Online Estate Agencies 101: What You Can Really Expect from the Service

Nowadays, you have two major options when it comes to selling your home or property: you can either go with a traditional estate agent, or you can go the more modern route and opt for an online estate agent. Whilst traditional estate agents may have their merits, online estate agents are quickly taking centre-stage for a variety of reasons. One obvious reason is the price. Another is the network they have available (it’s a nationwide – even international – network). So, what else should you know about online estate agencies? Here’s what you can really expect from the service.

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What you Need to Build a Successful Logistics Business

What you Need to Build a Successful Logistics Business

The world of logistics can open several business avenues, from the international transport of goods, to local deliveries and more, this can turn out to be quite a lucrative sector. Like with any business venture though, this needs to be done right from the start to ensure success.

With this in mind, here is what you need to have to start up your own logistics business:

A Plan

Before you start investing any of your money, you need to first create your business plan which outlines several key aspects. These might include:

  • What area of logistics you intend to work in?
  • Where you want to operate and what goods you wish to move
  • The size and scale of your business and your objectives for the coming years
  • What your business’ core values and beliefs are

If you need assistance creating this, you can find some useful templates on this UK Government page.

Additional Funding

Logistics can be quite an expensive industry – especially if you’re planning on working abroad. This means you should have plenty of capital behind your business to begin with, if you don’t you should look at acquiring a business loan, or seeking additional funding.

The Right Licences

Depending on what goods you intend to move, you might need to have certain licences. There are also import and export regulations to be aware of when shipping overseas, so you need to research these first before you agree to start transporting.

The Right Image

Your company brand is another big factor to consider as this will be something plastered all over your vehicles, company premises and even packaging. This needs to be eye-catching and something that makes an impression on customers, TNT Direct branding is a good example of this, with bold colours that really stand out.

Storage Facilities

On the subject of company premises, you will need to have a storage area that meets your requirements and which gives you space to grow and develop. The best bet here will be to lease something in the short-term and purchase a bigger space when your business is doing well.

Reliable Vehicles and Equipment

Finally, you also need all the vehicles and equipment for moving goods. Again, this is an area where you should look to cut costs initially and source second hand alternatives, then when you’re little more successful, purchase newer, more efficient models.

The logistics markets can be a competitive place, but with the above sorted and a little hard work you’ll be on the road to success with your logistics.

POS Solutions for Small Businesses

POS Solutions for Small Businesses

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If you are a retailer or service provider, and you take over the counter payments, you will be aware that customers like to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Nobody likes to stand around for longer than is necessary, so getting things done fast is encourages consumers to use your services. For example, if you don’t have a modern, up to date Point of Sale system, you may be losing business. These surprisingly affordable and very capable machines allow you to process transactions quickly and efficiently, and they can help bring your business into the 21st century.

Furthermore, do you take card payments? Many small businesses don’t, largely on the mistaken grounds that it will cost a lot of money, but in fact it is costing you money not to take card payments! This is because people appreciate the convenience of paying by card – it’s quicker for both you and the consumer – especially in these days of swipe cards that don’t even need a PIN. Also, people tend to spend more when paying by card – nobody is sure why but it appears to be true – so you are missing out on potential further turnover.

Modern POS Systems

For the very latest POS systems for small business use check out the range on offer from Merchant Account Solutions, a leading name in the field with many satisfied clients and a reputation for excellent service. They can provide you with fully integrated up to date systems that will enable you to service your clients quickly and effectively, and at a sensible and affordable rate. Indeed, we believe their prices to be the best in the business, so you should take a look now for more information.

You should ensure that your new POS system includes a credit card machine, so you can begin to take card payments immediately. This will also be at an affordable rate, and they have many different models to choose from, and will be happy to advise you on the very best solution for your business requirements, at the best prices in the business. You cannot afford not come on stream, so have a look now and you’ll be impressed.

Online eCommerce Solutions

If you are dealing largely in eCommerce, you will need the latest solutions to enable you to operate efficiently, and at www.merchantaccountsolutions.com you can fine everything from POS solutions to a range of accounting and invoicing software, all specifically designed for use by smaller businesses. You will find they offer an integrated system that will vastly improve your cost-effectiveness, and allow you to ensure all your transactions are processed quickly and correctly.

The 21st century lays many demands on smaller businesses, and being on the ball when it comes to POS solutions is one way of staying ahead of the pack. Merchant Account Solutions are there to help you get the very best out of the latest technology, so have a chat with them now and see how they can bring your business into the modern world.

Cost Benefits of Using Same Day Delivery Services for Your Business

Cost Benefits of Using Same Day Delivery Services for Your Business

Same day delivery is quickly becoming the norm, with a greater number of companies offering delivery within a one-day window. In today’s technology-ruled instant-access world, customers and are no longer content with the discounts, good customer service or quality products. Instead your customers want to be able to purchase and receive an order within the same day, meaning building a relationship with a reliable and reputable delivery service is paramount.

That being said, what are the benefits of utilising same day delivery for your business?

Increase Customer Satisfaction

Happy customers and clients are at the core of every successful business, so any opportunity to increase customer satisfaction should be considered. This is particularly true when it comes to same day delivery, as these services make customers feel appreciated, who will in turn spread good word of mouth about your company. In addition, an express delivery service also promotes your business as being professional and reliable.

Reduce Delivery Costs

Typically, many businesses buy or hire their own vans to ship goods, along with recruiting delivery drivers and paying for vehicle repairs. While this can be cost effective if deliveries are local, costs can soon mount when travelling further afield. Instead, it can be beneficial to hire a third-party delivery comparison company (like Parcels Please), as they can often quote prices that your business would find impossible to match, particularly for same day services.

Boost Business Productivity

Unlike standard delivery options, offering a same day delivery service means that there is no leeway when it comes to completing customer orders. This means that staff can no longer put off fulfilling an order until tomorrow as they must be processed and sent out on the same day. This requirement tends to increase the productivity of employees, although companies could also consider using additional bonus and incentive schemes.

Creates Competitive Advantage

Whether competing in local, national or global markets, your business needs an edge to help it stand out and increase customer numbers. While your company could consider reducing prices or increasing the quality of products, offering same day delivery services can provide something of a unique selling point. Giving customers the option of expedited delivery not only increases customer satisfaction, but also creates a competitive advantage.

In conclusion, same day delivery services carry several benefits, including: increasing customer satisfaction, reducing business costs, boosting the productivity of employees and providing a competitive advantage.

Property Investment is Still Good Business: Here’s How to Get Started

Property Investment is Still Good Business: Here’s How to Get Started

The Chancellor has swung his axe, and many landlords within the UK are rethinking their decisions to invest in the buy-to-let business. Impacting the property market are several factors, including mortgage rates, tax, and stamp duty. When the Government decided to review them, panic set in amongst property investors.

To set the scene, investors usually get their money (mortgage) from a bank or some financial lenders to acquire a property. As was previously in place, the Government operated a mortgage interest relief system, which allowed landlords of residential properties to reduce the cost of financing their newly acquired property, but changes to tax relief for residential landlords will see that the cost for finance is restricted to the basic rate of income Tax. And on top of that, the newly introduced Stamp Duty Land Tax means that landlords will now, from 1 April, 2016, pay an additional 3% on any new property acquired.

However, many experts believe that property investment business is still good business in 2016. In fact, The Week reports, “The property portal Rightmove has revealed that enquiries on its website from would-be investors rose by 30 per cent between June and September. It says that the number of new properties being offered for rent rose six per cent nationally and 15 per cent in London during this period.”

With the panic in the sector ebbing gradually, investors could yet gain, but they must learn the tips to investing wisely. Here are five of them.

  1. Research is the Key

Conducting a full survey of lending rates, tax rates, and capital gains is the first step. You wouldn’t want to buy a property and then discover that your mortgage is due, when the property has not started yielding gains.  A survey is necessary since rates are not always stable. Since mortgage rate is crucial to the survival of property investment, you would do well to look at the rates of several lenders before making a final choice.

  1. Add Value to Your Property

By offering things that tenants are really looking for in a property, you could attract the best tenants who are willing to pay a premium for your property. There are plenty of guides about exactly how to improve your property online.

  1. Choose Your Target Location Wisely

Manchester-based property investor Robert Jones calls the kick to the property investment sector an opportunity. Rather than buying a property in a place where you want to live, you should consider buying one in a place where tenants are willing to move to. Ultimately, this means researching your prospective tenants’ demographics such as family size, income level, and age groups.

  1. Investing Professionally

Seeking financial and tax advice from professional property experts is invaluable before making your investment decisions.

  1. Simon Lambert from Thisismoney.co.uk advises that you go for rental yield. “To compare different property’s values use their yield: that is annual rent received as a percentage of the purchase price.” Say your property’s rent is £5,000 and the cost £145,000, your rental yield would be 3.5%. This method lets you know exactly how much you should gain over a long term basis.

Finally, before you invest in a property, ask anyone you know who has been there and done that. All of these tips will definitely save you from trouble when the grim days come again.

Millennial? You Should Be Thinking About These Financial Investments Now

Millennial? You Should Be Thinking About These Financial Investments Now

Saving isn’t always attractive or accessible for young people because of the competitive job market and huge debts loans to be offset by graduates. But with good counsel from a trusted advisor and the prospects of investing early, a young person will find that securing their future happiness and comfort starts now.

Here are tips to guide you for your first investment steps.

Find a Trusted Financial Advisor and Start Investing Now

If there was one thing the global recession ever taught millennials, it is that they can no longer put off savings and that they should form a habit of investing for the future early.

But if it is your first time of dipping your toe in the world of savings and investments, it can be overwhelming deciding which choice to make from mutual funds to stocks and bonds or how to appropriately diversify your portfolio.

The natural temptation is to seek advice from your parents, friends, colleagues or older relatives, but their judgments may – unknowingly to both them and you – be clouded. Find a financial advisor you can trust and who can give you professional and unbiased counsel that fits best for your demographic and specific needs. The goal should be to secure your future, while insuring your financial health for today. For example, the investment strategy or priorities your trusted advisor will outline for your demographic will be different from the advice the give to an older, more established person.

Get Out of a Job that Leads to Nowhere

Does your job match your life or investment goals? Or do you feel trapped in a cul-de-sac that drains your time, energy and creative juices and leaves you high and dry every week without commensurate compensation, bonuses or raises? Then stop wasting your time, get out of the ditch and shop the market now for a better option that allows you to invest in your future.

Match any Income Raise with a Raise in Your Savings

If you do get a raise or bonus, don’t splurge on new luxuries or turn up the volume on your lifestyle. Rather, it is the perfect opportunity to better secure your future with an increase in your retirement savings, find out about funeral plan costs to prepare for unseen events or add contributions to your investment portfolios.

Invest in Yourself

Take advantage of the stacks of useful resources and information available on the web and elsewhere and improve your knowledge to get ahead in the ever competitive market. You can learn new skills that will allow you to start a new business or add new streams of income to boost your financial muscles.

Avoid the Credit Card Temptation

When you graduate from the university, you’ll often be inundated with credit card offers. But it’s better to skip them, especially if you still have students loan to pay off. Otherwise you will get trapped in a dizzying cycle that holds you back from your financial goals.

Alternative Funding Options for Your Business Venture

Alternative Funding Options for Your Business Venture

You probably guessed it – the option to which business venture funding alternatives are most sought is getting a bank loan. While making for a seriously bitter pill for entrepreneurs with a bright idea to swallow, the bottom line is that in order to get financed by a bank, especially for something like a business venture, you pretty much just have to prove to them that you don’t need the money you’re trying to borrow from them. That’s perhaps a huge contributing factor to the failure of many businesses which showed a lot of early promise. It’s perhaps also the main reason why many entrepreneurs take their potentially world-changing bright ideas to the grave.

There are however some alternative options for funding your business venture, most of which are actually much better than anything the bank would offer you in any case. Sadly though, entrepreneurs tend to turn to these alternatives only when they’ve been shot down by their favourite traditional bank.

Angel Investors

I’d personally say that angel investors are the best choice for seeking funding for a business venture or for the development of a new idea. This is because angel investors can sympathise with the up-and-coming entrepreneur, qualifying as angel investors by virtue of having been up-and-coming entrepreneurs or founders themselves. Still, if an angel investor doesn’t go on to give your idea or business the thumbs-up, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad idea which won’t work. There are many angel investors who just get sick at the thought of having turned down an opportunity to invest in a start-up which has since blown up beyond their wildest imagination.

Angel investors will generally point you down other avenues of getting funding if they themselves aren’t in a position to invest as well, so never pass up on an opportunity to solicit funding from an angel investor.

Crowdfunding Platforms

Crowd-sourcing start-up capital for your business venture is perhaps right on par with getting an angel investment, with the only area in which I think it falls short being that of an angel investment effectively coming with the mentorship of the angel investor, someone who is likely an experienced entrepreneur themselves with lots of insight to share and an established network to help grow your business through. Otherwise crowdfunding as a means through which to source capital for your business is a very popular way for new businesses to get up-and-running. Contributors come in various shapes, forms and sizes, some of which will just contribute outright without expecting any form of ownership or return on investment.

CSI (Corporate Social Investments)

Corporate Social Investments make for another great banking alternative to getting some funding for your venture. Their only drawback is that a legitimate CS Investment is extremely hard to come by. Essentially, companies which would otherwise be subjected to hefty taxes look to off-set paying such high taxes by giving away money to fund the development of other businesses, companies, start-ups, communities, etc. With this particular method of getting funding for your business, the hard work entails building up networks and then getting identified as a possible candidate for a CSI. You’ll probably have to wait a very long time to get any indication that you may possibly be in for such an investment, which would probably put the brakes on the development of your idea or the growth of your business while you wait.

R&D Tax Breaks and Rebates

If your idea or core operational structure of your business falls in line with anything the government has earmarked as a targeted area of development, perhaps the funding you so desire can come in the form of a Research and Development (R&D) tax break. What happens is as a result of the outcome of your idea or business possibly solving a problem the government has or one which will address the needs of a very large number of people, the government provides the funding for the research which goes into the development of that idea.

R&D tax breaks are also quite hard to come by, something which is attested to by the fact that you probably have to go through a traditional financial institution like a bank to apply for R&D tax breaks and rebates.

Exploring the Financial Lifecycle of a Cash-Cow Industry

Exploring the Financial Lifecycle of a Cash-Cow Industry

In every generation there’s at least one event or one product which changes things around completely, making a few people extremely wealthy while spawning a lot of secondary markets which run parallel to whatever that major paradigm shift is. It happens in just about every area of our lives, from solving a problem which is associated with our basic needs to even something like entertainment.

Major events, discoveries, inventions etc. such as oil, the VCR machine, the internet etc. are perfect examples of such paradigm shifts. The development of a major cash-cow industry often takes place within another major paradigm shift, such as social networking as one way in which the internet developed, or fuel to power our cars as a way in which the discovery of oil was developed. With regards to the financial lifecycle of these major cash-cow industries, an understanding thereof could perhaps help you become a better investor if you have some money set aside to perhaps take a chance on industries falling outside of your regular way of earning a living.

Stage One – The Initial Boom

The initial boom stage of a major cash-cow industry is often just a precursor to what will effectively be a second boom, where all the real money will change hands. Let’s take the internet as an example – when the internet first really took shape, it was nothing more than a network of connected computers and the very idea fascinated only a few geeky people in the entire world. No serious money really changed hands during the initial growth phase of the internet and investors weren’t exactly queuing up to “invest in the internet.” The only money which can be directly associated with this stage is that of early adopters who sort of see the new paradigm as something which they just enjoy exploring, entertaining and developing, or indeed something which they can develop into something really useful in future. This leads us to the next stage.

Stage Two – The Explosion

When someone finally makes use of the discovery, paradigm or invention to create something really useful, a financial explosion of sorts takes place. This leveraging of the original paradigm to create something that explodes into popularity can take any form, but the most common form is if it solves some sort of problem. Sticking with our example of the internet, you can think of the Google search engine (now part of the parent company called Alphabet) as a great example of someone (or two guys) taking the original invention of the World Wide Web and creating something which solves a problem and goes on to become a runaway success.

This is when the true power of the original invention or original idea / discovery / paradigm comes into focus as something which can be really useful – something which has some real power, during which time a lot of investment comes pouring into this and other similar developments. It essentially becomes a race against time and a competition to see who will ultimately “get it right” and explode into prominence. This is when to place investment bets because you can make some serious cash if the development you bet on eventually goes on to list or perhaps gets acquired.

Stage Three – The Derivative Phase

Operating within patent laws, the main paradigm which proves to be popular naturally sparks some competition, in the form of developers trying to develop a better product which does the same job, but one which will be in direct competition with the most popular product. Think Yahoo and Bing which tried to take on Google to dominate the search engine market. There were many other search engines as well, but I mean we can only declare one clear winner.

Stage Four – The Peak

At this stage it’s perhaps too late to look towards investing because the only real way you can do that is through buying stocks, which are already expensive and have already made a lot of people rich. Some cash-cow industries die out at this stage, while others like Google diversify and explore other avenues through which to reinvent the cash-cow and keep the profits flowing in. If you’re lucky, you can still make a lot of money through these diversifications.

Investing Vs. Trading

Investing Vs. Trading

Due in large part to the booming online trading market, people often get confused about whether what they’re doing via their online platform of choice is in fact trading or investing. The lines become blurred a bit when brokers operating an online trading platform offer both of these financial instruments with which to buy and sell securities.

The lines are blurred further when one takes into account the fact that someone using these financial instruments can indeed be both a trader and an investor at the same time, with a single transaction effectively doubling-up as being a trade and an investment at the same time. Fundamentally however, there is a difference between trading and investing and there is a difference between a trader and an investor.

Investing

It’s perhaps pertinent to start off with investing because trading is essentially a spin-off of investing. An investor is fundamentally someone who takes a long term view on putting their money into something from which they expect or predict some growth – growth which will hopefully result in some financial success in the future. So even if you make use of an online brokerage platform from the point of view of an investor, your outlook is generally a long term one, which means you would buy shares in listed companies (stocks), commodities or some sort of stake in a company or venture with plans to only really cash-in properly once some growth has taken place.

Trading

Trading generally takes more of a short-term outlook in that a trader essentially seeks to take advantage of the immediate movement in the markets. The typical instrument offered to traders online is that of Contracts For Differences (CFDs). CFDs are precisely what is written on the tin – a contract you enter into as a result of your prediction of whether or not one or more share prices you’ve selected to bet on are going to increase in value or decrease. CFDs are precisely why there’s been a recent explosion in online trading platforms, quite simply because the brokerage sites don’t really own anything and they don’t produce anything either. So it’s just a matter of going through the requisite compliance processes to qualify as a broker and then make some insane money charging people commission for each trade they make.

Intraday traders are perhaps the most common types of traders, who are naturally drawn to volatile stocks so that they can take advantage of the constant movements of the values of those stocks.

So Which is Better – Investing or Trading?

In my expert opinion as someone who works in the financial industry, I’d honestly proclaim investing to be a better option, but only if it was a question of either-or. Investing is better in my opinion because if you look at the All Share Index of any stock exchange in the world, generally such a portfolio of shares increases in value over time. Your earnings would naturally be slow in this way, but they’d also generally be steady earnings which can be as good as beating inflation at times.

So even if you seek the thrill of the intraday trader and you have a preference for making (or losing) money quickly, your trading efforts should be complemented with a good portfolio of investments. That way, you can benefit from investor-advantages such as earning dividends on certain stocks you hold, while your trading efforts could play off on your investment portfolio to hedge against what would otherwise be serious, fast losses while you’re chasing your next short-term trade.

Ultimately, mixing things up is the way to go, but I seriously wouldn’t recommend for anyone to put all their eggs in the trader’s nest.