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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.

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.

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.

Is it Worth Getting into Cryptocurrencies?

Is it Worth Getting into Cryptocurrencies?

If you had invested in perhaps the most popular cryptocurreny, Bitcoin, a mere three years ago or so, you’d be smiling right about now because Bitcoin has indeed grown quite nicely in its valuation against fiat currencies. There are many other cryptocurrencies which are fighting for their share of the market, all making use of what appears to be a revolutionary way of making use of the rather simple concept of a publically available ledger, otherwise known as the blockchain.

There was indeed a recent blip in the otherwise upward trend depicted by the valuation placed on Bitcoin specifically, but otherwise this seems to be the future of finance – well certainly in the minds of a lot of people who complete a lot of their trades and transactions online. The main idea is for there to be some sort of independence from the central banking system which largely governs the entire world’s financial system, so if for instance you want to buy something from someone or you want to sell something to them, there is no involvement of the banks and other financial institutions, which means there are no service fees.

What it also means is that there’s no one on the other side who could possibly delay or completely block a transaction between two parties who agree on the terms of the transaction, so naturally one would generally see a future for such technology. I’ll let you in on a little secret too – the blockchain’s use for payment channels such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has the big players in the financial industry losing some sleep over what appears to be a monopoly on the procurement of money. Cryptocurrencies are definitely seen as a bit of threat to the institutionalised financial sector establishments, but since the value of digital currencies such as Bitcoin is measured against fiat currencies, for now these institutions can rest easy.

While there’s definitely a future for cryptocurrencies, the burning question is indeed whether or not it’s worth getting into the game at what seems to be such a late stage.

Well, the short answer is yes, definitely, you just have to be a little bit clever about it. Mining is definitely out of the question, unless you’re targeting emerging cryptocurrencies. Even if you team up with other miners to better your collective chances of discovering some new Bitcoins, it’s really getting harder and harder to uncover new cryptocurrencies and the hardware you have to purchase (miner) to start mining is expensive to buy and expensive to operate. It consumes a lot of power and will plough through your data, while you’ll honestly hardly see any success in mining new cryptocurrency units. If you want to take a bet on emerging cryptocurrencies through mining, that alone isn’t enough to justify the cost of running a cryptocurrency miner all by yourself.

The good thing about cryptocurrency miners, if you get the right one that is, is that you can use it for many other purposes related to the fundamentals of blockchain technology. These uses are beyond the scope of this particular post, but all I’ll say is that it has a lot to do with validating “stuff” like transactions and records by way of a public ledger.

At this stage it can still be worth getting into cryptocurrencies however, but either by direct investment or trading, or by pooling your money with investing clubs that specialise in cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin itself is forecast to reach figures of over $1000 per coin unit in the near future, so it’s perhaps worth a punt if you are indeed looking for some short term gains, otherwise it’s still worth a punt if you’re looking towards long-term gains.

Just keep in mind that there is an originally intended purpose for the development of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology they use, which is to decentralise the financial service involved with buying and selling.

Online Trading – Who Makes the Real Money?

Online Trading – Who Makes the Real Money?

Have you noticed how over the last couple of years or so, there seems to have been a serious spike in the number of online trading platforms? In addition, more airtime on business channels seems to be allocated to shows about trading and investing, particularly trading and investing in the stock markets, whether directly (buying shares) or indirectly (trading derivatives). It’s not just a coincidence and good on you if you have indeed noticed what seems to be a serious drive to get people to invest their money in the Stock Exchange.

The truth is you’re still effectively taking a chance if you invest in the financial markets, whether as an investor who’s buying stocks outright or if you’re a trader seeking to take advantage of the liquidity of the markets (the short-term movement of the value of shares). While a lot of people make a lot of money playing the markets in this way, a whole lot more lose a lot of their money.

It’s perhaps a bit of an overly simplistic way of putting it, but it’s true that for every winner there has to be a loser. In the case of Contracts For Differences (CFDs) which are essentially derivatives, and I suppose in the case of outright shares investing as well, this view tends to be markedly skewed against the majority. For every big winner there are effectively a lot of losers, many of whom only lose a little bit of their money at a time and so don’t really feel the losses in the grander scheme of things.

The biggest winner however is the house and I refer to it as being the “house” because quite frankly, online trading is not unlike gambling. Nobody can ever say with absolute certainty whether or not a particular stock is going to go up or down. The only people who have this type of information are those operating on the inside and they’re not allowed to make use of it to trade as that would equate to insider trading, which is a criminal offence.

But yes, the biggest winner is indeed the trading platform over which everybody is chasing their own personal profits – the broker. It’s as simple as this – for every trade that is executed by each trader, whether buying or selling, the online trading platform (broker) charges a fee, so they are the ones who make the real money.

Imagine a scenario where just a modest total of 2,000 trades are made in just one hour, which is not uncommon. Say the broker charges what appears to be a very low service fee of $2 per trade. That would equate to $4,000 made in just one hour, better yet (for the brokers) if those were derivative trades such as CFDs.

The broker holds on to the value of the real shares they own, while derivatives traders slug it out over whether or not the price of those shares is going up or going down.

I’m in no way trying to discourage anyone from chasing their personal fortune through trading, but perhaps investing in brokerage companies themselves (getting a share of the ownership of an online trading platform) is a better avenue to pursue if you want a little bit more of a predictable manner in which to build up some good earnings. So I’d encourage investing in an actual start-up brokerage over the act of trading itself, although I must add that it is indeed possible to make some good money as a trader or an investor in shares. For many people, trading is just a convenient way of catering to the high risk portion of diversifying their investment portfolios.

What to Consider Before You Go International With Your Business

What to Consider Before You Go International With Your Business

The decision to start working overseas is almost a no-brainer. The wider global markets give you access to more customers, more opportunities and more chances to make a profit. If you do this right, you could turn your small business into an international empire and while you’ll probably be eager to get going there are still some pitfalls, of which you need to be aware.

To help you in your business endeavours, here are some of these issues that you should consider before you start to work with other nations.

The Market Gaps

You first need to treat the international markets in the same way you would your local ones – it may just take a little longer. Research and look at the situation and demographics in the areas of the countries you want to work with, to fully assess whether or not there are any gaps you can fill or provide for.

Language and Cultural Barriers

Different countries also have different languages and ways of doing business – and the last thing you want to do is offend any future partners. The simple step here is to either employ someone who speaks the language or knows the culture of the country, or at least carry out your own research into business etiquette and expectations when you’re pitching to clients.

Trade Restrictions

For those businesses wanting to set up supplier routes or work with imports and exports, there are certain restrictions on goods that you should research first. If your main base is within the EU, the trade agreements in place makes moving goods more straightforward, with fewer restrictions. However, going outside of the EU can be more problematic, plus certain nations have stricter regulations than others, such as the China and the Middle East.

There are plenty of online guides to advise you with this, but also you can outsource shipping goods to external companies with international expertise, like Parcel2Go, who can help you overcome any trade barriers.

How Involved you will Be

Another big consideration is how much you will be involved in the whole process – as you’ll have your main business to think about as well. The workload can be quite demanding – especially for smaller firms – as such, you shouldn’t be afraid to invest in extra help or hand responsibilities to your trusted staff.

So, make sure you take note of the above when you’re planning your international business moves and you should put your company on the right path to overseas success. Good luck!