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Top ways to get the most out of your workforce

Sir Richard Branson once said: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” This quote from one of the most successful entrepreneurs of modern times shows just why your workforce is so key to your success. Many people will focus on recruiting the best talent, which is naturally important, but then forget to get the best from them. This is a big mistake!

Getting the best out of your workforce is vital as it enables staff to perform to their maximum capabilities and provide the best service to your customers.

How to get the most from your employees

If you are looking at how to get the most from your staff, then there are some amazing tips to help:

  • Drug testing – if your staff are misusing illegal drugs or legal highs, then they will simply not perform to the best of their ability. To guard against this, many companies will perform on-site drugs tests to enable them to help staff in this regard. There are many innovative drugs testing companies that can help now, with 24-hour drug test results available for a quick turnaround.
  • Show recognition – one great way to get more from the workforce you have is to show them recognition and reward when they do an excellent job. This will show them that you value them as employees and give them extra motivation to work to their maximum abilities. It could be something as simple as an email to say well done or a small bonus in their monthly wage packet.
  • Be clear on their role – many companies fail to extract the best from staff because they are not clear with them on their role. Be sure to let staff know what is expected of them and what their areas of responsibility are. Be doing this, you are allowing them to be in control of their tasks and will get more from them.
  • Training – as well as helping staff by being clear on what their role involves, you should also make sure that they have the training needed to do it. Many companies do not provide the initial training required or updated training over time, which means that staff cannot perform to their best. Make staff training an ongoing concern to avoid this problem.
  • Communicate effectively – communication is a massive issue in business. Being able to talk to staff in a clear and professional manner is vital to make them feel included. It will also help boost employee morale as they will feel part of what is happening and happy to follow your lead. Make sure to include your staff in any important decisions and always keep them up to date with the latest company news.

Take action now to get a more productive team

Making sure that your workforce is working to their best will make for a happy team that is more productive. It will also ensure that your customers get the best service possible and help to make your business a success. Hopefully, the above tips will give you a good start on how do this.

Financial advice: how it can turn your business around

Studies have shown that there are over 5,000 financial advice firms operating in the UK, and they’re used for everything from mortgage applications to the creation of investment trusts. However, from the point of view of a business, financial advisors have lots of other potential uses. They can help you manage your tax burden, for example, while they can also advise on stock market floats and the buying up of shares in other firms. This article will explore these themes and explain why good-quality financial advice can be vital for a firm such as yours.

Reason and strategy

As an entrepreneur or business leader, times can sometimes get tough – both in a financial sense and in an emotional sense. On the latter point, it’s sometimes tempting during stressful times to make business decisions based on what seems like the easiest or most satisfying option. However, this is not always a good idea. With a financial advisor on hand, you’ll instead make choices that are based on reason and strategy as opposed to stress-induced feelings. In the long term, you’ll be grateful that you prepared for the tough times by hiring an independent external advisor who can see the picture more clearly.

Tax rules

It’s the bane of every business’s life, but it’s something that can’t be avoided. Tax is a certainty – and whether you’re paying corporation tax, income tax, VAT or a mixture, there are all kinds of rules for your business to follow. A financial advisor can help you in this regard by pointing out what your business’s tax obligations are and ensuring that you know your legal, above-board options for structuring your business in a way that makes it as tax efficient as possible.

Stocks and shares

For many businesses, stock trading is something that only comes into play when the firm considers selling off some of its own equity, perhaps in the form of an initial public offering (IPO). If you’re planning to do this, then it’s definitely wise to hire a whole group of financial advisors with a special interest in stock market floats.

However, some firms also choose to buy the stocks of other firms in a speculative manner, especially if they have high cash reserves to spend. This isn’t always the right choice, especially if the firm doing the buying may need the investment cash in the future, but it can sometimes suit. Speaking to a financial advisor can help to clear up any confusion. A good weekly stock calendar can also help you here if your business plans to go down this route, so it’s worth looking for one of these as well as speaking to an advisor.

In a world where the wrong financial decisions can have long-lasting effects, it’s essential to obtain financial advice before going down any particular route. This is especially true in the world of business, where the wrong choices can not only impact your profits but also harm your employees’ prospects. If you require explanations, information or suggested courses of action, then don’t delay: get in touch with a financial advisor today.

How Businesses are Learning to Adapt to the Demands of the Millennial Demographic

One of the biggest challenges for any business is to identify target markets and successfully appeal to them. In recent years, the demographic known as Generation Y or Millennials have become the main focus of many businesses in the entertainment and leisure sectors.

Culture drives many retail sectors, as does technology, and millennials are the first generation to be considered fully native digital users. Their lives are driven by technology and that technology is changing the way they engage with retail processes.

They are used to relying on mobile technology to get things done. Whether it is organising travel, shopping or arranging social events, everything is done from a handheld device. And millennials are adopting this behaviour at a very young age.

For entertainment and leisure business to be successful, it is important they understand and appeal to this market. Not just in the way they use technology, but also in the image they present to this demanding group.

Millennials are less brand driven overall, although they do form emotional attachments to brands they feel in tune with, such as Apple. They are less interested in buying magazines and rarely watch TV through traditional means, so reaching them requires a different approach. As the internet is the driving force behind their lives, it is also the place where businesses have to make their presence felt.

Major brands such as MTV have spent a lot of time and money studying what makes millennials tick. They found them to be less definitive when it comes to moral issues and more likely to take context into account when making a moral decision. They also discovered millennials are confused by mixed messages sent by media sources and are therefore more likely to seek their own truth.  They are also keen to challenge injustice and many feel they need to play the system to get ahead in life.

Getting yourself on the radar of such a complicated generation is not easy. Especially when your business sector has traditionally targeted older generations. For example, the game of bingo was once seen as a fun activity for people of a certain age, but that is no longer the case with more young people now enjoying the game. Online gaming sites such as Buzz Bingo have brought their product to millennials by offering bingo alongside more familiar pursuits such as video slots and casino games.

Today’s generation still like to play games and gamble but they expect to be able to do it on the move. So offering a slick and simple application or web service that can be accessed on any device is key. Millennials are less concerned about brand names and more about quality and ease of use. Their world is complicated enough, they just want technology that does the job and does it quickly.

Once described as the Me Me Me Generation by Time Magazine, Millennials are no longer so misunderstood. In fact, the impact they have had on marketers and advertisers means they could end up the most understood generation ever. Placing everything they need at their fingertips is not pandering to a spoilt generation, it is simply being aware of how they have been nurtured in a fast-moving digital environment.

Publishing industry on borrowed time as self-destruction eBooks go on sale

Mission: Impossible-style ebooks which self-destruct after reading went on sale in Britain yesterday.

Digital products at the Nobu.store are fitted with electronic fuses that are set to ‘detonate’ when the rental period expires.

Consumers have between two and 20 days to read the book before a ‘coded bomb’ explodes and wipes “every trace of data” from their smartphone or tablet.

Similar software is already in use for movie and box set rentals, but it is the first time that so-called “timestamp tech” of this kind has been applied to the publishing industry.

Until now, publishers have only managed to restrict access to expired downloads, rather than permanently removing them from a user’s device.

The technology, which is patented but “highly secret”, is currently used on the Nobu.store site for electronic book, magazine and movie rental in PDF format. Ebooks are read on the Nobu Reader app.

But the “self-shred” software, which is embedded into the PDF code, could also prove invaluable for the military, governments and other publishers of sensitive data.

Without it, old devices discarded by spooks, soldiers, doctors and CEOs could provide enemies and competitors with a “treasure trove” of confidential information.

Speaking yesterday the bookstore’s billionaire founder, Nobu Su, said: “Nobu.store provides publishers and authors with the first platform of its kind that rents ebooks or other works for a specified period of time.

“But it is also the world’s first marketplace that utilises timestamp technology to completely remove every trace of data from a user’s device after that rental period has expired.

“As such, it helps consumers by removing old data and memory from their device, and it helps publishers by protecting their copyright against piracy.”

Nobu, the chairman of shipping firm TMT, added: “In time, it will no doubt prove a useful tool to those corporations and governmental organisations who need to protect important data from falling into the wrong hands.”

The right public liability cover can be a crucial line of defence for construction firms

The world of construction can be fraught with risks, many of which posed to members of the public. This can be especially problematic in a financial sense – as, if your working practices lead a member of this group to pick up an illness or injury, they could respond by suing your construction firm.

For this reason, it’s crucial not to underestimate the worth of taking out public liability insurance. The right policy can help you to ensure that your company is covered in the right places.

How might construction firms inconvenience the public?

There are various ways in which a blunder on the part of you or your workers can give rise to an injury or illness prompting legal action. Where you carry out construction work could already be a very public place, such as on scaffolding above a stretch of readily accessible pavement.

Should you drop a tool that falls off this scaffolding and hits someone to injurious effect, you could be quickly faced with a compensation claim. Similarly, you would be liable if the scaffolding itself falls onto a passer-by with the same result, or your company’s building materials are haphazardly scattered around where they lead someone to trip and consequently suffer a major injury.

You could also find yourself in legal trouble if your company’s work causes damage to a property or car owned by a member of the public. Imagine if that dropped tool hit and so dented a car rather than injured a person. Meanwhile, a property could be in jeopardy if it neighbours your construction site and you aren’t sufficiently careful to prevent that nearby building becoming damaged.

In any of these cases, you could soon have legal costs and expenses to pay in defending a claim, as the Federation of Small Businesses acknowledges. Furthermore, if you lose the case, you would need to make a compensation payout. Fortunately, public liability insurance can cover all of these costs.

Practice diligence in your search for public liability cover

When looking for public liability insurance, remember that not all policies are created equal. The Planning Portal site says that most insurers offer such cover in the region of £1 million to £5 million. Where exactly within this region you should buy might depend on whether your contracts stipulate a specific level of cover, so check those contracts closely.

You should particularly keep in mind that, as a construction worker, the level of risk that your firm daily undertakes could be higher than that of a firm in a trade other than construction. For example, if your daily job could – if it went wrong – seriously injure passers-by, the risk would be high.

You might find it helpful to utilise services of insurance specialists capable of assessing your particular risk profile before presenting an insurance quote to suit. In the UK, Tradesman Saver is a good source of construction public liability insurance tailored to particular needs. Tradesman Saver also includes products liability cover with all of its policies.

Exploring Bridging Finance for Short-Term High-Value Loans

Bridge loans are commonly used by businesses and individual entities to provide short-term financing. With bridge financing, businesses may receive the capital they need for immediate use while arranging long-term financing.

These loans are often available in amounts up to 25 million pounds and typically carry short terms. In fact, most bridge loans have a length of two years or less.

The bridge financing sector continues to grow at a rapid pace. Less than a decade ago, this sector in the UK was valued at around 750 million pounds. It is currently valued at over 4 billion.

For those looking for a short-term financing solution, it may help to learn more about bridging finance.

What is Bridge Financing?

Bridge financing refers to a method for bridging the gap when your business needs to cover major expenses. Businesses may use a bridge loan to gain more capital for short-term expansion and other business plans.

As these loans are often high-value loans, they need to be secured with collateral. Typically, real estate properties or other business assets are used to secure the loan. The collateral also helps businesses receive a generally low-interest rate. In fact, most bridging finance loans carry an interest rate between 0.6 and 2.0 percent.

Due to the demand for bridging finance, there are close to 40 major UK lenders that offer bridging finance. There are also several thousand brokers available to help businesses with their financing options.

The lenders are divided into two groups. There are non-regulated and regulated lenders. While both groups need to comply with the FCA guidelines, lenders that are not regulated are not required to complete a credit score check.

Businesses and entities with lower credit scores may seek financing through a non-regulated lender. However, these lenders are also more likely to offer a higher interest rate.

There is an important note about using a non-regulated lender. When applying for a loan, you cannot use your primary residence as collateral to secure the loan.

New Businesses May Benefit from Bridging Finance

Bridge loans are typically used by businesses when they do not have the capital to complete a specific project, such as opening a new office or upgrading their facilities. However, start-ups may also benefit from bridging finance.

When you are first trying to get your business up and running, it is easy to burn through your available start-up capital quickly. With a bridge loan, start-ups can receive the financing that they need to speed up their business growth. Using these funds, businesses can buy new equipment or hire new workers.

Bridge Loans are Also Available for Homeowners

Besides businesses, homeowners can also apply for a bridging loan. For example, when purchasing a new home, you may require funds from the sale of your existing home to cover the mortgage for the new home. A bridge loan can cover this gap.

Using bridge financing, a homeowner has the option to move forward with the purchase of a new property. When the existing home is sold, the sale of the home is used to pay off the bridge loan.

In the end, bridging finance is a convenient option for short-term loans when your current funds do not cover your financial needs. Most often, the loans are used to cover a temporary lack of funds to prevent any reduction in business operations. If this applies to your situation, consider getting a bridge loan to cover your costs.

Three essential top tips for traders

There’s a lot to think about when you’re a trader. From working out where and how you can start to managing risk once you’ve built up enough practice, there’s a lot to do. For these reasons, any way that you can simplify the process is a smart move. Here are some top tips on how to manage the uncertainties involved in a trading career and prevent yourself from running into difficulties.

Opt for CFDs

Trading stocks and shares has its benefits, but there are many other ways to trade. One of them is by going for contracts for difference (CFDs), which are essentially derivative products that track market performance without actually offering the trader any share ownership. They’re easier to access, but they also require an understanding of complexities such as leverage. Tips for CFD trading worldwide, then, are essential, and you should do your research before plunging into the CFD world – or, indeed, the worlds of any other instruments.

Start small and build up

Whether you’re starting out in your trading career or you’re an experienced trader who is looking to trade a new financial instrument, it’s always worth starting small when you’re in a new realm that you haven’t encountered before. This is because there is a range of problems that you might encounter. You could, for example, quickly find that the new instrument works on a time-frame that doesn’t suit you: this is something that often happens with foreign exchange day trading, as the economic calendars and important announcements of other countries frequently don’t match the time zones of the trader’s own.

If you’ve already sunk a large deposit into an instrument that you later discover doesn’t suit you, then you’ll be stuck. Instead, it’s wise to start small: by making just a small deposit at first and then adding more once you’ve worked out how it all operates, you’ll be able to scale upwards in a sustainable and – hopefully – profitable fashion.

Practice restraint

The most successful traders tend to be those who take a rational approach to trading rather than an emotional one. Rational traders work out their maximum acceptable losses and a good strategy well in advance, and then stick to it during the course of a trade knowing that they did all they could to ensure success. Emotional traders, by contrast, monitor their trades all the time and make anxious, in-the-moment decisions that deviate from the agreed plan but can end up backfiring. The rational trader, then, is much more likely to succeed in the long term.

Becoming a trader – or moving into a new trading realm if you’re already an investing professional – is a tough job. From working out a strategy to staying calm in the face of problems, there’s a lot to think about.  However, by following these three top tips, you can boost your chances of profiting and ensure that you have a sustainable, reason-based approach to trading sorted out.

The benefits of holding a corporate event for your company

There can be little doubt about the monumental scale of today’s corporate event industry; the UK events sector alone is worth more than £40 billion, according to Eventbrite. Meanwhile, the worldwide business-to-business (B2B) events industry generated revenue of $30.3 billion in 2016, as stated by the EventMB blog.

But why should your own organisation look to host corporate events? Isn’t digital marketing alone now an adequate way of reaching new customers and selling products and services?

Here are just a few of the real advantages of organising a corporate event.

Greater brand awareness

When your prospective customers, clients or partners have the opportunity to experience your brand ‘in the flesh’ instead of simply on the pages of a website or in the slightly distant text of a press release, they are likely to feel more engaged and associate your brand with the event.

The more memorable – in a positive sense – your corporate event is, the more warmly attendees, or even just those who picked up on the hype associated with the event second-hand, will reflect on your company and what it stands for.

Flaunting your venue – or taste in venues

If your business is a restaurant, hotel, bar or similar entity that has a venue open to the public and is dependent on generating awareness of this, a corporate event such as a product launch, fashion show or networking event could be ideal for immersing people in the wonders of your setting.

Alternatively, if your firm is office-based or simply lacks premises suitable for hosting a corporate event, organising such an event could be an invaluable opportunity to showcase your fine taste in venues. In so doing, you will also be associating your brand with the finest quality experiences.

Our very own Château Bouffémont, for instance, is a renowned chateau for corporate event days, offering a range of sophisticated function rooms with refined interior decor, in impressive surroundings of manicured French gardens.

Maximised face-to-face connections

This is closely tied to the ‘brand awareness’ point above. The reality is that while you can build a formidable online presence for your company with compelling written and video content, nothing surpasses face-to-face contact for heightening engagement among your target audience.

If you depend solely on the virtual world for reaching out to potential clients and contacts, these people may rarely or never see your face. The personal touch remains crucial for cultivating meaningful and long-lasting business relationships, as corporate events can help to foster.

Revenue generation

You are unlikely to be convinced of the merit of holding a corporate event at all unless there is a clear potential benefit to your firm’s bottom line. Thankfully, there are many ways in which such an event can enable you to make money.

One of those options is, of course, charging admission to your event. However, by holding a product launch or fashion show as part of your event, you may also secure lucrative orders for your products or services on the day itself. The heightened awareness of your brand that the event enables could also be instrumental in your company’s ongoing efforts to maximise profits.

While holding a corporate event is not a ‘catch-all’ solution any more than any other form of marketing such as writing press releases or producing corporate videos, it is a strategy that can nonetheless play a key role in your organisation’s continued growth.

Time For A Change On Landlord Tax Laws?

The private rental sector has been under intense scrutiny in recent years, and landlords have been dealt a number of blows, which is why they now seem to be fighting back.

The rental market has been booming for some time, but bringing in increased stamp duty and tougher mortgage availability coupled with the phasing out of the mortgage tax relief has meant many landlords are now questioning whether buy-to-let investment is really worth it. With a vast number now seeing their profits being eaten away, and others deciding entering the rental market now has too many barriers, it is no wonder that many are calling for change.

The Private Rental Market

The rental market grew at a rapid rate because those who could afford to invest in property ended up supplying homes to those who could not. Stricter mortgage rules have meant that it is now harder and harder for many people to get onto the property ladder, driving them into rental property either to allow them to save up for their own home or to enjoy a better lifestyle than those saving for hefty deposits.

Recent studies estimate that there could be a net loss of 133,000 homes for rent across the UK over the next 12 months. With landlords feeling squeezed out of the sector there could be fewer homes for rent in a property market that first time buyers still struggle to enter. The Government has been trying to boost the supply of homes to rent by corporate investors, but small businesses and individual landlords are not feeling the benefit.

Potential Tax Changes

This loss of rental property comes at a time when 84% of landlords are reporting an 84% increase or stability in demand. This leaves a massive gap between supply and demand, which has led to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to demand that the Government ends its tax on new homes where landlords are investing in the property.

The RLA feel that converted offices and shops, the transformation of large homes into several smaller units or the return to use of empty dwellings should also fall under this umbrella. They feel that corporate investors, who are estimated to only make up 2% of private rented homes, are failing to provide the properties that are needed, both in terms of volume and speed.

With private landlords providing affordable housing on a long-term scale, they are seen to be supporting local economies and should therefore be encouraged rather than put off by ever-increasing taxation.

Whether the Government listens to these concerns remains to be seen, as they seem to be intent on encouraging the corporate side of the market more and more. However, it is clear that there is still a place for the private landlord, but many will have a lot of sums to do to decide whether it is worth continuing.

For more information on property investment in the UK in the buy-to-let or student property investment markets, please contact Hopwood House.

How to boost your employability

Whether you’re in the midst of your search, preparing for a change, or just keeping your options open, here are some of the best things that you can do to boost your employability.

Widen your search

Want to enhance your career prospects? How open are you to relocating? Brexit is making it less seamless to work on the continent, but it is creating openings across the UK. If you’re finding that the opportunities are lacking in your current location, then consider expanding your sights to an area in greater need of your skillset.

Pick the right sector

Have you considered a change in career lately? Some positions and whole industries don’t have a particularly bright future, and getting out sooner rather than later may be your best bet. Study forecasts and see if there’s a match between your skills and interests and a growing industry. Even a slight tweak might be a smart move – traditional pubs are down, but bars are up at the moment, and airlines are weak, but travel tech is hot.

Pad out your resume

You want to make a competitive showing against other candidates, and there are a few things that employers look at. Job history, including titles, notable achievements and duration, is one. Education is another. If your educational credentials are lagging behind what other candidates can offer for the same position, or are quite out of date, then consider refreshing them. LSBF on Facebook showcases some of the most relevant qualifications, and part-time or online studies make it accessible to upgrade for midstream professionals.

Spread the word

If you want to enhance your career prospects, then get your network working for you. Talk to those around you about your aspirations. Ask if they know of opportunities, and get out and mingle to make new contacts. You can also use online networks to extend the search, but be cautious of posting anything that may unsettle current employers, and avoid linking your professional identity with any channel that might have less-than-professional content.

Document your wins

Start compiling data, records and proofs of your experience and notable achievements. You’ll use this in your job search to demonstrate the value you can bring to a new employer. Think in terms of data and stories. Data is great because you can point to measurable results and come across as effective instead of a braggart. Weave the data into a narrative about how you solved a problem for your employer, particularly a problem that you think your prospective employer might want you to solve for them. You may have improved output by 20% in your last job, or increased customer retention by an extra percentage point, etc.

You can enhance your career prospects and boost your employability by following these steps. Start by identifying your goals and considering a change in location, role or sector to see if you’re being limited by where you’re at. Bring your skills and education up to standard to be a more competitive and impressive applicant, get your network working for you, and be sure to have a series of meaningful achievements on hand to impress in your cover letters and interviews.

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