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Why does the number of female entrepreneurs continue to rise in the UK?

March 31, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Why does the number of female entrepreneurs in the UK continue to rise?/4 Businesswomen {{}}According to government figures, more women than ever before are starting their own business and this has led to a steady rise in the number of female entrepreneurs. When it comes to the number of male and female entrepreneurs in the UK, the gender gap is narrowing, but there is still plenty of ground to make up before parity is achieved.

Facts and figures

Previous perceptions about the typical profile of an entrepreneur would probably suggest that the person would typically be male and middle-aged, but business in the UK is changing and women are generally taking a more prominent role when it comes to business leadership.

It is interesting to note that at least 25% of registered self-employed workers in the UK are women and the number of female entrepreneurs is rising nearly three-times faster than the rate for men. There are understood to be more than 1.2m self-employed women in the UK who are involved in full or part-time work and according to the Office for National Statistics, the number of female entrepreneurs has risen by nearly 10% in the past two years, which compares very favourably to men (3.3% increase).

Mumpreneurs

The term ‘mumpreneur’ is used to describe a woman juggling family commitments with running a business, but it is very much a ‘Marmite’ phrase as far as many woman are concerned. Some think it’s rather patronising, while others consider the term to be empowering, but whatever your view the fact remains that there are an estimated 300,000 mothers running businesses who contribute an estimated £7.4bn to the UK economy each year.

There are already annual ‘mumpreneur’ awards and numerous blogs and online directories aimed at making networking easier and opening up new opportunities and ideas for discussion for those women who are looking to start their own business.

Work-life balance

The challenges for men and women are often different yet equally demanding in their own ways and sometimes it can be a struggle to achieve the right work-life balance.

Many female entrepreneurs become self-employed after starting a family and one of the winners at the last mumpreneur's awards is probably typical of what being a female entrepreneur involves.

One of the co-founders of Peach Pink, Vanessa Pinkney, was a former retail buyer for a large fashion retailer. She has used her contacts and industry knowledge to form a company that supplies luxury bags that are now sold in numerous well-known stores.

Her typical day will involve running her business around looking after her twin daughters, emailing suppliers in the morning, doing the school run and using Skype to communicate throughout the day, running her growing business empire from her kitchen table.

Recipe for success

It’s almost impossible to identify the absolute ingredients to achieve success in business or we’d all be following the same path and formula. Good advice is essential for anyone starting a business and here are some key points to consider.

A robust business plan is essential and you need to test your business model to make sure it is sustainable from the beginning. Having little or no start-up capital can actually be viewed positively, because it ensures that you apply greater financial discipline.

It is important to have confidence in what you are doing and a positive can-do approach is in the DNA of most successful entrepreneurs. And as long as you always remember that the biggest asset is you and work hard at building a supportive network, the venture has a greater chance of flourishing.

There are many business opportunities out there and when you look at the examples of success from previous start-ups, it is easy to see why the number of female entrepreneurs continues to rise.

Blog supplied by business strategist Tim Brown. Tim blogs about news and trends for successful small businesses in the modern world, including the ImRubbish site.

Further reading

The rise of the video job interview

March 26, 2014 by Guest Blogger

The rise of the video job interview/Man with headphones and computer{{}}One of the biggest recent changes to recruitment has been the rise of the video interview. Enabled by lower cost, easy-to-use video conferencing software-based systems, an increasingly global job market and cuts in HR budgets have been key drivers. And with businesses facing pressure to speed up the recruitment process, a first or second interview can be conducted via video conference, played back and reviewed quickly and easily.

So with the traditional face-to-face interview being replaced by video, how can candidates and prospective employers better prepare themselves and what should both be aware of during a video interview?

First, a video interview features the same elements as an in-person interview, so the same rules of engagement, attention and acknowledgement must be observed. This means dressing to impress, looking alert, engaged and professional throughout.

Remember, 93% of communication is thought to be non-verbal, so don't forget to pay attention to body language. Positive body language includes nodding your head, smiling genuinely and leaning forward to show interest or understanding. A furrowed brow, frowning and leaning back can all be perceived negatively.

Also ensure that you have the proper hardware and test it before you start. A good webcam is essential to maintain eye contact without losing sight of the other person, and make sure you adjust your seat/computer to frame your face.

Use headphones too, because they are much better than speakerphones, which can amplify background noise, disturb and distract you from the conversation. Make sure you have a neutral backdrop, because a distracting or messy background may cause the other person to lose their attention. Proper lighting is important to make you look your best, and you also need to be aware of any reflective surfaces that can be distracting. Finally, be prepared. Just because it is remote, a video interview should be treated just like a face-to-face one.

Blog provided by video conferencing solutions provider Vidyo.

Further reading

Posted in Employees | Tagged recruitment, HR | 0 comments

Has Britain become a nation of workaholics?

March 25, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Has Britain become a nation of workaholics?/Young businesswoman sleeping on a pile of files{{}}Every business owner wants their employees to be dedicated, hardworking and willing to go the extra mile by putting in extra hours when necessary. However, there is a balance to be struck between hard work and unhealthy, obsessive behaviour. So, has Britain become a nation of workaholics?

Whatever happened to 9-5?

The stereotype of an overworked executive was once associated with American high-fliers, yet in recent years this poor work-life balance has made its way across the Atlantic.

Figures from the Trades Union Congress suggest that one in eight UK employees works more than 48 hours per week, while research from the BBC suggests that more than half (54%) of Britain's workforce regularly works through their lunch break.

People who work long and unsociable hours could be doing themselves serious harm. Indeed, studies have shown that working 11 hours a day compared to eight increases your chances of developing heart disease by 67%.

Workaholic or just a hard worker?

In Japan 'workaholism' is referred to as Karoshi ('death by overwork') and is the likely cause of some 1,000 deaths each year.

It is crucial that owners recognise the damage that a long-hours culture can have on a business and its people.

One American firm takes the idea of combating workaholism so seriously that its employees are punished for working more than 40 hours a week.

Improve your time-management

A less drastic approach is to implement time-management tricks that can help boost productivity and performance. Time wasted by office workers during meetings has been estimated to cost the UK economy about £26bn a year. Rather than sitting around a table, you could request that staff members stand for the duration. This helps to rapidly reduce meeting length, while ensuring the same ground is covered.

Some firms use video conferencing to keep in touch with key individuals. This provides a powerful way to communicate in real time, meaning work can happen anywhere and at any time. Something as simple as implementing a flexible working policy can help to combat workaholism. When handled correctly, flexible working can boost employee morale and motivation, while reducing absenteeism.

If a staff member suffers from ‘workaholism’, your first step should be to review their responsibilities and duties, to determine whether they're burdened with an excessive workload and identify any reasonable adjustments that can made to address the issue.

Employees’ statutory rights

Under the Working Time Regulations employees aged 18 and over are limited to working 48 hours a week. Members of staff have the legal right to opt out, enabling an increase in their working hours, but this must be done in writing and on a voluntary basis.

Start-ups and small businesses have the upper hand when it comes to tackling overworking. Effectively monitoring and managing the issue helps to prevent a workaholic culture from developing.

Blog supplied by Helen Pedder, head of HR for ClearSky HR.

Further reading

Budget 2014: small business winners and losers

March 21, 2014 by Guest

George Osborne’s 2014 Budget was announced on Wednesday, bringing with it tax changes, legislative tweaks, gains for some and losses for others. With little spare cash to play with, what did the Government announce for the UK’s entrepreneurs?

Personal Tax changes

UK workers can currently earn £9,440 before they start paying income tax. A rise to £10,000 was already planned for April 2014 and on Wednesday Osborne said this would rise to £10,500 in April 2015. This means £800 a year more for the average taxpayer and also means that three million workers won’t have to pay any income tax at all.

The amount of money you earn before paying the higher 40% income tax rate is going up from £41,450 to £41,865 in April 2014, then up to £42,285 in April 2015. Employer National Insurance contributions for under-21s were also scrapped - this is relevant if you employ young workers.

Support for savers

If you have ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) you’ll know there are currently two types: Cash and Stock. These will be merged into one product, making things simpler, and you’ll be able to save £15,000 tax free from July.

The 10% tax rate on savings has also been scrapped, as well as many of the rules on accessing your pension savings.

Business investment boost

To encourage new investors to back social enterprises, the government has introduced 30% income tax relief for social investment. Eligible social enterprises will be able to receive maximum investment of £290,000 over a three year period.

Also, startups are being encouraged to invest in innovative ideas in risky markets, with Research & Development tax credits available for loss-making SMEs increased from 11% to 14.5%.

Finally, the 50% relief on capital gains tax for VC reinvestors has been made permanent, which will help to continue investment support for small businesses.

Simplification of Class 2 NIC

A small but welcome change for the self-employed. Class 2 National Insurance contributions, which are currently paid weekly by Direct Debit, will be collected via Self Assessment.

Good news for business owners

There was a reform of Air Passenger Duty, which will reduce the cost of international travel. Extra support was also announced for UKTI - the body which helps UK firms do business abroad - and the lending available to exporters doubled.

A £200 million pot was announced for local councils to help repair infrastructure damaged by recent floods. There will also be support for 200,000 new homes at designated sites across the country, potentially creating thousands of new jobs.

Win or lose?

The budget was fairly average for start ups and entrepreneurs - not bad, but not great.

The encouragement of business investment was the most positive news and this should help out a lot of firms, especially in the manufacturing sector. Personal tax cuts will also help to keep a bit more cash in your pockets. Finally, there was some excellent support for specific industries, but obviously this is only good news for a limited number.

Blog supplied by Nick Chowdrey of Crunch Accounting.

Budget support for UK exporters welcomed

March 21, 2014 by Guest

Budget support for exporters welcomed - container ship{{}}It was refreshing to hear that boosting UK exports was top of Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget address this week. For any business serious about scale and accelerating growth, expanding into new markets and territories is key to success.

Recently, CBI reported that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are 11% more likely to survive if they export, yet only 1 in 5 are actually trading outside the UK. The Budget announcement that available export finance will be doubled to £3bn, with interest rates being reduced by a third, is a clear step in the right direction.

As the Chancellor put it, the UK economy is growing faster than any other advanced country right now. But to my mind, a large proportion of this is a direct result of the entrepreneurial growth we’ve seen in the UK across the past few years. The UK government and private sector have both done a great job of putting initiatives in place to stimulate entrepreneurship, but it’s time for us to extend the olive branch even further.

The private sector and large corporations are in a unique position to help in a way the government cannot, for example, by providing access to global business networks that high-growth firms would otherwise have a difficult time accessing.

The global Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, is a great example of how this can be done. It brings together a global group of entrepreneurs with the aim of breaking down some of the barriers to accessing new markets through an annual conference and online network – both aimed at helping to forge cross-border business connections. We need to continue to help businesses at every stage of their growth and by investing in exporting today, we’ll be priming our economy for future growth.

Blog supplied by Sarah Shields, executive director and general manager of consumer, small and medium enterprise, Dell UK

Five things to consider before moving office

March 20, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Five things to consider before moving office/Businesswoman unpacking cartons in office{{}}Are you currently considering whether to move into a new office or are you constantly weighing up the pros and cons of your current location? Before making a move, here are five things to think about.

1 Space

Sitting on your colleagues’ laps may be fun for the first 30 minutes, however, after a while the lack of personal space becomes tedious and it can cramp creativity. Lack of space is often the primary motive for many companies that decide to move. However, choosing the right space is crucial for your future success. Only increase a little and you risk having to go through the whole rigmarole of moving again very shortly, but increase too much and you could land yourself with a monthly bill you’re unable to pay.

2 Resources

Is your internet slower than an asthmatic snail with a bad back? If so, moving to another office with a high-speed connection may provide just the boost you need. For the vast majority of companies, strong, reliable internet is essential, and for many, a poor connection is more than just annoying, it can also cost you money. However, a good internet connection is not the only resource businesses require and many move because of better meeting room facilities, access to parking or even a nicer kitchen.

3 Location, location, location

As TV’s Kirstie and Phil constantly remind us, the key to any successful move is location, location, location. Currently, you may be in what you believe to be the perfect office, however, if it’s in the middle of nowhere and makes your staff’s daily commute impossibly long, it may be time for a change. A business can be made or broken purely on the choice of its location, so choosing the right spot is essential.

4 Great minds think alike

It’s a well-known fact that businesses in a similar sector often converge in similar locations. Moving to an area where you can meet, interact and network with like-minded businesses could prove a fantastic opportunity for you and could potentially open up many new avenues for your business.

5 Is there an alternative?

Technology is changing the way we do business, as is the way we think about office space. Flexible office space has become increasingly popular over the past decade, bringing quality space and high-end tech together in a simple monthly package. Ranging from hot desks to business centres, these hubs now attract start-ups and more established businesses. With many businesses still feeling the pinch, this cost-effective alternative could also prove a useful stepping stone to bigger things. So ask yourself if you really need to take a traditional approach or could your team take advantage of the flexible business hubs that continue to spring up in cities across the UK?

Blog supplied by LondonOffices.com.

Further reading

Posted in Business premises | Tagged Premises | 0 comments

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