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Why you need to switch off your mobile phone while driving

March 04, 2015 by Guest contributor

Why you need to switch off your mobile phone while driving{{}}At the beginning of the year, a motorist from the Isle of Wight was given a six-year jail sentence after being found guilty of causing a fatal crash. The court heard the 27-year-old driver had been checking a text message from his wife on his mobile phone when he drifted onto the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with another vehicle.

Sadly, this case isn’t isolated. A recent report from road safety charity BRAKE found that drivers speaking on mobile phones, whether on a hands-free or hand-held device, are four times more likely to be involved in a crash that causes injury. Moreover, their risk of crashing remained higher than normal for up to 10 minutes after the call has ended.

Smartphone addiction

As for drivers reading or writing messages such as texts or emails, they’re 23 times more likely to crash than a motorist paying full attention. And all this comes at a time when UK experts have warned we’re seeing increased levels of smartphone addiction, something that many small-business owners can relate to.

Of course, it’s not just the most tragic of cases that could affect you if you own a small business. Imagine, for a second, that you lost your licence after accruing too many points. The effects of such a ban can be disastrous. Whether you’re a plumber, an architect or a florist, the majority of business owners rely on their vehicle to do their job. Without it, most businesses would undoubtedly suffer a serious loss in income, as well as reputation.

Small-business owners also have a legal responsibility to ensure that employees don’t use their mobiles while driving. This can include anything from turning an alarm off to checking Twitter. A sobering thought.

Three top tips

There are solutions though. Here are my three top tips for being safe on the road:

1 Switch off and divert calls

For those who have a colleague they can divert their calls to, this can be a simple solution. Don’t compromise on the quality of your response though. Make sure that whoever answers your calls is doing so in a professional and friendly manner. If, however, you work alone, activate your voicemail and switch off your mobile entirely. While not ideal from a business perspective, doing so will at least ensure you’re free from distractions.

2 Disable your mobile

Technology to disable certain smartphone functions – such as making calls or sending text messages – is now filtering its way into the UK. Apps such as No Text and Drive and iTextGuard can sense when you’re travelling over a certain speed and will automatically prevent you from sending a message. Likewise, The Safe Drive App goes one step further and prohibits incoming and outgoing calls, internet browsing and other functions, while still allowing you to make emergency calls.

3 Use a call answering provider

This is a particularly popular option for sole traders or businesses that don’t have full-time employees to whom calls can be directed. Select a provider that can offer flexibility and reliability, as well as represent your business to the high standard that you would yourself, then you can drive with peace of mind, eyes on the road, hands on the wheel with your business all taken care of.

Ultimately, safety has to be your priority. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked. A business deal to die for? I don’t think so.

Copyright © 2015 Jon Williams, client support manager for call-answering service provider Moneypenny.

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A guide to limited company addresses

February 24, 2015 by Guest contributor

A guide to limited company addresses{{}}There are several types of addresses associated with limited company formation, some are legally required and others are optional.

The most important ones are the registered office and service address, both of which Companies House request during the incorporation process. Directors must also provide their residential address, but this information will remain private unless a home address is used for registered office or service address purposes.

Regarding optional company addresses: you may use a SAIL address (explained below), a business address and a trading address. They all sound like ‘much of a muchness’, but they serve very different purposes.

Registered office

This is the official ‘headquarters’ of a limited company. Details are placed on public record and are primarily used to receive mail from Companies House and HMRC, as well as being the required inspection location for statutory company records.

Any type of physical postal address can be used, with the exception of PO Box numbers, as long as the address is located in the same jurisdiction in which the company has been incorporated (England/Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland).

Residential addresses are permitted but, due to public disclosure of this information, non-residential addresses are more suitable in terms of privacy and professionalism.

Directors’ service address

This is the official contact address for company directors, to where their statutory mail is delivered. It can be any physical postal address in the UK or overseas. Residential addresses can be used but, again, this information will be available to anyone with access to a computer and internet connection.

SAIL address

A SAIL (single alternative inspection location) address is an optional address where a company can keep some or all of its statutory records for inspection purposes. This can be ideal if your registered office is not conveniently placed for inspection purposes or you use your home address as a registered office and you don’t want strangers coming into your house. It’s usually just HMRC that asks to inspect company records but, nevertheless, some of us are a bit funny like that.

Business address

This is a professional contact address that you can give to clients, suppliers, service providers, banks and other contacts. You can use any address you like, in fact, you can have multiple business addresses if you want to establish and grow your business in different parts of the UK or overseas. Unlike a registered office, a business address doesn’t have to geographically restrict your company to one place.

Trading address

This is exactly what you think it is – the place where your main business activities are conducted. It’s also where most businesses keep their stock, equipment and assets. There is no need to disclose this address to anyone, unless it is the same as one of the aforementioned company addresses. 

Copyright © 2015 Graeme Donnelly, CEO of company formation agents 1st Formations Ltd. You can follow 1st Formations on Twitter.

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How to open a business bank account as a non-UK resident

February 16, 2015 by Guest contributor

How to open a business bank account as a non-UK resident {{}}While it’s easy for a non-UK resident to register a limited company in the UK, opening a business bank account is a little more complicated. It is not a legal requirement to have a separate bank account for your limited company but it is an absolute necessity from a practical standpoint – without a business bank account, it will become increasingly challenging to manage your accounting records and distinguish your personal finances from your company’s finances. It’s far easier to avoid accounting errors than it is to rectify them.

There are a couple of feasible options for non-UK residents: you may be eligible for a business bank account in the UK from Lloyds Bank or Barclays International; or you could open an overseas bank account by having your company formation documents legalized.

Business bank accounts from Lloyds and Barclays International

Banks conduct routine credit checks on all business bank account applicants to verify their suitability. These checks require photographic ID and proof of a UK address, both of which must be presented in person. Lloyds Bank may allow you to open an account if at least one of the account signatories lives in the UK. Barclays International may offer you an account if you can provide an initial security deposit.

  • Lloyds Bank

Suitable for limited companies with at least one UK-resident director. Applications can be made online or by telephone. The UK director must present photographic ID and proof-of-address documentation in a Lloyds branch. Overseas company owners and account signatories must send copies of their photographic ID and proof-of-address documents.

  • HSBC

Suitable for limited companies registered in the UK with all non-UK resident shareholders and directors. To satisfy the requirements of the bank, the shareholders of the company must travel to the UK to meet with an HSBC representative.

  • Barclays International

Suitable for companies with no UK-resident directors or shareholders. Applications must be made through Barclays International in the Isle of Man. In most cases, a deposit of £10,000 is required for the first month after account activation.

Legalising company documents for a non-UK bank account

UK public documents can be legalised by a UK public official to confirm their authenticity for official use in any county that is party to the 1961 Hague Convention. Once legalised, an Apostille Certificate will be issued to prove the genuineness of each document.

If you wish to open a business bank account in your country of residence, you will have to obtain an Apostille for your Certificate of Incorporation and the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Overseas banks and authorities will require these certificates as evidence of the legal existence of your UK company.

You can get these documents legalised by a Notary (ie a qualified lawyer specialising in Notarial Practice) who will sign your company documents and liaise with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to obtain the Apostille Certificates. Alternatively, you can apply online through the Legislation Office.

Copyright © 2015 James Howell, ACCA accountant and company director at Rapid Formations Ltd. Follow Rapid Formations on Twitter.

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The EU’s pot of gold for small innovative businesses

February 09, 2015 by Guest contributor

The EU’s pot of gold for small innovative businesses{{}}

Start-ups in the UK are booming, with Tech City now the third-largest technology start-up cluster in the world after San Francisco and New York. Start-ups also provide the main source of recovery growth in the UK and Europe. The European Commission knows this and has set aside billions of Euros for innovative small businesses. However, very few businesses in the UK seem to know about this pot of gold.

The EU’s new research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, was launched last year and has €80bn to spend over seven years. Some 15-20% of this is earmarked for innovative businesses, either on their own or in collaborations with universities and other businesses. The grants are prestigious and can open doors, as a House of Lords report noted: “We believe that EU R&I programmes represent an excellent financial and networking opportunity for UK businesses”.

Funding for SMEs

The Horizon 2020 ‘SME instrument’ will provide €3bn over the next seven years to small and medium-sized businesses that develop products and services. This covers everything from feasibility assessment (€50k grants), to development and demonstration (up to €2.5m) and then access assistance to risk capital.

The €100m ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ pilot opened in January 2015. Frustratingly, you won’t find Horizon 2020 opportunities on Innovate UK’s main funding page; they are displayed through a separate resource centre called Horizon 2020 UK.

A much broader source of money opens up if you collaborate. The Eurostars programme, which boosts competitiveness and open markets, is for groups of innovative small businesses. However, the lion’s share of Horizon 2020 funds is available for big multi-national collaborations of universities and small businesses teaming to deliver solutions to societal challenges. More than 70% of projects funded so far have at least one SME partner.

Finding partners

To enter such collaborations you need to be in networks that enable you to find the right partners. If they have previous experience, that helps a lot. One such network is the Vision2020 Horizon network, which I work with. It has nearly 40 universities and more than 100 SMEs, all seeking to cluster into groups to target Horizon 2020 funding. Another network is the Enterprise Europe Network. EU grants and University-business networks are a great way to put booster rockets on your innovative start-up.

Copyright © 2015 Dr Mike Galsworthy. Mike is a consultant in research and innovation policy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Posted in Financing a business | Tagged Funding, EU | 0 comments

Europe’s largest student entrepreneur event comes to Liverpool

January 31, 2015 by Guest contributor

Europe’s largest student entrepreneur event comes to Liverpool{{}}More than 800 students will be in Liverpool this weekend to attend the Student Enterprise Conference 2015, which is hosted by the National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) and supported (for the second year) by Santander.

At the conference, which will take place at Liverpool John Moore’s University’s Redmonds Building in the city centre, students will be able to meet some of the UK's most innovative entrepreneurs and businesses, including 2014 BBC Apprentice candidate Ella Jade Bitton and Julien Callede, founder and COO of Made.com.

Exciting and successful

NACUE chief executive, Johnny Luk, comments: "We work with thousands of students every year and they increasingly want to create something that leaves a mark. We're giving young people the opportunity to engage with not only experienced entrepreneurs and business experts, but some of the most exciting and successful companies of today."

The conference is now in its sixth year and it has grown to be the biggest of its kind in Europe, say its organisers, “bringing together students and graduates from colleges and universities across the UK for a weekend of inspiration, discovery, networking and practical workshops. Whether they are launching a business, in an entrepreneurial society or just looking to meet like-minded students, this event has something for everyone,” they promise.

Supporting student entrepreneurs

Research carried out by YouthSight on behalf of Santander suggests that about 80,000 UK university students run businesses and a quarter of them plans to turn their business into a career when they graduate. Simon Bray, director of Santander Universities UK, says: "It's so important to support and encourage entrepreneurship – especially among young people. Student entrepreneurs are key to the growth and prosperity of our economy and many of them will innovate, define and lead our future."

Banco Santander, through the Santander Universities Division, maintains almost 1,200 collaboration agreements with universities and research centres all over the world. Since 1996, Santander Universities has been the focus of the Bank's social action with an investment of more than €1 billion in various initiatives and university projects. In 2014, the Bank invested €130 million to support higher education.

Santander Universities was introduced in the UK in 2007 and the bank is already collaborating with 77 British Universities and Higher Education Institutions, with agreements focused on promoting international exchange, entrepreneurial activities and the mobility of students and researchers within the network.

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Seven key lessons for new entrepreneurs

January 28, 2015 by Guest contributor

Seven key lessons for new entrepreneurs{{}}Intended to help you if you have recently started your own business or currently work for someone else and you’re seriously considering it, here are seven key lessons I’ve learnt in my 20-year career in technology and communications, a journey that has taken me from more junior level to senior corporate positions to CEO of my own successful business.

1 Despise the 9-5 working day. If you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re learning – keep going. Working for yourself often means making sacrifices and having to work long, hard days is often par for the course. But don’t be a martyr. Don’t neglect your family or miss important family moments or events – they won’t come around again.

2 Learn from bad bosses. Many of us will have had them and you can learn much from their shortcomings. This can help you later on when you become an employer. Don’t normalise poor management or their unhealthy habits; it can prove very harmful when running your own business.

3 Don’t compromise your values. Values are important in business. If you think something is unacceptable, it probably is, so don’t do it.

4 Don’t be afraid of new ideas. Avoid the ‘but it’s always been done that way’ mindset. Be prepared to challenge established thinking; look for new ideas that will enable your business to be more successful. Bounce your ideas off people close to you who you can trust. And if you’re currently working for someone else but have an original idea you plan to turn into a new business, be very careful about whom you share your ideas with.

5 Know the difference between tenacity and insanity. Nobody likes a quitter, but, equally, being successful at failure doesn’t help anyone. Set goals and judge your performance against them. Avoid deceiving yourself.

6 Embrace brick walls. Sometimes brick walls are big red warning signs that you’d be foolish to ignore. Ask yourself why there is a brick wall or even if the brick wall is really there. Breaking through such barriers is part and parcel of being an entrepreneur, but if you see more brick walls than opportunities, starting your own business might not be the best option for you, at least for the time being.

7 Overnight success stories are rare. When I came up with the idea for Compare Cloudware, the market wasn’t ready, so it was incubated for about a year so I could concentrate on creating a robust business model. After that, a visual concept was developed, followed by a working model, then a minimum viable product (MVP), then, finally, something I was ready to share with investors. I only gave up my day job once I had an MVP. I learned this diligence in my previous corporate life and getting to grips with large projects has also proved invaluable. So be eager to learn, but show patience when it comes to ideas that need cultivating and stress-testing.

Copyright © 2015 Gary Gould, CEO of Compare Cloudware, one of the first comparison sites for cloud applications. 

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