Thursday, 11 December 2014

4 Important Elements to measure your Online Marketing Success!

Businesses often wonder if their online marketing is successful.  Here are a few metrics which may help your business measure online marketing success.

1. New Business and Increased Revenue

This is the ultimate sign of a successful marketing campaign. While driving traffic to your site, gaining relevant social media followers and building your base of inbound leads are all steps in the right direction, the main goal is to grow your firm. When you see an increase in new business and revenue from leads which originated online, it’s a safe bet that your online marketing is successful. However, if you aren’t gaining new business opportunities as a result of your marketing efforts, it might be time to re-evaluate. For instance, if you notice an increase in the amount of traffic to your website, but not a higher number of inbound leads, it might be time for a website redesign. Why? Bounced traffic is an indicator that your homepage lacks clarity and/or engaging conversions. Or, if your content is frequently being read and downloaded, but your prospects aren’t taking the next step, you might want to re-evaluate your calls-to-action.

2. Followers and Shares

Before beginning a new marketing campaign, take a moment to track your existing number of followers across each of the social media platforms currently employed. With this knowledge, you will be able to assess the degree to which your latest marketing efforts have increased the firm’s visibility. It is also helpful to know the average number of shares your content generates, as this will tell you which types of content generate the most interest.

3. Website Traffic

A primary goal of online marketing is to drive traffic to your website. It is therefore essential to know what your traffic numbers are prior to any campaign. If your website begins to see more traffic after the initiation of a campaign, this is a good indicator that your marketing efforts are working. Monitor the sources of your inbound traffic to identify the sites or pieces of content that are bringing in the most traffic, and use this information to plan future campaigns.

4. Inbound Leads

The actions your prospects take in reaction to your marketing efforts are one of the best ways to measure your success. When more people reach out to your firm for consultations or fill out contact forms, it’s a sign of a successful campaign. If your list of prospects and influencers is growing, your marketing is doing its job. All of your online activity—from the content you produce, to your social media interactions—should work towards driving more prospects and influencers to reach out to your firm and show interest in your services. Your prospects might show interest by simply sharing their contact information or signing up for a webinar, or they might ask for an appointment to see one of your sales people.

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

4 Steps to execute a Business Plan Effectively!

Failing to plan, plan to fail. We all know this. However, many businesses who create a strategy or business plan fail to execute it to any significant degree. This is because it requires change, commitment, innovation, leadership and numerous other things to align your business in a way that facilitates the execution of your plan.

These 4 steps will help you to successfully execute your business strategy:

Clarify your vision

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Define what the business will look like if your strategy is executed successfully. Develop a summary of that vision and communicate it to all stakeholders. Communication must also be consistent - keep the vision in front of your team and make it a part of their daily lives. People cannot follow you successfully if they don't know where you want to go.

Set goals


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As part of your planning process, you should develop 4 or 5 critical goal categories. Each of these categories should be broken down and given specific goals with due dates, metrics to show progress and the names of the people that are accountable for their completion.

Align systems and people


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This is the step where most businesses encounter trouble with strategy execution, as they do not take the critical step of aligning people and processes to attain their vision. They just assume that the firm will "figure it out". All systems, people, incentives and business processes must be aligned with the new strategy. People must understand what they need to do and how their role affects successful execution of the strategy. They must get help in establishing priorities on what to do, as well as what not to do, to ensure that the overall strategy doesn't get lost in the day-to-day.



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The business should hold annual reviews of their current strategy and how outside forces have impacted on it. The aim of the review should be to determine whether the strategy is still valid, whether the firm is making adequate progress and what customers think. Strategy execution doesn't just happen; it must be driven with the same commitment that built the business in the first place.

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Managing Difficult Employees

Effectively managing hard employees can be a challenging prospect. Whether it is the employee who is consistently late, who complains incessantly or who seems to constantly upset their co-workers, every company must deal with difficult employees.

These situations drain management's time and energy, impact on the morale of co-workers and interfere with overall workplace productivity. The key to effectively addressing such situations begins with an understanding of the issues and a clear identification of the actual source of the problem.

Even the best employee can have an off-day (or week, or month). Before deciding if an employee is difficult, managers must first step back and neutrally assess the situation. The first question to ask is whether the behaviour is critical enough to implement a formal HR process. Another important concept to consider is that ‘different’ does not equal ‘difficult’. There will always be employees that a manager does not gel with, understand or even like. However, this is not enough to deem an employee difficult. To constitute a "difficult employee", behaviour must exceed acceptable standards, policies and procedures or interfere with productivity.

Define the Problem

When addressing the problems created by difficult employees, the focus should always be on job performance. It is management's duty to clearly explain why the issue is a problem, and how the problem is adversely impacting the company. At this stage it may be useful to refer to the employee's job description and the company handbook.

Clarify Roles

It is important that both the manager and employee are absolutely clear on individual roles. The manager's role is to ensure business success by leading, coaching and supporting employees. The employee's role is to meet predefined performance and behaviour standards, and function as a cooperative team member. A key concept that employees must grasp is that it is not only the level of their performance that is important, but also how their performance affects the functioning of their team, department and the company overall.

Identify Expectations

This is where the manager should clarify four things – the employee’s performance, responsibilities, impact of their behaviour and the consequences if it doesn’t change. A follow up and ongoing review should be scheduled and regular updates between the manager and the employee will help to move things forward and get the employee back on track.

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Saturday, 6 December 2014

Autumn Statement 2014: Surprise Announcements - What you need to know!

Autumn Statement 2014: surprise announcements on restriction of Entrepreneur's Relief on incorporation and new Stamp Duty Banding.
Income Tax
Personal allowance increased to £10,600 for 2015/16 (a £100 increase on the previously stated £10.500).
Higher rate threshold to be increased to £42,385 from April 2015.
NI upper earnings and upper profit limits will increase in line with the higher rate threshold
Confirmed no changes to come into effect before April 2017, relating to restricting the personal allowance for non-residents.  Any changes will be subject to further consultation.

Remittance Basis
In the next Parliament, the remittance charge for non-UK domiciled individuals is set to increase for longer UK residence. The basic charge of £30,000 will remain unchanged, but for non-doms who have been resident in the UK for 12 out of the past 14 years, it will be increased to £60,000, and for those UK resident for 17 of the previous 20 years, it will increase to £90,000.
From April 2015, the 55% tax charge on inherited pensions is withdrawn, allowing unused pension pots to be passed on tax free.
Joint life or guaranteed term annuities will also be able to be passed on tax free where death occurs before age 75.
Corporation Tax
Creative sector reliefs
Reliefs extended to include a new children’s TC tax relief from April 2015.
Consultation announced to introduce a new orchestra relief from April 2016.
R&D Relief
Tax credit for small and medium companies increased from 225% to 230% and the credit will be increased from 10% to 11% from 1 April 2015.
From 1 April 2015, the costs of materials incorporated in products that are sold will be excluded from relief.
New advanced assurance scheme to be introduced for small businesses making their first claim and new guidance to be developed.
Employers and employees
Government to review the use of employment intermediaries ‘umbrella companies’ with a view to introducing possible counteraction measures in Budget 2015.
In addition to the removal of NIC’s form under 21’s from April 2015, with effect from April 2016, employers will not have to pay NI contributions for apprentices aged under 25 earning up to the Upper Earnings Limit.
From April 2015 the £2,000 annual NI ‘Employment Allowance’ is extended to households that employ care and support workers.
Proposals to introduce a new form of employee shareholding vehicle in order to reduce the costs for employee controlled companies have been shelved for the time being. Consultation revealed a lack of interest amongst employers and share scheme specialists. Plans to change the definition of marketable securities have also gone back to the drawing board.
Capital Gains Tax
NEW – Entrepreneurs Relief (ER) will no longer be available on the disposal of goodwill on transfer of a business to a related close company (incorporation). The measure has effect for transfers on or after 3 December 2014.
ER will now be allowed where a qualifying gain, which has been deferred into investments qualifying for Enterprise Investment Relief (EIS) and Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR), is subsequently realised.
Stamp Duty
NEW - Significant changes to the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) regime
The old rules whereby the rate of SDLT would be determined by the purchase price of the property and applied to it in full (known as the ‘slab’ system) has been abolished with effect from 4 December 2014.
The new rules introduce a banding system whereby the SDLT is determined by the rate applicable to the amount of the overall purchase price which falls within a given band (akin to the current income tax system)
The new bandings and rates are;
0 -125,000
125,001 – 250,000
250,001 – 925,000
925,001 -1,550,000
1,500,001 and over
Transitional provisions are in place where contracts have been exchanged but not completed, which allow the purchaser to choose whether to apply the old or new rules.

Enveloped properties
From 1 April 2015 the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) will be increased;
£20m and over
From April 2015, search and rescue and air ambulance charities will be eligible for VAT refunds, and hospice charities will also receive refunds for VAT incurred.
Inheritance Tax
The government will not introduce a single settlement nil-rate band for trusts, but will target avoidance through the use of multiple trusts in Finance Bill 2015.
IHT exemption for members of armed forces extended to members of emergency services and humanitarian aid workers responding to emergency situations.
ISA limit increased to £15,240 with effect from April 2015.Junior ISA and Child Trust Fund limits increased to £4,080.
From 3 December 2014, an ISA holder can pass their ISA benefit to their spouse or civil partner on death. The additional ISA allowance will be equal to the value of the savers ISA holdings at the date of their death. This is in addition to thesurvivor’s own normal ISA limits.
Business Rates
‘High street discount’ increased from £1,000 to £1,500 from April 2015 to March 2016.
Small Business Rate Relief doubled for a further year.
Check these resources for more information:

Friday, 5 December 2014

VAT “Mini One Stop Shop” (MOSS) for digital services to consumers in the EU

Has/Is your business supplied/supplying digital services to consumers in the EU?

There is a very important change in the VAT place of supply rules for businesses supplying digital services to consumers (B2C). From 01 January 2015, the place of supply for digital services will be where the customer belongs, instead of the current rule (where the supplier belongs). Digital services include telecoms, satellite TV, the downloading of computer software, music, books and manuals.

From 1 January 2015 there are new place of supply rules for value added tax (VAT) on the supply of digital services by businesses to consumers in the EU.

As a UK trader, you will need to identify where in the EU your non-business customer is located and apply the VAT rate for that country, instead of UK VAT. The customer’s location will be where the consumer is established, has their permanent address or usually resides. 

The VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) has been introduced to save these businesses from having to register for VAT in every EU Member State in which they supply their services.

Businesses can now register for the online service from 20 October 2014. Registration for the service has to be carried out by the business itself. Once registered, you can authorise us as your agent to act on your behalf for VAT MOSS.

To know more details, Register for and use the VAT Mini One Stop Shop, check these links below

If you have any queries, post them as comments below.
Contact us to know more on these changes and what changes you need to make to your small business!
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Thursday, 4 December 2014

HMRC Credit Card Sales Campaign

HMRC's latest disclosure campaign is aimed at traders who accept payments by debit and credit cards but who haven’t declared all transactions. The Credit Card Sales campaign provides an opportunity for individuals and companies accepting debit and credit cards (but have not reflected all transactions in their tax return) to bring their affairs up to date in a simple, straightforward way and take advantage of the best possible terms.

You can use this if:
  • you accept card payments for goods or service
  • you haven’t declared all your UK tax liabilities

Traders wishing to use the scheme must first notify HMRC. They will then have 4 months from the date they receive HMRC's acknowledgement of notification to make a disclosure and pay any tax due. If, however, you do not come forward and HMRC finds later that you are behind with your tax, it may be harder to convince them that it was not a deliberate act. The law allows HMRC to go back up to 20 years and in serious cases HMRC may carry out a criminal investigation.

HMRC is targeting tax evasion through Debit and Credit Card Sales and will use information it holds on its digital intelligence systems to identify taxpayers who might not have declared all their income. Where additional taxes are due, HMRC will usually charge higher penalties than those available under the Credit Card Sales campaign.

For more information and source

Please contact us if you have more questions or need expert Tax assistance!

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

New Tax Relief For Investment In Social Enterprise!

HMRC's Social Investment Tax Relief scheme (SITR) introduced this year helps individuals support social enterprises, giving these enterprises access to new sources of finance.

SITR helps social enterprises raise finance by offering tax relief to individual investors.

The new relief provides the investor with a deduction from their tax liability, equal to 30% of the amount invested. A £10,000 loan to a qualifying social enterprise would therefore allow an individual to reduce his income tax liability by £3,000.

The relief is available for qualifying investments made on or after 6 April 2014. A social enterprise is a commercial business that helps people or communities. It may be a charity or community interest company.

The social enterprise can make sure they (and the proposed investments) qualify by sending an advance assurance application to HMRC.

Resources about SITR from HMRC:
Guidance for social enterprises
Eligibility and the conditions social enterprises must meet so investors can claim SITR

Guidance for investors
Conditions investors must meet before claiming SITR

Get approval if you're a social enterprise
What social enterprises need to do to get approval from HMRC

How to claim tax relief if you're an investor
What investors need to do and when to claim SITR

Form: SITR Compliance Statement
Social enterprises must use this form to request authority to issue Compliance Certificates to investors

Policy on Social Investment Tax Relief (Opens new window)
How SITR will help grow the social investment market

Post your questions on SITR or other Tax Relief options and we'll help you.

No Loss Relief For Non-Commercial Business!

A recent case before the Tax Tribunal reminds us that HMRC has set that in order to set a trading loss sideways against other income, the business must be commercial one with the intention to make profit against general income.

The case in question relates to Ms Thorne, who ran an equestrian business and another business growing asparagus.  HMRC has disputes on whether the trade had been carried out on a commercial basis with a view to the realisation of profits.  The self-employment pages of her tax return showed a single composite business, which incurred an overall trading loss. The equestrian business was unlikely to make a profit and was clearly a hobby. However, the asparagus business was in its early stages; it is widely accepted that it can take up to three years before a significant crop is produced. Had separate accounts been prepared for the asparagus business, loss relief would likely have been available, as it could be argued that the venture was being carried out on a commercial basis with a view to making a profit.

Check this Working sheet from HMRC Losses HelpSheet

If your business makes losses in the first few years, we can help to ensure the availability of relief by helping you prepare forecasts and a business plan, demonstrating that the business is being carried out on a commercial basis with a view to making a profit.

If you have made a loss in your business/trade or are entitled to a share of the loss made by a partnership of which you are a member, check this HMRC Losses HelpSheet for more details

Collection Of Unpaid Tax Through Your Tax Code!

Currently, HM Revenue & Customs can collect tax debts of up to £3,000 by adjusting your Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax code. HMRC refers to this as ‘coding out’. The effect of this is to recover the debt from your income, by increasing the amount deducted from your income during the tax year.

This applies if you have a debt with HMRC and:
are an employee paying tax through (PAYE), and/or
receive a taxable UK-based private pension

HMRC are now increasing the amount of debt that can be recovered through your tax code if your annual earnings are £30,000 or more. To do this, HMRC will apply a sliding scale to your main PAYE income. The maximum amount that can be coded out is being increased to £17,000 (where earnings exceed £90,000 a year).

These changes will only apply to underpaid Self-Assessment and Class 2 National Insurance debts and Tax Credit overpayments. Changes will be reflected in your 2015-16 tax code and we will write to you before we collect any debts through your PAYE code from April 2015.

If your earnings are less than £30,000, there’s no change. Check the table below if your earnings are above £30,000 & its coding out limits from HMRC website:

More information on this at Collecting overdue tax through your tax code: changes to the amount HMRC can collect

Coding out the unpaid 2013/14 tax is only possible if you submitted your paper tax return by 31 October 2014 or file your tax return online by 30 December 2014.

If you have any queries, post them as comments below.

Contact us to know more on these changes and what changes you need to make to your small business!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Managing Your Time Effectively —Is The Route To Your Success

We’re almost approaching the end of 2014. What have you got done this year, and what will you get done during 2015?
I must confess, I used to be terrible at managing my time. And even now, whilst I manage my time fiercely, I still have to work at it. There’s no short cut. It takes real discipline to ruthlessly manage your time. However, what I do know is that there is a VERY high correlation between success and how well a business owner manages their time. Ultimately, the more you get done, the more successful you’ll be. Of course, you can be a busy fool. But the more time you give yourself to improve your business, your own development and the people around you—the more successful you’ll be.
But time is ALWAYS against you. Don’t you feel that the older you get, the quicker time passes? I’m not sure why this is, but each year seems to pass more quickly than the previous one. The days, weeks and months seem to roll into one, and before you know it 6 months have passed. You’re left wondering, ‘Where did thetime go?
Now that’s okay as long as you plan your year out AND manage your time ruthlessly. However, most people spend more time planning their holidays than planning THEIR YEAR AHEAD. 

If you plan - you get more done, much more done. If you fail to plan and set goals, it’s surprising how little you’ll accomplish.
All the high achievers and successful people in this world identify planning and goal-setting as a major contributor to their success. 
Why? Because in addition to giving them a clear roadmap, it also helps them plan their daily/weekly/monthly schedules, and effective management of time enables them to get more work done in a week than most other people get done in a month.
Now, I’m not going to spend any time talking about goal-setting (I’ve covered this before), but what I’d like to talk about are a few proven tips and strategies I’ve learned along the way, which have made me “one of the most prolific ‘work machines’ on the planet” (not my own words!). I promise you, getting stuff done is a crucial skill you can learn—but one that will ensure you reach your goals and dreams quicker than you ever thought possible. But mark my words…
None of this is easy. You have to be selfish with your time. People around you will NOT like it (until you’ve ‘trained’ them in your new ways). You’ll find it easy to slip back into your bad habits, but you must fight, and fight hard, to stay the course. Of all the main attributes surrounding success, managing your time effectively, whilst not easy to do, is certainly one of the easiest to acquire and develop.  
It’s also something that isn’t often associated with growing a business, but effective
management of your time is a very potent weapon (and, conversely, poor management of time can be a real business growth inhibitor).
The good news is that you can significantly improve your output if you follow my simple ‘5 Key Time-Management Tips For High Performers’. 

So here are my key Time-Management Tips:
Planning: Plan each month and then each week and then each day based on your goals.
The key here is to establish what you need to do each month to accomplish your goals.
Then break these tasks down to weekly and then daily tasks.  You must always prioritise these ‘goal-orientated tasks’ before ‘general tasks’.
You’re probably thinking—this will take a lot of thought and time to plan out. You’re right. It does. That’s why so few people do it. That’s why so few people succeed in life.
Do not underestimate the power of carrying out this first step—it is the key to your success.
Work During Your High-Performance Times: You’ll get much more done in times when your body is alert and active.
For me, this time is 5.30am-1pm and 8pm-11pm (but you’ll know when you’re at your best).  The worst times are generally after eating! My performance drops significantly after lunch. So I do all my writing in the mornings and other less important work in the afternoons.
It’s during these high-performance times that you should carry out your ‘Goal-Orientated Tasks’.  This one step alone will improve your output significantly—so make sure you only allocate this time to the important tasks!
Use the less productive times for ‘general tasks’ and meetings.
Here’s why using your high-performance time is so important…
1. Since our minds are more active and fresh, we can get more done.
2. Concentrating on the task at hand is much easier.
3. Our creative juices are flowing when our minds are more active and alert.
Block Out Your High-Performance Times: Next, make sure you block out your high-performance times and under no circumstances let other things get in the way.
Again, this is key to your success. Treat your high-performance times as compulsory appointments (in other words, you can’t cancel them).
If you have a secretary or PA, make sure they understand these ‘appointments’ are never to be broken and replaced with anything else.
Resist All Distractions: During your high-performance times, turn off your mobile, take your office phone off the hook and don’t open your e-mail programme.
Even one interruption can set you back an extra 15-30 minutes, not including the time of the interruption.
This does take a high level of discipline. In the early days you’ll find the temptation of leaving your phone or e-mail programme on hard to resist, but I promise you, if you cave in, this will slash your effectiveness by at least 50%.
Once you force yourself to reduce your distractions to zero, you’ll find it very liberating!
For example, as I’m writing this newsletter, it’s 8.52am. My phone is turned off. My e-mail is turned off. I am NOT contactable by anyone (not even my wife, no matter how hard she tries! - although now ‘she gets it’ so doesn’t bother). 
Seriously, this one discipline will make a massive difference to how much work you get done. Not one in 100,000 people have the mindset to do this, so mastering it will put you on a productivity level way above 98% of people around the globe.
Tell Staff (and Family): You must explain to staff and family that, unless it’s an emergency, you are not to be disturbed during your high-performance times.
If your wife (or husband) is anything like mine, it will take time for them to realize you’re serious about this. Helen didn’t even think she used to interrupt me, so every time she did, I made a note of it. That did the trick!!   
By adhering to these 5 key time-management tips, I guarantee you’ll get so much more done. This translates to greater income and more success.
The important thing is to discipline yourself. If it was easy to do these things, everyone would be doing them. The fact is, most people lack real discipline. And getting a high volume of stuff done requires real discipline. You can do it if you put your mind to it. But you have to work hard at it!