Piggybank News

February 4, 2013

5 Top Tips for a good start to 2013

Christmas and the New Year are now firmly behind us and hopefully you have also by now managed to get over the post holiday build up  of “stuff” that we always seem to be afflicted with.  Here’s a list of five ways to finish your New Year tidy up and prepare for a productively busy 2013.

1. Clean Out Your Email

If you are a hoarder, it’s time to clean out that inbox and start fresh. File away or archive emails that are important. Only leave emails in your inbox that require specific action. You may be surprised at what you find. There may even be opportunities you missed earlier in the year. Delete everything else. Be efficient and brutal about clearing out the tasks. If you didn’t look at it for more than three months, and you still can’t deal with the issue, then it’s probably not that important. If you are left with more than 35 emails in your inbox then it’s probably time to consider a personal assistant.

2. Sort Through Your Facebook Friends

Hint: If you don’t know who they are and how you met them then they aren’t really friends. One of the reasons you can’t keep up with the news-feed is that too many people are posting things you don’t care about. It was fun at first to connect with everyone. Now it’s just noise. Make Facebook a useful personal tool again by reducing your friend list to people who are truly important in your life. Leave the biz networking to LinkedIn and the news-sharing to Twitter. Then you can keep up and enjoy the personal sharing on Facebook. Yes, of course, someone may be upset that they were un-friended. But heck, they didn’t consider your feelings of annoyance every time they asked you to join Farmville.

3. Sort Out Your LinkedIn

Go through your list, look at the profiles and identify 10 specific people who can actually help you with your desired objectives. Send each of them a  New Year greeting and begin a conversation. Sort through your Groups and eliminate the ones that no longer support your interests. Reduce all your group digest mailings to once a week to unclutter your daily email.

4. Clean Your Desk

Even people who happily tolerate clutter will benefit from a freshly cleaned workspace. Every time I sort through the stacks on my desk I find papers/coupons/receipts that have long been dealt with or expired. Move as much paperwork to electronic filing as possible.  Electronic banking, faxes, and signatures can make paper almost disappear from your filing system if carefully planned and if you stop printing every important email. You’ll clear your view, your mind, and might even save a tree or two.

5. Set Your Top 5 Priorities for Q1

Start the year with clear purpose. Take a few hours to identify the five priorities that will advance your journey this year. Write out your top five initiatives for the next three months and post them on the wall by your desk. Take a picture and make it the home screen on your smart phone. Post them on your mirror and by your computer monitor.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly these items will get accomplished. As Napoleon Hill said, ” What the mind of man can see and believe, it can achieve.”



October 3, 2012

Lloyds TSB Commercial – Economic presentation

For those of you that didn’t manage to attend theMilton Keynes Property Forum 2012 on 28 September 2012 arranged by Lloyds TSB Commercial, I would like to circulate the economic presentation given by David Page, Lloyds TSB’s Senior Chief Senior Economist.  Interesting reading!


July 24, 2012

3 Top Tips for Negotiation

These  tips were initially written for Property Investors but they are just as true for other business negotiations.

1. Set your rules.

Many people likely have a set of rules or values that they just won’t compromise. If you find negotiations breaking your rules and going against your values, it may not be worth negotiating.

2. Ask.

Don’t be afraid to aim high but do not make any ultimatums.  If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

3. Be willing to compromise.

Expect to make compromises and plan what terms you are willing to compromise on. Even if the first offer is better than you’d hoped for, do not take it. Take time to “think about it” or make a minor change back.  If you accept the first offer they might not feel good about the deal they made with you.  Everyone wants to negotiate and feel they got a good deal.

With thanks to:
“Top 10 Negotiation Techniques for Buyers and Sellers: Tips for Negotiating Real Estate”, By Wendy Patton

July 10, 2012

Tax relief from using your home as an office.

Many landlords and small businesses run from a home office but fail to claim business expenses for things like phone and broadband, energy bills, council tax, repairs and maintenance.  They may be worried about triggering a capital gains tax bill when they move house or that they will be asked to seek planning consent for using a domestic premises for commercial purposes.

However, HM Revenue & Customs guidance suggests that this is a perfectly valid expense to claim provided the rules are followed.  Claims of under £200 should not attract any questions at all but for claims above this level you may be asked to provide supporting evidence such as bills and receipts.

Rather than claiming for a specific room set aside for business we have been advised that it is best to work out the average number of hours each week that several rooms are used for business – maybe three hours a day for the spare bedroom as an office and a couple of hours for business meetings in the living room.  Work out what proportion of the week this is and what proportion of your property size is involved.  This will give you a percentage of your bills which can reasonably be claimed as business related expenditure. Put the total into your tax return as ‘Other expenses’ and deduct the amount from profits to cut the tax paid.

(Piggy says “Never forget to check your tax return with a properly qualified person to ensure that you are claiming any reliefs you are entitled to correctly.”)

March 20, 2012

Business Energy Price Cuts announced

The Utility Warehouse Discount Club recently cut energy prices for residential customers. They have now announced that they will shortly be reducing electricity prices for Business Club members by up to 6.7%.

The new tariffs come into effect on 1 April 2012. The tariff guide can be downloaded here.

Businesses wishing to subscribe to the new lower tariff should contact us.

March 13, 2012

Change in Tax Rules for Holiday Lets

In a recent case, the tax tribunal dismissed HMRC‘s argument that furnished holiday lets should be categorised with other buy-to-let and rental properties, which attract 40% inheritance tax on the owner’s death.  Instead they ruled that it should be deemed a business. This means that owners of holiday homes who let them out will be able to claim business property relief and reduce their Inheritance Tax bills.

Stephen Barratt, private client director at accountants James Cowper, said  “While HMRC can be expected to take their arguments to the Upper Tier Tribunal, as it stands the decision is good news and could open the door to a flood of claimants who have been awaiting the verdict. It could also give people greater certainty in planning their affairs.”

This ruling is in contrast to the case for to buy-to-let properties which are not treated as businesses for tax purposes.

January 31, 2012

How to attract new clients with Testamonials

A good testimonial lets your satisfied customers do the talking for you and your business. The more genuine the testimonial looks the more convincing it will be so if possible, include the customer’s photograph, their real name, position within their company and location.

 SuccessTrack Founder Jonathan Jay recommends you ask customers to go into detail about how the product or service has improved or benefited their lives.

“You need testimonials that give sufficient detail. For example, someone might go on an investment training course and they might say: ‘When I first came on your investment training course I was £5,000 in debt. However, after using the advice I am now £10,000 in credit – after paying off all my credit cards – and I now have a bright future ahead of me because I now know that I’m in control of my financial destiny.’ That’s good whereas a testimonial that just says, ‘Fantastic!’ – is not so good.

“You need to build up the layers of detail. A testimonial that just says: ‘This product is absolutely brilliant’ with the person’s initials underneath, is not very powerful. The business owner should have asked for the testimonial and explained it was going to be used on their website and in their marketing material and was going to be read by other people.”

Most people don’t use testimonials effectively and therefore they don’t see the impact they can have, says Jay. “They don’t even see the necessity of collecting testimonials from clients. But if you get the right testimonials from the right people, it builds respect, prestige and your professionalism. It elevates you in the eyes of the person reading the testimonial. They say, ‘Well, if this person says she’s good – she must be good!’ (more…)

December 28, 2011

How to protect your cashflow.

Practical Finance tips for tough times.

Business Link are a free service which offer help and advice to companies across the UK.  They have  published their guide to doing business in tough times; featuring practical ways to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the current climate.

Click here for their top tips for protecting your cashflow.

(Piggy says “Cashflow is king for small businesses of any description but remember that it has as much to do with your expenses as it has to do with your income!”)

November 9, 2011

Are you or your tenants living in fear of the bills?

If not, then you should be thankful,  because according to the latest research, one in four of the British population does live in fear of bills! A quarter of UK adults admit to getting stressed before opening their bills according to a study from a price comparison website.  A shocking 1 in 5 also confessed to delaying opening as well as paying bills, because they are too afraid to face them.

54% of people said the biggest fear factor was that the cost of bills keeps increasing at rates which are not matched by their salary and one third admit to having more money going out of their current accounts every month than they have coming in.

If this any of this describes your situation then it is obviously time to regroup and see if making some simple changes can help reduce your outgoings.  If you are a landlord and this situation could apply to any of your tenants then it is only a matter of time before the rent payments become an issue.  Offering some straightforward advice and assistance now could help avoid a crisis later.

Here are a few suggestions from the helpful Piggy at Piggybank News… (more…)

October 25, 2011

Positive networking!

Filed under: Property — nspresources @ 7:10 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I attended a business networking lunch a little while ago and was lucky enough to hear Jon Baker of Venture Now! speaking on how to create a positive and productive networking experience.  I rapidly scribbled down some pointers and I thought them so good I would share them….

  • When attending a networking group, whether in person or online, make sure that you have an idea about what type of group it is and go prepared accordingly.  If you are going to be asked to pass business cards – make sure that you have enough with you.  If you will be asked to introduce yourself, think carefully about what you want to say.
  • Try to get hold of an attendance list in advance and see if there are particular people you would like to try and talk to.  however, don’t be too blinkered in your approach – people can often surprise you with their contacts. (For example I recently put a training organisation in touch with a charity I volunteer for – no-one would know from my business card that I had this type of contact)
  • Business networking events should be for business! It’s not a lunch club.  Have an idea before you go along for what you want to get out of the meeting – and it doesn’t have to be more sales!
  • When talking to other people make sure that you really listen to what they say.  Focus on how your product or service can help them achieve what they want.  Ask questions to establish what they are looking for.
  • Use the person’s name so that you remember it (a personal shortcoming of mine!) and don’t be embarrassed to write notes on the business card.
  • Ask them for feedback on what you say and how you come across.
  • And lastly, following up after the meeting is essential.  There are hundreds of different follow up strategies – find one that works for you!
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