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Archive for June, 2014

£2,000 grant for digital advice

Our Websites and digital marketing strategy are more important than ever before so it’s good news that the UK IT Association (UKITA) has recently joined the Government’s Growth Voucher programme.

The Growth Voucher (GV) programme is a £30 million project which was announced by the Chancellor in the 2013 Budget and championed by the PM’s Enterprise Adviser, Lord Young. The programme delivers subsidies to help businesses access the advice they need to help them grow.

Businesses can apply for up to £2,000 to help finance specialist businesses support. You’ll have to match the amount with your own funds.

Businesses are eligible for the programme if they have:

  • been trading for at least one year
  • 49 employees or fewer
  • Not had advice in the last three years.

 

The support available from UKITA members applies to the following types of IT and digital advice:

  • improving customer online experience
  • planning digital projects
  • automating business activities
  • selling online
  • analysing technology usage
  • your online visibility

 

You can apply for a voucher by visiting https://www.gov.uk/apply-growth-vouchers. Once you have a voucher you can find someone to help you using this Website https://marketplace.enterprisenation.com/

16 questions to see if you have a winning strategy

The book “Business Execution for RESULTS” written by RESULTS.com’s Stephen Lynch was named Winner in the “Management” category of the USA’s 2014 Small Business Book Awards.

This blog from Sackmans Accountants in North London is based on his thinking and includes some questions to ensure you have a winning strategy. But, the first question is does your company have a strategy?

Many companies claim to have a strategy, but some end up producing a meaningless exercise in financial goal setting.

We all want to grow, but growth is not a strategy. We all want to be more efficient, but efficiency is not a strategy. We all want to continuously improve, but improvement is not a strategy. Strategy is not about being better than your competitors either. The truth is that bigger, better, faster, is not a strategy!

Strategy is really the process of establishing a meaningful point of difference in your industry that you can preserve. Nothing lasts forever of course, so we need to keep innovating.

Saying “no” is the essence of strategy because you cannot be everything to everybody.  You need to make clear cut choices about how you will compete in the future. When you have done this you can then allocate your time and resources accordingly.

The key is to balance short-term needs with long term wants. Short-term strategy is about “improving what is” and long-term about “creating what will be”.

So, here are 17 questions to consider:

Q1   – What is your vision for the future? (your compelling long-term goal).

Q2   – What competitive forces will determine how your industry is likely to play out in the coming years (competitors, new entrants, substitute offerings, suppliers, customers) – and what moves do you need to make to address the trends in these areas?

Q3   – What forces will impact your business environment (political, economic, social, technology) – and what moves do you need to make to address the trends in these areas?

Q4   – What geographic areas do you plan to serve, and how will you access those locations?

Q5   – Who is the ideal target market customer for your brand?

Q6   – What is your target customer trying to achieve, and how will you address this need (now and in the future)?

Q7   – What core activities will you perform (now and in the future)?

Q8   – What non-core activities will you stop doing?

Q9   – How will you strategically position your brand in the marketplace?

Q10 -What benefits will you offer?

Q11 – What blunt overt promise will compel your customers to take action?

Q12 – What key strategic moves do you need to make within the next 3-5 years to position your firm for future industry success?

Q13 – What goals and milestones will measure your success along the way?

Q14 – What is the current reality that you must deal with?

Q15 – What projects will you implement in the coming quarter to address your current reality and/or move your business in your chosen strategic direction?

Q16 – What Key Performance Indicators will track and drive the success of your current business model?

The questions help with Strategic Planning which should be an ongoing process, not an annual event or worse something done every 3-5 years!

Highly effective companies update their strategic plan every 90 days. This ensures it is relevant to the technology development and competitive environment.

If you’d like help I can set you up on LivePlan and set up a planning session.

Tax Efficient Investment

As Accountants North London I think Premium Bonds should be on the list of potential savings plans.

What triggered this post is that from 1st June 2014 the amount you can hold in Premium Bonds has increased by 33% to £40,000. And, the limit is set to increase further to £50,000 from 1st April 2015.

Premium Bonds are offered by NS&I (National Savings and Investments) which is an executive agency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The bonds do not pay any interest; instead they offer tax free winnings on monthly draws. The prize fund is split into three value bands – higher, medium and lower. A percentage of the fund is allocated to each band.

The jackpot is £1m and from 1st August 2014 there will be two winners. The chance of winning between £25 and £1m is 26,000 to one.

With interest rates on investments being so low, and two jackpot prizes a month from 1st August 2014, it can be argued that now is a good time to hold Premium Bonds. If not for you personally, then perhaps you could start savings for your children or grandchildren.

You can check if you have one on the Website or by downloading the Prize Checker App. There is no lock-in, minimum/notice period or fees/penalties. You can cash in online, by phone or by post.

One thing worth noting is that Premium Bonds count towards the value of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.

Disclaimer – Sackmans is not regulated to give investment advice. This article focusses on the tax benefits of Premium Bonds.