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Archive for April, 2015

How much is 1% worth?

In 2009 Dave Brailsford took on a major challenge.

He was appointed the General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky. The goal was to get a British cyclist to win the Tour de France within five years.

His strategy was based on the theory which he called “aggregation of marginal gains”. Basically, it is “a 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do”.

The idea is that small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

But, it was not just the obvious things like nutrition, training and equipment. His team searched for the 1% improvements in obscure areas others had overlooked or not considered.

These included:

  • The pillow that offered the best sleep
  • The most effective type of massage gel
  • The best ways to wash their hands to avoid infection.

 

They won it in three years.

Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win in 2012. And, Chris Froome followed up with a win a year later.

If you didn’t know, Brailsford coached the British cycling team at the 2012 Olympics who won 70 percent of the gold medals.

Could you use this theory in your business?

Think small, think outside the box and give yourself 3-5 years for the little improvements to add up. Too often we look for the one big thing, rather than the hundred little things.

Preventing digital crime

It wasn’t that long ago that a business owner could themselves from crime with good locks, an alarm and security cameras.

But, today more theft and business disruption is caused online. The Internet criminal is able to commit acts from the comfort of their home.

Most business owners may not be aware that cybercrime is growing fast. Research by PWC revealed 60% of small businesses suffered an online security breach over a 12-month period. The worst cases distrusted the business for 7-10 days.

What effect would that have on your business?

If you want to reduce the risk of being hit by cyber criminals there are a few things you can do.

  • Appoint a business lawyer to help protect your intellectual property
  • Training employees on security measures
  • Making sure you have the right type of software protection

 

Start by carrying out a risk assessment. Identify the important information and digital assets your business has. This could be your trademark, Website or customer list.

Some common sense but not always common practice action is to choose more secure passwords that can’t easily be guessed by hackers.

Passwords should be 8-12 characters long, have a combination of both lower-case and capital letters, as well as numbers and symbols.

Do not use anything personal like birth dates, anniversaries, or children’s names. And, change your passwords every two or three months. And, use different passwords for different logins.

An absolute must is anti-virus, anti-spam software and spyware on all computers. Make sure these are kept up to date and use a firewall.

But, you also need to train all of your employees because security lapses of often caused by mistakes made by its employees.

They need to be aware of how digital criminals work and be able to recognise possible threats like spam emails and understand the types of passwords that they should use.

Coffee and Xero

Xero customer David Abrahamovitch, owner of The Grind Company in London talks with LBC’s Clive Bull about how to vision, culture and keeping tabs on each part of the business

8 last minute tax tips

Here are 8 ways to pay less tax which you can take action on in the few days before 5th April.

Tip 1 – Individual Savings Accounts (ISA)
Within an ISA there is no capital gains tax or income tax making them one of the most tax-efficient ways to save. And, you can withdraw your money at any time.

Tip 2 – Allowance and bands
Married individuals and individuals in a registered civil partnership can save tax by “moving” income between them. This can be done by transferring savings and investments. Make sure you use all tax-free personal allowances and lower rates of tax.

Tip 3 – Pension contributions
Pension contributions can attract up to 45% income tax relief. Tax benefits depend on individual circumstances and you must pay enough tax to receive full tax relief. Bonus tip – your company can contribute for your spouse and children. You could contribute £2,880 and the government will top this up to £3,600.

Tip 4 – Capital gains
As well as a tax-free allowance for income we all have a tax-free allowance for capital gains. One way to use your capital allowance is to sell shares that have a gain and buy them back in an ISA.

Tip 5 – Losses
Make sure you use income and capital losses and offset them against income and gains.

Tip 6 – Gains are better than income
Tax on income can be 45% compared to 28% tax on gains so it can make sense to hold income generating assets in an ISA and investments that are likely to produce gains in your personal name.

Tip 7 – Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs)
VCTs invest in high growth companies and are high-risk investments.

To encourage investment into the government offers generous tax breaks of up to 30%, which mean a £10,000 investment in a VCT could effectively cost as little as £7,000 after tax relief.

Tip 8 – Gifts to save inheritance tax (IHT)
One of the best ways to save IHT is to make use of the IHT exempt gift allowance.

Everyone can give away up to £3,000 a year and there’s no Inheritance Tax on a gift that was a wedding or civil partnership gift worth up to £5,000 to a child, £2,500 to a grandchild or great-grandchild and £1,000 to anyone else.