Top tips for minimising business disruption during the Olympics

With today signifying the real impact of commuters and Olympic goers, an estimated 35,000 commuters a day will see their journey home disrupted during the Games as the transport network juggles the needs of ordinary Londoners and Olympic spectators.

Despite smooth operations so far one of the biggest obstacles facing employers and commuters is business disruption as the city faces its first major test of combining weekday commuter traffic with a full day of Olympic events.

london olympics 2012
Image by Alexander Kachkaev / Flickr

Around 5.5 million visitors are expected every day and gridlock can inevitably be expected throughout the UK’s roads, rail networks, rail networks and waterways, potentially impacting supply chains throughout the country.

Preparing well in advance should help to minimise the impact of the weeks of disruption this summer and prevent this stressful time from damaging the customer relationships you may have spent years developing. In fact, as with most business risks, there is potential to turn the Games into an opportunity.

If you are seen by your customers to be taking the initiative and planning in advance to minimise the impact on their business, it could strengthen your relationship with them. With the Olympic and Paralympic Games only just arrived it’s not too late to put in place a 5-point remote working strategy:

  1. Be creative – Launch a pilot programme in your organisation. Start with one or two departments or a set period of weeks (the Olympics could be an ideal time) and monitor results against set targets.
  2.  Develop criteria – Get a good remote working policy in place. Generally, the adoption of remote working involves building the minimum appropriate infrastructure – hosted solutions, or financial software such as IRIS Exchequer installed and hosted in secure scalable data centres. Tools could include remote control applications, collaboration software and video conferencing software. It may be easier to reach team members via the web than walk around the office.
  3. Technology – Ensure that you choose a hosted service that includes the on-going management of the servers, software and data including the provision of backup services, installation of security patches and various levels of technical expertise and support.
  4.  Communication – create a schedule for regular communication. Use instant messaging and video chatting for spontaneous conversations to ensure that staff don’t miss out on ‘the real world’.
  5. Metrics – It’s well known that when staff work from home they are happier, free from office distractions and often more productive. However what about staff that need supervision? Rather than monitoring hours worked per day, set production targets or goals to be completed.

The Olympics could be used as a springboard towards a much more widespread four-day office week with either staff working from home, doing compressed hours, or going part-time. A move that not only will help employers cut costs and ease the strain on commuter rail and roads (and ultimately the tax payer who funds their repair) but to help ease the pain of tough economic times. Perhaps then we will finally discover that remote working really can be a win-win.

About the author: Paul Sparkes is Product Director at IRIS Exchequer, a mid-market business and finance management solution that has received a number of awards over the years. Awards success includes winning ‘Financial Software Provider of the Year’ in the Real Finance/CBI FDs’ Excellence Awards 2012, 2011, 2008, 2006 and 2005.

IRIS Exchequer was named the ‘Best rated accounting product catering for businesses in the medium range’ in an authoritative survey by the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), the industry body which also accredits IRIS Exchequer.

Moving Your Small Business Forward: Exhibitions and Trade Fairs

If you own a small business and you think it’s time start boosting your sales as well as your profit margins, then look no further than business exhibitions. In today’s competitive market, it’s vital that you make the effort to get your brand name out there. This guide will tell you exactly how business exhibitions can transform your small business and its future, helping you move towards those profits and sales you always dreamed about.

Of course before you read on it’s important you know there are a few setbacks to exhibitions, all of which are expenses based.

Trade fair
Image by US Mission Canada / Flickr

The first of these is the cost of entering your stand into the exhibition, which is generally a fair amount (however it should come within your marketing budget). Secondly, you may be charged for overheads such as electricity, Internet and phone lines, as well as expenses like shipping products and display material to the convention centre. Don’t let these costs intimidate you though, exhibitions are great for small businesses, and here’s why:

Sample and promote a new product/service

If you’re entering a new product or service onto the market, sampling is of a high priority. Finding out what people think about it, what’s good? What’s bad? How can it be improved? Whilst you are asking people to sample your products, you are also marketing your product and your business which is why it is so important to make a good first impression.

Discover new leads

Business is all about communication, and communication can come through many different mediums. With exhibitions you have the opportunity to communicate with many new potential customers/clients, and creating these contacts for your company is vital. This is true especially when searching for new customers, as well as to aid growth and expansion. It is also important to replace those customers that over time have drifted away from your business, helping you to keep a strong customer base.

Chase after your new leads

It’s all well and good talking to people and taking business cards at these exhibitions, but what’s more important is the following up process. In this sense, exhibitions will provide you with an assist towards your main goal of making long-term contacts. With these new relations you can build further links “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. But you MUST follow up; don’t leave those business cards gathering dust. You need to know from these new leads which ones are likely to buy soon, and which ones may buy in the future. Qualify them, and follow up, tailoring your approach for each one accordingly.

Meet powerful people

Sometimes everyone needs a little dose of inspiration and incentive; try achieving this by talking to influential figures at exhibitions. This will help you to gain some perspective and insight towards your outlook – a few words of wisdom can go a long way. So push aside any feelings of nervousness, feel confident and put the success of your future first! Plus you never know when you might need some powerful contacts in your industry…

Receive media coverage

The media has become such a prolific part of today’s society that most media attention you can get is (normally) good marketing. With the current rise in just Social Media alone, you will find plenty of opportunities to receive media coverage for your small business at numerous commerce exhibitions. But remember, you need to contribute to this – use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on to publicise your presence at an exhibition. And have a press kit handy, in case you get a chance to speak to any journalists.

Practice makes perfect

As your company grows, you as a boss will need to do a fair bit of public speaking to important people such as investors or new clientele. Whilst you have the opportunity to do so, carry out some pitches at exhibitions to build your poise and self-belief in talking to powerful people. It’s a much smaller audience, but they’ve most likely come over to your stand because they’re interested in what you do, so it’s an excellent opportunity to practise. Another thing to remember is you may do some paid speaking in the near future, so get some free training in early whilst the chance is on the table!

About the Author: Astro Exhibitions are a firm of exhibition stand designers based just outside Manchester. They have built custom exhibition display stands for companies from all round the world for events across Europe.

 

Dealing with Bullying in the Workplace: Advice for employers

For a small business, bullying in the workplace can have a deep impact. It can lead to decreased productivity, lowered morale, increased absences and potentially to expensive and lengthy employment tribunals. Added to that the emotional effects of bulling on the victim, and the fact that one office bully can affect the working environment even for those he or she does not target, and it makes for a very unpleasant situation.

workplace bully

Image by imagerymajestic

As a small business owner, and employer, you are responsible for the welfare of your employees under the Health and Safety Act 1974, so you need to know the signs of bullying in the workplace and put a stop to it before it escalates.

What is bullying?

In its guide for employers on dealing with workplace bullying, ACAS, the UK’s employment relations service, defines bullying as

“offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.”

Workplace bullying may not be the name-calling and taunts of the schoolyard, but it can have just as much impact on the victim, often more, as it is much more subtle. Workplace bullying can be:

  • humiliation
  • exclusion
  • intimidation
  • harassment
  • sabotage of work or promotion prospects
  • constantly singling someone out for blame or criticism

In the workplace that can translate to some of the following signs, which as an employer, you should look out for:

  • withholding information or giving incorrect information
  • undermining a co-worker
  • refusing to delegate tasks
  • spreading malicious rumours

The problem with workplace bullying is that what may be considered bullying by one employee might be considered office banter or just firm management by another. Then there is the fact that the victim may not be willing to speak up, for fear of being thought of as weak, or a “snitch”. And added to that, other employees may not be willing to speak out for fear of calling the bully’s attention to themselves.

This is why it is important to make clear to your employees the behaviours which will not be tolerated.

What can employers do?

As an employer, you need to have a clear policy in place that makes it clear that bullying should not be tolerated, with a set of rules and consequences, and a formal complaints procedure. It is in your best interests to have a supportive environment within your company, not one where the victim feels that they have nobody to turn to. And they may in turn lose respect for you for not addressing the problem.

You should also encourage your employees to look out for any signs of bullying. And make sure you yourself set a good example in your behaviour towards others

If a complaint of bullying is made, it should be investigated and followed up promptly. Gather the evidence and review it thoroughly before deciding how to proceed. An informal  talk may be all that is needed, but in some cases, disciplinary action will need to be taken.

Start by calling the employee into your office, and talk through your concerns, outlining each reported incident. Give the employee a chance to tell his or her side of the story, but make it clear that his or her behaviour will not be tolerated. It may be that this is the end of the issue.

However, if attempting to resolve the situation informally does not work, then you may have no choice but to start disciplinary action against the bullying employee. You should make sure you follow procedures carefully and ensure that both victim and accused are treated fairly. Possible punishments for bulling may be a written warning, suspension or even dismissal, but before deciding on your course of action, review the facts again. For example, if the bully has accepted his or her actions were wrong, then a written warning may be enough.

For more information, contact ACAS on 08457 47 47 47

Author Bio: Altmore Business Law are a commercial law firm in the East Midlands, providing solicitors in Nottingham, Leicester, Grantham and across the region. They work with both SMEs and large companies, and provide advice and guidance on a broad range of matters.

How Conflict Resolution Keeps Employees and Keeps Them Happy

Workplace conflict is one of the most insidious things that can work its way into an organization. It doesn’t always manifest in obvious ways such as shouting; more often than not, it takes the form of passive-aggressive comments and political maneuvering that hinders productivity and jeopardizes the success of your business. It is vital to catch it before it gets out of control, and it is even more important that you don’t get involved in it personally. The only thing that actually works is getting to the root of the problem, and while it takes some time to learn how to do that, it is an essential skill for maintaining the health of your business and creating a friendly work environment.

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Progressive Discipline

Before you can adopt an effective solution, you will need to know what does not work. The traditional model for employee behavioral correction is progressive discipline, which is essentially a ladder of ever-increasing punishments that culminate in termination for employees that don’t get their act together. The consequences can range from informal coaching sessions to multi-day retreats or suspension depending on the number of violations under someone’s belt and how they’ve responded to prior discipline.

To be fair, progressive discipline not a total failure. First, it gives employers the means to identify and respond to problems in the work place. Second, it enables employers to create clear boundaries that the employee will either adhere to or risk termination. Third, it inoculates employers against legal problems because the employee knows exactly what is expected from him and that everybody’s on the same page regardless of what happens.

Despite those advantages, it has a few glaring holes, the worst one being that it is purely negative reinforcement. Progressive discipline relies entirely on getting the offender to comply, without actually addressing their anti-social behavior or calming tensions between workers. There needs to be an aim besides, “stop acting badly” in order for this kind of thing to be successful over the long term. It also needs to engage employees in the process.

Pulling Up the Roots

The thing that makes conflict resolution a powerful tool in the manager’s tool chest is that it not only makes it easier to engage employees, it necessitates it. It requires talking to the people that are having problems and figuring out exactly what’s got everyone up in arms.

Conflict resolution let everyone say what’s on their minds; everyone’s words have equal weight. In nearly every case where there’s a conflict, something has been exaggerated and everyone has lost sight of the bigger picture because of minute things that have been blown out of proportion. Conflict resolution shines a light on those things and put them into their proper context. Companies that adopt conflict resolution strategies identify what’s preventing their workers from coming to an agreeable solution, and then bring a resolution to the table.

The Benefits

Businesses aren’t comprised of numbers and statistics, they’re made of people. Your success ultimately hinges on every single person within your organization. Whereas traditional methods create a divide between employer and employee, conflict resolution techniques that are properly utilized will let you act with authority while at the same time providing a much more robust support structure.

Conflict resolution ultimately translates to higher productivity, higher worker satisfaction, an increased sense of loyalty within your staff, and higher quality work. It also means that key employees who may have some issues that would otherwise require them to be let go can be brought back into the fold, while employees in general will be more likely to stay. Handling conflict is not just about dealing with the person causing the most problems; if it’s handled badly, it may leave a poor taste in other employees’ mouths, and sooner or later that will cause them to seek a job elsewhere. Proper conflict management eliminates this problem; good workers that got off track are more likely to respond favorably to a manager that cares, and the respect of your staff will translate to higher retention rates across the board.

A big part of creating a successful business involves creating a work environment that no one wants to leave. Conflict resolution is one of the most effective ways to do that in the modern age, and while it’s still not a perfect methodology, it can mean the difference between keeping invaluable employees and losing them to competing companies.

About the Author: Amy Diaz blogs about the benefits of using conflict resolution in the workplace. If conflict resolution interests you as a career, you might consider applying to Abilene Christian University or Creighton University.

Eight Ways to Stay Productive When You Work from Home

Regardless of what you do, if you work from home, the name of the game is productivity. If you telecommute, your boss is likely to be watching you like a hawk. Did he make the right decision when he let you work from home? If you freelance, your clients don’t care about your hourly rate? Did that fifty dollar project really take me three days to complete?

Yes, if you work at home, productivity matters. It pays your bills, it keeps you out of the office and it allows you to have a social life. Therefore if you work from home and you notice that your productivity levels are not as high as they could be, chances are you are suffering. And if you’re telecommuting, chances are you are about to get fired. Before the hammer drops, here are eight highly effective tips for getting more done in less time when you call your office home.

work at home

Image by Thomas van de Weerd / Flickr

Don’t Become a Recluse

Work from home jobs don’t necessarily require you to literally work at home. Most can be performed effectively at a local café or a quiet bar. Getting out of the house on a daily basis is essential if you want to stay sane, let alone productive. If you find that you get more done when working in your home office, focus on going out in the evenings. Isolation and productivity never go hand in hand.

Figure Out How to Tackle Procrastination

Procrastination seriously harms productivity and problems with productivity can spell death for any work at home career. There are a lot of techniques that can be employed to fight productivity and what works for you is something that you are going to have to find out on your own.

For me personally, I have found that the most suitable weapon against procrastination is to devote a single hour each day to doing the tasks that I hate. Those tasks still take a while to complete, but they always eventually get done. Procrastination is more than capable of leaving tasks uncompleted forever if you let it.

Limit Your Time

If you’re paid per deliverable rather than per hour, your goal is always going to be to get the most done in the shortest amount of time possible. An important part of doing so is limiting the amount of time that you allow yourself to complete your tasks.

If you give yourself the entire day to do something, chances are it’s going to take the entire day. Whereas if you limit yourself to only spending four hours, you are far more likely to fit that task into that timeframe.

List Your Tasks

When you work from home, you don’t have a boss scheduling your day and this is certainly a good thing. Unfortunately however, unless you take on his role, your productivity is going to seriously suffer. Sitting down in the morning with no real plan is a recipe for both procrastination and missed deadlines.

You should start each day by listing the tasks that you hope to complete. They should be ordered according to their importance and completed according to their order. And any tasks not on your list should be avoided entirely. Provided you follow this simple system, you will get your most important tasks completed every day. You also won’t waste time on those that are unimportant.

Work Where You Work Best

If you think that you are going to get a lot done while sitting on your couch with your feet up, think again. High levels of productivity require that you sit up straight and that you are not surrounded by distractions. A home office can fit the bill perfectly but some people find that they get more done outside of their home.

You should experiment with working in different environments and you should establish where you are at your best. Regardless of whether it’s a café, a bar or your aforementioned home office, the important thing is that you establish where works for you.

Disconnect (or Pretend)

Most people that work from home do so with the aid of a computer and an internet connection. An internet connected computer however is home to all manner of distractions and you might be surprised by just how many hours you can kill telling your Facebook friends how great it is to work from home.

If you have the discipline to avoid the recreational side of the internet then by all means do so. But if like most, you’re a bit of a social media addict, you might find that you can get a lot more done if you only connect to the internet when your work actually requires it. Out of all the tips in this article, this is probably the easiest to apply. It also happens to be one of the most effective.

Tell People You’re at Work

If you have friends, a partner or a young child, it’s important for you to let them know that when you are working from home, you actually are working. You can’t do housework, you can’t do babysitting and you can’t go to the pub at two in the afternoon. Just because you don’t have to be at your office by nine am, that does not mean that you don’t have deadlines.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, take care of yourself. Many people take working from home as an excuse to take less showers, to stay up until four in the morning and to practically live on their couch. Showers keep you fresh, exercise keeps you energised and eight hours sleep keeps you in straight thoughts. When you work from home, there’s no boss to get angry at you for looking like a corpse. That responsibility is therefore left to you. Get some fresh air, dead people don’t work from home.

About the Author: Brian Wills is a freelance writer and blogger. Through his posts he talks about SEO and internet marketing and believes that alexa ranking service is the most reliable page ranking service for checking the credibility and popularity of websites.

Nightlife Do’s and Don’ts for the Travelling Businessman

Your business trip isn’t a vacation, but that doesn’t mean it has to be all work and no play. What are you going to do when your business meeting is over and your flight isn’t until the morning? Check out the nightlife, of course. But beware – you’re still on company time, so remember these do’s and don’ts.

Business Man Typing on Computer
Photo Credit: charlottepurdy

DO Go Out with the People You Know

You’re on a business trip – whether you’re attending a meeting or a conference, your primary objective is to do business. It doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun, but if you go out on the town alone, you could miss a good opportunity to continue networking or close the deal. It’s always more fun, anyway, to go out with a friend rather than try to make a new one.

DON’T Overdo It

You should enjoy your night, but you shouldn’t go crazy. You’re on a business trip, not personal, and anything you do will reflect on your company or determine your networking success. Don’t drink too much or do any other risky behavior. You might embarrass yourself, and if you get in trouble, your boss will be the one you’ll have to call to bail you out.DO Relax and Have Fun

DO Relax and Have Fun

Staying in your hotel room working is probably the worst thing you can do on your business trip. It’s a trip, after all, so get out there and have a good time. Drink a little, dance a little, and mingle. You’ve been working hard, and you deserve it.

DON’T Hook Up

It’s an unfortunate fact that sometimes businessmen cheat on their wives while they’re away. Meeting a random person in a far-away city means little likelihood of word getting back home, so it seems like a good chance. But don’t do it – you never know who that random person you meet out really is or what the ramifications could be (no pun intended).

DO Check Out the Local Scene

One of the benefits of going on business trips is that you get to visit a lot of new cities and towns across the country (or even the world, you lucky son of a gun). Don’t waste an opportunity to check out the local scene and attractions. Have dinner at the best restaurant in town; visit the hottest nightclub; find a swanky little lounge with a jazz band playing. Whatever you do, get a taste of the atmosphere – the nightlife is always unique wherever you go.

DON’T Run Up Your Company Tab

Another perk of business trips – they’re all paid for by your company. You can probably use the company credit card to take your colleagues out to dinner, for example, and you can probably get away with using it for a few drinks while you’re out on the town. But don’t spend too much – now isn’t the time to buy ten bottles of Dom in the VIP section. You may be having fun then, but when you get home, your boss will probably dispute your need for quite so much champagne.

About the Author: Jared Grant is a writer and travel agent who works with luxury Bahamas resorts. He loves to write about travel and all the various things to do while on business trips.

How to Handle Failure In Small Business

When a person starts their own small business, their biggest fear is usually that of failure. The fear of business failure isn’t totally unfounded, after all, there are a great many small businesses which fold within their first few years of starting up. By learning about the mistakes that most small businesses make, you can learn exactly how to avoid or deal with these issues before you find yourself faced with a failed business plan.

small business failure

Image by Dagny Mol / Flickr

Your Plan

Before you even start, you need to make a list of goals you’d like to achieve, as well as plans on how you’re going to achieve them. Short term goals are just as important as long term ones because it’s the short term goals that are going to get your where you need to go. If something doesn’t go according to your plans, or one of your goals starts looking like it may have to be chalked up as a failure, don’t freak out. Part of being successful is the ability to work with what you’ve got on the fly.

Money Matters

When it comes to money, it’s obviously an area that requires a lot of attention, care and planning. If money isn’t your strong suit, your first move should be to find an accountant who can help you with this aspect of owning a business. It’s important that you consider money as your first priority in business, as you’re not going to get far with a product that has limited demand or by setting your selling points too low. If you’re finding that you’re simply unable to turn a profit, you either have to change your supplies in order to lower expenses to your company or diversify and find something that will turn a profit. Small businesses often have a hard time securing loans because of their non-existent credit, which is exactly why business credit cards are becoming a popular choice for smaller businesses to establish their credit.

Assume Your Role As The Boss

Let’s face it, the guy in charge is very rarely liked by everyone. If you’re a people pleaser, you may want to reconsider your position as the head honcho. You’re going to come up against clients and employees, at least once in a while, and you’re going to have to be able to work through your differences with a clear head. In any industry, you’ll find it takes all kinds to make a business run, so be ready to handle all kinds of different personalities. Stick to your guns when you need to, bend when you can.

About the Author: This guest post is from Allison with BusinessCreditCards.com.

How to boost eCommerce sales with an editorial calendar

If you have an ecommerce website then you know that most of your traffic is going to come from two sources: paid search and SEO. The first option will obviously cost money, but the second option is more about putting in the work and optimizing your on-site content. One of the best ways to focus on SEO is to implement an editorial calendar for your blog. Learn how to get started below.

Set up the calendar

Your editorial calendar should be based on a few different areas. First off, the regular calendar is a good starting point. Look at holidays and other important dates for content ideas. Then, move on to specific times that are important for your business. If you sell seasonal items it’s obviously going to be important for you to make a big content push in the times when your customers are buying. Likewise, you need to figure out strategies for addressing the times when your sales could slow down. The goal of the calendar is to create content that will pull in customers throughout the year.

Optimize your keywords

The next step is to figure out the right keywords to use in your content. Use Google’s tool to find the best terms that have a high volume of searches. Depending on your niche, some keywords might be very competitive. You want to choose keywords that you have a chance at ranking for, so don’t focus on search volume alone. Consider how stiff the competition is and choose some of the lower volume keywords if necessary. If you do keyword research far in advance you might want to check back in before you publish to make sure everything is still relevant. A lot can change in a few months, and you don’t want to lose out on traffic because you forgot to check your work. The goal of keyword optimization is to find the keywords people are searching and picking out the ones you can rank for.

Get writing

The next step is fairly simple: Get writing! Once you’ve created the calendar and found relevant keywords the content creation is all that’s left. Don’t forget to make the content appealing so it isn’t just a wall of text. Once you’ve published some content you can see what does and doesn’t work and change your tactics accordingly. As you publish good content and it catches on in your niche, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can start pulling in free traffic. You might even get good enough where people are asking you to post on their blogs, which means even more exposure!

These tips will help increase your ecommerce traffic by optimizing your blogging efforts.

About the Author: Carolyn is a guest author and expert on order management software that tracks Shopify inventory.

Five Tips for Wining and Dining Business Executives

In the business world, it’s not uncommon to have to entertain potential and current customers. You may also find that you are given the task of entertaining out-of-town executives from sister businesses. If you are put in charge of the entertainment, you may feel the weight of the world come crashing down on your shoulders. Don’t let the task of wining and dining your customers become overwhelming, though. Here are five tips for entertaining your clients, customers, and fellow executives:

1. Do the Legwork

If you know that your boss is going to make you the go-to person when it comes to entertaining customers, take a week or two and do some legwork. Scout out a few local restaurants, get to know the staff and management, and build a relationship with the eatery. When you build a solid relationship with a local restaurant, you can expect to be treated like an old family friend every time you walk through the door. The way that you are treated will impress your client and make them feel welcome.

limousine, place de la Bastille (PARIS,FR75)

2. Book a Limo

You don’t have to book a limousine for the same client each time they come to town, but if you book a limo the first time they visit, you are sure to impress them. Book the limo for an evening when you will be entertaining the client, not just picking him or her up from the airport. For many clients, this may be their first limousine ride since the high school prom, and you are sure to start off on the right foot by hiring a car.

3. Explore Your Town

Part of the benefit of traveling out of town for business is the ability to explore new cities. When your client comes into town, give them time to get settled in, and then show them your city. Visit the sites and attractions that make your area famous, even if it’s just having the town’s best burger for lunch. If your client is a nature lover, head out to some local parks. If your client loves to shop, take them to the newest mall in town. Your goal should be for your client to feel like they know your city by the time they leave.

4. Attend an Event

If you have the budget to do it, take your client to a major event happening in your town or a neighboring one. Go to the baseball stadium for the day or to an evening concert. Find out what it is that your client enjoys doing in his or her free time, and try to come up with an activity that matches his or her interests.

5. Arrange a Day Out

Get creative and arrange a day out for your client. Book your client several treatments at a ritzy spa, buy them a day pass to the local amusement park, or arrange for a surfing lesson. By arranging an entire day out for your client, you will be getting them out of their hotel room; something they are sure to appreciate.

If you are put in charge of entertaining clients, try to think outside of the box. Anyone can take a business executive out to dinner, but few people will spend the time to get to know him and his interests. Remember that entertaining your client in a way that suits their personality can be the difference in keeping that client or have them running to your competition.

Joe Jackson lives in Los Angeles and blogs about business matters, including how to entertain business executives. If you are looking for a way to impress your business guests, think about hiring a limousine for them at limousineservices.org.

Want to start a business? First figure out what it should be

So you want to start a company? That is great! But what kind of company you would like to form? Don’t be clueless and for God’s sake do not take any decision in haste because your future financial condition will be dependent on this decision in myriads of ways. Now I am not asking here what kind of service you are supposed to offer (because you know that better than anybody else) but what legal form your company is supposed to take. This is the single most important decision that will who are eligible to invest in your company, how you are supposed to pay the taxes or how your financial condition is going to get affected by it.

business incorporation

Image by RiseAndGrind.com

Below are the three important things that you need to take care of before zero in on a decision:

Ownership: Depending on the business types, there are certain limitations on the number of people who can invest in a company. So, if you have a large plan and want to rope in foreign investment in the form of shareholders, corporate structure is the way to go. Therefore, my humble suggestion is please take this seriously and sit down with an accountant and an attorney to figure out which legal business form best suits your purpose.

Tax: The infamous three letter words that everyone hates. Honestly speaking, no one likes paying taxes and I hope you share the same feeling. So that means, you should abhor the idea of paying taxes twice. But it can happen to you if you do not take it seriously. May sound insane, but you may find yourself paying taxes once on income for business and then again for the profit distributed to you. So, figure out a solution before it is too late.

Liability: Corporation has an individual identity and that being that if the company is sued, individual shareholders will be not hold responsible. The assets of the company can be seized or freezed but the personal assets of the shareholders will not be seized. However, there are certain exceptions but rest assured, liability of personal share holder is largely limited.

So, now you are fully aware of the legal intricacies of forming a company. Let’s move on to the next big chapter that is selecting a legal business framework:

Sole Proprietorship: This is the best business model for individual who does not like the idea of being tied to a legal framework. It is super easy to form. No additional paper work needed and the best part, there is no such need to file corporate income taxes. However, on the flipside, you will not have any liability protection. This is something that you need to be careful about. If your business is sued, your personal assets can be seized and in some worse cases assets of your spouse can also be seized.

Partnership: In this business model, ownership of the company is shared with two or more people. There is no such legal intricacy involved in the process but it is advisable to draw up a partnership agreement. And to your relief, there is no such thing as double taxation. On the downside, each partner will have unlimited personal liability.

LLC (Limited Liability Company): This is the most popular legal business framework which is increasingly being adopted by business owners because of its unique flexibilities and other benefits. This business model provides personal liability of the business owners. Another unique feature of LLC is that it lets you share profits unequally and thereby rewarding those owners who are working hard to make the business a hit. However, it has its share of disadvantages too. Laws of LLC vary wide depending on the state and countries you are living. And there are certain restrictions on the number of investors one can have in a business and sometimes, foreign investment is allowed.

“S” Corporation: This is a kind of business model that provides personal liability but at the same time, it also provides pass through taxation. Since the laws of S Corporations are less complicated, it is a popular choice among lawyers and accountants. As far as its disadvantages are concerned, it does not let you distribute profit unevenly and you need to pay for the state corporate fees.

“C” Corporation: This business model proves the highest level of personal liability protection to investors and there is no such restrictions on the number of people who can invest in it. But double taxation is here and there is no way you can avoid this.

Author Bio: Michael Evans is a passionate blogger and he has written different articles on Cyprus Taxation.