Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Creditors Voluntary Liquidation: The Most Common Way of Winding Up an Insolvent Company in the UK

In the first quarter of 2016 over 3,200 UK companies went into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation, according to the UK Insolvency Service. That’s more than 60% more of this type of business failure than in the first quarter of the previous year.

A Creditors Voluntary Liquidation is initiated by the board of directors of a company that is insolvent. It is the process of winding up the company. The assets are liquidated, converted into cash, and the money is used to settle outstanding bills.

The process is overseen by the creditors, who are owed money by the company. They are unlikely to be paid in full, but will at least get a proportion of their money back.

Why Companies Choose Creditors Voluntary Liquidation

There are a number of different options available to an insolvent business. Some are better suited to organizations that are fundamentally viable but are encumbered by too much debt. Where there is hope that the business can be saved it may be more appropriate to go into administration or enter a voluntary arrangement.

A Creditors Voluntary Liquidation is the solution for a company that has no reasonable expectation of recovering its trading position. It allows the company to be closed down in an orderly fashion, with due consideration to the interests of creditors.

Before choosing to go this route the directors will usually have taken advice from an insolvency practitioner, a specialist in dealing with companies unable to pay their debts.

The Process of Creditors Voluntary Liquidation

The directors call an extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders, at which they set out their reasons for choosing this route. If the shareholders agree, an insolvency practitioner is nominated to manage the process. This is usually the same practitioner that has been giving advice so far.

One of their first responsibilities is to call a meeting of creditors to explain what is going on. The creditors formally appoint the liquidator and may choose to create their own committee to monitor proceedings.

The liquidator’s job is to wind up the affairs of the company, disposing of all the assets for the best possible price and making payments to creditors. They also report on the conduct of the directors, to establish whether wrongful trading (knowingly trading when insolvent) has taken place.

A Creditors Voluntary Liquidation is the most common form of winding up an insolvent company in the UK. While the process is relatively simple it is a route that directors untake lightly and they will explore other, less drastic, options first.

Benefits of Family Financial Planning: Why and When Families Should Get Professional Money Advice

The best way for families to achieve their financial goals is through proper financial planning. Registered and certified financial planners can help families when they have saved a decent amount of money or when their financial circumstances have changed – redundancy, job promotion, having more children, etc.

The benefits of family financial planning are myriad. Here are six reasons to get professional money planning advice.

Boost Household Savings and Investments

A financial advisor can look into a family’s financial circumstances and help them maximize their savings through various financial products and investments. The financial planner can also help the family to borrow for investments. Called gearing, this powerful strategy can help households grow their financial assets faster than conventional savings and investment methods.

Manage Tax Effectively

For many Australian families, managing tax is a tricky thing, especially when investments and superannuation come into the picture. To have an in-depth and clear understanding of tax implications, it’s best to review them through a registered financial planner. He will help the client to fully understand any potential risks involved in the investment decisions as well as recommend effective strategies to maximize returns and achieve short- and longer-term financial goals.

Help Families Get the Right Insurance

Although insurance premiums can be rather costly, sufficient insurance is crucial to protect the family and its assets against unforeseen circumstances. Life insurance, income protection insurance, health insurance, trauma insurance as well as home and content insurance are necessities for families. A financial advisor will be able to structure the right level of cover for a household’s needs and specific circumstances, depending on the family’s financial situation.

Financial Advice When Job Changes Occur

Salary cuts, redundancies, changing jobs and promotions at work affect families’ financial situations. Each time any of these occurs, it’s important to review superannuation, investment and insurance needs. A financial consultant can help his client make informed decisions about revising his financial plan, making employee payments and getting ample insurance cover.

Assist in Retirement Planning

Retirement planning should be part of a long-term financial plan and start early. Financial planners can help people plan for their retirement and maximize their retirement income to help them achieve the lifestyle they want when they are no longer in the workforce. Those on the verge of retirement can also benefit when financial planners help them invest their savings.

Estate Planning for Families

Estate planning is a very important part of any financial plan. However, it is also often the most neglected part. With proper estate planning done by a financial consultant, a person’s family affairs and family members will be appropriately cared for according to his wishes in the most tax effective manner if he suddenly passes away or becomes incapacitated.

Professional money planning isn’t just for wealthy people or big businesses. It’s for average households too. The benefits of family financial planning include the ability to maximize savings and investment returns, manage tax effectively, get the right insurance, have sound financial advice when there are job changes as well as get help in retirement and estate planning.

Bankruptcy Attorney Fees for a Good Bankruptcy Petition Service

As with most things in life, it generally costs more to get a better quality of bankruptcy petition service. The problem is that the client is being asked to find money at a time of great financial hardship. Whilst budget services are heavily criticised for making serious mistakes and omissions, some bankruptcy attorney fees are far too high and should be avoided. It’s necessary to define precisely what is being offered relative to the charges in order to determine genuine value for money.

Low Cost Bankruptcy Mills vs Bankruptcy Attorney Fees

Whilst ‘bankruptcy mills’ offer an inexpensive best bankruptcy lawyer alternative, the actual quality of service has come under severe criticism. Given the complexity of the laws, is it realistic to expect an accurate and comprehensive service for just $99.99 when professionals are charging $2,000 to $3,000 a time? Bankruptcy proceedings aren’t just very involved, the scope for costly mistakes due to time pressure and inexperience are immense. Many services fail to use a qualified lawyer in order to cut costs. Others simply jack-up the price or misrepresent the service that they offer to their clients.

Common Bankruptcy Petition Service Mistakes

Whilst paying out thousands of dollars when filing for bankruptcy may appear to be too expensive, the financial implications of an error or omission heavily outweigh this cost. Hiring an attorney for bankruptcy helps to avoid many of the pitfalls alluded to below:

  • The bankruptcy petition service fails to include all eligible debts. This leads to certain unsecured liabilities not being written-off and collection agency pursuance for the outstanding balance following discharge. That person is then unable to file under chapter 7 for at least the next 8 years.
  • Failure to fill in the appropriate forms to stop foreclosure. Even if the client is able to find enough money to make a contribution towards clearing any outstanding arrears, it will be too late to save the property. It will be repossessed and sold for fair market value at auction.
  • Clients being advised to file bankruptcy when their debts aren’t eligible for inclusion, such as attempting to eliminate student loan debt. This simply leads to chapter 7 bankruptcy showing on a credit report for the next 10-years without any benefit to the client.
  • Listing exempt assets as non-exempt assets when filing bankruptcy. These assets will then needlessly be sold and the proceeds disseminated to creditors.
  • Not reaffirming secured debts, such as car loans, leads to any collateral being repossessed. It will then be far more expensive to get a loan to buy a car with bad credit which could lead to affordability issues in the future.

Always Select the Best Attorney for Bankruptcy

When the decision has been made to file for bankruptcy, it is necessary to decide whether to use a cut-price service or the best bankruptcy attorney. Don’t just settle for the cheapest option, take time to consider the financial consequences of a mistake and its future implications. Take advantage of a free session with a bankruptcy lawyer in order to determine what the service includes relative to the bankruptcy attorney fee. Use this experience to gauge how committed the firm is to its clients.

Debt Help Available in Great Britain: Free Debt Advice and Counselling Services in the UK

Coping with debt can put an overwhelming strain on both individuals and families. Fortunately, debt help is widely available in the UK from various organisations. Many of them have free debt help telephone numbers, giving immediate access to qualified debt counsellors.

Debt Advice on the Telephone

There are a variety of options for people wishing to discuss debt problems, one of which is to telephone a debt help number. Most debt help organisations have a telephone number to call, some of which are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An excellent example in the UK is the National Debt Helpline, where calls are free and debt counsellors are on hand to offer advice and support.

The Samaritans are also an option for those affected by debt problems. Although calls are charged they do provide the option of reversing charges or having someone call the client back. The Samaritans have numerous centres throughout the UK where anyone can drop in for a face to face chat about debt problems. The Samaritans is a charity which uses volunteers and allows anyone to discuss any problems at any time.

Debt Help from Citizen’s Advice

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is a well known part of many towns in the UK, offering free advice on a wide range of topics. The Bureau also operates a satellite organisation known as the Debt Advice Trust, giving free debt advice supported by the government. A free phone number can be called, which is staffed by experienced debt counsellors.

Online Debt Help

An alternative to debt help lines is provided by the CCCS (Consumer Credit Counselling Service). Their website gives clients the option of filling out an online form with details of their income, debts and expenditure. Within a short time span clients receive back a suggested debt management plan based on the information provided.

The Sterling Trust charity offers another form of online debt help. Clients, as with the CCCS, enter their financial information online. Their income and debts are then compared to produce a repayment plan. The site also provides letters which can be printed off and sent to creditors, explaining individual situations and how debts will be repaid.

Advantages of Free Debt Advice

In addition to costing nothing receiving free debt help from a charity should ensure that any advice given is fair and impartial. There are now more opportunities than ever to obtain free debt advice in the UK. In the current financial climate debt is affecting more and more people. The charities and organisations described above are working to help as many people as possible regain control of their finances.

How to Market a Business: Ten Ways to Set Your Organization Apart

1) Develop a written marketing plan that defines objectives for today, the immediate future, and projected future. Your marketing plan should encompass budget, headcount, new technology, and trends.

2) Once you establish marketing goals, communicate them to the entire organization. Every employee in your firm, regardless of title or position, helps market your company. When everyone is on the same page the marketing effort becomes that much stronger.

3) Hire marketing people that know how to write and design to avoid unnecessary outsourcing costs, and use marketing dollars wisely to create quality brochures, proposal materials, and online newsletters. Printed material has a limited shelf life so create items that can be easily updated.

4) Develop a strong public relations strategy, as it will help customers get to know your firm in ways advertising cannot. Public relations may involve the development of news items that appears in objective sources, expanding an element of community service, or just managing the press your firm already receives.

5) Engage in advertising that will produce the biggest impact. If your budget is tight, don’t dole out small amounts of advertising dollars for things like marketing “trinkets” or a series of small ads. Instead, determine your target client base and develop regular ad placement in a publication your prime customers peruse often.

6) Make sure all collateral material is consistent with other areas of your brand. Be consistent with the look and content of proposals, brochures, letterhead, business cards, and job signs. Consistency is what helps customers develop recognition for your firm.

7) Determine what your firm does better than any of your rival businesses, then market that skill to differentiate from your competition. Once you define your firm’s unique area of expertise, reiterate this in proposals, advertising, and public relations.

8) Understand what your brand really represents. It can be difficult to take a step back from your company and see it as a customer would, but this is an important step to marketing. Pay close attention to what customers say about you.

9) Banish the fire drill mentality in preparing proposals. A clearly communicated set of expectations with regard to proposals will help everyone on the team understand their role in the process. Project managers, sales, marketing, and management should all be involved.

10) Lack of communication, support, or clear-cut goals will only serve to cause frustration between you and your marketing staff, so clearly communicate expectations. For example, saying you want to get “some press” for your organization is not a clear goal, telling them you’d like coverage by the end of the year in a specific magazine is. If marketing people take direction from more than one person at your firm make sure everyone is on the same page with what the role of marketing should be.

The marketing effort of an organization includes all structured attempts to first acquire and then maintain a customer. When all elements of marketing are put together successfully under the umbrella of an overall marketing plan these efforts can increase sales, provide brand awareness, and solidify your reputation in the market.

How to Say No: How to say no to extra work without feeling guilty

Do you get overloaded at work because you hate to say ‘’no.’’ This is a common problem, one that you can’t afford if you’re too busy already.

So, how can you turn down these requests without feeling guilty? The key is to say ‘’yes’’ but give a different kind of help – anything but taking the monkey on your back. Offer advice or suggestions. Ask the person to talk you through how he would do the work.

We find it hard to say ‘’no’’ because we don’t want to give the impression that the person or the task is unimportant. Even if the person doesn’t get this message, we might worry that we gave this impression anyway. So, a good strategy is to counter this feeling, both in yourself and in the other person. You might say that you can see how important this task is and stress how much you would like to help. Instead of apologizing and saying that you are just too busy, it is always better to focus on the other person’s needs instead of your own. If you say you can’t do the work, you might make yourself look bad or feel bad. It is much better to talk about the person’s need to get a job done. Instead of saying you can’t do it, stress the point that to give this task the justice it deserves you would need to dedicate so many hours to it. And, because you wouldn’t want to disappoint the person with a poor job, you might have to delay it for a certain length of time. Then say that you could perhaps be of more assistance by showing the person how to do the task or referring him to someone else.

If the person asking you to do the task is your boss, ask her what the priority for it is relative to other things you have on the go. If you regard your boss as one of your most important customers, it is a good idea to check regularly to see how her needs are shifting and how you should invest your resources to enable her to achieve her needs. This serves as a reminder to your boss that you have quite a lot on your plate, and it may help her to think more carefully about how to make the best use of you rather than simply dumping everything on you. The key is to negotiate priorities rather than simply say you can’t do it.

How to Play to Your Strengths: Think Strategically about Yourself for Career Success

For career success, you are told to play to your strengths. Sounds simple except that you may not be fully aware of your strengths or of what is required in a particular job.

We aren’t very aware of our strengths because we discount them. Things we enjoy doing and find easy to do are indicative of strengths, but precisely because they come easy to us, we say that it is just our job or surely anyone can do that. When we get a compliment for doing something well, we are surprised because we thought there was nothing to it. Conversely, we are keenly aware of our weaknesses. As a result, we have an unbalanced self-perception. The reality is that we have many more strengths than weaknesses.

It also depends on who we compare ourselves with. If you compare yourself to Jack Welch, you may see more gaps in your portfolio of strengths than if you compare yourself to a junior colleague. Also, if you are in a specialist function, say finance, you may not know much about marketing, operations or human resources. So, you can always find people who know more than you do about something or who have strengths that you lack.

Strategic Strengths and Weaknesses

Skills are only career strengths if they relate to success at work. You might be a ping pong ace but this won’t help you get that management job you want. You might be hopeless at selling anything, but this is irrelevant if you don’t want a career in selling. So, we have strategic strengths and strategic weaknesses. The former are those that most closely fit whatever career direction you are pursuing while the latter are just those weaknesses that might block you from getting where you want to go. The good news is that you don’t need to fix all your weaknesses if they aren’t standing in the way of your preferred career path.

There is an excellent reason to play to your strengths, once you have identified them. It is well known that people have more confidence when they are doing things they are good at. Success is more likely, you will appear more decisive and you will inspire more confidence in the key people you need to impress. On the other hand, if you continually play to your weaker side, you will appear hesitant, clumsy and lacking in confidence. Worse, your discomfort could well undermine your confidence in your strengths.

When looking for a new job, start by assessing fit. Will your target job be a good match for your strategic strengths? There will always be some learning to do in a new role, but make sure that your major weaknesses won’t get too much exposure.

Why Businesses Are Going Green: The Benefits of Becoming an Eco-Friendly Corporation

The release of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” caused quite a stir, attracting both criticism and applause in equally large quantities. Regardless of whether you are a believer or a sceptic, this documentary, which looks into how mankind is contributing to global warming, has really got people thinking about how their actions impact on our environment. The film reflects a growing trend in which more and more people are deciding whether or not they use a company based on their environmental standpoint. This can be seen in the countless blogs and forums that are springing up around the globe, with the main focus being on which companies are environment friendly and produce ‘green’ products and services.

Many corporations are incredibly resistant to changing traditions and ways of doing things that have been built up over the course of many years. However, there are actually a lot of benefits to going green. Plus, if companies don’t alter their habits to fit in with the changing viewpoint of the population, they will soon be left behind by their quicker, smarter rivals.

A Healthier Bottom Line

Many business owners believe that changing their processes to fit in with a more eco-friendly world will be expensive and time consuming. While it is true that environmentally friendly products can be more costly to purchase, in the long run they can save you and your business an awful lot of money. For example, using high-efficiency lightbulbs, such as compact fluorescents, will cost you 75% less to run than standard lightbulbs and will last 10 times longer. Using email as much as possible, instead of sending faxes and emails, will also significantly reduce your company’s overheads. According to document delivery company Captaris, an enterprise with 30,000 employees that sends and receives two pages a day can save over $2 million a year by digitalising its paperwork.

Keeping the Customer Happy

Increasing numbers of people are deciding whether or not they use a company based on how eco-friendly they are. This means that it is becoming more and more important that businesses make environmentalism a part of their brand.

What Else Can You Do?

There are numerous things that you can do to make your business more environmentally friendly. You can take steps towards becoming CarbonNeutrual. You can reduce waste by recycling paper and making sure that you dispose of items such as unwanted office furniture, batteries, lighting and plastic in the appropriate manner. You can also choose suppliers that back packaging for reuse. The possibilities are endless.

Let the World Know about Your Eco-Friendly Stance

While you may feel uncomfortable about ‘blowing your own trumpet’ when it comes to green issues, don’t keep your eco-friendly activities and achievements hidden under a bushel. Customers, clients and shareholders will all want to know about your green efforts. Most individuals will be happy to learn that they are dealing with a responsible, environmentally aware corporation.

If you are not quite sure how to sensitively publicise the fact that you are taking some steps towards being more sustainable and eco-friendly, you can always contact a reputable public relations agency. A number of ‘green’ PR companies, including Green Planet PR in the United Kingdom, have sprung up in recent years. These consultancies only take on green businesses as clients and focus primarily on making people aware of environmental issues. Other agencies, such as Intermediary Communications in New Zealand and MWW Group in the United States, make a special effort to incorporate green PR and corporate social responsibility services into all of their strategies.

New Craft Business Ideas: What Types of Crafts Will You Make?

If you are a mom with preschool to elementary aged children, you probably have a degree of experience with crafting. Some older people have been knitting, crocheting, and weaving for years. Did you ever think you could turn that into a business?

Even Pace

One word of caution is not to try and make several things at first. On one hand, you will drive yourself crazy trying to put together multiple crafts without even knowing how well they will sell at first, and on the other hand, you cannot “specialize” with too many hands in the pot. What this means is, people will tend to take your craft business more seriously if they think you are specialized in certain things.

Let the Juices Flow

Try to be creative. A lot of crafters will make the same old thing year after year, month after month, and you will see duplicate crafts everywhere. Be unique. Sell something that is not on the market quite so abundantly.

Materials Needed

Once you decide what you will make you will want to decide on the materials needed. You can find wonderful sales if you look hard enough at department stores and local craft retailers. You might also consider some Internet sites that offer deep discounted craft supplies, such as Factory Direct Crafts or Sunshine Crafts. Another great place to buy craft supplies is eBay. Search on Hobbies & Crafts, and then choose the subcategory for the types of supplies you are looking for. There are some really good prices on eBay!

You want to buy quality materials. People can tell when you have skimped on materials. Crafts just don’t look as nice with cheaper materials. You will probably be happier knowing you sold a top of the line product. That is how you build a reputation in the crafting community. Familiarity with materials will come in time, but you should take the time to become knowledgeable about the materials you are using.

Making a Profit

Of course, you want and need to make a profit. After all, that is why you are considering starting a craft business. You will be, in essence, a craft retailer. Retail businesses cannot stay in business if they are not profitable. Once you decide on your product, you must price materials and add extra money into how long the project will take you to make and how much profit you are willing to settle for. This is not an easy task and deserves some deliberation on your part. You want to be fair to yourself.

Finding Time to Craft

You will want to find a time to put your crafts together when you are calm and relaxed. Trying to put crafts together in the mornings when kids are getting ready for school, etc., can be tricky and stressful. That makes for a nervous atmosphere for crafting. You may want to assemble crafts and think of new ideas while the children are watching a movie in the afternoon or when they go to bed. Find your most productive time.

Craft Business Plan: Business License Information and Bookkeeping

Starting a craft business does not require as much upfront capital as a regular small business. That is the good news. The other news is that it does take some capital. Here are some tips for acquiring the proper license and ways to keep good records for your new business.

Should I Get a Loan?

It is suggested that you do not start your craft business with acquiring a loan. A loan is something you will have to commit to and getting those monthly reminders can be quite a hassle. Simplify your business. Don’t get into debt over this venture. You can simply fund your business with your own money. Raise some money first by having a yard sale (or selling “stuff” on eBay). Take that extra money to fund your business.

Obtaining Proper Licenses

While a craft business can be lots of fun and hard work, the hard work is not over yet. It is imperative that you are properly licensed to sell your crafts. You will need to contact your State Business Licensing Department to get the details on how to get a business license. It usually costs nothing or next-to-nothing to obtain such a license and can be done very easily. You will need to charge and report sales tax on a quarterly or monthly basis to the proper taxation authorities. They will usually automatically send you proper tax forms to be completed. In fact, most taxation departments allow you to make payments on-line, if that is your kind of thing. Please take the time to do this part right. You don’t want to have the hassles of backtracking and searching for records if something is asked of you. Make sure you file properly with the IRS, as well. You will want to use Form 1040-ES to file quarterly. Visit the Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource for all the information you need to file properly.

Bookkeeping Information

You can find terrific bookkeeping software at great prices, if you look for sales. It will keep track of all your expenses and income for you and you don’t have to worry about manually keeping track of those things. Quicken is a good program for bookkeeping needs, but there are many, many other brand names, too. Of course, you can do the work manually. There is really nothing wrong with that approach.

Get a separate checking account for your business. It just keeps your business separate and makes the bookkeeping easier. Most banks offer free checking, so that makes it even more attractive to do this.

You will want to itemize your expenses by materials, craft show table costs, advertising costs, etc. As well, you will want to itemize your income as eBay income, craft show income, in-home parties income, etc. All this requires is a little note in the memo section of your checkbook. That is one reason why you should use a software program for bookkeeping because it is so easy to sort your itemized assets and liabilities. This way you will know where you are making and spending the most money. You can always allocate funds from one place to another, but at least you will know where money is coming and going from. And, if you use your craft business income as extra income for the family, personal needs, etc., you can transfer funds to your regular checking account.