Can strike action ever be a positive thing? Reply

On the 30th June 2011 we are likely to see 750,000 public sectors go on strike with the potential of over 3 million workers going on strike in the autumn. The UK has to cut costs, is striking really the best way to solve our problems?

I appreciate that raising the retirement age, increasing pension contributions and job cuts are not going to be popular but strikes won’t help, positive constructive negotiation and ideas are what we need.

For those not involved in the strike action we need to work on strategies to limit the impact on our businesses and avoid further damage to our fragile economy.

steve@bicknells.net

When you buy an ERP system, what happens post order? Reply

Enterprise Resource Planning systems such as Microsoft Dynamics can be configured in many ways.

Prior to Order, you will probably have issued an RFP (Request for Proposal) and had a bid process. Typically a Dynamics system might start from £200k with probably half the cost or more being for consultancy.

Once you have selected your supplier, the first stage is Systems Design, I have worked on many of these, basically, you gather information on how the business works now, right down to fine detail such as how control accounts are used and what reports are currently used, then you consider what is possible with the new ERP system, what is the best way to perform tasks, how are results reported, some of the information will be flowcharted and a route map drawn up to get from where the business is now to the new ERP system. It is a highly detailed process, my reports were typically 200 pages long and the supplier and client sign off the report before configuration work starts.

Next the system experts get to work and make a mock up of the system and then workshops are done with senior management and directors to makesure the clients instructions have been correctly intrepreted, this process is then signed off.

The next stage is Training, normally immediately before the system goes live.

If you need any help let me know.

steve@bicknells.net

How to account for 46,343 members eating breakfasts 4 times a week Reply

For anyone running a large networking or membership organisation coping with thousands of transactions of the same value is a challenge. In the case of 4Networking, Tuesday to Friday thousands of members are booking breakfasts online for £10 each (they all need a VAT receipt), so what information do they analyse, well they need to know, which member or visitor, which group/venue, which area leader, for visitors they need to know the number of visits (so that they can charge when the maximum is reached), when membership renewals are due. Thats a lot of information and to run an efficient network you need to quickly see the results and take action if attendees drop.

The solution that we used was to have a description made up of numbers separated with a # so that you could quickly extract results for any data group or multiple groups.

The other challenge faced is that Memberships cover a future period and to comply with revenue recognition rules the revenue must be phased over the period to which it relates.

steve@bicknells.net

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – KTP Reply

I attended a excellent presentation today from Bournemouth University and Dorset Cereals on KTPs, under the scheme a Gradute is recruited jointly by the company and the University and placed at the company for up to 36 months. You also get University support of half a day a week.

The Graduate is engaged to work on strategic projects within the business and the business contributes a 33% to 50% towards the cost, the rest is grant funded.

It sounds like an excellent scheme as you not only get a graduate but also get help from the University too.

Find out more at http://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/businessfunding

steve@bicknells.net

Could Referralkey.com work for your business? 1

In the last few days I have started receiving lots of requests to become a colleague on Referral Key. Its Free, its measurable, you set a price you are prepared to pay to get successful referrals, so it sounds pretty good to me, but is it any better than any other form of social networking? I am always happy to refer business to people I know without looking for financial reward because I believe in the ‘Givers gain’ philosophy.

steve@bicknells.net

Training Grant of upto £1000 Reply

Matched funding is now available from Skill South East for Leadership and Management Training, the maximum funding is £1000 Grant when you spend £2000 on Training.

Provided you have at least 2 employees and can show that your business has the potential for fast growth you should qualify.

Bicknell Business Advisers are approved providers but we also have access to bartercard trainers who can provide training too.

If you want to know more drop me an e mail steve@bicknells.net

Sharing Profit without losing Control Reply

Retaining talent or to give special rights to specific investors or creating an incentive for associated businesses to use your company are all good commercial reasons why you might create multiple share classes.

Normally you would have Class A Shares with voting rights (so that the ownership is kept unchanged) and the other Classes of Share (for example Class B etc) would receive a share of the profits via dividends. Setting these classes up is quite straight forward and guidance is available from Companies House.

But watch out for the Settlement Legislation(rules which seek to prevent individuals diverting income to pay less tax), take a look at this link

http://www.rossmartin.co.uk/index.php/sme-tax-news/35-sme-tax-news/451-a-new-settlements-case-with-a-twist

steve@bicknells.net

If the taxman comes knocking…….try ESC A19 Reply

The recent press has been full of details of HMRC investigations into small businesses and individuals to try to get more tax in and penalties, the taxman is trying to recover £3.8bn in PAYE. Current figures (quoted in the Sunday Telegraph today) show that 25000 people have had their debt written off by citing the Extra Statutory Concession A19.

The Low Income Tax Reform Group has some excellent guidance on A19 and template letters, check out this link for details

http://www.litrg.org.uk/Resources/LITRG/LITRG_ESC_A19_Guide_Oct2010.pdf

steve@bicknells.net

How I use Linked In 1

When I first joined linked in, I didn’t join any groups and just added key contacts, but over the last few months I have changed my approach and discovered the true value of linked in. I am now in 50 groups, some which a flit in and out of, when I join I always contribute with comments, discussion items and polls. When I see other group members I would like to meet I generally invite them to link in to me.

Recently I have discovered that putting your e mail address in your header information helps and people who would like to contact you can then make contact.

I know that Linked In say you shouldn’t connect to people you don’t know, but that seems crazy to me, when I go networking I don’t say I am not talking to you because I don’t know you. I believe making contact with people you don’t know gives you a chance to make new contacts, if you later don’t want to be associated with them you can delete them.

steve@bicknells.net

Think strategically! make yourself a cunning plan Reply

If you don’t know where you want to go, how do you know which direction to head off in? sounds simple doesn’t it, but I know for a fact that most businesses don’t have a plan and start in business because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Let’s not go mad, but start by setting out 5 things you want to achieve this year relating to income, markets, clients, systems etc. Then try to think about some overall objectives for the next 2 years, before you know it you will have a strategy for the next 3 years.

Then you can set some milestones and regularly check if you are on track.

Steve@bicknells.net