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Doing The Dip.

First it was the news from the BBA about mortgage approvals being at an 18 month low, followed by the Nationwide price   index showing a price fall in October and there are many articles and market data about which should put the numbers into perspective regarding a consistent weakness and the problems of property purchase, most especially for first time buyers,  even with the addition of a housing supply, stamp duty holiday and low Interest Rates being in the buyer’s favour.  The stability of house prices, inflating credit costs, credit supply shrinking all seems a retro concept.

No Track Record

LEP’s are not a fusion of vinyl LPs and EP’s, Local Enterprise Partnerships are a new body that will be spoken about instead of RDA’s – Regional Development Agencies - and are a fusion of councils and businesses who will be bidding for money from the Regional Growth Fund. How the LEP’s will function and create new businesses and jobs appears to have some scratches and clicks for editing.

First Meetings
The Small Business Economic Forum held its first meeting  recently during which businesses and Banks met with ministers to share views on enterprise and economic issues for small firms. We haven’t seen a copy of the Agenda but assume that business lending will no doubt have been up at the top.

Under 18`s Only

Tax-Free savings for children may replace the Baby Bond in the form of an ISA which will allow over 8’s also opening an Account.  Mum or Dad gets to choose if the investment is in cash or Stocks and Shares and Junior  will get to choose at 18 where the party is.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Basel s brushing  around  as, after the Banking Supervision Committee said it will require lenders to have common equity capital to at least 4.5% of assets and will introduce a 2.5% buffer, the news was generally one of acceptance.  There are now mumblings of it being too excessive and debate will continue.

Accountancy Counts  according to a new survey by a US magazine. Accountancy groups are the most accommodating to female staff  juggling full-time work and motherhood, a list made from questions given to 600 firms about working life. Meanwhile, the number of financial service firms in the survey fell from 26 to 17.  The UK awards are due 5 October.

A diamond  shines for some Landlords as Paragon has returned to the buy-to-let lenders market. Lots of news out there about this welcome news and we’re here with the details if you want to examine the diamond further.

Another Brick in the Wall for Banks – Doubtless that the story of frustrations with the Banks leading to headlines isn’t news any longer, however, for those that might not have heard, basically it would seem that in Bournemouth 3 chaps, fed up with their Bank’s attitude, decided to close the door and, for good measure, brick it up. With a name that sounds as though it needs a Phil Collins aka Cadbury ads , massive drum build-up before they are mentioned, the Recessionairs chose their Bank at random for their protest. Lots of press coverage with variety of responding comments.

Classic investment  for someone as Ian Fleming’s Ford powered Acecas has gone under the hammer  in a sale.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Inflaming Opinion.

“Do you mean to tell me, that you have hung your slender reputation on the broad shoulders of a eunuch cat?”
A sarcastic comment made about a Marmalade Cat character in the Orlando books, bitter response when success was observed by a less successful peer of the author. Written by a painter  the stories conveyed   possibility and, although success wasn’t guaranteed, the author had a persistence which guaranteed her reputation along with, for those who enjoyed the stories, guaranteed memories.

Reputation suspends from a business’s character and it is from which customers or employees reflect on their experiences, not realising reputation sticks like a shadow, indifference can be costly to business  because a business reputation goes out to its readers; investors, suppliers, purchasers, possible new, or current, customers and employees. Leaving reputation exposed without a backward glance, held as if by the driest adhesive to a greasy wall, it’s intangible yet an essential asset, acquisition that can’t be bought but coveted and cultivated relative to peer businesses, holding both potential and retention in terms of sustained financial outcome and the addition of value.

Fighting fires consumes any business, invariably there are always more problems than hours or people to do them, and ongoing problems can overtake each other for attention.  Enter Jack-be-Nimble, the Ace up the sleeve attitude of successful small business, whose ability is to quickly jump over candles and prevent  them becoming fires through direct  overseeing of business; outsourcing, networking and generally responding quickly  to any slack, actively looking for the fire before it takes hold. Support that  non-corporate business  implements to reach out and add, not subtract value, to reputation.  Whilst many of the big boys are aware of reputation management  and usually have the matching big budgets in place, smaller businesses are all too often not even aware of their reputation.  Sites such as Facebook  are perfect environment for a business to be reassured by the 99 people who are happy with them versus the 1 who might not be but, encouraged by the support, as opposed to a reactive or defensive reaction, aim should remain always to understand the 1 and prevent any reaction through aggravation.  Monitoring, for the small business, doesn’t necessitate a big budget, however, it does mean that any avenue used as measuring stick, requires overseeing, as opinion, being abstract, will always mean unhappy customers. Business basics are no different from Orlando’s time, however, the world of business is very different. A reputation doesn’t have to be as old as this fictional moggie but will be rooted in authenticity, therefore intentions need to be built upon every day because every size of business with a mainstay of service is susceptible to reputation. Seemingly acting as a mirror, reputation shouldn’t be confused with image, and it’s important that the little guys know they can be David to their Goliaths, therefore abilities, of those beneath the radar of Corporate, should include amongst their armoury, an awareness of the need for reputation to come from within before it moves to any peripheral arena.

Smaller organisations and their advocates are aware  they can rarely use price as an advantage for using them but are always able to illustrate the powerful advantage of being up close to the customer. With an ability to be flexible and react to their customer’s requirements, getting to the root of any problem is a successful fire blanket for business and its reputation, and should give businesses a sense of satisfaction with the way they run their businesses reputation –  which is different from Orlando’s perceived self-satisfaction.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Round-Up of Articles and News:

 

A warning from the Financial Ombudsman has been given regarding fraudulent emails that claim to come from their service. As always with such emails the use of logos and images are tagged to requests for Bank Account details and personal documentation. Full details can be found on the Ombudsman site.

For those who like numbers, The City’s Guide to Sources of Statistics    as a comprehensive guide to statistics might be of interest.

8  students are being offered the chance by HSBC to win a £15,000 bursary. Uploading a 90 second video could transform the university experience.

Articles and current news worth reading are online at:  The Independent  or Telegraph  or Guardian  or BBC . 

Not News but certainly of interest to some -  Quick answers to a couple of questions that have come through our Tuesday clinic:

What are the best banks for small businesses?  The short answer is, one that is sympathetic to your needs, long and short term. Make a list of what types of service you will require immediately and what types of service you may require as the business progresses.  Business Banking is different from Business Borrowing

When a business is being professionally valued, how is `potential’ taken into account?   Professional Business Valuation is a complicated process which breaks down areas of a business to determine the true market value, objectively, focusing on the good, the bad and the intangible. The mix of assets, leverage, liabilities, economy and other aspects are added and subtracted along with the businesses numbers to prepare a professional valuation. It can be a lengthy process and will involve others, such as Accountant, for up to date details and evidence gathering from the archives along with the businesses ability to do business, profitably.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Look after your Valuables.

Business value is different from value that is personally placed on something.  When thinking about, for example, the three most valuable things either to oneself, a wider context, or ones business, each top three  is likely derived using different criteria. Which, of the chosen items, has an enabling trade price?  Chances are the most valuable may not have the most trading value, because, although much is seemingly banded about that everything has a price, the most precious things are usually priceless and immune from such type of trading.  Just like those TV programmes in which an article is brought in to be valued, `because not enough is known about the history’, the green light to put the item up for sale is virtually visible and the pound signs begin rolling in the eye socket’s of the holder of the item, given by `a very dear friend, aunt or uncle’,  as they are told an amount beyond their guesstimate. When did the item change from being valuable to the person, to being valuable enough to sell?  Likely when the price was given because the item never held any value, other than it being `possibly valuable’ and they were therefore removed from sentiment; the  For Sale sign was ready to put out as their eyebrows raised at such fortunate news.

It would therefore follow, in business, that the larger a business, the weaker an awareness of what is valued, insomuch that the business structure might remove, or be removed, from what that business values. Yet, the more value becomes diluted, the less likely such a business will be valued compared to the business who takes a concern beyond self-interest.  To think beyond what Blake termed `mind forged manacles’ or, without going into a lengthy analysis, the way things are done without question, is always challenging, but businesses creating success surely need the least shackles possible. Faced with an increasingly abstract concept of  business  ‘You say tomato I say tomahto’  is a minor difference compared to the diversity within markets, Companies, management roles,  job titles, finance  and business language, as the ‘mind forged’ manacles of business  have, ironically, been given a twist with unrestricted ideas, therefore, for a business area such as Marketing, uncertainty in direction can have a result in a domino-effect towards, for example, identity, customers, staff and ultimately sales or turnover.

All businesses have the groan task or conversation which, each time it comes around on the `to do’ list, will be followed by a groan far worse than the one that used to be given on a Sunday night when it was realised the least favourite subjects homework was still to do for Monday morning.  In such a circumstance,  business isn’t unaware but it might be dis-organised. Constantly questioning why things are run in a certain way and questioning decisions before they are taken, including asking those on the receiving end; staff, customers or clients can highlight strengths and weaknesses. Fresh perception, or approach, or gaining trust will garner response: a huge value to any business and one which is incalculable, the more someone is trusted, the more they will respond so creating opportunities for honest dialogue or feedback as an insight can only raise the standard all around in a cycle of  `business quantitative easing and improvement’, no matter how small or big, in raising aspiration and potential and ultimate profit.

(Image credit: rpongsaj   Article credit: Copyright SUF)

At a time of annual fetes, festivals, fairs and holidays in general we thought we’d give the news site a break this month, although it won’t be in recess for as long as either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Meanwhile some online reading picks to take you through the month:

Media/Marketing at Seth Godin’s Blog

Retail with a Twist at Tescopoly

Looking around big business

All things property

Always a favourite

And some paper picks:
Ayn Rand  Atlas Shrugged – a marmite book

Marc Levinson The Box  – Watched the programme?  Now read the book

The Stieg Larrson Trilogy – Another marmite moment

Nassim Taleb  The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable  – Some interesting ideas

Let us know your thoughts and what we should add to the list.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF )

Language You’ll Understand:  Business

Whilst amongst French friends a phrase was required but missing from known vocabulary to convey appreciation of their generous hospitality. Having later obtained the missing phrase it was repeated to the accommodating hosts during a car journey. The car came to a grinding halt as the French host, agitated, reverted to fluent French. Any knowledge of French or English vanished, completely sealed away as both sides swayed towards panic and hysteria simply because someone had thought it would be humorous, whilst we thought we were paying a compliment, for us to exchange a vulgar and corrupted phrase. Needless to say, after the discovery was made and some laughter exchanged, the phrase was used again, along with a few more familiar phrases, when the one who’d divulged it appeared.

The point is that, if you want to aim for success, there is no escape when learning a new language, you have to be prepared to take a risk. Living in the land of business is no different because businesses don’t have a universal tongue. Have you ever been in the situation of hearing a foreign language and understanding some of it but not quite knowing how to speak it?  That’s how business operates. Elements of business include some of the same vocabulary; work ethic, aptitude, understanding the functions of business and employees, personnel issues, use of resources, marketing and profit. But  improving business skills takes effort, awareness and repetition, as with any language acquisition. Understanding your businesses’ language is just the start of an ongoing process because it may seem that businesses talk the same language, but they don’t.  That is why successful businesses are always prepared to immerse themselves in a new language and talk to the natives.

5  Key Tips for Minding Your Businesses’ Language

1.     Start Over : It’s easy to forget how much we each know about our businesses  and easy to forget that others speak a different language. Go right back to basics and look at the business from outsiders eyes. Think in a new language and don’t forget just as language has dialect, so too does business. Keep things simple and don’t try to overcomplicate things. Identify your core vocabulary, add some basics that are required to run your business such as cashflow, and profit margin, then build on those. Don’t fixate on your ideals listen to your customer ‘s needs to reinforce your model.

2.     Share Experiences :  When business is the common ground there are many areas and practices that can be shared which will add value to yourself, those you are sharing with and, ultimately the customer. Learn from each other’s mistakes. Rarely will those businesses be direct competition and exchanges can become strengthening. Go with the flow and absorb the things that you are comfortable with rather than feeling you have to know everything. Open up to conversation otherwise you’ll be talking to yourself. You don’t need to learn the language to try the conversation.

3.     Talk : It may seem too obvious but if you want to learn a language the best way is to try to speak it. Fear can stop us from wanting to communicate but most businesses enjoy learning from each other. Communicating isn’t just talking your business needs to be able to intonate and be aware of its body language to make itself understood. Communicate with other skilled and experienced experts or businesses, get to know their language. Sometimes business isn’t aware of other cultures.

4.     Ask questions : Be inquisitive. Those who want to talk will, and those who don’t, won’t. Conversing and interacting with other businesses extends the back to basics and, although your specific culture might not be mutual, there are many things that you’ll have in common as being in business is your root commonality, just as so many languages have a root commonality. There are many business thoughts, ideas, media, books that are not product or service specific. Perfection isn’t the key to communication.

5.     Just do it : Best practice makes perfect, seek out opportunities. Making mistakes is all part of developing your business, obviously costly ones need to be avoided but networking is all about extending your community which in turn extends your skills. Not many are lucky enough to visit every country in the world  to learn a language and business is no different.  It’s better to be very skilled in one specific area with  fluency as the objective  remembering  it can take many years to be fluent in a second, or more, language. Try to enjoy the journey, enjoy the learning.

(Image credit: cogdogblog   Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Additional  Choice to Social Lending

A new entrant to social lending has appeared, Yes-secure will be offering competitive loans, as in the vein of the first online Bank, Zopa, allowing consumers to both lend and borrow money to each other online via a social network element, with a prime focus of the borrowing and lending process. Lenders bid on member loan listings, between £10 and £25,000 currently being  offered for Yes-secure and £1,000 to £15,000 from Zopa,  with charges and credit checks taken for the P2P model for UK resident borrowers and lenders.

Flood Warnings to Businesses

The Environment Agency has put out a warning to tourism businesses regarding Health and Safety responsibilities as the holiday season starts, with regard to floods for both customers and businesses in terms of danger and damage. In their report for 2007 the average cost per flooded business was £75,0000  to  £112,000 with 5% of  businesses not covered by insurance.

Supermarkets Move into New Areas

After hearing of Asda’s intentions to build commercial developments around its stores and move into commercial property development, Tesco’s property venture with British Land, Waitrose’s hunt for a distribution hub, Spar’s announcement for Haven Holiday sites, and Sainsbury’s  considering opening up in China it seems the big boys are on the move again.

Précis of Emergency Budget

For those who might have missed elements from the Boy George’s recent Red Box delivery, we’ve picked out a couple of catch-ups for you:
1. Full HM Treasury Budget Report

2. BBC Budget Calculator

3. Entrepreneurs viewpoint

4. Money Observer

And finally……….

Some Summer reading, as recommended by and to us, with a business or associated perspective - Let us know your thoughts and what we should add to the list.

2020 Vision -  Stan Davis and Bill Davison

Capitalism: The Unknown Deal – Ayn Rand

The Dilbert Principle – Scott Adams
Against the Odds – James Dyson

The Back of the Napkin – Dan Roam

Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)


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