How To Spend

Wise Money Management and Spending Tips

Month: February 2021

Could Outsourcing Save Your Business?

Slash Your Monthly Business Expenses By Choosing Freelancers

A lean operational business model which makes use of outsourcing could be what’s needed to save 15% of UK businesses this year.

New research published by London School of Economics confirms what many Brits have suspected – UK businesses are in trouble. With lockdown restrictions and a lack of trade during the pandemic, almost 15% of businesses are at risk of imminent closure. This equates to 906,000 businesses within the UK. Micro businesses with less than 10 employees are thought to be even more vulnerable.

If your business is fighting to survive, then one of your top priorities will be to look at how to save money from your outgoing budget, especially when your profits may be low to zero during lockdown.

One tried and tested way for businesses to make major cost savings is to consider outsourcing. Here’s how this business strategy works.

Restructuring Your Business Tasks

You can divide up the tasks required by your business model into those that can be handled in-house and those that can be outsourced. Remember that just because the work can be completed internally, doesn’t mean it’s the best or most affordable option for your company. One of the main advantages of outsourcing is that it can free up both time and money, which are both essential commodities for your business.

What Tasks Do Freelancers Perform?

If money is tight and you’d rather not keep on permanent staff to handle dedicated tasks such as marketing, then you can choose to outsource these areas of your business instead. Professional freelancers are readily available to handle a variety of essential jobs for your business. These include IT, virtual admin, marketing, audio transcription, accounts, web design, graphics and copywriting. Although if you need something more niche, there are global freelancers available to take on the most specialised or unique tasks you require.

Save Money On Training

If the cost of training your staff up to perform routine tasks is out of the question at the moment, then using highly skilled freelancers is a cost-efficient alternative. Although you will need to spend some initial time bringing your outsourced professional up to speed, you can develop a long-term working relationship with them so that it’s easy to integrate their skills within your business. It’s often not necessary to pay a retainer, meaning that you can just brief them whenever you need a task to be completed.

Reduced Costs

The savings you can make by choosing outsourcing for your business can be split into three main categories. Firstly, you’ll only for the work you need to be carried out, which can be as regular or sporadic as you require. Secondly, as your freelanced professional is not a PAYE employee, you’re under no obligation to provide them with a pension, sick leave, holiday pay or any other company benefits.

Finally, if your business is based in an expensive location such as London or the south-east, then the salary of a permanent worker might need to be competitive to retain the best candidates as part of your team. If this is crippling your business, then outsourcing can save you a fortune. Some of the brightest freelance talent is located overseas in regions where the salary demands are a fraction of UK earnings.

If your business is struggling during the pandemic, and can’t be saved through government support packages, then check out outsourcing as an option to help you slash your outgoings and forge a survival plan for 2021.

How to Get Your Static Caravan Ready for Spring

Prepare your caravan for the new season as we say goodbye to winter

As winter draws to an end, it’s time to give your caravan some TLC and get it ready for the new season. While a big spring clean is obviously essential we have a few more tips to get your caravan looking its best. Many of these are also good things to check if you’re looking at static caravans for sale as it can help you figure out which have been well looked after…

Check the exterior for weather damage

Give the outside of your caravan a thorough check to see if it has taken any damage due to winter storms and cold weather. You want to ensure that windows, skylights, seams, guttering, tiles and ariels are still intact and watertight. Check the panels for dents, cracks and holes.

Put the heating on

Even if you’re lucky with the weather and it feels warm enough, it’s best practice to get the heating on for a few hours to check everything is in working order.

Look for water damage or mould

Areas of mould and damp are common in static caravans, especially if they have been shut up for the winter with no ventilation. It’s always a good idea to open the windows and allow your static caravan to “breathe” after you’ve spent some time away from it.

Check the areas where moisture occurs like bathrooms, around windows and doors and on the ceiling. If you do find any damp or mould then use a strong mould-removing cleaning product to get rid of it. Using a dehumidifier for a few hours will help draw moisture from the air and from places it is hard to detect, like soft furnishings.

Assess the safety equipment

You should check the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector as regularly as possible, but it’s helpful to use the new season as a prompt to remind you.

Take a look at other safety equipment, such as fire blankets and fire extinguishers, to make sure they are not damaged and are ready to be used in the event of an emergency.

Ensure the taps are working

After you have turned the water back on then flush the toilet and let all your taps run hot and cold water for a couple of minutes. This will make sure the water system is running correctly.

Tick the odd jobs off your list

Now is a great time to complete the list of random jobs that you’ve been putting off. It could be replacing a light bulb, tightening a hinge or giving something a fresh lick of paint. Whatever it is, you’ll be pleased you got it done before the season kicked off!

 

If you’ve followed these tips then your static caravan should be in top condition and ready for spring and beyond. Putting in the time to do these maintenance checks once or twice a year will increase the longevity of your caravan overall.

How To Kickstart Your Legal Career Without A Degree

Vocational Opportunities Within The Legal Industry

Eager to get started in a career in law, but haven’t followed the traditional route of getting a degree? Consider these career options instead.

With over 133,000 practising solicitors in the UK, and almost 16,000 barristers, the legal industry is a competitive environment. In fact, only around 72.5% of applications to study law at UK universities are successful according to the Lawyer Portal, leaving more than a quarter of applicants disappointed.

If you’d love to get a foot in the door of the legal industry, but don’t have a law degree as your golden ticket, then check out these alternative three ways to kickstart your legal career.

Legal Apprentice

One advantage of becoming a legal apprentice over attending law school first to gain your qualifications is earning a salary! Instead of taking on an average of £40,000 worth of debt to complete your studies, you can instead come straight out of school or sixth form college and join an apprentice program instead. Glassdoor prices the average starting salary for an apprentice as £16,059 which is far better than accumulating debt. Better still, as a law firm will have sponsored you, they’ll be keen to keep you at the company, helping to progress your career over the next few years. In fact, apprenticeships are an excellent way to see common areas of law put into practice in the real world, rather than having to wait years at law college reading theory and case studies.

To get started as an apprentice, you don’t necessarily need UCAS points, although strong GCSEs would help. However, you will need to demonstrate a passion for the legal industry.

Legal Secretary

Secretaries and administrative support are the backbone of any business and this is no different in the legal profession. As a specialist type of secretarial work, legal secretaries can expect to earn a higher pay grade than they would for standard admin work, as they will become familiar with caseloads and legal terminology.

In terms of skills, you’ll need a typing speed of at least 50wpm, excellent proofreading skills, a professional phone manner and legal transcription work would be a bonus too. If you have your heart set on a step up, then there’s always the option to upskill your qualifications by studying as you work.

Paralegal

With an excellent understanding of law, paralegals will closely support solicitors and barristers with their caseloads. As a paralegal, you could land a role in either chambers, private, public sector or a not-for-profit legal organisation.

You can expect to mirror the work of a trainee or newly qualified solicitor, helping to prepare court cases, by undertaking research or liaising with clients as required. Junior paralegals can begin on a starting salary without having a law degree, although if you wish to gain a position in a high-profile firm, then the competition will be fierce. In this case, it would be advantageous to have gained a Graduate Diploma in Law or complete the Legal Practice Course.

At smaller firms, you can often train around your job, gaining extra qualifications alongside essential industry experience.

There are plenty of careers in the legal industry that don’t require you to have a degree. Whether you’re a career changer or are fresh out of school and eager to get started in a law practice, check out these options to get started.

A Guide To Buying Ballistic Doors

Design Out Crime With SBD Fireproof Products 

Do you need to protect your building from gunfire or explosives? Ballistic doors and windows are the solution you’re looking for.

Ballistic doors are the ultimate in advanced security technology. If you’re looking to safeguard the access points of your building with a product that cannot be penetrated by anyone who is using the force of a gun or rifle, then a ballistic door is the perfect solution for you. But not all ballistic doors are built equally, so if you’re in the market for this type of security solution, check out our guide to help you select the best.

Who Needs Ballistic Doors?

Ballistic doors deliver the highest level of security for a property. Although they can be integrated into any building, you’re unlikely to see them in most residential properties. As they’re available to prevent a brute force intrusion by criminals with weaponry such as guns or explosives, you’re more likely to find ballistic doors securing the entrance of high-profile buildings. These might include police stations, banks, embassies or sections of an airport. Some wealthier homeowners including footballers, celebrities or members of the royal family may use ballistic doors within their homes, particularly as part of a panic room setup.

Choosing Your Ballistic Door Company

Your first consideration when choosing a ballistic door company should be that they offer a wide range of SBD products. SBD stands for Secured by Design, which is a police-backed initiative developed to ‘design out crime’ through the creation of superior security products. Ballistic doors with SBD status will have met an extensive list of standards and have also undergone rigorous testing in order to achieve this enviable accreditation. SBD ballistic doors are the best products in the industry, so be sure to select a security product provider who can install and maintain them.

Which Ballistic Door Design Is Right For You?

The days of unattractive, unappealing security doors which look like the entrance to a prison have long gone. You can expect modern ballistic doors to be stylish, enabling them to fit perfectly with the overall aesthetics of your building. During the selection process, you can choose different colours, materials, finishes and features for your product to ensure it’s an exact match for the exterior or interior of your property. Steel is a popular finish for the frame as it provides your building with a robust and impenetrable access point, which looks sleek and modern too.

In terms of sizing, your door can be customised to meet the dimensions you require, enabling you to benefit from ballistic protection wherever you need it within your building.

Choose Ballistic Glass

Ballistic glass is the perfect choice for your doors and windows. During testing, it has stood up against shots fired from hand guns, rifles and shot guns, with calibres ranging from .22 through to 12/70.

No one likes to consider they will be in a scenario where gunfire may be used, but if you are concerned about protecting your property from this type of attack, then SBD ballistic doors and windows are the clear choice. Get in touch with your choice of ballistic door provider today.

How Your Security Firm Can Gain SIA Accreditation

Demonstrate Excellence With ACS Credentials

Join the ACS scheme to enjoy increased business opportunities and higher levels of efficiency for your security firm.

If your business operates within the private security industry, then you’ll have noticed how many competitors you need to stand out from. One of the best ways to appeal to new customers is to demonstrate the level of professionalism that your company can offer, in comparison to the more unscrupulous organisations in the security market. SIA ACS accreditation is the leading contractor scheme for security professionals which will prove excellence to your current and potential customers.

Why should your firm become SIA approved?

SIA ACS, or the Security Industry Authority Approved Contractor Scheme is a set of principles which security companies can adopt as part of their ongoing business model. Organisations which adhere to these strict standards prove their high level of competency in security practices along with a commitment to efficiency within your internal operations.

Although the scheme is entirely voluntary, many potential clients regularly seek SIA ACS as a mandatory requirement before hiring a security firm. By already being able to display your SIA accreditation, you will strengthen your position in the market and ultimately gain more prospective enquiries.

Is your security firm eligible?

Before being considered for SIA ACS status, your company will need to prove that it is a ‘fit and proper organisation’ and that your company directors are ‘fit and proper persons’. Further, your business must have been delivering security services for a minimum of 12 months and have at least two PAYE staff on the books.

Before beginning the ACS process, each of your directors must have been awarded with an SIA license. Additionally, each of your security staff must hold a licence which is applicable for the specific tasks they are responsible for. These licences should be checked on a monthly basis, alongside formal documentation.

What is involved in the SIA ACS process?

Security firms must begin the process by filling out an application form, along with enough details to enable the SIA to perform their due diligence checks. This will include documentation related to insurance and company registration, along with the relevant licences. Applicants will also have been invited to complete a self assessment workbook, ticking off various sections once the company has adapted their processes to match the high standards of the scheme.

How does the assessment stage work?

An independent assessor, who is SIA approved will visit the security premises and carry out a thorough assessment of the organisation to be matched against the standards set out in the ACS protocol. Staff and customers will be spoken to as part of the assessment to provide a well-rounded picture of the security firm and ensure full compliance.

To assist you with your application and provide a greater chance of receiving your SIA ACS accreditation, consultancy specialists are available to guide you right up to the point of approval. With a strong quality control focus, ACS is similar to ISO 9001 so it may be possible to attain both accreditations together.

If your organisation is interested in receiving increased business opportunities and wants to gain a competitive advantage over market rivals then SIA ACS is just the accreditation you’re looking for.

 

What Are The Benefits of Using Database Technology For Your Business?

How To Accelerate Your Business Progression During 2021

Improve efficiency and customer service by integrating database technology into your business.

The pandemic has created a need for UK businesses to streamline their operations in a bid to cut costs and stay afloat during this period of economic uncertainty. The rate of digital transformation across global companies has grown from 8 percent in 2019 to 14 percent in 2020, according to IT Pro Portal. Businesses are still seeking out ways to be more innovative, ditching their aging digital stack and committing to progress in order to future proof their organisations.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your business in the coming months, then consider the benefits of using database technology.

Move away from manual

Manual processes are time consuming, laborious and can negatively impact the productivity of your business. Wondering what the alternative is? The answer is a bespoke database created for the specific needs of your company. This can be a crucial digital move for organisations of any size.

Your database can be tailored to the individual processes and terms used by your team. One organisation is entirely different to the next which is where bespoke database development is a superior choice to any packaged alternatives.

Customer service and retention

Knowing your customer is one of the best ways to accelerate the progress of your business. If you keep manual records about your customers, then accessing and looking after this information may become unmanageable.

In comparison, you can store all this data in your bespoke database for rapid access to the info you need. This could be as simple as recording customer names, contact details and buyer activity. However, you can go one step further to retain your loyal customers, by creating special offers for them, providing discount codes and targeting them with tailored marketing content.

Allowing your database to return valuable and actionable insights will increase customer retention and ultimately improve your bottom line during this tough financial period.

Stock management

Any business which deals with product sales will need to keep tabs on their stock management in order to run smoothly. As anyone who is currently shopping for a PS5 will attest, there’s nothing worse than a lack of stock to disappoint customers. However, having stock you can’t shift is equally as problematic for businesses.

Whilst manual records would allow you to keep a physical inventory of your stock, a database can be updated in real-time, and will provide you with data at a glance. Some databases even allow you to reorder stock automatically when the levels are too low.

Reduce man-hours

If you need to cut the outgoings of your business, and free up time for your staff to dedicate to more important tasks during the pandemic, then databases are the way to go. Depending on your business, your database technology can be fully integrated with your customer interface to provide a streamlined approach to your operations.

Whether you’re hoping to improve your communication with your customers, boost efficiency to maximise your profits, or improve data capture, there are no limits on the benefits that data technology could bring to your business.

The pandemic has created the perfect reason for companies to consider their digital transformation. Act now to secure the future of your business.

How Equity Release Customers Can Protect Themselves From Scams

How To Identify Reputable Equity Release Firms

Equity release plans can be a financial lifeline for retirees. But unfortunately, there are a lot of scammers in the market too.

Over 55s who want to enjoy a comfortable retirement are frequently turning to equity release plans to help fund their later years. By releasing the cash built up in their homes, retirees are able to take this money as either a lump sum or by arranging to receive small monthly payments as an additional source of income. You might begin by using an equity release calculator to help you understand how much you could benefit financially. Your payments can occur alongside a pension or even part-time work in retirement. There’s no doubt that equity release can be a real lifeline for people as they age, but it can also be a target for scammers.

Equity Release Council

If you’re new to the world of equity release and are considering taking out a plan, you must always make sure that the company you’re using is approved by the Equity Release Council. Reputable trade members will only offer Equity Release Council-approved plans which minimises any risk to customers. In particular, a no negative equity guarantee is promised, which means that your estate will never owe more than the value of your home. Any firm who pretends to be an ERC member is disreputable and potentially a scammer, so if you’re not sure about whether your equity release company belongs to ERC, you can use their Find a Member search.

Comparison Sites

There are some excellent comparison sites in the market who are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. These platforms can save their customers significant money when searching for financial products; however, unfortunately there are scammers in the market too. In December 2019, it was reported that dishonest comparison sites were asking potential customers to enter their personal information into a web form. They did so in the belief they would be provided with quotes for an equity release product, otherwise known as a lifetime mortgage. Unfortunately, their personal information was sold on, at a profit, to marketing agencies who would them bombard the retiree with communications in an attempt to extract further data from them.

Social Media Ads

Equity release marketing ads also frequently pop up on social media platforms. Similar to the comparison site scam, a social media ad will persuade a retired person to part with their personal details in the expectation that they will receive further information about equity release. This type of scam works by collecting data on customers, which is then sold to telesales agents, who will overwhelm the applicant with sales calls until they have committed to an unfair equity release deal.

Using An Approved Broker

Are you interested in equity release but are worried about the possibility of falling victim to a scam? As an extra level of protection, remember that if you receive any type of communication, whether that be an email, letter or phone call, and the offer or product sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! The number one way you can stay protected is by working with an independent equity release specialist who is ERC approved. Contact a reputable firm today.

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