Written 13 November 2023
Business News England & Wales Welcome to our round up of the latest business news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business
Growing your business? – Just keep going!
The Bank of England (BOE) recently held interest rates at 5.25% and warned that the restrictive policy will remain for an extended period, despite the bleak economic outlook.
BOE forecasts suggest the UK will not get to the 2% inflation target until the end of 2025. They expect inflation to fall to around 5% by the end of this year. Their forecasts also predict that output will remain stagnant in 2024. The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, remains more optimistic and was quoted as saying that the UK economy has remained far more resilient than many expected.
Clearly things are changing rapidly right now in this chaotic world, and it is difficult to maintain a sense of control, but the most successful people we meet “Just Keep going!”
Growing your business is all about enthusiasm and a mindset to power on with the goal of striving for success. Below are a few thoughts to help you think ahead and focus on your business growth.
A growth strategy starts with identifying and accessing opportunities within your market. The strategy addresses how your company is going to evolve to meet the challenges of today and in the future. A growth strategy gives your company purpose, and it answers questions about your long-term plans.
Having a growth strategy is important because it keeps your company working towards goals that go beyond what is happening in the market today. They keep both owners and employees focused and aligned, and they allow you to think long-term.
The first step is to look at five important areas that will help you develop a growth strategy:
- Think long term – invest time in understanding where the market is going and what this means for your customers. Short term decisions do not help grow a business.
- Having a good value proposition is essential – this states the relevance of your product or service, what it does, and why customers need it. What is yours?
- Expanding your reach – who is your target customer and what do you need to do to let them know you exist and that your product or service is relevant to them?
- Growth means new people, systems, and (maybe) different ways of doing things. Grow at a pace you can manage.
- How will your marketing get your value proposition to relevant customers?
Once you have taken some time to write out your growth strategy and where you want your business to be in (say) 2 years, the next step is to work out your marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a business document outlining your marketing strategy and tactics. It is often focused on a specific period of time (i.e., over the next 12 months) and covers a variety of marketing-related details, such as costs, goals, and action steps. But like your business plan, a marketing plan is not a static document. It should outline:
- How you are going to keep existing customers happy and returning to buy more often;
- What the goals are for getting new customers; and
- The marketing methods you are going to use to achieve 1 and 2.
Inheritance Tax Planning Tips
With inheritance tax receipts to HMRC set to reach new levels this financial year, now more than ever are families needing to plan for their future.
Inheritance tax could take a large proportion of your wealth – 40% of everything above £325,000 -and stop your family members enjoying the results of your hard work. Avoiding or reducing inheritance tax is possible if you have expert advice and plan accordingly. Below are three essentials to mitigate inheritance tax.
Talk to your family.
The first step towards a successful inheritance plan for all families is communication. Talk to your spouse, children, and stepchildren. Understand their concerns, expectations, and spot the potential conflicts. Some items may have emotional as well as purely monetary significance to some family members. That ring that has been passed down on one side of the family for years or the old picture that was part of a first home. You need to find out what items are significant to each family member, and you may need to find some compromises. They can’t all have your watch or your diamond ring. If you have children who no longer have much contact with you, you may still need to discuss your plans with them, even if it takes a special effort. One solution may be to allot each beneficiary the most appropriate sentimental item and divide up wealth equally.
Take stock of your assets
The next step in your inheritance planning journey is creating an inventory of your financial assets: your home and any other property, investments, savings, and any valuable possessions. If you have a surviving partner, they might be your first priority, but you need to look at what happens when they are gone. Your home may be the biggest challenge. It can be difficult to balance its value against other assets and giving it to one beneficiary may lead to resentment. Stipulating that it should be sold, and the proceeds shared is one answer. A shared bequest that allows one beneficiary to buy out the shares of the others is an alternative. You also need to look at the liabilities or debts that eat into your estate. You want to leave financial security and happy memories, not debts. Knowing what you have now can be the basis for devising a fair inheritance plan that takes into consideration the needs of everyone who survives you. Look at your life insurance as part of this review. It can help ensure equal inheritance for all parties. The payout from a life insurance policy can be divided among the beneficiaries, helping to balance any disparities in the value of your other assets.
Write a will
A well-crafted will is the linchpin of any inheritance plan, and for all families, it is crucial. Work with an experienced solicitor to draft a will that clearly outlines your wishes and specify the exact percentage or value that each heir, whether biological or stepchild, will inherit. This ensures that your intentions are legally binding and minimises potential disputes later on. Review and update beneficiary designations on retirement plans, investment accounts, and insurance policies. Beneficiary designations override instructions in your will. Failing to update can lead to unintended consequences – money intended to go to a current partner still being earmarked for a previous spouse is not uncommon.
Can you create more “productive “time?
For many small business owners, if they have one consistent issue, it would be that there is simply not enough time in the day to achieve all the things that need to be done.
Have you ever got to the end of the day, having worked your “socks off” for the entire day, and asked the question “what on earth have I done today?” If the answer is yes, then the next question is “how many days per week do you get this feeling?”
So, what can you do, in an office environment for example, to free up some time for productive and focussed activities?
Do Not Disturb (DND)!
By far, the simplest technique to create time is to ensure that you set time aside for you to carry out the tasks on your “To Do List”.
We have all heard employees announce, “I have so much to do; I am working from home tomorrow”. This is an example of putting yourself into a DND mode to allow you to complete tasks that are on your “To Do List”.
Why is this so? – All too often, we come into our business premises with list of tasks that we intend to complete. The telephone rings, customers and suppliers want time, fellow employees come into your office also seeking your time, and emails and correspondence continues to flow onto your desk – Is this a familiar feeling?
If you meet with your team and agree with them that this is the case for many of them, then it makes sense to agree to do something about it.
The recommendation is to switch the office into a DND mode for typically 1 to 2 hours every day.
The DND mode includes no external telephone calls coming through to employees, no internal telephone calls, no disturbing employees internally and a discipline to switch off emails other than for those relevant for the “To Do List” of the individual employee. Many businesses rotate their DND time amongst their employees.
The net result of this is that people get more of a sense of achievement at the end of a day, and this often results in a feeling of satisfaction and far less stress.
Here are some other “time saving” techniques that might work in your business:
- If you have ever found yourself thinking “it is easier to do it myself”, then maybe try and discipline yourself not to do so and delegate (and if necessary, train) where at all possible. There is a fine line between delegation and abdication – supervision is required when one delegates, and feedback is helpful so you can keep control of the process.
- If you have asked somebody to do something, there has to be an assumption that this will done be unless you have been told otherwise. It is a mistake to allow anybody not to tell you if they can’t do something that has been agreed to be done. This may sound obvious, but the research is quite clear; there are too many occasions where things just simply do not get done despite requests and therefore failings, and it can be very time consuming to redeem the position.
- We all receive too many emails and the methodology that may work for some employees is to have emails sent to another supporting source, whose job it is to read all emails with the following three outcomes:
- Delete emails because they are not relevant;
- Forward onto the relevant employee with the words “Please read but no action required”; or
- Forward onto the relevant employee with the words “Please read – action required”.
- The “One touch” only rule – in the ideal world the best efficiencies come from reading an email or letter once and dealing and responding directly to the customer. To have to re-read is generally considered inefficient.
- Don’t laugh, but if you have a chair in or around your desk, people will sit in it! If people sit in a chair, the discussion will take longer than if they are standing. So, do you want to have a chair for people near your desk?
By adopting some or all of the ideas listed above, you, as an employer, could create an additional amount of productive time which may also improve employee confidence.
Paving the way for the future of procurement in Wales
The Welsh government stated that “We have made a significant step forward in the world of procurement and commercial services to develop the first apprenticeship framework in Wales”.
The framework is designed to create new pathways into the procurement profession and bolster the much-needed procurement skills and capacity in Wales.
A collaborative endeavour
The government have worked with their Steering Group comprising experts from across the procurement community and further education to develop the framework and pave the way for a brighter future in procurement.
They plan to develop a Level 3 and Level 4 apprenticeship framework by Spring 2024. This will take commitment from the Steering Group but will bring benefits for generations to come, opening access to individuals looking for a career in an exciting and evolving profession.
A new qualification on the horizon to support the apprenticeship
The Steering Group’s primary aim over the coming months is to craft a modern qualification that complements the established CIPS Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Procurement and Supply Operations and CIPS Level 4 Diploma in Procurement and Supply.
Working alongside Open Award, the Steering Group will develop a qualification that is unique to support the Welsh apprenticeship and will provide apprentices with a strong operational foundation and the practical skills needed to excel within their respective employer organisations.
This initiative could act as a boost for aspiring procurement professionals and is also a promising development for businesses across Wales. By fostering a more skilled workforce, the government hopes that Wales can expect to see improved outcomes and a higher standard of innovative procurement practices that will support the future.
Calling on the procurement community
The success of this project depends on the active involvement and collective wisdom of the Welsh procurement community. The government invites professionals, experts, and organisations to get involved and be part of the Steering Group.
This apprenticeship program marks an opportunity for individuals to enter the profession and for existing professionals to contribute to the growth of the next generation.
For more information see: Paving the way for the future of procurement in Wales | GOV.WALES
The Cyber Ninjas training scheme
The Cyber Resilience Centre for Wales (WCRC) and the Welsh Government have teamed up to launch a new, free initiative for the Welsh social care sector that offers organisations the chance to receive cyber security training.
Contributing £51 billion to the UK economy, the social care sector is experiencing an unprecedented surge in cyber-attacks as a high-value target for criminals, with ransomware as its biggest threat.
The Cyber Ninjas training scheme – which is being rolled out by the WCRC and delivered by Matobo Learning through its platform – provides funding for 2,500 social care training licenses in cyber security, enabling staff in the sector free, direct access to this resource.
For more information see: The WCRC and Welsh Government offering free cyber security training to social care organisations (wcrcentre.co.uk)
Cardiff Capital Region Invests £9.7m to Complete Newport Hotel
Cardiff Capital Region City Deal (CCR) has announced a £9.7m Strategic Premises Fund investment to finance the completion of the 146-bed Ty Newport Hotel, just off the M4 corridor.
The hotel will form part of the wider Celtic Manor Resort’s umbrella, the business established by Welsh-born entrepreneur, Sir Terry Matthews, who has founded over 100 successful technology businesses, including Mitel and Newbridge Networks.
As well as the 146 beds, the hotel will include a full-service restaurant, bar area, business meeting room facilities, and electric vehicle charge points. A new Costa drive-through coffee shop has been built at the entrance to the hotel car park.
The additional hotel beds will support the ability of the International Convention Centre Wales (“ICCW”) to host larger conferences, the first of these being the Royal College of Nursing Conference from 2 – 6 June 2024. The level of activity at the ICCW has a significant positive economic impact on the local area through spend generated by the attendees that these events draw to the area.
The scheme has improved environmental outputs with all gas-powered functions having been replaced with an all-electric system that utilises heat pumps and photovoltaic panels on the roof as a condition of the loan. The hotel will have an EPC A rating, which is exceptional for an asset of this nature.
The hotel will further benefit the region through its planned partnership with two local tertiary education institutions, which will see up to 50 young people per year completing the practical training component of their hospitality management courses at the Ty Newport Hotel.