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Is Reading a good fit for your business?


Whether for personal, professional or expansion reasons you need to establish new offices for your business in another part of the UK, deciding where to go can be a huge and complicated task.

So asking if Reading is a good fit for your business brings with it a whole raft of other questions. Does it have the accessibility and transport links your business needs? Does the location have the right image for your business? Is there strong evidence of businesses in your sector thriving there? Does it have the right office space, infrastructure and facilities to meet your businesses needs? Does it have the right resource pool and do customers want to do business there?

The list of questions you must answer before making a choice might seem endless – setting up business in a new location is no small undertaking. Taking Reading as an example there are many qualities which make it a great place to do business. According to recent research by the Centre for Cities, Reading was listed as being in the top five of the UK cities most resilient to the recession. In 2012/2013 Reading received the Financial Times’ award for the ‘European Micro City of the Future’ in theForeign Direct Investment awards. So it really does look like the economy is only going to get stronger in Reading and that’s an important consideration for businesses deciding whether or not to locate there.


Knowledge goes a long way

If you are looking for a good knowledge economy in which to immerse your business then Reading is recognised as a great place to be. While its knowledge economy spans many sectors, its high value is particularly prevalent in the Insurance, Investment and IT arenas. Operating within a community of similar businesses and competitors can significantly cut your marketing costs as you become associated with a business district. Customers will already know where to go to access such services and whether they are currently using your services or not, they will see you when they are there. The proximity of similar businesses can also drive the best practice standards as each tries to outshine the others.


Is there the right space for your business?

So as a location Reading can showcase its economic resilience and areas of expertise but does that mean it is going to have the right office space and facilities for your business? To get an idea of what is available you could have a look at Goodman offices to let in Reading as an example of the excellent spaces and services available to businesses looking to expand or relocate.


Stay Focused

It is vital to make a list of your priorities when making a decision on relocation. These vary according to your business type and size. For example, some businesses need to consider parking for large numbers of customers, while others do most of their business by phone or online.

Establish what you need to achieve from the move and what facilities are a must. If you find yourself torn between several options then it might be an idea to generate an evaluation matrix to assess each option objectively to be sure you arrive at the right choice.


Think Big For Your Small Business: 5 Essentials for Expanding Internationally


Owning a small business should not prevent talented entrepreneurs from exploring their international potential. Any successful small business owner who provides goods or services that can be marketed in other parts of the world should consider global expansion. Some research suggests that small businesses have an advantage in the global market, as their flexibility, perseverance and customer-focused approach are highly conducive to international expansion. While expanding a business internationally is no easy task, by adhering to the following five essentials, small businesses can make international expansion a reality.


Do Your Research

The first step toward expanding your business internationally is conducting thorough and in-depth research in an effort to identify potential international markets. Focus on specific trade statistics to spot the countries that import your particular goods or services. Crack open as many market research reports as you can from the countries you are considering expanding to. This will allow you to become familiar with important factors such as government regulation of markets, taxes and tariffs and market growth. Include an in-depth assessment of your target market, focusing heavily on competing products and the economic conditions of your potential consumers. This research will be highly beneficial in determining key factors such as how international shipping and marketing will influence your profitability. Additionally, doing your research will give you credibility as you begin to make international business connections.


Cultivate International Relationships

International relationships are a vital part of global expansion, and cultivating those relationships should begin the moment you decide to expand. A good first step would be to find a foreign distributor who is able to carry your product and resell it overseas. It may seem difficult to make these kinds of connections initially; however, technological advances have made global business relationships increasingly accessible. The rise of social media has created an unprecedented opportunity for connecting with potential business partners internationally. While this can certainly be a positive thing, it is important to also remember the instant impact social media has on businesses. For example, product or advertising discontent may spread rapidly via the Internet, so it is important to be vigilant in maintaining a trustworthy online presence. This will improve the chances of creating important international relationships down the road. When it comes to making international connections, you may also turn to your existing customers. Perhaps you currently serve a client who uses your product internationally. Ask this client for information on the needs of customers in his or her country, or explore the possibility of cultivating a business partnership.


Understand the Importance of Cultural Influence

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make in their attempts to expand internationally is to overlook the power of cultural awareness. Conducting business in another country comes with language barriers as well as cultural differences that can lead to a great deal of misunderstanding. According to the Huffington Post, a lack of understanding regarding a culture’s view on the importance of time constraints or the value of business relationships can render years of hard work completely useless. Therefore, researching the cultural norms and business practices of your potential expansion site will be well worth your time.


Get Creative With Your Budget

Tight budgets often leave small business owners feeling incapable of global expansion; however, small companies have proven to be highly successful in expanding their services internationally. According to the International Trade Administration, small to medium-sized businesses made up nearly 97 percent of U.S. manufactures that exported goods in 2011. Part of what has made small businesses so successful in international expansion is the use of careful budgeting as well as available grants and loans. For example, the Small Business Administration offers export loans of up to $500,000 for small businesses, and other federal financing programs offer similar support. One of the most important things to remember when creating your budget is to prepare for unexpected costs. Always budget for more than you think you will need, and remember that spending costs will gradually decrease and your profits will improve over time.


Take the Time You Need

Global expansion is the most successful when done slowly and methodically. Give your business the opportunity to test the waters and to determine which practices work and which do not. While it may be tempting to move quickly, careful planning and decision-making will lead to greater success in the long run. Work to resist the temptation to compare yourself to other global companies, and remember that premature success can just as easily turn into abrupt failure.

Small business owners have much to contribute to the world of international entrepreneurship. The customer-oriented approach and work ethic that characterize many small business owners make them ideal candidates for global expansion. Think bigger when it comes to the growth of your small business and follow these five tips for successful international expansion.


Put The Cash In Your Business To Work


When you first start up a small business, your number one concern is cash flow. While new orders are great and it’s a good feeling to know that you have money owed to you, you need cash in the bank to pay the bills. However, if you are successful, there is going to come a point when that cash starts to accumulate. Of course, you want to make sure that you keep enough reserves to handle any problems, but leaving excess money sitting in your current account is a wasted opportunity. You want to put that money to work for you.

The first step in doing this is figuring out exactly how much free cash you really have. While your balance sheet may look very healthy, you need to make sure that you have adequate provision for ongoing operational costs, emergencies and opportunities. For example, what would happen if you won a large contract, but the upfront payment didn’t cover your costs? Overall, the prospect might be very profitable, but you would have to walk away if you didn’t have sufficient funds to carry you through to the final payment. That is why it is important to have a realistic cash flow model that takes into account all of these eventualities.

Once you have a handle on your cash flow projections, then you will know how much money you have left over. The question then is what you should do with it. You need to look at what is going to give you the highest return – which can be many different things, depending on the specific circumstances of your business.

One of the first things to look at is your outstanding debts. While debt is an essential funding source, there is no point in carrying it unless you can generate a better return than the interest you pay. If you can’t find a better use for your spare cash, use it to pay down the debt you have, starting with the most expensive. However, when you do this, make sure that the debt is going to be available to you again if you need it – for instance, paying down a line of credit may make the most sense.

Once you have looked at what debt you want to clear, then you need to start to generate income from your remaining cash. As a minimum, put the money into safe interest-bearing investments such as a CD. If you do this, however, make sure that you don’t lock your money up for too long. While average 6 month CD rates are less than those for longer term CDs, they do allow you to free up your cash more quickly if you need it.

On the other hand, you may have a clear business opportunity that you want to invest in. However, before you do this, make sure that you put together a business case that identifies the best, median and worst scenario. Evaluate the opportunity based on the median case, but make sure that you can survive the worst outcome. Also make sure that you take into account the timeframe when you expect to see returns on the investment – calculate the NPV to take into account the effect of inflation.


Business funding options


The business that has never had to borrow money is a rarity – if indeed one exists at all.

There may be any number of reasons why your business might need a relatively quick cash injection.  Some of those might be seen by potential lenders as being positive, perhaps including things such as:

  • business expansion;
  • capital equipment purchases;
  • premises acquisition; etc.

Other lending requirements might be considered to be riskier, more specialist or perhaps containing negative connotations – or possibly all three:

  • dealing with an operational cash-flow blockage;
  • greenfield start-up business requirements;
  • seed capital;
  • emergency funding to support a fundamental business restructuring being driven as a result of a crisis; etc.

The nature of your borrowing requirement may influence which directions you look in for funding help.

For example, if you are an existing business with at least two years’ accounts behind you, you might wish to try Everline  or similar providers for a fast decision on capital sums ranging from £3k-£50k. Some banks might also be able to assist though you may need to accept a slightly longer application review.

As a general principle, business lenders will always typically look more favourably on loans that may be interpreted as being for positive reasons as opposed to applications apparently being driven by the fact that the company is not in full control of its own destiny.

This does not necessarily mean that loan requests would be refused in such circumstances where you have a crisis but the risks associated with it might be seen to be higher and therefore you may find that your interest rates would also be higher.

By contrast, seed funding and business start-up capital injections may be rather more specialist.

Some but by no means all banks may be willing to assist but they may typically require you to find a substantial percentage of the required capital from your own financial resources.

There are also specialist categories of lenders who are occasionally referred to as business angels or venture capitalists.  This is a very diverse group of companies and even individuals and it is difficult to concisely summarise how they might evaluate a proposition and their associated terms.

In both cases, you may find that they will be less risk-averse than conventional lenders but they may expect a much higher return given the higher risks they are taking.  In some cases, they may insist upon taking a legal percentage of your business for a specified period of time in order to both protect their interests and secure them the returns they believe they need.

Some venture capital companies and many business angels, tend not to operate directly with business owners or members of the public but rather through intermediaries and agents.  The intention there is to ensure that propositions have been thoroughly vetted and assessed for credibility before they are placed in front of the individual who will be making the final decision as to whether to invest their money or not.

In summary, the best business funding approach for you may not be the same as for someone else.  This is a complicated area and you may need to do some research before deciding which route to take.


Moving Day: Cut Your Moving Expenses


Whether you’re moving from your parent’s house to your first apartment or you’re moving your family of five from state to state, moving is a pain and a very expensive ordeal. Besides having to pay huge fees before you can step foot in your new place, you’re also looking at huge sums for hiring professionals to do the heavy lifting, moving trucks for your big items and the general necessities like boxes and bags that add up pretty quickly.

If you find yourself in a tight spot that you can’t seem to get out of, consider looking for a temporary loan solution from providers like to get you by until the bulk of your moving is done. But whatever the problem, take these few tips to heart when moving to save yourself big bucks.

  • Clean Out Your Closet – You’ve probably accumulated your fair share of junk over the years, so don’t waste time and money moving unnecessary items into your new place. Do some serious thinking about what you need and what you don’t and take your unwanted items online to see if others will take them off your hands for a good deal. If you’re getting rid of clothes, visit clothing stores like Plato’s Closet that will buy your clothes back from you.
  • Keep Track of Your Expenses – It’s not that there’s ever a time that you shouldn’t be keeping track of your expenses but moving is especially important to be wary of your money. Certain expenses can qualify you for tax credits and write-offs that can really cut costs when it comes time to file your taxes.
  • Don’t Buy Supplies – Don’t spend big bucks buying brand new boxes from moving suppliers. Moving suppliers charge ridiculous prices for products you can find other places. Check with your local grocery store to see when they break down their boxes and leave them for the garbage trucks to collect. Make a quick stop by their trash cans every day for a few nights and you’ll have yourself a hearty collection of boxes to be used. You can also search online for others who have recently moved who are looking to get rid of their moving materials like boxes. Though you may have to drive to pick them up, there are a lot of nice people out there who are more than willing to donate the items they no longer have a need for.
  • Measure, measure, measure – Take measurements before you move your big items like tables, beds and sofas into the new place to be sure that they’ll even fit in the space you’re looking at. Why waste a bunch of money on movers only to move your furniture into a new place and then again out to the dumpster because you realized it won’t fit. Check to be sure that items fit through the doorways, as well, especially if you have huge furniture like pool tables.

If you’re fortunate enough, try to skip the movers altogether and instead spend that money on pizza for friends who help you move. You’ll save an enormous amount of money not having to pay someone to move everything for you, and you’ll also get to spend time with your loved ones. Just keep in mind that they might be next and do the neighborly thing by agreeing to return the favor when they move themselves.

Reporting Software: Manage Your Business


In order to ensure that a business operates successfully, it is imperative that all aspects of the company are monitored and managed in an efficient manner. For this to happen, reporting is an essential pre-requisite. Without proper and correct reporting, it will be impossible for a business to monitor its performance and progress. In the intensely competitive world of today, a reporting software program presents an effective way to help a business run smoothly.

A reliable reporting software gives your business an edge over your competitors. Flexible, user-friendly and easily navigable, the program makes operating a business easy and efficient. A high quality software can use data from multiple programming systems, helping even integrating those to provide a detailed report. The user can get the report in a wide array of database formats including XLS, MySQL, MIME email, WordML, XLSX, TXT, DOCX, RTF, PDF, HTML and so on. Businesses all over the world are increasingly opting for this immensely useful feature in order to generate accurate reports on a regular basis.

With a program that offers several benefits including simplifying business functions and helping one stay ahead in the competition, there is no reason why companies should not invest in it and make it a part of their everyday function.


How To Get Internet Money


Everyone loves a chance to get something for free. It could be some free gifts such as a t-shirt, a football or even vouchers for meals and gift vouchers. Sometimes people appreciate free services such as getting a car washed, getting a free pedicure or manicure and so on. Unfortunately, such free goodies are not readily available. This is because they cost money and most institutions and individuals do not like spending their money on free things if they won’t get anything back. However, there are some Internet based companies giving away freebies to interested customers or members.

There are certain opportunities offered, especially by online companies, where participants can get to receive free things. These include free cash and even Internet money. Such opportunities exist mostly in marketing campaigns, advertising and promotional events. Whenever a person wins a gift or receives free money, they are happy, elated and will usually remember the occasion for a long time. This is what these promotional companies want. They want to capture the minds and memories of customers so they spread the word around and also make them fans and repeat customers. Marketing and promotion events normally target potential customers and the Internet is a great place to find them.