Category Archives: Company Finances

Never too late to start saving

With the economy in the state that it is in today its hard to know where to start when it comes to securing not only our own financial security but that of our children. Here we are going to talk about one of the best ways to build a college fund for your young children. Regardless of how old they are right now, it’s never too late to get started. Here we are going to talk about the Section 529 plan.

This particular college savings plan in named for the tax code that governs (or defines) the plan. It is call eth section 529 in all 50 states and is offered in all 50 states.  The rules will probably vary from state to state but one thing to remember, grandparents this is a great tool to start a savings plan for your grandkids as you do not have to live in the state in which your grandchildren reside to start the savings plan. You will be able to start the plan locally where your children or grandchildren can access their funs when needed.  This is one of very few plans that you will be able to invest in more than one state. You can open more than one Section 529 in different states.

So how do you get started? This is the easy part, with this particular savings plan you should be able to go to your current local bank and talk to your bank representative about opening savings or college funds for one or all of your children.  There they will be able to tell you about the two different types of Section 529 accounts.

  • College savings- which offers tax deferred earnings and this will go directly to qualified college or higher education expenses an often times is paid directly to the schools.
  • Self accounts and beneficiary- this is the kind of account that parents can be primary holders on the account leaving your children as beneficiaries when you pass away or when the children reach a certain age.

 

These two types of Section 529 accounts are available at most banks. There are some online banks that will allow you to open 529 savings accounts as well. This is a popular gift for new babies, inheritance funds or college gifts from grandparents.

 

 

Doctors detail the candidates perfect for LASIK based on their Job Description

Corrective Laser eye surgery is quickly becoming a popular solution for those with defective vision across the globe and the quick pace at which the procedure has been accepted showcases both its many advantages as well as the success rate that it promises.

laser eye surgerySurgical procedures like the LASIK, that correct vision defects have advanced considerably in the last few years thanks to both proficient surgeons who are becoming better acquainted with the procedure, but also technological advances that are making it suitable for greater number of people with vision problems.

While a vision corrective surgery is something that most of us using glasses or contact lenses could benefit with, doctors and surgeons have identified people with particular job descriptions and profession who could benefit from it a lot more than others.

According to the experts, a good candidate for a Laser eye surgery generally performs excessive reading, working on the computer, exercising or physical labor and working in dry environments.

If your job and lifestyle demands one or more of these activities on a regular basis, then a procedure like the LASIK is the perfect solution for you.

The list obviously includes the likes of software professionals, those who spend countless hours in front of their PCs, people who read voraciously like lawyers, sportsmen involved in heavy physical activities and the likes of firefighters who work in demanding conditions that are also hot and dry. Doctors who have been performing the surgery for years now say that people with such job descriptions would benefit the most as not having to deal with the distraction of glasses or the dryness of contact lenses gives them a better chance to concentrate and get the job done without straining themselves.

While Laser eye surgery treatments benefit almost everyone with defective vision, these guidelines definitely help prospective patients in deciding if they really need to go in for the surgery. With the procedure being, quick, pain free and having short recovery time, it is no wonder that many who wish to have perfect natural vision are now opting for it.

Advice for businesses looking to attract customer feedback

Whatever industry you operate in, you should always look to get feedback from your customers. Encouraging customers to give feedback – whether it’s on your product range or the standard of service provided by customer-facing staff like call centre operatives or sales reps – will help customers feel valued and they should see your organisation in a better light. Asking customers for their opinions is a great way to show you appreciate their thoughts and can give your company a personal touch.

Of course, offering customers the chance to provide feedback is a good way for them to highlight any issues, be they positive or critical, that they have with your firm. If it’s something fairly trivial – perhaps they preferred the design of an old logo compared to a new one – or more substantial, offering a platform where people can state their views can help you review various aspects of your organisation and plan for the future.

Email customers who have just made a purchase for their opinions on their experience of dealing with your organisation. Whether you ask them to submit a review that you place on your own website or a third party website like Trip Advisor, you should find that by emailing customers for their opinion it will prompt them to get in touch.

Alternatively, you could make a follow-up phone call. Although this will be more time-consuming than sending an email, it does make for a more personal touch, something that customers are likely to appreciate.

A great way to solicit feedback from your customers is by offering incentives such as free gifts. People love to receive presents – after all, telling you their views will cost them nothing but a little of their spare time – so pointing out your organisation will send them a physical ‘thank you’ is sure to encourage them to fill out a survey or submit a product review.

If you’re hoping to gain customer feedback quickly, you might want to run a promotion stating your gifts will only be offered for a limited time or given to a specific number of people who get in contact with you first.

You’ll need to think carefully about what items you are going offer as a way of encouraging customer feedback. It makes sense to provide gifts with universal appeal among your key target demographic and that will be used on a regular basis, and this is something that can be achieved by handing out branded mugs or pens.

Virtually everyone uses mugs and pens on a day-to-day basis, which means your customers should not only be happy to receive them but will get plenty of use out of them. Mugs and pens also offer a great chance for you to promote your organisation because you can have them branded with your logo and call to action – so recipients will be exposed to your brand every time they use their gift.

It’s also a good idea to print your organisation’s contact details, such as your telephone number, email address and Twitter handle, on your promotional gifts so people know how to get in touch in the event they want to give more feedback or make some other enquiry about your services.

What steps are you taking to attract feedback from customers? Leave a comment and let us know!

How the right equipment can help expand your small business

Starting up and running a small business can be challenging, yet infinitely rewarding if sales and profits eventually rise. While you can maintain this state for a little while, you’re generally better off expanding to boost revenues further. Having the right equipment in place can be crucial to your growth in a number of ways – read on to find out more.

1) Manufacturing

If you want to enhance sales by increasing production, you will need to ensure your manufacturing processes can stand up to this. If you already invested in machinery with a larger capacity than you initially required, you may not need to do much.

However, some business owners will need to look at either buying new equipment to boost output and efficiency – such as an automatic labelling machine to avoid having to label goods by hand – or outsourcing some or all production to another firm.

Just be wary of overreaching yourself by purchasing machinery with a much bigger capacity than you currently need. While it’s good to keep one eye on the future, you may end up wasting money if sales trends change and you never get to use those extra production capabilities.

2) IT

It’s difficult to avoid using computers if you run your own business. They make life much easier all round, whether they’re used for bookkeeping and stock records or online tax returns and internet advertising. As the technology that powers your PC or laptop is constantly changing, it’s a good idea to ensure you always have the best machine for your needs.

What may have been top of the range just five years ago is likely to be near obsolete by now. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should replace your computer every few months; many systems can happily tick along for years without any issues, as long as you keep the operating system up to date. You could simply make sure your other software is also fully updated and therefore not have to buy another computer for a long time.

Having said that, times of growth may well mean you will need a machine with increased processing power to deal with any new applications you might have to use. You could also have to buy extra computers if you take on new staff. While this can seem like a large expense to begin with, you should see the benefits in the form of increased efficiency and, hopefully, higher sales and profits in the long term.

3) Transport

You might not think that your car or van counts as company equipment, but it certainly does if you regularly rely on your vehicle for certain business operations. Ensuring your van is in top condition and fit for purpose when it comes to picking up supplies and/or delivering goods is crucial however successful your venture has been so far.

When it comes to actually expanding your business, you may need to consider either replacing your existing set of wheels or investing in some additions to form a ‘fleet’ if, say, you hire extra staff. Of course, if you usually use your van for delivery, you might want to use the services of an outside logistics company instead of continuing to deliver yourself, but it’s worth considering all of the options available to you to see what would be most cost-effective.

Why companies are turning to contractors for change management

A common complaint made by businesses when surveyed about the employment challenges facing them is finding the right candidate with the right skills.

There are various headwinds that businesses are having to deal with at present, with a sluggish economy and low confidence weighing on business sentiment.

However, businesses still need to grow and growth requires having the right people in the right places. New research from Russam GMS has shown that when it comes to driving a company forward in difficult times, limited company and umbrella contractors are the people businesses are turning to.

According to the study, companies are turning to interim management contractors to implement change management and transformation strategies to take their organisations forward.

The company surveyed 12,000 interim management contractors about the nature of the work they are carrying out and found a significant number are being brought in for specialist projects and change management projects as opposed to gap-filling assignments.

More than 17 per cent said they are involved in change management, while business transformation accounts for one-fifth (19 per cent) of all assignments.
Why are businesses turning to interim management contractors?

According to Charles Russam, chairman of Russam GMS, contractors are being seen as the most effective individuals to help take businesses to the next level.
However, what is it about contractors that makes them so appealing when it comes to such tasks?

Mr Gussam gave various reasons:

1. Specialist expertise

Contractors are usually specialists in their chosen field and have years of experience in doing their jobs and doing them to a very high standard. Businesses therefore have confidence that contractors can tackle projects head on and do so to the required level. Also, many companies find that they do not have the required skills sets among their existing employees and therefore have to bring in outside expertise.

2. Expert problem-solving skills

Businesses need people who can come in, identify what needs to be done and who can make the required changes. Contractors tick all of these boxes and another crucial one, which is to identify and implement the changes quickly.

3. Short-term nature of contractors

Many such projects do not require a permanent member of staff and the fact that contractors can be brought in on a short-term basis to do what needs to be done makes a lot of sense for many businesses.

The research showed that contractors with general management skills were in most demand, followed by those with expertise in finance and change and transformation skills.
As you can see, contractors can be of great value to a business, which goes some way to explaining why contractor employment levels have fared relatively well given the anaemic state of the wider economy.

Energy, passion and leadership skills were cited by Russam GMS as prerequisites for change management experts and if you have these, there may be a future for you in contracting.

If the contractor route is one you are considering going down, it is a good idea to speak to an accountancy services provider to discuss whether to sign up with an umbrella company or whether you would be better off starting your own limited company.

This is a big decision and there is a lot to consider, so speaking with experts on the subject is highly recommended.

Why your business may need an HR advisor!

One of the most essential and important aspects of managing a business, big or small, is the way in which one deals with the workforce and the management of human resources. It is precisely for this reason that there is a growing demand for HR professional and HR advisors in modern business firms. Since most corporate houses already have a set structure in place and utilize a large employee force it is essential to have someone who can not only advise the company when it comes to hiring of new talent and personnel, but someone who can take care of the day-to-day hassles and smoothly handle the large workforce.

Every business would do well with a HR expert and if you are a looking for expert services from outside then you can bring in help from the industry experts like ClearSky-HR.co.uk HR Advisors who offer efficient, constructive and smart management solutions.

While most people tend to believe that HR advisors and consultants are relegated to managing only the giant firms and businesses that could not be farther from the truth. It is in fact the budding and growing businesses that require the expert help of a HR advisor. Since most small and medium businesses generally are not well acquainted with the handling f a large employee force, it is best to hire a professional who will not only oversee and guide you in the hiring process, but will co-ordinate between team leaders on a day to day basis, keep up employee morale, form a communication bridge between the various hierarchical positions in the office and ensure that discipline is maintained.

Not only does a competent HR advisor offer all the above advantages, but he most essentially will deliver much needed legal expertise when signing new contracts and will help in altering some of the work conditions in the office that could improve productivity. In a world where more and more issues are being bound by strict legal codes, this is an absolute necessity so that you avoid ugly tussles in the future.

Kraft Foods Changes Name

 

After 57 years with the name Kraft Foods, the food company changed its corporate structure and its name to Mondelez International and announced the start of operations in Mexico with his new name.

The new company reported in a statement that this change also affects more than 80 countries, with about 100,000 employees working in over 300 offices.

They explained that the change of name is derived from the division of the business into the grocery market in the United States, on October 1, and the other to the snack, so it takes Mondelez International brands like Trident, Tang, Oreo and Halls, among others.

The company president, Irene Rosenfeld, confided that the new company achieves sales 36.000 billion, as it has for generations brands worldwide.

In turn, President of Mondelez International in Mexico, Roberto Soto, mentions that the launch of the new company marks the beginning of a promising future, with a portfolio of products that have a high growth potential.

Since Kraft Foods Mexico, the company has maintained operations in which employs more than 8,000 people in its four manufacturing plants.

 

 

Make your promotional pens stand out

Pens have long been one of the most popular promotional products and you can be confident that if you use printed pens as part of your marketing strategy they will significantly increase awareness of your campaign, brand and organisation.

There is a vast array of promotional pens available, choose from pens:

• From an established retail brand like Parker, BIC or Lamy
• From a range of different materials – from cost-effective plastic ballpens to high-end metal fountain pens
• From a range of colours – whether it’s a bright bold design like lime green or pastel blue to more conservative choices like black and silver
• For a range of budgets – there are pens available for less than 20p per pen, up to the limits you set!

High-quality promotional pens from brands like Parker, BIC and Senator are made out of strong, durable metals and plastics which means your company’s brand, logo and contact details are likely to be seen for a greater period of time than ones built from more economical materials. They’re also likely to be well-received if you enclose the pens in presentation boxes.

Over half of Britons questioned by the British Promotional Merchandise Association state they feel more favourable towards a company that has provided them with branded promotional gifts like a printed pen. When choosing a range of promotional products for your marketing campaign – whether it is pens, bags, clothing, mugs, USBs or something completely different – it is important to carefully consider the requirements of your target audience. Although a standard plastic pen may be suitable for use in the majority of offices, there are times when you may need to purchase a range that’s a little more robust.

The construction industry is a case in point. As obvious as it sounds, workers in this industry spend significant periods of time outdoors, in all kinds of weather, so they’ll be keen to get pens made from materials like stainless steel and chrome that can withstand knocks and will not break easily. It’s probably best to avoid fountain pens – choose a jotter or rollerball instead, as these tend to be more robust. You could also opt for a range of pens that match the corporate colours of the construction company. Finally, it’s worth considering whether you’re likely to place regular repeat orders for the pens. If so, opt for a popular design that is likely to be well-stocked by distributors.

Similarly, company executives who spend much of their working day filling out forms and marking-up contracts will need well-balanced pens that write well. Executive gifts like engraved promotional pens are perfect for company executives, whether it is to express your thanks for their continued custom over the years or sent along with marketing literature when bidding for contracts. Some pens can be personalised or engraved with the recipients’ name – which is a thoughtful addition and should help to ensure that the pen doesn’t get misplaced! What’s more, if your promotional pens are seen by the recipients’ friends, family and colleagues, your brand or marketing message will reach an even wider audience (at no extra cost)!

Have you purchased promotional pens for a marketing campaign? Did you opt for a retail brand like BIC or Parker? How were the pens received by the target audience? We’d love to hear from you – please leave us a comment below!

GM, in a Marathon with Opel

 

RUESSELSHEIM, Germany – General Motors (GM) has the ability to turn the situation to its troubled European unit, Opel, and has already charted where you want to take your brand to the next 10 years, told Reuters the new chief financial officer Opel, Michael Lohscheller, in his first interview since taking office a week ago.

Lohscheller, 43, will have a difficult task, since GM’s European operations lost a total of 16.000 million over the past 12 years despite repeated job cuts, most recently in 2010 that included the plant closure of Opel Antwerp in Belgium.

“To run a marathon you need a reasonable basic speed, but you have to sweat and ideally increase the pace near the end. It has much in common with what we are doing here,” said former CFO of Volkswagen, and participated in 75 marathons since 1987, including races in New York, Chicago and Berlin.

“You can not just start at full speed and stay completely out of breath after three months, we have to be able to stick to a speed and maintain it, the strength is extremely important. Opel recovery is a long term project,” said.

Last November, GM was forced to retract its 2011 target balance in Opel, and the unit has come to build another 700 million dollars in losses in the first half of the year, prompting analysts to call for their disposal.

Lohscheller declined to provide details of the plan to 10 years beyond the announcement of 23 models by the end of 2016, but the fact that Opel is preparing for another decade as a GM brand could disappoint investors who are pushing Detroit to loosen the brand once and for all.

 

 

Citi Enters Commodities Business

 

LONDON – The U.S. bank Citigroup launched a financial unit of commodity operations, expanding a sector that used to be dominated by European lenders have been cutting their activities to deal with the debt crisis in the euro zone.

Citigroup Kris Van Broekhoven hired Deutsche Bank to lead the new unit, part of its transaction services business, a spokesman said Thursday.

The bank also said it hired two bankers from BNP Paribas to work on commodity business, which buys and sells energy from grains on behalf of their clients.

Joseph Cogo, former senior commodities banker in BNP, was hired as global head of commodity sales, the bank said. Meanwhile, Nasim Fasil, who was head of energy sales in Europe for BNP, also moved to Citi, with the same function.

U.S. banks are expanding rapidly in commodity trading income, while the French as BNP Paribas and Société Générale recede.

Entities such as Citi, JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch have been expanding their portfolios in financial operations of raw materials for the oil, coal, steel and iron ore.

Previously, the bank financed sales only occasionally raw materials, the spokesman said.

Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said financial sales as one of the strongest bank activities, saying that during Citi increased its revenues in transaction services for corporations to unprecedented levels.

Commercial loans rose 53% at the end of June from a year earlier, the company said.

 

Cable Companies to Offer $750 million on Internet

 

MEXICO CITY – An investment of $ 750 million (million dollars) from the government to expand by 15,000 km fiber optic network of the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) would allow local businesses to cable TV provide Internet service to communities currently without access to it, said the president of the Cofetel commissioner, Mony de Swaan.

The backbone of the CFE measures 20,000 km, but to be a useful infrastructure for most of the population needs to be extended to 60,000 km, said De Swaan, though it added: “start with at least 15,000 km and the installation of 1,000 mini hotels, which requires a public investment of $ 750 million. I think it’s a relatively small investment to potentially connect to 98% of the population, “he explained in a conference with students Tuesday.

The expansion will allow the group of nearly 1,500 cable operators that exist in the country has an incentive to invest in infrastructure to connect the optical fiber placed within 40 miles of your business area.

“Maybe you take the mini hotel and the cable companies are not interested. What is a fact is that more than 40 km is not profitable, and $ 750 million bet I think it is,” the official stressed.

Currently 50 million Mexicans have coverage of a fiber-optic broadband mainly by Telmex, while another 20 million have only two fiber optic networks-Telmex and CFE-but do not have the possibility of access at competitive prices, detailed Mony de Swaan.

Telmex has more than laying on 135.8760 km optical fiber local (about 115,000 km according to analysts Monex Casa de Bolsa) and for long distance, covering 90% of the country, according to its parent company America Movil in its annual report 2011.

The signing of businessman Carlos Slim has about 8 million users of broadband Internet service through its Infinitum.

“Without a backbone with a sufficient capillarity, this country has a great future. And here what the figure tells us is that we have a third of future,” said de Swaan.

Besides the distance to find points of interconnection to a fiber optic network, small cable companies are facing charges for rent of roads, installation and maintenance of towers, making unfeasible bring Internet to populations of 50,000 people, said Solomon Padilla, vice president of the Association of Telecommunications Networks Mexico (ARTM).

“This would be more helpful than programs like e-Mexico, but I worry about how it can make the implementation of this project,” said Padilla.

The representative of this group of small cable companies expect the authorities feel with them to provide input on the feasibility and implementation of the project, but said that this depends on powers beyond the commission.

If completed, this project will promote competition in the country sparsely connected, allowing Internet have more competitive prices, added De Swaan.

When Internet income equals more than 0.7% of family income, their recruitment is inhibited, so that only the richest of Mexico enters this course, while for most of the population is above this line, he said.

Penetration of fixed broadband in Mexico is 10.9%, and mobile is only 1%, a lag compared to developed countries and Latin America, he added.