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Thursday, October 1, 2015

4 things to remember when facing debt

By Andrew Reilly

If you are in debt, you are not alone as there is a growing number of people around the country facing up to financial difficulties. You may not know where to turn to for help, but the sooner you take steps to improve your financial situation, the better your chances will be of getting out of debt.

You have to review your finances

The worrying thing about many people with their finances is that they never actually realise what sort of state they are in. This means that some people may actually have a poorer set of finances than they first thought, or it could be that with some movement and pushing things around, your financial situation is not as bad as it seems. This is why it is vital that you take some time to look at your earnings and all of your outgoings to make sure that you are making the most of your money.
When you do this, you should look to:
  • Draw up a budget
  • Find out your credit score
A budget is the ideal starting point in getting your finances back on track. Once you know how much money you have coming in every month and what you need to spend on essential items, you have a clearer idea of your finances and what you can do with them. If you need to take control of your finances, drawing up a budget is essential.

You will also find that looking up your credit score is a sensible idea. This will allow you to work out what sort of shape you are in and whether you will be able to obtain credit from traditional sources. If your credit score is poor, you may be denied credit from traditional sources, which means that you will need to look elsewhere. You should also take steps to improve your credit rating.

You need to take on your debt

If you have debt, it isn’t going to go away by itself. Some of the biggest problems that people face with debt management comes with the fact that they don’t take action to improve their finances. This is where working out who you owe money to and you can resolve it is a sensible idea. You should look to prioritise your debts because some debts are more important than others. You don’t want to owe money to anyone but taking care of your mortgage or rent is more important than utility bills. If you need help in prioritising your debt, speak to an expert who will go through your bills and provide you with the bets information with respect to structuring what debts you pay first.
You should also be looking to save money, so if there are any bills or services you have at the moment that you don’t need, you should look to stop them. The more money you can save, the easier you will find it is to pay off your debt. You will also find that cutting back on the level of credit you use or have access to will be of benefit. Even if you have a high level of debt, taking small steps will help you to move in the right direction with respect to finances.

Are you entitled to any support?

It may be that you are entitled to financial support, such as Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Working Family Tax Credit. While the media talks of people who they believe scrounge the system for money that they don’t deserve, many people also don’t claim money that is rightfully theirs. You may not have any additional money owed to you, but you may have, so make sure to check it out.

Do you need more assistance?

Getting out of debt can be difficult but help is available. Some people find that using a managed account is of benefit so speaking to your bank about what options are available to you could be of significant benefit. You may also find that sitting down with a financial adviser will give you great advice and plenty of ideas for moving forward with your finances.

No matter how much debt you are in, taking control of the situation is vital and this will allow you to move forward with your life. Many people recommend consolidating your debt and this is where taking out a guarantor loan can be of benefit. When you consolidate your debts into one loan, you make life easier and you can significantly reduce the amount of money you need to pay each month in servicing your debt. If you are looking to move out of debt, consolidation could be a very wise move.

About the author: Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn't sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.

Image: Chris Potter/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Considerations for those moving from freelancer to agency CEO

Business management
Managing a business boosts experience, know how and professional growth
By Gary Keeley

With more than 4.6 million people working for themselves, the level of self-employment in Britain is higher than ever before. Many self-employed people start out as freelancers as this offers people the opportunity to be their own boss without committing the money and time it takes to set up a company.

However, while freelancing may be less complicated than setting up an official business, it can limit the type and amount of work you are able to take on. As workloads and client lists increase, many freelancers start thinking about starting up an agency.

Setting up a limited company has lots of benefits. It can increase your capacity, enabling you to take on more and bigger projects, it can lend your business a greater air of credibility when dealing with clients, and it also offers you a greater degree of personal protection should the business encounter any financial problems.

However, while it may seem like the next logical step in your self-employed career, setting up an agency is not something that should be entered into without careful consideration.

Do you want to run an agency?

This is the most important consideration of all. Setting up your own company certainly offers many advantages – but it is not suitable for everybody. It often comes down to individual skills and preferences.

As a freelancer you are solely responsible for a project, executing the brief from conception to completion. As Director of an agency, your focus will instead be on strategy, sourcing clients and managing the day-to-day running of the business. For some people, this will be an exciting new challenge. Others may find it difficult and unsatisfying to prioritise business development over more creative work. If you fall into the latter category, continuing as a sole trader might be the best option for you. Similarly, if managing a team and delegating tasks is not something you feel comfortable doing, then managing an agency may not be for you.

Understand your obligations

Before going ahead and setting up an agency, it is vital that understand what goes into running a business. For example, you will need to think about obtaining office premises, hiring a team and setting up effective systems. It’s also essential that you are aware of and able to fulfil any legal responsibilities.

As head of an agency you will be managing people – and with employees come responsibilities. You will need to have a system in place to enable you to pay your staff accurately and on-time. You may wish to outsource HR and accounts to begin with, but as a company grows it can be beneficial to bring these tasks in-house.

You will also need to ensure that you are paying the correct amount of tax and National Insurance or you could find yourself facing a hefty fine.

Furthermore, from 2017 all UK businesses will be legally required to enter their workers into a workplace pension scheme (auto-enrolment) – so make sure you are aware of your obligations around this. As a freelancer you may not have thought about your own pension, but your employees will be entitled to a company scheme.

This all has cost implications for your business so you need to be confident that you can bring in enough income to cover these extra overheads.

Test the waters

If you’re still not sure if setting up an agency is right for you, why not test the waters by starting out small? If you’re working on a large project, think about sub-contracting out certain elements to another freelancer. Alternatively, if you are nervous about trusting client work to another person, you could always hire someone to take care of the day-to-day business tasks, such as marketing or administration, that you might not have time to do yourself. This approach will help you get used to sharing out work and will give you an insight to how an agency situation might work if you decide to go down that route.

Ask for advice

As you can see, setting up your own company can be a complicated process - so it’s always worth asking others for advice. With the many legal and financial requirements involved, consulting with a lawyer and an accountant is a must.

But it’s also worth speaking to people who have already taken the plunge and created an agency. Ask them about their journey – what they like and dislike about running a company, what they found difficult, what they would do differently and what advice they would give to a person just starting out. Their experiences could be invaluable in helping you make that next step from freelancer to agency CEO.

About the author: Gary Keeley is the founder of The Workplace Pension Consultancy, which provides advice and consultation for SMEs who are looking to set up auto-enrolment for their staff.

Image:  Geralt/Flickr; CC0, US-PD

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Digital real estate investing trends and risks

The following All Finance Tax infographic describes how technology is changing how property investment takes place. Faster access to real estate related information and increased use of mobile devices has made comparison shopping and market research easier for investors. However, just because greater access to information helps decision making, the same risks are still present in the real estate market. Being aware of those risks and how to manage them is no less important now, than before.


Monday, August 31, 2015

SEO training basics: How to optimize your business blog

SEO Training - ClickMinded.com
By Michelle Rubio

Blogs are one of the essential components of search engine optimization or SEO. Google rewards website with original, high quality, and relevant content, and adding blog posts is an excellent way to provide your readers with useful content, in addition to the webpage copy of your website. To ensure that your blog reaps the benefits of SEO, here are some basic SEO tips to help you optimize your blog so that it gets noticed by Google and other search engines.

Host your blog on your website’s domain

It is ideal for your business blog to be hosted on your website’s domain, than creating a separate domain for the blog, mainly because doing so makes it easier and more convenient for site visitors to navigate to the blog and this helps search engine bots to associate the blog content as part of the main website, which will help improve your website rankings. This can be done by adding a new folder, so the URL of your blog is domain.com/blog, or you can add a subdomain so the URL is blog.domain.com.

Use relevant title tags and meta descriptions

When you optimize individual blog posts for relevant keywords, this increases its visibility in online search results, signaling to search engine bots what your content is all about. Use relevant and unique title tags and meta descriptions for your blogs, as there are preferred by search engine bots. Make sure that you that these are unique and not duplicated throughout the website. Aside from functioning as cues for search engine bots, title tags and meta descriptions also help create a good first impression of your blog post in search results.

If your blog has several contributors, you may want to install an SEO plugin that will prompt your bloggers to add a title tag and meta description to their posts, so your website developer does not have to add these manually. SEO plugins differ depending on your website’s content management systems or CMS, so do a bit of research to find the best one for you.

Post blogs regularly

There is no set rule as for how many times a week you should post, but it is a good practice to update your blog frequently. According to a study, business sites that published more than 16 blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than those that only published 4 posts per month. New posts are helpful in keeping your readers interested and coming back for more, which also helps search engine bots to notice and crawl your website more often. It is good to have an editorial calendar to help ensure that your content is always fresh.

Share your blogs

There is no better way to get online audience to notice your posts than to share them via social media channels. There is no doubt that most of your target customers are on the popular social media networks, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Sharing your online content on social networks not only creates inbound links from social media, it also allows your posts to be shared exponentially by people you may not have reached organically. Another way to get more exposure on social media is to have share buttons on your blogs. This makes it more convenient for your readers to share your content to their social media profiles.

By optimizing your blog for SEO, you can increase online traffic to your website and help establish your business as thought leader in your industry. So, go ahead and try these basic SEO training tips for blogs and see the improvements in your search engine rankings.

About the author: Michelle Rubio is an experienced SEO copywriter and blogger since 2010. She has been working with various businesses, big and small, in the United States, UK, Canada, and Australia. You can see more of her works and experiences in her LinkedIn profile

Image: SEO Planter/Flickr; "How to optimize your blog post". CC BY 2.0