Business week in brief: 6th January 2012
Our top blog posts of 2011
Business week in brief: 16th December 2011
Business week in brief: 9th December 2011
Business week in brief: 2nd December 2011
George Osborne’s Autumn Statement: what it means for businesses
The Chancellor, George Osborne, gave his Autumn Statement today.
Here’s a summary of the announcements he made that will have an impact on businesses:
The OBR does not predict another recession.
The Office for Budget Responsibility does not predict that there will be another UK recession, but it has made a lower prediction for growth in 2012 - 0.7%, compared to 0.9% this year.
£30 billion infrastructure investment.
There will be a £30 billion investment in infrastructure; £5 billion will come from the government itself by 2014-15, while it is hoped that the other £20 billion will come from investment to come from the big British pension funds. 500 projects have been proposed, including broadband, rail and road projects.
£40 billion National Loan Guarantee Scheme for small and medium businesses.
The availability of affordable credit for small businesses has been in the spotlight for some time now. Mr Osborne announced a new National Loan Guarantee Scheme which will be used to fund loans for businesses with a turnover of less than £50 million. He said that this could mean the cost of loans falls by 1%.
£1 billion business finance partnership.
A new business finance partnership is to be launched for medium-sized businesses.
An extra £1 billion for the Regional Growth Fund.
£250 million in support for energy intensive industries.
The government will provide financial support worth £250 million for businesses in energy-intensive industries, in order to try and keep those businesses (and the jobs they provide) in the UK.
Cut the burden of employment law on small businesses.
There will be a consultation employment laws, including whether small businesses can make people people redundant without them being able to claim for unfair dismissal.
A tax relief scheme for start-up investment.
From April 2012 income tax relief of 50% will be available for people who invest in up to £100,000 in a start-up. Next year capital gains tax on investment in start-ups will be waived.
Business rates holiday for small firms is to be extended to April 2013.
Fuel duty rise cancelled.
The 3p rise in fuel duty which was due to come into force in January has been cancelled.
Pension age to rise sooner.
The state pension age is to rise to 67 in 2026, rather than 2036.
A lower cap on rail fare rises.
Rail fare rises will be capped at 1% over inflation, rather than the current 3%.
Do people drive differently in a company car?
Are drivers more or less likely to jump the lights when they're in a company car?
A poll by our sister company uSwitch.com has found that drivers really do behave differently when they’re in a company car. And unfortunately, it isn’t the case that they drive more carefully or treat the car with greater consideration.
- 67% of those polled said that they were more likely to take bigger risks when they’re driving a company car.
- 52% said they were more likely to speed than when driving their own car.
- 67% are also more likely to lane hop.
- 62% say they’re more likely to jump the lights.
- 83% are more likely to use a mobile in their company car.
- 27% are more worried about knocking or scratching their work car than their personal car. 24% bother to check the oil or water.
- 24% worry about keeping their company car clean.
Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, commented: “A company car is a real perk, especially for cash strapped consumers.
“Unfortunately our research shows that some drivers aren’t just using it, but are guilty of abusing it, treating their work car very differently to their own car which is funded out of their own pocket.
“But a company car doesn’t give you carte blanche for risky driving - taking liberties with your company car could not only drive your boss round the bend, but also your insurance premium up.”
How do you treat your company car? Do the results of the poll ring true for you? Perhaps the way your employees treat company cars infuriate you? Let us know in the comments.
CBI Annual Conference: 5 minute summary
Our five minute summary of the CBI Conference, plus a reading list if you want more detail.
Yesterday was the CBI’s annual conference. With a number of influential speakers including David Cameron, there was a lot to take in, so here’s our quick summary of the day’s events and a comprehensive reading list for those who want to find out more.
David Cameron: growth is important, but we have to tackle the deficit.
In his keynote address, David Cameron announced a new strategy for growth, including support for the housebuilding industry, the roll-out of super-fast broadband, building new power stations and more business lending. He added: "We need a fundamental rebalancing of the economy - more investment, more exports, and a broader base to an economic future." Mr Cameron also said that government wanted to "get credit flowing" to businesses with initiatives like Project Merlin, the Business Growth Fund and the Regional Growth Fund. He also indicated that George Osborne would be unveiling a new credit easing scheme in his Autumn Statement next week.
The role of trade and diplomacy.
William Hague stressed the importance of foreign trade and said that the government will be using "economic and commercial diplomacy" as part of its strategy of boosting exports, growth and jobs. He added that the government was trying to restart growth that would serve the country well in the long-term. The Turkish president Abdullah Gül said that making business links between the UK and Turkey even stronger was vital and could help to offset the effects of the eurozone crisis. Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat and Chrysler CEO, also picked up on this key message, urging businesses to embrace working outside their domestic market.
Businesses need the respect of the public.
Sir Roger Carr, president of the CBI, told the conference that businesses needed to win the respect of the public, highlighting the business leaders who appear on Dragon’s Den as an example. He stressed that business leaders needed to act in a way that inspires respect in every aspect of their professional lives. The CBI Director General, John Cridland, also spoke about the role of business in society and said that they had a reputation problem to address. He commented: “FTSE 100 chief executives now earn 89 times more than their median full-time employees. I accept that we compete in a global market for talent, and I believe absolutely in rewards for success. But it's not hard to see why some people think differently."
Read David Cameron’s speech in full
Read William Hague’s speech in full
Videos of the conference
David Cameron says no 'silver bullet' to fix economy
Would executives at the CBI conference take a pay cut?
Tackling UK deficit behind schedule
UK exporters must seize BRICs growth opportunity
- Business must address reputation problem, says CBI chief
Five crazy business ideas
There’s a mad inventor inside all of us, and when you have an idea sometimes it can be hard to know if it will work as a business or not. With this in mind, here are some of the wackiest successful business ideas to grace the marketplace. A lot of these were probably laughed at initially, but have flourished into successful businesses.
1. The Frankfurter Converter/Octodogs
Is it a hot dog or is it an octopus? Image by mudfud via Flickr
The Frankfurter Converter is a device which slices hotdogs into eight slices, creating an “octodog”.
"Why?" I hear you ask. Apparently it's because the hotdog is one of the ten foods which most commonly lead to choking in young children.
Enter the Frandfurter Converter and the Octodog. By slicing the hotdog length-ways into eight slices, the chances of someone choking when eating it are reduced. Plus, it makes your hotdog look like an octopus, and who doesn't want that?
2. Forehead (and bodyhair) advertising
It might look like a hairy back, but actually it's a billboard. Image by SFBart via Flickr
The name is fairly self-explanatory, but for the avoidance of doubt, forehead advertising is the selling of people’s foreheads as a location for advertising collateral.
The concept was originally dreamed up by an organisation called Headvertise in 2002. The idea went down a storm with the media, notching up some serious column inches, but plety of people also signed up to rent out their skin. Before long, people were renting their own foreheads out to advertisers on eBay and in the most extreme cases they even tattooed their skin with paid advertising messages.
Rethink Communications took advertising to a different part of the body: hairy backs. One man’s back hair was shaved so that the bald patches read “Parissa’s Wax Strips”. He was paraded around a busy beach, as onlookers gathered to take pictures and to see demonstrations of the wax strips in action. Obviously exposed backs aren’t suitable for all situations, but a crowded beach seems like the perfect place to advertise on flesh.
In theory, this type of advertising could work on any exposed area of the human body which is hairy enough to shave. The mind boggles.
Dear Santa...Image by geishabay500 via Flickr.
It’s a simple idea, and a stroke of genius.
Byron Reese simply obtained a postal address at the North Pole in Alaska, and now charges parents for special letters sent ‘from Santa’ to their kids. Reese has sent over 200,000 letters since 2001. It gives kids the chance to write a letter to Father Christmas which won’t simply end up in the bin. Kids will receive a personalised letter from Santa with a North Pole post mark.
4. Dog Wash
Don't even think about putting your dog in the washing machine. Image by andyjsw via Flickr
Picture this: you've taken man's best friend out for a long, muddy walk, but now he's all soggy and dirty you're not quite so keen on the idea of letting your best friend in your car or house. If only there was some way of getting him clean and dry...
Enter the dog washing machine; a coin-operated dog wash vending machine. It offers a full bathing and grooming service, with six different wash cycles, a hand-held wash gun and two drying options. Perfect.
5. Plastic wishbones
Wishing for a crazy business idea. Image by Lydiat via Flickr
Everyone wants to break the wishbone after a roast, but it's a two person job, so someone is always left disappointed.
Enter the Lucky Break - makers of a plastic wishbone with the look and feel of the real thing, but you can buy enough to go around and they're suitable for vegetarians too.
It might sound crazy, but Lucky Break have been in business for over a decade and make over 30,000 wishbones a day.
It just goes to show that even the craziest business ideas can work out - it just takes a bit of vision and determination. We can't help you with a business idea, but we can help you get a great deal on business gas or business electricity; paying attention to little overheads like these can help you grow you business from an idea to a reality.
Come and visit uSwitchforBusiness.com at the Great British Business Show
uSwitchforBusiness.com is going to be at the Great British Business Show at Earl's Court on 17th and 18th November.
Tickets are free (here's how to get your hands on some) and there are some amazing speakers, including James Caan, Will King and David Gold.
We'll be at stand 555 - opposite the Sage networking bar - and if you bring a business energy bill with you, you'll be in with a chance of winning an iPad.
We'll be tweeting throughout the event too at @uSwitchBusiness
5 reasons to visit uSwitchforBusiness.com at Stand 555:
1. You could save £1500.
The average business saves £1500 a year on their business energy with us*. We’ll have our expert staff ready and waiting to get you an estimate and show you how much you could save.
2. It only takes 10 minutes.
For many of our customers it only takes 10 minutes to get a quote and make the switch to a cheaper deal. What else can save you so much money in so little time?
3. You can cut costs without cutting back.
Switching to a cheaper business energy contract has a positive effect on your bottom line without having a negative effect on how you do business. It’s the same electricity; the only difference you’ll notice is lower bills.
4. We’re experts.
We know business energy inside out and we make switching hassle-free. We’re used to every different kind of business and meter, so our expert business advisors will be able to give you tailored advice that’s relevant for your business.
5. We’re free and independent.
We don’t charge for our services and we’re totally independent. We work with all the big energy suppliers you’d expect, and smaller companies you might not have heard of, so you get the benefit of quotes from across the market.
So whether you're an existing customer or you've never used us before, come and say 'hi' and stand 555. And if you want a quote or some advice on your business eenrgy supply, don't forget to bring your bill with you.
*uSwitchforBusiness.com customers saved an average of £1,500 a year by switching supplier, (1.1.10 - 21.5.10)
- The draft Energy Bill: a five-minute summary
- 60% increase in business energy costs as average turnover falls by 6%
- Business week in brief: 11th May 2012
- Ed Miliband and the Queen talk energy
- Interview with Steve Fitzsimons of new business energy supplier, Hudson Energy
- Business week in brief: 4th May 2012
- The see saw of corporate profit
- Business week in brief: 27th April 2012
- EDF Energy’s Business Customer Commitments: four key pledges
- Businesses buck the trend when it comes to smaller energy suppliers