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International Women’s Day: What does it mean to be a woman in today’s business world?


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Each year on March 8, it’s International Women’s Day, and a good time to reflect on progress made in the workplace towards female equality. Many events, held all around the world, discuss the challenges the future brings when considering: women’s empowerment in the workplace, women’s human rights, issues of poverty, and the role of women as agents of innovation and development. This year’s theme is: “Equality for women is progress for all”.

How can a business support International Women’s Day 2015?

Each year, organisations, including non-government organisations, charities, businesses and governments, are encouraged to adopt a more personal theme relevant to their business area to mark the day. For example, British Petroleum have chosen the theme; “make it happen”, which showcases the achievements of women in the oil and gas industries. The United Nations encourages businesses to measure progress, celebrate “acts of courage and determination” by women in their individual countries and put in place policies to support women managers.

How do women help grow the economy?

The UN research indicates “countries with more gender equality have better economic growth”. How does a business translate this, into actionable steps to, help women in their businesses?

PR heavyweights, McKinsey & Company rate the business of empowering women as extremely important when doing business in developing countries. Page 7 of their report: The Business of Empowering Women, suggests these policies form part of any business plan:

• Enabling women to develop marketable skills including education to tertiary level, vocational and technical qualifications, citizenship skills such as financial, family and household management skills.
• Helping women access opportunity for employment – free from “discrimination, harassment and violence”; gaining access to credit facilities; ease of travel, public infrastructure and quality childcare.
• In leadership, supporting women to gain responsible positions – adding the voice of your business to lobbying for equal legal, social, and economic rights for women, ownership laws of property, and the ability to control their own income.

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International Women’s Day: Equality in the Workplace


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The only way that society can advance is when the talents of everyone in the workforce are utilized equally. For many years now, International Women’s Day has focused attention on the issues that cause inequality in the workplace and has looked for ways to level the playing field for everyone.

One of the primary messages of International Women’s Day is that equality means progress for everyone. It is a powerful message that helps to highlight the challenges women face in the workplace and the benefits to eliminating those challenges completely.

What Does Workplace Equality Mean?

The underlying message behind equality in the workplace is to make sure that the person who is most qualified for the job gets that job and gets a reasonable salary as well. Equality means more than opening up more opportunities to women in the workplace; it also means making sure that a man or woman would get the same pay for a job well done.

Workplace equality means smashing through the barriers which insist that there are jobs specifically for males and females and opening up opportunity to everyone. Equality can be a very positive step towards developing a corporate workforce that is adaptable and versatile.

Why Is Workplace Equality Important To Companies?

Without workplace equality, the talents of everyone interested in doing a particular job are ignored. A company that exercises workplace equality can develop a workforce that is competitive and able to adapt to any changes that may come because the most qualified workers are doing the jobs they were trained for.

When a company hires individuals based on their qualifications, then that company can get a strong return on the investment it makes in its recruiting efforts. It costs less for a company to maintain a strong workforce and it is also easier to replace workers who leave the company.

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Tax Deadlines for Businesses in the US for 2015


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Every business has to pay taxes, but paying taxes can get complicated when you miss some of the important deadlines throughout the year. It is important to have a reliable resource you can use to help you keep an accurate calendar of tax due dates throughout 2015 to make sure that you avoid any penalties for late payments.

January 15, 2015

This is the deadline to file estimated payments for the fourth quarter of 2014 for self-employed individuals.

January 20, 2015

This the date when the IRS officially begins processing all of the corporate and individual returns it has received up to that point. This is not the deadline for filing your return.

February 2, 2015

This is the official deadline for W-2 and 1099 forms to be postmarked and mailed.

February 17, 2015

This is the final day of the month for employees to file their tax exemptions forms with their employers that determine how much is withheld from their paychecks for federal taxes. This is also the date where all 1099-B forms (income received through stock transactions) and 1099-S forms (income received from buying or selling real estate) must be issued for 2014 by responsible organizations.

February 28, 2015

By this date, all companies who utilize independent contractors must have their 1099 and 1096 forms for 2014 submitted to the IRS.

March 17, 2015

Any corporation that uses the calendar year as its fiscal year must have its corporate tax returns filed by this date. This is also the deadline date for corporations that do use the calendar year as their fiscal year to file for a six-month extension for their corporate returns.

April 15, 2015

This is a busy day on the tax calendar as it is the date for self-employed people to file estimated tax payments for the first quarter of 2015, the deadline for filing and paying all 2014 personal income taxes, and it is also the last day to file an amended return for the 2011 tax year. This is also the filing deadline for any taxpayer looking for a six-month extension to submitting their 2014 return. This is also the date that sole proprietors, LLCs, and partnerships must file their corporate taxes.

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Advice for Online Retailers in the UK


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Online retailing is rapidly expanding. Major online retailers like Amazon and eBay are achieving high sales, bringing more and more retailers online. According to The Centre for Retail Research, in 2014, online retail sales in the UK increased by 15.8 percent, whereas the estimate for 2015 is a 16 percent increase. British consumers spend on average GBP59 for online shopping, mostly on tablets (82 percent).

Here is some online retail advice.

Tips for online retailers

a) The basics
An online business does not have a physical address. You should not neglect to list some basic information like your phone number and/or an email address. Customers should feel that they can contact you anytime with questions about your products or services.

Write straightforward, accurate and easy to understand product and/or service descriptions, including prices and any extra fees. Over-complicated descriptions will confuse your customers, who, most likely will prefer another online retailer.

Include nice, colorful pictures of your products so that customers can actually see what they are buying. Don’t forget that your business is not brick-and-mortar, so customers trust your product descriptions, but they also need a visual communication of what they are shopping for.

Create a user–friendly website where visitors can navigate with easiness. Check out eBay or Amazon to see what makes them so easy to function. Don’t forget that your website is, in fact, your shop window, the entrance to your business. Make it attractive, but, above all, efficient.

b) The Marketing
Send a promotional newsletter to your current or prospective customers to promote your products and/or services. Promotional letters seek to get your customers to take an immediate action using a persuasive process that may result in a sale, including new sign-ups, downloads or registrations. In fact, this marketing strategy seeks to turn prospects into customers and customers into repeat customers.

Join LinkedIn, the great professional network for brand promotion. LinkedIn is a powerful business resource, which currently hosts more than 332 million members in 200 countries. By creating a complete and descriptive company profile you increase your target audience and have a unique opportunity to exponentially grow your customer base. Additionally, you can connect with your competitors and perform a competitive research.

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Small Business Support Guide for the UK


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Managing a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) in the UK can sometimes feel financially restrictive. While many may struggle to access private funds, there are government backed schemes available. Although some are available throughout the UK, others are restricted to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland respectively.

Starting a new business
The government offers advice for those who are starting a new business. This includes researching the market and developing a business plan, both of which are essential when seeking funding from private or public schemes. After this, new entrepreneurs need to find partners and suppliers, then register the business, before looking for funding.

Business funding schemes available throughout the UK
There are several lending programs supported by the government throughout the UK.

Enterprise Financial Guarantee Scheme
Under the Enterprise Financial Guarantee scheme, the government backs up to 75 percent of the business’ loan, and a private lender covers the remaining 25 percent. It is available to businesses with an annual turnover under £25 million, and they can borrow between £1000 and £1 million over a 10-year period.

There are some restrictions businesses should be aware of. The coal industry is not covered, and some areas of agriculture, forestry, finance, and transport are excluded.

Enterprise capital funds
Rapidly growing SMEs can access a £1 million investment over a 10-year period, which is partially backed by the government. There are no restrictions, but most of the successful applications have been granted to high-tech businesses. This scheme transferred to the British Business Bank in 2014.

Funds for England only
Local Enterprise Partnerships
Local Enterprise Partnerships are largely available in areas where local employment is dependent on the public sector. For example, the North East. Businesses that can meet employment deficits in a local area may be able to access grants under the partnership scheme.

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Business Tax Changes for the USA 2015


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Each new year means another new set of tax rules for businesses across the country. There are some major business tax changes for 2015 and then there are also some smaller ones that are still very important to note and implement.

Even if you have a tax accountant take care of your business taxes, it is important to know the business tax law changes so you can alter the way you collect information throughout the year. The more you know about the pending changes, the more you can help your tax accountant to maximize your deductions and save you money on your taxes.

Affordable Care Act

If your small business is below the 50-employee threshold for the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act, then your concerns in 2015 are no different than they were in 2014. But if you do have 50 employees or more, then the ACA could affect your taxes at the end of the year.

One of the changes that 2015 brings with the ACA is an increase in tax penalty for people who do not have coverage. Along with stiffer fines comes the requirement that employers offer adequate insurance for a reasonable price. A professional tax expert can explain to you exactly what constitutes adequate insurance and reasonable prices.

If you are planning an expansion in 2015 that will force you to hire more employees, then the ACA could become an issue for you in 2016. With the ACA, it is always best to plan at least one year in advance to avoid tax problems.

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How To Get Your Business Noticed Online in the UK


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Establishing a strong web presence through a successful online business can be a really profitable venture. The following techniques will help you get your business noticed online and stand out from your competitors.

Choose an accurate domain name
Many businesses fail to establish a strong online presence because their owners choose irrelevant domain names. The domain name of your online business should contain your key product. For instance, if you sell glasses, you should include the keyword “glasses” in your domain name. Unless you have an already established and reputable online business, customers will find you by typing in the search engine the keyword of the product they are looking for. So, make sure to select an accurate domain name in order to target the right audience and convey the right marketing message.

Optimize your website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial success factor for your online business. By optimizing your website, your online business earns a higher ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPS). Effective optimization means that when a user enters a keyword in a search engine like Google or Yahoo, your website will appear in the first pages of results. For example, if you sell women’s clothes, use keywords such as “women’s apparel”, “women’s fashion” and so on. Generic keywords like “jeans”, “underwear”, “skirts” etc. won’t bring traffic to your online business. By making your website “search-engine friendly” you can attract prospects and turn them into regular customers. In fact, Google uses “spiders”, a software that crawls the web frequently and finds sites to index.

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Consumer Regulations Guide: What You Need to Know


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Online sales are booming across the UK, and everything suggests that this trend is here to stay. The United Kingdom tops the list of European countries in terms of online sales, as during 2014 alone online transactions generated revenues for the value of nearly £45 billion. In only six years, the volume of online sales in the UK has tripled, especially since more and more consumers are using their mobile devices (like tablets and smartphones) to make purchases online.

Online retail sales (also known as e-tailing) offer consumers the convenience of purchasing their favourite goods from the comfort of their homes. This new way of conducting commercial transactions also benefits business owners, who can now easily reach a wider consumer base and multiply their income exponentially. Whether you are a consumer who shops online or the owner of an online business, it is important that you are aware of the new consumer regulations that apply to online commercial transactions since June 2014. Read through our summary below to familiarise yourself with your rights and responsibilities.

What type of transactions are included?
The new consumer regulations apply to online transactions used to purchase both goods and services. This includes the purchase of digital content (music, movies, software, etc.) but excludes things like the purchase of foodstuffs, gambling transactions, and transactions that involve residential accommodation.

What information are retailers obliged to provide?
Retailers must make the customer aware of the following information before any contract is signed and before orders are placed: the characteristics of the goods on offer; the final price including any relevant taxes; clear delivery information; the seller’s name and contact details; and the duration of the contract where applicable.

How do the changes affect the ‘cooling off’ period?
Previously, consumers had a seven-day ‘cooling off’ period that allowed them to cancel a contract or purchase without needing to have any specific reason. Under the new consumer regulations, this period has been extended to 14 days. The 14-day period also applies to other parts of the transaction, such as returns and refunds, which must be processed within 14 days of receiving the returned goods.

What about delivery terms?
Under the amended consumer regulations, online retailers must deliver goods or services without delay and within a maximum of 30 calendar days from the date in which the order was placed.

The following infographic, courtesy of Waterfront Solicitors, provides a detailed visual overview of the regulatory changes that every e-tailer in the UK should be aware of.

Guide For Online Businesses

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Business Tax Changes for the UK 2015


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You may have heard the news that the way VAT (Value Added Taxation) is charged to companies based in the UK is changing. Those earning revenue through online trading need to pay VAT to the EU member state where the customer lives, as opposed to the previous system where the company paid the VAT from the country they chose to supply the goods or services from.

It is worth deciding if your firm needs to make a note of any new requirements. The government introduced changes specifically applying to anyone supplying telecommunications, broadcasting products and e-services. Below is a short summary of what to look out for, courtesy of HM Treasury and Customs.

VAT Changes – new supply rules and the introduction of the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS)
The new VAT rules apply to UK businesses from 1 January 2015. Some compliance issues worth considering are:
• Compliance option 1 – the main compliance issue each business will need to ask itself, is does it want to register for VAT, separately, in each Europe member state. This applies if they have a consumer, or non-VAT registered customer that is resident in that state.
• Compliance option 2 – Businesses can choose to apply for the mini one-stop shop (MOSS) option, which means the scheme simplifies VAT responsibilities into customer groupings by EU member state.

Under either scheme, a business will need to know the individual EU VAT rates in each member state they are trading in, and the particular rules that apply there.

Businesses need to be aware they are subject to an audit from that member state.

Systems and Processes Will Change for Business Account-keeping and VAT
Businesses will need to identify exactly where their customers are located. For many, this will mean a complete overhaul of record keeping systems. How customers are managed, means improved technology systems, which can take hold of large amounts of data. Part of the process of doing business may mean a business needs to enable more server space, for example.

New ways of storing customer information, and the increased details needed, mean a business will need to get this checked out by a legal team. If working in a B2B environment, this could lead to needing to negotiate new trading terms with suppliers.

Ways of invoicing customers will need to change. Member state invoices need to be in the language of the customer’s country, and with the corresponding local taxation and VAT information clearly displayed.

Commercial Issues around Pricing
For a business, deciding how to apply VAT in the past would mean adding a percentage value wherever the VAT applies. Obviously, each product or service will attract a different percentage VAT addition, depending on where the customer lives.

Pricing can be applied on an individual member state level, known as dynamic pricing, yet a business will need a good technology algorithm to apply the variations needed for auto-calculations to be accurate every time. It may be the case, a business will need to think about their customers at the point-of-sale. Do they need to fill out a bit more information, and if so, do contact and order forms need adjustment?

Another option is to go for a blended rate, or universal pricing, which gives uneven margins, but to the business provides an acceptable level of profit. This may be the preferred method of pricing.

Issues over pricing may cause a business to relocate, if many customers are in a certain EU state where VAT is lower than their current location.

Source: kpmg.com/uk/vat2015

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Top 10 UK Tech Conferences For 2015


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In recent years, digital conferences have become a top way to network fellow technology heavyweights and listen to ‘A’ list digital entrepreneurs. Sharing ideas with the likes of You Tube cofounder Chad Hurley, or Skype’s Niklas Zennstrom while listening to the world’s top technology venture capitalists describe their successes, is a real possiblility with today’s top ten tech conferences.

Top 10 Technology Conferences Held in the UK

1. Digibury in Canterbury
14 January 2015 and monthly.
Set on the University of Kent campus and the Gulbenkian Theatre, Digibury aims to connect digital and creative entrepreneurs together in a series of one day conferences held every month. For those new to the conference circuit, regular attendance at Digibury is a great platform to start networking the digital community and establishing contacts.

 
2. Tech UK – The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth.
12 February 2015
The way TV broadcasting will evolve with the 4K technology is a hot topic covered by Tech UK, who host regular conferences dealing with specialisted digital technology. This conference located in central London includes keynote speakers, Nigel Catlow, Business group director/Consumer electronics, UK & Ireland, GfK, Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO, Digital TV Group and Stephan Heimbecher, Head of Innovations & Standards, Sky Deutschland.

 
3. Technology for Marketing and Advertising TFM&A Conference
25-26 February, 2015
Held at the London Olympic Exhibition Centre, this event is the gathering place for digital marketing experts and advertisers who know how to make use of technology powered marketing. Offering delegates workshops, round-table discussings, and showcasing cutting edge marketing applications with hundreds of exhibitions stands, this is a must for anyone involved in digital marketing. Key note speakers for 2015 include Kieran Flanagan from Hubspot.

 
4. QCon London – software development conference
4-6 March, 2015
QCon is the annual gathering of those working in software development, as a part of technical teams including architects, engineering directors, and project managers. Introducing the latest software innovations in the industry, QCon features over one hundred speakers. This year, Roy Rapoport from Netflix, John Wilkes from Google, and John Graham Cummin (open source POPFile email programme developer) lead the pack of speakers.

 
5. The Wearable Technology Show 2015
10-11 March, 2015
Held at the Excel Centre in London and hosted by Augmented Realtiy, the Wearable Technology Show is the biggest event for leading experts in the field to showcase their wares. Full of tech stands and offering delegates the chance to hear talks and views from the top entrepreneurs in this fast growing field, this is a must for hands on digital designers and developers. All the big names are there on a rota of talks, including representatives from Google, LG, Accenture, McLaren, Visa, Samsung and more.

 
6. The Digital Shoreditch Festival
11-12 May 2015
Organised by the local community, this tech conference, held in the heart of the UK’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in Shoreditch, attracts the very best tech, creative and entrepreneurial people from London and Europe. There’s plenty to engage you, and with over 12,500 technology businesses in the immediate vicinity, there’s plenty of networking to do. The theme for 2015 is ‘trends with digital philanthropy’ and the way digital media has become a tool for social impact projects.

 
7. Thinking Digital
19-21 May, 2015
This spectacular conference at The Sage, Gateshead, attracts fantastic speakers such as Google’s machine intelligence expert Blaise Aguera y Arcas. Last year, Arcas gave an insightful insight into the world of machines, and the potential of artificial intelligence. Developers and those in digital applications will enjoy this conference.

 
8. The Eco Technology Show 2015
Billed as the event which embraces innovation concerning technology for low carbon solutions, the Eco Technology Show holds its annual conference in Brighton’s American Express stadium. Showcasing the best in the building industry, the conference invites panel discussions and the opportunity to network with town and city planning decision makers across the UK. Digital technology partners interested in commissioning large projects in the eco-techmarket will enjoy this conference. Hosting talks from keynote speakers such as Stephen Golding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Paul Southall from the National Trust, this is a must for anyone doing business in digital innovation for environment planning.

 
9. Tech Entrepreneurs Week
July 2015 (TBA)
Leading tech entrepreneurs enjoy this conference specifically for start-ups. Located in Euston Square, London, the conference covers investor networking, opportunities, funding, entrepreneur seminars and hosts many cutting edge tech speakers. Last year attracted speakers from Microsoft (James Whittaker), Nigle Townsend from Kiroco, Professor Adrian Cheok from Reality Lab, and Leo Castellanos from Saatchi Investors.

 
10. JAX London 2015
October 2015 (TBA)
JAX aims to bring together Java, JVM and Enterprise professionals together to discuss technology and methodology. The annual conference is gaining a reputation for being the place where the latest developer and architect solutions are discussed alongside specialist JAVA technology innovations and issues.

 

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