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Six Reasons Why Your Business Meetings Are Not Productive


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Business meetings - most employees dread them, yet they are an essential part of the business world. Many expected that technological advances like videocalling or teleconferencing would to improve the situation, but the truth is that the average office worker still spends too much of their time in meetings, which are considered the biggest time wasters of office life. Recent statistics show that the average US worker still spends more than 5 hours a week in meetings, plus another 4 hours preparing for them. In the case of managers, the figures go up to 12 hours a week.

The problem isn’t only that we spend too much time in meetings, but also that they’re not effective. One of the main reasons why meetings are disliked is because they are generally perceived as unproductive. And this is more than just an opinion, as there is a wealth of data that confirms that most businesses aren’t maximizing the time allocated to meetings:  37 percent of business meetings are labeled as unproductive, and nearly 40 percent of employees admit to having dozed off during a meeting.

So why are your business meetings unproductive? In this article we explore the top 6 reasons, as well as what can you do to change that.



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Seven Simple Steps To Start Your Own Business


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Small businesses are an essential part of the UK’s economy: in 2018, there were more than 5.5 million SMEs across the country, which accounted for over 99 per cent of private sector companies. On the whole, the UK is considered one of the leading business ecosystems in Europe, and hundreds of thousands of new companies are established every year.

More encouraging statistics come from the data released in early 2019, which listed the UK as one of the best countries to start a business in when factoring ease of start up procedures and tax structure. If you are considering setting up a business in the UK, read through this guide to find out how to get started and turn your idea into a successful reality.



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Four Ways To Improve Employee Morale That Don’t Include Giving Them A Raise


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It’s no secret that employee morale is important to the overall success of a business. A positive and healthy work atmosphere is not only more pleasant, but also can have a direct effect on performance, productivity, and ultimately on your business bottom line.

There are many reasons why good employee morale is important in the business context: First, it can help improve employee retention and reduce turnover levels. This is especially important in industry sectors or geographic areas where there are talent shortages. Linked to this, good morale has been linked to lower absenteeism levels. Third, these two factors have a direct impact on business performance and productivity, which is especially noticeable in small businesses. And fourth, high morale does impact customer satisfaction and helps build a stronger business reputation.

Many firms offer financial rewards to boost employee morale, but does this approach always work? The problem with financial incentives like stock options and annual bonuses is that they fail to generate genuine interest and engagement in work. Employees can be fairly compensated and still feel disengaged. This is not to say financial rewards should be scrapped, but rather complemented with other ways of boosting staff morale, such as the ones described below.



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Tax Incentives for Businesses in Texas


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The state of Texas has the second largest GDP in the United States, and at $1.6 trillion it accounts for nearly 9 percent of the US total. A Forbes report listed the Lone Star state in fourth place along a number of crucial rankings, including Best Place for Business and Best in Business Costs. Other key metrics like business density, start-up activity, and business survival rates are also among the top 5 of all 50 states. More importantly, the state is known for its favorable tax climate, which ranked 10th in the 2016 State Business Tax Climate Index. Overall Texas spends a total of $19b per year on incentive schemes, of which $743 million are devoted to corporate rebates or reduction programs, such as the ones listed below.

Enterprise Zone Program

This program was created to promote job creation and attract private investment in designated distressed counties. The program offers businesses involved in qualifying projects a sales tax refund whose amount depends on capital investment and the number of jobs created. Total refunds go from $25,000 up to a maximum of $3.75 million.

Texas Enterprise Fund

This Fund was created in 2004 to favor the creation of high paying jobs and to promote Texas as a top destination for business. The incentive involves the award of a cash grant whose specific dollar amount varies depending on scope of the project, but can go anywhere from $194,000 to $50 million. So far, cash grants have been awarded to businesses of all sizes and sectors, from JPMorgan Chase to Tyson Foods, Jamba Juice, and Petco.

Data Center Exemption

Under this incentive scheme, exemptions are applied to use and state sale taxes (which amount to 6.25 percent) for the purchase of cooling and or electrical systems, electricity, hardware, software, peripherals, emergency generators, and any other equipment needed to operate personal property within the building. To qualify, data centers must employ a minimum of 20 people and make an initial capital investment of $200 million.



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How Much Does Facebook Use Cost The UK Economy?


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The UK ranks sixth in the world in terms of its number of Facebook users. Facebook use is widespread across genders and age groups, and approximately 70 per cent of UK citizens have a Facebook account, spending on average 2.5 hours a day using this social network. The total number of active users has been steadily growing and is expected to reach 37.7 million by the end of 2017 and more than 41 million by 2021.

This popular platform is able to generate more than just social interaction, but also economic activity by reducing barriers to commerce and networking activities. However, there is a downside to Facebook use, which is often quantified in terms of productivity losses. So what is the real cost of such large-scale use of this social media platform? This article looks at various types of data to assess the economic impact of Facebook use in the United Kingdom.

Facebook Use and Workplace Productivity

In 2015, a Deloitte study evaluated the economic impact of Facebook use at global level. Researchers found in the UK, Facebook generated $11 billion (nearly £9 billion) and created 154,000 new jobs in areas like marketing, software development, and e-commerce. However, these figures were offset by other statistics that point at the negative impact of social network use. This impact is often quantified by looking at the time spent on social media platforms during what otherwise would be working hours.

Productivity decreases were reported as far back as 2007, three years after the social network was founded. In autumn 2007, the BBC reported on a survey carried out by an employment law firm, which interviewed more than 3,500 British firms and concluded that Facebook use in the workplace resulted in 233 million hours of work lost every month.



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How To Improve Productivity In The Workplace


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Productivity remains a thorny issue in many US workplaces. With the exception of the 1995-2003 period, annual productivity rates have declined by 36 percent since the late 1940′s, going from 2.2 percent to the current rate of 1.4 percent. Some years, productivity rate increases can be as low as 0.8 percent, a figure that has led many to affirm that America has a productivity problem. Low productivity has far-reaching repercussions, going from diminished economic output to a slow increase in living standards. So what can US employers do to improve productivity in the workplace?

In the first place, it is important to understand that productivity growth is closely linked to worker output (whether this output is measured on an hourly basis or otherwise). This means that identifying the reasons behind low employee productivity is a crucial step when it comes to defining a productivity strategy. To that end, business owners should critically assess how their company is performing along the following dimensions:

Resources

Inadequate resources are one of the main causes behind low workplace productivity. When staff lack resources to do their job, their performance is unsatisfactory and their stress levels are high, and these factors will eventually lead to dissatisfaction, frustration, and employee burnout.

It is worth noting that resources can be tangible (equipment, technology) and intangible (training, systems, and procedures). On this note, most modern businesses can benefit from investing in technological resources that automate processes and therefore liberate employees from having to perform redundant and unnecessarily time-consuming tasks.

Training

No matter how many resources you may put at the disposal of your employees, if they lack training their productivity will be severely affected. Adequate training helps staff make efficient use of the resources available, bolsters their confidence, and strengthens their motivation to get the job well done.



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How Is The UK Economy Doing Post EU Referendum?


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The effects of the EU referendum are the most widely debated topic in social and economic circles across the UK. So far, there is a lack of unanimity regarding the magnitude of this development, since conflicting reports emerge depending of which figures are being analysed. To assess the impact of the referendum thus far, we examine several individual indicators linked to the performance of the economy, based on data collected by the Office for National Statistics.

- On the whole, the UK’s economy grew by 2 per cent in 2016, mainly thanks to a resilient manufacturing sector that compensated for a weakened retail sector.

- The value of pound sterling experienced a sharp drop: three months after the referendum it was 20 per cent lower on a year-on-year basis.

- Linked to devaluation of the pound was an increase in the Consumer Prices Index, along with a rise in inflation and in the price of imports due to unfavourable currency exchange rates. Nevertheless, a PwC report affirmed that consumer spending has not been as negatively affected by the Brexit vote as it was initially predicted.

- On the brighter side, the drop in value of the pound had a positive effect on the export sector, which accounts for a significant part of the country’s overall economic activity. Barely two months after the referendum, manufacturing output growth reached its highest level since 2014, and some suggest that the fall in sterling value is the main reason behind this spike.

- A modest increase in GDP (2 per cent higher than in 2015). Short-term prospects in this respect will depend on the performance of the services sector.

- A minor increase (0.8 per cent) in the Index of Services during the quarter that followed the referendum. This is a positive figure considering the connection between this indicator, the services industry, and the overall economy.



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Top Tips For Launching A Successful Business


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Although entrepreneurship is at the heart of the US economy, business fail rates seem to be increasing and are currently 30 percent higher than they were in the late 1970s. There are other figures that confirm this trend: the latest US census shows that the annual business creation / business fail ratio is 400,000 / 470,000; and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only half of all new businesses survive their initial 5 years, whereas the 10-year survival rate is even lower at 33 percent.

In this article we offer seven tips that can help US entrepreneurs launch a successful business.

1. Focus on strategic planning

Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of investing most of their time and resources into planning and running successful operations. However, concentrating all efforts on the day-to-day running of a business often leads to missing the forest for the trees. To avoid that, you should ensure business strategy (whereby mid and long-term goals and action plans are defined) is a top priority and underpins all business operations.

2. Create and nurture an organizational culture

When it comes to achieving long-term business success, a strong organizational culture is as important as strategic planning. Contrary to popular belief, organizational culture is not the exclusive prerogative of large firms, as it also plays a key role in the success of small businesses by permeating every aspect of their operations with motivating values and a compelling mission.

3. Look after existing customers

Although this may seem an obvious suggestion, the truth is that many new businesses tend to focus their efforts on acquiring new clients, and sometimes do so at the expense of existing ones. A 2015 Customer Experience Index revealed that as few as 1 percent of all US companies deliver customer service that is rated as excellent, therefore missing an opportunity to turn existing customers into loyal advocates who generate new leads on their behalf.

4. Build a winning team

To put it simply: your team should be as strong as your overall business plan. Team building should be done in the initial stages of a business operation instead of as an afterthought. Moreover, it should guide the recruiting process to ensure that the personalities and skill set of team members are a perfect match to the company’s organizational culture. Don’t limit yourself to recruiting staff who have the right experience, but also look for those who enthusiastically share your vision and believe in your business concept.



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Female Entrepreneurs in the UK – How Things Are Changing


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In honour of International Women’s Day we would like to celebrate the great strides women have made in the business world. Across the UK, successful female entrepreneurs are making headlines for the role they play in transforming their respective industry sectors. Names like Alice Hall, Brynne Hebert, or Rachel Bell are often used as examples of the transformational current that has been sweeping the business world for a while. However, the fact remains that the entrepreneurial scene is largely dominated by men. According to a Centre for Entrepreneurs report, only 19 per cent of successful serial entrepreneurs are female, despite fact that women account for over 50 per cent of the country’s population. But how exactly is the female entrepreneurial scene changing, and what can we expect in the near future?

Female Entrepreneurs: Signs of Change

The UK’s female entrepreneurship scene has changed along five main dimensions:

- Higher participation in labour market that has nevertheless not been matched by higher entrepreneurial rates.

- Entrepreneurial activity is twice as likely among men, but things have been improving in favour of female entrepreneurs since 2001. Currently, entrepreneurial activity rates are 4.7 per cent for female’s vs 9.5 per cent for males.

- Female-led businesses experience higher churn rates and the female share of business ownership has not changed significantly since the mid 1990s.

- Female entrepreneurs are more likely to be involved in management consultancy services, events organising, and PR, although the number of female-led ventures involving technology, science and engineering is on the rise.

- An increase in the number of female-led firms that make a significant contribution to the local economy. For instance, the sales volume generated by female-led mid-sized firms has increased by more than £2bn in just 12 months.

Challenges and Solutions

The key challenges affecting female entrepreneurs relate to support, funding, mentoring, training and skills development, work-life balance, and access to new markets. Over the last decade, several initiatives have been launched to address these issues. Examples of policy initiatives created to increase the relatively low numbers of female entrepreneurs across the UK include:

- The establishment of the National Association for the Promotion of Women’s Enterprise (2002)

- The Women’s Business Council (2012)



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Is Corporate Culture Still Relevant Today?


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The notion of corporate culture and its impact on the business world have been discussed since the 1980s, but despite its popularity among businesspeople and academics, the concept remains hard to define given its abstract character.

Corporate culture could be defined as the set of behaviours, beliefs, corporate strategies, attitudes, practices, processes, and standards shared by members of an organisation. It could be said that corporate culture is “the way things are done” within an organisation, usually as a reflection of the company’s mission, vision, and values. Corporate culture may even be embodied in a logo, but often goes beyond that and encompasses staff and executives’ feelings, expectations, and thought processes.

However, some are sceptical about the role that corporate culture plays in organisations, claiming that it can be double-edged sword used as a control mechanism to stifle individuality. This begs the question “Is corporate culture still relevant today?”

The answer is yes, for two main reasons:

1- Corporate culture evolves over time as a result of the cumulative actions and characteristics of the individuals that make up a company, building on the company’s history and developing as a reflection of the company’s identity. This means it cannot simply fade in the background, as it will always remain a crucial part of a business raison d’etre. Moreover, a well-defined organisational culture can help build a stronger brand image and reinforce the idea that a company is committed to high quality standards that are coherent with its identity.

2- Corporate culture plays a key role in a company’s success. A 2015 survey showed that more than more than 50% of  top executives believed corporate culture had a direct effect on productivity, growth, value, and profitability. Improved staff morale and retention are typically higher in businesses with a healthy culture. In the UK, the 2016 Great Place To Work report highlighted how workplaces with a strong corporate culture score higher in terms of employee well-being, since in these companies there are clear strategies in place to ensure the working environment is conducive to satisfaction and productivity.



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