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The New Trends in Digital Marketing Strategy

Your business’ online marketing strategy may have centred on email marketing, search marketing, pay-per-click, Web 2.0, or any of the many other online marketing approaches. These techniques still work today, and they will continue to work for some time yet. However, the question is – what is the next “big thing” in online marketing and how can businesses get on top of it today?

Upgrading to Windows 7 from XP - Should your business make the switch?

Most offices today are running Windows XP on their computers. This software is familiar to most of us. It’s stable and reliable and with the right anti-virus software, it is quite secure. Most of us also know that Windows 7 was launched in October 2009 as XP’s eventual replacement. The new version of windows is actually designed to replace Windows Vista -  launched in 2007 but many businesses failed to adopt it because it was unstable, tended to crash and simply didn’t work as well as XP.

HMRC Business Records Checks – Are you ready?

On 17 December 2010 HMRC published a consultation document on Business Record Checks. The deadline for responding is 28 February 2011.

HMRC plan to carry out reviews of business records for adequacy and accuracy. HMRC believe that some 2 million SME’s have records that fall below the standard.

Beginning in the second half of 2011, HMRC plan to check up to 50,000 cases annually. There will be penalties for “significant” record keeping failures. The aim is to improve the records keeping of SME’s to reduce tax losses from poor record keeping.

Company Cars - Advisory Fuel Rates

If you have the use of a company car, the chances are that you do not receives any fuel for private use as the separate tax charge is generally well in excess of the real benefit.

You probably therefore pay for all fuel in the company car and then claim reimbursement from your employer of the business use fuel. Published guidelines are issued by HMRC involving advisory fuel rates per business mile. They are reviewed every 6 months, but more frequently at HMRC’s consideration if fuel prices fluctuate by 5% from the current rate and that is likely to be sustained.

Changes to Paying Class 2 National Insurance Contributions

If you are self-employed you will find that from April 2011, payment of your Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) will be due on 31 January and 31 July. This of course is the same as for your income tax bill, and indeed for Class 4 NICs.

If you make payment by internet/telephone banking, CHAPS, Bank Giro, Post Office or post you will receive just two payment requests from HMRC in the year - instead of the current four bills.

Telephone Skills

Whether you are the CEO, the receptionist or a customer service representative, you will have to deal directly with customers, suppliers or even the press at some stage during your career. Having good telephone skills is essential to everyone who works in a modern business. It’s all about the basics

Setting your Targets for Success in 2011

The success of your business in 2011 may very well depend upon your ability to set and achieve small and large goals during the year. In order to be a true success you need to be able to do more than simply set goals. You must also be able to create goals that are achievable, actionable, inspiring, and that the people who work for and with you will be proud to adopt as their own. Setting realistic business goals may seem like another challenge but if you want to create and maintain a business that is destined for growth is it a necessary challenge nonetheless.

Plant and Machinery Used in a Dwelling-House

This is specifically debarred from entitlement to capital allowances, unless the property is within the furnished holiday lettings regime. A dwelling-house is not defined under tax legislation, and HMRC accepts that university halls of residence and similar facilities are not dwelling-houses for this purpose.

Another Planning Idea on Entrepeneurs' Relief

If you make a profit on a business asset which qualifies you for capital gains tax (CGT) entrepreneurs’ relief, you will only pay CGT at a rate of 10% subject to the new lifetime limit of £5 million of gains. If on the other hand the asset does not qualify you are likely to pay CGT at 28%. Some difference! Clearly any realistic planning moves which could ensure tax at 10% have got to be seriously considered. A number of ideas are now coming to the surface, one of which is explained here:

Pension Scheme Contributions

We’ve now been told exactly what the new rules are to be for contributions from 6 April 2011 – in place of the previously announced rules from the old government where in particular there were to be restrictions in the rate of tax relief available if your income exceeded £150,000. Simplicity is the name of the game here (that’s refreshing for a start), and tax relief will be available at your top tax rate subject to restrictions in what you can contribute as follows: