Thursday, May 17, 2012

Your Five-day Twitter Action Plan

More and more businesses are turning to social media, and in particular, to Twitter. 

Firms of all sizes are finding the micro-blogging site to be an effective way to promote themselves, to network online, and increasingly, to talk with customers.

The Twitter Action Plan was developed to help the novice Twitter user find their way around this simple, yet powerful, method of communication.

Author, Andrew Knowles, who set up this blog, wrote the Twitter Action Plan in response to continually being told 'I don't get Twitter'. The simplicity of the social networking system put some people off using Twitter, because it took time to become comfortable that they were using it effectively.

The Twitter Action Plan takes the reader on a step-by-step journey through the most important aspects of the system, building their confidence. Over the five days, they are equipped with the knowledge needed to become a competent tweeter.

The book also contains hints and tips, based on Andrew's experience of managing his own and client Twitter accounts.

Your Five-day Twitter Action Plan is available for Kindle, which also runs on Android devices, iPads, iPhones, Macs, Windows PCs and Blackberries.

You can download a free Kindle reader for your preferred device from Amazon.

For UK purchasers: Your Five-day Twitter Action Plan

For US purchasers: Your Five-day Twitter Action Plan

Priced at less than a cup of coffee, the book represents several hours of training and support.

Andrew is keen to receive feedback about the book in order to improve on it in further additions. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrew_writer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Work Wise Week 2012 is here

It's Work Wise Week, 13th-19th May.

Run for the seventh year in a row, the week is intended to highlight efficient, flexible working practices which break the 9 to 5 mould.

Smarter working, as it's called, benefits employers, employees and the economy as a whole. It embraces ideas such as working from home, virtual meetings, flexible hours to allow commuting outside the rush hour, and the mobile office.

The Work Wise Week is run by Work Wise UK, a not-for-profit organisation partnered with bodies such as the TUC, British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI.

The week leads up to National Work from Home Day, on Friday 18th May. Employees and owners of businesses large and small are increasingly working from home, because electronic communication allows them to do so.

To find out more about smarter working, why not visit the Work Wise website?  You might be inspired to try out some new ideas in your own business, and it could boost productivity and profitability.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dorset economy boosted by Cultural Olympiad

Maritime Mix – London 2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea is now in full swing.

Its ambitious programme, packed full of creative events for everyone, celebrates Dorset’s status as host to the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic sailing events.

Creativity will resonate throughout the county this summer Circus performers and aerial artists will swarm Weymouth beach to deliver the ambitious three day outdoor event Battle for the Winds (26th-28th July).

Kurt Perschke’s 15ft inflatable RedBall UK (21–24 June) will pop up in four locations. Sue Austin will perform in her underwater self-propelled wheelchair in a sub-aqua theatre for Creating the Spectacle (29th August – 1st September).

300 instruments will be installed atop Portland by Pierre Sauvageot to create wind powered sound symphony, Harmonic Fields as part of Inside Out Dorset. Telepathic drawing lessons will take place in pubs and bars as part of b-side multi-media festival and Weymouth Brass will play Hywel Davies new composition during the town bridge’s daily lifts.

Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland will float for nine days off Bowleaze Cove and 1,000 community voices from Coastal Voices will herald the opening celebrations on Weymouth beach on 27 July.

Jubilation and festivities are not the only benefits of Dorset’s largest creative celebration, it will also deliver a positive impact to the local economy, creating 54 full times jobs for the county.

Mike Hoskin, Arts Development Manager for Dorset said: "The contribution which culture makes to the economic health of the well documented with the creative industries generating nearly 1.3 billion pounds of activity in the national economy." (Department of Culture, Media and Sport figures - Dec 2011)

The Maritime Mix programme will similarly have a significant effect on the local economy in Dorset, generating nearly 4.9 million pounds of economic benefit to the county. (Dorset County Council figures April 2012).

Research also tells us that there will be a measurable boost in local employment with 54 full time equivalent jobs created as a result of the programme and the potential for five new businesses to be created. This is a significant achievement in the current economic climate.

This will be the largest creative event to take place across Dorset and has only been possible with investment and support from Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and local authorities including; Dorset County Council, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council and local tourism partnerships.

For a full programme of Maritime Mix events visit

Monday, May 14, 2012

Would your business profit from better writing?

Words sell products. Your website, your adverts in print and online, your social media channels and your press releases are all opportunities for words to promote your business.

'Words that sell' is a one-day event, in Bournemouth, aimed at helping organisations use the written word more effectively. It brings together some of the UK's leading business copywriters including Philip Khan-Panni, Andy Maslen, Sarah McCartney and Carol Bentley.

They, along with other speakers, will be tackling subjects such as the theory of good communication, 'tone of voice', and writing for social media. You'll also hear stories of what's succeeded, and what hasn't, from writers who've worked with some of the UK's leading brands.

The 'Words that sell' event is aimed at anyone who wants to use the written word more effectively to promote their organisation or products, including business owners, marketers and existing or aspiring writers.

'Words that sell' is on Friday 18th May at the Bournemouth University Business School. It has been organised by the UK Speechwriters' Guild and local writing business, A Thousand Monkeys.

For more information, or to make a booking, visit the 'Words that sell' website. Use the code 'write' for a £25 discount.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New IR35 guidance from HMRC for freelance contractors

A guest post by Acconomy Chartered Certifed Accountants

After months of consultations with industry experts, HMRC has issued detailed guidance to help freelancers with personal service companies to evaluate how likely it is they will be investigated for IR35 compliance.

In a 47-page document, they set out business entity tests to help you assess the risk of investigation, along with the level of evidence required for each test. There are also six detailed examples of freelance contracting scenarios, and explanations of how HMRC would assess these for IR35.

There have been no changes to the IR35 legislation. The new guidance is intended to help explain how HMRC decides who to investigate, and the information they are looking for to make a decision. However, HMRC has also created new specialist units around the UK to focus on IR35, and there is an expectation that the number of investigations will rise.

The business entity tests for IR35

At the heart of HMRC’s guidance are 12 tests which determine whether your company is at low, medium or high risk of investigation.

Each test has a point score associated with it and your overall risk is determined by your cumulative total.  Score under 10 points and the risk is high; score over 20 and it’s low.

In summary, these tests are:

Premises - Does your company rent its own offices? 10 points if yes.

PII - Do you need professional indemnity insurance? 2 points if yes.

Efficiency - Could your business boost income through efficiency? 10 points if yes.

Assistance - Is at least 25% of the firm’s income through workers you engage? 35 points if yes.

Advertising - Have you spent over £1,200 in the last year (excluding entertainment)? 2 points if yes.

PAYE - Were you previously paid under PAYE by your client? Minus 15 points if yes.

Business plan - Do you have one, and a business bank account? 1 point if yes to both.

Repair - Do you have to pay to put right your mistakes? 4 points if yes.

Risk - Have you had to chase debtors or write-off unpaid bills? 10 points if yes.

Billing - Do you invoice before being paid and negotiate payment terms? 2 points if yes.

Substitute - Could your business send in someone other than you? 2 points if yes.

Actual substitute - In the last 2 years, have you hired someone to take your place? 20 points if yes.

Initial response to these tests has been negative, with many observing that most contractors using their own personal service companies would appear to be high risk.

The key points

  • There are no changes to the IR35 rules. What HMRC has done is issue more guidance about the interpretation of the rules.
  • HMRC has created new teams to focus on IR35, and the level of investigations will rise.
  • It is important to assess each contract separately for IR35.
  • A wide range of commentators has criticised the new guidance as being unhelpful, saying that HMRC has missed an opportunity to improve clarity and fairness around IR35.
Take advice if you are concerned

If you’re a freelancer working through your own limited company, the new guidance from HMRC, combined with the news of a rise in investigations, should not give you sleepless nights. But it does appear to increase the chances of an investigation, with all the inconvenience and uncertainty that comes with it.

It is important to remember that every engagement you undertake should be separately assessed for whether it falls inside IR35.

If you have worries about the increased risk of an investigation, or would like to understand the potential financial impacts based on your personal situation, please get in touch.

As one of the first members of the Professional Contractors Group (PCG), Acconomy are committed to helping freelancers overcome the threats to their prosperity. If you have any questions, we would be happy to hear from you.

Acconomy Chartered Certified Accountants are specialists in IR35 for freelance contractors.