Sunil Bali tells me that award winning journalist and author Will Self said, “Whenever I produce my best work it’s always because I’ve spent time being idle. Something always emerges after nothing.”

Is that the same for you?
It’s interesting isn’t it?

Research by Professor William Duggan at the Columbia Business School shows that the human mind has an amazing self-correcting mechanism. Read about it in his book: Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement. You can order a copy at Amazon from here.

When we relax, de-clutter our mind and let it wander, flashes of insight, sparks of creativity and clarity of thought emerge. That’s why we get our best ideas and inspiration when we’re out for a walk, in the shower or driving and not working flat out at two hundred miles an hour in the office.

There are some sensible lessons here for all of us.
Unfortunately, some people will always be too busy doing it, doing it, doing it, to realise what they’ve missed.

FREE calculator for your website

From Bizezia and One Smart Place: on 3 December 2014, The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement announced new stamp duty rates from 4 December 2014 payable by the purchaser of residential property.

The new rates, based on tranches of the property purchase price, are:
Up to £125,000: 0%
Next £125,001 to £250,000: 2%
Next £250,001 to £925,000: 5%
Next £925,001 to £1.5m: 10%
Above £1.5m: 12%

Thanks to Bizezia, Accountants, Lawyers and Estate Agents can now provide a FREE stamp duty calculator to their clients by visiting the link below.
Details at: or email me at:

Don’t confuse this calculator with the one that you can see and use on the HMRC website. The above calculator enables you to insert your firm’s name and web address so that when it sits on your website, it’s a handy tool from your firm. Needless to say, the HMRC calculator is not available to sit on your website at all.

Marketing and Business Promotion

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

Bitcoin: The Good, the Bad and the Future.

Bitcoin is mentioned day-in-day-out but many people still don’t know what it is or how it can be used. As a relatively new and emerging alternative to credit cards and cash, Bitcoin remains largely unknown to many business owners – even though it’s a freely available, viable option for taking payments and paying suppliers.

Bitcoin is a decentralised virtual currency, meaning it does not exist in the physical world, nor does it have a central bank such as the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England. There is also a finite number of bitcoins in the world, with a limit of 21 million bitcoins set to be reached by 2014, according to Metro Bank, here., here, say that “Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system”.

Reizel Sales, one of our many Round-up readers, works closely with the Findmyshift content team, and they recently compiled data surrounding the Bitcoin trend, and how it impacts business owners and ecommerce.
They put the data in the visual at:

Doctor Who helps teach children coding has announced that the BBC’s new Doctor Who computer game will teach local children more about coding at D5, the London conference for leading digital governments. International D5 delegates will also share experiences and discuss the best way to teach code in primary schools.

Coding is when you give a sequence of instructions to a computer so you can make it do what you want to do. Children as young as 5 are able to grasp coding concepts. Learning to code strengthens their problem solving and logical thinking skills.

More and more jobs now rely on computing and coding, but conversely fewer people have the skills to fill them. D5 delegates will talk about how to avoid a global coding crisis by educating the next generation of coders. At D5, the BBC-led coding session will use a new Doctor Who game called ‘The Doctor and the Dalek’ to help 11-year olds from Netley Primary School, Camden, London, understand more about coding. The game sees the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, take on dangerous quests against his enemies. Anyone can play it for free on the CBBC website.

Play The Doctor and the Dalek.

The BBC has published a range of resources for students and teachers on BBC Bitesize to coincide with the new computing curriculum in England.  The resources include computer programming study guides, quizzes, games and videos. These Bitesize resources and The Doctor and the Dalek game support a range of other material, including 3 children’s TV shows, released as part of the BBC’s wider Make it Digital initiative, with more to come in 2015.

In England, there are around 900 volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for 9 to 11-year-olds.
Find out more about Code Club.

“Cryptography For Dummies – eBook (usually $22.99) FREE for a limited time!”

It’s FREE so you’ve nothing to lose… Learn everything from the terminology used in the field to specific technologies to the pros and cons of different implementations.

  • Cryptography is the most effective way to achieve data security and is essential to e-commerce activities such as online shopping, stock trading, and banking
  • Discusses specific technologies that incorporate cryptography in their design, such as authentication methods, wireless encryption, e-commerce, and smart cards
  • Based entirely on real-world issues and situations, the material provides instructions for already available technologies that readers can put to work immediately
  • Expert author Chey Cobb is retired from the NRO, where she held a Top Secret security clearance, instructed employees of the CIA and NSA on computer security and helped develop the computer security policies used by all U.S. intelligence agencies

Offered Free by Wiley from:

Match Customers with the Products They’re Searching For

This comes from Magento. To realise the convenience benefit of shopping online, customers need to find what they’re looking for, and to find it quickly.

This FREE eBook provides:

  • EXAMPLES FROM MERCHANTS: A treasure chest of valuable customer insights around site search
  • OPTIMIZE CONVERSION: Three recommendations for increasing conversion through site search

Many merchants’ site search tools don’t fulfill the promise of delivering meaningful results. Learn how to use your website’s site search data to better understand your customers, their needs and their intent, and how to properly leverage site search to help customers find what they’re searching for.
Download from:

Beyond the Basics: Strategic Marketing for CPA Firms

Great stuff here for accountants and also for lawyers.

When it comes to marketing for businesses, most people can agree upon the following five steps:

  • Set your budget
  • Prioritise initiatives
  • Set expectations and goals
  • Periodically assess marketing performance against goals
  • Revise budget, initiatives and goals as necessary

While this covers the basics, this lather-rinse-repeat marketing routine completely misses the mark when it comes to strategic marketing. Budgets and goals are how you implement a marketing strategy; they are not the strategy itself. Developing an effective marketing strategy means clearly understanding and then communicating what makes your practice different from others.

For example, a marketing strategy must address how to get past the label of being “just another CPA” – known for price-based commodities like tax returns and audit services – by focusing on branding and how your firm stands out from competitors. A marketing budget or an outline of performance expectations for your marketing program might be helpful to you, but it won’t tell your target audience what makes your firm stand out from all of the others out there.

This is a great article for any accounting firm interested in strategic marketing – either for themselves or their clients.
Read more:

The Steve Jobs guide to getting what you want

Spotted in Times of India:  Steve Jobs didn’t launch two of the most valuable companies in modern times by following the rules all the time. He had a unique way of crafting his own reality, a “distortion field” that could persuade people that his personal beliefs were actually facts, which is how he pushed his companies forward. And he also used a blend of manipulative tactics to ensure his victories.

Many consider Jobs to have been a genius, but there’s no reason why we can’t all learn a thing or two from his tactics. The full article expands on all these points:
1. Earn everyone’s respect
2. Pitch with passion
3. Disarm people with seduction and flattery
4. Claim all the good ideas are yours
5. Make decisions quickly and definitively
6. Build a strong following by using brutal honesty
7. Don’t wait to fix problems
8. Either address problems head on…
9. …Or ignore the problems entirely
10. Strike when the iron’s hot, and strike hard
11. Use leverage when you have it
12. Demand perfection
Read more in the full article:

2015 Social Marketing Planning Guide

In Simply Measured, they say that 2015 is going to be a great year for social marketers, but to make the most of it you’ll need a fine-tuned social strategy.

This FREE guide is your countdown to the New Year with ten fresh tactics based on the 2014 trends we expect to shape the coming year, and ways you can refine your brand’s social strategy for success.

Download this FREE guide to learn:

  • What changed in social marketing in 2014
  • How you can expect social to change in 2015
  • Ways for you to take advantage of the latest social media trends

…and much more. Click the link below to download the guide!

LinkedIn leads the pack for social SMEs: How your firm can get on board

From Australia, in, By Eloise Keating: Public relations specialist and social media expert Catriona Pollard receives at least one email a week about a new business opportunity as a direct result of her LinkedIn profile. It may be from someone Pollard has never met but who has found out about her PR agency through LinkedIn, or in some cases, from someone who Pollard has been connected with for some time but now needs her expertise for a particular project. Whatever the purpose, it’s clear Pollard would not be receiving the emails without LinkedIn.

Pollard is one of a growing number of entrepreneurs and small business owners recognising the value of LinkedIn, a professional networking platform used by 350 million people worldwide.

In the fifth SmartCompany and Crowe Horwath SME Directions Survey, LinkedIn was voted the most effective social channel by more than 430 business owners and managers.

While word-of-mouth still dominates when it comes to marketing for the SMEs who participated in the survey, 41% nominated LinkedIn as the most effective of the social networks by far.

Pollard says LinkedIn is also particularly useful in the B2B space, as the platform makes your professional contacts “more visible”.
Read more:

Technical Stuff

UK: Leave and Pay for Mothers – Know Your Rights booklet

FREE booklet from TUC: Pregnant women are protected from harm in the workplace and have the right not to be dismissed or unfavourably treated because of their pregnancy. Most employed mothers are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and 39 weeks’ Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. Mothers with children born on or after 5 April 2015 may also be able to convert some of their maternity leave and pay into Shared Parental Leave and Pay which they or their partner can take on a more flexible basis in the first year of their child’s life.
Details at:

Leave and Pay for Fathers and Partners – Know Your Rights booklet

Another FREE booklet from TUC:  If you are an expectant father or the partner of someone due to give birth or adopt a child, you could be entitled to time off to attend ante-natal appointments plus up to two weeks’ paid paternity leave. You may also be able to take more time off in the first year as Shared Parental Leave and be entitled to some Shared Parental Pay.

Other rights that may help you combine paid work with looking after your child include unpaid parental leave, the right to request flexible working and emergency time off for dependents.
Details at:

Crisis of SME Lending and how to circumvent it

In Business Matters, despite a growing economy, SMEs can still find it difficult to fund their expansion plans. Freddie Bellhouse, director of call handing agency MessageBase, looks at the different options available for business owners.

Many small businesses are struggling to raise much-needed funds to expand. This is nothing new. Since credit tightening at the onset of the recession businesses of all sizes have struggled to raise debt to varying degrees. However in a period of low interest rates and a growing economy, why is this still the case?

Whilst the vast majority of lending comes from traditional sources such as high street banks who have traditionally required assets as security (something most small businesses simply don’t have) or otherwise require substantial turnovers for cash flow lending, new lenders do offer some considerable hope to small businesses. In short, they can be separated out as follows:

  • Crowdfunding
  • The Venture Lender
  • The Gordon Gekko Solution
  • The Establishment Lender
  • Giving up a Slice of the Pie

Read the full article for details on the above:

Martin Pollins
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