Setting Up Your First Company – Business Services, Consulting, Etc

Setting up and running your own business can be a fantastically rewarding challenge. This article provides ideas and suggestion to entrepreneurs who are, or are thinking of, setting up their own company.

Setting yourself up:

* Consider how you can best access the wide range of expert advice without unaffordable expense. Use free resources available on websites run by the government and professional bodies

* Join a few business forums in order to find people who can help and also to get recommendations for advisers, companies etc. Use the forum well – search for past threads and take some time to learn from the information already there

* Use a formation company that can help you with the basics to ensure that you are compliant. Check out a few and find one that offers you good support at a reasonable price. Costs vary quite widely

* Find a good accountant. If possible via recommendation. Most accountants will give you a free introductory session. Make good use of this, prepare your questions in advance and also use this to decide if this is someone you can work with

* Decide about location; the need for offices, systems, infrastructure, staff. Initially try to do as much of this as possible on a service basis rather than through hiring staff

* Consider your brand. This may seem daunting but need not be too costly and is something that is hard to change later

* Consider your IT needs; what sort of web presence do you want, how will your supplier and customer management systems work etc

* Try to plan all your first year expenses up front so that you can prioritise and make good choices

Your business plan and finances:

* Be realistic. Put together a Profit and Loss forecast, run a worst case scenario – about 20% of your first estimate of sales. You can do an upside one as well for fun but make sure you can survive on the worst case at least for a substantial period of time

* Look at your cash flow. Even a successful business can struggle with cash flow issues, and this becomes particularly critical if you are in the temp or employment agency market where your contractees will need paying every week and your clients will take a lot longer to pay. Plan on the industry average of around 50 debtor days or more

* Get insured. Consider buying necessary insurance that you can pay for monthly. Yes, it’s a little more expensive than paying up front but it helps you preserve your cash position

* Be prudent. Check out the credit rating of your clients

* Get your terms sorted. Absolutely clarity up front on invoice terms will save you effort and angst later on. Include late payment processes and incorporate these

* Consider how you can best build your portfolio – can you do some low cost or free work for either a charity or an organisation that will given you a valuable endorsement. If you do some early lost leader work, ensure it is positioned as such and avoid the low cost trap as far as possible

* Focus on gaining testimonials at the end of each job/project/contract

* Consider how you can get referrals, can you offer a referral scheme?

Your Customers:

* Take a bit of time to consider what it is that you will be offering your customer and what might make you their supplier or business partner of choice

* Set your pricing parameters up front and take care not to compromise on these in an early bid to do business since you will find it hard to recoup them later – unless you build this into a longer term contract

* What service guarantees do you propose to give your customers?

* If you are negotiating a long term preferred supplier arrangement consider using a procurement professional

Business and Industry in Edinburgh

As the historic capital of Scotland, it should come as little surprise that Edinburgh is also the centre of financial business in that country. The strength and rate of growth of finances in Edinburgh means that it has the second strongest economy in the whole of the UK, outside of London. With the devolved Scottish government sitting in the city there are also plenty of legal firms and other public sector bodies with their main offices located here. eg. NHS Scotland and BBC Scotland. That said, Edinburgh also has major industrial businesses which contribute to the wealth of both the city and Scotland as a country.

At their Crewe Toll factory, BAe Systems employs over 1000 people in the manufacture of defence systems such as: radar, optical imaging, surveillance and tracking systems; for land sea and air services. This ‘hi-tech’ work includes the laser guidance system for the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint-Strike-Fighter and the CAPTOR radar system for the Eurofighter, in which BAe already has a stake. The presence of a major electronics company like BAe has, of course, encouraged smaller electronics companies to locate and expand in the area. ST Electronics is an example of such a company. Employing 100 people at its Pinkhill Research and Development centre, they work in the design of image sensing and processing equipment. Working in Edinburgh on mechanical and electrical contracts is Balfour Kilpatrick, at their Fairways Business Park base. Mostly concerned with high and low voltage power supply systems in Scotland; the company also works in heating and ventilation systems as well as other buildings services such as security and fire management. Pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca have a research and development centre in the city at the Beaverbank Office Park. Whilst fewer than 100 people are employed here it is a typical example of the new ‘hi-tech’ ICT, bio-Technology and Media companies that are establishing offices and bases in the city. Edinburgh is also has the head offices for Scottish Gas, Water and Power (Electricity). Between them the three utilities companies employ in excess of three thousand people in the city.

The leading finance company in Edinburgh has to be the Halifax Bank of Scotland with its head office on The Mound in the city centre. Originally established as the Bank of Scotland in 1695 it is the oldest clearing bank in the country. HBOS employs over 25,000 people world-wide and almost 1000 of those at its Edinburgh head office. Despite the merger of the Bank of Scotland with the Halifax in 2001, they both operate as subsidiary companies. Founded by a royal charter in 1727 is the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is also headquartered in the city. As well as having ‘Direct line’ as one of its subsidiary companies the RBS is also now the owner of Coutts & Co.; one of the most prestigious and historic private banks in the UK. With such major financial institutions to be located in the city – numerous other finance and finance related companies are also to be found. One such company is ‘Gerrard Investment Management’, which is now part of the Barclay Banking Group. Although it is only a small company, employing about 50 people, it has worked in Edinburgh for over 200 years providing investment management and advice to both individuals and companies.

Whilst Edinburgh is undoubtedly moving forwards you can still see traditional crafts being pursued and practised in the city. At the Old Town Weaving Company, on Castlehill off the Royal Mile, you can see traditional tartan cloth being woven. As a visitor to Scotland you’ll quickly see that there are plenty of retail outlets for tartans and Scottish kilts in particular. Another traditional craft that has been exercised in the city for over 400 years is glass-making. The Venetians brought their trade secrets to the city in the 1600s and ever since then the city has developed a reputation for its fine glass-ware. Probably best known at present is Edinburgh Crystal, which was established in 1867 and now also owns the Caithness Glass and Selkirk Glass brands.

As the capital city of Scotland Edinburgh is a popular tourist destination. As such, in 2005, 23% of all tourism expenditure in Scotland was spent in Edinburgh – a significant contribution to the economy of the city. A significant factor in this is, of course, the annual Edinburgh International Festival. Begun in 1947 to inspire and promote the ‘human spirit’, it is an exposition of all that is good and great in the arts. So successful was it at fostering the human spirit that it rapidly spawned what was to become known as the ‘Edinburgh Fringe’ – where people organise their own and alternative events. Determining the total number of visitors to the city is not impossible, nor is it even possible to establish how many of those visitors were their solely for the International Festival. However, the Military Tattoo, just one of the many events that make up the festival, attracts nearly 220,000 spectators annually. Tourism in Edinburgh is indeed big business!

The Economy and the Automotive Service Industry

The past couple years have not been kind to the automotive business. Dealerships and independent repair facilities have all taken a huge financial hit, many unable to recover from the deep recession. The economy has changed the way shops hire, train, and use their personnel. Most repair facilities have had to lessen their payroll to meet their budget. While no shop is trying to purposely mess-up your cars repair, it is a chance that increases with less qualified personnel.

Automotive Technicians have different categories they are known by at most shops you have “A, B, C, and D” Level Technicians. An “A” Level Technician will be the highest level, highest paid, many are Master Techs, and are ASE Certified. This is the level of technician that is essential to any shop because of there knowledge, and experience. He is the guy that keeps an eye over your younger techs and shows them what not to do.

Because, of the implosion of the economy, there has been a huge amount of “A” and Master Technician layoffs at many shops. Many of these shops have replaced these higher qualified technicians with younger, lesser-qualified techs with far less experience. If, all the experience leaves the shop then who looks over the shoulder of the “D” Tech?

Exactly, just be careful of the shops you take your vehicle. The shop you used to know, many not be the same shop you think you used to know. You can do your research, or you can learn to fix it yourself. It is not as hard as you think when you have the proper information.

UPS – The Founding of UPS, How It Works and Competes in the Delivery Service Industry

UPS was started is a tiny basement office more than a century back, in 1907, by two teenagers, Jim Casey and Claude Ryan. They helped deliver packages on their two bicycles and had one motto – “best service and lowest rates,” a formula that helped UPS’ success for more than 90 years.

UPS is one of the three leading international delivery companies in the world today, its main competitors are DHL and Fedex. It delivers more than 13 million parcels across USA and to 200 other countries. The one thing that has helped UPS rise up in the face of stiff competition is its over $1 billion dollar investment in the latest and the best advanced information technology, along with its serious efforts in keeping its costs down.

Just like every other international delivery company, UPS too has a fleet of transport vehicles and aircraft, and it owns the latest packing and forwarding equipment. It is also well-networked with committed and loyal service providers.

What really sets UPS apart are its no-nonsense, serious brand building messages and advanced technology. Today, a UPS vehicle driver can use a DIAD (Delivery Information Acquisition Device) to capture a customer’s signature on pick-up and relay the information in real-time by placing the DIAD in an information-disseminator device that is equipped in the pickup/delivery truck. This information gets relayed to UPS’ office and from there on get uploaded on the web. UPS’ customers can then track the delivery of their shipment in real-time.

UPS has also invested in an advanced automated package tracking system that helps monitor packages at every stage of the delivery process. This system involves scanning of the bar code on the consignment. Data is uploaded on a central server in real time and it helps the company figure out the status of the package, and respond to customer queries. This information is also uploaded on UPS’ website and its customers are kept informed of every stage in the delivery process.

The UPS website makes it easy for customers to determine transit time, arrange shipments, bill shipments to their online account with UPS, or pay by credit card. UPS also provides its customers with many tools, which they can build into their own website and use these to make various calculations without having to visit the UPS site.

UPS’ UPS Supply Chain Solutions division provides a package of services to subscribers at a very low rate. These services include supply chain design, freight handling, finance, customs, transport and more. Companies can save a ton of money by subscribing to such packages because it helps them save on creating their own freight department.

It is the advanced technology that makes UPS stand apart from its competitors. Plus, it has a clean, no-nonsense, serious image which it plays up in its advertisements. It believes that transportation of goods and supply chain logistics are serious business and that is why it has strived to maintain such an image, much to the delight of many of its customers who are looking for a straight and no-nonsense logistics partner. UPS is the oldest of all the international delivery companies, and the youngest and the best when it comes to high technology supply chain logistics.