Monthly Archives: June 2016

Things I've Learned Over The Last 12 Months

Things I’ve Learned Over The Last 12 Months


You learn a lot in the space of a year. Some information sticks with you. Some is more fleeting but still important. Some is just funny. Here’s my quick run down of things I’ve learned in the last 12 months.


  • 1>0

  • Snapchat is emerging as the most exciting platform for businesses to do innovative marketing.
  • There is an enormous amount of creative expertise available to businesses on Fiverr
  • You can do a lot, if not all, of your own PR and marketing if you’re willing to put in the hours. Talk Is Cheap by Leanne Ross is a must read if you want to do this.
  • British politics is more akin to The Thick of It than anyone ever really imagined.

  • People don’t change.
  • You should learn to be yourself and not care what other people think. Most of the time, they don’t even notice what you’re doing. Even if they do, there are zero negative consequences to this.
  • If you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one.
  • Correlation does not equal causation.
Finding Efficiency Savings Is Just The First Step

Finding Efficiency Savings Is Just The First Step

I think the vast majority of business would agree that there are inefficiencies in their day to day operations. The scale of these inefficiencies varies depending on any number of variables including the size of the business, the number of staff, delegation of duties and numerous other factors. Trying to change how you operate to plug these gaps is certainly an effective way of increasing profitability. However, you should make sure the cuts don’t suffocate your ability to generate revenue. But the process of making efficiency savings involves one final step that many neglect.

1. Identifying Inefficiencies

The first step in the process involves identifying where you business is losing time and/or money where it shouldn’t be. Are there bottle-necks in certain departments? Are there subscriptions or services you signed up to years ago and no longer use but are still paying for? Have you surplus cash that would be better spent on capital projects rather than sitting in the bank?

Some inefficiencies will be blatantly obvious; other will be more subtle. It could simply be the case that within say the stock ordering process you have an extra step that serves no real purpose. Once an audit of time and cash resources is carried out, they need to be prioritised. My advice here is to go for the low hanging fruit – the biggest numbers on the P&L or the things that take the most time should offer plentiful scope for savings.

2. Removing Inefficiencies

You may find this the most difficult part of the process. Sometimes it may involve making really difficult decisions such as discontinuing a part of your business or letting staff go. The question needs to be, is it in the best interest of the business? Not just in the short term but over the next 3-30 years. Some savings may, on the other hand, be very easy to make. Some might even involve spending more money than you are now. Maybe one of your suppliers offers a price break for orders over a certain level so instead of ordering every week, you order in bulk once a month to get a better price. In one business I was involved in, I identified a potential saving of £14,000 per year by doing this.

You should also be remembered that time is as valuable, if not more valuable, than money. This is something I firmly believe in. For example, if you are suffering a nominal amount of breakage or shrinkage in stock every year and the solution is to add an extra process or check to try and combat this, it is only worth doing if the time dedicated to doing this is less than the expected saving. If you’re losing £50 a month on stock getting damaged, it is not worth having some one spend 5 hours a month policing this. You just have to suck it up.

3. Converting Savings

Very often once inefficiencies are identified and rectified, businesses think it is job done. Not the case. The time or money you saved now needs to be put to use. No point in freeing up 2 hours of a workers time per week without then deciding on the best way of reallocating this time. For all you know, if left to employee judgement, this time will then go back in to something that is just as inefficient as the time-suck you’re just after fixing.

The same goes with cash. If you find an extra £10,000 a year from inefficiencies and let it wallow in the bank earning <1% per annum, you may as well have not saved it. Find something with a better return to spend it on or use it to pay down financing with higher interest rates. If this step is done correctly, you’ll effectively get double savings – the initial saving plus the return on time and money being invested smartly.

5 Things To Know If You Work Cross-Border

5 Things To Know If You Work Cross-Border

Given the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as the relatively small size of the island, cross border working is a very common practice. In fact, Ireland has the highest level of in-bound (10.55%) and out-bound (7.44%) commuters in the EU, discounting Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Monaco due to their special status in the EU. It is estimated that around 23,000 people cross the Irish border for work. Whilst this practice is very common, there are a number of things you should be aware ofif you live and work on different sides of the border.

1. Where to pay your taxes

As a rule of thumb you must pay your tax where ever you earn your income. However, your ultimate responsibility is to the country in which you reside. Effectively this means declaring your cross border income to the tax authorities where you live (either HMRC or Revenue) via an annual tax return. The income is then taxed as if it were earned where you live. If the amount of tax you have paid in the country where you work is greater than it would have been in the country where you live, no further tax is payable. However, if the reverse is true, you are liable to pay the difference to the tax man where you reside.

2. USC counts as tax

If you work in the South, you may have noticed a charge on your payslip for Universal Social Charge (USC). This is effectively another tax on income for workers in the South, just with a fancy name. When it comes to declaring your Southern income to HMRC, you can include this in the amount of tax you have paid in the South, thus reducing the likelihood of having a balance of tax to pay.

3. Family Benefits

Depending on where you live and where each parent in a family works, your claim to family benefits may be through the North, the South or a mix of both. The means of determining this is quite complex. However, it is worth looking in to and exploring what your own personal circumstances mean in relation to this. Thankfully though, if you are eligible to claim benefits from more than one jurisdiction, you can claim it in the country which has the higher rate of that particular benefit. For more information on where you should be claiming, check out who have produced a briefing paper with a table outlining numerous examples.

4. State Pensions

EU states that you only have to pay Social Security contributions in one country at a time. Therefore, if you have a job on either side of the border, you are entitled to an exemption from PRSI/NIC in one of them. When it comes to retirement, you should claim your State Pension in the country in which you reside. All of your Social Security contribution across all EU countries can be combined to ensure you qualify to receive it.

5. Paternity Leave

In Northern Ireland and Great Britain, the male or female partners of a woman who has given birth can apply for 2 weeks Paternity Leave and may be entitled to claim Statutory Paternity Pay during this period. At present, Paternity Leave is not recoginised in law in the Republic of Ireland. However, from September 2016 father will be able to apply for up to two weeks paid leave at the same weekly rate paid for maternity leave (€230). It appears that this will only be available to fathers (as opposed to partners regardless of gender).

Further Information

As outlined, there are a number of key issues to consider when working cross border. The above is just a snapshot of a few of these. For more information, I highly recommend visiting and looking through their FAQ’s and A-Z to find out which issues apply to you and matter the most to your circumstances.