Category Archives: Made Simple Group News

Snow Joke

January has not been kind to the London commuter. Journeys to and from work have mutated from the tiresome to the ridiculous. Wet socks and red noses now come as standard as we undertake epic campaigns that Ranulph Fiennes would recoil from. Yes, yes all this snow was awfully Christmassy in December when the sound of boot meeting snow was savoured, but now we’d rather walk on the road and brave the onslaught of cars than tackle the ice.

We used to sigh at the sight of 4 minutes on the District Line, now we’re lucky if it says 14 minutes (not that you’ll get on it anyway). Trains decide to linger at stations so to “even out the service” while everyone on the train knows this is to “give the illusion of a decent service”. Planes stop, trains we’ve covered and automobiles slip and slide all over the place because we’ve run out of salt (the nation’s obsession with fish & chips was bound to catch up with us).

It’s hardly surprising so many of us fail to get from home to work and another massive portion simply don’t even bother to try. It’s no contest; sit at home in the warm as newsreaders scream about the oncoming snow apocalypse or venture out and endure a journey six times longer than normal?

Stating that everything comes to a standstill when snow strikes is a cliché but there’s little else we can do. Estimates suggest disruptions caused by the weather over the last week may cost the economy billions. Not exactly ideal timing considering you know what. Isn’t it time that we learnt from our European and American friends and learnt to carry on despite the weather? Perhaps this is the perfect time to invest in a virtual office service. Mail Forwarding and Telephone Answering services are available where you can give the pretence of having trudged into work when in fact you are working from home. Business as usual!

London Rail Chaos!

London was warned to prepare itself for two days of travel chaos yesterday as a RMT and Aslef unions announce further strike action.

The city was brought to a virtual standstill last month as strike action was carried out and yesterday some commuters were warned to expect more of the same tomorrow and on six more consecutive days throughout the next month.

The strike will affect all trains run out of Liverpool Street Station by National Express and East Anglia and is a consequence of union’s unwillingness to accept salary increases offered.

It is thought that almost 300,000 commuters will be affected and more will have to deal with the overspill overcrowding their services.

Efforts by both sides to reach an agreement failed and talks broke down at the start of this week. Both companies warn that all services run by the National Express and East Anglia will be disrupted.

Three London Ladies Nominated for Mercury Prize

The nominees for the Mercury Prize -an awards ceremony synonymous with prestige and coolness – have been announced today. Among the delighted nominees were three female Londoners; Florence Welch, Elly Jackson and Debelle .

Beyond the £20,000 prize it is also thought that the Mercury Prize often leads to notoriety and a massive increase in album sales. This was the case for Manchester band Elbow, though the same cannot be said for 1997 Roni Size, who, after receiving the award, vanished into virtual career oblivion.

The prize is notorious for awarding the outside chance instead of the artist who is widely though of as the favourite. So this year’s firmly established favourite Kasabian, the four piece indie band, whose sound resonates notes of Manchester bands Oasis and The Stone Roses, better watch out.

Hosted by industry patriarch, Jools Holland, the winners will be announced at a lavish awards ceremony on 8th of September and will be televised live on BBC 2.

Mercury 2009 shortlist
The Invisible – The Invisible
Led Bib – Sensible Shoes
Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Men
Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
The Horrors – Primary Colours
Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires
Glasvegas – Glasvegas
La Roux – La Roux
Florence And The Machine – Lungs
Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew

Spending in the Sunshine!

You can’t switch on the T.V or open a newspaper, without being faced with the doom and gloom of recession; unemployment is at an all time high, house prices are falling and the word ‘depression’ keeps jumping off the page. However, recent reports revealing that retail sales increased by nearly 5% in June, indicates that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The retail sector has been badly effected by redundancy, job insecurity and rising unemployment, as shoppers cut back spending on ‘non essential’ items. The slump in sales led to many large corporations – including the British institution of Woolworths – closing their doors for the final time. So why the increase?

According to the London Retail Consortium, the increase was in part the result of June’s heat wave. As more Londoners were out on the street, all important footfall increased, so more buyers were actually in the shops looking for that all important summer wardrobe.

In the light of increased retail spending, it would very interesting to have a look at June’s sales figures of Pubs and restaurants across the capital!

From Second to First Life: the virtual office wins

Second Life is a virtual world developed by Linden Lab that launched on June 23, 2003 and is accessible via the Internet. A free client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called Residents, to interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another, or travel throughout the world, which residents refer to as the grid” (Wikipedia definition)

Why do I tell you this? Because some people are still scared by the word virtual, but virtual does not mean unreliable, it only refers to another level of perception. And second life and real life are not so far apart , they are deeply linked by the coin: in the virtual world you use real money! Second Life is infact a huge new potential marketplace with its 1.2 million “residents” who spend $500,000 every day, real money! Many of us already use the Internet, which is a virtual world of its own, as a place of business. Perhaps virtual worlds like Second life are the next step.

Second Life is not the only place where you can have a virtual office for a real business. In London you can have one too. In this way you can reduce costs, reach more clients and work comfortably from your own home. You can do everything online: create your account, add to your services, receive your messages, all in just a few clicks!

A virtual office? 5 reasons why

5 good reasons to set up a virtual office.

1- No rental costs

You don’t need to have dedicated office space. Work from home or on the train in between meetings. Get moving and get your business off the ground while a receptionist fields your calls at your virtual office.

2- No Start-up costs

You don’t have to worry about office supplies; computers, desks, printers etc. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the business and don’t worry on whether or not all these purchases are a wise investment.

3- Staff benefits? What benefits?

You don’t have to worry about full-time or part-time benefits, sick leave, health insurance or holidays. These are all just unnecessary complications. Starting up you need to concentrate on making cash, not on your staff’s work-escapism.

4- Flexibility

There is a wealth of options, packages, and offers to chose from. You can find the service that best suits your needs, whether they include 24 hour telephone answering, or meeting rooms in central London.

5- Professionalism

Give your potential clients the right impression with a prestigious office address and receptionists who answer every call in a timely manner and in your company name. No one wants to hear you are actually just working out of your shed.

Special Offer: only £10 a month to have an office in London

Only 4 days to the end of our special offer that provides you with a virtual office in London for only £10 a month!
For only £10 a month you can have:

– Mail forwarding services

(A central London address you can use as a general mailing address)

– Fax forwarding number

(A fax number for you to use, all faxes are automatically sent to your e-mail inbox, NO extra cost per fax!)

Why do you need to sign?

* Save £s on our mail forwarding services
* NO Setup fees!
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using a virtual office address and our mail forwarding services.
* Impress your clients with a prestigious central London address.
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Bonus rates fall again for employee share schemes

The Treasury has announced another reduction in the bonus rates for the Save As You Earn (SAYE) sharesave scheme.

The scheme was set up to encourage more employees to own shares in their companies. Employers pay a proportion of an employee’s monthly earnings into a bank or building society for a period of 3, 5 or 7 years.

At the end of the period, the employee can take their savings and a tax-free bonus or they can use the cash to buy shares in their employers’ company, usually at a discount of 20 per cent below the share price as it stood at the start of the period. The Treasury said that the latest move was intended to keep the rates in line with other interest rates.

For three-year contracts, the new bonus rate is 0.6 times instead of 1.5 times the value of an employee’s monthly payments. This represents a cut in the interest from 2.67 per cent to 1.08 per cent.

For five-year contracts, the new bonus rate is 2.6 times instead of 4.8 times the value of an employee’s monthly payments, reducing the interest from 3.04 per cent to 1.67 per cent.

In the case of seven-year contracts, the new bonus rate is 5.6 times rather than 9.3 times the value of an employee’s monthly payments, with the rate of interest coming down from 3.20 per cent to 1.98 per cent.

To be always updated on all news about rates & tax please see the westbury’s website!

Amazing numbers from Companies House in January

Even in these very difficult times people from all over the UK are forming new companies. The numbers are down, but still respectable as the figures below from Companies House clearly show for the month of January:

04/01/2009                                      1,672

11/01/2009                                      6,077

18/01/2009                                      6,660

25/01/2009                                      6,790

01/02/2009                                      6,302

Howard Graham explains in his blog: “Over 6,000 companies were formed in the UK last week alone, companies that represent the hopes and dreams of many people from all over the country who are possibly making a new start. measure and monitor the performance of our business and this is something I would encourage new businesses to do. Knowing the numbers is key to growing a business. As we make and implement decisions, it is only with this sort of data, that we can measure the extent to which they are successful.Of course , not every company is able to get such up to date data on market share, but there are plenty of numbers in a business that can be readily ascertained and measured over time and far too few businesses actually do this.”

£50 free Google voucher for you

Good news for all the people who are signing up for a mail forwarding or telephone answering virtual office package: they will receive £50 Google Adwords voucher!

Google Adwords are a simple solution to online advertising. It can help you target customers who are actually looking for your products and services online. – For some tips and information on Google Adwords, please visit our Google Zone on Business Made Simple. And remind that it’s a time limited offer and cannot be used in conjunction with any other special offer. Vouchers are sent out in batches once a day, so you may not receive your voucher until one working day after your account has been set up.

Do you want to learn more about Google Adwords? Click here to understand what they are and how to create and use them!