Keeping track of valuable assets

postitsMost businesses need labels at one stage or another. Whether they want to label their assets or keep track of stock or other equipment, sooner or later, they will be looking for a label printer.

My office was in this situation recently. When we started off a number of years ago, we employed a manual assets register, but as time went by, it became more and more difficult to keep track of computers, printers, desks, chairs and other office equipment. That’s when we decided to switch to a computerised asset tracking system. This meant that every item had to be labelled with a barcoded label.

There are many companies that offer label printing services, but we decided on self adhesive labels manufactured by DataLabel.co.uk.

What influenced our decision was their excellent customer service and the fact that they gave us the opportunity to work with their designers to create a custom-designed label that fits our needs perfectly. Their website is at Data-label.co.uk.

The company offers a wide selection of labels, including asset labels, security labels, barcode labels, asset tags and custom-designed labels. What I particularly liked was the fact that the labels could be printed on material such as vinyl, which is tamper-resistant. Should someone try to remove the label, the material will disintegrate or the word “void” will be left beneath the label that had been tampered with.

Of course, it was quite a time-consuming job to get everything computerised, but at least it’s a breeze to keep track of our assets now.

We find a solution to our document storage problems

storageEveryone who has an office will know how much paperwork it generates. I remember that when computers first started making their appearance some years ago, there was a lot of talk about the “paperless office”. Needless to say, that never became a reality. Today’s offices generate as much paperwork as their counterparts of thirty years ago, if not more.

The bad thing is that you can’t just throw away most business documents. You have to keep them for years and years because you never know when you will need them for some reason.

With today’s high office rental prices, storing all these documents becomes quite a problem. That’s why, after lengthy consideration, my office decided to store most of our documents at storage Tamworth.

What made us choose this company over all the others is that they have a collection service, which means they will pick up your documents anywhere in the country and deliver them to your storage space.

They also don’t charge for retrieval of documents, which is not the case with some storage companies out there. That means your documents are always available at no extra charge.

Of course, we inspected their premises before we signed up with them. What we saw was quite impressive: humidity- and temperature-controlled storage rooms, fire and smoke detectors, CCTV cameras and a monitored alarm system. These things might cost a little extra, but they are extremely important if you value the documents you want to store.

Last but not least, we liked their flexibility. You can upgrade or downgrade your storage space at any time and you only pay for what you need, when you need it.

High-speed rail powers ahead

As a businessperson who frequently travels the country, I am excited about the recently announced plans for an increase in high-speed rail services in Britain.  Whether on business or leisure, going by rail is a great way to get around the country.  I can bring my work onto the train with me and do it while in transit.  Alternatively, if I am taking a break away from work, I can relax on board with a drink and not have to worry about being breathalysed, as I would if I were driving.  I find rail travel to be more relaxing overall and, provided there aren’t any long, frustrating delays to my journey, I tend to arrive at my destination rather chilled out.

High-speed rail will increase the attraction of rail travel for many people and make it more convenient.  The news plan is for two branches going north out of Birmingham, a city I visit often.  The two branches would run to Leeds and Manchester.  Phase One of the high-speed rail project focuses on the route between London and Birmingham.  The plans have faced opposition, particularly from those who oppose them on the grounds that swathes of the countryside will be harmed.  But the government appears determined to proceed.  The trains running between London and Birmingham would be expected to travel at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.

I am going to have to wait sometime before seeing the benefits of high-speed rail.  Construction of the route between London and Birmingham is scheduled to commence around 2017.

Factoring

Working in the finance sector has made me realise all of the innovative ways there are of funding a business.  For me, one of the more interesting financing options available is factoring.  For anybody who doesn’t know, factoring is a type of invoice financing.  With invoice financing, businesses can get cash up front in exchange for paying over the receipts they subsequently receive in respect of a particular batch of invoices.  Typically, the amount of cash advanced to a business is between 80% and 90% of the invoice total.

With factoring, the agency appointed by the business not only gives the business in question an up-front cash injection, but it also deals with the customers in respect of invoice payment.  For a business that lacks the resources to operate a full-time accounts receivable department, having another organization to do all the chasing can be very useful indeed.  The professional set-up at an invoice finance agency, and the fact that it gets paid for the amount of money received, gives a business person peace of mind in knowing that no stone will be left unturned in securing payment.

Another key advantage of factoring is that the business accessing it does not have to have an established financial track record because invoice finance is based on the size of the business as it is.  For start-ups that are having difficulties in getting a traditional loan, invoice finance can be very useful in providing much-needed cash flow.

In the UK, factoring advice and services are readily available from Touch Financial.  A part of the SFP Group, Touch Financial is the largest independent finance broker in the country, tailoring finance solutions to suit the needs of individual clients.

You work in finance? Oh…

I’ve taken a lot of stick over the last few years because of my line of work. Conversations with people I haven’t met before usually follow this pattern:

Me: Hi, nice to meet you.

Other: Nice to meet you too. So, what do you do?

Me: I work in finance.

Other: Oh, right. Thanks for ruining the world and personally destroying the economy.

People now automatically associate the finance sector with evil. While in some ways I can understand it – obviously there were some severe problems in the banking sector – it seems a little harsh to victimise every single person who works with money. I’m no more responsible for the financial crisis than your local postman, but I still get tarred with the same brush.

The economic downturn has hit me as much as anyone else. Any pay increases I might have been looking forward to have been frozen, and everything from food to train travel is constantly rising in price. Being blamed for the whole thing is just the cherry on the top.

In truth, the bankers who did actually cause the problems got off pretty lightly. People just take aim at the easy targets.

It’s not blowing my own trumpet to say that I actually offer individuals and companies a lot of help in dealing with their financial problems in my line of work. I provide valuable advice and ways to access cash, which saves jobs and companies.

At no point was I recklessly gambling with other peoples’ money or anything like that. I occasionally play the markets outside of work, but it takes a lot of skill to be successful and I’m only risking my own money.

Anyway, as you may be able to tell, I’m getting a little sick of being associated with the toxic elements of the financial sector. It may be hard to believe, but some of us are actually nice and have morals!

Financial magickey

The papers are still endlessly obsessed with the financial state of the country.  How much is being lent, how much borrowed, who is borrowing, which companies have gone bust … it goes on and on and on and …

The truth is that there are lots of ways that finance and loans can be set up for businesses, far more than are available to the average individual.  One of the most interesting ways is through clever invoice discounting.  It’s basically regular payday lending for businesses, but without the extortionate interest rates.

If, for example, a company has sold a lot of goods or services (say, lemons, for the sake of explanation), but the greengrocers and fruit stall guys haven’t yet paid the invoices (because the terms are 60 days).  So now the company doesn’t have the lemons and it doesn’t have any money to buy more.  Say this happens on a monthly basis.  The company then sends information about its invoices in a sales day book to an invoice discounter, who fronts 90% of the invoice to the company, also on a monthly basis.

It’s like a short term, rolling loan, except that there isn’t as much liability because the security is the future payment of the invoices.  The customer (greengrocer et al) doesn’t know this is happening, because it’s a completely confidential service, and the company is responsible for all the sales ledger stuff, like chasing slow payers, collecting money and so on.

As the money for the invoices comes in, the company pays the discounter back, plus interest, plus a monthly fee which is based on a percentage of the company’s annual turnover.

It’s a great way for companies to keep going when their cash flow is tight and the only downside to it is that they can become somewhat reliant on the cash flow supplied by the loan.