Contributions to an exempt approved scheme are allowable as an expense in assessing an employee’s liability to tax under Schedule E. This is only an income tax relief and does not apply to the Universal Social Charge (USC) and Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI). The following are the applicable pension plans:
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- Occupational pension plans
- Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)
- Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs)
- certain overseas plans
In today’s fast-paced business world, here are some tips to help you to be more effective at multi tasking.
Over the past 10 years or so businesses have become leaner by reducing employee numbers, focusing on efficiency and increasing the demands on their staff. An increased workload forces us to multitask, which may be effective for a short period of time, but over the long term, can cause stress.
Multitasking is not about “piling on the work” to the point of exhaustion. It’s about training the brain to channel energy in an efficient and effective manner so you can accomplish more in less time. One of the keys to learning how to multitask effectively is actually to slow down, in order to accomplish more.
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You may claim income tax relief on nursing home expenses paid by you. You can claim this relief at your highest rate of tax if the nursing home provides 24-hour on-site nursing care.
Nursing Homes Support (Fair Deal) Scheme
The Health Service Executive (HSE) can provide you with assistance for the cost of your nursing home care. The HSE will review your income and assets to calculate the amount you should pay towards the cost of your care. You can claim health expenses relief on the amount you pay yourself.
The HSE pay the balance of the costs of the nursing home. You cannot claim health expenses relief on this amount.
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Understanding what your customers really value can help you to market your products and services more effectively.
Customer value is the perception of what a product or service is worth to the customer. Customers don’t buy features – they buy benefits. Your customers will buy your product or service because of the benefits that they get. If you take the time to understand what your customers value and what they are willing to pay for, you will be able to market your business more effectively. You may also be able to win new customers from your competitors.
Most businesses make the mistake of thinking about value purely in terms of money. They create special offers to promote their products and services, but all they are doing is cutting their profit margin in a race to the bottom. Sure, there is a place in most markets for a lowest priced competitor but this doesn’t work for everyone. Take the airline industry – there isn’t room for more than a handful of low cost airlines and that is why many of them are in financial difficulty – their costs have gone up, but there is downward pressure on pricing.
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You should register for self-assessment if you are self-employed, receive income from non-PAYE sources such as rental income, investment income, maintenance payments etc. or you profited from share options or share incentives. You are not required to register for self-assessment if:
- You only have PAYE income or
- Your taxable non-PAYE income does not exceed €5,000 and your gross non-PAYE income does not exceed €30,000.
If you are required to file a personal income tax return, now is the time to prepare all the information to submit your 2018 Tax Return. Your 2018 Personal Income Tax Return must be submitted to the Inspector of Taxes by 31st October 2019. This return is a statement of all your income and capital gains for the year ended 31st December 2018.
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In the current economic climate, businesses must look at new ways to win customers. As such, many firms are now looking at strategic alliances which allow them to access new segments of the market.
If properly executed, a strategic alliance can be good for business and good for the consumer. A strategic alliance is similar to a joint venture, in that everyone remains an individual entity but comes together for a single purpose or period of time to create something that could not otherwise be created.
There are challenges that business owners and managers must consider before entering into a strategic alliance with another business. For instance, evaluating each partner’s value and capabilities is mandatory before agreeing to an alliance. The who, what, where, when and why questions all need clarification, with failsafe measures which must be agreed and documented before commencing the strategic alliance.
Here are some considerations for any business considering a strategic alliance:
Agreeing to the Terms
It is necessary to identify the areas of interest that are yours and to also identify the areas of interest that are relevant to the other partners. Strategic interests must be similar, and products or services comparable. The figures must add up – each partner must have enough economic benefit for each to remain committed. There must be an operational agreement in place, and it is advisable to engage the services of a lawyer in order to draft this and other terms.
What do you or each partner bring to the alliance? What is each person’s purpose and goals? Does each partner have something unique to offer which adds value to the business relationship?
Defining and Measuring Progress
Who is going to define or handle sales? What target market will be pursued and when? How will the revenue be generated and distributed? What will occur if the measurements aren’t met? A reporting structure should be agreed and put in place. Regular meetings (perhaps monthly or bi-weekly) should be scheduled and all key stakeholders should attend.
In summary, creating a strategic alliance is not something to be taken lightly.
PR PROGRAMMES MUST HAVE OBJECTIVES
In order to maximise return on investment, PR programmes should serve an actual purpose. PR for the sake of PR will most likely fail to produce a tangible result. Instead, each PR programme your business undertakes should tie in with at least one strategic objective of your enterprise. For example, your strategic objective could be to target more customers in a certain socio-economic group, or to encourage a repeat purchase.
As an industry, PR is packed full of creative people who can generate unique ideas to help you. However, all of this creativity means very little unless it is working towards a specific purpose. The starting point for any campaign, therefore, must be to identify what the commercial objectives of the business are. Business owners should consider “what success looks like” if everything goes to plan; the business should then be able to measure or quantify that success. Only at this point should you get creative and come up with the ideas to create the standout PR campaign that the business needs.
An effective PR campaign will capture the attention of the media, as well as the interest of your clients and prospects. Such a programme should aim to engage with the target audience and communicate a “call to action” in order to help the business achieve its objectives.
Remember that the profile of your brand is critical to your success. Increasingly, consumers buy products and services from companies because they value or respect the brand. Customers tend to look at the detailed features and benefits of a product or service second. The key, therefore, is to make your brand your target customer’s first choice.
Your business must live up to its brand promise and deliver what clients expect it to deliver. Your PR programme should reinforce this.
OUTSOURCING HUMAN RESOURCES.
In today’s challenging business environment, many businesses are turning to outsourcing as a way to reduce costs. It is not uncommon for firms to outsource functions such as IT, payroll, back office functions etc. Now, however, firms are beginning to consider the potential of outsourcing human resources (HR).
The benefits to a business are simple: lower operational costs and increased efficiency, as the outsourced provider will generally commit to a service level agreement (SLA). However, is outsourcing HR really a viable business solution?
A business can save money by outsourcing HR: tax contributions, employee benefits, desk space etc can all be saved as a result of removing the need for direct employees. In the quest to secure the best value for money, some businesses outsource their HR function to offshore firms that have considerably cheaper labour costs than the UK. This saving can then be passed on to the client.
More Efficient Service
Because of the specialisation of these third-party service providers, the quality of service required by a company can be met consistently.
In an outsourcing scenario, front line services would still need to be delivered in the UK (assuming this is where the business is based). However, customer service, back office functions etc can be delivered efficiently from offshore locations using high speed internet connections, phone systems, video conferencing, email etc.
Just like any other aspect of running a business, outsourcing HR has its positives and negatives. The positives, as we have identified, are the cost savings and increases in efficiency. On the negative side, outsourced HR people do not know the business as well as an in-house HR team would. As a consequence, they won’t understand the strengths and weaknesses of the firm’s team and may struggle to deliver real value.
ORGANIC GROWTH STRATEGIES.
Most businesses want to grow, but with less bank finance available these days it’s not easy to just buy out a competitor. If you can’t grow by “mergers and acquisitions”, you need to develop a strategy to grow your business organically which can prove a much slower process.
Organic growth is especially prevalent during the early stages of a company’s commercial establishment, but opportunities continuously present themselves if you listen to the market. So, if your firm is committed to meeting the needs of its customers and is commercially driven with a good control over costs, you can use the following strategies to drive business growth.
Also known as the “Protect and Build” strategy, this conservative approach sees a company consolidate and stabilise its position in the market by selling more existing products to existing customers. To make this cross-selling approach work, your firm will need to leverage existing resources and capabilities; this will allow your business to capture a larger share of existing markets. This strategy is low risk as you wont need to launch new products or services – instead, just focus on selling more to existing clients and contacts.
A product development strategy focuses on creating new products or services and introducing them to existing customers. If your business is good at creating new innovations then it is probably well positioned to use this strategy. The key is utilising market research in order to identify a need or gap in the market for a new product or service. If there is potential demand and you launch the right product or service, then you stand a reasonable chance of success. There is an element of risk inherent in this strategy, as developing new products requires investment from the business.
This approach involves the promotion of existing products into new markets. These could be industry sectors or geographical territories. This approach requires the firm to invest in market research to define which markets are best to target. There is an element of risk to this strategy, as it requires both time and money in order to conduct the research and to develop appropriate marketing campaigns.
This can be a risky growth strategy because to diversify means creating new products or services and selling them into new markets at the same time. There are a lot of “unknown unknowns” involved, such as the competitor landscape and the needs / requirements of customers in that market. There is also risk inherent in the fact that the company is somewhat reliant on the strength of its brand in a market that is not necessarily familiar with. However, diversifying can give the company an opportunity to really grow if the new product / service is well received and the new target market is big enough.
Business leaders are not born – they are created. Effective training and mentoring are the foundations of most successful managers, chief executives or business owners. Business leaders of the future must learn from those that are in leadership positions today.
Future proofing your business means investing in your people to create the next generation of managers. A willingness to learn and sometimes sacrifice in order to reach goals is an absolute requirement in today’s fast-moving corporate environment – but somebody needs to guide the next generation.
Training is important in any field. Proper training is even more important in today’s demanding business environment. As a business owner or manager you should invest in the future of your business by mentoring those who are willing to learn. These people will take your business to new heights. They will bring fresh insight and in years to come keep the business moving forward.
In choosing to become a mentor for one or two talented people in your team, you should prepare to impart your knowledge, experience and tips for success. The advice and instruction that you give could be invaluable to the future of your business.
Natural talent is very difficult to find. However, if you have one or two talented people in your team take them under your wing and help them to develop their skills. Those that are mentored will bring an eagerness and flow of new ideas to your business. Your mentoring programme should be built on the following foundations:
- Providing career development advice
- Offering your future managers / leaders an opportunity to develop new skills and expertise
- Providing access to new, commercial perspectives
- Enhancing networking opportunities for your team
- Setting goals (SMART objectives)
Refining organisational awareness and “big picture” thinking.