It has been more than a couple of months since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. No later than April 2019, Britain should officially exit the European Union. This transition period is expected to be quite turbulent as demonstrated by the dramatic fall in the value of the GBP since the Brexit vote last year. While the government has eased interest rates in order to boost the economy, business confidence in the country has continued to weaken.

Uncertainty in the economy is never good news for business owners. Consumers no longer buy as much as they usually do and this hurts a business in terms of revenue. Cashflow is affected too since your vendors may now start demanding upfront payment or may at least stop offering generous credit periods like they once did. This hits your working capital which may necessitate your business to seek short term loans that often come with high interest rates. All of this has a cascading effect on the economy in general and your business in particular.

The first thing that a business owner must do under such circumstances is to maintain a steady working capital and cashflow. This way, one could make sure that the business survives the turbulent times till the economy picks up once again.

Pay As You Go (PAYG)

The easiest way to improve your cashflow situation is to cut down on excesses. Do you have a chauffeur-driven office car? Use Uber instead. Do you pay a monthly retainer to your PR agency or lawyers? Try to exit this arrangement and pay them by the hour when necessary. This is, of course, assuming that you do not need your agency or lawyers round the clock in which case it makes sense to have them on a retainer. The idea here is to bring down the outgoing cost wherever possible by paying just for usage.

Fixed Cost Alternatives

The PAYG model can backfire in some instances. Take your company’s website hosting for instance. A sudden increase in traffic could shoot up your bills beyond your monthly budget and this can hurt your cashflow. As Henrik Printzlau, CTO of Templafy writes, such fixed cost subscriptions “make it easy for you to win certainty over software expenses and allow you to budget your business purposes without any hidden money pits.”

Choosing between a PAYG model and a fixed cost alternative essentially boils down to your specific needs. If you have a hundred percent utilization of the product or service in question, then it is advisable to pick a fixed cost solution. On the other hand, if you will only need the product or service for a few hours a day, then it is good to choose a PAYG alternative. If the utilization percentage of the product itself is uncertain (such as web hosting), then it is better to err on the side of caution and pick a fixed cost solution.

Incentivize up-front payment

The biggest threat to your cashflow comes from the non-payment of dues from customers. This is exacerbated in an uncertain economy since businesses you transact with may shut down, or may have not been paid by customers they work with. This messes up the cashflow for everyone who is higher up in the chain. The ideal fix to this problem is to do away with credit periods. But this may not be practical all the time. A better solution is to create incentives for customers who pay up-front. For instance, you could offer a 5% discount on the invoice if the customer pays up-front. This is a win-win for both parties since the customer can now enjoy lower cash outflow while you can benefit from a predictable inflow of cash.

Managing contracts and retainers

The way to achieve healthy cashflow during uncertainties is by maximizing your predictable cash inflow and minimizing your outflow. The PAYG and fixed cost solutions mentioned earlier in this article primarily deal with cash outflow - the money you pay your vendors, attorneys, staff and for resources. This may require you to end contracts or retainers that you have signed up for with various partners. But while this is true on the supply side, businesses must move towards more contracts and retainers on the demand side of the chain. By pushing your customers to sign an annual contract or hire you on a retainer basis, you establish a cash inflow process that is a lot more stable and predictable.

The mantra to surviving a business uncertainty is simple - minimize outflow and maximize inflow. A sustainable working capital helps you tide over any uncertainties and ensures that your business survives to profit from a booming economy that is not a long time away. 

Saving Money with Coupons

By Pete | @kingpetey | 19 Jul 2017

With the ongoing decline in living standards and lack of wage growth, every family is looking for a way to save money. We all want to save ourselves some extra each month - no matter how small. One of the best ways to doing this is by making use of coupon and discount codes.

Using coupons used to be considered being cheap, but now almost everyone wants to get involved and people spend endless hours searching for discount codes that will help them keep some extra money in their pockets. Instead of sitting at your computer, surfing through different websites, and not getting good coupons and discount codes, why not join just one website and get the best discount on your favorite products.

Using a coupon nowadays is not just a necessity, it is also considered to be a smart move. So, how do you use these discount codes to save yourself that extra cash? Well, the process here is quite simple. Below are some factors that can help you out with saving money using coupons and discount codes.

CHECK YOUR SHOPPING HABITS

Discount codes at CouponGrind.com can help you save a lot but you need to be aware of your shopping habits so you can actually save money at the end of the day. Ensure that you are not just using the discount codes to buy products you don't need and be aware of what the deal entails before buying. Make sure the products you buy with the coupons are products you are actually going to use; don’t just buy them because they are cheap.

BE SURE ABOUT EXPIRY DATES

Coupons have expiry dates and these dates are subjected to change. Stores can make the decision to expire their coupons at any time. They have the right to do this and they can do it without sending notices. This usually happens when the demand is too much or when the product supply is limited. Either way, you need to act quickly when you get an offer as you may not find it there the next day.

CHECK OUT THE COMPETITION AND SAVE MORE

You do not need to wait until checkout before trying to get yourself a coupon. Log on to a competent deal and coupon website like CouponGrind.com. This way, you'll be able to cut down your visits to multiple sites as you'll get nothing but the best deals on this websites; you'll also be able to know the store that offers the best price.

TRY OUT A NEW STORE

This is another way to save money of coupons. Do not be afraid to check out a new store. Most times, new stores offer bigger discounts so as to attract new customers. As a matter of fact, new customers can get five to ten percent higher savings than returning customers. But keep it in mind that most times, these offers are only eligible for the first purchase you make at that store.

Get your coupons and discount codes at CouponGrind.com today and save more than you ever think you will. From food, to clothing, to health, beauty, professional services, etc. you have the best chances of saving now.

Happy Savings!

While every appliance might feel crucial in its own way, it goes without saying that the absence of a cooker really can limit a household's eating plans. Given that, one could argue that it's the most important device in the kitchen.

Bearing this in mind, the day when something does go wrong is often a frustrating one. The nature of cookers means that the potential for a problem always exists and unfortunately, these problems at least seem to always fall on the pricy side.

While appliance repairs are certainly becoming more affordable, to make things a little more bearable here are some of the most common cooker problems and the course of action if they should occur.

Problem #1 - The oven is burning everything

Firstly, we're going to assume that you have the temperature gauge set correctly - and you're also not leaving everything in for too long.

Once the above has been satisfied, the issue is most likely due to a broken thermostat. The problem with replacing this part isn't necessarily the cost, but more the complexity. It's not the easiest thing in the world to manipulate and you will have to make sure that the phial is not touched as you start the replacement process.

Problem #2 - You can't close the oven door

It goes without saying that not being able to close the oven door is going to have obvious repercussions for the state of your food.

However, at least in comparison to some of the other issues, this one is relatively easy to fix. It's not overly-technical, as the problem is mainly due to faulty hinges (or sometimes the runners).

In fact, it's usually both that are impacted (broken runners resulting in the hinges being damaged). If this has occurred, the general advice is to repair both hinges at the same time as it's rare for one to be in optimum condition, and the other to be broken.

Problem #3 - Your oven is noisy

The sound might suggest otherwise, but a noisy oven isn't always cause for disaster.

In fact, sometimes it's simply loose screws and while these should be fixed, it's probably not going to be game over if you do take your time before addressing them.

One of the most common reasons is the cooling fan motor being in the wrong position though. Even if it's slightly misaligned, it can give something of a screeching sound as it is catching other elements of the oven.

While the above might be true in newer models, if you have an older oven it could be due to a motor bearing failure. If this is the case acting quickly is absolutely crucial. If you don't, the motor will start to run too slow and the upshot of this will be that the fan will start to overheat. Suffice to say, when parts start to overheat, the problem is heightened significantly and more severe repair work might be needed.

The future of manufacturing will definitely include robots—and the future is now. There are already many automated processes, with more to come.  But how many more robots and automated machines will there be? Will all human factory workers eventually be replaced, or is this just science fiction?

Automation enabled manufacturing’s latest trend known as lights-out production, a term for facilities able to operate without lights and without any human oversight. At the lights out FANUC (factor automated numerical control) facility in Japan, robots are creating other robots.

Not only the lights are off, so are the A/C and heating. The automated workforce operates continuously, without any breaks. Through this automated, lights out process, FANUC creates 22,000 to 23,000 CNC machines monthly.

FANUC, with its 24/7/365 production schedule, is an uncommon production facility. What’s more common is having automated processes occurring during the third shift for a few hours a day—at least as a starting point.

However, before a company even considers lights-out production, automation systems must already be in place. Companies with interest in seeing if lights-out production is a cost-effective option, turn to specialists like Midwest Engineering Systems (MWES) for customized automation solutions and machine designs.

Although lights-out production isn’t for every company, there are some major benefits including the following:

  • Increased product quality
  • Improved throughput
  • Decrease in workplace injuries—especially in hazardous work environments
  • Fills in a skilled worker shortage
  • A decrease in labor costs

Douglas Peterson, general manager for collaborative robots maker Universal Robots, told Automation World the criteria to determine what would work is best for a robot vs. what work would be best for human workers.

“Robots are uniquely suited to any manufacturing task that is dirty, dangerous or dull. If the process doesn’t require human dexterity, mental agility or problem-solving skills, then it can be done by a robot.”

Implementing lights-out production is a complex and difficult process. CNC Cookbook outlines and details the many challenges that can come with starting a lights-out production process, with the largest challenge being perfecting processes.

For example, even with the most cutting-edge technology, if a single process is faulty, the whole system is at risk of failure in an automated environment.  Testing new equipment and ensuring a seamless production process is critical. Having human supervisors and maintenance techs on-site is often recommended.

On the finance side, the upfront costs of lights-out production can be cost-prohibitive for many. Experts say facilities debating a move to a lights-out system should expect a return on their upfront investment within two years. If the gains in efficiency and productivity will pay of the cost of the automated machines and components themselves within 2 years, the investment likely makes sense.

Automation’s popularity grows as lights-out production is becoming more commonplace and less of a novelty. Machines will likely replace many workers who perform more dangerous or repetitive tasks while helping to boost productivity gains and profitability for many manufacturers.

(Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson / Flickr)

Korea enjoys a rich culture, made up of a mixture of deeply historic elements alongside modern aspects like the blossoming K-pop world. Visitors to Korea can enjoy a variety of cultural and modern experiences unique to this fascinating country. Read on for ten fantastically unique products that can only be found in Korea.

K-Pop and Korean Drama Merchandise

K-pop, or Korean pop music and culture, is taking the world by storm, and is largely responsible for the burgeoning popularity of Korean dramas. Television dramas like Descendants of the Sun have enjoyed worldwide popularity, and Korea knows how to capitalize on the unexpected popularity of its pop culture.

K-pop merchandise can be found almost everywhere in Korea, but the real treasures lie in licensed souvenir shops run by major entertainment agencies.

Socks

While socks are certainly not a uniquely Korean item, the prevalence of sock-buying opportunities and the wide range of colors, designs, and characters available undoubtedly is. And they're not just targeted to children, as wearing socks emblazoned with favorite characters or even political figures is commonplace for modern Korean people too.

In fact, sock buying so common in Korean culture that sock vending machines can be found in popular areas of Seoul.

Cute Trinkets and Phone Cases

Much like the "kawaii" culture in Japan, Koreans love anything tiny and cute. Many cute items can be found throughout Seoul and other parts of Korea, from tiny teddy bears and dolls to intricate miniatures on keychains, and trinkets to attach to bags and cell phones.

As an offshoot of Korea's "cute" culture, the selection of cell phone cases available to purchase is almost unrivaled in Korea. The range of cases in the United States is a tiny proportion of what is available in other parts of the world, so it makes sense to bring home a selection of cell phone cases for yourself and as souvenirs for friends and family.

Beauty Products

BB Cream is one of the hottest beauty items on the market today, and by all accounts its popularity will only continue to rise. With BB Cream being a uniquely Korean invention, it is little wonder why people are exporting it in all its forms around the world.

But the Korean beauty market is so much more than BB Cream, with facial packs being another common and inexpensive item in Korea. In addition, a selection of strange and unusual beauty products can be found, from jaw massagers to double-eyelid tape, and antibacterial hand wipes to facial slimming masks.

Hanbok

Back to the traditional, the hanbok is for Korea what the kimono is for Japan. And just like in Japan, Korean men and women still wear their hanbok with pride during celebrations and social occasions. Visitors to Korea can order a custom-made hanbok, however they don't run cheap and can take up to three weeks to made.

As such, a variety of hanbok dolls and teddy bears are available for sale at various places throughout Korea, which have proven to be popular keepsakes.

Soju

Soju is the Koreans' alcoholic drink of choice, and like much of Korean culture, has become so popular overseas that the most well-known soju brand, Jinro, has been known to outsell other popular liquors in the United States.

A clear liquid like vodka, soju is typically made from rice and is considered to be quite bitter to taste, and not as strong as vodka.

Soju was traditionally made from rice, until rice shortages from the mid-1060s until the turn of the century caused the government to prohibit the use of rice in soju distillation. Creators needed to become inventive, and even today soju can be found with a tapioca, barley, wheat, or sweet potato base. The more expensive brands are once again made from rice, and soju that has been aged ten years in oak barrels carries a premium price.

Traditional Korean Masks

Masks have long featured in Korean culture, in royal courts, battle uniforms, ceremonies, and rituals. Today, traditional Korean masks still play a role in re-enactments of traditional plays and ceremonies, and as good-luck charms.

Korean Tea

Korea has a strong tea culture, with a variety of traditional and newer teas available. Meshil (sweet plum tea) and omija (five taste tea) are traditional variants that are still widely enjoyed today, while jakseolcha, an expensive form of green tea made from only the young buds of the leaves, is a firm favorite.

Hanji

Koreans have been making traditional paper, known as hanji, for thousands of years, and the tradition still endures today. Made from the bark of the mulberry tree hanji was traditionally used to over the windows, doors, and walls in Korean houses, but today is more commonly used for artistic purposes including stationery, paper dolls, and lamps.

Folding Fans

Folding fans have long been a part of Korean culture, with their use being considered essential, even in colder weather. Folding fans are widely available for purchase, and have traditionally been used as props in Korean dances and performances, providing shelter from the elements, and even to hide a person's face from onlookers.

Which of these products would you be most interested in bringing home from a trip to Korea? Are there other quintessentially Korean products that should be included on this list? Have your say in the comments below, and please like and share this article.

References

17 Uniquely Korean Items to Buy in Seoul - http://www.gpsmycity.com/articles/73-17-uniquely-korean-items-to-buy-in-seoul.html

A Guide to Cool “Korean” Things to Buy in Korea - http://grrrltraveler.com/countries/asia/korea/cool-things-to-buy-in-korea/

Top 20 Things To Buy In Seoul To Take Home - https://blog.trazy.com/2016/07/07/top-20-things-to-buy-in-seoul-to-take-home/

Top 13 Korean Souvenirs That Friends Will Love You For - https://www.tripzilla.com/buy-souvenirs-south-korea/19531

10 Best Seoul Souvenirs Worth Your Money - http://www.therealtravelers.com/south-korea/seoul/10-best-seoul-souvenirs-worth-your-money/

Top 10 Items to Buy in Seoul - http://english.visitseoul.net/top10/Top-10-Items-to-Buy-in-Seoul?indexSn=1&sectionSn=77

Items to Buy - http://www.lifeinkorea.com/shopping/items.cfm

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