Few would disagree that small businesses are now under an immense amount of pressure to perform. This pressure is something that the media are happy to highlight as well; with countless stories doing the rounds at just how hard it is to survive as a new company.
It means that certain things sometimes get left to the side. In a battle to realize the latest and greatest product idea, or to stay on top of more day-to-day tasks, accounting gets left behind.
As it turns out, this is something that can help your business get through those first few years unscathed immensely. Using a company like the 3 Wise Bears is something that can unearth mistakes and create efficiencies, and this is what a lot of these young businesses crave.
In terms of specifics, today's article will jump into some advice that all small businesses should be looking to follow when it comes to their accounting practices.
Make a clear line between business and pleasure
It might all be “your money”, so to speak, but try and make sure that you have separate business and personal accounts. It might be something else that you need to think about as you start out, but when it comes to filing your accounts it will do you the world of good.
As well as the convenience-factor, this is an approach which is also important from a legal perspective. It means that your personal money isn’t going to be at risk under limited liability regulations.
Keep on top of each and every expense
Again, this next task might sound a little mundane, but it will help you with your accounting practices significantly.
Sure, gathering receipts isn't anyone's idea of fun - but it gets the job done. Every time you make any sort of payment in relation to your business, even if it's catching a bus to meet a potential client, make sure you get paper or digital evidence. This doesn't just give you a true representation on how much money you are making from a net perspective, but it will also make your job of filing expenses so much easier when it comes to your tax return.
Collect taxes when you make a sale
This next point can be hard for new businesses to come to terms with. After all, those initial days are difficult, and parting with profits from the outset is something that can really put financial stress onto your shoulders.
Of course, when it comes to taxes, this money is going to leave your account at one point in time. The mistake that a lot of business owners make is forgetting about this - meaning that at the end of the year they are left with a hefty tax bill. Don't fall into this trap by deducting taxes every time you make a sale.
Understand your tax requirements
On the subject of tax, you need to understand exactly what you need to file. This doesn't just occur from a tax bracket point of view, but also the types of expenses you can file. A lot of small business owners don't understand this and ultimately, it hinders their profits.
If you have a true love for writing, you’ll be familiar with that magical thing that happens when you're writing about something that you're passionate about – the words seem to flow out of their own accord and spin themselves into clever phrases right before your eyes with seemingly no input from you. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could actually get paid to do that all day?
In the real world, however, it’s never that simple! Actually working as a copywriter means bending your pen to a host of different subjects and styles, many of which will not come naturally to you. Many times, you’ll need to write about subjects or products that you find completely uninspiring, or worse, actually go against what you stand for – imagine being a committed vegetarian and having to churn out some clever copy for a meat product, for example!
On the other hand, working for such a diverse range of clients, companies and brands is sure to keep you on your toes, and present a new challenge every single day. And while it can be very frustrating to have to deal with subject matter you're not particularly keen on, there’s also an immense amount of pride and satisfaction to be had in doing a good job anyway. And as an extra reward, there will always be those pieces that come along that you feel you were just born to write, and let you know you're still definitely working in the right career!
Working as a copywriter for an agency, versus working freelance:
The information age has brought about so many new ways to earn a living, and the field of digital marketingis perhaps the most exciting for someone who wants to work in a creative role from home. Working as a freelance copywriter from the comfort of your own home sounds like a dream come true for anyone who wants a bit more freedom to set their own schedule, work around their kids, or even just avoid the daily commute! And while it can help you do all those things, there are a few benefits to working in a 9 to 5 job that you're really going to miss out on too.
Freelancer copywriters often have more freedom over which projects they choose to take on, when they want to work, and how much they want to take on. Highly creative people often battle to stick to a routine and grind out engaging content on demand, so the option of being your own boss is very appealing. That said, they can also be incredibly talented at the fine art of procrastination, and without a boss to answer to, there’s a real chance that you're just not going to be able to get enough work done to support yourself!
And that’s another big drawback of working freelance – you're going to earn a lotless money. When you throw your hat into the working from home ring, you're suddenly competing with the entire globe, rather than just your city, or even country. There are literally millions of other freelance writers out there, and you're going to have to be willing to work for a lot less to get your foot in the door. And if you use one of the large international freelancing platforms to find your clients, they're going to take a not-inconsiderable cut of your earnings too. Nonetheless, if you're willing to take a bit of a lifestyle knock in order to set your own hours, take as long of a lunch break as you like, and never have to sit in rush hour traffic again, it can definitely be worth it.
Working for an agency in a more stable role comes with all the other perks, like a predictable salary, paid annual leave, and free coffee! (For whatever reason, copywriters and coffee have a close and intimate relationship!) You’re also guaranteed a much steadier flow of work, have the opportunity to socialize with and bounce ideas off coworkers, and you won’t have to fight quite so hard against the urge to procrastinate on challenging pieces and stick to deadlines. There’s also something about just being in a working environment and surrounded with activity that is bound to make you more productive – and once the work week is done, you get to take two full days off – a luxury freelancers can seldom afford!
Perhaps the most exciting part about being a copywriter, whether you work from home or for an agency, is that every day presents an opportunity to learn about something new, and challenges you to create content that your audience is going to respond to. If you love language and finding new ways of expressing ideas, then it’s a versatile and rewarding career path to consider!
Responsive design is the idea that web site layouts should change based on the users choice of device. Depending on the users environment the design may adapt to the screen size, platform or orientation.
I've put together an example that you can use in your own web sites. Look what happens when you resize the page horozontally in your web browser or on your mobile.
View now - Responsive Design
Feel free to inspect with Firebug and copy into your own project where suitable.
It uses a condition to tell the web browser which stylesheet to include:
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="screen and (max-width: 660px)" href="1col.css" />
In the above example we are saying to include 1col.css when the media is a screen and the maximum width is 660px.
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="screen and (min-width: 1000px) and (max-width: 1200px)" href="2col.css" />
Here we are saying to display 2col.css when the media is a screen, the minimum width is 1000 pixels and the max-width is 1200 pixels.
Any questions I will try to answer in the comments.
Update: When setting the viewport you might want to detect the device with PHP first otherwise the viewport will be set too small on the iPad.
Last weekend I cycled around Lake Vyrnwy in Wales for the Severn Hospice, the 11 mile cycle took around two hours at a leisurely pace, here are some of the photos I took on the way round:
The dam forms one edge of the lake.
Boating is a popular pastime.
Water from the lake supplies homes all over the West Midlands.
The first signs of spring were starting to show.
As it started raining this faint rainbow appeared.
You can just about see the whole rainbow in this shot.
The mist started to get heavier at this point.
I stayed with the runners - for support obviously.
The tower's almost Gothic look in the creepy mist.
To find out more please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/mikiesheridan
Apple's home multimedia suite iLife was recently upgraded, while all apps (iMovie, iWeb, iDVD, iPhoto and Garageband) got an upgrade iPhoto got the best and most significant new features. The most useful of these is Faces.
For a long time now you have been able to tag people on social networking sites such as Facebook linking them to their user profile. Facebook has the ability to detect faces however cannot match them meaning you have to tag every person in every photo. iPhoto takes this to the next level, after first scanning your entire library to detect faces (a job which took around 90mins on my 8418 photos on my 2.4ghz C2D Intel iMac) you have the ability to start tagging people.
Above: iPhoto scanning my library looking for sexy people
Once you have tagged a person in a couple of photos iPhoto will start to suggest similar photos, at first some of the suggestions are wild guesses but by simply clicking a photo once to accept or double clicking a photo to deny makes it very quick and easy to work through your library.
Above: Single click to accept a picture, double click to deny.
The majority of my photos contain people, often from nights out in fancy dress. iPhoto struggled with some of these photo at first and I found myself having to tag photos so that iPhoto could detect the rest.
Above: After a couple hours of tagging I now had a selection of Pete photos. I had to tag myself on numerous occassions, iPhoto could not automatically detect that baby Pete (top right) was the same as sumo Pete (bottom middle).
Above: I now have my three friends tagged in iPhoto.
Tagging photos is all very good but its what you then do with these photos that is interesting. For instance what if I want to see all the pictures of me and a friend or with valentines day approaching all the photos of Laura and myself. I can create a smart album, just as you would in the older versions of iPhoto but this time you have the option of specifying names.
Above: A filter in a smart album.
Above: The filter results of pictures of Laura and myself.
It doesn't end here as iPhoto then lets you print or order items based on those photos producing an instant valentines day present.
Above: Three years worth of presents.
With iPhoto 09 you also have the option for automatically uploading photos to Facebook and Flickr.
Tagging takes several hours especially if you have a large library but its well worth it.
I work with the open source content management system Drupal on a daily basis, I've designed sites for local and international organisations. Modules are essential for my work, these are the ones I work with everyday and use in some fashion on almost every website.
1. CCK - Content Construction Kit
Almost every website will need to define content fields in some way so that it is easy for the user to enter data and to report off, the CCK module gives you this flexibility to do this. These can be anything from simple number and text fields to select boxes, radio buttons and image upload fields. CCK is one of the main reasons Drupal is a flexible platform allowing for the quick development of website.
Being able to store all your data is great however what really matters is how you display this data to the end user. By being able to select what fields you want to display, pass arguments and setup filters, Views is incredibly powerful and goes hand in hand with CCK.
Panels is a great way to mix different views and blocks into the same page in different columns. The panels module comes with either two or three column layouts giving some great flexibiltiy to page design.
Clean URL's are a great way to give a more descriptive URL, the path auto module allows you to automatically generate different urls for different types of content. For example on ImAFish it differentiates imafish.co.uk/blog/??? and imafish.co.uk/articles/??? .
IMCE integrates an image upload box into TinyMCE and provides basic controls for resizing images. IMCE is here for a similar reason that TinyMCE is, people love to put pictures on web pages and usually these start out on a users computer. IMCE provides an easy way to upload these images so that they can be positioned on a page with TinyMCE.
This post is by guest blogger Matt Buck.
The fifth International Cartoon Festival is open now in Shrewsbury.
The main event when more than 40 of Britain's best cartoonists will be in town for a long weekend of cartoons and cartooning, runs from April 18-20.
But already six exhibitions of some great cartoon jokes and art are open to the public. You can find out more at http://www.shrewsburycartoonfestival.com or at the Bloghorn,