26 Feb 2014, 16:23
Short term loan providers have faced a lot of criticism in recent months, but not all providers are the same. What if you could offer a more responsible approach to short term lending that made sure loans were not offered to those who could not afford them?
Unfortunately, heading down the ‘standard' borrowing route of personal loans and credit cards is not a viable option for everyone living in the UK. In a post-recession climate, UK borrowers may lack the credit rating needed to finance purchases via the usual avenues.
One financing option in the UK is short-term loans. By borrowing before their wages come in, those who take out short-term loans can meet immediate financial needs, such as covering unexpected bill before payday. Short-term loans are open to those who have a regular source of income who may find it difficult to access other forms of borrowing, like a credit card or overdraft. Customers should only apply for short-term loans if cheaper forms of borrowing are not available to them, such as an arranged overdraft or credit card.
While consumers with low credit scores can successfully apply for short-term loans, lenders do undertake credit checks to ensure borrowers aren't over-indebted. This includes MYJAR, who perform affordability checks to determine how much existing debt an applicant has. Should they find that the prospective borrower has too much outstanding debt, they will refuse their application. Policies like these ensure that the short-term loan market meets the needs of responsible borrowers and encourages healthy lending practices.
Loan amounts available vary from lender to lender. With MYJAR, consumers can only borrow £100 the first time they apply. This amount may increase if they choose to borrow again. Re-borrowing is possible on the basis that borrowers meet their repayments on time and in full.
Supportive lending networks
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to borrow from companies that support their financial needs in more ways than one. Recognising this, short-term lending companies are now choosing to work with charities that encourage healthy borrowing habits. One of these charities is StepChange, the UK's leading debt charity and MYJAR supports their debt advice work.
14 Feb 2014, 11:43
The explosion of social media over the last decade has completely changed the way we connect with the world around us. What started out as a somewhat informal way of communicating with friends and acquaintances has evolved into arguably the most popular way for businesses to interact with consumers, and for people to air their opinions on hot topics in real-time. The potential reach on networks such as Twitter and Facebook is huge, and it comes as no surprise that workers have taken to social media in order to source new jobs and find out about new opportunities.
In recent years, social media has become the marketing method of choice for many environmentally conscious companies intent on reducing their carbon footprint. Social media practically eliminates the need for direct marketing campaigns, which equates to producing much less printed material. As a matter of fact, growing numbers of recruiters specialising in green jobs are turning to social media in order to source candidates via every conceivable social media platform. Even a cursory search for "green job vacancies" on Twitter can produce a wealth of results regarding sustainability-focused positions available.
Finding your ideal job via social media
When looking for new jobs online, it makes sense to utilise a social network created with the sole purpose of facilitating day-to-day business. LinkedIn offers precisely this, and is routinely used by both professionals seeking work and companies looking to fill vacancies. LinkedIn is also a valuable tool for connecting with colleagues, affiliates, freelancers, industry alumni and a host of different business-related groups and individuals.
Keeping up appearances
It's worthwhile considering how you present yourself on your LinkedIn profile. Whilst other social networks may be an informal way of communicating, many employers prefer a professional approach on LinkedIn. Dress smartly in your profile picture, and keep your information as detailed and meticulous as you would on your CV. Remember, first impressions count - even in the online world.
Perhaps the biggest advantage LinkedIn has over standard social networking sites is that it provides users with a chance to allow potential employers to see their credentials. It's possible to upload your CV and relevant work experience to the site, allowing prospective recruiters to find you based upon their vacancy criteria.
Likewise, employers are also using social media to advertise their vacancies. With millions of people using dedicated business networks as well as general social media such as Twitter and Facebook, recruiters can reach millions of potential applicants, resulting in record numbers of people finding employment through social media.
Twitter users spark new hump day
Although it's never wise to directly badmouth your employer via social media, a recent study suggests that increasing numbers of people are taking to sites like Twitter to vent their frustrations about working life. Perhaps the most interesting piece of data extrapolated from the study suggests that workers are most likely to feel dissatisfied in their job on a Tuesday - not on a Wednesday, as previously thought.
Wednesday has been traditionally known throughout the workplace as "hump day" for some time - partly because it's the furthest day away from both the previous and forthcoming weekends, and can therefore seem to drag in - although with new information available, it seems that Tuesday may in fact be the most frustrating day of the working week. The study, using the social media tracking tool, Topsy, suggests that the number of negative work-related tweets begin taking a sharp incline on Monday mornings before peaking on Tuesday and gently sloping off as the weekend nears. It's now official: Tuesday is hump day.
People aren't simply letting off steam during hump day, though - they're actively searching for better jobs, and for ways to improve their job prospects. Recently released figures from Computeach have revealed that the majority of enquiries regarding enrolment on IT-related courses tend to peak during the hours of 12 and 2pm every Tuesday - or hump-day break-time. This idea is also supported by web psychologist, Nathalie Nahai who agrees that ‘after a Monday slump workers perhaps have more resolve on a Tuesday'.
How social media has become the career people want
The continued exponential growth of digital marketing is something which many companies are keen to capitalise on. Whereas it may have been important to have an online business presence a number of years ago, we live in an age where it's now crucial, and the demand for social media marketing experts has created an unprecedented demand for workers to fill these skilled jobs.
A new government-funded social media course is proof positive that the number of jobs in the digital marketing industry is set to rise. Although a large number of those searching for new jobs or courses during hump day might feel like they're too old to return to education, or that tuition fees are too expensive, the good news is that there are plenty of opportunities out there for people of all ages, regardless of their current income or financial history.
Help for mature students
The 24+ Advanced Learning Loan is a government-backed initiative which aims to help people aged 24 and over to fund their studies, and is set to help thousands to access 6-month long IT courses such as Computeach's Social Media for Business City & Guilds (Level 3).
With qualifications in social media marketing set to become even more sought after in the near future, there's never been a better time for those feeling the hump day blues to consider a change of career, and what's more, it's possible to gain three major industry-recognised qualifications in just six months with Computeach.
13 Feb 2014, 14:53
In this world of constrained resources, businesses across the globe are working hard to become much more efficient and to minimize waste. Although progress is being made by some, the reality is that the world is still terribly inefficient.
We have become very good at working efficiently within silos, in very specialist processes but we fail to spot opportunities across different systems. We simply don't ask ourselves the right questions - would someone else want this waste product? Could we harness it as a power resource? Could it be used somewhere else in the cycle?
Unfortunately, because our economy has been built on the false notion that there is an endless supply of cheap materials these questions often go un-asked. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the adoption of circular business models in the EU manufacturing sector could realize net materials cost savings worth up to $ 630 billion p.a. towards 2025-stimulating economic activity in the areas of product development, remanufacturing and refurbishment.
Our current model of becoming more efficient incrementally will not be enough to realise these savings. Furthermore it is anticipated that rare earth materials, such as indium needed for smartphone touch screens, europium used for light bulbs and erbium, which is essential for fibre optics, are all due to be exhausted within five to 10 years. A radical change in mindset is therefore required.
We need to dismiss the whole concept of waste and think about entire operating systems. Every litre of water can be re-used; every vegetable leaf can be used as food or as biomass for energy. Ultimately it's not about using less and less but about thinking in a completely different way to find a new cycle that works. This requires us to see value in every material that we use. This is not about corporate social responsibility but about good business sense as a scarcity of raw materials, combined with a rapidly growing global middle class, puts pressure on our current linear model.
Moving to a more circular model allows a company to keep the value of its stock of raw materials within its own system. For example Desso, which makes carpets and artificial grass, is already experiencing the benefits of this through a combination of leasing out its products and making them easily recyclable.
A circular model also provides incentives to create products that are longer lasting. At AkzoNobel because we supply coatings as a service, we design for longevity. Our outdoor and indoor paints are designed to last to reduce both maintenance costs and environmental impact. Furthermore, our coatings work hard to protect the integrity of the original substrate to ensure it can be reused effectively.
This circular thinking can't just be restricted to a company's own operations. Due to the complex nature of global value chains it needs to run across to customers, suppliers, business partners and communities. If our customers want to produce products that can be 100 per cent re-used and recycled we should think how we can help our customers to design these. Ultimately if this approach is to reach scale, we will need to take a systems-based approach.
What all companies who support the circular economy are certain about is that the current system will at some point have to dramatically change - and so those companies which find early solutions, will stand to benefit.
At AkzoNobel we know only too well that our future hinges on our ability to do radically more with less. But our story is an optimistic one - we are determined to turn what is an obvious challenge into an opportunity and bring more value to our customers and society in general. We call this approach Planet Possible - it's our commitment to finding opportunities where there don't appear to be any.
André Veneman is corporate director of sustainability & HSE at AkzoNobel
10 Feb 2014, 15:34
For a multitude of good reasons, businesses are becoming increasingly eager to green their operations and reap the benefits of a reduced carbon footprint. Yet, more often than not, half the battle is staying green and keeping on top of your environmental action plan. What can you do to make it stick? With this in mind, here are some ideas to help your business stay on track.
Avoid the crash diet scenario
Trying to become more eco friendly can be likened to the process of losing weight because most of it is down to habit and mindset. Although one involves retaining pounds and the other involves shedding them (see what I did there), both are long term goals that come into effect gradually.
When looking to get in shape it's tempting to immediately kick several habits at once. No cakes, chocolate, take aways, alcohol (or fun). You're setting yourself up for failure because this is not a sustainable diet. Who has the willpower to overcome four vices at once? Not many of us.
That's why, when setting environmental targets, it's easier to view the changes you make to get there as being permanent. This puts into perspective what is manageable and what, for the time being, is going to be a little more difficult. What actions can you take that will challenge the workplace, but are achievable AND can be maintained?
It's a cliché, but think outside of the box
Although there are plenty of conventional actions that can be taken to reduce your environmental impact, sometimes it takes a little creativity or competition to get staff on board.
Alternative ideas include Meat Free Mondays, supplying your staff with reusable branded thermal cups for their morning coffee, even a swear box (if that's the kind of office you work in) where money collected goes towards some fancy low energy gadget or a tree planting scheme.
Use your credentials as a marketing tool
You have two cleaning services that both carry out exactly the same procedures to limit their environmental impact. The only difference is that one cleaning service tells you about how green they are, whereas the other cleaning service shows you that they have third party environmental accreditation backing their green claims. If you're looking to work with environmentally aware businesses, it's a no brainer.
The ability to separate your business from the rest and rise above the ‘greenwash' makes accreditation worthwhile. If you implement certain environmental standards and wish to put it to good use, get third party accreditation to prove that you are the real deal. I can recommend the Green Achiever Scheme which provides a range of accreditation for businesses of all sizes and industries in the UK.
Get connected, and encourage others to do the same
There are plenty of networks for businesses interested in meeting other like-minded organisations. As well as being great for free marketing tools, information on grants and industry updates, many groups will offer extended advice on environmental matters. Take advantage of this and learn from others; how have other businesses in your sector overcome the barriers that so often delay progress on green issues?
If you are currently a member of a network and feel as though green opportunities are too few and far between, suggest that more is done. Never underestimate the PR benefits of championing environmental awareness.
Money, money, money
Often business are held back by a lack of finances when embarking upon reducing their environmental impact. To benefit from significant savings in the future, it makes business sense to invest in renewable technology and so grants and funding are available. I recommend signing up for a business grants newsletter which makes it easy to find funding opportunities to suit you. Although these things take time, and perhaps some blood, sweat and tears, it's definitely worth doing. If you don't apply, you'll never know!
Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes
Green businesses are everywhere. It's easy to idolise large corporations when the media lavishes praise upon them for making progress with their flash sustainability programmes, yet what the media doesn't cover is how SME's are driving forward significant changes to the way they operate with significantly less resources at their disposal. It takes clever investment, commitment and great efficiency for a small business to offset their carbon and save money through being green. Surely that's where our inspiration should come from and if you like the look of their results, explore the feasibility of following in their footsteps.
This guest blog was written by Hannah Coles in partnership with the Green Achiever Scheme - an environmental accreditation service for UK businesses.
30 Jan 2014, 15:46
We're just weeks into the new year, but being green has not slipped off the agenda; the UK's Green Building Council recently urged construction firms and building managers to make energy efficiency a ‘national infrastructure priority', putting it at the top of the list with homeowners and commercial properties alike.
With many people trying to be more energy efficient and reduce their carbon footprint, it is no wonder that many businesses and companies are also trying to jump on the bandwagon and also go green. Here are some top tips to help your warehouse cut costs and become more energy efficient.
Warehouses are large buildings with lots of space, and it's vital that it needs to be adequately lit, however, ensuring that the whole space is sufficiently lit means that you will need a lot of lights. By switching from florescent lights to LED lights, you could save a lot of money by drastically decreasing your energy bill and, as they can last up to 50 times longer than traditional bulbs, there's a large potential for significant savings on outgoings for replacement bulbs. Not only can they save you money, they are also much more environmentally friendly being 100 per cent recyclable, having no mercury or tri-phosphor gases and reducing your CO2 emissions by up 60 per cent.
As LED lights give off very little heat, the need for air conditioning can be reduced, meaning your costs may again be cut - and just going even further to prove their efficiency, and that little to no energy is wasted.
You may not think that your warehouse doors have much to do with the energy efficiency, however there are a wide variety of ways in which they can contribute to your running costs and carbon footprint. With older warehouse doors being much more unreliable and extremely slow to open and close, it's not uncommon for them to be left open so they don't reduce productivity. However, this means that heat or cold air - depending on your type of warehouse and what it contains - is quickly released and your warm air heaters, air conditioners or cooling systems have to work even harder to keep the area at the optimum temperature.
High speed doors can reduce this waste of energy as the speed in which they open and close means that there is no impact on productivity and efficiency in the workplace, so they can stay closed until needed. More door providers are starting to stock and push these door types, such as UK-based Enerco, who provide high quality high speed doors for a range of different industries.
With the help of new and improved handling equipment, many warehouses are starting to understand the benefits of working vertically and building upwards rather than spreading out. Extending upwards and making use of high ceilings means that many business owners are managing to save more money than they would have previously on land prices.
This efficient use of space reduces the need for onsite expansion or the need to relocate to a potentially larger premises, both of which could drastically increase your running costs. Relocation could also potentially mean sacrificing a great location, increasing the distance delivery vehicles need to travel, with all of these leading to an increase in carbon footpring.
Now that you know how your warehouse could be more energy efficient and reduce your carbon footprint, you can start putting these practices in place, helping you as a business to be greener and in turn do your bit for the environment. This could also increase your customer standing as consumers like to be associated with businesses that are greener.
This article has been provided by Enerco
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