Archive for August, 2015

Small companies losing money in energy contracts.

Price comparison website has found, after a survey that 18.4% of small businesses have been rolled over onto a new energy contract by energy providers without their permission.  Nearly one third of those surveyed had been placed on a ‘deemed contract’, where a business will continue to use energy from the same supplier after the fixed term contract ends.   One in six surveyed  were uncertain about the status of their energy contract and half stated that they had problems understanding it.  Approximately 25% of respondents were confused about how to end their current business contract.

For more information about the survey, go to:

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Making Projects Work – Project Management 28th September

Duration:   1 day    Monday 28th September  9.30 -4.30

Course Description: Understanding different project types, their purpose and deliverables can be a complicated process.  choosing the project team, defining outputs, costing, managing the team and time management all need to be considered to ensure a successful outcome.

This one day interactive workshop with short inputs, discussions, diagnostics, exercises and syndicate work will help you understand the role of the project manager and your team.

Who should attend? Anyone working in projects as a team member, team leader or project manager.

What will it cover?

  • Understanding different project types, their purpose and deliverables.
  • Reviewing past projects strengths and weaknesses to identify and differentiate key issues with your projects.
  • Identify, scope and prioritise key outcomes for your projects.
  • Organising projects, teams and steering groups at management level and at frontline level.
  • Knowing how to plan and record project milestones and stages, dependencies and networks.
  • Understanding how to set time scales including Gantt charts.
  • Managing project resources and costs.
  • Building a project team effectively for the best outcomes.
  • Becoming more self aware of your team type (belbin and NLP models) and that of others and to being able to adapt your communication to get the best results out of everyone.
  • Being able to adapt your leadership style to meet changing priorities and time scales.
  • Understanding the importance of outcome quality and how to measure it.
  • Understanding the importance of project documentation for everyone.
  • Understanding project controls and meeting and amending the plan.

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Unfair contract terms guidance published

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has produced guidance documents to help traders comply with forthcoming alterations to unfair contract terms legislation. The alterations will take effect from 1st October 2015, when the remaining provisions of the Consumer Rights Act come into force. The new guidance gives traders information about what makes terms and notices unfair, what risks and penalties they can face when using unfair wording and tips about ensuring terms and notices are fair and clear. The documents range in length from a single-page flowchart to assist when  deciding  whether a contract term is fair or not, to a 144-page ‘long’ manual that explains the changes to the legislation in detail.
The guidance documents are available at:

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Financial guidance should be more accessible.

The Money Advice Trust stated that advice and guidance about financial management should be made more accessible, as many people are not aware of the financial risks they take when becoming self-employed.  According to a survey of small business owners carried out by the Trust, more than a third draw less than £100 a month from their business and 69% of those that had taken out a personal loan were using it to finance their business.  Chief Executive of the Money Advice trust stated: “Advice and information is available, but we believe the Government could do more to make sure the self-employed and other small business owners can access the expert support that can often make the difference between triumph and disaster.”

Read more about the survey at:

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Small Business Commissioner consultation launched.

The Department for Business (BIS) has launched a consultation seeking views on plans to establish a Small Business Commissioner Service.  Primarily, the proposed role of the Commissioner will be to help smaller companies resolve late payment and supply chain disputes without the need to go to court.  the Commissioner service would also assist small companies to access advice, support mediation and conciliation services and have the power to investigate complaints and report on its findings.  The closing date for responses is 21st August 2015.

To read more about the proposals, go to:

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Coaching, Mentoring and Developing your Team workshop – 3rd September 2015

Due to popular demand, Dacorum Borough Council are running another Coaching, Mentoring and Developing your Team workshop on 3rd September 2015, 9.30am to 12.30am at the Maylands Business Centre.

Understanding how to develop your staff is a key management skills. People who are coached and trained properly are more motivated, make less mistakes, are more confident and likely to stay with you. Retaining great staff is key as organisations grow and for smaller businesses the loss of a couple of key members can put a real strain on the effectiveness and growth potential.

Understanding how to coach, mentor and train your existing staff is a very important part of your role as manager or team leader. People have very different learning styles and if you can vary your approach to match their needs you will get a better result.

There are many different types of activity and approaches which can give you significant results in a relatively short period of time. Coaching can be an very effective way of dealing with people whose performance is not meeting expectations and well as those whose performance shows real potential for development.

This workshop explains the difference between coaching, mentoring and training and when to use different methods. You need all of your team to feel like they are valued and are being given the change to develop. Just because someone is very good at one particular role doesn’t mean that’s all they can do. Coaching helps everyone reach their potential and developed people are normally loyal and effective team members.

Who should attend? Anyone who is responsible for developing the skills, knowledge and capability of others.

What will it cover?

Understanding the learning process

Know how to recognise different learning styles

Be able to tailor development approaches to different people who are at different stages

Be able to identify learning needs

Devising a training and coaching plan

Structuring coaching and mentoring

Developing your skills in coaching and mentoring

Understand different development techniques for enhancing learning

Strategies for embedding learning

For further information and to book on please email or telephone 01442 531002.



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Treasury consultation on credit and debit card fees

HM Treasury have instigated a consultation about regulations to cap fees charged by banks to their business customers for processing credit and debit card payments.  Starting December 9th 2015, an EU-wide cap on the charges a business pays to their bank when a client makes a debit or credit card payment will be introduced under the Interchange Fee Regulation.  The consultation is looking for views about how the Regulation will be introduced and managed.  The consultation closes on 29th August 2015.

For further information about the Interchange Fee Regulation, go to:

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