Welcome back for this week’s roundup of news that matters! Our post today takes a closer look at the UK’s self-employed (Sole Traders) – some things to be aware of (or watch out for) and resources from which you can benefit.
[tweet_dis]It’s a ‘given’ that for every rule created there’s going to be people looking for a ‘loophole,’ and online reviews is no exception.[/tweet_dis] What seemed like such a great idea on concept has become (yet again) something to be regulated and from which we must be protected.
Kudos to Amazon for standing up and taking this public in a very large way – they have filed a suit against 1,114 defendants who used Fiverr’s global work-for-hire website to post fake customer reviews for $5 USD (£3.25). This is the second campaign by Amazon to eliminate untrustworthy testimonials, as they also went after websites which specifically marketed review services in April 2015. Fiverr representatives say they have responded by removing users who have violated their terms by producing inappropriate content.
As a new entrepreneur, you should stay on top of your brand and its online reputation. [tweet_dis]If a complaint should post about your business, get to it quickly and try to turn it into a positive experience (for the customer and the readers). [/tweet_dis]Everyone understands that mistakes happen to the best of us – it’s what we do about it that makes the difference. Sure, the incident is right in front of the world at large, but that’s just the point – take the chance to show your appreciation for the chance to improve your customer service.
Not everyone has taken the route to self-employment as an outright choice. Downsizing and shifts in technology have displaced those who may have remained in corporate positions, had they been given the chance. More women have taken on the role of home-based enterprisers over the past decade. Many sole traders are below pension age, are now renting their homes, and more are living in poverty than 10 years ago.[tweet_dis_img][/tweet_dis_img]
“Over the past 10 years the number of self-employed has increased by 1.25m and now makes up 14.5% of the workforce,” says Alison Blackwood, Senior Campaigns Officer. These figures, and more, from their new Citizens Advice report, are the inspiration for a new campaign to gain support for responsive self-employed rights and policies:
- Self-employed people should have the same simple systems as employees to encourage them to save for retirement;
- Self-employed parents should be better supported to balance family life and work;
- The self-employed should not be disadvantaged by planned reforms to income tax and national insurance;
- Newly self-employed people should have specialist and flexible welfare support to allow their business time to develop to its full potential;
- No employee should be forced into self-employment or wrongly classed as self-employed.
With some guidance and motivation – made possible with information made public, a sharing of resources, and inclusion from government policies – many newly self-employed residents have a chance at standing on their own.
No, this isn’t the usual post about ‘buy my ebook and get rich quick!’ Author John Rampton has some great pointers on how to thrive as a ‘lifestyle entrepreneur.’ Ever imagine living your dream anyplace in the world with just a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. Well, it’s possible.
However, before you go taking off for that thatched hut on the island of your choice, there’s a bit more to consider. According to Ramptom, a lifestyle entrepreneur also requires “fantastic ideas, great skills, and a jack-of-all-trades mentality.” Tapping into the 2.5 billion users online daily takes some careful planning.
First, your target market must have money, or they won’t be able to afford you in the first place. Next are four tips to getting there: build a website, test your ideas and adapt, grow your audience, and charge what you’re worth.
Helpful Information And Support Resources For Self-Employed Sole Traders:
It’s worthwhile to walk through this Sole Trader tutorial by the HM Revenue Customs department on starting your business. You will be introduced to registering your business, acquiring National Insurance, keeping records, finding out which expenses you can claim against revenue, how to file a Self Assessment, making payments and additional guidance when your business grows (VAT and employee regulations).
Linkilaw has also published several posts specific to home-based or sole trader businesses, including:
- Big Challenges For Home-Based Businesses
- Is Your Home-Based Business Legal?
- Taxes and Your Home Based Business
- Sole Traders: Are You Really On Your Own?
- Is Owning Your Own Business For Everyone?
- Should You Go Into Business With A Partner?
- Why Work-Life Balance Matters For Startup Owners
Though civil court is a venue often sought as a path around lengthy hearings, unfortunately some folks who should benefit from the service are finding themselves out of luck. According to author, Emily Dugan, “Soaring civil court fees are pricing people on low incomes and small businesses out of justice and letting banks and other big businesses off the hook for bad behaviour.”
Apparently fifty magistrates have tendered their resignations due to the rising fees; in obvious alignment with those who say the Criminal Courts Charge is encouraging guilty pleas to avoid the substantial costs of losing after a full hearing.
Up-front costs could impact the self-employed by not allowing them to enforce their rights through the simpler civil court system. If you have a legitimate grievance, it may be handled by utilising Linkilaw’s fixed-rate legal services provided by online lawyers, without retainers and drawn out solutions.
September 2015 marked the 500th anniversary of RJ Balson Butcher Shop – and Richard Balson threw a party befitting the occasion at his town hall, with 300 guests and canapés and wine served up by Tudor ‘wenches.’ Author Harry Wallop relates how the little market town of Bridport, Dorset “has survived the Reformation, the English Civil War, the start of the Industrial Revolution, the end of horsepower, the rise of the Internet and more recessions than you can shake a black pudding at.”
Balson isn’t worried about supermarkets. He says, “The main thing is personal service. When you come in, you get a nice welcome, you say, ‘how’s your mum?’ And he’s been serving several generations of the families who drop by his shop for everything from Scotch eggs and sliced chorizo to frozen game like bison, crocodile and even kangaroo.
[tweet_box design=”default”]“We’ve survived plagues, fires, floods, wars, recessions and food scares. There’s always something bad for you, but if you listened to everything, you wouldn’t eat anything. You’ve got to enjoy life rather than living on nuts and being miserable.”
Richard Balson, RJBalson Butcher Shop[/tweet_box]
We were so intrigued by this topic, we had to include this list from the post as well:
The Top 10 Oldest UK Family Businesses: