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Six Common Accountancy Questions and Answers

Here are six of the commonest questions that people ask about accounts – or in fact sometimes don’t dare ask, because they think they ought to know. But everyone has to start somewhere, so let’s deal with the half dozen questions that we get asked most frequently.

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1. Should I trade as a limited company or as a self-employed sole trader?

In terms of tax efficiency, if your profit before tax is over £25,000, you will probably be better off trading as a limited company. Also, your personal assets outside the business are protected. However, there’s quite a lot more to do when you trade as a limited company, so the best thing is to talk to us and see whether it would work in your circumstances.

2. What am I allowed to claim against my business revenue?

If you’re a sole trader, you can use a government scheme called “simplified expenses” – see here for details: https://www.gov.uk/simpler-income-tax-simplified-expenses. In general, the rule is that you may only claim items that are bought solely for business purposes. Mileage and car expenses are complicated, but Cheltenham accountants Randall and Payne will be able to advise you on this.

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3. Can I get my tax rates reduced?

No – they are the same for everyone and are never reduced for individuals.

4. What should go on an invoice?

If you aren’t registered for VAT, you just need your business name and address, what you’re invoicing for and how much you are invoicing. If you are VAT registered, you must show the VAT amount. If you’re confused about this, talk to Cheltenham Accountants Randall & Payne, who can explain it clearly to you.

5. Do I need a business bank account?

You probably do, and it certainly makes organising your finances and completing your tax return much easier. It will help you to separate your personal and business spending.

6. What is a UTR?

This stands for Unique Taxpayer Reference, and it’s your unique 10-digit number for tax purposes. You need it when you go online to do your self-assessment tax return if you’re a sole trader.

That’s our six questions dealt with – hopefully, it’s cleared up a few queries and pointed you in the direction of some help for your accounts.

Why dogs bark and what they are trying to communicate

There are many different reasons for dogs to bark and they may be trying to express different emotions. Working out what your dog wants to communicate can help you to understand how they are feeling and to react appropriately.

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Why dogs bark

Barking can be a way for your dog to express excitement or distress, a way to attract your attention or to warn other dogs or people to keep away from their territory. Barking would originally have been an alarm call, but you should be able to understand the meaning of different sounding barks.

Differences in pitch

A dog bark can be low pitched, medium pitched or high pitched, and the differences in pitch can mean different things. A low pitched bark could indicate that your dog is trying to sound threatening and aggressive, possibly to protect you from perceived threats. According to Psychology Today this is because larger things make lower sounds, and that by lowering the pitch of their bark, your dog is trying to sound bigger.

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A medium pitched bark may mean that your dog is excited, as they may be when you produce their dog collars and leads.

A high pitched bark is more likely to mean that your dog feels insecure or frightened. You may be able to work out what has upset them and remedy the situation. A high pitched bark may also mean that it is safe to approach the dog.

Differences in duration

The length of time your dog barks for is also relevant. For example, one yelp may mean they are hurt whilst several short barks could mean they are frightened.

Long, low pitched barks may indicate that your dog feels defensive whilst frequent barks could mean that they are worried about a potential attack.

Other noises dogs make

In addition to barking, dogs may also sigh when they are feeling content.

When you fetch Dog Collars and Leads your dog may whine with anticipation for a walk. Whining may also mean that they want another form of attention.

If your dog howls, it could mean that they have separation anxiety if you go out and leave it alone.

You and your dog will understand each other better over time, and you will come to know how they feel from the noises they make.

12 Things You Really Should Know About SEO

Studies show that over 90% of all online users use search engines to find what they are looking for, whether products/services, or just plain old information.

The following twelve points will, I hope, summarize a philosophy, approach and methodology to the SEO question which is both sound and effective, along with giving some helpful insight into the industry itself.

1. Content. Content. Content.
Effective, professional, optimized Copywriting is the single, most important factor in any SEO campaign. Search engines index websites based on the content found on each page of the site. With a thorough understanding of the language and grammatical conventions combined with intensive research, to find and exploit the market focus, one can move a website to the upper echelon of the “SERP’s” (Search Engine Results Page) in a methodical as well as ethical manner.

2. Analyze Web Logs.
Measure everything, at least twice, and then check again. While I would be the first to say that many of the procedures that make up website optimization are more art than science, one needs to take a very scientific approach to the results of the effort. This is done by methodically keeping a record of, and making an analysis of the sites web logs. There are a number of specialized software which make the job easier but at the bare minimum, one needs to keep a close eye on the site visitors and their activity while on the site. No matter how well planned the strategy, it is largely theoretical until proven by the results, which can only be measured by the logs, and a thorough analysis of their content.

3. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google, or any other search engine.
Those who promise such feats will either optimize for such vague search term phrases (such as, “green stunted widgets with purple Polka-dots and icing”) that no one will ever likely look for, or they are making a false claim, which they have no intention of keeping, or they have an inside edge at Google, something which they will loose, quickly, when the honest folks at Google find out about it. The other option, that they will take the money and run, is worth mentioning here but I’ll be polite.

4. Some things are just plain silly.
You don’t need to submit your site to 50,000 search engines. Businesses which offer this service are suspect, at best. 85% of the search results on the Internet come from one search engine, which, if you have one link from an established website, or better yet, a directory, will find your site just fine, on it’s own. Four (4) search engines account for over 90% of the traffic on the web. As for any supposed benefit which may accrue from being listed in an obscure search engine in Botswana which specializes in safaris to the Kalahari Desert and receives 7 hits per day; well, you figure it out.

5. SEO is not Pay-per-Click.
While no one would argue the effectiveness of getting increased traffic and sales, through a well planned, pay-per-click campaign, the fact remains that the conversion rates are generally low and they cease the moment the “pay” stops. With a well planned and executed SEO campaign, while results may take a bit longer, they continue to produce, and in fact grow, long after the work is done and paid for. Quite often we have found that after a thorough optimization of a site, only minor adjustments are needed on an ongoing basis, primarily related to new content and/or new items of sale or service.

6. SEO is not witchcraft, Druidism, shamanism.
Neither does it require any special chants, ceremonial fires, or vestments, though some of us do like to howl at the full moon, on occasion. There are no “Top Secret” practices which a reputable SEO can not tell a client, a judge, or his mother, for that matter. The very nature of the Internet has always been cooperative and there is nothing about SEO that can’t be learned, with a heavy dose of time and money. A reputable SEO firm will give you an item per item breakdown of just where the money goes. Be wary if you sense a secretive atmosphere or any unwillingness to answer questions. While there are technical points which might take some background to fully understand, if one has a solid overview of the entire situation, a simple explanation should be easy enough to come up with.

7. Do-it-yourself SEO.
Yes, you can execute your own SEO campaign and find a reputable SEO firm to help plan and organize it for you. About one half of my own clientele do some part of the actual work themselves, or have their in-house dedicated personnel do it, after discussion of the goals and aims of the business/website, a thorough website analysis, comprehensive search phrase research, and focused instruction on the ways and means of achieving high SERPs. These preliminaries are followed up with a detailed program of suggestions and methods which the client can then implement themselves or hire others to perform. Average savings; 30-40%.

8. Phased Implementation.
While many companies spend thousands of dollars per month on Search Engine Optimization, an alternative is available which will pay dividends to you in increased sales and leads without the high initial investment. The most important consideration is to have a reputable firm handle the initial evaluation and suggested optimization planning first. The trial and error method will cost much more, in the long run, with or without the desired result. After studying the plan and establishing a workable budget you may implement the plan as finances allow.

9. Remember the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Never was this more true than in the realm of SEO. While concrete and measurable gains will always come from a well thought out and executed optimization strategy, the Internet is a competitive media and we all want to be number one. Accept that a steady upward movement, over time, will place you worlds ahead of a flash followed by a crash.

10. A thought to ponder.
At stake, in the race for the top, is the very existence of your website, your business, and quite possibly your reputation. Beware of any “shortcuts” or less than ethical schemes that anyone might suggest to further your business goals. When it’s all said and done it is you, the business owner, who bears the responsibility for any company or individual you hire. Insist on knowing exactly what the strategy is and what steps are being performed to implement it. If it seems, in the least, suspicious, ask for and get an explanation. In this case, not only is Ignorance not bliss, it could very well be the beginning of the end for your business.

11. All incoming links are not created equal.
Both the relevance to your line of business and website subject matter and the PR value of the incoming link determine how valuable they are to your own PR ranking. With Google starting the trend, nothing new there, and most of the others following close behind, the days of grabbing all the inbound links, in any way possible, are gone. Not only will low ranked and/or irrelevant inbound links not help, they will, in fact, cause a penalty. Link farms, free-for-all link schemes, automated link accumulation software, or any other fad that doesn’t carefully screen the links and websites they are coming from will, in the long run, do more harm than good.

12. It’s more than just facts and figures.
The relationship between an online business and SEO is, perhaps, one of the closest of business relationships. In order to be effective, a SEO must know not only the facts and figures pertaining to the endeavor, but s/he must know something of the dreams and aspirations of the business principals. Things which don’t normally come out in a prospectus are often invaluable information when searching for the “right fit” into the complex world of the Internet. My own clients sometimes ask, due to the frequency of my calls and email in the early phases, “Am I your only client?” I usually laugh and say something to the effect that until I know your business almost as well as you do, yes, you are the only one that counts.

10 Tips For Raising Your Search Engine Rankings

Search engine rankings are an important factor to consider when you have a website that needs more traffic. If your website doesn’t have a good position in the rankings then no-one will find it, so you need to make sure that your website is ranked highly enough to be seen. The other important quality to getting high traffic to your site is having a nice arsenal of links. The more links that you have to your site the more traffic you will get, but also, the more links to your site the more search engines like your site. Keeping a nice supply of links pointing at your site requires similar precautions and practices as getting high search engine listings.

Although no SEO company can guarantee a high ranking for your site, here are some tips for raising your search engine ranking. Using these tips will not get you to the top unless your site is the best out there, but they will at least put you into the positioning that you truly deserve. After all, the internet is basically a free market. You will naturally flow into the place that you deserve and many search engines try to insure that you do not rise above or fall below this position. This is why they are so strict, and this is why you must keep yourself on good terms with them.

1) Content is an important factor in high search engine rankings. Make sure that you have plenty of content throughout your site with your target keywords in the articles. It’s also worth doing a search for websites similar to yours and taking a look at their articles for ideas. The more content you have the better. It is generally a good idea to have between three hundred and five hundred words per page, but more important than a quantity of content is the quality of the content that you are providing. You cannot just put out three hundred words of jargon and expect your visitors to find it interesting and stick around for the long haul.

2) Your website’s URL can help you rank higher with the search engines if it contains your keywords. However, don’t think that naming your site after your keywords will always help your rankings – you need to do more than just that.

3) Search terms should be written out in text, instead of graphics. If you do use pictures, be sure to give them alt tags. The alt tags in your pictures are almost as important as text. It’s also a good idea to put some of your key words in links to other pages. In the eyes of a search engine it is almost as good to have a link to a page full of the content that the visitor is looking for as it is to have the content that the visitor is looking for on your page. If a visitor is looking for something that you are linking to and he or she finds your page, they may look around your site on the way through.

4) The title of your page is very important, and making sure that you choose it wisely will make a big difference. Terms such ‘free article on safe children’s toys’, or ‘contact the children’s toy expert today’ are good to use as titles, for example – they would get you a high ranking. The title area is the most important place to include your keyword phrases, so make sure that you put them all in.

5) The navigation menu that appears on each page of your website should include your page’s title.

6) Don’t just use the most popular keyword phrases – the market is so competitive that you should be sure to include some niche keywords too.

7) Make sure that you don’t have a lot of irrelevant links on your site. The more closely related to your site your links are, the better your chances of being ranked in a higher position.

8) You need to periodically update the content of your website, even if it’s only a slight change, as websites like sites that are kept updated.

9) You need to consider the fact most search engines don’t like automatic submissions or multiple submissions – submit once, manually.

10) Always be on the look out for SEO news – staying up to date and using the latest techniques will help you stay one step ahead of your competition.

Signs that it’s time for a house move

Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of a move but just can’t decide if the time is right. Sometimes you just know and other times you could be in two minds. Here are some signs that could be an indication it’s time to get packing and head for pastures new:

1. Things have become cramped
One of the most common signs that it’s time to move on is when your family outgrows its current pad. If you began in a starter home, chances are that a few children later, your home is no longer meeting your needs. As time passes and families grow, what once seemed adequate is now a source of stress. If you’ve started to notice storage boxes stacked up in rooms, never being able to get into the bathroom, children squabbling because of a bedroom-share and no room for furniture you desire – then you have outgrown your current home. If some re-organisation hasn’t solved the issue, then it’s time to look for something bigger.

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2. You’re rattling around
The other extreme is the ‘empty nest’ syndrome. If your kids have flown the nest, you might begin to dislike the space that you’ve been left in. Many families choose to downsize when they reach this point in their lives. Why feel the need to clean empty bedrooms? Too much additional space could also be making you feel down if you no longer have so many family members around. A downsize means less cleaning, less maintenance and lower bills. For a professional Bristol Removals Company, visit http://www.imoveremovals.co.uk/

3. Neighbourhood is going downhill

A change in your neighbourhood could be spurring you on to leave the area. What might have been a lovely and friendly place when you first moved in might have experienced deterioration over time, a change in demographics and an increase in crime for many reasons. Perhaps it’s become much busier, noisier or slowly abandoned. It’s not just your safety that might be concerning you but also your investment and a decline in property prices in the area.

4. Your home is costing you too much
Are you forever shelling out on endless maintenance needs? If your home is old, the state of repairs might become too much for your family at some point. It could be more practical and sensible to move than to continually pour money into a dilapidated property. At the point where it costs more to maintain than its worth, you definitely need to move on.

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5. You’re just not happy

You don’t need a specific reason but if you just don’t feel happy in your current home then a change could be just what you need. Quality of life is everything and if you feel you’re suffering, you must take action. If the thought of moving feels you with excitement and joy, then be honest with yourself and consider whether it’s time to move.

Why Drivers Could Face a Hefty Fine If They Make This MOT Mistake

The MOT test as we know it is changing. There are several ways in which the traditional system is being altered, but the one that motorists will probably be most worried about is the one that could land them with a hefty fine.

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Here’s what you need to know about the new system of rules.

Changes to the MOT Test

According to the RAC, new MOT rules have been brought in so that the UK can comply with an EU directive on roadworthiness. At this time, the UK is still a member of the EU and so the directive applies.

Drivers will be able to take their vehicle in for a MOT test a month prior to the date that it is actually required. However, if enough faults are found to fail the vehicle, it cannot be driven on the road until the repairs are completed, even though, technically, it still has a valid test. If a driver is caught driving such a vehicle, they can be fined up to £2,500.

When you use a Gloucester MOT test centre such as http://swiftfit.uk.com/gloucester-mot/, any faults that will be categorised as either ‘minor’, ‘major’ or ‘dangerous’.

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A ‘minor’ fault will not stop your car from passing the roadworthiness test but will be notified to you so that you can get it dealt with soon. It is similar to the current ‘advisory’ system that operated previously. A ‘dangerous’ or a ‘major’ fault makes a vehicle unsafe to drive.

The best advice is that vehicles with ‘dangerous’ defects should not be on the road.

Diesel Car MOTs

There has been a lot of concern about the emissions from the exhausts of diesel cars, especially about particulates. These are tiny particles that can get into the lungs and cause damage.

There are tighter rules about emissions from diesel cars. Any vehicle that was first used from 2014 onwards will have to comply with some new smoke limits. If the MOT tester starts up the car and there is visible smoke coming out of the exhaust, the car will fail the MOT immediately.

There are also some stricter checks on reversing lights and daytime running lights. In addition, your front fog lights will be checked, and the tester will be looking for fluid leaks.

Four reasons to buy a push mower

A lawn enhances the appearance of any garden and is a great place to sit out and to let the children (and pets) play. It will need some maintenance to keep it looking its best and mowing the lawn is the most common weekend gardening chore.

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Most gardens in the UK do not have huge lawns and so families do not necessarily need a petrol or electric mower. It is perfectly possible to keep the lawn looking great using a push mower. This is a mower that is powered simply by you pushing it around the lawn.

Whilst they may not be appropriate if you have several acres of land, there are compelling reasons for choosing a push mower in preference to the electric and petrol-driven versions.

Here are four of them.

1. They are kind to the environment

According to gardening expert Lia Leendertz, lawns are not regarded as particularly environmentally friendly. We are encouraged to grow patches of moss instead. However, if you want to retain a lawn, and most people do, you can offset some of the environmental damage by using a push mower rather than one that is powered by fossil fuels. You will reduce your carbon footprint.

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2. They save you money

Push mowers are good for your budget. They are cheaper to purchase than other models and they cost nothing in fuel! There will be no expensive repairs. They usually only require a little sharpening to keep them going. If you do need to maintain them, you will be able to do it yourself using Mountfield spares from a supplier such as https://www.diyspareparts.com/parts/mountfield/. There are no expensive engines to maintain.

3. They are easy to use and safe

You don’t have to refuel them or worry about maintaining a complex engine. You don’t have to worry about what to do if they do not start. There are no trailing cables to get in your way when you are mowing and no danger of electrocution. You don’t have to invest in circuit breakers or extension leads that will reach the top of your garden.

4. They are quiet

Not everyone wants to be woken up by the sound of a lawnmower on a Sunday morning! With a push mower you can maintain your lawn whenever you want without annoying anyone.

Why summer is the best time to hire a commercial cleaning service

Our thoughts turn to many things during the summer months, such as holidays, picnics, barbecues, cricket and the seaside. Something we tend not to think about is cleaning, but perhaps we should. The warmer weather provides perfect breeding conditions for bacteria, flies and other nasties; in addition, it is a time when many of us can suffer allergies caused by pollen and dust.

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To keep your business premises safe and pleasant for your staff, customers and visitors, the summer is an ideal time to engage a cleaning service. This can also help to avoid problems such as sick building syndrome.

Cleaner office

There are a number of issues that become more acute in warmer weather. Summer means pollen -however good your ventilation or air conditioning system, people will bring this in on their clothes and shoes. Allergy sufferers will therefore not be at their most productive. A thorough clean can help to tackle this problem and the summer is a good time to do it, as the warmer weather helps to dry out newly-shampooed carpets.

Office bins needed to be emptied regularly, especially in summer when food waste can lead to smells and a build-up of bacteria. In kitchen areas, food waste and spillages need to be cleaned up, and preparation areas – even if only for tea and coffee making – need to be kept clean and pleasant to use.

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If you are looking for a commercial cleaning company Cheltenham offers a number, such as http://cleaningcompanycheltenham.co.uk/, that will be happy to quote you for the work.

Clean learning

Commercial cleaning is not just for offices, of course. School premises also need cleaning and the summer, when no pupils are present, is the ideal time to do a thorough job. This means you can get rid of any build-up of dust and dirt in classrooms and corridors and prevent the growth of bacteria that would inevitably follow.

Regular cleaning is also important, of course, as pupils inevitably bring dirt from outside activities into school corridors. An ongoing cleaning contract can be supplemented by a holiday period deep clean. A clean and tidy school environment is better for both teachers and students, enabling them to be more productive and better able to concentrate on their work.

Reasons to go clubbing

Yes, life is hectic, but you must remember to let your hair down sometimes. All work and no play make for a dull existence indeed! There are always excuses not to go out clubbing, from the cost to the fact that you’re exhausted from a busy week at college or work. However, nothing beats the feeling you get from forgetting all your worries and dancing the night away. Here are some top reasons for you to go clubbing this weekend:

Celebrate the weekend

Got nothing to celebrate? Why not just revel in the joy of the weekend? Weekends were invented for fun, so throw off the shackles of the working week and reset your soul with some great music, amazing friends and a few cheeky drinks for medicinal purposes of course!

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You’re human

Humans are social beings. We need interaction. Technology is fast killing off the last remaining vestiges of these social skills, so fight back and go and talk to people. If you’re lucky, you might even get to dance with some of these human beings too. Leave your devices at home and go mingle. You know you’ll enjoy it!

It’s been a tough week

After a tough week at work, it’s important for our mental and physical well-being that we release some stress and do something that makes us smile. What better medicine is there than being silly in a club with your mates? Leave your worries at work and go bust some moves. It’s a primal instinct, so don’t fight it.

You shouldn’t play video games all weekend

You could, and you would, but you shouldn’t. It’s not healthy. Put down your controller and go dance with some other people. It’s much more life-affirming and great exercise too! For Cheltenham Nightclubs, visit https://www.undertheprom.com/

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You could meet the one

Single? Well, you’re not going to meet ‘the one’ by watching Netflix on your own all weekend. Get yourself out there. Even if you don’t meet ‘the one’, you might make new friends and meet fascinating new people.

Practise your dance moves

Where better to perfect those moves than a crowded dance floor? You can lose yourself in the crowd, not care what others think and nail those moves.

Support the local scene

This one is super important and directly helps your local economy. If you’ve ever needed an excuse to go clubbing, then you can say it’s your civic duty to do so. If it’s important to you to support local musicians, DJs and events – from the small to the better-known, then grab your gang and head to these local events and special nights. It’s your support and the support from others like you that keep the bars open and the music playing.

Garage Door Renewal

Don’t we all search for new methods and design tricks to renew our homes? Who doesn’t get bored looking at the same arrangement of furniture and the worn garage doors? Who said that garage doors cannot be beautiful and follow the latest trends of design? Beautifying your garage door is part of home improvement and increases the value of your home.

You cannot do much about the dimension and size of your door since you have a limited space in your garage, but you can make other changes depending on your budget.

Complete garage door and garage door parts replacement

If you are thinking of buying a new garage door or proceed with garage door opener replacement, you have many options. You can choose between aluminum overhead doors, for example, and wooden ones and that won’t be an easy choice since selecting the material is vital to the aesthetics of your door.

  • Metallic garage doors are very popular due to their low cost, easy service and durability. You can find amazing metallic doors, but they will never be as beautiful as wooden doors.
  • You can choose wood doors, if you can afford it, but you must know that wood costs more and requires frequent maintenance. This means that you will keep paying for it in the future; though, their excellent insulation efficiency will cut down from your electricity bill expenses.
  • If you want to emphasize on aesthetics and have a sunny garage, the glass garage doors will catch your eye and will definitely transform your home. Experts of Houston garage doors would tell you that glass doors need special care, but they can assist you with installation and future garage door repairs. It’s wise to take advantage of their long experience and know-how and consult them for matters concerning your garage door.

Renewing your garage door implies maintenance

Some old garage doors just have faded colors or rust and no mechanical problems, but mold or rust may eventually destroy their material as well. Hence, you must remove the rust or mold off the door before proceed with repainting it. This is a tiresome task and, thus, if you don’t know how to do it or simply don’t have the time to do it, you should seek professional assistance. In any case, it is essential to do garage door maintenance before you take care of the aesthetical part of your door. You cannot have a beautiful door, which doesn’t work.

Before you decide on the color, you should search the market for your options. There are amazing colors, but you must make sure they match the appearance of the whole house. Of course, you can always ask someone to paint a picture on the big surface of the door or put a special garage door poster. You can find an amazing collection in the market at great prices. The best thing about these alternative solutions is that you can replace them easily, if you get tired of them. There are innumerable options out there that can renew the surface of your door; you just have to find them.

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