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Working From Home – Part 3

There are things you need to consider that you may not have thought of. These include :

1. General Regulations-

  • These are the matters that apply to any business wherever they are based. They tend to be related to your specific business.
  •  Food Hygiene Certificate – required if the business handles food as in catering or Bed and Breakfast
  • Health and Safety- you need to do a proper check of the  premises but only need to put it in writing if you employ five or more people.
  • Commercial Waste- must not go in the wheelie bin but separate arrangement made for collection by  a commercial company
  • Licence  needed- for kennels or home boarding of pets while the owner is on holiday. Registration with the local council is usually required for a Bed and Breakfast. Licence required may vary with each local council so check with them.

2. GDPR

The same rules apply as for an office. They can be harder to enforce in a home. You will have family members and their friends wandering around perhaps not taking you and your work that seriously. Family may want to use your laptop or work table .

Security is still essential. The house must be secure from intruders. Your office preferably must be kept secure from your family and friends. Your filing cabinet must be secure and fire proof.

Issues of Concern –

a. Your Laptop and USB stick– who uses these ? Do your children want to do their homework on your laptop and then borrow your USB stick to take it to school. What could they see on your laptop and what might they share with their friends. What if the USB stick is lost at school. You should make sure these items are solely used for business use.

b. Your Desk- This should be kept clear of papers so that information cannot be seen by anyone walking past. Tidy up at the end of the day an be weary of your children’s friends. They may mean no harm but can cause it.

c. Fire– Consider what you would do if you only have handwritten notes and they are destroyed by fire. Destruction constitutes a data breach . Consider scanning your notes and keeping them in the cloud. It would be bad enough if your house burned down you do not want you business to disappear as well plus have to explain yourself to the ICO.

3. Working Practices

There are lots of solutions on ‘How to Work from Home’ on the internet. These include making yourself work normal office hours. take breaks etc. However the reality is that you do not have to commute so have more time. Your work should not take over your life but equally you can take advantage of your situation. Work in a manner that suits you and your family.If you want to take time off in the afternoon to do the school run and then work in the evening you can. Do however make sure your family knows that you are working and they need to respect that.

Blue House

Your Home and Office

Working From Home – 2 – Do you need Planning Permission ?

Your Home will have Planning Consent for Residential use only unless it is obviously  a commercial property e g one property with a flat over a shop. Working from Home can have several effects.

What you should do if you Work from Home 

If you use part of your home for solely business use then you should apply for planning consent for that part of the property. If you use a building in your garden to manufacture clothing then that is what you should do. However if you have a room that you use partly for work and equally for family use then it is probably not necessary 

The Problems of Applying for Planning Consent

  1. As your home the property will be exempt from Capital Gains Tax when sold. However if part of it is business use then that proportion of the proceeds of any sale would be subject to Capital Gains Tax.
  2. On your home you pay Council Tax. However the part of your home used for business would become subject to Business Rates.
  3. You would have to obtain consent from your mortgage lender to the application. Their mortgage may be conditional on the property being solely residential use so this could be a problem and they may object. It would affect their ability to resell the property.
  4. Your planning application would be advertised and your neighbours made aware of it. 
  5. You may encounter objections to your application from the Council or your neighbours . Possible grounds are noise, smell and deliveries. Visitors and potential employees parking their cars are potential hazards. An increase in traffic on your road however small could be an issue.

Also if you are carrying out any adaptions to a building – eg new walls, new electrics for extra demand – do not forget you will need Building Consent for the work either by applying to the council or employing a contractor able to certify the work. They will also register it with the Council on completion.

Blue House

Your Home/Office

Working From Home 1

  1. Property that you own

If you have a mortgage you should inform your mortgage lender

For a FREEHOLD property

You must check if you have any Covenants registered on your deeds/ Land registry registers

  • They could say that you cannot run a business from the Property.

If you have covenants then

  1. If the property is old then probably any person or business that could enforce them has disappeared or lost interest.
  2. If the property is new or recently built then you need to comply with them. The builder who imposed them is probably still around and able to enforce them. Your neighbours will probably be aware of the covenants if they have only purchased recently.

For a LEASEHOLD property – usually flats or maisonettes

                         Your Home Office

  1. If you Rent Privately

Your Landlord will probably know you are self-employed when you start the tenancy.

However that does not mean they consent to the use of the property for business .

They may assume you have business premises.

They may object to you working from their property.

 

All these situations are a question of degree.

If working from home is you and your laptop then you are unlucky if someone complains about you.

If you are manufacturing from your back room and have employees and lots of deliveries then you would be lucky to avoid a complaint.

 

Next Working From Home 2

Planning Permission – What you need to know.

Why every Business should consider registering their Trademark

                   Protecting Your Business

 

Most small businesses think about registering a Trademark. Many look into it and then as with many legal matters push it to one side for another day.

However why put all that effort into building your business, listening to all that advice on building your brand- then risk someone coming along taking your ideas, branding and reap the benefits.

The Risks

Worse still they can take your branding in a way that your clients assume it is you. They are then given  a poor service for which you then are blamed.

Registered Trademarks are not just for the large business. A small local business can be devastated by someone pretending to be them. With no trademark registration your only action would be to take an action for Passing Off . This is difficult, time consuming and expensive.

Registration is essential if you want to franchise or licence your business. Any person paying you money would expect to have the security of knowing that Brand was yours to sell .

If you do not register your Trademark you should be aware someone else might. Some will even research your business then apply to register your Trademark. They can then commence legal proceedings against you for using their Trademark and perhaps offer to sell it to you. Obviously they would be looking to make a profit from this.

What is a Trademark?

Registering a Trademark is more than just protecting your name and logo.

A Trademark is ‘any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings’. This can be ‘words, (including personal names) designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging’

A Trademark is an asset of your business and if your business is successful it will acquire a monetary value of its own.

A Trademark must be distinctive and thereby unique. It must distinguish your goods or services from other companies offering similar goods and services. It must not describe the products or services.

There are various hoops to jump through and is best taken a step at a time. If you want any help in registering your Trademark please contact us at anne@barkleybusinessservices.co.uk

Terms and Conditions -Five Top Tips

Five Top Tips

Terms and Conditions

  1. Your Terms and Conditions need to be a road map through your business and govern all your procedures. You must consider what you write in detail as the wrong words can have a major impact on your business. They also need to reflect your standards and values. Do you want to be mean to your customers or appear fair and reasonable?
  2. Think of all the problems you have had with clients, products, delivery etc. and all the near misses. You should think through how to avoid a repetition of those situations then put appropriate words to cover yourself into your terms and conditions
  3. Do not lift off the internet. It is like diagnosing an illness on the internet. You might be OK or you might be dead. You need someone who understands the real meaning of the wording to avoid saying something stupid- or dangerous. Do you know what wording would be allowed by a judge and what would be thrown out?
  4. Do not lift your competitors Terms and Conditions as their business and problems may be similar bit will not be identical. Also they could take umbrage especially if you fail to remove their name from everywhere and miss one reference to them which many do.
  5. Be familiar with what your Terms and Conditions  say and make sure you understand what they say. Take the time and trouble to make your Clients read them and also understand them. It is far easier to make sure everyone complies with the Terms and Conditions from the start than have arguments down the line that take everyone’s time and effort let alone the worry.Do not have a long document that cannot be easily read and feels the need to define even the simplest word so that everyone gets lost in the word count and language.

A New Lease? – the pitfalls

If you are thinking about renting a shop them make sure you understand the terms of the  New Lease.

Make sure it is an asset and not a nightmare

Avoid the Pitfalls. Do not sign what is put in front of you unless you know what you are signing. Otherwise you could be committing yourself to three or more years of paying for  a property that is not what you need for your business which can be  a very expensive mistake.

Five Tips

  1. Make sure you negotiate a Break Clause so that if things do not go as well as you hoped you can end the Lease early. Otherwise unless you can find someone to take over the Lease you will have to pay the rent to the end of the term whatever.
  2. Make sure the Lease covers the area that you expected. Ask for  a plan and check it against the Property
  3. Be aware you will probably be expected to leave the property is a good state of repair. If the property needs work to put it into good repair make sure you fit this into your budget. If it is a problem negotiate with the Landlord . There are various options here.
  4. Check that the planning consent is the right one for the use you want. If not get it changed before you sign any documents.
  5. is there a flat above? Make sure the shop and the flat are totally separate. You do not want the tenant of the flat with the right to wander into your shop or your insurance will be invalid.

GDPR-Can you still use USB sticks?

The Risks

Under the terms of GDPR a business is obliged to keep data/information it holds on behalf of an individual safe and undestroyed. Everyone has become used to putting data on USB sticks and other removable storage then carrying them around in pockets/ bags. They are often taken home.

However USB sticks go missing. In a recent survey from Apricorn over 80% of employees said they had lost an USB stick and not told their employers. Under the new rules if a USB stick goes missing it should be reported to the ICO within 72 hours. Explanations will be required.

The question then is was the information encrypted and if not why not.

It is essential that all businesses think carefully about their procedures and how they use USB sticks, Can they safely be taken out of the building?

New protocols will be needed. Staff will need training. Businesses may decide just to put everything in the cloud and forget about USB sticks altogether as IBM has decided to do.

Important Points to take away:

  1. Care is needed where USB sticks come from. They are often given away at trade shows and not scanned for viruses when used. Businesses should provide any necessary removable storage devices to their employees and ban all others.
  2. All sensitive data on removable devices should be encrypted. If the device could be taken out of the premises then encryption should be considered whatever is on it.
  3. Removable devices should be protected by PINs and passwords.
  4. A policy covering the use of removable devices by employees should be put in place.
  5. Staff should be trained as to what is acceptable and what is not
  6. Removable storage devices should be tracked so that the business knows where they are
  7. Procedures should be put in place to ensure any losses are reported to the employer and the employer reports it to the ICO

A business can lose data through hacking. They should not just give it away on a little stick. Under the new rules more care is needed.

  There are lots of types of removable storage .                    The risks now need managing

GDPR – Important points you may have missed

  1. It does cover Paper Records not just online. They must be kept safely not in a box in the corner and preferably with safe copies elsewhere.
  2. Laptops, desktops are they password protected? Do you have a good antivirus? They must be kept secure.
  3. Is your building secure? Can anyone enter unnoticed? Do you have  a record of visitors ? Are your doors kept locked?
  4. Memory sticks– are they taken off site ? Are they encrypted? The crown prosecution service has been fined over £300.000 for losing CDs of witness statements. You must be extra careful
  5. Is your data backed up properly? You are responsible for avoiding the destruction of data so do not lose it through computer collapse or flood fire etc. 
  6. GDPR says you must delete an individual’s data on request. Be careful as you have a legal obligation to keep your records including your data. HMRC says seven years and it is six years limitation on legal claims.So do not be too keen to delete data and find yourself in a mess elsewhere.
  7. Do not assume that because you are small it does not apply. It applies to all small businesses even those that collect invoices and hand them to their accountant.
  8. GDPR covers all data held by a business and is not just about marketing . It is just that is where all the noise has come from
  9. Fines and standards required will be relative to the business. Small businesses unless extremely bad will just be guided to the proper course. Large companies with big budgets who should know better will be fined.
  10. The ICO is looking for an effort to comply in initial stages. do not worry if you are not perfect.

    Not a cliff edge to fall off or climb.

GDPR Essentials- A Privacy Notice

Under the GDPR rules that come in this May every business that uses data needs Privacy Notice. This is wider than those Privacy Policies many have on their websites as these just relate to the website itself.

The Changes

Your new Notice must relate to all your data that you use or collect in your business. You must also set out the rights of anyone regarding data you hold on them. This includes the right to ask what personal information is held on them. There are strict rules regarding how such questions must be dealt with.

What you must tell anyone whose data you hold
  1. When you collect information
  2. Why you collect data. You must comply with one of the lawful grounds set out in GDPR.
  3. What data you will collect
What steps you will take to keep their data safe

You must ensure you take adequate steps to keep data safe. This includes security on your computer and website against hacking etc. If manual notes are kept these must be kept in a secure location safe from fire or other destruction and theft. Obviously it would be wise to consider more than one copy for manual information.

What you will do with data you hold

This includes how long you will keep any data and why it will be kept for that period. You must be able to justify the length of time under GDPR. Aside from that you need to keep client records for at least six years so you have them should you receive any claims against you and need to defend yourself. Similarly HMRC may investigate you and you may need to show them exactly what work you carried out with details. Think this all through before removing any data.

Sending Privacy Notice to Subscribers/Clients

You are obliged to send a copy of your GDPR compliant Privacy Notice to anyone whose data you hold and this includes subscribers to your website etc.

There is no need to panic about GDPR. They are  a set of rules designed by government officials to control larger companies with lots of marketing staff who send out material in large annoying quantities. The smaller businesses have just been caught up in all this and will be struggling to run their businesses if they comply with the letter of the new regulations. There will therefore be a period of adjustment when it is decided how the rules will actually affect small businesses in practice so they are still able to function.

Not a cliff edge to fall off or climb.

 

 

Getting Paid

Getting Paid

Tips for making sure you are paid

If you are not paid there is no point in doing the work.

Our tips for steps you can take to minimize your risk of not getting paid are:

  1. Who are you doing business with? It is a personal judgment of a client’s character and a professional judgment of their situation. There are businesses offering all manner of pre-contract credit checks. These checks can make sure that a potential client /business is sound before you start any work and laying out your time

 

  1. Make it totally clear what you are going to do or supply . Both sides should be clear on this and there is no room for doubt. Any description needs to state the details not just give a vague overview as many do. To build a house sounds simple until you appreciate that there are many variations on house. Ideally you should both sign a contract . This can be is a major step in getting paid.

 

 

  1. Make sure you have unique readable Terms and Conditions for your business . Your client must have the opportunity to read these. Ideally the client must read these carefully

 

  1. Make you Payment Terms clear from the outset whether they are seven days or sixty days. Mention these terms personally to the Client and ask if that causes any problems. The client then has the opportunity to tell you that your terms do not fit with how they are themselves paid and will cause problems. You can then discuss this before you start not find out after the work is done and you want payment.

 

 

  1. Make sure the work done complies with what was agreed at the start . Any amendments should be agreed in writing. This reduces the room for the Client to say you have not done exactly what was agreed and argue about paying you.

You do not want to get involved with debt collectors and courts as this is just time and money. So take all basic steps to avoid getting to that point in the first place.

That Balancing Act