Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Protect your business, safeguard your employees and save money

by Mary Darlington,BSc., CFIOSH, CFCIPD, MIITD, Darlington Consulting
Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner

If something in your business was causing you to lose money, causing your employees to be out of work and threatening services to customer, you would want to do something about it, wouldn’t you? Accidents and injuries at work can cause all of these.

However if you manage health and safety the same way you manage everything else it can allow you to have all your key employees at work when and where you need them, producing the products or delivering the services to keep your customers happy.

Poor health and safety costs money. High productivity and excellent safety are not mutually exclusive. They can and do work hand in hand enabling businesses to be safe and make a profit.

Adopt a Preventative Approach
Preventing of accidents and ill health should be your key aim and it is entirely achievable and cost effective. Preventing and or reducing accidents means lower Employer's Liability insurance and lower costs overall.

Key Steps to good health and safety
1. Get yourself competent advice and help
If you don’t have the expertise in health and safety yourself, buy it in and get started.

2. Outline roles and responsibilities clearly
Make sure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities, give them the tools to meet their responsibilities and then hold them accountable.

3. Train everyone
Train everyone from Chief Executive down so they understand how accidents can be prevented.

4. Set Health and Safety Goals
Set health and safety goals for the business, and individual objectives for all managers

5. Set standards of performance and behaviour
Communicate to all employees what they can expect from you and what you expect from them. Accept nothing less than full compliance.

6. Measure Health and Safety Performance
Measure health and safety performance every month, every year and try to improve over time.

7. Provide resources for health and safety
Provide resources (people, time, money etc.) to manage the health and safety effort and take action. Talking about it or sending emails about it will not make it happen.

8. Integrate Health and Safety into every management decision
Blend health and safety into every management decision you take. Whether you are hiring employees, buying new equipment, launching a new product or service etc., there are health and safety issues that must be can be planned for and managed.

9. Identify and Manage the hazards
Identify the hazards and assess the risks in all your work activity. Eliminate, minimise or control those hazards effectively so that the work can be done in a safe and healthy way.

10. Consult with employees
Management don’t always have all the answers to health and safety problems so consult with those actually doing the job, tap into their expertise and implement practical measures to protect them.

11. Talk about Health and Safety
Management need to give health and safety the same level of importance as the other key business issues such as Finance, Sales, HR etc. Put health and safety on all meeting agendas and be pro-active about it.

12. Use your Moral Barometer
We have lots of health and safety laws and regulations. As well as complying with them Managers need to refer back to their moral barometer often. Before you ask any employee to do something ask yourself the following questions:

• Would I do this task myself?
• Would I allow my own son or daughter to do it?
• Have I given this employee all the training they need to do it?
• Have they got the right equipment?
• Are there logical, practical procedures for them to follow?
• Have I don’t everything as a Manager to protect this employee?

Safety is everybody's business.

Darlington Consulting provides a range of health and safety training and consultancy services. For further information and a free consultation contact:

Mary Darlington
Darlington Consulting
Tel. 086 2437677

11 Questions to test your Business Idea

by Enda Candon, Firstwestern Consulting

If you have a new business idea, or think that you have come up with the next iphone or facebook, here are 11 questions to help you determine if you have or not. Answering these questions honestly and frankly will give you much needed detail for your business plan as well.

1. Are you filling a void?

A clever idea is nothing more than an idea if nobody actually needs the product or service. "You have to determine that there's something actually missing to a specific market--something you're going to supply,"

2. Does the idea pass a live market test?

Many ideas lend themselves to an easy market test to determine if the product or service is needed or popular. A new jam or preserve, for instance, could be tested at a farmer's market before being pitched to retailers. If it doesn't sell at all to the market crowd, the product may need to be re-examined before being launched.

3. Does the idea have shelf life?

Are there upcoming or pending changes in technology that could render your idea obsolete? Companies not on guard for changes in technology or consumer trends can be swept away while competitors move ahead. Or it could be that there is new legislation in the pipeline that will make your product obsolete or unwanted.

4. How large is the market for the idea?

If a business plan requires that you sell to 60% of a potential market in order to make a profit, then the idea isn't realistic. Better business ideas can achieve profits by attaining a smaller market share of 5% to 10%.

5. Is there a high barrier to entry?

The best ideas have high barriers to entry. If an idea is good but not patentable or protectable in some other manner, then there is a risk that other companies and competition could start the same business and over run you.

6. Is the idea scalable?

The best business ideas incorporate plans that can be replicated and easily taught. Therefore can you easily scale up with increased production as the market requires or introduce other new products and services using the same equipment, skills and processes?

7. Can the idea be priced attractively?

There may be a reason why nobody else is already doing what you're thinking about--they can't make any money doing it. You have to run and test the numbers and make sure that the product or service can be offered to the market at a price the market is willing to pay.

8. If it weren't your idea, would you put money into it?

This is a simple question and an important acid test. "If a stranger pitched this idea to you, how likely would it be that you'd buy in?"

9. How much funding will the idea need?

Financing has rarely been easy for entrepreneurs, today's tight market makes things even worse. When it comes to specific business ideas, you have to ask yourself "How much money do you truly need to get the business off the ground?” If the idea will take colossal start up funding, it may be more prudent to examine business ideas with lower budgets.

10. Do industry experts hate your idea? Good.

Just because so-called experts hate an idea doesn't mean it's bad. It can often prove to be a good thing. Many companies are so entrenched that they sometimes don’t see change coming until it is too late and may also under estimate the importance of a new innovations. A major example of this was the introduction of the Dyson vacuum cleaner when all other manufacturers did not see the advantage of a vacuum cleaner without bags.
11. Can you pitch your idea as a business in 20 seconds or less?

Quite simply if you cant state and explain why it’s a good business idea in 20 seconds, then more than likely there isn’t a real opportunity.

See the first western blog at Contact Firstwestern at or e-mail: phone: 071 912 2834

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trading as a Company - The Pro's & Con's

by Neil Gaynor, Gaynor Consulting

There is much debate presently as to merits of incorporating a business (i.e. Trade as a Limited Company). Many Directors of Companies have had to give personal guarantees to financial institutions, thereby reducing or eliminating the benefits afforded by limited liability. However overall there are still more positives than negatives in operating as a limited Company.

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of Incorporation.


• Limited Liability
• Lower Tax charge
• Pension planning advantages
• Motor & Travel expenses for employees (Civil Service rates)
• Potential extraction of surplus money at retirement
• New ventures may qualify for start up exemption (3 Years)


• Higher annual administration and compliance costs
• Close Company tax surcharge
- Investment Income
- Service Companies
• Additional responsibility for Directors

Neil Gaynor & Company, Chartered Accountants, provide Accountancy, Business Advisory, Tax, Training & Mentoring services to small business. For further information and a free consultation contact Neil Gaynor on 071-719144366
or 087-2547941.