Tips For Sorting Out Office Problems

Working in an office is very good. Office jobs are usually jobs that you can leave at the door when you are going home and you don’t have to worry about them.

A lot of people get fed up with their current situation will turn to an office job because they know that they might not experience as much stress. However, office jobs are not without problems and if the job has deadlines, you could still experience a high level of stress.

If you work in an office, or you are the supervisor, you will know that things can go wrong between the members of staff. Read on for more information about office related problems and how to resolve the issues.

Staff Members Arguing

One of the most prevalent issues among staff members is when they aren’t getting along. Arguments will flare up over the littlest thing and it causes an atmosphere within the office.

Atmospheres are not conducive to a good working environment, so you need to put a stop to these arguments once and for all. The first step will be getting the two members of staff to sit down and work it out.

You could find the root of the problem and they might even end up being friends. If that does not work then you have to move them away from each other. Seat them at different ends of the office so that they are not close enough to argue.

If they are still arguing, then you have to consider moving one of them to a different office, or you will have to take disciplinary action against them. You can’t let arguments simmer and you can’t have the opinion that it will all blow over. If you do this, then the argument could turn into a physical fight and you might end up having to fire both members of staff.

Stealing Office Supplies

You should not get surprised if members of staff end up stealing from the office. They won’t steal massive things, it will just be bits of stationary here and there and you might even thing that confronting them is not worth the trouble.

However, if they then come to you and say that you need to buy stationary, then it can become a big issue, especially if you have to buy new stationary over and over.

The best course of action here is to face the culprit, but to do it discreetly. Don’t do it in front of everyone. Then you should put a sign up saying that stationary and office furniture is the property of the company, and you should see a change in the behavior.

Car Parking Issues

A lot of offices have restricted parking, so you should have allocated everyone with a parking space of their own. However, if you notice that people are coming in earlier and earlier and they are arguing a lot, then there could be an issue with the parking spaces.

If the wrong people are using the spaces, then you will either have to number the spaces or put names on the spaces. Have a sign that says people for towed if they park in the wrong space.

If this still does not work, then you have no choice but to issue locks for the spaces. Parking locks are made so that they get installed in the middle of the space and there is a raised barrier so that the space gets block. The barrier will only lower when the correct car drives into the space.

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Best-In-Class Is Not Necessarily Best-For-You

Everyone is constantly talking about best-in-class, and very often, for the wrong reasons, labeling themselves as such or indicating that is what they strive for. According to the business dictionary, best-in-class is defined as:

“Highest current performance level in an industry, used as a standard or benchmark to be equaled or exceeded. Also called best of breed.”

So what is this thing that many companies strive for, and is it truly what they should be trying to achieve? Sometimes by focusing on best-in-class, are we missing what is best-for-you?

No two businesses are exactly the same — that is a truism. Comparatives are always interesting and knowing what others are doing is of value — what is working or what is not. But there is a danger when looking at best-in-class — who decides what it is, and furthermore, when looking at instituting what someone had deemed as best-in-class — are you perhaps trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

Often times, corporations are disappointed with the results from their efforts to emulate somebody else “best-in-class. Too often, these corporations spend a couple of years trying to implement something, which truly didn’t make sense for them, but because they were told to achieve “best-in-class” and as this is what the “best-in-classes” do, they felt obligated to try. Furthermore, who is it that decides that a certain approach, company, whatever is best-in-class. Where is that Oracle of Delphi that makes this determination?

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of seeing what has worked (or hasn’t) for other firms. Yet once you’ve done that — then look at the business you’re running, and see if it makes sense for you. Having been an executive in many different industries, and consulting in many more, I can comfortably say that the Pareto rule is alive and well. That is to say that 80% of the aspects of the business are similar — processes, business drivers, etc.. However 20% are unique. What I have also learned it that if you ignore that 20%, anything you try to institute is doomed to failure. It is the square peg, round hole scenario.

So let’s give “best-for-you” more credence. Create your own horizon — take heed of the lessons learned from others, but don’t follow blindly — just because some amorphous mass tells you this is what should be done. Create your own footprint… and who knows — tomorrow someone might be calling you best-in-class!

The Pros And Cons Of Working In Serviced Offices

Many industry experts never fail to remind business owners about the importance of always creating and maintaining a good and solid impression. And there are many recommended ways to do this. But the process of establishing and sustaining a good impression usually starts with having an impressive business premise and address.

Having a really prestigious office or business address can certainly be easy if you have the money and resources to do so. However, there are many starting and start-up entrepreneurs who may not have enough money to do this or even if they do, they would rather invest such funds in other areas or aspects of their business such as in promoting or marketing their brand and in hiring and paying some new additional employees.

But having an impressive office in a highly prestigious location is now a more reachable goal today, thanks mainly to many innovative business and office solutions providers. And one of the more contemporary ways to have a remarkable office in a good location without shelling out too much money for this endeavor is by investing in serviced offices.

Serviced Offices

A serviced office is an office or work site that is fully furnished, equipped and ready for occupancy and use anytime by any interested party or entrepreneur. These offices are owned and managed by a serviced provider and you simply rent a space from them to carry out your work or run your business.

This innovative business solution offers entrepreneurs several attractive benefits but there are some disadvantages as well.

PROS:

  • You can give your business a good professional image. This specific type of office always boasts of stylish interiors and the building where it is located also has an attractive façade as well. Your clients or customers, partners or investors will be impressed by both the exterior and the interior part of your office since these are always well-maintained by the service provider.
  • Lease or contract flexibility. You can rent such an office for just a few months or even weeks but you are allowed to extend the length of your stay anytime. And in case you want to increase the space you are leasing, your provider can easily grant your request.
  • Marginal overheads. These types of offices do not require costly deposits and down payments.

CONS

  • A serviced office space will become quite expensive if you continuously rent it for long periods of time.
  • These types of offices may lack some unique and endearing aspects. These types of offices tend to be too uniform and traditional looking. And you may get tired of looking at or working at too common and unchanging, even boring designs and arrangements.

There Are Many Reasons Why You Should Use Courier Services

When you use courier services, you can rest assured that you get convenience, reliability and security with each service they offer; whether you need to send a parcel to a recipient in the country or internationally, whether you use overnight services or same day services, with courier companies your parcel is in excellent hands and you will always know its whereabouts.

Courier services offer lots of options

With a courier service, your parcel can be sent the next day, on the same day, nationally as well as internationally. In fact, with an international courier you can send your parcel to practically any corner of the world, door to door. Courier services offer many different choices in terms of delivery and collection options and there are many different pricing structures to choose from as well, depending on your specific requirements such as the type of parcel, how urgent the delivery is, and the type of content.

You can always keep tabs on where your parcel is

Perhaps one of the best things about using a courier service is the fact that lost parcels are practically a thing of the past. The sophisticated tracking methods that are used by parcel services these days offer complete reliability and peace of mind. At any stage of the delivery process you can keep track of where your parcel is and whether it has arrived safely and securely. This enables you to inform your recipient about the expected delivery time and if you are unsure about what is happening with your parcel, you can either give your courier a call or you can go to their website, enter your parcel tracking number and you will have access to all the particulars of your parcel, literally at your fingertips, in real time.

More affordable than you think

There are many different courier companies which make the courier industry incredibly competitive and give the client the benefit of choosing the delivery options and pricing structure that best suits their needs, whether it’s for business deliveries or for personal parcel deliveries, locally or internationally, overnight or same day. The emergence of parcel booking agents and re-sellers means that your parcel collections and deliveries can be even more affordable than you ever may have thought possible.

With the courier service industry being such a competitive market with many national and international courier companies trying to get their hands on a piece of the pie and each one offering more sophisticated parcel services than the next; it may be hard to decide on which courier to use. It is important to do research before making a choice so that you get the best possible service at the most affordable prices.

Ensuring the Safety of Your Business Through Document Storage

The documentation that your company produces is extremely valuable for a number of reasons. Crucial company financial documents, employment letters and client files all fall under the confidential company documentation umbrella. Unfortunately, paper-based documentation can be under threat due to a variety of reasons such as fire, theft or natural disasters. Even if you store your documentation digitally, on an internal or external hard drive, it is important that you protect your company’s information. To ensure the safety of your company’s documentation, it is best to take on the services of a document storage company. Before you choose a storage company, there are a few factors to take into consideration:

Storage Systems

A well-designed storage warehouse will have processes and systems in place to make your document storage as effortless as possible. It is crucial that there are not only efficient and comprehensive systems in place, but that you understand them and how they work. It does not really help to have your documentation stored safely if you cannot access them easily whenever need be. Depending on the size of your business, you may generate paperwork at a speedy rate and if your documentation is not stored in a logical system that you understand, it will hinder your ability to retrieve what you need when you need it. A well-designed storage system is quite a complex operation; hence you need to choose a company that specialists in document management. A good document management company will be able to explain their different storage options to you. In addition to this they should be able to suggest a solution that is best for your business’s document storage requirements, be it tweaking the existing system or customizing a system to suit you.

If required, your document storage company should have an electronic document management system in place to conveniently scan and safe keep your business documents in order for you to access it offsite electronically.

Safe and Secure Storage

Safe and secure storage is crucial for all your documentation. Because your paper documents can be damaged by climatic conditions, fire or theft, you need adequate security against all these hazards. A document management company will have the safest facilities for document storage possible. This includes vault-type storage; climate controlled environments as well as excellent fire prevention and management facilities. Should you have scanned paperwork and are utilizing digital storage systems, then the storage company will make sure that all your information is backed up and stored on secure servers.

Retrieval

Being able to access your documentation whenever necessary is vital. A well planned storage labeling system should be in place that gives you easy access to all your files irrespective of how many you have stored away. For example, even if your particular vault is lined with shelves containing rows upon rows of boxes, you should be able to find documents alphabetically, by year and by type. In addition to this, you should be able to access your documentation 24 hours a day, should there be any emergency requiring you to produce the relevant paperwork.

As you can see, there are many benefits to secure document storage for your company. Not only will you have an organized system in place that you can utilize to find whatever you need, when you need it, but you will also have peace of mind that important business documents are well protected. The good thing about offsite document storage is that even if your business premises get completely destroyed, at least all your paperwork will be safe.

Strategic Process for Site Planning

Real estate site selection can be a complex web of evaluating store attributes within a potential store trade area. The process utilizes both a science and an art to the overall selection process combining a number of factors that weigh on the viability of the location. Complicating the process is that each location has its own special attributes, which makes site selection more directional in nature as opposed to a cookie-cutter process. That being said, here are some key attributes that should be considered in the overall evaluation:

Traffic Counts – While these are clearly site specific (think of the difference between a rural site and an urban site), analyzing the traffic counts will help offer a predictability of volume. The key is to understand what the potential traffic patterns are for the site before one can look solely at traffic counts. If a road carries a number of cars, but that road does not feed well into the site, the traffic counts may be misinterpreted. Understand the natural flow into the site before assessing the traffic counts. One way to gain some perspective on how traffic counts mirror volumes is to compare existing site volumes with their traffic counts. Many operators jump right into new site selection without looking back at existing sites and creating a model based on their geographic areas. This may give you a more reliable predictive model for your future sites.

Population Counts – Population count is the next logical indicator for your location. Not only do you want to look at the population count as it stands today – and is it enough to support a site – but also how has it been trending. Positive growth indicates a viable marketplace while negative trends may raise a red flag. In addition, gaining a better understanding of the ethnicity and socioeconomic trends in the trade area will offer a better snapshot into the merchandising mix that should be presented at the site.

Seasonality & Geographic Nuances – Determining whether the site is seasonal or not should factor into your analysis. Operators shouldn’t necessarily shy away from seasonal type stores but rather not be surprised by them after they open. Closely related to seasonality would be a trade area driver – i.e., a mall or theme park – that may positively or negatively impact your store’s performance. Monitoring these outside forces will tighten up your model. In addition, look for the non-seasonal enhancements or barriers to your site. A river that bisects your trade area, for instance, will effectively cut your traffic to the store no matter how close in proximity the homes are. Even certain companies can impact your site. A large manufacturing facility that releases a number of employees at the same time can cause bottlenecks in the traffic flow that will cause potential customers to avoid the area at these peak times.

Visibility – This may be more anecdotal than the other attributes but should still be a consideration. Judging whether the site is easily viewed from afar as opposed to a site that is hidden by overgrown trees should be a factor. Driving the site from all four directions allows for the owner to gain the perspective of potential customers as they approach the location. Other considerations would include that speed of the traffic as it approaches the potential site. If the traffic flow is traveling at too great a speed or drivers are distracted due to complicated traffic patterns, the opportunity to notice your location is diminished.

Competitors – Obviously, understanding the competition within the trading area is critical. I would approach this competitive evaluation in a three-fold fashion: a) gasoline, b) convenience store, and c) quick-service restaurants. Look at the competitive landscape in degrees of competition – meaning, some competition has greater negative impact than other competition. Ranking your competition based on this impact for all three categories will paint a more holistic overview. Keep in mind, that some competitors may impact only the gasoline while others may have a greater impact on convenience product sales. With the c-store industry creeping further and further into food-service, mapping the quick service restaurants in the trade area will give you a better indication of the viability of your food-service operation.

Location – Location, location, location. There are many factors that come into play when picking the best location. Is it a premier corner? What day part side of the street is the site? Is there easy ingress and egress in and out of the location? Are there divided highways in front of the location that make access more difficult? Is this an inside lot location and not even a corner? What is the length of the property frontage? There is a myriad of considerations for the actual site location that need to be evaluated in the context of the other attributes.

Let’s face it; there are a number of variables that come into play. While one cannot be certain that accurately depicting all of these attributes into a real estate site evaluation model can guarantee success, it will at least put you in a better risk aversion position. That is the science of it.

I have been around the block long enough to know that some stores simply defy their science and just work. The art of site selection is far harder to quantify than the science. While those stores are the anomaly, evaluating new locations by putting their attributes through the litmus test above, helps minimize the downside risk of opening an under performing location.

Make More Sales By Being Contrary

Here’s something I’ve been playing with, and my results have been pretty good, too.

A few months ago a friend was launching a big product with lots of cash prizes for the top affiliates. I knew there would be tons of affiliate competition, with every affiliate trying to out-do the others with bigger and better bonuses.

How to compete?

I decided not to.

Instead, I thought about what every affiliate’s bonus pages would look like: Highly polished, slick, professional, lots of graphics, videos, etc.

Odds are they would all start to look very much alike, right?

So I thought… what if I did something different?

What if my page looked like something you might get in the mail – black and white sales letter, using the Courier typewriter font, very old-school looking…

And what if, instead of a highly polished professional photo of myself, I used one where I just woke up? Or one where I just finished exercising, or just finished the yard work?

In other words, I looked like the guy next door and not some slick marketer.

Taking this thinking to the next level, I decided I didn’t want to spend time or money on creating a bonus. Everyone else was doing that, so why should I?

Instead, I would hold a live class. The homework would be to go over the program before class. Then in class we would implement, step-by-step, what was in the program. And I would record the whole thing, so people could just follow along.

In case you’re wondering – it worked beautifully. My sales were a very decent 5 figure number, and my commissions were half that plus bonuses.

And one more thing – I cheated, too. I had my virtual assistant run the class for me. She got to learn some great new skills, and I put less than 2 hours into the entire project.

The takeaway: When you have a lot of competition, it’s time to stop directly competing and find another way.

If they are using tons of graphics and slick videos, you go with a 1980’s black and white typewriter look.

If they are offering bonus packages filled with 5, 10 or 20 products, you offer no products (I offered hold-your-hand training, which in my opinion is worth far more anyway.)

You get the idea.

Do you know what would work even better than that?

MAILING the actual letter. Yup. Talk about old school. If you collect real addresses of your BUYERS, you might consider doing this on big ticket items.

I know marketers who do this. They are few and far between, and they are KILLING it. They only mail to buyers, which greatly improves their conversions. They use a service to send out the mailers for them. And they make more on one of these mailings than most successful marketers earn in 6 months.

Which brings me to my second idea… if you don’t already have the mailing addresses for your buyers, start collecting those now.

When you have a sizable portion of them (at least 200, preferably 500) approach a marketer with a product your list would love. Make sure there is plenty of profit in that product. Take the sales letter, adapt it to a black and white mailer (cheap to produce) and send it to your buyers.

See what happens. Tweak, rinse and repeat.

You can easily DOUBLE your income using this method.

Know why? Again, because it’s contrary. It’s different. Almost no one is doing it.

Your customer gets maybe a half dozen pieces of mail in a day. Two are bills. Two are sales flyers from local businesses. One is a catalog.

And then there’s that mysterious white envelope. Yeah, it’s going to get opened. Yes, it’s going to get read.

The Cybercrimals

The mindset of an individual who would want to attack the computers and networks owned by others is, without question, criminal. The act of intruding upon another confidential personal or business information requires a pre-meditated and calculated act. Its purpose is to inflict financial or personal harm on others by stealing money, denying the use of their information or to gain illegal access to proprietary plans. The cybercriminal is totally cynical and strives to remain in the shadows.

People who attack the information assets of others are on the prowl for system weaknesses to exploit. The prime targets are unsuspecting individuals or businesses that are vulnerable to the attack modes chosen by cybercriminals. They are deceitful and seek the cloak of anonymity.

The true nature of someone who would access, use and exploit your private information is a mixed bag. His or her character is between that of a person who would enjoy searching through your personal items and an employee who would embezzle money from a corporation.

The focus of crackers and hackers is to use their specialized knowledge to encroach upon the private lives of people and organizations. Electronic thieves seek to take advantage of people who are without information needed to fight back and block them. Cyber criminals are true low-life.

Digital bandits are sociopaths who ply their trade without regard to the harmful effects they have on others and truly lack remorse. What’s particularly unsettling about felonious computer whizzes is that they are usually very intelligent. They are without a conscience and enjoy stealing and hurting others.

Computer crooks can be ranked on a scale from “less skilled” to “expert”. Anyone can download basic cracking software from the Internet. The real pros, however, study their targets over time in stealth mode. The highly skilled cracker plans and analyzes the victim to get the maximum effect.

Preying upon unsuspecting users is among the most disturbing behaviors of the PC and mainframe pirates. Most computer users are unaware of how many threats and vulnerabilities that they face when they power-up their computer or go online. Lawless computer users thrive on the ignorance of others.

So how do you fight those who would breach your personal data with the purpose of stealing or hurting you in a variety of different ways? Presume that the bad guys are trying to break into your system. Use your knowledge and security best practices to block them.

You should:

1. Develop a security mindset
2. Assess your risks
3. Use complex passwords and phrases for your system(s)
4. Identify and eliminate common vulnerabilities
5. Routinely update software patches and fixes
6. Probe and test electronic systems
7. Use appropriate security-related hardware and software (e.g. anti-virus software, firewalls)
8. Lock your computer screen when you leave your work area
9. Encrypt and back up all of your data
10. Practice good cyber hygiene (e.g. avoid clicking on email links and attachments)
11. Avoid maintaining a persistent Internet connection

You can defend against those who would try to harm you using digital technology and the Internet. Obstruct the pathways that are followed by lawless information thieves.

The Alternative Investment Fund Regulations

What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)

AIF is an Alternative Investment Fund Regulations privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors. AIF may be in the form of a trust or a company or a limited liability partnership or a body corporate.

Why AIF

AIF Regulations endeavor to extend the perimeter of regulation to unregulated funds with a view to ensuring systemic stability, increasing market efficiency, encouraging the formation of new capital and consumer protection.

Who are not covered

Currently, the AIF Regulations do not apply to mutual funds, collective investment schemes, family trusts, ESOP and other employee welfare trusts, holding companies, special purpose vehicles, funds managed by securitisation or reconstruction companies and any such pool of funds which is directly regulated by any other regulator in India.

Categories of AIFs

An AIF needs to seek registration broadly under one of the 3 categories –

Category I AIF: The following are covered under Category I

1. Funds investing in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

2. Other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable including the Venture Capital Funds

3. AIFs with positive spillover effects on the economy, for which certain incentives or concessions might be considered by SEBI or Government of India or other regulators in India

Category II AIF: The following are covered under Category II

1. AIFs for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

2. Which shall not undertake leverage other than to meet day-to-day operational requirements as permitted in these Regulations

3. Which shall include Private Equity Funds, Debt Funds, Fund of Funds and such other funds that are not classified as category I or III

Category III AIF: The following get covered under Category III

1. The AIFs including hedge funds which trade with a view to making short term returns;

2. Which employ diverse or complex trading strategies

3. Which may employ leverage including through investment in listed or unlisted derivatives

Applicability of AIF Regulations to Real Estate Funds

After knowing what an AIF is and its broad categories, we analyse whether AIF Regulations are applicable to the Real Estate Funds

Firstly AIF has to seek registration under AIF Regulations under one of the three categories stated above. Therefore if a Fund does not fall under any of the three categories stated above, then it will not seek the registration with SEBI.

If we look at the Category 1, registration is required by funds which invest in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

If we look at the definition of infrastructure, Explanation to Regulation 2 (m) states that Infrastructure shall be as defined by the Government of India from time to time.

And in the normal parlance, the term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, electrical grids,

telecommunications, and so forth, and can be defined as “the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions.

Therefore infrastructure does not include the real estate or construction activity since this activity deals in investing in land, developing the land by way of construction of flats, townships and other residential and commercial projects.

But if the real estate fund carries on certain projects for a social purpose like purchasing land for charity etc.; then the fund may be covered under social venture funds.

The clause further states that ‘or other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable and such other Alternative Investment Funds as may be specified;’

The AIF Regulations have been notified just a few days back and till date, no other AIF funds have been specified in the Category 1 by the Government. Further what the government or regulators consider as socially and economically viable is a very broad concept. However, till the Government specifically comes out with specific inclusions under Category 1; a Real Estate Fund will not be covered under Category 1 and therefore would not require Registration.

Further, the clause also states that – Alternative Investment Funds which are generally perceived to have positive spillover effects on economy and for which the Board or Government of India or other regulators in India might consider providing incentives or concessions will bee included

By adding these lines to the Category 1, SEBI has made the category 1 very vague and open to dispute and litigations since what SEBI intends with positive spillover effects on the economy is not defined or clarified. Different people or organizations may have a different opinion on this which would lead to unnecessary litigations and hardships to business owners. However, till any clarity comes on this, the business owners need to take a cautious approach to the decision of seeking Registration under AIF Regulations.

Category II AIF

Now we examine whether a Real Estate Fund falls under the Category II AIF

If we look at the funds covered by Category II above, they

1. Shall not fall in Category I and III

2. Shall not undertake leverage or borrowing other than to meet day-to- day operational requirements and as permitted by these regulations;

3. Shall be funded such as private equity funds or debt funds for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

For Real Estate Fund under Category I, we notice that at present it does not fall under Category I and it also does not fall under Category III since these are basically hedge funds. Further, no specific incentives or concessions are given by the Government to the Real Estate Sector. Therefore if we look at the applicability of Real Estate Fund under Category II, these funds may fall under the Category II AIFs if they do not take leverage or borrowing except for short-term requirements.

Impact of AIF on the Real Estate Funds

Under these Regulations, the minimum investment amount has to be Rs 1 crore from each investor. Therefore attracting the funds from the investors would become tough for the real estate funds, who used to raise amounts as less as INR 1 million from the investors. Now they would need to find high-value investors though this is not the only challenge that lies ahead for those raising domestic corpuses. They now also have to invest 2.5% of the corpus or Rs 5 crore, whichever is lower, to ensure that the managing company’s risk is aligned with that of the investor. Moreover, a single investment in a company or a project cannot exceed 25% of the entire corpus.

Further a Real Estate Fund registered in the form of an LLP also would be covered under the AIF Regulations. In an LLP Structure, since the investors are also partners, the risk to the rights of the investors being misused is very minimum. Therefore applying the AIF Regulations to the LLP Structure would reduce the flexibility available to such a Structure.

Conclusion

If we look at the AIF Regulations from a short term perspective, in light of the difficult fund raising environment today, the higher ticket size for investors could potentially throw up some challenges and could in a manner constrict the growth of the asset class, but clearly, in the long run, these regulations appear to have an element of maturity to play a pivotal role in the development and shaping up of the future of alternate asset class in India. It is also clear that alternative investments are more sophisticated and risky as compared to investments in equity and debt and till market matures it is advisable that only HNIs and well informed investors make an investment in this asset class and once the market matures it is made open to all. In the long run, we may see more investments in the Alternative asset class (in terms of quantum and maturity) due to the increased investor confidence in these funds.

Best Expense Management Solution By Thinking Outside The Box

This is how not to handle expense management in your business. Whilst a substantial part of managing expenses can be compartmentalized into how people make claims, and how those claims are processed, there are times when you’d benefit from thinking outside the box.

To illustrate the point, I’m going to look at telephones, the way your business uses them, and the way changing that can be part of an expense management strategy. Many years ago, in another life, I asked a senior manager how much he spent on line rental and calls for the fax machines in his business. He didn’t know, and asked his secretary to being in the relevant invoices.

She appeared carrying two large ring binders. Looking at them, he asked her for just the fax machine invoices. She pointed at the binders. “Those are the fax machine invoices,” she said.

He had no idea at the scale of the costs involved, and we immediately set about reducing them. And there’s the lesson: Show me any cost you’re not controlling, and I’ll show you an unnecessary expense.

Of course, fax machines are consigned to history with quill pens and carbon paper, but let’s stick with telephones; we still use those. Here are some areas in which you might be spending too much for mobiles, (and here’s the important part) without being aware of it.

1. Data roaming: Set up a company policy that it should be turned off except for short periods to allow emails to be delivered or sent, rather than being on 24/7. Data roaming charges can be high, and can mount significantly if you have a large number of employees travelling

2. Use one company: Don’t have a series of providers. Restricting services to just one allows you to negotiate better deals for new handsets and connectivity

3. Go for VOIP: For office phones there are lots of ways to use the internet to make calls, giving the traditional desktop phone a new lease of life. VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and means there’s no need to have a traditional phone contract, so long as you have good broadband connectivity. Providers of phone systems like this will usually deal with you on a rolling monthly contract, and their systems are extremely, so you can add or subtract handsets almost at will.

4. Be careful with perks. If employees are able to use company phones for personal use (and we’re back to mobiles here), then that permission should be restricted. OK, make short personal calls, but talking for hours to an aunt in Australia, or streaming a box set to a hotel room in Berlin could soon set you back a considerable – and unwelcome – amount.

5. Don’t leave legacies. When an employee leaves the company, make sure to cancel or transfer their part of the phone number, and don’t toss the handset into the back of a drawer. Re-use it, or send it for recycling _ once you’ve cleared any company data from it.

More than just number reduction

Consider the benefits that come alongside mobile phone use, and blurring the distinction between company and private life. When you’ve automated your expenses by implementing a solution based on business expense management software using an app, everyone’s going to need a phone so they can use your system.

Allowing an employee to make personal calls, to that agreed cost limit, might have a payback in loyalty. It might mean they’re more amenable to taking a work-related call out of hours, as part of a bit of give and take – but make sure that you track the benefit so that all the necessary tax is paid. There’s no future in saving money by cheating the taxman.

Applying this kind of thinking to all aspects of your business can make a significant difference to your bottom line, and be a useful ally to your business expense management software.