• Small Business

    Why did Amazon shut our account without appeal? We've sold on it for 14 years - and are now left with thousands of books we'll struggle to shift

    Loyal sellers on online retail giant Amazon had their account shut down out of the blue without concrete explanation or a way of appealing, despite being users of the website since 2003.Dr Colin Beckley, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and his wife Maryam have had a store on Amazon specialising in academic books under the name CM Book-Stop for 14 years.He contacted This is Money with nowhere else to turn when the American firm shut their account, and with it cutting off a huge source of revenue for the pair. The sellers said they were met with a 'wall of silence' by Amazon ...

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  • Small Business

    Small business confidence plunges to lowest level since the Brexit vote - with a record number fearing they will be out of business by April

    A record number of small business owners are planning to downsize or shut up shop entirely as confidence plummets to the lowest levels since the Brexit vote. One in seven bosses of UK modest sized enterprises will either scale down operations, close or sell their company in the coming three months according to the latest Small Business Index by the Federation of Small Business.However, it is not all doom and gloom. The study found that exporting small firms remain optimistic about their prospects.  Some owners of UK SMEs fear that they might have shut up shop in the next three months ...

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  • Small Business

    Don't let fear hold you back from being your own boss: Five reasons to make your business dream a reality this year

    It is tradition at this time of year for people to take stock and set goals for the 12 months ahead.While ditching the booze and losing weight are etched at the top of many New Year's resolution lists, for some, making their dream of starting their own business a reality is the key ambition for 2018. Those who plan on kick-starting their own business this year can do so while holding onto their day job - that way you keep the safety of a salaryAnd why not? Being your own boss gives you complete autonomy over how your working day ...

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  • Small Business

    Most start-ups are in London but Bradford, Leicester and Coventry are revealed as best places to start a business in the UK

    Bradford, Leicester and Coventry have been found to be among the best places in the UK to start a business. A winning combination of low commercial rent, high business rate relief and good broadband speed set them apart from other cities, according to new research from Barclays. Bradford ranked highest overall in the bank's SME Growth Factors Index, which measures the strength of 12 key growth factors essential to business productivity - including road infrastructure and business churn rate to rank the UK's largest 20 cities by population size in each category. Where's the best place in the UK to start a ...

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  • Small Business

    The Budget is a chance for the Chancellor to convince small businesses that he really is on their side, says EMMA JONES

    These days, the run-up to the Budget brings with it a tightening knot in the stomach for British small businesses and the self-employed. And it’s no surprise. Back in March the announcement (and then swift U-turn) of a dramatic tax hike for the self-employed made us all wince.It wasn’t just the principle of putting up Class 4 National Insurance contributions, it was the general spirit behind the move. It demonstrated a lack of understanding about the risk involved in working for yourself - and worse, it suggested this kind of economic endeavour is not appreciated and unwelcome. A reduction in the VAT ...

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  • Small Business

    Half of all small businesses expect volumes to stall or fall after Brexit

    Nearly half of small and medium-sized enterprises expect to see export volumes stall or even fall in a fresh blow to hopes of a Brexit export boom, new research has revealed.Of the 1,016 UK SMEs surveyed during the second quarter of 2017 in international payments business World First s quarterly Global Trade Barometer, only 30 per cent currently export, against 52 per cent in the same period in 2016.A third expected to see no business growth in 2017, and those expecting less than 5 per cent growth rose from 20 per cent to 23 per cent quarter-on-quarter. Nearly half of ...

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  • Small Business

    Small traders hit as eBay is forced to add 20% VAT to its fees

    Online marketplace eBay has started charging 20 per cent Value Added Tax on its fees to tens of thousands of businesses selling on its UK platform.The measure, effective from August 1, follows a restructuring by eBay resulting in UK customers no longer contracting with its Luxembourg entity, eBay Europe, but with eBay (UK) Limited.Alan Pearce, VAT partner at accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg, explained: This change should not adversely affect the vast majority of VAT-registered sellers as the additional tax being charged by eBay should be recoverable via the seller s VAT returns. The measure follows a restructuring by eBay resulting ...

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  • Small Business

    Thousands enrol Cleo app to avoid going into overdraft

    Cleo. a financial technology start-up with an artificial intelligence system to help customers handle their money, has attracted tens of thousands of customers worth 400 million just 18 months after its launch.The money-managing assistant analyses spending patterns and offers advice on budgeting, paying bills and finding deals.Last month Cleo.secured a 2 million investment from sources including Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom and Entrepreneur First, an investment programme for technical founders. Cleo.analyses spending patterns and offers advice on budgeting, paying bills and finding dealsCustomers can view their spending according to transactions, categories or merchants. They can automatically save money, send cash to ...

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  • Small Business

    The smiley face logo is happy once again, after the firm behind it becomes a licence giant

    The Smiley Company is smiling again, thanks to Nicolas Loufrani's plan to create a lifestyle brand with more style.The smiley face symbol was once associated with the 1990s rave scene, but Loufrani has turned the firm into a licensing business, co-creating designs for fashion, home decor and marketing on behalf of retail and manufacturing clients, but also the likes of Dior and Adidas by Stella McCartney.Loufrani's father Franklin trademarked the original smiley in the early 1970s and founded the company through a newspaper promotion aimed at making people happy, using the logo to highlight good news. The smiley face symbol ...

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  • Small Business

    Want your business to give back to society AND benefit from start-up innovation? The Baobab Network has come up with a radical approach

    This is Money's start-up spotlight column has looked at proptech and fintech firms seeking to make customers' lives easier - this time, we look at a firm trying to help businesses. The Baobab Network partners socially-conscious corporate brands in the UK with innovative Sub-Saharan start-up businesses.Why? Because according to university friends Tom Fairburn, 25, and Toby Hanington, 26, both have a lot to learn from one another.In March 2016, the pair launched the Baobab Network with the aim of giving African entrepreneurs the tools they need to scale their businesses, while at the same time giving UK companies access to ...

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  • Small Business

    Trust me, many are happy in the gig economy: Trade body boss claims sector provides great opportunities

    Code of conduct: Richard Laughton wants TrustSeal opened up to more firmsThe trade body for Britain's burgeoning 'gig economy' is planning a fresh push for its code of conduct in an attempt to improve public trust in controversial online businesses.Richard Laughton, chairman of Sharing Economy UK, said he wants to open up the trade body's new TrustSeal to more applicants.TrustSeal which already has eight members, including Airbnb sets out a set of principles for businesses to follow.The initiative follows criticism over the way companies in the gig or sharing economy where customers link up with providers over an internet ...

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  • Small Business

    Oscar-winning actress and closet entrepreneur Halle Berry unveils her secrets for business success

    The only way is ethics for Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry when it comes to business ventures that peak her interest.Berry is best known for her exploits on the big screen - most notably her performance in romantic drama Monster's Ball for which she was awarded the movie industry's top gong.But behind the scenes, she has a penchant for philanthropic initiatives, having supported a number of charities, including Make-A-Wish foundation, and participated in United Nations World Food Programme to fight world hunger. Halle Berry was a judge at this year's iteration of The Chivas Venture, a competition where social enterprises from ...

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  • Small Business

    From Wonga to food-sharing start-up Olio: Former boss of controversial payday lender goes green to crackdown on wasted groceries

    Think twice before you throw out those perfectly good tins of baked beans or your unloved collection of chutney grandma replenishes every Christmas. You never know, your neighbour might need it.This is the philosophy of Olio, the food recycling app co-founded by Tessa Cook, the former boss of payday lender Wonga.The concept is quite simple but is one that has taken her to Hollywood as one of the 30 finalists in the Chivas Venture - a global $1million ( 770,000) search to find the next generation of entrepreneurs with ventures that are likely to have a positive impact on the ...

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  • Small Business

    Could paying mothers more after they return to work and encouraging dads to take time off boost your firm's productivity and profits?

    Small and medium-sized businesses often struggle to balance their own needs with giving parents the flexibility they need. And with most childcare duties still falling to mothers, this can often feed through to women taking lesser roles in order to give them breathing space.That in turn can lead on to perpetuating gender inequality, both in terms of progression and pay. But could being more flexible with parents and channelling energy into improving mother's pay after they return to work actually boost productivity and profits? We take a look with the help of cultural insight expert Annie Auerbach. Jodie Whittaker was ...

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  • Small Business

    Is this the end of hours waiting for the plumber to show up? Start-up Hometree offers video chats with a boiler expert

    Sorting out a problem with your boiler or getting a new one installed can be the stuff of nightmares. Most of us have a story or two to tell that involves an all-day wait for a no-show engineer or weeks spent having cold showers while you try to schedule an appointment around working hours. But new heating start-up, HomeTree, claims to have the answer - video chat appointments with an engineer on your mobile, tablet or browser.Not only that, but it claims to offer longer warranties, quality guarantees and to charge around 30 per cent less than using established services ...

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