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Podcast Replay | Podcast 6 – Interview with Property Millionaire Vicki Wusche – The Property Mermaid

In this Podcast, I interview Vicki Wusche who discusses how she moved from being a single mum working part time to working full time in property and being financially free.

An inspirational and educational podcast that delves under the bonnet to find out more about what makes Vicki so successful.

We talk about the actions that Vicki took specifically, about how she survived on part time work and her attention to detail that helped.

Vicki is passionate about helping people, especially those on benefits and discussesabout how the government actually prevents her helping more people by the rules they have in place for tenants.

Vicki has an event coming up very soon and you can see the details of this here : http://www.bit.ly/spi-latto

The author of several books, Vicki also talks about those people who read all the books, do all the webinars and seminars, but then take no action.

We talk about how to shortcut the route to success through mentoring and fast tracking results.

We also cover how mindset is important, and how to make better decisions based upon the actions you have taken.

Finally, we talk about how to get started in property, about what the first steps could be.

This was an incredibly enjoyable interview, packed with valuable advice and information.

You can get more from me at https://www.daniellatto.co.uk including over 100 information fueled podcasts and don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

Speak soon,

Dan Latto

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Marketing Funnels – Why businesses are failing to get noticed | content, content, content

Marketing Funnels – Why businesses are failing to get noticed | content, content, content

The sheer amount of noise you have to make simply to get noticed these days is huge.

The more noise you make to get noticed, the more people TAKE notice.

Get creating content now. And remove this area of business that’s failing.

With the widespread of aspiring and upcoming new businesses wanting a place in the market, it's like battle royale just to get noticed. But that's what advertisements are for - to get your business out there.

But is mere advertisement enough?

With the development of internet, the traditional ways of advertisements are basically ineffective. 

However, there's a way to get your business noticed by the people casually scrolling through the internet and that's by creating content.

The more content you put out, the more possibility that people may come across your business.

You can get more from me at https://www.daniellatto.co.uk including over 100 information fueled podcasts and don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

Speak soon,

Dan Latto

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Podcast Replay | Podcast 5 – Why You Should Be Using Social Media Marketing In Your Business Right Now

Episode 5 - Why You Should Be Using Social Media Marketing In Your Business Right Now

Social Media has clearly been around for a long time, but as a Property Investor & Business Owner, are you using it correctly ?

During this podcast, i'll talk through some of the strategies that you should be using Social Media Marketing for.

As part of the 3 rules towards Financial Freedom in the next 5 years, we're always looking to cover how to :

1. Cut Costs
2. Generate Cash
3. Invest the rest,

This podcast helps cover #2, Generating Cash - and Social Media is a mechanism by which we can generate more potential leads, build credibility in the market place and generate more cash.

If you're not using Social Media to engage with your potential audience (and not just share pictures of cats), then you're business is missing out on this resource that has the potential to literally transform your business.

I personally generate thousands each month through social media into my coaching practice, and so I know how vital a resource it can be once used correctly

You can get more from me at https://www.daniellatto.co.uk including over 100 information fueled podcasts and don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

Speak soon,

Dan Latto

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Business Coaching | Whats The One Thing You Can Control In Your Life ?

What's one thing you can control in your life?

If you are in business and you feel that your success relies heavily on circumstance and luck, then there's something wrong with your current mindset, and with that mindset, you won't be getting anywhere near progress. 

In business, (or life in general) you either control it or it controls you. 

Thus, always pick the latter.

This is so important, and when you start to understand this, the whole world of possibility opens up for you

In this life, there are many things we don't get to control such as, the weather, our family, where were born and so many things. And there are times that we dwell so much on that, it brings us down, makes us feel hopeless and makes us believe we're stuck in a rut.

Which is why it's always a relief to be reminded that there are things we can actually control, and a little reminder goes a long way.

You can get more from me at https://www.daniellatto.co.uk including over 100 information fueled podcasts and don't forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

Speak soon,

Dan Latto

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Throwback Video | Using “Negative Opinions” As Fuel and Motivation

I’ve heard them all.

You’re too stupid

You’re not tall enough.

You’re too skinny.

You’re too fat.

You’re too short.

You’re too ginger. (yep!)

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

You have no experience.

You have no clue.

You’re an idiot.

You’ll fail.

Every single one of them – and I’m not alone in this – I’m pretty sure most people have heard these at some point in their life.

And after a while we start to believe them.

But then something happens. Something that makes you go.

No. I am good enough.

Let’s do this.

And so you put in the effort, take action and yep, you’ll fail along the way. But the secret – and it’s a secret because although most people ‘know’ this – they don’t really ‘KNOW’ it – the only think they do – the failures along the way are vital to get you to your success.

So this is what I do. I take all the NOs that people have given me. I taken all the shit things that people have done to me. I take them all.

Every single one of them.

And I put them in my ‘FUCK YOU’ box.

And then what happens is this.

10 years go by.

And they see you again, with the beautiful wife, and the villa by the Med.

And I go up to them.

And I open the box. And the FUCK YOU’s fly out of that box and float all around them, jabbing their ego until they cant take anymore.

Then I smile.

I Close the box.

And I leave.

And thats why you should do EXACTLY THE FUCKING SAME !!

Because here’s the thing, you can’t control what other people say about you but here’s what you can control: your reaction.

Join me at my website at https://www.daniellatto.co.uk and don’t forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

Speak soon,

Dan Latto

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Throwback Video | Making Your Dreams a Reality

Where does the actual results come from?

Do you just wake up one morning and everything is just lined up in place perfectly for you? Or does it take something more than that?

So I’m going to be talking about making dreams into reality.

Take a look.

Dreams are something we all have and sometimes they are called aspirations or goals, however you want to call them. It is a visualization of ourselves, what we are, what we have, where we are, how we're living: dreams visualize it for you, but it excludes the question, when do we get there/it, how do we get there/it because it is you -the dreamer- who answers that question, who puts action to it and most importantly, who gets there or who gets it.

That's how it works because dreams are better off just being dreams in a sleeping state until they become reality when you work for it every waking moment.

You can catch up with me at my website at www.daniellatto.co.uk - and remember to SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube Channel!

Speak soon,



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Thowback Video | Becoming An Authority In Your Field

Becoming An Authority In Your Field Recorded on the drive over to the beach in Spain,

I talk about how to become an authority in your field. Being an authority in your field equals to credibility, it is a trait for professionals that allows them to be known and the presence they carry in the field. However, it goes beyond advertising their brand but also advertising the values they sell, what makes them credible, and why clients should go to them. Doing just that allows a company or a brand to really build an effective name for themselves, thus paving a way for more clients which equals to more success.

So if you want to hear how to become an authority on your field then keep on watching.

You can catch up with me at my website at www.daniellatto.co.uk – and remember to SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube Channel!

Speak soon,


Business and Marketing DOMINATION : Building a Brand for FREE using Social Media and Free Tools

Business and Marketing DOMINATION : Building a Brand for FREE using Social Media and Free Tools

Business and Marketing DOMINATION : Building a Brand for FREE using Social Media and Free Tools

In this 32 minute video, I go through how to create Video and Audio Content and re-purpose that content to create credibility, build trust and ultimately generate brand new leads in your business.

These tools are mostly FREE, and are available to use right now.

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Business Coaching | What happens during our 2 day Strategy & Implementation Intensive

So we were in Cyprus providing a 2 day Strategy & Implementation Intensive to a valued client.

This is a pretty intensive training (as the title suggests) and is fundamental in helping business owners who are either just starting out, or who are looking to grow their business in the next few years.

Find out more – watch the video…

Daniel Latto
Entrepreneur | Investor | Business Mentor | Property Coach

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Why This Entrepreneur Stays on the “Middle Path” in Life and Business

Learn how this entrepreneur approaches events that occur both inside and outside of her business.


4 Monthly Business & Property Coaching Calls For One Low fee?

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The next call is THIS Sunday!

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Intensity – What Can Michael Jordan Teach Us About Business?

So today in this video I am going to be talking about what we can learn from Michael Jordan about business.  A lot of things that I learned about business I actually learned from playing basketball.

In life, many of the things that we do have transferable skills.  The difference is that most people don’t think like that and only look at things in one dimension.  When you start to look at the different things that are in your life and how parts of those can be mapped across to your personal and professional life, more opportunities for growth emerge.

What if you had a hobby, let’s say for instance basketball, and there was a strategy or a mindset that had to be adopted to reach a certain level in your ability to play the game.  Do you think that there’s a possibility that as you make that shift in how you play the game and the mindset attached with that shift that you could benefit from that in other areas of your life too?  What if that mindset shift could be applied to your business so you can close more sales?  What if your level of understanding between you and your partner improved as a result of that shift?

This is the kind of thing that this video will show you.  Take a look and see where you can apply this new learning.

So now that you have seen this video and seen how I have used what I’ve learned, what can you take from this?

Learning to take things from videos such as this is what is going to take you forwards.  I don’t mean by that , that you just watch it and then think

Oh that’s nice, I’ll remember that someday when I need it.

What I mean is that you learn one little nugget and then you go and implement it straight away.  You find an aspect of your personal or professional life that you can alter today by using what you have just learned.  Then you test it to see what happens.  You will invariably get feedback from that and you will know what worked and what didn’t work.

In the beginning you will get much more of what doesn’t work than what does work.  That is then your cue to alter things and find out how you an make it work for you.  Getting feedback like that isn’t a cue to give in like I see so many people do.  This attitude shift towards learning is what will take you and your business forwards.  It’s about taking what you can from what you get and altering it to fit you.

So what are you going to do today to start making use of this new knowledge.  Commit to just one thing if you have to but make sure that you do something.  If you’re not moving forwards, then you are going backwards.

Today Is the Best Tax Day of Your Life

SATURDAY morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust-trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was green with vegetation and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.

Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing Buffalo Gals. Bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom eyes, before, but now it did not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls were always there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarrelling, fighting, skylarking.

7 Questions To Ask Before Starting Your Own Business

1.     Why am I doing this?
This is the big first question to ask. Do you want to build a business in support of a product or invention? Do you want to organize, solidify, and expand existing freelance or consulting work you’ve been doing? Do you love what you do, but hate the company you’re been doing it for? Do you want to branch out on your own? There are a million possible answers, and likely more than one will be true for you. Not to say that any motivation is inherently better than others, but knowing what motivates your desire to start a new small business will determine a lot in terms of how you move forward.

2.     Is this a good time?
Once you get a great idea in your head for a small business and finally decide you want to throw yourself in and start making real moves to realize your plan, it can be tempting to jump in without taking pause to consider if right now is the most advantageous time to starting a new venture. And hey, we love the enthusiasm! You should feel that amped up about starting a new business (trust us, you’ll need that much energy!) But there’s nothing worse than throwing energy, money, and resources into launching a business, and leveraging all of your contacts to get a team, and raise funds, only to find out that outside influences are working against you. Especially if those negative influences might have been avoided by waiting for a better time. There are a lot of areas to consider – your personal life, the availability of key team members (maybe if you start your business now, you can get someone for a particular role who is B-list, but if you wait 6 months until an A-lister’s contract is up at their current job, you could get them), and conditions in your market. It’s never fun to put a project on hold, but if waiting 6 or 9 months (or whatever it takes) to give your business the best possible chance of survival, make the smart call and pump the breaks.

3.     How much money will I need?
Spend as much time as you need to get your projected budget perfect. Consult with financial experts if it’s not something that comes naturally to you, or if you simply don’t know certain things. Research the kinds of funding and budgeting practices of similar small businesses. Take meetings with people who have been where you presently are – buy them lunch in exchange for stories of what worked and didn’t work for them budget wise when they were starting out. No matter how you go about it, figuring out the best possible estimate of how much money you’ll need to get through your start-up phase and the first 2-3 years is an indispensible planning tool that you’ll use over and over.


4.     Where will I get money?
Once you know how much money your small business needs to get rolling, it’s time to consider the different sources you might get those funds from. Most often, that will end up being a variety of places; the majority of small businesses gather the money they need from a combination of personal savings, family and friends, small business loans, and investors. Research and compare each of these options to see which works best for your individual circumstances.

5.     What other people to I need?
In small business, no man (or woman) is an island. If you think you’re going to do everything yourself, you should probably reconsider. Even if – and this is rare – the daily operations of your business can be handled by you and only you (perhaps, for example, you’re running a consulting business and just involves you managing your clients on a one-to-one basis), you still will need other people on your team, even if just on a consulting basis. Things like taxes, legal considerations, marketing, website…the list could go on forever. And then what if you want to grow your business? What if you get more clients or customers than you can handle with the existing team you have now? Regardless of where your company is at presently, think about what it would ideally look like one or two steps down the road – what people are there? What kinds of additional support will you need? What’s the best way to get that support – should you hire full-time employees to do those jobs, or outsource to contractors?

6.     How do I handle setbacks?
Anyone can handle forward momentum and reaching benchmarks and generally enjoying things going well in the early days of your small business, but unfortunately, these aren’t the only situations you’re likely to encounter in the early days (and well beyond that, to be honest.) It’s worth taking a moment to think about how you react to setbacks and disappointments: are you the kind of person who responds with a renewed sense of commitment and purpose to push forward? Do you get discouraged? There’s really not a wrong answer here, but you do need to be honest with yourself. Entrepreneurship is best suited for people who aren’t readily knocked down – even when they get knocked back.

7.     What’s my endgame?
A common mistake startup business owners make is not considering an exit strategy or what they want to eventually come of their business. This is something investors in particular will want to know. The reason a lot of small business owners don’t think about this is because they automatically think, “Why would I have an endgame? Why would I leave? We’re going to make this successful and then I’ll be there to run it forever!” The truth is, however, that a huge number of businesses are started with the anticipation that they will increase in value until some bigger company wants to buy them. Or maybe they get big enough that you eventually want to make an IPO and start selling stock. And do you really plan to stay with the company forever, or are you just there to get it on its feet before moving on? Will you stay on if the company is purchased? What do you want to walk away with, if and when you do walk away? And then what comes next?

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Beyond The Party: Inside The Booming Business Of The Yacht Week

Credit: Doonja Dopsaj for The Yacht Week Alcohol and boats, what could go wrong? (Credit: Doonja Dopsaj for The Yacht Week)

It’s 3 a.m. on a clear night in August, and as 100 sailboats rock quietly in a bay off the Croatian island of Solta, a massive dance party set on a rocky perch above is just ending. Six hundred international partygoers descend a hill above the shoreline, exhausted as they near the end their seven days.

In tank tops and bikinis, boat shoes and board shorts, some wait for dinghies to ferry them to the outlying boats, which have also served as their homes for the last five days. Others hop from boat-to-boat, filching drinks and making friends along the way. It’s easy to spot the skippers, mostly young men from the UK and Australia, since tonight they’re dressed in adult-sized animal onesies—a fox, a rabbit and a panda among them.

When a large, Independence Day-worthy firecracker launches from a nearby boat and explodes in the starry sky above, the crowd cheers in approval. But as the embers reach the brush, parched from weeks of Adriatic sun, a small fire ignites. Seconds later it’s as big as a bonfire and illuminates a swath of the scrabbly hill. Remnants of large, destructive forest fires can be found across Croatia, and for a moment it looks as if the entire hill could go up in flames. From a boat, four Yacht Week crew members jump into the water and frantically splash at the fire until one climbs up on the rocks and sprays an extinguisher. When the flames die down, there’s a small golf-clap from the ragged few still paying attention.

As I watched this scene from the back of a boat 30 yards away, I thought of something William Wenkel, the CEO of The Yacht Week, told me about his business a day earlier, which now seems absurdly prescient: “It’s all about putting fires out, everywhere,” he explained. At the time, he didn’t mean this literally.

But it’s easy to forget that The Yacht Week is a business, and when you sell customers the party of a lifetime—and generally deliver—it pays to expect some mishaps. “We do everything right, from corporate structure to liability, to legal due diligence,” Wenkel assures me. “Sponsors go through our business and say, ‘Hmm, looks like you’re covered everywhere.’”

But still, mishaps on the ground can’t be prevented, only minimized. Customers leaving The Yacht Week after seven days of partying generally do so depleted. They also bring home minor injuries—a swollen foot from stepping on a sea-urchin; kinks, or worse, from cliff-jumping; bruises and scrapes from navigating sailboats and rocky coastlines in the dark. The trick is keeping these mishaps small–as in no forest fires.

Despite the fact that, in terms of drinking habits, skippers and crew members are largely indistinguishable from their customers, they take risk management seriously. At the crew-boat party, for instance, I witnessed a skipper firmly banish a group of women off the top of the boat, a spot generally reserved for crew members and select guests. Their crime? Dropping a glass. While the women protested that it was a routine, minor accident, the message from the crew was clear: we no longer trust you and we’re not taking any chances.

This kind of attention to risk has allowed The Yacht Week to become a formidable business operation in the face of routine drunken absurdity. Wenkel, along with COO Erik Biörklund, and CMO Johan Corthesy, own the entire company, having never accepted outside funding. They’ll do sales of $9 million this year, compared to $7 million in 2012. Wenkel expects to do $12 million in 2014. Profits were $350,000 in 2012, and jumped to nearly $900,000 this year.

Anchoring those profits is an attractive, inventory-free business model. The company makes most of its money as a sales channel for local sailboat-rental companies, or “charter” companies, taking up to a 20% commission on each rental. With an average week-long rental price of $6500 in Croatia, that means the company takes in about $1300 on each sale. (The $9 million sales figure is gross sales. The Yacht Week actually realizes commission revenue closer to $2 million.)  So while charter companies get stuck maintaining, storing and paying for the total cost of the boats, The Yacht Week’s expenses include little more than marketing, technology and labor on the ground. Just 14 people work full-time at the corporate office in London, while another 200 or so work seasonally as skippers, hostesses and crew members.

The commissions from yacht rentals make up the majority of the company’s revenues while sales of wrist bands, which grant wearers access to The Yacht Week parties, along with skipper services and brand sponsorships, make up the rest. Wrist bands are a default purchase for customers and cost $67 (50 Euros) each. Assuming every customer in 2013 buys a wristband—not an outlandish assumption—that’s another $600,000 in high-margin revenue.

The vast majority of boats also hire a skipper provided by The Yacht Week. Skippers are paid, at maximum, about $675 per week. At a minimum, in Croatia at least, the company charges about $880 for the service. The margins vary according to the composition of a boat (all male boats get charged much more), the qualifications of the skipper (more experience means better pay), and location. But as the company does more volume this will become an increasingly meaningful segment of revenue and profit.

And then there are the sponsorships. Sperry, of boat-shoe fame, is the biggest in terms of visibility, paying upwards of $50,000 each year for brand sponsorship on the website and promotions on the ground. A representative from The Yacht Week says that commitment should double for 2014. Skyy Vodka pays another six figures for sponsorship and event production in Italy.

The company’s roots trace back to 2006, and its rise has coincided with that of Facebook, meaning it’s been able to cut traditional marketing and customer acquisition costs to a fraction via social media. Their 2009 promotional YouTube video, produced as a favor by a friend who had created music videos for the popular electronic group Swedish House Mafia, attracted hundreds of thousands of views within a year. Total cost: about $1000. Today their marketing machine consists largely of footage and photos of The Yacht Week itself, along with promotional events in cities like New York, Munich and Monte Carlo.

The strength of the business has allowed Wenkel and his partners to expand aggressively in recent years. In addition to The Yacht Week they run four businesses under a holding company called European Travel Ventures (ETV): The Ski Week, Yachts and Friends, Skipper Academy and Fort George.

The Ski Week

It’s like The Yacht Week, but with ski lodges in the Alps. The company is running the first inaugural Ski Week in Obertaeurn, Austria in March 2014. When they opened bookings for the event in September, all 500 spots sold out in 35 minutes. Prices start at $850 for accommodations, a week-long ski pass, and Yacht Week-style parties.

European Travel Ventures owns 70% of the operation while the remaining equity will go to Ski Week CEO Leo Alsved, a longtime skipper manager for The Yacht Week, after a 5-year vesting schedule. The first event should be immediately profitable according to the company. Given demand for the event, ETV expects to run several more Ski Weeks in Europe in 2015, in addition to a potential event in North America.

Yachts and Friends

Yachts and Friends is the most ambitious, technology-driven project underway at ETV. The idea is to create a sort of Hotels.com for sailboats, a comprehensive booking system for rentals around the world. The company currently has 1400 boats available in seven destinations, including Thailand, Turkey and Sweden. They expect to have 2000 ready by spring.

The model works like The Yacht Week, but writ large. The company takes a 15-20% commission on each rental and provides skippers and hostesses on request. “For a long time these yachting companies have eked out a profit by selling these boats to old, rich white men,” Wenkel says. “We’ve proven that it’s equally easy to rent out the same boat to a young student who has zero interest in sailing.”

ETV owns 90% of the operation, while CTO Erik Bosrup will take the remaining equity.

Skipper Academy

As The Yacht Week grows and Yachts and Friends gains traction, ETV needs a reliable source of trained skippers. (The company employed 150 skippers this past year, but may need up to 300 in 2014.) That doesn’t exist, so they’ve created their own skipper factory. Skipper Academy is an eleven-day course in Croatia. For a fee of $800, graduates get an RYA Coastal Certificate and guaranteed employment at The Yacht Week or Yachts and Friends–billed as “the best summer job in the world,” by Wenkel.

Fort George

Nestled high on a hill overlooking two natural bays on the Croatian island of Vis, Fort George is a impressive piece of property. The British constructed it in 1813 to maintain power in the Adriatic during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s since served as a working fortress for the Austro-Hungarians, and later, Yugoslavia under the Tito regime.

Roof top at Fort George before celebrations The roof top at Fort George.

Today, after ETV signed a 25-year lease with the Croatian government, it’s undergoing a $1 million renovation funded by The Yacht Week profits. The company is turning the spot into an events space and cultural center, leasing it out for $7,000-$9,000 during the high season. The cocktail bar is staffed by models from Berlin, while an in-house historian from Oxford regales visitors with stories of the property’s past. The goal is to attract artists and musicians from the region for weekly shows and exhibitions when the space isn’t used for events.

Though The Yacht Week still visits the site two nights each week during the summer season, Wenkel hopes to bring in an older, more-moneyed crowd for weddings and corporate events. The operation is wholly owned by European Travel Ventures, but given the cost of renovations, the company doesn’t expect it to be profitable for another two years.

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Autumn Statement 2013: Business rates capped

Autumn Statement 2013: Business rates capped Chancellor George Osborne aims to boost enterprise with the change to rates

Business rates will be capped in an effort to boost business and the UK’s high streets, it was revealed in the Autumn Statement.

Chancellor George Osborne has revealed that rate rises will be limited to 2 per cent in England and Wales from April next year instead of being linked to inflation.

Businesses will be allowed to pay their rates in 12-monthly instalments.

Additionally, a scheme that offers rate relief to small businesses will be extended until April 2015.

Business rates were set to rise by 3.2 per cent next year, but there has been intense lobbying by business organisations for a rethink by the Chancellor.

Vince McLoughlin, partner at business and tax advisory firm Russell New says, ‘With greater business rate relief, SMEs now have an incentive to make crucial investment decisions which may have been delayed waiting for this announcement.

‘Something had to be done with business rates and by extending the relief beyond April, this gives businesses of all shapes and sizes some breathing space in which to grow and boost local economies in 2014.’

The government now brings in £27 billion from business rates, constituting more than council tax and fuel duty.

Freezing business rates has eased the burden on businesses and given time for the tax to be reformed over the next couple of years, adds McLoughlin.

See also: Guide to pre-trading expenditure

Related topics: Tax & Vat

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Paul Polak Shares Tips For Finding 'The Business Solution To Poverty'

Paul Polak was a social entrepreneur before it became sexy to be one. Polak first joined the global community of “do-gooders” in 1981 as founder of iDE, a social enterprise that pioneered foot-powered pumps for poor farmers in Southeast Asia. The rudimentary irrigation technology has reportedly reached 19 million farmers in the world, thanks to iDE’s efforts. Polak went on to create D-Rev, the Bay Area-based design company that concocts new designs (on a budget) for the “other” 90%, he says.

Polak is 79 years old but still zipping the globe to deliver electricity, water, and other basic needs to the world so-called “bottom billion.” His latest book, The Business Solution to Poverty, co-authored with non-profit guru Mal Warwick, looks at the nitty gritty of the social innovation space.

Polak spoke with Esha Chhabra at his Denver residence about the new book, the need to scale, and the imperative changes needed in the sector to get real results.

What do you hope to achieve with this second book, The Business Solution to Poverty?

I want to create a global movement to end poverty for 2.7 billion two-dollar-a-day people. It takes off where the first book, Out of Poverty, left off. It addresses the problem of how to reach scale by creating a new breed of frontier multinational. In the book I describe every practical step required to create a new big business that has three goals: to transform the livelihoods of at least 100 million two-dollar-a-day customers, to generate annual revenues of at least $10 billion, and to earn attractive enough profits to bring in commercial global investors.

What is your advice to people before they launch a business?

Over 25 years in starting and running iDE, I learned that the first step is to talk to people as customers rather than recipients of charity, and to find out what their needs, preferences, and aspirations for the future are. Then you build the technology and the business strategy around what you learn. The process of learning shapes what you do in designing the technology and operating the company.

At what point should a company scale?

At the point at which you have the first idea to do something. You don’t scale anything by creating a project and then tacking scale on the end of it. You accomplish scale by keeping scale in mind from the beginning. I won’t touch anything unless it has the potential—if successful—to reach 100 million two-dollar-a-day customers. That means that you have to do the winnowing process at the very beginning.

To reach 100 million customers, you really need a problem that affects a billion potential customers, because a realistic target is to reach 10 percent of the market. So you start thinking—and it really is a question of thinking differently—what are the problems that have a billion potential customers? Well, there are a lot of them: there are a billion people who don’t have access to safe drinking water, electricity, affordable nutritious foods, education. There are just under a billion people who need eye glasses but don’t have them. There are probably a billion people who need crop insurance—it can be as specific as that. And the list goes on and on.

When you pick a problem, you plan from the beginning to ultimately reach a scale of 100 million. In my case, I see that happening over a 10-year process.

Do you collaborate with non-profit organizations?

The central operating style is to run everything as a for-profit business, but we will work with other organizations.

For example, in the drinking water business, part of the issue is public education: people in the village have to be brought up to speed on the relationship between drinking bad water and illness. For now, we’re trying to cover that deficit through for-profit, blitz marketing approaches. But in the future, if there are customers we can’t reach by the commercial method, we might work with granted non-profits who help with public education—we’re not against bringing in organizations that can help reach that market.

The question is: what kind of market penetration do you want to reach? We’re shooting for 50 percent; we’re able to reach 30 percent now. Maybe to reach the last 20 percent we’ll need some collaboration with non-profits.

What changes do you want to see as social enterprise evolves?

There are a lot of problems with social enterprise. It’s sort of like saying ‘sustainability’ and ‘green’—it becomes popular and loses all meaning.

One of the biggest problems is that there is a huge tendency for young people to be attracted to self-congratulatory conferences and incubation processes that help them make elevator pitches, write business plans, and market what they’re doing. But unfortunately, it often takes them away from doing the grunt work that’s needed to start a business on the ground.

I think it’s backward. Unfortunately, the charity model is based on having good marketing to raise money to support the charity, and that often puts the cart before the horse. The non-profit development organizations that are successful know how to market, but they often are weak in making it actually work in the field.

I would like to see social entrepreneurs start by going to where the action is, talking to the people who have the problem, listening to what they have to say, and doing the grunt work in the field. And then coming back and improving their skills at elevator pitches.

This story is written by Esha Chhabra and Ben Thurman, brought to you in partnership with Dowser.org, a media organization that reports on social innovation, focusing on the question: Who is solving what and how?

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Julie Uhrman's OUYA Out to Disrupt $70 Billion Gaming Business

A Series of Forbes Insights Profiles of Thought  Leaders changing the  Business Landscape: Julie Uhrman, Founder and CEO of Ouya

The video gaming business is BIG business. According to Newzoo’s 2013 Global Games Market Report, video game revenues will grow to $70.4 billion worldwide this year, representing a 6% year-on-year increase. The number of gamers is expected to surpass 1.2 billion by the end of the year.  The latest Xbox console just launched with one million units sold in the first 24 hours.  Sony’s Ps4 release has reached five million units to date since its launch in November.

Julie Uhrman, OUYA Founder and CEO Julie Uhrman, OUYA Founder and CEO

So what business does Julie Uhrman’s new video gaming console and platform company, OUYA, have going up against the big boys in this hyper competitive, high-risk market?   Calling OUYA an underdog in this business is the understatement of the year.  And yet there is the real possibility that Julie Uhrman’s irrepressible resolve, competitive spirit and personal passion for the gaming business make OUYA a potential David among the Goliaths.

“We exist because people wanted us to exist,” says the hyper-enthusiastic Uhrman. “Last July we sought to raise $950,000 through Kickstarter.  We surpassed the  $1 million mark in the first eight hours of the campaign—63,000 people invested in our idea and we ended up raising over $8 million in total,” continues Uhrman.

OUYA is re-thinking and re-inventing the way video games are created, played and sold.  In an age of multi-billion dollar game console launches and mega game franchises like Call of Duty that rival any entertainment franchise in any media or movie studio, OUYA is building a company for and by the gamer community built on the premise that an open system will bring in a ground swell of game developers and gamers who don’t want to have to choose between one game platform system or another.

Julie is the personification of the market she serves. An avid gamer herself, she plays platformers, third person shooters and, most of all, she loves playing games on the television. But the last few years, she’s played more on mobile phones, because that’s where the action’s been. She wants to go back to playing on a TV, which is why she founded OUYA. By combining classic console format with the ease-of-access of open mobile SDK’s, Julie seeks to make OUYA the open pathway for all developers – AAA and indie alike – to bring their craft to the world.

“Developers had moved away from the TV to mobile because it’s easier and less expensive.  This gave rise to amazing games like ‘Candy Crush’ that has no real goal, no story and don’t fit into any genre, yet are still incredibly entertaining and addictive. What OUYA has done is provide an open, mobile-based platform for people to develop the games they love to play, then giving gamers access to play them on their television where they can have the best entertainment experiences with those games.”

To add to its challenger business model and attitude, OUYA is a female-led company in a predominately male dominated industry. “I have mostly women working with me at OUYA, but it’s only a function of finding the best talent — Kellee Santiago is the Head of Developer Relations (formerly co-president/founder of thatgamecompany), Patricia Parra is the Head of Marketing and Product Strategy (formerly of Hulu and HBO GO), Abby Topolsky is Head of Communications (formerly of EA) and Julie White is the Head of Finance (formerly of Activision).”

OUYA Game Console OUYA Game Console Sells for $99

“We want to be open and accessible to all types of games and gamers. Up until now, the television has been a locked box, but mobile opened the door to developers. We also wanted to create something that was affordable but still offered amazing gaming experiences, and that is why OUYA is priced at just $99 and all of our games are free to try – we want people to love the game before they buy it. OUYA also has a really powerful chip to create an immersive experience for people playing our games,” says Uhrman.

Started on Kickstarter a little over a year ago, OUYA is building a new platform based on the Android OS. Their App store is a free to try model and they are building a new community of games, gamers and developers. “How do you get games if you don’t have content?  How do you get developers to create content if you don’t have gamers? (Our model) is the opposite of the ‘game of dreams’ mentality of ‘build it and they will come.’  Our model is ‘if you come, we’ll build it and that is different from any other console or platform out there,” says Uhrman.

The console and game platform launched in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. in June. “Since we launched, we have 28,000 developers working on the platform. We established our own community who believes what we believe and what we’re doing. For example, we learned that 8% of men are color blind—so our community asked us to change the controller design and we did. We’re a team of 33 by payroll—but we have tens of thousands of people who contribute to building the platform and the company which means that ultimately, we are building this together,” says Uhrman. “There was a general head nod that this model makes sense—but most people think ‘there’s no way you are going up against Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo and survive, let alone succeed.’  The goal was to use as many tools that were open so that anyone can use OUYA as the canvas to have or create a great game experience,” continues Uhrman.

Julie provides some examples of the developer community created games coming out of the OUYA platform: “One of our developers has a child battling cancer.  He has made a game around that experience that he feels should be shared—through the television. We also have a game called ‘Astronaut Rescue’ that an eight year-old developed while he recovered after a skiing accident. Guys that have been working on a game for five years now have an outlet for their creativity and passion to be published. In the end, we’re a partner with our developer community and when true partnerships like this happen – and you allow the community into the system –  the results will be unspeakably exciting games that people love to play,” says Uhrman.  There are now so many tools to create your own games—Unity, Unreal, etc.—that provide opportunities for the truly homespun game developer.

“OUYA stands for ‘Open, Universal and Ya just sounded good,” is how Uhrman describes the genesis for the company name.  The company works on a 70/30 revenue share model with their developer community (70% going to the game developer) and have built retail distribution partnerships with the likes of Amazon and Target stores nationwide.  “So far we’ve far exceeded expectations and we have more than 500 games in our system, 70 of which are exclusive to OUYA – demand is incredibly high since we launched in June. To-date, TowerFall is the most popular game on OUYA , but this is just one of many and we’re really excited to see what’s to come from the developers publishing on our platform as we continue to grow,” continues Uhrman. “We announced the idea in July 2012, shipped our first retail unit in June of 2013 and this October we expanded to Europe, the Middle East, Poland and Brazil. Kickstarter taught us that there is a place for an open platform. Even more, the device is beautiful and the design is elegant. It offers an incredible 1080P visual experience on your TV, with games that you can play with your best friends on your coach. What’s better than that?” exclaimed Uhrman.

Julie’s upbringing and background have positioned her well to take on the gaming establishment. “I’ve always loved games.  I wrote code early. I was born and raised in L.A. and have been around the creative process all of my life—though I don’t consider myself creative. My step father was an entrepreneur and he told me to always be on the revenue side of the business, but still raised my twin sister and me to  believe that everything is possible. Now as an adult,  when people say no, I think that they are just not spending the time to think it through. If you believe you offer something of true value, then ‘no’ doesn’t matter,” says Uhrman.  Julie did her undergrad at Washington University, where she and her sister played basketball.  She then got her MBA at UCLA.