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Useful advice, tips and business news.

June 7, 2019
May 5, 2021


Why Content is More Than King for Small Business Owners

Content is king when it comes to marketing your business, but to small business owners content is more than King – it is the heart of your operation.

Most of us have heard the saying that 'content is king' when it comes to marketing your business, but to small business owners content is more than King – it is the heart and soul of your operation.Now, more than ever, a small business owner needs to create and share very worthy content as part of your business marketing strategy. Without good quality content, no-one is going to be aware of your business and what you have to offer.

The importance of relevant content for the small operator

For the solo-entrepreneur, single info-entrepreneur and digital marketers, it is even more critical to make content the very base foundation of your business services that everything else can be built from.No matter where you look for marketing help these days, the advice is always the same – produce unique, highly targeted and good quality content.Your content needs to be authentic and should be able to solve a problem that your target audience has, or helps to educate them further about a particular topic, or alternatively outright entertains them!It is important that you cast your content net as far and as wide as possible, so this means building a well-structured website with solid pages that provide evergreen information and then backing up your website with a blog.You should make a point of updating your blog with fresh information on a regular basis, especially when you start to build a list of followers who will be expecting you to post regularly.Link in your social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) and if possible include things such as videos, live webinar chats, podcasts that will engage with your audience and deliver plenty of useful information.

The Heart and Soul of Small Business

As a small business owner or solo-entrepreneur, your content is a reflection of you. You should put yourself into your content and believe in what you create. By producing genuine content you will build a lot of trust in your target audience.What will keep them coming back for more and eventually convince them to buy from you is your sincerity, believability and the passion you put into your content – your very heart and soul.This is especially true for any infopreneurs that are selling informational products. What you sell needs to be believable and genuinely useful to your end customer. Your content and your branding are interlinked and are presented as a package to your target audience.If your customers believe in one they will believe in the other. So if you win their trust by providing them with high-quality content they will learn to trust your brand and will be open to reading the offerings that you send out in the future.

Temper your content well

When you create your content you do not want to just present dry facts and boring information. You need to make your content sound human and very conversational.Think along the lines of sitting down with a friend and having a conversation with them. Offer thought-provoking information and insights that will raise their curiosity and desire to find out more.Opening a dialogue with your audience works really well for customer engagement. It makes your company look and feel more human, approachable and open to a two-way conversation.Making a share-worthy blog where a reader will consume your content and will want to share it with their family or friends will result in your content being actively passed around long after you have posted it.This is the power of using your content wisely on social media platforms where your target audience can read your content then will “Like,” “comment” and “Share” to their own timeline or newsfeed.

Online conversations are free!

One of the greatest things about engaging with your readers on social media platforms is that you will be taking part in online conversations, which is the new medium for marketing your product and services. And what's more your content will be spread around and shared for free!This can be a real bonus for small business owners or sole traders working with very limited marketing budgets.Remember that online engagement and activity is the next big thing in marketing and is on a par with word of mouth marketing where your customers will be recommending your products or services to their peers.By making your content share-worthy your target audience will read your posts and then instantly share it with their friends and family, and most likely a lot of their peers will fit your ideal customer demographic, so you will be reaching out to more people who will like and follow you on social media.

Finding the time to create quality content

The whole point here is to create as much high-quality content as you can and publish it on your blog and across your social media accounts. Even if your content doesn't get shared much it will still count as valuable in the eyes of the major search engines.Google, Bing and other search engines value websites and blogs that contain great content. They will more likely rank you higher in search engine results for your chosen keywords when you are seen to be an active contributor with a good library of published information and someone who posts fresh content on a regular basis.This is why it is important to find a good balance of creating quality content and posting it regularly enough to make a difference.However, if you are a solo-entrepreneur or a small business where you don't have the available staff free to dedicate their time to produce great content on a regular basis, then you could look at outsourcing either your content writing or some of your everyday office tasks.If you have a flair for writing and want to produce your own content, then you can really dedicate your time into pouring your heart and soul into creating rich and vibrant content to share.If you are not very good at writing, on the other hand, it would be worth looking to hire a freelance content creator to do this work for you.Should you want to create your own content, then look at outsourcing your other office-based day to day tasks that will enable you to work undisturbed in peace and quiet to draw up your content.

Outsourcing your essential office tasks

Imagine being left in peace to work on writing your blog posts, creating an infographic or filming an informational video for your business without being disturbed by your ringing phone.You can have your business telephone calls answered in a professional manner by using our Professional Unlimited Call Handling services.Our call answering service is an affordable yet professional service designed to help a variety of clients to manage their incoming calls. With our call answering service, our PA’s answer your phone calls allowing you have peace of mind that you haven’t missed an important call as you were unavailable.Having a professional Virtual PA to answer your calls can add thousand to your business. You can impress your new and existing clients with our professional call handling service. Our team of professional PA’s will personally greet your clients and handle your call with the greatest of care.You can choose to have messages taken or important calls transferred live through to you if you need to speak to any important clients. Our service is flexible and adaptive, designed to add real value to your business. Don’t waste another call, have your calls handled expertly by trained assistants today.We also offer Complete Virtual Office services should you really want your business to be taken seriously and to project a professional image.If you would like to speak to one of our friendly team about how we can help your business to succeed then give us a call on 0207 5663939 or email us at office@capital-office.co.uk

April 17, 2019
May 5, 2021


How To Create Your Perfect Customer Avatar

It is important to create a perfect customer avatar for knowing your ideal customer inside out while allowing you to know their pain points and requirements.

This is an important question for all sorts of reasons, especially in relation to the future success of your business.While it is important to understand your target audience you cannot really relate to them unless you are exactly the same as them. For example, you simply will not be able to comprehend what your ideal customer will think or feel throughout their everyday life, or how negatively their problems affect them every day without you yourself being able to walk in the same shoes.I doubt that you will ever understand what challenges your prospective customer faces unless you are actually selling a product or service that has helped or does help you!Talking about walking in the same shoes – let's say that you have found a niche market for shoe lifts (these are inserts that go into your shoes to make you taller). It feels great to you that you are helping short people feel a little better about themselves through using your shoe lifts.But how could you possibly know how they think or feel about their lack of height if you yourself are over six foot tall?

Get to know your target customers better

The point I am trying to make here is that the better you can think or feel what life is like from your target customers point of view, the better your sales and marketing efforts will be in attracting and engaging with them.The most successful marketers working for big-brand names make it their business to be absolutely in-tune with their target audience at every level.Many leading marketers in these fields actually are customers themselves so they constantly live with the very products that they are selling. They know their target market inside-out because they are one of them.So, how well do you really know the person that you are selling to? Do you really know them at all?

Time to do your homework!

If you don't think that you know your target customer very well, or you can even admit to not knowing them at all, then it is time to learn as much about them as you can.Believe me, the sales and marketing world is a cut-throat business these days. If you don't know your target customer at all well, you can guarantee that your direct competitors probably will!The best way to really get to know and understand your target audience is to build yourself your ideal customer avatar. You need to narrow down and get to know your ideal client or customer.

How to define your customer avatar

You may be wondering why it is so important to build a customer avatar. The simple answer to this is because knowing your ideal customer inside out will allow you to know their pain points.Knowing how your product or service can help to solve, reduce or manage their related problem will allow you to better target your marketing and make it more effective.

By defining your customer avatar you will be able to:

  • Find out where should you advertise your product or service to maximize its exposure to your target customer
  • The best vocabulary and tone of voice to use in your marketing
  • The type or style of marketing that connects with your ideal customer
  • What story your marketing content should be telling

Visualising your customer avatar

Humans are quite visual creatures by nature so it will help your efforts to understand your customer greatly if you give your avatar a name and a composite picture. You could use a cartoon image or a stock photograph of someone that looks like your kind of customer.By picturing them as an actual person you can ask yourself more questions and come up with a background story for your customer.

There is something about 'Mary'

Let's say that you name your customer avatar Mary. You could then think about how your product or service will help Mary to solve an issue. Then ask yourself where you can position your product or service where it will reach Mary.Let's say that Mary has a problem with dry, flaky skin. She is very self-conscious about her skin and is yet to find an effective skin cream that helps. She also works long hours in an air-conditioned office that has a drying effect on her skin.Mary often flies overseas on business, so also needs to be able to safely carry a conveniently sized and packaged skin cream that complies with airline safety rules.Mary needs a high-quality skin cream that is pleasant to use and easy to apply. She also needs to be able to carry it with her to apply during her lunch break at work and during trips.

How your skin cream can help Mary

Your skin cream has proven to be very effective in soothing and nourishing dry skin. It also comes conveniently contained in a travel pack that can be easily and safely carried in a handbag, which makes it ideal to be used when away from home while at work or while travelling.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about Mary:

  • Which social media platform will Mary use this week?
  • Where does Mary work? Will she be online at home in the evening or during the day?
  • What magazines does Mary read?
  • What sort of message would make Mary stop to take notice of our product?

Finding answers to these questions will help you get a better feel for Mary, how to reach her and how your dry skin cream can help her with:

  • Effectively treating her dry skin
  • Being able to carry a supply of cream with her
  • Trusting the cream packaging won't break or leak in her handbag
  • Is supplied in conveniently sized packs to meet with air travel safety rules

Why it is about more than numbers

Your marketing success has more than just statistics and figures to look at. Yes, numbers are useful for looking at your sales as a whole, but by going deeper and creating an individual end user avatar you can help yourself to keep your marketing message on point and targeted to the individual.If you take the time to build your ideal customer avatar and get to know them inside out as if they were a real person, you could even start to ask them rhetorical questions. Your avatar will be able to answer your questions to help you make better marketing decisions.Too many marketers fail when they try to target 'everyone' as their prospective customer. The trouble is if you target everybody then you will end up attracting no-one.

Don't forget to include the human touch

Creating an ideal customer avatar is building a fictional character that embodies your ideal customer. You may, in fact, have need of more than one customer avatar if your product or service also appeals to different customers – this is fine too.However, remember that once you have gained your customers you will need to do your very best to retain their custom and trust in your business.You should never forget the human touch in business. This means having real-life people to take care of their needs and be there to answer their live questions.Make sure your customer calls are answered by a real person that can help them. If you are too busy to do this yourself because you are a sole trader or small company with minimal staff, you can solve this problem with our Unlimited Call Handling Service from Capital Office, London.So while you are busy creating your ideal customer avatar and using him or her to help devise your next marketing strategy, you can feel reassured that you are not missing a single telephone call.You can be free to concentrate on your next marketing campaign safe in the knowledge that your business calls are being handled by our team of professional personal assistants who will be answering your clients with your chosen greeting and dealing with your calls as you instruct.Don't forget that Capital Office can supply you with a whole range of helpful virtual office services that are ideal for small businesses and solo-entrepreneurs that want to keep their costs down while providing their customers with top-class customer services.Good luck with building your ideal customer avatar! We hope you find this information useful.

February 20, 2019
May 5, 2021


How To Automate Your Home Office Tasks

In this article, you’ll be able to find out how you can automate your home office tasks that affect the inner workings of your electronic equipment, and more.

Sole traders and small business owners working from a home-based office actually have a lot more pressure put on them when compared to doing a paid job working from an employers office space.

While the majority of people imagine that being your own boss comes with a lot of freedom, but in most cases the opposite is true.

You may think that every solo entrepreneur or small business owner can sit around all day in their pyjamas, drinking coffee and having the TV on in the background while they work from a laptop.

This image may seem really appealing, especially if you have to face the daily grind of commuting to an office every day, sitting in slow moving traffic, feeling uncomfortable sitting at your desk all day while wearing a suit, tie and tight shoes.

However, there are a lot of things that you can take for granted in your employed job that a small business owner must factor in. We are talking here about time-consuming, yet very important tasks, such as emptying your office waste bin, keeping your office environment clean and free from dust that can seriously affect the inner workings of your electronic equipment, and more....

More responsibilities than you think!

But it is not only the added tasks of a bit of office cleaning that you will need to take care of – the security of your home office will also fall squarely onto your shoulders.

An employer will provide their workers with a safe environment to work within and this includes having Health & Safety policies in place to keep staff physically safe and free from injury, but also Data Protection procedures that prevent sensitive data breaches and company information falling into criminal hands.

Working for an employer will also mean that your boss will be the one paying out for security staff, CCTV, security access points, fire alarm systems and equipment, smart locks and physical window and door locks.

Just because you run your business from your home office doesn't mean that you don't need to have security measures in place to protect your customer information and business data to remain compliant with the current Data Protection Act.

However, there are a lot of steps you can take to help automate your home office and free up your time from your day-to-day administrative tasks that are essential to the success of your business.

How to utilise digital assistants in your office

With the introduction of digital assistants in the form of Amazon's Alexa and others, we have been able to revolutionise our homes. Digital assistants have fundamentally changed the way a growing number of us interact with our digital devices.

Voice-activated AI technology is growing more versatile by the day. We are now seeing Alexa and other digital assistants being able to take on many different tasks in the day-to-day operation of our small businesses.

Setting up Alexa or an Echo-dot in your home office can immediately start to pay for itself through automating task such as scheduling your diary, conferencing calls, running productivity tools to keep you focussed on your work, organising your to-do lists, and delivering data.

Here are just three useful examples of how using a digital assistant can save you time and effort:

Automate your conference call schedule:

You can use a conferencing managing tool to sync with Google Calendar. This will help to remind you of your next conference call and will automatically connect your call without you needing to dial the number. You would simply need to say out loud: "Alexa, tell Conference Manager to start my conference call."

Organise your travel with email assistant:

If your home business involves visiting clients, then you can sync Alexa with an email assistant tool. This handy tool will parse your email inbox to find and read back travel confirmations, so if you want a quick rundown about your car rental, hotel booking or flight details, you will get the information you need without needing to physically check your emails for the information. You would simply need to say: "Alexa, ask Email Assistant what time is my hotel check-in."

Get up to date web analytics:

As well as delivering current news and curated data, your digital assistant can also give you real-time website data. Alexa offers web analytic tools that can sync with Google Analytics to deliver you fresh, real-time updates on your website data, such as visitor numbers and web traffic.

There are new skills being added by the day to digital assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant. It is worth keeping up with the latest releases and useful tools that can help free up your time and keep on top of your office based tasks.

Automating your business bookkeeping and accounting

Balancing your books and keeping track of your business expenses can be an incredibly tedious job for most small business owners. Rather than sitting and pouring over your business bookkeeping and accounts for hours each week or month, you can look at automating these essential, yet quite boring tasks.

By using an online bookkeeping and accounting service, such as Quickbooks for example, you can transform how you do your company accounts.

Many sole traders will start out simple and use free tools and easy systems to get them off the ground and the money rolling in. This can involve creating a simple invoice in Word and sending this to your customers at the end of each month, or on the completion of your work project.

A physical paper-based cash book would then be used to note down all income and outgoings, along with petty cash and recording of business-related receipts.

Instead, by automating your bookkeeping and accounts through an online service, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. Your accounting service will sync with your business bank account and any merchant trading accounts you have. Every time you make a business transaction it will be recorded. You can scan in physical receipts for petty cash and non-electronic spending.

What is also a major time-saver with online accounting software is that you can create and send invoices in seconds. These will be logged and tracked and you will be sent an automatic reminder of any late payments and outstanding invoice details.

You will be able to see at a glance how much you are owed, how much you have spent and know instantly the state of your business cash flow. This is so much better than having to work out all of your figures by hand.

Automating your Annual Reporting

As a sole trader or small business owner, you will need to complete and submit your annual tax return based on your income and expenditure for each tax year. You can prepare and submit these easily by yourself by using an online accounting solution, such as Quickbooks or a similar option.

As a sole trader, you will need to pay tax according to your income tax band. You will also need to pay either Class 2 or Class 4 National Insurance contributions, depending on your total business profits. Again, your tax and NI contributions can be automatically worked out for you using your online accounting solution.

If you are a limited company, you will also be required to complete and file your audited company accounts each year. This is necessary to keep your company compliant with the law, but it will also show you the financial health of your business. Your figures will also be used to work out how much corporation tax you will need to pay.

Ideally, you should have your company accounts drawn up by a qualified business accountant. This can be an expensive overhead for a lot of micro-businesses owners, especially if they are used throughout the year to keep checks and balances on your business finances, so using an online accounting system to do all of the legwork for you can make your record keeping as simple as possible.

You can set up your own personal gateway online with HMRC and this portal will allow you pay your self assessment tax bill each year, as well as check on things such as your pension entitlement assessment for when you retire, and details of any benefit payments that you currently receive, such as Tax Credits.

Freeing yourself from your home office

As a business owner working from home, you will have important day-to-day tasks to perform that are essential to keeping your business ticking over. This includes completing menial tasks without becoming distracted or sidetracked.

It can be hard to concentrate on your work if you are worried about what is going on right outside of your home office door. You may have a sick child at home that needs your attention, or you may be trying to work during school holidays and your kids are causing chaos.

Before you know it, you have lost a day's worth of productivity and important business calls have been missed or cut short. Your incoming business mail is piling up and left unopened, and your emails are stacking up in your inbox, but you are unable to work through them because you are struggling to juggle with so many other office tasks.

You can take steps to free yourself from your everyday office tasks and be there for your family whenever they need you. It is possible to escape your home office to take care of family matters knowing that while you are absent all of your important business telephone calls are still being answered promptly, professionally and in a friendly manner.

Now would be a perfect time to make use of very flexible and cost-effective virtual office services, such as those offered by Capital Office, London.

Whether you want to have your business phone calls covered when you need to concentrate on work, meet with important clients, or simply spend time looking after a family member when they are sick, you can use our unlimited business call answering service or you can go the whole hog and have our complete virtual office services at your fingertips when you need a little extra help.

By using virtual office services to free you from your every day time-consuming administrative tasks you can focus your time and energy on other more important things, such as getting a work project completed to meet an impending deadline, meeting with customers or potential new B2B partners or trade suppliers.

Capital Office, London is here to help you if you are struggling to run your own business from home or find your everyday business admin tasks are becoming a little overwhelming. You can find out more about the benefits of using an unlimited call answering service and how it can set you free from being tied to your home office telephone. Or you can discover how using a complete virtual office can actually be good for you and your business if you are a sole trader.

February 13, 2019
May 5, 2021


Five Benefits Of Using Live Call Answering Service

Let’s take a closer look at the five major benefits of using our Professional Unlimited Live Call Answering Services for your small or large business.

For a business owner on a tight budget, making good use of a live business call answering service can make a lot of sense. Firstly, using an unlimited call answering service such as the one provided by Capital Office, London will actually save you a lot of money.

Because you don't actually have to go to the expense of hiring your own reception staff and providing them with costly offices and IT and telephony equipment to be able to take your incoming business calls, you can reap plenty of financial benefits from using an all-inclusive service instead.

Let's take a closer look at the five major benefits of using our Professional Unlimited Call Answering services:

1: Have your own receptionist without hiring one

You can enjoy the full benefit of having your very own company receptionist without actually having to go through the motions of employing one. When you take on a salaried employee, your responsibilities towards your staff can be huge!

Think about your commitments to providing them with a contract, full-time salary at around £25,000 + per year, holiday and sickness entitlements, pension and NI contributions. This is just to employ them to answer your phones.

Instead, you could choose to use a live telephone answering service that provides you will all of the benefits of having a real-life company receptionist, but without having to shoulder all of the associated financial costs and your employer's commitments and obligations.

At just a fraction of the costs associated with hiring your own staff, you can get your virtual receptionist to handle all of your business calls in the way you want. Plus the fact that because you will be using a virtual service like ours with multiple receptionists, we can handle high volume calls to your business.

This means that you will never miss a single incoming business call, no matter how busy your phone line gets. If your budget would only allow you to stretch to hiring one in-house receptionist to handle all of your incoming business calls, how many prospective new customer calls do you think would be missed while your receptionist was busy dealing with just one incoming call?

A professional call answering service such as ours is a perfect fit for a sole trader, solo entrepreneur or a small business or partnership with very few staff members.

2: Present a professional company image

As a business owner, you will appreciate that your customers are key to your success. If you want your business to survive and thrive, then you need to provide exemplary customer services. This includes the very first impression you make when prospective new customers call your business telephone number.

Instead of having their call greeted by a very flustered and tense business owner, they can have their called answered in a professional and courteous manner by a fully-trained and highly experienced virtual receptionist using the business greeting of your choice.

Your customers will get an immediate great first impression of your company and be filled with confidence that you are a professional outfit that takes your work seriously. Your callers will have no idea how large or small your business really is.

This is why our call answering services are so valuable for new start-ups and lean businesses that don't want the extra expense of running a physical office. You can set up your office structure to be as lean and cost-effective as possible by making good use of virtual office services.

Depending on what you have planned each day, we can take care of your calls to allow you to focus on an urgent work project that demands your full attention, or allow you to hit the road to travel to a client without having to pull your car over to answer your phone, or allow you to lock yourself into a business meeting for the day without being disturbed or interrupted by your phone.

Whatever your day-to-day business tasks involve, having your calls answered swiftly and politely by skilled professional receptionists offers you an outstanding customer service experience without the risk of missing out on potential new customers because you are too busy to take your own calls.

3: Hit the ground running

By using a professional call answering service such as ours, you can start from day one with our team of skilled virtual receptionists seamlessly integrating with your company.

Because you don't have to concern yourself with any staff training you can use our services in the full knowledge that our team of receptionists are fully trained and ready to handle your calls.

We literally hit the ground running with our virtual services. This means that you get a 100% professional service right from day one without having to invest a single moment of your precious time into any staff training.

4: Free up your working day

We all know how crucially important it is to make sure you answer your business phone calls. However, when you are trying to focus your time and energy on actually doing your work and running your business, you can often be left wishing that there were more hours in the day or that all of your callers would ring you within a one-hour time slot so you could get your work done in peace.

By using a professional live call answering service such as ours, you will be able to untie yourself from your company phone. You will be able to take your time back and use it more constructively while your callers feel like they have been well looked after.

Our Professional Unlimited Call Answering Service will make sure that your day can be used more productively, whether that is meeting an up and coming deadline, conducting a business meeting or even spending the day balancing the books when you don't want your concentration broken.

We can relay your messages to you as and when you want us to, plus if you are awaiting an important client phone call, we will know to put that call directly through to you.

5: Free yourself from cold callers

What can be more frustrating for a busy business owner than having their day constantly interrupted by cold callers?

By using our live call answering services, you can be left completely free from the nuisance that is business cold callers. Not only are cold callers frustrating but 99% of the time what they are offering has no importance to your business or are of any interest to yourself personally.

Your virtual receptionist will be able to screen all of your incoming calls so that no cold callers get past them. Our screening process will ensure that only your important calls are put through to you when you want to hear from them in person, and your phone messages that we relay to you are from genuine business callers.

Our services offer great flexibility that allows you to choose which callers you want putting through live, and which caller messages you want to look at and call back at a time that is convenient for you.

Find out more information about our Professional Unlimited Call Answering Service or do not hesitate to talk to us if you want to discuss your virtual office needs. We are here to help!

January 16, 2019
May 5, 2021


10 Ways to Improve Your Business With Our Call Answering Services

Let’s take a closer look at ten ways that using a professional call answering service or hiring a virtual receptionist can help your business to improve.

There has been an increasing rise in popularity of using virtual receptionists and professional call answering services amongst solo-entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses across the UK in recent years. The reasons for the rise in popularity of these services is quite obvious once you take a look at the many benefits that using these virtual services can bring to your business and how they can help you to improve your productivity levels and bottom line.

Let's take a closer look at ten ways that using a professional call answering service or hiring a virtual receptionist can help your business to improve.

1: No need to hire and train new staff

One of the most obvious benefits for your business, especially if you are a sole trader or solo-entrepreneur that employs no other staff, is the fact that you will have a fully trained professional virtual receptionist ready to take your business calls from day one.

Professional call answering services, such as our own team at Capital Offices in London, are all fully-trained individuals with years of experience of working as a virtual receptionist. This means that as soon as you book our services, you will get immediate telephone coverage with polite and professional receptionists answering your calls using the greeting of your choice.

You will be saving yourself a heck of a lot of time and money hiring a virtual receptionist rather than employing one for your business by yourself. Employing your own receptionist will mean paying for a job advert, sorting through tons of job applications, shortlisting the best candidates, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews and then having to complete all the legal paperwork, registration with HMRC and drawing up of a contract of employment.

All this hassle and expense even before you can start to benefit from having the help of a receptionist! Then there is the settling in period and the training needed, especially if you have chosen someone with little receptionist experience.

It is so much simpler, quicker, cheaper and less hassle to use a good call answering service instead!

2: No more cold callers!

We all know that you cannot afford to ignore your ringing phone, especially if you are running a business where you are encouraging prospective new customers to call you for more information about your products or services.

Advertising your business number and making it visible to the general public will not only enable you to receive calls and enquiries from prospective new customers, as well as existing customers, but you are also opening yourself up to calls from sales reps and cold callers from all sorts of different industries. It can be incredibly frustrating to answer your business phone to find that maybe three out of five incoming calls are from sales reps or survey companies.

With a professional call answering service, you will never need to take the call in the first place. Your own virtual receptionist will be able to screen all of your calls for you, which means that you will only get genuine business calls coming through to you that actually want to get.

3: Put your productivity into overdrive

By using our high-quality call answering services you can truly maximise your productivity levels and take them to new heights! We all know that constantly being disturbed by your phone ringing can break your concentration and take your focus away from your important work tasks.

Having your own virtual receptionist will enable you to safely ignore your phone and allow you to continue to focus on your work projects without disruption. You don't need to worry about missed sales opportunities or missing important messages from your clients or customers because your virtual receptionist will intercept your calls on your behalf and leave you in peace to get on with your work. Your business caller will still feel very valued in your absence because their call has been answered swiftly, politely and professionally.

4: Travel between meetings safely

If your business involves you being on the road a lot travelling between customers or clients, then you will have a problem with answering your phone safely. It may be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming to constantly need to pull your car over to the side of the road to simply answer your phone each time it rings.

We all know that it is against the law to drive while on a mobile phone, so ignoring this can seriously put your safety at risk while driving. If you are spotted driving while on your phone by a police officer or a surveillance camera, you can face a hefty fine and points on your driving licence.

You can travel more safely between your appointments with more concentration and with fewer interruptions when you put your business calls into the hands of a professional virtual receptionist.

5: Phone cover while in meetings

There can be nothing more frustrating for your clients or customers than you constantly interrupting your business meeting by taking incoming calls on your phone. Your call answering service can take down important messages for you while you are busy in your meeting and quickly deliver them to you once you are free and able to respond to your messages.

6: Prioritise your callers

When you are busy working or in a meeting, you need to focus on what you are doing at the time. This can often mean having to miss a call or query from an important existing customer or B2B partner. Your virtual receptionist will be able to take messages from your general callers, but will also be briefed about any very important callers that need to be prioritised. This can often mean putting these calls directly through to you regardless of where you are or what you are doing.

7: Make your business look bigger than it is

Your prospective new customers will call you for more information about your products and services. When they have their call answered by a professional receptionist, they will immediately get an impression of a large and successful business with an organised set-up. This is a much better first impression to create in your customer’s mind than to have their call answered by a very flustered and irritated business owner that is trying to juggle too many tasks at once.

This can help to reassure prospective new customers or B2B clients that may be a little wary about dealing with a small, unknown company.

8: Much better customer service

The success of your business starts and ends with your customers. Without them, you would have no business! Keeping your customers happy and well treated is of vital importance for your business success, so having a very professional virtual receptionist on hand to answer customer calls promptly, politely and with a friendly manner, each and every time they call will add so much power to your ability to convert prospects to paying customers.

A consistent level of high-quality customer service can build a lot of trust and loyalty in your customers that means they are more likely to repeat-buy from you rather than go to one of your competitors.

9: Flexible services

Hiring our call answering services gives you a lot of flexibility that you couldn't get from employing your own staff. You may be working from a very tight budget that means you cannot afford to employ a full-time receptionist for your business. Staff wages and all the added expenses that come with providing your employees with the IT equipment and infrastructure needed for them to do an effective job all costs a lot of money.

The great thing with professional unlimited call answering services such as ours is that you can tailor it to suit your needs. You can save yourself a lot of money by using our virtual solution for just one month, three months, six months or twelve months – as you need us!

10: You get to keep more of your money

Quite simply, it is far more cost-effective for you to use virtual services such as our Professional Unlimited Call Answering Service because it is far more affordable than employing your own staff and kitting out an office or reception area of your own.

In many cases, a sole trader or solo-entrepreneur that is happy working from home can completely avoid the necessity and costs of setting up a physical office for their business if they are happy to continue along as they are and have no plans to expand their business beyond creating a job for themselves alone. Or if they prefer to have a small and flexible workspace where their team can collaborate together without having any designated desk space.

With our professional call answering service, our team of PA's answer your phone calls allowing you to have great peace of mind that you haven't missed any important business calls while you were unavailable on were busy in a meeting. This means that you will be left with more money in your bank account that can be invested in other important areas of your business.

Find out more about our professional call answering services and how cost-effective our services are!

December 27, 2018
May 5, 2021


How Modern Technology Can Improve the Workplace

There have been a technological explosion over recent years that has seen the rapid adoption of new technology to provide great advancements in the workplace.

Running your own business takes a lot of hard work and effort. Any business owner will agree and appreciate that fact, but a big part of making your business a success is to be open to the latest ideas and innovations in technology.It can take a good while to establish an efficient and productive workplace with a lot of testing, trial and error along the way to find what works best for you. However, if you want to stay on top and run your business to maximum efficiency than you cannot risk becoming complacent about your work processes and procedures.

How is technology improving the workplace?

There has been a technological explosion over recent years that has seen the rapid adoption of new technology and computer apps and tools that have provided great advancements in the workplace. This has meant that a lot of brand new startups have jumped in with a completely different workplace design that looks nothing like how a traditional business was structured, even as little as five years ago.There is no denying that the workplace has been gradually evolving over the years with small improvements and updates, but throughout many decades the humble office has pretty much stuck to the same tried and tested structure that existed 150 years ago, or even longer.New start-up businesses are finding new ways of working that not only help to improve productivity in the workplace, but also enable entrepreneurs to start their new ventures as a lean business operating on a minimal budget.This involves creating the right workplace environment to attract and retain their key staff members that will act as the foundation nuts and bolts of their business. Many new business enterprises are started these days on a very small scale with just a handful of key staff that are essential to the company. Modern technology has enabled more entrepreneurs to launch their successful business ideas without needing huge financial backing or business loans for large-scale office and workspace premises to work out of, or the need to hire as many employees as would have been needed on the ground as say 15 or 20 years ago.Modern technology has now been providing new business owners with the right tools for productivity, effectiveness and efficiency at the fraction of the cost of having to pay in-house staff to do certain essential everyday tasks.

Flexibility to grow and expand or scale down as needed

A lot of business owners can face fluctuations in business revenue throughout the year. This is quite commonly expected for seasonal businesses and for those who's manufacturing output depends on the consistency of incoming orders. Navigating the ebbs and flows of a variable cash-flow and managing it well is one of the key elements to running a successful long-lasting business.The flexibility that modern technology offers a business owner means that they can scale up or scale down their operations to match their workflow and will mean that they are not paying out a huge chunk of their business revenue on costly office rental contracts or staff wages.These days your company staff no longer need to be chained to their work desks or glued to their computer screens to ensure that their tasks get completed. The introduction of portable IT products such as laptops, tablets and smartphones have enabled workers to carry their work with them. This has lead to a lot of employers offering flexible work contacts to their employees that has enabled many of them to hire remote staff that can work from home so they don't have to pay out to supply their workers with a physical bricks and mortar office, the IT and telecommunications infrastructure needed, or power and water services that go with a standard office lease.For the business owner, this is a very freeing approach because they can simply take on more remote freelance or contracted staff to help them complete an incoming large project that their existing team may struggle to cope with on their own. It also means that they don't need to turn down any opportunities that come their way simply because they lack the capacity to handle large projects with the staff they currently have.The use of online collaboration tools such as Slack and Smartsheet means that you can control all of your team members from one place, no matter where in the world they are! Your team can collaborate and share files, progress and essential information in one place and you can keep an eye on everything that is going on without needing to leave the comfort of your office.

Scaled-down workplaces

With the use of modern technology combined with flexible working patterns, many business owners find that they no longer need as many office desks or workstations than before. Because not every employee is in your office all day every day, you can look at saving yourself a lot of money by having a scaled-down office structure where desk spaces are shared between employees.Technology is a wonderful thing for productivity and efficiency at work, but you may not want to go as far as using smart sensor technology to monitor your desk occupancy, but it is useful to know how many people are using desk space at any one time.Knowing how long desks are left vacant can help you analyse how much desk space your company actually needs. You could look at incorporating hot desks or workspace benches where your employees have somewhere to work from while in the office, but isn't their own designated area and is shared by your team as a collective.

Virtual Office Options

Is there actually a need for you to have a workplace office or reception area at all?This is a very important question to ask yourself, especially if you are setting yourself up as a sole trader or solo-entrepreneur. You may be thinking of starting up a small business from home or from a small workshop or retail shop where you either don't have the space for an office set up, or you simply don't need to run an office or have a reception area.Of course, if you are setting up on your own, you will have to realise that you need to handle all of your business administration tasks by yourself and that includes answering your business calls, doing your own bookkeeping and business accounts as well as opening and dealing with all your business post.For a lot of solo-entrepreneurs with big ideas, the thought of doing everything yourself, right down to being your own receptionist and office clerk, can be very frustrating. The time it takes to do your everyday administration tasks can be huge, and it is time that could be better spent more productively elsewhere on your business.This is why Complete Virtual Office Services have taken off in recent years, especially amongst small business owners that are trying hard to start and grow their business on a limited budget. Virtual office services are wonderful tools for a solo-entrepreneur simply because they don't need to blow their budget on leasing office space and hiring administrative staff to look after these essential business tasks.By using virtual services you can free up your time to spend engaging with prospective new customers or building your business network, or simply actually doing your work instead of getting distracted and interrupted by answering the phone every time it rings.If you think you can handle your incoming business post by yourself because that is just one task per day and can be handled in the morning, then this task is still time-consuming enough to tie up a decent chunk of your working day. Answering your telephone on top of this is different because the phone can ring at any time during the day. This is why it makes good business sense to look at using a professional call answering service such as the one offered by Capital Offices.Professional call answering services can free up your time and allow you to concentrate on your work without constant interruptions. This means that you can become more productive and are able to better meet your client deadlines. Your business calls will be in the safest of hands and will ensure that not a single phone call is missed because you are busy working or are with an important client that needs your full attention.With a call answering service alone you will greatly benefit because you will never lose any new opportunities coming from curious potential customers and your callers will be impressed that you have a professional receptionist answering their call instead of the stressed-out boss who is obviously struggling to manage everything on their own.

Better communications

Winning new clients and holding on to your existing customer base is crucial if you want your business to remain sustainable. A lot of business success is down to your customer service and the way you communicate with people.There is so much modern technology available that you can take advantage of to make managing your customer relationships easier, and that includes outsourcing some of your essential business tasks to experts in their field that can help you.Rather than struggling with numbers and balancing your books, you can look at hiring a professional accountant or using an online bookkeeping and accounting solution, such as QuickBooks. For your business administrative tasks, you can look at hiring either Complete Virtual Office Services or just having your business calls taken care of via a Professional Call Answering Service.Additional physical workspace such as meeting rooms are also being changed for the better by modern technology. No longer do you need to pay out rent on a meeting room that is hardly used on a regular basis. Instead, you can look at taking advantage of hiring ready to use meeting room space in London for your important client meetings or as a gathering place for your annual AGM.All these advancements mean that you can help your business to reach high levels of productivity, collaborate easily with all of your team without the need to keep them tied to your office, and save a lot of money by using apps, software tools and virtual services.If you would like more information about any of our professional business services, feel free to call our friendly team on 0207 566 3939 or email us: OFFICE@CAPITAL-OFFICE.CO.UK or why not pop in to meet us at Capital Office, Kemp House, 152 - 160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NX.

June 8, 2017
May 5, 2021


Important Changes that Small Businesses need to know about

Lets take a look at some recent changes that may affect your small business and what all small business owners must be aware of to stay updated to new norms.

The world of tax and business is an ever-changing place. Each year there seems to be a number of changes, both significant and small, that small business owners are obliged to keep up with and understand. Lets take a look at some recent changes that may affect your small business, or that you need to be aware of.

The National Living Wage

The National Living Wage for all employees aged 25 and over was increased by 30p an hour from April 1st to £7.50. The rates of pay for all age groups are now as follows: For 21-24 year olds it is now £7.05; for 18-20 year old it is now £5.60 and for under-18s the hourly rate is now £4.05.

It is law that every business owner pays their employees at the appropriate rate for their age, and you should pay particular attention to adjust pay rates for younger employees once they reach the next age bracket.

New Business Rates for 2017

From April 1st this year, the new Business Rates came in to force for England, Scotland and Wales. The new rates have been based on new commercial property valuations and many small businesses have seen a steep increase in their rates. For those businesses in England that are concerned about a rise in their business rates, you may be eligible for reduced rates for a period of time, but this will be at the discretion of your local council authority.

The government promised extra transition funds for local councils across England, so it may be worth checking to see if you can qualify. There are separate local and national rate relief schemes for Scotland and Wales too, and these can be applied for via the local council.

Changes to the appeal system

Should you wish to appeal for your Business Rates because you believe your business premises have been overvalued, the system you go through for appealing your rates has been changed in England. Small businesses wishing to appeal their new business rates must now pay an upfront fee of £150.00 before going through the three-stage appeal process. The £150.00 fee will only be refunded should your appeal be successful.

A change to the Code of conduct for Business Rates appeals firms

Many small business owners don’t particularly want to go through the business rates appeal process on their own. Many owners don’t want the hassle of the extra work involved so will hire consultancy agencies that will go through the appeals on their behalf – but often for a hefty fee! Should you choose to take this route then it is wise to hire a firm that is registered with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

There has been a new level of protection added to protect small businesses from bad practice from these agencies. The newly strengthened RICS code of conduct that agencies have to sign up to will help protect the small business owner from being overcharged or from receiving a sub-standard service.

The introduction of the new £1 coin

The new £1 coin was introduced into circulation on 28th March this year. The new 12-sided design replaces the old style round £1 coin, which can still be used as legal tender up to the 15th October 2017. Should you still have some old-style £1 coins after this date, you can take them to a bank or Post Office and they can still be used in deposits for a limited time. This will be up to the individual bank or Post Office, so it is best to check with them to find out if they have a cut-off date. Most banks are stating around a 6 month period after this date to allow businesses to deposit the old style coins.

As a business owner, you are under no obligation to accept old £1 coins after the 16th October. You can find out more information about the new £1 coin and how it affects business here.

No tie to one water provider

It used to be the case that businesses in England were tied to their regional water firm, but now are free to choose who they wish to supply their water services. Those eligible to change their supplier can now choose to have their water supply from one company and even go with a different one to handle their wastewater service. This sort of choice has been available to businesses in Scotland for quite a while now and has been working well.

New Lifetime ISA

The Government introduced a new lifetime ISA on April 6th 2017. This individual savings account has been particularly aimed at encouraging the self-employed to save. Following research published by the Federation of Small Business that showed only around 30% of self-employed workers are saving into a private pension, this has been introduced to encourage savings with a Government top up of 25%. To qualify for the top-up you need to be under the age of 40 and put up to £4,000 a year into the ISA.

VAT Flat Rate Scheme changes

A new flat rate VAT of 16.5% was announced at the Autumn Statement and was introduced on 1stApril 2017. The eligibility criteria to qualify for this rate has changed. Small businesses affected are those who are considered to be ‘limited costs traders’. This is where your VAT-inclusive expenditure only takes up a very small percent of your business turnover. This can be either:

  • less than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover in a prescribed accounting period
  • greater than 2% of their VAT inclusive turnover but less than £1000 per annum if the prescribed accounting period is one year (if it is not one year, the figure is the relevant proportion of £1000)

More information about the new VAT flat rate changes can be found here.

Charges for hiring non-EU workers

The Government’s new Immigration Skills Charge to incentivise training of British workers was introduced in April 2017. This means that businesses seeking to employ new workers from outside the European Economic Area on a Tier 2 (skilled workers) visa will face paying a fee. The charge is £1,000 per employee per year, but there are reduced rates for qualifying small business of £364 per worker per year. The charges have been introduced to help cut down on the number of businesses taking on migrant workers, and instead hopes to incentivise them to train British staff to fill those jobs. More information about the introduction of the Immigration Skills charge can be found here.

Faster payments for small businesses

A requirement for better payment practices has been introduced. This means that larger companies have to give details of how promptly they will pay smaller businesses upfront for their goods and services. Larger firms will now have to specify the proportion of invoiced cleared within 30 days, between 31 and 60 days, and above 60 days.

Small business owners have long faced a struggle where they are financially stretched while waiting to be paid by larger firms holding off payment for an overly long time. This has sometimes resulted in smaller firms going under or failing to re-invest in the business due to a lack of circulating funds and payments being withheld. The Government considers a delay of 60 or more days before payment as poor payment practice, so it wants to encourage more transparency over payment arrangements and for invoices to be paid more quickly to benefit smaller businesses.

February 20, 2017
May 5, 2021


What is a SIC code?

The SIC code stands for ‘Standard Industrial Code’. While SIC codes are important for your business, they’re still misunderstood by many new business owners.

For someone just starting out in business and wanting to officially register their business with Companies House, there are a few regulatory requirements that you need to apply to your business. One of these requirements is allocating an appropriate SIC code. Every registered UK company must report a SIC code. But what exactly is a SIC code and how does it apply to your business?Firstly, the term SIC code stands for 'Standard Industrial Code'. While SIC codes are important for your business, they are still quite misunderstood by many new business owners.Basically your SIC code is a way to describe and categorise what your business does. It is a system that Companies House use to provide information about the type of business you have and to give a general overview of your business activities. The classification of each company is available for anyone to view on the public record. You will need to know your SIC code for when you submit your Confirmation Statement each year.

SIC Codes Explained

Depending on what your particular business activities are, your company will fall into a certain category. Companies House keep a comprehensive list of possible types of businesses that operate in the UK which are arranged together under similar trade classifications. There are now approaching 100 different SIC code categories to choose from. Your SIC code will be the one that matches or is the closest type of business sector you operate in.Each sector or trade group has a SIC code applied to it, but more detailed classifications are allocated within each group according to their specialisation. So for example, trade group I refers to Transport, Storage and Communication businesses. Obviously this can cover a very wide variety of different businesses under this umbrella, so further individual codes are then assigned according to what they actually do.Each and every registered UK company selects one or more SIC codes that express the nature of their business from an official list of SIC codes provided by Companies House.Lets say you run a heavy haulage freight transport company. Your company would fall under category 49.4 that covers Freight transport by road and removal services. This group includes all land-based freight transport activities other than rail transport. Because your business specifically uses the road network to operate, you would then come under SIC category 49.41 Freight transport by road. This class includes all freight transport operations by road including:

  • logging haulage
  • stock haulage
  • refrigerated haulage
  • heavy haulage
  • bulk haulage, including haulage in tanker trucks including milk collection at farms
  • haulage of automobiles
  • transport of waste and waste materials, without collection or disposal
  • renting of trucks with driver
  • freight transport by man or animal-drawn vehicles

When do I need a SIC code?

SIC codes are something that as a business owner you don't necessarily think about or even have to deal with on a day to day basis. The fact that you actually need to have one is only realised when you are submitting your Confirmation Statement to Companies House when there are any changes to your SIC code(s) that need reporting. A SIC code is also needed to form a new company and to be able to allow you to successfully complete your filing process for your first annual Confirmation Statement should your business undergo any changes.

How do I discover my business's SIC code?

In order to find the correct SIC code to suit your business, you should use the Companies House official SIC code list. You will first need to find out what your actual trade description is before you can find the right SIC code category on the list. There is a condensed PDF version of the SIC code list here.The SIC Code list is divided into different trade groups, and while you can search for your code by entering your trade description, it may take a little bit of digging around to find the most relevant match to suit your business activities. This can be quite difficult to define if you work in a particularly obscure sector, so it may take a while to find the closest possible match if there isn't an exact category that fits.Some of the trade classification categories are very specific and will be quite obvious by its very description,‘Striking of coins’, for example. But other categories are a bit more vague and can cover quite a variety of different activities, 'Other food services', for example would be a category to choose if you cannot find an exact match for your food-related business activities.

Changes to the SIC Code System

The list of SIC codes is ever growing and changing because it aims to be the most comprehensive list of classifications as possible. The most recent major changes came about in January 2008, where a 2007 version of the code was introduced. This means that all 2007 codes have five digits, while the older 2003 revised codes only had four. All Annual Returns made since 1 October 2011 have required a 2007 version of the code.Whether SIC codes will go under any further changes in future is unknown, but as more diverse industry sectors evolve and develop, it is highly likely that SIC codes will undergo some more changes in years to come. In fact, since the original list was created back in 1948, there have been revisions published in 1958, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1997, 2003, and 2007.

How many SIC codes does my company need?

In most cases a business will only need one single SIC code to cover their activities. This may be one that best describes the nature of the business, especially if it involves dealing with just one product or service, such as business accounting or carpet manufacturing etc.There is an option for a company to choose up to four SIC codes should they need to, so if your particular business is quite complex in nature, or you offer varied services that cross different sectors, then a single SIC code will not be able to fully describe what your company does. In this case you can choose more than one code to cover all you bases.

Do I need a SIC code to form a new Company?

As of the 30th June 2016, all new businesses need at least one SIC code to be able to form a company. The SIC code should be chosen that best describes the planned business activities of the new company. Without at least one or more valid SIC Codes, Companies House will reject your formation request. It would save you a lot of time and hassle to plan ahead and sort out your SIC code before you go through your company formation process.

Reporting your SIC Code

If you formed your company after 30th June 2016, your SIC codes need only be included in your Confirmation Statement if they have changed during the year since formation. It can be more common than you think for a change to happen. Should your company expand, change its business sector or offer a more diverse range of services that would require different SIC codes to explain its activities, then Companies House would need to be updated with this information.You will only have to report your SIC codes in your annual Confirmation Statement each year as and when they change. There is no need to report SIC code changes immediately – you can wait until your next annual Confirmation Statement to report them.

February 9, 2017
May 5, 2021


A Certificate of Good Standing

What to do to earn the trust of prospective and new customers? The answer to this is to obtain an official document called a Certificate of Good Standing.

Attracting new clients or customers is an important part of growing and sustaining any business, so what can you do to earn the trust of prospective and new customers to convince them to take a chance on you rather than one of your competitors? The answer to this is to obtain an official document from Companies House called a Certificate of Good Standing.A Certificate of Good Standing, otherwise know as a Certificate of Existence, is simply a certificate that demonstrates to your potential new clients and customers that you are a trustworthy business and that you are up to date with all of your legal requirements in the eyes of the law.

Who can get a certificate?

A Certificate of Good Standing can only be ordered for a company that has already been incorporated. It can be requested by both public and private limited companies. Your company will only be granted a certificate if you satisfy these requirements:

  • Your company must be up to date with all of your legal filings and be in good standing with Companies House.
  • Public limited companies must have a registered secretary and at least two directors, one of whom must be a ‘natural person’.
  • Private limited companies must have at least one director who is a ‘natural person’.

If your business satisfies these requirements, then you are able to request a certificate for your company. You can have the certificate delivered to you or you can arrange for collection yourself.

How much does a certificate cost?

You can apply for your certificate through Companies House. There are two options available to you:

  • A standard order will cost you just £15.00 and usually takes around four working days to process. Your certificate will be posted out to your Registered Office Address.
  • A same day order will get your certificate issued much quicker, but comes in at £50.00. The same day service allows you to access and instant PDF copy of your certificate should you need it, but generally speaking a paper certificate actually carries much more gravitas because these are the only copies that carry an actual signature from a Companies House representative.

What is listed on the certificate?

Your certificate will detail certain pieces of official information, depending on your requirements, but will usually include the following:

  • The company name and registration number.
  • The date of incorporation.
  • The name of the company director(s).
  • Some additional details about the directors, e.g. nationality.
  • The name of the secretary (for a public business).
  • The Registered Company Address.
  • The company’s objects (if applicable).
  • Statement of good standing.

The aim of the certificate is to confirm that the company is genuine and trustworthy. The good standing statement would be considered to be the most important piece of information on the certificate. The statement effectively certifies that your business has been in continuous existence since its incorporation date, and confirms that there is no action being taken against your company.

Is having a Certificate of Good Standing useful?

Having a certificate could prove useful to you, especially when you are dealing with other well-established organisations that may need some reassurance of your status before they would consider working with you. A certificate will also prove useful when opening a company bank account. It can also be used as an example of trust when trying to attract new investors into your business.For those looking to get a foothold in overseas business, a certificate can help to reassure overseas authorities that your business is genuine and up to date with all legal documentation and filing. You will generally need one if you wish to set up a foreign branch for your company abroad. However, if you plan to use your Certificate of Good Standing abroad, you will need to get it legalised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Once legalised, your certificate will carry the same weight and status as it has in the UK. For these purposes, you will need to get a paper copy of your certificate. You cannot get a digital copy of your certificate legalised by the FCO because it doesn't carry an actual seal and signature from a Companies House official.

Can my request for a certificate be refused?

To be issued with a Certificate of Good Standing you will need to satisfy their requirements as listed above. You will be turned down for a certificate under the following circumstances:

  • Your company has not supplied sufficient information to Companies House about the ownership or constitution.
  • Your company is not up-to-date with its annual confirmation statement and annual accounts.
  • Your company lacks at least one natural (human) director.

Something to also bear in mind is that Certificates of Good Standing are only valid for three months from the date of issue. After this time you may want to consider applying for a new one as many organisations and authorities will expect to see a more recent up-to-date certificate.Most registered companies operating in the UK may not have a particular need for a Certificate of Good Standing, however many will request one to satisfy themselves and any shareholders and investors in the business that the company is meeting its regulatory obligations. It can also help to give confidence to clients, customers and suppliers that you run a trustworthy and reliable company.

January 9, 2017
May 5, 2021


Top Tips to Running a Business from Your Home

Have a closer look at some top tips and sound advice about running your own business from your home - without letting it take over your whole personal life.

In the last few years there has been a massive increase in the number of people who are becoming self-employed or starting their own small business. From freelance accountants and bookkeepers to odd job people and even fashion designers, more and more people are setting up on their own and for a great number of these people, this means setting up business from your home. But how can you ensure that your business remains professional and will be successful when you share your workplace with your living place?Lets take a look at some top tips and sound advice about running your own business from home and not letting it take over your whole home life.

Starting the business

The first step to having a home business is to know what you want to do. Planning is crucial to avoid vagueness and a sense of panic when work doesn’t start to arrive when you expect it to. Therefore, creating a business plan is something you should do before you give up your current job or register yourself as self-employed. Questions you should ask yourself include:

  • What can I do?What do I enjoy doing?Is there a market for this service or product?Can I make a living from it?How will I make and store this item pending sale?

People looking at a service based business have a few less considerations than those creating a product. For example, the self-employed accountant simply needs space for computer equipment, maybe some filing room but someone making handmade crafts needs room to store both the equipment and supplies to make the products and for the finished items themselves. So you need to assess what space you need and if you can take over enough of the house to do this when planning your business.A lot of people make good use of a spare room in their home, extend into their loft space or convert a cellar or garage into a storage area. You have to make sure that these environments are safe for storage or to work from.

Creating the business

Once you have an idea, know it is viable and there is an active demand or market for it then you can move onto the next step. Whether you simply register with HMRC as self-employed as a sole trader or form a company will depend on your plans. For example, a self-employed accountant might not plan to ever take on staff and only do the work that he or she can manage on their own. But the handmade crafts business may plan to eventually have employees making the products or have staff to handle packaging and distribution. So while being a sole trader might work for the former who never plans to expand, forming a limited company might be better for the second.When you work from home, this could mean giving out your private home address to everyone you do business with and this might not be a good idea. Therefore as part of forming your company, it might be worth investing in a registered office address service. This allows you to use an address, say in London, where all of your statutory business mail is sent. This address will go on all of your official documents and will be on the public register at Companies House for anyone researching your company.Once the company is formed you need to create an online presence for it. This means a combination of a website and social media accounts, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, that are for the business and will help start to make its existence known to the world. You can hire a web designer to build your website for you if you don’t feel confident doing the job yourself. You might also want to consider having a blog for your company as this increases your online exposure, helps your search engine rankings, and can drive new customers to your business.

Growing the business

As the business grows and takes up more of your time, you may start to outsource some of the tasks to other professionals or companies that specialise in certain aspects of running a business. One good example is a call handling or mail handling service, or a complete virtual office that can answer your calls and sort through your mail. This frees up your time to deal with other matters and means you only get the calls and mail that is important to you. Mail handling services can even scan mail and send the content to you via email, reducing the time between receiving it and you handling the contents.Other tasks you may want to outsource include your accounting and the writing of the blog. Freelance accountant paired with online bookkeeping software can make the process of submitting tax returns and other official documents much easier. And if you want to continue to grow your online presence, hiring a freelance writer to create blogs posts is ideal. Some offer virtual assistant services too where they can handle your social media awareness and marketing campaigns.

Take a break from it all

One of the most important things when working from home is that you take a break from it all on a regular basis and that you try to have an established working pattern. There’s always the temptation to do another 30 minutes after dinner because you work in one of your bedrooms and it is convenient to check emails or follow up on messages - but beware, this can lead to burnout! And because your home is also your place of work, it is important to take a break and get away from it all for a while.Remember, if you set up your outsourcing correctly, the business can continue to run without you for a week or two!

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