Welcome to our Summer 2021 newsletter.
We have tons to share in our jam-packed Summer 2021 newsletter. We interviewed Susan Leigh for her mental health advice on adjusting to life back a the office. We also cover the new RLS scheme, Google Workspace, an exciting networking relaunch and much more.
The COS Crew
Find out what our staff and members have been up to here.
Wedding bells are ringing
Team member Steph was married on the 24th April to her husband Joe and is now known as Steph Boyle (was Marshall). They were married at Stockport Town Hall and had an intimate reception at The Little Mill Inn. They couldn’t have the honeymoon they planned but they enjoyed a nice relaxing break in the countryside together. They are hoping later in the year that the two of them and their young son can go on holiday together to celebrate. We wish them all the happiness in the world in their future together.
Karen stars as Trafford Female Entrepreneur of the month in new magazine
The Smart Bear Websites and Promoting Trafford have come together to create a new magazine called Connecting Trafford. Karen was approached by the editors and asked for an interview and they have crowned her Female Entrepreneur of the month in their first edition!
We’d like to congratulate Karen on her magazine success and to thank the creators for choosing her.
You can read the first Connecting Trafford magazine here. Turn to page 25 to see Karen’s interview. Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe so you can stay up to date with all things “Trafford” going forward.
David set to retire – A career story from one of our members
After 50 years, David Taylor, is retiring from Full time employment, although will still be working for COS as a Bookkeeeper.
David left school at 16 and started work almost immediately with Calor Gas (Scotland) in Perth, as an office junior, before rising through the ranks as Supervisor in Inverness. Following redundancy of that position he returned to his hometown of Perth as an accounts manager for the same company.
After 13 years with Calor Gas, his position was moved to Grangemouth and David decided to expand his knowledge, left the Company and took an HND in Computer Data Processing in Perth. This was in the days of mainframe computers, ticker tape and cards, and long before the personal computers of today.
After completing the course David and his partner moved to Manchester in the hope of finding work in that field. However, his life took a different path when he started working as a waiter in a local bistro in Monton, and eventually ran his own in Leigh for several years before the economic downturn in the early 1990’s.
This was followed by an office job again, firstly for a fire alarm company, and eventually for Moben Kitchens by Trafford Bar. Again, he was made redundant when the company went into liquidation in 2011.
After a couple of years out of work, David attended a course run by Karen at COS, and this led to a position as self employed bookkeeper and a full time job at Sparklestreet Projects in Manchester.
David intends to carry on with his hobbies, mainly Scottish Country Dancing, touring his homeland of Scotland and travelling to a few far-flung countries, such as Vietnam (travel restrictions permitting).
We wish David all the best with his retirement!
Summer News and Updates
The Government’s new Recovery Loan scheme
What is the Recovery Loan Scheme?
The Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) replaced the Government’s CBILS and Bounce Back programmes on Tuesday 6th April 2021. Like the other schemes, RLS aims to help businesses impacted by the pandemic. The funding can be used for activities like managing cashflow, investment and growth.
How Does the Recovery Loan Scheme work?
The scheme covers term loans, invoice finance, asset finance and overdrafts. Businesses can borrow up to £10 million, but there’s no interest or fee-free period. The government guarantees 80% of the debt and there’s no turnover or trading history requirements. Personal guarantees aren’t needed for loans under £250k.
Am I eligible?
You can apply if your business is trading in the UK. You will need to show that your business is viable, has been affected by the pandemic and is not in collective insolvency proceedings.
You can still apply for RLS if you have already taken out a CBILS or BBLS loan .
We’re working with Fluidly, an FCA-regulated credit broker, to help our clients see what’s out there and apply.
Lenders are currently becoming accredited to offer Recovery Loans, and if you register your interest early you’ll be at the top of the list for Fluidly to submit your application when the time comes. To have a look in a bit more detail and to view other finance options that might be available, enter your company name here.
A Xero Price Increase is on its way
From the 23rd September 2021 Xero will be increasing its prices to the following:
- Start: £12 per month (an increase of £2)
- Standard: £26 per month (an increase of £2)
- Premium: £33 per month (an increase of £3)
Join us for the Curry Club Networking re-launch!
We are proud to say we are co-sponsoring the re-launch of the curry club networking!
Join between 30-50 professionals at the decadent Asha’s restaurant and become part of a group that that has led to 5 million pounds worth of business nationwide.
A team of companies have come together to bring back this prestigious networking event. Our fellow sponsors include: EK Williams Accountants, Ralli Solicitors, Our Marketing Team, and The Business Debt Advisor.
Date: Thursday 24th June
Location: Asha’s Indian Restaurant, 47 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 3NG
Google Workspace – How it has revolutionised how we work and how it could do the same for you
Are you still using desktop applications like Outlook and Microsoft office and then running a series of other softwares alongside it that simply don’t talk to each other? If so then you should definitely consider Google Workspace.
Back in January, we moved our team to Google Workspace and it’s turned out to be one of the best software decisions we have ever made. We were already fans of Google as we have been using Google mail and calendar for a number of years now. However, we really needed more integration and were desperate for a tool that would be cost-effective, seamless to use, and cloud-based. Behold…Google Workspace!
All our webinars are now hosted via Google Meet meaning we could cancel our Zoom package. You do not need a Google account to use Google Meet (unless using it from a mobile device) so no need to worry about the functionality for people without Google.
We use chat and rooms which is their version of instant messaging. This has meant that staff don’t need to use their personal Whatsapp to communicate as it isn’t connected to your mobile number. We have created different departmental chats and rooms which has been super useful.
It has taken away our need for Microsoft Office too as we can use applications like Sheets and Docs instead. We are also replacing Dropbox with Drive too.
There are many other features too but this gives you an idea of the tech revolution it could give you as a company.
It starts from as little as £4.50 per month and we can offer a 10% discount if you use our referral code:
Starter Plan: U6D7CLXFCPTAQKH
Standard Plan: 33NLHH4Y74XNQ4V
You can also follow our referral link here.
Mentally adjusting to life back at the office
An interview with Susan Leigh, Owner of Lifestyle Therapy
Q. Tell us a bit about you and your business, and how you can support our readers
If you’ve ever found yourself repeating an unhelpful pattern of behaviour, one that is holding you back from achieving your goals, or you’re lying awake at night, replaying the day’s stresses and worrying about the day ahead it could be useful for you to get in touch with me. I’m a counsellor and hypnotherapist who works with clients, helping them change unwanted habits and behaviours, manage stress, deal with relationship issues and improve their confidence and self-esteem. On my website there’s an assortment of articles, videos and access to my 3 books, and lots of tips to help you better cope. Have a look at www.lifestyletherapy.net.
Q. FOGO has become a covid buzzword, how can people mentally prepare for going back to the office?
Over the past few months, going out has become a stressful, much less appealing activity, resulting in some people developing FOGO: the fear of going out. Many of us have now found that we live comfortably on less, as we work from home: having food, clothes, work, education, and socialising all delivered.
If you’re struggling with FOGO, start by being gentle with yourself and accept that it’s a reasonable response to the present situation. You may berate yourself, saying that others have been more seriously affected, but your feelings, fears and concerns also need to be acknowledged.
Some people have personal reasons for feeling uneasy at the prospect of going out. They may have put on weight, feel they look a mess, have nothing to wear, nothing interesting to say. Reflect that you’re not alone with these concerns.
Tips to prepare
# Start by building confidence gradually and setting small goals for yourself: a haircut, visit to the bank, a quick errand.
# Drive yourself there if possible, so that you’re more in control and independent of public transport.
# Arrange to meet an understanding, supportive friend or family member.
# Add in a reward: a coffee or light lunch. Relax, knowing that hospitality is strictly adhering to safety standards.
# Take a book, something to distract and immerse yourself with.
Q. How can companies support those returning to work from prolonged furlough to reduce their anxieties of feeling potentially “Out of the loop”?
Many of us have seen how quickly our children have become disenchanted with getting up and dressed for school each day, how demotivated they’ve become about learning and education.
That loss of engagement has not only happened to children. Working from home, hardly bothering to get washed or dressed for the obligatory zoom meeting, being on furlough, perhaps paid to do nothing or very little has turned many of us away from being inspired, motivated career achievers.
But town centres need to be revived, shops, office premises, gyms and hospitality are desperate for life to be breathed back into them, landlords are keen to see their properties occupied and earning income. It’s time to return to work. So, if you’re a manager or business owner how do you re-engage your workforce?
Tips to re-engage
# Recognise where your people are coming from, how they’re feeling. After months of no regular routine and a plethora of real-time concerns, homeschooling, estrangement from friends and family, ailing relatives, uncertainty about the future, work as a priority may have diminished.
# Identify and address their different issues and demonstrate that you understand and care.
# Many employees have concerns about the ending of furlough and their job security, terms and conditions of employment, and future financial and career prospects. Equally many businesses need time to get back on their feet, perhaps using loans and negotiations with suppliers, staff, and landlords to survive. A return to work may include refresher training, part-time work, working from home, redundancies, or some staff becoming self-employed contractors, at least initially.
# Open and honest communications with regular staff briefings, Q&A sessions and an open-door policy, allow staff to privately discuss their specific concerns. It helps foster a more engaged and loyal commitment to returning to work.
# Encourage staff to offer ideas and contributions, suggestions to improve business growth. Some may be keen to become directly involved in the business and its future success. Acknowledge and give credit for any contributions.
# Offer a flexible return to work, if possible, for those who need a gradual return to work, who find any perceived stress overwhelming. By listening and doing everything possible to support their mental and physical safety, health and wellbeing, staff engagement should consistently start to improve.
# And there are those who are super-keen to resume their career progression, having parked their enthusiasm for over a year. Nurture and encourage them to revive your business with ongoing mentoring, business development opportunities and areas of personal responsibility.
As a manager or owner you’ve also had a tough twelve months. Be gentle with yourself and commit to regular breaks, good self-care and a positive approach to your daily life. Reviving your business requires you to be strong and resilient, so remember the importance of healthy nutrition, regular hydration, quality sleep, exercise, fun, and time with family and friends. You’re your business’s most important resource, so equip yourself well now that it’s time to return to work.
Q. Some people choose not to follow the government advice and this can lead to anxiety, fear, and frustration for those around them. How can we deal with this in the workplace?
Staff briefings, emails and signage are a good way of informing staff members about the standards and rules they are expected to adhere to at work. Some staff may be seen as over-vigilant, others as being too relaxed. Explain that returning to work is a tentative time when everyone needs to be tolerant and understanding of each other. Mutual respect supports the provision of a comfortable, cooperative environment. But if someone is blatantly flouting company policy it’s a serious matter, which could risk fines or even closure, so an official reminder may be needed.
Q. With a lack of holidays and an increase in workload, many are struggling with motivation and concentration at work. Any advice?
Being aware of each staff member’s situation and personal concerns is important. Homelife has been especially challenging for some, with relationship issues, homeschooling and ailing relatives potentially adding to their personal stresses and struggles. Discuss what each staff member needs: a staggered return to work, some days spent home-working, flexible hours might be a help. Training in relevant areas, team-building exercises, identifying projects or areas of responsibility, all might inspire staff to gradually become more on board.
Q. How can employers help staff to adapt to new health and safety procedures and other policies that may have radically changed their office environment?
Briefings on why these policies are important can help staff get used to the changes. Yes, they may be a constant reminder of what we’ve been through, but they’re the most effective way of resuming some normality. And remember, everywhere we go has new policies in place.
Would you like some mental health support?
|Event||Date and time|
|Quickbooks Online Webinar – Invoices and Sales||15/06/2021 10:00-12:00|
|Xero Sales Invoicing and Sales Ledger Webinar||16/06/2021 14:00-16:00|
|Quickbooks Online Webinar – Purchases and Departments||22/06/2021 10:00-12:00|
|Xero Purchase Ledger and Overview Webinar||23/06/2021 14:00-16:00|
|Xero Bank Reconciliation Webinar||30/06/2021 14:00-16:00|
|Quickbooks Online Webinar – Bank Rec, Rules and Feeds||06/07/2021 10:00-12:00|
|Xero Sales Invoicing and Sales Ledger Webinar||14/07/2021 14:00-16:00|
|Xero Purchase Ledger and Overview Webinar||21/07/2021 14:00-16:00|
|Quickbooks Online Webinar – Invoices and Sales||22/07/2021 10:00-12:00|
|Xero Bank Reconciliation Webinar||28/07/2021 14:00-16:00|
|Quickbooks Online Webinar – Purchases and Departments||29/07/2021 10:00-12:00|
|Quickbooks Online Webinar – Bank Rec, Rules and Feeds||12/08/2021 10:00-12:00|
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