Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Business Link / Business Support Services

Business Link, the publicly funded advice network, is to be scrapped and replaced by a website and call centre, the Government has confirmed. The Government said the £154m cost of the Business Link network of offices was “high” and the “generalist nature” of the advice often “poorly targeted” towards “lifestyle businesses that have no aspiration to grow”. “There are more efficient, effective and targeted ways to use public money to provide the kinds of business improvement help that businesses need,” was stated in a regional growth white paper.

From April 2012 small businesses will be able to access advice with a national website – www.businesslink.gov.uk – and a call centre.

So where will small to medium sized businesses look for business advice and support in future given that demise of Business Link’s Adviser service?

A survey of 2,000 businesses carried out by Branduin Business Support last month revealed that 28% currently turn to their accountants for business advice and a significant 20% look online.

Branduin Business Support Services have been developed to assist small to medium businesses in all aspects of management and growth.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Why pay for Software?

Tim Little of the Branduin Business Support group summarises some of the free & nearly free open source software that is readily available.

Most of us who purchase software normally opt for ‘off the shelf’ solutions provided by Microsoft or, where this is not available, we look for other proprietary systems. In many cases this can prove expensive,  particularly if changes need to be made to meet our specific business needs. In fact there are now three types of software to choose from:
• Proprietary - you pay a license fee;
• ShareWare - you normally pay a modest amount;
• OpenSource - genuinely free (although donations are encouraged).

Some applications used by me or other Branduin team members are:
  • OpenOffice – the real alternative to Microsoft Office - includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database - allows you to open Microsoft files and save files in MS Word format etc - www.openoffice.org
  • Joomla - a content management system for building Web sites and powerful online applications. Content can be text, photos, music, video – just about anything you can think of - www.joomla.org
  • Moodle - a Course / Learning Management System. Allows people in learning and education to create effective online learning sites. (It is the student platform of the Open University) - www.moodle.org
  • Mahara - an e-portfolio, CV builder, blog and social networking system, connecting users and creating online learner communities - www.mahara.org
  • vTiger – a fully featured Client Relationship Management system that stacks up well against SalesForce, ACT! etc - www.vtiger.com
  • PDFCreator - if you need to create PDF files of just about anything on your computer this is the program for you - www.sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator
  • Firefox - the elegant alternative to Internet Explorer - www.mozilla.com
  • Books - if you need a manual to help you with one of these programs try www.packtpub.com
  • Wordpress - initially designed as a blogging system but with numerous add-ons, this has become a popular option for customer-managed website design - www.wordpress.com
  • TAS - accounting system - www.tassoftware.co.uk/free
Once you begin to look around, there will be many others. For example, other Internet browser alternatives include Google Chrome, Apple Safari (for Windows), Opera and others.