My main piece of advice for all vat registered businesses – be prepared for making tax digital from April, it’s compulsory, and take the opportunity to move to cloud accounting and of course Xero!!
Recently we seem to have had a spate of marketing emails from people without any regard for the rules on privacy!
We all make mistakes but a lack of knowledge of the rules puts their business reputation at risk and exposes them to a substantial fine.
If you provide unsolicited marketing material, the Information Commissioner’s Office produces a handy Direct Marketing Checklist which includes a guide to the marketing rules. You can download it here.
If you are going to telephone a business for unsolicited sales and marketing purposes you are legally required to make sure that they are not on the Corporate TPS.
The Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) is the central opt out register for corporate subscribers to register their wish not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls.
To make sure you don’t break the law and potentially damage your reputation you can check if a number is registered using the online TPS Checker.
You have to register, but then its free to check up to a certain number of phone numbers per day – it’s a simple and quick way to check rather than making a costly mistake that could also harm your reputation.
I don’t know about you but it really bugs me when I see an apostrophe being used incorrectly. If you have a reputation to uphold then the last thing you want to do is damage it by sending out written material that contains errors.
You wouldn’t believe the problems this tiny little punctuation mark can cause. It’s so insignificant you probably don’t even notice it when you’re reading at normal speed….
….and that’s the nub of the issue. People either don’t notice it’s there (or not) or they don’t notice whether it’s correct (or not), but for pedants like me, I do notice it!
So, let’s have a quick look at the only two instances when an apostrophe should be used.
To show that something belongs to someone, e.g.
Singular nouns and personal names:
The dog’s tail – says that the tail belongs to the dog.
John’s car – says that the car belongs to John.
Personal names that end in –s:
Charles’s ball – says that the ball belongs to Charles.
BUT some place names are an exception to this rule, e.g. St Thomas’ Hospital
Plural nouns that end in –s:
The dogs’ bowls – says that the bowls belong to some dogs.
Employees’ workplace – says that the workplace belongs to the employees.
Plural nouns not ending in –s:
The men’s hats – says that the hats belong to the men.
The children’s toys – says that the toys belong to the children.
The women’s coats – says the coats belong to the women.
To show that letters have been left out, e.g.
I’m – short for ‘I am’
They’re – short for ‘they are’
Didn’t – short for ‘did not’
He’ll – short for ‘he will’
It’s – short for ‘it is’
The apostrophe goes where the letters have been missed out and are used this way in informal writing. You should not shorten words when you are writing formal letters or emails.
One of the commonest mistakes I see is where people use an apostrophe to express a plural, especially when figures are involved, e.g.
In the 1980’s…
This is incorrect because it’s talking about the decade from 1980 to 1989 so it’s a plural and should be written ‘1980s’.
As a proofreader this kind of mistake is the sort of thing that I’m on the lookout for, not just because I’m a pedant, but to ensure that your writing is accurate, looks professional and is error-free. This gives you peace of mind safe in the knowledge that whatever you’re publishing will mean your readers will focus on your message or the meaning of your content and not looking for the next mistake.
If you would like me to help you to ‘get it right first time’, then please contact me on:
T: 07843 304743
aka The OopsProofer & Crimson Crab Reputation Advocate
The Information Commissioner’s Office provides a great checklist for sending direct marketing material, which can be found here.
This time of year many business owners look to outsourcing certain activities. This can be a great way of reducing the burden or growing the business.
On the other hand the wrong outsourcing partner can cause mayhem and add to the stress levels. Not an ideal solution!
To reduce the risk do some basic diligence:
- Do they have appropriate qualifications – this could be a recognised qualification or qualification by doing. In other words do they know what they are talking about?
- Are they experienced – have they done the work (or similar work) in the past and can you talk to a previous client about their experience?
- Do they comply with the relevant legislation – they need to know what laws apply to their business and be compliant with them. A great example is data protection. You don’t want to have an issue because your outsourcing partner doesn’t understand their responsibilities with your data!
- Are they insured for the work they will be doing for you – insurance is a safety net for you and may influence your bargaining position over rates!
The extent of the diligence you do clearly relates to the value of the contract but remember it is your reputation to lose!
If you are going to rely on recommendations from others, always ask yourself why the person is giving the recommendation. For example is it because:
- they have experienced the service and found it to be satisfactory?
- they know someone from a networking meeting?
- they know someone from social media?
- they are going to receive some form of payment for the introduction?
The rationale for the introduction is important to your decision making process.
If it helps Crimson Crab can carry out diligence on potential outsourcing partners read more…
Our Reputation Advocates have been checked against the membership criteria, so that some of the diligence legwork has been done for you. They also work to our Ethical Trading Policy and Code of Conduct to give added peace of mind. The directory of members is here.
We have just renewed our subscription for this service. It is a legal requirement for telemarketers not to call a TPS subscribed number. You can register here.
This gives an indication of how mailbox providers view your IP address and the trustworthiness of it. The providers use a number of things to determine your sender reputation for example:
- spam complaints,
- mailing to unknown users,
- industry blacklists.
You can look up your sender score on the Sender Score website here. There are also some useful tools to help.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a new code of practice on privacy notices.
The new code is the first piece of ICO guidance that advises on compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
The code is aimed at all organisations that collect information about people, directly or indirectly, and provides examples demonstrating good and bad practice. Read more on the ICO website.