Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company

THIS MONTH’S TOP BUSINESS STORIES

  • Research published by Bibby Financial Services in May revealed that 30% of the 1000 SMEs polled would like to see a cut in business tax rates over the next year, while 22% said that simplifying the PAYE system is at the top of their wish list.
  • HSBC has established an £8 billion national fund to support SMEs, as well as offering a special promotion on business loans until the end of July. The plans, which were announced in May, include 18 months fee-free business banking for start-ups and 12 months for SMEs that switch to the bank.
  • A survey of 1000 small and micro businesses discovered that 42% of the respondents had experienced cybercrime. The research by the Association of Accounting Technicians also revealed that 14% were not using security to protect themselves from cybercrime, while 31% were not updating their anti-virus software regularly.

Why would anyone want to hack your website?

You may think that your website is unlikely to attract too much attention from hackers, but websites of all types and sizes are being attacked all the time. Why? These days hackers are much less interested in vandalism than they are in using your server for nefarious means, covertly hosting illegal material or even hacking your customer data.

The impact – and cost – of missing or ignoring a hack can be enormous. Left untreated, you could easily see your search rankings bomb, your customers spammed and your website crash repeatedly. You may even have to rebuild your entire website from scratch.

What can you do? Given that even the CIA gets hacked from time to time, you’d think there was nothing you can do to resist a determined hacker. But there are several strategies you can use to help.

Firstly – and most importantly – ensure all software is up to date. Systems like WordPress and Magento issue security updates all the time, so make sure you are patched. If you’re collecting customer data, use an SSL – a secure certificate. Ensure your website is backed up regularly, so you can roll back in the event of a compromise. Look out for repeated form enquiries that appear suspicious or contain weird entries like ‘-1’. And use your Google Analytics to look for traffic that is extremely high volume or stays for a very short time – these are probably indications of someone somewhere trying to break into your website.

Zoe Richards is the project manager at North Laine Solutions (NLS), an integrated digital marketing & communications agency.
www.nlsltd.com

Q&A

“I’ve been working out of my garage for a while, but I think the time has come to rent somewhere. What are the main legal issues to be aware of before signing a leasehold agreement?”

A lease is a legal interest in land and is a big commitment, which should not be entered into lightly. You would be wise, when you have found the property that meets your locational and rental needs, to take legal advice before you agree the terms of the letting with the landlord or their agent, and sign the lease.

You should think about how long you want to commit yourself to the lease and whether, during that time, you would like the option of bringing the lease to an end (this is known as an option to break). This may be particularly important to you as a sole trader if the plans for your business do not go as expected or if the market declines. You will need to agree the rental figure, whether this will be subject to review during the term of the lease, and the landlord might want to hold a rent deposit.

If you are taking the lease of the whole of a property (such as an industrial unit), then you will likely be responsible for the repair and maintenance of the structural and non-structural parts so you should commission a survey to ensure you are content with the condition of the premises. You should also ensure that the permitted use of the property meets your requirements.

Jo Lovell is a solicitor within the property department at Mayo Wynne Baxter and deals with a wide range of commercial property matters. Mayo Wynne Baxter provides a comprehensive and personal service to a broad spectrum of local, national and international clients.
www.mayowynnebaxter.co.uk

If you have a business question for any of our experts, email it to: [email protected]