Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company


  • Optimistic outlook According to a recent survey by Allied Irish Bank (UK), nine out of 10 business owner managers are optimistic about future business prospects, six out of 10 expect the economic situation to improve in the next year and one in three say they are currently in a growth phase.
  • Bad management Of the 44% of SMEs founded in 2011 that had failed by 2014, 56% failed because of incompetence and bad management, reveals the Growing Your Business report. One of the organisations behind the report, the Chartered Management Institute, has created an online ‘heatmap’ to inform SMEs of courses and support provided by local business schools.

Four questions to ask a web design agency

If you are thinking about a new website, make sure you get the lowdown on a web agency before you employ them. It could save you time and money in the long run.

Can I see some examples of other websites you have built and can I get references?
Anybody can hand out links to websites they say they have designed and built, so do some research: often clients allow agencies to add a logo and web link on the site they’ve built (usually in the footer) so check for this and then ask for contact details of clients who will talk about their experience with the agency. A good agency will expect you to ask so don’t be shy!

Do you handle all development work in-house?
Make sure the agency you hire has its own team of web developers. If there isn’t an in-house development team, this is typically a sign that the person selling you the website won’t understand the technical side of your project.

Do you have a dedicated project manager that will be managing my project?
A project manager will help keep your project on track and save you a lot of time by dealing with the tiny details involved in a website’s design and development. They will keep track of the build, arrange timescales and coordinate feedback to the developers. If an agency doesn’t have a project manager, you will need to do all this yourself.

Do you offer a warranty? What are the ongoing costs?
A website is like a car, it requires ongoing maintenance to ensure it runs smoothly. Web technology changes almost daily and your new site may function beautifully today but be broken tomorrow. Check that your website will be covered for bugs/issues after launch and then prepare yourself for ongoing costs. Ask your agency about:

• maintenance costs
• hosting
• backups
• website security

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


”Please could you explain the rules around overtime and holiday pay? I understand there have been some changes in this area over the past year and I’m concerned that I’m not fully up to date with them.”

There have been a number of cases before both the national Tribunals and the European Court of Justice this year looking at the question of how to calculate a week’s pay for a worker who is on annual leave. The law in this area is still developing in that there are cases to be heard later this year on the subject, but some principles have emerged to assist employers.

It is beyond argument that a worker should receive a week’s pay for a week’s holiday, but where a worker’s pay varies should, for example, overtime, commission and allowances be included within that calculation of a week’s pay?

Statutory holiday pay should be based on pay that is ‘normally’ received and must include payments that are intrinsically linked to tasks that the worker is required to carry out and payments that relate to the worker’s professional and personal status.

Guaranteed/compulsory overtime that an employee is contractually obliged to undertake should be included, but the position is less clear with voluntary overtime. If a pattern has developed over a sufficient period of time to justify the label of ‘normal’ pay then it is possible that Tribunals will interpret voluntary overtime as forming part of normal remuneration.

Generally speaking, as things currently stand commission should be included in the calculation and holiday pay should also include an element to offset any disadvantage experienced as a result of not having the chance to earn commission while on holiday (if any).

This is a developing area and every case is fact sensitive so be sure to seek specific legal advice tailored to your business and your workers.

Samantha Dickinson is an associate solicitor in the employment department at Mayo Wynne Baxter. Mayo Wynne Baxter provides a comprehensive and personal service to a broad spectrum of local, national and international clients.

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