Why Manuals Are Important For Our Finances And For Our Businesses

When it comes to products we own and products we create, manuals are always included. These are for various reasons but mainly to show us how to put things together and how to use them once they are assembled. But you may not realise it – manuals, especially visual manuals can be incredibly important for our finances too.

You may be wondering why manuals are important for our finances as consumers – well, the fact is that if we didn’t know how to put something together, we could make an error and break it. We will then have to buy the item again – which isn’t good for our finances, is it? Using manuals to assemble things correctly and use them correctly also keeps them in warranty.

However manuals can also be great for businesses and businesses such as Manualise help to create manuals for your business. They make illustrated manuals and Manualise also produce multilingual manuals. But how exactly can manuals help your business?

Well, simply put, if you are offering a business or service or even a product, a manual will help the consumer no end. If it is a product, they can use the manual you offer to put the product together or learn exactly how to use it. If you offer a business or service, perhaps online, a manual can help your consumers to learn all about your product and how to make it work for them.

Over my 28 years, I’ve come across a number of manuals – whether physical when buying a product or digital, perhaps in PDF form – and they’ve always been of great use to me. Whether it has been for setting up the laptop that I am typing on now or putting together that dreaded flat pack furniture, manuals are super important to our everyday life.

I am yet to implement them into my business model – I don’t really offer any services that could do with a manual right now as I currently offer freelance writing, proofreading and virtual assistant services. But something I am considering is a DIY sort of course or membership – teaching people how they too can make a living out of the services I myself offer. I love to share the knowledge and should I go ahead with this, I’ll be in need of my own manuals, whether physical and sent to the participant, or digital and emailed across. I wouldn’t really know where to start in creating one to include not only all the important information but also be visually appealing so I am glad there are great brands out there who help you with this.

As you can see, manuals are always going to be important to my everyday life – and perhaps even my business model in the future too. I don’t think people realise how much we come to rely on them until we find ourselves without one. Tell me now; how many times have you got stressed when you have realised you haven’t got a manual to help you with whatever you need to do? I bet the answer is more often than not, right?

Do you use manuals in your business? Have you ever suffered financially because you didn’t use the manual and broke something?

Collaboration

 

Making investments without blowing your budget

Is investing only for the rich? That’s the way people used to think, but these days it’s becoming an increasingly commonplace activity. This is thanks in part to the emergence of new financial products aimed at those who have ordinary incomes and little inherited wealth but who want to make their savings work harder than they will in the bank. How much do you know about them? Could you make investing work for you?

Mutual funds

Some mutual funds now waive initial minimum investments in return for an assurance (on pain of being charged) that you will make a regular monthly investment going forwards. This sum could be as low as £35. It’s a great way to put money aside and because it means you’re buying into a carefully balanced portfolio of shares (assuming you choose your fund wisely), it offers fairly good security – something that’s all the more important when you have a limited ability to start over again if things go wrong.

ISAs

If you want a simple buy-in option that doesn’t require much monitoring and you have a few thousand pounds to invest (but not more that £20,000), you may be well advised to choose an ISA. There are several different types of ISA which are beneficial in different economic climates. The great thing about them is that they’re tax free. The downside is that you miss out on any gains if you have to cash them in early.

Michael Longmire
Target-date funds

Another good option for the medium to long term is investing in a target date fund. Some of these offer low minimum investments and although they carry some risk in the early stages they become more stable over time, so as your money grows it gets safer – ideal if your aim is to build up a fund that will help you in retirement.

Reinvest your dividends

If you’ve invested in stocks that pay you dividends, you’ll usually be given the option to receive them in cash or reinvest. Setting them up to automatically reinvest helps you to avoid temptation and means that your assets will keep growing – when you check them, you might be surprised by how much you have. If you have sufficient disposable income, you might also consider setting up a direct payment from your bank to increase your holdings every month. If you sign up for a free trial at Hammerstone you can learn more about the ins and outs of stock investing.

Avoid paying extra

One thing that investors on a budget really need to beware of is losing money in taxes and fees. At this level you really need to know your tax exemptions, identify free market-monitoring resources and look for brokers who will keep charges at a sensible level. Remember that they have to make a living too – if they offer you vanishingly low long-term rates, you should be very cautious – but most of the risk lies in the small print, so just make sure you read it carefully.

Investing is something that anyone with a bit of spare money and a sensible approach to managing it can do. Over time, even modest sums can earn you an impressive amount.

Building a start-up? It’s time to consider contract workers

If you’re an entrepreneur considering how you can launch that all-important first start-up, it’s likely that staffing costs are front and centre in your mind. For many modern businesses, staff are the main asset – and whether they’re software developers or marketers, their calibre will often be what makes or breaks a business. But with the going rate for such people already high enough, spending money on staff can seem somewhat excessive. Contractors who can work flexibly, though, are often a wise answer.

What is a contractor?

Many people in Britain are still employed on a permanent basis, which means that they’re contracted to work specific hours at specific times indefinitely until either side breaks the arrangement. A contractor can differ in one or both of two ways. First, they may be hired for a certain period only – known as a “fixed term”. Secondly, their hours can be left deliberately unpredictable: one month they may work just for an hour or two, for example, while during a firm’s busy month they may be needed several times a week.

Managing their pay

From the payroll team’s point of view, meanwhile, perhaps the main aspect of contract work is the fact that contractors are responsible for their own tax payments. While permanent employees will usually have their tax deducted by you “at source”, contractors will receive all of it and later pay their own taxes through self-assessment. They will also be responsible for covering their own pension contributions, which means contractors are often an attractive choice for many firms. However, many companies worry about whether they’re doing the right thing. When it comes to making sure you’re operating within the law, PAYE compliant Umbrella Companies know all the rules – so make sure you choose a reputable firm.

Laws to consider

Even if you outsource all of these functions to an umbrella company, it’s still worth familiarising yourself with the ways in which the law works in order to be sure that you’re not inadvertently breaking any of the rules. It’s not illegal, of course, to employ someone on a contract basis – and it’s common practice in all sorts of industries, but there are some rules which an employer shouldn’t break, and the most high-profile one in recent years has been the imposition of IR35.

As getting paid as a contractor can have significant tax advantages to the contractor themselves, some people choose to become contractors even if there’s no other reason for them to do so – even if they’d simply be a normal employee if they hadn’t gone down that road. The IR35 provision prevents people in this specific scenario from doing that, and it’s usually strictly applied – so it’s wise to be sure that any so-called contractors you have on your books aren’t simply employees in disguise.

As this article has shown, hiring contractors can be a great solution to your start-up staffing woes. Of course, no staffing solution is ever perfect – and hiring contractors does come with downsides from time to time, like increased staff turnover. But with contractors offering flexibility both in terms of money and of time, it’s clear that hiring some may offer a smart solution to your problems.