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All Posts By Sam Allcock

How upcoming DVS regulations will harm the haulage industry

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By March this year, it will be an offence for any truck over 12 tonnes to enter the Greater London borough without a HGV DVS (Direct Vision Service) safety permit. These rules will be in operation 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Those who do not comply with new regulations face a fine of up to £550 (reduced to £275 if paid within a two week period).

This was originally supposed to come into effect from October 2020, but was extended to allow businesses affected by COVID more time to prepare.

Every vehicle will receive a permit which is ‘star rated’. Those with three, four and five star vehicles will receive a 10 year permit, whereas one and two star rated vehicles will only receive permits until 1st March. 

Those who do not pass the rating system will need to install ‘safe systems’ which include the following:

  • Side scan sensors
  • Class V and VI mirrors
  • In-cab monitor
  • Safety stickers
  • Left turn alarm
  • Under run protection

These changes, however, are going to harm the domestic haulage industry and add extra costs to operations. In particular, the new rules around the installation of cameras is going to cause issues here because vehicles that do have cameras fitted already will need to upgrade to comply with the regulations, and those with no cameras fitted will be facing a very expensive transformation.

The rules around cameras have been introduced with intent to protect pedestrians and cyclists. The use of footage from these cameras can support a reduction across some HGV fleet insurance policies, however the cost of these cameras along with the extra costs associated with the Kent passport system means that it is unlikely haulage companies will even reap the benefits.

These new rules are likely going to cause a huge number of haulage companies to be close to breaking point. As a result of increasing operational costs, haulage companies may have no other choice but to increase their own prices to customers, potentially losing some, or are simply going to exit the market as they cannot afford to operate any longer.

It is incredibly important to make sure that, if vehicles in your fleet require these changes, that they get done as soon as possible. It is not worth losing business over missing one or two of these requirements. Keeping your fleet insurance up to date can also help to mitigate potential risks.

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Insolvency Expert’s insight into what the Boohoo/Debenhams deal will mean for retail

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The news of Boohoo purchasing the Debenhams brand has dominated the headlines this week. But what will this mean for the high street, and what repercussions will this have for similar businesses who are struggling? Ben Cowgill, Director of The Insolvency Experts, part of Cowgills, provides an insight.

As we know, Boohoo is not taking on any of Debenhams’ stores, therefore increasing the number of empty stores both on the high street and in shopping centres. Supply of retail property will, therefore, further outweigh demand.  

This means that new prospective tenants will be in a stronger bargaining position with regards to rent prices. Existing tenants are likely to see a further reduction in footfall on the high street as people who specifically went into town centres/shopping centres to visit Debenhams will no longer be doing so. This may impact negatively on their turnover and prompt them to renegotiate with landlords. As a result of this pressure, landlords will likely need to realign rents in line with the current times.

There will also be an increased amount of pressure on the Government to revisit business rates, or even to consider scrapping altogether in order to assist traditional retailers to compete with those who are making a huge amount of profit online.  

A huge lesson that other retailers can learn from this is that it is extremely important to stay with the times. Also, what sort of experience can businesses offer in-store that cannot be experienced online? For example, excellent customer service, the ability to try clothing on, trying free samples etc.?

Boohoo unquestionably has a younger audience. Does this mean Debenhams now have a chance of appealing to a younger audience? It’s hard to say, but they certainly now have an increased database to target in both in terms of size and profile. This will enable them to diversify their product offering further. It remains to be seen whether the Debenhams brand will stay for the long term or whether Boohoo decides to revamp it. Either way, the target audience will certainly be broadened.

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What you need for a Startup Business Loan

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It’s all well and good having a dream to set up your own business, but realistically you need the funding to get started. There are a variety of ways to go about getting this money, but a startup loan is by far the most popular. Government schemes of up to £25k can be awarded to help businesses in their first two years of trading. This can be used on a variety of items, including equipment, company vehicles, stock, cash flow, leasing an office, and marketing.

But what exactly do you need to qualify for a startup business loan? We outline some of the main factors you will need to prove in order to have a higher chance of being given a loan.

Required documentation

There are a few pieces of criteria that you need to meet in order to qualify for a business loan. This includes proof that you are over the age of 18 (if you are lucky to look young enough!), that you live in the UK, you have the right to work in the UK and that your business will be based in the UK. A business credit check will also be carried out and six months of personal bank statements are required.

Industry Experience

If you want to set up your own business in a particular sector, it makes sense that you would want to do this in an area you have experience in as you already have the skills and knowledge to do the job and understand what sort of team you need to hire. An up-to-date CV with references can help to prove your track record for success. 

But, even if you don’t have skills in the sector, don’t forget to mention transferable skills here too. Although you might not have direct experience, you likely have skills from other jobs that could be used in this sector, e.g. organisation, ability to work under pressure, team management etc.

Detail those who will help you

If there are going to be other people involved in setting up the business, it is necessary to provide details for who this person/people will be and their prior experience. For example, if you do not have experience in the retail sector but your business partner previously ran a local clothes shop, this can boost the chances of you getting a loan thanks to their prior experience.

A business plan

In order to feel confident that your business will get off the ground, lenders need to see where you will spend the money. It is a good idea to include all the items you will need in your initial business plan. 

It can be useful to fund part of the business yourself initially as this will show lenders that you are investing capital into the business. You also need to present financial forecasts for your first two years of trading, as that is where their money is going to be spent.

Getting all of this documentation can be a time-consuming and stressful process. An experienced commercial finance broker, such as Hilton Smythe Finance, can help to take the pressure off you and to streamline the process. 

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4 benefits of buying a business right now

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It’s no secret that economic health has been on the downturn since the start of the pandemic. So why are so many business brokers seeing a huge amount of interest from those wishing to buy a business?

These people are thinking ahead and thinking smart, like a true budding entrepreneur. Here are 4 reasons it’s a great time to buy a business. 

It’s a great chance for those who have lost jobs

For the millions who have been made redundant due to the pandemic, some have turned this into a positive and believe they now have a chance to pursue entrepreneurial dreams that they may have been sitting on for years. Perhaps the fear of lack of job security or time to plan has been an issue, but now they are free to explore their ideas and become their own boss.

The amount of interest you will get once restrictions ease

When lockdown restrictions are eased, many will be eager to get back out to pubs, cafes and restaurants to eat great food and socialise with their friends and family. There is going to be such high demand once these places can safely reopen that well-known chains will have to turn people away due to being over-capacity for bookings – meaning they will have to try lesser known places in the area, and if they like what you offer they can become repeat customers.

In the meantime, you could even set up as take out only and get yourself on apps such as Just Eat, Deliveroo etc. A lot of people want a break from so much home cooking!

Smaller, local businesses have risen in popularity

Pre-COVID, it almost seemed like big supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys were going to lead to the death of the convenience store. Quite the opposite has happened, with these small businesses becoming the lifeline for local communities. 

This is especially true for those people who are vulnerable and have had to shield themselves. Many have been avoiding contact with a large number of people, e.g. having to wait in long queues at big supermarkets, the hustle and bustle of a busy Saturday food shop etc. When supplies were in short stock, corner shops could supply local residents with the items they needed.

Post offices also saw a rise in popularity as we have been unable to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays with our loved ones, so we have had to substitute by sending cards and presents in the post. Plus, everyone turned to online shopping so postal services have been busier than ever. People want to support local in these trying times!

It’s a safer bet than starting a new business from the ground up

According to the Office of National Statistics, more than 58% of start-ups fail within the first five years of operation. This risk can be mitigated by buying a business that already has a solid customer base, a reputation and a good financial history to prove that it is a viable asset. Plus, you will already have the team with the know-how to carry out day to day operations.


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Top Car Care & Safety Tips for Winter

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Winter is the harshest time of year for your car. You’ll likely be using your headlights and windscreen wipers constantly, having the heating on full blast, regularly de-icing your windows and using brakes more frequently in wet and icy conditions.

For this reason, it’s really important to take good care of your car to stop any potential damage occurring due to the weather conditions, as well as making regular checks to keep yourself safe. Below we have broken down some tips for keeping your car in top shape.

Check your wheels often

It’s important to keep a close eye on your wheels, especially for any punctures or even sneaky slow punctures that could have occurred due to a sharp stone hidden out of sight in the snow. It’s also important to keep an eye on your tread depth, which should be a minimum of 1.6mm. If you have a 20p coin to hand, the outside of it is around that length – if you can see the border of the 20p coin, you should replace your tyres as soon as possible.

It’s also a good idea to check if your wheels are scuffed, damaged or in need of some TLC, especially if you have alloy wheels. Experts such as Alloy Wheel Repair Services can bring them back to life, making them as good as new!

Keep your air conditioning active

You might be thinking, why would I need to use air conditioning in the Winter? But, it is important to keep those vents clear, and will also help with misting to avoid foggy windows. 

Keep your screen wash topped up

The effects of dirty rain and constant freezing and thawing of ice can leave a film on your windscreen, meaning you will likely need to use your screen wash to clear it away. As it is being used more, it is likely to need filling up more. If it is not filled up to an adequate level, your windscreen wipers can actually smear more dirt across the window.

There is the risk of it freezing up, too, so regularly checking your levels can help you to spot when this has happened so that you can wait for your engine to heat it up before setting off.

Check your battery often

Cold, damp weather can put a strain on your car’s battery, especially if you’re not using it as much due to COVID restrictions. It can also impact the amount of power it can deliver. You can get a home battery tester to help you with frequent checks.

Keep an emergency kit in your car

Winter is one of the most popular times for breakdowns. The last thing you want is to be stuck out at night in pitch-black, freezing cold weather. It is best practice to keep a safety kit that includes jump starter cables, a warm blanket or coat, a decent torch, a warning triangle, first aid kit, whistle and more in your car boot. 

Keep your car clean, inside and out

As we have mentioned before, the amount of dirt that can build up on your car can leave a film over it (leading to those pesky ‘clean me!’ drawings!). The rain or snow on the bottom of your shoes can also cause the carpet to be quite muddy, and as the dirt dries it can crack and make mess. Regular cleaning and hoovering can avoid such buildups.

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All About Minoxidil And What It Can Do For Hair Loss

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Hair loss and male pattern baldness are no laughing matter. There are also no other known medications that can stop the hair loss cycle completely. There is, however, one that can help your scalp regrow hair follicles. 

The answer, and with the aid of Minoxidil. 

What Does Minoxidil Do? 

Minoxidil is a medication that aims to treat both hair loss and high blood pressure. It was, in the first place, created for the latter. Scientists were able to find a link between the two disorders and, thus, began to develop and market minoxidil as an anti-hair loss agent. 

It is a hair loss product that can be easily purchased over-the-counter. No prescription required. Still, it is highly recommended that you seek medical advice first, before starting your minoxidil treatment. 

How Does It Work? 

Although the exact workings of how minoxidil spurs hair regrowth are yet to be found, there are some pieces of scientific information which reveal how there may be a relation in between minoxidil and how it impacts the follicles and the scalp. 

Minoxidil is referred to as a “vasodilator”. Vasodilators “dilate” or open up blood vessels, to allow blood to flow smoothly. A reason why high blood pressure is treated with minoxidil and/or similar vasodilating medication is that the ailment is caused by the clogging of the arteries. And when such artery-clogging happens, blood is unable to pass through from system to system. More importantly, it is unable to pump enough blood to the heart. 

With regards to hair loss and how minoxidil performs towards it, the same is true. When the scalp’s blood vessels are dilated, blood can pass through and encourage not just hair growth, but healthy hair regrowth. 

The oxygen found in blood, along with other essential nutrients found in it, are crucial in supporting hair roots and follicles. That is, in the first place, how said nutrients reach your locks. It isn’t strictly through chemical-infused shampoo and conditioning products. It is through the minerals fed to them via blood transmission. 

Minoxidil And Its Positive Effects 

There are varied specifics in terms of the level of efficacy of minoxidil per user. Some observational surveys show that it takes at least a minimum of 6 months before its impact becomes noticeable. 

By “noticeable”, we mean that this could be anywhere from thicker hair growth on the same remaining patches, or regrowth on the surrounding areas which have gone completely bald. 

Do not be disheartened should you not see said effects during the first, second, and even the third month of usage. This is quite normal, and it seems to be a prevailing part of the treatment cycle itself. 

Side Effects 

Now, when it comes to side effects, they vary from one person to the next, too. Generally, they revolve around skin itch, redness especially on the exposed areas (bald parts of the scalp), contact dermatitis (which can be recurring if untreated), a burning sensation around the roots, and in severe and isolated cases, difficulty breathing. 

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Tips For Choosing A Double Vanity Unit

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As easy as it might sound, many would split into the advantages and disadvantages of either, when it comes to the use of a double vanity unit in their bathroom. Having a double vanity unit, doubling up on storage space is always an advantage, freeing up a lot of wasted space in a bathroom. With two units, you also get an extra sink which is great for washing up or just filling the tub up with supplies. Also with two units, there is plenty of countertop space and even more storage. In short, a double vanity unit is ideal for those who want to make the most of their bathroom space.

Of course, the biggest disadvantage of having a double vanity unit in your home is money. Yes, the extra space in your bathroom is very handy, but then again so is the cost. The cost of having double sinks is usually more expensive than buying a single sink, even if you have to purchase the second-hand ones.

Another disadvantage of having a double vanity unit in your home is the style. You don’t want to buy a unit that looks out of place in your bathroom. Ideally, you would buy one that is in keeping with the rest of the decor in the bathroom. If you have a traditional looking bathroom, then don’t be afraid to stick to white units, and maybe even buy a traditional looking mirror for it.

Many people think that a double vanity unit is going to take up too much floor space in their bathroom. Buying two units indeed means you need to make room for them, but don’t let this put you off. A lot of old lavatories that are newly built now come with a lot of floor space. Most houses are being built with large bathrooms these days, and most homes already have a large enough bathroom space to fit a double vanity unit.

Another issue many people have is with regards to fitting the vanity units into their bathroom. If you don’t have a large bathroom it can be difficult. Luckily there are some great ideas and products available that help you make space work. You can use shelves, units, and mirrors to create plenty of storage space for all your toiletries and cosmetics. This makes your bathroom look much cleaner and tidier.

If you’re looking to fit a double vanity unit in a smaller bathroom then you have some other ideas on how best to go about it. You can usually find a unit that fits underneath your existing sink. This is one of the easiest ways to hide the unit behind your existing sink and makes it look as if it’s completely blending in with the rest of the room.

However, if your bathroom is bigger then you will want to think about placing it in a corner of the room instead. This will enable you to fit the unit into the most open and efficient space possible. When thinking about this to make sure you remember to keep accessibility in mind. If you have to bend down far to access the unit then this won’t be ideal. You must make the most of any open space within your bathroom and ensure you can move around easily.

You may also be interested in finding a double vanity unit that can go on wheels. These can often be fitted with rollers or casters so you can move them around as needed. The benefit of these is that they provide you with easy mobility. They also help to keep the unit from blocking walkways and making a busy area look too cluttered. As always make sure you measure out space where the unit will go before you buy it. This will ensure you get one that fits well and looks good within your home.

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Everything Fans Need To Know About What’s In Store For Football In 2021

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A lot of us started 2020 with a bang, oblivious of how the rest of the year would go. However, before the end of March, most countries had initiated nationwide lockdown, curfews, and large gathering restrictions. As a sports fan, you were probably bummed about how the nature of football changed in 2020 as well.

The empty stadiums, canceled seasons, and postponed matches? It was all very gutting. So how will 2021 look like for football? Let’s examine some major things fans need to know about what’s in store for football in the coming year.

  • Sports betting.

The sports betting industry certainly took a hit this year, but while some companies hunkered down to save costs, others invested more in online betting platforms such as Infogol. So, will this continue in 2021? It probably will. Betting companies that set up online gaming platforms, casino games, and the likes found that betting rates rose exponentially.

So, if any more games or events are canceled in the first and second quarter of the year, more companies will shift to alternative betting options like elections, popular awards, casino games, and the likes.

  • Some players may be M.I.A.

With the second wave of covid-19 already causing more restriction on travel and public gatherings, it may also mean more people and players may put their health first. In 2020, we saw many high-profile personalities test positive for the virus, and while the death rates have highly reduced, not many want to put themselves at risk. Plus, if a player tests positive for the virus, he’ll have to self-isolate and receive the necessary treatment first before returning to the field.

  • Fewer fans at the stadiums.

Many football lovers are probably looking forward to heading back to the stadiums and watching the match live. Fans watching from home probably also miss seeing the crowd go wild when a goal shoots through the net, or maybe even narrowly misses.

We can only anticipate the reduced cases of covid-positive patients, and even some health experts that fans may not be able to return to the stadiums until later on in the year. There’s no need to put people at risk when fans can safely watch from home, right?

  • Advanced online betting.

As mentioned above, sports betting companies are working hard to improve mobile gambling options by tweaking app features and introducing more mouth-watering deals. We’ve seen improvements in visuals, the virtual reality experience, and also artificial intelligence.

With more punters and sports enthusiasts signing up on various betting platforms, it seems their hard work is paying off. So, while the stadiums are open to only players and officials, and some games may either be spaced, postponed, or even canceled, viewers will probably have competing apps promising addicting deals and innovative feats.

2020 had a lot of people sitting patiently and waiting for answers. So, 2021 would probably do the same. Nothing is certain for now, although life has almost returned to ‘normal,’ but normal means something different now. Things like online streaming, empty stadiums, canceled matches, reduced betting charges on live games, and the likes are issues that aren’t exactly certain. So, while we can’t really get ahead of ourselves on specific dates and events, there’s only little we can do, hope and pray.

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How Online Gambling Works in 2021: The Future and Big Trends

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Casinos have been a prominent contributor to online entertainment for the last three decades. While this may be surprising to some, seasoned gamblers know how involved casinos are online.

What both the veteran and the newbie will agree on is the fact that the industry is expansive. Having been around for a while, the long-serving gamer may note the market has shown vigorous growth and development. So much so that it becomes obvious to the users. The casino industry, which utilizes all forms of technology, is in a constant state of transformation.

New concepts and rising consumer demand are responsible for emerging casino industry trends in the online gaming market. From a professional’s perspective, companies like norske casino have made leaps and bounds and are ready to evolve throughout 2021.

Jørgen Aasgen, whose profile you can overview here, talks about what the future of online gambling looks like for 2021.

Mobile Gaming

Mobile gaming has taken off in the last decade. We see miniaturised versions of console hits like “Hitman” and “Need for Speed” available in the form of a downloadable app.

HTML5 has put a dampener on the enthusiasm for Native Applications. This technology allows full interaction on web-based agnostic platforms through a web browser. Every game that gets played online has all the program or application data stored in the ‘cloud.’

This is a  fantastic feature and is favourable to the average internet-based casino. It allows them to present as many options as possible to the mobile gamer without being restricted by the smart device’s space limitations.

Other technologies on the market like facial recognition and biometrics will soon do away with the usual password requirements. Smartphones’ capabilities to host these innovations provide an opportunity to create a new security layer. It will be a useful feature in regular internet-based transactions like iGaming deposits and payouts.

While we can’t assure that this will be in full swing by 2021, we know the relevant sectors are swiftly heading in that direction.

Virtual Gaming

According to significant tech producers, VR headsets are soon to become famous. The first real uses of this visual element occurred in military training simulations. Soon facebook picked up the innovation. We believe that the social media giant is developing an interaction where Virtual and Augmented Reality (XR) will be an underlying principle.

The casino industry has been working hard alongside tech companies. Developers are using VR avatars in online video poker games to emulate the details of the brick and mortar casinos. It won’t be very long before the XR headset finds regular occupation for simulations in online games.

We may just come to realise that the physical casinos are actually quite restrictive compared to what technology can simulate. The virtual headset is capable of taking us to any place in the imagination.

Blockchain and Crypto Based Casinos

There are some casinos on the market that specialise in bitcoin transactions. They’re known as ‘Bitcoin Casinos’ and host all the entertainment the usual operator does. The only difference is crypto is the primary transaction method.

A critical element of being able to wager with cryptocurrencies is it’s lower transaction fees. Additionally, the bettor can play under full anonymity. These benefits exist because a digital payment form doesn’t need a middle man to handle transactions. Handling fees requires little to no effort, making the process both simpler and faster.

With all these perks, we can expect many more casinos to use bitcoin transactions in 2021.

Esports Betting

The pandemic of 2020 created a void in the sports markets. With all conventional competitions facing temporary suspension, bettors turned to esports. Much like other casino gaming industry trends, it was existent but relatively unknown.

The lack of action in the international betting scene gave exposure to esports. As we regroup in the wake of the world pandemic, we can expect conventional sports to reclaim their spot in the limelight. This doesn’t mean that esports will regress. League of Legends, Mobile Legends, and Free Fire already are featured in select sportsbooks, so we only anticipate growth.

Once advertisers take notice of the competitions, esports will continue to be on the rise. Collaborations like those between FAW-Audi and Top Esports, Invictus Gaming and Chevrolet, FunPlus Phoenix and BMW, and Royal Never Give-Up and Mercedes, are some of the meaningful partnerships formed already. These are sure indicators of what we can expect from online betting in the future.

In Closing

Covid has played a significant role in revealing what already was obvious to some. From a casino gaming industry overview, we can tell that the online betting scene will be full of new norms in 2021.

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4 of the best custom stickers we’ve seen for laptops

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Are you looking to get stickers for your laptop or browsing to find ideas for your next sticker?

Many of the world best startups use custom stickers to help their growth.

Stickers can raise brand awareness amongst a group of users or give as gifts to social influencers.

We’ve compiled a shortlist of the most creative stickers we’ve seen that could be perfect for your laptop.

We also tell you how you can make your a version for yourself. In some cases, you can download the file to use, free!

So, let’s dive straight in.

1. Vikings Trading mirror gold sticker

I love this monochrome design’s simplicity and its striking colours & stunning brand logo.

You can download this design to use free here. It’s a printed on mirror gold material.

2. Spiderman laptop sticker

This Siderman sticker is perfect for showing your personality. I love how it hangs down from the top of your laptop. There are loads of ideas like this on Etsy – we recommend having a look.

3. Nord holographic logo sticker

1000’s of brands use custom stickers to promote themselves, and this is a perfect example.

It includes their web address (a perfect call to action). It also pops because of the shiny, holographic material. If you’d like to use this design for inspiration, you can download it here.

4. Left & right brain sticker

This design is incredible. If you search for it in Amazon, you’ll find it quickly enough. I wanted to include this design to show you how awesome laptop stickers or skins can be. There are no limits to your creativity.

And that’s it! If you have a custom laptop sticker you’d like to share with us, please comment below.

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