Archive for January, 2019

Bulgarian Mayors Set up Tourism Management Organisation for Rose Valley Region

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

The mayors of several municipalities and regional authorities took part in Kazanlak in the establishment of a tourism management organisation for the Rose Valley region, Sliven Municipality said, reports Focus News Agency. 

The newly established organisation will primarily focus on health and cultural tourism related to balneotherapy, wellness, culture and festivals, as well as adventure and ecotourism, mountain hiking and recreation.

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Lenovo Introduces ThinkPad L390 and L390 Yoga Laptops with Business Users in Mind

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

New ThinkPad L390 Series Laptops Designed for Small Business Users

When a PC manufacturer announces business laptops starting under $1,000 it will get the attention of small business owners. If the manufacturer is Lenovo and the laptop includes the ThinkPad line, their ear perks up even more.

Lenovo says the ThinkPad L390 and L390 Yoga have been updated to give small business a reliable and durable device which is also affordable. The update includes Intel’s latest Whiskey Lake 8th-gen processors, which will be a first for the ThinkPad L-series of laptops.

Starting at $659 for the L390, and $889 for the L390 Yoga, it is a price well within the budget of many small businesses. Moreover, this price comes for one of the better-known computing workhorses in the business sector, ThinkPad.

In the press release Lenovo said it made the updates in part to respond to the needs of IT and a workforce which needs to be more agile.

It goes on to say, “Workplace transformation initiatives are in full swing, responding to the desires of energized and dynamic end-users. New workspaces are all about collaboration areas and greater end-user mobility which promote interaction and productivity. Such spaces require technology that enables more flexibility and creativity.”

ThinkPad L390

Features of the ThinkPad L390:

  • Display: 13.3-inch (1920×1080) touch, IPS
  • Processor: 8th-gen Intel Core (“Whiskey Lake”), Core i5 (vPro), Core i3, Celeron
  • Memory: Up to 32GB DDR4
  • Storage: Up to 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Ports: 2 USB 3.0 Type C (5Gbps); 2 USB 3.1 Type A; HDMI 1.4; microSD; miniRJ-45
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (2×2), Bluetooth, NFC
  • Graphics: Intel HD (integrated)

New ThinkPad L390 Series Laptops Designed for Small Business Users

ThinkPad L390 Yoga

Features of the ThinkPad L390 Yoga:

  • Display: 13.3-inch (1920×1080) touch, IPS
  • Processor: 8th-gen Intel Core (Whiskey Lake), Core i5 (vPro), Core i3
  • Memory: Up to 32GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • Storage: Up to 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Ports: 2 USB 3.0 Type C; 2 USB 3.1 Type A; HDMI 1.4; microSD; miniRJ-45
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (2×2), Bluetooth, NFC
  • Camera: 720p HD/depth camera for Windows Hello; world-facing camera

Both laptops also share a 45Wh battery, up to Windows 10 Pro 64-bit operating system, and fingerprint reader, dTPM 2.0.

The Yoga has a full 360-degree hinge so you can use it as a laptop or tablet and the included Active Pen stylus is conveniently hidden within the chassis of the laptop so you always know where it is.

They Yoga also has a better camera system for Windows Hello and world-facing camera for quick log-ins.

You can order the ThinkPad L390 and L390 Yoga in black or silver now.

Image: Levnovo

This article, “Lenovo Introduces ThinkPad L390 and L390 Yoga Laptops with Business Users in Mind” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Bulgartransgaz Creates Subsidiary for Gas Distribution Hub

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Bulgartransgaz EAD has set up its subsidiary Gas Hub Balkan EAD in connection with the initiative for the construction of a gas distribution hub in Bulgaria. In a press release, the company said the creation of the subsidiary was pursuant to the decision by the Council of Ministers and the Parliament to amend Bulgaria’s 2020 energy strategy. In the future Bulgartransgaz will keep at least 51% in the subsidiary, which will develop a liquid gas exchange in Bulgaria, with a segment for bilateral trade. Initially, Gas Hub Balkan will give the participants in the natural gas market in Bulgaria and the region the opportunity to use a trading platform in line with Art. 10 of Regulation (EU) No 312/2014 establishing a network code on gas balancing of transmission networks. The proposed gas hub will improve energy security, diversify gas supply sources and routes and ensure competitive prices for consumers, Bulgartransgaz said.

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Tobacco Factory in Blagoevgrad Stopped Working Leaving 200 People Without Jobs

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Bulgartabac factory in Blagoevgrad stops working, but there is still no clear position on whether it is temporary or not. From more than 2,000 employees years ago, currently the factory employs about 200 people. A few days ago they were told that they had to submit notices of termination on the grounds that there was not enough work, reports BNT. 

The redundant workers are expected to receive between 4 and 5 salaries depending on the length of service, as well as the right to be on the dole for four months with minimum size of unempleoyment benefits. Currently, there is no formal opinion from Bulgartabac if the plant in Blagoevgrad ceases activity.

Central trade union organisations have not been formally notified of the employer’s intentions, the alerts were filed by people working in the cigarette factory. According to the chair of the tobacco federation of Podkrepa, Yuli Manoilov, the closure of the largest enterprise in the area will seriously affect the economy of the city.

Yuli Manoilov, Chair of the Tobacco Federation at Podkrepa trade union: For people it means some hard months, years, until they find new jobs. People working in the tobacco industry are narrow specialists who worked for many years only in this profession. They are specialists in this industry and it depends how much they are already prepared for what would appear to them as an opportunity in further activity.

According to the chair of the Tobacco Federation at Podkrepa, bad management had led to staff cuts at the plant. According to the privatisation contract, Bulgartabac has a commitment to keep the object of production until 2021 in Bulgaria, but it is not specified where.

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The Biggest Bulgarian-Macedonian Business Forum Opened in Skopje

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

The biggest Bulgarian-Macedonian businesss forum was opened in Skopje on 17th of January, reports BNT. 

Bulgaria is represented by a government delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, which also includes the Deputy Minister of Economy, the Deputy Minister of Tourism and the Director of the Executive Agency for Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

More than 50 Bulgarian companies from the mining indusrty, food, transport, and construction sectors, as well as mayors from the two countries participate in the event.

The purpose of the forum is to promote business relationships. Macedonia is a traditional trading partner of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria will also open a trade representation in Skopje.

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Bulgaria and Macedonia will Work for Joint Border Control

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Kocho Angushev agreed to work together for relieving border crossing formalities and for joint border control, reports BNT.

The two met in the framework of Deputy Prime Minister Donchev’s official visit to the Bulgarian-Macedonian Business Forum, held in Skopje on 17th of January.

A common priority for the two countries is the construction of transport corridor № 8 and the Skopje – Sofia railway line. Bulgaria will do everything necessary to accelerate the completion, said Deputy Prime Minister Donchev.

Deputy Prime Minister Kocho Angushev stressed that the Republic of Macedonia is interested in strengthening cooperation with Bulgaria in the energy sector as well. Donchev and Angushev agreed to review and ease all rules and administrative regimes that are a burden on investment and trade between the two countries.

Macedonia is interested in participation in Belene Nuclear Power Plant and “Balkan” gas hub projects.

The country could participate as a partner, said Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev.

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What is Cash Flow and Why is it Important for Small Business?

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

What is Cash Flow and Why is it Important for Small Business?

Think of cash flow as the blood running through the arteries of your small business. You use it to do those important things that keeps everything moving like buying stock, covering expenses and paying staff.

Small Business Trends contacted several experts to get a complete overview of what cash flow is and why it’s so important to your enterprise.

What is Cash Flow?

Basically, this is one of the best bellwethers for your small business. It shows the money that your small business has in the pot after paying out all the different debts and draws on your money. Cash flow gives you a good idea if you’re in a position to expand.

Why Is It So Important?

Stefanie Ricchio, a CPA/CGA, Author and Professor, further defined cash flow and some of the economic rough patches that make paying attention to it so critical.

“Cash Flow or what is commonly referred to as Working Capital is the heart of any business,” she writes.  “Without it a business cannot survive.  Many small business owners make the mistake of spending without consideration for the future. For example, buying excess inventory that ties up cash in inventory versus having it readily available to meet short and long term obligations of the business.”

How Does it Impact Small Business Loans?

She also notes that cash management is even more important when you consider how tight the banks are with small business loans and other money vehicles that can be used when cash runs short.

“Additionally, smaller businesses run the risk of losing employees, suppliers and facing interest and penalties as a result of poor cash management,” she writes adding that staying current on cash needs means balancing some of the other aspects of your business like tax payments, accounts receivable and inventory. That’s the best way to understand how much money you need in the system for each period.

“This must then be compared to the estimated cash receipts for the same period to determine whether or not the cash flow will be sufficient.”

Think of it as a balancing act of sorts.

How Do You Improve Your Cash Flow?

Of course, most small business owners want to know how to improve their cash flow and keep their business healthy. There’s a few good suggestions including leasing rather than buying equipment and even real estate. This is one of the best ways to make sure that you’ve got money for day-to-day operations because leasing allows you to pay in smaller chunks which boosts your cash flow.

 How Do Credit Checks Help?

If your customers pay in cash you can bypass this step. Otherwise it’s a good idea to do credit checks on all the clients who want credit to purchase your goods and services. Every small business hankers to make that extra sale, but late payments always take a dent out of your cash flow in the end.

Charlie Whyman is a Business Development Strategist and Marketing Trainer. She added that staying on top of things was also critical by “ maintaining control on your payment terms and be clear with your customers what they are before they purchase.”

Why are Down Payments Important?

She also says that asking for a down payment or a deposit on certain kinds of capital purchases is a good idea. That way you are not fronting the cost yourself. She also says that small businesses need to include all the necessary tax payments in their cash flows.

She also suggests bookkeeping remain simple.

“You can easily manage your cash flow using an excel spreadsheet, you don’t need fancy software to do it unless you have a lot of cash coming in and going out of the business,” she writes. “The more control over the numbers in your business, the better you will be set up for growth”.

Image: Shutterstock

This article, “What is Cash Flow and Why is it Important for Small Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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PG&E shareholder BlueMountain challenges bankruptcy plans

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

5 Retail Lessons from Holiday 2018

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

2018 Holiday Retail Trends

The holiday shopping season is in our rear-view mirror—and there’s reason for retailers to celebrate. Consumer spending for holiday 2018 hit a six-year high of $850 billion according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse report. Online shopping grew 19.1% year over year. Overall, retail spending growth was propelled by strong sales of apparel (up 7.9% from 2017) and home improvement (up 9%).

2018 Holiday Retail Trends

What can retailers take away from this year? Here are 5 things we learned in 2018.

1. Smart retailers incorporate bricks and clicks

Brick-and-mortar retailing is far from dead. In fact, the most successful retailers incorporate both online and offline sales channels. Mastercard’s report concludes that consumers have reached a “tipping point” where they’re equally comfortable shopping online or off, on mobile or on desktop. Shoppers don’t care how they get what they want—as long as they get it.

Lesson: If you don’t offer both e-commerce and a physical store, this is the year to start. Amazon had a record-breaking holiday season and selling on Amazon offers brick-and-mortar retailers an easy way to get online.

2. Thanksgiving shopping has gone digital

The hue and cry over retailers opening on Thanksgiving has faded—mostly because retailers are realizing they don’t need to open their stores on Turkey Day to make sales. Consumers use Thanksgiving to browse and buy on mobile devices in between eating. Thanksgiving sales soared by 28% compared to last year and more than $1 billion of those purchases were made on mobile devices.

Lesson: Close the store, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and watch sales ring up on your website.

3. Last-minute shoppers are a big deal

Last year’s holiday shopping season was hampered by shipping delays as bad weather and understaffing on the part of shipping companies created a perfect storm. This year, both retailers and shipping services were better prepared. To avoid disappointing shoppers, one-third of retailers didn’t promise customers a cutoff shipping date (i.e., “Order by Dec. 21 and we guarantee delivery by Christmas”). Instead, they focused on “buy online, pick up in store” options (BOPIS) to attract shoppers seeking last-minute gifts. Retailers including Kohl’s, Best Buy and Home Depot offered BOPIS options late on Christmas Eve, while Amazon delivered until midnight that day.  According to ShopperTrak, two of the 10 busiest shopping days of 2018 were December 22 and December 23.

Lesson: Online gift-giving guides or in-store assistance can help customers find what they need at the last minute. In 2019, aim to improve your inventory management so you can tell customers with confidence you’ve got what they’re looking for.

4. Gift cards drive sales

The average consumer bought four gift cards this holiday season, making gift cards the second most popular gift, Supply Chain Dive reports. December 26 and December 29 also made ShopperTrak’s list of the top 10 busiest shopping days, largely thanks to people using those gift cards to search for post-holiday deals.

Lesson: Make it as easy as you can for customers to buy gift cards for your store—including on their mobile devices. A desperate last-minute shopper will turn to their phone to find gift ideas, and an e-gift card could be just what they’re looking for.

5. The shopping season starts earlier than ever

Consumer confidence soared in October—the same month many Americans started their holiday shopping. That confidence continued through the holiday season. Fewer Americans shopped either online or offline from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday in 2018 than in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. But overall holiday season spending rose, because holiday deals now start so early that many people power through at least part of their gift list before Thanksgiving rolls around.

Lesson: Don’t offend customers by putting out the Christmas decorations in October—but do start a marketing push to discreetly promote deals on popular gift items.

Image: Shutterstock

This article, “5 Retail Lessons from Holiday 2018” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Opec forecasts fall in crude demand on global imbalance

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Vigorous production outside cartel expected to overshadow demand growth

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