Business Plan – Legal and Financial Aspects


For a business to run smoothly and have security for its future, a business leader needs to cover all the financial and legal aspects involved in running a business. Without having an understanding of this, the business will surely fail. These areas help protect the company and its employees as well as its future success in a sense of knowing what areas it needs to improve on financially as well as areas on legal matters that will not be an issue within the business. To cover all these I shall first describe and explain the different types of businesses, such as a sole trader, partnership and a limited company and go on to explain their different legal aspects as well as the legal aspects in general, things like; contracts,  human rights, trademarks and employment laws.

Sole Trader

A sole trader is a person who sets up and owns their own business. They may have other people working for them but they will always be the owner. So success all depends on the owner himself and depending on his abilities the progression of the business or the downfall of the business from irrational decisions. A benefit of being a sole trader is that after all tax has been deducted, what’s left is entitled to the owner. the benefit of having full control over business is that decision making is easier and quicker and decisions don’t need to be discussed like in a partnership or limited company with other co-owners. However this could also be seen as a downside because decisions are only made by the owner it could be difficult to make the right decision and there is nobody else to help with working through tough decisions.

The major setback of being a sole trader is the fact that the owner has unlimited liability which means that the law sees the owner and the business as one, this suggests that if the business should go into debt, the owner will be liable towards paying those debts back. Also if a customer sues the business, they sue the owner. A lot more input is needed from the owner as it is one person and the workload of the owner cannot be shared like in a partnership.The positive legal aspect of a sole trader is that all the info is kept private and so the owner can keep the business very personalised and push innovation, however once business is no longer able to thrive from the owner from causes uncontrollable such as death, the business ceases to continue.

Partnership

A partnership is a company owned and run by two or more people. There are two different types of partnerships; general partnerships and limited partnerships. In a general partnership, the partners manage the company and take on the responsibility for the partnership’s debts and other obligations. A limited partnership has both general and limited partners. The general partners own and operate the business and assume liability for the partnership, while the limited partners serve as investors only; they have no control over the company and are not subject to the same liabilities as the general partners. limited partnerships are generally not the best choice for a new business because of all the required filings and administrative complexities. Partners are able to share the investment and success as well as the failure of the business. A major advantage of a partnership  is the tax “treatment”, this means a partnership doesn’t pay tax on its income but “passes through” any profits or losses to the individual partners.

Personal liability is a major concern in a general partnership. Like sole traders, partners are personally liable for the partnerships obligations and debts therefore each partner has the responsibility to act on behalf of the partnership. Partnerships are generally more expensive to set up and run because they require more legal and accounting services. Therefore a partnership agreement should be drawn up to show how business decisions should be made, how disputes should be settled  and how to resolve a buyout. The agreement should address the purpose of the business and authority and responsibility of the partners.

Limited Company

A limited company is when an organisation is set up in order to run the business. It is responsible in its own right for everything it does and its finances are seen as separate from the finances of the owners, suggesting it has limited liability. Any profit a limited company makes is owned by the company after it pays corporation tax.

Every limited company has “members”, these people or organisations own shares in the company. Shares are seen as a percentage of the rights to the company. Directors are responsible for running the company and the shareholders responsibility’s for the companies financial liabilities are limited to the value of shares they own.

A unique aspect of a group of people working together is called a Co-operative. These businesses come together to meet common needs and aspirations of its members, sharing ownership and making decision making based in democracy. They are not about making big profits for its shareholders but instead their goals are to create value for its customers. This is what gives it its unique characteristic as a business.

Limited Liability

This is a type of liability that does not exceed the amount invested in a partnership or limited company. It has a big advantage with investing in publicly listed companies. While a shareholder can participate wholly in the growth of a company, the shareholders liability is restricted to amount invested within the business. In a partnership, the limited partners have limited liability while the general partners have unlimited liability. The limited liability feature protects the investors personal assets from the risk of being in debt to any creditors in case the company becomes insolvent.

In the context of a private company, incorporation can provide its owners with limited liability, since an incorporated company is treated as a separate and independent legal entity. Limited liability is especially desirable when dealing in industries that can be subject to massive losses, such as insurance.

Memorandum of Association

This is the document that governs the relationship between the company and the outside. It is one of the documents required to incorporate a company in the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and is also used in many of the common law jurisdictions of the Commonwealth.

It is basically a statement that the subscribers wish to form a company, have agreed to become members and, in the case of a company that is to have a share capital, to take at least one share each.

When considering which legal status a business owner wants his/her business to be, the next thing to consider, which is extremely important, is the legal aspects of a business. Without these the business would be seen as illegal and not compliant to laws of the country.

Health & Safety

This is a crucial area of any business. A business needs to ensure they abide by the local health and safety regulations. They are in place not only to protect customers but also safeguard the business against any lawsuits or court actions. If five or more members of staff are employed the business must have a drawn up health and safety policy in place. Staff need to be trained in health and safety duties, and the business would be responsible for any effect it may have on the health and safety of employees and members of the public.

A business must have basic requirements for minimising the risk of fires. These include:

  • Fire resistant doors and walls.
  • Fire alarms
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Staff training

The business must ensure premises meets standards set by the regulations of the country and fire risk assessments must be carried out, the assignment should incorporate:

  • Identification of potential fire hazards
  • Identify any people who may be at a particular risk.
  • Evaluate existing risks and take necessary stops to remove or reduce risk.
  • Draw up an emergency plan that staff are familiar with
  • Review assessment regularly, particularly of any changes increase risk.

Employment law and age

This is necessary for a business to ensure compliance of age and employment related laws applicable to the type of business. It is the body of law that governs the relationship between employer and employee. It is a key component of the business, therefore it is the employment rights that are bestowed on the employer.

It amounts to a code of conduct by which employers must abide by and acts to protect workers against various ways of discrimination. It also dictates when an employer is justified to dismiss an employee. Failure to abide by employment law by a company could result in serious repercussions.

Specialised employment solicitors with the knowledge of employment law will be called to represent both sides of an employment tribunal if the need of a tribunal ever happened.

Planning Permission

This is permission to be allowed to build on land or change the use of land or building/s. The occupier of any land or building will need a title to that land or building, this represents ownership , but will also need a planning title. Certain types of operation such as routine maintenance of an existing building are specifically excluded from the definition of development.

Solicitor and Accountant

A solicitor is a lawyer who traditionally deals with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in court

An accountant is a practitioner of accounting, which is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers make decisions about allocating resources.

Legal Liabilities

Legal liability is a term applied to being legally responsible for a situation,and has a contractual agreement involved. A business has to be legally responsible for any situation, especially if terms of the contract is not fulfilled. It is the companies obligation to act responsibly or face compensatory penalties.

Insurance

This is the protection of the company from any risks that the company might face. Its like normal car or house insurance except that its insuring your company. This helps secure growth and progression of the business and that any set backs wont keep the business from being unable to succeed.

Most people are familiar with insurance for their personal belongings, homes and cars. This coverage protects a person financially in case of an accident or disaster to their belongings, homes or cars. We are familiar with these types of insurance because it is natural for most people to realize that they would be unable to replace their home tomorrow if there was a fire or to replace their car if there was an accident.

The same principle applies to business insurance. The principle is one of risk. There are risks that are so destructive that it makes sense to plan ahead and manage the risk, sometimes these risks may never happen , but it is always good to have a financial plan in case they do happen. In our personal lives these risks are often more easily foreseeable.

For our businesses, however, a company might not consider risk or believe that the risks cannot be managed and so turn a blind eye hoping that nothing happens. They forget that if the business is not operating, there is no cash flow. Business insurance involves spreading and managing the risk among many business owners. Insurance companies take in  payments from many covered businesses, invest those payments, and create a pool of money to pay out to a business if that business has a covered loss. Insurers have developed mathematical models to determine what chance there is of a risk occurring and what premiums the insurer must charge to stay in business and make a profit. Insurers have also developed around eight to nine general categories of losses that seem to happen with more frequency. The insurers developed particular policies to address those types of losses.

Software license 

This is a legal instrument governing the use or redistribution of software. A typical software license grants a user permission to use one or more copies of software in ways where such use would be seen as copyright infringement of the software. They typically vontain provisions which allocate liability and responsibility between the parties entering into the agreement.

IP strategy

This is the business game-plan. It generally should not be complicated and should be something for the company to turn to when planning. From a legal perspective, there are four types of intellectual property. The four legally-defined categories of intellectual property are:

  1. Patents; when the company registers the invention or idea with the government. The company would gain the legal right to exclude anyone else from manufacturing or marketing it. Patents cover tangible things. They can also be registered in foreign countries, to help keep international competitors from finding out what the company is doing. Once you hold a patent, others can apply to license your product. Patents can last for 20 years.
  2. Trademarks; A trademark is a name, phrase, sound or symbol used in association with services or products. It often connects a brand with a level of quality on which companies build a reputation. Trademark protection lasts for 10 years after registration and can be renewed.
  3. Copyrights; Copyright laws protect written or artistic expressions such as – novels, poems, songs or movies. A copyright protects the expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. The owner of a copyrighted work has the right to reproduce it, to make derivative works from it, like movies based on a books, or to sell, perform or display the work to the public. The material doesn’t need to be registered to hold a copyright, but registration would be important if the company decides to sue for copyright infringement. A copyright lasts for the life of the author plus another 50 years.
  4. Trade secrets; A formula, pattern, or compilation of data that gives the user an advantage over competitors can be seen as a trade secret. To protect the secret, a business must prove that it adds value to the company, that it is actually  a secret and that it benefits the company in some way, and that appropriate measures have been taken within the company to safeguard the secret, such as restricting knowledge to a select handful of executives. Coca-Cola, for example, has managed to keep its formula under wraps for more than 117 years.

But IP can also be something broader and less tangible than these four protected classes: it can simply be an idea. If I have a eureka moment during my morning shower and then apply my new idea to my business, that could also be seen as intellectual property too.

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Business Plan – Skills and Resources needed for running a Business

To be able to run a business is not easy and many skills and resources are required to set up, manage and expand a successful business. The most important thing about wanting to run a business is full commitment. Being able to believe that your product or service will succeed and to have consistency with your business idea. My business Idea is to be an events promoter/DJ and to have great success in my business I will need to know all the skills and resources needed for putting up and running a successful event.

Obstacles must not stand in your way and it is useful to be tenacious and be able to cleverly get around any obstacles without damaging any progress made within the business. For example a supply truck delivering materials needed for the product breaks down or is involved in an accident, a good business manager will think on his/her feet and suggest an idea of making a new delivery while recovering any lost time. This is being able to improvise under stressful circumstances. I definitely would have to have immense amount of determination and drive to not let any failures keep me down and just keep my head high and learn from mistakes so I know what to do better the next time i attempt to host an event.

Being a business manager means communicating with many different groups of people, so good communication skills is vital for maintaining the success of a business, that means having a friendly and confident attitude towards people and being able to negotiate without putting any stress on your working relations. This also includes being able to manage any staff correctly without harming their working conditions such as a clean and healthy work environment compared to a broken down workspace where nobody feels comfortable working in. So having good leadership skills is useful in leading a constructive workforce towards success, that means no workers are slacking in their jobs, punctuality and a general positive attitude around the workplace.  All this leads to the final product or service being at the best quality possible. Event promotion is surrounded by networking and communicating with people, so most of my time i would need to be out there promoting my events, pushing for exposure and attention towards my service. I would need to develop good working relations with suppliers such as sound technicians or Venue owners to make sure i have the best opportunities to have quality event nights.

Good marketing and promotional skills is probably the second most important thing contributing to a successful business, because without the public or selected target marking having knowledge of your business, no growth will ever come to the business due to no consumers buying in to the product or service. This means a good leader will have a successful marketing team running top quality promotions to create the greatest awareness in the product or service. A good promotion will create awareness, interest, desire and action. Such as with NIKE’s marketing campaign “JUST DO IT” it was short and sweet, yet encapsulated everything people felt when they were exercising. It creating Attention for the product, Interest in the product, a desire to be like the product was saying and the want to take Action. This is a key feature in being a promoter and having a good marketing campaign is vital in creating a unique selling point in event nights. My idea is headed towards being ambiguous as to create curiosity within my target market. Knowing my target market is important so i know exactly how to market my events

Good Admin skills is a very much overlooked necessity for a good business manager. This is because they feel they could get others to do this job. Yes that is possible, however when starting out one should be solely focused on getting the business up and running before thinking of expanding. Therefore being able to administer the business in a sense of correct filing as well as being correct with accounts is a great aspect in making sure the business is running smoothly and wont encounter any overlooked problems caused by incorrect maths or filing. I would need to keep organised with my contacts and budgeting strategies so I do not go over my budget spending more than I should ion acts or bigger venues. I would need to learn what is best for my budget.

One of the best qualities a business manager should have is creativity and to be intuitive. These skills are vital for always staying ahead of the competition, to be able to be developing and thinking of new ways and ideas of always bringing something new to the field. Such as the new iPhone ability to detect if it is falling so it braces for impact without the phone taking any damage, it uses vibration in the phone to keep it from falling on its front and cracking the screen. that is the mos intuitive design for modern phone technology, especially with all phones being touch screen nowadays.  Being creative and intuitive with promoting events is extremely important especially if I would like to keep my target market interested in what I’m doing, I would need to always have something unique or different about my events and not just have them as a normal club night.

Time management is effective and extremely powerful in order of running a tight business. keeping things organised and up to date is extremely efficient in the sense of pushing forward and growing as a business. Making sure the managers and employees are always on top of schedule or even ahead of it. Training employees in time management will never be a waste of time or money, especially if it increases the strength of the business. I would need to keep in mind that there is a time and place for everything and being able to manage my time correctly will benefit the smooth running of the event. Making sure the sound and décor get to the club on time so set up can run smoothly without any setbacks, and if there are any setbacks I would have enough time to think of a way of getting around it.

A final great quality of a good business manager is being able to negotiate. If you cant negotiate with your business partners then the business has a slim chance of succeeding or having the business run and expand in the way you want it to. Being able to negotiate deals and other sorts of business transactions will greatly benefit the company, such as being able to negotiate longer hours without an increase in pay for employees, or negotiating a cheaper price for materials. All these things have a small but immense impact on the business. Being able to negotiate great deals with club owners and also artist will help towards maintaining a sensible budget for the event, and knowing how to communicate and negotiate with people will ensure benefits for myself and my events.

The most crucial resource needed to run a business is Capital. without capital nothing can really be done and the business idea, will remain an idea. Capital is money needed to get the business off the ground and actually running, such as paying for facilities or suppliers. Capital is gained mainly from investors who see your business as an opportunity to make back the money and more, investors will only invest if they see your business idea will actually work so to get investors to invest in the business takes time. My main investors would definitely have to be sponsors, this will help weigh out the budgets for expenses and also help gain my events great exposure to the public.

If you don’t have a location, how do you expect any work to to start happening. That is why an ideal location is second of importance of resources needed to run a business. the location should be ideal in a sense that it is an affordable space that does not take up too much of the budget making it easy to budget the money to other important areas such as the maintaining of quality staff. I’ve been to many festivals and i have an understanding that space is a necessity for events, so I would need to be wise about my location and make sure its easily accessible to my target market, that is, it would need to be close and easy to find.

Having good and reliable contacts is a great resource and a resource that will be greatly beneficial towards business expansion and success. The contacts might just be a reliable supplier that will get the supplies there on time and make sure they are up to standard supplies enabling the business to continue quality production. Or a good contact might be able to help with finding an ideal location or help with making sure the target market and marketing is more than successful with AIDA.

Staff is a real handy resource in creating a quicker production, making sure you have competent and trained staff is also a good resource of having and its a quality skill knowing when or if the staff need any training. Training of staff is never a waste of money because in the end you would want more output for less or equal input. This is something all businesses strive for.

Suppliers could range from a supply aspect as in farms or miners. Very primary resource type of suppliers, to an actual location supplier, allowing you to use the venue as a medium for the business, with things such as events and live performances.

Friends are family are one of the best resources to have especially with them giving you the support needed to continue with the business venture. They could also act as great contacts by knowing people that could be beneficial in helping the business. But mainly having their support is very important and they are always handy having around if they are able to help out in any area they seem fit to handle. My friends and family give me great support in going for my dreams and achieving success. Without them i would not have the amount of drive and motivation to keep on pushing towards my goals.

Studio Recording Techniques – Mixing Desks

Mixers 

Mixing Desks come in a wide variety of sizes, with a range of facilities. There are many different configurations such as; a common split console or multi-track in-line desks, knob-per-function or assignable control surfaces and digitally controlled analogue or true all digital board.

Basics

All mixers share broad outlines of a common signal path design. A mixer combines signals from a number of sound sources, processes them to produce an acceptable balance and quality sound, and passes the resulting mix on to a recorder, broadcast chain or PA system. Most mixers are multiple mixers because they provide more than once combined signal. A mixer requires a number of input channels, each acceptable of handling signal at either microphone or line levels with facilities to adjust their levels and equalisation. It may generate extra, separately controlled, mixes for effects units, fold-back or cue feeds and multi-track recorders. The desk must provide a means of listening to and metering individual channels so that the complete master mix or alternative output mixes can be adjusted correctly and any problems identified and fixed.

Most desks have a similar signal path: The Input signal from Mic or Line source passes through the Mic Amp or Line Buffer stage, where the signal level is optimised for headroom and noise performance, then passes through the equaliser before reaching the channel fader. Auxiliary outputs will usually be immediately before or after the fader and there may also be insert points where the signal can be extracted from the desk, processed externally and then returned to continue through the desk.

Signals are routed to available outputs or groups. A group is where a signal may pass through an additional equaliser stage in the groups before reaching the fader and further routing to the main desk outputs. Groups are provided to make it easier to control a large number of signals or to allow a single signal processor affect a collection of channel signals simultaneously.

Inputs

The first element in a signal path is a microphone amplifier and general input stage. the design of a mic preamp defines the sound character of the entire desk, as any quality loss at this stage can never be regained. The Mic amp must provide a lot of signal gain with absolute minimum background noise, it must have high headroom so that unexpected peaks do not cause overloads, it must preserve every subtle nuance of the waveform captured by the microphone with a wide dynamic range.

High quality microphones are generally of the electrostatic variety and these need a power source to polarise their capsules and power their internal pre-amps. The mixer provides this in the form of “Phantom-Power”, independently switchable from each channel. Mic pre-amp designs usually have a wide gain range so that a sensible signal level can be obtained. Provided in the form of a switched course-gain control (5dB – 10dB) and a separate, continuously variable fire trim. Cheaper desks economise with a single variable control which covers the entire gain range. For maximum flexibility, an input stage with up to 70dB of fain is desirable. To avoid overloading the microphone input stage of the desk there is a switch to insert a “Pad” or attenuator ahead of the pre-amp reducing signal strength by 30dB, this is used for when placing mic near loud noise, i.e. a kickdrum.

The input stage often includes a switch to invert polarity of the input signal “Phase Reverse”. This is useful when combining outputs of several microphones all of which are capturing a common signal source. The “Phase Reverse” switch is provided , allowing the operator to control how the outputs of different microphones add to or cancel out each other.

Most desks include a means of selecting microphone or line-level inputs to desk channels.  Expensive desks provide separate gain controls for the microphone and line inputs. Cheap desks merely have a selection switch. When setting input gain on a channel, it is important to deselect any equalisation and have the channel fader set to 0dB, before adjusting the gain to bring the second source to an appropriate level. If this is not done the input stage won’t be operating under ideal conditions and will suffer from reduced headroom or an increased noise floor.

Auxiliary Sends

A number of auxiliary outputs from a channel will depend on the intended use of the desk, but normally ranges between one and eight. Sends may be switched to derive their signals from “Pre” or “Post” the channel fader, so that the output signal level will be either independent or dependant on the position of the fader. Usually “Pre-Fader” auxiliary sends are taken from a point after the channel equaliser. Some desks have an option to take it from a point before the equaliser. “Pre-EQ” feeds might be better for foldback purposes so that adjusting EQ doesn’t rick creating feedback, where as “Post-EQ” feeds would be better for effects or headfone cue signals.

Pre-Fader seeds are used for foldback or cue signals so that opening and closing the channel faders won’t affect the performers’ monitoring. Post-Fader sends are normally used for house PA in theatrical and broadcast situations, so audience only hears sources when fades are up,and also for most types of signal processing, particularly “artificial Reverb”. Post-Fader auxiliary sends are crucial if a single effects processor is handling the contributions from a number of channels, because when a channel fader is closed its direct contribution to the output is removed, as is its send to the effects unit, If pre-fader is used, then the channel will still be contributing to the effects send so when the channel fader is closed the effects will continue to be heard through the effects return.

Busses

In short, a bus is a fader with its own dedicated output, or said differently a bus is a major pathway from all channels to a single fader connected to an output. Everything going to that fader can be taken out of the mixer and can be sent to another piece or rack of gear. The signal can also be brought back in to the mixer on spare channels. On mixers with busses, there are routing buttons on each channel that lets you route the whole signal to one of the busses. The Main bus is often called the L/R bus. Other busses are often grouped in pairs. There may also be another switch that lets you route these bus faders to the Master fader.

Typical uses of busses are to send a track or groups of tracks to a digital multitrack, or to a soundcard or audio interface. Yet one can also be very creative with them, such as sending them to samplers, grooveboxs with analog inputs, surround encoders, separate compressors and more. Some busses may have inserts. These are nice as they let one to return the external signal back to the mixer without eating up more channels.

Routing

The output from one channel has to be combined with that from other channels. In simple desks all channels may be permanently routed to a master stereo output, but more typically channels are routed through groups and from there to the main outputs. Depending on a role of a desk, there may be anything from 2-48 groups with varying levels of sophistication in terms of additional equalisers and auxiliary sends. Groups are usually allocated in pairs with channel pan-pot providing the means of restricting signal to a single group and image positioning within a pair of restricting signal to a single group, and image positioning within a pair of groups for stereo working.

It is always better to use dedicated stereo channels for a stereo source rather than a pair of mono channels panned left and right because channel gains, fader positions and equaliser setting must be matched between to sides of a stereo signal. Unused channels should not be left routed to groups or main outputs as this often degrades the noise performance of the mixing stages.

Structure

Most general purpose mixers have a very simple structure where input channels are routed to a small number of groups and from there to main outputs. This simple structure becomes complicated if the desk is intended to work in conjunction with a multi-track recorder, particularly if many tracks are involved. In the case of multi-track mixers, the normal convention is to feed each tape track from its own group, allowing multiple channels to feed a single track. 24, 32 or even 48 groups may be needed.

A monitor section is actually another complete mixer so the structure of the desk becomes: Input channels-groups-Tape Monitor Channels- Stereo Output. This kind of structure goes under the name “Split-Console”, because the recording input and monitoring functions of the desks are entirely separate.

In-Line arrangements, more complex in concept but more flexible and requires less physical space. Channel sections become input/output modules because each strip incorporates all functions for the channel inputs, group outputs and monitor return corresponding to the relevant strip number. During a mix down from tape, unused channel paths can be used to provide inputs for sequenced keyboard or returns for effects. Extending the idea of re-using redundant hits of the desk during mix-down. Group routing facilities can also be re-used as extra post fade auxiliary sends. The down side to an In-Line concept is it is easy to become confused about the signal path of a particular send source unless meticulous attention to labelling and logical thought process is used.

Control Surfaces

Each operational control or a mixer has its own control knob. The obvious role is to alter a particular signal parameter, such as level or turnover frequency in an equaliser and there are two parts to this, each knob provides direct access to a specific function but on the end of the control shaft is the actual device that changes the intended parameter so a vital role is to act as memory.

One or more control knobs have been allocated to every channel allowing a specific parameter to be allocated to these knobs. Ideally, a well- designed system has the ultimate in control ergonomics, the benefits of total Automation, single-operator control of ridiculously large number of channels and the high-quality performance of analogue electronics.