The Instant Drunk

You might argue with some justification, that the last thing the British need is help getting inebriated quicker, but a new invention from French and American scientists may have novelty appeal. It’s a  mouth spray that can instantaneously intoxicate a person for a few seconds without the harmful effects of alcohol. One spray from the “WAHH Quantum Sensations” device is enough for “a few seconds of intoxication,” according to its makers, French designer Philippe Starck and American scientist David Edwards. One spray amounts to 0.075ml of alcohol – the minimum quantity of micro-particles needed to trick the brain into feeling drunk.

I think this could be a big seller here in the UK. Perhaps something for an ambitious entrepreneur to investigate further.

Free Documents And Templates

When you start out in business, you’re often doing lots of things for the first time…creating forms, writing standard letters, producing contracts… that kind of thing. It can take a lot of time and effort. A trip to a site I discovered last week could cut out a lot of the work. is a site featuring thousands of free printable documents and templates.

The site is American based, so not everything will be applicable to the UK, but there’s certainly plenty that are.  Examples of what you’ll find on the site include:

* Business Cards
* Fax Cover Sheets
* Stationery
* Cash Receipts
* Time Sheets
* Invoice Templates
* Business Form Templates
* Fax Cover Sheets
* CV Templates
* Sample Resignation Letters
* Sample Cover Letters
* Thank You Letters
* Letters of Recommendation
* Contract Templates

Definitely worth a look for anyone in business.

Property Alert 10th June 2013

Welcome to today’s news and views on the overseas property market…

South-West Florida Boom?

According to the local Herald Tribune, South-West Florida is seeing something of a boom in the property market. The newspaper reports on a recent panel discussion featuring a range of real estate professionals. ‘Michael Saunders, founder and chief executive of the real estate brokerage firm that bears his name says, “We were in a dead period for a while, but now we have a market on steroids. It’s a real problem trying to find housing for those who want to work and raise a family here”.’ Interested in buying here? Let us know. We will send you a four-page report. Tell us what you want to buy here and we will make it member-specific.
Spain – Selling Tips

English-speaking estate agency HomeEspaña, with four offices on the Costa Blanca, offers some selling tips…

Be realistic about price, especially if you want a quick sale, and remember that as a private vendor, your property could be competing with bank repossessions on price. Anticipate completion to take six to eight weeks from the point of accepting an offer, however if you have a cash buyer who is happy with the paperwork, you could have a sale wrapped up within two weeks. If you are resident in the UK, it’s likely you’ll need to make a trip to the Costa Blanca, not least to be at the notary’s for completion if you haven’t granted power of attorney. Try to remain available to make a trip out to Spain if it means keeping a sale opportunity alive.

Agency fees in Spain vary, depending on the estate agency. It could be an agreed rate of commission paid on the purchase price, sometimes also by the buyer. Another typical model is an estate agency agreeing to achieve a certain price for a vendor and then adding their fees to that price when they advertise the property. For example, as a vendor wanting €100,000 from the sale of your property, you might see it advertised for €105,000-€110,000 – the difference is your agent’s fee. So long as all parties are aware of the fee structure, including the buyer, there should be no disagreements.

Usually, it’s best to include all furniture and appliances in the sale of your property, unless you are a resident on the Costa Blanca and moving into an unfurnished home nearby. Even if you are moving back to the UK, the cost of bringing things with you, and possibly having to store them, isn’t usually worth it.

Don’t waste money unnecessarily when repatriating the proceeds of your property sale to the UK. Too many vendors are not aware of the hidden costs that come with transferring money to a UK bank from a Spanish one, until it’s too late. For starters, just paying the banker’s draft from your buyer into a Spanish bank account usually incurs a charge, typically €100-€200. Once the draft has cleared, asking your Spanish bank to exchange the euros into pounds and deposit them in your UK bank account will mean you get stung again – firstly, by a transfer fee, typically around one per cent of the value of the transaction, then by a poor exchange rate.

Be mindful of any fees and capital gains tax that will be deducted from the proceeds of your sale. Even if no capital gain tax is owed, as a non-resident vendor your notary will take a 3 per cent withholding tax, which can be reclaimed using a tax representative in Spain.

If you are selling on the Costa Blanca, do check out English-speaking estate agency HomeEspaña. We can put you in touch.
Paris News

Les Calvert of echoes what we have said recently about Paris. Let’s quote Les, ‘Paris is experiencing a dent in interest levels due to high pricing of properties. Apartment prices in particular have been rising and investors believe that they are too expensive. Real estate analysts say that 25 per cent of the apartments in Paris are finding it hard to attract buyers. Sellers are unwilling to lower the prices of their properties. While buyers believe that apartments are over-priced, sellers maintain that it is fair value. Buyers are therefore becoming more selective and exploring options in other markets to get maximum value for their money.’ Result? Stalemate! We have a syndicate going over to Paris later this month to look at properties and deals etc; we can send a report to those of you who are looking to buy there.

Interview Consultant

With the job market becoming ever more competitive, candidates need to do whatever they can to secure an all-important edge. You can get someone to help with the application process, but what about the interview itself? Certainly there are plenty of books available on interview technique, but there’s no substitute for practice.

If you have experience of interviewing people, it seems there’ an opportunity to set up a service providing mock interviews. In fact you needn’t necessarily have the interview experience yourself. You could act as a co-ordinator – subcontracting the interviewing to specialists in the fields in which candidates are seeking work. So for example, you could recruit a panel of interviewers from the fields of accountancy, law, sales, marketing, engineering, retail etc who would be paid a fee to put your customers through a mock interview.

This is a service which could be set up without a great deal of outlay, and with minimal space requirements. All you’d need is a small office.

An Opportunity In Dog Sh…

There can be few more annoying things than realising you just stepped in a steaming pile of dog muck and it’s going to take you half an hour with a sharp stick to return your ridge-soled trainers to their former glory. I was therefore interested to hear of a company called Streetkleen based in Wales. The company have developed a system which I don’t really understand, for converting dog waste into biogas. I have no idea how viable this is as a business, but there’s no shortage of raw material so it could be worth investigating.

Any business that converts waste products into something useful has to be commended and will receive a sympathetic hearing from both potential investors and customers. Is this eco-friendly trend something you might be able to cash in on.

Publicity Power

The power of publicity was brought home to me about 15 years ago when a national newspaper ran an article about a book I’d just published.  The gist of the article was that the book was a disgrace and should be banned. I steeled myself for the hate mail, but it never arrived. There were just two letters of complaint, but they were accompanied by several hundred orders for the book!  Since then, I’ve experienced similar outcomes time and time again. It’s because publicity can be so lucrative that public relations agencies are able to make substantial profits. The aim of a PR agency is to get positive publicity for its clients across as much relevant media as possible.

The great thing about PR is that there are very few barriers to entry.  If you have a laptop, broadband and a phone, you already have everything you need. Clearly, you also need to learn about the business, but it’s not something that’s beyond anyone of average intelligence.

If this field interests you, it’s time to do some research. There are literally hundreds of books on the subject, so try a search in Amazon. Many agencies specialise in particular fields or markets and this would be a good place to start. Look at your own interests, experience and expertise. Could there be an opening for someone specialising in PR to companies operating in one or more of those fields?