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  • Why are work meetings a waste of time? Here's an insight ...

    I was training a team of people on Time Management the other day and I mentioned that a large percentage of our work days (during a year) are consumed by meetings which are out of our control. People in the room thought that especially in small to medium companies this is very typical. We moved on to discuss how meetings can and cannot be productive. Out of the discussion, we all agreed that meetings should have a purpose to accomplish.
    Meetings should improve productivity, teamwork, communication, attitude, motivation and the overall wellbeing feeling, at work. In my experience, leaders and managers allocate almost half of their daily work hours in preparing and holding meetings, which does not leave much time for actually getting things done.

    So, why are the majority of meetings unproductive?

    1. Lack of Agenda

    Prior to the initiation of any meeting, make sure that everyone is on the same page. Clarify the meeting’s agenda and the purpose it is trying to serve. Tell your team what the main objective of getting together is, and determine how the meeting will progress. In case you notice that your meetings are taking much longer than what was initially estimated, they probably lack a clear purpose.


    2. Poor Moderation Skills

    If you are aware that a specific member of your team knows more about a topic of discussion than you do, let them lead that part of the meeting to keep things moving quickly. It saves time, while keeping your team alert and ready to speak.


    3. Emotional Reasons

    Often employees feel frustrated when they cannot express themselves freely. Frustration arises when they have things to say but need to hold back because they are afraid of stepping on each other's toes. Prevent this frustration by establishing a code of conduct. Set a time limit on the meeting and allow specific portions of time for each employee to speak. Don't let politeness interfere with getting things done.


    4. Inviting the wrong people

    When people lose attention by sneaking emails on their smartphones rather than actively taking part in the meeting, it is a strong signal that the content of the meeting is not correct. If you have come to realise that you are only fully engaging one or two employees at a time while everyone else checks their phone or daydreams, then you're wasting time.


    5. No Follow-up

    Follow-up is key to successful meetings, especially if you have assigned tasks and deliverables. Keep track of the end result, and don't rely on just your own thoughts. Get a sense of whether or not your team thinks the purpose you set out to achieve at the beginning was actually fulfilled. Be open to suggestions on how future meetings could be improved.


    6. Boredom

    Repetitive meetings can make people feel tired and often overwhelmed. By shifting between various meeting locations, you prevent boredom and increase participation and productivity. Often a simple change of scenery can bring back the good energy of the team, which leads to good ideas. Ask your team if they enjoyed the change of scenery. If they enjoyed it but didn't find it constructive, try something else the next time.

    --

    About the author:


    Andrie Penta is a Soft Skills Trainer and Marketing Consultant with over 10 years of hands-on experience. In 2013, Andrie was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, through a European Commission initiative, she was assigned the role of a Business Mentor. In 2011, she was chosen to represent Cyprus at the "Women in Leadership" mission in the USA. In 2010, Andrie was nominated by the European Commission, as "Female Ambassador Entrepreneur for Europe".  Andrie is a Certified Trainer by the Cyprus Human Resource Development Authority.


    andrie@penta.com.cy
    +357-99360629
  • Andrie Penta looks to see if this is true.

    I don't care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right”, was the PR phenomenon until recently. I can clearly recall people telling me, “any advertising is good advertising” and “there is no such thing as bad publicity” - everything believable until you get into the PR game.
    From a theoretical side of view, as long as people are talking about you, it’s a good thing, simply because your name is on the top of people’s minds, keeping you relevant. In some cases, this is true and acceptable, but what happens in the cases of well-known brands such as BP? I am sure they did not enjoy being on top of peoples’ minds for the worst oil spill in US history. The same goes for Toyota, which had to recall faulty and dangerous vehicles and bear a 10% sales drop.

    There are numerous examples of people and brands that have been hugely affected by bad publicity, therefore the claim that no publicity can do harm is clearly open to question.

    While all of the brands I mentioned can and likely will eventually recover, the bad publicity they’ve received has done some serious damage for at least the short term and maybe longer.

    Therefore, I would feel more comfortable in claiming that all publicity is good if it is intelligent and well-targeted.

    There are businesses that aim for publicity of any sort and prepare wrong material for the wrong audience. They share valuable content in exchange for a tiny credit on an obscure website in the often unrealistic hope that this effort will somehow extend their reach and strengthen their brand presence.

    In some cases, it does. If you're promoting the grand opening of Grandma's Italian Restaurant, you want to spread the word in the local community far and wide, so you send a press release to every nearby media outlet. Or, if you've just written a book about general business management practices, you offer business Web portals the opportunity to excerpt from your book. In most situations, however, a targeted approach is more effective.

    Blanketing the masses with your press releases, pitches and content has too many potential drawbacks. Here are four:

    1. Promoting your news to those who aren't likely to ever become your clients or customers is a waste of time and financial resources.

    2. Poor PR and content placement runs the risk of driving traffic away from your own website.

    3. If the outlet where your news or content appears has a less than stellar reputation or is packed with cheap pay-per-click ads and unedited or unfocused content, being associated with it can harm your reputation and brand.

    4. Giving away valuable content may benefit the recipient more than it benefits your business or brand. By contrast, posting content on your own site may be a better way to use and disseminate it.

    The most effective use of your public relations and content marketing dollar is to target your appeals to editors, reporters, bloggers and other influencers who have previously shown an interest in covering news or ideas you write. You might also focus on outlets whose audiences care about companies like yours or who may like your products and services.

    Not only is there bad publicity but there are a lot of nebulous media outlets that will print and promote anything. In those instances, your message is wasted on an audience that doesn't care about you or your news. Worse yet is when those who are interested conduct a search for information about your business or related news, they're pointed to a media outlet that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with you. This deflects readers away from your site and devalues your news and brand.

    There's an old saying that goes something like this:  "All publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right."  Frankly, as a marketing professional, I would pretty much agree with that.  Publicity means visibility, which generates awareness that could lead to interest, which combined with the credibility that earned media endows, could very easily lead to sampling or a decision to buy.

    Even if there is a small glitch in the system, say for example that the name of your product, service, or a web site is misspelled in the story, then that in itself may be an opportunity for more press, and even more visibility, which only reinforces the original piece.

    But what about the bad stuff - negative publicity?  Isn't that the stuff that closes restaurants, keeps people from eating beef, and drives political candidates from public office?  Well, yes it is, but it doesn't necessarily have to be.  I look at negative publicity as an opportunity, which is how I want all my clients to look at it.  The public loves a good comeback story, and is usually willing to give an errant underdog a second (or third or fourth or--you get the idea) chance, but only if the problem is handled correctly. In that case, it can mean a media bonanza!

    Remember that when you receive negative publicity, you can do something about the situation that caused the bad press in the first place, and what you do becomes newsworthy.  You can plead ignorance if you have to, apologise, ask forgiveness, and pledge to redeem yourself or whatever needs fixing in the situation. The public is amazingly forgiving, as long as you are sincere in your efforts to right whatever wrongs are attributed to you.  And in doing so, you may even take advantage of that opportunity to let the world know a little about you, your story, your struggles, and the challenges you've faced as an entrepreneur.

    Negative allegations can be refuted, disputed, or admitted, all of which gets you media attention.  But to get really positive media attention (turning that media frown upside down, if you will), your story must have a positive, results-oriented spin.  If you (and your attorney) believe you have been slandered, then you could sue.  You could bring experts of impeccable credibility to weigh in on your behalf.  Of course, if the allegations or bad press is true (or at least based on truth), you could use the opportunity of media attention to admit it, and pledge to rectify the error.  You might even get some attention for continuing to champion the cause (cleanliness, organic beef, or marital fidelity) that brought you to grief originally.

    The positive result of any publicity is name recognition, which drives interest (and therefore sales), even if the motive is purely schadenfreude.  So don't fret too much about negative publicity, because no matter how bad it looks, you can use it as an opportunity to get a public platform for yourself and your business.  Which means at the end of the day, virtually any publicity is good publicity.

    Article originally posted on LinkedIn

    --

    About the author:

    Andrie Penta is a Soft Skills Trainer and Marketing Consultant with over 10 years of hands-on experience. In 2013, Andrie was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, through a European Commission initiative, she was assigned the role of a Business Mentor. In 2011, she was chosen to represent Cyprus at the "Women in Leadership" mission in the USA. In 2010, Andrie was nominated by the European Commission, as "Female Ambassador Entrepreneur for Europe".  Andrie is a Certified Trainer by the Cyprus Human Resource Development Authority.

    andrie@penta.com.cy

    +357-99360629

  • Recent changes to Cyprus Companies Law and to the Auditors and Statutory audits of annual and consolidated accounts law

    On 23 September 2016, a number of amendments to the Cyprus Companies Law and to the Auditors and Statutory Audits of Annual and Consolidated Accounts Law were published in the national gazette.

    All changes are effective for period beginning on or after 1 January 2016 and are summarised below.

    COMPANIES LAW

    The Companies Law was amended by Law 97(I) and the provisions of the Amending Law are the result of the transposition of the EU Accounting Directive (2013/34/EU) into domestic law.

    Companies subject to statutory audits

    From 2016 onwards all companies in Cyprus, including small/dormant companies, are subject to statutory audit and the exception that existed previously in the Law has now been abolished.

    Categories of companies

    Criteria for categorising companies according to their size have been established and are summarised below.

    Small Companies

    Small companies are defined as being the companies which as of their reporting date do not exceed at least two of the following three criteria:

    - Total gross assets: €4 million
    - Net Turnover: €8 million
    - Average number of employees during the financial year: less than 50

    Medium-sized companies


    Medium-sized companies are defined as being the companies which as of their reporting date, do not exceed at least two of the following three criteria:



    - Total gross assets: €20 million


    - Net Turnover: €40 million


    - Average number of employees during the financial year: less than 250


    Large companies



    Large companies are defined as being the companies which as of their reporting date, exceed at least two of the following three criteria:



    - Total gross assets: €20 million


    - Net Turnover: €40 million


    - Average number of employees during the financial year: more than 250


    Note that ‘Net Turnover’ is defined as amounts derived from the sale/provision of products/services after deducting returns/rebates and VAT.



    Categories of Groups



    Criteria for defining categories of groups have also been established which are again based on the above-mentioned criteria for categories of companies.  For example, small sized groups are the groups which on a consolidated basis do not exceed the limits of at least two of the three criteria of small size companies as at the balance sheet date of the parent company.  Medium sized groups and large groups are also determined along the same lines using the criteria of medium-sized and large companies respectively.



    A number of consolidation adjustments are listed in the amended Law which are permissible not to apply for the purposes of calculating the above mentioned limits and include (1) Netting-off of the carrying value of the share capital of the group entities and the percentage of the share capital of the subsidiaries participating in the group against the percentage of their Net Assets and (2) offsetting of intercompany assets and liabilities, intercompany revenues and expenses, and unrealised profits/losses on intercompany transactions.  In cases where these are not applied the limits for the above-mentioned criteria shall be increased by 20%.



    Exemption from consolidation



    Prior to the Amended Law, the exemption to prepare consolidated financial statements was applied only to small-sized groups.  With the Amended Law the exemption has been extended to apply also to medium-sized groups as defined above.  This exemption will not apply if any of the affiliated companies is a public-interest entity in which case consolidated financial statements must be prepared irrespective of the size of the Group.



    Management Report



    The revised Law introduced the term ‘Management Report’ to replace the term ‘Board of Directors Report’.  Most of the provisions relating to the content of this report have remained the same.  The revised Law mentions all new and amended provisions in detail.



    The most significant change is that as per the revised Law small and medium-sized companies are exempted from preparing a management report, provided that certain criteria are met.



    Other provisions


    The revised Law also includes additional disclosures to be included in the financial statements of medium and large sized companies.  Examples include specific disclosures for staff costs, audit fees, number of employees, and details about the registered office.



    Furthermore, other relevant provisions have been added in the revised Law which impact the corporate governance statement that is required to be included in the Management Report of companies whose shares are listed on the stock exchange of any EU member state.




    AUDITORS AND STATUTORY AUDITS OF ANNUAL AND CONSOLIDATED ACCOUNTS LAW


    Specific amendments to the auditor’s report have also been incorporated in the revised Law which are mainly the result of the specific provisions as mentioned in the changes of the Companies Law.


    Maria Nicolaou (FCCA, MA, BA)


    Audit Manager

  • There have been some recent changes to property tax and fees and Eurofast Taxand Cyprus explain them to us

    Despite global market challenges, the Cyprus real estate market has remained attractive to foreign investors. A number of legislative changes were introduced during 2015 and 2016, further adding to this attraction, including the reduction -and in some cases the abolition- of transfer fees as well as reduction of immovable property taxes which are described below.

    Immovable Property Tax

    Every owner is liable for the payment of immovable property tax for all immovable properties situated in Cyprus and registered in the owner’s name on 1 January of each year. The value of the immovable property is deemed to be the price based on the valuation on 1 January 1980.

    On 14 July 2016, the Cyprus Parliament agreed that immovable property tax for 2016 will be based on 1980 values but reduced by 75% of the amount paid last year (2015). Further, it was decided that the immovable property tax will be abolished in 2017.

    The immovable property tax for 2016 will be calculated at 25% of the price of the property based on the valuations of 1980. The deadline for payment of the 2016 tax has been set at 31 October 2016.  Late payments made between 1 November and 31 December 2016 will be calculated using an increased value of 27.5% of the 1980 valuations.

    Taxpayers who fail to pay before 31 December 2016 will be subject to an additional 10% monetary penalty on the unpaid tax calculated on 31 December 2016.

    The property tax rates to be used for calculating the 2016 immovable property tax are as follows:

    Value of Property - as of 1/1/1980

    €1 to €40,000 - would be charged at 6%
    €40,001 to €120,000 - would be charged at 8%
    €120,001 to €170,000 - would be charged at 9%
    €170,001 to €300,000 - would be charged at 11%
    €300,001 to €500,000 - would be charged at 13%
    €500,001 to €800,000 - would be charged at 15%
    €800,001 to €3,000,000 - would be charged at 17%
    Over €3,000,000 - would be charged at 19%


    Land Transfer Fees

    Land transfer fees are charged on the transfer of immovable property from one person or company to another individual or company. The fees are paid to the Department of Lands and Surveys.

    In cases where an agreement is made under the Immovable Property Tax Law between 2 December 2011 and 31 December 2016 and is thus subject to VAT, land transfer fees will not be applicable. Properties not subject to VAT will be eligible for a 50% reduction of land transfer fees.


    Exemptions from Land Transfer Fees

    No land transfer fees are payable in the following situations:

    Immovable property transferred from a company to another company under a reorganisation scheme
    Sale, transfer and registration of property in the name of a purchaser when the total sale proceeds do not exceed €350,000 in bankruptcy procedures under the bankruptcy law
    On a transfer and registration of immovable property in the name of lender under a restructuring scheme.

    Rates used to calculate the land transfer fees are as follows:

    Up to €85,000 would be charged at 3%
    €85,001 to €170,000 would be charged at 5%
    Over €170,000 would be charged at 8%

    As mentioned above, the changes have added to the attractiveness of Cyprus to potential investors as they will lead to a reduction of costs.  Additionally, an added benefit is available for groups considering restructuring as they will benefit from the exemption of land transfer fees. It is worth reminding potential investors of the decreasing trend in housing loans’ interest rates as well as of the legislation passed in 2015 which provides protection for buyers in Cyprus by allowing owners to apply for their own title deeds.

    Zoe Kokoni, Director (zoe.kokoni@eurofast.eu)
    Eleni Christou, Senior Tax Advisor (eleni.christou@eurofast.eu)

    Eurofast Taxand Cyprus
    T.+357 22699222

    Reproduced with the kind permission of Eurofast Taxand Cyprus

    Original article - click HERE
  • Keeping employees is important and difficult to do - Andrie gives us an insight on how to do this

    Although this is a tough time period for employees and job seekers-as it is an employers’ market - it is still imperative for leaders to focus on employee satisfaction and retention.
    The majority of employees, working for the majority of organisations, have thought about quitting their jobs more than once, during the past year-according to a relevant study.

    The question is, how do great leaders create engaged followers who are loyal? How do great leaders apply internal marketing?

    Here are a few ways:

    1. Explore your Employees’ Full Potential

    By giving the flexibility to every team member to optimise their true potential, instead of trying to fit them into ready-made moulds, the organisation ensures that they feel engaged, happy and free to give the maximum of their capacity. Examples of companies that have given room for their employees to express their abilities are Google and Facebook and we have all seen the results.

    2. Find out What Motivates Them

    Different age groups are motivated by different incentives. For instance, the younger employees are tech-savvy and understand the importance of constantly mastering new skills to stay up to date. They are connected 24/7 and they would definitely appreciate more active technology support and training. Leaders should be open to elevating their team’s knowledge and skills in regards to technological advances, although they may feel intimidated.

    3. Create a Sense of Belonging

    Employees normally place company culture on their top priority list, as a reason for wanting to join a firm or wanting to stay with a firm. What is important for employees is to feel “like at home”, when going to work, but also for the organisation to ensure that all staff feel like they belong there. This includes recruitment and development activities, the physical work environment, a number of volunteer opportunities, get-together initiatives etc. For instance, Starbucks have introduced employee lounges throughout their corporate offices to create this sense of belonging and to encourage further employee interaction.

    4. Be Flexible

    When employees feel like their leaders sympathise with them, understand them and make an effort to accommodate their out-of-work needs, they make an extra effort to be productive, loyal and work for the company’s best interest. This is especially true for working mothers, who are pursuing a career and need all the support they can get from leadership.

    5. Be Open to Communication

    Successful leaders always encourage open communication. The annual performance review process is one way for a leader to talk openly with his people, however waiting until then, may be too late. Two-way exchanges between a manager and employee could be held quarterly and augmented by real-time feedback.

    6. Train & Develop Your People

    There are various ways in which an organisation can invest in further developing its employees. One way is through team building activities aiming at enhancing inter-company relationships. Others include encouraging employees to invite outside experts to their staff meetings or ensuring key staff members attend industry events. There are also examples of companies which give employees a birthday voucher, which can be spend on a personal development course of their choice.  Overall, the idea is for leaders to constantly invest time and money in taking their employees to the next level.

    A relevant quote:

    A CFO is wary about investing in the training and education of the employees.

    He asks the CEO “What happens if we invest in the development of out people and then they leave the company?”

    The CEO is a bright person and replies “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

    --

    About the author:

    Andrie Penta is a Soft Skills Trainer and Marketing Consultant with over 10 years of hands-on experience. In 2013, Andrie was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, through a European Commission initiative, she was assigned the role of a Business Mentor. In 2011, she was chosen to represent Cyprus at the "Women in Leadership" mission in the USA. In 2010, Andrie was nominated by the European Commission, as "Female Ambassador Entrepreneur for Europe".  Andrie is a Certified Trainer by the Cyprus Human Resource Development Authority.
    +357-99360629
  • Andrie Penta tells us when we need to and you may be surprised.

    Many small business owners, especially in the professional services sector, start out small and gradually grow their businesses, mainly out of personal connections and business development efforts. Over time, they realise that the one man show cannot go on forever and that they must start seeking for support.

    This is normally the stage when the business has reached a critical juncture, where it is either growing beyond the owner’s ability to keep up or it is shrinking. It is the point when it is clear that the business needs leads or leads need follow up! At that stage, the business can start with a support person, take on a salesperson, and hire a customer service representative.


    Not long after those key hires, the entrepreneur starts to wonder if he could actually get better marketing results if he used a marketing expert.  But, how will he know when it’s time to stop DIY (i.e. doing it himself) or stop delegating it to an overworked support person?


    Here are some indications:

    1) Sales are slow

    If you know there is a market for your service, and you’re confident that your customer service, sales team and pricing are up to standard, the problem with lagging sales could well be ineffective marketing.


    2) Marketing is not your thing

    It’s puzzling when talented and intelligent business owners admit that they don’t know anything about marketing. Trust me, it shows anyway. Shy approaches and ineffective email campaigns will certainly not bring out the desired results. A professional marketer loves that stuff-allow them to express their passion for your business. The results will amaze you.


    3) Your marketing results are Hit or Miss

    If your marketing results have been hit or miss, you may have come to the conclusion that inbound marketing doesn’t work for your business. Could the blame instead lie with your shot-in-the-dark approach?


    4) You wonder what could actually work

    If you suddenly experience an increase in website traffic, phone calls, or new leads, do you know where they’re coming from? If not, you’re likely wasting your time on ineffective marketing strategies and throwing away potential opportunities for even greater success.

    How are your marketing efforts contributing to website traffic, leads and customers? If you can’t answer that question, let a marketer answer it for you.

    If we would do a market research we would find out that within professional services SMEs often marketing takes a back seat, or it is entirely overlooked. In a worst case scenario, marketing is done by someone in the company who has some extra time, but no marketing experience at all. This can actually be detrimental to the business, as these people, although very skilled in their positions, are quite unskilled in strategic planning related to advertising and marketing. It is most important that business owners realise that they need to do what they do best -run the company. Taking time away from prospecting or running the business will eventually hurt the company.

    Profits are the reason that every business needs a real marketing specialist. Once that specialist learns about the company and its customers, they will bring together ideas to get the name of the company before its target group. Today, more than ever, businesses are relying on marketing professionals to prove to them that their advertising ventures are paying off.

    Furthermore, it is important to keep up to date on marketing trends, such as social media trends. The internet is a major thing and when used appropriately, it can help increase sales.

    A company must be branded and steps have to be taken over a period of time to achieve the best results. It's not something that can be done every once-in-a-while when the accountant or someone else in the company has some spare time.

    There is no single business that could not benefit from professional marketing efforts. Small companies might not be able to justify hiring a full-service marketing agency, but there are independent marketing specialists who can assist with a small version of a very good campaign-a campaign that will be customised for their size of company and target market. Depending on the type of business, a full gambit of marketing strategies could be successful in growing the business.

    Choosing the marketing specialist or agency that best suits a company should be taken seriously. After all, the company’s success is at risk. Business owners should take into consideration the type of work the specialist or agency has done in the past, their level of experience with the industry and their longevity in the marketing field.


    --

    About the author:

    Andrie Penta is a Soft Skills Trainer and Marketing Consultant with over 10 years of hands-on experience. In 2013, Andrie was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, through a European Commission initiative, she was assigned the role of a Business Mentor. In 2011, she was chosen to represent Cyprus at the "Women in Leadership" mission in the USA. In 2010, Andrie was nominated by the European Commission, as "Female Ambassador Entrepreneur for Europe".  Andrie is a Certified Trainer by the Cyprus Human Resource Development Authority.



    E: andrie@penta.com.cy


    T: 99360629

  • If your site is ranked below your competitors there could be many reasons why. An easy thing to check are these five SEO techniques.

    1. Look At The Keywords They Choose


    Read through your competition's pages and see if you can identify which keywords they are focusing on for their pages. Currently, the keywords present on any page should be around 1-2% of the content and no more. Going outside of this range can cause your page to be mis-ranked, especially if there are too many.



    You can also try for more specific keywords. For instance, adding on the city to a keyword helps to narrow it down further. This is a very good technique for small businesses. People use more specific keywords to narrow down the number of results, so you should take advantage of this.




    2. Check Your Title and Meta Tags


    Creating a title that contains the keywords you are targeting is a big signal to search engines what your page is about. The title tag is arguably the most important tag on a webpage. It tells the search engines what a page is about, like a subtitle for a book. If you don't have a title tag, Google may assign one based on what their software think it's about.



    The meta tag is a brief summary (160 characters) of what the page is about. If this is not set, Google will take the first paragraph of information it can find and use it. Unless you want the page to be found that way, make your own meta tag.




    3. Stay Within the Word Limits


    The length for title tags is ideally 55 characters or less, and meta tags should be 160 characters or less. If these tags are too long, Google will continue the tag with an ellipse indicating that the title has been cut off due to excess length. SEO Experts keep the length short and the most relevant words to the left to emphasise to Google that's what you want to focus on (or to the right if your language reads right-to-left).



    The title tag is also what is displayed on the browser tab and how a bookmark will be identified by default. This is another reason to keep the title tag very clear so the reader can understand who you are and what the page is about. Take a look at the competition's names for their pages. Are they clearer than yours?




    4. How Are Your Links?


    The key thing that Google looks for in relevancy is the number of links to and from your site and whether they come from outside the website or inside of it. Internal links make your website look like a cohesive whole. External links show where people can find additional information related to your topic. If the correct resources are chosen it sends the message that they are knowledgeable about their websites subject.



    More links isn't necessarily better though. Just a few are good. Again, study your competition's pages. How many links are on the page? Do they point inside the site or outside the site? Are the links relevant?




    5. Are You Using The Available Tools?


    Sometimes it's easy to see what a competitor is doing, but if they have a very complex site then it's good to use some help. Tools like SEMrush and AHrefs can dig into your competitor's websites and find out all sorts of interesting SEO-related information. They are incredibly useful for finding data on keywords that a successful competitor uses. With that information you can update your own pages to better effect. For instance, you can attempt to target the same keyword, or find a unique keyword they don't use but your customers are looking for and incorporate it onto your site.



    Excelling at SEO is an effective way to set yourself apart from competitors and learning from the competition is one of the best ways to improve your website. These topics just scratch the surface though! Remember, after making an SEO related change it can take a week or two for Google to re-rank your page. Use that lag time to study more about how you can use modern SEO techniques to improve the visibility of your website over your competitors.



    --



    Webarts is a Digital Agency that is strongly committed to the success of their clients and through their passion for performance-driven websites and inbound strategies.

  • WriteCY have been busy again - this time an interview Maria Zackheos and talk about Social Media

    Write CY: Marilena, social media has seeped into our everyday connected existence at almost every level. Can you get by today without having a blog or a Facebook or Twitter account?



    Marilena Zackheos: Sure you can! But you might be missing out on real-time news, publicity for a range of events, personal and professional connections, as well as creative pockets for engaging in online and offline communities which may interest you. And that’s a real shame.




    WCY: How else can using social media improve our lives in meaningful ways?



    MZ: When I first joined Twitter, I was blown away by the amount of information I could access in a matter of seconds that was specifically tailored to my interests. Learning to use Twitter as an information nucleus for your daily news—which is one of its main strengths as a platform—can be extremely rewarding.



    In addition to making it super easy to search for topics that interest you, Twitter also puts up a lot less barriers than other social media platforms to connect with people from all over the world. Facebook is largely limited to “friend-of-a-friend” networking but microblogging through Twitter allows you now to interact with people you would have otherwise had no direct contact with (including celebrities and top people in any field or business).



    The direct messaging functions in Twitter and Facebook, as well as the discussion forums and comments sections on blogs, are providing largely trouble-free systems to easily connect with others, reach people remote to us, and achieve fast communication.




    WCY: Ok, we’ve covered the personal angle. What about businesses and entrepreneurs? How can they exploit social media



    MZ: Well, in terms of marketing yourself or your business, a blog post, for instance, that is shared on Facebook or retweeted on Twitter can go a long way. You can easily spread the word without relying on external media channels and you can make sure that you are in control of the exact message that you want to disseminate.




    WCY: What are some of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when trying to create a brand using social media?



    MZ: One of the greatest mistakes is creating a brand that does not address real people’s needs from the get-go. In other words, if the writing on a blog, a Facebook account or a Twitter account does not show a clear sense of the people whom you are addressing, the content will flop, no matter how interesting the subject. Ultimately, if no single person consistently needs the information you are creating or curating on your social media platforms, you will have no interaction with that content. Vague posts that are directed to no specific person in mind at all will inevitably elicit a reaction from that very type.



    Related to this point is the caveat that effective social media content must first and foremost be useful. The other great mistake people make is not stating clearly how something is beneficial for your targeted audience. Status updates like “buy this book” or “sign up for this class now” are ineffectual when they do not satisfy the social media users’ curiosity about the product or if they do not promise specific reward or value.




    WCY: Best-selling author (and former snow cone peddler) Jonathan Franzen has publically stated that no writer should be plugged into the Internet when writing. How can we integrate social media into our lives while still focusing on our work?



    MZ: I had no idea he was a snow cone peddler! Is that even true? Let me look that up. Does he have a Twitter account? What were we saying?



    Social media can be distracting and time-consuming if we let it. The best way to limit this distraction is, I believe, to allocate a clear goal to each of the social media platforms and accounts we are using. Decide first: Will you be using your personal Facebook account for fun and to connect with friends, while using your professional Facebook account to increase your blog’s traffic? Will you be using Twitter for status updates and Facebook for marketing your business or product? Will Twitter be your main tool for staying updated in your fields of interest and Facebook for creating more close-knit social networks?  Differentiating between Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging use can be grounding and over the long haul more valuable to you.



    Back to Franzen, I do find it invigorating to switch off completely from the Internet on certain occasions. But for the most part, on a daily basis, I remain active on Facebook in particular. I use it to exchange ideas and documents related to my work, to allow me to serve as a resource for my connections, as well as maintain and build relationships. All of these are integral to enhancing work effectiveness both psychologically and practically, to establishing new opportunities, and to giving and receiving assistance and advice.





    WCY: We’ve covered a lot of ground, and this has been extremely helpful. My last question is for readers with little social media experience. What’s the first step for someone to become social media literate?



    MZ: There really is no “easy” way for someone to become social media literate. Some people may be more naturally gifted at engaging others on social media, however, it takes a lot of trial and error for all before solidifying a convincing voice and social media strategy that will work for each specific individual or business. Luckily though, we know of certain tactics that have been proven to work more than others and we can certainly teach these. I’ll be sharing some tips myself, using social media writing as a frame of reference, at an upcoming 8-week course that starts March 2, 2016.




    WCY: Thanks, Marilena.



    MZ: My pleasure.



    A little bit about Maria Zackheos



    Marilena Zackheos studied Philosophy, Poetry Writing, Postcolonial Literature, and Cultural Studies in the United States and the United Kingdom. She is co-editor of VILE WOMEN: FEMALE EVIL IN FACT, FICTION AND MYTHOLOGY (Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford UK, 2014) and of THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN MULTICULTURAL CYPRUS (forthcoming in 2016.) She is currently Director of The Cyprus Center for Intercultural Studies and Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Nicosia. She teaches social media literacy. Her debut poetry collection, CARMINE LULLABIES (a bookworm publication), will hit the stores on February 20, 2016.



    For more information on Marilena’s upcoming course Writing for Social Media, click here

  • A lot has taken place since the Russian President Vladimir Putin had called for the deoffshorization of the Russian economy in order to repatriate capital being channeled in offshore jurisdictions and to combat tax avoidance.

    The Draft Law on Deoffshorization was initially made available for public discussion on the 18th of March 2014 and the floodgates had opened. Since then extensive discussions between the business community and governmental bodies have taken place both in Russia and abroad as this new Law is expected to significantly affect foreign jurisdictions as well. After a prolonged emotional rollercoaster caused by the various revisions of the initial text, the Draft Law was submitted to the State Duma and it was adopted on the 18th of November 2014 in the second and third readings.

    The Law establishes a mechanism for the taxation in Russia of incomes of CFCs, in the case where such companies do not distribute their incomes for the benefit of Russian entities, controlling such companies. Thus, according to the Law adopted, the definition of a CFC refers to companies that are not tax residents of Russia and are controlled by individuals or legal entities that are Russian tax residents. 

    The “control” over the CFC shall be determined both by the ability of the controlling person to exert influence on the decisions of the CFC with regards to the distribution of its profits and by their level of participation in the authorized capital of the company, of more than 25%. Also, in the case where the overall share of Russian tax residents in the company is more that 50%, then the level of participation in the company in order to determine a controlling person shall be reduced t0 10%. It is important to note that the transition period which was previously set from 2015 until the end of 2017 has now been reduced. As such, a level of participation of 50% shall apply for the purposes of determining a controlling person up to the year 2016. 

    The Law also defines the criteria for foreign companies to fall outside the scope of the legislation and their profits to be exempt from taxation in Russia.  These include non-profit organizations that will not distribute their profits to the shareholders, companies from the Eurasian Economic Union as well as banks and credit institutions operating in States that have recently concluded tax treaties with Russia.

    The Draft Law was almost unanimously voted by the State Duma (439 votes, zero - against, and two - abstentions) without accepting the amendments proposed by the Government. Now the final word lies with the Federation of Council in Russia however it seems that the possibility for further amendments to the Law may still be in play as commented by the Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov “I very much hope that we will be able to return in the spring to the CFC law, in order to correct it”.

    Katerina A. Charalambous
    katerina.a.charalambous@eurofast.eu
    +357 22 699 222

  • In view of developments in the international tax landscape - including the demand for transparency, exchange of information and compliance - it seems likely that Cyprus will be requested to introduce transfer pricing (TP) legislation.

    Taxand Cyprus takes a look at TP rules in surrounding jurisdictions and investigates the likelihood of implementation in Cyprus.

    Taking into consideration that the tax authorities in neighbouring countries in South Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean have started focusing considerable attention on transfer pricing, it is expected that this ‘trend’ will influence Cyprus as well.

    For example the Albanian transfer pricing rules have been present for more than a decade in their corporate income tax (CIT) Law, however, detailed regulations on the application of these rules have only now been published in the Official Journal (No 70), dated 20/05/2014. The recent changes lead to the alignment of local rules to the OECD guidelines, eliminating the conflicting rules that have been applied so far.

    The Bulgarian transfer pricing rules were initially introduced in the Corporate Income Tax Act (CITA), the Tax and Social Security Procedures Code, as well as in Ordinance № H-9 for implementation of the transfer pricing methods issued by the Minister of Finance on 29 August 2006. Following the international trends, a manual providing guidance on transfer pricing issues was published in 2010 by the tax authorities.

    In Serbia the rules have been present since 1 July 2001, while the latest amendments related to interest rates came into force on 15 February 2014. The rulebook was enacted on 20 July 2013 giving clarity to transfer pricing rules.

    Cyprus does not have specific transfer pricing rules in its domestic legislation. However, the country follows the OECD transfer pricing guidelines and the arm’s length principle.

    According to Article 33 of the Income Tax Legislation (118 (I)/2002 as amended), the Cyprus tax authorities may proceed with adjustments in the taxable bases of companies if conditions indicate that transactions occurred were not valued in the same way as if they had been carried out between unrelated parties.

    The definition of related parties is very broad, but exclusively includes situations where one party directly or indirectly participates in the management and control, or capital, of another party (no specific thresholds), or if the same parties participate directly or indirectly in the management and control or capital of another party. Moreover, the term ‘related party’ between entities may include situations ranging from statutory to economic dependency and also certain family relations.

    Taxand’s take: 

    By implementing international transfer pricing principles with an effective approach, Cyprus may attract more multinationals which would have a positive impact on the country’s investment environment. Multinationals with operations in Cyprus should keep abreast of all developments in the jurisdiction in order to ascertain the impact new transfer pricing rules and regulations would have on their specific situation.  

    Anastasia Sagianni 
    Transfer Pricing Advisor
    Anastasia.sagianni@eurofast.eu     

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