BUSINESS NEWS – 7th April 2021

Welcome to our round up of the latest business and Covid-19 news for our clients. Please contact us if you want to talk about how these updates affect your business. We are here to support you through these tough times.

Below we outline some of the measures for easing lockdown that have recently been announced and if your business is preparing for the changes, please do contact us about how we can help.

The government has updated its webpage on Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19). Find out what financial support you can get for your business here: Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The latest business impacts survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been published. 

See: Understanding the business impacts of local and national restrictions, UK – Office for National Statistics

The main points are:

  • Since early January 2020, the percentage of single-site businesses currently trading has picked up slightly in both Wales and Scotland, though the proportion of their workforce on furlough remains higher than in early January.
  • Scotland has consistently had the highest proportion of its single-site businesses’ workforce on furlough leave, compared with other UK countries since early December 2020.
  • Single-site businesses across the UK are more likely to have less than three months of cash reserves compared with businesses with multiple sites.
  • Workers in single-site businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector are approximately four times more likely to be on furlough leave (63%), compared with single-site businesses across all industries (16%) in mid-March 2021, with single-site businesses in hospitality and tourism in Northern Ireland having the highest likelihood (85%) among the UK countries.

Across all regions of the UK insufficient cash reserves is a clear issue for many smaller businesses and the government has launched the Recovery Loan Scheme today (see below).

Cash flow and business planning in these uncertain times may appear difficult but there are some practical steps you can take to minimise potential disruption to your business:

  • Review your Budgets and set realistic and achievable targets for the remainder of 2021.
  • Get your employees involved in a discussion of likely trading conditions and get their input on reducing costs and maintaining revenues. 
  • Review and flow chart the main processes in your business (e.g. Sales processing, order fulfilment, shipping etc.) and challenge the need for each step.
  • Put extra effort into making sure your relationships with your customers are solid.
  • Review your list of products and services and eliminate those that are unprofitable or not core products/services.
  • Review efficiency of business processes and consider alternatives such as outsourcing certain activities locally or overseas.
  • Agree extended payment terms with all suppliers in advance.
  • Pull everyone together and explain the business strategy and get their buy-in.

Please talk to us about cash flow planning for the next six months, we can help with a template so you can do this yourself or work together to produce estimates for a variety of scenarios.

The vaccine rollout continues

Last week we saw more than 5 million people in the UK receive their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Health services across the UK have now administered over 37 million vaccines between 8 December and 7 April, including over 31.4 million people with their first dose and over 5.2 million with their second.

The milestone means nearly 1 in 10 of all UK adults have received both vaccines, ensuring a high level of protection from the virus over the coming months.

More roadmap details announced to ease lockdown.

Further details have been published by regional UK governments about the route out of lockdown. In Scotland, some non-essential retail shops are now open, and the devolved government was aiming to remove travel restrictions and further open the economy by 26 April, with hopes of ending most lockdown measures by the end of June. In England further easing of Covid restrictions has been confirmed for 12 April and comparable schemes are in place for Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England and Scotland it has been announced that everyone is to be given access to two rapid coronavirus tests a week from Friday, under an extension of the government’s testing programme. The lateral flow kits, which can provide results in around 30 minutes, will be available for free at testing sites, pharmacies and through the post. We assume these will be available in all regions shortly.

Covid passports now a possibility.

A “Covid-status certification” system is being discussed and developed over the coming months which could allow higher-risk settings to be opened up and with more participants. The government has announced a system will be developed which will take into account three factors: vaccination, a recent negative test, or natural immunity (determined on the basis of a positive test taken in the previous six months). Events pilots will take place from mid-April to trial the system. All pilots are checking Covid status, initially this will be through testing alone but in later pilots vaccination and acquired immunity are expected to be alternative ways to demonstrate status.

Traffic light system for travel

The Government states it wants to see a return to non-essential international travel as soon as possible, while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants of concern. The Government hopes people will be able to travel to and from the UK to take a summer holiday this year, but it is still too soon to know what is possible.

The roadmap said that any return to international travel without a reasonable excuse, for example for holidays, would be no earlier than 17 May. Given the state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries, the government says it is not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from that point. Taking into account the latest situation with variants and the evidence about the efficacy of vaccines against them, they will confirm in advance whether non-essential international travel can resume on 17 May, or whether we will need to wait longer before lifting the outbound travel restriction.

When non-essential international travel does return it will do so with a risk-based “traffic light” system. This will add to the current system a new green category with no isolation requirement on return to the UK – although pre-departure and post-arrival tests would still be needed. This new category will accommodate countries where the government judge the risk to be lower, based for instance on vaccinations, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern, and their genomic sequencing capacity (or access to genomic sequencing). The Global Travel Taskforce will publish its report, setting out more details on this system, later this week.

The roadmap reviews published on the 5 April can be read here: Roadmap Reviews: Update – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

COVID-19 GOVERNMENT SUPPORT NEWS

Below is our weekly roundup of changes to government support information generally and for businesses, employers and the self-employed.

Recovery Loan Scheme launches today

The Recovery Loan Scheme will ensure businesses continue to benefit from Government-guaranteed finance throughout 2021. Loans will include 80% government guarantee and interest rate cap.

With non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality reopening next week, Ministers have ensured that appropriate support is still available to businesses to protect jobs. From today, businesses – ranging from coffee shops and restaurants to hairdressers and gyms – and can access loans varying in size from £25,000, up to a maximum of £10 million. Invoice and asset finance is available from £1,000.

See: Recovery Loan Scheme launches today – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – Update

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021. 

Claims for furlough days in March 2021 must be made by 14 April 2021.

See: Check if you can claim for your employees’ wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


NHS Test and Trace in the workplace

Employers must take steps to keep workers and visitors safe. By following the COVID secure guidelines, employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19, or is identified as having had close contact with someone who has tested positive.

Working from home, where possible, is essential to limiting mixing between households. People should work from home unless it is not reasonable to do so. If necessary, workers can travel for work purposes and stay away from home.

It is vital that employers play their part by:

  • supporting staff to work from home
  • making workplaces as safe as possible (if working from home is not possible)
  • not knowingly allow workers who are required to self-isolate to attend the workplace
  • encouraging employees to download and use the NHS COVID-19 app

Employers must continue to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people in the workplace. This includes, but is not limited to workers, agency workers, contractors, volunteers, customers, suppliers and other visitors.

See: NHS Test and Trace in the workplace – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace

Designated venues in certain sectors must have a system in place to request and record contact details of their customers, visitors and staff to help break the chains of transmission of coronavirus.

The guidance has been updated for the rules for businesses reopening, and for entering a venue.

See: Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Red list travel ban countries

Further countries have been added to the list. If you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK, you will be able to enter the country, however you must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): red list travel ban countries – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Private providers of coronavirus testing

The lists of and information about approved suppliers of private testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) has been updated.

See: Private providers of coronavirus testing – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses

The main updates include information about deadlines for CS applications, BPS applications, and CS and ES revenue claims.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


England – Fresh wave of grant funding launched as councils are called on to do their bit to continue supporting businesses

A New grant scheme launched last week: The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care and accommodation sectors with a one-off grant, to reopen safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Eligible businesses in the non-essential retail sector may be entitled to a one-off cash grant of up to £6,000 from their local council.

See: Check if you’re eligible for a coronavirus Restart Grant – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


England – Twice weekly rapid testing to be available to everyone.

Everyone in England will be able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing from 9 April, the Government has announced.

Anyone will be able to access free, rapid lateral flow tests (LFDs) for themselves and their families to use twice a week, in line with clinical guidance.

Rapid testing has so far been available to those most at risk and people who need to leave home for work, including frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents, and schoolchildren and their families. Now rapid testing will be offered to everyone, with people encouraged to take regular tests to help prevent outbreaks and reclaim a more normal way of life.

One in 3 people with COVID-19 do not experience any symptoms and may be spreading the virus unwittingly. Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. Since rapid testing was introduced, over 120,000 positive cases that would not have been found otherwise have already been identified by LFDs. By making rapid tests available to everyone, more cases will be detected, breaking chains of transmission and saving lives.

Alongside the rollout of the vaccine, regular testing is going to be an essential part of the easing of restrictions as it will help us quickly suppress the spread of variants. Through new testing technology, positive cases of variants of concern are being detected faster than ever before. More people getting a test will increase the government’s ability to identify and control variants.

See:  Twice weekly rapid testing to be available to everyone in England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


England – Further easing of Covid restrictions confirmed for 12 April.

Outdoor hospitality will be among those reopening in England next week after the Prime Minister confirmed the roadmap is on track and planned easements can go ahead.

Further parts of the indoor economy and outdoor settings will reopen from 12 April, after data confirmed the government’s “four tests” for easing Covid restrictions had been met.

The Prime Minister continued to urge caution, with no changes to social contact rules and many restrictions still in place. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households, and you must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have not formed a support bubble with.

Confirmation Step 2 of the roadmap would proceed came after the measures were agreed at a “Covid O” meeting and discussed on a Cabinet call on Monday.

Before proceeding to this step, the government studied the latest data to assess the impact of the first step, which began when schools reopened on 8 March.

The assessment was based on four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

As set out in the roadmap, around four weeks is required to see the impact in the data of the previous step.

The government also committed to provide a further weeks’ notice to businesses, provided through the update from the Prime Minister on Monday.

From 12 April additional premises will be able to reopen – with the rules on social contact applying. Indoor settings must only be visited alone or with household groups, with outdoor settings limited to either six people or two households.

This includes non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons; and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3).

Overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.

Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also reopen.

The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events.

Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain.

People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise domestic travel where they can. International holidays are still illegal.

The number of care home visitors will also increase to two per resident, and all children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance.

Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors.

Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).

The government is also publishing an update on the 4 reviews established in the roadmap to determine what measures may be necessary from summer onwards.

See: Further easing of Covid restrictions confirmed for 12 April – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


England – Declaration form for international travel

Complete this form to confirm that you have a reasonable excuse to travel abroad from England.

Change made – Clarification of reasonable excuses for international travel from the UK.

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): declaration form for international travel – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

England – Providers of day 2 and day 8 coronavirus testing for international arrivals.

Information on the 2 tests you must book, pay for and take during your mandatory 10-day quarantine period after arriving in England, including how to book.

See:  Providers of day 2 and day 8 coronavirus testing for international arrivals – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


England – Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms

The advice for seasonal agricultural workers coming to England to pick fruit and vegetables on farms, and their employers has been updated to include new requirements on testing. See: Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Customer relationship management

In the current environment, managing the customers that you already have is key.

In order to develop valuable, long term relationships with your customers you need to move the interaction from being purely transactional in nature to something longer term. Winning new customers when you can’t go out and meet people is challenging to say the least. In addition, repeat customers tend to spend more money than new customers as they trust your brand and know what to expect from your business. There is a cost of acquisition when it comes to new customers, whether that is marketing costs, offering discounts or incentives.

Your approach to managing customer relationships can be both proactive and reactive. Reactive approaches might involve responding quickly to customer enquiries, addressing reported issues quickly or turning orders around more efficiently than your competitors.

Proactive customer relationship management involves focusing on building loyalty among your existing client base through targeted marketing, sharing helpful information or developing a customer loyalty programme.

A customer loyalty programme is a great way to encourage repeat purchases among your existing customer-base. For example, you could offer customers a 5% discount if they set up an automatic renewal, or 10% off every third purchase. Depending on the type of business that you run, you could offer something relatively simple like a coffee stamp card, where every 10 purchases gives the customer the next one for free.

In the current environment, accessibility is a key factor in the success of any business. Think about how you can make your business more accessible to customers. Technology can help and businesses can leverage everything from automated chat bots on websites or making staff available to speak with customers on screen via Zoom or Skype.

Don’t forget about good old fashioned phone calls as well. Being on the end of the phone when your customers need you is hugely valuable – we have all heard customers complain about never being able to reach a company on the phone. If you are the company whose customers can always get someone on the phone to help, you will develop much more loyal relationships with your customers.

Don’t forget to ask your customers for feedback. Your best customers will be more than willing to tell you what you can do better and where you can improve aspects of your product or service offering. Finally – say thank you to your customers. Not enough businesses do this and it will help you stand out from the crowd.

Conscious Leadership

Conscious leadership is bringing your whole self, with total awareness, to your role as a business leader.

Conscious leadership requires authenticity – to be a conscious leader you must be who you really are. Conscious leaders focus on the “we” rather than the “me” and focus on creating a culture of trust, care and positive influence.

Conscious leaders speak with integrity, lead with authenticity and hold themselves accountable. They listen with the intent to understand others, the wider context and the world around them. By contrast, unconscious leaders tend to be reactive, self-centred and let their ego run the show.

Self-awareness

Becoming self-aware is the key to becoming a conscious leader. You may already know your strengths and weaknesses but are you aware of your feelings, motives, biases or thoughts? Once you become more tuned into these, you can start to manage them. Conscious leaders ask themselves questions like “how can I do better?” “Where am I falling short?” Or “How can I bring more joy and positivity into my everyday life?”

Your Circle of Influence

It has often been said that we are the product of the five people that we most associate with. We are all individuals but our inner circle plays a huge role in who we are, our character and our integrity. Make a list of the five people you most associate with and note down some key points in relation to their attitudes, behaviour and character. Then, ask yourself if you feel satisfied being the average sum of those traits. If not, maybe it is time to restructure your inner circle of people who influence you the most.  

Be Intentional

Conscious leaders succeed because they bring intention to everything they do. Say what you mean and don’t engage in negativity or gossip. Try not to take things personally – if someone has a problem with you, it is usually them projecting their own insecurities onto you. Don’t make assumptions and always do your best. If someone can do something better than you can, reach out and involve them – it is all part of being authentic.

Diversity and Inclusion – Best Practice

The benefits of a more diverse and inclusive organisation are clear, but how do you actually go about implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy?

Businesses are more focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I) than ever before. A McKinsey research report from 2018 shows that greater diversity in the workforces results in more profitable organisations. Here are some top tips for implementing a D&I strategy.

Lead from the top

D&I is not just an initiative that is owned by HR. For real change to happen, the whole management team needs to buy into D&I. The culture of any firm starts with the management team, who should set the example for others to follow.

Everyone in the firm, regardless of

how large or small it is, should understand their role in the businesses and should be encouraged to share ideas, speak up and get involved.

It’s about more than quotas

Many businesses have set diversity targets but quotas won’t automatically create an inclusive culture. Of course, businesses need to hire from more diverse talent pools, but they must also hire the right people in terms of their fit with the culture of the firm.

Inclusion is ongoing

D&I is not just a one-off training session. Training has its place and it’s good to teach your team members about what it means to be inclusive, how to manage unconscious bias etc.

However, being a more inclusive organisation requires a change in behaviours. New habits must be created. Honest, open and healthy conversations should be encouraged, by everyone in the firm. The best firms give everyone the opportunity to get involved in projects, encourage them to share ideas and to challenge themselves.

Brand and culture are connected

A firm’s brand and its culture are intimately linked. After all, your brand is what people say about your firm (not what you tell them your firm is). Consider what is happening both inside and outside your firm. How does your brand illustrate the culture of your business? Do your employees see the organisation the same way that your customers do? If not, then try to make the link, involve your employees in projects which improve the customer experience and that also allow them to have a bit of fun along the way. After all, the best businesses encourage a bit of enjoyment

CONSULTATIONS ISSUED ON “TAX DAY” BY TREASURY

The Treasury normally issue a bundle of tax consultation documents on Budget Day. This year however they chose to delay the publication until 3 weeks after the Budget. We were expecting the consultation documents to include major changes to CGT and IHT, but it would appear that these have yet again been delayed. The Treasury have accepted a number of recommendations by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) on simplifying IHT reporting. From 1 January 2022 over 90 per cent of non-taxpaying estates each year will no longer have to complete IHT forms for deaths when probate is required. The government will also consider introducing a new digital system for IHT and probate reporting.

Another consultation is seeking views on modernising the tax administration system including changes to the payment dates for those outside PAYE. It would appear that HMRC are reconsidering a possible Pay as You Go system for the self-employed that was originally consulted on in 2016.

REVIEW OF BUSINESS RATES

Among the documents published was an interim report on the government’s Fundamental Review of Business Rates, which sets out a summary of responses to last year’s call for evidence. The final report will be published in the Autumn. The government will also legislate to tighten tax rules for second homeowners meaning they can only register for business rates (and business rates relief) if their properties are genuine holiday lets. This will close a loophole that allowed some second homeowners to avoid paying council tax on that property, and some were even claiming coronavirus support grants for their “business”.

NEW ENHANCED LOSS RELIEF RULES MAY RESULT IN EXTRA TAX REFUNDS

In the March Budget it was announced that the normal one year carry back for trading losses would be extended to three years. This means that many businesses that have made losses during the COVID-19 pandemic may be able to obtain a repayment of tax paid in that three-year period. This enhanced carry back applies to unincorporated businesses as well as limited companies and the details are set out in the latest Finance Bill.

For corporation tax purposes the loss-making accounting period must end between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022 to qualify for the three year carry back. For unincorporated businesses, the trading loss must be incurred in 2020/21 or 2021/22.

For example, if Albion Ltd incurred trading losses of £200,000 in year ended 31 December 2020 having made profits of £50,000 in year ended 31 December 2019 it would normally only be possible to relieve £50,000 of the losses.

The new temporary carry back rules would permit losses to be set against trading profits made in the years ended 31 December 2018 and then 31 December 2017 as well. If profits in those years were £150,000 or more then the company would be entitled to a £38,000 corporation tax refund (19% of £200,000).

MORE DETAILS ON THE NEW SUPER-DEDUCTION FOR EQUIPMENT

In the Budget on 3rd March the Chancellor announced a new 130% tax relief for expenditure on new plant and machinery incurred between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2023. It turns out that this new tax relief is only available to limited companies and the latest Finance Bill reveals a nasty sting in the tail when the equipment is sold, as the clawback on disposal is potentially at the same 130% rate. So, if a new item of plant cost £100,000 the company would be able to deduct £130,000 in arriving at taxable profits thus saving £24,700 in corporation tax at 19%. However, if the plant was sold for £80,000 on 1 April 2023 130% of the proceeds would be clawed back and £104,000 added to taxable profit which could result in up to £26,000 corporation tax payable at the new 25% rate. The claw-back rate reduces on a time basis from 1 April 2023 onwards so it would be advisable to retain the asset long term.

The 130% rate does not apply to equipment such as air conditioning and central heating that normally qualify for a 6% writing down allowance. Such “integral features” qualify for a special 50% first year allowance for the same two-year period.

Please contact us to discuss the tax implications of major capital expenditure decisions.

UBER DRIVERS ARE WORKERS NOT SELF EMPLOYED

The Supreme Court has ruled that drivers for the ride hailing App Uber are workers not self-employed individuals and hence are entitled to holiday pay, pension rights and the right to be paid the national minimum wage. This case will have implications for other workers in the “gig” economy and may also have a bearing on the tax status of such workers. HMRC will certainly be taking an interest in the Supreme Court ruling. Note that tax law doesn’t necessarily follow employment law, but the boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred making it difficult to determine an individual’s employment status with absolute certainty. The court determined that the drivers were in a position of subordination to Uber. The only way the worker could increase their earnings would be to work longer hours as Uber set the fare charged to the customer. This indicates that the driver is under the control of Uber, a key factor in determining employment status. However, it could be argued that there is limited Mutuality of Obligation as the drivers are able to refuse certain rides, although that may result in sanctions by Uber.

NEW PERSONAL SERVICE COMPANY RULES START THIS MONTH

The “off-payroll” working rules that apply to certain workers supplying their services to clients via their own personal service companies start from 6 April 2021.

Under this new regime end user businesses will be required to determine whether that individual would have been treated as an employee or not if directly engaged. This will be a significant additional administrative burden on the large and medium-sized businesses to whom the new rules apply. This is a complex area based on different decisions by the courts and HMRC suggest that end user organisations use the CEST (Check Employment Status for Tax) online tool on their website to help with the determination. The end user business is then required to issue the worker with a Status Determination Statement setting out the reasoning for their decision, a copy of which is also given to any agency supplying the worker if relevant.

The determination notifies the agency that PAYE and NIC should be deducted from payments to the worker’s personal service company. That information should be passed down the labour supply chain if other entities are involved, and the ultimate fee payer is liable for making the tax and NIC deductions. If HMRC are unable to collect the tax from the fee payer, the liability will pass up the labour supply chain thus encouraging the end user organisation to carry out due diligence to limit their exposure.

Please contact us if you need assistance in complying with the new rules.

NO CHANGE FOR “SMALL” EMPLOYERS

“Small” businesses will be outside of the new obligations and services supplied to such organisations will continue to be dealt with under the current IR35 rules with the worker and his or her personal service company effectively self-assessing whether the rules apply to that particular engagement.

The definition of “small” is based on the existing Companies Act 2006 definition. That is where the business satisfies 2 or more of the following features:

  • Annual turnover of £10.2million or less
  • Balance Sheet total of £5.1 million or less
  • 50 employees or less

What can businesses learn from Jeff Bezos

As Jeff Bezos steps down as CEO of Amazon, his legacy continues to inspire business leaders across the world.

Jeff Bezos started Amazon as a loss making online book store and has built it into one of the largest and most successful businesses in the world.

Amazon is a business that is known for having high standards. How do you stay ahead of ever-increasing customer expectations in a fast-paced industry? The key for Amazon was to lead from the top down and instill a culture of high standards throughout the entire company. Amazon has had a few failures along the way, but it has taken the time to learn from those in order to improve different aspects of its service proposition and drive innovation across all levels of the organisation.

One key to Jeff’s successful leadership of Amazon was his ability to make decisions quickly. To be decisive, it is important to learn how to manage risk and make decisions without having 100% of the relevant information.  Business decisions often have to be made with around 75% of the information that you wish you had. If you wait to have 100%, you could end up deliberating, moving slowly, and being overtaken by your competitors.

In one of his annual letters, Bezos wrote about his aim to surprise and delight customers in order to build long-term trust. His note went on to talk about being internally driven to improve services, add benefits and new features before having to do so. You can apply this concept to your own business by thinking about how you can increase value for your customers, through innovation or improvements to your products and services.

Jeff Bezos focused on inputs because, in his view, the outputs would take care of themselves. Amazon does, of course, take financial outputs seriously, but by focusing their energy on the controllable inputs, setting smart objectives and putting detail-oriented plans in place, the management team set the business up for success.

Jeff and his management team focused on customer needs and worked backwards from there, in order to identify opportunities to build the next product or service offering. This approach drove the team at Amazon to develop new skills in order to deliver innovative offerings that satisfied the needs of their customers.