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Good Day Everyone,

As we grow as a company what we have to say grows too, so we start here. We’ll be discussing some of the common features of the internet, things you should be wary of, what you need to do and more importantly we’ll do our best to just give good advice…

We promise that we’ll always tell you the truth, even when it doesn’t reflect as well on us, we’ll work hard to deliver relevant and clever content (i’m not promising entertaining, as I’m afraid, web design, and hosting isn’t always an entertaining topic, but we’ll do our best.

So on with the show!

Big-picture quarterly planning: three ways to start off Q1 properly

planning

Know where you’re going

2018 its time to get strategic with a plan of action so you’re ready for your small business to storm Q1. If you’re not sure what your quarterly planning should cover, keep the following areas top of mind.

Make a list (and check it twice) of January’s tax dates for your business

HRMC are all ready and gearing up for submissions so here’s a quick list of some of the important ones, but check with your accountant encase these change (watch out for April budget changes).

Until then, pencil in these into your quarterly planning agenda.

  • 31 July 2018
2nd Payment on Account of tax for 2016/17 due to HMRC
  • 05 October 2018
Deadline to advise HMRC that you need to register for Self-Assessment for the 2016/17 Tax Year
  • 31 October 2018
Deadline for filing Paper Income Tax Return with HMRC
  • 31 January 2019
1st Payment on Account of tax for 2017/18 due to HMRC LAST DAY TO FILE YOU INCOME TAX RETURN<
  • 05 April 2018
End of Current Tax Year
  • 30 December 2018
Deadline for filing Income Tax return with HMRC if you want any Tax collected through your PAYE Coding (under £3,000)
  • 31 January 2019
Balance of any tax, national insurance and student loan owed to HMRC for 2015/16 must be paid.

Important Dates for Companies:

Corporation Tax payments are due 9 months and 1 day following your financial year end
e.g. – Year End is 31 December 2016. Any Corporation Tax owed must be paid by 1 October 2017

CIS

Returns must reach HMRC by the 19th of each month.
e.g. – Period 6 May to 5 June must be filed by 19 June

VAT

Due dates for returns and payments:

  • Accounting Quarter period ends 28 Feb – VAT return due 7 April (if filed online)
  • Accounting Quarter period ends 31 Mar – VAT return due 7 May (if filed online)
  • Accounting Quarter period ends 30 Apr – VAT return due 7 June (if filed online)
  • Accounting Quarter period ends 31 May – VAT return due 7 July (if filed online)

PAYE

Under RTI (“Real Time Information”), an employer must file details of any payments made to employees on or before the date that a payment is made to the employee.

Payments of PAYE and NI must reach HMRC by the 19th of the month following the tax month in which the salary payment was made, if paying by cheque, or by the 22nd of the month if paying electronically.
NB – if the 19th or 22nd falls on a weekend or bank holiday, payment must reach them on the last working day BEFORE the weekend or holiday.

  • 19 April 2017
Final submission must be made to HMRC under RTI for the year, including answering the “end of year questions”
  • 31 May 2017
P60’s to be given to all employees
  • 31 May 2017
P11d to be filed with HMRC
  • 19 July 2017
Class 1 A payment to reach HMRC (postal)
  • 22 July 2017
Class 1 A payment to reach HMRC (electronic)

A lot of dates and numbers, but remember but remember depending on your company size, so of these aren’t relevant! Have a word with an accountant to find out what you need to worry about.

Set specific goals with your quarterly planning

New Year, new business! Before you jump into 2018 with all of the great ideas you’ve been cooking up throughout the year, make sure your leap forward includes a comfortable safety net of support.

Conduct a year-in-review on 2017

What sold and what didn’t? What marketing tactics worked out and which fell flat? Look at your product line to determine profitability of products or bundles being sold, and evaluate initiatives tackled by each department to help determine the ROI it gave back to the business.
When you have a clearer idea of what the numbers look like, you’ll be able to invest more in what is working and increase your bottom line further! (maybe buy that Jet you want!)

Get your team on the same page

With your quarterly planning, you should also conduct employee reviews. Re-affirm/assign responsibilities that each employee has from an objective standpoint. Highlight the success of projects and those who ran them, discuss the kind of ROI that initiative brought the business and what made it so successful.

Afterwards, meet with your team to get everyone on the same page about upcoming projects and assignments spread out over the course of the year. Remember to be SMART! (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) Be specific and set goals for each of your team members, which can be broken down in three-month, six-month, nine-month, and year-long increments.

Be the driving force that motivates your employees

For entrepreneurs, a New Year and fresh quarterly planning brings a chance for a clean slate. Your business is a little bit older and wiser now, having learned so much in its previous year. Your team members are equally refreshed from the holiday break and ready to hit the ground running.
Remember that operating a small business is not a sprint — it’s a marathon.
If you were running a sprint, everything you had in your quarterly planning for 2018 would be accomplished in an absurdly short amount of time. Your team, and yourself, would probably be extremely exhausted and burned out as a result.
Approach the year ahead as a marathon instead. As the leader of the business, get your team inspired for 2018 by being the driving force that motivates them and helps push them forward.
Talk with the various departments to see what projects they have planned, hold group meetings and discuss initiatives to focus on, and reintroduce concepts you discussed putting into action at the end of last year.
Maintain a positive, respectful attitude with everyone, (this is more important than anything else) thank your team for the hard work they put in now, and provide them assistance and tools necessary to succeed if they need extra help. In turn, your team will help lift you up and you’ll spend the year ahead knowing that whatever comes your way, you’ll be ready to successfully tackle it.
Now that you’ve carefully strategized on prepping for the year ahead with your tax payments, specific ROI-driven goals, and efforts to motivate your team, it’s time to head off to the races. On your mark, get set … GO!

The above content should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Move to PHP7 and leave 5 behind…

php7 logo

PHP7 has already been around the block once or twice, did you know it was released Dec 2015, that means it just turned 3! There are still a lot of people out there that still use PHP5.6 or less, to put this in perspective PHP5.3 was released in June 2009 which makes it 9 years old!!! Consider how many updates and bugs have been located since then… the frightening thing is that most of the websites we see still use 5.4, which was released in March 2012 and stopped receiving support September 2015!!!

This is direct from PHP.net;

Supported Versions

Each release branch of PHP is fully supported for two years from its initial stable release. During this period, bugs and security issues that have been reported are fixed and are released in regular point releases.

After this two year period of active support, each branch is then supported for an additional year for critical security issues only. Releases during this period are made on an as-needed basis: there may be multiple point releases, or none, depending on the number of reports.

Once the three years of support are completed, the branch reaches its end of life and is no longer supported.

Currently Supported Versions

Branch Initial Release Active Support Until Security Support Until
5.6
*
28 Aug 2014 3 years, 4 months ago 19 Jan 2017 11 months ago 31 Dec 2018 in 11 months
7.0 3 Dec 2015 2 years ago 3 Dec 2017 30 days ago 3 Dec 2018 in 11 months
7.1 1 Dec 2016 1 year, 1 month ago 1 Dec 2018 in 10 months 1 Dec 2019 in 1 year, 10 months
7.2 30 Nov 2017 1 month ago 30 Nov 2019 in 1 year, 10 months 30 Nov 2020 in 2 years, 10 months

Or, visualised as a calendar:

Today: 2 Jan 2018

PHP Version Support Chart
Current support of PHP Versions

Key

Active support A release that is being actively supported. Reported bugs and security
issues are fixed and regular point releases are made.
Security fixes only A release that is supported for critical security issues only. Releases
are only made on an as-needed basis.
End of life A release that is no longer supported. Users of this release should
upgrade as soon as possible, as they may be exposed to unpatched security
vulnerabilities.

So if you’re using anything other than 7.x you’re in trouble, without regular security updates and patches software becomes troublesome! We always recommend 7 to everyone for the security, but it also comes with other advantages, lets talk about those for a second.

Higher Load Capacity

The upward shift in performance you get from PHP7 is due to the changes in phpng, these changes allowed us to adopt PHP7 smoothly, in fact most of our customers don’t realise they are on PHP7 as its default for new WordPress installs. Along with the performance boost PHP7 is better with memory, it just knows when to let go of the RAM more, meaning your site can run on less resources!

Lets make this more visual!

PHP 5.5

Transactions:              4354 hits
Availability:              100.00 %
Elapsed time:              299.64 secs
Data transferred:          17.23 MB
Response time:             1.21 secs
Transaction rate:          14.53 trans/sec
Throughput:                0.06 MB/sec
Concurrency:               17.59
Successful transactions:   4354
Failed transactions:       0
Longest transaction:       2.04
Shortest transaction:      0.12

HHVM

Transactions:              5256 hits
Availability:              100.00 %
Elapsed time:              299.53 secs
Data transferred:          20.06 MB
Response time:             0.92 secs
Transaction rate:          17.55 trans/sec
Throughput:                0.07 MB/sec
Concurrency:               16.12
Successful transactions:   5256
Failed transactions:       0
Longest transaction:       11.54
Shortest transaction:      0.43

PHP 7

Transactions:              11333 hits
Availability:              100.00 %
Elapsed time:              299.38 secs
Data transferred:          44.84 MB
Response time:             0.16 secs
Transaction rate:          37.85 trans/sec
Throughput:                0.15 MB/sec
Concurrency:               6.16
Successful transactions:   11333
Failed transactions:       0
Longest transaction:       0.77
Shortest transaction:      0.02

As you can see, compared to 5.5, Facebook HHVM is 1.2x faster but PHP7 is 2.6x faster! The speed increase is so easy to see!

PHP7 also comes with a host of new operators and tools suited for developers, which are kindly listed here

Overall, PHP 7 is faster, more secure, and significantly more resource efficient than older versions. To give you an example, a site running PHP 7 can handle twice as many visitors as PHP 5 can, using the same amount of memory. This means your shared hosting plan can take your website further for the same money!

WordPress 4.9, Everything you need to know!

Good Morning,

14th November and WordPress 4.9 has been released, with it a tonne of new features and updates. So let me sum up whats new, what you need to worry about and how to upgrade.

Improvements To Customizer Version Control And Usability

There are two big changes to the WordPress Customizer, as well as one smaller usability tweak.

Save, Schedule, And Share Customizer Changes

In current versions, the only way to save the changes that you make in the WordPress Customizer is to publish them to the live version of your site. That’s fine if you want the changes to go live right away, but it’s not very user-friendly if you’re actively working on some tweaks that you don’t want to share with your visitors just quite yet.

WordPress 4.9 changes things with some awesome new functionality.

First, when you want to save Customizer changes, you can now choose from three different options:

  • Publish – publishes changes right away just like how the Customizer currently functions.
  • Save Draft – saves the current changes as a draft. They won’t go live, but they will stay there until the next time you open the Customizer.
  • Schedule – schedule your changes to go live at a specific time and date.

In that screenshot above, you can also see the second new addition – the Share Preview Link.

This new feature generates a link that you can share with others to preview the changes that you’ve made in the Customizer. The cool thing is that those people don’t need to be Admins at your site. Nor do they even need to have an account!

You can safely share a preview of the changes that you’ve made with absolutely anyone.

These two changes are a massive improvement and make the WordPress Customizer much more viable as a serious website customization tool.

Install WordPress.org Themes Directly From The WordPress Customizer

Another new addition to the WordPress Customizer is the ability to install WordPress.org themes directly from the Customizer.

Now, if you click the Change button next to your active theme in the Customizer:

You’ll get a new option for WordPress.org themes. If you choose that radio select box, you’ll be able to search through WordPress.org themes and install them right from the Customizer:

This one isn’t technically adding new functionality in the grand scheme of things. But it does streamline the process of going from activating a theme to customizing a theme.

Create Menus With A More User-Friendly Interface

Finally, WordPress 4.9 brings a rework of how you create menus from the WordPress Customizer. You’re not really getting any new features – but the team has rearranged the process to be more streamlined and user-friendly.

In case you don’t remember, here’s how the current process starts off:

And here’s what the beginning of the new process looks like in WordPress 4.9:

It’s not a major change, but it’s definitely a bit more user-friendly and eliminates some unnecessary button clicks.

New Gallery Widget + Add Media Button In Text Widget

Beyond the WordPress Customizer, the widget area also got some continued love since the addition of media widgets and visual editing in WordPress 4.8.

Brand New Gallery Widget

Say goodbye to Jetpack, because everyone will have a gallery widget in WordPress 4.9!

Given that WordPress 4.8 introduced an image widget, it only makes sense that WordPress 4.9 enhances that with a new dedicated gallery widget.

It functions pretty much as you’d expect – you drag it over and use the Add Images button to select images from your WordPress media library:

Just as with the core WordPress Gallery functionality, you can choose ordering, sizing, and columns:

And then you’ll have your gallery on the frontend of your site:

Add Media Button + Shortcodes In Text Widget

Another continuation of the changes from WordPress 4.8 is the addition of the Add Media button to the text widget. This only made sense given how WordPress 4.8 added visual editing:

One neat thing is that you can actually use the text widget to create a gallery now thanks to the Add Media button. So the gallery widget is really just a more user-friendly version of this functionality:

Additionally, shortcodes will now render in text widgets by default – no more need to add a filter.

CodeMirror For Syntax Highlighting and Error Checking

The third big visible change in WordPress 4.9 is the introduction of the CodeMirror editor.

If you’re not familiar, CodeMirror is a text editor focused on editing code. It offers a number of features to make the editing experience better, notably:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Live error checking
  • Autocomplete

Starting in WordPress 4.9, CodeMirror will be the editor for:

  • Custom CSS in the WordPress Customizer
  • Editing theme or plugin code from the dashboard editor
  • The custom HTML widget

But before I show you the new editing experience, here’s another minor addition that I stumbled on…

If you try to directly edit your theme’s template files, WordPress now gives you a warning message:

And once you confirm that, you can enjoy the new CodeMirror editing experience:

Additionally, WordPress 4.9 introduces a new API so that developers can easily integrate the CodeMirror editing experience into their own projects.

And if you’re not a fan of the syntax highlighting, you can always turn it off by going to your user profile:

Other Smaller Features Coming In WordPress 4.9

As you’d expect, WordPress 4.9 also brings a number of smaller tweaks and improvements. Some notable changes are:

You can view a list of most of the tweaks here.

What Are You Most Excited For?

And that wraps up our list of what to expect in WordPress 4.9! Beyond the bevy of smaller tweaks, WordPress 4.9 will improve:

  • The WordPress Customizer
  • WordPress widgets
  • The WordPress code editing experience