With every new year comes new opportunities. Some call it a fresh start, others a chance to put the past behind us, or the perfect time to start something new. It is also commonly the starting point for many good intentions, eg: quit smoking, stop drinking, start working out, stop being lazy, cook everything from scratch, be a better husband/wife/girlfriend/person, etc.

However good our intentions may be – statistics show that many new years resolution cruise through January only to come to a crashing halt in February. The problem, it seems, is that many start to extreme. If you have been smoking 30 a day for 5 years going cold turkey can prove a bit difficult.

Here are our tips to making your goals achievable, to make your good intentions come to life.  Read more

Boxing Day, the day after Christmas day, got its name from the tradition of giving servants and tradespeople gifts on this day – known as a Christmas box – from their boss or their employer. The day is observed as a bank holiday in most Commonwealth nation, but known by other names too. In South Africa it is called Day of Goodwill, and in Roman Catholic tradition it is known as St. Stephen’s Day. Elsewhere, e.g. in Scandinavia, the day is simply known as the Second Day of Christmas.

These days the term Boxing Day has little of its original meaning left, as very few of us have servants. Instead, the day is becoming one of the big shopping days of the year – when the shops start their sale and Christmas presents are to be returned. This is especially true in north America, but Boxing Day sales are becoming more and more common elsewhere too. In England, the day is primarily known for its sporting events – both Premier League Football, the Scottish PRemiership and the Northern Ireland Premiership have a full program of matches on this day – as do the rugby leagues. It is also an important day in the hunting calendar in the UK and the US, and for Cricket in Australia.

Regardless of where you are – Boxing Day is a day to get out of the house and engage in other activities. In many countries Boxing Day eve is the first evening where it is appropriate to leave family behind and meet up with friends, a much needed break from crowded homes and close families. Have a look at our suggestions and see which you prefer – whatever you do, some air and space may be just what you need to last through the rest of the holiday with all family members intact.

Go for a walk

A brisk walk, a slow walk, uphill or indoors in a shopping mall – take your pick. Fresh air and some gentle movement is good not only for your temper but for your body too, following days of rich Christmas foods and drinks.

Go skiing

If you are spending the holidays in snowy parts of the world, put your skis on and head out. Skiing is the perfect holiday activity and is bound to leave you exhausted in a very good way.

Go to the cinema

Hollywood tend to plan their big releases around Boxing Day – book your family tickets and spend some quality time together without the need for talking. Our best suggestions – The Imitation Game, The Hobbit or The Theory of Everything.

Go shopping

Not for the faint-hearted, but if the shops are open you might want to go have look in the sales and return presents. Many ‘experts’ say you should avoid the beginning of the sales, but they tend to get more crowded later on due to bigger reductions and less family obligations, so you might just be better off going today.

What do you normally do on Boxing Day? Let us know in the comments. We plan to go sledging!

What will make payment apps work? Anyone following the teensiest amount of tech news will have seen the past year’s abundance of payment apps emerging, with the likes of PayPal, Apple, Google and mobile network provider EE all offering ways to pay using an app or simply a phone. Allegedly, to benefit the user. To liberate us from our plastic cards, to make payments easier and more efficient for the consumer. Read more

Here’s our unofficial (but pretty accurate) tongue-in-cheek guide on how to be a tech-startup (or at least, look the part!).

  1. Laidback dress code. No suits allowed! But glam-hipster is unspokenly encouraged – effortlessly stylish is the Shoreditch uniform, and Shoreditch is the (self)proclaimed centre of the British start-up world.
  2. ‘Chill-zones’ in the office. Yeah yeah, desks are all well and good. But you seriously need a beanbag. Preferable a Fatboy – but old school bean bags are just about acceptable (Our tip – they are the next big thing because they are retro!)
  3. Activity zones in the office. As well as chilling physically, you simply Must have at least one wacky sport/game available to the employees. Ping pong is good – twister is good, old arcade games are super cool but can be anti social. TV-games are ok – as long as the games are chosen carefully – think Super Mario, not WoW. Choose with care!
  4. Untraditional office layout. Reception area, lift, hallway offices? Pffft -that’s, like, so corporate. A true start-up would choose a cheaper space, e.g. an old factory building with exposed brickwork, high ceilings, big, industrial style windows, staircases on the outside of the building (having them inside is fine, but just a bit..expected!).
  5. Flat structure. Start-ups and hierarchy are as incompatible as water and grease. There is only one level, no one with more power than others. At least on paper.
  6. Pretentious coffee. Still drinking Nescafé? Throw it out and sign your office up to a barista class immediately. Start-ups drink fancy coffee. Micro roasts, aero-press, cream and aroma are all words that should go into your vocabulary immediately.
  7. Exceptional self-belief. Start-ups have to be passionate – your product or service is the best there is. Enthusiasm and big dreams are important!

It’s not easy being a start-up. It requires a high amount of cool, chequered shirts, stylish jeans, well groomed hair, geeky-gorgeous glasses. It also requires big offices with loads of free space (for your ping pong table, duh) and a fancy coffee counter.

At Loyalzoo? We’re not quite there yet. Whilst we have tons of enthusiasm, our style is heavier on the laid-back than on the hipster-glam and we are in serviced offices. The coffee on offer is instant (but we also have builders brew). Because we’re in London the lack of space is noticeable – we have a cozy fit in the office. We don’t have games and rely on lifts to move vertically (there aren’t stairs, so this is not by choice – we’re not that lazy).

How does your start-up look like?

Tomorrow, the 6th of December, is Small Business Saturday. A day dedicated to celebrate, support and inspire small businesses. Small and medium sized enterprises (defined as having fewer than 250 employees) make up 99% of the total number of business in the country. Of these, an astonishing 96% are micro-businesses, with between 0 and 9 employees. These account for a third of all employment in Britain, and nearly a fifth of total turnover. Those are some pretty impressive numbers – micro businesses are a vital part of our economy.

By supporting small businesses, ie. by shopping them instead of in the big brands, you give directly back to the community. Up to 70p per £1 spent in an independent shop goes straight back to the local community – benefitting not only you, but also your neighbourhood. In addition, small business bring great variety to our high streets, which otherwise would be identical copies of each other, with the same big brands everywhere.

As well as the financial, societal, reasons to shop locally, are tons of other perks. Independent shops are more often than not led by people who have a passion for retail and the products they sell – there is a reason they set up shop after all. In micro-businesses in particular, you can expect the staff to be more involved, more knowledgeable and more engaged with the business and its customers. In huge branches of global brands this is harder to come by – the employees are just there to earn a living, few of them have the enthusiasm for the brand, the product or it customers.
Go into your local butcher and ask for some help choosing your meat and chances are you’ll get an informed, useful answer. Likewise if you go in to a gift shop – ask the owner for some help choosing and you’re likely to be taken good care of. In my experience, shop owners love it when people show interest in their products. You will have much better shopping experience and you’ll contribute towards your community.

So why not make life a little easier for yourself this December – avoid the huge brands, the big sweaty queues camouflaged as streets (I’m talking to you, Oxford Street) and take instead a relaxing stroll around the independent shops in your area? You might come across brands and products you haven’t seen before, a new favourite café or a great design shop. And rest assured that the money you spend are put to good use, feeding back into the area and the people who live there.

You can find more information about the initiative on https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/
On Twitter: @SmallBizSatUK and on Facebook: www.facebook/SmallBusinessSaturdayUK.