Honeypot : Some reading for startups

I came across some great articles with advice for startups in my wanders around the Web today. I used to use this blog to dump links in the past. I used to call the Honeypots as they served to distract the mind from what you were doing. I don’t do this much nowadays, as Twitter serves as a better medium for links. But here we are today, with a collection of themed links aimed at startups and entrepreneurs.

These links represent a great collection of hints and experiences. Check them out!

Isle of Man moving to regulate Digital Currencies

It’s nice to see that the Isle of Man is getting its act together with respect to Cryptocurrencies; in fact I’ve just come across a Press Release that states just that. I’m not sure I’m on board with all the measures being suggested, but this matter is still in it’s infancy and I’m sure other influences will change the final position. In the meantime, their FAQ is probably more interesting than the press release itself:

Questions and Answers – Digital Currencies

Definition:  For the purposes of this Q&A the term digital currency is used to cover all forms of electronic currency that does not have legal tender.  Therefore, it covers the digital representation of value that can be traded and functions as a medium of exchange, store of value or unit of account but does not have legal tender status.  Importantly, it is not issued by any jurisdiction but fulfils the above by its recognition by the community of users.

What is the Isle of Man doing?

We are looking to recognise digital currencies as a property, rather than a currency, and apply the appropriate anti-money laundering controls that one would expect of a responsible jurisdiction.  To ignore the problem of such potential criminal activity is to be negligent of the risks.

Aren’t digital currencies associated with crime and money laundering?

There have been a number of instances where digital currencies have been used to facilitate money laundering or have been the subject of other criminal activity.  The Isle of Man recognises the risks as well as the potential of this recent innovation.  As a responsible international partner, we want to ensure that crime is kept out of the Isle of Man and that can only be achieved by ensuring the appropriate anti-money laundering protections exist.

Why is the Isle of Man introducing anti-money laundering controls?

We are receiving enquiries from all over the world.  These are primarily from very credible start-up businesses who want to operate in a controlled manner in a well-respected jurisdiction.  Other, less well-funded start-ups are looking to find any home for their business.  Currently the proposed activities in digital currencies fall outside of anti-money laundering legislation and other forms of regulation and this poses both risks and opportunities. The absence of regulation leaves a window where business could trade from the Isle of Man yet undertake business practices which are at odds with the Island’s stance on anti-money laundering and crime.  We do not feel that this is acceptable or responsible.

Why isn’t the Isle of Man introducing a full prudential regulatory regime if it is concerned?

Industry innovation is moving at a tremendous pace and introducing a full regulatory regime at this time would be both costly and may well be out of date before the rules are enacted.  Further, international standards or restrictions may be introduced as the market develops.  Given the relatively small size of the industry (in comparison with main stream finance sector) we have decided to consider a proportionate anti-money laundering regime which can be implemented in a timely manner, protects the Isle of Man’s reputation and fights crime.

Is the Isle of Man regulating digital currencies?

No, it is intending to include crypto & digital currencies under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2008 and the Designated Business (Registration and Oversight) Bill 2014 to ensure that the activities undertaken are subject to the anti-money laundering legislation.  The same registration and oversight regime that will be applicable to other designated businesses will then apply to digital currency businesses.

What are the standards that the Isle of Man is looking to introduce?

The anti-money laundering registration and oversight regime will ultimately mean that a business in this area will need to register with the Financial Supervision Commission and submit to appropriate reviews to ensure that the business is compliant with the anti-money laundering requirements, is well managed and is run by appropriately skilled and knowledgeable people.

What will the regime look like?

To a large degree the anti-money laundering requirements are already enshrined in legislation.  The Financial Supervision Commission will review the necessary activity to determine whether that legislation has been applied appropriately and proportionately by the business concerned in line with a risk based approach.

When will the rules start to apply?

There will be two stages.  First there will be the inclusion of digital currency activity in Schedule 4 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2008, which will occur later in 2014.  The effect of this will be that such businesses will need to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering Code.  Second will be the inclusion of digital currency activity in the Designated Business (Registration and Oversight) Bill 2014 which is still subject to Tynwald approval and subsequent Royal Assent. It is expected that the Bill will be enacted during the first half of 2015.  When enacted digital currency businesses will be required to register with the Financial Supervision Commission who will become responsible for oversight of their anti-money laundering compliance.

Will companies actually be given a licence to operate by the Financial Supervision Commission?

No, designated businesses registered under the Designated Business (Registration and Oversight) Bill 2014 will not obtain a financial services licence but they will be registered to conduct designated business.

Will banks on the Isle of Man take business from these new start-up businesses involved with digital currencies?

Interested companies should approach local banks to discuss their specific requirements.

Can existing businesses accept payments now in digital currencies?

Companies need to take their own advice on this matter.  What is vital to the Isle of Man is that the consumer is protected at all times.

Is VAT chargeable on the Isle of Man on payments made with digital currencies?

The IOM is in a customs union with the UK and therefore the UK rules apply in respect of VAT.  The UK has already ruled that the activities of mining a digital currency, exchanging it or charging for related transactions will not be subject to VAT.  This is in line with Article 135(1)(d) of the EU VAT Directive.

What would the benefits be to the Isle of Man economy of accepting these businesses?

The Isle of Man recognises innovation in the Financial Services and e-Business sectors and is therefore keen to welcome legitimate Digital Currency businesses provided that they adhere to appropriate controls.  These businesses will bring jobs and income to the Island and create enhanced career opportunities.

Would any placement of digital currencies into an exchange registered on the Isle of Man be protected as it is with a deposit in a bank?

No, the placement of Digital Currency into an exchange is not a deposit, and the deposit protection scheme does not apply.  Therefore, consumer discretion should be exercised due to the risk of loss or failure of the businesses.

Will minimum standards be set for the security systems that these exchanges implement?

No, but as international standards are developing this may be added into any regime in the future.

On a final note, if you’re looking to learn more about Digital Currencies, I’m organising a talk for the JCC next week on just that subject: Bitcoin: An opportunity for the Isle of Man? See you there!

Keeping Staff Productive Through The Winter

Productivity is a constant struggle in the winter when people naturally find it harder to stay focused and work to their full potential. There are many factors that can influence our state of mind and ability to concentrate during the colder months. Managers simply need to be aware of the main things that can impact productivity and disrupt work so that they can put strategies in place to tackle them. You don’t have to make drastic changes or completely change the way your work, you just need to be a little more flexible and plan ahead. Here are some ways to improve staff morale and keep them productive through the winter.

Room Temperature

Room temperature can have a huge impact on staff productivity. Studies have shown that if the temperature is far too hot or too cold productivity drops significantly. Make sure your office is sufficiently heated throughout the winter, don’t leave staff shivering in their office because they won’t get much work done. Staff will often argue about the room temperature because everyone is comfortable at different temperatures, so try and get everyone to agrees on a fair temperature. It’s also worth heating your meeting rooms before you hold a meeting because staff won’t be very productive in a freezing meeting room.


Ensure that your office is well lit, poor lighting can also take its toll on productivity. Dark offices are not great places to work, dull and poorly lit offices can also have an impact on people’s moods. Try and invest in some high quality light bulbs and check that all areas of the office can be well lit when in use. The days are shorter in the winter and it gets dark much earlier in the day, staff will really notice the difference and some strategic lighting can definitely help.

Encourage Physical Exercise

Exercise can also help to improve productivity. Healthy, fit staff will be much more productive and are less likely to take days off sick. Try and encourage staff to go outside and get some fresh air or walk to work. Try and be flexible with staff who are involved in sport so that they can continue to keep fit throughout the winter. Regular exercise can also help to improve sleep and reduce stress.


Try and let some natural light into the office when you can and give staff plenty of breaks so that they can go outside when the sun is out. Some people suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) syndrome in the winter, and having access to natural light can really help.

Bad Weather Plans

When winter comes every business has to deal with bad weather. When it snows and people can’t get into work businesses can face huge disruption. Don’t let the bad weather defeat you, make sure you have a plan in place so that staff know what is expected of them on a snow day. Give them instructions about how to work remotely from home.

Flexible Working Hours

If you can, give staff the opportunity to benefit from flexible working hours. This is especially useful in winter, because people can come in to work when they feel most productive.

Goal Setting & Rewards

People can lose sight of their goals and feel a little disheartened as the weather gets colder. Give them something to come in to work for by setting new goals and remembering to give rewards throughout the winter.

About the author:
Eddie Ordell blogs about recruitment, HR and employee issues from task management to to employee annual leave

Lean Workshop

I took part in a workshop today which was focused on the principle of Lean Process Improvement. For those of you who have never come across the term before the Lean ideology focuses on improving customer value in processes while minimizing waste. There were some interesting bits discussed in the workshop, particularly how lean, while developed for manufacturing sectors, has also been applied to other industries, particulaly the service industry.

The principles of lean center around a 5-step thought process outlined here:

  1. Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
  2. Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
  3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
  4. As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
  5. As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.

If you’re interested in learning more about “Lean”, here are some resources you might find interesting:


Learning about Reverse Mortgages

It’s pretty surprising how many financial instruments there are out there. Some you may be familiar with and some not. That’s particularly the case as different countries have different ideas and products that are introduced from time to time. For example, today I came across Reverse Mortgages, a concept I had never heard of before. It was on a U.S. based website, and I’m not sure if there are similar products here in the British Isles that you can just walk into a financial institution and pick off the shelf.

Here’s how a reverse mortgage works. A reverse mortgage is really just an equity loan secured by your home, designed to defer the mortgage interest. This means that you can borrow a sum of money against the house you’re living in, which will be repaid (together with interest) on your demise or when you decide to move out of the house. You can choose to pay it back at any time, but if you decide not to, it will be down to your heirs or estate to settle the amount after they have sold your house. I don’t know how it works in other countries, but based on what I was reading in the U.S. you have to be 62 years old or older and have substantial equity in your home before you are eligible for a Reverse Mortgage.

So, is a Reverse Mortgage a good idea or not? Well, it all depends on your circumstances I guess. Personally I like the idea that my property will be inherited by my kids, so I would probably never go down that route, but I’m sure there are people out there who would be interested in something like this. I can think of a number of cases, like if there are no heirs, or if someone needs a cash infusion which they are planning to pay off, then it might be just right for them.

The thing about investments and financial products is that you should always get advice from the experts. Find someone who you trust for advice and ask them what they think. And don’t be afraid to get a second opinion either. I don’t consider myself an expert in this field, so would always look to learn more before deciding to embark on something like this. Remember, a perfect solution for one person may not necessarily apply to someone else, as everyone’s circumstances are different.

Make your own T-Shirts with Printed Wardrobe

I was asked by my friends down at Fuel My Blog to review a site where you can create and sell your own clothing. The site is called Printed Wardrobe and to tell you the truth I’ve just spent the last couple of hours playing with their site!

Printed Wardrobe is a website that lets you create your own clothing. Once you have created your design, you can also allow their site to sell them online and earn 10% on every item sold. You can even turn their site into an online store for your design. They do all the hard work, printing the items and shipping them out and you just earn something for every item they sell. They have several items of clothing, but also supply a range of accessories, including iPad covers, phone covers, cushions and bags.

The user interface to create your own items is pretty good. You get upload your own photos or use a selection of clipart they have available. You can also add any text you like in any way you can possibly imagine. I spent quite some time putting together a hoodie I could have got for my wife (shown alongside), but didn’t actually buy it as I’m not sure she would like it. Coming to think of it, I don’t think I’d be up for walking around with photos of my family plastered all over my body, but hey, it was a great subject to see how their website works.

Besides making your own designs, you can also choose from designs that other people have created. I ended up buying this T-Shirt which I think would go down a treat for anyone with access to Facebook at work 😉 Purchasing a garment is also good fun. They have a selection of different clothing styles and you get to choose colours and sizes. With every choice, a preview of your item is generated so you can see exactly what you’re getting.

If you decide to go ahead and buy something, I even have a treat for you. If you use the following code: DESIGN20, you get a 20% discount on your purchase. The coupon is valid till the end of September 2011.

Right, I think I’m going back to playing with the site now. Thinking of making a T-shirt for our Social Media Club …

UPDATE: You can get your Social Media Club T-shirt here