Barclays telephone banking: Barclays Bank has launched the first nationwide telephone banking service for small businesses. The service will initially be offered to the bank’s small-business sole traders, but it will be made available to all 500 000 small-business customers in due course. Called Barclays BusinessCall, the service will be manned from 7am to 11pm on weekdays and from 9am to 5pm at weekends, all year round. The service will deal with a range of day-to-day transactions, including account and balance enquiries, paying bills, transferring funds between accounts and setting up and amending standing orders. A Barclays spokesman says the BusinessCall service “has been designed to complement, not replace, the services provided by the bank’s 2000-strong branch network”. Sole traders interested in finding out more should call Freephone 0800 900 921.

Book update: The sixth edition of best-selling book Project Management has been launched. Dennis Lock’s tome covers the project management process from initial appraisal to the end of the job. Publisher Gower claims the book has been “thoroughly revised and extended” to reflect current practices and technology. The book retails at 42.50 for the hardback and 19.95 for the paperback.

Certification body aids small businesses: A registered certification body has launched a new initiative aimed at aiding small firms gain the ISO 9000 quality standard. QA International Certification, a UKAS and Department of Trade and Industry registered body, has developed The Small Firms Certification Scheme in the light of findings from a two-year research project by the University of Teeside.

Findings revealed that smaller businesses were being left behind in getting accreditation for ISO 9000. “The Small Firms Accreditation Scheme provides a route to achieving ISO 9000 in four progressive stages,” says a QA International spokesman. “The concept of the scheme is to create an environment in which the owners of small enterprises may be encouraged to take up opportunities to develop efficient and prosperous businesses, working at their own pace and without the need for expensive consultants,” says a QA spokesman.

Victims of crime: More than half of small businesses have been the victims of crime in the last two years, according to a nationwide survey for Business Pages. Nearly a quarter of the 400 companies questioned by NOP Corporate and Financial had experienced crime over a particular three-month period, with the average business suffering five crimes over the past two years.

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