Small Business Saturday Blog

Small Business Saturday App!

Thursday, October 19 at 13:21


Small Business Saturday App! 

We have launched our new App and it is available to download now from the app stores at

Offering Small Businesses the chance to be seen by thousands nationwide, the Small Business Finder also ensures that customers can always find their local small biz at the click of a button. 

Current offers and discounts can be linked to businesses and events advertised too, all for free.







The Importance of Customer Service

Thursday, October 12 at 09:00




Over the last decade the great British high street has become a place of uncertainty for many small businesses. The effects of the recent recession and a move towards online shopping have meant even some high street giants such as Mothercare and Jaegar have struggled to stay afloat.

The rise in Internet shopping has most certainly resulted in the reduction of footfall on the high street as people increasingly look for speed and convenience in a retail experience. However, the ceremony surrounding a leisurely day out browsing the local shops is lost online, as is the ability to easily discuss a purchase with knowledgeable staff. The advantage small high street businesses have over their online counterparts lies in recognising the importance of excellent customer service and ensuring that they create an enjoyable shopping experience fuelled by more than purely a desire to sell.  

As a jewellery store, customers come to us looking for a variety of items or services, be it a special gift for a loved one, an engagement ring for a perfectly planned proposal or a simple watch repair. At the heart of our ethos is excellent customer service and we believe that this is one of the reasons our business has thrived for 70 years.

Good customer service expectations will vary depending on what you are purchasing, but there are some basic rules that can help to ensure when someone walks through your door they enjoy the best retail experience possible.

Adapt and react
Although on one hand ignoring visitors to your store is a big no, many shops can put off customers by being a little too pushy and enthusiastic with their communication. People often need time to soak in their environment and feeling like they are being watched or engaging in unwanted communication can result in a quick exit.

Remember that each customer is different and will therefore be after different things in their required service. Generally speaking if someone is standing in your shop looking a little lost, or has glanced your way a few times, it is a good idea to go over and ask them if you can help in any way. The best way to ensure you keep people coming back is to be alert, treat each customer as an individual and not adapt a one size fits all approach to customer care.

Be an expert in your field
One of the biggest benefits of shopping the high street is the ability to easily take advantage of the knowledge of the staff. From the one day a week Saturday temp to your store manager, educating your staff about your product, company ethos and customer service policy is vital. They are the face of your brand so it is important that they can confidently answer questions and deal with any queries quickly and efficiently.
Small businesses thrive on positive word on mouth. If what you are selling is quality, your customer service excellent and staff members knowledgeable, your reputation will grow and customers will start to seek you out.  


About the Author - Richard Warrender is a Director at independent jewellery business, Warrenders. Having celebrated their platinum anniversary this year, the family-run firm understands that quality jewellery and excellent customer service are amongst the reasons that it has remained a firm favourite on the high street for 70 years.



Sign up today for free business mentoring!

Wednesday, October 04 at 13:47



Sign up now for free business mentoring on the Small Business Saturday 
Bus Tour!

The Small Business Saturday Bus Tour has launched a new one-to-one mentorship programme this year and sessions are now open to sign up for free mentoring! 

Mentors will be from local communities so the mentee has a local helping hand to call on and each session will last for 1 hour on board the Small Business Saturday Tour Bus. 

Prior to your session, you will be sent a short questionnaire to complete so we can match you up to the right mentor. 
Sessions are free of charge but very limited so book now!

To register for mentoring for your business:

  • Sign in to your 'My Small Business' account. 
  • Click on the 'Bus Tour mentoring tab' in your profile. 
  • Select the available stop you wish to register for from the drop down box.
  • Click 'Save' and your session will be booked. 
  • Confirmation email will be sent. 

Mentoring is available at most stops but please check the list for specific availability. 

The bus will be visiting 29 different towns and cities from October 23rd to November 24th (see below) and will provide advice and information to all small businesses, as well as some hands-on activities for the public to promote local support for the campaign.  

Bus Tour 2017 list  

Please contact:
if you are interested in becoming a mentor.

We look forward to seeing you at one of the many stops throughout the UK! 

The Small Business Saturday Team 

5 Ideas to Improve your Time Management

Thursday, September 28 at 09:00





“The bad news is time flies.  The good news is you’re the pilot.” 

Always running out of time?  It’s a problem many of us have, and small businesses owners often lack staff to delegate to, so find themselves taking on every task single-handedly.  It’s a juggling act, but there are techniques you can use to manage your time more effectively, and while this won’t necessarily lighten the load, it will help you focus on the most important tasks to make the best use of the time you have each day. 

Here are a few tried and tested methods for time management: 


This method is designed to provide you with maximum focus and creative freshness, enabling you to get projects created faster, with less mental fatigue. 

You work for 25 minutes, then break for 5 minutes.   Each 25 minute period is called a “pomodoro” (Italian for ‘tomato’) because the inventor used his kitchen timer which was shaped like a tomato – but you could use your phone instead! 

After 4 pomodoros have passed (100 minutes of work with 15 minutes of break time), you then take a 15-20 minute break. 

The periods of focussed work with frequent short breaks helps avoid distractions such as Facebook, checking your email, making a cup of tea etc breaking into your flow of work…you save those for the 5 minute breaks! 


Time boxing is simply fixing a time period to work on a task or group of tasks. 
If you are procrastinating a task, don’t try to complete it, time box it – allow a set period to get some of it done, then if you’ve not completed it you can set another time box for the rest of the job.  If you have a series of little, annoying tasks, set a time slot to get a number done. 

Time boxing works if you are an expert in perfectionism.  If you consistently carry on with tasks, redoing over and over, and wonder where all your time goes, then time boxing is for you – you set the deadline. 

  1. Eat the frog! 

If you had to eat a live frog every day, you could be pretty sure that nothing you did for the rest of the day would be as bad. 

Do you find yourself putting off your least favourite task?  Make a to-do list each day, and circle the ‘frog’ – the job you’re most likely to procrastinate:  maybe it’s the most unpleasant, difficult or just very time consuming – then tackle that task first. 

It’s tempting to do the smaller or simpler activities first, but by doing this you risk running out of time for the larger more complex tasks, and they just get put off to the next day.  Start each day by eating a frog and you’ll find yourself energised by having accomplished a major task. 


  1. The Pareto Principle (80:20 rule) 
This states that 80% of results will come from 20% of your efforts – use this idea to identify which 20% of your workload is going to produce the most gain, and focus your time on that. 

  1. Outsource 

If you’ve employed all these techniques and are still struggling, consider outsourcing some tasks.  Entrepreneurs have to be ‘jacks of all trades’ to run their own businesses, but you may find that for certain tasks, a specialist can do the job in half the time.  When considering the cost, think about what your own time is worth and factor in the value of other things you could be doing in that time. 

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” 

Guest blog by: Michelle Collins. 

Michelle Collins owns Pink Spaghetti Chester and North Wales. Dedicated to going the extra mile for her clients Michelle quickly earned a great reputation and is now in her third year of trading and is growing her own team.
Proactive, flexible and a strong ability to problem solve Michelle undertakes a variety of work for a wide range of business sectors. Research, admin, invoicing, social media campaigns and decluttering are regular tasks on her to-do list which help her clients find time to further develop their business or spend more time pursuing a more leisurely lifestyle.  If your business or home “to do” list seems never ending, Michelle will be delighted to help you gain control.
Organised, friendly and discreet, Pink Spaghetti Chester and North Wales is the ideal company to provide you with PA services in Chester and North Wales or to get help from a virtual personal assistant.
·         Web:                http://www.pink-spaghetti.co.uk
·         LinkedIn:         in/michellecollinspspag/
·         Twitter:            https://twitter.com/Michelle_PSpag
·         YouTube:       channel/UCJMAN7JhMeIksaKux6AV9kw
·         Instagram:     michelle_pinkspaghetti/
·         Facebook:      PSChester/
·         Google+        109545179990303628618


The Small Business Saturday Bus Tour launches across the UK for its fifth year!

Monday, September 18 at 15:22

Small Business Saturday are pleased to announce the launch of the Bus Tour for 2017! 
The bus will be visiting 29 different towns and cities and launching the brand new Small Business Saturday mentoring programme, supporting small businesses one-to-one, with advice directly from their peers. Small Business Saturday is recruiting experienced business mentors in all locations and small businesses will be able to sign up on the campaign website from the beginning of October.
Also debuting this year is the “Small Business Saturday Blue Sofa” where interviews and exclusive Q&A sessions will be live streamed via Facebook Live.
Beginning at Dundee on October 23rd, the bus tour travels up and down the country with stops including Lisburn, Cardiff, Lowestoft and the Isle of Wight before finishing in Brighton on November 24th. The tour will provide advice and information to all small businesses as well as some hands-on activities for the public to promote local support for the campaign. Full list of stops is below:

Bus Tour 2017



Week 1
Date
Location
Arrive
Depart
Mon 23rd Oct
Dundee
10:00
14:00
Tue 24th Oct
Edinburgh
10:00
14:00

Prestwick
16:00
16:30
Wed 25th Oct
Lisburn
10:00
14:00
Thu 26th Oct
Belfast
10:00
14:00
Fri 27th Oct
Dumfries
10:00
14:00
Week 2
Date
Location
Arrive
Depart
Mon 30th Oct
Sunderland
10:00
14:00
Tue 31st Oct
Lancaster
10:00
14:00
Wed 1st Nov
York
10:00
14:00

Selby
15:00
16:00
Thu 2nd Nov
Brigg
10:00
14:00
Fri 3rd Nov
Rochdale
10:00
14:00
Week 3
Date
Location
Arrive
Depart
Mon 6th Nov
Bangor
10:00
14:00
Tue 7th Nov
Stoke
10:00
14:00
Wed 8th Nov
Birmingham
10:00
14:00

Studley
15:00
16:00
Thu 9th Nov
Hereford
10:00
14:00
Fri 10th Nov
Barry Island
09:00
09:30

Cardiff
10:00
14:00
Week 4
Date
Location
Arrive
Depart
Mon 13th Nov
Leicester
10:00
14:00
Tue 14th Nov
Stevenage
10:00
14:00
Wed 15th Nov
Lowestoft
10:00
14:00
Thu 16th Nov
Maldon
10:00
14:00
Fri 17th Nov
London
10:00
14:00
Week 5
Date
Location
Arrive
Depart
Mon 20th Nov
Plymouth
10:00
14:00
Tue 21st Nov
Taunton
10:00
14:00
Wed 22nd Nov
Reading
10:00
14:00
Thu 23rd Nov
Ryde, Isle of Wight
10:00
14:00
Fri 24th Nov
Brighton
10:00
14:00



Logos and posters will be available to download from the website: www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com from end of September and can be displayed online or on premises. Posters can also be collected from your local bus stop on the tour. Businesses around the country can also upload information to the ‘My Small Business Finder’ on the website (www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.comon what special events or promotional offers they will be running for Small Business Saturday. 

More information on Small Business Saturday can also be found on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page: (www.facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturdayuk) and Twitter feed (@SmallBizSatUk).

5 minute interview with Nick Entwistle from One Minute Briefs

Thursday, September 14 at 06:50


We sat down with one of our Smalbiz100 this year, Nick Entwistle from One Minute Briefs  to learn about what makes the perfect pitch, how to get your story across when speaking and learn about his journey to becoming a successful business. 


What inspired you to start your business?  

The great thing about OMB is that it never started as a business. It turned into one. 
It began by generating and sharing quick thoughts and that has always remained true through all of the changes in the past few years. As the business has grown, it's the people and social community we have built that inspires me to keep growing it every day. 

What was your biggest challenge when starting your business?  

The biggest challenge is to commercialise something that didn't start that way without alienating your audience. 
That's why I always look to reward our following as much as possible for their continued involvement. That is absolutely key to maintaining the integrity of One Minute Briefs. 

What are your top tips on the perfect pitch? 

Standing out. Being different to the next person is extremely important. The work quality has to match but you need to have an edge over your competition. 

What advice would you give someone nervous about pitching?  

Make sure you are passionate about your ideas. Tell great stories associated with the content of your pitch and be yourself. 

Who would you most like pitch to?  

Dragon's Den. 

About One Minute Briefs:  
One Rule. One Minute. Create an ad. 
We promote brands and causes via social media by challenging our creative community on Twitter to respond to a brief in One Minute and reward the best ideas. When they publish their ideas, they are shared by ourselves and their followers which creates a snowball effect generating hundreds of thousands of impressions per day which is all positive advertising content for the client. This enables the brand to engage with a large audience very quickly and cost effectively. It is also a great tool for educational workshops, talks, events and is a popular social network for the creative industry. 

Say Hello to the 2017 Small Business Saturday Champions

Thursday, August 31 at 16:15Small Biz 100 | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday Uk Champion

Small Business Saturday is pleased to announce its champions for the 2017 campaign!

The Small Business Saturday Champions are previous members of the Small Biz 100 that help to promote the campaign in their local areas, broadening the reach of the campaign and strengthening their local small business community.

They are already hard at work planning B2B events, Christmas markets, live-streamed interviews and much more! Please contact comms@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com if you would like to connect with a champion in your area.

Lee Parker, Parker Sourcing, Greater Manchester
Yvonne Gorman, Essential Print Services, Derbyshire
Alison Edgar, Sales Coaching Solutions, Wiltshire
Becky Sebright, Lady Bakewell Park, Essex
Alice Malcolm-Green, Wick & Tallow, Greater London
Adam Balfour, Buffoon Film & Media, Neath Port Talbot
Elaine Pritchard, Caittom Publishing, Staffordshire
Rich Brady, Recruit Packs, Denbighshire
Karina Pedomo, Quick Brown Fox, Greater London
Faye Dicker, Freelance Mum, Somerset
Russell Pullan and Albert Chau, Fifth Dimension Chocolates, Greater London
Sara Parker, Face for Business, Lancashire
Ruth Pringle, Pringle Accountants, Lancashire
Bala Croman, The Chocolate Cellar, Merseyside
Gail Bryden, JustBe Botanicals, City of Edinburgh
Alistair Bell, Muddy Farm Models, County Antrim
Rowena Howie, Revival Retro, Greater London
Precious Jason, Etieno Skincare, Greater London
Sanjay Aggarwal, Spice Kitchen, Birmingham
Jo Smedley, Red Herring Games, Lincolnshire
Claire Hearn, Rose & Olive, Kent
Hayley Williams, Keystone Marketing, Oxfordshire
Liz Wilson, Ma Baker, Greater London
Sam Hale, Advance Performance, Cambridgeshire
Colleen Wong, TechSixtyFour, Greater London
Martha Keith, Love Give Ink, Greater London
Carolyn Frank, Libby Butler Jewellers, Yorkshire
Rachel Gilbertson Roxiie's Treasures Liverpool






5 ways to save money on your business energy

Tuesday, August 29 at 16:16Small Biz 100 | Small Business Saturday

Reducing the cost of energy bills was big news during the recent General Election campaign with both the Conservatives and Labour setting out plans to cap prices in their manifestos. However, it may well be some time now before those changes filter through to benefit small businesses.

Whether you’re running a workshop, office or retail unit, utility costs can mount up for small business owners who are keen to make energy savings. According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, SMEs already spend £15bn a year on energy.

The good news is that there are some straightforward ways to reduce your business energy costs. Here are some tips to get you started…

Chill out 

Check that your heating and air conditioning aren’t set to the same temperature and on at the same time. Heating and lighting swallow up energy! The settings on the two systems should be around four degrees apart. Thermostats should be set lower in corridors and store rooms than in offices. It’s also worth paying attention to the layout of your workspace to make sure radiators aren’t being blocked by furniture and to make the most of natural light. Moving the furniture around could make a big difference. Thermal tape can be used to draft proof single-glazed windows and door frames.

Conserve your energy 

Make staff aware that you’re keeping an eye on energy consumption and encourage them with a polite reminder to ‘turn of the lights’ when they leave in the evening. Simple steps like switching off lights in spaces when they’re not is use can save over £100 a year. You could use this saving to change your lights to energy efficient ones such as LED light bulbs rather than halogen or fluorescent light sources and save even more cash whilst helping the environment!

Energy proof your technology 

Energy saving measures can quickly become habit with some thought and discipline. Turning off unused mobile phone chargers and switching off your GPS and Bluetooth can make a difference. Did you know that 46 per cent of electricity used in offices is outside of standard operating hours? Make sure that monitors, copiers and vending machines are also all switched off when not in use.

Shop around 

Loyalty, ease and a lack of time can all be reasons why many of us avoid switching energy suppliers, however there are big savings to be made for small business owners who change their suppliers to access a better tariff. Whilst it might sound like a headache, it’s a quick and easy process if done through a broker and the average company could potentially save up to £1000 a year off their bill if they compare business energy. Comparison websites are a useful online tool for finding the deal that best suits your needs and can save you money.

Upgrade outdated equipment

Replace energy-guzzling equipment with star appliances. For example, heaters and air conditioners that are not working at maximum efficiency can draw unnecessary power and end up costing your business money.

About the author: Steph Salusbury is the Channel Manager for Insurance and Energy at Businesscomparison.com. Steph has vast experience within the energy industry, previously working at Moneysupermarket.com for 9 years on sales, operations & commercial. Businesscomparison.com is a free online comparison site for small and medium sized businesses to compare deals on energy, finance, business bank accounts and insurance.

Establishing a Small Business through Online Branding

Wednesday, August 16 at 15:06Branding | Getting Online | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Social Media

Beating out the competition in the small business world takes more than just telling others on the street about what you have to offer. You have to create maximum exposure by being accessible on online platforms. By doing so, you better establish your business identity and brand.

Building an online brand is important for a number of reasons. It creates awareness for what your small business stands for. If consumers want to learn about the product you offer, they should be able to access information about it from anywhere. You can also gather a larger following by reaching out to the online community. Lastly, the process of establishing an online presence enables you to gain credibility. If consumers see your business online, they can navigate your site and infer that yours is a legitimate company.

The first step in establishing an online brand for your company is picking a domain name. Many companies underestimate the power of choosing a URL that differentiates them from the competition. A brandable domain name might directly reference aspects of your business, but it doesn’t have to specify what it entails. In the long term, the domain name can build brand value. You will want to check that a name is not already registered before you choose one. Make sure the domain name is user-friendly and short in that it is easy to spell and say. You will also want to make it unique and credible in order to set yourself apart from your competitors.

When establishing your brand online, It is important to have a clear understanding of your target audience. Prior to coming up with content strategies, utilize research tools to identify your audience. Google Analytics will help you figure out the demographic most interested in what you have to offer. Google also offers an acquisition feature which points out how users found your site. You will be able to see if they typed the URL directly into their browser or if they were connected to you through social media or a search engine. Knowing this information will allow you to determine which online marketing channel is most effective.

After identifying your audience, you can work on making your business stand out by creating a brand that consumers will remember. Having an eye-catching logo that can be used on all online platforms and marketing materials will mean customers will attach your small business with a visual. It should give consumers an idea of the product you represent. Also create a business slogan and tagline that stands out. A tagline is a phrase that lets your visitors know who you are right when they click on your site. You will want it to be placed on all your marketing materials. This builds recognition which is key in gaining customers for your small business.

When you build your company website, be personable and accessible by having a home page with an introduction. You’ll want to establish your online brand from the get-go by telling visitors about what you offer and how it will benefit them. Make sure you have a subscriber button on the homepage so users can immediately opt to learn more about your small business.

To directly help sales and marketing efforts, dedicate part of your website to reviews since they can have a significant impact on sales.. Allow customers to share their experience with your product. This content can then be shared on social media where others can see that your small business delivers on what is promised. Enabling customer reviews also positively affects search rankings in search engines. Reviews increase the amount of unique content your site offers giving you a better chance at moving up in ranking.

Social media is an online marketing platform that is free and gives you instant access to consumers. Make sure that you have social icons on each page of your website. All of your social media pages should consistently feature your brand. This will make your business more memorable in potential buyers’ minds. Consumers also like to see and hear about businesses. Posting podcasts or having segments featured on a YouTube channel can build a personal relationship with your target audience. This fosters trust and increases your credibility.

Another online tool you can utilize when trying to spread the word about your small business is blogging. This heightens your visibility. Your search engine rank will improve as you expand to posting content on blogging sites. It also works to help establish a direct relationship with customers in order to gain valuable feedback. Don’t be afraid to share content from experts in your industry. Online consumers will find you more trustworthy if they see you are up to speed on all aspects of your product.

Lastly, stay engaged with your consumers. This is key in building a strong presence online. Use tools such as HootSuite which will notify you when someone mentions your brand. You should respond to comments made about what your small business has to offer. This will show customers you are concerned with their needs and will help spread the word about your business.

Guest blog contributed by Sarah Elizabeth Saker

Get by with a little help from a friend

Thursday, July 27 at 11:07

By Michelle Ovens MBE, Director, Small Business Saturday 


Much as I love running my small businesses, and of course working with small businesses, it cannot be denied – sometimes it is just BLOOMIN HARD WORK! Not to start out this article with a big old moan - do not get me wrong, the ups massively out-weigh the downs - but it is nice when we can make the downs a little less difficult to handle.

It is easy to have your head down in your business for all challenges to feel like they are the whole world, and forget that actually, probably, someone else has had your problems before you. And come out the other side relatively unscathed. What is it about small businesses that we forget to ask the more experienced among us for help? Are we just stubborn? Do we want to make life difficult for ourselves? Is there a British stiff upper lip that tells us we should soldier on and it’s just not cricket to reach out for support? Or a sense that surely someone else would not be interested in my problems….

Well I say cobblers to that. I see the small business community, all 5.5 million of them, as one big supportive collaborative community that can only be made stronger and more resilient by helping each other. And I know I am not alone here! We ran a round table with Indeed last December and all the (fantastic, successful, strong, capable) small businesses around the table said what they could really do with is a little help from a friend. There is a strong and un-met desire for mentoring in the small business community that we absolutely need to tackle to be the best we can be as an economy and as local and national communities.

This basic need for a helping hand cuts across all areas of being a business owner: how to grow, financing, staffing, leadership and possibly most importantly, mental health. When working in a big business environment, it is often obvious who you would turn to for advice – HR, finance, your boss – but less so if you are the ultimate boss yourself. So finding more experienced bosses to advise you becomes absolutely critical if you don’t want to flounder or fall.

A good mentor will recognise the spectrum of needs across the business (mostly because they have been there before). More than that – they will recognise the fear and stress you feel when facing these issues, and want to help you minimise these for yourself. They will know the pitfalls and help you avoid them, much like a parent that points to the crossing sign and says, go on green. Mental health in small businesses is getting more and more focus, with the sector recognising the strain that running a business can place on individuals. If we want a strong business community, we need to recognise where we have weaknesses – and bolster them from within.

We need better mentoring in the UK – and we need a LOT more of it. I have not met a single small business that would not offer advice to others if asked. I have not met one that wouldn’t accept it if they knew where to find it. So in response to this we are starting, in a small way, to address this challenge by offering free mentoring on the Small Business Saturday bus tour this year. At each of 25 stops across the UK, mentors will be available to sit down with small businesses and discuss their challenges – and help them find a way to solve them. It might not be solved right away and there and then, but it will be the start of a conversation and a mentoring relationship that will stimulate more conversations over the coming year.

This mentoring challenge needs to be taken up by everyone with a stake in the small business sector. And since there are 16.5 million people running or working in a small business in the UK, the chances are that you or someone you live with or are related to is part of this. So – that is all of us. Whether you are a local council, government, trade organisation, media, customer or friend, think about how you can play a role in sharing your knowledge, or helping others to share theirs.

Because whether we are talking economically or socially, we could all get by a bit better with a little help from a friend.





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