Small Business Saturday Blog

Exporting - not just for the big!

Wednesday, May 09 at 13:26

Exporting. It sounds big. Freight containers, customs, overseas buyers and the unknown. It all sounds daunting and expensive. Little wonder only 11% of UK businesses sell outside the UK.  Why would you do it when it takes so much time and effort? Why not just do more business here at home?
Because there are huge opportunities for small businesses too!
Here’s the skinny. Research shows that exporting not only makes your business more productive, innovative and profitable, but it can also make it more resilient to downturns*. That’s because accessing new markets allows you to generate new sources of revenue, new opportunities and new challenges. It also allows a business to maximise its production capability, generates jobs and helps keep a surplus in the UK’s balance of trade – all of which contributes to a healthier economy.
Admittedly exporting isn’t for everyone. You need to be ready, willing and able. Even then it doesn’t come without its challenges. You might need to modify your product or packaging, you’ll have to identify the best route to market and perhaps adapt to new distributions channels. You might also need new quality accreditations.
The following also represents some of the big things to get in place before you start:
Exporting will have an impact on your time and capital, so making sure these are available is vital. Ideally you’ll already have a budget that can be allocated to export-led growth activities, but chances are as an SME you’ll need to find an additional source of finance. Options include grant funding, equity finance (seed investment, angel investment and venture capital), debt finance (business loans), trade and cash flow finance (letter of credit, bank guarantees, performance bonds, invoice and purchase order finance), tax credits and crowdfunding.
Plans and research
Failing to plan is planning to ….yes, we all know the saying… but it’s important:
i. Make sure you have a solid business plan
ii. Prioritise your export markets - it’s one of the first steps to developing a successful export strategy. It means doing a proper market selection study so you can focus your resources on markets most likely to give you the strongest return.
iii. Finally, once you’ve identified your target market, you need to research and analyse it. Look at your competitors, business challenges and your company’s competitive differentiators. Your market research should contain your best and most clear description of the current state of the marketplace you are targeting.
Finding customers
This can be one of the most challenging aspects of exporting. It involves trawling business directories and lists of exhibitors at relevant trade shows, as well as going to trade shows and networking events.
There’s a lot to do, but you can get advice from your bank, accountant or lawyer or your local Chambers of Commerce. The Department forInternational Trade (DIT) can also help with all of it. DIT has a dedicated team of International Trade Advisers (ITAs) who will help you throughout your export journey. From helping with your export strategy through to pointing you in the direction of key market and sector information. They’ll help you find overseas partners, understand e-commerce and even sometimes help with the cost of exporting by giving access to funding.
Exporting is definitely a journey. It’s a way to grow and strengthen your business. But it’s not something you have to do on your own. In fact, the more help you can get, the better.
Marco Simon is an International Trade Adviser (ITA) for The Department for International Trade East of England office. Find out about how an ITA in your region could help you by contacting your regional DIT office
*Source: Harris, R., Li, Q.C. (2007)

Can Giving Really Be Good for a Small Business? Spoiler: Yes!

Wednesday, May 02 at 10:08

Reputation is everything when it comes to making a business work, and nobody knows that better than a small business.  If your customer sees you in a good light, then you are halfway there.  Larger corporations are moving rapidly down the ‘purpose-driven’ route, and using Corporate Social Responsibility as a marketing tool to attract and retain customers who want to spend with brands that align with their own values.  Businesses with a clear ‘Brand Purpose’, those seen as making lives better, grew three times faster in value on average over the past 12 years. Many smaller businesses do want to give to back to society and make a difference, but it’s not always easy without designated CSR resource. Everyday pressures take over. And when time and money are tight, good intentions can fall by the wayside.
But what if all sizes of businesses could give to charity in a way that’s good for their business too?
We wanted to find out directly from the very businesses and charities themselves why charitable giving seemed to be the preserve of the large enterprise, so we surveyed people from both businesses and charities to see where the disconnect was.
Firstly, one in four businesses surveyed have yet to give, with a failure to see the benefits being a significant factor in their decision.
Increasing your bottom line, elevating customer perception and retaining and attracting staff are just a few of the fundamental aims all companies have, and have many tactics to achieve, but charitable giving may not be considered as one of those tactics or credited with helping to drive any of those success measures.  Yet out of the businesses who do give regularly to charities, two thirds saw noticeable positive impacts on their profitability, and the more they give, the more benefits they report. Those that donate over 0.5% of turnover were twice as likely to report enhancements in company reputation and nearly 50% more likely to see it help recruit and retain staff.  
For most, giving doesn’t seem to be all that regular. Aside from the occasional charity bake-sale or ad-hoc donations, giving is often not part of company strategy, especially in small to medium business where margins can be tight and overheads prohibitive. However, it doesn’t require big bucks to make a difference.  Alone, small business may feel just that….small. Yet small businesses make up 99% of the 5.7million businesses in the UK and have huge potential to be a force for good, and enabling every business to donate in manageable increments when revenue allows could lead to a ‘give to grow’ movement that could really change things.
So we can see the benefits to business giving, but what are the other barriers? With only 2% of charities’ income coming from the business sector, something is amiss. Well for starters; regular giving is a pain. 
For a business to donate off the back of their sales, there must be a Commercial Participation Agreement (CPA) in place which involves negotiations, admin and legal issues. This can actually result in charities turning down donations under a certain threshold, because it’s just not viable for the amount of time spent (average of ten hours to secure one donation from an SME) and businesses have enough on their plate without philanthropic efforts actually costing them time and therefore money. What a waste. Charities lose out on vital funding and businesses lose out on long term benefits of valuable PR, reputation building and profits.
So out of this, we created another small business to add to the UK’s 5.7 million in order to solve the problem.  The Work for Good platform was created to make giving easy, flexible and beneficial to SMEs and the charities they choose to support.
BTE Automotive is a family run garage service business based in Hampshire. Started by husband and wife team Jan and David Parker 27 years ago, day-to-day operations are now run by their son Barry. BTE Automotive have recently signed up with Work for Good and are building giving into their business in a serious way.
Barry comments, “As a family run business, our values are at the heart of what we do.  As well as offering our customers the best possible service, we also want to give back to the community we serve and the causes close to our heart. By donating a £1 for each MOT undertaken this year, we’ll raise more than £3500. And that’s just the start. We’re looking at giving through product sales and ways to get customers involved in choosing which charities we support. It’s a great way to develop trust and develop relationships.
Work for Good makes it easy for us to build giving into our business.  They connect with the charity and take out the legal and admin hassle. We can focus more time on doing what we do best – serving our customers, supporting our team and growing our business."
Download our full survey results and learn how your business can do well by doing good, at
If you’d like to hear more visit 
The Small Business Saturday community can receive a 50% discount to first year membership using code:  DOGOOD18.

Let's get organised....

Wednesday, April 25 at 15:26

Is a Better Organised Home Office the Key to Improving Your Productivity?
Do you find it difficult to give appropriate attention to the opportunities and challenges that come up in your business?
Perhaps your car is an extension of your office and you can’t face sitting at your desk when you get home but unopened envelopes and out of date files are taking over your workspace, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, stressed and distracted.
The effect of this disorganisation is often financial — interest or fees are being incurred, or money is being left on the table as invoices remain unprocessed.
Decluttering and organising your office might seem like a tedious and time-consuming task, but your home office is a reflection of you and your business. Putting a simple system in place for managing paperwork means you can lay your hands on documents quickly, be current on your priorities and clearly focus on goals.
You will need:
A shredder and a bin
Separate zones for recycling, shredding or filing
Transparent files and sticky labels
A progress tray — for items that need an action or are awaiting a response
Space — the floor, dining table or kitchen worktop
A lockable, fireproof filing cabinet and suspension files
A rough idea of what categories you want to set up going forward i.e. business travel, insurance, registrations. Others will naturally emerge as you go through the process
Break the task down into bite-sized chunks over a few sessions. Just set aside some time, grab a drink and snack and put on some motivational tunes!
Organising Paperwork
Gather every piece of paper relating to your business, including any from attics or garages
Separate items into piles for shredding, recycling and filing.
Roughly group the ‘filing’ papers by category i.e. financial, travel etc., and label suspension files. Ideally, set aside a drawer of the filing cabinet for archived paperwork
Quickly shred/recycle
Go through the remaining items; group related papers together in transparent files with a label on the front i.e. insurance policy, car documents etc.
Items that need an action/response should be placed in your progress tray
Put everything else in the appropriate sections within the filing cabinet, ensuring it is all stored securely — this includes archived paperwork.
“For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned.” Benjamin Franklin
Progress Not Perfection
Going forward, aim to deal with paperwork on a daily basis;
Dispose of junk mail. Check and action bills and invoices. Place pending items in the progress tray
File or shred everything else
Conduct a weekly review of your progress tray and schedule/action any next steps
Once the above system is in place and routinely managed, you will find that rather than searching for documents or trying to recall what is next on your to-do list, your time and attention is freed up to concentrate on business growth and client contact.
About the Author: 
Kate Galbally is a Glasgow-based member of the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO) and the founder of Better Organised. With over twenty years' experience in PA & administrative support roles, she now works alongside clients to streamline their homes and offices so that their lives run more smoothly.

Is your business leaking money?

Tuesday, April 17 at 18:20

The Leaky Bucket theory is a handy analogy and one that I use a lot with my clients.
Think of your finances in this way: The money you earn flows into your bucket. The money you spend inevitably leaks out and you are left with either a profit or a loss.
But there can be holes that, no matter how small, allow money from other areas to trickle out. Most of the time these leaks are unnecessary and completely avoidable, yet difficult to find or seemingly too insignificant for a busy Business Owner to notice.
My goal as a coach is to use this 'leaky bucket' theory to offer an outside, experienced perspective and patch your leaky bucket as best as we can. If you’re frustrated that your business seems to be doing well but your profits aren’t matching your expectations, you might be leaking money.
The obvious way to fill up your 'financial bucket' is through increased sales and a drive to increase profits. Patching your leaky bucket isn't just about savings or driving more sales, though. Taking a look at how you manage your expenses and your finances can pinpoint unnecessary spending that is hurting your bottom line. However, it is just as important to take a closer look at any potential losses resulting from factors such as utilities, team performance, business procedures to purchasing decisions and even credit-card processing.
I place great importance on reviewing the P&L on a monthly basis, looking in every nook and cranny for hidden savings. Many expense leaks are the result of seemingly minor choices that add up to a lot of lost cash. Even if you think you have all your expenses under control, its worthwhile to do a quick check for any cash drips.
Think Before You Discount
It's a tempting idea isn't it? To offer a reduced price on your product or service in hopes that it will drive sales and gain you lots of new custom. Yes, this is exactly what discounting does. However, the spike in sales is only short-term, and the customers gained more than likely won'tbe returning for repeat custom. Discounting will not win you long-term success and may do more damage than good. Let's explore why discounting may be doing more damage than you think...
As business owners, we are often tempted to discount our product or service, thinking it will win us customers and drive growth. Where the real problem lies isn't with generating the new customers and sales, it's what that discount in price represents:
1. Lower Perceived Value
Most people value a product/service based on its price. Lowering the price effectively demonstrates to your prospect that what you're offering won't truly add value to their life. Whilst a customer may still might buy from you, they won't place as much value on your brand as they most likely would have before.
2. Bad Precedent
When you offer a discount, either on the first engagement or the seventh customer engagement, there’s no going back. As soon as you lower your price, your customer will expect the same price next time.
3. Lack of Confidence
Cutting your prices tells the customer that you don’t believe in what you’re selling enough to warrant selling it for the standard price. As soon as you offer a discount, your prospect immediately loses confidence in you and assumes that you don’t have faith in what you’re trying to sell to them.
4. Price Focused
The last thing you want in a sales conversation is to be focused on price, and that’s just what happens when you offer a discount. When the conversation is focused on price, it leaves no room to talk about the value, the story or the qualities of your product/service. In the long run, it’s hard to sell something based on it’s price than on it’s value.
Question: Is price your only competitive advantage?
When you offer a discount, you take the focus away from the value you provide and basing it directly on the price. To maintain higher prices and steady business growth, you have to offer value. Discounts hinder your ability to do that as a reduction in price damages your price integrity and makes re-focusing on value difficult in the future.
If you would like to learn more about how to stop the leaking, do get in touch here 
About the Author:
Jonathan Keable is a Business Coach and Consultant based in the South West, providing business development, help, advice, coaching, consultation and mentoring services.

Podcasting - The Ultimate How-To Guide - Part 2

Wednesday, April 11 at 16:18

Welcome back! This is part 2 of the Ultimate Guide to Podcasting (part one can be found below from last week).
Let’s pick up from last week – you are going in with your eyes open and you have prepped well. Now it is not a bad idea to be aware of the competition….
There is a good chance you’ve listened to Gimlet Media’s excellent series StartUp, so you’ll know that podcasting is so popular now that it’s getting VC-backing.
Do bare that in mind – the competition now includes venture capitalists! As for the "niches to riches" the easy niches all already taken (and are often boring). Make sure you are not just repeating what the competition have already done – if your interviewee has already been on lots of podcasts, it is probably not going to be that super interesting for your listeners. Being aware of the competition will help you stay fresh and original. You may be aiming for JLD on EoFire or MindPump – but do see them as stimulation and something to learn from rather than becoming their serious competition.
Now let us talk "jobs"
Pre-interviews: Done either by email or phone, this helps determine whether your podcast and the potential guest are a good fit. 
Production: Guests do not always show up on time (or at all), and even if you have a problem-free interview, " Can you hear me?" will become the most used expression in your arsenal. You will still need to do post-production work to level out the noise and ensure that, as much as possible, the sound quality is excellent. People want good quality or they will stop listening. You can’t fully control what is happening on your guest’s end, which is why I strive so often to do interviews in person
Editing: Not everything we record makes it onto a podcast. Sometimes fascinating (or dreadful) tangents that don’t fit within our normal show time parameters have to go. It takes time to carefully slice those segments out so your listening experience isn’t interrupted. Again, Thank you Bret (my editor – see last week’s blog!) 
Libsync:  They show, stats, and you will need to find out which episodes are doing well and which ones aren’t. In your earliest days, you may find that releasing on one day versus another makes a significant difference. I prefer Mondays and Wednesdays. 
Push: So you’ve recorded and posted your podcast. The world isn’t going to beat a path to your studio door. You’ll need to promote on all the relevant social media platforms and your email newsletter list. You’ll need to pay to advertise it. You’ll need to have it featured in news and media. You’ll need to create and promote it consistently and professionally.
The Guestlist Podcast was built by the hard work of my two partners, Bret Farmer and my wife, Samantha White ( who also does all my social media pushing and guests getting). Even if you wanted to do something similar to what I did, I suggest you find a partner as you build a world-class product/service to feed into your world-class podcast and vice versa.
Although Lipsync is great, you will still not know the following information from the largest syndicators of podcasts (this includes iTunes):
Who exactly is listening
How much of the show they listened to
How the ranking system works
Everything we tell advertisers is built off the back of downloads, but downloads don’t tell us any of that information above.
You can’t even “buy” your way to the top without having built another (easier) business first. 
Let’s look at a great example, someone who went about building a great podcast:
JLD and E-Ofire. Check out his story on how he did it and how long it took, here. 
So, here is what I would start doing if I was starting from scratch today:
Going to get a podcast, speak to my man, Bret Farmer - let him walk you through options, create your avatar (he will explain) talk equipment and costs - tell him Jason from Small Biz send you and you are ready and know the pitfalls. 
If podcasting sounds like a bit too much right now, why not try a book or a blog first? 
Anyone can start one
There are fewer moving parts.
More income possibilities.
More flexibility — people don’t expect books or blogs as regularly as they expect podcasts.
The more likely path to success — more people read books and blogs than listen to podcasts, which means it’s a less crowded space and hence offers you more of an opportunity to get your "true fans". 
But no matter what you do, build things of value, you can also still be on a podcast, be on someone else's and start to appear as a guest on other podcasts. And do not forget you can always reach out to me to be on my show! 
Whatever you decide to do, good luck – and do speak to me first, I will be waiting. 
The host of “The Guestlist Podcast

Podcasting - the Ultimate How-To Guide - Part 1

Thursday, April 05 at 09:31

I am a successful, award-winning podcaster with an amazing American producer and a following in the hundreds of thousands now from all over the world. 
So podcasting, let's talk the good, the bad and the ugly. The truth is, we are in a golden age of podcasting. A report recently showed that podcast listeners doubled back between 2008 and 2015, and then increased again 23% between 2015 and 2016. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 57 million monthly listeners. 
After all, audience = money, right? 
I mean there is John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn and Lewis Howes who have all made millions in podcasting. This has led many to try and make moolah in this medium. But here’s my advice to those of you thinking of starting a podcast to make money: Maybe be realistic in your expectations!
I’ve been on the radio and podcasting space for ages and even studied radio broadcasting. I started hosting a podcast in 2016, The Guestlist Podcast, with a handful of early listeners to over a hundred thousand monthly listeners today. As a result of hosting TGP, I’ve had a chance to speak around the world, make the SmallBiz100, make friends with the known and titans of industry. I’ve been mentioned by The Guardian and various other media. 
But more importantly, even though I’ve been doing this for a long time and have one of the better pedigrees in the medium, it’s never been easy and it’s not easily profitable.
Let's start with how podcasts make money. 
Most people who start a podcast think that the ka-ching will come rolling in after the audience gets big enough. Everything will come, the sponsors and the advertisers and then you simply just collect the cash and wash, rinse, repeat. But sadly that equation doesn’t work the way you think it does.
But let us show a more realistic recipe:
Start with: landing the big advertisers, you need to be part of a network. 
Then, to be part of a network, you need to have at least 20,000 downloads per episode, and you won’t get there for a while. It took me ages to get to that level and keep in mind that “back in the day,” part of each episode was explaining to people how to download a podcast. I know people who got there in four, but I know more people, who are professionals in their industry, who in ten months of podcasting are not close to 2000 downloads per episode and they have flat-lined. That’s respectable, but it’s still a long way away from being able to demand ad revenue.
Then before you even sign a deal with a network, you have to be okay with them taking a 40-50% cut of gross advertising revenues.
One of the most popular shows has ad revenue in the range of 40k- 50k/month. This variance is due to several reasons. For one they can’t choose how much inventory is sold in any given period and they also can’t control how many advertisers are in the market at any moment, you can’t choose what advertisers are willing to pay and let us not forget about seasonality. 
The dreaded "S" word, SALES. 
Then once you pay your production costs, whatever is left over is your profit. My production costs are 800/month for 8 podcasts per month. So, on the high end, the “podcast” of The Guestlist Podcast could net 40,000 a year (40k annual revenue – 10,600 production costs), but that’s also because I take no salary from the podcast division as it’s part of my marketing outreach for the show.
40k sounds like a lot. It is a lot. But keep in mind that we only started pulling in revenue in the last few months and for the first year the "podcast" was not cash flow positive, hence you see me doing so many other things to help carry me. I've had little to no sponsor revenue and was spending 800 a month without the promise of immediate return. If you were to add up all of my "lifetime" expenses and revenues, I’d suspect we’d be just barely in the black after two years.
My podcast features both ad opportunity and an opportunity to sponsor parts of the show, not to mention my public speaking opportunities geared around the topics I cover on the show. There’s a virtuous circle in which our content is informed by my revenue opportunities and vice versa. So, yes the cash flow now looks good, but I needed help to get there, and I may very well have not gotten there if we didn’t have the infrastructure and support from my producer, Bret Farmer, from the other side of the world.
The uncomfortable truths about podcasts:
It requires more personality than you likely have!
The technical qualifications for starting a podcast are the ability to speak English, a microphone, and an internet connection. The qualifications for a successful podcast are…much much more complicated.
To be even an average podcast host, you have to have the ability to guide a conversation, to pull out insights, to drill down when you need to. It’s not at all like a conversation between friends, and even those get off-track. You’ll often be interviewing complete strangers with whom you’ll need to build rapport shortly before going on air. And to be candid, you probably don’t possess those skills right now.
The second dreaded "S" word. You can’t outsource or scale most of the work. 
Let’s say you do outsource the audio editing, engineering, and production work. You can’t outsource your prep, I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work, trust me.
If you interview guests, you are going to need to read their books or articles or watch or listen to their interviews. Check out the masters of Prep: James Altucher and Tom Bilyeu. 
Showing up with a list of 10 formulaic questions isn’t just going to be a poor experience for your guests — after a while, you’ll hate it too. I’m 2 years in, and I do more of the prep work than ever before (usually up to 5 hours per episode). As I said above, I tried outsourcing this before and hired staff to read the books for me and put together relevant notes and interesting questions, but as I began to get into the craft, the deep work of being a host, I wanted to read those books and create those questions myself, and at now only one podcast per week ( used to be two episodes per week), I can tell you I read a lot. 
Next week we look at editors and producers and perhaps some alternatives to podcasting that might work for you!
The host of The GuestlistPodcast  

Save time with automation

Thursday, March 29 at 11:15

Marketing automation is an incredible way to help your business stay organised and save time. You're able to work more efficiently, because you set everything up to run on its own. Here are some of the ways you'll be able to save time.

Set up personalised email campaigns

By dividing up and targeting your email database more specifically, you're able to send out more personalised and relevant messages to your recipients. All of these messages and the groups your database is separated into can be automated. Send out your perfectly written messages using a mail service like MailChimp, with editing advise from State of Writing.

Automated social media campaigns

Stay connected with your social media followers by setting up and scheduling your updates, tweets, posts and more to all be automated. Manage and automate all of your social media in one place by using Buffer. And look to HootSuite for ways to connect with customers faster, smarter and safer.

Score your leads

Qualifying your leads by scoring them means you're able to more effectively target those who have the most potential and nurture those who need it. Automating this workflow makes it a much easier process. As a lead's score moves them from one category into the next, another set of criteria automatically begin scoring them in their new category. Once you've got those leads scored, send out well written messages from the copywriting experts at Boomessays or Ukwritings.

Prioritising your leads

Based on their buying patterns and the interest they show in a product, leads can be scored and prioritised. Depending on whether they score high or low can give you a good indication of their level of interest. When you're following up with leads, keep messages to the point by using the Easywordcount tool to track your work usage.

Lower your lead conversion time

Converting leads into buying customers can take a great deal of time. But, when the process becomes automated, you won't have to spend that same amount of time. You can also save time in the editing and proofreading process by using a service like Oxessays to do the work for you.

Lead follow ups can be automated

It is difficult to remember to follow up with every single customer. But, automation never forgets. Automating follow up workflows takes the burden of remembering off entirely. Collaborate with your team to determine how these follow ups should take place, and set a schedule for your plans using CoSchedule.

Have fewer cold calls

Because you'll be scoring your leads and prioritising them, you will not have to make as many cold calls to customers whose interest level is unknown.
Any time you can save when you're running a business is a bonus. It means you can focus on other aspects of your business and be more efficient. Set up effective marketing automation that will help you save time.
About the Author:
Gloria Kopp is a social media marketer and a content manager. Gloria is an author of Studydemic blog where she writes her educational guides for students.

Setting BIG goals – why do it and how to go about it

Friday, March 23 at 09:53

Did you know that setting yourself a really challenging goal makes it much more likely that you will have a successful year, even if you don’t actually achieve the goal?
It’s because a stretching goal forces you to take big steps towards it, rather than just continuing to do what you’ve done before. It pushes you to think outside the box, and to make a shift.
I know, because I did it last year.
As a business coach, I work with small business owners. A year ago I was focusing exclusively on 1:1 coaching. Then I set myself a goal to “help 500 small business owners in 2017”.
I wasn’t going to achieve that simply by 1:1 coaching. I needed to reach groups of people. That led to me running workshops, writing guest blogs, sending a weekly newsletter to my mailing list, going out networking and giving talks.
I would probably never have done any of that without my BIG goal.
So how do you identify your goal?                           
Rather than a goal, I prefer to think of it as a vision. For me the word ‘vision’ conjures up something much more exciting and inspiring. Something that you can really connect with emotionally and get motivated to work towards. 
There are lots of ways to come up with your vision. The least effective way is to sit down with a blank document, write or type VISION at the top of the page and wait for inspiration to strike!
It’s far more effective to access the more creative parts of your brain. You could:
  • create a vision board
  • go to a creative space and reflect on your own
  • get together with a couple of other small business owners and brainstorm
  • do a visualisation.
If you’ve never used visualisation, I can recommend it! Start by closing your eyes and taking a couple of deep breaths to release any tension.
Now imagine that it is 12 months’ time, and you are looking at your business as it is then. It has evolved, grown and changed. It is thriving, and so are you.
Let this business take shape around you.  What do you see around you? What are you doing? Who else is here?
What can you hear, and smell? If you reached out and touched something, what would it be?
What’s important here? Soak this environment up with all of your senses.
Once you have completely immersed yourself in your future business, you can open your eyes. You’ve just ‘seen’ the vision of your business a year from now. 
Did I achieve MY vision last year?
By the end of the year I wasn’t really concerned whether I achieved it or not. I was more focused on the benefits that had flowed from aiming for it.
These benefits included:
  • Increasing my exposure online
  • Growing my mailing list to reach more small business owners
  • Reaching a wider audience through my workshops and speaking engagements
All of these contributed to an increase in paid work, both 1:1 coaching and workshop attendees.
And actually yes, I did achieve my vision too!
More About The Author:
Amanda Cullen is a business coach who helps small business owners to grow their business and run it better. She provides 1:1 coaching, either face-to-face in London and Surrey, or by Skype or phone nationwide. She also runs monthly workshops in London.
Social media
Facebook: @businessmadesimpler
Twitter: @AmandaCcoach

International Women's Day 2018

Wednesday, March 07 at 22:14

This International Women's Day we are highlighting some amazing Small Businesses. Businesses who triumphed through adversity and who found a way to help others by giving of themselves even when the going got tough. 
Flower Girl London
A well-known fixture at its South London station location, Flower Girl London, run by Sam Jennings, is a truly admirable small business. While running her own shop has let Sam be her own boss, that doesn’t mean she can relax – the Flower Girl London stall is set up every day, and packed away again come evening.
A young and thriving business, the use of point-of-sale technology by Square has had a huge impact on how Sam manages her time, not least because she now no longer has to make the treacherous journey to the bank each evening with bags of cash. A sufferer of multiple sclerosis, Sam also used helpful tech to track her sales per hour, and discovered that an afternoon’s work would prove more profitable than working through a quiet morning. She changed her hours from 11 am – 8 pm to 3 pm – 8 pm, and chose the days that had the highest footfall, meaning she now has more time to rest and recharge, while making more money from the busiest hours of the day.
But Sam’s dedication to her community has meant spending these extra hours committed to those in need. Following the tragedy of Grenfell Tower earlier this year, Sam worked tirelessly to help survivors, initially collecting supplies such as clothing before realising gift cards would be more effective. Launching the #giftcardsforGrenfell campaign, Sam successfully raised over £2,000, with donations coming from as far away as Australia. She also assisted the survivors on a personal level, lifting the spirits of a young man who experienced the blaze by organising a FaceTime call with his hero, rapper Stormzy.
For her selfless hard work and dedication to a community that, notably, is on the opposite side of London to her own,Sam was rewarded for her outstanding community service by Norbury Hill Cubs Nursery.
She’s a truly inspirational young, female entrepreneur, Norwood commuters can now take pride in the fact that they are buying their flowers from a local hero.

9 tips for Business Success - it's all about love.

Wednesday, February 14 at 09:35

This Valentine's day we are giving some top tips and advice for small businesses. 
Often you can overlook yourself in the process of starting or running your business and without this self-care you can quickly run yourself into the ground and impact your success. 
Check out our top tips for taking care of your business, yourself and how looking after others can also benefit you. Share the love! 
Make a Plan
It’s said that if you fail to plan you plan to fail and this is certainly the case with a small business. If you are just starting out then you need to make an exhaustive business plan and factor in every eventuality and cost you can.
If you are already an established business it’s good to make a plan on a monthly or seasonal basis with some key goals and keep revisiting and updating it.
Know your Product or Service.
Make sure that whatever you have decided upon for your business format, you are passionate about it and have a good knowledge in the subject or area. Keep an eye on trends and read around the subject to stay ahead of what customers want to see and changes in buying climate.
Tell your Story
People love to make connections and sharing your story, your inspirations and your process through your website, blog or social media is key to engaging with customers and creating a connection that people trust and will buy from. Other entrepreneurs may also be inspired by your journey and learn from your experiences.
4.  Invest in Yourself
You are your business’ best asset. If you need to take some extra training to ensure that you are up to date with the skills needed to run your business then don’t put it off! If you need to take a break to recharge and refresh with new ideas, then maybe delegate (more on that later) or engage in a relaxing hobby to change gears and invigorate you
5.  Be Yourself
Don’t waste valuable time analysing other similar businesses and trying to be exactly like them. It is good to learn from others but copycat businesses rarely succeed because they lack the personal passion that is needed. Share your quirks and express your personality and you will attract the right customers.
6.  Find your Tribe
Entrepreneurship can be lonely and even if you employ staff it is often hard to discuss business and growth with them. Find a local meet-up or networking group and connect with others, you may be surprised to find others who can provide help and advice through peer-to-peer support. Social media is also a great resource for like-minded groups and motivation.
7.  Get the right people
A strong support team is crucial in a successful business, whether this is employees or family and friends. Recruiting wisely can save you both time and money and someone with a passion for your business or cause is a huge asset. Take your time when recruiting and don’t be afraid to have a trial period to see if you are a good match for each other.
8.  Delegate
Giving a team member a new responsibility doesn’t only free up your time and energy to focus on a different area of your business but it also can provide a learning and development opportunity for them. It’s a win win!
9.  A Random Act of Kindness
Showing and sharing kindness with others goes a long way and needn’t cost you a penny. You could skill share or swap with another business who may need your help in return for some of their product, or you could include a nice handwritten note inside a customer order to brighten their day. You might make a new friend in the process and it’s always nice to be nice.
Aster Sadler is Head of Digital Marketing for Small Business Saturday.Small Business Saturday provides help and support for all Small Businesses throughout the year by providing workshops, webinars and informative content.
Small Business Saturday UK also highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.


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