Small Business Saturday Blog

How small businesses can build their online presence

Thursday, February 02 at 15:09

When you’re running a small business and trying to compete with much bigger players, one of the few arenas where you can really do so effectively, is online. Although human resources and marketing budgets still make a difference, smart thinking, innovation and style can make a bigger one. If you really understand your customers, building your online presence can give you the edge.

Get a website that works for today
 
Most of today’s consumers access the web using mobile devices, especially when they’re not at work. This means that your website must look good on many different sized screens, so you need to invest in responsive design. You also need to understand the colour psychology that will work on your target customers, and present them with images that grab their attention. Alongside this, you should have fresh content on a frequent basis to keep them coming back.

Develop a content marketing strategy

 
Why do people visit websites? Sometimes it’s because they’re already looking for a particular product or service. More often, it’s because they want to be informed or entertained, or they’re looking for something immediately useful. An effective content marketing strategy, using professional internet copywriters, can give them that immediate reward at the same time as making sure they notice who you are and what you do. It can make them keen to return for more, and it can prompt them to share links to your site so that they start doing your promotion for you and make your traffic grow.

Focus your social media strategy

 
Whether you have great content or just a good basic site, you’ll need to promote it. Social media makes that easy but it can get overwhelming. You’ll need to go into it with a clear awareness of what your resources are – in terms of time, money and energy – and develop a strategy that targets customers efficiently. It needs to be a strategy you can keep pace with over the long term, so don’t spread yourself too thin.

Make use of video
 
Video can be a really effective way of grabbing people’s attention and communicating a lot in a very short time. It can work well on your landing page and it’s also something you can use for advertising or brand building on YouTube or Vimeo, which, if you fill out the meta data fields properly, are extremely good for generating hits. Recordings of your events and conference speeches can be repurposed to help build your online following.

Get connected
 
Although link farms and the like long ago became a liability as search engines got smarter, it’s still well worth investing time and effort in generating good quality links, which direct both search engine and human attention to your website. Nothing beats getting stories in the local or trade press – as long as they have an online presence – and local or trade forums can also be very useful, so take the time to build up a presence there.

A strong online presence can help your business grow far beyond the potential it would once have had. Today, anybody can operate on a national or even international basis. Building up your online following is where it begins.

Leading business experts come together in one-off inspirational event

Friday, January 27 at 09:44

On 30th January 2017, a unique online event will begin, bringing together leading business experts from around the world.

The Business Growth Online Bootcamp (BGOB) is the first of its kind and features a series of interviews with over 35 business experts.

This is the only time these business leaders have come together in this way and offers small business owners and entrepreneurs free advice and inspiration from some of the most successful business minds of today.

Hosted by Adèle McLay of Small Business Huge Success™, each interview delves into the experiences, learning and advice of the Bootcamp experts to inspire and guide the audience towards achieving greater sustainable growth and profitability in their businesses in 2017.

Running from 30th January to 5th February, the BGOB features experts including:

Michael E Gerber – Known as the world’s #1 small business guru and author of the ‘E-Myth’ books.
Royston Guest – Business Growth Adviser
Julie Hutchison – leadership consultant
Dr Nick Marsh – Business Strategist
Phil Lewis – Marketing Guru
Lorraine Carter – Branding Expert
Rob Warlow – Business Finance Expert
Rob Goddard – Business Sales Expert

Participants will receive a host of valuable information on such topics as strategy, branding, marketing, sales, finance, leadership and much more.

BGOB host Adèle McLay is an entrepreneur, business expert, public speaker and author who is passionate about guiding business owners to achieve success.  She says, “The BGOB is everything that my brand, ‘Small Business Huge Success™’ looks to deliver.  It is about bringing together a community of experts, to share their knowledge and expertise with the business world.

“It is rare to have such a large pool of experts coming together to offer their advice for free and I would encourage anyone who owns a business or is thinking about beginning an entrepreneurial journey to register and take part.  You won’t be disappointed in the quality and value of the advice you will receive, which will help you achieve the business success you strive for, making 2017 your best year yet.”

To register and for full information on the event, including the list of speakers visit the Small Business Huge Success website or click here to register.

Five Tips to Effectively Market your Business

Monday, January 09 at 10:50Digital | Marketing | Small Business Saturday | Social Media

Has effective marketing ever been more important among all the noise of the digital world? With billions of websites at our fingertips it’s so easy to spend time scanning for the perfect solution, and those sites or services that aren’t up to scratch might be rejected for even the smallest reason – a stray tweet or a slightly slow website, for example. Here’s five ways to tighten up your product and promote yourself well in 2017.

Create a modern website
Most companies seem to have got the message that running a site that looks like it was built in 1998 isn’t a great first impression to any visitors. Whether you’re a florist, a van leasing company, a sports management firm or are offering a legal service, your site should be a clean, uncluttered and easy-to-use interface. There should be a call to action that shows clearly how, where and why to get the best offers. Above all, it should be easy to find your products, fast to load, and very easy to get in touch – just in case someone actually wants to pick up the phone.

Set up a content calendar
Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I’d created a piece of content/organised this idea” to coincide with a big, relevant event? For example, it could be a blog or video to coincide with Halloween, or the final of GBBO, or Movember. Maybe you’ve done something, but if you’d thought about it earlier you might have done better…

If you’d created a content calendar several months earlier, planning your blogs and social media and videos to be completed and to land on your sites at exactly the correct time, you would have been primed to take advantage. Start doing this now and reap the benefits of great, timely content.

Utilise social media
Why would you not utilise a completely free method of promoting yourself? It’s a great way of responding to any complaints; an easy, instant way of informing people of your new products and sales using pictures and videos; a method of showing knowledge in your business sector by publicising any blogs, appearances or media that is relevant; and a way of communicating with like-minded people and businesses.

If you’re just starting to use social media, you might be wondering which platform is best.
Launching a craft business? Pinterest and Instagram are sensible options. Launching a B2B start-up? LinkedIn in your best bet. Launching any business whatsoever? Facebook and Twitter, and possibly Snapchat.

Revamp your shop front
If you’ve updated the landing page of your website, then why would you not do the same with your physical premises? After all, they’re really two sides of the same coin. A stark, dark frontage won’t really bring in potential custom, and neither will empty shelves, old signage and shabby looking stock. The actual tidying is not the hard part, it’s the preparation and organisation in your mind that’s the laborious task. If you don’t have physical premises, then consider revitalising your signage, print advertising (yes, people do still take notice of this) and Google Business listing.

Create video
The statistics are clear: according to Forbes, video used in conjunction with email boasts a 300% click-through rate. Thanks to mobile phones and free or cheap online editing, it’s possible to put together a professional looking promotional video, an FAQ, a slideshow or an interview in a very short period of time. It lends itself to social media, and might catch the eye of people who otherwise might not see your work.

Blog contributed by Jessica Foreman. Jessica is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university.

Nottingham's Lady Bay Vintage Midcentury Antiques Fair

Thursday, December 08 at 16:10

Calling Nottingham antique lovers! There are just a few days left until the doors open at the Lady Bay Vintage Midcentury Antiques Fair in West Bridgford.


Visitors will be able to see forty stands of vintage, MidCentury and retro antiques from dealers who have travelled from across the UK.  Items on display will include furniture, artwork, textiles & fabric, French antiques, architectural salvage, homeware, lighting, clothing, jewelry and much more.

Co-Organizer Virender Rose said “we’re predicting record numbers of visitors attending on the day so we recommend arriving early to get the very best of what’s on offer”.

“We’re really pleased that the event’s birthday coincidentally also falls on the day of the fair – we’ll be a whole 2 years old! To mark the occasion, the pop up café will be serving an extended selection of really beautiful home-made cakes to refresh our visitors and sweeten their day”.

For further details about the event contact Paul at ladybayvintage@gmail.com or call 07702291334.  Lady Bay Vintage are regularly posting on Facebook on the lead up to the event.  Join in the chat here.

The fair is on Saturday 10th December 2016, 11am – 4pm, at the Hospitality Marquee, Nottingham Rugby Club, 1 Holme Road, Lady Bay, West Bridgford, NG2 5AA. Entry £1.

Spend with small busisness on Small Business Saturday up 15% year on year to £717 million

Thursday, December 08 at 10:40Small Business Saturday

Temperatures may have been in the low digits over the weekend but Saturday saw the UK’s small businesses community benefit from the warmth of the British public who were out in force to support Small Business Saturday (3rd December 2016).

According to an American Express commissioned survey* undertaken in the 36 hours following Small Business Saturday, an estimated £717 million was spent with small businesses across the UK.  This was up 15% on Small Business Saturday last year with over half (57%) of those aware of the day saying they spent more than usual.

Over 80% of all local authorities covering the country actively supported the campaign on the day in a variety of ways, from staging or supporting small business events to offering free parking.

Positive consumer sentiment and support to small businesses was echoed through social media.  Over 130,000 tweets were sent on the day itself reaching more than 120 million people, with Small Business Saturday UK trending at number one in the UK and at number 5 globally.

Michelle Ovens MBE, Campaign Director of Small Business Saturday said:

“In its fourth year, Small Business Saturday has once again delivered a sustained increase in spending with Britain’s small independent businesses. To see the spend on Small Business Saturday reach £249 million more this year than on the first Saturday in 2013, an increase of 53%, is fantastic and confirms the positive stories we are hearing from small businesses in
communities across the UK."

Alice Noone, Vice President Marketing at American Express said:

“Small Business Saturday celebrates the vital contribution independent businesses make to our communities and we’re delighted that shoppers rewarded them with such significant spend on the day.  We are immensely proud to be principal supporter of the campaign for the fourth year and hope it inspires people to shop small, not just on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the rest of the year”.

Rowena Howie, owner of Revival Retro, a small London retro fashion business said:

“Not only did we have more new shoppers and a higher footfall this year, we also saw a 35% increase in sales compared to the same Saturday last year.”

Carolyn Frank, owner of Libby Butler Jewellers in Helmsley, near York, said:

“For us in Helmsley the Small Business Saturday campaign has had a huge impact since its very beginning in 2013 but this year was absolutely the biggest and best yet. It’s become an established family tradition now for customers to start their Christmas by visiting small businesses on the day.  But it's not just the day, people are more aware of small businesses all year round because of it. I think it's because it's a grassroots initiative that it's gathered pace so quickly, and has reminded customers about the great variety and choice that small businesses can offer.”

How the UK showed its support on 3rd December 2016:

  • An estimated £717 million was spent with small businesses across the UK on the day. 
  • This was an increase of 15% on Small Business Saturday last year.
  • Over 130,000 tweets were sent on the day itself reaching more than 120 million people. 
  • Small Business Saturday UK trended at number one in the UK and at number 5 globally.
  • Politicians including the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition; entrepreneurs including Karren Brady, Sarah Willingham, Jacqueline Gold, 2014 Apprentice winner Mark Wright and Levi Roots, and British talent including singer and TV presenter Louise Redknapp; TV Cook and Chef Lorraine Pascale and fashion commentator Gok Wan all publicly supported Small Business Saturday.  

Why you need to add exhibiting to your marketing mix

Tuesday, December 06 at 10:32Brand | Customer | Exhibiting | Marketing | Small Business Saturday

Exhibiting provides a perfect opportunity for you to showcase your business to the market. In a hall filled with customers and contacts, you have the chance to show people why investing in your company is essential. Customers will be attending with high expectations and with the hope to learn more about what businesses are out there, so it’s an incredible opportunity to become a part of.

If you haven’t yet decided to add exhibiting to your marketing mix then maybe it’s now time to reconsider. Here are 5 reasons why you need to be exhibiting right now.

1.    Increase your profit
Exhibiting has proven time and time again to have one of the highest return on investments as compared to many other marketing channels. Of course, there’s a lot of effort that has to go into exhibiting, such as an upfront investment to cover stall costs, but with that effort comes the benefit of a high potential reward.

With so many potential visitors under one roof who could be interested in your business, it’s a great opportunity to give out show only offers to increase the chance of a purchase on the day.

To increase your ROI further, make sure you choose displays that can be used again from reputable suppliers such as Marler Haley.

2.    Be seen in the right places
Being seen side-by-side to your competitors can do wonders for your business, particularly if you’re relatively new to market.

It’s one of the only places where visitors can physically see the differences between your businesses so it’s your opportunity to make sure your USPs are clear for visitors to see to make sure that they choose to buy from your stand and not your competitors.

3.    Your target audience under one roof
One of the main reasons to exhibit is to see people face-to-face. But not just any person, it has to be the right one. When choosing the right show for your business, it’s important to consider who will be attending and working out whether that fits your target audience. For online businesses this is particularly important as you won’t often get the opportunity!

4.    Increase brand awareness
Although you’ll want to gain as many leads and sales from the event as possible, exhibitions are also a great opportunity to raise brand awareness among your target audience.

Let’s be honest. Not everybody will want to purchase from you at the show even if they are in your target audience. But what you’ll want to do for these people is to make sure that they are aware of you when they decide that they need to purchase.

To do this, make sure that your displays have a clear logo in the upper third and that you add a simple strapline to tell people what you do and your USPs.

5.    Get feedback
Being face to face with your potential customers also has another perk – being able to get live feedback about your business. By asking about their needs, as related to your business, you can find out if you’re missing a trick by not fulfilling them. Positive feedback can also help you to identify your strong points to help guide marketing activity to push those elements that people have told you set you apart.


 Guest blog written by Mizzy Moore.









Seven ways you may be able to reduce your tax bill

Friday, December 02 at 13:38Accounting | Small Business | Top Tips

Sensible tax planning is an essential tool in making the most of your finances and helping your business’s profitability. Keeping your tax bill to a minimum is not a matter of aggressive or complex tax schemes, but rather of identifying which of the many tax reliefs and allowances specifically granted by law are available to you.

Jo Nockels, Senior Technical Communications Manager at small business specialists TaxAssist Accountants, shares some tips and advice about how to save on your tax bill. 

1. Review your business structure
How you structure your business can have a significant impact on your annual tax bills. During the early years of a business, it may be advisable to operate as a sole trader or partnership, as profits increase it may be more beneficial to form a limited company. An accountant can help you decide which entity suits your circumstances.

2. Buying equipment
Before buying business premises, machinery or equipment, make sure you seek advice. Up to 100% tax relief could be available but the type of asset, timing and value can affect how much tax relief you can obtain and when.

3. Choose a vehicle that matches your needs
Talk to an accountant before buying a new vehicle for your business. There are lots of considerations such as taxable benefits, VAT, capital allowances and how you claim tax relief for repair and fuel costs.

4. Don't forget to reclaim input VAT on petrol
Do you reimburse employees who use their own vehicles and pay for their own fuel at the HMRC approved mileage rates? If so, then don’t forget to reclaim the VAT applicable to the deemed fuel element of the mileage rate. You will need to ensure each employee submits a valid VAT receipt in support of the claim.

5. Make the most of losses
You may be able to turn your losses around by carrying them forward to set against future profits, or setting them against other income for immediate relief. Your accountant can review loss relief claims to ensure that the losses are used tax-efficiently and eases your cashflow ideally at a time that’s best for your circumstances.

6. Household bills
If you are running your business from home, you can offset some of your household bills such as heating, electricity, council tax and water rates. Even if your use is only minor for bookkeeping for example, HM Revenue & Customs will accept a reasonable estimate provided your claim is modest and reflects your circumstances.

7. Save on your rental income
If you rent out property, you can deduct a range of expenses from your rental income. These include Council Tax, utility costs, service charges and even replacing furnishings.

Choosing an accountant who specialises in small businesses could save you money and provide you and your business with expert advice on many financial issues. For more information about TaxAssist Accountants visit their website

Practical advice from Acas to help small businesses succeed

Wednesday, November 30 at 17:18Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Top Tips

Small Business Saturday on December 3 is a great day that marks the importance of small enterprises to our economy.

Small business owners are usually skilled at generating ideas for products and services due to  their entrepreneurial spirit.

While these qualities are important for business success it is worth remembering that building a strong team spirit by choosing the right people and treating them fairly can be just as important.

Employment relations is a phrase that can conjure a picture of regulations that many businesses think they haven’t got time for.

Yet somewhere along the way, all businesses come to realise that good employment relations are not optional. Better for the go-getting entrepreneur to make sure good employment relations happen early on or from the start, rather than risk expensive complications later on.

At Acas, we understand that small businesses are usually short of time and, also because they have fewer resources, can come up against obstacles which larger firms do not. So we have compiled advice especially for small firms.

It is currently a series of nine practical, concise and straight-forward guides called Help For Small Firms, which include:

•       how to recruit the best candidate for the job;
•       drawing up their contract;
•       settling them into the business;
•       effectively managing their behaviour and performance;
•       how to manage a complaint if they raise one;
•       how to manage sickness and other kinds of absence from work;
•       how to get the best out of staff, and;
•       handling pay and wages.

While we celebrate the dynamism and creativity of small enterprises this Small Business Saturday, we should also recognise that great team spirit also means a more productive business.

You can use the guides on the Acas website or print them off.

David Webb is an Acas writer working to help employers and employees understand, in plain language, employment law and workplace best practice. Previously, he was a manager in private industry for more than 20 years.

Automatic enrolment problems? The PLSA has a Pension Solution

Wednesday, November 30 at 16:53Small Business Saturday

Joanne Segars, Chief Executive of The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association tells us about the impact of automatic enrolment on small businesses, and their plans to support Small Business Saturday this year.

Last year I blogged about how we have to make automatic enrolment easy for small businesses, which is why we launched a specifically designed service called Pension Solution.

Since then, over 300,000 employers including thousands of small businesses have automatically enrolled 7 million workers into a workplace pension scheme. Eventually over 10 million extra people will be saving an additional £17 billion a year into workplace pensions by 2019/20, as recently reported by the Department for Work and Pensions.

These latest figures help highlight the importance of small businesses to the UK economy and the future of pensions and lifetime savings, and we are delighted to be supporting Small Business Saturday again this year.

We know that automatic enrolment can be complex so Pension Solution helps in three straightforward steps:

  • Step-by-step guide showing everything you need to know about getting your workplace pension set up for automatic enrolment.
  • Impartial guide to pension providers with comparison information and recently updated employer user ratings for nine pension providers.
  • Useful resources including handy downloadable communication templates and short films to help your workers understand automatic enrolment.

We also offer a half-day training course that helps provide you with all the basic information needed to implement automatic enrolment.

Find out more about Pension Solution at https://www.pensionsolution.co.uk

See how Pension Solution can help a small business like yours.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association will be supporting Small Business Saturday UK on 3rd December 2016 and throughout the rest of December by offering a 100% discount on the normal £49 subscription to join Pension Solution as a member. Use voucher code SBIZSAT when joining online. 

Follow us on Twitter: @SolutionPension

Ideas and Innovation Dens: help tease out those great ideas and turn them into reality faster.

Thursday, November 24 at 10:00

Several months ago I got invited to contribute business expertise to a local radio station, providing views from a small and micro business perspective on some shows. This was and continues to be a ‘calorie-burning’ experience, not least as we now do a 3 hour live show on the first Friday of every month and at some other times. I have now progressed, quite by accident, to seemingly becoming the stations ‘business guru’?!  Our small and micro business world is different isn’t it and listeners seem to appreciate hearing tips and ideas from real local people, that they can definitely relate to and share their progression. Fascinating real life tips and experiences are always shared.

Whilst there is an enormous amount of help around to develop products and companies, it soon became apparent that there are also a huge number of ‘ideas in peoples heads’ for new products, services or even new companies, that never get turned into reality. There could be many reasons why.

So our challenge with the Ideas and Innovation Dens is to tease these out by offering something different.  Perhaps the thought of a ‘dragons den’ or corporate pitch with a full business plan, to be dissected and analysed, is just too scary?  Perhaps an individual or a company, has some great ideas that they would be prepared to confidentially discuss with my carefully selected group of private industry business owners, who truly understand what it takes to operate small, medium or even large businesses, and introduce new products on a daily basis, because that’s what we do? Would it be a good idea to also get the input of other public partners to fast-track help and funding too?

I also believe that these ideas and stories about how we turn them into profitable reality, will make really interesting news and that’s why we are also hoping to turn the best ones into some more radio shows.

This is a snapshot of our current ‘Ideas and Innovation Dens’ package.

They will be available on-going for several months through an application form from dave.homer@blackcountryradio.co.uk or steve@steveparkericd.com, but a great way to experience it all is as part of a package of help and assistance for Small Business Saturday, or ‘Small Business week,’ as it will be in Dudley, West Midlands.

Our ‘Ideas and Innovation Dens’ or simply drop-in business advice clinics are scheduled for:

Halesowen Library -  Monday 28th November  10am-1pm
Dudley Library - Tuesday 29th November  10am - 1 pm
Netherton Savoy Centre - Wednesday 30th November 10am-1 pm
Brierley Hill Library - Thursday 1st December 10am - 1 pm
Stourbridge Library - Friday 2nd December 10am - 1 pm

With fantastic support from Steve Parker ICD, Dudley Metropolitan Council, Dudley Business First, ‘Business starts here’, Black Country Radio and other local business start-up providers, there is no better way to kick-start your idea.




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