Small Business Saturday Blog
ACCA on board the Small Business Saturday Bus Tour
Tuesday, November 28 at 14:46
Small Business Saturday toured the UK once again this year with its iconic big blue Bus Tour. Starting in Dundee and finishing in Brighton, the tour took in 29 locations around the UK. Launched for the first time this year was the Small Business Saturday mentoring programme on the bus, offering free business mentoring to small businesses at every stop. As part of its support of Small Business Saturday, the business experts ACCA sent their small business members to the bus to provide free advice to local businesses – and it could not have been more of a success!
From Birmingham to Cardiff, Edinburgh to London, Lowestoft to Leicester, ACCA accountants joined the Tour to meet local businesses and share their advice and wisdom, all with a view to helping these businesses thrive in 2018 and beyond.
Tour Director, Tom Flynn, said about the mentors, “It was fantastic to have experts with strong local links, that also brought the reassurance of a strong recognisable global brand – this is why the ACCA mentors worked very well. The mentors were fantastic with a great attitude, they were helpful, positive and constructive, helping out other mentors as well as jumping in with ad hoc help and advice where needed.”
Of the mentees themselves, Tom said, “We had a real range – some businesses in their infancy through to well developed, well established businesses that were looking for a new direction or had new ideas they wanted to talk through with someone. The feedback from the businesses was all positive with many getting in touch afterwards to say what a huge boost it had been for them and they absolutely intend to continue the relationship with the mentor.”
Small Business Saturday launched the programme this year in response to feedback from small businesses on what they felt was missing locally and where they wanted help. The programme will continue into 2018 and the campaign encourages all communities to develop their own mentoring programmes, so experienced small businesses can pass that knowledge onto others, making communities stronger across the UK.
The tour was also joined by ACCA Head of SME Policy, Ben Baruch:
In Cardiff, Small Business Saturday was joined by James Slatter, ACCA member, and Lloyd Powell, Head of ACCA Wales.
Joining the tour in London, Shakar Elahi provided small business help and advice, and spoke to Director Michelle Ovens here
For more information on ACCA and to find a local qualified ACCA accountant click here
There is still time to get involved!
Tuesday, November 28 at 09:00
Small Business Saturday 2017 is just days away and we can't wait!It's not too late and there are still some great ways to get involved!
Get Involved Locally
Lots of activities are happening across the UK. Over 82% of local councils now support the campaign, so drop yours a line to join in with their activities.
Trade organisations such as the FSB are organising activities across the UK. Get in touch with your local organisations to take part.
Logos and posters are available to download from HERE
Small Business Saturday Mobile App: SmallBizSatUk
This year the campaign has launched its mobile app which has close to 30,000 small businesses listed all over the country on its small business finder. Register and you can instantly be found by customers who are looking for your local business. Available on Apple and Android. Details HERE
Get Social: #SmallBizSatUk
Show your support for Small Business Saturday on social media.
Instagram: Share pictures of your business on Instagram with the #SmallBizSatUk.
Twitter: Tag your business and activity on Twitter with the handle @SmallBizSatUk and #SmallBizSatUk
Facebook: Do share your plans for Small Business Saturday on Facebook (which has 2.5million small business pages in the UK) and use the tag @smallbizsatuk
We look forward to hearing what your plans are!
Is Britain Becoming a Cashless Society?
Wednesday, November 22 at 13:52
As Britain becomes a cashless society, businesses big or small have an opportunity to offer seamless cash free transactions. Where once the ring of a cash till was a sure sign of success, most modern shops will instead have their steady flow of payments signalled by the beeping of a card reader.
Cards are the new cash
Cards, especially in their contactless form, are quick to use, easy to pay with and make tracking purchases much easier with online banking. The simple decision to change from cash to card therefore has a knock-on effect on personal finance admin, time-saving and even moral stances like being green, with online banking lessening the need for paper receipts. In other words, offering card payments to your customers can help them in more ways than one.
The figures speak for themselves, and should prompt any smart business owner to get their hands on a card payment systemASAP! Three in five Brits favour paying by card to cash, with 58% of them choosing card before any other form of payment. While this may leave over 40% of consumers happy to pay by cash, small businesses should bear in mind that the average amount of cash carried by brits is just £32.54, hardly enough to fund a single purchase if your shop is a customer’s third or fourth stop along the high street.
£647.3 billion worth of sales was made in the first quarter of 2017 alone. In fact, 27% of shoppers say they haven’t completed a purchase when they discovered a shop did not accept card and 28% said that this would impact negatively on their overall opinion of the business. That’s a lot of potential customers or repeat customers lost when the solution is as simple as a card reader. And for modern businesses, it’s expected by shoppers that they can pay any way they want – a staggering 60% of customers would be more likely to visit their local small businesses if they knew they could pay with card.
Not just about customer convenience
Permitting card payments isn’t just about making life easier for your customers, you’re sure to benefit as a business owner, too! Say goodbye to counting penny after penny of the day’s takings, nervous trips to the bank with bags full or cash or having to run through your receipts with a fine-tooth comb to calculate your sales. With an EPOS system for card payments, customers complete their payments with a single tap or by quickly inserting their PIN, and that’s it! All sales are recorded in your system so you can view, analyse and compare your total sales in a single glance. There’s no risk of money being lost under the cash drawer or rolling under the counter and you can even send receipts digitally so your customers will have a much more secure record of their purchase that a paper receipt hastily stuffed in a pocket.
A portable card payment system makes things even more convenient for businesses that have no set location or a counter to have a till wired up to. Even if your business inhabits no more than a corner in a local train station, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ease and convenience of card payments.
Take card, keep customers
Between the high street and the extensive choice of online shops, if customers can’t complete their purchase with you, it’s far easier for them to find what they need elsewhere than source a cashpoint. And with the average Brit going weeks between trips to the ATM, it’s a huge inconvenience that will likely confirm your brand’s status as one they never intend to visit again.
Keep things simple, easy and sales-effective for both you and your customers and make sure you're equipped to take card. You’ll never lose a sale, customers won’t lose faith in your brand as a modern business and ease of pay will increase your customer service in a way that may well see the same customers come through the door again and again!
Small Business Spotlight - How Technology Can Help Small Businesses
Thursday, November 16 at 08:34
Advance business analytics were once only available to the business giants of the high street and remained something small businesses could only dream of, but new technology is changing all that, and now the ‘little guy’ is just as well equipped as the retail titans to analyse every aspect of their business and get the insight they need to make their businesses perform better than ever.
We’ve caught up with two small businesses who have used this technology to improve their sales and even their health.
Flower Girl London
Sam Jennings runs Flower Girl London from the corner of a busy South London train station.
Originally operating from 11am – 8pm, the long hours were doing little good for Sam. After making the switch from a cash-only business to one that operates with an EPOS, Sam could track her sales per hour and discovered that the morning rarely bought in many customers. Changing her hours to 3pm – 8pm, Sam now works less while making more money and has more time to rest and relax. It also means she has more energy for big weekend jobs like weddings and events.
This small change that has helped Sam take better care of her health and enjoy better sales would never have happened without technology lending a helping hand, as Sam herself says, “It’s great…how technology can help even the smallest of businesses to be more efficient.”
A good analytics system can help small businesses get a better understanding of their sales, but for those business owners who prefer to be far more precise, it can even help with interior design, as Andy, owner of Wookey Hub, discovered.
A café and grocery store set in Wookey, Somerset, Wookey Hub was subject to Andy’s crisp experimentation earlier this year. Having gained the technology he needed to track his sales on an item by item basis, Andy was able to pinpoint precisely which position in the store raised his crisp sales. Over the course of a month, Wooky Hub homed a very active crisp stand, which Andy moved to different positions seeking the spot that got the best customer sales.
It’s the sort of marketing precision that would have relied on guesswork without the right technology, and now Andy can enjoy an unrivalled insight to his sales trends and, of course, better crisp sales!
Find out more at squareup.com/gb
Find out more at squareup.com/gb
Better people for Better business
Tuesday, November 14 at 08:07
Managing talent in small businesses can be a real challenge.
Just as you begin to congratulate yourself on identifying good people and getting them in the door, new challenges arise around developing them, managing career breaks (eg maternity/paternity) and demonstrating opportunities for career progression to keep them.
The necessary administration can also be a headache, from payroll and taxes to employment law, performance and pay reviews. Even large and well-resourced business can occasionally fall foul of the law.
For most businesses, people are their greatest asset. But in a small business where everybody is a specialist in their field, how do new employees develop? Take the finance function – the accountant in a business of 15 employees may be the only finance professional. Who do they consult, learn from, observe? How do they cope when they face new situations, like growth, cash flow difficulty, sector diversification, or system failure?
On 14 November 2017 ACCA will publish results of research into managing talent in smaller businesses. It shows that the three main attractions for employees aged 35 or under of working in smaller accounting practices are:
· job security (86%)
· work/life balance (83%)
· flexible working arrangements (71%).
The research also reveals that it often pays to look outside of your business to help deliver your talent. If you have an existing relationship with a qualified accountant, could they mentor your new finance person? Is your employee taking advantage of local networking opportunities (ACCA’s 39 regional member networks cover most of the UK) or perhaps there is a local breakfast club for finance professionals? Sometimes an individual may wish to pursue more formal training or work towards their next level of professional exams.
A little flexibility on the part of the employer can engender greater employee loyalty and professional skills development, which ultimately will benefit your business. When talented individuals move on after receiving an offer they can’t refuse, your business can bask in the glow of a reputation for developing talent and you can use this as a hook when recruiting a replacement. Incidentally, ACCA’s Jobs Board (60,000 vacancies at the time of writing) can help you find new talent.
Apprenticeships are also changing fast and have the power to radically change how you manage your talent. New apprenticeships standards are suitable for both new recruits and more experienced staff. You may be able to unlock funding to support employees studying for ACCA’s brand new ‘Trailblazer’ Level 4 Accounting Technician Apprenticeship.
In the coming months ACCA will explore the issue of talent further, seeking practical guidance for our members and the businesses which employ them. It will see us explore the central tenet that better people make better businesses.
Nick Jeffrey – Regional head of policy (Europe and the Americas) ACCA
Taking Your Business Beyond the High Street
Friday, November 10 at 10:00
It’s the dream that has driven many an entrepreneur to start their small business; owning your own shop front. A place on the high street is a fantastic achievement, and something that any small business should take pride in – who doesn’t want a space to stamp their brand identity on? As powerful as a personal slot in the parade of high street shops may be, shopping habits have moved on from simply popping down the shops, now, people don’t even have to pop out of bed to make a purchase, a few taps on a smartphone or tablet, and voila.
For small businesses seeking success, it’s time to embrace the sales opportunities beyond the perfectly dressed window – an event five minutes from your shop door might be drawing customers away, so why not get in on the action too? Get online and get out there, here are our top tips for helping grow your brand’s presence and its customer following:
Enrol for Events
The event is a powerful thing, while your shop may boast a great shop front, amazing products and even a tempting sales event, a single shop can’t match the buzz and draw of an organised event like a market or fair. These events are committed to promotion of the businesses they showcase, but they also promise their visitors a fantastic experience overall. And experience is something people are willing to pay for. In fact, Eventbrite found that consumers aged between 18 – 34 collectively spent over £419 million a month on experiences over things and are readier than ever to discover the latest happenings, like Small Business Saturday.
Research events in your area, many town centres will boast their own markets on the weekend and for major cities local listings can help you keep up to date with all the events that occur week to week. Food traders should get in on the boom in food markets, joining the dozens of traders that showcase at almost any given event and feeding the hungry bellies they find there. Seasonal markets, especially in the run up to Christmas, really amp up the atmosphere, giving local businesses across food, drink, music and gifts the perfect platform for the most important shopping month of the year, stalls quickly get booked up, so prepare well in advance for this major date in your trading calendar.
Events like these also come with a sense of exclusivity, running for a limited time only, which has a positive effect when it comes to sales – almost half of all consumers say they have visited a pop-up in the last 12 months enticed in by their here-for-now nature. Every appearance is a chance to gather new customers, so even if your first off-site pop-up is a at the local school fair, you’re sure to make sales, hopefully gain a few return customers and, of course, gain valuable learning experience for your next outing. So, arm yourself with a portable payments system, a selection of your most eye-catching wares and instead of waiting for customers to come to you, go straight to them!
Providing your brand with an online presence is vital in modern times, even if your business isn’t suited to an online store, you can still enjoy the benefits of being omnichannel by having social media channels that let you connect with and build your customer base. An Instagram photo of your latest rainbow cake creation, for example, can quickly become reason for anyone who likes the snap online to pay your physical location a visit, just look at the rise of the Freakshake!
If your business is a business that sells goods rather than services, then an online store is a must-have, as is making it optimised for mobile visits. A recent survey found that most small businesses are set to miss out on the £27 billion Brits will spend on mobile shopping this year. A lack of mobile-compatible websites, only 18% of small businesses currently accommodate mobile visits to their sites, is the main obstacle between small businesses and their online sales enjoying a boost.
Making an online store is far simpler than you think, with many apps letting you get set up for both desktop and mobile visitors in a few clicks. Once you’re up and running, you’ll have something to point your online followers at. A Facebook post that they like can lead to the product page, can lead to a purchase. Another useful addition to your site is a blog. This is where you can offer great content to your customers like how-tos, previews of new products and behind-the-scenes glances of your business which can add a real sense of personality to your brand. These blog pages also help improve your site’s metrics i.e. can help people find your site in the first place, and more discovery means more potential sales!
Whether you're expanding online or into local events, having a system in place to track all of your sales together will mean you can spend more time selling and less time on admin. Find out more about Square here: squareup.com/gb
Five reasons to be optimistic about access to finance in 2018
Thursday, November 09 at 12:23
SMEs continue to face major challenges when it comes to managing their cash flow and accessing new forms of finance. Indeed, for many, the range of finance products out there can seem bewilderingly complex – and just having a handle on the latest information can prevent some SMEs from taking advantage of these opportunities. Added to this, an uncertain economic environment may make some small firms wary of exploring what’s available.
However, there are a number of recent developments to UK finance markets that should make it easier for SMEs to manage their money and identify new opportunities to help grow their business in 2018.
1) Launch of the Small Business Commissioner ready for the start of 2018
A third of payments to small businesses are late, which can cause significant cash flow difficulties and even insolvency for some small firms. Therefore in October 2017 the Government announced the appointment of the UK’s first ever Small Business Commissioner, Paul Uppal, who will lead an independent office tasked with tackling some of these problems and supporting those SMEs facing disputes with larger firms over poor payment practices. The Commissioner’s office will be fully operational from the start of next year.
2) Business Finance Guide goes digital
Launched by the British Business Bank in 2014 and supported by ACCA, the Business Finance Guide provides free information about relevant finance options at every stage of an SME’s business journey. The resource also helps small firms understand about the range of alternative finance solutions available to small firms, depending on their size and circumstances. The free guide is available here: https://thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/
3) Open Banking revolution begins
In 2016 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), an independent regulator, concluded that a lack of competition was leading to SMEs paying too much for banking products and services as well as being prevented from taking advantage of new innovative technologies.
The CMA subsequently announced the launch of the Open Banking initiative, which should help SMEs to shop around for their banking more easily. This should help level the playing field between the UK’s ‘big six’ banks and the rest of the UK’s SME lenders, leading to a fairer, more competitive market for everyone. Further information is available here: https://www.openbanking.org.uk/.
4) Finance Referrals platforms give you another chance to borrow
Small businesses who have been unsuccessful in lending applications can now take advantage of a Government mandated referral scheme. SMEs now have the right to be referred to three designated online finance platforms where a large number of different finance options are made available. Launched earlier this year, these platforms will be further developed in 2018, and should help more SMEs to access the finance they need to grow.
5) New funding available for SMEs in the Midlands and Northern England
This year’s launch of both the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse investment funds were major blueprints highlighted in the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which contained a central pledge to rebalance finance markets for small firms away from just London and the South East. Both funds will look to expand the finance available to local SMEs in 2018, and in particular, simplify the process for obtaining funding for new start-ups. More information is available here https://northernpowerhouse.gov.uk/ and https://www.midlandsengine.org/.
Head of SME Policy, ACCA
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
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:
- Follow this link: My Small 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
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
- Accounting (2)
- Applications (1)
- Brain Power (1)
- Brand (2)
- Branding (4)
- Btube (1)
- Budgeting Tips For Small Business (1)
- Bus Tour (4)
- Business (1)
- Collaboration (4)
- Crowdfunding (2)
- Customer (1)
- Customer Service (3)
- Digital (10)
- Economy (1)
- Energy Savings (3)
- Events (2)
- Exhibiting (1)
- Fashion (1)
- Federation Of Small Business (1)
- Finance (9)
- Fsb (1)
- Getting Online (6)
- HR (6)
- Health (1)
- How To (15)
- Inspiration (18)
- Inspire Series (1)
- Legal (1)
- Marketing (12)
- Networking (3)
- Plan (2)
- Planning (5)
- Protect (1)
- Quick Guide (5)
- Recruitment (5)
- Research (1)
- Retail Space (4)
- Sales (3)
- Shop Share (3)
- Small Biz 100 (7)
- Small Business (24)
- Small Business Saturday (20)
- Small Business Saturday 2015 (6)
- Small Business Saturday Uk Champion (2)
- Social Enterprise (1)
- Social Good (2)
- Social Media (11)
- Start-Up Support (12)
- Toolkit (3)
- Top Tips (13)
- Video (1)
- We Are Pop Up (4)
- Women (1)
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