Small Business Saturday Blog

A Guide to: Handling Small Business Disputes

Wednesday, September 14 at 16:08How To | Legal | Top Tips

Small businesses may face a variety of challenges over their lifetimes, but lengthy and increasingly expensive court cases do not need to be added to the list. The good news is that intellectual property and employment conflicts, or late payment issues can be managed without resorting to litigation.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the ideal solution to small business disputes.  An umbrella term for a whole range of processes and techniques that help parties resolve conflict without going to court, ADR usually involves the assistance of a neutral third party, and is often less formal, cheaper and quicker than litigation.

In addition to being highly time and cost efficient, ADR is also confidential and offers a discrete and neutral setting for businesses looking to protect their public image. Both arbitration and mediation are two examples of popular ADR processes.

With this in mind, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ Business Arbitration Scheme (BAS) is highly recommended to small businesses, as it delivers five tangible benefits which are worth considering before making a decision as to whether or not it is in your businesses’ best interests to resort to litigation.

1. Fixed fee: BAS is a fixed fee scheme, providing certainty as to costs from the outset.

2. Speed: BAS offers the certainty of a final and legally binding decision in less than 90 days from the appointment of the arbitrator.

3. Simplicity: The BAS rules were created with simplicity in mind, allowing ease of use and flexibility.  The scheme is simple enough for businesses to present their own case without legal representation if they so wish.  Formal procedural steps have deliberately been kept to a minimum.

4. Limited Costs: The costs recoverable have been limited to protect parties against liability for their opponents’ high legal bills.

5. Specialist panel: CIArb provides a specialist panel of arbitrators.

In addition, a recent survey conducted by the Institute indicated that:

94% found the Scheme to be an attractive proposition for small businesses involved in low to medium value disputes;

93% found the cost of the Scheme appealing;

98% found the short timetable of benefit; and

96% found the Scheme easy to understand.

Aimed at being accessible and straightforward, BAS was launched following the increase in court fees last year, which in some cases, saw a hike of up to 600%. CIArb decided it was time to take action as it became apparent that small businesses in particular were disproportionately affected, and that many felt priced out of accessing justice through the court system.

As the majority of small businesses usually initiate court proceedings to recover unpaid monies, it was important to ensure that there was a scheme in place, tailored to the needs of businesses who had legitimate debt claims but felt that it wasn’t worth it to pursue them through the courts.

Ultimately, businesses that wish to use BAS, should consider drafting an appropriate dispute resolution clause into their commercial contracts or into terms and conditions, before any dispute arises.  A free dispute resolution clause for BAS can be found here.

For businesses looking to manage their dispute(s) and prepare for conflicts long term- the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ Business Arbitration Scheme is worth investigating.

Post by Olivia Staines, PR and Communications Manager, CIArb & Keisha Williams, Head of DAS, CIArb. The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) is a leading professional membership organisation representing the interests of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practitioners worldwide. 

For more information on the Business Arbitration Scheme, please call +44 (0)20 7421 7444, email das@ciarb.org, or visit our website at www.ciarb.org/das. 


How to write the perfect job advert

Thursday, March 10 at 10:23How To | HR | Recruitment

This week, we hear from Small Business Saturday champion Parker Sourcing about how to write a brilliant job description for your small business vacancy

Every company wants to land the best workers to help drive their business forward, which is why creating an efficient and extremely attractive job advert is very important.  On too many occasions, businesses fail to articulate the ethos of the company and specific responsibilities of the post, meaning many potential and talented candidates slip through their hands.

To lure in the most creative, innovative and cutting-edge individuals, your job advertisement must be packed with reasons for candidates to contact you. But saying that, you probably won’t want Scooby Doo and the gang showing up for an interview and wasting valuable time either, so it’s all about striking the right balance to attract the people you want to hire.
For example, you’re looking for someone to come in and head up your marketing team. You want them to take the bull by the horns from day one and create some great, catchy and viral advertising campaigns to really drive your business forward. However, you’re also a very flexible and team-orientated company who loves to get staff helping out across multiple departments. Would you really want to employ a marketing guru who had a less-than-positive attitude towards customer services?

It’s essential that you make your job requirements clear to the reader in order to attract the right people for the job and to whittle out anyone who probably won’t fit the bill. If you’re on the lookout for a technically savvy developer for your I.T department, who can also provide the rest of the company with computer training, then you’ll need that person to be a confident communicator and not just a heads-down coding wizard.

Is your company a fun, challenging or rewarding place to work? Let people know about it upfront, so they can picture themselves in the role. Be positive about the culture of the organization to have people really wanting to work for you. Put yourselves in their situation; they’re looking for a place where they can connect with the people around them; an environment they can look forward to working in every day when they wake up in the morning. Capture the personality of your company, and you’re well on your way to attracting the right candidates for your post.

It’s not always easy to remember what information to include in when you post a job online, so to make sure you have everything covered, work your way through this list before you click ‘submit’:
1. Have you included a clear job title for the position?
2. Have you supplied a definite list of educational requirements and experience required to take on the job?
3. Have you outlined a salary range for the position?
4. Have you included the amount of working hours required per week?
5. Have you listed a transparent set of duties that
 the role involves?






For more hiring advice, read Lee Parker's previous blog post: Why Job Descriptions Matter

Hiring a VA: What's it all about?

Wednesday, March 02 at 13:11Collaboration | How To

We speak to Small Biz 100 Alumnus and Champion Agile Administration about the benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant...
As businesses are expanding, many owners are increasingly using the services of Virtual Assistants.

We all juggle the work-life balance and don’t always have the time to take care of everything on the to-do list.  A Virtual Assistant can help with that!

There are lots of benefits to using a VA, one being that there are no additional overheads for you. We work independently from our own premises, ensuring that you will only be paying for the actual time that you use our services. You will not be paying for someone’s time when there is nothing to do, or for someone who is late to work or on a coffee break, or if someone is on holiday or off sick.

When you hire a VA, you don't have to think about PAYE, National Insurance or agency fees, providing a desk, a phone or training up new staff.

Another key benefit of using a VA is that we are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, which is perfect for those emergency jobs when your secretary or office assistant may have already left for the day and you urgently need work completing. Perhaps you just need occasional cover for employees who are on holiday or off sick so that the work doesn't pile up.

Using these services will give you the time to focus on your core business activities rather than spending it on time-consuming administrative tasks, whilst having the assurance of a professional, confidential and flexible service available to you at all times.

All assignments can be delivered and returned by email, post, courier or by hand (locally only), to suit you. It really doesn’t matter where you are located, the advantage of using Virtual Assistant services means we can assist you wherever you are. Some of the recent projects that we have worked on have included:

Writing press releases, PR/print and media, event management
Acting as an agent for a talented act in the music industry
Digitalising paper records and creating new systems
Working on an app currently in development
Bookkeeping
Mentoring authors with social media training with a view to them understanding self-promotion
Digital audio transcription services
Acting as Marketing Director for a publishing company
Reformatting of HR policies for HR consultants
Lead generation work for a voiceover artist
Setting up and managing social media platforms and website management for a property development company

A Virtual Assistant can help your small business by offering executive, concierge and business support services!


Whatever your business needs, Agile Administration Services is here to help you lighten the load.

We have worked with clients as far south as Surrey, as far north as Dundee and overseas and are delighted to not only have been selected as a Small Biz 100 business by Small Business Saturday in 2014, but since then have been asked to be Small Business Saturday Champions in 2015 and 2016

For a no obligation free chat please contact me on 07772733349, Cathy Wright, Director of Agile Administration Services. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & the website 


Why job descriptions matter

Tuesday, February 23 at 11:28How To | Recruitment | Small Business

This week, we hear from Small Business Saturday champion Parker Sourcing about why writing a job description matters in order to find the best people for your small business


According to a recent study carried out by totaljobs.com, job seekers are now willing to travel larger distances to attend job interviews. The research shows that, in fact, those looking for work will travel up to around 72 miles for the chance to shine in front of prospective employers.

What’s more, the study also finds that job-hunters now spend much longer preparing for interviews than they did last year, with 44% putting at least two hours into planning and company research for each job opportunity. That’s a fairly large 12% increase on the previous year, showing that candidates are realizing the competition for jobs and are equally putting their foot on the gas – quite literally – to leverage themselves onto a higher platform.

The figures also mean that some businesses must look at the interview stage of recruitment a little more seriously rather than flippantly. With candidates now putting in the extra mile to impress prospective employers, it’s important that company’s hone their interview techniques too, and provide each potential employee with a fair and dedicated experience. For more information, please refer to our guide next week on writing a job description.

Additionally, companies should keep in mind their location when advertising on job boards. That is, if a job seeker is willing to travel further to your premises, then it makes sense to target those within a wider locale.



Next week, Parker Sourcing will give tips for writing the perfect job description for your role, here on the Small Business Saturday blog 





Inspire Series: Taking the first steps in recruitment

Wednesday, October 14 at 14:39How To | Inspire Series | Recruitment | Start-Up Support

We are pleased to announce Dylan O’Neil from Indeed to run a four-part series of workshops in the Small Business Saturday Headquarters at Somerset House on 'Expanding your business - Taking the first steps in recruitment'.

In this series Indeed, the world's #1 source of external hires, will provide great tips for small businesses looking to find great employees to help their business grow. From writing your first job description to deciding where to advertise your jobs, Indeed will share insights they have gained from analysing job seeker behaviour across the UK.

The first workshop in the series will be giving Tips for Top Notch Job Content from 11:45am on October 22nd.

The second workshop in the series will be presenting How People Search for Jobs Today from 11:45am on October 29th.

The third workshop in the series will be on Investing to Reach the Best Talent from 11:45am on November 17th.

The fourth workshop in the series will be on Measuring for Success from 11:45am on November 30th.

The events are free for small businesses to attend and will be an hour long with opportunities for questions. They will be live streamed on Periscope with real time Twitter Q&A, so even if you are not in the room you can still get involved. Make sure you follow @SmallBizSat for updates.

For more information and to register attendance please visit the links above.

With thanks to Indeed for the support of these workshops.

Quick guide to Recruitment

Wednesday, August 19 at 09:24How To | Recruitment | Toolkit


Recruitment Tips for Small Businesses


It goes without saying - finding the right person for your small business is pivotal for success! To help you along the way, FreshMinds have outlined some top recruitment tips…




Stage One - Gaining Interest


Job Adverts: where to advertise?


Local or national newspapers
Industry specific job websites 
LinkedIn 
Universities/Schools - get in touch with the careers service department 
Twitter – post a link to your advert 

Structure

Role title and short summary (approximately 25 words)
Company information 
Responsibilities – day to day tasks and/or specific projects 
Candidate requirements – academics, specific skills and industry experience 
Details – location, salary, start date and benefits* 

*List these details to keep them brief/factual



Pay extra attention to the role title and first line. For example: "Boutique, family run hotel requires a top manager with a ‘can do’ mentality to help run, plan, promote and organise all hotel services".

The basic format to follow is: (enter: description of the company) “requires a” (enter: role title) “to help/lead/manage” (enter: two responsibilities of the role). Don't start with “we/I am looking for…”


Outline the unique selling points such as flexibility, company culture and training and use specific words/terms to ensure your role appears in the relevant candidate searches. Ensure that the tone and language is aligned to your company’s message.


Databases

We recommend using…

Reed
LinkedIn
Specific industry databases (technology, marketing, sales, finance, start-up)

Most databases use Boolean search logic to allow you to find keywords or phrases on a profile or CV. Here are some of the basic principles of a Boolean search:


Search for more than one word by entering the phrase into quotation marks, for example “customer service”. Search for more than two words by using AND (must be in capitals), for example ‘’French AND Spanish’’


Find a profile which includes one or more terms by using OR (must be in capitals), for example: “hotel manager OR restaurant manager". Exclude a term by stating NOT before the phrase/word, for example ‘’marketing NOT direct marketing”.

It’s important to remember that the majority of databases charge either a one off or fixed annual fee.


Events/ Networking


Attend free or paid networking events to meet prospective candidates or attend career events or open days at schools/colleges and universities. Select schools and universities based on their Location and relevant degrees/subjects (look at Times University Guide for rankings on specific University subjects).



Stage Two – Assessment


CV Screen


Select three main points you require from CVs to quickly assess applications, for example: 2.1 degree, retail experience, and programming. Check for grammar and ensure the application process has been followed in the correct format. CVs shouldn’t be any longer than 2 pages. Only select a handful of candidates to progress to the next stage (generally 4 for 1 position is a good ratio).

Once selected call the candidates to ensure they are still available and outline next steps. This should include: assessment processes, timescales and salary expectations.


Face-to-Face or Telephone Interviews


We think that it’s really important to meet everyone face-to-face but a telephone interview can be useful for the first round.


Interview Structure


Welcome the candidate and explain the format of the interview. Ask how much they know about the position then give them an explanation about the company/role. This is a good indication of how much research they have done beforehand.


Get them to talk through their career to date and give rationale behind their decisions. For example: why did they choose that course/degree or why did they leave that position at that point? When talking through their experience within a role ask them to break it down into either day to day or project by project responsibilities.


Competency based questions (these must be the same for all candidates to ensure you can benchmark). Select 4-5 main competencies and create a question template. Competencies include: collaboration, problem solving, team work, leadership, drive, resilience, attention to detail, innovation - the list is endless! Questions can either be based on case studies (you may want to consider real life scenarios which have happened at the company) or experiences. For example:


Drive (experience) – ‘Describe an example of when you have been incredibly driven to succeed?’

Problem solving (case study) - ‘imagine you were on the shop floor and X happened, how would you react?’

Good answers should be structured and clear. The CAR technique can be useful for analysing this:

Context
Action – responsibility (did they lead or assist)
Result - what was the measurable output? (specific figures, customer feedback, company feedback)

Ask questions about their motivations and current situation e.g. are they interviewing elsewhere? When are they able to start? What salary are they looking for? – ensure you have a figure in mind and justifications for this.


Then ask them if they have any questions about the role. When are they able to start? Outline your timescales and when they should expect to hear from you.

Cultural fit is very important so it’s a good idea for the candidate to meet your team members.

Trial Day

You may want to consider a trial day/afternoon to give you a good indication of their performance.



Stage Three - Offer


Give the candidate some time after the interview before offering to ensure they have considered the opportunity. Once the candidate has accepted make sure that you send contracts as soon as possible.

Recruitment Companies

The recruiting process can be long and very time consuming. Recruitment companies can help you by managing this entire process and providing you with a selection of shortlisted candidates to interview. You may want to consider this option if you feel it’s a worthy investment.

You can also hire people on an interim basis through recruitment companies and they can be paid through an agency so it is a very quick process – you could have someone start tomorrow! This is a good option to consider around busy seasons.

Research different recruitment companies and select one which is specialised to your sector – ask them to outline case studies and state their ratios of filling positions.




With thanks to FreshMinds









Quick guide to PR & Marketing

Thursday, August 13 at 13:49How To | Marketing | Toolkit

Good PR: Some tips for small businesses

Before you even begin, understand what it is you want to achieve from your PR and marketing communications campaign. It’s much easier to make a plan if you have some idea of how you want to progress. Is it...

1. To drive traffic to your website?

2. To drive footfall to a store?

3. To raise brand awareness?

4. All of the above or something else?


The second question to ask is: if your PR campaign goes spectacularly well, where would your business be as a result? What would success look like? For example, you may be a business that wants to try and attract a new, younger demographic. You may say that within a year, you would like to have X% of your business coming from that new demographic. You will need to ask yourself how you are going to measure that and also what marketing initiatives would attract that demographic to your business.

Thirdly, if somebody takes no more than one thing from any of your media coverage, what should that one key message be? Make a list of your priority messages and make sure they are included within any media communication.

Then – and only then – can you build your plan and begin to contact the outside world. So: who would you speak to?


Consider which is the media that could influence your market. Is it the local press, your trade press, perhaps consumer lifestyle media or even the national press. Be clear what the story that you are pitching to them. Is it genuinely newsworthy? Apply the “so what?” question to it and still ask yourself if it is newsworthy. If it isn’t, you need to work harder on the idea. If it is, you can contact the media.

Buy the titles you want to contact before you do and be sure that it is the kind of story that they would run. They are not going to change their editorial approach to accommodate your story. Try and be aware of lead times and don’t call on a press day – they’ll be too busy putting the publication to bed to speak to you. Some monthly consumer publications can work 3-4 months ahead of their publication date.

If it is newsworthy, write yourself a press release. Keep it short. Ensure that the first paragraph not only includes your company name but also encapsulates the essence of the story. If you are quoting yourself or a colleague in the release, clearly you’re state your name and job title. Journalists receive hundreds of these a day – if you can’t give them the story in the opening paragraph, they won’t read on.

Don’t email the press release cold. It is unlikely to be opened and read. Find the name of the journalist you want to speak to or call the relevant desk at the publication and explain who you are and what your story is. They will almost certainly ask you to send an email, which is when you can use your press release - you will have made a contact that you can then follow up. Don’t hound them – if they’re not interested in the story, chasing them is not going to change their mind. It will probably make them less inclined to speak to you in future.

Be clear that you have high-resolution images available. Make sure you provide a caption for your photographs, including the names of any individuals within them. Do not attach them to the press release as this may cause your email to bounce or hit a firewall. You can upload images to the cloud (eg Dropbox or We Transfer) and include the download link in your email.

The overriding message is don’t be afraid to give it a go – the worst that can happen is that the media won’t be interested in your story. And that doesn’t necessarily mean your story isn’t interesting. Look at the publications you want to be in and read the way their stories are presented, think about how your story could be presented photographically and then structure your story and approach in a similar way and be persistent.



With thanks to Astute Marketeers


How I measure the success of my pop up?

Monday, August 10 at 09:56How To | We Are Pop Up

When it comes to launching a pop-up for your small business, what’s the difference between a roaring success and a full-on flop? The answer is: there’s no right answer. How you measure success is 100% tailored to your individual project and depends on what you want to achieve. We Are Pop Up has put together these top tips on how to evaluate your pop-up and make the most of the experience for showcasing your independent brand.


Set out your aims

Right from the start your pop-up should have clear goals - these are often different for each project. Whether you are popping up in order to make as many sales as possible, to reach a certain number of Facebook followers or create a media storm in the local and national press, starting out with concrete aims allows you to judge whether each has been achieved at the end of your pop-up. Don’t panic if you don’t achieve everything you set out to in your original plan. Take the results into account and revise your intentions and methods for next time, building on what you have learned.


Budget and profit

You may decide to set targets around revenue from sales. To measure success against spending, track all the set-up costs of the project to see where you spent your money. Include the cost of your stock, the shop fit (furniture, fixtures, fittings), press and marketing (printing and distributing flyers, business cards), signage (vinyls, A-board), website, advertising, business rates, utility bills, insurance, wifi, refreshments and so on.

Now compare the costs with the income generated by your pop-up. That includes revenue from sales and any ticketed events, plus any funding from other businesses, public donations, sponsorship or perhaps grants from local authorities.

Even if your revenue isn’t greater than your expenditure, making a loss doesn’t necessarily count as a failure if a cash profit was not the aim of your pop-up. If your goal was to create a buzz, test a new business concept or access new audiences then profit will be a useful marker, but not necessarily the deciding factor for your pop-up’s success.


Sales

If you are setting out to make the maximum possible sales for your products, make sure you test, listen and iterate on your tactics to find out what works and what doesn’t. Try out different products in your shop and take note of how people interact with them. Which items are the strongest performers and which aren’t working? Use this information to inform your choices on selecting, rotating and shelving stock for this pop-up and in the future. 

If you have an online shop alongside your pop-up, be sure to measure any uplift in sales online too. We Are Pop Up has seen brands enjoying an uplift in their online sales throughout their pop-up of 12-25% on average, which sustain and grow beyond the end of the pop-up.


Customer experience


Engage with your audience by speaking to customers before, during and after your pop-up. How did they hear about you? What do they think of your brand, pop-up, product range? Gather feedback, find out more about your audience and learn if their expectations have been met. Think about how you can maximise interaction with customers beyond the life of your pop-up by collecting email addresses in-store and sending follow-up mailers, offers and updates about what you are up to and what’s coming next.


Social media

Use qualitative data from your social media pages to measure your numbers, including likes on Facebook and Instagram, followers on Twitter and visitors to your website. How do these figures correlate with the activity and duration of your pop-up? Work out which social media posts resulted in the most engagement using analytics tools on each of your social media channels and be sure to use these techniques in the future.


Learn

One of the most important aspects about launching a pop-up is that it enables you to trial a new concept and grow your business in a low-risk and often low-cost way. It is an opportunity to experiment, so be bold and take chances. If you make mistakes, focus on what went wrong and turn it into a positive by learning how you can improve on the project next time. Entrepreneurs and small businesses understand that failure is an important part of the creative process, so use the experience to make your next pop-up even better. And if your pop-up is a roaring success the first time you’ll more than ready to take on the next project, so get back in contact with We Are Pop Up and we will be on hand to take you to the next stage.

To find out more about putting your small business into a pop-up, visit We Are Pop Up

Eight tips for branding your food business

Thursday, July 23 at 12:03Branding | How To

Are you looking for clever ways to brand your food business? It pays to ensure that your branding and packaging are spot on! This can be tricky to get right so it is important that you spend some time and resources on ensuring that you do everything you can to make it work for you.

Here are 8 essential bits of advice that can help your foodie small business stand out!


Great photos
You’d be amazed to see the difference that great photography can make to your product- people can become easily tempted by beautiful looking food stuffs. This works particularly well with simple items like bread and coffee packaging, as you can sell the product’s potential with lovely lifestyle photos that are engaging and warm – encouraging impulse buys.


Keep it simple 
Try not to overcrowd your packaging with pictures and text. Instead use clever placement of clear, crisp images to help attract your target audience and drive through a few more sales. This is also something that can easily be changed to keep up with seasonal changes or even the latest market trends.

Cocoa, Cacao, Chocolate, Food, Eat, Colombia, Packaging


Stay consistent 
Never underestimate the importance of being consistent – people respond better to brands when they are able to quickly recognise and relate to them. Even small changes in the regular packaging can make huge differences- and why companies can make a big show of rebranding.


Quality and quantity 
Make sure that your food packaging supplier is able to provide you with the quantity of packaging you need in the quality that your customers deserve. Getting this right is absolutely essential to build customer trust and encourage brand loyalty. More importantly though, you don’t want to not have your products on the shelves because of a delay in receiving packaging materials. 


Stand out from the crowd
It is important that you make the effort to ensure your product stands out from the crowd. Present your product in the best way possible, block bottom cellophane or paper bags are great packaging solutions. Try using your packaging to tell your company’s story, with creative text and imagery to really grab attention. This is the best advertising platform you have- any sales gained from it can be seen as a bonus.


Noodles, Colorful, Color, Color Raw, Food, Pasta


Keep to your principals
If you’re talking about your products as being organic, eco-friendly or boutique then you need to stick to these messages across your entire business. Use sustainable sources to provide your food packaging, keep non-recyclable or non-biodegradable products to a minimum and make sure that when people pick up your products they know the principals behind the company.


Don’t become dated
Getting packaging right isn’t a onetime thing, it’s a good idea to be regularly looking for ways to improve on your products and packaging. This could be anything from including new awards, promotions and ingredients to more subtle changes to the logo, colours or images. Staying on the cutting edge of the market trend without having to completely undergo a brand revamp can be tricky, but it is often essential. 


Do a customer survey 
It may sound like common sense, but take your customers into account when branding or designing your packaging. Why not take a small customer survey to find out what it is people want from your product’s packaging? This is arguably the most important tool you have!

Charlotte Packaging is a family run packaging business with over 40 years’ experience delivering industry food packaging supplies.

How to: set up a craft fair

Wednesday, July 22 at 13:33How To | Retail Space | Small Biz 100

Today we speak to Claire of The Fairy Tale Fair, a 2014 Small Biz 100, about how she goes about creating her Brighton based craft fairs...


Arranging a craft fair is a bigger job than it might seem at first. Well, arranging a busy one is anyway! It starts of with a lot of venue and location research - having a well liked venue and good location is key. This doesn’t always mean it has to be based in the centre of town - we organise local village fairs too, and if the marketing within the community is right these can be just as popular.




I am lucky that I am a maker myself and also take part in craft fairs across Sussex and London so therefore already have a range of craft contacts. This would be the next key step - researching, gaining and growing your contacts, as without the makers there is no fairs.

We are lucky that our fair has continued to build its stall holder base since 2012 and have a strong base of high quality makers. This takes time to build, and fair-by-fair, word of mouth and recommendations help us to gain new talent for each fair.

Next up I would say marketing is a very important part of any public event. You need to factor in a marketing budget into your stall prices as its often the most expensive part of the fair. You want to make sure you cover as many areas of marketing as possible - print, online, email, social media, blogs etc to reach as wider audience as possible.




We print at least 5,000 flyers for each event with many of these delivered door to door in the surrounding area of each fair. We also place print ads with well known local magazines, and do a huge amount of social media sharing, blogging and online networking. It depends as to what your event is and what the target market is as to whether online or print is better so if you are unsure its probably worth trying both on a small scale to start with. The advantage of online ads - such as sponsored Facebook posts - is that you can track the clicks and stats, where as print is harder to judge a response to.

This brings us to the all important big day of the event. I always set the alarm super early (3.30am for some events!) to get to the venue as early as possible. There is always lots to do - arranging tables, floor plans, cleaning, signage, etc that all take time.




We always like to go the extra mile with decorations where possible too. As our fair is fairy tale themed we like to make it feel magical with handmade bunting, fairy garlands, fairy lights and little extra touches in the entrance. Kids in particular pick up on this and it brings families back again and again.

Once we are set-up and the stall holders are in place, we post, tweet, share throughout the day so online followers can see what they are missing out on! We’ll share photos of freshly baked cakes, one off makes, workshops in action and beautiful painted faces to encourage visitors to get along before the end of the day.

We think this final push is always important. Even if customers have planned on visiting, they often have so much on that they may forget, so it is a good idea to continue to remind them in the few days leading up to and on the day.

Most importantly is that you, and your stall holders and customers enjoy the day!


For more information about The Fairy Tale Fair or to ask Claire a question head to: www.thefairytalefair.co.uk. They have two events coming up this summer including a Children’s Day at Brighton Open Market this Friday 24th July - this is a non profit event with lots of free under the sea themed activities for the holidays. They also have their next craft fair at Brighton Open Market on Saturday 15th of August.

FAQs about applying to Small Biz 100

Thursday, June 04 at 14:44How To | Small Biz 100

Here are some answers to common questions about applications:

Who can apply to be in Small Biz 100?
Any kind of small business can apply! Whether it's retail or online, professional services to personal training- all kinds of UK small businesses can apply.

It says "error" when I tried to register with my email address on "Apply for Small Biz 100"
Please make sure that your email address is right (it's happened to all of us!) and that you have both read the T&Cs and checked the little box to say you are happy with them.

If it's still not working, please send a screen shot of the error to comms@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com and we will help you from there

I registered with my email address on "Apply for Small Biz 100" but didn't receive an email
Please check your spam folders- it's quite common that we're hiding in there. If it's been a couple of hours and you haven't received an email- please let us know via comms@smallbusinesssaurdayuk.com

I can't log in with the email address and password that I registered with!
Please ensure your password is correct- our password system is case sensitive.

I finished my application to be in Small Biz 100- but want to change something. Is this possible?
Although it is possible to log in and change parts of your application before the applications close on July 17th, we recommend that you don't. We are reviewing applications on a rolling basis as they come in, so it's better to give us your best side of your small business on your first go.

What is My Small Business Finder?
My Small Business Finder is a tool for consumers and small businesses to use on Small Business Saturday and the surrounding time. It will enable you to enter a postcode & see the small businesses in that area. In addition, it will also allow you, a small business, to enter a promotion or deal or offer available to celebrate Small Business Saturday. It's just our way of trying to connect more customers with small businesses, and of course more small businesses getting to know each other. Nearer the time, we will let all our networks know via social media when they should be thinking about My Small Business Finder.



How to: Apply for Small Biz 100

Thursday, June 04 at 14:37Applications | How To | Small Biz 100

Hello!

We're thrilled you're interested in applying for the Small Biz 100 in 2015.

Our online application process is really simple- but here is a step-by-step process to save you all some time.

In our portal we have: Small Biz 100 & My Small Business Finder.

Small Biz 100 is the opportunity to apply to be one of our 100 small businesses profiled in the 100 days before December 5th: Small Business Saturday. It is absolutely free and any kind of small business can apply.


STEP ONE

Go to our website, and click on the Small Biz 100 tab at the top. You will then see this and you need to click the big blue 'Apply for Small Biz 100' button.


STEP TWO

Then you will see these two boxes:


Fill in your company email address (a confirmation email will be sent here so make sure you can access it right away). Also have a look through our standard T&Cs to make sure you're happy and tick the box, and click Register.


STEP THREE

Next you'll see this green box pop-up box. As it says, an email will come to the address you provided shortly. They do sometimes get caught up in a Junk folder, so check there for your confirmation email.

You should receive an email with the following text:





Although the link looks a bit long and confusing- it's a super secure link meaning all your details stay with us. Click on the link!


STEP FOUR

You will be taken to this page:




Please then set a password- all the usual tips apply of use a combination of letters and number. 
Passwords are case sensitive!
Once you're happy with your password, please click Set Password.


STEP FIVE

Next you will get to this page:


To apply for Small Biz 100 in 2015 you need to complete:
  • Profile Tab
  • Account Tab
  • AND My Small Biz 100 Application
As you can see in the orange bubble- one of us at Small Business Saturday needs to verify your account before it is fully active. Once we have verified your small business this orange bubble will no longer be there. Hooray! This doesn't however stop you from completing your application.

Then start filling in all your info into the first PROFILE tab:




STEP SIX

In the ACCOUNT tab- you will see two switches. 

The first one- My Small Business Finder- relates to a search option we will have live further towards Small Business Saturday on December 5th. If you don't wish to be included and have your business put on a map for consumers to use, with any deals or offers you may be offering on the day- please turn the switch off. You can, of course, change this at any time. 

The second switch- our Newsletter. If you don't wish to receive our Newsletter, please turn the switch off. Again, you can change this at any time. 




STEP SEVEN

And last but not by all means least...Your Small Biz 100 Application!

We ask you to answer five questions and upload a video to apply to Small Biz 100 this year. 





Finally- click the big blue apply button at the end. 

Please note there is no email confirmation from your application- we will review all applications to Small Biz 100 and successful applicants will be notified by email at the beginning of August. 

Don't worry that we haven't received it- it all goes into our database which we check everyday. 


Thank you!





How to: make a YouTube video

Monday, June 01 at 13:16Btube | How To | Small Biz 100 | Video

Making a video is a great way to promote your small business. You introduce yourself to your customers and the viewers can get a good sense of the business style, your products and your personality.

This year, for The Small Biz 100, we would love for you to make us a short video to go with your application.

Making a short video is straight-forward, with heaps of benefits. This YouTube video from BTube should inspire you to get started, and below we share some tips. From beginners to pros- anyone can do it!



Step one: the right stuff for filming

Don't panic about the need for fancy equipment - these days most smartphones have great cameras and plenty of storage space for storing your video. Keep the camera steady with a tripod, propping your phone on a table, or digging out that selfie stick for shake-free content. You could also use the webcam on your computer or laptop to record.

If you have a digital camera, these will allow you to record a video, so play around until you find technology that is most suitable for you, your business and your budget.

Step two: the content

Speak up! We want to hear what you have to say about your small business, so make sure to speak clearly and encourage anyone you interview in the video to do the same.

Take inspiration from BTube's video with 'cut-aways'- different shots of your small business or products with audio narration over the top talking about your small biz story.

Take your time, with a few different takes to make sure you capture everything you wanted to. It's supposed to be fun, so enjoy interviewing your employees, your customers or showing your products.

Step three: upload, edit, tweak

Each camera, smartphone or computer will differ slightly, but once you're done with filming you need to get the video files onto the computer.

To edit your video, like BTube say there's plenty of free editing software available. For PC users, Windows Movie Maker, for Macs there's iMovie. Work with what works for you & if in doubt, search online. There's hundreds of easy step-by-step articles to help you along the way, offering reviews of the different free software and tutorials.

It's also a great opportunity to ask for favours from your friends, family or colleagues who may know a thing or two on editing and making videos look great.

As BTube's video says, YouTube has plenty of audio files available for incorporating into your video, so make the most of all the free tools out there.

Step four: upload!

If you haven't gone one already, set yourselves up with a YouTube channel. Make sure you include all your small business details in the channel page with a link to your website, Twitter and Facebook page.

Give it a snappy title, make sure to use the most of the tags at the bottom of the video editor so your video comes up in as many searches as possible. Don't forget to set your video setting to 'public' once you're ready to share it with the world.

Once it's up on your YouTube page, share it via Facebook, Twitter and if possible embed it on your own website. Most importantly- send it to us with your Small Biz 100 application!

Remember, if your business is chosen as a Small Biz 100 this year, we will use your video to promote your business, so it's a great opportunity to show us & our followers what you're doing.

We can't wait to see your Small Biz 100 application videos! 



How to: get the right support

Wednesday, May 27 at 11:47How To | Small Business | Start-Up Support

When people are planning to start a business, they are often looking for external support – for someone to guide them on their journey, to give them a few pointers and to reassure them as they take their brave first steps into self-employment.

Others go ahead without consulting anyone or taking any external advice.  Whilst both methods can work, we would actively encourage anyone thinking about setting up a business to get some support in advance – the benefits are clear, those who do seek external support when starting out are much more likely to survive and thrive than those who don’t – so if you want your business to have the best possible chance of success then what harm can it do?


What support is out there?

Enterprise support providers are operating all across the country. They are there to help people looking to start up or already running a small business, providing a wide range of help and support. From answering simple questions, to offering sessions with business advisers on matters such as small business planning, marketing and finance.

Often they will have a variety of workshops on topics relevant to new small businesses; they may have access to loan funds which will help you when starting up – they will also have a good handle on all the other financial support which might be available to you locally.

Enterprise support providers can offer a variety of networking opportunities which will put you in direct contact with other people setting out on their own: people who you can share experiences with and more importantly who could become trading partners. Many enterprise support providers operate managed workspace or incubation facilities and so if you’re looking for good quality premises with support on tap – look no further!

There continues to be an increase in the demand for enterprise support services. People looking to set up a small business are calling upon membership to provide them with the independent support, advice and training that they need.

National Enterprise Network’s online business support directory, launched in May 2014, aims to help people looking for core support in starting up.  The directory signposts organisations operating directly in a local area that can offer start-up advice and support. It is organised by region and searchable by local authority area, making it an extremely easy search facility.

National Enterprise Network members are locally rooted in the communities they serve, so they know first-hand the opportunities that exist locally. For anyone thinking about starting a small business, enterprise support services such as ourselves can start a conversation, essentially an independent expert on your doorstep, to understand more about your requirements, your ambitions and aspirations and look to support you with a package of support according, much of which is free or heavily subsidised.


By Sue Fletcher from National Enterprise Network, who offer an email or telephone signposting service: 01908 605130 or email enquiries@nationalenterprisenetwork.org. 






How To: Crowdfunding for a Small Business

Tuesday, May 26 at 13:14Crowdfunding | Finance | How To | Inspiration | Small Business

For those who aren’t familiar crowdfunding is a new option to raise money by reaching out to the ‘crowd’, i.e. everyone online. You are able to gather funding to expand your business, or to embark on a new small business venture.

2013 saw crowdfunding raise £666 million in the UK, with that figure increasing to £1.7 billion in 2014. Crowdfunding is a particularly useful tool for small businesses that have difficulty finding funding from traditional sources.

In the US, a crowdfunding success story is the Pebble Smartwatch, whose campaign raised over $20 million. Recently in the UK, Scottish company BrewDog received £5 million through crowdfunding with their Equity for Punks campaign, with the goal of financing their business with support from happy customers. Crowdfunding is a fantastic opportunity to grow your business if you set up your crowdfunding campaign in the right way.

Be a Celebrity

You already have supporters. If you’re considering growing your business there are already customers who like how-and-what you do. Reach out to these customers along with your family and friends; offer them the opportunity to become more involved in the company to their own benefit as well as yours. These supporters are your advocates. Potential investors who don’t know you personally will see that they trust and value your company enough to invest, making them more likely to do so as well.

Be a Person

A crowdfunding campaign is about working together with your supporters to expand. To do this well you need to be a person: approachable and identifiable. Simply put, people are more likely to trust and invest in a company made up of people they can identify with.

Be Professional

That’s not to say there’s no place for facts and figure. Alongside your charming self they’re a valuable tool for someone to decide whether or not to hand over their money. Particularly to those bringing larger amounts of investment that might not know you, it’s important to present your professional side and display the business acumen behind your success.

Be Open

Explain what the project is for- in detail. Tell your supporters how the funds raised will be spent on new equipment, more staff, or extra retail and operating space. Tell them how this will increase business and tell them how that will allow you to repay their investment. Crowdfunding allows for a truly symbiotic relationship. Small businesses are able to find funding under fair terms and supporters benefit from the success of the small business; local investors will also enjoy the improvements to your business.

Be Ready

Crowdfunding provides great access to potential investors and simplifies investing in your business but there’s still work involved. Before the campaign begins, things already need to be in motion. Arrange interviews or reviews that will be available before and during your campaign to attract interest. Have updates ready to be sent out when you reach your goals; thanking the investors and explaining how those funds will be used. Be sure you have social media accounts set up, where you can post these updates and interact with your supporters.

Crowdfunding  requires effort, energy and focus. But with a good pitch and some preparation you can expand your business on your terms. If you want to start up a new venture or develop your business further go to YouCan2.de to learn more.


By Sam Hemming from YouCan2.de, a crowdfunding company where you choose the best option for you with complete control over your campaign’s length, target and return on investment as well as multiple funding options to suit you.



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