Small Business Saturday Blog

How Small Businesses Should Deal With Adversity

Monday, July 24 at 10:28
Inspiration | Planning | Quick Guide | Small Business | Small Business Saturday

Credit: pexels
My typical approach when faced with adversity is to see every problem as having a solution. This healthy attitude helps me problem solve, and prevents me from wasting any time. These days, you are spoilt for choice with resources and advice that can help you navigate the testing first few years of your new business. This advice is useful regardless of what vertical you are in, so keep reading for some advice on how small businesses should act when faced with challenging situations. Don’t panic – find a solution As a small business owner, you are important as the leader of the team. A lot of responsibility rests on your shoulders. One of these responsibilities is the need to stay calm under pressure. Panicking will hinder you from staying level-headed and coming up with a problem to your solution, and it will make your employees stressed too. Problem #1: Insufficient funds to make necessary investment Financial problems are common in businesses of all sizes. However, your finances may be a little more unstable if you are just starting up. It’s commonplace for businesses to make a loss until their third year. You need to pull up all of your data and analyse it thoroughly to determine where the leaks are in your ship.Are any of your accounts or departments operating at a loss? Perhaps your clients aren’t paying you what you truly deserve for your services?Here are some points for you to consider if you are running into financial hardship:● If you feel you deserve more money for your products or services, consider showing your clients the great results you have delivered to them. Don’t be afraid to ask for more, within reason.● Are there any projects or product ranges that just don’t yield enough of a profit margin? Take a look at this article for inspiration on ways you could cut costs, from shopping around for the best deals on your overhead costs, to embracing cloud technology.● Have you thought about diversifying into different lines of business to supplement your existing revenue? Maybe selling your product offering online will help you generate the revenue that you need to grow? This is so easy to do – there are a lot of online store creators on the market for you to get set up in a matter of hours. Take a look at start up favourite Shopify, popular among SMEs thanks to its premium designs.● Securing funding might be what you need to do when all else fails. This article has more information on these sources of funding, including loans and grants.Problem #2: No time to make important changes to your business 
credit: Pexels
 As a small business owner, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work and responsibility that comes your way. You need to be realistic about your workload and manage your time effectively. Here’s how:● Delegate the tasks you feel can be handed on to your employees, once they have received proper training. This will allow you to focus on the big picture task of growing your business.● Getting a good night’s sleep, exercising and eating well will help you stay focused and productive, reducing the time taken to complete important tasks● Luckily, there are plenty of time-hacking apps available to help you with your time management. Toggl is great to keep track of how long tasks are taking you, and Rescuetime helps you understand your daily habits so you can focus and be more productive. Give these apps a try make your days go further.The most important thing about the problems you face is to see every experience as a valuable lesson.Make sure that you make a report for every problem you face and document exactly what your solution was. Offering your employees guidance on how to implement solutions is key here, too – communicating effectively with them will save you from encountering the problem again.Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to help them blossom. She loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge with the world and encouraging entrepreneurial dialogue.

Meet the businesses on the bus: Gough Quarters

Thursday, November 26 at 07:51
Bus Tour | Inspiration | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday 2015

The Small Business Saturday Bus Tour is now under way! The tour is supported by TalkTalk Business and we are delighted to feature the logos of fifty TalkTalk Business customers on the #SmallBizSatUK bus!Hear from Aaron Gough of Gough Quarters, a Bristol-based business featured on the bus...What is your small business?A property management and lettings agencyWhere did you get idea to start your business? Having worked for a property management company for five years, my knowledge of the market meant I could start on my own and provide a high level of customer service.What's the best thing about working for a small business?The flexibility to provide a tailor made service of what is required rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.What makes your business unique?We keep as much as possible ‘in house’ – as little as possible outsourcing to third parties. From reference checks to inventory’s everything is carried out by us meaning that we know our properties inside out.

Meet the Businesses on the Bus: Unflatpack

Friday, November 20 at 12:13
Bus Tour | Inspiration | Small Business Saturday 2015

What is your small business?Unflatpack takes away all the hassle from self assembly furniture by sending a friendly trained furniture assembler to do the job quickly and professionally. What began as business to consumer service in London has grown into a national business with a rapidly developing commercial arm building the in-store display furniture for some of the UK's leading furniture and undertaking office fit out and large commercial furniture installations.Where did you get idea to start your business?After moving to London in  2004 and doing some property development in which I installed a few Ikea kitchens, friends of my junior doctor wife asked if I could help them install other flatpack furniture. I quickly realised that there wasn't a service sector for something that was a widely felt pain and set about creating one.What's the best thing about working for a small business?The freedom to wear as many hats as you choose.What makes your business unique?
The Unflatpack management team combines a blend of expertise and passion for the work we do with a solid understanding of marketing and how the business fits into the wider commercial landscape. We are also committed to using technology at every staged of the business to improve the service we give our customers and help us punch above our weight

Meet the Businesses on the Bus: Recipe

Friday, November 20 at 12:08
Bus Tour | Inspiration | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday 2015

What is your small business? We are an independent advertising agency called Recipe.Where did you get idea to start your business? In 2004 we saw a gap in the market to produce cost effective TV commercials for smaller brands. For the first time they could advertise on cheaper niche tv channels due to the introduction of Freeview and the expanding Sky platform but couldn't get cheap adverts made.When did the business begin? Three of us started the agency in 2004 from one of our founders bedroom and we've been growing organically ever since. We now have two offices in the West End and employ 35 people.What's the best thing about working for a small business?We're able to adapt to ever changing market conditions faster than the competition which gives us the edge. The advertising landscape is constantly changing with the frequent introduction of disruptive technologies and we need to constantly evolve to keep ahead of the trend.What makes your business unique? We're the only agency I know that started with three founders who had no experience in the advertising industry. This has meant we've developed a less bureaucratic and more efficient way of working which our clients love and can't be found at other companies.

Meet the businesses on the bus: Riverside Dental

Tuesday, November 17 at 09:48
Bus Tour | Inspiration | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday 2015

The Small Business Saturday Bus Tour is now under way! The tour is supported by TalkTalk Business and we are delighted to feature the logos of fifty TalkTalk Business customers on the #SmallBizSatUK bus!Hear from Bim Sawhney of Riverside Dental, one of the businesses featured on the bus...What is your small business?Riverside Dental is a state of the art, modern, award winning dental practice in Norwich city centre.Where did you get idea to start your business? I always wanted to have my own business and did not to work for other people long term. As a dentist, my ambition was to always set up my own practice!When did the business begin?11-11-11! 4 years ago!What's the best thing about working for a small business?Being responsible for the day to day running and seeing how the business flourishes over the years. There is no better feeling as a business owner walking in every morning to see the fantastic team we have assembled and interacting with our loyal patient base.What makes your business special?The team, patients, premises, location and our work ethic. These are the reasons we have achieved what we have done and won the awards we have. To find out more see our website www.riversidedental.co.uk and follow us on Twitter
Spot the Riverside Dental Logo!

Making the most of Small Business Saturday in the big city

Wednesday, November 11 at 14:38
Collaboration | Inspiration | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday 2015

Birmingham has a great reputation for its retail repertoire: with the iconic Bullring, the newly opened Grand Central, and the recently refurbished Mailbox; the second city has cemented its place on the map for being a shopaholic’s heaven. However, perhaps Birmingham’s best-kept secret is its thriving small business scene. In recent years, Birmingham has made moves to embrace its independents.  Initiatives like Joe Schuppler’s citywide loyalty card, Independent Birmingham, have helped locals and visitors alike to swap big businesses for lesser known shops, restaurants, and cafés.One of the pioneers in the push for supporting independent retail was, and still is, Great Western Arcade. Built in 1876, the Grade-II listed Victorian arcade was restored in 1984 and has since been voted Birmingham’s favourite building. Set right in the heart of the city, GWA is the home of independent retail, representing a step away from the high street, into an emporium of unique brands. The centre houses around 40 of Birmingham’s best-loved small businesses and is a modern day treasure trove. GWA offers everything from freshly made food and the finest wines, to hand-made trinkets and high-end goods from hand-selected designers. Though the businesses may be small, they are not to be underestimated, as many have been recognised both regionally and nationally by various award boards: GWA’s Loki is the most awarded wine merchant in Birmingham having won 11 major national awards in the past two years, whilst traditional delicatessen Anderson & Hill has been profiled by the Guardian as one of the best budget eateries in the city. The arcade has also recently welcomed luxury accessories store Peter Forson and will soon play host to leading lifestyle and menswear brand P&Co. GWA has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and there seems to be no sign of stopping anytime soon.Opportunities like Small Business Saturday present GWA with the much-needed and appreciated platform to shout about all that they have to offer. The GWA is choosing to celebrate the day as a collective body, rather than as separate shops.The general premise concentrates on trading out to get trade in, something that GWA’s central location will lend itself to nicely. The arcade is a popular thoroughfare given its proximity to the city’s major stations, particularly for commuters in the surrounding Colmore Business District, which alone has 35,000 professionals. In recent years, a huge focus for us has been making GWA a destination in its own right. For Small Business Saturday, we want to consolidate this, creating a market-vibe in the arcade itself and showing Birmingham what GWA is all about.Whilst we are keen to be seen as a whole centre, we are equally eager for each seller to be able to express their image in their own way. With such a wide-range of retailers comes a wide-range of activities. For example, the well-loved Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe is planning to give shoppers a taste of something sweet, having special guests from Alice in Wonderland hand out a selection of pick’n’mix treats.With the spotlight already on Birmingham’s thriving business scene, Small Business Saturday is set to see GWA shine.

TE&CH: Collaboration, Cross-Pollination and Re-imagination for small business success

Monday, August 24 at 16:52
Collaboration | Inspiration

Small Biz 100 Alumnus, Cinter are bringing you TE&CH on September 3rd 2015 at Central Working Whitechapel, London. They tell us a bit more about it...TE&CH is about doing things differently, drawing upon a mixture of expert perspectives, sharing new insights and facilitating linkages between seemingly disparate sectors and disciplines.Cinter describe how collaborative practices helped their business: “by collaborating with other small businesses we have been able to gain big company capacity from small organisations. We are able to do more, remain agile, share skills and reduce risk by making decisions and changes together. Collaboration has allowed us to reach a broader network outside of our main disciplines and the strong relationships we have generated by working with other organisations has allowed for unprovoked recommendation. Without collaboration our business wouldn’t be as dynamic and effective.”The TE&CH event will host talks and exhibits that will provide practical knowledge and advice on future technology, innovation and productive collaboration. TE&CH will demonstrate the power of inter organisational collaboration to create profitable, sustainable, and efficient solutions that will respond to business and societal needs.A highlight for our network will be the opportunity to converse with fellow small businesses BIMscript, Sutrue, Massless, GrowUp and BentoBio. They will be identifying technology as a means to innovate as part of the early speaking session. TE&CH also sees the importance in varied and stimulating break out sessions and enhanced networking via Weave.This is a great opportunity for small businesses to meet and discuss all things collaborative. The highly anticipated panel discussion will draw all the sessions together into a healthy discussion with delegate participation.Cinter intends to establish TE&CH as a regular event and a conduit to a growing community of businesses interested in cross-sector activity and collaboration. It will draw upon a wide and varied network of professional connections across the London tech scene, enabling TE&CH to act as a focal point for innovative thinking. Network members and event supporters alike will benefit from newly-established connections between blue chip companies, highly-investable tech startups, and forward thinking service providers.Please register your attendance here or contact Charlotte Downs on 020 7607 0704 | charlotte@te-ch.uk | @teandch

Stunning scented flowers from a stunning location

Wednesday, June 17 at 09:05
Inspiration | Small Business

We are very privileged to live and work on the beautiful Isles of Scilly, a group of islands 26 miles off the south west tip of Cornwall.  This small group of islands has long been famed for growing scented narcissi – multi headed small daffodil type flowers that have a beautiful perfume.  Over 150 years the flower farmers of the Isles of Scilly have earned a reputation for growing the best scented narcissi. Flower farming has flourished on Scilly due to the islands mild climate – frosts are virtually unheard of even in the harshest winters.  Scented narcissi grow outdoors and flower from October through to Easter.Years ago Scilly’s farmers benefited hugely from the railway which took their flowers direct from the ferry in Penzance to Covent Garden in London.  However in the 1980’s when flowers started to be air freighted from around the globe, competition increased and flower growers on Scilly found it hard to compete.My parents-in-law, Andrew and Hilary, were determined to keep our small farm on St Martin’s going. They looked for a scented summer flower and chose traditional English scented pinks.  By a process of trial and error they made a success of the new crop and this extra income helped keep the farm afloat. Then one day some holidaymakers passed our farm and asked Andrew if he thought the scented pinks could be posted as a gift for their friends at home.  This spark of an idea was grabbed by my in-laws and from very humble beginnings, literally on the kitchen table, and nearly 25 years later Churchtown Farm sends 90,000 gift boxes of postal flowers a year and the farm is a thriving business, helping to keep the island tradition of flower farming alive.My parents-in-law have now handed over the day to day running of Churchtown Farm to my husband, Ben, and myself, Zoe and we live on the farm with our two children Rosie and Piran.  St Martin’s is a very special place, we are surrounded by the most beautiful scenery and a close community of about 130 people. Being so remote obviously does bring with it some unique challenges when it comes to running a business!There are 18 of us picking and packing the flowers and when you only have a population of 130, 25 of whom are still at school, you have to cast your net a little further afield.  We have a talented team from all over the world who have come to experience island life and live at the farm.  Some come for just six months, others fall in love with Scilly and make St Martin’s their home.Obviously the weather influences life in a big way. All our gift boxes of flowers go by boat to the larger island of St Mary’s from where they are then flown to the mainland.  If the weather is stormy or the fog comes in it can disrupt logistics.  We spend quite a lot of time watching various weather websites and making plans to minimise any disruption.We also have to be very organised - not something that comes naturally to me! We plan months in advance to make sure we have all the things we need.  If we run out of boxes we can’t just call our supplier and ask them to send a lorry, it all has to be carefully planned, booked on to the freight boats and collected by tractor from the quay at our end.The upturn in internet shopping has made a huge difference to our businesses and this year the islands got super fast broadband which is already changing the way we work. So if you are ever on Scilly pop in and see how a remote traditional flower farm is able to thrive thanks to very modern technology.
By Zoe Julian, Scilly Flowers

Why social media is a treasure for independent business collaboration

Monday, June 15 at 11:00
Collaboration | Inspiration | Small Business | Social Media

As a new startup in the beautiful world of flowers and weddings, I’m always keen to promote and grow my business by using as many creative and engaging ways as possible- social media being my preferred option, so when the opportunity arose to team up with another local business  - Pipley Flowers, to co-host a Social Media Lonely Bouquet Treasure Hunt and support British Flowers Week – I jumped at the chance.British Flowers Week is a National campaign, which encourages everybody (including us Florists!) to buy more seasonal, locally-grown cut flowers. We used to have a thriving cut flower industry in Britain but 90% of this was lost to places like Holland. Campaigns like British Flowers Week aims to show everybody what amazing flowers are literally on our doorstep. British Flowers Week will run from Monday 15 June to Friday 19 June 2015.When I first started trading, my first port of call was always the regional flower market. The guys are friendly and try and stock British Flowers, but inevitably being a large regional wholesaler, they stock a majority of imported flowers. Then one day, through the wonderful connections I’ve made on social media, I came across Liz Rawlings of Pipley Flowers, a local British Flower Farmer (and a pretty good florist too!) who lives less than 10 miles from my business. Being an avid follower of floral and bridal trends, I had noticed that there had definitely been a shift in the public's demand for more British grown flowers. I had always wanted to use locally sourced flowers, not only as a wonderful selling point to my customers - British Flowers have an incredible fragrance, vibrancy, and a really long vase life, but to support other local businesses, whilst tapping into the bridal trend to buy local.  I had been unable to do so until I really got into social media -  I just wasn’t aware of how many local flower farmers there are in my area, and by having a connection through social media, I was able to make my dreams of stocking locally sourced flowers a reality. Most businesses know that social media has made it easier than ever to connect and engage with customers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of the other platforms available, but one of the over looked bonuses of social media is the ability to connect independent businesses together. The opportunity to work with Liz and create a social media bouquet treasure hunt for British Flowers Week gave us both the opportunity to promote our individual businesses, use our joint social media campaign as a vehicle for traffic to both of our business sites and raise awareness of the beautiful British flowers that are available to both trade and public.I found that working together on a joint campaign with another small independent business that compliments your own is a brilliant way to share skills, ideas, responsibility and have a bit of fun in the process. Liz and I created a really fun engaging campaign for the public to find out more about buying British flowers. During the campaign week we will be co-hosting a social media treasure hunt across Bristol for anybody who follows us on social media, giving our potential customers the opportunity to find beautiful bouquets made entirely from locally sourced flowers.I would totally recommend as a small business to look for opportunities to collaborate on mutually beneficial projects with other independent businesses, not only for the shared commercial rewards, but to contribute towards making a strong network of independents businesses who support each other and create good relationships with each other, after all, two heads are better than one!
By Victoria Baker, Peppermint Rose Flowers, 07717 336659twitter:@_peppermintroseFacebook: www.facebook.com/peppermintroseflowersLiz Rawlings, Pipley Flowers, 07722055702Twitter:@pipleyflowersFacebook: www.facebook.com/pipleyflowers 

How To: Crowdfunding for a Small Business

Tuesday, May 26 at 13:14
Crowdfunding | 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 CelebrityYou 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 PersonA 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 ProfessionalThat’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 OpenExplain 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 ReadyCrowdfunding 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.

Our purpose and the importance of small business

Friday, May 15 at 15:07
Inspiration | Small Business Saturday

‘People of Portobello’ is a lifestyle project creating a photographic library, with supporting interviews, to capture the community and culture of the Portobello Road area in London. It is intended as a celebration of a wonderful collection of people and it is also a message on the value of community, and diversity within that community. We believe in the importance of understanding and immersing ourselves in what is different and new. Celebrating examples of this, such as Portobello Road, is one way to send that message.
Small independent businesses play a massively important role within any local community, but even more so in Portobello. They focus and retain investment within an area, and offer cultural value to customers and communities through original and varied experiences.A large proportion of our interviewees are small business owners and we love to celebrate what they do and why they do it in Portobello Road - we should all try to take the opportunity to support local businesses whenever we can!

Some lessons from Portobello Road for other small businesses

Small businesses can benefit from planning strategically about how to make the most of their unique position. There are many competitive advantages to being a small business and in Portobello Road I’ve found that the most successful small businesses have taken these into consideration:Move Quickly  Your advantage of being small means you can make decisions, implement them and move forward quickly; whether they be strategic, marketing or operational. Make the most of that.Be ‘Close’ to the Customer In a small organisation, you, as the decision maker, have the advantage of seeing your customer face to face regularly. Use this interaction as an opportunity to understand, and meet, your customer’s needs.Be Unique Ultimately customers want to try new things and experiences but may have fallen out of the habit. Re-introduce them to the value of ‘the new’, whilst remaining accessible and approachable.
Simon Hardy, People of PortobelloSimon and the People of Portobello team will be joining the Inspire series on 16th May and conducting interviews and photography of the event: @PoPortobello 

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