Small Business Saturday Blog

Say Hello to the 2017 Small Business Saturday Champions

Thursday, August 31 at 16:15
Small Biz 100 | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday Uk Champion

Small Business Saturday is pleased to announce its champions for the 2017 campaign!
The Small Business Saturday Champions are previous members of the Small Biz 100 that help to promote the campaign in their local areas, broadening the reach of the campaign and strengthening their local small business community. They are already hard at work planning B2B events, Christmas markets, live-streamed interviews and much more! Please contact comms@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com if you would like to connect with a champion in your area.Lee Parker, Parker Sourcing, Greater ManchesterYvonne Gorman, Essential Print Services, DerbyshireAlison Edgar, Sales Coaching Solutions, WiltshireBecky Sebright, Lady Bakewell Park, EssexAlice Malcolm-Green, Wick & Tallow, Greater LondonAdam Balfour, Buffoon Film & Media, Neath Port TalbotElaine Pritchard, Caittom Publishing, StaffordshireRich Brady, Recruit Packs, DenbighshireKarina Pedomo, Quick Brown Fox, Greater LondonFaye Dicker, Freelance Mum, SomersetRussell Pullan and Albert Chau, Fifth Dimension Chocolates, Greater LondonSara Parker, Face for Business, LancashireRuth Pringle, Pringle Accountants, LancashireBala Croman, The Chocolate Cellar, MerseysideGail Bryden, JustBe Botanicals, City of EdinburghAlistair Bell, Muddy Farm Models, County AntrimRowena Howie, Revival Retro, Greater LondonPrecious Jason, Etieno Skincare, Greater LondonSanjay Aggarwal, Spice Kitchen, BirminghamJo Smedley, Red Herring Games, LincolnshireClaire Hearn, Rose & Olive, KentHayley Williams, Keystone Marketing, OxfordshireLiz Wilson, Ma Baker, Greater LondonSam Hale, Advance Performance, CambridgeshireColleen Wong, TechSixtyFour, Greater LondonMartha Keith, Love Give Ink, Greater LondonCarolyn Frank, Libby Butler Jewellers, YorkshireRachel Gilbertson Roxiie's Treasures Liverpool

Establishing a Small Business through Online Branding

Wednesday, August 16 at 15:06
Branding | Getting Online | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Social Media

Beating out the competition in the small business world takes more than just telling others on the street about what you have to offer. You have to create maximum exposure by being accessible on online platforms. By doing so, you better establish your business identity and brand.Building an online brand is important for a number of reasons. It creates awareness for what your small business stands for. If consumers want to learn about the product you offer, they should be able to access information about it from anywhere. You can also gather a larger following by reaching out to the online community. Lastly, the process of establishing an online presence enables you to gain credibility. If consumers see your business online, they can navigate your site and infer that yours is a legitimate company.The first step in establishing an online brand for your company is picking a domain name. Many companies underestimate the power of choosing a URL that differentiates them from the competition. A brandable domain name might directly reference aspects of your business, but it doesn’t have to specify what it entails. In the long term, the domain name can build brand value. You will want to check that a name is not already registered before you choose one. Make sure the domain name is user-friendly and short in that it is easy to spell and say. You will also want to make it unique and credible in order to set yourself apart from your competitors.When establishing your brand online, It is important to have a clear understanding of your target audience. Prior to coming up with content strategies, utilize research tools to identify your audience. Google Analytics will help you figure out the demographic most interested in what you have to offer. Google also offers an acquisition feature which points out how users found your site. You will be able to see if they typed the URL directly into their browser or if they were connected to you through social media or a search engine. Knowing this information will allow you to determine which online marketing channel is most effective.After identifying your audience, you can work on making your business stand out by creating a brand that consumers will remember. Having an eye-catching logo that can be used on all online platforms and marketing materials will mean customers will attach your small business with a visual. It should give consumers an idea of the product you represent. Also create a business slogan and tagline that stands out. A tagline is a phrase that lets your visitors know who you are right when they click on your site. You will want it to be placed on all your marketing materials. This builds recognition which is key in gaining customers for your small business.When you build your company website, be personable and accessible by having a home page with an introduction. You’ll want to establish your online brand from the get-go by telling visitors about what you offer and how it will benefit them. Make sure you have a subscriber button on the homepage so users can immediately opt to learn more about your small business.To directly help sales and marketing efforts, dedicate part of your website to reviews since they can have a significant impact on sales.. Allow customers to share their experience with your product. This content can then be shared on social media where others can see that your small business delivers on what is promised. Enabling customer reviews also positively affects search rankings in search engines. Reviews increase the amount of unique content your site offers giving you a better chance at moving up in ranking.Social media is an online marketing platform that is free and gives you instant access to consumers. Make sure that you have social icons on each page of your website. All of your social media pages should consistently feature your brand. This will make your business more memorable in potential buyers’ minds. Consumers also like to see and hear about businesses. Posting podcasts or having segments featured on a YouTube channel can build a personal relationship with your target audience. This fosters trust and increases your credibility.Another online tool you can utilize when trying to spread the word about your small business is blogging. This heightens your visibility. Your search engine rank will improve as you expand to posting content on blogging sites. It also works to help establish a direct relationship with customers in order to gain valuable feedback. Don’t be afraid to share content from experts in your industry. Online consumers will find you more trustworthy if they see you are up to speed on all aspects of your product.Lastly, stay engaged with your consumers. This is key in building a strong presence online. Use tools such as HootSuite which will notify you when someone mentions your brand. You should respond to comments made about what your small business has to offer. This will show customers you are concerned with their needs and will help spread the word about your business.Guest blog contributed by Sarah Elizabeth Saker

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.

Three helpful ways your phone can reduce paperwork

Monday, June 12 at 10:56
Digital | Plan | Planning | Small Business | Small Business Saturday

Paperwork is the eternal enemy of the small business, stealing valuable desk, shelf and cupboard space throughout your office and offering little in return. For a business like ours, paperwork can quickly get out of hand, become disorganised and cause havoc when we need to find one particular document.The good news is that it doesn’t take a company-wide restructuring effort to seriously reduce your paperwork. Taking simple steps can drastically reduce the amount of paperwork you generate. Since we all carry a smartphone around with us, I thought I’d look at three easy ways you can use your phone to reduce your paperwork.
#1 Scan Receipts Go back to the mid ‘90s and a lot of small businesses would have had a similar expense filing methodology: Take your receipts, shove them in a drawer and hope you never need to find any specific receipt again. If your expense were ever queried, it was a mad scramble through boxes, cupboards and old storerooms in search of an elusive slip of paper that, in all likelihood, had been eaten by a mouse.Thankfully, things are a bit easier now.Filing is super easy in the digital era. If you use any new accounting software, there’s probably an option to snap a picture of your receipt on your phone and upload it to the service’s records. Alternatively, if you don’t have a subscription, you can snap pictures anyway and upload them to a free cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox. It doesn’t have to stop at digitising purchase records, either. Get snap happy with your phone and scan invoices, payslips, utility bills and everything else for easy reference and peace of mind.
#2 Electronic signaturesIf you’re dealing with someone over a long distance, signing a document can be an absolute nightmare. You print it, sign it and fax it over. They then sign it and re-fax it to you. Suddenly, there’s three pieces of paper in the world when you only needed one.With electronic signatures, however, you can streamline the whole written agreement process, cutting down on both paperwork and wasted time. And with e-signatures set up on your phone, you can sign documents from anywhere in the world!
#3 Ditch your paper black bookA lot of businesses and business owners still swear by their black books and I’m not going to try and dissuade you if you use one. However, huge paper diaries stuffed with extra notes, letters and messages are a thing of the past and will almost certainly disintegrate or surprisingly disappear if you give it enough time.Digitising your black book and saving it to your phone provides substantially more flexibility and security, ensuring you have access to all of your contacts, notes and communication wherever in the world you are.About the Author - Gary Easton cut his teeth working at one of the Big Four auditors KPMG. However, a few years ago, Gary decided that SMEs deserves a better service and left to found Tax IQ, a specialist SME accountant based in Edinburgh.

Protecting Your Business Against Risk

Tuesday, April 04 at 16:06
Protect | Small Business

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to unexpected events and fast changing circumstances. The number of risks a small business is exposed to are many and it is often the unexpected that causes a thriving business to suddenly fail. With about half of small businesses failing within the first five years, it is worth doing as much as possible to mitigate the risk factors in your business.
1.Get up to speed with cyber risks
Even stiffly defended large businesses are vulnerable to attacks by cybercriminals; small businesses are easy targets in comparison. Take steps to reduce your exposure to cyberattacks: use strong passwords for all systems, employ firewalls for your office network and website and always install software updates on all your equipment. It is also worth monitoring the latest security news and training your staff – the 2016 Government Security Breaches Survey suggests only 22% of small businesses have a staff member that attended cybersecurity training in the 12-month survey period.
2.Take out insurance, and review policies regularly
Many business risks are insurable. You may already have property and equipment insurance, but small businesses often skip on key man insurance for their most important employees, while public liability insurance will prevent an unlikely accident from developing into a costly lawsuit. Regularly review insurance cover – the circumstances of your business will change with time and you need to update your insurance cover to reflect this.
3.Survey the business environment
Changes in the business environment can lead to a successful business experiencing unexpected problems. By looking ahead you can identify future problems before they become a reality and planning for the possibility of adverse circumstances developing can mitigate these risks to your business. This includes potential competitors, changes in the regulatory environment and shifts in customer preferences.
4.Involve an advisor
It is difficult for a small team of employees to comprehensively survey business conditions and accurately identify risks, especially if it is a new business. To avoid any blind spots, think about getting professional risk management advice. A risk management advisor will discuss with you in detail the environment in which your business operates, and help you to identify all potential risks.
5.Diversify
Concentrating the exposure your business has to any single supplier or any single customer increases the risk of your business suffering if a supplier goes out of business, or a customer decides to move on. This is also valid for the markets your business operates in on both a product, and geographic level. Operating in multiple regions and different product markets can make it easier to ride out a contraction in demand in any given area.
Small businesses are vulnerable to risks
It is often the vast sums of money involved in the risks large businesses face that make headlines, but large businesses are also more able to absorb losses in their balance sheets. A smaller enterprise can be fatally wounded by the realisation of a single risk, even if the sum of money involved is relatively small. For this reason managers and owners of small businesses should be at least as vigilant when it comes to risk management as those in charge of large companies.
Written By Michael Watson

Seven ways you may be able to reduce your tax bill

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

Sensible tax planning is an essential tool in making the most of your finances and helping your business’s profitability. Keeping your tax bill to a minimum is not a matter of aggressive or complex tax schemes, but rather of identifying which of the many tax reliefs and allowances specifically granted by law are available to you.Jo Nockels, Senior Technical Communications Manager at small business specialists TaxAssist Accountants, shares some tips and advice about how to save on your tax bill. 1.Review your business structureHow you structure your business can have a significant impact on your annual tax bills. During the early years of a business, it may be advisable to operate as a sole trader or partnership, as profits increase it may be more beneficial to form a limited company. An accountant can help you decide which entity suits your circumstances.2.Buying equipmentBefore buying business premises, machinery or equipment, make sure you seek advice. Up to 100% tax relief could be available but the type of asset, timing and value can affect how much tax relief you can obtain and when.3.Choose a vehicle that matches your needsTalk to an accountant before buying a new vehicle for your business. There are lots of considerations such as taxable benefits, VAT, capital allowances and how you claim tax relief for repair and fuel costs.4.Don't forget to reclaim input VAT on petrolDo you reimburse employees who use their own vehicles and pay for their own fuel at the HMRC approved mileage rates? If so, then don’t forget to reclaim the VAT applicable to the deemed fuel element of the mileage rate. You will need to ensure each employee submits a valid VAT receipt in support of the claim.5.Make the most of lossesYou may be able to turn your losses around by carrying them forward to set against future profits, or setting them against other income for immediate relief. Your accountant can review loss relief claims to ensure that the losses are used tax-efficiently and eases your cashflow ideally at a time that’s best for your circumstances.6.Household billsIf you are running your business from home, you can offset some of your household bills such as heating, electricity, council tax and water rates. Even if your use is only minor for bookkeeping for example, HM Revenue & Customs will accept a reasonable estimate provided your claim is modest and reflects your circumstances.7.Save on your rental incomeIf you rent out property, you can deduct a range of expenses from your rental income. These include Council Tax, utility costs, service charges and even replacing furnishings.Choosing an accountant who specialises in small businesses could save you money and provide you and your business with expert advice on many financial issues. For more information about TaxAssist Accountants visit their website

Practical advice from Acas to help small businesses succeed

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

Small Business Saturday on December 3 is a great day that marks the importance of small enterprises to our economy.Small business owners are usually skilled at generating ideas for products and services due to  their entrepreneurial spirit.While these qualities are important for business success it is worth remembering that building a strong team spirit by choosing the right people and treating them fairly can be just as important.Employment relations is a phrase that can conjure a picture of regulations that many businesses think they haven’t got time for.Yet somewhere along the way, all businesses come to realise that good employment relations are not optional. Better for the go-getting entrepreneur to make sure good employment relations happen early on or from the start, rather than risk expensive complications later on.At Acas, we understand that small businesses are usually short of time and, also because they have fewer resources, can come up against obstacles which larger firms do not. So we have compiled advice especially for small firms.It is currently a series of nine practical, concise and straight-forward guides called Help For Small Firms, which include:•       how to recruit the best candidate for the job;•       drawing up their contract;•       settling them into the business;•       effectively managing their behaviour and performance;•       how to manage a complaint if they raise one;•       how to manage sickness and other kinds of absence from work;•       how to get the best out of staff, and;•       handling pay and wages.While we celebrate the dynamism and creativity of small enterprises this Small Business Saturday, we should also recognise that great team spirit also means a more productive business.You can use the guides on the Acas website or print them off.David Webb is an Acas writer working to help employers and employees understand, in plain language, employment law and workplace best practice. Previously, he was a manager in private industry for more than 20 years.

Why job descriptions matter

Tuesday, February 23 at 11:28
How 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 

Five things all SMEs should know when applying for funding

Monday, February 08 at 15:08
Finance | Small Business | Top Tips

1. Business Plan
Never under-estimate the value of producing a comprehensive business plan; it does two things. First, it is a good discipline for the company’s management because it forces them to understand what they need, to think about why they need it and in what form; e.g. should they be looking for an overdraft or a term loan? Second, and most important of all, it demonstrates to a lender that the management understands its business and takes the lending process seriously.2. Understand your cashflow
A realistic cashflow forecast is probably the most crucial element in a business’s financial arsenal. Understanding where the cash goes allows a business to identify what the money is needed for. It might be to finance growth through the purchase of machinery or another asset, or to provide day- to-day working capital? Either way, you can guarantee that the lender will need assurance that (a) you understand what the money is needed for, how much and for how long and (b) that your business will generate sufficient surplus to pay the money back when you say you will. 3. Know when to apply to fundingOften new or small businesses wait too long to apply for funding, resulting in the business being put under financial pressure and making a rushed decision that could end in a poor choice of lender or type of finance; e.g. in certain circumstances, a term loan could be a better solution than, say, invoice discounting, or vice versa. Going with a lender that can get the job done quickly is just one aspect; other considerations include the level of flexibility the lender can extend you in terms of repayments and the cost of the finance.4. Know the funding marketWith increasingly niche funding solutions available, businesses may need an adviser they can call on for advice and market knowledge, directing them to the right type of financing for their short, medium and long term needs. 
Historically, this adviser may have been a bank manager or accountant, but a growing business should also consider a commercial finance broker, as the expansion of the Alternative Finance sector has meant more funding options than ever are open to SMEs. A good adviser will understand the market and steer you towards the right lender and the most appropriate type of funding to suit your particular circumstances.
An alternative way to search for an appropriate lender is to use the aggregators’ site. Typically they offer no advice but highlight appropriate lending products for an SME’s requirements.5. Don’t be afraid to shop aroundBeing turned down for funding by your own bank does not have to be the end of the story. There is a whole new generation of lenders in the marketplace who may be able to help you. The new lenders can move quickly and thoroughly. Make sure your lender is transparent with costs, personal in approach and takes the time to understand your business. Don’t be afraid to look around the market, possibly with the help of a reputable finance broker.Written by Credit4. Visit their homepage or call 020 3637 0570 for further information. Don’t miss the Small Business Saturday Inspire Series, ‘Accessing finance for your small business’ a free workshop on 9th February. Register here or follow @SmallBizSatUK for updates.

A Pension Solution for small businesses tackling automatic enrolment

Tuesday, December 01 at 10:11
Finance | Quick Guide | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday 2015 | Top Tips

Joanne Segars, Chief Executive of The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, highlights how small businesses can prepare for automatic enrolment.
Automatic enrolment will require every UK employer to put certain staff into a pension scheme and contribute towards it. We know this may seem a daunting task, which is why we've launched Pension Solution. It has been designed specifically for small employers, to take the hard work out of implementing a workplace pension scheme for the first time.Planning and preparing for automatic enrolment means thinking ahead: what you need, and whose help will make it easier to complete key tasks and estimate costs. These are the key steps I’d recommend to take when getting your small business ready for automatic enrolment:
  • Find out your staging and declaration date  using your PAYE reference from The Pension Regulator’s website
  • Go through a step by step guide to setting up, get familiar with what automatic enrolment means for you and your workplace.
  • Research and select a pension provider that suits your needs
  • Communicate and explain how automatic enrolment will affect your workforce 
Pension Solution helps with each of these steps. The online service will provide the know-how and tools you need to tackle automatic enrolment confidently and successfully. We also offer access to a free half-day face to face training course for those who prefer the human touch.We’re delighted to be supporting Small Business Saturday for the first time this year because we recognise the vital role small businesses play in the UK economy.Over 67,ooo employers have already enrolled their staff into a workplace pension, with 5.5million employees now benefitting from a workplace pension and saving for retirement. 1.8 million small and micro employer workers will now join over the next three years if they earn £10,000 or more a year, increasing the amount that is being saved in workplace pensions by around £15 billion a year, according to the DWP Automatic Enrolment evaluation report 2015.Through Pension Solution we are bringing 90 years of expertise in workplace pensions to help small businesses through automatic enrolment and beyond. It is our status as an independent not-for-profit trade organisation with an impartial view that makes us different.Automatic enrolment is our best chance of getting the nation into the habit of saving for retirement, and we must focus on making the process as straightforward as possible for small businesses like you in particular.Pension Solution does just that and we warmly invite you to join our membership on Small Business Saturday so that we can help, represent and work for you.The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association will be supporting Small Business Saturday UK on 5th December 2015 by offering a 70% discount on the normal £49 subscription to join Pension Solution as a member. Use voucher code BIZSAT1 when joining online. Follow us on Twitter: @SolutionPension

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: 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.

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.

Is your website doing what it should?

Monday, October 12 at 12:37
Getting Online | Small Business | Small Business Saturday

Joel Calliste, co-founder of Small Biz 100 Smart Little Web gives five important tips for a successful small business website:A website should be far more than just a tick in the box. It’s a chance to have your business showcased and explained perfectly to your target audience.Imagine how often you realise you need a product or service and turn to Google for help. And what do you do when you take a look at a website it’s found for you?If you’re anything like me, you quickly run through your internal criteria to match whether it’s right for what you’re looking for and leave the site quickly if it’s not.Your small business website needs to focus on helping website visitors understand quickly that you’re relevant to them and encourage them to stay and browse. This should help lead to the all-important conversion from online visitor to an enquiry,  if not an actual customer.First Thing’s First: Who are you and what do you do? It’s seriously this easy, yet so many websites don’t include these fundamental details on their homepage. Back this up with a supporting image that tells your business story for you and you already have a strong start.Make it Easy to Navigate: and pick-up important informationBeing clear and transparent about your business should be replicated on each page of your site. And guiding your visitors with easy navigation is a must. This means keeping it simple and straight-forward.When it comes to setting out your navigation, imagine a blank piece of paper with the different parts of your business jotted down. Your history and today’s team, your products or services, your location and how to get in touch…. and in each section, in simple language, tell your story. These then become each page on your website. It doesn’t need a lot of words. In fact, the fewer the better!Also think about joining up where two sections meet - if something on one page is relevant to another - then link the pages with an explanation eg. ‘if you want to know more take a look at…’Make sure you refer to where you’re based, where your customers are based (if this differs), and who your customers tend to be. Help your visitors to understand that they fit into your box as much as you fit into theirs.And most importantly, remember that a visitor might land on a specific page of your website and it could be the only page they read. Each page should convey who you are, what you are and how you do it in some way.Be Transparent: encourage interestIt’s not just about simple messaging, but personality can really help with transparency too. We want to know who we might be doing business with. So think about bringing personality to your website - who are the key people in the team? What are they most passionate about? Include profile shots of individuals and also working if possible.Help your visitors to easily piece together your story and get a good feel for the people behind the business.Every small business website should also include a price page. Let’s be honest, we all want to know how much something will cost. Now, I know there are service businesses that can only provide a cost with a proposal but saying this on a price page is completely fine! At least your visitor will understand how you work. Do try to include a couple of ball-park figures where possible though.And if you have a physical presence please make sure you include your address and a map on your site. Help your online visitor become an offline customer by encouraging them to visit you - and make it easy to do so.Building Trust: add extra reassuranceBuilding trust is really important. And there are actually many ways you can achieve this. It helps a visitor to know who your customers are, or at least what they think of you. So testimonials are a great way to help with reassurance. But there are other ways to prove your credibility, especially if you’re a new business. Include the names and logos of partnerships, affiliations or perhaps even suppliers. This all helps to tell your wider business story.Obviously, if you’re also lucky enough to have been nominated for an award - and definitely if you won - include it!Call To Action: they’re interested - what should they do now? It’s not enough to have a telephone number or email address on your contact page. Yes, most of us know where to look if we want to get in touch. But having a clear Call to Action (CTA) not only helps the visitor with the next step, it can also guide them to do what you want them to do.Want them to call you to book an appointment? Say it! Want them to sign-up to your newsletter? Do it! Think about the way you want them to get in touch with you and make it really obvious - on each page.Smart Little Web are a next-generation website platform. The platform is tailored 100% to the needs of small businesses and focuses on guiding a small business on what to put on the website, not just how to build it. For more from Smart Little Web visit their website and blog.

Meet the Mentor

Thursday, September 24 at 14:30
Networking | Small Business | Start-Up Support

On the 7th of October, David CM Carter will be joining Small Business Saturday for an evening of discussion on small business growth and success. David is a successful author, and is best known as "The Mentor" - advising businesses and entrepreneurs on their best path to success.
The invitation to attend is open to 7 small businesses - if you would like to attend please tell us a bit about your small business, and what question you would ask David.
Please email digital@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com with the subject line "David Carter RSVP" with your details and question. Invitees will be notified by the 1st October. It will take place in Central London between 6.30pm-8.30pm.

Quick guide to accounting

Wednesday, September 02 at 16:54
Accounting | Quick Guide | Small Business | Toolkit | Top Tips

Accounting Tips for Small Businesses
When running or setting up a small business, keeping the books in order is not only important for the growth, but required for a healthy business. To help you learn the ropes, Leaman Mattei Accountants have given us some great starting points. Managing cashflowForecast your cash flow to identify shortfalls early and build in a contingencyConsider monthly standing orders and direct debits for regular cash flowMaintain an honest and open relationship with your customersEstablish clear credit control procedures, make sure your customers understand them, and be seen to implement them firmly and consistentlyCheck credit references before offering credit terms, do not extend credit limits without good reasonSet aside future tax liabilities in a separate deposit accountWorking from homeSelf-employedYou can claim costs in your accounts that are incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of your business. If you don't maintain a separate office, you can claim a reasonable proportion of those household running costs that represent the space and time in which your office operation occupies your home. This includes a proportion of your rent, council tax and water rates. Alternatively, you can make a claim for a fixed rate deduction from your profits.EmployeesYou can only claim the additional variable expenses incurred by working at home. These costs amount to the increased energy needed to heat and light your property for longer, and the extra water used if that is metered. You can also claim the cost of business related telephone calls.Things to consider when starting a new businessAlways keep your long-term goals in mind. Running your business more cost-effectively can be achieved only if you have the vision to project your goals into the futureCash shortages, lack of a solid business plan to guide the business, and steady decreases in profitability are all warning signs that a business is heading towards a potential financial crisisIt is crucial to evaluate your business’ structure and performance before it manifests these danger signalsImprove your profitability by analysing all the aspects of your businessMissed deadlines = penalties + interestKey dates to rememberSubmission of statutory accounts-> 9 months after the year endSubmission of corporation tax return-> 12 months after the year endSubmission of VAT returns-> 1 month and 7 days after the period endPayment of corporation tax-> 9 months and 1 day after the year endPayment of VAT->BACS 1 month & 7 days after the period end;->Direct Debit 1 month & 11 days after the period endA good accountant could save you money and advise you throughout the life cycle of your business on a wide range of issues. For more information on Leaman Mattei visit their website.

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