Small Business Saturday Blog
Say Hello to the 2017 Small Business Saturday Champions
Thursday, August 31 at 16:15Small 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!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 15:06Branding | 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 10:28Inspiration | Planning | Quick Guide | Small Business | Small Business Saturday
Credit: pexelsMy 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: PexelsAs 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 10:56Digital | Plan | Planning | Small Business | Small Business Saturday
Tax IQ, a specialist SME accountant based in Edinburgh.
Protecting Your Business Against Risk
Tuesday, April 04 at 16:06Protect | 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.
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 13:38Accounting | Small Business | Top Tips
Sensible tax planning is an essential tool in making the most of your finances and helping your business’s profitability. Keeping your tax bill to a minimum is not a matter of aggressive or complex tax schemes, but rather of identifying which of the many tax reliefs and allowances specifically granted by law are available to you.Jo Nockels, Senior Technical Communications Manager at small business specialists TaxAssist Accountants, shares some tips and advice about how to save on your tax bill. 1.Review your business 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 17:18Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Top Tips
Small Business Saturday on December 3 is a great day that marks the importance of small enterprises to our economy.Small business owners are usually skilled at generating ideas for products and services due to their entrepreneurial spirit.While these qualities are important for business success it is worth remembering that building a strong team spirit by choosing the right people and treating them fairly can be just as important.Employment relations is a phrase that can conjure a picture of regulations that many businesses think they haven’t got time for.Yet somewhere along the way, all businesses come to realise that good employment relations are not optional. Better for the go-getting entrepreneur to make sure good employment relations happen early on or from the start, rather than risk expensive complications later on.At Acas, we understand that small businesses are usually short of time and, also because they have fewer resources, can come up against obstacles which larger firms do not. So we have compiled advice especially for small firms.It is currently a series of nine practical, concise and straight-forward guides called Help For Small Firms, which include:• how to recruit the best candidate for the job;• drawing up their contract;• settling them into the business;• effectively managing their behaviour and performance;• how to manage a complaint if they raise one;• how to manage sickness and other kinds of absence from work;• how to get the best out of staff, and;• handling pay and wages.While we celebrate the dynamism and creativity of small enterprises this Small Business Saturday, we should also recognise that great team spirit also means a more productive business.You can use the guides on the Acas website or print them off.David Webb is an Acas writer working to help employers and employees understand, in plain language, employment law and workplace best practice. Previously, he was a manager in private industry for more than 20 years.
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
Five things all SMEs should know when applying for funding
Monday, February 08 at 15:08Finance | 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 10:11Finance | 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.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
Meet the businesses on the bus: Gough Quarters
Thursday, November 26 at 07:51Bus 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 12:08Bus Tour | Inspiration | Small Business | Small Business Saturday | Small Business Saturday 2015
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 14:38Collaboration | 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 12:37Getting Online | Small Business | Small Business Saturday
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 14:30Networking | 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 16:54Accounting | Quick Guide | Small Business | Toolkit | Top Tips
Accounting Tips for Small BusinessesWhen 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.
How to: brand your small business
Monday, June 22 at 15:50Brand | Branding | Small Business
A brand is more than just a logo or trademark; it refers to the overall experience that a consumer has with a business and its product or service. The branding process involves a company’s name, sign or symbol, and is an important aspect of attracting and retaining loyal customers. A strong brand adds value and credibility to your business. Here’s some top tips on how to make sure your small business branding is on point:Good Strategy PlanBranding doesn’t just involve the visual elements, but rather the entire experience of doing business with your company. This includes everything that a customer would encounter, from the website and social media presence to the customer service experience. This too can be a part of branding, if your staff answer the phone in a unique and positive way!Get RecognisedBranding is often the first and last thing that a customer experiences. People tend to do business with companies they are familiar with and brands that they recognise. You want your brand to resonate in your customer’s minds to secure a repeat sale.Generate New CustomersA strong brand can expect to generate new customers through positive referrals- word of mouth can be the most important form of brand promotion. A customer can’t recommend your service or product to a friend without mentioning its name!Stand Out From The CrowdIn 2015, a business is in a market with local and national organisations and global ones too. How can a company stand out from the other organisations doing business? Strong branding is even more necessary in a competitive environment and to ensure your small business gets the customers it deserves.Strong BrandingOnce you have created a brand strategy, it’s time to build on it. A good place to start is by selling the brand internally. As soon as you have your employees sold on the brand, they themselves can begin selling externally. It’s no secret that it’s far easier to sell a brand that you believe in, so get your staff believing.Voodoo Design.
Stunning scented flowers from a stunning location
Wednesday, June 17 at 09:05Inspiration | 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.Scilly Flowers
We Are Pop Up - how to pick a brand match
Monday, June 15 at 14:59Retail Space | Shop Share | Small Business | Start-Up Support | We Are Pop Up
At We Are Pop Up we are passionate about creating connections between independent businesses and creative minds that are ready to embrace a new approach to retail. With ShopShare collaborations you can discover a whole new world of entrepreneurial possibilities.In our last article, we spoke about how new retail partnerships with ShopShare may be the perfect move for you and your business. This time around we wanted to dig a little deeper and talk about some of the amazing collaborations that are emerging as tenants pop up in shared spaces, and how you can get a slice of the action by making sure you pick the right brand match.Whilst a ShopShare can provide excellent opportunities for both parties involved, it is very important that there is a good synergy for you to both make the most of the relationship. It’s not as simple as finding a brand, it is also about making sure it’s the right fit - that the space and product together attract the right customers. We Are Pop Up have put together some top tips on making sure that this partnership is a fruitful one.Have a clear vision Many businesses use ShopShare as a way of finding new, emerging designers to strengthen their shop with products that have never been seen before. Glassworks was born from the idea to create a fashion destination for modern women, so Director Lauren Lewis offered up her Shoreditch and Dalston shops as a ShopShare to work with other collaborators who fit the brand aesthetic. They have now hosted over 17 fashion and accessories ShopShare pop-ups in little over a year. Including the likes of Be-Snazzy, Urbiana and Suite Hazen, Glassworks continues to create partnerships with exciting new brands in their goal of discovering talent.Get the mix rightHaving the right fit is important to ShopShare success. Chris Shelley, Manager of Lanna, a jewellery shop in Notting Hill, collaborated with Dar Leone, a globally inspired range of homeware and lifestyle products. “When Dar Leone approached me I knew her jewellery designs would fit right in. I think it’s important to get that mix right, otherwise it’ll make the shop look a bit odd and won’t be a good selling experience for the pop-up.” Creating a dynamic like this means brands can seamlessly link in with your existing products, enhancing your overall brand story as well as theirs.Use your imaginationThinking outside the box can also make for interesting and eye-catching matches. McQueens florists and Black Vanilla gelato joined forces to create a unique ShopShare, collaborating to make gelato flavours inspired by floral scents – English Rose Petals, Mint and Lime, and Madagascan Vanilla. The romanticism and beauty of both products coming together made it an excellent match, and its originality captured the imagination of local media helping both businesses gain significant attention from the press.Match your demographicsLike all collaborations, finding the right partnership is essential to ensuring the success of a ShopShare. Pip Black, founder of dance, fitness and holistic studio Frame wanted to create a unique experience for her clients by offering cold-press juices and smoothies after classes. Through We Are Pop Up she met Blend & Press Founder Emma Wood, and their ShopShare collaboration was born. The brand fit was ideal due to their coinciding visions, with Pip adding that “there’s nothing worse than working with a brand that’s trying to talk to a different demographic.”Emma popped up at Frame Shoreditch serving her nutritious, organic juices enhanced with herbs and supplements to Frame’s health-conscious clientele. “It was a great opportunity to start a business on a budget and the client exposure was amazing. Our brands fitted perfectly together and it gave Frame's customers an added benefit to their workout experience.” Off the success of her ShopShare with Frame Emma went on the work with high profile clients including Nike, Twitter and London Fashion Week, before going on to set up her own standalone pop-up in the heart of Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.It’s important to take your time to discover the right fit with a brand that suits your business, whose creative vision is in tune with yours and wants to target the right kind of people. Whether you are looking for new collaborations for Small Business Saturday or for any other day of the year, We Are Pop Up offers an enormous range of ShopShare opportunities available to help turn your dream into a reality. Browse our hundreds of projects now and start your own perfect partnership.We Are Pop Up
Why social media is a treasure for independent business collaboration
Monday, June 15 at 11:00Collaboration | 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!Peppermint Rose Flowers, 07717 336659twitter:@_peppermintroseFacebook: www.facebook.com/peppermintroseflowersLiz Rawlings, Pipley Flowers, 07722055702Twitter:@pipleyflowersFacebook: www.facebook.com/pipleyflowers
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 email@example.com.
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 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.
Boost your brain for the health of your small business
Tuesday, May 19 at 11:56Brain Power | Health | Small Business
The vital tool every small business depends on & how to look after it (hint: you've actually already got one of these, but the chances are, you aren't looking after it properly)
When setting up and running a small business, there are many tools available to help you manage your time, plans and investment.
There is, however, one tool that perhaps you'll have forgotten about. Looking after it is pretty much the most important thing you can do for the success of your business.
The tool I'm talking about is your brain.
Yes, your brain. That on-board computer which allows you to run a business as well as do all the other things that your life requires of you (and hopefully that you want to do too!)
Our brains have been with us since day one and so we tend to pay them little attention. When they start to slow down, or feel a bit fuzzy, we just blame it on tiredness, stress or the fact that they have a lot going on in there.
We assume that there is little we can do to help our brains.
Yet, as a business owner, you need to be able to access all the brain-power you've got. Can you imagine how much smoother business could be if your brain wasn't fuzzy? How much more creatively you'd be able to think around problems if you had space in your brain for new ideas?
My 3 tips will help you get the very best out of that smart brain of yours!
Yes- I know that this is the most boring tip possible, but it's the most useful thing you can do for the health of your brain AND the health of your business. Your brain is made of water so if you don't drink water, your brain slows down.
Any time you need brain power, think water. Have a glass before doing your taxes, drink water as well as coffee during meetings and enjoy a lovely glass of water when you first wake up in the morning- this is the easiest and most efficient way to make your brain work better.
Your brain is made of water and fat. Filling yourself up on foods which don't contain any fats, deprives your brain of the very building blocks it needs to stay healthy. Your brain needs certain fats – the ones we call 'good fats' - for good health. They aren't found in cakes and biscuits, and you won't find them in low-fat or diet foods. They are found in foods that naturally contain fats, such as nuts and seeds, oily fish, avocados and full fat dairy products. Eat a portion of either nuts and seeds (almonds are fab) and/or oily fish – such as mackerel – every day. You might also want to get yourself a fish oil or vegetarian supplement to give your brain a boost.
Quite tricky seeing as your small business keeps popping up in your head all night long. Having a solid bedtime routine is great for helping improve sleep, as is making sure you don't eat late in the evening. Night-time is when you are supposed to be resting and processing and clearing out your brain. If your body is busy digesting at night, you wake up feeling tired and unfocused. Have your evening meal a little earlier, and you'll notice the difference.
I know you are busy. If you can't manage all three tips, just do the first one and see what it does to your brain power.
Interested in writing a Blog Post for Small Business Saturday? Here are our guidelines.
- Accounting (2)
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- Branding (4)
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