Small Business Saturday Blog

5 tips to make starting your business easier

Thursday, June 09 at 13:56
Start-Up Support | Top Tips

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, firstly congratulations! I know it can be scary. How do I know? I’m doing it, too.When I wrote this, I was four weeks into working for myself, and I want to share what I’ve learned by that point. Hopefully, reading this will make the process a little less scary for you.1. Help from family and friendsThey may not know what you do on a daily basis, or may not understand why you want to work for yourself. BUT, they are a wonderful source of support. My husband has been with me every step of the way. He’s having to listen to me thinking out loud about what services I should offer, about what my branding should look like, really anything to do with my work.The same goes for friends. I really feel supported by my friends, who also want me to succeed. Some are even looking for business for me!So, don’t think that just because you’re going to work for yourself that you’re on your own. You’re not. Your family and friends are there for you, so make the most of the support they’re willing to give you.2. Keep in touch with your business contactsIf, like me, you’re going to leave your job to start your business, look at the contacts you’ve already made to see if any of them can help you. You’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help out, especially if you already have a great relationship.My last job at Constant Contact put me in touch with some great organisations that help small businesses. One of these is Small Business Saturday. Having heard that I’m starting my own business, they have been very supportive and offered advice and the opportunity to write for them. And here I am, writing for them! How great is that?3. Rely on expertsJust because you’re only at the start of your business journey, don’t discount how experts can help you. Whether it’s a chartered accountant, an IT specialist or someone who has been running their business for years, the knowledge they have can really turbo boost your set up.I have a friend who ran her own marketing consultancy and she helped me to figure out my offering. She’s literally taken weeks off my services development. I still have a lot of hard work to do to get set up, but she’s really helped accelerate that.4. Don’t think, doThere’s a lot to be said about putting words into action. Don’t spend too much time thinking about what you should do. Start doing stuff. Even if it’s getting down on paper what you’ll offer, working out what should be on your website, or grabbing your business name on the social channels you want to use. Act on it today!Actually seeing things happening will spur you on to get the next thing done, and you’ll see your business take shape in front of your eyes.5. 80% is good enoughA manager of mine once told me about the 80/20 rule. It not only changed the way I looked at my work, but also gave me the freedom to just try things.If you’ve not heard of it, then simply put, whatever you’re trying for your business, if it’s 80% there, then get it in front of the world. Beit your website, a brochure, your branding. It will all evolve as you & your business evolve and grow. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, 80% of the way there is OK.6. Organise your timeHaving an expanse of day in front of you can be daunting. So use whatever means suit you to make sure you get the most out of your day.For me, this means using the same methods I used when I worked for someone else. I block out time in my Google Calendar for all my tasks. I did it for writing this blog post. Oh, and I stick to it. Of course, something may crop up that needs to be dealt with, and that’s OK. Just reschedule the task to another time.Being organised will mean that you’ll get more done and get up and running faster.Bonus tipGet out and about. Working for yourself can mean spending A LOT of time on your own. Make sure you get out and about. I’m going to the gym more, I actually go to the supermarket rather than order in a shop, and planning on seeing more of family and friends.I hope my experience so far will help you with your own start-up. If you want to share your experiences, I’d love to hear and learn from you. Find me at @Minal2804 or on my Facebook Page: Marketing by Minal.
Minal is a marketer with over 15 years’ experience of working for national and international companies, most latterly Constant Contact, a leading email marketing provider. Having worked with 1000s of SMEs whilst at Constant Contact, Minal decided to start Marketing by Minal, making her marketing expertise accessible to SMEs that want to give their marketing more focus.

Inspire Series: Taking the first steps in recruitment

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

We are pleased to announce Dylan O’Neil from Indeed to run a four-part series of workshops in the Small Business Saturday Headquarters at Somerset House on 'Expanding your business - Taking the first steps in recruitment'.In this series Indeed, the world's #1 source of external hires, will provide great tips for small businesses looking to find great employees to help their business grow. From writing your first job description to deciding where to advertise your jobs, Indeed will share insights they have gained from analysing job seeker behaviour across the UK.The first workshop in the series will be giving Tips for Top Notch Job Content from 11:45am on October 22nd.The second workshop in the series will be presenting How People Search for Jobs Today from 11:45am on October 29th.The third workshop in the series will be on Investing to Reach the Best Talent from 11:45am on November 17th.The fourth workshop in the series will be on Measuring for Success from 11:45am on November 30th.The events are free for small businesses to attend and will be an hour long with opportunities for questions. They will be live streamed on Periscope with real time Twitter Q&A, so even if you are not in the room you can still get involved. Make sure you follow @SmallBizSat for updates.For more information and to register attendance please visit the links above.With thanks to Indeed for the support of these workshops.

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.

Coffee & chat with Oliver Proudlock

Thursday, September 24 at 10:01
Fashion | Networking | Start-Up Support

We would like to invite 7 small businesses for a coffee with Ollie Proudlock.
Ollie is the creator of fashion label Serge DeNimes, alongside designing for Oliver Sweeney shoes and jewellery brand Theo Fennell.
If you would like to attend, tell us a little bit about your small business, and what question you would ask to Ollie.
It will take place in the morning (9.30am - 10.30am) of 8th October in central London, and we encourage fashion small businesses especially to apply to have a chat with Ollie about how to make your label shine!
Please email digital@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com with the subject: "Oliver Proudlock RSVP" with your details and question. Invitees will be notified by the 1st October.

We Are Pop Up - how to pick a brand match

Monday, June 15 at 14:59
Retail 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.
By Anna Trotter, We Are Pop Up

How to: get the right support

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

When people are planning to start a business, they are often looking for external support – for someone to guide them on their journey, to give them a few pointers and to reassure them as they take their brave first steps into self-employment.Others go ahead without consulting anyone or taking any external advice.  Whilst both methods can work, we would actively encourage anyone thinking about setting up a business to get some support in advance – the benefits are clear, those who do seek external support when starting out are much more likely to survive and thrive than those who don’t – so if you want your business to have the best possible chance of success then what harm can it do?What support is out there?Enterprise support providers are operating all across the country. They are there to help people looking to start up or already running a small business, providing a wide range of help and support. From answering simple questions, to offering sessions with business advisers on matters such as small business planning, marketing and finance.Often they will have a variety of workshops on topics relevant to new small businesses; they may have access to loan funds which will help you when starting up – they will also have a good handle on all the other financial support which might be available to you locally.Enterprise support providers can offer a variety of networking opportunities which will put you in direct contact with other people setting out on their own: people who you can share experiences with and more importantly who could become trading partners. Many enterprise support providers operate managed workspace or incubation facilities and so if you’re looking for good quality premises with support on tap – look no further!There continues to be an increase in the demand for enterprise support services. People looking to set up a small business are calling upon membership to provide them with the independent support, advice and training that they need.National Enterprise Network’s online business support directory, launched in May 2014, aims to help people looking for core support in starting up.  The directory signposts organisations operating directly in a local area that can offer start-up advice and support. It is organised by region and searchable by local authority area, making it an extremely easy search facility.National Enterprise Network members are locally rooted in the communities they serve, so they know first-hand the opportunities that exist locally. For anyone thinking about starting a small business, enterprise support services such as ourselves can start a conversation, essentially an independent expert on your doorstep, to understand more about your requirements, your ambitions and aspirations and look to support you with a package of support according, much of which is free or heavily subsidised.By Sue Fletcher from National Enterprise Network, who offer an email or telephone signposting service: 01908 605130 or email enquiries@nationalenterprisenetwork.org. 

Tips to create instant cash flow for your small business

Friday, March 27 at 09:33
Finance | Start-Up Support

It’s been a good year for small businesses. While the future looks incredibly bright for SMEs, there is still a need to proceed with caution. We all know how quickly the financial landscape can shift and you certainly don’t want to be left without anything to show for all your hard work. With this in mind, we have put together a list of all the resourceful ways that you can save money for your business and trigger a quick cash flow boost.By carrying out these tips, you should be on track to saving your business a substantial amount of money, which can then be put back into your business to help it grow and become even better by the end of 2015.Adopt testimonials and referrals over advertisingPositive testimonials from happy clients and customers are a fantastic way to build up a strong brand reputation and encourage people to use your services without splashing out on expensive advertising. Add quotes and comments from happy customers to your website and you should start to see the leads roll in. If you have a great relationship with another business, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. If your product is worthwhile, businesses won’t mind telling others about it. Return the favour and make it worth their while too. Often, some clever content marketing and solid relationship management can be far more cost-effective than advertising.Make the switch to a new tariff or supplier There’s no doubt about it, businesses use huge amounts of energy. If you haven’t switched energy suppliers or tariffs before then your energy bill may be more expensive than it could be.New regulations have made it even easier for businesses to switch energy suppliers, but first you need to shop around and find the cheapest deal for you. You can compare hundreds of energy tariffs and rates using energy price comparison sites, such as Love Energy Savings, and if you find a better deal then they can switch you over at no extra cost.Buy refurbished equipment There’s no reason why you need brand new pieces of equipment. Take a look online and you will find a vast collection of refurbished computers, printers and photocopiers for half the price of the new equipment. Choose a model that you know has been restored to the highest quality and one that comes with a warranty, just in case something does occur. They say that technology is one area in which you cannot afford to skimp on, but while this may be true, it doesn’t hurt to dig around for the most cost-effective solutions.Get involved with work experience and internship programs Seeking help from young students or university graduates is a fantastic way to help others; build up a strong brand reputation for your business and ultimately cut costs. When you take on a work experience student you are able to provide them with valuable industry knowledge and in return they allow you to become more productive, as they help with day-to-day tasks for free. Everyone benefits.Print greenIf using high quality paper and cartridges isn’t necessary for your business, you should definitely switch to the recycled option. You can save great amounts of money by using recycled alternatives and as you are doing your bit for the environment, why not market your business as green? A hugely desirable quality for any business nowadays.
Phil Foster is the CEO of Love Energy Savings, a business who take great pride in supporting UK SMEs, helping them to make much need savings on their energy bills.

The Importance of Written Legal Documents

Thursday, March 26 at 10:21
Start-Up Support

It is surprising how many people do business without having a formal written contract. While a handshake and a promise can go a long way, a simple written legal agreement can save you time, money and relationships.A couple of years ago, a website designer friend of mine agreed to build a website for a mutual friend. The design, time-scale and price were agreed on a handshake and no written legal agreement was signed. Our mutual friend kept changing his mind about the design and eventually the job, which was supposed to take one month, ran to three and my friend realised he had spent more time than the job was worth and wrote the project off. Our mutual friend refused to pay for the work done and because there was no written agreement my friend had no redress. Unsurprisingly, they are no longer friends.Excuses for not having a written contractOne of the most common excuses for not having a written legal agreement, as in the above example, is that the other party is a friend or just seems like ‘a nice guy’. In the majority of situations things will go smoothly but it just takes one misunderstanding for things to go wrong. Although oral agreements can be binding and enforceable, they can be difficult to prove. That’s why it’s important to have an agreement in writing.Lawyers don’t have to be involvedHaving a written legal agreement ensures that both parties are on the same page. Many people believe that it’s expensive to draw up a legal document and that lawyers have to be involved. Small businesses don’t need to be crippled by legal fees in order to trade on a sound legal basis. The truth is that in many situations a standard legal contract purchased on the internet will do the job without having to see a solicitor.Even a simple agreement written by yourself is better than no agreement at all. A written contract not only protects you if something goes wrong but it helps things from going wrong in the first place by clarifying expectations and preventing misunderstandings.Price and paymentWhat should the contract include?One of the most important clauses in a contract is the price for the goods or services being provided. Nearly all contract disputes involve money, so price and payment should be clearly defined. There may be other things to consider in addition to the contract price. These could include:•Is part of the price to be paid up front?•What happens is payment is not made on time?•Is interest to be charged on late payments?•Is there a cancellation fee if the client cancels after work has begun?Description and scope of the workThe contract should clearly state the description and scope of the work to be provided. Many contracts leave this vague to allow flexibility but this can lead to misunderstanings, so be as precise as possible about the job.Terminating the agreementAnother important clause in any written agreement is a termination clause which sets out the circumstances in which the agreement can be terminated and what should happen in the event of termination. So if one party breaches any of the terms and conditions of the contract, the agreement provides that the other party will be paid for any work done and expenses incurred up to the date of termination.How do I make the contract legally binding?We receive many enquiries at Clickdocs from customers asking how they make their agreements legally binding and do they need a solicitor to do this. The simple answer is that once the agreement is signed by the parties they are legally bound by it. If one party breaks the agreement, the other party has a legal right to enforce what was originally agreed. This includes all the terms and conditions of the contract.
About the author: Sarah Gill is a legal blogger for Clickdocs.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading providers of online legal templates.  Clickdocs offers a wide range of legal documents for small businesses including: company formation, standard terms and conditions, employment contracts and policies and more.

Actionable Financial Advice for Startups

Wednesday, March 25 at 11:09
Finance | Start-Up Support

If you’re a budding entrepreneur with aspirations of starting your own business, there are a number of things that you’ll need to consider before embarking on a new venture. The most important of which is the finance needed to set up a business and to make it work.Below we have outlined the areas of finance that you’ll need to keep in mind when setting up a new business, the financial aspects of running a business, as well as the finances associated with hiring employees.Starting outOne of the common causes for the failure of new businesses is the simple fact that they run out of money. In order to avoid finding yourself in this predicament it’s imperative that you make financial planning a priority when making the decision to start your own business.Start by creating a plan that covers the first 12 months of your business (this is often the hardest time). Focus on financial projections and forecast the expenses of setting up the business, any ongoing costs (office rental, IT, HR, etc.) and the time it will take to recoup this capital. You need to be aware of the resources needed to stay afloat if things don’t go to plan, as well as having the resources available to pay suppliers.Before starting out on a new business venture you should have visibility over your available resources as well as a clear picture of the money needed to make the startup work (even if the business doesn’t at first!). Plan your budget and stick to it. Running the businessFinancial planning is integral when setting up a new business, but nothing will prepare you for experience when employees, paperwork and customers are thrown into the mix. You may have a solid plan and budget, but that means nothing if you don’t track the money coming in and going out of the business.In order to account for your money, establish a simple accounting system. It is vital that you start doing this from the day you start your business. You need to record all of your financial information so that it’s readily available if it’s ever requested to be seen by banks or investors, as well as being in order when it comes to doing your taxes.There are a great many businesses that manage their own accounts, but not every entrepreneurs circumstances are the same. If you ever experience difficulties when it comes to handling and recording your finances, seek advice from a financial advisor, and if your budget can accommodate you could also invest in the services of a bookkeeper or an accountant.Managing your teamThere are a number of ways to save money when you first start a business, from making savings by working from home or renting shared office space, but another way to save is to keep your team both scalable and flexible. Rather than hiring people to perform each task needed for your business to function, try using freelancers who can do the work as and when it’s needed. This is a viable way of overspending on staff as your business finds its feet.Once you do start building your team, you will need to get them on the payroll. There are a number of free and paid-for payroll software solutions that are recognised by the HMRC. On the topic of payroll, don’t forget to pay yourself. It’s a slippery slope when you decide to forego paying yourself in order to concentrate all funds back into the business. Even if it’s just a little, make sure you get paid a salary.We hope that this has provided you with actionable advice when it comes to the finances of setting up and managing a new business.Author Bio: Stephen Verber specialises in corporate finance and heads up the forensic accounting department at Alexander & Co. Stephen is also a member of The Academy of Experts.

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