Small Business Saturday Blog

5 tips to make starting your business easier

Thursday, June 09 at 13:56Start-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 friends
They 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 contacts
If, 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 experts
Just 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, do
There’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 enough
A 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 time
Having 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 tip
Get 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 14:39How To | Inspire Series | Recruitment | Start-Up Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With thanks to Indeed for the support of these workshops.

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 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 10:01Fashion | 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 14:59Retail 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 right

Having 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 imagination

Thinking 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 demographics

Like 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 11:47How To | Small Business | Start-Up Support

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

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


What support is out there?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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






Tips to create instant cash flow for your small business

Friday, March 27 at 09:33Finance | 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 advertising

Positive 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 green

If 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 10:21Start-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 contract

One 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 involved

Having 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 payment

What 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 work

The 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 agreement

Another 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 11:09Finance | 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 out

One 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 business

Financial 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 team

There 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.

Get your business on the High Street with a PopUp or Shop Share

Thursday, March 12 at 13:20Marketing | Sales | Start-Up Support

We're seeing 40% monthly increase in the number of days small businesses are booking to pop up through We Are Pop Up. Its gone from being something used only by the more fringe, creative community or high-end brands, to something that any size of business can now access to grow their business and raise their profile. Our mission is to make finding retail space instant, easy and accessible to everyone, whatever their business size or sector, so it's very rewarding to see that small businesses can, and are popping up.

Are landlords becoming more accommodating of PopUps? 
Certainly they are more aware of PopUps as a possibility for their empty space. For many landlords, PopUps have become a viable option, now they are able to find and book tenants quickly and easily online. We are even seeing landlords who favour short term over long term, which is really exciting for us. That said, there’s still work to do to make the case to all landlords!

What is ShopShare and how does it differ from a PopUp? 
With ShopShare retailers can rent part of their premises - from a rail or window display to an entire floor. It gives emerging brands the chance to be stocked in an existing shop with an established customer base, without the need for fit out costs. Brands can test their product or concept in an up-and-running shop, at low cost and low risk. It's totally flexible - they can book a prestigious space for a short period, or an emerging space for a longer stay. Brands and shops can 'curate' an experience. For example, brands can pick a shop that matches their brand, or go for a contrasting 'brand clash' to create a unique pop up. If the collaboration is going well and both sides are happy, it's easy to extend the booking.

How much should a small business expect to pay for, say, a one week PopUp or Shop Share? 
Prices vary hugely but with ShopShare we've tried to create a low-cost entry point for small businesses. For a one week ShopShare, prices start at £1 per day, but the average is £15/day so expect to pay about £105/week all expenses included. For a one week PopUp, it depends on the location and size of space - we have small businesses clubbing together to share large spaces, or some taking on a full space for around £700/week.

What are your top tips for making a success of a PopUp? 
Pick a space to suit your brand and concept - this can be where your customers are, or test out new areas and find new customers.

Start promoting as early as possible. Have you told everyone where, when and what you're doing and invited them to your launch night? Keep in touch with your customers, fans and press and encourage them to help spread the word.

Think about the finances - have you priced your products appropriately, do you have your cashflow in order and do you have margins in your pricing to run discounts or promotions on launch night?

Experiment! Try, measure, learn. Pay attention to what's working in terms of sales on the shop floor and what's not.

Don't be shy. Talk to your customers and gather feedback about your products or service. Do more of the things they love, and improve what they don't.

The fortune is in the follow up: Collect customers' contact details in store and keep in touch with them about your news and promotions.

Do you think PopUps can save the High Street? 
At We Are Pop Up, we're passionate about vibrant and diverse high streets which reflect the local area. We're seeing wonderful examples of PopUps bringing communities together, like Feast Norwood. Also with ShopShare, we are seeing independent retailers use it to top up their revenue by hosting pop ups in quieter seasons. Those pop ups tend to grow and go on to take on their own space, so whilst it's not the only saviour of the high street (I could talk at length about business rates reform and out of town shopping centres but I won't here!) we know that it is a powerful tool. Today, we're inviting anyone who cares about their high street to get involved by inviting their favourite shops to ShopShare: https://wearepopup.com/r/partners/ and help the next generation of retailers.


By Abigail Freeman from We are Pop Up. Hear from Abi and other experts and small businesses on 18 March at a ‘How to do a PopUp event’ with small business network Enterprise Nation

A guide to small business broadband and the Government voucher scheme

Monday, February 16 at 09:31Getting Online | Start-Up Support

Internet access is absolutely vital to today’s businesses, and not just for firms that operate exclusively online. With everything from ordering stock to handling taxes now streamlined by online services it’s a major boon to companies of any size.

But despite its importance to modern life the UK’s broadband infrastructure lags behind many other parts of the world. There are numerous areas across the country where broadband speeds may struggle to exceed a few megabits, and rural locations in particular may be saddled with very poor connectivity.

But help is at hand thanks to the Broadband Voucher Scheme. This government funded project aims to improve connectivity for firms across the country by providing financial assistance toward broadband upgrades.

What is the broadband voucher scheme, and how can it benefit your business?

To encourage businesses to improve their broadband, the government is offering a grant worth between £100 and £3,000 toward the cost of an upgrade.

Businesses in qualifying areas that meet the terms of the voucher scheme can use this grant to help pay for the cost of setting up a faster broadband link. The scheme is not limited to a particular type of broadband; there are 650 registered suppliers involved in the voucher scheme so it can be used for all types of services including fibre optic, cable and leased lines.

It’s open to small and medium enterprises in 22 cities across the country, and there’s no such thing as too small - home businesses can get involved too.

To find out if you could take advantage visit the Connection Voucher web site and check the eligibility criteria. Provided you meet these terms you can get the process started right away.

What are the options for business broadband? 

Businesses have a wide choice of broadband services available. As well as using the same technology as home broadband they can also get access to other types of connections geared specifically toward professional use.

ADSL
Using standard phone lines, ADSL broadband can deliver speeds up to 17Mb down and around 1Mb up. It’s widely available and cheap, however the actual performance can vary depending on line quality and distance from the exchange so may be much slower, and even at its best it’s not really fast enough for many companies. Sole traders or small firms will manage, but the connection is quickly saturated by multiple users and the upload speed could be a hindrance.

There are some types of ADSL which are specifically meant for businesses. Annex-M is a variation of ADSL which trades download speed for upload speed, making large file transfers easier, and bonded DSL combines two lines into one faster connection.

Fibre optic
Offering much faster download and upload speeds than ADSL, fibre is excellent for both small and medium businesses, and availability is improving all the time. The fibre network provided by BT in the UK is widespread, and while the maximum speed of 76Mb is a far cry from the gigabit offered by ‘pure fibre’ networks (like the famous Google Fibre in the US), upgrades are ongoing and should shortly provide much better speeds.

There are other fibre providers apart from BT, such as Hyperoptic in London and Gigler in Bournemouth, but they presently cover a very small area. If available though your business could enjoy a blazing fast 1 gigabit link!

Cable broadband
Virgin Media cable broadband is on offer to around 60% of the population and although it’s best known for its consumer services, business broadband is also available. Virgin offers a product up to the same maximum download speed as its best consumer service (a rapid 152Mb), but they also provide very fast dedicated lines for businesses with heavier demands.

Wireless
Some providers offer a wireless internet service that avoids phone lines and delivers internet access with a wide area wireless signal to an externally mounted receiver. If your fixed line options are limited this can be a cost effective way of getting faster internet without the compromises of satellite or mobile broadband. The only catch is availability: such services are largely offered by smaller internet firms and tend to be fairly limited in reach.

Satellite broadband
Satellite internet can be used anywhere in the country so long as you can mount a dish, a huge advantage over every other service that relies on fixed lines or wireless transmission. It’s also not too expensive. But download speeds are limited to around 20Mb and - perhaps more concerning for businesses - upload speeds and latency are a major weak spot, which is a problem for sending large files or using applications like Skype.

Mobile broadband
It’s not hindered by the need for a telephone line so mobile broadband could be a very attractive proposition for businesses that are in an area underserved by fixed line providers, or for anyone who would like a portable broadband connection. But the speed of the connection can be highly variable and limited data caps mean heavy users will have to pay extra.

Leased lines
Internet leased lines are dedicated business connections aimed at firms which demand consistent and reliable connectivity. This can be very expensive, but you’ll get what you pay for and it comes with an uptime guarantee and a very high level of support for business-critical applications.

By Matt Powell, editor for Broadband Genie

Crowdfunding Tips for Start-Ups

Thursday, February 12 at 08:59Crowdfunding | Start-Up Support

In the last three years, the value of the crowdfunding economy has more than tripled and by the end of 2014 was estimated to be worth nearing $10 billion in funding online. There are now over 400 crowdfunding platforms, opening up a world of investment that start-ups could only have dreamt of ten years ago. However, funding doesn’t come easy. Success rates vary from 10% to 49% of all projects depending on the platform and increasing awareness and availability of crowdfunding means, inevitably, increased competition to attract supporters.

The recent, runaway success of The Wave: Bristol campaign, led the team at London-based start-up Riz Boardshorts, who are running their own crowdfunding campaign, to consider what makes a crowdfunder work and whether it’s the optimal solution for all small businesses. Here’s what they’ve found:

1.       Be prepared – it wasn’t a Girl Guide motto for nothing you know. You might think you are prepared before you start off on the crowdfunding journey but you need to consider that, on average, 2% is considered a good conversion rate of people reaching your campaign and then funding it. Simply translated, that means that if you need to raise £1,000 and estimate most people will give you a tenner, you need 5,000 people visiting your site over the life of your campaign. Ask yourself, seriously, can you reach that many people personally, through PR or through social media? If not, might it be worth trying to grow your contact base before you launch your campaign?

2.       Be flexible – you can do as much research as you like before you start but you never quite know how your campaign and rewards are going to be received. You may need to change rewards around, find new prizes and form new alliances. The most financially lucrative rewards are the intangibles, knowledge, experiences etc, which cost you very little but they might not be what your audience are interested in – the only way to find out is to try them out.



3.       Form alliances – there is strength in numbers and working with partners who will support your campaign and promote it to their supporters is invaluable. The Riz team have had fantastic support from their charity partners in the UK – the Marine Conservation Society, Eden Project and the Wave Project Cornwall - throughout the campaign and have recently launched the “Riz Ticket” an exclusive chance for anyone who purchases a reward from their campaign https://kriticalmass.com/p/bottlestoboardshorts to win a morning session at The Wave: Bristol for three people before it opens to the public. Working with others broadens your reach as well as your appeal.



Ultimately, crowdfunding remains extremely popular for start-ups because it’s low cost, easy to access and provides a good marketing platform even if funds aren’t raised. As an example, the current UK cereal phenomenon, the Cereal Killer Café, raised just 2% of their crowdfunding goal but got masses of publicity and are now happily selling bowls of the crunchy stuff in Shoreditch. With crowdfunding predicted to go mainstream in 2015, it’s definitely worth your business, like ours, taking the opportunity. Just make sure you do so with your eyes open.

By Lou at Riz Board Shorts - http://www.rizboardshorts.com/

The Riz team would love to know more about your experiences of crowdfunding and your tips for success. Contact us on info@rizboardshorts.com. For more information on the Riz campaign, please visit Riz’s kriticalmass fundraising page: https://kriticalmass.com/p/bottlestoboardshorts

About kriticalmass: Kriticalmass powers good by enabling great ideas to access funding plus vital support from brands, passionate volunteers and social ambassadors. It is the first platform that allows organisations to join the crowd and enables project creators to access the resources, expertise and reach of companies. It was launched in London in March 2014.

5 steps to starting a business in 2015

Monday, December 22 at 10:06Start-Up Support

If you’re entering the New Year with a resolution to start your own business and become your own boss, take these 5 steps to firm up on the idea, make sales, have a plan, and get known!

1.    What’s the idea?

Come up with an idea for a business by asking yourself three questions; have I spotted a gap in the market, what is my passion/hobby/skill and can this be turned into a way of making a living, and is there something I’ve seen that I think I can deliver better myself? The answer to these questions will deliver an idea for your StartUp.

As the business grows, refine the idea and finesse your niche. The best businesses are niche businesses and by this, I mean, try to deliver a specific product or service to a clearly identifiable audience. That way, you keep marketing costs low, and customer loyalty high.

2.    Have a plan

At the start of your business journey, set a plan that will act as your routemap. It doesn’t have to be a long document and it’s easy to remember what to include as it spells I’M OFF:

·      I - What’s the Idea for your business

·      M - which Market are you going to serve

·      O - what Operations do you need to get off the ground

·      F - are the Finances in order. Do a simple cashflow forecast and work out if you need a small loan to start

·      F - who are the Friends to offer support along the way; the mentors, experts and professionals in your network

With this plan in hand, you’re ready for the entrepreneurial journey ahead!

3.    Make a sale

Start out by making sales to friends and family. Grow from there by selling via powerful marketplaces such as Etsy, Elance, iStock and the Enterprise Nation marketplace, or create your own home on the web with template site builders such as Moonfruit. Consider PopUps, farmers markets and any other outlet or partnership that will get you in-front of the customers you’re after.

4.    Make some noise

Embrace social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) to become known across the web and reach out to the journalists and bloggers who influence your customers. Grab their attention with news, Survey stats, crowdfunding campaigns, product launches or new client wins. Attach professional imagery to increase the chances of being covered online and off.

5.    Keep repeating

Go through the above steps again to build momentum. Keep developing the product, making sales and getting known. Throughout, stay on top of the books to ensure there’s more money coming in than heading out. Taking these steps will soon see you as the successful owner of your very own enterprise!

By Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation

On 17th January Enterprise Nation hosts StartUp 2015; the UK’s biggest StartUp show of the New Year. Attend the free event at Somerset House in London to meet advisers, form a company, apply for a loan, pick up tips and be inspired by proven entrepreneurs. Register now at www.enterprisenation.com/startup2015

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