How to set up and run a small business

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In a world dominated by ever-updating newsfeeds and 140 character exchanges, it seems that the traditional practice of direct mail has no place in modern communication, particularly as businesses look to utilise cheaper, faster ways to communicate with their consumers.

However, overloaded inboxes and newsfeeds that update faster than you can blink means that direct mail still delivers impact in a digital world.

Direct mail may be one of the oldest marketing methods but it is also one of the most adaptable. Here are 7 key factors for any direct marketing campaign., combine these successfully and you can transform your return on investment (ROI):

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It is virtually impossible to eradicate staff sickness absence entirely. However, for small businesses, the costly nature of absenteeism can be extremely disruptive to the day to day running of the business.

There are many costs associated with staff being off sick, including compensation to the absent employee, the additional expense of finding temporary workers and the possible decline of productivity due to other employees being tasked with additional workloads.

Despite its unpredictability, there are steps small business owners can take to minimise the negative effects of absenteeism. This guide provides you with advice on how to effectively manage the different aspects of sickness absence. Continue…

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In recent years, giant corporations such as eBay, British Airways and Linkedin have fallen victim to hackers accessing their data. That such huge companies can be on the receiving end of data breaches, despite their astronomical IT budgets, shows that without the right protection, no company is safe.

So, what does this mean for smaller businesses?

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In a world where over three billion people use the internet, and no one can put down their smartphone or tablet, it seems obvious that startups and small businesses would look to advertise their products and services online.

Paid advertising puts your brand in front of a defined audience, and encourages them to make a purchase or a decision of some kind. In addition to increased sales, it can increase social media followers, newsletter sign ups, and brand awareness.

To help you get to grips with online advertising, and to ensure you make the most out of every penny you spend, here’s a beginner’s guide to paid advertising online.

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“Networking is always important when it’s real, and it’s always useless when it’s fake.” – Seth Godin

 

When I decided to investigate how some of the most successful networkers operated both online and offline, I was desperate to know the “differences”.

Some of the greatest teachers of our time encourage their followers to look for the distinctions in life – the greater your knowledge of these distinctions, the greater your capability to deal with life’s challenges.

Interestingly, regardless of whether the experts I interviewed were using offline events, clubs and conferences to build their networks, or whether they were joining digital communities and groups online, their actions were underpinned by the same operating principles and many of the same activities.

From interviews with leading business experts, I’ve identified their Top 10 tips for networking success. I’ve called them the “Magic 10″ because they kept appearing in interview after interview, seemingly from out of nowhere. If you can integrate these tips into everything you do, you will have a thriving business network in no time. Continue…

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When you start taking on employees you will be faced with a fair amount of legal responsibilities. It’s important you understand all your obligations as an employer as if you don’t comply with UK employment law you can easily find yourself in front of an employment tribunal.

As a small business owner, your legal responsibilities when taking on staff can be somewhat daunting but with a little help you can soon get your head around what’s needed.

One of your first duties as a new employer is to ensure you comply with employment contract law. To help you understand your legal obligations, here’s a guide to employment contracts for small business owners;

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You may have attended presentations that dragged or others that gripped people throughout. Perhaps you have given talks yourself and wondered what really makes the difference.

Whatever the situation, there are numerous factors that affect your chances of success. Everything you do contributes to the overall audience experience and even small things make a big difference.

This guide gives you 9 proven, practical tips to deliver more engaging and more effective presentations. Each one makes a positive impact, and you will know best which will be most useful in your own presentations. Continue…

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Red tape… compliance… ticking boxes… costly… time consuming… frustrating… not my job!

Be honest, when you think about HR (Human Resources) in your business, are these the kind of phrases that first spring to mind?

If you ask any small business owner what frustrates them in their company, most will include HR and talk about problems with their staff. They will tell you about people who fail to do what they are supposed to do or what they say they will do! They will bemoan the fact that people constantly ‘let them down’. This is what they relate HR with… and blame HR for!

However, HR does not have to be like this.

Imagine you could get people to do what they are supposed to do and to the standard you need – wouldn’t that make your life as a small business owner easier? Would that add value to your business? Would it free up your time so you could concentrate on other aspects of your business?

Well it is possible – not easy – but possible! Continue…

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“Will you give us a discount on that figure?”

“Can you match the lower price I can get down the street?”

“Can’t you do it cheaper?”

These are the kind of questions people running start-ups and small businesses get asked an awful lot.

But what are the best answers to give? Here, we look at how small business owners can respond to these kind of questions, without losing business and without cutting prices and profit margins.
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As a leader, it’s your job to decide what kind of behaviour you would like in your organisation. But, how do you find your own style as a leader and set the tone for everybody who works with you?

Here, Kate Mercer, author of ‘A Buzz in the Building – how to build and lead a brilliant organisation’, looks at different styles of business leaders and explores the concept of partnership at work as a guiding principle…

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If there’s one marketing skill you should focus on developing above all others it is copywriting.

The ability to passionately sell a product or service in the written word is something that will never go out of fashion. And the reality is that few people will be able to do it as well for your business as you.

Yes, you can pay a copywriter to create the content for your new website or write a sales letter. But you have it within you to do a better job yourself. Your business gets your full focus day in, day out, so you are more likely to understand it properly and convey it more passionately to other people.

All you need to do is follow these seven simple copywriting secrets to write copy (another word for content) that potential buyers just can’t resist Continue…

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With rapid developments in technology many business owners can now choose to live in and work from locations all around the world. Some choose to work from somewhere with a better climate than the UK, while others are drawn to places that have more affordable property.

So if you’re fed up with grey skies or overpriced housing, is it feasible for you to relocate and run your own business from another country? Dave Millet of Equinox Comms, outlines what you need to consider;

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PR Tips for start-ups

June 8, 2016

As a start-up the chances are your marketing budget is smaller than you’d like, so it’s important to get as much out of it as possible.

Although not right for every business startup, PR is a marketing tool that is well worth considering as it builds both awareness and credibility. It can showcase your expertise while delivering third party endorsement from respected journalists and media outlets.

In addition, PR is great for your SEO; having articles authored by you or quoting you filling up the first few pages of Google is just what a start-up business needs.

So how do you do it? We asked, Chantal Cooke, author of PR Demystified; how to get free publicity by giving journalists what they really need, to share her blueprint for DIY PR success;

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When you employ staff you must give them a certain amount of annual leave, and pay them during this time.

If your employees work a set amount of hours, and received a fixed salary, calculating their annual leave entitlement and holiday pay is straightforward. However, if staff have irregular hours, work overtime, or receive commissions or bonuses then calculating holiday pay can get quite tricky.

To help new business owners and employers understand the regulations on calculating holiday pay, we asked employment law expert, Peter Done to explain the key points for small businesses;
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When it comes to first aid in the workplace, the same principles apply to small businesses with only a few employees, as they do to companies with a bigger workforce spread across multiple locations.

In both instances, there must be plans in place to ensure the day-to-day working operation complies with health and safety regulations, protecting employees from possible injuries and reacting to sudden illness.

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Good publicity can help to propel your small business to another level. Sadly many small businesses don’t make any effort to get any press coverage because they think it’s impossibly difficult to do so.

However, it is really simple to get free publicity for your business. In fact, the reason that many businesses get it wrong is because they try to over-complicate things. Here are the five powerful and unbreakable rules you must follow when trying to get free publicity for your business:
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Small businesses and start-ups are particularly vulnerable to staff health issues. If you’re a small business of five staff when suddenly one of the team is off sick with a chronic back complaint, then the business is trying to operate with only 80% of the workforce.

The increased workload this pushes on to other staff can soon create problems. The extra pressure can cause mistakes to be made, customers to be lost and staff to become stressed and a booming business can rapidly spiral into decline.

While it may not be top priority, there are several common sense health and wellbeing steps that will not only protect your small business but also pay significant dividends over time. If your staff are healthier, they’re going to have fewer days of sick leave and you could also see a boost in productivity.

With the value of workplace health being increasingly recognised, we asked Rosie Bambury of the Better Health at Work Alliance, to explain how small businesses can benefit from a bigger focus on employee health.

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As an employer you are required by law to give your employees a certain number of days holiday during the year. The amount of annual leave employees are entitled to depends on several factors.

This guide to leave entitlement for small business owners explains the amount of holiday you are required by UK law to give your employees, and how to calculate this for workers not working a normal working week.

Also covered are the laws regarding bank holidays, carrying over unused leave days, imposing a period of annual leave on staff e.g. over the festive season, and when you can refuse employees’ requests to take holiday;

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We’ve all heard it; “You just have to be using social media marketing.”

And the response from many business owners is; “I’m keen to try using social media to promote my small business but I’m not sure where to start.”

If this sounds like you, here are ten simple but effective tips that will help any business starting out with social media, no matter how big or small your budget.
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Co-creation is the joining together of people to produce a mutually valued outcome.

In business, it is the cultivation of win-win solutions where efficiency, success, and staff fulfilment march hand in hand. Co-creation brings many benefits to businesses, such as;

  • Team members feel respected and honoured, and they know their contributions make a difference.
  • Job satisfaction and creativity is ignited, there is a positive flow of ideas, and problems get solved in surprisingly simple and practical ways.
  • Staff remain loyal and stay longer because they love what they do.

For the entrepreneur, co-creation can be a challenge, a real anathema. The building of a business demands resolve and determination to push through ideas in the face of disbelief and scepticism.

For business owners who have honed such skills, co-creation may not come naturally. They struggle to let go of being in charge, and risk blocking further evolution of the business. Maybe this is due to a subconscious belief that no one can do the job as well as them – or indeed, a dread that others may do it better.

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5 killer phrases that all negotiators should know

May 18, 2016

Negotiations can often be a mysterious process. Maybe the conversation has reached a sticky point, no one is budging and tempers are beginning to rise. Then one person says something and the whole situation transforms. You strike a great deal and everyone is best friends. How did that happen? How did they know just what […]

5 questions you should ask a prospective SEO agency before you consider hiring them

May 15, 2016

A website can be a very powerful marketing tool for start-ups and small businesses. An effective site helps smaller firms to reach out to a huge audience of potential new customers and take on bigger rivals. However, the battle to be found online can be fierce, so if you want your small business website to […]

How email can deepen customer relationships and transform online conversions

May 11, 2016

When considering great customer experience (CX), it can be helpful to picture a shopkeeper. The more we visit the shop, the better the shopkeeper gets to know us. After a few visits, the shopkeeper initially learns our name; then what products we like and have previously purchased; when we’re likely to need more of them; […]

What every business owner needs to know about stress

May 6, 2016

People who run their own business have a multitude of priorities to contend with every day. When you’re in the thick of it, it can be easy to lose sight of the simple truth that the people you depend upon for your business’ success are, like you, only human. But they are, and it’s well […]

The power of referrals – How tradesmen can win new customers online

May 4, 2016

Traditionally, tradesmen have thrived on word-of-mouth recommendations, but in today’s marketplace online referrals can have a big influence on whether a customer decides to employ your services. By the nature of their work, trades people cannot be expected to be experts in generating business online so we asked Jonny Lawrence, a digital marketing expert at […]

Making staff redundant – how to do it and stay on the right side of the law

April 28, 2016

Nobody goes into business to make staff redundant. However, it is a task that many business owners will need to undertake at some point Redundancy is a potentially fair reason to dismiss an employee, but it is vital that you get this procedure right as failure to do so could result in an unfair dismissal […]

Why it’s vital you have clear ‘Terms & Conditions’ for your business

April 26, 2016

New start-ups and small businesses often fail to give much thought to their standard “Terms and Conditions of Business” (T&Cs). That is, until there is a dispute with a customer, by which time it may be too late. Business owners who are unaware of the importance of T&Cs can even find that they are conducting […]

How to plan and implement a successful email marketing campaign

April 24, 2016

For a small business, email marketing offers an inexpensive but effective and efficient way to engage with your customers, and attract new ones – so long as the right planning has been put in place first. It creates and maintains communication, helping to keep your brand front of mind and build customer loyalty. Campaigns can […]

Turn your website into a deadly selling tool with these 5 steps

April 21, 2016

It’s a jungle out there in the big, bad world of ecommerce. You’re having a hard enough time bringing potential customers to your website in the first place, what with your competitors striving to undercut your prices and outrank you in Google searches. That means when people do visit your site, you want to do […]

A practical guide to flexible working rights for small businesses

April 19, 2016

Statutory flexible working rights become available widely to all employees when they complete 26 weeks of continuous employment. Previously, a request to work flexibly had to be made for the purposes of taking care of dependants e.g. children, however, this requirement has now been removed, giving all employees the right to request flexible working regardless […]