Run a Business

What is Google’s RankBrain and why should you care?

WHat Google Rankbrain is and how it can help your website succeed

 

Google RankBrain first rolled out in 2015. Unlike Google’s many previous updates it uses machine-learning and AI for the first time, in order to help better refine search results, especially in cases of rare, ambiguous or one-of-a-kind queries.

Understanding more about Rankbrain can help your website succeed, so we asked digital marketing expert, Paul Morris of Superb Digital, to explain what Google’s RankBrain is, how it works, where it’s going and why, as a small business owner, you should care. (more…)

The Do’s & Don’ts of giving gifts at work

workplace gifts - what employers need to consider

The practice of giving gifts to colleagues and clients is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence in the workplace.

Although this activity is predominately centred around the Christmas holiday period, it is also common to see gifts distributed at other times of the year in celebration of birthdays, work anniversaries or the closing of an important business deal.

With this in mind, there are several factors employers must think about the next time they consider giving a gift to someone at work. (more…)

SME Secret Weapons – How Smaller Businesses Can Take On and Beat Bigger Competitors

how small business beat big business

In its 50 years, business book publisher Kogan Page has remained buoyant in a sector that is dominated by much larger companies.

The fact that its business is still prospering is testament to a few basic concepts that are as true today as when the company started in 1967. We asked Managing Director, Helen Kogan to share her experiences of how a smaller business can gain competitive advantage over bigger, dominant competitors. (more…)

7 Top Tips to help your small business find success online

eCommerce success tips for small businesses

Ecommerce now accounts for 17% of all UK consumer sales and it’s only going to keep growing. Yet, despite this growth, it is still hard to make it in the online marketplace.

Competition is tough, it requires both technical and business savvy, and you need to work much harder to gain trust.

Simply having a great idea for a business isn’t enough. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many poorly reviewed retailers on Trustpilot, so many horror stories of poor products and services, and so many rubbish websites.

To help you succeed online, we asked entrepreneur Stuart Maclaren, to share his 7 top tips for ecommerce success. (more…)

How to improve company culture by enlisting your ‘Culture Champions’

Growing your company culture

Why does your company do what it does?

If you’ve thoughtfully identified this motive, you have probably embedded it in statements of your business mission, vision, and values.

These documents are akin to the ten commandments – guidelines that suggest how to act in the course of delivering your products or services. They are foundational to any corporate culture. (more…)

5 Principles to cut your meetings in half and still make them more productive

organising worthwhile meetings

Many businesses, organisations and leaders have created a ‘meeting culture’ whereby they need a meeting to decide what they are going to be meeting about and then another meeting to prepare for the meeting itself and another to de-brief after the meeting.

Wow, that’s a whole lot of meetings going on.

Meetings are the killer of productivity and part of being a ‘productivity ninja’ is centred on valuing your time and the time of others. Small businesses tend to understand this better than big business, simply because resources are tight and time is scarce, but I have no doubt we’ve all fallen into the ‘meeting for meeting sake’ trap.

Now, if you’re in this trap and not sure how to get out of it follow these five simple, but effective, guiding principles on how you can halve your meetings AND reduce the time they take whilst still making them productive. (more…)

Think like a hacker: How to protect your business from cyber attacks

avoid your business suffering security breach

Businesses cannot afford to neglect cyber security in 2018. A recent report published by Beaming found that UK businesses are attacked online every 2.5 minutes, with the average firm suffering from 52,596 cyber-attacks between April and June 2018.

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to these attacks, as a lack of security/training budget and expertise leaves many unable to properly protect their confidential information.

But all is not lost for mall businesses. The best way to defend your company from a data breach isn’t by investing millions in expensive software and data security experts, it’s by thinking like the person behind the attack in the first place – the hacker. (more…)

How to Attract Customers from Heaven, Not Clients from Hell

You’ve done your market research, you’ve got a solid business plan, you’ve registered your company and pulled together funding, suppliers and everything else you need to start your new business. You’re ready to trade – you just need some customers.

However, not all customers are created equal; some are a delight to deal with, while others seem to have crept from the depths just to torment you. When you’re building up your customer base, you obviously want more of the former and fewer of the latter, especially if you’re in a service-provision industry where customer relationships are key; but how can you achieve this? (more…)

What is Micro-Influencer Marketing?

Micro Influencer marketing for small businesses

The way in which audiences are perceiving and consuming marketing content is changing rapidly. The digital sphere has changed the nature of how we, as consumers, respond to advertising, with the result that many traditional techniques just aren’t cutting it any more.

Consumers are digitally literate and don’t have any qualms about voicing their dislike of traditional advertising. (more…)

Practical tips on navigating the patent process

Tips on the patent process

Starting your own business isn’t plain sailing. It throws lots of new challenges at us, each with their good, bad and ugly dimensions. And registering a patent is no different.

A lot of inventors with incredible ideas have fallen along the wayside, simply because they didn’t invest the time needed to successfully navigate the patent system.

Make a mistake at this point and you could end up doing all the hard work only for someone else to exploit later down the line. So if you want to protect your business idea or invention, you need to take the patent process seriously. (more…)

Thinking of exporting to Asia? Here are 7 common pitfalls to guard against

Tips to succeed with exporting to Asia

UK exports to Asia are now worth 18% of the UK export market – that’s £98.6 billion. China is now the eighth largest export market for the UK – with India and Singapore being among the UK’s largest trading partners in the commonwealth.

Trading to Asia offers an entirely new world of possibility for UK businesses to export their products and to build a global brand – and with Brexit fast approaching and the future of British trading unclear, exporting to Asia is becoming increasingly popular. (more…)

The Challenges of recruitment for startups

Challenges new businesses face when hiring staff

Hiring the right people is vital for the growth of your company. It is likely to go some way in contributing to the development of the business and helping it to become successful.

The task of recruitment varies across different industries depending on their nature. For example, recruitment in hospitality is seasonal and finding the right people can be difficult.

Moreover, recruitment can be even harder for startups, so here we take a look at some of the main challenges facing startups when it comes to looking for people to join their team. (more…)

5 Simple Steps to Grow Your Facebook Fans

Nowadays, everybody knows that social networks play a significant role in the promotion of a company. That’s why having an engaged and active community on Facebook can make all the difference to your business.

But if you don’t know what you’re doing, building Facebook friends can take a lot of time and effort. So to help you to quickly build your Facebook fans, here are 5 simple steps you should take. (more…)

Keeping employee records: What small business owners need to know

the employee records employers should keep

The GDPR gives people more control over their personal information and requires organisations to clarify exactly where Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is stored – and how it is used.

Less well-documented than data protection regulations, but no less important, are data retention regulations. To outline what your legal obligations are when it comes to keeping business records, we asked Paul Ravey of Access Records Management to explain.

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4 Cyber safety essentials for small businesses

cyber safety tips and advice for small business

According to the latest Zurich SME Risk Index, almost one in six UK SMEs have fallen victim to cyber attacks in the past year, costing a fifth of victims over £10,000 and 1 in 10 over £50,000.

It’s clear no SME should gamble when it comes to cyber security, especially with the new GDPR regulation in force. Delaying action will put your business, your employees and your customers at risk.

It may seem like a challenging task but as Adam Louca, Chief Technologist – Security at Softcat explains, there are simple and affordable ways small businesses can strengthen their cyber defences.

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Employment Status – Why do I need to know the difference?

employed, self employed and worker

It would be fair to say that employment status has been a contentious issue in recent times as business owners and staff in various sectors dispute the true nature of their respective working arrangements.

As a business owner it is important that you are familiar with the differences between the three main categories of employment (employee, worker and self-employed) as this will help determine the rights of the individual and the obligations you have towards them. (more…)

Why helping, not selling, is the key to sales success

Technology is constantly advancing and with technological advancement comes change. If you want your business to stay competitive, then you must be prepared to embrace technological changes.

You may think that you understand the current sales market, however, the sales game is changing, and these changes are coming about thanks to technology.

If you want to achieve sales success it is no longer about selling, but about helping. (more…)

6 Reasons why local PR can be good for business

how to get free publicity in local newspapers and media outlets

Getting coverage in your local press may not have the kudos of being featured in national newspapers but it often delivers a better return on investment, especially to locally-based businesses.

For small businesses, local newspapers are a more realistic target for press coverage than the national press. Readers of local papers want to read about local news, stories and events so if you can help a journalist deliver this, then you are well on the way to getting valuable press coverage for your business.

(more…)

9 GDPR Myths – Busted

GDPR Fact or Myth?

The juggernaut that is GDPR has now come into force. We’ve known about this radical new change in privacy and data protection law for over two years and on 25th May it became law across the EU.

The past two years have allowed plenty of time for numerous myths to bubble up about the impact of the new rules on UK businesses. But which are the GDPR myths and which are GDPR facts? (more…)

How to use Google My Business effectively: 6 Tips for small businesses

Using Google My Business to get customers

To generate new leads in today’s online world, your business needs to be optimised for search engines – in particular Google.

Most small businesses know this and invest good time and money in their online strategy.

The challenge lies in achieving sustained search success and business map listings are a key part of this. Here’s how to achieve this with Google My Business. (more…)

5 Simple ways for SMEs to address workplace stress

workplace stress

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week (14 – 20 May) is shining a spotlight on stress.

With one in six adults experiencing depression, anxiety or issues relating to stress at any one time, it’s important for smaller employers to recognise the signs that their team may be under too much stress.

Here, Jaan Madan of Mental Health First Aid England, highlights five ways small businesses can address workplace stress.

(more…)

4 Reasons why SMEs should invest in an Employee Assistance Programme

stressed female employee

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives and the UK Government is taking this statistic seriously, recommending all companies with more than 500 employees should provide tailored mental health support for their staff.

But what about smaller businesses? With millions of small businesses in the UK, making sure these businesses are equipped to support the mental and physical wellbeing of their staff is essential for keeping the majority of the working population healthy. (more…)

Incentivising and rewarding staff with an EMI share option scheme

Retaining and rewarding key staff with EMI share options

For many companies, staff retention is a key issue. Giving employees a slice of the business can foster a sense of ownership and can be a key element in retaining and rewarding them.

One of the most widely used methods of achieving this is the use of Enterprise Management Incentive (“EMI”) Share Option Schemes. EMI Share Options are significantly more generous than ordinary share options from a tax perspective so can help you attract and incentivise key staff, in a very tax-effective manner. We asked John Leyden FCA, to explain how.

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3 Ways Inbound Marketing can help grow your sales

inbound marketing success tips

Inbound marketing is an essential tool for any online business. By creating and distributing useful content, the aim is to attract potential customers to your products and services.

Ultimately the purpose of inbound marketing is to create sales. So, here we examine ways that you can hone your inbound marketing tactics to engage with more prospects and move them along the path to purchase.

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9 Things small employers need to know about the GDPR

What small employers need to know about GDPR

Recent research has suggested that 39% of SMEs haven’t spent any time planning or preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) over the last year.

With the clock ticking down rapidly to May 25 when the rules come into force, if you’re one of the small businesses that haven’t planned for GDPR, you need to prepare for its consequences right now.

The GDPR marks the start of a radical new data protection landscape, with significant penalties if your business doesn’t comply, so here are 9 key points small employers need to watch out for. (more…)

Direct mail or email – Which marketing option is better for my business?

Pros and cons of email marketing and direct mail

Technology has enabled us to communicate faster than ever. In the digital age, email tops the list of many people’s favoured way of communication, mainly because it’s faster than letters – or even phone calls.

So, in a world where communication is dominated by instant messaging, email and social media, is there still a place in the marketing mix for direct mail?

As David Manton explains, direct mail may be slower, but it still has a lot to offer businesses. (more…)

What are the alternatives if your broadband doesn’t meet your business needs?

alternatives to main broadband suppliers

For small businesses broadband is an essential requirement and yet for many people it’s hard to get the level of service they want from their supplier.

Why is this and what steps can you take to get the quality of broadband you need to run your business successfully?

We asked telecoms expert, Dave Millett to explain what alternative options you have if your business can’t get the broadband service you want from one of the main suppliers.
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Minimum Wage and statutory rates increases – April 2018

statutory payments and minimum wage changes April 2018

The beginning of April has likely been a hectic time for many employers, with usual accounting and financial deadlines sandwiched in between important updates to employment law rates and payments.

Here, we outline the increases in the National Minimum Wage, National Living Wage and other statutory payments, all business owners need to abide by from April 2018. (more…)

Why small businesses should embrace GDPR and be ready for May 25

GDPR Small business

Data is vital for many businesses looking to take their productivity and profitability to the next level. Yet according to our research, 56% of UK small businesses have concerns about their current data collection processes.

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to become law in May 2018, every UK business needs to ensure that the way data is collected fully complies with the new laws.

Many businesses see GDPR as a threat, but as Ian Woolley of Ensighten explains, it also brings opportunities that small businesses can capitalise on.

(more…)

5 Cybersecurity Quick-Wins for Start-Ups

cyber security tips and advice for small businesses

You don’t need to be a multi-national enterprise to be an enticing target for cyber criminals. Half of small business owners experience at least one type of cyber-attack over a one-year period, research from Nationwide’s Small Business Indicator survey revealed.

The reality is poor cyber security awareness and a lack of dedicated IT professionals make startups and small businesses tempting targets to well-funded networks of cyber criminals. So what are the simple steps you can take to protect your business? (more…)

10 Data Science terms every business leader needs to know

Key data science terms

There is a lot of talk about data science, big data, AI, and IoT these days, but what is the reality behind the hype? What do these terms actually mean, and what impact could these have on your business?

Let’s take a look at 10 of the highest profile tech terms affecting businesses in 2018; (more…)

How to improve your email deliverability

improving eliverability in email marketing

Email marketing is an essential tool for small businesses and large enterprises alike. The ability to communicate directly with your target audiences helps attract new prospects and keeps existing customers informed.

However, delivering a good email campaign that hits all the right notes is not as simple as you might think. It’s a complex discipline that is rarely perfected. (more…)

How to improve your company culture to attract, and keep, the best employees

how to improve your company culture to foster a happier, more positive and productive workplace

Improving company culture is at the top of the agenda for most modern day businesses, as more employers are coming to appreciate the role it plays in attracting prospective employees.

However it is not as simple as placing a ping-pong table in the staff room; a company culture needs to be fostered over time. To foster a better culture businesses need to take a multifaceted approach that demonstrates genuine commitment to equality, transparency and valuing employees. (more…)

How to help more of your employees to stay in the company pension scheme

helping employees stay in auto enrolment company pension

Workplace pensions are a legal requirement for all UK businesses no matter how small. Since 2012 more than 8 million people have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by their employer.

With auto enrolment contribution levels set to rise on 6 April 2018, it’s more important than ever that small businesses improve pension awareness to prevent employees opting out of the company pension scheme. To help you do this, we asked Steve Butler, CEO, Punter Southall Aspire to reveal his tips on how you can help ensure how your staff continue to save for their retirement. (more…)

How Technology Can Help Businesses Make the Leap from Start-Up to Scale-Up

technology to help your business grow

Britain’s entrepreneurial nature is highlighted by the fact that a new business is founded every hour. But only a small portion of these start-ups will make the leap to become a growing business that enjoys success at scale.

For the best chance of becoming a successful scale-up, small businesses need the right people, systems and processes in place, with an invest-to-grow mindset. They need to plan for the complexity, standardise and automate processes wherever possible and eliminate manual processes. (more…)