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…)

How to create business cards that make a big impression

how to create a great business card

Most business cards are about as much use as a scrap of paper with a name and number scribbled on it. That’s fine if you are looking for a date, but not so good for showcasing your business.

With a little thought, however, it’s easy to create a business card that packs a real promotional punch and helps you, and your small business, stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips and ideas that will help you design business cards that make a big impression;

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A Practical guide to Content Marketing for small business owners and start-ups

guide to content marketing

When you are looking for ways to promote your new start-up or small business you will, without doubt, soon hear the words, “content marketing”.

There’s a lot of buzz about content marketing at the moment, but what does it actually mean and how can small business owners use content to help grow their business?

This guide answers those questions, and also offers useful, practical advice if you are considering incorporating content marketing as part of your marketing strategy. (more…)

What can small employers do to improve gender equality in the workplace?

What small businesses can do to enure gender equality

The issue of gender equality in the workplace has garnered much publicity in recent months and is one of the biggest issues facing employers in 2018.

Most of the media attention has surrounded information on Gender Pay Gap Reporting (GPGR) which forces companies with 250+ employees to publish a report detailing aspects of staff pay and bonuses.

Whilst smaller employers are not caught by this requirement, it will be wise for all employers to take appropriate measures to address gender equality in their workplace. So what steps can you take to do this? (more…)

Guide to National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for small business owners

Find out what NICs you need to pay if you're self employed or a limited compay director

National Insurance is a deduction from earnings, set up originally to fund various State benefits such as the NHS, the State pension and other welfare-related schemes.

In reality, it is just another tax. In fact, as standard income tax rates have remained constant for many years, NI rates have soared.

In this guide we look at how National Insurance works, and what your National Insurance Contributions (NICs) will be as a small business owner. (more…)

The real business case for inclusion

How diversity can make a better, more profitable business

As a small business owner, you may think ‘inclusion’ is an issue for big corporates, with large HR departments.

This misperception assumes that inclusion is a cost, when in fact, done properly, inclusion is one of the best free resources available to smaller businesses.

Here’s how being an inclusive business can help you succeed and how it can help you to build a more profitable company. (more…)

Covey’s Matrix: The Simple secret to great time management

Be more productive, prioritise tasks with Covey's Matrix

Managing time effectively is vital if you are to prosper as a business owner, especially when it comes to running a small business when just a few people have to deal with every aspect of the business.

Despite best intentions though, we’ve all got to the end of a day without achieving any of the tasks we intended to do at the start of the day.

There are many tips, tools and guides online and in print that deal with the age old issue of time management. Most seem to over-complicate something that really shouldn’t be that complicated in principle, but Covey’s Matrix has stood the test time and is something that all business owners can benefit from. (more…)

Managing staff sickness absence – A Guide for small businesses

staff sickness absence guide

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. (more…)

How to find a niche in the market and stand out from the competition

why you need to find a niche for your business

If your new business is going to be operating in a competitive marketplace, it’s crucial that you find a way to differentiate your business from all the competitors out there.

In short, why should customers choose your products or services over what’s already available?

If you can’t answer that question, then you need to read on to find out why it’s essential startups and small businesses find a niche, and how you can spot a potentially profitable gap in the market.

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What small businesses need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation

Despite Brexit, the UK government has confirmed it will abide by the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is due to come into effect on 28 May 2018.

The aim of General Data Protection Regulation is to encourage companies across the European Union to think seriously about data protection. In practice, the new GDPR lays down some fairly stringent legislation, for both large and small businesses, governing the standards by which personal data is collected and stored.

To help UK businesses understand the new laws, and avoid the heavy punishments failure to abide by them bring, here’s a guide to the GDPR legislation. (more…)

PR Tips for start-ups

PR tips for new businesses

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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Local SEO for Startups: What you need to know before you start

Local SEO tips for startups

According to recent research by Google on search behaviour, a whopping 50% of all people who conducted searches on local businesses visited the business the same day. If you’re a startup owner and serve clients locally, this might sound like music to your ears.

People who conduct local searches are highly motivated and are looking for an instant solution. This is why you should do everything in your power to go after these searches aggressively. (more…)

How to recover from a business failure, fast

Nobody enjoys failure, but everyone experiences it at least a few times in their life and especially as a small business owner.

While it’s one of those things that most people like to gloss over, failing is actually a hugely valuable experience, as long as you know how to make the most of it.

Leigh Ashton, co-founder of Sasudi, stresses the importance of bouncing back from a disappointment as a small business; (more…)

“Can you do it cheaper?” – Giving great answers to tough questions about your prices

“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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Can dual sim phones solve a common problem for small business owners?

xiaomi mi5 dual sim phone

As the name suggests, a dual sim phone allows you to have two sims in a single phone. There are a variety of reasons why people may want access to two different phone numbers on a single device.

A dual sim phone could be of particular use to self employed people, freelancers and business owners who want to be able to handle personal and work calls separately, but don’t want to carry two different phones.

The facility to have separate numbers for work and personal contacts, with tailored voicemail messages can help you to be more professional and create a better impressions with potential customers. With dual sim phones seemingly solving a communications conundrum for many small business owners we asked telecoms expert, Dave Millett, to share his insight into them; (more…)

How start-ups can get the most from digital marketing

digital marketing

Starting your own business means you suddenly become the owner of several hats – one for selling, one for bookkeeping, one for planning, one for looking after customers and one for marketing to name but a few.

The marketing element of a start-up is one of the most complex, especially given the changing ways small businesses need to reach customers in a digital world.

Digital marketing can be a bit of a mystery to many small business owners, so to help you explore how you make the most of the opportunities it offers, we’ve asked Tink Taylor, founder of dotmailer, to share some simple tips to get you started on your digital journey.
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A step by step guide to auto enrolment for small employers staging in 2017

The roll-out of auto enrolment is well into its fifth year. Having started with the largest organisations back in October 2012, it’s now the turn of small and micro sized employers.

If you’re one of these, you’re in good company. During 2017, hundreds of thousands of organisations just like yours will need to get to grips with auto enrolment.

If you aren’t sure what it means for you and your workers, this step by step guide to Automatic Enrolment for small businesses, will put you on the right path.

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Understanding fixed term employment contracts – what business owners need to know

Fixed term employment contracts are generally seen by employers as those which “plug the gap” when their normal, permanent employees are absent for a period of time.

Fixed term contracts are useful tools for businesses who need to employ staff to cover short term peaks in business demands. But before employing staff on a fixed term contract, employers need to be aware of the rights fixed term employees have to ensure they are not at risk of a tribunal claim.

So to help make sure you don’t get caught out, we asked employment law expert, Peter Done to explain the key points of fixed term contracts for small businesses; (more…)

10 ways to maximise your productivity when running your own business

Successful business owners know how to make the most of every minute of every day. Wasted time costs money and clients, but when you’re slowed down by administrative tasks, an over-spilling inbox and endless meetings it can be hard to keep up with the pace.

Here, Richard Walton highlights ten ways to maximise your productivity every day: (more…)

Is my business data safer in the cloud? A guide for small businesses

IT security has never been a bigger issue for startups and SMEs, with 3 in 5 digital firms likely to experience service failures by 2020 due to improper mitigation of risk. It comes at a time when small businesses are increasingly being targeted by hackers keen to exploit network vulnerabilities, and access their data.

Ensuring the security of your data – and more importantly, the data you hold on your customers – is essential. It’s one of the reasons that many businesses are moving to the cloud, where data is stored virtually.

It’s a cost effective solution for most business, but those things that make the cloud an attractive option – accessibility, flexibility and price – are reasons why others consider it to be unsafe. As more and more small businesses move data and processes to the cloud, here’s a handy guide to ensuring your data is safe. (more…)

5 Tips for small businesses setting up an auto enrolment pension scheme in 2017

auto enrolment pension 2017

Figures from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) reveal that more than 95 per cent of the small employers required to put their staff into a workplace pension by June 2016 had complied with the law.

To the end of September, almost 257,000 employers had completed their automatic enrolment duties and enrolled over 6.7 million workers on to an auto enrolment pension scheme.

During the first quarter of 2017, the automatic enrolment legislation will step up a gear as more than 1 million small businesses will need to meet their automatic enrolment duties. And so with a busy time ahead, we asked Caroline Bateman of Enrolsme to offer her tips on how small business can set up an auto enrolment pension scheme in 2017, ‘stress free’; (more…)

How to defend your small business from ‘Insider Threats’

As a small business, one of the biggest threats to your information assets resides within your operatin. The insider threat, intentional or otherwise, is now one of the major concerns in cybersecurity, and with good cause.

So what exactly are the insider threats to small businesses, and how can you mitigate the dangers? We asked Jamie Graves, Co- Founder and CEO of ZoneFox to explain;

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7 cybersecurity issues small businesses need to understand

Security breaches and cybercrime incidents hit the headlines in 2016, as high-profile news of data breaches, malware, DDoS attacks and compromised systems became mainstream news.

The news reports inevitably focused on cyber-attacks on major corporations, such as the data thefts from TalkTalk, Three and Tesco Bank, as well as the extraordinary autumn story of the attack on Dyn, which made use of IoT-enabled household devices, such as fridges and toasters, to form a botnet that successfully brought down an enormous number of websites, both large and small.

Whilst the past year was eventful, to say the least, in terms of cybersecurity threats, it’s likely that cyber-related incidents will continue to grow in the future, both in the sheer number of attacks and the level of sophistication used in those attacks.

It’s therefore vital that business owners take steps to educate themselves, and their workforce, on the type of threats they could potentially experience. In this article, we examine some of the key trends in the cybersecurity world. (more…)

What are the compulsory fire safety regulations for UK businesses?

It is vitally important for business owners and managers to understand their duty to comply with UK fire safety regulations, as the consequences are potentially very serious.

All legislation regarding fire safety in business (non-domestic) premises in England and Wales are incorporated in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005. It provides clear guidance for those responsible for implementing safety precautions and procedures, including fire risk assessments and fire safety equipment.

Here, we look at who is ultimately responsible for fire safety on business premises, and lay out the steps that a ‘responsible person’ is obliged to take by law. (more…)

Why small businesses must stay on top of web application security

Nearly 6,000 retail sites were recently compromised by credit-card theft, after attackers injected malicious JavaScript code into their e-commerce websites to steal payment card data.

While compared to the 500 million user details breached at Yahoo it may seem but a small number, however this hack has highlighted the significant risk that cybercrime poses to small businesses.

The latest Government Security Breaches Survey has highlighted the fact that small businesses are at increased risk from cyber-attacks, with nearly three-quarters of small firms reporting a security breach in 2015; a year-on-year increase from the 2013 and 2014 surveys. So what can small business owners do to protect themselves? (more…)

5 things to consider when choosing a pension scheme for your business

For many small employers, providing a workplace pension, because of Automatic Enrolment, will be brand new territory. With a wide range of providers to choose from, where do you begin? How do you narrow it down and make your selection?

It’s a similar process to hiring a new worker or signing up a new supplier. You look for signs of quality, assess whether they’re suitable for your company and a ‘good fit’ for your team.

So if you are looking to choose a pension provider for your new auto-enrolment pension scheme, here are five things to bear in mind when making your decision; (more…)

A small business guide to carrying out effective staff appraisals

When staff appraisal or review time rolls around, many small business owners view this as a waste of their valuable time. This is not the case, however, and employers who spend the time and effort to make these meetings are a success will often get much more out of staff appraisals than they put into them.

In this guide, we look at staff appraisals and outline how smaller employers can reap the benefits of an effective employee appraisal scheme;

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Work Experience & Internships – A Guide for small businesses

Many companies are enthusiastic about creating opportunities for younger people to gain business experience and skills in shorter placements, often labeling these as work experience or internships.

While larger businesses frequently put internship schemes in place, many smaller businesses can be put off offering these opportunities because they view them as an extra administrative burden.

Many small business owners hold the misconception that they would take up large amounts of time, money and effort but this is not always the case. In fact, providing such opportunities can bring tangible benefits for smaller employers.

Here’s what every small business owner needs to know about offering work experience and internships; (more…)

Training and developing staff on a tight budget

‘If you think training is expensive, try ignorance’

This oft-quoted phrase, attributed to Peter Drucker, is frequently used when businesses say they ‘can’t afford’ to train or develop their staff.

So it’s worth asking yourself how much ‘untrained ‘or ‘undeveloped’ staff are costing your business – now and, potentially, in the future? (more…)

10 Memory training tips for small business owners and entrepreneurs

Memory training

An entrepreneur with a super power memory would be able to easily remember important business related facts & figures to demonstrate that they are the go-to “expert” in a particular field.

This person would also be able to smoothly pitch for business and give presentations from memory without notes to be more persuasive. While the ability to effortlessly recall anecdotes would allow them to quickly build rapport with clients.

A business owner like this would also great at networking because of their ability to remember the names of everyone that they meet, and important things about these people. While valuable new qualifications could be quickly gained because exam material would be easy to master.

The great news is that you can become this business person with a super power memory! You actually already have an amazing memory and with the memory training tips in this article, I’m going to help you unlock your full memory potential. Believe it or not, this is also going to be easy and a lot of fun!

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How to Find a Serviced Office to Suit Your Business

serviced office for small business

If your new business needs staff straight away, then you may find choosing the right office space difficult.

In this guide, we look at the benefits a serviced office could provide and give some tips on things to watch out for when you’re trying to find a serviced office.
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5 Top Small Business Tools to Save You Time, Hassle & Money

If you are starting your own business, you can’t hope to succeed in today’s commercial world without employing good, time-saving technology. Fortunately, there are plenty of low-cost, or even, free tools out there that help small businesses to do those everyday tasks that much quicker and simpler. But, faced with dozens of different tools, the biggest problem is usually trying to work out which one offers the best solution.

So to help small business owners find the best time and money-saving tech tools, we asked Martin Bailey, author of The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos and Apps, to share five of his favourite small business utilities that can give you the edge over your competition. (more…)

Why the best leaders do less

Stop Doing Start Leading

How do you describe yourself? Are you an entrepreneur, a technical expert, someone who is good at a specific task or a manager? Or are you a leader?

Whether you describe yourself as a leader or not, the chances are that your business needs you to show leadership at every stage of its development. So how do you successfully lead your business?

Here’s why great leaders do less, and the 6 key steps you need to take to transform yourself into a brilliant business leader; (more…)