Business Heroes is moving…

http://www.business-heroes.co.uk

Business Heroes is moving!

Hi everyone,

Thanks for visiting our site over the last six months. It’s been a fantastic learning process for us and our various contributors. We started with nothing and we’ve now rocketed to the point where we have a loyal following of readers who regularly contact us with feedback and comments – thank you if you’ve taken the time to do this!

So, with one eye on the future, we’ve decided to take things to the next level; more features; more news; more video; more interaction plus the same great news and views delivered to you, our readers. However, we’re not stopping there. This year will also see the launch of the Business Heroes awards, a major small business competition to recognise the best of UK business. We’ll announce more about this in the next three months – watch this space!

To do all of this we’ve decided to move to our own servers and give ourselves a proper address. We can now be found here at http://www.business-heroes.co.uk and as from today, we’ll no longer be posting on this site. Please save this new address in your bookmarks and continue to follow us on Twitter, where we will be running competitions and providing you with the latest news directly.

See you there!

The Business Heroes Team

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Small Business Advice | Start-Up Tips for Young Entrepreneurs

Small Business Advice | Start-Up Tips for Young Entrepreneurs

With the UK’s Scouts Association announcing the launch of an ‘entrepreneurs’ badge, it seemed like an appropriate time to talk about the trials and tribulations involved in starting up a new business under the age of 21. The most notable recent young entrepreneur is Mark Zuckerburg, co-founder of Facebook. Zuckerberg set up his multimillion dollar business while at Havard University, and it would seem that the UK has the potential to launch similar talent into the business world; the recent BBC television series, Junior Apprentice was a serious showcase of the amazing, young entrepreneurs that reside on these shores.

It’s clear that there are numerous teenagers and young adults in the UK that have the potential to be successful business owners. Within this post I wanted to discuss the approach and obstacles that the next Alan Sugar is likely to come across when starting up a business. Firstly, the process of starting up a business is roughly the same for everyone, regardless of age. Below are four main areas that require consideration in the early stages of starting a business.

  • Idea: Every good business starts off with a good idea. This doesn’t need to be original as some of the best companies come from recycling an existing idea but doing it better
  • Research: Sound research provides the foundation for any successful business. This can range from market research to testing your idea against an existing company that is following a similar path
  • Name: Naming your business requires creativity and forethought. Not only does it help build your brand but it helps provide potential clients and customers with a first impression of what your company is about. However one areas of difficulty is avoiding issues of copyright infringement – using the same name as someone else – and also using words that require prior official permission otherwise known as sensitive words
  • Plan: Once you are confident that there is a gap in the market for your business, the next step is to make a structured plan.  A business plan is effectively a written document that describes your business, its objectives, its strategies, the market it is in and its financial forecasts. This is not just for personal use as it can help secure funding from a bank or private investor. In the future it can also help with measuring success within your business

Alongside the issues considered above, young entrepreneurs may face additional challenges because of their age, such as the legal and financial complications below:

  • Legal: From a legal point of view, anyone under 18 is classified as a ‘young person’ but this should not deter young people from starting their own businesses. However it may affect your ability to conduct some areas of business because as a minor one is legally unable to sign or be held to a contact. Therefore getting someone over the age of 18 to help you may solve this situation
  • Financial: Getting funding for your business may be the biggest hurdle to overcome. As a young adult you will tend to have little or no track record of borrowing money, and it is more than likely that you will have no assets i.e. house to use as security for a loan. Moreover, if you are under 18 even with the aforementioned, you will be ineligible for any form of loan. However, there are a number of funding and finance schemes available from private sources that can help you raise much needed funds. As a starting block, check out The Prince’s Trust, Community Development Finance Institutions and Shell LiveWIRE

 If you’re a budding entrepreneur looking to set up a business, I hope this post has been useful. While none of the above is a blue print for creating a business for young adults, I hope it provides you with some good resources and contacts for support in your adventure and highlights some potential pitfalls. The UK is a hotbed for small businesses, so don’t be afraid to take that initial step, you might just regret it if you don’t.

So if you’ve read this post and are considering starting a business, leave a comment below, I’d really love to hear from you.

All the best,

Gordon

Small Business News | £5m Funding for ‘green’ small businesses

Green Wise announced this week that the Carbon Trust has launched a service to fast track green technology start-up firms from development to commercialisation.

 Small firms in the UK developing low carbon innovations will be provided with research and development funding by ‘Carbon Trust Entrepreneurs Fast Track’. Other benefits will include expert advice and networking opportunities. The initiative was purposively launched on the same day the Committee on Climate Change released a report saying that the Government needed to spend more on low carbon innovation. Providing another catalyst for the scheme was a recent consultation with approximately 400 early stage clean tech companies in the UK who highlighted that support for ‘proof of concept’ alongside prototype building and testing were imperative for firms to move to commercialisation successfully. The service has already received support from the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) and the business angel community.

To see the article in full please visit the Green Wise website.

Small Business Advice | Small business creation in the digital age

In this digital age, the world of business has changed dramatically and entrepreneurs have to think of increasingly innovative ideas just to get noticed. It is also becoming more obvious that businesses must utilise the tools available via the internet, from websites to social media. SME web have outlined a number of tips for small businesses who are looking to succeed in the digital age we are now in.

  • Don’t try and do everything: Identify your skills and your weaknesses.  Attempting to do everything yourself may seem like the most cost effective route at the time. However bringing in experts will increase the skill set of your fledgling organisation whilst saving you time, and in the long run, money.
  • Know your limits – don’t be taken for a ride by advisors. When bringing in outside parties to assist you be aware of your budget and don’t get carried away. Setting up a business takes time so don’t expect success overnight. There is time for growth when you have more funds and time to manage the process.
  • Be thorough. Be aware of marketing techniques such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Having an online presence is not enough as you need to be proactive in driving traffic to your site to boost your brand.
  • Don’t be afraid – try something new. Being online is all about immediacy and convenience. Set up your ecommerce solution so that customers have the added expediency of being able to buy your service or product online.
  • Never give up!

The digital era has provided businesses with a new and more immediate platform to interact and connect with your customer and client base. If used properly these tools can help with both the development and overall success of your company however small. However one must be mindful of the above, making sure that attention to detail, correct usage of the internet and functioning within one means is still of upmost priority.

To see the tips in full, please follow this hyperlink to the SME website.

Small Business Opinion: Reflecting on 25 years of technology

As discussed in Phil Smith’s post last week,  Connected Conversations has revealed just how much of a strategic tool IT has become in the small businesses workplace, as we head into the next quarter century.

When we undertook the project, we wanted to get real insight into the ways in which UK businesses and public services have been changed by technology over the past two and a half decades. The thing that we found most interesting, however, was that key themes to come out of the discussion didn’t break down by industry or sector; in fact they very much remained consistent across the five conversations.  Identifying the lessons that can be learnt for technology in the future is vital to all businesses growth whether it’s a large enterprise, an established and growing business or young start up. So, we thought we’d share them with you too.

IT has come closer to the user – difficult as it can be to imagine now, there was obviously a time before technology was as ubiquitous and ingrained into business practices as it is today; a time when IT was often considered a part of the Finance function, providing programming and background support to solely inward facing parts of the business. The commoditisation of hardware and software has meant technology has gone through a rapid evolution, bringing it to the forefront of business consciousness. The stratospheric rise of the internet in recent years has taken this evolution to its next stage, fundamentally changing the way in which businesses expect to operate and communicate.

For many businesses, the increased consumer and customer awareness of what technology can do has been a significant equaliser when it comes to deciding how business models and processes will work. Rather than pushing from enterprise back-offices to consumers, innovation pace and technology adoption are in many cases now being dictated by consumers themselves. Smart businesses will be those that adapt their ways of thinking and working accordingly.

It’s the service, not the speed – Getting internet access is no longer enough.  The issue now is how much faster broadband can and will become. For many businesses, the speed of internet access they currently have tends to be enough for the majority of applications. That isn’t to say there’s no room for improvement, but it does open up some space to discuss how effectively organisations are using their current internet capabilities. With fast enough broadband speeds, any content can be delivered to any device – whether that be movies and music, or applications and data.  However, the success of any networked or remote service is not simply about ever faster speeds.  The way people interact with information changes depending on their point of access and successful businesses will acknowledge this, questioning the content and the service as much as the delivery mechanism.

Data is going public – with so many channels through which to create and share information, the amount of data created on a daily basis is growing exponentially. As a result, the British public and the organisations with which it interacts have, in many ways, changed their attitudes to data protection, management and ownership. Over the next 25 years the ability to use that data to provide improved and more efficient services will be pivotal in the UK’s ability to compete as leading a knowledge economy. For businesses, the challenge will be to identify what, among the masses of information available, is relevant to its stakeholders and how that knowledge can be best used to improve processes and outcomes.

Does this match up to your businesses experience of technology within your work place? The Connected Conversations project was created to get to the heart of the various issues different organisations face; straight from the horses mouth. As such, it would be great to get your thoughts too.

Small Business News | Cloud offers sophisticated telephony for SMEs

According to a recent article on SME Web, cloud computing is revolutionising the way that call centres are utilised by large companies, levelling the playing field for SMEs.

The article discusses the benefits of a cloud approach to telephony (cloud computing requires a shift from a traditional on-premise approach to hardware to a cloud-based external offering). The article explains how for SMEs this means that the purchase and maintenance of expensive telephony hardware is no longer required, therefore reducing the costs associated with owning hardware equipment. Another benefit for SMEs is that cloud-based solutions can offer enterprise business levels of service and professionalism, rarely a bad thing.

Read more about this news on the SME Web site.

Small Business Opinion | Could teleportation be part of your business in the next 25 years?

To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we have produced the ‘25 on 25 Connected Conversations Report’ to examine the ways in which the UK has been changed by technology over the past two and a half decades. Arranging a series of discussions between 25-year veterans and 25 year-old new starter across five sectors, we have been able to determine how exactly technology is penetrating all aspects of society, from business to education, healthcare and local government.

For a small business, the importance of technology in the workplace has grown becoming an integral part of running a business; from starting up right through to growth and development.  You can literally run a business from a bedroom now with the same functionality as if you had a fully fledged serviced office – but without the huge overheads.  Moreover, working across projects with multiple partners and dealing with customers and manufactures spread across different locations both inside and outside the UK, makes technology a strategic tool that is essential  for small businesses as we head into the next quarter century.

As for the consumer, in the last 25 years access to the latest technology has moved from being a closed specialism for the knowledgeable few to become an open and collaborative fabric of modern society, making its associated advantages available to all. Tech savvy consumers have wrenched control away from the organisational IT departments, and are now shaping the future development of technology in British society.

Undertaking research into the British public’s expectations of technology capability in the 21st century, from online voting to video-based healthcare and even teleporting, the consumers we spoke to are largely optimistic about when they expect to see technologies that will change their daily routines. In many instances we found that technology stops being ‘tech’ when it becomes ingratiated as part of people’s daily lives, such as the mobile phone. As you can see from the people we spoke to below, the public’s expectations for technology are unrecognisable from the mid 1980s.

2010 is a year of change. Green technology, faster broadband, smarter business, the digital economy, community regeneration, infrastructure innovation, public sector efficiency – they’re more than just buzzwords, they’re essential elements that will shape not just the UK’s economy, but arguably its place in the world as we know it. And whatever the future holds for the economy, government and business, it’s evident that technology will play a key role in shaping how that future looks and works.