Small Business News | Marketing tips for entrepreneurs

According to Growing Business, a new web portal and LinkedIn group have been launched to offer free advice for businesses on how to get the most from their online presence.

Created by the author, Ian Whiteling, the website om4biz.com contains blogs from web experts on how companies can promote themselves better over the internet. Alongside this is a social media discussion group, which features a panel of experts ready to answer the queries of businesses looking to develop their web presence.

By joining the groups one can then post up queries on anything from website design, implementation and content to search engine optimisation, email marketing, internet advertising and social media.

To find out more, please visit the Growing Business website.

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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 Advice | Networking – Mum’s the Boss

This week I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of women entrepreneurs in Bedford.  The networking group is called Mumstheboss.co.uk  and it was created to support and network mums in business, and its growing rapidly.  As a mum of three I’m really passionate about how much better, not to mention how exciting life can be for everybody, when you’re in the driving seat.

My talk was on how important it is to have an overall vision, not only for your business but also for your personal life, and how having a big vision accompanied by big juicy goals focuses the mind.

At the start of Tots to Travel, I remember receiving some business advice that encouraged me to think small, so I did.  I went about creating a business with a limiting brand and, perhaps more worryingly, a limiting mindset. 

However, I’ve changed all that now!  My baby friendly holiday business has a 5 year vision, big, juicy goals and a planned exit strategy.  With a 3 or 5 year vision in place you can then work backwards and figure out exactly what it is you need to do today to make your vision a reality.  Everything falls into place then.

Sam, one of the founders from Mums the Boss filmed me afterwards using a nifty Flip.  Here it is…

Generally, women approach their businesses lacking the conviction and the confidence to make them fly. However, with a bit of support and encouragement I believe women – and particularly mums – make excellent business leaders and perhaps more importantly, fabulous role models for the next generation.  I know from the feedback that I’ve had that there were more than a few mums who left with a new found bounce in their step and a grander vision in mind!  Go for it!

Wendy

Small Business Advice |Top data mistakes from SME’s

The success of a marketing strategy relies heavily on a business’s ability to turn data into real and usable knowledge. An article by Small Biz Point notes the common pitfalls experienced by small businesses and the best way to avoid them.

Assuming data provides infinite business opportunities: It’s unwise to assume that data provides you with an endless list of prospects for your business. Businesses need to understand the overall universe of prospects and who is likely to use their products in order to avoid wasted resources and time.

Not treating data as strategic: Too many businesses fail to focus on the reasons behind a prospects ‘no’. Instead of static strategies, learning why prospects choose to use you or not and modifying accordingly may actually help turn that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.

Assuming data is correct and complete: Never assume that data is complete and accurate. Businesses need to invest time and money into ensuring that data is current and fully representative of the sectors they seek to cover.

Price doesn’t matter: Paying the lowest rates for data is a bad choice. Given the benefits that arise from accurate and extensive databases, it is always worth paying the price for a decent service. Remember data isn’t a commodity.

Failing to ask the right questions: Failing to ask the right questions from data is a mistake. It is important to understand the complexities of data, even down to where it is sourced from. If you’re unable to ask the correct questions yourself, then hire someone to do it for you. Better to spend more money in the short-term than to misunderstand a valuable resource and lose your campaign altogether.

To read the advice in full, please click on this link.

Small Business News | Be aware of localised internet marketing scams

Ever received sales calls offering ‘off the shelf’ localised internet marketing campaigns which claim to enable you to own keywords by purchasing them as a domain name? According to a an article on SME Web, small and medium businesses are being warned that such calls could leave them out of pocket by hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Search Marketing Expert – Andrew Rayner – has expressed concern that whilst this looks like a good investment, businesses could easily purchase the domain and basic hosting themselves whilst retaining total ownership of both domain and content. Targeted small and medium businesses are trapped into thinking that they own said domains, but in reality it is the service provider itself that has full ownership. Because of this domains can be re-sold to other parties and you will have no legal claims if this is done. A second trap is that one is effectively tied in to agreed charges because in order to continue receiving leads one has to continue payment.

Click on the SME web hyperlink to see the find out more details about the scam.

Small Business Advice |The importance of technology for SME’s

Yesterday’s news that David Cameron is putting his full support behind Martha Lane Fox’s Race Online 2012 campaign to get all of Britain’s working population using the internet, can only mean good things for the UK’s SMEs. Backing of such a level as Government signifies the increasing awareness of how important innovative technology and the internet is, particularly to small businesses and budding entrepreneurs. For any businesses, the internet is invariably recognised as relatively risk-free route to growth. These days, more and more businesses are focusing on developing their online presence and many start up’s begin with an online shop front.

It seems to me that there’s no denying that internet access and all the great opportunities and tools that come with it are a vital part of today’s small business . Here’s a few reasons why:

Websites

Having a website is now one of the most important platforms from which SME’s can market themselves by  crossing geographical boundaries and being incredibly cost effective in comparison to the traditional marketing routes. Not only that, creating an online component to your business can greatly extend your market reach and lead to new and healthy revenue streams. A good website should reflect the businesses personality, offering customers an experience similar to visiting a store, office or showroom as well as offering another line of communication.

Social Media

The new era of social media, in a similar vein to possessing a business website, provides SME’s with another marketing platform. However this platform is consultative and engaging, allowing businesses of all sizes to converse with their customers and clients rather than talk at them. In short, what social media provides is a channel through which market research and a more informal engagement with the outside world can take place on.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is no longer the preserve of the large enterprise. As the relative price and access gap between large enterprise and smaller business narrows, the value of video communication is beginning to register on the SME radar. Services such as WebEx or Skype are a great alternative to face-to-face meetings. Not only do they free up employees time that would have otherwise been spent travelling, it’s also an appealing option  for businesses trying to cut travel costs as well as their carbon footprint. Furthermore as 60% of communication is non-verbal, those important business calls once made via telephone can now be done face to face, regardless of location.

Flexible Working

Not only is business  getting faster but the business world is becoming increasingly globalised. This means the way we work and where we work from has moved on from the traditional 9-5.  Whether you’re on the move or working from home or a coffee shop, your customers need to get hold of you no matter where you are. Keeping your workers connected, allows them to work from practically anywhere.  Creating a ‘virtual’ office space that can be accessed from a laptop or handheld device means time out of the office can be just as productive as that spent in the office.

Are some (or most) of these tools an essential part of your business? If not, which ones would you suggest?

Small Business News | SMEs miss R&D tax breaks

 

According to a recent report conducted by Deloitte, under half of UK small and medium sized companies surveyed are missing out on millions of pounds of tax relief, designed to encourage research and development.

 The report reveals that 24% of respondents were unaware that such tax breaks exist. Moreover out of the 45% of companies that were failing to claim the aforementioned tax breaks, 80% of those employ under 50 people which suggests that the scheme is failing to trickle down to those companies that may need it the most. Another point highlighted by Deloitte is that there was clear regional disparities between SME’s failing to cash in on the scheme. A healthy 55% of companies in areas such as London, Northern Ireland and Scotland were clued up to and utilising the tax break in comparison to less than 10% of SME’s based in the Midlands.  

For more information and to read the article in full, please visit the Silicon website.