Small Business Advice | Starting a Business – Checklist

Starting a business can be a very complex and time consuming process. Fellow small business website, Smarta, offers advice on how to set up a business step-by-step. The article goes on to answer some of the pressing questions soon-to-be business owners need to ask. For the full story, please visit Smarta.com

• How do I research my business idea?
• Writing a business plan
• How can I finance my business?
• Prepare: business training, skills and support
• Getting the right people on board
• Naming your business
• Registering your business
• Set up a website
• Getting suppliers and distributors on board
• Get the nitty-gritty right

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Recession hitting your sales? Then do “an Ollila”

My all-time business hero is Jorma Ollila, the Finn who took over Nokia and completely reinvented the firm. When Ollila became chief executive in 1992 Nokia was mess. It manufactured televisions and car tyres, and had a huge wood-pulping division. Ollila declared the future lay with mobile phones and utterly transformed Nokia. All non-mobile divisions were shut down or sold.

By the end of the decade Nokia was Europe’s most valuable firm.

I believe all entrepreneurs should ask themselves: “Can I do an Ollila?” If you make bicycles, perhaps you’d be better off switching to roller-skates. Or electric cars.

Restaurateur Sam Hurst is doing just that. Hurst founded the roast-meat-sandwich chain, Grazing, three years ago. But his initial concept isn’t working too well. The recession hammered sales and his five-year-plan to be the new Pret a Manger has since been dumped in the circular filing cabinet.

So he’s decided to “do an Ollila”.

In his own words: “Oh, god, my initial plans were hopelessly, wildly optimistic. We thought we’d be opening a Grazing by every Starbucks up and down the country. The recession hit us hard. Sales went down for 18 months. Fortunately we’ve discovered a new sales channel – office delivery. It wasn’t anything we planned. We got a few requests for deliveries and these have grown organically. We actually did no marketing at all. No fliers. No advertising. It just grew without us trying. I realised we needed to seize the opportunity. If we could grow the delivery business without marketing, just imagine what we could do if we really focussed on it.”

Hurst is essentially relaunching Grazing as an online-booking and delivery service. Same product. Different approach.

“We are taking a huge gamble with office delivery. We’ve invested tens of thousands in a new kitchen. Our overheads have doubled without growing revenues. We’ve spent money on an amazing website to take orders. Now its time to deliver! With the restaurant it took 18 months to break even. I don’t have 18 months of cash for this new project. I have three months. Which is tight! But I am really confident we can do it.”

It’s a gutsy move, no question. Fortunately his investors are backing him. As he says: “It’s a great opportunity to grow sales at a time when business conditions are dreadful. We’d be crazy not to do it.”

Post recession | IT Startups fought hardest

IT entrepreneurs worked harder than their peers in other sectors to beat the recession – thats according to a survey by specialist insurer Hiscox.

At the start of the recession many felt that it wouldn’t touch them – that was until reduced cash flows, more competition, stress and other factors took their toll. “IT professionals made a much higher personal investment than entrepreneurs from any other sector to secure their businesses”, Alan Thomas, a small business expert at Hiscox claims.

If you would like to find out more please read the full story on Computerweekly Online

Green energy startup gives free shares to reward customers

Utility startup, Green Energy UK, is handing out up to 400 shares to business and domestic customers to spread the green message and encourage them “go green”. So far 10,000 customers have taken up the offer. Douglas Stewart, former car dealer and company founder, has decided to offer shares in half of his company to the first 100,000 customers. He said: “This might sound extreme but I wanted to reward consumers who took active steps to be greener.”

Read the full story on The Daily Telegraph website

Equality act may ‘confuse’ small businesses

Just six months before the Equality Act comes into force, the Forum of Private Business has warned that the guide to help with understanding may prove confusing to small businesses. The non-statutory guidance on the Act has been drawn up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to help the employers to understand the Act, but the fear is that SMEs will struggle to make sense of their new obligations.

Read the full story on Caring Business website

Small businesses lack the support they need to “go green”

The Government needs to provide small businesses with better information to help them “go green”, according to findings from a new FSB survey of 10,000 members. Over half of small businesses think that energy efficiency can help them cut costs. However, SMEs also believe that they receive insufficient advice on the role they can play in the transition to a low carbon economy. The FSB is calling on the Government to introduce new measures to help small businesses be more environmentally friendly and bridge the knowledge gap.

For more information, read the full story on SME Business News http://ow.ly/1yKl6