Ben Warner - Megabyte Technology
Every business uses computer system across multiple areas of their business. It is therefore vital that your IT systems are running probably when you need them.
Outsourcing your IT support will provide your business with professional IT support without having to add one to your payroll or waste your valuable time trying to find solutions to the IT problems you might experience.
Your IT support options can involve outsourcing specific tasks such as setting up new computers, installing networks or buying in services such as data backups and computer security.
If you choose the right IT support company they will willing to provide you with a flexible range of options at a manageable.
Small business should be able to benefit from the same level of IT support as bigger companies and using a good IT support company for outsourcing your IT support requirements means that this is possible.
Sarah Orchard - Orchard Marketing
Yippee I’m 10!
Well 2017 was a major milestone for my business, I made it to the big 10! No that’s not 10 clients but 10 years running a small business. Given all the stats around small business failure, quoted as high as 80% in the first 3 years, I feel very proud to have survived against what seem like the harsh odds.
I started in 2007 just as the big recession hit and at times it might have seemed like a foolish decision to walk away from my lucrative Corporate job but my motivations weren’t money-driven. I had become disillusioned with the politics, back-stabbing and how slow and hard work the progress always felt. Time to make a difference and do something that had more immediate impact and was more rewarding.
So I set up my marketing consultancy and had no clients and no contacts in the small business world. Gulp!
It hasn’t been plain sailing by any means and I have learned the hard way with mistakes and getting things wrong. I have also learned some good stuff that I wanted to share to help other small business owners flourish and not flounder.
So here is my top 10 tips for small business success:
1 Why are you actually in business?
Be true to yourself and do what you are passionate about. It shows! It pours from your being and infects your prospects customers, associates and also importantly, your family and friends. Life is too short to do stuff you hate ever day – find your passion!
2 Really know your Ideal Customers
It can be tempting to throw your net wide to maximise your chances of success. But it makes the marketing job much harder and in fact, niche is best. The more focused and descriptive you can be the better. I went too wide initially and just said Small businesses and really it is small business owners who sell to end consumers and have an experience business – tourism, hospitality, leisure, or retail. Be really clear who your customers are!
3 Get your pricing/fees right
You need to be good at the commercial numbers. Don’t be tempted to start low – don’t undervalue your experience and skills - as it is hard and sometimes impossible to raise your prices later! I was told a good rule of thumb and choose to ignore it as the daily rate seemed a bit scary – it took me 3 years to get to the fees I charge now. It made I was somewhat of a busy fool for the first few years.
In the Corporate world I didn’t really know all this networking ‘underworld’ went on. Meetings in pubs and golf clubs in the early hours, sometimes before dawn! I spent the first 18 months networking, trying to go to 1-2 meetings per week. It can be hard work but it paid off. It takes time though. I didn’t really start to see results for about 9 months but it has repaid my investment ten fold and I met some great business buddies and suppliers along the way, as well as getting client work too. Don’t expect to walk away with it on day one though!!
5 Get a business buddy – a mentor or some peer to peer support…
Working for yourself can be lonely. I had always worked in big teams in large corporates. Suddenly I was on my own and ‘I’ and not a ‘we’ anymore! Nobody to bounce ideas or problems off of. If you are finding stuff tough – sometimes your life partner isn’t the best person to chat it through with, as they get scared about money and your happiness. Find some fellow self-employed business people – a supportive supplier, a networking friend, get a coach, join a Mastermind group, or get a mentor through a professional body or association. It can really help you develop your business and grow it quicker.
6 Outsource what you are not good at!
Do what you are good at, outsource what you don’t have the skills or patience for. Grow your business quicker. It can seem like a cost but these people are experts at what they are passionate about so let them help you – with IT, accounting, office admin, telemarketing, marketing and social media. I got my own Virtual Assistant (VA) about 5 years ago and in the first 12 months I doubled my turnover. Getting her to help with things meant I could focus on fee earning. It was a pivotal moment for my business.
7 Working on your business, not in your business
We all hear this expression all the time but it is easy to forget. Nigel Botterill in his Botty Rules book speaks about working on your business for 90 minutes every day – not on the urgent stuff – the important, business development or innovation stuff that moves you forward. I think most small business owners will struggle with 90 minutes every day, so I recommend setting aside 45 minutes, 3 times a week to do your own important stuff and that includes marketing your own business, not working on client work. I do this myself and it really does work. Make sure you set aside this time at the best time of day for you – when are you most focused and/or productive?
8 Don’t underestimate the power of your own website and Google
As people keep obsessing with social media (don’t get me wrong I love it as a marketer and what it does for us small businesses) but it often means I meet clients who spend all their time on it and don’t’ work on their own ‘shop window’ – their website. If you had a physical retail shop, you wouldn’t neglect your face to the world would you? Well if you did, you would soon close! I’m on my third iteration of my website now in 10 years and investing in it and doing my SEO and blogging has brought significant benefits to my business. I have grown my website traffic 10 fold and I get 50% of my business from organic search – Google etc.
9 Love and nuture your existing customers
Businesses are always looking for new customers but what about your existing ones? People who have bought from you are much more valuable! It costs ten times more to acquire a new customer and just doing some basics like email marketing, client gifts and thank yous for referrals, can all work wonders. No fancy digital marketing techniques but surprisingly still very effective in this modern digital age! I get 50% of my business as repeat and/or referral / recommendation. I always send a little gift to my top clients and a thank you chocolate to people who refer work. Little thank you gestures mean a lot.
10 Above all else - keep your Integrity!
I find this the most difficult thing about running a small business (alongside chasing late invoice payments!!). You have to know when to walk away from business or a client, if it isn’t working. It’s a hard conversation to have with yourself and the client or supplier involved. But you must keep you integrity and your gut feel is always right. It must never be ALL business at ALL costs. It isiou the best - luckew tore new ot business, I hope it helps you be even more successful. good and identify with some of something I feel is really fundamental.
Well that’s it, I hope if you have been in business for many years (probably much longer than me), you will smile wryly and identify with some of my struggles and woes! If you are new to business, I hope it helps you be even more successful. I wish you the best - Good Luck!
Bob Pointer - CFIL Global
What counts for trust and respect today? We are all part of the connected world. Like it or not we are all now impacted on by technology and would be lost without our little box of tricks we call “smart phones” (who thought that up is a genius the phone is smart not the user!).
We all use to some extent social media and share parts of our life with our friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends etc. However, there is much evidence which supports the proposition that whilst we are becoming more technically savvy we are becoming less aware of what relationships are in the real world. We are becoming what an acquaintance of mine Nick Looby calls in his recently published book “Modern Zombies” glued to our devices.
Alongside lack of attachment comes the right to say online things you would never dream of saying or doing in the real world, trolling, voyeurism etc. Empathy for others and respect are not high on the agenda. But it has not always been that way or has it?
My fathers simple life revolved around hard work as an engineer on a Thames tug and his family.
One of his greatest pleasures was to read, he could recite whole passages from Charles Dickens novels and was a regular visitor to our local library where he would spend hours immersing himself in his favourite past time. The library was around a mile from our house and every two weeks he would religiously make the journey to replace or renew his books on his old bone shaker bicycle which was one of the only possessions gifted down to him from his father.
Back in those days in the late 1960s there was an element of trust and faith in others and he would routinely leave his bicycle propped up against the wall of the library whilst he spent time there.
I remember him arriving back home that fateful day looking sad and tired but not angry, even though his beloved heirloom had been stolen.
My father was a principled man who believed if you wanted something you saved for it. We never had credit or owed anything to anyone. And so, he saved for a new bicycle and eventually he purchased one and against his beliefs, as he liked to always see the good in people, he bought a lock and chain.
Sometime later he visited the library and left his bicycle chained by its front wheel to the libraries drainpipe. When he returned it was still there chained to the said pipe but unfortunately the frame and back wheel had been stolen.
My father never visited the library again.
This sad and slightly amusing story came back to me when I read the quirky and more recent story of the hitchhiker robot.
Hitchbot the creation of researchers from Ontario’s McMasters and Ryerson University was made up of odds and ends including wellington boots and gardening gloves. He was designed as a “social robot” to test how people would behave when confronted with what is described as a “technical novelty”. In his lifetime Hitchbot travelled extensively across the US and Canada as the guest of those who found him or passed him on.
It proved to be a life affirming display of human spirit and generosity inevitably played out over social media until the fateful day when his final tweet was posted which read,
“My trip must come to an end for now, but my love for humans will never fade. Thanks friends”.
After all of the experiences Hitchbot had been exposed to, being photographed in New York at Stadiums and on beaches, he was found via his inbuilt GPS tracker decapitated and trashed in a parking lot in Philadelphia.
The connection between these two anecdotes are that, to me, they can be perceived in two ways. I could be negative and highlight how both stories highlight the ability of human beings to let themselves down. But I prefer to highlight how both these stories illustrate that the clear majority of people still today respect others and their possessions. It is this respect that allowed my father to leave his bicycle unchained for many years and for Hitchbot to have his adventures.
Reading this you may find my conclusion overtly simplistic but I have big shoes to fill and after years of seeing the cruel and dark side of humanity I am now enjoying being my father’s son committed to respecting others, because I truly believe that on balance of probabilities they will live up to my belief in them.
Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners – Laurence Stern
For my Dad - in my eyes you were the most noble man who ever walked this earth
CAP BUSINESS CLUBS BLOG
Visit us on Facebook - We always appreciate any "Likes"
T: 01594 723120
M: 07811 981929
The Main Place
Old Station Way