Talking Points - Our 3 Minute Blogs!

We all have busy lives and finding the time to research creative ideas to help your business is difficult. So we've made our blogs short and sweet, which allows you to grab some great help over a quick coffee - what could be better!

You can browse through essential information, super tips and creative answers supplied by our knowledgeable experts, so bookmark this page now!
Awareness Days

Why is it so important to shop local this Christmas?

The perks of supporting local businesses..

Boosting the local economy & community

Preserving the environment - no nasty plastic packaging or fuel for deliveries!

Making dreams come true (ensure someone has a "happy jig" every time you purchase from them!)

Receive that personal touch that larger companies won't have the time to fulfil

How to support small businesses?

Social media – every like, comment and share is an AMAZING way to start – you don’t need to spend anything!

Leave positive reviews online.. they all mean so much!

Tell your friends – word of mouth is the best, easiest way to advertise

Local fayres/markets etc – we all love a farmers market right?

5 ways to shop local this Christmas

1.      Locally Crafted Flower Arrangement

2.      Holiday Cards

3.      Independent Bookstores

4.      Explore Your Local Shops

5.     Local, Fresh Ingredients

Read more ...
December 16, 2022

Inevitable Christmas Party Blog

When you speak to employers about Christmas, try and keep discussions from a point of view that takes in both angles, as an employer, but also as someone who does like to party as well

We talk a lot about how important it is for companies to have a sense of camaraderie among co-workers, and often a Christmas party can be a great place for these bonds to be forged over drinks and food and in a festive atmosphere.

The unfortunate side effect of drink is, however, that it becomes easy to give or take offence, or find yourself in trouble the next day. The main takeaway is that you really focus on setting some degree of understanding about what is expected of everyone.

Here are my suggestions:

Define what is acceptable and unacceptable

You need to be realistic about what is acceptable and communicate it clearly ahead of the party. Hopefully this will mean you're not sat there on the night feeling disappointed in your employees' behaviour. A Christmas party is not the right time to be pulling people up on their behaviour so ideally people will do some self-policing if they know what's expected of them.

One thing to consider is your own behaviour. If you're leading the drinking, then you'll inevitably set the tone.

In fact, for a lot of managers, showing their face early on and then leaving everyone to it is one way to be part of the team while maintaining a little bit of distance from events later in the night.

Thursday is a very popular night for Christmas parties, but this also means that the Friday is... "interesting" for the company. You certainly can't tolerate drunkenness on site, nor can you condone people driving in to work while still under the influence. It may be that you give latitude to people to come in a little late.

But: if your business can't afford for that sort of leeway, then you have to make that clear to the team. If it's necessary for everyone to be in on time and in good shape, you must communicate that to them in advance so that they have some idea of how you expect them to behave.

Although a Christmas party is usually out of working hours- as the employer you're still responsible. You have a duty of care towards your employees and may be held vicariously liable if someone behaves inappropriately.

Make it clear

Whatever you decide, don't keep it to yourself. If people know where they stand - they can abide by the rules you set. If you say that 'anything goes' then your moral authority to take action the next day is diminished.

So, send a note to all reminding them of your policies around conduct, representing the company, alcohol use and - increasingly - drugs.

Spell out what behaviour will be deemed unacceptable - whether it's being disrespectful of coworkers, coming into work still under the influence, or bringing the company into ill-repute.

Finally, explain what sanctions you will take to anyone who breaks the codes of behaviour. This could vary in seriousness, all the way up to dismissal for particularly egregious conduct, so it's absolutely critical that this message is clear.

Act when needed

If you've made your position clear and someone has still mis-judged how they should behave, then you have to act and do so fast. It is no good waiting till the new year to tell someone that they have failed to live up to expectations. By then it will seem to be "ancient history" to them and they may wonder what all the fuss is about.

If you don't act, you are effectively saying that you have standards but won't do anything to enforce them. And once you've set that pattern for yourself as well as for them, it becomes more difficult to set standards for future events - or even letting things get worse.

We give these tips with the best possible intentions. Everyone deserves the chance to relax at Christmas and as said at the outset it can be a great chance for your team to bond. However, almost nobody would trade a good night out for their job, so it's important that everything is clear, precise and well policed.

We are more than happy to help with any of the above. If you need practical help clarifying your position to employees, give me us call. If you find yourself in the unhappy position of dealing with point 3 we can most definitely help with that.

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December 16, 2022

What does productivity mean? A guide for small businesses

Productivity broadly refers to how much gets done, but you also often hear that UK productivity overall is lagging behind other countries. 

So what does productivity mean in this sense and how is it measured? Find out how to apply the definition to your small business.

What is productivity?

In economics, productivity measures growth and efficiency. It’s a ratio of what gets produced against the inputs needed to produce it.

Those inputs could include land and equipment, but labour is the most common measure. 

This means that when we usually talk about productivity, we talk about how much a particular workforce produces. But how is productivity measured?

Using the labour productivity formula

When calculating a country’s productivity, economists use this calculation:

Gross domestic product (GDP) / total productive hours

But if you’re calculating your business’s productivity, you can use the labour productivity formula:

Output (e.g. goods or services) / total labour hours 

For example, if your business makes £100,000 of goods in 2,000 hours, this costs £50 for each hour of work.

You can also divide the output by the number of employees, for example if it took 20 employees to make £100,000 worth of products, it cost £5,000 each employee.

It’s also possible to work out how efficient your business is. If you have a standard number of hours that it takes to complete a project or make a product, and it takes more time or less time, you can work out efficiency as a percentage. For example:

(Standard number of hours / number of actual hours worked) x 100 = percentage efficiency

So if the standard number of hours is 75 and actual hours worked is 82, you operated at 91.5 per cent efficiency.

What does productivity mean for your business?

As above, productivity in business essentially means how much you produce by number of employees, or hours worked.

Being more productive helps to grow your business, because it increases profitability, enables higher wages (attracting new employees), and improves customer satisfaction.

On the other hand, low productivity causes stagnation. It costs your business money in decreased efficiency and often means that your employees aren’t engaged with their work.

This means that keeping on top of your business productivity is important, so use the labour productivity formula above and track your results over time.

If you notice you’re lagging, you can put steps in place quickly to remedy the problem.

The Office for National Statistics has a productivity calculator that you can use to track where your business sits in relation to other businesses in the same sector.

The productivity formula is just one of many calculations that you can use to track performance and efficiency.

Increasing productivity: tips for your business

There are a number of ways to increase productivity in your business. These include making better use of technology, empowering your employees, and implementing lean and agile processes.

Communication tools – email can be a significant drain on time. So if you find that it’s slowing your business down, you may see productivity gains in using software like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Project management tools – it’s now easier than ever to see where your projects get held up. Tools like TrelloAsanaNotion, and let you move work through a virtual timeline, assign owners, and keep all your files in one place. These tools are usually customisable, meaning you can use them in the way that’s best for your business.

Product management methodologies – study how competitors in your sector operate to see if you can implement processes that are proven to work for your product or service. 

Broadly speaking, Toyota popularised lean manufacturing, whose principles around minimising waste and maximising efficiency now extend far beyond motor engineering. And agile methodology is now at the forefront of product delivery – why not use agile principles in your business to increase productivity?

Reward and recognise your employees – your employees will often be more productive when they feel empowered to work in the way that’s best for them, and their efforts are recognised and rewarded properly.

What’s more, do they have all the tools needed to perform at their best? It could be worth surveying them to check how engaged they are – the data you get back can help you make improvements. 

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September 14, 2022

Setting goals for your business? Here’s what you need to know

Every business idea starts with a business plan. But how often should you evolve it, and what happens if you don’t achieve your goals? 

Setting goals and ambitions for your business helps you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. But setting unrealistic goals can be disheartening and lead to burn out. 

Small business lender iwoca surveyed 500 small business owners about their motivations, goals, and ambitions. Read on to find out the secret to successful goal setting and how to get your business on the right track.

Nearly half of small business owners didn’t achieve their short-term goals within time frame and budget

iwoca’s survey asked small business owners about their initial (one to three-year) goals when starting out. Staggeringly, it found 45 per cent of small business owners didn’t achieve their short-term goals within their initial time frame and budget. 

These short-term goals were:

  • to stay in business – 39 per cent
  • to see the company make a profit - 46 per cent
  • to turnover £1 million in their first three years – 8 per cent

Short-term goals should be realistic and achievable 

If your goals are too ambitious then you may need to adjust them, which can feel demotivating. 

iwoca found 17 per cent of business owners reduced their short-term goals in order to achieve them in time frame or budget. While more than 22 per cent had to increase their budget to achieve their goals. 

Make sure your business plan is realistic with how long you want to give your business before it starts making money and scaling up – and that your budget reflects this.

Achieving new business goals takes longer than you might think

The same study found 64 per cent of business owners had to expand their initial time frames to achieve their long-term business goals. They said they needed to giveat least 12 to 18 months longer than initially planned to achieve their long-term goals. 

Keeping this in mind will help you when thinking about goals and growth plans for your business.

75% of business owners say their goals changed over time

Being able to manage unpredictability is a key part of running a business, and it’s not uncommon for businesses to change direction from their initial plans. 

According to iwoca’s study, 32 per cent of business owners said they had expanded into other areas over time. And 17 per cent said they had to have a full change of direction. 

The coronavirus pandemic showed just how important being able to pivot and adapt a business to fit with changing environment and legislation. Pubs became takeaways and cafés started serving customers on pavements. 

Changing goals could include things like:

  • getting extra investment, such as a business loan or angel investment
  • expanding into new areas or developing a new product or service
  • opening a new premises 
  • growing an online presence 

However, a Simply Business SME Insights Report into small business trends recently found many business owners are putting growth plans on hold as they battle the challenge of rising costs. 

Can unrealistic goals make you unhappy? 

iwoca found that nearly one in five business owners say they had to reduce time spent with loved ones in order to achieve their business goals. While 17 per cent missed out on holidays.

While many business owners start out because they’re looking for increased flexibility, this research shows that the reality can mean having less free time than before. 

This chimes with a separate Business study, which found 63 per cent of women business owners said running a business would give them more control over their work-life balance. 

Hapreet Kaur, winner of The Apprentice, shared in a webinar that she started her business to quit the 9 to 5 corporate life. But she then found that being a business owner becomes “a lifestyle” and is a 24/7 job. 

But she says “if you're like me and you feel really passionate about what you do, it's fun.”

Tips for setting goals for your business

  • analyse opportunities and threats – what’s happening in your industry? Can you embrace new technologies? Doing a SWOT analysis can help you understand the risks and trends that may impact your business 
  • be flexible – staying rigid with your goals can be limiting and stressful, so set time to re-evaluate where you’re going and adapt your business plan if you need to
  • consider working with a business mentor – it can be hard to know what to focus on, so a business mentor can help you explore what’s going to have the most impact for your business
  • set SMART goals – meaning goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound
  • record your achievements – and celebrate them in your own way, whether that’s writing them in a journal, sharing milestones on social media, or taking a much-needed day off


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September 14, 2022

How to make money with Airbnb experiences: a simple guide

You don’t need to list a property on Airbnb to make money hosting an experience on the online platform. You just need to have a unique tour, activity, or class that people might want to do while they’re visiting your local area. 

Whether you’re interested in having a side hustle or want to explore a new revenue stream for your existing business, running an Airbnb experience can be lucrative and rewarding. 

Here we’ll explain more about how to set up your Airbnb Experiences page, pros and cons, as well as ideas for adapting an existing small business for the tourist crowd.

What are Airbnb Experiences? 

Airbnb says an experience can be anything, but it should ‘go beyond the typical tour or class’. The idea is that it’s something unique, designed by a local, and gives people an insider’s view of your city or culture. 

Popular activities include: 

  • city tours
  • dance classes
  • photography tours
  • cooking lessons
  • hiking day experiences

How does Airbnb work? 

People usually find experiences when they’ve booked to stay somewhere through Airbnb (although anyone can browse the experiences page). The booking will show popular activities near where they’re staying, along with reviews to encourage them to sign up. 

Understanding Airbnb fees and payouts

Airbnb does take a percentage of the money you make through experiences. Currently it’s listed as a service fee of 20 per cent of the total cost you charge guests. 

Your earnings are released 24 hours after your experience has ended, and will appear in your nominated bank account up to five days later.

Diversify your existing business by hosting experiences

If you’re already a small business owner but are keen to find additional ways to boost your profit, here are just a few ideas you could try, depending on your skill or trade:

  • freelance photographers – take tourists on a tour of the area and photograph them in top spots for Instagram 
  • personal chefs – offer a unique dining experience or a cooking class inspired by your culture or local cuisine 
  • craft business owners– could you teach people how to make something, for example wreath making (including where to find the materials), or lead an art class in a beautiful location?
  • fashion businesses – take guests through a history of fashion in your city or teach them how to shop more sustainably (complete with a tour of the best second-hand spots in town)

How to host an experience on Airbnb

From city tours to cooking lessons, here’s how to make money with Airbnb Experiences. You’ll need to have excellent customer service skills, show off your local knowledge, and make people feel welcome. 

Practical steps to setting up your experience page

First, you’ll need to have an Airbnb account. Just head to the Airbnb website and click ‘Sign up’ if you don’t have an account already. Otherwise, it’ll be the same account you use for travelling. 

Then you’re ready to create your experiences page with the following details: 

  • name of your experience– you’ll need to give it an eye-catching title that tells guests what the activity is
  • description of the activity and yourself– tell guests what the experience involves, and a bit about your experience and knowledge
  • location – remember people will be unfamiliar with the area so make sure it’s clear where you'll be meeting
  • start time and length of experience – let guests know how long your activity will last and when it starts
  • photos - you can select up to seven quality photos for your experience page, showing guests what to expect from the activity
  • price – set the price for each guest (bearing in mind the Airbnb service fees that'll be taken from your payout)

Thinking of setting up an online experience? 

Do I need to pay tax on my Airbnb experience? 

It’s important to be aware of your Airbnb UK tax responsibilities so you stay on the right side of HMRC. 

Everyone’s allowed a £1,000 tax-free trading allowance, so you don’t have to tell HMRC about any income unless you’re making more than this in a tax year. 

If you’re running Airbnb experiences regularly then you’ll probably need to set yourself up as self-employed and file a tax return every January. 

If this is just a side business for you, read our guide to second job tax to understand in more detail. 


As an Airbnb Experiences host, you’re automatically covered by Airbnb’s liability insurance

This covers you if there’s a claim against you for:

  • bodily injury to a guest (or others)
  • damage to or theft of property belonging to a guest (or others)

However, if running experiences is only one part of your business, you’ll need to organise additional cover. 

How do Airbnb Online Experiences work? 

Airbnb introduced Online Experiences during the pandemic in 2020, and they surged in popularity. There are now hundreds of online experiences listed on Airbnb, ranging from magic tricks to a coffee masterclass. 

To get set up with an online experience, you’ll need to submit a video demonstration to Airbnb so they can confirm it meets their standards (in addition to the steps mentioned above). Airbnb has created guides on how to create a video submission to help you set up.

Pros and cons of hosting Airbnb Experiences


  • flexible – you decide when and how often you want to offer an experience 
  • easy to build reviews – people are used to writing reviews of homes on Airbnb, and will often be keen to leave a public review of your experience 
  • can be highly profitable – offering a unique experience for small groups can mean you can charge more for the personal experience 


  • service fees – Airbnb takes 20 per cent of the price for each guest just for using their platform (although you get free marketing and insurance)
  • no minimum group size – to make experiences accessible for solo travels, you need to offer your experience even if only one person signs up
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September 14, 2022

Show your employees the love

We all love feeling loved, here we are going to tell you how you can spread this good feeling throughout the workplace.

It's a fact - employees who feel valued and appreciated perform better - they want to do more for you, want to stay in your employment and will shout about the good stuff.

Here's a gentle reminder about how to spread the love:

  1. Appreciate regularly - it doesn't have to cost the earth - a simple thank-you speaks volumes. Make sure you make a note of the good stuff that your team does and don't forget to raise it. Some people may like the public praise - some will just like a quiet word. Find out what works for each person so you can make a real personal impact.
  2. Spend some time with each employee - even if you're the big boss - take the time. Everyone in your employment is a crucial cog in the business - don't under value what each and every person brings. Find out what stops them from doing an efficient job and see if you can assist - it may be a little thing but it's the little things that matter.
  3. Carry out gestures to prove you're all on the same side - go to reception to welcome a visitor instead of expecting everyone else to do it. Make a cuppa. Smile and say morning to people. Don't put yourself on a pedestal which removes you even further from the people who matter to the success of your business.
  4. If possible, introduce employee volunteer days – this is a really easy way not only to show employees that you value them, but also help local charities in the process. This helps with team dynamics, treating everyone equally and gets everyone working together on something a little different. Charities will help you with ideas of what you can do as a team, and also help organise any events you want to do.

By the way - I'm not saying that you should only do this as a one-off, as you don’t want people to feel that the gesture was disingenuous. If you want to make a lasting impact though - keep up the good work, and make sure you show your employees they are important to you.

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September 12, 2022

Create a Cash-Flow plan

There’s no doubt about it, effective cash flow planning can be something of an art form to master. But it is crucial to get good at it to ensure the financial decisions you are making are the right ones.

There’s no doubt about it, effective cash flow planning can be something of an art form to master. Not to put you off, of course, but many potentially profitable businesses have struggled – or even failed – due to poor cash flow management. That’s why it’s important to create a healthy prediction of your cash flow, and to ensure the financial decisions you are making are the right ones.

But before we begin, what actually is cash flow planning? Well, simply put, it is the process of looking at your current financial situation and planning ahead for the future. We liken it to a financial Sat-Nav. Not only will you understand where you are and where you want to go, but it will highlight all of your options and help you with any potential roadblocks along the way.

So here you are. You have your small or medium enterprise, which may be a brand-new venture, or something you’ve been trying to grow and progress over the years and have somewhat fallen short in the cash flow planning department (easily done – don’t worry!) and you may be seeking some guidance on how to hit the nail on the head. Well, ask and you shall receive!

Below is a list of simple, non-business jargon-y ways that will aid you in creating a solid cash flow plan for your business and will help get you firmly on track.

  1. Set Ongoing Goals. Visualise where you would like to be, financially, and set your goals to be a healthy balance between ambitious and realistic. And always think ahead: the next quarter, the next six months, the next year, etc., and tailor your goals with this in mind. These are known as ‘stretch goals’ (targets that demand continual performance improvements).
  2. Don’t Fear the ‘C Word’ – ‘cash’, that is. Remember the key component of your cash flow plan is the cash. Your cash flow budget should only include cash-in and cash-out. That’s all. It is exclusively the incomings and outgoings of cash movement within your business.
  3. Risk Assessment. Late payments from clients can be especially difficult for SMEs to recover from, and in turn, can create a cash flow crisis. The trick to navigating this “is to determine the level of risk on payments you can take as a business. If the answer is ‘no risk at all’ then payment in advance is the solution. This can restrict your market somewhat, especially in the B2B world where companies often expect to pay on account. Early payment discounts might be attractive to some businesses where profit is the driver, and will help you to collect your cash faster, but extended terms may still be more favourable to companies for whom cash generation is key.”
  4. Look into Cash Hubs. One important aspect of cash flow management is the discipline of paying yourself a set amount to cover your day-to-day living expenses. By using a central cash hub, you can set your living expenses to be transferred into a transactional account, and your bills will be automatically paid. Meanwhile, the remainder of your salary accumulates in the cash hub and your income will start earning interest. Win-win!
  5. Budgeting. Perhaps a no-brainer point, but your budget should centre around your financial position and all of your predicted expenses. Having a budget written down in front of you is a strong way to visualise where percentages of your money will be going, and in turn, may help you prioritise (or reprioritise) spending.
  6. TALK! Running a business, particularly if you’re a newbie to the entrepreneur or solopreneur world, can be an overwhelming and sometimes lonely process. But the good news is you’re absolutely not alone! According to FSB, there were 5.9 million small businesses at the start of 2020, and compared with the previous year, the private sector business population increased 1.9% (+113,000 businesses). Reach out and talk to other SME owners – they will provide you with many pearls of wisdom from their own experiences with cash flow planning. The best advice comes from people who’ve been in your position, right?!
  7. Consider Some TrainingThere are a lot of courses, resources, and advice for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and new businesses in and around the Gloucestershire area, with the simple goal of making it easy to get the right support for you and your business. You will find that some of it is even free advice!
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July 10, 2022

Beginners guide to creating a marketing Plan

A marketing plan is fundamental to ensuring your business's success. In this blog, we take you through the steps to help you put together a sound marketing plan for your new business.

When you embark on a new business venture, there are so many things to think about. You are likely wearing many different hats and taking on different roles, from logistics to HR and creative to marketing. That’s why in this blog, we will look at:

  • What a marketing plan is and its importance
  • Business KPIs and key information
  • Branding and market research

So, keep reading as we take away some of the stress and confusion from creating a marketing plan – giving you time to focus on creating a successful business for years to come.

What is a marketing plan?

Marketing plans serve as a roadmap for the future, informing promotional strategies and business decisions. It can also help to save you a lot of time and hassle whilst enabling you to spend your marketing budget more effectively and ensuring your whole team is oriented toward a common goal.

It depends on which exact organisational framework you choose to help develop your marketing plan, but in general, you should aim to include:

  • Key goals and objectives
  • Situational analysis
  • Market research
  • Tactical information & content strategy
  • Budgets & resources
  • Monitoring & improvement

How to write a marketing plan

There are various frameworks and models available to help create your marketing plan. A popular framework is the SOSTAC® planning model. Created by PR Smith in the 1990s, this model has stood the test of time. The phrase SOSTAC® is an acronym for the model’s six fundamental aspects, which are:

  • Situation
  • Objectives
  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Action
  • Control

This framework is highly adaptable, commonly used in modern marketing strategies and covers key points that a new business would need to cover in a marketing plan. We will explore each aspect of the framework and look at how you can use it to help you create an effective marketing plan in no time at all.

  1. Situational analysis – where are we now?

As the title would suggest, the first step is evaluating exactly where your business stands at the current moment. You’re looking to develop an in-depth but concise overview of your organisation. To do this, consider the following questions:

  • Who are your customers (demographic profile)
  • How do they interact with your business (via which channels and platforms)
  • What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your business (SWOT analysis)
  • Who are your key competitors (note how they differ in terms of the offering, pricing, and service)
  • Which channels and platforms work for you and which do not

This step should provide some valuable insight into where your business is, what is and isn’t working, and what your key channels are.

  1. Objectives – where do we want to be?

A great way to establish your objectives for the future is to define some SMART objectives. Whilst this might seem daunting, it helps to ensure that your goals are realistic and well defined, which may save you hassle in the long run. SMART stands for:

  • Specific – is your objective clear or vague? For example, ‘increase shoe sales’ is not a specific objective and could lead to uncertainty and further questions. Instead, choose ‘increase sales of women’s black shoes by 20% during 2022’.
  • Measurable – what will success look like for your company, and how will you measure it?
  • Achievable – your goals and objectives should be realistically achievable instead of describing a hope or vague wish for the business.
  • Relevant – is your goal pertinent to your success? Defining this will prevent you from wasting time and effort on objectives that aren’t particularly important.
  • Time-related – it is difficult to achieve objectives that do not have an allocated timeframe. Establishing this will help keep your team on track and prevent excess spending on expired campaigns.
  1. Strategy – how will we get there?

Once you have clearly defined a firm set of SMART objectives, you can move on to consider how you will achieve them. This is highly tailored to each business and goes beyond general marketing channels – it defines exactly how your organisation will reach its goals, considering situational analysis.

If your objective is to ‘increase sales of women’s black shoes by 20% during 2022’, you might recommend that your company invests in an e-commerce website or sets aside a budget for a digital shopping campaign.

  1. Tactics – how exactly will we get there?

In the tactics section, you’ll be drilling down into the nitty-gritty of exactly how your company will use specific strategies to achieve its marketing objectives. Each company will develop a unique mix of tactics and tools to plan this, for example:

  • Content creation plan
  • General or specific marketing calendar
  • Digital roadmap
  • Pricing methods
  • Social media strategy
  • Website SEO plan
  • Promotional plans for individual product ranges

Each area of your tactical plan will correspond directly to your pre-defined objectives. If you are looking to increase awareness of a specific service or product, you may enlist the help of a PR agency and use a content planner. If you are looking to launch a new product, you might plan a detailed roadmap allocating a budget for product packaging and labelling, materials, and other production considerations.

  1. Action – who does what and when?

The action stage goes one step further into your planning and considers the resources available. Specifically, which department, staff member, or agency will be responsible for any given campaign. For each area detailed in tactics, follow up with these considerations:

  • Will you use external agencies such as marketing, web design, or logistics?
  • Which processes or systems will need to be put in place to support any given campaign?
  • Which in-house resources or skills can be capitalised on?
  • Are there any skill gaps, and will education be required?
  1. Control – how do we monitor performance?

The final step is putting in place some methods for performance monitoring, this will relate directly to your SMART objectives set out early in the plan. If you were looking to evaluate the success of any given campaign, how would you report it, at what frequency, and how?

You may have a dashboard tailored toward each channel or tactic – for example, a digital monthly report generated by your website provider or daily sales reporting that relates to in-store till sales. Your performance monitoring will give you key insights on areas for improvement and adaptation of your marketing campaigns in relation to meeting your chosen KPIs.

What are KPIs in business?

KPIs are your ‘Key Performance Indicators’ and vary from business to business. If you were going to determine if your business efforts were successful or not, which metrics would you use? Some common KPI examples include:

  • ROI – your return on investment
  • CPC – the cost per click to your website
  • CTR – click-through rate
  • Cost per customer acquisition
  • Prospect win VS loss rate
  • Customer retention rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Profit margin.

Now you know how to create an effective marketing plan using methods tried and tested by marketers across the globe. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? 

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July 10, 2022

Tips for Creating Winning Team Building Events

When it comes to a winning team building event, there is a little more involved than just making sure your team are having fun. Whilst the main goal from your team building event may well be to make sure the team relax that doesn't mean that can't also be productive for your company. 

Through a series of planned team building events that are fun and motivational, teams build skills like communication, planning, problem-solving and conflict resolution. So it is important you get your team building event right! 

1. Set Clear Goals 

Even though the corporate team building event can be fun for everyone involved, it is important to remember that in the end, it has to accomplish its goals to be worth the investment. That's why it's important to establish clear areas of focus that you want your employees to work on during the team building events.

2. Involve The Right People

Team building events can be very beneficial for all employees, but as is the case in most companies, some employees need more help than others. Whether it is poor people's skills, isolation, or even a tendency for conflict, making sure that people who need to improve are actively engaged in the team building event is essential.

3. Find The Correct Time

You can't expect your employees to fully engage with your event if you do not plan it to fit their schedules and personal lives. Some people will have an issue with doing team building events during their free time because they want to spend time with their families, so make sure that everyone's on board if you want to do a team building event in the evening.

4. Learn Something New

If your employees don't come out of the team building event having learned something new, it won't be very valuable. That doesn't mean that you should take a class together (although that can be a great idea), but learning something new about themselves, their colleagues, and how to better work together should be part of any team building event.

Want help in planning your next Team Building Event? Whether you are looking for a "It's a Knock Out" style activity course or mini workshops we can help. Contact us with your requirements and we can help plan your team building event, we have lots of contacts with suppliers, venues and event planners; so contact us without delay and we can help facilitate your perfect team building day.

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July 8, 2022

Bank Holidays and Part-Time entitlement

It's that time of year when Bank Holidays are aplenty and, weather permitting, it's time to fire up the barbecues or join the traffic jams heading for the coast, and this year (2022) we are getting an additional day for the Platinum Jubilee.

Behind the fun, and hopefully laughter, there is a serious point: have you ever heard a part time employee complain they're penalised by their bank holiday entitlement? I certainly have. In this blog I will explain the fairest way to calculate holiday entitlement, explain why some part timers feel aggrieved, and help you to respond.

Firstly, it's worth noting that pro rata holidays only apply for someone who doesn’t work every day with a consistent number of hours. It can get a little confusing, so here is a short guide to making the calculations add up to ensure fairness for everybody.

To make it easy I will assume that your full-time employees work 5 days a week Monday to Friday, and for the part timer well say they work on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Obviously, this isn’t an issue for certain industries, such as hospitality, where they normally will give an annual holiday allowance which includes Bank holidays, as everyone will need to take holiday if they want the Bank Holiday off.

The fairest way to calculate

Part time workers have the right to not be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker. Equally though a part timer should not be treated more favourably. Reducing holidays for those working a shorter week is therefore, the most equitable solution. Here’s the calculation, using our '3 day a week' employee:

  • If you pay statutory holidays, their holiday entitlement would be 20 days holiday, plus 8 days bank holidays — 28 days in full
  • Divide this by how many days a full-time employee works (normally 5) giving you 5.6.
  • To calculate how much someone who works 3 days would be entitled to you multiply 5.6 by 3. This equals 16.8 days. I would always recommend rounding up so a person who works 3 days per week is entitled to 17 days leave (including bank holidays) per year.

Why do some part timers feel aggrieved?

It’s all to do with flexibility - and Mondays are especially irksome for a part time employee. If you've ever wondered why a lot of part time employees don't like working on a Monday, I will help you to see why.

It is expected that for every bank holiday which falls on the days they are contracted to work this will be deducted from the overall entitlement.

In 2022, there are 6 bank holidays which fall on a Monday, 2 on a Tuesday, none on a Wednesday.

Therefore, out of the 17-day entitlement, our example employee would have to deduct 8 days automatically to cover those bank holidays which they are contracted to work. This leaves 9 days for them to do with as they wish.

Compare this to someone who works 3 days a week but on a Wednesday, Thursday and a Friday. They work the same number of days but are only contracted to work on 3 of the bank holidays. This would leave them with 14 days for them to do with as they wish.

Exactly the same entitlement just a lot less flexibility if your part timer works on a Monday.

So, how do you explain that it's fair?

The simple answer is there’s no other fair way to do it.

You have to pro rata bank holidays, irrespective of whether or not they fall on the day which the employee normally works.

I hope this helps to explain it but if you are need of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. we are here to remove the headache from any people related problem.

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July 1, 2022

Hire your first employee

When you have a small team or limited resources, every hire counts. Here's some of the best advice for when you're looking to hire your first employee as your small business grows. 

When you have a small team or limited resources, every hire counts. When this is the case, you need to be confident about who you recruit and what you recruit them for. But, with a small team or limited resources, it’s likely that you don’t have a great deal of time to spend on recruiting or vetting potential candidates.

Here’s some of the best advice for when you’re looking to hire your first employee as your small business grows.

11 steps you need to take when you hire your first employee

1. Utilise A Probationary Period

The probationary period will allow both you and your new employee to assess if the role is truly a good fit.  During induction, make your new employee aware of the probationary period from the beginning in order for you to set the expectations and minimise any discord should you later realise it is not working out.

2. Look For Attitude Over Experience

When hiring your first employee, It’s better to recruit someone with some experience and skill, but who has a can-do attitude, rather than an expert in the field who is not very flexible. You want someone who can flow and adapt within your business and who is also capable of wearing many hats, rather than someone who is extremely knowledgeable but not a team player.

3. Find Someone Who Can Fill Multiple Needed Roles

Try to find the right person for the job, but also the person who can fill the most holes. Look for a great employee who can do multiple things—people with a passion for what you do and who really want to be a part of your business family.   If you want to grow your business from within, people with multiple skills are most valuable.

4. Ask For References

Ask for references every single time. Don’t make the mistake of not double-checking and relying “on your gut feelings” when making a hiring decision – it never ends well!  In addition to the references given by the prospective employee, check any mutual connections you may have and ask around to get a feel for their work.

5. Test Their Character And Ability

Once invited for an interview, a candidate is clearly well qualified. Two factors that are extremely important are their character and their ability to do the job better than you.  If the latter is not true, you are not adding much to your business, just filling holes.  As for character, it is the deciding factor between a productive player versus destructive behaviour that can ‘pull down’ your business.

6. Be Proactive

Just like any solid crisis communications strategy, being proactive is paramount. Don’t wait until you need someone to figure out who might be a good fit.  Start today by imagining who you’d love to have on your dream team and start making notes about what you will want them to do.

7. Fill Gaps In Your Knowledge Base

Recruit for roles that fill the gaps in your knowledge base so that you can free up your time to run the business.  Think about your recruitment strategy in terms of “putting yourself out of a “job,” so you can focus on the overall business.

8. Try A Variety Of Ways To Recruit

Free job boards, paid-for ads, ask colleagues, post in social media, use agencies or recruit people  straight out of school/college.   Also get a colleague/business associate to conduct an additional short interview with a potential recruit.  They may see things that you do not.

9. Hire For Values First

Do not hire based on experience and CV alone.   For example, HR Dept has five specific core values in our company that we rate potential recruits against.  Hire the person who fits your values best.   Better to recruit the less experienced or qualified person if they fit the culture better—people first.

10. Focus On Fulfilling Your Highest Need

Recruit someone that fulfills your highest need. For example, if you need an amazing writer to supplement the team, hire the person that you think will execute in that area. However, think through how you might be able to train that person to do the other needs. Training for new skills can be a key asset to your business.

11. Finally, Don’t Forget The Formalities

When recruiting for the first time, you will have duties and obligations as an employer.

So, follow these simple steps…

Your duties and obligations as an employer

Check Your Employee’s Legal Right to Work

You have the responsibility for checking that your new employee: (1)  Has the legal right to work in the United Kingdom and (2)  Meets the requirements of any employment checks necessary for their position.

Apply for Disclosure and Barring Service Check (if applicable)

You may need to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service check if your new staff member will be working in a field that requires this.

Provide Your Employee with a Job Description and Contract

You should provide your new employee with full details of the job and an employment contract.  This information must be in writing.

Pay Your Employee

Your employee must receive no less than the current National Minimum Wage, and be provided with a payslip showing the gross/net amount earned, together with any deductions to their salary.

Obtain Employment Insurance

Ensure you have adequate Public/Employers’ Liability insurance. This helps to cover your business from workplace health and safety claims made by staff members.

Contact HM Revenue and Customs

You must contact HMRC and register as an employer and also submit payroll data to HMRC any time you pay your employees.

Enroll Your Employee In The Workplace Pension Scheme

This is a legal requirement for all employees. 

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June 18, 2022

Business Benefits of Employee Volunteering

Fulfilment, meaning and giving back. Not things many employees would’ve always agreed they got from their roles, unless they worked in the private or public sector.

However, that’s now changing. Increasingly more today than ever before, the younger workforce – Generation Z and millennials – not only want, but expect, their employers to provide workplace environments where they can achieve these things.

The traditional perks of gym memberships, company health plans and bonus schemes are not enough for these two generations. They’re looking for a more rewarding, engaging and meaningful workplace experience.

Aside from just being a ‘good thing to do’, companies that offer paid time-off for volunteering can attract and retain top talent, boost productivity, instil a sense of purpose and meaning in employees, and go some way to improving the employee engagement challenge.

Here’s some of the business benefits.

Improved employee retention

Research by Great Place to Work looked at thousands of employee surveys from companies on its 50 best Workplaces that Give Back list and revealed that workers at these organisations say they’re more likely to stay with their employer for a long time as a result of the company’s voluntary programmes.

“When employees are actively involved in giving back it can lead to a deeper commitment and connection to the work,” explains Elizabeth Stocker, a consultant at Great Place to Work.

Pride in where they work – and increased employer brand awareness

Employees at firms with volunteer days are proud to tell others where they work.

They’ll share with friends and family about their paid-time off to volunteer, even posting on social media about their volunteering activity.

All of which further enhances the organisation’s status in the community and raises the profile of the business, particularly amongst prospective employees.

Increased employee empowerment

Having a charity or cause that your company donates to, will certainly go some way to meeting Gen Z and millennials’ need for your business to do social good, but companies that go one step further than just donating, by providing employees with actual opportunities to volunteer get even better payback.

By letting employees guide charitable efforts and get hands-on with volunteering, even choosing where and when to volunteer, makes them feel empowered.

It creates high levels of commitment and pride among workers and their teams.

Stronger, more connected teams

When whole teams participate in a worthwhile activity for a good cause, even just for a day, a sense of teamwork is fostered.

Pulling together for a common goal, especially when it’s for a charity or community project, enables employees to bond and support each other.

Once built, this sense of teamwork can continue back in the workplace with a renewed sense of commitment to one another.

New skills

Volunteering projects can enable employees to learn and develop new skills.

Off-site projects with charitable organisations can open up a whole new skill-set for an employee, enabling them to try things they’ve never experienced before.

Learning a new skill adds to a person’s sense of worth, can boost their motivation, make them feel valuable and positively affect their overall wellbeing.

The ability to uncover future leaders

Company volunteer programmes can also be a great way for managers to see which team members might make future business leaders.

A team volunteering day can be an ideal environment to discover who has a natural aptitude for leading and should be put on a fast-track management programme, or which members of staff might be in line for promotion when it comes to succession planning.

Happier, healthier staff

Companies who offer volunteering days or schemes report a reduction in sick leave as employees want to work for a company that values them and gives back.

They feel more satisfied, motivated, so staff morale is higher.

Time to cultivate a sense of purpose?

As the ratio of Gen Z and millennial workers increases, companies will find it increasingly difficult to differentiate through the traditional perks of fancy offices, high salaries and health plans.

Those that align to the values of the new working majority – who place a greater emphasis on their personal time, flexibility and making a difference in the world – will attract the best minds and do the best work.

And this will ultimately have an impact on their organisation’s bottom line.You will also find that if your organisation is promoting working from home, or hybrid working, then having an ethos of encouraging volunteer days and projects, will help with team working and interaction between employees

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June 8, 2022

Tips For Choosing The Best Conference Venue

When it comes to planning your next conference, the venue you choose is key.

Searching for that perfect conference venue can be tricky, and it is important you weigh up the pros and cons of each venue carefully before deciding where to spend your venue budget. 

We have put together our top 5 considerations when choosing your next conference venue and why they are important.

1. The Location

The first thing you will want to consider when it comes to choosing your conference venue is the location you would like to host your conference. Location can be broken down into two categories. Firstly, the distance away from the office in terms of the commute time. How far are you willing to travel for your conference? Are you wanting to keep it local or are you happy travelling further afield? And remember to check your venue has excellent transportation links and parking facilities to suit! 

Secondly you will want to consider the surroundings of the venue. Are you looking for a hushed retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the city or are you wanting for a more central location? If the aim is to escape the city, then do not forget to check your venue has enough on-site accommodation if required or some suggestions of hotels within the area. 

2. The Style

This is a bigger factor then most initially realise when planning a conference. How do you want your conference to feel? What is the vibe you want your attendees to enjoy from the moment they arrive in the car park. While the speakers and your conference content are obviously vital selling points so is your venue! A quirky, unusual and knock out venue will be a big draw. Did you know venues with a lot of history will give your conference a feeling of substance and authority?

3. The Facilities

You can have the most beautiful venue in the best location but if it does not have the excellent facilities you require to make your conference a success then it simply will not work. Write a list of everything you know your conference venue needs to have. That could be super-fast Wi-Fi, to a downstairs accessible restroom. Do you need to have tech support and full AV equipment? Check with your preferred venue that they have everything you need to ensure the smooth running of your event before booking. 

4. The Catering

Conference refreshments are core to ensuring your delegates feel looked after during the event. Regular intervals for re-fuelling are important to keep energy high. Make sure your venue can provide a variety of food and drink and to suit your catering budget. Ask for sample menus and of course ensure they can cater for a wide variety of dietary requirements and seasonal preferences.

5. The Cost 

And last but by no means least you need to ensure your conference venue fits within your venue budget. Make sure the venue offers price flexibility such as pricing tiers or packages. You can also check whether a venue offers an all-inclusive hire rate or if they offer more price-friendly, digestible options. Also, as with anything check the T&Cs and make sure there are no hidden extras!

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May 13, 2022

Mental Health Awareness

We've all been guilty at some point of doubting someone offering 'feeling down' or 'stressed' as a reason for failing to live up to what we expected of them. If you're an employer with tight deadlines, you might find it easier to understand a broken limb than a broken heart. But the truth is that mental illness is real, debilitating and something that almost everyone will have to contend with in one way or another.

Luckily, mental health is finally becoming acknowledged as mainstream health problem. After many years where it was rarely spoken about and little understood, high-profile campaigns and frank admissions by public figures have made it a talking point.

For business owners, it's worth reflecting on some facts. People with good mental health tend to be more productive, interact better with their colleagues and are more likely to contribute positively to the workplace.

By contrast, those struggling with poor mental health are more likely to get into conflict with colleagues, find it harder to juggle multiple tasks, struggle to concentrate and can be less patient with customers or clients.

The really bad news is 1 in 4 of us will be affected by these issues in our life. That makes it important for you to understand the nature of mental illness and have some tools in your kitbag to deal with it if it becomes a problem in your workplace.

The Stevenson/Farmer review into mental health suggested actions that businesses can take to support their employees, including the following:

  • Produce a mental health at work plan to give structure and a point of reference for employees so they know where to turn if their mental health is a problem.
  • Develop awareness among employees themselves by delivering training.
  • Encourage open conversations so that employees feel able to express their concerns
  • Provide good working conditions so that people with mental health troubles aren't placed under undue pressures that could make things worse

But, what these recommendations don't really equip you for are the realities of life. Eventually you might have to have a difficult conversation with an employee about their mental health. You might have to offer support, counselling, and deal with underperformance and absence as a result.

And that's where we are happy to step in, we can deliver training and coaching to managers and businesses looking to improve their understanding of mental health and their means of dealing with it.

We'd be delighted to help your business deal with this tricky subject - and remember we are only a phone call away.

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May 1, 2022

Do I need to think about HR?

The role of HR in a business and the value it adds is sometimes misunderstood! 

We see that there are two sides to HR, results-oriented, strategy focused leadership and management of people, (People Operations) and the Legal, ethical and structural organisation of employees and teams (HR).  

The basics

Unless you're a sole trader, you employ at least a few people - maybe dozens or even hundreds. And you owe those people a certain duty of care. 

At its most basic, that means making sure that everyone knows:

  • What their job entails
  • How you will be monitoring their performance
  • What the company rules are
  • What will happen if they break the company rules or fall below expectations in performance
  • What will happen if they have a complaint against someone else in the company
  • What entitlements they have such as holidays, sickness etc

For most companies, this is all imparted to employees in the form of a company handbook. A lot of businesses don't actually have all their rules collated anywhere, leaving managers and employees alike in a state of uncertainty when something goes wrong.

Unless there are clear guidelines in place, small matters can spiral out of hand and you could lose a good employee, or find yourself in a tricky situation which can be expensive and time consuming. Or, you might find yourself with a team member who is not the right fit but it is difficult to manage them out of the business.

A human resources consultant (like Edelweiss HR) will sort all that out for you in the form of a company handbook. That sets the bar for everyone's behaviour - which in turn is the basic level of forming a company culture. Company values can also be included to help everyone understand how you want your business run.

Not everything is plain sailing...

In the last two years the work place has changed as have attitudes to work and how teams and individuals perform best. 

There is a new challenge as we adapt to balancing working from home and returning to the office.

Plenty of people feel happy to manage all kinds of situations themselves, but asking difficult questions is... well... difficult. So this is where an HR professional could work with you. Although HR is sometimes seen as an ally of management (by disgruntled employees in particular) what we try to do is find a solution to a variety of situations that works for everyone. It may be that the person is suffering outside of work, or feels intimidated or harassed by a colleague so it is in everyone's interest to get to the truth and find something that works. That could range from sorting out a staged return to work, liaising with medical professionals, or disciplining the person.

Now I can see from here that you are very smart and capable, but even if you are smart and capable and willing to deal with this kind of thing on your own, you have to make sure you're operating within the letter of the law.

Many companies use a solicitor to try to mitigate against that - and there's nothing wrong with that. But...

  1. Solicitors are very expensive
  2. Solicitors are good when you're in a legal situation, but aren't always in a place to try and resolve matters before they reach that stage.
  3. This isn’t the most personal approach for your employees

In a way then, you might want to think of HR as a buffer' between you and potentially expensive legal situations. Dot the I's and cross the T's and you significantly reduce your chance of exposure to legal action.

The nicer things

The People Operations side of HR can also help you to make a happier workplace. 

We believe that by establishing the right company culture and values teams work better, more effectively and less problems arise.

We think creatively about how to rewards excellence.

It could be in the form of structured bonuses paid on the achievement of certain targets. Or it could be that you have a generous holiday entitlement. Or, increasingly, things like in-office perks such as flexible working hours, or away days to build team morale.

Again, perhaps you might be thinking: "well I could do that myself!" and you could be right - but like a lot of things in business, you might consider delegating the introduction and management of these things to either someone in the business, or an external consultant, you can then focus on other areas to grow your business.

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April 10, 2022

Taking holidays as a business owner

We are all so very busy running our businesses, we look after our employees, but how many of us forget to look after ourselves! Maybe time to take a little break, and here’s a few tips to help you get away!

We always recommend to our clients to make sure that their people are taking their holidays – but how many of us remember to do this ourselves! Taking time away from your business to refresh and decompress is so important, but too many entrepreneurs find it difficult to do so. In that spirit, we would like to share some tips for taking time away from your business. 

1. Conduct a Trial Run!

Let the person who will be in charge while you’re away practice while you’re still around. Do this first on a typical slow day for the business, then again on a more rigorous day. And, if you have a limited customer base, let them know up-front about your planned vacation and communicate your operational plan that will be in place while you are out. It’s important that everyone, especially your customers, are comfortable with you being away!

2. Leave Work at Work

Being dedicated to your career often means working when duty calls. However, it's crucial to take time away, turn off the email notifications and step away from your technology. Before vacation, create an efficient schedule, compartmentalize your tasks and set up a back-up plan for how problems will be solved in your absence. The week prior to your time off, ensure that you accomplish what must be done and then, leave your work at work and enjoy the (much deserved) mental break.

3. Add a Week

Just in your diary, try to avoid having meetings scheduled a few days before and after your holiday, tacking on a few days to the start and end of your vacation is a great way to manage your time away, firstly in case of business fires or travel emergencies, but secondly you can keep up by working from home for those last minute requests and get back up to speed at home before clocking back into the office. 

4. Don't Hide Your Vacation

Many business owners are embarrassed to say that they're taking a vacation. But, if you don't tell your clients, then they will reach out to you and you'll feel compelled to answer every email, text and phone call. Tell your clients a couple weeks before your trip and try to finalize any outstanding tasks. They have the rest of the team at their disposal, assure them that they are in good hands. Prepare your team by having a meeting before you leave and ensure that they are on the same page. 


5. Build a Strong Team

The key is to have a strong team in place that you can count on when you are away. It is difficult to take a vacation if you don’t trust your team to handle the job. Instil confidence in your managers to make a decision without holding their hand. Ensure that your team is well-equipped to handle anything that is thrown their way.


6 Reasonable Staff Expectations

Every small business owner needs some time away, but the stress of being on vacation can be even more taxing than the daily management of the company.

To get your staff ready, set reasonable expectations for your absence. No one is going to be able to fully cover for you, so only delegate the most critical details and let your staff keep their routines consistent. The reasonable expectations extend to you as well; acknowledge that small things might get missed and accept it, rather than dwell.


7. Stop Doing What You Hate

Identify the top 3 tasks you HATE doing within your business and find a way to either remove the need for those tasks or outsource them to someone else. Not only will it free up more of your time (making it easier to take time off for vacation), but tasks you detest drain you of more than just time. Removing them will help you find more of the fun and fulfilment within your business. Forgot what those feel like? Get rid of some of those nasty tasks and rediscover the joys of entrepreneurship.

Hopefully these tips will help you take a break, even if just a few days and re-charge your batteries

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March 10, 2022

Starting a business

You have a business idea, you love what you do, can you create a business? You are enjoying what you are doing, and you do it for fun, so how do you turn it into a successful business?

Whether you are a creative who wants to make a living from your art, it’s easy to see yourself as having a hobby that earns you a bit of money, and not as running a business. You are enjoying what you are doing, and you do it for fun, so how do you turn it into a successful business?

Small business owners love what they do and have a real passion for why they do it, after all, that’s why they got into their business in the first place. The creative industries are no different to any other industry!

How do I start a business?

To make a business work you need to have passion and that’s exactly what you have with your chosen idea. If you’re ready to take it to the next level and start making a living from it, then you will need to get prepared and know what to expect.

Make a solid plan

There is a lot to think about when starting a business.

The first thing to do is make a plan. To help you on your way, you can join local networking groups which are invaluable sources of information.

The people you meet in these groups, can help you to source suppliers, premises, and equipment, they will be able to advise on potential stockists for your products, give you advice on how you can make a profit from your idea, and how to incorporate multiple revenue streams to give yourself added security.

Advertising your products

Once you have identified exactly what you would like to offer through your business, and how your business will operate, you can start creating your brand.

Sites like Canva are great to help you with your branding, you can sign up for free and create collateral like logos, flyers, stationery, social media graphics, and a whole host of other items to promote your brand.

How should I set my pricing?

Pricing the items that you make can be extremely tough and is one of the hardest parts of creating to sell. There are many different methods to work out your retail price.

One way to do this is to consider your costs. You’ll need to work out how much the materials have cost you to make the item, how long it will take you to create the item, how much postage and packaging will cost (if applicable), and finally add the profit you need to make on each item, and this will be what you charge for your items.

Materials + time taken + P&P + profit = chargeable amount

It’s helpful to do some research and see what others sell their products for, as this will help you to gauge what the market is like, and the value customers see in similar products. It is worth remembering that not all local businesses will be trying to make a large profit, some may just do it for the love of it and sell their wares at cost price so if you are researching other prices, it is worth bearing this in mind.

How do I succeed ?

If you want to make a living from your ideas, then you will need to learn how to market your innovative and creative ideas effectively. A good way to do this is by taking advantage of digital marketing tools.

Always consider your target audience first. Who are they and how can you reach them? Digital marketing tools such as Pinterest and Instagram can be great for promoting very visual and creative ventures. It is important to remember that Pinterest is a search engine and not a social media platform.

With Pinterest, you do not need to worry about building an audience or gaining followers, it is far better to spend your energy creating high-quality content that drives people to the destination you want them to go to. That destination could be your own website, an Etsy store, an eBay store, or a Facebook page, wherever your online home is where you want to send people.

Both Etsy and eBay have a wealth of information on their sites showing you how to go about selling on them.

Instagram on the other hand is a social media platform, so you will need to spend time building an audience and engaging with them in order to get your creations seen and ultimately make sales.

Training on how to use social media

If you don’t know where to start with these platforms, then have a look on YouTube or Google for guides to help you get to grips with the basics. You could even search on Facebook as small social media based companies often run free training sessions. 

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February 10, 2022

Ideas for business owners to unwind

As a new business owner, it can be really tricky to switch off and take a proper break. Here are 8 ways to unwind over the Christmas period, whether you're still at work or have bagged some days off...

It can be difficult to unwind as a business owner. It can feel like you’re ‘on the clock’ 24/7 as emails are coming through and tasks build up. While you’re in the habit of being responsive, helpful, and efficient for your customers or clients, it can be really tricky to engage your brain in switching off to take a proper break. But you deserve time to relax at this special time of year. So, here are 8 ways to unwind over the Christmas period, birthdays, holidays, or when you just need some time to yourself.

Plan in coffee breaks to break up your day

If you have time set aside for breaks ahead of starting your day, you’re much more likely to stick to them. Taking breaks from your work improves your efficiency, helps you concentrate, allows your body to stretch and move, and is much better for your general wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be for long, but taking time away from your computer gives you a chance to slow down.

Get your out of office on

Even if you are checking your emails throughout the festive period, it takes the pressure off you from being responsive to all emails you receive. There will be some urgent ones, but there will also be many that can absolutely wait until you’re back ‘in the office’. Taking away the expectation for you to respond takes the stress away.

Don’t set your alarm

One of the best things about the holidays! During your time off, you don’t need to stick to the schedule you’re used to on your normal working days. Give yourself at least one day where your body naturally wakes up. This gives you the chance to appreciate the start of the day, without the usual morning rush.

Take a break from your phone

It’s so easy to take a look at your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning. And it’s also easy to pick your phone up at every quiet moment. But it’s incredible the amount of time you lose browsing the web and scrolling through social media! We don’t realise it, but being on your phone all the time can increase feelings of stress and anxiety. So, if you can, set aside a certain amount of hours per day where your phone is out of bounds.

Spend time in nature

This really is one of the BEST things you can do. Nature is healing – it’s impossible to feel stressed while walking through the beautiful scenery we have here in the Cotswolds! Spending time in nature lowers blood pressure and lowers stress hormones. We are lucky to have so many stunning places to spend time outside.

Make a list

Making a list at the end of the week acts like a ‘brain dump’, so you no longer have that mental load. It takes the pressure away from needing to remember what you have to do at the start of the next week, so you can completely switch off for the weekend.

Cook a new recipe

Many people find cooking quite soothing in itself, but there’s nothing more satisfying than trying a brand new recipe and pulling it off. Focusing on a task like this is a type of mindfulness activity where your other worries and concerns get pushed to one side.

Pet therapy

It is scientifically proven that spending time with animals lowers stress levels and improves mental health. If you don’t have a pet, meet up with family and friends for dog walks. Give them a message now to set a time in the diary.

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February 10, 2022

Hiring Remotely

As a job seeker, we understand you’re stepping out of your comfort zone during these unprecedented times. To put your best foot forward, here’s what you need to know about the remote hiring process.

Multiple interviews are common 

As face-to-face interaction is temporarily missing, recruiters may invest more time into multiple interviews. Don’t be afraid to ask what the process will entail ahead of an interview and it’s well worth familiarising yourself with some of the main platforms - such as Skype, Zoom and BlueJeans. 

Communication is top priority

Having the ability to communicate effectively has always been a critical skill in the workplace, but more than ever hiring managers will be seeking specific examples. Highlight your proactive nature and actively show an interest in integrating into the team. 

The “culture” component will crop up early on

With most people working remotely at the moment, hiring managers will be keen to introduce you to the wider team, remotely of course, to better understand if you mesh well. Stay positive, smile and have some questions at the ready. 

The process may be longer than usual 

With potentially smaller teams processing applications and multiple stages in the hiring process, a final decision may take a little longer than usual. Be patient and don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email to show your enthusiasm if you haven’t had a response in a week or so. 

Remember, it’s a two-way street 

As always, an interview is a give and take process. It could be easy to lose sight of your own voice during the remote hiring process but make sure you reflect on your own needs too. Ask questions that reflect your goals and priorities if they are necessary to you. 

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January 15, 2022

Social Media Content Ideas

Regular posting on social media helps your business to stay at the forefront of the minds of your audience. But thinking of new post ideas can be difficult when you have so much else to be doing in your business. Here are some great ways to keep those post ideas flowing, and save you time, too!

Having a social media presence is becoming more and more important for businesses, especially during recent times when it has been one of the very few ways to keep in touch with existing customers and clients and to get seen by potential new ones. Regular posting helps your business to stay at the forefront of the minds of your audience. But thinking of new post ideas can be difficult when you have so much else to be doing in your business. Here are some great ways to keep those post ideas flowing, and save you time, too!

What makes you stop the scroll?

Think about the types of posts that make you stop scrolling and pay attention when you are on social media. Look at your favourite brands and businesses and take inspiration from them for your own business.

Look for posts that make you smile, make you remember that brand/business, or invoke a feeling or reaction.

Do not just copy their posts but think about the topics and elements of their posts that you like and use these as a starting point for your own posts.

What does your audience want?

Ask them! Do some market research and find out exactly what your ideal audience want to see on your social media platforms. You can create social media posts asking questions and encouraging feedback within the comments (so that’s another few posts right there!), you could hold a poll in a Facebook group, send out a questionnaire to existing customers and your email list, and even ask family and friends what they would like to know about your business or industry.

Once you have gathered some answers you can create posts about these. Not only does this save you time struggling to think up ideas and getting frustrated, but it is also relevant content that your audience will love and likely engage with. Win!

Educate your audience

We all like to learn new things, don’t we? Your social media audience is made up of people who are already interested in your business, your products and services, and you, so it stands to reason that they would love to learn more about all of the above. Serving them content that interests them and teaches them a little something will keep them coming back for more. You are an expert in your field, embrace it and share it.

Create posts that educate people about;

  • Your business – how it started, how it has evolved, what your future plans are.
  • Your industry – industry news, the history of it, interesting facts.
  • Your products – how they are made, what they are made of, the benefits of them, why you chose them to be a product you sell.
  • Your services – how they work, the customer journey, why you offer them.
  • Top tips and how-to guides.
  • Important dates for your business and industry, look at National days too.

Giving value to your audience is a fantastic way to build their confidence in you, to show them you know your stuff and that you are there for them, to help them. Again, think of businesses that have made you feel this way about them and start earning that trust from your followers.

User-generated content

User-generated content is any form of content that has been created by your customers, clients, or audience online. This can be in the form of a review they leave on your pages, a picture or video they post with your products or a blog or article they have written that mentions your business. This is absolute gold because it serves as social proof for your business AND it is content that you can easily share to your social media.

Encourage your audience to leave you reviews, send you feedback, post pictures of your products in use, tag you in their content and post about how your service has helped them. Remember that they are already your fans and will want to support you, so let them know how this will all help your business.

Behind the scenes

It’s exciting to peek behind the scenes and see the ‘real’ things that make us human. Give your audience a glimpse of what it looks and feels like inside your business. Show them where you work, the tools you use, work in progress, or your walk to work.

Remember the people behind the business too. We like to know who we are buying from, it helps to build that important know, like and trust factor. Introduce yourself and your team if you have one and give an insight into your personality. You don’t have to give too much away and never feel like you have to post something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Imagine you are in your shop/premises or are having a face-to-face conversation with your customers. What kinds of things to do talk about? How much would you feel comfortable sharing?

Share the love

How great does it feel when someone shares one of your posts or creates their own post about your business and puts you in front of their audience? It feels fantastic, so let’s keep that feeling going and do it for others. You can post about suppliers you use, businesses you collaborate with, businesses you have used and would recommend to others, businesses you would like to work with, businesses that inspire you and businesses local to you.

There is a real sense of community amongst small business owners, we love to support each other where we can, and this is an amazing and free way we can do it. More often than not, when you do this regularly, other businesses will start sharing your content and shouting about you too, so everyone wins.

As well as all of the ideas above, you’ll need to create promotional posts for your products and services. For each one, ask who, what, when, where, why and how questions, and answer these in your posts. Remember that you can use many of these posts more than once too, some of them can become regular posts. Not all of your audience will see your content the first time it is published, and you gain new followers constantly, so don’t be afraid to reuse, repurpose and recycle non-time-sensitive posts.

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January 10, 2022

Does your business have relevance and value?

There’s no doubt that most of us in business have found the last few years a challenge. So why do some businesses thrive, and others struggle to survive? Here are the steps you need to take to ensure your business is still relevant in 2022.

There’s no doubt that most of us in business have found the last few years a challenge.

March 2020 saw the UK enter its first ‘Lockdown’ in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the country as a whole. Roll on the best part of 2 years, and we’re still very much in the thick of it.

How has the pandemic affected businesses?

As a Business Growth and Strategy Coach who works with businesses of all shapes and sizes in all sorts of sectors, I observe first-hand the impact that the pandemic has had and continues to have on ‘business as normal’ and the huge change forced on business owners attempting to steady their ships, keep their people safe, service their customers well, and of course, make some money on the way.

Many businesses have folded. Many struggle on, hoping for a return to a known sense of normality and the chance to bounce back to a previous level of success.

I’ve seen many capable business leaders struggle to stay positive under such testing conditions and lose their way. Equally, I’ve seen people of similar skill and character move forwards as successfully as normal and make the most of the conditions they find around them.

So why do some businesses thrive, and others struggle to survive?

Business life is typically hard enough under normal circumstances. Factor in a global pandemic and the need to be open-minded to change/adaptation is the essential ingredient.

With so much disruption and uncertainty in the world, how do you as a business owner, or someone about to start one, move your business or business idea forwards in such extreme conditions?

How you can make your business relevant in 2022

Ask yourself this question. “Is your business currently relevant and does it add value?”

I want you to get curious about your business as a whole: Customers, Products/Services, Technology, Processes, Suppliers – all the moving parts.

This question will force you to ask a few more questions.

  1. Who is your ideal target customer?
  1. What do they value in a supplier like you and what more could you sell them? If you’re not sure if there is anything more you can do for them, ask them!
  1. Are there new gaps in the market that are ready for you to exploit?
  1. What industries are you in? Are there any that you should be in now?
  1. What innovations do you need to embrace to move your business to a more relevant and capable place?
  1. What products and services should you be offering and what should you stop offering (because they’re no longer of value to anyone)?
  1. Look at your Customer List – are you still attracting the right customers for the right reasons?
  1. When did you last do a review of your products and services to see if they are as good as they could be?
  1. With advances in technology and digital connection as a result of the pandemic, are there ways you could use these technological advances to add value to your customers/increase profitability?
  1. Operations and Processes – Is the way you currently operate in your business still as efficient as it could be? Take the Zoom and Teams meeting tools as an example. I’ve seen businesses use them alongside face-to-face activities to significantly increase levels of profitability, time efficiency, and customer experience. Could you be one of these businesses and do just that?

There is opportunity in change

Periods of rapid change like the one we are in now will bend and alter the working environments in which we operate. There will be adversity, but equally, there will be plenty of opportunity if we’re open to spotting it and agile enough to capitalise on what’s possible.

In business it’s important we react to the changing conditions and stay relevant to someone that values what we do.

These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself on a regular basis. If you do, I’m certain you’ll spot opportunities to make your business more relevant, engaged, and ultimately profitable.

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January 10, 2022

What Business growth is important

Growth can enable a company to overtake its competition and become the dominant player in the market. However, it is important that growth is controlled to ensure the business remains profitable and trading.

Growth is important for businesses to enable them to flourish and be successful. Business growth, if successfully managed, has many advantages. These could be increased profits, a larger customer base – potentially giving the company more security as they are not dependent upon just a few customers, and cost savings. With growth come economies of scale and a company can potentially buy more cheaply because they are buying in greater quantities.

With growth may come diversification either in terms of markets, products, or services and this too can be beneficial for business.

Growth can enable a company to overtake its competition and become the dominant player in the market. However, it is important that growth is controlled and done at a pace that enables the business to remain profitable and trading successfully.

A good plan ensures control over your business growth

Business growth must be planned in advance of taking any steps which might impact the business in a negative way.  Growth must be controlled so the business does not grow so quickly that the costs of expansion overtake the revenue coming into the business leaving it struggling to pay its creditors.

Business owners who do not understand the components of a strategy that correctly aligns their strategy to their business goals are likely to fail and therefore it is vital to plan growth carefully from the outset. Therefore, to enable successful growth, it is important to return to some familiar business planning tools to ensure the growth of a business runs as smoothly as possible.

How to plan your business growth strategy

Stephen Covey’s well-known words ‘begin with the end in mind’ sum up what each business owner should consider when planning their strategy. You should consider why you are doing your business, what is important to you about it and where do you want to get with your business i.e. business purpose.

Planning business milestones will help to turn any exit plan and vision into reality, by providing a road map for the future – a business strategy.

Take a timeline of say 5 years and broadly think about where you want to be with your business in that time. Then consider where you wish to be in 3 years’ time, 2 years’ time, 6 months, and then where you are now.   To get you from now to 5 years’ time, it is more than likely you will wish/need to grow.

Your sales goals need to be aligned with the longer-term business goals and need to be relevant and achievable. The best practice is to continually review the relevance of its operations in the context of the external business environment and amend its plan where appropriate.  Business growth can also happen in different areas of the business e.g. visualize how you might achieve your growth in terms of people, finance, location, diversification, new markets, etc.

What is your business objective?

Consider what your overall objective is for the business and how well the current structure of the company supports this. Which areas work well and which areas do not support the business objective? How could this be improved? Set up a structure that supports your ultimate goal and document this! Set targets and milestones for each area of the business towards your overall objective.  Have checks and balances in place to enable you to trace progress against any targets you may have set.

How can you grow your business?

There are different ways of growing the business. You could grow it organically through the business’s own resources by increasing sales, taking on new customers, new product lines, a new geographical area, different sales channels, generating greater volume through bigger markets, and customers.

Other ways of growing the business may require outside support and the company may choose to take on a loan, business grant, asset finance, crowdfunding, or the numerous other ways that may be considered to support the growth of the business. With this comes an element of risk and this must always be taken into consideration and balanced against your ultimate goals for the business.

It is always important to monitor the finances and look at forecasts and cash flow. This is especially important in the recent times we have been living with Covid. Considering business risk, as well as opportunity, is key, and being able to respond quickly to any changes in circumstance and monitor this is very important.  Plan your capacity and do not overstretch.

What skills do you need to grow your business?

Growth can be a challenge for a business but it can also be extremely exciting. Business growth can come with new skill requirements – for example taking on your first employee. It will be important to consider competition which you may not have had to consider before.  As you successfully grow, competitors will notice and watch you, so you too must do this.  It will be important to ensure you are equipped with the new skill sets required for growth.

With successful growth also comes confidence. However, growth is hard work too and it will be important that as you take on new roles that you make sure you continue to consider yourself, your well-being and make time for you.  Don’t underestimate the new challenges!  Seek out as much help and support as possible, as you undertake this exciting new challenge.  Start and Grow Enterprise is the ideal place to seek such support – where experienced mentors, coaches, and advisors are on hand to enable you to navigate this exciting new pathway.

What are the benefits of growing your business?

Expanding your target market, products, operations or location comes with an element of risk but if your competitors are changing then it may be that you must too.  Lifecycle and market demand should be taken into consideration when looking to grow the business.

Once on the path to growth, the advantages can be huge. There is the opportunity for differentiation and the potential opportunity to move into new markets. You will be spreading your risk, but always balancing this against the costs of doing this and considering if you are moving into new markets with a new product how this might affect your brand identity. Depending on the type of business you are in, growth through innovation will potentially lead to stronger brand identity.

How can you ensure successful business growth?

With growth, if managed successfully, can come stability, offering more peace of mind for the business owner.  The perception of the company, as it expands and grows, will also potentially be seen within the marketplace as one that is succeeding as it is expanding.

However, a word of caution must be voiced here. The outward perception may not always reflect reality and this is where the importance of controlled, planned and well-managed growth is key. Not taking on debts that the company cannot serve and not stretching itself to such an extent that it overtrades, which is why it is critical to monitor the impact on the financials at every stage of growth.

Managing risk

Growth can spread your risk and decrease dependency upon one particular customer or market. If managed well, your profits will increase. Successful companies attract better people. However, caution must always be exercised throughout the growth period. Risks and opportunities must be monitored to avoid any drops in quality as you expand. As a business owner as you grow, you may lose the tight hands-on control that you once had on every area of your business, so this must be borne in mind.

Financial planning

Above all, as you grow, financial planning remains a key requirement. Embrace the opportunity to grow, but at the same time ensure you understand the reasons why you are growing – where possible to increase stability and reduce risk rather than inviting in risks that are too great. At all times, understand your business, your market, and any current threats and opportunities. Planning and monitoring in all areas of your business are key to successful growth as well as having the ability to react quickly when unanticipated change happens.

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January 10, 2022
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