Tag: Entrepreneurship

Support for Small Business From Federation of Small Businesses UK

Support for Small Business From Federation of Small Businesses UK

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is the largest organisation that actively campaigns on behalf of the millions of small owner-managed organisations across Britain.

Membership of this non-profit organisation is only open to business owners who are actively involved in running their own commercial operations, whether as a sole trader, partnership or limited company. Set up in the mid-1970s the FSB had grown to over 213,000 members by mid-2010.

Every member of the FSB is entitled to a number of direct benefits, such as free services or discounts. They are also supporting a body who lobby central and local government on their behalf.

Benefits Available to FSB Members

The FSB operates through over 200 branches spread across the UK. Those joining the FSB are automatically assigned to a branch based on their geography, although they are free to get involved other other branches if they choose to.

The FSB offers its members networking opportunities through a schedule of events, such as breakfast meetings, presentations on specific subjects, and annual celebrations. They also get involved in local event, providing a focal point for business owners.

In addition to networking, the FSB operates a members’ directory on its website. The directory can be searched by anyone looking for a specific business, even if they are not a member themselves.

Anyone taking out or renewing annual membership of the FSB also enjoys a number of other advantages. Owners of small businesses in the UK have to comply with a wide regal of legal and bureaucratic requirements and the FSB helps by offering legal support for free. They provide a wide range of documents online, in the members only section of their website, and they also operate a telephone advice service that is available 24 hours a day all year round.

Another significant benefits to members is support for those with serious health conditions. Membership of the FSB includes entitlement to access to a personal nurse advisor. These provide practical advice, emotional support and can help organise appropriate therapy.

How the FSB Promotes Small Business Success

As the UK’s leading business organisation the FSB are active in promoting the interests of small enterprises. They sponsor Celebrate Success, annual awards made by The Prince’s Trust in recognition of the efforts of young people in their local community.

The FSB also lobbies government on issues that affect the small business community. One significant achievement was the establishment of a partnership with the UK government to enable students to gain work experience through subsidised internships.

Local government is encouraged to use small businesses and to sign the FSB’s Small Business Engagement Accord, demonstrating their support for local firms.

The Federation of Small Businesses is a not-for-profit organisation that exists solely for the benefit of its members. It helps the millions of tiny businesses in the UK to have a voice at national level and to access many of the benefits more easily available to major organisations.

Barriers to Starting a Small Business: Obstacles Holding Back the Entrepreneur

Barriers to Starting a Small Business

Inherently, business is risky. Often, fear is the sole factor that holds back small business owners from pursuing dreams and mighty plans. If they’ve been reluctant to go on their own, it’s time to consider some of these obstacles that block their path, along with practical solutions to get past them.

Feeling Overwhelmed

Some people are overwhelmed by their new business idea thinking they’ll have to go for it all at once and there are too many things to do. The big picture should be broken into manageable tasks. For those currently employed, they need to hold on to their jobs, slowly scale down to a part-time job or as a contract worker, get the feel of more flexibility in schedule. Some small business owners enlist their skills to create multiple sources in income as they build their business.

Focus on the Negative

As long as the potentials of the new business ideas have been studied and researched, plans should not be blocked. People who dampen enthusiasm unnecessarily should be avoided. Instead, those who encourage and offer support should be seek out, for example, some business owners may want to share their success story.

Insecurity in Product and Service

The nagging feeling that the product and service in mind may not work can be daunting. When this happens, waters can be tested by conducting a pilot test to solicit feedback. Since this is a test, it is done freely. Honest feedback is solicited from the participants of the test.

Lack of Money and Time

A solid business plan is necessary. Focus is how to get more time and space for the new business. Unnecessary things, pending obligations, toxic relationships and unhealthy habits should be taken out of the way. As regards any money matter, a plan is worked out to reduce unnecessary personal spending to give way to business needs.

Lack of Business Management and Technical Competence

Established small business owners are good sources of information. Online research and local libraries are handy resources that should be used. Topics include how to start a small business, writing business plans, small business marketing, new business ideas and easy to follow software programs. It is important to create a business plan. It doesn’t have to be too complicated at the start. As knowledge builds up, so does confidence.

Loss of Benefits

Leaving the corporate world to start a small business is daunting as one loses a safety net. It is easier for a younger and healthy worker to give-up health benefits. For older start-up entrepreneurs, health benefits remain a major concern. Certain options like health savings is a good one.

Lack of Support from Family and Friends

Without the support of family and friends, going solo is a challenge. Business plans must be properly explained. Usually, family and friends are supportive once the new business ideas are properly explained.

Fear of Isolation

Going solo isolates. It is a concern to some people, most especially those who plan to work from home. The solution is to build a network. Time should be set aside to connect with other business owners, as well as friends, former colleagues and any potential person. The network is a source of support, advice and information.

Once these barriers are addressed accordingly, a good feeling develops and renewed confidence sets in. With commitment, dedication and guts, it’s just a matter of time when the small business owner or entrepreneur takes the plunge.

A Simple System for Small Business Marketing: Duct Tape Marketing’s System Ideal for Solopreneurs, Startups

A Simple System for Small Business Marketing

John Jantsch named his book Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide because his ideas promise to be as effective (sticky), simple, and affordable as duct tape. The fact that so much of the book is devoted to explaining the name suggests that, like Neil “No Compromise Leadership” Ducoff, that it wasn’t the best moniker for the concept. However, the ideas Jantsch has to offer are clear and simple, have methods built in to test their effectiveness, and can be used by businesses of any size.

Elements of the Duct Tape Marketing System

The book recognizes that most businesses do not have the resources for expensive branding campaigns, and posits that these are not terribly effective. Instead, Jantsch encourages readers to identify the ideal client based upon various factors, and develop marketing strategies that target those prospects with laser-focus. This long tail marketing requires that a business owner clearly articulate his company’s purpose, and otherwise includes:

  • Educational marketing through blogging, article writing, and developing an expert reputation;
  • Advertising that invites ideal prospects to respond for more information;
  • A “Systematic Referral Machine” to capitalize on referral marketing; and
  • Tips for implementing this marketing plan

Jantsch covers questions about cultivating relationships with journalists to become an information source, strategies for using a blog to educate and entice ideal prospects, and writing advertising copy that gets responses.

Testing Marketing Ideas and Tracking Results

One point the book hammers home is the value of testing and tracking in all marketing efforts. Any advertisement, blog post, news release, podcast, or article should include a call to action (“click here for a special report on weasel breeding”) and a trackable way to receive responses. If the offer is on the web, a unique response link should be included. Similarly, an ad with a phone number should use a number or extension that can be used to track responses to a specific offer. The same can be said of mail responses (no need for a separate address; add a “Attn: Offer XYZ” to the mailing information). The emphasis on tracking results so that different wording and media can be tested against one another is the most important lesson that this book has to offer. Its mastery will set any business apart from its competitors, and the techniques are laid out plainly enough that a solopreneur can learn what’s necessary to succeed at them.

What’s In a Name: Parsing Duct Tape Marketing

The name “Duct Tape Marketing” is intended to convey the key points of Jantsch’s system of identifying ideal customers and getting them into the sales cycle early in their own decision-making process by evoking admirable qualities of duct tape. Although not all of these qualities are specifically named in the book, they all are suitable parallels:

  • Simplicity of use
  • Reusability
  • Stickiness
  • Affordability
  • Versatility
  • Universal recognition

In practice, this writer has observed various misunderstandings, including associations with cheapness, carelessness, and even one instance in which the listener assumed that it was a method for more effectively selling duct tape. Granted, the name is confusing, but its architect has used his own techniques to overcome the fogginess of the name and emerge in the forefront of book on marketing that target small business. Business leaders Michael Gerber and Guy Kawasaki provide the foreword and afterword, respectively, and these respected luminaries are neither sparing with their praise nor shallow in their understanding of Jantsch’s work.

Like any marketing system, this one will take no small amount of time to utilize fully. Duct Tape Marketing, however, is simple and complete enough that any serious small business owner should be able to implement it and see the results themselves by tracking and testing them.

Building New Business Success on the Web

Building New Business Success on the Web

That landscape is so different that some common and dominant paradigms are being challenged by new and factual evidence to such a degree that new ways of thinking must replace them.

Despite the success of some innovative and web based companies, there is still a danger for those entering this landscape of duplicating some of the old paradigms that simply will not work any longer.

Building New Business Success on the Web

Why is this? People generally will follow the most trustworthy routes to success by observing what has worked for others in the past and applying it their present situation. This has led to a copy and paste way of thinking in designing these new organizations.

 The fact is that many business leaders are quite uncomfortable about challenging the conventional wisdom. Since some of this wisdom has the air of holiness about it this reticence has created a breeding ground of yes-men. These are precisely the wrong types of people for this task or organizational design.

Here are three of these paradigms that need to be seriously challenged during this process.

Teamwork

The first is that teamwork is the best method to get results. The conventional wisdom here is that within a goal is people’s inherent ability to work together to achieve it. Many businesses have job titles that include the word team and as a result, people in those businesses often make decisions based on consensus.

The reality is that in cases of emergencies and high-risk situations such as having a crisis with a key client where a quick decision is needed, waiting for a consensus is not an option.

Teams are often successful with day-to-day tasks and operations, when time and accountability are not so pressing. But when such issues are, teams run the risk of breaking up into the confusion of squabbling and inefficiency. This means that for many tasks using a single decision maker may be the most effective method.

Delegation

The second is an overreliance on delegation. While delegation is needed in today’s challenging environment, there are hidden dangers in delegating the wrong tasks or too many tasks. The bottom line here is that delegation comes down to the judgment of a business leader to determine which task is delegated, to whom and when.

Cross-functional Communication

The last of these paradigms is that cross-functional communication is an absolute necessity in organizations. The conventional wisdom here is that communication usually becomes more pressing as a business grows. This drives the need for more effective communication of comprehensive information. This allows all functions to stay in alignment with the organization’s direction.

This works just fine until there is too much information flowing. What is created though is background noise at such a level that key people are losing sight of what is relevant. While there is a need to increase information flow, this information needs to be managed. It is up to those running the business to find the balance between necessity and efficiency.

Successful businesses on the web will not be those that allow themselves to be defined by the dominant paradigm or the practices of those around them. They will forge their own new way and define their unique path to success.

Stock Control Administration in a Small Business

Stock Control Administration in a Small Business

Proper stock control administration is an essential requisite for any small business.

Stock control plays a crucial role in the daily operation of a small business. There are a number of administrative tasks associated with stock control which, depending upon the size and complexity of the business, are either part of an administrator’s duties or carried out by a dedicated stock controller.

Why is Stock Control Important?

When it comes to small businesses, many of them sell products which are either made in house or supplied from elsewhere. There is a risk here of losing track of the stock available, which can lead to missed orders if sufficient stock isn’t at the immediate disposal of the business.

The role of stock control shows how much stock you have at any given time, and provides details of the system employed to keep track of stock at every stage of the production process.

 How is Stock Control Implemented?

When it comes to administration of stock control, it is important to have different staff responsible for stock than the ones responsible for finance. This is for security reasons and serves as a preventive measure against fraud.

A range of paperwork associated with stock needs to be processed in order to properly maintain a stock control system. This typically includes delivery and supplier notes for incoming goods, and requisitions and issue notes for any outgoing goods. Further, purchase orders, receipts, credit notes and return notes also need to be maintained and processed.

Methods of Stock Control

There are a variety of systems available for the purpose of stock control in a small business. The most commonly used is the traditional paper based system. This can be very time consuming and provides records which are inflexible and lack the level of information a computer-based system can provide.

If the stock control system is simple, it can be built simply on spreadsheets or some other computer database. For more complex systems, a computer software purchase might be required. These can be bought off the shelf, but the software generally costs thousands of dollars and might be too expensive for a small business.

An alternative to computer software is online systems which are not only more cost-effective, but also allow small businesses to access and monitor their stock information from anywhere they want.

Maintenance of Stock Control

Once any of these stock control systems has been set up, it is important for the figures to be checked systematically. This can be done through “stocktaking,” whereby an audit of stock is conducted on a regular basis. Alternatively, “rolling stocktake” can be employed through an ongoing programme of checking stock.

This is to be constantly on the lookout for any instance where the figures do not add up. Any such event might be indicative of security problems or a failure in the system and needs to be properly investigated.

Advantages of Newsletter Marketing for Small Businesses

Advantages of Newsletter Marketing for Small Businesses

It is a challenge keeping your business’s name in front of your prospect, but if you want to be successful it has to be done. You also have to get former customers to use your business again and give you repeat business. Cold calling is another effective way: by calling the prospect and asking if they are ready to buy. If you don’t like cold calling there are other alternatives.

Newsletters are public relations material. Big corporations use them. They are great at reminding customers about your company. According to Herman Holtz, in his book, Great Promo Pieces, (Wiley, 1988), “Tiny businesses turn out their little newsletters to promote their fledgling ventures, but thousands of newsletters are produced by supercorporations, nonprofit organizations, and even governments to help them promote their own activities and carry out their missions.” Newsletters are a great way to remind customers to buy from you.

There are advantages of marketing with newsletters.

 Newsletters Allow You to Build a House List

Have some way to capture all of your prospects’ and customers’ mailing addresses. You may ask for their addresses when they come into your business, or give them a coupon for filling out an address card. Ask customers if they want to receive a newsletter from you.

Newsletters Can Offer More Details

With your newsletter you will be giving the prospect a lot of useful information. It is not the place to be boring so offer the customer detailed information about your business. You can have helpful articles about your line of business that will help them, or you can interview some of your employees. You can get a lot of information into your newsletter, far more than you can a brochure.

Your Newsletter Will Have Low Competition

Your small business newsletter will not have to compete with other small business newsletters. Your newsletter is written in a way that will offer helpful information to your customers.

The Newsletter is Respectable

The newsletter is respectable and it is highly read, and some newsletters are even distributed to paying subscribers. They tell us when the next meeting will be, who made partner, they give us financial planning information, and they give us great diet tips, and tell us how to remodel our kitchen. If your company has information to offer you should consider writing a newsletter.

Newsletters Allow You to Target Customers

Newsletters are highly targeted public relations material. They will bring more repeat customers, and turn prospects into clients. With your house list you can target your customers wisely.

Large companies take pride in having a professional newsletter, but a small business can have a professional newsletter too.

Small Business Advice: Before You Ask for Advice, Ask Yourself These Questions

Small Business Advice

Perhaps sales are lagging for no apparent reason, or your industry is undergoing tremendous changes. No matter what the reason, some small busines advice is required.

But from whom, why, and for how long? Those are the hard questions. Hopefully, this article can help you navigate the small business advice question, giving you more information to make the best decision for your entrepreneurial venture.

What Type of Small Business Advice Do You Need?

You need to know your goal, before you can figure out how to get there. Do you know exactly what you need to accomplish, and what the problem actually is? Are sales lagging, customers not walking in the door, high staff turnover, or your marketing techniques not working?

There are a myriad of rasons why your small business may be faltering, and why you need advice. Make sure you know exactly what is wrong, before you start looking for professional help.

Once you have determined the exact issue you need to address, it sholdn’t be too hard to figure out what type of professional you require, whether it be financial, himan resources, marketing, legal or technical.

What Control Are You Willing To Relinquish to Receive Small Business Advice?

In order to hire someone to review your entrepreneurial practices, improve them and give you fair small business advice, you’ll need to relinquish a fair amount of control. Are you able, or willing, or do that?

Once, I worked for a combination pub and restaurant, who was offered a free small business advice consultation; a complete review of the problems and issues in the business (although any solutions would cost a fee, of course). But the actual review of the business practices was, at times, so invasive, it was difficult to keep the business running.

Make sure you are fully aware of what any busines advisor will be reviewing and why, and then schedule accordingly. Any professional dealing with the day-to-day issues of running a small business will need to see both your busy and your slow periods for an accurate assessment – but first ask what exactly that entails, so that your business isn’t left scrambling.

What is Your Small Business Advice Budget?

Simple, and obvious. But really, really important. Many small business consultants will offer a free consultation, as the business I mentioned in section #2 did. However, actually doing something about any problems will cost money, and depending on the problem, may add up quickly.

Be sure to openly discuss fees, extras and contingency plans with any consultant you talk to, before making any sort of commitment.

Finding Someone to Provide Small Business Advice

The last task on your lsit is to locate a small business advisor, which shouldn’t be terribly difficult. Talk to other entrepreneurs in the area and see who they use. Alternatively, you can contact your local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau or business networking group for referrals.