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When I started seriously thinking about my business idea and how I’d launch it, I had a rough idea in my head of what my initial start-up costs were. So one of the first things I’ve been doing is looking into what sort of funding might be available to me.
For the last 5 years the banks have been reluctant to lend money to new start-up businesses. This is well known and it has put a lot of people off even contemplating the idea of giving up a steady job and going it alone.
However, starting a business doesn’t have to mean going down the traditional route of speaking to the bank manager and asking for a loan. I’ve put together below a list of some more creative alternatives to get together the sort of funds you need to make that leap into the dream of working for yourself.
Government business grants
These are a rare sight nowadays unfortunately, but they do exist. The government tends to fund in areas they want to see growth in so some industries are more popular than others. Similarly, some are local to the area you live in and more common to find if you live in a more disadvantaged area.
A really good starting point is the gov.uk which has a easy tool to find finance you might be able to apply for:
Support if you are under 30
You lucky people. Not only do you have nice wrinkle-free skin, there are great support organisations for starting a business if you are under 30.
There is a government run loan scheme for anyone 18-30 planning on starting their own business. The website is here:
The Princes Trust is another long well established and long running scheme which can offer you a low interest loan if you are 18-30 and planning on starting your own business. Details can be found on their website:
Do you like to make things?
There are some great independent websites now to sell handmade goods. So if you are the crafty type, why not create your own little shop online and make and sell a few items in your spare time, using the extra money towards your business? You might even find that these websites are a useful launch pad for your start up if your business idea is to make and sell handmade items. Below are some of the biggest online marketplaces in the UK at the moment:
How about earning some spare cash?
Could you take on a part time job in your local community? Not only will a part time job allow you to get some extra money together for your business start-up, it may also be something you can continue for a while until your business is making enough money to provide you with a salary. If you have specialist expertise in an area, there are some useful websites where you can promote and sell your services:
http://www.peopleperhour.com/ or http://guru.com/ – Peopleperhour and Guru.com are useful sites to have a look on if you have professional skills as it advertises remote work for professionals, mainly writers, technical and business bods, and creatives.
Get people to buy in to your idea (literally)
Crowd funding is the hottest way for start-ups to source funding for their business ideas. They are essentially websites to allow you to pitch your business idea to a group of investors and one or many can choose to invest in your business. Here are some websites to start you off:
Peer to peer lending
If you are keen on a loan and have a good credit rating, peer to peer lending can offer you more competitive rates than many banks at the moment. Here are some of the top peer to peer sites:
Lending from friends and family
Perhaps you have immediate or extended family that are looking to invest somewhere. Well, they won’t get much from putting their savings in ISAs, where the best rates on the market are 2% or 3%. Perhaps you can offer an alternative; either a higher rate for a loan, or allow them to invest money in exchange for shares in the business.
Working with another business
Is your business complimentary to another business? Perhaps you have common customers and can exploit cross-promotion. It’s worth having a think about whether you can pitch your idea to another company and use their resources, offices, or premises. Perhaps you can sell the idea enough for them to invest in your company. There is a lot of support that an established business can offer to a start-up.
Enter a business competition
There a plenty of business competitions out there for best new business idea, best female entrepreneur, best entrepreneur under 30. They may have cash prizes. Even if you don’t win, they are worth entering just for the exposure they give you, especially if you get shortlisted. Here are some places to start you off:
http://www.shell-livewire.org/ – they have a number of awards for entrepreneurs aged 18-30 with cash prizes of between £1000 and £10000
http://www.enterprisingu.com/ – Arranged by RBS, and is open to students and recent graduates
http://www.mykindacrowd.com/ – another scheme aimed at the younger crowd (16-25) this has a number of smaller ‘challenges’ you can enter and various types of prizes
http://www.joinourcore.com/ – sponsored by Ben and Jerry’s and offering cash prizes for social entrepreneurs across Europe
https://www.thebigawards.co.uk/Page/Home – run by Cisco, with big cash prizes of up to $250000
http://www.nectar.com/dynamic/smallbusiness – each category winner receives a £2000 cash prize
About the author:
Lauren is author of http://www.theglitteringeyesbrigade.com and entrepreneur currently in the process of starting her own business in the UK
Asbestos exposure is something that is commonly linked to men and asbestos related diseases are far more common amongst men than women. This is because the industries in which asbestos was once commonly used were industries that were largely dominated by men, so they were exposed to asbestos far more than women.
However, asbestos exposure has also affected many women over the years and one of the common ways in which women have been affected is through secondary exposure. In decades gone by, where men traditionally went out to work and women often stayed at home and did the housework, many women were exposed to asbestos simply through washing their partners’ work clothes, as well as in a number of other ways.
Ways in which secondary asbestos exposure can occur
Secondary exposure to asbestos can occur in a number of ways and those who are affected by secondary exposure may be entitled to asbestos compensation. Some of the ways in which this type of exposure has occurred over the years includes:
Through doing laundry: Airborne asbestos fibres resulted in many women being exposed to this substance through washing their partner’s or son’s clothes in years gone by. Fibres from asbestos became attached to clothing very easily and once the workers went home these fibres were transported to the home environment and became airborne when the laundry was being done.
From physical contact: Asbestos fibres would often also attach themselves to the hair and skin of workers, as well as to their clothing. This meant that even something as simple as a kiss or hug for their husbands or partners could put women at risk of being exposed to these fibres. Because the dangers of asbestos were not widely known before the 1980s, most women would not have thought twice about contact with the clothing of their partners or their sons when they returned home from work, even if they worked closely with asbestos.
From furniture: As a result of the dangers of asbestos not being known at the time when so many men worked with it, people would not have thought twice about going home and sitting on furniture while still in work clothes. This then resulted in fibres being transferred to furniture, posing another risk of secondary exposure that affected not only women but also children and other people in the household.
Despite many women never having worked with asbestos, the dust and fibres transported home by sons or partners who did work with asbestos was enough to pose a serious risk through secondary exposure. As a result of this, a number of women have gone on to develop asbestos related diseases over recent years.
Last Saturday I was approached by a woman who asked, “Do you read?”
Quite taken aback, I asked her, “Why are you asking?”
She said, “I’m working for a charity aimed at encouraging people to learn to read.”
“And you thought that maybe the market would be the first place to look?” I said.
Luckily, she moved on as it wasn’t going too well.
I’m sure she meant well but what are these people thinking, sending a poorly prepared, badly trained person out to represent their business. Even charities need to have trained and knowledgeable staff. It’s not enough just to be a do gooder.
This lady was given some books and told to give them to people who can’t read to encourage them to learn. How ludicrous!
And what is more ludicrous is that they assumed that our market would be the place to find them.
I make gourmet fudge, am a professional blogger, build websites and teach social media marketing. Chris on the stall next to me is an extremely talented artist who sells his pictures of London in print form. Scot and Jill on the other side make delightful collector’s pieces and Paul behind me makes beautiful hand made shirts. These are the type of people you find at craft markets.
Who ever sent this poor lady – shame on you!
When starting up a new business one of the first things you should consider is what legal structure you will use. For small businesses in the UK there are four common structures to consider:
Other structures such as franchises and community interest companies also exist but they are not as commonly used.
Operating as a sole trader is very simple: all you need to do is register for self-assessment with HMRC and fill in a tax return each year. There are no additional forms to fill in, fees or government bodies involved. It’s the simplest, quickest and cheapest way to launch yourself as a business. You will need to keep good records to meet your tax reporting obligations but that’s no bad thing since good record keeping will help you manage your business effectively.
A major disadvantage of being a sole trader is that you have unlimited liability i.e. you are personally responsible for all debts incurred by your business. Should your business fail then you may have to use personal assets such as your home to pay off any debts.
You can’t be a sole trader if you want to employ someone else, but it’s easy enough to start up as a sole trader and then move to one of the more formal structures as your business grows.
As a sole trader your profits are taxed as income, so once your earnings exceed £32,011 (for the 2013-14 tax year) you will pay the higher rate of tax (40% up to £150k then 45%) rather than the basic rate (20%). The other business structures, particularly the limited liability company, are likely to be more tax efficient once your business is generating a good income.
A partnership is a business structure that allows 2 or more people to go into business together, sharing the profits and losses between them. Often, partners share profits and losses equally but this needn’t be the case. Terms of a partnership, such as how the profits are shared, are usually set out in a Partnership Agreement.
Although a formal Partnership Agreement is not required by law, it is a very good idea to have one. In the absence of a formal agreement, a partnership is governed by the Partnership Act (1890) which, amongst other things, says that each partner is entitled to equal share in the capital and profits of the partnership regardless of their input. Without a partnership agreement a partner can also withdraw from the partnership without notice which could cause financial problems if the partner insisted on return of their capital.
Partnerships are one step up from sole-traders – they allow two or more people to form and run a business with minimal red-tape. This structure can be useful for small businesses run by couples. In fact, if an unmarried couple run a business together then setting the business up as a partnership safeguards each partner’s interest in the business should their personal relationship end.
The legal status of a partnership is similar to that of a sole trader, including unlimited liability. If the partnership has debts the partners are jointly liable for any amounts owed and so are equally responsible for paying off the whole debt.
Each partner needs to register with the HMRC as self-employed and for self-assessment. The partnership also has to be registered with HMRC and an annual tax return filed. Profits from the partnership are taxed as income, as per sole-traders. Unlike sole-traders, however, the partners and the partnership also have to be registered for National Insurance and pay NICs.
As with sole-traders, if the partnership generates sufficient income a limited liability company may be more tax efficient.
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company is quite different from a sole-trader or partnership. The most significant difference is that a limited liability company has its own legal ‘persona’ – it exists as a legal entity apart from its company directors and shareholders. Each shareholder’s liability is limited to the amount of their investment in the company and company directors’ personal assets are off-limits to creditors. The limited liability status is one of the biggest benefits of the limited liability company structure.
On the down-side, limited liability companies are subject to considerably more regulation and oversight than sole-traders and partnerships. Before a company can trade as a limited liability company it must be registered with Companies House. Once registered, a company must file annual returns which become public documents which anyone can inspect. The company must also be registered for PAYE and make regular PAYE returns and NICs.
Registering a limited liability company with Companies House is relatively straightforward and inexpensive. The main documents to complete and submit are: Articles of Association, Memorandum of Association and form IN01. Alternatively, there are dozens of online suppliers of off-the-shelf companies for little more than the cost of incorporating a company yourself.
There are considerable tax advantages with the limited liability company structure. Limited liability companies are taxed on their profits, at a flat rate (unlike the various tax bands for personal income). A common way for small businesses to take advantage of this tax structure is for the company to be set up with the company directors being the main (or sole) shareholders. The company directors are then employed by the company at a minimum wage, allowing each employee to take advantage of their tax-free personal allowance and minimize NICs. Company profits, which are taxed at 10% and not subject to NICs, are then paid as dividends to the shareholders. Of course, there’s more to it than that but that’s where an accountant can help.
You need to keep good and accurate records and there is more bookkeeping for a limited liability company than for sole-traders and partnerships. There is plenty of information available and it is certainly possible to keep your own books, but it is also a good point at which to consider using accounting software and/or engage the services of a small business accountant to ensure you meet your statutory obligations.
Limited Liability Partnership
Limited liability partnerships combine the benefits of traditional partnerships with those of a limited liability company, namely the limited liability status. Many businesses that traditionally used the partnership structure (e.g. accountant, solicitors, and surveyors) have now converted to limited liability status.
The art of power dressing seemed to fade with the passing of the 1980s, along with bubble perms and Joan Crawford-esque shoulder pads. However, as a woman in business who wishes to be taken seriously, pulling off a strong, formal style in the workplace can help to boost your confidence and keep you on top of your game.
The Telegraph cites the late Baroness Thatcher as one of the spearheads of the power dressing revolution, and while you might not want to emulate her style, you’d be a fool not to want to command the levels of confidence and respect that she did.
Power dressing doesn’t mean dressing like a man. After all, who said they were in charge anyway? Real power dressing is more about being able to wear something smart and modern which still reflects your own personality and unique style. This can be as simple as changing your handbag or wearing a different perfume. Here are some top style tips to dressing for success in the modern workplace.
- Basic blazers for everyday: blazers are making a comeback, and in a big way. No longer are they frumpy, schoolmarm pieces, but are now on-trend and ideal to throw over your work outfit to give you that polished, classy edge. A basic black blazer will go with everything, and for the warmer seasons, a lighter grey blazer will be perfect with your summer dresses and skirts.
- Sexy skirts for high pressure meetings: being sexy doesn’t mean wearing overly tight and short dresses or skirts. Indeed, some of the most fashionable skirts for women are longer, more flowing and less tailored than they used to be. Choosing a feminine piece for a high-powered, male-dominated meeting can help you connect with your inner strength and stay confident throughout.
- Bag a perfect work bag: work bags shouldn’t be big and bold, even if that’s your preference for day bags. Stick to neutral colours such as browns, blacks and beiges, and choose a smaller, more discreet handbag which will not detract from your carefully chosen outfit.
- Well-heeled: wearing appropriate shoes for the workplace is certainly a safety consideration, particularly if you have to work on uneven surfaces from time to time. However, the range and types of shoes you can wear will depend a lot on your industry. Creative types working in marketing or graphic design companies may have the chance to be more experimental with their shoe choices, but for ladies working in law firms or accountancy practices, sticking to basic black courts or pumps is the order of the day.
- Make it up right: makeup for work is still a contentious subject, even in 2013. Many women still feel the need to go in full makeup every day, which is fine if that gives them the boost they need. However, it can be good to take stock of what is in your makeup bag from time to time and make sure it still suits you. Bright red lipstick is fine once in a while, but remember to keep everything else incredibly subtle if that’s your choice.
How we worked together to build our business from the ground up!
Nadine and I have worked as partners for over 5 years now, running a successful niche travel company – www.eShores.co.uk – based out of Manchester, UK. We met and developed our ideas from nothing into a small business that has grown substantially in spite of recession and a troubled economy.
Gavin: I’ve always been business minded, and most members of my family have careers built around businesses too. This definitely influenced me to look for ways I could get into business, and as I worked for other companies and helped them grow I realised more than ever that I wanted to run my own. I have a real passion for travel, and decided to try and make something of myself in this industry. I was introduced to Nadine by mutual friends who recommended we get together to discuss ideas; Nadine had over 15 years of experience in the travel industry and was a BDM when we met, so I knew her experience would be valuable.
Nadine: I was brought up around business from a young age, with my father owning a successful business, but I hadn’t given much thought to running my own until later in life. I was working as a business development manager for a travel company when I started to realise I could be doing the same work for myself, and decided I wanted to run my own business. Gavin approached me and explained his interest in working within the travel industry, and I knew that with my industry knowledge and Gavin’s marketing experience, this was too good an opportunity for us to pass up.
Gavin: We made the decision to build a travel business after seeing a gap in the market for specialised, high quality customer service coupled with the ease and availability of phone and online booking. Many online travel companies are all about turnover or budget package holidays, and neglect their customer service – we knew if we could offer luxury holidays and tailored experiences at competitive prices, that we could provide something different and unique to the market at that time.
We launched eShores in 2007. Nadine and I worked from her spare room for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Within 4 months we had built the business up enough to move into a small serviced office and take on 2 members of staff; that’s when we knew eShores had begun!
Nadine: Of course we both struggled to maintain a good work/life balance in the beginning; this is something that I have learnt to deal with and adjust to over time. Being in Travel I am always working – friends and family want advice and tips constantly, but my kids don’t understand the industry so when they’re around the work-talk is put on hold until they go to bed!
Gavin: It will always be difficult to maintain a good balance, but I think I’ve learnt the importance of taking days off and holidays as we’ve grown. When we first started we worked far too many hours and you simply burn yourself out, but now I ensure I get at least one day off a week to relax!
Nadine: We’ve gone from strength to strength since we started out; as we were a fairly new company when the recession hit we simply learnt to work with economic environment as it was back then and remained sensible with our growth and spending. Our target market was customers who could previously afford to take 2-3 holidays a year, so the recession simply meant they were taking 1-2 instead; this meant that we didn’t lose our business altogether, instead just adjusting to a smaller budget. Now the economy is better we realise how bad the recession was, as we have seen large increases in bookings over the last few years! Growing the business at a slow pace and keeping a tight hold on expenditure definitely got us through those years.
Women generally aren’t encouraged to go into business like I did, but I was confident in my knowledge of the growing luxury market and of my knowledge of the travel industry. Teamed up with Gavin’s knowledge of sales and marketing, I knew we had an excellent shot at making this work. My husband and father of course were big influences, both owning their own businesses, and my experience as a BDM pushed me to build my own business.
It is important to be confident in what you know, be realistic at what is achievable within time frames, and have the guts to give it a go!
Gavin: If we could give advice to those just starting out now it would be to choose your market and build it around that; stay focused and don’t try to expand too quickly. Make sure you spend money in the right places and hire the right staff to support you and the business in the future.
If you are self-employed or running your own business then you may have engaged the services of other professionals to help you start up your business. Perhaps you hired an accountant to set up your accounting system. Perhaps you hired a web design company to set up your website. Maybe you hired a solicitor to help you set up a limited company or draft a partnership agreement. Which of those professional services cost you the most? I bet it was the solicitor.
I’m not knocking solicitors: good solicitors are worth their weight in gold. But gold is a very expensive thing. Sometimes other solutions are worth considering. I’ll lay my cards on the table here – our business sells template legal documents so I’m a big fan of DIY law. The truth is, many of the legal aspects of setting up and running a small business are straightforward and you may be able to save your business hundreds of pounds in legal fees if you use a template solution.
A DIY approach
So, what things can you do yourself for your business? These are some of the activities, traditionally the domain of a solicitor, than can lend themselves to a DIY approach:
Incorporating a limited company
Setting up a limited company is straightforward –if you’re happy to accept the ‘model’ (i.e. default) articles of association you can incorporate online at Companies House for £15. To use your own articles of association (and there are good reasons why you might want to) is not much more difficult and costs £40. You can also buy an off-the-shelf limited company from any of a huge number of websites for not much more than incorporating one yourself.
Setting up a partnership
If you choose to set up a (unincorporated) partnership or limited liability partnership rather than a limited company then this is also easy to do. Setting up a traditional partnership is uncomplicated – a simple, single Partnership Agreement document is all that is required. Setting up a limited liability partnership is a bit more complicated – it is more like forming a limited company. Various forms have to be completed and submitted to Companies House, fees paid etc. In either case, you can find plenty of information online including template documents.
Employing and recruiting staff
Once your business grows to the point where you are ready to employ staff there are a range of other legal documents you will probably need, the main one being a contract of employment.
You don’t have to have a written employment contract but it is good practice to do so. At the very least, you have to provide any employee who works for you (for at least 1 month) with a written set of ‘employment particulars’. The employment particulars are often included in a written contract of employment, setting out all the terms of employment.
A contract of employment, for the majority of small business employers, is a standard document and lends itself to a template approach. As ever, if your requirements are specialised then you may need legal advice.
Hiring a consultant
If you want to hire a consultant to provide specific services to your business (e.g. a web design consultant, public relations consultant, business consultant etc.) then you will need some form of contract between your business and the consultant. Most consultants can provide a contract ready for you to sign or but if you provide the contract then you can make sure the terms suit your business. A contract to hire a consultant is usually a fairly standard document and lends itself to a standard template.
Drafting your terms and conditions of sale
Whether your business sells goods, services or both; sells from a shop, door-to-door or over the internet you would be wise to set out your terms and conditions of sale in a written document. In fact, if selling online you are legally required to have your terms and conditions published on your website. Regardless of what channel you use to sell your goods or services, it makes good business sense to have a written set of T&Cs of sale.
Unless your business sells very unusual goods or services you can probably find a suitable template for terms and conditions of sale from an online legal documents provider.
There are many websites from which you can buy legal document templates (ours is clickdocs.co.uk). You can even get some types of legal template documents and legal forms free from government and public service websites. High street stationers such as W H Smith stock some types of legal documents in paper form, but these are generally in the area of domestic or personal law e.g. wills and tenancy agreements.
Before you buy an online legal document template do a bit of research to satisfy yourself that:
- the template documents suits your requirements,
- it has been drafted for the UK,
- it is up-to-date with all current legislation,
- the document has been professionally drafted (preferable by a solicitor), and
- you are buying from a reputable company.
The myth of the common law wife runs deep, in a Good Housekeeping survey, more than 50% of women believed that cohabiting couples won the same rights as those who are married after living together for a number of years. When you consider the number of opposite sex cohabiting couples has increased, from 1.5 million in 1996 to 2.9 million in 2012, that’s potentially a lot of women in the unknown as to their rights.
The Law Commission in 2007 put forward proposals to give the same rights to cohabiting couples as married couples so as to ‘reflect the growing prevalence and public acceptance of cohabitation.’
However there seems to be little political appetite to clarify their rights, which essentially means unmarried couples are still in legal no-man’s-land.
The recent English county court case of Pamela Curran and Brian Collins highlights the difficulties that arise when unmarried couples in England and Wales separate and it should serve as a warning to others in a similar position.
Rights for cohabitants are very limited indeed (unlike those who have married) when they part ways. Unlike in divorce there is no automatic right to make a claim against assets held in the sole name of their former partner. Due to this difficult position cohabiting couples are left dependent upon property and trusts law when their relationships break down which is notoriously difficult and costly to pursue successfully.
The rights for divorcing couples are a stark contrast to those of cohabitating couples. Divorcing couples are able to much more easily make claims against all assets including; businesses, pensions, savings and properties. Furthermore, divorcing couples are able to claim for maintenance payments in their personal capacity with cohabiting couples only being able to claim maintenance for the benefit of their children. When the children are grown up if parties are not married it is not possible to pursue a maintenance claim through the Courts.
‘Sadly, the appellant found herself in the classic position of a woman jilted in her early 50s, having very much made her life with the respondent for over 30 years.The law of property can be harsh on people, usually women, in that situation. Bluntly, the law remains unfair to people in the appellant’s position, but the judge was constrained to apply the law as it is’
Lord Justice Toulson in Curran v Collins.
An appeal has been granted permission in light of the above statement.
Given recent government announcements that no major amendments to the law are planned in the foreseeable future, this leaves an unfortunate position for people like Miss Curran who is left feeling a victim of laws which arguably ought to be updated to give those in her position greater protection.
The couple ran a successful business, and has been in a relationship for thirty years; however the family home and business were both legally owned by Mr Collins. Upon the relationship breakdown, Mrs Curran was effectively without any assets of her own. Ms Curran described how she had trusted that she would be provided with a “fair share” of the assets if the relationship broke down.
In order for her appeal to be successful, Ms Curran will have to show that the couple originally intended for her to have a share in the property and business – to do this, she being the party whose interest has been undocumented will have to go through the struggle of establishing that there was a joint intention for them to have an interest.
The starting point is different because the claimant whose name is not on the proprietorship register, here Ms Curran, has the burden of establishing some sort of implied trust, normally what is now termed a ‘common intention’ constructive trust. The claimant whose name is on the register starts (in the absence of an express declaration of trust in different terms, and subject to what is said below about resulting trusts) with the presumption (or assumption) of a beneficial joint tenancy.
Word Of Advice:
Put it in writing
Whether an asset is to be held in joint names or one party’s sole name, a document clearly stating what the parties intend for each one to own allows for transparency and certainty. Asserting your rights without a written agreement is fraught with difficulty, and in the absence of such clarity, the court will interpret the intention based on fairness, by looking at the behaviour of both parties during the period of ownership.
Both financial and non-financial contributions can be taken into account. But the extensive examination process of the relationship can prove costly and time-consuming and most worrying of all is that the outcome is, of course, uncertain.
The best way for anybody purchasing a property or a business with anyone else – be it a partner, a friend or a family member – is to have a formal document such as a cohabitation agreement or a declaration of trust. As such, the easiest, most efficient way to protect oneself legally against this old-fashioned and outdated aspect of property law is to record each party’s intentions in a legally binding document at the outset.
This can be prepared by a lawyer to record each person’s share, who has contributed what, and what will happen should the asset be sold or if the relationship breaks down. Couples should also be beware that financial liabilities can last even longer than unhappy memories.
Most people do not think to take advice or just are not aware that there are straight forward steps they can take at the beginning of a relationship to protect themselves should things not work out as expected. This can spare them considerable cost financially and emotionally if the relationship ends.
Camilla Choudhury – Khawaja LL.B Hons LL.M Barrister
Communication is very often the key to client/customer relationships, so it’s important to be punctual with replies to phone calls and emails, and also to be honest. Many people in business make the mistake for example of pretending to know answers to difficult questions they’re asked, which can seem like a good idea in a pitch or a meeting, when in actual fact it’s better to admit your shortcomings, and strive to find out the answer. Learn from the blind-spot in your knowledge and earn the trust of any potential business associates.
Tidy office, tidy mind…
If operating from an office, make sure that the area looks presentable. Potential clients will assume that laziness here is indicative of your attitude towards work in other areas. Little things like tidying thoroughly before meetings and cleaning carpets properly can make a big difference, and will often take up very little time or money. The office space you use doesn’t have to resemble the Google HQ, but even hiring a dedicated cleaner if necessary will be worth it.
It’s not just what you say
Body language is often cited as the most important way to make a good first impression, however it’s also important to remember that having a good mind-set and being prepared will naturally boost your confidence, ultimately reflecting in your body language. The video below, is focused on job interview, has a few tips to remember when meeting people for the first time:
Keep it up
After using some of these tips and securing an order or client, it’s easy to forget about them and move on to the next acquisition, however don’t forget that the most effective marketing tool is still word of mouth, meaning that client retention is doubly important; clients that have been badly treated are unlikely to recommend you to anyone else, and may even pass on negative feedback. Ideally the same rules should apply to long-term clients and regular customers as well as potential ones
I’m looking for women in their early to mid-thirties who are fabulous and single. I think that for the first time in history women are faced with a problem; they are better educated than men, they are earning the same if not more, they are doing well in their careers and have great friends, but they are finding the available men are generally not up to scratch. What’s going wrong?
I am making a documentary where I genuinely want to help witty, intelligent and likable women find a decent bloke. This is not mean TV. All going well these women may get closer to finding Mr Right or at least Mr Realistic (but makes you happy). Please get in touch if you are in any way interested and I can explain more, and please pass this on to your friends, relatives and colleagues.
Oh and this is not a dating show- I hope this will be a brilliant documentary that’s worth being involved in.
Spread the word….
Exhibitions provide excellent marketing opportunities for a multitude of reasons. They enable you to grow your customer list, establish partnerships and improve knowledge of competitors in your industry. Appearing at these shows requires an investment from the exhibitor who must aim to maximise their return. According to data from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 88% of visitors haven’t been seen by your sales team in the last year. 76% will ask for quotes and 26% will sign orders. An exhibition is therefore a significant opportunity to boost your sales and requires a comprehensive strategy to develop your product in a positive light.
Before examining the tips to boost your sales first ask yourself these questions. Is the show best suited to promoting our product? Have we defined our business goals? And we do we have the resources in place for a pre, during and post show campaign? If the answers are yes, the company is ready for a return of investment and should consider these top five ways to increase sales from the exhibitor booth.
Take sales staff that have self-motivation, stamina, inspiration and a teamwork ethic. The environment is hectic and the staff will need these skills to succeed. An entrepreneurial spirit will provide enthusiasm through the ranks and power the team on. Exhibitors normally feature a product as the centre piece with a demonstration and show, therefore sales staff which can engage may be suited to the environment where you capture the audience’s imagination.
Allow the audience a real opportunity to connect with your brand at the show. Interactive flash games, augmented reality and entertainment services provides a unique user experience with the product and brand values. Customers are drawn to a strong brand display and interactivity.
The social sphere provides opportunity for a global PR campaign which takes places before, during and after show and transforms the exhibition from an exclusive meeting to a global promotion. Using social tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest the marketing team are able to reach out and build relationships with people not present at the show. Social software allows you to keep track of who has been talking about your brand and what they have been saying.
Set up and Focal Point
The focal point of the exhibition should be your key messages; it is the primary selling point of your exhibit. The stand should be built to allow the maximum audience exposure and encourage the public to visit the stand. Careful consideration to the stands construction will allow you to increase your sales leads.
Post Show Activity
The show does not finish once the doors have closed and the attendees have gone home. It is imperative that you follow up on any leads, appointments, questions or simply thank people for attending as quickly as possible to ensure that you reinforce your brand in the exhibitors mind.
The success of a small company in lowering its overheads can make the difference between survival and insolvency in the first year of its business life. Here are just a few ideas to help ensure that your enterprise is as financially lean as possible.
Cut Your Staffing Costs
Make sure that you retain the smallest staffing commitment needed to deliver your business model. Taking on full-time staff is a serious financial and managerial decision, and commits you to paying salary even in periods when cash flow is poor. Whilst you can get away without paying yourself for a month, it is illegal to withhold salary from your staff. Consider employing temporary workers at first, to provide you with more flexibility. Finding skilled and enthusiastic interns can be even better, as you can provide valuable work experience in return for their efforts.
Reduce Your Office Overheads
Some businesses need to hire some space in order to store inventory or house equipment. For every other small company, however, online networking between staff members is worth considering. Reducing the amount of money that is spent on office space can realise a significant saving, whilst improving morale by allowing staff to work from home and avoid a stressful commute. Some of the most reputable companies in the world now operate largely on telecommuting, and there is no reason that a small business should not follow suit.
Track Your Finances
It’s very difficult to reduce your overheads if you don’t know what you are spending your money on, and when. Choosing a decent accountant can not only enable you to maximise your tax savings and thus reduce the amount of money you pay out to the government, but can also ensure that you keep track of your spending throughout the rest of the year. A good finance professional will also help you to forecast any potential cash flow blockages or investment opportunities, which will allow you to spend your existing income more effectively.
Reduce Every Bill
Given the competitive nature of today’s utilities market, there is no excuse for sticking to a deal which doesn’t deliver the best saving for your business. This is particularly true as many suppliers offer incentives to switch services. With the advent of price comparison websites, analysing your current situation and making savings is the work of an instant, and there really is little reason for continuing to pay over the odds. You should also investigate the possibility of investing in order to make long-term savings, by ‘going green’ with technology such as low-energy light bulbs.
Price comparison websites are not the only way in which the rise of e-commerce can help to reduce your business overheads. Sites such as eBay can put you in touch with excellent deals on second-hand or even brand new goods, potentially saving significant sums of money when compared to buying on the High Street or even through wholesalers. This is particularly sensible option to take if you are investing significant sums into computing infrastructure or equipping an office, as both of these sectors are very well catered for online.
Don’t Forget Government Support
As well as reducing your overheads, you would also be wise to keep up to date with the support provided by both central and local government for start-up businesses. With the economic recovery being driven largely by the small business sector, politicians are keen to encourage new companies, and you may be able to secure financial help for your activities. This is particularly likely if you are involved in social enterprise or the voluntary sector.
Daniel N is a UK blogger who writes on a wide variety of topics including business and marketing. He is currently working on behalf of Rajapack.
1. First give something for free – you could add an interactive game to your web site. There are thousands of clever people out there who could build a game around your product.
2. Promote yourself as the face of your business. Be approachable, no “info@” emails. Let them contact you directly, if you are very busy you can still have a “gatekeeper” fielding the good ones from the crazy ones!
3. Be seen as an expert, write articles, ebooks, reports, etc.
If people see you are credible they will believe you when you talk about your products.
4. Make people feel at home on your website. Encourage them to come back even if they are not buying this time. You do this by keeping everything current and up to date. Link to articles that may be of interest to your customer, fashion, film or even business news today, not static articles from last year or last month but what’s happening now.
5. Train your employees to deal with customers in a consistent, polite manner, we all love email but the phone is the only way to really close a sale if your customer is reluctant.
6. Testimonials by real people are worth their weight in gold. Don’t just attribute them to “Jane from Manchester”, ask your satisfied customers if they wouldn’t mind having their business contact details published. Most people would love to have their business name on a busy website.
7. Don’t forget to up-sell. Maybe there is a deluxe version of your product that may work better for them.
8. Even if they don’t buy from you, try to, at least, get their email address by offering a free ebook or some other gift if they join your mailing list.
9. Once you have their email address you can keep them informed of special offers and events, many online businesses survive purely on selling to their email list, don’t miss this chance.
10. Create a sense of urgency on your website or in your email marketing. Tell them of a limited time offer or a free bonus.
This is an example of a press release, (should always be in 3rd person).
65 year old grandmother is the new face of The Star Clinic.
The Star Clinic announced last night that a British grandmother, Sarah Lander, is to be the new face of their business.
Mike Saunders of Star believes Ms Lander personifies how women can change their lives by improving their looks.
Lander says of her new role: “I am very honoured to have been chosen to be the face of The Star Clinic.
1 year ago I was a 64 year old grandmother with a boring retirement to look forward to and now, thanks to the brilliant surgeons at The Star Clinic, I have a new face, a fantastic figure, new confidence and an exciting new life.”
Well done Sarah!
To see Sarah’s full story take a look at The Star Clinic’s website.
Easy? Not so! The hard part is turning a boring story into something note worthy.
Take a step back and look at your business as a reporter would see it, he is only interested in an interesting story, he could care less about your business. He’s not interested in promoting you, he wants a story that will grab people’s attention.
So think of what you want to say and then spice it up, make it note worthy then give it a go.
Are you heading to New York this Autumn with that special someone? Here are some great things to try in Central Park for the romantics amongst you….
Dinner at the Loeb Boathouse as the sun is setting
An early evening Gondola ride on the lake
A horse and carriage ride through the park for spectacular autumn colours
The choice is entirely yours……
Debbie, Author of the Lipstick City Guide to New York
“Had I but plenty of money, money enough to spare,” wrote Robert Browning. And money is the greatest attribute of riches. A universal desire, money is the materialisation of riches, the stuff that makes the rest possible. Are you looking for financial security? For retirement, for education or leisure? Riches are the overflowing abundance of material possessions – houses, cars, boats, furnishings – everything you ever wanted. For others, riches come in the form of satisfaction and personal independence.
Satisfaction comes from accomplishment in employment or attaining goals. It is that feeling of contentment and confidence from a good task well done. Riches are closely linked with success. And with that comes fame or acknowledgment of position. Success might be the feeling of well-being from the rewards of good effort. Or the enthusiasm and vitality triggered by recognition. “Success is how well I enjoy the minutes,” said producer Norman Lear. Throughout history, the people who lived with riches often achieved them by hard work, diligence, good investment management and a belief in themselves.
For some people, it took courage, genius and stamina. But for many others, it took nothing special but the desire to turn dreams into reality.
Whether you want millions of dollars, recognition as an artist, or personal freedom, you have the ability to make your life as rich as you want. Think about what you most desire. It may not be hard cash, but what it can buy. Or it may be those feelings of inner satisfaction, from creating something beautiful or strong. You may want personal independence from the work week, or freedom to live anywhere you want. You may be looking for something meaningful and significant in life – something other than things money can buy. Whatever your goals, and however difficult they seem to be to accomplish, you have the ability to become who you want.
Can you see yourself surrounded by riches? Picture the world open and in front of you, ready to become the form of your dreams, ready to stage your desires. “Why then, the world’s mine oyster,” wrote Shakespeare, “which I with sword will open.”