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Recent Articles

Small business end of year checklist

21/11/2016 10:15:21

The end of the year can be a seriously busy time for the average person but when you add running your own business into the mix, that’s when things get even more stressful.

Before the New Year rolls in, there are plenty of things you’ll need to check off your to-do list, (apart from buying presents), so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you get the most important things sorted.

 

Accounting

Make sure your Tax Return is correct and up to date

Getting your tax return right is important for so many aspects of your business, not only can a good tax return help you to appear more financially sound, it will ensure you aren’t paying too little or too much tax.

 

Check over your profit/loss reports for the year

Your profits and losses for the latest financial year will tell you a lot about how you run your business and what you can do to improve. Gaining an up to date insight on your business is incredibly important if you want to take your ideas further.

 

Ensure business and client details are up to date

Moved office recently? Perhaps you’ve switched bank accounts? Chances are you’ve let everyone know but if you have clients you work with on an ad-hoc basis, they might not have your most up to date details. Similarly, double check that you have the most recent and correct information for your clients including bank and office details.

 

Pay or chase up any outstanding invoices

The end of the year is a good time to chase up any outstanding invoices you still haven’t received or to make any payments you might have forgotten about. Of course this is something that should be kept on top of all year round but sometimes invoices can slip through the cracks.

 

 

HR

Consider an employee pay rise or yearly bonus

Review how hard your employees have worked this year and consider whether their commitment to the business has had a positive impact. If so, they might be due a pay rise or even a bonus going into the New Year.

 

Determine future staff requirements

Has your business seen rapid growth this year? If yes, it might be time to expand your team or even take on your first employee. Look at your yearly profits and take into consideration how a new employee might help your business to expand its profitability even further.

 

Ensure employee details and visas are correct and up to date

If you already manage a team of employees, the end of the year is a great time to ensure their details are up to date for the New Year. In addition to this, if you hire employees from overseas now is a good time to look over visas and working permits to determine if they need to be renewed or extended.

 

Miscellaneous

Back up files

If you aren’t doing so already, start using cloud and online systems to back up those important files. That way, if the worst should happen to your computer, you know your important data is safe.

 

Update your inventory

Your inventory and assets say a lot about the financial health of your business, so use the end of the year as an excuse to log all those new acquisitions and purchases.

 

Evaluate business goals

As the New Year draws closer, take some time reflect upon your business goals. Have your long or even short term hopes for the business changed? If so, get them down on paper and use the next year to put those ideas into motion.

Top 20 leadership tips.

21/11/2016 10:12:50

Being an effective leader is no easy feat, so we’ve put together our top 20 leadership tips to help steer you in the right direction.

 

Practice humility

Humility is an incredibly important trait and is what separates a boss from a leader. A true leader will make a genuine effort to give credit to employees where it is due.

 

Communicate effectively

Leaders, both in and outside of work are top communicators. If you want to be an effective leader, you must understand the importance of making yourself heard, without losing the ability to listen to your colleagues concerns.

 

Lead by example

Do you want your employees to work harder and have pride in their work? Then you must do too. An unconfident, lazy boss produces unproductive and uninspired employees.

 

Be emotionally sensitive

It’s a long held believe that emotions and business should stay separate but ultimately, being a leader is all about developing relationships. Of course, as a leader you will have to make some hard business decisions but try to use your heart as well as your head.

 

Set your boundaries

Creating good relationships is important but solid boundaries must also be set. There’s a difference between a good leader and a pushover, setting strict but flexible boundaries ensures you’re the former, rather than the latter.

 

Know when to say no

Much like setting up solid boundaries, an effective leader knows when to say no. As a boss, you sometimes have to say no to your employees, even if it isn’t what they want to hear. Compromise is a two way street.

 

Be aware of common mistakes

There are many common mistakes both new and seasoned leaders make, so ensure you know what they are and how you can avoid them.

 

Learn from past encounters

Even if you know every trick in the book, you’re likely to make the odd mistake here and there. What’s important is that you understand why they happened and how you can do it differently next time.

 

Always be open to change

A good leader knows that there is always something new and exciting to learn. People who think they know it all don’t make good leaders. You’re allowed to be certain of your abilities but don’t get trapped in a box of self-importance.

 

Find a good mentor

Following on from the last tip, if you haven’t already found yourself a mentor then now is the time to start. Even the most experienced leaders have mentors they can turn to for nuggets of help and advice. Other people’s experiences, both good and bad, will help you to grow as a leader.

 

Keep meetings productive

Leadership is all about moving the business forward and productive meetings are a part of this. Too many business owners hold long, drawn out meetings that simply aren’t necessary. Before you decided to hold a meeting, ask yourself if it can be accomplished just as effectively over email.

 

Give up control

The best leaders know how to dish out the responsibilities effectively. Trying to do everything yourself is likely to slow productivity, so don’t be afraid to share the burden.

 

Nurture employee strengths

It’s often all too easy to focus on your employee’s weaknesses, especially when times are tough for your business. Good leaders focus on finding out their employee’s strengths, then nurturing them to inspire and promote confidence – both of which will benefit the business.

 

Share your future

Want to inspire and motivate? Write down your future hopes and wishes for the business and share it with your employees. If they can see exactly what’s in your head, then they’ll find it easier to make it happen.

 

Be honest with your employees

Even if you think you’re the best liar in the world, your employees will know if you’re hiding something from them. Cloaking the truth, even if you think it’s for the best, will make your employees suspicious and distrusting. If you want the people you work with to respect you, honesty really is the best policy.

 

Invest in your business

Investment isn’t always about money. To be an effective leader you have to invest time in both your company and your employees. Part of being a good leader is to understand what happens on all levels of your business, not just what you see in front of you.

 

Focus on your customers

Every good leader knows that the ultimate goal is to keep their customers happy. If you take time to make this your main business aim, you’ll probably find that many other aspects of your business will fall into place naturally.

 

Be a good reflection of your business

They say you can tell a lot about a company from its leader, so ensure that you are a reflection of your business. If your business promotes honesty, be an honest leader. If it promotes innovation, stay up to date with the latest trends in your industry.

 

Surround yourself with smart people

If you want to be the absolute best leader you can be, then you have to move with people that are smarter than you. Take time to mingle with and seek out advice from some of the best in your industry. You don’t have to suck up to people to be a good leader, simply listen to what they have to say.

 

Never forget your responsibilities

As a leader, you are ultimately there to lead. People are going to look up to you for advice but also for inspiration. The fate of both the business and your employees is in your hands, so being the best version of yourself benefits everyone and everything.

Lessons to learn from female entrepreneurs.

21/11/2016 10:10:05

Sometimes we can all do with a little inspiration and these well-known female entrepreneurs offer up some seriously good lessons on how they made their businesses work.

 

1. Tyra Banks

Tyra has been a model for years but since retiring in 2005, she has shown us that it is never too late to try something new. In 2011, she started her degree at Harvard Business School and is fast becoming a successful businesswoman in her own right. The lesson here? It’s never too late to learn something new.

 

2. J. K Rowling

Rowling is famous for her rags to riches story. She was at rock bottom, a recent single mother on benefits who was struggling to look after her children. In a moment of motivation, she decided it was time for her to start doing what she always wanted - writing. Rowling’s story shows us that no matter how bleak things look, a little bit of drive can propel us further than we ever thought we could go.

 

3. Kate Moss

Another model turned entrepreneur, Moss now creates on-trend fashion items for Topshop and has 14 different lines to date. Kate Moss proves that with a little bit of dedication and influence, you can turn something you’re good at into a solid career.

 

4. Jillian Michaels

After finding fame in ‘The Biggest Loser’, the personal trainer turned her attention to entrepreneurialism, creating her own media company. From workout DVDs and equipment to fitness related video games, Jillian shows us how important it is to build a solid foundation in your area of expertise before attempting to branch out.

 

5. Melinda Emerson

Entrepreneur, author and speaker better known as the @SmallBizLady on Twitter, Melinda Emerson pushes the importance of mentorship for female entrepreneurs. She reminds us just how important it is for new entrepreneurs to have people in their lives that support their business ideas and can offer constructive criticism.

 

6. Sarah Blakely

The founder of Spanx and one of most wealthy self-made women in business, Sarah proves how one unique solution to a wider problem can completely change the industry you’re in. That one idea could be the next big thing, so don’t give up on it just yet.

 

7. Barbara Corcoran

This real estate tycoon offers us another rags-to-riches story we can all learn from. She flunked college, getting all Ds, yet went on to create one of the largest real estate firms in NY. Corcoran believes the only difference between successful people and everyone else is ‘how long they spend feeling sorry for themselves’.

So stop worrying about past mistakes and get out there!

 

8. Arianna Huffington

We all know Arianna as the Editor-in-Chief at the Huffington post and is a self-made entrepreneur. Her nugget of advice is simple, believing that a critical part of being an entrepreneur is ‘understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success’.

 

9. Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig has managed to sustain a career in the often unpredictable weight management industry like no other, mostly thanks to her impressive ability to adapt. We can learn a lot just from that but she also believes that her relentless commitment to everything she does is what makes her a great entrepreneur.

 

10. Sheryl Sandberg

No entrepreneurial list would be complete without Sheryl Sandberg. Not only is she the COO of Facebook, she has made an incredible career for herself teaching women how to lead in business and achieve their goals. She believes that if women follow their goals and get the support needed to do so, eventually there will be ‘no female leaders, only leaders’.

Her lesson? Don’t give up your business dreams for anything and always seek out the help and support you need to make it happen.

Do I need a responsive website?

28/10/2016 09:11:17

Nowadays, most businesses understand the importance of a well-designed layout to encourage visitors to their site. Despite this, many still look past the importance of using a responsive website design. A responsive design creates a smoother, easier user experience on every kind of device and has a number of benefits for businesses too.

Below are five reasons to seriously consider upgrading to a responsive website design right this second.

 

1. Mobile use is continually on the rise

With mobile use now overtaking traditional laptop or PC use, you might be crazy to think that a responsive website is a waste of time. Every month mobile use continues to grow and unlike other forms of device usage, it shows no signs of slowing down. If your website isn’t equipped to deal with mobile or tablet usage, then you could be isolating a large percentage of your customers.

 

2. You can improve your SEO ranking

Responsive websites generally perform better in search rankings simply because they only use one URL. When you opt for a separate mobile site, you’ll have to deal with two different URLS. Mobile phones also have different search algorithms to their traditional counterparts and can therefore offer more complex insights into how your customers or potential customers find you.

 

3. Responsive design improves click through from social media

If you’re trying to enhance click throughs from your social media profiles, then responsive design is a must as most social media consumption takes place on a mobile or tablet device. If you want to guide consumers to your site through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and you don’t have a responsive site, you could be losing potential leads.

 

4. Responsive design equals less site management

Using a responsive website design ensures that you only have to manage one site, rather than two. This is likely to save you time and money, both now and in the future. More importantly, managing one responsive site can significantly increase your ROI.

 

5. A responsive design provides a better user experience

Probably the best reason to use a responsive website design is that it provides a far superior browsing experience for your customers. Anyone who has ever tried to visit a site on their phone, when it isn’t compatible with a mobile device, will know how utterly frustrating it can be. If a user can’t access the information they need within the first 10-20 seconds, it’s highly likely they will leave.

So, do you really need a responsive website? If you want to grow your customer base and improve leads then the answer is a big, resounding yes.

The best email marketing apps

28/10/2016 09:09:42

Email marketing is an essential part of your business. It helps you to attract new customers, promote products and generally keep in touch with those interested in your brand and/or products.

Creating an email marketing campaign from your desktop is easy enough but when you’re busy, spending hours at your computer crafting top-notch emails isn’t always an option. With an email marketing app, you can send professional marketing emails wherever you are, in a just a few clicks, helping you to reach your customers and followers any time of the day.

We look at 4 of the best, low cost email marketing apps that you can utilise today.

 

Benchmark Email

Benchmark offers an app that’s clean and easy to use. With a variety of email templates and colour schemes to choose from, you can personalise e-marketing to fit your company’s brand and create emails that work well on both mobiles and desktops.

Benchmark stores important photos and videos so you can reuse them when need be and allows you send emails in a variety of languages, helping you to reach customers all over the world. This truly is a global app and is perfect if you’re ready to take your business across the world.

Price: Download the app for Android or iOS and get a free plan which allows you to send up to 14k emails a month to 2000 subscribers. For bigger campaigns, prices start from approximately £9.31 a month.

 

Campaign Monitor

Campaign monitor is another excellent app that lets you create marketing emails with a difference. Whilst most e-marketing apps offer simple templates, this app goes one step further, helping you to code your own email templates for a completely personalised touch. Alternatively, if you’re a design company you can create and upload your own template.

Of course, if you’re coding is not up to scratch, Campaign Monitor still has a great selection of pre-made templates for you to choose from.

Price: Only available for iOS, Campaign Monitor starts at £10.91 a month for sending 2,500 emails to 500 subscribers.

 

MailChimp

Probably the most recognised email marketing software, MailChimp offers a variety of on the go email tools for businesses. With a range of drag and drop editing tools and the ability to track your customer interactions, this is one app that’s serious about transforming business marketing.

You can also send newsletters based around photos you’ve taken from your phone and check your stats. Most impressively however, MailChimp automatically finds the best time to send emails, helping you to target your marketing more effectively.

Price: MailChimp is free if you want to send 12,000 emails to 2000 contacts per month. Any more than this and prices start at around £7.79 a month.

 

Mailigen

If you want to combine your email marketing with mobile updates, then Mailigen might be the app for you. Not only does it offer all the features you’d expect from other email marketing apps such as professional templates and a slick, office-style editor, you’ll also get the added benefit of SMS.

In a fully digital age, text messages can carry a lot more weight than email, which is why Mailigen helps you take your marketing campaigns to the next level. If you’re looking for a more intimate way to interact with your customers, this app has you covered.

Price: For £8 a month, you can email and text up to 500 subscribers. However, Mailigen also offer a 30 day free trial to get you started.