LSBC merges with Nwes to assist more start-up and existing small businesses than ever before

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London Small Business
nwes logo
London Small Business Centre is pleased to announce a merger with Nwes, the UK’s largest enterprise agency!

This move will aid the long term future of entrepreneurial support delivered by LSBC and Nwes in London, the East of England and beyond, and will bring the two organisations together (both not-for-profit), enhancing financial stability and ability to assist more start-up and existing small businesses.
Expected to be completed by the end of 2016, the merger will see the two organisations capitalise on a combined total of 74 years of experience in supporting new and growing businesses. Read More

6 Tips For Start-ups: Brand Identity & Websites

By | Branding, Communication, Creative Business, Creative Business Tips, How To, Inspiration, Marketing, Small Biz Challenges, Small Business, Small Business Tips, start up tips, Uncategorized | No Comments
Deuce Studios 6 tips for start ups: brand identity & websites

Your brand identity is one of the most important things to get right when you first start your business. It’s not just what you look like, it’s how your perceived by your audience. It starts with communicating the right message and making sure all of your touch points are in line with this vision. One of the most important of these is your website, your business will need an online presence and it needs to be as engaging as possible to compete with everybody else.

“We keep it simple, make it beautiful and give it life.”

We are Deuce Studio and that’s our mantra, everything we do follows this rule, including web design and branding for start-ups. We are a full service design agency who bring brands to life across a wide variety of disciplines. The following article is a few top tips that you should be thinking about when starting your journey on creating a brand identity and website for your new business.

1. Keep it simple.

A simple idea communicated effectively is the easiest way to get your message out there. In this day and age nobody has time, everybody wants everything as quick as possible. You need to tell them what you stand for, what you do and how you do it, in the most engaging but easy to understand way possible.

2. Push your brands message.

In every piece of communication; whether it’s your website or an advertisement, you need to be true to your vision and communicate your brands message effectively and consistently. Every consumer touch point is an opportunity to further your brand in a new way, adhering to your brand identity every time.

3. Stand out from the crowd.

As a new business you need to understand what your selling and what makes you different to your competition, and your brand identity can further this too. You have to make an impression and then you will be remembered, otherwise you’ll get left behind with all the other lookalikes.

4. Easy to navigate.

Your consumer shouldn’t need to think to use your site, it should be second nature, as if they have been on it before. The best design shouldn’t feel designed at all, the way it works blends into the background. This helps increase user engagement with your website and brand. It should be simple, clean and easy to read.

5. Make it mobile ready.

Smart phones are a big part of everything we do, so it’s crucial that your website should be optimized for mobile and work across all devices. The best kinds of websites now fit any screen, they are responsive. They adapt to the user and the device their using whether its mobile, laptop or desktop. The user experience should be the best it can be.

6. Fast loading times.

Waiting for things is the worst. We all agree that technology has made us more impatient. If your website takes longer than 5 seconds to load your bounce rate is increased drastically resulting in the user going elsewhere. You need to optimize your website for the fastest experience possible. Building a strong brand identity and online presence is important for any company and especially for a start-up, it helps to differentiate yourself from the competition and build consumer loyalty. You need to make the right impression the first time and if you combine all the top tips above you will have a better chance of succeeding.

Jonny Adrich - Deuce Studio
Jonny Aldrich – Deuce Studio

Co-Founder & Managing Director
If you would like to ask any questions or discuss a project of your own, don’t hesitate to
contact Deuce Studio’s managing director Jonny Aldrich via the email address below.

jonny@deucestudio.com | www.deucestudio.com | @deucestudio

business plan

What is a business plan and why do you need one?

By | Business Planning, How to start a business, start up tips | No Comments

Why write a business plan?

A business plan is a written description of your business and your business goals. There is no law that says you have to write a business plan or indeed write it in a certain way, however if you are looking to secure funding or finance then you will be expected to have one. Furthermore, it’s best practice to write a business plan when starting a business as it helps you visualise how your business is going to be a success and also points out possible flaws that will need addressing.

In short your business plan will demonstrate:

  • The vision for your business

  • Who’s going to help you realise it ?

  • Who are you going after (competitors)

  • What are they doing that works and that you can do better?

  • How are you going to shout about it!!!???

A business plan would conventionally include the following sections: Read More

coworking space

Why I want to move to a coworking space

By | Business Advice, Business Help, Coworkspace, Small Business | No Comments

New Coworking space in Poplar

Local entrepreneur Sadek Ali has taken a business idea he had at sixteen and created a successful business. His customers praise his “efficient, flexible and friendly” services – and that is why he is such a perfect fit for Chrisp Street Exchange – a new coworking space managed by London Small Business Centre opening in May in Poplar. We intend this space to be all those three things and more to the entrepreneurs who join as members.

 

Sadek Ali and Furnishings of London

Furnishings of London

I was born and bred in the East End, worked at Whitehall and for Fortune 500 companies, but then it was time to do something for myself as its more rewarding for all the effort I put in. I like to be challenged, improving myself, thinking up new ideas, building something from nothing.

FOL_LOGO_FINAL_2015

My business, Furnishings of Londonlets you furnish your property in a few clicks – we deliver the next day, assemble, install, plus recycle the rubbish and the old furniture you don’t want! Perfect for landlords and tenants who want to furnish a property fast, efficiently,  and at an affordable price.

www.furnishingsoflondon.com   /   @FurnishLondon   /   facebook/FurnishLondon

Why move to a coworking space?

I need to be based locally and have easy access to facilities where I can hold meetings with suppliers and customers, network with other businesses, and be part of a business community where we can swap skills and ideas and share resources. Regular workshops on topics for small businesses will help me keep my skills up to date. Read More

business finance tax advice

Accounting 101: Number 6 Planning for Tax

By | Accounting, Business Advice, Business Finance, Small Biz Small Bitez | No Comments

Our Small Biz, Small Bitez are a collection of posts on specific topics designed to deliver easy to read info which may not be so easy, but are essential that every entrepreneur knows when it comes to starting a business, such as tax and VAT.

In Accounting 101 we’re demystify all that accountancy jargon so you can take control of your small business finances.

Steven Marsh of Marsdens Chartered Accountants works closely with us at London Small Business Centre providing pro-bono work to our entrepreneurs. We asked Steven to flag up the absolute key essentials you need to know when it comes to the numbers game but without you having to plough through all the plethora of information that’s out there.

Last year we looked at the difference between a Sole Trader and Ltd Company and how to do your own Bookkeeping. Now we’re exploring  how to plan for tax.

Why Do I Need To Plan My Tax Affairs?

The main reasons are to make sure that you are compliant with the tax rules and that you are setting aside enough money to pay your eventual tax bills.  If you fail to plan for these then there could be some nasty shocks waiting for you further down the line!

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are rightfully very strict in terms of setting the rules and ensuring that your correct amount of tax is collected on time and if you do not comply, then they will usually take strong action to ensure that you do and can fine you and issue you or your business with hefty financial penalties….so it is in your own interests to plan your tax affairs and make sure that you get them right.

So How Must I Comply With The Tax Rules?

The first point to note is that the onus is on you, the taxpayer, to get things right.  It is not a valid defence to tell HMRC that you were “not aware” of the tax rules or that you were “going to get it sorted out in the near future”.  There are forms that you have to fill in to notify HMRC that you are in business and to let them know your annual profit or loss and there are strict deadlines to be met.  Even if you appoint an accountant and your accountant is late in telling HMRC on your behalf or gets it wrong, HMRC will always hold you ultimately responsible!

So the key to complying is knowledge.  Knowing what your obligations are and putting them into practice.  This would involve sitting down with your accountant if you have one to ensure that you understand what is expected of you and if you do not have an accountant then please carry out your own research.  This could include on line research, speaking to HMRC about your obligations and chatting to other colleagues who are in business who have access to an accountant.

What Are Some Common Tax Planning Points?

The list is quite frighteningly long and an article such as this cannot cover them all but some of the most common things you should plan and notify or submit to HMRC include:

  • When you have started a new business and the date you commenced to trade.
  • When you have a new source of income.
  • Completion of your annual Self Assessment Tax Return and if you are a Limited Company, your annual Company Tax Return and Financial Accounts.
  • Registering for VAT when necessary, then completing your VAT Return and paying HMRC the VAT by the due date..
  • Submitting Payroll Reports to HMRC if you employ any members of staff for whom you have a duty to put on your payroll and paying over to HMRC the resultant staff deductions for PAYE, National Insurance, Student Loans etc.
  • Your own tax payments by their due date.

I will be dealing with VAT and Payroll obligations in future blogs.

And How Much Tax Should I Set Aside?

There is no single answer to this as the various types of taxes and National Insurance have differing rates and they vary depending upon how much money your business makes.  But the answer to the question is vitally important, because if you do not set aside enough for your tax and the due date comes along and the tax bill is higher than you were expecting, then you will have an unpleasant issue to deal with.

The best advice I can give to any business owner regarding this point is not to bury your head in the sand and ignore the question….please seek professional advice so that you are fully aware.  Do not leave it to chance…and I am a firm believer in the fact that even if you do have an accountant, do not just assume that your accountant will calculate your tax at the end of the year and let you know;  they may very well do so, but by that time it may be too close to the date you have to pay it and if you have not put aside enough money it could be too late.  So please ask an accountant to run through the differing types of taxes and tax rates so that you can plan ahead in good time.

How Can I Determine If I am Planning My Tax Affairs Properly?

This is especially important if you are new or relatively new to business.  I would advise you to do some of your own research initially in order to ensure you are complying with the tax rules and putting away enough money to pay for your various taxes.  You can do some initial research on-line and it is a good idea to talk to as many business colleagues or friends that you know in business and ask them for their take on it.  You may get some conflicting replies but at least it will give you a good idea.

Then, once you have established the basics as described above it is a good idea to talk to your accountant, if you have one and ask them to give you a “Tax Healthcheck” which will include running through the likely amounts of each tax you will be liable for, along with their due dates and the deadline dates for submitting your Tax Returns and other forms to HMRC….and if you do not currently have an accountant, it may be worth meeting with a small number of qualified accountants and asking them if they will give you a free initial consultation – many do – and posing these questions.

My overriding message here is that to be forearmed is to be forewarned, so please do not leave tax planning to chance…ask the right questions at the outset, make full notes of the answers you are given and put them into practice to make them work for you.

Make a plan to plan!!

Tax is a complex subject and the topics discussed in this article are a basic introduction only. You should always seek appropriate professional advice before trying to interpret anything that has been referred to above.

I hope you have enjoyed reading and learned some interesting facts from the articles I have been asked to write on this Blog and as always, if there are any questions, please feel free to contact me through the Marsdens website.

About Steven…

business advice

Steven is known amongst his many clients and family and friends, as being the accountant who “eats, sleeps and breathes tax and enjoys explaining to clients little known and easy to implement tax gems of advice that are not always publicised or much known about”. Aside from helping entrepreneurs with their businesses, he’s a serious collector of old comics, cigarette cards, autographs, original artwork, but mainly of rare British Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth postage stamps and related items.
If you’d like to have a quick chat with Steven about anything accounts related, drop him an email on: info@marsdensaccounting.co.ukcall: 01992 570015 or visit www.marsdensaccounting.co.uk.

Remember: Always seek specific advice for your business and your circumstances before you proceed in order to avoid any costly mistakes!

 

Halima Khatun

How to do your own PR for your business

By | Business Advice, How To, Small Business Tips | No Comments

PR for your business

So you’ve got a great product or service, and now you need PR to promote it to a wider audience to make people aware of what you do, and gain those crucial clients.

So what are your options?

Well, there are a wealth of tools available through social media, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.  All these platforms are free and well used, however you’re competing with hundreds – if not thousands – of similar businesses pumping out similar messages on these sites.

There is of course the option of paid advertising in your local media.  This is ideal as it would guarantee you coverage, and the advert can be written in your words.  However, advertising, which is often an expensive route, is less credible as the reader knows it’s a paid placement – essentially, you’ve bought the positive words they are reading.

For a business like yours, it is much better if you gain column inches with credibility, and that is where PR comes in. PR, or public relations, is the practice of working with the press and media to raise awareness or influence public opinion of a particular person, organisation, issue or event.

So essentially, it’s getting a good story about your business featured in a publication or news outlet your audience will read.  With good PR, you shouldn’t have to pay for the feature, the merit of the story should secure its place.

How do you actually do PR?

However, for many businesses, PR is a scary word.  The thought of calling up a journalist about a story fills them with dread.  And many business owners simply don’t know what kind of stories will interest the media, and if they have anything to offer that’s newsworthy.  There is of course, the option of hiring a PR consultant.  I offer consultancy which offers a guaranteed ROI that outweighs your spend.  However, for many small businesses, budget is the issue.  And that’s where being empowered to do it yourself is an ideal route.

I’ve been working in PR and journalism for over a decade.  And in this time I’ve pitched stories to the national press, the regionals, online publications and the broadcast media.

Crucially, I’ve also provided media relations training to business owners, and junior PR executives.  It is during these training sessions that I realised that textbooks mistakes were being made again and again when it came to engaging the media.  Simple faux pas such as pitching to the wrong outlet, not fulfilling interview requests or chasing for coverage meant businesses got off on the wrong foot with the press, resulting in their stories being ignored.

When working with start-ups and small business, common issues come up.  One start-up said they’ve rang dozens of journalists, but none give them, their business, or their story, the time of day.

The irony is, having worked in the media with strong connections in the press, many of my journalist contacts have divulged their biggest bugbears over the years.  They’re the kind of things you wouldn’t necessarily think about, unless you were in their inundated, overworked, shoes.

Let me help you

And that’s where I come in.  My job is to bridge that gap in understanding between journalists and businesses, find the best stories a company has to offer, and pitch it in a way that a journalist will want to read it. This has worked well for my clients, who are mainly medium sized businesses and corporates.  But I wanted to do something to help support businesses just like yours, and demystify PR, which is often seen as a dark art.

You see, there is a bit of an art to engaging the media, and I’d like to help you learn it.

For 2016, I’m offering small businesses 1:1 PR masterclasses, where you can learn the following:

  • How to find a newsworthy story and angle within your business
  • How to find, approach and use case studies in the media to showcase your business
  • What to expect from PR. What good PR looks like (particularly useful if you’re looking to outsource your PR to an agency/freelancer, but don’t know where to start)
  • In the mind of a journalist, what works for them, how to write in their language
  • The different ways of approaching a journalist – press releases/email pitches/phone pitch
  • How to get that pitch right
  • How to simplify your story for the press and public

This in-depth, intensive masterclass sessions should leave you with the ideas, understanding and confidence to be able to get in touch with the media and pitch your story. The sessions doesn’t come with any strings.  You’re not locked into a three month retainer, instead you can leave the masterclass empowered with the skills and insight to make PR work for your business. If you’re interested in a PR masterclass, please drop me an emails on halima@hkcommunications.co.uk.

For more information click here HK Communications

     

About Halima Khatun: Halima Khatun2

Halima Khatun is a London-based PR consultant with nearly ten years’ experience in consumer and B2B PR and communications, with a background in broadcast journalism (ITV and BBC).

Halima has worked for Bell Pottinger North, part of the largest PR group in the country, as well as providing PR consultancy for the UK’s leading private healthcare and social care providers respectively. She has also lead the communications and marketing function at an international NGO.  Amongst these big corporates and brand names, Halima has also worked with some brilliant SMEs and start-ups, helping them build their reputation at grass-roots level.

business finance tax advice

Accounting 101: 5 The Services of an Accountant

By | Accounting, Business Finance, How To, Small Biz Small Bitez, Small Business | No Comments

Our Small Biz, Small Bitez are a collection of posts on specific topics designed to deliver easy to read info which may not be so easy, but are essential that every entrepreneur knows when it comes to starting a business.

In Accounting 101 we’re demystify all that accountancy jargon so you can take control of your small business finances.

 Steven Marsh of Marsdens Chartered Accountants works closely with us at London Small Business Centre providing pro-bono work to our entrepreneurs. We asked Steven to flag up the absolute key essentials you need to know when it comes to the numbers game but without you having to plough through all the plethora of information that’s out there.

What Can I Expect From The Services of an Accountant?

 I am often asked by small business owners questions such as “Do I need an accountant?”, “Can I deal with my tax and accounts myself?”, “What can an accountant do for me?” and “Where can I find a good accountant?”.  I will address all of these questions and more in the following paragraphs.

What is the Role of an Accountant?

The very least that an accountant will do is to prepare your annual accounts and Tax Return for you and provide you with advice about your bookkeeping obligations and how to maintain your books.  But in practice, the role of an accountant is much greater than this.  A good accountant will be on hand in a proactive manner to offer you advice relating to your business and your tax obligations.  He or she will be up to date with tax law and provide information specifically for your business to ensure that you comply with tax and accounting rules and regulations and arrange your affairs in such a manner that will ensure that you pay the minimum amount of tax that you legally have to.  Additionally a good accountant will assist with exercises such as negotiating with your bank if your business requires finance or other bank facilities, meeting and liaising with any investors who want to buy into your business and dealing with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) not simply on the day to day routine matters, but on technical and detailed matters, for example if your business is unfortunate enough to be selected for a tax investigation – this is where HMRC take a much closer look at your business to see if your submitted figures and Returns are accurate.  This can result in your books and records and you in person, being called into the tax office for a detailed interview.

Do I Need an Accountant?

If you run your own small business, then legally, in most circumstances, you are permitted to deal with your affairs yourself, without using the services of an accountant.  In practice, most small businesses either appoint an accountant from the outset to assist them or do so after the first couple of years as their business starts to grown and their financial needs become more demanding.  If you choose not to use the services of an accountant, not only will you need to prepare your own figures and usually have to lodge them yourself on line with HMRC, but you will also be left wondering if you have completed them correctly and if you have claimed all the expenses and allowances that you are entitled to.

What Sort of Accountant Should I Look For?

The short answer is one that knows their stuff and one that you feel comfortable with.

Anybody can set up in business as an accountant – in my opinion, it is important to choose an accountant with a recognised qualification.  The two leading accountancy qualifications in the UK are Chartered Accountants (who in England have the letters FCA or ACA after their name) or Chartered Certified Accountants (who have the letters FCCA or ACCA after their name).  You can check if accountants have such qualifications by looking at their firm’s website and seeing how they describe themselves, or by going onto the website of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and keying in the accountant’s name to see if they show up as a member.

But having such a qualification is not, in itself, enough.  It does not guarantee that you have found the accountant who is right for you.

So What Else Should I Be Looking For In a Good Accountant?

Like many things in life, a successful outcome is built by having a good working relationship.  This is a two-way scenario.  You have to feel comfortable and have faith in your chosen accountant and likewise your accountant should do so in you and your business.

I strongly suggest that you meet with at least three accountants before you select one.  You should listen to what they say they can do for you.  Also, take a short list of questions to ask and maybe include a handful of slightly offbeat or technical questions to see how they respond.  You will soon be able to determine how well they know their subject and if they can think on their feet.  If they flounder, hesitate or look uncertain, that is not a good sign!

And finally, ask the accountant specifically what they can do to help you.  Why should you appoint them rather than the next accountant down the road?  See if they give you a credible answer or a bland and non-convincing answer.

And How Do You Suggest I Find a Good Accountant?

A good starting point is a personal recommendation.  If you have a friend or family member in business who uses the services of a qualified accountant, Ask them if they would recommend them and if so, you should consider putting them on your shortlist.  Additionally you could check the websites of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (www.icaew.com) or The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (www.accaglobal.com) and key in your local postcode to search for a firm in your area.

What Should I Ask a Prospective Accountant When I Meet Them?

Firstly, you should listen to what they say they can do to help you then ask questions such as:

  • How long have you been in practice?
  • Will you personally be looking after my affairs or will it be various other staff members?
  • Do you deal with many other clients in my trade category?
  • What areas of tax and accounting do you specialise in?
  • How do you keep up to date with the latest tax and accounting changes?

Then you may want to ask a few slightly more technical questions such as:

  • Can you explain the advantages and disadvantages of me being a Sole Trader or a Limited Company?
  • If there is more than one of you going into business consider asking: What are the pro’s and con’s of a traditional Partnership over a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)?
  • Is there any advantage in registering for VAT voluntarily before I am obliged to do so and can you tell me about the various VAT schemes available to small businesses?
  • I have heard of IR35.  Does it affect my business?  And regardless of the answer, out of interest ask, if it does affect a business, how can one protect themselves against it?

You will be able to gauge from the nature, flow and content of the accountant’s replies, whether they know the basics or are struggling.

And Finally, How Do I Decide Which Accountant To Appoint?

Any reputable accountant should give you an initial consultation free of charge and without obligation.  If they do not, move onto the next one.

Having met with at least three prospects, as suggested, listened to what each one says they can offer you and asked your various questions such as those referred to above, you will then have gone a long way to forming an opinion as to whom is the best one for you.  Accountancy fees are also an important factor to take into account and you should always ask each accountant to give you a fee quote and for them to put it in writing to you on their letterhead in order to avoid any future misunderstandings.  But one word of invaluable advice here and I say this from over 35 years of experience in the accountancy profession.  Please heed these words.  It may be tempting to go for the cheapest fee quote, but please do not base your decision on fees alone.  The accountant’s attitude, knowledge and ability and willingness to help you in a friendly, guiding manner is by far a more important set of factors to take into account.  There is an old adage that “A good accountant will save you money, not cost you money”, so take time to choose the right accountant for you and your business.  It really can make all the difference.  Good luck!

I hope you have enjoyed reading and learned some interesting facts from the articles I have been asked to write on this Blog and as always, if there are any questions, please feel free to contact me through the Marsdens website.

About Steven…

business advice

Steven is known amongst his many clients and family and friends, as being the accountant who “eats, sleeps and breathes tax and enjoys explaining to clients little known and easy to implement tax gems of advice that are not always publicised or much known about”. Aside from helping entrepreneurs with their businesses, he’s a serious collector of old comics, cigarette cards, autographs, original artwork, but mainly of rare British Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth postage stamps and related items.
If you’d like to have a quick chat with Steven about anything accounts related, drop him an email on: info@marsdensaccounting.co.ukcall: 01992 570015 or visit www.marsdensaccounting.co.uk.

Remember: Always seek specific advice for your business and your circumstances before you proceed in order to avoid any costly mistakes!

SEO

How to get your very own high-performing website

By | How To, Small Business, Small Business Tips | No Comments

Guest blog post – Rachel Hodges

Hopefully, whatever your business and its relationship with the web, you’re already a signed-up member of the ‘I know it’s worth having a website’ club. There’s no getting away from the fact that the first thing anyone will do when they want to find out more about you is read about it online and your website is your very own showcase.

All too often I hear from businesses who don’t feel confident about writing for the web, worry what they can do about SEO and are not sure about how to keep up with the competition.

Here’s your easy-to-follow action plan to help with all that.

Take a look at the competition

Whether you’re planning your first website or a site refresh a great place to start is to look at other websites out there. However, this isn’t an excuse to browse away a dull afternoon – you need to be analytical. Draw up a list of websites to compare and make sure they’re a mix of genuine competitors, businesses in your field but perhaps operating in another region, websites you just like and identify with.

Compare how their websites are organised; do some seem more logical than others or show off product more effectively. Have they taken the time to explain the products carefully rather than providing generic ‘sales’ patter generated by the supplier. Remember, search engines like websites to have original content and disapproval of duplication across websites. Also carefully compare any services being offered. Do these include options that your business could benefit from, particularly from out-of-area competitors.

Keeping up your standards

Remember when you’re choosing a style or theme for your website design that you’ll need to keep images, page content and news up to date so don’t choose anything too complicated. There’s nothing wrong with starting small and adding in more features over time.

Choose a business voice that’s right for you

As a copywriter I’ve had to learn how to write in the voice of all sorts of businesses, including luxury retail brands available at Selfridges and Harrods, online boutiques, communications companies, estate agencies and commercial plumbers. All have their own voice and you have to reflect this carefully by using words that are right for them individually.

Here’s what I mean:

The luxury market might prefer to use ‘bespoke’ or ‘tailored’, for the mid range it might be ‘exclusive’ or ‘just for you’ then even more direct would be ‘it’s a one-off’ or ‘suits you’.

When you’re looking at your competitor websites see what language they are using to describe themselves. What impression does that give you of the website? How does this compare with your own? If you’re not coming across as you’d like think about the range of words you’re using. How could you say things differently?

Keywords will help build your SEO

Yes, there is a lot to know about SEO and much of it is very technical and quite simply you probably don’t have enough hours in the day to keep up with it. However, your website content is a great place to start strengthening your SEO to help boost your position in search engines.

If you know the Google Keywords Planner or their Trends tools then they are a great source of keyword inspiration and data that you can get for various regions across the world, over varying lengths of time. Without these you can still do some useful research. Think about the words you’d use to search for your own business online and ask as many friends and family as possible the same. What variations do they come up with? Do you see trends forming and are you using these keywords in your web copy. And remember, using popular words just once is not enough. Add them to headings, web addresses, throughout the page, image names and if relevant use them as linking text to other areas of your website.

Read more about SEO in Rachel’s blog post on how working with SEO couldn’t be simpler.

Writing for the web is different

Remember, when writing for the web you’re not creating a business plan or essay. Short, to the point, and only the most salient details are needed. Website users have always been skim readers, and this has only got worse with tablet and start phone technology. Everything they need to know must be front-loaded to the top of the page. Then expand on the details as they scroll down adding in eye-catching headings and images to keep them glued to the page. Make linking text obvious if you’re creating links between your pages (BTW which is a good thing to do to help SEO) and never underline text that isn’t a link as people will try clicking it and think it’s a broken link as it doesn’t go anywhere.

 

Rachel Hodges – Copywriter and Content Strategist

Highly experienced, Rachel works with bportrait 02usinesses building their first website or those wanting to take their current site to the next level. She offers a complete copywriting service for digital and print, can build a voice for your business that is right for you and tackle your content SEO. Rachel loves helping others build their business profile and claim their place in the digital world. Find out more about Rachel and her work at www.rachelhodges.co.uk

 

 

Rachel is offering an hour’s free consultation around web content and SEO for your business until November 17th

Contact her by email on: rachel@rachelhodges.co.uk or call 07961 543 597.

 

 

PR edited

How PR can help you Boost your Business

By | Business Advice, Creative Business, Small Biz Small Bitez, Small Business, Small Business Tips, start up tips | No Comments

Guest Blog Post by Patricia Marcelino

If I was asked to define PR in just one word, I would definitely say: REPUTATION!!!

Public Relations are all about reputation – earning understanding and support from the public and enhancing the positive image it has about your business.

Quite often hundreds of hours of work (and money) are wasted by companies trying to convey a certain image to their target audiences and they will never achieve the goal, because not always the image conveyed by the companies is the same reflected on the minds of its targets.

Public Relations have the aim to communicate with the various publics and make them change perceptions towards the so desired good reputation. There has to be a two way effective communication and PR makes sure that the image transmitted to the targets is the same received – changing perceptions, if needed, to establish a good reputation.

And, as we want to make sure the efforts made towards the image you want your public to hold about you will prevail, PR campaigns will help the public to retain the image you want, therefore, you should use PR to enhance your business’ effectiveness.

Reputation by itself will be the trigger for the target audiences to choose your products or services in detriment of the ones from the competition.

PR uses many tools to help you do that, from press releases, going through events, social responsibility actions, writing reports, helping promoting services and products, plan for crisis communication, developing web contents and even… help increase your SEO results!

And for all that to work, you have to know your objectives, which will be the target audience, what messages to convey and in which channels you want to do so. Define your time scale for the actions and at last, but very important, identify the budget available for the campaign. In the end, in order to measure the efficiency of the results attained, you should always evaluate the results confronting them to the stage your business had before the campaign.

So, learning how to plan your own PR Campaigns will help you save time and money and boost your business.

Have a think about this!!!

Want to learn more – come to an Effective PR workshop at London Small Business Centre.

Patrícia Marcelino

PM Excel Group – Consultancy & Training

Business Show

The Four Pillars of Event Marketing

By | Accounting, Business Advice, Business Help, Communication, Creative Business, Inspiration, Small Business, Small Business Tips | No Comments

The rise of event marketing in reaching the peak of importance to a business’ selling strategy shows no sign of halting; the opportunity of going face-to-face with prospective customers gives it a distinguished edge over selling in the digital world, and delivers a direct, targeted and affordable way to communicate your vision and service.

Event marketing offers four outstanding reasons to be implemented into any business’ marketing arsenal:

Building professional relationships that are predicated on strong communication and smooth interaction is invaluable in obtaining customers. Event marketing offers a unique chance to personally promote your services and ambitions to your audience and engage with your demographic in the strongest, most natural way possible.

As with any form of marketing, talent is required to truly grasp the benefits event marketing brings. But dodging the pitfalls inherent in sales and marketing means you could be well on course to securing a long-term business relationship.

A variety of marketing is available through event marketing’s diverse nature. There’s a vast assortment of events out there, providing you with an abundance of options to promote your services.

Trade shows provide the largest and most exciting form of event marketing, offering a plethora of benefits, particularly through attracting more leads, enhancing your brand, and securing an increase in sales; they offer a fantastic platform for active marketing where you can interact and build valuable relationships with potential customers, suppliers or partners.

Seminars and workshops also contain fantastic benefits through the interactive element they bring as well as offering an environment where you can endear yourself to audiences by showcasing your expert knowledge and insight, and in turn build an enviable reputation that boosts your brand.

Web events may not offer as much as live events, but this form of gatherings also provide a return on your efforts; they too offer an opportunity to engage and interact with audiences whilst having little impact on your outgoing costs.

Securing leads is one of event marketing’s most prominent opportunities. With a strong and ambitious crowd you can potentially see a plenitude of work in return. If there’s a crowd there, there’ll be interest and opportunities for you to promote your service.

Embedding your brand into the public’s minds is one of event marketing’s key attributes. If done correctly, you have at your disposal a platform to promote your logo, slogan, and products to the customers you want to secure.

With your brand implanted in their mind, alongside the message and personal interaction you’ve had, the customer takes away with them the service you provide, the quality you offer and the vision you hold.

Event marketing is truly an excellent form of marketing and if planned and executed correctly it could potentially be one of the sharpest tactics available in your business strategy.

Do you want to reach an SME or Start-up Audience?

London Small Business Centre has recently partnered with The Business Show. It’s Europe’s largest trade show for SMEs and Start-ups with 25,000 visitors pouring into the Olympia, London for this incredible two day event.

If your business sells to other businesses then I can highly recommend The Business Show as a great avenue to sell your product or service. As Europe’s largest event for Startups and SMEs, the sheer number of business owners that come through the doors over the two days is unrivalled, making this a unique opportunity to gather hundreds of leads, build brand awareness and increase your client base.

The organisers have agreed to offer our readers an exclusive discount if they exhibit at the event this year. For full details on the exclusive discount and everything that’s included in the exhibitors package give Reg Chard a call on 0117 930 4927 or email reg.chard@prysmgroup.co.uk.

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The Business Show