How SMEs Can Combat the Cost-Of-Living Crisis by Breaking the Late Payment Cycle

Amid economic turmoil following the UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, late payments are on the rise, significantly impacting business survivability.  

Late payments not only have the potential to disrupt the equilibrium of a business, exacerbating profitability and cash flow management issues, but they also make it more difficult to retain staff by bridging the gap between cost-of-living standards and remuneration. 

The UK economy has resulted in one of the most significant declines in living standards since record began, putting a huge strain on SMEs. According to an FSB study, one in three business owners had an increase in late payments of invoices just last year, with another report finding that UK SMEs are spending upwards of one working week pursuing late payments. Interest rates, base rates and late payment fees all serve to exacerbate late payments but can also be the result of complex payment approval processes and cash flow mismanagement. In the current economic climate, keeping people employed and mitigating insolvency remains a challenging task for business owners. 

The root cause of late payments 

There are a multitude of ways the payment process architecture causes late payments, such as complexity within the payment approval process. For example, those who work within SMEs can be responsible for various operations and might not all have access to the business’s finances and consequently are not able to pay the supplier. This reinforces the need for an organised and systemic approval system that can streamline payments. In additional, manual processes, such as inefficiently streamlining invoices or too much of a reliance on these processes, become time-consuming and increase the potential for late payments.  

Late payments lead to business fragility  

As interest rates continue to rise, the Bank of England recently hiked the base interest rate to 3%, the largest increase in 30 years, it becomes harder for businesses to break the late payments cycle. For business-to-business transactions, businesses must pay the cost of interest on late payments (Statutory Interest), which within the UK is 8% of the owed amount, plus the Bank of England base rate. As interest rates get higher, it makes it even more difficult for businesses to pay invoices on time. Essentially, the longer the interest accrues, the higher the overall debt businesses owe, compounded by businesses having to also pay penalties for late payments.  

Reputations can be negatively impacted, affecting supplier-buyer relationships in the industry and beyond, by the late payments cycle. In turn, poor supplier relationships can cause delay in the delivery of promised products and services, resulting in businesses losing their competitive advantage or worse, their customers.  

Supplier relationships are integral to business survival. Additional perks such as preferential rates, premier access to new products, and exclusive or limited supplier offers are contingent on a good supplier/buyer relationship. This helps businesses deliver consistent quality to their customers and therefore gain a competitive edge. Consistent quality improves bottom-line profitability.  

How digital tools defend against late payments 

There is a solution to this late payment cycle – harnessing digital accounting tools to ensure their suppliers are paid on time and mitigate a complex approval system. These tools both allow payments to be scheduled and allow businesses to employ a proactive approach by making payments in bulk, two lines of defence that alleviate the risk of accidentally missing a payment. In addition, specific functions such as workflow approval, supplier/buyer management, cash flow monitoring, and invoice collection save businesses time when managing their finances and allow for visibility of all transactions. Subsequently, these preventative and proactive measures made possible by digital accounting tools maintain quality supplier-buyer relationships.  

Late payments threaten business survivability. Fortunately, streamlining business finances through digital accounting tools can reduce late payments and enable businesses to stay compliant and resilient to changing business needs. By adopting digital tools to improve cash flow management and profitability, businesses can stay competitive to be able to retain the best talent.  

By Glen Foster, Managing Director UK and Northern Europe, Libeo 

Glen Foster

How Does the Advertising Landscape Change Over the Festive Period?

Christmas is a period of festivity, merriment and giving – it’s also the perfect time for brands and advertisers to launch marketing campaigns and promote their products.

The entire run-up to Christmas and New Year is a marketing frenzy for brands and retailers around the World. When your advertising is spot on, Christmas can be the most lucrative time of the year for brands and businesses. From Black Friday to Boxing Day, the Christmas season is the most vital advertising period of the calendar.

If you’re wondering how the advertising landscape changes over the festive period, we’ll break it down for you in this article.

The power of Christmas advertising

Since advertising first came about, Christmas has always been an integral time of the year for brands and advertisers. After all, it’s the time of year when you can guarantee consumers of all types will be buying gifts for people of all ages – if your goods can be bought as gifts and can be consumed over the festive season, you want to make the most of advertising.

Most brands will have marketing and addressable tv ads intended for all year round as well as advertising tailored specifically for the Christmas period. Christmas is the most profitable period for retailers when they get their marketing right.

Recent studies from the Bank of England found that households spend £740 more in December than they do in subsequent months. Accordingly, the typical Christmas expenditure represents a 29% increase above monthly spending. However, the worsening cost-of-living crisis is set to see these figures reduced – although consumer spending will still be higher in this quarter of the year than others.

Increased sales mean the opportunity to boost sales with advertising

Christmas makes way for a huge increase in sales for a myriad of businesses and retailers since it’s a time when everyone is buying for many reasons – be it buying presents or purchasing mouthwatering cranberry sauce and stuffing for Christmas dinner.

In other words, Christmas is a huge opportunity for businesses, of all shapes and sizes, to generate a great number of sales and profit through the power of advertising. As much as your advertising needs to encourage consumers to buy your products or services over Christmas, you need to ensure that it is tailored to achieve long-term success too. By getting your name and products out there at Christmas, you might be able to attract long-term customers who stay with you for the long run.

Customers and messages matter more than sales pitches

While we’ve discussed that Christmas is the time when sales are booming, advertising tends to become less sales pitch-esque and more relatable and friendly. Advertisers generally focus more on the customers and the magic of Christmas, if you like, than their actual products and sales pitches when producing and displaying festive advertising.

Notice how most Christmas TV and video advertisements focus less on the brand itself and its products but more on depicting a heartfelt story with a message that spreads love or cheer over Christmas. Products can still feature in Christmas ads, but they’re never the main focus most of the time.

6 Reasons Small Businesses Should Consider OOH Advertising

The term ‘OOH advertising’ refers to out-of-home advertising — which, as the term suggests, appears in public places rather than, say, in magazines or on smartphone screens.

Good examples of OOH media include roadside billboards and bus shelters as well as digital screens in shopping centres. 

Furthermore, if your business is relatively small and — as a result — cash-strapped, OOH can constitute a surprisingly convenient advertising avenue for your firm. Here are several reasons why…

OOH ads can cut through the noise 

An online ad can too easily disappear under a deluge of other content, since these ads are placed where people are purposefully paying attention to things other than the ads.

Few people who casually peruse Google search results or a Facebook news feed, for example, are likely to look at the adjacent ads for very long. However, in the modern, media-saturated landscape, OOH ads can stand out simply due to being offline-based.

OOH ads can’t simply be skipped 

People can easily just scroll past ads on Google and Facebook, and might habitually click the ‘X’ button even on ads that take up a significant proportion of a webpage. 

Some people might even opt to install ‘ad blocker’ software to prevent online ads from appearing in the first place. In contrast, the physical nature of OOH ads makes them harder to ignore.

OOH ads garner trust 

In a study conducted in the UK, 40% of participants revealed that they trusted billboard and poster advertising, Statista reports.

This revelation particularly warrants attention given how disinformation and misinformation have blighted the image of social media, where many online ads are displayed. Through building trust, your small business can encourage its customers to make repeat purchases from it.

Research shows that OOH ads spur responses  

On average, some 45% of adults in the UK have admitted responding to outdoor ads in one manner or another. This figure is even higher when it comes to specific groups — like parents, Millennials and Londoners.

Many people have responded to out-of-home ads by searching for the advertised products, making online purchases and visiting stores. 

OOH ads are great for building brand awareness 

According to one statistic shared by Home Business, about 70% of outdoor ads promote local businesses. However, this social proof isn’t the only reason why your company should seriously consider renting billboard space.

This advertising tactic can easily pay for itself — and then some — by strengthening awareness of your brand. After all, during the time that this brand is featured on a billboard, many of the same people could keep passing it and seeing it — and remember your business as a result.

It’s delightfully easy to get started with OOH advertising  

If you run a start-up, you could take advantage of Clear Start — the start-up accelerator programme run by Clear Channel, a major provider of UK ad space.

Since the company’s network of OOH ads reaches 93% of the UK, there is likely to be Clear Channel-maintained OOH advertising space for you to rent in your firm’s geographic coverage area.

How to Maximise Your Marketing Budget

SME owners could easily be excused for feeling envious of people running much larger firms. According to statistics shared by Website Magazine, while the average larger business pours about 9-12% of its revenue back into marketing, the average small business can end up spending just 2% on marketing.

However, while your SME might be at a financial disadvantage straight away, you can still utilise various clever tips and tricks for making the most of your marketing budget.

Make sure you have both data and goals 

If you fail to set specific corporate goals, your financial expenditure could turn out to be rather inefficient. However, before you do set goals, you should be careful to define your target audience lest you market in a manner that doesn’t reach or resonate with your prospects.

While it would bode well for your business to be data-driven or at least data-informed, no amount of data will be useful for you if you are unsure how to use it wisely.

Make social media a key part of your promotional drive 

The idea of engaging heavily in social media marketing is immediately attractive on the basis that social media can be used without requiring any upfront fee. You can also use social to post marketing content instantaneously, mine significant amounts of data, and generate leads. 

Indeed, in a 2017 survey of marketers, 92% said that they deemed social media important to their business. Meanwhile, 78% revealed that, by using social media, they had increased traffic for their business.

Collaborate with other brands complementary to your own 

The genius of this particular strategy is that it would enable you to offload at least some of the financial burden inevitably incurred with a marketing campaign for your business.

You also might not struggle to find willing would-be collaborators, as your brand isn’t just about your own company’s offerings — it’s also about the broader ecosystem surrounding them. This ecosystem will include products or services offered by companies other than your own.

Apply the Pareto Principle 

As explained in an Entrepreneur article, the above is “also known as the 80/20 rule”, and is where you would “identify the top 20% of your traffic sources that generate 80% of good results”. You would then focus your budget on those most lucrative sources.

As further explained in the article: “Especially for smaller budgets, it is often times more effective to allocate it on the 10% that is generating 90% of results.” 

Keep your brand seamless across various marketing channels 

You might already be accustomed to delivering an ‘omnichannel’ experience, where you interact with customers via multiple channels. These can include a website, social media accounts, and physical stores run by your company.

As revealed by McKinsey research findings shared in a LinkedIn article, omnichannel shoppers buy 70% more frequently and spend 34% more compared to people shopping in stores.

However, you should make sure that your marketing messages are consistent across all promotional channels used by your business — as, otherwise, your brand value could be needlessly hampered.

7 Ideas for SMEs to Weather Increasing Inflation

This year, UK consumer price inflation has reached 10.1% — its highest rate for over four decades, as the Startups website reports. Unsurprisingly, the increased inflation has taken its toll on SMEs — but, if you run one, you can still steer it towards a financially healthy course. 

Here are several steps you can take to help lessen the strain of inflation on your SME.

Increase prices, but be judicious about it 

Claire Tasker, founder of the Hertfordshire-based business Claire Tasker Jewellery, recently told the Startups website: “I really don’t want to have to raise my prices but, long term, my current prices just aren’t sustainable.” 

If you are in Claire’s position, you could think about raising prices only gradually, and ideally on your less popular products or services.

Switch to a subscription-based payment model 

With financial experts having warned that we can expect high inflation for the long haul, you could consider beginning to offer a range of subscription-based pricing plans.

That way, you can budget more confidently for the future, as you will have a better idea of how your corporate finances should shape up over the coming months.

Rent a serviced office 

The Startups website defines a serviced office as “a workspace which comes ready-furnished, with internet and phone lines preconnected and devices already equipped.” When you rent a serviced office, the office provider can handle the facilities management costs. 

SMEs don’t even have to compromise with the visual appeal of their workspaces; consider, for example, the case of the serviced offices in Belfast’s recently refurbished Custom House.

Audit your staff and their working hours 

Another good reason to consider renting a serviced office is that it could give you more flexibility in how you are able to scale your workplace up and down in response to staffing changes.

Alas, you might feel more inclined to drop employees than recruit them in the current economic climate. However, one alternative cost-saving strategy could be to simply rein in existing employees’ work hours.

Reassess your profit margins 

This advice comes from ecommerce entrepreneur Sam Barrante, who adds as quoted by American Express: “Start by reevaluating your costs and then analyse what margins you are facing in today’s economy.”

The next step would be to “start looking into solutions to increase those margins, while continuing to ensure quality products and services.” 

Stock up on supplies in advance 

Since you can’t be certain that inflation won’t be even worse a few weeks or months from now, it could prove financially convenient for you to source various core materials early, before they get a chance to increase even more in price.

Prepare for an influx of new customers 

“Inflationary periods are unnerving to many,” Stuart Robles, the co-author of The New World of Entrepreneurship: Insiders’ Guide to Buying and Selling Your Own Business in the Digital Age.

“As a result, customer segments and market niches previously unreachable can become attainable as your company is seen as a beacon of light in terms of potential lower prices and rates.”

Advantages of Monitoring Your Own Website

By Rasa Sosnovskytė, Head of SEO and Growth Marketing at Oxylabs

Any company website, in its entirety, belongs to a wide range of teams and owners. Everyone, from C-level executives to customer support, hold some stake in how the content is distributed, what is displayed, and what should take priority. Over time, more stakeholders continue to be added as a company expands its operations.

While these ownerships are a natural course of evolution for businesses, they present a unique headache to SEO teams. Maintaining order and best practices across a sprawling website gets harder over time as SEO experts hold claim over all parts of the website.

Inevitably, some changes will go unnoticed, be miscommunicated, or otherwise lost as everyone adds a piece they deem important. As a result, SEO teams are faced with a dilemma where they have to monitor the website without indulging in the micromanaging of others.

Changes keep compounding

Working with the idea that all teams will diligently report all the proposed changes to the SEO team is a bit naive. After all, not all changes may seem so important that they would warrant disturbing someone else’s work. Some changes may seem purely technical and, to a person without SEO knowledge, outside the scope of optimization.

So changes inevitably slip by accidentally and non-maliciously. Over time, minor changes or missed opportunities (such as a misformed meta title, an erroneous canonical URL, and many others) will start piling up, and the SEO health of the website will start buckling.

Sometimes even major changes might slip by, such as a change in the header or footer. Most teams will rarely attribute the same importance to these parts of the website as we do, so the changes will seem insignificant.

Enumerating all cases and events where changes might go unnoticed is nearly impossible. I think everyone can remember a time when something important had been changed without ever being brought up.

Neither can all the potential impact be outlined. Everything can happen – from minor drops in performance to an algorithmic penalty. So, there’s a good reason to keep everything in check to ensure that all changes follow SEO best practices.

Unfortunately, that puts SEO teams in a tricky situation. There’s no way to establish a role that monitors changes effectively. Even if such an approach were viable, that would essentially mean hiring a dedicated micromanager for other teams. We all know where that would lead to.

Establishing strong processes for information sharing is a viable option, but it doesn’t solve the issues mentioned above. Unless every team in the company has a great understanding of SEO, minor changes will still slip by. Information sharing processes, though, will likely prevent significant changes from going unnoticed.

Automation, I believe, is the answer to the issue. Most of us take huge strides to monitor the performance of our competitors, keep a watchful eye on their changes, and analyze any new content that crops up. So, why not do the same for ourselves?

Getting started with automation

There are various ways to implement self-monitoring tools that would notice any inadvertent or unsolicited changes. For the tech-savvy and daring, web scraping can be relatively easily applied to an owned website.

Web scraping usually runs into issues due to CAPTCHAs and IP bans as the process naturally sends thousands of requests. None of them, however, are as pressing if you own the website. Any running monitoring bot can have its IP address whitelisted to avoid bans and CAPTCHAs.

Additionally, scraping solutions break often due to unexpected layout shifts or major design revamps. Neither of these issues are as pressing when you’re running a scraper on your own website as they happen less unexpectedly.

So, building one is significantly easier than it regularly is and won’t even necessitate the usage of proxies, which usually runs up costs. Basic parsing solutions like BeautifulSoup can be included, although not necessary.

Monitoring website changes with a homemade scraper isn’t difficult either. All it takes is to collect the data and run a comparison against one stored previously. With a few loops, any difference, if it exists, can be outputted for review.

But taking such strides is not necessary, especially if budgets aren’t a concern. There are plenty of ready-made tools on the market that do just what I described above, except they also include numerous quality of life features.

Personally, I’ve used ContentKing ever since it launched a few years ago. Not for any particular commercial or marketing reasons done by the company behind it, but because of one feature I hold dearly – real-time alerts.

Additionally, with pre-built monitoring tools, you get various useful integrations into other software, which minimizes the time spent working through large backlogs of data. All of these features could be built into a homemade scraper, but it’s a lot easier with existing toolsets.

Conclusion

Each website change can potentially have both a positive and negative impact on a website’s performance. As many stakeholders who lay claim to the content and its distribution won’t be SEO experts, changes can be made without receiving a notice.

To avoid any long-term issues with such changes, monitoring tools should be implemented. They can help us counteract any potential performance hits while enabling the team to have a constantly fresh understanding of the state of the website.

Best Accessibility Inclusive Design Company 2022


Based in St Austell, Cornwall, Enable Accessibility CIC helps people with disabilities to enjoy greater freedom and access. We speak to the firm’s Founder, Jamie Hanlon, as it is rewarded with such a respected award.

Established by Jamie Hanlon, Enable Accessibility CIC hires accessibility equipment and offers consultation and design services through its experienced and qualified experts.

“Through design, I want to make a difference,” Jamie explains. “To fit around your life and what you need. Good design is a powerful way to improve the quality of life in your home and business.”

Jamie is highly qualified and experienced in his work as an interior design specialist and inclusivity and access design consultant. He has more than 15 years of residential property experience, six years of commercial property experience, and over six years’ of experience as an access audit consultant.

Having lived with hearing impairment for more than 30 years and having been involved with a wide range of charities supporting people with disabilities and different needs, Jamie can readily understand the needs of a wide range of people and create designs to cater for their requirements.

“My passion is focused on helping to create a space that is unique to your needs, aesthetically pleasing but also functional, whilst ensuring equal access for all,” he enthuses. “I excel at looking at commercial buildings, office spaces, holiday accommodation, hotels, open spaces, and homes, always thinking about how I can make them more inclusive to fit the needs of someone with accessibility issues whilst enhancing the aesthetic appeal and functionality.”

Enable Accessibility is committed to providing a unique blend of disability awareness, legal knowledge, and specialist interior design ‘know-how’, working with large and small businesses, the public sector, local government, charities and voluntary organisations, and private homeowners too.

The term ‘inclusive design’ is defined by the British Standards Institute (BSI, BS8300) as “the design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible – without the need for special adaption or specialised design.” It furthers on this definition by saying that it is not simply a stage that can be added in the design process, and it is not solely about designing products for a specific capability loss.

“Accessibility isn’t easy to define, as it depends on each person’s specific needs,” Jamie elaborates. “Society is made up of individuals, and inclusive design can bring forth interesting perspectives – ultimately changing our horizons and the landscape around us.”

In order to fit a home or work building around a person’s requirements, Enable Accessibility will first conduct an audit to cover all elements and very much following the ‘journey’ of the individual with a disability. This addresses things such as approach to a building and car parking, entrances, receptions, and corridors. This can also deliver for lifts and stairs, internal doors, toilets, signage, communication, and escape routes or fire exits.

As part of the audit service, Jamie and the Enable Accessibility team will help building owners to understand the term ‘reasonable adjustment’ and will provide them with practical assistance and practical recommendations for improvement based on current regulations and advice.

Once this is completed and the findings discussed, a design consultant will be able to assist in ensuring that the project delivers its contractual obligations.

“I want you to look around a building and consider, for a brief moment, what steps have been taken during its design and build to allow the structure to be accessible and usable by ‘as many people as possible,’” Jamie states. “Can you also honestly say that if a friend or colleague had a life-changing incident, would they still be able to visit you?”

In the UK, it is thought that some seven million people of working age have a disability, which all adds up to an awful lot of spending power. This is known as the “purple pound” and is reckoned to be worth around £274bn to the economy. If you make your business more inclusive, you will make more money. It really is that simple.

Recently, Enable Accessibility was recognised in the Southern Enterprise Awards 2022 and rewarded for its hard work with the title of Best Accessibility Inclusive Design Company 2022. This prestigious accolade is a testament to the dedication and commitment of Jamie and the whole team as they work towards a more inclusive society.

For business enquiries, contact Jamie Hanlon from Enable Accessibility CIC via email – [email protected] or on their website – http://accessibilitycornwall.uk

The Advantages to Trading using MetaTrader 4

What is MetaTrader 4?

MT4 is a trading platform that brings a host of unique tools and functions to trading indexes, stocks, CFDs, commodities and Forex. As it can be tailored to suit a range of needs, even brokers can use it instead of their own proprietary platforms to remain competitive and on top of the latest trends. All a trader will need to do is download MT4, either directly from the website or from their broker’s, and start making the most of what’s on offer.

The advantages of using MT4

1. Real-time access to market prices

One of the top features of MT4 is the ability to access the most up-to-date trading information with real-time currency quotes and estimates with the Depth of Market feature. This depicts aspects of market activity, such as the buy orders for numerous currency pairs. Traders can use other vital data portrayed in the ‘Watch Window’, such as margin ratio, contract size, margin currency, spread and more.

2. A user-friendly interface 

This platform was designed with usability in mind, so that traders of all skill levels will be able to get involved with little fuss. Supporting a host of strategies, two ways to carry out trades, automatic triggers, charts, trailing stop orders, access to personal trading history, unlimited technical tools, demo-trading capabilities, educational resources and simple-to-use controls; it’s flexible and straightforward to use.

3. Automated trading options

Traders have the ability to set automated trading algorithms to minimise emotional bias and time spent trading when other things can be taken care of.

4. Stability and accessibility

There is little to no downtime with MetaTrader 4, so you’re not likely to miss worthwhile trades due to freezing or similar functionality issues. As a result, trade executions are fast and have little chance of slippage. Traders can use the platform on a multitude of devices, so you can trade whenever and however you want on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

The mobile app features:

  • Interactive graphing, sorting and analytical functions
  • Push alerts
  • Real-time communication

5. Expert advisors 

When you want to execute trades automatically, diversify your portfolio and more, there are a host of Expert Advisors to choose from. This gets even better when you learn that each will be uniquely designed to meet your trading needs and that you can even create your own and run it with little difficulty.

6. Security

As security is a major concern where your financial assets are concerned, you’ll be pleased to know that MT4 is not only reliable, but secure. All information is encrypted (including IP addresses), RSA digital signatures are supported and as the platform is global, it complies with a host of location-based.

The cons

As this is such a widely-used platform, there are of course some downsides that need to be considered before downloading and using MT4. Some users report difficulty when tailoring the platform to their needs, as some programming knowledge is required. Some also find that the platform is better suited to businesses and brokerages than the individual trader and this can prompt them to use the proprietary software provided by their own trading platform instead. Recent updates seem to have caused some discourse in the community also, and the structures of Fibonacci charts and trend lines have become a little less accessible.  

The final downside is that customer service seems to be lacking and can be considered the most frustrating issue of the platform.

Risk management

As trading can be volatile, it’s essential carry out research into the latest market data news for industries you’re looking to trade in. Make use of demos accounts as well as stop losses to protect yourself from losses.

Overall thoughts on MetaTrader 4

With all of the above in mind, this platform does have some worthwhile advantages alongside notable disadvantages, but it is still one of the most widely used trading platforms out there. It’s important to do your research and consider your trading needs before downloading it, so click here to find out more about MetaTrader 4 to ensure you’ll get the best from your trading efforts.

Disclaimer:
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. The vast majority of retail client accounts lose money when spread betting and/or trading CFDs. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Marketing for CFDs and spread betting is not intended for US citizens as prohibited under US regulation.

Occupational Health Practice of the Year 2022 – South West 

Platinum Occupational Health Ltd is a confidential and independent service led by Consultant Occupational Health Physician and Medical Director, Dr Martin Ezan and Operations Director, Robyn James.

Platinum Occupational Health Ltd has been supporting businesses and their employees since 2018. Based in Bristol, the company provides a full range of services to help its clients keep their employees healthy, safe and in work.

The company’s leading focus is to offer impartial advice to companies and their employees on the impact of health on work and work on health.

Platinum Occupational Health Ltd aims to assist employers to put measures in place to manage ill health effectively, whilst involving employees and promoting good health and wellbeing for enhanced productivity.

Their occupational health service exists to improve the health of their clients work force, help prevent work related illnesses, provide early interventions for those who develop a health condition thus, preventing avoidable sickness absence and increase the efficiency and productivity of their clients’ organisations.

Their values for success are based on the principles of accountability, fairness and integrity, whilst using client’s feedback to optimise the efficiency in every step of their Occupational Health journey. In short, Platinum Occupational Health Ltd provides their clients with an efficient high value service at a reasonable price point.

Platinum Occupational Health Ltd is a relatively unique entity within the Occupational Health Industry, being an Associate Occupational Health Physician and Consultant based business. They do not employ Nurses or Technicians, like many of their competitors. They are completely committed to their business model and the opportunities of being exposed to individual complex cases within many organisations including, Corporate, Fire Service, Local Government, NHS, Police Service and Tertiary Education.           

The Occupational Health Industry in general is experiencing an increase in demand. It has certainly been their experience throughout COVID-19. Having the opportunity to support their clients through these uncertain times, has been challenging. Nonetheless, they are grateful for the experience and loyalty they have obtained and received individually, and as a Team.

Platinum Occupational Health Ltd is based on the M4 / M5 corridor, which is accessible for commuter’s and has plenty of green space to explore. The Team enjoys the networking occasions their location in the South West has produced.

Platinum Occupational Health Ltd are a close Team, having known and worked with each other for many years, their sound professional foundation has allowed them to create an Occupational Health Company, where they not only have the clinical and business skills required to run an organisation in this sector, but the ability to provide exceptional customer service for every client.

Recently, Platinum Occupational Health Ltd has increased their Team with an additional Associate Occupational Health Physician, a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) And a Quality Specialist. They all bring immeasurable amounts of knowledge gained within the Occupational Health Industry and beyond.

Platinum Occupational Health Ltd achieved their certifications for ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 in June 2022 and have maintained their Cyber Essentials certification for the second year running. Alongside this, they are working towards their Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Service (SEQOHS) accreditation.

The remainder of 2022 will be concentrated on continued improvement, as they have been doing since 2018. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is important to them on an individual and Team basis. They are continually applying, improving and learning.

The Team is looking forward to celebrating Platinum Occupational Health Ltd’s Fifth Birthday on the 2nd January 2023.

For business enquiries contact Platinum Occupational Health Ltd via email – [email protected] or on their website – www.platinumoccupationalhealth.co.uk

Best Unique Property Agency – Bedfordshire

Established in 2017, Homes2Homes is a highly reputable estate agent providing competitive sales, lettings, and property management services to match every need of its clients. With a ‘treat every home as if it’s your own’ approach, it prides itself on delivering unparalleled levels of service, professionalism, and transparency to ensure a smooth, attentive, and seamless lettings and management process for landlords and tenants alike.

Located in Toddington, Bedfordshire, Homes2Homes’ aim is to be the best at what it does in order to make sure that not only its clients are happy, but also everyone working at the business. With a proven track record, many referrals, and renewal tenancies, it quickly became the preferred property agent in its village, while also serving the rest of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and London, along with multiple boroughs throughout the east of England.

Director of Homes2Homes, Mumin Muqtadir tells us about the benefit of the business’ location in the south of England: “The main benefit of being based in the south is that there are a lot of new developments around. This has led to us managing a full block of flats. Also, people are selling their current homes to buy new ones, which means more management contracts are coming through.”

Homes2Homes’ popularity is shown through a long list of five-star reviews from clients, tenants, vendors, and buyers, with the agent understanding the importance of reviews and how they have helped it to gain more and more customers. People value a business with top reviews, and Homes2Homes’ reviews show just how above and beyond it is willing to go in order to get the job done – whatever the job may be.

One delighted client comments, “Homes2Homes are brilliant. They have been managing my six properties now for over three and a half years. I cannot fault them; they are outstanding. I recommend them to everyone. They were very fast in getting my properties let to. I have attended my properties recently and they have been kept in excellent condition.”

Another client shares, “Homes2Homes are an exceptionally outstanding estate agent. In all honesty, with them being a small agency, I didn’t think they would be able to sell my property, but they did and they did fast. I recommend them highly now to all my friends and family. Always speak to Mumin or Naomi – They get the job done.”

A third client says, “I purchased a property from Homes2Homes. From the initial viewing and up to the completion day, I had regular updates via email and telephone. In my opinion, good old-fashioned values and courtesy. Homes2Homes certainly out-performed one of the national estate agents who sold my original property.”

Contributing to such outstanding service from Homes2Homes is the culture of teamwork that is upheld within the team. Each and every employee makes an important contribution to the agent’s offering, always working together to ensure clients get the best results and that they are satisfied with their experience. The team works hard to make sure that both tenants and landlords realise the maximum value and benefit, supported by the company’s extensive database of desirable applicants.

All of Homes2Homes’ staff are trained and given the same opportunities to develop and grow within the business. Mumin says, “It’s essential for me to ensure that everyone is treated with the same respect and fairness, as this essentially then feeds into working together as a team. I ensure that staff understand what we can do for customers, so they feel confident when picking up queries and being able to sell our services.”

When it comes to adding new staff to his team Mumin says, “It’s important for me to look for someone who is passionate with their work, has a growth mindset, and is an honest and hardworking individual.”

Now, Mumin and his team’s plans for the remainder of 2022 are to open two franchise offices in order to expand the business in the future through franchising. Mumin will also be looking to expand the business by recruiting and opening offices in other regions, for example, there are prospects up north in Harrogate that are yet to solidified.

Indeed, Homes2Homes has proved itself worthy of the title of Best Unique Property Agency – Bedfordshire, between its extraordinary work, sterling reputation among customers, and great ambition for the future. We are truly rooting for the agent and look forward to seeing its continued success.

For business enquiries, contact Mumin Muqtadir from Homes2Homes via email – [email protected] or on their website – www.homes2homes.co.uk

Is PR Still Relevant in 2022?

Ever thought about where public perceptions about PR come from? For many people, it’s 1990s/early 2000s pop culture – where PR is shown to be all about long champagne lunches with clients, glamourous product launch parties, and the famous ‘little black book’ of contacts.

Today, marketing activity increasingly takes place online, and the power of SEO, Pay Per Click, influencer marketing and targeted social media ads has left many business owners wondering whether PR has become irrelevant. If they can amplify their message to millions through targeted social media ads, and get their website to the top of their audience’s search results – why would they need PR?

Harriette Bond, PR and Content Director at PMW Communications, discusses:

“The historical portrayal of PR in pop culture is certainly not accurate in 2022. People often reference the sitcom ‘AbFab’ – which is definitely not an accurate depiction of PR at all!

“Just as the media has changed dramatically in the last decade, so has PR. Digital media and technology have changed the media landscape, resulting in more media outlets and greater opportunities to measure PR activity. PR can also support an SEO strategy. At the same time, the traditional media is still a highly trusted and much-loved source of information for many consumers, so traditional PR activities – like pitching to newspapers, magazines, television, and radio – are still alive and well.

“However, for nearly all our clients, traditional PR activity takes place alongside a digital PR strategy. Far from being irrelevant, the opportunity to take advantage of new forms of media and support marketing activity in other areas like social media and SEO, means PR campaigns are more creative – and more technical – than ever.”

Here are five reasons why PR is still relevant in 2022:

Customers spend many hours per day consuming media

A 2022 survey by eMarketer found that the UK population spent an average of 6hrs 6mins consuming digital media and 4hrs 8mins consuming traditional media (this included multitasking – such as listening to the radio while driving or scrolling on social media while watching TV). Brands need to be where their customers are – and it’s clear that consumers are interacting with a huge amount of both traditional and digital media every day.

Each type of media attracts a different demographic – giving brands a great opportunity to focus their PR campaigns on the outlets their target audience is interacting with.

PR enhances credibility

Every business wants a positive brand image. Companies can shout about how great they are themselves, or pay for advertisements, but what really builds credibility is when someone else says how great a brand is.

According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of business decision-makers would rather gather their information through articles, than through advertisement, and 70% of consumers would rather get to know a company via articles than ads.

PR is all about getting other people (aka. unbiased, third-party media outlets that consumers trust) to speak positively about a brand. This enforces a business’s credibility and builds an excellent reputation among their industry and their customers.

Digital PR builds backlinks

Backlinks represent a ‘vote of confidence’ from one site to another and are a crucial pillar of good SEO. A digital PR campaign is one of the best ways to achieve high-quality backlinks. PR professionals will embed relevant links into press releases and outreach articles. People reading the article may follow the links – but the real win is that these links help a site to become more visible. Credible backlinks are a primary Google ranking factor, so having lots of them in the right places can help a site climb up the Google rankings.

PR and social media are a match made in heaven

Social media is the most influential of all the new forms of media that have emerged since the advent of the internet. And the good news is, PR and social media campaigns do not need to be separate – in fact, they complement each other brilliantly. Social media can boost PR’s efforts to share information and build trust in your brand.

Remember Doritos’ Wimbledon-inspired Strawberries and Cream flavoured crisps, or Lynx’s Marmite scented social distancing body spray? A great PR stunt can go even further than it could in the past – by creating a buzz on social media. Check out these examples of PR stunts that went viral.

Content is king

Whether it’s through blogs, thought leadership articles, case studies, or opinion pieces, having a constant flow of original content benefits businesses enormously.

According to research by HubSpot, B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms – and 68% of consumers like reading content from a brand that interests them.

PRs are experts at producing great content for their clients – demonstrating expertise and providing added value through great content that has a real impact on a customer’s purchasing decisions.

PR professionals can also work alongside an SEO team to create keyword-rich website articles that answer the questions their clients’ customers are asking online – increasing relevant web traffic and providing greater opportunities for leads and sales.

SME News Reveals the 2022 Winners of the Southern Enterprise Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – SME News is pleased to announce the winners of the Southern Enterprise Awards.

Entrepreneurs and multi-sized enterprises throughout the South of the UK are not only surviving, but they are flourishing in the face of any adversity. Evolving to support such a diverse selection of industries and trends, they are thriving!

Either starting up during the pandemic or expanding throughout this challenging time, the winners of these sublime awards have earned themselves a spot at the top. The Southern Enterprise Awards 2022 is full of seasoned experts sharing their homemade produce, educational aid, consultancy skills, workflow automation solutions, and much more. We would love to congratulate all of the winners as they soar to great heights.

Our Awards Coordinator, Jessie Wilson, commented on the magnificent success of the winners in this supplement: “I am proud to present the Southern Enterprise Awards, and all of the business featured here. We wish them all the best for the future as they continue to alter the corporate landscape for the South of the UK.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated enterprises that have been selected for them, please visit https://www.sme-news.co.uk/awards/uk-southern-business-awards/ where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.

ENDS

About SME News

SME News draws on our UK wide network of industry insiders to provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape.

Alongside our quarterly publication we also offer an easy-to-use website, newsletter, and a series of awards programmes, making SME News much more than just a magazine, but instead a vital resource.

Bought to you by AI Global Media, the international provider of corporate news and information, this unique magazine is the perfect resource for the CEOs, leaders and decision makers in the UK based SMEs looking to keep their finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the competition.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

SME News Magazine Reveals the Winners of the 2022 Welsh Enterprise Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – SME News is thrilled to announce the winners of the annual Welsh Enterprise Awards.

2022 has seen an influx of small and medium enterprises expand and thrive even in the face of adversity. Either starting out or simply continuing their long journeys, these companies have all defied the odds of the pandemic, cost of living crisis, and all other possible challenges. The realm of business in Wales has broadened horizons for people everywhere, and we are pleased to see these inspirational businesses flourish. From dog training to agricultural technology, house improvements to workplace mediation, and more, this supplement showcases a number of leading companies making a huge impact on their industries.

The Welsh Enterprise Awards programme is here to celebrate and congratulate Welsh businesses that are not only improving people’s lives now, but they are inevitably influencing the future of business. SME is delighted to showcase this superb selection of companies that have earned such prestigious accolades – all received due to their tenacity, flexibility, and impressive contribution to the world.

Our Awards Coordinator, Kaven Cooper, has expressed true pride on the success of this year’s Welsh Enterprise Awards programme: “I am honoured to host this year’s edition of the Welsh Enterprise Awards programme, and I would like to sincerely congratulate each of these winners as they have influenced the richness of the corporate landscape in Wales and beyond.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated enterprises that have been selected for them, please visit https://www.sme-news.co.uk/awards/welsh-enterprise-awards/ where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.

ENDS

About SME News

SME News draws on our UK wide network of industry insiders to provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape.

Alongside our quarterly publication we also offer an easy-to-use website, newsletter, and a series of awards programmes, making SME News much more than just a magazine, but instead a vital resource.

Bought to you by AI Global Media, the international provider of corporate news and information, this unique magazine is the perfect resource for the CEOs, leaders and decision makers in the UK based SMEs looking to keep their finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the competition.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Opportunities for SMEs in Metaverse

As the metaverse evolves, global conglomerates expand their reach into the virtual sphere. CEO at Crypto House Capital, Tomas Nascisonis, explains how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can also take advantage of extended reality (XR) technologies by creating digitally immersive websites and owning virtual real estate.

Larger business entities have adopted extended reality (XR) technologies into their infrastructures, broadening the possibilities of the digital customer experience. A growing number of devices and digital platforms also now feature virtual spaces with fully immersive environments, a technological expansion broadly defined as the metaverse.

As interest in digital realms grows at larger scales, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) question the benefits and feasibility of entering the metaverse. CEO at Crypto House Capital, Tomas Nascisonis, highlights two ways SMEs can leverage the opportunities of the metaverse: creating immersive websites and using virtual real estate for workspaces.

Next-gen technology for better UX

Larger companies have already incorporated gamification into the customer journey, combining elements of online shopping, mobile gaming, and customizable avatars. According to Nascisonis, SMEs could gain a competitive edge by not staying behind, as having a virtual presence would not cost more than designing a standard website and requires no tech experience to operate. That said, the final cost, required equipment, and technical know-how will depend on the pursued depth of customer interaction and the extent of output rendered.

“I would advise starting with an introductory presence in the metaverse and then expanding on demand, which can be limitless compared to two-dimensional online spaces. As the technology grows, the metaverse will be the representation of choice for companies that want to stay relevant.”

Owing to recent technological breakthroughs, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) equipment have grown more accessible, allowing for mixing in spatially rendered 3D content into the digital customer experience. With this in mind, as time goes on, SMEs could grow their metaverse space and display products and services within a virtual showroom, sidestepping the need for face-to-face interaction while simultaneously opening avenues for innovations in marketing and customer engagement.

“Interactive websites offer a unique way for customers to experience your product or service in an interactive fashion, which offers much more creative freedom than traditional web design,” says Nascisonis.

Virtual workspaces to boost engagement

Apart from the customer-facing benefits of the metaverse, virtual real estate, or metaspaces, could offer an alternative to traditional workspaces. As the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the workforce into hybrid or fully-remote work settings, many employees now occupy different geographic locations, posing the problem of scheduling meetings for employees in different time zones while also maintaining engagement. 

“One potential use for virtual real estate is a virtual office space and meeting rooms for collaborative work. As more businesses go remote, there is a growing demand for virtual office spaces that offer all the amenities of a traditional office without the overhead costs, which could include features like video conferencing capabilities, shared workspaces, and even private offices for rent. And since it exists entirely online, a virtual office could be located anywhere in the world, with meetings taking place all at once or asynchronously.”

Nascisonis concludes by predicting that hosting a meeting in the metaverse, as opposed to apps like Zoom, would provide effortless, worldwide communication, as people could express themselves through avatars and interact in virtual rooms immersive enough to simulate real-world environments.

UK SME Companies Run by Women are Less Likely to go Insolvent Than Companies Run by Men

The statistics show that businesses with 2 or more directors that are women have a lower rate of insolvency with a rate of 0.59% for women-dominated boards versus 0.84% for male-dominated boards.  So, companies were 42% more likely to become insolvent if their board is made up of 75% men or more. Last time KSA Group researched this in 2018 it was nearer 70% more likely. For single male director companies, the insolvency rate was still 30% higher than female at 1.08% compared to 0.77%

What has been shown though, perhaps not surprisingly, is that the overall insolvency rate for all businesses has increased when compared to 2018.  For male dominated businesses the rate has increased from 0.34% of all businesses to 0.84% and for women run businesses it has increased from 0.20% to 0.59%.  This broadly reflects the pattern of increased numbers of insolvencies following the pandemic.

Key findings in 2021/22

  • Insolvency rate is up to 40% higher in male run companies
  • 4 times as many companies are run by majority men than women
  • Overall insolvency rate in both groups has increased by a factor of 200%

What conclusions can we draw from these findings? 

Robert Moore at KSA Group said; “It is apparent that the insolvency rate is higher in male run businesses, but this may be due to a number of factors that have nothing to do with whether men are less effective at running businesses than women.  It may well be that the businesses that tend to be more likely to become insolvent due to the nature of the industry or recent economic events are coincidently run by men.”

  • The study found that property letting businesses and hospitality were overly represented in the data set of female-dominated businesses that have become insolvent.  For male-dominated businesses construction was the most represented industry with 16% of those companies going insolvent but for women it was 5%

We do not have the data on the overall percentage of each industry across all active companies so it is difficult to draw conclusions on whether this is a sector specific problem.  It should be noted that the gap between the performance of men and women run businesses has narrowed since 2018.  The pandemic has perhaps hit a much wider range of businesses and made profitable and stable companies suddenly unviable.  So, women who may take less risks in business, than perhaps men, in a normally functioning economy suffer disproportionally more when there is a massive external shock?

See the pie charts below which show the industry distribution represented by insolvent companies depending on gender bias.

Pie charts

Male Dominated Insolvent Companies

Female dominated insolvent companies

About the Study

For the analysis KSA Group researched Creditsafe’s database of 4m companies in the UK.

In order to do the analysis,  2 lots of 4 data sets were collected:

  • A count of all active companies with just 2 men on the board or a majority of 75% of the board that have been actively trading in the last 12 months ?    579832
  • A count of boards containing just 2 women or a majority of 75% of the board that have been actively trading in the last 12 months ?     67047           
  • A count of all companies that went into administration or liquidation in male-run businesses as above ?         4870 companies went into liquidation, compulsory liquidation ( winding up order) administration or appointment of liquidators from October 2021 
  • A count of all companies that went into administrator or liquidation in female-run businesses as above ?        397 companies went into liquidation, compulsory liquidation ( winding up order) administration or appointment of liquidators from October 2021

Businesses with less than a 75% gender bias were excluded. 

  • A count of all active companies with just 1 man on the board that have been actively trading in the last 12 months ?    1776275
  • A count of companies containing just 1 women on the board that have been actively trading in the last 12 months ?     539861          
  • A count of all companies that went into administration or liquidation in male-run businesses as above ?         19262 companies went into liquidation, compulsory liquidation ( winding up order) administration or appointment of liquidators from October 2021  
  • A count of all companies that went into administrator or liquidation in female-run businesses as above ?        4196 companies went into liquidation, compulsory liquidation ( winding up order) administration or appointment of liquidators from October 2021  

The question of whether male or females are better at running businesses has been researched in America https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/256305.  The researchers found that there was no discernible difference.  However, research done after the financial crisis did show that female-run banks were less likely to go bust https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-014-2288-3.

Clearly more studies could be done in this area to see if there really are any gender influences in business failures. Given that many business failures are caused by not acting early enough and not taking advice then the old cliché that men don’t follow instructions or ask for help in many aspects of their lives may just be true in their roles as Directors of companies.  Another possible explanation is that Men are more prone to risk taking and that will inevitably lead to higher insolvencies.

7 Ways to Grow Your Real Estate Business

Growing your real estate business can seem like a daunting task. But with the right strategies in place, it doesn’t have to be. Here are 7 ways to grow your real estate business.

Focus on your local SEO

If you’re a real estate agent, you are a small local business and, as such, you need to make sure your local SEO is on point.

That means claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing, as well as other local directory listings. If you are selling condos in Biscayne Beach or single-family homes in Amarillo, Texas, you need to make sure your local SEO is on point.

This also means creating content that is relevant to prospects in your area. blog about local market trends, share news about recent home sales and write about what makes your city or town a great place to live. All of this will help you rank higher in local search results, making it more likely that prospects in your area will find and click through to your website.

Get active on social media

Social media is a great way to connect with potential homebuyers and sellers, as well as other real estate professionals. Share your blog posts, market updates, and new listings on social media, and be sure to use relevant hashtags so that your content gets found by people searching for topics that are of interest to them.

Stay top of mind with past clients

It costs far less to keep a current client than it does to acquire a new one, so make sure you stay top of mind with your past clients. Send them monthly or quarterly market updates, invite them to open houses and events, and stay in touch even if they’re not looking to buy or sell anytime soon. If you stay top of mind, they’ll think of you first when they are ready to make a move.

A good way to stay in contact with people is via an email list. You need to make sure you’re getting permission from people to email them, and then send them timely information that they will find relevant. You can use a tool like Mailchimp to easily manage your email list and create beautiful email newsletters.

Make the most of your website

Your website should be more than just an online business card – it should be a powerful marketing tool that helps you generate leads and grow your business. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate, and that it includes clear calls to action, contact information, and lead capture forms. Add fresh content regularly, and make sure your site is optimized for search engines so that prospects can easily find you when they’re doing online research.

Get involved in your community

One of the best ways to grow your business is to get involved in your community. Volunteer for local charities and non-profits, sponsor community events, and get to know the people who live and work in your area. When people see you as a valuable member of the community, they’ll be more likely to trust you with their real estate needs.

Get involved in your local Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce is a great way to network with other local businesses and get your name out there. Attend events, join committees, and get involved in the Chamber’s initiatives and activities. And don’t forget to list your business on the Chamber’s website – many people turn to their local Chamber when they’re looking for products and services in their area.

Advertise online

Online advertising is a great way to reach potential homebuyers and sellers who are already interested in what you have to offer. Google AdWords allows you to place ads on Google.com and millions of other websites across the web, and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Facebook Ads are another effective way to reach people on the world’s largest social network, and LinkedIn Ads are a good option for reaching professionals in your industry.

Conclusion

There are many ways to grow your real estate business – it just takes a little creativity and effort. By implementing some or all of the strategies above, you can reach more prospects, generate more leads, and close more sales. And remember, the key to success is consistent action – so don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately. The more you do, the more success you’ll see.

How to Keep Your Garden Centre Thriving

The nation’s love for plants has grown, flourished, and blossomed. Gardening became an all-important national pastime during the pandemic and, for many, that healthy habit has continued.

Did you know that approximately 83% of houses in the UK have a garden, with the average adult spending £690 on their garden in 2021?

However, the coming months could pose problems for keen gardeners as winter takes hold. Here, we will explore factors that could impact your business, as well as ways of maintaining a competitive edge in the market throughout winter.

Heading into the end of 2022, your garden centre may need some extra help to continue bringing in customers and, in turn, profit.

The winter months bring their own challenges, and the cold weather necessitates a transition for everyone.

During the cost of living crisis in the colder months, garden centres, like most retail outlets, could face a downturn in profit. Customers are likely to spend less and perhaps don’t have as much time or inclincation to enjoy leisure activities such as gardening. Maintaining a competitive edge, not only over other garden centres but also supermarkets, can be difficult.

A great marketing tool is to show off a glorious floral display. Keeping your product looking bright and healthy is the best way to draw in customers.

Tailor to the festive season

As winter approaches, so does the festive season. Tailoring your garden centre to accommodate the demand for Christmas cards, decorations, and other assorted gifts could benefit your business. Using a quality card supplier is a great way to offer something unique and stylish to your customers.

You should also host events such as Santa’s grotto or wreath-making classes. This will attract families with young children to come to your garden centre, those who are looking for Christmas-based activities. Offering photograph opportunities could be a chance to increase your income too.

Think about sustainability

Reputation is important for every business and a garden centre is no different. Choosing partnerships aligned with a sustainable nature can benefit your business.

Maintaining sustainability standards could promote your garden centre as an environmentally conscious venue. Amid the climate change debate, with 81% of people claiming they’d rather buy products from sustainable sellers, this could be very important. Consider working in partnership with a sustainable card supplier or food manufacturer.

Equally, garden centres are full of time – and season – sensitive stock, so consider promoting reuse and recycling of products alongside seasonal sales.

A gardening masterclass

Offering gardening masterclasses can help encourage customers to make regular trips to your centre. Teaching customers how to care for their plants and pass on other areas of expertise could establish your garden centre as a hub of education and for gardeners of all levels.

As the cost of living crisis makes the price of products increase, reducing food bills through sustainable, home-grown methods is becoming more popular. Tapping into this could give you a competitive edge. Selling books on how to grow your own food at home, as well showing off examples of what is possible and a wide range of seeds and bulbs to start the process off, could be a good way of introducing your garden centre as an alternative option.

Manual vs Automation Testing: What Small Businesses And Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Matthew Cooper – Marketing Automation & Operations Manager, Global App Testing 

Whatever type of software your business produces, it’s essential to test it before release. 

These tests can focus on the functionality of your product, gauge its durability, or ensure it’s intuitive. They also ensure that your product works as it’s supposed to and is a high-quality software that meets users’ needs. Thorough testing minimizes product breakage and the number of returns from customers. 

However, there are many ways of testing products, each with its advantages and uses. Even with software testing outsourced to other engineers or businesses, knowing which types to employ can be difficult. They may even depend on the resources available to your business. 

Of these, manual and automation testing are particularly helpful with products. That said, they approach testing in different ways, so it’s worth understanding the benefits of each.

What is manual testing?

If you have a quality assurance team of engineers, these are your manual testers. When testing software, they create test cases and measure how the application performs, checking its functionality and efficiency. Often, they act as a potential customer would, making spontaneous decisions and using the software in different scenarios to gauge the outcome.

Typically, manual testing is used for functions that are either too complex for automation testing to complete or requires some human judgment to measure the functionality. This applies to visual aspects of your software and how they impact the experience. Likewise, to test functions with many parts, a senior engineer can run the software and adapt their responses. 

Benefits of manual testing

Using a quality assurance team means you can implement testing almost immediately, as it typically requires less preparation. 

If your team already has a basic understanding of what needs to be tested, you don’t have to waste time creating procedures or plans for them to follow. They should be able to use their initiative and know what elements will need checking. 

An existing team of testers can also be cost-effective for complex tasks, as the team has previous knowledge to draw on. 

This is particularly useful for aspects of your software that need human feedback, such as the design of your help desk solution and the user experience of the software. These elements can depend on personal preference, however there is a required baseline usability. 

Manual testing allows your team to gauge how suitable these elements are, making notes for potential improvements whilst ensuring they’re at a decent standard for the software to be released.

What is automation testing?

Unlike manual testing, automation testing can use software integrations to test the functions of your application. These are programmed by your engineers, setting the parameters to test and data to collect from the exercise. 

In some cases, you can draw on the help of artificial intelligence for your small business to make the most of machine learning throughout the tests. Once your testing is set up, it can run without assistance, following the instructions you inputted to gather results. 

Automation testing can be programmed to test repetitive functions or elements of your product that human testing isn’t sufficient for. Repetitive functions tend to be easy to set up the instructions for and leave running. On the other end of the scale, sometimes automation is necessary for high levels of precision and accuracy.

Benefits of automated testing

One of the key advantages of automated testing is that it saves time and effort for your team. 

After you’ve set up your automated test, it can run without supervision, completing as many tests as required. Whilst this is happening, your team can focus on other tasks and review the results at the end. These can even be set up to run 24/7, making your testing process more efficient as it doesn’t have to stop until the testing is completed.

With software testing, human error can cause major issues so automated testing helps to avoid this. Each aspect of your application is tested consistently and to the precise instructions you input, meaning nothing gets overlooked or forgotten. 

In addition, automation can simulate the usage of large numbers of users simultaneously, which wouldn’t be possible with your quality assurance team. This ensures your software is accurate and ready for widespread use. 

Which type of testing should you use?

Identifying which testing method is most appropriate depends on what you want to test and the specifics surrounding that. 

If you’re testing your software generally, it may help to list the functions you intend to test or the purpose of your testing. This gives you an idea of the testing abilities you’ll need. For example, testing your software to check the user experience requires a different method to ensure it still functions well with thousands of users, although both are important.

A combination of manual and automation testing may work for your software. Whilst some repetitive functions can be automatically tested, such as importing contacts to your email database or scheduling reminders with a calendar function or creating invoices, your quality assurance team can manually test other areas. 

If you’re not sure which to use, manual test first to identify the process needed. As you complete the test, the information you gather may help you decide if next time you need to opt for automation testing.

Are you using manual or automated testing with your products?

Testing is an important part of your product development, whether you’re a small business or an entrepreneur. The feedback you receive informs you whether your software is ready to be released through different types of marketing or if there are changes that still need to be made before it’s presented. 

Although you could choose either manual or automation testing, for some product functions, one method of testing may make more sense than the other.

Generally, a combination approach to testing will work best, making use of the benefits of each method depending on the element of the software you’re focusing on. 

If you find that an area of testing is not providing the accuracy or time efficiency you want, perhaps it’s time to review your testing methods and try something new. Particularly if you don’t already use automation in your testing, investing in it could optimize your testing processes, resulting in better productivity, a shorter launch time and a more reliable product.

Is FTSE 100 a Financial Investment?

The most frequently asked question about FTSE 100 is, “What is FTSE100?” Chances are high that you most likely have the same question, and would want to understand what FTSE 100 entails. Still, if you are not careful, you may be a victim of misinformation. 

People who seek answers about financial investments may likely not get genuine answers. Promoters of many financial investments or financial education websites are usually motivated by only sales.  This is exactly the problem many face when they research FTSE 100, so this article will explore the nitty-gritty of FTSE 100.

The truth about FTSE 100

FTSE 100 (Footsie), or financial times stock exchange 100, is a financial index that captures the financial market behaviors of the 100 largest companies in the UK’s stock market.

FTSE gives real-time updates about the performance of shares and stocks belonging to these 100 companies. It details the rise and downward spirals of the companies’ share prices on FTSE.

FTSE 100 trading and investment

FTSE 100 trading is an indirect form of trading. FTSE 100 has no monetary value; it is impossible to invest in it directly. You can however, invest in FTSE 100’s performance.

Normal stock market trading and investment will involve buying company shares or stocks to gain profit. However, FTSE 100 trading and investment do not involve buying company shares. Instead, FTSE 100 trading involves the purchase of an index fund.

An index fund helps to create monetary value for financial indexes. Index funds are set up to replicate the behavior of assets belonging to companies on a financial index. Investors can buy all the assets or diversify their asset choices within the same financial index. 

In simple terms, index fund trading or investment is not an active investment tactic. The index fund simply focuses on capitalizing on the profits of a performing sector in any financial market.

FTSE 100 investment strategies

The common strategies employed in FTSE 100 trading and investment are index mutual funds or index exchange-traded funds (ETF). 

Index mutual funds shares can be directly purchased from the company issuing the mutual fund or via a broker. If you buy an index mutual fund, you own a part of it and its accrued profits. You can choose to sell them back to the mutual fund as their value rises. Index mutual fund prices are determined when trading closes in a day. This is when buying and selling take place. Index mutual funds are a perfect strategy for investors interested in long-term yield.

Exchange-traded funds (ETF) share similarities with actual company shares. If you purchase an index ETF, it can also accrue profits, but you can only redeem its value by trading them with other investors or through a broker or investment platform. Unlike index mutual funds, ETFs can be freely traded on the market at any time. These are perfect for active investors.[*image1*]

FTSE was formulated when the UK stock market began embracing electronic trading. The 100 companies covered by FTSE 100 are determined by their market capitalization rank on the London stock exchange. These 100 companies amount to approximately 78% of the London stock exchange. That is why FTSE 100 is the most popular financial index in the UK.

How New Technologies Boost Workplace Safety

In any workplace, there are threats that could put the safety and well-being of employees and clients. For instance, for retail businesses and corporate companies, there could be property break-ins, theft, and vandalism. There are also cybersecurity threats to watch out for, as businesses continue operating in the digital environment. For instance, critical business information could get into the wrong hands and interrupt your operations.

Similarly, if your business involves physical work, such as manufacturing and construction, a different set of threats could put your workforce’s safety at risk. For instance, accidents could happen to your employees as they operate machinery or do their daily tasks. These incidents may include falls, slips, or trips that may lead to minor cuts, severe injuries, and in the worst cases, death. Should these happen, you could receive charges and legal obligations that could result in the closure of your company.

With all these in mind, the need to leverage technology and adopt them in your operations has become more critical. To help you get started, here’s an outline of how new technologies can help boost workplace safety:

1. Secure Business Premises and Devices

Weak user authentication can reduce the safety of your organization’s data, including the ability to protect against identity theft and fraud. Aside from that, this incident can also increase the risk of physical security breaches within your business’s property.

With technology like biometrics, you can leverage unique physical characteristics of the body for identification and authentication. You can choose from the list of biometric security devices to limit or control access to your business premises and critical areas within the office. You can also adopt this technology when securing devices. Instead of using easy-to-guess passwords, you can implement a policy requiring employees to use registered fingerprints or facial profiles when accessing sensitive files.

2. Manage Devices Connected To The Office Network

There may be instances wherein your internal team uses their personal devices such as laptops, tablets, and mobile devices at work, whether for personal use or business-related activities like communicating with customers, suppliers, or consultants, or accessing shared files from home. Unfortunately, this can put critical business data at risk, exposing them to threats, such as data breaches or leaks, which could affect business operations and how your clients perceive you.

With that, technological innovations like Mobile Device Management (MDM) software allow your internal IT team or service providers like ITSco’s Managed IT services in Raleigh to manage those devices remotely, so they don’t threaten company data. This technology includes restricting certain apps to prevent malware infections on company devices, which may cause data erasure. 

3. Provide Security Control And Surveillance

You can install and use video surveillance tools to boost physical security measures in the workplace. This will allow you to secure entry and exit points on the business premises. Such technology can also help prevent the possibility of theft on your property. And with CCTVs in place, you’d get real-time surveillance. That way, should an incident happen, you can take the necessary actions and respond to the situation immediately.

You can also install CCTV cameras to help you identify potential hazards in the workplace and prevent accidents from happening. This can go a long way in enhancing your employees’ safety while performing their duties. You could also locate surveillance tools in high-risk areas or accident-prone areas. This can give your employees peace of mind knowing that they’re in a safe and secure environment.

4. Protect Employees From Hazards

As mentioned earlier, for industries such as construction and manufacturing, accidents could happen during operating hours, especially if there are hazards present. The repercussions of these accidents can be severe, depending on the injuries your employee sustained.

Fortunately, safety technology has come a long way over the years, making it easier to prevent unfortunate incidents in the workplace. For instance, there are smart wearables and personal protective equipment (PPEs) that can send you information about your employee’s well-being and surroundings. There are also smart goggles and fatigue monitors you can invest in.

Additionally, there are also systems consisting of sensors and alarms that can detect falls and alert a representative when accidents occur so they can send immediate help. All these innovations can help ensure workplace safety.

Conclusion

Part of running your business operations is prioritizing the safety and well-being of your employees and individuals within your business premises. Fortunately, various technological innovations can help you with this. The insights above are some of the ways how new technologies can boost workplace safety.

7 of the Best B2B eCommerce Platforms for the UK Market

Are you looking for a B2B eCommerce platform suitable for use in the UK market? Or are you bewildered by the abundance of available solutions and unsure which one to choose?

If so, we have good news for you because this article will help you sort the wheat from the chaff by showing you some of the best B2B eCommerce platforms suitable for use in the UK market and further afield.

What Are B2B eCommerce Platforms?

Everyone is familiar with Amazon, but few people realise it is just one huge B2C marketplace for selling goods. Everyone loves the convenience it brings, which has changed how we shop forever. No longer are people prepared to put up with the inconvenience of going to physical stores – they want to shop from the palm of their hands wherever they happen to be and regardless of the time of day.

Such purchasing habits are increasingly spilling over into B2B transactions also. In fact, research conducted by the software giant, Salesforce, shows that 48% of B2B businesses are already selling their products online. Moreover, they forecast that figure will reach a massive 88% over the coming three years.

Being latecomers to the eCommerce table, many B2B businesses still lag behind B2C in transitioning from traditional to electronic commerce. However, those hoping to survive realise that they must catch up fast and that their customers now demand the same excellent online experiences enjoyed by B2C customers.

Therefore, to future-proof their businesses, those companies are now grabbing their share of the expanding online market by transitioning online. Mercifully, this is relatively easy and cost-effective to do, thanks to proprietary B2B eCommerce platforms.

Our Suggested B2B eCommerce Platforms

Unfortunately, many companies still find change difficult to implement. That is particularly true with businesses that have operated using traditional commerce methods for a long time. The bewildering choice of available B2B eCommerce platforms can feel overwhelming for those firms.

To make finding the right one for your business easier, we’ve hand-picked seven of the best B2B eCommerce platforms, all of which can be used in the UK or further afield.

1. OroCommerce

Although relatively new to the UK market, OroCommerce has been producing robust eCommerce solutions globally since 2012, focussing mainly on medium to large enterprises.

Based on the robust and well-supported Symfony PHP framework, OroCommerce is open-source and developer-friendly. In simple terms, that means deep customisations and modifications are possible, ensuring the platform fits the needs of your business perfectly. Moreover, it continues to evolve, drawing input and experience from a global network of customers, developers and other partners. The result? A B2B eCommerce platform that is being continually updated and aligned with current market demands and trends.

OroCommerce does not skimp on features, boasting tools like multiple pricing lists, flexible workflows, user and inventory management, etc. Moreover, it is possible to integrate the platform with a wide range of third-party apps, including OroCRM, a multi-channel customer relationship management tool. 

2. Salesforce B2B Commerce Cloud

With its acquisition of CloudCraze in 2018, the Salesforce Commerce Cloud product range expanded to include B2B alongside the B2C eCommerce platforms.

Thanks to a large arsenal of eCommerce and CRM tools, Salesforce B2B Commerce Cloud is particularly suited to businesses with complex price lists and discount structures across various industries. Your customers will enjoy a seamless, self-service online experience giving them all the functionality they need, thereby helping generate quality leads and create solid business relationships with current and future clients.     

3. Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento) 

Previously known as Magento ­– which started life originally as a B2C solution ­– Adobe Commerce is now also a familiar face in the world of B2B marketplaces both in the UK and globally.

What makes Adobe Commerce unique is how it evolved. At its core, it is still essentially a B2C platform. However, over recent years, various extensions and add-ons have been developed that enable it to be used in B2B applications also.

As a result, Adobe Commerce is very flexible, with a wide range of customisation possibilities. Moreover, its modular design means the platform can easily scale in line with your business’ growth. However, the flip side is that depending on the options selected, the costs can quickly add up, which can be problematic for smaller companies with limited budgets.

4. BigCommerce B2B Edition

If you are not particularly tech-savvy or modern technology scares you, BigCommerce B2B Edition could be your ideal solution. Why? Because it is refreshingly simple to implement and use, with a range of integral themes that makes building an online store fast and effortless.

One handy feature of BigCommerce B2B

Edition is the ability to sell on both B2B and B2C via a single platform. You can also integrate it with many of your existing systems, thereby offering plenty of business automation possibilities.

5. nopCommerce

While you may think there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is, in fact, a free B2B eCommerce platform – nopCommerce.

nopCommerce is perfect for small businesses with no spare budget looking to enter the world of B2B eCommerce. The platform offers excellent security, while open-source code allows for virtually unlimited customisation and adaptation possibilities.

Despite its zero price tag, nopCommerce has many great features, such as multi-store and multi-vendor capability, multiple currencies and language support, adaptive storefronts, and plenty more. Moreover, nopCommerce is quick and easy to set up, and its feature set is extendable thanks to various optional extensions and themes.

6. Shopify Plus

The popular Shopify B2C eCommerce platform has existed since 2006 and currently drives around 3.76 million websites globallyShopify Plus builds on the popularity of the Shopify platform, adding all the tools necessary to use it in B2B applications also.

Being fully hosted, Shopify Plus is a truly turnkey solution as you won’t need to worry about arranging web hosting, installing or updating software, SSL certificates, etc. That means setting up a B2B marketplace is fast and simple, while an extensive feature list makes managing your online business equally straightforward.

7. Optimizely

Optimizely spawned from a series of acquisitions and rebrands of CMS (content management system) developer, Episerver. The result is a range of eCommerce solutions predominantly targeted toward enterprise-grade B2C businesses but configurable for use in B2B applications.

Optimizely’s B2B offerings include all the tools you need to establish a robust B2B eCommerce presence, including online quotations with customer-specific pricing, list management, inventory and order management, and much more. Moreover, a range of additional modules is available to expand the platform’s capabilities further.

Some Final Thoughts

As society becomes increasingly digitalised, many businesses now depend on a solid online presence that meets client expectations and desires.

While switching from traditional commerce to eCommerce might be challenging, there are now several B2B eCommerce platforms that make it much more straightforward. As a result, businesses can swiftly secure their portion of the online market while staying within their available budget.

Why not check out the platforms we have listed? Many of them provide free trials or demonstrations, so go ahead and discover what they can achieve for your company.

Why You Need to Embrace Environmental Branding Ahead of 2023

Simply having your sign out front won’t cut it anymore. In today’s competitive landscape, branding takes on a much more comprehensive approach.

Meet environmental branding. This immersive approach to branding is built upon telling a compelling story and enthralling your customers with what your company is about.

Expert design and graphic company, Novograf explores how to use your commercial property to create impactful environmental branding.

The secret behind environmental branding

Environmental branding fuses a number of design features, from graphics to interior design to signage, to create an immersive brand experience.

All the design elements have a visual and emotive impact, and they work in synchronicity to imprint the brand’s unique signature onto the physical space.

While the elements work cohesively to create the branding experience, each individual feature helps enhance customer service, wayfinding, and the overall customer journey.

How can your company benefit from environmental branding right now?

First of all, it can have a great impact on the customers’ journey and decision-making process. Having a memorable experience starts from first impressions to the moment they leave through the door, and this can make or break a deal.

Having a pleasant physical space isn’t enough anymore. Customers are looking for a one-of-a-kind branding experience in a highly competitive market. Your aim is to attract them, win them, and convert them into loyal customers.

Effective experiential branding also impacts your staff and their productivity. Having a well-designed workspace is key to staff well-being, performance, and collaboration.

Embracing environmental branding

The way we approach designing a commercial space based on environmental branding is vertical and horizontal. It takes into account both the direct and indirect touchpoints in your space while keeping in mind the relationship every space has with the rest.

After applying this ‘whole body’ approach, you are presented with a map for designing a commercial environment that is both cohesive and effective.

Some of the key elements of environmental branding are:

  • Eye-catching external signs that speak your brand are a great first impression.
  • Matched internal graphics and design.
  • Custom wall art that can bring forward a specific theme.
  • Wayfinders which are great for guiding the customer journey.

Environmental branding and sustainability

Implementing environmental branding into your commercial space design can be done in a very thoughtful, effective, and budget-friendly way.

You can do that by using design features with a longer life span. 3D emulations, for example, can add up to 10 years. You can easily replace a damaged patch without having to start from scratch. 3D emulations are a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to buying new furniture. They have a wide range of uses too, from furniture in the hospitality industry to in-store checkout points and stall refurbishments.

To take your sustainability game further, consider using digital signs as an innovative way to communicate your brand message and showcase your products and services.

Ross Campbell, Digital Business Development Manager at Novograf, commented: “The message that’s displayed on the digital signs can be changed anytime to suit your current branding needs. This cuts the physical and environmental costs of printing extra flyers or posters, and so longevity wins.”

Another way to incorporate sustainability is by donating any old items you’re disposing of during the refresh process to give them a second life elsewhere.

As the face of your brand, your physical space needs to translate your brand’s identity and values. Environmental branding can help you achieve a cohesive and immersive brand experience and position you way ahead of your competitors, so why not give it a try?

Doing More for Staff Health and Wellbeing in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Why should small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) care about staff health and wellbeing?

The costs of absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover have grown by 25% for organisations since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Further analysis and modelling from Deloitte’s recent ‘Mental Health and employers, the case for investment- pandemic and beyond’ report highlights that investing in preserving employee health through screening, training, promotion, therapy and other targeted interventions, can bring a return of £5.30 for every £1 spent. This investment serves to mutually benefit employers and employees at a time when individuals and organisations in the UK are facing increasing financial and subsequent wellbeing pressure.

What can SMEs do to improve staff health, wellbeing, and productivity?

Many workplace health and wellbeing initiatives exist in the UK. These can be a valuable resource and supportive tool for organisations wishing to embed a comprehensive employee health and wellbeing provision into their employee experience. These health and wellbeing initiatives take the guesswork out of managing health and wellbeing, allowing organisations to follow guidance that is validated and ensures that they are doing all that is possible to not only preserve but also enhance employees’ health and wellbeing. In addition, these initiatives create a community for workplace health and wellbeing leads to network, sharing learnings and best practices. This networking and cross-organisational collaborating can help to progress employee health and wellbeing on a local internal level and nationally, addressing the significant societal economic costs of poor employee health and wellbeing.

As a one local example, the Thrive at Work Programme offering from Coventry City Council in partnership with West Midlands Combined Authority is the established regional standard for organisations establishing good practice in health and wellbeing at work. The programme provides workplaces with a structured framework that encompasses group and individual health wellbeing elements. A tiered award system exists, and the framework recognises that smaller organisations may not have the capacity to achieve the same activity as larger organisations. Organisations with a minimum of eight employees can sign up to the programme, which is free of charge to organisations in the West Midlands (see Thrive At Work, privacy policy can be viewed here). Search for regional support available where you are located.

Will it work in my SME?

All SMEs are different. You know your workplace best and can select tailored options for your staff. Often staff know what will work for them but need support getting there. Workplaces enrolled in Thrive at Work are eligible for fully funded extra support that delivers an established tool to support employees in making the changes they want for their health and wellbeing. This tool has potential to improve the likelihood of being successful in goal pursuit and enjoying the associated wellbeing benefits to a greater extent than positive thinking alone. To date, there has been limited use of this tool in workplace settings even though it is effective elsewhere, including for patients and students. Book your workplace’s fully funded (free) goal setting session for staff health and wellbeing through early 2023 here.

5 HR Policies Every Business Needs

A business can only be as effective as the employees that run it. In order to ensure that those employees are operating at their peak ability, it’s necessary to take care of them via your human resources department.

Equal opportunities

Historically, discrimination has posed a significant issue in the workplace. While things have gotten better, it’s still a sensitive topic that requires an equally sensitive approach from HR. It’s important to have a comprehensive equal opportunities policy that creates a fair environment, so that all employees have an equal chance of applying for different positions.

Characteristics that may require specific protection include gender, race, sex, pregnancy, relationship status and disability. Sometimes, special accommodations may need to be made to ensure that these individuals are not impeded from doing their job.

Flexible working

As remote and hybrid working becomes increasingly common, it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to implement explicit HR policies concerning flexible working. In addition to these, any employee who has worked at a company for over 26 weeks is entitled to certain flexibilities.

This includes flexible starting and finishing times, changing work patterns, and remote working. Having a clear policy can help stop problems from arising in the future, which they likely will if there’s any uncertainty.

Social media

As social media continues to play an increasingly important role in our lives, it’s important that measures are taken to protect the reputation of companies. People post everything on the internet, and it’s important that employees understand the impact that those posts can have on the place they work at. This damage doesn’t even have to be done via posts that include explicit mentions of their company, especially if they’ve posted where they work on their personal accounts.

Dismissal and disciplinary policy

It’s incredibly important to make your disciplinary policy explicit to all employees; not only does it help those policies to remain effective, it’s also a legal requirement for compliance with the ACAS code of practice.

Dismissal and disciplinary actions are also among the most common areas that see disputes in employment tribunals. A clear, transparent HR policy can go a long way to avoiding escalations like this.

Training and development

It’s important for a company’s growth that they remain committed to the ongoing training and development of their employees. Not only does this help with talent retention, by helping employees reach their professional goals while staying with the same organisation, but it also ensures that each individual is doing their job to the best of their ability. Making this an explicit part of your overarching HR strategy is an important step in ensuring your business is positioned to thrive.

The policies listed above are essential for HR departments in the current day and age. Reaching out to external providers for further HR help may be worthwhile for many businesses, especially given the rapidly changing work environment.

The Importance of Website Translation Services

Today, many industries are operating online, and those that aren’t are falling behind. The pandemic has forced businesses to rethink; many have turned to the internet in times when physical contact is reduced to a minimum. Now post lockdown, companies may be choosing to continue with a mainly online presence and cut costs on physical overheads. With the internet being accessible to 4.5 billion people worldwide, it is vital businesses consider website translation services to improve the accessibility of their website.

Sergio Afonso, linguistics expert and founder of Absolute Translations has shared his expertise on how website translation services can widen your audience and make your website inclusive for anybody.

1) Widen your audience

Whichever area of the world you are aiming to target, you want to ensure your website content is accessible for multilingual users. An accurately translated website provides better readability for the user and will allow them to not feel alienated. This is especially important for businesses who are looking to expand beyond customers with English as their first language. Potential customers can be lost if they discover your site, and it has no text they can understand.

2) Localisation of your website text

Distinct languages and dialects have slightly different ways of saying certain things; it is far more complex than just translating word for word. Each word needs to be translated and adjusted to fit context for local laws or cultural norms. Improving localisation of your text allows for a better user experience and will increase your web traffic from international search engines. This is vital if you want to sell goods and services worldwide.

3) Shipping internationally

Many businesses cater to foreign crowds by offering international shipping and a range of currency options. However, they still operate on an English-only model. By offering native languages, you can connect with the customer base on a personal level and increase the chances of landing a sale.

4) International SEO

A successful online business incorporates a strong international SEO strategy. A local (geographic) presence can only take you so far. A company should be aware of the global search trends and use this information to their advantage. The better your SEO, the more targeted traffic you will receive. Keeping control of the strategy can attract potential customers and advance conversations with potential stakeholders. Doing globally specific keyword research by region, as well as optimizing your content and site structure accordingly can deliver great rewards.

5) Increase the time spent on a website

Google analyses the time a user spends on a translated website as the potential user engages with all the content, including each page and document. If you have a long visit, it is likely that the user has found what he or she needs. This means that translated content not only offers great SEO benefits to international businesses but also provides a better user experience.

Five Performance Issues that Say you Need an SEO Consultant

If you’re experiencing any of the following five performance issues, it’s time to call in an SEO consultant. Your website is not performing up to par, and you’re losing business as a result. Don’t wait – contact an SEO consultant today!

Your Website is Not Ranking High in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

If your website is not appearing on the first page of SERPs for relevant keywords, you’re missing out on valuable traffic and potential customers. An SEO consultant can help you improve your website’s ranking by optimising your content and site structure.

It’s likely because you’re experiencing one or more of the following five performance issues:

Your website is not mobile-friendly

Your website lacks quality content

Your website is not effective in using SEO practices

Your website has been penalised by Google

Your website is not receiving enough backlinks from other websites

Your Website Traffic has Flatlined or Declined

If your website used to receive a steady stream of traffic but now its numbers have plateaued or declined, something is wrong. An SEO consultant can help you troubleshoot the problem and develop a plan to get your traffic back on track.

There are many potential reasons why your website traffic might have flatlined or declined, but some of the most common reasons are due to problems with your website’s design, content, or search engine optimisation (SEO).

Your Conversion Rate is Low

Even if you’re getting a lot of traffic to your website, it doesn’t matter if those visitors aren’t converting into customers. If your conversion rate is low, an SEO consultant can help you improve your website design and user experience to encourage more conversions.

You’re Not Generating any Leads From your Website.

If you have a lead generation form on your website but you’re not receiving any submissions, that’s a problem. An SEO consultant can help you optimize your forms and Call-to-Actions (CTAs) to increase lead generation.

You Don’t Have an Effective Mobile Strategy

With more and more users accessing the internet from mobile devices, your website must be optimised for mobile. An SEO consultant can help you develop a mobile-friendly website or improve your existing mobile site.

What are the Advantages of Hiring an SEO Consultant?

There are many benefits to hiring an SEO consultant. First, an SEO consultant can help you identify areas where your website needs improvement to rank higher in search engines. An SEO consultant can help you implement specific strategies to improve your website’s ranking. Finally, an SEO consultant can help you monitor your website’s progress and make necessary changes to ensure that your website continues to rank well.

An SEO consultant can provide many services, all of which can help improve your website’s ranking. These services include keyword research, link building, and website optimization. By hiring an SEO consultant, you can be sure that your website is using the most effective methods possible to improve its ranking.

Conclusion

If you’re experiencing any performance issues, don’t wait – contact Gareth Bull, SEO Consultant, today! They can help you get your website back on track and generate more traffic, leads, and sales for your business.

How to Ask for a Guest Blog Spot on A Third-Party Blog

Asking to guest blog on another person’s website is a great way to get your content in front of a new audience. Not only will you be able to share your ideas with readers who might not have come across them before, but you’ll also gain exposure to the blog’s existing followers.

In order to increase the chances that your request will be accepted, link building experts Niche Inbound suggest you follow these tips:

1. Research the blog and its audience

Make sure that your content is a good fit for the blog’s style and target audience. What topics does the blog cover? What are its core values? Who is its target audience? Once you have a good understanding of the blog, draft a pitch that outlines why you would be a good fit as a guest blogger and what post ideas you have in mind.

In your pitch, be sure to mention any relevant experience you have or connections you have with the blog’s audience. For example, if you are an expert in SEO and the blog covers SEO topics, mention that in your pitch. If you are personal friends with the blog’s author, mention that as well.

Finally, be concise and make your pitch easy to read. Bullet points work well here.

2. Write a well-crafted email

Be clear about what you would like to contribute and why you think your content would be valuable for their readers. Crafting an email pitch to a blog editor can be daunting, but if you follow a few simple tips, you can make it easy and painless.

First, make sure that you pitch a topic that would be of interest to the blog’s readers. If you’re not sure, do a little research and see what kinds of articles the blog publishes.

Next, take the time to personalize the email. Be sure to include the name of the blog editor and mention something that you like about their blog.

Then, get to the point. Briefly introduce your topic and explain why you think it would be a good fit for their blog. Offer to send them a draft of the article if they’re interested.

Finally, be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response – most editors are inundated with requests from writers. But if you follow these tips, you should hear back eventually.

3. Be Polite and Respectful

Remember that the blogger is taking time out of their day to read your email – be appreciative!

When asking a blog owner if you can write a guest post for their blog, always be polite and respectful.

Thank them for considering your request, and let them know that you would be happy to provide them with some additional information if needed. If they approve your request, be sure to follow their guidelines for submitting your guest post.

4. Follow Up if Necessary

Don’t be afraid to reach out again if you don’t hear back within a few days (but don’t spam them, either). If you haven’t heard back from the blog owner after a reasonable amount of time (say, two weeks), feel free to follow up via email or social media. Mention that you’re following up on your guest blog pitch, and inquire about the status of your submission.

By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to getting your content published on a great blog. Happy writing!

Designing for a Colour-Blind Audience

When Transport for London released an infographic highlighting which trains were affected by the rail strike, they’d have been forgiven for thinking most of the discourse around the graphic would be linked to the rail strike itself.

However, the transport provider soon faced backlash on social media for the inaccessibility of their graphic, which used a series of colour-coded circles to denote which trains were running as normal, cancelled or potentially affected. The graphic was unreadable to colour blind viewers, who make up three million of the UK population.

Though TfL admirably responded to the criticism, releasing a more inclusive version of the graphic within days, accessibility problems like this could be avoided through more inclusive designs. With this in mind, the print and design company Solopress have advised on the best ways you can create accessible documents for your colour blind audience.

Key Findings:

  • Transport for London recently came under fire for a high-profile infographic which was inaccessible for colour blind viewers.
  • Red-green colour vision deficiency is thought to affect 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women.
  • There are three million colour blind people in the UK.
  • By avoiding colour combinations such as red and green or purple and blue that are likely to be difficult for colour blind viewers, you can ensure your work is more accessible.
  • Patterns and textures are another great way to differentiate between concepts instead of using colours.
  • Adobe Photoshop offers users the ability to view their work as it would be seen by readers with colour blindness.
  • TfL’s amended design used shapes and symbols as well as colour to differentiate between cancelled and running trains, creating a design that was accessible for all readers.

What is Colour Blindness?

Colour blindness, or colour vision deficiency, is the decreased ability to see colour or differences in colour and can manifest itself in many different ways. The most common form of colour blindness is red-green colour vision deficiency (deuteranomaly), where people struggle to differentiate between shades of red, yellow, and green.

Blue-yellow colour vision deficiency (tritanomaly) is the second-most common colour vision deficiency, though its name can be misleading. The affected people do not confuse blue with yellow, but rather blue with green, and yellow with violet. The terms ‘tritanomaly’ and ‘deuteranomaly’ are applicable when the affected person struggles to properly perceive the colours. ‘Tritanopia’ and ‘deuteranopia’ are applicable when the person cannot see the colours in question at all.

Total colour blindness, also known as achromatopsia, makes it difficult for people to see colour at all, only black, white, and shades of grey. However, varying levels of colour differentiation amongst achromats (people living with achromatopsia) and the small sample size illustrated means that some achromats may have the ability to differentiate between some high contrast colours.

How many people suffer from Colour Blindness?

 Many people suffer from colour blindness worldwide. The most common form, red-green colour vision deficiency, is much more common in men than women, affecting 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. Meanwhile, total colour blindness is thought to affect 1 in 30,000 live births worldwide, meaning that 0.00333333% of the world’s population could be living with achromatopsia. According to the NHS, there are roughly 3 million people in the UK living with some form of colour blindness. This figure makes up 4.5% of the entire population.

How can I Design for Colour Blindness?

Given that there are multiple different forms of colour blindness to take into account when creating an inclusive design, there are many perspectives to take into account. However, there are some core principles that will allow your design to be interpreted or received properly by as many people as possible.

Know Your Colours

When choosing your colours, make sure to choose colours that are likely to be friendly to colour blind users. This can be difficult given the different forms of colour vision deficiency, but there are certainly some colour combinations that are worth avoiding.

These include:

  • Red and Green
  • Green and Brown
  • Purple and Blue
  • Green and Blue
  • Light Green and Yellow
  • Blue and Grey
  • Green and Grey
  • Green and Black

High contrast colours are preferred, to increase the level of differentiation for colour blind users. If you’re designing for online use, the UK’s Accessibility Regulations 2018 stipulate a minimum colour contrast ratio for digital design. 

Differentiate Creatively

Just like the TFL infographic in question, many inaccessible designs use colour as the sole differentiator between concepts or ideas. Think about the other ways you can contrast between ideas in order to create a more accessible design.

Different patterns or textures could be used, rather than sole block colours, to make it easier for colour blind users to interpret charts or graphs. When displaying information through a bar chart, a striped pattern would help differentiate a bar from a non-striped bar.

Check as you Go!

Designing for colour blindness can be difficult, given that you’re trying to understand how your work will look from a totally different perspective. There are steps you can take to appreciate how your design will look to someone with colour vision deficiency.

For example, Adobe Photoshop has a feature which allows you to view an image or design as it would be seen by someone with colour blindness. Under the ‘View’ tab, you’ll find an option for ‘Proof Setup.’

Within the drop-down menu, you can select ‘Colour Blindness – Protanopia-type’ or ‘Colour Blindness – Deuteranopia-type.’ Either of these options will allow you to view your design as it would be seen by people with the most common forms of colour blindness.

Use Shapes and Symbols

After their initial blunder, TfL responded brilliantly to the people complaining about the accessibility of the graphic, apologising and amending the graphic to include varying shapes and symbols. By doing so, they created a more accessible design for colour blind readers.

The new design incorporated different shapes and symbols: the original green circle was replaced by a square with a tick mark, the orange circle was replaced by a triangle with an exclamation mark and the red circle included an X inside it. In the new design, the colour scheme was still visible, but with  added measures for colour blind readers.

Glen Eckett, Head of Marketing at Solopress, comments: ‘With an ever-increasing number of companies becoming more and more conscious of inclusive communications, it was great to see TfL listen to criticism and provide a better version of their original infographic. Designing for colour blindness isn’t particularly difficult – we just need more businesses to take responsibility, and incorporate inclusivity into the early stages of their design process.’

Legacy Systems Modernisation: 7 Options To Consider

Last June, the U.K. government’s Central Digital and Data Office released a roadmap to end its reliance on legacy systems in three years. It realised that hanging onto its outdated hardware and software was hampering efforts to deliver services to the public.

The modernisation of hardware and software delivers a slew of benefits, from saving costs to making an institution more resilient against cyber attacks. But not everyone has the capital or time to spare to perform the upgrade. Instead, they often settle for the next best thing: upgrading their legacy systems to the fullest extent possible.

Legacy systems modernisation is more than simply updating software to the latest version. The options explained here involve rewriting the software’s code to stay up to spec. To understand more about legacy systems, it’ll help to find the best IT consultants in Salt Lake City, such as Executech. They can provide further information and technical assistance.

Below are some options to consider when modernising legacy systems:

1. Encapsulation

Encapsulation is the least coding-intensive of the options but also carries the least risk. In most cases, the code undergoes minimal changes, mainly the interface, and is integrated into modern presentation and data access layers.

However, the minimal changes in the code are its major drawback. Encapsulation hardly changes a legacy system’s internal workings, so the issues of high upkeep and outdated functions remain. Still, it’s ideal for legacy systems that are too valuable to replace, at least for the meantime.

2. Data Migration

Another option that’s less intensive on coding is data migration. As the term suggests, it involves moving legacy systems to modern infrastructure. A good example is moving systems and all their data from an on-premises server to a cloud-based one.

Data migration works if a business needs its legacy systems to buy time for more modern solutions to come online. In the example above, this approach delivers the benefits of cloud computing, such as remote accessibility, flexibility, and scalability.

3. Switch Platform

One problem with data migration is that the legacy system is brought to the modern infrastructure as is. Compatibility issues might arise, preventing it from working as intended.

In switching platforms, the system has parts of its code rewritten to work with modern infrastructure while keeping its original functions. It also usually involves moving the system to a colocation facility or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) centre.

4. System Integration

The intention of system integration is similar to switching platforms, which is to change the code without changing its original functionality. However, this step integrates new technologies into the code. As such, the changes are more significant.

Organisations that maintain legacy systems on-site and in cloud storage can find system integration an ideal solution. Not all apps and programs need to benefit entirely from the cloud, helping reduce cloud migration costs and the likelihood of mistakes that drive them higher.

5. Change The Architecture

Most legacy systems operate on a monolithic architecture, a model that unifies several functions into a self-contained unit. While easy to implement and debug, a single error in the architecture can render the entire system inoperable. Its successor—microservices—resolves this problem.

Altering the system’s architecture warrants a near-complete overhaul of the legacy system. Changing it to the microservices model enables the system to keep working even if a single function encounters an error. That said, changing architecture is costly and time-consuming.

6. Reassemble

If the legacy system starts affecting an organisation’s return on investment, it may be wise to rebuild it from scratch. Essentially, it results in a modernised version of the old apps and programs, with their scope and specs the only things carried over.

In rebuilding a legacy system, it’s crucial to go low and slow, especially if it’s in active use. A rushed project won’t benefit anyone, including customers using the app or service. It’s advisable to publish a roadmap for customers and staff to stay updated.

7. Retire

The last approach asks an organisation if modernising its legacy systems is the ideal solution. Believe it or not, in many situations, the problem may lie more in an outdated workflow than in obsolete software.

Retiring is the only option that may not warrant legacy systems modernisation, depending on the assessment. An up-to-date workflow can spare companies the trouble of temporary downtime and its costs. Of course, such a workflow can only take them so far.

Conclusion

Legacy systems modernisation can be a cost-effective measure to help organisations keep pace in a rapidly-evolving technological environment. It’s essential to choose from these seven options based on requirements. If none is feasible, the only recourse is to replace legacy systems entirely.

How to Save Money as a Small Business Owner

Tom Church is Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, a small business he set up in 2016 which now has a team of 30 people. The company has grown organically to 7-figure revenues without paying for any advertising. The online website helps people save money by finding the best prices for consumer products.

Speaking exclusively with SME News, Tom shared his 5 tips for saving money as an online small business owner to help with cash flows and increase margins.

  1. Learn To Do Everything Yourself First, So You Know How Much It Really Costs

I try to learn to do everything myself first – and make it profitable – before hiring someone to do it. This way, you know how long every task takes, how difficult it really is, and how much it ought to cost. For example, I was quoted by PR agency will charge £100,000+ per year to get some press coverage. At first I thought it was a joke. There was no chance we could afford that. Instead, I studied online, spoke to journalists, and through trial and error learned to do it myself. Latest Deals now gets about 2,000 media mentions every year. Over 10-times what the proposed PR agency targets. When you learn what the task really entails and can do it yourself, you can hire in-house and train generalised staff to do it at a much lower cost. This principle applies to everything: Accounting, technology development, writing, video editing, logistics…

  1. Building A Tech Company? Go With Open-Source

Open-source software generally means free to all and fully customisable. Whilst it may not always be perfect and paid options may have some killer feature you like, starting with open-source is a great way to save money. It’s free! Plus, unlike paid services you can change it to fit your business needs. For example, if you’re setting up an online shop you can either pay for Shopify, or go for WooCommerce via WordPress which is free. LatestDeals.co.uk has grown successfully over the last six years thanks to our ability to quickly adapt our open-source codebase to meet the needs to users. If we had used a paid-for out of the box system, it would have been much more rigid and expensive.

  1. Go Remote, Save On Office, Save on Big City Salaries

Latest Deals used to have an office. An expensive one by Tower Bridge in London, UK. It had fancy views and looked impressive. But it cost a whopping £500 per desk, per month. Management all thought it was worth it for the productivity benefits of having everyone in the same room. But then came the COVID-19 pandemic and we switched out of necessity to remote working. Unlike some companies, we are likely never to return to the office. We found no change in productivity – for as long as each employee’s tasks were clearly defined. There are some people who enjoy the social aspect of working in the office and feel lonely at home, and I can understand that. However, in general we have found an increase in work-life satisfaction and balance. You can save a lot of money on office space, plus hiring remotely means you do not pay a premium for big city salaries and can hire people from all regions.

  1. Digital Task? Hire International Freelancers

A large portion of tasks at Latest Deals is done by international freelancers. If a task is relatively straight-forward and repetitive, you can save money by hiring someone abroad. The cost can be half as much as a UK employee (but the money is still very good for them abroad). I’ve heard complaints from business owners saying international freelancers are no good but my experience is the opposite: They tend to be the hardest working, most consistent workers of all. The key is to have detailed click-by-click process documents and training videos, along with calls and regular check-ins. Unfortunately I think too many business owners don’t treat international freelancers as people and therefore lack the patience of nurturing talent. Done right, this can save you huge amounts of money on salaries and turbo-charge your business growth.

  1. Paid Advertising? Hold Your Horses

Paid advertising is the fastest way to burn your cash. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn all charge silly money per click. Plus, you have to practically be a scientist to figure out where that click goes and to track it all to see if it’s profitable or not. But because every marketer in the world swears by paid advertising, it’s hard to say no. Nevertheless, Latest Deals has grown to 2 million members without advertising. How? By trying pretty much everything except advertising. Go old school: knock on doors, pick up the phone, attend events. Social media is powerful and can be free – but it takes a long time. If you’re a small business, figure out how many customers you need to be profitable and make it your goal to pick up the phone or visit 10 times that many. Plonk them into a spreadsheet and build your sales funnel. It’s old-school but it works. And most of the time it’s free. Email marketing is a great channel and is free to a certain level.

Tom Church is Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, a money-saving community with over 2 million members.

The Big Challenges Coming Up for Businesses

There’s no getting around it: this is a tough time to be in business. A lot of companies are going under, which might be reducing the competition but is also disrupting supply chains. People struggling with the cost-of-living crisis are less inclined to spend money on non-essentials and are looking for bargains wherever they can get them. Surviving in this environment means it’s more important than ever to be well-organised and to plan as far ahead as possible. There may be no easy solutions to some problems, but if you act where you can and do so promptly, you will benefit.

Meeting winter fuel costs

Most discussion around rising fuel costs has focused on the impact on private households, but it’s no secret that many businesses are struggling. As we head into the winter months, with the Met Office predicting early snowfall, especially across the north and west of the country, heating costs for your premises could rise steeply on top of fuel costs associated with production and running your offices. If you suspect you will struggle to meet payments, you should contact your supplier early to discuss your options. You may be able to spread your payments over a more extended period. As an alternative, some businesses are planning to shorten their working week.

Maintaining a healthy workforce

When you’re up against it in other ways, you must ensure you’re getting the best out of your workforce. COVID is back in a big way this winter, with new strains increasingly resistant to vaccines and long COVID now affecting one in ten people. Be especially sensible about hygiene and look for distance working options for those most at risk (as well as those who may infect others). You should also be alert to the increase in substance abuse which always accompanies tough economic times, and use regular workplace drug testing, doing what you can to get proper help for employees who turn out to have problems.

Managing international trade

On top of these other problems, UK businesses face a complex situation when trading internationally. As the Brexit process continues, the regulatory framework surrounding international transactions will go on changing, so it’s vital to stay on top of it all. The good news is that the fall in the pound is good for exports. Of course, the flip side of that is that it’s now more expensive to import materials, while market volatility is discouraging businesses elsewhere from setting up long-term deals with UK companies. There are no simple solutions to this. You will have to stay on your toes and be as flexible as possible.

Facing these challenges can be dispiriting, but it’s worth keeping in mind that there are still companies out there which survived the world wars and the global depression of the 1930s. If you can make it through these difficult times, you will be in a strong position when things start to improve again. Making the extra effort today will secure a better tomorrow.

UK’s Medium Businesses Say Tech Is Key to Unlocking Economic Growth

65% of medium-sized companies see tech as their biggest growth driver – yet a third say it’s their main internal challenge

Full report here: Medium businesses: Fuelling the UK’s economic engine (Virgin Media O2 Business)

  • Report finds almost half of medium businesses want more support from their IT team to help drive their business ambition
  • With medium business employees only spending a quarter of their time in the office, cutting edge tech is needed to help them collaborate and work smarter
  • Almost 9 in 10 medium businesses noticed an improvement in productivity when providing employees with new technology

Amid the rising cost-of-trading and economic uncertainty, the majority (65%) of business leaders from medium-sized UK companies say technology is the biggest driver of growth. However, a third (33%) say tech is their biggest internal challenge, according to new research by Virgin Media O2 Business.

Virgin Media O2 Business’ research reveals the role that tech and connectivity can play in helping medium businesses (those employing between 11-249 people) to adapt and grow during tough financial times, including the current cost of living crisis.

The findings show that almost 9 in 10 (87%) business leaders say they’ve noticed an improvement in productivity when they provide employees with new technology, while 77% believe it helps to boost morale.

It comes as medium businesses put in place their long-term hybrid working practices. The study finds that on average, medium business employees now spend just a quarter (25%) of their time in offices, with seven in ten businesses (70%) having more mobile connections compared to a year ago.

Catherine Amran, Director of Small and Medium Business (SMB) at Virgin Media O2 Business, said:With around 250,000 medium businesses operating across the country, employing more than 7.5 million people, and turning over around £1.4 trillion a year, they are a huge contributor to the UK’s growth – which is even more important during these uncertain economic times.

“That’s why it’s important medium businesses aren’t left behind and can make the most of tech to enhance their productivity, performance, and prosperity.”

The vital role of tech

Published today, Virgin Media O2 Business’ report Medium businesses: Fuelling the UK’s economic engine, has found tech also brings a range of both “hard” and “soft” employee benefits – including enhanced productivity, collaboration, and morale.

The report has found that more than a quarter (28%) of medium business leaders believe the biggest benefit of technology is that it improves efficiency, while almost a quarter (23%) say its main benefit is boosting collaboration amongst teams.

The barriers to achieving growth

Despite the clear benefits and the overwhelming importance placed on IT and tech as the fuel for business growth, medium business leaders admit it’s their biggest internal challenge. A third say their current IT set up impacts their bottom line, with it being a bigger barrier to success than other activities, such as their marketing capabilities.

Almost half (48%) say they need better IT support to realise their company’s ambitions, and a quarter (24%) of medium business leaders say IT security is one of the biggest internal challenges they are facing. 

Catherine Amran continued: “At Virgin Media O2 Business, we know that medium-sized companies are calling out for support with a range of challenges like managing remote working or enhancing their security protocols. We’re dedicated to giving them what they need to address these challenges.

“Our Get More Fund helps to provide medium businesses with access to valuable tech to support their connectivity, productivity, and collaboration, enabling them to work smarter and thrive. If medium businesses are the UK’s economic engine, then tech can be a fuel for recovery”

Through the Get More Fund, current Virgin Media Business or O2 Business customers (11 – 249 employees) that extend their contracts to take both internet connectivity (broadband or leased lines) and mobile products will get 10% of the value of their new plan to spend on a range of tech for their teams, from the latest smartphones and tablets, to printers and laptops. New customers that take out both internet connectivity and mobile products will receive 10% of their total monthly contract value in a Get More Fund.

Catherine Amran

SME News Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2022 British Made Awards

United Kingdom, 2022– SME News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2022 British Made Awards programme.

The inaugural edition of SME News Magazine’s British Made Awards programme was launched to recognise an industry that is so often overlooked, those manufacturers, producers and creatives who invigorate the UK market and ensure a continuation on multiple fronts.

On the eve of the official announcement Awards Coordinator Laura O’Carroll commented on the success of the programme: “It has been an incredibly challenging couple of years for business around the world – manufacturing, creation and production perhaps some of the hardest industries hit. With that in mind, I offer a sincere congratulations to all of those listed here and hope you all have a wonderful 2023 ahead.”

SME News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the SME News website (http://sme-news.co.uk) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About SME News

SME News draws on our UK wide network of industry insiders to provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape.

Alongside our quarterly publication we also offer an easy to use website, newsletter and a series of awards programmes, making SME News much more than just a magazine, but instead a vital resource.

Bought to you by AI Global Media, the international provider of corporate news and information, this unique magazine is the perfect resource for the CEOs, leaders and decision makers in the UK based SMEs looking to keep their finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the competition.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

4 Factors to Consider Before Hiring SEO Consultant

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is now the key to boosting inbound marketing and growing organic traffic for a business. If done correctly, your site will appear on top of search engines when members of your target audience look up terms associated with your products or services.

Many businesses engage expert SEO consultants since they are unsure of how to begin raising the ranks of their websites. However, it might be challenging to choose a consultant to work with.

An SEO consultant will not only assist in boosting your conversion rates and traffic, but they’ll also clear your time so you can concentrate on more crucial tasks like managing your company. In today’s article, let’s explore four factors to help you choose the best SEO consultant if you’re not sure where to start.

Knowledge of SEO

Instead of choosing consultants who assert that they are an expert in all facets of marketing, look for one that concentrates on honing only a few components of SEO. To check their degree of experience and service, look at previous SEO campaigns and the SEO strategies they used. They should have a history of
improving rankings and organic search traffic for their clients. Avoid businesses that exaggerate or make deceptive statements about their accomplishments.

Effective Communication

Choosing the best SEO consultant requires clear communication. It can take months or even years to build a successful SEO strategy. You need to be confident in their ability to effectively communicate with you before entering into a lengthy commitment like that.

If you hire them, decide how often you’ll communicate with one another. Even while you are still considering them, you should be able to contact them easily. It might be time to choose another consultant if you frequently find yourself waiting for responses or even if you simply don’t connect with them personally.

Innovative Strategy

A good SEO consultant concentrates on the overall image and unique brand strengths. Creativity, innovation, and knowledge are essential for an SEO strategy to be effective. Be aware of SEO experts who concentrate just on page speed or a single SEO component. Choose a different consultant if they fail to highlight issues like load time, link building, content marketing, on-page optimization, website design, and a positive user experience.

To compete in a crowded market, you need an SEO solution like search marketing consultant Alastair Kane who lets you put your business front and center. The objective is to make your company stick out from the competition.

Product awareness

Understanding and using each individual ranking criterion is a crucial ability, but the secret to creating an enduring SEO plan is having keen product knowledge and business understanding.

By gaining insight into the product, the users, the revenue model, and the competitive environment, an excellent SEO consultant will build a competitive SEO strategy to rank on top. A professional SEO will always begin by probing you about your company in-depth to help guide his thoughts about how to increase your internet presence.

Big Data in Manufacturing: Why Analytics is Essential in This Industry

Pohan Lin – Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager

Believe it or not, our world is run by data. Data drives every major decision of governments, companies and, whether they know it or not, individuals. 

Data can be anything, but in the world of business it typically includes:

  • Behavioural data, e.g., how a consumer uses an application or website
  • Identity data, including names, date of birth and contact information
  • Location data
  • Quantitative data, like click-throughs in an email marketing campaign (which an email finder can help with)
  • Qualitative data, e.g., written consumer feedback or focus groups

In this article we’re going to take a closer look at big data and the role it plays in manufacturing. Let’s dive in!

What is big data?

Big data, in its purest form, refers to very large sets of data collected across time. It can play an essential role across different industries, helping businesses optimise their processes and increase their revenue.

There are three factors that typically define and categorise big data:

  • The speed or velocity at which data is collected and processed
  • The volume or amount of data in the set
  • The variety of the types of data that you have in your set – big data systems typically collect more than one type of data

Big data is typically data that, by virtue of its size and duration, reveals a pattern of behaviour in a group. The value of big data is that it can be mined for information by those who can access it, generally the company or organisation that collects it. 

Examples of big data in manufacturing (and other industries)

Big data is everywhere. The digital age and rise of social media have made big data more popular and it is now being gathered across almost every industry. 

Consumer

Ecommerce is a haven for big data. Not only do ecommerce and subscription services often require the collection of personal data at the point of payment, but big data is incredibly useful for monitoring customer behaviour. 

Consider, for example, streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney +. All incredibly popular, and all constantly changing. One of the biggest ways in which streaming services use big data is to recommend new content that they think consumers will like based on their previous viewing. They collect viewing history from all users and identify watching patterns, recommending new watches based on a collective viewing history for a medium or genre. 

From here, consumer-facing businesses typically use a quality of service solution, otherwise known as a QoS solution accelerator.

Services

The development of new software is driven by big data. For example, cloud software development, a growing industry with growing applications in the world of hybrid working, benefits widely from collecting large data sets. 

In this instance, the data set might be collected by a mobile app development company from all users of a particular software. Important subsets of data may include user location, common problems, unsolved pain points, organisation size, and industry. This data may be collected slowly at first, but quickly grow with the customer base. It is likely also collected over a long period of time. 

Industry

A bit more niche but no less valuable, heavy industry is a metaphorical goldmine of big data. The oil/gas industry in particular, lives or dies by the dictates of big data. On a global scale, the fuel industry collects behavioural and financial data to predict and set the cost of oil. The cost of oil dictates, to one extent or another, the price of mobile car detailing, and consequently, everything. The value and influence of big data cannot be overstated. 

Big data in manufacturing

Big data in manufacturing is as essential as in every other industry. In fact, as a sector that can involve high costs and potential safety concerns, manufacturing benefits from big data in more ways than many other industries. These are five of the most common ways that you can use big data analysis to optimise your manufacturing business. 

1. Process optimisation

First and foremost, big data exists to optimise internal and external processes and bring efficiency to a business. Most companies actually already have big data sets regarding their business processes, but may not be using them effectively. 

You should cast a wide net when it comes to process optimisation data, including:

  • Target reports and met and missed deadlines
  • Production rates and volume
  • Written and verbal feedback from floor teams
  • Industry trends and legal changes
  • Customer feedback and issues with distributed products

For example, if a manufacturing company works with a wholesaler, then they should consider reviewing their inventory management using big data. This helps them to look at the big picture – activities of the wholesaler, supply chains and company reputation. They might find that wholesale inventory management software, for example, is more efficient than manual inventory management. 

From here, you have the evidence to consider more radical overhauling of your business processes. For example, you could integrate business process software from Process Bliss to better track and optimise business processes. 

2. Safety

Perhaps more than any other industry, safety is vital to the continued operation of a manufacturing business. While it’s helpful to analyse individual incidents (or aversions of an incident) in isolation, in the long run it can be more helpful to turn to big data to make big safety changes. 

This is because you may miss patterns of danger or negligence when treating each incident individually. 

Be sure to keep a detailed record of each safety procedure – whether relevant to an incident or not. Only by collecting a wide range of data on every health and safety procedure can you properly identify patterns that result in an incident. 

From here, you can properly integrate new safety procedures, backed by a full collection of evidence. 

3. Quality Assurance

Quality assurance (QA) is vital to a successful manufacturing operation. Whilst it’s perfectly possible to run good QA without big data, it’s easier to spot weaknesses and patterns of behaviour with long-term activity tracking. 

To optimise your QA processes with big data, consider the following:

  • Changes in manufacturing processes over time
  • Customer experience data and complaint reports
  • Qualitative data from staff members
  • Industry-wide changes, e.g., new materials, new safety standards
  • Inconsistencies between staff members and teams

It may then be useful to engage data and SEO analytics tools. This is for a number of reasons, but largely because of the potential size of the data sets. In addition, it can be easier for an external consultant to identify quality issues than internal stakeholders. 

4. Specialisation and diversification

Like other industries, manufacturing survives by adapting. Big data is an invaluable tool when it comes to identifying areas of the manufacturing process that need adapting through specialisation or diversification. 

Particularly within niche industries, some manufacturing processes don’t change nearly as frequently as in other sectors. As a result, manufacturing businesses may find that they fall behind service-focused competitors. You may find that within your industry you are missing out on new methods to create higher-quality products or to improve business sustainability.

It’s beneficial here to collect cross-industry data. Collect as much data as possible on competitor products and long-term industry trends. You might also find consumer experience and wholesale data useful. 

5. Loss prevention

There are a number of ways that loss can result from manufacturing. We’ve already covered safety and quality, but information breaches can be equally damaging to a manufacturing business. You can use big data and data analysis to help prevent future loss and learn from past ones. 

Data breaches are serious errors, regardless of industry. While some industries have to be careful of customer data safety, manufacturing companies have to also be mindful of patented or trademarked information, as well as information on suppliers and distributors. 

You should be collecting data from every potential or actual data breach from your company and, where possible, from other companies in the same industries. When analysing this data, look for patterns, including the causes, nature and outcome of workplace cybersecurity threats or data breaches. 

Preventing data loss can, in turn, prevent financial loss through disciplinary action or reputational damage. 

The case for big data

Big data has garnered a difficult reputation in recent years. Some consumers have visions of faceless corporations using their data for nefarious purposes. However, when used correctly, big data can have a hugely positive impact on business processes with tailored solutions for the manufacturing industry

When collecting big data sets for your manufacturing department, remember to think carefully about the type of data you’re collecting and whether it’s relevant to manufacturing specifically. 

Ultimately the goal of big data is to process disparate data sets as one in order to provide a holistic view of your business processes and how they can be improved, reducing costs and saving valuable resources. 

If you can, cast a wide net in terms of what is helpful for manufacturing optimisation, as the point of big data is to mine diverse data for a wealth of information. Things like consumer habits can be as valuable as incident rates and wastage for optimising manufacturing processes using big data.

Three Spooktastic Digital Campaign Ideas to Set Your Brand Apart this Halloween

Once again, the spookiest season is upon marketers everywhere. Whether it is personally viewed as a beloved, or just-for-the-kids holiday is irrelevant, as Halloween now represents a momentous opportunity for businesses to creatively engage audiences and drive heightened levels of awareness and traffic to their websites.  

Every year, the occasion increasingly becomes more and more popular with adults and children alike, and has steadily become the third largest retail occasion after Christmas and Easter. Now, Halloween is expected to generate a total of £687 million in consumer spending this year alone. 

Brands of all sizes and industries can participate and get creative with their activity around Halloween, and use the opportunity to have some fun with their audiences. To mark the occasion, Lauren Gray, Digital PR Executive at Digital Ethos, is sharing her expertise on her favourite spooktastic brand campaigns, and how these can easily be adapted to suit businesses from across different industries, and on a smaller scale. 

Frightfully Immersive Online Events

In 2021, Mexican food giant Chipotle took its annual Halloween extravaganza ‘Boorito’ to a whole new, purely digital, level, hosting an immersive experience on the platform Roblox. From the 28th-31st of October, 30,000 Roblox users could dress up their avatars in exclusive Chipotle-themed costumes, and visit the restaurant’s virtual location and maze game to win special promo codes that were then redeemable on Chipotle’s app and website. 

Tying in its Halloween efforts with the excitement around metaverse activity, Chipotle became a digital innovator, and its Halloween efforts generated massive levels of engagement and media attention. 

Hosting an online, spine-chilling event can be a creative way to incorporate several marketing tactics and generate immense levels of user engagement. Using elements of the metaverse can be a fantastic opportunity to use the hype and interest still circulating, allowing for the activity to become a fantastic talking point for audiences that sets the brand apart from its competitors. 

This can extend to decorating the website homepage, from full-out Halloween attire complete with sinister text, colours and ghoulish animations, or even a smaller adjustment such as giving the business logo a suitably frightening costume, or switching to a darker website layout. 

For a more immersive interface, consider running an online event complete with interactive and personalised mini-games. For a clothing brand, this could be challenging users to locate the exclusive pumpkin discount, or for an events brand, this could be jumping in with the metaverse hype to create a spooky virtual world complete with scary characters and seasonal mini-games. 

Trick or Treat with PR Stunts

PR stunts are an incredibly effective way to generate attention and get people buzzing about a brand, usually from an unconventional and eccentric idea. What better timing than to use Halloween to entertain audiences with a thrillingly spooky stunt?

In 2018, Marmite got stuck into the fun by playing to its brand awareness as ‘love it or hate it’. The business did a product stunt and released two limited edition jars exclusively online – a ‘potion’ jar for the lovers of its spread, and a ‘poison’ jar for the haters. As a result, it sparked huge excitement on social media, creating a surge online as fans rushed to the website to get their own jars. 

The stunt was a success because Marmite understood the popularity of Halloween and its own brand image, and used it to create viral marketing with a simple change to its product packaging, resulting in exponential reach as more and more people heard about it, and then shared it with their social circles. 

Businesses can similarly use the thrills of Halloween to play trick or treat with their audiences, even on a smaller scale. This could be giving the packaging a suitably scary makeover like Marmite did or making the product names suitably Halloween-inspired. If businesses have the extra investment, they could create a Halloween-themed limited edition gift, or samples of upcoming products, which could be included as a ‘treat’ with every Halloween purchase made.  

Businesses can really stand out by entertaining audiences with a fake product launch. For instance, a food manufacturer could challenge customers to try a ghastly Halloween-inspired food dish, much like the Weetabix and Heinz baked beans stunt that garnered enormous social media attention. This campaign could incorporate social media polls to interact directly with the audience or have a downloadable fake recipe card and pumpkin-carving pattern on the website, accessible through email signups. 

Scarily-Easy Social Media Tricks

Scarily straightforward, an interactive social media campaign can be one of the easiest ways a brand can retain engagement with its audience, and expand its reach to new audiences. With Halloween, there is a thriller amount of campaign styles that businesses from all different industries could create, from interactive social media competitions and Halloween filters, to spookily-themed social media content posts. Don’t be afraid to make the most of Halloween hashtags and some frightfully spectacular puns! 

A great tip to use this season is to run a frightfully-fun giveaway competition, encouraging people to like and share the business’s post on social media to count as an ‘entry’ into the competition. Not only can this help attract new customers, but it also works to retain current customers and re-engage them with the brand. This can also be a great way to launch a new product or giveaway a sample of upcoming products as the exclusive prize, generating some extra excitement and interest. 

With the rise of TikTok, brands don’t have to be household names to generate high levels of engagement. Instead, brands can do spooky twists to viral trends and repurpose popular memes to build engagement and interest. For example, a makeup brand could demonstrate how to effectively remove Halloween makeup, using a viral audio clip over the top of the video, or a sustainable brand could demonstrate how viewers can repurpose their pumpkins after October. 

Boo! The Main Takeaways

Halloween is a fantastic opportunity for brands, not only to have fun with audiences and drive engagement but also to test suitable marketing strategies ahead of larger retail occasions such as Christmas. 

Adopting one, or more, of these frightfully fun tips into current strategies will be a sure way to entertain and delight audiences, old and new, on relatively small budgets. Yet, while Halloween is a night of fright and thrills, it is important that brands first understand what is most suitable for their audiences and ensure the activity they are going for is scarily-good fun, to avoid a PR nightmare of their own!

How Can SMEs Best Plan for a Recession?

By Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero

With a possible deep recession on the cards for the UK in the coming months, the outlook for many SMEs is daunting, but there are ways to navigate the impending challenges.

Here are some things you can do as a business to reduce the impact of a recession and best look after your employees.

Reduced cash flow

As everyone’s budgets get tighter and purchases get delayed, small businesses might find that they’re not getting the same amount of revenue coming in as before. Likewise, their operating costs might increase, putting further strain on cash flow. 

To help reduce the risk, keep an eye out for common red flags in your cash flow, including a lack of visibility and mounting bills. Get ahead of those early issues by running cash flow forecasts monthly, reassessing your business plan and speaking to your accountant or advisor about future troubleshooting. 

Employee layoffs

As small and medium-sized businesses see reduced cash flow, it’s likely budget cuts are on the cards. Unfortunately, job losses can sometimes be a key part of those cuts – although that’s not to say that redundancy has to be the first thought. Just like during the pandemic, there are alternatives to redundancy, including reduced hours, job-sharing or stand down periods. Ensure you’re meeting your compliance requirements and that you’ve formalised any changes.

Lack of demand

If you’re an SME that depends on a few large customers for the bulk of your revenue, you could be at particular risk. In a recession, everyone has to cut costs, and should you lose an important customer or client, your business could really take a hit. Make sure that you’re scenario-planning for the loss of any potential customers in the future. 

Limited marketing

As your business investigates ways to cut costs amid decreasing revenue, one of the most common budgets to get reduced is marketing spend. That said, there’s nothing like tough times to promote innovation. Now is the time to really try things differently in your marketing.

Lending limits

With the recession impact, it’s not just customers and businesses who get more cautious with spending. Lenders will restrict what they give out too, making it challenging for businesses to access lines of credit. There could also be an increase in interest rates and stricter criteria for eligibility.

With that in mind, SMEs should be cautious about any borrowing they’re considering for the future, as well as any outstanding loans they already have.

Have a business continuity plan in place

Making a business continuity plan is essential, not just for natural disasters or pandemics, but when your company is under financial strain. Assess the impact of a recession on your business and think creatively about how you can react.

Be agile in your business plan

In a recession, challenges can throw a spanner in the works of your business plan. It’s important that you don’t get too attached to earlier dreams, instead thinking creatively about how your company will survive in the future. 

Utilise government business grants and schemes

If the recession impact could really hurt your finances, look into available government grants and schemes for businesses. This support is often preferable to high interest loans and can be an important lifeline until we reach economic growth again.

Consider payroll software to roster more effectively

If your payroll processes are all over the place, it might be time to consider how you can safeguard that part of your business. Having software that can regularly report on how much you’re spending, as well as how efficiently employees are being rostered on shifts, will allow you to see where cost cuts can be made.

Employees feel the pinch of a global financial crisis too

As stressful as a recession is for small business owners, don’t forget that everyone feels the effect in times like this. Make sure you’re not just focusing on budget cuts, but considering how your team members are getting on. Share your employee assistance program (EAP) details with your team and encourage them to use it.

5 Best Offline Tools to Improve Your Brand Awareness In 2022

One of the primary goals of marketers is to construct a reputable brand. Numerous studies show how effective it is to create a well-known brand. That’s why it’s crucial to use a well-planned approach to raising brand recognition. Brand awareness, conversion rates, and bottom-line results may all be increased by careful research into your target demographic and the delivery of targeted, relevant information through the most effective channels.

In addition, many businesses spend money on advertising to draw in customers and financiers. 82% of investors consider brand familiarity a key consideration when making purchases. In addition to raising awareness of your brand, a well-executed brand loyalty plan may extend the lifetime value of your consumers. Likewise, research shows that 43% of buyers will increase their spending on their favorite companies.

Since brand awareness is pretty significant for any business, these piece offers 5 of the best offline tools you can use to your advantage in 2022:

1. Digital Solutions

By 2022, you should have already started investing in digital signage solutions. Digital signage is a great way to improve brand awareness and reach new customers. With digital signage, you can display your branding, marketing materials, and special offers in a convenient and eye-catching way.

Well chosen digital signage solution can help you improve your brand awareness. With such products as, for example, Look DS Service, you can quickly and easily create professional-looking displays that will help you stand out from the competition.

2. Marketing Tools

It’s no secret that one of the best ways to improve your brand awareness is through online channels. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore offline tools. You can use some great offline tools to get your brand in front of more people. One great example is street marketing. It is a great way to reach people you might not contact through other channels. It’s also great to connect with potential customers and get them interested in your product or service.

Also, the best part? There are a lot of different street marketing tools that you can use, so you can find the ones that work best for you. Some of the most popular street marketing tools include:

  • Guerrilla marketing
  • Flash mobs
  • Street art

3. Print Media

Print media can be a great way to improve your brand awareness in 2022. Just think about it—when was the last time you saw an online ad that made you stop and take notice? Probably not recently, right? But you’ve probably seen plenty of print ads that caught your eye.

That’s because when it comes to getting your message across, print media still has a lot of advantages over online media. For starters, it’s tactile, which means people are more likely to interact with it. Also, since people tend to process print ads more deeply than online ads, it can be a great way to deliver your message and make an impact.

4. Community Events

One of the best ways to improve your brand awareness is to get involved with community events. It will help you connect with potential customers and give you a chance to show off your products and services hands-on. For example, if you’re a digital signage solutions provider, you could offer to set up a display at a local charity event. It is a great way to show off your products and services while giving back to the community.

Community events are a great opportunity to network with other business owners and learn from their experiences. So if you’re looking for ways to improve your brand awareness, getting involved with community events is a great place to start.

5. Word of Mouth 

Word of mouth is a very efficient way to reach potential customers. When someone recommends a product or service to a friend, they are likelier to listen and take action than if they saw an advertisement. It is also more credible than other forms of marketing. When people hear about a product from a friend, they are more likely to believe it is a good product than if they saw an advertisement.

Additionally, word of mouth is a great way to build relationships with potential customers. When someone talks to a friend about a product, they are more likely to remember the conversation and the person who recommended the product. It can help build a relationship between the customer and the company.

Brand recognition might seem like an uphill struggle, but it’s rather simple to achieve with the right tools. Raising your brand’s profile is an effective way to demonstrate your worth to customers; offline tools can be an excellent starting point. However, keep in mind that expanding your brand’s visibility is a continuous process that calls for constant experimentation with new tactics.

5 Tips For Successfully Running a Hotel

When guests visit a hotel, they’re looking for excellence in everything from customer service to amenities to décor. As the hotel owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure every member of the team shares the same vision of excellency. To help send guests away with smiles while leaving positive reviews online, we’ve gathered together six tips for successfully running a hotel.

Invest In Your Business

If you owned a rental property, you need to spend money to increase its value, and a hotel is no different. Every month, you need to flush cash back into the hotel and steadily increase its overall value. To track your investments and make sure you’re making the most money you can from the hotel, closely follow ADR and RevPAR metrics. If the figures show greater potential, it’s time to invest more money and increase its value.

Train Staff in Excellent Service

Excellent customer service is what sets apart good hotels from outstanding ones. Although everyone is responsible for delivering the same standard of customer service, it’s the hotel manager’s job to ensure everyone is trained to do so. Training needs to take place during onboarding, as well as ongoing through regular 1v1 meetings, online training, and staff meetings.

Improve Bedroom Amenities

The more amenities you can offer, the more guests you will attract. Having a TV, Wi-Fi, bedside plugs, teas and coffees, towels, and toiletries should be a standard in hotel rooms. People like plenty of storage in hotel rooms, which you can boost by putting in a stylish Vidaxl TV unit. In luxury rooms, set up a nook for guests can sit down to enjoy their morning coffee. All you need to add are cosy chairs, high-quality coffee tables, and the latest newspapers.

Follow The Latest Trends

Social trends change all the time, meaning rooms become outdated quickly. Therefore, you should follow publications and social media to find out what’s hot. For example, many people are taking their own streaming devices – like Amazon Firesticks. However, they can only plug them in if your TVs have HDMI/USB ports, which they should in today’s tech climate.

Execute a Great Marketing Plan

Marketing in 2022 takes much more than throwing out a few flyers and putting up a billboard. Instead, you need to have a well-put-together strategy that includes web copy, social media, email marketing, and influencer publicity. To hit the correct audience, you will need to research to find out where your guests like to “hang out” online. As well as telling people your hotel is there, you need a way to update people on special events and offers – you can do this through social media posting and email lists.

Conclusion

Improving a hotel is a task that never truly competes because there will always be a margin for improvement, whether that be amenities, décor, or overall customer service. Only by constantly reviewing hotel operations, training staff, and receiving customer feedback can you dream of staying ahead of your competition.

iMind Reviews: a Decent Video-Conferencing Platform for Small and Large Businesses

Video conferencing services help organize online rallies, conferences, webinars, and seminars in the UK and all around the globe. Thanks to such software as iMind, you can improve the efficiency of joint and communication in the remote work of your company. Read some of the iMind reviews to make sure this is a right choice for your company.

The Main Reasons Why People Prefer the iMind Platform

What are the iMind video conferencing platform characteristics that should be taken into account?

Simple to use

It will be possible to access online events, with the help of the iMind video conferencing tool for companies. A participant is not required to install any applications to join a call and to talk. Use the browser on a PC or mobile device to run a webinar with high volume and sound quality, noise suppression, recording capabilities, and chat.

Privacy and the GDPR concerns

The GDPR, a global standard, is responsible for the protection of personal data. iMind is a worldwide company that adheres to this standard, so you can feel at ease regarding your privacy on the platform.

Defending your conference room

The business took efforts to make sure that only the people you invited could view your webinar.

What Options Does iMind Have?

The iMind service has the following benefits: a free plan, simultaneous screen sharing, free construction of up to 10 rooms, high-definition video (SD to HD, but not 4K), and background noise cancellation.

By providing the room’s name and getting a URL, a meeting room may be readily formed. Simply duplicate it, and then distribute it to another participant.

Let’s go to choose the plan that best meets your needs. Read more about iMind features on iMind’s official Facebook account.

iMind Plans: Which Is the Best for You?

There are four different plans available on the iMind platform. Let’s examine their feature and function sets.

All four options, including the free one, include an infinite number of meetings, 100 participants at a time maximum, 24 hours of personal meetings, and 24 hours of group meetings.

If you want more, take note of the enhanced subscriptions, which provide extras such as numerous rooms, a personal subdomain, a personal support account, cloud storage, priority 24/7 assistance, etc.

You can select between the first two packages, a Free and a Pro, if you don’t run a large business and don’t require a greater range of features and functions.

Here is further information about how they differ from one another:

A Free plan provides unlimited cloud storage, a group gathering time restriction of 24 hours, a maximum of 100 members, and simultaneous screen sharing.

The control of permissions and authorization, no cap on the number of rooms, rooms for both people and groups, and room branding are all included in the pro plan.

Select the program that best meets your needs.

Users’ Reviews About iMind.com in the United Kingdom. Many iMind reviews and evaluations can be found at https://www.g2.com/products/imind/reviews if you want to make sure everything is ideal for your job or any other activities you engage in.

The user experience in conducting online conferences has already taken shape. This is the ability to transmit voice and video from your webcam, as well as write something in a chat for business. All video conferencing vendors are working to improve these parameters. iMind is not an exception. The company works hard to become better and better every day. That is why you should choose it for your business. For a connection that is reliable, consistent, and productive wherever you are, use iMind right away!

6 Different Types of Marketing For Running a Successful Business

As technology has evolved, more and more businesses have felt drawn to areas of digital marketing specifically. It’s very popular across the United Kingdom, with the nation having spent a staggering £23.47 billion on digital advertising in 2021.

Marketing is all around us. We cannot go about our daily lives without coming across at least one example. Bus stop posters, Facebook browsing, leaflets…even coffee cups are a form of marketing.

The industry, both digital and traditional, exists to support all areas of business, including product development, distribution, sales and advertising.

Here we explore six popular types of marketing and how they can be used to improve business performance.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

A highly visible website means more traffic and more opportunities to convert browsers into buyers, which is why search engine optimisation is a crucial marketing strategy. 68% of online experiences start with a search engine; if a business’s website isn’t anywhere to be seen on the results page, they’re guaranteed to be missing out on valuable visits.

For an SEO strategy to be successful, it must address numerous topics, including technical, on-page, content, and off-page. It’s important to note that this form of marketing is by no means a quick fix – it can take as long as 12 months to see considerable results.

Content Marketing

Growing a business becomes easier once you understand the fundamentals of content marketing and how to apply them to your specific goals. In its simplest form, this type of marketing is the technique of creating and distributing relevant, quality content to influence profitable customer action.

Once a plan is in place and the content has been created, it must then be shared across the relevant channels, such as social media and news websites, to attract and convert new and existing customers. Content could include articles, newsletters, videos, and podcasts.

Social Media Marketing

Whether you like it or hate it, social media is a massive part of our society. When used correctly with the right strategy and compelling content, businesses can connect with their target audience and encourage them to engage in conversation and interaction.

 4.62 billion people globally use social media, so it’s a great opportunity for companies to promote who they are, what they do, and how they can help their prospective and existing clients.

Video Marketing

Videos are a fantastic tool to help businesses reach a wider audience in a way that’s modern, on-trend, and engaging. For the ultimate video marketing strategy, creating specific goals that align well with the overall business growth strategy is imperative. Once that’s in place, businesses can identify the best platforms for video exposure, before getting down to the creative elements and producing their promotional videos.

Email Marketing

An email marketing campaign involves a series of well-written, visually appealing emails that help businesses connect with the audience in their inbox. Not only is this form of marketing great for brand awareness but also lead generation.

What businesses choose to discuss in their emails will depend entirely on their goals. For example, a company may use this as an opportunity to promote a new product or service to their existing email list.

Not only is taking advantage of video marketing fantastic for brand awareness, but 78% of marketing professionals claim videos have helped increase sales.

Print Marketing

One of the most traditional forms of marketing, print remains a powerful way to grow your business – and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. This form of advertising uses printed media, such as leaflets, brochures, and business cards to get key messages across to a business’s target audience.

Despite living in a digital age, many consumers respond better to printed materials than virtual materials. Information given to an audience on something tangible helps to instil trust and familiarity, and brand recognition can be amplified.

There’s So Much More To Be Explored

If you want to pursue a career in marketing or gain a deeper understanding of the topic to improve your business, undertaking an MSc digital marketing course can boost your knowledge and refine your skills.

There are so many different types of marketing, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, an avenue that works brilliantly for one business might turn out to be a disaster for another. Being successful in marketing a business often requires a lot of exploration and even some trial and error.

Don’t give up, because there’s so much triumph to be enjoyed once you find the right formula for your own goals.

How Multi-Platform Solutions Support the Hybrid Workspace

Cloud-based technology and other multi-platform solutions enable enterprises with hybrid workspaces to function. The question of how has technology impacted the workplace has been asked frequently in recent years, particularly as many employers have implemented work-from-home options, flexible work schedules, or other hybrid arrangements.

Using Multi-Platform Solutions as Hybrid Work Technology

The best multi-platform solutions provide employees with the tools and resources they need to succeed in hybrid work environments. These demands vary based on industry, but the leading systems provide native functionality or integration support for a wide range of tasks and processes.

Most multi-platform systems require that employees have access to equipment and software. Employers can either supply these resources directly or find other ways to subsidize the cost of setting up a home office. The money and time that an organization invests in the successful implementation of a multi-platform solution can pay off in a number of ways.

Supportive Workplace Management Software Features

A robust multi-platform solution can support a hybrid workplace in any or all of the following ways:

Code-free automation: Built-in support for automation can streamline workflows and approval processes.Collaborative communication: The ability to communicate with other users virtually through text, audio or video and work together in real-time on documents can be transformative for digital teams.Real-time connection: Remote users can count on having access to the latest versions of documents.Secure access: Security is an important consideration for hybrid workplaces.Transparent tasks: Clear user identification in collaborative virtual workspaces and detailed audit records make it easier to keep tabs on contributors and track progress.These features are available in the leading multi-platform systems that a growing number of enterprises are licensing for use in hybrid workspaces. A growing number of multi-platform solutions are available for both Apple iOS and Android devices and can be used with compatible integrations.

Implementing Multi-Platform Solutions In Hybrid Workspaces

In order to configure a multi-platform solution for a hybrid environment, decision-makers must first identify the requirements for completing tasks and processes and ensure that employees have access to any necessary computers, devices, hardware, and software.

Once employees are granted secure access to multi-platform systems, they should be able to do everything they need to do to complete tasks and processes and reach objectives while working from any location. They typically require training to do this properly.

Hybrid Workplace Strategy Optimization Tips

The following tips for maximizing the effectiveness of multi-platform solutions are particularly helpful in the context of hybrid workspaces:

Plan workflows: Employees working remotely and in the office should be on the same page regarding what to do and when tasks need to be done.Clear delegation of responsibilities: Each member of a hybrid team should have a clearly defined role and tasks.Collaborate across platforms: Decision-makers should prioritize multi-platform solutions that enable distributed teams to collaborate effectively.Automate approval processes: It is possible to eliminate bottlenecks in processes by automating critical functions and setting notifications when the need for manual input arises.Keep focusing on optimization: Some changes may immediately increase productivity, while other experiments may present a learning curve or require fine-tuning.It is best to approach optimization as an ongoing process. Productivity measures and experiments with workflow automation may alter the duration of processes or change the manual steps that are involved in work.

Selecting the Best Multi-Platform Solutions

There are many multi-platform solutions for enterprises, but not all of these offerings will be useful to every organization. The need to accommodate hybrid work or improve the functionality or user experience that the current systems offer tends to be a driving factor for seeking out these types of solutions. Decision-makers should factor in what hybrid or remote work will involve in addition to uses for multi-platform solutions in other work environments to make the right choice.

System compatibility, ease of use, and pricing are three of the most important factors when selecting a multi-platform solution. It is also worthwhile to consider whether a solution supports integration with third-party applications to provide additional features.

Preparing for the Hybrid Future of Workplaces

The best way to prepare a business for the hybrid future of work starts with considering how has technology impacted the workplace and then optimizing workflows accordingly. Enterprises that allow for flexible or hybrid working arrangements can use multi-platform solutions to provide remote staff with the access and support they need to succeed.

A woman with glasses is a freelancer working in an office using a laptop, making a project report

The Importance of Business Process Documentation in Business Performance Tracking

By Yauhen Zaremba – Director of Demand Generation

Unless you’re the Velma of the office, you probably don’t want to deal with things like business process documentation. It sounds dull, we get it. But, just like brushing your teeth every day is good for your health, documenting your business processes, such as how to create purchase orders, is vital to the healthy functioning of your business. 

Why? Because measuring and tracking your progress and performance requires some studious documentation. How will you know how well you’re doing if you don’t keep track? Or where to make some changes? 

What is business process documentation & why should we care? 

So, process documentation is the task of outlining all the specific steps in a work process and putting that information in a process document. This offers clear instructions to your colleagues about how to perform a task from start to finish. 

Onboarding

Why is this important? Well, it’s a great resource for helping new members of the team to get acquainted with the lay of the land. It speeds up the onboarding process, and offers a resource that new hires can consult without having to ask their colleagues lots of questions about tools such as PandaDoc and Docusign all the time. 

By writing out and specifying the exact steps an employee has to take in each individual task, you create a blueprint of the work that anyone can pick up and learn from, speeding up the onboarding process. And the more quickly a person can get used to a role, the faster they can finish their training and start adding value to the organisation. 

Agility

It’s also a great resource to have in case the person who is usually responsible for that task is off sick, or on holiday, for a while. Then someone else can just jump in and do their task. When you have an organisation that’s overly dependent on specific individuals to run smoothly, you end up being beholden to those people. 

This is not a great situation to be in as it creates an unhealthy and unsustainable power imbalance, and also makes it hard for those people to take a day off. When you document the processes from start to finish, it takes the burden off those people and empowers the rest of the team to carry on as usual. 

Transparency

Business process documentation is also great for transparency, which is especially important when it comes to adhering to local regulations and laws surrounding things like how you use and store data. By writing down your process, you can more easily check that you are not missing any crucial steps or accidentally breaking any local laws. 

You can also use process documentation to prove to others that you are following the rules around things like small business loans

Automation

If you wish to automate certain parts of your work, especially the more repetitive tasks that could quite easily be done by a computer, then documenting your business processes can help in that endeavour. Coders and programmers can use that information in order to tell the computer what it needs to do in different scenarios. 

This usually ends up saving time that would otherwise be spent by your colleagues on repetitive, long tasks, freeing them up for more complex and interesting work, or just work that can’t easily be done by a computer. 

So, documenting your processes makes your workplace ultra-agile, and gives everyone the possibility to help out with anything within the organisation if they need to. It makes your business more resilient to sudden changes, like people changing jobs or going on holiday and adds transparency to your processes, which helps with adhering to rules and regulations. Lastly, it also offers the possibility of automating particular tasks.  

Tips for documenting your processes

There are a lot of ways to document your processes, and you should choose the method that suits your office best. 

Format 

Your process documents can be in various formats, such as a basic checklist, a flowchart, a video tutorial – anything that helps people through a task, step by step. You could decide on the format as a team. The important thing is to make it as easy to understand and absorb the information as possible, so clarity is key. 

If you decide to make a video, make sure it’s clear, includes subtitles where there is speech, and is not overly long to make it easier to absorb. If you make a flowchart or checklist, choose a font that is easy to read, and try to keep the structure as simple as possible. 

Updating

You should regularly and consistently update your process documents to make sure that they are always relevant and usable. You don’t want to confuse people with information that’s no longer relevant to the company. This might involve updating contact details, information about delegating, where to get the best free electronic signature for your contracts, and any other improvements or changes around rules and regulations. 

You could delegate someone in your team to be in charge of regularly updating the process documentation, and they could work with various members of your team to check if the information is correct. 

Storing

Your process documents should be stored in a central location that is easy for anyone in the company to access. You can have online and offline copies, but just make sure that anyone working remotely is not at a disadvantage. 

To summarise…

Process documentation might seem like an arduous process, but it greatly simplifies the process of onboarding new recruits, makes your office more agile, and helps show which areas can be automated. It also helps you to ensure that you are adhering to rules and regulations. And, if you’ve been at the job a long time, it can help you refresh your memory about processes you may not have had to do in a while. 

The Places Senior Decision Makers Are Networking Effectively

Networking is the art of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other executives. Research shows that it is an effective strategy for attracting the best hires. In addition, having a solid network is one of the keys to business success. 

However, networking with others does not come easy, especially if you don’t know where to find prospects. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of the different places senior decision-makers are networking effectively.

1. Online 

Being visible online opens doors to various opportunities. Social media can be an effective tool for this. You can use it to create connections for business and communicate and establish rapport with clients and business prospects. 

Establishing relationships and building credibility is crucial for senior decision-makers. It can be as simple as replying to comments on your social network and acknowledging feedback. Since the interaction is more personal, it allows you to humanise your brand and build authentic relationships within your community. Nowadays, everyone seems to be active on a social network, so connecting with others is easy, especially if you reach out to them using personal accounts. You can also tap into social media tools to help with networking. For instance, Twitter, you can use Twitter Advanced Search to connect with people within your industry.

When networking through Twitter, begin by identifying your prospects, such as coaches, fellow senior decision-makers, thought leaders, business owners, etc. After this, use the words stated on their bios, tweets and hashtags. Enter these words in the search field, and you can join the conversation.

2. Social Events 

One of the best places to network is at social events. Once you meet a potential contact at these events, take advantage of the situation and connect with the person. However, connecting to strangers may not be easy, especially if you are not someone sociable. Thankfully, there are ways you can network at social events without feeling awkward.

The best approach is to share what you can offer the person you are talking to instead of how you can benefit from them. Don’t hesitate to share information. For instance, you can open the conversation by discussing the latest trends in your industry and demonstrating your expertise in these aspects. Another thing you can do is to look for someone you knew at the event and see if that person can introduce you to some prospects. It’s one of the best ways to grow your network of connections.

Once you have started a conversation with a prospect, pay close attention. Even simple gestures will count. Make a positive impression by listening intently to what the other person is trying to say. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure they are relevant to the topic. Listen to what they are trying to tell you and respond accordingly.

3. Worldwide Conference Events  

Senior leaders should make time for conference events despite their busy schedules if they want to build their network. Attending conferences and events is a big deal for senior decision-makers as it’s the best way to connect with new people and learn the latest about their industry. 

Conferences are not only about speeches and talks. They are also about building a community. Business conferences are aimed at people who have the same interests. For instance, IBTM World in Barcelona is a gathering of people in the events and meetings industry. IBTM is a high quality corporate buyer industry event for people to network, share ideas, and connect with relevant professionals.

Aside from listening to talks from industry experts, attending business conferences can help you become a better decision-maker. Being part of a community that understands your business and shares the same products and services is a great way to gather valuable input to help you make the best decision for your business. You will hear about things in your industry that might be new to you and can be a big help in your decision-making process.

4. Job Fairs 

Job fairs are not only a chance to look for career opportunities, but it’s also a fantastic avenue to grow your network. It allows you to speak with employees and employers in your industry. Even if you are not looking for a job or hiring employees, it’s still a great way to expand your professional network. 

When networking at job fairs, make sure you bring some business and hand them out to your business prospects and other professionals who may be able to help you connect with people in your industry. Before coming to the event, get your pitch ready. It refers to how you introduce yourself, including a few lines about your products or services. It should be under half a minute. Practice ahead since you could run into your prospects at an unexpected place or time.

The key to networking is showing that you are genuinely interested in people. People can sense if you are not true to your intentions. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with the other party, you should treat everyone fairly and show you are genuinely interested. These people may help you reach out to companies that can be a big help to your business. 

5. Classes and Learning Events 

Attending professional development classes and learning events is another way to expand your network. Aside from helping you develop your professional career, these classes allow you to meet people in the same fields as yours. 

Most of these learning events are focused on a particular topic or skill, so you can be sure that the people you meet there are in the same industry as you. You can watch presentations or participate in interactive learning, which is an ideal opportunity to network with people. 

Make sure you participate in any activity since this is how you can interact with others who may be able to refer you to potential prospects. Join in discussions, as it’s one way to build a connection with people in your class. These classes are a good investment because aside from learning, you also get a chance to expand your professional network.

How MetaTrader became the leading forex platform

Foreign exchange (forex) is hands-down the biggest market in the world, with a worldwide value of more than USD$ 2.4 quadrillion. The effects of foreign exchange trades are felt everywhere in the world—from the price of fish and chips at your favourite shop to the price of coconuts in Indonesia.

Consequently, forex trading is immensely popular. And with the rise of the Internet’s popularity, forex trading also became accessible. Trading is no longer limited to banks, hedge funds, and other large institutions.

An estimated 9.6 million people worldwide engage in online forex trading. One of the main reasons for this is the convenience brought on by online trading platforms. Online or electronic trading platforms made forex trading more straightforward than before the Internet.

One particular trading platform, however, has been lording it over the other platforms since its release: the MetaTrader 4 (MT4).

An overview of the Metatrader forex platform

The MetaTrader 4 software trading platform was released in 2005 when the MetaQuotes Software Corporation issued the fourth iteration of its online trading platform. Upon its release, MT4 was an instant hit among brokers. Today, the platform is licensed to transact with forex brokers who, in turn, provide the platform to their clients.

The MT4 platform has both a server and client component; the server part is handled by the forex broker, while clients use the software’s client side to place orders, monitor charts and prices, and manage other activities in their accounts. MT4 connects various trading platforms, making trade possible via computers or mobile devices.  

MetaQuotes Software released MetaTrader 5 in 2010, an upgraded version meant to replace the previous version eventually. However, instead of being a replacement for MT4, most forex brokers used MT5 as support for MT4. As far as the majority of brokers are concerned, MT4 is still the gold standard for online trading platforms.      

So how did MetaTrader 4 manage to do this?

Reasons why MT4 is the leading Forex platform

Due to its popularity, most brokers today offer MT4 or MT5 to their clients. Below are several reasons why:

Familiarity

MetaTrader was among the first online trading platforms. Being among the first gave the software an advantage, as clients didn’t have other viable choices. By the time other online platforms came around, traders and brokers had become familiar with the product. There may be other options now, but most forex traders have already got used to the tried and tested MT4.

Moreover, any beginner is free to use the software’s demo. You can open a demonstration account if you want to try out MT4. This account enables you to do a “test drive” for free with no deposit. Using the MetaTrader 4 or 5, you just need to provide your email and other personal information to a forex broker.

Once you have your demo account, you can use demo money to play. You can familiarise yourself with how the platform works without risking your capital.   

Useful features

MT4 immediately became popular among brokers after its release in 2005 because of its numerous useful features. Some of these features are now considered market standard, but back then, these features were unique and extremely useful. The features made market analysis and trading straightforward. Some of the main features are the following:

  • Automated trading
  • Navigator window
  • Indicators window
  • Market watch window
  • Multiple charts setup

More features have been added since the software was first released. Some of these added features are one-click trading, a signals section, a news section, and new trading tools. 

Moreover, there are thousands of indicators you can use on the platform. Around 80 of these are free and pre-installed. If you want customised indicators, you can hire developers to create one or write one yourself if you’re a coder. Among other things, MetaTrader is also customisable.

Intuitive user interface

The ease of navigating MT4’s interface made it popular among traders. Instead of dealing with a complicated interface, their focus is on spotting market opportunities and making profitable deals.

MT4’s intuitive user interface is noticeable upon logging in. After the platform launches, the trader is faced with the software’s default view, which consists of these three modules:

  • Market Watch: Market Watch is found in the top left section. This module contains the list of trading instruments or the various types of assets that you can use to trade on the platform. You can also choose which instrument to use. This section also allows you to customise which market to watch besides forex. You can monitor real-time price changes in different markets, like commodities and indices.
  • Chart window: The chart window is on the top right. It shows you the price movements of a trading instrument over a time period you’ve specified, i.e., whether weekly, daily or hourly. Charts provide critical data for traders, which is used for analysis. The data is also used to work with indicators and the platform’s “Expert Advisor.”

Expert Advisor refers to the installed analytical program in MT4 that you can use to customise your trading strategy.

  • Terminal: The terminal is the module on the bottom. Here, you can organise and monitor your cash operations, trading account history, margin, trading activities, and overall equity. You can also edit your positions through the Terminal module, such as adding Take Profit levels or Stop Losses.

Provides convenience to traders

Another feature of the MetaTrader platform that contributed to its popularity is convenience. There are several aspects of the platform that manifest this; some of which are discussed below:

  • Minimal resources: The platform isn’t a resource hog. It runs on minimal resources, even on a low-bandwidth connection. You don’t need a powerful computer or a high bandwidth connection to run the program.
  • Security: MT4 is protected by a robust security solution. The security has been upgraded and protected against DoS (Denial of Service) attacks. Data transmission is encrypted using a 129-bit key. The platform itself supports RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) digital signature, and the traders’ IP addresses are hidden by default. These security features mean you can access your account from different devices with a high degree of security.
     
  • Server stability: The MT4 server has been upgraded and refined since its release in 2005. As a result, it has become more advanced and more stable than others of its kind. Today’s version of MetaTrader can support tens of thousands of trades at the same time with nary a bother.
     
  • Communication: Another convenient feature is the mailbox section in the client terminal. Through the mailbox, brokers can communicate with their clients in real time, which is a huge convenience.

Free to traders

MT4 was first offered to traders for free. And it will always be free for any trader’s use. This fact alone made it preferable to other platforms that charge fees. And along with its eminently usable and intuitive features enumerated above, MT4 will always be the leading forex platform.

Summary

Foreign exchange is among the world’s most popular and influential markets, with millions of traders using the platform. Despite the increase in competition, MT4 remained the leading forex platform. Some of the reasons for this are its useful features, intuitive user interface, convenience, and the fact that it’s also free to traders.

In-house App Development Isn’t Always the Most Cost-effective Strategy

By Lindsay Lucas, CEO, Software Solved

Tapping into the expertise of third-party data and software consultancies can offer better ROI – especially for SMEs

For small to medium-sized companies, outsourcing elements of business operations is now common practice as a way to streamline processes, tap into expertise and save money. Today’s customers expect more from software applications than ever before. Piecemeal solutions that provide only a few noteworthy features are quickly being overtaken by more comprehensive platforms that deliver an end-to-end experience for users. This has prompted developers to incorporate more capabilities, while also building innovative features that set their solutions apart from the competition. Thanks to third-party software integrations, they’re able to meet both demands.

From a user experience standpoint, third-party software providers can build more cohesive software solutions that provide all the essential features a customer may require.

Key Third-Party Data and Software Provider Benefits

There are a number of important benefits organisations can gain from using third-party software providers, which includes reducing development costs. When evaluating whether it makes sense to build functionality for an application in-house or use a third-party software provider, cost is frequently one of the key considerations. There is often a tendency to think that it would be more cost-effective to have in-house developers already working on the project simply build the capabilities they need on their own.

In practice, however, this approach usually ends up being more expensive in the long run. That’s because in-house developers working on the project often lack the experience needed to build those capabilities quickly. This means quite a lot of time is spent on development work and on-the-job learning to get the new capabilities up and running and thoroughly tested.

When these internal development costs are taken into account, it’s almost always more cost-effective to outsource to an experienced third-party data software provider.

Getting to Market Faster

With new technology hitting the market faster than ever, there’s tremendous pressure to keep development timelines on track and avoid missing important deadlines. Third-party providers can ensure projects stay within their expected budgets, preventing potential competitors from getting to market faster. Any steps that can be taken to accelerate development and potentially shorten the timeline to releasing a product, could mean the difference between becoming an industry innovator or not.

Third-party software providers seamlessly integrate essential capabilities into applications without compromising project timelines. By keeping projects on or ahead of schedule, they can focus on delivering a better, more robust product that exceeds customer expectations.

Expanding Application Features & Functionality

Third-party software development teams typically possess the experience and expertise needed to build the core architecture and innovative features of a new applications. In many cases, they’re designing something unique that will provide a point of differentiation in the market. The more time they can spend on refining and expanding those capabilities, the more likely the application is to make an impact and win over customers.

What in-house developers often lack are the skills needed to implement a variety of other features that will enhance the application’s functionality. By integrating third-party software developers, an organisation can leverage proven, feature-rich technology to expand  their capabilities.

Why switch to a third-party provider?

One of the key factors why firms switch to third-party support is cost-benefits, especially if you take into account factors such as the maintenance and upkeep of legacy systems. Systems receive the individual attention of experts combined with the leverage of availing tailored solutions that are tuned to shifting business needs.

Businesses are not vulnerable to the enterprise decisions of withdrawing support for older and phased-out systems. Third-party specialists can integrate these effectively. Third-party data and software solutions providers offer a wide range of expert services that are scalable, hence why the cost savings can be channelled into fresh initiatives.

The best integration providers will work with organisations to customise their solutions to meet specific application needs, which helps create even smoother user experiences and enhances reliability.

The Challenges SMEs Face When Sending Employees Abroad

Martyn Swann, head of SME distribution – AXA Global Healthcare 

When someone decides they want a job that will give them the opportunity to live overseas, the chances are that they’re more likely to send their CV to a large corporate with established headquarters around the world than they are an SME. 

The reality is though, that this needn’t be the case. The opportunity to travel is becoming more of an achievable goal for those who are hungry to experience life abroad, while the need for businesses to expand their reach to an international level – even while still relatively small – is becoming increasingly prevalent. 

However, there are certainly challenges to having staff based overseas, and I would advise a smaller business to consider the following scenarios carefully before sending an employee to work for an extended period in another country. 

The strain on resources and budgets 

Sending someone to work overseas can be a major investment, both in terms of time and money. Unlike their larger counterparts, small businesses are unlikely to employ someone dedicated to looking after expat assignments, so supporting employees with requirements such as visa applications and getting to grips with local regulations can all too often add to the demands faced by small businesses.  

Likewise, where larger companies will often cover expenses such as accommodation, moving costs, healthcare, and children’s education fees, providing a benefits package with all the support an employee needs in their new life can be a significant challenge for a smaller business. If they try to offer such support, they’re increasing the amount of money on the line, but if they don’t, the expat and their family will be under greater stress which could affect the outcome of the assignment. We know that SMEs place huge importance on their duty of care, particularly for talent retention purposes, so they look to balance their costs with nurturing employees.   

Finding the right staff… and keeping them 

Recruiting and retaining the right staff is always a significant challenge, however, the importance of choosing the right person for an overseas assignment is second to none. Finding someone who is flexible enough to embrace the change and dedicated to driving the business forward is essential. 

What’s more, while many assignees start with the best intentions, they can easily feel lonely, especially if they’re used to working in a vibrant office in their home country or required to work alone in their new location. 

In a piece of research*, 17% of expats in the UK relied on their relationships to improve their wellbeing. SMEs need to make sure that their staff are supported and don’t come to feel as though they’ve been forgotten. This can be a challenge in itself though, especially if the company has no local HR contact for the employee to sit down and speak with face to face. 

I would encourage SMEs to arrange regular, dedicated appointments with overseas team members if they have them, to catch up and understand their challenges and successes – both inside and outside of work. Discussing these together will help to reassure the assignee that they are supported and an integral part of the team. For smaller SMEs sending one or two team members abroad, it would be beneficial for the members to join local small business groups to develop their network locally. 

If SMEs invest in offering the most comprehensive support that they can, it’ll likely help expat employees settle into their new life abroad. Yes, it means additional spend, but a failed assignment has the potential to hit the company really hard if it doesn’t work out. 

Culture shock 

Depending on where your employee may be relocating for their assignment, the local culture can be significantly different to what they’re used to. Consider countries such as Japan or China for example. In most European countries, English speakers can read a word or phrase and make an educated guess as to what it might mean, but in locations further afield, even the alphabet is different. 

Businesses could help and encourage the employee to research their destination and prepare well in advance of their assignment. This could involve lessons in the local language or even helping to find social groups in the local area. Where possible, I would even recommend the assignee visits their new location at least once before the move. 

Family matters 

31% of international assignees have their immediate family with them in their work country. With dependents and loved ones in the picture it shouldn’t be ignored that if they’re struggling to settle, plans to remain for the term of the assignment might well change. Likewise, leaving family members behind in their home country can put considerable strain on assignees, with many finding this one of the most challenging parts of living in a new country.  

So, whether they stay at home or move abroad too, it’s important for the employee’s family to be just as happy and supported as the employee if an assignment is to be a success. 

Having staff based overseas nearly always comes with risks. The rewards, however, of a successful assignment can far outweigh the potential pitfalls. Moving to another country can put a real strain on wellbeing, finances, and family life but by offering the right support to assignees, you’ll be well on your way to sowing the seeds of success for your business. 

Top 10 Impacts of Inflation on Small Businesses

  • Research reveals the most concerning knock-on effects of inflation on SMEs, ahead of the inflation rate announcement on 19th October.
  • Topping the list: a third of small business owners have increased their prices. This is followed by a quarter who have had to use their own personal savings, and nearly 1 in 5 who have stopped paying themselves a salary.
  • Some small business owners are dipping into their pension pots (6%) and using their inheritance (5%) to tackle inflation. 

Over a third of small business owners (34%) owners have had to increase customer costs as they grapple with inflation, according to new research by small business lender iwoca.

Having to raise prices is the top impact of inflation on small businesses – with the number of SMEs doing so increasing since December 2021 (from 26%). 

This is followed by SME owners having to dip into their pockets to bolster their businesses; over a quarter are using their own personal savings to help their companies survive inflation. This is followed by one in five who say they had to stop paying themselves a salary. 

The new data shows inflation is impacting an increasing number of small businesses: in December 2021, 41% of SMEs said the rising inflation rate wasn’t affecting their business. Now, only 17% say they’re unaffected by it.  

SME owners use savings, pension pots and inheritance money to prop up businesses

Using savings is third on the list (as above), but in 8th and 9th position there are even some business owners using retirement and inheritance money to survive inflation; one in twenty SMEs (5%) are having to use their inheritance as inflation rises, and similar amounts (6%) are turning to their pension pots. 

Cory Greenhough, Managing Director of an online commercial refrigeration and catering equipment company, Fridge Freezer Director, said: It’s really sad to think, but at this current rate, I think in a year’s time a lot of businesses – say your local gastropub in the country – won’t have survived this energy crisis. A retail customer spoke to me the other day about how his energy bills have gone through the roof. We sold him an open-fronted fridge (where consumers can grab-and-go drinks and sandwiches etc.). They’re not particularly big pieces of equipment – his was about 1.5 metres. It’s currently costing him £10 a day to run these, per unit. He has two. So that’s about £600 a month just to run two small chillers. That’s before anything else – switching his lights on, paying his staff, his rent, his business rates – all of the rest of it. 

In the past people have just thought about the cost of the piece of equipment, not the electricity they’ll need to run it. So now we’re now trying to educate customers about the most energy-efficient products they can buy.”

Top 10 SME Inflation Impacts (full list here)

  1. Increasing costs for their customers (34%)
  2. Using their own personal savings (26%)
  3. Stopping paying themselves a salary (18%)
  4. Not being able to focus on growing their business due to increased operating costs (15%)
  5. Not being able to afford supplies (14%)
  6. Applying for a small business loan (10%)
  7. Borrowing money from friends/ family for their business (8%)
  8. Dipping into their pensions pot (6%)
  9. Using their inheritance (5%)
  10. Closing their business temporarily (4%)                                                 

Seema Desai, COO at iwoca said: “Our data shows that one third of SMEs have raised their prices and over a quarter are having to touch their savings. The support which the Government has promised is much needed to help prevent small business closures.”

Basic Guide to the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) For Your Business Intelligence

By Pohan Lin – Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager

Data is hugely important for your business. It can inform operation decisions in every area, from marketing campaigns to new product lines. Without that data, you’d be mostly stumbling forward blindly, hoping that you were making good decisions. A massive amount of data is generated every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of it (that’s 2.5 followed by 18 zeros!)

In fact, Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the world wide web) once said “Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” That may or may not prove to be true but we continue to generate an increasing amount of data every year. So, where do you keep all that data, ensuring that not only is it secure but that it is easily accessible? 

Without comprehensive data and good analytics, some business decisions would be next to impossible. With the growing importance of personalised marketing, you need to be able to access and understand as much data as possible. 

For many organisations, the answer to that question is an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). Just what is an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW)? How does it work and where would it be located? And how can you utilise an EDW to ensure your business intelligence (BI) can help you improve your organisation’s results?

What is an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW)? 

You already know the role of a conventional warehouse; storing large amounts of goods in a convenient space you can access when needed. An enterprise data warehouse follows the same concept only you are, of course, storing data rather than goods or materials. Just like a conventional warehouse, having your data well-organised is a crucial factor. You can supplement your data stored in the warehouse with a dummy data generator

Of course, not all data is created equal so you want your enterprise data warehouse to be able to securely store different types of data. You also want to consider important factors such as customer segmentation data, something that can be crucial to marketing strategies. There are three main types of data you may want your enterprise data warehouse to be able to store:

  • Historical data: This can be data that dates back many years. It may not be used regularly but can still be important. 
  • Integrated data: This is data that you may have harvested from different sources. 
  • Granular data: This is highly detailed data that you may utilise in a number of ways. 

Just as there are three types of data to think about, so there are three types of enterprise data warehouse that you can choose from:

  • On-premise enterprise data warehouse: With this type of data warehouse, the servers that store the data are owned (and maintained) by you. 
  • Cloud-based enterprise data warehouse: These are fully online and space on virtual servers is usually rented from a specialist company. 
  • Hybrid enterprise data warehouse: These are a mix of the other two types. In most cases, you will find an organisation using the hybrid model while they are in transition from on-premise to cloud-based. 

As you would expect, there are different processes that govern how you store your data as well as how it can be accessed, analysed, and used. The most common process is called OLAP (online analytical processing) which can handle complex data queries in much the same way as a convolutional neural network diagram can work with images. 

You could almost think of OLAP as being a ‘super librarian’. You send a query to your enterprise data warehouse and OLAP swiftly looks through your ‘shelves’ of data to find the information you need. This can help you access the data you need to make crucial decisions such as seasonal strategies for your ecommerce business

What is business intelligence? 

You could see business intelligence (BI) as the bridge between the data stored in your enterprise data warehouse and the actual decisions and actions taken. It’s an essential resource for your agile team. You use BI tools to access and analyse your stored data and then present findings in the form of reports, graphs, summaries, and so on allowing you to see what actions you can take. 

Without that wonderful data stored in your enterprise data warehouse, you would not be able to use BI tools or processes. As OLAP can handle complex queries, it enables you to make essential operation decisions such as a need to change aspects of a supply chain to make it more efficient and/or to reduce relevant costs. 

What are the advantages of using an enterprise data warehouse (EDW)

You may be wondering why you should switch to using an enterprise data warehouse. The answer is simple; given that the amount of data you collect and use on a daily basis continues to increase, utilising an efficient storage solution that not only ensures security but also aids with your business intelligence work makes perfect sense. 

1. Flexible solution

Not only is the amount of data you use going to increase but there is a good chance that it will become more complex too. Not only that, but the ways in which you use your data will also likely change to meet business needs or to suit new tools or models. An EDW offers the flexibility and scalability to meet any change in the volume of data or the models you use. 

2. Standardising data

You will find that data may be currently stored in different formats depending on the OLTP (online transactional processing) databases or systems you use. This can be problematic when it comes to analysing different data sets as you first need to ensure all the data you need is in the same format. 

When you transfer data to an enterprise data warehouse, it is done with what is known as an ETL (extract, transform, load) pipeline. This means that all the data stored in your EDW is in the same, standard format, making it easier for you to analyse when needed. 

3. Connecting to BI tools

To fully understand the data you store, you will normally use a range of BI tools. Depending on the tool, and the EDW, you want to be able to connect your chosen tool(s) easily to your enterprise data warehouse. This then allows you to set your most important KPIs and track and analyse them in real-time so you can monitor your business’s performance. 

Types of enterprise data warehouse

If you are considering moving your data to an EDW, then your provider may talk about the architecture of the enterprise data warehouse services they offer. Choosing an option very much depends on your business needs and how much data you have (or will have). There are three types of EDW architecture you should be aware of.

  1. One tier 

As you can probably guess, this is the most basic form of enterprise data warehouse available and is best suited to businesses that deal with smaller data sets. It is an easy EDW to set up and its reporting tools are connected directly to the EDW. Its simplicity presents an issue as when your reporting tools have to deal with any query, it has to comb through all the data and this can take time when dealing with larger datasets. 

  1. Two tier

The next step up is two-tier enterprise data warehouse architecture. With this version, there is a Data Mart layer between your EDW and your reporting tools/layer. These data marts operate as smaller databases that will contain information specific to domains. All your data stored in the EDW are separated into various data marts as part of your database management

Unlike the one-tier model, reporting tools connect to the data marts rather than the EDW itself. This means that even complex queries are performed faster than with the one-tier version. The two-tier EDW is thus more suitable for larger datasets and for real-life analyses. 

  1. Three tier 

The most complex EDW architecture, the three-tier enterprise data warehouse has an extra layer (OLAP) between your data mart layers and your reporting layer. That OLAP layer has OLAP ‘cubes’ which store all your data in a multidimensional format meaning that any analysis of your data is even faster than with a two-tier EDW.

The Takeaway

There are two incontrovertible facts when it comes to data. Firstly, your data is essential when it comes to making crucial business decisions. Secondly, the amount of data you collect will continue to grow in both volume and complexity. That means there will be an increasing need for data-related solutions such as Databricks Lakehouse for retail.

Modern businesses collect and use a lot of data. That data guides you in any changes or new strategies you may adopt. You also need to consider that the challenges you face are increasing and that in most cases, the market is becoming more competitive. This means that businesses need to keep abreast of innovative developments and new technology. 

Just as business is becoming more challenging, so technology is providing tools and systems to meet those challenges. From solutions such as a workflow platform from Process Bliss to automated inventory management systems, there is a tool for every area of your work. However, an enterprise data warehouse is much more than a simple tool; it’s a solution that not only lets you store massive amounts of data but also analyse that data when you need to. 

Avoid a False Start – How to Build Your Start-Up For Success

People create start-ups out of a desire to provide solutions and innovate within a sector of their choosing. At the start of 2021 alone, 5.5 million small businesses were started in the UK; and according to research from iwoca, the first half of the year saw 80 new businesses founded every hour.

Despite this staggering number, 20% of these ventures will fail within their first year, rising to 60% within their initial three years. This is an important statistic to keep in mind if you’re thinking of establishing a start-up as it’s an established fact that many companies are unable to stay active. But this may make you wonder what the factors are that can help some businesses reach their full potential. In this article, we’ll take you through some of the most important points that need to be considered to bolster your business to make sure it’s a long-lasting start-up company.

Better budgeting for better success

Money is the lifeblood of businesses, so your budget needs to cover all of your operations as much as possible. Whether it’s a product you’re producing and shipping or transporting goods that requires van leasing, making sure you’ve mapped out how you’re budgeting your costs is crucial.

In fact, research from CB Insights broke down some of the major reasons why start-ups close up shop. Two that appear are directly related to money and budgeting issues, with 38% of failed start-ups citing running out of money as a contributing factor, and 15% citing pricing/cost issues as a contributor.

This is why it should be a key point for any start-up to monitor your incomings, outgoings, and any costs for production and all processes. This may be done by bringing in a dedicated finance officer to oversee costs and revenue, or training an internal member of your team on an online financial course to learn more about the processes. This way you can have a transparent overview of what you have gained and spent in order to inform the processes and future decision-making of your business.

Passion & the right people

A company is more than just one person. Start-ups might begin as an idea formed by an individual or a group, but a successful one relies on consistency and strength in passion and work rate at all stages, both in employees and in management.

It would be reductive to just say “work with the right people” because as time progresses, interest and passion can ebb and flow. But when you’re first bringing people in, whether they’re becoming a partner at the top end of the chain or being hired as an employee, you should have a definitive checklist of requirements.

Making sure whoever you’re onboarding has the necessary knowledge and passion for your industry or vision can make or break certain processes for your company. Establishing early what you need from the people you’re trusting to be involved will strengthen every part of how it runs, from administration to production and creative processes.

But it is also important to recognise what burnout and overworking look like. It can be difficult for start-ups to establish themselves, which can lead to attrition rates as high as 25% – that’s over double the normal rate for businesses. So managing your expectations and scheduling workloads to create a good balance of work and rest to offer a good quality of life for those in your company will help you retain staff and encourage harder work.

Market is everything

No matter what sector or industry your start-up is targeting, there must be a market for what your company will be trading in. You need to carve out a niche for yourself and bring something new to the table that other people in the industry see the benefit in. Or worse, someone else enters the market and outcompetes you on quality and price, rendering your company and output irrelevant.

Similar to how you must hire or partner with people who know the industry inside and out, you must take your research of the industry itself seriously. Knowing the market demands and what your industry requires will make your production much smoother, especially if there are any particular timings required such as seasonal necessities.

There are a whole host of reasons why start-ups can fail in any industry, but they are easy to get ahead of when given plenty of preparation time. It’s also good to look at start-ups that have been established in your industry and examine how they’ve succeeded in comparison to the ones that have had a much shorter lifespan. Your research can absolutely include case studies on what not to do, especially if there are examples from within your sector. Using everything at your disposal for research will build a better foundation in the long run.

Empowering the Female Workforce & Entrepreneurs

at Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo

While diversity and offering equal opportunities in the workplace and male-dominated industries has been pushed up the agenda, it is a constant challenge to accelerate the level of change required to make a true difference.

A working paper from The Peterson Institute for International Economics, which studied 22,000 companies in 91 countries proved that businesses that have a 30% female representation in leadership positions see a 15% increase in profitability than those who don’t. This gap is also evident in UK-based private limited companies, with UENI’s recent report on gender and small business highlighting that only 32% of businesses in the UK are female-owned.

There is still an incredible amount of work to be done to close this gap, so, the big questions are: why is it taking so long? And what can we do to support?

Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo, taking place 12-13 October 2022 at Excel London, aims to empower professionals and shine a light on organisations who champion diverse workforces and equal opportunities.

Curated for individuals who are eager to thrive in their careers and progress their businesses, this female-led exhibition and conference provides inspiration, guidance, recruitment opportunities, and professional services to supercharge attendees’ professional journey within the technology and wider business sectors.

The expo will see a programme of inspiring CEOs, tech leaders, career-influencers and entrepreneurs discuss a range of topics and themes, including leadership, STEM careers, diversity and inclusion, career progression, business transformation, upskilling and reskilling, returning to work after a break, entering new industries and much more.

Speakers include:

  • Baroness Karren Brady CBE, Vice Chairwoman, West Ham FC
  • Sara Davies MBE, Founder of Crafter’s Companion & Investor on Dragons’ Den
  • Adele Every, Managing Director, Head of Public Sector Sales, UK, Cisco
  • Angelene Woodland, CMO, British Business Bank
  • Ani Naqvi, Founder and CEO, Ultimate Results Group
  • Dr Alka Patel, TEDx speaker, GP, Lifestyle Doctor, Longevity Coach, Author and Podcaster, Lifestyle First
  • Dr Doina Ionescu, Managing Director for the UK & Ireland, Merck
  • Sarah Jenkins, Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Vanessa Vallely OBE, Managing Director of WeAreTheCity

World-class, diversity-driven businesses Amazon, Dell, Adobe, Cisco, CGI, Accenture, McDonalds, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, Experian and Morgan Stanley are sponsoring the 2022 event, and will join the diverse technology, recruitment, and business exhibitors in advocating diverse workforces and showcasing their services.

The Women In Business & Tech Expo offers a range of special show-floor features to support job seekers, tech professionals and business owners. Features include:

  • CV Writing & Interview Clinic
  • Headshots
  • Geek Street
  • Business Services Clinic
  • Business Speed Networking
  • Chill & Chat

Whether you’re looking to advance your career or are a business owner, Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo provides a platform for women to lead these conversations, together.

To ensure this opportunity is open to all, tickets for the Karren Brady’s Women in Business & Tech Expo is free.

To register for your free place and for more information on the event, visit: https://www.wibexpo.co.uk/

5 Expert Marketing Tips That Will Grow Any Shopify Store

Any business, whether it has an online presence or not, needs marketing to grow. Marketing helps businesses reach new customers, promote their products and services, and build brand awareness. 

Shopify stores are no different. If you want your Shopify store to grow, you need to market it effectively. But with so many marketing channels and strategies out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

For example, when it comes to social traffic and sales, Facebook is unbeatable. Facebook accounts for over two-thirds of all social media visits to Shopify merchants. Additionally, Facebook accounts for 85% of all orders placed through social media.

Not only that, but Facebook also offers a number of powerful marketing tools and features, such as Facebook Ads and the Facebook Shop. This is just one channel and one example, but there are many others – so let’s take a closer look at five expert marketing tips that will grow any Shopify store.

Tips For Marketing Your Shopify Store

To help you grow your Shopify store, we’ve put together a list of five expert marketing tips. These tips will help you reach more customers, promote your products and services more effectively, and build brand awareness for your business. 

1. Increase Cash Flow With Pre Orders

Preorders are placed by customers for products that are either not yet available or are out of stock. Customers may develop things before they are made accessible by placing a preorder. Once it is in stock, the product will be dispatched to the purchaser.

A great Shopify plugin called the “Pre‑Order Manager” can help you instantly set up pre-orders for both digital and physical products in your Shopify store.

It’s fully customizable; you can use it to manage stock levels, offer different preorder options, set preorder limits, use it on autopilot mode and even give customers the ability to cancel their pre-orders.

This is available to all types of enterprises, including tiny boutique stores, huge corporations, and startups. However, different preorder types are employed in various circumstances. 

Brands that are more established will want to test products before they are made available to the public. Newer businesses, on the other hand, may want to increase brand awareness and get people talking about their product.

Selling real items involves a significant amount of risk and money. These physical items and inventories are developed by the producers at a cost of thousands of dollars, all on the assumption that the market would accept the product. 

However, getting pre-orders up front before spending money on manufacturing might be a priceless strategy for validating your product.

Preorder is similar to an agile strategy in which sales and manufacturing happen concurrently. Preorders for certain new items are made available by e-commerce companies on their website for the following additional key reasons: 

  • To ensure that they do not miss out on potential customers by selling out of stock too quickly.
  • To allow them to forecast better and order the right inventory levels.
  • To increase cash flow which can be used for marketing, operations or other purposes.

2. Create Buyer Personas

Your target market can be divided into smaller segments, or buyer personas. A persona is a representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When you know who your target market is, you can better understand their needs and how to reach them.

By establishing buyer personas, you can design more effective digital marketing tactics that are tailored to the target market and increase your sales. Personas can assist you in more effectively identifying and meeting the requirements and expectations of your consumers.

Here are a few details to include while creating a buyer persona:

  • Difficulties or places of pain
  • Age, gender, education, income, and marital status are examples of demographic data (if required)
  • Location
  • Habits, hobbies, way of life, and other psychographic elements
  • Purchase patterns

These details are most commonly used to build up personas, but of course, businesses can adjust these points to suit their goals.

3. Develop an SEO Strategy

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online store to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which will give you more visibility and clicks from potential customers.

Here’s how to start developing an SEO strategy for your Shopify store:

  • Start with keyword research
  • Optimize your site for on-page SEO
  • Build backlinks to your site
  • Monitor your SEO progress and adjust your strategy as needed
  • Always be prepared to adapt to changes in the algorithm

SEO is a long-term strategy that can take months or even years to see results. But it is one of the most effective ways to grow your business online, as it can help you attract more organic traffic and leads from potential customers who are looking for what you offer. 

4. Use Social Media Wisely 

Social media can be a powerful tool to reach new customers and grow your business if used correctly – but with so many different platforms and strategies, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here are some tips for using social media to grow your Shopify store:

  • Use paid ads on social media
  • Use social media influencers
  • Create and share engaging content
  • Provide excellent customer service on social media

In the process of social media advertising, it’s crucial to analyze your results so that you can adjust your strategy as needed. 

5. Discounts, Discounts and Discounts

People love discounts, and they are often willing to buy something they may not need if it is discounted. This is especially true for online shoppers, as they can compare prices easily and quickly.

A few tips for using discounts wisely include:

  • Use discounts sparingly and strategically
  • Offer discounts on your best-selling products
  • Use time-limited discounts to create a sense of urgency
  • Target your discounts to specific segments of your audience
  • Analyze your results and adjust your strategy as needed

You can use discounts as a marketing tool to attract new customers and grow your business. Be careful with how you use them, however, as too many discounts can erode your profits. 

To make your discount strategy more efficient, you can use the Bulk Discount & Sales Manager app. It lets you create and manage unlimited sales, discounts, and flash sales. It has a 1-Click Bulk discount editor to make sure your products are quickly and easily updated.

Lastly, to hype up your sale dates, you can add a Countdown Timer plugin to your store. It’s an app that allows you to create a sense of urgency and encourage your customers to buy now.

It gives the much needed hype to let your customer know that the sale is happening and it’s happening now! Putting a timer in front of them is a very old sales technique that has been used in brick and mortar stores for years. It makes them feel that they need to buy the product now before it’s too late.

Why Successful Companies Spend Big on Marketing

Spending on marketing is often one of the first areas to be cut when companies are looking to save money, but successful companies know that marketing is an investment, not a cost. 

They know that it’s important to reach new customers, stay top of mind with existing customers, build trust and credibility, differentiate from the competition, and drive sales and grow revenue. If you want your company to be successful, don’t cut your marketing budget.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few expert marketing tips that can help you grow your Shopify store. There are many other strategies and tactics you can use to attract new customers and increase sales; it depends on your business, products, and target market.

The most important thing is to experiment and test different marketing strategies to see what works best for your business. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so you need to find what works best for you and your business.

How Exchange Rates Impact Your Business

Do you invest in overseas currency, perhaps via buying or selling products? If so, it is imperative that you understand the ins and outs of exchange rates. Let’s take a closer look!

The ways in which exchange rates impact businesses

There are a number of ways in which exchange rates affect businesses, and there are a number of factors which influence these rates:

InflationInterest rateMonetary policyTourismGeopoliticsThis is far from an extensive list, but these are some of the major causes of fluctuating currency values. But what exactly does the resulting shift in value mean for your business?

How to track exchange rates in real time

It might sound as though currency values change without warning, but we know that’s not true. Remember the factors we listed above? All of these reliably impact how exchange rates change. If you track these issues and keep an eye on market prices, you can sometimes predict shifts before they happen. This is an important skill to master, especially if your business invests in foreign currency.

Where can you find the best UK trading platforms which will help you keep track of exchange rates and other market events? LeapRate comprehensively reviews brokers and trading platforms so that you always know what to expect.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons most businesses must be aware of exchange rates.

Cost of buying supplies overseas

One of the main reasons exchange rates are so important to businesses around the world is manufacturing and the cost of other materials. As currency values change, the prices of services or supplies fluctuate too.

Let’s say that a coffee shop wants to order beans directly from Brazil while paying in USD. The price of the beans is the same, $100, for a few months, but suddenly the price is significantly higher with no warning as to the price increase. What happened?

At some point, the value of USD decreased by 15%. That means that the dollar is worth 15% less than it was before the decrease. The buyer was paying for $100 USD worth of beans, but now the dollar is worth 15% less than it used to be. In order to purchase the same amount of beans, the price increases by 15% to cover the loss.

Whether your business stands to gain or lose funds, it is important to be aware of how exchange rates can impact your business’ spending.

Cost of selling overseas

Selling your products overseas can also lead to money fluctuations due to exchange rates. This is especially true if you submit your invoices in foreign currency. If the exchange rate moves against your business, you might end up receiving less money for the same services or products. This can be partially mitigated by issuing invoices in domestic currency, which ensures that you will receive the full amount invoiced regardless of the buyer’s exchange rate. The trade-off is that you then risk outpricing yourself. If the amount buyers are paying increases too much, they might look for cheaper suppliers.

Trading doesn’t have to be difficult, and neither does tracking exchange rates so that you can make informed investment choices. Keep our tips in mind and you’ll be trading in no time.

Is a Purchase Order a Legally Binding Agreement?

For small to medium enterprises, the fast-paced nature of the world can occasionally cause gaps, errors, and misunderstandings between your business and your clients. The majority of the time, this can be easily resolved with a quick call or email. But how can you ensure that those miscommunications don’t result in unpaid purchase orders, tricky legal situations, and financial problems for your business in the future?

It’s within these gaps that a purchase order can help to bridge the uncertainty between two parties and add some much-needed clarity. But with that added clarity can some more questions about whether or not a PO is deemed legally binding, and what your options are in the event of non-compliance with payment.

However, before we look at the potential legal ramifications of a purchase order, let’s explore how vital a PO is to your business, the people you’re entering into an agreement with, and your finances as a whole.

Understanding Purchase Orders as a Client or Supplier

Whether you are issuing a purchase order or receiving one, you’re entering into a contract between yourself and another party that will become a legally binding agreement once a purchase order has been accepted.

As a supplier of goods or services, raising a purchase order is an official notification to a customer to fulfil their end of the agreement and pay you the amounts owed. And as a client, when you officially receive a PO, you’re obligated to pay the amount listed (unless incorrect, which will result in a new purchase order being issued) on the invoice.

Legally speaking, having a detailed and informative purchase order can be incredibly helpful, as it’s essentially evidence of the agreement between two parties.

Why Detailed Purchase Orders are so Important

While an agreed purchase order is indeed a legally binding agreement between two parties, it has other benefits that reach beyond the boundaries of legal matters. Below are some of the other benefits of a comprehensive PO.

With a detailed and prompt purchase order, a customer can better forecast their own fiscal outgoings. The sooner a purchase order is created and approved, the sooner they can take note of this outgoing while getting you paid faster in the process.

This forecasting also helps to sharpen the financial reporting of a business. Receiving a comprehensive PO means that they can make bigger-picture plans for their finances with far more accuracy. The purchaser can also evaluate a well-presented PO for the pre-agreed stipulation, which helps to cultivate harmony between customer and client while speeding up the payment process.

What Should be Included in a Good PO?

Putting together a good purchase order is relatively easy. All that really matters is that you have all of the most important information included on it. Be sure to have the name of the person who authorised the purchase, a solid description of the goods/services provided, and a PO number that you can use as a reference point in any further correspondence.

As well as the above, make sure that you clearly state the following information:

The date on which the purchase order was issued

The number of goods/items purchased (if relevant)

The price, including any additional shipping/delivery costs

The terms of your payment agreement

The 5 Steps of the Purchase Order Process

Any legally binding agreement is going to have some strict and rigid steps to adhere to. Now you’re certain of what to include in the purchase order itself, it’s important to ensure that you’re handling your POs correctly and keeping in line with standard processes.

Below are the 5 most important steps of processing any purchase order.

Step 1: A customer and supplier reach an agreement on a price in exchange for goods or services. A purchase order is officially raised and sent over to the customer.

Step 2: The customer receives the purchase order. The PO will only become a legally binding agreement once the customer approves it.

Step 3: A supplier provides the customer with the agreed-upon products or services.

Step 4: A supplier sends an invoice that references the PO number. A recipient then matches the invoice with the purchase order number.

Step 5: The invoice is fully approved, processed, paid, and finally closed.

Ways to Ensure that POs are Resolved Quickly

After sending out that purchase order, it’s important to understand how to be tactful regarding payment. If you’re too pushy before payment is even due, your business may be tarnished and deemed a little too demanding.

However, you have a company to run and people depending on you, so there’s no room to simply wait and hope for the best when a payment is late.

Below are some simple but effective ways to help resolve these issues:

We’ve already discussed what you’ll need to include in your purchase order above. But for extra peace of mind, there’s nothing wrong with checking if there’s anything else a customer needs on the PO to help facilitate a smoother payment process. Not only is it good practice, but it eliminates the chance of late payment excuses down the road.Reassess your cash collecting systems and processes. Ensure that you have an approach that’s modern and integrates well with just about any other method of payment. Reach out to customers a few days before a due invoice and ask if they’re satisfied with your product or service, thank them for their custom, and politely confirm the due date of the invoice again. Having a detailed plan to chase after unpaid invoices can be an effective way of preventing future costly disputes. As always, be sure to keep your first few correspondences friendly, as most of the time, a customer has simply forgotten to pay up and there’s no malice in their actions. Implementing a penalty for late fees that aren’t paid within a pre-agreed timeframe can help reduce unpaid POs and help you better monitor incoming funds.

Final Thoughts

For both supplier and buyer alike, having consideration for how a purchase order works can ensure a much smoother transaction for all parties involved. As stated above, once agreed upon fully, a PO is a legally binding contract you’ll be expected to honour.

And honouring that agreement means you’ll also benefit from a more comprehensive budget forecast, faster resolution of payment issues, and a more streamlined PO process. For small to medium enterprises, these benefits can be the difference between a successful financial year and a tumultuous one.

Small Business Loan Guide

A quick cash injection can be a great benefit for both established and start-up businesses. We can help you get the financing you need to grow your business, renovate your premises, or buy more stock.

Loan Corp can help you find the right type of business loan for your needs and goals.

What is a small-business loan?

A small business loan can be used to finance the daily operations of a company. A small business loan is a cost-effective and convenient way to finance your business. This loan can be used to finance almost any purpose in your business, including boosting cash flow and purchasing equipment.

You can tailor a small business loan from one our other finance providers or Government-backed schemes to meet your specific needs.

Are small business loans secured or unsecured?

UK business owners have the option of getting small business loans. Unsecured loans typically have smaller amounts and shorter repayment terms. If you need a larger loan, you may be able to get more money at lower rates by offering an asset as collateral.

What are the various types of business loans available?

There are two types of small business loans available: secured and unsecured. There are many financing options and loans available for UK SME’s within these broad categories.

An unsecured allows you to borrow money without having to put up any of your business assets. This is a popular option for smaller businesses who don’t have a lot of collateral to offer as security.

You can also get small business loans with bad credit if you have impaired credit.

However, with secured loans, companies can borrow money and the lender will have legal authority to seize the asset until full payment.

What are the best loans for small businesses?

There are many factors that you should consider when looking for the right small business loan. There is no one funding product that can be categorically described as the best, regardless of what you need it for or how easy it is to repay.

You should ensure that you get the right amount of money, with affordable interest rates, and flexible repayment terms, when looking for the best small business loan. Loan Corp is committed to helping businesses like yours get the best loans possible.

What’s the difference between a personal loan and a business loan?

Only business loans can be used for company purchases and business purposes. This could include borrowing money to expand your business or purchase new equipment and stock. Personal loans are different because they are intended for personal use. Personal loans are often restricted by lenders so that they cannot be used for business purposes and vice versa.

How does a small business loan work?

A small business loan is the same as any other type business finance. You receive money from the credit provider upfront and you then repay it with interest and any fees within a set time frame.

Read this bridging loan guide for further information.

A variety of funding options are available to small business owners.

Top 8 Ways To Increase Your Business Visibility Online

As a small business owner, one of your primary goals should be how to increase your online visibility. After all, a strong online presence will significantly boost your chances of getting new customers and growing your business.

Therefore, it is essential to implement several strategies for this. That is to ensure your potential customers discover your website first instead of competitors when they search for services or products within your niche.

In this blog post, we will discuss eight ways that can help increase your business’s digital presence. 

 

1. Understand Your Target Customers

Your target customers are the people who will be most interested in your products and services. Usually, they share the same characteristics like age, gender, or hobbies. Knowing this helps to understand how your products can benefit them and determine your unique selling point.

Once you know what makes your business unique, it will be easier to identify who your ideal buyers are. It also helps to determine the shared qualities and characteristics of your competitor’s audience to find ways for your business to stand out.

Gaining these insights will enable you to formulate the right marketing efforts, which will be the key to better online visibility for your business.  

 

2. Create and Design Your Website

Besides boosting online presence, having your own website helps establish your business credibility. It also gives you complete freedom to craft your brand image online. Fortunately, setting up a website is a straightforward process – all you need is a web hosting provider, a domain name, and a website-building platform.

Web Hosting Provider

A web host is responsible for making websites accessible on the internet. So, it’s crucial to opt for a reliable hosting provider to ensure your website’s availability and security. Evaluate your website goals and needs to select the right provider and the most suitable hosting plan.

We recommend choosing an unlimited web hosting plan so you won’t have to worry about your website traffic exceeding bandwidth limits, which can slow down the page loading time. Unlimited bandwidth is also excellent for publishing dynamic web content. Ultimately, providing a fast and engaging website for all your site visitors helps create a robust online presence. 

Domain Name

Your domain name is what users will type into their browser’s address bar to access your website. The shorter, simpler, and more memorable the domain is, the easier it will be for people to remember your website. This helps enhance brand recognition and establish your online identity.

Here are some tips on how to choose a good domain name:

  • Add keywords. Include words or short phrases that reflect your business best. Use a domain name generator to help you come up with ideas.
  • Avoid complex characters. Don’t use numbers or hyphens in the domain to make it easy for users to remember and spell correctly.
  • Ensure its availability. Before registering a domain name through your web hosting provider or via a domain registrar, check if it is available using WHOIS.

Website-Building Platform

Use a website builder or a content management system (CMS) to create your website.

Website builders like Wix or Squarespace are ideal for small businesses that want a simple, easy-to-use platform for creating a professional-looking website. However, they can be limited in terms of customisation and functionality. Consequently, your website may look similar to other websites built on the same platform.

Meanwhile, CMSs offer more flexibility and control over your website. The widely-used CMS WordPress provides thousands of themes and plugins to help you construct a truly unique website that perfectly reflects your brand’s look and feel.

Whether using a CMS or a website builder, an excellent web design is what makes a site stand out. As customers expect a good user experience (UX), apply some of these practices when designing your website:

  • Keep it simple. Focus on creating a clean and concise layout that will be easy for users to navigate. Try not to cram too much information onto your homepage.
  • Use high-quality images. Ensure your website always uses images that aren’t blurry when users try to zoom in. This is also crucial to maintain a professional look.
  • Be consistent. Use consistent typography and colour schemes. Both help to demonstrate your site’s overall design style.
  • Think mobile. Build a mobile responsive website to ensure desktop and mobile device users can see all your content properly.

 

3. Produce High-Quality and Valuable Content

When creating content, always be sure to keep your audience in mind. Think of what will resolve the customer’s pain points and include relevant keywords to help boost your chances of ranking well on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Then, ensure your content is well-researched, accurate, original, and free of errors. Doing so will demonstrate your expertise, which can build customer trust – further improving your business’ online visibility.

Some popular types of content to create include infographics, blog posts, and videos. Consider using an editorial calendar to have a clear objective of what to write and when to publish it. This will help you to come up with fresh ideas and avoid producing duplicate content.

4. Optimize Your Business for Search Engines

For better search engine optimisation (SEO) performance, ensure your website is keyword-rich in elements such as content, page titles, alt texts, and meta descriptions. Use SEO tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to help you conduct keyword research.

Similarly, you can use Google’s autocomplete feature and Google Trends to find popular search terms within your niche. If you run a WordPress site, SEO plugins like RankMath and Yoast SEO are top choices to help optimise content by providing live, on-page suggestions.

SEO consulting services can also be a good idea if you don’t kn

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for marketing your small business online, there are some general tips you can follow to ensure marketing success: 

5. Implement Effective Marketing Plans

  • Define your goals. Create SMART goals to produce effective campaigns. An example is increasing the company’s online visibility by up to 50% by the end of the year.
  • Know your audience. When you know your ideal customer, it becomes easier to craft marketing messages and relevant content that resonate.
  • Determine key marketing channels. Leverage digital marketing channels like social media platforms, email campaigns, paid advertisements, and affiliate marketing

After launching your campaigns, use Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and identify what works and what needs improvement.

6. Promote on Social Media

As 59% of people worldwide have active social media accounts, promoting your business on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can be an effective way to attract prospective customers.

Choose one or two social media sites most relevant to your business and target audience. For example, LinkedIn can be a more suitable platform than Facebook for promoting B2B services.

Remember to craft informative, compelling content and include engaging images and videos in all your social media marketing campaigns. Also, consider collaborating with influencers within your niche to further target the right customers. This helps to create a solid social media presence for your business.

7. Engage with Your Audience

Actively engage with your audience by regularly posting new content, responding to their comments and messages, and encouraging user-generated content like testimonials.

Here are some other excellent ways to interact with your audience:

  • Offer deals and host giveaways or contests on your social media platforms.
  • Host a webinar or online event where you can share valuable information with those interested in learning more about your business.
  • Ask for customers’ feedback and show that you value their input.
  • Use email marketing to stay in touch with existing customers and keep them updated on new products or services.

 

8. Collaborate with Other Brands

Collaborating with other brands in the same industry can be another great way to increase your brand’s online visibility. Besides that, it also allows you to build relationships with other businesses. Find the right brands to work with so your collaboration benefits both parties.

For example, if you’re guest blogging on another website, ensure your articles provide value for both audiences. Another way to collaborate is through social media takeovers during product launches or promotions.

Conclusion

Boosting online visibility is essential for the growth of your business. If people can discover your online business easily, it can boost the brand’s trustworthiness, ultimately increasing profitability.

To recap, here are eight steps you can take to increase your business visibility online:

  1. Understand your target audience.
  2. Create and design your website.
  3. Produce high-quality and valuable content.
  4. Optimise your business for search engines.
  5. Implement effective marketing plans.
  6. Promote on social media.
  7. Engage with your audience.
  8. Collaborate with other brands.

We hope all the strategies discussed above can help boost yoranking. Good luck!

ow where to start. They can help audit your site and make recommendations for how you can improve the site’s ranking on SERPs. By implementing the right SEO efforts, you can drive more traffic, leading to increased sales and brand awareness.

6. Promote on Social Media

As 59% of people worldwide have active social media accounts, promoting your business on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook can be an effective way to attract prospective customers.

Choose one or two social media sites most relevant to your business and target audience. For example, LinkedIn can be a more suitable platform than Facebook for promoting B2B services.

Remember to craft informative, compelling content and include engaging images and videos in all your social media marketing campaigns. Also, consider collaborating with influencers within your niche to further target the right customers. This helps to create a solid social media presence for your business.

7. Engage with Your Audience

Actively engage with your audience by regularly posting new content, responding to their comments and messages, and encouraging user-generated content like testimonials.

Here are some other excellent ways to interact with your audience:

  • Offer deals and host giveaways or contests on your social media platforms.
  • Host a webinar or online event where you can share valuable information with those interested in learning more about your business.
  • Ask for customers’ feedback and show that you value their input.
  • Use email marketing to stay in touch with existing customers and keep them updated on new products or services.

 

8. Collaborate with Other Brands

Collaborating with other brands in the same industry can be another great way to increase your brand’s online visibility. Besides that, it also allows you to build relationships with other businesses. Find the right brands to work with so your collaboration benefits both parties.

For example, if you’re guest blogging on another website, ensure your articles provide value for both audiences. Another way to collaborate is through social media takeovers during product launches or promotions.

Conclusion

Boosting online visibility is essential for the growth of your business. If people can discover your online business easily, it can boost the brand’s trustworthiness, ultimately increasing profitability.

To recap, here are eight steps you can take to increase your business visibility online:

  1. Understand your target audience.
  2. Create and design your website.
  3. Produce high-quality and valuable content.
  4. Optimise your business for search engines.
  5. Implement effective marketing plans.
  6. Promote on social media.
  7. Engage with your audience.
  8. Collaborate with other brands.

We hope all the strategies discussed above can help boost your website’s ranking. Good luck!

ow where to start. They can help audit your site and make recommendations for how you can improve the site’s ranking on SERPs. By implementing the right SEO efforts, you can drive more traffic, leading to increased sales and brand awareness.

A Contemporary Approach to IT Consultancy

Hippo Digital, being the ‘Most Innovative Digital Service Designs and IT Consultant Company’ in 2022 for United Kingdom, has secured its place at the head of the pack for person-focused and utterly exemplary IT consultancy work. With a diverse team of experts behind it, and a bright future ahead as it continues to expand into different offices up and down the UK, it looks forward to showing yet more clients the success that comes from establishing their very own watertight IT infrastructure with the right support.

Hippo Digital is a full-service, digital, and highly empathic digital service consultancy operating in both he public and private sectors. Nominally, its efforts build trusted, effective relationships and combine data, design, and engineering in order to support meaningful transformations, starting with the user in mind and continuing as it means to go on with personalised, evidence-based, and proven organisational builds that support its clients’ futures. Serving them with an unmatched level of customer service that always puts the person at the fore, its end-to-end approach will take a customer from discovery to delivery in a timely, cost effective, and holistic manner.

Critically, with this and organisational builds in mind, its delivery methodology has been crafted to support its customers every step of the way. It recognises that good due process is one of the best ways IT consultancy can work, and by using a well established format that contains flexible, adaptable goals and personalised milestones, it can guide a client through a roadmap that will leave them with a rigorous and watertight IT infrastructure. Since 2016 – when Hippo Digital was founded –

Critically, with this and organisational builds in mind, its delivery methodology has been crafted to support its customers every step of the way. It recognises that good due process is one of the best ways IT consultancy can work, and by using a well established format that contains flexible, adaptable goals and personalised milestones, it can guide a client through a roadmap that will leave them with a rigorous and watertight IT infrastructure. Since 2016 – when Hippo Digital was founded – it has used this to establish itself as a true leader of data analysis, service design, and delivery expertise, with each of its staff working hard to keep it operating at the top of its game.

Its internal culture is therefore one of culture, fit, and value. Fundamentally, each person within Hippo Digital can expect to have their voices heard and their opinions recognised, valuing the diversity amongst its staff for its ability to make its products better fit a wider range of customers. With a wide range of experts within its ranks, all of whom are incredible data analysts, service design teams, and delivery experts, it invites its clients to reach out today to get a comprehensive idea of how each of these people can put provide actionable consultancy that will take their business to the next level.

Overcoming challenges, embracing opportunity, and having fun along the way, its team take a selfless, ambitious, human, and pragmatic approach to their work. In essence, this means that they will always strive to put the client ahead of their own ambitions, defining themselves by the success it helps its clients to find and trusting in Hippo Digital to give credit where it is due for hard work, instead of feeling like they must fight for recognition. Thus, the level of ambition it cultivates within its ranks is a healthy one. Hippo Digital’s staff use their ambition to challenge itself, take change in its stride, and transform its clients’ businesses for the better, creating environments of growth and positivity in order to truly earn its title of the most person-focused consultancy in the UK. Indeed, it continually proves its fit for the title time and again, and this is something that its clients have consistently lauded as exemplary as it has been added to and expanding its portfolio, one happy customer at a time.

Whether it’s delivering solutions to the public, its clients, or even supporting its own team, each staff member’s human connection to the people around them is a huge part of what has made the impressive collection of glowing reviews and peer referrals that bolster its further success. It, in essence, always strives to ‘treat others how [it] would wish to be treated, taking pride in upholding the reputation it was developed for kind, hardworking, and passionate people who are all working in tandem to achieve the common goals of the company.

The pragmatism behind the company also helps to support this. Importantly, it wishes to define the difference between pragmatic and dogmatic: pragmatism refers to the practicality of its work and the actionable nature of its solutions, and its rejection of dogmatic behaviour means that it is unafraid to bend the rules and push the limits in order to create something wholly new. Being lean, agile, and delivery focused, it will only ever take steps when it is sure that the evidence can back up this move. Pivotally, this means that unless it can succinctly and clearly explain to a customer why it is suggesting an action, it will not take that action.

This also contributes to the honesty that forms a throughline in the business – one emboldened by an ethos of transparency breeding trust – and applies both within the company proper and in client relations. It cuts through the noise, rejecting bloated traditional IT consultancy practices in exchange for something streamlined, pro-active, and open, getting the answers to difficult questions without making it a difficult process to get to such answers. Moreover, by not taking itself too seriously, it can achieve all these things whilst not putting undue stress on the client or its own staff, working with the NHS, DWP, SEGA, and more in order to commit to its three core organisational goals: research, design, deliver.

Therefore, clients can look forward to a genuine partnership when it comes to working with Hippo Digital. A diverse, closely knitted community with a knack for problem solving, common sense, and adaptability, it champions curiosity, allowing its staff to grow during the crisis when public sector bodies invested significantly in the digital process development of various elements. Having grown its workforce exponentially as a result, it is on track to having 400 people in its ranks by 2024, expanding its foothold in the North of England and further afield, looking forward to setting up shop in London, Bristol, and Glasgow in order to maintain its company’s current trajectory.

For business enquiries, contact David Wilkinson from Hippo Digital on their website – https://hippodigital.co.uk/

Best Memory Foam & Mattress Specialists Company, 2022 – UK

Having been the leading brand in memory foam mattresses for years, Dormeo has made itself a favourite amongst its customers with its ever-diligent service and its technology-focussed mattress solutions. The company refuses to rest on its laurels, proving its acumen as one of Europe’s most loved sleep brands by consistently developing new products using their award-winning patented technology, ensuring that its customers always benefit from the best night’s sleep.

As one of the UK’s leading mattress specialists, Dormeo’s impact has been felt all over the country as it works hard to better the night’s sleep of people from all walks of life. Selling affordable, well-crafted, and exceedingly comfortable mattresses that provide years of uninterrupted slumber, it has also become a staple in international markets, celebrating its 20th birthday globally this year. Bringing a revolution to the industry of mattress creation and development, the Octasmart range of products has been developed using patented Octaspring® technology. Satisfyingly smart, this technology surpasses standard foam layers with individually placed foam springs of different strengths and densities, positioned over smart zones to provide support and cradling comfort to areas of the body that need it most.. Unlike anything else on the market, this technology is 8x more breathable and helps you sleep 3 degrees cooler than traditional memory foam.

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, Dormeo believe that knowledge is key. By knowing what size, firmness, and thickness is needed, and the preferred sleeping position, Dormeo can help their customers discover a mattress that’s right for their unique body. Through dedicated staff, a showroom to test and try the products, and a recently renovated website that’s been designed with accessible content and simple UX for pain-free shopping, Dormeo have created a service to be proud of. All with the aim of reinforcing how important sleep is in living a happy, healthy life. And the correct mattress is pivotal to this.

Although for many it can seem like a small consideration, choosing the right mattress is  crucial for everyone. It can prevent or reduce issues such as back and neck pain, while providing comfort for a quicker, deeper night’s rest.. Moreover, as a customer focused company, Dormeo provides a sleep solution for everybody, every bedroom, and every budget; making itself an all-inclusive brand that is passionate about everyday comfort and at  affordable prices. With its staff at the epicentre of all of its operations, its low turnover and employee long service demonstrates the company’s values; standing as a business that supports and encourages its staff in both their professional and personal lives.

Importantly, it treats each staff member like a family member, finding the right people for the right job and giving them the appropriate training and support they need to find happiness and progression in the role. This remained true throughout the pandemic, where Dormeo stood firmly by their employees, adapting quickly to remote working , whilst still maintaining the close knit family feel throughout each lockdown.

Indeed, Covid-19’s impact on the world’s corporate ecosystem cannot be overstated, and the cost of living has also been impacted as a result. This means that people who may have already been struggling prior to the pandemic are struggling more so now, and Dormeo hopes that it can do something to help by ensuring that its commitment to responsible, fair-priced products remains a constant. Even in the face of many difficult challenges brought on by the pandemic, it has been doubling down on supporting its staff to help its customers with all their mattress needs.

Dormeo has worked hard throughout the pandemic to continue to deliver a great night’s sleep, whilst working on developing new products using their patented technology. Coming soon, its Octasmart DNA mattress is soon to be  introduced to the market. This one-of-a-kind innovation uses  AI technology and body mapping to create a truly personalised mattress, designed entirely for each individual body. So, watch this space… the future of sleep and the first real innovation since memory foam 20 years ago has arrived.

For business enquiries, contact Madeleine Morgan, International PR Manager and Mike Pitt, CEO from Dormeo on their website – www.dormeo.co.uk

What are the Benefits of Paid Ads for your Business?

Pay-Per-Click advertising campaigns provide businesses with a highly successful marketing channel, allowing them to gain immediate results from their efforts. Paid ads are often used alongside long term SEO techniques that typically take a longer time to yield visible results, meaning businesses are able to see the benefits of their investment much quicker than if they were just using SEO alone.

Combined PPC and SEO strategies are a tried and tested digital marketing method. However, many companies may still find themselves questioning whether a paid ad campaign is a worthwhile investment for their business.

A great PPC strategy will come with many benefits, helping your company to boost its online visibility and reach a broader target audience, driving sales and increasing website traffic.

In the article below, we will discuss some of the many benefits of using paid ads within your digital marketing campaign, helping you to make the decision that is best for you and your business goals.

Boost your Website Traffic

As previously mentioned, paid ads provide businesses with an effective way to boost their visibility within the Google search results, which is ideal for those looking to drive brand awareness and better online recognition for their business website. Unlike SEO where reaching the very top of the search results can take a lot of time and dedication, PPC allows you to take the top spot each and every time – provided that your ads are of a high quality and your budget allows.

As soon as your paid ad campaign has been published, your ads will begin to appear within the search results, meaning there is no waiting for visible results.

Pay Per Click

As the abbreviation ‘PPC’ suggests, advertisers making the most of Google’s paid ad options might only need to pay when users click onto their ads. This will depend on the way that your campaign has been set up, but cost per click advertising provides businesses with a great way to yield the best possible results from their PPC efforts.

The ability to set strict limitations on the amount that you spend each day also makes paid advertising an ideal budget friendly option, meaning you will never run the risk of accidentally exceeding your maximum spend.

Drive Online Sales

More often than not, the users that will be presented with your paid ads are those actively searching for the products and services that you are able to provide, making it much more likely that they become converting customers in the near future.

With alternative advertising methods, there is usually a significant wait time between a user discovering your business and making their first sale or contact. With PPC, this wait period is cut down significantly, as users clicking on your ads are much more likely to want to buy here and now.

Overall, there are a number of great benefits that come alongside the creation of a quality paid ads campaign, allowing you to boost your online brand visibility and get the most out of your advertising budget. If PPC sounds like the right fit for you and your business goals, but you’re unsure of where to start, there are a number of great online paid ads set up course options readily available to entrepreneurs, helping you to access the information that you need to see your business thrive. Online courses are tailor made to suit the schedule of the busy entrepreneur, the flexible lesson model meaning you can learn within a timeframe best suited to you!

8 Ways to Reduce Your Business’s Carbon Footprint

Every business can take steps to reduce its carbon footprint and help preserve the environment. This can be done in a number of ways, and often only require small changes to your current operations. It’s all about changing the way we think and being more conscious about our impact on the environment when making decisions. Here are some ways your business can start making a difference:

Choose environmentally friendly products and packaging materials

When purchasing products and packaging materials, try to choose environmentally friendly options. For example, look for products made from recycled materials or that can be easily repurposed. You should also avoid using excessive packaging, as this creates unnecessary waste. If possible, switch to eco-friendly packaging materials like cardboard or paper instead of plastic. For example, you could choose sustainable products from IGO Promo for your promotional needs, instead of opting for traditional options like plastic pens or keychains.

Encourage employees to carpool, bike, or take public transportation to work

Transportation is responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, so anything businesses can do to reduce their reliance on cars will be beneficial. If possible, encourage employees to carpool or take public transportation to work. You could also consider implementing a bike-to-work program, which would provide employees with an incentive to ride their bikes instead of drive. If employees live close enough to walk to work, that’s even better! Not only will this reduce your business’s carbon footprint, but it will also help improve employee health and morale.

Reduce paper use

In today’s digital age, there’s no need to rely on paper as much as we used to. Whenever possible, send documents electronically instead of printing them out. If you do need to print something, use both sides of the paper. You should also encourage employees to reuse paper whenever possible. For example, they can write on the back of used printer paper or use scrap paper for notes. In addition, recycling programs can help reduce the amount of waste your business produces.

Use green power sources like solar and wind energy

Solar and wind energy are two renewable resources that are constantly replenished and produce no pollution. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, while wind turbines harness the power of the wind. In both cases, the energy generated can be used to run businesses, reducing or eliminating the need for traditional fossil fuels.

Encourage hybrid or home working

Another way to reduce your business’s carbon footprint is to encourage employees to work from home, if possible. This cuts down on the need for transportation and can also help reduce office energy use. If working from home is not an option, consider having hybrid days where employees come into the office for part of the week and work from home for the rest.

Reduce waste by recycling and composting

Recycling and composting are two effective ways to reduce waste. By recycling, businesses can reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Composting is also a great way to reduce waste, as it allows organic materials to be broken down and used as fertiliser. This not only reduces the amount of waste your business produces, but can also help you save money on fertiliser costs. This guide to workplace composting can help you and your employees get started.

Install energy-efficient lighting and appliances

One way to reduce your business’s energy consumption is to install energy-efficient lighting and appliances. This can help you save money on your energy bills while also reducing your carbon footprint. LED lights are a great option, as they use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Energy-efficient appliances are also available for businesses, so consider switching to more efficient models when your old ones need to be replaced.

Educate employees about conserving energy

In addition to making changes at the business level, it’s also important to educate employees about conserving energy. This can help them understand the importance of reducing your business’s carbon footprint and take action in their own lives. You could also offer incentives for employees who make an effort to conserve energy, such as employee gift cards or extra vacation days.

How Technology Has Impacted Small Businesses

In order to keep up to date with the new competition, small businesses have always had to adapt and move with the times. In recent years, technological advancements have enabled small business owners to reach a wider audience and gain a more competitive foothold in the online market – but how does technology continue to impact the way that small businesses operate today?

Examples of disruptive technology: Disruptive technology has a transformative effect on processes, industries and markets – it changes the way that businesses and consumers interact, rendering previous models obsolete. In our era, the most notable example of disruptive innovation in business has been the growth of the internet and the widespread digitalisation of products and services; recent and emerging examples of disruptive tech in business include music and video streaming, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), metaverse, instant messaging and social media, nanotechnology, 3D printing, conferencing and video-calls, digital payment processing and blockchain/cryptocurrencies.

How different businesses have been impacted: Along with the rise of cryptocurrencies and digital payment providers like PayPal, we’ve seen more small businesses providing their customers with a range of cashless electronic payment options – contactless payment cards have also altered the way that physical transactions are made in retail and service, while there has been an increasing reliance on AI (from self-service checkouts to CUI chatbots) when it comes to customer support. COVID-19 forced small businesses of every nature to adapt, leading to a new work-from-home culture and widely accepted hybrid working model enabled by conferencing software like Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Over the course of the pandemic, online food delivery businesses and online casinos and gaming sites saw unprecedented growth, and in other industries such as the auto industry it’s now easier to buy a car or book your MOT online or buy a car via the web than ever before.

Pros and cons of modern technology: The many benefits of technology for small businesses include increased productivity and user accessibility, a wider client base, streamlined processes, safer working conditions, reduced risk of accident or injury in the workplace, ease of communication across multiple countries, quick or instant payment processing, reduced need for staff/manpower, ease of data sharing and increased profits. It’s also easier to market your business on a budget using SEO marketing tactics from home and creating tailored social media campaigns.

The potential downsides of relying on tech when it comes to running a small business include increased emissions – while the use of technology does correlate with increased production and consumption, it may also contribute to increased pollution, depending on whether the tech in question is energy-efficient and eco-friendly; an overreliance on tech in our everyday lives may also lead to information overload and even burnout or depression, whereas sensitive data may also be vulnerable to theft or misuse; it’s also been said that the rising use of technology in business has led to rising unemployment amongst low-skilled workers.

How To Make Your Business More Sustainable

Sustainability is a term that’s become common currency in recent years. It seems that for consumers and public institutions, and therefore companies of all sizes, it has never been more important to be green. For business, sustainability isn’t just an ethical concern, but a commercial one. Customers are becoming ever more aware of the environmental impact of their practices and purchases and are therefore increasingly more disposed to spend money with businesses who share their values.

But what does sustainability mean in practice, and how can businesses make their operations more sustainable to keep up with the rise of the eco-friendly consumer?

Put simply, any business which operates in a way that could be continued indefinitely without negatively impacting the natural world could be claimed as a sustainable business. In practice, this means making several significant changes.

Waste Production

The more waste that your business is generating, the worse it is for the environment. After all, materials that go unused are solely polluting, while energy that is wasted could be repurposed to drive greater productivity. Any kind of waste is an indicator that your business is mismanaging natural resources, and likely has a high monetary as well as environmental cost.

A sustainable business will find a way to make use of its physical waste, and to reduce the amount of waste it creates in the first place. Some of the world’s leading global brands have started embracing recycled materials to create new products, paving the way with repurposing waste and recognising the need for eco-mindedness in mainstream consumerism.

Going Renewable

If your business is being powered by foreign gas and oil, then it can hardly be said to be sustainable. This is true in terms of the environment but also in terms of the unreliability of the energy supply. Limited and expensive fossil fuel resources is a worldwide trend that seems set to stay for the foreseeable future following the Covid-19 pandemic and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Although a transition to green energy will likely take significant investment, both in terms of cash and time, look to see how much of your operations can be conducted using alternative power. For example, you could seek to use sustainable energy sources like air source heat pumps or solar panels to generate more power on your premises even if you still need to rely on fossil fuels in the main. There are other small steps you can make to minimising the environmental impact of your business such as reviewing opportunities to reduce wasted water and electricity. Often big changes can be seen as a result of something as simple as installing a low-flow dual flush toilet, fitting energy-efficient bulbs, and encouraging staff to turn off equipment when not in use.

Being Responsible

Sustainability doesn’t just mean keeping your own business in order: it also means being selective when choosing who to collaborate with. Analyse your supply chain and do what you can to detach yourself from irresponsible and non-eco companies. Putting sustainability at the core of your decisions like this will eventually lead to a supportive network of similarly-minded companies that work together to ensure that your product is as eco-friendly as possible, from the materials used in its manufacture to how it is transported to the consumer.

Customers are becoming increasingly wise to ‘greenwashing’ practices, whereby businesses pretend to be greener than they really are. If you want to win them over, the best approach is definitely to walk the walk as well as talking the talk.

Why Smart Audits are Bringing Opportunities for SMEs

Sarah Hallam is partner and audit specialist at accountancy firm Menzies LLP

The role of the auditor is changing. Instead of relying on random sampling and sniper-style investigations, businesses are now using specialist software combined with improved financial management systems to carry out better quality audits, more quickly. 

Traditionally, performing an audit involved analysing small data populations, which were usually selected at random, to identify potential issues with a company’s reports and accounts. This process has an inherent risk of leaving some irregular data undetected. By contrast, smart auditing procedures allow a greater pool of data to be analysed in a more streamlined manner, reducing the likelihood that small details are overlooked. 

Artificial intelligence software is capable of processing large datasets at the touch of a button, scanning for anomalies so auditors can focus testing any data that looks out of place. At a time when client datasets are getting larger, this approach is helping to improve the quality of audits, whilst requiring less hands-on support compared to traditional audit processes.  

A better quality audit enables the company’s auditors to focus on providing added-value recommendations to guide the management team and facilitate strategic decision making. Reducing reliance on manual auditing means that fraudulent activity in financial statements can be detected more easily. For example, irregular transactions are easier to detect when using AI-based systems to audit journal entries – a hot spot for fraudulent activity.  

For small to medium-sized-size enterprises (SMEs), smart audits can bring unexpected benefits that assist in the running of the business. Even if a business is exempt and not required by law to carry out an annual audit, doing so voluntarily is worth considering. Auditors can gain a deeper insight into their financial data in a more efficient manner which can result in valuable strategic advice on how their run their business. For example, the assurance of quality control that comes with a smart audit means businesses are made aware of improvements that can make their processes more efficient and can take action to address them, potentially boosting profit margins. 

SMEs should also consider a voluntary audit if they are seeking financial investment or planning an initial public offering (IPO). Venture capitalists and angel investors will typically look more favourably on businesses that can provide an audited set of accounts, as this can help with credit ratings and demonstrates that the business is well-managed and viable.  

Although audits may seem expensive, they can deliver significant value and support a business’ growth strategy. They can also help businesses to become more fraud resilient, as anomalies are more likely to be detected and investigated. Most crucially, many SME business owners are time poor, so a smart audit could help provide insight on how they can improve their systems to reduce pressure on in-house finance teams too.  

How Integrating A Payment Gateway Helps Your Business

To improve your company’s efficiency and expand your customer base, you will need an online payment gateway to serve your clients seamlessly. This is true irrespective of the company you own or the sector in which you operate. Sounds unbelievable? Then, you should know when they can’t locate their chosen payment alternatives on the checkout pages, more than 25 percent of clients will leave the site that they are now on and go to the sites of the competitors instead.

This is sufficient evidence to show that if you want your consumers to continue to be loyal to your company and to increase your sales, then you need to give them all of the flexible payment alternatives that are now in fashion.

Transactions That Are Both Safer and Quicker

Having a payment gateway installed in your environment may improve both the safety and the speed with which payments are processed. This is the primary benefit of having a payment gateway. The most reliable internet payment gateways can provide secure transaction of online payments for you to accept payments more quickly than is typical. Because of this, you will provide your clients with a more enjoyable shopping experience while also easily controlling the flow of funds through your business.

Because it just takes a few seconds to approve payments, merchants and consumers don’t have to wait around for very long to complete the transaction. This is convenient for everyone involved.

Integration of Shopping Carts:

A smooth checkout experience may be achieved by integrating your payment gateways with your payment processing software. Customers do not have to go away from your website to finish the purchase since the checkout page is integrated immediately within the site. When compared to third-party payment processors like PayPal and Square, which need users to travel to a different website to complete their transactions before being diverted back to your website, this method does not require customers to leave your website. Integration is able to:

Offer fraud prevention.

Accept vouchers and promo codes for discounts.

Construct customized forms, allowing for the gathering of specific information.

It presents wonderful opportunities for your company and is without a doubt something you should think about doing.

This is only the beginning since many additional business tools can be integrated with your payment processing services to provide outstanding results.

Possibility of Integrating CRM:

The interface of your customer relationship management system may be of great help in assisting you to interact better with your clients by knowing the transactions they have completed in the past. Once you have successfully integrated your CRM with your payment processing tools, you will have access to more in-depth reporting features that will assist you in keeping track of your business and gaining a deeper understanding of it. In addition, it will be much simpler for you to collect and store the information that you have accumulated.

Legal Compliance Achieved:

Your online company has to comply with the strict Payment Card Data Security Standard, and the only way to achieve this is to provide customers with a safe environment in which to buy. For PCI compliance, being behind the curve may cause a variety of disastrous issues, including expensive penalties and a loss of confidence from customers. Streamlining the process of your company’s data security compliance may be accomplished quickly and easily by incorporating the very best payment system into your retail location.

Increased Market Exposure:

If you want your e-commerce site to expand, you need to put in place techniques that make it possible for you to sell your products in foreign markets. You will have an easier time penetrating the international market if you will accept a variety of payment methods and have a processing system that is both quick and safe. This improves conversion rates, which contributes to a rise in your bottom line.

If you want your online company to flourish, you need to use the most modern payment system available so that customers can make purchases from your e-store in a way that is quick, easy, and risk-free. Integrating the most reliable payment gateway into your online business might provide you with a competitive advantage in the area you’re focusing on.

Payment & Billing Automation:

Another advantage of having an online payment gateway is that it lowers the need for human involvement or manual labor in the processing of payments. This frees up staff members to focus on other tasks. Automation of the payment process not only helps save time and money but also reduces the likelihood of making mistakes. Using the payment method, you will program your account for automated withdrawals, recurring bills, and payments.

Final Words: Why are so many individuals so afraid to integrate their payment processing software with their other online business tools when there are so many potential advantages that may be gained from doing so?

There are several other factors at play here that contribute to this being such a difficult transition for the owners of many small businesses. However, fear is by far the most significant factor. However, trust the process and technology to improve your e-commerce sales.

Office Expense Cuts: 2022 Essential List to Keep Your Company Running

All predictions say that this winter is going to be terrible. The economy is shaky globally, and no one knows how high inflation will go. Many businesses will not manage to survive, so taking precautions is vital at this stage.

You can do many things to cut expenses and stay above water. Some of your employees may not like it, but there’s no other way around it. You need to make changes now before it’s too late.

In this article, we will share some tips and ideas about how to do it most efficiently. Not all moves are great, and some will be better than others, so you need to see what is on the table and decide what you will use. Follow up and see what to do when expense cuts are in question.

1. Go remote if possible

One fantastic way to cut nearly 100% of the office expenses is to send everyone home and work remotely. This way, you can freely end the contract with the office lenders, stop paying bills as you did before, and still have work continue as normal.

On the other hand, employees get a better life-work balance, won’t spend money commuting to work, and will generally be happier. To have work flowing uninterrupted, install office communication software. Ask everyone to download a free timesheet app of your choice, and ensure meetings continue as before.

2. Stop printing everything

The corporate printer is ready for sale. Put it on the market, get some money out of it, and keep all other documents in digital format. There’s no need to print the document about buying new soap for all toilets. Everything’s already done online, so why waste paper?

An average employee wastes 6,800 leaves of paper for printing annually. If you have 20 employees, the math says you’re spending a fortune on printing. Do this only for essential documents that must be in hard copy, and everything else can stay digital.

3. Install sensors everywhere

Going to the bathroom means turning on the light and the faucet after it. Many people are too distracted to notice they left both the lights and the faucet on. Until the next person comes and notices, huge amounts of water and electricity are wasted for nothing.

Instead of losing thousands of dollars on these issues, you should invest in sensors. A sensor for the lights that will make them turn on only when there’s someone inside the rooms, and a sensor for the faucet that will turn it on only when there’s someone in front of it. You’ll save thousands.

4. Cut working hours

This is probably the most popular inflation countermeasure you can take in your employees’ eyes. Who wants to spend a full eight hours at work? However, you can benefit from this too. Cutting working hours from eight to six per day will significantly reduce your bills.

Many companies who tried the six-hour working day say the benefits are higher than expected. People started working harder and faster. They know they need to finish everything before the working day ends, so they are more productive and motivated to do their jobs.

5. Move to a smaller office

One final thing to do is to move to a smaller office. You might have rented a huge office space in a popular building in the center of the city overlooking the area. It is surely expensive, so think about whether this kind of property is essential for your business.

Instead, move to a smaller place that won’t be as fancy. You’ll pay much lower rent, affordable bills, and business will continue as usual. Of course, your employees will need time for adjustments, but every company has its ups and downs.

Conclusion

Making changes in your work is possible if you’re fully dedicated to it. Moreover, it’s mandatory considering the times that are upon us. Check the list above and see if some of the options are acceptable to you. The crisis will affect everyone, and you must do something if you want to continue working. Cut where it is possible, and make it through this winter.

How Italian Citizenship By Descent Unlocks Business Opportunities

Claiming Italian citizenship can be a breeze if you have ancestral connections in Italy. You get access to one of the best passports and can even pass it on to your next generations. Nothing gets better than living in this incredible country, and getting all the benefits its citizens have. But citizenship by descent has more to offer if you scratch the surface. You can contact mbersanilaw.com to learn more.

In essence, you can live and work in the country, and setting up a business here is an even better idea. The opportunity is huge, so you should capitalize on it.

Seems confusing?… Let us explain how citizenship by descent unlocks business opportunities for immigration aspirants.

Sure-fire way to get in

Citizenship by descent is the easiest way to get in, and you can rest assured about the outcome with valid paperwork. Since there are no generational limits to qualify, an ancestral connection is all you need to validate. It may be through your parents or distant relatives in your direct bloodline. But you must understand the eligibility requirements and exceptions before applying for the process. For example, you may not qualify through a maternal ascendant who gave birth before 1948. But you have the alternative to get in through a court process instead of the consulate route. Consulting an expert is a good idea as they can help you with the process and ensure completion sooner than later.

Set up a truly global business

Besides a simple process, citizenship by descent has a significant advantage from a business perspective. It empowers you to work in Italy, and you can think beyond employment if you have an entrepreneurial streak. You get a chance for visa-free travel across the EU, so you have the opportunity to set up a truly global business. You can start a business in Italy and expand across the Schengen markets for a broader outreach. Since there are no travel barriers, meeting clients, attending a trade show, and researching markets in the EU region are easy. You can focus only on growth instead of stressing about travel formalities.

Create a legacy for generations

Italian citizenship by descent enables you to create a business legacy for generations as you can stay here for good. Your children, grandchildren, and the generations beyond can reap the fruits of your labour because the citizenship rights pass on automatically to your kin. You have a good reason to invest in a business and property in the country because you can bequeath them to your loved ones. Your venture need not be confined to you alone but is an asset for your clan as they inherit citizenship by descent and pass it on as an unbroken chain.

Unlocking business opportunities with Italian citizenship by descent is effortless, provided you know the process inside out. Collaborating with experts is a better way because there is hardly a chance of error or omission in your paperwork. Moreover, these professionals help you close the process and embark on your entrepreneurial journey at the earliest.

How to Prepare a Resume For an Interview?

Almost thousands of new job seekers look further for a perfect job every year after completing their degrees. Undoubtedly, all these newbies want a good and short document summarizing their qualities and achievements. We call such documents a resume. A fresher resume is for those who recently graduated from a college or a university.

This single-page document decides whether you get a chance for an interview or not. Studies show that it takes about 10 seconds to know whether the applicant is helpful or not for the company just by looking at their resume. This resume will help surely help you land your first job interview. So, let’s move ahead and initiate our discussion.

A nailing format for the resume

First of all, the resume format should be clear to you. Here is the ordered format that you must follow:

  • Name
  • Contact Information
  • Something about yourself, an introduction section
  • Education
  • Your experience
  • Hard skills
  • Soft skills
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • Extra co-curricular activities

The last two are optional, but you must fill out the remaining seven details wisely.

Some essential tips to follow

Now it’s time for some tips on how and what to present in your fresher’s resume. Let’s get started.

A proper research comes at the first place

Make sure you do the proper research about the company you want to apply to. And then, accordingly, prepare your resume that will meet all the qualities the company needs. This will reflect that you are dedicated and sincere about getting the job.

Add the contact information

Always remember to put your correct contact information, including your email, phone number, and address. And don’t forget to add your social media account, especially your LinkedIn account. It will ease the employer’s work to get in touch with you.

Write an attractive yet hooking introduction

The most important part of a resume is the introduction section. You have to write about yourself, why you need the job and how your skills can help the company. Try to be precise here and avoid writing something irrelevant. This section will decide your personality.

Highlight your hard and soft skills

Instead of mentioning random skills, it would help if you only highlight the relevant skills that are best suited for the company’s interest. Again, this shows how important you are to the company’s goals.

Emphasis more on education rather than experience

Since you are a beginner and just completed your degree. It is better that you focus more on the educational section. However, the experience section can not be left empty. Thus, in this section, you can mention all the projects you have worked on and the achievements you have received while studying.

Be honest and bet on inspiration

Whatever you write on the resume, no matter something big or small, it has to be accurate and believable. You can not provide any false information about yourself on the resume. You can also take a look at various samples on the internet to get an idea of the same.

Bold the critical points and use bulletins

The more synchronized you keep your text, the easier it will be for the employer to make the decision. So, make sure that you use bulletins. Also, it is very wise to bold the necessary words to keep the employer’s attention on the focused words only, rather than shifting it to something irrelevant in the resume.

Types of skills to highlight in your resume:

Basically, there are two types of skills you need to boost the credibility of your fresher’s resume. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Soft Skills

These skills reflect your behaviour and your working ethics. These skills you generally learn from real-world experience and your understanding. Here are some soft skills that you can mention in your fresher’s resume:

  • Teamwork
  • Creative
  • Problem-solving
  • Effective speaker and communicator
Hard Skills

Hard skills are the skills that you learn from your schools and training. These skills vary from field to field. For example, let’s say that if you’re an engineer, then you will have some software-related skills, to mention. However, you will have to write managerial skills if you are from the management field.

Conclusion

If you thoroughly follow this guide, then you can create a very impactful fresher resume. The resume is vital for cracking an interview and getting your dream job. Hence, you cannot afford to make any errors in it. So, take your time to prepare for it.

How to Prepare for Your First Day at a New Job

It’s only natural to be nervous on the first day of a new job. To some extent, feeling nervous can be a good thing, however, first impressions are crucial so you also don’t want nerves getting in the way! Read on for some top tips on how to prepare for your first day in your new job.

Tips for Nailing Your First Day of Work

There are some simple things you can do to ensure your first day is a success and that you arrive feeling confident and well prepared.

Do your research

Researching your new job ahead of time will help prevent any last-minute jitters about where exactly you’re meant to be going or what time you need to be there. Get in touch with your manager a few days before your start date to confirm the details and test-run your commute in advance so you won’t be stressed on the day itself trying to find the building or somewhere to park your car.

Dress the part

It’s important to create a good first impression so pay attention to what you wear during your first week. Find out if your new workplace has a dress code. If not, wear something comfortable but smart that will make you feel confident when meeting new people.

Even if you’re working from home, dressing as you would for the office will help you get into ‘work mode’ so opt for a nice women’s top or blouse and trousers or a smart dress. This also means you won’t be caught out by any last-minute video calls or zoom meetings!

Be friendly

A little friendliness can go a long way in letting your new colleagues know that you’re happy to be joining the team. When you’re being shown around your new workplace and introduced to people, don’t forget to smile and ask questions. Try to remember people’s names when you’re introduced but if you do forget, don’t be afraid to ask them again – it’s only your first day so people will understand!

Make a plan

Having a plan will reduce your nerves and prevent you from making any faux pas on your first day. Ask in advance about breaks and lunches so you know what time to take yours and where to go. If you haven’t brought anything with you, then knowing about a nearby spot where you can grab a coffee or something to eat will mean you don’t go hungry.

Self-care

Your first week in your new job will probably be a whirlwind of introductions, inductions, training and meetings, so practice a bit of extra self-care when you get home. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep and that you’re eating well and making time for activities you enjoy like spending time with friends or family or going to the gym. A little treat to reward you at the end of your first week doesn’t hurt either, so make a plan to do something fun at the weekend or buy yourself something nice – after all, you deserve it!

Conclusion

Feeling stressed about your first day is totally normal but creating a good first impression in a new job is critical. These steps will boost your confidence and help you start your new job on the right foot.

Key Areas of Security Planning for Critical Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure is vital, providing us with fundamental cyber and physical systems. With this being said, there is an obvious need for security planning in these areas to be well thought out and considered to a sufficient level.

Here we’ll look into some of the top-of-the-range technologies that will change the game of security planning.

Leveraging hybrid systems made up of cloud and on-premise servers

It’s essential that there is more than one security system in place for something as important as critical infrastructure. This ensures that if one system is faulty or goes down, the other can stand in its place until the hybrid system is able to run again.

You can also set your systems to recognise and grant access to certain members of staff who may differ from each other. This means that each staff member who has access should fully understand how not to compromise their data and to keep their access credentials private and unique.

Integrating cyber and physical access control

To enforce a high level of access control, using video security for identity verification is a solid route to go down. Video security can then be synced with cybersecurity tools to ensure that the person entering a secured facility is actually the right person. This reduces the risk factors when it comes to verifying human identity.

Additionally, integrating your access control system with visitor management software will enhance the security of your building and accelerate the check-in process. Like commercial building access control systems, visitor management software utilises cloud-based tech to help organisations manage and automate visitor check-ins through registration and sign-in/sign-out.

When security systems are used together, they are, of course, both susceptible to risks and attacks. However, the combination of physical and cyber security creates a combined strong force that is more challenging to crack.

Automated video analytics powered by AI

AI is a great way to identify and track individuals, which is an incredibly useful tool to have when security planning. Additionally, it is easier to spot or predict anomalies across multiple sites when using AI, which helps prevent and counteract security risks quickly and effectively.

When using a commercial-grade security camera system, you can use AI-powered analytics to help your business decisions further, as you can keep a note of usage and tailor your business operations to those activities.

Integrating cloud-based technologies

Creating a ‘smart’ building is the best option when managing the security of an office, business space or block of apartments that houses classified and confidential information. This way, you can use your cloud-based data to access and oversee who is entering the premises. From here, you will be able to change the settings to put triggers in place in case security is breached at any point.

Secure high-risk areas

If there are areas of physical and cyber storage that are even kept confidential from some of your staff, it would be apparent that these high-risk areas should have extra layers of security to protect them.

In cyber situations, you can use authenticators to ensure only the select few individuals who should be viewing the high-risk content have access to it. In physical circumstances, you can use RFID systems that pick up frequencies from recognised mobile devices that have been stored within the system.

Phone-oriented security management

Being able to oversee and manage security from your mobile device is advantageous. It gives you a lot of leeway in being able to leave the office and leave devices unattended. This is because security managers will be able to get real-time alerts on any device from any location, all on one platform.

You can set up phone-oriented security management simply by using cloud-based security, as this will allow you to access everything all in one place.

Here are some benefits of phone-oriented security management to consider;

Ability to manage operations remotely from any destination. Enhanced security and backing up of data that you can access at any time. Connections to offices/on-site premises should there be a security situation that needs attention.

Summary

When planning security for critical infrastructure, there are some definitive key areas that you can hone your focus on to gain the safest and most secure environment. Using a blend of both cloud-based and physical security measures will guarantee you have sufficient backup options in place if one system fails.

Have We Seen the Death of Organic Social Media Marketing?

The number of users viewing organic social media content – the posts that are shared for free to a feed – has dramatically plummeted in recent years. This has led to organic content for business marketing purposes being proclaimed ‘dead’, forcing marketers to abandon organic strategies in favour of paid social media advertising.

However, according to Ben Luff, Social Media Manager at integrated marketing agency PMW, organic social media marketing should still play an important role in any business’s social strategy. Ben explains how and why organic social media has changed in recent years.

“First thing’s first, it’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is organic content isn’t dead – it’s just changed a lot,” said Ben. “It used to be about optimising organic content: researching hashtags and finding the best time in the day to post, based on when audiences were most active. Brands and social media marketers had no problems reaching a high proportion of their followers and getting plenty of engagement on free posts.”

In the past, everyone who followed a brand would receive that company’s posts on their feed. When these users interacted with a post (with likes, comments, and shares) the post would also be seen by their followers, allowing for a ripple effect of new people discovering a brand. These days, according to research carried out by social media management platform Hootsuite, a Facebook post will only reach 5.5% of a company’s followers – even less for brands that have a large number of followers.1 A dramatic decline from the early days of social media marketing.

What’s behind this change?

Ben explains:

“Around 2015, the major social media platforms began using enhanced relevancy algorithms, which prioritise content from a user’s friends and family. This pushed brand content down, meaning companies saw their engagement statistics tank. If you’re not seeing results from your organic content, you can’t just keep posting the same things and hoping it will get better. You need to change your tactics.”

What can brands do to increase their social media reach?

“Two things,” says Ben. “Prioritise authenticity in organic content, and invest in paid advertising – don’t worry, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Although organic content often doesn’t get the reach it used to, it’s still important for businesses to keep their social media feeds up to date.

“An active social media page shows those who have just discovered a brand that the company is in business and cares about connecting with its customers. For small to medium businesses, posting two to three times a week is enough.”

What’s type of content businesses should post?

Ben advises:

“Consumers value authenticity, so leave the sales pitch at the door. Showcase your brand’s personality, get your staff involved and provide value to your customers through informational videos, competitions, and entertaining challenges. When you share a post, platforms like Instagram will show it to a small test audience. The more engagement a post gets from the test audience, the more the algorithm will promote it, both to your brand’s followers, and to new audiences.

“Following the huge popularity of TikTok, the algorithms for other social media platforms have begun to follow suit and prioritise video content. A recent study by social media software company Emplifi found that businesses increased their organic reach on Facebook by an average of 135% just by posting a video instead of a photo.2 Make sure you take advantage of this.”

And, Ben says, businesses shouldn’t be reluctant to build their social media presence and gain momentum using paid social media advertising.

“Most social media marketers now include paid posts in every campaign they run. These ads can be highly targeted to any demographic, and are extremely effective. Advertised posts get pushed out to a wider audience than organic posts, and are great for reaching potential new customers, so they are an excellent tool for quickly building awareness of a brand among its target audience, as well as driving click-throughs to a brand’s website.

“It’s not necessary to spend a fortune. A little can go a long way, and because you can target any audience with laser accuracy, it can yield a very high return on your investment. In the current social media landscape, making this investment really does make sense.

“Ultimately, a great social media marketing strategy is authentic, uses video content to its advantage, and isn’t afraid to enlist the help of paid social media advertising to reach new audiences.”

4 Challenges Of Hybrid Workplace Awaits The Brave New World

The human mind adapts to new habits in a couple of months, if not weeks. Likewise, organizations and workforces got used to working from remote locations during the lockdown. Before the pandemic, the percentage of people working from home or in remote areas was in the single digits.

A shift to a hybrid workplace model was not unheard of, but it was a business consideration that accelerated after the coronavirus breakout. The urgent need to stay virtual but active rendered a glimpse of the future of workplaces.

Things have returned to near normal, and businesses have to decide how the workforce will work in the future without disrupting the process. Most companies are embracing the hybrid workplace model as their return-to-work strategy. It is a workweek arrangement with a mix of remote and in-person models. And few are indecisive about what is right and how to strategize the transition to a new order.

Reasons that appeal to a hybrid model

In a free world primary factor that decides the way we live and work is the ease of working. A hybrid model offers a work-life balance that most people missed before 2020. The exhaustive commute to work added pressure to the burgeoning problems of traffic. Going to work became an unpleasant part of people’s routines.

Future of hybrid workspaces

Hybrid workspaces have three dimensions; people, place, and technology. Critical decisions related to logistics and employee rostering may vary from one business to the other. Four challenges that will disrupt the efficiency of hybrid workplaces and the means to brave them are cited here:

Barriers to work culture

Hybrid workplaces pose the threat of partisan views resulting in unconscious bias. Out-of-sight may turn to out-of-mind in the case of remote workers, whereby managers give preference to in-person employees over others. The fixes to this problem lie in mindfulness displayed by the leadership and can be checked in the following ways:

1. Give equal appreciation for equal work irrespective of location and time. Let the employee’s work speak for themselves rather than their limitations of place. Some remote employees are doing work late at night as that’s the most productive time for them. But an in-person employee can only work in the office timings. The time they work in is not as important as the quality of their work.

2. Clear and unified communication among all the teams is necessary for hybrid workplaces. All the updates, guidelines, and directives, should be communicated to both in-person and remote teams.

Lost connections

It takes effort to reach out to a person, to know how they are faring. Isolation and disconnection from the world have disadvantages that work against remote employees. Managers who make effort to stay connected can still gauge the pulse of their team. To improve connection with employees checks here:

#1 Keep meetings short to avoid burnout for employees

#2 Delegate the work to deserving team members as a recognition of their work and empower them

#3 Ask direct questions and deep dive if necessary to get answers about how employees feel

Technical jargon

Every employee is not trained in IT or is digitally savvy. In a traditional office space, whenever there was system downtime, a ticket was raised to be solved by the IT-support function. But when employees work in isolation, they have to manage some basic IT functions like stabilizing an internet connection or managing their passwords. Check here for pointers

#1 Conduct IT and systems handling training sessions for teams

#2 If a team member cannot deal with the situation, IT should support them through remote access to their devices.

Demoralised worker

Even the most introverted employee needs some form of social connection with their ilk. The coffee-time banter and networking help employees stay abreast of the grapevine information that is related to their professional field. To overcome this problem managers can:

#1 Form groups for teams to discuss stuff unrelated to their regular work yet productive for the whole group. It is not a simple meme-forwarding platform but a source to exchange ideas that can help members in their overall professional growth.

Conclusion:

The reason to embrace hybrid work can vary but it is seen as the orbit for future workplaces. There will be adjustments from both enablers and users, however as mankind has adapted in past, this will be just another phase in the ongoing industrial revolution

10 Unconventional (But Very Effective) Tips For Job Seekers

Trying to find a job can be an intimidating and frustrating process. This is exacerbated if you’ve been out of work for a while and the bills are piling up.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of very effective but unconventional job-seeking tips.

Be Your Authentic Self

Sometimes, we may be tempted to put on a theatrical performance at a job interview, acting the role of the perfect employee.

At other times, it may be more advantageous to be your vulnerable, authentic self.

Consider the example of Ryan Lowery, a 19-year-old who posted a handwritten cover letter on LinkedIn. In it, Lowery acknowledged that “someone like you will have to take a chance on me,” as he is a person with autism. He also clearly stated his goal of working as an animator or in IT.

Finally, Lowery stated what he would bring to the table: “If you hire me and teach me, you’ll be glad that you did. I will show up every day, do what you tell me to do, and work really hard.”

The result? Not only did his letter go viral, but he was given a scholarship to attend an animation academy.

Learn more about how to write a cover letter, or view Lowery’s famous cover letter.

Create Your Own Job – See a Need and Fill It

Landing a job doesn’t necessarily mean getting hired by an existing company. Have you ever seen a need in your community or in business-to-business operations? Sometimes, you can create your own position by filling an existing need.

For example, a military veteran founded a company to fill the need for pet waste clean-up. They themed the business around their veteran status, naming themselves the “Parapooper Scoopers.”

Lean on LinkedIn

When you create a LinkedIn profile and connect with others, you are opening yourself to a professional network of job seekers and employers. You can let recruiters know that you’re looking for a job by setting your status to Open to Work.

Though caution is needed in accepting any online job offer, as a freelancer, I found this to be an effective tool for finding work. In fact, it was through a LinkedIn contact that I began working with the photography broker Ocus.

Develop a Passion, Don’t Follow One

Follow your passion is a common piece of career advice. However, this conventional wisdom could prevent you from taking a perfectly good job outside of your passion.

According to Forbes, “If you study people who end up loving their work, most of them did not follow a pre-existing passion… Instead, their passion for the work developed over time as they got better at what they did and took more control over their career.”

Look for “Help Wanted”

Today, many people turn to the internet for job opportunities. However, you may be passing by valid opportunities in the community where you live. Look for help-wanted signs or local job fairs.

Build Relationships at the Company

From the administrative assistant to the highest level executive, it helps to build relationships at the company you would like to work with.

Consider one example. A young man worked in a customer service position in a supermarket. He conversed with and built rapport with customers. Even during times of economic downturn, this man was never out of work, as decision-makers in organizations as diverse as the fire and rescue service, electricians, and pest control offered him jobs. He had met all of them at the checkout counter.

Pay Attention to Your Body Language

When you go for an interview, make sure that your body language conveys the right message. Watch your posture, hands, and feet. Make sure that you look relaxed and confident, not nervous or uncertain.

Additionally, you can watch the interviewer’s body language to gauge how the interview is going.

Actively Listen

At your interview, you may be preoccupied with giving a good impression and answering questions just as you rehearsed.

However, it might be more important to listen – really listen.

Listen actively – make eye contact, pay close attention to what the interviewer is saying, don’t let your thoughts wander, and repeat back statements or questions at appropriate intervals.

Also, know when to speak and when to remain silent. Don’t interrupt.

Be a Loyal Fan

Ideal employees are enthusiastic about their job. When you’re looking for a job and you want to work with a specific company, becoming a brand loyalist is a way to get noticed.

One way to do this is to become a social media influence or micro-influencer. Talk about the company’s product or services. Tag them in your posts. Contact them directly and ask to work with them. Your enthusiasm, coupled with your abilities, may eventually lead to a job.

Don’t Wait for the Perfect Job

The truth is, there are no perfect jobs out there. You may be waiting for the ideal work environment and salary. In the meantime, don’t turn down less than perfect jobs that could help you provide for your family and build your career.

Best Website Traffic Generating Company 2022

A good website, well utilised, has incredible power in the modern marketplace. With a focus on lead generation and marketing, founders Chris Niebel and Mark Shephard have pushed their business into bold new territory. In the IT Awards from SME News, the team at The Genius Group have achieved remarkable success, proving themselves by helping clients drive over £2.3 billion in sales in the last 3 years. We dig a little deeper to find out more.

Generating traffic is an enormous part of any business model. The more people who see what is on offer, the faster you will achieve your business goals. Thai business, The Genius Group, has mixed the disciplines of marketing, digital strategy, and advanced AI systems to build the support network that organisations need.

Founded by Chris Niebel and Mark Shephard, pioneers of lead generation and marketing solutions, The Genius Group has gone from strength to strength. Their eye for CRO research, marketing optimisation, advanced lead generation techniques, and superbly crafted creative solutions has ensured the delivery of numerous compelling end-user experiences. At the heart of their success, however, is the team’s ability to take brand concepts and ideas, create macro solutions, and turn them into powerful online businesses with digital at their core.

Mark states, “Imagine paying a company whose only job is supplying you clients – not taking any of your monthly spend if they get it right or wrong – but a company who is held responsible for getting it right, and your business only paying a cost per client. Welcome to Genius.” Mark knows that The Genius Group does things differently to the rest and the team understands how to be clever – it’s not just about traffic but it’s about creating a winning strategy for everyone involved.

Pushing the boundaries of what has gone before is one of the reasons why so many turn to this talented team for support. The wealth of experience, and outstanding in-house tech, which is available from both Chris and Mark is very useful to businesses wanting to reach out to new audiences, with inhouse work including building websites, writing copy and headlines, creating sales funnels, e-signatures, CRM backends to handle client data, adverts, social media, and conversion optimisation.

Perhaps the best example of their work, reaping incredible rewards can be seen in the success of their clients. One of the team’s projects saw them working alongside a financial technology and claims company, seeing them grow to roughly £2.7b in revenue over three years, utilising AI, leading digital and social media strategies. Since its establishment, The Genius Group has driven over £5m, having onboarded over 25k clients per day for its customers.

Chris and Mark both come from very different backgrounds, but it is this diverse approach which has secured the success of so many ideas. Chris has been an entrepreneur and blue-sky thinker since the age of 25, creatively and strategically applying his expertise in lead generation to the needs of his clients. His passion for the sector has been instrumental in the successful growth of some of the UK’s largest claims businesses.

In 2011, Chris created bespoke software for SMS marketing, and was able to utilise the PAYG mobile sim packages developing the unique SMS usage, which was 10k texts for £10 top up. This allowed one of the UK’s largest scale-up operations in SMS marketing, resulting in over 2m SMS sent each day, marketing to consumers for different products. In less than two months, the software was generating more than £500k profit every month.

The rules surrounding GDPR saw a shift for Chris as he realised it was time to rethink the way consumers were contacted. He worked on website optimisation using bespoke software from a platform developed inhouse called Flopanda, a multi-award-winning platform to help businesses scale up mass volume of leads using multiple network platforms including Facebook, Google, and native.

Chris also worked exclusively on a financial claims product (PPI) with Allay claims. It was here where he met Mark. Mark and Chris took the firm from a £600k turnover in 2016 to £200m turnover in 2019 and 2020. Collections were in excess of £2.3b in compensations for customers. This was purely by the marketing expertise and conversion strategies and optimisation identified in previous years. Chris explains, “We dominated the networks spending £8m each month on advertising, making a profit of £2.5m each month with no more than five staff members.”

Mark’s strength as a creative genius has seen him celebrate major success with many companies. Mark is the perfect business partner to Chris, bringing an enviable powerhouse in optimisation and SEO to the table. With his ground-breaking marketing strategies, he proved instrumental in the success of building a company worth £600m. After the phenomenal success of Allay, Mark and Chris built TGG, now the biggest advertising company on Facebook. They have continued to drive their successes into two legal firms, numerous claims companies, and developed a beauty e-commerce business with turnover of over £11m in only two years.

Not only did The Genius Group make this possible, but the team also made sure that the company generated over 2.3 Billion and Made over 600 million in 3 years. From a standing start of only generating 600K per year.

Continuing to invest in developing proprietary solutions that deliver, the team has been able to secure their place in the industry. The importance of good traffic generation is clear to anyone in every industry, and the team act as partners throughout to their clients, from e-commerce to technology, operations to brand and data, meaning they can optimise their approach from the very first click through to the final mile. All of the various app and software development has been done inhouse, revolutionising the legal and claims world. All of these innovations, essential to the continued success of the business, are fully owned by Chris and Mark.

When it comes to lead generation, The Genius Group tends to work with law firms, claims management companies, and home improvement businesses, helping them to generate a high volume of consumer leads through social media. It can offer high quality leads, at an affordable price, with a simple onboarding process that is led by its development team. Their marketing processes enable them to create campaigns that reach a large audience, with ads and websites that lead to increased conversions. With implementation and set up being so simple, campaigns can start very quickly and run more efficiently.

Once a lead has been generated, it’s essential not to lose them on the website. Did you know that over 90% of the traffic that goes to a website does not convert, but instead drops off? Of that sizable percentage, The Genius Group has proven able to convert an extra 10% of that traffic by engaging with them in the partial data they have entered on the website and bringing them back into the funnel where they left off. These insight tools are used consistently to adapt to the varying needs of clients.

Perhaps the most important of these is Flo Panda, a product built by marketers, for marketers. This platform cuts through the complex systems and procedures that competitors offer and gets straight to the point of the website issues that are costing businesses money. The tool takes real-time data and shows areas to improve conversions, optimise Facebook and PPC marketing campaigns, and re-engage with people who partially complete your opt-in and order forms. When The Genius Group built and tested Flo Panda, it generated over 4.1m leads over an 18-month period, building up a £600m business.

This data is not only closely interpreted by the team, but also collected as efficiently as possible. The team’s own inhouse data mining team means there is no need for a massive form. Instead, the team data mines third-party data resources and can automate information without relying on the customer. This allows them to ask less questions in their forms, whilst still being able to secure a much higher conversion rate. This automated data is used throughout the business, including in the team’s customer call centre. A pre-populated data field when it comes to emails or telephones ensures a tailored and customer-centric approach at all times.

Behind the team’s success in numbers lies a bunch of hard-working experts who develop stunning websites through the perfect blend of aestheticism and conversion. With plenty of CTA and UX knowledge, the team of experts have been responsible for creating a website which has tripled the conversion rate compared to the industry average (7.09% compared to 2.7%). Indeed, The Genius Group’s Shopify website currently sits in the top 1% of all e-commerce stores in the world, in one of the toughest categories, health and beauty.

By following their own rules and differing from the rest, right now the team generates more consumers than any company in the UK in 3 verticals. Working with companies with budgets over 300,000 for online acquisitions, they have wiped the awards of the best tech solutions online and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The coming years look bright for Chris, Mark and their talented team. In fact, the team seems set to grow, with more inhouse experts always being brought in so that the firm can take on more clients. It seems likely that The Genius Group will continue in its quest to generate even more innovative and automated ways for its clients to generate leads, as it has brought them – and will continue to bring them – such incredible success.

For further information, please visit www.genius.co.uk

Technographic Data: Leverage Company Tech Stacks to Drive B2B Growth

Data is the contemporary business world’s driving force, helping companies gain a competitive edge and increase sales and revenue. Many B2B businesses need firmographics, but if you offer SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, or another on-demand service? Then technographic data is your go-to grouping.

Learn how to use technographic data to drive B2B growth before exploring the best methods to collect it.

What is technographic data?

Technographic data shows all the hardware, software, tools, and apps a particular company uses to run daily operations. It gives you insight into its entire tech stack, including when and where it acquired each solution and how and when it uses them.

It also uncovers the company’s challenges with existing solutions and plans to purchase specific tech products. That can give you the upper hand, helping you identify better targets and ideal prospects, tailor marketing messaging to their needs, and skyrocket sales.

How can you leverage technographic data?

Technographics uncover purchasing and usage habits regarding your competitors’ and target and existing customers’ tech stacks. Here’s how your teams can leverage that knowledge to drive long-term growth.

Gaining business intelligence

Technographics provide valuable business insights, helping you make data-driven decisions and position your company in the B2B market.

Your ideal customers’ tech purchasing habits can help you understand their needs and pain points. The demand for your current solutions or other products you could develop can point you in the right direction.

The same goes for researching the competition – your business intelligence team can uncover market gaps and seize opportunities to stand out.

Enhancing marketing campaigns

Technographic data can help you identify your total addressable market (TAM) and enhance your inbound marketing and ABM (Account-Based Marketing) efforts.

Companies’ current tech stacks, upcoming purchases, and expansion goals can help you identify those looking for your technologies. You can then develop solutions perfect for their needs.

You can improve lead generation, segmentation, scoring, and nurturing, having essential knowledge for tailoring marketing messaging. You can prioritize accounts, personalize communications, and identify opportunities to gain more market share.

Empowering sales teams

Technographics give your sales teams crucial information for informed sales conversations. They can upgrade their pitches to personalize communications and improve conversion rates.

They can upsell existing clients and identify companies using competitive or complementary products to improve targeting. Knowing when a target customer drops a competitor is another benefit, letting your sales reps contact them at the most convenient time.

Upgrading customer success strategies

Customer success teams can use technographics to optimize the entire customer journey. They can find upsell opportunities, develop strategies for educating customers at the top of the sales funnel, reduce churn, and improve retention.

They can track contract renewal, create a competitive customer journey to highlight your service’s benefits, and discover leads using technologies that integrate with your solutions.

Proactively addressing their needs by offering complementary products that could enhance their tech stack is excellent for personalization and nurturing.

How to collect high-quality technographics

You can use phone and email surveys to gather technographics, but you might get incorrect and incomplete data. The following methods of collecting technographic data will provide high-quality records to enrich your database and drive long-term growth.

Purchasing from a data provider

A data provider like Coresignal is your go-to source of accurate, correct, up-to-date technographic data. You can get relevant, complete records to gain invaluable business intelligence and improve your marketing, sales, and customer success efforts.

Data providers regularly update their databases, providing the latest information your business needs to generate leads, convert prospects, retain customers, and outperform competitors.

Scraping the web for relevant information

Web scraping means harvesting website data to uncover information like the tech stacks and purchasing behaviour of your target customers, existing clients, and competitors.

A web scraper can extract information from corporate websites, social media, forums, blogs, and other online sites. You can also use a programming language like Python to scrape the web with NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology and compile better results.

However, web scraping requires technical expertise and provides unstructured data, making it more time-consuming than purchasing from a third party.

Conclusion

Technographic data is the essential ingredient for sustainable B2B company growth. It’s the secret sauce of your marketing and sales strategies, helping create a fantastic customer journey and supercharge sales and revenue. Start collecting it today to sharpen your competitive edge and join the ranks of industry-leading companies consumers love.

7 Ways to Make a Pamphlet Maker Work for You

Do you need to create pamphlets for your business, but don’t know where to start? A pamphlet maker can be a great way to get your information out there, but not all of them are created equal.

In this blog post, we will discuss 7 ways to make a pamphlet maker work for you and help you create effective and professional-looking pamphlets. Now, let’s get things started right away!

#1 Choose the Right Online Pamphlet Maker

There are a lot of different types of pamphlets out there, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. If you’re looking for something straightforward, a basic pamphlet maker might be right for you. If you need more features or want to create fancier designs, look for a more advanced option.

Based on our experience, Venngage is one of the best online pamphlet makers because it’s easy to use and has a wide range of features such as a pamphlet maker, flow chart maker, org chart maker, and many more. Venngage offers a free trial with no commitments, so you can try it out before you decide if it’s the right tool for you.

#2 Customize Your Templates in the Online Pamphlet Creator

Even if you choose a more advanced pamphlet maker, most of them come with customizable templates that you can use as starting points. These templates make it easy to get started creating your pamphlets without having to start from scratch. Be sure to take advantage of this by customizing the templates to fit your needs.

In Venngage, you can customize every aspect of the template, from the colours and fonts to the images and layout. And if you need more help, our design team is always happy to lend a hand.

#3 Use High-Quality Images in the Pamphlet Creator

Once you’ve chosen a template and customized it to fit your brand, it’s time to start adding content. And one of the most important things to include in your pamphlets is high-quality images.

When choosing images, make sure they are relevant to the text and add value to the pamphlet. In other words, don’t just add an image for the sake of adding one. The images you use should support your message and help communicate your ideas more effectively.

If you’re not sure where to find high-quality images, check out our list of free stock photos sites. These websites offer a wide range of royalty-free images that you can use in your pamphlets.

#4 Write Compelling Copy for Your Pamphlets

In addition to images, your pamphlets need to have well-written copies. After all, the text is what will really convey your message to the reader.

When writing copy for your pamphlet, make sure it is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that might not be familiar to the reader. And most importantly, make sure your message is compelling enough to get people interested in what you’re offering.

#5 Format Your Text in the Online Pamphlet Creator for Maximum Effect

Once you’ve written your copy, it’s time to format it in the pamphlet maker. This is where you can make your pamphlets stand out from the competition.

There are several different ways you can format your text, and each one can be used to convey a different message. For example, using headings and subheadings can help break up the text and make it easier to read. You can also use different fonts and colours to add visual interest.

In Venngage, we offer a variety of different formatting options that you can use to create an effect that matches your brand or message. Play around with these options until you find something that works best for you.

#6 Use CTA Buttons to Drive Action

Your pamphlet should have a clear call-to-action (CTA) that tells the reader what you want them to do next. This could be something like “Sign Up Now,” “Learn More,” or “Buy Now.”

The CTA button should be prominently displayed on your pamphlet so that it’s easy for the reader to see. And if you’re using an online pamphlet maker, make sure the CTA button is properly linked to your website or landing page.

By including a CTA in your pamphlet, you can help increase conversions and drive more sales.

#7 Print Your Pamphlets for Maximum Impact

Once you’ve finished creating your pamphlet, it’s time to print it. And if you’re going to the trouble of printing your pamphlet, you might as well make sure it looks its best.

To do this, we recommend using a professional printing service like Moo.com. With Moo, you can choose from a variety of high-quality paper stocks and finishes to make your pamphlets look their best. Plus, Moo offers free shipping on orders over $50, so you can get your pamphlets delivered right to your door.

If you’re not ready to print just yet, that’s okay! Just be sure to download your design as a PDF so you can print it whenever you’re ready.

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for an easy way to create pamphlets, consider using Venngage. With their online pamphlet maker, you can easily create beautiful and professional-looking pamphlets that will help you promote your business or event. Plus, with our distribution tools, you can easily get your pamphlets in front of the right people. Sign-up today and see how Venngage can help you take your marketing efforts to the next level!

SME News Announces the Winners of the 2022 Greater London Enterprise Awards

UNITED KINGDOM, 2022 – SME News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2022 Greater London Enterprise Awards.

Now in its sixth year, the SME Greater London Enterprise Awards continues to recognise SMEs of all sizes who are endeavouring to bettering business in the region. Whether it’s by nourishing rich internal cultures to promote employee satisfaction, by offering next-level customer service, or through an enduring dedication to innovative products – London SMEs are truly pacesetters on the greater landscape.

Award Coordinator Holly Blackwood took a moment to discuss the success of this year’s programme: “One of the joys of this programme is realising the sheer talent and skill that permeates every inch of the British business sphere, across all industries and fields. So here’s a massive congratulations and I hope you all have a wonderful – and productive- rest of the year ahead. It has been a delight to interact with all of the winners recognised in this programme.”

SME News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the SME News website (http://sme-news.co.uk) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About SME News

SME News draws on our UK wide network of industry insiders to provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape.

Alongside our quarterly publication we also offer an easy to use website, newsletter and a series of awards programmes, making SME News much more than just a magazine, but instead a vital resource.

Bought to you by AI Global Media, the international provider of corporate news and information, this unique magazine is the perfect resource for the CEOs, leaders and decision makers in the UK based SMEs looking to keep their finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the competition.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 85,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Alongside this, we have a luxury-lifestyle magazine, LUXlife, which appeals to a range of high-net-worth individuals, offering them insight into the latest products, experiences and innovations to ensure they can live the high-life to its fullest.

Fixed and Floating Charges – Everything You Need to Know

Charges put on assets by a firm’s creditors are permissible, but they often don’t cause problems unless the company becomes insolvent and unable to pay its debts. Whether a fee is fixed or floating, as well as the asset it relates to, can affect what it means for your business.

What are the types of charges?

There are two types of charges either fixed or floating. When a company requests for capital, lenders impose charges over its assets. They serve as security, safeguarding the lender’s investment in the event that the business is unable to pay it back, in which case the lender may claim or seize the asset.

Fixed Charges

Banks and lenders frequently issue fixed charges that are backed by company assets acquired with those monies.

The asset must be tangible in order for a fixed fee to be applied, and examples of tangible assets include buildings, machines, sales ledgers, and cars. Fixed charges are filed at Companies House in the UK. The assets therefore cannot be sold without first obtaining consent from the impacted creditors. The right to contest the sale, seize the asset, and sell it in order to recoup their investment belongs to those creditors. 

Floating Charges

In contrast to fixed costs, floating charges are applied to less physical assets including unfactored debts, stock, supplies, and works-in-progress. The assets are more prone to change and are therefore subject to floating charges since they are more difficult to measure than those subject to fixed charges. As a result, they are typically harder to quantify.

When can things become a problem?

Charges typically operate in the background of a company’s everyday operations, but if the organisation is insolvent, they may cause problems.

When a firm is insolvent, it is unable to pay its debts when they become due. Depending on the severity of the debts, the business may then have choices for debt relief. If the business enters a recovery process like a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) or administration, the creditors must be paid back in a certain hierarchy. Secured creditors of the firm who have set charges, will be the first to collect any proceeds from the liquidation, if the company enters a voluntary liquidation like a Creditors Voluntary Liquidation (CVL).

Additionally, the creditors may file a petition to wind up the company, putting it into compulsory liquidation, if the debt is greater than £750 and repayment reminders are ignored.

Floating fees may potentially condense and become fixed if the company goes into liquidation or fails. After that, no further action can be taken without the lender’s approval. The applicable debenture should include the specific conditions surrounding a floating fee. In the event that the business is unable to make its repayments, floating charge holders may also choose an administrator.

What help is out there?

For businesses that are having trouble paying off their debts, there are, thankfully, solutions. It might be possible to repay the debts in monthly instalments through a Company Voluntary Arrangement if they are the result of a transitory problem and the business could continue to operate without them. These agreements are official, binding under law, and overseen by a qualified insolvency practitioner.

If more extensive restructuring is required, administration can also be a good choice. The qualified insolvency practitioner assumes the job of administrator and manages the business while making modifications to increase its appeal to purchasers, which may entail selling off some of its less profitable components.

In summary

Charges are placed on a company’s assets by creditors to safeguard their financial interests. Depending on the asset they are related to, charges are either fixed or floating. While floating costs pertain to less tangible assets, fixed charges are more substantial assets like machinery, vehicles, or real estate.  If the company goes bankrupt, then undoubtedly it spells bad news. In these circumstance, the creditors may call in these fees in an effort to reduce losses and, if at all feasible, recoup their invested money. If the business is unable to pay, official action to reduce the debts may be required.

How I’m Recession-Proofing My Team

Sedge Beswick, CEO and founder of SEEN Connects, the innovative influencer marketing agency

There are picket lines up and down the country, inflation at a 40-year high and energy bills skyrocketing. Just as we emerge from the pandemic’s ‘new normal’, we’ve been smacked in the face by a cost of living crisis with all arrows pointing towards a recession. Now, tell me, these aren’t unprecedented times. 

At the innovative influencer marketing agency SEEN Connects, which I founded six years ago, we’ve been watching the news closely. Shocker. For one, this crisis will affect every single one of our clients, but also, and importantly, my whole team too. We’re lucky to be in a safe position – our business model for our clients, which include eBay, Panasonic and LVMH, is based on a marketing method where every damn pixel is trackable. This means we can create and prove ROI in every one of our influencer and celebrity led campaigns.

We, like everyone else, will have to face this crisis with a plan to support the areas that are going to be hit the hardest. Just like in March 2020 when the world spun in a new direction, my leadership team and I sat down and came up with a series of steps to take control of our course. 

One: Prioritise Your Team’s Wellness

At Connects, we’re powered by personality, which means we are nothing without our team. As much as we can financially support them and counter the inflation surge, we will, but we also know that there’s more to a job than pay. 

Always make sure your team are taking and using their holiday. Even if travel is a cost too far, we all need recharge our batteries from time to time. Secondly, even if you’re putting promotions on pause, don’t cut off their training, development, or coaching. Your team needs to know you support them and want them to grow, this is a crystal-clear signal that you care and believe in them. 

Two: Get Your Books In Order

You think this is hard, think again of your finance team. Now is the time to get on top of dept, ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and that you’ve got finance lined up in case clients pay late. 

On the topic of clients, when you bag a lead, audit it. Plus, make new business everyone’s business. Inspire your account handlers to become a sales force, upskill them if necessary so they have all the arsenal they need to sell your services. 

Three: Keep Your Clients Close 

New business is important but so is old – take care of your clients. Look after them by proving and focusing on their ROI. Their budgets are likely to be scrutinised more than ever, so don’t give them any reason to cutback. 

At Connects, we like to be proactive, giving clients ideas of spaces they can manoeuvre into and ways to grow their campaigns, as well as insights into their wider sector. But as good as it is to inspire, make sure you’re always bringing your A-Game. You want to win, so make sure your new clients feel that. And, when you don’t? Get feedback…even when it’s hard to hear. Push hard for why you haven’t won the work and what can be done to never let this happen again.

Four: Pivot When You Have To

If you must adapt, do. As long as you know your USP inside out, who your customer is and how viable their future is, you’ll be able to pivot when you need to. My advice would be to move fast but don’t make rash decisions. 

Keep your head up, you’ve got this! 

8 Digital Tools to Strengthen Your SME’s Security

If you’re a business owner, there’s so much on your mind: revenue, customers, and employees take up most of your time. But one crucial thing that’s often overlooked is security. With new legislation such as the GDPR, data security is as important as ever, and UK companies must work hard to secure their data.

Thankfully, you don’t have to constantly think about cybersecurity and how to make it work. All you need is a set of digital tools that will help you strengthen your SME’s security. Here are eight of them:

Password management tools

People tend to take the easy route, even when it comes to security. Choosing weak passwords for business accounts is a common byproduct. While it can be difficult to manage different passwords for so many accounts, you’re only making hackers’ jobs easier.

Thankfully, a solution exists in the form of password management tools. These tools will not only automatically generate strong passwords that are impossible to guess, but they will also store these passwords securely in an online “vault” where only you can access them. 

Antivirus

Antivirus software has been around for decades and is still a key tool in combating cyber threats. Over the years, antiviruses have evolved from fighting computer viruses to becoming an all-round cybersecurity tool.

Antivirus software will scan your computer for known threats in its database. If it detects any malicious files, it will delete them. Antiviruses will also warn you if you’re about to download a suspicious file. 

For SMEs, it’s best to enable the software to automatically block or delete potentially malicious files.

DNS protection

DNS stands for Domain Name System. DNS protection filters out websites employees can visit based on the domain name. If your SME gives devices to employees or you have computers on-site, you must do everything you can to protect them.

A DNS protection tool will allow you to blacklist dangerous websites so employees can’t access them.

Next-generation firewall

Aside from controlling the websites employees visit, you also have to take control of your entire network. There’s no better way to do so than with a firewall. Traditional firewalls inspect network traffic and block what they deem to be dangerous. They can also be configured with admin controls.

Next-gen firewalls do the same but are far more advanced, adding several other capabilities. They are capable of blocking modern threats like application-layer attacks and malware. They are also much faster in detecting potential problems.

Email gateway security

Human error is the main cause of cyber incidents. All it takes is for one employee to click a malicious link, and your entire company can be put in danger. Email is a common attack vector for hackers, so it’s vital to implement gateway security for your business email.

Gateway security will prevent spam and other targeted attacks like phishing attempts. After all, the best protection is if the employee doesn’t see the harmful email in the first place. That’s exactly why email gateway security tools exist.

Cloud security

The cloud is where most of the action happens for modern businesses, regardless of size. It’s where employees store and transfer data and access services. There are several types of cloud security tools.

Cloud backup tools are popular, allowing users to easily create cloud data backups. There are also cloud antivirus tools that prevent malicious files from spreading across the cloud infrastructure.

Log monitoring tools

Log monitoring requires an IT specialist, which won’t apply to all SMEs. But logging network activity is a great way to detect and prevent attacks. Logging tools will provide detailed descriptions of events. It’s then up to the IT department to determine whether the activity is out of the ordinary.

If your SME operates an extensive network with many devices or stores large amounts of sensitive data, consider investing in log monitoring tools.

Endpoint protection

Endpoints are all devices that connect to your corporate network. Securing these devices is of the utmost importance for overall security. Endpoint protection solutions give network admins a centralized platform to connect to the corporate network. From there, they can monitor, investigate, and protect against threats.

Conclusion

UK businesses that operate online have no choice but to dedicate resources to cybersecurity. Thankfully, securing your business from online threats can be automated thanks to the many digital tools available.

SME News Announces the Winners of the 2022 IT Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – SME News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2022 IT Awards.

Technology moves swiftly, relentlessly so. It’s an unfortunate fact that the industry moves forward regardless of the preparedness and adaptability of those that follow it. Yet, technology underpins almost every other industry on the greater business landscape, and all companies – in one way or another – must utilise technology to operate and grow. As a result, the work of the IT industry remains crucial and, indeed, only becomes more and more crucial as we move forward into an ever more digitised world. Here we celebrate those who drive for innovation, and client-centricity, while ensuring they remain true experts in a changing arena.

On the eve of the announcement Award Coordinator Holly Blackwood took a moment to reflect on this year’s programme: “I offer a sincere congratulations to all of the winners in this programme, and all the best for the future. I hope you have a delightful rest of 2022 ahead, and a fantastic 2023.”

SME News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the SME News website where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About SME News

SME News draws on our UK wide network of industry insiders to provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape.

Alongside our quarterly publication we also offer an easy to use website, newsletter and a series of awards programmes, making SME News much more than just a magazine, but instead a vital resource.

Bought to you by AI Global Media, the international provider of corporate news and information, this unique magazine is the perfect resource for the CEOs, leaders and decision makers in the UK based SMEs looking to keep their finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the competition.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 85,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Alongside this, we have a luxury-lifestyle magazine, LUXlife, which appeals to a range of high-net-worth individuals, offering them insight into the latest products, experiences and innovations to ensure they can live the high-life to its fullest.

Retail expert: Local authorities need to meet SME demands for digital skills training

Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO of social media specialists Maybe* discusses why local authorities must do more to meet SME’s demands for digital skills training.

Small businesses around the country have a lack of understanding of digital marketing. Business owners and their employees simply do not have the right tools and information to make the most of the social media revolution.

That may sound like a sweeping statement, but it is all backed up by findings we have published in a new white paper entitled “Levelling up the digital skills gap: How local authorities can help businesses transform their digital skills in response to evolving consumer behaviour”.

The study investigated the way small businesses use social media as a way of both connecting with consumers and selling products. And it has revealed a huge disconnect between the two, with consumers vastly more engaged than the businesses that wish to contact them.

The study found that whilst 79.1% of consumers spend over seven hours a week on social media only 19% post on a monthly basis. Of those with social media accounts only 29.2% are spending more than five hours a week managing their accounts or creating content.

This is despite the fact that 43.1% of surveyed businesses make over a quarter of their sales online, and 31% of them sell services or products that are only available online.

This shows that social media drives purchasing decisions in a way that is not being reflected by the level of resource put into it by businesses.

Most businesses (64.8%) recognise the significant impact of digital marketing on sales, but a similar amount (63.8%) do not take the time or are unable to measure the impact that social media activity has on their sales. Only a minority use social media management tools (16.6%).

And here’s the rub. There is clear evidence of demand for more training, with 65.6% of respondent businesses interested in accessing support/training to help them grow their business, 58.3% wanting support with digital skills for social media, 51.9% needing help with marketing and 46.2% looking for assistance with digital skills for e-commerce and web.

Our data shows that only 31% of UK businesses of 3.9m businesses listed on Google My Business have social media accounts, and only 19% are actually active on social media. Of businesses with active social media accounts, over 90% do not post to social media at weekends, despite this being the time when most consumers are likely to be on social media and making purchases.

This means there is both a significant opportunity and a major risk for businesses and their local economies. There is clearly significant demand for quality local provision of a wide range of products and services that address consumer needs, but also a large gap between how local businesses communicate and where consumers go for information, advice, and to comment. There is an urgent need to upskill businesses, evidenced by 65.6% of businesses surveyed, who are keen to access support and training to help them grow their business.

All of these findings are relevant to the Government’s Levelling Up objectives, from boosting productivity, pay, jobs and living standards by growing the private sector; to restoring a sense of community, local pride and belonging, and empowering local leaders and communities, especially in those places lacking local agency.

The White Paper addresses a range of related issues, including advertising spend, measuring impact on sales, resourcing, and skills and training. It reveals:

– Most businesses that use social media do not spend any money advertising on it (72.3%). They don’t believe that they have the skills, or that it can work for their business. Of those who do advertise, spend is low, with only 16.3% of all survey respondents spending over £100 a month on social media advertising.

– Whilst consumers are spending an increasing amount of time on social media – 79.1% of individuals spend over seven hours a week on it – 75% of businesses are spending less than five hours a week managing their social media accounts. Consumers use social media to discover what to buy, to research before buying, and to chat with their friends and family about their decisions, yet businesses are not present in places where they can capitalise on these conversations.

– A lack of digital training and skills (60% of businesses have had no recent digital skills training) is an important factor, with business owners and employees simply not having the right tools and information to make the most of the social media revolution.

If businesses in a location can successfully exploit social media and thrive, this will support the delivery of a number of the SPF investment priorities, meaning everyone’s a winner.

To access your free copy of the White Paper, visit – www.maybetech.com/gap

Why You Should Get an ISO For Your Workplace

Whether you’re working in an office, kitchen, laboratory, or manufacturing plant, chances are, you may have heard of having an ISO in the workplace. These crucial rules set out how different equipment, machinery, and processes must be conducted, but what exactly are they, which businesses use them, and what are their benefits of having one?

What is an ISO?

An ISO compromises a set of standards which a workplace must adhere to, as set out by the International Organisation for Standardisation. Over 160 countries are a part of the organisation, which helps to determine the best practice for workplaces and production, thereby creating harmonisation in the way professional fields operate.

There are around 22,000 ISO standards utilised, according to Reciprocity, with more being added every year.

Who might use an ISO?

ISOs are implemented by a wide-ranging set of businesses. These businesses need to adhere to a strict set of standards in their workplace. This can be due to either the standard being an aspect of national health and safety legislation and regulation, or expectations within their industry – from customers, suppliers, or even partners – to operate to a certain standard.

For instance, ISO 13485 is most often used by medical professionals, such as quality scientists and laboratory analysts, whereas AS9100 is used by the aerospace industry to ensure the safety and quality of operations.

Why are ISO ratings beneficial?

ISO ratings offer guidance to business on how they can adhere to best practices in the workplace. This can be beneficial for several reasons:

Demonstrate quality – If your business has an ISO accreditation, you can show customers and partners that your business is working to a globally defined standard. This can improve the success of your business.

Understand business risks – During the process of making sure your operations adhere to relevant ISO standards, you will be shown various risks that could affect your business. As such, the process of gaining accreditation improves the health of your business, without you needing to have experienced issues first-hand.

Find new opportunities – Much like risk, the process of gaining ISO accreditation will almost certainly train you to identify opportunities and understand how to take advantage of them.

A stronger workforce – With trained applicants in short supply, reducing churn and attracting the best talent is more crucial than ever. If you follow the ISO path, you will be making strides in improving your organisation and how it does business, thereby attracting go-getting applicants who want to work at a leading business.

Gain control – ISO standards require the involvement of management in assessing the quality of production. As such, in the process you will gain a more holistic, stronger understanding of your business, helping you improve decision making.

So, if it sounds like your business may benefit from incorporating an ISO in the workplace, its worth investigating and getting the ball rolling, so that you too can be on the way to having your own ISO certification.

Sodexo Engage: Five Key Steps to Improving your Retention

Research from employee benefits and rewards provider Sodexo Engage has found that a third (32%) of SME employees plan to leave their role in 2022 leaving companies with a significant skills shortage.  In terms of engagement, 39% say they were not engaged in their work or role in 2021.

Through experiencing challenges such as isolation, stress and burnout over the past two years, many employees have re-evaluated what matters most to them, what they’ll tolerate and what they expect from their employer. Amid the ‘great resignation’, Sodexo Engage outlines five elements that are critical to engaging and retaining employees.

A new era for leadership

With changing expectations, employees will no longer turn a blind eye to poor leadership. They expect transparency, accountability, and trust. The changing workplace now requires a different kind of leader – one that is empathetic and puts their people first. This will take new skills and investment in the development of managers and the C-suite to make decisions, and take action, with a people-first approach.

Wellbeing

According to research from The Josh Bersin Company, companies that put the right wellbeing strategy in place are 3.2 times more likely to engage and retain employees, and 2.8 times more likely to adapt well to change.

There is growing employee expectation for employers to take a more holistic approach to wellbeing – an approach that not only protects physical health, but also mental, financial and social aspects. They want a culture of wellbeing focused on not just offering support like training and access to wellbeing products, but leaders who make choices based on welfare of their employees. This means exploring how workloads impact wellbeing and providing a space safe for employees to raise concerns.

Culture and values

While many employers wrongly believe salary is a key driver to engagement, a company’s culture plays a tremendous role in attracting, engaging and retaining talent. Research from MIT shows a toxic culture is 10.4 times more powerful than compensation in predicting a company’s attrition rate. Leaders should look to outline clear values and expected behaviours from the top down, and showcase these repeatedly. Every small or large action taken in response to uncertainty and change will send a message to a firm’s employees as to what a company’s culture is or isn’t.

A space for everyone to shine 

Everyone, regardless of their position, in the company should have an active role in the success of a business. Providing a space for employees to communicate, whether that’s in daily meetings or with leadership or even anonymously through company surveys, helps build trust and engagement, creates an inclusive workplace where employees feel a sense of belonging and drives innovation through new collective ideas.

Rewarding a job well done

Employees are more likely to stay in a job where they feel appreciated, and their hard work is recognised. Regardless of how big or small, providing regular rewards reassures them that their contribution to the company is not going unnoticed. These rewards don’t need to be in the form of cash but can be as simple as verbal thank you. Making this a part of the workplace culture will create a positive atmosphere where people feel seen and valued.

 

Burcin Ressamoglu, CEO of Sodexo Engage, comments:

“The past few years of turbulence and crisis will have dramatically impacted how employees view work. While challenging, this change could be the perfect catalyst for improving the workplace, encouraging employers to examine what they offer, how they interact with their team and how they make decisions. Approaching the workplace with fresh eyes, flexibility and empathy will place businesses on a new path towards a happier and more engaged workforce.”

Hybrid Working doesn’t just Pose a Cyber Security Threat

Hybrid working doesn’t just pose a cyber security threat. It poses a physical security threat, too.

Here’s how to stay protected.

In 2022, hybrid working has become the norm – for SMEs and large organisations alike. Most employees prefer a mix of working between the office and their homes, and employers don’t mind as long as the work gets done.

With hybrid working now a key deciding factor for job hunters looking for their ideal role, it clearly has its benefits. However, it also comes with a few drawbacks, especially with regard to security.

The cyber security concerns of hybrid working have been covered in a wealth of detail online. We know some cyber-attackers solely target remote workers, employees may be using unsecured devices to access company data, and staff might not have updated their computer system’s firmware.

However, hybrid working poses real physical security concerns, too.

If staff members are not always in the office, they might misplace their access cards. This causes admin issues as the receptionist will have to take time away from their other tasks to constantly let people into the building and issue temporary cards.

The biggest security concern lies in the fact that unauthorised people who don’t work for the company, and even criminals, may use this to their advantage. They could pretend they work for the company and have lost their card. As a common occurrence, the receptionist might believe them and grant them access, perhaps even issuing them with a temporary card.

Once they’re allowed into the building, these criminals can be harmful to the company, staff and even sensitive data.

However, Mobile Access control specialists Digital ID have a practical, secure solution that resolves this issue.

Mobile access control allows users to enter secured areas with their smartphone, tablet or wearable device, such as a smart watch.

In the digital age, most adults carry their phones with them everywhere they go. People are much less likely to forget or misplace their phones than their access cards. Therefore, this solves a large part of the issues, lowering the likelihood of employees not carrying their credentials with them.

With mobile access, credentials are provided remotely and are sent straight to the mobile device. Therefore, as long as a person has their phone with them, they will be able to enter the building. This means a criminal would be unable to pretend they’re an employee and that they’ve lost their card at home.

And if they pretend they can’t access the building as they’ve lost their phone, a security administrator can easily ask for their details to find them on the management system. The administrator will also need the person’s details to block credentials from their misplaced phone before granting any other access permissions.

The person will be unable to provide their details, thus being unable to enter the building and cause any harm.

Mobile access clearly resolves the physical security concerns of the hybrid work world. And that’s not the only advantage it carries. Other benefits of mobile access include encrypted credentials that cannot be duplicated, improved user convenience and strengthened sustainability efforts.

Expert Shares Top 10 Tips for Marketing a Trade Business

Recent research by ElectricalDirect found that less than one in five (18%) UK tradespeople feel confident running marketing activity for their business, and that the vast majority don’t know how to effectively promote their services.

With this in mind, ElectricalDirect spoke to the PR and marketing experts at Jaywing, the Creative and Media Agency, to provide their top marketing tips for trade businesses, so that you can start to grow your customer base.

1) Create your own website

“In today’s world, the vast majority of people will turn to the internet as their first port of call when looking to hire a tradesperson. Therefore, it’s really important that you are visible online, and having your own website is the perfect starting point. Make sure it lists your credentials, your contact details and all the services you offer. Images and customer reviews are also beneficial.”

2) Be SEO savvy

“Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a highly effective marketing strategy. Make sure your website is structured in a way that’s easy to navigate, allowing anyone who visits to find what they’re looking for. Adding as much useful information as possible to each page will make sure you’re starting with a solid foundation in SEO.”

3) Be active on social media

“About 85% of Brits use social media, so having an active presence on channels like Facebook and Twitter is a great way to reach potential customers. Create pages specific to your businesses, post interesting and useful content, and shout about the great work you do. Try to also engage with community groups and keep an eye out for people requesting trade services.

“Social media is often used to look for recommendations, so share positive customer reviews and photos of jobs to establish trustworthiness.”

4) Register for local listings services

“Sites like Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps are hugely influential, so it’s important to have an account that features your up-to-date company information. Create a business profile and then add your working hours, address, service area, and contact details. If people search for trade services in your area, your business will then be more likely to appear.”

5) Collect and promote case studies

“Customers are heavily influenced by image-led content, so remember to photograph your best jobs to visually display your services. Before and after images are good for showing the impact you can have, and these can be used both on your website and social media channels to spread awareness.”

6) Actively seek reviews

“One in nine tradespeople say that they are heavily reliant on review websites for their business, and the importance of positive feedback cannot be overstated. Trust is critical in the industry, with customers wanting to know they can feel safe with tradespeople in their homes, and be confident that the job will be done well.

“Ensure you continuously ask clients to leave comments on sites such as Google My Business, to create positive associations for your company, and draw people to your services.”

7) Be visible in your local community

“If possible, you need to be visible both off and online, and that involves getting your name out in your local community. Offline marketing can take many forms, from putting up posters in supermarkets or on noticeboards, to dropping leaflets in people’s letterboxes. It’s also worth investing in a vehicle wrap, and buying a sign that you can leave outside properties where you’re working.”

8) Network with other tradespeople

“If you get asked to quote for a job that falls outside of your skillset, chances are that you’ll recommend someone you know who would be more suitable. If you connect and network with other tradespeople in your area, you increase the likelihood of people sending work your way when they can’t do it themselves.”

9) Create and share useful content online

“A great way to increase your visibility online is to create content that you know people are searching for, and want to read. Use tools such as Answer the Public to identify frequently asked questions in your area and create blog posts or guides for your site that provide answers. By establishing your site as a hub for useful content and a source of expertise, your website will start to rank better on Google and attract more customers.”

10) Consider investing in paid marketing

“To further increase your online presence, you can invest money to boost the reach of your website and the content you create. This could involve paid advertisements on social media, which can be targeted at certain demographics, or utilising Pay Per Click marketing, which helps you appear as the sponsored posts for certain Google searches.”

For more expert advice on how to effectively market your trade business, visit: https://www.electricaldirect.co.uk/blog/effectively-market-your-electrical-business  

Specialist Help Brands to Mix Old Marketing Techniques That Still Work Well

Tom Curle reveals tips on how he works in brand virilization

Marketing isn’t always easy. How do you stand out above the noisy crowd of digital ads? The older methods didn’t stop working when digital became popular. However, popularity does not equal results. Why not try some of these older tactics or combine them with your digital approach? Since Tom Curle started this mix of techniques has not stopped.

Any entrepreneur who runs their own business recognizes the pains and delights that the experience provides. Difficulties arise sequentially, but with a little persistence, everything gets back on track. That’s why it’s so important to study the area, understand the personas that will be interested in your product or service and execute the planning in the best possible way. Marketing expert Tom Curle has put together important tips to make your business go viral.

Since starting a business, Tom has been especially dedicated to making brands go viral and his name has grown in the UK. Smart and astute, he combined skills in the field with the ability to help brands go “viral” using the old marketing strategies and bringing a little more innovation. This is the recipe for its success, it is what makes so many clients seek results with the specialist in the area. See the tips:

Product Marketing: Think about the launch, image positioning, and train your team. Develop and understand the consumer profile.

Guerrilla Marketing: It is used when the company seeks to promote products or services with a less conventional approach. It usually connects with the consumer’s emotion. Your intention is to expand your reach while spending little money.

Viral Marketing: Explores the connection between people, spreading and viralizing your idea. The technique is considered cheaper compared to traditional actions. Even because the media used is the target audience itself.

The secret is to get infected. Contrary to common belief, viral content is very scientific and not a fluke. The reason it is traditionally thought to be created through paranormal intervention is because of the seemingly limitless number of factors that influence its success. Viral content must carry emotion, clarity, risk, specificity, and motive, among many other qualities. It must speak to humanity and validate an unspoken belief that most of your audience holds.

It is worth remembering that Tom Curle helped in the growth of “Pretty Little Thing”, Umar Kamani’s company, and also the brand “boohoo” and learned a lot in the time they were together, the success and numbers that the brand has today is also the result of his intense work.

One of the many companies that Tom owns is ‘The Manchester Screen ‘ – this is one of the biggest digital screens in Europe that is in high demand among many entrepreneurs to advertise their brand. The Manchester’s most iconic and unmissable location. The iconic Manchester Screen overlooks a major traffic junction targeting commuters, public transport users and visitors to Manchester City Centre, Salford Quays, and Media City, all of which will pass this huge unmissable advertising site.

The Manchester screen is almost a guarantee for a brand to go viral. It has become a trending place for a selfie or that special social media photo. Influencers and celebrities are regularly seen posing in front of this billboard.

Marcus Rashford, Molly Mae, Jesse Lingard, Steven Bartlet, Dr Alex George, Adam Thomas, Gok Wang, Aitch, Kyle Walker, Love Island Cast, business owners all posted in front of the Billboard.

According to Curle, you need to look for what you like, delve into the subject, and have a solid knowledge of the area in which you are going to undertake. Whatever industry you are in, you must spread your wings to grow.

Manchester-Screen_Public-Desire

Small Business Ideas for 2022 and Beyond

Starting a small business can be an incredibly rewarding thing to do and it allows you a lot of flexibility to work the hours you want to work and decide how things should be run. Affordability is now more important than ever for most of us, however, so you might be wondering how you can start up a small business in 2022 without breaking the bank. If you’ve always felt you have an entrepreneurial streak but you’re still weighing up what exactly your focus should be, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are a few quick ideas to get you feeling inspired.

Become a personal chef

If your culinary skills are top tier but you also enjoy the business side of things, you could take a relevant training course and set yourself up as a personal chef.

Think about what type of audience you would like to market yourself to. Families, single parents and busy people who live alone all provide opportunities for personal chefs, so perhaps think about the pros and cons of each and decide who you might be the best fit for.

As with any small business, you will benefit greatly from using a personal website and also making use of social media to market your services. Instagram is a magnet for foodies, so this would be a good place to start. Make your go-to dishes look as appetising as possible with lighting, garnish and aesthetically appealing kitchenware to draw your audience in.

Also think about how you can network with the right food vendors so that you can get the freshest and most in-demand ingredients for your customers.

Start a B&B or Airbnb

When you start up an SME, it’s important to make sure that you’re covered in case any issues arise. In this example, damage to property or even a fire could be a disastrous blow to your business so get this sorted as quickly and efficiently as possible, use an insurance broker that will pull business insurance quotes for you and also offer you free advice to save you the hassle of wrapping your head around thousands of T&Cs on your own.

Tourism in the UK has been the fastest growing industry in the UK since 2010 and is predicted to rise at an annual rate of 3.8% per year until at least 2025 (a much higher rate than that of the overall economy).

This means now is the ideal time for homeowners to start running a B&B or Airbnb, particularly if you live in an area that tends to attract tourists.

No formal qualifications are required to do this, though it’s certainly in your best interests to take a B&B training course if you do decide to go into this industry.

If you’re setting up a Bed and Breakfast, you will also want to obtain a food hygiene certificate from the Food Standards Agency. This helps you cover yourself if anything ever goes wrong, as you would need to prove that all your kitchen processes and equipment are kept to the government’s minimum standard.

Consider whether you need to employ staff or whether you can simply run the operation yourself, as would usually be the case if you let out a flat or room on Airbnb.

Airbnb has enjoyed rapid growth and is a great platform to set yourself up on if you just have one or two individual rooms to rent, or even a small flat. It offers a secured payment platform to take care of the fees to stay in your lodgings, though do check what tax regulations apply to you and familiarise yourself with this before you get started.

When you list your lodgings on Airbnb, the process itself is very straightforward, simply requiring you to submit photos and an accurate description of what your place has to offer. Every positive review you receive from a lodger bolsters your credibility and helps you secure a steady stream of business.

Start a blog

A viable side hustle for anyone who has a flair for writing and a niche to write about is blogging. Whether you blog as a supporting act for an existing business you are running or just for the sake of blogging itself, this is a great way to start building something that could help you network and turn a profit in the future.

How to Grow Your Beauty Business

Running a successful beauty business is no easy task, and once you are established it can be challenging to know how to grow. Here are just some of the ways you can grow your business:

Expand your service offering

Possibly the most obvious way to grow your beauty business is to expand your service offering. This may be easy if you are already trained in several treatments, or it may mean that you need to train in a new area of beauty. If you are already doing gel nails, why not start offering acrylics too? Or take it one step further and offer a completely different service such as waxing. Consider what treatments clients are likely to want to get done together, talk to your existing clients and see what else they would like to see you offer. This is crucial, there is no point in you offering a service that none of your clients are interested in. Giving your clients somewhere they can get several treatments in one place is only going to lead to increased client satisfaction.

Be sure to investigate the practical implications of this too; will you need additional insurance or training? How much will you need to spend to be able to offer this service? What is the anticipated return on investment once you are operational?

Once you have spoken to your clients and completed all necessary admin, invest in the equipment you need such as hair removing wax or an acrylic nail kit.

Increase your client base

Whether you plan on expanding your service offerings or not, increasing your number of clients is a great way to grow your business. There are many ways to do this; the easiest being encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations. Friend referral discounts are an effective way to encourage this.

Utilising the power of social media is also important here, if you aren’t already then make sure to set up a business page and market yourself to new clients. A mixture of informative posts, such as price lists and opening times, as well as inspirational posts, such as nail art, is a good way to attract new customers.

Remember that loyalty deserves to be rewarded so make sure to prioritise your long-term clients to not risk losing them during your period of growth.

Retail shelf

If you don’t have the capacity to expand your offering, and you don’t have the time to see more clients then a retail shelf could be the perfect option. This doesn’t need to be a physical shelf; you can still offer retail as a mobile beautician. Take some time to consider what products would compliment the services you offer, for example, if you are a nail tech then you could start selling cuticle oil. It is important that your clients can see that you have really considered what products will benefit them and that you aren’t just selling things for the sake of this. As with everything else, welcome client feedback here to get the most out of this opportunity.

SME News Announces the Winners of the 2022 UK Enterprise Awards

UNITED KINGDOM, 2022 – SME News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2022 UK Enterprise Awards.

After the uncertainty of the last two years or so, relative quiet has been greeted by a rush of announcements, of achievements being announced left, right and centre. Growth, new products, new services, new markets, recruitment – it’s all happening for SMEs across the UK.

Now in its sixth year, the SME UK Enterprise Awards continues to recognise SMEs of all sizes who are endeavouring to bettering business in their industries. Whether it’s by nourishing rich internal cultures to promote employee satisfaction, by offering next-level customer service, or through an enduring dedication to innovative products – British SMEs are truly the lifeblood of the country’s economy and business landscape.

Award Coordinator Holly Blackwood took a moment to discuss the success of this year’s programme: “One of the joys of this programme is realising the sheer talent and skill that permeates every inch of the British business sphere, across all industries and fields. So here’s a massive congratulations and I hope you all have a wonderful – and productive- rest of the year ahead.”

SME News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the SME News website (http://sme-news.co.uk) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About SME News

SME News draws on our UK wide network of industry insiders to provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape.

Alongside our quarterly publication we also offer an easy to use website, newsletter and a series of awards programmes, making SME News much more than just a magazine, but instead a vital resource.

Bought to you by AI Global Media, the international provider of corporate news and information, this unique magazine is the perfect resource for the CEOs, leaders and decision makers in the UK based SMEs looking to keep their finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the competition.

How to Start a Microbrewery

Over the recent years, microbreweries have been cropping up all over the UK from the likes of Brewdog, Tyneside Brewery and Wychcraft to list a few.

Craft beer – comprising everything from tart ‘sours’ to ‘coffee porters’ – is now estimated to make up 6.5% of all beer sales in the UK. There are over 2,000 UK microbreweries now in production, with more popping up weekly.  But when it comes to creating quality over quantity, there’s no mistaking that running a microbrewery can be an incredibly energy-intensive process.

One large challenge faced by entrepreneurs looking to create an artisan beer is what energy supply is best to use (particularly if they’re off the mains gas grid), as well as how to keep costs to a minimum, and what bespoke flavor will help the beer bubble up in the collective consciousness. In this piece, Flogas – a UK supplier of LPG gas bottles, cylinders and tanks -offer some useful advice on starting your own microbrewery.

Your equipment will be key!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a dedicated and passionate connoisseur of the craft game; if you don’t make a profit, your might as well pour that passion down the drain. There is no brewery without viable business, after all. Microbreweries are notoriously difficult to get off the ground financially, so by doing things right early on, you can give a boost to your company’s profit margins in the often difficult teething stages.

Equipment is king. As you’re a small start up, durability is really important; constant breakdowns in your process will not only be expensive in terms of buying replacements, but also affect your tight profit margins at a time when cash flow walks a fine tightrope and peril stalks close behind. One of the main components in the brewing process is the mash system, which is commonly made up of the following:

  • Malt mill – Crushes the grain in preparation for brewing
  • Wort Pump – Re-circulates the mash for a higher efficiency, enhancing the clarity and quality of the brew
  • Plate Heat Exchanger/Wort Chiller – Quickly cools the hot wort ready for fermentation
  • Mash tank – Steeps barley into hot water and converts grain starches into fermentable sugars
  • Lauter tun – Separates the wort (or liquid) from the solids of the mash (much like a sieve)
  • Steam generator – Heats the kettle, which is then brought to a controlled temperature before the hops are added

Make sure you know this system inside out, so you can quickly get everything functioning at full capacity. Foolproof understanding of your equipment comes before creating of a great product.

Other necessities

Aside from this mashing stage, you’ll also need a fermentation system (where yeast is added and sugar turns into alcohol), a cooling system (to prevent bacteria growth and where beer can be stored ready for sale), a filtering system (to get rid of sediment for a higher-quality product) and, of course, sterilisation equipment (to ensure that bacteria doesn’t spoil your next batch of beer). There really is nothing more heartbreaking than brewing a batch of beer with love and commitment, only to find out that in the quality control stage that it’s tainted or ruined.

And what about … ingredients?

Having the right equipment is important, but there’s an even more decisive factor at play here. The ingredients you choose will dramatically impact the taste and consistency of your beer, and as such are the key consideration in the infant stages of your brewery.  As a newcomer to this game, in an every more crowded market, so much is about a distinctive flavour profile which raises your head above the parapet. With so many flavour combinations available, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating something truly stand out. But no matter how distinctive the taste, you’ll find all craft beer is made up of the following key components:  

  • Water – Water makes up around 90 percent of any beer. The pH and mineral content of your chosen water, as well as if it’s hard or soft, can affect the end result. so monitor this carefully. Simply chucking basic tap water into your master recipe won’t get the results you’re after, that’s for sure.
  • Barley – The percentage of your beer is decided largely by barley. It can also dramatically affect the body, taste and aroma of your finished product.
  • Hops – If you’ve ever queried where your favourite beer gets its flavor from, there’s a big chance it’s the hops. There are around 170 variations, meaning there’s plenty of choice when it comes to playing with flavour.
  • Yeast – It may be invisible, but it’s a key ingredient in any good beer nonetheless. Yeast has been used in beer brewing for centuries, and deserves respect. Essentially a fungus, yeast eats the sugars created in the malting process. By allowing it to ferment and feed off the sugars, alcohol is created as a by product.

Don’t neglect your energy

It’s not an easy task to launch your own microbrewery. Along with all the complications of the brewing process, the last thing you’ll want to worry about is extortionate energy prices, or an unreliable supply. If you’re connected to the grid and require a commercial gas deal, or you’re in a rural area and need a dependable supply, it’s important to make a wise choice. LPG is a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient fuel and can provide major energy cost savings. With the lowest CO2 emissions of any fossil fuel, it’ll also mean a lower carbon footprint for your microbrewery.

Improving Business Sustainability

Considering concerns regarding the state of our planet, world leader discussions at the COP26 summit outlined revolutionary steps for ways in which industries and businesses will have to operate to curb the damage that has already been done. As a result, businesses are taking on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies in pursuit of achieving baseline sustainability standards.

Such changes can be made by reviewing operational processes within a business and refining methods that can continue to sustain a company economically
whilst reducing its carbon footprint.

Tools and supplies

Giving attention to the everyday tools that we use within our business is one of the first, and largest steps to take. This can range from the number of disposable supplies utilised, such as paper, pens, and packaging, and non-disposable goods, such as office furniture, manual tools, and storage facilities.

Being conscious about the number of disposable supplies your business uses to operate can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. It is also worth considering the processes behind the non-disposable goods that are regularly used within your company. Many mass-produced products often include manufacturing processes that pollute the environment, so searching for sustainably produced tools and furniture for your workers may be the difference your business needs to offset its carbon footprint.

E-Waste Management

As we further embrace technological advancements, there is a continuous proliferation of digitally centred businesses. Although such processes may seem to produce less waste from tangible products containing packaging and carbon-emitting manufacturing processes, this doesn’t necessarily account for discarded electronic products such as computers and laptops, otherwise referred to as E-waste. In some cases, E-waste can often be of greater environmental threat as they contain toxic chemicals such as mercury and cadmium which can have detrimental effects on air quality, soil, and, subsequently, the ecosystem.

As such, businesses must think carefully about their E-waste management. Putting measures into practice whereby electronics are recycled or repurposed or partnering with organisations such as Stone Group which specialise in refurbishment and correct disposal of electronic goods.

Carbon Credits

Carbon credits are purchased by businesses to compensate for any carbon emissions that cannot be emitted. The process works by investing in one
carbon credit per tonne of C02
which the intention of offsetting any carbon emitted via sustainable land use. Examples of carbon credit usage include the re-building
of ecosystems, planting of woodland, and technology that can help with the omission of carbon emissions altogether.

Offsetting your unavoidable emissions with carbon credits is a fantastic way of making your business processes more sustainable whilst also helping the environment.

How sustainability can help your business

It is also important to realise that introducing greener practices can enhance the reputation and authority of your business. Showing transparency in your processes can help to demonstrate credibility as a company whilst standing out as a forward-thinking, and trustworthy business.

Sustainable practices are becoming more seemingly sort after and considered a desirable trait in many industries. Stakeholders will view greener practices as a positive association and build confidence in their investment whilst also adding value to your products and services.

Primarily, acting on the planet’s urgent need for environmental change is a strategy that can be capitalised on to increase brand equity whilst
appealing to all generations of audiences.

 

5 Key Considerations When Choosing Accounting Software

Completing accounting tasks can be complex and time-consuming, especially when using tools like spreadsheets. That’s why most businesses now take advantage of useful tools, such as online invoicing and accounting software.

Companies rely on online invoicing software to generate bills for services or products they have provided to clients. They also depend on it to monitor their cash inflow, offer varying payment methods to clients, and process payments efficiently.

Furthermore, they use accounting software to improve efficiency, enhance security, and access data anywhere and anytime. For instance, accounting software simplifies bookkeeping. All you have to do is input your business’ transactions, and the software computes the total amount.

Finding the right accounting software can be tricky, though. Continue reading to learn about the key considerations when choosing accounting software.

1.Scalability

Today, you might be running a small business. So, it will be practical to purchase any accounting software you find on the market. However, if you expect your company to grow and expand in the future, you should consider scalable accounting software.

Scalable accounting software is an automation tool that can grow with your business. In simple terms, it’ll serve you today when dealing with a few invoices and in the future, when the volume of transactions increases.  

One of the benefits of choosing scalable accounting software is to save money. Note that installing an unscalable tool might cause you to replace it in the future when your business expands.

To make sure that the software is scalable, figure out what functions or upgrades you might need to manage the expansion of your business. Some functions that you’ll find helpful when your business grows are accounts payable and receivable, general ledger, payroll management, and inventory. Check the costs of these functions or upgrades as well.

2.Ease Of Use

You’ll come across a variety of accounting software on the market. However, some of them may be difficult to use. Complex accounting software can do more harm than good. For instance, it can lead to low productivity. You might have to spend a lot of time training your workers on how to use the software, or you might have to hire a professional for training, which will only add more expenses.

Hence, you should opt for one that’s simple to use. A simple accounting software features a user-friendly user interface. Search for one that also comes with clear instructions on how to enter data.

Checking out online reviews will help you determine whether an accounting software is easy to use. You can try testing out some programs too, so you have a clear idea of how they work and what features they offer.

3.Compatibility  

A scalable accounting software might not offer much value if it isn’t compatible with existing solutions, such as shipping systems, payroll applications, and sales platforms.

In addition, the accounting software should be compatible with your bank’s software. It must integrate with your bank, so you can easily access bank transactions and complete bank reconciliations. A lot of time is saved when bank reconciliations are automated.

4.Security

Cyberattacks are major threats to the growth of any business. Since your accounting software will carry a lot of business and customer data, you need to ensure that it offers strong security features that will block unauthorised access or protect sensitive information from hackers.

Security features to look for include automatic updates, auto clean, password protection, and encryption.

5.Price

A variety of accounting software are priced differently. There are a lot of companies that provide a desktop-based solution with a one-time fee. Other companies sell software as a service (SaaS) solutions with a monthly fee.

Monthly plans may start at USD$10 and could reach USD$100 or more, depending on the number of users and features. If you choose to pay the annual fee, you’re likely to get a good discount.

Some software are expensive while others are accessible. It may seem wise to buy the cheapest software, but the price shouldn’t be the only determining factor. You have to take the quality and features into consideration as well. For example, software with advanced features, such as automatic payment reminders, sales tracking, project tracking, reports and analysis, and inventory management, cost more. If you need these features, expensive software will be worth every penny.

Takeaway

Looking for the right accounting software is easy when you know what you need and what factors to consider. It will also help to make a list of features or functions that will be useful for your business.

High Employee Turnover Damaging Company Culture

New research into the hidden costs of onboarding talent has revealed that company culture has suffered in 63% of UK businesses as a result of high employee turnover.

In a survey of 500 UK-based business leaders, emerging talent and reskill provider Wiley Edge found that 23% have received complaints from remaining team members about a change in company culture, and another 23% have noticed the company culture drift further from the stated mission and values due to high employee turnover.

The research also found that 22% of organisations have had issues arise between team members due to the development of a toxic culture, 21% have noticed a decrease in employee engagement, and 22% have had long-standing employees leave as a direct result of the change in culture.

In this way, poor retention rates can become a vicious cycle in which the culture of a team or whole organisation becomes destabilised, which results in even more employees choosing to leave, further increasing recruitment and onboarding costs.

Millennial and Gen Z job hopping is well documented, with 16% of organisations surveyed reporting that a staggering 51-100% of their graduate employees typically leave the business within 24 months. A further 38% find that between 21% and 50% leave within two years. Only 28% of businesses said that 10% or less leave within that time period.

However, this issue is not necessarily insurmountable. When asked in a separate Wiley Edge survey what would encourage them to stay at a job for longer, 59% of 1,000 21–28-year-olds in full-time employment said good benefits, 54% said a supportive manager/colleagues, 46% said a socially active team, and 44% said a culture that matches the stated mission and values.

When asked for their main reasons for leaving a job, the most popular responses were a toxic company culture (40%), a lack of opportunities for progression (40%), and a lack of support from management (36%).

Tom Seymour, Senior Director, HR at Wiley Edge, said: “Poor retention rates are very costly for businesses, driving up recruitment and training expenses. However, often overlooked is the impact on company culture, which can have its own more long-term implications, both financial and otherwise.

“When it comes to younger employees, businesses need to make sure they’re really listening to them and meeting their needs in order to prevent high levels of turnover. By creating a positive, welcoming environment in which employees from all backgrounds can flourish and progress in their careers, businesses should not only find that their retention rates improve, but also that employee engagement increases, productivity improves, and recruitment and onboarding costs are minimised.”

To read the report, please visit:  https://www.wiley.com/edge/cost-of-onboarding-graduate-talent-uk-report/

SME News Announces the Winners of the 2022 Midlands Enterprise Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – SME News Magazine has announced the winners of the 2022 Midlands Enterprise Awards.

Now running for five consecutive years, the Midlands Enterprise programme is created to acknowledge and award those SMEs of all different sizes covering a range of businesses and industries that are based within the Midlands. The region is often described as the beating heart of the British industry and is a strong force in opening new avenues and business opportunities to most SMEs. The aim of the programme like every year is to recognise the best SME businesses and give them the exposure that they rightly deserve.

Awards Coordinator Holly Blackwood commented on the success of this year’s programme: “It has been a delight and an honour to organise this year’s edition of the Midlands Enterprise Awards. As always we have endeavoured to highlight those that businesses and individuals who are redefining their respective industries in the region, and acting as pacesetters. I offer my sincere congratulations to all of those who have been listed among the winners and hope you all have a fantastic rest of the year ahead.”

SME News prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the SME News website (https://www.sme-news.co.uk/awards/midlands-enterprise-awards/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About SME News

SME News draws on our UK wide network of industry insiders to provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape.

Alongside our quarterly publication we also offer an easy-to-use website, newsletter and a series of awards programmes, making SME News much more than just a magazine, but instead a vital resource.

Bought to you by AI Global Media, the international provider of corporate news and information, this unique magazine is the perfect resource for the CEOs, leaders and decision makers in the UK based SMEs looking to keep their finger on the pulse and stay ahead of the competition.

Managing A Care Home: Top Tips For New Managers

Although leading and managing a care home can be challenging and demanding at times, it is also rewarding. The role of a care home manager involves everything from the day-to-day running of a home to introducing strategies, systems, and procedures, that benefit residents and allow care staff to provide the best possible service. As a result, care home managers have a key role in determining whether standards of practice are being maintained. If you want to prepare for your first management role, you might be wondering what it takes to excel in this job. Within this article, we will provide you with our top tips to manage a care home successfully.

Develop Expertise

Firstly, to become successful in this craft, it’s crucial to gain plenty of experience by working in junior roles in a care home. This will ensure that you understand what is required in various roles and develop key skills. Working your way up will allow you to experience the everyday challenges of working on the floor or as a care assistant. As a result, you will also empathise much better with staff as a new care home manager. Making staff members feel valued and supported in their roles is a crucial part of being a good manager.

Create A Business Plan

Another important factor in achieving success in care home management is developing a solid business plan from the outset. Managing a care home isn’t easy, so you may want to check out the NHC asset management portal, which will help you put an end to unexpected issues. This will ensure the smooth day-to-day running of your care home, providing you with full insights into care equipment. You will also get easy access to history and state of maintenance and guidance on future budget needs. These features are designed to eliminate guesswork, so that confusion is never part of your routine.

Know Your Limits

It’s important to develop strong organisational and project management skills, as this is key to effective work and can help you avoid unnecessary stress. You should also learn how to manage your time effectively and delegate tasks to others. As a result, instead of overwhelming one person, you can help to share the workload and increase productivity. Also, knowing your limits and spreading responsibility around the team ensures that projects can be completed efficiently. Being a reflective learner who isn’t afraid to ask for help is another crucial factor, as you can learn from both good outcomes and mistakes.

Prioritise Residents

In general, the most successful care homes are the ones that prioritise the needs of their residents. Therefore, you should ensure that your care home is person-centred, by focusing on how you can make residents feel more comfortable and supported. If you want residents to thrive, you will also need to ensure that they can have full and independent lives within a care setting. For example, it might be helpful to give them an active voice in decision-making by allowing them to choose which social activities they wish to participate in. You can ask for feedback by providing questionnaires and a visitors’ book for suggestions.

Become A Strong Leader

As a care home manager, you will be responsible for the performance of the care team, which means you will need to unite all staff to improve residents’ everyday lives. Consequently, it’s vital to lead by example and have a strong presence in the home. Always recognise your team’s achievements and use your past experience to show them that you understand how they feel and you know how difficult their roles can be. In addition, remember that little things matter, so even small moments of gratitude or politeness can make employees feel appreciated.

Think Strategically

Another key requirement for a care home manager is to be able to think strategically so that you can find effective ways to develop your organisation. As a new care home manager, you might have plenty of fresh ideas when it comes to improving the care in your home. However, it’s crucial that these processes get implemented properly. This means that you should fully research how your strategies may impact your care home. Also, you should avoid changing too much at once so that you can ensure that each change you make to the care home is beneficial.

Provide Quality Staff Training

You can be the most caring and resident-focused care home manager in the world, but there is no way you can do it alone. To ensure success, you need a dedicated workforce, who is motivated and shares your values. Therefore, you should invest in staff development by offering great training opportunities and workshops. Support them if they want to study for new qualifications and be sure to provide them with progression routes. As a result, they will be much more likely to invest in you and your organisation, which will create an exceptional team of people, who share high standards.

Ensure Transparency

Typically, in a care setting, health and personal circumstances, as well as residents’ needs, are constantly changing. Consequently, it’s essential to ensure transparency by sharing these changes at the earliest opportunity with all staff members and everyone that is involved in the current situation. If a resident has to repeat what they have already stated, this may be particularly frustrating. Similarly, if a staff member isn’t aware that a resident is going through an emotional time, this can cause distress. You will need to minimise such occurrences to ensure that the right care is always in place.

Offer Activities

Remember to consult both staff members and residents to find out what activities they would like to see on offer. Organising events where someone might feel left out or may be unable to participate can have a negative impact on their physical and mental health. Moreover, offering activities that people don’t enjoy will not provide any fulfilment, which can lead to disappointment. Thus, it’s best to run a regular programme of events and activities but also be open to suggestions and feedback. As for dining, consider offering flexible meal times and avoid using the same menu too often.

Consider Health And Safety

Considering the health and safety of residents and employees involves identifying potential risks and the ways they are managed. There are many health and safety challenges that you might experience within a care home setting. This means that you should take steps to manage health and safety risks by maintaining good hygiene practices, encouraging the use of walking aids, and performing regular risk assessments. Ensure that surfaces are free of clutter and keep all areas tidy and disinfected. Thus, whoever walks through your door will be met with a professional and trusting care environment.

Be Personable

Getting involved with your care community will help you learn as much as possible. Make sure you get to know the residents, greet them by name, and have conversations with them. Being more approachable and personable will not only benefit residents but also improve morale across the entire organisation. Consequently, staff members will value your involvement and dedication, and this will make them feel more comfortable coming to you with concerns or questions. They will also feel more accepting of any changes that you want to make in the future.

Why Now Is The Best Time For SME’s To Invest In Their Carbon Neutral Future

Carbon marketplace urges businesses to consider carbon credits to offset carbon emissions now or to bank them while market prices are low

In a challenging time for business, carbon marketplace experts JustCarbon urge SMEs to make a savvy business decision and consider carbon offsetting now while prices are considered low, and to appeal to consumers that are looking for eco-conscious businesses leading the way.

John Auckland, the co-founder of JustCarbon, a platform revolutionising the way in which carbon offsetting projects are funded by creating a simple marketplace for trading in high-quality carbon removal assets, outlines why businesses should not procrastinate and act now.

“In talking to business owners, we have found that the perception can be that big business contributes more to emissions,” John Auckland says, “however the UK’s 6 million small businesses employ 60% of the UK workforce and research has shown that between 43%-53% of UK business emissions come from businesses with fewer than 249 employees, which is a massive 36% of total UK emissions” (1).

In a survey of businesses from the SME climate hub two-thirds of small business owners were worried they don’t have the right skills and knowledge to tackle the climate crisis (2).

But with the current rapid rise in business expenses and increasing challenges to SMEs from multiple factors including the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and inflation they have found that some businesses are wondering why they should make it a priority.

One of the most vital reasons is that the price of offsetting your unavoidable emissions with carbon credits is only going to go up.  “Currently prices are approx. $25 dollars to offset a tonne of carbon with our token, the JCR, but it is predicted by the BNEF to rise in future to as much as $120 (3).  It would be wise to act now and buy to offset your current and future emissions while the price is lower, and if you end up buying more than you need these can be sold back,” John says. For an example of how affordable offsetting is at present, a coffee roaster business (roasting 15 tonnes a year) would need to offset 31 tonnes per year (1) and at current prices this would be £616 a year.

Secondly, it is important to maintain competitive advantage and keep up with the paradigm shift towards increasingly eco-conscious consumers.  John says,  “In future it will become the norm for customers to look for businesses leading the way in this field and avoid those with bad practices(4).  Businesses can advertise and build this into their business model.  More businesses are choosing to give the option to add carbon offsetting as part of their product or services and customers have been shown to be keen to take this up when given the option.”

JustCarbon are involved in offsetting for innovative emerging digital business which is going to become more and more relevant as these markets expand.  They have recently helped to mitigate the carbon impact of low NFT artwork by New Zealand All Black Sir John Kirwan called ‘The Try’ through their partnership with NFT Design Works (5).

Finally, it is an advantage to get ahead of regulations which are in the pipeline. Since 2019, quoted companies must report on their global energy use and large businesses must disclose their UK annual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (6).  “For now, it is voluntary for small businesses but in the move towards net zero it is likely regulations will be extended in future.  However, even at present large corporations are increasingly looking down their supply line for this information and so it will be vital for any business trading with larger companies in the future.  Banks are also beginning to look across their lending portfolios because of carbon regulations and accounting,” John says.

“We are aiming to offer a clear solution to SMEs to buy carbon credits to offset their carbon emissions.  We are leading the market in a number of ways – firstly by being accessible and removing the middlemen and friction from the process, allowing companies and individuals a simple way to offset their carbon. Next by being a byword for quality and trust, by ensuring the quality of every project or carbon credit transferred to our platform. Finally, and vitally, the current market is not set up to help the project developers – JustCarbon wants to contribute to high-quality carbon removal projects by bringing greater funding and investment.”

JustCarbon outline the step-by-step process of how to go about this practically:

  1. Use a carbon calculator to calculate your emissions 

There are a number of excellent calculators online – see the ones on the Carbon Trust or through JustCarbon resources which will guide you through this.  Calculate your scope 1 (fuel consumption) and scope 2 emissions (energy consumption – electricity and gas).  These two are the priority – scope 3 emission calculations are beyond the scope of this guide but are related to your supply chain and if you decide to calculate this you may need assistance from another company as it can be more complicated than the simple calculators above (see here for more).

  1. Find activities to reduce emissions

By starting the process of measuring your emissions it can prompt you to start changing and can give insight into the areas where you can start to make an impact and ultimately save money. The UK Business climate hub has some great advice (see here)

  1. Buy carbon credits to offset

With JustCarbon developers of high-quality carbon removal projects can list their assets (tonnes of carbon removed) on the JustCarbon platform. These assets are represented by our JustCarbon Removal token ─ the JCR ─ which holders can ‘retire’ or ‘burn’ to offset their unavoidable carbon emissions. Essentially, by buying either a carbon credit or JCR, a business is providing funding to a carbon reduction or removal project. The JustCarbon website goes through this process with you.  So, if a business could not help but emit seven tonnes of carbon, for example,  they could choose to retire/burn seven carbon credits/JCRs in order to become “carbon neutral” or more than seven to become “carbon negative”.

Listen to the FSB Podcast from the 18th May to find out more.

To find out more about all these topics and JustCarbon visit: https://justcarbon.gitbook.io/docs/english/introducing-justcarbon

Founded in 2004, AGT Bus- & Eventlogistik GmbH – as part of the group of companies “Hamburg-CityTours” – is one of the nationwide leading service providers in passenger transportation management and implements orders both in Germany and throughout Europe with the highest customer satisfaction. As a descendant of “Rainbow Tours” it is the experience of many years, which constitutes the unique service of the enterprise. AGT employs around 90 qualified employees at its Hamburg headquarters, which is why the company has access to extensive know-how and can always offer optimal industry and process-specific solutions. AGT’s service portfolio includes services for both business customers (Business Area) and private customers (Customer Area).

How Businesses can Accelerate Productivity

Low levels of productivity can hold a business back from realising its true potential.

If employees start slacking or they’re not able to fulfil their tasks within the working day, the overall performance of a company might start to dip, too. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the best tactics to help any business optimise productivity when it matters most.

Minimise time-wasting

Whether your employees work from home or from an office, there’s always something to steal attention from the task at hand. When these little things add up, valuable hours can be lost, so it’s crucial to get a grasp on these as soon as possible. Try to keep an eye on:

Meetings, making sure they’re only as long as necessary and don’t overrun

Emails, especially if a quick direct message might suffice instead

Personal conversations, particularly if deadlines are looming

Disorganisation, including untidy desk spaces

Social media, by implementing a company policy

Refine internal processes

It’s easy to overcomplicate daily processes that could be timesavers. Instead, try to focus on simple yet structured plans with clear outcomes and steps, supporting your employees to stay concentrated and on-task. This also applies to your online systems, programmes, and services.

If you’re not developing inhouse, or trying to create a new electronic product for example, you could outsource your prototyping to make sure that your employees benefit from efficient IT systems that make a genuine difference to the workload and also save operating/overhead costs at the same time. This is a standard procedure for many small or new businesses with small budgets.

Consider productivity apps

Online apps, incentives or projects could be an effective solution to solving productivity stalemate in your company. While mobile phones can be an intense distraction in the workplace, the best productivity applications can seriously boost the workplace when they’re used in the right way. A few examples include Slack, Dropbox, and Evernote.

Understand procrastination

Even though it’s estimated that 15-25% of all people regularly procrastinate, it’s still entirely misunderstood. The habit comes from the avoidance of difficult emotions, which is often why workers who frequently procrastinate don’t r