Tuesday, May 31, 2016

20 Year Reflections | Flo Clucas

2016 is a big year for The Women’s Organisation – it marks our 20th birthday and we have plenty of interesting and exciting things lined up throughout the year to celebrate this! And some fantastic interviews will be part of this! To mark our 20th birthday, throughout 2016 we will be interviewing some incredible women and sharing their stories with you. These women may have been long-time supporters of The Women’s Organisations, women who accessed our support during our very early years, women who have been instrumental in the development of the organisation and gender equality as a whole, or simply women who we think are frankly marvellous, and want to know more about!

We hope that you enjoy these interviews throughout 2016 and can celebrate with us the incredible lives and journeys of the women that we interview. This series of interviews will be called ’20 Year Reflections’ and we always want to hear your thoughts and views! Join in the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #WOWeAre20

This latest interview is with Flo Clucas, a long-time supporter of The Women’s Organisation, previously a Councillor in Liverpool and an individual who was crucial in the development of the Women’s International Centre for Economic Development.

Flo Clucas is a the definition of a Very Important Person here at The Women’s Organisation HQ, and what better way to acknowledge and honour her than interview Flo for our 20 Years Reflection Series. We had the chance to speak to Flo about her work with The Women’s Organisation, the journey that we have been on over the last twenty years and what Flo’s hopes are for the future…

Flo was previously one of Liverpool’s most prominent Liberal Democratic Councillors until her retirement in 2012 when she moved to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Although she was there to take a break from politics she then became a Councillor in her town’s Swindon Village ward taking 66% of the vote!

In 2001, Flo proposed The Women’s Organisation, which was then known as Train 2000, for a Eurocities Award which we won, then leading on from this Flo took the opportunity to work more closely with the organisation; ‘I was asked if I would help to set up, and get backing for something like an international centre for women’s economic development, and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.’

‘The first thing I did was put down a resolution to Council to say that we should back it and I managed to get that through, then I was asked if I would be the Champion of it, so I was able to work closely with Helen and Maggie. I was working on the European funding for Merseyside and in some measure for the North West, so as a result of this we were able to argue for the money and it became available to establish the building (54 St James Street).

54 St James Street is our Women’s International Centre for Economic Development and is at the heart of our support for women in business. This £5.3m flagship initiative helps us to measurably improve the rates and performances of women’s economic participation and female entrepreneurship.
It has helped us to continue the work that The Women’s Organisation has been doing for the last twenty years and means that as of 2016 we have provided intensive enterprise support to over 15,000 women and helped to establish more than 3,000 new businesses.  And 54 St James Street which was opened in 2011, since April 2012, has enjoyed continuous 100% occupation.

Flo with Patricia Greene at our International Panel of Experts event (2009)

In 1996 it was Maggie O’Carroll that noticed the lack of opportunities for women’s development in Merseyside and Train 2000 was born. Flo remembers that during that time, the prospects were entirely different for women in the area; ‘I think that part of the issue is that when you talk about women in business, people don’t think of women owning businesses, they think of women working in businesses, they think of women being a part-time workers, which was generally the situation on Merseyside. From that perspective there has been a huge change. Back at that stage there were lots of women not terribly highly skilled or working in the education, health and social wellbeing industries.

The idea of women as entrepreneurs was just not current, it didn’t feature. Because of Train 2000 we were able to put a number of things in place which were extremely useful. The change began that women were rather than just being employees, they were employers.’

Following on from the development of WICED, in March 2010, Flo was inaugurated at the first President of the centre, a role which she carried out for several years. ‘For me, this role was about being an Ambassador for the organisation, I felt able and confident to do that and to support the organisation wherever I could. I never considered myself a professional in the field, but I am someone who can carry the message and I think that’s useful.’

It is clear from talking to Flo that one of the greatest joys through her work with The Women’s Organisation has been the relationship that she has built with our CEO; Maggie O’Carroll and our CFOO; Helen Millne. Flo told us; ‘These are two of the greatest women go-getters I have ever met. Because they have an aim in mind, they have settled how they want to do that and how they are going to achieve it. They’ve come from being a tiny organisation to where they are now, it’s unbelievably good.’

So, what does Flo think is the future for women’s economic development and where do developments now need to be made? Speaking to Flo for this interview it was so incredibly clear to see how much her work has impacted, influenced and supported us over the last twenty or so years and how through her work and the work of our policy makers and academics these aims can become a reality…

  • ‘I believe that we now need to say to banks and financial organisations that they should release their statistics about the percentage of women owned businesses that they have lent money to or helped to start up. The United States implemented it back in 1986 – The 50/50 Act – and it had the effect of changing the lending ratio so that more women were given that opportunity. No bank wanted to be seen as misogynistic.
  • Secondly we need to look at the stability and affordability of childcare. Because if you want to start a business and that business begins to grow, and you have a young family then that become extremely difficult to maintain. 
  • ‘The third thing that I want to see is for organisations like The Women’s Organisation to grow and expand across the whole of the country and across Europe. For these to spread across the country in urban centres would be the aim. They would have the effect of stimulating economies wherever they were set up and enable and empower women.’

So as The Women’s Organisation continues to grow and progress over our next twenty years, it’s working towards aims like Flo’s that we wish for our region, the UK and even wider. The Women’s Organisation would like to thank Flo for her incredible support and influence over the past twenty years and hope her work continues to impact the lives of the women who need it in the future…

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Women’s Organisation Back FSB Report on Women in Enterprise

Local Women’s Enterprise support agency The Women’s Organisation has welcomed the FSB report ‘Women in Enterprise: The Untapped Potential’ calling it “a welcome confirmation of what we have been campaigning for”.

Launched recently the report offers key recommendations to boost women’s entrepreneurship across the UK, bringing an evidence based approach to the case for gendered focus in enterprise. 

FSB spoke to over 1900 women business owners in the UK. It found key challenges included balancing work and family life (40%), achieving credibility for the business (37%) and a lack of confidence (22%). All of these are limiting women’s ability to start, run and grow their businesses.

Based on the findings the key recommendations from the report include:
·       Developing a Framework for Women’s Enterprise for the UK
·       Improving Access to Finance
·       Raising Awareness of Support
·       Improving Diversity in Procurement Practices
·       Increasing the visibility of role models for women business owners
·       Equalising maternity pay

CEO of The Women’s Organisation Maggie O’Carroll welcomed the findings, showing whole hearted support for the FSB’s recommendations saying; “Research and reports of this nature are essential for tackling the issues facing women in enterprise.  This is not just a women’s issue, it is an economic issue.  At present women are a vastly under represented group when it comes to enterprise, and therefore are an untapped resource for supporting the UK economy as a whole. These recommendations fit firmly with our aims as an organisation as we continue to see these common themes raised by the women we work with every day. Not recognising that women need a tailored approach to enterprise is a massive mistake we cannot afford to make.”

Helen Walbey, FSB Diversity Policy Chair, said: “Women-led smaller businesses already contribute over £75 billion to the UK economy. But less than one in five (18%) of businesses are majority run by women. If women were to set up businesses and grow them at the same rate as men, we would see a huge boost to growth and prosperity in this country. In fact, the Government estimates it could add £600 billion to the economy.  Everyone should have the same chance to succeed in business. Understanding the importance of diversity and getting more women into business is critical for a dynamic and vibrant small business sector. That’s why we need to work out what the barriers are for women and break them down one by one.”

Maggie O’Carroll is urging city leaders to sit up and take note if they want the Liverpool City Region to lead the way in enterprise support. 

Get Your Pitch, Perfect With The Women’s Organisation Business Club

Ever been to a networking event and introduced yourself to someone, only to be asked what it is exactly that you do?  Then struggled to come up with that perfect, concise answer that completely sums up you, your business and what you are looking to gain from networking. 

Some people call it the elevator pitch, some call it just your business pitch, but whatever you call it, it’s vitally important to have one when you’re networking.

From some great feedback that we’ve had from our Business Club members, we are delighted to be launching June’s business club networking event – a Pitch Perfect Open Mic Night! On Wednesday 22nd June (6-8:30pm) we will be hosting this event at 54 St James Street and would like to invite you to come along and get pitch perfect.

Your networking style and approach can help you to build great connections and relationships and win business. Join The Women’s Organisation Business Club to discuss effective networking techniques including hints and tips on how to perfect your 60 second pitch from  Anne Marie Swift of the Women in Business Network.

For those who are brave enough we will be handing over the microphone so you can pitch your business to everyone, and of course there will be time for the usual business networking!
Michelle Billington pitching at Meet the Media
Joining us will be our event sponsors; Cyberfrog Design; a creative website design agency in Liverpool, Merseyside, working for clients throughout the United Kingdom. Co-Founder, Sue Flannery will be sharing her journey to success after she left her education job six years ago to jump into the world of self-employment and digital know-how with her husband and now Co-Founder of Cyberfrog Design.

Sue told us; ‘I’ve had a few careers, working in kitchens, running pubs and teaching. I realised that I couldn’t remain in teaching for the next 25 years without being very miserable and I knew that the situation wouldn’t change without me making the decision to change it. Cyberfrog was born out a real desire to do something different and be in control of my own destiny. I taught myself everything I could about the digital industry while still teaching. My husband was freelancing as a web designer and we took the plunge and set up the company. It’s been a massive learning curve but we’re still here nearly 6 years later and we’re now a team of 6 and still growing. Most of us a huge skill set that we’re not even aware of; it’s transferable and applicable in lots of situations. Be brave and believe! ‘

We are really looking forward to hearing more from Sue at the event, as well as looking into effective networking and creating that perfect pitch!

A big thank you to our event sponsors Cyberfrog Design and Business Club sponsors Mitchell Charlesworth 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stand Out Liverpool Women To Join CEO Maggie O’Carroll For Event Next Week!

Something exciting is happening at The Women’s Organisation next week! On Thursday 2nd June (9:15-11:30am) we will be hosting three stand out women from the Liverpool City Region for a panel discussion with our CEO Maggie O’Carroll.

Maggie will be in conversation with Luciana Berger; Labour & Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, Nicola Pink, Director of Pink Media Ltd. and, Karen Gallagher and Artistic Director of Merseyside Dance Initiative to discuss how they paved their paves to leadership and success.

Our Panel Guests

Luciana Berger is a Labour Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree, speaking up for people in Kensington, Fairfield, Old Swan, Picton, Wavertree, Childwall and Church wards, and she has just announced that she will be on the ballot paper for the new Metro Mayor role for Liverpool City Region.

Nicola Pink established PR and Communications Consultancy Pink Media in 2011 and the team now work with clients from all across the North West including Hard Days Night Hotel, Delifonseca, Sefton Park Palm House, Liverpool Hoteliers Association and Haines Watts Chartered Accountants. Based in the heart of Liverpool's vibrant Baltic Triangle, the company has built strong links with journalists on a local, regional and national level and deliver a wide range of services including effective short and long term campaigns, press release writing and sell-in to journalists, together with effective crisis management, media interviews and client photo-shoots to name a few.

Karen Gallagher, the Artistic Director of MDI, one of the UK’s leading strategic dance organisations. After training at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London in the 80’s, Karen then returned to Liverpool and has worked tirelessly to champion the development of dance in this region for over 30 years.

We have just a few remaining tickets for this event as they have been flying off the e-shelves! So come and join us for what promises to be a truly inspirational and informative morning with these powerful women in leadership. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

54 St James Street Tenant of the Month - Color Consultancy

So, Tenant of the Month is back! Each month we will be publishing an interview with one of our lovely tenants in the building, asking them what they like about the building and finding out what their business is all about!

So far we have spoken to Siren, Dobson Welch, Barrette, A Quiet Place and Bold Online Marketing. And this month we sat down with Color Consultancy

So here's what our lovely tenants had to say!

What is your business name and what do you do?

We are Color Consultancy. We help businesses solve their problems with cloud based solutions, including the class leading CRM system Salesforce.com. Three of us are based here, and we have a team of developers in Kerala, India who we’ve been out to meet last year.

What did you do prior to setting up your own business?

Simon, the Director, came to the business cloud as a marketer and business person after a varied career which initially started in managing bands! In 2005 he realised that there were lots of solutions out there in the early business cloud to solve the problems that he was having, but a shortage of good people to design and integrate the solutions. As a secret geek, it was a natural progression for Simon into the world of technical solution design to support businesses as they grow!

Michael, Color’s Cloud Consultant, started working with Salesforce.com quite by accident 5 years ago. He first met Simon when they worked together on a huge cloud project at the Trinity Mirror Group in 2012. They stayed in touch, and after realising they had the same appetite for cloud solutions (and a similar taste in good beer!) it felt like a natural move to work together in our own cloud consultancy.

Where have you been working from previously?

Simon was previously Marketing Director for Press Association Sports, and a US telecoms software company. He took up a position as Head of CRM at Trinity Mirror in 2011, where his passion for Salesforce was reignited after a break of a few years. In 2012, he set up Color Consultancy.

Michael started out in freelance business support working with a number of innovative SMEs in Liverpool, including a fast-growing logistics firm and a niche legal agency. He moved to Trinity Mirror in 2012 to work with Salesforce on a large-scale implementation, before moving to the innovative software security company Avecto in 2014. He joined Color full-time in early 2016 after freelancing for a couple of years.

Clare has previously held a number of sales and sales support roles covering Salesforce in large corporates, but after having her daughter, retrained as a strategic social media manager through Digital Mums and wanting to get back to basics with small businesses joined Color to front social media and marketing in Jan 2016

What made you decide to move to 54 St James Street?

The vibrancy of the Baltic Triangle and the growth of the area as a digital creative space made it a great fit

What is it that you like the most about 54 St James Street?

It just ‘fits’ with the way we work. The easygoing atmosphere, quality of facilities, great food at Siren, stunning modern architecture and the amazing views from the roof terraces make it such an easy place to work, and a great place to bring our clients. It doesn’t feel like coming to work at all! We’ve got great views and a quiet office where we can concentrate on just getting on with what we do.

Social Media and Contact Details
Twitter: @CloudSourcers
LinkedIn: ColorConsultancy

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why and How to Network to Grow Your Business

Networking is a core business skill that brings many benefits to new and growing businesses. Networking provides an opportunity to exchange ideas and information with other business owners from your local area, or in your business sector, and enables you to meet potential clients, suppliers and business partners. Mixing with other business owners in this way is an important practice for every business owner to adopt. Not convinced? Have a look at these tips on why and how to network.

Why Network?

Share or pick up new ideas: The networking environment is often a place of learning where a business owner can keep up to date with new industry developments, gather general or specific industry information, regulations and policies and find out what competitors are up to.

Time to work on the business not in it: Business Networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new clients and tell others about your business. Getting stuck in the office ploughing away can leave us stagnating. Lifting your head up to look for new ideas and opportunities is the best way to keep your business growing.

Feeding positivity: Networking is great way to meet with and talk to do like minded business owners who inspire and influence you and what you do, so it is important to be surrounding yourself with people that help you to grow and thrive as a business owner. Business owners that are using networking are usually people that are really positive with appropriate knowledge and experience and help other businesses with their problems or provide solutions. 

Build real relationships: At a professional level, networking provides you with a great source of connections, and really opens the door to talk to highly influential people that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to easily talk to or find. Mix with your peers and other like-minded people. On personal level networking helps to build relationships with potential partners and friends. Many friendships form as a result of networking because (mostly) you are all like-minded business owners that want to grow your businesses, and you meet and help each other regularly, so naturally strong friendships tend to form and you do not feel isolated.

How to Network Effectively

women networking

Become a regular participant - Once you have found a network that is working for you, show your face regularly so you’re known and getting noticed.  Not only are you ensuring you are remembered, you are building your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person by being available to offer useful information or tips to people who need it. You are also more likely to get more leads and referrals as you will be the one that pops into their head when they need what you offer.
Don't forget the online networking option -  Social networking platforms such as Linkedin,  Twitter and Facebook can also be used for online business networking. They help people to find information about your business and are useful if you are looking for new business contacts or partnerships.  Online networks can also be a great way to follow up with connections made offline. 

Network with a goal in mind - Decide before attending an event or joining an online network what you want to get out of it.  Is there a key connection you want to make?  If so make that clear.  You never know who knows the person you are after and could make an introduction.  Never forget the 6 degrees of seperation rule. 

Perfect your pitch - We have all been to events where we have met someone, asked them what they do and walked away feeling non-the-wiser.  Don't be that person! Be clear about what you offer and practice presenting that message in a clear and concise way.

If you would like more help with your networking skills, The Women’s Organisation are running a ‘How to Network Effectively’ day. Come along to get practising! Or check out or linkedin course and Business Club women in business network for extra help. 

If you are growing your business significantly and ready to expand your staff team, you may be able to access additional support from a specialist business growth adviser as part of the New Markets programme.  Get in touch for more information via hello@thewo.org.uk

by Business Growth Adviser Huda Mamoun

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Francine's Top Tips for Getting Paid Fast with Smart Invoicing

It is great when work starts to roll in and our services are in demand, but forgetting to put financial processes in place can mean we end up a busy fool rather than a successful business owner.  Here are some building blocks for businesses to put in place early to ensure we are getting paid quickly for our hard work.

Make sure your invoices include every last bit of relevant information, leave nothing to chance!  Every invoice should include the following:
  • The name and address of the customer.
  • A unique invoice reference number.
  • The date of supply (the tax point).
  • A description of the goods or services provided.
  • The gross amount due to be paid.
  • The payment terms for this invoice and, ideally, a due date for payment.
If you run a limited company, you will need to also list the following:

·       The Registered Business Address (often this is the accountants address)
·       Your Company Registration Number
·       Your VAT Number if your business is VAT Registered.

Most standard payment terms are 30 - 60 days from delivery. If you don’t get a contract, it is a good idea to send an email stating your terms explaining that late payment attracts interest to help deter late payment.

Find out how your new client would like to pay. Direct electronic BACS payment is a very popular method for clients to pay. For clients to pay by BACS (bank transfer) you would need to include the following details on your invoice.

·       Your Account Name
·       Sort Code
·       Account Number

For cheques, your business name is sufficent. Some clients may offer to pay via Paypal, however remember you will lose around 5% of the fee.

If you have put all these measures in place and you are still not getting paid, then it is time to get chasing.

If you are in the process of starting a business and would like more advice on the practicalities of setting up, FREE support is available through our Enterprise Hub programme.  Get in touch with our team via 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk to check your eligibility or get more information. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Help My Website Is On Page 10 of Google! Mike's SEO Tips

Mike Marsden SEO
Mike Marsden Training
If you have set up a website for your business, you are no doubt checking regularly where it is coming up in search results when you Google.  When searching (beyond just looking via business name) if you are not seeing your website appear, then you definitely need to do some work around SEO (search engine optimisation) to get it up the rankings. 

Here are 3 things to focus on as a starting point for getting Google to notice your website:

What to be found for
So the first thing to do is have a dedicated page for each search term that you want to be found for. Don’t have the same key word on each page. You don’t want your pages competing with each other. So how do you research what you want to be found for? Hopefully you will know, if you sell televisions, then televisions is your starting point. Taking it a step further, you will need a good keyword tool. There are some decent free keyword tools available like Google’s Adwords or you can obtain a specialist tool like Wordtracker, Wordstream and there are many others.
Another handy tip is use the Google search bar. Start typing something into Google, in this case Panasonic TV and we can see what other people are searching for! (Remember to clear your web history first so Google isn't just picking up on what you have searched for before).

With this knowledge we can now focus a page on what others are searching for. Simple really.  So now our ‘television website’ should have a section dedicated to Panasonic TV’s and actually should have one for the model numbers above. This will have full pictures, descriptions and informative content around the Panasonic tx-40cx680b as taken from the above research.

Work on your Title Tag & Picture Descriptions
The Title Tag is considered one of the most important aspects of SEO and tells Google what you're all about. Your Title Tags should all be unique, accurate to the page and set up right. When you use keywords in the title tag, search engines will highlight them in the search results if a user has performed a query including those keywords. This gives the user, and generally means you'll get a higher click-through rate.
Of course, this all has to be written as a sentence that makes sense to a human whilst being well optimised for robots; no one said this was easy!
Content isn't just your text, it's the images as well. Make sure your photographs are named appropriately & you make good use of Image Alt attributes to describe the picture and use the relevant keywords.

Stay local
For a fairly instant web presence – optimise your local presence! Get yourself on Google Maps or ‘Google My Business’. And then work your listing with reviews and listings elsewhere to boost your position. Have a look at this super little site I found with lots of tips and a free guide to get you started. http://www.mylocalbusinessonline.co.uk/toolbox/

Finally, remember to work on your website page by page rather than trying to tackle the site as a whole.  You can use a tool like Google analytics to look at how each page is performing.  Work on one at a time trying the above tips to get that page performing as best as you can, and then move on to the next. 

If you need a bit more support around SEO then you could book a place on our 'Understanding SEO' course for just £25.  Visit our events page for dates and booking links.

If you are currently growing your business in Merseyside and would like some business growth advice, contact our team to check eligibility for our New Markets programme.

By Senior Business Adviser Mike Marsden 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Freelancers Guide To The Galaxy

'Going alone' can be a daunting prospect, but for many professionals freelancing is a way to turn skills and knowledge into an income generator on a full or part time basis. Generally a freelancer will have a skill set that an individual or business requires, but that doesn't want to employ a member of staff to do. 

Freelancers may work on a project by project basis, or have a regular contract working X number of day's or hours a week for a client. It provides flexibility for the freelancer and their clients. 

Here are some common questions someone might have when they are thinking of starting out:

'I'm only a freelancer, does that make me a business?'

Often there is a perception that being a freelancer isn't the same as being in business. However, essentially it still means that you are working for yourself and you must still comply with the HMRC rules around self employment.

'Where will I find my clients?' 

The same principles apply to finding your clients as a freelancer as they do with any other business. You must network to connect. This can be done on or off line depending on your industry. You will generally be plugging a skills gap for them so think about the types of businesses/people who would benefit from your offering.

'How do I know what to charge?'

Pricing is always a difficult thing when starting out and will vary on industry and for the individual. Like with any business you need to assess how much of your time will be taken up by the piece of work and start there. Is there a general hourly rate for your skill set? What would be the 'going rate' in terms of a day rate that someone else in your industry would charge? You also need to consider the type of business you are working with and what they have as a budget to work with. 

'Will I have a contract?'

This is the type of thing that will vary from client to client. Everyone is different. It is essential that you have some 'terms of business' as standard practice. Working with a regular client may leave you feeling like part of the team, but ultimately without an employment contract you have very little rights. It is essential that you have the conversation from the outset about what the time commitment is and what the job role entails. Set the boundaries around rate of pay, and invoicing process. Always seek legal advice around terms of business. Once you have them, it's well worth the investment. 

'Do I need insurance?'

Yes! Always speak to an insurance broker when starting out any type of self employment venture to get advice of what type of insurance you will need. (Our friends over at Mitchell Charlesworth can offer a full insurance brokerage service if you are looking for a new or existing quote.)

Fresh Books, a cloud based accounting company over in Canada recently contacted us and offered this great Infographic to share with our network and we think it's brilliant! Some great hints and tips for managing as a freelancer.

The Women's Organisation can support you if you are thinking of freelancing and can help you to plan it properly to help avoid pitfalls.  Contact our team for more information on our FREE Enterprise Hub Programme via enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk or 0151 706 8111.

By Business Adviser Jo Mountfort

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Confessions of a Business Adviser: Common Mistakes I See Start-Ups Make

In my role as a business adviser I see a vast range of businesses from early concept stage, to being nearly ready to launch and beyond. The enthusiasm for their idea can sometimes leave them over looking some vital steps or jumping the gun and making rash decisions that can cost them later.

Here are some of the common mistakes I see start-ups make that others can learn from:

1. Setting up a business as limited company without knowing other legal structures

I’ve met a number of clients who have registered their business as limited company without any knowledge of it as they thought that’s how they start their business legally. They are not aware of there are other legal structures i.e. sole trader, that could be far more appropriate for their operation. A business adviser's role is to help you make informed decision explaining different legal structures including the advantages and disadvantages. Often the people start ups go to for advice on this are not impartial, but people who could gain from advising them to register their company in a certain way. Here is a link to the blog I put together on 'choosing the right legal structure for yourbusiness' with some more guidance on this.

2. Spending money on a full website without planning

Not all business needs a website when they start up. For some they can simply set up a free facebook business page to start with especially B2C (business to consumer) business with limited budget for marketing.

If you do decide to have a website for your business, you’ll need to consider:

• Registering your Domain name and website hosting company

• Are you going to build a website via DIY Website builder or pay for a web developer? And what are the costs (financial and time) for both?

• Making sure you have the ownership of your website and the website is mobile friendly (essential now for SEO - Search Engine Optimisation)

• How do I keep the website updated?

• Understanding SEO to make sure your website can actually be found!

Our 'Building a Social Media Strategy' course can be a good pre-curser to making this decision as it raises your awareness of the free digital marketing platforms available and the capacity within those to build an effective online presence. If you decide to go ahead with social media or a website, more help is available. Click here for a full list of the training on offer.

3. Signing a lease without seeking legal advice

Another very common mistake I often see start-ups make is taking on premises without seeking legal advice. Recently I had a client who took on a commercial retail premises completely unaware that she had entered a tenancy agreement that meant she is not allowed to put a signage outside her shop. The lease agreement may be in a standard format, but you should still have it checked to ensure it fits your business requirements. Ask your solicitor to review any lease agreement prior to signing it, and read it thoroughly yourself. Money spent on good professional advice at this stage can prevent you getting caught up in expensive dispute later on.

If you are in the process of developing a business idea and would like advice on how to start FREE impartial expert advice is available through the Enterprise Hub Programe. Contact 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk for more information and to check your eligibility.

by Business Start-Up Adviser Yan Miao

Monday, May 9, 2016

DIGA Research Findings - Breakdown by Briga Hynes

The Digital Innovations for Growth Academy operates as a Strategic Partnership from seven member states and is involved in the enhancement of digital competencies of entrepreneurs and owner-manager through the provision of appropriate small firm context digital training programmes. The development of such training programmes is underpinned by an informed understanding of the current status and practices of digital in the entrepreneurial context. To achieve this objective an empirical research study was undertaken with a sample of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial educators and trainers and entrepreneurial learners to ascertain the predicaments they encounter in the adoption of digital and what their needs are in terms of addressing these quandaries. The multi country study (United Kingdom; Ireland; Slovenia; Spain; Lithuania; Bulgaria and Finland) returned a response of 482 usable surveys.

Overall, survey results show that many small businesses are engaging with digital technologies and demonstrate intent to increase their usage of tools to extend into online selling, online networking and ecommerce to a lesser extent.

There was a lack of a strategic perspective of integrating digital technology as part of the broader strategy for their enterprise where digital was viewed on the periphery and undertaken when needed.

A challenge for the surveyed firm, was how to more fully capitalise on the ever increasing opportunities presented by social and digital technologies, whilst balancing the use of those most relevant and appropriate ones to reduce a fragmented and piecemeal approach to achieving a non-measured set of tasks.  Related is the lack of clear measurement or tracking of performance from digital efforts and resources extended to digital media – this lack of measurement perhaps is linked to the absence of a clear set of objectives and fear and confusion as to the potential of digital for a small enterprise.

The ability and need for integrating digital into mainstream business activities is an area requiring attention and is a fundamental foundation on which any successful digital strategy is built on.   Entrepreneurs decide on training on a haphazard basis which may reflect the current or immediate needs of the entrepreneur and the stage of their company rather than a holistic and future planned approach.

Therefore capability and competency development are fundamental to enable and embed a digital mind set in the entrepreneurial context and should incorporate a digital learning pedagogy, which contains views on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of digital as it applies to an entrepreneurial context, and which provides opportunities for the learner to experience and learn ‘with’ and ‘from’ the entrepreneurial application of digital, thus instilling real world and relevant digital ‘know how’.
Dr. Briga Hynes,
Kemmy Business School

Further reflections from DIGA findings so far can be downloaded in two summary reports also prepared by Briga Hynes: