UK Small Business Grants to Help You Scale Up

Whether you need funding for a new office space in London or the money to launch a new marketing campaign, there are a number of resources such as UK small business grants that provide small businesses with the capital they need to succeed.

Here, The Brew rounds up some of the best grants and funding options that will help your small business to scale up.

UK Small Business Grants Initiative

While some companies can easily survive with minimal investment when starting out, others need to deal with immediate and necessary expenditures. That’s why The Brew have partnered with smallbusiness.co.uk to offer £5,000 every month to the brightest UK businesses in a free-to-enter competition.

If your business has a turnover between £50,000 and £500,000, then you’re eligible to enter – and the entering is simple and user-friendly, to avoid businesses having to jump through the usual multiple, complex application hoops.

Simply include as much information as possible about your successes so far and why you deserve to win, and your application will be considered by a panel of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders – including The Brew’s very own Andrew Clough.

Innovate UK Small Business Grants

Replacing the old Smart award programme which was scrapped by the government last year, Innovate UK now runs funding competitions offering grants to businesses working on innovative new technologies.

The programme has competitions open to businesses and organisations of all sizes and from all corners of the technology sector, but some are open exclusively to SMEs. Recipients of Innovate UK grants have seen higher employment and turnover and a better success rate than comparable businesses without the same funding.

The full list of open competitions can be found on the Innovate UK website.

Horizon 2020

Supporting research and innovation all over Europe, this massive EU fund has a dedicated SME Instrument through which small business can receive funding for innovative projects with high potential. Businesses involved in ground-breaking research or new technologies, or responding to challenges such as climate change and food security, can access the €3 million set aside for the SME Instrument over the period 2014-2020.

Applications by UK organisations will be made via a National Contact Point – usually a government agency or organisation. One of Horizon 2020’s aims is to foster links between EU nations, so some funding is conditional on forming partnerships with businesses overseas.

However, you may have a limited window in which to take full advantage of this particular fund – although projects will not be affected until the UK has officially left the EU, the policy after this point remains uncertain.

Innovation Vouchers

While money itself is no doubt important, the benefits of having the right knowledge and expertise to hand is an often overlooked part of scaling up a small business. With Innovation Vouchers, £5000 is awarded for an SME to specifically seek out the experts, advisors or consultants they need to take their innovative idea to the next level, build within their industry or protect their intellectual property rights.

Start-Up Loans

One of the common difficulties faced by even the most innovative and forward-thinking start-ups is that their small size and untested business credentials make it difficult to attract investment from high street banks. This government-backed initiative was set up to help get around this problem – if you’re a start-up or very small early stage business that is yet to launch or has been trading for less than 12 months then you could receive mentoring, business planning support and a loan with an average size of £6,000.

Although this funding option will affect your business at a very early stage, it could be what you need to get the right footing for scaling up further down the line.

No matter how dedicated, hard-working and imaginative, sometimes nothing will help your business break through to the next level like a bit of extra money – so it’s worth researching these funding options to see whether they could benefit your business.

 

Daniel Moore is an experienced content writer by profession and he mainly writes on different aspects of business from business start ups to expansion.

Hiring Your Dream Team – The Ultimate 7 Point Checklist for Small Business Owners

The backbone of a great business is the people working hard to make it a success.

If you’re a ‘one man band’ looking to expand your services, you may have the capital and experience to know what you need from a ‘dream team,’…but you may not be 100% sure on how to go about finding them.

This post will run through a seven-point checklist for hiring your dream team to help you ace your search and hiring Dream Team.

#1. Define The Role

Whether it’s your first hire as an entrepreneur or your 20th, taking on new staff always presents challenges. As CEO, it is your job to ensure that you make the right choice with your new candidate, as you could potentially lose out on profits once you factor in the cost of advertising, recruitment, administration, and so on.

First, make a list of all the core competencies you need from the new hire. If you are relatively new to the business, this may mean that you would be looking for someone with a range of talents. Or, at least someone who is willing and quick to learn, provided they excel within certain areas, e.g. sales.

If you’re more established, you may be looking for a highly skilled team member to carry out niche processes. A ‘jack of all trades,’ in these cases, may not be such a good fit. Conduct lots of research by looking at advertisements for similar job roles in other companies, taking note of the going rates of pay, qualifications, years of experience, etc.

#2. Outsource Where You Can

The wealth of options available for entrepreneurs looking to outsource certain tasks has coincided with the boom of the VA (virtual assistant) industry.

If you are looking for a particular task, like a website build or social media management, you can avoid taking on a full-time marketer and instead break up these duties into discrete tasks, projects, and contracts. Find a suitable remote worker from Upwork or PeopleByTheHour to do the jobs instead, saving you a lot of money.

#3. Define Your Values

To ensure that the new hire fits in with your company culture, you will first need to explain in clear terms what your company culture is.

Go back to your original business plan and forecasts for the next few years. and identify the traits you need to help you achieve the vision you have for your business.

#4. Define The Behavioral Attributes

Recruiters use psychometric tests to help them match the best personality types to varying job roles. Every company’s requirements will be different, even if the positions perform the same function.

Many of us have heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test, but for recruiters, this personality test reveals little about a candidate’s employability. A test called The Big Five is preferred over Myers-Briggs because it provides more insight on a person’s negative traits.

‘The Big Five’ can be tested in different ways. However, they work by giving people a score on the high-low scales of:

  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness

The language of these terms can seem alarming. However, it is important to remember that for certain roles, things like high agreeableness may not prove so useful (in negotiation roles, for example). Building a good sales team takes time and dedication — don’t be rushed into hiring ‘green’ salespeople as your profitability will plummet.

#5. Shortlisting Candidates

Once you have crafted your job role and defined your company values and key personality traits, it’s time to advertise and start the process of selecting candidates.

Prioritize your list of skills and behavioral attributes and give each of your potential candidates a score.

Once you have made your list for interview, decide how you’re going to assess their capabilities effectively. You may want to consider:

  • Interviews in front of a panel, or in groups
  • In-tray exercises where you give interviewees a task to complete representing one of their core competencies
  • Presentations (if you’re recruiting for a sales or marketing role)
  • One-day trials or extended probationary periods.Hiring Dream Team
                                              Image credit: unsplash

It’s recommended that you find out as much as you can about the candidate’s previous roles, and it’s also worth snooping around on social media to get a feel for them.

#6. Successfully Onboard The New Hire

Hiring your dream team doesn’t end when you draw-up their contract. It is commonly believed that it takes around 90 days to get your new hire up-to-speed and working productively.
Providing a thorough training and onboarding process takes time and careful planning.

Make training manuals, record video tutorials of ‘on-screen’ processes and provide all you can regarding automated tools to help them reduce time and error in mundane tasks.

  • You can find a range of automated solutions for every industry, things like:
    Plugins that can schedule social media posts, blog content, and inventory, all through your online storefront — train staff once, and you won’t have to keep asking them to do the same, mundane tasks
  • Financial automation tools can manage bookkeeping and accounts, generate invoices automatically, calculate sales tax, etc.
  • Chatbots and automated customer order tracking systems can streamline customer service tasks
  • RFID sensors and automated health and safety compliance software can be utilized for manufacturing and supply chain services

…the list is ever-growing and investing in new technologies, as well as staff, will help your business grow.

#7. Motivate Your Team Members

Once you have introduced your new staff and systems into the mix, it is down to you as a boss to do your best to provide a positive and productive place of work.

For more, check out this free checklist on How to Create High-Performing Teams.

One Last Thing…

Do bear in mind and plan financially for your staff to leave, or for their jobs to ‘expire’ as time goes on. As a business owner with a company on the rise, the skills you need in the beginning may not be as useful to you as time goes on.

Also, plan for your company culture to change and diversify in terms of personality fit, as the number of roles and operational complexity increase.

QUESTION: What’s your best tip (or question) on hiring great candidates? Share in the comments box below.

Are Pop-Up Opt-Ins Affecting Your Site Traffic?

About two years ago, Google started penalizing websites that are not friendly to mobile visitors, since mobile traffic now comprises the vast majority of all internet traffic.

In August of 2016, Google announced that it would begin penalizing websites that have what Google considers “intrusive” pop-ups. Here’s the official Google Webmasters post that sparked controversy across the web.

According to some recent articles, websites are seeing the effects of this change.

What are the rules?

 

In order to be considered mobile-friendly by Google and to show up in the search results of those using their cell phones, your website cannot have what Google considers “intrusive” pop-ups on your site.

 

The most important things to know are:

 

  1. This only affects the mobile version of your website, and
  2. There are a few quick fixes if your site is in fact being penalized.

 

These are intrusive pop-ups, as Google has defined them:
Website Traffic

Source: Google

 

How does this affect you?

 

Any popups you’re using to collect email addresses or opt people into your email list or other offer could be affecting traffic to the mobile version of your website, resulting in drastically reduced traffic.

 

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on at least 60% of internet traffic, and that number is growing every day.

 

It’s important to understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable pop-ups to make sure that Google doesn’t penalize your site.

 

Here’s what’s okay to have on your mobile site, according to Google:

 

  • Push notifications
  • Pop-ups about cookie usage and age verifications
  • Small app banners
  • Exit popups
  • Popups that only appear when someone clicks a button

Find out whether your website traffic is impacted

 

In order to take action (or determine if you even have to take action), you have to check out whether or not this is actually affecting your website’s traffic.

Step 1: Select a custom date range in Google Analytics.

 

Sign into your Google Analytics account. In the left-hand sidebar, click Audience → Overview, and then select the option to define a custom date range.

 

Select the date range of Jan 9, 2017 – Jan 13, 2017 and compare it to the previous week. We choose this date range because this was when the changes first went to effect.

Website Traffic

 


Step 2: Check the mobile traffic specifically.

 

Under “Audience” on the left hand side, click Mobile > Overview. If you that your site experienced a significant drop (over 20%) in mobile traffic during this period in time, your site is likely being penalized for popups.

 

Step 3: If you have pop-ups on the mobile version of your site, disable them.

 

If you did experience a huge drop in traffic during this time, you can’t regain the traffic that you’ve lost, but you can make sure that the mobile version of your site is Google-friendly moving forward.

 

Remember that you can still have pop-ups on the desktop version of your site, but you should disable them on mobile. You’ll have to find the settings in your specific plugin (if you’re using WordPress) to disable them on mobile.

 

Or only use exit pop-ups. If you’re using ClickFunnels, your site should be fine. By default, the pop-ups only appear if people ask for them by clicking a button.

 

 

Are you seeing the effects of this penalty on your site?

4 Most Important Things You Must Do to Convert Leads into Sales

Getting new customer leads is exciting, but that enthusiasm can quickly wither when you don’t know how to best convert leads into new clients.

 

When this becomes the trend for your small business, you immediately ask, “why?” before seeking out solutions to combat your lack of sales from leads, you should be aware of some important sales conversion facts:

Online leads do not automatically translate into sales.

  • Per Marketo, only 25% of leads ready to buy from you.
  • 79% will never convert if they aren’t nurtured after the fact.
  • 1/4 of leads are qualified, meaning approximately 75% aren’t your ideal customer.

Now, don’t let these numbers frighten you. In addition to this, you must understand the psychology behind the lack of leads turning into sales.

The Real Reason Why People Won’t Buy from You

There are four primary reasons why small businesses fail to convert leads online. These sales barriers are as follows:

  • Trust: People don’t trust themselves, so how do you expect them to trust you immediately upon connecting with your business for the first time? Traffic to your website may not always translate into sales if your leads are reluctant to buy from you. The absence of trust can stem from a lack of proof showing you do what you claim, lack of contact information, a poorly designed website, or non-targeted content.
  • Authority: If you don’t establish yourself as the authority in your field, through quality content, you will find it quite hard to gain customers, because they may see you as untrustworthy.
  • Money: If your price doesn’t match the perceived value of your products or services, you are likely to miss out on sales.
  • Time: If the customers feel that the time is not right, they are likely not to purchase.


Turning Leads into Sales: 4 Key Strategies

There are four solutions for converting online leads, which when used together, can increase your sales conversion rates:

  • Social Proof
  • Content Marketing
  • Sales Qualification Process
  • Email Marketing Solutions

#1. Develop Trust with Social Proof (Testimonials and Reviews)

Building a reliable brand will ultimately make it easier for you to market your product or services.

One of the best and easiest ways to build trust is through social proof, specifically reviews, and testimonials from your current or previous clients. Social proof will not only confirm that you’re talking the talk, but that you’re walking the walk.

When someone encounters your brand for the first time through your website, you need to:
1) show that you’re an authority, and
2) provide social proof.

Let your current customers sing your praises by encouraging them to write a review or testimonial through email, on Yelp, Facebook, or any other relevant review site. For those “special” reviews, showcase them on your website. Do not worry about getting one or two negative reviews.

This might work to your advantage, in that, they persuade leads to believe that your reviews are reputable. If people see that others are buying your products and enjoying them, they can be persuaded to follow suit.

 

#2. Help Your Prospects Before the Sale

Helping your prospects means providing answers to their problems through content. This content marketing strategy revolves around blog posts as well as free offers.

Invest your time in writing well-researched and helpful blog content and eBooks. If your leads find that you are knowledgeable in your industry and in the various products that you’re selling, then they will believe in your ability to provide quality products.

You can hire marketing agencies to write blog posts for you. Or, you can learn simple shortcuts and time saving templates to train you and/or your marketing assistant to turn your knowledge into written blog articles for your business website.

 

#3. Utilize a Sales Qualification Process

One of the most crucial strategies for converting leads into sales is to have a qualification process.  Lead qualification is the evaluation of the ability of a lead to purchase from you.

The qualification process involves gathering the necessary information about your leads to move them through the sales process. There are three types of leads: Information Qualified Leads (IQL), Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). How each is determined varies from business to business. Once your qualification metrics are defined, only then will you be able to take appropriate action that will convert your leads into sales.

Using a sales qualification process prevents you from coming on too strong and putting off potential clients. It also helps your sales team save valuable time and instead focus it on customers who are ready to buy.

For those leads who have not been identified as “ready to buy” or an SQL, you can nurture them through your sales funnel using email marketing solutions.

 

#4. Leverage Email Nurturing Solutions

Email nurturing is one of the greatest tools that you can use to convert leads into sales.

It’s all about leveraging marketing automation to follow up and remain in contact with any leads that come through your sales funnel. If you follow up with leads within 5 minutes, you are 9 times more likely to get a sale.

Strategically sending your clients or customer regular emails will drill information about your business and your services or products into their minds. The more they hear from you, the more they are likely to buy. You want to send targeted emails, to targeted email lists, based on where they are in your sales funnel and how they interact with your emails.

These emails can be anything from newsletters to content offers. The purpose of this strategy is to guarantee the right lead is receiving the right email at the right time.

The Bottom Line

Today, even though most marketing efforts are online, customers still need to feel that personal touch. By incorporating these few lead conversion ideas into your business strategy will help to ensure that you not only have thousands of people stopping by your website, but you will have them laying down their money!

QUESTION: What is your favorite strategy that’s been working for you in your business when it comes to converting leads into sales? Share your comments and questions below. 

Author Bio: ShaDrena Simon is a digital strategist and inbound marketer for Yokel Local Internet Marketing Inc. You can reach her at: shadrena@yokellocalmarketing.com

Surprising Business Growth Advice

As a business owner it’s so important to always be seeking business growth advice from people who have already “been there- done that”.

I recently spent a week with the world’s top franchise owners at the International Franchising Association conference held in Las Vegas and wanted to share 2 value bombs with you for your business.

The agenda was jam packed with a massive amount of content and sage business growth advice featuring a panel of CEO’s from some of the world’s biggest franchise brands.

A common question the audience asked these superstar CEO’s in many of the sessions was if they could summarize one or two keys to success to help them grow their own businesses, what would it be?

The audience grew hush as they listened intently to hear the business growth advice from experts like …

  • Steve Hockett, the President of Great Clips (4,090 locations)
  • Gordon Logan, the CEO of Sports Clips (1,600 locations) and
  • Steve White, President of Puroclean (235 locations)


What’s interesting is how many CEO’s responded with the same answers.

What’s surprising is how simple their advice was.

And yet, overflowing with pure wisdom. Here are two pieces of business growth advice that many of the top CEO’s shared in the Q&A sessions:

#1. Create SYSTEMS in your business. 

I loved their answer because I too love systems! The word SYSTEMS stand for:

  • Save
  • Your
  • Self
  • Time
  • Energy
  • Money and
  • Sanity!

A system is great because you don’t have to re-invent the wheel every month to create the next windfall of sales and profits. You simply rinse and repeat the same process within your system.

In order for a system to be a SYSTEM it has to first work … (no brainer there, right?)

Second, your system has to be easily repeatable and scalable. In my past businesses this was the magic test that allowed me to remove myself from the businesses I owned then, so I could cut back to working only 10-15 hours a week which allowed me to spend more time with my kids when they were little.  All while my business doubled in sales four years in a row.

I mention that not to be self promotional, but to impress upon you that the concept of working less while earning more is achievable. That’s what creating SYSTEMS can do for your business and for your life.

Ok, so when these top CEO’s were asked to summarize one or two tips here was the second business growth advice that was repeated over and over again:

#2. Hire a business consultant / business coach.

Wow! This was the second most repeated business growth advice I heard throughout the conference. (But, of course, my reticular activating system is pretty engaged for that too 🙂

These CEO’s went on to share openly about the importance of hiring a business consultant / business coach and the powerful impact that can make on growing your business faster, easier and stronger.

They couldn’t have said it any clearer when they shared, “If you want to succeed faster, hire a business consultant / business coach.”

As the business owner, you’re just too close to your business to be able to see the forest through the trees. You need an outside perspective to give you the guidance, strategy, course correction and coaching.

As an entrepreneur you also don’t have a boss you have to answer to — which is a double edged sword. It’s great and liberating to be your own boss, but it can also be dangerous because it’s easy to let yourself get distracted, dis-focused and take detours that happen with the “shiny object syndrome”.

So, if you’re ready to follow the business growth advice from CEO’s of some of the world’s biggest franchise brands I invite you to a complimentary business coaching discovery call with me.

On the call you get to share your goals — where you’d like your business to be in 1 year and in 3 years.

We can take a look at what systems you have developed so far (if any).
We’ll identify the biggest challenges that are getting in the way of achieving your goal and what the process would look like that will help you hit your sales and business growth goals.

You can also take advantage of the call to ask me any question you want that’s been nagging at you.

By the end of our call we will both know whether you and I are the right fit.

You can sign up for a free 30-min time slot for a business coaching discovery call

I only work with people I know I can help, so when you click the link above it will ask you to fill out a few questions about you and your business. Once you answer a few question you click the orange button that takes you straight to my calendar.

Pretty easy, right?

Ok, so if you have any questions or comments I invite you to share them in the comment box below:

QUESTION: What advice do you need right now to accelerate your business growth? (include what kind of business you have) Please share your comments and questions below. 

 

 

How to Create Right Action Plans

How do you know whether or not you created the right action plans that will help you achieve your business goals most effectively? That’s this week’s question submitted by Stacy from Atlanta, GA.

Reality is, if you’re pursuing a new goal that you’ve never achieved before, you just won’t know what you don’t know.
You could certainly move forward on pure intuition while trying to piece together bits of tips from various free content you’ve found. However, I don’t recommend doing that.

Trial and error always ends up being way more time consuming. And for most people, it usually leads to making costly mistakes.  It’s an age old truth.


There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”  Proverbs 14:12 

 

The risk of prolonged lack of progress and costly mistakes, for many people leads them to give up which means the death of their dreams.

I don’t want to see “death of a dream” happen to you. So, let’s dive right into this week’s episode to help you:

Create Right Action Plans to Achieve Your Business Goals