Speedy advice for businesses

Speed dating may be a relic of the 90s thanks to online dating sites, but its principle is alive and well in the business world. This week I took part in a pop-up business café, offering quick-fire marketing advice to local start-ups – each delegate got a 20 minute slot to ask us their burning questions. Also in the room were specialists in web, social media, funding, accounting and even trading standards. I thought I’d spare you the caffeine consumption, nervous handshakes and business card swaps and share the top tips from each of us, here in this blog.

Building your business – Julia Chance from Northallerton Business Improvement District
“Planning is critical – start with your business plan, it should be the backbone of everything you do. A ship without a rudder just steams on and on. Keep checking back in on your plan so you don’t drift.”

Avoiding regulatory risks – Clare from Growth, Planning & Trading Standards, North Yorkshire County Council
“Don’t delay in checking out your rights and obligations when it comes to the products and services you’re selling. If you get it wrong later, it could cost you your business. The Trading Standards Authority doesn’t charge start-ups for advice. It may not be the most interesting job on your to-do list, but it could be one of the most important.”

Staying safe from cyber attacks – Ritch from Growth, Planning & Trading Standards
“Don’t assume that online security is just an issue for larger companies. 78% of cyber attacks aren’t targeted – you’re just as likely to be hacked as anyone else. Place as much value on your electronic data as you do on your tangible assets.”

For websites that work – James Lane, Hypestar
“User testing is key. Get other people to test your website and find out whether it’s doing what you want it to. Don’t do it yourself!

Meeting your tax requirements – Peter Molyneux, Armstrong Watson
“Start thinking about informing HMRC about your business as early as possible. Lots of people get so caught up when they’re starting up that the paperwork drifts. Don’t risk facing penalities if you delay.”

Accessing funding – Andrew Wattsford, Business Starts
“I always get asked – are there any grants around? Yes there are, but you have to tick all the right boxes to get them, and if you don’t tick them all, you won’t get the funding. Have a chat with Local Enterprise Partnerships and local business advisors, they’ll be able to steer you in the right direction.”

Savvy social media – Caroline Todd, Hot Toddi
“Save yourself time and ask your customers which social media sites they’re actually using, rather than spreading yourself thinly across loads of platforms that aren’t working.”

Business banking – Fraser MacDonald, Natwest
Whether you’re a small business or large, have a clear vision and a plan. If you want to borrow money, we need to see a structured approach to how you’re going to fund it. We also need to see that fire, passion and desire to make it work.

And finally, get more from your marketing – Faye Levi
“Set a goal that you’re trying to achieve and measure everything you do against that goal. If your efforts aren’t driving you in the right direction, consider a change of tactic.”

© 2019 Faye Levi