Local Business Week: Simple Tips for UK SMEs to Stay On Top
With an annual turnover of over £300 billion, the UK SME market continues to go from strength to strength – in spite of a hazy economic outlook. While preparing for Brexit as a business is of tantamount importance, it’s also key for Britain’s entrepreneurs to adapt to the changing times and plan accordingly for the future, whatever the coming months may bring. As the nation’s start-up community prepares for this year’s Local Business Week (13 to 19 May), we explore hints and tips on how to navigate a new landscape and thrive through this era of uncertainty. Furthermore, to celebrate working with neighbouring businesses, we’re offering any company within a fifteen mile radius of our Tamworth office a discounted fixed-fee for two years when they appoint us by 30 June 2019. So we can learn more about your about your business and your accounting needs, call us on 01827 54944 to arrange your initial, free one-hour meeting.
Getting to Know Your Community
While the competitive spirit is nothing to be sniffed at, the SME ‘community’ has become what it is today by business owners collaborating, co-operating and learning from each other (through the good times and the bad). By personally recommending fellow businesses on your doorstep, you’ll soon find neighbours doing the same for you which further strengthens the community spirit – encouraging customers to shop local. Partnering with other like-minded businesses is a great way to demonstrate solidarity and ultimately increase your customer base. Seasonal events offer the opportunity to do just this – from summer fetes to late night shopping over the festive period. If new to the area, why not start by offering discounts to visitors in exchange for completing a short survey? With 70% of SMEs having expressed a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of local customers, relationship building within the community will only help foster a positive reputation.
From launching a blog to devising a more integrated approach, a robust marketing plan has the potential to propel your business into the spotlight. More importantly, it can also help put you in front of those that matter the most: your local community. You’ll find the majority of social networks offer paid social (PPC) services to target your content, and the channels you choose will largely depend on where your target audience tends to congregate; would you likely find them using Snapchat, for example? While a Facebook Page can help make your services known – with Messenger for Business placing you directly in touch with customers – paid social using this network is a good place to start. Using Business Manager, SMEs can create and save customised ‘Audiences’ to steer their content via location, demographic, interests and behaviour. From digital to print, press coverage in your local newspaper is also worth exploring and can prove an extremely effective marketing tool – reaching loyal readers (and prospective customers) within your region.
A Lesson in Eco-friendly
By shopping in their neighbourhood, not only are customers supporting the local economy; with less distance to travel, they are also reducing their carbon footprint. In return, there are many things you can do to support the environment as an ‘eco-conscious’ business. If you’re a bar, why not replace plastic straws with paper alternatives, or sell reusable metal drinking straws (and a free beverage with every purchase). Coffee shops can also do away with plastic altogether. Where cups are concerned, incentivise customers to come with their travel flasks handy. Compostable cutlery and bio-degradable food boxes are also easy to stock and offer a great talking point with customers taking away. If you’re an office-based SME, you can take part by adopting a ‘paperless’ policy in the workplace. Invoices, receipts and other important documents can also be shared digitally, saving both paper and time. Reviewing your energy consumption as a small business can also help you do your bit, and cut utility bills in the long-run. Simple changes like turning off the heating at weekends and timer switches for lights can have a huge impact on your outgoings.
Keeping your Finances in Order
Staying on top of your finances can be a challenge for the average SME – particularly for a fledgling business minus the experience. Nevertheless, with good organisational skills and the ability to plan ahead, there are a number of ways to iron out the kinks, save time, and allow you to focus on what you do best. From sorting invoices to monitoring your outgoings, software such as Xero offer affordable packages with the purpose of keeping SMEs on track. Annual account management (your yearly financial performance) and Corporation Tax should also be prioritised should you wish to remain in operation. For peace of mind however, outsourcing these tasks to an local business advisor/accountant allows you to meet face to face with your consultant and build that all-important rapport over time – as well as being kept in the loop on your terms. Providing improved transparency, local businesses that specialise in SME support will often offer packages bespoke to your requirements. Plus, you’ll also be supporting local!