To Outsource, or Not to Outsource…

When businesses are small, the question of Outsourcing doesn’t usually come up; unless there’s some specialist skill or requirement that the business owners don’t possess. But even in this case, the preference might be to either learn the skill, or hire someone who has the necessary abilities – the latter often being the popular choice, especially if the requirement is going to be fairly fundamental to the development of the business.

And this is usually how businesses grow, hiring the skills and buying the resources they need to develop and provide their products and services, and manage their sales and ongoing realtionships with their clients. It may be simply because this is how the business has developed, or the perception that it’s better to have ‘control’ over these important skills and resources, but a lot of business owners often prefer this approach when compared to outsourcing.

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But does oursourcing have a lot more to offer than many small and medium sized businesses appreciate? Once a business has grown to a certain size, or is operating at or near it’s capacity and it needs to look at becoming more efficicient in order to keep growing, outsourcing day to day aspects of the business may actually make a lot more sense. This could be as obviously benefical as reducing immediate costs, but it might also provide the less tangible benefits in the medium and long term that come from being more efficient and being able to focus more on the core activities of the business.

So, to outsource or not ot outsource? That is the question. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer that would be appropriate for every business, because each organisation is different, and outsourcing may suit some more than others. But if you’re wondering if your business has reached a point where outsourcing various aspects of its day to day running might be a good idea, here’s a simple flow chart from London IT Support company Foration, that might give you a better idea of some of the key considerations, particularly when it comes to outsourcing your IT support and management services. Read More …

More Funding Information

We’ve already had a look at one of the biggest challenges a lot of startups face – funding; bit here are a couple of short, but useful videos featuring Rob Symington, founder of Escape The City. Here he looks at some different funding options

 

In this second video, Rob goes on to discuss Crowdfunding in more detail.

Get More Business from the Web

When it comes to a business having an online presence, it takes a little more than a simple website. Many businesses have moved on from their ‘bricks and mortar’ setup and wish to target a brand new demographic, and where better to find this demographic than on the World-Wide-Web.

Carefully targeting your marketing in the online world can yield some beneficial results, but it’s important that businesses are able to market their business online in the correct way. For example, if a business has a website, but it has not been optimised to be found within search engines, then the website is only going to be visited by those familiar with the business already, thus defeating the object.

Fortunately, there are some basic steps a business can take to ensure that its marketing endeavours online bear fruit and your business takes off.

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Social Media Requires Interaction

Social media pages are an ideal way for a business to interact with its audience, as well as promote new offers and discounts, but the social media pages have to have a level of interaction before customers start interacting with the business.

A business should look at what its target market is, and decide which social networks are going to be beneficial for its marketing efforts.

As well as giving customers information about the product or service, fresh content could be produced for the website, which can then be shared via social media

Businesses shouldn’t just focus on the more obvious social networks, there could be one that your business could utilise where others haven’t, so it’s always worth carrying out the research in this regard.

Search Engine Optimisation is Key

While many sites can be found by accident, a truly optimised site will appear when the relevant search terms are entered within a search engine. How a business ranks with search engine depends on a number of factors.

Keywords are words that are associated with a business, and as such, will be used as part of the optimisation process. A business should consider keywords are going to be beneficial, or speak to a company like Grapefruit Marketing, who offer SEO services London businesses have been taking advantage of to increase their website traffic. They will be able to advise of keywords that have less competition, so have a better ranking opportunity.

A professional SEO company will also be able to tailor any content on your website to represent its chosen keywords. The end result is a website that ranks well due to its robust foundations, having a mobile-friendly version of the site and having relevant content in places that takes keywords into account.

Take Advantage of Online Marketing

Online marketing can be tweaked by simply adding some personalisation. It is likely that a business already holds data about its current customers, and this information should be used to tailor marketing accordingly.

Marketing that is more personal will likely yield better results, whereas offering news revolving around the industry will show customers that your business is up to speed on any developments, making them an industry expert, thus instilling more confidence into the brands overall.

Funding Your New Business

When it comes to starting a new business, one of the biggest considerations can be how to fund your new venture.

In the old days, the traditional approach might have been to borrow the money from the bank – which could be very problematic for new businesses.

The good news is that, these days, there seems to be a growing number of funding options, from grants to crowdfunding to venture capitalists.

So if you’re looking for ideas of how to fund your startup, this video has some advice.

A Guide to Hiring Employees

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The hiring of employees can be an exciting time for a business. There fact that your business has grown to warrant the hiring of staff can only be a good thing. However, the hiring process itself can be something of an overwhelming one if a business isn’t sure as to what questions they should be asking prospective employees, as well as any procedures that need to be carried out, such as CRB checks.

Ascertain as To How the Employee Will Be Paid

The first thing to decide when taking on new staff member is how much they will be paid, and it’s important that the salary offered reflects that of the job role. Offering a lower amount will only see your business inundated with applications that aren’t relevant.

Carry Out Necessary Background Checks

Different job roles will require different kinds of background checks. Whereas a simple reference check can be found for some roles, others that deal with more sensitive information could require a more thorough background check.

Carrying out such checks ensures that the person is right for the role, and no untruths are used as the deciding factor as to whether they should be employed or not. A thorough background check ensures that the right person is hired for the role, and that the role will be carried out with few problems.

What Kind of Contract Will the Employee Have?

The hiring of new staff normally involves a contract, and this will determine what is expected from the employee, and what the business expects from them. It should also highlight what kind of hours they employee will be working, for example, will they will be working full-time or part-time?

The contract should also highlight any procedures that need to be followed in the event of sickness, and how the employee requests a holiday. Having all the relevant information in place before an employee starts work means that both the employee and the company are aware of what’s expected from them.

Registering with HM Revenues and Customs

It is important that a business registers themselves as an employer at the earliest opportunity, and that tax and national insurance are paid at the correct rate in relation to the employee’s earnings.

A business can be subjected to a number of fines and penalties if registration isn’t made and the correct payments aren’t made. It is therefore vital to get this tight in the first instance.

Ensure You Have the Right Kind of Insurance

When hiring employees, it’s important that a business has the right kind of insurance should an employee become injured at work or ill.

A business can also be fined if the right kind of insurance isn’t in place, so again this is very important.

If a business is unsure of what kind of insurance they need, there is often a plethora of advice available, so be sure to take advantage of such advice and ensure you have the right kind of business insurance in place.

Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

The world of social media is a popular one, so much so that it can be difficult for a business to decide on where it stands in the world of social media. There are so many platforms to consider, that it can be a little overwhelming, but taking a step back and factoring in your business model and target audience can make the task in hand that little more straightforward.

Social Media Promotions

It goes without saying that people spend a lot of their time on social networks, so where better to let them know of your business’s promotions.

Many companies make use of social networks when it comes to special offers or one-off promotions. What’s more, many people within a social network are keen to spread the good word, so the right kind of promotion can be generating the right kind of buzz if implemented in the correct way.

Be sure to use relevant content when marketing your business, having something that a customer can interact with is a sure fire way of building trust with them.

Interact with Customers

Not every communication on social networks will be a positive one, but it’s important that a company is able to handle any online queries or complaints professionally.

A business should be looking to answer all queries online promptly, and any complaints should be taken seriously and dealt with in the correct way. Not only is this likely to appease the person who has the complaint initially, but also show the rest of the community that the business is able to take ownership of issues.

Interacting with customers via social networks can be a more informal and prompt way of customers getting the information they want, so prompt communication is key.

Reach Target Audiences

Of course, a business may wish to reach a whole new demographic with its business, and social media makes this possible. Regardless of the platform being used, there is a plethora of ways in which your brand or company can get recognised online.

Facebook will allow a business to promote their page to a fixed demographic and then pay for each like received. Twitter will promote a business using its promoted tweet service. Regardless of the service used, it is important that the page being promoted is optimised in order to yield the best results.

Once people reach your page, they need to be present with content that is deemed relevant. If a visitor is simply directed to page with no interaction, it is unlikely they will be back.

Ensure the page has links to the products or service your business deals with, while still providing access to content that is deemed relevant.

Overall

The world of social media can be made out to be more complicated than it really is. As long as a business is able to provide information about its services and provide viewers with content deemed relevant to them, then an online buzz can be created. Although the service is often paid for, implementing your social media marketing in the correct way can see the business spend less in the long run.