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  • How does the use of social media influence smaller businesses Nov 21, 2018

    The influence and power of social media in today’s society is no longer disputed and it’s now hard to imagine life without these various platforms that connect people from all over the world. As of the beginning of 2018; there are 4 billion internet users, so that’s effectively 4 billion different people one user could potentially connect with. Active social media users make of 3.2 billion of entire internet users.

    With this number in mind, is it any wonder that the majority of business are tapping into this platform and trying to seek commercial gain from this. The use of social media is here to stay and there is no sign that its huge influence on society will slow down any time soon.

    There will have been many business owners who will have asked themselves this question over and over; ‘can the use of social media actually do anything good for my company’? And too be honest it’s probably a valid question, because business owners can often react this way to something ‘new’ and ‘different’. If other marketing avenues are working, then I guess ‘if it aint’ broke then don’t fix it?’ Perhaps, but possibly not.

    As consumers are now spending more and more time on social media, these platforms then become the main source for product and brand information. As a company or a brand; potential buyers may go looking for you on these main platforms and then give up if they don’t find you, and then fall straight into the arms of a competitor.

    It’s not just that the use of social media is an effective and powerful tool in seeking new visitors to your website and customers. The use of social media is just as use for developing brand loyalty and engaging with customers as much as possible. A company which has a more dynamic social media presence will likely retain and improve users interactive with each social media platform.

    Statistically, the age bracket that has the has buying power is the age range between 18-34, with this age range most likely to be influenced to make the purchase because of some form of social media interaction. Companies simply cannot underestimate the social and cultural influence that social media has within (particularly) this age bracket, and as brands they have to be as relatable as possible to the consumer.

    In other words, companies shouldn’t be driven to involve themselves with social media, because it’s the popular and ‘in’ thing to do. Like any marketing activity, the time and resource spend on the activity should generate impact and ultimately return on investment.

    We may now be at a point where it’s simply commercial disadvantageous for companies to have no social media presence. The risk and probable reality of missing out on custom due to this precise reason makes no sense to a company in ever competitive markets. The significance of commercial social media influence is only going one way, and there’s certainly no room for missing out!
  • Common mistakes when expanding your business Sep 17, 2018

    Every business owner wants to grow and expand at some point but this can be something hard to achieve if it’s not done properly. Some people may rush into making decision and therefore taking the wrong approach to how things will be managed. The thrill of starting something from scratch and seeing it grow can be exciting although it’s a long process and precautions have to be taken.

    The hardest aspect for every business is growth; as this is because you have to build up your customer base and make your brand known to the public, which can be time consuming.

    You might think that at the beginning your company is not doing well although when a company is formed, and there are a lot of expenses and these are not paid off immediately as you will not have a customer base, although with time you will manage to slowly start increasing your sales and from there having a profit which can then be invested back into your business.

    Something that you want to avoid for your business is to have stagnant capital, meaning that you have a lot of capital or assets although you are not investing them into your business and therefore it is harder for your businesses to grow and expand.

    Dropping your guard isn’t really an option during periods of growth — getting the process right, and putting practices in place to help you manage risk is essential if you’d like your company to be around in the long term. Fortunately, there are ways to help you prepare for these events that might set back your company.

    Here’s four of the most common mistakes business make when expanding:

    Cash flow:

    Cash flow is pivotal in a business because it gives you an overview of where your money is being invested and where your main sources of income are coming from.

    Most businesses will overlook this step and this means that they will not be managing their capital properly and therefore will not be able to make good investments as they will not know where there are opportunities to invest their money in. Having a detailed cash flow will prevent you from forgetting payments and also to look out for all of the ‘hidden’ payments that a company can have such as utility bills or rent.

    By having an accurate and up to date cash it will make it easier for you to notice any changes in your expenses or to pick out new opportunities of where to invest your money, and can be noticed as there would be a big return of capital on that specific section.

    Employees are often the most expensive resource within a business. Sure, there’s their wages, but there also the costs of their NI, their computer, their desk and chair, etc. If you hire someone on a £25,000 salary, in total, for instance, they’re likely to cost you more towards the £35,000 mark.

    Although employees can be very expensive they can also be very valuable for a business. This can be because if you consider the return on capital per employee, they should be making around 5 times the amount of money back to you and if they are a sales person they should be making around 10 times as much. Getting this part right is paramount — the worst thing you can do is to make them feel undervalued, because then they’ll leave, and your business will definitely could then feel the strain.

    Not fully understanding the sheer effort needed to effectively manage a company

    This might not be true for everyone although some people might be confused on how to successfully run a business day to day. Knowing every detail and all of the legislations can be hard to remember and time consuming to learn although it crucial if you want your business to succeed and expand.

    It was recently reported that over a third of Britain’s smallest business owners aren’t aware of the rules of VAT, and so may be at legal risk. As many as 780,000 microbusinesses are completely in the dark about the VAT threshold, as well as their obligations to collect sales tax and report details to HMRC. The solution? Read, learn, or seek out help from a professional who knows their stuff.

    When you’re starting up for the first time, it’s true that you don’t know what you don’t know. Whilst the ‘learn as you go’ philosophy can be as enriching as it can be stressful, a lack of knowledge can also be the discerning factor that causes your business to go under.

    No focus on customer acquisition:

    Every business owner can have good ideas although these ideas have to welcomed by their customers and sometimes this can be hard to achieve. When owning a business, you have to take into consideration that your customers are your priority and fulfilling their needs is what you have to aim for this is because without customers you wouldn’t have a company.

    Your business will not last if you don’t fulfil their needs and listen to their recommendations because they are the ones using your products and services.

    It’s certainly best to be knowledgeable on understanding basic principles of marketing (how will you be able to afford someone to do it for you if you aren’t bringing in any profit to start with?), and putting dedicated sales strategies in place to directly target customers.

    Are you reaching your customers online, or will you need to advertise to local community members about your new shop? How will you build relationships with them, and demonstrate the value of what you’re offering? These are all huge questions, but need to be considered, and answered in the depth they deserve if you want to draw in the right people and make them loyal customers to your company.

    Not having the correct investment:

    Investments can be risky for small companies because you would be putting your company on the line as it can go either way. Although by making the right investments can be a huge advantage for small businesses as it could make them prosper and grow.

    Different companies have different needs and you have to figure out what your business needs and what could be beneficial for you in the future. Having shareholders in a business can be advantageous as they can bring new ideas into the business as well as investing their money and making sure that the business will keep on growing and expanding.
  • Branding your Social media platforms Sep 17, 2018

    Social media, when used correctly can be very efficient mainly because it can target a great number of people at the same time and it is very cost effective tool of marketing your company.

    A common mistake that are made when dealing with social media is companies not following their brand all the way through to their social media and this is something that you have to be looking into because keeping the same brand will make sure customers will recognise it when scrolling through their social media or when looking at your website.

    When customers look into a business they not only look at your website, they will probably look into your social media pages also, and this will add to their opinion of your businesses because they will see if your social media is kept up to date and is reflecting your brand.

    Social media pages and websites are usually easier to find and therefore most people will do their research on there, so something that you should be including on your social media is all the product or services you offer as well as having special deals to bring more people into looking at your social media which will then lead them onto your website and increase the organic traffic that your company gets online.

    Look at your back-ground images:

    Images can have a powerful impact on someone’s opinion, therefore the images that you will posting on your social media platform have to always follow a style and have to reflect your brand. This is not only the images that you are posting but also the colours that are in the pictures have to be reflecting the colours that your business uses.

    Another aspect to note is having visual coherence between your website and your social media, because when customers are browsing through your website they will be likelier to recognise your social media is they look the same.

    A mistake that companies can make is not aligning their main website and their social media sites to two different designs, which can likely make their customers disassociate the social media profile from their company therefore making it harder to target customers and create a brand image.

    Pay attention to your profile photographs:

    Your profile picture on social media can determine if a customer will click on your website or will keep scrolling, as this is a means of identification as people will base their opinion of someone or a company on just their profile picture. If this is something that looks professional and related to your brand, customers are likelier to look into your social media page and the chances of them accessing your website will increase.

    A sensible option is to upload as a business would be a logo of the company as this will be recognised by your customers and they will know where to look to find your social media pages. Never skip the step of uploading a profile picture as companies who don’t have them will get up to 70% less traffic and attention than the ones that do, and this can be a drastic difference for a small company.

    Listen to your brand’s voice:

    Every company and brand have a voice and this is the way that your company communicates with your customers.

    This works the same way as the images and profile pics they all have to reflect your overall company image. Therefore, if your social media reflects a friendly and casual brand then it has to be reflected in the way you communicate with your customers.

    This also works if your social media is more professional, you would still have to reflect this in the way you communicate with your customers. mixing up the way you communicate with your customers will confuse them and this will make you less professional so your customer might lose trust. Being consistent with your social media is important and this can be achieved by having a small team looking after your social media as this will be easier to manage, so you will stick to the same brand image.

    Be aware of competitors:

    Always research your competitors to see what activities they are doing and what marketing techniques they are using to promote their products. This can be beneficial for your business as you could incorporate one of the techniques that your competitors use.

    Post updates that remain true to your brand:

    Making sure that you keep your updates branded is also important, as this will make sure you keep the branding persistent throughout all social media platforms having the same format so your customers can start assimilating your brand with your company.

    Your customers will like your company because they will like the products or services you offer therefore keeping everything the same will make it easier for your customers to like your social media and get more known.
    furamadanang likes this.
  • What's in the name Jun 19, 2018

    There’s no escaping it or any need to play down the importance; but a name is crucial to the company itself and it can likely be significant in the perception and growth of a company. In other words; the name can effectively make or break a company and subsequently will require careful consideration and selection.

    It may seem like a typically trivial aspect, but it has to be absolutely right and suit the company’s activities, ethos and vision. You certainly don’t want to be faced with a large cost of having to alter and rebrand, because you weren’t happy with your choice of name. It should be perfect for you right away.

    Bluntly speaking; the design of the name is the foundation of the marketing and communication output of the given company. It’s the starting and focal point of identification and brand awareness. Subtleties in name can make a difference, and particularly for a small company referring to localities can have a positive effect in the overall image of the company. However, this may need to be revaluated in the long term if there were expansion plans, for example.

    Generally speaking; to have a strong and relatable brand name can typically take a lot of reinforcement and careful strategy to secure this and doesn’t necessarily happen by accident. Take Apple or Google for example. The words isolated don’t really have much value, they’re just words. But years and years of branding, communication and reinforce have turned them into some of the most commonly aware words. They have become immensely relatable in their own right, and now effectively synonymous in their respective industries (particularly Google).

    Relationships between company and customer can be dictated by first impressions, so a powerful impact is necessary to get off on the right foot. Most of us are aware that the average industry is competitive, and small companies may struggle to full capital in differentiating themselves. But a well-designed company name can make you stand out from the crowd. It’s also effectively a free form of marketing output for your company. Every little helps! (As I’ve heard somewhere).

    Observing a more strategically and pragmatic perspective; it’s always advantageous to create a name that’s web-friendly and specific and searchable within your industry. The right name can be worth a lot to your company, and can be a great tool in building a web strategy and ultimately make it easier for your target audience to reach you.

    Ultimately, when choosing your company name it’s beneficial to look at the chosen name from two perspectives. You should of course be comfortable yourself with the name, it should reflect and summarise the company appropriately.

    Also, you should look from an outside-in perspective as if you were prospective customer or investor, and evaluate how attractive and credible the company looks from that point of view. Put yourself in a different, no biased position to really understand how viable and effective your company name is
  • Location, Location, Location May 29, 2018

    Does your company (or soon to be set up company) have a physical point of sale location?

    We have identified 6 key aspects that we believe you should consider in relation to your company. Location is key, and many finer details of your company’s activities and branding should reflect and tie into how and where the point of sale is finalised.

    1. Type of operation. The location of your company should be consistent with your company’s particular image and style. You should settle on a consistent brandling guideline, with every aspect of your company tying into this in some way.
    2. One of the first aspects you should think about when setting up a company (if not the first) is considering who your customers are, and their proximity to your location and business activities. Keeping in mind the local/regional population is key to developing and expansion of your business. This will be key if you were to use direct marketing as a tool.
    3. Footfall and reach. Can people easily find you and access your business/shop? How many people pass through your business, can customers find you easily, is the business location well connected? Certainly some questions to think about.
    4. This is inevitable. But who doesn’t want a bit of friendly competition? You should have a good idea of which other companies are located nearby. An example is that you would need to know if the local/regional area is saturated with similar businesses/offerings, or equally if there is an opportunity to offer something new. On the flipside, you could also benefit from existing businesses, as they will bring in customer traffic.
    5. Does the actual building(s) add value to your business and offering, can you use this as a tool in your marketing and branding? A fairly common example is for businesses to tie in their building or immediate area into something well known in that region – brand aware could then increase exponentially.
    6. Utilities and costs. This will go without saying, but rent and property costs, will comprise a significant part of your expenditure. Reviewing the earlier points in this article, if you want the ideal location and significant footfall, it will ultimately come at a large investment.
  • Strengthening your brand equity May 11, 2018

    How important is brand value for the average small business? Well this is dependent on a number of aspects, but it’s telling that the average business owner will recognise the importance of standing out in the crowd and showing identifiable elements of that business.

    You may have heard from us here mentioning before the importance and emphasis on differentiating your business, regardless of what industry you operate in. It’s also good to understand and know how much you value your company.

    Okay; so let’s work on the basis that you’ve formed your company. You identified what strengths your business possesses, but how are these enhanced to ultimately grow your business? But what does a strong brand equity provide you as a company? Maybe a lack of rationality and unconditional appreciation from your customers? Well that’s certainly swayed more to the more extreme, however the element of competitive advantage is something you should focus your attention to, and work towards.

    So let’s start with an obvious factor, your products or services. It is absolutely vital to provide quality to retain customer, and build up a good reputation. You will find that ultimately, you will effectively have to live and die by the quality of your products & services, in the grand context of your company’s lifespan.

    Theoretically, a strongly built brand will withstand and adapt to market shifts. Whether this be social, economic or political shifts, a strong brand should be fully adaptable, and susceptible to changing quickly. This aspect will always revert back to understanding customers, and then understanding them some more!

    Simply put, it’s best to establish an identity, and build your brand around it. Sticking with this identity is ideal; as when markets shift, you won’t want to have alienated your target audience by trying to overdo the targeting.

    Perception is key. Your audience needs to know your philosophy and communicational output. It’s also just as important to reinforce this too. Make sure you know in your mind what you want your branding image (and overall branding) to be and then subsequently model your other business operations around this.

    Think of your brand as one of your most important assets, and the leading sales tool of your business. Be in control of what your customers know, and when it comes to social and consumer trends; be proactive and not reactive!

    A thoroughly positive view of your brand must be projected into the minds of your customers. Being meticulous with every aspect of your marketing outlay is advantageous; as the wrong message at the wrong time and unbalanced marketing campaign can cause doubt with customers and ultimately lose you custom. Communication, communication and communication. And then speak with your customers some more!
    xboft likes this.
  • Your guide to shares within a Limited company May 1, 2018

    Hi all,

    As a company registration agent, we often get asked questions about this topic. I thought this might provide some quick useful information for any of you.

    Every limited company that is formed in the UK must contain at least one share. This is effectively an allocation or percentage of ownership within a company. The process of forming a company which is limited by shares is very straightforward, and as there is limited financial liability of this specific structure, the risk is ultimately minimalized in comparison to other company structures.

    But how are the shares organised and how is the value calculated? Well first you will need to view the breakdown of share capital.

    What is share capital?

    The share capital in simple terms, is the total value of all the shares added up. A common scenario is allocating 1 share at £1 to an individual to enable the total share capital to be £1. This is the amount of money that is invested by the shareholders in exchange for shares or ownership.

    Shareholders will then exercise how their company will be structured and managed. Newly formed limited companies aren’t liable to specify their total share capital, instead needing to deposit an initial statement of capital. This can be updated when the new shares are issued.

    In the first instance upon incorporation, shares are allotted to members or shareholders. Following this, new shares can allotted to existing or new members (but this must be in accordance to the Articles of Association and confirmation by the directors).

    Each different type of share class has its own rights and conditions association with it. The common class involved with many limited companies are ‘ordinary shares

    What are the different types of share class available?

    Ordinary shares

    There are no special rights or restrictions attached to them, these are the most commonly issued shares. It also offers both equal voting rights and profit entitlement.

    Preference shares

    Individuals who hold these shares will be paid annual dividends by the company, before other shareholders are paid.

    Cumulative preference shares

    Very similar to preference shares, however this allows the company to carry forward dividends payments in one given year.

    Redeemable shares

    This is where shares can be bought back by the company (having been agreed prior) after a certain period of time or equally on a particular date.

    How many shares should I issue?

    This is a fully subjective and circumstantial question as it will depend on the situation and structure of the company. If a company is hoping to grow and may wish to raise capital in the future; then it would be beneficial to issue more shares when incorporating the company. Round numbers such as 10 & 100 are favourable as it allows easier percentage splits with shareholders.

    To issue shares after incorporation; you would need to complete a SH01 form which is submitted to Companies House. Included within this form is generic company information, the date of share allotment, the statement capital and prescribed particulars.

    We appreciate there may be a wide range of queries that are involved with shares within your limited company, and we are pleased to be able to offer expert guidance and discuss with you
    anything about your current structure, or any changes you would like to make.

    By Set up a Company -
  • The value of branding.. Apr 27, 2018

    In Layman’s terms; a brand is a way of defining the business to yourself, your colleagues and your target audience.

    Creating and developing a brand is imperative for any business whether it’s a long standing global enterprise or a small start-up. This is one of the foundations of gaining competitive advantage. Branding is commonly the area which is neglected by smaller businesses, as it’s not necessarily or always treated as an activity or resource with immediate financial benefit. This is a fairly understandable approach as priorities within a smaller business are likely to be more directed towards managing financial day to day activities rather than marketing output.

    The philosophy of branding can also be defined by simply establishing what makes your business different to the next one; and how your unique selling points tie into your business ethos. In other words; why do customers choose your business over the next one?

    An emotional connection between consumer and brand typically are associated with larger companies and their extensive marketing campaigns; but this can be applied to all sizes of businesses and can be equally as effective. This can lead to consumer advocacy and loyalty, which in time will more than likely contribute to a substantial percentage of revenue. Subsequently the price you set can be protected during times of competitors driving promotional discounts to attack market share and steal your custom.

    When evaluating your brand, it’s important to consider if your overall company ethos aligns with your communication strategy with customers. You shouldn’t allow any conflict between communication and brand perception, as this could alienate a segment of your customer base.

    In a particularly competitive industry, a strong brand can provide a business with tangible value over its competitors. It may take a substantial period of time to reinforce and add value to the brand, but being creative can give you that edge when it comes to the marketplace, as well as ensuring you thoroughly listen to your customer’s feedback.

    The value and impact of branding to each organisation is typically ambiguous; but significantly highlighting your company’s selling points and communicating them out is not just one of the most important aspects of your marketing; but of your business operation.
  • How can I set up a company in the UK as a non resident? Apr 27, 2018

    So first and foremost to avoid any potential confusion, non-UK residents from anywhere in the world can form a private limited company here in the UK, and your legal obligations are exactly the same as if you were a UK resident. It’s a simplistic process, and a significant proportion of the UK’s private economy is supported by non-domestic investment.

    We want our customers to be as familiar with the process and feel as comfortable as possible when preparing to incorporate a company here. Listed below are four aspects of the process which we advise our customers to view and understand as best as possible.

    1. A limited company is a separate legal entity to yourself. The company is liable to any financial issues occurred, as opposed to the individual themselves. If you own the company you have significant control over what the entity does with its money.

    2. Corporation Tax. You will need to register as soon as you start trading. You should also keep accounting records and prepare your company tax return to calculate how much Corporation Tax you need to pay. There is no set bill for this tax, there are specific activities you must do to calculate, pay and report your tax.

    3. Filing responsibilities. It’s a director’s responsibility to ensure all the correct documentation is filed with Companies House and HMRC on time. Included is the Confirmation Statement, which keeps details such as the main shareholders and directors.

    4. Shares in your business. The number of shares held by each member determines what proportion of the company they own and control. They are referred to as shareholders. These individuals will receive a percentage of company trading profits.

    As soon as you begin the application form you have access to our specially designed customer portal, where additional services are available to further tailor your incorporation requirements.

    Our website here is filled with useful information to help your knowledge with the process and industry.