Author Archives: Andrew Issott

Making the move from freelance to small business owner

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Can you transform your freelancer operation into a registered small business…

At some point many freelancers think life would be easier if they were running as a small business. Whether that’s because they’re getting enough work to be employed five days a week, 50 weeks a year, or they feel they’ll never be taken seriously while working from their bedroom.


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Using the LinkedIn Advanced Search to Fill Open Company Roles

LinkedIn is a social media platform that is made for professionals. It has many features that businesses can use effectively – not only for their marketing agendas but also when searching for new and competent employees.

One of its great features is the “Advanced” search option that gives a structured format of data from a specified search result, without combining everything into your keyword query.
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7 Things you should know about a Virtual Office

In general, the UK’s workforce commutes or drives to work wearing corporate attire. However, through technological advancements and the Internet, working has become easier. Technology has enabled us to connect with colleagues and clients, regardless of the distance.

Did you know that 65% of corporate UK is already engaged in remote office work? Working in a virtual office is currently on-trend.

7 reasons to have a virtual office

Existing purely in cyberspace, here are some other relevant facts about virtual offices:

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Can a virtual office in London really help your business image?

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If you want to make headway in the tough world of business then you need to ensure you have a strong business image. You might be working from a tiny office in your home but do you really want a prestigious client knowing this? This is where a virtual office London may be able to help.

A virtual office London will mean that your mail all goes to a specified address that you can choose. This looks good from the client’s perspective as it gives the impression you have a business address in a prestigious area. This is likely to provide far more confidence in your company than an address in a non-descript suburb. It ensures that all your business mail is collated in one place and ensures you have a regional presence in your desired area without necessarily being there yourself.

If you need to organise a business meeting (or need some quiet time) then the benefit of a virtual office London is that you can hire it out on an ad-hoc basis. This again provide a strong, professional business image to clients and ensures you have a base in your desired region.

Another benefit of using a virtual office is the fact you have the opportunity to use call answering services. This means that you are not plagued by phone calls all day and instead you can get on and do work. It also means if you are on the phone, you do not run the risk of a missed call which could ultimately lead to missed business. You will in effect have a personal secretary so they will be able to answer the phone to your specification and stop things such as unwanted sales calls reaching you. Call answering services will give the impression to clients that you are based in your virtual office as calls can be transferred to you by the call answering service. This again serves to build confidence in your business and suggests that it is prospering within today’s tough industry.

As you’re not having to pay overheads for an office or for full time staff it leads to a positive cost implication. The money that you save can then be put towards a marketing campaign which will further enhance your business image and bring your company to the forefront of its field.

If you are interested in the benefits a virtual office London could bring to your business then do not hesitate to contact Velocity Virtual. They have a number of prestigious London virtual office addresses and also addresses in other UK locations such as Bristol and Reading. They can organise for you to work at these addresses if you need some quiet time. Velocity Virtual also run call answering services for your business. This means they can provide a full package of virtual office services or alternatively just the elements you require.

Keeping Up Appearances: The Demise of Productivity

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We are all familiar with the traditional sense of time management, but how often do we manage a task by giving it an allotted amount of time, and in doing so, fulfil it productively?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that employees who have the highest productivity are also the ones that work the least hours. With effective jobs lists, swift completion of tasks and good time management, we should all be able to set realistic time frames for our work and stick to them.
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Giving green a go

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In 1973, years before anyone had heard the term global warming, German insurance giant Munich Re conducted its own study of the effects of climate change. Today, the firm recycles three-quarters of their paper, publishes environmental indicators on its website, and is heading for complete carbon neutrality by 2015.

 

Munich Re proves that it’s possible to put environmental policy at the heart of a business and still remain a large and competitive company. However, not everyone has enough time and money to undertake a huge investigation into global warming. So, what can smaller firms do?

 

The first step is to turn the lights off. According to the Carbon Trust, lighting accounts for between 20 and 50 per cent of total energy consumed in commercial buildings. So, ensuring the lights are off at the end of the day will make a big difference. Similarly, modern LED lights achieve energy savings of between 70 to 80 per cent of old tungsten models. They are not always cheap to install, but the investment tends to pay off over time – the Carbon Trust cite a small hotel who spent £22,000 upgrading 80 lights, but who are now saving £6,600 annually on their energy bill.

 

Another easy option is recycling. This reduces the amount of waste going to landfill, while recycling of paper reduces some of the pressure responsible for deforestation. However, recycling isn’t just good for the environment – it can pay too. Several companies and websites exist which allow firms to sell their recyclable waste.

 

Next, audit your travelling. While face-to-face meetings are important, they are not always necessary, and unless you travel everywhere by bike, the journeys create emissions – not to mention cost money and reduce the time you have available to do actual work. Instead, see if you can cut the amount of face-to-face meetings, replacing them with conference calls or even video conferencing (a solution made far cheaper by the advent of Skype, Facetime and similar solutions).

 

What links these solutions together is that they are not simply good for the environment – they can help your business too. The best green policies should be a virtuous circle which promote sustainability while helping the company. That’s a good enough reason for all SMEs to give green a go.

 

Posted by the Secret Businessman

What is a brand?

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/brand/ n: a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product.

According to the dictionary definition anyway. However, there is much more to a brand than this. A brand exists in the mind of the consumer – it is the culmination of the experiences and beliefs a consumer has that causes them to respond in a particular way to the product, price or communications.

For any company, small or large, it is important to remember that building a brand is not as simple as adding a logo or coming up with a funky name. You need to define what your company stands for, develop this throughout the business and evaluate its success. Commonly a brand is defined on different levels:

Core values: this defines what your brand stands for, its belief system and a way of working.

Benefits: these are both the emotional and functional benefits for consumers. For example, if I buy a Chanel handbag the functional benefit is a well-made handbag that I can use day to day, the emotional benefit however, is that I feel stylish.

Personality: whatever your brand personality is, it is how the brand should be presented at every point of communication – whether that be the website or customer service centre.

Positioning: this is how the brand compares to competitors. Going back to the Chanel example – my Chanel bag makes me more stylish than if I was carrying a Primark one.

Once a brand is out in the public eye, it is up to consumers to make their own assumptions about it based on each individual experience. When done properly, the rewards are clear – brand equity creates value above and beyond the actual output value of a company.

But if you don’t deliver on your brand values, you could get into hot water. A prime example is the rebranding exercise the part of the Royal Mail undertook over a decade ago to change its name to Consignia. A backlash ensued, forcing it to go back on the name change. The real problem was in the customer service, not the name and logo.

In Aristotle’s words: the whole is greater than the sum of all parts. If you’re a small business embarking on a branding exercise, before doing so, think about what you want your company or product to stand for and make sure this is mirrored throughout every interaction with customers. Know your values, train your staff and stay true to what you mean. If you don’t, you won’t be fooling anyone.

 

Posted by the Secret Businessman

Working the room

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Networking is essential for any business, but for entrepreneurs and start-ups it can be especially important. Meeting new people expands your network to create new business opportunities, gain referrals, find new employees, generate ideas, open doors previously closed to you and keep you up-to-date with changes in the market. All of which are key to business success.

However, too often people make excuses. We’d probably all be lying if we said we’ve never felt daunted by the prospect of entering a room full of strangers. We’re also probably all guilty of spending at least one event speaking to our colleagues instead of all the new business prospects in the room.

So how can you overcome this fear and work the room effectively? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Arrive early. Being fashionably late only means you’ll enter a room full of strangers already in full networking swing. Being first on the scene actually gives you more control.

Read the room – Business networking specialist, Will Kintish, says there’s only ever six types of groups in the room. He recommends targeting people on their own, ‘open 2s’ and ‘open 3s’ as they are usually the most welcoming.

Find common ground – Just as in social circles, the easiest way to strike up rapport is to find something you have in common. Remember you’re all in the room for a reason – the event may have a theme so ask about this, and if not go for something simple like ‘where have you come from today’.

Be interested – Don’t go on about yourself – it’s boring. Instead, ask plenty of questions and engage with people. This also helps you quickly identify whether they’re the right person to talk to.

Don’t be rude – But do put a stop to conversations that aren’t useful for your business. You’re always going to get caught in dead-end conversations at some point, but always be polite and respectful.

Follow up – Whether it’s phone, email or LinkedIn, always follow up. After all, what’s the point in going through all this hard work if you’re not going to take the next step?

Networking doesn’t have to be scary – it can even be fun. At the end of the day, people buy from people. So if you’re looking for new business opportunities, it’s important you become adept at coming across as being at ease (even if you don’t feel it inside) with people you don’t know. Give yourself a pep-talk, remember these key rules and go and have some fun. And if it doesn’t go perfectly the first time? That’s ok, there’s always next time!

Posted by the Secret Businessman