22/04/2014

By Lauren Baldwin, Editor at Bizcrowd

Last week, we asked the Bizcrowd community to share their top business tips with us. We had an amazing response, with tons of really inspiring advice for small business owners. Take a look at the first twenty.

Networking

• When you join a Networking Group or Club, simply be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not as your fellow member will see through that. People buy people who they know, like and trust so be yourself and relax and you can’t go far wrong. Phil Ainley of Flock of Pigs Manchester Ltd.

• If you join a networking group or club as a paid up member for 12 months or more, make sure you’re visible to your fellow members. By visible I mean: turn up to the meetings; meet your fellow members for 121s to find out how you can help them and in turn how they can help you and if there are events and training sessions made available make sure you get involved in them. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” rings true when networking so be visible and you will reap the rewards. Phil Ainley of Flock of Pigs Manchester Ltd.

• For me a very important fact is not to believe that sitting behind a computer talking to the world, connecting with the social media, such as Bizcrowd, Linkedn, Facebook, working the website is enough. You are lulled into a false sense of security/comfort. Getting out and visiting clients and suppliers, putting a face and listening to buyers and sellers is extremely important and when you combine the two you have a huge start, the combination of Technology and old fashion networking keeps you motivated and pays huge dividends. Richard Barclay of Barclay Samson Ltd.

• Talk to everybody about your business….I once found a client from a chance conversation when we met in a queue! Simon Shepherd of Client Marketing Ltd.

General

• My biggest tip is to get help from experts. It’s a huge mistake to think you know everything. Delegate and consult for success. Zarina Naqvi of Maxima Associates

• Set your self a goal each day and stick to it – good luck all. Ian Savage

• 1. Don’t be a busy fool, chase the money, and focus your time management to this end. 2. Focus on the value of your product or service, not price. 3. Compound the value savings over a month or year, when presenting your proposals to the decision makers. 4. And remember turnover is vanity and profit is sanity! Marc Ali of InXpress

• Have a very clear idea of who your ideal customer is, in three dimensions. For the business or organisation, what size, sector and geography are they? For the roles of people you sell to, what function and level are they. This helps you search for them in LinkedIn. And what are their interests, which will help you find LinkedIn groups that they might be members of. MarkStonham of Wurlwind Sales Development

• I’m a great believer in personal development. If you are a leader then you have to set the pace with regard to learning and increasing your knowledge. Reading is an easy way to keep yourself up to date along with joining LinkedIn specialist groups. My old boss used to quote, “Leaders are readers” and he was so right. Ian Hunt.

• I am now retired so it’s not quite as important that I perform at 100%. So each day, Monday to Friday I decide what is the most important thing I need to do on that day and make sure I do it. Anything else is a bonus. It’s working so far. John Young

• Everything takes hard work and dedication, but my “Business Tip” would be *DO YOUR RESEARCH* before you undertake anything and I mean anything….from changing your payment terms to launching a new product, project or service. Our first point in the process is always a Brainstorming Session this results in all the positives and negatives and their relationship to the change all on the same page, so to speak. Tyna Harrison of Gogreen2 Marketing Ltd

• I keep track of the hours I work in a horizontal line on a spreadsheet. When I do an invoice I copy it onto an invoice template using “paste special” then “transpose” which puts it in a vertical column. It’s just as fast as accounting software and saves me hours.Mary Doyle of Cheshire Telemarketing

Finance

• Be proactive with your credit control. If your business operates with a net profit of 4% on sales, one bad debt of just £5,000.00 will mean you have to find additional sales of £125,000.00 to replace the lost profit of that one bad debt. The cost of good credit control procedures will be much cheaper! Kevin Wright of Credit Collections UK Ltd.

• I would say the best business tip is keep a close eye on the costs. Put in the diary a reminder of annual standing orders as you do forget when the annual subscription is due. If you don’t they come out just when you have spent a large amount and put you in overdraft and this could be expensive. Angela Anson of Small Office Support

• Always pay your bills on time that way you will build up a good relationship with your suppliers and they will go that extra mile to give you a better price. Which might just win you that order! Brian Sawbridge of Refrigeration Services

Technology

• Get a Smart Telephone app for your website allowing full appraisal of your page allowing users to gain full access with minimum annoyance. Mine was supplied by Priosym details at www.priosym.com. Peter Brown

• At Vanquish Letting Services Ltd. we like to use Adobe Echosign for our landlord contracts. As long as you have the correct email addresses for everyone who needs to sign the document it’s a pretty easy & powerful tool to use. We create our contract document in Microsoft Word, we then leave spaces where we would like to drop fields in to place, such as a field for our fee, the rental properties full address and signature blocks for the landlord/s and the agent to sign. We then save the Word document as a PDF file. The landlord/s reviews the contract and if happy with the contract they sign it electronically. When all parties have electronically signed the document everyone receives a finished PDF version. It’s fully audited with dates and times of viewing and signing, and you can set up reminders. It saves on postage, printing and time, you can have a fully signed contract in place with all parties having their own copy within minutes. Markin Corkin of Vanquish Letting Services

• For those small businesses who rely heavily on IT to support their needs I offer the following advice to keep your system up and running: Ensure that each of your computers has a unique Recovery Image to restore the system to good working order quickly in the event of a serious Windows crash. Ensure that your data is stored in at least two locations simultaneously and where possible use external devices which can be removed from site out of office hours or use a reliable Cloud company. Ensure each system is well protected with security software. There are many excellent free versions available. I use Panda Cloud anti-virus which protects in real-time and does not rely on periodic updates like many of the well-known retail versions. Be pro-active not reactive.Computech 2000 Computer Services.

• We all know people who are struggling keeping data and colleagues up to date with static spreadsheets, but who don’t necessarily know there is a better solution. Smartsheet is that cloud based winner. It is intuitive, increases team efficiency and job satisfaction is very cost effective and Smartsheet now includes basic Resource Planning. Gwen Rymill of Smarter Business Processes.

• Keep on being PERSISTANT, don’t give up on a potential prospect, you may never know when they are in a position to buy and you could miss the opportunity if you are not in contact with them. Keith Sparshott of WorkSAAS Ltd.

Marketing

• Always measure the results of your marketing activity, either by marketing channel, campaign or month. I use an excel tool that I developed to calculate sales, profit and ROI on all activity and I use the results to identify what works and what is generating the most value. This is an essential discipline for any business that wants to get maximum value from their marketing budget. Kenny Brogan of Momemtum Marketing Consultancy.

Got a tip for us? Inspire other Bizcrowd users by sending it to us:support@bizcrowd.com