Small Business Hints and Tips

Whatever ambitions you have for your business, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a few simple suggestions to get you going. And, if you’d like a little more support or advice, your local business adviser is always there for you.

Manage your cash flow

  • Build a cash flow plan ­– monitor what’s coming in and going out weekly or monthly
  • Put money aside for contingencies – you’ll be in much better shape if customers don’t pay on time, or unexpected costs and shortfalls come up
  • Stress-test your cash flow – for example, if your debtors take an extra 30 days to pay or if your creditors want payment up front, how will this impact your cash flow?
  • Tell suppliers if you need time to pay ­– the earlier you speak, the more flexible they may be
  • Grow your business
    • Keep improving customer experience ­– great service helps you get repeat and new business
    • Stand out from the crowd – try new ways to engage with customers and increase sales
    • Invest in your staff – training and development really can help you grow your business
    • Get the most from your bank – ask your relationship manager for an annual review and make sure you know just what support is available to you
  • Social Media
    • Spread the word – build relevant content people will want to follow and share, on channels like Facebook and Twitter
    • Don’t just focus on sales –customers don’t want a sales pitch every time they log on. Keep your content varied and engaging, for example ‘Send us a selfie with one of our products’
    • Images and hashtags – Facebook posts with images get 87% more shares, 35% more on Twitter. Use hashtags to make it easier for your customers to find, share and engage
    • Build a network of influencers and engage with them – don’t just talk at your audience, talk with them. Invite feedback and encourage advocacy
    • Respond to complaints quickly ­– customers expect a speedy response and the longer you take the more public their dissatisfaction will become
  • Competition
    • Learn from your existing customers – ask who they used before and why they switched
    • Recruit the best staff from your competitors they can often bring all the positive aspects from your competitors and add them to your business
    • Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – and do the same on your competitors, so you get insights and gain a competitive advantage
    • Stay on top of the competition – identify new competitors and new routes to market before your customers do
  • Advertising
    • Develop a marketing plan – work out which advertising will best deliver on your ambitions
    • Be relevant – show insight into your customers’ needs and what interests them
    • Build your brand identity – your customers will recognise your brand better when you consistently use appropriate imagery, logos, colours, typefaces and tone of voice
    • Test your advertising – before going to market, make sure your audience understands the key messages and the advert is making a positive impression on your customer