Client retention and repeat business is an important factor for businesses and it is something that start-ups should strive to get right from the word go. A strong, reputable workforce plays a crucial role in this, yet recruitment can be a difficult area for many start-ups, particularly those on small budgets or in sectors where skills gaps are rife.
These recruitment tips can help start-ups to manage their recruitment strategy so that they operate more efficiently and successfully as a business:
Trainee vacancies will almost always be easier to fill, as there are more candidates seeking positions as they leave university or further education. We definitely see this in the legal sector, where positions such as paralegal or trainee solicitor roles tend to fill more quickly than more senior niche roles. Our specialist legal recruiters have noticed the number of trainee contracts on offer among law firms is now starting to return to pre-recession levels; offering these types of roles can benefit candidates and clients alike.
This approach can be equally effective within other sectors, where a more junior workforce can be particularly useful to smaller companies that are just starting out, helping them to create a full team on a lower budget. However, it is important to invest in training and skills development to ensure that the workforce can compete with other firms that might be able to offer more experienced counterparts.
At the other end of the scale, interims, contractors and freelancers can be a useful talent pool to consider when you are looking to hire. These candidates tend to be extremely experienced and can offer a wealth of expertise to organisations across niche areas.
This more flexible way of working is best suited to businesses that see ebbs and flows in demand for certain specialisms, allowing employers to tap into experts as and when they are needed. The drawback is that these workers can be costly if they become relied upon as a more permanent solution.
A strong employer brand is one of the most useful assets for start-ups battling it out in the war for talent. It is essential to think about what you can offer candidates, as recruitment is a two-way process and those wishing to attract the best talent need to give them something in return.
Candidates will likely be attending a number of interviews, so consider what will make you stand out against other firms that are hiring and be sure to emphasise your unique selling points throughout the hiring process. This is particularly true when you are a small business just starting up and cannot rely on word-of-mouth.
Company websites are often the first port of call for prospective employees, so it is advisable to have a careers section that displays further information about the various roles on offer, as well as shedding light on the team environment and benefits to staff.
"Meet the team" pages are typically among the highest-viewed sections of any site, so ensure these are kept updated and that the content is engaging and dynamic; it will entice people who want to work in an environment where they can see similar personalities to their own, as well as inspiring staff to mimic career paths that they aspire to.
Social media is a vital part of your hiring toolkit and is a useful way to demonstrate the strength of your employer brand. Candidates often head straight to LinkedIn to view recommendations, testimonials and the profiles of their prospective colleagues so it is important to adopt a social media strategy that gives a positive impression across all channels.
Different networks offer their own unique benefits; Twitter is a useful way of showing some personality and interacting with influencers, while Facebook pages tend to be more suited to demonstrating what it is like to work for the company.
A huge benefit that start-ups have over more well-established peers is the opportunity to start afresh on social media, implementing a carefully considered strategy in keeping with the employer brand.
Getting the right people in the business and ensuring they fit the company ethos not only helps staff retention, but ultimately makes for a happier workforce and a better service for your clients.
Copyright © 2016 Amy Bullock, associate director, Sellick Partnership.
When you are setting up a business and are knee-deep in such responsibilities as registering a company name, raising the required capital and launching your first marketing initiative, your choice of business phone number may seem trivial by comparison.
You might think that in today's online world many people don't give a second thought to your business phone number, but the right number can definitely make a difference to your company's fortunes.
Consider, for example, the geographical factor. A YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people across the UK a few years ago found that while 81% of them trusted 'local business', only 57% trusted business as a whole.
That difference might not be a hugely significant one for you if your company takes pride in catering for the whole country anyway, but if most of your customers are in a particular city or county, you may want to ensure that you have a business phone number to match.
Virtual numbers, for example, allow you to use a number associated with a given geographical area, even if your offices are in a different part of the country. But there are many other types of business phone number that you should familiarise yourself with before you make your final choice.
Go to the website of any reputable business phone number provider and you'll see a seemingly wide range of number formats available. So, here's a quick rundown of which ones you should consider and why.
If you are a private business for profit, you can ignore 0300 numbers, which are solely for registered charities and government departments such as the police and NHS. However, other 03 numbers - namely 0333 and 0345 numbers - are available for business use; these numbers having been introduced as an alternative to chargeable 08 numbers such as 0870.
Those 0870 numbers, in turn, should not be confused with the 0800 numbers that are recognised by nine in 10 people as being free to call. Of course, you will still have to incur costs on your side, but the statistics suggest that such numbers more than pay for themselves, given that they attract 185% more responses.
Indeed, there's even better news for both the businesses and customers that use 0800 numbers - since July 2015, they have been completely free to call from both mobile phones and landlines. You may wish to highlight this detail in your marketing communications to help bump up those response rates even more.
Whatever considerations guide your choice of business phone number, you should definitely ensure that you have one. Many companies are launched with a mobile number adorning their business cards, which may be fine at first.
However, as your business grows and potential customers can see on your website that you have a bigger team, they may start to become suspicious if you haven't switched to a fully-fledged business phone number - particularly when it means they have to pay to contact you.
Not only does your chosen business phone number need to be memorable and reflect well on your brand, but it will also need to make financial sense. This is one more reason to look very closely at the overall package offered by your prospective business phone number provider before you make any commitment.
Copyright © 2016 Planet Numbers
If your business has hit a plateau and you're struggling to get to the next level, here are five steps that will help you to reignite the flames of growth within your business.
Firstly, you need to figure out why growth has stalled. Do not guess, find out!
Talk to your staff to get a holistic view of how the company is going and to identify the root cause of why things have slowed down. Ask "why" about everything.
Also ask your current customers about their experience with you. This will give you a clearer idea of where your focus should be. Do you need to improve your customer service or focus on innovation and product development?
A strong vision for your business helps guide your employees towards tasks that will help drive the company's overall success.
Evaluate your vision and check whether it is still relevant to you and your employees. If so, is everyone focused on achieving it? If not, talk to your team and re-evaluate the vision so it provides a sufficient challenge to achieve more, while illuminating a bright future.
Write down your vision. Think about your personal goals first. Most successful companies are those where the business goals are working towards helping the business owner achieve their personal goals. Use this Personal Goals Template if you need a structure.
Different stages of growth in your business will require specific resources; as well as individuals with specific talents.
During the early stages you will need to look for entrepreneurial individuals. However, as your company grows, different types of personalities are needed.
When you experience a slow-down in growth, evaluate the team members and their current roles. Consider running a DiSC assessment to understand their working style and strengths.
Consider what kind of strengths are needed and if you are missing some, then acquire new people to fill those.
When companies first start, one of the tools to success is the ability to adapt. However, if you want to grow, you will need to re-evaluate your organisational structure.
If your structure currently places you, the business owner, in more than one critical position in the company, then you could be inhibiting growth.
As your business gets larger, you will need a clear organisational model in order to allow processes to flow effectively. This allows each employee to have clearly defined roles and accountabilities, so they can perform effectively and understand how they fit into the larger picture.
Testing, measuring, tracking and reporting. These are critical for business growth; I've rarely seen a business grow to great heights without a clear tracking system in place.
Sometimes the reason a business is not growing is because there isn't a system in place to measure that growth.
As the leader of the business, it is up to you to consider and define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your employees. What is the primary metric that determines their performance? How are you tracking this?
You can then get a clearer picture of who is in the right roles, and where there is room for growth - and then adjust your growth strategies so they are aligned with the metrics where your company is currently weakest.
That fiery growth that you experienced in the initial stages of your business may begin to wane. So get it back by taking these five steps and you'll reignite the flames of growth.
Copyright © 2016 Shweta Jhajharia, principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.
Setting up a successful new business is no mean feat; it's easy to prioritise certain things over others to speed up the process. However, when it comes to meeting the legal requirements of starting a business, you cannot afford to let things slide or cut corners as your actions may come back to haunt you in the future.
There are many different legal obligations every business must fulfil when starting out, so it's important to have an understanding of what your responsibilities are from the beginning to ensure your company is always on the right side of the law.
Before you can meet your legal obligations, you must decide what your legal structure is so that you are completing the correct paperwork, paying the right taxes and maximising your profit.
There are three types of structure - sole trader, limited company and business partnership, each with their own set of responsibilities. Choosing the right structure for your business is incredibly important because it will have an impact on the way your business is run. However, you can change structure once you're set up if you think another option will work better.
For more information on each kind of legal structure, including what your duties are, take a look at the Government website.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests that businesses take out certain forms of insurance to protect those working in and visiting a workplace. While not all these policies are legally required, it is advisable to make sure you are sufficiently covered, should something happen.
The types of insurance businesses should consider taking out include:
Employers' liability insurance covers the cost of compensation for claims of injury or illness to employees. It is a legal requirement for all employers in the UK. You must also ensure that the insurer is authorised under the terms of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. You can find out more about your legal obligations here.
Public liability insurance works in the same way as employer cover by allowing claims to be made by customers and members of the public who are injured while on your property or as a result of your business. Although this is not a legal requirement, it is essential for most businesses.
Professional indemnity insurance provides cover if you are accused of providing insufficient advice, services or designs by a client. Although not a legal requirement, this policy will cover the legal costs and expenses associated with building a defence, as well as compensation should you need to rectify a mistake.
All businesses take care of their own responsibilities when it comes to paying tax, and it is essential that you keep up to date with your taxes right from the start or you could be hit with penalties.
Registering for Value Added Tax (VAT) is often overlooked by new business owners because they often think that the VAT threshold, which is currently £83,000, is related to profit rather than turnover. This is not the case. If you believe your annual sales will exceed £83,000 then you must register and charge for VAT on all goods sold. To read more about VAT, visit the Government website.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) carries out investigations to ensure you are paying the right amount of tax. These investigations are unavoidable and can either be triggered randomly or due to suspicions of malpractice. If you fail to keep on top of your accounts and tax returns, this process can be lengthy and you may be left with a fine or face prosecution.
To avoid penalties and time wasting, be sure to share all your records with inspectors and ensure that you get advice from a qualified accountant.
Businesses that handle personal information have a responsibility to adhere to strict rules laid out in the Data Protection Act. These regulations state that data is used fairly in a way that protects people's rights. Examples of personal and sensitive data include:
Failure to comply with data protection laws can incur hefty fines and tarnish your reputation with customers; deliberate breaches can also result in imprisonment. To find out your responsibilities for protecting personal data, take a look at the Government website.
Complying with legislation may be a mundane task that you are tempted to deal with at a later time. However, if you fail to comply with the law at the right time, it will have a detrimental effect on your start-up.
Copyright © 2016 Jonathan Wall, a Lawyer at Burton Copeland, a criminal and regulatory law firm based in Manchester.
I was in your shoes. Two years ago, I decided to create a PR agency from scratch and it has made a profit. We have had 31 contracts, I pay staff and my turnover is sizeable.
Everyone’s evaluation of business success is different. Some people don’t turn a profit for ten years, some make a million in a month and some lose money. But success is nothing if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.
I love PR. I like networking, meeting new people, achieving the unachievable for a client, making clients happy by getting them amazing press coverage, fantastic event production, creating fish-hook press releases, attracting celebrity attended events, building influencer branding partnerships, making video concepts that go viral and enhancing someone’s personal profile or their company’s reputation in the media. And you know what? We achieve things other agencies don’t because we understand social media, social trends, social hacker marketing, what makes something go viral and how to make a long lasting trusted brand
But let’s take a look at your start-up. Whether you are just at the idea stage or have already launched a business, let’s figure out if you have what it takes to make it a resounding success.
Traditionally, small business owners have relied on banks to give them small business loans and lines of credit to manage operational costs and invest in growth.
However, in recent years, the finance industry has evolved and gone in new directions; there are now many options open to small business owners that are looking for working capital.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether a bank or online lender is the best source for your small business loan:
Since the financial crisis of 2008, banks have been slow to resume lending to small businesses and lending hasn't reached the levels achieved before the crash. This is partly due to regulatory obligations - many big banks are required to keep more capital on their books and they are reducing the amount they lend to small businesses as a result.
Some banks are also reluctant to lend the smaller amounts of money that many small businesses prefer to borrow - so as a result, there is a funding gap in the market; many business owners want a size of loan that big banks are not willing to make.
The past few years have also seen significant growth in the fintech industry - with new technologies being developed to make financial services more efficient.
By using these new technologies, online lenders are becoming more efficient in evaluating borrowers and issuing small business loans with automated processes. For example, instead of looking at credit scores like a traditional bank, online lenders can use different types of data such as social media activity, logistics information and online sales totals to decide whether a business is credit-worthy.
Fintech has helped online lenders reduce costs and offer loans to a broader pool of start-ups and small businesses that might not have qualified for a loan under the traditional standards of bank lending.
The traditional process for getting a small business loan involves going to the bank, meeting with a loan officer and filling out paperwork. Online lenders offer a more streamlined, convenient process to help small business owners get quick decisions about their loan application, with no paperwork required.
Small business owners don’t need to feel limited to the standards and expectations of the bank lending process. Today, more than ever, small business owners have options to get the working capital that they need to help their businesses grow.
Sponsored post. Copyright © 2016 Kabbage Online Small Business Loans.