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13 more things you could have learned from our blog in 2013

January 02, 2014 by Guest Blogger

13 more things you could have learned from our blog in 2013/13{{}}1 “Being your own business cannot be improved by unnecessary physical ‘accoutrements’, so think carefully about any purchases you think you need to make because you’re now ‘a business’”

From Three things to avoid in your first year of business

2 “In the UK, anyone can call themselves ‘an accountant’ – even if they aren’t qualified. So, ensure that the one you choose is suitably qualified and part of the relevant professional body”

From How to choose the right accountant for your business

3 “Spend 30 minutes each day thinking. It seemed to work for Bill Gates. He’s reported to have spent one month every year thinking up ideas for his business”

From Give your business the best chance of surviving when times are tough 

4 “Managers make sure that everything is controlled properly; leaders create the vision, the enthusiasm and the passion. The best leaders are those who inspire and create followers”

From The difference between management and leadership?

5 “It's funny how the best ideas can come to you by accident – literally, in my case”

From How my business Tots To Travel was born

6 “Let’s be honest, a boring, drab, dark office has never inspired anyone to do anything”

From How to make your office more creative

7 “Think about issues that people are faced with every day and write them down. Helping to solve such problems could enable you to come up with some excellent ideas”

From Seven steps all start-ups should take

8 “Look for a business mentor to help you stay on track and advise if things get tough”

From How to balance a new business and your family - without losing your sanity

9 “In 1919 a man called Jack Cohen decided to sell more than just syrup and fish paste. He started selling tea and laid the foundations for what we now know as Tesco”

From Three mistakes many start-ups make

10 “Nobody wants to think that what you thought was the perfect hire could result in a costly tribunal case, but one in six disputes do – at an average cost of £9,000”

From What key obligations do businesses have to their employees?

11 “According to Experian, there are some 900,000 businesses in the UK that have real potential to start exporting and yet they are still only serving the UK market at the moment”

From Does your business have export potential?

12 “Never sit back and admire what you’ve achieved – look forward to what’s next. Have the courage of your convictions and think about what you need to do to reach new markets”

From My advice to start-ups and small firms – Ed Reeves of Moneypenny

13 “Up to £150 per head of the cost of holding a Christmas party is an allowable tax deduction and VAT can also be recovered on staff entertaining expenditure”

From How your business can avoid Christmas party pitfalls

Thank you to our sponsors for their support last year. Many thanks also to the experts who shared their knowledge and provided content that ensures this blog remains a popular source of information, advice and inspiration. A big ‘Thank You’ also to our ever-growing list of partners – we look forward to working with you this coming year and beyond.

Finally, a massive ‘Thank You’ to all our readers in 2013. Whether you were thinking of starting your own business and were looking for inspiration or were starting your own business and needed advice, we hope you found what you were looking for.

Happy New Year and here's to a superb 2014…

Further reading

13 things you could have learned from our blog in 2013

December 12, 2013 by Mark Williams

13 things you could have learned from our blog in 2013{{}}1 “Ensuring that your target market can find your website is essential to making your new business work and SEO [search engine optimization] is core to that”

From 10 tips for starting an online business

2 “Part of the job of running your own business is figuring out how you can get ahead of the game. You need to have processes or systems that can focus on you finding cuter/smarter/cleverer ways of doing things”

From The business benefits of a weekly sort-out

3 “From the moment you meet your potential customer think about how you are going to close the deal. Always greet them with a smile and form a relationship. People will rarely sign a deal with someone they don't like or respect”

From 3 essential tips on how to close a deal

4 “The lack of a simple ‘thank-you’ means six-in-ten employees do not feel they are appreciated by their boss, with a third having stopped expecting any form of appreciation”

From When was the last time you thanked your employees?

5 “One way of thinking differently is to question the limiting beliefs you have about what is and isn’t possible. Change your thinking, question your beliefs and you are on the way to truly creating change”

From Getting the 'right T-shirt' in 2013

6 “Facebook and Twitter are ideal places to advertise jobs. If a vacancy becomes available, post it on Facebook with a link to how applicants can apply. Also Tweet about it and encourage staff to Retweet it on Twitter”

From How social media can help you recruit top quality employees

7 “Youth unemployment in the UK among 15 to 24 year olds increased by a staggering 35% between 2008 and 2011, compared to an average of 15 per cent in the G8 countries”

From Join the fight against youth unemployment

8 “You just need to speak to everyone, because you never know who you are talking to and you really need to shout about your business. You have to believe in yourself, your business and its products”

From How to set up a successful sideline business

9 “If you can’t verbally and succinctly convey your offering (in what is often called the elevator pitch), how can you communicate it to potential customers? Wordy websites and offerings that are difficult to understand turn potential customers off”

From How to maximise your turnover

10 “Choose the market that you want to aim towards and build it around that; and make sure you offer something different – you must stand out if you are to succeed”

From Learning the value of staying small

11 “With a strong idea, bags of determination and ability, the right people to support you and some guts, you’ll do well. Just accept that there will be highs and lows – be ready for both”

From So you want to set up a business?

12 “Bad decisions cost the typical small business £2,340 a year”

From Revealed: SMEs' biggest mistakes

13 “If you do something you love, you’re more likely to be successful. It will be fun rather than just work and your natural passion and enthusiasm will rub off on others”

From Tristram Mayhew of Go Ape's eight top tips for business success

Thank you to our sponsors for their support this year. Many thanks also to the experts who shared their knowledge and provided content that ensures this blog remains a popular source of information, advice and inspiration. A big ‘Thank You’ also to our ever-growing list of partners – we look forward to working with you next year and beyond.

Finally, a massive ‘Thank You’ to all our readers in 2013. Whether you were thinking of starting your own business and were looking for inspiration or were starting your own business and needed advice, we hope you found what you were looking for.

Happy Christmas and here’s to a wonderful 2014…

Six ways to avoid being branded a “business bandit”

May 04, 2011 by Chris Barling

A while ago, a complaint appeared on the SellerDeck customer forum about a third party who was spamming our customers using somewhat dubious methods. We got in touch with the offending party and they were totally dismissive: “All’s fair in love and war” seemed to be their attitude.

A few days later, the tone had totally changed. When anyone searched for their company name on Google, the first result returned was the thread on our customer forum. And it wasn’t good for them that every mention was a howling complaint. Swallowing larger chunks of humble pie than I had ever seen before, they promised to reform their ways and begged us to remove the comments about them. It was hard not to feel smug.

But the point of this is not the humbling of one company, it’s that things have changed. It is now much harder to be a bad boy (or girl) and get away with it. In fact, with Twitter, Facebook, review sites and online forums, you can guarantee that your dirty washing will be aired within minutes. Taking an ethical approach to all aspects of business has never made more sense.

So here are my six top tips of some of the things to do and not to do to if you want to avoid being branded a “business bandit”.

  1. Don’t lie when selling. It will come back to bite you. People expect a sales pitch to push hard, but they hate it when they are told something that isn’t true. In the worst case, they will take legal action.
  2. Act on all feedback and fix problems. It’s cheaper not to have problems in the first place, but when they occur, the quicker you fix them the less they will damage your reputation. Fixing things quickly will enhance your standing, because we all understand that things go wrong sometimes.
  3. Be easy to do business with. It’s worth looking at every touch-point with your customers to see if you can make their lives simpler. It’s not just for their benefit, because this tactic should also increase sales and grow brand loyalty. Just look at Apple. In general, treat your customers how you want to be treated.
  4. Treat your suppliers with respect. This is one that’s easily missed, yet there are a number of reasons for taking this line. Firstly, don’t we all want business to be more pleasurable? Why should we expect our customers to treat us well if we don’t do the same for our suppliers.

    Secondly, companies get a reputation within an industry and once you’ve got a bad name it’s hard to shake it off. Then you may need a favour from your suppliers one day. If you’ve always behaved badly, they will be strangely unavailable when needed, or particularly hard to negotiate with on contract renewal. What goes around comes around.

  5. Communicate responsibly. When you send customers emails or other communications, or participate in forums or social networks, be rational, avoid ranting and behave with integrity and honesty. I have caught out competitors several times over the years masquerading as independent commentators. It’s humiliating for them when it comes to light, and their dishonesty is then on record. It’s not the way to build a business.
  6. Accept cancellations gracefully. Sometimes your customers don’t want your service any more or wish to return your goods. You won’t retrieve many sales if you are aggressive, but you will ensure that they never return and also tell their acquaintances not to do business with you. If you accept the situation with grace, you can earn a friend.

In the early days of my company when we were desperate for sales, one of our few customers returned his purchase. We handled the situation courteously and quickly. The customer turned out to be a journalist, and they sang our praises in print for years afterwards.

My final thought is this. Most of us want to do a good job for our customers. If we stick to these points, we will not only run a more successful business, but we’ll also feel better about it.

Chris Barling is Chairman of ecommerce software supplier SellerDeck

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