With the interconnected, always-online nature of business today, you might be forgiven for thinking business cards are on their way out: after all, it’s usually easy to find contact information on a company’s website, and you can enter a new contact’s phone number and email address into your smartphone almost as quickly as putting a card into your pocket.
Despite this, business cards are still a hugely popular way to make an impression on potential clients, partners or suppliers – simply because they work. If someone puts your contact details into their phone, they might forget about it moments later, but if they find a physical card in their pocket a few days after you met, it provides a gentle reminder about you and your business.
With this in mind, here’s a few handy tips to bear in mind the next time you order some Flyerzone business cards:
Consider a professional design.
Many business card printing services offer a series of templates that you can customise to some degree, and while these offer a quick and easy way to get a professional-looking business card, they’re not the most memorable. Unless you’re a dab hand with graphic design yourself, think about using the services of a professional designer to give your card some pep.
Don’t forget the feeling.
Unlike sending an email, giving a business card is a tactile experience. Get the most of the medium by using unusual materials, such as metal, wood or rubber, or indulge in some creative embossing to make a card that feels good to hold. Robert Scoble of Rackspace recalls the great reaction he got simply from adding his details to the card in Braille.
Keep to a standard size and shape.
It’s tempting to push the boat out and go with something that’s bigger and better than the rest – but an outsized card is less likely to be included in someone’s holder and might end up in the wastepaper basket instead. Similarly, a circular card might make an impression, but it doesn’t sit easily in someone’s wallet.
Oh, and the information’s important too!
Don’t forget the main purpose of a business card: a place to put your details! Keep it short and concise – a name, phone number and email address is all you need for your contact information, and it should also include your name and job title – and possibly a line explaining what your company does, if it’s not obvious from the name. Simple and clean is better than overloaded.
Content sourced from Flyerzone.
Being self-employed is a dream for many people. The capacity to make decisions on everything from expenditure to working hours, not to mention relieving the pressure of following orders from management make it palatable; but being your own boss comes with additional pressure, much of it financial. Keeping an eye on the balance sheets is even more important when working for yourself.
If you’re about to become self-employed for the first time, there are a number of things you will need to ensure you’re prepared. They include:
- Office space
- A computer
- A working internet connection
- A smartphone for on the move
- A business bank account
- A company vehicle
- A spread-sheet template for your business’s accounts
- Extra money, just in case
The latter point is very important in emergency situations, while it doesn’t hurt to have money for the future, especially if you want your business to expand and take on new staff and extra office space.
Setting money aside
With so much to handle from dealing with clients to managing your website and social media accounts, it can be all too easy to forget about what underpins your role – finance. Without the necessary funds, it’s impossible to see your business through a rough patch, which is where liquidity comes in handy.
Whenever you’re faced with a problem such as short-term cash flow, it’s important to have something to fall back on in times of need. Even if you just need £10 to pay for fuel while en route to an important sales pitch or meeting with a supplier, having liquid assets that can be turned straight into emergency cash is essential.
Finding the right account
Having a current account for your business is important, but as a back-up, you could have a savings account as well. Not only could it provide the liquidity that your enterprise needs, but it could also provide your business with somewhere to store cash for a rainy day, possible expansion or for any other purpose. Ordinary savings accounts can work, but cash ISAs might be the best bet.
This is because you want your money to do as much work for you as possible for you, however you want to make sure that you have it at your fingertips in case of an emergency. Yorkshire building society point out that this is what instant cash ISA’s are actually good for, you can access your money at a moment’s notice, whilst still getting an interest rate that is higher than that of an ordinary account.
Content supplied by Yorkshire Building Society.
New research reveals that small to medium sized business owners in the UK are neglecting to provide staff with adequate training and development support, with almost half (47.6%) of those surveyed feeling that their boss doesn’t take their personal development seriously, and a quarter (27.90%) admitting to having never discussed training or personal development at all.
While the recession may have forced some SME owners to focus their priorities elsewhere, with the economy slowly improving employers need to place a renewed focus on providing structured personal development to avoid staff losing motivation and becoming unengaged, a scenario which directly impacts productivity, morale and ultimately the success of the business.
The Personal Development in the Workplace study, also reveals that the majority of respondents (66%) haven’t been provided with any kind of personal development plan, so are essentially working day-to-day without any long term focus.
However, the research highlighted that process doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness, as despite staff in companies of between 51-250 being 16 per cent more likely to have a development plan, staff actually feel more engaged and discuss their personal development more frequently in small companies of 1-10 staff.
The regional picture also reveals some interesting trends. Notably, that respondents in Scotland feel the most engaged at work, with 62 per cent believing their employer takes their personal development seriously, which is 18 per cent higher than in East Anglia where less than half (44.62 %) felt their personal development was a serious focus for their boss.
In addition, despite being the UK’s largest centre for employment and industry, London and the South East is actually one of the worst regions in terms staff development, lagging behind the majority of the UK (see report for breakdown).
Reacting to the findings, Jonathan Richards, CEO & founder of breatheHR, said: “The results clearly show a fantastic opportunity for small to media sized businesses to gain competitive advantage by spending time developing employees.
“The good news is that it needn’t cost a fortune and with relatively little effort they will increase productivity and reduce costs.”
While GDP figures show 0.3% growth over the last quarter, some business sectors are performing against the odds and experiencing exceptional growth. Barclays Online Business Outlook 2013 released this week has revealed that companies that operate online are thriving, with half of those questioned having produced double digit growth in the last three years. The average online company surveyed experienced 11.4% compound annual growth over the last three years, that’s over 50 times the rate of the economy over the same period.
Sean Duffy, managing director and head of technology, media and telecoms at Barclays, commented: “Online businesses have bucked the trend over the last three years and experienced success in spite of the stagnant economic conditions. While today’s GDP figures show some growth in the economy, these businesses are optimistic about what the year ahead holds and we think they are in a strong position to sustain the growth they have experienced over the last few years, providing they can take advantage of new and rising trends.”
The report, ‘Collaborate UK’, highlights the new strategies being followed in response to the downturn, revealing a significant cultural shift among the dynamic SME community and the emergence of a new breed of leaner, more focused ‘size zero’ businesses.
It found that a quarter (24 per cent) of the 700 SMEs surveyed are now more open to working with other businesses than they were before the downturn and 14 per cent now work with more partners as a result. One in eight would even team up with a competitor if there was a business benefit.
The report identifies the emergence of a new breed of “size zero” businesses – organisations that are stripping out non-core functions by embracing outsourcing, exchanging services and sharing expertise, so that they can focus on their strengths:
- Smart outsourcing - 2.8 million SMEs have embraced outsourcing, buying in a mean of five non-core business functions. Among this group, the projected mean spend on outsourcing in 2013 is £143,000 with 18 per cent planning to increase it, while the biggest spenders can be found in the East of England, where SMEs plan to spend an average (mean) £203,000
- Exchanging services - nearly half a million SMEs are engaging in a ‘bartering’ economy, by trading their services with other businesses in lieu of payment. Wales is leading the way, with 16 per cent of SMEs there saying they have contra deals in place
- Sharing expertise - over a quarter (28 per cent) work with other businesses to obtain sales leads and win new business while 22 per cent share best practice with other businesses. A huge 28 per cent of businesses in Yorkshire and Humberside would even consider working with a competitor (compared to the national average of 12 per cent)
These smarter ways of working have perhaps contributed to a feeling of cautious optimism among SMEs as they look to create over 400,000 new jobs this year, with the West Midlands showing the biggest signs of optimism and the North East the lowest.
Professor Robert Blackburn, Director, Small Business Research Centre, Kingston University, comments on the findings: “This more open, collaborative culture not only strengthens the capabilities, flexibility and efficiency of SMEs but has a wider economic benefit, stimulating more opportunities for enterprises as ‘suppliers.’”
Patrick Gallagher, CEO of CitySprint commented: “By sharing expertise, exchanging services and embracing smart outsourcing, SMEs across the country are successfully stripping non-core functions out of their businesses. This is creating a new breed of leaner, “size zero” businesses, able to focus on their core area of expertise whilst tapping into their networks for everything else, as and when they need something.”
Gallagher concluded: “Our report shows that far from feeling isolated during the economic downturn, there are real opportunities for new intra-SME contracts across the sector and country and a real sense of optimism. Through the work we do, it has been really fascinating to see businesses seize this opportunity and, in many cases, play a part in it.”