Summer Newsletter 2014

August and the beginning of September are a notoriously quiet in business. It seems like everyone is on their summer holidays and no-one is strapped to their desks. But that doesn’t mean that you should take your foot off the pedal. In fact, now is the perfect time for you to plan your business strategies and decide upon the next move for your company. To help you formulate your plan, our newsletter this quarter focuses on several tactics and ideas to help your business succeed. So sit back and enjoy this edition of our Summer Newsletter 2014.

 

Embrace the Digital Age

If you are looking to grow your business, gain new customers or simply spread your message, there is one platform which you must conquer before all others; the Internet. If you don’t have a web presence, you are going to get left in the dust. Whilst many of you may be thinking that this is old news, you would be shocked at just how many companies are failing to maximise their web exposure. And I’m not just talking about having an all signing, all dancing website. Did you know that ‘in 2013, 36 million adults (73%) in Great Britain accessed the Internet every day’[1]? ‘Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2013, from 24% to 53%.’[2] Despite this surge in mobile internet access, 70% of UK companies are yet to launch a mobile friendly internet site[3]. And it’s not just your website that could need work; digital marketing is a minefield of technical jargon and specialisms that you need to maximise in order to succeed in today’s market place.

So what should you do? Go back to university and gain your degree in Internet Marketing? No. Whilst it’s important to have a basic understanding of digital marketing strategies, you do not need a Master’s in HTML coding to be able to boost your online presence and keep your company ahead of the pack. So what can you do? Simple; outsource to a professional.
Regular readers of this newsletter will know that, at The Rural Business Community, we collaborate with a range of local professionals who can all help your business to succeed. Our latest addition comes in the form Mark Chisholm of ‘Pixel Distribution’.

The aim of Pixel Distribution is to offer an efficient and affordable web design and marketing services to business in and around the Rutland. Having experience with local, national and multi-national clients, Pixel Distribution can offer a service to fit most budgets. From small one or two page sites that can be expanded upon at a later date, to a 5,000 product ecommerce website with an ongoing marketing plan.
Whatever the size of the project though, results are always the first thought, “there is nothing more I love than getting stuck into a project that I know is going to have a positive effect upon a client’s business” – Mark, Pixel Distribution.

Pixel Distribution’s office is only a few miles from The Rural Business Community (just outside Ridlington), meaning they are ideally situated to offer advice on website design services, website marketing services and administration services (such as web hosting and domain name management). You can read more about Mark’s services here.

As an added bonus, any new clients quoting ‘ruralbiz’ will receive 2 years free website hosting for their project (worth £150.00). Call or email me to find out more.

 

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Success is not just about making money and being the best in your field. Sometimes success means supporting others and helping them to grow. This has always been our central ethos at The Rural Business Community and we strive to support local business owners and entrepreneurs. One of the ways we do this is through our collaborative projects.

If you have visited our centre you will know that our walls are festooned with an eclectic mix of local art work. We value the importance of using the talents of local people, companies and providers, so we are currently supporting our local community through displaying the works of local artists. So far, the scheme has worked incredibly well, and we have been fortunate to have our walls filled with a range of beautiful pieces by local artists. Several works have also been sold and they are constantly admired by the visitors that we have to our centre. This project is ongoing and we are always looking to help local artists house their work for free and offer them some free exposure and promotion.

We have two new additions to our collaborative art project; the first is Charron Pugsley-Hill. Charron began painting in 2010 following a professional career in wildlife conservation and the environment.  Her art is therefore inspired by her passion for nature and places that she visits and loves. She has always been an advocate of colour and texture believing that they can affect our mood and positivity in ways we may or may not understand.  She is completely self-taught and enjoys learning and trying new things as time passes. However her style is focussed around her distinctive swirly skies and her bold use of bright colours! You can read more about Charron here.

Our second artist is Allyson Beckford. Allyson has a distinct style, where the subject of her pieces is deeply rooted in personal experiences. Her vibrant use of colour, and semi-abstract style, make Allyson’s work instantly embrace the viewer. I’m also delighted to tell you that we now have a selection of Allyson’s beautiful, blank greetings cards on sale in Reception (perfect for a special occasion!) The cards are based upon Allyson’s works and cost £3 each, with all of the money going straight to the artist herself. So why not pop in and take a look for yourself?

We are always looking for new artists to contribute to the project, as we feel that it is important to help those in our local area. The following points will hopefully give you a better insight into what the scheme entails:

• Artists can display their art work (as few or as many pieces that they wish) in our offices and conference rooms for free.

• The Rural Business Community will display the titles, artist’s details and prices of each piece. The Artists are also welcome to leave leaflets and business cards in our Reception area.

• We will help to promote the pieces and pass on any sales leads.

• No commission is required (in return for displaying work here, any money that is made on the sale of a painting goes to the artist).

• Artists are free to take pieces away whenever they wish to. There is no obligation for them to leave pieces here for a set time. They can also take them away and bring them back they you wish.

• We will include the artist’s details on our website, if you wish. e.g. http://www.theruralbiz.com/about-us/collaboration/alan-oliver-local-artist/

If this scheme is something that you would like to be a part of, or if you know a local artist who would benefit from displaying their work in our centre, I would be delighted to hear from you. If you’d just like to come a view our selection of art, please just pop in and I would be delighted to give you a tour.

 

What Can We Learn From ‘The Wicked Witch’?

I felt a pang of genuine sadness this month when I heard the news that the ‘Wicked Witch’ in Ryhall had extinguished the flames beneath its cauldron.  This award winning eatery, held in high esteem across the region, seemed to be a flourishing and resilient business that would be around for years to come. Evidently the owners foresaw a dark future.

Whilst the reason behind the closure of this business is yet unknown, there has been a great deal of speculation that the recent addition of a ‘JD Weatherspoon’ pub in Stamford is the root of the Wicked Witch’s demise. This of course is unfounded, and merely the gossip of ‘local folk’, but maybe there is some truth in what they are saying? Have huge chains cast a hex over the independents? If so, what can small businesses do to take on the giants of industry?

Well, actually, lots! From ensuring your business is great value for money through to personalisation of your services, there are a plethora of tools at your fingertips which will enable your business to take on the toughest titans of trade. To read the full article and find out what your business can do to combat the corporate chains, click here.

 

Pensions are More Important than Ever

October 2012 was a daunting month for all business owners, both large and small. The introduction of ‘Automatic Enrolment’, back in October 2012, meant that every single company will have to pay into a pension scheme for its employees. Yes, you did read that correctly, every company. The largest businesses were the first to introduce their new schemes, but the legislation is now starting to come into effect for smaller firms.

So what is it and why is being introduced? The population in the UK is showing rapid growth and we are living for much longer. However, according to government figures, we are not saving enough for our futures. In a bid to rectify this situation, the Government is seeking to increase the level of pension saving, by utilising the workplace as the foundation of our pension pots. Dependent upon their staging date (check yours with an Independent Financial Adviser) employers will be obligated to enrol the majority of their workers into a ‘Workplace Pension’. The only employees that will be exempt from this are those that are already in a pension at work, aged under 22, older than the state pension age, earn less than £7,475 per year or work outside of the UK. A ‘Workplace Pension’ or ‘Company Pension’ is a way of saving for retirement, and is arranged by the employer. The employee can choose to opt out of the scheme, but they have to be initially enrolled, and there are some hefty fines for any employers encouraging opt outs. This is a legal duty for you as an employer, so it is crucial that you take action. There is a fantastic article here, which explains the subject in more details and will point you in the right direction for professional help.

But it is not just Auto-Enrolment that is a concern for business owners at the moment. Pensions on the whole are rapidly changing. The Budget announcement of 2014 proposed changes which will massively shake up the pension system and create a much more flexible way of drawing your pension in the future.  I won’t elaborate too much on the subject here, but this article will give you a great overview of the topic.

For you as a business owner, these changes could mean a great deal. Work life is changing, and more and more people want to phase in their retirement; people want to gradually reduce the work they do rather than completely stopping. With this in mind, the new pension rules will encourage people to start planning their future early; in order to facilitate their dream retirement.   People are also likely to save more for their retirement if they know they have the flexibility to get their money back in the way they want it. It will also mean that advice at and in the lead up to retirement is even more important to ensure they maximise their options.

If you would like to discuss the financial strategies of your business; whether it’s your company pension schemes or protection and growth of your assets, we can help. We collaborate with two firms who are experts in these areas; Efficient Portfolio for your financial planning needs and Ink for everything to do with auto-enrolment. So give me a call and I will happily introduce you to these local professionals.

 

In Summary

So whilst you’re enjoying the final days of summer, take a few moments to ponder the future of your business. Ensuring that your have a solid base of marketing (especially online), thriving collaborative projects, an ethic for delivering exceptional service and a strong financial strategy will help to boost your business for the months and years to come. If you have any questions about this newsletter, or if you would like any additional information on the topics raised, I would be delighted to hear from you. Call me on 01572 338001 or email charlotte@theruralbiz.com. Enjoy the rest of the gorgeous summer (I hear the warm weather is making a return!)

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2013/stb-ia-2013.html

[2] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2013/stb-ia-2013.html

[3] https://econsultancy.com/blog/8216-70-of-companies-yet-to-launch-a-mobile-site-survey#i.l6m7dg1bmydnk1