SMEs to embrace sustainability practices in 2014

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A recent survey from Lloyds Commercial Banking has revealed that one in four small to medium-sized businesses in the UK said they will be making sustainable business practices a priority over the next 12 months.

Questioning 1000 SMEs with a turnover of up to £25 million, the results revealed that the 87% of SMEs already implementing sustainable business practices are only focusing on such things as energy saving and recycling, rather than broadening their environmental activities.

Over half (54%) of SMEs surveyed said they believed their sustainability practices helped reduce costs, with 30% arguing they helped increase profitability.

To read the rest of the article please click here.
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Maiden Voyage – A Free Social Network for Women Business Travellers

MV_logo A Free Social Network for Women Business Travellers

Meet like-minded professional women for dinner around the world, stay in female friendly hotels and use our safety tips to ensure your business trip is safe & social

Maiden Voyage aims to connect women who are travelling so that they can meet and socialise in all manner of ways, be it over dinner, a trip to the theatre or even something more adventurous such as roller-blading. The primary aim is fun rather than business, but if business relationships are born then that’s an added bonus. We also aim to bring useful travel and safety information to our readers and recommend products and services which appeal to the female business traveller.

MV IMG_2460It was on a lonely business trip to LA that Maiden Voyage’s founder Carolyn Pearson, came up with the idea of an internet networking site through which business women could meet up with like-minded women to make the most of their leisure time whilst travelling. Encouragement to bring the site to life came from other business women who had spent many lonely evenings in their hotel rooms, often working, usually eating room service to avoid the embarrassment of eating alone in public places and receiving unwanted male attention.

Benefits of joining maiden-voyage.com include:

  • Free membership for both individual and corporate members
  • Secure networking with other professional women around the world
  • Access to a network of international ambassadors who can give you inside information about their home cities, recommend places to stay or even meet or assist you on your travels
  • Access to our database of hotel inspection results, including all the hotels who have failed to meet our female friendly criteria
  • Discounted rates (for UK residents) for pre-booked parking at particpating  Q-Park car parks
  • 10% Discount on Airport Parking, Hotel and Airport Hotel and Parking Package and Executive Style Airport Lounges from APH
  • 50% Discount on a years subscription to Business Traveller Magazine

Maiden Voyage also offer safety tips during travelling, also recommend certified Female Friendly Hotels that have been personally inspected by a female representative of maiden-voyage.com. Only those properties which pass a stringent inspection will be recommended.

Other ways to connect with Maiden Voyage is through the Ambassador Network or connecting through twitter, where you can tweet them a travel related question.

RSA Fellowship: supporting entrepreneurs since 1754

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The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is an organisation that has been committed to finding practical solutions to social challenges for over two and a half centuries.

So much of what has been achieved in this time could have not have happened without our diverse network of 27,000 Fellows.

Joining the Fellowship offers access to a huge, international resource of expertise and experience where you can make valuable connections, share skills and gain access to funding. You will also have access to the library, café and all the meeting spaces at RSA House.

We believe the RSA is the best place to have an idea.

So, what do RSA Fellows do?

Fellows’ projects range from the local to the international:  Catherine Shovelin FRSA has recently been supported to transform the New Cross Learning Centre – a vital community space in South London whilst Blair Glencourse FRSA successfully crowdfunded his idea to build a Wiki page that would help Nepalese citizens navigate government processes. You can read about these projects and many more on the RSA Crowdfunding page.

The RSA and its Fellows are not afraid to question the status quo and create alternative solutions.

We champion those who challenge popular perceptions and offer fresh thinking around emerging, modern problems. Our recent short animation by Dr Brené Brown does exactly this by looking at the difference between sympathy and empathy, a distinction often missed.

Across the Fellowship there are hundreds more examples of how together we are moving forward. Fellowship is open to anyone anywhere in the world who shares or demonstrates our commitment to positive social change.

 If you are interested in any of the ideas or projects above, then we’d love to hear from you.

For more information or if you would like to visit RSA House for a tour of the facilities and a chat about Fellowship then please contact Fellowship Development Coordinator Alex Barker.

How to attract the best talent

James Caan gives us his top tips on how to attract the most talented individuals.

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I have long said that the recruitment sector is a good indicator of where our economy is heading. It is one of the first to suffer in a recession, as businesses cut down on hiring – and one of the first to pick up in a recovery. It is now predicted to surpass its pre-recession peak in terms of turnover, which is a clear indicator of how the job market is picking up.

For those small and medium sized enterprises which are the heartbeat of the economy, this is now a crucial time. Last week, Business Matters spoke about how SMEs can best retain their talent, as employees may be tempted to move jobs now that there is less uncertainty. But just as important as talent retention is talent attraction. A successful business is built on the passion and quality of the people within it, and getting the right people on board is the best way to drive a company forward.

What I often do at Hamilton Bradshaw is look for people rather than a specific job. When I find somebody who I believe has the ability and personality I am looking for, I create a role specifically for them. I do this several times a year and have found this to be the best way of taking my business to the next level.

A lot of SMEs worry that they will not be able to compete with the large corporates when it comes to hiring, but one of the biggest things a small business has going for it is the culture – by nature they are generally more flexible and entrepreneurial. If you can communicate this properly then you will be just as appealing to work for.

Word of mouth plays a key role here. If your current staff enjoy the working environment – which is often less bureaucratic than you’d find elsewhere – then you will find that their industry peers will sit up and take notice. Consider offering rewards for employee referrals. Not only does it encourage your current staff to network, which is always good practice, but it means people who come into the business will have a clear picture of exactly what it’s like to work for you.

To read the rest of what James Caan had to say read here.

From zero to 75,000 Facebook followers in just over a year: One start-up’s top three tactics

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Social media is often heralded as a breakthrough for small business, connecting them directly with their customers and providing them the opportunity to turn them into fans and advocates.

But the bigger your following, the better the investment. So how do you grow it?

Photographer Richard Hirst launched his Facebook page 20 months ago. Since then, he says promoting his work on the platform has become a key part of his business.

“I started with no fans and now I have 75,000. That’s not big for a big company, but for a small business that’s incredible. Building a database that big would take a very long time,” Hirst says.

Hirst only realised the power of the platform after he started sharing his sunrise shots through his page so his friends could follow his work.

Pictures are particularly powerful for developing a following on social platforms.StartupSmart spoke to Facebook’s Australian head of small business last month about his tips on how to use images for boosting engagement.

Hirst says he hasn’t tracked the conversion rate, but estimates almost 80% of his website visits come either directly from Facebook or people who discovered his work on the platform.

He shared his top three tips with StartupSmart. To read the whole StartupSmart article and the tips click here.

How UKTI helps UK companies export

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets by helping them export their products and services overseas.

UKTI has professional advisers both within the UK and across more than 100 international markets.

In this film, Theo Paphitis of Dragon’s Den introduces how UKTI can help your business expand overseas. The film shows you the process of identifying, researching and developing solid international export links to help build your business globally.

Find out how UKTI can really help your business – this film details what UKTI can do for you right now.

The second film in this series explains what UKTI did for a wide selection of UK SMEs. To view please go to http://youtu.be/J8ztd-v_IZs

How boosting your profile is an effective business-winning formula

SME owners are raising their own profile to get ahead, becoming known as experts while boosting awareness of their ventures

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“I need to build my brand because people are, in effect, buying me. I am my brand.”

Chris Beastall doesn’t just manage men’s grooming retailer Niven & Joshua, which he co-founded in 2008; he’s a writer of sorts, penning articles for online men’s magazines AskMen and FashionBeans. Beastall added another string to his bow last year when he became a columnist for men’s style and lifestyle magazine Esquire.

“I’ve been writing for magazines and blogs about men’s grooming for some time now,” says Beastall. “When brands and industry people see my writing, they consider me more an expert in the men’s grooming sector. It’s often resulted in brands asking for my input into products like a new shaver or cream.”

The boosting of Beastall’s own profile doesn’t just make for a sparkling CV; it has proven to be an effective business-winning formula for the Matlock-based company.

To read the rest of the article click here.

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Why SMEs should go mobile in 2014

As the world continues to embrace mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, it’s becoming increasingly important for small businesses to take advantage of digital trends. Check out this infographic from MDM for advice on why going mobile is key this year.

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Click here for the Enterprise East London site the infograph.

To keep up to date with the latest Make It Global news, like our page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Share your own tips with other Make It Global businesses by using the hashtag #UELMakeItGlobal

Exporting: choosing the right country for your small business

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What do three of the world’s biggest markets – Brazil, India and China – have to offer small business exporters?

For small businesses looking to grow, branching out overseas has the potential to reap huge rewards. Many SMEs, however, remain apprehensive about exporting for the first time.

The UKTI’s National Export Week, which took place between 11 November and 15 November, aimed to change SME owners’ minds, holding workshops and seminars across the country to highlight overseas opportunities.

With a daunting array of countries to choose from, how do you know which markets are right for your product or service?

We went along to the UKTI’s Explore Export event at the Oval in London to find out what three of the world’s biggest markets – Brazil, India and China – had to offer small business exporters.

To continue reading the rest of the article please click here.

To keep up to date with the latest Make It Global news, like our page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Share your own tips with other Make It Global businesses by using the hashtag #UELMakeItGlobal