How will the Budget help businesses?

1_fullsizeChancellor George Osborne has delivered his Budget Statement to Parliament, setting out how the government will take further action to secure the recovery and build a resilient economy.

Budget 2014 announces the government will help British businesses by:

  • doubling the annual investment allowance to £500,000 until the end of 2015
  • offering the best export finance in Europe
  • reducing energy costs, to ensure that the UK remains a competitive location for manufacturing

The government is taking decisions that will support businesses to invest, export, and create jobs – laying the foundations for sustainable economic growth. This Budget sets out the most radical reforms to saving for a generation, providing security for families to plan for their future. And it reduces taxes for hardworking people, while taking further steps to tackle tax avoidance.

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What small businesses need to know about exporting

How can SMEs avoid potential pitfalls and maximise their chances of success? Those in the know offer their advice

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Although the UK economy is at last delivering growth, many SMEs realised a simple truth during the global financial : domestic markets cannot always be relied on, and exporting not only provides additional revenue – it can diversify risk.

The government is therefore setting industry a target of doubling exports to £1tn a year by 2020. While there is considerable doubt as to how realistic a target this may be, SMEs can at least be confident that help is on offer from government departments as a wave of new companies are encouraged to repeat domestic success in new markets.

For those who have already launched export drives, or who have helped others enter new markets, there are some very clear guidelines as to how an SME can maximise its chances of success.

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For more information on the Make It Global 2-day Key to International Trading workshops and to register click here.

Exporting to Turkey: tips on getting started

With its impressive economic growth record, Turkey is fast becoming an attractive country for small businesses to export to. Here’s how to break into the world’s 17th largest economy

Turkey - Jun 2009Turkey has rapidly emerged as a high-growth market and a hugely attractive destination for those looking to do business abroad. Already the world’s 17th largest economy, Turkey has an impressive economic growth record.

With a large and young population, a talented workforce, and an advantageous geographical position, it’s a market which can’t be overlooked by businesses looking to grow and prosper on an international scale. But Turkey has social and business customs that must be taken into account in any market entry strategy. One crucial point to consider is that – in the words of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) – doing business in Turkey is truly “personal,” with any business venture relying heavily upon relationships and networking.

Meeting likeminded business people in Turkey and hearing their success stories is a huge motivator for success, according to Melek Pulatkonak, founder and creator of the Turkish Women’s International Network. According to Pulatkonak, a combination of online and offline engagement is the “magic formula” to networking success in Turkey. Here are some tips on getting started:

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For more information on the Make It Global 2-day Key to International Trading workshops and to register click here.

My breakthrough moment in China

Shaun Pulfrey always had grand ambitions for his Tangle Teezer hairbrush. Six years on he is now exporting across Europe and into Asia. He shares his experience

Shopping in Shanghai

Great Britain has always been an exporting nation. However, the economic challenges of recent years have meant that many small businesses have concentrated on day-to-day survival, rather than ambitious plans for global growth. But, there has never been a better time for these firms to shift their focus from the risks of export to the potential rewards it can bring.

Exporting was a key pillar of my business, Tangle Teezer, from the word go. I had to overcome concerns about trading overseas as I knew the UK was never going to be a big enough market for us. However, the road to export can be a daunting one if you have never done it before. There are numerous hurdles to overcome, from practical considerations such as language barriers and marketing capabilities, to logistical worries about late payment and legalities. It’s easy for firms to stick to their comfort zone and put export in the “too difficult” box. But, I’m a firm believer in seeing the opportunity instead of the challenge and think others should approach business with the same positivity.

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For more information on the Make It Global 2-day Key to International Trading workshops and to register click here.

Nearly half of UK SMEs expect growth over next 12 months

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New research released by the BDRC Continental has revealed that only 21% of SMEs see the economy as a major obstacle to the growth of their business, compared to 37% in Q1 2012.

The SME Finance Monitor also revealed that almost half of UK SMEs predict they will expand over the next year.

Shiona Davies, Director at BDRC Continental, said: “SMEs ended 2013 feeling more positive about the economy. However, there are few signs of this leading to an increased demand for external finance.”

“There is little in the way of frustrated demand, as eight out of ten SMEs are ‘happy non-seekers’ of finance.

To read the full article click here.

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Chancellor urges UK SMEs to make the most of opportunities in Asia

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In his speech to Hong Kong business leaders on 20 February, George Osborne called for Britain’s businesses to invest in the budding Asian market.

Osborne said: “Britain is not investing enough or exporting enough. We cannot rely on consumers alone for our economic growth, as we did in previous decades.” He signaled moves to stimulate exports, saying he wanted to see ‘Made in Britain’ products visible around the world.

In order to be truly successful internationally, SMEs must think big and invest in the development of language skills such as Mandarin.

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SME Innovation, Exporting and Growth

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SMEs which have a track record of innovation are more likely to export, more likely to export successfully, and more likely to generate growth from exporting than non-innovating firms. Both internal and eco-system factors are important in shaping SME innovation and exporting. For SMEs specifically, however, the evidence base remains limited in some areas.

This whitepaper from the Enterprise Research Centre provides evidence on the internal drivers of innovation and exporting reinforces the importance of a number of key UK policy initiatives.

To see the article and to download the report click here.

Digital or bust: the benefits of keeping your head in the cloud

shutterstock_109387343The way we do business has changed dramatically over the last 30 years. As technology continues to advance there are now a plethora of digital tools that can simplify business processes and increase efficiency. Gone are the days of hiring meeting rooms and couriers, this is the era of videoconferencing and the cloud.

Just as the fax was superseded by the email, we’re slowly moving towards the total digitisation of business practices. Tech savvy enterprises are moving a range of day-to-day processes online in order to gain a competitive advantage. Every time a company has to take something offline, such as paying an invoice or signing a contract, precious time is lost and unnecessary costs are incurred. For business customers, lost time and wasted money results in a poor customer experience and, with customers themselves becoming increasingly tech-savvy, companies need to keep up.

The digitisation of a nation

We are now seeing industries rushing to adapt to customer demands for digital business processes. According to a recent study by Accenture, more customers are choosing to bank online which is leading to greater competition between established banks and digital-only players. Mobile commerce is also on the rise, with research from Deloitte finding 68% of shoppers plan to use their mobile devices for online shopping over the holiday period.

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Why don’t you join Make It Global in the 3-day Tech Series taking place on the 13th, 20th and 27th of March in Canary Wharf, for more information and to register click here.

60% of customers wouldn’t trust a business lacking an online presence

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Word on keyboard

Recent research has revealed the importance of an online presence for growing businesses, with the majority of UK consumers saying they would not trust a business if they couldn’t find any information about it online.

New research from bOnline has revealed that out of the 750 surveyed consumers, almost half (47%) of customers said they expect every small business to have a website, with a further 36% saying it depends on their business type. Only 17% said they do not expect small businesses to have a website.

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Why don’t you join Make It Global in the 3-day Tech Series taking place on the 13th, 20th and 27th of March in Canary Wharf, for more information and to register click here.

New mobile technologies mean better cashflow is on the cards

chip and pin card machinesMany small businesses are benefiting from being able to accept instant card payments through their smartphones

Credit and debit cards have been in use for more than half a century yet they have, until now, made little impact on the cashflow of small businesses.

Card-reading terminals are expensive for banks to provide to merchants and so monthly rental fees, plus the cost of a dedicated phoneline, can equate to a monthly bill well in excess of £50. Contracts typically tie businesses to a provider for two years or longer and so small companies do not have a cost-effective way to discover if the boost to cashflow offsets the set-up costs.

This could be about to change, however, with the introduction of several systems that do not follow the traditional model of fixed card readers which are supplied with monthly rental bills. Instead they use the processing power of modern smartphones to accept credit and debit card payments with very little, or no, upfront cost and no contractual tie-in period.

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Why don’t you join Make It Global in the 3-day Tech Series taking place on the 13th, 20th and 27th of March in Canary Wharf, for more information and to register click here.

6 tips on how to integrate your social media strategy

soc-300x225If your small business is active or considering being active on social media, it’s important to start embedding a social media strategy into wider organisational strategies, business functions and processes. This move will ensure you can connect with your prospects and customers across a variety of touch points in the customer journey.

To read the 6 tips from Enterprise East London please click here.

Why don’t you join Make It Global in the 3-day Tech Series taking place on the 13th, 20th and 27th of March in Canary Wharf, for more information and to register click here.