Archive for November, 2012

Flight From Bank Funding Gathers Pace

You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote a blog on how the banks were losing out to other sources of financing among the SME community.  Today I found the article below from Financial News that seems to indicate that this move from traditional funding streams is still growing.


Social Networking and The SME

Social Networking is the term given to a variety of new techniques for communication with clients, customers, prospects and other interested parties. As with other marketing techniques it needs careful planning to ensure that the right message gets through to the right (target) audience.

Whilst using social networking and media can be a blunt, scattergun approach, with careful planning and dedicated application it can, like a rifle, be accurate, well targeted and can be useful in developing relationships with the target audience.

What it is.

Social networking is a variety of tools that can be used to develop relationships with customers. Of particular importance is the fact that the use of these tools will help to drive traffic to a website or blog and ultimately help search engine optimisation of the website.

For businesses these tools can be used for reputation management, test
marketing and feedback from customers on existing or proposed new
products. It can also help to increase awareness the business and raise the
profile of individuals establishing them as experts in their field and can be
linked to articles, websites, blogs and a variety of other media.

The main tools for small and micro businesses are LinkedIn, Twitter and
increasingly Facebook where Business pages can now be set up. Google+ is
also increasing membership quickly. Facebook currently has over 700M
users and businesses find this increasingly useful to provide a channel for communication with customers. For instance videos and photos can be downloaded from the site and forums set up to discuss various aspects of the business and its products.

What it isn’t

Social networking is not a quick fix for getting customers. Like all marketing it needs a careful and thoroughly thought out plan to achieve goals set for it. It should be used as part of a complete plan and not instead of it. At all times the focus must be on the business goals and not on chatter about your social life. If that is what you want to network about, then set up
additional business accounts with that as the main focus.

Each of the tools identified (and there are many more that you should
consider to see what is right for you and your business) have different

LinkedIn for instance allows you to search for specific people in your target market. It also has very useful Q & A area where your expertise can be shown and your own reputation as a knowledgeable expert can be

Twitter on the other hand only allows 140 characters in each ‘tweet’ so the main purpose is to drive traffic and enhance your Google search listing as tweets are also indexed by Google.

As mentioned previously Facebook can be used for business and personal
reasons. Currently the development of Facebook for business is in its early
stages but it can still be used for developing your expertise and to link to
other media such as your website and blog by setting up a simple ‘fan page’.

How to get started 

Getting started is simple. All the tools mentioned are free to set up an
account and to use. Just register and start using. A word of caution, however. Although they are free to use to be effective needs a considerable amount of time.

Firstly you need to establish your account; then you need to gather fans,
friends or other contacts. This can be done for searching for your
target audience or ensuring that your communications are keyword rich.
Then you need to provide useful content and information. Only then can
you start to see the benefit. It needs co-ordination between these tools and
your blog and website.

However before you even start, develop an action plan so that you can
integrate this form of marketing with your existing plans and make sure they work with each other.

read full article.

More Articles on this topic

Maximising ROI from Social Networking

Managing ROI from On-Line advertising

Sources: Main Article. Bob Francis UKBA/SGBA

Additional Articles: Martin Parry UKBA/MGBA

HMG Offer Incentives to TA Employers

HMG  are planning to double recruitment into the TA as part of the new defence plan. So, we can expect more TA working for us. To help us run our businesses at the same time as supporting the army HMG is planning to give us a logo we can us on our letterheads and uprate the compensation we receive.

So do you approve of these plans?  Do you think the addition of more TA time-off alongside paternity and maternity leave with the upheaval and costs involved will help us drive our businesses forward?  Because I’m struggling to see how HMG believes that all this along with their abject failure to free-up some bank funding and reduce the ever-strangling red tape is doing anything at all to help us build our businesses and improve employment prospects.  Send me your comments to or fill in the comments box below.

Read more on the plans at:


HSE Simplify Guidelines for SMEs

As part of a package of guidance to be offered by HSE they have launched an online Health and safety toolbox.  The idea is to make it quicker and easier for us who operate “low-risk” businesses to find useful health and safety information.

Employment minister Mark Hoban has stated, “Small and low risk businesses should be focusing their time on growing and becoming a success not having to waste precious time and money on unnecessary bureaucracy.”


For further information go to:

MAS Survey Indicates Green Shoots?

The Manufacturing Advisory Service has completed a survey that has found that 41% of manufacturing SMEs are expecting to increase investment in plant and machinery this year and a further 38% on technology.

This improvement in business optimism is good news, maybe things are actually beginning to improve.  But what do you think? I’d be very interested to hear from you. Place a comment in the box below or drop an email to 

You can find more information on 


HMRC On War Path

Intent on improving our lives ever-further our good friends at HMRC are launching a revised Business records Check programme.   SMEs in London are at greatest risk here as HMRC are targeting London-based SMEs though to be keeping inadequate records.

The checks take the form of a phone call followed up with a visit.  But beware it is vital you understand that these are serious compliance checks and large penalties can be levied on any business failing to keep proper records.  So you have been warned.


Further information by completing the comments box below or

SME Supply Chain Payment Update

Following my recent blog on the subject of HMG taking action to help SMEs in their problem with slow payment from customers.  I am grateful to Karl Barker of Taurus Collections who, in discussing a similar topic on LinkedIn provided a very useful link to the BIS document advising SMEs on combating late payment.

Sc: Taurus Collections; MGBA; UKBA

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