An Insight into the Different Types of Courier Services

An Insight into the Different Types of Courier Services (via Rabid Office Monkey)

An insight into the different types of courier services Whilst most of us are very much aware of the importance of selecting a good courier service for your shipping needs, most of us don’t really understand the differences between the types of couriers out there: Hauliers, freight forwarders, carriers…

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Insuring and protecting your business

6953770941_ea4f3c8b0dNo matter where you are in the world, the need to protect your business is always important. Your business is a direct reflection or connection to your personal financial success. When facing difficult costs and expenses, you are the one who often feels it the worst. More than just being the owner, you clearly have a strong need for the business to do well.

With this in mind, here is a quick look at the various forms of available insurance for business, and why you should be investing in such protection. Whilst the simple matter of insurance itself is easy to understand, the argument being that it costs a little to protect yourself against a greater potential, it helps to understand and appreciate what risks are involved and just why such financial protection is important.

In some cases, many of these may be compulsory, but even if they’re not, they aren’t a bad idea either. These all cost a little, but they save you lots of money when you look into the costs you could otherwise end up facing.


Virtually every business can, at some point, be at risk of liability. All it takes is one unhappy member of the public, in the case of public liability, or a dissatisfied employee, in the form of employer’s liability. In both cases, causing injury, damage or other circumstances can lead to liability; if found guilty, the compensation can be expensive.

Fortunately, there is specialised insurance for both public and employer’s liability. Both are recommended, unless you don’t employ someone, to cover yourself from all angles as far as liability claims are concerned.


Mistakes can happen and, when they do, some customers or clients can be very unforgiving. When dealing with indemnity cases, the costs can easily soar. As such, specialised personal indemnity insurance is perfect for both small and large businesses. It only takes a single mistake or error to cause indemnity, so it’s something you might want to be prepared for.


Finally, don’t forget that many of these forms of insurance can be used as assurance. When dealing with customers and clients, the right insurance shows you are serious. It also offers a security blanket for both parties involved. Should the worse happen, the client knows you have the insurance to help you pay and you, on the other hand, aren’t faced with all the costs to bear by yourself.

So there it is, a comprehensive summary of the key forms of business insurance that as a business owner, must not be taken lightly. After all, your business is your baby and you cannot afford to let it be destroyed by misfortune or disorganisation. The perils of failing to insure your business is by no means a risk worth taking.

Affiliate Marketing – The Basics

Most people have heard of affiliate marketing and have a basic idea of what it is about. In simple terms affiliate marketing is a method of getting a product or service out and about and having others advertise it for you for a small commission. It is an entirely legal, ethical and well-recognised method and best of all it suits all parties involved.

Why Do Businesses Choose Affiliate

Imagine for a moment that you want to sell hundreds of your flagship product which in this case might be a celebrity endorsed super-wok. Having a website banner or widget on the sidebar of fifty food-genre bloggers with great readerships which fit the demographic for the product is likely to result in a boost in sales.

Getting Started

Many bloggers and websites deal with, or receive communications from PR companies. These contacts may be invaluable when it comes to getting started with affiliate marketing management as often affiliate representatives and other marketing agencies are either part of the same team or work alongside each other. A quick email to ask whether they know of any affiliate marketing schemes that are currently recruiting could prove fruitful.

Well-Known Affiliate Programmes

There are many affiliate programmes to explore if you are looking to earn extra and these are great places to start.

1)      Google Affiliate Network

Being a Google product this affiliate platform is one of the more popular ones. Publishers (those publishing widgets on their sites and blogs) have an easy to use interface through which they can track their campaigns and earnings with ease. Payments are thought to be quick and easy to arrange.

2)      Amazon Affiliates
There are few people who haven’t heard of and don’t buy on occasion from Amazon. Using a widget to advertise selected books, games or other products and encouraging visitors to click through and buy is a good way to start building your affiliate income stream.


There are many tools on the market which claim to help you increase your income when involved in PPC campaigns however these two are often considered the most useful.

1)      Wordtracker
This is a handy and easy to use tool which helps you to find appropriate and successful keywords that you can use in your campaigns. When looking to draw people in and convert clicks to sales this may be helpful.

2)      Google Analytics
What was once Google Website Optimizer is now Content Experiments which may be found within Google Analytics. GA will help you maximise the effectiveness of the content on your website in terms of attracting and keeping visitors engaged long enough for them to utilise your affiliate badge or link.

This is a basic introduction to what affiliate marketing is, does and why you should consider it. Have a look at the tools described and see how easily you could monetize your blog and enjoy a second income stream.

Guest Post by: Duncan Cumming
Having established his career in digital sales and marketing, Duncan formed his own SEO in Berkshire agency, Cayenne Red. Along with the running of his business, Duncan spends time writing informative and helpful articles about the different areas of online marketing.

Don’t Do Several Independent Products in a Web Startup

David Cummings on Startups

After a product’s reached a modest level of traction, there’s an entrepreneurial tendency to start thinking of the next product to build — don’t do it. Too often I see startups with multiple products where the first one was a winner and the next two haven’t gone anywhere. Now, one web app segmented by functionality for different buyers is great and is not the same as separate code bases for truly independent applications.

Here are a few thought on multiple products within a startup:

  • Startups are inherently resource strapped, such that spreading people thinner reduces the effort on everything
  • Complexity grows exponentially as there’s more than expected overhead constantly figuring out how time will be allocated
  • When talented people are transferred from the cash cow product to the new product, they get pulled back to the main product as soon as things aren’t going well or a serious challenge is…

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What did the Queen’s speech say for small businesses?

The National Insurance Contributions Bill

Announced in the budget, the bill introduces a £2,000 Employment
Allowance for all businesses and charities in the hopes of boosting
employment. This is huge news for a lot of small businesses around
the country, especially start-ups looking to take on their first

The Deregulation Bill

The coalition has lauded the importance of deregulation for
years, but this bill is the first tangible evidence of their
intentions being met by actions that will benefit small businesses.
You can read more about the exact changes included in the bill here.

The Intellectual Property Bill

With some critics claiming patenting intellectual property is
becoming an outdated idea, the Government is aiming to make the
bill more relevant to modern businesses, reenergising the desire to
protect intellectual property

The Consumer Bill of Rights

This is designed to tighten up consumer protection alongside the
Consumer Rights Directive, which is being implemented with heavy
influence from Europe. The latter creates a single consumer rights
regime for online trade across national borders

HS2 railway line

Multiple bills were included to pave the way for development of
the high speed rail line. This was used to signal the coalition’s
ongoing dedication to the idea, but did also put in place specifics
for the line’s route and timing of the construction.


via Small business advice from Smarta

What NOT to Spend On In Your Startup

Cut startup costs

Most articles are great at listing all the things you can spend your limited startup funds on.  But through experience, we’ve learned some lessons about wasting money and how to avoid the nonessential aspects of a startup.

Here is my list of things NOT to spend on if you can avoid it in the first 6 months.  By spending wisely you preserve your funds for the things that count. Also, in the first 6 months of your business you have certain priorities — this list will keep you on track.  I’m not saying to NEVER spend on these things – in fact depending on your business you may have to spend on some of them — just not in the first six months.

Conferences – They can be expensive and distract you. In the first six months your head should not be on conferences unless you can calculate a specific dollar ROI from going (such as, you’re being paid a speaking fee).

Travel – Travel is not only expensive, but you are less productive during travel. When I travel, I’m lucky to get one-third of my normal daily workload handled.  Aside from a critical sales call that you simply MUST attend — use email and phone instead. Skype video conferences and Google Hangouts are two free substitutes for in-person meetings.

Offices – “Real Estate is the leading cause of death for startups,” Ross Mayfield, co-founder of SocialText once quipped.  Obviously, if you run a local retail business, you need a shop. But today, many kinds of businesses can work virtually and  need not saddle themselves with fixed lease costs in the first 6 months.

Hiring Employees – As famed tech investor Paul Graham writes, “The classic way to burn through cash is by hiring a lot of people. This bites you twice: in addition to increasing your costs, it slows you down.”  Adding employees requires you take time to bring people on board, communicate with them so they understand the vision, and allow time for them to get acclimated. In some businesses, such as a restaurant, you MUST hire if you expect the business to run. But many other kinds of businesses are better off focusing on product development, marketing and/or sales before hiring a lot of people.  Plus, you want to give yourself the time to select the best talent for “permanent” hires; go with freelancers and contractors whenever possible in the first 6 months.

 A Too-Ambitious Website – Get a website up early.  But unless your business IS a Web technology business, keep it small and modest at first.  Invest in a good template design, and keep the number of pages down until your business has more of a track record.

Too Much Time Blogging – Newbie business owners lacking clients (and with excess time on their hands) often make the mistake of trying to become the next Huffington Post. Even if you’re not spending money, you’re spending something just as precious: time. Limit your writing time and put more effort into closing sales.

Paid Networking Groups – I am not a fan of paid networking or referral groups such as BNI.  But if you’re considering one, at least hold off joining until you figure out whether you really can benefit from one. Try Meetups instead – they are either free or charge only a nominal fee.

Document, presentation and spreadsheet software – With all the free online software services, you should be spending little or nothing at first for these. As your business grows you can selectively upgrade to meet specific needs.

Public Relations – Don’t get me wrong, PR is valuable. But in the first 6 months you’re still figuring out your startup’s “story” and how to frame it.  Until you’ve gone through that process don’t waste your money or the PR professional’s time.

Raising money – Some startups will never get off the ground without investment – but that’s not most startups. Unless you are part of the tiny minority with the kind of high-growth business likely to attract investors, or you are planning to buy into a franchise and need the franchise fee, focus on getting customers instead.  Raising money is a full-time job in and of itself, and it distracts the founder from other things in the business.

Large print runs – For brochures, sell sheets, mailers and other items: prepare and print in small quantities.  Invariably you will refine your business and your marketing materials after the first 6 months. You may end up focusing on a narrower niche or revising your pricing. You want to be nimble, not locked in to a 3-year supply.

Web conferencing software –  Holding meetings and sales presentations remotely can be valuable.  But all those $24/month expenses for software services  can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars monthly. Explore free options that may fit your situation:  Google Hangouts, AnyMeeting or OoVoo are 3 possibilities.

Conference call bridge – Try a service like instead of paying for a conference bridge service.  Couple it with Google Talk, and you don’t even have to pay long distance charges (calls to phones in the US and Canada are currently free).

Collaboration, CRM, sales management and other software – Just the process of evaluating and choosing software packages can take hours, even days – why get distracted?  If it’s a process improvement type of software and  not core to your business, it can wait 6 months.

Shop – really shop – for deals – Many vendors offer loyalty program discounts, or discounts provided by official partners of the vendor.  Don’t buy anything until you’ve first checked websites of your key vendors to see what offers and programs may be available.

Invention services —  If you have an invention that you think could be valuable, run, don’t walk, to a patent attorney – not to an invention promotion service. U.S. patent law recently switched to a first to file system. You could lose rights by not taking the correct steps promptly, and only an attorney can advise you.

Trademark filings – Filing for a trademark usually doesn’t have the same urgency as with a patent. In fact, by consistently using your mark over time you establish stronger rights. In the first six months a trademark registration is not an essential expense.

Advertising – Advertising takes money. Besides, a lot of startups are still figuring out what they are doing in the first 6 months.  Instead, ramp up your social media presence during this time. You can connect with your audience and develop more of a two-way dialogue during this time, gaining feedback from your target audience as well.  If you must advertise, experiment with low cost alternatives such as Facebook Promoted Posts and Twitter Promoted Tweets.

Finally, I’d like to also point you to two additional resources:

How to save on expenses in a small business.

Ten ways to save money in your business.

Image: Startup costs

The post What NOT to Spend On In Your Startup appeared first on Small Business Trends.

via Small Business Trends

Guest Post- Content creation: clarifying and dispelling the myths


Many executives have a thick skin and a well-rehearsed eye-roll ready for when new buzzwords emerge in their meetings. Some of those we know have hailed ‘content creation’ as today’s chief offender. Although it might sound straightforward – after all, there’s alliteration involved here – we’re always happy to explain exactly what this means.

Put simply, ‘content,’ in a general marketing context, could be anything. Words, pictures, videos, emoticons, mp3’s, haikus, shelf assembly instructions, anything. And it’s to that end that, as ‘content creation’ continues to rise to the fore in business, the phrase could use some tweaking.

It doesn’t really include – or even infer – what this ‘content’ should do. It’s objective is far more important than the process. It’s a means to an end.

‘Content’ in any guise has to have a purpose, whether it’s to prompt an emotional response, convey information, deliver a call to action etc. To that end, it might even be worth considering ‘marketing message adaptation’ or ‘message translation.’

Having said that though, anyone working at a creative agency has to think beyond simply what the client wants to achieve, when creating content.

I work across all aspects of marketing, but internal communications is especially close to my heart and I have two golden rules for content creation in this area:

  1. Keep your staff informed
  2. Keep your staff engaged

I’ve collaborated with so many HR divisions on revamping company intranets or internal newsletters and, before I start a project, I like to make a point of approaching the workforce for feedback on what they like or dislike about things as they stand; I regularly come across the same thing.

There’s a genuine appreciation of the information, but – as a busy team often have to skim through a company newsletter, for example, in their free time – there’s usually a request for more variety and a truly accessible style & format. Simple things like a less corporate tone and the introduction of complementary, general interest features greatly increases the likelihood that a newsletter will be read in full.

In short, the audience should always be the first consideration. Obviously, the subject matter has to be relevant to them, but it’s about being sensitive to the average concentration span or wise to their vernacular and the social media platforms they use. Savvy marketers, who work across a series of disciplines, base their proposals on a balance between the aims of the company and the preferences of their stakeholders, way before creating that all-important content and deciding which channels to use.

Guest Post from Sam Rainey, McGrath O’Toole: Internal comms specialist Sam Rainey was invited to join Leeds-based McGrath O’Toole as managing director last April, to develop the client services function that drew upon his 16 years’ experience in the creative and experiential event sectors.