UK: Keys To Success - Sound Advice From Growing Businesses

Last Updated: 24 November 2009

ARE YOU WAKING UP TO SOCIAL NETWORKING?

Ecademy.com founder Penny Power explains why entrepreneurs are the best placed and most willing to engage and build their brand online.

Since 1998, I have been helping individuals see the opportunities that lie within the mysterious online world for expanding their business globally while also finding new ideas, business partners and opportunities. In my opinion, entrepreneurs make the most active and highest quality users and contributors. Here are my top ten tips to make the most of social networks for your business.

1. The world is now social – join these networks with the right attitude.

2. Be a friend, not a supplier. Friendships create advocates and create customers. Suppliers create noise.

3. Have conversations, do not broadcast. Broadcasting is dull and meaningless, conversation is not.

4. Understand what contribution you are personally making to others and share that. Don't sell.

5. Learn to be a writer and write blogs. This is the way to be seen and to share your knowledge.

6. Take part in conversations online. The internet is just a big room with speech bubbles above everyone's heads – join in, start conversations, engage.

7. Learn the technology so you can master it. Don't be a slave to the tools. Use them, but don't let them use you.

8. Spend time with your team and help them see the part they play in building your company's profile online.

9. Don't ban social networks from your workplace. This is 20th century thinking and reduces the 'social capital' in your business.

10. Lead a 'movement' online, don't lead a company. Share your values and your business through contribution to others.

GOING GLOBAL

Neal Gandhi of Quickstart Global discusses the inexorable globalisation of business.

While western economies are dragging themselves out of recession, now is the time for companies of all sizes to look, think and act globally in order to grow, or even to survive. The number of countries which present business opportunities is growing daily – only helped by the technology available.

The Economist Intelligence Unit predicts that in 2010 Chinese economic growth will reach 8.5%, India 6.1%, Brazil 3.3% and Russia 2.5%. This is in contrast to the UK figure of 1.1%.

Identifying the most appropriate location is often a difficult decision and can be complicated by fast changing conditions. It is worth taking a look at a recent World Bank report on the relative ease of doing business in different countries www.doingbusiness.org/EconomyRankings

Company leaders will need to consider factors such as the ease of setting up (and dismantling) a corporate entity in a different country, taxation, the costs of labour, telecommunications, ease of employing (and dismissing) staff, communications, infrastructure, cultural affinity, and ease of transportation.

By adopting a global mindset, companies can seize wider opportunities in terms of markets and skills. The UK is uniquely placed to benefit from the opportunities available; with excellent direct international transport links, the GMT time zone, the English language and an entrepreneurial approach to business.

Pandora's Box has been opened; globalisation is here to stay. It is imperative that UK business leaders look overseas to achieve growth and success.

Quickstart Global's In-House Anywhere" service helps companies to establish direct offices and employees around the world. It provides organisations with access to recruitment facilities, office space, infrastructure and HR services. The idea is to help businesses expand their in-house capabilities without the risk, complexity and investment conventionally involved with operations overseas.

USING TECHNOLOGY TO TACKLE SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Stephen Clarke, managing director of award-winning telecommunications firm Truancy Call, reveals his secrets for business growth and innovation.

Inspired by an article about two children who went missing on their way to school, I spotted a market niche for technology to safeguard children by contacting parents of truants on their first-day of absence. My business was founded in 2000, although the core technology has since been adapted to address additional issues such as bullying and term-time absence.

It works by allowing two-way communication between public sector organisations and parents or guardians through automated calls, texts and emails. These are social problems that affect people around the world and we are also investing in new market ventures overseas.

Here are some of my top tips for growth and innovation.

  • Minimise costs by selling and installing your product over the phone. Pass those savings on to your customers.
  • Structure your team to ensure optimum productivity. For example, employ technical staff to implement remote customer training and installation so that sales staff can focus on new business.
  • Streamline your business to make it more robust. One way would be to outsource telesales so that you can vary the use of these services, as demand requires.
  • Offer and deliver excellent after-sales support. Ask existing customers for feedback and make courtesy calls every few months.
  • Focus on your strengths and most profitable products.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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