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All posts by Emma Selby

What’s your story? Storytelling for small businesses

Next month the Bordon Hub has a focus on content and communicating your company’s story. Whether it’s through PR, publishing blog posts or writing engaging copy, telling a story about you and your business is the most effective way to engage customers. We’ve got PR gurus, blogging experts and copywriting maestros delivering talks and workshops throughout May, so if you need support book your seat at the Hub!

All Bordon Hub events are listed here.

 

The importance of storytelling for business

When asked about your business what do you say? Do you go for the “what” approach, explaining what your product or service is; the benefits, the stats, and how your offering works. Or do you take the “why” approach selling your business through your unique story of why you are here.

The thing is that most of us aren’t all that interested in what your product or service does on first point of contact. Save this until you’re actively asked for details. This is true in all kinds of scenarios. For example when someone visits your website, you meet another business owner at a networking event or a potential customer walks through the door of your premises.

We all want to hear a good story. We want reasons to engage with a business and the people behind it, we want to make a connection. But why? If someone asks you “what do you do?” surely they don’t want a story about the inspiration behind your business? Well, I think they do. Not necessarily the whole story, but enough for them to want to know more.

Storytelling for business owners

Many of us sell products or services that are a solution to a particular problem. Here at the Hub we provide business training and support, designed to solve specific issues small business owners have.

Essentially, my story is that I have run a number of small businesses, some successful and some less so, but all could have benefited from the services we provide at the Hub. Secondly, I am passionate about my local community; being an active member of it, getting involved with local causes, making it a better place to live and do business in, so my story combines the two in the creation of a local business hub.

From the offset this story (the reason why I’m here) has driven the business. I have got tremendous support from others because they have “bought into” my story; whether they have shared similar experiences, are motivated by the same goals or are inspired by the Hub concept and want to be part of it.

As the Hub has become more established I can retell my story for the benefit of business owners who find they need our services, even when they don’t know they do! By explaining what makes me tick and why I’m passionate about what we are delivering at the Hub, they can clearly see the benefits of our services and that we provide a solution to the problems they face.

Telling your story humanises your business

Whatever stage your business is at and whether you are looking for investment, suppliers, retail outlets, staff or customers, people want to know about you. A business can’t be trustworthy, reliable, creative, flexible, innovative (pick your adjective), only the people in it. And to demonstrate these qualities you have to do more than make grandiose claims, you need to be able to back these up. Your story can do this.

So what’s your story? Does your website, marketing and other communications tell your story and engage those people you would like to do business with? If not, perhaps it’s time to clarify in your own mind what your story is and how to change the way you talk about yourself, your team, or your product in ways that people can really relate to.

There are many ways you can tell you story, from changing your ‘elevator pitch’ when networking, rewriting your ‘about us’ page on your website, regularly publishing blog posts and finding PR opportunities to get your story in front of prospects. If you need help with this, make May 2019 the month you develop your storytelling skills and come along to our Hub meetings!

Find event details and booking here.

business plans

Q1 is almost over, are you on track with your business plans for 2019?

It seems like only a few weeks ago when we were hosting our Jumpstart January events and meeting business owners who wanted to kickstart 2019! It’s now almost the end of Q1 and a great opportunity to see whether you’re on track, celebrate what you’ve achieved and give yourself another kick up the b**t to get going…

If you’re a member of the Bordon Hub I hope that you feel like you’ve made some progress. Regular attendees will have participated in our ‘Organising for success’ sessions back in January, have gained some useful new skills in ‘Marketing month’ in February, and will now be thinking about pricing, tax and spreadsheets as we explore ‘Know your numbers’ this month. Those members who’ve taken advantage of a Your Business Growth Plan session with Stuart Morrison will also be taking steps to reach their goals as identified during the session.

BTW, it’s not too late to join the Bordon Hub and kickstart your business growth plans! You can pick up our programme at any time of the year and will get access to all the workbooks and resources we’ve shared so far. Join the Bordon Hub here.

The Q1 business growth review

Before the end of March, let’s all take a few minutes to see how 2019 has gone so far…

Step 1: Are you on track?

If you set yourself some specific goals this year, and broke them down into achievable smaller steps, how’s it going for you? Have you achieved what you set out to do and are you on track to get where you want to be?

Well done you, if you’re on track! Move on to the next step ‘celebrate what you’ve achieved’! If you haven’t quite achieved what you hoped to, think about the following to see where you can move forward:

  • Where your goals realistic? In the excitement of making business plans you may have overestimated what you could feasibly achieve. If that’s the case, inject a bit of realism into the next quarter and align your goals and next steps with what you can realistically manage.
  • Have things changed? Are there any factors that have impacted your business plans? For example external factors like a competitor setting up in the area or internal factors like a member of staff handing in their notice. If something has changed make sure you assess how that will affect your ability to achieve this year’s targets and adjust accordingly.
  • Did you get distracted or demotivated? As with any goal setting there’s always a danger that our own human fallibilities will derail our plans. Own up to it and change that mindset from prevaricating, making excuses or blaming others for our own mistakes and reboot your plans for Q2 instead!

Step 2: Celebrate what you’ve achieved

Rewards are a great way to motivate yourself and your team. If you’ve hit all your targets (or most of them) for Q1 take the time to celebrate, even if they feel like quite modest achievements. We want to keep those motivation levels high, and that’s difficult if you’re playing a long game where those big goals are going to take time to achieve. So give yourself, and your team if appropriate, a reward to keep you on track throughout Q2 and beyond.

Step 3: Give yourself a kick up the b**t

Everyone can benefit from a little kick up the b**t whether we’ve achieved our targets this quarter or not. For those of us who found it easy let’s up the ante a little and adjust our goals and targets to make us work a little bit harder. You could get to where you want to be a lot faster if you challenge yourself a bit more.

If you didn’t achieve those goals because you prevaricated, got distracted or simply found it hard to motivate yourself, a really effective way of getting out of this rut is to find yourself an accountability partner. That’s someone who will kick your b**t for you – not too hard – and help you get motivated and focused on what you need to do.

The Bordon Hub can be your accountability partner if you haven’t got a business coach, partner or a friend / family member that can offer this support. That’s what our mini-Mastermind sessions at the end of each month are designed to do: we check with our members to see whether they’re on track, address any challenges they have, and give everyone a motivational warm hug to encourage them to stick with it and continue putting in the hard work!

Don’t forget that members of the Bordon Hub can also join our members-only Facebook group where our network of Hub members (Farnham, Guildford and Bordon) hang out. This is your tribe of people who are all routing for each other’s success, offering support, asking for help, collaborating and building connections. You can request membership of this group here.

growth hacking,

Growth Hacking for Micro and Small Businesses

What do our Bordon Hub members share in common? They all want their micro or small businesses to grow! Whether that’s with the goal of becoming a larger company or simply to increase profitability so that their owners can enjoy the lifestyle they want, we all want growth.

Joining the Bordon Hub is obviously a step in the right direction (I would say that) but what else can you do that doesn’t bust your budget and provides some quick wins? Growth hacking touches on all departments within a company: marketing, finance, product, operations, HR. Growth hacking opportunities may lie within the design of a product, rather than the way it’s marketed. Or there could even be ways to grow the business by exploring your company culture, for example by attracting employees and customers with a better fit to your business. We explore some of these opportunities in our programme of meetings and workshops at the Bordon Hub, and also when we sit down for an initial 1-2-1 to explore your growth plan.

But what about things you can do easily yourself? Read on…

5 tried and tested growth hacks for small businesses

Here are 5 growth hacks that won’t necessarily cost you money, but can increase the virality of your business and help you achieve your growth objectives.

  1. Set Up Google My Business

Google My Business enables your business to be found by customers on Google. If you’ve noticed search results featuring a Google map and a listing of businesses highlighted on the map, this is how to get on the map!

As well as Google make sure you have up-to-date listings with online directories, especially the local and specialist ones. Online searches often return results from Yell and other directories high in SERPs, so get on there too.

  1. Use Your Personal Network

Your address book is potentially full of people who could help you grow your local business. They might not be your target customers, but they could have connections that are.  Engage with them, explain what you are doing – you may be surprised how they can help.

Remember it’s not just about reaching target customers, your personal network may have some interesting ideas of how you can grow your business in other ways too. You may not be targeting UX designers with your business offering, but a friendly one might have some interesting methods to increase conversions on your website. Similarly a friend running a local event may have the perfect opportunity for you to get in front of potential customers in a relevant and meaningful way.

  1. Get Your Customers To Grow Your Business

If you’ve got happy customers it’s easy to incentivise them to spread the word about your business. Referral schemes come in all shapes and sizes, and can be tailored specifically for your customers. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost you money either, if your customers are happy with your service they will only need a bit of encouragement to tell their friends.

Many successful startups have used referrals to dramatically grow their business. Just look at companies like Dropbox who incentivise their existing customers to refer their friends in exchange for additional storage space. Those new sign ups are then encouraged to sign up their friends to increase their storage; out of all of those sign ups a percentage go on to buy additional storage and become a paying customer.

These schemes generally work when everyone gets rewarded – existing customer and referee.

Remember, it’s about perceived value not the actual value of the reward so make sure it’s a relevant offer; one that will allow you to upsell to your existing customer and onboard the prospect.

  1. Milk Testimonials For All They’re Worth!

Reviews and testimonials are a major factor for customers making a decision about your business. If you’re a local business, testimonials from local customers carry even more weight, as prospects will identify more with a local reviewer than one 300 miles away.

Google and Facebook allow customers to leave reviews, or you could even create social media graphics featuring your most recent testimonials. Don’t forget to use them offline as well, include them on marketing material, even the side of your work vehicle!

  1. Check Out The Local Scene

Even businesses that offer products or services to a nationwide or global customer base, can benefit from growing their business at a local level. There are lots of opportunities to get your business in front of potential customers at local events, on local listings, local media and local networking groups. It’s just a question of identifying where those customers like to hang out, and targeting them in an appropriate way.

Take a leaf out of photographer Matthew Burch’s book who photographs many of the Bordon Hub and Farnham Hub events. Not only do prospects go to these events, but his branded photographs are subsequently shared to a wider network of targets afterwards on social media and the Hubs marketing material.

If you have a great growth hack you can share, whether it’s something other business owners could use or just an interesting example of a successful strategy – please leave a comment below.

business events

Attending business events – how to get the most out of them

Today we signed up our 30th member to the Bordon Hub – way to go team and welcome to all our new members, you’ve found the right place to be part of a fantastic local business community and get the support needed to grow your business!

Joining a business support group or, for that matter attending any business-related events and workshops, is only one step to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in your business venture. Membership or attendance alone isn’t enough, although turning up certainly helps!

Participation is vital if you want to get the most out of any business event, which is why I thought it would be useful to run through a few ideas for ensuring you get value for money, and value for the time you spend away from your business.

Obviously there are lots of different types of events – talks, workshops, conferences, expos and networking – so you may need to change your tactics depending on what event you’re going to. But based on our own Hub meetings, here are my tips for getting the most out of attending business events.

1.     Research the speaker and subject matter

I would highly recommend spending a little bit of time researching the theme of the event (if it has one) and if there’s a guest speaker or trainer, finding out a bit about them. This will help you understand how the content might relate to your business so you’re primed to get the most out of the session.

2.     Prepare some questions beforehand

Often in their closing speech, a speaker or host will ask if ‘anyone’s got any questions?’ Hopefully, throughout the presentation or workshop, ideas for questions will pop up in your head and if you haven’t already had them answered, now’s the time to put your hand up!

But sometimes your mind might go blank and you only remember that crucial question until you’re on your way home. So a good tactic is to jot down a few questions beforehand, particularly those that are pertinent to your business, as well as any that you think of during the session. Then refer to these when you get the opportunity to put your questions to the speaker.

3.     Take notes

Be prepared with pen and paper or tablet to take notes during the event. You might be given some resources too, which you can annotate with your own comments. Where possible try to make your notes relevant to your own business so when you review them later you can see what actions you need to take.

4.     Talk to other attendees

Generally at Hub meetings and other business events there will be a wealth of experience in the room. While the trainer or speaker may be a subject matter expert, other attendees may have first hand experience of the subject and their insights can be really valuable.

Take the opportunity to talk to other people, such as during the coffee break or after the session, about the subject, their business and their experience. We can all learn from each other.

5.     Follow up after the event

There are several ways you might want to follow up after a business event. You may want to get in touch with the speaker to ask another question or get more information from them. You may want to follow up with another attendee and develop that relationship – please do we’re all about community building here! Or you may have feedback for the event organiser, good or bad, to help them gauge how useful the session was.

At the Bordon Hub we’re very keen to get your feedback, so please complete our feedback forms or email us with any comments. These will be used to develop our programme of events and how we help our members.

bordon business hub, business support, networking

Bordon businesses are excited about 2019!

Yesterday we hosted our first Jumpstart January Roadshow at SiGNAL in Bordon. If the turnout was anything to go by we can confidently say that Bordon business owners are really motivated to make 2019 a successful year!

It was standing room only by the time everyone had arrived for business expert and Bordon Hub host Stuart Morrison’s talk. He then took attendees on an upbeat and inspiring journey to understand what key strategies they should be adopting to grow their businesses this year.

Sharing advice and practical tips along the way, there was an almost tangible increase in energy and motivation levels by the end of Stu’s talk! Here’s what just a few of the attendees said about the morning:

“Excellent, inspired again!”

“The content was very useful and resonated with me.”

“Well done, great talk and great speaker!”

“Really good, dynamic content”

If you missed yesterday’s roadshow, as the name suggests we’re out on the road delivering more of these free events this month. Tomorrow (Thurs 10th Jan) we’re in Haslemere – click here if you want to come along, there’s still time to book – then we’re off to Petersfield, Liphook, back to Bordon and end our roadshows in Alton. Scroll down for booking links.

Networking and business support

The roadshows are not only an opportunity to hear Stu talk and experience the type of content and value The Bordon Hub delivers, they’re also a chance to meet other local business owners. Being part of a community of like-minded people can be really beneficial, providing support, expertise and first-hand experience of running a business. In our opinion networking shouldn’t be about trying to do business with other people in the room, although that can be a positive by-product of any business relationship. Instead the focus should be about building a supportive community of people who are invested in each other’s success, one of the aims of The Bordon Hub and SiGNAL where we’re based.

Stu covers this topic in the roadshow, particularly the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded people with a positive outlook on growing a local business. That’s not to say that a reality check might not be in order from time-to-time. You need people around you who are prepared to question your choices and challenge you in a constructive way. That might mean that your friends and family are not the right people to discuss your business plans with, unless they understand where you’re coming from and have useful insights to share. If they don’t, perhaps it’s time to find ‘your people’ for this aspect of your life?

So, if you like the attendees at our event in Bordon want to grow your business in 2019, come along to one of our roadshows for 2 two reasons!

  1. Get inspired and motivated by Stuart’s fantastic talk, and put into action his advice and practical tips,
  2. Meet other local business people who know what you’re going through and are also interested in building a supportive local business community.

There’s a 3rd reason to attend as well! That’s the goody bag we’re giving to all attendees that’s worth over £80!  Below are all the remaining dates for our Jumpstart January Roadshows, hope to see you at one of them:

  • Thursday 10th January 9:30 – 11:30 @ Lythe Hill Hotel Haslemere – BOOK HERE
  • Tuesday 15th January 9:30 – 11:30 @ Causeway Business Centre Petersfield – BOOK HERE
  • Thursday 17th January 9:30 – 11:30 @ Lipbook Millenium Centre Liphook – BOOK HERE
  • Tuesday 22nd January 9:30 – 11:30 @ BASE Innovation Centre Bordon – BOOK HERE
  • Thursday 24th January 9:30 – 11:30 @ Alton Maltings Alton – BOOK HERE