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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 support, north east hampshire

Starting your own biz? Where to find business support and training in North East Hampshire

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. Here in the South East 51,965 new businesses were formed in 2017 (most recent figures) a rate of 12%. Many of these business will be ‘microbusinesses’, defined as a business employing between 0-9 people, which is probably what you’ll be – at least to start with. In fact, 95% of all UK businesses were microbusinesses in 2018, with a collective turnover of £808 billion!

However, it should also be noted that as well as ‘business births’ in the same period there were 48,295 ‘business deaths’, businesses that cease trading for some reason.

While many of these business deaths may be unrelated to their success – for example someone folds their business because of retirement or a change in lifestyle – some will have gone under because they weren’t profitable or succeeding as their founders had planned.

So if you’re going into business for the first time, it’s really important to get the business support and training you need. Fortunately, there are lots of places you can get help. Here are some resources in North East Hampshire.

North East Hampshire Business Support & Training

Alton Chamber of Commerce & Industry

For businesses local to Alton, this Chamber provides a voice, lobbying, promotion and support through collective initiatives and business events. Find out more here.

Bordon Hub

Based at SiGNAL the Bordon Hub offers local business owners weekly meetings with a focus on developing skills, business training and education. For sole traders and microbusiness owners the Hub acts as an accountability partner, helping individuals stay on track and achieving business goals in line with their business plans. More details about joining the Bordon Hub can be found here.

Enterprise First

This enterprise agency helps businesses in Hampshire (and beyond) start up and develop. Services include a Business Toolkit of free resources, access to start up loans and funding, advice and mentoring, and Enterprise First also delivers the Start and Grow programme. Click here for more information.

Enterprise M3 Growth Hub

Local Enterprise Partnerships provide strategic leadership for economic renewal, working across the public and private sectors to tackle economic issues such as transport, skills and enterprise. Enterprise M3 covers the M3 corridor including Whitehill & Bordon. Click to visit Enterprise M3

FIELDFARE: Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE)

North East Hampshire is a rural area and has a programme in place to support rural development. While the current programme is now closed for applications, future funding and support may be available. More details here.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

Covering the whole of Hampshire this organisation offers business support, training and events, as well as lobbying on behalf of its members and promoting Hampshire businesses as a whole. Find out more here.

SiGNAL Bordon

Alongside the Bordon Hub, SiGNAL offers a range of business workshops and events aimed at entrepreneurs, sole traders and small business owners. This includes Office 365 training to help you get the most of its various functions, improving business communications, collaboration, productivity and time management. View SiGNAL’s calendar of business events here.

As well as getting practical business support and training, start up business owners can also benefit from business networking events and other opportunities to be part of their local business community.

Using a dedicated coworking space can be a great way to connect with other local business owners, and benefit from their support and expertise. Click on the links below to explore local coworking spaces in Hampshire, and also networking events in the area.

Coworking spaces in Hampshire

Business networking events in North East Hampshire

bordon hub, business support

How to make the Bordon Hub work for your small business

Joining the Bordon Hub is a great way to get the support and skills needed to grow your small business. But as the saying goes, you only get out what you put in, so if you want to get value from your membership you need to make the Bordon Hub work for you!

Below are our tips for getting the most out of the Hub and helping us give you the business support you need.

7 ways to get value from your Bordon Hub membership

  1. Attend Hub meetings regularly!

The backbone of the Bordon Hub is our programme of weekly meetings. These are designed to give you essential business skills and help you grow. While you can watch the videos of these sessions online (our members-only Facebook group has a library of videos from all the talks from the Bordon, Farnham and Guildford Hubs), there’s no substitute for being in the room.

  1. Tell us you’re coming

We know it’s a drag to register for our Hub sessions on Eventbrite, especially as you don’t need to pay as they’re included in your membership, but it really helps us to deliver a useful meeting if we know who’s coming. Where possible we can tailor content to your needs and help our trainers and speakers prepare so the session is more valuable. For example, if we know that everyone in the room is selling B2B products or services, we can focus on those types of businesses rather than B2C.

  1. Ask questions and ask for help

Our experience running business hubs means that we can second guess some of your questions and the areas that you might want help with, but we’re not mind readers! Please don’t hesitate to ask questions at the meetings and get the support you need. If you need help with anything that’s not covered in a Hub session, speak to us and we’ll try to introduce you to someone who can help or get the information you need.

  1. Do your homework!

At many of our Hub meetings you’ll get a workbook so you can take practical steps to put what you’ve learned into action. Sometimes we have time to get cracking during the morning and run an implementation session. Other times you’ll need to go away and do a bit of homework. Once a month we have a members only mini-Mastermind that’s also an opportunity to recap over the past few weeks and get ‘unstuck’ if you haven’t been able to do something. Try to make this session and stay on track.

  1. Help others in the group

Our business community is successful because everyone’s in it together. Unlike many business networking events where attendees are only interested in selling to other attendees, our members are more interested in helping each other succeed. From sharing their expertise and experience with others, flagging up useful information or events, recommending each other’s services to connections, to going above and beyond to offer support and friendship when someone needs it. The members only Facebook group is a great place to help each other or use the #hubhelp hashtag to request support.

  1. Give us feedback

We’re continually reviewing and improving the Bordon Hub with the sole purpose of helping you grow your business. But we can’t do that without your feedback! Please try to find time at the end of a meeting to complete our feedback form or just speak to one of our team about the session. You can also email or call us if you think of something at another time. Don’t leave us in the dark about what you think!

  1. Spread the word

While we handpick guest speakers and trainers to deliver really useful talks and practical workshops, the member base is also important to our success. When lots of people turn up for a Hub meeting, everyone gets more out of the session as we all have different experiences, points of view and questions to ask. Our combined expertise is also beneficial to all of us, as are new faces and new members! So if you’re finding the Bordon Hub is making a difference to your business, please tell other local business owners about it and suggest they come along for a free taster.

If you’re not a member and would like to experience the Bordon Hub for yourself, have a look at the events we’ve got coming up and choose the ‘I’m a visitor, it’s FREE!’ when you select your ticket.

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 hub, business Facebook group

Business Facebook groups: how to engage with your local business community

Are you using business Facebook groups to grow your business? Many business owners and entrepreneurs are finding that Facebook is the ideal platform to connect and engage with their local business community, and in turn grow their businesses. It’s time to join them!

Why not LinkedIn? Of course LinkedIn groups are also a very valuable way to build professional relationships, but in our experience it’s been much easier to build an online local business community using Facebook because people are using it for these reasons:

  • They have a business Facebook page that needs daily management – posting new content and responding to customers interactions.
  • They’re investing in Facebook Ads to promote their products or services.
  • They have a personal Facebook profile that you use to keep in touch with friends and family, some of whom may also be business connections.
  • They use Facebook groups to engage with customers, especially subject interest or local community groups.

So from a practical point-of-view, using Facebook for B2B interactions is easy, you’re probably already there and so is everyone else!

However, some business Facebook groups are not good examples of how to build an online community and help grow each other’s businesses. You may already have been a member of ones where interactions are predominately those of a sales nature. These groups can often have a high rate of churn as members become disengaged because of the amount of self-promotion that goes on.

It’s a problem for most Facebook groups. Whatever the group’s rules, some people can’t resist spamming the group with their business Facebook page or link to their website! Our approach with the groups we manage is to be proactive moderators, by asking members to take down posts if they’re too promotional and ultimately block repeat offenders!

But we also try to encourage best practice in our groups, by sharing content that we know our members will be interested in and leading by example. When you also do the same, I promise you’ll find membership of a Facebook business group much more rewarding. Below are my tips for getting started:

Tips for engaging in business Facebook groups

1.     Introduce yourself!

When you join a group, let other members know you’re there. Don’t share your Facebook business page and leave it at that, give them a few more clues as to who you are, what you do and what you’re hoping to get out of the group. Remember, you’re not necessarily talking to customers (although some members may be interested in buying from you), instead your objective should be to become part of the online community, learn from others and share your experience and expertise too.

2.     Think about how you can help others

Often people will post questions or ask for advice in a business Facebook group, so if you have the answers please share! It’s about helping other businesses grow as much as your own, and by offering advice and sharing your expertise you’ll build your credibility in the group and become the ‘go to’ expert. This approach could result in referrals and members buying your products and services. In fact in our experience, especially for those that offer B2B services, it’s a very good way to establish your authority and raising brand awareness.

3.     Ask for support and advice

Similarly, another way to engage with the group is to ask for help. We use the hashtag #hubhelp to flag up members’ requests for support. As well as getting much needed advice or market research, it’s a great way to learn more about other members and build useful relationships. You’ll also find it raises your profile and helps to keep your brand at the forefront of other members’ minds.

4.     Help promote other members’ businesses

Where appropriate, help other businesses to grow by sharing their content. For example, if someone is hosting an event that you think would be of interest to someone in your network – share it! Remember, you can share content directly with individual Facebook friends so your personal newsfeed isn’t full of business related posts. You can also share content to another page or group if that’s a better option. Other group members will appreciate your support and may reciprocate when the opportunity arises.

5.     Share useful content

Finally, if you come across an interesting article that other members might like to read, share it! Or share an event that you think they may like to attend – e.g. local business expos, business awards, clinics and workshops. If you’ve been given some fantastic advice that’s revolutionised the way you do business, or a great app that’s transformed your working day – share it! That’s what business Facebook groups should be all about: sharing knowledge, information, inspiration and support to help everyone be more successful.

The Bordon Hub runs two business Facebook groups, a members-only group and another open to any local business. To join, click on the links below:

Bordon and Alton Business Hub – members and non-members

Business Hub Members – members only (for more information about joining The Bordon Hub click here)

SiGNAL, our host for The Bordon Hub and team HQ, also runs a few local business interest groups which you may like to join. Again, click on the links to join these local communities:

North East Hampshire Artisans, Crafters, Makers and More!

Bordon Builders Network

3D TECH ZONE NORTH EAST HAMPSHIRE

Wellness practitioners and therapists in North East Hampshire

Click here to learn more about the Bordon Hub