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7 Steps to Starting a Business in 2018

7 Steps to Starting a Business in 2018

Every year, there are literally thousands of people and groups who find themselves wanting to start a business. According to well-know statistics, at least 80% of these start-ups fail in the first two years – why?

The main reasons for this are:

  1. Lack of Business Knowledge – what to do when you set up a business, how to manage staff, financials, perform simple bookkeeping, chasing debt etc. 
  2. Overspending and Overtrading – spending too much and trying to grow too quickly, or in other words, doing too much, too soon.
  3. No Focus – overwhelmingly, very few new business have a strong sense of work ethic and the work in takes to get a business off the ground. 
  4.  No Plan – very few business start-ups begin with the simplest thing – a business plan, in fact, many start with a lack of direction before they launch their business.
  5. No Marketing Know-How – it’s ok if you’re starting with a list of in-place contracts and guaranteed income streams but for many, this is not the case; or where it is, business trading relies on one customer only. It’s not a favourable situation. Marketing is a term that is over-used but not well understood.

 

In this post, I’ll be highlighting the 7 most important steps to take in starting up a business, properly, in 2018. You may feel like adding things along the way but generally, without these 7 fundamentals, you’re likely to end up as just another failed start-up statistic:

steel city hub business build

 

There’s a fancy, little way to give an overview of the key steps.  Now for more information:

 

  1. NAME SAVE

It’s not on the list of usual advice but from being in the business game for a number of years, it’s an issue that comes up time and time again and can be a costly mistake. What does Name Save mean?

Simply that when you think of a business name that you really like, check that no one else has it and save it one everything. I’m not just talking about setting up your new company on Companies House, that our partners, Hill & Co Accountants, Sheffield can help you with: www.hillandcoaccountants.com.

Your business domain name should be saved as soon as possible because there are companies out there who will buy the domain names of new company set-ups i.e. if you set up “Clean My House UK Ltd,” you’ll want ‘www.cleanmyhouseuk.co.uk’ or .com.

The same applies for getting your social media platforms set up – something we can obviously help you with i.e. your Twitter will need to be something like @cleanmyhouseuk and Instagram too. You get the idea.

 

  2. BUSINESS PLAN

A business plan is the simplest way to get your business into focus. It’ll help you plan and look at what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. It’ll help you write an overview about your business, look at financial planning, potential revenue, your competitors, analysis of how you’ll fit your business into the current trade or sector.

We have a guide for start-up or developing businesses on how to write business plans and get started with marketing.

TO REQUEST THE FREE BUSINESS PLAN/MARKETING GUIDE, ENTER YOUR DETAILS HERE:

 

  3. MARKETING PLAN

Similar to the business plan, the marketing plan will help narrow down how your business will reach its intended audience. It’ll help you lay out how you will reach your customers and attract people or businesses that your business is aimed at.

For a more detailed look at what you need to do to create an effective marketing plan from initial research, your target audience analysis, your unique selling point and your competitor research right through to your social media, marketing and PR strategy, you can request the guide using the contact form above.

For help with writing a marketing/business plan, you can e-mail us: thegapsbetween@gmail.com or for more marketing advice, see our article: What is Marketing?

 

  4. BUILD A FOLLOWING

The most successful companies of late have worked on building a tribe, a community or a following. However you envisage getting people interested in your business, building a community of supporters is vital for continued success.

Your following, whether online or offline, can be your family, friends, customers, clients, followers on social media, page likers, other businesses you work with – whoever, they are there to boost your business, support it and provide free advertising for you.

One way that businesses are building a following at the moment is to run a Facebook Group. This links to your Facebook business page but provides those more interested in your services/products with a space to communicate with you and give feedback on a more intimate level. You can find out more information on building a following for your business by either dropping into one of our FREE Business Sessions (see above), in Sheffield, or by following us on social media.

 

5.  CUSTOMER LOVE

A huge reason that a lot of start-up’s fail is that they simply don’t know how to treat their key people – their customers. By creating a process (which can be formed while you produce your business plan), of how you treat your customers, you’ll not only retain current customers but you’ll also attract new ones because your word-of-mouth testimonials will be so good.

What do I mean by a process?

Firstly, the initial point of contact. How you advertise or attract your customers. Hard sell is old fashioned and a little embarrassing, unless you’re at a specific ‘talk about your business’ event. Speak to your audience like you care about THEIR needs, not your own.

Secondly, once you have them as a client. Make them feel special. A lot like a romantic relationship, keep clear lines of communication. If they e-mail you, e-mail back. If they want some advice, give it to them, unless they’re asking for your particular paid knowledge.

Particularly, DON’T SURPRISE THEM WITH UNEXPECTED FEES. I was recently on a Facebook group where someone was slating a business because she phoned this business for advice then was sent a bill for the phone call a few days later without any prior warning. She wasn’t even told during the phone call that there were fees to pay.

Always make your fees and charges clear and easy to understand. People get angry and can damage your reputation if you ignore this.

Thirdly, when you’ve finished working with them, treat them with respect. Follow up, don’t talk behind their backs to others. Encourage them to work with you again one day. Ask them for their feedback or a testimonial and leave them the same if they require one.

 

  6. CLOUD YOURSELF

It’s not on the usual start up list but this is 2018, not 2008. Everything is becoming cloud-based. What does cloud-based mean? It means keeping your information, whether that be your bookkeeping, your files, your photographs and your financials up there in the cloud.

It sounds scary, but it really isn’t. It’s safe (and will soon be safer, thanks to GDPR), and a good way to ensure maximum working efficiency. Instead of having to log onto a certain computer to raise your invoices or save your work only on your laptop hard drive, through cloud-based software, you can really be efficient, working from any computer, phone or tablet, at anytime. It’s a no-brainer and serves as extra points for customers who might want a cloud-relationship. Our favourites for small businesses are:

QuickBooks – Bookkeeping & Accounting Software

Dropbox – Files/Photo Sharing & Working Software.

 

  7. PROTECT & GROW

Ok, so we’ve squeeze two important things into one here. I’ll summarise these to save boredom. Basically, if you have a product that’s worth a patent, protect it. Insure you business by looking for good deals on business insurance comparison websites.

Make sure you know about Copyright laws. Don’t try to use anyone else’s photographs or quotes without their permission or without properly providing source evidence. If you’re writing something, get it read by a proof-reader (we offer this service) to ensure you’re not infringing anyone’s rights or doing anything wrong.

Business is a political and legal minefield and we’ve seen so many people, with the best intentions, get taken to court or fined heavily. The best way to protect your business from the off is to seek legal and proper business advice.

In terms of growth, look at your business plan and seek advice on growth opportunities. There is so much funding out there for small businesses to utilize. It’s always worth considering funding options without having to go straight for a loan.

We want to help you start and grow your business and that’s why we are proud to be partnering with Hill & Co Accountants in Sheffield to be offering this:

On Friday 23rd March 2018, 9.30am – 11.30am, we are holding a FREE Business Drop In Session with our partners, Hill & Co Accountants in Sheffield (see image above). Here’s we’ll be able to guide you through any business start-up issues you may have and advise on the costs of running a business. We are also there to help with any accountancy, bookkeeping or business planning advice you may need, as well as marketing advice and funding advice. To book, please call: 0114 2315400 or e-mail: hillandcosheffield@gmail.com.  

 

We hope you enjoyed our 7 Steps to Starting a Business in 2018 and if you’d like weekly advice, please join our Facebook group – it’s FREE!

Build With Steel Business Community!

You can also Like our Business Page @SteelCityHub on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @SteelCityHub1, follow us on Instagram @Steelcityhub or just get in touch to discuss your needs. We’re always listening.

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Writing: Let the Creature Within Be Free

As humans, we all have ‘animalistic’ tendencies; to eat, to sleep, to go after a mate, and most importantly, to be a success, in any sense of the word. We are all creatures. But unlike animals, humans are emotional and irrational; we judge, we criticise and we want what gratifies ourselves.

 

Everyone’s a Writer

It’s an old saying that everyone, no matter what level of intelligence he or she holds, has a story within them. We all have something to say. A story of profound events within our lives, a regular, hilarious day at home with the kids, a dream of such magnitude and un-forgettability that it’s worth putting pen to paper; there’s plenty that each of us could say.

A small minority of the most successful authors out there can profess to be the best writers with the highest level of technical knowledge when it comes to the written word. What about the rest? They had an idea. They took that idea forward, focused on their goal and made a success of their lives. The idea came first, they dealt with the rest later – learning how to write for their audience, reading their own work, editing their work, re-editing their work, getting friends to edit it, finding an agent to edit it before eventually publishing. Or, in more modern times, finding a target audience, learning how to engage that target audience and self-publishing.

As many a self-help author has re-iterated, it’s not about how well you can write, it’s about how passionate you are with your idea and how you make others passionate about your idea too.

Avoid Critising Others

You may wonder what criticising others has to do with writing. In fact, many a writer both published and unpublished has let him or herself down by criticising the actions of others, whether that be in person, on paper, on social media or in interview.

As Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) would say, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

how to win friends and influence people. Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Source: Wikipedia.org

Of course, there are writers in the world who make a living from critiquing the work of others’ and while an author’s pride may be hurt when reading a bad review, if one is a good critique writer, the author should be influenced and motivated to do better.

This Carnegie book has sold a mere 30 million copies and has been updated several times but never re-written. Carnegie, more than anyone, knew the power of words and the impact they could have on a person, both positive and negative.

Writing isn’t just about skill. It’s about how well you portray your ideas and influence the audience; giving them what they want, not just what you think they need. Success will follow.

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own,” writes Carnegie.

We are all creatures, let your writing creature be free.

If you’d like to contact me, please e-mail Kate: thegapsbetween@gmail.com.

I offer business writing, creative writing, content writing, sales writing, social media content creation, blogging, PR and much more. You can view my current list of services HERE.

Community and Business: Alternative Marketing

Community and business don’t generally go hand in hand, traditionally, but that was the past. This is 2018. Welcome to the future! Here in 2018, showing some ‘community’ love can give your business the boost that it needs. Here at the hub, we’ve helped several clients adopt a more alternative marketing strategy for business and what a difference it can make…

In all seriousness, you might wonder what community has to do with business and marketing one at that.  If you’ve been in business for a while, you are probably familiar with the mounds of charity mail, sponsorship requests and cold-calling methods used by charities on a weekly basis.  We all have to earn our bread, and usually, if you’re not completely cold-hearted or being scammed, you feel a well of empathy for the cause.  “Not this time, sorry.”  It’s profits or poverty for some business owners, literally.

Turn it on its Head

However, if you believe in universal laws of attraction and manifestation that I touched on briefly in my blog, Business and Mindfulness, you’ll know that giving means that you’ll receive. As a business owner, you don’t have to believe in this but what you do have to believe in is the people around your business who prop you up, support you and show you some love.

You can be creative on how you give back to the community.  Giving your time around work for a good cause or developing creative ideas on how to raise awareness/money for a local charity works not only for your chosen receiver, but it has miraculous ways of working for your business too. Here’s an example of how we’ve encouraged a very ethical, community-led marketing strategy for one of our clients:

Air Environmental: The Family Fun Day & Football Tournament

logo air environmental

On 29th April, Steel City Hub is helping our very community-focused client, Air Environmental Ltd pave the way for business owners with a large-scale, local fundraising event. The football tournament, made up of teams from various businesses and organisations around the South Yorkshire region, will be held in aid of two special charities,

The Children’s Hospital Charity #TeamTheo

Muscular Dystrophy UK

The event will be held at Niagara Sports & Social Club, Sheffield, S6 1LU.

Time: 1-5pm

The fundraising for the event has already passed £500 and donations are expected to flood in from local businesses and individuals over the next few weeks. Here’s the fundraising page:  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/syfootballtournament

On the day, it’s free entry and families will be presented with a host of games, a raffle, live music, activities, food, opportunities to partake in the fun of the day with a penalty shoot-out for children and so much more. The teams battling it out in the football tournament will be able to enjoy some brief fame and winners will be presented with a trophy. It’s all to play for.

For more information about this event or for sponsorship details, please e-mail: thegapsbetween@gmail.com or click the link above to donate online.

Although the event is first and foremost about raising funds for the charities, it’ll prove to be a great advertising and PR opportunity for Air Environmental, not only in terms of media attention but in raising the company profile across the region.

Getting your company’s name into the minds of local people is important, as it is to show that’s you’re not all about profits. As a business owner, you are basically your own public relations team, unless you’ve got the manpower so trying alternative methods of marketing to reach your target audience and build your brand awareness is key.

Alternative marketing can be fruitful if done correctly. Sometimes it pays to think outside the box and be more creative with your ideas as a business owner. If the hard sales pitch isn’t working, try showing some community love. We will update you on the marketing success of this event over the coming weeks; and of course, talk a bit more about these two amazing charities!

We offer a range of marketing support packages, for small and growing businesses, please get in touch if you’d like more information.

 

Business Overwhelm vs. Mindset.

This week, I was overwhelmed to have been nominated for the prestigious Business Woman of the Year Award at the Yorkshire Choice Awards.

This arrives like that ray of sunshine after a storm for me as these past few months have been a real, hard ride of emotions, failures and small successes.

 

Here’s the link if you’d be so kind as to vote for me: 

https://yorkshirechoiceawards.wufoo.co.uk/forms/the-yorkshire-choice-awards-2018-voting-form/

 

 

Business is Hard

No one says business is easy. Anyone you read about who has made a million overnight is either a very lucky lottery winner or an incredible liar. There is no shortcut to success, no drive through for business and certainly, there are no real ‘get rich, quick,’ schemes that work. Just those willing to make promises to drive their own profits. Business is hard.

For me, being nominated for this award is wonderful. It is a compliment. It is appreciated but it’s also quite overwhelming, something I have not felt for some time. Upon opening my e-mail, I followed the excited energy that comes with small successes and posted this nominated on my personal Facebook page and my business pages. I was flabbergasted by the number of supportive comments, shares and likes the announcement received, as well as the number of people who wrote, “so deserved. Well done!”

Don’t Get Disheartened

When you enter the business world as a newbie, you expect success quicker than you find it so it’s hard not to get disheartened. When I started out in business several years ago, I was one such liability. I concentrated a lot of time on things that don’t have much of an impact on business success such as getting a re-tweet from someone famous, going to meetings and making small talk, sending out hundreds of cold e-mails to people I didn’t know and who didn’t know me.

Placing a Value on Time

It’s little surprise that start-up business owners become disheartened. I know I did and that’s why, for a long time, I didn’t make a single pound from the work I spent hour after hour doing.

Now, looking back, I didn’t value my time. I had two babies in close succession and yet, was so ‘busy’ trying so hard to make something like a business work that I feel now that the time I had with them as babies flew by. I wasn’t living in the moment, nor was I appreciating all that I had. This lead to a constant sense of overwhelm. I spent hours helping others in the hope that they’d reciprocate the favour. They didn’t. I didn’t value my own time so they didn’t either. The mindset around time is so vital, especially in a service-based business.

Business and Money Mindset

img_3115

Having worked on my business and money mindset for the last year or so, I have learned many valuable lessons in dealing with overwhelming feelings when it comes to business. Being nominated for Business Woman of the Year several years ago would’ve been a complete no-go for me. I would’ve shrivelled up into my shell like a hermit crab and not dealt with the situation proactively.

 

“Mindset is as important to success as light is to life.” ~ Kate Hill (2017)

 

Now however, those feelings go as quickly as they came. This is why business mindset is so important. As I say in my Build With Steel Programme (that’s soon going to have a great re-design, along with my website), you can’t build something without first putting in strong foundations. Those foundations are your mind and if you’re not in a place to be able to handle overwhelming feelings, difficult situations and money, get those sorted first.

Again, there are no short-cuts to building a strong business mindset. There are only small steps to take each day. Here’s a short list of how I remain in the right mindset:

  1. Breathe – whether you take 5 minutes or an hour, taking the time to stop, breathe and quieten the noise in your head is so important to staying atop of your emotions and your mindset. You can do this through Yoga, meditation or just in your own way. Take time, take a break and take a breath.
  2. Create a Plan – at the start of each week, put together a plan. It doesn’t have to be on special paper or a perfectly processed word document, just get some words down on a scrappy bit of paper. Write about what you need to do, what you want to do, what you hope to achieve by the end of the week and how you will break down your time to do a little every day. Keep looking at it and focus on it.
  3. Delegate – you don’t always have to do everything yourself. Look at what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. Think about the good old SWAT analysis that you might have completed. No good at cleaning? Ask someone else to do it for a few hours a week. No good at doing your bookkeeping? Find a bookkeeper. Find the things that are taking your time away from doing what you love and delegate!
  4. Go for a Walk – I don’t always practice what I preach, granted but when I get the chance to take a break, there’s nothing I love more than to walk my dog through the park and just enjoy some fresh air, surrounded by nature. If you’ve done any self-development work, you’ll know that being outside in nature apparently has quite a positive mental, spiritual and emotional impact on the brain. I’ll say no more.
  5. Read a Book – I don’t just mean pick up a Harry Potter book and ignore your work completely, no. I mean read a book that’s going to help develop your brain and your mindset for business. My favourites at the moment are: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and Your Are a Badass: At Making Money, by the same inspirational writer. Reading self-development books are not always full of whoo-hoo theories and out-there-ideals but some, like the above, are based on a real understanding of what makes one person successful and another unsuccessful.

 

So there it is. My quick blog about business mindset vs overwhelm. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me about other posts or questions that you might have.

Other than that, I’ll be updating you soon on how I get on at the awards on 13th April 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do I Need Social Media For My Small Business?

Why Do I Need Social Media for My Small Business?

Today, I was proud to support my client, Powers Martial Arts Centre and GB Promotions with their K1 Kickboxing Championship Show at the Mercure St Paul’s Hotel in Sheffield City Centre. It was a special event because Steel City Hub was sponsoring the main and last ISKA Title Fight of the night.

You might wonder what this event has to do with social media? Whilst I was there, I spoke to several business owners who, unlike Powers Martial Arts Centre, did not use social media to promote their businesses. Even if they were on Facebook, they didn’t maximise its free potential to help advertise their own businesses.

I asked how they advertised – there was a mix of paid advertising and word of mouth recommendations. Their answers to why they don’t really bother with social media include, “friends say it’s pointless,” “I haven’t got the time,” “I don’t know what I’m doing with it.”

I could sit and write all day about why small business owners benefit from using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest…there are many different social media platforms out there but at the end of the day, as we all know, word of mouth recommendations are the best way to get business. Agreed.

joiner

Here’s why, even if your business runs great on word of mouth recommendations, it’s so important to have a business presence on social media:

  1. Your services are needed every day by potential customers and that makes your business important if you’re good at what you do. Someone, somewhere, especially local people to your business need your services. Example, I’ve just bought a new house and it’s pretty run down. I need a plasterer, an electrician, a plumber, a roofer and so many more skilled people to help me make it a home. Where do I turn? I post a ‘recommendation’ post on Facebook for everyone to see and my friends ‘tag’ business pages of people they’ve used. Brilliant – a word of mouth recommendation that I can find online. If you haven’t got a business page, you’ll miss that.
  2. A social media business page (particularly Facebook) helps people find you because it’s a directory, it shows your business on a map, it gives all the details someone needs to make a decision on contacting you and it tells them how to contact you. It also lets them message you if they are shy to call.social logos
  3. People can leave ratings and recommendations on your business page that others will look at to make a decision about whether to contact your company. If I’m really pleased with the work my tradesperson has done, I want to post pictures of it on Facebook. If you haven’t got a business page to help share that great client recommendation and those images of your work, and you don’t comment i.e. “it was a pleasure,” showing that you’re a human too, you’re not reaching your potential. You’re not reaching my friends who might also need some work doing that you can offer. You’re missing an opportunity. twitter-292994_960_720
  4. Social media helps you interact with your customers in a special way. If someone has a question, they can tweet you, they can message you on Facebook, they can ask online at any time of the day or night without having to wait till the next day to phone you. No one is saying that you have to respond straight away but these days, many people and potential customers are put off by the thought of having to phone someone as the first option. Give your customers options. Let them ask.
  5. Social media advertising options are completely different to traditional advertising in newspapers and magazines. The amount of money you pay if you want to reach more people by creating a targeted advert is minimal in comparison to traditional methods of advertising. It’s really cheap to run an actual advert on Facebook that brings people to your business page. The best part is that you can target specific people. Say, for example, your best customers for your plumbing company are mothers who work and are making home improvements. You can actually create an advert for a few pounds a week targeting mothers who work and who are making home improvements at the moment…It’s not magic, it’s data. Facebook and other social networks collect a lot of data from all members.

There’s the list of why you need social media for your small business. It’s not an option anymore, it’s a must if you’re serious about your business and the customers you care about. You’re not doing anything cringeworthy or wrong by getting your business name out there. Someone needs you. You can help someone have a better life, even if it’s just repairing an old boiler, fitting a new stove, painting a wall, building an extension; if you are a real business, with a real desire to do the work you do for others, you are a great part of the community.

promo

I would like to personally thank Paul Powers at Powers Martial Arts Centre for involving me in the K1 Kickboxing event today and helping me show the importance of social media for small businesses. Take a look at their social media accounts – you’ll see that they’re building more and more customers each week, posting lots of great photos and information for all to see. Make your time online worthwhile.

Bye for now.

Branding for Business in 3 Easy Steps

Branding is a term that’s largely ignored or misunderstood, especially by small businesses but it is a very powerful, passive way of attracting your target customers and raising awareness.

To us, branding means helping customers and the general public identify your business through a logo, images, wording and even sounds – think about the McDonald’s whistle we hear on the radio and TV or the slogan “I’m Lovin’ It.” Those, along with the yellow ‘M’ sign and the new green and cream coloured interiors are all examples of a brand that raises awareness of its products through a unified, consistent approach.

What we find when working with small business owners who are trying to promote what they do is a lack of brand awareness, identity and a uniformed approach to marketing. We are not saying that you have to go as far as McDonald’s with their humongous budgets for branding, marketing and advertising. However, there are powerful ways that small businesses can compete without the price tag or staff.

Uniformed and structured branding is key to successfully setting your business apart from the competition and passively making sales. Here’s a little overview of what you need to do to create great branding and let your customers come to you:

  1. Create a Brand Strategy

It’s a fancy term for a relatively simple process. All that’s involved in creating a branding strategy is:

  • Research – looking at how other companies in your trade and competitors raise awareness of their business. Do they have a logo? Do they create graphics with their branding on?
  • Analyse – look at how your competitors are using their branding I.e. Their logo, their advertising, their wording for their services. Then look at global or U.K.-wide companies whose advertising you see a lot of. Make a list of what you like and dislike about the branding of competitions and larger companies.
  • Target Audience – who is your target customer? Where do they live, work, what do they enjoy doing? What might they need from you? A lot of advertising and brand awareness needs to be focused on your target audience so it really helps to have a clear audience in mind in your planning.
  • Aims & Objectives – create a plan for the aims and objectives of your branding. What you want people (your target audience) to think about when they see your logo or read your slogan. Would you want them to think: “They’re the best plumbers in the area because they have a 24-hour helpline.” Think about how you want your company to stand apart from others. Will you offer a free-consultation service? Will you be available 24/7 for call-outs? Will your engineers always have a smile on their faces? Whatever your business ethos and aims are, write them down.
  • Design & Write – this is the part we help a lot of businesses with. Writing down words that encompass your company that you can use for branded material such as flyers, adverts, posters, Facebook pages and so much more is vital for business branding success. The right words that speak to your target audience. Think about the design and colour scheme of your business, what will your logo look like, what colours could represent your brand the best? Write down all of your branding ideas and design thoughts.
  • Getting Your Brand Out There – here’s a good place to think about how you’ll market your brand following on from your research and understanding of your aims and objectives. Will you use social media? Will you blog? Will you advertise?

     2. Get your Staff Behind your Branding

Whether your staff are young, old or in between, every one of your employees can help with promoting your brand. Following on from your strategy, give your staff clear guidelines about what you expect from them in representing your company and branding. From what they wear to how they act right through to what they post on social media, several people are better than one at raising awareness of your branding.

Let your staff, family, friends and associates know that you’re taking branding seriously and get ready to launch your brand identity.

    3. Brand Identity Launch

Whether you already have a logo and a website or not, you can re-brand or build your brand identity at any point.

You’ve planned what you’re going to do and got some support behind you so now’s the time to take action! Get your brand out there through:

  • A website
  • A regular blog
  • Advertising
  • Social media
  • Events
  • Trade shows
  • Sponsorships
  • Press releases

There are so many ways to raise your brand awareness with your customers making you a trusted name in your industry. For more help with marketing your brand and creating your brand identity, get in touch with us: thegapsbetween@gmail.com.

Check out our Branding Pack – a great way to help you get started with branding. This pack offers everything you need to get going with a logo, designs, colour-scheme, blurb writing and expert advice.

 

Business and Mindfulness



What do you think of when someone says ‘Mindfulness?’

The word ‘mindfulness’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You might think it relates to Yoga enthusiasts or peace campaigners, you might think there’s no relation at all between mindfulness and business, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Without knowing it, you could be very good at mindfulness or very bad and the awareness of mindfulness can determine whether you succeed or fail. 

Mindfulness is defined as: “direct knowing of what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment,” as stated by Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University in this article for the Guardian. 


For someone in business, mindfulness can be a very powerful attainment. For example, a mother of three launches a business from her laptop. She spends a lot of time worry that she’ll fail because she’s never tried to run a business before. She could spend her days scrolling anxiously through Facebook worrying that no one will like her business page or she could use mindfulness to bring inner calm and deal with situations thoughtfully as they arise. A thoughtful and relaxed mind, no matter how busy she is, is always going to be more efficient, effective and deal better with what she’s got going on in her life. Her kids will also respond better to a calm mother. 

Mindfulness in business doesn’t mean you have to sit meditating all day or hitting that yoga class twice a week, but it’s about taking 5 minutes out of your day to sit quietly and reflect on what you want to achieve, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. Once that’s done, try some deep breathing and let your mind relax. There are so many thoughts spinning through our mind when we run a business at any one time, that occasionally, our brains benefit hugely from being given the opportunity to not think of anything. It helps with inspiration, managing worries and alleviating stress. 


There are many ways you can find out about getting involved in mindfulness for business, here are a few: 

  • Hire a mindful business coach. This doesn’t have to be someone overbearing but just someone to share your worries with and teach you new ways of handling self-doubt, helping you find a better version of yourself. We are here too to be able to help you find the right business coach.
  • Read books on mindfulness that relate to business, some examples are ‘You are a Badass’ by Jen Sincero or ‘Think and Grow Rich‘ by Napolian Hill. 
  • Watch mindfulness YouTube videos. There are plenty to go at that relate to business. Some of the best are by the famous Tony Robbins, motivational speaker and coach. He is based in the US but you’ll get the idea. 
  • Go to seminars on business mindfulness techniques. There are plenty of quality sessions in your local area, watch out in local forums or networking events. 

Mindfulness is not everything for business success but it helps get your mind in gear for better business motivation and focus. Other than that, the key to a successful business is hard work, motivation and offering people something that’s different and interesting. 

For more information or help finding your way into mindfulness for business, contact us.  

The 5-Step Plan to Starting a Blog for Business

“Starting a blog is a bit like standing in a room, full of people, trying to shout loud enough over everyone else to get your voice heard. No one hears you at first.” ~ Steel City Hub, 2017.

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There are millions of blogs, vlogs and articles out there, all trying to make their impression on the world and when you start blogging, for whatever reason but especially for business, following a simple structure can mean the difference between offensive to downright embarrassing and a place where people turn to for answers and reliable information.

 

It’s much like anything else you do to promote your business, spewing cold-calling tactics about how great your business is just won’t work. Here is our 5-step plan to starting a blog for your business:

 

  1. Pick a Good Platform to Get Started

Obvious but vital, the best platform for your business blog is your own website. Not only does original content help to populate your website with SEO-rich content that helps your search engine rankings but it’s your business shop window. Visitors to your website are always a good thing. If you’re attracting people to your own website through great blog posts, you’re going to increase your likelihood of making those sales, raising your brand awareness and becoming a trusted company that people want to be involved with. Adding a blog aspect to your website could be easier than you think.

If for whatever reason, you can’t add a blog to your own website, think about creating an external blog on a free platform like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr or Wix. If you want to go that step further and create a truly professional blog that’s bespoke for your business, speak to a graphic/web designer such as Foster & Scott.

There’ll always be a small cost involved such as your domain registration i.e. http://www.mynewwebsite .com or hosting for your blog but with most free blogging platforms you’ll get the option to pay monthly, upgrade or run a trial for free.

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  1. Create a Blog Plan

As with all aspects of business, planning prevents poor performance (the four P’s). Creating a plan for your blog doesn’t just mean putting some words together and hoping for the best, there are certain aspects of blogging that you’ll need to consider so to have any kind of chance in the blogging world:

  • Who are you trying to speak to? The people you want to attract to your blog are called your Target Audience. They’re your customers, your associates, your allies and most importantly, your potential customers. Create a profile of your target audience, narrowing your ideal customer down as much as possible. Is your target customer male or female? Do they work? What are they interested in?
  • Plan your blog to suit your target customer. Think about topics he or she might be interested in. If you sell windows, he or she might not want to spend on new windows but do they live in a burglary hotspot where new windows mean better security for their home? Put together a list of topics for your blog (let’s use the windows example for now), such as security issues, heat loss during the winter, carbon footprints etc. No one will want to read a blog post that’s a complete sales blurb about your windows. It’s boring, it’s dull and they’ve seen in all before. If you do want to create a sales blog post, think about an offer of some kind and telling your reader how you’ve got the answer to their problems.
  • What is your overall goal? It’s an important one and you might say simple – making sales. Blogging is an indirect way of selling your products or services. If you just wanted to make sales, you’d spend all of your money on advertising and get your products in front of people’s faces as much as possible. However, this is pretty cold and impersonal. Statistics on customer trends show that buyers prefer to purchase goods and services from companies that they know. A blog is a great way to raise your brand awareness and help people remember you.
  • How are you going to market you blog? Many business owners are fooled into thinking that they’ll create a blog and immediately, the views will flow in. It doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to plan how you’ll drive traffic to your blog. The best ways to do it for free are to get your business listed on directories with a link to your blog or website, get other bloggers to add your links to their blogs and get as many links back as you can from other websites. Next is paying for advertising. The best way to advertise at the moment in order to attract traffic to your blog is through Facebook Ads, which is still relatively cheap and straightforward to do.

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  1. Pull Content Together

For getting your first blog started, pick a topic that would interest your target reader and write down some bullet points, some links to other resources and useful websites or articles and pull together some images or videos to support your blog.

A page full of writing is never the most attractive way to create a blog as the average attention span is around only 8 seconds for online readers, that’s the first two lines in a blog…

 

  1. Create a Blog Structure and Stick to it

There’s nothing worse for readers who are interested in your topics than to see one blog post structured one way then the next structured completely differently, unless you’re blogging about creative design and showing your design prowess.

The key features to a good blog structure are:

  • Colour scheme.
  • Font types.
  • Writing the important stuff first i.e. summarising what your blog is about then writing the important aspects in the first few paragraphs, leaving the nitty gritty details for later.
  • Adding images to enhance the readers experience.
  • Linking your social media channels to it.
  • Ensuring your blog is free from grammatical and spelling errors.

If you need a little more help, you can access our FREE blog structure guide here.

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  1. Finalise, Publish & Promote

Finalising doesn’t just mean putting all of your points together and hoping for the best. Draw your bullet points into short, readable sentences that encourage your reader to keep reading. Add some points of interest to what you’ve written such as images in relevant places, links to important information or sources and any offers or discounts that you can add at the bottom to encourage sales.

You’ll also need to consider adding a disclaimer if you’re offering advice that could be taken seriously i.e. advice on healthy eating.

Making sure that you’ve not just re-written what someone else has already written or used sources that you haven’t credited such as statistics (you don’t want to get told off for plagiarism or copyright infringements as they’re punishable by law) are important.

Do a final proof read and ensure that your blog is free from errors. Not only can your blog be downgraded in the search engine rankings but it will put readers off if it’s full of spelling errors and full stops where there should be commas. If you write on a Microsoft Word document first, you can do a spelling and grammar check there.

Once you’re ready, copy your wording from you word document and paste it directly into your blog creation area. Add on your images and links by going to the hyperlink icon.

Once you’ve pressed that publish button, it’s out there for all to see. Make sure you make the most of your efforts and get it promoted properly. That means spreading it all over social media; Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and in as many Facebook groups and directories as possible.

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Don’t be under any illusion, creating a blog is better suited to raising awareness of your business ethos, your company ethics, your commitment to customer service and your place in the community in which you work and live rather than making those cold sales.

There are techniques that you can adopt to make your blog sell for you but that’s for another post.

Readable, relatable and useful content is paramount for our evolving world of online understanding. Blogs have the power to influence and alter people’s lifestyles so your information should always be appropriate, accurate and conscious.

Better your business by producing a blog and if you need some help, you can always rely on us and our reasonably priced Blog Package to get you started and help you on your way.

the blog package

Introducing: Build With Steel

Build With Steel

You wouldn’t start building a structure without first putting in strong foundations.

The same goes for your business. The best way to build is with steel. It’s effective, reliable and it’s got a lot of experience…best of all, it used to be made in Sheffield. Sounds a bit like us, doesn’t it? That’s why we’re proud to launch the Build With Steel packages for small businesses and start-ups:

 

  1. The Intro £250 (One-Off Fee, No Contract)

Our popular Intro package is for all the basics when you set up your business. It offers the most affordable, one-off, no contract option for small businesses who need a little help getting started. Here’s what we offer:

  • Social Media – the set up of two social media platforms. We always recommend Facebook being the first and depending on your type of business, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest being the second.
  • Blurb – this is what people read about your business on social media. It’s the description of your business and we help you say it in a way that attracts interest from the people you’d like to notice. The blurb has to vary between social platforms so for two channels, we have to write two separate blurbs.
  • Directory Listings – listing you on all available, free websites where you can add your website, address and other important information about your business. This also includes more blurb/description writing about your business as again, it’s best if it’s written differently on all websites.
  • Access to Templates and Guides – our templates for social media posts and marketing plans are pretty simple and easy to follow. We think the best way to start out is to learn to do things yourself – with a little support from us.
  • Exclusive Made with Steel Group – you get access to our Facebook group for 1 month where you’ll find useful links, documents, templates, articles and offers. We’ll also be posting videos on there for extra assistance. (If you decide to progress onto one of our monthly payment packages, you’ll be able to stay in the group throughout the 12 month contract period).
  • Meet the Experts at Branding – we introduce you to some branding experts who can guide you through setting up your brand including your logo, design of your headers for social media, design of your e-mail campaigns, stationery and so much more. See our other packages below for more information.

 

 2. BUILD WITH STEEL PACKAGES: Gold, Silver & Bronze

(A 6 or 12- monthly contract between your business and Steel City Hub offering monthly support on 3 levels).


GOLD  £400 Per Month

Our Gold package is the best monthly support we can offer at this current time. It helps to create real momentum for your business, especially if you sign up to the 12 month contract with Steel City Hub.

Here’s what it includes:

  • Weekly Management of 3 Social Media Platforms (includes Facebook and a choice of two of the following: Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest (advice will be given on which platforms best suit individual business needs). Management includes posts 2-3 times per week, per platform.
  • Weekly interactions with followers, fans and Likers i.e. re-tweets, comments and more. We will also monitor who’s following you and follow market trend leaders and influencers in order to gain natural, organic Likes and Follows.
  • Exclusive Access to the private Build With Steel Facebook Group where you’ll fine useful hints, tips, templates, videos, links and many other support features; including a community of like-minded people.
  • Monthly Personalised Meeting/Support Session via Skype, another online platform or face to face depending on where you are based, to make sure you’re on the right track, help you with other marketing ideas and promotions to increase sales, improve profitability and reach a wider audience.

 

Silver  £240 Per Month

Our Silver package is an in-between package. It still offers many of the same benefits as the Gold package but is less intense.

Here’s what it includes:medal-2163349_960_720 silver.png

  • Weekly Management of 2 Social Media Platforms including Facebook. Other platforms will be chosen either by you or through our initial consultation process. Management includes us posting 2-3 times per week from both accounts as a mixture of relevant articles, news from your company and portfolio images (if images are provided regularly).
  • Weekly Interactions with followers, fans and Likers i.e. re-tweets, comments and more. We will also monitor who’s following you and follow market trend leaders and influencers in order to gain natural, organic Likes and Follows.
  • Exclusive Access to the private Build With Steel Facebook Group where you’ll fine useful hints, tips, templates, videos, links and many other support features; including a community of like-minded people.
  • Quarterly Progress reports and suggestions for improvements in marketing.

 

Bronze  £120 Per Month

The Bronze package has been a very popular package for many of our clients who have then progressed onto our Silver or Gold packages. Much of the time, businesses opt to get set up initially with the Intro then move onto the Bronze for a few months to see how it all works. The main aim of this package is to get you noticed as a business and help you make your mark on the social media world.

Here’s what it includes:

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  • Weekly Management of 2 Social Media Platforms including Facebook. The difference with this package is that we will post once per week, sometimes two if you have an event or something prominent happening.
  • Weekly Interactions with followers, fans and likers i.e. re-tweets, comments and more. We will also monitor who’s following you and follow market trend leaders and influencers in order to gain natural, organic Likes and Follows.

 

For more information on these packages, contact Kate: thegapsbetween@gmail.com.

 

3. The Branding Pack  £675

This is a great offer for those who are in the process of developing a brand for their business or don’t have a clue about branding so want some professional help. Working with our top, professional design partners, we can offer you:

  • A 1-hour consultation session and creation of a brief (a plan for what you want from your branding, who you want to target and what kind of image you want to present).
  • Creation of final wording including a strapline (the line of text beneath your logo).
  • 4 x Logo design concepts from a supplied brief with one developed in to the final logo.
  • Artwork for the logo supplied in CMYK, RGB, and Black and white colour options.
  • All file formats will be supplied.
  • Strap line/position statement if required.
  • Brand guidance manual with all logo positioning, typography, brand colour palette.
  • Short blurb creation of between 20-100 words for your use on directories, other websites, social media etc.

 

5. Professional Sales Folder/Letter Pack £849

This bespoke, professional sales pack gives you that professional edge, whatever your business. If you regularly need to visit clients, customers and other businesses in order to raise your profile and deliver your services, this pack would benefit your business. The pack incorporates your branding and business ethos and is well worth the investment. This is one of our clients with their professional sales packs:

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Here’s what’s included:

  • An initial 1-hour consultation with a marketing expert to help you understand what aspects of a professional sales pack you require for your business type to present that professional, important image.
  • Folder and Inserts – from a brief of what you want, we’ll work with our professional designers, who have worked with some huge names, to create a folder with inserts that reflects your business and what you want to achieve i.e. more sales.
  • Written copy and content – with design underway, it’ll be time to put together some content including images, writing and a good dose of copywriting expertise. Our copywriting experts will work with you to get the tone and style of your content just right. Professional copywriters can charge thousands for a few hundred words so we are really pleased to be able to offer writing that is high quality and affordable. Copy in sales documents should always encourage your customers to buy from you.
  • Print costs advice – After the final draft has been produced, we will advise of print costs and find you the best prices for printing your sales folders. We can also advise and deliver other stationery items, if required (at an extra cost), such as business cards, pens, pencils and much more.
  • How-to-guide – finally, we will provide you with a how-to guide on delivering your sales folders and advise on how to approach businesses or customers with your services.

 

6. The Website + Hosting + Content Pack  £2499

This pack includes everything you’ll need to create a professional website with no hidden fees or extra charges. We all know websites can be created for pittance on template-based systems. The costs usually don’t account for extras needed such as hosting, domain names and content. They’re also rarely as effective in terms of SEO unlike websites that are built by professional designers.

That’s why we’ve put together a pack that includes everything you’ll need to get you started. If there are items that you don’t need, i.e. you’ve done the writing for your website yourself, we can offer you a reduced rate.

Here’s what this amazing price includes:

  • An initial consultation with our marketing expert to work with you on how you want your website to look, what style and what kind of content and functionality you’ll need on there.
  • A Theme-based WordPress website that is specifically tailored to suit your business style, tone and colour scheme.
  • A professional copywriter to work with you on creating content that is focused on SEO (getting you noticed by the search engines such as Google), for up to 4 x pages on your website. Any extra content for pages is charged at an hourly rate.
  • Sourcing images for your website or working with a professional photographer to create images that can be used to boost the appearance of your website and present your business much more professionally (additional fees may apply according to how much photography you require).
  • Website hosting for 1 year including up to 5 e-mail accounts that will be aligned to your website address.
  • Domain name registration for 1 year is included in this price!
  • Training and Support – Finally, it includes a meeting/wordpress training session with the developers so you can add content yourself when needed and you’ll know the basics of using your own website. Otherwise, you can view our Blog Package below. 

 

7. The Blog Package  £149

Our final package is the blog package. It’s best suited to WordPress websites but not exclusively. If you know what you want to write about but don’t have the means, we can offer a one-off or monthly website blog package to suit your business needs.

the blog package

Here’s what’s included:

  • Research into your business area and a list of topics created that would best suite your own website. We will also work with you to source relevant images and videos to populate your blog.
  • Creation of blog content – this can be images and word-based or it could include videos. Whatever your business, we create your first blog based on our research and your ideas about what you want your customers to know. Our writing for blogs is SEO optimised and helps populate your website with relevant, timely information.
  • Blog template for you to use thereafter or a pay-monthly contract option where we can create a monthly blog to go on your website, keeping it updated and informative for your customers/audience.
  • Advice and information session for an hour where we discuss your needs for the first blog and for future blogging, including information on how to share it across your social media and other websites.
  • Monthly blogging and support – this is an additional cost and is based on our time to create a blog per month. Usually, with research and structure, a normal blog would take us around 1.5 hours. Our hourly rate is £60. This means that any normal blog would cost you a regular £80 per month with the applied £10 discount for being a monthly blog member.

 

These are our full Build With Steel services but it is by no means a comprehensive list of what we offer as a fully-functional marketing agency. We like to think that we offer much more than a typical marketing agency and always strive to offer the best services for your business needs.

If you’d like more information, use our Contact Us Page or e-mail: thegapsbetween@gmail.com.

We are happy to provide fully online service and support as well as face-to-face consultations. Please read our Disclaimer for our service terms and conditions.

 

 Disclaimer:

We won’t share your details with anyone else. Your details and information about your company will be used solely to help us gain an understanding of how you work, who’s involved and what your goals are. Those details that you are happy to share or information that you would like to express should be shared directly with Steel City Hub in order for us to promote and deliver your campaigns.

Steel City Hub Ltd has the right to cancel any contract at any time without reason but we agree that 1 month’s notice will be given to those on a 12-month contract and 2 weeks notice will be given to those on a 6 month contract. Sometimes due to ethical/legal issues, we might not be able to act on your behalf as your marketing/social media consultants but we will express this in the first instance of communication between ourselves and you.

We will always inform you first if your additional requirements mean extra costs and we will endeavour to work with you to meet the costs above, if you require additional services that are not covered in the above, we reserve the right to refuse or provide additional charges for extra work.

 

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