Category Archives: Success

First Impressions Count

At Hold Everything, the virtual office company based on London’s prestigious Regent Street, we are very much aware of what first impressions can do for your business from various marketing mediums such as websites, magazine advertising, social media sites and you as person.

We live in a world where people use search engines to lookup  any relevant information they need, because of this, you want your first impression to be the best it can be, starting with your website –  Your ‘shop window’.

It is quoted that you only have 7 seconds to make an impression and some online accounts even less than a second. 

In the pre Internet days, yes there was days before the Internet your physical shop window was one of the keys to a successful business, you would ensure your shop front had an impressive display to attract your consumers and with this you were a step closer to converting lookers into customers. This rule is exactly the same for your ‘virtual’ shop window- your website.

Today many businesses work predominantly and even entirely online – hence the need for a Virtual Office because regardless a website should display an address where the company is located. But the concept of the ‘shop front’ is still extremely important. Whatever industry category your business comes under, your website needs to attract enough traffic on the relevant search engines, otherwise you will be missing out on perspective customers/clients as your competitors also appear, so the ‘shop window’ has to be well presented.

To ensure you start off on a good foot attracting customers the website needs to be ‘on brand’ and conveys the right image for what your company stands for and represents, one way this this can be done is through the use of colour. There is a very small time window to capture your visitors attention so you need to make sure your website knows what it needs to say and delivers that message clearly showcasing the information about what you do and why you can attend to your customers’ needs and solve their problems the better than any other company.

Whether it is yourself who comes up with the design or you hire a website designer, your site needs innovation and imagination; after all you, want your website to stand out from the crowd.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization. The importance of this vital ingredient for your business to do well is the success of the website. Behind this word lays the tools and strategies that you need to help boost your ratings in the search engine results. Once the visitor is on your website a ‘call to action’ response which is simply converting your visitor into a customer by the visitor clicking a trigger or button that allows them to purchase your service or product or a click through to another page.

Either way it is highly essential that you make this move as simple and obvious for them as possible, Do not forget, when it comes to your website, first impressions count.

The Hidden Cost of Running a Small Business

At Hold Everything, the virtual office company based on London’s prestigious Regent Street, we are very much aware of hidden costs, not only attending to our own business running costs but being aware that our clients need to know upfront the costs of using our services.

Our Simply Mail forwarding account for UK based businesses is all-inclusive and we do not charge for mail forwarding of mail over 2 kilos, so no surprise invoices.

report by Forbes has concluded, 7 out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years, half at least 5 years, a third last at least 10 years and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more. So what do you have to do to become a part of the quarter that survives 15 years or more?

Building a business isn’t easy and certainly it isn’t cheap. Before setting up a small business knowing your facts on all expenses, and not just evident costs such as salaries but the hidden ones like licensing fees, subscription and online software fees can be the difference between your businesses ability to survive or sink, after all you want to be sure your income continues to exceed your outgoings.

Let’s take a look at a few hidden costs of running a small business:

  1. Office Rent – Many companies feel they need a physical presence – some will ultimately need the space to operate from others just Go virtual. At Hold Everything we understand the need for a physical office. However, in today’s world more and more companies can operate on a ‘virtual’ basis – providing the phone is answered when it rings, does it really matter whether that person is sat in their plush office/work space, or at a desk in their home?
  2. Licensing Fees – It’s extremely important to understand what license you need for your business (if any). Just the physical location alone can affect how much the government charge for a business license.
  3. Credit Card Fees – Obviously your expecting your consumers to purchase your product/service, however, by allowing your customers to use a credit card to pay you will occur credit card fees. Don’t stress! Take a look at Business News Daily’s article on tricks to lower your credit card fees.
  4. Insurance – Your business needs to ensure it has the right protection in place to cover you for any accidents, loss or serious difficulties with a client. Types of insurances are essential are, Public Liability insurance- if you work at external locations or have clients or customers come to your work place, you will want to protect against any claims made in the event of damage or injury and Professional indemnity insurance – if your work could cause a financial loss for your clients. There’s a range of other covers, including business equipment insurance, tool cover and personal accident insurance so it’s best to get professional advice on what is needed for your business.
  5. Your Time – this is one of the biggest hidden expense that certainly cannot be ignored. Being the boss is an excuse for having to be involved in every aspect of the business and not delegating accordingly. But the most efficient way for you to grow your small business is not wasting your own time by doing work that others can do.

As a monthly practice, Richard Cooper looks at all costs less than £100.00 and asks if any can be avoided or if any supplier can be changed, small changes add up. He also looks at the large annual costs which arrive at set times, like accountancy fees, industry subscriptions and insurances to see if paying these on a monthly standing order basis can spread the cost rather than having an invoice for a larger fee so not affecting cash flows.

Nothing worse than that unplanned large payment.

So plan ahead when you start your new business.

Networking – Love it? Hate it? Have to do it?

At Hold Everything, the virtual office company based on London’s prestigious Regent Street, networking through a number of different networking organisations was paramount to our business progression.

Having been a member of two of the UK’s most visited networking organisations, eventually  Hold Everything’s, Director Richard Cooper set up a Central London Group with one of the organisations having bi weekly meetings at All Bar One in Regent Street.

 

So Why Is Networking Such An Essential & How Can Networking Benefit You?

By attending Business networking meetings it allows professionals from diverse industries to come together to share their valuable knowledge and surround themselves with positive uplifting people that can help grow their business. It’s an opportunity to showcase their expertise within their industry, build new connections and raise their own profile among other professionals. It’s also a time to offer advice and relate with one another on the hardships experienced.

-‘One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action.’ – As said by Lewis Howes taken from www.brainyquote.com/topics/networking

‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’- This statement can be taken as a negative and a positive.  But for certain it is true in business, as having a great source of relevant connections in your network that you can call on when needed is a major advantage. By building your network it provides you with a little black book of connections that can help open the door to connect with others. This can result in many opportunities for you, for example it can lead to joint ventures and client leads along with many other opportunities that all point to increased business results, which really is the main aim of the game.

Our Tips At Networking

Everyone has a different style but here are a few tips we benefited from;

  • Perfect your pitch- Knowing what to say is imperative, getting your message over quickly and in a way that is remembered.
  • Using a visual aid-We used a coffee cup as a way of making other members consider how our costs compare – our services are less than a cup of coffee a day from the main coffee chains.
  • Always follow up on leads- At one group Richard Cooper attended he referred himself to the groups Private Dentist for future dental care. The dentist never called, he lost three patients and probably a lot of money.

Value Of Business Networking

So how can you value business networking?

This can be by a ROI, it can be by connections made, it can be by repeat business, for everyone the way of valuing whether the time spent getting up early and venturing to meetings is different.

Hold Everything have maintained many relationships, many years after memberships have expired and one of those whom the company has stayed in touch with is Neil Giller, Managing Area Director in Notts & Lincs for BNI.

Neil advised us on the following statistic relating to BNI as a whole.

‘BNI is the most successful business networking referral organisation in the world. We have over 12,500 members in the UK and Ireland alone, passing over 676,000 referrals worth over £520 million every year! It is quite literally the best way to build a better business.’

So after reading our outlook on business networking, do you think it is worth pursing?

Its got to be PERFECT ……. a message from Richard Cooper

How do you run your business.  Is it PERFECT?   Many of us start a business with a vision of giving the customer better service, better value for money and the perfect client experience.

One challenge I have always faced is that no one is quite as passionate about my business and service as I am.  I’m not saying that my team aren’t amazing and efficient, but what I mean is that, I am a perfectionist.  I want to get it right every time. After all I am the business owner and the buck stops with me.  It has to therefore be perfect?  Right?

Something I am learning more and more as time goes on is that perfection doesn’t really exist.  That may sound a bold statement however, how many of us have actually reached “perfection”?  What is perfection?  And more importantly how do will instill this into our staff/colleagues and teams?   The answer is – “realistically”

SO:   Face facts: Your team/staff/clients/suppliers/contractors will NEVER feel as passionate about your business and therefore their levels of service won’t be to the same level as yours.  This DOESN’T mean excusing poor performance, attitude or behaviour.   Take a look at your clients.  Are they happy with the level of service that your team provide overall.  Are they treated professionally and are they valued?   If the answer is yes then work on developing your team, but not necessarily at trying to make them replicas of you.

Put processes in place:  If you couldn’t be in your business for 6 weeks – are there enough processes in place to get by without you in an emergency?  If the answer is no, then it’s time to start.  You never know what is around the corner.  If something meant you couldn’t be there for your clients, will someone else be there?  Again it’s not about a replica of YOU, its about meeting and exceeding your clients expectations.

I always felt that if I wasn’t involved in my business then it would crumble without me and all of my clients would leave.  I am learning that my clients want me to have a successful business and provide an effective service.  Having my skills and expertise at the healm is just an added bonus.

You don’t have to be perfect to win in business, you just have to be professional, consistent and have a great team around you.  Listen to your customers, ask them how they see your business.  Even if you think something could be ten times better, it may be just “perfect” for them.  Spend your time concentrating on being the owner and steering your company forward.

 

Until next time

Richard Cooper – Virtual Office Visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1

Who you gonna call? A message from Richard Cooper

Who you gonna call?

No not Ghostbusters, but seriously, who do you, call when you need support?

In business there is a perception that you need to be tough, and persevere alone in order to be successful.  Just reading autobiographies from successful business owners who have made it big, (think Richard Branson, Duncan Bannatyne etc.) there are times when they went out on a limb and took a risk to make it big.

To an extent, owning and operating any business takes risk, determination and many leaps of faith. However you don’t have to do this alone.  In the course of my businesses I meet many start-up businesses who believe that if they aren’t alone and “doing it for themselves”, that they won’t be successful.

Over time this belief starts to evolve and some business owners will take on the services of a business coach, or attend networking events, or business “clubs”.   Many of my clients have told me very excitedly about what they are doing.

My answer to this question is simple.  You know WHAT you are doing, but who are you doing it with?  What I mean by this is, that it’s all fine and well to be attending certain events and business activities, but it means nothing if you don’t have quality people around you.

I strongly believe that every business owner should have at least two business mentors.  Who do you aspire to be like?  Who do you currently go to when you need advice on finance, business dilemmas, people issues and so on?

Put the right people around you.  One of my clients has a “life board”.  She hasn’t had an official conversation with these people – but has identified seven or eight business people who she knows and trusts.  Each person has invaluable support and information that she can draw upon.  Whatever the issue, be it people, finance – she goes to the person who she knows has the most experience in this area.

So my question to you this week is, who do you go to when you need advice?  Who CAN you go to and how can they help you to accelerate your business growth?

You don’t have to be alone in business and you most certainly don’t have to know it all.  You just need the right people around you.  Network and build your activity around this goal.    And in the words of Will Smith, people can’t expect to be part of your success if they can’t be there during your struggles.

Until next week

Richard Cooper – virtual office visionary

Follow me @holdeverything1