Tag Archives: business

Is it time to ditch your Facebook Business Page?

Facebook for Business Page

Until a couple of weeks ago most marketing, social media and search engine experts would have told you that your business had to have a Facebook Page. It was considered an essential part of any social media or search engine optimisation campaign. In the last few days we have spoken to social media professionals who are telling their customers to stop focussing on Facebook and to put the majority of their efforts into other sites and strategies. Some are even advising new clients not to bother with Facebook at all. So what have Facebook done to go from the heros to the zeros of social media marketing?

The Good Old Days

52% of the UK population have a Facebook profile making it by far the most popular social network in this country. Posting a link or story on your Facebook Business page meant that anyone who had ‘liked’ it would get that update into their timeline. Even better if one of the people who had liked your page commented on your post or ‘liked’ it again it could be seen by all of their followers and friends, massively magnifiying its impact.

Facebook Business Pages are free to set-up and it is free to gain followers, making it a cheap, quick and effective way to reach potential customers with your latest news and offers.

Facebook’s New Regime

Updates posted by businesses on their Facebook Pages are now only going to around 20% of the people who are following that page. And it is suggested that the number of customers who get to see a business’s Facebook updates may drop even further. Advertising Age have quoted an internal Facebook document which states that

“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time”

This is a deliberate decission by Facebook to make it harder for small businesses to get their message directly in front of customers.

Of course, if you do want your Facebook posts to still have the same impact they used to then you can pay. In the same internal document seen by Advertising Age Facebook state that businesses can pay “to maximize delivery of your message in news feed”.

Where Next for Small Businesses?

It is pretty clear what direction Facebook are going in. Businesses will increasingly have to pay in order to get their message across to their customers. So where can new and growing businesses go to get their message out to customers?

1)      Your website – social media should be feeding in rather than taking the place of your business website. This is one place on the web where you can completely control your message so it is worth investing the time and resources in getting it to rank in the search results.

2)      Your blog – blogs are perhaps the original social media tool. Most blogs make it easy for readers to comment on your posts, follow your activity and link it from their own blogs and sites. If you don’t have a blog then you should get one.

3)      Google Places – the new Google Places listings which couple Google Maps and Google+ are a fantastic resource for small businesses. They take all of the best bits of a Facebook page and make them open and friendly to the search engines so it maximises your chances of being found. Customers can follow you, leave reviews and see your updates and, at the time of writing, Google Places pages are completely free.

4)      Pinterest – currently mainly used by women in their 30s but expanding all the time Pinterest has proved to be a great platform for fashion stores, home décor and wedding related businesses. Pinterest is dedicated to sharing images and often what people share are things they want to buy, whether that be a new scarf or a new house (58% of users say that when they ‘Pin’ something it is to ‘provide inspiration for a future purchase’). The images on Pinterest link directly back to the site they came on so people can click straight through to buy them.

5)      Twitter – Used by nearly 23% of the UK population Twitter is our favourite social network. It is completely open so anyone can search and see updates and profiles making it easy to get your message out there and to let customers contact you. It is free, simple to get to grips with and can be effortlessly updated from almost any device. All small businesses should be on Twitter.

It is easy to forget that most of the big social media sites are still only a few years old. Most are still working out how to make money and what their core business model will be. It is possible that Twitter or Google may start charging small businesses to reach customers. At the moment both seem happy to let people have a free account with the option to buy ads on top and there is no reason, at the moment, to believe this will change. Because social media networks are always going to be outside of your control it makes it essential that you have your own website and blog. These are spaces which will always be yours and which you can control the cost of.

The Company Warehouse offer a number of products and services to help new and growing businesses manage their online presence. Just contact our Business Consultants or give us a call 0800 0828 727 to find out how we can help your business.

Social Networking for Business: Beyond Facebook

Social Media LogosSocial Media has been one of the highest growth areas for marketing in the last few years. It is particularly attractive to start-ups and small businesses because it has virtually no start-up costs and enables you to reach a global audience. Social Media can be an excellent way of connecting with customers and driving traffic to your main website.

A lot of the discussion of social media for business marketing has tended to focus on a few services, mainly Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, with Facebook receiving the most attention. However these are not the only social media sites out there, they may not contain your target audience and they may not suit your business. With the continuing collapse of confidence in Facebook as a platform now is a good time to look at other social media networks.

Google +

Google + is Google’s main social network. It works almost as a mix between Facebook and Twitter, you can follow friends and brands but can also search through it to see what other people are looking at. With over 100 million members Google + has a large audience which includes lots of businesses. And of course it can’t hurt your Google search rankings to have a strong presence on their in-house social network.


Pinterest has been around for a couple of years but has really taken off in the last 12 months. It now attracts upwards of 12 million visitors per month and is valued at around $1.5 billion. Pinterest is largely used as a platform for people to share pictures they like. Estimates put the Pinterest user base at, at least, 80%. female. Many of the businesses that use it are focussed on hair and beauty, clothes, jewellery and weddings. A number of studies have found that Pinterest can generate high returns for brands. Typically it is used to post images of new products or work which users can then share. Done correctly this will include a link back to your business’s website so any users who really like the product can make a purchase.


Like Pinterest, Tumblr is mainly used for image sharing, although it can be used to share writing or videos as well. The major difference is that Pinterest users largely share images within the site or which they have found on other websites. On Tumblr the focus is much more on sharing work you have created yourself. You can also customise the way your work is seen, presenting it as lists, a magazine or a custom arrangement of your choice. Unlike Pinterest you can also build ecommerce stores within Tumblr, something which works best for visual businesses like fashion or photography.

Digg & Reddit

Digg and Reddit have both been around for a while. They operate in a very similar way. People post a link and brief summary of a news story, article, video or picture. If other users like this they vote it up, if they don’t like it they vote it down. The most popular links make it to the top of the front page. If you can get a link to your site to the top of the front page then you can expect a flood of visitors numbering in their thousands and a significant boost to your search engine rankings.

Goodreads, Behance, Last FM

There are a whole range of specialist social networks for sharing and networking on specific topics. For example, there is Goodreads for books, Behance for design and Last FM for music. The advantage of using these sites is that you are getting a highly targeted audience so it is a great way to reach potential customers for your business.


One of the earliest uses of the internet was text based discussion forums. There are still thousands of them around with tens of thousands of active members. They tend to be highly specialist so, for instance, there are dozens of forums in the UK dedicated to different types of cycling. Like the specialist social networks, forums are a good way to reach your target market. Tread carefully though, read the rules and stick to them. It is best not to actively push your business until you have developed a good reputation on a particular forum. This takes time and patience.

Go Gaga

Lady Gaga is often cited as one of the celebrities who have most successfully embraced social media to build her brand. She has 22 million Twitter followers and 50 million Facebook friends. Not satisfied with this she is now building her own social network so that she can connect with her fans on her own terms rather than through a third party service.


If you tried to build a meaningful network for your business on all of the social networks out there you would have no time to speak to any of your customers. Social networks are a great way to connect with customers but they are also time consuming. It is worth spending some time researching which networks are going to be most suitable for your customers and your business model. This may mean you have a Twitter account, a Tumblr and a strong presence on a particular forum. Alternatively Pinterest and Behance may be perfect for you. Remember, though, that social networks tend not to last forever. MySpace, Bebo and Friends Reunited were once the kings of the social media world. Now they are bought and sold for fractions of their former valuations having lost millions of pounds, and millions of users. If one of your chosen networks starts to slide, your business needs to be able to adapt, and adopt a new platform.

What is copyright and why does your business need to know about it?

Copyright for business Copyright is one of the 4 main types of intellectual property recognised in the UK. It is an automatic right which covers ‘original’ creative works. These can include literary works, music, art, images and film. It gives people who have created these works the right to either stop other people from copying them or the right to licence the copying and distribution of the work. In other words it allows you to sell the rights to the work if you choose.

While copyright is most often associated with creative works such as music, literature and film it covers a whole range of other things which may be of more practical use to most businesses. Examples of things which can be covered by copyright include:

  • The layout and content of your company website
  • Your company’s written marketing materials
  • Any images or videos your company produces
  • Logos
  • Diagrams
  • Instruction manuals
  • Computer programmes
  • Blog articles

In some cases these are things you may simply want to stop other people from copying. In others, as with computer programmes or instruction manuals, it may be something your company wants to sell or licence.

Copyright applies automatically to ‘original’ work. You don’t need to register your work or claim the copyright but The Intellectual Property Office recommend that you use the © symbol and put a copyright date on your work. In part this is because copyright expires anywhere between 25 years after the work has been published and 70 years after the author’s death, Having a clear copyright date on your work establishes how long your protection has left to run.

As with many areas of Intellectual Property law there is a degree of vagueness about exactly what is covered. There are no hard and fast rules on what counts as ‘original’ and ultimately this is something which will be decided on a case by case basis by the courts. There is also no central record of copyright protected work so it is up to individuals to make sure that they are not infringing other people’s rights. This can also lead to disputes as to who produced the ‘original’ version of a piece of work.

Because of this slight vagueness over copyright it can be better to use trade marking for logos and company names. This is because there is a central register of trademarks and once your trade mark has been accepted it has very strong and definite legal protection. For areas not covered by trademarks it is reassuring to know that your automatic copyright is in place to stop people profiting from your business’s hard work. .

Startup or Start-up? What to call your new business

Start-ups are one of the hot topics at the moment. Barely a day goes by without national newspapers writing articles about them while dozens of websites encourage and document their every move. Companies including Virigin, Shell, Dell and Regus are all handing out money and resources to start-ups. The government is also getting in on the act with its new start-up loans for young people.

Whilst people have always started businesses the term start-ups is relatively new. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the first recorded usage was in Forbes magazine in the mid 1970s. At this point it was ‘startups’ not start-ups. Which is the correct spelling seems debatable. The spell-check on my computer definitely prefers start-ups but dictionaries seem to think either is acceptable. A quick play with some keyword tools reveal that ‘startup’ is the more widely used search term. This usage is confirmed by a search on Google’s Ngram tool which looks at the use of words and phrases in books. On this measure ‘start-up business’  does not show up at all while ‘startup business’ shows a steady climb from the 1970s with a minor dip after the dot-com bubble.

Start-ups v startup which is better

The first usage of startups cited by Forbes was in the context of new technology companies. The term really started to come into the popular consciousness in during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. Originally the term startup referred to a specific business model. That was to create a company which could serve as a test bed for a particular business idea, to see whether it was viable and scalable. The idea of a startup was not to build a stable long term business but to test out an idea and see how it could be adapted until it reached profitability.

Today the terms startup is used more generally to mean any new business. There are still associations with high tech companies but these aren’t as strong as they used to be. As for the spelling, start-up and startup both seem acceptable. Although I notice that a lot of the government websites are now favouring ‘StartUp’ with a capital U. Given the relative newness of the term and its evolving usage it is perhaps not surprising that the spelling is continuing to evolve as well.

Whatever kind of business you are thinking of starting The Company Warehouse can help you out. Our business consultants can talk you through all our options including Free Company Formations.

3 Reasons Why Young People Should Not Start Their Own Business

The job market for young people is pretty dire at the moment. Graduates are struggling to find meaningful employment. Working for free for months on end has now become a standard requirement for many entry level jobs.  For those already saddled with student debts this is often simply not an option. For many young people these are fairly desperate times.

People from all over the political spectrum are coming up with the same solution. Young people should not invest their energy in getting a traditional corporate job. They should start their own business and create their own job instead. People on the political right see this as an exciting new era of individual capitalism. People on the left tend to see it as the only viable option and as a way of building new communities.

At the same time that the political debate is agreeing on the need for young people to start their own businesses they are being incentivised in this direction more than ever. The Princes Trust have been funding businesses for young people for years. They have now been joined by prizes sponsored by Shell, initiatives from Virgin and a range of government loans.

So while there is increasing consensus that young people should start businesses, and increasing funding if they want to do it, should they?

3 reasons why young people should not start a business

  • You are likely to fail. Even on conservative estimates 30-40% of start-ups are unsuccessful, over 50% of companies don’t make it past 5 years.
  • You probably already have thousands of pounds of debt to repay. Can you really afford to take on more, especially if you fail?
  • If you do fail, and need to get a job, you will not have the relevant experience and internships with blue-chip companies that box ticking HR drones will be looking for. You could end up in a worse place than where you started.

If you have come out of school or university and there are no jobs to be had then starting your own business may be worth investigating. With the various competitions and loans currently available you are even likely to be able to raise some funding. But if you are going to go down this route than you need to do so with your eyes open and be aware of the risks.

Book Review – Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen

The book’s full title, Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks), is pretty self explanatory.

Social Media for BusinessesThis is a book about promoting your business using social media tools. The author, Dave Kerpen, runs a social media agency in America and the book is full of examples from his clients. Likable focuses on how to target customers online, get them to follow or like you and then buy your products or services.

One of the principles Likable is based on is that each member of Facebook has on average 130 Facebook friends. If you can get 1 person to ‘like’ your company on Facebook they are, in effect, personally recommending you to 130 of their friends. Get 100 people to like you and you could potentially have personal recommendations from customers reaching 13000 people. It is basically about using good old fashioned word of mouth recommendations but driving them through Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

If you can get your company to be a, positive, part of the conversations people are having online then you can earn these recommendations. Kerpen’s book covers the main social media sites (although he focuses heavily on Facebook) and discusses how each one can be used. Most of his focus, though, is on how to craft what you are going to say rather than where you say it. Kerpen discusses how to engage with people on social media on their terms, not trying to sell to them, but to have an interesting conversation. He gives examples of how companies have successfully done this already and suggestions of how companies could do it in the future. Throughout the book Kerpen emphasizes the need for companies to be authentic, transparent and honest in everything they do online.

Because of the fast moving nature of social media the book, which was published in 2011, is already starting to date a little. Pinterest, for instance, is only mentioned in passing but is now a big force in social media. Likewise a couple of Kerpen’s suggestions for tools to use to measure and attract visitors are now slightly out of date because the social media networks have changed how they work. There have also been complaints about the response to customer’s problems through social media (or lack of it) of one of the companies Kerpen showcases. However this doesn’t really have an impact on the advice in the book, you may just need to treat it with a pinch of salt.

Verdict 8/10

Rapidly dating, and perhaps not entirely unbiased about the success of some of the strategies discussed. Having said that Likeable offers a comprehensive introduction to the world of social media and how to use it for businesses.

Company Profile – BeeARTisan

We are involved in creating thousands of companies and we try to keep in touch with as many of them as we can. We have decided to launch a new series of blog posts to highlight some of the more interesting and creative companies who use our services.

Opening our series of company profiles is BeeARTisan. BeeARTisan have already attracted an impressive amount of press coverage with their range of bespoke wedding gifts. They have been featured by a number of wedding websites, events and magazines including Conde Nast Brides. They have also built up a substantial social media following and now using the website we built for them as an eCommerce platform.

Nicholletta who founded BeeARTisan managed to fit answering some of our questions into her busy schedule.

BeeARTisan The Company Warehouse Customer Profile

The Company Warehouse: To start with could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career background?

Nicholletta: I used to work as a litigation paralegal. Since I was entering my new, current, phase in life with my baby it was time for a change and to start working towards creating a business by turning to my more creative, hands on side.

The Company Warehouse: How did you get the idea for your business?

Nicholletta: My inspiration came from a beekeeping course that I did in High Wycombe.  Becoming a beekeeper as a hobby was fascinating and there was, and there is, still so much to learn from beekeeping. Aside from bee husbandry I have even to learned how to tackle woodworking skills that I never knew I had!

The Company Warehouse: How would you explain what your company does to a potential customer?

Nicholletta: BeeARTisan creates exclusive and bespoke keepsake wedding favors, discerning quality little gifts for the guests. We put pure honey into personalized containers. We have various ranges using materials like 9ct gold, glass, papyrus, brass and terracotta. Because all of the containers are personalized they can double up as guest place holders for wedding banquets or parties.

The Company Warehouse: What have been the biggest challenges and successes in your business so far?

Nicholletta: The biggest challenge without a doubt is finding the best way to showcase to future customers the high quality product BeeARTisan is committed to create.  I believe any new/small company starting out finds this the biggest hurdle to begin with, in simple terms to become known, to become established.  Once a business passes that initial hurdle the hard work does not stop. The business will want to keep proving its worth and for that it needs to focus on its competitive and creative edge. You feel successful when an order is coming in since it is the confirmation, that yes the business has a great product to offer that is in demand.

The Company Warehouse: What advice would you offer to other new business start-ups?

Nicholletta: Starting a new business is hard work, no doubt about that. Be prepared to work all hours of the day to get to where you want to get. Also be prepared to listen to feedback and fine tune your product till you get it right. Be prepared to take calculated risks on budgeting.

The Company Warehouse: Where can customers buy your products?

Nicholletta: BeeARTisan showcases its creations at top established Wedding Fairs in the UK, where orders can be placed.  The next Wedding Shows that are coming up are The National Wedding Show and the Asian Wedding Exhibition.  After that we will be featuring in the ‘Glow’ exhibition in the Bluewater shopping centre. Of course orders can also be placed by visiting BeeARTisan’s website which provides detailed product information and photographs.

Do you need a Strap Line, Slogan, Tagline or Mission Statement?

Slogans, Mission Statements, Strap Lines and Tag LinesIf you want to establish a strong brand for a new company experts recommend that you can do two things. First you need a clear idea of who your customers are and what products or services you provide. Secondly you need to be able to clearly state why customers should buy your products or services.

Once you know what these two statements are, they can be a powerful way to tell new customer about your company and inspire your staff.  There are basically two ideas you need to come up with.

Mission Statement

Mission statements were all the rage in business circles a couple of years ago. They get less press these days but are still a useful tool. Mission statements tend to be for internal use. They set out the principles the company will be run on. Some good examples are:

Google - Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Amazon – Amazon’s vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

McDonalds – McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.

These mission statements set out what the company is trying to achieve and say something about how they want to do it. Both the Amazon and McDonalds mission statements explicitly mention customers while the importance of the end user is implied in the Google one.

Strap Line, Slogan or Tagline

Strap lines, Slogans and taglines are all basically the same thing. What a strap line does is to quickly sum up what the company is about. It may be incorporated into the company logo or feature in advertising. It is meant to be catchy and make the customer think positively about the company. Some good examples are:

Nike – Just do it

DeBeers – Diamonds are forever

HSBC – The world’s local bank

These slogans are short and snappy. They do not sum up everything about the company but they do give a general idea about the company’s philosophy. Nike is all about action while HSBC is a global bank with a friendly service.

Even if you don’t want to go down the route of having a formal mission statement or slogan it is a good idea to have a quick summary of your company prepared. Many people believe in the elevator pitch, a 30 second to 2 minute explanation of what your company is all about and why people should give you money. With the growing influence of social media the 160 characters Twitter gives you to write your profile might be an equally good test. If it takes you more than 160 characters or 2 minutes to describe your business perhaps then perhaps you need a rethink.

Ultimately this can be the main benefit of writing a mission statement or slogan. The process of doing it makes you thinks more clearly about your business and its benefits.

Business Coaching for Start-ups: Part 1

Start-up business coachingIn the current economic climate it can be hard for new businesses to establish themselves. Of new businesses which manage to get to the stage of registering as companies around 20-30% do not survive their first three years in business.

In order to help new companies survive and grow more quickly the government has been introducing a range of policies including business coaching. A quick search on Google, or on specialist sites like Linkedin, will reveal dozens of companies offering business coaching and mentoring to new start-ups and SMEs.

To try and understand better exactly what business coaches and mentors offer we have been talking to UK based business coaches who have experience dealing with start-ups and SMEs. One thing that quickly became clear from our conversations is that there is no standard model for business coaching. Services and approaches differ, as do methods of payment which range from straight forward fees to profit shares and equity stakes.

Paul Green Business Coach and MentorOne of the first people we talked to was Paul Green. Paul has been an independent business advisor since 2003. He typically works with the Managing Directors and owners of SMEs. He describes what he does as “implementing practical, action based strategies for growth using a working business plan and a combination of advice, mentoring and coaching”.

We asked Paul a few basic questions about what he does and about business mentoring and start-ups more generally.

The Company Warehouse: What do you think the benefits of business coaching are for start-ups and for small business more generally?

Paul Green: Business coaching offers clarity, focus, direction and targets to aim for. Any business, start-up or otherwise, can benefit from coaching – when you’re “in” the business, it is often difficult to see the woods from the trees; having an external and independent influence can only help the business owner focus “on” the business.

The Company Warehouse: Can you tell us about one of your success stories?

Paul Green: A good example would be a strategic planning project for a Telecoms company. I worked directly with the managing director of a company specialising in providing SaaS (Software as a Service) to the telecoms industry. I facilitated a strategic plan for the business to help raise funding, identify growth areas, improve financial reporting and focus the sales effort. The plan was successfully presented to the bank which enabled a loan to be offered. As a result the company increased their sales by 20% in the first year.

The Company Warehouse: What do you see as the biggest issues facing new business start-ups?

Paul Green: I tend to work with start-ups once they have secured funding (which unfortunately is not often the case). When I have worked with start-ups most do not have a “working” business plan other than what they put together to get a bank account. There is also a tendency to try and offer a product or service to almost everyone as opposed to identifying a specific target market by geography, company size, etc. This means that the business struggles to focus its’ efforts.

The Company Warehouse: What is the most common thing you see start-ups doing wrong?

Paul Green: Not monitoring cashflow.

The Company Warehouse: Finally, what should start-ups look for in a business coach?

Paul Green: They should look at the coach’s track record via testimonials and case studies. They need to have confidence in the coach’s ability.

In our next blog post we will be talking to Colin Wilkinson of Incubation who has a different approach to start-up mentoring.