In the wake of the recent budget announcement by Phillip Hammond, Small Business Advice Week is taking a look at what SMEs can expect in the coming years. While in the past many small business owners have expressed disappointment with how they’ve been overlooked, or undervalued compared to larger businesses by the Government, many may be glad to hear that things are finally seeming to change.
With big businesses relocating in the wake of Brexit, small businesses are being given support to maintain quality and security, and may even push through economic uncertainty to make growth during a time that many people have written off as a dead decade.
Given that the country faces its worst period of economic growth in decades, major setbacks were of course to be expected, but at long last small businesses appear to be vital to the government’s long-term recovery plan. Small Business Advice Week is taking a look at that plan, what it means for you, and how you can prepare for what lies ahead.
As productivity is predicted to decline over the coming years, the backbone of British business will have to fight harder than ever to maintain high turnover and survive into the post-Brexit world, whatever that may be. However small businesses are as tenacious and resourceful as ever, embracing change, and facing challenges that will require bold new solutions.
One of the biggest demands of the SME sector was for the government to address the skill shortage that has been plaguing small businesses of late. A focus was especially asked for in terms of crucial digital skills that the country will need as technology progresses faster and faster. Unless SMEs are given a wide pool of available talent, they could be left behind as well-trained graduates and experts are poached by larger companies.
Another crucial concern raised by technology is automation, and ensuring that jobs aren’t lost in sectors which could avoid the rise of robotics. Implementing schemes to upskill employees to make sure they aren’t lost as skills shift in the ever-changing technological landscape. Luckily, the government seems to have heard business leaders’ concerns, preparing an industrial strategy to reinforce employees’ versatility and longevity in a sector that is crucial to the economy. AI is likewise predicted to have a big impact in how businesses are run and analysed, with systems becoming smarter, faster, and more aware of what’s going on. The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ will pose challenges the likes of which business owners have never faced before, and as such we will all need data-literate employees who understand what is happening, and what it means.
In more familiar aspects of business, Hammond also announced that he was reducing proposed hikes in business rates, much to the relief of business owners who were set to make a loss. He has also promised to scrap the ‘staircase’ tax, which was set to charge businesses more tax based on whether they are based in offices which use communal stairs or lifts. The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the move, which it estimates will affect 80,000 properties.
With a Government that is at last seeming to understand how important small business is to the UK economy, small businesses may soon be able to enjoy some level of symbiosis, with support from the Government increasing their capabilities and helping propel the UK onto greater things.
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Content is the backbone of digital marketing, with more brands becoming publishers in their own right. Content marketing, when done well, involves compelling material that allows clients to connect with your brand in varying and powerful ways.
The case for investing resources into a good content marketing strategy has been built. Content marketing costs 62% less, yet produces three times as many leads as outbound marketing.
It is no longer a question of whether you should engage in content marketing activities or not. Rather, it is now a question of how.
As you use the five steps to plan business growth, here are some ideas to consider for growing your business through content marketing.
Embrace Your Visuals
The importance of visuals to any piece of content cannot be overstated. From simple blog posts to full-blown integrated marketing campaigns, visuals play a crucial role in drawing audiences in and enriching the written word.
According to the Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Marketing Report, 85% of all marketers use visuals in their material and 73% plan on using more next year.
Videos, in particular, have enjoyed a huge boost in terms of popularity, bolstered by new ways videos can now be shared and interacted with. This year, the use of live videos has doubled from 2016, with 75% of marketers planning on increasing their use further in 2018.
The most successful visuals and videos are centered on stories. People are drawn to stories more than they are to sales pitches, and it’s important to identify first what your audience wants in order to be able to create visuals that will appeal to them. Keep videos short, but valuable, especially within the first ten seconds of the reel. Make sure to hook your audience’s attention right away, and monitor analytics to see what works and what doesn’t.
Collaborate With Influencers
An article by content marketing specialists Ayima on where content marketing is going explains that quick win campaigns, as well as a heavy reliance on celebrity status and follower count, no longer makes the cut when it comes to influencer marketing. The key to successful content marketing with influencers is finding the right one(s) to collaborate with for content that feels fresh, authentic, and new. Partner with influencers who are not only aligned with your brand values, but are also already connecting with your target market. This way, they have higher chances of making them listen to your brand’s messages and take action from there.
The concept of influencer marketing is still evolving, which means that there is plenty of room to grow and exciting opportunities for leadership. Focus on creating content that is relevant to your brand, your influencer, and your audience, and watch as your data reveal the effects on your ROI.
Be There Every Step Of The Way
A good content marketing strategy knows its audience inside and out, using this knowledge to create compelling content for different stages of the purchase funnel. Whether an individual member of your target audience is only beginning to be aware of your brand or is already building fierce loyalty to it, there must always be content ready to give them a nudge towards the next step.
Forbes relays that's why most successful entrepreneurs make use of as many as 13 different content marketing tactics at the very least. Content marketing is at its most powerful when it is distributed through a wide array of channels and created in different formats designed to target specific segments of your audience. Doing so maximizes the potentials of content marketing and lets you avoid, as the proverbial phrase goes, putting all your eggs in one basket.
That being said, it is important to monitor results to be able to tweak strategies as needed.
Content marketing is a powerful tool to make your business grow through powerful storytelling and meticulous research. As traditional internet advertising continues to have one foot out the door, the future of digital marketing is most definitely in the content.
For small business owners claiming business on running costs can be a useful way of subsidising expenditure and injecting cash flow.
This process involves businesses paying tax on their profits, and removing the cost of expenses from the final amount paid.
Moreover, knowledge of possible deductions can help give SMEs a better chance of survival through different avenues. But what is it possible to claim for?
Loans and Overdrafts:
Smaller organisations aiming to save money on their tax bills ought to bear in mind that interest incurred on overdrawn business loans and bank accounts is typically deductible. Therefore, as a general rule of thumb it's advisable to utilise company funds rather than borrowing money personally.
It's also worth noting that it's possible to receive tax relief for pension contribution, up to the corresponding contribution limit in certain instances pension contributions are made by the business on behalf of their employees. However, contributions can also be made as an individual, a sole trader or partner.
Furthermore, this tax relief also extends to any family members working within the business.
Thirdly, partners and sole traders are able to claim a percentage of the cost of driving their cars, applicable running costs include fuel, insurance, road tax, repairs, and maintenance. The proportion of costs that entrepreneurs are able to reclaim is determined by business mileage on a pro-rata basis: commuting to work does not qualify as a business journey.
Similarly, most small businesses are able to claim capital allowances on new vehicles bought within the accounting period, and the amount of capital allowance an individual is eligible for is determined by the proportion of business use the vehicle gets.
Furthermore, new cars receive one year's allowance the year they're bought, for that reason there are tax benefits to regularly changing cars.
Travel and Subsistence:
In the event that business duties take entrepreneurs further afield, all costs incurred as a result of subsistence, work, or travelling are allowable, and what's more is that these expenses are undisclosed to HMRC. For instance, if a job requires journeying abroad, both the cost of getting first class flights and traveling by ferry would both be fully allowable, therefore it's possible to save money on an equivalent service rendered abroad when compared to those at home.
Working from Home:
It's quite common for small business owners to work from home, whether that's the business headquarters or just the occasional admin task. In any event, it’s possible to claim a proportion of their household bills such as council tax, utilities and other expenses from HMRC, the amount each individual is entitled to is decided by the size of the property and how much business use it gets.
Sole traders and business partners are able to reclaim costs incurred as a result of business calls made on private landlines or mobile phones. In addition: directors and shareholders can do the same for calls made from home phones. It's also possible for small business proprietors who have a phone used solely for business purposes to claim line rental as well. Furthermore, it's possible to forgo any benefit in kind (BIK) contributions, for being given a company phone by an employer.
Decoration & Refurbishment:
Another useful tax deduction that small businesses can make use of pertains to redecorating areas of your business space that are visible to the clients, customers and the public. This can apply to anything from paint and tools to furniture, paintings and antiques, but it's also worth noting that in order to claim this relief business owners must make a case justifying their expenditure and receipt of this relief is at HMRCs discretion.
Finally, the cost of staff parties and other forms of team entertainment are typically deductible, this normally applies to annual dinners and Christmas parties. Moreover, there will not be any BIK for personnel in regard to business events as long as the cost of the event does not exceed £150 per person.
For more information on how to save money in your small business, visit Cottons Accountants.