The revolution might be televised

I was blogging from beyond the grave (outside the office) last week because I was away filming a well-known teatime television quiz show.


Although I’m bound by the Official Secrets Act and can’t say what happened, it was a great day and I had a lot of fun.


It’s strange though how it seems that “being on telly” is still quite a big deal, and how my friends and family are still really intrigued by what happened and how it all works backstage.


There’s also the novelty factor of meeting “celebrities”, etc.


My thinking is that the medium would have been diluted somewhat by the internet.


Being broadcast to a wider audience is no longer something exclusive to the world of television or film, as pretty much everyone has several social media accounts.


People can have their actions, thoughts and opinions beamed around the world at any time, sometimes to an audience many times bigger than the ones even the most popular television programmes get.


But yet saying you’re going to be on television elicits a reaction that you might not necessarily get if you were, for example, telling people you live-stream PC games to a regular sizable audience on an evening.


Or that you have thousands of Instagram followers who love what you’re having for tea every night.


I think it comes down to being given the thumbs up by professionals who are paying good money to have you appear on their highly-regulated, advertising-driven TV channel. There’s a filter in place there, and it’s still unusual to get beyond that.


In relation to this blog, what I’m trying to say is that there’s probably still value in television advertising, even if you’re a small business.


Apparently we still see an average of 47 adverts on telly every day. That’s a lot higher than I thought.


And the prices for advertising on ITV’s regional networks can be as little as £5,000. Of course this is still a decent-sized sum for most, but not as out of reach as I initially thought.


Turns out neither are a lot of forms of adverting that are largely considered to only be for the big boys.


You don’t need to go viral or spam social media to be seen.


See what your more traditional, but still really viable options are here:


It’s all in Module 10 by the way.



Don’t put the cart before the horse when business planning

As shown by previous blog posts, every now and again I like to visit the business forum pages and see what queries entrepreneurs are posing to the community there.


Some of the most interesting ones are about marketing, as they nearly always give excellent advice.


This is the case with one story I’ve been following.


It’s a software firm offering bespoke accounting software. By the sounds of it, they build the software you need from the ground up based on exactly what you need from it.


Apparently this normally costs thousands as a one-off payment, but this firm allow clients to subscribe for a more reasonable fee.


The reason they’re posting on the forum is because even though they already have a couple of clients signed up, they have numerous visitors to their website who aren’t translating into customers.


All the responses from the community about why this may be so make a lot of sense.


  • Work out who needs your product, and who their influencers are.
  • Develop a unique selling point; what makes your software different?
  • As usual, sell the benefits not the features. The seller is very proud of their work and wants to show what it can do, but not seeing things from a customer’s point of view.
  • On the website, say what the product is right away to eliminate confusion.
  • Explain what the different options for a customer needing accounting software would be – and how choosing your option is best.


To be fair, this advice could be taken on by almost any entrepreneur or start up.


At least three of the points should come under your Business Plan, which you should create right at the beginning of your venture.


So even if you have a great product, you shouldn’t put the cart before the horse and hope it finds its target market all by itself.


But you will need more information that those five points.


Find out what they are here:



Financial issues that keep you awake No.5 – Finding funding

Today we’re continuing our countdown of the financial concerns that affect business owners’ sleep patterns.


The data comes from KPMG Small Business Accounting, who interviewed 250 business leaders to see what keeps them awake at night.


Today’s concern, at number 5 on the list, is raising finance for growth or expansion.


14.2% of respondents earmarked this as a current concern they’d not addressed yet.


21.3% said they were working to resolve this problem.


13.5% said it was a previous concern that’d they’d now resolved.


That’s 49.1% of business leaders who felt a lack of finance for growth was causing them to lose sleep.


It could be that finding sources of finance is something that may be traditionally outside of the remit of a hired accountant, leaving the business owners to worry about it themselves.


Other issues on the KPMG list were considered less problematic, such as filing tax returns on time and correctly.


This would be because the business owners knew their accountants were prioritising such tasks, so it was all in hand.


However, it seems that simply asking your accountant to help out with finding funding could be a way to alleviate those concerns.


68.0% of respondents found this to be successful. And, if your accountant can’t help you out, maybe it’s time to find one who can.


This is backed up by the 76.0% approval rate from those who changed their accountant.


The other successful tactic was to move to cloud-based accounting, which is unlikely to be applicable to this particular problem.


A good accountant should be able to check your financial forecasts so you have the best possible chance of receiving funding.


They can make sure your business plan and forecasts are tight and realistic, which will be advantageous when applying for a loan from a bank or a government grant.


They should also know what other types of funding you may be eligible for due to their experience within the accounting profession.


Overall, knowing that someone can make your business look as attractive as possible to potential investors should reduce most of the worries you have about the issue.


Find an accountant to help you out right here:



Sheer genius? Ed knows his target market

According to The Official Chart update, all 16 tracks from Ed Sheeran’s new album Divide (÷) have charted in the UK Top 40.


Nine of the Top 10 songs are by Sheeran. Crazy days.


One of them, Galway Girl, is a strange novelty effort with half-rapped lyrics that namecheck Dublin’s Grafton Street with an Irish fiddle backing track last heard on B*Witched’s C’est la Vie.


According to a recent interview with the Guardian, Sheeran said his record label weren’t keen on it being included on the album.


“They were really, really against Galway Girl, because apparently folk music isn’t cool. But there’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish.


“You meet them in America all the time: ‘I’m a quarter Irish and I’m from Donegal.’ And those type of people are going to love it.”


Turns out he was right and they were wrong, as it’s currently at number 3 in the UK and already gone to number 1 in Ireland.


You could argue it’s a classic case of knowing your target market, and one that could translate to business.


Sheeran’s market research will stem from constant gigging, using social media, and experience of what works in the world of pop.


He even identifies that there’s been a “huge gap in the market” for that kind of thing since The Corrs, and actively tried to plug it.


For your business, it’s going to be slightly different – but the fundamentals are the same.


As Sheeran shows, it pays to know your audience.


Find out how to research your own target market right here:



#Startup motivationals don’t #help

It’s a new month. The first day of Spring?


Doesn’t feel like it yet – as proven by the frost on my car windscreen that needed clearing before I came to work this morning.


Twitter seems to think so though, with the #FirstDayOfSpring hashtag trending good and proper all day long.


Out of interest, I decided to search for a hashtag that relates to our line of work.


#StartUp. After a few seconds looking at the top results there’s very little there that’s actually helpful for anyone wanting to start a new business.


It’s just a load of motivationals – cheesy, clichéd pictures with some quote about bettering yourself. Like this:


“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no-one alive who is youer than you.”


What does that even mean? Why does it relate to business start-ups?


“Youer”. That’s Dr Seuss isn’t it?


Here’s another:


“Falling down is how we grow. Staying down is how we die.” With a picture of Russell Crowe in Gladiator next to it.


Great! But how do I work out my tax return? Probably won’t feel like growing when saddled with a big fat tax bill due to not having any actual advice available.


One more:


“Memories take us back. Dreams take us forward.” Retweeted 124 times.


Are people into this? Are actual entrepreneurs sitting there thinking “yeah man, so true!”


Doubt it.


If you want genuine help with your #StartUp forget the motivationals and have a look here:



Don’t let your business get blown away

So Storm Doris came and went.


Luckily, we didn’t see too much devastation where we are but she’s caused havoc elsewhere in the country.


One thing I noticed was the blanket coverage from the media about the storm, even before it hit.


Up to a day before it was due to start, airports had cancelled flights and Network Rail were warning of delays and cancellations.


The Met Office issued two amber warnings for snow in Scotland and Northumberland, and one for winds of up to 80mph in the Midlands and Wales.


Overall, it seemed they were pretty sure the thing was coming, and made sure everyone knew.


The blanket coverage from news outlets could of course be attributed to the need for 24-hour news, so anything newsworthy is recycled and reported ad-infinitum until the next headline comes along – but that’s another story.


It had me thinking that it couldn’t be more different to that most infamous of Met Office gaffes, the Great Storm of 1987.


“Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way; well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t, but having said that, actually, the weather will become very windy, but most of the strong winds, incidentally, will be down over Spain and across into France” said Michael Fish, who often takes the flack for the non-prediction of the storm.


Although it sounds like he may have been misquoted, and just giving information the behind-the-scenes meteorologists had told him.


Still, the forecasts said the strong winds wouldn’t make it further North than the English Channel when ultimately it caused £2billion worth of damage.


This led to widespread criticism of the Met Office, who had failed to plan ahead through inadequate equipment and under-funding.


Several reforms then took place including refinement to their computer software, the training of meteorologists, and the way weather warnings were issued.


Where am I going with this?


Oh yes… don’t let the same happen with your business.


It’s an extreme example, but shows how important planning can be.


In a business, this applies to everything you’ll do – from the start-up stage, to accounting and marketing.


Make sure you’ve taken every eventuality into consideration, and know how to react if they happen.


Don’t let your business get blown away.