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.6 – Up-to-date bookkeeping

I’ve been reading a report from KPMG Small Business Accounting about how finance-related concerns affect business owners’ sleep patterns.


From a survey of 250 business leaders, the report looks at the issues that affect them the worst, the approaches they’ve taken to get a better night’s sleep, and the impact it’s had on their business.


It’s quite worrying to read that 53.6% of small business owners have finance-related worries that stop them getting a decent night’s sleep on a regular basis.


More than one in eight believe that such concerns interfere with their sleep most nights.


The report makes it quite clear what the main areas of concern are though.


Luckily they’re also issues that can be solved quite easily.


In true Top of the Pops style I’ll work through them in reverse order, starting (unusually) at number 6…


6. Ensuring bookkeeping is kept up to date


24.8% of the business owners said this was a former concern, now resolved.


14% said it was a current concern they’re working to resolve.


19% said it was a current concern, but not addressed yet.


Some people believe that bookkeeping and accounting are the same thing. Not quite – bookkeeping is keeping an accurate and complete record of all transactions, while accounting involves analysing those records.


Bookkeeping can be work intensive, which is why it’s probably an issue for small business owners who have to do everything themselves.


It’s easy to feel swamped, and if you’re having to make a product, market it, sell it, put in the hours in a shop, visit clients etc. you may never have the time to sit at a desk with a calculator or spreadsheet and work out your incomings and outgoings.


You’ll work longer hours, into the night, and… lose sleep.


It’s an easy job to outsource though. You don’t necessarily have to do it yourself.


And there’s loads of people out there who’d do it for you.


It’d be one less thing to worry about.


Some of them can be found here:


It might just help you sleep better.



Confused by the budget?

It’s a practical advice day today.


After the budget announcement yesterday, it looks like National Insurance contributions for self-employed workers will go up.


This is obviously not good news for small business owners.


However, apparently any business losing their small business rate relief will benefit from a cap, which prevents the rate they pay from going up by more than £50 per month.


This is only being introduced of course to try to placate those hit hardest by the recent increase in business rates.


That’s not all – income tax allowances for the self-employed will be increasing come the new financial year.


So would you be better off, or not?


It can be hard to see how the overall picture will affect you and your business.


In times like this it might be better to consult a professional, who’ll have seen it all before.


You’ll need a good one though.


Here’s where to find one, with our list of questions to ask an accountant before hiring: