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Summary of seminars from FSB National Conference 2016

Over the three days a large number of sessions took place in the seminar theatre, sponsored by BSI, allowing FSB members to access advice on how to run their business more efficiently.

Building a website

Around 88 per cent of small businesses are failing to properly take advantage of online shopping, Ade Bamgbala, Lead Trainer with Google’s Digital Garage, told delegates. He provided 10 tips for building user-friendly websites:

  • Identify your firm’s goal online
  • Make content easy for users to digest
  • Break up long paragraphs with bullet points to make reading easier
  • Use calls to action, such as ‘Buy Now’
  • Create clear site navigation
  • Create logos that are eye-catching
  • Always try to strike a balance between the volume of text and use of images
  • Ensure photographs and images are clear and relevant Include a phone number when appropriate – it helps with audience trust
  • Try to include, somewhere, the terms and conditions of your business

Digital marketplace

David Taylor, FSB Corporate Communications Co-ordinator, outlined six steps to creating a modern, digitally adaptable small business. These included defining a strategy, creating the culture for change, providing strong content that can be accessed across all platforms, managing interaction on online channels including social media, understanding pay-per-click advertising, and monitoring online data to gauge the success of any strategy.

Cybercrime

As small businesses become more reliant on digital communications and trading, the opportunity for cyber-criminals grows. The main risks, said Tim Lazenby, Managing Director of FSB Insurance Services, come from malware, phishing scams, hacking, and a lack of skilled people who can protect vulnerable firms.

Malware, he said, was software placed on an individual’s computer to extract data. One in five PCs was infected with malware, he said, with half of these losing data from their systems.

Any business holding sensitive customer data, running a network or website, or that is linked to the credit-card system could be vulnerable, he said, but it was possible to take out cyber-liability insurance that could offer compensation for business interruption, privacy protection and hacker damage repair cover, as well as protection again media liability. For more information, visit fsb.org.uk/benefits

Communications

Broadband is the fifth utility service, Russel Warren of FSB Communications told delegates, and small businesses need to ensure they are getting the service that abusiness requires. “You will find your reliability will improve, causing fewer outages, which will help save you money and protect your reputation with clients,” he said. 

Business owners should also consider SIP trunking – using broadband for making phone calls – or using Voip services, he added. For more information, visit fsb.org.uk/benefits

Technology

Bring Your Own Device means small businesses can empower staff without having to foot the cost of the technology, said Jonathan Smith, Sales Manager at Epson. Allowing your staff to work from home can also help your firm – production levels increase and staff work longer hours when based at home.

Having proper agreements with staff is crucial to ensuring the policy is successful. Taking advantage of support and collaboration can raise productivity by 25 per cent, he added.

Branding

Andrew Dobbie, Founder of digital agency Made Brave, asked delegates to consider just what branding is. The answer, he said, is simply those elements that humanise a business.

Think about tone of voice and how it communicates, consider the purpose and the personality of the business, look at its style, and the way it goes about things. All these elements, he said, reflect a brand.

Auto-enrolment

Because the state pension is under pressure, said Steve Venables, Business Development Manager at FSB Workplace Pensions, provided by L&G, the Government has introduced auto-enrolment, making every employer offer a savings scheme to employees that both parties pay into. 

He said employers needed to consider set-up costs, ongoing fees and charges, and whether employees will have the confidence to stay in the scheme. For more information, visit fsb.org.uk/benefits

Organisational resilience

Adopting international standards can drive efficiency and create opportunities, Toni Allen, Head of Client Proposition at BSI, told attendees. “Standards are created by industry, and supported by BSI. Companies themselves set the standards for their sector.”

The ISO 9001 management quality standard is the backbone of the small business sector. Firms that adhere to this standard have seen their sales and marketing improve, and 55 per cent have made cost savings, she said.

Enterprise skills

How many jobs will today’s school leaver have during their career? The answer, said Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland, is 15-20. He outlined nine skills that young people will need as society changes: leadership development, critical thinking, business acumen, managing change skills, creativity, data analysis, workplace tech skills, oral communication and a global mindset.