The UK saw an increase in high-growth small businesses last year, with an increase of over 30% since 2012. And a big part of the success of these companies can be contributed to the modern way businesses are run. With the introduction of ‘gig workers’ and the influx of zero-hour contracts, business owners are both working with the employees and against them.
Small and large businesses have started introducing the zero-hour contract in an attempt to solve in-house budgeting issues. With chain companies only having allotted hours to delegate to employees, meeting multiple thirty-hour, or twenty-hour contracts can be hard. A zero-hour contract means that the employee is entitled to zero hours a week, and they are given as many hours as the owner or manager can afford. This may work in a business sense, but workers who are trying to pay rent and bills, this isn’t the best.
There has also been a rise in gig workers in the UK. ‘Gig work’ means, rather than a regular pay, the employee is paid for the work they do – in a freelancing or an odd-job capacity, where contacts may not even be involved to regulate pay or other specifics per job. Which can leave holes in the worker’s pay and health and safety requirements. Or, it can offer a flexible working environment where the worker is able to work around other commitments – the views on gig work is mixed across the internet.
Businesses of all sizes are in a state of wait-and-see following the EU Referendum of June 2016. And many seem to be growing as quickly as they can before anything changes drastically. Many smaller businesses who relied on the EU for products were hit hard immediately after the results as the pound dropped overnight.
Legally, businesses are looking for advice for the working nation 2017 in increased amounts almost across the board, with gender and disability remaining at the top of the request column.
Businesses are adapting almost unanimously to accommodate the modern way of living, with parents needing more flexibility as childcare costs can take up nearly 45% of parent’s income. And, although the legislation was changed in 2015, the push for a more balanced paternal leave to maternity leave is still prevalent.
The presence of small businesses on social media can also be a real factor to consider when looking at reasons for positive growth. More companies than ever are using social media to self-promote and connect with their customers.
Growing a business is never as easy as others make it seem, there are many factors to take into consideration – from the basics to the complicated legalities surrounding owning your own business. Here are some ways of increasing the growth in your business.
This may seem obvious, but the number of businesses who shy away from really connecting through social media is astounding. Businesses owners shouldn’t be afraid of weighing in on important issues. Obviously, try and stay neutral politically, or you can risk the loss of many customers and clients. But you should have a say about the important issues of the day, even if you’re just re-tweeting an article, or sharing a video you found necessary. The best thing to do is to try and find the angle that best promotes your business; if you’re a vegan deli, then sharing a video on animal safety will be in your best interest.
Communicating with your client base is important too if someone comments or mentions you, then say something back. The bigger your business is, the harder it is to reply to everyone, but the viral success of the right response can be worth the effort.
Communicating also helps with any customer complaints; you can head off most annoyances with a well-meaning reply. Once the client feels like their complaint has been acknowledged and taken seriously, they usually leave it alone. When it comes to serious complaints, you can always seek for legal advice to deal with the situation alone or with help.
No modern day marketing campaign is complete without social media. Think about the ways you promote yourself; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin – all these platforms should be used by your business too.
A well-rounded marketing campaign is priceless. Not only should you utilise social media, but websites and advertising. Physical marketing should not be overlooked, even in this ultra-technology driven world. People still go outside and see posters and billboards, and they still buy the paper and magazines.
Your marketing journey could start as simple as business cards and a facebook page, but as your business grows so should your marketing. But your reach in social media and advertising will always preempt your growth; your reach will grow as you expand your advertising and the positive effects on your business will follow.
Blogging on your business website can increase your reach, and can make your company seem more personable and approachable. People like to know who they are dealing with, or buying from, so by giving your business an online voice, you reach out in a new way.
Building a Strong Foundation
Before establishing your business, or before taking that next step, make sure that your foundation is secure. Are your legal affairs in order and up-to-date? Any contracts, invoices and health and safety paperwork need to be accounted for and air-tight. The same can be said for your finances. Is your tax code correct, are bills being tracked and are any business expenses being logged?
If the basis of your business is flawed, then the bigger your business grows, the harder it is to fix those cracks in the foundations. As silly as it seems, keeping all the right receipts and paperwork can be the difference between success and defeat.
The foundation also extends to your employees – ensure that they have all the correct paperwork to work in the country, the right qualifications and skills, and the right training if your business deals with machinery or equipment that would need training for.
Stay in touch with what is happening, not just locally or nationally, but internationally too. The business market is always changing, and with Brexit on the horizon, no one knows how businesses will be affected in the UK. And even within the EU business could see some changes.
Before pursuing a new venture, opening new premises, or taking on a new deal – do the research and see where the current dips in the market are. Again, ask for advice if you need it, but never do anything blind to the current events surrounding the country.
Plan for different outcomes; if you plan for a Brexit that works to your benefit, for example, and for one that doesn’t, then your back is covered for either outcome. Staying organised throughout your business principles and business ventures are the keys to success.
Also review any new trends, like the zero-hour contracts and gig workers, from both a business point of view and from an employee point; it may seem like a great idea for your books, but doesn’t that mean it’s the best thing for your employees. Freelance workers may be the best option for some parts of your business, like marketing or design, but not for others like finance and customer service. Remember that happy employees will always produce better work which can only benefit your business.
Companies both inside the UK and beyond would take advantage of these ideas. Anything that may seem solely based in the UK, or the US, or anywhere else within the big movers of the business community throughout the world, is always worth keeping an eye on. You never know when something elsewhere will affect you at home. Obviously, this is more prevalent to larger businesses – but as you plan for the future, bare in mind that any changes in government, legislation, and finances can, and will, affect others.