Essential Preparation Tips for Starting a Home-Based Business

If you want a fulfilling career, running your own business is hard to beat. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, it requires hard work and—sometimes—long hours. But being the captain of your own destiny and enjoying the fruits of your labor can make the challenges well worth it.

One thing to consider if you decide to start a business is where you’ll work. Many entrepreneurs are choosing to use their homes as their business headquarters because of the many advantages it offers over renting an office space (e.g. no commute, less overhead, more flexibility, etc.). However, when you run a business out of your home, it’s critical to approach it the right way. From developing your first business plan to working with a content management service, here are a few essential tips for setting up a home-based business that flourishes:

Come up with a plan

Once you have a business idea that you want to pursue, one of the first things you should do is create a business plan. This document should contain your primary objectives for the company, as well as how you plan to accomplish those objectives over the next one to five years. Developing a business plan will help you to structure your ideas, identify obstacles to your goals, create a budget, secure financing, and much more.

Prepare for long-term success

No one starts a business in hopes of it failing in the first three years. Yet that is what happens to 60% of new businesses in the U.K. Lack of long-term planning is the main reason for this. Creating a realistic business plan is a big part of planning for the long term, but it’s not everything. You also have to be strategic with the types of funding you pursue. For example, if you go with venture capitalists, angel investors, or a bank loan, you must be confident that you can pay your bills on time. Otherwise, you can end up in a bad financial position, which is another common reason for new businesses failing.

Set up a work area

Dedicating an effective workspace in your home is paramount for ensuring productivity on a daily basis. And if you’re running a business, you will probably need a home office rather than a simple desk in the corner of the living room.

You should choose comfortable, attractive furniture so you look forward to your tasks. Find decorative storage solutions that will hold all of your belongings and tie into the overall design of your office. Paint the walls, replace the flooring, and make any other upgrades necessary to turn the space into somewhere you will want to work every day. And set boundaries with your family members so that you can minimise distractions.

Focus on marketing

Marketing has never been more important for businesses. It’s also never been more affordable. Social media with interesting content and email marketing are two of the most effective ways to promote your brand and expand your customer/client base.

Social media, in particular, provides many features for small businesses that are either free or inexpensive. For instance, an effective ad or post on Instagram that encourages your followers to share content with their followers can quickly result in hundreds—if not thousands—of people seeing your company’s content.

Keep up-to-date on the tools available

Last but not least: There are a lot of apps and tools on the market that can help you run your business more efficiently, boost sales, and gain customers. Research the various tools that can improve your communication, time tracking, project management, accounting, and other processes to figure out which ones can help you the most.

If you are planning to start a home-based business, I can help to ensure that you get off to a strong start. Along with implementing the tips listed here, keep learning about how you can set your business up for long-term success. That way, you can avoid your company becoming a statistic after the first few years.

20 digital marketing terms you MUST know

The digital world is full of marketing terms and acronyms like CPC (cost per click), ROI (return on investment), SEO (search engine optimisation) and so many more.

It can be quite overwhelming. You start to feel like you’re reading in code. But we’re here to decipher the code and put it into your terms. We’ll break up the digital marketing terms into three different categories – search engine marketing, email marketing and social media marketing, although some of the terms can be applied to all three.

Search engine marketing terms
SEO

Search engine optimisation is the organic way to move your website up in search engine results. There are many ways in doing this such as incorporating keywords into your site, writing blog posts and acquiring backlinks. This method of search engine marketing takes time as the search engines will need to crawl your site to pick up on any changes you make. If you want to rank higher at a faster page, it will cost.

At Belluber, we are experts in optimising our clients’ websites!

PPC

Pay Per Click are paid ads that run on Google. This is an instant way of improving your Google presence. As soon as you set up your ad campaign, you can begin ranking. To be at the top of search results, this may require a big budget.

PPC also involves keyword research but instead of optimising webpages, you’ll need to create ads.

SEO and PPC work great individually, but together they can skyrocket your business.

Bounce rate

A bounce rate in terms of search engine marketing is when a user lands on your website and leaves just after a few seconds. Google Analytics will show you the bounce rate for your website. If this number is high, you’ll need to make some adjustments, such as looking at the speed of your site.

The more pages a user views and the longer they spend on your website, the greater the chances are for you to appear higher in search rankings.

Above the fold

Content that is “above the fold” is anything that appears on your website before the user has to scroll. So what should appear above the fold is your most important content. When landing on your site, your audience needs to know immediately what is going on, to prevent them from pressing the back button.

Email marketing terms
List segmentation

Segmenting your email list can work wonders for automations. You can break up your lists by industry, new and returning customers, networking contacts… The list goes on. These can be used to create automations – if you need some help creating automations to move your leads through your sales funnel, talk to us! However you want to segment your lists, there should always be a strategy in place.

Bounce rate

A bounce rate in the email marketing world is the percentage of emails that weren’t delivered in your campaign. If you have a high bounce rate, there might be an issue your email, so always check your bounce rate each time you send out a campaign.

CTR

While open rates look great on paper, the click through rate is the most important metric. The goal of most email campaigns is to keep subscribers engaged and to follow through to your website. Engagement is measured by the open rate, while the click through rate is what’s measured when people click through to your website.

This is also used in social media marketing.

Social media marketing terms
CPA

Cost per acquisition is a metric used to determine how much acquiring one customer costs. You can calculate this by dividing the cost of your campaign by the number of conversions. This metric shows you how much you are actually spending per conversion. If this cost is too high, you should consider reworking your marketing campaign.

A/B split testing

When running any type of advert, it’s best to split test. This means you will have 2-3 similar ads that run at the same time to see which performs best. You can switch up the featured image, text, header, etc. A/B split testing will help to show you which advert people liked more.

This can also be applied to email marketing.

Lead generation/Lead magnet/Lead nurturing

Lead generation is exactly what it sounds like – how your business generates leads. A lead magnet can be a free e-book, small giveaway, etc. that you offer to customers in exchange for their email addresses. This tool will help your business capture those potential customers. When they become a lead, you will need to nurture them until they become a customer.

Businesses typically nurture their leads through a sales funnel. This can be in the form of sending emails, retargeting them on social media, or following up with a telephone call.

Engagement rate

Posts, tweets, blogs and photos all have engagement rates – how much users are interacting with your brand. How many shares did that blog receive? How many comments did you get on that post? The higher your engagement rate is, the better your content is.

Pixel

This is a piece of code that is inserted onto your website to track. It gathers analytics and data on your customers and their movements on your website. You can also use pixels on Facebook to retarget customers. By having a pixel on your website tracking your customers who visit, you can target them in future Facebook ads.

If you’re unfamiliar with HTML, your pixel will look like random words and symbols. But all you need to worry about is copying and pasting it in the correct place on your site. Facebook provides great tutorials on how to do this for most major website platforms. Or we can help!

If you have further questions about these marketing terms, contact us. We can help you create your social media strategy, manage email campaigns and even build you a new website.

The importance of good website design

One of the most important things for most businesses is a good website design. A professionally designed website can influence how many site visitors you receive, and how they view your business, potentially turning them into your customers. They are the new storefronts and first points of contact for an increasing number of businesses and brands.

How website design becomes an asset to business

Investing in website design can generate an outstanding profit for your business. Hire an efficient website designer who is capable of dealing with the following key points in designing a website:

1. Navigation

This is vital, especially if your website has lots of pages. You want users to easily explore and understand your site. Settle for a simple yet intuitive navigation with a well-labelled navigation bar or a menu that shows a list of the different webpages.

2. Content and visual elements

These also include the choice of font and other typographic details. The visual elements of your website should compliment the theme of your business and the message you want to deliver.

Always remember that less is often better. Webpages with too much content look messy and affect conversion rate, as cluttered pages can be too difficult to read and may put users off.

3. Brand uniformity

Your brand is what sets your apart from your competitors, and it’s usually identified through a logo. If your business has an existing logo, then all of the logo’s elements must be integrated into the website design for consistency.

It’s important for your audience to recognise your brand in all types of ways. If there are slight changes in your marketing or branding, this may result in confusion among your target market.

4. Engagement

Webpages should have an excellent layout so that they are more appealing to users, encouraging them to engage with your page. The need of website design and development is an indispensable factor that should be measured carefully.

5. SEO

Utilising the visible areas for the important website details can improve the search engine optimisation (SEO). This happens when you incorporate keywords into your website that are relevant to your business. When Google and other search engines can crawl into your website through these keywords, it results in higher search engine placement, making your website more searchable.

With the help of website design, business owners are able to create a user-friendly and welcoming online environment where users can always get useful information. When you have a well-managed website, people can rely on you. It builds trust, and when visitors trust you, they won’t have doubts in getting your products and services. In effect, you will have a thriving and profitable business.

(MORE: 15 benefits of SEO and why every business needs it)

Do you think your website needs a refresh? Get in touch, and we will provide a free detailed analysis.

Facebook update that will help REDUCE the cost of your ads

Making your ads relevant to your target audience is important. The obvious reasons are to get engagement and conversions, but also because Facebook charges less amount per click if your ad’s relevancy score is high (on a score of 1-10).

If Facebook’s algorithm gives your ad a low relevancy score, it is difficult to identify why it’s not relevant. Is it the design of the ad and text? Is it the wrong target audience? Or perhaps it’s the actual offer?

Facebook says:

“Relevance score is calculated based on the positive and negative feedback we expect an ad to receive from its target audience. The more positive interactions we expect an ad to receive, the higher the ad’s relevance score will be. (Positive indicators vary depending on the ad’s objective, but may include video views, conversions, etc.) The more times we expect people to hide or report an ad, the lower its score will be.”

Well, now Facebook says that this single metric doesn’t provide enough guidance on what needs to be improved in order to increase an ad’s relevancy score.

So Facebook is changing this relevancy score metric to more detailed indicators:

Quality ranking

How your ad’s perceived quality compared with ads competing for the same audience.
Improve the ad creative – design and text in the ad.

Engagement rate ranking

How your ad’s expected engagement rate compared with ads competing for the same audience.
Improve the targeting of your ad.

Conversion rate ranking

How your ad’s expected conversion rate compared with ads that had the same optimisation goal and competed for the same audience.
Improve the offer and call to action button. Then perhaps the landing page your ad links to if there is one.

This change also means you’re not having to change all different aspects of your ad which means you won’t know which change improved the ranking (or increased the engagements and conversions).

Facebook is always updating its advertising tools and refinements to help businesses generate better results. While they do this to help Facebook, it also benefits you to generate better results.

Facebook’s new ad performance metrics will be rolled out over the next few weeks, with relevance score being removed as of April 30th.

How to write a top-notch professional bio

Is your professional bio the best it can be? Or, like most people, did you sort of write it half-heartedly?

Although in certain contexts, your professional bio needs to be formal, most are quite dull to read. Writing one that’s conversational is actually a really good thing. That means dropping the traditional format of simply listing your accomplishments and squeezing in as much professional-sounding jargon in there as you can.

So with these simple steps, here’s how you can write a top-notch bio.

1. Creating an About page for your website or profile

Before you can publish your professional bio, here are a few places to consider putting it (some of these you might already have):

  • Personal website
  • Personal blog
  • Industry website
  • Facebook company page
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Twitter bio
  • Instagram account

The length and tone of your bio will vary depending on which of the platforms above you write it for. For example, Instagram only allows 150 characters of space, whereas you can write virtually as much as you want on your Facebook company page or your personal website. But your bio should represent who you are in the eyes of your audience.

2. Begin writing your bio with your name

If your readers don’t remember anything else about your bio, make sure they remember your name. This means it’s good for the first two words of your professional bio to be your first and last name.

For example I might start writing my own bio like this:

Stephanie Collyer

Stephanie Collyer is the Company Founder of marketing company Belluber.

3. State your current position and what you do

Whether you’re the owner of your company or a mid-level member of the team, use the next few lines of your bio to describe what you do. Don’t assume your audience will know what your job title entails. Help your readers paint a picture of who you are during the day and what you have to offer to the industry.

4. Include at least one professional accomplishment

Your professional bio should let your audience know what you’ve achieved, just as a business uses the form of case studies. What have you done for yourself – or others – that makes you a valuable player in your field?

5. Describe your values

Why do you do what you do? What makes your contribution to the industry different to others? What values do you and your colleagues share that would make your business a worthwhile investment to others? Here’s where you simply describe what gets you up in the morning.

6. Briefly tell your audience who you are outside of work

Transition from describing your values in work to explaining who you are outside of work. This could include:

  • Your hometown
  • Your family
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Your favourite travel destinations and music
  • Any side hustles you’re working on

Always remember that people like connecting with other people. The more transparent you are about who you are, the more likable you’ll be to the people reading about who you are professionally.

7. Feel free to add a personal story or some humour for some flavour

End your professional bio on a good note – or even better, a funny note. Leaving your readers with something unique or quirky will ensure you’ll give them a pleasant impression of you.

Try and follow the steps above when writing your bio, but don’t spend too much time obsessing over one section.

Why good bios are important for a professional

“How many people actually read professional bios, anyway?”

A lot of people, is the answer. There’s no way to tell exactly who is reading it, but you always want it to be ready for when the right people come across it. And when they do, you want to catch their eye.

It’s the tool that you can leverage most when you’re networking.

People will read your professional bio. Whether they remember it, is a matter of how well you present yourself to your intended audience.

Want to get started now?

Hubspot have provided a free download packed with professional bio templates, examples, and more tips. Download here.

Why you should be checking out your competitors

Knowing who your competitors are and what they are offering can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out. You can use this knowledge to create marketing strategies and take advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses, improving your own business performance. Also assess any threats and how you can overcome them.

Here are three important reasons on why it’s vital to be checking out your competitors.

1. To be the best

See what your competitors are excelling at and understand why with the following examples:

  • Do they have a higher following on social media than you? Maybe this correlates with how active they are on their social media platforms.
  • Do they have lots of reviews and higher ratings? See if there is a trend in what their customers are raving about. What do they do that is so outstanding?
  • Are they in the news? What are they up to? Is this anything that you can announce to the media?

2. Get ideas for what not to do

Learning from someone else’s mistakes is an effective way for you to progress. Monitoring your competitors’ marketing campaigns brings in ideas of what works well and what doesn’t. Try going through their website as if you are a customer, to see what they are lacking in that you could use to your advantage.

You can also see if they have any bad reviews and why. Generate leads by offering your solution to their problem.

3. To be one step ahead

After thoroughly examining your competition, you might be bursting with creative ideas to take you one step further, coming up with ideas nobody else has thought of. Don’t rip off their ideas. Let their ideas inspire you to come up with your own. Better ideas that convert.

Keep in mind that your competitors could be watching you! Set the bar high.

So how do I start checking out my competitors?

We have recently created a free template where you can easily compare your business with your competition. This will provide you with valuable ideas and inspiration that you can use to your advantage.

Download template here

However if you don’t have time to complete this, we can do it for you in detail for just £270.

6 free marketing tools every new business owner should know about

All business owners understand the importance of saving money on expenses, especially start-ups. It’s crucial to effectively market your business. But fortunately there are tonnes of free digital marketing tools that can really have an impact. Listed below are some of our favourites:

  1. Use Buffer for social media management

Buffer is an online social media management tool that will enable you to schedule social media posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Buffer will help you increase your following, engage your audience and build your brand, saving you a lot of time.

The best thing about this tool is that it allows you to connect multiple accounts to one dashboard. You can schedule posts, create campaigns and analyse the outcome of your posts. Buffer’s free plan is great for new businesses who want to grow their social media presence.

  1. Use WordPress for blogging

Blogging is a great way of driving traffic to your website and boosting your credentials. WordPress is a straightforward tool used by millions, with plenty of themes and plugins to choose from to make your Blog unique.

(MORE: 5 benefits of blogging)

  1. Use Canva for easy designing

Having visual content on social media is becoming an increasingly popular form of marketing. From infographics to custom illustrations, visual content is a brilliant way for entrepreneurs to build a professional appearance and gain credibility.

Luckily for most business owners, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use this simple tool. You can create almost anything visual on Canva, from social media images and infographics to flyers and brochures. Its free library of illustrations, templates, fonts and images give you plenty of graphics that you can easily play about with.

  1. Use MailChimp for email marketing

While building your brand on social media platforms is effective, email marketing is vital to the success of most businesses. It allows for a more intimate interaction between you and the consumer by offering you the tools you need to nurture leads. MailChimp is a fantastic free email marketing tool and one of the easiest for new businesses owners to learn.

  1. Use SurveyMonkey for customer feedback

Surveys are a great way to collect consumer information, uncover trends, engage customers and gain tangible insights on your business. SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular free online survey tools, and is incredibly simple. Within just a few minutes, you can create, design and publish your own business survey. Plus you’ll be able to analyse the results.

  1. Use Evernote for organisation

Organisation is crucial when it comes to marketing your business; if you’re able to prioritise and organise your notes, you might not be able to act on opportunities.

Evernote is a tool where you can capture inspiration, ideas and trends, and store them all in one easily accessible place. It can be accessed on your laptop, mobile or tablet, making it the ideal tool for finding and storing content ideas, brainstorming, market research and competitor analyses.

Bonus tip: free stock photo websites

As we previously said, having visual content on social media is becoming an increasingly popular form of marketing. New business owners often get into trouble by using online images that aren’t royalty-free; the use of these can result in a fine. So in a previous article, we created a list of brilliantly free stock photo websites.


marketing plan templateDownload our free Marketing Plan Template

Download this Free Marketing Plan Template to easily keep track of your marketing activities.

Click here for more info and to download.

Five ways to keep your online customers loyal

Attracting new customers costs much more (in fact almost eight times more!) than retaining existing ones, so understanding how to do so can be the difference between business failure and success. Of course, having a great product or service with competitive pricing are fundamental in keeping online customers, but here are five basic pointers aimed at helping you encourage customer loyalty online.

1. Keep your customers informed

Throughout the entire order process, keep your customers up-to-date and informed. A confirmation email, dispatch notification and an accurate delivery day/time are all important.

If any mistakes happen or if there are any delays, ensure the customer is kept informed, then correct it promptly. A discount on their next order could help the situation.

2. Be personal

The web is very impersonal, so take every opportunity to personalise your service. One example could be birthday/event email marketing, creating a customer database with their birthdays, so when it comes to the date you can send a little gift – an offer, discount or freebie.

3. Stay fresh

Change the homepage of your website frequently with fresh offerings and news. This reassures customers that your service will be fresh too, and it’s also helps SEO rankings.

4. Reward your customers

If a customer has used your services for a long time, let them know how much you value them. It can be annoying for loyal customers if first-time buyers are getting an equal or better offer than they are. For the long run, loyalty programmes are great. Especially if the rewards are unique and personal to each customer.

5. Don’t be complacent

Continually review your service by contacting a selection of customers after delivery, to check that they are satisfied. If not, you can resolve any problems and learn from the mistakes made. Also, contacting customers for valuable feedback on your products and services gives you the opportunity to tell them about your other products and services, or perhaps any current offers.


Free Smart goals templateDownload our free SMART Goals Template

Use this simple spreadsheet template to enter your SMART goals and analyse results.

Click here for more info and to download.

SEO is still important for small businesses – here’s why

SEO – three letters that cause mixed feelings for many business owners: some who know and see the benefits, some that want to avoid it at all costs, and some that have had their wrists slapped due to bad SEO practices before. But like, dislike or ignore it, SEO is vital for any business with a website.

Search engine optimisation is something that all business owners should be thinking about today. Because in the future, your natural search engine rankings could massively boost your business.

More brand awareness

If people see your website floating around, you would be surprised at just how many people remember you. The more traffic you get to your website, the more remarketing you can do (putting ads in front of people that have visited your website – on other websites they visit and on the social networks they use). This will increase your company awareness even more. The average prospect needs a whopping eight associations with your business before they become a customer. The more you make yourself available to them, the higher chance you have of getting the results you want. Being seen more, along with your other marketing tools is critical to increasing your long-term customer base.

More customers

If your website is spot on, increasing your traffic will lead to an increase in your customers. If your website doesn’t turn visitors into customers then this is what needs to be your priority, not traffic. But once this is taken care of (which we can help you with by the way!), more traffic results in more customers. So by being high in the rankings for a range of relevant key search terms, your traffic should steadily grow, with people all ready to buy your products or services. 50% of all searches will head to the top three results in Google. This means it is crucial that your business is occupying the top spots.

Some of your competitors WON’T be doing it

Many of your competitors will have old websites which aren’t responsive and mobile friendly. Your industry may have seen the same businesses occupy the top listings in search results, but that can change. Whilst it takes effort and possibly paid help, you can get there and convert their customers into becoming yours. There are always opportunities to explore and get more business from in regards to natural rankings.

Less reliant on budget

As the name suggests, pay per click costs money each time someone clicks on your advert. If you have 50 visitors, you pay 50 times. Whereas if you have 50 visitors from natural results, technically you aren’t paying per visit, just the effort and time it has taken to get you there. SEO is less budget reliant than PPC. Your SEO campaign should help you to improve your range of keywords meaning you aren’t so restricted in terms of a monthly budget.

SEO isn’t entirely cheaper than PPC as it does depend on how much you invest in each. But in general it should work out far less budget restrictive in the long run than your paid campaigns might be.

Increased long-term return on investment

There is no increased cost with more people searching for something through natural search results and landing on your website, unlike PPC where you still have to pay for each visit. This means in terms of a long-term return on investment, SEO will always be the more cost effective way to go. As discussed, because SEO is your long-term goal, it might cost you more in the first year than other online marketing strategies, but if your SEO is good and the results are effective, it will provide one of the more effective return on investments you will ever see from a marketing perspective.

So how can you start improving your SEO? Take a look at our 8 simple ways.


content marketing calendarDownload our free Content Marketing Calendar

Use this template to create a full schedule of activities for marketing your business over the next 3 months.

Click here for more info and to download.