5 Areas Where Every Business Should Consider Investing

No business can run and grow without a marketing budget. The more your marketing budget will be, the maximum number of people you can reach, and the better will be the growth of your brand. This is one of the reasons why many startups didn’t manage to stay in the market for a longer period of time.

Low budget is not a problem but investing that marketing budget at the right place is very important. This is where most businesses make mistakes. In this article I will discuss how startups can manage to stay online and grow within that limited budget.

Here are few of the areas where you have to invest at an initial stage. This investment is usually worthy because without it, growth is almost nearer to impossible.

Domain Name

No serious business (not even a blog) can live on a free domain. So, you have to go with an initial investment of buying a domain name for your business. Although it’s a $9.99 of an investment but how to choose a domain name for your business is the key.

It is a common misconception that having a keyword in the domain name will help you with SEO but Google and other search engines either do not consider it as a ranking signal or the weight is very low. Before buying a domain name, here are the 12 rules of buying a right domain name that will help you with purchase.

A Good Looking Website

The concept of an online business is incomplete without an elegant looking website. Once you have your desired domain name in hand, it’s time to design a website that features your products and services online.

Planning to develop a website, you have several options available that includes hiring a website developer or to go with CMS systems available online with several hints from powerful HTML tools. Here we are talking about a tight budget so in this case my advice is to go with WordPress as this is most cost effective and don’t require much technical skills.

Having a website is not enough. You have to do something to pull audience to your website and convert them in to leads and business.

Technical Lookup tool

Today having a website is not enough but you should have a website that is appropriate for the targeted audience as well as for search engines. A tool that gives you a quick lookup of all the technical details and what you should do in the website to make it better for the web and a user is important.

There are multiple tools that can help you with that, which includes Moz.com, Raven Tools and a few more. Out of all the tools I believe Search Enabler is the most cost effective tool and do exactly what one needs.

Keyword Research Tool

This, I believe is the most important investment to make when you are in an online world. If you find the right keywords from which audience are finding businesses of your kind, WIN!

Previously there was a Google Adword tool that helps with that but now there are no free tools I know that does the same. So somehow one has to invest on SEMRush. It is a little higher on cost side but will give you an exact idea of how you should go with content marketing and link building.

Once you are done with technical fixes in the website and you also have the targeted keywords in hand the next thing you should be doing is to create content for your website and promote it to the right places that gives you traffic and links.

Link building Tool

Write this phrase in Google and you will literally find tons of tools that can help you with this. But I have to find a tool that can do most of the jobs for you in a limited amount of money.

After going through dozens of tools, I believe the link prospector of Citation lab is the tool that is a perfect fit for any size of business. Tool is cost effective ($2 per credit) and helps you collect all the possible areas where you can get a link i.e Guest Blogging, Directories, Donations and more.

There can be tons of other areas and loads of other tools that can help you with different stuff but, above are the 5 areas where I believe a business of any size should invest and make the most out of all the online channels.

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Small Business Can Partner with Smart Business Show

We are delighted to announce that Small Business Can are partnering with the Smart Business Show to provide readers with exclusive discounts to attend the show and to exhibit. There will also be a Small Business Can dedicated event for readers within the show which we will update you on in due course.

The Smart Business Show is a two day Business to Business exhibition taking place on 22 & 23 April in the RDS, Dublin that will provide you with the opportunity to explore the latest innovative technologies and to engage, connect and do business with exhibitors and thousands of attendees. Visitors will also be able to hear from a rich mix of industry leading speakers and participate in dedicated workshops on a variety of themes.
The two-day event follows the very successful Smart Business Show in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, in 2014, which attracted more than 3,000 attendees, the majority at MD / CEO / director level.

This partnership will provide Small Business Can readers with exclusive discounts to attend the show and also to exhibit.

Small Business Can Reader Discounts

As a Small Business Can reader you can avail of the following special rates to attend the show:

Special Partner Ticket – €15.00 (normally €30.00)

This option allows you entrance to the show, a place at the SBC workshop on SMEs and public tendering which is open to all attendees.

Show-Only Partner Ticket – €10.00

This option allows you to attend the show, but not the SBC workshop.

Click here to book your place

Discounts for Exhibitors

SBC readers can also avail of a 10% discount on exhibition rates, for those interested in exhibiting at the show.

For further information, please click here

 

www.smartbusinessshow.com

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#hackmakethebank:A Serious Commercial Opportunity

We are very excited!

Co-creation and engagement

Just before Xmas we asked you for feedback on the Ulster Bank website as part of getting more businesses involved in helping the bank become the best they can be and create an environment of co-creation and engagement. That was a big success.

Hackathon explained

Now Ulster Bank has now gone even further with the organisation of a hackathon. Liam Moran explains what that means:

Serious commercial opportunity

The magic is about 50 seconds into the video. The intent is to commercialise the ideas from the hackathon that are interesting enough. With Ulster Bank as the first customer.  With the winner getting embedded within Ulster Bank, with access to the Ulster Bank ecosystem, expertise, connections and senior staff. That is an opportunity this is not the be sniffed at.

Other prices

You can also win other prices (drones, cameras, headphones, etc.), but the real prize is the business opportunity.

Sign up

If you are interested, sign up here for Dubin and here for Belfast.

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Want to create a new App or idea that could form the ‘next big service’ for banking?

A ‘hackathon’ is a creative marathon of brainstorming and software creation in which the prototypes of mobile and web applications are quickly ‘hacked’ together by small teams of software engineers, designers and other innovators.

Ulster Bank together with the Open Bank Project invites you to the 8th edition of Hack (Make!) The Bank which will be held from January 30th to February 1st at the NDRC in Dublin and 13 t0 15 February in The Mac in Belfast

Hack (Make!) the Bank is a global series of Fin Tech Hackathons which are dedicated to realising tomorrow’s banking and financial solutions. This hackathon will bring together programmers, designers and members of the financial services industry to debate, design, code and pitch ideas on themes related to the challenges set below.

Sign up here for Dubin and here for Belfast

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Cabana cafe, 47 years of hospitality

Cabana Café

Every week we feature companies that have been successful in accessing funding from Microfinance Ireland.

Microfinance Ireland provides loans to small businesses and startups in every sector up to 25,000 Euro. If you are interested in funding, check out the website www.microfinanceireland.ie

47 years of hospitality

Cabana Café opened in November 2012. They are a husband and wife team who between them have over 47 years’ experience in the hospitality sector. Their ethos is simple; they prepare and cook their food in house, every day. They focus on providing quality service, great food, convenience and value for money to their customers.

Open every day

Whether you are hungry for a hearty meal, a great sandwich or just want a cup of coffee and a homemade sweet, Cabana is open all day every day.

Corporate catering

Not only can you drop in, they do corporate catering as well. They cater for all your meetings, be it breakfast meetings, working lunches, training courses and much, much more. They offer platters made from the finest ingredients and use a variety of artisan breads to make their sandwiches even more appealing. Their catering menus are designed with each customer in mind whether it is dietary requirements, low calorie options or any other needs.

Visit

They are located just off the Kylemore Road, on the Old Naas Road in Dublin 12 and have ample free car parking outside.

You can visit their website http://www.cabana.ie/ or say hi on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thecabanacafe

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Paula Brady, Ulster Bank, triage nurse and referee

We have been working with Ulster Bank for 6 years now. It has always struck us that the perception of bankers from the outside, does not correspond with our experiences. In fact Ulster Bank is filled with cool dudes and dudettes, who have a very interesting stories to tell.

Business manager

So we decided to put them on video. Here is the next in our series, featuring Paula Brady. She works with senior management, helping them to manage their workflow and maximise productivity. She describes it as triage, which is not a bad description.

International soccer referee

Apart from being successful in Ulster Bank, Paula Brady is also a successful international FIFA and UEFA soccer referee. She referees the Irish Premier League, but also Champions League and internationals. She is one of only two women referees in Ireland. A big part of that is fitness and training. Lots of travelling too.

Her business tip

With Paula’s background in refereeing you will not be surprised by her business tip:

 

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Featuring Fiona Kingston, Ulster Bank

We have been working with Ulster Bank for 6 years now. It has always struck us that the perception of bankers from the outside, does not correspond with our experiences. In fact Ulster Bank is filled with cool dudes and dudes, who have a very interesting stories to tell.

Programme director of Business Women Can

So we decided to put them on video. Here is the next in our series, featuring Fiona Kingston of Ulster Bank. The women behind Business Women Can, an initiative that celebrates the success of women led businesses and helps and support women led business. An indication of the success of Fiona and Business Women Can is that from zero the women led category in the Business Achievers Awards is not the most popular category (with a lot of excellent businesses). 

Family, trekking and running

When Fiona is not working for Ulster Bank, she keeps busy with her two boys, her husband and goes out hiking and trekking in county Cork. She runs too, include at least 2 half marathons every year.

The tip for success

When we asked her for her business number tips, she gave us two. 

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This post was originally published here - http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/featuring-fiona-kingston-ulster-bank/ on thinkbusiness

Is Your Small Business Prepared for The International Market?

Expanding your business operations outside the country can improve profits and brand exposure immensely. But taking on a macro-scale leap also holds new challenges that may present road bumps to your projected business path. Small businesses, given their limited working capital, must factor in all possibilities prior going global.

Is Your Working Capital Enough?

To expand, a business must have money for both existing operations and expansion. It should be a no-brainer but many small businesses seem to neglect the right capital amount prior to offering their products or services on the international market. Having sufficient capital allows a business to make mistakes early on without any permanent damages to the business. An under-capitalized business will operate under pressure and thus will most likely fail.

Do You Have The Equipment?

Equipment and machinery are necessary components for expansionary endeavors. Construction firms must have equipped sites at their prospected foreign location in advance. Meanwhile, retail stores must also have the proper facilities and labor forces already set in place in the country they wish to expand in.

Aside from business equipment, moving supplies are also crucial. Look for cost-effective custom crates to make sure your business’ products can be shipped internationally without incurring damages and defects. According to a Toronto custom packaging expert from Pack-All International, custom crates are preferable to mass-produced ones, as the former can be made to suit the unique shipping needs of your product.

Cost vs. Potential Gains

Will it be worth it to expand to that particular market? Do research to find optimal locations and target markets to expand to. If the costs outweigh the potential gains, it may be better to use the capital to further empower local brand influence instead.

Study The Market

Be familiar first with the marketplace you want to go into. Who are the big players? What are the average costs for properties and materials in the area? The more you are familiar with the demographics of the country you wish to do business in, the easier it will be to identify your market and promote your brand.

Cloud Computing Technology

Cloud computing services help you scale with cheaper cost and lower risk. It also makes managing the small business simpler through increase in accessibility and productivity, all while lowering the costs.

Prepare Your Workforce

Your brand must cultivate a culture with consistent values and this goal starts with your workforce. Make sure they understand and embrace the business’ goals and overall missions, irrespective of which branch they are working in. Regular video conferences are a great and inexpensive way to maintain communication with a distant or international workforce.

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Preparing for Christmas with Ulster Bank Business Women Can

The aim of the Ulster Bank Business Women Can network is to enable, connect and support female entrepreneurs and business leaders. Our event on 3rd December did just that, bringing together a wide range of business women to network with each other and learn from the personal experiences of four very successful NI female business leaders. The evening also had a focus on supporting local businesses, with a range of stalls, where female led Ulster Bank customers showcased their business and provided the opportunity for invitees to start their Christmas shopping.

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Cathy Martin, Managing Director of CMPR kicked off the evening, speaking of the importance of networking and how her business has grown from contacts made at the first event she organised for Irish artist Terry Bradley. How opportunities can come from every event you attend and by spending your time wisely, networking can benefit long-term. As the founder of Belfast Fashion Week franchise, Cathy has her finger firmly on the pulse of current trends and shared her fashion tips with the audience; that metallics are big for the 2014 Christmas season and one of her top tips for your Christmas party is to bring a handbag big enough to carry those most needed flats for the way home!

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Following Cathy, Brenda Shankey gave a very heartfelt and down-to-earth talk, of her experiences of running a men’s grooming business with her husband, Jason www.jasonshankey.com. She told of the challenges of investing in people and how by being so personally involved in the business and staff, it impacted her when some people have gone on to set up in competition with their business. Brenda’s message was very much about how to bounce back from difficult times and how the world of business is a continuous learning experience. Brenda ended with some tips on how to go from work – to – party at Christmas and how to achieve that much sought after party hair and make-up look in minutes.

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Petra Wolsey, Marketing Manager of the Beanchor Group, was the third speaker of the evening, speaking of her career from waitressing initially and working her way through the ranks in a Company which hires over 300 people and runs some of the most successful bars and restaurants in Belfast. With over 50% of female representation on the Beanchor payroll, Petra is acutely aware of the importance of flexible working and the benefit of finding working solutions for both employee and management. Petra finished by reminding everyone of the importance of taking some ‘me’ time over the Christmas break and where better to relax than the beautiful spa at the Merchant hotel www.themerchanthotel.com/index.php/spa

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Finishing off the speakers session, Ruth Wilson spoke of how the passion she had for decorating as a young girl who moved house 8 times, has developed into her business, Beaufort Interiors www. beaufortinteriors.co.uk which has seen her design homes for the rich and famous, as well as some royal clients! Ruth had prepared a beautiful display to demonstrate some options for decorating your home for the Christmas season.

Before and after the speakers guests had the opportunity to purchase from an array of products at the ‘UB Christmas fair’ ranging from flowers, gifts and cards, beauty products, jewellery, home made cakes and pastries, fabric goods, prints and chocolate. Check out each of our stall holders at their websites / facebook pages as listed:

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Ulster Bank Continues Support for Women in Business

Sharing experiences and insights can help businesswomen overcome some of the challenges faced when starting, running or managing a business. That was the message to female business leaders and entrepreneurs at an Ulster Bank Business Women Can event held in Belfast.

More than 60 local businesswomen gathered at the bank’s Belfast headquarters for the event, which heard from leading local entrepreneurs, and saw local businesses showcase their wares in a Christmas market format.

Speakers included: Cathy Martin, founder of Belfast Fashion Week and Managing Director of CMPR; Petra Wolsey, Marketing Director at The Beannchor Group; Ruth Wilson, Founder and Managing Director of Beaufort Interiors; and Brenda Shankey Co-Director of Jason Shankey Male Grooming.

Shauna Burns, centre of Ulster Bank, with the speakers: Ruth Wilson, Founder and Managing Director of Beaufort Interiors, Cathy Martin, founder of Belfast Fashion Week, Brenda Shankey Co-Director of Jason Shankey Male Grooming, and Petra Wolsey, Marketing Director at The Beannchor Group.

Shauna Burns, centre of Ulster Bank, with the speakers: Ruth Wilson, Founder and Managing Director of Beaufort Interiors, Cathy Martin, founder of Belfast Fashion Week, Brenda Shankey Co-Director of Jason Shankey Male Grooming, and Petra Wolsey, Marketing Director at The Beannchor Group.

 

Head of Ulster Bank’s Mid Ulster and Fermanagh Business Centre Shauna Burns said that the bank is delighted to support such events, where successful and dynamic business women can share their experiences and insights.

She pointed out Northern Ireland’s largest company, its largest bank, its government department for enterprise, and its Chamber of Commerce, for example, are now all led by women.

And she said that whilst much more needs to be done, there is an increasingly strong support network in place to assist female entrepreneurs and to encourage more female business leaders.

She continues: “There is no doubt that more women in business is a highly positive development for the economy. A recent global entrepreneurship report by the French giant BNP Paribas, for example, found that the average turnover of the primary business of women entrepreneurs, at $9.1 million, is higher, compared to $8.4 million for men. It also found that women entrepreneurs typically launch about 5 businesses compared to 4.3 for their male counterparts.

“Looking at the calibre of businesses represented at our Business Women Can events gives me cause for real optimism in 2015 and beyond,” she adds.

Business Women Can

Ulster Bank’s successful Business Women Can programme provides online and local support, which aims to offer help and understanding on the specific challenges to women starting, running or managing businesses. The programme is run with the support of programme ambassadors throughout the Bank.

Ulster Bank’s Business Women Can ambassadors are trained and focussed on understanding the products, services and practical support tools needed when starting or running a business and are committed to supporting businesswomen across Ireland.

Stallholders at the event

Style Story (www.stylestoryjewellery.com)

Tracey Tsang Fabric Goods

Jason Shankey (www.jasonshankey.com)

Serene Skincare (www.sereneskincare.co.uk)

In Magazine (www.in-magazine.co.uk)

Floral Creations (www.floralcreationscomber.co.uk)

Ann’s Pantry (www.facebook.com/pages/Anns-Pantry)

The Creativity Hub (www.creativityhub.com)

Sheldon Galleries  (www.sheldongalleries.co.uk)

Willow Cards & Gifts (www.thewillowmoira.com)

Chocolate Memories (www.chocolatememories.co.uk)

Barely Cosmetics  (www.barelycosmetics.com)

Delen Skincare

Beaufort Interiors (www.beaufortinteriors.co.uk)

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