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IS YOUR LOCATION HARMING BUSINESS GROWTH?

Whether you’re an established business searching for a new HQ or are a brand new startup looking to find your feet, the most important thing to remember is location, location, location.

You could have the most unique idea or well-polished business plan, but if you don’t find a location that fits your business model, you’re limiting your potential for success.

‘Serial entrepreneur’ Scott Gallaway has reviewed how location has impacted the success of ‘The Four’ – the world’s largest tech companies, Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. Gallaway suggests that all these companies being founded in San Francisco and Silicon Valley are more than just coincidence – the proximity to some of the best engineering universities in the world has allowed each business to flourish.

But it’s not just household names that can benefit from where they’re based, all businesses need to take into consideration the pros and cons of their location. Below we take a look at the benefits of setting up shop in both big cities and smaller towns and what businesses need to think about when looking for new premises.

 

The benefits of a city-centre location

From London to Los Angeles, major cities are business hubs and the most common areas to establish new startups. With a greater population, higher levels of tourism and dedicated business regions like Manchester’s Media City and the East London Tech City, big cities are attractive locations for many business leaders.

1.     Desirability

One of the major benefits of owning a business in a major city is that it’s a desirable location. More people are likely to pursue careers in well-known cities over smaller towns, as more often than not, cities have more to offer its residents. Whether it’s high-end restaurants, up-and-coming bars, a thriving music scene or a cultural heritage, working and living in a big city offers your employees a fantastic work-life balance.

2.     Deep talent pools

With a higher population comes a much wider net of potential talent to recruit. Although desirability obviously plays a part in attracting talented workers to move to big cities to find exciting employment opportunities, Universities also contribute. Large cities with established universities are producing fresh graduates every year who are eager and ready to dive into the market. This is especially the case in cities that are home to multiple universities.

3.     Networking opportunities

With a higher concentration of businesses clustered in large cities, networking is a much easier endeavour. You are much more likely to grow your professional network in an area with a higher number of companies in your industry. Working in smaller towns simply doesn’t offer networking on the same scale, meaning a significant amount of travel would be needed to experience what city-centre business have on their doorstep.

4.     Greater footfall

With an increase in digitisation and online businesses, footfall isn’t often taken into consideration as much as it once was. However, for certain industries, it can make or break a company. Retail and hospitality industries thrive on a high footfall and choosing a city-centre location promises a constant stream of potential customers that smaller towns can’t compete with.

The benefits of a smaller town location

The other option for a business location is to take advantage of opportunities in smaller towns. Steering away from major cities is a popular choice with startups and first-time business owners, as generally, business parks and industrial estates require significantly lower funding and can often provide a niche service to areas that would otherwise need to travel.

1.     Reduced costs

The best reason for choosing a location outside of cities is that your outgoings will be lower across the board. Business rates, building rent and staff wages are all more cost-effective in smaller towns and can save you a small fortune – essential for small businesses that are just starting out and have limited funding. Business parks, for example, share the cost of communal services such as security, parking and cleaning staff with all the companies within the premises. The cost of living is also much lower than that of city-centre life, helping to attract talent that are looking to keep their living costs to a minimum.

2.     Less competition

For most businesses in cities, they’ll find that a dozen other companies are offering the same product or service. In smaller towns, however, a brick and mortar store will be faced with much less competition. This means you’ll position yourself to gain a higher customer base, if not the lion’s share. Unique businesses with a niche product are the ones who will benefit the most from this aspect, as you’re likely to be the first company of your kind in the area.

3.     Closer community

Although being based in large cities is easier for networking, it’s in smaller towns where you’ll make real connections. Towns are known for their strong sense of community spirit, which gives businesses the chance to capitalise in local areas. As a business owner, you’ll form more close-knit relationships with customers and clients, rather than competing in the dog-eat-dog competition of big city business.

4.     Easier travel

Another problem facing businesses located in city centres is that they can often be difficult for staff to reach. With the morning rush hour and extortionate parking fares to contend with, getting to work in a busy city can cause more than a few headaches. Setting up your business in a smaller town makes travelling much smoother for you and your staff and is almost always free to park on-site. Plus, business parks are usually located within a convenient distance from rail and bus stations, making public transport easier too.

What to consider when choosing your business’ location

Choosing the location of your business is important and needs careful consideration. It’s not always a simple choice whether to choose a major city or a smaller town, so we’ve listed a number of details to think about before committing:

1. Accessibility – It’s not just your staff that need to reach your business, your customers do too. If you’re hard to find and rely on a high footfall, you’re limiting your potential to grow. Suppliers are another thing to think about, as businesses that require frequent deliveries need to make sure they’re easily accessible.

2. Competition –  Gauging the competition in the area is an interesting one, as it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be located near competitors. Restaurants and car dealerships regularly operate in close proximity of similar businesses, as they give customers the chance to compare before purchasing.

If there is too much competition in an area, consider relocating to a more suitable location. On the other hand, if your business offers a new spin on a popular market and you’re confident you can out-perform established companies, choosing to set up shop near competitors is a good way to quickly pick up customers and create a presence.

 

1. Research all costs – You wouldn’t move into a home that you couldn’t afford, so why would you move your business into a building you can’t afford? It’s crucial to make sure you thoroughly research everything that you’ll need to pay to operate in your location of choice. That includes the big costs like rent and business rates, but also smaller, easy to forget fees like whether you and your staff need to pay for parking or if the premises needs a deposit.

2. Skill base in the area – Finding the right talent is a must, and your location plays a big part in this. Depending on your industry, choosing between a major city and smaller town can have an impact in attracting the right people, but choosing which city or town can be just as crucial. East London, for example, is an excellent place to launch a tech startup, whereas Sheffield in the manufacturing capital of the UK.

3. Potential for growth – Even if you find a location that ticks all other boxes, have you considered business growth? As any other business leader, you’ll want your company to do as well as possible, which means expansion could be a real possibility.

Are you looking for a short-term location with plans to move in the future, or are you looking to keep your HQ grounded? If it’s the latter, making sure your premises can accommodate the growth of your business means you won’t need to deal with the costly and time-consuming act of moving your business.

Understand what’s right for your business

John Waddicker from Positive Commercial Finance, an award winning financial broker for businesses says “Finding the right location can make or break your business venture. “Each business has different targets to meet, so choosing the wrong location can seriously harm business growth.”

“Make sure you do your research and come up with an in-depth strategy to find the perfect location. It’s also important to remember that no two businesses are the same – what worked for one company might not be right for you. Whether you want to put down roots in a bustling city or the close-knit community of a smaller town, make your decision based on what gives your business the best chance at success.”

 

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Business

WHY 2020 IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR FS MODERNISATION

Chris McLaughlin is chief product and marketing officer at Nuxeo

 

Few would argue against the notion that the UK financial services (FS) industry is facing many challenges as both a new year and new decade begin. Uncertainty over Brexit, the potential threat from new competitors and Big Tech brands, and rising customer expectations are just some of the challenges facing the sector.

But for every challenge, there is also opportunity. Digital banking paves the way for greater service continuity, making it easier for banks to capture and analyse data (with consumers’ permission), reduced repetition of information collection, and delivering more of what customers want in terms of products and services.

By innovating with richer and more convenient online and mobile banking experiences, and by using technology to deliver smarter and more streamlined backend operations, traditional FS providers can roll out and execute services more cost-efficiently too.

But many FS firms have been restricted in their ability to innovate and realise such opportunities, due to the outdated and inefficient systems and applications to be found in many organisations. However, with many FS workers believing that the challenges the industry face could see their company lose customers in 2020, the time is ripe for FS firms to embrace modernisation.

 

Chris McLaughlin

The 2020 agenda according to UK FS workers

Nuxeo recently surveyed 501 UK FS workers that focused on the challenges, concerns, and opportunities facing the industry. The main 2020 FS industry challenges were Brexit uncertainty; cybersecurity threats and information or data breaches; physical branches closing down; the burden of increasing regulation; competition from Big Tech firms potentially moving into FS; and competition from new challenger banks.

Perhaps of most concern to the industry is the fact that 59% of FS workers in the study felt that these challenges left their organisation vulnerable to losing customers over the next 12 months. But there are signs that FS firms are adapting to the new market reality and embracing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) that can help them modernise and address such challenges.

Almost two-thirds of respondents claimed their organisations are committed to innovation, and more than half (58 per cent) believe that firms which use AI in creative ways make for more attractive employers. 68% of respondents say their organisation is already using AI for content search or is in discussion to do so, and 67% say the same for automating backend processes, suggesting that FS firms are alive to the value that can be achieved.

Transforming customer service delivery is also a key focus for AI ambitions, with more than one-third (34 per cent) of respondents saying their organisation is already trying out AI in this context. Chatbots, often used to improve the customer experience, are being used by one-quarter. Meanwhile, 41 per cent are already using AI-based capabilities for some form of data analysis, suggesting that FS providers are attuned to the need to target their activities more strategically.

 

Smarter management of data, content and information

One of the major threats to productivity is the inability for FS firms to connect and organise all the data they have at their disposal and there is a real need for smarter management of data, content and information. Compared to newer industry market entrants, established banks and FS providers have far richer data going back decades or longer. If institutions could tap into this considerable resource, it could be used to distil invaluable intelligence and insights into consumer trends, product performance, and relative account profitability.

Although organisations have all the underlying information stored within their legacy systems, it is typically very difficult for teams to access, combine and cross-analyse this data. This is because, too often, systems are unconnected, use incompatible data formats and feature considerable data duplication between applications.

In the Nuxeo research, FS providers confirm that, on average, they store information and content across nine different systems. And these systems tend to operate in silos: almost three-quarters of respondents say their organisation’s systems are not fully connected with each other.

System users who need to access information as a regular part of their jobs can be spending up to an hour a day (52 minutes) searching for what they need because it is not readily discoverable. Given that this equates to four hours 20 minutes each week per employee spent looking for information, the total time wasted across an organisation over a year is quite significant.

 

Embarking on a managed journey of modernisation

13 per cent of respondents in Nuxeo’s study believe their organisation’s inability to adopt AI quickly enough is one of the main challenges facing UK FS in 2020, so it’s something that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

But a managed modernisation journey, incorporating wider use of AI, which can help address many of the issues that are so concerning to those that work in FS, is already underway for many. Such modernisation can deliver quick wins, without incurring new risk or detracting from other critical work that needs to be done in 2020 and should be embraced wholeheartedly as the FS industry embarks on the new decade.

 

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Business

WHY MAKING MONEY ON YOUR MOBILE IS EASIER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK

Aaron Brooks, Co-Founder of  Vamp

 

For Millennials and Generation Z, becoming a social media influencer is an increasingly desired career. According to a recent study, 86% of millennials want to use their social platforms to post sponsored content. It comes as no surprise. Getting paid to produce content about the products you love, why wouldn’t you?

It’s more than just a pipe dream too. While marketing used to revolve around big brands, employing big agencies to create ads, technological advancements have created a user generated content boom. Thanks to smartphones, most of us now have a 12 megapixel camera in our pockets. Brands have capitalised on this, launching campaigns that harvest user generated content, asking their customers to share their brand experiences through pictures, videos and reviews.

Social networks have normalised the sharing of content, which has helped propel this movement further. ASOS’ UGC hashtag #AsSeenOnMe has over a million entries on Instagram. Then of course there’s Apple’s incredible ‘Shot on an iPhone’ billboards, which use their user’s images to promote their phones.

Aaron Brooks

Influencer marketing takes this a step further. These social creators produce high-end content and have engaged followings – both a valuable commodities for brands. 93% of marketers now using influencer marketing. So if you’re looking to make your mark as a content creator, there are plenty of opportunities. Don’t be put off if your Instagram following isn’t in the high thousands either. Micro influencers, with their small but highly engaged audiences, have become popular among marketers and this trend will continue to grow in 2020.

Of course, brands want high-quality content to represent their brand, but if you’re keen to kick start your creator career and start making money, a smart phone and a creative eye is a good place to start. If you want to take it further, then follow these three tips for success.

 

Hone your personal brand

Rather than trying to be fashion, art, foodie and travel all in one neat package, find a niche and create a consistent message. The same goes for photography styles. If you want to be the flatlay expert, I’d recommend sticking to that at least 80% of the time.

Finding your niche and making it your hallmark will let people know what they can expect from you. It’ll make you more likely to maintain follower loyalty and help you to stand out from the crowd. Make sure it’s of genuine interest to you. You’ll need enough enthusiasm to post consistently in order to build your authority in that area.

 

Cultivate an engaged following

While a high follower count was once the most prized possession of the influencer community, times have changed. These days if you want the attention of big name brands, not only do you need a beautiful feed, but a highly engaged following. That means people who follow you, spend time with your content and engage with it.

Actively engaging with your existing audience and contributing to the larger Instagram community will help you build relationships on Instagram. This means replying with genuine

comments and pro-actively engaging by offering your own comments on other accounts.

While it might be tempting to take shortcuts by buying fake engagement or followers, it will only sabotage your efforts. Software has become increasingly effective at spotting fakes so chances are, you’ll be found out and blacklisted.

 

Maximise influencer marketing platforms

Once you’ve honed your personal brand and cultivated an engaged following, you can begin making money on your mobile. Rather than waiting for these opportunities to find you, you can take a proactive approach and join an influencer marketing platform.

These technology services connect brands with content creators. Depending on the platform, it may have a database of thousands of pre-vetted influencers who have opted-in to receive content collaboration briefs from brands. You’ll get opportunities delivered direct to your mobile and will be able to choose whether you opt in or not. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to work with brands that truly resonate with you and balance the work around other commitments.

With brands constantly searching for people who boast content creation skills, there are plenty of career opportunities in the influencer space. For those looking to make money in this space, all you will need is a smart phone, passion and creativity to begin carving a career as an influencer.

 

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