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Small Business Bus Tour


By  Victoria Willis

Did not actually take place on a bus, much to my dismay

What is it?

Small Business Saturday is an event which happens once a year.

This year it is due to take place on Saturday the 7th December, but beforehand there is a slightly smaller gathering and is known as the Small Business Bus tour. Anyone who is involved in newly set up, starting out businesses are welcome, and it is an opportunity for communication and growth within the industry.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket, and I decided to record the day’s events and take notes from any speeches given.

What happened on the day?

SBBT banner image

Above: Small Business Saturday banner

The day started at 9:30, where we are all ushered into a comfortable lounge and offered complimentary tea, coffee and croissants. I immediately noticed how relaxed the atmosphere was, and the wide variety of accents in the room. People had travelled from all over Britain for this event in order to represent their business/company. I felt pride at this, as I was there to represent Nuttersons, and despite being the youngest I had just as much right to be there as everyone else.

  • Venue: 3sbbtinstaAbove: Small Business Saturday has many social media accounts, such as an Instagram

After about forty minutes of conversing and exchanging businesses, we were led to the car park.

I expected that by ‘small business bus tour’, we would be physically boarding a bus and maybe driving around Manchester visiting the offices of local businesses. Despite what was implied in the title, the event was actually nothing like my expectations. There was a bus parked up, it was sporting a large map on the side with the logos of involved businesses printed in place of cities , but we did not board it. It was more the concept of the bus that was important.

smallbusinessmanchester

Above: All the small businesses involved in Manchester

We were taken to a warehouse where there were several market stall-like tables set up, each one sporting a different business or brand. I watched, quite fascinated, as one lady set up her table and laid out some homemade and hand decorated biscuits. She also wrote a little menu on a white board, set out nutritional information and more informative leaflets on what it is she does, what she is aiming to do.

A very friendly lady (who unfortunately will have to remain ‘anonymous friendly lady’ as I didn’t catch her name) also approached me, asked about what company I was representing and explained how the day was planned out for us. She told me, as one of the event organisers, that there had been a competition set up which allowed anyone who wished to set up their own business can take part  in and compete for the grand prize, which was to have your business set up and represented officially, all costs taken care of.

mesbs

Above: All of us posing next to the, somehwat misleading, bus

This idea sounded similar to the Apprentice, and she sold it very well but of course I wasn’t there to enter, I was there to represent Nuttersons, learn about the industry and take notes for a future blog post.


First talk – Alex

Alex from Altrincham HQ gave us the first talk of the day. His first point was concerning the fact that his business was based in Altrincham – a small town where most people and companies know each other locally. He then went on to express his positive opinion on the networking and creation of small ‘local’ businesses which truly get to know their clients and grow purely from recommendation and social media.

The majority of his talk was based mainly on social media, and how much of an asset it is to this industry.

He gave us a list of advertising tips for different social media sites. I included a few in a bullet list notes:

Facebook:

  • Facebook has the same appearance and layout as a ‘tabloid’ – and as Alex described it, it doesn’t have the same professional feel to it as other sites do, using the words ‘tacky’ and ‘untidy’.
  • Due to Facebook now charging for companies to use their site for marketing, Facebook is no longer a site that most companies choose to use first, however, it is important to not dismiss it due to its huge amount of users. For example, 2000 likes on Facebook may not seem like a large number anymore, but it is still faster and more efficient than door to door sales.
  • Facebook groups – separates users into more refined audiences, could be easier to target potential clients.

Twitter:

    • The use of hashtags could help in finding local customers or companies. This is an easy online method of broadcasting.
    • The personal feel to Twitter – one on one conversations, generally seen as the only site which allows people to get closer to their favourite celebrities. In this industry, it allows the company to get closer to possible clients, build a relationship with them, and create a more personal feeling to your work. As Alex said exactly – “people like to buy off businesses but they do not like being sold to.”
altHQ

Above: The Twitter page for AltringhamHQ

LinkedIn:

  • Alex explained how he always personally believed (and heard) that LinkedIn was generally viewed as the most “formal”, if you like,  style of showcasing your company, but later changed his opinion as he realised it is simply just another way of getting your company noticed and recognised.The testimonials and recommendations prove the legitimacy of the site and the companies they represent, which is something Facebook certainly lacks, perhaps due to its large number of users.
  • He also commented that it is a particularly good site for recruitment.

Instagram:

  • The most important part about advertising via Instagram is the quality of the photographs.
  • The optimum number of hashtags is 11, otherwise, they look too crowded and become illegible. Using hashtags on Instagram is just as useful as using them on Twitter, as you can find relevant posts under certain tags.
  • The main problem with advertising via Instagram is that it lacks the click link on images, a feature which would make it much easier to access sites and products.

At this point in Alex’s speech, a lady from the audience spoke up about her business, which was selling women’s sportswear, such as leggings, cycling shorts etc. Alex’s advice was to take photographs of good-looking models to help sell her clothing. He admitted it seems vain and unrealistic but truthfully will help catch the eye of potential buyers, as generally an audience are more attracted to appealing models with slim physiques, especially where sportswear is concerned.

Blogging:

Alex expressed his love for blogging, and how he personally feels a blog is an important feature to any site, as not only do you get to advertise your business and demonstrate English skills, but you help build a relationship with your clients by telling them whatever it is they wish to know. Another great feature about blogging is that you can create your blog to be whatever you want, it can be chatty or factual, artistic or serious, include news articles or stories etc.

Alex shared with us that he used to work in journalism, therefore, enjoys blogging very much.

AlrtinghamHQ have their own blog, which, Alex is a big part of. You can see for yourself what a talented writer he is, and how his tips have shaped his own blog to be what it is.

ALTHQCAPTURE

Above: Alex’s proudest words

  • Blogs answer specific questions relevant to the industry – you could type into Google a certain question, such as ‘How does social media help in the world of advertising?’ and find an article with that exact question as the title. Not only will your question be answered but you have now discovered that particular site and it’s blog.
  • Blogging means sharing and communicating, and the process helps you reach out to other companies in the industry.
  • Most companies have a blog, which makes it something companies could compete over within the industry, therefore you should strive to keep yours the best.

Alex understood that some people struggle with writing, and explained that the first introductory paragraph is the hardest to overcome, but once you do, blogging becomes much easier and flows naturally.


Second talk – Lee Parker

Lee Parker was the next spokesperson, and had come from his company Parker Sourcing.

parker sourcing

‘What is the most important quality needed when building a business?’

He began his speech with a very strong but simple question for the audience ‘What is the most important quality needed when building a business?’

In response, he got awareness, enthusiasm and articulation, each equally valid and important, but he then stressed that in his opinion, the most important quality is passion.

He believes passion is what has carried him through many years of working in this industry, it is passion which gives him courage and presence when giving speeches to groups of people.

Lee then went into more depth about himself and his career, rewinding all the way back to 2003  when he graduated from University with a degree in business and economics.

Like most recent graduates he claimed to feel somewhat lost after coming fresh out of Uni, he knew what he wanted to do but wasn’t sure on how to go about it. His first real job placement was in recruitment, a field of work he was never planning on going into, however he stuck it out for four years before realising what he really wanted was to set up his own business. He had a mere £500 to do so – but he did it, and today believes it was because of his passion.

He also believes it was his passion which kept his customers loyal, customers he built relationships with over the years of working as a recruitment consultant who had faith in him starting his own business and followed him.

Since then, Parker Sourcing has continued to grow and has began working internationally. Lee also has something in his business which he wished was available in 2003 – help getting into a career immediately after graduating with the desired qualifications.

Lee comments on how much the Small Business Bus tour means to him – it has opened up lots of opportunities and allowed him to take part in some wonderful events, such as visiting Downing Street and meeting George Osborne. He claims that Small Business Saturday has not not only helped his company grow and clients to increase, but on a more personal level his public speaking skills have improved along with his confidence and marketing skills. Lee also explained he felt he has had a busy career, including struggles and changes which have left him with insightful tips to share with others in his industry – such as his persistence when he found himself working in recruitment for five years.

Whilst ending his speech you could see how, emotional almost, Lee got telling us all how proud he was, how sincerely grateful he was to take part in this event and to be considered as a spokesperson. He is currently a Northwest Business representative, which involves organising events and getting to know and help other small businesses.

This was my first business event I have ever attended – I was completely unsure on what was going to happen, I was even a little bit nervous due to my total inexperience, but it was a surprisingly enjoyable day.

People went there to learn insider tips and communicate. I went there to begin my job properly, and I certainly left feeling significantly more accepted in this industry.

  • Name of event: Small Business Bus Tour
  • Speakers: Alex/ Lee Parker
  • Date: 11th November 2015
  • Location: Hello Work Hub, Quay Street, Old Granada Studios
  • Cost: Free
  • Course content: 3
  • Quality of speakers: 4
  • Audience Interaction: 5
  • Value for money: 5

  Overall Rating: 3.9

This post was tagged with; Digital Marketing, Events, SEO, Small Business Bus Tour, Workshop.
Victoria Willis
This post was brought to you by: Victoria Willis

Victoria started off as one of our youngest nuts, joining us at a mere 16, and fulfilling a blog editing apprenticeship. Youth is generally linked with immaturity and carelessness, but in Victoria’s case she has an eye for precise detail and thoughtfulness, particularly where art and design is concerned. She was originally a college student fumbling through A-level work, before making the bold move to officially become an adult and work full time at Nuttersons. View more articles from Victoria Willis

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