, ,

Marketing that Works

Marketing that works is one of a series of free workshops hosted by StartMyBiz and GrowMyBiz, aimed at helping to support local businesses. These events benefit start-ups who will learn to set up and implement marketing that brings them their first customers and established businesses who want to improve the effectiveness of their marketing.  Julie Waller and Gerard Jakimavicius who offer the workshops are experienced trainers and run the workshops in a relaxed informal manner making people feel at ease so they get the most out of the day.


StartMyBiz Workshops

Question: “Is my business robust and is it right for me?”

Answer: Find out at many of the upcoming and FREE StartMyBiz workshops

Keep an eye out in our forthcoming events section:

Get connected now to access advice, build contacts, find information on upcoming events and further support. Don’t miss out on these great opportunities!

For more information email or phone 01227 862 262

, ,

How to Get Funding to Grow Your Rural Business

The Rural Development Programme for England


If you are a rural businesses owner, farmer, forester, grower or landowner in Kent wishing to develop a new project that will strengthen and develop your enterprise, then you’ll be pleased to know that you may be eligible for grant funding under The Rural Development Programme for England.

Kent was previously covered by two Leaders:  West Kent Leader, and Kent Downs and Marshes Leader, but in the new round of funding, Kent has obtained a new East Kent leader group, meaning that now 97% of rural Kent can benefit from this great Programme.

Eligibility under the Kent Leader Programmes

Funding is available in the following geographical areas:

  • East Kent Leader will cover the rural areas of Thanet, Canterbury, Dover, Swale (East of and including Faversham) and Shepway (north of the Romney marshes).
  • West Kent Leader covers the rural areas of Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, and part of rural Gravesham.
  • Kent Downs and Marshes Leader will cover the rural areas of Ashford, Maidstone, Medway, Swale (west of Faversham), and the Romney Marshes.

These areas are based on economic coherence and existing partnerships rather than administrative boundaries.

Programme Priorities

Funding is available to rural businesses, farmers, foresters, growers and landowners, to develop projects that will assist, strengthen and develop their businesses and the local area.

Your project should focus on Jobs and Growth and fall within at least one of the 6 main programme priorities:

  • Increasing Farm Productivity
  • Micro and Small Enterprises and Farm Diversification
  • Increasing Forestry Production
  • Provision of Rural Services
  • Cultural and Heritage Activity
  • Rural Tourism

If you are about to embark on a growth project that fits this criteria and you would like to find out if you are eligible for funding then you can contact the Rural Leader Programme in your area as follows:

East Kent Leader: Huw Jarvis, Programme Manager, 03000 417 104

West Kent Leader: Caroline Lingham,  01732 227282

Kent Downs and Marshes Leader: Huw Jarvis,  01622 696940

This is a wonderful opportunity for you to obtain funding to help you realise your growth plans and benefit not only your business and yourself, but also the wider rural area in which you live.

For updates about great business events, funding advice and invaluable business tips you can also follow @StartMy_Biz or @GrowMyBiz on Twitter and Facebook.

Why small retailers shouldn’t rush to adopt Apple Pay

Apple Pay’s UK launch generated a lot of buzz for the 250,000 retailers and the banks who would support it.

But little, if anything, was said about how this new payment option will impact smaller independent retailers – nor how they might use the technology to drive growth. While there is an opportunity to scale and capture the increase in mobile shopping, it doesn’t lie completely in the Apple basket. Here’s why:


Adoption across the pond
First, let’s look at US consumer adoption of Apple Pay 10 months in. Research by US consultancy Gallop found only 21% of iPhone 6 owners used their device to process their Apple Pay transactions – and according to, 60% forgot about the service after using it for the first time.
Here in the UK, Apple Pay is expected to enjoy a more rapid adoption because we’re much further along in the use of near field communication (NFC) and contactless payment. But you can’t assume every retailer is using the right hardware – known within the industry as a standard payment encryption device – to support NFC. If not, an upgrade will be needed.

There’s also a disparity between Apple Pay in-store and Apple Pay online.

Shopify is popular among independent retailers, with its software allowing them to set up an e-commerce storefront to process online sales, manage inventory/product listings and process payments – including Apple Pay. Currently the hardware and credit card readers Shopify supplies to stores don’t accept Apple Pay – but this is set to change.


Limits on spend
The £20 cap for contactless transactions – due to rise to £30 in September – is another hurdle to be cleared. Limiting consumer spending to some drinks in a pub or a latte at their local café will also lessen the adoption and usage numbers.

But to accept higher-value payments, retailers will need to spend money and invest in terminals enabled with Consumer Device Cardholder Verification Method (CDCVM) technology. This adds an extra layer of security in processing mobile payments – and as it’s supported by payment card networks, it removes merchants’ liability for fraud when used for Apple Pay transactions.

Combined, these challenges emphasise why independent retailers should focus less on supporting Apple Pay and more on their overall mobile strategy.
Prioritising the mobile experience
With global mobile commerce predicted to reach $298bn (£191bn) next year – and more than doubling to $626bn by 2018 – the key challenge for retailers is ensuring the shopping experience they’re offering is designed with mobile phone users in mind.

The traditional mobile shopping experience usually involves taking a typical online store viewed on a laptop and then cramming it into a small screen. This simply doesn’t work.

A mobile-friendly designed m-commerce site is essential, as is a smooth checkout process. Requiring mobile shoppers to enter sensitive information like credit card numbers onto multiple forms on multiple screens isn’t popular with consumers.

This is where mobile payment solutions like Apple Pay, PayPal, and Google’s Android Pay come into the picture. The secure, single-touch pay button provides an easier mobile web checkout – and new software enables retailers to integrate single-touch mobile payment capabilities into their mobile apps.

Fewer taps and screens means more increased sales.

Looking down the road, Apple will begin supporting the addition of merchant’s loyalty cards to a user’s Apple Wallet – and it’ll also be available from Google’s Android Pay when it comes to the UK.

In the US, vertical markets like travel and hospitality have enthusiastically embraced new mobile capabilities. For example Marriott Hotels enables guests to use Apple Pay for check-in to bypass the lobby line – or to instantly pay for dinners and drinks by the pool (the US isn’t restricted by a contactless spend cap). Others are rolling out mobile phone keyless entry for guests that eliminates the lost-card scenario and appeals to the mobile centric millennial generation.

The key point for retailers to take in is that consumers use different mobile devices, have different shopping habits and choose different ways to spend their money. They need to support mobile payments across all device types, not just Apple Pay, to achieve a greater opportunity for increased sales.

Aligning the scale of their business to the growing demands of today’s mobile centric shopper will greatly impact their competitive edge and ability to stay ahead of the digital curve.

The 9 Growing Pains Entrepreneurs Need to Overcome

If you’re looking for a glamorous lifestyle, don’t choose an entrepreneurial career path. While the rewards can be lucrative, the beginning stages are almost always littered with challenges and growing pains. This is especially true when attempting to push a startup past the initial launch, as you’ll face a number of growing pains.

Here are nine major ones:

1. Getting overwhelmed by growth
For entrepreneurs with successful ideas or startups, there’s always pressure to grow and expand: t’s just the mindset of 21st century entrepreneurs. You come up with an idea, you launch it and you grow it. Most entrepreneurs want the biggest enterprise they can build — and they want it as quickly as possible.

While there’s nothing wrong with growth, you have to be careful with how and when you pursue it. As contributor Robert Kiyosaki writes, “Just because you’re successful building a small business doesn’t mean you’ll be successful building a big business.” In other words, some entrepreneurs and businesses are better suited for smaller scale operation.

Every entrepreneur will eventually have to deal with the growing pains of expansion, and it’s up to you to determine whether or not it’s the right time to push forward. How you deal with this growing pain may determine the future success of your business.

2. Learning to say no
Saying no isn’t natural for most people. Humans are innately born with a desire to satisfy others. We prefer to say yes. However, successful entrepreneurs have to love the word “no.” In fact, you’ll need to say no more than you say yes.

You may never get to a point where you’re comfortable saying no, but you have to do it anyways. Otherwise, you’ll end up compromising your business at the expense of making people happy. It’s an uncomfortable growing pain but one that must be dealt with, nonetheless.

3.Transforming into a leader

There is a big difference between being an owner and a leader. A business owner looks at things through a black and white lens. Numbers have to add up, spreadsheets must be organized and people are nothing more than assets. A leader, on the other hand, must have both business intelligence and emotional intelligence.

A leader cares about employees, takes their interests and suggestions to heart and makes decisions that benefit employees, customers and the business.

4. Creating a focused vision
Along with that need to become a leader comes the demand for a focused vision. “This is a meaningful vision that you write down and which represents the highest agreement among all the people involved in the new venture,” writes Ken Blanchard, entrepreneur and best-selling author. “It’s where you and the founders of the organization declare who you are, what you’re up to and why it matters.”

While it sounds neat and easy on paper, creating a focused vision is far from easy. If multiple founders are involved, it’s tremendously difficult to get everyone on the same page.

5. Trimming costs and developing a lean environment
Once your startup begins to grow, you have to find a way to trim costs and develop a lean environment that takes expenses and profit margin seriously. It’s never easy to make changes when something is already “working,” but you will have to if you want your business to experience long-term growth.

To read the full article click here.

5 Alternative Locations to Get Work Done

Being an entrepreneur can mean long days at the office sitting behind your desk. This can contribute to mental stress, and sitting for long periods of time just isn’t good for your health.

The solution? Get out of the office once in a while and ease the stress of being cooped up in the office all day. If you work from home (I did this for years) you will be amazed how much more productive you can be going somewhere else even if it’s just for a few hours!

The amount of technology that we have at our disposal as entrepreneurs makes it possible to run our businesses from remote locations, and an increasing number of companies are now allowing their employees to work remotely one day a week. Thinking about working remotely? Here are five creative locations that you can run your business from.


1. Coffee houses

Your friends and family probably already assume you work from Starbucks every day, because that’s what entrepreneurs do, right? All joking aside, coffee shops can be a great remote location to work from. While they can be quite noisy and full of distractions, they are a great place to head to when you need a quick break from the office and a caffeine refill, of course.

If I need to get out of the office I’ll head to a coffee shop and handle tasks such as answering emails and putting together to-do lists while having a cup of joe. Even if something urgent comes up while I am out of the office, I can handle it from a coffee shop if needed.


2. Co-working spaces

Working remotely from a co-working space has two significant benefits. First, you get out of the office and surround yourself with new people, which can be a breath of fresh air at times. Second, you surround yourself with other like-minded entrepreneurs — this can spark inspiration and even breed business connections and relationships.

There are co-working spaces popping up all over, so there is a very good chance there is one very close by to your location. While many do offer private offices, I would recommend joining and getting the general membership, allowing you to work from the common areas. Take a day to go check out the local options in your area — you just might find your next go-to remote location. This was what I did before “upgrading” to a private office once I started hiring employees.


Click here for the rest of the article.


Campaign Films – How Movies Can Be Worth More Than A Million Words

Anton French is a self-employed film maker and Brighton Film School alumni, who runs his two film production companies, Curious Films and Campaign Films, from his home in Kent. Curious Films makes films for and with the local community and other arts professionals, Campaign Films is an independent production company that creates promotional films and other commercial work for businesses, local authorities and charities, supporting people of all ages and abilities in the community.

Research, Script, Lights, Camera, Action

Anton discovered his passion for film while working as an advertising account manager. He began to realise that he no longer wanted to administer other people’s work; he wanted to unleash his own artistic capabilities and create his own films! His highly-experienced team includes a BAFTA award winning writer; a business strategist with expertise in disability, community, local authority and health; and a marketing and research expert with a keen interest in philosophy. Their creative talents combine to enable them to create excellent, broadcast-standard, high-definition films with the right cast and location and great catering, even for clients on a low budget.

Anton and his team always go the extra mile to provide a great customer experience, developing the full potential of their clients’ campaign films by thoroughly researching their target audience and ensuring that the creative piece will engage the right people, in the right place, at the right time. For both promotional and informational films Campaign Films creates imaginative, innovative and accurate scripts in-house and works closely with every client to develop their ideas for the screen. As a local businessman himself Anton says he, “Understands the needs of local businesses. Whether you’re just starting out in a new venture or if you’re established and looking to expand, your potential clients need to find you and engage with you. Film allows you to grab the attention of your clients straight away and to involve them in a way that a body of text just can’t accomplish.”

Creative Gifts

As a hugely creative person Anton admits that one of the hardest aspects of being an entrepreneur is that he is not financially motivated and only wants to make money so that he can continue to produce excellent work that his clients love.  There is also a fair amount of competition locally. This is true for a lot of creative professionals and the key to success lies in forging relationships with clients who offer interesting opportunities and value your unique creative gifts and working on your motivation and self-discipline. Business workshops and regularly seeing a mentor are great for keeping a strong business focus.

Growth Planning

Anton first heard of GrowMyBiz by word-of-mouth through a client. He says that the Project has provided him with invaluable information about business support groups in the area and connected him to people who have helped him make decisions on how to grow Campaign Films. He says of the Project “It has been inspiring find out that Canterbury City Council is focused on growing the business community through helping individuals such as myself. It has certainly helped grow my confidence too. I have also been able to develop the marketing for the business further due to the contacts GrowMyBiz has given me –  it’s an excellent advisory service that is readily accessible.”

If pictures say a thousand words, then films say a million more! Film is proven to be the most popular and successful form of online communication that gets the highest engagement and most social media shares, so take a look at Anton’s website here and give him a call to see what he can create for your business.

The three biggest mistakes you are making in your business blog

If you’re looking to create a more profitable business, starting a blog can be a smart move. With the right approach it can help you build influence, strengthen your relationship with clients and attract new ones. Go about it the wrong way, and it can drain your time and resources.

Here’s some of the most common mistakes business owners make with blogs – and how to avoid them:

1. Navel gazing
Not every prospective customer has the need – or the budget – to buy from you right now. But if you create useful content that solves peoples’ problems or makes their life easier in some way when they do have a need, they’ll immediately think of you. This approach is often referred to as content marketing.

But too many business owners miss the point. Instead of creating helpful content for prospective clients, they create long, rambling posts about their latest product line or the local business award they were nominated for. Then they wonder why no one is visiting their site.

If you want people to read your blog and keep coming back, don’t tell them how brilliant you are – show them. The easiest way to do this is to teach them something.

So if you sell cake decoration supplies, create a series of blogposts on how to decorate children’s birthday cakes. If you own a garden office company, produce a guide to getting planning permission for detached buildings. Run an accountancy firm? Try sharing money-saving tips or advice on negotiating new tax rules.

While giving away free advice might seem counterintuitive, it really does work. Although I give lots of free advice on my own blog, people still buy my training and consultancy. In fact, several clients have said that the reason they hired me was because they’d got to know me and my work through my blog.

My experience is borne out by research, which consistently shows that most people need between seven and 13 interactions with a company before they buy. Sharing useful content, via a blog, is an effective way to keep prospective clients warm until they’re ready to do business with you.


Click here for more information.

How to fall back in love with your business


Are the day-to-day frustrations of financial planning and running a small business putting paid to the honeymoon period? We shed light on some ways to rekindle the passion..

Let’s set the scene: when you started your business there were fireworks, dreams of a bright future and endless promises of commitment. The honeymoon period might have lasted months, years even, but after a while it started to fizzle out. Before long the business had become a chore, taken up with dealing with the day-to-day banalities: profit and loss statements, inventories, pay runs and financial planning – it’s enough to turn any relationship sour.

It’s a story that’s familiar to many small business owners. Though it starts with passion and desire, the reality of running a business has a way of dousing the flames. So what can you do to bring the magic back? Let’s explore some options:
Take a break?
While a brief hiatus from the finances might be tempting, sadly it won’t work for your business. Comprehensive bookkeeping is a legal commitment, and something HMRC won’t be pleased about you overlooking, even for a moment. You shouldn’t view it as a negative – staying on top of your finances has its own rewards. It provides a better awareness of your company’s big picture, highlights strengths and weaknesses you can respond to, and can prove a stepping stone for growth. So this is one you’ll have to stick at.
Involve a third party
Sometimes, if you’re ready to move to the next stage, involving someone new can do wonders for your relationship with your business. Thought about employing a bookkeeper? OK, so it’s a big step, but if you have the resources this is a no-brainer. They’re usually quite flexible, so if you only have a few transactions each month, you won’t need them for more than a few hours. Bookkeepers are much more efficient than an unskilled hand and you’ll be amazed by how much more time you’ll have to do the part of your job you love. They’ll also be well-versed in local legislation so you’re much less likely to end up on the wrong side of compliance. You’ll only ever wish you’d done it sooner.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Get your Innovation Voucher!

Enhance your business growth opportunities!

Develop a new project with the University of Kent and your business could be eligible for a 50% contribution to the cost.

Innovation Vouchers give your business the opportunity to improve growth and performance by tapping into academic knowledge and getting access to specialist facilities and consultancy.

Our dedicated business support team at Kent Innovation & enterprise will assist with applications; making it easy to spend your Innovation Voucher.

Limited funds are available and applications will be assessed as they are received, so contact Kent Innovation & Enterprise on: 01227 827376 or email

Type the link below into your browser to apply for your voucher!