Posted: Tue 21st Dec 2021
Ifty Nasir is the founder and CEO of Vestd – a share scheme platform for UK businesses.
He's also an expert Enterprise Nation adviser, and in this blog addresses the topic of maintaining brilliant trading throughout the year.
Early December saw the return of the annual Small Business Saturday celebration. If you happen to be a small business, I hope you had a bumper trading day!
Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small businesses' success and encourages consumers to 'shop local' in their communities.
The day aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses.
With ‘big box’ retailers like the supermarkets and Amazon hoovering up much of our Christmas shopping spend, it’s crucial that people hit the high streets and support their local artisans, retailers and service providers.
Small Business Saturday isn’t just about Christmas shopping. The long view is to drive small business success throughout the year.
This goal made me think about what my personal advice would be to any small business looking to boost its growth and longevity.
For me, I think it’s key that small businesses invest in their teams to strengthen their foundations properly. The best way to do that is by offering a share scheme.
This gets everybody aligned, involved and aiming towards shared goals of long-term success. If you don’t have a team, you can still offer slices of equity to contractors that help you along the way.
This has the same net effect and often means that you can get the help of consultants at a lower rate than normal. Win-win! There’s a handy free guide here for all small business owners.
The best advice usually comes from people who understand your challenges inside out.
With that in mind, I’ve asked a small selection of SME owners for their top tips for surviving and thriving through 2022.
So, whether you’re a baker, a personal trainer or a software provider, I’m sure you’ll find some gold in the comments below...
My top tips would be:
Spend time every day looking for PR opportunities. I use #journorequest on Twitter, the EDITORIELLE email subscription and the LightBulb Press Group on Facebook. I’ve been featured in the Financial Times, Guardian, Radio 4 and more through these channels.
When you’re doing this, lean on your story. That’s what sets you apart from the large competitors. People want to shop with people, not giants. So tell your story!
Ask for help and ask for things for free. There are so many free resources available. Use them!
Embrace being small – you can do things that big corporations can’t. Do things that don’t scale. I used to hand-write every label for my products, for example. You have to do the little things.”
I started my own small business earlier this year and the best advice I can give you to stand out is to get into the press and be consistent with social media. The more you put yourself out there, the more awareness you can drum up about what you do and what you can offer.
Ask yourself what you have that the other big box retailers don’t. Maybe it’s the opportunity to be more personable with your customers so they remember you, or pivot quickly on something that isn’t working to better your product.
We only launched in April, so are much newer than our well-established competitors. But we built our insurance subscription around customers who don’t have insurance as it doesn’t work for them. It’s a new way of insuring your stuff, and people appreciate that flexibility.
Also, don’t be afraid to experiment and ask for feedback. As a smaller company, you might be a lot better acquainted with your customers so you can ask for their insight. That can be invaluable.
“Our top tip would be to find out which platforms your ideal customers are on and create content around their problems.”
A lot of small businesses struggle to attract and retain talent when pitted against the big companies.
My advice would be to engage your team with the mission of the company and share information with them if there are problems such as key staff shortages.
Incentivise staff with a refer-a-friend scheme to fill key gaps. Be creative about when and how certain jobs can be done and use any shortages as an opportunity to bond the existing staff to the organisation by making them feel valued and involved.
Make sure you schedule in some fun activities so that people don't suffer from burnout.
Remember to keep the spirit of #SmallBizSaturday burning all year by supporting your local small business heroes. And if you happen to be a small business owner yourself, do reach out if you could benefit from setting up a share scheme to accelerate your growth through 2022.