With just a few weeks to go until the Small Business Saturday bus tour kicks off, we’ve been lucky enough to have Michelle Ovens, Director of Small Business Saturday, in the Dropbox London office.
Naturally, conversation quickly turned to the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses and whether they’re getting enough support and advice to grow. For Michelle - someone who’s spent years campaigning for more support for UK small businesses - the future looks optimistic.
With small businesses forecast to contribute £217 billion to the UK economy by 2020, Michelle believes larger organisations and the Government are doing more than ever before to support them. This, paired with the 24/7 nature of mobile and social tools, means small businesses have plenty of opportunities to succeed – they just need to know where to find the right support!
As someone who’s helped get hundreds of small businesses out of the starting blocks, Michelle’s shared her three top tips for growth:
- Find free advice: What small businesses sometimes forget is that there are plenty of organisations offering free advice on starting up, maintaining and growing your business – and most of the time it doesn’t have to cost a penny. Whether you need top tips on making your first hire, or investing in your first office, our Small Business Saturday resources page – which brings together industry advice – is a good place to start.
- Get a mentor: While online resources are a great place to start, the small businesses we’ve worked with say they learn best from each other. Why not find someone who is further down the line than you, more experienced in running a small business, and meet them regularly to discuss some of the challenges you’re facing, and how best to overcome these? If you have a question, or aren’t sure how to do something – let’s say ‘you don’t know how to go about making your first hire’ – having a mentor that has been through this process could be helpful. If you’re unsure where to find one we’ll be offering mentoring services as part of our Small Business Saturday bus tour this year. You can find out when we’ll be in a town near you here.
- Make the most of social media: Lots of small businesses could be doing more with social media, instead viewing it as a one-way street. “I’ve put up a tweet and no one has engaged with it,” – as we know though, nothing happens overnight. To make sure you’re giving yourself access to the biggest audience, why not find out when your weekly ‘Local Area Hour’ takes place on Twitter and get involved?
Rather than pushing special offers or trying to promote your products, start off by trying to initiate conversation with other small businesses about their experiences, and what they’ve learnt from them. It’s free to do, and not just local, often the other businesses involved will share your questions with their followers, meaning you extend your audience.
To find more advice on growing your business, or learn from other small business owners about their experiences growing theirs, click here.