Can You Run Your Business From A Sun Lounger?

Category : Blogs

Did you know that 76% of small business owners are forced to, or choose to forgo holidays just so that they can keep their business running smoothly? Whether they don’t have the infrastructure in place to keep things going, or the confidence to leave things for a week. But while there might not feel like a good time to take a holiday when you’re the boss, a little time out is incredibly important and can be very beneficial, both to you and the business. So, how do you enjoy some well-earned R&R, and make sure your business is still ticking along without you?

 

Work On The Business, Not In It 

This is one of the favourite lines from business coaches everywhere, but we’re using it today in a different context. Learning how to spend time working on your business instead of working in it is a natural predecessor to being able to leave the business for a holiday. Working on your business requires you to not be focussed on delivery and client facing, and instead delegate that work, or find ways to manage your workload so that you can have time without those jobs. If you can do this effectively, then you have taken the first big step to giving yourself the space to step away from the business without it all collapsing around you.

 

Adaptation, Delegation & Ownership

If you’re like a lot of business owners, then your approach will probably fall into one of two styles – ‘largely hands-off’ or ‘seriously hands-on’. That’s not uncommon, especially for a micro business. Both of these approaches have their place, but if you’re looking to step away from your business for any length of time. Teaching your employees (and yourself) how to adapt to changes in the market and the business with confidence, knowing how to delegate tasks to employees (before you go away) and giving your employees ownership of their role in the business are all critical to ensuring your business runs smoothly without you. By embracing these three things, you create an empowered and confident workforce that won’t feel the need to come to you with every trivial problem or question that comes their way, This goes for outsourcers too!

 

Get Clarity On Your Processes

When the owner steps away for a holiday, they will often leave an employee or an outsourced assistant in charge of the business. But consider this – how much of your business procedures, policies and general ‘this is how we do things’ information is actually written down? Or is it (more likely) all in your head? A good way to make sure your business can run without you while you relax is getting everything down on paper, and sharing it with the people who will be stepping into your shoes. That’s everything from how salaries are paid to how to get into the email servers, how to manage a client account and where to find forms and paperwork.

Take Advantage Of Technology 

One of the great things about the digital age is that you don’t have to be sitting in front of a computer to keep your social media and marketing efforts going. In fact, no one even needs to know that you’re not working! The technology exists that allows you to pre-plan your marketing activities, and schedule them to happen in the future. Before you go away, carve out some time to pre-write your marketing messages for all the platforms you use. You can then use a tool like Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social to schedule and post social updates automatically during your time away. Automating key tasks like this gives you the confidence to step away from your desk without work piling up while you’re away. Your social media presence will still run like clockwork, your marketing messages will still be delivered, and you can enjoy cocktails on the beach without worrying!

 

At 10-12, this is the kind of topic we discuss in our breakout groups at every meeting. As female entrepreneurs and business owners, we are always looking for ways to support and improve our businesses and each other. If you would like to know more, or to visit us at a meeting, just get in touch (or book your place here). We look forward to seeing you! Now, where did I put that mojito?


10-12 Maidenhead networking

6 Ways You Can Improve Your Networking

For some people, networking comes as naturally as breathing. Sadly, most of us aren’t those people, and networking successfully is something we have to work at. Much more than rocking up somewhere to get coffee, networking is a vital part of our marketing efforts, and something we pay a lot of attention to. But if you’re not a natural networking, it can seem a little tough to work out how to change what you’re doing and get the most out of your networking efforts. So today, we have 6 easy and simple ways you can improve your networking this month and see real results. 

Have A Plan

Let’s go back to basics. Why are you going networking? What is it you’re looking for, and how will you find it? Having a strategy for networking might seem a bit rigid, but in reality it’s a vital part of success. For each event you go to, know what kind of person you want to speak to, and how you plan to find and approach them. It might be that you’re asking for introductions to a certain type of person, or you’re going to a networking group of people in only that industry. Planning out your approach will also keep you more focused when you’re in the room, leading to a better quality experience.

Prepare Your Pitch 

In many networking groups, you will be given the chance to stand up and deliver a pitch to the room. It’s usually short – anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute – which means you need to know exactly what you want to say before it’s your turn to stand up. We see too many people fumble over their words and waste their precious time, in what could be a powerful pitch session. But if you prepare your pitch in advance, you will be able to deliver it more confidently and get your point across in the way you want to. Not only that, but you can look up a specific person you want to be introduced to, and ask if anyone knows them in your pitch. Specific requests often lead to people following up on your behalf, or even knowing the person you’re asking for. It’s an incredibly powerful thing to do, so why not take advantage of it? Remember, specific is terrific!

Speak to Everyone

If you’re attending a regular networking event, it can be all too tempting to fall into speaking to the same people over and over again. And while it’s true that networking is all about building those relationships, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of forging new ones. When you go to an event, try and speak to everyone in the room, if only briefly. Getting bogged down with one or two people can mean you don’t network as freely, and you could miss a crucial introduction. So if someone new walks into the room, or even someone who you haven’t spoken with much, make a point of having a conversation. You never know where it might lead.

Arrange 1-2-1’s 

During the meeting, you don’t have much time to get to know each other. Even in our 10-12 meetings, where we give you 2 5 minute 1-2-1’s, it’s still not really enough time to build that relationship up. So it’s important to arrange to meet people outside of the time pressures of a meeting. 1-2-1’s are where the real business is done – where you can discuss the details of your products and services, and find those sparks of interest or collaboration. But so many people don’t make the time to have them. Even if you just set aside an hour after the meeting to chat with someone over a coffee, you will see your networking improve and your success increase. Honestly, we can’t advocate for 1-2-1’s enough. 

Try New Groups 

There’s nothing like a change of scenery, and that goes for networking as well as life. The sad reality is that if you just stick to one group, eventually you will reach saturation point, and you will get nothing more out of it. To really improve your networking reach, you shouldn’t be afraid to try out lots of different groups. Visit different areas, different networks and even groups who meet at different times of day. You’ll meet a lot more people that way, and widen your network even more. This extra exposure will help to grow your business, your network and your skills quicker than anything else. 

Follow Up!

And finally, don’t forget the follow up! This is the thing we wish we could shout from the rooftops at every single networking event throughout the country. Having a great conversation in the room is one thing, but translating that into business outside the room is another. Too many people assume others will follow up with them, when in reality, you’re both thinking the same thing. So many opportunities are wasted because leads aren’t followed up, emails aren’t sent, LinkedIn requests aren’t issued and phone calls aren’t made. So if you take one thing from this blog, let it be to follow up on all of your conversations in the room!

 

At 10-12, we’ve worked hard to build a culture of community, sharing and learning within our groups. That’s why we offer you 1-2-1’s in the meeting and even break out sessions to discuss business topics and exchange tips. In fact, the points above actually came out of a breakout session at our Reading meeting this month – so these are tips from our members, and ways they feel they could all improve their networking skills. If you’d like to join our community, or just see what 10-12 is like, just get in touch with us today, or book your visit here.


Royal Networking

Royal Networking – Making The Most Of Ascot

It’s that time of year! The hats and fascinators come out and the nice dresses come out of retirement to celebrate Ascot races. People flock by the thousands to visit the races and enjoy a day of sunshine, food, betting and racing. But did you know that Ascot is also a fantastic opportunity for business owners just like you? Not just as an excuse for a day out, but as a genuine opportunity to network and grow your business? In honour of the Ascot races being held this month, we have a few suggestions you can use to make the most of it this year.

 Split The Cost Of a Trip With Your Network 

Ascot tickets can be expensive, especially if you want to go on your own. But one of the things we’ve seen members doing in the past is getting together as a group and splitting the cost of the trip. If you go to a regular networking group, this can be a great way to strengthen those connections and maybe even make some new ones. Put out the invitation to your group for an Ascot or Henley races experience, and together you will be able to get better rates than all of you individually. And because it’s a social event, you will end up getting to know everyone much better, improving the chances of doing business together.

Hold An Ascot Party

If you can’t make the actual races, or just don’t fancy being around all the people, you could use the event as an opportunity to host your own Ascot themed event. Plenty of networking groups will hold their own Ascot themed parties as a way of bringing together their members in a more social setting. In fact, we’re holding one ourselves this month on the 19th. Find yourself a venue (even if it’s your own living room), play the races on a screen and serve afternoon tea. Invite your guests to dress up and bet on the races. You could use this as an opportunity to fund- raise for a local charity and invite other local business owners to join in. Holding an Ascot party is a great way to get a group of business owners in a room, enjoying themselves and the races for less expense.

Booking A Box

Of course, if you’re looking to impress some prospects and sweeten up your network, you could always book an executive box or other hospitality experience at the races. At Royal Ascot, there are a lot of options available for you to really spoil your guests. From executive boxes to a seat in the royal enclosure, fine dining experiences and club membership options, Ascot is a perfect way to treat your best customers and suppliers. As well as saying thank you and giving them a great experience, you’re also hosting your own mini-networking event, giving everyone there the chance to meet new people and expand their business. It might cost you a bit to do, but it can ultimately be worth its weight in gold if you’ve got the network to back it up.

 

At the 10-12 business club, we’re celebrating Royal Ascot this year with our very own ‘day at the races. So if you can’t make the races, why not join us for a fun packed afternoon of informal networking. We will all be dressing in our finest Ascot outfits, watching the races on a wide-screen TV and even enjoying a mini-sweepstake on the winner. We’ll also be serving afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco (because it wouldn’t be Ascot without it!). So come and join us at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club on the 19th of June at 12 pm, and enjoy an afternoon growing your business. For more information, or to book your ticket, just click here.


How Collaboration Can Strengthen Your Business

Category : Blogs , Networking

If you run a small business, you probably already know that it can be lonely sometimes. Isolating, even. Working by yourself has a lot of upsides, but there are downsides too. Luckily, there are some simple, easy ways to combat those downsides, that will not only provide you with companionship, but also a boost in productivity for your business too. Collaboration is proving key to the success of many businesses across the UK, and it could help strengthen your business too. If you’re not sure how, we have 4 reasons for you:

Encourage Innovation

 

Collaboration opens up a wide new range of possibilities for businesses looking to innovate. By working with other business owners, you can discover new ideas, see new ways of solving problems and develop solutions that put you head and shoulders above the competition. It can also be a proving ground for trying new ideas that you perhaps wouldn’t feel confident trying out otherwise. It’s important to take measured risks in business, and collaboration allows space for that to happen. Collaborative working can also open up new ways of thinking, enabling further opportunities and new directions to take in the future.

 

Increase Productivity

 

Working collaboratively can do wonders for the productivity levels of you, and others you’re working with. If you’re working with colleagues, team building or group participation tasks can help identify common goals and build a healthy competition and rapport. If you’re working on your own, then getting together to talk and work collaboratively with other like-minded business owners can leave you feeling energised and ready to get good work done. And by bringing together left and right-brained thinkers, you will be able to come up with new and exciting solutions to your problems, powering you forward.

  

Provides Positive Change

 

Making big changes to the way you operate can be uncomfortable. You have to be willing to disrupt yourself, to change up old patterns and try something new to move forward as a business. Change can make your work processes more efficient, save you money and time, and even improve your own outlook on your work. Collaborating with others will help you do all of this, and better – it will make you excited to do it.

 

Create Partnerships

 

Collaboration also allows you to take advantage of the expertise of others. Working collaboratively means that all parties involved can capitalise on the skills and resources of other people. Cross-skills learning is particularly fruitful in the same way. It helps you to have a broader understanding of other practices and areas of business that you aren’t familiar with, helping build the overall strength of your business. It can even open up the possibility of forming potential partnerships that could bolster your offerings and provide more value to your customers.

 

At 10-12, collaboration is what we’re all about. That’s why our meetings are structured to provide not only networking, but education and the chance for collaboration through presentations and 1-2-1’s during the meeting. And we love seeing our members work and collaborate together on new and exciting projects. For more information, or to get in on the action, just get in touch with the team or book your visit today.


Calculator cost of networking

6 Small Business Tax Breaks You Might Not Know About

Category : Blogs

It’s April, and you know what that means? It’s the end of the tax year! That means that most of you will also have your company end of year coming up as well – since this is the most common time to set it up for. After all, you’re already filling in a bunch of forms (or your accountant is), so adding a few more won’t be too much of a burden. But did you know that there are a number of tax breaks that are available to small businesses like you, that you might not even know about? Well, we’ve collected 6 here for you.

 

R&D Tax Credits

Even if you don’t feel like your business qualified for this tax break, it’s definitely worth looking into. Research and Development (or R&D) tax credits are a valuable government tax relief that rewards UK companies for investing in innovation. Even if your business is running at a loss, you may still be entitled. And because the definition used by HMRC to define innovation is so broad, you don’t need to be in a laboratory kitted out in your lab coat to qualify. If you’re not sure, ask your friendly neighbourhood accountant to check for you.

 

 Annual Investment Allowance

It’s always a good idea to try and make use of your Annual Investment Allowance (or AIA). This will help you claim 100% tax relief on any assets that qualify as machinery and plant in the first year of purchase. However, the criteria for the assets that qualify is quite strict, so you’ll want to check the list before you go spending the money. For example, company cars aren’t on the list. You also need to physically own the assets to qualify – you can’t have them on a lease.

 

The Seed Investment Scheme 

There are a huge number of Government investment schemes you could utilise in your business. The one we recommend is the Seed Investment Scheme (SES). Any business just starting out and looking for additional capital (but doesn’t want to go to a bank) can use this scheme to gain the capital they need. There are also very generous tax breaks given to potential investors in the scheme. So if you’re in your first year of business, it’s a great source of working capital, and if you’re more seasoned, it’s an amazing way to support the local business community – and reduce your tax bill at the same time.

 

Enhanced Capital Allowance

The government, in a bid to promote the use of energy-saving equipment, introduced the Enhanced Capital Allowance (or ECA – they do love their acronyms) to give tax breaks to businesses who made a significant effort to be green. So if you use a car that has low CO2 emissions, water-saving equipment or other products that save energy in your business, then you can take advantage of this nice tax break. This break was formed when the government was in a coalition, and can sometimes be difficult to grasp the details of. So if you aren’t sure, just speak to your accountant.

 

Business Renovation Allowance

If the building your business is planning to use has been empty for more than a year and was previously used in a different capacity, this one’s for you. If you meet the criteria, you are entitled to a 100% tax incentive on any renovations you may carry out on the premises. This is a great option if you’re looking to bring on old warehouse or shop back to life. It doesn’t apply to office space though, sadly.

 

Employment Allowance

Finally, you can also reduce your NICs with the Employment Allowance.  If you employ people, the employment Allowance reduces the amount of National Insurance you have to pay each year by up to £3000. That’s not an insignificant chunk of change. It works by you ‘claiming’ your allowance each month via your businesses’ payroll process as the NIC arise. This basically means that you won’t need to pay NIC until the full £3000 has been used. In some cases, particularly for small businesses, you can completely eliminate your NIC bill as a result. Small foot note though – if your company only have one employee/director, you can’t claim this benefit.

 

Of course, there are many other benefits, schemes and other ways you can more effectively manage your businesses tax affairs. We’re not accountants – we can’t tell you all of them. But what we can do is encourage you to think about how you could manage this year’s taxes a little differently, and maybe even do some good to the community and your business at the same time. For more information, come along to a meeting  and chat to one of our trusted accountants.


10-to-12-business-club presentations

Preparing A Killer Pitch

A lot of things can happen in 60 seconds:

250 babies are born around the world, 1.8 million ‘likes’ are made on Facebook and Americans eat 21,000 slices of pizza. But what can you do in 60 seconds?

In networking circles, you have between 40 and 60 seconds to pitch your business to a room full of potential collaborators, sales people and customers. So what you say in that pitch is really important. Which is why it kills us to see people waste their time with something thrown together at the last minute. So this month, we have a few tips to help you put together a killer pitch for your next networking event.

Actually Prepare!

We see this all too often – people will book on to networking weeks in advance, but when they turn up on the day they make up their pitch on the fly. Now, some people are very good at this – just standing up and speaking about their business in a way that both explains what they do and convinces people to talk to them, in the space of 40 seconds. But more often than not, it’s obvious that they haven’t prepared. So our first tip is simply to actually prepare! You only need spend 5 minutes thinking about what you’re going to say and putting it on paper, and the impact on your pitch will be incredible. Some of our members even prepare them in bulk – sitting down for half an hour at the beginning of each month and writing out a range of pitches, so that if they can’t write a new pitch the day before the event, they can just pull out a pre-prepared one instead.

Focus On Value 

Odds are unless you do something truly, spectacularly unique, most people in the room will at least have a vague knowledge of what you do. So instead of reeling off a laundry list of your services, focus on telling them room how you add value to your customers. What do you do that makes you better than your competitors, and keeps your customers coming back to you time and time again? This gives them all the information they need to go out into the world and sell your business on your behalf, and is a great talking point for those who want to find out even more about what you do. In a world full of commodities, everything is about added value – so what’s yours?

Tell Stories

People connect with stories. They do not connect with lists of services, followed by ‘if I can help let me know’. If you’re in a crowded room full of businesses all pitching, you want to make sure you stand out. And you can do that by telling them a story that will make them remember you. It can be a real story of how you helped a customer, your spin on something you read in the news or even a made up scenario to illustrate a point. But the human brain is designed to lap up stories, and some of the best business pitches are ones that don’t sell, but tell.

Be Specific

If you’re a member at a regular networking event, then after a while everyone is going to know what you do. So instead of just repeating yourself every time, you should alter your pitch so that you can see some benefits. Before each meeting, pick one of your current prospects. Someone you’ve been struggling to get hold of, or who you would just love the opportunity to talk to. Then ask for an introduction to that person in your pitch! It’s not always about the people in the room, but about their own networks and connections as well. Specific pitches are much more likely to result in action, and you never know who knows the person you’re looking for. Honestly, if we had a pound for every time a specific pitch had been met with ‘He’s my next door neighbour!’ we’d be rich. In fact, I attended a networking event just last week where a man asked to speak to a specific woman within an organisation by name. In response, another man in the room stood up and said ‘Yeah, I can introduce you to her. She’s my wife!’.

If you would like to get some more advice about pitching to a room, or would like to try out your new pitching skills on a lovely group of supportive women, then we can help you. Just check out our meetings schedule and come along to one that suits you, or get in touch with us today for more information.


women networking

Why Women’s Networking Works

Category : Blogs , Networking

This February has certainly been important for all the women out there. Not only has it been International Women’s Week, but the 6th of February marked 100 years since women won the right to vote. So in the spirit of women’s empowerment, we wanted to do a post all about women, networking, and women’s networking and why womens networking works!

The Value Of Networking

In today’s ever-growing digital world, customers are becoming more invested in the people they buy from. Gone are the days when the company name mattered – now it’s all about trusting and liking the people you work with. Trusted referrals are almost at the level of currency, and networking is how we build that trust. We asked Issy, 10-12 co-founder and owners of 2 successful businesses, why she thought networking was so important:

“Having worked for myself for over 20 years, the one thing that has always worked for my business is networking. Whether it is in a social or business format, meeting new people is always good for your business. You never know who that person knows or who they could introduce you to that might just help you grow your business. The 10-12 Business Club offers so much more as not every time you network will you gain a sale, so we introduced the breakout sessions, the presentations and the 1-2-1’s from these three interactions I always come away from every meeting having learned something. Each meeting always leaves me feeling highly motivated which is what any good networking event should do.”

You can find out more about Issy, and how she can help you grow your business (with networking, and with a great website) by clicking here.

Networking is now becoming a fundamental development and marketing exercise for many UK businesses. It is one of the single biggest driving forces behind SME growth and has already helped millions of people learn, grow and improve beyond what they could achieve alone. In short, We could rabbit on forever about the benefits, so instead why not just read this blog here.

But Why Only Women?

Now, there are a few different schools of thought on this one, so bear with us. There are some people who believe that women’s only groups are exclusionary by nature and that it is an affront to men’s rights to be included. And on paper, they are absolutely right. But the fact is, women’s spent years being excluded from the world of business, and we have been fighting to level the playing field ever since. And while women’s rights and equality have come a long way, the lack of female representatives at C-suite level just goes to prove the fact that the business world can still be a bit of a boys club. Even now, many mixed networking groups are still dominated by men, which can be incredibly intimidating as a woman starting out in business. It could even affect your confidence and your growth. So women’s networking was created. To give women everywhere a safe space to learn, collaborate and grow their businesses. A place where they can share the common and unique difficulties women’s face in business, and empower each other to succeed without judgment. We’ve talked before about the birth of women’s networking in our blog, here. In fact, Lauren MacPhail, one of the biggest advocates of women-only networking, said of women’s only groups:

 “[women’s groups] allow those new to the industry to meet women in leadership and find mentors to guide them as well as finding new business and partnership opportunities. They help everyone grow.”

At 10-12, we believe in creating these supportive, nurturing environments for all women business owners and future leaders. That’s why we’ve set up our meetings across the South, in the format that we have. So instead of ‘just’ networking, our members can benefit from brainstorming sessions, training and workshops during the meetings, as well as your ordinary networking time. To find out more, or experience it yourself, just click here to arrange your visit. Come give it a try, we know that womens networking works, it just does.


Goal setting

The Importance Of Planning And Goal Setting In Networking

It’s January, which means it’s the time of new beginnings, resolutions and generally planning for a better 2018. But as well as deciding what you want in your personal life, and maybe even in your business life, have you looked at your networking strategy? Looking back on 2017, could you have got more out of your networking groups, or given more back in return? Many people who find networking ineffective for them only do so because they don’t have a goal, or a plan for achieving it, when they walk into a meeting. But networking is just like any other business activity – if you don’t have a plan  for it, you won’t get anywhere. In this month’s blog, we want to talk about goal setting and planning in networking

How Do You Plan For Networking?

Before you get into the detailed planning of the day. You need to set yourself a wider strategy. This involves looking at your business plan and your target market, and choosing the right events to go along to. What networks will be right for your business over the next year? Will they help you achieve your business goals, or will they just eat up your time? It may sound harsh, but time is precious, and if your networking isn’t bringing in results, then it might be time to move on. Look back over the previous year and see which groups delivered a good return on your time and monetary investment, and which didn’t. Of the ones that didn’t, did they fail because the room wasn’t right, or because you didn’t work hard enough with it? Did you neglect your follow up’s from referrals and one to ones, or maybe not send hot seaters when you were absent?

Another big part of the planning is in the preparation for each event. The day before your networking meeting, make sure you have everything you’re going to need. That’s business cards, flyers, any props or samples you might want to use or give out. Most groups will ask you to do a short presentation – around 40 seconds to a minute long. Rather than winging it on the day, prepare what you want to say in advance and write it down – even if it’s just bullet points. Also prepare a series of questions you can ask – things to break the ice and help you learn about the other people in the room. We’ve got a list of great ways to break the ice at networking events here, along with our top networking tips here. On the day, make sure you are clean, dressed properly and well groomed, so that you can make the best possible impression on the people there.

So What Are Your Goals?

Of course, it’s easy enough to say, but how do you decide on your goals for networking, and follow through on them? Our resident business coach and member of the Reading group, Jana Green, has this advice:

You cannot reach goals you don’t have. Success = having a goal.

The very first step towards any success, whether business, personal or networking, is to have a goal. People who master the art of goal setting become very successful because then they apply it continuously throughout their lives towards any activity. When you know your goal, you can work out back all the steps you need to take to achieve it. In business goal setting, focus on how much you want to make, what you want your business to look like and work out what you need to improve. There is a very good chance you need to improve your marketing, sales and money beliefs to do that.

In networking, remember that apart from the socialising, meeting new people and listening to other people’s experiences, your main goal is to find more business. Whether that is through people introducing you to connections who could help you achieve that or finding an actual client. So set yourself a goal of never leaving a networking meeting without making a step forward in your business.

You can find out more about what Jana has to say on her website

So take January as a time to look back over the last years networking and reflect. For some people, the success of networking isn’t just measured in revenue, but in partnerships built up or even in friendships. All of these outcomes are good, but only if they align with your business strategy. At 10-12, we are dedicated to bringing our members not only a chance to connect and network, but to learn and grow in a supportive, all female environment. To find out more about how we can help you grow your business in 2018, get in touch with us or book in as a visitor to one of our meetings.


festive networking tips

Top Festive Networking Tips

Ok, hands up who’s already put their Christmas tree up?

*  raises hand *

I thought so. There’s just something infectious and cheerful about the Christmas season few ca resist. And as the year draws to a close, we start to look back on the year and remember all those people who have helped us make it a success. If you’re an avid networker, many of those people will be fellow business owners who frequent the same events as you. So this year, why not show them how much you appreciate their support, and make the most of the Christmas season, with our festive networking tips.

Steer Away From Work Talk 

While the idea behind networking might be all about generating business, the real value has always been in building relationships. So if you’ve spent 11 months talking about business, customers and strategic alliances, take December to do something different. Whether you’re at a Christmas networking event or your groups Christmas meal, get to know the people around you on a personal level. Talk about your families, what you’re doing for Christmas, your hobbies. By spending the time getting to know the people behind the business, you are building stronger relationships based on mutual like and trust – a key essential to successful networking!

Don’t Drink Too Much 

Particularly when it comes to December, many networking events will bring out mulled wine and minced pies for their final meeting. This is a great way to get people chatting, reward them for coming along and start a lot of great conversations. But they are also a bit of a risk. Christmas dinners or free drinks can spell disaster for anyone who tends on a bit overboard, or just doesn’t keep track of what they’re drinking. No one enjoys watching someone humiliate themselves after one too many drinks, and it will do a lot to harm your professional reputation. So, if there is alcohol available at your event, just be sensible with it.

Work The Room

It’s all too easy to get sucked into a conversation with the first person you see, and suddenly realise the whole event has gone by. Festive meetings are usually a lot busier than usual, so use the opportunity to work the room and talk to everyone. Try and find people you haven’t met yet, or had more than a brief ‘hello’, and get to know them a bit more. Don’t end up as a conversation hog – it’s not good for you or the person you’re monopolising!

Relax! 

Above all, relax! Christmas is a time for fun, laughter and wine. (But maybe not too much of the latter, as we explained earlier). Festive networking is often the time that even the most staunchly professional let their hair down a bit and unwind. So don’t try too hard, and don’t send yourself mad trying to figure out how you can crowbar in a festive joke that also promotes your business (trust me, it rarely ends well). Instead, just focus on relaxing, chatting with people and having a good time. After all, it’s what Christmas is for!

 

At 10-12, we’re all for having a bit of festive fun. It’s why we’re currently gearing up for our annual Christmas lunch, which brings together members from all of our groups in one place for a full Christmas meal. Complete with crackers, secret Santa and, of course, plenty of laughter. If you would like to try out 10-12, December is one of the best months to visit. Just take a look at our meetings and choose one to come along to. We can’t wait to have you!


5 ways to grow your business Organically

5 Ways To Grow Your Business Organically

As an entrepreneur, starting up your new business it can be incredibly exciting. But getting it off the ground can also be equally as difficult. When profits start to appear and you get used to the demands of your business, expansion could be the last thing on your mind. But while it’s important to enjoy your new found success, you may also want to look at growing your business.
When it comes to business growth, it’s important not to do too much too soon. Instead, focusing on growing your business organically will help ensure steady growth and profit, instead of making a huge and uncertain leap into paid growth and falling short. But how can you successfully grow your business organically?

Invest Some Time In Your Online Presence

In the words of Bill Gates, ‘there will be only two kinds of businesses, those with an internet presence, and those with no business at all.’ We are living on the internet of things, so it’s important to make sure you’re online. People turn to the internet for all kinds of information, and you want to be there to provide it.  Even if you’re running a one-man business, it’s worth investing some time in your online presence. Get yourself a website and make sure it is optimised properly so that people can find you online easily. Use social media to regularly interact with customers, prospects and other businesses.

Network Like Your Life Depends On It

One of the things that helps many businesses stride from start-up into small and even medium sized businesses is networking. Getting your face out there, meeting local business owners and building relationships is crucial for any successful growing business. There are a lot of different options for networking out there, and the best way to find one that’s right for you is to try some out! For example, if you want a very laid back and casual approach to nurture ongoing relationships gently, you could try Business Biscotti. If you’re looking for something structured, aimed at accelerating growth quickly with structure, and are prepared to commit to an early morning weekly meeting there’s BNI. Or if you’re looking for a supportive group of women who can help you and your business grow at a pace that suits you, there are groups like 10-12 Business Club. The trick to getting networking to effectively grow your business is finding a group you like, that works for you and your business type. So try out every group you can find, then dedicate yourselves to the ones that work.

Keep An Eye On Your Cash Flow

The saying ‘you have to spend money to make money’ might hold some weight, but small businesses still need to keep a close watch on their spending. Businesses will typically calculate their cash flow based on what’s left over after all of their essential expenses are paid and non-cash items are adjusted on the net income. When you start to think about business decisions from a free cash flow perspective, new growth opportunities become more apparent. But if you start to lose sight of your cash flow, you may find yourself making big capital investments with large depreciation costs that provide little long-term value, and you can get into trouble.

Build Key Relationships

Relationships are one of the most important things to any growing business, and spending some time building and nurturing them can be worth its weight in gold. Whether it’s with your suppliers or with new customers, those relationships are critical. You should also look at making connections with other businesses in the area that could grow into partnerships. So, for example, if you provide a marketing service, you might want to build some key relationships with specialist service providers, such as social media gurus, bloggers or SEO specialists. Make sure you are spending time helping the relationships you do have, and the return will be huge.

At 10-12, we are all about helping business owners connect and build their businesses together. All of our members are dedicated to not only making connections but building giving as much help and support as they can to other business owners on the road to growth. If you are interested in trying out a new networking group and joining a network of supportive, successful business owners focussed on growth, just get in touch with us today, or arrange to visit one of our groups.