The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Member Blog: Brexit – how could it affect Britain’s SMEs?

By Paul Burke, Managing Director of Davenham Asset Finance

As Managing Director of Davenham Asset Finance, it’s my job to keep an eye on what’s going on in the market that may affect our customers and clients, who are essentially end users of our finance services through broker introductions, made up of SMEs across the UK. A very hot topic in the news right now that seems to have divided opinions is the EU Referendum, and in particular the ‘out’ viewpoint which also goes by the abbreviation Brexit.

With the Treasury stating that the country would be worse off leaving the EU; economists overwhelmingly believing that leaving the EU is bad for Britain’s economic prospects and the Justice Minister saying the EU prevents Britain from being able to choose who makes critical decisions, it is clear that no two opinions are the same. With the referendum due to happen on June 23rd this year, there’s not much time left for business owners to make up their minds.

So, we have been looking at a number of leading industry forums such as Zurich Financial Services, The Financial Times, and more, to find out what they have to say and have summarised their points below to help you gain a better financial and economical understanding of the effects that the Brexit may have on businesses.

According to a study of more than 1,000 SME decision-makers by Zurich, British businesses are still torn on Europe, with 49% of those surveyed saying they would vote to remain in the EU. However, up here in the North West of England, small business owners seem more positive on remaining in the EU, with 58% backing the ‘in’ campaign.

How would it affect finance for SMEs?

Although the EU does have some SME financing programmes which would no longer be available should Britain leave, these have not had a large impact on SME lending and the UK government could use the increased financial leeway it would have to put similar schemes into place.

A large majority of SMEs in the UK export to the EU – a trend which is unlikely to change as selling to distant markets is even more challenging for SMEs. It is likely that small business owners will face greater costs when trading with the EU, as SMEs currently benefit from EU directives, and these factors would reduce profitability and make borrowing more difficult for small businesses.

However, leaving the EU might have a long-term impact on the availability of finance stemming from the large external current account deficit the UK has been running, as being a member of the EU makes the UK more creditworthy. This may lead to UK borrowers having to pay a somewhat higher price for credit, with most observers agreeing that the problem is manageable, but the outcome really depends on which future relationship Britain negotiates with the EU.

Could it have an economic impact for small businesses?

Economic growth seems to be a key concern among British SMEs, with 42% of those surveyed stating that the ‘Brexit’ would have a negative effect on the UK economy within the next five years, and only 1/5 of SME decision-makers believe that there would be a positive effect on the UK’s economy.

In general, it seems that economists are wary of transitions, fearing that heightened uncertainty over Britain’s relationships with other countries will damage confidence and in turn, investment, particularly as Britain is exporting around £19billion of financial services each year. If the exit negotiations are favourable, the GDP could rise by 1.6%, but should the agreement be less favourable, it could cost the economy -2.2% per GDP. However, costs to businesses such as pensions will see little change, because they are influenced by the global market and should not affect the UK SME economy.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, but hopefully this blog and insights from the industry has given you a better understanding of the potential changes and affects they may have on your business. So, are you leaning towards in or out? Let us know on Twitter @DavAssetFinance using #StrongerIn or #Brexit.

For further information on industry viewpoints, follow the links below:

Friday, 13 May 2016

Member Blog: 3 of the Best Ways to Share Your Presentations on Social Media

By Richard Barnes, Founder and Creative Director at Buffalo7

Do you think your presentations are brilliant? Do you carefully craft your content into a powerful narrative and labour over every PowerPoint design decision? Then you probably share a frustration that after all that time and effort spent perfecting a deck, its audience is limited to those in the room at the time of delivery.

With all the visual content and social sharing tools available, it’s now easier than ever to get your slides working harder to disseminate your message. The experts at PowerPoint design agency Buffalo7 have put together 3 key social media sharing tips for getting a higher ROI from your presentations.

1.) Upload it to SlideShare

SlideShare is a free presentation hosting service that’s used frequently in the business community for sharing knowledge and insights – being especially popular among marketing and communications professionals.

To get started, simply sign up for an account and hit the Upload button. You can then select presentation files from your computer for publishing on SlideShare.

Once your presentation’s loaded on, write an attention-grabbing, SEO-friendly title and description, then tag it with the appropriate subject categories to aid discoverability.

With your presentation hosted on SlideShare, you can easily include it in blog posts using the HTML embed code and share it like crazy on your social channels with just a URL.

Bear in mind that SlideShare is best suited to 4:3 resolution presentations (16:9 decks will suffer some cropping). If your presentation contains custom fonts, it’s also a good idea to save it as a PDF before uploading to make sure styles are preserved during the conversion process.

2.) Convert Slides into Standalone Visuals

This might not have occurred to you straight away, but each slide in your deck is an individual visual asset that is useful in your greater communication efforts.

Probably not every slide in your presentation will work as a distinct image, but hopefully there’s a significant amount of slickly designed slides in your deck that contain complete, concise messages.

And converting your slides to individual images is easy! Just go to File > Save As in PowerPoint then select JPEG as the file format and confirm that you wish to export All Slides.

With your slides separated out this way, you can choose the most appropriate ones and post them on social media to drive traffic back to your blog or website. And take advantage of more specialised channels like Instagram and Pinterest, which are focused on visual content.

3.) Convert Your PowerPoint to Video

Don’t panic – this one is easier than you think. Video is now the go-to source of information for many business professionals, making it a perfect medium for sharing your presentation. It’s a great way of increasing engagement and keeping the conversation going around your topic.

If your presentation has a strong design with smooth animations and transitions, it’ll likely become a powerful video asset. And the best part is that you can export your presentation as a video directly from the main PowerPoint window.

To turn your PowerPoint presentation into a video, first record the timing of transitions and narrate your content as necessary. Accomplish this by plugging in a microphone and selecting Record Slide Show from the Slide Show tab in the main ribbon.

Select Start Recording from Beginning and ensure that appropriate options are selected for recording slide timings and narration. Then simply guide through your presentation as you would if delivering it to a face-to-face audience: talk around each slide and move at a natural, appropriate pace.

Once you’re finished, head to File > Export > Create a Video and Use Recorded Timings and Narrations that you just set.

Once the video’s exported successfully, upload it to YouTube and Facebook, write a search-friendly title and description, and start sharing it across social. As with SlideShare, YouTube videos can be embedded with ease: the HTML code for this is located under the video’s Share options.

Buffalo7 is the UK’s leading PowerPoint design agency, creating premium presentations for some of the world’s premier brands. Its recent clients include Sony PlayStation, the Guardian, Unilever, and UEFA Champions League.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Member Blog: Social Media – Do I have to?

By David Wright - BSA Marketing

Listen to some people and you’d think that Social Media is the only game in town when it comes to marketing but hold on a second; let’s just take a deep breath, count to ten and ask the question:
Social Media - Do I have to?

…and the short answer: an emphatic No!

Social Media is just another way of communicating with your market – just another marketing tool – or perhaps more accurately a suite of tools.

Effective marketing needs a strategic plan and part of the planning process is to decide what communication tools you want to use and how you plan to use them.

I’m not going into the detail of marketing planning here, a quick search in our blog or on Google will throw up all sorts of info, but I want to look at some of the considerations you might like to take when deciding about Social Media for your business.

You must be committed.

As with any marketing activity, you must be ready to stick at it. I have heard people say it’s great to use Social Media because it is quick and easy. I disagree. It might be easy to publish content on Twitter or wherever but planning what you want to say and how you want to say it takes thought and time. If you start to use Social Media without a plan, the chances are that the programme will fail.

Think of your audience

Every business has a market that falls into 2 distinct groups:

1. People you know
2. People you don’t know

For people you know, these days you will hopefully have their email addresses so you can communicate with them directly. If you are doing nothing else, you should be keeping in touch with the people you know and building awareness and relationships. Let’s face it, if you don’t keep in touch with the people you know, getting to know new people is a bit of a waste of time unless you happen to be able to do business immediately – which these days is the exception rather than the rule.
My advice is that, if nothing else, focus on your website where you can build an archive of content and then use email as a way of letting contacts know about new content that may be of interest.

Having historic content on your site as well gives visitors the opportunity to browse and this content can also be useful for referral when you are dealing with specific enquiries.

Use Social Media to leverage your comms

The main limitation with what I say above is that if you don’t have an email address, you can’t communicate. Social Media is a great opportunity to leverage your contact with the people you know.

By also engaging with known contacts on Social Media you have the chance to communicate with contacts of contacts.

The downside of this approach is that you can’t know whether there is a fit between your business offering and these ‘second level’ contacts. It is important to consider your choice of Social Media platform(s) carefully (Take a look at this post for more on this) and aim to make your Social Media Joined up with your other marketing (Blog, E-news etc)

So, do I have to?

As with all marketing – and business in general – success normally comes from planning and it is up to you what you include in your plan so, as I started, No, you don’t have to use Social Media…
…But I think you exclude it at your peril!

If you’d like to look at joined-up, integrated Social Media for your business, do contact me at