Time Management Skills

Time Management Skills

Time Management Skills For Business Owners

When you’re running a business there’s one thing that you never have enough of – time.  Improving your time management skills will have a significant impact on your productivity, your work life balance and the performance of your business.

Successful people have effective time management strategies to help them achieve their goals.  Here is a list of 10 time management techniques that will help you to get the most from your day.

  1. Take time to plan every day. Half an hour sitting planning your day is time well spent.  Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve not just by the end of each day, but also an objective for each call you make.  This will help you to stay on track and to focus and motivate you throughout the day.
  2. When you plan your day make sure you batch similar tasks together. For example, check your emails and respond to them at certain times throughout the day and deal with them all at once.  Don’t respond to emails and calls when they come in.  Plan your day to deal with them all together.  You will rattle through tasks a lot quicker as you are in the mindset for fulfilling that particular task and won’t need to flit between activities.
  3. Have a default diary. Every week you should have a diary of dealing with certain tasks at particular times.  This can always be referred to when planning out your day and ensures that no tasks throughout the week or month get missed.  If planned correctly this also means that if tasks are in your diary you can forget about them until they come up in your diary freeing up your mind to concentrate on the matter in hand.
  4. Use the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re not familiar with it, the Pomodoro technique is a technique whereby you set a timer for a certain period of time, say 25 minutes and in that amount of time you do nothing but concentrate on the task in hand and do not accept any interruptions.  At the end of the allotted time you can have a short break for say 5 minutes where you could grab a drink, a healthy snack or maybe check your social media, and then get back in to the next batch of time.  There are a number of free online timers that you can use to help with this.
  5. Always tackle the most important task of the day first. There is a finite amount of decisions anyone can make in one day, so as the day wears on it becomes increasingly more tiring and therefore harder to make decisions.  Fulfilling your most important tasks of the day first will not only sure you are performing at your best when you carry out those tasks, but also that when you have completed the most important task of the day this will boost you confidence for the rest of the day.
  6. Don’t multitask. Multitasking simply means that you are not giving your full attention to any one task.  In reality people who multi task don’t perform either task as well and take longer to do it.  Focus on one task and see it through to completion before moving on to the next task.
  7. Always work to goals. Have clear goals for where you are going, both in the long and short term, which will be broken down to specific goals for each individual day.  There should not be anything on your list at all which is not in some way goal related.
  8. Reduce meetings. Make sure that you are not participating in any meetings that are unnecessary as they are extremely time consuming, both in terms of the meeting itself and travel time.  If a half hour telephone conversation could achieve what you would achieve in an hour long meeting which you needed to travel half an hour each way to attend then it’s a no brainer.  If your meeting is essential then go with a clear plan of the objectives you need to achieve, keep it precise and ensure you stick to your time plan.
  9. It’s common for entrepreneurs to want to do everything themselves, but the sooner you realise that it’s simply more efficient to get someone else to do it the better and the quicker you can get on with driving your businesss forward and delegating or outsourcing all the non-core areas of your business.  You will soon see the difference in the amount you are actually achieving as well as the liberating feeling of being able to concentrate on what you are good at any what you enjoy while others deal with everything else.
  10. Wherever you can automate.  Have automated emails prepared for handling particular enquiries, automate your invoicing, your social media and plenty of other things besides.  It may take you a little while to set up automating your tasks but once they are set up you will reap the rewards.  It is the fastest, most efficient and cheapest way to get anything done.  (Read an example here of a client who is using automation to speed up his enquiry process).

I hope that these time management tips have proved useful to you.  Implementing even some, if not all of these will make a huge difference to your productivity.

Do you have any further tips to share on how to be more productive or to improve your time management skills?  If so we would love to hear so please do feel free to comment and as always if you know anyone who you feel would benefit from this then please do feel free to share with them or on social media.


Time Management Skills

Mail Redirection

Mail Redirection

Mail Redirection For Business

One thing is certain running a business – nothing ever stays the same.  Even with a solid business plan in place it is still difficult to judge how things will be in your business in the next five years, in fact for some early stage businesses it can be difficult to accurately predict the next 5 months.  For this reason, amongst others, many business owners will choose to use a mail redirection service.

Mail redirection, mail forwarding or mail handling as it is sometimes called is the process of sending mail on from one address to another.  So when it arrives at the business address, the mail forwarding company simply redirect the mail to you wherever you are based.

How does this benefit small business owners?  Quite simply it enables them to have a business address, which will be a real physical building, which to all intents and purposes as far as the outside world is concerned is the real address of the building.

This can be helpful to business owners, particularly in the early stages of business who may for instance start out working from home but want to keep their home address private, or for those who may be looking at moving premises, either to expand or to downsize.   Using a mail handling service means that even if the business moves premises the business address remains the same, which helps to give a stable and established impression to the outside world of the business.

It can be  a cost effective option to those wanting to keep costs down without appearing to be on too much of a tight budget to any clients and prospects as if it’s not necessary to be based in an office the business can be run from home.

A mail redirection service may often be used in conjunction with a telephone answering service to form a virtual office.  If you are thinking of using a virtual office service read our blog post on How to find the right virtual office for your business.

Remote Working

This week in Virtual Head Office – web support for a large decorating business with a remote working team

This week I thought I would write about one of our newer customers, a painting and decorating business with a team of decorators with a national presence.  This is a slightly larger business than most of the clients that we work with, with a team of just over 20 remote working staff to support.

The team are all based in different areas of the country and the business owner spends his time largely focussing on marketing to bring in new business and then on managing enquiries, chasing up quotes and relaying information to his team of decorators.

We have been working with them for about four months now and it’s been great to hear feedback from this client that already we have made a big difference to both freeing up his own time and speeding up the process of turning around enquiries.

The client has a website already, a huge website in fact with over 600 pages!  The website has good authority and is already doing quite a good job of bringing in enquiries, however, there is much room for improvement on the website.

One of the things we have looked at to date is the way that website visitors actually get in contact with the company.  Previously everything had been coming in centrally to the business owner.  At the point of getting an enquiry he had to look up on his database to see which decorator to allocate the job to, then contact the decorator to contact the person who had made the enquiry.  This was rather a long winded process, time consuming for our business owner, not particularly prompt as far as the person making the enquiry was concerned, and as calls or emails were being returned later the person making the enquiry in turn was not always able to respond to further details to get the ball rolling with the quotation.

We have created a widget to use on his website which has streamlined this process considerably.  The widget contains a map of the UK, linked to Google Maps, it gives the browser the option to either type in their postcode or to hover over the area they want on the map and click on a pin.  With either option when an area is selected the contact details of the decorator in that particular geographic area appear, including phone number (more about the phone later), email address and contact form.

On completing the contact form an email is sent directly to the decorator, copying the business owner in, simply so he is aware that an enquiry has been received, although he does not need to take further action.  The contact form has requested certain information, including requesting photographs, which the decorators are able to quote from without having to visit the premises, even though remote working means they all live nearby to their area, the process is still speeded up by being able to quote from photographs rather than having to visit the premises.  If no photos have been attached, the enquirer will then receive an automated email again asking them to send photographs in.

The appropriate decorator receives the enquiry immediately, and if all the information is not contained the widget has automatically chased this up.  The decorator can now concentrate on sending out the quote.  Our business owner hasn’t had to do anything.

If the person looking at the widget decides to call, they ring the number on the contact form, which is a central number answered by our pay as you go telephone answering service, who will take the details of the caller and then relay the message via email to the relevant decorator if they have further questions to ask.  Again the decorator is being contacted directly very quickly and again the business owner hasn’t had to do anything himself.  Having a central number for a remote working team gives a stable image to the outside world of an office with support staff within it.

Since the new contact form has been implemented on the website decorators are receiving all the information they need on the same day – previously this had been taking up to a week, and had obviously been time consuming for both our business owner and the decorator.

This week, our business owner has asked us to look at a forum that he has as part of the website and create a greater focus on threads with images on, a bit like the way Facebook works so we are working on this currently.  We’ll give you an update on this and will no doubt be blogging about this client again as we do quite a lot of work with them.

Could remote working work for your business?  It’s not always necessary to to take up an office.  Our article on whether to work from home or an office may provide some useful insights.

Virtual Office

How to find the right virtual office for your business.

So you’ve made the decision to use a virtual office.  How do you then go about finding the right virtual office for your business?  It’s important to make the right decision as you could be partnering with your virtual office service provider for a number of years to come so spend some time in advance carrying out your research to make the right decision from the start.

There are a number of factors to consider and you should weigh up all of them.



Location should be a major consideration for you in deciding on your virtual office.  The business address plays a crucial role in the impression of your business to the outside world.  You need to weigh up both the prestige factor that your business address will give as well as the likelihood of picking up business in that area.

Think carefully about who your ideal clients are.  Would they be likely to do business with a company in a more upmarket part of town or is something more modest appropriate?  Do your clients want to see you as a local business or is that not important.


The Premises

Although you will not be based from the virtual office it’s still important that the premises themselves, not purely the business address play a very important role.

Ideally visit the premises yourself, or if not at least take a look on Google Places to see the building and what sort of impression that conveys.

Again, just as you considered for location whether the location and address give the right impression for your business, think too of the premises.  Is the building smart, presentable, on a nice street?

Is it obviously a virtual office building or could it be conceivable that your business is actually based in there?


The services

Think carefully about the services you require from your virtual office.  Is it purely telephone answering and a virtual business address or do you require other services too, such as a virtual assistant service?

Make sure you clearly understand the services that the virtual office does offer.

Telephone Answering

What are the hours of business?  Do you need 24/7 telephone answering?  Most businesses don’t need this, but be clear when the opening hours are.  What happens if there is a call out of hours?  Is there a dedicated voicemail for your business?

How will messages be sent to you?

Mail Forwarding

Does the business offer same day mail forwarding?  If not find out how quickly any mail will be forwarded on.

Can you collect the post if you want?  If you do collect will you be informed if you have any mail to be collected?  How will they make contact with you? Will the mail be stored securely?


The size of the company

Think again about the impression that you are trying to convey of your company and choose an appropriate virtual office service provider to partner with.  A larger company with a bigger telephone answering team are likely to convey the impression of your business being considerably larger and busier with more of a call centre feel.  A small business answering service may be able to offer a more bespoke personal service.  Staff are more likely to get to know the businesses that they are working with and will often just know the information about the clients who they are answering the telephone for without having to look up information and may even get to know some regular callers, therefore becoming a convincing part of the team.


Make a phone call

Ring the business yourself and see how they answer.  A phone call to your company may well be the first contact a caller has with your business and it’s absolutely crucial that you make a great first impression.  Is the receptionist’s tone clear and well spoken?  Are they friendly, welcoming and professional?  Above all, ask yourself “Would you be happy if this person was answering the phone for my business?” – if the answer is no then go no further, but if the answer is yes give this company a big plus point as you continue weighing up your options.



Weighing up the costs is an important part of any business decision and this is no exception.  Are there pay as you go telephone answering options or are there virtual office packages available?  Think about how you are likely to use the service.  Are you likely to want them to answer every single call that comes in to your business, or just the overflow calls?  It can be difficult to estimate the volume of calls that come in to your business if you’ve never used a service like this before.  Try keeping a tally over the course of a week of the number of calls that come in to give you a rough idea.  Are you likely to experience periods of higher volume at certain times than others?

Pay as you go telephone answering will provide you with an accurate bill based on the number of call units you have paid – you are only ever going to get charged for what you use.

Virtual office packages offer bundles of minutes, and if you can reasonably accurately forecast the volume of calls you are likely to get this can work out cheaper, but not if you get it wrong.

Find out if the service can change and grow with your business.  If you are just starting up, the chances are you may not receive huge volumes of calls in the early days, but this may well increase as your business becomes more established.  Can you change your plan if needs be depending on your business requirements?

Find out if there are set up costs and what realistic monthly charges may be.

Cost is important but maybe not the most important factor.  If you estimate that one company may cost you £5 per month more, but the address is more appropriate and the telephone answering service is better it is probably worth paying the extra for.


Can you use the business as a both a trading address and a registered office address?

If your business is a Limited Company by law you are required to state your registered office address.  This is an address to receive formal correspondence from HMRC and Companies House.  Check if the price for the virtual office includes both trading address and registered office address if this is what you require.


Can you publicise the address?

Usually you can publish the address of your virtual office, but it is worth checking.  If you want to use this for marketing campaigns, listing on Google, your website, your business cards, any other marketing material do check that this is allowed.


Check the terms of the contract

Are you tied in for a particular length of time or does the contract work on a rolling basis.  If you are confident that you are going to be staying with your virtual office provider for some time there are often cost savings to be made by signing up for longer periods of time and paying up front, but paying monthly offers the opportunity for you to move on should you wish to.


There are quite a lot of factors to be taken in to consideration, but this is an important decision.  The address of your business and the way the telephone is answered is so influential in determining how the outside world views your business and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.


Unsure if a virtual office is right for you?  You might like to read this article on whether to work from home or an office to weigh up the pros and cons.


Do you use a virtual office?  How did you find yours?  Any knowledge you would like to pass on to our readers if you have been through this process yourself?  Please do let us know.


Small business telephone answering service

This week in Virtual Head Office – A telephone answering service and mail handing – how one small business relocates but appears to stay at the same business address

A small business who we’ve worked with for the past 5 years has relocated this week to London.  He has used our mailing address and telephone answering service ever since he started up his cleaning business, to give him a presence in the Bury St Edmunds area.  He lived in a nearby village and didn’t want to give out his home address.

His cleaning business was aiming at the commercial market and not really looking for domestic clients at all.  He wanted a dedicated office address to give his small business the appearance of being a bit larger and more entrenched than was actually the case to give his potential client base confidence in his business in order to help him win some corporate business.

Over the last 5 years this small business has grown substantially, both in terms of its number of employees and in terms of the volume of business they have won, some of which I’m pleased to say can be attributed to telemarketing campaigns which we have run for them, the rest through their own business development activities.

Our telephone answering team are always busy speaking to this clients callers, who may be new business enquiries, existing customers calling with queries or the cleaners employed by this small business.  The calls are always varied and frequently urgent.  This business owner is a very proactive busy person who is always on the move, whether he is visiting clients, out on meetings securing new business, managing his team or hiring new staff.

For a small business like this a telephone answering service means that there is a central point to coordinate his day to day activities.  His team and his customers all have his mobile number, of course, but the fact is they are unlikely to be able to actually catch him on it, and as he’s so busy if questions can be dealt with by someone else he would rather not have to call back.

He will often phone in or email our team to make us aware of his movements for the day, so that we can tell callers that realistically he won’t be able to return their call for 3 hours if they want to speak to him personally.  This really helps to manage the expectations of the caller and helps give his business a reputation for providing good customer service.  The answering service is bespoke so if he wants to let us know for example that there is a specific message for a particular person should they call we are able to relay that for him, so that quite often they don’t actually need to speak to him in person.  We just send him an email making him aware of the conversation so he is up to speed with what has been said, if he needs to contact this person further then he can do.

He currently comes in to the office when he is passing through to collect his post which has come in to his business address.  We always enjoy having a catch up with him when he comes in as he’s always got so much going on it’s really interesting to hear about.

Over the last few months he has been talking more and more about the business that he has won in London, as well as in Suffolk and he has been spending more and more time there.  Recently he made the decision to relocate to London, but to continue with the work that he is doing in Suffolk, which is now quite well established and able to continue with less day to day management from him.

Although he is not local enough to pop in any more to collect his post it doesn’t actually affect the virtual office service he uses.  Instead of coming in to collect, we will be forwarding the mail for him from now on.  The telephone answering service will remain entirely unchanged.  He will still maintain the telephone number that he already has and we will still continue to answer calls for his business in his company name and as far as they are concerned they are speaking to someone sitting in his office so he is very much maintaining a local business presence.

Going forward he may decide to also purchase a London telephone number, which can also be diverted in to our team so that he is able to give the appearance of having two offices.

For this small business owner using having a virtual office means that he is able to carry on with business as usual in a geographic area that he is now well established in, whilst being able to spend more time where he is needed more looking after those accounts which are still in their infancy and still need a lot of day to day involvement.

We’re really excited for him as he continues to expand his business and feel really pleased to be part of the team.  The only thing we’re a little bit sad about is that we won’t be seeing him in person now that he won’t be calling in to collect his post any more, but I’m sure he will be calling in to say hello when he’s in the area.

Credit Control

Credit Control: How To Get Another £20k In Your Business Bank Account

According to research by Tungsten, the average SME is owed £40,857 in unpaid invoices, with £20,937 of that total amount being overdue.  An amount which, according to the 1000 companies surveyed, places 1 in 5 of those businesses at risk of insolvency.

Even if it doesn’t put your business at risk of insolvency it certainly has an impact on your cash flow.  A recent article in the Telegraph summed this up well, saying that ‘Late Payment doesn’t just affect cash flow, it affects a small firm’s appetite for investment and growth’

Not only does this have a detrimental effect on finances, but it also wastes time, as the average small business spends 130 hours per year chasing invoices.

So what can you do to minimise the risk in your small business?  The answer is you need to get an effective credit control procedure in place.

Here are our tips for keeping on top of credit control and cash flow in your business.

  1. Do what you can do to avoid giving credit wherever possible. If it’s possible for you to charge up front, or at least get a deposit then do so. If you never give someone credit they are not going to pay you late.
  2. Invoice promptly. Send invoices straight away as any delay there is likely to cause a delay in payment.
  3. Clearly state your terms and conditions on the invoice.
  4. Also on the invoice clearly state your bank details and how you want the client to pay.
  5. Make it as easy as possible for your client to pay. Automating the process by setting up a direct debit can be very simple for both the client and you as a business owner. We use GoCardless to collect direct debit payments and we have found the service to be invaluable in terms of saving time spent chasing invoices for a nominal fee.  You will also be alerted if any of your clients cancel their direct debit arrangement which can alert you to any potential problems early on in the process.
  6. Ensure that someone, either a person within your organisation, or an outsourced service partner has responsibility for credit control. This incumbent should not only have dedicated time set aside each week to devote to your credit control, but they should also understand the importance of this role to your business.
  7. Don’t automatically assume that you are the best person to take on the task of credit control for your business. Often there are advantages to delegating or outsourcing credit control to either a credit control agency or a Virtual Assistant, which can include:
  • freeing up your time to concentrate on more profit making activities
  • separating you from the process of chasing the client can be good as business owners can often feel embarrassed or awkward about chasing money (although you shouldn’t).
  • It makes sure that it does get done every week, as as the business owner you may find yourself pulled in other directions.
  1. Be systematic. It’s important that you have a clear credit control procedure in place that you follow to the letter. Following a system, and keeping a record of this has a number of benefits:
  • You know exactly where you are in the process at any one time.
  • The process usually works, preventing invoices becoming overdue is always the best way.
  • In the worst case scenario, should you need to take this to a debt recovery company or take legal action you have shown that you have followed a legitimate process.

A procedure for a business with 30 day payment terms would be something like this:

  • Day 1 send your invoice
  • Day 14 make a courtesy call to check that invoice has been received and to confirm when payment is due.
  • Day 28 make another call to remind your client when the invoice is due.
  • Day 37 send a first gentle reminder that the invoice is overdue.
  • Day 44 send a stronger reminder asking for the invoice to be paid within a particular time frame to avoid further costs being incurred.
  • Day 51 send a final reminder letter giving 7 days to pay before legal action is taken.

We use Kashflow for our accounting software and this has sample letters within it which can be sent at the click of a button and also recording everything that has been sent.

  1. Throughout the process it’s important to maintain good relationships with your client. Not only will they be more inclined to pay promptly or even early in some cases if there is a good relationship, but it’s also important for future sales with this client, or anyone else they may recommend you to.
  2. Regularly review payment ledger. Make sure if someone has paid that you are not continuing to chase them in the interests of maintaining a strong relationship.
  3. Make sure your business maintains a good reputation for paying suppliers promptly, not only does this give you the higher moral standing, but word gets around in the small business community and you don’t want to be known as someone who is a late payer as this weakens your position when chasing late payments from others.

If you’re not already following the above steps if you do introduce them will have a dramatic improvement on the cash flow and financial health of your business, but should you have done all of the above and you are still owed money don’t hesitate to take legal action.

If you’ve found this article interesting please feel free to share with anyone else you think would benefit.


School Animation & Website

This week in Virtual Head Office…a website and an animation for a school

Every once in a while we have a client who is different to the usual small business that we support, yet it’s often surprising how many similarities there are between the needs of different types of organisations.

Recently we worked with a school on a project to develop a new website for them.  The existing website was a bit out of date, didn’t really engage with parents or pupils and was impossible for the school staff to make changes to themselves, everything had to go through a previous web developer, who wasn’t particularly speedy with heeding their requests for updates.

The brief was to build an engaging website which wouldn’t date too quickly and, where possible to involve the children in making the website, as well as complying with the legal requirements for building a school website.  They also wanted to use animation to help further bring the website alive.

The project was an interesting one, and one that all the Virtual Head Office team have really been involved with.

We discussed with them ideas for the website and talked with them to get a feel for how they wanted to be presented on the website, as we do with all our clients, but the one thing that kept coming through was the staff and head teacher very much wanted the children’s voices to be heard as it is their school.

The animation project has been something that the children have been actively involved in.  We visited the year 5 and 6 class and Ed, our designer and animator talked to the children about what goes in to making an animation and the stages that he would be following in producing the animation.

We then asked each of the children to draw a picture of the thing they liked most about their school and to write a sentence about it.  We then took the pictures they had drawn and used them to inspire our own animation.  The sentences that they had produced were then put in to order to then compile a voiceover on which the animation would be based.  After putting together this voiceover we returned to the school to get the children to read out their sentences whilst we recorded the voiceover.  We then took this away and compiled the animation to go with the wording.  The children were really excited to see the completed animation.

There was a second animation also created in the same way aimed more at parents.  This worked in a similar way, although we didn’t make them draw any pictures!  Different teachers also featured in the voiceover of the school animation.

With regard to the website itself, this has been very much a process of working closely with the school to find out what they want, balancing the legal requirements of what they need to include with a visually appealing, modern site that teachers and staff can update regularly to communicate news to parents.

Each class has their own page where teachers can write updates of what has been happening within their own class, and other updates can also be made regularly, such as adding in weekly newsletters and a calendar of events.

Although this website went live a few weeks ago, we have this week made a couple of minor changes at their request.

The school website project is one which we have enjoyed working on immensely.  It was particularly lovely to see the children’s faces when they first saw their animation come to life.

Business Address

This week in Virtual Head Office…a business address for an online retailer

Not all of our clients take up multiple services, some will use just one or two.  This week I’ve decided to talk about one of these clients, an online retailer that we provide a business address service for.

We’ve worked with this busy home based business owner for about two and a half years and have got to know him pretty well over this time.  As is often the case it’s getting to know our clients personally that often makes our work all the more rewarding as we get to find out what a difference our service means to them.

The first time we met the business owner, he arrived at our office seeming rather troubled, the night before his garage had been burgled and some of his stock had been stolen.  He explained that he had been looking at taking up a business address for some time as he was aware that having his home address on his website, as all websites are legally obliged to do, was a bit of a security risk.  Although his home address was not where he stored the majority of his stock he was worried that the outside world would perceive his stock to be held there and he felt that this put him at risk.  The burglary, unfortunately had been the catalyst for him making the move to actually finding a virtual office to work with.

So what do we do for him?  Quite simply, we provide a mail handling service, which means we let him use the address of our building as his business address.  He can use this address on his website, on his business cards, his headed paper, his marketing material, wherever he wants to use it.  The address is a realistic one as we are in a multi-occupancy building with lots of small businesses based within it.  It’s also a lovely Georgian building on a very nice street.

We receive his post for him and as he lives locally to us, he chooses to come in and collect the post rather than have us forward it on to him.  His post can be anything from usual correspondence to items that have been purchased via his website being returned.  We receive it all here, store it securely and then let him know he has items to collect and then wait for him to call in.  In the meantime, he carries on working from home, enjoying the benefits of being near to his young family, having no commute and in general having a good work life balance

We always enjoy seeing our clients face to face when they come in to collect post from their business address and especially nice to see the smile that is always on his face these days.

Small Business Brand

How To Reinforce Your Small Business Brand Without Spending A Penny

Everyday Ideas To Promote Your Brand Without Spending Money

It’s difficult to measure the value of your company brand, but one thing is for sure if you have succeeded in developing a strong brand it will engender confidence in your business and help you win and secure clients. If you don’t really have a brand to speak of it will require more effort to develop business.

As small business owners, many of us will be convinced of the importance of a strong brand already, yet the challenge is often how to reinforce that brand on a budget.  Here are a handful of small ideas that everyone can do to reinforce their small business brand.

  1. Your brand is about so much more than your logo. If you haven’t already, ask yourself what kind of values your small business brand stands for and then make sure that you reflect that, in your actions, in the way you treat your customers, in the way you dress and present yourself in general.  If you employ staff make sure that you convey your message to them as well so that they emulate you and your business brand.
  2. Tell people. Get out there and network.  There are many low cost or even free networking events happening all over the country.  If you haven’t already attended any then get out there and start spreading the word about your brand.  It’s important to note here that whilst it’s important to get your message across you should always be polite and respectful to the other people you are networking with, listen to what they are saying and take a genuine interest in them.  Talking over other people or hogging the conversation will not do your brand any favours so take turns appropriately, you might also find some other great businesses that can help you out too.
  3. If you’re brave enough to get out there in to the world and network face to face why not also try social media? Promoting your business through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or any of the other vast number of platforms is free and a great way to get your message out to a sizeable audience.  As with face to face networking be friendly and unselfish to be remembered for the right reasons. Post content that is relevant to your audience and true to your brand, reflecting standards appropriate to your business.
  4. Keep everything consistent. Assuming you have a logo, which every business should, make sure you are using it everywhere, not just on your marketing material, but on all your documents, on your email auto signature, your invoices and for any communication you have with anyone outside the company.  Make sure that your website, business cards and other marketing material all use the same version of your logo and that further than that you have a consistent image, for example always using the same font and overall style.
  5. Make sure your name is known. Just as ensuring that the logo and style of the business is across the board so should your name be.   This may sound obvious, however, businesses with long names may sometimes find themselves abbreviating the name, this is fine if that’s what you’re going to go with, but choose one or the other and stick with it and make sure that that name is known.  For example brief everyone who answers the telephone in your business to answer the telephone professionally using the same company name.

Do you have any other ideas to help small businesses, either in terms of branding or helping businesses to work smarter?  We would love to hear if you do.

Virtual Mailing Address

What is a virtual mailing address?

As our business is a virtual business we are sometimes asked ‘What is a virtual office and what is a virtual mailing address?  Does it mean that the building doesn’t exist?’

The use of the word virtual is really to indicate that you don’t actually have to be based in the office yourself, but a virtual mailing address, is very much a real physical address, staffed by real people! Virtual office services and providers of virtual mailing address services will be based in real office buildings, somewhere that your business could conceivably be located.  To the outside world it will seem as though your business is based within there.

You and your business can be located in a completely different area, you could be based anywhere in the UK or even overseas.  Mail will be forwarded on, scanned and sent, or if you are local it will be held for you securely until you choose to collect.

Many people wishing to use this service will use a telephone answering service as well in order to have a full virtual office service but it’s equally possible to just have a virtual mailing address if that’s all that is required.

If you’re looking at taking up a virtual mailing address service, it’s worth taking a look around to see if you can find images of the building and the vicinity if you don’t already know it.  You may not be physically sitting in this office every day, but is this an office that you’d like to give the impression of being based in.  Is it going to convey the right impression for your business?

You can usually use a virtual mailing address to receive anything that you would normally expect to receive by post and can normally use as the registered office address for your business as well.