Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Top 10 tips to grow your business on Instagram


Ever wondered how to build a social media presence for your business on Instagram? Here are some of Instagram’s most powerful features to help you boost your brand on this fastly growing platform.



1. Know your audience
By understanding the demographic of your target audience this will help you to create a direct marketing strategy, using your profile to increase brand awareness and engagement applying a voice for the business that speaks to them in a way they understand, developing a sense of community and rapport, giving the audience a feeling of involvement and building relationships and brand loyalty

2. Consistency
Although it is important to vary content, (which we will cover in tip 4 below) having an aesthetically pleasing profile is imperative to design a professional grid of high quality imagery that on first glance entices further exploration and curiosity, yet maintaining the business brand identity

3.  Types of content
By utilising the different content mediums on Instagram this will keep the audience experience fresh and exciting. This includes stories, posts, post sharing, video content, graphics, quotes, photographs, etc., (some of which we will cover in the tips below). Mixing content so as not to become boring and repetitive keeps your followers wanting to see more of what you will post next and this anticipation can be used to create exciting and on-going engagement

4.  Instagram stories
This feature provides a snapshot of a post that is only visible on the profile for a maximum of 24 hours, then being deleted unless shared as a highlight or shared on your profile. More personal content or lower quality imagery can work well on this feature. The use of other features as mentioned in tip 6 create the opportunity in stories to obtain instant feedback through direct conversational replies, the use of polls, questions etc. Any popular or important information shared can be saved to highlights on your profile, categorised so that viewers can return to review and revisit the content within relevant and defined areas of topic or subject

5.  Filters
Various effects can make the original post more visually pleasing, adding creative and stimulating or attention-grabbing properties. When identifying an attractive effect on another profile, by tapping the top left of the story post this allows you to save and send the effect used to your personal story settings so that it can be utilised at a later date

6.  Features
The poll, question box, quiz, location tags and gif features attract user engagement and instant feedback which helps to gain a better understanding of your audience. These features can be found when swiping to the right on your feed home page when creating either a video or picture story. The filters appear at the bottom of the screen, with the tags, gifs, poll and quiz options available to select within the icons at the top right of the screen.

7.  Save tab
Located at the bottom right of every post, the save tab allows you to save and create collections of other users posts to be collected as inspiration and reference. This is also good for trying to be consistent with posts if you do not have content of your own, although credit should be given to the original creator

8.  Post sharing
When you wish to share a post from another profile this can be done by tapping the arrow/send icon below the post picture to send to either a person or profile from within your ‘following’ list, or you can share publicly by sharing to your own profile story for everyone to see

9.  Post times
Instagram has a feature on a business profile that enables viewing of insights by tapping on the ‘insights’ tab that is visible on your profile page. The insights provide you with information on your prime times to post and details on the audience demographic. This will be different for each business and therefore it is imperative that you understand your engagement statistics to know what posts get the most likes and attract more followers, giving you an opportunity to improve the overall figures on your profile

10.  IGTV – Instagram Television
For video content longer than 1 minute in duration there is an IGTV option, which enables users to choose whether to continue to watch the footage. This allows you to share more detailed and in-depth content such as tutorials, story time, etc. When uploading a video onto your feed instead of a photograph or still content if the video is more than 1 minute long the option to choose IGTV will appear automatically. When utilising this feature ensure that the content within the first minute is engaging enough to promote continued interaction

Hopefully these tips will help you to understand and build your business profile on Instagram successfully, using these tips to design, develop and deliver professional content that engages your target audience and heightens your business profile.

If you have a business registered under 42 months within the Liverpool City Region - we can support you! get in touch on enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk



MSIF focussed on supporting Covid 19 impacted SMEs in the North West

Liverpool-based funding provider MSIF is looking to further support and expand its offering to SMEs across the North West impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.




As an accredited lender of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), MSIF has, through its Merseyside Loan & Equity Fund (MLEF), made £1million of its own capital available to support businesses under the scheme with loans of up to £250,000.  Having recently completed its first investments, further applications are now being welcomed with such support being in addition to MSIF’s flexible funding options for debt, equity and start-up finance.

In addition to this, MSIF and GC Business Finance can offer CBILS backed loans from their £10million Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) Microfinance Fund across the whole of the North West for SMEs looking to fill the funding gap, for both growth and development projects. Loans from £25,000 to £100,000 are available with CBILS backed loans from £50,001 subject to eligibility to businesses impacted by COVID.

With the expanded offering on CBILS backed funding, MSIF aims to encourage further resilience for manufacturing, tech, digital, creative and life sciences sectors in particular.

Paul Humphray, Investment Director commented; “Covid-19 has dramatically changed the market as we know it and MSIF wants to do everything it can to support those businesses that had real potential prior to the pandemic, and may now need funding to help in their recovery. 
“It’s a time of significant change and we need to adapt and make our services available to SMEs who need it most. We are pleased to see the positive impact the CBILS has made to businesses across the North West, now we want to help fill the gap in funding to ensure resumption of growth for a strong and thriving economy.”

Janice Mears, Head of Business Growth at Growth Platform said: “We need to ensure businesses across the city region are fully supported so that they can continue to operate and help our city region recover from the far-reaching impact of COVID-19.  The services available from MSIF are

invaluable in supporting our businesses and I would encourage any business seeking funding for recovery or growth to get in touch with them or alternatively visit the Growth Platform web site where we have brought together all vital and relevant business support and advice under one platform.”

Grant Peggie, Director at the British Business Bank, said “During this time, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is offering an alternative route to funding for businesses seeking support. MSIF is one of our six Fund Managers accredited to deliver CBILS loans on behalf of NPIF and we are proud to work in partnership with them to help firms in the Liverpool City Region and the wider North West to ensure that the North remains a prosperous region going forward.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union, using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.


NPIF was established in 2017 with the aim to deliver a range of funding options to ambitious and high-growth SMEs to aid expansion and create economic prosperity in the North of England. Liverpool is one of the funds’ 10 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas in which NPIF has made an impact by helping businesses seeking investment to accelerate their growth. The Fund offers a range of finance options including micro-finance, debt finance and equity finance, with investments ranging in size from £25,000 to £2m. 

If you are looking to secure funding for your business, contact info@msif.co.uk or visit www.msif.co.uk

For more information about the support available to help your business, contact Enterprise Hub on enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk


Monday, 15 June 2020

Step into the new world of work with private offices from £240pcm at 54 St James Street

The world of work as we know it has changed, and so has the way we do business.

So, is it time to re-think where you do business from?

 

Whether your business is growing, you’re a freelancer ready to find a better work–life balance, or you’re looking to downsize your current space as your team move towards homeworking – your needs are changing.

That’s why small, private and professional offices at 54 St James Street could be the ideal solution for your business to take its next steps into the world of work post lockdown. 

 

54 St James Street’s smaller 1-3 person offices from £240pcm offer the ideal solution to a range of business challenges:

Ø  Are you ready to grow into your first office, following an increased demand for your products or services?
Ø  Have your team have moved towards a future of home working, but you still want a permanent and professional business presence?
Ø  Or perhaps the distractions of home working during lockdown are slowing down your workflow as a freelancer or entrepreneur? We offer space just the right size for you to find that work-life balance.

Suitable for 1-3 people the smaller private offices offer a safe and affordable space for you to work from as you navigate your business through the current crisis and beyond.


What’s available?

·         Light and contemporary private offices - suitable for social distancing
·         1-3 person offices – (11sq m – 13sq m)
·         Prices start from £240pcm - £260pcm + VAT
·         3 months minimum tenancy, then a flexible monthly rolling contract
·         Available immediately

 

Why choose 54 St James Street?

Benefits include: 
·         Prime L1 postcode in the Baltic Triangle
·         10-minute walk from Liverpool One and Bold Street and transport links
·         Free use of on-site bike racks and shower facilities 
·         Garden space and roof terrace
·         Communal kitchen spaces 
·         10% discount at SIREN Liverpool, our on-site café  
·         Staffed reception 8.30am – 5.30pm on weekdays (N.B. our reception is currently on reduced opening hours due to COVID-19) 
·         Discounted meeting and conference room hire 
·         Mail-handling 
·         Access to high-speed broadband 
·         Photocopying, printing and scanning facilities available on request 
·         Grade A comfort heating & cooling system
·         On-site business community and networks 



54 St James Street’s facilities are open to female and male led businesses and social enterprises.

Their aim is to ensure that our Business Services contribute to our tenants’ business success, with a team of on-site business advisors, access to the WO Connect networking group for female entrepreneurs, and a regular programme of training and events.





Please contact venue@thewo.org.uk to find out more or to arrange a safe visit to see 54 St James Street for yourself.

You can also click here to explore the office facilities online.





      

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Getting into 'The Zone' with Lauren Caffrey

Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, Lauren Caffrey has had business on her mind from a young age. Passionate about fitness, she took the knowledge gained from 4 years work experience to open her own gym, offering personalised fitness and nutrition plans.

Hoping to make the start-up journey run as smoothly as possible; she joined the Enterprise Hub programme. We caught up with Lauren to find out how she has doubled her turnover in just under a year and how adapting her business model has helped her reach more clients…


You can read the full case study over on The Women's Organisations blog here 

If you have been inspired by Laurens’ story and would like to see how Enterprise Hub can help you grow your new business, then get in touch with us. Email hello@thewo.org.uk 


Open Letter: I left my first meeting with a clear set of actions...

Mikaela Kind started her own business - The Unwaste after redundancy, and with help from The Women's Organisation has never looked back! Read her open letter below to see how we can support you.

Mikaela King, Founder of The Unwaste


I found myself at a career junction when a redundancy opportunity came along having worked at a major retailer for over 20 years -all of my working life. I was really confused and unsure about what my next chapter would look like but I knew one thing for sure, I was enjoying seeing life through a different lens and I wanted to explore what a different work life could look like. 

The Unwaste business model just popped into my head and I mentioned it to a few people and one friend suggested contacting the Women's Organisation for help and advice. I’d always been a massive advocate of anything that helps give women a leg up in the male dominated world of business, so I got in touch without hesitation.   

I had no confidence in my own ability to start a business let alone the business idea itself. I warmed to Jacqueline from the minute we met, she made me feel welcomed, supported and listened to. I left with a clear set of actions to help me figure out how I was going to make this work. And here I am now with my business launched, orders have started to come in and I’ve got a clear plan on what I need to do to keep building my business. 

Having Jacqueline to support, motivate and guide me was invaluable. When I had a wobble in my self confidence, when I hit a brick wall, when I didn’t know what I was doing, when I lacked motivation, Jacqueline helped pick me up, show me the way and offered advice, contacts and ideas to get me back on track and keep momentum going. The training sessions were excellent at helping to ease you into being a business owner without startling you with information overload. The trainers were delightful and the courses enjoyable, plus it was a great opportunity to meet other people in the same boat and to share ideas and help each other. 

There were several moments over the last few months where I was ready to throw in the towel, I was ready to give up because it just felt too hard but knowing I had not just Jacqueline, but the entire Women’s Organisation there to fall back on, made it seem okay to carry on… so I did and I’m so glad and so grateful and would highly recommend them to anybody who is thinking of starting up their own business.

Mikaela King
The Unwaste

For more information about the support available to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk.




Monday, 1 June 2020

Open letter: From when I first registered until now the ease of access to the support has been brilliant...

Leanne Cretney has recently taken over Beer EnGin Micro pub and is working with The Women's Organisation to build her entrepreneurial skills to grow the business. She wrote an open letter about the support she had received to help her on her journey...


Leanne Cretney recently took over Beer EnGin Micro-Pub

Since starting my business journey, the business advisors have been so supportive, very knowledgeable and the advice has been invaluable to me. Nothing is too much trouble and everything i've asked has always been answered. The support provided when completing my business plan was immense and thanks to the input, my start-up loan was approved straightaway due to having an excellent business plan.

The courses provided by The Women's Organisation have been brilliant, very well organised and full of really useful information. They are practical and the tools provided set you up to run your own business, this takes away a lot of  the stress when setting up to be self-employed. All of the facilitators have been very knowledgeable and run the sessions in such a relaxed way, you learn more as they encourage discussion and debate. It has been a great opportunity to network and support other new business owners. 

When the COVID-19 crisis hit all scheduled course moved to Zoom so we could still learn and keep in touch. You personally sent me all the links to the Government support for small businesses so I was fully informed. 

All of the admin team make sure they respond to your query in a timely manner and signpost you to the right person.

The support you provide as an organisation is not only technical and practical but you go over and above to ensure the well being of your clients I can't thank you enough for everything.

Leanne Cretney
Beer EnGin Micro-Pub

For more information about the support available to help start or grow your new business through Enterprise Hub, please contact  enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk.



Tuesday, 26 May 2020

The Difference a Year Makes: Catch up with bestselling author Caz Finlay one year on from the launch of her debut novel

One year on from the launch of her debut novel, The Boss - which counts itself in the top 100 in the Amazon bestseller rankings - Liverpool author Caz Finlay is set to return with the second installment of the 'Bad Blood' trilogy.

It's been a busy year for Caz who is also one of the organisers behind Liverpool's first ever crime writing festival,  'Perfect Crime', which will be happening online in November.

We caught up with Caz to find out how things are going and how support from her business advisor at The Women's Organisation has helped shape her business journey...


Liverpool author Caz Finlay

So, how has it been since you launched book 1 a year ago?


Where do I start? It’s been a whirlwind year of firsts and doing things I never thought possible. I’ll try and keep it brief by sticking to the highlights.

My first, and very own book signing at Liverpool Waterstones on the day The Boss was released in paperback. This was one of the most surreal and amazing experiences of my life. I remember sitting there being interviewed and looking out at the audience, thinking about all of the times I’d been in the audience myself at a book signing, and how I’d dreamed of one day sitting up there on the stage talking about my own book – and there I was doing it. It was absolutely incredible, and afterwards I was buzzing for days. I felt like a rock star! I had more book signings throughout the year and all of them were wonderful in their own way, but it was that first one in Waterstones which made me feel like I had finally made it as an author.

Attending the Harper Collins summer party at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Another time I felt like a rock star. There were so many famous authors in one place, I spent most of the night walking around with my mouth hanging open. There were cocktails and canapes aplenty, and they even left the Dior exhibit open for us throughout the evening. I sat there at the end of the night and wondered how this working-class girl from Bootle had found herself sipping bubbly with all of these famous authors in the beautiful grounds of the V&A museum.

Being asked to do an event for Smithdown Literary Festival. I could hardly believe it when I was asked to do an event for a festival that was being headlined by none other than Ann Cleeves! I loved chatting with the audience and it was a great event. I was interviewed by the festival founder, Ian Skillicorn, and a chance conversation with him at the end of the night led to another massive highlight for me. More on that later.

Attending my first crime fiction festival, Capital Crime in London. It was a 3 day festival and I attended with a good friend of mine. We had an absolute blast. I loved every minute of it, and again I sat in the audience looking up at the panel members and wishing that one day that might be me. When I got back, I had a meeting with Jo from the Women’s Org, and I remember talking about Capital Crime and how much it had inspired me. I remember us talking about my plans for the future and I set one of my goals to be on a panel myself one day – a girl can dream right.

The impact of attending Capital Crime didn’t end there though. Remember that conversation with Ian at the Smithdown festival? I told him all about my CC experience when I got back, and together with another Liverpool author, Margaret Murphy, we went for a coffee one evening and Perfect Crime was born.

Visiting my new editor at Harper Collins HQ and the rest of the team, or my ‘squad’ as they are now know. It was great visiting the iconic News Building in London and being able to talk about exciting plans for the future. I even met Chris Tarrant on my out and he was so nice! He posed for a selfie with me and even agreed to come back and retake it when I messed up the first attempt.

Finally, a few weeks ago, The Boss hit the top 100 in the Amazon bestseller rankings – a feat to be truly proud of. It peaked at 66 and got 2 bestseller flags in Vigilante Justice, and Organised Crime. 66 out of over 6 million of books isn’t bad going, is it?


Tell us about book 2 and 3 and future plans for the series. 


Book 2 and 3 in the Bad Blood series are due out this year. Back in the Game, is out on 5th June and Head of the Firm on 6th August. Both of them follow on from The Boss and follow Grace and her family as they continue to wage war on the streets of Liverpool. I’m currently writing book 4 in the series and there are some very interesting characters coming through, so who knows what will happen next?


Tell us about the crime festival and wider experiences.


Perfect Crime is Liverpool’s first crime fiction festival and was due to take place in The Radisson Blu in Liverpool on November 14th 2020, featuring some of biggest and best crime fiction authors including Ann Cleeves, Sophie Hannah, Elly Griffiths, Mandasue Heller and many more. Unfortunately, due to the current covid pandemic, we’ve had to postpone the festival to 2021, but we’ll still be hosting a digital festival this November. You can find out more details by visiting our website perfectcrime.uk or following us on Facebook: Perfect Crime UK or Twitter @PerfectCrimeUK.

In my day job as a Senior Probation Officer, I do a lot of informal coaching, it’s a natural part of my job and the supervision of Probation Officers. Recently, I have had the pleasure of doing some coaching/ mentoring with a new writer who is just starting out on her journey to publication. It’s something I’m really enjoying and something I’d like to pursue more of in the future.


What are the future plans? 


Future plans are to keep on writing as much as I can. I have so many ideas for so many books. Eventually, I’d like to write in another genre too. I’d also like to explore the coaching and mentoring side of creative writing. It’s a subject I’m so passionate about, and while I’m no expert, I have quite a unique experience and enjoy sharing that with others.

I have a few long-term dreams. Firstly, I’d love Perfect Crime to be a huge success and become a well-established event in the crime festival calendar. Secondly, although I love my career in Probation, one day I’d like to make writing my full-time career. And finally, but probably most up there in terms of the dream, I’d like some production company to get their hands on the Bad Blood books and turn them into a film or into a television series – featuring Tom Hardy and Stephen Graham if at all possible!


How has Support from The Women's Organisation helped shape your journey?


I’ve been working with Jo from The Women's Organisation for about a year now and she has been such a massive support to me. Whenever I doubt myself and my credentials, she always has a way making me look at the world in a different way. She brings such a great and valued perspective to my journey and I’m so thankful for her input. Whenever I talk to her I always come away feeling really empowered and inspired. Recently, I was exploring another avenue related to writing and Jo put me in touch with Victoria who helped me put a great CV together. I hadn’t done one of those since I was about eighteen. But I read this one and thought ‘wow, I’d employ me!’


What advice would you give to budding creatives?


Most importantly, just do it. Whether that be writing, art, music or whatever your creative outlet is. The first step is the hardest, but once you’ve taken that, you’re on your way.

And don’t take things personally. I was rejected so many times by so many agents when I was trying to get The Boss published, that I was even considering shelving it. But I persevered, and now my debut novel is an Amazon bestseller.

Read our interview with Caz last year here 

Find out more about Perfect Crime https://perfectcrime.uk

You can find Caz's website here: https://cazfinlay.com

Whether you are thinking of starting a business, sustaining your business through the current climate, or even growing your business, we have a team of expert business advisors who are here to help you through the practicalities.

Contact us via hello@thewo.org.uk to find out more or to book your 1-2-1 telephone or video appointment.