Kickstart: What are your scared of?

Is there anything that you are scared of doing in your business that is holding you back?

Lots of people are scared of lots of things in business. Some don’t like picking up the phone and making cold calls, some put off doing the accounts, some don’t like changing things even when they know they’re not working.

But often these fears stop us developing and from being more successful, more profitable, more prosperous.

If you have a fear and could get over it, would you be more successful? Can you address it yourself or can you find someone to help you overcome it?

We hope you find these kickstart suggestions useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

£420 million fund available to kickstart stalled construction sites

Bids for the government’s £420 million Get Britain Building fund need to be submitted by midday on January 30.

The Homes and Communities Agency scheme can provide funds to unlock stalled sites with planning permission to support construction activity and provide new homes. It works by improving access to development finance faced by some housebuilders and enabling marginal sites to be developed by sharing risk.

The Get Britain Building fund is open to all private sector organisations which control land and can develop at least 25 homes on a stalled site by December 2014. It is not limited to smaller companies, although the HCA has tried to streamline the first stage of the application process to make it easier for all developers to access funding.

Find out how to bid for funds at homesandcommunities.co.uk/get-britain-building.

Kickstart: how do you grow your business?

Do you want to grow your business, develop a new product or service or expand into a different market?

What is your business plan? If you don’t have one, start to jot down your thoughts. Start with your aims, what you want to achieve, what market there is, how you can reach it and how you’re going to make it all happen. Calculating your costs, prices, sales and profits will help you to set realistic targets. Before long, you’ll have created the basis of a detailed business plan on which you can base your development. The process can also help you to identify and overcome potential obstacles to growth.

If you already have a business plan, is it up to date? If it doesn’t reflect your current position or objectives, updating it can help you move forward.

It can be difficult to grow or develop a business if you haven’t thought it through. If you need help with business planning, would a mentor help?

We hope you find these kickstart suggestions useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

Kickstart: Tell them about it!

If business is quiet first thing in the New Year, do you need to remind customers about your products or services?

Getting your web site or literature up to date is a start. Do you need to update 2011 details and prices for 2012? And when you’ve updated them, how will customers find out about them? However customers buy from you – by visiting your premises, ordering online or over the phone – you have to reach out to them.

There are many ways to do this, some of them free:

  • direct mailshots
  • email newsletters
  • online blog
  • Facebook, Twitter and other social media
  • advertising in consumer or trade press
  • public relations
  • word-of-mouth

The more people who know about your business, the more likely they will become your customers.

We hope you find these kickstart suggestions useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

Kickstart: Make small achievable improvements every day

It’s tempting at the start of a new year to try to make a big improvement to a business all in one go. That’s great if you know you are going to achieve it, but can knock your confidence if, like a diet, it becomes difficult to follow through.

Instead of trying to make an almost impossible 100% improvement in a single area, try making more easily achievable improvements in a number of areas. Over weeks and months these small improvements can add up to produce the same result as a big project and will have a greater chance of succeeding.

We’re going to be discussing one way to improve a business every day for the next couple of months. There are few businesses that cannot make small productivity and efficiency improvements in everything they do.

We hope you find these useful. If you have your own suggestions for improvements you’d like to share, please get in touch and help us all kickstart our businesses for 2012.

Happy New Year for 2012

There’s no denying that 2011 has been a tough year and that 2012 promises equal, if not greater, challenges. Yet businesses in the area have shown their enterprise, enthusiasm and optimism and we look forward to the year ahead with hope.

However you choose to enjoy the festive period, we hope you enjoy it and we wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Free entry to Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe on New Year’s Day

Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe, North Devon will be open for FREE for one day only on New Year’s Day, 10am to 4.30pm.

Why not go for a stroll through to read the fascinating history, see the spectacular wedding venue, or even go for a bracing New Year’s Day dip?! Lots of locals have still never visited or might not have been for years – so here is the opportunity.

The cafe-bar and play hut will be open 10am-6pm for visitors to warm up with a coffee or mulled wine and popular Sunday Roasts are being relaunched! (bookings recommended). The play hut & cafe-bar will also be open daily 27th December to 2nd January.

For details see: tunnelsbeaches.co.uk

Three £10,000 grants up for grabs in contest for green projects

A competition to identify good examples of green businesses is offering five grants of up to £10,000 each to North Devon businesses looking to implement the best green projects.

The Green Business Exemplars competition is part of the Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon programme funded by Defra and the European Union and is supported by the North Devon Journal. It aims to stimulate innovation and good practice to meet low carbon and environmental sustainability priorities.

Projects receiving grants could include:

  • development of new sustainable products and services or those linked to the environment reducing carbon impact through more efficient use of resources
  • improved waste, energy or water management systems
  • support for biodiversity
  • addressing climate change

The deadline for entries is 16 January  2012, using forms downloaded from the Leader 4 website at leader4.org, which outlines the criteria that eligible entrants must meet.

Businesses selected as finalists will have to provide 50% funding towards their project. Shortlisted entries will be visited by a competition panel member and the finalists chosen by the panel will be invited to submit a full Leader 4 application for the grant.