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Fran Joins peak b Panel to Discuss 2019 Small Business Community Impact Report

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Last week I was invited to join a Q&A panel at The AllBright Members Club, an exclusive membership club for female entrepreneurs (men are allowed as guests ☺️)  by peak b. peak b is the campaigning organisation for Small Businesses and is the brainchild of Michelle Ovens MBE.  

Michelle is also responsible for launching Small Business Saturday in the UK. Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to 'shop local' and support small businesses in their communities).

Michelle created f:Entrepreneur (a campaign that highlights inspiring female business leaders across the UK). I was one of the Female Entrepreneurs listed in the Top 100 list back in February and was lucky enough to be invited to The House of Lords to celebrate this achievement. You can read about that visit here!

I don't know where she finds the time but Michelle and her team also created The Small Awards which has just celebrated it's 3rd year. Stamptastic was shortlisted in the Digital Star Category and we attended a glittering ceremony in March and we WON! You can read our blog post on our win here

This award:

  • Recognizes small businesses that operate only through digital channels.
  • Celebrate strong use of digital channels to engage customers, innovation in web design and functionality, and growth in audience over time.
  • Demonstrates strong understanding of digital engagement and show how they have used this understanding to deliver for their customers.

The culmination of being listed in The Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs and Stamptastic winning The Best Digital Business in The Small Awards led to my invitation to be on the panel to discuss peak b's Small Business Community Impact Report 2019.

Alongside me on the panel was Richard Davies who leads the TSB SME Banking leadership team, Bill Richards Managing Director of Indeed.com and Michelle who was hosting the Q&A. Incidentally, Bill was on Judging Panel at The Small Awards and Indeed were the sponsors of our category so it was really lovely to have a quick catch up with him beforehand to chat about the awards and to thank him for choosing us!

The Small Business Community Impact Report made the following findings:

  • a continued shift in small businesses from focusing on profit to focusing on people
  • Small businesses are offering much more flexibility (80% up from 70% last year) in the workplace it seems .
  • Well over 70% of small businesses say they have or would consider keeping a member of staff on even when they dont economically need them. This of course gives the staff member a great sense of security. 
  • Small businesses have seen their positive impact on local factors such as school standards, reduction in poverty / unemployment, increased house prices rise in the last year, which sounds like very good news. 
  • There is still a reticence from small businesses to reach out for business support outside friends and family - what can we do to help businesses get the support they need to grow and succeed.

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Fantastic to hear the panel at our latest report launch on Tuesday discussing the power of small business and what makes them so special and different. Thanks to Bill @IndeedWorks, Fran from @stamptastic_limited and Richard from @TSBbank To read the latest report and find out the latest inspiring statistics on how small businesses impact on the community please head to the link in the bio. #entrepreneur #smallbusiness #smallbiz #entrepreneurship #report #community #businessowner #inspiration #entrepreneurlife #smallbizowner #smallbizowners #supportsmallbusiness #supportsmallbiz #communities #smallbusiness #smallbusinessuk #smallbiz #smallbizowners #smallbusinessreport #smallbizsquad #smallbizowner #myownboss #businesstips #betheceo #savvybusinessowner #savvybusinessowners #supportsmallbusiness #buildyourempire

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Small businesses Focusing On Profit To Focusing On People

We discussed how Stamptastic is trying much more to bring both myself and Emma into the business through our social media. When we created Stamptastic back in 2010 we wanted it to look very slick and appear as a big brand. The illusion must have worked because many people are surprised when they find out that it's just Emma and I behind the business! Last year, we made a conscious decision to include ourselves in the business by documenting our family and work lives in Instagram Stories, trying to promote the fact that we are a Small Business more by applying for awards like The Small Business Awards and finally blogging regularly 😆 

Small businesses are offering much more flexibility (80% up from 70% last year) in the workplace

We spoke about how SME businesses are able to offer flexible working, not just in the hours that their employees work but also the location they work from. I explained that because of the seasonal nature of our business it isn't necessary to have full time staff all year round. However, in the School Summer Holidays when Stamptastic goes crazy we need a whole team helping us with customer service and production of the Personalised Rubber Stamps for naming school uniform. As a result flexible working is crucial for Stamptastic to operate on a daily basis and upscale smoothly when the Summer craziness strikes!

Well over 70% of small businesses say they have or would consider keeping a member of staff on even when they don't economically need them. 

Richard talked about how Small Businesses can adapt to keep staff on if they are no longer required, however, ultimately it would be foolish to keep on staff at the detriment to the business. Because if the business fails then everyone is out of a job. I wholeheartedly agree with this. What's tricky is that many small businesses employ family and/or friends, and then it's extremely difficult to let them go because the decision becomes emotional rather than practical/economical.

Small businesses have seen their positive impact on local factors such as school standards, reduction in poverty / unemployment, increased house prices rise in the last year.

Bill talked about the village in which he lives and how Small Businesses add to the community feel. Shopping a the local butchers makes you not only feel good for supporting Small Businesses but the owners are members of the same community, perhaps their kids go to the same school or you play Sunday football with them. Ultimately the majority of people would like to live in an area where there is a strong sense of community and so small businesses definitely add value.

It's hard to see our business having a direct impact on local factors because we are not a bricks and mortar shop, everything is online. However, our Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Rewards Scheme generates a lot of money for PTAs which are small charities supporting their local school. Last year we gave over £16,000 commission to PTAs registered with us and handed out over £20,000 worth of fundraising vouchers. 

Earlier this year I enjoyed a weekend away in Wales and we popped into Crickhowell after a boot camp class (don't ask!). Crickenhowell won Best High Street of the Year 2018 (Wales) and I can see why. It is not only beautiful but the shops are lovely. My friend who is a local, knew all the shopkeepers by name and they took great pride in their shops. If you haven't been it's definitely worth a visit and you will see why and how Small Businesses have a positive impact on local factors 😀

There is still a reticence from small businesses to reach out for business support outside friends and family - what can we do to help businesses get the support they need to grow and succeed?

This really resonates with me!! Emma and I often feel that we are reinventing the wheel! We had a mentor (who was an accountant) in the early days who helped us establish our roles in the business which was really helpful but very quickly we outgrew him and ultimately needed a mentor who had expertise of ecommerce, personalised products, exporting and importing. If you know of someone please send them our way 👀

I told the tale of how we needed help when importing a large amount of stock from outside the EU. I heard that there was a scheme whereby we could defer import VAT which would have been a real game changer when it came to our cashflow, bearing in mind that we are a seasonal business. However, after 6 months of form filling and finally getting approval we were then advised that the last thing we needed was a guarantee from the bank. In order to get this the bank required us to have £100k in the bank! Well, if we had £100k in the bank we wouldn't need the deferral would we 🙄. So frustrating! There must be a better way round it but I don't have the time to dedicate to attempt to resolve it again. 

I feel there is a real disconnect between Government (Central and Local) and Small Businesses.  There is help and information available but it's finding it that's the difficulty! 

Thank you to peak b for their really insightful for report and for inviting me to participate in their Q&A Panel.

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