April 20, 2014

Could you build a business on a tenner?

ten pound notes

This year’s Make Your Mark with a Tenner competition got underway on Monday 1st March, with 30,000 students across the country aiming to turn a profit from a £10 loan over the next month by coming up with creative and enterprising business ideas.

But, that’s not all – their business ideas must also have a positive social impact and be of benefit to their local community. Indeed, there will be prizes at the end of the month for the students who make the most positive impact on their local community – one to one sessions with the likes of Dragons’ Den’s Peter Jones and other leading British entrepreneurs.

The other categories are Best Business Idea and Most Profit Generated, with the judging split into three age categories: under 11s, 11-14 year olds, and 14-19 year olds.

As well as the one-to-one sessions up for grabs, six winners will also each be awarded £100 to help them develop their entrepreneurial ideas, while a business mentor will provide them with the necessary help and support to really get their idea off the ground.

The competition is the brainchild of entrepreneur Oli Barrett, and this year is being funded by Peter Jones and Michael and Xochi Birch, the founders of Bebo.

When Make Your Mark with a Tenner first ran, the average profit made was £90, with the highest profit being £410. Once the £10 loan is repaid, students can re-invest their profits, give them away to a charitable cause, or even pocket them!

Peter Jones, chair of Enterprise UK, which runs the competition, said: “Make Your Mark with a Tenner harnesses the unrivalled energy and creativity of young people. Their fantastic achievements increase each year that we run it, proof that if you trust young people to act entrepreneurially they will rise to the challenge.”

So, what would you invest your tenner in?

Learn how to be a better leader

Follow footprints

Throughout March, Business Link is offering masterclasses in Becoming a Better Leader to small and medium-sized businesses in the East Midlands.

The masterclasses cover how to improve your leadership skills, and the techniques that you can employ to motivate staff and retain a competitive edge.

To qualify for one of these free events, being staged in Derby, Kettering, Woodhall Spa, Nottingham and Leicester, you must have been operating for at least twelve months and employ at least five staff.

For more information, visit the Business Link website and search for “Becoming a Better Leader”.

Are you getting value from your PR agency?

Tick boxes

The latest update of the Bellwether Report, published today, shows that whilst marketing spend declined for the ninth quarter running, PR budgets saw a slower rate of decline in the final quarter of 2009 compared to the previous quarter – from 24.4% down to just 4%. The report also shows that the rate of budget trimming in the industry is at its slowest since the first quarter of 2008.

Whilst times are undoubtedly still tough, these results suggest the industry can be optimistic about the year ahead, with marketing spend predicted to increase in 2010.

For those in the PR industry, the report underlines the importance of providing a service that delivers strong results and offers value for money. Whilst the green shoots of recovery are perhaps starting to surface, the recession continues to hit people and businesses hard and there is no guarantee that the renewed optimism within the PR industry will be replicated elsewhere.

Despite these positive findings, the purse strings of the average UK business are still a lot tighter than they used to be when it comes to budgeting for PR and marketing campaigns, and many might well still opt for the cheapest option rather than best option in this climate.

For businesses tempted to engage the services of a PR agency, finding the balance between value and price can be tough. Before you leap on the cheapest option on the table, here are some questions to help put ‘value’ in perspective:

Is saving money worth the risk?

If a painter does a bad job, you can always get someone better in to make it as good as new. The risk involved in opting for the cheapest provider is relatively low. Not so in marketing, where the risk of damage is much greater.

Any PR work undertaken will reflect on both your product and your company as a whole, helping to determine their success or failure potentially well beyond the duration of the campaign.

Is the pricing of the service blinding you to the true value?

Some agencies might seem expensive, while others might seem cheap, but neither is necessarily an indication of the quality of the service they offer.

Look at each option on the table and consider the agency’s track record and exactly what they are offering first. Once you have a sense of the hierarchy of quality, compare this against the prices. Is the cheapest agency offering the lowest value? You might be surprised, but equally you might simply find proof of the old adage, “you get what you pay for.”

Can the potential return on investment justify a higher spend?

While larger companies tend to have a tried and tested formula for setting the budget around a product or service launch, many smaller firms will simply set their budget based on a combination of what they feel they can afford at the time, balanced against the mean cost put forward by competing providers.

When you have all of your quotes in front of you, assess the potential return from each proposed campaign. In many cases, getting value for money may mean spending more, but you will get a better return in terms of campaign reach, support and quality. Pound for pound, the value could be higher.

Put simply, when setting your marketing/PR budget this year, remember: you’re not just paying for the hours worked, you’re also paying for the contacts, the support, the experts and, most importantly, the results.

Have you beaten the odds in Yorkshire or the Humber?

Rowing teamwork

Some individuals need to overcome more challenging circumstances than others to succeed in starting up their businesses.

If you run a small or medium sized business in the Yorkshire or Humber area, you might want to enter the Biz Awards 2009.

With a £4,000 prize fund on offer, the awards offer business owners to chance to win recognition for overcoming barriers like lack of funding or personal injury.

There are five categories open for entry:

  • Business of the Year Award
  • Enterprise through Innovation Award
  • Fastest Growing Business Award
  • Enterprise in the Community Award
  • Best New Start Award

Entry forms can be downloaded from Biz Awards 2009, and must be returned by email before Wednesday 6th May 2009. The awards are free to enter.

Would 10,000 GBP help unleash your business idea?

Electric spark wire

Winweb, the makers of OnlineOffice, are calling for anyone with a start-up idea or existing business to submit their details to the Business ’09 Competition for the chance to win cash to help make their venture a success.

Launched on November 17th 2008 during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2008, the competition is set to help one entrepreneur start or grow their business with a cash injection of £10,000.

You have until 11.59pm on 1st October to send in your entries, after which time, a panel of business experts (including LaunchLab.co.uk founder Dan Matthews and Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones) will short-list the 25 best ideas.

The shortlist will then go up for the public vote from 15th October, with the winner announced in November during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009.

Visit the WinWeb Blog or The Small Business Blog for more information.

Update: the deadline for entries has been extended to 31st October 2009 with the shortlist revealed after 15th November.