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The Northbank Small Business Network


March 19, 2015

On Monday 23rd February The Northbank held an event to draw attention to the wealth of large and small businesses in The Northbank and how the community network can help each other with tips on how to prosper as well as encouraging a local buying culture. Featuring a stellar line-up and chaired by the Evening Standard’s Peter Bill, we had over 50 of our local small and large businesses in attendance and fantastic feedback.

Small Business Network (1)

Here’s what the experts said:

Emma Jones, Enterprise Nation

  • Great opportunities currently for smaller businesses to be selling to the larger, perhaps international, businesses; intra-area trading should especially be encouraged
  • Goverment is even prioritising trading with small firms; spending £375bn a year and buying 25% of all services and products from small British companies by May 2015. Small companies should familiarise themselves with ‘Contracts Finder’
  • Over the past couple years the attractiveness of a ‘Made in Britain’ brand has excelled in new markets, especially China. Every day 55,000 new babies are born in China, all of whom need clothes and toys and there is a growing demand for these to come from Britain. We also have vast international networks in London and The Northank, King’s College and LSE for example are dominant pots of potential – international students can come and increase London’s global status through jobs like translation
  • Success businesses are those that access advice and support of which there is a lot now, for instance the Growth Accelerator scheme, with support from big companies opening up accelerators like John Lewis’ ‘JLab’. Recently there has been less of a ‘them and us’ attitude between large and small businesses
  • The significant hold back for small businesses is space – pop up retail and home businesses are outgrowing their space and turning to co-working spaces like Somerset House. Coupled with a lot of space in London not being used to its full potential; we should be lobbying Government to help open up these spaces. Communities like The Northbank should work together to get landlords to create small business spaces

John Dickie, London First

  • The agenda for growth for London up to 2036 has been released. After a year of consultation this report breaks down London’s potential and what is needed to maintain its desirability as a World City. This is a critical time for London as it now has the largest population it has ever seen, outgrowing the 1939 peak in 2013. Business diversity must remain, making London the success it is.
  • The global hub – more grads, most visited. Econ shifting east. What to do next? Focus on emerging markets, openness to business , improve digi connectivity, focus on tech. Less Econ freedom The creative engine – potential, The city that works – challenges we face in infrastructure, housing cost and skills for less qualified Londoners And needs rest if country to realise
  • Creative technologies and tourism industry are key for growth of the economy and job growth, especially the lower skilled roles
  • The London Enterprise Panel has made digital connectivity the priority for London which is falling far behind other cities in connectivity, it is especially important to consider the cost and accessibility to smaller businesses.
  • Access to finance. London performs well but less well in further waves of funding to scale up.

Alistair Subba Row, Farebrother

  • It is important to network around The Northbank – use your local village
  • Likewise, working with other neighouring collectives like the Midtown Business Club (supporting 7 London villages, including Northbank) for a cohesive strategy. They can be exciting breeding grounds for businesses for a competitive edge
  • Enjoyment is key to the recipe of success

Mark Hislop, Somerset House

  • Top tips for success: 1. Seek collaboration where possible – as Emma Jones said in the Times; 2. Take risks, fail fast, learn quickly – like the US mentality – failing can be good
  • Somerset House is a unique hub for enterprise, the largest creative hub in Europe, it developed into a community work space for multiple small businesses straight after being a Government building. The Somerset House Trust learnt from America having studied the ecology of SME support in Boston

Alasdair Inglis, GROW

  • Good marketing ideas require strategic marketing
  • 5 key moves for strategic marketing:
  • 1. Email marketing has to be capitalised on; building up your own email list is key. It is a strong low cost option
  • 2. Re-marketing for instance Google Pay Per Click
  • 3. Blogging has to be executed regularly but will increase web traffic. There is a trend in paying journalists to blog on behalf of the company
  • 4. Do less admin, delegate more, do more marketing, your customers are a priority; like sprinters, the difference between gold and silver is milliseconds, make sure you push for that extra millisecond. Google Analytics will help to identify your exact audience
  • 5. Network

Christina Richardson, Brand Gathering

  • Brand Gathering is a multiple marketing business and successful small business; all in just 5 years
  • There are no silver bullets – creation takes hard work
  • Networking has been a key asset and “the sole reason for my first business working”. Ask for advice on how to actually make something from the bottom up. Simply ask for coffee, there doesn’t always need to be a direct link
  • Give your 10% back. It’s an ecosystem. Everyone needs help
  • Partnerships help to gain traction quickly. Target the customers you want and use your contacts promote to those customers in return for or in conjunction with something that will benefit your contacts
  • Listen to your customers, they have all the answers. At the start, describe your target customer as a single person and build a profile of them that you can identify with to make empowered decisions and start to mould your business around
  • Find that customer and reel them in. Social media is a strong marketing tool and allows you to listen to what they have to say – feedback will make for growth and allows the customer to take part in the business development and become emotionally invested
  • Never say you “don’t have time” for marketing, the customer is most important person to your business therefore the time has to be spent on marketing

Trewin Restorick, Hubbub UK

  • Hubbub is 6 months old and working closely with The Northbank BID as well as large organisations like Mothercare, and even lobbying Government
  • Creating a sense of greater worth is vital and businesses are realising this so Hubbub is using their expertise in sustainability to help large and small businesses to do so
  • Hubbub is working with the local neighbourhood to raise awareness of litter; Villiers Street is cleaned 7 times a day due to the large amounts of litter.
  • Projects can link large and small organisations to say something unique and often saves money in the long term by saving energy, for instance.
  • Small businesses gain from innovation and talking about positive topics which are attractive to big businesses

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