Category: News

Start up creating a social buzz with growth and recruitment

A digital marketer who made the move to start her own agency in Leeds in the middle of a pandemic is already taking on staff as her new businesses grows.

Rebecca Hopwood moved into an office in Morley in December and has taken on an apprentice, with plans to take on another member of staff in the next few months.

Her company, Youbee Media, offers marketing services including social media, blog writing, online advertising, websites and email marketing.

“I started Youbee Media because I saw an opportunity to help businesses who may be affected by the pandemic to not only ‘ride it out’ but to actually do better than the previous year.

“I realised that many businesses needed help with their communications and simply didn’t know where to start,” said Rebecca, who has a degree in media and marketing from Leeds Trinity University.

The company, which has been given support by the AD:VENTURE business support programme, already represents 12 brands and works with clients including Saltaire Brewery, DTX Network Services and Yonda Sports.

Before the pandemic Rebecca had been commuting an hour and half each day to her job at an agency where she had worked since 2014. The lockdown made her re-assess her priorities.

“I had always wanted to run my own business. And working from home and seeing the world change in 2020, I decided that it was the time to act, be brave and make my stamp on the world,” said Rebecca.

As soon as she left her previous job, Rebecca turned to AD:VENTURE for help. She was given her own business mentor, the chance to attend workshops on everything from PR to legal matters, and a grant of £2,300 which she used to buy office equipment and furniture.

Rebecca in YouBee Media HQ

AD:VENTURE helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, and has provided more than £1.7m in grant funding since its launch at the end of 2016. In that time it has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and a number of regional partners including the areas 9 local authorities.

Rebecca said “I always wanted to have my own business, but was never confident enough to do it. But knowing that support was there really gave me that confidence and I knew I was not alone. Even knowing that I could have a mentor and share my concerns, plans and aspirations took some pressure off. I am so grateful for AD:VENTURE,”

“AD:VENTURE has given me the encouragement to keep going, when I could have quite easily given up. It has supported me financially, but also emotionally. I recommend the programme to any young businesses that I come across.”

Cllr Mary Harland, Executive Board Member for Economy & Culture at Leeds Council said: “Success stories like Rebecca’s show that even in the middle of a pandemic it is possible to start and grow a business if you have a good idea, the ambition to succeed and the right support in place.

“This is why it is so important for programmes like AD:VENTURE to support the private sector, especially in these difficult times, as ultimately the region’s social and economic wellbeing depends on our businesses thriving.”

For more information about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

AD:VENTURE Programme – New Tender Opportunity

West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

The delivery of a series of business growth workshop for pre -starts, start-ups and young business as part of the AD:VENTURE programme.

The West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce are looking to engage a number of contractors to deliver a series of workshops across the Leeds City Region as part of the AD:VENTURE business support programme.

The AD:VENTURE programme provides ERDF funded growth support to pre-start, start-up and young business in their first three years of trading in the Leeds City Region. For further details please see: www.ad-venture.org.uk

The AD:VENTURE Programme is part funded by European Regional Development Funding.

Requirement

 Contractors will be required to deliver;

  1. Virtual and physical workshops that cover the themes set out below. Physical workshops will be delivered at a specified venue, virtual workshops will be delivered via an online platform.
  2. Virtual Workshops are expected to last no longer than 1.5 hours, with approx. 1 hour of main content delivery, allowing 15 minutes for initial client registration and tech check, and around 15 minutes for client Q&A and workshop close down. Workshops delivered virtually may require two or more sessions to cover more in-depth content, where this is the case this will need to be delivered within a 7 day window.
  3. Physical Workshops are expected to be no longer than 3 hours, contractors will be expected to arrive at the specified venue at least 15 minutes prior to the workshop for set up purposes.
  4. Details of expected learning points and/or outcomes for participants. There should be a minimum of 3 learning points and /or outcomes. As a result of participating in a workshop an AD:VENTURE clients should have the additional skills, knowledge and tools to implement changes and improvement in their business. The contractor will need to provide appropriate resource such as; toolkits, checklists or action plan to enable and support client to achieve this aim.

Physical workshops will typically be delivered to a group of between 10-15 clients with a maximum of 20 participants (subject to room size), Virtual workshops will be delivered to a group of approximately 15- 20 clients with a maximum of 25 clients attending online, via the specified web conferencing software platform provided by AD:VENTURE. Physical workshops will be delivered in locations across the Leeds City Region. AD:VENTURE covers the following Local Authority Districts;

Harrogate, Selby, York, Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Craven, Bradford, Calderdale.

Number and frequency of workshops required will be determined by the programme and subject to demand from and popularity with AD:VENTURE participants.

Workshops should be engaging and interactive, enabling clients to ask questions and apply practical learning.

Workshop Topics

We are looking for providers that are able to cover the themes identified below. We would welcome proposals that offer specific topics that address areas identified within each of the key themes.

Please consider the section below as a broad description of the kind of proposals we would like to receive, rather than a prescriptive list of workshop titles or content. We would like providers to use their own experiences of working with this particular client group to propose workshop titles and content that will appeal to and address the needs of AD:VENTURE participants.

Providers can submit proposals for any 1 or more of the themes, and outline any number of proposed workshops under each theme to address the topics identified.

AD:VENTURE participants will come to the programme with different levels of existing knowledge & experience of the business topics below. To address this, where appropriate we would welcome proposal that include workshops or workshop series designed for these different levels of knowledge.

  1. Marketing Your New Business
  2. Customer Management
  3. Making Sales& “Selling” your Business
  4. Funding & Finance for Business
  5. Staff & Developing your Team 
  6. Business Strategy 
  7. Website Creation and Optimisation

Tender Open Date

Tuesday 16th March 2021

Deadline Date

Your response is required by: 12noon Wednesday 7th April 2021

How to return your Proposal

You are instructed to return your documents by email to:

events@ad-venture.org.uk

Emails must be clearly marked:

“Confidential – Ad: Venture workshop Provision Proposal”

 You MUST respond by the date and time indicated to be considered.

For full details please see the downloadable PDF document HERE 

Business Grants Manager

About Ad: Venture
Ad: Venture is a £22 million programme, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which supports new and young business across the Leeds city region to achieve their growth potential. The programme is managed by Leeds City Council and delivered and supported by a wide partnership of organisations, including local authorities, chambers of commerce, universities and social enterprises. The programme offers a range of different support including, grants, one to one advice and mentoring, workshops and events.

About the role
Ad: Venture is recruiting a Business Grants Manager to manage, lead and develop the business grants scheme Leeds CC administers on behalf of the Ad: Venture programme. The Ad: Venture grants team currently manages a scheme totalling £7.2 million which provides grants of between £1,000- £ 25,000 to new and young businesses in the Leeds City Region.

The role will be central to the delivery and on-going development of Ad: Ventures grant programme; managing and leading our team of grant officers, overseeing our systems and process to ensure high performance, and working across the partnership to ensure that our grant scheme provides an excellent client experience and meets their needs, while also fulfilling our commitments to funders.

About you

If you would like to discuss the role before apply please contact, Ad: Venture Programme Manager, Sarah Carling, at sarah.carling@leeds.gov.uk.

This post will be part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the Ad:Venture programme.

We promote diversity and want a workforce that reflects the population of Leeds. Leeds City Council is a Stonewall Top 100 employer, a Mindful employer and a Disability Confident employer.

All new Leeds City Council appointments are made subject to the satisfactory completion of a six month probationary period.

Contact Ad: Venture Programme Manager, Sarah Carling, at sarah.carling@leeds.gov.uk to discus the role.

Closing date – 11 March 2021

Salary – £38,890.00 – £41,881.00 – 37 Hrs PW Fixed Term till June 2023

APPLY HERE

Northern Max Accelerator – Meet the Spring 2021 Cohort!

We’re delighted to introduce the Spring 2021 Northern Max 10×10 Accelerator cohort.

These young digital and technology focused businesses joined the Accelerator programme from more than 23 applicants and we wish them a warm welcome to the Northern Max community.

At this time of COVID-19 we’re doubling down in our efforts to deliver Accelerator programmes that are both valuable and timely. The current pandemic has presented a whole new set of challenges for early-stage founders, so we’re excited to help our cohort businesses launch and scale and provide them with an online space to come together in a peer-support driven environment.

Over the ten weeks of the programme, the cohort will be offered a range of practical support, specialist workshops and expert mentoring as well as opportunities to access grants and the chance to pitch for potential investment.

They will also benefit from the support and expertise of Rav Panesar, Digital Enterprise Advisor at Bradford Council.

Northern Max Accelerator is being delivered virtually by Greenborough Business Management’s 10×10 accelerator programme in partnership with Bradford Council and AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Our new cohort’s details can be viewed below – take a look to see the wide range of businesses we’re supporting this Spring:

Beanie Media are a web design agency designing eCommerce solutions for businesses and retail brands who wish to sell their products online. They also provide online promotional services to support their clients.

Co-founder Melissa Roberts says:

“Beanie Media is a young digital agency, experienced in generating business growth through technology.

Youth is our point of difference in terms of the experiences we create. We bring together the brightest minds in digital marketing to keep brands at the forefront of what is possible. We use modern practices to craft experiences that are intuitive, engaging, impactful and enlightening.”

Brio Digital deliver IT solutions to businesses via staff or an associate model offering. An ethical brand, Brio works with specialist sectors, such as health technology, with three main areas of service – leadership, engineering and delivery.

Core Prescribing Solutions are a dynamic healthcare organization providing tailor-made primary care packages through a fully managed pharmacist or technician-led model suited to the needs of GP practices, primary care networks, GP federations and Clinical Commissioning Groups, reducing NHS reduce workload pressures and improving efficiencies.

Director of Business Development & Strategy, Adeem Azhar says: “Core Prescribing Solutions (CPS) is a dynamic healthcare organization that has amassed over 20 years worth of combined experience within the NHS, primary care, health informatics and pharmacy sector. CPS provides tailor-made primary care packages through a fully managed pharmacist or technician-led model suited to the needs of GP practices and clients in order to reduce workload pressures and streamlining inefficiencies. CPS can support with real life data driven solutions to improve patient outcomes and digitize healthcare”

Grapepedia is an interactive e-commerce site providing customers with detailed information about their wine of choice and local stock availability. There is also the option to buy wine directly from the site as well as membership of the Grapepedia wine club.

INC 360 is a community interest company tackling youth loneliness and promoting positive mental health through community events using immersive video.

Founder Steph Varley says “INC360 is a Community Interest Company looking to support young people experiencing loneliness and isolation, by connecting them to community events using immersive video. Currently funded by money raised through a successful Crowdfunder in summer of 2020, we are focussing on developing our research to enable a service for children and young people in a variety of situations, bringing the Yorkshire community closer to them and their families in a safe and accessible way.

We support our service users by promoting open conversations with family and friends, building their confidence and relieving the anxiety felt around getting back involved in social gatherings. We combine discussion, hands-on activities and immersive technology to develop young people’s resilience, all whilst letting them have some fun.”

Intentionally Left produce sound art on a large scale for publicly funded projects. They are currently developing a subscription model app to deliver music and video for people live streaming in their homes, creating the kind of immersive experience that has disappeared due to the current pandemic.

iStreetShop is an e-commerce company born of a drive to support local shops and keep people shopping locally rather than through purely online retailers. Though providing a solution similar to Amazon, iStreetShop only sells products from retailers with a bricks and mortar shop.

Toby Butcher, founder, says “iStreetShop allows Bricks and Mortar Stores to put themselves easily online and helps to increase the sales conversion rate and footfall in their Shop.

With the help of iStreetShops unique built-in geolocating software, iStreetShop helps Shoppers find Products and Shops near to them, and allows Shoppers to either buy via Click and Collect or to add Products to their Shopping List for when they are next in town.

By creating a single online marketplace for Bricks and Mortar Shops, iStreetShop provides a platform for Shops to compete and fight back against Online Retailers, without having to turn themselves into Online Retailers. iStreetShop deals with the Online site maintenance and advertising (Google, Bing, Instagram, Facebook, etc), while allowing Shop Owners to add or remove Products from their Online Shop, initiate Sales and update Product availability in real time from their Phone or Computer.”

JB Digital specialises in Digital Transformation and Technology Modernisation programmes for businesses but looking to grow to deliver to both the public and private sectors.

Digital agency Jublo provide a full range of digital services from digital strategy to website design and build. They are also a certified translation agency, helping clients take products to market both in the UK and internationally.

Founder and MD Joshua Atkins says

“Jublo is a certified UK translation and digital agency and we work with a team of over 160 people across 39 countries from developers to linguists to project managers which allows us to work with experts in their fields. We’re an incredibly agile and scalable company which allows us to adapt to the needs of our clients and this approach has seen us work with social media giants such as Facebook, leading online retailers as well as smaller automation and IT companies based in Leeds. We develop long-term relationships with all our clients and our team are empowered to work flexibly around their commitments and lives.”

Legend Communications are an internet services and telecoms provider, that also provide data centre services. They launched an Internet Exchange in Bradford in November 2020 and there are plans to build a new data core network to deliver even faster connectivity for business.

Leuly PR are a PR and marketing consultancy, working predominantly with clients in the digital and technology B2B sectors. Expanding rapidly, they offer a range of services including strategic public relations, creative social media campaigns and photography.

MobiFuel is the first on demand fuel delivery service in the North, delivering to private and corporate clients through an app.

Director Murad Mirza said “MobiFuel is the first on-demand fuel delivery service in the North. Just think, the Uber of fuel. Simply put, we bring the petrol station to our customers, saving them time and money. For businesses this means no more hidden costs typically associated with fuel cards, better productivity, increased revenues and a greener way of refueling their fleet. For residential customers, no more waiting around in petrol station queues! Whether at work, gym or at home, just tap on our app and have us fill up your car”

Navant Lighting develops bespoke lighting and lighting components for RVs, motorhomes and boats.

Orcula provide event technology, registrant and delegate management and event websites. They have developed a new onsite badge printing and registration system, and they are now developing that to facilitate contactless events, through facial recognition and other technologies.

Out of Place Studio are a full-service digital design agency specialising in the cultural sector. Due to COVID-19, they had to pivot their market and are now aiming to develop more digital products and services.

Sched Ltd have developed a B2B booking and membership platform aimed at the fitness sector, but with broader applications.

Joel at Sched says “Sched (as in schedule) is a booking and payments platform – features include recurring scheduled events, one off events, pre-recorded video content as well as live broadcast events, monthly memberships and payments – built by industry experts to support fitness and wellness businesses, using cutting edge technologies and securely hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud. The platform provides all the tools necessary for a small or large business to succeed – to acquire, engage and retain your end customers. As a team we are highly customer led with a published product roadmap, taking suggestions and votes on new features. We can also help out with bespoke marketing websites or implementation services to truly embed our platform within your business and give you the best chances of succeeding.”

Tribus IT deliver project management in software, particularly around agile software, as well as software testing.

James Clark, director says: “TribusIT is an IT services company. We have two main areas of specialisation;

  • Atlassian Software configuration, support and licensing, including the popular Jira, Confluence and Service Desk products – we’re Atlassian’s only solutions partner in Yorkshire
  • Non-Functional Testing services, including Performance, Resilience, Monitoring, IT Ops procedures and Security

We’re based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and serve clients all over the UK.”

And that’s the 2021 Cohort.

We’ll be sharing the progress of the businesses and the programme, so watch this space for updates!

Yorkshire business support programme shortlisted for financial award

A Yorkshire business support programme, which has helped hundreds of new businesses, has been shortlisted for a financial award.

AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, is one of the finalists in the Yorkshire Financial Awards 2021. It is shortlisted in the Accelerator category alongside others including Barclays Eagle Labs and Natwest Accelerator.

Programme manager Sarah Carling said:

“Every day at AD:VENTURE our team and partners work hard to support the ambitious, innovative and resilient entrepreneurs we have here in Yorkshire. We were delighted to have that hard work acknowledged by being invited to enter these awards and even more delighted to be shortlisted.”

The awards, now in their fourth year, are designed to highlight the excellence of individuals, teams and organisations connected to finance across Yorkshire. Other finalists include Lloyds Banking Group, Leeds Building Society and Chase de Vere. The final will be held online on February 25.

AD:VENTURE has provided more than £1.7m in grant funding and helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since its launch at the end of 2016.

The programme offers workshops, masterclasses, one-to-one mentoring and access to finance. Since the first lockdown, delivery has switched to online, with over 100 online events, attended by more than 1300 delegates.

“The last year has been particularly tough for businesses, and we know that the support the programme provides has been more important than ever.” said Sarah

“The last year has been tough for businesses and we know how important our support is. We have moved mountains to keep on delivering and have actually seen the number of enquiries up by nearly a third,” said Sarah.

“We have continued to run our services and be there for businesses. And despite Covid we have seen amazing success stories. We know that every success story leads to a boost for the local economy and ultimately AD:VENTURE is all about helping the local economy.”

Plans for this year include a new scheme called Elevate for businesses in Kirklees, with advice available from academics at Huddersfield Business School, and Northern Max for young digital and technology-focussed firms in Bradford, a scheme that has already been run successfully three times.

AD:VENTURE is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region, including the region’s nine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund, Leeds Beckett University, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

There are eligibility criteria and some sectors, including retail, are not eligible, but among the companies that have been given support are those offering training, HR support, digital and design services, specialist manufacturing, health and wellbeing, and electrical services.

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

For more information about Yorkshire Financial Awards, or to watch the event online, go to www.yorkshirefinancialawards.co.uk

Image – Andy Jack and Mark Langdale of Candle Digital – Previous AD:VENTURE Clients.

Leeds childhood friends reunite to spark success

Two former childhood friends from Leeds have reunited to create an award-winning electrical business with a turnover of £2.5m.

Andy Stoner and Dan Coombe set up National Safety Inspections (NSI) in 2017 after spotting a gap in the market.  The company, which has just expanded into bigger offices, specialises in electrical testing for letting agents and landlords.

NSI employs 20 people at its headquarters in Armley, having taken over an extra floor just before Christmas to accommodate more staff, and has 25 engineers across the UK.

The pair, who used to walk to school together in Tingley, kept in touch even though Dan moved to Scotland and worked in sales. Andy, meanwhile, worked as an electrician and a lecturer in Leeds.

In 2017 a chance conversation led them to realise they had the perfect combination of skills to create a start-up, with Dan having extensive sales experience from medical sales to solar panels, and Andy having knowledge of electrical safety. Andy also knew that few companies specialised purely in electrical testing.

Dan said: “Out of the blue me and Andy spoke to each other about the idea of setting up and just offering testing, and then we just said, let’s do it. So, I moved back to Leeds.

“We were ambitious to be national even as a start-up. That’s why we called ourselves National Safety Inspections, even though we were just in a little office in the city.”

By the end of 2017 they had taken on three staff and were working for several student letting agencies. But then they realised a new law due to come in would open up even more opportunities. The new rules, which didn’t actually come in until June 2020, meant private sector landlords would have to carry out electrical checks every five years.

Andy said: “Student lets were pretty good at doing electrical checks, but the private sector needed to catch up. We realised if we were going to get the work we would have to scale up and get ahead of the game.”

That was when they turned to AD:VENTURE, a  programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). They were successful in applying for two grants through the programme, one for £4,300 towards a comprehensive CRM system, and another of over £14,000 towards equipment, including laptops for engineers out on the road, and website development and SEO.

Andy Stoner and Dan Coombes outside the new NSI HQ

“Most electrical companies do testing as a side-line. They do it with a view to getting installation work. But we just do the testing and so we needed to put the resources into that and be able to do it well and efficiently,” said Andy.

By the start of 2020 Andy and Dan had 15 staff and had signed with several letting agencies. Then lockdown struck, but it turned out to be perfect timing.

Andy was invited to take part in an AD:VENTURE accelerator called Northern Max. Through that he was given a mentor who helped both him and Dan realise they needed to re-think their approach in order to successfully scale the business.

“It made us change focus. Rather than working in the business, it got us to allocate more time to working on the business. We could have stopped at 15 staff, but we wanted it to be bigger. So, we took on someone to do business development and two more sales staff,” said Andy.

The growth didn’t stop there. NSI finished 2020 with 45 staff, creating 30 new jobs through 2020, with engineers across Yorkshire, Lancashire, the north east, the midlands, and down to Reading and Oxford. And they have plans to extend into the rest of England and grow to 100 staff this year.

In 2019, and again in 2020, NSI won the best in sector for electrical services to the estates and lettings sector in the ESTAS awards, which are considered the Oscars of the industry.

Dan said: “It’s not bad for two lads from Tingley who used to climb over the fence to see each other and play out and walk together to school every day. I am not sure if you’d told us about this then we would have believed it could happen!”

AD:VENTURE’s  funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the LEP and NP11, said:  “We really applaud what NSI have done; spotting a gap in the market and going for it. That is true entrepreneurship and something we really want to encourage. 

“By innovating in their business, Andy and Dan are creating the prosperity and the jobs that we need for the local economy. Their success shows that with a good idea, hard work and practical support it is possible to build a thriving business even in these difficult times, and to support the economic recovery.” 

To find out more about AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/

Small Business Sunday win for Sustainability Startup!

DH PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS SBS WINNER

A Yorkshire start-up who tweeted The Small Business Sunday competition this Sunday was given a massive boost when they were announced as one of the 6 national winners, reaching an audience of over 500K on Theo Paphitis’ #SBS twitter feed.

Danielle Heward, director and owner of DH Professional Solutions decided to enter the competition as a way to raise the profile of her growing start-up.

Danielle said “I’ve been working really hard to market my new business, and had seen the competition and benefits so I thought why not! I was over the moon when I saw the notification saying I was a winner, and I look forward to taking full advantage of the benefits it brings.

“The impact on my social media following was immediate, and I have already gained lots of new followers. I also know because it’s a business audience, it’s also reaching my target audience, which is great”

One of Danielle’s key business values is to make a difference; aiming to make the world a better place for our future generations, by providing business improvement services to social and eco focused businesses. It was this mission, detailed in Danielle’s tweet, that led to her being selected as a winner.

The weekly initiative, set up by Theo in 2010, now has over 2,500 #SBS winners and supports small businesses in the UK.

Anyone looking for a re‐tweet from Theo should tweet him about their business on Sunday between 5 PM and 7.30 PM and include the hashtag #SBS. Six lucky businesses are re‐tweeted every Monday at 8 PM and then invited to enter their profile on the new website, attend the annual #SBS networking event and take advantage of the networking opportunities.

Five Agency Trade Secrets for Building Brilliant Small Business Websites

Picture of the Other Things Agency

If you’re reading this then you’re probably thinking about building a website for your business. That’s a great start, because if you don’t have a website then you could be missing out on a ton of business that might not come your way otherwise.

Having a well-made website can help with the perception of your brand and help to build trust with your potential customers.

But where to begin? The team at my creative agency, Other Things, has built successful websites for some of the world’s biggest brands. We also work with start-ups that want a shortcut to website excellence.

When we did the brilliant AD:VENTURE Northern Max accelerator program last year, we met a lot of start-up founders who were looking for varying degrees of help with building their own websites. Should they make it themselves or get help from the professionals?

There’s no silver bullet to it, and every business is different, but there are a few bits of advice that apply to many if not most small business website builds.

I’m going to list some of them for you:

1) You CAN Build It Yourself

If you’ve got a social media profile and you know your way around the internet, you can build yourself a website. There are some well-established services out there (such as Wix, or Shopify if you’re looking for an online store) that will hold your hand through the process.

That said, it might be awful and do more harm than good for your brand. I mean, you could tailor yourself a cocktail dress if you really wanted to. Doesn’t mean it will be any good.

Still, if you stick to the pre-defined templates, have a decent eye for design and can string a meaningful sentence together then you should be able to create a simple website that meets your business’ needs.

2) You Don’t Have to Figure It All Out From Scratch

Take a look at your competitors and other businesses that you admire. What are they doing on their websites? What are they doing badly, and what are they doing well?

What ideas can you draw inspiration from that would work with your website and brand?

That’s not to say that you should create a carbon copy of a competitor’s website, or plagiarise their copy and messaging, but you will likely identify some things that you think they do well and then you can put your own spin on them.

3) .co.uk Might Not Be the Way

If the .com domain name that you want is not available, but the .co.uk one is, it still might not be the best option.

People searching for your brand will probably find you either way, but you will inevitably and inadvertently be sending traffic to the .com version of the website domain. Not great, especially if it’s a competitor or a brand that could be mistaken for yours.

It’s still worth buying the .co.uk domain if it’s going cheap, and if you only ever plan to trade in the UK, but better to rack your brains for that .com domain name. Common ways around this are to add ‘we are’ or ‘this is’ in front of a brand name e.g. weareyourbrandname.com

We experienced this at Other Things, and we opted to go for otherthingsagency.com (we also grabbed otherthings.xyz to be what’s known as a ‘vanity URL’, but that’s another story…)

4) Cut to the Chase

When people visit your website, what action do you want them to take or what opinion of your brand do you want them to leave with? Make the fulfilment of these things the filter for all of your website-related decisions.

But don’t beat around the bush. Keep your choice of words and messages short and to the point. Challenge yourself to say what you need to say in as few words as possible, right up front on the home page, so that visitors know exactly what your business offers straight away.

This is your website content, and visitors to your site will form an impression of your brand based upon it.

It’s an area where professional help might be worth investing in if you’ve no experience in writing or producing content for the web. But if you want to DIY then keep it simple. Avoid using crappy Word art or DIY sketches. Stock photography can be great, but some of it is very cheesy. If you don’t think you can tell the difference then rope in someone who can.

And make sure you proofread it ad nauseum. If you’re not confident in that area, have somebody who knows how to properly use an apostrophe take a look at it.

5) Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel

Usability is essentially how well people can use your product to achieve their goal, and websites more often than not are built to a format that is familiar to the average visitor so that they can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

At Other Things we love to see experimentation in this area, but if you’re looking to DIY build yourself a website for your business and you have little experience of doing such things then sticking to the ‘norms’ is your best bet. No need to reinvent the wheel. It will probably just confuse your visitors.

If you use a website building platform (such as Wix, Gator or Squarespace) there are templates and ‘themes’ that are put together with usability in mind. You won’t be winning awards for website innovation, but visitors to your site will have a better chance of navigating around your website nice and easily and developing a positive impression of your brand.

These platforms can also take care of some of the basic nuts and bolts stuff around hosting your website on the internet, and help you avoid pitfalls with potentially baffling things such as optimising it for mobile, SSL certificates, SEO and other acronyms.

So there you have it. The above is by no means comprehensive or universally true, but it might help set you on the right path if you’re considering how to build your small business website.

If you’re going DIY then keep things simple, utilise the templates and simplifying tools available to you and don’t go too left-field with your creative ideas. You’ll learn something and maybe even enjoy it.

And if it’s terrible, at least you tried. Give a good agency or freelancer a call and they’ll see you right.

Matt Hitchcock is the co-founder and Managing Director of Other Things, an alternative creative agency that specialises in producing disruptive advertising and marketing solutions for the gaming and entertainment industries.

www.otherthingsagency.com

Photo credit: Jodie Beardmore (www.jodiebeardmorephotography.co.uk)

Three young entrepreneurs from Yorkshire & the Humber win national award

Casey Woodward Agri Sound Founder

Three of this year’s Young Innovator Award winners, recently announced by Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust, are from Yorkshire & the Humber. Antoinette Adams, Michael Omotosho and Casey Woodward have started the new year with a boost after winning a coveted award for their new business projects.

The innovators from Yorkshire & the Humber looking to make the world a better place are:

  • Casey Woodward (29 years old), York – whose company AgriSound, uses the Internet of Things for the remote monitoring of beehives and allows beekeepers in Yorkshire to monitor the hives – from what their producing to the health of the colony – in real-time.
  • Antoinette Adams (29 years old) – whose founded JWEL, a jewellery company with a difference. Antoinette’s Mother Earth collection, for example, sees her collaborate with a community of reiki healers and yoga teachers, to create a bespoke chakra experience for the individual customer.
  • Michael Omotosho (28 years old) – whose Plugull, an electrical plug pull that makes it easier to remove stiff or fiddly plugs from sockets is designed to help those suffering from loss of dexterity and arthritis

The Young Innovators Awards recognise young people from across the UK with great business ideas who have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs and future leaders in innovation. Following an unprecedented level of entries, with an 87% increase in applications year-on-year, 64 young people have started the New Year with a boost after getting the coveted award, double the number of award winners/recipients of previous years. With recent research showing over a third of 18 to 34 year olds want to launch an independent enterprise in 2021, compared to 28% of 35 to 54 year olds, it’s even more important the support is available to those who want to venture into starting a business.

The winners from Yorkshire & the Humber, are three of 64 inspiring young people who will receive Young Innovators awards this year, each benefitting from a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching and an allowance to cover living costs. The programme is set to continue awarding young people from diverse backgrounds until at least 2023. This year, 49% of the winners are female; nearly a third are Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority background; 17% have a disability and the projects cover all regions across the UK.

From a way to help stroke survivors on the road to rehabilitation to support for parents to protect their children online, all of this year’s Young Innovators have ideas that promise to address current challenges. Ideas this year span everything from technology to physical and mental health and from sustainability to fashion.

Commenting on their award and plug pull product helping those suffering from loss of dexterity and arthritis, Michael Omotosho said, “It is very easy to attach and use – and great for colour and cable management, with a glow in the dark option for night-time visibility. I would like the opportunity to grow my business idea and gain the support needed to achieve commercial success.”

Similarly, Casey Woodward, said, “We have developed a core line of products for beekeepers which enable real-time monitoring of beehive productivity and colony health, from any web browser, which are now sold via a UK distributor. I’ve applied for the programme to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and benefit from the diversity of businesses around us.”

Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Innovate UK says: “With 2020 proving to be an incredibly difficult year, maintaining our focus on Young Innovators was a priority for Innovate UK since finding the great entrepreneurial minds of the future is more important than ever. Working alongside this year’s winners, Innovate UK will help them grow and develop their business idea to make the world a better, and more innovative place. We can’t wait to see what they achieve this year.

Amanda Solloway Science Minister said: “While the past year has brought significant challenges for us all, it has also shone a light on the best of British ingenuity, with young people across the country harnessing their entrepreneurial spirit to help the UK respond to these challenges.

“From mobile apps supporting our brilliant NHS staff to online mentoring tools helping graduates find employment, the inspiring business ideas we are backing today will help to unleash our next generation of innovators as we build back better from the pandemic.

Details on all 64 Young Innovators can found here. If you’re an inspiring young innovator, check out how Innovate UK could support you here: https://ktn-uk.org/programme/young-innovators/

Saltaire therapy centre celebrates 1 year of improving the area’s mental health

The Victoria Therapy Centre opened in January 2020 to provide mental health services to those in and around the Shipley area.

Based in a prominent listed building on Victoria Road, the owners Neil and Helena Dowsland said: “We wanted to create a comfortable and purpose designed setting with a high street presence in order to make a visit to a psychotherapist or counsellor as easy to access as possible and as normal as a trip to the dentist.

The centre is a base for a number of qualified psychotherapists who offer a range of therapies including counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye-Movement De-sensitisation and Re-processing (EMDR).

Neil himself is a qualified psychotherapist: “Our team have a range of skills, qualifications and styles meaning we are able to cater for a wide range of clients whatever their individual needs.”

The Victoria Therapy Centre has also run a successful community event, Time To Change (time-to-change.org.uk), back in February where the centre was opened up to anyone passing for a cuppa, a piece of cake and a chat about mental health. The aim being to help end the stigma around the subject.

This start-up business is keen to thank Ravinder Panesar and the team at AD:VENTURE, an ERDF funded business start-up scheme offered through Bradford Council. “Rav and the team offered us some useful advice and insight initially on getting things up and running. It was important for us to hear an independent expert’s thoughts” said Helena.

 

However, little were the team to know on opening of the dramatic changes that were soon to make a huge impact on the nation’s mental health. As Helena said: “Not only have the fears surrounding COVID affected anxiety levels but the practical impact has affected our ability to access mental health services.”

Consequently, the therapists were quick to implement online therapy sessions during the initial lockdown so managed to continue many of its services throughout this period. However, the centre has now re-opened albeit with strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place.

Neil said: “The first year has been a real success despite the major setbacks and we are starting 2021 increasing our availability further and the range of therapies we offer enabling us to help more people.”

To find out more visit: www.victoriatherapycentre.co.uk