Investment community to focus on inclusivity and support

Originally written by Stephanie Spicer on Small Business

A programme designed to help investors to in turn help and support the business they invest in has been launched.

Mindful Investor was devised by Guy Tolhurst of alternative investment research source for financial advisers, Intelligent Partnership, after he recognised a need to establish fairer, more responsible and holistic investment practices across the UK business investment community.

The mindful Investor programme operates through key stages: assessment; report and road map.

Assessment looks at how an investor works with employees and SME owners; the report measures the investor against a set of principles and shows the investor how diverse and inclusive it is and the road map stage shows how an investor can support better health, well-being, culture and environment itself and within the business it invests in.

Tolhurst says he wants to create a “more inclusive and supportive financial ecosystem, by encouraging investors to put people and profits on an equal footing and pay more attention to the diversity and well-being of the teams they invest in”.

It is hoped the programme will drive a cultural change towards more socially responsible investment into Britain’s small and growing businesses, focusing on the benefits of financial capital to help businesses grow and the importance of emotional, intellectual and human capital to support business founders.

It is the mental health of these founders that is at the root of the programme, launched with the backing of partners such as Mental Health First Aid England, Harley Street Therapy, weare3sixty and The Self Space. Participating investment firms will receive training and support across a range of priority areas – from mental and physical health, to diversity and inclusion, communication and unconscious bias. Those who complete the annual assessment and meet the required standard will be awarded a Mindful Investor ‘kitemark’.

Guy Tolhurst said: “Entrepreneurship is in vogue, up and down the country people are starting-up or scaling-up – innovating, disrupting and having a go. It’s inspirational and long may it continue. This entrepreneurial spirit is boosting productivity and skills development, making the UK the third most popular place for start-ups in the world. But while policy intervention and innovation has tackled some of the ‘access to finance’ problems, capital isn’t reaching everyone and the essential support our founders need is lacking.

“Investors can deliver huge value and impact beyond investment, providing an unparalleled support network when done right. They and entrepreneurs alike need to be responsible with other people’s money though. Businesses aren’t slot machines, they’re a collection of people united behind an idea, vision or mission.

“With heightened expectations and little experience in the highs and lows of running a high growth business, some entrepreneurs can find themselves responsible for an investor’s cash without having had the chance to build up the skills, resilience and support network they need to succeed. This can lead to burnouts, breakdowns and eventually founders being forced out of their own brainchild.

“Through Mindful Investor we aim to create a more supportive and inclusive investment culture, by encouraging investors to pay closer attention to the wellbeing and diversity of the teams they invest in.”

Simon Blake, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England said: “More and more leaders in the commercial world are waking up to the fact that positive mental health, diverse workforces and business success go hand in hand. And the investor community should be no exception.

“Rapid change and transition in any environment can create challenges which impact our mental health – both positively and negatively. For entrepreneurs and start-ups this is their day-to-day, so it is really encouraging to see initiatives like Mindful Investor setting out standards for investment practices that put people and profit on an equal footing.

“Implementing Mental Health First Aid England training into a best-practice approach will ensure that people working in this sector are never more than one conversation away from a listening ear or a guiding hand to help them access mental health support.”

Roderick Beer, strategic relations director of the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) said: “As the UKBAA acts as the voice of the angel investment community in the UK, we strive to be responsible for fostering an inclusive and supportive investment ecosystem that embraces a real diversity of great entrepreneurs. We believe that helping our investment and advisory members to fully support their investee companies to excel is a top priority that will yield dividends for all.

“The Mindful Investor programme is a timely and valuable development tool that will help the UK’s diverse business angel and early-stage investment communities strengthen their relationships with entrepreneurs by focusing more on wellbeing and diversity. Together we can make sure that we fully support the people that are taking small business success to new heights across the whole of the UK.”

Further reading:

Regional investment growth – investors called on to narrow the investment gap

Tips on how to pitch to potential business investors

 

Investment community to focus on inclusivity and support

Source: SmallBizUK

I pay a videographer to track my every move – podcast

Originally written by Anna Jordan on Small Business

Welcome back to Small Business Snippets, the podcast from SmallBusiness.co.uk.

In this episode, Anna Jordan chats to Peter Watson, managing director of social media marketing agency, Distract. He explains how he uses his personal brand to represent his business and why he thinks that Twitter is dead.

You can listen to it here:

Peter Watson: ‘I pay a videographer to track my every move’

We’ve also got podcast episodes looking at:

To find out more about Small Business Snippets, you can also download the trailer.

If you want to listen to the podcast elsewhere, it’s available on iTunesGoogle PlaySoundCloud and Spotify.

Be sure to visit SmallBusiness.co.uk for more articles around building a brand.

While you’re there, remember to like us on Facebook @SmallBusinessExperts and follow us on Twitter @smallbusinessuk, all lower case.

I pay a videographer to track my every move – podcast

Source: SmallBizUK

Building and designing your perfect website

Originally written by Partner Content on Small Business

With so many templates, themes and options out there when it comes to building and designing a website, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and what exactly your new business website needs to do.

Similarly, it can be easy to get carried away and add all sorts of funky features that could potentially impact your website speed and confuse your customers.

Here are some of the main points to consider when you begin thinking about designing your website, with links to handy articles and guides.

Who will design and build your website?

There are a couple of options for you to consider when it comes to the actual building and designing of your new website.

Many online web builders allow you to create your own website using simple drag-and-drop functions and themes. You can investigate some of the top options to use here. When you buy a domain name from a registrar, occasionally they will offer web builders as part of a package, so keep an eye out to explore that option too. These options allow you to have more control over how your website looks and functions, as well as being the more cost-effective option. It’s also a great opportunity to learn, and although you won’t need to be familiar with coding, it opens up the chance to branch into the world of code if you want to.

However, if you find the thought of DIY website building a little overwhelming, you don’t think you can give it the time it needs, or you’d just feel more comfortable handing the responsibility to someone more experienced, you can look to outsource the work to an agency or freelancer. This series of articles will help you find out what to expect from the process.

Purpose

Make sure that you map out what the purpose of your website is, and what you want it to achieve. This will be directly aligned to your business goals, for example, restaurants may want to display menus and take bookings on their websites, whereas retailers may want to provide store opening times and locations.

Once you know exactly what you want your website to do, you can start mapping which features and components will work for your business model. For example, that restaurant website may need a booking form, whereas the retailer may want an interactive map feature. However, remember that your website design isn’t set in stone and you can tweak and improve pages and features as you start to learn what works well and what could do with some improvement as your website matures.

For some inspiration around website design, click on the sector you’re most interested in below to see some great examples of real websites and notes on what makes them so effective:

Branding

Make sure that you keep your branding in mind when designing a website, especially if you are creating an online presence for a business that has already been established for some time. If you’re a retailer with a physical presence you want to make sure that your website aligns with your store.

Think about the following when creating your website, and although it could be tempting to use that fluorescent colour theme on your site, if you don’t naturally use this tone of colour in your branding it could become disjointed and confusing for visitors. Keep in mind:

  • Colours
  • Font
  • Language
  • Image style
  • Target audience

User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) refers to the overall experience of using your website, including how simple and pleasing it is to use. There are some basics that all website owners should think about when designing a new site that will help visitors navigate and use the site without problems. Some of these include clear navigation, accessibility for people with disabilities, page speed and flaws in the customer journey. You can learn more about delivering great UX (on a budget) here.

Let’s just focus on the website speed point, or the time it takes for your site to load or for visitors to move between functions like pages and payment screens. It’s one of the most important things to have in mind when designing a website. Not only does it allow visitors to use your website smoothly and without frustration, it’s also a pretty major ranking factor for Google and reduces bounce rate. You can learn more about website speed here.

Making your website work for you

This last point expands slightly from the main design of your website to introduce the options that are available to further personalise and make your website work for your specific aims and goals.

We’re talking mainly about the CMS (content management system) functions here and the options to install plugins that could help you in the future. Plugins are additional programmes and tools you can add to the back end of your website to help with optimising and maintaining your site.

There are many plugins available to help with a range of functions, such as improving SEO and backing up data, you can find five of the top ones for WordPress in this article.

To learn more about web design head to the UK Domain’s dedicated category where you can find more helpful articles and guides.

This article was brought to you in partnership with the UK Domain.

Further reading on creating a website

Building a business website: what key steps are involved?

Building and designing your perfect website

Source: SmallBizUK