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13 top tips experts offered up at one day conference for small business owners

27 April 2023

13 expert speakers offered free advice to small business owners at the Business Gateway Growth Hub’s one-day conference.

The event – hosted by LLEP Board Members Glynis Wright MBE and Sonia Baigent – gave business owners a host of free practical tips.

As well as covering ideas for how to save money, it featured simple ways of driving growth – as well as a selection of stalls from regional business support providers.

Jennifer Thomas, Development Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), was among those at the event and speaking to attendees.

“Events like this are more important than ever to make sure businesses know that they can access support and to inform them about the support that exists,” she said.

“The future of business support is a really important and complex issue at the moment.

“There have been changes to European funding and with each council having its own funding there is a different picture across different areas which can often leave business owners unsure of what is out there for them.

“Events like this, where SME owners can network, hear expert speakers and meet organisations that do offer support, are invaluable. It’s encouraging to see so many people here taking advantage of what is on offer.”

Here are some of the tips made by the speakers:

  • Employ an apprentice – Leicester Employment Hub’s Alpa Chauhan and Shelley Drew talked about how an apprentice can help businesses expand their workforce while offering invaluable experience to young people.
  • Invest in skills – Anna Cyhan, the LLEP’s Economic Growth and Investment Officer, shared insights on different ways that businesses can invest in their skills pipeline and help students gain on the job experience, encouraging people into new industries.
  • Explore internships – De Montfort University’s James Billingham detailed the university’s funded internship programmes. Mutually beneficial to students and graduates and employers, the schemes which are fully funded allow students to gain experience of being in the workplace, while giving employers the chance to explore taking someone on permanently.
  • Work on wellbeing – Sally Newnham spoke passionately about the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. Tips from her included being curious and committing to creating better workplace cultures.
  • Negotiate on energy – Energy broker Azar Khan offered up tips on how businesses can best keep their energy bills in check, with researching the market and haggling on his to do list.
  • Perform an energy audit – Christiane Startin-Lorent, a Carbon Literacy Advocate, urged business owners to go away and go green. Her presentation included a walkaround checklist for firms to download and do – with the potential for results overnight. 
  • Undertake a health check – Host Sonia Baigent addressed the challenging issue of insolvency – and more specifically tips and signs of how to avoid it. Her presentation suggested ways for businesses to health check.
  • Be newsworthy – Saleem Arif set up Review Solicitors and other businesses. One of his top tips was to find angles that interest journalists to ensure exposure.
  • Weigh up your options – Going to court isn’t always the answer, according to lawyer Steven Mather. Seeking good advice and avoiding lengthy legal disputes that could become costly were among his suggestions.
  • Contacts are key – Sam Goddard, of St James Systems, talked about the importance of contacts and how to double business in a year – just by keeping it simple.
  • Look after staff – Stu Spencer, of Charnwood Accountants, gave top tips, including exploring ways of retaining and remunerating employees with schemes such as cycle to work and company cars.
  • Work smart – Caitlin Davies showed businesses the benefits of Microsoft 365 with a tour of some of the software giant’s most useful features and offered some productivity hacks.

You can now view the presentations seen by SME delegates at the Survive and Thrive conference in full at the link.

Pic: Some of the expert speakers pictured at the recent conference. Photo by Beth Walsh.