UK SME’s should support our exporters more.

We seem to forget sometimes that we are a very creative bunch. We generate great exports across drugs, medical equipment, music, games, engineered components and chip design (just mentioning a few).

Underneath it all is a large range of small supporting businesses covering strategy, design, IT support, parts engineering and logistic services. The shame is that we don’t seem to pull it all together very well. We become too locally focused.

Reduce our trade gap.

Let's make stuff and ship it!

I have worked with a lot of manufacturer/exporters over the years and when it works right, it works well. As SME businesses, maybe we should be asking ourselves, “What services & products could I be providing to aid the process? ”

We have reduced our trade deficit for the first time in a decade.  I want to help that continue. http://tinyurl.com/cnylfp7

Let’s make “made in Britain” a great term again.

OK, so I’m back!

I was wrong. I didn’t understand. I was stuck in my monetary self! I actually made cash out of social networking. Sorry!

I didn’t realise it was all about getting loads of friends so people could see how popular I was. I didn’t realise that I would never be as popular as Stephen Fry. Damn I missed the whole thing didn’t I?

Confused? Take a look at Dunbar’s Number Dunbar’s Number and Jaron Lanier Jaron speaks

Interested in the alternative views? Join me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or just send me an email at scott@toothbone.co.uk.

Why I don’t blog so much…

Social media – my experiment produced 3 clients over 12 months. I can get more for less effort through general networking. There is a process however. Comment me if you want to discuss further…

How the election results can change UK business.

So, 2010 sees British politics hung like a donkey – long, limp and pretty lack lustre. Or is it? I think we all may be in for a surprise. For the first time since the late 90’s the electorate seem engaged. This couch potato nation is back on it’s feet and clearly up for a fight. We voted for a change all right. We voted for an end to homogenised politics. Give us ropey policy and we’ll give you a mediocre mandate.

Can we all create big opportunities over the next term? I think so, but it has be led by the entrepreneurial spirit that we have lost during Labour.  We all got a little too comfortable and complacent, the money came a little too easily.

Innovative media, games, software, films, music, product design and engineering – that’s what we’re good at and that’s what we need to focus on.

And the Conservatives ARE the party for business (and that’s not intended to be a promo), so let’s keep reminding them to support us creatives more effectively.

This needs to be a ground up campaign. I want more business, they want more taxes. Sounds like a good match.

Wow! Today I’ve become a lobbyist.

Concentrate on the content and people, not mechanics.

Everyday I am bombarded by people telling me how to improve my company’s social media presence. “Increase your retweets” or “Link this app to this one!” they shout. It’s all very interesting, but in terms of generating B2B relationships, completely ineffectual.

In the last 12 months how many of your social network contacts have you referred business to or vice versa? In fact, how many have you even called?

Given the choice between a massive (and generic) obligation to the many, versus the provision of an excellent service to my chosen few, I’ll choose the latter every time. Dunbar reckons I can only deal with 150 of them anyway. See info on Dunbar’s number http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar’s_number

So here are my alternative Top 10 Tips for B2B social media:

  1. Concentrate on relevant content for your client and prospect base – quality, not quantity.
  2. Concentrate on developing relationships with the contacts who give you business already or ones who are happy to refer new contacts to you.
  3. Concentrate on no more than 150 client relationships at any given time. If the business is growing beyond that then hire more account management staff.
  4. Facebook is next to useless for maintaining exclusive business relationships. When friends and family find you, one casual comment can cause huge damage.
  5. Twitter is very valuable for sharing external and relevant content with your business network.
  6. Ask for recommendations from your network on LinkedIn or Plaxo (I don’t try to maintain both – too time consuming). Try to keep these recommendations at around 10% of your total network.
  7. Don’t be afraid to connect your contacts to each other. If you feel nervous about this, then there’s something wrong with your service – fix it!
  8. Update your network at least twice a year. Phone them, meet them and discuss how you can be helping one another – they want business too.
  9. Realise that those you don’t contact naturally are probably causing you stress or costing you money!
  10. Finally, focus on finding more people like the ones you already love!

Right, I’m off to disconnect from 76 people on my network.

When will government learn to support UK entrepreneurs effectively?

Strategy boards, knowledge transfer networks, development agencies, innovation centres, sector skills councils, workforce management schemes – the list goes on and on.

When will the government learn that all these “initiatives” will never work? Is it because they’re wrong to try to help? No. Is it because the people that work in them are not dedicated? Definitely not!

The failure of these organisations is solely based on their inability to appoint and fund commercial companies who have a proven track record in the business world (their hands are tied). Unfortunately, government programmes focus on “outputs” (statistics to make THEM look good), not profit – and the last time I looked my business survives and grows on the latter.

One of the only areas working well under this situation is university research access, but all too often UK tech inventors don’t need a bunch of students to test or seek out functionality – they need professional marketing, financial and HR assistance to get their ground-breaking products out there.

In the past year I have met with 17 government sponsored organisations. In each case my clients could, and would, offer exceptional value to the enhancement of UK competitiveness, but the answer was always the same, “Sorry we cannot be seen to part fund or appoint commercial organisations to help as other, like businesses, could call foul play.”

What a ridiculous notion. Government should be over-the-moon that successful companies have a desire and vision on how they can help – and at a highly reduced cost. But I suppose that when they can’t even decide on a stable brand name for their initiatives there’s little hope for anything changing fast.

Could we chase the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on this? Oh, sorry I mean BERR, no actually they have just changed their name again to BIS (The Dept. for Business Innovation & Skills).

I rest my case.

Is this How Twitter Could Make Money Out of Us?

Here’s 10 revenue ideas for Twitter without relinquishing their “no advertising” promise. All these concepts would reduce “noise” and allow us business users to focus on the groups of people we want to engage with.

  1. Charge a penny per tweet (but under 21’s continue to tweet for free).
  2. Colour code users (e.g. by age/business/interests etc.) with filters to exclude categories. Charge a small fee per exclusion selected.
  3. Analyse total user topics & activity types each month and sell reports on demographics and trends.
  4. Rent user data on opted-in individuals.
  5. Publish a quarterly e-book on the best tweets.
  6. Utilise the four branding pillars for Twitter products – what we watch, what we wear, what we listen to and what we play. This could further extend offerings across Facebook and YouTube as well.
  7. Provide a paid for monitoring service for top brands like Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, Apple, etc.
  8. Allow users to pay for and review more details on other users before “following” to ensure they are appropriate (e.g. $10 for 7 days on a maximum of 100 people viewed).
  9. Offer a premium account for businesses.
  10. Sell virtual coffee and addiction counselling (ok, just joking!).

Have I missed any?