@Inc Creative Workspace News

Coworking space in Bury St Edmunds
  • MENTA predicts growth of small businesses in East Anglia

    • by @inc
    • 01-06-2022
    0.00 of 0 votes

      MENTA predicts growth of small businesses in East Anglia Following its May AGM, MENTA Business Support, the Suffolk and Norfolk based not-for-profit business support organisation, announced further growth plans for 2022/23 as it looks to support entrepreneurs in the region. MENTA provided business advice and support to more than 270 local businesses, 85 serviced business space tenants, 150 freelancers and micro businesses and 1,400 individuals focused on self-employment last year.   MENTA can offer tailored packages of support for a wide variety of entrepreneurs, ranging from start-up to growing businesses, catering for a diverse mix of individuals from local businesses to refugee entrepreneurs to individuals furthest from the labour market. MENTA helps individuals and businesses create a ‘Pride of Place’ in the local community areas. MENTA expects this demand to grow in 2022 by over 20%.   One of the most exciting new prospects is providing workspaces for growing businesses in the region. In 2021 more than 50 business took advantage of five MENTA business and co-working hubs and in 2022 this is set to grow with recently opened new co-working spaces in Felixstowe and Brandon as MENTA looks to support changing working patterns and entrepreneurs wanting to grow their base in East Anglia.     Small and medium sized businesses are crucial to the East Anglian economy.  There are over 598,0001 SMEs in the East of England, the third largest region outside of London and the South East. Despite the global economic uncertainty and supply chain issues, businesses in the East of England have shown resilience within the last two years. There have been many examples of businesses in our region pivoting, diversifying, and surviving.   To support the growing demand for MENTA’s services and the support it provides to growth business MENTA has expanded its team and welcomed two new non-executive board members, Chris Kelly, and Louise Ahuja.   MENTA’s non-executive chair, Alistair Ponder said, “ahead of our AGM, I want to personally thank departing board members Jane Cattermole, Phil Morris, Callum Coombes for their time and valuable business insight at a time where the entire MENTA team proved its ability to react and adapt to the challenges of lockdowns, this is a very exciting time for MENTA with new locations in Felixstowe and Brandon, expanded projects delivering vital support to the growing and diverse sectors MENTA serve, welcoming both Chris and Louise to the board enables us all to further support the team in its growth plans”   Chris Kelly is a director at Jacobs Allen chartered accountants. “I am passionate about demystifying corporate finance advice and making it accessible to businesses irrespective of size. I am looking forward to supporting MENTA as it continues to shape enterprise in the region.”  Also joining is entrepreneurial businesses leader Louise Ahuja who has over 20 years board level experience. She is one of the founders of Opinium research, one of the fastest growing international market research agencies. “I have benefitted first hand from MENTA’s excellent support including networking events and the creative workspace @inc in Bury St Edmunds.” Both individuals will help to oversee and challenge MENTA’s implementation strategy.   MENTA CEO, Alex Till added, “Being able to attract and welcome such business talent onto our board will benefit small business owners across the region. We will be able to pull from their vast experience within the business sector and help us to offer the very best service to those wanting our help and guidance”.   MENTA works with new emerging and existing micro businesses and those looking to move into self-employment across Norfolk and Suffolk by offering help, support, advice, and training. More than 50,000 entrepreneurs have received MENTA support and helped launch, run, and grow thriving and profitable businesses across East Anglia. There are hundreds of online and in person sessions available to help with the business planning and processes of starting and running a business you may not be experienced in.   For more information on the new business spaces visit, https://incburystedmunds.co.uk/contact And for their range of business support, please visit MENTA.org.uk Nick PandolfiNick@menta.org.uk  

  • New CO-WORKING Hub to open in Felixstowe

    • by @inc
    • 27-04-2022
    4.60 of 5 votes

      New CO-WORKING Hub to open in Felixstowe A new way to work is to be offered in Felixstowe with the opening of the @Inc. co-working and business hub. The new offering follows the successful launch last year of a similar property in Bury St Edmunds. Suzanne Banks is the project lead and says, “We will have on-site business support with digital skills training, marketing, and sales expertise as well as access to grants and business finance + events and of course, our popular co-working and meeting spaces”@Inc is the idea of Alex Till, CEO of MENTA Business Support, an organization that has delivered business training and support across Norfolk and Suffolk since 1984 he says! “Another fantastic opportunity has arisen, after the successful launch of @Inc. Bury St Edmunds, we are thrilled to have been invited to develop, manage, and create another @Inc. creative co-working space in the heart of Felixstowe in association with the team at Suffolk Growth at East Suffolk Council" As part of the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund (SIGIF), MENTA are collaborating with a range of stakeholders and partners within the East Suffolk district to support new emerging and existing businesses, sole traders, freelancers, and micro businesses, offering an alternative to lone home working and collaborations in unique working facilities.  "We have seen how Covid has affected this group of workers and are pleased to offer a welcoming, sociable space, with superfast broadband and which is open 24/7 for members who are wanting to work closer to home; all overlaid with business advice, training and networking events, ensuring the growth and development of their businesses.” says Alex Till.@Inc in Felixstowe is centred in the very heart of the retail district at 87 Hamilton Road. Suzanne Banks says, “we are currently moving furniture into the new location and fitting out the working space. We will have a launch event that will be streamed live across Facebook. I have already met our business neighbours and we look forward being part of the Felixstowe business community” @Inc. in Felixstowe will open in early May and is part of the wider delivery that MENTA is delivering across Norfolk and Suffolk with a range of business support and new business space.Non-members will also be welcome to access @Inc. Felixstowe on Mondays to Fridays, from 8.30am to 5pm.To visit MENTA’s new @Inc Felixstowe space or to find out more, please contact Suzanne Banks via email at space@menta.org.uk or visit the website.

  • Does Your Company Need A CRM? The Importance of CRM Systems

    • by @inc
    • 12-04-2022
    5.00 of 3 votes

      Does Your Company Need A CRM? The Importance of a robust CRM system. The importance of CRM systems is becoming more prominent, especially when you consider that 91% of businesses with more than eleven people use them to manage customer relationships. If you’re one of the 9% who are yet to implement a CRM, or are struggling or frustrated with your current CRM, then keep reading as we explore the benefits of a modern CRM.   What does a CRM do? A CRM (Customer Relations Management) system essentially provides a central base where businesses can store customer data such as contact details, previous interactions, and sale information for an entire organisation to access. It’s a system that compiles communication data, marketing activities, and sales information. With this, the next customer interaction can become more personalised based on the history of interaction with that person.   What available CRMs are there? There’s plenty to choose from, but one of the best is called HubSpot. Unmatched are a Gold HubSpot Agency, perfectly placed to help you with implementing your HubSpot CRM. Some other good options include: SalesForce (for larger enterprise businesses) ZohoCRM Bullhorn (for recruitment agencies) Pipedrive   Do all businesses need CRM? Above we mentioned that 91% of businesses with more than eleven employees use CRM systems. But what about the other nine per cent? The reasons they don’t implement one are unknown. However, to help identify whether all businesses require a CRM, they should answer the below questions. Do you have customer data sitting in spreadsheets and lots of systems? – if so, you need a CRM to house all your customer data in one place. This will benefit your sales and marketing teams hugely for more effective sales and marketing. Do you have a defined sales process? – If so, a CRM will help you track where deals are in the pipeline. If your sales process is not yet defined, a CRM could be the best place to start mapping it out. Are you managing a sales team? - If you manage a sales team, you’ll want to guarantee customer details are managed via a CRM. It’s a business risk if valuable sales data is sitting on reps phones’ or on spreadsheets across your network. A CRM will help you get all your data in one place and make it useful. Can you remember every customer? – In the unlikely event you can remember every interaction with every customer, you’ll want a CRM. A CRM will help make your sales calls personable, and you can store information such as how many children they have, their favourite football team, and more. Do prospects have multiple points of contact? - Does the entire organisation need to contact a customer? Then compiling their data on a CRM system such as interaction history, sales cycle, and contact details can ensure everybody is on the same page. Is your marketing team complaining about unusable or out of date customer data? – if so, you need a CRM. Marketing teams operate much more effectively with a solid CRM underpinning their campaigns and enabling CRM-powered marketing.   Benefits of a good CRM By 2025, the global market for CRM systems will reach 49.6 billion dollars. Despite HubSpot being the go-to option for many, what are the benefits of a good CRM? A CRM can help automate follow-up communication, email sequences, sales workflows, chatbot conversations, etc., allowing more time to focus on what matters, growth. Using these systems helps centre business’s growth around customers by using a data silo the entire company can access. It can help align all business practices that focus on customers, such as sales, marketing, and customer service teams. It simplifies and offers better customer interactions throughout the business. There’s no doubt that a modern and robust CRM system will bring huge benefits, but what about the cost?   What does a CRM cost? Here’s some good news, HubSpot has a completely free option. This free CRM is fully functional and a great starting point for most businesses, especially B2B. It comes with a free Google Chrome plugin too, which will log and track your emails too. As your business grows, HubSpot and other CRMs will grow with it so you’re not out of pocket and footing a huge CRM bill.   Conclusion There’s no doubt that using a CRM will benefit your business, 99% of the time. For the 1%, implementing a CRM needs to wait until after you’ve solved other business issues – new software isn’t always the solution. If your business does need a hand with CRM, especially HubSpot, speak to Matt Freestone from Unmatched Agency who are a Gold HubSpot Partner and full-service marketing agency based in Bury St Edmunds.      

  • How to avoid loneliness as a freelancer

    • by @inc
    • 04-04-2022
    5.00 of 2 votes

      How to avoid loneliness as a freelancer. There are so many great reasons to become self-employed. A pre-pandemic survey found that self-employed people are happier and more engaged than those working in any other profession. As a freelancer or sole trader, you have the freedom to innovate, to make decisions based on your business growth as well as uncapped earning potential.   However, it can be lonely if you don’t know of the growing resources available to you to meet other freelancers or sole traders. In fact, over half of all freelancers reported they have encountered loneliness. When you are an employee, you are part of an established team. We are generally social animals and enjoy interaction with others. Grabbing a coffee with a colleague can give you the boost or break you need from the screen or work in general. It is important to find that as a sole trader. Whilst you may be interacting with customers or clients the relationship is such that you are a service provider. If you need advice or guidance, it is not appropriate to seek this out within a client or customer relationship. Instead, it is important to find your network either virtually or physically. Accessing training programmes will help.   Here at Inc, our co-working space offers a truly collaborative working environment with the shared space and connectivity but the added benefit of break-out zone and private areas for those moments when you need to be alone.   If you are considering becoming your own boss, MENTA deliver across Suffolk a range of free start up training packages where you can access advice on how to grow your network when you start out as a freelancer or sole trader.   Just communicating with the professionals behind the course will be hugely beneficial.   Social media is a great place to start when you first become self-employed. Do some research and take advantage of the village and town community pages on Facebook around your area, not only are they a great way of letting people know about your service or product they can also help to link you to other self-employed businesses close by. Introduce yourself and what you are doing and see if there are any other freelancers or self-employed people in your locality who might want to meet for a coffee and impart any advice. Depending on the type of business you are operating there are also national Facebook groups you can join, dipping in and out of as you need. For example, a simple ‘start up support’ search on Facebook brings up ‘The start-up business help and advice UK’ page which has over 22 thousand members.   As you start out as self-employed you will find yourself in unchartered waters. You have to learn all parts of business, rather than just rely on your service expertise. You may have legal or accounting questions which can be answered in the group without needing to pay a professional for the advice. Very often freelancers struggle with pricing structures and what to charge, a social media group gives you access to people who may have had the same issues and may be willing to share anecdotes to help you on the right path. Sometimes you may need to let off steam after a difficult day trading. Social media support groups are a fantastic way of connecting with people. They can also help put you in contact with physical businesses in your area like chambers of commerce or networking groups who meet monthly in your locality. In Norfolk and Suffolk, a great place to start to explore more about growing your network is with a free MENTA course.  Talk to Suzanne here @Inc. Email space@menta.org.uk about workspace and MENTA as to the range of new business and self-employment support available. Email bookings@menta.org.uk

  • Self-Employed Support

    • by @inc
    • 28-01-2022
    3.67 of 3 votes

      Self-Employed Support + The most common mistakes people make when becoming self-employed. Many of our members here in the co-working space are freelance and understand the challenge of making the move into self-employment. We have introduced a help pod for business questions and to share the business support that is available. The 1:1 business advice is available to all members here @Inc. and covers the grants, loans, set-up questions many have when starting a new business. Taking the leap into self-employment is an important decision and we understand that here at MENTA. The average person spends roughly 90,000 hours working during their lifetime, so ensuring you are doing something you enjoy and brings you the remuneration you anticipate, is a very real consideration. There are big differences between being employed and self-employed. The positives of working for yourself are clear. You get to choose your working hours, your customer base and salary. You don’t have to answer to anyone, and you can take your business in any direction you want without having to consult others. However, like everything there are pitfalls to consider. As the sole trader you must be across all aspects of your business. In this post we will look at things that are often overlooked by people starting out as self-employed. A lot of it surrounds the issue of paperwork. Ensure you have a contract and scope of work. Very often sole traders and those who are self-employed do not clearly set out a proposal to clients or customers with the project deliverables defined. It means that they can end up doing more work than they originally quoted for. Find an organisation like MENTA who offer courses which cover how to write ‘scope of work’ and proposal documents. Sometimes you will need to find a professional who can draw up bespoke legal contracts and MENTA can guide you through ways of finding those services. Track your sources of income. When you are employed, you get paid one lump sum of money each month by the payroll department. When you are self-employed your income can come from many different sources. It is important to ensure you carefully invoice each source and track payment. Often a simple spreadsheet will help with this. Record your expenses. When you are employed, HR takes care of your pay and tax. When you are self-employed you are solely liable for paying your own tax. You will need to fill out a self-employed tax return and submit it by January 31st each year. If you fail to submit a tax return you will be fined. Within the tax return you will be asked to submit your expenses which could help to lower your tax bill. It can be difficult to track expenses. Make sure you keep receipts. An expenses spreadsheet will also help. MENTA courses are invaluable when it comes to setting out ways of recording expenses and finances when you are starting out. Manage your time. Being a sole trader means you choose your own hours, there is no 9-5. However, some self-employed people find they start working constantly because they are not managing their time properly. At MENTA we advise those starting out as self-employed to set rules when it comes to time management and discipline. Establish a clear work plan and follow a schedule. That way you will meet your deadlines. For more information on what pitfalls to avoid when starting out as self-employed or a sole trader, get in touch with the team at MENTA or talk to Suzanne here @Inc.

  • Andrew Swinney - Mobile Meditation

    • by @inc
    • 15-11-2021
    5.00 of 1 votes

      Mobile Meditation @Inc. member, Andrew Swinney has launched a new business that offers mobile meditation mobile space which is delivering guided mindfulness sessions to workplaces, schools, universities and events across West Suffolk and the wider region. Andrew is the founder of Mynd. His passion for mindfulness started in 2012 when he was struggling with anxiety. It became an incredible tool that helped him through a difficult time, and he has practised it ever since. “I wanted to give people the opportunity to practise mindfulness in a calm environment that was away from any unnecessary distraction. Moreover, giving people a short mental break from their busy day” said Andrew “ Andrew’s research shows that: The number one barrier for people interested in meditation is finding the time to practice 17.9 million working days lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2019/20* 828,000 workers alone suffering from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety (new or longstanding) in 2019/20* The bespoke mobile space has been created to bring accessible mindfulness meditation sessions. The qualified mindfulness teachers at Mynd guide short sessions allowing individuals to fit a practice into their busy day. Away from any unnecessary distraction, this is an ideal environment to take a pause and help reset the mind. On-the-go meditation is at the core of (A newly launched business that offers mobile meditation space is delivering guided mindfulness sessions to workplaces, schools, universities and events across West Suffolk and the wider region.) Mynd. It means being able to practise mindfulness wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Stress is increasing.Andrew has a background in education as a schoolteacher and during lockdown he introduced short online meditation sessions for the pupils before the day started. This inspired him to come up with a mindfulness business concept and after a year of planning and research Mynd was created. “I wanted to give people the opportunity to practise mindfulness in a calm environment that was away from any unnecessary distraction. Moreover, giving people a short mental break from their busy day” said Andrew “I thought, if we built a mobile meditation studio then this would be the ideal solution” The Mynd mindfulness sessions aim to support individual wellbeing. The evidence illustrates that mindfulness can help decrease stress, improve focus and productivity as well as improve sleep.Andrew and the mobile space, as part of his launch activities, are offering a free trial. Visit the website at www.mynd.uk for more information or find them on Instagram @myndspaceuk

  • Podcasting

    • by @inc
    • 21-10-2021
    2.33 of 3 votes

      Podcasting Podcasting can be a great way to attract new customers to your business and raise your profile.There are more than 2 million podcasts in the world today offering everything from entertainment to the unusual and around 20% of the UK are listening to at least one podcast a month according to the latest stats. Here @Inc.BuryStEdmunds we have 4 members who either have their own or participate to regular podcasts and we wanted to check-in with them for their take. Below are some thoughts to help you craft your next or first podcast. Our site has podcast facilities and some great surroundings for that help you capture the best stories for broadcast.   BASIC ESSENTIALS • USB Microphone and Pop Filter• Headphones• Laptop with editing software• Online Podcast Hosting   PLANNING Before you begin your podcasting journey, it’s important to plan what it is you’re going to talk about - Perhaps you’ll be sharing guides on how to make a specific dish or instructions for simple domestic repairs. Whatever it is you choose, here are some other things to consider in that thought process: What do I want to tell the people who listen about my business? Special offers or promotions exclusive to the podcast audience What makes us different from other businesses who are similar to us? Will it just be me talking or will there be guests? You’ll also need to come up with a name for your podcast and decide whether you want to use intro and outro music too. To avoid paying for licences make sure you use Royalty Free music; there are plenty of sites online to choose from, try Pixabay Music as a starting point. It might help to script or bullet point a running order for what you’d like to say.   RECORDING AND EDITING There’s lots of free software available to record and edit with. Mac’s come with Garageband preinstalled which is ideal for making your shows; else try downloading the free editing and recording programme Audacity, which is available to users on Macs and PC’s too. You can pick up good quality microphones for podcasting through Amazon from around £40 and upwards. A USB microphone that can plug into a laptop or computer with a sound card will help save buying extra equipment. Set your microphone up and connect it to your laptop. Placement of your microphone is key, but leaving around a handspan between your mouth and the front of the microphone should be enough. If you have a pop filter to go on your microphone then leave a handspan between that and your mouth. The pop filter will help reduce any harsh sounding noises on certain letters you use - it should be placed around an inch or two in front of the microphone. Make sure that where you choose to record has very little background noise, and isn’t too big or echoey like in a kitchen or warehouse (unless that’s key to your podcast). A warm room with soft furnishings (carpets, rugs, sofas etc) is usually best. When you have finished your recording, use your editing software to remove any mistakes or errors, and add in any music you’ve chosen.   PUBLISHING Once you’re satisfied with your podcast recording and editing, then it’s time to get it online. There are plenty of options available to getting your podcast published ranging from various free services (E.G. Soundcloud, Youtube) to sites that give you a hosting page and help to publish it on multiple platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora and Amazon (E.G. Podbean, BuzzSprout). It’s worth investigating and comparing each of them and getting a service that matches your businesses needs. To go alongside your podcast, you will also need to decide on a logo, this could be your business logo, but make sure it is something which identifies it as your podcast. Finally, don’t forget to promote your podcast through your own channels and networks: mailing lists, social media and any other areas where you come into contact with people who might benefit from your business or service.   FINAL THOUGHTS Common questions that always come up when entering into podcasting are: “How long should my podcast be?” and “How often should I make a podcast?” There’s no set rule about how long a podcast should be or how often you should make one, but make sure that your podcast is published regularly whether that’s daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly - so audiences that listen know how often to expect an episode. Need to talk podcasting, talk to Nick Pandolfi here @Inc.  

  • Networking @Inc. in Bury St Edmunds

    • by @inc
    • 21-10-2021
    5.00 of 2 votes

      Networking @Inc. in Bury St Edmunds PREPARE YOUR PROFILE Your LinkedIn profile is your new business card – expect to receive a flurry of connection requests following a networking event, especially if you’ve made a great first impression. Ensure your profile is up-to-date, features a professional headshot (no wedding photos here, please!) and that information about your business is clear, accurate and detailed. MAKE A PLAN Networking is an opportunity to build mutually beneficial relationships. While there may be opportunities to promote your offering, a hard sell attitude and self-serving pitches tend not to be well-received. It is therefore important to establish your motivation for attending the event and set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve: By asking delegates questions, sharing interesting information and keeping conversations relevant. And who knows, you may just be invited to be a guest speaker or present at the next event. FOLLOW UP During the networking event, make a note of those who you’d like to connect with afterwards – that is, those who run businesses that complement yours and where there are opportunities to collaborate or exchange skills. Here @Inc.BuryStEdmunds we host monthly events that attract a wide demographic of freelancers and people who maybe like you are not sure about walking into a room full of strangers, we understand that and that is why Suzanne and Nick are on hand to welcome you and make sure you feel comfortable and achieve your networking goals. We hold networking events every 2nd Thursday of the month (accept August and December) here @Inc. co-working on King’s Road in Bury St Edmunds. We start from 9.30 and you can enjoy making new business connections without any fuss.

  • West Suffolk Business Festival

    • by @inc
    • 14-10-2021
    3.50 of 6 votes

      West Suffolk Business Festival The official launch of the West Suffolk Business Festival took place with MENTA hosting the launch event @ Inc on Monday, October 4. The two-week business festival is packed with events for businesses and entrepreneurs and made up of partner events. The ribbon-cutting was overseen by Cllr John Griffiths MBE and MENTA Business Support CEO, Alex Till. More than 50 guests enjoyed live music and brunch as sponsored by local solicitors, Atkins Dellow, event organizer, Nick Pandolfi said; We were so pleased to see @ Inc take centre stage with businesspeople and our co-working members networking. The co-working and meeting space enjoyed the sound of musicians Curtis and Billy as people made new connections and utilized the business space. MENTA Business has been a senior partner and sponsor of the business festival from its inception and MENTA CEO, Alex Till went on to say; We are at the heart of business support and COVID has meant we have needed to offer greater support and deliver it in clever ways that suit our clients, having the Atkins Dellow brunch really felt like old times with people meeting and enjoying the festival launch face-to-face. The festival continues with events from partners, see the website for further details. https://www.businessfestival.org/ Pictures credit@ Greyhound Creative

  • Digital Skills go FREE @ Inc.

    • by @inc
    • 11-08-2021
    1.00 of 3 votes

      Digital Skills go FREE @ Inc. A new range of FREE digital workshops are being delivered at Suffolk’s newest co-working space with the aims to help entrepreneurs further grow their business online. The sessions are free to book now and include social media subjects that are designed to help organically grow the business search engine optimisation and connect new business leads to the business offer. Inc. community manager Suzanne Banks says “Inc. is keen to support not just our members but the wider business community, these sessions will help growing businesses develop their digital strategy and build business awareness online – we know the tickets will book quickly and intend to offer further sessions in coming months” The sessions are part of the West Suffolk Business festival. Subjects include: FREE Social Media Brush-Up Tickets FREE Google My Business Tickets FREE Top Tips for Facebook Tickets FREE Top Tips for Instagram Tickets

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