8 years ago

An interview with FSB's David Miles

David Miles from the Federation of Small Businesses is a digital marketing consultant, trainer, and published author. He runs his own company, Business Training Made Simple, which provides practical and affordable training to help businesses use social media and digital marketing effectively.

First of all, tell us about the new FSB brand and the digital investment you’ve made

In line with the majority of organisations and our own members, the FSB is undergoing a major digital transformation exercise. Our modernisation exercise includes a rebrand, new website, social media strategy and internal training for all staff. The magazine First Voice which is published by the FSB will also be going digital. We’re the leading voice of small businesses in the UK and have been building trust and credibility for the past 41 years. This exercise is to ensure we are equipped to carry on doing this and helping our members to succeed for the next 41 years. We’re also the only business organisation with its own digital survey panel (Big Voice) which uses data from a sample of 6,000 small businesses spread across the UK. We will also continue to innovate with new products and services, in partnership with some of Britain’s leading brands, to meet the needs of today’s tech-savvy business owners. Our new logo represents the three elements of the FSB – Policy, Our Regions and Benefits which are the fundamental parts of the organisation. It is fresh and exciting, reflecting the current environment for small businesses.

It also represents our three core audiences –

  1. People wanting a lifestyle business,

  2. Those wishing to develop their business organically over time

  3. Ambitious entrepreneurs who are seeking fast growth and high returns

What difference will this make to your small business members / UK small businesses?

The rebrand is not just about a new look and a new logo. We are also introducing new services and new categories of membership tailored to specific groups such as start-up businesses.

You have a background in digital marketing, how has this influence the rebrand?

Yes, that’s right. I have been a digital marketing consultant, trainer and author for the past ten years and my current business is a training company which delivers training on digital marketing and social media to business both large and small.

In terms of how that has influenced the rebrand, as I’m sure you can imagine, a rebrand like this requires a huge amount of work from a whole team of people with various sets of skills. And I’ve enjoyed playing my part in that team advising on those areas such as online advertising, search engine marketing, and social media where I can use knowledge and skills from my “day job”.

I think my biggest influence on the modernisation as a whole happened a few years ago when I was responsible for pushing through the changes that led to our old website first getting a facility for new members to join online.

What attracted you to your position as Director of the FSB?

I have run small businesses nearly all my working life and I know how important small businesses are to the local and national economy. I also know that small businesses are often given a rough ride and that their owners face many challenges as they pursue their ambitions. The FSB has a long tradition of championing the cause of small businesses and being involved as a director of the FSB is a good way for me to put something back and support the organisation that has supported me so well over the years. I also like the fact that, by helping run a big business like the FSB, I gain new skills and ideas which can sometimes be applied on a smaller scale in my own business.

At the FSB, you speak out on behalf of business owners on a range of issues. Most recently small businesses in the North of England have been adversely affected by flood damage, what are you doing to support them?

Over the past few years, as flooding has become more and more frequent, it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to get insurance if they have been victims of the previous flooding. The insurance industry and the Government have been working to implement a new Flood Re scheme for those who have been refused cover, but it appears that the smallest business might be excluded. To support the businesses affected by the flood damage last month, and those who have experienced flooding in the past, the FSB has been lobbying for all businesses to be eligible for the Flood Re scheme.

What were some of the major issues affecting small businesses in 2015?

There’s a nice summary in our Chairman’s New Year message.

What advice would you give to small business owners?

Having run my own business for nearly 20 years, there are so many things I could say here!

Obviously, the first thing is to make sure you join the FSB! Membership starts from just £130 per year and gives access to free 24/7 legal advice, protection against tax investigations, and a wealth of other benefits that can far outweigh the membership fee.

They should also make sure they are very clear as to what makes their business different and what the value proposition is for their products or services. This will make life much easier when it comes to developing an effective marketing strategy – whether that’s on the web, through social media, or via traditional offline channels.

One of the biggest threats to a small business is running out of cash. So business owners should make sure they have clear payment terms with their customers and that they deal effectively with any late payers.

In particular during the coming year, business owners should also make sure they are ready for auto-enrolment – which will require all businesses with employees to make a Workplace Pension scheme available. FSB has a pension scheme for members which can help simplify this process.

Finally, what is at the top of your priority list now?

From a Policy point of view, the FSB’s top priorities for the coming year are:

  1. Late payments/Access to finance

  2. Business Rates

  3. Young people/skills

  4. Tax simplification/Quarterly Reporting

  5. Broadband

  6. Energy Markets

  7. Business support, exports

  8. HS2/Airports

  9. Procurement

  10. Employment and pensions