The Business TAP talks to Adrian Llewellyn of Bizitalk
Firstly, welcome to BUSINESS TAP! For anyone who hasn’t used Bizitalk yet, can you give us a quick rundown on what it’s all about, inspiration to create it and who was involved with setting it up?
Two years ago, whilst down the pub one evening, I had the idea of creating the #bizitalk hashtag on twitter where people could just ‘talk about business’ amongst themselves. I already had formed Bizitalk Ltd as a speed networking company and registered the trade mark in the UK and USA. I started using the hashtag that evening with the @Bizitalk account and it took off very quickly. 11 days later it trended in the UK and continued to trend regularly over the next few months and became the most popular UK business hashtag.
This was all very well. We had a wonderful audience – but no product! We needed a website. I set up a meeting of Bizitalkers in a large hotel at the NEC Birmingham and 200 small businesses turned up from around the UK. We then started a crowd funding exercise and within a few weeks we had raised £35,000 which paid for the website to be built and other set up costs. By this time I had appointed several other directors including one with vast experience in London advertising agencies. The site was launched in June of 2013 with a unique business model of paying members becoming shareholders in the business.
The number of people starting up new businesses and ‘going it alone’ has seen a big increase in the past few years, what do you think has influenced that?
The old days of large industries employing people for life has gone. The internet has transformed information gathering and people can now set up a business from home with very little cost. They know their jobs are not secure so they have an added incentive to work for themselves.
Bizitalk encourages people to network online through getting involved with groups within the website and having followers on their post feeds. Also being active within the #bizitalk hashtag. Do you think it’s important for a small business to be involved online as much as they can?
Yes, we do. Small businesses have to manage their time well and a few minutes here and there engaging and interacting with others on the internet can be time well spent – as long as they do it sensibly and keep an eye on the ROI – the return they’re getting on their investment of time. Time is money after all and it can be forgotten quite easily.
If someone reading this feature (there will be lots!) has a small business and wants to get involved with the Bizitalk website and community, what is the best way to go about it?
They can join Bizitalk for free and have access to a range of benefits or if they spend just £5 per month there are currently some 15 features and benefits for them to use to promote their business. Using the #bizitalk hashtag is a very simple way of joining in with thousands of other ‘Bizitalkers’ ‘Bizitalk’ tweets are now mentioned some 350 million times a week on twitter and seen by 5 million people.
Apart from Bizitalk! Which social platform (s) would you recommend to help a business grow online?
Facebook is an obvious one, especially if you are selling goods to consumers. But it is generally recognised that it is not so good for B2B businesses. But always remember that B2B businesses are also consumers – they too are run by people who buy things! A point often forgotten. Google+ is growing fast and recommended by many. Linkedin is extremely good for finding personal contacts and is required reading for recruitment companies.
With having so many businesses involved with Bizitalk you must have seen some real success stories, is there any particular business you have seen grow from start-up to success?
We are receiving stories all the time from members who are expanding their business and doing well and our ‘Small Business Spotlight’ is highlighting one of them each week which we then promote during that week as much as we can.
What are the future plans for Bizitalk?
We are adding features all the time and are always open to suggestions from our members who ‘own’ it. We hope eventually to build it into a one stop shop for all small businesses to use to find out anything they need concerning business and to network with like minded people.
Finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to anyone starting a new small business?
When you start a business remember the rule of three:
It will take you three times as long to get it going
It will cost three times the amount of money you first thought of
It will make a third of the profits you anticipated
…..but don’t give up. You’ll always regret it if you don’t give it a try. And above all keep smiling – that’s the best sales aid you’ll ever have!
If you haven’t already, head on over to www.bizitalk.com and get involved in the Bizitalk business community. You can also jump on board the Bizitalk Twitter here. Please feel free to comment below on how Bizitalk has helped your business.
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