Leeds tops the list of best places to start a business in the UK

For millions of business owners around the world, deciding where to set up shop is a vital decision, and one that could shape the future of their business for years to come. However, when making this decision there are numerous factors to consider, and choosing the right place can be difficult.

At Bark.com we have access to hundreds of thousands of price points from numerous business services across the UK, so decided to put our data to good use to find out where in the UK is the best place to start a business. 

We analysed location price data from the last three years across accounting, recruitment, IT support, website creation and management, marketing, SEO, internet and phone providers to find out the average start-up cost per city in the UK. 

We also took into account talent pool size, broadband quality and rent costs because some cities are incredibly cheap but wouldn’t be a viable home for most businesses. For example, Wells is cheap in terms of rent and business services, however is poor in terms of talent and broadband service.

Here is the full list of the ten best places to start a business in the UK, as well as each city’s average annual business launch cost:

1) Leeds – £15,550

2) Cardiff – £15,725

3) Liverpool – £15,744

4) Bristol – £16,013

5) Swansea – £16,082

6) Newcastle – £16,150        

7) Birmingham – £16,368

8) Manchester – £17,129

9) Edinburgh – £17,174

10) London – £75,990

And here is the full list of the ten ‘worst’ places to start a business in the UK, as well as each city’s average annual business launch cost:

1) Truro – £22,306

2) St.Davids – £8,511

3) Bangor – £8,930

4) Wells – £15,299

5) Stirling – £15,482

6) Ripon – £7,989

7) Lichfield – £11,083

8) Perth – £9,007

9) Preston – £20,162

10) Salisbury – £19,405

The above cities have made the top ten ‘worst’ list because of either a very poor talent pool size, high rent and service provider costs or poor broadband, or a combination of these factors.

These average annual costs consider office rental, the cost of hiring a marketing, IT support, recruitment, accountancy, website and SEO agency, as well as the cost of internet and phone providers. It does not consider employee wages or corporation tax. 

Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com said,

“When it comes to starting a business, choosing where to set up shop is always one of your first decisions. For decades, London has been the obvious choice for new businesses, however, we’re seeing that more and more people are opting to start their enterprise outside of the capital. 

“Like Manchester and Birmingham, Leeds is fast becoming recognised as a business hotspot, so it’s not a surprise that it tops our list. It’s great to see the North of England getting the business accolade it deserves.”

Stranger Spins – Celebrate the new Stranger Things Season with a Chopper spin class!

We are proud to present to you Stranger Spins, the world’s first Chopper spin class to celebrate our return to Hawkins, Indiana.

The sessions will run on Friday the 26th July from 10am to 3pm in London. To make the class as immersive as possible, the room will be decorated like Joyce Byer’s living room, complete with the iconic Christmas lights!

Each spin class will run for one hour, led by one of our qualified spin instructors, AKA Chief Jim Hopper, as soon as he’s finished with his morning ‘coffee and contemplation’. Stranger Spins has the capacity for 9 participants per session and will work on a first-come-first-serve basis, so make sure you register your interest now to ensure you don’t miss out!

Should you stay or should you go now? Fill in your details below. 

Expect to be put through your paces to hit tracks from the show, like Scorpion’s Rock You Like a Hurricane and Duran Duran’s Girls on Film. We encourage everyone attending to dress up as their favourite Stranger Things character or in retro 80s fitness gear, but of course that’s completely up to you.

This class is free – all you need to bring with you is a towel and water. When numbers are confirmed we will email you with the location address, however if you don’t hear from us, assume you didn’t make the entry list. Don’t worry though, if demand is high we plan to run a few more classes!

Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com said,

“Stranger Things is one of Netflix’s most successful shows, with millions of fans across the world tuning in to the nostalgic sci-fi drama. We wanted to inject some of that TV magic into an activity that could otherwise be unappealing to some. Our ultimate goal is to help people get a good workout whilst having some serious 80’s inspired fun. 

“We expect demand to be high, so I encourage any Stranger Things fans to register their interest now, this world exclusive class is going to be strangely enjoyable!”

Electricians revealed as the highest-earning self-employed pros in the UK

There are pros and cons to going solo, however over the last few years more and more people have made the switch to self-employed work.

With hundreds of thousands of self-employed pros using Bark.com, we’re in a unique position to find out which professional is the highest paid in the UK, when self-employed, and how it compares to their employed counterpart’s salary.

Surveying 20,000 professionals across 11 key sectors from our platform, we asked service providers about their earnings to find out the UK salary average for each service. In addition to information on their earnings, self-employed professionals were asked about their lifestyle and work-homelife balance. The research took a few months to collect due to the magnitude of the project. but allowed for a wealth of data for us to draw our conclusions from.

When results were processed it was obvious across all sectors that those who are self-employed have the potential to earn far more than their employed counterparts, and in some cases more than double.

Interestingly, electricians top the list of the highest earning self-employed pros, and independent cleaners can earn close to £30k a year, three times the amount of employed cleaners!

Here are the highest paid self-employed service providers in the UK:

1. Electricians £51,200

Employed salary £27,287

2. Counsellors £45,111

Employed salary £24,544

3. Landscape gardeners £40,140

Employed salary £19,143

4. Make-up artists £38,918

Employed salary £20,952

5. Graphic designers £38,760

Employed salary £22,012

6. Photographers £36,823

Employed salary £20,812

7. Plumbers £36,359

Employed salary £23,788

8. Tutors £34,147

Employed salary £22,630

9. Painter and decorators £33,075

Employed salary £21,405

10. Personal trainers £33,029

Employed salary £19,494

11. Cleaners £29,584

Employed salary £10,573

Despite a massive 90% of respondents stating that their workload is much more now that they are self-employed, more than two-thirds (68%) of professionals stated that they have been far more successful in keeping a healthy home and work balance. Nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents felt that their increased stress levels are worth it for the monetary increase.

Kai Feller, Bark.com co-founder, said,

“At Bark we work with thousands of self-employed sole traders, and thought it would be interesting to see how much they earn a year. We picked the top 11 most popular self-employed sectors in the UK, and you can see why so many people decide to go self-employed – a good living can be made from all of the professions.

“The survey took a good couple of months, but was well worth the wait, because the results speak for themselves – being self-employed results in a much higher income. We were expecting them to earn more, but almost double on average is a huge increase. That being said being self-employed comes with a lot more work, responsibility and pressure more often than not, it’s definitely not a career choice to be taken lightly.”

Turns out that going self-employed might be more beneficial than you thought!

*https://www.payscale.com/

Now you can show off how many times you’ve been hired on Bark!

You can now display how many of our users have hired you prominently on your Bark profile.

Whenever someone hires you, simply click the new ‘I was hired‘ button next to their Bark in the My Responses section of your dashboard and we’ll automatically add them to your total.

Then, when new customers view your profile, they’ll be able to see you have a proven track record of helping other Bark users with their projects – like It’s Magic Time here:

It's Magic Time I was hired
Tony Charles has been hired seven times since he joined Bark in June.

Buyers can also let us know when they’ve hired you using the new ‘I’ve hired someone‘ button in their dashboard – and we’ll ask them who they’ve hired when they close their Bark.

You can see all the Barks you’ve responded to in the My Responses section of your dashboard, so be sure to go back and click ‘I was hired‘ for all the jobs you’ve secured through Bark to date.

Who hired you button

We’ll also now show you your average response time if you get back to customers quickly Bark Messenger. So be sure to respond to customers as quickly as possible to maximise your chances of success!

King Pest Control response time
King Pest Control responds to pest control Barks in four minutes flat, on average!

This feature should prove especially useful if you work in an industry like pest control or boiler repair, where  customers are often looking for someone who can help them right away.

Combined with the customer reviews you collect on your profile, these new features will give you a real edge over the competition when pitching for business on Bark.

We hope you find them useful, and look forward to helping you secure even more business in the coming weeks and months.

If you have any further thoughts or ideas about how we can help you promote your business one Bark, send us an email at team@bark.com, or leave a comment in the space below!

Nick Hewer Twitter Q&A – The Answers!

Nick Hewer Twitter q&A

On 6th October 2015, we hosted an engaging Twitter Q&A with the highly successful businessman, Nick Hewer. Nick gave us an insight into the business world and offered advice for budding entrepreneurs on the hashtag, #AskNick.

Nick Hewer is well known as the host of Channel 4’s Countdown, and from 2005 to 2014 he appeared as Lord Sugar’s adviser on the British television series, The Apprentice. Nick has been working with Bark.com since our inception, so we were delighted to have him take over our Twitter feed, offering valuable business advice and providing career inspiration along the way. If you haven’t yet seen it, here’s Nick explaining how Bark.com works earlier this year.

Missed out on the Q&A? Don’t worry, because we have compiled Nick’s answers for you to digest below!

Nick Hewer Opening Q&A

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After a fantastic Q&A, Nick signed off…

Nick Hewer end of Q&A

Thanks to everyone who got involved in the Q&A! Was your question answered? Is there anything else you would like to #AskNick? Let us know in the comments below!

And while you’re at it, make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page or visit our blog to keep up to date with Bark news, tips and advice!

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You’re hired! Join Nick Hewer and Bark.com for a day of SME insight

We’re delighted to announce that Nick Hewer, former right-hand man to Alan Sugar and highly successful businessman is set to join Bark.com on Tuesday, October 6th, for a day of expert advice and insight into SME success.

Nick Hewer, Kai Feller and Andrew Michael
Nick and Bark.com’s founders

After 10 years on The Apprentice, Nick retired from the show at the end of the last season, and is now working as a consultant for a number of small businesses as he continues to make his mark on the UK’s entrepreneurial scene (as well as, of course, presenting Countdown!).

He’s been working with Bark.com since our inception (here’s him explaining how Bark works back in March) and as part of our partnership, next Tuesday, Nick will be taking part in a live Q&A session on via the @barkteam twitter page, giving budding entrepreneurs and small business owners the chance to have their business queries answered by the man himself.

Kai Feller and Nick Hewer shake hands
The start of a great partnership!

Have a burning question? Let us know using the #AskNick hashtag and we’ll do our best to go through as many as we can. Or, if you just happy to sit back and absorb the insights, tune in from 1-2pm.

If you can’t make it though, not to worry – we’ll also be sharing Nick’s top tips for SMEs on our YouTube channel and via our blog, so watch this space. 

An easy guide: How to build an online presence for your small business

We are surrounded by media. From when we sit at the bus stop in the morning to when we chill out in front of the TV in the evening, we are constantly targeted by large companies and brands who are desperate to gain our attention. This has become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media, which has provided another avenue from which brands can target us, even drilling down into our demographics and interests. With that in mind, small business owners now need to make sure that they are developing an online presence, to make them stand out in industries that are already heavily saturated.

It’s common knowledge that online presence means brand awareness. Nowadays, how you present your brand online is similar to meeting a customer for the first time. Your online brand is essentially what people think of you when you are not available. Online presence is often a test of credibility for many technologically savvy consumers, who would rather connect with businesses online first before making a purchasing decision. This poses an opportunity to impress and capture the attention of potential customers. These days the first port of call when looking for information about a product or a service is to ‘Google’ it, meaning online presence is crucial if you want to make your business a successful one.

So how can you become a major player in this competitive age? Here are 5 ways to effectively maximise your online presence:

Branding 

No matter how big or small your company is – branding matters. From word go a clear and consistent branding strategy should be developed, which can be pumped across all online channels to create brand recognition. According to the founder of The NY Brand Lb, Mary Van de Wiel, “without a brand you ultimately lack an identity, a presence – and a purpose.” You should think about your tone of voice and your values, as well as your visual aesthetic. Not particularly creative? Don’t know where to start? Then maybe you should find a graphic designer who can help you pinpoint what your business is about in a visually appealing way.

Communicate your brand
Shout loud about your brand

Website Design and Development 

You never know who will be knocking on your virtual door at any time of the day or night – so make sure your home on the Internet is kitted out for new visitors! Creating and more importantly maintaining a website is a useful tool for every business. Here, you can shout loud about your portfolio of work and maybe even offer your tuppence-worth via a company blog. Your website needs to be functional and user friendly, and this is where a professional with experience in website design and development may come in handy! Once you find the right web developer, start thinking about optimising your website. This will make sure that your website performs well on search engines – just like the aforementioned Google! Be front and centre of the online world, and drive traffic to your website with the help of an SEO professional.

Web Site Design
Build a user-friendly website!

Social Media

You’ve developed your brand, and mastered your website. But how can you enhance the visibility of your brand even further? The key is to make sure you are on social media – which is both effective and cost effective. Social media not only helps you to grow your customer base by reaching a wider audience, it also helps you to promote brand recognition and loyalty. Find a social media marketer who can help you maximise channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although not the most widely used social network, G+ should also be maximised. Effective use of G+ can determine your inclusion and ranking in the carousel of businesses that appear at the top of the Google search results. As well as aiding your SEO, there are also advanced features available to businesses using G+. Check out G+ for yourself and add Bark.com to your circles!

If you’re feeling particularly competitive, you might want to also get set up on new and emerging social networks like Snapchat and Periscope. The opportunities are endless!

Be active on social media
Engage with your customers via social media

Email Marketing

In this day and age, almost everyone has an online presence in some form, even if it is just an email address. Email marketing is a sure way to stay on the radar of potential customers, and it can definitely allow you to establish profitable relationships in the long term. This is to be used wisely, and should not be spam abuse. Instead your emails should offer something to the consumer – be it special offers, industry news or company updates. Feeling a little confused? Then find an email marketer to help you get the job done.

Build a customer database
Build a targeted email marketing campaign

Online Directories

Regardless of how strong your online presence is, you won’t be able to sit back, relax and let the cash flow in. You need to get ahead of your competitors, who are battling against you with extensive advertising budgets. If a customer can’t find you when they are searching for a product or a service, then you simply won’t get the business. Joining an online directory like our very own Bark.com ensures that you are placed directly in front of the right people, often for a very minimal spend. No matter what service you provide, learn more about joining Bark by visiting our Pro-Centre.

Incorporating a targeted email marketing campaign with your slick new branding, user-friendly website and engaging social media strategy will set your small business on a path to success, all with the added help from an online directory like Bark.com!

Do you have any other tips for small business owners? Let us know!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

 

Five Features of Windows 10 You Need To Know

Microsoft Windows 10 start sceen
Windows 10 sees the return of the Start menu

After close to a year-long wait from beta to launch, Windows 10 was released to the public last week amid much anticipation. Three years on from Windows’ last major operating system launch, Windows 8 in 2012 that received mixed reviews at best, Windows 10 has so far been praised for its more familiar interface and ease of use.

If you’re a devout Windows user, an upgrade is probably a no-brainer; it’s free to download, as long as you do so within the first year of its launch. For non-Windows users, the new operating system is due out at the end of August,  and an as-yet-confirmed price will be attached.

So, if you’re still undecided about whether or not to take the plunge and upgrade, here’s five features that may help you make up your mind:

1. Gain the Edge

Being frank, it’s about time Microsoft decided to ditch Internet Explorer and adopt a new web browser. Having once enjoyed a virtual monopoly when it came to web browsing, the rise of the likes of Google Chrome, Firefox and Mozilla left Explorer looking like that annoying person who refuses to leave the party.

Edge is Microsoft’s fresh attempt to take on the might of Chrome and Firefox, and so far, things are looking positive. With the help of Cortana, your own virtual personal assistant (we explain further down), Edge allows us to ‘ditch the distractions’ and ‘do-more faster’.

A new rendering engine means Edge is much faster and more responsive than its predecessor and in terms of security, Microsoft has pulled out all the stops to ensure we don’t fall victim to hackers and other nefarious cyber-threats.

What does this all mean in comparison to Chrome, Firefox et al? It seems to be a case of ‘close, but no cigar’ for Edge. Yes, it’s a massive improvement on the dinosaur that is Internet Explorer, but it still lags somewhat behind the leading browsing stalwarts; Chrome is still probably the best performing browser currently out there.

Microsoft Windows 10 Edge web browser
Trying to gain an Edge on Chrome and Firefox.

2. ‘Appy Days

One of the major selling points of Windows 10 is the universal app feature. Put simply, Windows Apps will now work on any Windows 10-supported platform, be it your PC, tablet, smartphone or even your Xbox One. This could be a major pull for developers, who can know create a one-size fits all app any machine, as opposed to having to re-write them for each platform, like the bad old days.

The hope for Microsoft is that this move will help to close the app-gap on Google Play and the Apple Store, the mammoths of the industry. For the typical user, convenience is the keyword here. That one change you forgot to make to that presentation on your PC earlier this morning can now be made from your phone on the way to the meeting, or that photo you took with your mates earlier today will be waiting for you on your Microsoft Surface tablet when you get home. Yes, Google Documents and Apple Continuity offers the same service, but Microsoft may have stolen a march with its ease of use.

Windows Apps will now work on any Windows 10-supported platform.
Windows Apps will now work on any Windows 10-supported platform.

3. Hey Cortana

How rude of us; here we are explaining the features of Windows 10 and we haven’t even introduced you to Cortana yet… Your own personal assistant, Cortana will never leave your side for as long as you use Windows 10. Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google Now, may be familiar to Windows Phone users, but this marks her debut on PCs and tablets. Simply stating: ‘Hey Cortana’ will awaken your digital assistant, and she will provide you with anything from leading news stories to weather updates. Just don’t expect her to make the coffee…

The more you use Microsoft 10, the better Cortana gets to know you and the more refined and personal information she can offer you. This can be very beneficial on Edge, as Cortana will monitor your browsing habits to make researching quicker and seamless. Want directions to that new restaurant in town? Just ask Cortana. Writing a university essay and struggling to comprehend that ridiculous-sounding term? Don’t fret, Cortana will explain all.

She’ll even tell you a joke, if you ask her nicely. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Cortana Micrsoft Windows 10
Cortana: your trusty personal assistant

4. A Fresh Start

A major reason for the launch of Windows 8 falling like a lead balloon back in 2012 was the dismantling of the Start screen. Instead, Microsoft opted to ‘modernise’ and use tiles instead, which only served to bamboozle its audience. Windows 10 sees the return of the popular start menu.

Tiles still exist in Windows 10, but they’re more of an accompaniment rather than the main event. Tiles can be organised into different groups, so your business-related folders and programs can sit together, or all of your gaming features can be found in one neat place. Put short, it’s a world away from the headache of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 and a successful attempt at going back to basics.

As simple as it sounds, the return of the Start button might just be the clincher to you deciding to download Windows 10.

Microsoft Windows 10 start screen
Windows 10 sees the return of the Start menu

5. Down to Business

Microsoft has seemingly gone to great lengths to win over businesses who were left disappointed with the complicated Windows 8. One failure of that operating system was the lack of businesses that made the switch; most were more inclined to stick with Windows 7.

Should your business make the switch to Windows 10? Early signs suggest you should. Windows 10 is smarter and safer than its predecessors. As we mentioned earlier, the new operating system is hot on making the service as secure as possible. Feature such as Microsoft Hello will require fingerprint readers and infrared cameras in order to authenticate devices. In terms of productivity, Universal Apps encourages businesses to store apps of interest in one area, allowing easy access for your employees, whilst work-mates can share content with each other through peer-to-peer delivery.

What’s more, gone are the days of waiting years for upgrades to your system. Instead, Windows 10 will offer regular updates to ensure your system is working at full capacity.

If all of this has gone over your head, why not grab some advice from an expert? Even better, knowledge is power

For more Bark.com tips and insight, why not check out our other blogs?

Is Windows 10 a new dawn for Microsoft, or is it a case of more of the same? Let us know