5 Tips From Wakefield Business Week: Thriving in the Northern Powerhouse

As a small business owner in Wakefield, a city in the Leeds city region, I was keen to get as much as possible out of the Wakefield Business Week.

Today’s F5 (Refresh) Your Digital & Creative Skills was on point. It hit the sweet spot between appealing to non-technical small and medium business owners and advocating for productivity the tech and digital sectors offer.

Here’s 5 tips to help business owners thrive in the Northern Powerhouse:

1. Collaborate
From large organisations like Google, Microsoft and BT to regional influencers like the LEP, White Rose credit union and locals like Wakefield Council and Cognitiv, there’s an abundant opportunity to collaborate and grow.

Councillor Jack Hemingway, made it clear that Wakefield Council’s business support team were ready and willing to help businesses in Wakefield thrive.
Tip: Don’t go it alone, collaborate.

2. Go Local
Wakefield has a wealth of digital and creative companies that end up working outside the region. By getting in touch with a membership organisation like Cognitiv, you get access to expertise on your doorstep. From next month, the last Friday of the month will be a casual breakfast drop-in at Unity Works. Who know who’ll you meet?

Dan Conboy of Cognitiv laid out the pillars of their mission o make Wakefield a thriving place for small and medium enterprises: Collaboration, Promotion, Representation. These, along with promoting Code Club, digital literacy and facing common challenges like skills and training, make Cognitiv a valuable addition to Wakefield.
Tip: Go local for great talent.

3. Think about the Cloud
Could the cloud and related technology help your business innovate and grow? Daniel Langton of Microsoft showed it’s not rocket science to transform your business, no matter it’s size, with technology.

Think about your vision for your business, are you:

  • Paying too much?
  • Working effectively?
  • Trapping business insights in legacy tools or paper?
  • Communicating quickly and effectively?
  • Giving clients and employees what they want?
  • Over or under covered for information security?

Tip: Think about how technology could help your business thrive.

4. Be Mobile Friendly
Google is the de-facto platform for search and mobile is now overtaking desktops and laptops. To thrive, you need a website that tells your story and sells your brand. More than that, your website needs to be mobile friendly to rocket up Google’s ranking.

Abbey from the Google digital garage covered a number of free tools for business that can help with everything search-related including SEO – search engine optimisation, SEM – search engine marketing and more. See Google’s business page for more.
Tip: Make yourself easy to find, especially on mobile devices.

5. Eat the Free Lunch
At the end of the talks, a trio of organisations: the LEP, Tech Partnership and Leeds Beckett University urged small businesses to take advantage of funding for training. This one is a no-brainer for any business that needs to improve their skills to grow.

Both the LEP and Tech Partnership will fund up to 50% (with some additional criteria) and Leeds Beckett University introduced a number of other organisations that can help with funding, research, training and more.
Tip: Fund your skills and grow, the money is out there.

What Next?
Firstly, a huge “thank you” to Wakefield First for organising the free event. I learned a lot and met several talented and lovely local people. Next for my small business? I’ll be joining Cognitiv, popping into for a free consultation at Google Garage Leeds and taking advantage of the Wakefield Business Week. See you at the next breakfast meeting?

Header Image: WakefieldFirst logo

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