What does authenticity mean for small businesses?

Authenticity

Authenticity put simply is staying true to who you are, what you do and your audience. It’s about knowing your purpose as a business and making sure every action you take and the things you say aligns with that purpose. For example, if your business’ purpose is to tackle sustainability in your given sector and you preach being environmentally friendly, you need to make sure all you do serves that purpose.

Having a purpose as a business is important, because without purpose what’s the point? If you’re not living by that purpose, you’re being inauthentic and will lose trust and support in your business, which is why authenticity matters. This article will look at why you should care about authenticity in your small businesses and why it’s important to your customers.

The rise of the conscious consumer

Over the past few years, there has been a consumer shift toward supporting brands that have values that align with their own. Social issues and the environment are leading factors that consumers care about when shopping. They want to know what your business is doing for the environment and your stance on what’s going on in the world. Your customers care about authenticity.

What matters to consumers

  • 86%: Authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support1
  • 81%: Need to trust a brand before they make a purchase2
  • 66%: Transparency is one of the most attractive qualities of a brand3
  • 64%: Would buy from or boycott a business based on their stance on a political or social issue4

Case Study: Patagonia

“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”

Patagonia: Mission Statement

Patagonia lives and breathes its mission statement: Producing long-lasting, high-quality products made from ethically sourced materials and have programs that fund environmental causes worldwide.

They have managed to stay true to this from the very beginning. As a result, they are held in high regard by their customers. Through being authentic in their messaging and staying true to their views they have built trust.


Your business should strive to be:

1. Authentic

Authenticity is about staying true to yourself. Your actions should reflect your values.

Being authentic:

  • builds your identity
  • gives substance to your business
  • makes you relatable
  • builds trust in your business

Being authentic is about going beyond the profit-driven motive: What are your goals as a business? What do you stand for? What is your business’s purpose?

Remain consistent and back yourself up with action. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.

2. Trustworthy

Building trust builds long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Trust is earned:

It takes time to build trust and it’s so much more than providing a high-quality product or service. You also need to make sure that your customers find you reliable and provide them with an amazing experience with your business throughout their interactions with you: pre, during and post-transaction.

How to build trust:

  • good customer service
  • authenticity
  • consistency
  • being transparent
  • just being honest

3. Transparent

Show your customers what goes on behind the scenes.

Trust and transparency are linked. Being open about your business practices builds trust.

This can be being transparent about:

  • where and how you source materials
  • how you treat your employees
  • what you care about beyond making a profit

Transparency can help your business in being authentic, by being transparent about what your business is about and the actions you are taking builds on trust and authenticity.

4. Open with your values

Be vocal about the causes that you believe in. More importantly the things that matter to your customers.

Taking a stance on social and political matters is a double-edged sword for businesses, being active in matters that you truly care about is important and sharing this can go a long way with consumers.

However, trying to have a stance on everything can make you appear inauthentic to your audience. Consider the causes that really relate to you, your business and your customers.


Conclusion

The all-important takeaways from this are, as a small business you should:

  • define your purpose – what wider goal are you trying to achieve with your product or service?
  • establish your values, based on this goal – what do you care about beyond profit?
  • understand what values your customers care about concerning your business

Knowing these things can help drive your purpose and feed into your authenticity as a business. Being authentic matters to your customers and it can make you more reputable, trustworthy and ultimately build a much stronger relationship with your customers.

Enjoyed this blog? Why not check out our other articles here!


  1. https://stackla.com/resources/reports/the-consumer-content-report-influence-in-the-digital-age/
  2. https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2019-07/2019_edelman_trust_barometer_special_report_in_brands_we_trust.pdf
  3. https://www.accenture.com/t20181205t121039z__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/thought-leadership-assets/pdf/accenture-competitiveagility-gcpr-pov.pdf#zoom=50
  4. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/advisory-services/publications/consumer-intelligence-series/pwc-consumer-intelligence-series-customer-experience.pdf

Business with Ethics. Why we’re Joining the Better Business Act Coalition.

The past 18 months have pushed a combination of global and social concerns to the forefront including worker’s rights, the climate crisis, and social inequality. The Better Business Act (BBA) coalition is a cohort of business leaders committed to doing business with ethics.

What is the Better Business Act?

The Better business Act is an amendment of the Current Companies Act 2006 Section 172. The BBA will ensure that companies are legally obligated to operate in a manner that benfits their stakeholders. Including employees, customers, communities, and the environment. While seeking to deliver profits for shareholders.

As a result. Under the Current Companies Act 2006 Section 172, directors can consider stakeholders when making decisions. However, the interests of shareholders are the primary focus. The BBA would amend this and make the interests of the stakeholders the primary default position.

What real difference would the BBA make to society, the environment, and company ethics?

Making the interests of stakeholders the primary focus in business puts our society as a whole on a better and more stable path for success. Many companies face instability along their business journey. The BBA will seek to implement a culture of stability in the lives of stakeholders with the hope of influencing stability for businesses themselves. A sustainable business will only be sustained in a sustainable society and environment.

The BBA is a response from businesses taking responsibility for the influence they have on society and the environment. In addition to making stakeholder’s interests primary. The BBA will influence a shift in mindset in the boardroom, encouraging business owners to look beyond just growing their business. But build a company with a legacy and reform the duties of directors to deliver profits with a principled approach.

Will businesses change if the BBA is passed?

As a result. There will be a formalisation of procedure and a reform of culture in the way we as a society do business. Under the BBA, directors will not lose their interest in commercial success otherwise, they would potentially fail. A board would retain its focus on commercial success but, with a more holistic consideration of stakeholder issues and an approach to business with ethics,

Why is &facts joining the coalition of businesses supporting the BBA?

Here at &facts. We consider ourselves among the new generation of businesses that are asking themselves to set and achieve higher standards. By being a part of a BBA coalition of businesses we are actively working towards that. In conclusion, by joining the BBA coalition we believe that the commercial interests of our business go hand-in-hand with considering and understanding the interests and benefits of our stakeholders.

What other businesses are already a part of the BBA coalition?

Among the 400 businesses enlisted within the BBA coalition are. Bikmo, Patagonia, Iceland Food, and Ben & Jerry’s.

6 tips to get customers supporting your small business.

One of the main concerns for small business owners is how to get those first few customers engaged in supporting your small business. Or simply how to get more customers. A lot of the time small business owners will overlook what they already have. This article will explore six different ways of how to get those first few customers and build your clientele.

1. You’re a small business with a small network, so work it

Start with those around you. Your friends and family. Even if your business isn’t of their interest they may know someone who is your perfect customer.

If your network is a little wider than your friends and family, embed yourself in it. Your wider network may be your local community, co-workers, previous co-workers, or the only other 1 person you know that owns a small business. Build a genuine and strong alliance with the people in your network. If your network is smaller this may work in your favour. As the connection and relationship will likely be more exclusive and personal. There is no better advertising than a recommendation through word of mouth.

2. Find your niche

A niche in commerce is defined as. An offering of products, services, or serving interests that appeal to a specific or small section of the population.

Is your business specialist or generalist?
Does your business providive something specific to a particular audience, or is there something for everyone? Establishing if your business is specialist or generalist could be the starting point for finding your niche. Once you have found your niche, find where your audience gathers and join the conversation. The quickest way to reach an audience is online so find your online community, blend in and make links to your business available.

3. Give things for free, strategically

It may sound counter-productive but many small businesses take this route at the beginning of their journey. Offering your product/service for free at the start is a great way to get unbiased feedback on your business and create demand. By doing this you will have introduced your business to your customer at no cost or a lesser cost to them. When they come back to make another purchase they are already familiar with your business and will have remembered your previous generosity.

Eventually, you will need to move away from this model. Discounts and promotions are the perfect middle ground. Customers are always looking for the best deals. But the effects of the pandemic have left more customers looking for ways to save when they spend. Offering discounts/promotions are a great way to meet this demand, generate revenue, and keep customers incentified to stay up to date with your business.

4. Treat your customers like royalty

From the 1st 10 to 1st 100 and so on, treat customers like royalty.

Those first few customers, especially. Should feel and know that they are really a part of supporting your small business journey. Customers have so many big businesses to choose from to make a purchase. Let your customer know that their purchase into your small business means a lot to you with a personal note from the business owner, a freebie attached to the purchase, or a future discount code, etc. You can also create scheduled email communication with software such as MailChip and HubSpot to follow up with your customers, ask how they are feeling about their purchase, and to leave a review. These actions will build a relationship with your customers, keep them engaged with your business and make them want to tell others about your business.

5. Share your story

Sharing your story is a way to help create a connection with your customers but also future investors. Talk about how your business got started, your niche and, how your business is filling a gap in the market. Aside from a great business, a great story works hand in hand with making people feel connected to you and willing to purchase.

You can share your story by connecting with columnists or reaching out to online platforms so they can introduce your business to their audience, where your new customer could be waiting. When sharing your story and information about your business, be sure to supply links to your business to your chosen platform. This is called a backlink, a link from one website to another. Backlinks increase your SEO which is explained further in the final tip.

6. Blog

This may not apply to all businesses but, when used blog posts to websites increase traffic. Writing about topics that are relevant to your small business or industry, boosts your website’s SEO (search engine optimisation). Meaning the blog post on your website will rank higher when people are looking for similar content if your blog has distinct keywords. Blogs with a high SEO are a more effective type of advertising than your usual advert.

Adverts can be annoying and aren’t always relevant to the customer. When they are it can spook the customer somewhat. A survey conducted by databox.com has shown that marketing industry insiders say that SEO is 70% more effective at increasing sales than PPC campaigns. This is an online advertising strategy where advertisers pay a fee to a business, each time a customer clicks on a piece of content designed to drive traffic to a businesses website. Blogs are a great way to provide factual information, increase awareness of your business, provide information for free, and strategically attract new customers. Check out some of &facts previous blog posts.

In summary

Think outside the box but don’t overthink it when strategising how to get customers supporting your small business. Support for your small business is closer than you think, so amplify what you already have.

What is data analysis and why is it important?

In the golden age of information, data is everywhere. The words you type into google, the time you spend watching videos on YouTube, even how often you visit your favourite shop, data is constantly being collected, interpreted, and analysed all around us.

The ability to make the most out of the data will enable you to create success in all walks of life, from general decision making, improving your health or even starting your own business. The possibilities that arise from analysing data are endless, but just what is data analysis, and why is it important?

What is data analysis? 

Data analysis is the process by which data is collected, analysed, and interpreted to extract useful information that can assist in decision-making situations. Businesses can use multiple methods and techniques to analyse data; determining which is the best possible method for you depends on the nature of your decision. This may sound overwhelming, but this article will provide you with examples of how you can apply data analysis and make the most out of the decisions you make.[st1] 

Why is data analysis important? 

Data analysis enables you to see the whole picture. By interpreting information meaningfully, you allow yourself to remove the risk of guessing and assuming out of your work and ultimately make a more educated and precise decision. Below, this article details several examples of how you could use data analysis to improve your decision-making process and better your position in life.

Examples of the applications of Data analysis

Example 1) – Online E-commerce Business

Let’s say you are running an e-commerce business that sells an extensive range of products; you could guess which products are currently popular among consumers, purchase these goods and hope the products will sell. This is an option, but is it the best option? By trying to guess which products are going to sell, you are opening yourself to unnecessary risk. On the other hand, you could use analytical data tools to search the online retail market and find out: 

  • which products are currently most popular with consumers, 
  • which products have the highest profit margins, 
  • You could determine which products are being over-sold and which products are being undersold or 
  • You can find how much other similar sellers are paying in advertisement to get their products sold.  

By knowing all of these things, you are putting yourself in a stronger position to decide which items you will sell and how much you are going to charge. You are giving yourself a competitive advantage over other sellers by understanding the market. In summary, you are not only reducing your risk, but you are putting yourself into a stronger decision-making position, and how? By using data analysis.

Example 2) – Improving Your Health

Many people in life seek to improve their physical health; whether this is through dietary plans, physical workouts or by cutting out harmful products and practices, almost everyone is aware of ways to improve their health. For those many people who seek to improve their health, they may not be aware that they are probably already using either data analysis or data analysis products to do so. If you are counting the calories of a chocolate bar, you are using data analysis; you are collecting data (the calorific content), interpreting the data (seeing if it is in line with your daily calorie consumption), and based on that information, making a decision about whether you should eat the chocolate. Although this may be an elementary form of data analysis, it illustrates how even simple data can benefit you. Maybe you enjoy working out; if you do, you probably follow a workout plan; this workout plan will have been produced as a data analysis product. By determining which combination of exercises will be most effective in either burning fat, burning calories, or increasing muscle mass, it is possible to produce a workout plan that will be the most efficient method of giving you what you need. This is an example of how interpreting data can enable you to produce a process that will provide the most efficient outcome, allowing you to save yourself precious time, money and effort.  

Example 3) – Deciding which job to take.

As many of you will know, applying to jobs can be tiresome; not only is the process of becoming employed difficult but trying to determine where you should work, who you should work for and how much you should be paid can be strenuous tasks. Of course, as many people do, you can apply to as many listings as possible, regardless of location or company but will this land you a job that fits your needs? Probably not. However, using data analysis to refine your search will save you significant time, effort and will most likely lead to you taking a job that is more suited to your needs. To make the most out of your job, you should first determine what skills you possess and what jobs this skill set matches. You may already know which area you want to work in; if so, you should determine what the average salary for such a position is. By deciding this, you can refine the search criteria of available positions such that you will be paid according to the value you bring (nobody should be underpaid!). Once you have determined which jobs you will apply to, you should seek to find a company that meets your needs. Remember, data analysis is not just about numbers; look to find company reviews on websites such as glass door or Indeed and use this to gauge how well you fit into the company ethos. You can only enjoy working in a company which suits you. Sites such as Glassdoor provide you with all the information you could need when looking for a job. By finding and interpreting all the relevant information, appropriate salary, company reviews, company ethos and the best location for a job, you can seek jobs tailored to your standards and needs. Removing the trial and error process out of job hunting will ultimately lead to finding a job that suits you.

Can’t decide between two jobs? Check out this video from MIT on the applications of utility theory on searching for jobs – the video details how an economic principle, based upon how certain factors affect your happiness (utility), can help you determine the best choice. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCKk22kaZi4

Summary

The beauty of data analysis comes from its ability to enable you to make your own choice based upon the evidence in front of you; it may sound cliché, but the data doesn’t lie. The decisions you make based on data will be stronger than the guesses you would otherwise make.

Hopefully, this article has shown you just how critical data analysis is and how useful it can assist your thought processes. The examples in this article should illustrate how data analysis is not just a complex process used by mathematicians and scientists but also a fundamental tool in decision-making that has applications to nearly every choice you will make.

Remember, when incorrectly analysed, data can be misleading. If you want to learn the process of data analysis so you can make your own decisions, check out this article on the process and techniques of data analysis method of data analysis

&facts named amongst best SaaS companies in the UK by TechRound

We are delighted to announce that &facts has been announced as one of the top 66 SaaS (software as a service) companies in the UK by TechRound, the UK’s leading voice for startups. In a competition known as the SaaS 66, &facts has been praised for their innovation and contribution to a fast-growing area within the UK’s tech and startups industries.

The announcement follows a week of judging from an expert panel including Pete Hanlon, CTO at Moneypenny, Collette Allen, Services Director at Smart Search, Stephen Page, Founder of SFC Capital and Mina Samaan, Principle at MMC Ventures with a portfolio of successful startups including Gousto and Pact Coffee and Bloom & Wild.

Previous finalists of TechRound’s campaigns have included Monzo, TikTok, Revolut, PensionBee and many others who have gone on to achieve huge success and this year we have seen Cyclr, Robinhood and Wefarm take the top spots.

TechRound is the UK’s leading voice for UK startups and SMEs, as well as industry news and opinions and the SaaS66, is an ideal platform for companies in a sometimes-under-appreciated sector of the UK economy to shine. TechRound has always been a great place to showcase the UK’s startup talent and the remarkable progress continually made in the startup and tech industry by so many companies.

TechRound co-Founder David Soffer commented: “Software as a service (SaaS) is something we all use on a regular basis, and the last year has only highlighted this further. The UK has given rise to so many fabulous companies in this space who are innovating and doing incredible things with their companies.

TechRound co-Founder Daniel Tannenbaum commented: “The TechRound team have been so impressed with the calibre of candidates and it is truly remarkable what the UK has to offer in terms of SaaS – and ultimately how far SaaS has come in the last decade.”

“We saw a number of quality candidates who are using SaaS technology to make life simpler and also address real problems in the organisation and society.”

“We’re incredibly proud to be able to feature the SaaS66, a campaign which showcases the exceptional startups that the UK has to offer the world. TechRound is passionate about making sure startups and innovative businesses in the UK are given the voice and recognition they deserve – and the SaaS industry was a great sector for us to shine a light on.”