Savvy Blog

Spotlight Business of the Month

Working with a bank of freelancers on a project by project basis, The Zebra Partnership founded in 2000 is a publishing, campaign and events agency that can white label, co-produce or work under their own logo. They also have Zebra Comics which is books, graphic novels and comics. Two of their publications are in the official Pankhurst Centre Library. 

The Zebra Partnership is headed by Carol Ann Whitehead, a Royal Society of Arts Fellow and award-winning magazine publisher, Carol Ann is a communications expert with experience organising a variety of events from 8 to 8000, U.K. and overseas, plus organising five royal visits since 2004. 

A former Associate Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and Trustee of Walk the Plank Arts Charity, Carol Ann is also an advocate for equality and diversity she has organised International Women’s Day events since 2013. She is co-founder of the Ada Lovelace Day Zebra Wikieditathon, which aims to increase women’s global presence on Wikipedia from 17% and contributors from 10%. #ZebraTribe #Wikieditathon is very proud to be on History Pin.

Carol Ann collaborated with feminist charity FiLiA to bring their globally recognised annual conference to Manchester for 2018. Shes back planning the FiLiA 2019 conference which brings together like minded women, fighting injustices across the world, fighting #violencetowardswomen, pay disparity, #discrimination against refugees, #racism, #classism. No topic is taboo.

Carol Ann was invited by her MP to join 300 MPs and fellow potential MPs at the historic #AskHerToStand event at the Palace of Westminster the campaign is striving for 50% representation of women in Parliament.

Carol Ann is proud to be a 50:50 Parliament Ambassador.

As part of ‘The People’s Hub’ campaign team she delivered a lecture at the United Nations Youth Association in Denmark. The team are now working to support the UN Global Goals and planning a workshop for the UN Festival in 2019.

Five Social Media Tips For Small Businesses


Every month we feature a business who is offering an opportunity on  This month we are delighted to feature a guest blog from Sarah Bennett, Director of TechandToast

You’re running a small business and you understand that you need a social media presence. It’s difficult though, right? Not enough time, not enough resource or maybe you’re not sure if you need social media to grow your business?

83% of the UK adult population use social media and this figure is rising. What do they use it for? Well, of course, selfies, chatting and sharing cat memes but did you know that a recent UK study showed that 50% of people do not trust a business until they see “proof” that it’s reputable? How do they do that? Well, they go online.

With 40% of people heading online to research before every purchase, if your business doesn’t have a strong online presence, you’re missing out.

Social media for business often gets people in a tangle. Yes, you can potentially damage your reputation if you mishandle a complaint or a situation online. But, with a strategy and using common sense, this can be easily avoided. If you recognise social media for its benefits as a tool in your marketing armoury, then you’re half-way there. Here are five social media tips for small businesses.

Be Human (With Filters!)

The best advice I can give you is to pretend you’re a party host. You want your party to be memorable (for the right reasons!), talked about by others (sharing of your posts) and you want people to book you to host their parties too. You should relax, have fun, ask questions and put your party guests first. Focus on the benefits of supporting your business, rather than what’s in it for you.

If you were hosting a party, you wouldn’t just shove a sausage roll in someone’s hand and say “ have this! ”  – which is a mistake that much small businesses makes on social media. They think they’re there purely to sell “ Buy this, try this, use this…” etc.  In reality, you’re there to offer the full buffet to your party guests, explaining what each dish is, considering whether they’ll enjoy it (or not) and topping up their drinks at the same time! Concentrate on what the benefits are to your social media followers. Not, just on making sales.

Personality sells. Authenticity sells. People want to hear and see the human side of any business. Had a successful week? Talk about it! Got a new member of staff? Tell people. Struggling with a problem? Ask for solutions. Just stay away from politics, religion and controversy. Leave that for ranting on your personal Facebook page!

Plan Ahead

There’s a lot to be said about strategy. Social media without planning will fail. You don’t have to produce an all-singing, all-dancing strategy document to succeed. Keep it simple. Concentrate on:

  • Your aims and objectives.
  • Measurable and realistic goals.
  • Content to be shared.

Don’t forget obvious sources of inspiration, such as calendar days. Halloween, Christmas, and even the just wintry weather could all be topics for discussion online.

Most social media can be scheduled in advance and this can often be a lifesaver for the small business. Dedicate an hour or so each week for scheduling. My only reservation is to consider that you need a human element to your social too. Don’t schedule absolutely everything. Post some “ real time” posts and don’t forget to engage with people.

The Magic 3

Consider the ‘magic 3’ when creating your posts:

  • Copy
  • Images
  • Call to action

You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write effectively. Think of your audience, be clear and concise and watch your spelling and grammar. Focus on the benefits for your audience and not just features.

Every post should have an image. Static or video. Engagement on posts without images is significantly less. Why? They just don’t catch people’s attention. Try and avoid cheesy stock images if you can. Take your own or it can be worth having professional images taken. Video is “ huge ” at the moment. People react to them and the social media platforms like them too – especially Facebook. Share a video on your business page and it will be seen by more people organically than a standard image.

We often forget to include calls to action in social media posts. Why? Well, sometimes we assume people know what to do and also, we’re just too polite! A solid ‘cta’ can make a huge difference. If you want people to click on a link/message you/call/share etc, just say so.

Mix and Match

As part of your strategy, consider the types of posts that you can create. There’s no solid formula, but aim for no more than 20% sales posts. So, what do you do for the other 80%? Try these ideas:

  • Third party content that appeals to your audience
  • Local news
  • The occasional meme
  • Stories about your business
  • Inspirational content
  • Facts and figures
  • Hints and tips
  • Ask questions
  • Content generated from your audience
  • Live video (Facebook Live, Instagram TV etc)
  • Testimonials
  • Blog content

    Consider Paid Social

    It’s still possible to grow accounts and gain leads organically. But, it’s hard. Let’s be honest. Organic reach has fallen through the floor for many businesses.

    Paid social, aka social media advertising is a growing market. The main platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This type of advertising can be very effective and you can get a great return on your investment. You don’t have to spend a fortune either.

    It’s not a golden ticket, but, if you get your targeting right, your ad copy resonates with your audience and of course your product is appealing then you can reap the rewards.

    Social media is a challenge for most businesses. You need to be creative, responsive, interesting and proactive – all whilst running your business!  You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to plan ahead and make the most of everything that is available to you.

    I can prepare your accounts for £750+VAT. All businesses catered for. Get in touch for a quote. Sarah Bennett, Tech and Toast



Landing Your Dream Job

Every month we feature a guest blogger who has provided an opportunity on  This month we are delighted to feature a blog from Jo Needham, Commercial Team Leader at Bennett Staff Bureau.

“Cocktail Taster required for Barbados Beach.  Free accommodation and ££££’s excellent!”

So, you’ve seen your dream job advertised, and you know that now is the time to make that change.  You also know that a role like this is going to attract a hoard of CV’s describing candidates who (possibly) have more cocktail tasting experience than you, (highly unlikely though ….)

How do you make certain that your CV shines like the Bajan sun and clouds out all the rest?

First and foremost – spell and grammar check!  This is imperative!! Even though your dream job may be hundreds of sun loungers away from a computer, you need to prove to your prospective employer that you care enough about his job to get your CV punctuation-perfect!!

Layout.  This sun-loving/cocktail shaking Adonis is going to be wading through loads of CVs, and reading paragraphs can be tedious (especially with the sun beating down on your flip-flops).  So

  • Bullet point duties you have undertaken!  Much more digestible to read.

Make sure to include any training you have done (that “course” you did on Benidorm beach).

But – keep it truthful!  Telling porkies only brings trouble sooner or later!

Try and keep your masterpiece to 2 pages long.

Finish with your interests and hobbies. You may share similar interests with your reader, like sipping Strawberry Daiquiri’s on a white, sandy beach watching the sun go down!

Good luck!!





Post Exit and Acquisition – a Success Story

Post exit and acquistion


Post Exit and Acquisition. Each month we feature a business to guest blog who is offering an opportunity on Savvy Guest. The month we are delighted to feature The Future Ltd. MD,Kathryn Orange works  with SME leaders and Investors that are looking for business improvements/growth and/or have acquired businesses. Kathryn goes onto say….

We often hear following the exit of a business owner failure stories of how a process went wrong.   This is not always the case because of the sensitivity of an acquisition, therefore, success stories are not written about.  Importantly, there is always a consideration for the changes that are underway and confidentiality.

The success story I’d like to share was driven by looking at the organisations future goals and checking that the existing team structure was aligned for delivery of goals.


There was early recognition that a senior management team could not be created from the level 2 managers (an interim team was in-place to manage the transition).  The medium to long-term strategy was to create this new leadership team within an agreed budget.  A daunting task as the budget was to promote from within and not recruit externally (delaying plans and increasing costs).

So, what happened and why was it a success in the end?

We simply spoke to everyone confidentially, shared the vision, strategy and plan whilst understanding their personal position (i.e. time to retirement, career aspirations etc).  Taking time out to listen and understand.  By doing this we identified that a number of the team members wished to retire/other and were comfortable to support the new plans and suggested great ideas.  By doing this we were able to upskill some of the management teams, extended the interim (where needed) and recruit a leader (to drive the new way forwards) and all within budget.

Success!  Yes, post Exit and Acquisition – it can be done.

In this success story add another 4 checks into the ‘Action Plan’

Communicate early the short, medium plans and ask the teams by each level what they would like to see change (anonymously) – understand why

Consider the structure and capabilities of the team to see if anyone is ready to take the next level promotion (they know how the business works)

Set new parameters of control (approval levels, who to go to etc)

Create a challenges and opportunities list and prioritise it – there may be some quick wins.

If you are a business and would like to offer an opportunity please register on out website.

Savvy Guest

Savvy Guest



Travel and Cruising with Travel Counsellors

cruise collection

Cruising on the high seas

Cruising with Travel Counsellors

Every month we feature a business who has offered an opportunity on Savvy Guest to be a guest blogger. This month we are proud to feature Gary Manners, Personal Travel Counsellor. With the summer travel season on the doorstep, Gary explains about cruising and the exciting places you can visit.  Gary goes onto say….

If you’re new to cruising and if you’ve never set sail on a Cruise Ship before, you might be surprised by what you’ll find. Imagining tiny rooms? Lukewarm dinner? Nothing to do? Instead, picture immaculate staterooms with balconies so you can feel the sea breeze. Fine dining to rival on-shore restaurants. And thrilling entertainment from Broadway Shows to language lessons and Rock Climbing Walls.

There is no “standard” Cruise Experience, every cruise is different, and can be enjoyed across a vast range of cruise companies, all of whom offer different itineraries, amenities and dining options. Be it a large ship cruising around the Caribbean, sailing into exclusive, secluded ports on an ultra-luxury vessel, spotting Whales and penguins, while exploring Antarctica, or a leisurely river cruise along the blue Danube, there really is a cruise for everyone. You can visit many exciting countries and wake up in a different destination every day. If you would like more inspiration and ideas, or to chat to Gary about his Travel experience, register on

Savvy Guest


Savvy Guest will give you the opportunity to meet with and spend a short time with someone in a job role.   You will be able to ask questions that don’t usually appear in a job description and it will help you to make better choices about your future career options. Being a Savvy Guest will give you the opportunity to ask questions you have always wanted to ask about a job role and gain realistic job expectations.

savvy guest

Savvy Guest receive a GM Social Value Award

Savvy Guest is delighted to receive a 2018 GM Social Value Award from Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce in recognition of our hard work and time dedicated towards a great cause.

The GM Social Value Awards were launched to say thank you to the businesses for their dedication and support towards supporting GM and local communities.  The awards programme was created to formally recognise the hard work, time and resources that have been given by businesses on initiatives which have benefited the wider community – such as school programmes, employing ex-offenders through our Apprentice Share programme and Young Chamber activity.

For further information on how your business can participate in the awards programme

We are constantly striving to ensure we offer a variety of opportunities on 

If you are a business and wish to offer an opportunity please join us. Information on our home page


How to Market Effectively on a Shoestring!

Every month we  feature a guest blog from a business offering an opportunity on

This month we are pleased to feature Defero Consultancy Ltd. Val Dickinson, CEO continues

When Defero first set up in business I started advising SMEs on all the aspects of Marketing. Having the relevant qualifications and having worked in what they call …the  ‘Marketing, Creative and Digital’ Sector for many years I felt I had the appropriate experience to actively engage and encourage smaller micro businesses on their aspects of Marketing.

Initially, rather than embrace me with open arms I found they virtually grimaced when I mentioned the dreaded’  M word and if  I stared any harder I would have seen the £ signs in the whites of their eyes.  Was this reaction unexpected?  No…not really because, and I think it’s fair to say when you mention ‘Marketing’ or ‘Marketing budgets’ many think it is an extremely expensive commodity and as a startup they couldn’t possibly afford to invest into many marketing initiatives.

Expensive – well the Marketing approach can be expensive as you want it to be especially if the tactics lend themselves to be in the ‘above the line’ category i.e., bus campaigns, billboards, 48 sheets, radio, and TV advertising. However, there are ways to market that are cost-effective and doesn’t cost the earth and ….you get results.

For example PR and third-party endorsements. Testimonials are brilliant pieces of prose to compliment your services, and if you have provided good service ask your client or supplier to write a short recommendation for you. Many do not refuse and you have the evidence to display across social media platforms, your website and your company portfolio. Those few words of gratitude and commendable comments about your products and service are invaluable. They carry a lot of credibility and best of all, they are ‘free’.

Biographies are also valuable marketing selling tools,  and they say a lot about a person, their experience, and their character. However, it also depends on how they are written.  It is always difficult to write positively about yourself as we are a ‘modest’ lot deep down. If you struggle with exposing yourself in the written form ask a ‘professional writer’ to pen one for you. I have written many bios for clients who have been delighted by the results.

So..there you are a couple of tips on how to utilise Marketing and PR without it costing the earth.

Defero Consultancy can support your Marketing requirements.

Direction with Creativity and Experience.


If you would like to chat with any of our businesses register

The Life of an Accountant with Delta Solutions

Sue Weighell, Director Delta Solutions

Every month we feature a  guest blogger who is offering an opportunity on

This month we are proud to feature  Sue Weighell Director of Delta Solutions. Sue goes on to say…

An accountant! Who would dream of being an accountant? Certainly not me when I was at school and considering my career.

But in being an accountant I have found my dream job. And for someone who didn’t enjoy maths, you may find this surprising. Being an accountant is not about maths ability but more about logic, balance and organisation.

I worked for an accountancy firm for some years and my job typically involved accounts preparation, audit and tax. Over the years I moved more to IT – designing systems and spreadsheets for businesses. No two days were ever the same – different projects, different clients, different challenges. I loved it.

After a short break and two children, Sue’s career changed direction and she took on a part-time Finance Manager role for a local high-tech company.  Sue worked there for  14 years and as the company grew her role grew and she became full-time Finance Director. And although Sue was working for one “client”, she still had different projects and different challenges and loved it. Sue planned to spend the rest of her working life there but after some changes, she decided to take redundancy and change track again.

Sue continues…I would combine the two roles – work for different clients in a Finance Director type role. I have built a lot of experience over the years and can bring that experience to help a business grow on a strong financial foundation. I act as mentor and advisor to directors and become a key part of their company. People skills are equally as important as technical knowledge.

Sue Weighell

One of my main challenges now is being organised and keeping all my clients on track with different deadlines. I am kept on track with my online “to do” list and monthly checklists of those deadlines, really using my organisation skills. So I am glad I found accountancy where I can use my strengths.

To chat with Sue and find out about the role of the Accountant register



Tandem Financial Solutions and Savvy Guest

Tandem Financial solutions


Every month we a feature a business that has offered an opportunity on to be our guest blogger. This month we are delighted to feature  Graham Niven  –  Business Funding Specialist, Tandem Financial Solutions Ltd. Graham has provided a question and answer blog highlighting some of the services they offer.

Graham goes on to say…..

So what do I do? –

Essentially I do four things

  1. I find funding for businesses – from Banks to Business Angels and everything in-between (and it is a lot in-between)
  2. I prepare Business Plans and Profit and Loss / Cash Flow Forecasts to help clients support funding applications
  3. I train people how to pitch in front of business angels
  4. I love what I do!

There is a lot of funding around – debt, equity and grants – it’s all about putting the right proposal in front of the right funders and I make sure my clients do that.

Effectively I act like a dating agency in that I have clients who need funding and I have funders who want to lend/invest. My task is to put the client’s proposal in as best a light as I can and then make sure it goes to the most appropriate funder.

Where do I do it?

Mainly in the North West  –  Greater Manchester / Lancashire/Merseyside / Cheshire-Warrington. I will help clients all over the country but it’s just simpler doing it “local” and there is a lot of business around here

Who are my customers?

Anyone looking to raise funding – could be a start-up – could be a business that has been going for years and is looking to grow – or could be someone looking to buy a business. There is funding out there for every option.

How do I charge

I sometimes charge a success fee, based on the funds I help raise, I sometimes charge an hourly rate for plans/forecast work and then sometimes it is a combination of the two.

Successes to date

I’ve helped many businesses raise funding  –  I always say I do £10k-£10miilion but my sweet spot is £25k – £500k. It has been a mixture of debt finance and equity finance, with the odd bit of grant finance. My best deal was an equity one where the client and the angel met on a Thursday/ spoke all weekend on the phone, met again on Wednesday – shook hands on a deal – and they are still working together now!

Graham Niven

Funding Available

There is so much funding around but here are just a few :

Bank Lending –  Greater Manchester Loan Fund  –  Start-Up Loan –  Northern Power House Loan Fund –  Creative England Loan Fund  –  Invoice Finance  –  Asset Finance  –  Tier Entrepreneur Scheme – Rosebud fund –  MSIF Fund  –  North West Business Angels  –  Commercial Angel Networks – R&D Tax credits.  –  I could go on!

For an opportunity to have a pre-career chat with Graham, register at

Creating Adventures and Savvy Guest

Every month we feature a guest blog from  a business that is offering an opportunity on Savvy Guest. This month we are delighted to feature Jenny Allcock who is the  Founder of Creating Adventures, a charity  established after recognising the gap in services for adults aged 18+ with Autism and complex learning disabilities.

Jenny goes on to say I previously worked at a children’s charity where the children accessed not only new activities but also the opportunity to escape the barriers and troubles they faced daily. However, I noticed that they were turning adults away and after talking to a number of organisations working with these adults, found that there really is a lack of services especially for those with more complex needs.

After a rigorous application process in June 2016 I received a letter from the Charity Commission confirming the registration of Creating Adventures and set out on the journey of fundraising and developing activities for adults across Cheshire, Manchester and Lancashire. “It’s been quite a year for us as we have achieved so much! We were successful with a Big Lottery Fund bid which is providing 32 adults with music sessions over 8 months where they create their own soundtrack using the Garageband Software on the iPad and their own vocal ability taking into account that many adults with Autism are non-verbal. This project which takes place in Stretford is going extremely well in so many ways, we have recognised talent amongst our adults and for some it has provided them with a song to be used as a coping mechanism when they feel anxious. We have had two successful charity fundraising events, a Spring Ball at the Midland Hotel and a Ladies Lunch at Mere Court. Both of these events have not only raised us vital funds with the Ball raising £22,000 but they have more importantly helped us to raise our profile. Our second project starts on 20th October in Cheadle Heath, running fortnightly art sessions to allow our service users to express themselves through art forms with a view to exhibiting their artwork.

I think that the hardest thing I have found throughout my journey is working alone. I have always worked as part of a team and then suddenly I find myself working alone. I have three wonderful Trustees to run ideas past and to help me take Creating Adventures in a certain direction but I really miss having people around me and a team to bounce ideas off on a daily basis.


Our aim is to develop our activities and fundraising so that one day we can grow the team. I am currently covering all aspects of the charity, I suppose like many business owners do at first but it’s hard juggling the roles involved in running the charity including marketing, fundraising, finance, organising the activities for the adults, networking for both our service provision and for the fundraising side, basic administration, ensuring we meet guidelines with the Charity Commission and also Safeguarding our Service Users by having all of the policies procedures and checks in place not forgetting organising the events to raise us money. I have struggled with juggling the tasks, because people often say that I must prioritise but in my mind, they are all a priority and many need to be completed at the same time. However in a Trustee meeting last month we decided that three key tasks should be the backbone of the charity for the next 6 months: Fundraising through trusts and foundations; developing our activities; and marketing our progress through press releases and social media.


We are therefore now more than ever trying to be heard, to emphasise the vital need for Creating Adventures. All children with disabilities and autism grow up, when they leave school…what then? There becomes this big empty space of time to fill but the many services that once existed in and around school life are no longer there. Many of these adults are not given employment or struggle with skills surrounding employment so the days are long and without stimulating activity to fill their days, many of these adults exist but are not living life to the fullest. We at Creating Adventures want to change this and provide them with stimulating activities which are also therapeutic to enrich their lives, offer them an improved quality of life and improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Our long term aim is to create an oasis where the adults can meet, create their own community, access a number of indoor and outdoor activities but most importantly provide them with a place and a space to socialise and relax.

If you are interested in chatting to Jenny about her job role register at