Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Northern Ireland Small Business Loan Fund has provided more than £1.5m of funding in 2015.

The Ulster Community Investment-managed scheme has now assisted more than 200 SME businesses in the country and confirmed that "demand continues to grow".

The fund provides access to finance for small businesses, sole traders and partnerships which are keen to develop their business but find it difficult to access funding through traditional sources.

In 2015, more than 70 companies in Northern Ireland have benefitted from the scheme with upwards of £1.5m having been made available over the past 12 months.

The fund, which is managed by Ulster Community Investment on behalf of Invest NI and delivered in partnership with Enterprise Northern Ireland, has helped support companies from a wide range of sectors including IT, leisure, tourism, food processing and construction.

The funding has been used for general start-up costs, refurbishment and repairs, machinery, franchise development, exporting and expanding.  READ MORE >>>

Funding ¦ Ardean

Thursday, 10 December 2015

100 Tools Every Marketer Should Know

As digital marketers, we all know that the right tools can make a big difference. They can increase our efficiency, help us collaborate, and organise everything that’s going on. With the help of these tools, we can do our jobs better.
Check out this list curated by Campaign Monitor, 100 awesome marketing tools you should know. These tools can help you manage projects, collaborate with your team, amp up your content efforts, increase your social media savvy, and so much more.  Read More >>>

Marketing Strategy ¦ Ardean

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Create Online Forms For Free

Collect and organize information big & small with Google Forms, for free.
Plan your next camping trip, manage event registrations, set up a quick poll, collect email addresses for a newsletter, create a pop quiz, and much more.

Go To Google Forms >>>>>

Marketing Communication : Ardean

Monday, 30 November 2015

10 tips to optimize your CTAs

Check out this actionable guide, you’ll learn tips for optimizing the text and design of your calls to action, within email campaigns, so you can get more click-throughs.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Food and drink business support and funding

Support and funding can help your business succeed and grow. There are a number of different types of support available for businesses in the food and drink industry.

This guide highlights the various sources of support available to help food and drink businesses in Northern Ireland.  It describes the financial support, advisory services and skills support you can access to start and grow your food and drink business.

Learn More From NIBusiness Info >>>>

Funding ¦ Ardean

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A European drive has been launched designed to help plug Northern Ireland's "immediate IT skills gap".

European push to plug IT skills gap
Representatives from Belfast-based IT3Sixty are this week attending recruitment fairs in Madrid, followed by planned visits to Helsinki, Krakow and Athens to engage IT professionals.

IT3Sixty, which has been established by local tech sector employers, is seeking to raise the profile of job opportunities in Northern Ireland and attract workers.

IT employers in Northern Ireland involved in the initiative include Liberty IT, Citi, Equiniti ICS, Deloitte, Total Mobile, Iconi, Version 1, Intel and Civica.

Read More From Insider Media >>>

Business Planning ¦ Ardean

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Village SOS - Are you missing out on valuable support?

Village SOS is an exciting new opportunity for rural based organisations to get practical support to develop a new project or add value to an existing project.  It is about rural communities being enterprising in their approach to developing a solution to a local issue.  The project may have a particular social economy focus but it simply can be about trying to develop a more sustainable service to meet local need.

Whilst the resources are relatively small this is a fantastic opportunity to at least bring a project from an idea to a plan.  It can provide flexible support to help organisations be ‘investment ready’ so that they may be in a stronger position to apply to upcoming funding opportunities. 

Rural Community Network (RCN) will coordinate all Village SOS activity in Northern Ireland and welcomes the opportunity to support your organisation in some way through this campaign. 

It does not involve an application process as such, rather a simple conversation to assess eligibility.  

Examples of projects supported
This programme is very flexible and will be tailored appropriately to the needs of each community.  However it is useful to share some of the experiences to date so we have summarised some of the support provided to date:

  • Bann Valley Community Group has been supported with costs towards the development of a video consultation with key stakeholders about a new proposed indoor sports complex and towards support for external consultancy for community consultation exercise
  • Dromboughil Community Association develop crafts and sell in stores and at craft fairs.  They were given practical financial assistance in developing a new ecommerce website for selling their products online
  • An Carn Ltd has been supported to develop a new bespoke range of Irish Pottery for sale in their craft shop and online
  • Maghera Cross Community Link has been supported to pilot a summer scheme which was to ascertain demand in the area for a new after schools club which is being considered
  • TIDAL (Toome) has been supported in bringing in some expert support to undertake a community consultation exercise and develop a new capital funding application.

To find out any further information about Village SOS please contact Fergal O’Donnell on 028 8676 6670, 07725 030295 or email fergal@ruralcommunitynetwork.org.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Mid Ulster, Town Centre Shop Improvement Scheme Now OpenThe Council's Town Centre Shop Improvement Scheme is now open and you can download information, including an application form, by clicking here.
The scheme offers a discretionary grant to property owners or tenants of up to 50% of eligible costs, capped at £10,000 per property, for external improvements to shop frontages and/or internal improvements visible to the public.
The scheme closes on Friday 13 November at 4pm.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

MenuCal tool to calculate calories and identify allergens

MenuCal is a free online tool.  MenuCal has been developed for food businesses in Northern Ireland to help identify, manage and communicate required allergen information and calculate and display Calories on menus.  It has been developed with the input of chefs, caterers and small business owners.

Launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), MenuCal helps food businesses identify if there are allergens present in any of the food they serve and make this information known to their customers. In addition, MenuCal also addresses healthier eating by calculating the calories in the food that businesses serve. The tool enables food businesses to add ingredients for recipes and print off menus with allergen and calorie information clearly displayed.

View Tool Here

Marketing ¦ Ardean

Monday, 12 October 2015


Mid Ulster District Council is to open a funding programme for improvements to businesses in five town centres.
The new scheme, which will see grants awarded for 50% of the costs, up to a maximum of £10,000 per property, will provide funding towards internal refurbishment works visible to the public, and external improvements to building frontages in Coalisland, Cookstown, Dungannon, Maghera and Magherafelt
Eligible businesses will include shops, financial and professional services, restaurants, public houses, caf├ęs and food takeaways.
The scheme will be publically advertised and will open in late October 2015 for applications.
In the meantime, any business wishing to register an interest in receiving an information pack when the scheme opens, should contact Davina McCartney, davina.mccartney@midulstercouncil.org, Paul McCreedy, paul.mccreedy@midulstercouncil.org or Mary McCullagh, mary.mccullagh@midulstercouncil.org, Tel: 03000 132 132

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


A new £13.8m EU funding call for research and innovation (R&I) projects targeted at small and medium sized enterprises has been welcomed by Northern Ireland's finance minister Arlene Foster.

The funding call, under the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is targeted at SMEs, micro-businesses and research institutions in Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.

It aims to encourage increased cross-border co-operation to promote higher levels of (R&I) in the development of new products, processes and tradable services.

Full details of the call, including expected results and outputs can be accessed here:

Applications to the call must be received no later than 3pm on Wednesday 21st October 2015. Applicants must be able to deliver upon all of the objective's outputs as detailed within the call.

Source: Insider Media

Funding : Ardean

Thursday, 1 October 2015


Eighty per cent of businesses surveyed across the UK are unaware they could be fined £20,000 per worker for underpaying the national minimum wage (NMW), according to the government.

From today (1 October 2015) NMW ra
tes increase for almost all employees, including apprentices.

However, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said many bosses are ignorant of the penalties for not paying it.A total of 84 per cent said they were aware of today's rate increase, however, only 26 per cent knew that the new rate for people aged 21 and over is £6.70.

Read More From Source Insider Media

Business Planning ¦ Ardean

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

NI companies 'losing out on millions' of R&D relief

Northern Ireland companies are losing out on millions of pounds of research and development (R&D) tax savings every year compared to their counterparts in Great Britain, according to Jumpstart.

New research by the company showed that despite an increase of 27 per cent year-on-year in the total R&D tax credits claimed in 2013-2014, Northern Ireland companies accounted for just 2.19 per cent of total claims and 1.46 per cent of the total tax benefits claimed.  Of the 420 Northern Ireland claims, 345 were from SMEs, 60 were from large companies and 15 were dual claims across both schemes.

Ian Wolfendale, client engagement manager for Jumpstart in Northern Ireland, said: "These latest HMRC figures are an alarming demonstration of just how much Northern Ireland companies are losing out in terms of tax savings compared to companies throughout the rest of the UK.

Read More >>>>

Funding : Ardean

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

7 Must Have Online Tools for Small Businesses

Click here to find out some of the best applications that small businesses must use.

Business Planning ¦ Ardean

8 free sites to get amazing images for your email campaigns

Images are a critical part of your email campaigns.
They help catch reader's attention, get them engaged in your content and drive clicks and conversions.
So to help you find great images for your campaigns, here's 8 sites that'll give you amazing images completely free of charge.
read more >>>>

Marketing ¦ Ardean

National minimum wage rates to increase from 1 October 2015

Reminder for employers that national minimum wage rates will increase from 1 October 2015
read more >>>>

Business Planning : Ardean

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

How to use UTM codes to track the success of your email marketing

How do you track the success of your email marketing efforts?
channels report for email marketingWhile measuring open and click-through rates are a great start, it’s useful to understand what people do on your website after they click-through from your campaigns.  
To do this, you can use UTM codes to tell your analytics tool that these people visited from your email campaigns and track exactly what they do on your site, from the pages they visited to the items they purchased.

How to write better preheader text in your next email marketing campaign

Do you use preheader text in your email marketing campaigns?
In the last five years, email opens on mobile devices have grown over 30%. There are now more emails opened on mobile devices than on desktops.
This shift to mobile has made the use of preheader text an important consideration for any marketer using email to grow sales and revenue.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

50 Must-Have Content Ideas for Your Email Newsletter

Email newsletters are a win-win. They benefit companies and consumers alike. Why? Email newsletters
give businesses a forum to send multiple messages to a captivated, qualified audience.

One of the best parts about email newsletters? Creating them is easy! The not-so-easy part is generating
content for newsletters month after month—it can prove challenging for even the most seasoned marketer. Read this 50 must-have ideas for your next email newsletter.  Read More >>>>

Marketing ¦ Ardean

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Bad debt hitting SME profits

Bad debts and late payments are hitting the bottom line at UK SMEs, with one in four facing problems, a new study has indicated.

The SME Confidence Tracker, compiled by Bibby Financial Services, found that about 25 per cent of SMEs are affected by their customers' inability to pay. This equates to about 1.3 million SMEs in the UK.

Read More>>>>

Business Planning : Ardean

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Six Essential Places to Put Keywords for Website SEO Success

Where to place keywords on your website. Image credit: seolinkbuilding.orgOnce you’ve researched the most effective and targeted keywords for your website, how do you go about optimising it – where are the most essential places to put your keywords?

Read More from Yell Business

Marketing Communication ¦ Ardean

Monday, 20 July 2015

2015 Report: The New Rules of Email Marketing

Email marketing is more powerful than it’s ever been. The past decade was the most exciting decade for marketers...and it’s getting better.  Click Here to read the full report on email marketing.

Marketing Communication ¦ Ardean

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Apprentice star targets UK-wide expansion


A star of BBC's The Apprentice, whose business plan was rebuffed by Lord Sugar, is targeting a UK-wide expansion of her company after partnering with a major food manufacturer in Ireland.

Read More >>>

Business Planning ¦ Ardean