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Big brand marketing on a start-up budget – how freelancers can help  

The right marketing and PR can supercharge your business growth, putting your brand on the map, driving sales and building up a loyal user base for your products and services. Yet, for many start-up and small businesses, it can be difficult to know where to start, without the resources and expertise that bigger brands take for granted.

If you’ve recently landed some investment, you may have a small budget to play with, but that doesn’t mean you can splash the cash willy-nilly! Investors want to see bang for their buck, so finding affordable and effective solutions is essential. Money can quickly get gobbled up by ill-considered marketing and PR strategies, overspending on staff, or using expensive agencies.

And while there are some activities you can do yourself, there comes a point when you simply don’t have the time to take it all on. There are only so many jobs and activities an entrepreneur, or small team, can manage on their own, plus for many aspects of marketing and PR, specialist expertise and experience can make all the difference.

Welcome to the freelance revolution

To overcome these challenges, an increasing number of start-ups and small businesses are taking advantage of the growing freelance marketplace, giving them PR and marketing expertise on a flexible and affordable basis. With nearly two million independent workers across the UK, a growth of 36 per cent rise since 2008, it’s easier than ever to find the perfect person for your needs.

Marketing and PR has always been a popular area for freelancers, with many talented professionals going it alone, armed with their laptop, smartphone and contacts book. These flexible, often remote workers, usually have a number of years’ big brand experience under their belts, which means you benefit from the same level of expertise, industry knowledge and contacts as you would get from a larger agency, but at a fraction of the cost, and without being tied into a hefty retainer.

You can find freelance professionals with a whole range of specialist skills - from copywriting to social media strategy, design to media relations -  as well as spanning a range of levels of experience and budgets. And if you want more support, there are also opportunities to work with a team of freelancers who can collaborate to offer a full service like an agency, but without the overheads.

Tools and technology

One of the reasons freelancing has become so popular of course comes down to new technology, with numerous online tools and talent platforms that make finding and working with these professionals simple and straightforward. With The Work Crowd, for example, posting a job on the site gives you immediate access to over 1,400 vetted PR and marketing freelancers, who you can invite to apply for your role. With invoicing, payment and management tools integrated into the system, it also helps you stay on top of the admin once your project gets underway.

Working with freelancers

Ready to supercharge your marketing with some freelance support? Here’s some practical advice on getting started:

  • Create a clear brief: Take some time to decide exactly what you need, how long for and what are you prepared to pay? Also think about whether you’re happy to work with a remote freelancer, or would rather meet face-to-face.
  • Don’t just go for the cheapest option: Some freelancing sites encourage a race to the bottom in terms of fees. But before you snap up that copywriter for £2.50 an hour, remember that a slightly higher budget is likely to mean higher quality work, service and ultimately better results.
  • Interview a shortlist: It might be tempting to pick your freelancer quickly, particularly if you’re eager to get started. But try to take the time to speak to your top three choices, either by phone, face to face, or videoconference, so you can get a better feel for their fit.
  • Ask for references: References from past clients will give you confidence in a freelancer’s ability to deliver. With The Work Crowd, you can see details of an individual’s experience, past clients and testimonials on their profile page, plus all our freelancers are vetted before joining the site. 
  • Set a trial period: Many clients choose to set an initial trial project or period for their freelancer (paid of course!), to check that their work and the relationship is what they’re looking for.
  • Set milestones: Set some targets and milestones for the project, so you have a way to plan, track and approve project deadlines.

Alice Weightman is Founder and CEO of The Work Crowd, an online platform that connects quality freelancers with exciting projects.

Exploring the UK Freelance Workforce in 2015 by IPSE



What's next for small businesses now Britain has voted to Leave the EU?

Friday 24th June's EU referendum results shocked everyone, including ardent Brexiters who thought the country would be risk averse and vote to Remain.

That wasn't to be, so now after weeks of politicians indulging in drama and farce that made 'The Thick of It' look tame, what are the new realities for business in a post-Brexit future?

Here's our six point guide on how the country might move forward:

  1. We are still in the EU so whilst everything changed on Friday 24th June, it actually all stays the same until the infamous Article 50 is triggered. Once triggered, negotiations with the EU about our withdrawal begin. We have two years to complete the talks (it can be extended on consensus from the EU 27). So until such time, it's business as usual. Theresa May, who will be the next Prime Minister, has previously stated that she would not trigger Article 50 until next year (once we investigated options thoroughly and when we have a clear negotiating position).
  2. If you're disappointed about the referendum result, it is unlikely that we will get an opportunity to vote again to change the outcome except in the following circumstances: the deal that is negotiated i.e. the actual Brexit relationship we'll have with the EU is put to the people and it is rejected; an early general election is called and a pro-Remain party or platform is voted in on an overwhelming mandate. As we are a parliamentary democracy, a general election would overturn the referendum result, which in itself is not legally binding and is not a means by which decisions are made in this country - though David Cameron had always said he would respect it come what may. Our next Prime Minister has said 'Brexit means Brexit', so the former is more likely once negotiations have concluded rather than a general election. However, Theresa May has now become Prime Minister without a contest so there may well be calls for a general election on the basis that she has no mandate to run the country (similar to what the Conservatives said about Gordon Brown).
  3. Additionally, for those of you disappointed with the result, there is still the possibility that MPs could vote against triggering Article 50  in what would be seen as them acting in the best interests of the country and upholding the sovereignty of parliament, and such a scenario could build momentum though whether Remain supporting MPs of Leave voting constituencies will want to face the wrath of their constituents remains to be seen.  
  4. Lastly, if you're looking for further ways in which Brexit might not be realised, keep an eye on Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who might be up for throwing us into a constitutional crisis that may well put the brakes on an exit.
  5. Theresa May has hinted in both of her major speeches that restricting freedom of movement of people is a priority over the single market. We will have to wait to see how this plays out.
  6. So whilst there is a little more political certainty i.e. we know who the Prime Minister will be and we'll likely have a new Cabinet by the end of the week, we are still no further to quelling some of the wider uncertainty arising as a result of the referendum, especially because Brexit supporters are convinced that Theresa May will stall and will never trigger Article 50.

So now the political landscape is clear (or not), where does that leave you and your business? We suggest, whilst it is very possible that Brexit doesn't happen (for some of the reasons outlined above), that you don’t rely on this scenario. Unlike our politicians, it is best to plan for an eventual Brexit. Contingency planning in this case is paramount in allowing you to ensure that your business can withstand any future potential shocks.

We gathered a couple of views from members in The Brew as to the impact the Vote to Leave has had on their businesses so far.

Chris Skitch, Founder & CEO, Didgeroo

Mark Rock, CEO, The Adio Corporation

The Guardian Small Business Network also shares experiences from small business owners, you can see the round up here.

What happens next?

We have found Grant Thornton's handy insights assessing the impacts to be useful as well as their business planning tool.

Also, check out:

Mechanisms for leaving the EU

Possible UK/EU economic arrangements

Brexit Essentials: A Practical Guide for Businesses

Brexit Guide for Small Businesses

Overview of Small Business Groups Advice Post-Brexit


Justina Cruickshank, Commercial Director, The Brew: Why I am Voting to Remain


EU and small businesses in London

Part Two

EU Referendum: What affect will Brexit have on UK SMEs?

With the referendum date fast approaching, the media is awash with social, political and economical arguments for staying in – or leaving – the EU.

With SMEs accounting for nearly half of the UK’s economy, we're examing the positive case of EU currently benefits the nation’s greatest source of revenue.
As the recent FSB report shows, of all SME owners surveyed there’s only a slight tip of opinion towards staying in the EU - 47% of members indicating Remain compared to 40.9% saying they'd Leave and the rest - 11% - are undecided.

In this, the second of two posts, we explore the impact that Brexit would have on sectors that are already blighted by talent shortages.

The UK – Europe’s Digital Capital

A recent report by techUK, Tech London Advocates and the Centre for London found that there are 1,560,000 digital tech jobs in the UK and 58,000 digital tech businesses. On top of that, while the UK workforce grew by 4% between 2011 and 2014, the digital tech sector grew by 11.2% and became a cornerstone of the UK economy. Last year alone, the digital tech sector raised over £1.6 billion for UK PLC, smashing the £1.3 billion that it contributed to the UK economy in the previous year.

However, the same survey also discovered that 43.38% of those surveyed thought the biggest challenge facing the sector was ‘lack of talent’. 93% of digital tech businesses also thought the current skills gap was negatively impacting their business.

At present, the way that businesses address this issue is to bring in skilled workers, technicians and employees from within the EU. The UK’s membership allows citizens of EU member countries to work within the UK without a permit. If Britain opts out of the EU, citizens of member states would no longer have automatic rights to work in the UK and it will fall on the employer to ensure that their workers are working legally.

James Chappell, founder of Digital Shadows, a tech start-up, explained to ITpro how remaining part of the EU is vital to their success:

 "[The UK has] great connections with Europe in terms of sourcing talent from the EU without requiring a visa, and that gives us access to a much larger talent pool than we’d otherwise have... It’s a really great environment to start a small business and to try to grow it."

In fact, many London businesses feel that leaving the EU will compromise its status as digital capital of Europe and hand the title over to Berlin or other burgeoning digital hotspots.

Of the 10 Fintech companies (technology companies that compete with traditional banking, finance and exchange services) in London, seven of them stated that were Britain to leave the EU, they would relocate their businesses to a European Union country.

At present, London is ahead of San Francisco, New York, Berlin and Hong Kong as the fintech capital of the world – and as leader of the fast-growing global sector.

Taavet Hinrikus, the co-founder of Transferwise, a Tech City stalwart, has said that even with EU membership, "the biggest constriction to [the company’s] growth is hiring people", and warned that if the UK voted to leave Europe, ‘it would make sense for us to relocate’ outside of the UK.

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, agrees:

"London has established a global reputation as the digital capital of Europe. There is significant concern within the digital community that Brexit would undermine this position and threaten relationships with the European market.

Attracting international companies to the capital has been one of the great success stories of London’s digital economy. Brexit could see global businesses locating in emerging digital hubs in Berlin, Paris and Stockholm rather than London.

Something like half a million new businesses were started last year. I think anybody who engages in business, because of the internet being a global tool, knows that they need to access markets on a global bases."

Should Britain leave the EU, digital SMEs across the country will be faced not only with the problem of finding talented employees despite the skills gap, but also with the very real possibility that a number of the companies that have added to the UK’s reputation as a digital capital will withdraw business and opportunities away from the UK by relocating to other EU digital hubs (Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm).


Learn more about why Britain is StrongerIN by clicking the links below.

Top Ten Facts about why we're StrongerIN

Top Ten Rebuttals to Claims from the Leave Campaign

SME's are StrongerIN

What does Leave look like?

If you'd like more information about the official cross-party Remain campaign, please visit where you can find posters and infographics to share on social media. 

There's also more resources providing information about why we're StrongerIN on issues such as big business, youth, family, NHS, security and influence.

Read more from the StrongerIN campaign on the benefits of the EU.

Female employment rights and the EU

EU and small businesses in London


EU and small businesses in London

Part One

EU Referendum: What affect will Brexit have on UK SMEs?

With the referendum date fast approaching, the media is awash with social, political and economical arguments for staying in – or leaving – the EU.

With SMEs accounting for nearly half of the UK’s economy, we're examing the positive case of EU currently benefits the nation’s greatest source of revenue.
As the recent FSB report shows, of all SME owners surveyed there’s only a slight tip of opinion towards staying in the EU - 47% of members indicating Remain compared to 40.9% saying they'd Leave and the rest - 11% - are undecided.

In this, the first of two posts, we also explore the economic and financial repercussions that Brexit would have on UK SMEs, delving into everything from the availability of funding to the ramifications on business.

The European Union: Good for small businesses?

In 2014, SMEs and technology companies benefited from €90million of investment from EU grants and – at present – there are a large number of funding options for SMEs available from the EU. These cover everything from start-ups to research and innovation. A ‘Leave’ vote on the 23 June would mean that this source of funding is no longer an option for any business within the UK.

It could be argued, however, that the £18.4bn boost to the UK economy (as a result of not paying for EU membership) could be redirected into governmental grants for SMEs to counteract the loss of EU grants. In the short term, it’s also unlikely that impact of leaving the EU won’t have any impact on the availability of loans – usually from local retail banks – to help start a business.

However, in the longer term, a Brexit will, undoubtedly, have an impact on the UK economy and – by extension – on UK SMEs.

Firstly, the UK’s national current account deficit of 5% of the GDP is looked upon more favourably by foreign investors as a result of its membership and union with the EU. As Brexit campaigners argue for a return of sovereignty and different rules for UK businesses and finances – rules not tied to EU regulations – it seems likely that it’ll be difficult for continental banks and foreign investors to provide finance to British SMEs. This will result in less competition amongst those funding businesses leading to less availability of funds and higher interest rates.

Secondly, the EU currently regulates, controls and standardises all businesses to ensure a level playing field. Without these, there would be nothing to stop businesses from employing underhand methods to undercut your profit and deliver significantly poorer levels of service. 

As David Kirk, from UK Bike Store, says:

‘It legally forces all the dodgy companies to play at your level. They can’t undercut you by not backing up their sales with the right level of support’

Stronger Together?

Although the FSB reports that small business owners are swaying towards supporting the UK’s continued EU membership, this is not without caveats; small business owners not only support reforms that bring about a transfer of powers back to the UK, but also the introduction of further reforms, specifically the Working Time Directive.

However, the digital sector is far more certain over how they want to proceed. Of  the 3,000 senior members of London’s technology sector that were recently polled on whether or not they thought that the UK should leave the EU, an overwhelming number – 87% - voted to stay in. Of the remainder, 10% were undecided and only 3% voted to leave.

On top of that, a large number of SME owners were polled as to how a Brexit would impact their businesses and profits and the results were similarly overwhelming – 81% agreed that leaving the EU would negatively affect their business and agreed that the EU remains an important resource the growth, recruitment and single market options.


Learn more about why Britain is StrongerIN by clicking the links below.

Top Ten Facts about why we're StrongerIN

Top Ten Rebuttals to Claims from the Leave Campaign

SME's are StrongerIN

What does Leave look like?

If you'd like more information about the official cross-party Remain campaign, please visit where you can find posters and infographics to share on social media. 

There's also more resources providing information about why we're StrongerIN on issues such as big business, youth, family, NHS, security and influence.

Read more from the StrongerIN campaign on the benefits of the EU.

Female employment rights and the EU

EU and small businesses in London



Sadiq Khan London Mayor and Small Businesses

London’s New Mayor has big plans for businesses

As somebody who used to help run a successful business, London’s new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, knows a thing or two about the importance of business to the city. And as he takes over the keys to a city that boasts to be the world-leader in finance, creative industries and business services as well as a growing force in technology and digital sectors, it’s promising that he’s pledged to be ‘the most pro-business Mayor that London has ever had’.

However, in addition to ensuring that business is always at the top of the agenda and that businesses will always have a say in the future of the city, what has Sadiq Khan promised to do for London businesses in real terms? And how will this impact your business?

To work together for a better London

Khan believes that by working together, London’s businesses can bring about solutions to the problems and challenges that currently hold them back – ensuring long-lasting growth and a distribution of opportunity for all across the city. Here’s how he plans to do this:

Creating a Business Advisory Board 

A board made up of experts from all political parties to provide him with guidance and insight to find the solutions to London’s growth challenges and to provide insight and feedback on all of his policies. No longer will decisions made that have a real impact on your business and livelihood be made without representation from your industry.

Involve business in decision making 
He has also pledged to discuss all key issues of policy and planning, from skills and housing costs, to transport infrastructure and business space, with representatives from businesses, big and small.

Establish Skills for Londoners

By working with business, Sadiq Khan has promised to ensure Londoners have the skills they need to grow – including introducing and promoting apprenticeship schemes across the city, to encourage young people to learn skills and plug the skills gap.

What does that mean for small businesses?

Sadiq Khan knows that small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs make up a large part of the capital’s (and the country’s) economy and often at the heart of local communities and he wants this to continue. Not only has he pledged to help support their growth, but also to encourage innovation and job creation by preventing loss of business space, introducing a London Plan which promotes the provision of small business and start-up premises in the City, and support communities which want to keep the character of their high streets intact.

What does it mean for London’s tech sector?

Sadiq Khan also knows that London can build on its status as a world-leading tech hub. He’s promised to ‘work to remove the barriers to growth in London tech, and take advantage of the innovative work happening in our city to improve governance’. Taken from his manifesto, here are the ways that he plans to do that:

Establish a tech talent pipeline through the Skills for Londoners taskforce, following the model developed by Bill de Blasio in New York, with more young people enabled and encouraged to gain key digital skills, and more apprenticeships in the sector. In particular I will ensure more girls are supported to develop tech skills, so that we can turn around the under-representation of women in tech jobs.

Improve our connectivity, making it a priority to tackle London’s ‘notspots’, ensuring better access to public-sector property for digital infrastructure, and treating digital infrastructure with the same status as other key public utilities.
Broker a deal between providers and local authorities to provide better access to public property and land for the installation of broadband infrastructure.

Appoint a Chief Digital Officer to oversee growth in the sector as well as taking responsibility for increasing digital inclusion across our city and leading on cyber-security.

Put an open data strategy at the heart of London government, with a new London data office working to bring data from across London’s boroughs and public agencies together, and opening it up to enable quicker decision making, better services, more efficient government, and greater transparency.

Support innovative tech solutions which enable Londoners to access and use public services and information more easily and efficiently.



Co-working community events

Five tipples for hosting a spiffing drinks reception!


1) Fail to prepare – prepare to FAIL!

This may sound like something a boring relative might say, whilst wagging a finger and looking condescendingly at you, but unfortunately it’s totally true! Always bring your own bottle opener and make sure you ask the venue to have two on site. Double check the venue’s glasses policy – they may charge you for breakages or they may only provide plastic cups when you really need highball tumblers. And always ask them to let you chill your drinks for three hours before you need to serve them. The Devil’s in the Details!


2) H20 running low is a no-go.

Go heavy on the soft drinks. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be one person who starts downing Merlot five minutes into the event, but most people aren’t there JUST for the free booze! Anticipate that everyone will have at least one glass of chilled still or sparkling water over the course of the event and you’ll be grateful you did when it comes to clearing up!

3) Oops – a – daisy, where are the marigolds?
Even the most civilised drinks receptions have the odd spillage. It’s all fun and games till someone smashes a champagne flute. Check with your venue in advance that they have an easily accessible events cleaning pack. This should include rubber gloves, blue roll, cleaning spray and a dustpan and brush. You’ll also want to know where the finished bottles are going to go – make sure they’re being recycled and not into the landfill!


4) Tech Rehearsal = Essential.
In every event, no matter how experienced or prepared you are, as luck would have it – something will go wrong. As the digital world advances faster than the speed of light (or The Brew’s event space Wi-Fi hub!) so does the way we host events. No matter what tech you’re using for your event – always pop down and ask for a quick ‘tech check’ to run over your digital running order. All friendly venues will find you 15mins, a couple of hours before your event to ensure everything goes as smoothly as our 200mb wired internet connection!


5) Finito – Everybody out!
Timing is everything and expectation management is crucial. Look after future you and clearly state a finishing time for your event. Bring up the lights half an hour before you need to vacate the venue and lobby some more familiar guests to help you get everyone to drink up. Do your research and find a bar near your event venue that will still be serving after your event finishes. Start the rumour of an after party delegation and send everyone there for one (or ten) more drinks. You can join them if you want, or grab a cab home, get your onesie on and catch up on Game of Thrones!

Article posted 21/03/2016 by Lola McEvoy, Venue Sales and Events Manager, The Brew Eagle House




Four Must-Do's to Pack Out

Your Next Free Event!

We all do it: RSVP to a free event and then flake last minute. Here’s four ways to ensure your audience are queuing down the street for your free event!


1) Network with the Networks.

Whatever the event, no matter how niche the subject or topic is, there WILL be a network of people interested in attending (honest!). The easiest way to get people to attend is to find the key players in your target network, media partners, big names on social, bloggers and thought leaders, develop a relationship with them and ask them to pass on the invite, or better still get them to bring 5 people along!  To make sure you max out the guest list you need to be all over every events platform. Create an event digitally, on whichever platform gets the most traffic for you, and use every other platform to drive traffic to it. Ask your most prolific social media gurus to boost the event in their networks, you can even pay for some targeted advertising if it’s appropriate. Either way – go big on digital – everyone else is!


2) Max out your guest list.
Do whatever it takes to pump up the list of RSVPs – make sure your audience building strategy is carefully targeted but aim for a guest list of ‘RSVP YES’ that is twice the size of the minimum amount you need to make your event a success. 

People WILL cancel, their babysitter WILL bail, an epidemic of food poisoning and flu WILL infect some of your guests a few hours before your event – so make sure you’ve got a good cushion of numbers. 

(Minimum amount of guests needed) x 2 – 35% on the day drop off = Perfect Audience!



‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’ they say – and they’re right! The hard truth of the matter is: In this day and age people’s time = money. You’re really busy, I’m really busy - we’re all REALLY BUSY. Respect the fact that your guests are taking time out of their incredibly packed schedule, and (probably) adding an extra journey to their day, by providing them with refreshments and something yummy! 

WHY? A) they’re more likely to say yes initially B) they’re more likely to come C) they’re more likely to enjoy themselves, come again, talk about you – in a GOOD way - and that’s worth spending some money on. 


4) Confirmation = Celebration.
Confirm, confirm, confirm and confirm again. Your guests are very important, time poor people. They get more traffic to their inbox per day than you have hot-dinners. Do them a favour and make sure they have all the information they need to stray from their beaten track and attend your free event. Send a confirmation 4 days before the event, then 2 days before the event, the evening before the day of the event and a few hours before the event - make sure there is no reason for anyone to forget that your event is taking place! Create and schedule these emails well in advance to ensure the week up to your event is plain sailing. Then kick back and relax as you host your best free event ever! 

Article posted 02/03/2016 by Lola McEvoy, Venue Sales and Events Manager, The Brew Eagle House



Five Essential Tips for Your Next Venue Showround


Viewing the venue is the only opportunity you have to visualise your event ‘live’ as well as get into the nitty gritty of the space’s spec, features and service. This two minute read gives you the handy hints on how to make the most of your visit to help you choose the best venue for your event. 


1) Is it clean as a whistle and does it smell fresh as a daisy?

This sounds simple, but it will make all the difference to your event! Always check: the surfaces have been wiped down; the loos are sparkling; and there aren’t any lingering or unpleasant smells. Even if this is already top of your list, paying extra attention will earn you brownie points with your client and/or boss. Plus, if the venue manager looks after their space, it’s more than likely they’ll look after you too!


2) Has the venue had any previous events like yours – if not – why not?

A crafty venue manager will try to sell honey to a bumblebee, but be careful you’re not walking into a bear trap! If the venue hasn’t hosted events like yours, there may be a reason why not (unless they’re all brand new and shiny like The Brew). Ask the venue manager lots of questions and be direct – if they have a good reason and are keen to help adapt their venue to suit your needs, or if your event is really unusual, then great – if they try and squirm, you know it’s not right for you!


3) Have they got all the relevant technical bits and bobs?

So many events managers forget to check exactly what the technical specification (tech spec) of the space is until 15 minutes before the guests arrive. Avoid that on-the-day panic (as much as possible) by asking the venue manager to talk you through – in detail – the space’s tech spec. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if they use over-complicated terminology, and ensure you talk them through exactly what you need and why you need it so you’re 100% sure they have it. Some venues will order in extra bits they don’t have in advance. Don’t forget to ask them to have it ready and set up before you arrive! 


4) Sniff out any hidden fees.

9 times out of 10 there will be a hidden fee that the venue haven’t told you about – ask them upfront if there are any additional costs involved – that way, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for. There might be a WIFI fee or a fee to hire the projector – some venues will even charge you to use the chairs. Be astute and don’t get caught out!


5) Do you like the venue manager?

If the venue manager can’t even be cheery and attentive to you before you’ve given them any cash – imagine how bad it will be on the day. Always make sure you feel comfortable and relaxed with your venue manager. If something goes wrong (or even if everything is going right), they’re going to be the one you call o. You need to be 100% confident that they’ll go above and beyond to make sure 


Article posted 28/01/2016 by Lola McEvoy, Venue Sales and Events Manager, The Brew Eagle House







Photo Credits: Flickr/ Creative Commons:

Marlano Mantel

Rock Cohen

Charles Clegg


work space