Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday on November, and has in the last decade become the biggest shopping event of the year. Major retailers are eager to kick of the holiday shopping season which means Black Friday is a day for spectacular offers, leading to masses of spend-thrifty shoppers hitting the stores. It is comparable to Boxing Day as is observed by Britain and much of the commonwealth.

Black Friday is becoming increasingly more important for business this side of the pond too –  news channels are already reporting extreme conditions in shops and supermarkets due to the masses hunting the best offers.

The term Black Friday has several possible origins; one stems from Philadelphia in the 1960s, the term used to describe the huge masses of pedestrians the day after Thanksgiving. An alternative explanation refers to Black Friday as the start of profit making – the first day shops go from the red to the black in the books (from loss to profit). Both explanations make sense; masses of shoppers looking for good deals naturally lead to good results for retailers.

In America retailers traditionally open their doors extra early on Black Friday – as early as 5 or 6 am is not uncommon and camping outside the shops to be the first ones in was popular to the degree that the practice got banned as a result of the safety risk this posed – with masses of people blocking roads, access to hydrants and emergency exits.

With many retailers offering some serious discounts – often around 70% – there is no wonder the day has become exceptionally popular with both retailers and consumers, perfectly timed to start the shopping for the upcoming season.

If you’re headed out there, we suggest you brace yourself with a triple fill of patience, sharp elbows and optimism. Think of it as the Hunger Games of shopping – you need to be clever and strong and persevere in times of difficulty (ie. when you are trapped in a flood of moving shoppers going the opposite way you want, when the toddler behind you decides to test his or her lung capacity or when the staff is demonstrating How Not to be Efficient – a treat often saved for the busiest of times!).

Happy shopping!

Starting your own business can be daunting, you’re bound to face a time where you want to ask questions, get some guidance or see what other people are doing. There are a number of good resources out there, here we have put together a selection of our favourites.

smallbusiness.co.uk
smallbusiness.co.uk (SB) is a knowledge hub, a forum, an arena for brainstorming and inspiration. Here you’ll find news, tips and tricks across a range of easily navigated categories. From business planning, to advice about funding, setting up a company and achieving work-life balance – SB covers all bases. There is also a section on success stories – great inspiration when you feel a bit stuck. There is a whole section on financing your business – an area we know can be scary, but this gives a good overview of everything you need to know.

smarta.com
Similar to SB, Smarta is an extensive resource with guides and how-tos for a wide range of topics. From essential knowledge like how to register your business, to the more specified like how you become a freelance photographer – Smarta has it covered. In addition to their website they also host regular panel evenings and network events – a great chance to get out there and meet other business owners in a relaxed setting. Worth checking out is also their video-section – with interviews from an impressive group of people. Smarta is all about encouraging you to take the leap, they also provide loans to start ups and helps their clients with mentoring and follow-up.

The Donuts;
marketingdonut.co.uk and startupdonut.co.uk are two other excellent resources for those owning or working for a small business. They offer s high amount of practical advice and guides on a varied set of topics – e.g. how to write a press release, case studies and interviews with people in the industry. The donut-websites also have offers on services you/your business might need, as well as being a portal for you to contact experts in your field.

entrepreneur.com
For inspirational reading and all the latest news – entrepreneur.com is a great source of knowledge for anyone running, or thinking of starting, their own business. Packed with great tips and tricks, this is a great place to expand your knowledge and to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry/entrepreneurial space. With great articles on everything from SEO to discussions about current news and updates, entrepreneur is a highly readable magazine-style site with good quality content.

forbes.com
Forbes’ section on entrepreneurship and small businesses is extensive. Case-studies and news in a fresh packaging – the tone is conversational and the topics diverse. Like Entrepreneur, this is a good place to go for staying in the loop of what is going on.

bira.co.uk
Bira is the British Independent Retailers Association and offers a range of advice and services to their members. Bira has approximately 7000 members and says of itself to be a ‘champion of independents’. Services on offer range from legal to web design; they also offer training and discounts for a range of products you might need as a small business – e.g. packaging, card processing and stationary. Membership is priced depending on your annual turnover, see their website for more information.

Anyone who has read George Orwell’s classic dystopia 1984 knows what Big Brother means. Anyone else has probably heard the term – if nothing else in relation to the experimental tv-show bearing the same name. ‘Big Brother is watching you’ has become something of a catchphrase of our society – and it is becoming increasingly comprehensive, with everything from your food shop to your favourite game app asking for your details. Read more

Anyone living near a high street or remotely interested in tech will have noticed the new wave of shop-apps. Apps that let you pay without cash or a bank card. They’ve been around for a while – best known is perhaps Starbucks’ own app. Now it seems other businesses are clocking on – thinking tech is the way to go to be able to compete for customers in an increasingly dense and overwhelming market. Read more

The last few decades have seen a rapid decrease in the number of pubs around our fair isles. A fresh report from Camra, Campiagn for Real ale, suggests that as many as 31 pubs close down every week. And the total number of pubs is at an all-time low – 54 490 across the UK. Still a high number, but considering a staggering 3% of all pubs in the suburbs have closed over the last 6 months, there might be reason to worry.

Historically, the pub was a place to go and socialise with the community. Pubs, short for Public Houses, served as a gathering point in a neighbourhood, a town or a village – a place to enjoy a drink in others’ company. Their function has changed slightly, but largely its position as a place to meet friends for a drink (or two – three – four!) has remained. In cities and urban areas the majority of pub-goers are workers – heading to their local after the day finishes to wind down. In more rural areas the traditional importance of it as a meeting point for the community is of higher importance – many places there are few other places to go, outside ones homes.

To have a place to meet, planned or at random, after work, an early afternoon or a late evening, is wonderful. You don’t have to commit to having people over, you can stay as long as you’d like, and there is an almost guaranteed great atmosphere. Whether it’s for sharing joys or worries, supporting your favourite team in whichever sport, or simply watching a game with everyone in the pub because you suffer from FOMO* – the pub is a great, social institution.

The decline is partly to blame on the economic climate of the past few years. Many people would rather buy alcohol cheaply from the supermarkets and consume it at home, than sharing a pint of craft beer in a pub. Independent pubs, or those ran by individuals, can’t compete on price. As their revenue goes down, and it gets harder and harder to justify staying open, there is little standing in the way of larger shops or supermarkets waltzing in and taking over.

We like pubs. We go there regularly, for one or two, with many or just a few friends. Sometimes for food, other times for drinks. Every so often for sports, with friends or family. Can you imagine your local community without the pubs? Even if you don’t go often yourself, there is no denying they bring life and buzz to the community.

On the facts-and-stats side of things, it becomes clear that pubs are worth keeping. According to Camra’s recent research, it is poor planning legislation which is the big bad wolf in the decline of pubs. They also claim that pubs account for more than a million jobs, and that each pub contributes an average of £80,000 to its local community each year. Can we really afford to lose anymore, only to see yet another cloned supermarket outlet in its place, losing not only the jobs and value from the pubs, but its social importance and historical value?

Support your local – and contribute to keeping your community alive. Cheers!

*FOMO – Fear of missing out. The feeling you get when your friends are doing something without you, even if it is an activity you don’t enjoy. ‘I hate rugby but I’m having FOMO because they are all there!’