Page 1

Spring 2011

Free Copy

Steps to Starting in Business Tax Management Employer Branding Social Media Growth Strategies 10 Steps to Successful Conferencing

Marion Woodburn Designer Jewellery, Ballymena Business Centre: Honoured as the first EconomusĂŠe company in the UK

ADVICE | INSIGHT | NEWS | FEATURES |

Spring 2011 | Into Business | 1 EVENTS | AWARDS


Business Support

Up-skilling

Apprenticeships

In addition to our extensive range of Further and Higher Education Courses, the Economic Engagement Team at Northern Regional College aims to encourage local economic development by supporting companies, whether large or small, in the social economy, private or public sector, to help them find solutions to their training and development needs. Our focus is to support you and your business through the provision of four integrated services.

Innovation

Start-up

For further information please contact: Clare O’Neill Head of Economic Engagement Northern Regional College – Ballymena Trostan Avenue Building, Ballymena BT43 7BN T: 028 2563 6264 E: clare.oneill@nrc.ac.uk

Up-skilling

Marie-Louise Wise Economic Engagement Manager Northern Regional College – Magherafelt 22 Moneymore Road, Magherafelt BT45 6AE T: 028 7939 5238 M: 075 5411 8668 E: marie-louise.wise@nrc.ac.uk

Innovation Start-up

Irvine Abraham Economic Engagement Manager Northern Regional College – Newtownabbey 400 Shore Road, Newtownabbey BT37 9RS T: 028 9085 5017 M: 075 5411 8416 E: irvine.abraham@nrc.ac.uk

Apprenticeships and Work Placements

Sean McAleese Training Manager Northern Regional College – Ballymena Trostan Avenue Building, Ballymena BT43 7BN T: 028 2563 6238 M: 075 5411 8467 E: sean.mcaleese@nrc.ac.uk General Enquiries Allastar McGarry Economic Engagement Officer Northern Regional College – Ballymena Trostan Avenue Building, Ballymena BT43 7BN T: 028 2563 6258 M: 077 8990 4679 E: allastar.mcgarry@nrc.ac.uk

Aspire | Aim | Achieve

2 | Into Business | Spring 2011

www.nrc.ac.uk


Welcome... Welcome to the first edition of IntoBusiness magazine. This glossy business magazine is the first of its kind for Ballymena and has been designed to provide helpful tips and advice to those in business, and to provide inspiration and encouragement for those embarking upon a new business venture. This Spring edition is packed full of practical guidance focusing on social media, IT and communication, tax management, creating an

employer brand, business growth strategies, steps to starting in business, top tips for organising a business event and much more! This is your Ballymena business magazine and we want you to get involved… Do you have a news announcement to make for your business? Do you want to contribute an editorial article on a topical business subject? Do you have a business event you would like us to promote? If the answer is yes, then I would like to hear from you.

Finally, a word of thanks to all those who have supported this first edition – particularly those who have contributed editorial content and those who have selected this publication to advertise in. IntoBusiness is produced by Ballymena Business Centre in partnership with Elbowroom Media, and we hope you enjoy the first issue. Melanie Christie Boyle, Chief Executive Ballymena Business Centre, Managing Editor

Stephen Scullion Manager:

Patricia Elliott Client Manager:

Lynn Stewart, Jenine McIlroy, Joy Knox Support Team:

stephen@ballymenabusiness.co.uk

patricia@ballymenabusiness.co.uk

info@ballymenabusiness.co.uk

Tel: 028 2565 8616 Website: www.ballymenabusiness.co.uk Editor: John Carleton Advertising: Rodney Beggs, William McNabb Design: Sean Rainey TO ADVERTISE CALL: 028 2500 2005

IntoBusiness magazine is published by Elbowroom Media on behalf of the Ballymena Business Centre. Elbowroom Media Unit 48, Ballymena Business Centre, 62 Fenaghy Road, Galgorm, BT42 1FL.

Material printed in this journal is not necessarily endorsed by the Ballymena Business Centre or by Elbowroom Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means in whole or in part without permission of the publisher is prohibited © 2011 Spring 2011 | Into Business | 3


2010 E lectrical A pprenticeship Intake.

E TT 17th E dition Regulations 3 Day C ourse.

What makes a Qualified Electrician?

T

his is a matter that has plagued the Electrical Contracting Industry and some of its clients for many years and now it has finally been settled. During the last week of February 2011, Mr Justice Weatherup made legal history in Northern Ireland by employing a hot tubing technique. This involved bringing four expert witnesses forward for simultaneous testimony and cross-examination. The Court had a very significant matter to consider and one that has immense ramification for the NI and UK construction industry. The key question; what is a “qualified electrician”? This matter has appeared before the NI

Court for the first time, which is quite surprising given the number of sparks who work in the industry on the basis of their experience and not necessarily their paper qualifications. During the two day hearing the four expert witnesses all agreed that the best means of becoming a qualified electrician was through an NVQ Level 3 based Electrical Apprenticeship. The Court also heard about an approved alternative scheme referred to as “Accreditation of Prior Learning,” this provides mature operatives currently working in the industry with an opportunity to become qualified outside of the established classroom based apprenticeship.

EVERYBODY needs a

So, how can you tell if the electrician you are paying is competent? Are you getting good value for money and is the work being done up-to-scratch? Some simple checks could save you a lot of time and money. Most electricians carrying out work in places where there are employees or members of the public should have an up-todate technical certificate known as the “17th Edition Certificate.” They could also hold Inspection & Testing qualifications from C&G or EAL. Finally, competency can be demonstrated to you by means of the JIB Skills Card. For more information on Electrical Apprenticeships, Qualifications and Training visit our blog at www.ett-ni.org

spark!

Electrical Apprenticeship Health And Safety Training Electrical Training Specialist Training

UPGRADE YOUR TRADE WITH ETT! Units 57-59, Ballymena Business Centre, 62 Fenaghy Road, Ballymena, Co. Antrim BT42 1FL T: 028 2565 0750 F: 028 2563 0725 E: info@ett-ni.org W: www.ett-ni.org

ACCREDITED TRAINING PRO VIDER

4 | Into Business | Spring 2011

ETT is registered as a Charitable Trust and oprates on a not for profit basis. It is governed by a Board of Directors drawn for the Union and local Employers who represent the apprentice training needs of the Inudstry and who provide their time on a voluntary and unpaid basis.


On the Cover

Contents

Spring 2011

Spring 2011

Steps to Starting in Business Tax Management

6

Stepping Into Business

9

Social Media

Bill McCartney gives an overview of social media

IntoBusiness chats to Marion Heron, from Marion Woodburn Designer Jewellery, about her business experiences and becoming the first Économusée business in the UK

12

IT and Communications

14

Tax Management

16

News, Awards & Events

20

Profile on Michelin Development

23

Small Business Growth Strategies

24

Business Case Study

26

Local Business Leaders

28

Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry

30

Employer Branding

32

Organising a Business Event

34

Business Role Model

36

An Enterprising Way Forward

Social Media Growth Strategies

Patricia Elliott looks at how to plan a business

10 Interview

Employer Branding

James Devlin explains how technology can drive business performance

Tax management has many issues, Maybeth Shaw gives us an overview

10 Steps to Successful Conferencing

Marion Woodburn Designer Jewellery: Honoured as the first Economusée company in the UK

ADVICE | INSIGHT | NEWS | FEATURES |

Spring |2011AWARDS | Into Business | 1 EVENTS

Marion Heron with Arlene Foster MLA, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment at the official Économusée launch at Marion Woodburn Designer Jewellery. See page 10.

Everything that’s happening in the Ballymena business world

Each quarter IntoBusiness will look at the various forms of support available, this issue we look at what Michelin Development has to offer

A number of growth strategies are available for any business, Stephen Scullion outlines your best options

We look at what happened to LawscriptNI when the financial crisis kicked in

We ask successful business people what it was that inspired them to start their own business?

This issue’s networking profile is on the Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Are you an ‘Employer of Choice’? Turn to p30 to find out

Check out our 10 steps to success. Melanie Christie Boyle shares her 10 steps to running a successful business event

Each issue we will look at a business role model and to kick things off we go straight to the top with Richard Branson

Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise Northern Ireland explains how Local Enterprise Agencies are well positioned to help Northern Ireland meet its social and economic goals

37 Lifestyle

Find out the latest from the world of motoring and travel

Spring 2011 | Into Business | 5


Starting A Business

Stepping Into Business

Patricia Elliott Client Manager Ballymena Business Centre

Starting in business is a journey which many people consider, but most of us never get round to taking the first step. Like any journey in life we need to plan our route, set objectives, make targets and set goals. Business Plan

Just like we use a map or depend on technology like Sat Nav to plan a route to a desired destination, we also need to research how to take a business idea forward, take it in the right direction, and make it a success. Directions for the important journey into business include market research, financial projections, business operational plans and resource management. And these can all be taken care of with your first big step into the world of business – the development of a business plan. A well thought out plan will enable you to assess the demand for your business, evaluate the resources you need in place, and help you to decide for yourself the viability of the business idea. Just as a good map is an invaluable resource when making a car journey, a good business plan is an invaluable tool when moulding a successful business. A good business plan should be reviewed and updated as your business progresses and grows to reflect any changes.

2

Finance

To achieve a viable business it is essential all financial considerations have been carefully researched and resourced, and are well 6 | Into Business | Spring 2011

understood by the business owner. Preparation of cashflow forecasts, projected profit/loss accounts, and balance sheets are a key step to understanding the financial viability of a business. You can analyse the financial risks involved in setting up any business by asking five key questions of your financial projections: 1. What is the working capital requirement of the business? 2. How long does it take to break even? 3. How much do I need to invest/borrow? 4. Will the business financially support itself and a personal income (drawings)? 5. Is the business profitable? Once you can confidently answer the above questions with the aid of your cashflow forecasts and profit and loss projections you will be ready to look at the next step — promotion.

3

Promotion

Great businesses start with hobbies, skills or interests, and generally the business owner is very good at what they do. Starting a business and being enterprising is essentially getting people to pay you for what you do. Therefore in to order to sell a product or service to your

customers they need to know what you do, how well you do it and how to access your business. Promotional tactics you can use include letting your customers know: • you have started your business (business launch, newpaper articles, leaflet drops, business cards); • how to communicate with you (business address, email address, phone numbers, website, social networking); and • how to make a purchase (visit your premises, order online, arrange an appointment). The art of effective promotion and advertising is targeting specific customers and attracting them to use your business through your unique selling points (USP). Make customers aware of the benefits of using your business over and above your competitors.

‘‘

Once you have interacted with a customer the buying experience should be a positive one, supported by excellent customer care to ensure repeat custom and referrals.

‘‘

1

Measuring promotional activity will help you gauge the overall effectiveness and cost effectiveness of all

promotional activity. Ask your customer ‘how did you find us?’ — and don’t just assume word of mouth will happen. Ask your customers to tell friends and family if they were happy with the service they received. A powerful closing phrase to use is “do you need anything else today?” Loyalty cards, coupons, gift cards, vouchers or discounts off next purchases can also be effective to attract repeat trade and new custom.

4 Review It is very easy to get so involved in the daily running of your business that you cannot see what does and doesn’t work. At the start of any venture you could be forgiven for not reviewing as you have been responsible for everything. But taking time to look at your business performance and evaluating both success and failure to determine what works well and what could be done better should highlight key issues. It might be the time to contract out some aspects of the business. It could be the point to take on a new employee, to give you more productive time to do what you do best. Remember a business plan is a live document within your business, so use it to help plan your growth and development. It is also important to review the insurable value of your businesses as it grows


A good business plan is an invaluable resource (don’t just renew your policy), to update your cashflow projections, and evaluate your financial performance.

5 Grow Should you grow your business within the realistic scale of your ability and

desire, or make a leap into the global market? That is a question only you can answer. You may have a successful business model which works for you, provides you with a comfortable standard of life and the flexibility you need for your work-life balance, or you may have a

business that lends itself to opening a chain of stores, or franchising out the business model. It may be the market base could expand nationally or internationally. Stepping into business is a challenge with many rewards and learning curves along the way. Taking on the challenges step-by-step

will certainly make success achievable. As you make your journey into business it is important to remember that no business will succeed without taking a few wrong turns, but reaching the final destination at the top is well worth the climb.

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Marketing

What is Social Media

?

Social media has been described as word of mouth on steroids, and mind-boggling numbers have been quoted to emphasise how big an effect it is having. It is easy to get caught up in the hype and expect miracles. Bill McCartney of Net4wiseowls gives us an overview and debunks some myths.

Social Media Platforms The main social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and blogs. All are different in the same way that radio, TV, newspapers and magazines are different. • Facebook is the dominant social media networking site and is the ideal place to start for 90 percent of businesses. • Twitter is a great site for listening to what your competitors are doing and seeking out potential customers. • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, is owned by Google and naturally ranks high in searches. • LinkedIn provides a living CV and is the ideal place to build a professional network and is much used by recruitment agencies. • Blogs give anyone a voice. Just remember one size does not fit all and it is important that you pick the correct social media platforms and don’t try to run with too many at once. In other words don’t try to boil the ocean.

Myths It’s Free: In fact, social media steals your most valuable asset, time. The

sites are free; the time to run them is not. It’s for Kids: Adults who will buy your products and services use Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s a Silver Bullet: If your products aren’t good then social media will not save your business. If your customer service, repeat business or word of mouth sucks then social media can make a significant impact. It Provides a Platform for Negative Comments: People will write about your products and services on social media whether you have a presence or not. It’s Broadcasting: Actually, it’s more about listening and engaging with your customers and selling through word of mouth. It’s Control: The more a business tries to control a conversation and be politically correct the less effective it will be. Think of it as a cocktail party. It’s Hiding: It’s being open, transparent and authentic. It’s Visible: Build it and they will come does not work. You have to promote your social media sites.

‘‘

‘‘

People having conversations online is the essence of social media. It is now the number one online activity and is a game changer, revolutionising the way businesses engage with their customers. Using social media, customers don’t search for products, products find them.

We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media; the question is how well we do it. Erik Qualman, Socialnomics Founder

Business Benefits Sales Growth: Is your website not getting the traffic you had hoped for? Social media will act as a large funnel and direct customers who are interested in your products and services

Bill McCartney, founder of Net4wiseowls

Net4wiseowls is an independent social media business based in Bangor. Bill is an ex-leader from the corporate world who advises and trains businesses on how to engage on social media and achieve dynamic sales growth. Bill is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. He has a range of clients, who seek his advice as a social media expert. Bill is an in-demand social media trainer, marketing strategist and speaker. Social media is his passion and is not part of his business but all of his business. to your website. The goal is to identify your customers and engage and build a relationship with them. People buy from businesses they know, like and trust. Word of Mouth: The ability to reach and influence a large group of fans or followers interested in your business on social media is priceless. It gives even the smallest business a chance to compete on a level playing field. It allows businesses to sell the way most people buy a product or service – through word of mouth. Targeted Advertisements: Advertisements on Facebook, for example, can be tightly focused on your customer’s demographics, sex, age, location and interests. Feedback: Get immediate feedback on your products and services and provide your customer with what they want. Engagement: Make your customers feel valued,

Find Net4wiseowls at: www.facebook.com/ net4wiseowls www.twitter.com/ net4wiseowls www.youtube.com/user/ net4wiseowls www.linkedin.com/in/ net4wiseowls appreciated and part of your success. Turn them into evangelists who will sing the praises of your business.

Future Trends Humanising: Social media means that large businesses will display more of the emotional and personal attributes of a human and treat their customers more as friends than consumers. Mobile: Smart phones will allow people to have a portable and highly personalised experience through apps, mobile payments, creating videos and instant access to geolocation sites, like Foursquare and Gowalla. Businesses will continue to increase their advertising spend in the mobile arena. Video: It’s not new but is now being used everywhere because of faster connections and its ability to send a strong message. Spring 2011 | Into Business | 9


Interview

Marion Heron with Arlene Foster MLA, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment at the official Économusée launch

Interview with Marion Woodburn Designer Jewellery... The first Economusée business in the UK Marion Heron has successfully developed her own range of unique jewellery, inspired by the landscape of Northeast Antrim that surrounds her. She started in business in 2005 from a garage on her family farm, developing her style and product range of necklaces, bracelets and earrings which she exhibited and sold to galleries in the UK. What was your main inspiration when starting your own business? Coming from a farming background where everyone is self-employed and no one works nine to five, the decision to work on my own seemed less daunting. What do you enjoy most/ least about being in business? I enjoy being in charge and being able to take things forward in a direction I want. I like the creativity of my business and dealing with people. On the downside I don’t enjoy doing paperwork... and book-keeping, no thanks! Who do you admire within the jewellery industry? I admire the achievements of Bill and Christina Steenson with whom I worked after graduating as a goldsmith. 10 | Into Business | Spring 2011

What is your dream car? I’m not really into cars. As long as it goes I’m happy. If you were stuck in a lift with Peter Jones, how would you describe to him what you do? I am a goldsmith and have a retail workshop where I manufacture contemporary handcrafted jewellery, and if you need something special for your partner give me a call. What is your most embarrassing moment? This is a tough one. As a first year in school I was carrying too many bags and fell out of the bus in front of the other school waiting to get on! Not a great experience. What is your biggest achievement in business? Firstly setting up my own business has to be the biggest, with the bonus of

continuing to be in business through a recession. Recently being chosen as the first Économusée business in the UK is an achievement I am really proud of. Who would your ultimate customer be? Possibly an Oscar winning actress who would get lots of media attention and plenty of exposure for my product. I suppose the ultimate would be Kate Middleton coming in for wedding jewellery, possibly for her bridesmaids. I’m sure I could give her a special offer. What are your recommended steps into business? 1. Do the ‘Go For It’ Programme. I completed it in 2005 with Ballymena Business Centre, it gave me a great overview of what is required when setting up in business. Creative people are

often less focused on set up facts and more involved with their ideas. 2. Keep your overheads low. When I first set up in business I made my jewellery in the garage at my family’s farm. This gave me an opportunity to find my feet and get a feel for the business. 3. Work really hard, and invest the time and money needed to make your business work. 4. Raise the profile of your business through attending networking events and developing affiliations with other organisations and business support groups. 5. Always adapt and change to the needs of your market and don’t be afraid to try new things.


Support Marion has been fortunate to have accessed a wide range of support in her business to date. Initial participation in the ‘Go For It’ Programme, funded by Invest NI, helped Marion to focus on what she needed to do to achieve her goals and develop her business plan, which is the life blood of any business. Ballymena Business Centre was on hand when Marion was searching for suitable premises for her new business workshop when she outgrew the facilities at her home farm. Setting up the workshop within a unit at Ballymena Business Centre was supported financially by a 50 percent grant from the Leader+ Programme in 2007, and Marion was also able to access support from the Ballymena Business Centre to go through the application process. Support was also received from Invest NI in the form of a Trade Fair Showcase in Dublin in 2008, which helped Marion Woodburn Designer Jewellery develop contacts in Dublin and become established as a retailer through Kilkenny Shop in Dublin, the main retailer for Irish craft. Further support was received through the Microtrade Programme, with access to a buyer event in Dundalk. Networking Marion places great importance on interaction and involvement with local networks and business organisations. She is a member of Women on the Move, a local women’s business network and has contributed at board level for a number of years. Marion feels: “It is good to be involved, meet people, and hear interesting speakers. It gives you the opportunity to share ideas and to hear about other people’s businesses. This gives you the chance to raise your own profile while gaining business

from these connections from time to time.” Économusée In February 2011 Marion’s business was honoured as the first Économusée company in the UK. An Économusée is a Quebec inspired tourism initiative that encourages visitors to meet an artisan at work in their workshop, discovering the beautiful products that are handcrafted on the premises, while learning more about the history of the craft and the cultural heritage behind the skill. The term Économusée translates to a ‘working museum’ in English. Marion first got on board with the project in 2008. The following years were difficult with changes in funding bodies affecting Northern Ireland and Ireland. But once the feasibility study was completed and Marion was chosen by a panel in Quebec a new funding partner for the programme was found in Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB). A trip to Canada helped Marion to focus on the benefits the project would bring to her business. “It gave me a proper sense of the project and how the Économusée brand is recognised in Canada as a provider of quality handcrafted products.” The conversion of the workshop into an Économusée facility was undertaken with self-funding and support from the Northern Periphery Programme and NITB with added support from architects from Canada and Marion’s own ideas. The Économusée launch in March was attended by many dignitaries and representatives from the Économusée European network and was officially launched by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster MLA.

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Spring 2011 | Into Business | 11


Technology

Transforming Businesses Through Technology James Devlin, Head of Business, BT explains how technology can drive business performance and enable organisations to cope in these challenging economic times. Research shows that companies that harness the power of technology cope better in challenging economic times, and with world-class communication networks running throughout Northern Ireland and beyond, local enterprises should waste no time in becoming ‘technology champions’ to sharpen their competitive edge, innovate how they do business and get to market first. One key enabler of this is fibre-based (faster) broadband which will help transform Northern Ireland’s

local economy – opening up exciting new opportunities for consumers, businesses and public sector organisations, as well as helping to attract high value, high growth companies to Northern Ireland. Faster broadband speeds can also bring immediate cost cutting benefits to businesses. Firms can forget using couriers each day to hand deliver large files and databases. They can introduce flexible working, simultaneously reducing office overheads, decreasing carbon footprint and improving their employees’ work-life balance.

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Faster broadband also ensures organisations can take advantage of highdefinition video-conferencing and high-quality audioconferencing by cutting the costs of business travel and making it infinitely easier to collaborate on projects with colleagues, partners or clients all over the world. BT’s commitment to driving innovation and business growth locally has been further demonstrated with the recent announcement by our wholesale division of a major broadband investment that will cement Northern Ireland’s position

at the forefront of the fibre broadband revolution in Europe by March 2012. The investment is part of BT Group’s £2.5 billion fibre rollout in the UK. This latest investment in fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology builds on previous fibre investments by BT, both direct and in partnership with the public sector, and will result in the number of lines connected to a fibre broadband cabinet jumping from 54 percent to 88 percent. Upon completion, Northern Ireland will be one of the best connected

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locations in the world, with more fibre deployed by March 2012 than most major European countries aspire to roll-out by 2015. High speed broadband also enables the adoption of Cloud services, which is essentially the use of applications and data through a web browser rather than something running locally on a PC. Cloud services usually offer a low initial investment, allowing firms to roll out more services as they need them. Because they are on-demand, it means organisations can scale them up and down to meet the needs of the business, or even turn them off. If they need more features, they pay more for them – so companies don’t have to pay large amounts for features they don’t need.

Also because Cloud services are hosted by the company supplying them, there’s less need for businesses to have dedicated IT support staff, which reduces head count – something that could be important in the current economic climate. Cloud services give companies more flexibility and because they can access securely through any web browser, employees will have access to vital business systems anywhere. Cloud offers significant total cost of ownership savings over traditional approaches while mitigating the risks associated with investing in new technologies. Northern Ireland companies have few reasons to be laggards – all around them the communications network is advancing and providing them with a connection to new markets and opportunities.

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Finance

Tax Management Like many businesses, the tax man is also feeling the squeeze, and in the current difficult economic climate, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is more willing than ever to assess unpaid tax and enforce interest and possibly penalties. Therefore, it has become increasingly important for a business to manage its tax affairs properly.

I have set out below some of the main issues to consider in terms of tax management to give general guidance. It should be noted, however, that as there are numerous taxes to consider and the tax system is complex, it has not been possible to cover all of the relevant areas.

1

Business Taxes

A business can be carried on by an individual as a sole trader or by two or more individuals acting in partnership. The profits arising must be included on an individual’s self assessment tax return and are subject to income tax and class 4 national insurance. A partnership also has to submit its own tax return. Sole traders or partners are also required to pay class 2 national insurance, currently at a rate of £2.40 per week. A business can also be carried on by a company and a company needs to submit its own tax return and pay corporation tax on its taxable profits. Company tax returns are normally due for filing

within 12 months of the end of an accounting period and corporation tax is normally payable 9 months after the end of an accounting period. A new or existing company is required to notify HMRC when it has become active within three months. All corporation tax returns for periods ending after 31 March 2010 need to be filed online after 31 March 2011. The payment of corporation tax will also need to be done electronically from 1 April 2011. In addition, directors who are also shareholders of a company are taxed on dividends and/or salary paid to them by a company and it may be possible to reduce the tax liability depending on whether dividend and/or salary is paid. The decision as to whether a business should be operated as a sole trade or partnership, or through a limited company, should be based on various factors, including tax efficiency, administration costs, disclosure requirements, flexibility and the risks inherent in the business.

Maybeth Shaw, Partner, BDO Northern Ireland Legal and professional advice should always be sought before a decision is made.

2

VAT

New businesses and some existing businesses need to

be aware of when they are required to register for VAT. Registration is necessary when the taxable turnover either exceeds £70,000 over the last year or is expected to exceed £70,000 over the next 30 days. If a business fails to register,

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HMRC will calculate the VAT that should have been paid to them from the date that the business should have been registered and may also levy penalties. When registering for VAT, the impact will need to be managed, especially where customers cannot reclaim the VAT themselves. If registered, normally a business will need to submit quarterly VAT returns and pay any VAT for a quarter by the end of the following month. Monthly returns can be submitted for businesses that normally claim VAT repayments. There are options available to small businesses to reduce the administrative burden and also a number of schemes available to simplify the preparation of VAT returns for retail businesses. The vast majority of businesses now have to file their VAT returns online and pay VAT electronically.

are expected to be less than £1,500 per month – can pay quarterly. Where employees have benefits in kind, it may be necessary to complete a form P11D in respect of each employee and submit it to HMRC by 5 July following the end of the tax year. Virtually all year end PAYE returns need to be filed online. Employers with less than 50 employees will also need to file their ‘in year’ returns online from 6 April 2011, as is currently the case with larger employers. However, only larger businesses (greater than 250 employees) are currently required to pay their PAYE electronically. A separate system also operates where, in certain circumstances, income tax needs to be deducted from payments under the Construction Industry Scheme.

4

3 PAYE All businesses with employees need to register as an employer with HMRC. PAYE (i.e. income tax) and class 1 national insurance will be deducted from wages where necessary and, together with national insurance that is payable by the employer, paid to HMRC. The payments are due on 22nd of the month in question (or 19th if paid by post). Smaller employers – where payments to HMRC

Time to Pay Arrangements

There may be times when a business cannot afford to pay a tax liability and this has become much more common in recent years. Ignoring the situation will only cause a major headache in the future. HMRC currently offer businesses and individuals assistance in such circumstances. It is possible to agree a payment plan with HMRC to pay a tax liability over a period of time by instalments. Although,

KEITH A DINSMORE & CO Chartered Accountants

Tel: 028 2564 4331

it is normally necessary to show HMRC that there is financial hardship. Tax returns should also still be filed on time. It should be noted that HMRC will charge interest, as some or all of the payments will be made after the liabilities were due. Future tax liabilities will also need to be paid so it is recommended that cashflow forecasting is undertaken.

5 HMRC Checks HMRC also have powers to carry out checks to determine whether a business is paying the correct amount of tax. It is likely that HMRC will seek to visit your premises to check your records in relation to PAYE and VAT at some point and it is always sensible to cooperate with any such visits. This is an area where it can be particularly useful to enlist the help of a tax advisor, especially where you may have concerns prior to the visit or HMRC ask follow up questions.

6

New Penalty Regime

To compound matters, a new penalty regime was recently introduced. The new regime applies to corporation tax, income tax, VAT, PAYE, national insurance and payments due under the Construction Industry Scheme.

• Accounts Preparation • Business Start-up • Personal Tax (including sole traders & partnerships) • Corporation Tax

Mobile: 07733 328906 Email: keith@dinsmoreandco.co.uk Address: 15 Duke Street, Ballymena, BT43 6BL

The regime allows HMRC to levy penalties for nonpayment of tax in certain circumstances. Where a taxpayer has failed to take reasonable care a penalty of up to 30 percent of the tax in question can be levied. In addition, a penalty of up to 70 percent of the tax can arise where there has been a deliberate understatement (rising to 100 percent where there is also concealment). There are also other tax specific penalties that apply in certain circumstances.

Summary Tax management can be a challenge but all is not doom or gloom. The majority of small businesses are able to successfully manage their tax affairs with the assistance of their accountant and tax advisor. Professional advice should be sought before starting a business and should continue to be taken during the life cycle of the business to ensure tax efficiency is achieved with as little effort as possible, allowing those in charge to concentrate on their own business affairs without worrying about

• Capital Gains Tax/ Inheritance Tax • Company Secretarial • VAT & Book Keeping Services • Payroll Bureau & PAYE Compliance • Construction Industry Scheme Web: www.dinsmoreandco.co.uk Spring 2011 | Into Business | 15


News, Awards & Events Young Entrepreneurs 2011 The clocks are ticking for entry into Northern Ireland’s longest running business awards and the chance to be crowned ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’. Managed by Advantage (who manage a portfolio of exciting programmes designed to promote entrepreneurship and employability in Northern Ireland’s young people) and supported by Invest Northern Ireland, applications are now being accepted for this prestigious competition with a substantial prize pool, extensive media coverage and the coveted title of ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’.

The Young Entrepreneur of the Year recognises and rewards the achievements of young people in business, and shows young business in Northern Ireland is vibrant and positive even in the current economic climate. Ian Murphy, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Clients and Entrepreneurship, said: “Young people in Northern Ireland have a huge amount of business ideas and entrepreneurial talent. Competitions like this provide a platform for them to demonstrate this and the commercial skills required to take them forward. It is important that through initiatives like The Young Entrepreneur Awards

that Invest NI supports young people to engage in entrepreneurial activity, as we need them to grow our future economy.” Applicants should be between 16-30 years of age and running their own business for less than three years. Entry deadline

is 16 May 2011. If you would like to nominate someone who you believe fits the bill of Young Entrepreneur of the Year please contact Advantage at awards@advantage-ni. com. Alternatively, you can enter online today at www. advantage-ni.com/awards.

Frankie McCourt, Invest NI, Judith Mulgrew, owner of Skin Medi-Spa and last year’s Awards finalist Craig Young, launch ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’

Have You Got The Spark To Run Your Own Business? Here’s the problem – you’re young, you’re thinking of starting or growing a business and you’ve a list of unanswered questions as long as your arm; from barcodes to budgets, from tax to Twitter. You want to do it right and you want to be taken seriously. Time is tight, money’s tighter and you just

wish there was one place you could get all the help you need... There is. Advantage’s IGNITE programme provides you with comprehensive support through a series of unique, specifically tailored services. So, whether you’re just exploring the idea or you’re already up and running,

IGNITE’S got it covered. They have some of the best resources in the world and Support Packs for Pre Start, Start and Growth ready and waiting for you at www.igniteni.com And thanks to their funders, it costs absolutely nothing. If you need anything else at all you can always Ask The

Expert on their website. Advantage on Twitter- www. twitter.com/advantageni Advantage on Facebookwww.facebook.com/ advantageni More information is available at www.advantage-ni.com anytime.

Dunclug Students Get a Head Start Students at Dunclug College recently commenced the Young Enterprise Northern Ireland ‘QuickStart’ programme. Supported by the Department of Education Northern Ireland, the programme is designed to give students practical business experience by establishing and running their own company within ten weeks. The QuickStart Programme is offered to 13-16 year olds and covers topics including human 16 | Into Business | Spring 2011

resources, corporate image, marketing mix (promotion), customer service, product development, production and sales, trade fairs, drafting a company report and delivering presentations. Laura Kerr, Senior Development Manager at Young Enterprise, said: “The QuickStart Programme is designed to give students the skills and experience that will help our young entrepreneurs to develop themselves in

preparation for the world of work. “It’s a very exciting venture, and all at Young Enterprise wish the team at Dunclug College every success with their business.”

To find out more about corporate support or volunteering opportunities, please contact Young Enterprise Northern Ireland on 028 9032 7003.


News, Awards & Events

Enterprising Students Earn KEY to Success Thirty-six students from three schools became entrepreneurs for the day, after successfully participating in a trade fair held at the Tower Centre in Ballymena. The trade fair was organised by Young Enterprise Northern Ireland as part of the highly successful KEY (Knowledge through Enterprise for Youth) Programme. As part of the Programme the young entrepreneurs from Ashfield

Women on the Move ‘Getting to Grips with Social Media’ This event took place at Leighinmohr House Hotel, Ballymena on Thursday 24 February 2011 and was open to females thinking about starting or running their own business. “Running a business can be very difficult and lonely, especially if you do not have any employees. It’s nice for women to meet others in similar circumstances which is the main reason why this network has been so successful,” said Women on the Move Co-ordinator, Vilma Patterson.

Boys’ School, Belfast, Little Flower Girls’ School, Belfast, and Crana College, Buncrana, set up six mini companies to trade their products to the general public. Among the goods on sale were handmade gifts and crafts. “It’s never too early to teach enterprise skills,” said Julie Stewart, Senior Training Officer on the KEY Programme. “KEY is designed to ignite the entrepreneurial spark “We had an excellent attendance at this event of members and non members who found it to be motivating and inspiring and full of tips to take back and use in their business. The event also enabled these business women to market their business by being involved in the display of products and services provided by members.” For further information on Women on the Move, contact Vilma Patterson, Women on the Move Coordinator at Ballymena Business Centre – e-mail: info@womenonthemove.org.uk or telephone: 028 9081 5581 / 07710 563930

Women on the Move Chairperson, Joanne Magee entertains the audience with an ice-breaker before the “Getting to Grips with Social Media” event held in Leighinmohr Hotel on Thursday 24 February

at a very early age, and our trade fair gives students a fantastic opportunity to apply their new skills in a real-life context. No matter what field

or career students choose in the future, knowing how business works will give them a head start on their peer group.”

Women on the Move event schedule Business Healthcheck with the Money Saving Experts Date/Time: Thursday 26 May 2011, 7pm–8.30pm Speaker: Alexandra Docherty, Senior Tax Manager, PWC Venue: Leighinmohr House Hotel, Ballymena Cost: Free to Members / £5 Non-Members Let the experts advise you how to carry out a ‘Business Healthcheck’ – how to maximise tax relief, particularly tax losses in start-up years of business, tax deductions from profits and how to carry out a general review to keep your business financially healthy – to be more cost efficient and ultimately save money.

AGM Date/Time: Thursday 30 June 2011, 7pm–8.30pm Venue: Leighinmohr House Hotel, Ballymena Cost: Free to Members / £5 Non-Members

Is Your Stationery Breaking The Law? Ballyprint.com have written in to highlight new laws that came into force last year. The new laws require companies and limited liability partnerships to make sure that their legal name is stated in legible lettering on all letters, order forms, invoices, receipts, websites and emails. Check now. Are you complying with the law? It doesn’t stop there. You’re also breaking the law if your letterheads don’t have the following printed on them: • Your place of registration (i.e. England, Wales, Scotland, N.Ireland); • Your company registration number; and • Your registered office address.

Spring 2011 | Into Business | 17


News, Awards & Events

Wrightbus Receive Major Order

Ballymena bus builders Wrightbus recently announced a major new order from Arriva PLC for a total of 334 new buses. The order, which is valued at approximately £55m, consists of 204 Double Deck and 130 Single Deck buses and will include the first Wrightbus StreetLite® midibuses to be delivered to an international public transport operator. On behalf of Wrightbus, Group Managing Director, Mark Nodder said: “We are honoured and delighted to have secured this substantial order which reinforces our ability to build a vehicle which meets the aspirations and

technical specification of one of the largest transport services organisations in Europe.” “We are hopeful that this important business marks the start of a welcome boost to our forward order book and brings renewed optimism here at Ballymena following challenging market conditions since the global economic downturn. I would also like to thank Invest Northern Ireland for their continuing support.” The 334 new vehicles, to be powered by engines that meet the exacting Euro 5 exhaust emissions standard, are due to be delivered between June 2011 and December 2011.

Business in the Community: Focus On Finance Seminar

Department Ready to Help Employers The Department for Education and Learning (DEL) report that there are currently almost 1800 registered in the greater Ballymena as unemployed, many of whom have a long history of employment with existing qualifications and skills, as well as newly qualified graduates who find themselves facing increased competition for every job advertised. As an employer you can get involved by: • offering a Work Experience Placement. Generally speaking placements can range from 13 to 52 weeks; or • offering a job to someone who is out of work and getting an Employer Subsidy for six months. If you are an employer in the Voluntary and Community sector or a Social Economy business and are interested in employing someone on a fixed term subsidised basis, you may be interested in the Step Ahead strand of Steps to Work. If you are an employer interested in offering a graduate a six month work placement you may want to find out more about the

Graduate Acceleration Programme. The Department offers practical help to employers seeking to enhance workforce skills. From pre-employment training courses right through to customised training for your existing workforce. We recognise the importance of effective business leadership. The Made not Born campaign provides a range of Management and Leadership programmes to assist SMEs to be the best leaders they can and to provide vision for businesses. In addition, the Management Analysis and Planning Programme (MAP) and the suite of Management and Leadership Development Programmes (MLDP) are currently funded under a co-investment initiative with the Department, encouraging local SMEs to develop leadership and management skills and reap the proven rewards of increased productivity, business growth and greater staff participation. For more info contact Roberta Donaghy, Employer Contact Manager, DEL 028 2563 7104

‘Go For It’ Business Clinic Workshop on Sources of Business Support

The funding and finance seminar was delivered to forty five local small businesses, Wednesday 9 March at the Tullyglass House Hotel, Ballymena by:

Pictured at the Sources of Business Support Workshop delivered free of charge to local entrepreneurs starting out in business were:

L-R: Cecil Caldwell (Michelin Development), Sean O’Loughlin (ESB Independent Energy Electric Ireland), Heather Major (Business in the Community), Andrew Reynolds (Enterprise NI Loan Fund), Claire Anderson (DARD Rural Enterprise, and Bill Ellison (BSx2)

L-R: Gren Armstrong (Invest NI), Richard Todd, Stephen Scullion (Ballymena Busness Centre Manager), Joe Dalrymple, Simon McKee, Terry McQuitty, Elaine Hoey and Melanie Christie Boyle (Ballymena Business Centre Chief Executive)

18 | Into Business | Spring 2011


Ulster Bank Business Breakfast

Keynote Speaker Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank Economist, gave his views on the Northern Ireland economy at this well attended event in association with the Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ballymena Borough Council in the Braid Auditorium, 11 March L-R: Sean Trainor, Ballymena Borough Council; Thomas McKillen, Ballymena Chamber of Commerce; Cllr. Maurice Mills, Mayor of Ballymena; Terry Robb, Head of Ulster Bank’s Ballymena Business Centre; Richard Ramsey, Chief Economist Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland

Northern Regional College Aspires to Olympic Standards With the WorldSkills Competition – the skills equivalent of the Olympics – fast approaching, UK Skills Champion at NRC Clare O’Neill took time out to talk about the College’s participation in the largest vocational skills competition in the world. “My role involves promoting College participation in skills competitions which adds value to the total student experience at NRC. The College has enjoyed great success in competitions over the years in a variety of vocational areas and this year, three NRC students have been selected for the Team UK Squad for World Skills, which are taking place in London in October. The high standards in vocational skills at NRC are also reflected in the fact that David Russell, lecturer at NRC, has been nominated a Team Manager

for Mechatronics. Recently the College through the Faculty of Engineering has hosted three competitions, Mechatronics, CNC and Autocad at its Farm Lodge campus and we are hosting a Northern Ireland regional heat on CAD in May.”

well as managing NRC’s apprenticeships and training contracts. “At NRC we are committed to supporting local economic development by the provision of upskilling, apprenticeships, innovation and start-up support. We are always

keen to develop more relationships with employers and would encourage any business to contact us to discuss how we can work together.”

Clare continues: “Over the coming months the students at the College are looking forward to taking part in competitions in hospitality and catering, floristry, motor vehicle and Skillbuild. In preparation for this the College has recently hosted a two hour staff development workshop delivered by LLUK on Skills competitions, WorldSkills and Coaching and Mentoring.“ Clare’s role includes responsibility for shaping the support NRC provides to the regional economy in Northern Ireland as

Clare O’Neill, Head of Economic Engagement at the Northern Regional College looks forward to the WorldSkills Competition Spring 2011 | Into Business | 19


Business Support

Profile on:

Michelin Development at Ballymena Michelin Development Limited is a not-for-profit company that has been set up as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility policy of Michelin Tyre plc. As the world’s largest tyre manufacturer, Michelin employs over 120,000 people and has sales in over 170 countries, while their manufacturing facility at Ballymena employs 1,000 people and produces heavy weight tyres that are exported all around the world. Given these resources it’s not surprising that Michelin’s not-for-profit business support company, Michelin Development Limited, is a huge success and a valuable resource for local businesses. Mission Michelin Development aims to work with regional development agencies, local government and business support agencies to: • generate or safeguard sustainable quality employment within existing and new businesses; • stimulate employment creation through attracting inward investment; • assist in the shaping and development of projects in conjunction with local business support agencies; and • encourage skills and entrepreneurship that are able to support the long-term future of the local region. Michelin Development Offers: • access to finance of unsecured loans from £5K to £50K through their associated bank at Bank of England base rate with a repayment period of two to five years; and • access to advice and expertise, free of charge from Michelin’s considerable inhouse expertise. 20 | Into Business | Spring 2011

Background Michelin Development Ltd at Ballymena was launched during 2004 and is managed by Cecil Caldwell, Business Development Manager. The scheme works closely with other support agencies and is guided by a Steering Team that consists of representatives from the following agencies and support groups: • Ballymena Business Centre • Ballymena Borough Council Economic Development • Invest NI • Ulster Bank Since the launch of Michelin Development at Ballymena, over 80 businesses have been in contact and have benefited in various ways. Forty loans have been agreed totalling over £900K, which has assisted in the creation or maintaining of over 270 jobs. And over 250 days worth of advice/support has been given by Michelin’s in-house expertise. The businesses concerned have included, engineering, manufacturing, fabrication and repairs, electrical and electronic management systems, roofing systems, activity centres, social development, product distribution, complete photography facilities, office and service support, bakeries, furniture manufacturing, ground investigation services, vegetable growing and marketing, x-ray support and training, product recycling, cow care product manufacturing, potato processing, surgical

Sixth Anniversary of the Michelin Development Scheme in Ballymena From left to right at the back: Aidan Donnelly, Ballymena Borough Council; Conor McNeill, Ulster Bank; Stephen Scullion, Ballymena Business Centre From left to right at the front: Mike Cole, Michelin Development; Jackie Dowd, Ulster Bank; Wilton Crawford, Factory Manager, Michelin Ballymena; Cecil Caldwell, Business Development Manager

installations, textile manufacturing and a media company. Loan Eligibility • Loans may be available to SME’s (small and medium sized companies up to 250 employees) including sole traders, partnerships and limited liability companies. Both established businesses and new start-ups may apply. • This offer is open to manufacturing and businessto-business service sectors. • All applicants must have the intention of creating or safeguarding jobs as an objective. Amount and Terms • Loans are available from £5K to £50K depending on the number of potential or safeguarded jobs. • Repayment periods can vary between 2 and 5 years. • No penalties will be incurred for early repayment of the loan. • The loan will be made by the Ulster Bank with Michelin

Development Ltd acting as guarantors. Advice and Support • Applicants are free to choose either financial assistance, expertise support or both. • Advice and support is free of charge from Michelin’s considerable in-house expertise. Examples of advice available cover: o Marketing o Sales o Quality Management o Information Technology o Personnel/Recruitment o Environmental Management o Health & Safety Management o Logistics o Industrial Engineering/ Business Improvement o Purchasing o Training Further information on Michelin Development can be obtained on www.michelindevelopment.co.uk or by contacting Cecil Caldwell on 07966951239.


People on the Move Clare Woods Clare is now working as a HR Administrator at JTI’s factory in Lisnafillan through Diamond Recruitment

Dominic Dillon Dominic has taken up the position of Customer Service Advisor at NIE, through Diamond Recruitment

Esme Millen Esme secured a permanent position as a Sales Assistant with Algram through Diamond Recruitment

Business Websites Enterprising websites for new and existing businesses wanting to source support, networking opportunities, property, advice and information. Business Support, Conference Facilities and Business Property www.ballymenabusiness.co.uk Business Programmes and Business Loan Fund www.enterpriseni.com Business Women’s Network www.womenonthemove.org.uk Business Loan Fund and Mentoring www.michelindevelopment.co.uk

ICT Advice www.logon-ni.co.uk

Business Networking and Support www.ballymenachamber.co.uk

Business Support www.investni.com

Local Economic Development www.ballymena.gov.uk

Online Business Support and Guidance www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk

Business Networking and Mentoring www.bitc.org.uk

Rural Business Grants www.northeastrdp.com

Business Networking and Support www.fsb.org.uk

Spring 2011 | Into Business | 21


North-East Region Spends Its First £1m The North-East Region Rural Development Programme is now getting into its stride. To date there has been over 400 applications with nearly 150 offers of grant worth nearly £3million. To date as the headline states we have now given out £1 million in grant aid. We would also hope to give out well over £2 million in the coming year. The main grant support is for private business with assistance available in particular to a range on on-farm, off farm and tourism projects. Alderman James Alexander, from Ballymena Borough Council, Chair of the Joint Council Committee stated: “I would be keen that applicants would get in touch with programme staff in Ballymena for more information and support.” The programme can help a range of businesses, communities and organisations that operate in the rural areas of Coleraine, Moyle, Larne, Ballymoney and Ballymena Council areas (excludes main towns, such as Ballymena). Grants are available for a range of activities to support: • Farm diversification • Small local businesses (9 or less employees) • Tourism activities • Community services • Village renewal • Conservation and heritage Grants in the private sector are up to £50,000 at 50%. Types of projects which we have funded to date include: Small engineering company £31,000 Specialist joinery £19,000 Activity Centre £19,000 Recycling business £50,000 Craft Business £14,000 Private Allotments £11,000 Day care nursery £30,000

Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 CALL FOR APPLICATIONS FROM THE EAST REGION Applications are invited from the rural areas of Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne and Moyle Councils for: Measure 3.1 – Farm Diversification Measure 3.2 – Business Creation & Development Measure 3.3 – Tourism Infrastructure Measure 3.4 – Access to Basic Services Measure 3.6 – Conservation & Heritage Applications should be completed online at the www.eugrants.org website. If internet access is unavailable paper copies can be obtained by contacting programme staff or by downloading the form from the www.northeastrdp.com website. Applications must be received in the office prior to 4.00pm on Tuesday 3rd May 2011. Guidance notes are available for downloading on the www.northeastrdp.com website and programme staff are also available for further assistance. We would encourage all potential applicants to contact programme staff to check project eligibility prior to completing an application form. North East Region, Ecos Centre, Ballymena, BT43 7QA. Tel: (028) 2563 8263. Fax: (028) 2563 8984. Email: northeast.rdp@ballymena.gov.uk Website: www.northeastrdp.com

22 | Into Business | Spring 2011


Growing Your Business

Small Business Growth Strategies

Stephen Scullion Manager Ballymena Business Centre

When considering to grow your business, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is why? What are the reasons behind your decision to grow your business... maybe it’s for survival. A number of growth strategies are available for any business wanting to take the opportunity to grow. Diversification of your products/services can give you the opportunity to sell more to both existing and new customers or enter entirely new markets, either locally or for export. If your brand is well known or if your business is unique you might decide to grow your business through franchising. Alternatively, if another company has complementary products or services you might consider a partnership or joint venture (for example outsourcing), whereby you both share the cost, profit and risk. Small businesses may obtain small year on year incremental growth, as they gain a deeper understanding of their customers and their market niche, and begin to make improvements within their operations. Although, a tipping point is usually reached where further growth expansion requires a much more radical, larger step forward than the business or maybe the business owner have ever considered previously. Unless for survival, a prerequisite for growth is to ensure the existing business is stable and financially robust. Otherwise you run the risk of overstretching the business too quickly too soon and increasing the associated financial risks and potential for failure. You can minimise these risks by carefully planning for growth and looking across each area of

the business to establish what needs to be in place.

A useful guide for growth is to remember the 4Ps: Planning, Performance, People and Processes Planning • As the business owner/ manager do you require additional business skills? If you do, get them, otherwise hire professional expertise. Have you thought of using a business mentor to help you plan and implement growth? • Decide what you want to achieve? Is it to increase sales turnover, market share, staff numbers or the profitability of the business? Whatever the objective, identify which is the most important to focus on. • Obtain the relevant and necessary information, such as market research, which will form the basis for you to commit your business resources, time and money to. Is it accurate and up to date? Will it stand up to interrogation? • Time availability is always an issue, but sometimes you need to make time to plan events that will save time in the long run. The more effort spent in planning, the greater likelihood of success. Create a simple plan in order to keep focused and understand what needs to be completed and by when. Performance • If you are not already measuring business results, decide what milestones you

will measure your business by to indicate success. Don’t just concentrate on financial measures, make sure you manage and measure how good your operations are – these are the drivers of financial results. • Do you need additional money and is this in place? Manage your cashflow and working capital and make sure you do not over-trade. • Understand your pricing strategy. If margins are low will the business be able to withstand price-based competition? Review pricing regularly to ensure it is up to date, and correctly accounts for the full cost of products or services, in order to maintain the levels of profitability required. People • Are additional staff required for this phase of growth? Will existing or new staff require additional training or new skills? Make sure you understand the associated costs. • Are the systems you currently have in place to manage staff sufficient or do you need to upgrade/replace these? • Customer service is essential for success. Your customer base is a reflection of your organisation. Good customer service requires excellent staff management, co-operation and communications. Processes (operations) • Understand your operations in detail – can staff follow them consistently? Do you need to demonstrate

quality assurance to your customers with standards such as ISO 9000? Think about operations from your customer viewpoint and design them in such a way to maximise sales. • Are your premises sufficient or will you need larger premises? Are additional infrastructure costs, such as a new delivery van or production line required? • Have you considered outsourcing? Outsourcing can decrease costs and provide scalability, but needs to be well managed. • Check if existing internal business systems will cope, such as IT, customer management systems and financial systems. • Technology has radically changed the way we do business, whereby new start up businesses can now go global from day one. How can technology help grow your business? In reality many small businesses are hampered by lack of time and their daily operations. The use of business mentors is increasing, and they are an invaluable resource for providing a sounding board, giving an alternative view to consider and making sure business owners/managers can answer the ‘why’. Staying on top of your game and understanding the issues raised will probably place you above potential competitors. Remember, seek advice as early as possible using a variety of sources – it’s usually free. Spring 2011 | Into Business | 23


Case Study

Growing a Service Business: LawscriptNI LawscriptNI had been trading for four years when the global financial crisis of 2008 hit home. With its main customer segment badly impacted, what happened next ?

Market The market for digital transcription services was and remains buoyant, and this is driven by two main factors: 1. Speech to text software still has problems recognising local dialects, people’s surnames and place names. 2. Outsourcing transcription services can save businesses money, as it negates the need for salaried staff and decreases 24 | Into Business | Spring 2011

the amount of time spent in proof-reading and error correction, which can be significant if undertaken by a barrister. For these reasons the legal profession are the main customers of LawscriptNI’s services. However, the crash of the housing market, which precipitated the financial crisis of 2008 badly affected the legal profession and in turn LawscriptNI.

‘‘

We had built up the business but because of the volatility in the day to day business flows and the inefficient use of in house staff we were losing money.

‘‘

Richard Marshall, whose background was in international investment, started LawscriptNI in 2004. His aim was to provide secure outsourced typing solutions and digital transcription services to legal organisations in Ireland and the UK who use dictation as their main means of generating correspondence.

Tipping Point A tipping point in the business had been reached due to reasons typically associated with start up businesses:

1. LawscriptNI had too narrow a focus: the legal profession, which Richard believes “never went into recession”, and the housing market. The decline in conveyance within the housing market drastically impacted this customer segment. 2. The 80/20 rule: The company had not established a diverse enough customer base and subsequently had too much dependence on one large customer. 3. These points together with an unstable market increased the volatility of customer orders, meaning it was becoming increasingly difficult to schedule staff against customer work. This resulted in too much down time for salaried staff. Richard realised that “although he was keen for any type of customer in

the early years,” the issues raised above had placed his business’ back to the wall and new customers were now urgently needed if the business was to continue and be successful. Planning Richard did have an ace up his sleeve. Having completed a business plan Richard approached InvestNI in 2005 and was accepted as an InvestNI client company. This provided Richard invaluable support and access to a business mentor, who provided him with “a second pair of eyes and an alternative business viewpoint”. This support helped Richard fully understand the rationale behind his business decisions. The good news was the drivers of the digital transcription services market remained intact. In consultation with his


Performance Focusing on increasing market share proved a winning decision. It turned out the medical profession required the same level of transcription services as the legal profession. Increasing market share in turn increased sales revenues. At the same time operational costs were decreased through a decision to use outsourcing. By outsourcing the majority of the labour the fixed cost was converted to a variable cost which can float up and down with the business and so profitability can be achieved at a lower level. This combined effect added to an increased bottom line performance for the company. Processes The use of self-employed contractors decreased staff salary overheads, freeing up cashflow while maintaining the necessary quality of service under service level agreement at 99% accuracy. It also provided LawscriptNI with an operational capability within different world time zones. An example is when a customer contacts LawscriptNI towards the end of a working day and requires the work completed by the following morning. LawscriptNI can then farm this work out to a contractor in the USA, who still has

the day to complete and return in time for the local customer the following morning. People Apart from the management team, LawscriptNI uses a core team of contractors for all outsourced transcription services. These contractors, numbering up to 20 worldwide, are “productivity driven and not hampered by normal hours of work if the job is urgent”. During the past few years these contractors have proved themselves through consistently high levels and quality of work, which meets the customer’s needs. LawscriptNI have a database of new potential contractors, who can also be used if required. The approach LawscriptNI has taken has seen the business successfully expand and the quality of work has brought new customers. As a result an existing customer, who used the service for its Irish requirements, has now requested LawscriptNI to become their prime supplier for digital transcription services in the UK. This will mean quadrupling production levels, and additional management capacity and capability. Quality control will continue to be a big issue and new systems will need to be established.

‘‘

What the recession did was force us to change the business model and that is what has allowed us to become profitable sooner.

‘‘

business mentor, Richard decided on a growth strategy through diversification, focusing on attracting new customers from the existing legal profession, as well as gaining market share in new customer segments, such as the medical profession and in the media industry.

Richard is now more confident than ever before about his ability to manage LawscriptNI to its next level of growth.

Ballymena Business Centre Invites micro-enterprises, who are interested developing cross-border Invitesin micro-enterprises, who are trade and linkages, to participate in a interested in developing cross-border trade programme of support, providing opportunities to explore new markets and linkages, to participate in a programme and products

of support, providing opportunities to explore new markets and products Tradelinks is a business development programme, delivered by Enterprise NI & its network of Local Enterprise Agencies and the Border County Enterprise Boards, designed to assist the micro-enterprise sector across Northern Ireland and the Border counties of Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal in developing their ability to undertake or expand their cross-border trade. Companies committed to : • enhancing employment generation opportunities • developing exporting capability • addressing barriers to cross border trade • investigating the opportunities afforded by new technology • encouraging new market and new product development • encouraging innovation will find that the Tradelinks Programme is for them. Tradelinks will assist micro-businesses by providing: • a wide-ranging suite of programmes specifically designed to address the issues unique to the micro-enterprise sector. • a team of experienced assessors and mentors • the opportunity to form cross-border linkages with similar micro-enterprises • a full signposting service to other programmes. To find out further details about the Programme or to register an interest, please contact: Stephen Scullion on 028 2565 8616 or Email: Stephen@ballymenabusiness.co.uk

The Special EU Programmes Body is the Managing Authority for the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme

Spring 2011 | Into Business | 25


Local Business Leaders

What Inspired me to go Into Business? A range of local business people give an insight into why they started their own business.

Andrea McCaw, 1-2-1 Training, computer training tailored to your needs “Having been bamboozled by technical lingo from the guys in the IT Department of my workplace I knew I could help people, who were new to computers, in a better way – empowering them. With one-to-one training no one gets embarrassed about asking questions or feeling stupid – the only reason they don’t know is because no one has taken the time to explain things properly to them before. As Don Wood states, ‘Stupid is forever, ignorance can be fixed’.”

William Megaughin, New York Nails & Beauty “For years I dreamt of running my own business. At the age of 43, I realised it was now or never. I have always been self-motivated and, to be honest, not very good at taking orders. I started my business four years ago. Although there have been hard times due to the economic conditions, I really enjoy the challenges each day brings.”

Joanne Brown Kerr, Business Adviser/Trainer “There were two things that gave me the motivation and helped me decide to go into self-employment. One was my family – having two young children, I wanted more flexibility and a better work life balance. The other was Ballymena Business Centre. The help, support and encouragement I received through the Centre was fantastic and even now having someone to talk to through the Centre is brilliant. I haven’t had a single day of regret since starting eight years ago and would encourage anyone thinking about starting a business to avail of the great support through Ballymena Business Centre or any other Enterprise Agency and go for it!”

Dermot McIlroy McIlroy Guitars based in Antrim make high quality, high spec guitars “There were two things that inspired or pushed me into setting up my own business. The first was the desire to create what I believed could be a better product than the one that was being produced by the company I worked for. I could see design changes that could make the guitars better. The second was economic. Towards the end of the 1990s the company I worked for laid off many staff and put the rest on a three day week. While things did improve again, I had already made up my mind to take matters into my own hands. It took three years of planning and a further five years to really get established. The Irish Independent newspaper recently named us as one of the top 10 companies in Ireland. 26 | Into Business | Spring 2011

Andrew McAlonan, Repair Shop NI “Basically, I had never thought about moving out on my own until I moved to another employer who was doing exceptionally well for himself. I soon realised that I could offer as good a service, if not better, in the same field of work. That was nine months ago, and so far so good.”

Linda Drumm, Three’s Company, Greenvale Street Ballymena “Three’s Company began with a friendship that grew with a love for the job, resulting in a partnership for the past 15 years.” Jane Allen, Jane’s Kitchen “There are many people who have inspired me during my 23 years in business, but Mr David Patton MBE is a person whom I have been privileged to know and work for. The reason that he inspires me is his enthusiasm, drive and passion for what he truly believes in never wanes. I strongly believe that to be successful and survive in business, especially during these difficult economic times, demands enthusiasm and passion for the product or service that any business strives to deliver.”

Florence Allan, The Magic Roundabout Day Care Nursery “Working with children had never been a thought for me as an Assistant Accountant. However when my little girl was three, I felt I needed to get out of the house more and when I was asked to help out at the YMCA playgroup I thought it would be a good opportunity, a good change and a better working environment that I could create. I believe I have achieved all three. This is where the inspiration came from to start The Magic Roundabout Day Care Nursery which will have been open for 12 years in May.”

Louise McKee, Gemini hair studio based in Ballymena “What inspired me to go into business was the flexibility it gave me. I can now work hours that best suit my clients and work better with my schedule.”


PSNI receive Gold Workplace Charter for ‘Safe Place’ ‘Safe Place’ is just one of the recent Onus initiatives that PSNI have adopted across Northern Ireland. The Service were presented with their Gold Workplace Charter by Justice Minister David Ford at Parliament Buildings, in recognition of the proactive approach to domestic abuse taken by PSNI as employers. Additionally PSNI regionally have adopted a new initiative for victims of domestic abuse. ‘Safe Place’ gives information to all victims of domestic violence, on the wide range of support services available. Onus is working with PSNI who will provide the Safe Place resources to all PSNI stations across Northern Ireland.

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Ballymena Company Starts Mixing it With the Big Guns Anniversaries mean presents, and it’s usually the case that the bigger the year, the bigger the present. Local company Tower Signs are celebrating their 15th year anniversary and they have gone all out and treated themselves to a brand new machine that potentially doubles their working capacity.

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Standing 1600mm wide, the new printer is the only one of its kind north of Belfast and gives the Railway Yard based firm the opportunity to start to become more competitive in bigger markets. Roy Moore proprietor commented: “It doubles our capacity to continue to produce high quality work both here and further afield, we can now compete with some of the bigger companies nationwide.”

15th Anniversary

Roy and his team continue to faithfully serve businesses in Ballymena and further afield offering PVC banners, paper posters, roll up banners, vehicle graphics and of course what they’re most famous for – signs for the inside and outside of your business. They also provide a trade routering service to smaller sign companies as they are the only company in a 20 mile radius to own a CNC machine, a specific piece of equipment that cuts logos and letters from timber, aluminium, MDF, foamex, perspex and much more.

Visit our brand new website for a detailed list of our products & services

Fifteen years has seen them come a long way and as they continue to grow they want to work closely with other local businesses such as architects, design agencies and web design companies and Roy would encourage these kinds of businesses to get in touch as he feels there is a lot of work around for local companies.

Signs • PVC Banners • Paper Posters Roll Up Banners • Vehicle Graphics And Much More

www.towersigns.com A business with no sign is a sign of no business! Tower Signs, Unit 2, Railway Goods Yard Ballymena, BT42 2AF T: 028 2565 8306 F: 028 2565 8306 M: 07802 292549 E: info@towersigns.com W: www.towersigns.com Spring 2011 | Into Business | 27


Networking

Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry Become part of an organisation that is working for you and industry The Chamber of Commerce was established in Ballymena in 1919. Interestingly while its original objectives – 'To uphold, protect and promote the general interests of manufacturers, merchants, traders, farmers, fruit growers, scotch mill owners, horse and cattle dealers of Ballymena and the surrounding district’ – have changed in terms of scope, the drive to 'uphold, protect and promote the general interests of businesses’ remains 92 years later.

History With declining membership in the 1950s, the Chamber ceased to function in 1956. This remained the situation for several years, until, in 1963 Mr George Sloane asked Mr Sean Kyle to call a meeting with a view to reestablishing the Chamber of Commerce in the town. This meeting went well and in the spring of 1963, the Chamber once again emerged with Mr Sloane becoming President 28 | Into Business | Spring 2011

and Mr Kyle Secretary Treasurer – a post he held for a remarkable 33 years. Meanwhile in the early 1960s, Mr Robert Simpson MP had formed a committee to consider the special needs of industrialists in the area. In 1964 it was agreed to incorporate this body within the aegis of the Chamber, which became officially known as Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Today The Chamber has always attempted to represent the Borough of Ballymena, not only the town. To reflect this, in 2006, the word Borough was added to the Chamber’s name. The Chamber is represented by a Management Committee of twelve members, which is elected each year at the AGM. These are the President,

Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and seven members plus the Immediate Past President. The Management Committee normally meets monthly or as required. In addition, Chris Wales represents the Chamber on the ground daily, liaising with members and other stakeholders in his official capacity as Business Development Manager.


The Chamber has been involved in a multiplicity of topics over the years – town planning, roads development, parking, the hospital situation and its services, postal and telephone problems and industrial needs are just a few. In recent years the Chamber has been and currently is involved in a number of very successful projects and working groups: • Radio Link was founded by the Chamber in 1999 and is now the benchmark scheme in Northern Ireland • CCTV – the Chamber played a lead role in bringing CCTV to Ballymena • Community Safety Partnership • Northern Ireland Chamber • Ballymena Economic Development Partnership • Sister Cities and Twinning • Christmas Window Dressing Competition • Ballymena Town Centre Development Limited • Peace 111 • Partners and Communities Together

success, achievement and excellence of Ballymena businesses. First held in 2003, the gala evening is now an important date in the Ballymena business calendar, growing year on year with close to 500 attendees every year, making it one of the largest Chamber Awards in Northern Ireland. All of the above demonstrates two things. Firstly, the commitment of the Management Committee – busy people who give freely of their time and expertise to make Ballymena a better place to live, visit, work and socialise. And secondly, the positive attitude and focus on growth shared by local businesses. Benefits Membership of the Chamber is open to all businesses, large or small, and to all sectors, including retail, service, construction or

industry. The Chamber today represents businesses employing over 10,000 people in the Borough. There are many reasons why your business would benefit from Chamber membership: • Become better connected – becoming a member immediately offers endless networking opportunities, helping you grow and develop your business by establishing new contacts, building up and strengthening existing relationships. • Have your voice heard (lobbying and representation) – the Chamber acts as the ears, eyes and voice of the business community by communicating upwards and outwards the concerns of our members. • Give back to your local area – your Chamber strives to support and promote all that is good within the Borough of

Ballymena and seeks to keep commerce flowing within the local business community. • Promotion of your business – Chamber members receive real exposure through our website, publications and business events reaching hundreds of potential customers – guaranteed to get your business noticed. • Business solutions – tap into a wealth of expertise, resources and training opportunities through various business events and breakfast /lunch seminars hosted by your Chamber. If you would like to become a member of the Chamber, or to find out more, please visit the Chamber website www.ballymenachamber.co.uk or contact Chris on 07876 758797.

As well as formal groups the Chamber has helped local traders with various issues. A recent example being the Pennybridge Industrial Estate. The estate was suffering a wave of robberies and general criminal activity. The Chamber helped to form a working group comprising the Traders, PSNI, DPP, DRD and the local councillors. This led to the setting up of the Pennybridge Business Watch Scheme, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, and crime in the area has reduced dramatically (pictured opposite). The other most visible activity every year is the Ballymena Borough Business Excellence Awards. The aim of the awards is simple – to recognise and reward the

Raymond Ruck, President of Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry Spring 2011 | Into Business | 29


People

Are you an’Employer of Choice’? Are you the type of business that attracts, optimises and retains talented employees because employees choose to be there? `

‘‘

Becoming an 'Employer of Choice’ is as much about the attitude your business has towards your employees as it is about the conditions of employment Linzi Conway Key to Success Consultants

The experience of candidates at each stage of the recruitment process whether successful or unsuccessful 30 | Into Business | Spring 2011

will impact on their view of the organisation. Their perspective as a potential employee and, depending on the nature of the business, as a customer, is important. Therefore, attracting the right kind of employee, encouraging them to remain loyal and to perform to the best of their abilities requires a commitment to good human resource management practices and good people management skills. The bottom line is, if you have a reputation for high staff turnover, limited training or career opportunities, poor management practices, etc, you may not attract the best people nor engage and motivate staff to give their best.

Employer branding and employer brand management has become a growing practice to ensure that your business effectively markets what it has to offer to potential and existing employees. It has been defined as the “company’s image as seen through the eyes’ of its associates and potential hires”. It is about every aspect of an employee’s life cycle with your company. All employers, regardless of size, location and structure, will have an employer brand, but many organisations lack a strategy for their employer brand. Even during the economic downturn – with organisations often spoilt for choice by

‘‘

Potential recruits and current and past employees can be huge assets when it comes to marketing your business. Just as it is important to have a good reputation for your products and services, the same applies to you as an employer. The best companies, irrespective of size or sector, realise that valued employees should not be taken for granted. Just like profitable customers, your employees are free to make choices, including choosing to join your organisation and committing to stay with you.

large numbers of applications for very few positions – it is still worth investing in employer branding. Anything that influences the way employees and people outside your organisation view your business should be considered in order to ensure you are in shape when the upturn arrives. Consider what your potential recruits, current employees or ex-employees would say about your business or you as a manager: • Would they provide the interviewer with a positive image of your organisation and your management skills? • Would your employees see you as an inspirational


leader and mentor? Are your managers fully equipped to manage people effectively? How do you promote and encourage effective management behaviours? • What would they say about your HR policies and procedures? Are you the champion of best practice or do you struggle to meet legal minimums? • What about your recruitment processes? Consider your recruitment advertisement and recruitment documentation and more importantly the skills of your interviewers. Are they trained in conducting interviews? You should also be fully aware of data protection and equal opportunities legislation and understand how discrimination can occur in the recruitment process. • What about employee induction, performance management and internal

communication procedures? It is important that your employer brand is not merely rhetoric espousing the values of your organisation or how great it is to work there, but is reflective of the actual experience of employees. Your employees past and present, customers, clients and key stakeholders should truly believe that your business is a ‘great place to work’. If they do, congratulations, you are an ‘Employer of Choice’ and you will find business benefits. Linzi Conway owns Key to Success Consultants (www. ktsconsultants.co.uk), which offers Human Resource Management Solutions, Organisational Development and Marketing Services. For further help with employer branding, recruitment or interview training send Linzi an email: info@ktsconsultants.co.uk

I.T. TRAINING Is the lack of computer skills holding you back? Do you need IT training in your current role or qualifications to help you with employment? Training available from beginner to qualification level in Clait, ECDL, Word Processing and more. Gain qualifications in as little as 6 weeks. Why not try our Bootcamp and gain your Word Processing in as little a 2 days. m: 07956 180 018 w: www.officewizz.co.uk e: officewizz@btinternet.com

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Location

Organising a Business Event ?

1

Take a look at IntoBusiness' 10 Step Plan for Success

This simple 10 step plan will help guide you through the process of event management, increase your confidence and above all ensure your event is a real success.

1

BE CLEAR

What is the event? Whether your event is a small gathering, a product launch, a business workshop or a large conference it is extremely important to set objectives. Objectives should focus on all aspects of the event from preevent planning through to post event evaluation and should include measurable targets in terms of audience, number of people attending, format of event and event outputs (for example press coverage, new customer leads, knowledge shared, contacts made and allocated budget). Being clear at the outset will enable you to measure how successful your event has been.

2

EVENT FORMAT

Prepare an agenda covering the format of your event, schedule all activities from the time delegates arrive through

Ballymena Business & Recreation

32 | Into Business | Spring 2011

Organising a business event can often be a stressful time for the promoter. You need to consider where to start and what to expect, who and how many will attend, and most importantly you need to ensure that those who do attend find it beneficial and interesting.

to the close of the event. Include a breakdown of timings and remember to allow sufficient time for registration, refreshments, networking and photographs. Be innovative and discuss your ideas with colleagues, employees, family or friends.

3

HOW MUCH HAVE YOU GOT TO SPEND?

Whether you are spending £500 or £5000 it is important to set a budget and manage it. Think about preevent costs such as preparing invitations and advertising in local media. Also give thought to the number of guests likely to attend. This will help when deciding venue and food costs. What about guest speakers or workshop facilitators?

5

Melanie Christie Boyle Chief Executive Ballymena Business Centre

PLAN FOR SUCCESS

Develop an action plan by preparing a simple spreadsheet with all the tasks that need to be addressed from pre-event planning and promotion through to post event evaluation and follow up. Get colleagues and employees or friends and family involved. Allocate tasks to your team of willing helpers with deadlines for completion. You are the promoter and therefore should not get caught up in the detail. Don’t micro-manage as you will need to take a global view of the event, and remember to have regular team meetings and communication to monitor progress.

6

LOCATION

Who do you want to attend? Will it be staff, business people or people from the local community? It is important to know your target audience so you can use the most appropriate platform to promote your event and make sure your event takes place at a time that best suits your guests. Should it be early morning, mid-morning, afternoon or evening?

When selecting a venue you should consider location. Will it be easy to find, is there good parking facilities, what about disability access, will the rooms be suitable in terms of size and seating capacity, what catering facilities are available and are there options to cater for special diet requirements? Request a breakdown of costs and check the detail – are there any additional costs in terms of renting multimedia equipment, Wi-Fi connection, etc.

Facilities Available Sports Hall, Meeting Rooms & IT Suite for Hire, Refreshments and Catering can be provided, Fully equiped Kitchen and Cafe area

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4

THE AUDIENCE

7

CREATING AWARENESS

Creating the right message about your event is vital. The message should communicate what your event is about, the benefits of attending and who should attend. Remember to have clear details on your invitation in terms of venue, directions, time and catering arrangements. Think about the benefits to your audience, remember they are giving their time to attend and time is precious! When promoting your event think of all the different platforms available that can be used to spread the message and what would work best – traditional invitation, emailed invitations, press release, community and business newsletter, social media such as Facebook or Linkedin, website links or complimentary business groups and networks? Think about how delegates should register for the event, will it be an open invitation to turn up on the day or should they pre-register by a certain date and should they pre-register by telephone or email? If there is a fee attached you can request delegates to register and make payment online. Weekly Activities Yoga, Pilates, Slimming World, Jo Jingles and many more activities & fitness classes coming soon

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There are many event registration websites you can use for this purpose and to draw down fees all you need is a PayPal account.

8

10

ON THE DAY

The big day has arrived! If you have all your plans in place everything should run smoothly and your delegates should enjoy your event. Remember as promoter, don’t get caught up in the micromanagement, you will need to take a global view, have time to meet and greet, network with those attending and if needs be fine-tune any last minute details.

9

your original objectives. What worked well and what areas could have been improved upon?

EVALUATE

Quite often after the event we all sit back and relax, but remember you still have a little more work to do. It is important to evaluate the success of your event against

FOLLOW UP

Remember to follow up with those who attended and those who were unable to attend. All too often contacts made can quickly be lost due to poor follow up and sometimes all that would be required is a simple email just to say thank you. And finally, if you would like to promote a future business event or profile a past event, please send your information and photographs through to the IntoBusiness magazine team by contacting Ballymena Business Centre on 028 2565 8616 or email info@ballymenabusiness.co.uk

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Business Role Model

Delivering an infant business is in the details It is not just about the first day but getting it right all day, every day

34 | Into Business | Spring 2011


So you have an idea for a business – one that you believe has the potential to alter the industry. You have put together a simple, straightforward proposition that potential customers find easy to understand. You have raised the necessary capital, gathered a team and publicised your new venture by every means available. What happens next?

now are. This is the real key to getting all the other items on the list done – employees are better able to report problems and get them fixed before I come along with my notebook. And as you decide how best to deliver your product or service, keep in mind the company’s core business values, the medium-term strategic considerations and where the industry is headed in the long term. Make your decisions on the micro level in light of that bigger picture, and your business should be headed in the right direction.

It’s time to deliver on your promises. And the only difference between merely satisfactory delivery and great delivery is attention to detail.

This problem-solving process should not be limited to the launch. Owners and leaders of established companies should sample their Anyone who aspires to lead business products as often a company must develop a as possible. Many bosses habit of taking notes. I carry regularly speak to staff at all levels, but often they do a notebook everywhere not follow up on problems I go. Most of my entries they uncover. This means are like this one, from a that their employees never Virgin Atlantic flight years learn what importance the ago: “Dirty carpets. Fluff. CEO places on getting the Areas around bow dirty. Equipment: Stainless steel, details right, or see just how necessary and possible grotty. Choice of menu disappointing — back from it is to address the everyday Miami, prawns then lobster problems that come up. (as a main course) in Upper If you foster a corporate Class. Chicken curry very culture of waiting for bland. Chicken should be someone else to solve cut in chunks. Rice pretty dry. No Stilton available on problems, the company will suffer the consequences. cheeseboard.” What’s most revealing is this final note: “Staff Bosses, give staff desperate for someone your phone number to listen. Make sure flight staff reports are actioned immediately.” Great delivery also depends I’m pleased to say that they on great communication,

which should start at the top. Be brave: Hand out your email address and phone number. Your employees will know not to misuse it or badger you, and by doing so, you will be giving them a terrific psychological boost – they will know that they can contact you anytime a problem comes up that requires your attention. Instilling attention to detail throughout your new company will prove especially important when the business begins to gain ground. It always tickles me when a spokesman explains to reporters that a company experiencing delays or other problems in delivering a product or service is “a victim of its own success” – as though it had undergone something rare and freakish. Delivery is not just limited to the company’s first day: employees across the business should be focusing on getting it right all day, every day. A few years ago, I saw warning signs that we were starting to stumble when I received a letter from a couple who had planned to travel on Virgin Trains in Britain. We had seen a rapid 50 percent increase in passenger numbers and suddenly people were finding it difficult to get a seat on the busier routes. The letter writers had not realised that they now had to book seats in advance. When they arrived at the station, they found the staff

unhelpful. Given that the husband was disabled and needed assistance, this was pretty terrible of us. I personally helped them with their problem and in the process become concerned about the bigger picture for this company. I penned a letter to Ashley Stockwell, the brand and customer service guardian for Virgin Group, asking him to take a look. Thanks to our renewed focus on delivering great service and attention to detail, we got better and soon received plaudits. I’m proud to say that Virgin Trains delivered on its promises. It wasn’t easy. Finally, if you do start to see success in the form of new and repeat business, remember to keep a cool head. You’re delivering change, and if you are succeeding, other businesses are very probably getting hurt in the rough and tumble. They will try to shut you down.

Be sportsmanlike, play to win, and then befriend your enemies If you do fall out with a partner, colleague or competitor, call that person a year later and take him out to dinner. It is likely you have a great deal in common. After all, why did you both get into the business in the first place? To deliver change, serve customers, reform an industry? Does any of this sound familiar?

Adapted from “Business Stripped Bare” by Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. Spring 2011 | Into Business | 35


Enterprise

An Enterprising Way Forward Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise Northern Ireland, explains how the Local Enterprise Agency network is helping to grow the private sector by assisting small businesses to start up and expand. Belt tightening, in terms of the reduction in the block grant from the Treasury to Northern Ireland, is starting to work its way into our economic fabric. Most economic commentators are in agreement that we need to grow the private sector in Northern Ireland and move away from an over-reliance on public sector job creation. Easier said than done, some would say. Against this backdrop Enterprise Northern Ireland (ENI) is responding to the needs of the small business community. Since our launch in 2000 as the umbrella organisation representing Northern Ireland’s 32 Local Enterprise Agencies (LEAs), we have played a significant role in stimulating economic growth and private sector job creation. There is an LEA in every local council area in Northern Ireland, all delivering a range of business services to help people set up and grow their businesses. In Ballymena, the Ballymena Business Centre in Galgorm has assisted over one hundred people to set up in business in the last year alone. ENI members contribute to the development of the Northern Ireland economy through the provision of a continuum of support – helping those people who want to start a business, through to business owners who want to take their 36 | Into Business | Spring 2011

business to the next stage of development. Over the past twelve months we have dealt with over 15,000 enquiries from people looking to set up in business. Some people say there has never been a better time to start a business. Recent research shows that in the first six months of 2010 in the UK, the highest number of people in over a decade started their own business. Why? Because it’s now perfectly possible to start and grow a business (even in your spare time and from home) on a small budget. And if you are looking for business premises then look no further than your LEA, the Ballymena Business Centre. Across Northern Ireland LEAs provide workspace for over three thousand small businesses. Social economy businesses are big business in Northern Ireland, and over the past year the LEA network helped to set up forty six new social enterprises with a combined projected turnover of over £3m, creating over one hundred new jobs — that’s real impact! With the current dearth of start-up capital the ENI small business loan fund has never been more appealing to small business owners. During 2010 we loaned almost £1m to local businesses. Since the fund was established in 2002

Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise Northern Ireland believes LEAs are well positioned to assist the Northern Ireland Executive to meet its social and economic goals we have provided over one thousand loans totalling £6.2m to help businesses across Northern Ireland. It’s not all doom and gloom at the moment, the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in Northern Ireland judging by the number of business start-up enquiries. People in their thousands are spotting gaps in the market or turning their hobbies into a way of making a living. So, back to my opening comments. Is growing the private sector in

Northern Ireland easier said than done? Certainly organisations like the LEAs are well positioned to assist the Northern Ireland Executive to meet its social and economic goals. If the sector is given the financial investment it needs to continue to deliver the range of services, which I have detailed, then its contribution to the economy and local communities will be immense.


Lifestyle

Motoring UK Ready to Take a Longer Look at the Audi A8 Even more luxurious long wheelbase versions of hightech luxury saloon join the UK Audi range. Audi has gone to even greater lengths to cocoon A8 passengers in absolute comfort in long wheelbase versions of the lightweight aluminium-bodied luxury saloon, the first examples of which have just reached the UK. Available from £60,010 OTR, the five-strong A8 L range incorporates an additional 130mm of wheelbase and body length to provide even more exceptional passenger accommodation. It is also further refined by a 6.3-litre, twelve cylinder W12 flagship model that is exclusive to the long wheelbase line-up. Like the ‘standard wheelbase’ A8, the lengthened luxury saloon is crafted predominantly from aluminium in the interest of efficiency, comfort and driving agility. This approach reduces weight by around 40 percent compared with an all-steel equivalent, and provides the very best operating conditions for the five engines that power the

range – the 3.0-litre TDI (250PS), the 4.2-litre TDI (350PS), the supercharged 3.0-litre TFSI (290PS), the 4.2-litre FSI (372PS) and the heavily reworked W12. This remarkably refined twelve cylinder powerhouse has been bored out from 6.0-litres to 6.3-litres, and is now bolstered by FSI direct petrol injection for improved economy and emissions control. Maximum power has increased by 50PS over the previous version to 500PS, and the 45Nm higher torque peak of 625Nm arrives at 3,250 rpm. As a result, the A8 L W12 can power to 62mph in just 4.7 seconds, and cruise serenely, where conditions allow, at a governed top speed of 155mph. And with the help of FSI technology, fuel economy belies these figures, with up to 22.8mpg achievable according to the combined cycle test – an improvement of around 9 percent over the outgoing model which results in CO2 output of 290g/km. Thanks to its advanced adaptive air springs, lightweight suspension and

latest generation quattro all-wheel-drive, the longwheelbase Audi A8 manages to combine the polished ride refinement expected of a luxury car with handling poise and agility that would normally characterise performance saloons from one or two classes below. The full extra length of the A8 L benefits rear-seat passengers, who are able to enter even more easily through wider doors which, in the W12 version, feature power assisted closure. Rear passenger comfort is also further improved by standard seat heating, an upgraded climate control system which enables precise temperature modulation in the two rear ‘zones’ and electrically operated rear window and side window blinds. In the W12, comfort is taken to even greater extremes by replacing the standard rear seat arrangement with two individual sculpted rear seats which can be heated and feature fore/aft adjustable bases and angle adjustable backrests.

Well-being in the W12 is also further enhanced by double glazing and even more extensive use of Fine Nappa leather taking in everything from the glove compartment lid to the area surrounding the MMI controls. Technology plays a no less important role, as expected in a key exponent of Vorsprung durch Technik. All-LED headlights feature as standard in the W12, as do features including a BOSE audio system linked to a hard drive-based ‘jukebox’ capable of holding up to 8,000 songs, the MMI Touch fingertip navigation and telephone data entry system and a suite of sophisticated online services. When a Bluetooth-capable mobile phone with SIM access profile is present, weather information and Google Earth images can be beamed via the car’s internal UMTS module to the Multi Media Interface (MMI) and its navigation unit. Through its wireless local area network (WLAN) link the car also doubles as a wi-fi hotspot, allowing passengers to connect up to six computers to the internet.

The new long wheelbase A8 L Spring 2011 | Into Business | 37


Lifestyle

Nissan Begins Deliveries of LEAF Nissan has begun deliveries of the first 100% electric, mass produced, affordable family car, the Nissan LEAF, to customers in the UK. Paul Willcox, Managing Director at Nissan Motor GB, was on hand to witness the handover of the first Nissan LEAFs in the UK. He commented: “The Nissan LEAF is pioneering the electric car revolution in the UK. We first unveiled the car in August 2009 and we’ve been building up to this

moment for over 18 months. The Nissan LEAF is currently built in Japan, but will be manufactured at Nissan’s award winning plant in Sunderland from 2013. A comprehensive charging network is currently under development in the UK and Nissan’s network of EV dealers – currently 26 sites across the country – will be equipped with a quick charger, which will charge the battery from zero up to 80% capacity in under

30 minutes. Across the UK there are programmes under way to install around

9,000 charge points by 2013.

Travel Cannes Film Festival - First Screenings and Future Classics Amongst a Galaxy of Stars The 64th Cannes Film Festival promises sunshine, entertainment and the envy of your friends. Running between 11 and 22 May, Cannes in the South of France will be the place to enjoy famous and talented company and the stylish ostentation for which the Riviera is known. Always an exciting worldclass event, this year’s festival will be opened by Carla Bruni, wife of the French premier. Most unusually, she also features in the opening picture, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, with Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates and Michael Sheen. Cannes always presents an opportunity for the release of remarkable new work. It’s possible that the makers of 2007 prizewinner Persepolis will repeat their success as they unveil Isabella Rossellini in Chicken with Plums, based on codirector Satrapi’s own novel. 38 | Into Business | Spring 2011

Elena and Goodbye First Love are pieces on emotional themes, also by Russian and French previous winners. A new version of Wuthering Heights is promised by Andrea Arnold, while The Grandmasters, Wong KarWai’s much anticipated biopic of Bruce Lee is expected to be the director’s return to fashionability.

While art-house and controversial-themed pictures have often given Cannes its reputation, much commercial success has been generated for mainstream movies that open here. This Must Be The Place stars Frances McDormand and Sean Penn, who also co-stars with Brad Pitt in Terence Mallick’s long-

awaited The Tree of Life. If you haven’t been to Cannes before, or indeed an international film festival, it’s a trip worth considering, where beautiful scenery, the jet-set and the best in cinema combine for a truly remarkable experience.


Business to Business Advertising Covered • A4 glossy magazine • 5,000 copies every quarter • Postal delivery to all registered businesses in the Ballymena area • Local and national contributors • Supporting local business To ADVERTISE Tel: 028 2500 2005

What’s in the Next Issue: Summer 2011 What is a Social Enterprise: The benefits of starting a social enterprise within a community or interest group and the impact of Social Enterprise in Northern Ireland. The Power of Networking: With many network organisations emerging what will the benefits be to local businesses and how do you build relationships to attract more customers and support for your business? Graduate Into Business: With term time over and limited employment opportunities available is it time for our local graduates to consider self-employment? Business Apps: What apps are all about, the advancement of this technology and how it can benefit local businesses. Economic Outlook: Views from a senior economist. Profile of Ballymena Business Centre: The local ‘one stop’ advice centre for local businesses. Growing an Online Business: Go global by trading online, with a case study of a local business doing just that. Profile of Women on the Move: A local networking organisation for women in business Motivating a Team: How to get results through a motivated team of colleagues and employees. Virtual Office and Hot Desking: The growth and opportunities of the virtual office and hot desking, and the benefits to be gained. Spring 2011 | Into Business | 39


Am I A Busy Fool? • How much am I owed from my customers? • How much do I owe my suppliers? • How much money do I have in the bank? • Am I making money? • Am I getting the most from my staff? • How long do I have to wait on the answers to these questions?

R. N. GLENN Chartered Accountant

If you do not have accurate, regular, up to date financial information how can you be sure you are not a busy fool?

Start up business financial assistance We provide help to new businesses regarding: • book-keeping records to be kept. These are tailored to the specific business requirements and range from manual systems to spreadsheet models to tailored financial packages e.g. Sage • Pitfalls to avoid • Best practice filing systems to ensure timely accurate information to satisfy internal management and external bodies such as HMRC VAT and Tax inspectors. • Overcoming the fear factor which surrounds book-keeping and accounts • Implement a “1 stop” recording mechanism which satisfies all reporting requirements. • Cash flow projections specifically designed around your business. Ongoing Financial support Free 2 hour assessment to determine: • quality of systems to maintain financial information • Experience of staff updating systems • what owners and managers need and want from their financial information. • Design and implementation of best practice systems built around the needs of the organisation • One to one training of staff on the most efficient way to use the systems e.g. Sage • Devise month end procedures to facilitate accurate and timely management information. • Preparation of timely periodic management accounts

40 | Into Business | Spring 2011

Tel/Fax: 028 2568 5530

• Provide KPI’s as agreed with owner/manager e.g. GP%, output per week, labour cost per sales unit and other KPI’s. • Statutory Accounts for filing at Companies Registry • Payroll Services • Tax services including: • Tax returns • VAT returns • ROI VAT claims Cash Flow Projections We can design cash flow projections which are: • Specifically designed around your business needs • User friendly to allow you to make changes to income, costs, margins etc as they happen. • Professional presentation which may be used for owners, banks, Invest Ni etc. Spreadsheet Models • Facilitate data capture via spreadsheets to ensure that data is captured only once to avoid costly duplication. • Data captured is used to display multiple reports and graphs to support the management accounts. • Spreadsheet is designed to meet internal and external reporting requirements such as HMRC Vat and Tax inspectors.

Book-keeping services Maintenance of key ledgers i.e: • Sales ledger • Purchase ledger • VAT • Nominal ledger • Bank reconciliations Business Review Services • Customer review Who are your profitable customers? Cash collections systems and targets Customer geographical and product profile reporting. • Supplier Review • Products Review Profit margin per products Quality review systems by product • Overhead review Wages and salaries costs Energy and waste costs About me I am a Chartered Accountant therefore I am regulated by Chartered Accountants’ Regulatory Body in Belfast. • Rhonda Glenn • Chartered Accountant • In the profession for 17 yrs • 7 yrs with PricewaterhouseCoopers (formerly Coopers & Lybrand) • 6 yrs in Industry at a Senior Management Level • 4 yrs own Accountancy practice • Boardroom Experience

66a Springmount Road, Ballymena, Co.Antrim BT44 9RB Mobile: 07834 231175 Email: rhonda@glennaccountants.com Web: www.glennaccountants.com

Into Business Magazine 1 : 2011  

Into Business Magazine has been specifically designed to provide helpful tips and advice to those in business, and to provide inspiration an...

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