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MONEY SPECIAL Investment Advice Week featuring Paul Steele HEALTH Beating the Habit for No Smoking Day BUSINESS DEBATE Leaving a Legacy : Apple After Steve Jobs

issue March 2012


Where inspiration strikes Inspired ideas can be a catalyst for success in business. But there are risks attached, especially if you fail to deliver on budget and on schedule. That’s where the expertise and experience of Deloitte can help you take a step ahead, making sure your idea sees the light of day. Visit

For further information please contact Paul Schofield on 01727 885113

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CONTENTS NEWS A roundup of the latest business news and stories from our region


LEGAL HRJ explain about Trademarks


INTERVIEW : NICKY CLARKE Celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke talks to us about his business journey


EXECUTIVE PROFILE This month we speak to Sarah Smits from Ashbourne Insurance


SALES COLUMN With Guest Columnist Nick Baldock

32 30

TECHNOLOGY This month we take a look at the Waterstone’s E-reader .

MOTHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE Some gift ideas that should make even the most difficult of mothers happy!


DRIVE We take a spin in the Mercedes CLS


NETWORKING Regular contributor Andy Lopata shares his thoughts on networking

The HBI is distributed to business centres, meeting and conference facilities, hotels and railway stations across the county, with a further 30,000 being delivered directly to the inbox of our subscribers. A selection of distribution points are listed below.

DISTRIBUTION POINTS Cole Green : Panshanger Flying Club Baldock : Jester Hotel, Baldock Station, Ashwell Station Harpenden : Harpenden House Hotel, Harpenden Station Hatfield : Ramada Jarvis, Hatfield Oak Hotel, Porsche Centre, Fielder Centre Hertford : Hertford North Railway Station I Hertingfordbury : Whitehorse Hotel Hitchin : Hitchin Railway Station I Knebworth : Knebworth Station Letchworth : Letchworth Hall Hotel, Goldsmith Centre, Bizspace Letchworth, Business Centre West Potters Bar : Wenta Potters Bar, Regus Potters Bar Radwell : Days Inn Baldock I Redbourn : Ramada Jarvis Royston : Royston Station, Banyers Hotel, Jester Hotel I St Albans : Quality Hotel Stevenage : Roebuck Hotel, Specialist Cars, Merc Stevenage, Premeir Inn Stevenage, BTC Centre, Cromwell Hotel, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage Station I Turnford : Cheshunt Mariott The Business Club : West Herts Ware : Hanbury Manor I Watford : Ramada Jarvis I Welwyn : Welwyn North Station Welwyn Garden City : Weltech Centre

The HBI is also available to view online at If you would like to receive copies of The HBI for your business please call 0844 358 5800.



0844 358 5800 MANAGING DIRECTOR Simon George EDITOR Jenna Gould

Welcome to the March issue of The Hertfordshire Business Independent. This month marks the six month anniversary since Steve Job’s death, and here at The HBI we wanted to mark the occasion by celebrating what makes a great CEO, Leaving a Legend behind and what is required to a new CEO stepping into the role. Read our special feature on P18. Also, why not try breaking the habit for No Smoking day on 14 March? Follow our top tips on P22. We didn’t forget Mother’s Day, and have brought you all the best gift ideas to suit all budgets and tastes – see P30 for more! Whilst flicking through, make sure you take a look at our Conference and Events special in the centre section. If that isn’t enough for you, we have all the best local news, latest reviews and we review the newest Mercedes. Don’t forget you can also subscribe to receive The HBI straight to your inbox. Just visit www.businessindependent. to sign up! Enjoy your March issue! Best wishes : Jenna Follow us on Twitter @thehbi


CONTRIBUTORS Becky Lewis Daisy Simpson Laura Comer Claire Austin Paul Steele Dean Williams Cris Beswick Sarah Smitts Nick Baldock Michael Wilkinson Andy Lopata ADVERTISING Sona Shah

DESIGNER Karen Birch

PUBLISHED BY Business Independent Ltd. Old Batford Mill Lower Luton Road Harpenden Hertfordshire AL5 5BZ

COPYRIGHT Copyright: 2010 Business Independent Ltd All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior consent of the publishers. The views expressed in any of the Business Independent series of regional magazines are not necessarily the views of the publishers Business Independent Ltd. Whilst Business Independent Ltd has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, neither they norany contributing author can accept any legal responsibility for any consequences that may arise from errors or omissions contained in this publication or from acting on any opinions or advice given. In particular, this publication is general and not a substitute for professional advice and you should consult your own professional advisors where appropriate.


THRIVE HOMES EXTENDS CONTRACT WITH SOVEREIGN BUSINESS INTEGRATION FOR ANOTHER FIVE YEARS Housing Association, Thrive Homes has extended its contract with independent IT services and business solutions specialist, Sovereign Business Integration. The initial one-year contract has been extended for five years, after a rigorous and competitive procurement process, with the option to extend for another two years after that, and will commence on the 1st of April 2012. The extension to its current relationship with Sovereign will see Thrive Homes move to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), with the added benefit of greater IT security and flexibility of working across the organisation. Thrive Homes will move its servers and associated data to Sovereign’s data centre facility, together with receiving on-going IT consultancy services from the specialists. Elspeth Mackenzie, Chief Executive at Thrive Homes – an organisation that owns and manages more than 3,700 rented and 440 leasehold homes in the Three Rivers district of Hertfordshire – comments, “We made the initial decision to outsource our IT requirements to Sovereign in December 2010 and saw a marked improvement in the way we could use IT in terms of its flexibility and efficiency. In addition, we saw a marked reduction in the costs of running the IT infrastructure. By extending our contract with Sovereign for a further five years we expect to continue to see these benefits, whilst enjoying further advantages as our IT requirements expand with the growth of our organisation.”


Recent figures show that the number of jobless people fell in December by almost 5 per cent, according to Watford recruitment company 24-7 Response, putting Watford ahead of the rest of the UK. This was the third consecutive drop and was probably attributed to temporary workers being hired in the retails sector in the run up to Christmas. Stuart Moss, operations director of 24-7 Response said, “We’re cautious about whether this is significant in terms of a turn in the job market, however as an agency we are seeing a slow and steady flow of placements and there are good signs of growth on the horizon. Recruitment agencies supplying temporary staff could be the key to keeping the economy moving, this on the back of a number of local businesses in Watford that have won substantial contracts in the area with the forthcoming Olympics.” Latest research issued yesterday by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation said that skill shortages can be expected. Permanent staff shortages are expected in professional and managerial roles; nursing, medical and healthcare; and Education and Training. For temporary staff, skills shortages are likely to occur in Driving and Distribution (21 per cent), Catering and Accommodation (21 per cent) and Accounting/Financial (16 per cent).


Press and sponsors were out in force at the Goldsmith Centre, Letchworth last month for the launch of the FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards 2012. An impressive £10,000 advertising package is on offer for the County Champion, which will be presented at a glittering awards ceremony at the stunning Shendish Manor Hotel, The 2012 programme has attracted sponsorship from some of the key business organisations across the county, including a number of Councils – Dacorum, Stevenage, East Herts and St Albans, who have each sponsored their own “Business of the Year Award.” Maree Atkinson, Business Adviser for FSB said “Our FSB awards here in Hertfordshire celebrate the success and diversity of SMEs in our region. Throughout the doom and gloom we continue to punch above our weight and optimism for business in Herts remains high. Some of our previous winners have gone on to win national and international awards as well as appearances on BBC Radio.” The FSB are keen to encourage many more small businesses to enter this year, and build on the positive attitudes of local businesses. The business awards are now open for entries. Entry is free and any business in Hertfordshire, either self-employed or with up to 200 employees, can enter up to 3 categories out of the 18 available. Information, benefits and tips on entering awards can be found on the website uk/hertsawards

Justine Perry, Director and Founder of Cariad Marketing, is delighted to be celebrating her company’s third birthday this month. Helping SMEs and sole traders throughout Hertfordshire and across the country, Cariad Marketing has seen tremendous growth from its home-based start in 2009. As internet marketing experts, Cariad Marketing’s core business is designing and building websites – ranging from five-page informative websites to complex eCommerce sites. The team also provides a full range of marketing services including SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), copywriting for web, PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising and the use of the increasingly important social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and now Google+. In short, everything a business needs to increase its visibility and customer base online. A strong believer in local business networking, Cariad Marketing is an active member of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry, BNI, WIBN and Athena networks. The team is keen to work with local businesses and endorse local initiatives and are regular speakers at local business events on the topics of online marketing and social media. In addition, Justine was invited to be one of three business mentors by the Hertfordshire Mercury for its Local Business Accelerators competition, a role which she has enjoyed tremendously. Commenting on Cariad Marketing’s birthday celebrations, Justine Perry said: “Hertford has served me well, providing an excellent base and springboard for our internet marketing business. I’m delighted to be celebrating Cariad’s third birthday this month and look forward to more successful years ahead helping Hertfordshire companies maximise the cost-effective and new busi-


TV presenter, radio DJ and model Lisa Snowdon, chose Hertfordshire-based Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery to design and make a pendant to mark her 40th birthday on 23 January. The pendant, inspired by an ancient Sanskrit symbol the ‘Aum’, is made entirely from Fairtrade gold and features a laser optic cut garnet, Lisa’s birthstone. Lisa met Harriet Kelsall in July 2011 at the UK Jewellery Awards when she presented her with the award for Business Initiative of the Year and the company’s base in Hertfordshire struck a chord with local girl Lisa, who grew up in Welwyn. Harriet Kelsall is the Founder and Managing Director of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, she said: “When l met Lisa we talked about my business as l had just won a UK Jewellery Award and l explained that l specialise in bespoke jewellery design and what that means. Lisa’s pendant is made up of two parts of the Aum symbol: the Id element, which holds the garnet and represents the ‘self’, and the Infinity or Dream element, which is represented by the swirl on the pendant. The design of the pendant represents Lisa being in the centre of her dreams and her destiny, something that Lisa and Harriet talked about a lot in the early stages of the pendant’s design. “When Harriet presented me with the pendant l felt a real positivity and connection with it and could feel the energy and good vibes that had gone into it. “The fact it was designed and made by hand and in my home county of Hertfordshire makes it feel really special and l am delighted with the level of workmanship that’s gone into it.”


Small business owners across St Albans and Harpenden are being urged to follow Lord Sugar’s lead and take on young apprentices. As latest figures show that the number of people starting apprenticeships in the UK has jumped by more than half to 442,700, Mark Fordham who runs TaxAssist Accountants said: “Local businesses who are looking to recruit, should consider the benefits of taking on young apprentices. “We’re not suggesting they should set the kind of tasks Lord Sugar uses to put his Young Apprentice candidates through their paces, but if local employers are looking at taking on new staff, the apprenticeship scheme is worth a look.” Mark continues “The Government may subsidise some, or all of the apprentice’s training costs, through the National Apprenticeship Scheme, to help young people receive on-the-job training and qualifications. It’s valuable work experience for the young trainee and much-needed support for small businesses in the current economic climate.”





Apprentice winner Lee McQueen’s business Raw Talent Academy are looking for the top 10 budding sales & recruitment professionals in the Watford region and are starting the hunt right here. Are you hungry for success? Frustrated that you can’t get employment? Worried that there are no jobs around? Do you possess the desire, the commitment & have that competitive edge? Are you wasted in your current role? Finishing uni and still don’t know what you want to do? Do you think you can be the best but have never been given the chance due to lack of experience or lack of qualifications? Ever pointed your finger at the TV when the reality shows are on like Dragons Den and ‘The Apprentice’ and said ‘I could do better than that?’ Well here is your chance to not only put all that to the test, but to gain employment and development with a fantastic ‘real’ sales based business career at the end of it, with the Watford Academy. Over the next 6 weeks, Lee will be looking for top budding business professionals to become part of the Sales Academy for ‘Raw Talent’ and gaining employment for an employer of choice within the Watford area. They are looking for candidates to showcase their talent through a series of business tasks and will be holding an audition day on Friday 9 March 2012 in Watford. Think Britain’s Got Talent, X factor and The Apprentice as the top 40 candidate applications will be selected and invited to showcase their talent through a series of business tasks on the day. You will be assessed for not how well your CV reads or how many grades you have got, but on how you perform in teams, under pressure and in real life business and sales tasks. We are looking for top talent and giving YOU the opportunity to showcase what you can do no matter what your background is. This really is YOUR chance to shine above the rest! For more information visit


Senior management from First Capital Connect and Network Rail have been questioned about the performance of the Thameslink service by St Albans City and District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee at its last meeting. This was a follow-up meeting from an earlier one in June last year to monitor the progress of the rail companies implementation of their action plans to improve rail services. The Committee was particularly concerned about clear communications with the public when there are rail delays and the compensation policy as well as other issues that they raised at the previous meeting. At this latest meeting, the Committee heard a presentation from Neal Lawson, Managing Director, and Larry Heyman, Integration and Partnership manager, at First Capital Connect and Martin Frobisher, Route Managing Director, East Midlands from Network Rail, outlining a number of improvements the companies have made since last June. These include improvements to customer information; a change in approach to managing disruption, and upgrades to the electrification plant, track and signalling. At St Albans and Harpenden stations more ticket vending machines and new information screens have also been installed, platform lengths extended ahead of the 12-car trains that were introduced in December 2011 and there are also plans to introduce free cash point machines by the end of March. Planned future changes include an extra 20 parking spaces at Harpenden station, mobile phone texts to update customers on the service and a new style of customer service training for all staff. However, while the Committee noted the progress that had been made, including improvements to First Capital Connect’s communications with passengers during times of disruption, members expressed concerns about other issues such as parking charges and the clarity of the compensation policy for commuters when delays occur. Councillor Robert Donald, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee at the Council, said: “The Committee agreed that progress appeared to have been made from what was said by the companies at the meeting. The proof of the pudding will now be in commuters’ continued satisfaction with the services provided in the future. “However, we thought that there was still a need for further improvements in relation to customer communications, in particular around the communication of the compensation policy during times of exceptional disruption of over 60 minutes delay. At the moment commuters do not know what they are entitled to receive in such circumstances and this can be more transparent and consistent. We have asked the companies to return with a new customer policy to cover these circumstances. They have also been asked to report back on car parking charges at Harpenden and St Albans stations. It is reassuring that there is evidence of improvements being made after a number of similar issues were raised by this Committee last year. We look forward to these improvements now continuing.”


Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa has been named as one of the top luxury hotels in the UK in the 2012 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Hotel Awards. In the 10th annual awards the five-star hotel was ranked 18th out of the Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the United Kingdom, a list that included famous name hotels such as The Ritz, Gleneagles and Claridges. A Travellers’ Choice Award is the highest honour a hotel can receive from the TripAdvisor community. The awards are based on the reviews and opinions of more than 60 million travellers posted on the world’s largest travel website, including ratings for specific categories. Luton Hoo is owned by Elite Hotels, the independent UK-based hotel group. Since 1986 the group has invested in historic buildings and carefully restored them to their original splendour. Matthew Long, General Manager of Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa, said: “We are absolutely delighted at being voted one of the top 25 luxury hotels in the UK by TripAdvisor. These reviews are very important to us as they reflect the views of our guests, the people who are at the heart of everything we do. The award is a credit to the members of staff who constantly strive to meet and exceed guest expectations so I would like to congratulate them for all their efforts that have led to this award.”


HERTFORDSHIRE BUSINESS COMMUNITY CELEBRATES ARRIVAL OF THE CO-OPERATIVE BANK New corporate banking centre in St Albans focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-corporate businesses Leading figures from the Hertfordshire business community gathered last month to mark the official opening of The Co-operative Bank’s corporate banking centre in St Albans. Business executives attended an official event at Sopwell House Hotel in St Albans hosted by the centre’s senior corporate manager Richard Crook and colleagues. St Albans is the Bank’s 21st corporate centre in the UK and follows a doubling from 10 to 20 since 2006. The 22nd opens in Guildford later this month and will further enhance the Bank’s offering to business customers in the region. Based at Trident House in Victoria Street, the office provides support for corporate customers seeking finance for purposes such as acquisitions, business asset purchase or re-financing and working capital while providing a safe haven for deposits. It will offer small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized businesses a full range of banking services, including trading, current accounts, overdrafts, loans and deposits. Richard Crook said: “We were delighted to see the level of support and genuine enthusiasm displayed by the business community of St Albans and Hertfordshire for our new centre. “Customers can expect prompt and robust service from a truly dedicated team wanting to support local businesses in achieving their aims and goals. We’re already winning customers that see us as a compelling alternative to other banks and attracted to our approach of relationship managers who live and work locally. “We offer flexible banking relationships which focus on developing close, long-term partnerships with clients. Customers get a valued partner that helps them foresee issues which will affect their business, and help them prepare for challenges or opportunities that lie ahead.” Keith Alderson, managing director, corporate and business banking at The Co-operative Banking Group, said: “Despite the prolonged and ongoing period of economic uncertainty, we continue to expand our support for businesses. “As part of The Co-operative Group we’re also in the unique position of being able to offer business customers access to a broader range of services and expertise spanning sectors from legal services to pharmaceutical care.”

NEWS IN BRIEF DELOITTE ST ALBANS BUDGET EVENT 22 MARCH 2012 Deloitte are inviting our readers to their Budget Briefing which will be an immediate reaction to the Budget speech which takes place on Wednesday 21 March 2012. The speakers will highlight the changes in tax legislation proposed in the Chancellor’s speech and in the official press releases. They will also identify key issues of relevance as well as opportunities for you and your business to save money. For your invitation email You can also view the details on Deloitte’s dedicated budget website

RECRUITER EXPANDS INTO HATFIELD A recruitment agency is creating four jobs in Hatfield and opening a base in the town as part of an ambitious expansion of its specialist driving division. Gap Personnel, the UK’s eighth largest industrial labour provider, is creating a series of regional hubs across the UK in a multi-million pound boost to its Driving Force brand. The new dedicated hub serving London and the South East will be based on Hatfield Business Park, with four jobs due to be created at the base in the coming weeks and months.


The launch of ‘Inspire2Enterprise’, a new social enterprise support service, has been accompanied by a promise from its founders to tackle regional economic pressures by helping start -up and existing enterprises that want to benefit society. Inspire2Enterprise is a partnership between The University of Northampton and Exemplas, based in Hatfield. It offers social enterprises a free-to-access information, organisational review and advice service. Additional (chargeable) services include legal and financial advice, and research services (including market intelligence and support with tenders). The service - which is now live is currently covering Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Northamptonshire. Inspire2Enterprise will eventually roll out to provide cover nationally by June 2012. Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton, commented: “We want to improve the economic, social and cultural life of our region and as such have set ourselves the target of becoming the leading higher education institution in social enterprise by 2015. There has never been a greater need for this kind of support service given increasing pressures on public services in the current economic climate.” John Collier, Chief Executive of Exemplas, adds: “We are delighted to be working with The University of Northampton on this new initiative. We have great experience of supporting small and medium sized enterprises as well as delivering specialist support to the social enterprise sector. By collaborating with the University we can bring considerable knowledge and expertise to this rapidly growing sector.”

Sarah Pluves @SarahPluves Next Herts Therapy Network meet-up 27th March - topics include social media and goal setting. Book via website. @Addictd2Success Success favors the flexible. You must be able to stretch that extra mile & be maluable in your ways, know this & u will make it.- Joel Brown The CV Train @thecvtrain in-house #softskills #training - just £40 per delegate per day -#trainingmaterials tailored to your business objectives and #staffingneeds




Paul & Lesley @FSBGlosandWoE According to the FSB approximately 13.8m are employed by SMEs

ALL CHANGE PLEASE! It’s all change for KPMG in Hertfordshire. Following more than two decades in St Albans, the office is now relocating to larger, modern offices in Watford, and with a change of location, comes a change of leadership. Mike Coughtrey, who has been senior partner for KPMG’s operations in the region since 2007, is retiring and from 5 March the new senior partner for KPMG in the region will be Peter Selvey. We caught up with the new man in charge to find out what the future looks like for KPMG in Hertfordshire. Why are KPMG moving from St Albans to Watford? The office in Watford is a modern working environment, which has excellent transport links to London and the rest of the country. Our larger office will allow us to bring more staff to the region and expand the range of services that we have to offer our clients, particularly from our Management Consultancy practice. We’ve been in this region for a long time and we are committed to clients and businesses in Hertfordshire and North London and will continue to work with businesses there from our Watford base.

Why were you attracted to the role of Senior Partner for KPMG in London North? KPMG works with some very interesting clients here and the region is home to some hugely successful businesses, so it was always going to be an attractive role for someone. There was a degree of overlap in the Milton Keynes and Hertfordshire region so having spent a number of years working with businesses north of the region, I thought it would be an exciting challenge to come here. Mike Coughtrey always had a lot of good things to say about the clients that he works with and having had a look at the types of businesses that I could be working with, it was a really exciting prospect.

What would you say were the strengths of the region? I think the region has come through the recession and economic downturn in pretty good shape really. The region does have a great deal to feel confident about, as one of the most productive regions in the UK, housing key sectors including business services, pharmaceuticals, construction, technology and the creative cultural industries of film, media and tourism. Importantly, in the current conditions, enterprise performance is strong in Hertfordshire with high business start-up rates and a high number of businesses entering and leaving the market.

What skills and experience are you hoping to bring with you to your new role in the region? I’m lucky to be building on some very strong foundations that Mike Coughtrey has laid down, with an impressive client list and a very strong local team. I have been at KPMG for over twenty years and have spent time working not just in the UK, but also in the United States, Australia and Pakistan, so I’m hoping to be able to introduce an international dimension to the office. I am an auditor by training and am lucky to have worked with a range of businesses, from listed companies and multinational groups, to smaller privately owned companies across a range of sectors, so I think my experience and skills match the businesses in this region.

What would your top tips for local businesses be as we continue through a year of low economic growth? Staying on top of costs will continue to be a major priority for all businesses for the foreseeable future. Despite many businesses feeling that they managed down their cost base as far and as fast as they could during the recession, slow economic growth means businesses need to look seriously at long term sustainable ways to reduce costs, in order to move to a more flexible, predictable cost base. Making sure that you are on top of all of the various business reliefs that are available is also important, and could provide a much needed cash injection for your business. Pay particular attention to areas like research and development which currently

have generous reliefs for a host of activities that fall under this umbrella.

After a few years of battening down the hatches and surviving recession, there are signs that business confidence is improving... Think about growth! After a few years of battening down the hatches and surviving recession, there are signs that business confidence is improving and is in recovery mode. Consider areas such as transactions, new product development and expanding to new markets, particularly the emerging markets which offers many opportunities for goods and services from the West.

What do you think the future holds for KPMG in Hertfordshire? The office move will be a really positive thing for our staff and our clients. We’re very excited about growing our business here and enhancing the services that we have on offer to local businesses. The move from St Albans to Watford will be taking place in April 2012

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AS LONG AS THE PRICE IS RIGHT We are seeing an increasing number of disputes between shareholders in private limited companies. These arise for a number of reasons. At the heart though of each dispute lies the question of the value of the aggrieved shareholder’s shares. Most aggrieved shareholders in a dispute or potential dispute scenario with other shareholders would exit the company and sell their shares “as long as the price is right”. Typically, legal remedies to resolve shareholder disputes are lengthy and costly. Classic scenarios are:1. Two shareholders each own 50 per cent of the company; they are both directors – so the company is effectively deadlocked. If one shareholder will not buy out the other, then the only legal remedy effectively is to put the company into liquidation, via a Petition in the Companies Court on the “just and equitable” ground. (This can apply even if the company is solvent). The Court will, in normal circumstances, make an Order, putting the company into liquidation unless there has been a reasonable offer by one shareholder to purchase the other’s shares.

a mechanism that needs to be observed carefully. Pre-emption rights mean that a shareholder who wishes to sell or transfer his or her shares must first offer them to the existing shareholders. Pre-emption rights have provisions in them which state how the value of the shareholding is to be determined. You also need to consider if there has been a Shareholders Agreement put in place at the time when the shareholders first set up the company or went into business together. In our experience these are few and far between, which is unfortunate because a well drafted Shareholders Agreement can provide an exit route for any shareholder who wishes to leave.

2. The aggrieved shareholder is a minority shareholder (or at least is not in control of the company) and those who are in control or the majority shareholders are running the affairs of the company in such a way that amounts to “unfair prejudice” on the minority shareholder. Legal action can be taken by the aggrieved minority shareholder to try and redress the position.

Using Shareholders Agreements, or well drafted Articles of Association, can often save the parties a huge amount of time and costs by not having to resort to legal action. It is also worth bearing in mind one or two other points which are really administrative formalities in relation to the company and its finances.

However, in both scenarios above, the usual Order the Court makes is to order the exiting shareholder’s shares to be purchased either by the company or the other remaining shareholders. It is, if you like, the Court simply making an Order that imposes a “clean break” on the shareholders in the company.

• Make sure the actual statutory and legal formalities about the formation of the company and (very importantly) the issuing of the shares to the shareholders is actually undertaken. You would not want to launch a legal claim as an aggrieved or minority shareholder only to find that you could not actually produce a Share Certificate which you think gives you the ownership of the shares in the company. Quite often start up or fledgling businesses that then become successful (before any disputes arise) are set up without necessarily observing these formalities.

As a result, lengthy, stressful, time consuming and expensive litigation can follow simply to achieve what the parties ought, you would think, to be able to do themselves (i.e. agree who is to exit the company and on what terms, i.e. the price). Therefore, reaching an agreement determining the “right price,” can sometimes be the most difficult part of these disputes.

Using Shareholders Agreements, or well drafted Articles of Association, can often save the parties a huge amount of time and costs by not having to resort to legal action.

If a shareholder really has little or no idea about the value of the company or, indeed, the value of a shareholding (even a minority shareholding) the usual course of action is to take advice from an accountant who has experience of valuing shares in private limited companies. There are different basis for valuing shares in private limited companies depending on the company’s business/industry sector. Typically a company that does not trade but just holds assets (e.g. a property company) is valued in relation to its property portfolio/net assets; on the other hand, a company that has little tangible assets (e.g. an IT company) would be valued in a different way. What is key though is going through a process to determine “the right price” for the company as a whole and then the respective shareholdings. Once the “right price” has been established, or at least a range of values for the shareholding, then sensible and serious negotiations can begin. Hopefully those negotiations lead to one shareholder saying to the other(s): “So long as the price is right” I will sell you my shares. Matters can become slightly more involved where the company’s Articles of Association may have pre-emption rights: effectively,

These are:-

• Finances and accounting matters – again, sometimes at the outset, documenting important financial matters such as investment in the company is overlooked. If you, or others, are putting money into a company, what is the exact basis on which you are doing so? Is it as share capital, loan capital or a loan to the company? Each of these has a different legal characteristic and the consequences of paying money into a company as subscription monies for shares is completely different to lending the company money so it can purchase equipment, etc. These quite simple and basic matters (often dealt with in haste when the shareholders and business partners are more intent on getting on with the business and kick starting it to make their respective fortunes) get overlooked. In the event of a dispute, there can be a mis-match of expectations between shareholders as to the basis on which some, or all of them put money into the company and where there is ambiguity or a mis-match of expectations, litigation often arises. So, if you want to achieve the right price for your investment in any situation where you wish to exit the company, or acquire the shares of another shareholder who wishes to leave, do make sure that the initial formalities are observed. Andrew Knight is Head of Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution at Taylor Walton LLP, which has offices in Luton, Harpenden and St Albans and provides effective legal solutions to businesses and individuals across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and the South East. If you would like any further information about shareholder disputes or your rights as a shareholder or litigation as a shareholder Andrew can be contacted on tel. 01582 731161 or email


GILLIAN HARDING, HRJ LAW LLP Goodwill is a vital asset for most businesses and has become increasingly important through the growth of the internet. Virtual businesses often have few assets other than their goodwill and businesses selling goods and services through the internet have a wider geographical market than traditional businesses, whilst facing wider competition. Much of a business’s goodwill lies in it’s name and/or logo and registration of a trademark can provide much needed reassurance that damage by third parties can be prevented or, in the worst case, stopped and compensated for because it’s easier to demonstrate infringement of a registered trademark than an unregistered one.

Whilst guidance is available online, if you are applying to register a trademark remember:•

If you want to protect your business’s name, as well as it’s logo, it’s best to apply to register the text itself and the logo incorporating the text. If you just register a logo incorporating the name, the name itself will remain an unregistered trademark, which limits your protection

Check the list of classes you are registering against carefully and read the IPO’s guidance before choosing the classes you are registering against. The trademark will only give you protection within the class it’s registered against

If you are starting up a new business, check for your proposed name at Companies House and check that the domain relating to it isn’t already taken. Being able to register a trademark doesn’t give you unlimited rights to use the words in question

Quality servic advice you ca

If you are trading outside the UK, you may want to protect your brand elsewhere. You can apply for a Community Trademark (protection in the EU) or an International trademark (far wider protection, including the USA and EU).

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For advice on Intellectual Property Rights, contact Gillian Hard- • Comm ing at our Hitchin office on 01462 62888 or gillian.harding@hrjlaw. • Prope • All asp

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Whilst we would advise businesses to continue taking advice from a patent agent before registering a patent or design right, the process for registration of trademarks is relatively simple. The Intellectual Property Office ( enables applicants to register through its website (or, by downloading forms) and gives detailed guidance on making an application, along with a helpful FAQ section. Many applicants will find that they are now able to make the application without professional advice or, with minimal advice.

OFF THE QUIFF Award winning Entrepreneur and celebrity hairstylist Nicky Clarke is famous for his hairdressing empire and his salons are regarded amongst the best in the world. A true British icon, we spoke to Nicky about everything, from his multi-million pound business to his charity work.

Hi Nicky! Thanks so much for talking to us today… Let’s start at the beginning, what was your first big break into the industry? My career started back in 1974 when I started working at a salon called Leonard’s. It employed hairdressers such as John Frieda who I ended up setting up business with in 1976. We opened a salon and decided to offer something totally unique, something which was totally unheard of. We started to offer a celebrity service. It all went from there. I got my first styling job at Vogue and we split our time between editorial shoots and salon clients which in itself was pretty unique. It was rare to be involved with the two jobs together – this was where we spotted an opportunity to bring a celebrity hairstyle to the general public. Frieda and I ended up working together for 16 years altogether, but I set up on my own in 1990 and opened my own salon in 1991. Frieda and I introduced the concept of enjoying a celebrity experience as there were very few others like us around like him at the time. At that time, there were good hairdressers out there but they just weren’t available. So what we gave them was a celebrity experience.

I understand your son Harrison is now working in management. What are the perks and downsides of working with family? It is great having him on board because it is just so assuring to know that we have him on side. He was working with us before as a junior, but he decided that he wasn’t very interested in the hairdressing side of things and took to learning about the business aspect. He went off to a University in Leeds to study the subject but he did try his hand at other things before returning to us. He now uses some of his experience to help with our marketing and our website. There are so many perks of having him on board with us, but I suppose the only downside is that he is often up in the office while I am out on the main floor, so I don’t get to see him that often.

It has been reported that the Nicky Clarke brand is worth in excess of £50m. What lessons have you learnt in generating such a successful brand and also any mistakes/regrets along the way? I try not to have any regrets. I could list a load of them, but that is always the benefit of hind sight. I’d rather think of our success and achievement which by far out-weighed any regrets. We did achieve a whole number of firsts – first designer hair brand in supermarket was something that I am most proud of. We made people really understand about our industry.

So what’s been happening inside the Nicky Clarke ‘empire’ recently? We’ve seen you’ve had a few new product launches in recent months, all very exciting! We are working on the most things at the moment and there is certainly a lot out there which is keeping us busy. Make-up

ranges and the electrical ranges are the most popular at the moment. Up until three years ago we had a totally different concept going on and now we have actually removed some of our products from the shelves of the supermarkets. This was because there are now so many different products available that the public just weren’t aware of how to use them. They were not mainstream enough. Obviously, shampoos, mousses and hairspray there is a demand for but other things are a little harder to sell and when you have to offer supermarkets products in bulk, this wasn’t making a lot of sense in terms of our profits.

There’s been lots of press coverage around youth unemployment. Do you provide any pathways for young people to break into hairdressing? Yes, absolutely. Hairdressing has a very mixed perception but for me it is the greatest job in the world. You have a relatively instant creativity, as well as the ability to improve someone’s life and the way they feel. It has a huge importance, especially these days when people seem to be lower in their emotions. We do offer a lot in the way of apprenticeships and we do take school leavers. I find that it works out for me as well because then I can mould them into what I need them to be. We can help people that need a ‘leg up’.

You also received your OBE in 2008 for 30 years of service to the styling industry. What was it like to head to Buckingham Palace and meet the Queen? It was surreal. In fact it was funny because letters that come in for me often have to be sorted because we receive hundreds and they quite often get lost in transit. Then this letter appeared from Downing Street, and you only get two weeks to reply back to the letter before the opportunity passes, so it was very lucky that it reached me. I have been to the Palace a few times, but never met the Queen, so on the day I was so nervous. I had a surprise waiting for me though, as I found out from my sister just before that my father, who sadly passed away, received the military equivalent of the OBE. It turned out that nobody in the family knew about it so it was lovely to find that out and it lent me lots of support emotionally on the day.

I notice you have been involved in several charity initiatives over the years. Are there any that are particularly close to your heart? Hair Raising is the biggest one we have done this year. It is something that I work on with Great Ormond Street Hospital and this year my brother got involved too and helped 200 celebrities attend the event to help raise £1 million. Another charity which I work a lot with is Fight for Life - a children’s cancer charity. Gary Linekar is one of the hosts for the charity and recently they held their 15th Walkers charity golf day at The Grove in Hertfordshire.

What is your motto? The harder you try the luckier you are.



Hairdressing has a very mixed perception but for me it is the greatest job in the world. You have a relatively instant creativity, as well as the ability to improve someone’s life and the way they feel.

WRITING A WILL Free Wills Month (1-30 March) brings together a group of well respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple Wills written, or updated, free of charge by using participating solicitors in selected locations around England and Wales. We take a look at what’s involved in writing a will and why it is relevant whatever your age or personal circumstances are.


Having a will in place is vital if you don’t want your affairs to be left in limbo for years after your death. If you have family, friends, pets, a business or have personal wishes you want to be followed, you cannot assume that they will be executed simply because ‘it is what he/she would have wanted’. Whatever your age or personal circumstances, you need to consider writing a will to ensure things are dealt with in the way you want if you unexpectedly died, or became incapacitated.


It’s never a nice thing to think about, but you need to think about how much worse things could be if your arrangements aren’t in order. There are a number of reasons* to write a will, but the most pressing include: •


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If you have children – you formally need to state who you wish to look after any children or step children under 18 years of age If you are in a relationship but not married - your partner will not legally be entitled to anything unless you have specified so in your will. If you are divorced – you will need to state what you wish to happen if you previous partner remarries If you have pets – you will need to state what you wish to happen to them If you have specific wishes for your funeral – It can be hard for the family to know exactly what their loved one would have wanted, so this gives you an opportunity to tell them what you want it to be like If you have property – You need to state what you wish to happen to your property If your circumstances have recently changed – You need to update your will every time something significant happens in your life such as getting married, divorced, or you have children etc If you own a business – If you are a business with a sole director and you die without executors, no one can make decisions to authorise payments, so the business could collapse. *


Members of the public aged 55 and over can contact one of the firms of solicitors taking part in a Free Wills Month campaign at some time during the designated month to request an appointment. The solicitor will help to draw up a Will that accurately reflects the wishes of the individual or couple. Those taking up the offer are under no obligation to leave a gift to one of the Free Wills Month charities, however, the campaigners earnestly hope that many will see this as a chance to help their favourite cause. Having drawn up a Will the solicitor will ask for a confidential declaration form to be completed which will then be forwarded to the campaigners with an invoice for the agreed fee.


The charities supporting Free Wills Month work for a variety of causes. Their vital services protect and enrich the day to day lives of many thousands, if not millions of people everyday. Most UK charities depend on legacies for up to half their income - by taking part in a Free Wills Month campaign you could help one or more worthy causes.


This campaign will cover the writing of ‘simple’ Wills only. If your Will needs some more work, the solicitor may ask you to pay the balance yourself, however, most people only require simple Wills.


Individuals or couples aged 55 and over. In the case of couples making ‘mirror’ Wills, it is sufficient that one has reached the age of 55.


Free Wills Month takes place during March 2012 in specific cities and towns within the UK each year. Notification of the areas covered by the campaign is provided through this website 2 to 3 weeks prior to each campaign. You can find out more information at

LOCAL FUNERAL DIRECTOR SCOOPS INTERNATIONAL AWARD Claire Austin, managing director of Austin’s Funeral Directors, has won a coveted international award at a prestigious ceremony in Mexico. Claire, who is the tenth generation of her family to run Austin’s, picked up the NextGen Professional of the Year Award in recognition of her achievements as head of the 300 year old firm. Organised by Selected Independent Funeral Homes (SIFH) – a worldwide professional association of independent, locally-owned funeral homes – Claire was presented with the award at the organisation’s annual conference in Los Cabos, Mexico. Designed to recognise career achievements, involvement in the community and personal achievements of funeral professionals under the age of 50, the judges were impressed by Claire’s strong leadership and vision for the firm’s future. “I am especially impressed by the tremendous responsibility Claire took on at an early age and the manner with which she identified and executed improvements in virtually every aspect of the firm,” commented one of the judges. They were also impressed by her work within the wider profession and the local community. In addition to her role at Austin’s, Claire, 46, is an active member of the National Association of Funeral Directors, was president of the London Association of Funeral Directors and is also heavily involved in Austin’s Charitable Fund. She has also been a major fundraiser for Keech Children’s Hospice. Speaking on her return from Mexico, Claire said: “It’s wonderful to be recognised and I was genuinely thrilled to receive this award but as is the case in all personal awards, they can rarely be achieved without the support of a great many people. I would like to thank all 43 members of our staff for the wonderful service they give to Austin’s and bereaved families within our community.” The award is the third to be won by Austin’s in the past few months; in November the company won Most Successful Medium Business category at the Hertfordshire Business Awards and in October Austin’s won the Service Excellence category at the East of England Business Champions Awards.

Personal, caring and independent. The complete funeral service 2244 hhour our service ser vice • P Private rivate C Chapels hapels of of Rest Rest •M Memorial emorial SStonemasons tonemasons • FFuneral unneral P Plans lans •O Own wn C Crematorium rematorium

Serving the local community for ten generations

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WELWYN GARDEN CITY • 01707 390018 WELWYN • 01438 714686 HERTFORD • 01992 582052 WARE • 01920 468551


ABSENCE MANAGEMENT TRAINING WORKS 64 PER CENT IMPROVEMENT RATE The end of last year’s statistics show that the North East region had the highest sickness rate at 4.39 per cent, followed by the North West at 4.33 per cent and Yorkshire and the Humber at 4.28 per cent. London however, had the lowest rate at 3.46 per cent and South Central at 3.60 per cent had the next lowest rate. The East of England, London, South Central, North East, South West saw a rise in their absence rates based on the same period the year before (2010) e. Many of us throughout the UK take the odd ‘sicky’ day from work, but there are many issues that could be the cause. The job of the employer is to investigate whether their employee is genuinely sick or whether there is an underlying factor. Everybody gets sick from time to time, which cannot be helped, however, it’s when a person takes a couple of random days off each month, when there is an obvious problem that needs to be resolved. According to the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) employee absence is a substantial cost to a business. There are many reasons why people throughout the UK take time off work, such as, unauthorised absence or continual lateness, authorised absence, such as, annual leave, care for dependents, compassionate leave, maternity, paternity or educational leave. With effective absence management however, it enables an employer to find out what the reason is as to why an employee is absent. It is vital that employers should recognise when an employee is unwell and takes the day off work. If it is a longer period of absence then keeping in contact with the employee is a massive factor in encouraging them to return to work. By doing this in a sensitive way, it will prove to the employee that they are valued as part of the organisation. A back to work interview is always important to get people back up to speed with what has been going on, but additionally it means that the employee can raise any remaining issues that they would like addressing, these may be health, internal or external issues.

St ALBANS SCHOOL HMC Day School 820 pupils Headmaster: Andrew Grant MA

ENTRY FOR BOYS at 11 and 13 ENTRY FOR BOYS and GIRLS at 16+

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• 94% A* to B at A level • 87% A* and A at GCSE • Coach services at 4pm and 6pm • Finest games facilities in the county • Extensive extra-curricular activities • Bursaries and Scholarships (up to 100%) awarded at each entry level • Easy reach by train from London, West Hampstead, Luton and Bedford Open Morning 12 May Contact the Admissions Officer for details




Admissions Officer, St Albans School, Abbey Gateway, St Albans, Herts AL3 4HB Telephone : 01727 855521 email:

The CIPD says that an employer should find, “a balance between providing support to help employees with health problems, stay in and return to work and taking consistent and firm action against employees who try to take advantage of organisations’ occupational sick pay schemes.”

New research found by XpertHR indicates that absence management training does in fact work. The research showed that those businesses who invested time in their managers, training them on attendance actually experience a 64 per cent improvement rate.

New research found by XpertHR indicates that absence management training does in fact work. The research showed that those businesses who invested time in their managers, training them on attendance actually experience a 64 per cent improvement rate. XpertHR said: “apparently the training not only provided managers with knowledge, but also the confidence to tackle employee sickness and nonattendance issues.” Leadership expert Judith Germain, from Dynamic Transitions, believes absence is often a sign of internal issues: “Within companies we need to encourage Maverick tendencies and be very aware of Maverick personalities. Mavericks are really the ones that can help turn around businesses. They make up 20 per cent of the talent pool and know what is going on whilst being very good at what they do. Unfortunately led incorrectly, Mavericks can cause 80 per cent of the problems.” If employees are managed in the correct way it should ultimately eliminate problems within the workplace and should decrease absence rates.

Gain new skills and improve your job prospects



Training courses starting soon The Goldsmith Centre for Business offers a range of Human Resources and personnel management training accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), along with leadership and management courses are accredited by the Institute of Learning and Management (ILM). We also offer health and safety short courses which ensure safe working practices and raise awareness of the need for risk assessment. These courses include essential basics through to the qualifications which many industries now demand for their staff.

HR & People Management CIPD Foundation Certificate in Human Resource Practice Start date: 22nd March 2012 Duration: 24 weeks

Health and Safety NEBOSH General Certificate Occupational Health and Safety Start date: 9th March 2012 Duration: 12 weeks

CIPD Foundation Certificate in Learning and Development Practice Start date: 22nd March 2012 Duration: 24 weeks

IOSH Managing Safely Start date: 2nd March 2012 Duration: 4 weeks

ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring in Management Start date: 13th June 2012 Duration: 5 weeks,

Please visit for more information Change the way you do business

ILM Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management Start date: 21st March 2012 Duration: 24 weeks


Leadership and Management ILM Level 7 Certificate in Executive Coaching and Leadership Mentoring Start date: 17th April 2012 Duration: 7 Weeks



This month marks the six month anniversary since the death true legacy.

STEVE JOBS : SIX MONTH Just six months after the person that was said to have changed the world tragically died, his ‘Apple’ legacy is stronger than ever. Apple reports their highest revenue and earnings ever for the last quarter, reaching a whopping $46.33 billion and massive net profit of $13.06. With these results compared to the year-ago quarters of $26.74 b and net profit of $6 billion, it is apparent how much the Apple brand has increased its popularity once again in the small space of just a year. It was always a worry when Steve Jobs sadly passed away last year that nobody could take the reins and take control of his company and nurture it like he did. However, Mr Jobs had trust in Tim Cook and he has continued to grow the company. On the 19 January this year, Apple announced iBooks 2 for iPad, featuring iBooks textbooks, which is a completely new textbook that offers users of the iPad full-screen textbooks with interactive photos, diagrams, videos and animations. Tim Cook was handed one of the biggest responsibilities ever to be seen. A company, a legacy created through pure vision, creativity and innovation in his parents’ garage. He had very large shoes to fill as Jobs was considered one of the greatest CEOs in history. Both Jobs and Cook shared the same traits however, attention to detail, a demand for perfection and a hard attitude towards negotiating. Therefore, leading in Jobs’ footsteps was less daunting as the underlying factors of how Jobs wanted his company to be run and developed were there. They had the same beliefs in how a company should be run.

WHAT NEW PRESSURES WILL A NEW CEO HAVE TO DEAL WITH? Probably the biggest challenge when moving into the role of CEO, is understanding just how critical the role is to driving forward the right culture, vision and values of the organisation. The CEO role is one of leadership and each person who takes on the role has to impart their own stamp and personality to be successful. There will be immense pressure on them to uphold the vision and direction of the organisation as the previous CEO did, and to inspire the organisation’s workforce in a way that drives the business towards it goals.

The cultural effects of a change in leadership can be massive and potentially damaging if not managed effectively... As with any major organisational change, the introduction of a new CEO will always create a certain amount of nervousness, and there is likely to be some conflict and internal chatter as people within the organisation wonder what the future of the organisation will be like under this new ‘leader’. The cultural effects of a change in leadership can be massive and potentially damaging if not managed effectively, as organisational performance and employee engagement are known to be inextricably linked to the quality of leadership and the type of direction coming from the top. This is why a well thought out and executed communication strategy is absolutely critical to maintaining stability within the organisation whenever there is a period of major change. Additionally, a CEO is much more visible and is required to be vocal, opinionated and be the ‘face’ of the organisation, both to employees, the general public and of course, the board. A CEO has to embrace not only new and heightened leadership skills, but understand how to communicate and express themselves in ways that deliver the outcome they want/ need in order to deliver the corporate strategy. The most important element will be building trust. As the new CEO, they will need to demonstrate to the staff that they are able to keep the organisation on the same path toward the vision and goals the employees bought into under the old CEOs leadership. Everyone’s willingness to follow will determine the viability of the transition into the CEO and leadership role over and above just bearing the title. Chris Beswick


h of Steve Jobs so here at HBI we thought we’d take a look into the trials and tribulations of taking over from a

HS ON… HIS LEGACY IS STRONGER THAN EVER There are many tips for how to be a fantastic CEO. Firstly you should never overschedule yourself as unstructured time means that creative people can get into their zone and produce something imaginary. You should always do something that you love, as if you enjoy the work that you are doing, you will see the results. In the words of Steve Jobs:

The only way to do great work is to do what you love. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. One of the best ways to be a successful CEO is to manage by walking around, i.e. always try and talk to people one on one, answering their questions and reiterating your strategy constantly. CEO of Spotify Daniel Ek, suggests: “Figure out what the top five most important things are, focus relentlessly on that and keep iterating. Less is more.” This is pretty much common sense; however, there are many other factors that constitute to a great CEO of a company. Within any company, it is extremely important to do as much communicating with your clients, customers, colleagues and, or employees as possible, as if communication is purely by ‘typing’ away to each other, the personal factor is lost. If this is lost, then the integrity and loyalty of lasting relationships can be in jeopardy. Every effective CEO and every prosperous business is built through strong, honest and trusting relationships with people. Also, to have a company that is truly distinguished, it is imperative that the person(s) in charge of the company’s progression has his/hers own ideas. Jobs once said:

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

CHOOSING WHO IS RIGHT FOR THE ROLE It is not common for a chairman to step into the CEO’s role as, usually, they stay at arms length. More often, it is the directors who end up ‘stepping up’ in order to cover the gap. They also may appoint an interim CEO.

The main challenges for a chairman moving into this role will be around managing differences in communication style and understanding how the CEO ‘did things,’ but also politics play a huge part – with directors trying to position themselves as the top dog with the chairman. This can be difficult to manage without external support/guidance. Dean Williams Executive Coach – DWEC



The main challenges for a chairman moving into this role will be around managing differences in communication style...


INVESTMENT OPTIONS EXPLAINED March marks National Investment Advice Month and so we caught up with personal finance expert Paul Steel, to find out more about the variety of investment options available and how to find out how to choose the best options. Bonds, pensions, ISA, Unit Trusts and OEICs are all vehicles to carry your funds to their destination, containers moulded by man and legislation in which to hold your chosen investments. Which vehicles are most appropriate for your investments to travel in will be decided during discussions with your Adviser. I want to look more deeply at what is held within them and why, to give you a greater understanding of differing investment philosophies and the reasons behind them.


I am a great believer that you should never invest in something that you don’t understand. Investment is a simple subject that has been made hideously complex by so-called experts, that are forever developing new ideas to tempt investors. I take a very simple view on every investment proposition that is put to me: ‘Would my mum understand this?’ Unless the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’ I am not interested. The financial disasters that engulfed the world in 2008 demonstrated once again the dangers of entering into things that are unnecessarily complex and difficult, if not impossible, to understand. We still do not know, despite employing some of the finest minds on the planet, the full extent of the trillions of pounds worth of toxic debt, credit default swaps and other exotic beasts that were designed purely to keep moving the same £1 around the system with everyone taking a penny as it passed them by. There has been a belated realization that economics is not after all a science, but more of an art, sometimes a very black one, that can apply mathematical models to prove virtually anything.


Asset allocation theory is repeatedly proving to be the only sound set of investment principals that have been proven to work over the long term. It has been developed around the theories of Professor Harry Markowitz who won the Nobel Prize for his treatise on investment, the award-winning ‘Modern Portfolio Theory’.


Modern Portfolio Theory works on the understanding that successful investing is 90 per cent asset allocation and 10 per cent investment choice. Modern Portfolio Theory works on the understanding that successful investing is 90 per cent asset allocation and 10 per cent investment choice. Too many people focus solely on investment choice, when asset allocation has repeatedly demonstrated to be the prime cause in successful long-term investing. It does not attempt to time the markets, so is not affected by short-term fluctuations in investments. The model develops a portfolio, based upon sound asset allocation rules, and then invests to meet the allocation requirements appropriate to your timeframe and attitude to investment risk.


The landmark study, ‘Determinants of Portfolio Performance’ (Financial Analysts Journal 1986) showed that over 90 per cent of investment performance is derived from asset allocation, not market timing or stock selection. Asset allocation will vary between investors, but will primarily be decided by three factors: 1. The length of the investment term 2. Investment goals and objectives 3. Attitude to risk.

There are numerous variables and assumptions made which means that different software can arrive at different results for the same individual, but one thing research repeatedly demonstrates is that asset allocation should form the cornerstone of your investment strategy.


Once established, it is vital to ensure your asset allocation does not become skewed and in doing so becomes inappropriate for your financial objectives in terms of risk/reward. As your investments grow, those in the higher risk area will usually start to outperform the medium and low-risk areas over the longer term. This will have the effect of putting the portfolio out of balance, as you could have a larger proportion of your investment in higher risk than may be appropriate for your correct asset allocation and attitude to risk. It is vitally important that you reallocate investments to move back into balance. Rebalancing therefore must be an integral part of any investment proposition you wish to consider. Paul Steel is a Chartered and ISO Certified Financial Planner and works as an Adviser and Director of Estate Matters Financial Limited. He is also the author of ‘Pension Matters’.

DOING THINGS THE ASHBOURNE WAY! Here at The Hertfordshire Business Independent, we are always on the hunt for people in the County who would like to contribute to our Local Executive Profile. This month, we spoke to Sarah Smits of Ashbourne Insurance who recently took over the reins of the company where she now operates as Finance Director. It has been quite a year for Ashbourne Insurance. Not only were they nominated for three business awards, but they celebrated their 30-year anniversary in style with a charity fundraising extravaganza. Tell us a little bit more about the company

Talk us through the vision for “The Ashbourne Way”

Ashbourne Insurance was founded in 1981 by my mother and father, Richard and Brenda Hunt, as a traditional high street broker. We continue to run the business with a very personal approach and have been serving the local Hertfordshire community for more than three decades. Our customers come to us because we offer an excellent standard of personal customer service either over the phone or face-to-face at our retail offices in Cheshunt and Hoddesdon. We are privileged to provide insurance services to over 4,000 businesses and residents. I began working full time with the company in 1992 after leaving city banking, and spent the next few years learning every aspect of the job. The idea of running a family business was really important to me and it was also an ideal opportunity to achieve a better quality of family and work life balance.

Customer service has always been a priority at Ashbourne, but since 2008 a new generation of family members have been running the business and we are focusing our efforts on firstclass training and development of our staff which in turn offers our customers an excellent experience and service. We have a very clear vision of how we want our business to be and we have developed “The Ashbourne Way” – a mission statement and set of core values detailing the service our customers can expect. Every staff member from administration and finance to sales and management conducts all of their business in accordance with “The Ashbourne Way”. We have dedicated a page to this commitment on our website for all to know what can be expected.

What makes Ashbourne unique?

Is there anything you do to ensure that your prices remain competitive?

What were some of the greatest achievements for Ashbourne in the last year or so? Last year we were nominated in three categories at the prestigious Hertfordshire Business Awards. Ashbourne as a business was a finalist in two of the categories – “Training and Development” and “Most Successful Small Business”, and I was also nominated as a finalist in the “Business Person of the Year Award”. It means a great deal to me personally, and also to our staff and our customers to have our achievements recognised publically in this way. These accolades have raised our profile even further and we are planning to enter more business awards in 2012!

I notice you celebrated your 30th anniversary with an event. Tell us a little bit more about your celebrations. We held a fundraising anniversary extravaganza at the Marriott Hotel in Cheshunt for our loyal customers and raised funds for our chosen charity, the Willow Foundation. It is a Hertfordshire based charity, founded by Bob Wilson OBE and his wife Megs, that organises and funds very special, morale boosting days out for 16 to 40 year olds with life threatening illnesses. Ashbourne directors and staff were inspired by the stories of seriously ill people who get such comfort, respite and joy from being able to make a dream come true – and for many this is their last chance of a special day out. We’ve successfully raised £8,500 for the charity and we hope to arrange a similar event for next year as our Hoddesdon office turns 20!

We have excellent relationships and exclusive deals with over 50 different insurance companies for Hertfordshire based businesses and residents. These relationships have been built over the past 30 years and ensure that Ashbourne achieve competitive premiums with the best possible cover across the range of insurances that we offer. We are highly regarded in our industry and feature in our trade press media as the voice of the independent broker. This enhanced profile combined with the strong relationships with insurers means we are ideally placed to remain competitive.

How do you tend to shout about your business? Business networking is definitely one of the many ways that we promote our business and we have definitely seen the benefits in building strong relationships in this way and asking people to “give us a try”. You will regularly find a third of our staff attending networking events in the area. It is personally a very important way of connecting with other local businesses and explaining how important the personal service we offer is – we are a ‘people’ company so this is a great platform to promote our service. Ashbourne embraces all forms of marketing and promotion from the printed newsletters that we distribute, sponsorship of business EXPOs, strategic alliances with sports clubs, and targeted advertising; to ongoing PR with the charity fundraising and most recently our active involvement in promoting Ashbourne in social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

As a small business what piece of advice would you give anyone wanting to start up in a crowded market place? Find your niche market and make sure you are different from everyone else out there! As well as this, make sure you hire good staff and keep networking! For more information about Ashbourne Insurance visit


As an independent broker, Ashbourne are able to search all the leading insurers, not just a few, to get cover tailored to our customers’ specific needs at a price to suit their budget. In addition, our company’s core values – caring, forward thinking and treating people as individuals, differentiates it from other brokers. Our strapline is “Insurance as individual as you!” Typical customers include estate agents, car dealers, taxi firms and manufacturing businesses, together with a large number of private customers who need home, car and other personal insurances. Ashbourne also have negotiated special deals for local postcodes and unique policies designed to cover special interest groups such as football clubs. We do not operate call centres, you can speak to whom you want, when you want and we work with customers for the duration of the life of their policy. Ashbourne also offers a 24 hour claims advisory service and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.


‘TAKE THE LEAP’ This month marks ‘No Smoking Day’ across the country and on 14 March it is estimated that over one million smokers are expected to attempt to kick the habit. The day has developed into the UK’s leading public health event and in the last 25 years, it has helped over a million smokers to stop permanently. ‘No Smoking Day’, was established on Ash Wednesday in 1984 as a national event and has positively progressed over the last quarter of a century. The day gained ‘charity’ status in 1991 and last year joined with the British Heart Foundation, who offers year-round resources to help those who would like to quit for good. Their online community forum for example hosts around 36,000 quitters and offers advice for smokers. Chief Executive Amit Aggarwal of No Smoking Day has said: “No Smoking Day is one of the UK’s longest standing and most successful public health campaigns. But, like many charities we’ve been severely hit by public sector cuts. Fortunately, we’ve found a stable, long-term future for No Smoking Day with BHF.” It is well known that most smokers would like to quit, in actual fact, research suggests that three out of four smokers want to beat the habit, however, they either think it’s not the right time, or just generally find it hard to. Even though giving up is hard, 2012 marks the year for smokers to ‘take the leap’ to a smoke-free future. With the Olympics in London this year, it is the perfect time for people to think about their physical health and try and beat the urge to light up. Anybody can get involved this year by running your own campaign, or simply cutting those cigarettes in half! Schools and surgeries are just a couple of the thousands of organisations throughout the UK that No Smoking Day supports in hosting their own event to help people quit smoking.

... 2012 marks the year for smokers to ‘take the leap’ to a smoke-free future.

Director of Policy and Communications at the BHF Betty McBride, commented regarding their merge with the day: “By joining forces we can enhance the No Smoking Day campaign and extend its reach – helping more people to quit – as well as strengthening our policy and lobbying work. For both organisations, the opportunities posed by this merger were too good to miss.” In the UK alone there are over nine million adult smokers which work out at around one in five. Therefore, the No Smoking Day charity is technically responsible for 250,000 people looking to quit every year.


Anti-tobacco campaigner Duncan Bannatyne OBE is the president of No Smoking Day. He supports the campaign by being a celebrity spokesperson trying to encourage other celebrities alike as well as the public to take part. Bannatyne himself has vowed that if he ever finds his children smoking, he will suspend their trust fund: “My views on smoking are well known. I feel that No Smoking Day is the perfect vehicle to push the smoke-free message in a non-judgemental way – I’m proud to be a supporter.” There are so many reasons to stop smoking and you do not have to wait for a long time for the benefits to start if you quit. Just twenty minutes after stopping, a person’s pulse and blood pressure returns to normality and another four hours on from that, carbon monoxide will be eliminated from a person’s body and their lungs will be clearer from tar. Not only are these major reasons why quitting smoking should be a must, there are more benefits, such as, premature ageing will be avoided, a person’s taste buds will return to normal and additionally, a smoker can save nearly two hours a day if they quit, purely with how long a cigarette takes to smoke. If this doesn’t ring alarm bells, then perhaps think about how smoking affects a bank balance in the current economic crisis in the UK.


One month of smoking a pack of twenty cigarettes per day amounts to a grand total of £192 and after a year the figure increases dramatically to, £2,300. Think about what that money could do for YOU this year and ‘Take the Leap’ this month.

P25 : The Herts Business Expo Reveal Their Keynote Speaker P26 : We interview Conference Hertfordshire’s Michael Wilkinson P27 : Damian Cummins Discusses How Entering Awards Can Boost Your Profile P28 : We Review Business Buzz, The Latest Drop-in Business Networking Group




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Make your meeting

a roaring success! Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne is a highly regarded conservation & education led zoo & events venue. The Park has a choice of modern, fully equipped venues to suit every size & style of event and can cater for groups of 4-4000. The venues include; the Discovery Conference Centre, Boardroom, Tiger Treetops, the Safari Suite, Events Marquee & Gardens, plus additional break-out areas. The Park is home to over 400 exotic animals, set in 24 acres of woodland & manicured gardens, providing the perfect setting for any event, be it an away day, conference/meeting, fun day, gala dinner, hospitality day or wedding. Your meeting or conference can take place with a backdrop of lions, tigers, monkeys, zebras, birds and reptiles. Paradise Wildlife Park specialises in team build activities, centred on the animals, where groups can uplift enclosures, build new habitats and create enrichment for the animals.

Paradise is Europe’s leading zoo for wildlife experiences such as ‘Hand Feed the Big Cats’ & ‘Meet the Meerkats’. Which animals would you like to meet? Paradise can be found just 7 miles from J25 on the M25. Broxbourne mainline station is 3 miles from the Park with fast trains from Liverpool St and Cambridge. There is also a mini bus service to the Park. Paradise Wildlife Park, Herts, EN10 7QA T. 01992 476 573

Paradise Wildlife Park the Award Winning Venue Paradise Wildlife Park has won many awards for its commitment to education, conservation and green policies.

An Audience with...

Paradise won a double Platinum Award for the EAZA Tiger Campaign, raising money for tiger conservation projects & its own registered charity, Wildlife Heritage Foundation (WHF) and The Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent. The Park has also won two Gold Awards for funds raised to support the Atlantic Rainforest & the Madagascar EAZA Campaign. Money raised was donated to the Lion Tamarin Project for Lemur Conservation in Madagascar. Paradise won a Silver Award for funds raised for the EAZA Bushmeat Campaign.



a team day out in Paradise! Hertfordshire Business Independent has teamed up with Paradise Wildlife Park to give you and a group of up to 10 colleagues, the opportunity to hold a meeting at Paradise Wildlife Park, including catering and taking part in a team build activity, creating enrichment for an animal of your choice. For your chance to win, simply tell us how many animals live in Paradise? You can submit your answer at The competition closes on 30th April 2012. All correct answers will receive a £50 discount voucher to spend at Paradise Wildlife Park for a meeting or conference. The winner will be picked at random and notified by e-mail.

My Rewards launches

the New Internet Pioneers pay on redemption service When: Where:

17th April 2012 - 5 for 5.30pm - 7pm University of Hertfordshire

Join us for a fantastic event at the University of Hertfordshire to celebrate the new internet pioneers who are shaping the future of the World Wide Web. Key speakers from the cutting edge of the internet community will be speaking and answering your questions. Representatives from Ginicam, Groupon,, Cloudnames and Winkball are already confirmed with more to come! The event is being sponsored by a new online earning platform launching this Summer. To find out more about the speakers and to register for your FREE tickets please visit

My Rewards Company has been trialing a fantastic new online rewards system for the past year with Renault through Envy Create. The feedback and response has been fantastic. My Rewards Company is now rolling out this platform with other blue chip companies and it can work for all levels, SME’s and not for profits. Tina Thomas who heads up My Rewards told us, “Our clients can now operate risk free rewards programmes, where they only pay for what they use. We believe the client, the customer and the supplier should all benefit from the business. A true win-win scenario.” For further information about how My Rewards Company can help you save and make money from your rewards programme, please call 01992 441444 or got to



See our website for details and register for updates...

FOR SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES Call Simon on 0844 358 5800 or Katrina on 07962 377249


Book on-line at


‘Raw Talent’ himself, Lee has had a successful career in both Recruitment and Advertising. He went on to win ‘The Apprentice’ and has now launched a new business to find and develop ‘Raw Talent’. In 2008, Lee beat 20,000 candidates to land a role with Lord Sugar by winning The Apprentice! Most recently, Lee set up a digital media business for Lord Sugar, along with Simon Sugar, called Amscreen. Today Lee’s passion is about helping others to realise their potential and provide them with a platform to go on and achieve in business.



the EXPO in hertfordshire that really means business!

GOING GREEN WITH CONFERENCEHERTFORDSHIRE We interviewed Michael Wilkinson (Deputy Director (Hospitality)) of ConferenceHertfordshire to find out more about what they have to offer local businesses and what exactly ‘sustainable conferencing’ means! What is ConferenceHertfordshire? ConferenceHertfordshire is a trading name for UH Ventures Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Hertfordshire. The company (originally UH Hospitality Ltd) was established in 1998 and was re-branded as ConferenceHertfordshire in 2004. The re-branding coincided with the opening of the new £120m de Havilland Campus. What kind of conference/event services do you offer? ConferenceHertfordshire provides conference services, catering and residential accommodation to internal and external clients, generating income for the University by using the University’s facilities when they are not required for teaching or other University related events. As we have such a wide variety of facilities, we can offer our clients all of the following types of events: • Residential events • Day meetings • Exhibitions • Group travel • Bed and Breakfast • Language schools • Product launches • Awards • Gala dinners • Social Events • Hospitality

What sort of companies do you work with? During the past few months, we have welcomed the following companies at our venues: • NHS • Hertfordshire County Council • EEESTA • English Heritage • Eisai Europe • National Women’s Register • NUS • ATSE • JANET (UK) • Royal Aeronautical Society

We understand you can cater for residential events too? Yes, we have over 1,500 rooms on the de Havilland campus and following a major building project at our College Lane campus, we will be able to offer a further 3,000 new rooms.

You have two sites, the Fielder Centre and the de Havilland Campus. How do the two offerings differ? The Fielder Centre is a purpose-built, day conference centre on the edge of Hatfield Business Park which can accommodate a maximum of 200 delegates in our main conference room. It has a further six breakout rooms for smaller meetings. The de Havilland campus offers 1,600 ensuite rooms, but as these are used by our students during term time, they become available during vacation time, that is to say, Easter and summer. The campus also has great facilities, ranging from the superb Sports Village, to the Weston Auditorium seating over 400. We were very pleased to be awarded the ETB’s four star campus rating last year and this.

Your headline message is ‘Sustainable Conferencing’. Could you tell us what this means and how ConferenceHertfordshire is leading the way in sustainable conferencing? We recently launched our Meet Green initiative, which recognised the need for everyone in the meetings industry to do our bit to create a more sustainable future. Many of the ideas came from our staff, who were very keen to get involved. For instance, just by monitoring electricity usage on a daily basis, we have managed to save nearly £20k a year. Reducing the size of our note pads reduced paper usage by 30 per cent. But, it is not just about what we are doing. We want to actively engage with all our clients as well, both organisers and conference delegates. For instance, by offering a free shuttle service from the station for larger conferences, we are encouraging people to use public transport to get here.

Are there any new developments in store for ConferenceHertfordshire? We are very excited about the University’s new residences project which starts very soon, which will provide a wide range of high quality bedrooms, including 100 specially designed conference rooms. Added to the new range of meeting rooms, and the stunning ForumHertfordshire, a £38m entertainment and catering venue, this will be a very exciting place to hold your conferences! For more information visit www.conferencehertfordshire.couk

WATFORD PALACE THEATRE AND THE WINNER IS... Marketing is an important part of any business. It could be simply word of mouth, or it might be placing advertisements, using PR, supporting a local charity, offering prizes - one way or another as a business you need to get your message out to your buyers. Like a testimonial, but stronger, winning a business award can both raise your profile and your bottom line. Entering business awards is becoming far more important for many businesses from sole traders to corporates in recent years. As part of any company’s marketing mix, it is becoming almost essential to show that you have won a ‘dong.’ The really good news is it does not have to be an arduous task, or an expensive exercise, but the rewards can be extensive. In the UK today there are over one thousand business related awards every year. Why? Because they are a key way for businesses to recognise the tremendous work they do, celebrate success and help build their business. There are other great advantages to entering awards. Often when running our businesses, we tend to concentrate on the areas that we know and do well in, and we don’t stop to take a critical look at our own business. How often do you re visit your business plan? Do you even have a business plan? Entering awards makes you sit down and take a critical look at your business from every angle. Now you know why you should enter an award, lets take a quick look at how you go about it. There are two recognised paths to entering any awards, one is to take the plunge yourself and the other is to avail of the services of an ‘awards entry expert’. If you choose to go it alone, start with a local business awards scheme. Most regional newspapers and/or councils will run one in your area. Most awards schemes have different categories, check and see how many you are allowed to enter and where possible enter as many as you can. It is a fact that most people who win awards find they win in the category they were not

expecting to. Check over the terms and conditions first, see if you are allowed to send photos or marketing material. Judges very rarely have the time to check your website, don’t take it for granted that they will, enclose colour hard copies of the pages you would like them to see. Evidence is absolutely crucial when entering any awards; its not enough to tell them how good you are, you need to prove it. This could be in the shape of facts and figures, testimonials, articles that appeared in the newspapers or or on the web. Many awards schemes do not visit your business, therefore it is vitally important that you visualise your business for their benefit. Never hand write an entry no matter how good your handwriting and whenever possible use bullet points - make it easy for the judges to read. Always ask someone else to read through your application, preferably someone who does not know how your business runs. If they can understand it, chances are the judges will too! If you feel you need outside help, make sure the company has a track record, many companies charge an extortionate fee but a recognised company will outline their offer clearly and it should be money well spent. Kate Adam from Meredith Marketing, who specialises in helping businesses submit their entries, had this to say “One of the main benefits of hiring an expert is that they will offer you a completely fresh view on your business. They will have a good understanding of what the judges are looking for, and help you dig deep into your business to find some key evidence and ‘wow’ factor to ensure your entry stands out” Your aim with your first time entering is to reach the finals in any one category. If you are chosen as a finalist, there are enormous media opportunities but thats another story... Entries are currently open for the FSB Hertfordshire Small Business Awards at


Use Viducall to: Enhance your relationships Speed up your business process Save travel time and costs

With a system such as Video Centre from LifeSize you can have virtual attendees at your seminar via video conference, or they can watch a live recording on the web or review it at a later date. This gives your clients the same choice they enjoy at home with devices like Tivo. If you are exhibiting ‘in person’ you can make the most of your substantial investment and adneXus provide superb screens and stands (to buy) and even has a partner who specialises in making films to run on them!

And it’s green too!

Try Viducall for free today! Call 0844 776 0474 or email and you could be Viducalling in minutes.

Viducall is provided by

Viducall is provided by

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As a conference organiser you can reach a much larger, yet focused audience. If you’re in the ‘knowledge’ business it’s a fantastic way to showcase your expertise more widely, reinforcing your brand and driving extra traffic to your website. It might even provide an additional revenue stream.

For more information, visit adneXus at www.adnexusvc. com or call 0844 776 0603


Viducall – the new cloud-based service for business class video calls.

“The people you really want to attend your event, the decision makers, are typically those that are too busy” suggests Adrian Dixon from local Audio Visual & Video Conferencing specialist adneXus. However Adrian can help you reach these people with technology that enables you to be present, even when you can’t be there in person.

Be inspired. Become inspiring. Transform lives.

Did you know you have fantastic meeting & conferencing facilities right on your doorstep? Kings House is the ideal venue for your meetings, training, presentations or market research. The Centre offers modern facilities with the latest equipment & technology and provides a range of affordable packages. Features of Kings House Business Centre: • 72 Tiered-Seat Multimedia Theatre • Six Meeting/Training Rooms • Fully equipped Viewing Facility, ideal for training or market research • In-room catering provided by our on-site catering team, or access to our cafeteria For more information on any of our services, please visit our website or call 0845 620 9266. Quote reference number MR002/12 to receive a 20% discount on the hire of our meeting & conferencing facilities.

Please help by raising funds in aid of Herts-based charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK: Donate ● Hold an event ● Run the London 10,000 - 27 May Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis UK in London - 26 May Take part in It’s a Knockout in St Albans - 22 July Help make a difference to the 240,000 people in the UK with these devastating bowel conditions.



0845 620 9266 MANAGEMENT

Kings House Business Centre, Station Road, Kings Langley

Call us on: 01727 734485 Email: Visit: Registered Charity No. 1117148 (England and Wales) SC038632 (Scotland)

BUSINESS BUZZES IN HARPENDEN Thursday 2nd of February saw the launch of the first ever Business Buzz @ The George in Harpenden, opened by Michael Weaver, Mayor of Harpenden. The morning was well attended with 68 delegates. Mary McEvoy of Neves Solicitors, who sponsored the event was delighted with the turn out. Organiser Katrina Sargent said “Business Buzz has a strong community feel. We are creating an opportunity for local businesses to engage with each other - in these tough times it is important to pull together for help and support. Meeting in a relaxed atmosphere over a coffee allows open communication to take place and is complimentary to the more structured forms of networking.” Business Buzz will continue to meet in Harpenden on the 1st Thursday of every month, and the team has just announced a second venue due to launch on 22nd March in Hemel Hempstead. For more information please visit

Business Buzz is a collaboration between The Hertfordshire Business Independent and The Business Club, West Herts, who also organise The Hertfordshire Business EXPO. The team are currently on the look out for other entrepreneurial self starters who are interested in joining the Business Buzz team to launch a buzz in their own town. For more details, call Katrina on 07962377249


Welcome to a new year, with a new sales target. Make it your resolution to hit target whilst getting less price pressure. Although resolutions tend to go by the wayside and last but a few weeks, set yourself a new year’s resolution in sales you can stick to. Although in sales we are always likely to come into contact with price pressure, let us consider how we can plan our sales target and at the same time reduce the amount of price pressure we come into contact with.

TARGET THE RIGHT MARKET Some markets may be more prone than others to price pressure. Some markets may also recognize value quicker than the price. Some markets are more resilient.

FOCUS ON THE RIGHT TYPE OF PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS Define what the profile of an ideal target customer would be. The best way to do this is to identify the top 20 per cent of clients. These are the ones that give you the most profitable business, in terms of volumes and total gross margin contribution. What you are looking for are a small number of characteristics common across the majority of that group of customers. This might include industry, location and size of operation. This will become your Target Customer Profile.

FOCUS ON EXISTING CUSTOMERS Existing customers will be a source of revenue for either repeat business, or for other products/services you sell that they haven’t yet experienced. List all the main products/services you offer across the top of a piece of paper. List down the left hand side your top 20 customers. Identify which products they buy from you, then identify the one product they don’t buy from you, but would be an obvious one for them to consider. Remember, the cheapest business to get is the business you already have.

Existing customers will be a source of revenue for either repeat business, or for other products/services you sell that they haven’t yet experienced. Remember, the cheapest business to get is the business you already have.

TARGET CERTAIN PRODUCTS Think of certain products that carry a higher profit margin. Also consider which of your product has the least competition. The less competition, the less price pressure you are likely to get.

INVEST IN YOU Consider what one highly focused and specific topic would you most benefit from having coaching or training on? Something that if you could improve it by just 10 per cent it would make a significant impact in the result you could get for your efforts. • It could of course be how to actually handle the price objection if it comes up • However, it could be in the quality of the questions you ask to minimize price pressure.

Where have you traditionally experienced price pressure? Your sales process is probably only as good as the weakest point. Where do you think that is for you? • It could be there is limited opportunity to establish needs before moving on to price • It could be poor linking between each stage • It could be at the start in scene setting and managing expectations These type of challenges have been our business at Be More Effective for well over 15 years now and we have addressed them head on in our new book ‘The Value House.’ ( If you’d like us to help build sales targets for your company that help avoid price pressure, then talk to us. It’s our resolution to help you, a resolution we won’t break.



MOTHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE Mother’s Day is a day we traditionally show our mothers how much we appreciate them. Here are some gift ideas that should make even the most difficult of mothers happy!

Beauty Box – RRP £10 (monthly subscription) available from This genius little gift is perfect for Mums who love to try different beauty brands. Each month a Beauty Box is delivered to your Mum’s doorstep and is full of gorgeous products. All brands are natural and organic and every month the box is different!

Antipodes’ Saviour Skin Balm is a multi-purpose balm that has been scientifically proven to stimulate synthesis of Type III collagen in human skin cell by more than 95 per cent. Type III collagen is the type that repairs the skin, so this balm is perfect for treating many skin troubles that include dry skin, acne, blisters, stretch marks, cuts and bruises, chafing, sunburn and more.

Perfect Partners Heavenly Smooth Range – RRP £24.99 available from This bodycare duo smoothes and brightens dull or dry skin and leaves skin feeling perfectly polished and soft. Contains natural coconut shell and organic shea butter and is made in fair trade conditions.

Conversations – RRP £4.49 Available in either Mint flavour or a selection of Milk, White, Dark and Butterscotch, each box contains individually wrapped Green & Black’s organic chocolates with fun, conversation-sparking questions printed on each wrapper.

Thorntons Fabulous Vanilla Fudge – RRP £4.99 Packed Full of mouth watering fudge in a pretty pink box, this gift is bound to make her day.

Gift Packs from – Prices start from £33.30 A specialist UK merchant of half bottles of wine offers these unique gift packs for wine lovers. The site offers an exclusive, easy-to-choose range of quality wines that are not usually available in 37.5cl bottles on the high street.

The Jamettes… By Jamie Oliver Selection of juicy, fruity jams, and tangy marmalade based on traditional British recipes- Seville orange marmalade, raspberry jam and apple and plum jam – available from delis, independents, Debenhams and

Jane Hamerton Personalised Towels and Bathrobes – Prices from £8 Bespoke, personalised towels and bathrobes from Jane Hamerton are a rare find. Jane and her team hand cut fabric letters and appliqués these onto a quality towel or bathrobe. They would make an excellent present for Mother’s day.

Green and Black’s Range: Ultimate Collection – RRP £14.99 Open the box to discover a mouth-watering puzzle of Green & Black’s bars in a variety of sizes and flavours, with favourites such as Butterscotch, Milk, Cherry and Dark 70 per cent alongside the exclusive new Dark Hazelnut flavour, only available in miniature.


Conversations – RRP £4.49 (photo ref Conversations)

THE KINDLE, THE NOOK AND NOW WATERSTONE’S E-READER TO BE RELEASED THIS SPRING While Amazon’s ‘Kindle’ and Barnes and Noble’s ‘Nook’ are still producing phenomenal sales within the market despite the economic recession, High Street shop, Waterstone’s have now decided it is the right time to release their own e-reader.


With the Nook as inspiration and the Kindle as competition, Waterstone’s have a got a huge task ahead to generate the same sort of sales and interest. James Daunt, the managing director of the British Bookshop who joined Waterstone’s last year, has himself spent twenty years selling books and so therefore has a huge and advantageous understanding of the industry itself: “I happen to understand absolutely and precisely how running the shop floor of a bookshop works and that is a great advantage.” He was hired by owner, Russian billionaire, Alexander Mamut, to turn the falling sales, as the competition online forever continues to grow. He has said that the high street chain would look to contend with Barnes and Noble, book giants in the US, which has found massive success with their own e-reader, ‘Nook’. Publishers have welcomed the move, with Penguin UK CEO Tom Weldon saying: “It is very exciting indeed to hear that Waterstone’s is planning to launch an e-reader in the Spring. It makes complete strategic sense.” Daunt, told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme: “We in Waterstone’s need to offer you a digital reader which is at least as good, and preferably substantially better, than that of our internet rival, and you will have a much better buying experience purchasing your books through us.” Just as Amazon continues to step up their domination of the online trade in the UK, Waterstone’s are looking to make a fresh attack on the digital marketplace. Daunt has commented: “I don’t like Amazon. It has only two things going for it. It is cheap and efficient. But we can give you so much more.” Amazon is rather like marmite – there have been many comments and views about the giant bookseller, however, none like Daunt’s. He also believes that Amazon is a, “ruthless, money-making devil” and he does not think that they are a company that has the “business in the consumer’s interest.” He suggests that their selling concept has many faults in the fact that their way of recommending books - ‘if you read this, you’ll like that’ is dull and poor. He thinks, and many would agree with him, that a ‘physical bookshop’ is much more of a successful ploy to win consumers, as adding the tangibility factor into High Street

shops will create a phenomenon within the UK digital market. He like many think that the high street bookshop will become extinct in the future so he says he has a “responsibility” to not let this happen. He said: “You’ll walk into a Waterstone’s and there’ll be a bit of the shop where you can look at e-readers, play with them,” he said: “We’re inventing one of our own – perhaps we’ll call it the Windle – and we’re working on the Barnes & Noble approach. They’ve embedded their own e-book, called the Nook, within their bookshops and have succeeded in taking market share from the Kindle.” If Waterstone’s produced their own Kindle and imbed it within their nearly 300 retail shops, surely it’s a win-win situation. Daunt commented: “If the bookshop lets you have both and has a product every bit as good as the Amazon one, why wouldn’t you do it with a bookshop.” Instead of mimicking Amazon’s approach, Daunt said that he wanted customers to be allowed to download e-books inside all of their high street shops, just like their rival American company, Barnes and Noble’s tactic. Random House’s Deputy CEO Ian Hudson commented: “Barnes & Noble has shown what can be done when a leading high street retailer puts its weight behind a high quality digital reader. I very much hope that Waterstone’s can achieve the same level of success here in the UK.” According to research company IDC, Amazon dominates the e-reader market with around a 50 per cent share and in the fourth quarter of 2010 sold a gigantic 3m Kindles. As most major booksellers, including the infamous Waterstone’s and Amazon, report that e-book sales are soaring both in the UK and US, there is no wonder why there is a dominant focus on launching e-readers. The digital e-reader that Waterstone’s are releasing will be launched into the market in the Spring and will let the consumer download and read electronic books allowing them to store thousands of their favourite titles!

MERCEDES CLS Mercedes-Benz have for a long time been committed to limiting the environmental impact of their vehicles. Find out the key changes in the engine line-up of the new CLS-Class:

All engines apart from the CLS 63 AMG have been BlueEFFICIENCYoptimised to significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions. For the first time, Mercedes have used 7G-Tronic Plus transmission with ECP Start/Stop in conjunction with automatic transmission. The ECO Start/Stop automatically cuts the engine when not in use, therefore saving considerable fuel being transmitted and spent. We have already mentioned above about the new BlueEFFICIENCYoptimised engines, but check out the other new things too: the CLSClass is the first model to showcase the distinguished new design developed by Professor Gorden Wagener. It has new eye-catching air inlets to the flared wheel arches, new and improved lightning technology including bi-xenon headlamps, and a striking radiator grille which echoes ‘supercar’. For outstanding driving enjoyment and supreme efficiency, all new CLS-Class models are equipped with 7G-Tronic Plus, an enhanced version of our acclaimed 7-speed automatic transmission.




WARN!NG DO NOT LEASE YOUR NEXT VEHICLE UNTIL YOU HAVE SPOKEN TO US. From the single user to large companies, we can cater for all your vehicle-lease needs.

or call today for a FREE CONSULTATION or QUOTATION

01442 822212 Akeman Business Park, 81-81 Akeman Street, Tring HP23 6A

This new transmission has been significantly improved in terms of economy, driving dynamics and ride comfort. With its short shift times and almost imperceptible gear changes, the system ensures the engine is always operating at the optimum speed to minimise fuel consumption. Noise and vibrations have been reduced, adding to an already sublime driving experience. And longevity has been increased, with the recommended transmission fluid change interval extended from 30,000 miles to 75,000 miles.


With its stunning exterior styling, you’d expect the new CLS-Class to deliver an exceptional driving experience – and it doesn’t disappoint. Formidable engines deliver impressive levels of torque, while advanced suspension, steering and transmission systems ensure their power is transferred smoothly and effortlessly to the road. Direct Control Suspension with Selective Damping ‘reads’ the road and adapts shock absorption accordingly. This is complemented by the newly developed electromechanical Direct Steering system, which offers more assured, agile handling across the speed range. In addition, it offers fuel savings over the previous hydraulic set-up and enables the CLS-Class to incorporate innovative assistance systems such as Active Parking Assist.


Maintaining the pioneering four-seat coupé layout of the original CLS-Class, the new model’s beautifully designed cabin uses the finest materials and finishes to create a sense of understated elegance. From distinctive aubergine leather upholstery to opulent burr walnut trim, there’s an array of opportunities to personalise the interior to suit your tastes. What’s more, thanks to the new vehicle’s larger dimensions, there’s even more interior space for occupants and their luggage. The rear seat passengers’ compartment is as much limousine as coupé, offering easy access and two individual full-size seats. And, unusually for a coupé, the CLS-Class also offers a large boot with space for your travel essentials and more. To ensure you’re still sitting comfortably after many, many miles, standard features range from automatic climate control to the convenient eye-level centre console display. Options include ambient lighting and dynamic multi-contour seats with integrated massage function. Entertainment is provided by DVD audio / video. In addition there’s MP3 connectivity through the Media Interface, a PCMCIA slot and integrated Music Register, enabling you to build up a library of your favourite tunes on the system’s hard disk. Linguatronic voice control is also included and all functions can be performed via the ergonomic COMAND controller or using the multi-function steering wheel.


On a standard CLS-Class model it has 19-inch alloys, direct control comfort suspension, ABS, speed sensitive power steering, active parking assist, LED daytime running lights, heated windscreen wash system, heat insulating glass, 59-litre fuel tank, spare wheelspace saver, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation 50 radio with 5.8in colour display, eight speakers and MP3 compatibility.




With forecasts of the UK’s economic prospects for 2012 remaining gloomy, the chances are that many more people will be seeking new employment over the course of this year. With more well-qualified people seeking fewer jobs, strong networks will become ever-more relevant, as will a proactive approach.

Before Christmas I met someone who has taken the need to be proactive and develop a strong network to heart in her search for a new job. Zoe is in a different position to many others; she is seeking a career change by choice rather than having it forced on her through redundancy. Currently in a relatively secure job in the City, Zoe wants to move into technology. “I thought of every person I know who works or knows people in my chosen field”, Zoe told me. “I emailed each of them and arranged to meet up for a pint. Over beers, I ask about his/her work, the company, the industry, everything, and then ask for advice on my search for new opportunities. I always take notes. Then I ask who else he/she might be able to put me in touch with. And the cycle repeats and the circle expands.” Many people are reticent about asking their network for help at a time like this, but shouldn’t be. If you have invested in building relationships, are clear about the help you are asking for and they know that you would do the same for them, most people would be delighted to help. Zoe has, in fact, found it very easy to get support from her network. “No need to be shy about asking for meetings. It’s usually flattering for the other person! Everyone loves talking about himself and offering advice. Take the attitude not of ‘maybe he/she can get me a job’, but ‘I wonder what I’ll learn from him/her’ and ‘I wonder how he/she can help me expand my network.’”


Zoe hasn’t stopped with asking her existing network for introductions though. With a clear focus on her chosen industry, she has been attending a range of networking events in that sector. “When I decided I needed a job change, going to networking events was one of the first things I did to learn about a new field. A few months ago, I decided I wanted to change industries, from banking to technology. To pull that off, I knew I would have to learn as much as possible about my chosen new area, discover the roles where my skills would be most suited, and of course, meet people in the industry who were hiring.


“At the first networking events I attended, my goal was to learn more about the tech industry and confirm that that was the field I wanted to pursue. I walked in

with an open mind. Meeting someone for the first time, I’d say ‘I’m just here to learn about the tech and online industry, as I’m looking to change industries. I’d love to hear about your company and what you do.’ “I was afraid that people would blow me off, but the opposite happened. People love to talk about themselves and share their knowledge, especially when a newcomer expresses interest. I took a card from each person that I spoke to, and followed up with an email the next day: ‘Great meeting you last night. I’d love to continue talking about your experiences, and I’m sure you have more good advice on where I might fit in the industry. Could I buy you a beer at the pub of your choice?’” Zoe’s approach resulted in a number of meetings and follow on introductions. I met her at an event for technology companies and she had clearly built a strong level of visibility in the network in a short space of time. The New York Times bestselling author on networking, Ivan Misner talks about three stages of networking, something he calls the VCP process®. First you have to build visibility, so that people know you and who you are. You then develop credibility, where people trust you and believe in your abilities. Finally you can move onto profitability, where you can ask for help. Asking for help too soon would lead to you putting off people in your network, creating a negative reputation or simply getting weak introductions. Zoe clearly recognises this in her approach. Her attitude of simply going to events to learn about a new sector and build new relationships takes the pressure off. She doesn’t feel that she has to ask everyone for a job, nor do the people she meets feel pressured. But as she develops the relationships with those people the chances increase that they will not only make relevant introductions for her, but they will put their own recommendation behind the introduction. Zoe will also be able to start a new job in the technology sector with an existing network in an industry she has never previously worked in. Not only can her proactive approach to networking help her to find the job she craves, it will also help her hit the ground running.


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The Hertfordshire Business Independent March 2012  

Welcome to the March issue of The Hertfordshire Business Independent.This month marks the six month anniversary since Steve Job’s death, and...

The Hertfordshire Business Independent March 2012  

Welcome to the March issue of The Hertfordshire Business Independent.This month marks the six month anniversary since Steve Job’s death, and...