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Me and my tech

disaster ahead? Is your business a likely victim of cyber crime? | Pages 8-9

2012 Olympic champion

Helen Glover | Page 14 MARCH 2014

In association with UKFast, working with you at the speed of life

Jacqueline Gold talks equality, adversity and why women shouldn’t take no for an answer | Pages 4-5

Secrets of success Sir James Dyson on how he became the UK’s greatest inventor

Exclusive interview on page 7



a special report on lifestyle and business, created by ukfast and distributed with the sunday telegraph

March 2014

Find us online: By Erin Heywood

IN JUST 10 days’ time, the new budget will be released by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne – a day that will affect every British citizen for the next 12 months and beyond. Last year’s budget was “for people who aspire to work hard and get on”, and for those “who aspire to own their own home, who aspire to get their first job, or start their own business”, according to Osborne. The Chancellor promised to tap into new sources of low-cost energy; help medium-sized businesses grow; reduce corporation tax; reduce the cost of childcare; scrap beer tax; and to get more people than ever on to the property ladder.

“As we move to an ‘internet of things’, we need investment in cyber-security training” – Baxter There’s no denying that many have benefited from the previous budget, but the past 12 months have definitely been turbulent for this country. A debate about the prospect of having a high-speed rail connection between the north and the south has split nationwide opinion like Marmite. The new under-occupancy penalty imposed on welfare claimants has seen hundreds plunged into debt, unable to pay their bills because of “spareroom” deductions applied to benefit payments. MPs have been hitting the headlines for issues in their personal lives. Chris Huhne was jailed after lying to the police about his wife taking on the burden of his driving penalty points, while Patrick Mercer was forced to

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The Final Countdown

What will this year’s budget mean to you? resign from the Conservative party after becoming embroiled in a “cash for questions” scandal. But it wasn’t all bad news. Same-sex marriages were legalised and were allowed to go ahead from the start of this month, while the House of Commons successfully defeated a motion backed by Prime Minister David Cameron to involve British troops in military intervention in Syria, by 285 votes to 272. But now is the time that the fears of the looming “Big Red Briefcase” take hold. Whether it’s your family, business or social life, chances are that in these times of austerity, a new tug on the government purse strings will affect your life in one way or another. In an attempt to be more in touch with the public than ever, the government has recently asked members of the UK to submit ideas and flag up key areas that need inclusion in the 2014 budget. One area of great interest – and arguably one that the government can’t afford to ignore – is whether or not banks should be more encouraged to invest in emerging SMEs. “Start-ups and entrepreneurs must be encouraged by governmental investment in education, finance and creativity,” says Lee Cash, managing director at FusePump. “And furthermore, banks should be incentivised to loan and give business plans longer to come to fruition.” While many see incentivising banks as the way forward, others would prefer stricter regulations to avoid SMEs from falling at the first hurdle. Jonathan Money, director of

Catering and Leisure Supplies, says: “Legislation needs to be put in place to stop banks from cutting small companies’ overdraft limits and refusing to lend to them with the excuse of ‘the banking crisis’.” As the country faces a rollout of highspeed broadband internet, thoughts are increasingly turning to whether the UK is protected online. R o r y B a x t e r, eCommerce manager at SuperStores UK, says: “As we move to an ‘internet of things’, we need investment in cyber-security training and research and development sectors. When we’re experiencing phenomena such as fridges sending out spam, the UK mustn’t risk becoming more vulnerable.” But this winter’s tempestuous weather has seen the biggest nationwide reaction, with many calling for investment in forward thinking against the powers of Mother Nature. “It’s clear we need to invest more into weather and climate change research activities,” says Athar Ahmad, founder of World Weather Online. “Recent weather incidents have caused devastating damage to families and businesses alike. We must fund scientific research and technology that

“Banks should be incentivised to loan and give business plans longer to come to fruition” – Cash will lead to a better understanding of weather, so we can protect our society from the risks these extreme conditions bring.” Peter Joyce, founder of Nonverba, echoes that sentiment, saying: “The government has a duty under the Civil Contingencies Act to have plans in

place, and to educate the communities, about the risks of floods and potential future disasters. What’s happening now is not effective. I hope the budget attempts to reverse this situation and help those in need.” The next budget is coming and there’s little way to avoid it affecting you, for better or worse. Only time will tell whether it’ll be a year of austerity or prosperity, but one thing is for sure: it’s bound to be as interesting as the last one.

Visit to share your views on the most important parts of this year’s budget

Tech to change the world

What’s the invention that will alter everything? You share your views Dan Baker, managing director, eduFOCUS Limited Mor pho Butter f ly is a new nanotechnology, inspired by the waterrepellent properties of a South American butterfly, that allows manufacturers to apply a superhydrophobic, textured plastic coating to pretty much any surface or internal component. Gone will be the days of placing your mobile phone in a bowl of rice after an unfortunate incident with the toilet. This will be a world where we can use – and drop – our technology pretty much anywhere, without it becoming broken or dirty.

Ed Roberts, company director, Awaken Ibiza 2014 will be the year of the smart home. It might sound space-age but imagine this: you’re 20 minutes from home, your house knows to turn on the heating, switch on the security light and warm up your oven because your mobile phone will act as a remote control for the home from afar. It’s exciting to see where it will lead, as it’s predicted to break into the travel sector, streamlining things like transfers, flights and holiday entertainment.

Kevin Jones, co-founder, Miribase The next big thing is Virtual Reality (VR) technology, which discards the physical world and tries to make digital environments appear real instead. You easily become immersed in VR. Coming away from it feels strange and disorientating; your brain readily accepts it. VR is an old idea that never took off; if it is done right, it could change everything. This year we may see its promise realised, and we’ll never live the same way again.

Richard Flanagan, managing director, 8 Ball Mail Advancements in direct-to-garment printing will change the world we live in today. Companies specialise in “just in time” ordering for their customers, and until now, the unit cost per item has been much higher than traditional screen printing. This new technology levels the playing field both in terms of lowered cost and increased innovation. Marrying technology innovations with systemised production methods will open a lot of new doors for businesses. It’s a game changer.

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March 2014


The way I see it Lawrence Jones IT’S AN age-old argument. Is success learned or is it instinct? And are some people just naturally talented, or can anyone do anything with the right surroundings? Personally, I don’t believe in talent as something you’re born with. I think it’s very simple; talent is learned and instincts are developed. We learn things from such an early age that, all too often, by the time anyone notices that a person has a “natural gift” we discount the thousands of hours that they will have invested along the way and describe their talent as instinctive.

“The secret to becoming successful – the best in your field – is constantly finding new ways to develop and improve” While this might be intended as a compliment, I think it does them a disservice. Take sports people; very often they have a passionate coach or parent pushing them to train regularly from a young age. If we all experienced the same intensity from a role model growing up, we’d all have the first step needed to be a great contender. The same is true in business. Take David Dodd, founder of Poundland, who explains on page 10 the impact of encouraging parents who instil values of discipline and self-reliance. In my opinion, the secret to becoming successful – the best in your field – is constantly fi nding new ways to develop and improve. Staying in the top spot, however, is even harder, as everyone wants that coveted title. It’s so important to try not to look over your shoulder or spend too much time congratulating yourself for a job well done. Resting on your laurels is a risky thing to do. There will always be someone else looking to knock you off your perch, reading and learning new ways to do things. If you aren’t experimenting and fine-tuning every aspect of every process to make your business stronger, someone else will be. One man who has succeeded in staying at the forefront of his market is James Dyson, a true entrepreneur with a drive to find better ways of doing things. His company’s

The more people challenge the status quo, the faster things will change

ethos of never standing still and constantly innovating and inventing has kept it relevant and revolutionary. Find out more on page seven. The exciting thing about the life we live is the fact that now, everyone can develop faster, and I think the people who are demonstrating this most in today’s society are women. Look how women have evolved since 1900, since Emmeline Pankhurst dedicated her life to making sure women could vote and have the same basic rights as men. It’s safe to say women have developed more in society, socially and physically, since that point in history. There is still more to do and I think society is holding women back, albeit unintentionally. I have three girls and I can see already that at school the boys get an area of the playground at break where they all play football. They are being encouraged to compete while the girls are left to their own devices. It’s something that businesswoman Jacqueline Gold can relate to,

as you can see from her interview on page four. Despite having little encouragement from school, she is now CEO of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, and has been named as one of the top 60 most influential over-50s on Twitter. Her comment about using adversity as a motivator is something we can all take on board as we strive to develop, to improve, and to succeed.

“If you aren’t experimenting and fine-tuning every aspect to make your business stronger, someone else will be” The more people challenge the status quo, the faster things will change, and in my opinion,

there’s nothing that drives progress quite like competition. It’s what motivates you to get better and reach new heights, and it’s not necessarily something that has to be overt. You can set yourself the goal of beating someone who’s much better than you at something as a way to raise the bar for yourself and to motivate you to practice and work hard. This can be applied to schools where I think we need to start changing the notion that women are weaker than men. If we start changing the way girls are treated in early education in comparison to their male peers, I think we will start seeing a difference out there on the field later down the line. In life, we achieve the things we focus on so don’t forget to dream big! Lawrence Jones is chief executive of managed hosting and cloud firm UKFast. Follow him on Twitter @Lawrence_Jones and read his blog at


March 2014

By Erin Heywood

“THERE’S nothing better than a bit of adversity to get me going.” Jacqueline Gold is looking back to 1979, and her very fi rst days in business. As a young girl doing work experience at Ann Summers – the upmarket sex shop owned by her father, David Gold – Jacqueline was keen to stand out for being much more than the boss’s daughter. “When men go to work with their dads, the reaction is ‘how great, he’s following in his father’s footsteps’,” she says. “When girls do it, the reaction is, ‘she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth,’ as if women aren’t capable of working in business. I knew that would be the reaction I faced so when I had an idea that would help the business to grow, I wasn’t going to give it up.” That idea came when Jacqueline, 53, was invited to a Tupperware party and saw potential to implement a similar idea into Ann Summers. “Women were telling me they wanted to buy sexy underwear but had nowhere to go and get it,” she says.

“ Too few women have the confidence to stand up and stand out. Not until they are given equal chances will that happen, and that doesn’t mean being the token woman on a board of directors” “They didn’t want to go to a sex shop, which was the only place you could go then. I saw potential to create a women-only event that gave them what they needed most. “I took the idea to the board – which was of course, all male – and it was really difficult. One member told me it wouldn’t work because women aren’t interested in sex, but that obviously says more about him than my business idea. “But I went in with my passion and didn’t give up until they said yes. I had no business plan and didn’t know where to start.” The very beginning, it seems. Jacqueline set about organising the parties by doing everything herself, from packing orders and writing invoices, to training new team members and creating adverts. Though this was Jacqueline’s first big move in the business world, she was no stranger to work. As a teenager, she’d designed crosswords for 50p per puzzle, had been a waitress, a hairdresser and worked in the orders department at Royal Doulton. But with little encouragement at school to break into the business world, the boardroom was entirely new territory. “When I look back now, my exposure to the working world in school was quite poor,” Jacqueline says. “The whole ‘careers talk’ experience was disengaging, because you were just pointed in the

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She’s overcome adversity, sexism and is the queen of taboo. Ann Summers and Knickerbox CEO Jacqueline Gold talks about the need to tackle inequalities in business head-on

direction of opportunities typically associated with girls. No one was ever encouraged to have a vision, and there were no women in business to look up to as leaders. “It doesn’t help women’s confidence longterm. We need to get rid of this tunnel-vision approach and start encouraging girls as much as boys to go into business, and tell them they can succeed.” The debate on the absence of women in business – particularly in IT and technology – has been gaining momentum for some time. While more females are stepping into highprofile positions in traditionally male-dominated industries – Mary Barra became CEO of General Motors in January 2014, Sheryl Sandberg has been COO at Facebook since August 2013 and Marissa Mayer become president of Yahoo in July 2012 – the figures are still frightening. Just 12.6 per cent of engineers in tech companies are female. Only 3 per cent of creative directors the world over are women. There are still six companies in the FTSE 100 that have all-male boards, while the proportion of female directors holding executive positions sits at just 6.1 per cent.

Joyce Floros, IT manager at Polaroid Eyewear, has worked in IT since leaving school. And though she’s seen her fair share of women working in the industry, she says the male/female balance in IT is still off kilter. “One area I find is still very male-dominated is telecoms and networks,” she says. “There is no reason that women can’t do that job, but seldom do you see women in that area, and I can’t explain it. Perhaps there aren’t enough role models around. The only female role model I had as a youngster was my fi rst boss.” Sue Orton-Flynn, founder of Sensable Media, shares that sentiment. “I see fewer successful women of my generation in business than men,” she says. “I am certain things are changing and becoming more equal, but the type of role models girls are exposed to in the media today is worrying. They all have aspirations of fame and beauty, leaving many with broken dreams. They should be taught that being successful in business is attainable and fulfi lling.” Taking heed of the worrying statistics, Jacqueline has set to work. In June 2011, her WOW – Women on Wednesday – campaign was

launched, which sees her tweet the stories and ideas of women starting new businesses. And more recently, she’s teamed up with the Young Foundation to develop a deeper understanding of female business owners, in order to deliver tailored support to them and those wishing to follow in their footsteps. “The WOW community has really grown, and

“I went in with my passion and didn’t give up until they said yes, but I had no business plan and didn’t know where to start” it’s great to see women supporting each other in the pursuit of business success,” she says. “Working with the Young Foundation I want to really get under the skin of female entrepreneurs and show people the truth behind the headlines. Women leaders have a unique strength, and I want to uncover their inspirational stories.

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Jacqueline Gold

It’s still early days, but I want this to be a platform for those who are triumphant over adversity.” At the start of 2014, Jacqueline was voted one of the top 60 Most Influential Over 50s on Twitter, appearing at number 46 – the eighth most influential woman. It’s testament to the online community she’s building off the back of her own business experiences, and, it seems, humbling to someone who’s just doing what they’re passionate about. “It was an honour to be on the list,” she says. “But the fact there were only 14 females on there shows that women still need to be propelled into the business spotlight. “I take inspiration from so many people, but too few women have the confidence to stand up and stand out. Not until they are given equal chances will that happen, and that doesn’t mean being the token woman on a board of directors. No one wants that.” For anyone thinking Jacqueline’s career path has been easy, they’d be wrong. She’s been arrested twice and had a bullet sent to her in the post in her pursuit of equality. But a little self-therapy was all it took to keep her focused.

“I was only 21 when I started in business,” she says. “I had my wobbles and wondered whether I was up to it, just like anyone would. I decided to write myself a letter – these days you could send yourself an email – listing all the things I’d achieved and the things I was most proud of. “Whenever you struggle, you can read that list and remind yourself of how good you are. You don’t need validation from friends or family; it’s you who needs to believe in you.” It’s easy to tell that Jacqueline will stop at nothing to help women prosper. And it’s thanks to early scepticism that Ann Summers and Knickerbox are thriving businesses today. “I tried explaining my Ann Summers party idea to a very well-known CEO of a chain of estate agents, and he told me it was a fad that wouldn’t last longer than two years,” Jacqueline says. “That was in the 1980s. Need I say any more?” You can follow Jacqueline on Twitter, @Jacqueline_gold and learn more about the Young Foundation at www.

March 2014



March 2014

a special report on lifestyle and business, created by ukfast and distributed with the sunday telegraph

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Follow us on Twitter: @BCloudUK

a special report on lifestyle and business, created by ukfast and distributed with the sunday telegraph

Find us online:

March 2014

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Stubborn, persistent and innately curious: Sir James Dyson shares the secrets to his success As a youngster, were you always a creative person? I grew up in rural north Norfolk so my early childhood was spent collecting tadpoles in jam jars and running in the sand dunes. I spent one summer building a lighting system for a friend’s house. I did little but electrocute myself but it got me thinking about why things were made the way they were. I haven’t changed much in 60 years! When you began looking at a career, was inventing and technology always what you wanted to be involved in or were you drawn towards other subjects? Not initially. My parents were classicists so it was expected that I would follow that route. It wasn’t until I got to the Royal College of Art that I got my hands dirty taking things apart while studying industrial design. I realised I had an innate curiosity to take things apart and improve their original design – to make them work better. What were your earliest inventions? While at the Royal College of Art I designed the Sea Truck. It was a flat-hulled, high-speed landing craft, capable of carrying a three-ton load at 50mph. It was working on this that I met my mentor Jeremy Fry at Rotork. He taught me the Edisonian approach to design – using empirical testing to improve things. Jeremy was all about prototype, prototype, prototype. It’s an engineering approach that is crucial to how we operate at Dyson today. When did the transition come from those earliest inventions to inventing your first vacuum cleaner? It wasn’t really a transition. Frustrations have a habit of jumping up on you. I was fed up with my Hoover Junior constantly losing suction and not working in the way that it should, so I simply ripped the bag off and decided to investigate. I realised that the tiny pores inside a vacuum bag clog with dust and dirt and cause the machine to lose performance. It’s a fundamental flaw in the technology. That’s

Sir James Dyson

when I started developing my cyclonic technology. How was your first Dyson vacuum received by the public? People embraced cyclone technology and started turning their backs on the bag. After 18 months DC01 became the bestselling vacuum cleaner in the UK. But getting there was the hard part. It had required 5,127 prototypes and 15 years before my cyclonic technology took off. Too many retailers were hung up on the lucrative bagged vacuum cleaner market so they dismissed my bagless machine out of hand. I was also told by these so-called “experts” that a clear bin was a bad idea and that no one would want to see the dirt lurking in their homes. I was stubborn and persisted with my technology. How did it feel to create a product that is now a household name the world over? People all over the world appreciate good technology – things that work better than anything else out there. If it doesn’t do that then people won’t buy it. That’s why we keep on inventing, developing new machines

that solve different everyday problems. Why did you set up the James Dyson Foundation? To create the engineers of tomorrow – and by the way, there will be a projected shortfall of 356,000 engineers by 2024. Design and technology needs to be exciting. We must get children problemsolving and experimenting with new materials. All too often they spend their time making keyrings and chopping up wood. That’s not engineering. We must show them the modern job of an engineer. What does the Foundation involve? I set it up in 2002 to encourage young people to pursue careers in engineering while also supporting medical research charities throughout the UK. We’re now working with primary schools, secondary schools, undergraduate students and postgraduate students – developing bright engineers at every level. Investing in the roots – in education – is essential. Each year we run The James Dyson Award, which encourages engineering students to design something that solves a problem. Last year’s UK national winner, Sam Etherington, developed Renewable Wave Power, a device to harvest

wave energy. Since winning Sam has begun real-life testing his design and is now progressing it towards commercialisation. Do you see the Foundation as a way of passing on your legacy as a great British inventor? Without bright engineers we simply won’t develop the new technology we need to tackle the world’s big problems – things like urban regeneration, environmental sustainability and ageing infrastructure. It’s essential we fund and develop the next generation of engineers and scientists to deliver these technologies. Do youngsters manage to take you by surprise with their ideas and skills? All the time. Young people have unsullied minds and are willing to take risks. That’s exactly why we must capture this creativity at a young age and inspire children about the possibilities of a career in engineering. My Foundation is working with five schools in Bath to develop industry-relevant resources aimed at exciting children about new technology and the design process. We’ve invested £500,000 to equip the schools with 3D printers, lasers, scanners and routers. Already we’ve seen

the number of children taking D&T classes double across the five schools. It’s inspiring to see. What creation are you most proud of to date and why? The Dyson digital motor. Dyson has been working over the past 15 years on developing the world’s smallest, fastest electric motors. They depend on digital technology to spin at up to 110,000 times a minute. They are already in our Dyson Airblade hand dryers and cordless technology – but they will power a whole new generation of technology going forward. It’s patented so it’s only in Dyson technology. What kind of things are you interested in away from work? Away from work it’s as much about making things. I’ve begun to craft my own furniture at home. I’ve crafted carbon-fibre chairs and a desk in my office is made from the remnants of an airplane wing. What can you see in the future for Dyson? Research and development is a slow burn; we have a 25-year pipeline of technology. We develop core technologies, like motors and robotic capabilities – while experimenting with new materials like graphene and carbon nanotubes. We’ll see where the technology takes us.

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March 2014

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£3,000M £2,500M £2,000M £1,500M £1,000M






“AS THE world is increasingly interconnected, everyone shares the responsibility of securing cyberspace.” Those are the words of Newton Lee, author of Counterterrorism and Cybersecurity: Total Information Awareness. But “shared responsibility” remains very much an ideal in a world where cyber security is taken seriously by only a small minority. More than 1.5 million people fall victim to cyber crime every single day. That’s 18 victims a second; a distressing statistic to an increasingly online world. There are stories of new data breaches reaching the media spotlight every day and the devastating effects on individuals and businesses are well documented – it costs the UK £3million every year. Studies of cyber crime trends show that cyber criminals don’t discriminate – everyone is a target – and that their impact is potentially crippling for a business yet, for most, protecting themselves is low down on the list of priorities. According to recent research, business leaders and management consider data security to be a costly and unnecessary add-on, rather than a benefit to their business. And more savvy bosses, who do invest in security to protect themselves, face a challenge too, as cyber criminals become ever more intelligent and increasingly harder to avoid. In 2013, 78 per cent of large organisations across the globe were attacked by criminals, hacktivists or even competitors. So why aren’t more



By Lowri Williams

people sitting up and listening? Matt Gladwin, network and IT infrastructure manager at Genting Casinos, says that the mindset of illpreparation must change. He said: “Not understanding the cost benefit is the main barrier to data protection. People say ‘this protection is going to cost £10,000, what is it going to save me?’ “It could save you a £500,000 DPA fine, but more importantly, what it’ll definitely save is your business’s reputation, and you can’t put a price on that.” Phil Smith, technical director at cyber security firm EncryptionBox agrees. He said: “You need to decide what is most valuable to your business. Whether it’s your data or your reputation, make sure that it is protected to the maximum level possible.” Think about it – would you leave your house unlocked? Would you leave your safe door open? Would you share your PIN number with strangers on the street? Of course you wouldn’t, so it’s no different for the data locked inside your business computer; to you, there should be nothing more valuable. Stay ahead of the game and get protected, because, as cyber security expert L Collins says: “A cyber hacker is nothing more than a bank robber using another weapon; his motivation is robbery.”







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March 2014

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£3.22m FRANCE














£4.18m JAPAN






March 2014

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IN FOR A PENNY... By Erin Heywood

WHEN a young David Dodd began market trading in the 1980s, he had no idea a simple £1 coin would become the inspiration for one of the most successful UK businesses of all time – or that he’d be at the helm of it. Growing up in the working-class Midlands, David survived on the bare necessities, told by encouraging parents that to get the things he desired in life he’d have to work for them. “That’s something I’ll never complain about,” he says. “It was a fabulous discipline. As soon as I was able to work, I did it. I had an income by the age of 14.” Leaving school straight after his GCSEs,

“Poundland is able to continue providing the same amazing value for money today, and in the future, as it did back in 1990. It’s still got such a long way to go” a chance meeting with a market trader gave David visions of a lucrative – and independent – career. “I wasn’t keen on discipline and following rules; it wasn’t for me,” he says. “Market trading sounded interesting; there was money to be made if you were good at it, so I decided to learn the ropes then go it alone.” David sold bleach, washing-up liquid, sponges, batteries; the everyday items that people need. It was nothing glamorous, but it worked. Soon after, he began working with a wholesaler – Keith Smith – who had previously supplied the stock for a very successful 10p stall on that same marketplace. David says: “You could see a seed had been planted in his mind, because he saw how successful that stall was. Keith, his son Steve, and I just developed the idea. There were plenty of stores selling everything for 50p but it was coming to the end of its run as a high-value price point, so we decided we had to sell everything for £1.” In September 1990, David managed to

As its directors announce it will be floated on the London Stock Exchange, Poundland’s founder David Dodd explains the secrets to its success, and why the 24-year-old chain will still be a success decades from now convince a landlord that his business idea had substance and was reason enough to give him premises to trade from. Poundland was born. David and Steve packed a unit in The Octagon Shopping Centre in Burtonupon-Trent, with their stock – gathered from a network of distributors and importers – and set to work. They didn’t have to wait long to see results. “The response was instantaneous,” David says. “As soon as we opened the doors the shop was fi lled, because word caught on. We were cash generative from day one and we remained that way.” Anyone who visits Poundland today will know that it’s a one-stop shop for top brands. But getting brands to supply their stock to Poundland, when they were used to their products selling at high margins in supermarkets, was one of David’s fi rst struggles. “Most of our products were available at higher prices in other outlets. We were selling at what people considered suicidal margins, but we had low overheads, so it was something we could do,” says David. “We knew that as soon as we generated the buying power, the margins would eventually follow. “But we couldn’t break through with the brand owners. Many just refused to supply us; it was a war of attrition. “We had no choice but to buy their branded products in wholesale and sell them in our stores, and then go back to them and say ‘we’ve been selling your product, look how much we’ve sold’. Very slowly, they started to come around to our way of thinking.” In 2002, David famously led a management buy-out that resulted in him becoming CEO of Poundland. Having started

the business in a partnership, it was a move that could’ve unsettled what was a steadily sailing ship. “For the business to continue growing, as it clearly had the potential to do, it had to change – simple as that,” says David. “It needed to become less owner-centric, and where I was happy to take a step back, I don’t think Kevin or Steven had the appetite for that loss of control. But it was a group discussion; we knew that the most value would be delivered for the business if I was to become CEO. “There were no boardroom battles; the business needed to be unleashed. It wasn’t doing the things it should’ve been doing because, perhaps, there wasn’t the shared will among the management team. It was the right thing to do.” Never a truer word spoken. In David’s

“As soon as we opened the doors the shop was filled, because word caught on. We were cash generative from day one and we remained that way” time as CEO, the business doubled turnover and profits trebled. But by 2006, the role had taken its toll on David. He says: “It was an 80-hour a week habit. My marriage was suffering; I didn’t spend enough time with my three children. I’d developed a senior management team and the roll-out of stores had turned Poundland

into a well-oiled machine. “I could’ve carried on, earning a fat salary and getting huge bonuses. But the level of commitment that I put into the business was only sustainable while I was enjoying it and felt that I was adding value, and I didn’t feel that any more. I had realised the business needed a different approach to mine to take it to the next level.” And next level it is. Last year, Poundland sold three million light bulbs, 4.4 million bags of sugar and 18 million cans of cola from more than 500 stores across the UK and Ireland. It’s one fi rm that hasn’t been affected at all by the recession, growing revenues from £641.5million in the 2010-11 fi nancial year to £880.5million in 2012-13. But always looking to move forward, its directors announced at the end of February that Poundland would float on the London Stock Exchange, in a move expected to value the chain at up to £750million. David might’ve spent the last eight years without Poundland in his life, but his passion for the company still runs in his blood. He’s sure floating on the LSE won’t stop the company in its tracks. “Poundland has such buying power, authority and expertise in a very focused segment of the market,” he says. “It is able to continue providing the same amazing value for money today, and in the future, as it did back in 1990. It’s still got such a long way to go.” And the key to Poundland’s success? Simplicity, according to David. “If you can’t articulate what your business idea is about in one decent sentence, you don’t have a winning formula,” he says. “Simple formulas win, and that’s why Poundland will continue to stand the test of time. Value never goes out of fashion.”

a special report on lifestyle and business, created by ukfast and distributed with the sunday telegraph

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March 2014

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ONE OF the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the BBC – to develop a northern HQ in an aspiring city west of Manchester – attracted thousands of column inches and has been the subject of often fierce debate AS PLANS to relocate some of the Corporation’s biggest and most popular departments took shape in 2010, it became clear that 1,500 staff would need to move to Salford, joining 750 BBC employees from the old Manchester base in the purposebuilt MediaCity complex. Some London-based staff refused to switch and opponents of the BBC North project slated it as a colossal waste of money, accusing it of being a political, rather than an economical, decision. As Director of BBC North, the buck stopped with Peter Salmon. “I care more about our actual achievements and our new ambitions rather than critics,” he says. “We’ve already delivered big things here – on time and under budget. The Winter Olympics, the London 2012 Olympics; we’re about to tackle the World Cup and Commonwealth Games this summer. Radio 5 Live is Sony’s Station of the Year, CBeebies is the Bafta Kids Station of the Year. We’ve launched the CBeebies app with two million downloads, the BBC Sport app with three million downloads, and the first 6Music festival was a resounding success next door in Trafford. That tells you a lot.” It’s an impressive list and the

Peter Salmon

metrics back it up. Audience consumption and approval levels are higher in the north of the country than they were before the move – a region which has historically felt somewhat disenfranchised from the Corporation. The BBC has also benefitted financially from the move, with the BBC’s Sports Department achieving £2million worth of production and cost savings since moving to Salford. “The most important thing is that we measure ourselves against what the audiences feel about us,” says Salmon. “People are watching and listening to our programmes more and becoming even more engaged with the BBC. They are the clear and quantifiable results that show we are getting things right.” He’s sitting on the fift h floor of Quay House, looking out over MediaCity and reflecting on the content that has come out of BBC North to high acclaim, with pride, but also a feeling of unfinished business – with further aims of

delivering more benefits to the region, increasing the quality and services for all audiences across the country and squeezing more financial benefits, all high on his agenda. But the journey to the BBC North of today – an awe-inspiring building where almost 3,000 staff now mingle between thriving news desks, space-age style meeting pods and live studios – hasn’t been plain sailing. Asked about the biggest challenge of the move, Salmon’s response is automatic: “The recruitment of 1,000 people, together with making sure that our staff moving up from London, was given the best care and attention.” Looking at the ratios, it’s obvious why. For an initial 700 jobs the BBC received 70,000 applications. “It was scary,” he says. “But we just had to be very clear on the culture we wanted to create, the values we have and the


attitudes we wanted here with us. “We can be leaders of the digital age in the north of England but we need the right people that are going to thrive in our business and get the message out there that this is a wonderful region with huge opportunities.” While Salmon could be described as an old boy of the BBC – he worked for the Corporation in 1981 as a trainee but left and returned, first in 1997 and again in 2006 – he’s determined in his mission to create a fresh attitude to jobs at the BBC. “It’s about not getting too self– important, not forgetting your roots and not losing touch with how people live their lives every day in all sorts of occupations and places,” he says. “Doing this job is like being an explorer; you should be fascinated by different towns, cities, professions and ways of life. Hopefully you can bring that back and plug it into the BBC. After all, the BBC is meant to be here for everybody, so the more experience of that you can get, the better.”

The headache for most of Britain’s bosses, staff churn, is a positive for the BBC North chief. “I think it’s great that people come and go in the BBC,” he says. “If someone comes to me and says they have been offered an opportunity elsewhere, on the most part I will say go for it. I think it’s really important to stay dynamic. “I know there are a lot of talented people looking to join us here. I think the BBC should be about growing the next generation of talent all the time. We should be confident enough to do that. “That’s part of what public service broadcasting is all about. It’s not just about looking after the same people for 25 or 30 years, though that is important too.” Everything about BBC North, including recruitment and the design of the building, is focused on openness, fluidity and putting “digital” at the heart of output. “I wanted it to feel more collaborative, more fluid and more accessible to audiences because I think that’s what the modern media should be like and I think that’s what the north needed,” he says. “In the north you can’t be too grand. I like being on an open site; it’s great that licence-fee payers can stick their noses up against the window and spot Stuart Maconie, Louise Minchin or Nicky Campbell. “I like that; there’s something more democratic, open and levelling about that and I think that suits the north. You can’t get ideas above your station in the north and I think that’s good for the BBC because the BBC can get a bit up itself. The north helps us put the BBC in a better place.”


March 2014

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OH MY BLOG: IT’S 20! By Katherine Lofthouse

THIS YEAR blogging turns 20 and, from our bedrooms to our businesses, it’s got a few reasons to celebrate! A combination of “web” and “logging”, a blog is – in its simplest form – a medium of writing online. Styles range widely from diary-esque, to humorous, to informative, and anyone can start one about anything. Over the last 20 years a strong community has built up around it, making it a quick and effective way of sharing information. We’ve taken the blog – or maybe more accurately, it has taken us – further than any one of us could go alone. In fact, today’s blogosphere ranges from business-minded, to barmy, to the

outright bizarre. The earliest blogs were simple, taking the form of an online journal that just a few whizz-kids had the capacity and time to put together regularly. But 20 years on, and with platforms such as Wordpress and Tumblr enabling even the biggest technophobes to pen their thoughts into HTML, it’s easy to create a blog that gives otherwise voiceless entities their very own spotlight. Whether it’s hungover owls, cats with their heads in bread or a site dedicated purely to fantastic sandwiches, every subject matter you could think of can work as a blog. Even Martha Stewart’s French bulldogs, Francesca and Sharkey, have one. CEO of hosting and colocation firm UKFast, Lawrence Jones, began blogging in 2006 and has

built up a strong online community that not only boosts his web presence but drives business leads. “Blogging isn’t just a fantastic networking platform; it shows people the personality behind your business,” he says. “People might think they know the business inside out, but until they know you and the things you’re interested in, that’s not the case. “Blogging lets me share my passions, opinions and stories and that leads to interactions with like-minded people. “Plus, it’s a two-way stream; while people might look to my blog for business inspiration, I look to others for entertainment and to distract myself from work. I love engaging through my blog, offering advice and hearing other people’s stories to inspire my own.”

In many ways the blog has revolutionised the writing landscape, and empowered people who may not otherwise have had an online voice to become vocal authorities on subjects; as they’re often writing without an underlying agenda, it can also afford bloggers a freedom and reliability that other publications don’t have. These days, if you want to be taken seriously in a particular field – especially within writing or journalism – having a blog is essential. It’s a way of getting noticed, consistently showcasing your work, and building up engagement with a community; basically doing what a company would want you to do on a smaller scale. Blogging is evolving, generating other user platforms such as vlogging, Twitter and Snapchat as it becomes even more popular. But what makes a blog brilliant? You tell us.

Catching up on the Econsultancy blog is my daily ritual. It’s crammed full of detailed digital marketing information of all stripes, plus lots of hands-on critique. There are lots of laughs to be had, too, if you can get your head around the idea that online marketing can be funny. Steve Barnes, managing director, Netvouchercodes



I’ve been following John Gruber’s Daring Fireball technology blog since I came across it in 2002. It’s a perceptively castigatory blog in the IT sphere, that is well known for its daring criticisms on society and tech themes. Extremely informative, sardonic, astute and always entertaining! Declan Flanders, company director, E247

Whether your interests lie in online purchasing psychology, emerging web technologies or the use of social media to improve your business, you should put Neil Patel’s QuickSprout on your radar. It’s one of my favourite destinations for picking up great ideas and improving knowledge. Stephen Tucker, founder, Bunting Website Personalisation Technologies





Anthony Mathews’ Dear Customer Relations is dedicated solely to witty complaint letters and is exactly what a blog should be: a little bit eccentric and massively entertaining. Mathews not only built himself a dedicated online audience from his collection of complaints, but is now in the process of publishing a book based on them. Stacey Cavanagh, head of search, Tecmark


The Next Web blog is always my morning reading material. It’s an international network of blogs combining the world of technology and business – basically my life! With topics ranging from the hottest start-ups to companies pushing the boundaries with technology, the content is always fresh and dynamic, from people who know their stuff. Karl Barker, CEO, Cube 3

a special report on lifestyle and business, created by ukfast and distributed with the sunday telegraph

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March 2014

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13 Jonathan Bowers and Emma McClelland

As UKFast ranks once again in the Sunday Times Best Companies list, Jonathan Bowers, managing director, and Neil Lathwood, IT director, explain how the firm uses innovation to drive growth and why even greengrocers should have their own film team… THE LINK between innovation and growth is one that many businesses, especially in the digital industry, have embraced wholeheartedly, but what do we mean by innovation and what steps can a company take to really benefit from it? Sitting with UKFast’s managing and IT directors in a meeting space surrounded by plants – flanked by waterfalls and accessible by a bridge – feels like a good place to start when it comes to answering these questions! After all, innovation is one of the firm’s core values. “It’s interesting,” Bowers starts, over the trickling of the water fountains. “For years, we’ve employed really clever people to offer telephone support and look after clients. A lot of them enjoyed doing their own pet projects in the background, and I think it’s a recognition and encouraging of these projects that’s led to some of our most innovative solutions. “Being able to come out with innovative products that other businesses don’t have is something we’ve put a structure to over the last year,” says Bowers. So, what does the company innovate? Original, breakthrough

ideas or incremental changes that improve existing products and services? For UKFast, it’s a bit of both, as Lathwood explains. “Creating something new might equate to an adaptation of something else or an amalgamation of multiple products or open-source codes that are out there already,” he points out. “Our first question is always ‘what do the clients want?’ or ‘how can we make things easier for them?’ and sometimes that simply means adapting something, creating a soft ware way of doing things that’s currently done by hardware, for example. “In many situations, however, making people’s lives easier demands the creation of something new, such as load balancers. Years ago, we were the first people to take open-source systems, put that soft ware with hardware and create hardware load-balancers that managed the resource across more than one dedicated server. There were theories about how it could be done but nobody was doing it in our environment so we were first to market with it.” Evidence of similarly innovative products and services can be

By Emma McClelland

seen across the UKFast portfolio. For example, it was the first to create a load testing tool to help clients determine whether their IT infrastructure could cope with peaks in traffic, finding out how much a website could take before it crashed. Knowing how much hosting power is needed for the demand they might experience is hugely important for businesses, especially those in ecommerce. But the path to innovation is not as simple as “ready, steady, innovate!” Companies must nurture innovation and work it into the very fabric of their culture over time. At UKFast this has been achieved, in part, through empowering people. This is why many are working as directors of a department; people one might describe as internal entrepreneurs, such as the director of communications who created an internal PR agency and editorial team. But how did such an innovative culture come about? Started in a back bedroom with little more than £2,000, UKFast grew because its founders, Lawrence and Gail

Jones, ploughed profit back into the business. “Every time they came up against having to invest in new systems or hosting products, they chose to create them rather than buy them ‘off-the-shelf’,” Lathwood recalls. “We built our own systems because we had to and now the business itself is able to grow at the rate it does and do things like building its own data centres. It’s because we have this margin within the company as a result of our own in-house soft ware allowing us to do things more efficiently than anybody else.” There is no doubt that for businesses in the digital and technology industries, innovation is hugely relevant, but what about other kinds of companies? How can they embrace innovation? “We’ve always said, even if we were a greengrocers, we’d have a fi lm team,” concludes Bowers. “Innovation can be about how you decide to share your products, tell your stories and build relationships. It’s important to communicate with people in the best way and, as new possibilities come up, think about how you can best present your identity as a business.”

Innovate to accumulate? Innovation is a great driver of growth, but what about business value? Catherine Houghton, mergers and acquisitions director at UKFast, looks at innovation from another angle.

“The most successful and valuable businesses are those that constantly innovate, particularly in the fast-moving technology sector where competitors will always be snapping at your heels. Business valuation is typically determined by applying a multiple to current profits, with highly innovative businesses usually commanding a much higher multiple than their less innovative competitors. Apple is a good example. It’s one of the most valuable businesses in the world, and just look how its share price moves each time a new product is announced! In my experience businesses generally don’t stand still; they are either going forward or backwards. Without innovation, it’s often the latter.”


a special report on lifestyle and business, created by ukfast and distributed with the sunday telegraph

March 2014

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Helen Glover, gold medallist, and (left) with Olympic rowing partner Heather Stanning

blabFM Free Android, iOS Blabsta

Me and my tech Helen Glover Helen was one of the most prominent sporting stars to emerge from the 2012 London Olympic Games, typifying the ideal that hard work breeds success. Alongside her rowing partner, Heather Stanning, Helen wrote herself into the British history books by not only winning Team GB’s first gold of the Games, but by claiming British Rowing’s first ever women’s gold medal. She is currently in training to defend her Olympic crown in Rio 2016, along with adding more awards to her everincreasing haul. What are your must-have technologies? When I’m training I definitely have to have an iPod with me. We can be on the

rowing machine for hours every week so listening to music is really crucial to my training because it gets me through. I need my phone with me at all times, because it has all the apps I could want. Inside the boats, we have a speed coach tool which tells us how fast we’re going and how many strokes we’re making every minute. What do you use technology for most? I don’t have much elaborate technology in my personal life, but I use Twitter and Facebook a fair bit. When we’re away it can be quite isolating as training camps are usually in the middle of nowhere, but smartphones mean you can get in touch with your friends and family from anywhere in the world – whether it’s by text or via Skype – which is really nice. What part does technology play in sport? I think it’s really important to use up-to-date technology. When you look into what it takes to be an athlete, you’ll see that behind the scenes there is a lot of technology being used that people don’t ever realise. Every session uses stopwatches, but then there’s more

hi-tech stuff like biomechanics on our boats. It clocks our power output and shows how well we’re rowing. There’s stuff that maybe I don’t use every day, but that is absolutely vital to coaches. Technology is always developing, just like everything else in sport. What’s the biggest benefit of having technology at your fingertips? Having numbers, measurements and times is really useful. Technology can tell you if you’re becoming stronger and faster, or if you’re falling behind. But I think you must be careful to step away from technology sometimes, and think about how you actually feel rather than what the computer is telling you. Its best use is when it’s helping you to improve what you already do well. If you could have just one piece of technology what would it be? I cannot imagine sitting on a rowing machine with no music, it would be so mind-numbing! So, I’d have to say my beloved iPod. Follow Helen on Twitter @Helenglovergb to keep up-to-date with her training and races

Executive tech ICEdot Crash Sensor The 2014 ISPO award-winning ICEdot Crash Sensor is at the forefront of cycling safety. In the event of an accident, it uses motion and impact detection sensors paired with your smartphone to alert up to 10 pre-registered contacts. They’re given a map of your exact location and any medical information needed. £139.99

blabFM is the best of Snapchat and WhatsApp combined, offering real time text and media messaging, with the option to send a message that automatically deletes after a short period of time. It’s fun, and it’s fast!

ClubHouse QMTech Ltd. Taking away the headache of organising sports teams to train and meet for matches in the right place is ClubHouse. The web app notifies users who need to signify their availability and informs them if they’ve made the team, so you don’t need to ring around and gather the squad yourself.

Epicuri Free Android, iOS from the end of March

AztecMedia Skycam AztecMedia Skycam provides affordable, highdefinition aerial video and photography using the latest technology and equipment in radio-controlled drones. Covering all areas across the UK and Europe, this CAA licensed and fully insured drone provides you with truly amazing footage to use in promotional business videos. Prices Vary

ThinkTouchSee Book a table, order a takeaway, call for service, order another drink and ask for the bill, using Epicuri. Built to enhance the dining experience, Epicuri brings guests and restaurants closer together at the touch of a button.

a special report on lifestyle and business, created by ukfast and distributed with the sunday telegraph

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debate What’s the key to a successful website?

Oliver Yeates CEO ClickyMedia

Senior web developer Adeo Group

Pam Turner

Chris Buckley Founder Pixel Kicks

Founder and director Selesti Ltd

A CLEAR, simple and intuitive navigational system is arguably the most important element of any successful website. As Albert Einstein said, “The best design is the simplest one that works.” This could not be truer when you look at website navigation. Your users should immediately and intuitively feel they understand how to work your website, without guidance. Failure to find the particular page or resource they were looking for within three or four seconds will almost certainly take your users back to Google, and they’ll end up using a competitor’s resource instead. You should consider the user’s thought process – not just your own – when building your navigational system. A good system starts with intelligent content structuring, so grouping content that the user associates together is very important. To truly understand how easy your website is to navigate requires testing. Try to find a group of users which match your target audience and set them a task to carry out a certain process or locate a particular page within your website. Observe and take note. If it’s easy, your navigational system works. If it’s a struggle for them, it will be a struggle for your wider audience, so find out why they struggled and try to understand why. Once you’ve perfected it, you won’t look back. Website analytics programmes such as Google Analytics are useful to monitor common process “dropoffs” – or pages with a particularly high exit rate – so use them to nip that possibility in the bud.

THE MOST crucial part of designing a functional website is getting its foundations right. It’s a commonly overlooked part of the overall construction process, but getting your CSS – or cascading style sheets – grid framework correct is vital to further the technological development and management of the website from both developer and client perspectives. The CSS grid framework is an invisible foundation that provides a structure to the websites we design and develop. It is extremely beneficial for building page layouts, as it allows faster and more efficient workflow, which saves time for developers. It’s consistent, reusable, and eliminates the need to uniquely style the positioning of every element on the page. It saves repetition and brings benefits to performance and optimisation, too. Never underestimate the importance of your coding, though. If the dimensions are miscalculated, the layout will break which will result in page anomalies – a headache you, and your clients, can do without. It’s getting easier to create a CSS grid framework. There are a multitude of online tools available that allow you to plug in your preferred column and gutter widths that automatically generate the full grid for you! Increasingly, developers are using CSS framework to generate responsive grids, which enables web pages to use a range of style rules, flexible images and fluid grids. It’s becoming a vital tool, as it empowers websites to automatically adjust to a full range of mobile and tablet screens. And when consumer demand for on-the-go devices continues to grow, responsive design framework is something your clients will now require as a necessity.

IT’S MORE than likely that people who know their way around a website use a content management system – or CMS for short – to update its content. Whether you do or don’t, you cannot underestimate how essential a CMS is to a modern-day website. With blogs increasing in popularity all the time, systems such as Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal are seeing huge growth. Wordpress in particular now powers approximately 20 per cent of the entire web alone. CMS gives end-users huge advantages, as they can manage and update everything they wish from a single control panel. Whether this is simply changing a phone number, adding some new photos to a gallery, or posting a news update on your company’s latest products, the possibilities are endless. Being personally able to control the content of a website is extremely useful, and though a CMS-powered website may cost more in the beginning, the cost-saving implications of not having to pay your web designer for every single update are obvious. It’s money I’m sure you’d rather have in your back pocket. Most common systems work using “plugins” or “modules”, and there are hundreds if not thousands of free available plugins that can completely revolutionise your website. Whether you want to improve your SEO, add a fancy new gallery, or send emails to all your customers, you can do all this, and more. It sounds advanced, but with a CMS, it’s easy. Content management systems also help us build websites more quickly, so it’s a win/win situation for everyone. It’s very rare that we’d create a new website without one!

WE ALL know there’s little point in having a website if no one actually sees it. SEO is the key tool to attract visitors to your website, and that’s why we’ve got a rapidly expanding team of search marketing specialists, who focus solely on that. In a nutshell, SEO can be defined as the process of improving your website in order to increase the amount of traffic it receives. On every new website project, the Selesti development and search marketing teams work in tandem to make sure that the finished products we deliver to our clients are fully optimised for search purposes, from the first line of code to the last. One of many ways to achieve great SEO is by building websites to be responsive; our design process is mobile first in most cases. This way, the site will adapt to whatever size screen it is being displayed on, negating the need for separate mobile, tablet and desktop versions of the website. When people are increasingly accessing the internet on the go, our clients need to know their website is accessible to everyone, on every device. The result is seamless user experience which is beneficial for SEO. We’re big fans of social media and its advantages for digital marketing, which is why we include social sharing functionality wherever possible, too. Social is a great platform for boosting views, which is just what our clients require. Perfecting SEO is an ongoing process, but our search marketing team are constantly fine-tuning the technical side of things while also producing new and informative content for our search clients, to attract more visitors and increase engagement.

Editorial contacts

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Ollie Blackmore

Eric Sink, The Business of Software This selection of essays from the author’s blog, each written between October 2003 and April 2005, is all related to the subject of running a small software company. It’s informative, friendly and gently humorous. The chapter on marketing is almost a handbook for my job! Saul Painter, marketing executive, Macrium Software

Robert T Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad If we could only have one business book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by personal finance author and lecturer Robert T Kiyosaki would be it. Using his unique economic perspective, Kiyosaki clearly shows logic in financial planning, and taking control of your life and finances, drawing from his own experiences. John Stevenson, director, Pareto Financial Planning

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