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#FindYourNiche September/October 2020

CROSS PRODUCTIONS

GROWTH MARKETING IN ANIMATED TIMES

First Impressions

Tapping into consumer psychology

Driving Economic Recovery Business advice from industry leaders

Call in the Coaches

As we explore different coaching styles


Reaching client goals and exceeding expectations across the East Midlands


Helping you navigate the marketing minefield

There are hundreds of ways in which a company can be marketed The key is finding the right avenue for you and your business

SPECIALISING IN: Magazines, Newsletters & Publishing LinkedIn Training & Management Social Media Management Private Events including Round Table Lunches & Executive Dinner Debates Niche Business Awards

If you would like a marketing overview, email coffee@crossproductions.co.uk and we will arrange a FREE 30 minute consultation with one of our Lead Generation Specialists

or call the office on 0116 271 2573


THE TEAM

LEANNE LATHAM

JENNY CROSS

SALLY SMITH

CEO

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

MARKETING DIRECTOR

jenny@crossproductions.co.uk

leanne@crossproductions.co.uk

sally@crossproductions.co.uk

SUSAN HOLMES

KERRY SMITH

EMILY MILLER

HEAD OF DESIGN STUDIO

EDITOR

SENIOR JOURNALIST

susan.holmes@crossproductions.co.uk

Kerry@crossproductions.co.uk

emily.miller@crossproductions.co.uk

BECCI HOULSTON

SIAN COOLEY

HEAD OF DIGITALbecci@

DIGITAL ACCOUNT MANAGER

crossproductions.co.uk

sian@crossproductions.co.uk

NICHE

is the trade mark of Cross Productions and used under license by Jennifer Cross. All rights reserved. No reproduction, copying or otherwise without permission.

TRACEY HUNTER

STACEY WRAGG

LEAD GENERATION CONSULTANT

LEAD GENERATION CONSULTANT

tracey@crossproductions.co.uk

stacey@crossproductions.co.uk

nichemagazineuk

@magazineniche

0116 271 2573 nichemagazine.co.uk info@crossproductions.co.uk

#FindYourNiche


A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

Photography & Video courtesy of: Hitz Rao Photography 0116 246 0475 Catherine Baker catherine@indigobluemedia.co.uk

Disclaimer – Niche Magazine and Cross Productions Ltd are fully protected by copyright; no part of this magazine may be reproduced or reprinted without the complete and expressed permission of the publisher. The greatest care has been taken to ensure accuracy, however there can be no liability accepted by the publisher for errors and omissions. We can under no circumstance be held responsible for any materials, matter or photographical copy submitted for publication or not within the website or magazine. We cannot be held responsible or liable for any breaches of copyright from adverts, materials or photography or any other such material supplied by a third party. The views and opinions expressed within our publications are not necessarily those of the publisher or indeed Niche Magazine or any featured parties.

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Published by Cross Productions Ltd 17 Mandervell Road, Oadby, Leicester LE2 5LR info@crossproductions.co.uk

J

ust after we went to print with our July/August issue, Leicester entered a local lockdown. As a bi-monthly magazine, although we strived to see that all content would hold its relevance throughout the past two turbulent months, we couldn’t have predicted this unfathomable turn of events. It meant many of our articles, which were planned as timely as possible, were somewhat out of date! We previously spoke with Cultural Quarter restaurant Orton’s Brasserie about their plans for opening on July 4, only to hear the devastating news just after we printed at the end of June, that those plans were no longer possible. We caught up with head chef Andrew Greasley this issue for the latest now that Orton’s is up and running. This issue, we bring you a truly exceptional panel of industry leaders, all of whom have given up time to contribute to a new feature designed to help advise, support and help lead Leicester to economic recovery. The columnists have written about factors affecting employment and recruitment, financial aids available to businesses, and more. You can send in your queries concerning coronavirus-affected subjects for our columnists’ consideration to myself kerry@crossproductions.co.uk. I am proud and nervous to see the team and I on the cover. In all our seven years, this is the first time we, as a business, have taken the stage. You can read all about it on page 56 explaining the reasoning behind the image chosen for the front of issue 39. The animated cover pictures the team behind the pages of Niche Magazine – the personnel from our parent company, Cross Productions. I interviewed CEO Jenny Cross on how the company has coped, as well as each head of department’s top tips from social media management through to advert design. We have some inspiring reads within several spotlight features this issue, including First Impressions for businesses, Engaging Experiences for marketing planning, and Call in the Coaches exploring the effectiveness of coaching and different coaching styles. The finalists of the Niche Business Awards are also published. The Meet the Finalists section contains some of the fantastic entrants to make it through to the final round of judging. We hope you are staying safe as the local lockdown areas are slowly released, as we venture back out to our favourite places.


Contents SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2020

#FindYourNiche September/October 2020

CROSS PRODUCTIONS

GROWTH MARKETING IN ANIMATED TIMES

ISSUE 39

56 DRIVING LEICESTER’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY 14

Leicester professionals offer advice and support

CALL IN THE COACHES 34

Business coach asks you to face the facts

34

How to get started on your transformational journey

35

The importance of soft skills

36

“It’s time to be brave”

First Impressions

Tapping into consumer psychology

Driving Economic Recovery Business advice from industry leaders

Call in the Coaches

Exploring different coaching styles

ON THE COVER 56

Cross Productions, Niche’s parent company, takes the stage

Cover Image Cross Productions Photographed by Hitz Rao at Hitz Rao Photography 0116 246 0475

38 Support for social organisations 38

Asking you what you want to achieve

39

How to form a habit for life

40 New group coaching opportunities

ENGAGING EXPERIENCES 61 Using photography to engage consumers 65 The SEO know-how

NICHE BUSINESS AWARDS 2020 51

Meet the finalists

53

A perfumer-alchemist’s journey

53

Rhino Apps is leaving no SME behind

54 Will writing company is the only finalist in three categories 55

Charity founder up for prestigious award

55

The secret behind this new hair salon

TECH FIRST IMPRESSIONS 42

Inviting guests to your office

44

The technical side of interior design

44

Who are your real competitors in business?

45

Understanding who your client really is

66

Investment choices during a pandemic

67

Increasing website conversion with live chat

67

How to select the right website host

68

New app for disabled community


42

88

LEGAL 29

Multi-award winning firm’s journey to success

31 32

10

Your business support guide

updates

President of the Leicestershire Law Society tells her story

12

Is virtual learning the new norm?

84

Commercial law opportunities post-pandemic

BUSINESS

FINANCE 21

New read: ‘Taxation of Company Reorganisation’

21 Advice for businesses in debt 25

Securing your most tax-efficient future

27 Financial planning for families 27

Pitfalls for landlords

46 Recruiting with a ‘millennial mindset’ 47

Tech lessons for the isolated

48

Start-up business advice

50

Outsourcing post-pandemic

HEALTH & BEAUTY 70

The Nuffield Health and NHS agreement

72

Eye health

85

Wedding day fairy tales

BUSINESS NEWS

HOME

08 Charity receives major investment

76

Garden design company turns 10

09

What’s new about New Walk Museum

77

Midlands lettings and sales agency named EMC Patrons

09

Leicester Business Festival

78

The latest property news and

The best ways to create open plan spaces

FOOD 86

Foodcourt

88

Getting to know the head chef at Orton’s Brasserie

CULTURE 93

‘Criminal Intent’ – an interview with Leicestershire’s Police Chief Constable Simon Cole

CHARITY 93

Leicester Merch Aid initiative supports businesses

95

The inspiring story behind two sisters’ care business

96

Take part in this charity’s cycle challenge around the Wild Atlantic Way

97

Focus charity’s new way to donate


BUSINESS NEWS LEICESTERSHIRE

Pall-Ex named Silver Employer by Ministry of Defence Pall-Ex has won the coveted Silver Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) award from the Ministry of Defence for its support of the Armed Forces community. The logistics giant has actively supported ex-military personnel by providing jobs and training since signing the Armed Forces Covenant and reaching bronze status in 2019. Pall-Ex is the only pallet network to achieve the silver standard and one of only 31 organisations in the East Midlands to hold the award. From its central hub in Coalville the company has implemented practical policies to promote roles in logistics to those who have served in the Armed Forces and their families, providing access to training and new careers. Kevin Buchanan, Pall-Ex Group CEO, said: “Pall-Ex is fully committed to being an Armed Forces employer and this recognition underlines the efforts we have made to support ex-military personnel with developing new careers in the logistics industry. “Many of our team members at Pall-Ex and around our network have joined us following successful careers in the army, navy or air force, bringing important skills to our entire operation. “We are indebted to all Armed Forces personnel for the contributions they have made to protect our country, so we believe it is our duty to provide new opportunities and rewarding roles; we continue to provide training and support to help the right candidates gain the qualifications they need. “Throughout our network we have HGV drivers who trained for their Class 1 driver’s licence while in the Armed Forces and are now utilising those skills in civilian life. “We are also continuing our charity partnership with Combat Stress, who provide vital mental health support services to veterans.” 08 | NICHE

Bodie Hodges Foundation receives major investment The Bodie Hodges Foundation has received a significant donation which propels its growth plans forward by five years. The generous funding boost was awarded by businessman Anthony Clark, who is currently in the process of setting up a charitable trust to support carefully selected charities across the Midlands. Currently, the charity supports families bereaved of a child up to the age of 18. With this core funding, it will now be able to support families up to the age of 25 by employing an additional Bereavement Practitioner. The foundation was founded in 2012 by Nick and Donna Hodges, following the death of their 10 month old child, Bodie. Donna said: “Supporting families who go on to have a baby after the death of their child is close to my heart as we have had two more children following Bodie’s death. It is a scary time and brings all sorts of anxieties, but to the outside world you look so blessed to be pregnant or to have another baby. We want to offer support to these families by introducing 121 sessions, group sessions and a playgroup.” The funding has also enabled

the Bodie Hodges Foundation to purchase a building that will become ‘The Bodie Hodges Centre’ as well as covering all core costs for the next three years. Nick said: “The building is a dream come true and will enable us to develop existing services and put into action our longer-term plans of support for families. We are now able to expand our team, knowing our core costs are covered, and it will enable us to focus all of our future fundraising purely on funding the services we provide.” The donation comes at an essential time during the pandemic. Although the charity has not been able to offer all services as usual during the current pandemic, they have noticed that lockdown has created an increased level of anxiety among grieving families. Donna added: “We will never be able to thank Anthony enough for the support he has offered and belief he has shown in us.” Anthony said: “It’s our pleasure to help such a brilliant cause. No family should have to go through the death of a child, and Nick and Donna should be proud of how many families they have already supported through such difficult times.


New Walk Museum has reopened, but not as we once knew it Leicester’s flagship museum reopened in August with a new website, a new online booking system, and even a new name. New Walk museum opened its doors again to the public on Monday, August 17 – but under the name Leicester Museum and Art Gallery. The Leicester City Council website says it has changed its name to demonstrate that it is Leicester’s leading museum, and to help people from outside the city if they are searching online for Leicester museums.” Its reopening came as lockdown restrictions were eased and the city council were able to reopen some of its businesses, allowing it to increase access to its services. Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair, who leads on culture, leisure and sports, told Leicester City Council: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our museum. We’ve spent lockdown creating a new website and putting measures in place to ensure both staff and visitors can be safe.

“We’re reopening with a new name for our flagship museum, a brand new website and a couple of exciting exhibitions which together will appeal to a wide range of visitors. “Leicester’s museums have so much to offer – so while things may look and feel a little different, we’re delighted to be opening up our doors again to showcase our many varied and fascinating stories, artefacts and displays.” Funded by Arts Council England, the new website features useful information around all of the museums in Leicester. It also helpfully includes the details of visiting and permanent exhibitions and displays. In line with government advice and guidelines, visitors at the museum are requested to book on the new website before they arrive. Leicester Museum and Art Gallery will be open from 11am to 4.30pm on weekdays and from 11am to 5pm at weekends. Visitors can book on leicestermuseums.org.

Business Festival looks to re-energise Leicestershire business community The Leicester Business Festival (LBF) will be taking place from November 2-12 this year, and it’s set to be the most important in its six-year history. With the rapidly changing global situation relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 festival looks likely to take on a new role in addition to its usual functions, centred around challenging, stimulating and aiding business growth and placing the region’s business community as a national leader. LBF is ready and prepared to adapt to uncertainty and is seeking to offer a ‘hybrid’ festival, where event

organisers have the opportunity to ‘go digital’ and live-stream their events via the LBF website, whilst also holding them physically (within guidelines of the government at that time). Alister de Ternant, managing director of Associate Events, the agency managing the LBF programme, said: “After months of challenging down time for many, firms will be looking for something to reunite, revitalise and showcase the business scene and this is exactly what the LBF was designed to do. “For both attendees and event organisers, the LBF will be a way to get

out and about again, bringing muchneeded positivity to Leicester and Leicestershire, its businesses and its economy. “Although I have no doubt this will take many months if not years to get back to any sense of ‘normality’, we hope that the LBF [off and online] can be a catalyst for re-energising Leicestershire’s phenomenally critical business community and support it throughout this essential period.” NICHE | 09


Howzat! Leicester hits back with Business Support Help is available for reopening businesses – here’s where to find it WORDS BY CITY CENTRE DIRECTOR, SARAH HARRISON

I

t has been a challenging time for Leicester businesses who have endured a longer lockdown period than the rest of the country. Welcome news came from the Government when they announced that hospitality businesses, hairdressers and barbers could reopen from August 3, 2020. For companies looking for help and advice, a good starting point is the Leicestershire Business Gateway Growth Hub. They provide a comprehensive overview of the range of resources and guidance to ensure businesses feel supported and are prepared to act quickly as the current situation unfolds.

10 | NICHE

LEICESTERSHIRE BUSINESS GATEWAY GROWTH HUB You will find useful information to guide you through areas such as employment and benefits support with advice on housing, furlough, sick pay and self-employment, redundancy, recruitment, and health and wellbeing. The section on financial support provides details of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme and grants you may be eligible for. If you need help to navigate your way around these schemes, then you can speak to a business advisor, a Business Mentor Champion, or book a one-on-one online support appointment. The Growth Hub is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. bizgateway.org.uk/our-services/support/coronaviruscovid-19


BUSINESS NEWS

LEICESTER REOPENING SUPPORT GUIDE PICNIC POP UP ON GREEN DRAGON SQUARE Leicester has a new Picnic Pop Up area to add to the outdoor café seating in the city centre to support the food and drink businesses. The Picnic Pop Up is open seven days a week, Monday-Saturday 11am – 7pm and Sunday 11am – 5pm and entry is free. Green Dragon Square is between the Knight & Garter and Leicester Market and the Picnic Pop Up will be in place until October. Find out more on visitleicester.info.

GRANTS FOR BUSINESSES THAT COMPLETE CUSTOMS DECLARATIONS

A national grant scheme funding recruitment, training and IT improvements. gov.uk/guidance/grants-for-businesses-that-completecustoms-declarations

BUSINESS GROWTH HUB EVENTS A wide range of useful business support, free webinars including access to finance, marketing advice, employee empowerment and wellbeing and courageous conversations. bizgateway.org.uk/events

Leicester City Council is helping to support our valued business community by offering advice, grant funding and other initiatives. The information in this document provides details of a range of business support available across the city. Some of the schemes are outlined below. For an overview of the support and guidance available from Leicester City Council please to go: leicester.gov.uk/your-council/coronavirus/ leicester-reopening-guidance-and-plan

Shop Front Improvement Grant

Grants of up to £5k are available to improve the appearance and image of premises. You will need to demonstrate that there would be a marked improvement to your business frontage. For further details on the criteria please visit: leicester.gov.uk/ business/start-up-and-growth/invest-in-leicester/ shop-front-improvement-grant

One Year Street Café Licence - Free

Social distancing measures that have been put in place in local shopping areas in the city provide the opportunity for some businesses to apply for a new temporary licence that is free from Leicester City Council. There is also one year free funding for existing street café licence holders. leicester.gov.uk/ business/licences-and-permits/transport-and-streetlicences-and-permits/temporary-street-cafe-licence

Street Café Furnishings Grant

We understand that putting in place necessary social distancing measures impacts on the number of customers that can be accommodated. To support the reopening of cafés, restaurants and bars, grants of up to £4k are available to businesses that have been granted a street café licence to pay for additional external seating requirements such as tables, chairs, canvas barriers, and so on. leicester.gov.uk/yourcouncil/coronavirus/coronavirus-business-supportgrant-funding/street-cafe-furnishings-grant

Business Active and Sustainable Travel Grant

Leicester City Council Walking & Cycling Team is offering a number of free initiatives including business travel grants up to £5k. For an application form and support package please go to: choosehowyoumove. co.uk/businesses/leicester-city-businesses You will be able to find the latest Government updates for Leicester here: gov.uk/guidance/closing-certainbusinesses-and-venues-in-leicester If you require further advice on business reopening support after having read the website information, please email Leicester City Council at enterprisingleicester@leicester.gov.uk. INFORMATION CORRECT AT THE TIME OF GOING TO PRINT NICHE | 11


Virtual learning: the new norm for Business Gateway We catchup with the Business Gateway Growth Hub to find out about their free webinar support

A

series of webinars have been developed throughout lockdown that are helping businesses to restart and begin trading again. The programme, developed by the Business Gateway Growth Hub, delivers sessions on a variety of essential topics that have evolved with the progression of the current pandemic. The Business Gateway Growth Hub is a single place where you can access free, impartial and comprehensive business support, one-to-one advice as well as the Growth Hub’s capital grants of between £2,000 and £25,000 for small and medium-sized enterprises in Leicester and Leicestershire. A team of 11 skilled business advisers are on hand, many of whom have experience of running their own business or held significant roles in commercial organisations.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: ANN COOK, BUSINESS ADVISER, WITH THE EVENTS TEAM ELLA MISTRY AND JAY LAD AT LOVE BUSINESS, FEBRUARY 2020, BEFORE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

12 | NICHE


BUSINESS NEWS

The webinars are managed by Jay Lad and Ella Mistry, using the Microsoft Teams platform to deliver a wide range of webinar topics. Jay said: “We had to react quickly to the lockdown situation, turning our face-to-face workshops into an extensive online webinar programme. It was essential to continue our support to businesses at this crucial time and ensure owners, managers and employees could keep developing their skills and knowledge remotely. “The programme has been designed to address the key skills needed to run and develop or grow a successful business, with a wide range of topics available to choose from.” Ella continued: “The webinar programme covers a full range of business topics to inform, educate and inspire. We’ve sourced experts in their respective fields to ensure you get the most out of every session.” Topics are varied and themed around core business areas including finance, customer service, operations, HR management, wellbeing, sales, and marketing. Sessions are informal and delegates can ask questions either directly to the presenter or through the chat function. The webinars certainly seem to be hitting the spot judging by some of the feedback received. Mohammed Essajee is a director at kitchen and bedroom manufacturing business Interiors by Design in Wigston. He attended the strategy planning webinar ‘How to use the Business Model Canvas’ with presenter Steve Hobbs. He said: “I’ve been in business for a long time. However, I’ve never looked at processes, systems and long term planning. I am now seriously working on this after attending a Growth Hub webinar. Steve was a good presenter and it was all quite relevant to my business as I am looking to take it to the next level.” The Business Gateway is also running webinars focused on how to reopen your business successfully, by following the Covid-19 secure guidelines, led by legal and health and safety experts, and prominent local businesses – all advising how they are, or will, be reopening their businesses safely. Jay added: “Businesses have had to adapt very quickly over the past few months and so have we. Our topics have changed to ensure we are offering the right support to meet the demands of the current situation. “We’ve run sessions such as ‘How to work effectively from home’, and ‘How to make sure your business is Covid-19 Secure’ and looked forward with ‘Future-proofing your business model’. Our webinar programme will keep evolving as the situation changes and businesses begin to restart and trade again. We must ensure we can offer the right support, at the right time.” To find out more, simply take a look at the full webinar programme on their website at bizgateway.org.uk/events. The Business Gateway Growth Hub is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered in partnership by Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).

I’ve been in business for a long time. However, I’ve never looked at processes, systems and long term planning. I am now seriously working on this after attending a Growth Hub webinar MOHAMMED ESSAJEE, DIRECTOR AT INTERIORS BY DESIGN

NICHE | 13


Our Columnists

Revealing the latest views, opinions and insider information, professionals and experts in their fields cover the current subjects on the minds of local businesses and consumers during and postpandemic. A second lockdown meant Leicester fell behind in the recuperation of its economy. But, our county found a king in a car park, and our city beat 5,000/1 odds to win the Premier League, so our columnists are confident that communities can join forces to drive Leicester’s economic recovery. They provide thought-provoking, informative and inspiring commentary in a bid to support business leaders , assist the restart of companies across the county, and provide encouragement to those struggling to find their way.

Partner, The Miller Partnership

PETE MILLER

Have something on your mind? Write in to us to request a topic of discussion via kerry@crossproductions.co.uk.

Restructuring your business to adapt to the new normal

s we emerge from the global pandemic, you might be considering restructuring your business. It could be that financial pressures, brought about by the health crisis, mean you now need to look at different ways of facilitating vital extra funding. Alternatively, you might want to reorganise your share capital or change your company’s management structure to prepare the business for sale, perhaps as part of your succession planning. Whatever the reasons behind your decision to restructure or demerge, there are likely to be corporate tax implications, which means you must seek professional advice. 14 | NICHE

Financial Planner, Brewin Dolphin

Industry experts share their knowledge to help the businesses of Leicestershire pull through the effects of the pandemic

SCOTT CHARLISH

Driving economic recovery

Designing a financial roadmap

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives and as I write this piece today in early August, the local lockdown of Leicester is still in force for some areas. There has been a great deal written about the effects of the virus on our health, but judging by my inbox, the many new enquiries also indicate anxiety about how the fall in the value of investments affects individual financial plans for the future. What does this mean for you? Imagine that you’re five to ten years away from retirement. You’ve worked hard and got yourself into a good financial position. You’ve built up a decent war chest of investments and/or pensions. Before Covid-19, you were looking to be home and dry, as shown in the chart below. However, with the emergence of Covid-19, this would have reduced the value of your portfolio somewhat. You might now need to ask yourself: Will I have to work longer? Will I have to spend less?

20

20

30 25 35 20 20 20 Pension 1st person

50 40 45 20 20 20 Pension 2nd person

55 60 20 20 Liquid Assets

65

20

70

20

75

20

When it comes to demerging – breaking up your business into two or more smaller ones – the process should be quite straightforward. There are special exemptions and reliefs from tax which let you demerge pretty much tax-free, subject to certain conditions, so talk to your adviser. You must also be able to explain to HMRC why you want to break up your business as they will only allow a demerger if there are commercial reasons for it. One valid business reason might be that you want to sell your trade but retain ownership of your commercial premises. By setting up a demerger arrangement, you will be left with a property company and a separate trading company, which you can sell. To survive, let alone thrive, throughout lockdown, businesses have had to adapt to unprecedented economic conditions. It may be that you and your business partner don’t share the same vision as you adjust to the ‘new normal’ and would prefer to go your own ways. If this is the case, you might be advised to divide your shareholding into two. Splitting up the company and each taking your own share, is also a sensible option if you and your business partner are looking to sell up and retire and want to pass on your wealth to your respective children. We’re in uncharted waters, but professional help is available so talk to your tax adviser.


20

20

30 25 35 20 20 20 Pension 1st person

50 40 45 20 20 20 Pension 2nd person

55 60 20 20 Liquid Assets

65

20

70

20

75

20

This second chart shows the situation with no real market rebound and no strategic financial planning.

Partner, Charnwood Accountants

ANNA BROCKLEHURST

The role of a financial planner My job is to put this into a human context. It’s not just about the numbers, but what they mean to you, and how they affect your plans to live life on your terms. Good advisers will help give you clarity on the impact of this (or any other situation) on your long-term wellbeing. By having a plan in place, you can contextualise the impact of this downturn and explore your options, such as working longer, or reducing spending. Or perhaps alter your plan to show you other options, such as downsizing your main residence when you are 75, or reducing your lifestyle in later life. Of course, there are many other possible scenarios to explore that will be driven by your circumstances. Having personal/family goals is essential, but without a carefully managed plan they are less likely to happen. Now is the time to get organised, identify what you and your family want, and design a financial road map to get there.

Director, 2XL Commercial Finance

DARREN WILLOUGHBY

Easing your company’s financial burden

hose who read my earlier article re: CBILS and BBL loans and have taken this support, will soon be approaching the time when payments will need to be made. If you have used any of the schemes, or cashflow – which as anticipated is tight, what can you look to do to ease the burden on your business financially ? Capital raise The phrase ‘asset rich, cash poor’ has never been more pertinent. If cash is needed, then funds could be raised against property, debtor book or equipment within the business. Releasing capital out of these assets in the form of a loan or mortgage can then be invested back into your business and there is also a number of unsecured options available. Review your finances Many people presume they have to stick to their finance provider, but that is simply not the case and you can often move providers without penalty. A recent example I experienced was the owner of a fish and chop shop in a seaside town. They had borrowed £250k on commercial mortgage over 15 years at a rate of 14.2%, which meant payments of £3363 a month. This was reviewed and I managed to get the borrowing stretched to a 20 year term and a rate of 3.1% taking the monthly payments down to £1399 a month. It resulted in a saving of £1964 a month or £23568 per annum. By reducing the rate and stretching the term, the business cashflow was significantly improved. Interest-only options Quite simply, you may well be able to restructure your existing facilities from capital repayment to interest-only. This is delaying the repayment of the capital, but would allow some breathing space in the short term. A £250k facility at 5% on capital repayment over 10 years is £2651 per month (£31812 pa) but interest-only would be £1042 a month (£12504pa); again creating more breathing space for your cashflow.

Forecasting cashflow

e have all heard the adage cash is king! Knowing if and when you are going to run out of cash is so important to running a business and allows decisions and plans to be made. Compiling a detailed and accurate cashflow forecast is akin to a dark art, but having a basic cash gap identifier may not be as difficult as it seems. Here are my basic steps to compiling a simple and easy-touse cash gap identifier: 1. Opening cash balance for the month. 2. Deduct: Fixed costs inc VAT – what do you pay every month? Look at your standing orders and direct debits.

3. Deduct: Other costs inc VAT – wages, VAT, PAYE, purchases. If you are struggling to work these out, maybe work out from projected sales figures and use a percentage that seems appropriate. With purchases, remember payment terms. Purchases in August may not be paid until October. 4. Plus: Income – primarily sales but again, remember invoices raised in August may not be paid until October or even later. Also, in the current situation, remember to include furlough payments and any grant income. 5. Equals: Closing cash for the month – is this positive or negative? All costs and income should be the VAT-inclusive figure, as this is the cash that will flow into the business. Calculating VAT is difficult, but for the purposes of this basic exercise, you could use 20% of VAT-able sales and deduct 20% of VAT-able purchases to give a ball park figure. NICHE | 15


Managing Director, PPL PRS Ltd

ANDREA GRAY

How music affects your brain

oing about your day-to-day life, you’re more than likely to stick on your favourite playlist in the background. But have you ever stopped to consider how the music you listen to is affecting your brain? What genre aids productivity the most? There is no clear answer as to what genre of music best helps you to maintain focus, what you listen to should really be governed by what it is that you’re doing. Carrying out clear, repetitive tasks can often be a mundane experience, but listening to music while doing them can make these kinds of tasks more enjoyable. Listening to your favourite songs causes your brain to release dopamine, which improves your mood and reduces stress and anxiety. But how does your 16 | NICHE

Partner, Begbies Traynor

he great thing about a merger or an acquisition is, if it is thought out properly and executed well, it can deliver strong value and position your business for the future. Here are a few tips to help you to understand what you may need to consider when contemplating acquiring a readymade business. 1 Ensure the business being purchased adds value to your core values, core business and core strategy. If the acquisition does not add any value, then question why you are contemplating it. After all, you don’t want to buy a business if it is going to be detrimental to your existing operation. 2 Manage your people correctly. People need to be nurtured and looked after. Effective communication will help them understand the opportunities rather than being worried about the threats. 3 Start the integration process as quickly as possible. This will include, amongst other things, your people, your operations and your brand. Treating the businesses separately may result in increased costs, disharmony and lost value. 4 Understand the culture you want to have within your organisation. Culture is the ‘thing’ which sets apart how you interact within your business and in turn this reflects externally. Two different organisations will have different cultures and it is important to ensure you keep the best culture for your business. So what would be the most important thing for you?

CAROLYNN BEST

Director, Pattersons Commercial Law

RIK PANCHOLI

How to successfully integrate your business acquisition

Consumer confidence after lockdown

s the country slowly emerges from lockdown, the road to recovery looks set to be a slow and challenging one for many as wage subsidies come to an end and operating costs return. It is this time immediately following the easing of the restrictions which poses the real threat to businesses, testing not only their resilience but also their long-term viability. Managing the exit from lockdown While almost no sector has been immune from the effects of lockdown, there are some industries which have more reasons to be anxious. Some will be more vulnerable than others and should be braced for a more protracted return to normal. It is almost inevitable that some businesses will simply not reopen at all.

mood affect your concentration? Well, it’s common knowledge that conditions like anxiety and depression can trigger behaviours like procrastination that hinder your ability to clear your workload. Being in a good mood means that you’re more likely to be able to stay on track and get everything done. You would think that listening to music that pumps you up would be great when you’re immersed in a creative task, but that’s not always the case. Instead, listening to classical music whilst you’re carrying out immersive work can get your creative juices flowing, with no lyrics to tear you away from the depths of concentration. Familiarity is best for focus When you’re looking to get deep into your work for a long time, listening to familiar songs can help you stay focused for longer. That’s because certain regions in the brain that improve concentration are more active when we listen to music that we know, rather than something that’s unfamiliar. So, listening to songs you’ve heard over and over is a good idea when you really want to get in the zone. Use music to create a positive working environment There’s no denying that an upbeat playlist can make even the most mundane task more enjoyable, so don’t underestimate the power of having music playing in the workplace when it comes to boosting staff morale.


Owner of The Turnaround CEO

AMANDA DALY

Predicting the future Patience will be required; just because the country is ready to reopen for business does not mean consumers will be ready to return to their old ways. How many businesses will be able to survive while waiting for consumer confidence to return? Some will find their money runs out long before their patience.

Knowing your true self

ow many of us really know our true self? If we could change the lens through which we see ourselves, how would that change our perspective and actions? If we really started to challenge ourselves, how would that change our story and the way we respond? If you had the power, only for a short time, to step out of yourself, I wonder how many open doors you would see – especially in terms of business and opportunities – that are just

Chief Executive , VAL

KEVIN LILES

Overcoming consumer hesitancy The key to business and economic recovery is harnessing consumer spending, yet this may not be achieved quickly. Hesitancy is likely to remain for some time, with many being reluctant to go back to doing what they did before. Following months of enforced lockdown, some people have shown an eagerness to mingle as soon as restrictions were eased. Others, however, will need to be coaxed back into social situations. Until there is an effective form of treatment, or a vaccine in place, there is likely to be an enduring reluctance to engage socially. When it comes to re-engaging consumers, it is not just health concerns which need to be overcome, but also financial worries and altered social habits which may be hard to break. Discretionary spending has been a huge driver in propelling the economy forward in recent years, however, there is now the possibility that spending may be subdued as consumers re-evaluate where their money is best directed.

Supporting local communities during difficult times

he pandemic has demonstrated how critical our local voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector has been in supporting local communities. During the lockdown, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) has worked alongside partners in the voluntary sector, government and NHS to support the local volunteer effort. Over 2,500 people registered with us and we placed over 1,000 into roles ranging from delivering food parcels or shopping to befriending vulnerable people and supporting Covid testing. National mobilisation rates are around 14% – this gives an idea of how committed local people have been to help others. At the same time, our Voluntary Sector Support service has been on hand to offer advice, guidance and support. We’ve offered this to existing and emerging voluntary groups, advising trustees, directors and managers on national and local policy, government guidelines, charity commission regulations and more. Feedback has told us that our website, newsletter, online training, social media and blogs have been vital resources. We’ve heard first-hand the challenges that our voluntary sector faces; funding has been a huge issue, particularly for those charities that rely on fundraising events or income from shops. However, an expected surge in domestic violence, debt counselling and addiction services will put additional pressure on an already stretched VCSE sector. For over 50 years we’ve been helping people change their lives for the better, delivering excellent multi-million pound partnership projects and supporting not-for-profit organisations. Now, as we begin the long exit from lockdown our local charities will need help – not just from VAL, but from the public sector, local businesses and local people. We need everyone to play a part in getting our charities up and running again in the ‘new normal’.

waiting for you to walk through? If you could change your lens, what would you like to see? Does that thought excite or scare you? For me, a coach is not just about strategy, it is mindset, it is about changing what the individual perceives about reality, especially when it is to help someone reach full authenticity and greatness. Many of us create our own limits and barriers as we keep mindset closely linked to our own familiarity and comfort zones. We can often see this in relationships, finance and business. When I look at my work as a coach, I tend to focus on limiting beliefs and mindset. What are the limits? How do we start putting in plans to change structure, day-to-day patterns that can often create blocks to reaching our own potential? The ‘what ifs’ is where all magic happens. Who do you really want to be? If no hurdles existed, what life do you want? Most of the time, we already know what we want, but we just don’t have the faith in the ‘I’ to get there. Once the faith in the ‘I’ starts developing, we can begin to make change. Even if it all starts with small 1 per cent improvements. Belief, structure framework and goals = the perfect recipe for success. NICHE | 17


Director at Eileen Richards Recruitment

EILEEN RICHARDS MBE

The millennial mindset

s experts in recruitment, we often have open discussions with our partners and prospective clients about how they are positioning themselves as an employer of choice to attract and retain top talent. Many businesses mistakenly enter the recruitment process with a one-sided mindset, focusing on whether the interviewee is suitable for their vacancy. However, today candidates are just as intrigued to learn what your business can offer them in comparison to the competition. In our main article on page46, we discussd how a significant amount of employees enjoyed the flexibility the pandemic provided and therefore have decided to embrace 18 | NICHE

Senior Lecturer in Entreprise Development, DMU Associate Professor, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship

PERCY EMMETT FCMI

s the recent focus has shifted from survival to how the economy can begin to get back to work, you’re probably wondering what the coming months have in store for your business. Many businesses are readjusting their priorities to meet a changed business environment and are thinking about their immediate and longer-term people plans. It’s been a very busy few months on the HR front and whilst we’re supporting a few businesses with redundancies and helping them to reduce their fixed costs, we’re also supporting many with recruiting and reshaping their business model, so that they are fit for the future. Redundancies are often the first thing businesses turn to when they need to cut significant costs, but we’ve been helping clients to think creatively about ways of reducing costs without making people redundant. The measures we’ve used to avoid redundancies include inviting staff to volunteer for reduced hours or other types of flexible working. You can also review whether or not any new vacancy can be filled by redeploying an existing member of staff, with appropriate retraining where necessary. Ban overtime. Ask staff to take holidays or offer unpaid sabbaticals. Check if there is a contractual right to implement a lay-off or short-time working, explore if you can defer bonus payments, seek volunteers for voluntary redundancies and finally ask your employees for ideas! However, you must get advice to ensure that you follow the correct process before implementing any change! So, let’s have a chat and get creative!

DR DYNESHIA JOHNSON

HR Director, Affinity HRM

ALEENA AHMAD

Avoiding Redundancies: It’s time to get creative

‘Embrace the new normal’

his is a mantra for SMEs in these extraordinary times. Many sectors have been decimated over the past five months, with widespread consequences on SMEs’ financials, workforce and supply chain putting many in an impossible situation where they are barely able to survive. However, as unprecedented and uncertain as these times are, they are not all that unfamiliar to SMEs. The past 12 years have been marked by the 2008 financial crisis, that triggered the global recession and accompanying austerity measures, through to Brexit and what that will mean for exports. The truth is,

the millennial mindset. Millennials are less influenced by a job and what it pays, but are more intrigued by a company’s values, benefits and career pathways. East Midlands Chamber revealed that 79% of people stated they were more likely to join a company who were considered ‘ethical’ and ‘reputable’ than join an organisation who did not possess the same traits for a higher salary. When speaking to our candidates, one key area of interest has been in companies’ benefit packages particularly in relation to fitness and wellbeing. Previously, fitness and wellbeing were both seen as hobbies or interests which took place outside of working hours. However, with many individuals using the last few months to focus on their fitness and health, they are keen to keep up with their regimes – in a survey we conducted, we found that 82% stated they hoped retuning back to work wouldn’t impact their training achievements. With a rich portfolio of clients ranging in size and profitability, we recognise that each business has their own approach when it comes to benefits. An important thing to note, though, is that not all benefits have to cost. Many of our clients are now offering unique pick’n’mix packages tailored to each employee’s needs as no suit truly fits all. Despite economic uncertainty, top talent will always remain in demand and therefore it is crucial that companies are regularly reviewing their benefit packages in order to retain top talent and continue to attract in the future.


Covid-19 and its impact on families

s the Head of Practice of a specialist family law firm, I have seen first-hand the negative impact that the pandemic has had on countless families. In the early weeks of the lockdown, separated parents who had successfully resolved how they were caring for their children suddenly wanted emergency applications bringing to court to suspend or vary those arrangements – often believing the other parent was less able to protect the children from the virus than themselves. This will have a long-lasting effect as separated

CEO, e-Bate Limited

LEANNE BONNER-COOKE MBE Head of Practice, Glynis Wright & Co Solicitors

GLYNIS WRIGHT

SMEs have always had to endure and keep a number of plates spinning. It seems that the number of plates needed to be spun is getting larger by the year! Most SME owners/founders find that in addition to spinning the more traditional plates of CEO, marketeer, financial controller, sales executive and human resource partner, they are required to start spinning new plates – including social media specialist, creative director and new product developer. This ever growing list requires an SME to develop or hire new expertise much earlier in the business life cycle to remain afloat and thriving each year. But as this list grows, an owner/founder must ask themselves: ‘how much more can I take on before the business starts to collapse?’ We believe that the answer to this question starts with the nature of individual owners/founders. Specifically, the notion of personal mastery where one approaches challenges from a creative as opposed to reactive standpoint. Personal mastery can be leveraged as a source of learning and innovation for your SME to manage the uncertainty of a turbulent economic environment. Personal mastery is grounded in individual learning, competence, personal values and vision, development and training and motivation. We would ask owners/founders to set aside time to reflect on what their personal values are, why they started the business, and whether it is still fit for purpose. Be ruthless! More importantly, be honest! You may find introspection brings clarity to the melée and some plates may not be as critical as they once were.

How tech can be used to make businesses work smarter

ell, who would have thought that five months ago the nation would be embracing technology like we have. From networking to meetings, sales calls to operational activity, throughout the pandemic, businesses and individuals have adapted to use technology to continue to drive their businesses and relationships forward. Some businesses were already geared up to work from home, whilst others had to order equipment and rapidly embrace technologies they had not used before to allow them to continue operations. From Zoom to Microsoft Teams and many other collaboration platforms, the world has adapted and used technology to make businesses work smarter. Those who I have spoken to who have continued to work from home throughout the pandemic, feel like they have a better work-life balance. They are not rushing around as much as they used to, driving between appointments, meetings going on longer than necessary, the daily commute to the office and so on. It has been a good experiment to see if – with the right technology – we have to go back to life as it was? Can we contribute to a greener environment with less travel? Do we have to pay for large offices when we could have flexible working? Has it taught us to trust our workforce to work remotely? Embracing technology can be challenging for some people and industries, but it is interesting how adaptive and agile we can be when left with no other option. Now more than ever is a great time for assessing your business processes. Looking to see where they can be digitised to remove the need for manual processing will allow us to react quicker and be more agile in our working practices and environments.

parents once again struggle to rebuild trust in co-parenting. The predictions widely asserted that the pandemic would lead to a sudden rise in the number of couples seeking divorce has sadly proven to be accurate. In my firm alone, we had 130 new enquiries in the month of July – an increase of around 70% on the average for new appointments in a month! Where it cannot be stated with accuracy that the pandemic itself has been the cause of the marriage breaking up, what is clear is that it has most certainly accelerated the process for many couples who were experiencing doubts or problems within their relationships. Of even greater concern has been the enormous surge in the levels of domestic violence during the pandemic period, with the national domestic abuse helpline Refuge reporting a 700% increase in the number of calls to its helpline in one single day! What is deeply worrying is how much of this domestic violence, no doubt triggered by couples being forced to live in total lockdown with each other, was witnessed by their children leading to significant distress and trauma for them. In a series of articles, I will be offering a spotlight on the different ways in which family life has been disrupted by Covid, and crucially what strategies or resources are being considered to deal with the problems. NICHE | 19


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s a tax consultant who writes and contributes on all things corporate tax, I’m pleased to inform you that the sixth edition of my book, Taxation of Company Reorganisations, will be published next month. Co-authors George Hardy and Fehzaan Ismail are tax experts in the areas of financial services and international transactions, respectively, and we also have contributions from specialists on stamp duty, stamp duty land tax, VAT, share investment schemes, company law and capital allowances. The updated guide is an essential reference source for tax advisers. It covers all the basic taxation rules of corporation tax and capital gains on shares, as well as company mergers, demergers, share exchanges, reconstructions, reorganisations, branch incorporations and cross-border transactions. This new edition includes guidance on the

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Advice for

Businesses in debt As more businesses face financial difficulties due to Covid, we spoke to a debt advice company about how they can help

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usinesses around the world are struggling to survive the Coronavirus pandemic. It has affected large corporations as well as small and mediumsized enterprises. In August, we saw DW Sports fall into administration and Byron burger chain announce the permanent closure of 31 restaurants in July. Founder of Debt Advice & Solutions, Terry Wright, provides support to businesses facing financial trouble. He’s hoping to help save companies affected by the pandemic. He said: “As a debt solutions business we provide businesses with the appropriate level of specialist advice, support and solutions they need.”

When Debt Advice & Solutions are needed

“Our company can help businessowners who have creditor and cashflow pressures, unsustainable repayment plans in place, bailiff/enforcement action, court action or those who don’t know who to turn to for advice and guidance. “We support clients either face to face or over the

phone,” Terry told us. “The types of situations we can help with range from short term cash flow issues all the way through to severe financial difficulty or insolvency. “We can negotiate with creditors on clients’ behalf to reduce monthly arrears repayments and we can deal with any type of creditor such as HMRC, local authorities, utilities and suppliers, as well as bailiff and disconnection threats. “To help the heavy burden of stress, we are compassionate and will give clients as much additional support as they need. “As a trusted partner to accountants and financial advisers, and in consultation with them, we inform the businessowners of all the choices they need to know. We explain all the pros and cons of each and help the clients to make the most suitable choice for them. “Our message is: the sooner we are contacted, the better the outcome. Don’t leave it too late!” For more advice, contact Debt Advice & Solutions by emailing terry@debtadviceandsolutions.co.uk or calling 07802 517 854. NICHE | 21


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With two peak seasons in the fashion calendar, purchasing, stock management and cash flow are important challenges for this business to overcome. The management information we provide enables our client to make informed decisions and provides accurate insight into the margins to expect. Keeping on top of cash flow gives our client a competitive advantage in such a demanding industry.


NICHE FEATURE

MAXIMISING TAX EFFICIENCY MULTI-GENERATIONAL BUSINESSES Many family businesses fail to make it past three generations (Forbes). Charnwood Accountants insists planning years ahead can save the business and save you thousands. They saved one business £30k a year in tax using a Trust model.

Planning for the future

We explore options that businessowners can take to secure the most tax-efficient future possible WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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wning and running a business at this time has been tiring. You know what we’re referring to, but if we mention the dreaded C or P word again, we fear we’ll lose your interest (that’s coronavirus and pandemic, to be clear). “A lot of people, especially those who went through the 2008 recession, will be fed up and not want to deal with it anymore,” says Anna Brocklehurst, who is a partner at Charnwood Accountants. But the partners at the firm say planning for the future is more essential than ever and that your next move should be investigating your options as early as possible. Partner Chris Hutton tells us: “There are going to be potential tax changes coming soon due to Covid, and tax rates are only going up anyway so it’s vital to get the right tax advice now so

you can save for the future.” Anna adds: “A lot of accountants look backwards, but we’re always looking forwards and projecting. This is how you eliminate any nasty surprises.” Partner Steve Lathwood says: “Supporting your business and shaping your future, we aim to understand your business and life cycle and those key milestones you’re planning so we can make sure they’re done in the most tax efficient way.” On the right the partners cover some of the options available to maximise tax efficiency for multi-generational businesses, commercial property acquisitions, exit strategies, and employee ownership trusts. Get in touch for advice on 01509 621 833 or visit charnwoodaccountants. co.uk. For new business enquiries please email rosier@ charnwoodaccountants.co.uk

WE’RE ALWAYS LOOKING FORWARDS AND PROJECTING. THIS IS HOW YOU ELIMINATE ANY NASTY SURPRISES

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY ACQUISITIONS When a businessowner discovers an opportunity, it’s likely they’ll go ahead with the purchase of an asset through the company – but that might not be the right answer. Charnwood Accountants implore you to think about the structure of your acquisition before ‘pressing the button’. EXIT STRATEGIES Many people say their business is their pension. But for that to be viable, it needs to generate a lump of capital or recurring income in some way. It’s a common thought that the only way out is trade sale, but there are many other options such as management buy-in and buy-outs, family buy-outs and employee ownership trusts. EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP TRUSTS (EOTS) This is the transfer of ownership to a Trust for the benefit of your business’s employees. Charnwood Accountants say tax changes in April 2020 made setting up EOTs preferential going forward. As well as making for a tax-free exit strategy, they’re great for driving employee performance – another box ticked when financial-planning for the future.

NICHE | 25


There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever financial problems you are experiencing in your business, we can help.

Call us for a consultation on:

0116 355 2427 Carolynn Best, Partner M: 0780 050 8173 E: carolynn.best@btguk.com

Martin Buttriss, Partner M: 07583 107 460 E: martin.buttriss@btguk.com

1st Floor Gateway House, Grove Business Park, Enderby, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE19 1SY www.begbies-traynor.com

Offices across the UK. www.begbies-traynor.com Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in England and Wales No: OC306540. Registered Office: 340 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LY A member of the Begbies Traynor Group: Specialist Professional Services. www.begbies-traynorgroup.com


ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

Family: Financial Planning A financial planner explains the changes he made for his family’s future

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missed out on precious memories during the early years of my son’s life while I worked in banking,” says financial planner Dipen Tanna. Often working all hours of the week, he began to ask himself “What am I doing it all for?” He encourages anyone in a similar situation to ask themselves the same question. He said: “Understanding your goals for your family is not just about financial or retirement planning, it is about defining the life you want to

enjoy. For example, how much time do you want to spend with your loved ones between now and retirement?” Being clear about the lifestyle you want for yourself and your loved ones and how you want to help provide for your children is the key to planning your journey through life. “I have a five-year-old, so I know there are lots of things to think about. We want to do the best for them however, many people I help have little time to think about how they will achieve this.

“Assessing the costs at every stage of a child’s life and knowing early on what you want for your children, is invaluable to helping plan and achieve your goals. “Unfortunately, our children may leave university with close to £100,000 of debt. By planning early, you are more able to mitigate this and achieve your goals, rather than hoping for the best. “Whatever your desired lifestyle aspirations or dreams are, there is the possibility to achieve them.”

Dipen Tanna Wealth Management is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products.

NICHE FEATURE

Pitfalls

for residential Landlords Asit Jansari of Pattersons Commercial Law explains the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement compliance requirements

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he legal landscape in Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (AST) has evolved over the past 10 years. Tenants’ deposits now need to be protected through Government authorised schemes within 30 days of receipt. Specific information must be provided (the ‘Prescribed Information’) about where the deposit is protected and how the scheme operates. From October 1, 2015, new ASTs required the landlord or letting agent to provide the tenant with the Gas Safety Certificate, Energy Performance Certificate (EPC); and the latest ‘How To Rent Booklet’. Originally, these were only required for new tenancies created on or after this date, but now apply to all ASTs, whenever they started; even an AST which started before October 1, 2015. From July 1, 2020, all new ASTs

require the landlord to perform an Electrical Safety test for the property: the ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report’ (EICR). How can Landlords ensure they comply? Get the securing of the deposit and serving the Prescribed Information correct and keep good records. If you grant a fresh tenancy and a sum of money is paid as a deposit, secure the deposit in an approved scheme. Have your Gas Safety Certificate and EPC ready before you let the property and keep adequate evidence of providing these to the tenant together with the ‘How To Rent Booklet’. Gas Safety Certificates need renewing every 12 months. EPC Certificates need renewing every 10

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years. The EICR needs renewing every five years (unless an electrician advises sooner). Make sure the certificates are given to the tenant and keep evidence of them having been given. Failing to meet these requirements could result in additional costs. A tenant will have the right to claim compensation from the Landlord between one and three times the value of the deposit if their deposit was not secured properly. If a breach of the EICR is found, a landlord could be liable to a fine of up to £30,000! For advice on tenancies, speak to Asit Jansari at Pattersons Commercial Law on 07966 244 498. NICHE | 27


NICHE BUSINESS

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TEN TIPS FOR A START-UP BUSINESS BHAVIN GANDHI Director at Paradigm Wills and Legal Services

SECURING YOUR FUTURE IN ILL-HEALTH The effects of this coronavirus pandemic will be with us long after positive tests have finally become extinct – physically and mentally. As people have been unfortunate enough to watch friends and family go through this illness, and as people have become more fearful or uncertain of the future, more are looking into making measures to secure it. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document that ensures your affairs are handled by someone you find capable and trustworthy to do so in the event that you become ill or injured. It’s a very important decision to make – and an urgent one in some cases – which is why it needs to be signed and documented. We urge you to think carefully about your selected attorney. They can be a trusted family member or friend but must be over 18 years of age as they will be making decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to. You can still make LPAs whilst observing government guidelines on social distancing, self-isolation and shielding. This is the information on the Government website, which was last updated on July 29. Witnessing must take place in person – this is why we have strict measures in place for making LPAs. Using gloves, masks, sanitising, and strict social distancing, signatures can be obtained safely and according to Government guidelines. If you feel you need a Lasting Power of Attorney but are concerned about making one, email us for advice. 28 | NICHE

Seasoned in assisting start-up businesses, I’ve put together this list to help anyone thinking of setting up a company. These are some of the areas you need to pay attention to in order to avoid legal mishaps. 1. From sole traders and partnerships through to limited companies and social enterprises, your business can be structured in many different ways. Take advice on the best structure for you. 2. When you provide goods and services to a customer, you invoice them for your work and usually will give them credit. This is like loaning them money. Make sure you know who your customer is. 3. Whilst many verbal contracts are just as binding as written ones, it is a lot easier to prove and demonstrate what was agreed if your contract is in writing. 4. Review your customer’s and supplier’s paperwork. You need the terms that you buy and sell upon. If reference is made to terms and conditions, find out what they say and what they mean. 5. Get professional help when you need it. Prevention is often easier than cure. 6. Limited companies must keep records about the company and its financial

GREG HOLLINGSWORTH Director at Hollingsworths Solicitors accounting activities. These must be kept for at least six years from the end of the last financial year they relate to. 7. If you employ people, you must provide them with a document known as a statement of terms within eight weeks of them joining you. 8. Your business may do something in a unique or special way that sets it apart from the competition. Protect it. 9. Many businesses fail because they overstretch themselves and cannot meet the demands of the work as well as fund it. Think carefully about the payment terms you offer to customers and have a plan if you are not paid on time. 10. Things can go wrong for many reasons, and disputes can and do arise. If a problem does come about, address it. Get advice and help with resolving the problem.

TIME TO SORT THAT NIGGLING PROBLEM KIRSTY ADAMS Chartered Legal Executive, Pattersons Commercial Law Is now the time to rectify that issue with your property you may have been putting off? Things such as the garden, the roof, the boundary, the title? Due to recent events, property lawyers have seen transactional property work slow down. Instead, I have found I am receiving more enquiries from property owners (both of residential and commercial properties) relating to rectifying an issue with the title to the property. For example, there may be a restrictive covenant registered against the title which stipulates the property cannot be extended without the written consent of the original

developer. Or, the property boundaries as they appear on the ground are slightly different to those depicted on the title plan. You may have found you have some spare time and it has always been something you’ve been meaning to look into, or perhaps you are looking to market your property a little later in the year. Now may be the perfect time to rectify that title issue. By dealing with it now, it is bound to save any delays on the conveyancing when and if you do decide to dispose of the property in the future. At Pattersons Commercial Law, we can assist with any title issue, including rectifying that typo in the spelling of your name or even contacting the beneficiary of a restrictive covenant for consent or its entire removal.


NICHE FEATURE

A timeline of success Multi-award-winning leading specialist family law firm Glynis Wright & Co take us on a tour of their biggest achievements and key landmarks

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n the nine years since the firm’s inception, Glynis Wright & Co has risen from a sole practitioner firm to being the biggest supplier of family law services in the region. We put together a timeline of their journey ,celebrating this local company’s success. MD of the company, Glynis Wright, told us: “The timeline shows what we have achieved as a firm in such

a short space of time. Leicester is a very entrepreneurial city and it shows what can be done from a starting point of almost nothing – my capital investment was a £10,000 loan from my dad and the rest was blood, sweat and tears. My biggest achievement has been recruiting the most phenomenal team to come on this exciting journey with me.”

March 1 2011

Glynis decides to set up a specialist family law firm with a loan of £10,000 from her dad

2018

2013

The company has grown to three family lawyers and six members of staff in total

2018 Glynis is elected to Vice President of the

2015 Glynis Wright & Co becomes supporters of the Charity Soft Touch Arts and Glynis joins the Business Development Board

2015

2016

Glynis Wright & Co win Law Firm of the Year in the Leicestershire Law Society Awards as an outstanding law firm and Best Professional Services in the Niche Business Awards Soft Touch Arts and Glynis Wright & Co start the campaign ‘Pulled Both Ways’ via filmmaking it raises awareness of the plight of children caught in the middle of their parents breaking up

2016

Glynis Wright & Co raise funds for the charity Spark Arts by abseiling from a DMU building

2016

The company grows to five family lawyers and 10 members of staff in total

2017

Glynis undertakes a sky dive and raises over £4,000 for Alex’s Wish

2017

Glynis becomes a member of the Executive Committee of the Leicestershire Law Society

2017

Glynis incorporates Glynis Wright Holdings Ltd and purchases her own commercial property Glynis is elected to Deputy Vice President of the Leicestershire Law Society

2017

Glynis Wright & Co win Team of the Year in the Chambers of Commerce Enterprising Women Awards

Glynis has grown the firm to seven family lawyers and 15 staff in total Leicestershire Law Society

2018

Glynis Wright & Co and Soft Touch Arts launch the second campaign of ‘Pulled both Ways’ funding school children to make their own films about the plight of children caught in the middle of divorce

2019

Glynis Wright & Co win Best Contribution to the Community Award in the East Midlands Business Masters Awards

2019

Glynis Wright & Co win Best Support for Charity in the East Midlands Charity Awards

2019

Glynis Wright & Co win Small Law Firm of the Year in the national Law Society Excellence Awards

2019

Glynis is elected President of the Leicestershire Law Society

2020

Glynis is invited onto the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Law and Business at DMU

2020

Glynis runs a presidential campaign for Alex’s Wish to raise money by undertaking the fastest zipwire in Europe and raises over £10,000 for the charity

2020

Glynis Wright & Co raise over £2,000 for Alex’s Wish by undertaking the 4.2 Challenge during the pandemic

2021

Glynis Wright & Co become busier than ever during the lockdown with 12% growth in business turnover NICHE | 29


The Litigation and Commercial Law Firm

5 steps to a smooth business startup: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Decide on a structure Know your customer Record your contracts Maintain good records Protect your ‘Know-How’

www.hlegal.co.uk

0116 204 2500

WE HELP WITH: DIVORCE SEPARATION FINANCES DISPUTES OVER CHILDREN COHABITATION BREAKUPS PRE NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS THE DIVORCE TEAM

30 | NICHE


NICHE FEATURE

A year to remember for Leicestershire Law Society President Glynis Wright reflects on her presidential year and its highs and lows with journalist Emily Miller

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n May 2019, Leicestershire Law Society (LLS) held its Annual General meeting at Provincial House, heralding the official inauguration of Glynis Wright, of Glynis Wright and Co family Solicitors, as President. She tells us about her time as President. How did you feel on hearing you were to be president of LLS? I felt honoured and very proud. The first person I rang was my mum who was absolutely thrilled! I knew that it was going to be a tough call to manage the presidential duties on top of running my law firm, but I felt very excited by the challenge, and keen to do all that I could to raise the profile of the Law Society even higher. Can you tell us your most memorable moments? I will never forget giving the opening speech at the Triumphs of Leicester – an event which I had decided I wanted to run as President from the outset. The glittering dinner celebrated Leicester and the most amazing people that have come out of Leicester who are having an international impact in the field of law, the arts, science, media and sports. I will also never forget the thrill of hurtling down the fastest zipwire in the world at speeds of nearly 100mph for my Presidential Charity Alex’s Wish, along with other lawyers and businesspeople who had

volunteered to fundraise with me. We raised over £10,000 for this wonderful charity that day! Amazing! What have been the challenges? The President carries an onerous responsibility to oversee excellent training and support to the society’s members, to encourage and strengthen close partnerships with our business, academic and social communities, and to run sparkling occasions on a small budget, relying entirely on your weight as a President to secure sponsorship and patronage. It Is a difficult juggling act but very rewarding. However, little did I know that the biggest challenge was going to be leading the Leicsestershire Law Society in a worldwide pandemic! To find yourself President at such a time is daunting. There can be no preparation for that. As a society, we have worked hard to provide as much support as we can to our member law firms, with much of the free training we have organised focusing on coping strategies and financial survival. The impact of the pandemic on the justice system has been meteoric, with huge backlogs building up in court hearings. I carry a huge concern, as do all of our Committee members, for the mental health and wellbeing of our lawyers, who have been placed under enormous strain and who face the most stressful of situations on a daily basis, as do

LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WAS GOING TO BE LEADING THE LAW SOCIETY IN A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC! TO FIND YOURSELF PRESIDENT AT SUCH A TIME IS DAUNTING

their clients. As with all sectors, it is likely to take years for anything like normality to return. How do you feel about passing on the reigns to the next President? I was asked to extend my presidential year until the end of September 2020 to see the LLS through the pandemic. Therefore, I have already carried the seat for longer than any other President! I am very proud of what I have achieved, and the feedback I have had from members, from our local Judges and from the wider community has been phenomenal. That will always stay with me. I am excited to see what the new President will bring and will be delighted to continue on the Executive Committee as the IPP (Immediate Past President) to offer them support and encouragement for their year. I have no doubt that they will do an excellent job and am looking forward to having a rest! leicestershirelawsociety.org.uk. NICHE | 31


With change comes

opportunity

The pandemic has changed life as we know it and amongst all of the challenges, there are plenty of opportunities. Here, Niche journalist Emily Miller talks to Rik Pancholi of Pattersons Commercial Law about growth and vision as the world opens up.

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s a commercial law firm which was very much still up and running during lockdown (using technology and working remotely), Pattersons Commercial Law continued to provide their services while learning, developing and adapting internally. “When change happens like it has in 2020 there is always opportunity if you are willing to look for it. Yes, there were and will be challenges for many, but in lots of ways the negative side is most certainly not the whole picture.” says Rik Pancholi. “There are some very serious investment opportunities for those businesses willing to take risks and present themselves as market disruptors and innovators. We have seen significant investments being made and we anticipate much more to follow. With many businesses now working from home, there has been a huge increase in demand for certain industry sectors such as providing awareness around cyber security, data protection and best practices on how to effectively work from home. The rise in dependence on technology has changed so 32 | NICHE

much, as Rik explains. “Many businesses are now paying attention to video conferencing facilities even though they’ve existed for years. This may indirectly present a strain on broadband infrastructure, but this too will present opportunities for businesses willing to take on the challenge.” As working practices evolve and adapt, there will be more product and service offerings coming to the market. Whether this involves introducing robotics in production and manufacturing facilities or adopting and introducing software which reads and analyses legal documents, there are going to be disruption factors which influence the everyday decisions we all make. He also believes that there are ways that businesses can utilise what this year has taught them, whether on a personal or business level. “Technology has changed the way we all communicate. In business it’s allowed things to carry on as usual, but actually more than that it has shown businesses that they can have stronger lines of communication as a result.” In addition, Rik adds, the

TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED THE WAY WE ALL COMMUNICATE. IN BUSINESS IT’S ALLOWED THINGS TO CARRY ON AS USUAL

way people are developing their lines of communication and processes shows a new sense of trust between employer and employees. “Where once a business owner may have felt a need to physically oversee their staff in an office and the work that they are doing, employers are now trusting their team to a greater degree to get the work done, and to a high standard. There’s less pressure on business owners in this respect.” Rik is keen to remain highly optimistic about the future of a law firm that likes to provide creative solutions to challenges and opportunity for its clients. “There has been a great deal of talk about the negativity the pandemic has brought and quite rightly so but I am optimistic about the future and the business community at large. There’s plenty of opportunity for growth and investment, it’s just about having the right vision for your future.” Pattersonscommerciallaw.co.uk 0116 319 1110.


CALL IN THE

COACHES

The owners, founders and leaders of businesses large and small have been known to call in the coaches from time to time

Their businesses could be out there on the playing field, run from a home office, or operating from multiple sites around the world – whatever the situation, coaches can help shape a company and its people with their insight and knowledge. Each coach has their own approach, personality, experience and qualifications. It means there is a plethora of individuals out there to choose from with the right combination to suit any employer or employee. To give you a taste of the types of coaching out there and available in Leicester, we’ve put together this section to provide a snippet of what to expect when you call in a coach. Call in the Coaches features articles and interviews with a variety of different coaching professionals with reputations for their services and practices throughout Leicestershire and beyond. Delivering educational and inspiring content, and possibly some much-needed food for thought, this section offers advice and guidance for organisations of all shapes and sizes. We cover the significance of soft skills, the impact of peer review, the importance of knowing what you really want from life, the power of taking responsibility of your own happiness, and much more. Each of our coaches offer both practical and holistic methods in an attempt to demonstrate how they work and why they entered into the profession. Giving an insight into how each of them would work within your business or on a one-to-one basis, how their vision would work to crack the code of your mindset and thought patterns holding you back, and what the benefits of coaching are, Call in the Coaches is an insight into the coaching industry.


Speaking the truth

and facing the facts Business growth specialist Phil Nassau talks through the process of building the client-coach relationship for the long term

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irstly, it is important to understand that business coaching is not for every businessowner. My reasoning for saying this is coaching is not about guidance – though that has its part, it’s about accountability. Coaching can help people move outside their comfort zone to realise their latent potential and provoke long term change. For change to start, the business-owner needs to have a vision of what they want to see as the future for themselves and their business. This vision must be strong, with a powerful desire for the vision to become a reality. Before beginning the coaching journey as a coach, I hold up a mirror in their minds and show the client something they do not want to see and have avoided up to that point. Effective coaching is about challenging, examining habits, overcoming barriers, and embedding change. As with myself, the coach, I have to have total belief that my client is committed to change, to not just business improvement but to personal improvement and that they want to make a real difference to their customers, staff and family. This needs to be in place for the long-term interests of

the coaching relationship. As a coach, my first goal is to provoke the client to move out of their comfort zone and administer a kick in performance, so they start to realise their true potential. Then my role is to be a passionately curious person and not be judgemental, in Stephen Covey's words: “Seek first to understand and then be understood”. I tell all my clients there is no magic wand to improve the performance of the business or themselves as a business leader. It is about trusting in the future potential and embracing the experience of each day and recommitting to the possibilities rather than excepting the constraints of your fears, beliefs, people and circumstances. I passionately believe there is an inner genius in all of us. The first step is to speak the truth out loud, on where you are at and where the business is at, then take the courageous act of saying where your business could be. This is where the journey starts and the magic begins to happen. If more people spoke their truth out loud and faced the facts, we'd have a much better business environment as a whole.

Stop hiding,

start living How to begin a transformational journey towards unlocking your true potential

N

o one is in charge of your happiness except for yourself,” says transformational coach Hema Nanuwa. The Kenyan-born mother of two (with another on the way) became a coach after investing in one herself. In partnership with her husband, the couple felt it was time to view their circumstances from a new, positive perspective. Having had a tough few years with her husband's extended family and family politics, she began her own journey with her husband and children. Separating themselves from the situation and inviting a coach into their lives inspired Hema to help other women. “Everyone has a purpose in life, but sometimes you need a helping hand. It’s all to do with your mindset; one’s upbringing has a major impact on the present state. Sharing my own experiences helps others share their stories too, and gives them the confidence to start their own transformational journey. “You need to feel connected with a coach to do this.” That’s why Hema invites people to a free 30 minute phone call initiating that bond. Her specialities lie in blended families, relationships,

34 | NICHE

motherhood, culture, and religion, tackling issues with a body, mind and spirit approach. Some people require Hema as a coach for a longer period. Others simply need four sessions. However, she has a word of warning before you begin. “Having a transformational journey brings a lot of good, but involves dealing with the bad. Some people are scared that talking about negative past experiences is going to upset them, but that’s just the start of the journey. It begins messy, but you will see miracles in the end.'' Hema says you can begin your journey right now by making a mental list each night of all the things you’re grateful for, as well as having agreements with yourself rather than expectations. “It’s time for you to stop hiding and start living.” To book your free 30 minute chat, go to hemananuwa.com.


NICHE SPECIAL MINDSET

The Soft Skills Gap

CALL IN THE

COACHES

Identifying where your soft skills gap lies and knowing which way to grow WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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eaders are looking deeply into their organisational culture to see exactly what impacts business performance. Soft skills are being prioritised by many companies during this pandemic. After all, you can train someone to type faster or use a certain computer programme, but the same can’t as easily be said for patience, empathy and emotional intelligence. Founder and business owner of All About: Soft Skills, Nim Pancholi, has been working with those in leadership to ensure they are prepared for the new normal. One focus in particular is the business’ key assets: the employees. Nim worked in quality compliance for over 17 years at Reckitt Benckiser, the company behind some of the world’s most trusted brands including Dettol, Strepsils, Nurofen, Durex, E45, Vanish, Harpic and many more. Working from and having lived across the UK and in Singapore regulating brands' safety, quality, and efficacy, Nim’s success has depended on her ability to communicate effectively, influence and understand leaders.

All About: Soft Skills’ strapline is ‘learning the science of behaviour’ and it’s what Nim is most passionate about. She said: “I have been trained heavily in soft skills; it’s what I really enjoy and therefore I’m a highly competent soft skills strategist. My soft skills were key to the progression of my career.” The 2020 cultural change has brought many challenges to the business world. “If your organisation has moved to remote working, if the business has had to pivot, if overnight your employees have had to work differently to the norm, then the culture of your business has changed. Knowing that people are key assets, they should come first to run a successful business.” It may be time to evaluate your employees’ personality traits to understand how changes in their work-life balance have impacted their behaviour. All About: Soft Skills uses various personality trait programmes to help leaders work in synergy with their employees, which in turn filters through to the relationships with the business’ customers and

BEING MIND-FIT: JUST LIKE YOU KEEP YOUR BODY FIT, YOUR MIND NEEDS TO BE THE SAME OR EVEN FITTER AND HEALTHIER

peers. This then helps to build effective working relationships. Nim told us: “A motto of ours is to be mind-fit. Just like you keep your body fit, your mind needs to be the same or even fitter and healthier. Self-awareness plays a vital role in the new business world.” Whether it is learning to listen with empathy, being flexible in your approach or how to communicate more effectively, All About: Soft Skills can help transform your workplace. To find out more visit allaboutsoftskills.com.

WHAT ARE SOFT SKILLS? Soft skills are personality traits and behaviours. Having the ability to communicate effectively, think critically when problem solving, showcase leadership qualities and the capability to work as a team are some examples of soft skills. Many employers use personality tests to determine an employee’s soft skill profile because they are so heavily relied upon in working life, sometimes even more so than qualifications. NICHE | 35


It’s time to be

e v a br

If 2020 has provided us with anything it is the time to think, re-think and then think again. Businessowners have gone from feeling full of direction and purpose to feeling lost and confused on where to go next. The future, though, needn’t be a place of fear, but one of opportunity and a catalyst for change says Amanda Daly of the Turnaround CEO WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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ot one to shy away from the true emotive side of how a businessowner creates greater success for themselves and their business, Amanda Daly of the Turnaround CEO opens our chat with a reflection on the emotional effects of the pandemic. “The pandemic has meant that many of us have been spending a lot of time with ourselves; and in my opinion, this is a great thing,” she tells me. “The ‘time out’ has allowed many of us to reflect on where we are in our lives and where we want to make change; and for businessowners these changes will undoubtedly affect their businesses.” With a purpose to help businessowners go from good to great, Amanda approaches coaching in a unique and highly skilled way. “Rather than looking solely at business goals and success as an end game, I look at what it is within a leader that I can work on with them to unleash their true potential to flourish – to take them from good to great.” Through careful and considered coaching, in a group through her Masterclass programme or one-to-one, Amanda approaches each business owner with the same 36 | NICHE

enthusiasm to discover the greatness within. “The catalyst for change comes at the point where we untap the part of ourselves which limits our ability, that which masks and covers up our power to appreciate ourselves and see our greatness. It’s my job to discover the root of the fears and beliefs which are holding us back.” During this process Amanda creates a supportive yet honest environment to get the very best out of a person, even during an online Zoom conversation I can feel her enthusiasm for this ‘tipping point’. She adds; “I get real joy from helping people see their own worth and guiding them to uncover the power of their contributions to their own business and employees.” Interestingly, Amanda centres her intuitive work on going where others don’t, asking questions which aren’t always easy to answer. “It’s here, though, in these discoveries that the real change can happen. I work to get to the real heart of the things that will be holding people back from realising their true potential.” Amanda says, “Being honest yet supportive with businessowners means that there is a greater chance of authentic and lasting


NICHE SPECIAL MINDSET

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COACHES

growth and evolution for the owner and their business. It’s all about creating a lasting difference, rather than sprinkling some glitter over existing issues as a short term fix!” I ask her what the pandemic has meant for businesses. “It’s been a challenge for most of us; but, there is a great deal of opportunity for change in difficult times and I have seen business owners further driven to do better, to aim higher and to rise to the challenges it has presented. For many it has provided an opportunity to re-assess how they approach things. It’s been a real time of self-reflection.” Her live Masterclass series not only gives businessowners the opportunity for personal growth, but also to network with others going through a period of change and adversity. “They have been very enjoyable to do, and through them we have connected with the wider business community in ways we may not have actually done pre-pandemic,” Amanda adds. Driven by the emotive rather than the figures, Amanda’s no-nonsense but supportive approach quickly draws you in, with business owners discovering a renewed love for what they do; a renewed sense of balance in their lives and with more direction, purpose and ability to aim high. “I love the quote: ‘Don’t wait for opportunity, create it!’ and this couldn’t be truer of the way we are all starting to approach our businesses and our careers in 2020 – doing what we have always done will be safer, sure, but will it help you be the best you can be? Probably not! It’s time to be brave, to change the pattern and achieve greatness!” And on that note, we conclude our chat. This writer feels suitably ‘pepped up’ in the way that a chat with Amanda often leaves one feeling, but this time after the shape of 2020 so far, it was even more appreciated, that’s for certain! To get yourself off the hamster wheel, start loving what you do and feel great about yourself, contact Amanda on 01509 274 119 or visit theturnaroundceo.co.uk.

Being honest yet supportive with businessowners means that there is a greater chance of authentic and lasting growth and evolution for the owner and their business

NICHE | 37


Coaching to inspire globally How to select the right coach for you and your organisation

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here is very little support out there for social organisations,” says Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, founder of coaching service She Inspires. “Especially if you are in a very early stage of your journey. I know this because I have been there and have had to learn on the job.” She Inspires (Global) is a Leicester-based company set up by Zinthiya, which provides training and organisational development support to charities and social enterprises. Zinthiya has used her years of experience setting up and growing charities and other social enterprises for the benefit of her clients. “It is important when engaging the services of a coach or trainer to use someone who has experience in your field. They will understand your business and can provide the support you need in order to grow. “We are very selective when we engage with our clients, because for us it is not about increasing turnover but

about impact. The first question we ask is: can we make a difference to that organisation? “Developing and building the capacity of other social organisations and individuals undertaking good causes helps me to multiply the impact of what I am already doing. That is what made me set up She Inspires.” She Inspires is different because support is provided by individuals who have lived experiences in the field. Profits generated are then re-invested into building the capacity of women-led organisations working to improve the lives of women and children affected by poverty and violence in developing countries. The company has provided support to 22 female entrepreneurs in Nepal to set up or grow their businesses as well as development support to three women-led social organisations in Sri Lanka helping women and children. For more information visit sheinspiresglobal.org.uk.

What do you want

to achieve? The first question this coach asks and why it’s so important

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eing headhunted at the age of 19 and asked to run a business in another country isn’t something many people can add to their CV. Working as a legal secretary by day and a croupier and waitress by night, Sandra Pollock was approached by the owners of a freight forwarding business after observing the way she interacted with guests. Due to her communication skills, she was asked to run the hunters’ agency in America. Within three years, she grew the business from receiving one 40ft shipping container a month to three each week. “That growth came just from me talking to people and persuading them to use a company they’d never heard of,” Sandra told us. She went on to become Head of Institute of Consulting for Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and National Chair for its then women’s networking group for which she grew membership from 5,000 to 23,000 in three years. She is also the founder of The Women’s Awards, is an author and motivational speaker, and has had regular shows on BBC Radio Leicester and Eva FM. “I’ve had 38 | NICHE

several lifetimes in this one,” she laughed. After working for companies across the world, Leicester is now home to her business Open Mind Coaching UK. Sharing the first question she asks her clients, she introduced us to her coaching method. “What do you want to achieve?” It’s a simple enough question, but many find they aren’t completely clear on the answer. “It could be business growth, improving resources or staff engagement. Growth in any capacity is often about mindset – and it isn’t always external. Growth to you could be improving staff creativity. “Once you have your answer, our programmes can flex according to your business and people. If you’re not clear on what you want to achieve yet, don’t worry. After assessing the business with a variety of tools, we can help with that.” Get in touch to be involved in one of Sandra’s regular virtual Mastermind meetings by calling 07977 227872 or emailing info@openmindcoaching.com.


NICHE SPECIAL AC C O U N TA B I L I T Y

CALL IN THE

COACHES

How to form a

habit for life Occupational therapist says it’s beneficial to understand the science behind how the brain forms habits WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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here is a science behind the formation of habits and understanding how the brain forms new neural pathways is crucial to success in business and in life says occupational therapist and Pura Vida Living lifestyle coach Anna Jenkin “Physical health problems, life experience and happiness are all interlinked", she says. "One aspect of your life isn’t necessarily going to achieve overall happiness. “Physical health has an impact on our lifestyle and vice versa. Creating health lifestyle changes is all about gaining balance, seeing the bigger picture of you, and finding out what makes you happy and what you enjoy.” Anna insists that when you can understand the science behind how and why habits are formed, your chances of success are maximised. Teaching the basics behind this to begin with, she says the unique six ‘E’s method (see right) is used to create lasting changes. Each ‘E’ works either from the outside in, from the inside out, or acts as a support system.

CREATING HEALTH LIFESTYLE CHANGES IS ALL ABOUT GAINING BALANCE, SEEING THE BIGGER PICTURE OF YOU

OUTSIDE IN

Effective Before creating a habit, you need to decide if it will actually benefit your end goal. If you’re trying to lose weight at the same time as having a stressful job, it’s likely you won’t lose any weight at all. Anna tells us exercise releases cortisol and so does stress. Too much cortisol in the body has been linked to weight gain. In this case, the first step is working on calming remedies to reduce stress. Effortless A habit should be as easy as possible. To make it effortless, the brain needs to be retrained to create realistic micro habits. Over time, a micro habit will snowball into a catalyst for change. If you want to go for a run every day for 30 minutes, but realistically you only have the time and willingness for 10 minutes a day, this is where you need to start.

INSIDE OUT

Efficient Around 90% of our thoughts are subconscious, Anna says. So what else is going on in our minds and emotions that we don’t realise? These are more often than not limiting beliefs. They are elements of our identity that we don’t realise are holding us back. Breaking these down enables Anna’s clients to efficiently stop that yo-yoing cycle often experienced when trying to make any lifestyle changes. Enjoyable The most ingrained habits are those that are enjoyable. You have to really want to carry out the actions that will get you to your end goal. In her 12 week emotional awareness programme, Anna taps into how and why we experience tasks differently, and how to use emotions in your favour rather than as a barrier.

SUPPORT

External motivation Accountability is key. Some are lucky enough to be able to hold themselves accountable, but many need that initial external push for motivation. Whether it’s a friend, family member, a journal, or a coach like Anna, find yourself that external motivation. Expert advice Finally, there is just so much advice available that it can be daunting. It’s often unhelpful. As a health and wellbeing expert, Anna finds people often pick up the right ideas from the internet, but these are often bitesize tips with little to no information about how to apply them. Learn more about the ‘Science to Health and Happiness’ with Anna’s free four-part video series, available at puravidaliving.co.uk. NICHE | 39


CALL IN THE

NICHE SPECIAL

COACHES

My peer pod is primed and ready But am I ready? How am I feeling this morning?

I

t’s all about me today, the spotlight is on me. Five peers ready to help me solve this thing that’s been keeping me awake. I’m nervous, apprehensive and excited all at the same time. What if I don’t explain my problem properly? What if they can’t help me? Dave and Linda say I’m working with five people who know me, my business and my thinking style better than anyone else, they are all looking out for my best interests, so all I have to do is trust my pod. This has been an interesting journey so far. I was a bit hesitant to apply to The Success Syndicate as I knew they didn’t take everyone. I was feeling so alone, as if I had lost direction, I knew I wanted to do something different but had no idea what that was. I’m lucky, my business has been successful, and it’s been hard work at times, so I’ve made a few sacrifices but then, hasn’t everyone? On my first contact with Dave and Linda, I knew I wanted to be part of this. I wanted to feel emboldened to make my business and life decisions. I was delighted to be accepted and meeting my fellow peers was such an eye opener. Altogether, we’re six business leaders from different business 40 | NICHE

WORDS BY DAVID GOREY AND LINDA NEVILLE

sectors. We all had interesting stories to tell and our hopes, dreams and ambitions were all so different too! Tom wants to grow and franchise his business so that he can retire young and fly airplanes. Susie wants to change the world one product at a time; she has no intention of retiring but wants to gradually free up more of her time for charity work. And me, I want to feel productive and focused at work, but I also want to feel engaged and able to give my attention to my family at home without feeling guilty or thinking about the other things I should be doing. Our Peer Pod has learned such a lot over the last four months, we know and understand each other’s businesses. We’ve been guided and supported to develop our financial and business acumen, to align with best practice. For Jim this was a tribute to how well he was doing, but for me, I realised I had picked up a few bad habits on the way! The philosophy of strict confidentiality, safety and kindness meant that I was able to ask Dave questions and understand how to remedy my situation. We have been on a personal and group journey of discovery. I now understand how I think in a given situation, I understand

WE HAVE BEEN ON A PERSONAL AND GROUP JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY. I NOW UNDERSTAND HOW I THINK IN A GIVEN SITUATION, I UNDERSTAND MYSELF BETTER AND I CAN RECOGNISE MY STRENGTHS AND BLIND SPOTS

myself better and I can recognise my strengths and blind spots. We’ve been taught techniques for group problem solving, which means we can ask questions, frame problems and solutions in a way that supports the person to make their own decision. Last month, Jim had his light bulb moment. He had been struggling with his issue for three years, he had tried numerous ways of fixing it. He had advice from all sorts of experts and he tried to implement what they said. But the problem persisted. Last month, in our Peer Pod, Jim revisited his problem and we worked with him to explore, challenge and nudge him. And his moment came – suddenly it was clear for him. He looked excited, energised and optimistic, he knows he can do this and that we will support him. He looked emotional and delighted. I felt so privileged to be part of his journey. Today it’s my turn; I’m looking forward to my light bulb moment… by this afternoon I will feel emboldened! Who am I? I could be you. This story is based on Dave and Linda’s combined experience. To start your journey, visit tsspeerpods.com or email info@tsspeerpods.com.


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undamental to human interaction, first impressions have been subject to in depth studies by scientists and psychologists. They’re made on a conscious and subconscious level, sometimes in a matter of milliseconds. It could be that our human nature to make snap judgements is ingrained in us as part of our fight for survival and evolutionary goals. In the modern world, we’re looking for ways in which we can survive as well as thrive. The biggest businesses understand this. And they know it begins with a first impression. Potential customers or clients will be quick to make a judgement about your company based on the way they see you interacting with your audience, the articles and adverts you put out there, or the offices you invite them to. They may

come across your business again in their future and may even interact with your company in some capacity, but if they received a first impression that was anything less than positive, it will stick with them for a long time – or maybe even, forever. Branding can arguably be described as the be-all and end-all when it comes to first impressions. Your branding represents the heart of your company. It isn’t just your logo – though that does play a vital role – it’s the way your employees greet your customers, it’s the atmosphere felt in your office or store, it’s the language you use in your PR, it’s the publications and platforms you use to publicise your business. Our First Impressions section features some helpful hints on tips on just some of the ways you may be able to make a lasting impression on your customers and clients.

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Inviting

guests to your office

How to make an impact as soon as they walk through the door WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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he look of a person’s home tells quite a bit about the people who live in it. The décor, the layout, the colour scheme. It’s enough to tell a guest about how successful these people are, their taste and their values. Think about that same idea when applied to a business. The look of a company’s office tells quite a bit about the people who work in it. The décor, the layout, the colour scheme. It’s enough to tell a guest about how successful these people are, their taste and their values. Your office exemplifies your brand and the way you conduct your business. A local company that’s known very well for having offices that embody what their business is all about is accountancy firm Torr Waterfield. They’ve been around for 20 years this September (happy birthday, team), but their workplace isn’t one that’s stuffy or stuck in the early noughties.

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The bosses have invested time and money into a redesign of their city centre offices based in Clarence Street. “We made the choice to freshen up our look,” said accountant and Co-Director Mike Waterfield. “We’ve had a really great few years in business, which has given us the confidence to refresh the office.” Their inspired office spaces tell the story to any client who walks through the door that Torr Waterfield is professional and has a modern approach. Taking into account the influential moments that make up the journey of a client is an important consideration when trying to appeal to them. Walking through the office door is a moment many organisations miss in that journey. The reception acts as an opportunity to set up the feelings you want clients to embrace from the beginning. At Torr Waterfield, the door itself provides a first impression. The woods and metals used around the place give a serious and professional feel. But Mike let me into


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a little secret. When his guests arrive – because a guest is what you are in this office – he purposefully leaves them waiting in reception a few moments longer to let them get to know the company. After being greeted by approachable and welcoming receptionists offering beverages, they’re invited to relax in comfy seats with a TV playing popular daytime shows. As they relax and begin to feel right at home, the eye wanders. The longer they wait, the more they learn. They have time to enjoy the environment Torr Waterfield has created for them. The firm has injected a good dose of humour into the new look designed by local company New English Designs. Slowly, guests start to notice these little quirks. They realise the wall behind the reception desk they glanced at before is not a random pattern; it’s actually decorated with key accounting dates that you need to be in the know about. The border around the room is actually made up of aesthetically pleasing mathematical number patterns along with the relevant pun ‘we all count’. Other quirks such as the silhouette of a scuba diver placed behind the fire extinguisher, a comically placed ‘press here’ arrow explaining how to work the door upon exit, an engaging digital board that displays animations and facts of interest, and a newsstand of branded free industry info all give the impression that the team is a modern, friendly, approachable bunch. The tactic of leaving guests waiting just slightly longer allows them to soak up your brand and the story you’re telling them. And Torr Waterfield isn’t a brand that wants to leave a typical impression. Mike said: “We find that people like to take themselves a little less seriously these days and appreciate light-heartedness in business. “We’re not just accountants, we’re business advisors so that needs to come across in everything we do. We’ve tried to get this message across by providing free information that our clients want or need to know – we’ve even written it on the walls! “It’s important that you know what your clients want as well as how you want to come across to them when you’re creating the first impression of your business.” Telling me about the rebranded workplace, the first impression Mike wants to imprint upon his clients doesn’t stop at the décor. He cleans and freshens up all meeting rooms before guests arrive so they’re greeted with great scents. But there are more subconscious messages at play too. Guests of Torr Waterfield will eventually realise the company’s commitment to creating a greener planet. In 2012, the company switched to paperless systems and more recently has installed electric charging points in its secure car park. “Understanding what your clients care about is key to forming a connection with them. Showing that you’re a company that cares about certain issues is part of your brand. “If people can see how well you take care of your image and your employees, they know the standard you set for taking care of them too.” The result of positive office environments is engaged clients, and an engaged workforce – both of which have bought into the brand on an emotional level. What does your office tell your clients about you? For business advice, contact Torr Waterfield on info@ torrwaterfield.co.uk or call 0116 242 3400.

How to make an impact in summary Take into account the following points when designing your offices to create a lasting first impression: ◆ Decide upon the story you want to tell ◆ Discover what your client wants and needs ◆ Figure out what your client cares about ◆ Consider key moments in your client’s journey ◆ Plan your décor with the above points in mind ◆ Make the place smell great ◆ Leave them waiting!

It’s important that you know what your clients want as well as how you want to come across to them

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Creating harmony in challenging times

Making space work better in our homes, businesses and commercial outlets

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nsuring you have the right layout and feel in your working area increases comfort and productivity,” says Sarah Palmer-Granville, owner of SPG Interior Design. “It also forms part of those vital first impressions for customers and employees alike, whether that’s in person or online.” Sarah has worked on developments ranging from small pub refurbishments to multi-million-pound hospitality and leisure facilities for hotel chains to large holiday park groups. She’s designed and coordinated projects to transform her clients’ venues, offices or shops from tired and awkward to eye-catching and easy to use, facilitating improved sales and profitability. With this vast experience at her fingertips, Sarah launched SPG Interior Design to help businesses enhance performance and customer experience. But just nine months later Covid-19 hit. Sarah looked at how she could support businesses to regroup during these difficult times. Homeworking had been thrust on many employers and it became clear this wasn’t

going to be a temporary solution for many. “Creating an efficient workspace at home is as important as it is within an office, if not more so,” she tells us. During the lockdown, she has dedicated her skillset to helping employers and employees set up to work from home more permanently. For employers wanting to get home working right for their employees, or businesses looking to refurbish, move, or start from scratch, Sarah says it’s important to get an interior designer in early on. “Interiors are not only picking colours and furniture. It is a complex blend of art and science involving great space planning, an understanding of technical, regulatory, and construction details as well as project management. “These invisible skills, if done correctly, can make a huge difference to the success, operation, and feel of any venue, office, home office, or retail outlet. A good first impression relies as much on the unseen details as it does on style.” Contact Sarah at hello@spginteriordesign.co.uk.

Directing the creative vision of your branding Understanding who your competitors really are and the investment that is branding

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he visual brand, and therefore logo, is the very first thing a business can truly take control of,” says David Major, Creative Direction’s artistic director. The De Montfort University alumni insists that making a good first impression begins with understanding who your competitors are. “You are not competing with another local accountant, hairdresser or food outlet. You are competing with the best brands in the world, with the last logo seen, the last bit of packaging purchased or the last website visited. That means you are being judged against the likes of Audi and Coke – all day, every day.” David suggests you begin with your logo, which will allow all marketing collateral to appeal to the correct demographic. “For example, when we rebranded a dairy company, sales increased by 30% in Tesco – just by changing a label. “An effective logo solution will elevate a business or product above its competitors. At its best, it will create an emotional resonance in the minds of potential customers.”

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Creative Direction started life in London before moving to Cornwall, and subsequently opening a second office in Leicester. The business has been around for 30 years and has run workshops for the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and has wide ranging experience in dynamic design for print, packaging, custom coding of non-template websites, and social media campaigns. “Our clients have included HSBC and M&S. Our largest client trades in over 30 countries and we produce their marketing in seven languages, our smallest client is a Pilates instructor… it’s all about the creative fit.” His top tip for those before settling on their branding: “Commission something bespoke that has been crafted for you, something with personality that truly reflects what you do. This will give you a head start against your competitors and it’s the best investment a company can make.” For bespoke logo and branding design, contact Creative Direction on 0116 216 8626.


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Good design will always have

longevity Understanding who your client really is and what they need is the key to a successful project – Newenglish Design explains why

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eicester-based multi-faceted design agency Newenglish Design have lived by this design belief since their inception in 1995, when Wendy and Carl Bebbington realised their passion to start their own agency. “For me, and indeed for everyone who works for our company, good design will always have longevity. We have projects that we completed over 20 years ago which still stand up as strongly today as they did back then,” Wendy tells me on her way for a much-needed break in the hills with their Airstream trailer in tow. Their ambition and passion to bring contemporary design to the Midlands was the result of a culmination of their backgrounds in various high-profile roles in the industry and for them it’s always about: “Discovering the people behind any project, whether for a web site design, digital ad campaign, logo to brand or an entire interior design project. “By discovering who our clients really are we get to the

heart of an authenticity that we then capture in the project; it’s this that makes the whole design work and ultimately last.” This commitment to delving into the ethos of a company to create authentic design played out recently in the interior design work at accountancy firm Torr Waterfield. Creating a space to reflect this welcoming, professional firm meant that Newenglish Design were able to truly refresh the slightly dated office space, leading to not only bringing depth and personality to Torr Waterfield’s brand, but also creating a contemporary, welcoming space for clients and also for the team who work there. “There was a lot of wood! We selectively used paint to introduce some sophisticated colour, adding in design touches such as number artwork, the ‘We all count’ wall at the exit, a bespoke clock, amongst other delights, as well as replacing

THEY’VE SINCE TOLD US THAT NEW CLIENTS HAVE BEEN WON BASED ON THEIR VISIT TO THE SPACE AND THE POSITIVE AND ACCURATE IMPRESSION IT GAVE

tired furniture and adding feature lighting. Torr Waterfield are accountants who truly care about their customers and the businesses they run; our aim was to reflect that confidently in the design. They’ve since told us that new clients have been won based on their visit to the space and the positive and accurate impression it gave. That, to us, is just so rewarding.” With a passion for good design that is infectious and an attitude towards creating stunning spaces which are authentic, Newenglish Design continue to produce considered design in a variety of spaces and through their designs across the UK. As office spaces once again become an integral part of life, how can your workspace become a place where you, your team and your clients want to be? Newenglish.co.uk design@newenglish.co.uk 0116 291 5375.

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Adopting the ‘Millennial Mindset’ The last few months have seen us all as individuals and professionals tweaking our routines, perspectives and priorities and despite some initial teething problems, many have now adapted to this new way of working, which some may say the millennial generation have been rooting for. Whilst the difference in generational attitudes to working has been discussed in depth over the years, COVID-19 has pushed new ways of working upon us all and has provided an opportunity for professionals of all sectors, ages and experience to break out of the traditional way of working and embrace a flexible approach. For many, this period has provided a time of reflection and the freedom to invest in hobbies, self development or with loved ones. As a result many are actively changing their ‘live to work’ mindset to the millennial ‘work to live’ approach. Whilst this doesn’t mean work is no longer a priority or a passion, it does mean that higher emphasis is placed on efficiency, focus and forward planning to ensure we are working smarter and not harder (as Bananarama put it, ‘it aint what you do it’s the way that you do it!) As a recruitment leader, we possess a variety of strong partnerships with businesses of varying sizes and processes which provide an insight into the ways organisations and employees are responding to the return to work and their newly formed habits. Many employers who previously hadn’t considered employees working from home are now shifting their perceptions, with most overcoming initial trust reservations and basing decisions on productivity and results. With that being said, businesses still believe that the best ideas and performance flow from a connected team and therefore upholding communication and team spirit remains crucial. Employees seem to agree with this concept; results from our most recent survey showed that 81% of individuals are happy and equipped to work from home, but when asked about returning to work 93% answered that they do wish to physically get back into the office. Due to this, despite the millennial approach of home working likely to be favourable amongst employees there are still many pros of returning to the office, including some of the main benefits of social interaction, the sense of identity and being part of a team. For our team particularly, we are looking forward to all being back in the office, united, and like many of our business connections have used this time to review what we do, how we do it and have been planning an exciting project which will be revealed soon!

If you are interested in having a conversation with our team for recruitment support or expertise, please get in touch.

0116 254 9710

www.eileenrichards.co.uk

@ERRECRUITMENT1


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Kazzoo in the Community: tech lessons for the isolated An IT company is teaching people how to use their computers and mobile phones WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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he initiative that teaches those who find it difficult to communicate with friends and family to use technology helping them stay connected, launched on September 1. ‘Kazzoo in the Community’ aims to benefit the elderly, disabled, or people who just aren’t confident with technology and may have experienced loneliness during lockdown. Kazzoo IT will be providing 90 minutes of one-to-one IT lessons and general tech support to those who would benefit from being able to use technology to prevent loneliness or simply to deal with the new digital age. Chris Cain, who owns Kazzoo IT, said: “It’s for people who are isolated or on their own with no friendship group, for grandparents who have people they’d love to speak to, and anyone who is frightened of technology and doesn’t know how to use it. “We want to enable them

to search the internet, do their shopping online, and talk to their family and friends on a tablet, phone or computer because that interaction could make their day and improve their wellbeing.” A professional, DBS-checked Kazzoo IT expert will visit the homes of those who have made an appointment. Social distancing will be adhered to and PPE will be in place at all times. When the lesson is over, they’ll be invited to free bi-weekly video get-togethers along with all other users of Kazzoo in the Community. Chris hopes the service users will be introduced to a variety of new people and reduce feelings of loneliness. The scheme will be charged at £60 to cover business costs, and £5 will be donated to Focus, a charity that inspires young people aged 13 to 25 to make positive changes in their lives. Kazzoo in the Community will run on a trial period from September to December, with a

IT’S FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ISOLATED OR ON THEIR OWN WITH NO FRIENDSHIP GROUP, FOR GRANDPARENTS WHO HAVE PEOPLE THEY’D LOVE TO SPEAK TO

view to continue in the future. “If this takes off, I will be able to take on Focus beneficiaries to carry out the IT lessons and support after we train them. Even if it’s just them being able to learn in our offices, speak to people, or host one of the video meetings, they’ll be a part of it and it will be great on their CV. “Some of these young people are from vulnerable families and they might not have any IT access, or know how to use it. Having this opportunity will build their confidence and they can then go out and train others too. “I like helping out the community because they’ll help you out in the future hopefully. There’s not really a financial incentive for us. We’re giving back because we can and we want to!” If you or someone you know would benefit from a tech lesson, email Chris Cain on community@kazzoo.com or call 0116 4979842. NICHE | 47


advice for starting your own business Fashion entrepreneur Barbara Fidler made her success through detailed business planning. She explains how she did it and gives her advice to other start-ups WORDS BY AMANDA PATTERSON

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arbara Fidler took the leap into starting her own business in March this year. She said: “The idea of having my own brand was always there; the passion for working on my own projects started early in university. I was always happier being independent and being in control of my vision.” Throughout the country’s enforced lockdown, Barbara has been able to make her business, A State of Nature, a quick success using her business acumen and resources from the City Business Library. “I make shirts and jackets, by hand in my workshop in my house. I strongly believe in this idea of being an independent maker, who sells handmade products and supports other craftsmen. Getting my fabrics locally is more ethical than securing cheaper materials from other parts of the world. “I believe that people appreciate the transparency of knowing where my materials come from, feeling a personal connection to me, and being exposed to the whole process of making the shirts.” Barbara believes that your supply chain should reflect your ethos, explaining that these relationships allow her to be flexible, manage her finances and secure quality material. Starting a business can be a risky investment. Developing a robust vision and ethos helps to drive a brand, as well as remembering why the businessowner started the business in the first place. This is how Barbara feels she was able to grow A State 48 | NICHE

of Nature. And it’s still growing in terms of shifting and changing, as new ideas, new customers, new methods of promotion come to light. “I’ve developed my brand, built contacts and partners mainly using Instagram,” she told us. She’s done so by approaching influencers, brands and magazines and offering her product in exchange for press. “If I’m going to approach someone from a magazine, say I like the photography editorial – I will find the name of the photographer in the magazine, locate them on Instagram and contact them directly. Let them know where I saw their work, what I liked about it and what I’m proposing – I really believe in the personal touch, it shows that you understand them, you understand their work and share in and appreciate their art.” Having worked for large fashion brands previously, Barbara says it’s important to reach out to people and organisations for help. “I’ve watched and learned processes dedicated to press, merchandising, design, networking, studio management and ordering. “It’s good to recognise the variables of what goes into running a fashion business and the work that you will need to undertake outside of my creative passion. You can’t just be a designer, you have to do the PR, you have to represent the brand, and make sure the product is commercially viable.” Barbara’s business plan involved understanding how she was going to budget for materials and how she was going to reach out to likeminded artists and stockists.


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You can’t just be a designer, you have to do the PR, you have to represent the brand, and make sure the product is commercially viable She explained: “You can create something very innovative, but you have to base it on commercial decisions and set up the necessary connections to realise your vision.” Currently, Barbara is working nine-hour days. Outside her workshop hours, she must set aside time for the “practical stuff”. A State of Nature is still in its early days, so Barbara continues to work out the amount of time it takes to manage the business, outside of the time it takes to make high quality shirts and jackets. “I really love being able to do my work from home. I can take a break and have a cup of tea and relax in the mornings. I get to dictate my schedule; sometimes I will have a slower morning and work slightly later into the evening.” She believes this means A State of Nature can grow organically, whilst ensuring the quality of her work is maintained as the business grows. Her advice to others who want to start a new business: “Take a risk! I didn’t know if I would be able to do what I loved as a job, but it’s important to be brave, be creative, don’t get stuck, take the slower days with the busier days and know that if you try to expose your passion and your talent, you will grow. “Stability can be a mire. If you have a passion, try it out, allow yourself the time to test it out. You can’t just think ‘I’m starting this and I’ll be successful’, but be smart, start small, and approach it with a strong vision and a plan.” She also recommends patience, taking time out to

meditate as real success doesn’t come overnight, but is rather a mixture of hard work, dedication and a bit of luck. It’s also down to believing in yourself and being open to ideas for improvement and advice. And finally, you must be happy about what you’re doing. Starting a business is so personal. You are presenting a part of yourself to the world and opening yourself up for feedback. There are amazing resources out there for anyone with the passion and drive to start up a business just like Barbara did. She was able to use resources like the City Business Library which allows you to plan, to understand your market and find the space required to focus on your idea. City Business Library allows businessowners to make use of free resources online and in your local Leicester community, find the space you need, ask for help, ask for advice, and build the relationships you need to get up and running. For business one-to-ones, market research resources, seminars, networking and events, find the City Business Library at cityoflondon.gov.uk. Find A State of Nature at astateofnature.com, and on Instagram @a_state_of_nature.

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Post-pandemic

outsourcing With businesses set to respond with closer attention to cost efficiency after the pandemic, many look to outsource work which ordinarily would require more staff in office premises and higher outgoings WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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usinesses like JSP Virtual, a company which undertakes small and larger scale admin projects, is seeing a rise in clients using their services. It looks to be further on the rise as businesses try to create safer offices with fewer team members and adopt a more streamlined approach to their processes and costs. Owner of JSP Virtual, Jo Peters, told us: “Like just about everyone, we had an initial setback when the lockdown for the pandemic was announced, but as businesses started to reopen, we found that owners were looking to not only be more efficient with their costs but also that they simply needed help remotely rather than in the office environment.” Jo and her growing and highly skilled team have a vast amount of experience working 50 | NICHE

in high-level administrative roles. They provide extensive services such as PA work, general administration and even credit control work to a range of businesses all seeking the expertise of the team without experiencing the high costs which would often be associated with recruiting these services internally. Their remote receptionist service, in particular, is proving to be hugely beneficial to businesses post-pandemic. “Our state-of-the-art telephonic system means that we are able to provide a highly efficient reception facility for a variety of businesses in the current climate, with social distancing in offices still very much a concern,” Jo explains. Crucially, the team are skilled in a variety of areas and with them undertaking regular training, it means clients gain the

OUR STATEOF-THE-ART TELEPHONIC SYSTEM MEANS THAT WE ARE ABLE TO PROVIDE A HIGHLY EFFICIENT RECEPTION FACILITY FOR A VARIETY OF BUSINESSES

very latest in JSP’s expertise and knowledge. Their friendly and professional approach to acting as an extension of their clients’ existing team is earning them their golden reputation. “We are looking to further expand our team by the end of the year – and in what has been a challenging year for businesses we are aware this is rare indeed! We are very grateful to be able to continue the work that we started and provide these services to businesses who need them most. “Something which I hadn’t anticipated was the rewarding feeling of being involved in so many businesses and feeling like a valued member of so many different teams! It’s really been something myself and the rest of JSP Virtual have and will continue to enjoy.” For more information, visit jspvirtual.co.uk.


HEADLINE SPONSOR

Meet the Finalists An interesting year has been had by Niche Business Awards’ organisers Cross Productions The panel of independent judges has worked remotely for the first time since the inception of the awards ceremony in 2014. Six years of awarding companies in Leicestershire with much-deserved recognition has seen some significant changes to the way the annual event is run, but the challenge of a pandemic brought about the most impactful changes to the process than ever before. Along with other companies, Cross Productions set about re-evaluating its methods. Working with the 2020 headline sponsor Assured Energy, the coronavirus compromise for Cross meant taking its semi-finalist and finalist announcements online. To much delight of those involved, the digital announcement was a hit with the social following of the Niche Business Awards. It also meant making changes to the judging process. Cross was due this year to introduce new methods of adjudicating the entrants with a more thorough approach for its judges to set out on. But with remote judging being essential, extra time and effort was spent into researching each of the semi-finalists and finalists. The result was a group of three finalists across 14 categories. In our Meet the Finalists section, we introduce a handful of those who made it to the finals. Read about what made them stand out to the judges, where they came from, and where they’re headed. The new date for the Niche Business Awards 2020 is Friday January 22, 2021 at Athena HEADLINE SPONSOR To register your interest to attend the ceremony, or for guidance on applying for next year, email info@crossproductions.co.uk.


the Finalists BEST NEW BUSINESS Sponsored by Hollingsworths Solicitors DLT Roofing The Secret Garden Willsow Ltd

DIGITAL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Growth Partners Plc Rhino Software LTD Serendipity Unity

FAMILY BUSINESS Sponsored by Everards Imperial Roofing Charles Bentley & Son Samworth Brothers

INNOVATION IN BUSINESS Sponsored by ER Recruitment ChatHealth Spotted App Willsow Ltd

BUSINESS GROWTH Sponsored by The Lettings Business Imperial Roofing Supplies Paradigm Wills and Legal Services Pattersons Commercial Law BEST SMALL BUSINESS Sponsored by Leicester Castle Business Imperial Roofing Supplies MamaBabyBliss Leicester XCLUU

RISING STAR Sponsored by The Turnaround CEO Arif Voraji: Help the Homeless Leicester Claire Herbert: Gateley PLC Nicole Martin: Core Aquatics

HEADLINE SPONSOR

EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR Sponsored by BP Legal Solicitors AJIB Furnley House PRP Consulting BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE Sponsored by Kazzoo Soar Valley Press Paradigm Wills and Legal Services UFIT LEICESTERSHIRE CHARITY OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals Bamboozle Focus Charity Leicester Children’s Holidays EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE Sponsored by Torr Waterfield Bilingual Day Nursery Ashby DMU Works Enterprise Primary PPA Cover PROFESSIONAL SERVICES Sponsored by The Miller Partnership Furnley House Paradigm Wills and Legal Services Rutland House Counselling BUSINESSMAN OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Pattersons Commercial Law Malcolm Foulkes-Arnold: Corporate Architecture Paul Rowlett: Everything Branded Simon Winfield: Red Monkey Play

BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR Sponsored by Paradigm Wills And Legal Services Andrea Gray: PPL PRS LTD Tajinder Banwait: Urban Apothecary London Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan: The Zinthiya Trust

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meet the

From kitchen table

to global brand A perfumer-alchemist and her journey to becoming a finalist in this year’s Businesswoman of the Year category

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he brand we know today as Urban Apothecary London, began in 2010 from a kitchen table. During maternity leave for her first child, Tajinder Banwait set up the business. The “perfumer-alchemist that brings an unusual approach to the pairing of botanicals,” has built a unique storytelling brand around candles, diffusers, alongside bath and beauty products, all infused with her luxurious scents. To help take the brand from her kitchen table across the globe, the entrepreneur attended the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme. Learning from the best academics in the country from top

universities such as Oxford Said Business School and Aston University, led to Urban Apothecary London being evaluated in minute detail to understand where the brand had come from and where it was headed. An important part of this was exploring Tajinder’s passion for fragrance. As a child she would mix fragrant blossoms in water-filled jars. This progressed to her later philosophy that scent is the key to unlocking memories enabling you to relive lost moments more vividly than any other sense. The much-loved brand has been featured in international titles such as Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, Marie Claire

and Vogue amongst others. After Tajinder secured high-end international retail partners in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and beyond, it is now being discovered all over the world. Urban Apothecary London has been named New Business of the Year with the Leicester Mercury, and was listed in the prestigious Startup 100 List of 2014 where the brand was ranked at 59. Within the early weeks of 2020, setting up for an exciting year in business, Tajinder gained new distributors in Denmark and Iceland. To discover the Urban Apothecary London luxury fragrance collection, visit urbanapothecarylondon.com and join the fragrance conversation @urbanapothecarylondon on Instagram.

No SME left behind Founded in 2015, Rhino Software was started to create easy-to-use technologies to help ensure Small Businesses were not left behind in a world that is changing rapidly

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s the first company in the UK to integrate to the new HMRC Making Tax Digital Platform, Rhino Software Limited have always been pioneering in their approach, with rapid responses to the needs and requirements of modern businesses. This year has required this quick-thinking approach in particular with the Covid-19 pandemic. “We reacted quickly to the current Covid-19 crisis and added a complete suite of e-Commerce Solutions to help SMEs diversify and adapt that included online Click and Collect (with Social Distancing), Online Delivery Service, Public Gatherings Booking Services with Capacity Management and Online Retailing – all of which have been implemented with accuracy as well as much needed speed!” Founder Eugene Blaine explains. These new features link into the other Rhino features that include contact management and accounting, providing customers with a powerful platform to run and grow their business. Highly cost effective for businesses, Rhino offer the

entire solution for £30+VAT per month with no hidden costs. With a passion to create effective solutions for clients, Eugene tells us: “I have been very fortunate and privileged to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people over the past 30 years on a wide range of projects; from my first project that built the first Comic Relief Red Nose System for the BBC, to my first company Atlantic Global that supplied business solutions to leading Banks, Pharmaceuticals and Insurance companies that was eventually acquired by KeyedIn Solutions based in the US.” “Delighted” to be finalists in the Digital Business of the Year category in the upcoming Niche Business Awards, Eugene explained how great it is to “have been recognised in this way”. Rhino Software will continue to work closely with the SME sector in the UK, delivering the very best in advanced software solutions. Find out more at rhinoapps.com. NICHE | 53


Trio of tributes for

Paradigm Wills & Legal Services The company is the only entrant to make it through to the finals in three categories WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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eceiving an influx of nominations, Paradigm Wills and Legal Services has been put through to the final round of three awarding categories. They’re in the running for an award win in Best Customer Services, Business Growth, and Professional Services. Judges were impressed by the supporting evidence provided by co-founders Bhavin Gandhi and Satwinder Sidhu. Bhavin said: “I think we possibly stood out to judges because our customer service doesn’t stop at our clients. We also support where possible in the local community. “Supporting the Zinthiya Trust, we helped a local family who could not afford to purchase a school uniform for their child who has disabilities, and were concerned that by not having official uniform that their child could be subject to bullying. Without a second thought we

54 | NICHE

were happy to support this request and see it through on behalf of the charity. “We also support Menphys and Hope Against Cancer as part of the local community and charities.” The Paradigm Wills and Legal Services pair are known for truly caring about their clients, their lives, and their families. When an emergency case comes up where a client is going in for urgent surgery at 3am, and the company acts immediately, this kind of reputation becomes inevitable. Satwinder said: “Bhavin took the call at 10pm to take instructions from the client at their hospital bedside. The Wills and Lasting Power of Attorneys had to be drafted correctly and delivered for signatures before the client went in for surgery at 3am.” Paradigm Wills and Legal Services has on many occasions provided a fast and efficient service to clients needing last

WITH THE NATURE OF OUR BUSINESS WE ARE VERY EMPATHETIC

minute services whether its due to travelling, critical illness or clients that are due to have high risk medical procedures. Satwinder added: “With the nature of our business we are very empathetic towards our clients. We may have clients telling us about sensitive or confidential matters within their families. “We always manage to find a solution to what it is they want to achieve and how they want to leave and protect their estate for their loved ones.” In the past two years, the company has outgrown its old offices and made a move to the city centre. The pair say that working around the clock for much of 2017 and 2018, and networking as much as possible getting to know Leicester business people, is how they’ve achieved their success. Find out more about Paradigm Wills and Legal Services at paradigm-wills.com.


meet the

Challenging

social injustice and inequality

Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, founder of the Zinthiyia Trust is one of three finalists for Businesswoman of the Year

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riven by “social injustice and inequality,” Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan has founded ventures to confront community issues. One of them is the Zinthiya Trust supporting disadvantaged local women and families. She’s also responsible for Tomorrowtogether, providing long term employment for the unemployed, as well as She Inspires (Global), and the Leicester Community Shop providing low cost food to prevent food poverty. A Fellow of various organisations including the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Zinthiya has secured five award wins for Zinthiya Trust since 2019 and was listed among the NatWest WISE 100 Women. Despite all her achievements, she hopes this latest award badge will recognise not herself but the contribution made by social business to the community. “The majority of people are not aware of how much the social sector contributes to the local economy,” Zinthiya said. “The sector brings in millions of pounds each year that

is spent to sustain thousands of jobs, support local people and build thriving communities. Yet we are viewed through this very Victorian lens as ‘tin shakers’. “Often people ask me if my staff are paid and I try to help them understand that running a charity is as challenging as running a business and yes, people working in this sector need to be paid. Like everyone, they have bills to pay and families to feed. They also perform highly skilled jobs which need recognising.” Setting up a refuge provision for women fleeing violence has been her most rewarding achievement. “Knowing I have moved them to a happier place where they can live a free life without fear of violence makes me most happy, as well as the menstruation project allowing women to live with dignity. “I value freedom and dignity. Why should it be a luxury to others?” Find out more at zinthiyatrust.org.

The secret

success A hair salon that opened just six months before lockdown has been shortlisted as a Best New Business finalist in the Niche Business Awards 2020

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nstagram hit and relaxation retreat The Secret Garden can be found in Queens Road. Its intriguing traditional Victorian exterior transforms into a contemporary, bright garden-like space bursting with botanical beauty inside. Run by friends Darren Cunningham and George Waterfield, the salon has an impressive reputation behind it. Both worked for salons previously, leading Darren to work with local celebrities such as Sam Bailey, and taking George to assist celebrity hair stylist Chris Appleton. “We were both just ready to move on,” explains George onthe subject of how the pair came up with the idea for The Secret Garden. “We wanted to create something different. We didn’t want the ordinary black chairs and white walls. We wanted to create a salon that was bursting with creativity, a place where our clients can relax and take in the whole experience in.” Blue’s Anthony Costa and Made in Chelsea’s Georgia

‘Toff’ Toffolo were clients of The Secret Garden within its first two months in business. With award titles quickly stacking up, celebrity clients have been drawn to the salon. The Secret Garden is currently a finalist for the Best New Boutique Salon category in the Most Wanted Creative Head Awards 2020. Darren has also been named a finalist for two years running in the L’Oreal Colour Trophy awards and is also awaiting the results of the Colour World Genius Awards after becoming a finalist this year. So no surprise that the appointment books were full before Leicester went into a second lockdown. Since being able to reopen on August 3, Darren and George have been making their way through Leicester’s long overdue root touch-ups and lockdown-catastrophe DIY trims. Book an appointment by calling 0116 478 4982, emailing thesecretgarden25@outlook.com, or send a message to the Facebook page @TheSecretGardenHair. NICHE | 55


GOING


NICHE COVER STORY

Leicester’s Little Theatre is usually a venue for stage shows produced by local companies, although it has been in darkness throughout the lockdown. Niche magazine’s parent company, creative marketing agency Cross Productions, decided to light up the stage again for a photoshoot with its personnel. Here’s why... WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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he stage was still set with Ruby Savage’s design for Blue Stockings; the popular play sadly cut short as lockdown began. We chose The Little Theatre in Dover Street for its Leicester roots. Its people are passionate about supporting local talent, which is what we’re all about here at Niche’s parent company, Cross Productions. Taking centre stage for the first time after being in business for seven years, we wanted Niche readers to meet the people behind the pages. Now, as Editor, I’m stepping outside the team to shine the interview spotlight back on our company. This September/October cover features the striking, animated image of the Cross team wearing face masks. In the future, issue 39 will represent the poignant time when they were most deeply affected by the pandemic. To them it symbolises the success of the company – and that of its clients – making it through these turbulent months since March 2020.

? UP

that the concept for this issue’s front cover was formed. Ultimately, it’s artwork that will resonate independently with each individual. But, for the creative marketing agency’s employees, it portrays how they’ve seen the world during this time; as if elements of it were untrue, as well as the pride they now feel having been through the struggle of coming to terms with the reality of the situation. Supporting local businesses and communities is at the core of Cross and why it exists. Local photographer Hitz Rao, who doubled up as entertainer, worked effortlessly to snap the perfect images. Local Artistic Designer of Creative Direction, David Major, worked on the image, giving it a colourful and animation expression. Local company Maskology acted quickly to provide the branded face coverings after a last-minute phone call. And, of course, local venue The Little Theatre helpfully and humbly hosted the shoot.

ELEVATING BRAND POTENTIAL

Niche Magazine, a product of Cross, personifies the ethos of the creative marketing agency. It brings businesses together with the purpose of building a thriving local economy. Niche exemplifies Cross’ ‘Going up?’ elevator slogan, which conveys the idea that they can journey with clients through the levels to elevate their brand awareness and opportunities to do business. With pages showcasing large corporations through to SMEs, advice and guidance for businessowners, entertainment and business news, Cross created this bi-monthly publication to help support all things local,

Cross Productions takes the stage

THE STORY BEHIND THE COVER

These times, over the course of this pandemic, have felt “animated and surreal” for the team, according to CEO Jenny Cross. It’s why the colourful cartoon-like cover image was created, and it represents their ‘outside the box’ thoughts and ideas – something they do for their clients too. Jenny said: “We’ve had so many changes in the company throughout lockdown and one of the changes implemented was allocated thinking time.” Yes, thinking time. Getting paid to do nothing but simply think and browse the internet for a percentage of your working week is somewhat guilt-inducing, but Jenny believes this is how great ideas can be formed. And it’s due to this thinking time

building awareness of local companies and initiatives. With Niche, Cross has the ability to spread positivity and good news articles throughout the county – and beyond, with the online format. Expanding on the magazine’s rationale, Jenny Cross said: “Niche is Leicester’s leading business to business publication, which has been feeding the business minds of our readers for more than seven years now. Adding value to our content, we have a variety of contributors across a range of industries offering their expertise in order to help others succeed. We are eternally grateful to each one of them – it takes time and effort. This reflects the supportive business community we enjoy in Leicester.


CROSS PRODUCTIONS’ TOP TIPS FROM… THE CEO: Jenny Cross

Strategic marketing will generate more opportunities to do business. It’s important to raise awareness of your personal brand and awareness of your actual brand, because this is how you will build trust and rapport with potential clients, which will in turn open the door to those new opportunities.

THE OPERATIONS DIRECTOR: Leanne Latham

Getting out there to network is one way of generating more opportunities for yourself. Whether it’s a breakfast event or award ceremony, introducing yourself to more people and mingling with other business leaders is a great way to get yourself noticed.

THE MARKETING DIRECTOR: Sally Smith

Business owners can feel overwhelmed with the choice of marketing out there, whether it’s social media, a magazine, or events; there’s all sorts you can do. I think the important aspect is to just take one bite-sized chunk at first. Try to find where you think you’re going to best interact with your audience and measure the results so you can then move forward.

THE DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER: Becci Houlston

Knowing what you want out of your digital marketing is key; it could be to generate leads or build brand awareness. If your business was a film, you wouldn’t put a movie poster out without knowing the gender of your audiences, their age, their interests and where they live. Things like that would all tick in your head if you were putting a movie together. It’s the same for your business. Who are they? Where are they going to be when they find your content? The way you write content needs to be personal to that audience that you’re trying to reach.

THE HEAD OF DESIGN STUDIO: Susan Holmes

What makes a good advert is a hook. You need to draw people in. How to do this is with a good headline, a good picture, and use of colour. People are very visual and they will stop if they see something that leaves a good first impression. It’s good to give a unique selling point, because it shows people you can offer them something that someone else can’t. People also need to know how they can benefit from your company, not just read a list of your services.

THE EDITOR: Kerry Smith

Reading all forms of different content online, whether it’s a blog, a news article, or a LinkedIn post, helps you to remember when creating your own content that you’re writing for a specific reader using a specific platform. People are mostly uninterested why you’re the best in your field; they want to know what they can gain by reading this piece of content you’ve put in front of them. Your content must inspire, inform, entertain and/or engage.

“Success breeds success, which is why our team’s whole ethos is around bringing successful leaders together through print media, digital and in person, giving people across Leicestershire access to free advice and knowledge from experts in many fields.” Positivity is further propelled via the Niche Business Awards, which have been a success now for six years. As of last year, they have been the sole responsibility of Operations Director Leanne Latham – from the theme and entertainment to the immaculate timing, winners’ song choices and organisation of trophies, brochures and menu choice. It’s an annual celebration of local people and businesses which also gives entrants the opportunity to network and raise their profile throughout a 12-month process of nominations, interviews, judging and preparation. Coronavirus caught Cross off-guard and the team felt reluctant and unsure at first when making dramatic business-changing decisions such as postponing the awards ceremony. Leanne has her work cut out with a potential two award ceremonies to prepare for in 2021, if all goes well. She says she is determined to deliver the much-anticipated event to those who are missing out this year, as she’s aware of how vital and valued the connections made at the ceremony are for guests. Jenny explained: “It was tough making such big and urgent decisions. But lockdown gave us time to completely transform and refine the processes across the whole company for the better. “The last couple of months have been emotional at times with the second lockdown. We have put all our best efforts into advising and connecting with others who we may be able to help, and supporting them wherever we can. “Leicestershire is an extraordinary place; it’s one of the largest and likely the most supportive business networks within the UK. I have every confidence we, as a business community, will pull Leicester through these challenging times and come out stronger than ever before.”

TAKING BRANDS TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Cross is also responsible for creating clients’ strategic marketing, planning and implementation with a variety of specialist services they say are proven to generate the best return on investment for clients. This often involves company leaders letting go of their limiting beliefs and entrusting their brand to someone else. Very much aware that nothing grows in a comfort zone, Cross also pushes itself with continual growth. Later this year, we will see the launch of first ever Real Entrepreneur’s Club Magazine, off the back of the success of the Real Entrepreneurs Club, which Cross has been responsible for organising for the past four years. The Entrepreneurs Club and its magazine are very much about highlighting the emotional journeys of businesspeople as they share their trials and tribulations, and their honest and open stories of how they have overcome hurdles in pursuit of success. It’s through sharing these stories that we can all learn and progress, Cross believes. Publications run by Cross, as well as all other print and digital material, are overseen by Head of Design Studio, Susan Holmes. She’s adept in designing eye-catching layouts that resonate with a brand’s audience. There’s some psychology involved and a whole lot of experience when it comes to designing magazines, fliers, brochures, adverts, and other materials, she tells me. Supervising design across the board and ensuring all content is delivered in a palatable way that’s easy for readers to


NICHE COVER STORY

take in and understand within seconds is a big job. But it’s something she’s used to, having worked for numerous BBC publications and other fast-paced businesses. Then there’s the company’s social media management. Becci Houlston, who heads up the digital team, is responsible for selecting the right platforms and messages for Cross’ social media management clients to meet their marketing objectives. She oversees a multitude of clients’ social pages to engage with target audiences and build relationships with customers. Becci and her team ensure every piece of content improves the clients’ digital footprint and works towards generating opportunities for them to do more business. Cross considers LinkedIn to be a great tool for optimising future marketing activities and growing brand awareness. It’s worked for their clients so far, which is why LinkedIn training is now offered as a fully-fledged package

We’re not looking to be the biggest company, but we are looking to be the best

– as opposed to the origins of this aspect of the business, when Marketing Director Sally Smith simply shared her hints and tips when she had the time. She dedicates much of her week, outside of working hours, to supporting small businesses and charities that may not have the budget for digital management. She’s known in the office for always being on the lookout for new opportunities for her clients, whether it’s applying for an MBE or connecting two businesses that can help each other’s cause. Jenny summed it up by saying: “We’re not looking to be the biggest company, but we are looking to be the best, and to ensure we service our clients to an exceptional level. It means becoming an extension of their teams. We don’t take on clients without clear objectives in mind, which is why each head of department is seeing success after success.” Learn more about Cross Productions at crossproductions.co.uk.


Engaging experiences

in marketing The marketing world. It’s every company for itself, or so it can feel anyway

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e’ve put together a number of companies within this feature who are accessible and have the answers to your marketing queries. They all have one thing in common: they understand how engaging experiences can be formed for consumers. Consumers are inundated with content on and offline. It’s something they have to endlessly scroll through, and they’ll either scroll past, or pause the scroll to engage with your business. Adverts, let’s face it, can be annoying. Unless they’re specifically entertaining – which often has a time and a place – then most of us aren’t likely to be interested. Initial thoughts tend to range from ‘what’s the catch?’ to ‘stop bothering me’ when an advert that doesn’t appeal to you 60 | NICHE

pops up. In the 2015 film Joy directed by David O. Russell, Bradley Cooper’s character, shopping channel QVC Executive Neil Walker, tells Joy: “A very smart guy once said: you tell somebody something once, they don’t listen. You tell somebody something four times, they don’t listen. By the ninth time you say it, they begin to hear you. That’s why we’re on 24 hours a day.” The same idea can be applied to today’s digital marketing field, but the film is set in the 90s and times have changed here and there. Nowadays, businesses have to put their message in front of consumers repeatedly still, but with targeted, personalised, engaging experiences that present the ‘real’ side to a

YOU TELL SOMEBODY SOMETHING ONCE, THEY DON’T LISTEN. YOU TELL SOMEBODY SOMETHING FOUR TIMES, THEY DON’T LISTEN. BY THE NINTH TIME YOU SAY IT, THEY BEGIN TO HEAR YOU

business. A company has to put thought into who exactly its audience is and come up with dedicated targeted experiences to put in front of them, as well as understanding where to find those audience members online. These engaging experiences are made up of – but not limited to – photography, videography, interactive social media posts, branded products, human connection, and storytelling. Creating a real, emotional connection between you and your consumer through the use of your future adverts and PR, is how you will inspire them to sign up to your mailing list, to download your top tips, to watch your video – and by the ninth engagement, maybe they’ll even purchase your product or service too.


NICHE FEATURE

Imagery

in marketing planning Brand photography must evolve to engage consumers. Jay Nandha explains how WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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hotography has formed part of the most primitive business plans since its invention in the 1800s. It’s been a staple component of building brand voice and awareness. But as social media changed our consumer habits, brands’ marketing plans had to develop new ways of keeping us engaged. Headshots and web content have risen in importance. In a fast-paced social media world where we are bombarded constantly with content, businesses have to keep up. Imagery plays a huge part in engaging audiences. Tweets with images, for example, are 150 times more likely to be retweeted than those without (Shareable). Headshot and web content photographer Jay Nandha has been capturing the essence of company brands since 2009. He runs and owns J Nandha Photography & Video and has a team of photographers and videographers who he has trained to reflect his style of work. “A website is often the first impression that consumers receive,” Jay said. “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. If it’s standoffish

or uninteresting, then that client will never come in. I make sure my pictures and videos are natural and welcoming. “The right impression needs to be made with high quality, professional photos and videos. Video is also more visual proof and it allows you to gain more trust and credibility.” Competition in business has increased as more take to social

THE RIGHT IMPRESSION NEEDS TO BE MADE WITH HIGH QUALITY, PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS

JAY’S TOP TIPS HEADSHOTS

Colours: What colours do you use on your website? Wearing colours to compliment them will support your brand personality and make your company recognisable instantly. Backgrounds: For formal PR, people tend to go for white backgrounds so a simple black background will stand out more in magazines and newspapers.

WEB CONTENT

Details: For close-up shots such as product or office photos, be sure to clean screens, keyboards and desks. This will save you time in Photoshop later. For hand shots, moisturiser is key! Prep: You should be spending more time setting up the scene than taking the photos. Think about lighting, angles and framing.

media to put their message out there, meaning a strong online presence is crucial. Jay’s headshots have evolved with that idea. “A lot of people think a headshot is just a plain background with studio lights. I spend more time with my subject to understand who they are and what they do, because their picture must reflect that. “I worked with a carpenter recently. He was sure he wanted a designer wood background. I took the pictures, but I had another idea. In his natural workspace, we went for more fun shots and used sawdust to create movement. “Web content and headshots should be reviewed once a year. And the prices don’t need to be extortionate. A one-hour shoot could produce 30 images to be used across your platforms. Once you’ve had your use out of them, it’s time for another shoot.” Lately, Jay’s been producing images for clients using social distancing methods. He’s also eager to resume wedding photography and cinematography. To see more of Jay’s work, visit jnandha.com. NICHE | 61


NICHE BUSINESS

Forum

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE CHRIS GOODMAN Managing Director at Soar Valley Press

HOW TO REFRESH YOUR MARKETING Recently, generating custom and attracting new clients has been difficult for many small businesses. Reimagining your brand and what this looks like moving forwards, can help grow your client base again. Here are some of our top tips for refreshing your marketing collateral following a crisis. Assess your ‘look’ One vital element of your brand is your branding. Consider if your collateral is still relevant and if your branding still reflects your company. Confirm your direction As a result of the crisis, many of our businesses have adapted. Some have changed their product offering, and others have realigned their messaging to replicate the current needs of consumers. Ensure you reconsider your goals and identify gaps where you need to build a presence. Make sure these goals are reflected in your company collateral to ensure you are moving forwards. Identify your target audience If your brand identity has changed, it’s likely your collateral may not resonate with your target audience anymore. Take time to get to know how their preferences have changed. Build buyer personas by considering who your ideal client is: their demographics, background, and why they need your services. When writing your new collateral, ensure you keep your buyer persona in the forefront of your mind. Address their problem, tell them how you’ll solve it, and use the right messaging to engage them. Consider new ways to communicate With everybody in the same position, competition will be tough. Coming up with creative ways to stand out and communicate with your audience is a great way to win new customers. 62 | NICHE

Many people think they have an idea of who their ideal clients are, but my question is: do they really? For example, we offer marketing so therefore our clients are people who need help getting more sales. No! I want to work with people who understand what marketing is and would be happy to build a long term relationship to increase their brand awareness and, in turn, generate more leads. To work out your ideal clients, there are a few factors to consider: demographic, geographic and physiographic. Take your top five clients and see how they break down into these sectors. Remember: your top five clients aren’t always the ones that spend the most money. They may be the efficient payers or the stress-free service ones as they are also time savers. Demographically, they are

SALLY SMITH Marketing Director at Cross Productions entrepreneurial. Normally, they have set up their own small business which has grown. They’re usually aged between 35 and 55. Geographically, my clients live in Leicestershire with a business base in Leicester. This is because I like to go and physically see each client. Psychographics tell me that they usually hold season tickets to a local sporting venue such as LCFC, Tigers or Riders. They often support local charities and are advocates for these. Knowing your client is just one element of creating a marketing strategy. Once you know your client you can work out how and where to market to them.

MAKING AN IMPACT WITH DIGITAL MARKETING PETE FROST Managing Director at Unity As Oscar Wilde once said: ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. Consumers are quick to build a judgement based on initial impressions. Our society is inundated with advertisements. You could possibly have the best product or service available, but your customers won’t be enticed if the feel and look of your brand doesn’t engage them. Digital marketing has revolutionised the way we shop and browse. It has become vital to ensure you have a strong digital presence. Thanks to digital marketing platforms such as websites, social media channels, blogs, Google My Business listings, Google shopping, price comparison sites, online directories, reviews and

testimonials, consumers can find everything they need to know about a product or service, before making purchasing decisions. This is why at Unity we get to know you and your brand to fully understand your goals, brand personality and customers, so we can create targeted marketing campaigns and an accurate digital imprint of your business. We ensure your online space represents your branding correctly to create long-lasting impressions. We believe consistency is a key part of the branding equation. To gain the maximum impact of your marketing efforts, you need to ensure your branding is consistent and portrays a true representation of who you are and the services you offer. During the current climate, it has become more important to explore opportunities that will help to build your brand identity and customer relationships, creating trust, loyalty and the perfect first impression.


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of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand they are emotionally engaged with - Startup Business Box

ANIMATION & MASCOTS


NICHE FEATURE

The know-how

in SEO

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any have struggled through the economic crisis resulting from coronavirus. One way businesses are preparing to get back on track is through the use of SEO. Digital marketing company Marketing Voice believes there will be more opportunities for all businesses in Leicester if there are driven individuals that are growing outwards. For this reason, the team doesn’t hold any of their knowledge and experience back. The aim is to help kick start the digital marketing journeys of other businesses. Brand Developer of Marketing Voice, Harmeet Singh, had built a respectable portfolio of property clients across four cities (Leicester, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, and Leamington Spa) through SEO (Google ranking in simple terms), where his true skills were within understanding and using the ecosystem of Google. After meeting Taseer

SEO specialists reveal the Google ranking process that landed their company in the top 10 digital marketing agencies

Ahmad, a researcher in digital psychology and Marketing Voice’s Co-Founder and Marketing Strategist, the skill set was complete; vision met operations. They formed the company in June 2018 – and since then, the service has supported businesses to develop their brand and increase their customer base. Below, Harmeet outlines and shares his Google ranking

process that allowed the company to become a top 10 digital marketing agency in London, Birmingham and Leicester (according to Google, of course). Learn how to apply SEO by getting in touch with Harmeet on LinkedIn or by emailing harmeet@marketingvoice.co.uk. You can also visit the office over at the LCB Depot in Leicester City Centre.

THE SEO-HOW 1 Google uses social concepts and has the same challenge of identifying an authoritative website amongst hundreds, just like finding the influencer at a networking event with 100 different people. Nine times out of 10, it is the person with the most connections of the higher quality. For the SEO of your website, this translates to backlinks: when another credible website hyperlinks to yours. 2 Quality content pieces that are well structured and are written around trending and/or relevant topics. This also means that rather than speaking about your specific services, explore topics from an industry perspective. Demonstrating your knowledge is key for SEO. You can do this by writing quality content pieces. 3 Know your key terms and their search volume on Google. What’s the point in ranking for a term that no one searches for? NICHE | 65


TECH on the rise

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ost-pandemic, all industries are seeing new changes and having to find ways to adapt and thrive in a new environment. The tech industry is no different, with many industries requiring new technologies in order to meet these emerging, growing and changing demands. With tech supporting our modern lives, we are calling on it now more than ever to meet a growth in our reliance on it. For businesses, whether supporting social distancing measures within premises, creating greater communication methods in home offices or improving security and contingency plans for businesses to ensure they are better protected, there are countless methods of remaining robust in the new environment. But, they need to have watertight technological systems. Then when you consider the rise in technologies in our own homes from a domestic use perspective, tech has been relied upon increasingly to meet demands for our entertainment through social media and video calling apps, as well as home medical assessment apps and of course a need for better and faster internet connections. In this feature we take a look at some of the technology that is making an impact.

Investment choices during a pandemic Win FX empowers better investment choices with Bloomberg alternative fintech

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in FX was founded in 2018 with an industry-beating algorithm that facilitated over $500m in trades within the first six months of its soft launch. We interviewed its CEO, August Pham, on how the pandemic has affected the industry. NICHE: How has your technology been useful this year? AUGUST: Since the pandemic, retail investors account for over 20% of the stock-market activity, on average – a 100% increase from 2019! However, a lack of necessary experience, knowledge and resources will invite unwanted risks and traps, especially during these uncertain times. By leveraging technology, we are able to

66 | NICHE

level the playing field so that everyone can participate in the financial markets with a fair chance of succeeding. We provide AI-powered automated trading strategies and institutional-level data and analysis that gives investors the tools to make better informed decisions. N: What changes have you seen during this time? A: The pandemic has disrupted supply chains and how businesses interact with customers. In a way, it forces businesses to evolve sooner, innovate, and make pivotal technology shifts. Businesses are more customer-centric in this new competitive environment. N: What advice do you have for businesses in times like these? A: Jeff Bezos said it best when he described Amazon’s secret sauce as an ‘obsessive compulsive focus on the customer, rather than the competitors’. While our competitors are charging exorbitant fees, we ask ourselves: ‘how

can we best serve our customers?’ This way, we end up with the most competitive product and services, and loyal customers. N: What services does Win FX offer? A: Institutional-quality tools in your pocket. We’re levelling the playing field for everyday retail traders and investors with free and affordable tools designed to democratise the investment process. Strategies, education, data and analysis consumed in a modern way. An alternative to sky-high professional fees and $24,000 annually for a Bloomberg Terminal dating back since the 1980s. To find out more about the latest investment technologies, visit Win FX at winfx.co


NICHE SPECIAL

TECH

How comprehensive is your website hosting package? Joey Dudgeon, Creative lead at Insight Consultancy, recommends the vital things to ask your developer about your website today

L

et’s start with what website hosting really is. Just like you pay rent for your office space, you need to do the same with a server and pay for that ‘space’ on the internet. We recently had a call from a local business person who said their website had been hacked. Their developer was unavailable, which left them in a really tricky situation. We did what we do best and we managed to help them get their site back up and running. However, it got us thinking about how we could help our fellow businesses to avoid this situation in the future. Here are a few questions to ask yourself (and your developer).

Do you actually have access to your website? You’d be amazed at how many clients don’t have the login details they need to get into their site. What happens in a crisis, for example, if your website goes down? If you don’t have a care plan before a big event or sale, you could miss out on valuable business, especially if security is compromised. Do you have backups of previous versions of your website? A good website hosting package will have a timeline backup where you can

go back to any point in the website edit history. Do you have access to your domain name? When it’s time for renewal, you’ll need the details to log in and renew it so you don’t lose everything from your website name to emails. Don’t worry, though, we think about all of this for you when we host your website. If you have any questions or would like to receive a free website security audit, fill out your details here at insightconsultancy.co.uk/free-web-audit.

How an outsourced live chat can increase your website sales Online browsing is becoming ever-more popular. Outsourced live chat provider, Chat Ninjas, explains the benefits of a chat window

O

ver the past few months especially, there has been a rise in the use of live chat over several sectors (Response Source). Imagine this: you’re a small business owner, missing out on sales on your website because you have a million things to do. So how do you keep on top of your clients and quickly respond to them, because after all you don’t want to lose their business? Chat Ninjas is an outsourced web chat management business which handles all of your website visitor queries. From taking down visitors’ details to helping them complete their purchases, we’ve got you covered. All questions are answered accurately by using a knowledge base we create around your business, freeing up your time and resources and allowing you to focus on what you and your team do best! Here are five benefits of using Chat Ninjas: ◆ A live chat operator can help your visitors to find immediate answers to their questions, encouraging them to

browse your website and improve your bounce rate. Studies have shown that you only have 0.05 seconds to persuade a visitor to keep browsing your site (CXL). ◆ AI technology can boost your business. We will create a custom chat bot for your web chat to deliver key points of information, like discount codes, or to take visitors details automatically. ◆ A chat window allows visitors to get the information they need to follow through with the sale. Studies show live chat can increase online leads by as much as 40% (ApexChat, 2020). ◆ Chat windows provide a focused and reliable customer service as they can be operated on extended working hours. ◆ Using Chat Ninjas is accessible and affordable for any type of company. As a business, it may not be in your budget to hire someone full-time to deal with customer queries, so a chat window could be the solution starting from £2.50 per day! As the increase shift of business is heading towards online; chat windows are predicted to become an increasingly popular channel over the next few years as consumers demand instant connectivity. We all know the old method of outsourced call centres. Chat Ninjas is the new answer to that. Contact us for a free trial and see the benefits today by emailing info@chat-ninjas.co.uk. NICHE | 67


NICHE FEATURE

Developers appeal to disabled community with

ACCESS RATING (CIC) FOUNDERS (L-R): JIGNESH VAIDYA, MARK ESHO & RICHARD COPSON

empowering new app A trio of Leicestershire tech-entrepreneurs have launched an appeal to Leicester’s disabled community to get behind a new app that aims to share knowledge and improve accessibility

N

ew app, Access Rating (CIC), hopes to empower both users and venues by listing and independently reviewing which city and county businesses are truly accessible to those with mobility needs. Fundamental to the app is the unique ability for users to post reviews and comments about venues they have visited and experiences they have had. The aim is for the app to create a real-life, real-time knowledge bank for disabled users by disabled users and to ultimately make life easier. As the more users become involved and post their reviews, the more that knowledge multiplies. It is hoped that this bank of experiences will then empower more people, helping them overcome obstacles often unseen by more ablebodied individuals – be that as seemingly simple as drop kerbs, accessible lifts, or suitable toilet facilities. Free to download and easy to post reviews on, Access Rating has been founded and developed over lockdown by 68 | NICHE

a trio of Leicestershire-based entrepreneurs, all with their own personal mobility needs. Mark Esho – an award winning entrepreneur and number one ranking author; Richard Copson and Jignesh Vaidya Mark said: “The key motivation, for me, is to create a more accessible environment for everyone. Access Rating plays a significant part in everyday life such as access to education, work and social events. By improving access, we can significantly change life. As I like to say, ‘being disabled is easy, it is society that makes it hard’.” Richard commented: “The Access Rating app is fully user-led. We felt that symbols from businesses telling you somewhere was accessible only help so much and do not always give the truest picture. It is the real experiences of customers that businesses need to hear about.” The trio has big plans for the future of the app with a national roll-out on the cards, as well as heightened user features. At the same time as

THE KEY MOTIVATION, FOR ME, IS TO CREATE A MORE ACCESSIBLE ENVIRONMENT FOR EVERYONE

empowering the disabled community, it is hoped that the review function of the app – alongside direct outreach from the Access Rating team – will encourage more business owners to improve their accessibility for disabled customers. The reason for doing so is financial and moral: the collective spending power and influence of the disabled community is called the ‘purple pound’, say the developers. It is estimated that one in five working adults have a disability in the UK and there are 13.3 million disabled people in the UK (DLF). These households have a spending power of over £249 billion – which grows as more people are given greater knowledge, visibility and access, which can be helped with apps like Access Rating. Whilst lockdown and enforced shielding has allowed the creation of the app, with venues reopening and life starting to get back to a new normal, the app’s future development and success hinges on the disabled public getting involved and adding their real life reviews. Download that app from the App Store or find more information at accessrating.com.


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Private is another choice. Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital.

Why wait? Don’t forget to tell your GP if you have private medical insurance or want to pay for yourself. At Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital you can see a consultant in as little as 24 hours and have treatment in just 2 weeks*. • Zero waiting lists for self-pay patients • Consultant-led treatment • Rapid access to consultants and specialists • Excellent infection prevention standards For more information or to book an appointment call 0116 298 2612 or email leicester.enquiry@nuffieldhealth.com

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NICHE FEATURE

Nuffield Health and NHS make coronavirus agreement Nuffield Health welcomes patients choosing their care as part of existing NHS agreement during Covid-19 pandemic

N

uffield Health has welcomed the opportunity to support patients at its Leicester hospital with elective hospital care as part of the independent sector-wide contract extension with the NHS. All 31 of Nuffield Health’s hospitals are continuing to support NHS patients and local NHS trusts during the Covid-19 pandemic, as they have been doing since March. Tony Yates, Hospital Director at Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital, explains: “Our hospital team is looking forward to welcoming people from our local communities who have been waiting patiently for access to our hospital services during the pandemic. “The agreement between the independent sector and the NHS allows our hospital to offer access to more of our hospital services… to people with health insurance or who are paying themselves, as we did before the pandemic. “We are also continuing to care for NHS patients, working closely with the fantastic teams

at University Hospitals of Leicester to reduce waiting times and free up capacity within the NHS. “Our experienced infection prevention team are ensuring that everyone that comes into our hospital receives high quality care in a safe environment. For example, we are taking people’s temperatures upon arrival, wearing PPE, and implementing new zones to help maintain social distancing.” In a recent nationwide survey of 3,217 Nuffield Health patients, 73% indicated they will reschedule their appointment within a month of being able to do so. Twenty per cent indicated they will delay their rebooking for one to six months, primarily due to Covid-19 concerns or timing issues, holiday plans or work and family commitments. Only 2% stated they would not rebook. Steve Gray, Chief Executive at Nuffield Health, says: “As the UK’s largest healthcare charity, we welcome this agreement with the NHS and we are committed to supporting patients, both NHS and those with health insurance

OUR EXPERIENCED INFECTION PREVENTION TEAM ARE ENSURING THAT EVERYONE THAT COMES INTO OUR HOSPITAL RECEIVES HIGH QUALITY CARE IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT

or patients who choose to pay for themselves, who have had to wait for hospital care because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The existing agreement with the NHS expands the flexibility and level of care independent sector providers can offer people with conditions including cancer surgery, cardiac care, orthopaedics, spinal surgery which were previously assessed as ‘non-urgent’ during the first phases of the Covid-19 pandemic. “By utilising available capacity within the independent sector, NHS and privately-funded patients can get the diagnosis and treatment they need faster, reducing waiting times and relieving the pressure on our fantastic NHS. “So far, over 90,000 NHS patients have benefitted from the care provided at our 31 hospitals across the UK during the pandemic. This includes Covid-19 positive patients, those needing intensive care or oxygen support, those undergoing cancer treatment (shielding vulnerable patients from Covid-19), and those needing urgent surgery.” For a virtual tour of the safety procedures Nuffield Health’s hospitals have implemented, visit nuffieldhealth.com/welcome. NICHE | 71


NICHE HEALTH

Keratoconus: an eye condition in young people

VIJAY SAVANT

Consultant Ophthalmologist specialist at The Stoneygate Eye Hospital

K

eratoconus is an eye condition that affects patients aged between 10 and 25, causing bulging of the cornea (the front surface of the eye). It affects both eyes and is progressive, often leading to reduced vision over time, with some patients eventually needing a corneal transplant. To stop the progression of this condition and to restore nearnormal sight, we offer state-of-the-art procedures. We advise arranging a no-obligation consultation to discuss potential treatment options. For patients requiring a cornea transplant, there is the option of an endothelial keratoplasty. The cornea is the first refractive surface of the eye, which is responsible for focusing light on the back of the eye to produce a clear image. Strong transparency and a pristine shape of the cornea are

necessary for clear vision. Endothelial cells at the back of the cornea are responsible for continuously pumping water away from the cornea to keep it clear. In certain conditions, however, the endothelial cell function is reduced, causing water to build up and lead to mistiness of the cornea, resulting in poor vision. The best course of treatment for this is a corneal transplant.

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Full-thickness corneal transplants were used in the past to treat this condition. In the last decade, however, endothelial transplants have changed the way this condition is managed. Descemet’s stripping endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) uses a thin sliver of tissue from the back of the donor cornea with endothelial cells, which are injected in the eye and attached to the back of the cornea with air pressure. I’m fortunate to be one of the first few surgeons in the UK to perform the modern DMEK operation. DMEK is a quick procedure under local anaesthetic. It has a faster recovery time of as little as one to three months, compared to two years with a full-thickness transplant. No sutures (stiches) are used to hold the transplant. There is less risk of rejection by the body, and fewer visits to the hospital are required with less post-operative eye medications.

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A new focus on Our homes have never been so prevalent in our everyday lives and minds. Having spent much of the year working in and staying in them during lockdown, what we need and want from our home has changed drastically; we are looking for our homes to meet different needs, to be more of what we want and in lots of cases to ultimately refresh the home to make a change from the same four walls we have been looking at for so long – this could even mean a new move entirely!

A

s many of us now work from home, and with a growth in that even post lockdown, converting a room in your home into an office is a hugely beneficial home adaptation and can give you that ‘zone’ to get into work efficiently without interruption. Having moved In with family members or stayed put during lockdown, suddenly our homes may have felt especially cramped – an extension or loft conversion is a great way of making your home work for you and adding value in the long run too. A redesign and even a few decorative changes

can also make a huge difference to how we feel about our homes, whether that’s through a complete interior design, a few touches here and there or new furniture, investing in your home will only add value to how you feel about the space you have spent so much time in and give it a new lease of life! Of course, if your home is really no longer suiting our lifestyle a change of address entirely Is also an option, with the buying and rental market fully open and thriving once again, now is the perfect time for a complete change! NICHE | 75


LIGHT UP

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76 | NICHE

turns

10

The Ponds by Michael Wheat Marketing Assistant, Ashleigh Bird, explains the story behind the business and where Michael’s passion sprung from

A

fter establishing his company ten years ago, Michael Wheat, Managing Director of Ponds by Michael Wheat, flipped his business from a one-man show to an evergrowing bespoke pond design and installation service. What started as helping out with ponds at his father’s garden centre and his first garden pond build in 2005, slowly became Michael’s passion. A passion for pond building, and a passion for giving customers exactly what they dreamed of. Before long, customers wanted Michael to design and build their bespoke garden ponds. That was where the company began. From installing ponds himself for years, Michael now has a thriving team of 30 employees, which is still expanding. The onsite team works nationally, creating bespoke ponds, swimponds and water features. Jim Griffin, a proud customer, praised the team and exclaimed that: “The professionalism goes further than just the owner. His teams that worked

on our project were very proud of their work and carried the same joy for the business that Michael has.” Swimponds have now become something the business is extremely proud of. Years after people told Michael that ‘no-one would buy a swimpond’, the focus of swimponds and natural swimming pools has grown increasingly. Without the need for chemicals, the stunning aesthetics and the natural flow of water in your garden, Michael says swimponds sell themselves. Now the business has been established for ten years, it’s really a time to celebrate. The team’s successes can be applauded all-year-round. Through constant change, improvement, and millions of pounds’ worth of pond and swimpond sales later, Michael really is extremely proud of the company he has nurtured and grown. If you are looking for a bespoke pond design and installation service to give you a fantastic garden experience, call the team on 0116 240 3735.


NICHE FEATURE

FRASER

STRETTON FRASER

STRETTON

Property experts continue to

raise the bar

We hear from two local property business owners, who have become Patrons of the East Midlands Chamber WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

M

idlands property agency The Lettings & Sales Business has, along with its sister brand Fraser Stretton, been named as Patrons of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce. The announcement came in August, just one month after the first birthday of both The Lettings & Sales Business and Fraser Stretton, a consultative service which helps small and mediumsized housing developers sell new-build homes. The companies, run by husband and wife Narinder Singh Nijjar and Jaz Kaur, will form a synergetic operation with the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire chamber. The relationship will help to inform the chamber’s activities in an effort to enhance the businesses and communities across the region. Narinder told East Midlands Chamber: “It’s been a very promising first year with rapid growth, and now we want to increase our visibility in the East Midlands business community

after joining the chamber as a patron. “It provides us with a great platform to educate people about how we’re trying to do things differently in sales and lettings by removing the stress for everyone involved, while we can also offer expertise in how the property market is faring during these uncertain economic times.” In their first 12 months in business, Narinder and Jaz have recorded a 116% growth in the lettings side of the business. The growth has resulted in expanding from home offices to taking up premises in Stoughton with the hiring of four new staff members. In the East Midlands Chamber news, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber Scott Knowles, said: “Narinder and Jaz have a fascinating story of using their experience in working alongside other businesses to carve out their own niche and in turn offer excellent career development opportunities to their growing team. “We look forward to working

THE LETTINGS & S BUSINES

IT PROVIDES US WITH A GREAT PLATFORM TO EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT HOW WE’RE TRYING TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY IN SALES AND LETTINGS

closely with The Lettings & Sales Business and Fraser Stretton, which are fantastic small businesses that have a strong ethos to set them apart in a hugely competitive industry.” The two companies will also be sponsoring the Generation Next Young Business Person of the Year category at the East Midlands Chamber Leicestershire Business Awards. Jaz commented: “We’re excited for the start of our journey as we join the East Midlands Chamber as Patrons. “We’re looking forward to a great partnership and having the support of this fantastic business community will be invaluable as The Lettings & Sales Business and Fraser Stretton continues to grow. “It will also provide us with a platform to support other businesses, and as sponsors of the Generation Next category at the chamber’s Leicestershire Business Awards, we’re looking forward to celebrating the young professionals who are making a difference in their industry.” NICHE | 77


NICHE PROPERTY

Forum

RE-MORTGAGING HOLISTICALLY

PREPPING YOUR HOME FOR WINTER As the seasons grow colder and we reach for our jumpers, hats and scarves to keep us safe and warm, it must be remembered that it’s not just yourself you need to protect through this time. Your home needs to be handle the weather too. After years of exposure, our weather can cause condensation, damp and decay to your roofs, guttering, soffits and facias. So ahead of the colder (and wetter!) weather, it’s important to do what you can to ensure it’s as protected from the elements and in the best shape possible to be in good stead and weather the storm. Opting for PVC replacements of existing materials is a great start which not only provides greater resilience against the elements, but also looks great too. In addition, fitting facia and soffits protects any timber rafters from the ever-changing British weather. A general ‘service’ is a good idea to build greater protection. We make sure that all roof rafters, noggins, tiling and felt is up to scratch ahead of the colder months and in the long-term this can really help save customers money. It’s also important to consider the outside doors in your house – nobody wants a damp or draughty front door at any time of the year, but never more so than in winter. Composite doors are 44mm thick compared to a conventional PVC door of 28mm and are a great way of adding not only greater protection from the weather but also greater security too – all whilst looking attractive!

Gary Cox, Director at GC Home Improvements 78 | NICHE

For many of you, the pandemic this year may well be causing you a great deal of financial strain and uncertainty. With monthly mortgage payments typically being the largest financial monthly commitment for any household, it’s important you have the right fit. Re-mortgaging is no different, and in the current climate, re-mortgaging can be a confusing and often daunting prospect – whether to ease a financial situation or to ‘free up’ income to extend or enhance your home. During what is a challenging time, it’s important to consider seeking help from an independent mortgage advisor who has a ‘whole of market’ perspective so that you can get an unbiased, honest and therefore a carefully considered option for you. No two situations are the same

PETER SIMPSON Managing Director at MME Ltd when it comes to a person’s finances and so there simply shouldn’t be an off the shelf option for re-mortgaging – a holistic approach is needed. Throughout this unsettling period of time for many, we have continued to support our clients – both existing and new – and have been able to speak via video calling and over the phone whenever our clients have needed advice. Many of them have expressed a great deal of relief in knowing that they have that support at the end of the line! It’s our job to provide that support and knowledge for our clients whenever they need it.

THE CURRENT LENDING SITUATION JAZ KAUR Director at The Lettings and Sales Business The Government gave the property industry a shot in the arm with the recent stamp duty holiday for house buyers which was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. However, it is quite evident that lenders are being ever so cautious at the moment. Companies may be using the pandemic as a convenient time to let staff go and some furloughed employees may not even have a job to go back to. This will have a major impact on their opportunity to gain a mortgage. We have already come across clients who have had their mortgage offers revoked due to the uncertainty of their ongoing employment status. There is also a level of uncertainty for the banks, with the threat of a second peak in coronavirus cases which may result in further lockdowns. They are cautious of the risk of employees being furloughed again. Another instance of instability

happened mid-August when Lloyds Bank pulled its popular ‘Lend a Hand’ mortgage loan on what it says is a temporary basis. With such financial uncertainty, lending criteria is becoming stricter. If you are in this situation yourself, please rest assured that the banks are all competitors of one another, meaning someone, somewhere will have a product for you. What’s more, the banks are in a very strong position as opposed to the property crash in 2009. This time, they are more prepared. House buyers can take advantage of the stamp duty holiday until March 31, 2021, and the Government has extended the popular Help to Buy equity loan until February 28, 2021 to ensure new homes being built can be completed without homeowners missing the deadline. These are perfect examples of timely Government intervention to help the property Industry. If you are struggling to gain a mortgage, we have plenty of support from financial advisors who we can put you in touch with. Please reach out to us if you need help.


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PURCHASING

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But it can also be fun and exciting. So don’t be overwhelmed, Mortgages Made Easy is here to help and hold your hand every step of the way.

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NICHE | 83


Creating luxurious open plan spaces Luxury kitchen designer exclusively shares with Niche the latest tips and trends in home design

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home design and renovation company explains how those touches of elegance and luxury are achieved in kitchens and open plan spaces. Oaklands has been providing luxury bathrooms, kitchens and extensions since 1911, giving homes across the whole of Leicestershire and Rutland high-quality makeovers. Oaklands offers a full project management service, including sourcing reputable architects and structural engineers, working with the customer from the initial design stage to the finished installation. In a Niche exclusive, they revealed the top trends and tips to create an on-trend kitchen or open plan living spaces. Two tone Kitchens featuring dual tones are very on trend right now, with people opting for both complementary and contrasting colour combinations. Darker colours on kitchen cabinets create more contrast against the lightness of an open plan space. The two-tone trend doesn’t just lend itself to colour. Material combinations such as concrete and wood are popular and create a modern Scandi look.

Metallic finishes A subtle addition to your kitchen, metallic finishes can create a striking new look. Metals such as brass or copper create a nice feature when used on taps, handles, or feature pendant lighting over an island. Modern appliances Using modern appliances such as instant boiling water taps and combination microwave ovens frees up worktop space and creates a cleaner kitchen area. Smart Storage Pantry dressers are becoming more popular, giving the option to hide away appliances such as toasters to create a streamlined finish. Storage is always a common concern for people. Utilising pull-out mechanisms in tall units and corner cabinets are great ideas to make accessing those hard-to-reach areas easier and improve user convenience. Visit the Oaklands showroom at 7-11 Welford Road, Blaby, LE8 4FT, or find more design inspiration on the website at oakland-leicester.co.uk.


NICHE FEATURE

Making Fairytales As Director and founder of Haybales Barn, an exclusive, luxury wedding venue in Burton Overy, Leicester, Emma Allen loves nothing more than bringing a couple's wedding day dreams to life WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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hen looking for her own wedding venue last year before marrying her childhood sweetheart, Emma struggled to find anything even remotely suited to her vision for her big day. “Everything I looked at was ‘off the peg’ and felt like it had no originality to suit us as a couple. It really was a disheartening process, everything from the furniture to the set menus and packaged deals just felt so impersonal.” It is this desire to create something authentic and original which is personal and that really reflects a couple that is so very important to Emma. “I really enjoy getting to know a couple to bring their ideas and who they are as a couple to their day; for me, it’s exactly why I wanted to start the business.” The luxury venue, which is a wonderful canvas on which to add any décor, theme or detail desired is nestled in the heart of the countryside. Yet with accommodation available on location, the venue provides

exclusivity – and all within easy access to transport links. “We have accommodation as part of the venue’s hire, which allows for a wedding to be more than the day itself; it allows couples to enjoy the relaxing location the night before the wedding, the wedding day and the day after with breakfast and close guests.” Whether an intimate affair with a small number of guests or a grand event with a guest list 200 strong, the venue is special and spacious enough to allow for a festival-feel wedding, a boho chic style, or, as Emma explains, even a full fun fair, should it be required! “I love the variety that we can accommodate here. Because of the large space and beautiful scenery, we can create pretty much anything – one day I am sourcing lanterns for a festival vibe and the next a helter skelter!” With a list of reputable and trusted suppliers, Emma’s book of numbers brings delightful and unique food preferences to any

NO TWO COUPLES ARE THE SAME, SO NO TWO WEDDINGS SHOULD BE. FOR A DAY TO BE MEMORABLE FOR EVERYONE IT HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT THE GUESTS FEEL PART OF TOO

day, with pizza vans, vintage fish 'n' chips, street food and full three-course sit-down meals. The day itself is more than what a couple want of course, with most wanting to create a day that their guests will enjoy and remember for years to come for all the right reasons. “No two couples are the same, so no two weddings should be. For a day to be memorable for everyone it has to be something that the guests feel part of too – and that means providing great food, a great atmosphere and lots to keep everyone, including the children too!” Whether a couple want a blank canvas for their own DIY wedding, Emma’s help from start to finish with every detail or a co-ordinator for a different venue entirely, there’s no such concept as off-the-peg weddings as far as Emma is concerned – only romance and a passion for creating a fairytale. Book now for your fairytale come true at haybalesbarn.co.uk 07393 863 791 . NICHE | 85


FOOD COURT In this issue, local businesspeople choose their favourite places to eat in and around Leicestershire

The best eating establishments in Leicestershire DAVE ORTON

THE HORSE & JOCKEY horsejockey.co.uk 01827 881 220 BOSWORTH ROAD, CONGERSTONE, CV13 6LY

Managing Director at XCLUU

I have really missed eating at the Horse & Jockey in Congerstone, North West Leicestershire. This is a fantastic local pub for us with a brilliant menu. The pub is set in beautiful surroundings, and caters for all seasons. There is a lovely bar area to relax before heading through to the restaurant side. The menu offers great British classics with some twists and plenty from further afield as well. I loved to share a Camembert to start with crusty bread and the Chateaubriand for two is amazing. That definitely speaks volumes as I normally don’t share food! The staff are brilliant; so caring, attentive and knowledgeable. Such a lovely place and setting for a meal

BETHANY GRUNDY

GIGGLING SQUID

Senior Trading Manager at PPL PRS

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with my wife Gemma and with friends. The brilliant gin selection gives you plenty of options to work your way through. There is a fantastic range of beers sourced locally and plenty on an international scale, so you’ll definitely find something to refresh yourself. They’ve also been brilliant with our two boys when we are there as a family, giving them odd sneaky chocolate as well, so they always have a good time. We cannot wait to get back in there now it has opened up again after the last few months, which have greatly affected us all. We are very lucky to have such a brilliant pub and eatery so close to home and will continue to support local where we can.

gigglingsquid.com 0116 251 9999 5 ST MARTINS SQUARE, LEICESTER LE1 5DF Well, where do I start with my favourite place to eat in Leicester? I remember moving to Leicester around 16 years ago from bustling cosmopolitan Leeds, and feeling like the only places to go for food here were our amazing Indian restaurants and La Tasca! Now we are spoilt for choice. As someone who loves food and cocktails, it is genuinely hard to choose an all-time favourite. At the moment I would have to say that Giggling Squid is my new preference. I think I have kept them going through lockdown with my regular Sunday deliveries, and I can’t wait to try the new outdoor seating area. The concept for the restaurant was developed by a husband and wife team

when sat in the basement of a tiny fisherman’s cottage (now their Brighton restaurant) way back in 2002 and pulled together their first Thai Tapas menu. Their idea was to cook simple, rustic, fresh Thai food. The atmosphere on a weekend is fantastic, a place to catch up with friends over small plates, flowing drinks and tasty mains. The Coconut Espresso Martini is amazing, and you get it in a gorgeous bottle if you order through Deliveroo! My top food choice would have to be the Chicken and Bamboo Shoots, with sticky rice, it’s a unique flavour with real vibrancy, and so moreish. Giggling Squid is also fantastic with dietary requirements which always deserves recognition.


BHAVIN GANDHI Director at Paradigm Wills & Legal Services

TRACEY HUNTER Lead Generation Consultant at Cross Productions

HARINDER SAHOTA Glynis Wright & Co Family Solicitors

SANJAY FOODS sanjayfoods.com 0800 234 6685 BELGRAVE INDUSTRIAL CENTRE, LEICESTER, LE4 5HD I had heard some rave reviews about Sanjay Foods, so I wanted to discover for myself – could a large business be able to pivot during these difficult times and adapt to home dining? I was not disappointed. The food, the service and the presentation from Sanjay Express was on point. This is high quality, gourmet Indian food to go, where the owner Atul Lakhani is not only personally overseeing the development of this swish new brand but is determined to ensure the quality is no less than what you would receive at one of their top-end events. Their commitment to quality of taste, presentation, five-star hygiene rating, health and safety with staff wearing PPE is extremely reassuring.

My personal favourites are: Pili Pili Chicken and Methi Chicken which would satisfy any traditionalist’s palate. My wife who is vegetarian, loved the Punjabi Egg Curry with their Red Leicester Chilli Cheese Naan. I must confess, now I understand exactly what the hype is about and these guys really do know what they are doing. The recent takeover of the IXL Events Centre, a five-star multimillionpound venue in Warwickshire, highlights Sanjay Foods’ intent and in particular, the owner is acutely aware of their position in the luxury end of the market. Sanjay Foods creates and delivers amazing gourmet dining experiences for all guests for any event.

WICKED Facebook.com/wickedleicester 70 QUEENS ROAD, CLARENDON PARK, LE2 1TU Wicked in Queens Road challenges the concept of fast food. When you walk through the door, its bright, clean, modern interior is very inviting and one of its managers, Anna, is very informative about ingredients, how they use fresh ingredients and buy local allowing for a lower carbon footprint. Wicked provides Leicester with its freshly cooked signature burgers using 28-day dry-aged beef and locally baked daily-made brioche buns, succulent wraps and tasty chicken wings, all with a variety of sides and exclusive sauces. They also offer vegetarian options too. It opened for takeaway service in August and deliver Mondays to Thursdays 11.30am to 10.30pm, and

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11.30am to 11pm. I opted for the Louisiana buttermilk chicken burger, topped with American cheese in a Brioche bun. It was amazing. We also tried the halloumi salad and ribs. Everything tasted very fresh and was cooked to perfection. What I love is the take on the classics we love to make at home – like the gourmet-style fishfinger sandwich on the menu. It’s made up of tempura-battered cod fingers served with lettuce, American cheese and served in a Brioche bun. This can all be washed down with a freshly made milkshake with flavours such as Kinder Bueno, Oreo, salted Carmel and my personal favourite: Ferrero Rocher.

BLACK IRON

winstanleyhouse.co.uk/restaurant 0116 366 5642 HINCKLEY ROAD, LEICESTER, LE3 1HX Black Iron at Winstanley House has become one of my firm favourites in which to meet friends and family – Covid restrictions permitting. This original Georgian Grade II listed building has been renovated with a stunning Art Deco design. The centrepiece is its charcoal-fired oven, which treats the premium produce on offer with the first-class cooking method it deserves. Whether for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner or some light bites with cocktails, there are so many choices to make – and it starts, for me, with dining on the terrace or indoors! For lunch, I am drawn to the catch of the day from the Express menu and, in the evenings, the à la carte menu

is always delicious. The wine list and cocktails are great and the signature martini is to die for. The quality of the meat purchased locally from Olney Grounds makes the fillet steak a stand out favourite, cooked to perfection each time, served with a simple salad and a couple of sides – be rude not to! The vegan and vegetarian choices are also divine. The team at Black Iron are so passionate and knowledgeable about serving great food and drink, they personally visit the farms, vineyards and breweries to source their prouce. Service is always first class and I always leave ready to come back for my next experience. NICHE | 87


At Orton’s we aim to invigorate the classics, so you can taste them in a way like never before

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NICHE FEATURE

What’s on the menu at new restaurant

Orton’s Brasserie With its striking gorilla branding, homage to Leicester’s famous playwright Joe Orton, and stunning Victorian building, Orton’s Brasserie was predicted to be a hit. Since it reopened in August, Cultural Quarter visitors have relished posting selfies of their whereabouts at the new restaurant. We caught up with Head Chef Andrew Greasley on why Orton’s has been such a hit WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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rton’s restaurant and venue had developed intrigue among Leicester locals back in its ‘Joe’s Delivery Service’ era of lockdown. Its popularity has only increased over the months, which is in part thanks to a unique food offering and dining experience. MasterChef contestant Andrew Greasley joined Orton’s just over two months ago and spent much of lockdown perfecting his menu for the eatery. Andrew told us: “It was really important to me that the menu encompassed the ethos of the business to bring modern British cuisine to the heart of the Cultural Quarter in an accessible and new way.” He worked in various Michelin restaurants, and as a sous chef to contestants of BBC show Great British Menu, before entering the quarter finals of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2016. “My style is a modern interpretation of classical dishes using the best of British ingredients to reimagine typical favourites. At Orton’s we aim to invigorate the classics, so you can taste them in a way like never before. “Since we opened, it’s been wonderful hearing and

seeing people’s reactions to the food and the bespoke dining experience. Nowhere else in Leicester has what we have to offer.” Perfectly located for last minute, after-work drinks, or lounging with good company and a bite to eat, Orton’s serves a range of tapas dishes, hearty meals, and an à la carte menu. Quizzing Andrew on his favourite dish, he said: “It’s very hard to choose, but if I were ordering for a meal out I would probably go for the Homemade Ham Hock Terrine to start. Then Belly and Beets for the main, and the Oops, I Dropped My Tart for dessert.” Orton’s has been following the Government guidelines ensuring visitor and staff safety at all times. Extra measures are in place to reduce contact between individual diners. The team has also allowed extra time between bookings to deep-clean tables and communal spaces. Private bookings are currently being taken for celebrations and corporate events in the restaurant spaces, garden, and basement area for October dates and onwards. To book a table or event, visit ortonsbrasserie.co.uk. NICHE | 89


the green grazer ! ys da g in az gr e ar ys da of t es b e because th

get ready to graze now by contacting the team on 07712 157296 or email us at greengrazer@yahoo.com ask us about our amazing grazing tables! free delivery within a five mile radius

FOR EVERY GREEN GRAZER BOX WE WILL DONATE £2 TO MENPHYS CHARITY

www.menphys.org.uk

take a selfie, send to us @the.greengrazer for a chance to win a free grazer!

TRY OUR GOURMET FOOD TO GO

OPENING HOURS:

Order line: 0116 2660777/07919 408082 www.sanjayfoods.com 90 | NICHE

Thursday & Sunday 4pm-9pm Friday & Saturday 4pm-10pm


HEADLINE SPONSOR

January 22, 2021 Athena, Queen St, Leicester LE1 1QD Join us for an evening of celebrations as we recognise Leicestershire’s leading businesses, charities and professionals

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW Email awards@nichemagazine.co.uk or call 0116 271 2573

Single ticket £75 Table of 10 £700

6pm till late Dress Code: Black Tie


Become a Curve Business Associate and enjoy a range of benefits... Engage and entertain clients through our bespoke hospitality service, preferential rates on venue hire, corporate booking service and regular B2B networking events. Our Business Associates also benefit from added marketing value through various branding opportunities year round. CONTACT Alex Bliss Sponsorship and Projects Manager a.bliss@curvetheatre.co.uk 0116 242 3580


NICHE CULTURE

Criminal Intent: Part I - Law and Order

TRACEY MILLER

Partner of The Miller Partnership

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hat makes a great police procedural? Canvassing the opinion of an absolute expert in the field, Leicestershire Police Chief Constable Simon Cole told me: “So, I have a confession. In general I can’t abide police procedural dramas based in the UK! They are not my idea of escape. The sight of pathologists chasing offenders, or the absence of the crucial work of analysts in tracking offenders raise my hackles. The procedural parts not being in line with what I and my colleagues experience day to day mean that I try and steer well clear. I didn’t even watch Line of Duty! “However, there are some exceptions, mostly ones that take place abroad. I am totally transfixed by the novels of Arnaldur Indriðason. His marvellously tetchy Detective Erlendur works cases in Iceland. The bleak

beauty of the location, and the realistic portrayal of life as an investigator combine; as an added bonus I don’t know what the procedural parts should be, so I don’t get upset. “The greatest exception of all is Hill Street Blues. That music, those credits, the brilliant cast of diverse characters. I loved it before I joined the police, and I love it still. It is wonderful at capturing the realism and grit of policing. As Sgt Esterhaus said at the end of every briefing, ‘let’s be careful out there.’ Being careful is a crucial part of real life policing, but this certainly isn’t vital dramatically! I love a flawed hero like corrupt but effective Vic Mackie in The Shield or Hank Voight in Chicago PD and the tensions in The Wire are wrought by the care we have for characters on both sides of the thin blue line. Cagney & Lacey, Jane Tennison in

Prime Suspect, Scott & Bailey, Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU, Saga Noren in Scandi-noir’s The Bridge: these are all gloriously strong, complex women simply doing their oft-times grisly and disturbing job. We root for them. Many police procedurals have a partnership or team allowing a pleasingly diverse onscreen dynamic; there’s always someone to empathise with. From the juggernaut USA franchises: NCIS, CSI and Law & Order to Line of Duty which I, as a civilian, adore, Cracker and Inspector Morse, we all have our favourites. If lockdown hasn’t dampened your desire for box set binges, may I recommend the above mentioned series available on Sky/Netflix and nominate Bosch on Amazon Prime. Next time in Part II – Criminality takes centre stage.

Leicester Merch Aid initiative to support businesses Support local through a new clothing range set up to support Leicester independents

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he Leicester Merch Aid initiative was set up by online magazine Cool As Leicester. It’s paired up independent businesses with local designers to create special edition T-shirts. Businesses involved include 33 Cank Street, Crafty, The Bottle Garden, The Real Ale Classroom, NADA, Phoenix, Curve, The Soundhouse, East Street Lanes, West End Brewery, The Y Theatre, Very Bazaar and more. Through the Leicester Merch platform, businesses can have their own branded merchandise for sale, with profits paid directly back to them (with a small percentage for the designers too), with no hassle of stock handling, production or shipping.

For every T-shirt sold, consumers will be supporting a local independent business. Profits go towards helping businesses bounce back after the pandemic, and supports Leicester’s creative talent pool. It was important to Cool As Leicester to keep all aspects of the project within Leicestershire, which was achieved through partnering with Loughborough’s Penny Crayon Custom Clothing for all printing and handling. Dan Creasy, Creative Director at Penny Crayon Custom Clothing, commented: “We’re proud of the quality of products that we produce here at Penny Crayon Custom Clothing – and this, coupled with the excellent local design work, will hopefully mean a lot of money is raised to support a range of local independents through what is a very difficult time.” Alongside the independent merch is a small range of Cool As Leicester branded items. When purchased, the funds will help Cool As Leicester continue to support independent business and everything great about the county. Gabby Miller, Editor of Cool As Leicester, said: “I wanted to do something to support independent businesses and a reader of the site approached us about a T-shirt design. I started to match up businesses with designers and it was amazing to see how much everyone was still so keen to collaborate and work on a new project.” T-shirts are available in classic fit, ladies’ and kids’ sizes. You can shop the full range now at leicestermerch.com. NICHE | 93


Our theatre is in serious difficulties following the recent pandemic

Can you help?... Yes, you can... Could you donate £12/month for 12 months to help keep us going? If we had just 150 people who could do this, it would raise a staggering £21,600 (and if you are a taxpayer & tick Gift Aid... it would go up another £5,400) If this amount is not possible, but a smaller amount is, this would still help. Every contribution helps and will benefit audiences and volunteers for many years to come.

HOW to set this up:You can set up your direct debit on our website, www.thelittletheatre.net (Click, “Get Involved”, then click “Donate to help our survival”)

Thank you so much.

We hope to see you soon. The Leicester Drama Society DESIGN BY: CABOODLE CREATIVES 22 | NICHE


NICHE CARE

From young carers to

care professionals

The inspiring story behind why two sisters became home care providers

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t 17 years of age, Angela Lakhanpaul witnessed her mum’s first ever fit. She went on to suffer for 15 years while Angela, the eldest of four, took responsibility for the family. This is why Angela and sister Shaney took on the Bluebird Care brand servicing Oadby, Wigston and most recently, Market Harborough. Angela said: “We want to relieve young carers of such stress. There were no other care companies like this when we were young and the concept of home care existed only as social services. We didn’t even know we could ask for help.” Specialists were finally able to crack the code to her mum’s medication just five years ago. She has since been fit-free. It was only when she became well that Angela realised the pressure the family had been under: “I made myself

responsible for managing the house and taking the kids to school while studying for college myself.” Specialising in dementia, complex needs and those with limited mobility, Angela, Shaney and their team of 12 care for anyone over the age of 18. They also care for those who are lonely. “We care for them as we would our own mum. We focus on maintaining their independence and sticking to a routine. None of our carers are ever late or turn up to work stressed. “We find that, especially with dementia patients, while they may not record faces, they can feel routine, which helps with anxiety. They can feel when it’s lunch time or time for medication. “Which is why we take care of our carers as our family too, so their personal lives don’t affect their work.” To find out more about the care Angela and Shaney provide, call 0116 271 8222.

Changing lives in Leicester & Leicestershire Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) is a charity that has been helping local people to change their lives for the better for over 50 years.  Supporting local charities by providing advice, training and resources  Promoting volunteering across the city and county  Helping people find work through our YES and GREAT projects  Supporting people with learning disabilities to live fulfilling lives  Low-cost office space for local businesses and charities

If you’d like to help VAL improve the lives of local people, get in touch with us today

valonline.org.uk helpline@valonline.org.uk 0116 257 5050

NICHE | 95


Tour de Hope 2021 The Wild Atlantic Challenge Local charity Hope Against Cancer announces exciting event for 2021

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ope Against Cancer’s biennial charity cycle challenge for 2021 is a thrill-a-minute event taking in some of the Wild Atlantic Way and scenic Ring of Kerry in Southern Ireland. The charity is raising funds to support vital, life-saving cancer research in Leicester that leads to improved treatments and achieves the greatest impact in the fight against cancer. Since it was founded in 2003, the charity has funded over 60 research projects that have helped improve treatments and outcomes for local cancer patients. It’s helped to make Leicester a national cancer research centre of excellence. The Wild Atlantic Challenge is set to be extremely popular, considering the popularity in previous years and the rise in avid cyclists during and postlockdown. Add to this the delight of

taking part and doing what they love, whilst also challenging themselves to raise money for a vital, local charity, means it's a win-win all round! One of the longest defined coastal routes in the world, The

Wild Atlantic route is stunning and provides unrestrained and untameable tides complete with an abundance of wildlife, picturesque towns and challenging tracks. With the meeting of water and land, the wild terrain with its towering cliffs, stunning bays and beaches, it’s a landscape like no other. Keen cyclists will be delighted at the route which provides plenty of opportunity to take in the beauty of nature as well as enough of a challenge and off-thebeaten-track feeling to make the ride a unique and thrilling experience. An entry fee of £100 is required to secure your place, with a further £400 due by September 17, 2020. Call 0116 270 0101 or email barbara@hopeagainstcancer.org.uk to find out more, including levels of fundraising sponsorship required.

www.theamwellcare.com

CALL US TODAY ON

01664 88 25 25

YOUR LIFESTYLE

YOUR WAY OF LIFE

A LUXURY CARE HOME IN A STUNNING RIVERSIDE LOCATION OFFERING RESIDENTIAL, RESPITE AND DEMENTIA CARE.

LUXURY EN-SUITE ROOMS • RIVERSIDE BISTRO FINE DINING • BEAUTY SPA • GYM • CINEMA ROOM SECURE, PRIVATE GARDENS • CHAUFFEUR DRIVEN CAR

55 Asfordby Road, Melton Mowbray, LE13 0HR | T: 01664 88 25 25 | E. info@theamwellcare.com 96 | NICHE


NICHE CHARITY

Calling all landlords In the aftermath of the pandemic, Help the Homeless needs landlords now more than ever before. We speak to Arif Voraji, founder of Help the Homeless Leicester, to find out more

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he effects of the pandemic on those who could stay home and safe were nowhere near the toll it took on those that don’t have a home. Whilst local councils provided temporary accommodation for homeless people in Leicester’s hotels during the lockdown, the services and funds are starting to diminish as we have emerged from lockdown, so the need to provide solutions for people is growing. Arif elaborated: “The councils were obliged to provide accommodation for people without homes – and very quickly. They did this and, whilst there were some challenges, the biggest challenge now is going to be finding the right accommodation for them long term.” The charity, which always looks to provide both short term and long-term solutions, is continuing its drive to partner with landlords within the region to provide letting accommodation that is long-term focused. Arif explained: “We have a few landlords who are currently providing good

level accommodation to those who need it, with rent being paid directly from Universal Credit to landlords, encouraging them that they will receive rent on time every month. In addition to this we provide supportive services to both parties to ensure everything goes smoothly.” Any concerns that a landlord might have regarding letting out property to the charity and their service users will be allayed by the charity, with Arif keen to reassure landlords that every effort is made to ensure that all the relationships are strong. “We are aware that landlords may be apprehensive about letting out property to our service users; they may have preconceived perceptions of what it might all look like, so we do all that we can to ensure landlords that the whole process is managed carefully by us.” If you are a landlord who would be keen to provide this much-needed service, contact Arif on 07771 123 440 av@hthleicester.co.uk

A subscription with substance Local charity Focus to provide businesses with a unique opportunity to support their work through special membership

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s the effects of Covid-19 on charities and their lack of funding continues to rise, what can you do as a business to support the areas of our community that need help the most? Local young people’s charity Focus is launching a new and unique way for businesses to support their charity on a regular (and therefore more long-term and substantial) basis through a monthly membership style of donations. The charity, which helps vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, is needed now more than ever – and the pandemic has increased demand on their already vital services. By becoming a ‘member’ in one of three tiered financial outlays, your business will be making a relatively small outlay financially, yet be helping significantly as well as receiving many benefits to your business. These including multimedia recognition of your membership across Focus platforms, a membership certificate for your office space, monthly e-bulletins to see how your funds are helping, access to new business networking events and much more! The proposed series of networking events will aim to

create a community that not only supports the charity’s vital work, but also strengthens Leicestershire’s business community. It gives businesses the opportunity to come together to network and support each other. Being part of the Focus family will repay you in many more ways than recognition, of course – just knowing you are doing your bit for a charity which creates a community where people feel loved – somewhere they belong and are appreciated for who they are, where everyone is welcome. Members can pick from a tiered system of varying levels of support to reach the level of commitment they would like, starting from £25 a month via direct debit for the standard membership. If you are interested, visit focus-charity.co.uk or email emily.taylor@focus-charity.co.uk. I LOVE COMING HERE. I DON’T TRUST MANY PEOPLE, BUT I DO TRUST YOU LOT AT FOCUS TAYLOR, AGED 15 NICHE | 97


NICHE CHARITY

Helping throughout the pandemic THERE WITH

Having helped people through two World Wars and Spanish flu, this charity is used to adapting to ensure that vulnerable local people have access to the basics in life

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harity Link, which has been supporting people in hardship since 1876, has remained open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and saw an uplift in requests for its vital services almost immediately. Initially, this was due to the emergency evacuations of refuges and hostels. In more recent weeks the wider impact of Covid-19 has become apparent. Job losses, business difficulties and a reduction in support services are leaving many local people facing severe hardship. Since the start of lockdown, Charity Link has helped over 2,500 people (including over 1,000 children) and has distributed £261,108 of essential goods, including food, clothing, beds, cookers and fridges.

This has been possible due to the There With You Fund, launched in conjunction with LeicestershireLive in April and with an initial grant of £96,000 from the Randal Charitable Foundation. The fund aims to raise £250,000 to purchase essential items for people in need in Leicestershire due to Covid-19. It has so far raised over £133,000. Charity Link must also continue fundraising for its core service and is facing a 40% loss in fundraising income due to coronavirus. Unable to run its award-winning Leicestershire Three Peaks Challenge in the usual format this September, Strides Apart 2020 asks people throughout the county to take on their own 16-mile challenge to raise vital funds. Full

YOU F UND

details of the challenge, the There With You Fund and stories of some of those who have helped during the crisis can be found at charity-link.org. To make a positive and immediate impact on local lives, you can donate to Charity Link at justgiving.com/ campaign/ThereWithYouFund or call Sue McEniff on 0116 222 2212. *Editorial space sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals

NICHE CARE

Shielding Melton woman heads back to work at ‘extremely safe’ care home A Melton Mowbray care home worker has come out of shielding and returned to work as it is ‘just as safe as being at home’

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63-year-old who had to leave work mid-March and shield at home for 14 weeks due to coronavirus, has returned to work at residential, dementia and respite care home The Amwell in Asfordby Road. Karen Snape, who has COPD, a progressive disease that makes it difficult to breathe, returned to The Amwell, which has had no cases of Covid-19, before August 1 – the advised date

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given by the Government when people should no longer need to shield. “I’ve been involved in working in care since 2000, but had to stop after 12 years when I was diagnosed with COPD,” said Karen. “I decided to come out of retirement just before Christmas. “I like making a difference and absolutely love The Amwell as it’s like a five-star hotel inside! Unfortunately, when the coronavirus broke out, I had to go into shielding, even though I felt as if I could have carried on working quite safely. “The home has been really careful with infection control and had no cases of Covid-19. All the staff have had excellent training and are 110 per cent committed to keeping everyone safe. “I’m back at work because it is extremely safe and just as safe as being at home. I’ve not been going anywhere because I want to keep the residents, and myself, completely safe. We’re all one big family unit.” Karen is excited to be back because she has also taken up a new role as the home’s new activities co-ordinator. “Residents are missing seeing their relatives, of course, but we have been doing lots of activities and keeping them busy. “I’ve loads of new ideas and want to involve every resident in the home. For me, it’s all about making a positive difference to their lives and I love being back.” For more information call 01664 882 525, email info@theamwellcare.com or visit www.theamwellcare.com.


Virtual Event Tuesday 24th November 2020 8pm online

NOMINATIONS OPEN 1st - 28th September

The Furnley House Foundation was created to improve the lives of those within our community. Usually we hold a number of

THE CATAGORIES ARE:

events to help us bring the community together

CHARITY OF THE YEAR: An initiative that has been implemented and has made a difference during the COVID-19 period. Open to registered charities only. CHARITY EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: A person that works for a specific charity that has gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 period. Must be employed by a registered charity. YOUNG FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR: Anyone under the age of 18 that has raised a significant amount for charity or has used an innovative way to fundraise and inspire the community.

and raise in excess of £40,000 each year for charities and not for profits. Sadly, the COVID-19 situation has forced us to postpone our events and we’re gutted to have to do so. But we didn’t want to sit back and wait for things to

calm down, so earlier in the year, we raised £3000 to help create and cover the costs of discharge packs for those leaving hospital when we were in Lockdown. We also

FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR: An individual over the age of 18 that has raised a significant amount for charity or has used an innovative way to fundraise and inspire the community.

didn’t want to let all those amazing people and

SUSTAINABILITY: A person or organisation that is making a valuable difference to making our community a more environmentally sustainable place to live, work and enjoy. COMMUNITY SPIRIT CHAMPION – BUSINESS: A Company that has made a difference to the local community and stepped up in the face of adversity to support a local cause in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

organisations who have gone above and beyond go unrecognised. If you are or know a local hero or organisation that has done something extraordinary, the

COMMUNITY SPIRIT CHAMPION – INDIVIDUAL: A person that has gone above and beyond to make a positive difference in their community – any age during the Covid-19 pandemic. COMMUNITY EVENT OF THE YEAR: An event that brought people within the community together or made a difference in the local community after March 2020. This could be online, virtual or socially-distanced COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS: A local club (not a registered charity) not for profit organisation that has made a difference to the local community and stepped up in the face of adversity. BEST SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE: A charity that is able to demonstrate effective use of social media during the COVID-19 period. Open to registered charities only.

Leicestershire Community Champions Awards 2020 are a great opportunity to recognise them and shout about the amazing things they have done.

PLEASE VISIT LCCAWARDS.CO.UK FOR MORE INFORMATION

FREE TICKETS AVAILABLE FROM BUYTICKETS.AT/FURNLEYHOUSEFOUNDATION/408593


Restore the Rhythm Your business may be back up and running but understandably it’s far from being back to normal. Thankfully even small changes could make a big difference to the atmosphere and could go a long way towards ensuring your customer’s visit remains safe and enjoyable. Introducing music could help get your business back to its best, enhance the atmosphere, lift the mood and create a more positive environment. Music amplifies everything it touches, it brings everything to life. If you are going to introduce music, or if you are already using music in your business, you’ll usually need a music licence. TheMusicLicence covers virtually all commercially released music, including the millions of most popular and well-loved songs and recordings, not just from the UK but also from around the world. So while you are making all of the arrangements to get your business back to its best, now is the perfect time to ensure that you are appropriately licensed, and set up TheMusicLicence for your business.

Music could help your business get back to its best. Restore the rhythm and put the power of music into your business with TheMusicLicence.

0800 0868 803 pplprs.co.uk/getyourlicence

Profile for Niche Magazine

Niche Magazine Issue 39  

Niche Magazine is a bimonthly independent business and lifestyle magazine that supports local businesses

Niche Magazine Issue 39  

Niche Magazine is a bimonthly independent business and lifestyle magazine that supports local businesses

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