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#FindYourNiche

Sept/Oct 2021

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A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

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. 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

O

ne rare, sunny Saturday in August, myself and senior journalist Emily Miller took to the newly paved streets of Fosse Park to ask our readers what they think of hybrid working. Their answers form our new regular feature We Asked You. From now on, we’ll be asking you for your opinion on matters that affect you. We have more changes for you to feast your eyes and minds on too. An assortment of Thought Leaders will be asked for their ideas every issue. These authoritative opinion trailblazers share their thoughts on subjects in their field of expertise. We’ll also be interviewing a successful person with links to Leicester every other month, but we don’t want to know the usual stuff, we want to know their secrets, feelings, and opinions. Our questions get answers out of our subjects you wouldn’t normally hear in ‘The Boardroom’. Find our interview with Dr Sarah Jones on the back page. Special features include Why Leicester, looking at why Leicester is a great place to start a business, and Not all Heroes Wear Capes, looking at those unsung everyday heroic acts. Soar Valley Press joins us on the front cover for September and October. We got to hear why print might actually be good for us from those in the industry. They discuss the environment, marketing, and business survival. You’ll read pieces from our newest writer Siddiqa Reininghaus who’s worked as a journalist and copywriter, after spending two years living the American Dream. She’s joined by DMU graduate intern Levitha Biji who studied broadcast journalism. Designer Katie Brennan has settled in nicely too, she’s been working with head of design Susan Holmes on some new looks. The Niche Business Awards is coming up on September 25. After a crazy year, we’ve gone all out with a Mad Hatter’s tea party theme this time! For tickets, email awards@crossprouctions.co.uk.

@magazineniche

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nichemagazineuk


Contents SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2021

60 THIS ISSUE WHY LEICESTER 34

A leading city for start-ups

35

How we can improve

36

Keeping fit

36

Leicester’s Olympic glory

37

Drone start-up loves Leicester

NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES

ON THE COVER

EVERY ISSUE

60

WHY PRINT IS GOOD FOR US SOAR VALLEY PRESS

12

Thought Leaders

19

We Asked You

32

Talking Legacies

Cover Image Soar Valley Press photographed at the Soar Valley Press premises Photographed by Hitz Rao at Hitz Rao Photography 0116 246 0475

69

First Impressions: a photography guide

98

The Boardroom

BUSINESS NEWS

54

The unsung heroes of our everyday lives

55

Could the anti-hero save the day?

55

Loss assessor to the rescue

56

Cape-less crusaders

09 Leicester’s ‘dramatic underrepresentation’

56

The heart in home hunting

09

Your Leicester Business Expo

57

Businesses under the weather

10

Cultural and heritage projects

57

Fighting finance fears

58

Feel-good heroes

FINANCE

58

Wordless healing

23

Digital tax opportunities

59

Protecting against cyber crime

59

A saviour in exam failure

25

In conversation with Rajesh Modha

08

Leicester College course to benefit employers

08

New app for SMEs


34

54 LEGAL

MARKETING

FOOD

26

62 Marketing advice from the experts

80

Foodcourt

82

Historical venue gets a facelift

83

NEW Brunch: LIVE

85

Expecting more on your plate

86

New restaurants popping up in Leicestershire

Legal advice from the experts

27 Protection in financial hardship 29

The obstacles of divorce

33

Separating smarter

BUSINESS

63 Are they bouncing off your website? 64 Resuscitating your site with SEO 67

Journalist to journalist: an interview on storytelling

68

The ultimate marketing tool

40

Success… whatever that is

41

Time for a temperature check

42

Tuning in to starting out

PROPERTY

89 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Curve

44

PA versus VA

46

HR: it happens to everyone

70

97 Real Entrepreneur’s get together

48

Job opps with taxi firm

HEALTH & BEAUTY

50

Finalists of the Niche Business Awards 2021

76

The first steps to confidence

51

Cyber safety when working from home

78

Homemade fragrance

52 Teaching the entrepreneur inside 90

Turning your property into a money maker

The ever-changing complexities of energy

79 Promoting your beauty business

WHAT’S ON

CHARITY 87

When care was needed most

92

Homelessness: a pandemic

94

Your invite to the Vista Business Club

95

Defining domestic abuse


BUSINESS NEWS LEICESTERSHIRE

The campaign tackling Leicestershire’s ‘dramatic underrepresentation’ Businesses across Leicestershire and Rutland have been putting themselves forward for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire Mike Kapur launched a new campaign to encourage more companies to apply after noticing that the county was “dramatically underrepresented” compared to other similar areas. He put together a team of Leicestershire business leaders, chaired by businessman Ian Borley, to try to encourage more entries and support businesses in making their applications. Mr Kapur said: “For a county the size of Leicestershire, if you take a statistical analysis, we are dramatically under-represented in the awards. “I think that is because people do not realise that what they do, the great products they produce, the terrific contribution they make, is anything special. They are shy when really, they should be shouting from the rooftops.

“We know Leicester and Leicestershire is home to innovative, enterprising businesses that are making a difference in their sectors and to their customers. We have much to be proud of, and I hope we can support our business community to show that, now more than ever as we emerge from the pandemic.” This year saw three Leicestershire companies recognised in the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: EarthSense Systems Limited, Lakshmi & Sons, and Apption Labs which was given two awards. Businesses have entered themselves in the international trade, sustainable development, innovation, and promoting opportunity through social mobility categories. The new committee aims to look at the barriers preventing more applications and provide a point of contact for interested businesses to help them through the application. “There can be a belief that it is for

the larger companies, but in 2020 the sole winner we had in Leicestershire was a company with four employees,” said Mr Kapur. “We need to get the message to businesses that this is for them and that we want them to succeed.” Members include Richard Brucciani OBE, Mehmooda Duke MBE, Privesh Patel MBE, LCFC chief executive Susan Wheelan, Scott Knowles, CEO of the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce and Helen Donnellan, Director for Business and Enterprise at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), business. There may still be time to get a nomination in. Nominations opened on May 1 and close on September 8.

Your Leicester Business Expo is back With lockdown now officially over, Sheila Smith, Expo Queen and owner of Your Leicester Business Expo, has been quick off the mark confirming dates for two of the region’s favourite and most prestigious business exhibitions. Your Leicester Business Expo will take place at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on November 9, 2021. However, these exhibitions, says Sheila, are more than a little bit different. She said: “Whilst we’re all so excited that face-to-face is finally back, we’re offering a fabulous hybrid opportunity to businesses at both our exhibitions this year. Our exhibition hybrid offer ensures exhibitors can enjoy both the opportunities of face-to-face interaction with attendees as well as our online expo securing absolute maximum exposure.” Going virtual for Virtual Business Expo in October 2020 attracted over 960 visitors from eight different countries along with more than 35 exhibitors and five great guest speakers. “It was a huge success and I wanted to ensure we kept 08 | NICHE

a virtual element for these first two in person exhibitions. It works for visitors who are located at a distance as well as for our exhibitors who, let’s be honest, can never get to see everyone who attends however hard they try. This way exhibitors who choose to take part in our hybrid expo will be found online for an additional 10 days! The exhibition is free to attend. Stand spaces cost from £275 and can be booked online at yourbusinessexpo.co.uk.


Employers can claim £1,000 for every student as part of new courses Leicester College will offer a new range of technicalfocused T Level courses, starting in autumn 2021. Designed by employers with The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, these two-year qualifications combine classroom study and a substantial industry placement where employers can receive £1,000 for every student they put through a placement, up to a maximum of 20 students. T levels are a new, two-year, level 3 qualification for 16-19-year-olds or 19-24 with an EHCP (educational health care plan). Leicester College will be offering courses in four curriculum areas: construction, digital, education and childcare, and health and science, from September 2021. The new courses give students the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for and enable businesses to support their future skills needs. To partner with Leicester College and offer industrial placements to students, employers will need to provide at

least 45 days’ work placement, agree a work plan, and have a dedicated member of staff to mentor the student and provide feedback at the end of the placement. Anja Petterson, T Level coordinator at Leicester College said: “Designed with employers, each T level is equivalent to three A levels and will equip young people to be ready for the challenges of their chosen career and industry, by combining classroom study with a meaningful and substantial industry placement. “Leicester College is very proud to have been chosen to deliver the new T Level programmes and we are looking forward to welcoming the first students to benefit from these exciting new qualifications, and to working with businesses who will also benefit, both in the workplace and financially, from the placement programme.” For businesses to find out more about becoming an industrial placement employer, contact info@leicestercollege.ac.uk, call 0116 224 2240.

Leicester-based employee engagement company launch new app for SMEs My SMART-e, a new employee engagement app has been designed with SMEs in mind by Growth Partners. My SMART-e is an all-in-one solution for HR services and employee engagement tools and offers a new way for SMEs to access the same benefits and tools that help larger businesses prosper. Paul Bresnihan, Group CEO at Growth Partners, said: “Our new app replaces our current GrowthPro product which has been used by our clients since we launched it in 2017. We have learned what our customers want and how they like to access services, and so we’re really proud to have built a product based on their feedback. “Our My SMART-e app is an

all-in-one solution for SMEs to free them from the burden of day-today administrative processes and compliance so they can focus on their business and their employees. We believe a focus on employee engagement is the key to growth.” Features and benefits of My SMART-e include 24/7 online access to pay and pension documents for employees and a full Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) with 24/7 confidential helplines, resources, and expert counselling. Users have access to the latest range of benefits and discounts to help employees’ wages go further. The app also provides confidential online and phone appointments with a doctor within three hours and a fitness and wellbeing hub with wellbeing checks

and access to fitness and nutrition experts, while specialist support is available for managers including HR legal advice, occupational health and recruitment services. My SMART-e is available to purchase for £2 per employee per week, with introductory offers available. For more information about My SMART-e, visit growthpartnersplc. co.uk/smart-employment. NICHE | 09


Hat trick for Leicester’s culture and heritage Three exciting projects are set to change Leicester’s landscape and attract more visitors to the city centre. City Centre Director Sarah Harrison tells us more

P

lans are in action for the completion of three significant city centre projects that, together, will increase Leicester’s appeal to visitors beyond the county. Works are underway to improve Jewry Wall, Phoenix cinema and art centre, and Leicester Cathedral. Here’s what’s happening.

JEWRY WALL

HALEY SHARPE DESIGN (HSD)

The Jewry Wall Museum and old Vaughan College complex is undergoing a major refurbishment to depict life at the centre of Roman Britain. Leicester was a key administrative Roman centre called Ratae Corieltavorum where the Fosse Way, running from Exeter to Lincoln, met the Via Devana running from Colchester to Chester. Ratae had a forum surrounded by shops, a basilica as its administrative centre, a market hall, impressive townhouses, substantial villas and temples. The remains of a very large public bath complex are still visible at Jewry Wall.

The museum building and former Vaughan College were built in 1962 by renowned architect Trevor Dannatt. The new museum will connect both floors that were previously separate and will include a café, shop, meeting rooms and a stunning new exhibition, all overlooking the historic site of the baths. The first phase of works underway now includes a walkway to provide level access from St Nicholas Circle straight into the centre. It amounts to a complete overhaul of the building, allowing for a new roof and other improvements. The new museum will be open to visitors in 2023. As well as animating the site itself, the exhibition will use immersive technology to bring to life the stories of everyday Roman Leicester. Visitors will also be able to see the mosaics, wall plasters and other original objects found in the city and learn about the archaeological pioneers, including Kathleen Kenyon who first unearthed these amazing finds. leicestermuseums.org/jewry-wall

10 | NICHE


VAN HEYNINGEN & HAWARD ARCHITECTS

ARTIST IMPRESSION: VIEW OF NEW CHAPTER HOUSE FROM CATHEDRAL GARDENS

ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN BY MARCHINI CURRAN ASSOCIATES

LEICESTER CATHEDRAL REVEALED The project is now underway following a long and careful planning and design phase. It will restore and renew Leicester Cathedral so that it can be its very best as a place of worship, heritage, pilgrimage, hospitality, learning, sanctuary, and celebration. This is needed because the cathedral spaces are inflexible and inadequate for current and future use. The infrastructure – lighting, heating, and decorations – needs to be upgraded. And the tenfold increase in visitors, who come to see the tomb of King Richard III, has made the need more urgent. ‘Leicester Cathedral Revealed’ will put the building back into good order, create more space for learning, better manage visitor flow and improve the individual experience of being within the Cathedral. Repair and restoration works to the existing cathedral building include conservation of stonework, windows and ceilings, and installing a new stone floor level throughout, with energy-efficient underfloor heating. The project will also construct a new visitor and ARTIST IMPRESSION OF PHOENIX ROOF TERRACE ON UPPER FLOOR OF EXTENSION

learning centre, The Chapter House, a striking extension to the cathedral on the footprint of the Old Song School, thereby preserving the open space of Cathedral Gardens. The Chapter House will provide an exhibition gallery with immersive interpretation, a flexible learning space for school children and community groups, and new toilet facilities. Leicester Cathedral Revealed will realise the vision to restore the cathedral building, renew its sacred spaces, and reaffirm the cathedral’s place at the centre of a resurgent city and county. leicestercathedral.org/leicester-cathedral-revealed

PHOENIX DEVELOPMENT GETS THE GREEN LIGHT

Despite the challenges of the past 18 months and delays caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, Leicester’s Phoenix cinema and art centre’s exciting multi-million-pound expansion project – known as ‘Phoenix 2020’ – has now got the green light for construction to begin. Having moved to a purpose-built Cultural Quarter venue in 2009 from its previous Upper Brown Street location, Phoenix has developed a strong regional reputation as a hub for independent film and digital creativity, with a rich programme spanning film, art, and education. Now, with funding support and investment from Arts Council England, Leicester City Council and British Film Institute, Phoenix is on the way to becoming a four-screen cinema, complete with a new art gallery, a bigger and better Café Bar, a stunning roof terrace and more spaces for making and learning. After years of planning, design work and fundraising, the ambitious development project is finally on the verge of becoming a reality. Construction work is being undertaken by Willmott Dixon and is scheduled to last for around 12-15 months. The venue will remain open to the public for as long as possible during the build, and the new screens, gallery, café bar, roof terrace, and learning spaces will be unveiled in early 2023. phoenix.org.uk NICHE | 11


Thought

Leaders

Rik Pancholi Managing Director at Pattersons Commercial Law

Leading by example, one opinion, one idea, one lesson at a time, our thought leaders are significant in the Leicester and Leicestershire business scene. With authority in their field of expertise, passion for sharing ideas, and commitment to helping others, they’ve been asked to write down their most current brain waves. Selected organisations and individuals share how and why they go about their business, reveal their ambitions, provide clarity on matters within their industry, educate on complex or novel subjects, inspire with their forwardthinking and progressive perspectives, or look backwards to evaluate what’s been learnt.

Got something you’d like to see our varying thought leaders cover? Send your topics of interest to kerry@crossproductions.co.uk. 35 | NICHE

How to perform at your best under pressure

I

’m a corporate lawyer and if there is one thing I can tell you about corporate lawyers, it’s that they need to be able to work well under pressure and be able to spin multiple plates. Pressure comes as part of the territory and as long as it can be managed properly, it shouldn’t become a problem. If you have the time to think things through without any added pressure then you may well perform differently than when you are under pressure. However, the way the cookie of life crumbles, you may not always have this choice and you may well need to act with speed, make decisions you need to live with and keep people (like our clients) happy. Here are a few tips to performing at your best whilst under pressure:

1. Stay calm.

If you can remain calm and collected, you’ll be able to make safer and possibly better decisions rather than

decisions made ‘in the heat of the moment’. A clear mind will also help you remain focused on the end goal rather than being caught up in ‘noise’ which could end up serving as a distraction.

2. Stick to the plan.

Some people find lists are helpful. Lists make sure you can tick off the 101 things which need to be completed and helps keep your mind clear – see point number one above! If you have the ‘noise’ on your list then it won’t clog up your mind and it will help you focus and complete each task individually and properly.

3. Keep talking.

If you keep people involved with what’s going on, you may be able to delegate and they may be able to help alleviate that pressure. You never know, you may actually receive gratitude for including others and keeping them up to date. What’s your top tip to perform well under pressure?


THOUGHT LEADERS

Bhavin Gandhi Director at Paradigm Wills and Legal Services

Don’t get complacent

A

s we are free to return to ‘normal’ life we should still consider that there is an element of risk amongst us with regards to Covid-19. We have serviced many people over the last 18 months who wanted to either make a will or review their existing their one as they knew and understood that it did not match what they would now want to

happen with their estate as they did when they created it years ago. However, there are still many people who have not come forward to do either – maybe because they feel it’s not important or it’s a difficult conversation that can cause arguments between couples or families due to their different wishes. This is where an expert advisor should be able to

Jay Webb

help you break everything down and help and guide you with options. So, as a minimum, I would encourage to have a free no obligation meeting with someone to understand your options. As well as many businesses having to unfortunately closed down or cease trading, some companies have increased turnover, grown and expanded which is great news, or some have exited their business and sold their shares. Again, it’s worth reviewing what you have in place should the worst happen. Nobody wants to leave loved ones to deal

with a mess – which is something we are seeing as probate cases increase. Now with everyone used to technology supporting meetings, we can meet with people face to face (with social distancing of course) as well as virtually to help and discuss any concerns people may have. Don’t become complacent with your current situation promising yourself you’ll deal with your will another time. The world and society move at a fast pace, anything could happen, anything could change to affect you, your family, and your will.

employers will need to have a plan in place should they ultimately have to part company with an employee

Managing Director at Jay Webb Consultancy Services

The challenge for the care sector continues

C

hanges in legislation means that by November 11, all people working in care homes in England will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19, subject to limited exemptions. November 11 may seem a long way off, but it will go in the blink of an eye as we all know, you start the year

off thinking that you have loads of time before the end of it and in a flash, Easter arrives and then before you know it, Christmas is upon us once more. Employers of care staff need to be looking now at consulting with their employees and encouraging them to take up the vaccination, allaying any

fears individuals may have and helping and supporting staff wherever they can. If employees are members of a recognised trade union, it is always a good idea to involve them at an early stage. I have always found that good relationships with local and regional trade unions help employers significantly in these types of matters. Staff with exemptions will need to have it verified and a note placed on each individual member of staff’s records. The Care Quality

Commission (CQC) will need to be able to see this in the event of an inspection. If staff do not have an exemption and refuse to have a vaccination, employers will need to have a plan in place should they ultimately have to part company with an employee. Given that many will have long service, employers will need to give notice to terminate the contract based on ‘some other substantial reason’. Always take legal advice before deciding to dismiss any employees. NICHE | 13


James Coningsby Partner and expert commercial property solicitor at Nelsons

Why now is the time to invest in Leicester

L

eicester’s economy shrunk by 12.2% in 2020 leaving people questioning whether the city can ever truly recover in a post-pandemic world. After the Covid-19 pandemic brought the country to a standstill, cities need to see people returning to live, work and spend time in them, which

will, in turn, seed new businesses and encourage investment by existing ones. Leicester is no exception. Yes, it’ll be different to how it was ten years ago, but there’s also the opportunity to make it more vibrant, exciting and diverse. As well as supporting local businesses, it’ll bring

inspiration and passion to the city and also boost visitation – bringing in more tourists and, ultimately, making Leicester the go-to place in the East Midlands. For some time, we’ve needed quality living space in the city that people of all ages – but perhaps, particularly the young – will want to be in. With this in mind, it’s great to see some really exciting ‘build to rent’ schemes, some of which have been led by clients of Nelsons, coming through to completion. Many are keen to return to their everyday lives, with those in the city wanting to take full advantage of the area. From plug-in and work spaces to innovative bar and experience ventures, I’m delighted to say we are

also advising several really visionary organisations that can see the potential demand for high-quality hospitality and ‘experience’ offerings in our city. With a multitude of innovative businesses coming to the fore, it’s also critically important for our inner-city transport to be on top form, making it easier for people to come into Leicester and take advantage of these opportunities. I genuinely believe this is a great time to invest in Leicester’s city centre, as long as the ideas and execution are right. Our city has a great foundation and lots to be proud of – and we have a wonderful opportunity to be part of its next chapter.

possible in the Leicester/ shire area. As a vital VCS resource, we have noted the significant changes in the landscape across the sector and are conscious that it needs opportunities to come together, influence, and shape priorities. Our local authority partners, public health colleagues, and university representatives will be present at the panel to answer questions from VCSE organisations and discuss the importance of making connections, collaborative working and developing partnerships. We are hosting this second day face to face followed by a networking

opportunity to allow groups to come together. In addition, we will also be launching the VCSE Manifesto over the coming weeks. We began work on the VCSE manifesto many months ago with a consortia of local charity sector CEOs. Since then, the needs of local community groups has significantly changed due to the pandemic; with reduced resources, changes in service delivery, lack of opportunities to fundraise and trade, etc, so we are keen to revisit that discussion and encourage more charity leaders to get involved to shape the VCSE sector going forward.

Krupa Joshi-Bhatt Development Officer at Voluntary Action LeicesterShire

Future Focus

T

he last 18 months has been a roller coaster ride for most sectors; the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) included. As the sector looks forward to resuming services in the new norm, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) is planning a variety of opportunities for the communities to come together and ‘Reconnect for 14 | NICHE

a Sustainable Future’. This is the theme for our much awaited annual conference, Future Focus, which takes place in September this year. The event will be spread over two days enabling organisations to reconnect, both, face to face and virtually. Our aim is to offer advice, guidance and support to as many charitable organisations as


we have seen timescales slip, applications take longer and more often than not, people actually calling back with Covid-related excuses

Darren Willoughby Managing Director at 2XL Commercial Finance

“Due to Covid…”

W

ell, 18 months into the pandemic and with the end hopefully in sight, why are businesses and individuals still using the title of this piece to mask a multitude of inefficiencies? In the first lockdown, many of us had sympathy for businesses as they struggled to pivot in the face of the strange world we found ourselves in. Supply chains were also affected – especially in the shadow of Brexit as well as a rather large ship blocking the Suez Canal (you can’t make it up), but is “due to covid” now becoming a metaphor for poor service or laziness… I think so. Certainly, in my industry we have seen timescales slip, applications take longer and more often than not, people actually calling back with Covid-related excuses. Yet, in reality, nothing had changed. One example was

a call with a bank which started off with the manager telling me about his worklife balance being better, how he had been out on his bike daily, and that his day was much shorter. In the last part of the call, he told me how it would be about a week longer before they could submit the application “because of Covid”. As far as I knew, Covid hadn’t affected his ability to type, call or email, or his ability to work shorter hours and cycle his bike. As an Ardent Liverpool fan, my club has recently employed NFC technology to allow you to enter the match using your phone as opposed to a physical ticket affecting 55,000 people, only to close the ticket office at Liverpool and removing a number to call if you had any problems. Yes, you’ve guessed it. because of Covid. But 55,000 people can sit in a stadium

watching 22 men kick a ball about, and hug, sit, and cough to their hearts’ content. Under the advice of my accountant, it’s time to look at an electric vehicle as my company car so, off I toddle to Mercedes for a test drive. Test drive one was cancelled because they couldn’t get the car to the dealership “because of covid”. Test drive two was cancelled due to the car not being prepared “because of covid”, yet they managed to send me a personalised video of said car looking spotless. I’m pretty sure there are many more similar cases, but while this “new way of life” might be good for some, it’s vital that standards don’t slip. With some tough times ahead, it’s time to get our heads back in the game for the good of the economy and my sanity! NICHE | 15


As we hopefully start to move away from Covid and into recovery, now is the time for all of us to go out and celebrate our local businesses

Jennifer Thomas Development Manager for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, and Rutland at Federation of Small Businesses

Small is beautiful – let’s keep it that way

T

he Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) represents 2,000 small businesses in Leicestershire, while all SMEs are different, together they make up 99% of private sector firms in England and in every sense, we couldn’t do without them. Over Covid I feel that the public has become more aware of the importance of supporting small businesses, shopping local, and getting the biggest bang for their buck in their community. This is something I really hope will continue, as we become more socially and environmentally aware of the opportunities to make a difference that we have. We know that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business, 63p is re-spent in the local area, compared to only 40p in

16 | NICHE

every £1 spent with a chain or larger business. Small firms make a big difference to their community, with many going above and beyond to help their small business neighbours and local start-ups. As we hopefully start to move away from Covid and into recovery, now is the time for all of us to go out and celebrate our local businesses. FSB has run a campaign over the ‘summer of staycations’, asking people to share and recommend small businesses to visit – you can support #MyHiddenGems by sharing your own and giving a local small business a boost. If you are looking for ways to make a difference, as well as choosing local small businesses for your own goods and services,

there are other things you can do. Please encourage and challenge larger businesses to value and invest in their supply chain, encourage them to buy small, buy local, and pay on time. Support campaigns that FSB and other business groups run, as well as those run by your local high street trader groups – government are more likely to act with public support. Finally, and crucially, please give great feedback, publicly if possible! Small businesses and their staff are exhausted; give them reviews that make them feel great and more competitive and encourage others to support them too. Whether TripAdvisor, Google, Trustpilot, LinkedIn, social media or just an actual personal message directly to them, don’t be shy, spread the love!


THOUGHT LEADERS

Jenny Cross CEO at Cross Productions

What are your customers searching for?

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s we are free to return to ‘normal’ life we should still consider that there is an element of risk amongst us with regards to Covid-19. We have serviced many people over the last 18 months who wanted to either make a will or review their existing their one as they knew and understood that it did not match what

they would now want to happen with their estate as they did when they created it years ago. However, there are still many people who have not come forward to do either – maybe because they feel it’s not important or it’s a difficult conversation that can cause arguments between couples or families due to their different wishes.

George Oliver Director at 1284

‘Stop communicating values’

C

ommunicating Change is a 1994 book setting out a theory so logical and yet so terrifying that I shoehorned it into pretty much every business school assignment I wrote. Its authors launch their related Harvard Business Review article with: ‘Most advice given to executives about communicating change is

wrong’. TJ and Sandar Larkin’s alternative is simple. What if leaders of large organisations told all staff everything during major change? And what if they did it not through a lot of corporate visioning but in a single-page memo, issued to line managers, listing SMART bulletpoints of what was to be done? As they put

This is where an expert advisor should be able to help you break everything down and help and guide you with options. So, as a minimum, I would encourage to have a free no obligation meeting with someone to understand your options. As well as many businesses having to unfortunately closed down or cease trading, some companies have increased turnover, grown and expanded which is great news, or some have exited their business and sold their shares. Again, it’s worth reviewing what you have in place should the worst happen. Nobody wants to

leave loved ones to deal with a mess – which is something we are seeing as probate cases increase. Now with everyone used to technology supporting meetings, we can meet with people face to face (with social distancing of course) as well as virtually to help and discuss any concerns people may have. Don’t become complacent with your current situation promising yourself you’ll deal with your will another time. The world and society move at a fast pace, anything could happen, anything could change to affect you, your family, and your will.

it: ‘Communicate only facts; stop communicating values’. The Larkins certainly had a point. Indeed, it’s a recognised organisational approach to communicate change through line managers, whom employees know and trust. But the urge to wrap change in values, as the Larkins argued 27 years ago, remains irresistible to some organisational executives. Indeed, with the current business management focus on visioning, storytelling and ‘the journey’, comms often remain steeped in values. The Larkins argue that objective measures demonstrate values far more clearly than words ever can. They write that almost 70% of companies consider mission and values their number one communication priorities. Yet the Larkins argue that this immediately makes staff suspicious –particularly in times of strategic change. Actions,

rather than words, should inform values. There’s little doubt that over-communication is preferable to undercommunication during times of change. But would employees in 2021 really want their internal comms served up quite so bluntly? Meanwhile, would you, as leader of a large organisation, feel confident in presenting a list of organisational needs (in the fewest words possible) to your line managers to then explain and discuss with their reports? Most contemporary leaders would play it safe – particularly when delivering bad news. They would soften the message. Plus, it’s not 1994 anymore. But search out TJ’s ‘Pillars of Excellence’ on YouTube. If the purpose of communication is to create understanding, then the Larkins’ approach is a pretty logical one. NICHE | 17


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It’s the way forward. It’s good in terms of pollution and minimising traffic on the roads. I have been working from home online, but I will go back, I’m a teacher so it’s more difficult. It’s a lot easier in terms of not dealing with behavioural issues but it’s difficult to motivate the children.

The office is good for collaboration and social interaction. Working at home is good for productivity and being able to concentrate. Being able to work from home with tools like G Suite and instant messaging allows people to keep updated and allows you to have time to yourself to focus on important tasks.

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It’s a good balance, especially after having a baby. It has its challenges as well; when they’re babies it’s easy but when they’re toddlers it’s different! Me and my husband work from home, so we can manage between us. I don’t want to go back to an office.

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Now my husband works from home I’m quite impressed with him and how clever he is! His company wouldn’t have allowed working from home before and my work before I had children wouldn’t have allowed it, but with Covid they’ve allowed it more. I’ve chosen not to go back after children but with Covid allowing you to work from home, I did consider it because I can work around them – it opens up opportunities.

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Working from home and from the office: disruptive or a blessing? Helps to achieve work-life balance or lowers productivity? Does increasing wellbeing with sociable office culture matter most, or does lowering our carbon footprints? We asked workers we found in Leicester if hybrid working works for them WORDS BY EMILY MILLER AND KERRY SMITH

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Selling your business?

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Why tax expert Pete Miller of The Miller Partnership says you should consider an Employee Ownership Trust

P

lacing the ownership of a business in its employees’ hands is becoming an increasingly popular exit strategy for owner managers looking to sell their companies. According to the Employee Ownership Association, last year’s unprecedented growth in the sector has continued into 2021, with 250 new employee-owned businesses launched in the past 18 months. In most cases, SMEs choosing employee ownership have gone down the Employee Ownership Trust route (EOT). As of June 2021, some 567 businesses in the UK were employee-owned via an EOT, the Association reports. These statistics bear out The Miller Partnership’s own experience, with increasing numbers of owner managers contacting us for our expertise and advice on how EOTs work and how to set one up. Essentially, an EOT is a tax-incentivised vehicle for transferring control of your

business to your employees. As long as you satisfy some relatively straightforward conditions, the sale of the shares to the trust should be exempt from capital gains tax (CTG). This is obviously appealing, especially now that the 10% Business Asset Disposal relief (BAD) is limited to just £1m per person. And, of course, there is a lot of speculation that the relief might be abolished, or capital gains tax may be increased, as the Chancellor looks for ways to reduce the country’s fiscal deficit. It is important to remember that a sale to an EOT is not designed to be used for a quick sale by the current owners, but for a planned exit which safeguards the longer-term future of the business and its workforce. Obviously, this is not a suitable route for businesses with very few or no employees, but it has to be worth looking at if you have a reasonable employee base. We have dealt with EOT sales with as few as 10 employees, in some cases. Until recently, EOTs hadn’t

IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT A SALE TO AN EOT IS NOT DESIGNED TO BE USED FOR A QUICK SALE BY THE CURRENT OWNERS

been quite as popular as one might expect – given their CGT exemption – possibly because they’re not as flexible as BAD relief. Also, setting up and running a trust has its complexities, with the trustees effectively becoming the company’s shareholders and expected to run the company for the benefit of its employees. Nevertheless, an EOT could give you a tax-free exit while, at the same time, meeting the government’s aims of increasing employee ownership. As you might imagine, there are complicated tax issues involved with an EOT, as well as several HMRC clearances. We also need to look carefully at the tax issues relating to how the purchase is funded, so it’s important you take professional tax advice. Contact The Miller Partnership on 0116 208 1020 or email pete. miller@themillerpartnership.com for more advice on Employee Ownership Trusts. NICHE | 21


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Finance Forum

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ax is going digital. With HMRC on a mission to make it easier for individuals and businesses to get their tax right and keep on top of their affairs, they’re on track to becoming one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world. Making Tax Digital is creating fundamental changes to the way the tax system works – transforming tax administration so that it is more effective, efficient, and ultimately, easier for taxpayers to get their tax right. Whilst VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the

VAT threshold (£85,000) are already required to submit digital records for their VAT returns, the MTD filing threshold will be lowered to £10,000 for sole traders and landlords too, who will also be required to go digital from April 2023. This news may feel uncomfortable for some. It’s a change for small business and change can often feel a little daunting; however, it’s a positive change and one that we can to make easier. With the right software and support in using it to its best

advantage, going digital with your taxes can provide clarity and insight into your business in the most efficient of ways. Going digital gives opportunities for regular appraisals of the numbers to support making good decisions for how to take the business forward. Cashflow forecasts, understanding where you can cut costs and feeling as organised as possible with your quarterly tax submissions will help you say goodbye to the shoebox of receipts and hello to a clear uncluttered financial path.

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Model shown is MY21 Aygo x-trend 1.0 VVT-i Manual £14,760 including optional Pure White paint at £250. Prices correct at time of being published. Terms and conditions apply. Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km): combined 53.3 (5.3) - 57.6 (4.9). Combined CO2 120 -112 g/km. Figures are provided for comparability purposes; only compare fuel consumption and CO2 figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. *0% APR Representative only available on new retail orders of Aygo between 1st July 2021 and 30th September 2021 and registered and financed through Toyota Financial Services by 31st December 2021 on a 48 month Toyota AccessFlex (PCP) plan with 0%-35% deposit. Scrappage Saving Allowance is not available in conjunction with a Finance Deposit Allowance. By taking a Toyota AccessFlex monthly payment break, you defer that monthly payment until the end of your agreement. You can defer up to 3 monthly payments (but not the final repayment), either consecutively or on 3 separate occasions during your agreement. The term of your agreement will be extended by one month in respect of each monthly payment deferred, up to a total possible extension of 3 months. Payment breaks cannot be taken to assist with financial difficulties, in respect of the first 3 monthly payments due under the agreement, within the 5 working days before the payment due date, or if any sums due under the agreement are unpaid. Toyota AccessFlex is not available for used vehicles or for any finance offers other than 0% APR. The vehicle may be used during any deferred monthly break period. No associated fees charged and monthly payment remains the same. ^Payment shown is based on a 48-month Toyota AccessFlex (PCP) contract with £2,197.00 customer deposit and Guaranteed Future Value/Optional Final Payment. **If you trade in any car or commercial vehicle that was registered up to and including 30th September 2013 you can receive between £2,000 and £4,000 (saving dependent on model chosen and incl VAT) scrappage saving off the Recommended On The Road Price of a New Toyota. Offer excludes GR Yaris, Mirai, Hilux Active grade and All New Proace Electric. New Toyota vehicles must be ordered between 1st July 2021 and 30th September 2021, and registered by 31st December 2021. To qualify for the scheme the owner of the trade-in vehicle must be named as the registered keeper and resident at the UK address shown on the Vehicle Registration Document (V5) and have owned the trade-in vehicle for a minimum of 6 months before the new Toyota order date. The new vehicle must be registered in the same name. Offer can be used in conjunction with the Finance APRs but not available with any other customer saving programme or finance deposit allowance. Available to retail customers only. Model shown is MY21.5 Yaris Design Hybrid Petrol 1.5 VVT-i Auto £22,150 including optional Pearlescent paint at £880. Prices correct at time of being published. Terms and conditions apply. Colour availability may vary. Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km): combined 57.6 (4.9) - 68.9 (4.1) CombinedCO2 112-92 g/km. Hybrid electric vehicle. Figures obtained using a

combination of battery power and fuel. Figures are provided for comparability purposes; only compare fuel consumption, CO2 and/or equivalent all-electric range figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. These figures may not reflect real life driving results. Fuel consumption, CO2 produced and equivalent all-electric range can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including the accessories fitted (post-registration), driving style, conditions, speed and vehicle load. All models and grades are certified according to the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). All mpg and CO2 figures quoted are full WLTP figures. More information can be found by visiting: www.vehicle-certification-agency.gov.uk/fcb/wltp.asp.†0% APR Representative only available on new retail orders of New Yaris between 1st August 2021 and 30th September 2021 and registered and financed through Toyota Financial Services by 31st December 2021 on a 42 month Toyota AccessFlex (PCP) plan with 0%-35% deposit. By taking a Toyota AccessFlex monthly payment break, you defer that monthly payment until the end of your agreement. You can defer up to 3 monthly payments (but not the final repayment), either consecutively or on 3 separate occasions during your agreement. The term of your agreement will be extended by one month in respect of each monthly payment deferred, up to a total possible extension of 3 months. Payment breaks cannot be taken to assist with financial difficulties, in respect of the first 3 monthly payments due under the agreement, within the 5 working days before the payment due date, or if any sums due under the agreement are unpaid. Toyota AccessFlex is not available for used vehicles or for any finance offers other than 0% APR. The vehicle may be used during any deferred monthly break period. No associated fees charged and monthly payment remains the same. ΔPayment shown is based on a 42-month Toyota AccessFlex (PCP) contract with £5,198.50 customer deposit and Guaranteed Future Value/ Optional Final Payment. Toyota Financial Services is a trading name of Toyota Financial Services (UK) PLC; registered office Great Burgh, Burgh Heath, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 5UZ. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Indemnities may be required. Finance subject to status to over 18s. Other finance offers are available but cannot be used in conjunction with this offer. Offer may be varied or withdrawn at any time. 8,000 miles per annum, excess miles over contracted charged at 8p per mile. Toyota Centres are independent of Toyota Financial Services. Participating Toyota Centres. Affordable finance through Toyota AccessFlex (PCP). Terms and conditions apply. Toyota Financial Services may pay the Toyota Centre a commission for introducing you to them. Commission may be calculated based oneither a fixed amount relating to the vehicle you are financing, a percentage of the amount you borrow, or a combination of both. Toyota Financial Services may also make other types of payment to the Toyota Centres for introducing you to them. Any such amounts will not affect the amounts you pay to Toyota Financial Services under your finance agreement. Farmer & Carlisle Ltd is acting as a credit broker and not a lender.


NICHE FEATURE

Turning the table on

Rajesh Modha For the owner of a female-focused financial planning and wellbeing company, the idea of what success looks like has changed dramatically in the last 18 months. Emily Miller turns the tables on him and gets to the root of this change

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s I sit down with Rajesh Modha, CEO of Tilton Conway Financial Planning, I get right in there from the off and ask him one of the key questions that is ordinarily of his asking: “What does success look like to you?” He smiled: “Well, it’s a different answer to the one I would have given you 18 months ago. Success and what that means and what I can see it means for others – that’s changed. I have a greater intention to enjoy my life more, to enjoy the process of creating where I’m going rather than focusing too much on the ending.” It’s this ethos that allows Rajesh to want this for others through his work in financial coaching. He elaborates: “I get so much satisfaction and joy in being able to see others progress and move forward with their lives.” It’s not always easy for people to do this work though, delving deep into their true feelings and beliefs around money and success. Rajesh shares the ‘Lighting the torch’ concept – an idea that centres

on a mentor starting the process of self-belief and understanding for a person when they need it most. “For those who are grappling with biases around success and money, if I can guide them at that time and pass on a renewed mindset in them; I can pass that torch over when they can see it for themselves.” It’s the breakthrough of this moment that drives Rajesh in his own career. “When people have these wonderful breakthroughs in their lives, when they have the courage to make conscious decisions to live a life they wish to lead with intent – being able to mentor them to this place is a privilege.” We’ve talked about courage and vulnerability before, myself and Rajesh, at length actually, so when I ask him now what it means for him to live courageously he responds with an even greater conviction. “Being vulnerable is key to movement and growth. In order to be vulnerable, there needs to be bravery. Exploring past, learnt beliefs which are sometimes passed on through generations

I GET SO MUCH SATISFACTION AND JOY IN BEING ABLE TO SEE OTHERS PROGRESS AND MOVE FORWARD WITH THEIR LIVES

can be tough and it’s not a muscle we are used to flexing. There’s often resistance to talking about money openly, certainly beyond the surface of it. “Taking anything negative that comes from exploring areas of discomfort in our lives around money, or the idea of success even, and then taking action to move forward honestly, towards change, all this allows you to live a life again to suit your circumstance, to live a life with intent.” As I close our conversation, I ask what his business means to him. He tells me: “To be able to give people a safe space to share their secrets, fears and feelings about money in what is such a fast-paced world and then being able to uncover the right direction for them personally and change their mindset – that’s it for me. The rewards come from seeing this in action by helping them to do this. “I liken what I do to providing a velvet throw around their shoulders.” For help on how to improve your financial wellbeing, visit tiltonconway.com. NICHE | 25


NICHE BUSINESS

Legal Forum

ARE SHAREHOLDERS’ AGREEMENTS WORTHWHILE? BHUMIKA PARMAR Director of BP Legal Solicitors

WHY YOU MAY NEED AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER The conflict happening in Afghanistan right now has displaced millions of people. They’ve been forced to leave their homes and find safety elsewhere. The crisis has struck conversations around the world about immigration. It’s reminded us how complicated and intricate that people who aren’t lawyers can find the policies, laws, and regulations are around this topic and how they may feel isolated or overwhelmed by their situation and what happens next. Immigration Law can be confusing and complex and so it’s up to lawyers and professionals to ensure clarity on your options and how to proceed. At BP Legal Solicitors, we have a dedicated Immigration Department who diligently keep up to date with the latest changes to UK Immigration Law in order to give the best possible advice in relation to current circumstances. You may find yourself needing a range of specialist services to assist with immigration matters, whether they’re affecting you, your friends and family, or your business. These may include: ◆ Work Permit Applications ◆ Student Visas ◆ Political Asylum ◆ Dependant Relative Application ◆ Judicial Review ◆ Marriage/Civil Partnership Applications ◆ Illegal Entry/ Overstay ◆ Immigration Appeals ◆ Indefinite Leave ◆ Citizenship It’s important to seek advice as soon as you’re able, so the circumstances can be assessed and investigated in order to discover the paths you can take. 26 | NICHE

A shareholders’ agreement is often used to set out the terms governing issues in a limited company. It is a contract between all or some of the shareholders, so can deal with all or some aspects of the relationship between them. If there is no shareholders agreement, the relationship between the shareholders is governed by the company’s articles and memorandum. This would mean, for example, a shareholder who is a director could be removed as a director by the passing of an ordinary resolution (a simple majority) by the other shareholders. If there are three shareholders each holding a third of the shares, this would allow two of the shareholders to remove the third shareholder from being a director, and gain control of the Board of Directors. A shareholders’ agreement could protect an individual shareholder from being removed as a director or from

GREG HOLLINGSWORTH Director at Hollingsworths Solicitors being outvoted on key decisions.

What does a Shareholders’ Agreement commonly cover?

Some of the issues that can be covered include the transfer of shares, selling shares, directorships, what happens on the death of a shareholder and restrictive covenants on the shareholders. The inclusion of restrictive covenants can stop a shareholder from setting up a competing business (even if they have resigned as a director and shareholder of the company). In a company with two 50/50 shareholders, the agreement can deal with deadlock situations which can be a common problem in 50/50 situations.

WILLS FOR MARRIED COUPLES BHAVIN GANDHI Co-Director at Paradigm Wills and Legal Services Most couples like to combine their finances and legal documents since it’s a convenient way to manage confidential paperwork. If you’re considering making a will, writing a joint will may also seem like a good idea but is it the best option? What is a joint will? Joint wills are actually two separate wills that echo the wishes of the other partner which can include childcare, property, and finances, as well as additional wishes that are specific to the individual rather than the couple, such as funeral instructions. Joint wills usually state that when one testator dies, everything will be passed to the other, and when they die,

everything will be distributed according to the wishes of both parties. However, making a joint will requires both parties to agree that the wills cannot be changed without the consent of the other party, even after one party has died. We do not recommend creating a Joint Will. Making mirror wills Mirror wills is different to a Joint Will and allow each party to update their wills at any time without the consent of the other. This is particularly useful if you remarry or have children after your partner dies. Using trusts in your will If you’re concerned about how your partner may distribute funds after your death, you could choose to use trusts in your will that still allow them to benefit from assets. There are several types of trusts available that can be written into a will, so it’s best to seek professional advice for each individual circumstance.


Finalist

Protect your business in financial hardship What to do in cases of late or unpaid invoices, by Asit Jansari of Pattersons Commercial Law

I

n a world that is slowly emerging from the restrictions caused by Covid-19 and our past 18 months of Zoom calls and isolation, we are slowly getting back to meeting people (at a distance) and recognising friends behind a mask. Businesses are recovering and some are flourishing. Some, however, have not fared so well. I have had clients tell me that they have been, and still are, suffering, and others who have been owed significant sums of money by customers which is being held back due to financial uncertainties. It is the most frustrating thing when you have conducted the hard work for a customer only to not get paid, which causes you to spend yet more valuable time chasing the debtor. It is no secret that during times of financial hardship, it’s harder to be paid. It’s an alltoo-common outcome when things go wrong in the economy. What we have been through is unprecedented in our lifetime and some people are naturally concerned about stretching lines of credit too far in the hope that payment may be received.

So, what steps have you taken to protect your business? Here are some tips to consider. 1. Consider the areas of risk in your business You know your business and the manner in which you are running it. You are going to be the best person to see areas of risk that may in the past have caused you tension or troubles 2. Know your customers It’s all well and good winning the work and completing it; however, if you do not know who you are dealing with it is going to make chasing them for payment a difficult task. Be clear on who the customer is, whether it is an individual (if so, get their full name), partnership, or business (seek the full name of any partnership or limited company). 3. Computerise your record management Keep details of payments received and invoices raised. Try to monitor this regularly. The sooner you are able to see problems and identify unpaid invoices, the quicker you can take action to reduce the losses being caused and ensure continuous cashflow 4. If you notice a problem with non-payment, or persistent late payers, contact Pattersons

BUSINESSES ARE RECOVERING AND SOME ARE FLOURISHING. SOME, HOWEVER, HAVE NOT FARED SO WELL

Commercial Law urgently The quicker we can look at problems, the sooner we can determine a course of action to recover the money owed to you. For business-to-business debts, you may be able to recover late payment compensation for all invoices that are not paid to you, or paid to you late. Recoverable claims for late payment compensation: ◆ For invoices up to £999.99, you can claim £40 per invoice ◆ For invoices from £1,000 – £9,999.99, you can claim £70 per invoice ◆ For invoices over £10,000, you can claim £100 per invoice You are also entitled to an increased level of interest on the unpaid sum, currently 8.1%pa. Whilst this may not sound like much, it’s better than keeping your money in your bank! Best of all, you are entitled to recover your reasonable recovery charges from the debtor, so the debtor will pay the costs of instructing a law firm and it may not even cost you a penny. For all contractual or debt related problems, contact Asit on 0116 319 1110 or 07761 325 968 for expert assistance. NICHE | 27


nelsonslaw.co.uk

Divorce & separation can be complicated and emotional. We deliver the right blend of support and practical advice – empowering you, giving you a voice and helping you come though stronger. Family law issues can lead to transition in many aspects of your life – moving house and restructuring your investments, to name a few. When the only constant in life seems to be change, our expert teams are here as your continual support.

Provincial House 37 New Walk Leicester LE1 6TU 0116 222 6666


NICHE FEATURE

The obstacles of

divorce and separation From moving house and restructuring your investments to updating your will and sorting out your pension, divorce and separation is full of transitions – a local family law solicitor guides us through the complexities

T

he psychological and emotional effects of divorce are obvious, but the damage that the more practical aspects can have on a person’s wellbeing – such as restructuring investments or sorting out your pension – are often overlooked. Glynis Wright MBE, who heads up Nelsons’ family law team in Leicester, walked us through the aspects of divorce and separation that don’t often receive the attention they deserve right away. She explained: “A divorce or separation is about much more than just receiving a decree absolute certificate. As well as dealing with the short-term issues at hand, it’s important to look towards the future, enabling separating couples to have peace of mind by having plans in place post-divorce. “These clients are going

through one of the toughest times of their lives – a family law solicitor gives them a voice, fights for them, and steers them through the complex legal issues they face. “For example, as well as needing to file a divorce petition, someone may be moving out of the family home and need support with selling the property and buying a new one. “If a family business is involved, we’ve got our corporate team, and as we work towards a settlement for our clients, our colleagues in the investment management team are on-hand to help them picture their financial futures using cashflow software. “A share of a pension, some investments or rental properties can all be great, but it is also important to understand the level of income those assets can generate in order to determine

A DIVORCE OR SEPARATION IS ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN JUST RECEIVING A DECREE ABSOLUTE CERTIFICATE

whether the client will be able to enjoy their future lifestyle or not.” It would seem divorcing or separating couples may need more guidance and support than many might have originally first thought. “Divorce and separation can be complicated and emotional, so having access to multiple experts under one roof can really streamline that process and deliver the right blend of support and practical advice at a time when it’s needed most,” Glynis told us. If you’ve been affected by the issues in this article, you can contact Nelsons for advice on 0116 222 6666.

NICHE | 29


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email: bhumika@bplegal.co.uk web: bplegal.co.uk


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Woman’s Awards 2020 awarded to BP Legal Director Bhumika Parmar Law Firm of the Year finalists in the English Asian Business Awards 2019 Best Small Business finalists in the Niche Business Awards 2019

Conveyancing Wills and Probate Litigation Civil Claims Property Law Family Law

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Tel: 0116 253 6856

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Talking legacies From divorce to death, we hear about the difficult stuff no one wants to talk about until it’s too late. We interviewed a client of will writer Bhavin Gandhi of Paradigm Wills and Legal Services to uncover their thoughts on life and death and why they wrote a will

THE CLIENT

H

usband and wife Rik and Nimisha Pancholi live in Leicester with their two children. Rik is the director of Pattersons Commercial Law and Nimisha is the director of All About Soft Skills. They went to Bhavin for their will and lasting power of attorney.

I WOULD HAVE NEVER THOUGHT OF THE QUESTIONS THAT BHAV ASKED US, AND IT REALLY GOT ME THINKING

Tell me more about your upbringing

Rik: Money was very tight and there was a great deal of emphasis on family rather than materialistic items. Nim: My mum has always been the one who works very hard as dad’s always been quite ill and we don’t come from a lot of money. When I was welcomed by Rik’s family who were very open, it was refreshing, and I’ve learnt a lot about how my own family can be more open.

Why did you need a will and what led you to Paradigm?

R: As our children have grown up, we’ve realised that we need to make sure they’re looked after and adequate provisions have been made for them if we’re not around, to make it clear who will look after them, so our families don’t fight over the children or our intentions. N: I’m not a lawyer and Bhav was very approachable and explained things even to Rik in a manner that just made sense.

As a lawyer, Rik, how much did you already know about wills? R: I understand what a will does and how it works, but it’s not my area of expertise. I didn’t choose another lawyer for my will because, for me, it’s about the personal nature of it and Paradigm’s approach resonated with us.

What did you learn from the experience?

N: I would have never thought of the questions that Bhav asked us, and it really got me thinking – and rightly so. What would happen if the kids got married and then separated, or if one of us remarried and that person doesn’t get on with the kids? It was very thought provoking. R: I was impressed with their foresight and approach, looking at outcomes and what we wanted to achieve.

How did the pandemic affect you?

R: It’s brought home the truth that, at some point, we’re all going to pass away and when you look at something that’s very basic like a will, you realise that it doesn’t cost a lot to put one in place, but the implications are so important.

Which life events have made you re-evaluate? R: When my dad passed away in 2011. I saw the world completely differently.

How do you hope to be remembered?

N: Hopefully as happy people who made an impact on people’s lives. paradigm-wills.com 0116 464 7055

Rik and Nimisha discussing their will with Bhavin 32 | NICHE


NICHE FEATURE

Separating

smarter

A new bill is going to help soften the blow of divorce. For now, the law will continue with its ‘archaic’ practises. Here’s an alternative option WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

T

he no-fault divorce law is expected to come into play in spring 2022. Currently, a divorce must be based on one of five factors: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent, or five years’ separation. Former lawyer Sushma Kotecha expressed her concerns: “Historically, couples have had to divorce on an archaic legal system set up to create more conflict.” Attitudes towards marriage have changed drastically since the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. With this in place, if none of the non-contentious factors affect the marriage, applicants have been left with no choice but to file for divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, which in many cases, the other party is understandably unwilling to accept. The no-fault bill will mean couples can divorce on the grounds of ‘irretrievable breakdown’, proven simply by a statement signed by one or both partners. “It’s embedded in us that when we want a divorce, we need to call a lawyer, but that’s not always the case,” explains Sushma, who set up Holistic Family Mediation this year after 27 years working as a divorce and family lawyer.

There’s a kinder way to separate without taking legal action (litigation).

Litigation versus mediation

Noah Baumbach’s 2019 film Marriage Story shows just how litigation can destroy a couple’s chance at a harmonious separation. Sushma said: “There are pressures of chargeable time and targets on lawyers, so clients are not often encouraged to go down dispute resolution routes like mediation; there are more fees in litigation.” Mediation is a holistic approach for people wanting a smarter, more dignified separation limiting the psychological impact on them and their families. If couples don’t at least try mediation, allowing them to come to their own arrangements on their own terms, it’s likely a judge will impose outcomes on them, determine facts about the past, order Cafcass to investigate welfare issues and determine their children’s wishes and feelings, and decide what’s best for their children and finances. “In the litigation battlefield, the financial and emotional cost is significant, don’t rush into it,” warns Sushma. “I know how toxic and soul-destroying court can be. But people can instead achieve a co-operative future like I did. Our

IN THE LITIGATION BATTLEFIELD, THE FINANCIAL AND EMOTIONAL COST IS SIGNIFICANT, DON’T RUSH INTO IT

children and future generations count for much more than who’s right and wrong.”

Sushma’s story

Sushma realised her marriage no longer served her family after working hard at it. “It was painful, but by approaching the separation and divorce with the lens of a mediator, we managed to look forward without judgements about the past. We divorced in a way that meant we could attend our son’s graduation together, see his new house together, take our daughter to uni together, and spend Christmas together. So many couples cannot even share space. We took responsibility and shelved our adult issues.”

Less pressure for the courts

The no-fault law will support mediation as courts encourage couples to use more productive separation methods, trusting the judgment of the couple. Sushma added: “More regulations will direct people to mediation because courts have a backlog of work that doesn’t need to be there because there are other, more suitable forums for dealing with the fallout of divorce.” For more details, visit holisticfamilymediation.co.uk or call 0330 912 7403. NICHE | 33


Why Leicester is the leading city for launching start-up businesses SME businesses are essential to Leicester’s economic growth WORDS BY SIDDIQA REININGHAUS

T

he number of new businesses launching in Leicester has risen despite last year’s pandemic. With employees being placed on the furlough scheme or being made redundant in 2020, this triggered people to seek self-employment opportunities. From start-up businesses like homemade cakes, to customised face masks, SME businesses are making the change to move their offices to Leicester. Leicester is more than just an entrepreneurial millennial business city and is known for many achievements. Here are just a few reasons why Leicester is such a great city to launch a start-up, learn, develop your skills, and make connections.

Arts & Culture

Leicester is known to have a broad demographic population which makes the city one of the most ethnically diverse cities across the Midlands. The city holds unique annual events like the Diwali Lights, Pride festival, and Caribbean Carnival, to name just a few, which are celebrated by many tourists and locals. For entrepreneurs, building both a brand and social life within Leicester are equally important. Family related activities like the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and National Space Centre promote more footfall in the city. The city centre is easily accessible by walking from Leicester train station, making it an ideal commutable distance for workers. 34 | NICHE

Shopping

Leicester is continuously enhancing its shopping experience. The recently refurbished Fosse Park shopping centre was revamped over the summer with a range of brand new stores opening, focusing on clothing, furniture, and food. The shopping outlet was designed to provide an even wider choice of dining and leisure activities in order to become one of Leicester’s premium shopping centres. Elsewhere, lots of villages across Leicestershire have fantastic quirky and independent stores, as well as affordable office spaces to rent.

Universities

Leicester has three excellent universities which attract local and international students. Loughborough University specialises in sports-related courses, where Olympian bronze winner Holly Bradshaw is currently studying Sport and Exercise Psychology. The University of Leicester is ranked 23rd in the UK according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 and is one of the UK’s leading research universities. De Montfort University is now in its fifth year of The Crucible Project which is an entrepreneurship programme for DMU graduates who have an idea, product or service looking to turn it into a business. With more businesses blooming in Leicester, it’s no wonder start-ups and SME businesses are expanding their brand in the city, perhaps soon making Leicester the city that never sleeps.


‘Imagine what we could do’ Glen Parva, Wigston, South Wigston, Birstall and Blaby are all connected to one Leicestershire councillor – but he’s not lived a sheltered life when it comes to business and knowing what makes for a great county to live and work in WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

“I

’ve worked in other cities around the UK and spent lots of my time in London. I love arriving in London… but I also love leaving!” Says Paul Hartshorn, Blaby councillor and owner of IT consultancy MR H IT. He’s lived around the various boroughs of Leicestershire, so he knows a thing or two about the county. He says this is his true home, and he’s passionate to promote its appeal to the rest of the UK. “One of the main reasons I became a councillor was to promote the place where I live and gain respect for the city, drive new investment, and get people to invest here because it’s a great place to be.” We asked Paul what’s great and what’s not so great about Leicestershire.

Why is Leicester the best location to work in?

“You’re never more than a couple of hours’ journey from other cities. It’s great for business, because you can travel to see clients anywhere with ease with us being in such a central

location. My competition is based in Manchester, and they struggle to work with some companies further south because of their location.” Affordability “It’s a great place for start-up businesses looking for opportunities because Leicestershire isn’t too expensive. It’s got everything you need, and most things are affordable.” Culture “Leicester has really put itself on the map with its sporting achievements and its history. People around the world now know who we are.” Resilience “It’s a shame that Leicestershire gets the least amount of funding from the Government than any other county in the UK. It gets overlooked, but it’s done really well for itself despite this. If we had the same opportunities as other counties, imagine what we could do!”

What could be improved in Leicester?

Transport “Like most cities, public transport is lacking. The only way to really get around is by

ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS I BECAME A COUNCILLOR WAS TO PROMOTE THE PLACE WHERE I LIVE

car. The city used to have trams, and I think we should consider this again. The outskirt villages such as Oadby aren’t getting the respect they deserve because of a lack of bus routes. Leicester is very city-centric, so the little villages and independent retailers need to be looked after; their shops compete with the centre and Fosse Park. We need to drive people to these villages with convenient transport options and free parking. Our infrastructure needs to turn our reliance away from the car, which will also help lower pollution levels.” The charity sector Leicester has such a wonderful collaborative business community, and I would like to see that collaboration system used by the charity sector to support one another. All charities are trying to raise money, but come up against hurdles when they both plan the same events or approach the same organisations. More cooperation would be beneficial in gaining funding. Keep up to date with Paul’s work on Facebook @pmhartshorn. NICHE | 35


Love the gym Not all of us were born to be gym bunnies, some might even say we’re ‘gymophobics’ – so how do we overcome gym fear? WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

G

yms can feel intimidating and unmotivating for some, especially for women, meaning most of us ditch the membership card mere weeks after signing up. Sound familiar? Thankfully, there are gyms that are becoming more and more aware of these shortcomings and Sara Davies, co-owner of a local female only gym called Gymophobics Wigston, explains that the right atmosphere is key to creating lasting gym habit changes. “For members to want to keep going back to a gym, they need to feel like they are in a relaxed, non-intimidating environment. From personal experience, things like people not wearing headphones creates more opportunity for members to talk to one another, to

make friends. “Of course, staff are vital in creating the right vibe, too – they need to be friendly and approachable, encouraging members to go to them if they need support or advice.” Moreover, to keep gym goers motivated, Sara emphasises the importance of regular interactions with instructors is. “A good gym should be obsessed with members’ results and interested in a holistic programme to aid members in their health journey. We prescribe each lady a personalised gym programme, home exercise regime and dietary advice”. At Gymophobics Wigston, members’ programmes are reviewed every three weeks to check they are working for

them and crucially, that the client is enjoying it. “People just won’t stick to a regime if they aren’t enjoying it. Each client is made to feel special and important, no matter what stage they are at in their fitness journey.” After a very unsociable 18 months, a gym that is enjoyable to be in is vital now more than ever. “A gym should be a social and vibrant place, friendships should be created and encouraged – it certainly shouldn’t feel isolating or lonely.” A social, friendly gym you actually want to go to? They do exist. Visit Gymophobics Wigston which is exactly that and more. Find out more or book in for a free consultation call 0116 319 4750 or visit gymophobics.co.uk.

Leicester’s

Olympic glory Great Britain’s athletes returned from the Olympic Games in Tokyo with no less than 65 medals. With several involving team sports, these were shared between 112 medallists. We look at those with links to Leicester WORDS BY DAVE SMITH

J

ust two of our GB medallists were officially listed as coming from Leicester: John Gimson, winner of a silver medal in sailing (yet could we be any further from the sea here in the East Midlands?) and Izzy Petter, who earned a bronze in hockey. Another sailor, gold medallist Dylan Fletcher, comes from Market Harborough. However, the impact of Leicestershire was far, far wider, thanks mainly to the wonderful contribution of past and present students at Loughborough University – a true sporting mecca. There were several Loughborough alumni in the swimming pool, headed up by triple medallist Adam Peaty of course. Another former student, Keely Hodgkinson, just 19, raced to silver in the 800 metres on the athletics track, while current student Izzy Petter helped the GB hockey girls to bronze. Former Luff, Holly Bradshaw, finally cast off the mantle of ‘nearly girl’ with a well-deserved bronze in the pole vault

36 | NICHE

– Britain’s first ever medal in that discipline. Kayaker Liam Heath won bronze, which was the fourth Olympic medal of his career. School leaver Daryl Neita made the women’s 100 metres final before later securing a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 metres relay; current student Morgan Lake made it to the final of the women’s high jump while her teammate Emily Borthwick equalled her personal best in that event, just failing to reach the final. Alumnus Jake Wightman reached the 1500 metres final where he was joined by Loughborough College student Jake Heywood; Emily Diamond was part of the women’s 4 x 400 metres final quartet. And away from Loughborough, Oadby teacher Kevin Seaward was competing for Ireland in the marathon. Yes, Leicester and Leicestershire are firmly on the sporting map once more when it comes to the biggest gathering on the planet – and long may it continue.


The awesome everyday uses of

drone technology From the Olympics to the Post Office, drones are becoming a desirable and essential commodity WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

A

n incredible 1,824 drones came together at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games in July, forming a giant revolving globe with impressive precision flying. It was the most moving highlight for me and it got me thinking: what are drones even used for these days? It seemed every big kid wanted a drone at one point, while everyone else complained about them hovering over their gardens. You can buy a drone on the high street, but you should be concerned that you won’t be covered by insurance, says Paul Bromfield who runs ABP Drones. “People associate drones with an invasion of privacy or blocking Gatwick Airport. If an accident is caused, the comeback is always on the customer,” Paul warned me. He owns drones that weigh up to 10kg and others that weigh just 249 grams that are as small as the size of your hand. He tells me he’s CAA qualified, which gives him official authorisation to fly the unmanned aircraft for commercial work, filming, and photography.

Drones and their possibilities

They can be used to carry out inspections that are accurate within millimetres when surveying buildings and zooming in to examine just one tiny bolt. Describing his business

as ‘Your eye in the sky for a new perspective’, Paul also undertakes agricultural work using drones to spot weeds or survey crops, telling tractors where to spray fertiliser or pest and weed control chemicals. Drones can even fertilise crops themselves. The drones can detect panels that aren’t working on solar panel farms or discover where energy loss is coming from in seconds with thermal imaging. For refurbishments or works on historical buildings, 3D imaging is useful. Paul uses drones to measure window sizes, find faults in structures, and much more. They’re also used for search and rescue by emergency services and they’ll often send a drone up before a helicopter to find missing persons. Paul says he uses the same drones as the police and fire service.

DRONES ARE REALLY INFORMATIVE AND MANY PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY’RE ALL ABOUT

Why drones are used

They’re used by the Post Office, Amazon, and even the NHS to gather medical samples. “Drones are really informative and many people don’t understand what they’re all about,” Paul said. “They save time and money, reduce health and safety risks, can calculate wastage, and deliver a quick turnaround and real-time results.” The aesthetic that drones can achieve is also trending. “It’s fashionable to have a fly-through now.” Paul completes lots of commercial work for companies wanting to showcase their premises in a modern way. Tokyo Games-style drone displays may not be a possibility for the average individual, but companies like ABP Drones can help us achieve most of their opportunities. Find more on drone capabilities at abpdronesolutions.com.


Finalist

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Email us your CV and a covering letter to HR@mssl.uk.com For more information on our unique company, visit mssl.uk.com Or call 0116 275 4100 to speak to us about our roles


If you’ve just left college, just graduated, or are looking for a career change, you could be right for us Our current roles:

Labourer Engineer Fitter Apprentice Trainee Panel Builder / Wire Person Experienced Panel Builder / Wire Person We have multiple positions available in each area too.


How do you find success? What do you want from life and how are you going to get it? Action Coach Phil Nassau has some advice

I

f you asked 100 people what they want most in life, I would bet 95 would not be able to tell you. If pressed, some would say security, many would say money, and a few just happiness. When I ask this question of businesspeople, what I discover is that few can define it or give an indication of a plan by which they hope to attain their expressed wishes. Four areas need to be in place to bring about true success (whatever that is). 1. A definite purpose backed by a burning desire Without a burning desire to reach your goal, success is elusive. It’s what keeps you pushing on with all the setbacks that you will be faced with. 2. A definite plan, expressed in continuous action This sounds easy and can be if structured well. How many of us when putting a plan together take the time out of our busy lives to do this? To take a day or more to discuss with someone what you are looking to achieve. Then the more difficult part: working that plan every week, reviewing continuously our progress.

3. A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences This is the tough one in the world we live in. Affirmations I have found to be the only way and they are very powerful if used well. I was a sceptic but through good fortune and a little research, I discovered many exceptionally successful people have the affirmations at the core of their lives. 4. An alliance with one or more people This is simple to do but the most overlooked and the most important. This person must be strong enough to challenge you and not be prepared to listen to your excuses and the lies you tell yourself.

Sales and Marketing Accelerator

Female Entrepreneurs

AwayDay

Mon, 4 October 2021 | 09:30 – 16:30 Hosted by:

Nicola Moss

Spend the day with a sales coach & a visibility coach to develop your skills and create your 90 day business strategy Extend your network, practice your new skills and take away some practical actions to implement in your business right away

Leicester Marriott Hotel Smith Way, Leicester LE19 1SW Amanda Daly 40 | NICHE

Book your place on eventbrite.co.uk


Did it get hot in here? Or are you feeling the cold draught of dissatisfaction from your staff? Checking the temperature of your business can reveal how healthily it’s performing, where faults are, and what to do next WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

I

f your business has reached a stalemate and isn’t growing as you’d like it to, it might be time for a temperature check. For companies with 50 staff or more, the temperature check is an ideal technique to understand why the organisation’s growth has steadied, to get to the bottom of any culture issues, and to investigate habits that no longer serve the business. “Do you know everything that’s going on in your business?” Asks Amanda Daly, owner of The Turnaround CEO, a business development and life coaching service. “If you think you do, it’s time to take off the rose-tinted glasses.” It can be impossible to have a deep understanding of all the ins and outs of every department in your business. Amanda is running free firsttime temperature checks for businesses with over 50 team members.

How it works

The temperature check consists of various diagnostics to build behaviour profiles, engagement multipliers, and it all begins with a totally anonymous survey for every employee asking subjective questions to reveal what’s really going on in an organisation. The results give a picture of reality. They identify areas for growth and change, show which rules need adjusting, and presents areas that need coaching. “It might feel scary because many of us don’t face reality enough but how can we grow if we don’t know how? You might want to engage with the results, or you might not, you might want to continue your growth journey with another coach, but whatever the case, at least take a temperature check for free so you have the option of learning from it.” Your business may be

DO YOU KNOW EVERYTHING THAT’S GOING ON IN YOUR BUSINESS?” IF YOU THINK YOU DO, IT’S TIME TO TAKE OFF THE ROSE-TINTED GLASSES

cold, warm or hot, and each department may have a different temperature, but your coach will explain in detail what it all means. Temperature checks are then recommended every 90 days.

How behaviour affects business

The habits of a leader decide the culture and behaviours in a workplace. Amanda gave an example: “If a leader doesn’t realise that they’re not delegating enough, staff won’t feel trusted or empowered and therefore, aren’t stepping up. By changing habits we change culture.” Deciphering the true culture within a workplace allows leaders to take action to build trust between colleagues, encourage staff to rise to the occasion, create a safe space for team members to share ideas, and much more. A leader’s behaviour affects others so it’s important to find out how your actions, words, and habits are impacting your team and, therefore, your whole company. Book a free temperature check with Amanda at theturnaroundceo.co.uk. NICHE | 41


F

Tun ing in t sta rtin o go ut

Reviewing business and industry in British history, Leicester’s own PPL PRS, which is responsible for TheMusicLicence, discusses how start-up businesses can discover their mojo rom Steel City to the Old Smoke, the UK has long been known for its entrepreneurial and startup success. At its peak, there were around 178 independent lace traders recorded in Nottingham alone, with a further 2,741 boot and shoemakers recorded in Leicester and surrounding areas. Unsurprisingly, the UK and indeed the Midlands itself, is still at the forefront of start-up business movement with some of the largest global names including Unidays and Gymshark launching here in recent years. According to Startups, an independent, online resource for anyone starting and growing a business, the trend of new businesses in the UK has risen year on year with an overall increase of 69% between 2000 to 2019, and 2021 is expected to be no exception. Despite numerous lockdowns and uncertainty for many, start-up businesses have continued to grow more than ever, to the extent where 800,000 new UK businesses were created in 2020; Elite Business

One of the main challenges facing start-up businesses is ensuring that they stand out from their competitors

magazine reported this was a rise of 40% in just one year. For some, these new business opportunities may have emerged as a result of having more time at home to develop their ideas and start-up journeys. Others may have tapped into the unique climate that the pandemic has created and found scope to offer their products or services in the world of the ‘new normal’ that we now live in. Regardless of their beginnings, current new businesses have the opportunity to provide a solution for their customers and discover a market that matches the current climate, just as start-ups and entrepreneurial business owners did for decades and even centuries before. Luckily, in today’s world, technology has played a crucial role in the success of many start-ups – particularly during the pandemic – whether it has been facilitating online orders, managing client bookings or providing contactless payment opportunities. But, as with businesses of old, sometimes personability can be just as important to the success of a business than the modern methods or innovative technology. According to research by The Contact Company, 84% of consumers said that customer service was one of the key factors people considered when deciding whether to buy from a company or not, while 75% of consumers said that they preferred human interaction and a genuine feel over an automated, technological approach. Creating a positive impression for your customers and


NICHE

building loyalty across your brand is as much about the experience as it is about the products or services you offer. With this in mind, 88% of companies that use music within their business said that it is enjoyable to staff and customers, according to research by PPL PRS. Music can help to set the tone, create an engaging environment, and help to enhance the experience overall. It can provide a sense of familiarity, create a positive atmosphere, and help to give businesses an inviting and upbeat feel. One of the main challenges facing start-up businesses is ensuring that they stand out from their competitors. By using music, businesses could enhance their identity and increase recognition – and could help to make the customer experience memorable and unique. In the same way that music often helps us to feel good and unwind, playing it for customers could help to set the right mood and create an experience that is both relatable and engaging – from creating that upbeat ‘Friday feeling’ for customers looking to unwind after a long week at work to creating a calming atmosphere for those midweek visitors who may wish to enjoy the experience at a more relaxed pace. Whatever the situation, the right music can help to create a distinctive and appealing space – both in person and, equally as importantly, over the phone. Even if, as a start-up business, your operations are not face-to-face just yet, it is still as important to provide your customers with the same positive and enjoyable experience as you would wish to provide in-person. Playing music through on-hold phone systems can help to give a business a more professional feel

Finalist

The right music can help to create a distinctive and appealing space and improve customer interaction. A phone call may be the first contact a new customer has with your business, so it is important to make the right first impression. When it comes to your staff, listening to music at work could help create a happy environment and relieve stress, something that has been incorporated into up-andcoming businesses for generations. Going back to the height of the UK’s independent, industrial success, the BBC introduced ‘Music While you Work’ radio programmes specifically designed for boosting productivity and team morale amongst factory workers. Listening to music at work could provide an added burst of energy for employees throughout the day and could be particularly beneficial at improving concentration and focus, especially during long hours and repetitive tasks. Since employees have probably spent most of lockdown at home, listening to music could help to ease the transition back into work and create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. So, as your business starts up… turn it up! Release the rhythm, discover your mojo and get your business off to the best start. For more information call 0808 134 8364 or go to pplprs.co.uk/release-the-rhythm. NICHE | 43


NICHE FEATURE

Personal vs Virtual assistants

A growing demand on business owners for their time is costly to both profits and home life. Outsourcing time-consuming tasks may allow you to cut the ties to the important jobs so you can get on with the fun ones WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

S

pinning all the plates, juggling all the balls and missing that allimportant middle child’s dental appointment can have many business owners feeling overwhelmed. You might not know it yet, but that feeling of not having time is holding back your business growth. So, what’s the solution? “For a start, it’s about recognising that you are trying to do it all and that it’s not only affecting your worklife balance, but also the quality of your attention on your business,” says Virtual Assistant Jo Peters. “Then, you need to decide what you can do to alleviate the time pressures you have so that you can put your energy into the business in an effective, time efficient way.” ‘OK’, says nearly every business owner out there. ‘How do I do that?’ The answer? An assistant. Whether you need an in-person PA or a virtual one is

44 | NICHE

A GOOD VIRTUAL ASSISTANT IS THERE AS BACKUP TO ALL THE ASPECTS OF A BUSINESS OWNER’S DAY TO DAY LIFE

something you need to discover – find out what the needs are in your business. Do you have a bulging to-do list? An overflowing email inbox? No idea whether you have a board meeting or a holiday booked with family next month on a Tuesday? These specific needs are solved with an assistant who is dedicated to managing these things for you. It may not be an in-person assistant you need. You might not require full time, in-office hours, but rather an hour or two each day to diary plan, schedule assess, handle bookings here and there, and chase an invoice or two. If this sounds familiar, a virtual assistant could be the answer. Having a permanent fulltime assistant should, of course, ensure that you get your time in order. However, there can be a high added cost for your business at a time when many are streamlining their processes.

In addition, there are the added human resource elements to hiring. A virtual assistant provides the flexibility and cost-effective option, with the benefits of having an experienced and efficient assistant taking care of things alongside you. Providing supportive services such as administrative tasks, diarising, invoice chasing, and receptionist roles, as and when they are required rather than round the clock in the office, is hugely time and cost-efficient. “A good Virtual Assistant is there as backup to all the aspects of a business owner’s day to day life. A wing person, as such,” Jo adds. Ditch the plate-spinning and ball-juggling and discover tailored services to suit your specific needs, saving you both money and precious time. You can request a free consultation from Jo at jspvirtual.co.uk.


Celebrating Celebrating

years in business! years in business!

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@ERRECRUITMENT1 NICHE | 45


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Being human HR issues happen to everyone

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The pandemic has made HR a real headscratcher over the last year. An HR specialist tells our Editor Kerry Smith that HR hiccups happen to everyone, and reveals vital tips on how to deal with underperforming staff

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uman resources – it’s a minefield, isn’t it? From putting out a job ad to letting someone go, to promoting someone, or changing their job role; there are important laws and values to consider all the way through an employee’s journey with you, especially if they’ve been with you throughout the coronavirus crisis. Local business Ninja HR wants to reassure many small to medium sized businesses as we emerge from the pandemic. In the past year Ninja HR has worked with more than 90 local companies as well as the Government as an approved Kickstart Gateway helping companies to recruit and train


NICHE FEATURE

HR Headscratcher

How to deal with a disgruntled, underperforming employee 1. Take a deep breath and remain calm. Sometimes people think their manager is fair game, and their language and approach can be aggressive, but the worst thing you can do is lose your cool. Try to remember that although it might seem very personal, the real problem might be an issue at home. 2. Listen and be supportive. If you can find out what the root cause of the issue is, it will be a lot easier to find a solution. 3. Follow your policy and don’t rush into doing anything. The vast majority of cases lost at Employment Tribunal are because of procedural errors or hasty dismissals. Take your time. 4. Ask your employee what they think the solution could be. It may be that they feel they need more training, or some emergency leave, have a disability they hadn’t told you about, or are being bullied or sexually harassed. 5. Rushing is bad, but don’t ignore the problem either. It may feel like a hassle, but letting things fester will just make it worse.

employees, and to create 454 kickstart placements and achieve grant funding worth £3,632,000. Ninja HR has also taken on a variety of complex ad hoc work as well as supporting their retained customers. They’ve so far gained all their work through referrals and networking – often where customers, other HR companies and HR, legal, and financial professionals have recommended their services. Launched in June 2019, Ninja HR has quickly built a reputation for dealing with complex and challenging HR issues without drama or fuss. “If you’ve got a really tough challenge, whether that is an allegation of fraud or sexual harassment in relation to a director or you want to grow fast and across international boundaries, we’ve got experience in all areas,” commented Aime Armstrong, CEO and Founder of Ninja HR. “I love that moment when a customer’s frown and worry disappear as they realise the situation that they thought was impossible, does have a solution and not only can it be sorted, but it is also going to be quicker, easier and cheaper than they thought.” Aime has 20 years’ experience in dealing with the most complex and sensitive issues in the public sector, having run large HR departments in the NHS and local government. Meanwhile, Milly Harding, Ninja HR’s Chief Operating Officer, has spent the last decade helping start-ups grow. The Ninja HR team also includes Tom, as the Kickstart Service Delivery Manager, Helen, as an HR Business partner, Alex as Head of Learning and Development, Kelly Allen and Emily Laflin as virtual assistants, a growing team of associates and support staff, as well as their very own HR Kickstarter Juliette. It is clear that, despite being such a newcomer to the market, Ninja HR is already getting noticed. Facing

Finalist incredibly tough competition, and only being two years old, they have got through to the final of the Niche Business Awards 2021 in the Professional Services Category. “I was really humbled to find out that I’d been nominated for this award, and gobsmacked when I got through to the final. After the lockdown, it was so lovely to tell the team that they could all get dressed up, and that our joint efforts have been recognised in this prestigious event. It’s been such a tough 18 months and seeing everyone get excited about a big night out was just lovely,” Aime told us. Despite only being in business two years, Ninja HR has ambitions to be the go-to HR company for the toughest HR challenges in the UK and beyond. But despite their ambitious plans, they believe that collaboration is far better than competition. They frequently work with other HR consultancy firms and freelance partners so that customers can get the highest quality services in one place, with one contract, without having to worry about hiring specialists

I love that moment when a customer’s frown and worry disappear as they realise the situation that they thought was impossible, does have a solution such as employment lawyers, health and safety consultants and learning specialists. Creativity, innovation and diversity are celebrated at Ninja HR as a way to create unique and bespoke solutions for customers. And because of the challenging nature of their work and having become an extreme hybrid workplace (a term Ninja HR uses to explain that all staff are permanently home-based, but get together frequently online and in person) the Ninja HR team, enjoy letting their hair down as a team over cocktails. For more advice, or information on the Kickstart Gateway Employers programme and how your company could benefit, visit ninjahr.co.uk.

NICHE | 47


Take me to a

New Career

Taxi giants Take Me are on a huge recruitment drive to meet the fast-growing demand for taxis here in the UK. Here, we chat with CEO David Hunter about the post-pandemic boom, prosperous driving careers, and taxis falling from the sky WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

“P

eople are of course still expecting taxis to be falling out of the sky the minute they need them,” says Take Me’s CEO David Hunter. “We are doing our best to meet that demand, but we need more drivers. The demand is greater than I’ve ever known it.” When I ask why, he tells me it’s “for a number of reasons”, but primarily it’s down to the world opening up. “With the lifting of restrictions and nightlife back in business, people working in offices again, going out, and predominantly not going abroad but spending their money socialising here in the UK, we are seeing clients simply needing our services round the clock again – more so than ever.” The shortage of drivers, he tells me, is multi-layered: “During lockdowns, trade dropped significantly in the evenings, meaning many drivers adapted to working more in the day. Now they aren’t so eager for the night time work, but we are seeing drivers requesting these shifts again as they can see the benefits of quieter roads and increased demand.

48 | NICHE

“In addition, many drivers chose delivery work because there was a demand there. And then of course there has been a huge drop in European workers due to Brexit and/or drivers returning home during Covid who are not able to come back,” David adds. Word on the streets is that there has been a drop of approximately a third in taxi drivers on the road across the industry, Take Me, which is a national company with fleets across the UK as well as here in Leicester, is on a drive to get new drivers on board. Why drive with Take Me A driver with Take Me can earn on average around £1,500 a week and can work on a self-employed or employed basis, each of which has its own benefits. All drivers can expect training, support, four weeks’ commissionfree driving, a vehicle if needed, assistance with car maintenance, and even reduced insurance rates. As a self-employed worker, a driver can choose their shifts, so if night shifts work best for you, or you have


NICHE FEATURE

other work commitments you can work around those easily. As an employed driver your shifts are given to you, but you do receive other benefits such as sick pay, holiday pay, and further assistance. Joining a highly regarded and established firm like Take Me means a driver has extensive support, making the job a skilled one quickly with great rates of pay and a smooth transition from any previous career. David said: “We offer a lot of support in our packages for drivers. They know if they join us, they will get the very best training, advice, and excellent working conditions.” The competitive rates of pay mean that many drivers who turned to delivery work during the pandemic may well be seeing the benefits of working with people, again rather than packages. “There are other benefits to driving people over packages than rates of pay – there’s the social aspect that so many of us have been deprived of for so long. A taxi driver works with people, and that’s far more interesting!” David laughs. Drivers will not only be busy, well paid, and social once again, but they can also work in various counties across the UK, with Take Me being a major competitor for other app-based platforms. A rise in demand for taxi services was felt before the pandemic with David adding: “There is a shift in the general public away from owning their own cars to now enjoying an easier, often more cost-effective way of getting around. “With the more economical vehicles available, the costs

Drivers will not only be busy, well paid, and social once again, but they can also work in various counties across the UK, with Take Me being a major competitor for other app-based platforms associated are able to come down. With that, the public is becoming more open to the idea of a convenient and more wallet-friendly travel in favour of owning their own car.” The ease in mobility with the use of technology, further adds to the appeal of calling a cab as opposed to taking other transport; at the touch of a few buttons your car can be there in minutes taking you door to door with payment taken electronically and efficiently. All of these reasons for an increase in the demand for tax drivers means there has never been a better time to change career and drive for Take Me. Find out more and apply at drive.takeme.taxi. NICHE | 49


A reminder of the finalists before the ceremony on Friday, September 24 More than 400 nominations were made across 15 categories this year, and two new categories were introduced: Community Impact and Entrepreneur of the Year. Property agency Fraser Stretton is this year’s headline sponsor. Co-Director Narinder Nijjar said: “We’re the proud headline sponsors of this year’s fantastic Niche Business Awards. A massive well done to all the finalists. The ceremony will be an exciting occasion!” Those in the running for an award will no doubt be eagerly anticipating the big event. The theme is a Mad Hatter’s tea party, and we’ve most definitely gone all out to impress our guests… curiouser and curiouser!

Without further ado, the 2021 finalists are… BEST NEW BUSINESS Louise Rose Aromas Steven Mather Solicitor Truinvest

COMMUNITY IMPACT Mission:Foodbank ER Recruitment HQ Recording Studio

FAMILY BUSINESS MoBro’s Charles Bentley Fraser James Blinds

RISING STAR Rob Spence – Paragon Sales Solutions Harpreet Kashb – BP Legal Jenna Lee – JL Mentor

BUSINESS GROWTH Scope Construction Truinvest Michael Smith Switchgear

EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR PPL/PRS Michael Smith Switchgear Pattersons Commercial Law

BEST SMALL BUSINESS BP Legal Imperial Roofing Supplies Randalls

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE Jodi Kate Skillen Fabric Recruitment

DIGITAL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR HEAL.med Anicca Digital Trident 50 | NICHE

LEICESTERSHIRE CHARITY OF THE YEAR Midland Langar Seva Society Shama Women’s Centre The Bridge

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR David Hunter – ADT Mark Smith – Truinvest EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE Generation Youth PPA Primary Cover The Crucible Project PROFESSIONAL SERVICES Firetree Visual Ninja HR BUSINESSMAN OF THE YEAR Romail Gulzar – Pukaar News Sean Smith – Michael Smith Switchgear Mark Smith – Truinvest BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR Emily Smith – Michael Smith Switchgear Nikki Robson - Breedon Consulting Lola Ojomo – Pure Homecare


NICHE FEATURE

Is working from home

cyber-safe? The future is hybrid working. It saves money, increases productivity, and creates happier employees. However, there’s more to it than that, particularly where company security is concerned WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

W

hat does your office look like? It’s likely after the year of huge changes that have taken place around how we get the work done, that your office is no longer a place of 9-5, same desk, same breaks, same faces working. With businesses flourishing in the new more flexible, hybrid working dynamic, many are closing the office doors and facilitating their workers with ways of working from home, coffee shops, or even purpose-designed temporary office spaces. But – and there typically is always a but – what does it mean for your business’s security? For your data protection? IT solutions specialist Adam Jeffryes enlightens us: “Things have moved very quickly in terms of what businesses need to do in order to facilitate the new ways their team are working. There’s far more to it than simply

checking your team can access their emails, that’s for certain.” “Like what?” Well, Adam elaborates: “For a start, whose device are they working on? Is it their own or corporate? What kind of security does it have on it? Where are they printing potentially data-sensitive documents?” It’s vital that you as a business have considered these elements to hybrid working. Adam explains the consequences for those businesses that don’t have solutions in place: “There are, of course, security risks when your workers are accessing information through devices in various buildings, tapping into various servers. Then there’s the data protection elements to consider – printing documents at home which could be seen by others outside of the business isn’t GDPR compliant.” “So, what can be done?” I ask. “Plenty,” he says. “Switching

NO MATTER THE SIZE OF BUSINESS IT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THIS WAY OF WORKING AFFECTS ALL

to cloud-based working for a start. Then there are some great affordable up-to-the-minute security firewall protection applications we can provide, as well as printing hubs and telephony systems which operate round the clock.” These solutions aren’t only for the large corporates though, “No matter the size of business, it’s important to remember this way of working affects all. There’s lots to be done for the smaller businesses too, which is supportive and affordable.” Honestly, these are aspects to working from home that many of us may not have explored or be aware of. Regardless of the size of your business, these elements need to be correctly explored and are best discussed with an expert like Adam at Dromeaus Limited to ensure the perks of hybrid working can be enjoyed by your business and your employees. NICHE | 51


Can you teach people to be

entrepreneurs? No is the short answer, according to this senior university lecturer WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

Why DMU associates ‘crucible’ with entrepreneurs

A crucible is a container that jewellery makers use to melt gold in. Out of the Crucible Project’s entrepreneurship melting pot, hopefully, comes a confident individual with hand-crafted skills ready to take to market.

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quick Google of the word ‘entrepreneur’ comes up with Oxford Language’s definition: a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit’. But George Deeb, writing for Forbes, argues there’s much more to it. He claims they’re risk-takers, visionaries, leaders, pitbulls, and superheroes. So, how does one become an entrepreneur? The question: ‘can we teach people to be entrepreneurs?’ was recently asked to De Montfort University’s Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader Percy Emmett. “Not in the understanding of the word ‘entrepreneurship’,” Percy admits, despite being the leader of DMU’s Crucible Project which is well-known for churning out successful entrepreneurs. “But we can nurture confidence and resilience within the individual to be able 52 | NICHE

We support them through as many parts of their business as they wish to get to market, but our focus is on upskilling and developing the individual

to take the necessary risks to take the business into the market space and we can highlight some of the pitfalls they might come up against. Ultimately, entrepreneurship must come from within themselves.” The Crucible Project has been known over its five years as a business start-up programme – but that’s a slight misconception. Rather than being perceived just as a business development programme, it is more of an educational and personal development programme for individuals. It’s why Percy was delighted to hear that the project had made it through to the finals of the Niche Business Awards 2021 Education category. “When we were shortlisted for the Education category we were so glad, because our philosophy is about building confident, resilient individuals with the right knowledge and skills to apply to their sector or industry,” Percy told


NICHE FEATURE

Finalist

me. “We were surprised because most people think of the project as a business programme rather than a learning process, and this is really helpful because we want to be known as supporters and educators in this field.” One of The Crucible Project’s protégés HEAL.med, responsible for the Diabetes Education App, was also named a finalist in the Niche Business Awards 2021 in the Digital Business of the Year category. A rebranding of the Crucible Project will take place over the coming months to solidify the philosophy and message of the course. It focuses on how knowledge and skills are imparted in order for personal growth. Percy explained: “It doesn’t matter what they apply that training to, they will always have it with them. People will often come on to the programme with a business idea and find that it doesn’t work. But they will utilise the learning and resilience and confidence-building to apply to any business idea or transfer the learning to a job role.” Each month, the budding entrepreneurs undertake training in PR, marketing, intellectual property, and a whole gambit of other topics. Percy acknowledged: “We all know that they’re not going to be a specialist in every one of those subjects, but they do need to know how they’re applied and how they’ll affect the business they’re hoping to create. How these aspects are embedded into the structure of a business is a key understanding. “They don’t need to be experts in all these fields, someone else can manage those sides of things for them, while we facilitate the access to that knowledge and confidence for them to be able to let go and delegate, and let others have their influence. “We support them through as many parts of their business as they wish to get to market, but our focus is on upskilling and developing the individual.” While people may not be able to be taught how to be entrepreneurs, if they have vision, the qualities of a leader, or a ‘pitbull’ nature about them, it would seem they can certainly be taught how to develop the skills to eventually become one. Find out more about the Crucible Project members, or how to apply at dmu.ac.uk/crucible.


Not all heroes wear capes “With great power, there must also come great responsibility,” Stan Lee wrote in his Amazing Spider-Man comic book series. But in real life, who’s had the power and responsibility to save you when there was no superhero around? WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

I

t started with story time in the office; I was telling the Niche team how an incident with a spider got me locked out of my house. It sat above me on the wall, right next to the front door. As I opened it, the spider – no exaggeration – leapt at me and so I made a run for it. The door, which is self-locking, shut behind me, with my keys still in the lock on the inside. It was 7pm on a Friday night and I was on my way out to meet friends in town after lockdown was lifted. Nearly in tears from the frustration of it all, I remembered a company that had advertised in Niche previously. I called Brad Lingard at Emergency Glazing, who literally came to the rescue saving my much-needed night out. “Not all heroes wear capes,” our CEO Jenny sniggered at me, and that one phrase inspired this whole special feature.

We usually see superheroes saving the day in movies protecting the lives of innocent people or fighting forces of evil. But in the real world, our heroes don’t wear capes. Some wear lab coats when healthcare workers risk the infection of Covid-19 for the sake of their patients. Lawyers wear suits when defending justice and soldiers wear uniforms to protect their country’s freedom. The workplace is also no exception to the unsuspecting everyday hero. Within organisations, people demonstrate heroic behaviour all the time, whether it’s offering mentoring advice or giving a lift to a colleague on a rainy day. From my spider story, we began searching for other everyday local heroes, the kind we take for granted until we really need them. Read all about them here.

How I was rescued from an ordeal with a spider When I was pacing my back garden (luckily the gate was unlocked) trying to figure out what to do next, I found Emergency Glazing’s number in one of our back issues online. Brad picked up after a few rings and reassuringly told me he would be with me in an hour as he was currently on another job. I was worried that Stoney Stanton would be too out of the way, but it didn’t faze him. I was prepared to wait for him to arrive, but he told me he didn’t want me waiting outside alone and told me that he’d meet me in town with my keys on his way home. “Are you sure?” I asked as my panic slowly dissolved with Brad’s calmness at the situation. His composure, professionalism, 54 | NICHE

and total empathy comforted me enough to be able to safely head out while he made his way to retrieve my keys. It wasn’t long before Brad showed up with my keys and all was well in the world again. I know that spider’s still around somewhere, though... For all locked-out emergencies, to make your home or business more secure, or for repairs and maintenance, call Brad on 07534 488 929. Find out more at emergencyglazingleicester.co.uk.

I WAS WORRIED THAT STONEY STANTON WOULD BE TOO OUT OF THE WAY, BUT IT DIDN’T FAZE HIM


Behind bars:

locking up lawyer labels Think of a criminal defence lawyer. You might conjure up a general stereotype of a nondescript, privileged suitwearer with a briefcase, definitely not wearing a cape... WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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efending criminals sounds more villainous than heroic, you might say – maybe you’ll settle for anti-hero? The movie character who doesn’t portray the usual attributes of a conventional hero, but is guided by good intentions. Now imagine you’re the one who needs saving. Yakesh Tanna, criminal law lecturer and co-director at criminal defence specialists, ZMS Solicitors, said: “We understand the issues that people carry with them who have unfortunately fallen into a life of crime, as well as those from a typical middle-class family who have found themselves in the nightmarish

criminal justice system for the first time.” We see the headlines and come to a conclusion that whoever committed the crime must be a bad person, but every story has multiple sides. What if someone you loved sent a photo they received in confidence onto a recipient it wasn’t intended for? That’s revenge porn, a serious offence. But should it define the rest of their life? What if you harmed someone physically? You’d hope someone would listen to your side of the story and how you got into such a mess. “It’s seems dramatic to say, but you could be arrested at any time.

I’ve represented people from all walks of life who never thought they would find themselves in need of our services. Anyone can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and anyone can make a mistake,” Yakesh told us. ZMS Solicitors exists to help underprivileged people who deserve a second chance. They might not wear capes, but the typical lawyer labels and stereotypes certainly don’t fit here. If you need help call 07958 587899, or visit zmslegal.co.uk.

Above and beyond

the paperwork When a client’s kitchen ceiling collapsed causing flooding, damage, stress, and mounting expense, Geoff at Aspray, a loss assessor company, came to the rescue WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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hen parts of our home are damaged it can be very distressing, not to mention time-consuming, especially when it happens in a way that feels irreparable. Then there’s the worry of making an insurance claim for what may well be unexpectedly high costs. Aspray, a loss assessor company for property damage, do far more for their customers than fill in the paperwork. Director Geoff Tallis tells us about the time he attended a kitchen leak to top all kitchen leaks: “A client called with a collapsed kitchen ceiling with water pouring through so I made it a priority to visit their property immediately to survey the damage. “Due to my work with contractors, I was able to have one of my plumbers attend within an hour and with my drying equipment had the machines set up in a matter of hours.” For the customer, the distressing experience was eased by Geoff handling not only the immediacy of the problem but

then the task of beginning an insurance claim too. “I started work with the insurance company to manage the claim. As part of it, I brought in a host of detection equipment to locate and measure the damage that cannot be seen with the human eye. From there, we put together a full drying regime which was then agreed with the insurance company.” For Geoff, being so hands-on at the scene before the claim gives him a greater sense of job satisfaction. “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I’ve made a difference at what can be a very stressful time for a client,” Geoff told me. For help with more than the paperwork in both residential and commercial property damage, visit aspray.com.


Cape-less

crusaders Insolvency practitioners rarely ever get cast in the role of the hero. That’s not a judgement from us, it’s from a practitioner’s own mouth WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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he very nature of an insolvency practitioner’s work means there is nearly always someone who is dissatisfied by what they do. Be it a disgruntled creditor who doesn’t get his money back, or an individual who believes a director should have been jailed for the rest of his days, or a director who has to repay an overdrawn loan account. Do you see how it’s tricky to be seen as heroic here? A case in point is a law firm by whom John Harlow Insolvency were approached several years ago. They specialised in personal injury cases and a change in legislation had badly affected their business. There was considerable friction amongst the partners and they were struggling to pay their debts. “We were appointed as administrators of the LLP and managed to achieve a sale of the business to another firm of solicitors. An intervention by the Solicitors’ Regulation

Authority was thereby avoided, the partners were offered jobs with the purchaser and the sale consideration enabled all the creditors to be paid in full, with a surplus of funds returned to the original partners,” Insolvency Practitioner John Harlow explains. This is a good result, surely? Heroic even? “Well yes, of course it was,” he tells me. “However, the fractious partners then set about squabbling over the division of the surplus funds, each blaming the others for the failure of the business. “Did we get any thanks from the creditors who’d been paid in full, together with statutory interest? Well, I’ll leave that for you to figure out. Put it this way, though – the cape’s still in the wardrobe!” John laughed. If you need insolvency advice, call the cape-less crusaders on 0116 275 5021.

Fighting

finance fear W

Accountants aren’t very exciting hero types typically, but we all need one and where would you be without yours? WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

hile their craft might be known to be a bit on the dull side, we’d like to argue that accountants are unexpected heroes; they save businesses from going under. One accountant, Imran Sattar, Principal at AIMS Accountants, talked us through some of the times he’s rescued business owners. “Companies in their infancy, or those growing, can often be hit by big bills they weren’t aware of. The biggest expense they’ll see is tax hitting their profits. An accountant can minimise that impact through legitimate means so they’re able to drive that money into a better growth avenue,” Imran told me. Speaking to him, it’s clear Imran’s a softly spoken and down to earth professional. I imagine this kind of calm collectedness is exactly what you need when you’re in a panic over money. Imran makes sure his clients always deal with senior specialists, rather than being passed to the team once work is won. “I do this because accounting and tax needs to be a 56 | NICHE

personal service for us to maximise reliefs and allowances for our clients to be able to pay the least amount of tax. “Last week, I worked with a client who’d never explored what capital allowances they could get from their property. Another client recovered more than £60,000 through research and development tax credit. “One business owner – who was growing very quickly and really good at what he did but not so clued up on managing a business – lacked the right level of support from his previous accountant. He came over to AIMS Accountants and we improved his processes from record keeping all the way to numbers to feed his business coach for strategy setting. He benefitted from instant inferences from big financial movements, and we introduced many tax relief measures and a new company structure so that the family can make tax efficient withdrawals.” Fighting finance fears, Imran’s services can be found at aims.co.uk/imran-sattar.


Businesses

under the weather The UK weather can cause all sorts of disruption to businesses and their productivity. So, when the weather does its thing and you need a weathering hero – who you gonna call? WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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hen another winter maintenance company failed to deliver, local company Weatherwise stepped in and exceeded expectations. “A client, new to us, had previously entered into a contract with another winter maintenance company but they failed to deliver the necessary works to the site,” Tim, a weather faring expert tells me. “The first snow of the season kicked in and led to the closure of their site, costing them thousands of pounds in lost production for each hour it was closed. “Following a call for help, we had crews on site within 90 minutes to clear and make safe. An hour later, they were back up and running.” The client, delighted with the service and the rescue, was able to continue production, stay safe, and be compliant and able to quickly get on with the work in hand.

Moreover, they changed contracts there and then, signing an inclusive winter maintenance contract that resolved the uncertainty and prevented future closure. During the winter season, Weatherwise clients receive daily forecasts and reports allowing real-time decisions to be made on servicing their facilities. This ensures that the site remains safe for their staff, visitors, and contractors – and, all-importantly, open. “After such a tricky time for businesses – many of which have had to continuously stop and start due to the pandemic – having the right preventative measures in place to tackle the effects of the weather as we head into winter is crucial.” Of course, we can’t predict the weather 100%, but you don’t have to be at its mercy as a business. To get the right heroes on the job, visit weatherwiseservices.co.uk or call 0333 772 9525 to find out more.

The heart in

home hunting Moving home is one of the most stressful things you can do, but moving home amidst a breakup is at the top end of the stress scale. Hemi Tanna of Bitex Home loves her job the most when helping at this time WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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here’s plenty of administration involved in managing properties for landlords and housing tenants and Hemi Tanna, Bitex Home’s company director, knows them like the back of her hand. However, for her, the part of her job which brings her the most satisfaction isn’t the paperwork – it’s the people. “Simply put, I love to help people. Sometimes we have tenants who need to move due to relationship breakdowns. It’s not flashy or extreme, but I get so many needing to move who cannot find a house and so are sleeping on their ex’s sofa. It is mentally so difficult for

them and I want to help them to find a lovely house that their kids will love when they visit,” Hemi tells me. Of course, what’s also needed at this time is professional aptitude and Hemi’s professional efficiency makes the process even less painful. Turning around referencing within 24 hours means that tenants have their keys very quickly indeed. “I can have a tenant view on a Saturday and have them into their new home within three days. The relief for these people is huge during emotional upheaval. Especially after Christmas when they have stayed together over December for their children’s sake and then in January come to me and I can help them start the new year in a new home.” If you’ve been affected by a break up that’s affected your living situation, find out more about the help available to you at bitexhome.co.uk. NICHE | 57


Heroes

in feeling good Making the steps to change ourselves after years of disliking something about our appearance is emotional. Finding the right clinic can ease the process WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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ometimes as a practitioner, you just need to listen,” Zoe Darkins, Clinic Director and Senior Laser Aesthetics Practitioner at Inside-Out Laser Clinics tells me. “I remember a new client attending the clinic; she was exceptionally nervous and scared. I just sat and listened whilst she told me her story and unloaded her emotions. “By listening, understanding, and giving empathy and encouragement, I was able to help that client by attaining her trust and offering a reassuring smile and helping hand.” This ‘helping hand’ might appear to be part and parcel of the kind of service you would expect when receiving skin treatments or laser hair or tattoo removal, but in reality, not all practitioners are able to give such support. Yet when undergoing alterations to our appearances, no matter how big or small, we need the support for our self-esteem – it really can make all the difference to an experience.

Treatment centres aren’t always comfort zones for everyone, in fact they can often feel intimidating. Add to this the nerves that might be there at the start of a treatment journey and you have quite the melting pot of emotions. Quite often we will have built ourselves up to having a certain treatment and then when the time arrives apprehension sets in. “Our aim is to help clients regain their confidence and feel good from the Inside-out. We encourage and reassure our clients, and they always have our continued support.” Zoe adds. Whilst it might not appear to be a heroic move at first glance to offer a supportive ear or give advice which soothes, the results of these moves found at Inside-Out laser clinic can make all the difference to a person’s selfcare journey and, in my book, that’s pretty heroic. Call 0116 237 4444 for support in feeling good.

Healing without words When she couldn’t find the words, a birth trauma survivor who had no one to turn to found peace and understanding at this independent spa WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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eiki, a spiritual practice which works to release different energy blockages in the body without physical touch, is an ancient practice. It’s known to produce feelings of release, and a sense of clearing and grounding often unearthing hidden emotional trauma and pain. Hershey Champaneri, director at Aumspas, told me: “My client had had a traumatic birth experience which resulted in surgery. She couldn’t speak to anyone about her emotional pain and physically couldn’t let anyone touch her stomach or lower back. “I gave her a reiki treatment and very quickly she started getting very emotional. Afterwards she told me she hadn’t been able to even do that and the release of letting her emotions out in a safe space that I provided brought her a huge sense of relief and gratitude.”

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After the treatment, the client told Hershey what she saw during the reiki. Hershey said: “She had visions of the surgical procedure taking place, and that somehow, by seeing it for herself, she could come to a better place of acceptance about what had happened. I got emotional with her that first time. I could feel her pain with her.” The powerful responses and healing her clients go through as a result of treatment is what gives Hershey a sense of wellness. “I get a great deal of personal wellbeing when I know I am making a difference to someone else’s state of mind. No one remembers what you say, but people always remember how you made them feel.” See Hershey at aumspas.co.uk for a wide range of wellbeing spa and spiritual treatments.


SPECIAL FEATURE: NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES

Protecting against

cyber crime

Giga Ops saves the day with their heroic act of rescuing a business from a cyber-attack WORDS BY SIDDIQA REININGHAUS

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p to 88% of companies in the UK suffered data breaches in the last 12 months according to Carbon Black, and one in every 3,722 emails in the UK is a phishing attempt, reports Symantec. Anil Motivaras, managing director at Giga Ops, told me that even SMEs are not immune to cyber-attacks. “There’s a common misconception that SME owners think their business is too small to be targeted by cyber criminals and don’t think it’s important to invest in appropriate cyber security, backup, and recovery measures. Most businesses will spend a lot of money implementing double security locks on doors and sophisticated alarm and CCTV systems, but fail to secure and protect what is probably their most valuable and important asset –

company data.” Around 65,000 attempts are made to hack small to medium sized business every day, of which around 4,500 are successful, according to Hiscox. Anil told me about the time he rescued a client from a detrimental cyber-attack. “A manufacturing business became a victim – ransomware was used to hold all of the company’s data hostage for a £50,000 ransom. The ransomware attack locked out all of the company’s data on local servers and 90% of their desktops, which meant the business could not function. I’ve never seen a grown man fall to his knees in such despair and disbelief.” Anil spent an intense 83 hours over four days, rebuilding the client’s communication system and network as a first priority. He rescued the business

from complete failure with his resilient efforts in a matter of great urgency with such short notice. Companies like these don’t fall short in going above and beyond to help customers overcome incredible challenges. They may not necessarily shine in the spotlight as traditional superheroes, but behind computer screens, these IT professionals wear their capes as high as heroes. For more cyber security advice call Anil on 03300 101 098.

From struggle

to success GCSEs are the most important set of exams that affect your education decisions and potentially impact your university courses and future career prospects. Spark Academy inspires one struggling student to pursue a career in Physics WORDS BY SIDDIQA REININGHAUS

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tudying for any exam is stressful for all students. But can you imagine taking a crucial exam when English is not your first language, but third? Opshara, originally from Belgium, had failed her GCSEs during the pandemic and felt helpless. In September 2020, she sought educational support from Spark Academy, a tuition organisation, after seeing all her friends move on with life while she was left behind. “Her father was deeply upset as he was regretting the move to the UK due to the impact it had on his daughter’s education,” Mital Thanki, founder of Spark Academy, told us. “Both student and father felt incredibly relieved and grateful for the support received outside of what we normally offer.” The award-winning tuition company serves children across the UK via face-to-face and online, providing a combination of exciting learning methods, exam training,

and confidence building. With the advice and resources received from Spark Academy, Opshara quickly adjusted to the country’s curriculum. “There was a large language barrier and she was trying to learn how to communicate in English as well as sit her GCSEs in a completely foreign language to her,” explained Mital. Due to the examinations being cancelled yet again, head of operations Gemma Kirby allowed the student to sit her exams at Spark Academy, where they provided teacher assessed grades to the examination board, so Osphara could achieve her GCSEs much earlier than feared. It was this extraordinary service and mentoring provided by the academy which fuelled Opshara’s dream in pursuing a promising career in physics. Help your children pursue their career dreams and find out more at spark-academy.co.uk. NICHE | 59


The print room.indd 1

18/08/2021 11:28

Why print is good for us We explore why printing on paper may be good for our health, our businesses, and even the environment WORDS BY KERRY SMITH


NICHE COVER STORY

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gyptians first scribed on papyrus in 3000 BC. Paper has been on a whirlwind of a journey since then, especially after the takeover of computers threatened that ‘print was dead’. You can think again if you thought print would soon be a thing of the past. ‘The State of the Global Printing Industry 2018’ stated that paper use is increasing year on year and that the world uses around 400 million tonnes of the stuff annually. Design and print company bosses at Soar Valley Press say paper is essential to the survival of many businesses, especially post-pandemic, and that there are many misconceptions about the print industry. Soar Valley Press is not just a printing company, local and family-run, they offer design, brand development, branded merchandise and workwear, as well as advice and support to other local organisations. “We have diversified what we can offer in recent years, accelerated by the pandemic. But as we come out of it, the print side has really taken off as businesses return to meetings and events. It seems print is making a comeback,” said Chris Goodman, Managing Director at Soar Valley Press.

We’re a local family business and love to support other local businesses, which is also great for our carbon footprint Why print matters to businesses

Businesses either struggled to come through the pandemic, were born out of it, or sadly failed to survive. Whatever their owner’s next step is, it should include print, the Soar Valley bosses say. Business Development Manager Dave Goodman explained: “Print and digital go hand in hand; you’ve got to combine the two, because it takes seeing around 16 touchpoints before a customer finally buys into what you’re selling. “Social media is a crowded place, and it can be hard to get noticed; but with print, if you target your audience really well, you can be creative and reach people in a valuable way. Through print, you can entice people, make your business memorable. Print is something you can hold and keep, it’s nicer to read in print than on a screen, and the texture of print is definitely appreciated by people.” Chris added: “Thirty years ago you’d get a lot of junk mail through the letterbox, these days not so much. It’s actually quite nice to receive something in the post now.” A multichannel follow up from your digital touchpoints will achieve a better conversion rate, the pair tell us. Those printed touchpoints include stationery, leaflets and brochures, workwear, branded merchandise, and signage in and around your building. “Print is such a useful way to engage with your customers and build on your customer service. Customer service is key to what we do, so that we can make our design and print services stress-free and straightforward experiences for our clients. And we always treat them to a ‘thank you Freddo’ through the post. You can use this type of print and gift marketing to reach out to your clients too.” There certainly is something sweet about holding a

beautifully designed, quality print in your hand. The touch, smell, and even the sound of a freshly printed magazine, for instance, is undeniably satisfying. See where we’re going with this? While reading online is valuable, you just can’t beat reading in print.

Why print matters to the environment

“Print has a real success story when it comes to its environmental impact,” claims Chris. The UK recycles around 80% of paper, making it one of the most recycled materials in our corner of the world, according to recyclingbins.co.uk. One of the great things about paper? It grows on trees. Chris explained: “Trees are a renewable resource, they’re not something that we’re taking out of the ground that we can’t replace. In Europe, we have more trees and forestry than we’ve had since the industrial revolution, and we’re adding several football pitch sizes of trees every day.” Dave added: “There’s a misconception around the print industry that it’s not environmentally friendly. I don’t think it’s realised that forests in Europe are growing.” Chris and Dave are known locally for their efforts in taking care of the environment and the work they do to reduce their company’s carbon footprint. The team plants trees every year; working with the Woodland Trust, they made a move from presses that require a lot of sheets of paper to set up over to low-wastage digital print; they use vegetable-based inks and low-energy lighting, and they pioneered the way to electric vehicle usage. Chris and Dave switched their company cars to electric vehicles to achieve zero emissions six years ago. “We’re a local family business and love to support other local businesses, which is also great for our carbon footprint. It means we’re not travelling great distances to meet clients, and by using electric vehicles when staff do visit clients or make deliveries, we achieve zero emissions,” Chris told us. Producing paper is also good for our health, he believes. “Cutting down old trees and planting new ones is actually better, because it takes more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as younger trees need more Co2 to grow.” As Soar Valley Press says: ‘We’re all responsible for taking care of the environment’, which is why we chose them to print Niche Magazine. Go to soarvalleypress.co.uk for print marketing guides.

DESIGN + PRINT

Soar Valley Press

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NICHE BUSINESS

Marketing Forum

MAKE YOUR MARKETING MORE SUSTAINABLE SALLY SMITH Marketing Director at Cross Productions

PROMOTING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND With many professionals using online platforms such as social media, blogs and video promotion, now’s the time to think about what your personal brand says about you. Companies work hard to ensure their products and services are appealing to search engines for optimal results, and to attract new customers, but ultimately, people still buy from people. Think of Gordon Ramsey. He is known for his foul mouth. He doesn’t hold this character trait back and works it well to gather a large following. Richard Branson is known for being a forward-thinker who’s unafraid to share his opinions. He segregates himself and distinguishes himself as a thought leader, and one to follow. Find the person you love or are inspired by, and style yourself on them. It may feel strange, but many successful people have done it, using it as a psychological tool to get ahead. Many have even had alter egos. Take Beyonce, she presented us with Sasha Fierce; and Eminem – born Marshall Mathers – gave us Slim Shady. It’s OK to springboard your own brand from those who already exist, and the best ideas are often those pirated from something that already exists. Tips for self-promotion: ◆ Post your industry knowledge on social media to show you’re current and in-the-know ◆ Be active online and be seen as the face of the business ◆ Use images or – even better – videos of yourself in real life surroundings ◆ Share your passions and don’t be afraid to let your audience know who you really are. 62 | NICHE

Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are choosing more environmentally sustainable marketing methods to be kinder to our planet. Nearly one in three consumers have claimed to stop purchasing from certain brands because they had ethical concerns about them (Deloitte, 2020). And 88% of consumers said they would be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues (Forbes, 2018). Here are a few of our favourite eco-friendly marketing examples. Rethink your promotional products: Traditionally many promotional items are made from single-use plastics. Many promotional merchandise suppliers (like us) have now diversified to produce many eco-friendly alternatives. These sustainable promotional products go beyond simply getting your brand name out there and are items that your prospects will use time and time again. Greener mailings: Many sustainable advertising direct mail options can help you ensure your mailings are kinder to the planet. These eco-friendly

CHRIS GOODMAN Managing Director at Soar Valley Press advertising mail options include: ◆ Printing your communications onto sustainable paper. ◆ Printing on both sides of your sustainable direct mail postcards. ◆ If you use plastic coverings, look for wraps that are biodegradable. ◆ Use the correct envelopes – recycled envelopes and envelopes without plastic windows are better for the environment. ◆ Ensure your direct mail is targeted and regularly maintain your list to reduce print overruns. Partner up: Who you work with reflects on you and your business. By switching to greener print, you can help boost your business’ green credentials by ensuring ecofriendly processes are implemented throughout your organisation and its supply chain.

AUDIENCE SEGMENTATION REMY CLARKE Director at Cymer Marketing Solutions Watching the waves coming in at the Dorset coast as my sons attempt to jump over the breaks, they started reading the patterns… but always manage to get caught out sooner or later! It got me thinking about how we do this with business: patterns of seasonal buying behaviours, triggers caused by current affairs or large marketing campaigns to drive demand. Treating every wave as the same will see my boys drinking a lot of sea water – just like treating all your audience as the same. It’s hard to cater for every prospect and client, but with some simple audience segmentation,

you can increase the effectiveness of your marketing communications by tailoring your messages. Demographic data has been a regular feature in audience segmentation, but in today’s digital age, we are armed with so much more insight to target the channels that our audience is most likely to respond to, based on the type of devices they use to browse the web and much more. To utilise audience segmentation to its optimum, a good CRM platform will help collect the specified data and sort the audience into your specified groups (segments). This allows for the monitoring of communication patterns and buying behaviours, providing easier opportunity-spotting and quicker turnaround to make the most of them. Don’t close your eyes and hope for the best… start reading those ‘waves’ for more business opportunities.


Are people bouncing off your website? The top five reasons why your old website could be losing you sales, according to Sharon Lewin, owner of web design company Hive of Design

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nfortunately, just as your computer becomes outdated and behind the times with technology, your website does too. Changing technology, browsers and website user trends can all contribute to lost sales. Here’s the top five problems that could be causing your customers to bounce to a competitor, particularly if your website is more than three years old. Not only will the following cause problems when people do find your website, but because Google search hates most of these things too, it will stop potential customers finding you in the first place.

No opportunity to buy online Consumers are more demanding now than ever, so avoid losing sales by giving prospects the option to book something or commit to purchasing straight away, without talking to anyone. It’s not just B2C businesses that can sell online, B2B companies can benefit from improving their online sales process.

have visitors losing patience and going elsewhere. Is your website easy for you to update? If not, it’s likely you’ll be putting it at the bottom of your task list. Modern CMS (content management system) websites such as WordPress can easily be edited by yourself or your team.

Visitors can’t find what they want

Have you ever landed on a website and become irritated that you can’t find what you want? We’ve all been there. If it isn’t immediately obvious how you are the best company to solve their problem or deliver the product they want, you’ll lose their custom the moment you lose their interest.

BECAUSE GOOGLE SEARCH HATES MOST OF THESE THINGS TOO, IT WILL STOP POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS FINDING YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE

Not secure!

A few years ago, Google Chrome and other browsers decided to alert website users if they visit a website without an SSL certificate. It verifies ownership of a website and keeps data secure when someone fills in a form on your site. If your website doesn’t load with ‘https’ at the beginning, it’s easy to fix. Contact your web developer and ask them to add an SSL certificate. It doesn’t take long, so won’t cost too much. The increase in Google searches will provide a return on investment.

Not mobile friendly

If customers are having to pinch and zoom or scroll sideways to view your website, they’ll leave and find a site that they can read easily. Some of the earlier ‘mobile-friendly’ technologies are not actually that friendly, compared with the high-quality responsive website layouts available today.

Out of date content

Businesses change over time and, considering the challenges of the last 18 months, many business owners have been forced to diversify. If your website no longer accurately represents what you do, it certainly won’t generate the right enquiries. Are there broken links on your website that don’t lead anywhere? This will definitely NICHE | 63


PRODUCTION MANAGER MARK BROCKLEHURST, DESIGNER MINA SWEENEY, AND MANAGING PARTNER ADAM BURRAGE AT TRIDENT

Resuscitating your site with SEO

How to improve your content writing with this SEO guide to breathe life back into your website and search rankings WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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ou’ve probably put in a lot of hard work and invested a lot of time in writing blogs, social media posts, event information, and other web copy, haven’t you? Well, you might as well write up some text for their gravestones while you’re at it if you didn’t consider SEO in the making. Without search engine optimisation, the digital content you’ve created might never be seen by another living soul if it ends up on page 20, or even page two of a Google search. The word ‘content’ is splashed around a lot when talking about marketing, growth, target audience, etc. That’s because it’s so important in all those aspects of business, and many of you have, in one way or another, rightly resonated with this and set about creating content. But when it comes to talking SEO, content specialists at creative agency Trident often find people shut down, go to sleep, log out, and all other computer-related phrases suggesting their disengagement. For graphic design, web design, and digital marketing, Trident is award-winning, so they know a thing or two about creating content that survives Google’s algorithms. We asked Trident’s managing partner Adam Burrage about applying SEO to content creation. Here’s his handy guide. 64 | NICHE

What is SEO content? SEO content is content that is designed specifically with the aim of getting more traffic to your website. This can be product or landing pages, blog posts, how-to guides, videos, slide shows, and infographics. What are your goals? Firstly, think about your goals for SEO. Do you want more sales via your online shop, are you looking to get leads via a contact form or phone call, or are you looking for signups to grow your database? Know your topics Plan out your calendar for the content you’re going to write. Once you know the topics you’re going to cover, plan to write this over the coming months and make sure that it happens. Know your audience Before you start writing, think about who you are writing for and what your target audience might be looking for. Make sure that any content you’re writing is tailored to their needs.


NICHE FEATURE

Finalist

Without SEO optimisation, the digital content you’ve created might never be seen by another living soul if it ends up on page 20, or even page two of a Google search Think human, not search engine Make sure you are always writing for a human. The search engines are going to help a human find your page, so if it’s not written for a person, the user won’t engage with your company, product, or service. Besides, search engines are too clever now and recognise poorly written content that’s written with a computer in mind. Do your research Conduct keyword research and check there’s enough search volume for the terms you want to rank for. Turn questions into customers For blogs, use your keyword research and then try to answer questions around the types of topics you’re typically asked about, because people will be searching for those specific questions – and you can then get them to your website and turn them into customers. Be specific Try to be as specific as possible. This is really important. Search engines want to rank content that answers a specific query as closely as possible. If you’re selling trainers, you’re much more likely to rank for “men’s black lace-up Nike leather trainers” than just “men’s trainers”. Be more specific Come up with specific pages for each of your services,

don’t lump every service on one page. If you’re a solicitor, don’t cram all your legal services on one page, split them out across multiple pages as this will help you rank better. Get organised Organise the content on your site. It’s important your users can find the content, but also helps the search engines find it if it’s logically organised on your website. By having logical organisation, it can also mean you’re not competing with yourself for the same keyword – this is a common mistake we come across on sites we pick up with new clients. The good news is it can be fixed – and when it is, the ranking improves! Be consistent You’ll get more predictable results by consistently adding content rather than writing lots of content for one month and then nothing for five months. Plan your content calendar with what you can manage each month and stick to it. Involve your team too. Everyone is an expert, so get them writing content for your website on their area of expertise. Measure the results Keep checking that the content you’re writing is turning into increased traffic to your website and increased rankings for your key products and services. Find more guidance at wearetrident.co.uk/blog. NICHE | 65


SEO agency

It’s what we do

www.axies.digital


Finalist

What makes a story? What makes a good story? The question on every journalist’s lips ahead of a big article or broadcast. When a Niche journalist posed this question to a Pukaar journalist, their conversation was inspiring WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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s I call Romail Gulzar, journalist and broadcaster at media company Pukaar, he sounds busy, not that he hasn’t time for me, but busy all the same. It’s the Euro 2020 football final day and it’s about to be all hands-on deck. I can tell he’s excited, any journo would be, it’s a palpable feeling when you know one way or another there’s going to be a story of huge emotional impact. Anyway, I tell him, “We’ll make it speedy; I know what questions I need to get the right story!” He replies: “Good work Emily”, starting the conversation as he means to go on with several congratulatory remarks at my questions throughout. “What’s it like being a journalist in 2021?” I ask. Longish pause. Romail tells me: “With mobile phones in all our hands – everyone is a journalist these days. But it’s facts that I am interested in, getting to the truth of a story, and sharing it with community. Quality over quantity every time.”

He’s a facts person through and through, bringing a story to life is always the aim, but it’s got to be done right, in the right way. I ask him where the joy in journalism is for him. “I like people, I’m naturally inquisitive. I’m not motivated by money, or that idea of success. For me, success comes from doing what I do, where I am today. It doesn’t feel like work.” As an Immigrant from Pakistan, Romail came to the UK knowing only three words of the English language. “I started my life in the UK as a cleaner, where I gradually learnt bits and pieces of the language. But my career as a journalist was actually an accident!” Okay, ‘here’s the story’ I think to myself. “I was dropping my cousin off at South Leicestershire College and whilst I was waiting, I got handed an application form for the broadcasting journalism course. “I explained I couldn’t speak English and was told that because of equal opportunity they would

I LIKE PEOPLE, I’M NATURALLY INQUISITIVE. I’M NOT MOTIVATED BY MONEY, OR THAT IDEA OF SUCCESS. FOR ME SUCCESS COMES FROM DOING WHAT I DO, WHERE I AM TODAY. IT DOESN’T FEEL LIKE WORK

teach me, that I could enroll if my desire to learn and achieve was strong enough.” And so, he did. After graduating, he embarked on several different roles at high profile media groups before bringing his own stories to audiences through YouTube and Pukaar. “The people who helped me get to where I am today, I’m still friends with them, they helped give me opportunities to thrive and I’ll always be grateful for that! “Do you think you’ve got your story Emily?” He asks. My response: “You are the story for once Romail!” I discover he’s a foodie and a red wine lover and we close with an agreement at wine and food for next time, a couple of journalists talking about stories. “Perfect” he exclaims. Discover the stories as they happen at pukaarnews.com.

NICHE | 67


Promoting businesses with

visual branding products The ultimate marketing tool for brand building begins with visually appealing products WORDS BY SIDDIQA REININGHAUS

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ow many times have you bought a product based on its brand? The answer is probably countless. Many of us, including myself, are drawn to items that are visually appealing. Whether the product features a recognised brand or includes pretty packaging, consumers recollect on branded products and make assumptions about the company. Building or promoting a brand through its use of marketing products is an efficient way to target customers. That’s why visual branding is essential when it comes to promoting brands through everyday products. From everyday items like pens, mugs, bags, and more, having your brand at the centre of reusable products creates subtle yet innovative ways that can bring marketing campaigns to life. One company, in particular, Flotolove, realised the potential that

brand building should be an investment, not an expense. “If your branding is consistent and recognisable, it can help your customers feel more at ease when making purchases from your business as your logo or company motto will bring that recognition,” managing director, Samantha Green, told us. Flotolove’s creative team brings business brands alive through visible products which can be sent to prospective clients to generate more sales. Their inventive products range from bottles, clothing, to leisure and more practical items, making them ideal thank you gifts for customers as well as staff. “All of these little things generate recognition of your brand,” Samantha continued. “It helps people to remember your logo and it sticks in the mind of people when they think of your company.”

NOT CREATING ANY BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE?

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PEOPLE BUY FROM PEOPLE

Building your personal brand

Book by calling 0116 271 2573 or email marketingmadesimple@crossproductions.co.uk 68 | NICHE


NICHE FEATURE

First

impressions count and they start with your headshot How to look great in corporate headshots with tips from Hitz Rao Photography WORDS BY SIDDIQA REININGHAUS

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efore joining Niche magazine, I had never undergone a professional headshot (unless graduation pictures count). So, you can imagine my nerves when I was invited to Hitz Rao Photography Studio for a company headshot. However, upon entering the studio, Hitz welcomed me with an unexpected joke – he said he’d never heard of Cross Productions before! It left me speechless, what with my first-week nerves, whilst Hitz chuckled away. Cross Productions is the parent company of Niche magazine and Hitz is our resident photographer for all headshots and photoshoots. He’s been working with us since issue 34 of Niche and has shot 10 of our front covers, including this issue with Soar Valley Press as our cover stars. Find our back issues at nichemagazine.co.uk/backissues to see Hitz’s cover shots. I can see why Cross has developed such a close relationship with him – he’s fun, energetic, and is clearly passionate about helping small, local businesses look their best. My nerves began to disappear when he talked me through the essentials of corporate headshots which included various uses of lighting, posture, and postproduction editing.

At some point in your career, you will be asked to take a professional headshot. Whether it’s for your LinkedIn profile or company website, first impressions are important, especially in today’s age of social media and business networking. Many clients will often visit your online profile before they even meet you in person, so make sure your first impression counts with a corporate headshot.

What corporate headshots say about you and your business

A professional business headshot speaks volumes about your company. It gives your brand a human nature. When taking headshots, it’s important to consider the message your company is conveying to clients, as this could impact your business. For instance, a retail company may feature headshots with employees in their uniform, whereas a graphics design business owner might dress more casually. Portraits can help to make your brand look professional, casual, or even creative. It’s in these instances where looks do matter. Your professional photo can be the ideal marketing tool to attract clients to your business. If your headshot looks professional, your clients will take you seriously.

HE’S FUN, ENERGETIC, AND IS CLEARLY PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING SMALL, LOCAL BUSINESSES LOOK THEIR BEST

Hitz’ tips!

We’ll be working with Hitz in future issues to explain how he’s achieved certain shots for Leicester companies, and why he chose to portray them in such a way. This will become his regular space for the time being, so keep a look out for more photography tips from Hitz. Find more at hitzrao.com.

NICHE | 69


Full of

Energy How one company keeps up with the complexities and ever-changing policies and laws of the property industry

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ban on the purchase of natural gas boilers is expected by 2026 in favour of hydrogen. It’s part of the government’s race to reduce the use of fossil fuels and reach its net zero target by 2030. And, as of 2025, no gas boilers should be installed in new-build UK homes. But the conditions of the ban, and its dates, are changing frequently. Landlords and lettings agencies need to keep their eye on such regulations as it could cost thousands if they fail to meet criteria, and the switch from natural gas to hydrogen is something they’ll need to budget for. The gas boiler ban is a perfect recent example of how important it is to stay up to date in the property industry. But many laws and regulations are consistently being updated and altered and it can be hard to keep up. Gas, heating, and electrical industry specialist Sham Singh, Director at CRS, commented: “As with all industries, the gas and heating industry is evolving to tackle the challenges of climate change and reduce pressure on the world’s resources.” For busy landlords and agents, it can be near on impossible to juggle maintenance, repairs, customer services, inspections, admin, and all other related property activity. “Landlords and agencies still need to keep up with their legal responsibilities,” says Sham, who is continuously helping transform the industry for the better of people who 70 | NICHE

own and manage properties. Here’s how CRS works their magic.

Smooth operators

Multiple documents, such as gas safety certificates, are required for every property annually or upon change of tenancy. Sham reduces the stress for all parties with his services at CRS by sorting out all the paperwork and legalities. The team keeps up to date with changes in the industry, pursues new qualifications, flexes around the development of the national infrastructure and changing times, whilst adapting to the evolving ways in which people prefer to communicate. The upcoming redesign and re-release of service plans at CRS have also been made with landlords and agencies in mind, covering all of the legal bases with regard to gas and electric, and keeping landlords informed about any recommended work in their properties. It’s reduced admin for agents in terms of having engineers attend to issues through free diagnostic visits, improving the customer experience for tenants, and becoming an attractive USP for future tenants. “When clients pay monthly, they get all diagnostic visits, and mandatory certification at no extra charge. They must have all the safety certificates done annually anyway, and our monthly service offers great savings on that.” A typical example of an HMO (house of multiple occupancy) would require EICR, fire/smoke alarm testing,


NICHE FEATURE

The gas boiler ban is a perfect recent example of how important it is to stay up to date in the property industry emergency lighting testing, and a gas safety check, which CRS covers as well as all diagnostic visits from £12pm.

The industry’s communication issues

“For any given rental agent, most of their admin comes down to property defects,” Sham told me. “The tenant calls the agent, the agent calls the landlord, the landlord has to think about it, and they eventually get in touch with us. Things can deteriorate in that time. “We’re quick and reactive, but that’s because of our systems and processes allowing us that fluidity of service. To strengthen communication further, CRS Electrical was launched this year. CRS Gas & Heating specialises in services, breakdowns, repairs, and maintenance, but often find that problems in properties are caused by electrics. “An agency might send out an electrician to have a look at the immersion heater but they then have to pass it to us because they get to a stage where they can’t continue the work as their knowledge isn’t based in gas and heating. So, we created CRS Electrical to save clients’ money, they’re not having two lots of charges from two different companies, and two diagnostic charges.”

A new level of customer care

There is an importance in treating tenants as the customers, despite them not being the bill-payers. Service providers are operating in their homes and should respect them as such. As well as that, Sham says they are

representing their customers (landlords and agents) as part of their service provision. “This call comes down to good infrastructure. The tenant needs to be well informed at all times. Sometimes the tenant might not be in so they don’t even know what work we’ve done in their home,” Sham explained. Tenants get an Uber-style tracking service notifying engineers’ time of arrival and receive a full report of the work carried out, which is all handled by CRS’s automated systems. “Those systems and processes allow our engineers on the front line to do the best possible job, the landlord and agency to be fully informed, and the tenant to be happy and stress-free.” A new 24/7 engineer advice app is currently being tested by CRS. It provides an out-of-hours service with video call convenience. Out-of-hours services can normally cost up to two times the average rate, but with the app, landlords and agencies will only pay an average of £15. On how it works, Sham explained: “Not all problems wait for a convenient time to surface. If a tenant needs help at 02:30, who do they turn to if they need someone to advise? They can video call us with their emergency and we can tell them where to find their stop taps, gas meter, fuse board, and more because we’ll have all that information at the tip of our fingers. “Pass us your stresses and strains, and let’s see if we can’t shoulder the burden better, together.” Call CRS on 0116 262 5788 for help and advice. NICHE | 71


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Are you worried about breast cancer? Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital offers a rapid access breast clinic so you can get the support you need, quickly.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, affecting almost 55,000 women and approximately 390 men each year. However, a lump is not necessarily a sign that you have breast cancer. Roughly 80%* of lumps in a woman’s breast is caused by benign noncancerous changes, cysts, or other conditions. If you find a lump, don’t panic – but you should have it checked just to be sure.

Breast cancer myths

At Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital, we understand that if you notice a change to your breasts that you will want answers quickly. That’s why we have developed our – Weekly Rapid Access Breast Clinic.

If you’re at risk for breast cancer, there’s little you can do but watch for the signs There is a lot that a woman can do to lower their risk, including maintaining a normal healthy weight, regular exercise, lowering alcohol consumption, not smoking and examining their breasts regularly.

There are many myths about breast cancer and sometimes hard to tell fact from fiction: Most breast lumps are cancerous A lump is not necessarily a sign that you have cancer. Roughly 80% of lumps in women’s breasts are non-cancerous. Breast cancer always comes in the form of a lump Many women examining their breast incorrectly believe they should be looking exclusively for lumps. There are other changes to look out for such as changes in the breast skin, swelling, skin irritation or dimpling.

*Source Breast Cancer UK

Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 1HY Call us on 0116 2982 612 or visit nuffieldhealth.com/hospitals/leicester

For more information about breast care and how we can help please visit nuffieldhealth.com/article/breast-cancer-myths-busted or call us on 0116 2982 612 to book into our Rapid Access Breast Clinic today.


MISS MONIKA KAUSHIK

MR JAROSLAW KRUPA

MR SIMON PILGRIM

Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon

Consultant Breast Surgeon

Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon

Our breast clinics are led by one of our Consultant Breast Surgeons and are supported by a team of specialist breast care nurses and radiographers. To aid diagnostics and treatment Nuffield Health Leicester Hospital is equipped with the latest digital mammography and reporting equipment, and in November 2017 we were delighted to announce the further investment in a “Sentinel Node Biopsy Machine” to enhance our services and to improve treatment for our patients.

Sentinel nodes are the first nodes that may be subject to the spread of cancer of the breast. This investment in the biopsy equipment will allow us to find the sentinel node (nodes) during breast cancer surgery to check for the spread of cancer and help with decision making for further treatment. We are also now offering a new technique of treating Impalpable breast cancer like Magseed.”

Join us at one of our FREE online events These open events are for anyone who is concerned about their breasts or is considering breast surgery and would like to explore their options for private treatment. You will receive a complimentary mini virtual 1-2-1 chat with an expert surgeon on the types of treatment available and what to consider if you’re thinking about treatment. This is a free event that will be held virtually using Microsoft Teams.

MISS MONIKA KAUSHIK Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon, specialising in breast cancer.

The Rapid Access Breast Clinic is held weekly. There is no need to wait, contact us today on 0116 2982 612 for our next available appointment.

For dates, times and to book your space, please call 0116 2982 612 or visit nuffieldhealth.com/hospitals/events


A WORD OF ADVICE…

Health is not finite. There’s no start, middle, and end. Look at your health as an infinite element that’s constantly changing and adapting with your lifestyle; this will help you stay focused on your health journey.

The first steps to

confidence A Leicester gym has teamed up with a mindset coach to create the city’s first new-concept gym of its kind WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

A

brand-new ‘yin and yang’ concept gym is coming to Leicester’s city centre this year. UFit Studio, previously in Humberstone Road, moved to Vaughan Way in August. Two sister buildings will sit side by side, one promoting healthy minds, the other promoting healthy bodies. Because, ultimately, you can’t have one without the other. “A gym is often the first place people go to gain confidence,” says UFit Director Sam Hanney, 33, from Syston. He’s been running the gym since 2016 and has been through every high and low with each of his clients. He’s seen how physical health affects mental wellbeing, and the other way around. Physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand, so he’s teamed up with a mindset coach for the UFit revamp. The UFit Wellness Centre on the left will be the yin to the UFit gym’s yang on the right, operating as interconnecting, complementary forces.

MINDFULNESS at the UFit Wellness Centre

Most people go to a counsellor because they’re unhappy in one way or another. “Feelings are at the centre of our lives,” says Stefan Dziewanowski, a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) master practitioner. 76 | NICHE

“It’s really useful to remember that all our feelings have a purpose. Whatever we’re feeling, there’s value in that. If we’re experiencing anger or frustration, that generally tells us that a value of ours isn’t being honoured, by ourselves or someone else. Having said that, when it all gets too much, that’s when people come to see me.” Stefan, 50, has been a personal wellness coach for over 12 years offering NLP and hypnotherapy. Seven years ago, he worked with the personal trainers at UFit to help them better understand people’s emotional states. Since then, he’s worked with UFit members who have experienced trauma, injury and disability, and daily life stresses. “People seek transformation for lots of reasons. Everyone is on a unique journey with their own motivations. Personal trainers have to connect with that and give that level of attention to be successful.” After seeing the impact that wellness coaching had on UFit members, Sam asked Stefan to team up. Stefan will be running the UFit Wellness Centre. Leading yoga instructor, Anne-Marie Newland, who is based in Leicester, has taught all over the world, and runs sun-power-yoga.co.uk, will also join the Wellness Centre. She’ll lead yoga, Pilates, mindfulness, and relaxation classes for adults and children.


NICHE FEATURE

A WORD OF ADVICE…

For every negative thought, think of three positive ones. Positive thoughts can be as simple as being grateful for the roof over your head. This will gradually change your outlook on life.

Physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand, so he’s teamed up with a mindset coach for the UFit revamp Wellness coaching and seminars will also be available as well as masterclasses and retreats to support emotional wellness, nutrition, and balanced lifestyles. It will be open to members and non-members of the gym. The UFit Wellness Centre is expected to open on November 1.

SELF-ESTEEM at the UFit Gym

Sam has noticed a decline in the public’s health over the years. He explained: “There are now a lot more people who can’t move with knee pains, high blood pressure, diabetes, and 20-year-olds who don’t eat vegetables! And cooking skills are slowly disappearing in youngsters. “Social media ties in with confidence, telling you how you’re supposed to look, but there are insecurities behind all those photos. Lack of skills and confidence can lead to low self-esteem. There needed to be a facility to cater for all of it. “The gym is often the first step to change for people, whether it’s because they want to look better in photos, fit into clothes, move better, or play sport better, the gym becomes a catalyst in that.” The average age of UFit members is 42, and 78% of all members are women. “They’re rediscovering themselves in order to live the second period of their lives. Around this

age is when most start to want a new lease of life with new-found confidence. “I think gyms could do a lot more to help people with this. At big commercial gyms, it’s all about attracting people with features, the latest equipment and so on. But to my clientele, a kettlebell is a kettlebell, you know? It’s what that client wants to achieve with it that means more.” There’s a massive gap in the market for a gym that encompasses both mental and physical wellness, Sam believes, and it all comes down to customer service to promote confidence in gym members. “Lately, we’re all just accepting whatever customer service is given. But, especially with gyms, which are often the first place people come to gain confidence, customer service has to be there. “Rather than catering to the masses, we personalise each journey, which can’t be templated. We only exist because of our members, they become the centre of our universe.” New UFit members receive regular one-to-ones, exceptional levels of support and care, and access to advice directly from Sam, Stefan, Anne-Marie and the team. The new UFit site is now open. Find out more at ufitstudio.co.uk. NICHE | 77


The smell of success:

sweet or sour? Running a successful business takes a lot of hard work to get to the ‘successful’ part. But is the journey worth it? WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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ntrepreneur Abbie Dattani has experienced some serious highs and some definite lows involving tears in the kitchen at 2am. The busy mum of four could never have predicted how her company would evolve in such a short space of time to incorporate over 100 products. “There were times when it all got a bit much. Some days I was working until 2am and I kind of lost sight of the reasons why I started the company in the first place. “It’s challenging starting a business and the speed of the success of the company was overwhelming at times. I often experienced the feeling of imposter syndrome – I just couldn’t believe how much I was achieving,” Abbie comments. Fast forward 18 months and her company Louise Rose Aromas is receiving countless award nominations, has hired a small workforce, been featured in the small boutique business section of Vogue magazine, and is developing new products to meet customer demand.

Adapting to client demand involved branching out to providing hand sanitiser – a result of setting up during a global pandemic. One particular dabble with an unnamed brand led Abbie to the drawing table. “I was a little delicate after one too many drinks the night before, and when I went to use a hand sanitiser it was rather too close to the smell of tequila and that was it – I developed a Louise Rose Aroma hand sanitiser that was safe for delicate heads,” Abbie laughed. Products are eco-friendly, using non-toxic ingredients and customers are coming back time and time again, to the amazement of Abbie. “Our customers make everything worth it, all the blood sweat and tears. It’s definitely been worth everything I have put into it; I don’t regret a thing. “My advice to anyone doubting their ability for setting up alone is to just do it, don’t take time for granted, life is short. Oh, and don’t stress over the small things, I worried about far too much!” Find out more about Abbie’s story at louiserosearomas.co.uk.

CELEBRATING THEIR APPEARANCE IN VOGUE AND BEING A FINALIST IN THE NICHE BUSINESS AWARDS 2021 AT ORTON’S BRASSERIE 78 | NICHE

Finalist


NICHE FEATURE

Promoting your

beauty business

A flurry of start-up companies were born in lockdown, many of them beauty businesses, but will they survive the first year? WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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ata produced by O2 found that 2,646 hairdressing and beauty companies were incorporated in the UK in 2020 – and that was just between March and June. Unfortunately, around 20% of start-ups are dissolved in their first year, according to Fundsquire. The most common reasons for this seem to be a lack of understanding of the market, insufficient planning, and going on to employing people who aren’t right for their small business. One small beauty business owner who defeated that firstyear curse was beauty marketing coach Jenna Leigh, owner of JL Mentor. She’s concerned that beauty business owners will invest in their craft, but not how to run a business. She said: “People fear setting up their own business or growing it because they don’t know where to start. They might feel lost, overwhelmed or have no structure.” Jenna started up her own permanent makeup business six years ago. “I was a quitter,” she confessed. “By the time I was 31 I’d had over 20 jobs. I just always knew in my stomach that I wanted to work for myself. I always followed my instincts and I hope I can inspire people with that.” Working full-time and running

a mobile beauty business in the evenings and at weekends whilst pregnant, and fitting in rehearsals twice a week for musicals she was involved in wasn’t easy. She then set up a training academy, teaching people her beauty skills. It hit a six-figure turnover in its first year, she told me. “In lockdown, I went on to teach anyone in the beauty, permanent makeup or aesthetics industry to learn how to scale their business to success. I then set up JL Mentor, because I realised you’re not taught how to make money. You’re taught the skill, but nothing around running a business.” Jenna sold half of her original beauty business after the coaching took off. “I didn’t want to hire a manager who didn’t care about the business. By selling half of it, I pull the strings and generate income while my business partner runs the day-to-day operations.” JL Mentor’s first Academy Builder Programme launched in January, helping others set up beauty training academies. Some of Jenna’s programmes are selfstudy based with weekly meetings and others are structured, setlearning courses helping business owners define their ideal client, understand sales and marketing, and create content that resonates. “We invest our money into

PEOPLE FEAR SETTING UP THEIR OWN BUSINESS OR GROWING IT BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START

skills, but not into the sales and marketing side of business. Having a coach is an investment and to make money, you need to invest money and have financial intelligence.” Business owners new to the beauty industry, or those who need some guidance as they grow, can book a free call with Jenna to go over plans and gain honest feedback with no obligation – Jenna just loves to help. Go to jlmentor.co.uk to book. Check Jenna’s Facebook page @PMUMarketingMentor for masterclasses and free social media resources.

NICHE | 79


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

The best eating establishments in Leicestershire NATHAN SMITH

BARCELONETA

Wealth Management Consultant at Mattioli Woods.

One of my all-time favourite restaurants is Barceloneta, a family-run, traditional Spanish tapas bar and restaurant in the lively Clarendon Park in Queens Road, Leicester. If you cannot wait to get back on holiday and are looking for somewhere unique to get together with friends and family, for breakfast, brunch, or drinks and traditional Spanish tapas in the evening, Barceloneta is the place. As soon as you walk through the door, it’s like stepping into Spain, with its authentic look, feel and the smell of incredible traditional Spanish food, as well as Mediterranean and North African dishes. As a small family-run business, Barceloneta was impacted hard by the pandemic having to close

JAYNE STEPHENSON

DINE INDIA foodhalo.co.uk/dineindia 0116 277 8777 62 MAIN ST, COUNTESTHORPE, LEICESTER LE8 5QX

Company Directer at Vehichle Consulting Leicester

80 | NICHE

barcelonetarestaurant.co.uk 0116 270 8408 54 QUEENS RD, CLARENDON PARK, LEICESTER LE2 1TU

There are numerous great Indian restaurants in the area but our favourite by far is Dine India in Countesthorpe. It opened in 1999 and I have been going there regularly since. I lived in Narborough when they opened but was more than happy to travel, we now live five minutes away, almost too close as tempted to go there more than we should! Not good for the waistline. It’s run by Naz and Jimmy and their team who all go out of their way to make you feel welcome. They offer a wonderful, varied menu including the traditional favourites plus numerous specialities. They serve a Sunday buffet which offers great value if you

for much of the last year and so the two brothers who owned it, Andy and John Hussai, decided to sell. It was purchased by Kodak Hospitality. The new owners will no doubt have great confidence in continuing to serve amazing traditional cuisine in the heart of our city having had Andy and John successfully running it for over 30 years alongside the popular 1940s Cuban American-style Bar Dos Hermanos meaning Two Brothers’ Bar. My go-to dishes are, patatas bravas, chorizo and cured meats, breaded brie, chunky chips with red Leicester cheese, and Spanish paprika calamari. They also serve a variety of vegetarian dishes, which makes it an all-round five-star restaurant from me.

fancy a change from a roast dinner. Our favourite dishes are poppadoms, onion bhajis, duck chilli, king prawn purée, chicken rezala, chicken shashlik (dry) and lamb bahar. Their food is locally sourced and always cooked fresh. The quality of the chicken is especially good, we asked about it once and were told they only buy the highest quality with a very low water content, you really can taste the difference. Their king prawns are also excellent. The chefs are really flexible and will adjust the strength of a dish to suit. On a spice level, I would say they are true to what you expect. The restaurant seats 90 and is fully licenced.


LEVITHA BIJI Editorial Associate Intern at Cross Productions

JON READ Lead Generation Consultant at Cross Productions

CHARLOTTE MILES Lead Generation Consultant at Cross Productions

KAYAL

KAYALRESTAURANT.COM 0116 255 4667 153 GRANBY STREET, LEICESTER LE1 6FE If you love seafood and Indian cuisine, then Kayal is for you. It is not often that you find authentic Indian food everywhere. But being South Indian and having tried dishes from Kayal, I must say that it tastes homemade and is as real as it gets! Kayal is all about tradition, quality, discoveries, fresh ingredients, and aromas. The award-winning restaurant was very quick on its feet during the pandemic and created an outdoor dining experience on the second floor. It is extremely cosy and aesthetically furnished with an outside bar as well with a great ambience. When it comes to the food, healthy dishes are guaranteed, as they have won

the ‘healthiest restaurant award’ and was voted as the Top10 Indian restaurant of the country by ‘The Times’ in 2008. I ordered the Tilapia Pollichathu (full) with Kallappam and lemon rice, which was recommended by the chef. The fish was full of flavour and little spice, so tender that it was falling off the bones! All their portion sizes are big enough to share between two people, so we were able to try more dishes, which was also affordable! ‘Athidhi Devo Bhava’ – which in Sanskrit means Guest is God, and that is the motto of Kayal army – the restaurant team in different areas of the country – and they try everything possible to live up to it.

THE OLD BULLS HEAD theoldbullshead.co.uk

01509 890 255 134 MAIN STREET, LOUGHBOROUGH LE12 8RZ My wife and I often treat ourselves to a trip to The Old Bulls Head every couple of months for our date night and it never disappoints! Set at the bottom of Beacon Hill, the pub offers a wide variety of great food and drink. The bar is very classy with a great selection of beers and wines plus an extensive collection of gins (much to my wife’s delight). When you walk through the restaurant, you’ll find that the pub offers everything from the classic pub grub, to something a little different that’s inspired by modern British cuisines with Mediterranean flourishes. I, personally, love a good steak and I have never had a bad one in all

my visits to the Old Bulls Head. The restaurant is accommodating and caters to vegan diets with their plant based menus, so there’s definitely something for everyone to enjoy! Their Sunday roast dinners are nothing short of superb. From Yorkshire puddings to fluffy roasted potatoes and fresh veg, their team of chefs put together light bites as well as hearty meals. The team who run the pub are friendly, efficient, and nothing is too much trouble. I can’t recommend this place enough! If you’re dining out for a special occasion, or going out to eat as a family, this pub has got to be the place to go!

SONRISA

SONRISA.UK 0116 262 8455 4 ST MARTINS, LEICESTER LE1 5DB It feels like forever since I’ve been into the city centre for dinner and it was nice to be spoilt for choice. On this occasion, I wanted to treat my mum for a long overdue, mid-week treat so, we tried the new Sonrisa. I love the building and was a regular when it was formerly Deliah Fine Foods. Iwas hoping someone would see its potential and bring it back to life – they’ve done us proud. Upon walking in, we were greeted with an Argentinian buzz. We ordered lots of tapas dishes starting with Gordal Olives which had a nice little kick as they were stuffed with Guindilla chillies and calamari, Red Pepper Empanada and Pan Con Tomato

which is a favourite of mine. The second round of dishes consisted of green beans in a tomato concasse with garlic and pine nuts, Duroc pork belly that came with a delicious apricot chimichurri and Garbanzos, slow-cooked spinach and chickpeas with crushed Valencia almonds. The flavours and crunch made this dish one of the highlights of the meal. We saw a plate heading to the table next to us and decided to order it… oh my, was it worth it. Fried potatoes slathered in truffle mayonnaise, black pepper and parmesan… delicious! We shared an orange polenta cake served with a blood orange sorbet and fresh orange segments for pudding. NICHE | 81


Historic venue gets a facelift When hospitality locked down, Leicester’s City Rooms was given a new lease of life thanks to a complete renovation of the Grade I listed building. The paint’s still fresh, but Director Kiran Parmar tells us they are back and excited WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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ospitality was one of the sectors hardest hit during the lockdowns of the pandemic – and for events and boutique hotel The City Rooms, it came at a time when the venue was thriving. However, being resourceful and adaptable, Director Kiran Parmar and team set about giving the luxury venue a welcome facelift. “We wanted to refresh every room and clean the entire façade and the time we were closed provided the ideal opportunity to do all the things we had wanted to do but were restricted to do before,” he said. The refurbishment – including the addition of plenty of greenery, luxury light fittings, and soft furnishings as well as a 200-year overdue freshen up of the outside grand façade – has meant that the doors are not only reopen but reopening in style. “We wanted to ensure that the refurbishment was fitting for the historical building, but so that it also felt like a fresh start too.

82 | NICHE

“It has always been a glamorous place to gather, so we have kept that luxury but with a contemporary feel. We are really happy with how it looks and can’t wait for everyone to see it and enjoy it for themselves,” Kiran told us. As the historic doors open once more with a new look and a new lease of life, the timing couldn’t be more fitting with gatherings back in full swing. The luxury boutique venue, which was built in 1792, has four bedrooms for guests and a grand ballroom which spans the whole first floor – and the nine-metre-high ceilings give any event the wow factor. Seating up to 200 guests, it can be used for a wedding ceremony, wedding breakfast and reception, giving an intimate feel to the day. Corporate events can be held in a similar way and, as people come together again, the venue provides a city centre destination for attendees from across the UK. In addition to the ballroom,

IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A GLAMOROUS PLACE TO GATHER, SO WE HAVE KEPT THAT LUXURY BUT WITH A CONTEMPORARY FEEL

there are sophisticated bar areas as well as two further suites and a dining room for more intimate gatherings. “Our event co-ordinators are experienced and passionate about being able to get back to doing the work that they love and can accommodate a flexible arrangement for any event or celebration. “The City Rooms has come back to life and all the hard work we have put into the touches that make all the difference has made us excited for guests to enjoy the building once again,” Kiran closes. Experience the stunning makeover as life’s events start again at The City Rooms, find out more at thecityrooms.co.uk.


NICHE FEATURE

Orton’s Brasserie introduces

Brunch:LIVE

Lazy Sundays just got a whole lot more interesting WORDS BY SIDDIQA REININGHAUS

D

ining out is an escape from cooking at home, especially on a lazy Sunday afternoon. What better way to experience dining than with live entertainment to finish off the weekend? Orton’s Brasserie, named after Leicester’s famous playwright Joe Orton, launched their Brunch: LIVE events and menu last month, which alters in concept each week. The restaurant’s decor pays homage to the Leicesterborn writer with its daring and darkly inspired art. In fact, upon passing the restaurant, visitors may feel overawed by the branding on the windows – the image of a gorilla with a lowered head and a red rose. Nevertheless, it provokes curiosity and dark humour, which were important themes explored in Joe Orton’s scandalous plays. Orton’s is developing its own motifs with their unique themes every Sunday. The first Brunch: LIVE event took place in August, it was reggae in theme, with former UB40 tribute band frontman Ross Lydon performing a live acoustic session. The chef is far from shy when it comes to assembling

picturesque plates of food. The initial brunch adapted the menu to include traditional dishes of rice and peas, and turned Orton’s chicken and waffles to jerk chicken, catering towards the urban reggae cuisine. Last month, another Orton’s Sunday brunch hosted a jazz afternoon with pianist Steve Sherrif, followed the next weekend by a country and western theme with guitarist and vocalist Steve O’ Connor. Similarly to the playwright’s unconventional work, the restaurant has a few secrets of its own. Orton’s mysterious staircase leads to an underground bar. Joe’s Bar will bring live music, comedy, and cabaret acts curated for audiences by Orton’s Live. Joe’s Bar can be hired for private events, ideal for gatherings such as birthdays and anniversaries where guests can enjoy an intimate dinner upstairs and dance the evening away with private entertainment downstairs. Watch out on Orton’s Facebook and Instagram pages announcing the themes and performers each week at Brunch: LIVE. Brunch: LIVE takes place every Sunday from 11am to 3pm, with performances taking place from 12pm to 2pm.

WHAT BETTER WAY TO EXPERIENCE DINING THAN WITH LIVE ENTERTAINMENT TO FINISH OFF THE WEEKEND?

NICHE | 83


Join us at our two locations: 21 Leicester Road, Blaby, LE8 4GR Everards Meadows, Cooper Way, LE19 2AN Find us on social media: @jennoscoffee

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NICHE FEATURE

Expect more on your plate

Food is more than something which sustains us; it’s social, it’s celebratory, and sometimes it’s joy. Speaking with Masterchef semi-finalist and restauranteur Stacey Ward, we discover the passion behind the plate WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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estaurants providing good food to diners isn’t new, and yet reinventing the foodie wheel isn’t an easy task either. Creating good food at an OK price is the standard we should expect – but more often than not, it’s not really what we are getting. Why shouldn’t we expect more from our dining experiences here in Leicester? “What I want to do with the food I make and serve at Fourwards is to go beyond the standard,” Stacey Ward, Chef at Fourwards restaurant in Earl Shilton, told me. “To create something that surpasses what diners would expect from a

WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH THE FOOD I MAKE AND SERVE AT FOURWARDS IS TO GO BEYOND THE STANDARD

meal experience in a village in Leicestershire.” Chef Stacey has loved cooking from the tender age of ten, and for her it’s more than a job, it’s a passion. “I couldn’t do anything else. I have found joy in cooking ever since I can remember. I remember going to college and just thinking: ‘Wow! There’s so much possibility with food.’ The award winning Fourwards is owned by Stacey and her husband Adam. They are bringing daily menu changes using at least 70% of the produce grown by Adam’s grandad on his allotment. With a strong and supportive

Semi-Finalist

team behind them, Stacey remarks on their closeness after a tough year for the hospitality industry. “Our team is so close. We support one another in lots of ways and it’s so important in kitchens where things can get heated that we all come together at the end of a shift. It’s a buzz working in a kitchen, that’s for sure, and it’s a buzz which is better shared.” The setting is important too, as Stacey elaborates: “If you go for a meal, spend money on it, and perhaps get taxis to and from the restaurant, I want to feel like it was all worth it, that it was a social, special experience they savoured and will remember. If I can do that, I know I’m doing something good with my day.” Having got to the semi-finals on BBC’s Masterchef, she isn’t one to shy away from dishes and dining experiences with food that steps outside of comfort zones, but all of it is done in such a way so as not to move away from simple, good cooking in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. With the addition of a new private dining room serviced by its own menu and staff, and further refurbishments to the building, the rest of 2021 looks brighter. “We are raring to go, the whole team are ready now – really, really ready!” Bringing their unique, ‘London-quality’ dining to Earl Shilton and beyond, Fourwards looks set to continue to cause quite a stir across the county where a passion for what’s on your plate reigns supreme. Call 01455 841 556 to book. NICHE | 85


Leicestershire

on the Foodie Map Anyone noticed the crop of exciting new restaurants and bars opening up here in Leicestershire? Here is a handful of our favourites WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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o many enticing cafés, bars, and restaurants have been making their way into my social media feeds. With lockdown holding me back, I’ve been eager to try them out. It’s fitting that BID Leicester’s first Restaurant Week is launching this October as well, which will bring some amazing food and drink deals to the city centre as well as a focus on what we have to offer. Restaurant Week has certainly got us excited for some of the fine eateries we have right on our doorstep.

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his entertainment chain finally came to Leicester just before lockdown. Lane 7 is where bowling takes on a whole new cool image with a vibrant mix of modern dining and cool drinks and a bit of sporting spice for anyone who wants it. Ten-pin bowling, ping-pong, beer pong, pool, and even Karaoke for those superstar voices screaming to get out, Lane 7 is already one of the coolest hang-outs in town. lane7.co.uk Great Central St, Leicester, LE1 4JT

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his adorable café nestled in South Wigston, Leicester has been serving breakfast and lunch since 2009 but with the exciting new Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening Tapas menu launching just recently, the café has turned into a restaurant attracting diners from far and wide. It’s unexpected for this outskirts town. Social, relaxing food fayre here in an intimate and welcoming atmosphere and we are down for it. treehousebistro.co.uk Blaby Road, Leicester, Le18 4PA


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hen in Sonrisa, you could be forgiven for imagining that you are in Buenos Aires! Doesn’t sound too bad does it? Especially with holidays being so complicated these days. A modern café-bar haunt which is perfect for all that socialising we’ve missed out on, Sonrisa is an ideal place to kick back with a cocktail and dine on Argentinian delights. sonrisa.uk St Martins, Leicester LE1 5DB

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ike a cocktail? And the colour pink? Both at the same time? If you do, you’re in luck with the addition of Audrey’s to the city! The new St Nicholas Place bar is wonderfully Instagrammable and with a food menu launching soon it’s the ideal location for a gathering with friends. A picture with the flamingo anyone…? audreybar.co.uk St Nicholas Place, Leicester, LE1 4LD

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frikana offers food, culture, music and artwork with an African influence. The vibrant atmosphere makes for a fun and social night out where good food and good vibes are centre of attention. The food is perfectly spiced and the music transportative! afrikanakitchen.com Charles street, Leicester, LE1 1LB


AWARD WINNING GOURMET DINING IN THE HEART OF THE CULTUAL QUARTER 41 Halford Street | Leicester | LE1 1TR | 0116 251 1889 Mon - Sat: 12 :00pm - 2 :00pm and 5:00pm - 10:30pm

Sun: 5:00pm - 10:00pm


PHOTOGRAPHY MARC BRENNER

NICHE FEATURE

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof A touring theatre co-production by Made At Curve, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and English Touring Theatre

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n a sweltering Mississippi night, the lies are as stifling as the heat,’ starts the synopsis of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This collaborative production directed by Anthony Almeida will be performed at Curve from September 3-18 before touring across England and Wales. Almeida is the winner of the 2019 Royal Theatrical Support Trust (RTST) Sir Peter Hall Director Award. The production is also supported by grant funding from the RTST. Almeida said: “Medea, Hamlet, Hedda Gabler – throughout stage history, a singular heavyweight part headlines our greatest plays. But in his typical swagger, Tennessee Williams tore up the rules – he wrote not just one, but four colossal, enigmatic roles. It’s going to be dynamite to witness these talented actors go headto-head onstage. This entire cast are electric. I’m excited for us to begin rehearsals.” The synopsis continues: “Maggie has fought up from poverty, only to find herself in a passionless, burning marriage. Her husband Brick Pollitt, a former pro footballer, drinks to drown out the hurt he has bottled

up inside.” Siena Kelly, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in Channel 4’s Adult Material at this year’s BAFTAs, will play the role of Maggie. Oliver Johnstone (All My Sons, Old Vic; SkyFall, Eon Productions) will play Maggie’s distant and troubled husband Brick. Teresa Banham (The Crown, Netflix; Robin Hood, BBC) will appear as Big Mama and Peter Forbes (Follies, National Theatre; Judy, Pathé) will play Big Daddy, the Pollitt family’s vivid patriarch. Joining the cast as Gooper and his wife Mae are Sam Alexander (The Watsons, Chichester Festival Theatre) and Shanaya Rafaat (Jude, Hampstead Theatre). Suzette Llewellyn (EastEnders, BBC) will play Doctor Baugh, with Minal Patel (A Christmas Carol, Dominion Theatre) as Reverend Tooker. The roles of the Pollitt family children will be played by local young people at Leicester’s Curve, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and across the tour. Mark Da Vanzo, Chief Executive at Liverpool and

A PARTICULAR HIGHLIGHT IS THAT LOCAL YOUNG PEOPLE WILL HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE CAST AND ACT ALONGSIDE A VERY DISTINGUISHED AND TALENTED CAST

Merseyside Theatres Trust, said: “A particular highlight is that local young people will have the chance to be cast and act alongside a very distinguished and talented cast.” Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said: “These are challenging times to produce theatre and we are indebted to our partners at English Touring Theatre, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, and Mark Hawes and Sir Geoffrey Cass at the Royal Theatrical Support Trust for their unyielding support and collaborative spirit, ensuring this ambitious production can go and can be shared with audiences across the country.” Tickets for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are on sale now at curveonline.co.uk.

NICHE | 89


The staycation craze:

why landlords are so keen An increasing interest in staycations has brought about the rediscovery of Britain’s hidden gemstone locations with fresh, eager eyes. Here’s how property owners are making the most of UK holiday-lets WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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ince the onset of coronavirus, landlords and tenants alike have been searching for new ways to escape, bearing in mind the restrictions to travelling abroad. A staycation refers to a holiday in the UK – the perfect treat for those wanting to explore someplace new, whilst escaping the daily commotions of city life. Not only has this been extremely beneficial for the general health and wellbeing of individuals and families, but it’s proven to be particularly lucrative for landlords who have started letting their properties out through the increasingly popular short-term letting model. Sophie Jones, managing director at We Stay, commented: “Property owners have begun to realise they can make up to 50% more revenue through short-term lets over long-lets.” We Stay is a local company with national reach, providing tailored serviced accommodation packages and management services for landlords and staycation-seekers. The company was founded and co-founded by property specialist Ben Vale, who has over 20 years of experience working in the sector, along with Sophie and Roger Lanza. Sophie added: “We Stay

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provides the ideal home away from home, accommodating both short-term and mid-term stays, inclusive of luxury amenities, ensuring guests are well looked after. “The staycation boom we’re in right now is extraordinary. Attitudes have completely changed towards holidaying in the UK and I think that’s set to stay. We’ve got a beautiful country on our doorstep. Whether it’s the countryside, the coast, or a bustling city you’re after, we have it all in the UK.” With headquarters in Rothley, We Stay has properties all over the UK and the team are keen on supporting all sorts of landlords, providing them with the tools to make the most out of their property. Here are some frequently asked questions:

Which properties create the best return on investments?

“Properties in charming villages, quirky city apartments, or homes by the coast attract so many people, but all properties can succeed with a personal touch.”

How can I ensure my property is looked after with short-lets? “Properties are kept to show home standards because we have to make sure they’re in

PROPERTY OWNERS HAVE BEGUN TO REALISE THEY CAN MAKE UP TO 50% MORE REVENUE THROUGH SHORT-TERM LETS OVER LONG-LETS

perfect condition to attract guests, meaning any damages and cleaning will be taken care of regularly, keeping costs down in the long run. This type of five-star guest experience also allows us to build relationships with guests, resulting in more word-of-mouth recommendations.”

How do you manage my property for holiday-lets?

While portals such as Airbnb are handy, managing it all is a full-time job. “We carry out full due diligence of the property, complete a market analysis to determine what the property can make per night and per annum, and we analyse the area and its attractions. We then get a photographer in, list it on all the portals, and take full ownership as if it were our own holiday-let – from cleaning to guest liaison to full marketing. “We’re experts in this and know all the pitfalls and how to get a property making revenue. We do all of the hard work for hassle-free hosting for our landlords.” Sophie’s last fabulous top tip for landlords: “If you want to make a return, think ‘Instagrammable equals instantly bookable.’” For more lucrative tips on how to make the most out of your property, visit westaygroup.com.


NICHE FEATURE

When care was

needed most

The health of our elderly has been a priority for the last 18 months due to the global pandemic. Here Bluebird Care Director Jay Ghaghda tells us how they have adapted to the ever-changing needs of some of the most vulnerable in our communities WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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n a year where health and keeping vulnerable people safe has been absolute priority, much of our attention has been drawn to the care of older adults in our communities. “It’s been an especially isolating time for the elderly, whether in care homes or in their own homes. Keeping them as safe as possible as one of the most vulnerable groups from Covid-19 has been priority and as a result many of our service users weren’t able to see friends and family for a very long time – our care workers were their only social interactions,” explains Jay Ghaghda, Director of Bluebird Care Leicester opens. In response to the health crisis Jay and his team had to adapt quickly, putting in place a number of measures to ensure not only the safety of their users but also to keep users in touch with friends and family as much as possible through utilising technology. “We, of course, followed all of the Covid safety measures, but in addition looked for ways to keep our users feeling social through assisting them with video and

phone calls. “We always really get to know an individual, to the point that we are then able to match them with a carer who we feel they will form rewarding relationships with. As a result they didn’t feel so alone and had companionship when the pandemic hit. “Jay continues. From 30 minutes a day to the full time live-in option, Bluebird Care enables its customers to remain in their homes and live their lives as independently as possible. Regular assessments are made at the start in order for the team to really tailor their service to an individual. Despite the year being tough, Bluebird Care Leicester have still celebrated their ten years since inception and their vital place in the community has been further extended with the addition of the areas of Hinckley and Bosworth as well as Leicester, Blaby and Oadby and Wigston. “The needs of the elderly community have changed since the pandemic. They need to feel they can really trust and rely on a

THE NEEDS OF THE ELDERLY COMMUNITY HAVE CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC. THEY NEED TO FEEL THEY CAN REALLY TRUST AND RELY ON A TEAM OF CARERS.

team of carers. At the same time, people want to stay at home rather than live in a care home more than ever. Our demand has grown, but we have more than met that demand. “We have one service user who has been with us from the start,” Jay adds, in further testament to the quality of the care they provide. “It means a lot that our customers feel so cared for by us, it’s the whole point of what we do!” he enthuses. The team, who also give specialist care alongside LOROS to those with MND (motor neurone disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis), see how their customers benefit from receiving care in their own homes as opposed to residential care. With the effects of the pandemic bringing the focus on our elderly and vulnerable, finding the right kind of care that’s both safe and social is rightly changing our approach to care. Find FAQs on live-in and home care and how to find the right care for you or your relative at bluebirdcare.co.uk/Leicester. NICHE | 91


Leicestershire’s

homelessness: community incentive Housing situations and poverty have escalated to crisis point. A homelessness charity is appealing to local businesses and tradesmen for help WORDS BY EMILY MILLER

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eicestershire Homelessness charity The Bridge (East Midlands) received 6,202 referrals from April 2020 to March 2021, a 39% increase compared to 2019-20. Within their response, the empowering support given by the range of services at The Bridge led to 92% of homelessness being prevented or resolved for their beneficiaries, and financial circumstances improved for 80%. However, the referrals are increasing rather than easing, as the charity might have hoped in Covid recovery. “We are still experiencing a very high level of referrals, the same high level of demand for our services that we had during the peak of the pandemic,” says Paul Snape, Deputy CEO at The Bridge. “The impending cut to Universal Credit and the rising costs of food and utilities have meant that poverty insecurities are rising at an alarming rate, and for more people than ever.” With the economy recovering, many of us might wrongly


Finalist assume that everything else is too, but this is not the case. A study by Halifax found that Leicester is the 13th least affordable city to live in. Lack of availability in in housing combined with the difficulties of the pandemic has lead to a dramatically increased need in services offered by The Bridge. “There are grants available from trusts and The National Lottery Community Fund, but the competition is so fierce that it’s near impossible for so many charities. The help has to come from the community – from us all supporting one another,” Paul adds. The commitment that the staff at The Bridge has resulted in some positive and life changing results for their users, highlighting just how important their work is to the local community. What the pandemic hasn’t halted is the support and advice given by the team, where they work to prevent and relieve homelessness by offering specialist advice and support services across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Sharon de Caestecker from Wellbeing4Life, a business supporting The Bridge, notes: “Passion and commitment are central to the work of The Bridge, and this has been particularly apparent in the way the charity has responded with vigour, compassion and skill to the heightened needs created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Through their work, The Bridge has been able to create a ripple effect of benefit “Through their work, The Bridge has been able to create a ripple effect of benefit. I am proud to continue my support for the transformative work of The Bridge,” Sharon comments. Support from one of The Bridge’s pathways on the Rutland Community Wellbeing Service helped Mark, a service user, gain control of his life. He said: “When I first started with the service, I was in a right mess. With everything going on in my life, including debts, I couldn’t cope, and I just turned to the drink. I really needed that support to get through. I was at breaking point and thinking of ending my life.” Since receiving support from the service, Mark says: “having my support worker has changed my life. I don’t know what I would have done without the support.” In response to the powerful effects of the work they’ve been able to provide and the demand for more, The Bridge felt they needed to improve their accessibility to be able to outreach to both their current and potential

clients in need. To improve this access, they are relocating to new premises in Loughborough that they hope to be a welcoming and aspirational hub of empowering support. Of course, these services cost money and with finding funding difficult, the charity is appealing to local businesses to help. Whether you are a plumber or an electrician who could help with services, or a business who could provide fixtures or simply want to give funds, everything is welcome. Paul said: “As a not-for-profit organisation, we are seeking partnership and donation opportunities to fund the new reception space, interview rooms, training facility,

and triage services which will form the client-facing part of our offices. “This space will be a respite from the past year’s lack of human contact, where we will be able to continue and increase our support that our clients need and deserve.” As they build their partnerships, Paul explains how the relationships will be mutually beneficial: “We believe it’s important to work together to tackle the challenges our community faces. In this way, we can provide services and support that are of the highest quality, demonstrate the benefits of cross sector collaboration, all whilst building community resilience.” For partnership opportunities, please contact Paul on 07515 905 539 or 01509 648 221. For donations, please visit thebridge-eastmidlands.org.uk.

NICHE | 36


Your invite to

Vista’s Business Club Sight loss charity invites members to its new Supporters’ Business Club

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ista has launched its new Supporters’ Business Club with great success and six founding members. It’s a leading local charity supporting children and adults with sight loss throughout Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. The organisation is holding a meeting on Friday, September 17 from 9am to 10.30am and they’re inviting our readers to join them. Councillor Stephen Bilbie, Chairman of Harborough District Council attended last month’s meeting and talked about his experience of working with Vista as his nominated Charity of the Year, he said: “I was very proud to be invited to address their guests, talking about my role as Chairman of Harborough District Council and my reasons for choosing Vista as the Chairman’s charity during my term in office. I really enjoyed meeting everyone – if only virtually – and wish Vista every success in this new venture.”

The Vista Supporters’ Business Club launched last month and provides a great opportunity for businesses to get together and make connections whilst supporting a much-loved local charity. As a Vista Business Club member, you can raise the profile of your organisation and meet your CSR objectives. More importantly, you and the people in your business can feel confident when working with people with sight loss. Vista’s expert team will offer advice and guidance on how to make your business accessible and you will have an opportunity to understand about living with sight loss and the challenges that brings. Vista works with businesses to make their workspaces a better place for those with sight loss. To attend the next virtual meeting, email amanda.mcfarlane@vistablind.org.uk or call 07715 078 789 to be sent the meeting link. There is no obligation to commit to the club and the meeting is free of charge.

Morningside Pharmaceuticals is the headline sponsor of the Real Entrepreneur Awards 2022, and as part of their support for charities and the local community, the company is pleased to gift space in this edition of Niche to help raise awareness of the amazing work of Vista

SUPPORTERS’ LUNCH Alex’s Wish is a local Leicestershire Charity, raising money to conquer a life-limiting muscle wasting condition called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It affects 1 in every 3,500 boys born and affects every single muscle in the body. Alex’s Wish fund potential life-saving medical research, clinical trials and also funds doctors to run those trials in the UK.

It’s been a challenging year, but as our physical events are coming back strong we are inviting our supporters and those who would like to find out more about what we do and our plans ahead to our fabulous Annual Supporters’ Lunch.

We welcome you to join us for drinks after Lunch in the Nine B bar

Friday 8th October 1 - 3pm Novotel & Adagio Leicester, 2-3 Great Central Square, Leicester LE1 4JS Places are limited, please RSVP heidi@alexswish.co.uk to book your place Come along and we’ll update you on our progress during the Pandemic, our exciting plans for the year ahead, our progress towards conquering Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy with updates from Emma Hallam, Founder of Alex’s Wish and Duchenne UK. Our Supporters’ Lunch will also provide a great opportunity to network with like-minded people over a fabulous lunch. Event Sponsors

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Business Club Sponsors


NICHE FEATURE Get help from: Doctors Teachers council workers Women’s organisations Key contacts: UAVA Helpline: 0808 80 200 28 Email: info@uava.org.uk Text support: 07715 994 962 Zinthiya Trust Call: 0116 254 5168 Email: zinthiya.trust@gmail.com Visit: 12 Bishop Street, Leicester, LE1 6AF Opening hours: Monday – Thursday: 10.00am-4.00pm, Friday: 10am – 2pm

This is Abuse The campaign helping victims to recognise they’re being abused and who can help them WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

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domestic abuse campaign that encourages people to recognise the signs of abuse and coercive control is targeting British Asian Indian women in particular. Leicester City Council is working in partnership with UAVA (United Against Violence and Abuse), and Zinthiya Trust to challenge the perceptions of abuse in the many different cultures across Leicester. “Some women don’t know they’re victims of abuse because their husbands’ and in-laws’ behaviours are common in many families,” Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, founder of Zinthiya Trust, told us. “The figures on how many British Asian Indian women are victims of abuse are unreliable because I know first-hand that so many of them don’t – or can’t – come forward.” The campaign, which has coined the hashtag #thisisabuse,

aims to alert people to the kinds of abuse that may not be defined as such. For instance, having your passport withheld from you; confining your use of the internet; limiting or controlling your food; or having someone control your finances can all be forms of abuse. When abuse is not physical or sexual, it can go undetected in victims as abusers use tactical and methodical coercive control techniques. Whether the abuser realises they’re doing so or not, this is abuse. The campaign aims to help people recognise when they’re being abused and how they can come forward. If you recognise or relate to any of the above in your experience or that of someone you know, you can talk to a doctor, teacher, women’s organisation, council worker, or contact a specialist service. Zinthiya said: “While we

In an emergency, when someone is being harmed, contact the police on 999.

THE CAMPAIGN AIMS TO HELP PEOPLE RECOGNISE WHEN THEY’RE BEING ABUSED AND HOW THEY CAN COME FORWARD

Unreported cases of domestic abuse include: ◆ Monitoring through tapped phone calls and video cameras ◆ Withholding identification and qualification documents ◆ Confining use of the internet, TV, or phone ◆ Ridiculed for appearance or errors ◆ Restrictions on leaving the house ◆ Limiting or controlling food ◆ Controlled finances ◆ Body shaming ◆ Violence ◆ Rape

recognise that more British Asian Indian women need to come forward, abuse can happen to anyone no matter your ethnicity, age, gender, or any other factor. Please don’t suffer in silence. Come forward.” UAVA provides support for anyone who has been affected by domestic or sexual abuse living in Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland. Suki Kaur, Chief Executive of Freeva, which operates the domestic and sexual violence helpline for UAVA, said: “We talk to men and women every day and we know how hard it can be. What I can say is that you can live free from abuse and recover and heal, creating the life you may not think right now is possible.” Zinthiya Trust provides help with finances, emergency accommodation, and befriending. For more information, visit leicester.gov.uk/domesticabuse. NICHE | 95


Back to school for Hope This year, going ‘back to school’ isn’t just for the kids!

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oin Hope Against Cancer on September 2 for an afternoon of silly old school sports day races like the wheelbarrow race, egg and spoon and three legged race. This informal networking and team building event takes place at Leicester Racecourse from 12:30 till 3pm and you’ll need a team of five to participate. In addition, there are race sponsorship opportunities which will bring your brand to up to 100 local business participants. Get in touch ASAP to secure your place on the start line – call 0116 270 0101 or email jessica@hopegainstcancer.org.uk.

Reconnecting for a Sustainable Future Day 1: Tuesday 21 Sept

Day 2: Wednesday 22 Sept

Online Zoom Session

Face-to-face Panel & Networking

Each year VAL’s Annual Conference Future Focus brings together Leicester and Leicestershire’s charity sector to share insight, collaborate and celebrate the past year working in our sector. The theme for this year’s Future Focus is ‘Reconnecting for a Sustainable Future’. The last year has been difficult for us all and even though a huge number of charities and individuals have given their time and resources to help local communities, it is time for us to rethink, plan and evaluate. Join us to reconnect VCSE organisations across Leicester and Leicestershire for a better future. Find out more and book your place: https://valonline.org.uk/future-focus-2021/

 helpline@valonline.org.uk  @valonline 96 | NICHE


NICHE SOCIAL

REAL ENTREPRENEURS CLUB DINNER

A great turnout was had for Cross Productions’ first professional networking event for Real Entrepreneurs’ Club since the pandemic struck. More than 50 of the region’s entrepreneurs gathered at Winstanley House on Thursday, July 1. It was a buzzing atmosphere upon arrival with guests glammed up for what was the first networking experience in over a year for some. After plenty of laughter and catching up while interacting and engaging with one another over welcome drinks, guests enjoyed a three course meal, as well as inspirational talks from Cross Productions CEO Jenny Cross, and guest speaker Saleem Arif, Chief Executive of ReviewSolicitors. The exclusive club, for which members must apply to with recommendation and approval, provided members and their guests with a range of prospects that span a wide cross-section of industries and sectors. One of Leicestershire’s premier forums for entrepreneurs, the empowering network of individuals shares resources and information creating the opportunities necessary to drive our community forward. The next RE Club dinner will be held at Winstanley House on November 18.

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YOU WOULDN’T HEAR IT IN

Directors, specialists, CEOs, MBEs, PhD holders, and other higher-ups… they’re all people you might meet in the boardroom. It’s a professional space where best behaviour is upheld. But these successful types are people too! They have lives and we want to know what goes on in them. We squeeze answers out of them on subjects you wouldn’t normally discuss in the boardroom

PROFILE: Dr Sarah Jones ting, e Faculty of Compu Deputy Dean in th rt University edia at De Montfo Engineering and M Age: 40 pon-Avon Born in Stratford-u hire Lives in Bedfords ytelling. Awarded in Immersive Stor Noteworthy: PhD Ex-ITV/GMTV. 19. TedX speaker. 20 er ad Le ch Te l Inspirationa w would you FRIENDSHIPS: Ho a friend? as lf se describe your al. Fiercely loy hat’s the craziest ADVENTURES: W of ? Dancing on top thing you’ve done rk. Yo New the Empire Hotel in here would your ENVIRONMENT: W est look for you? nearest and dear th a book. Curled up in bed wi

Which SPIRITUAL LIFE: keep s rie te of life’s mys ing Be ? ht nig at you up I’m st, ali rn jou er rm a fo us and naturally very curio the ing ow hate not kn I guess answers to things. s me the thing that keep why is up at night most ality in qu ine there is such . rld the wo

NESS: What’s your HEALTH AND FIT ? Domino’s. unhealthiest habit E: What do you INTELLECTUAL LIF n politics. ica er geek out on? Am What’s your best RELATIONSHIPS: e e? Be with someon relationship advic ur t critic but yo who’s your harshes . biggest fan od at anything? SKILLS: Weirdly go dancing. I used to tin Ballroom and La my university team compete as part of competitions, so I a lot and won a few rictly! I also used St would have nailed for er when I was 25 to be a cheerlead s. the London Rocket

the worst part CAREER: What’s t being able to fix about your job? No previous career things quickly. In my speed-driven ch in TV, it was very mu e a lot slower to and universities ar we have sped on work in! However, over the past year, through necessity challenging. it’s been busy and tside of work, CREATIVE LIFE: Ou ‘create’? I made a what did you last don’t even know glass tile thing – I rtner bought me pa My what to call it. ption. It’s for me a craft box subscri from tech and the to take time away thing tactile and screen to do some de a korma last creative. And I ma night.

t’s your most fond FAMILY LIFE: Wha hood? I was very memory from child a month in the d privileged to spen ven while my se s wa I States when there. It was a very dad was working ay. transformative holid E: Which political COMMUNITY LIF ht t interested in rig topic are you mos e ur fut the t ou now? I care a lot ab ch, and how we te , dia me s, ng thi of ation. I really ensure quality educ re out support for ca worry and care ab ta Da . nts de stu ed leavers and estrang g people in care shows more youn n they will to uni, will go to prison tha aking and makes which is heart-bre me angry.

WORDS BY KERRY SMITH

To get a well-rounded feel for our interviewee, our questions are based on Vishen Lakhiani’s 12 Areas of Life Balance


Are you an SME

based in the East Midlands? w

Have you been operational for at least one year? Do you employ between 10 and 99 people?

level up your business with

You must be… A decision maker or member of the senior management team and be happy to commit to completing all 12 sessions

Find out more

To find out more email H2GM@dmu.ac.uk or go to eventbrite.co.uk


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Profile for Niche Magazine

Niche Magazine Issue 45  

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