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North Devon

Business Action the voice of North Devon business

Why an alliance? North Devon businesses find a voice

Introduction to social media Online networking increases business reach

The problem with competition More businesses find collaboration effective

the magazine of the

North Devon Business Alliance ‰ ndba.org.uk

‰ 0333 044 2038

‰ @northdevon


Contents

Why an alliance? ....................................................................

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The trouble with competition ...............................................

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NDBA events ...........................................................................

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The end for business ..............................................................

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Rates – am I paying too much? .............................................

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Shaping tomorrow’s leaders.................................................. 10 If I don’t sell online, I don’t need social media .................... 12 Starting in social media ......................................................... 13 Join the North Devon Business Alliance ............................... 16 Business Action is edited and produced on behalf of the North Devon Business Alliance by Robert Zarywacz. Call 01271 879100 or email rob@z2z.com for editorial information or if you would like to advertise. The views expressed by contributors to this magazine are not necessarily those of the North Devon Business Alliance. Readers are advised to seek the advice of an appropriate professional before taking any action on any issue discussed inside. © 2010 North Devon Business Alliance

To find out how we can minimise your tax liabilities, please contact us to arrange a free initial meeting. Telephone: 01271 321621 Fax: 01271 325412 E-mail: mail@321621.co.uk

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Improve your business prospects Measurable work focused management training and education give you the time to work on your business. Our service is: • Flexible and provided on a one-to-one basis • Focused on your business needs • Delivered by experienced and qualified trainer/mentor • Eligible for funding For details contact: Richard Wingate Tel: 01769 561101 Email: richard@o-l-s.co.uk Visit: obsidianlearningsolutions.co.uk

‰ North Devon Business Alliance


North Devon Business Alliance

Why an alliance? N

orth Devon’s geography is at once a blessing and a challenge. It must rank as one of the most beautiful places in the world – no exaggeration – in which to live and work, but remote towns separated by long distances cause difficulties. Everyone knows this and the members of the North Devon Business Alliance were not the first to discuss this at our end-of-month Friday lunches. It’s also the reason why no all-embracing North Devon business organisation existed previously. The logistics of getting people from Bideford to Lynton and from South Molton to Ilfracombe together in one place mean that few events attract representation from across the area. Building a cohesive community Yet North Devon needs a cohesive business community to work together, to share aims, to debate and resolve problems and to build a bigger, stronger and resilient economy that is the greater sum of its individual parts. That’s why we decided to take action to build this community. Using social media Several NDBA members have been networking online for seven or more years and now use ‘social media’ extensively to find new contacts, promote their businesses and attract new enquiries. You may think that twitter and facebook are merely for gossip or sharing holiday photos, but their owners have introduced features to make them valuable business users. In fact, facebook deliberately targeted business users to start making money.

LinkedIn, originally an online CV repository, has also developed into a networking and discussion service. NDBA is active on all these services and now aims to draw together the hundreds of existing users and encourage all North Devon businesses to use these tools to get to know each other better and to promote their businesses and the area locally, nationwide and internationally. We need face-to-face meetings Online networking cannot replace face-to-face meetings and NDBA sees the two complementing each other. We will continue our monthly lunches at the Chichester Arms, Bishop’s Tawton and will be hosting other events across North Devon. Current plans include an informal ‘TweetUp’ in Barnstaple, introductory social media sessions to help everyone start networking online and even a conference event. Championing North Devon Of course, as a community, we want to provide what members want. We aim to represent the interests of all businesses in the area and, through supporting existing businesses and encouraging start-ups, to develop the full potential of the local economy. We’re in business in North Devon, championing business in North Devon. We welcome every size of business, from every sector, from across the area. If this inspires you, please join us today. See full member details on the back cover. And if you want to start enjoying the business benefits of social media now, see our introduction to social media on page 13.

‰ ndba.org.uk ‰ 0333 044 2038 ‰ @northdevon

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Business collaboration

The problem with competition Business adviser and founder member of NDBA Kevin Woodward supports collaboration

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ost businesses see competition everywhere – on every street corner there appears to be a competitor and, of course, we don’t want to give our trade secrets away, so we never talk to them, so we never know whether they really are a competitor or not. Why exclude competitors? With most business networking groups there is a restriction on the number of businesses that are in the same trade category, and normally that number is restricted to one. This is another way to ensure that the culture of competition is maintained: we don’t want to network with businesses from the same trade as they are unlikely to want to buy from us. But, hang on a minute, isn’t networking all about building relationships and getting to know people? Is it really all about wanting to get people to buy from us? Relationships count for more We all know that people buy from people. It’s not always the product alone that makes people buy that product, it is often the person selling it who makes the difference to the buyer. And if you can build up a good

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relationship that buyer will come back to you time after time. So, once we have built up that relationship with buyers or potential buyers, why are we afraid of the competition coming in and talking to the same potential buyers? If you look at it from a business point of view, any business should go out and get more than one quote, so you will never be able to ensure that the potential client will use you. Regardless of the situation, the potential client may well go to other networking groups, they may not like the fact that you support a particular football team, they may actually not like you, so you may not get the business anyway. So be brave, let the competition in. It could actually help you. Working with the competition Take a very simple example: you network with someone from the same trade as you. They are a competitor, but you start talking and discover that they buy their supplies from someone different to you, and those goods are better quality than your suppliers, but he gets them cheaper. Wow, a lightbulb moment! You can change suppliers and save yourself, and/or your clients, money. Or what if you are working on a client project and don’t have the required expertise and have to subcontract out part of the job to someone else? If you don’t talk to

‰ North Devon Business Alliance


Business collaboration

your competitor, you won’t find suppliers with the skills you need that you don’t have yourself. After further discussion, you find he’s got a small job that he can’t do, but you can – oh, happy days, you’re doing business with each other. But hang on a minute – he’s a competitor! Don’t fear the competition So, don’t be afraid to talk to the competition. He or she is never going to be exactly the same as you, and so there may well be areas of collaboration that can benefit you both, but you’ll never know, unless you talk to them. Getting North Devon businesses working together This is a big issue in North Devon, because it’s not only business people themselves who see competition on every corner, it’s also the towns. Bideford sees Ilfracombe as

competition, Torrington sees South Molton as competition, everyone else sees Barnstaple as competition. But actually we are all in BUSINESS ACTION North Devon and we ‰ Talk to competitors. should be celebrating ‰ Explore alliances. that we are in North ‰ Use complementary skills to create Devon. If Ilfracombe more powerful teams. can encourage people to come to North Devon and they pop over to Holsworthy for a day out, isn’t that good for everyone? We need to talk together, we need to encourage one another, we need to help one another, because as with the above traders we might surprise ourselves and find that we can actually do business with one another. And that can only improve North Devon. Kevin Woodward t: 01237 451848 e: kevin@kvassociates.co.uk w: kvassociates.co.uk twitter: @llamakevin

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‰ ndba.org.uk ‰ 0333 044 2038 ‰ @northdevon

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01271 373377 5


Interesting

NDBA events Monthly lunch The NDBA holds a regular lunch meeting for members on the last Friday of each month from 12 midday until 3pm at the Chichester Arms, Bishop’s Tawton. Cost is £20 including lunch and drinks. Please book your place with Kevin Woodward as spaces are limited. Non-members are welcome to attend up to three lunches as a guest. North Devon TweetUp Not as silly as it sounds, TweetUps are held in towns and cities across the UK and all over the world, so NDBA is hosting one in North Devon on Thursday 10 June. What is a TweetUp? It’s an informal evening social gathering where

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twitter users or anyone can drop in from 6pm to 8pm. It’s an effective way of getting to know people in a comfortable environment. And, of course, we can connect with people across the area and elsewhere through twitter. Introduction to social media If you want to out more about twitter, facebook, LinkedIn and other online services and how to start using them, we’ll be hosting some NDBA social media taster sessions across the area with live online demonstrations. The first will be on Thursday 22 July. For full details of all events, visit ndba.org.uk, follow @northdevon on twitter or visit facebook.com/ndevonbusiness

‰ North Devon Business Alliance


Protecting your business

The end for business Graham Lofthouse of Devonshire Asset Management considers business exits

Many people start a business in good health and focus on activity and processes that will make it successful, but fewer consider protection against an enforced exit from the business. At any time a partner or director could develop a critical illness preventing them from any further involvement in the business or, worse, suffer a sudden death. What would happen to their share of the business? Would their family’s interest in it be protected? Graham Lofthouse of Devonshire Asset Management believes in giving as much consideration to how you leave a business as to how you build it: “People can devote decades to generating a valuable business, then find themselves and their families unable to enjoy the rewards they deserve due to a lack of planning. “There is no need for this as almost anyone can structure a business to build in the necessary protection, while insurance can provide the financial support for owners and their families.” One option is shareholder or partnership protection, which enables company directors to purchase business shares from a fellow director’s family should they die or suffer a critical illness preventing them from continuing in the business. This protection is generally available to individuals in business with others in a limited company or a partnership. It enables policyholders to retain control and ownership of the firm, should the worst happen. Combined with a properly written shareholder agreement, which will ensure the

existing shareholders get first refusal should the shares be offered for sale (and preventing their acquisition by a competitor or other undesired third party), this insurance provides a lump sum enabling the policy’s beneficiaries the money to purchase them at a fair value for all concerned. As well as basic shareholder protection, business protection can be extended to cover directors’ loan accounts so that money is always available to cover the company’s liability. Another option is key man insurance, which can support a business should (anything) death or disablement happen to particularly BUSINESS ACTION valuable employees. ‰ Review company memorandum and “Complexity can articles and associated agreements vary from one or partnership agreement. company to another ‰ Seek appropriate professional advice. so it’s important that ‰ Explore insurance options. directors and partners seek appropriate professional advice,” adds Graham. “With a little bit of planning, it shouldn’t take much to ensure that you and your family enjoy the fruits of your efforts.” Graham Lofthouse t: 01271 327500 e: graham@devonshireassetmanagement.co.uk twitter: @glofthouse

‰ ndba.org.uk ‰ 0333 044 2038 ‰ @northdevon

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Business rates

Rates – am I paying too much? Commercial chartered surveyor Charlotte Luckett examines business rates

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f you have a non-domestic property, you will have noticed that your rates may have risen, which, reflecting the economic climate over the last 18 months, could be another blow for some small businesses or even a final nail in the coffin. The reason why your rates may have risen is because from 1 April 2010 the rateable value for all nondomestic properties was altered. What is a rateable value? All non-domestic properties have a rateable value drawn up and maintained by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). This broadly represents the yearly rent a property could have been let for, on the open market, on a particular date according to the VOA’s opinion based on evidence they have collated from occupants of non-domestic properties. For the re-valuation that has just come into effect, this date was set as 1 April 2008, and is known as the ‘antecedent date’. The rateable value of your business property will show on the front of your bill. Can I see a list of rateable values? Yes, you can check yours and rateable values of all non-domestic properties in the country at voa.gov.uk How often are rateable values reviewed? The Valuation Office Agency re-values all non-domestic properties every five

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years at a general re-valuation. The current rating list is based upon the 2010 re-valuation and has just come into effect. Five-yearly re-valuations make sure that each rate payer pays their fair contribution and no more, by ensuring that the share of the national rates bill paid by any one rate payer reflects changes over time in the value of their property relative to others. While the 2010 re-valuation will not increase the amounts of rates collected nationally, some rate payers will see an increase. The next re-valuation is due in 2015. What if there is a change that may affect the rateable value? The rateable value of your property may change if: 1. You physically alter your property and increase or decrease the amount of floor space 2. All or part of your property is used for a different purpose (for example, from storage to retail) The valuation officer will then revalue your property and may change the rateable value. If there is less floor space in the property and the Valuation Officer has agreed to re-value it, the Council may be able to agree a temporary payment arrangement based upon a lower rateable value. There is also an opportunity to contest the actual rent the VOA

‰ North Devon Business Alliance


Business rates

considers the property could attract. This is especially important in the market we are current experiencing where there are many incentives being offered, such as rent free periods, etc. Specialist advice could be required to improve the success of such a contest. Can I appeal against the rateable value? You (and anyone who has an interest in the property) can ask for a change in their rateable value. You can do this if you think the circumstances of the property have changed, or if you think that the rateable value is incorrect. It does not cost you anything to appeal against the rateable value. You do not need to have a Rating Adviser to represent you in your appeal. However, it can work both ways. If the VOA consider that you are not paying enough, the rateable value could increase. If you would feel more confident in using a specialist, there are surveyors who are Members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) qualified to do this and regulated by rules of professional conduct. It is important to ensure that the surveyor has the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance before you employ them. Do I have to pay if I have appealed against the rateable value? Yes, you are legally obliged to keep paying your business rates based upon the current rateable value of your property while your appeal progresses. If you do not pay your bill until the appeal has been heard, the Local Authority can take legal action to recover any unpaid rates.

BUSINESS ACTION ‰ Look up your rateable value at voa.gov.uk ‰ Compare it with the 2005 Rating List. ‰ If it has increased drastically, consider appealing. ‰ Obtain professional advice if unsure. ‰ Beware of companies claiming to be experts. ‰ Look for a MRICS or IRRV qualified adviser.

What happens if the rateable value changes? If the Valuation Officer changes the rateable value of your property, or if your appeal is successful, the Valuation Officer will inform you and the Council about the changes made. The Council will then re-calculate your account based upon the new rateable value and will then refund any overpayment plus interest if your rateable value is reduced. It is imperative that you continue to pay your business rate instalments by the dates shown on your bill, otherwise the Council will be able to take action to recover the money and you will lose the right to receive interest on any over-payment.

Charlotte Luckett consultant for Underwoods Surveyors LLP t: 07854 368 067 e: charlotte@underwoodscs.co.uk

‰ ndba.org.uk ‰ 0333 044 2038 ‰ @northdevon

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Leadership training

Shaping tomorrow’s business leaders Richard Wingate of Obsidian Learning Solutions explores opportunities for future success

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hile politicians can talk and set economic and spending policies, it is businesses that do the work of generating revenue for them to spend. At a time when the UK needs its private sector to be more productive, more innovative and more competitive than ever before, it will only achieve this through developing business leaders with vision, capability and courage. It would be easy to rely on leaders of large corporations and national business organisations to take care of this, but businesses of every size can benefit from trained, effective leaders. Tailored, work-based training Tailored and work-based management education and training can produce a real return for any organisation. It achieves this through developing

managers who are more focused and who apply advanced planning, problem-solving, project management and decision-making skills, leading to higher customer satisfaction, improved quality and more consistent achievement of targets. Business leaders and managers at all levels can exert a strong influence, both positive and negative, on the success of their organisation and the individuals within them. A good leader understands their role within their organisation and how they can create opportunities for growth. They also work to ensure all team members are able to make their own contributions and can develop their skills to fulfil their own roles in business and organisational growth. Individuals too can achieve greater satisfaction while at work, feel more

Example 1: George George has been a first line manager for the past two years and wants a qualification to help him gain promotion. A review of George’s situation shaped the following programme: ‰Skills audit to identify precisely what skills and knowledge he needed to achieve his goal ‰L3 NVQ in Management with the option of upgrading to L4 over 10 months (because he wanted to finish before Christmas) ‰One-to-one training support (as he had not time to attend group sessions) ‰Mental Toughness Psychometric so he could measure his starting point in developing as a manager/leader and then measure how far he had travelled by the end of the programme ‰Invitation to attend open training sessions ‰Free studying membership of the Institute of Leadership and Management 10

‰ North Devon Business Alliance


Leadership training

Example 2: Grace Grace works in an organisation that is making major changes to the way it works. This has been unsettling, but Grace wants to ensure she can continue to work there and take control over her working life. She has a management role in the company and had previously gained a NVQ L3 in Management. The organisation is growing and values innovative people. Grace would also like to obtain a degree. A career review suggested the following programme: ‰Skills audit to identify skills and knowledge she already had and needs to develop ‰ILM L4 Award in Management (to gain more knowledge of management, problem solving and decision making); Units from the NVQ L4 Management (part of her L3 NVQ could be credited to the L4) to take 6 months ‰BA in Business and Enterprise, which not only helps fulfil her wish but importantly provides her with knowledge and skills about innovation in organisations that would help her play a key role in the development of her employer. Takes one year ‰A mixture of one-to-one and small group training plus coaching opportunities ‰Free studying membership of the Institute of Leadership and Management while doing the NVQ effective and confident, and can see more opportunities for promotion and career development. How can North Devon businesses improve their leadership skills? Training and coaching for management and leadership qualifications from introductory to degree level accredited by a recognised organisation, such as the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), can provide development paths tailored to the needs of individual staff members. Career reviews, skills audits, coaching/mentoring, networking, leadership psychometrics can all be tailored to individual needs. Work focused training and education delivered one to one or in small groups can be very effective. Before embarking on any training

programme, it is important to identify personal goals and the paths to achieving these. Alongside and above are examples of how to achieve this. Improve performance in challenging times Leadership training can achieve impressive results and improve a business’s performance significantly. In a challenging economy where every advantage counts, it is an effective way to ensure resilience and competitiveness in a business. Those businesses able to weather the economic uncertainty will be so much the stronger as the climate improves. They will also be beacons for other entrepreneurs to follow. Richard Wingate t: 01769 561101 e: richard@o-l-s.co.uk w: obsidianlearningsolutions.co.uk

‰ ndba.org.uk ‰ 0333 044 2038 ‰ @northdevon

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The value of social media

If I don’t sell online, I don’t need social media Writer, marketer and journalist Robert Zarywacz puts online networking into context

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ntil recently, businesses could be divided into two groups: those who could use the internet to sell and those who could not. This has now changed: every business can use the internet to sell. Those businesses who believe the internet is still no use to them will find competitors in the same sector generating business online. What’s more, many businesses whose local customers previously had no option but to buy from them can now find competitors from outside the area encroaching on their territory via the internet. Who has not checked prices with or purchased products and services from online suppliers?

The value of marketing online Should we be frightened? No, because online marketing, social media and blogging are just other ways of marketing BUSINESS ACTION and selling as we ‰ See what competitors are doing. have always done ‰ Use free social media tools. Should we ignore ‰ Start engaging customers online. them? No, because these are becoming mainstream advertising, marketing and public relations tools. Traditional media, such as newspapers and 12

television, are struggling to attract advertising revenue as millions of businesses switch to spending their budgets online. How easy is it to start using social media? Anyone with a PC and an internet connection or a smartphone can use social media. The main services relevant to business – twitter, facebook, LinkedIn – are free to join and use, but they do require an investment of time. Isn’t social media dangerous? Just as in any other area of business, it is wise to take precautions. People can be dishonest online, as they are anywhere else, and it is a good idea to have a policy on what personal information you feel happy about revealing. Some will feel comfortable revealing more than others. Opening up a new world On the other hand, you are likely to connect with generous, helpful and trustworthy people: customers, suppliers, friends in the same town as you, in the same area or across the UK and worldwide. The potential is unlimited . . . if you want to explore the possibilities. Robert Zarywacz t: 01271 879100 e: rob@z2z.com w: robertz.me twitter: @robertz

‰ North Devon Business Alliance


Getting started with social media

Starting in social media T

here are many social media services, most of them free and most of them focusing on a specific interest or topic. We’re going to look at how to get started on three of the top services used by thousands of businesses. LinkedIn LinkedIn started as an online CV repository, but is rapidly developing into a community of business people ranging from senior corporate executives to sole traders. It has a very useful ‘group’ facility and NDBA runs a North Devon group where issues relevant to the area are discussed. Register at LinkedIn by visiting linkedin.com (see screen shot). Enter

your first name, last name, email address and think up a password. Enter join and you’ve signed up. Next, complete your profile, upload a photo and select connections to find people you know. Select groups to find and join North Devon.

To advertise in Business Action call Robert on 01271 879100

‰ ndba.org.uk ‰ 0333 044 2038 ‰ @northdevon

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Getting started with social media

facebook Many people already use facebook to keep in contact with family and friends, but with 400 million active users worldwide, it’s no surprise that the founders have actively attracted businesses to use it. Register at facebook by visiting facebook.com (see screen shot). Enter your first name, last name, email address and think up a password. You also have to state your sex and enter your date of birth. Enter

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join and you’ve signed up. facebook is a very open service and has sophisticated privacy tools. We recommend that you set your privacy options first by selecting account from the top right menu and choosing privacy settings. You can decide whether only friends (ie contacts), friends of friends or everyone can see certain information. You can hide personal details such as birthday and choose what level of other information you add to your profile. You can find NDBA at facebook.com/ndevonbusiness facebook enables you to connect with other people, add a professional profile, advertise events, create a page for your business, start and join special interest groups and a lot more. It is useful for individuals, businesses and community groups. There are also many free ‘applications’ you can add to your profile to customise it.

‰ North Devon Business Alliance


Getting started with social media

twitter twitter is a simple concept: blogging in 140 characters. Register at twitter by visiting twitter.com (see screen below right). Enter your full name and choose a memorable user name. Think up a password and enter your email. Enter create my account and you’ve signed up. Next, complete your profile: select settings and then profile. You can upload a photo, enter your location, a clickable link to your web site and a short biography of 160 characters. Using twitter You can post 140-character tweets in the ‘what’s happening?’ dialogue box. For anyone to see these, you need to follow people: choose find people and search for the NDBA by entering northdevon. follow me Other NDBA members you can search for are @llamakevin, @robertz, @glofthouse and @davidbaglow. Follow us and we’ll follow you back and introduce you to the North Devon twitter community. Other people can follow you, although you do have the ability to block anyone who sends you spam.

through to your web site. You can also post photos and videos through other applications and services. Too much to manage? These are just three social media services. How can anyone manage these, let alone any more? There is a range of software and online services, most of it free, which you can use to co-ordinate all your social media activity. In future issues, and in our social media taster events, we’ll look at what’s available and how to use them to manage online networking.

twitter features Useful twitter features include a powerful search facility, which you can use to monitor what people are saying about your sector, your town, your business or anything. This is valuable for identifying twitter users who may be interested in your products or services. twitter posts also feature in search engine results and it has become an important tool for promoting web sites. Direct links can be embedded in a tweet so that people can click

‰ ndba.org.uk ‰ 0333 044 2038 ‰ @northdevon

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Join the North Devon Business Alliance The North Devon Business Alliance has been established by experienced North Devon business owners and executives to represent the interests of all businesses in the area and, through supporting existing businesses and encouraging start-ups, to develop the full potential of the local economy. We’re in business in North Devon, championing business in North Devon. We want the North Devon economy to thrive so everyone can enjoy the benefits of living and working in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. For £25 per year you can join the NDBA to: ‰ network off and online ‰ develop your own business ‰ raise issues that you face ‰ carry the voice of North Devon business where it needs to be heard The NDBA meets on the last Friday of each month for lunch at the Chichester Arms, Bishop’s Tawton. We also network online using social media. Follow us at: ndba.org.uk @northdevon facebook.com/ndevonbusiness Join the North Devon group at LinkedIn.com To join the NDBA, please call 0333

044 2038 or email info@ndba.org.uk

NDBA Business Action  

Business Action is the magazine of the North Devon Business Alliance. The NDBA has been established by experienced North Devon business owne...

NDBA Business Action  

Business Action is the magazine of the North Devon Business Alliance. The NDBA has been established by experienced North Devon business owne...

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