talk Business decemBeR 2011
founder of nails inc on its meteoric rise thanks to the fashion for manicured nails
: pslecurs et e ir
iona y MillD JaMille Daviares thhis sh ets of e ss secr succ
leadership skills top tips
ritch martell interview
9 772048 474006
pitching to investors
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INSIDE TALK BUSINESS DECEMBER 2011
COVER STORY: THEA GREEN, FOUNDER, NAILS INC
23 game on
Editor, Gill Anderson takes a look at what’s affecting the business community
Julia payne, co-founder of Incisive Edge on Olympic business opportunities
09 on the money
24 start up tIps
42 the seven deadly sIns
This month, we feature news of the Government’s Growth & Innovation fund and a useful diary of events for the forthcoming month
John Treace on how not to manage sales
31 where there’s a wIll
44 growIng gloBal
Secret Millionaire, David Jamilly
14 Book revIew
34 socIal success
47 under attack
Former Channel 4 chairman, Luke Johnson’s new self help guide for new businesses, Start It Up. Why Running Your Own Business is Easier Than You Think.
Internet entrepreneur, Rich Martell on social networking
Defending against cyber attack
36 Best practIse
The art of pitching to investors
18 Face on the cover: thea green The founder of nails inc talks to Emma Morgan about her success
‘have faith Branding is more than just in your idea choosing a logo ... and just go for it’ 39 take one company MyKinaCrowd founder, Will Akerman steps under the spotlight
52 pItch perFect 58 gadget guIde The latest smart phones
65 take one For the team Team building options www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk december 2011
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COMMENT TALK BUSINESS DECEMBER 2011
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scott english email@example.com circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 circulation enquiries: Dream Creative Solutions Limited T: 0845 873 9100 F: 01245 280303 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Dream Creative Solutions Limited. Suite 2-4 , Goldlay House, 114 Parkway, Chelmsford, Essex. CM2 7PR T:0845 873 9100 F: 01245 280303 ©Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. No part of Talk Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Dream Creative Solutions Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation.
This week’s much anticipated Autum Statement by Chancellor, George Osborne has highlighted some troubling indicators for the UK economy. However, not everything in the economic garden has died of neglect. Osborne’s plans for the coming years include a hefty amount of revenue to be pumped into building a stronger economy for the future - and that means help for new business start ups. That help includes £21bn of credit easing measures to support small and mid-sized businesses that don’t currently have access to capital markets.Investment opportunities too should become more readily available for new businesses and SME’s as Government takes action to support enterprise and accelerate reforms. Another £1bn is heading for the coffers of the Regional Growth Fund for England.
On the credit easing side, Government plans to guarantee bank loans to SMEs totalling £up to £20bn over the next two years, which can only be good news. One of the biggest struggles faced by start ups is achieving sufficient funding - not just to get going, but to remain afloat after the first flush of success fades and the bills start arriving faster than sales are achieved. So what’s stopping you? You’ve obviously had the seed of an idea for some time, done the research, so surely, now is the time to take action? If the UK is to be able to step back from the brink of this potential global vortex, it must support its budding entrepreneurs, creating a strong and sustainable platform for them to operate on. To ensure you have all the help available, we’ve filled this month’s issue of Talk Business with features written exclusively to help you overcome the problems associated with start ups. We’re aware that not everyone has a business degree, but as the Face on the cover interview shows, some of the best business ideas come from everyday requirements, such as hairdressing or, in this case, mmanicures. Stop thinking, just do it.
GILL ANDERSON EDITOR www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk december 2011
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Coffee lovers perform Research recently released by Crunch confirms that smart phones came up seventh in a list of things UK homeworkers can’t live without. Scoring highly were a computer, online communication, task management tools, networking events and coffee. A mere five per cent of freelance workers rated the smart phone as their most important tool at work, compared with 34 per cent who chose their main computer and 21 per cent who selected online communication tools, such as Twitter – even coffee came in at fifth place with eight per cent of the vote. Surprisingly, the research also found that male freelancers appear to be more social, with 12 per cent stating that they couldn’t live without social business support networks, compared to four per cent of women.
Employees’ worries Small businesses may be losing out on the most talented employees due to concerns around pay and benefits, according to a new survey from recruiting expert, Hays. Almost half of those surveyed believe salaries are not as competitive as at larger organisations and more than half believe smaller businesses are not able to offer as many benefits. Despite almost three-quarters of people reporting a positive experience of working in smaller businesses, the survey found that a quarter would prefer to work for a larger organisation, while more than
half expressed concerns about the stability of smaller organisations. However, respondents felt that job satisfaction and interesting work can be found in any size organisation. In addition, a number of positive factors about working for smaller businesses were also identified, such as a more hands-on approach, greater responsibility and greater understanding of the business as a whole. The chance to work more closely with senior people may help attract people to work in small businesses and respondents also found recognition from senior managers another benefit.
Sign up to a year’s subscription of Talk Business magazine and you’ll not only save money, you’ll also receive a pair of USBCells* We’ve all been there, wanting to use an electrical device only to discover that the batteries have run out of power. Well, my friend, this is an inconvenience that can now be avoided by acquiring a revolutionary rechargeable battery - the USBCell. This NiMH AA cell can be used like a normal battery and can be recharged simply by plugging into a USB port. With over 15 billion Alkaline batteries made and thrown away each year - wasting resources, C02 and creating toxic landfill USBCell offers a eco-friendly alternative which can be re-used hundreds of times without an adaptor or cable, saving money, hassle and waste. For a limited time, subscribers to Talk Business magazine will receive a pack of two USBcells to power devices on the move.*
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www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
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Pan-european performance marketing company, TradeDoubler has announced the launch of The Zoo Project; an affiliate marketing incubator designed to cultivate grass roots growth and help drive innovation in this sector. With applications open until January 2012, up to 20 start-ups will be admitted into the project, and will benefit from more than £1m of business resources, including rent- and rate-free office space at it’s UK headquarters; hands-on mentoring; access to brand advertisers and partners; and networking opportunities with entrepreneurs. ‘Affiliate marketing is inherently entrepreneurial as an industry sector, and we want
to mentor and help support grass roots affiliate growth in the UK,’ said Rob Wilson, market unit leader for TradeDoubler. ‘We believe the UK is still one of the world’s biggest gateways for new ideas. Every day we help our clients reach thousands of customers through affiliate marketing campaigns, and want to see more affiliates come to market and achieve similar levels of success. We believe the difficult economic climate brings unique opportunities for affiliates as consumers search for better deals online. The Zoo Project will help start-up affiliate businesses harness these opportunities, enabling them to grow into major sustainable companies.’
round two PlUmbing bUSineSS SUCCeSS
britain’s biggest business pitching contest saw the creator of an original way to deal with burst pipes take to the dancefloor with four other entrepreneurs and emerge victorious. Ross Dickinson, founder of Kibosh, secured £50,000 of business support following the grand finale of ThePitch 2011, organised by BusinessZone.co.uk in association with print and digital services company, Yell. Dickinson, who won the Scottish heat of the competition during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, pitched alongside contestants from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as a wildcard picked by the public, at London’s Pacha nightclub. Delivering an impressive pitch from a dancer’s podium under the nightclub spotlight, the entrepreneur also won the most votes from attendees in the People’s Choice Award sponsored by XLN Telecom. The £50,000 of prizes includes marketing and advertising solutions from Yell, 12 months mentoring from Karen Darby, a year’s membership of the Forum of Private Business, PR coaching from Do Your Own PR and 12 months membership of Adam Street private members club.
The second phase of the growth and innovation Fund has been launched by business secretary, Vince Cable and John Hayes. The purpose of the fund is to support businesses to develop their skills solutions tailored to their own needs, transforming growth in their sector, region or supply chain. biS will be providing £34m for 2012-13 and there is still £29m available to bid for. With matched funding from businesses there will be around £60m available under giF this year. Comparable levels of investment are planned for the following two years.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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DIARY DATES Graduate success
mentor, Caroline marsh knows what it takes to get to the top. A one-time airline stewardess turned millionaire businesswoman, who is frequently in demand on the public speaking circuit, Marsh developed the ‘concept to cash in 90 days’ initiative, which took 10 creative business brains, captured their ideas and set them on the path to success. From a muffin baker to a tennis coach, a natural skin-care specialist to someone setting up their own cleaning operation, Marsh has helped the fledgling entrpreneurs to develop their businesses; checking their business plans, developing strategies and helping them to market their various enterprises. To mark Global Entrepreneurship Week, Marsh organised a send off party at the Grange Holborn Hotel for the graduates. ‘It was a great day for me, seeing others create their world of possibilities. They all share how having an idea, having the skills and the support, was key to success,’ she said. ‘Some had kept ideas under wraps for seven years, which only came to fruition in the past three months,’ explained the business guru. Marsh also launched the Mastermind Alliance during the graduation event, where some of Britain’s brightest business brains were available to help fledgling entrepreneurs.
Crisalis business start-up surgery 12 Dec 2011 Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth University www.aber.ac.uk Cambridge wireless siG – How to set up your business for growth from day one 12 Jan 2012 ideaSpace, Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge www.cambridgewireless.co.uk Growing Your own business 2012 16-17 March 2012 Olympia National Hall, London www.sme-events.com the british & international franchise Exhibition 2012 16-17 March 2012 Olympia National Hall, London www.franchiseinfo.co.uk business 2012 18-20 March 2012 O2 Arena, London www.business2012.com Hr software show 2012 20-21 June 2012 Olympia Two, London www.cipd.co.uk Marketing week live 2012 27-28 June 2012 Olympia Grand Hall, London www.marketingweeklive.co.uk
t iGH l t spo on
MarkEtinG wEEk livE 2012 27-28 JUne 2012, OlymPiA gRAnD HAll, lOnDOn The event, which runs over two full days from 27-28 June 2012, brings together five shows: *Data Marketing Show *Insight Show *In-Store Show *Online Marketing Show *Marketing Week Live Village. A must attend show for forward-thinking marketers, the 2011 event welcomed almost 13,000 visitors – up 26% on the previous year.
online service support A new business link service has gone live with more than 200 online learning resources to support entreprenuers and new business growth in the UK. According to a recent survey, a quarter of the UK’s workforce believes there are good opportunities to start a new business where they live, but fear of failure will prevent one in three from taking the leap. If this fear could be overcome, the feeling is that billions of pounds could be injected into
the ailing UK economy. Business Link has partnered with Epic to launch ‘My New Business’, which features a range of tools to allow users to create an online learning directory. The resources cover everything from from writing a business plan and completing a tax return to targetting customers and making sales. The free of charge service is available for anyone to utilise, and can be accessed by simply visiting the website at www.businesslink.gov.uk.
we’ve got the power Lars Hyland, who led the project for Epic, said: ‘Within UK companies, more and more learning is now delivered online. and when we’re at home, the first place most of us look for information is on a website or search engine. So it’s a natural step for services like Business Link to expand its online offering. At Epic, we’re looking forward to supporting the entrepreneurs of today as they work to become the successful UK companies of tomorrow.’
Under a £250m government plan, businesses will be given the power to purchase training programmes. The move is designed to boost economic growth and ensure that UK workforces have the skills that businesses require. Employers will be invited to bid for a share of the Government fund. Its aim is to route public investment directly to employers, enabling them to invest in the training they actually need.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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BOOK REVIEW LUKE JOHNSON
Start It Up. Why Running Your Own Business is Easier Than You Think Luke Johnson, chairman of Risk Capital Partners, and former chairman of Channel 4 Television, has written a self-help book for new business start-ups
Luke Johnson’s new book, Start It Up. Why Running Your Own Business is Easier Than You Think, is proving to be a runaway success with would-be entrepreneurs. Johnson’s own incredible success story, from building the lucrative PizzaExpress restaurant chain, to owning the company behind London’s iconic eaterie, The Ivy, Johnson’s obviously doing something right, Subtitled A How-To Book By Someone Who Has, the format is simple – starting at the very beginning of the start-up process by taking an in-depth look at beginnings – and the failures (or setbacks as Johnson calls them) that so often follow, the book follows the path taken by so many start ups. According to Johnson: ‘There are a lot of misconceptions about those who build companies. These fictions are unhelpful because they discourage some would-be entrepreneurs from giving it a go, and even influence policy makers in their decisions. So I thought it would be worthwhile debunking some of the common falsehoods. Here are a few:
a passion. Obviously some want to get rich, but wealth is rarely the sole point of the exercise. Studies have shown that the short phrase,which best sums up the drive of those who create new enterprises is: “I’ll show them.” Money is a way of keeping the score and providing capital for the next project.’ The idea is what matters: ‘In fact, execution is everything. We all have brilliant concepts, which will never come to fruition because they are impractical, or because we are too lazy or distracted. Making it happen is what really counts, and this is the difficult bit – which is why so many seemingly clever schemes fail.’ Entrepreneurs are born, not made: ‘Research shows that most successful business owners do not start out very young. They gain experience working for others, and learn how to run an enterprise before venturing out on their own. Just as no one is genetically programmed to be a doctor or an architect, so
Entrepreneurs are mainly motivated by money: ‘In reality, they create firms by accident, or because they want to prove themselves, or because they are bored, or have
entrepreneurs tend to find their calling by nurture rather than nature.’ Start-ups are one-man bands: ‘Most firms that do well are developed by teams, rather than by a single man or woman. There may be a prime mover who gets most of the attention – and possibly the rewards – but it is the winning combination of skills formed by a partnership of players that is the most likely formula for success.’ Entrepreneurs are inventive geniuses: ‘Very few true inventors make it big in business. Rather, it is the commercially minded individual who replicates an original product and makes it cheaper, or markets it better, or watches the costs properly – or simply gets lucky with his timing – who tends to strike gold.’ Entrepreneurs are mostly academic rejects with no qualifications: ‘In fact, more and more business owners have university degrees – or even doctorates. These days many MBA students end up running their own companies. Being an entrepreneur has become a respectable career choice, so more of the educated middle class has taken the plunge.’ Most new businesses fail: ‘Actually, the survival rates for companies have been rising in recent years. Only a small proportion of operating enterprises go bust each year, as opposed to inactive companies being wound up or struck off, which distorts
the statistics. And firms usually fail because of management shortcomings, rather than external forces.’ Entrepreneurs are loners: ‘It takes people skills to grow a company, and most entrepreneurs are extroverts who enjoy the company of others, not introverts. They choose to work for themselves be- cause they enjoy the freedom and independence, not because they want to hide away from colleagues.’ Entrepreneurs are gamblers: ‘Yes they take financial risks, but most entrepreneurs are good at judging the downside, and are more cautious in their ventures than it might appear to the uninformed. The vast majority of bankrupts are not entrepreneurs who failed: they are salaried people who borrowed too much.’ Entrepreneurs are workaholics: ‘This is certainly no myth at the start of the entrepreneur’s journey, when a founder needs to be committed. But at a certain point, most business proprietors work no more hours than ambitious corporate managers – and at least the self-employed can choose their own work patterns. Moreover, surveys show the most stressful aspects of life for staff in big companies are office politics and commuting, things entrepreneurs can largely avoid.’ Start It Up. Why Running Your Own Business is Easier Than You Think is published by Portfolio Penguin (www.penguin.com), and is priced at £12.99.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FEATURE FINANCIAL ADVICE
SOUND FINANCIAL ADVICE FOR BUSINESS START-UPS Words Stephen Jones, FCCA
tarting a business is exciting but very daunting when it comes to risking your money on a new venture. Cash flow is essential to the success of any business and mistakes made on managing the cash and identifying the amount of working capital at the start can make even a profitable business fail. Cash flow is the measure of your ability to pay your bills on a regular basis. It depends on the timing and amounts of money flowing into and out of the business. Good cash flow means that the pattern of income and spending in a business allows it to have cash available to pay bills on time. It is important not to confuse cash balances with profit. Profit is the difference between the total amount your business earns and all of its costs. You may be able to forecast a good profit for the year, yet still face times when you are strapped for cash. Your cash over the month might look good but there may still be weekly cash flow spikes where you may be short on cash because money has not arrived when expected or an order has been delayed through no fault of your own. There will always be a delay between you paying your overheads and direct costs before your customers pay you money. Standard invoicing terms are 30 days from date of invoice although this can vary depending on the type of business you are in. This means as a minimum you need to fund all your business expenses for at least a month. I would advise having two months available. To trade effectively and be able to grow your business, you need to build up cash balances by ensuring that the timing of cash movements puts you in a positive cash flow situation overall. You should note that income and expenditure cash flows rarely occur together, with inflows often lagging behind. Your aim must be to speed up the inflows and slow down the outflows. Cash inflows Payment for goods or services from your customers.
Receipt of a bank loan. Interest on savings and investments. Shareholder investments. Increased bank overdrafts or loans. Cash outflows Purchase of stock, raw materials or tools. Wages, rents and daily operating expenses. Purchase of fixed assets - PCs, machinery, office furniture, etc. Loan repayments. Dividend payments. Income tax, corporation tax, VAT and other taxes. Reduced overdraft facilities. Many of your regular cash outflows, such as salaries, loan repayments and tax, have to be made on fixed dates. You must always be in a position to meet these payments in order to avoid large fines or a disgruntled workforce. To improve everyday cashflow you can: Ask your customers to pay sooner. Chase debts quicker. Use factoring. Ask for extended credit. Hold minimum stock. Lease rather than buy equipment. There are a number of ways to fund a business: Introduce your own money. Borrow from friends and family. Bank Finance. Invoice Finance. No matter how effective your negotiations with customers and suppliers, poor business practices can put your cashflow at risk. Look out for: Poor credit controls - failure to run credit checks on your customers is risky. Failure to fulfil your order - if you don’t deliver on time, or to specification, you won’t get paid. Ineffective marketing - if your sales are stagnating or falling, revisit your marketing plan.
Inefficient ordering service - make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Where possible, accept orders over the telephone, email or internet. Ensure catalogues and order forms are clear and easy to use. Poor management accounting - keep an eye on key accounting ratios that will alert you to an impending cashflow crisis or prevent you from taking orders you can’t handle. Inadequate supplier management - your suppliers may be overcharging, or taking too long to deliver. Create a supplier management system. Poor control of gross profits or overhead costs - assess where you can cut costs. Consider outsourcing non-core activities such as payroll services. Review your utilities contracts to see whether it is possible to reduce costs by switching tariff or supplier. A cashflow forecast can be an invaluable business tool if it is used effectively. You will need to change and adjust it frequently depending on business activity, payment patterns and supplier demands. It’s helpful to set up a regular review of the forecast, changing the figures in light of your sales, purchases and staff costs. Legislation, interest rates and tax changes will also impact on the forecast. Having a regular review of your cashflow forecast will enable you to: See when problems are likely to occur and sort them out in advance. Identify any potential cash shortfalls and take appropriate action. Ensure you have sufficient cashflow before you take on any major financial commitment. The most important thing to remember is that cash is the lifeblood of your business and that no matter how profitable you are, no cash means the inability to trade and pay creditors as they fall due.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FACE ON THE COVER: THEA GREEN
NAILED IT Entrepreneur of the Year at the Women of the Future Awards in 2010 and awarded an MBE for services to the beauty industry, Thea Green tells how she became a manicured multi-millionaire with the launch of her company, nails inc
Words: Emma Morgan t 35, Thea Green has established herself as a leading name within the business world and has effectively revolutionised the beauty industry. Since launching nails inc in 1999, the businesswoman, once labelled ‘phenomenal’ by Nick Clegg, has gone from strength to strength, and is now the owner of a multi-million pound business. When nails inc first hit the market, the company quickly established itself as one of the world’s most successful and convenient nail bar chains. An instant hit, especially amongst cash-rich, time-poor working women, the company now has 59 nail bars across the UK and Ireland, with concessions in Harvey Nichols, Selfridges,
Fenwick and House of Fraser. Moving from fashion journalist to full-time entrepreneur, Green explained how the USP of nails inc was born: ‘At the time I was fashion editor at Tatler magazine, and was spending a lot of time in New York with work. I became hooked on their $10 manicures and it was then that I came up with the idea. In New York, there were nail bars on every corner, with women of all ages getting manicures done in their lunch hour. I was amazed no one had introduced a chain of nail bars in the UK.’ Shortly after her revelation, Green left Tatler to set up the business, but her decision came only following in-depth research. She said: ‘I tested the idea out on friends and family and researched manufacturers to help create the right quality of product. I then moved on to more formal focus groups and spoke with
THE FIRST TWO YEARS ARE PROBABLY THE MOST DIFFICULT BUT THEY ARE ALSO THE MOST EXCITING TOO
cosmetics industry experts and other entrepreneurs to understand both the business and the creative.’ Like most start-ups, Green faced the challenge of securing funding: ‘I launched during the dot com era and investors were very focused on Internet businesses at that time. I spent a lot of time meeting a variety of potential backers and convincing them to put their money into a new cosmetics brand, and the time and effort paid off. I secured the initial £200,000 of seed capital I needed to set up the business.’ After raking together the required start-up funding, the next step for Green was prioritising the spending. ‘The key priorities were to manufacture a product range, secure a site for our flagship London store and employ and train enough staff,’ she said. Having tackled the various ways to secure funds, Green offers her inside knowledge for start ups pitching to investors: ‘Put together a solid business plan and get it signed off by an accountant. Be yourself, explain the opportunity simply and clearly and know your numbers. Fifty per cent of the decision is the business itself and the rest is them buying into you as an
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FACE ON THE COVER: THEA GREEN
OF THE DECISION IS THE BUSINESS ITSELF AND THE REST IS INVESTORS BUYING INTO YOU AS AN ENTREPRENEUR
entrepreneur. Do an equal job on both.’ some key members who have strengths Nails inc began to flourish, with the where you are weak.’ first store opening on South Molton Street As nails inc continues at the forefront of in just eight months. Green said: ‘The the UK nail market, Green has established transition from journalism to running my herself as a talented businesswoman and own business was incredibly exciting and multi-tasker, successfully balancing a I learned a whole range of new skills very thriving business and home life. Being an quickly. Without big advertising budgets to entrepreneur, wife and mother is all in a compete with the multinationals, you have days work. ‘I actually find being a mother to be very creative to stand out. It’s hard helps me in my work, rather than being a work but also very fulfilling.’ challenge. I don’t sweat the small stuff and The dedication, hard work and creative it’s great for developing your people skills. marketing triumphed, as just over ten years I’m much more patient.’ on, nails inc turns over more than £13m a It’s not just busy women on the hunt for year and has an average of 10,000 a manicure that are thankful for Green’s customers per week. Though Green may talent. Last year, the founder received an be relishing her business success, those MBE for her service to the beauty industry first two years, like many start-ups, and in 2010 was named Entrepreneur of the brought tough times. ‘After you’ve secured Year at the Women of the Future Awards. the funding, turning your idea into a real Speaking of her achievements, she said: business can be quite overwhelming in the ‘It’s fantastic to win business awards, and early days. The first two years are probably I was extremely honoured when I received the most difficult but they are also the most the MBE for my services to the industry, but exciting too. My advice would be to make I couldn’t have achieved everything without sure your numbers stack up and that you’ve a fantastic team. It’s spurred us all on to costed for growth – there is nothing worse achieve even greater things. than having a good business without ‘As an entrepreneur and as a boss, it’s enough capital for growth. really encouraging to receive external ‘I really enjoyed learning all of the recognition, but most of all it reminds me elements that transformed my initial idea into how lucky I am to be doing a job I love and a real business. I love my job and I’m feel passionate about.’ motivated by continuing to build the business.’ If that inspires you to achieve bigger and From hiring its first employee in 1999, better things, Green provides us with her top nails inc now has a staff of over 400, but tips for business - and who knows, someday what is that particular something that soon you may have that MBE in your reach. makes somebody worth hiring? For Green, ‘What should budding entrepreneurs take into it’s all about enthusiasm: ‘I look for consideration? Everything. Do your research. someone who has a passion for what Ask for advice – it’s available, it’s free and they do. We have some incredibly you will learn valuable information talented and creative teams from it. There comes a time who work within our stores. when you just have to take ‘There is We are a service business the plunge and that’s the noThing worse and customers come to difference between the Than having a feel pampered and ones that do and the ones good business special. I like to see a that just talk about it. wiThouT enough can-do attitude, an ‘Once you’ve done your capiTal for innovative approach and a research and created your growTh’ calm head when situations business plan, have faith in get stressed. My advice is to your own abilities, have faith employ a strong team and find in your idea and just go for it.’
THEA GREEN LANDMARKS
Opened first store in South Molton Street, London
Start of roll out of nail bars in department stores throughout the UK – John Lewis, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Harvey Nichols
The 50th nails Inc outlet opens (Cork, Ireland)
nails inc hits £10million sales mark
nails inc launches sister brand Get Lashed, offering eyebrow threading, lash tinting and false eyelash application
nails inc polish on sale in Henri Bendel department store in New York Green win Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award at Women of the Future Awards
Green awarded MBE for services to the beauty industry First year exceeding £1m profit before tax target nails inc signs distribution agreement with Sephora to launch brand into North America and South Africa
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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OLYMPIC OPPORTUNITIES OPINION
The 2012 London Olympics will create plenty of business winners, says Julia Payne, co-founder of Incisive Edge
ext year, the world’s largest sporting event comes to Great Britain, and with it a myriad of opportunities for UK businesses. If – as a business owner or director – you haven’t already begun to focus on how you can maximise your company’s chances for generating revenue through the Olympics, then now is the time to act. Consider how you can become part of the success story, and how you can shape up your business to be part of what will be a lasting legacy. According to The Olympic Delivery Agency (ODA), there will be an estimated 75,000 businesses which benefit from the Olympics in some way or another. If you are a small business thinking about getting involved now, then you need to begin researching possible opportunities and openings. Organisations across a range of sectors could play a central role – from catering to transport, security to retail. Clearly, a large number of contracts have already been awarded, but begin making enquiries with the ODA, LOCOG or the British Olympics Association (BOA) to see if there is anything suitable in your sector. In June 2012, all eyes will be on London – whether it’s spectators from overseas who come to watch the Games, or where they are televised across the world. As a result, there will be significant PR and marketing opportunities for business that are part of the event – on a local, national and international level. While few companies have the marketing budgets of the sponsors, there is no reason why they can’t maximise their exposure with focused marketing activities. And focus is the key word, whether relating to exposure for the Olympics or your business generally. Too many companies leave marketing to chance, undertaking it in a haphazard manner, failing to measure their ROI and then wishing they had a larger budget to solve their problems.
Marketing needs to drive profitable revenue and is there to support your sales activity, not to be undertaken in isolation. To maximise your budget, start planning now and ensure focused marketing forms the backbone of your strategy for 2012, especially in the run up to the Games. If you are looking to foster and develop relations with existing and new clients, then itcould present the perfect platform for corporate hospitality, which exists to build relationships with your clients. Focused hospitality around a particular event, even if watching it on TV, can leverage your company’s messages and pay huge dividends in the long term. The Olympics makes 2012 hospitality a memorable experience, which your clients will associate positively with your business. But, be
mindful of the newly enforceable Bribery Act – think about the overall context. You only have to look at the cities which have previously hosted the Olympics to gauge the levels of success the event brings. The Olympic Park becomes a tourist site, and somewhere that people want to visit. Make the most of this legacy, and the fact that Great Britain will be associated with the world’s biggest sporting event. London and other areas associated with the Olympics will remain in the spotlight for many years to come, and tourism numbers should continue to rise.
Incisive Edge 0800 433 4044 www.incisive-edge.com
Julia Payne is co-founder of Incisive Edge a business consultancy which helps companies to grow by developing a monetising strategy to increase their market share. It also advises clients to make sustained and significant improvements to their performance by driving every aspect of revenue. She is an accredited coach, and one half of the successful ‘Profit Doctor’s’ team; working closely alongside David Bowler.
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
023_TB03_Opinion Julia Payne_v2gh.ga.indd 23
MY LEADER December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
START UP TIPS FEATURE
Author and freelance journalist, Peter Bartram discusses leadership qualities – how to recognise them and how to nurture them. Acknowledging your own shortcomings and ensuring you employ someone for the vital tasks can be what makes or breaks a start up company 25
drian Lomas, managing director of £1m-turnover Blueleaf, which designs and builds websites, learnt his lesson about leadership the hard way. Lomas started the company as a full-service design agency. He recalls: ‘On one occasion, we landed a great contract and our team of six were working late nights, pitching in to complete the job on time – the vibe was fantastic.’ Except that Lomas had failed to keep his eye on that most fundamental of business to essentials – cashflow. He says: t o ’ve gvital ‘My advisers suggested we u o Y ‘ a o t e made redundancies and folded v u a h in Yoake the company. But how could I k r a t sp nt to affect so many people? s ’ wa leader itY’ ‘Instead, I refinanced our l n i o b house, put the money into the onsi resp company and set myself the challenge to learn from the best to never be in that situation again.’ Now Lomas leads his company by involving all staff members in cashflow forecasts. www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
START UP TIPS FEATURE
‘it se shamems a e was te a to rece good ssio n’
QUALITIES THAT MAY HAVE SUITED THE LEADER IN THOSE START-UP STAGES MAY BE TRICKIER WHEN THEY HAVE TO PUT SYSTEMS AND PROCEDURES IN PLACE One of Lomas’ staff describes his leadership style as ‘unconventional and informal’. She says: ‘He is values driven, very much a people person, and believes strongly in treating others how they would like to be treated themselves.’ John Adair, the founder of Adair International, is one of the world’s leading gurus on leadership. His books on the subject, such as How to Grow Leaders, sell in thousands. He says: ‘Leadership is about introducing change but also doing it before the competition. There is a sense of urgency about leadership. Leaders tend to be impatient and want to get on to grow and develop the business.’ Adair admits that leadership in a small or medium-sized company poses a special challenge. That’s because the SME leader has to span three types of leadership – strategic, operational and team leadership. In order to do this successfully, Adair says, a leader needs the quality of ‘phronesis’ – essentially practical wisdom. ‘It’s a combination of intelligence, experience and goodness,’ he says. Leaders in start-up companies need to adopt a dynamic energising approach
believes Dr Richard Bolden, head of the Centre for Leadership Studies at Exeter University Business School. ‘The challenge for leaders in SMEs is that they don’t have the systems and structures in place that large organisations have - and which make life easier,’ he says. Owner-managers have to be active across the whole range of operations. They find themselves doing everything from making the tea and photocopying to developing the corporate strategy and winning funding. In the start-up stage, you’re looking for entrepreneurial qualities, such as being able to draw in resources, create energy and interest, and engage with external stakeholders.’ Bolden adds: ‘As the company starts to grow and become more mature, you need to get into issues of how you manage and motivate a workforce of people. That can be a challenging transition for SMEs. Qualities that may have suited the leader in those start-up stages may be trickier when they have to put systems and procedures in place. They also have to manage continuity and stability as well as growth and change.’ Adair points out that the leader of a
YOU NEED TO GET INTO ISSUES OF HOW YOU MANAGE AND MOTIVATE A WORKFORCE
growing company needs to have a vision of what he or she wants the company to be like in four or five years. ‘They’re creating tomorrow’s company out of today’s company so they have to be focused on the future but in practical ways.’ The great SME leaders, says Adair, build teamwork. ‘They create a kind of corporate energy that moves along,’ he says. ‘They’re very good at managing talent – at identifying the strengths and limitations of people and building, particularly releasing the creativity in people. Creativity is about having new ideas, and innovation is about bringing them to market - and that calls for teamwork. The best SMEs are notable for encouraging creativity among their people and also having the skills to bring that creativity to the market.’ So, like Adrian Lomas, is it possible to learn leadership skills? ‘You must have a certain potential to be a leader,’ says Adair. ‘You’ve got to have a vital spark in you to want to take on a leader’s responsibility. ‘If you’ve got the basic human qualities of leadership – enthusiasm, integrity, humanity, warmth and humility – you can develop leadership effectively. But you will never turn somebody who’s just an ordinary person into a leader.’ Bolden says that in SMEs, the need for true leadership often manifests itself in a practical business challenge – such as how to deal with more competition in the market. ‘When you dig behind what initially seems like a technical problem, it becomes a leadership challenge,’ he says. Just the kind of leadership challenge that made Lomas step up the plate in the depths of the recession. He decided to change the whole focus of his business away from a full-service agency to the design and build of websites. ‘It was a brave move to get rid of the core part of the business, retrain the team that needed it, and change the offer of a 10-year-old company,’ he says. But the decision has proved spectacularly right. The business has ‘gone through the roof’ and margins have improved. ‘The total clarity of the business has helped us to rise. It seems a shame to waste a good recession,’ he adds.
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
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SAY GOODBYE TO E-MAIL – ONLINE COLLABORATION IS THE NEW BLACK
The workplace is changing. It no longer stops at the office door. Most of us now work at home, on the train, in the coffee shop, even in the car. We regularly work with people we hardly ever see, let alone share desk space with. You could even argue the workplace is now pushing into our own personal space. This change is driven by continual reductions in the cost of computer memory and connectivity. Internet access is a utility that’s almost everywhere. Laptops, tablets and smart phones are now commodity items that handle a huge array of interactive applications. Soon enough we’re all going to end up being online all the time. The make-up of the workforce has changed too. A new generation that has only ever known the ubiquity of internet access is now a significant part of the corporate world. This generation of employees has grown up
using instant messaging and social media applications to communicate in their personal lives. And they are now bringing these same communications tools into their corporate lives. So, just as businesses have reached out beyond their corporate firewall to use global communications platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, a new set of cloud based communications technologies has entered into the commercial environment. The adoption of these technologies – such as Box.net for sharing content or Yammer for creating business social networks is – being driven by younger corporate users who expect networked, online collaboration to be the norm everywhere – in business and in private life. However, enterprises are not individuals and need to provide structure and organization to the way their employees communicate and collaborate. Because of
this, the future trend we see for corporate communications is increasing adoption of collaboration technologies but only with products that are engineered to meet corporate expectations in terms of security, structure and scalability. These kinds of products are now becoming available to corporate buyers. Examples range from Microsoft’s Sharepoint – which is a powerful tool but can be very costly to implement – through to pure play, easy to deploy technologies such as Huddle or a new entrant to the market, CoBooCo. We are convinced that regardless of which product becomes the dominant player in this new marketplace, the need and demand for online business collaboration technologies will continue to soar. Smeeta Patel, Managing Director CoBooCo
december 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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DAVID JAMILLY INTERVIEW
‘wh en com you you it mpetitihave hav ean on s e a be g bus your ra ine se gratefulss lf cio an us’ d
WHERE THERE’S A WILL
Entrepreneur, Secret Millionaire participant, author and all-round nice guy, David Jamilly shares the secrets of his success
ith just one glance it’s a safe assumption to make – David Jamilly is a party man. His positive, friendly and easy-going manner is mixed with an unassuming, unflappable presence, topped off with a hint of hippy. However, to what extent might come as a shock to people who meet him. Jamilly and his younger sister, Kim - both self-proclaimed party lovers - have been behind some of www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
031-032_TB03_David Jamilly_v1gh.ga.indd 31
INTERVIEW DAVID JAMILLY
ul ssfeurs e c n c ‘su epre keep r o t en ave t ginge h han wis e c er com oth’ll bect’ y n the defu
London’s biggest, brightest, most lavish and memorable parties, and he regularly travels the world lecturing on how to orchestrate parties and events. Jamilly’s recently released book, Party People: How We Make Millions from Having Fun, is a refreshing mixture of autobiography and entrepreneur guide. It follows the quirky siblings’ mission to turn partying into a successful business and shares the secrets of how they established their reputation as the premier purveyors of note-perfect parties, whether that was by design or happy accident. Despite a stellar report card and parental opposition, Jamilly left school at 15 and worked a catalogue of jobs, from serving in his father’s shop to a motorbike courier. It was twenty years further down the line that, as Jamilly says; ‘by default and also by destiny’ the sibling’s made the transition from penniless kid’s performers (Spaceman Sam and the Red Elephant), to heading events empire, Theme Traders. His firm has grown to become a hugely successful multi-million-pound art, design and production company, specialising in creative parties, event production - not forgetting 9,000sq m of props for hire and filming locations - all from a standing start. With some of the biggest names and brands on its books, including the Royal Household for the Queen’s 80th birthday party, Theme Traders obviously excels in providing the ‘wow factor’ time and time again. The party industry hasn’t always been an easy business to be in. Soon after its launch, event planning became the thing to do, and Theme Traders went from a niche market to just one of many, so the owners had to fight to stay ahead of the crowd. It has survived two recessions as a luxury business - often the first casualties of hard times - as well as all encompassing changes to regulations, such as H&S. How does he do it? Adaptability and Jamilly’s mantra: ‘never, never, never give
up’ are instrumental. He says: ‘Successful entrepreneurs have to keep changing – otherwise they’ll become defunct. Theme Traders is constantly adapting. When everyone else was concentrating on party planning, we built up the props side of our business. Now the props industry is saturated, we’re looking towards the media and film industry. We have to keep moving and we have to stay one step ahead of the game.’ Jamilly’s advice continues: ‘Treat everyone with the same respect and courtesy – the motorbike courier who delivers your parcel may be your best client in the future. ‘When you have competition it means you have yourself a business - be grateful and gracious towards your competitors. ‘Always remember client’s names and use them – people are always flattered by the sound of their own name. ‘One great deal or client doesn’t mean you have a business – it is long term endurance and lots of successes (and failures) that build up business empires.’ His own business tips and mantra, coupled with a passion to make people smile
ONE GREAT DEAL OR CLIENT DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
has allowed Jamilly to build an impressive set of humanitarian and charitable accomplishments. He succeeded in nurturing Pod, a children’s charity founded in 1977 when he volunteered to do a show in a children’s ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital, through both recessions. Pod continues to bring magic, fun and laughter to sick children in hospitals and hospices all over the UK, and has reached out to more than half a million kids to date. He also co-founded Kindness Day UK and the Good Deeds Organisation before appearing in a specially extended edition of the TV show, Secret Millionaire. Following the making of the programme, he continues to visit Redcar on Teesside, where he has become a local celebrity, and co-founder of a free community festival, Fire and Steel. His book, Party People documents how Jamilly’s luxury party business has developed over a period of twenty years, the ups and downs of running a business and how to throw a memorable party. A ‘warts and all’ account filled with practical and transferable tips, ranging from how to set effective targets to how not to be intimidated in meetings, Party People is a savvy read for any budding entrepreneur. As Jamilly sees it, where there’s a will there’s a way. And it’s this quality that he believes will ensure that he is still at the top of his game in five years time.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
031-032_TB03_David Jamilly_v1gh.ga.indd 32
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INTERVIEW RICH MARTELL
From mischievous student to successful businessman, Rich Martell, tells how he has established himself as one of the most dynamic Internet entrepreneurs in the UK
he controversial launch of FitFinder in 2010, a website designed to make sharing the whereabouts of mutually attractive students easier, made Martell a young Internet sensation, catching the eye of former ‘Dragon’, Doug Richards. Now owner of Floxx, a location-based social network that allows users to share the real world based purely on location and time, the 22-year-old entrepreneur has been called the UK’s answer to Mark Zuckerberg.
would be being on the England rugby team, the next it would be a Championship F1 driver. The fact that I’ve been running my own business for a while and still love it has got to be a good sign.
When did you realise you had a passion and flair for business?
How important do you believe education is towards becoming a successful businessman?
I think growing up with parents who are very business minded (my dad is an entrepreneur and my mum owns a chain of restaurants) made sure that I was attuned to the business world from a young age; I’ve always enjoyed reading up on current events and economics.
Have you always had entrepreneurial tendencies?
What influenced your choice of university degree? I wasn’t intending to do Computer Science at university, but I chose to do IT at school because I really liked the teacher. I’m not sure what I would have chosen to do if I hadn’t done something with computers.
I think it’s a very important element of it, but I don’t think education always has to take place in the classroom – just look at entrepreneurs like Sir Alan Sugar, who left school at 16, and Sir Richard Branson for proof of this. I taught myself a lot of the basics and shortcuts in my own time, and I think you can learn a lot from the experiences of others.
I suppose it all started when I started a tuck shop at school. Despite beating the prices of my rival, the school’s official tuck ‘PeoPle out shop, I kept a healthy there have profit margin and it made already made me pretty popular. thousands of
What career did you aspire too as a youngster? I think, like most children, I wanted a new career every couple of weeks – one week it
Why did you choose social networking as your business path?
In many ways, it was something of a coincidence. The products I built naturally mistakes and started taking that route, good decisions; and I just went with it. I’ve see if you always been into social can learn networking; I’ve used from them’ Twitter for a long time and I started using Facebook pretty
much as soon as it launched in the UK. Still, I never intended, nor do I intend to create a competitor to sites like these. I will, however, admit it was very cool walking through a computer cluster in the university library and seeing everyone on a website I had built.
How did you come up with the initial idea of FitFinder? People are always fairly shocked to find out that the site was originally a joke between me and my friends – me and other guys on the rugby team would text each other when we saw an attractive girl (mature, I know), and the site was a more effective way of doing that.
TB: After coming up with the idea, what was your next step? Well, as I soon found out, the site turned out to be much more than just a joke, the site spread quicker and more widely than I could have imagined. My next step was to try to keep up with people’s demands and add more feeds for other universities.
Your university staff shut down FitFinder. What had you planned to do following this action? Although I understand where UCL was coming from, I was disappointed that they were trying to shut down a site that was no more distracting than Facebook. Between the time FitFinder went down and we launched Floxx, a site called LikeALittle effectively cloned FitFinder in the USA, and it has since amassed a huge amount of funding. It’s difficult not to imagine what might have been if I’d had the same sort of encouragement they had.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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RICH MARTELL INTERVIEW
Describe your business style in three words? Enthusiastic; personal; disruptive!
What advice would you give to those looking to launch an Internet business? Learn from others. People out there have already made thousands of mistakes and good decisions; see if you can learn from them without having to make them yourself. Also make sure you have a strong USP. If people ask you why they would want to use your product and you can’t give them an answer, that isn’t a good sign.
What tips can you give when pitching to investors for funding? Know exactly what you’re going to say, but try not to be too shaken if the investor takes things slightly off that course. Think of the questions you don’t want them to ask and figure out how to answer them - because they probably will ask them.
Once you’ve established a successful business, how do you progress it? I think it’s really important to maintain a fresh and vibrant brand. Whether you do this by forming partnerships with other cutting edge brands, franchising to increase traction or making your product viral. It really depends on the type of business.
In your opinion, what is the key to success?
IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN A FRESH AND VIBRANT BRAND Doug Richards saw your potential and decided to invest in the company. What part has he played in your success? Despite the seed of money’s obvious usefulness, Doug’s involvement was really helpful in getting the press involved – as a Dragon who had invested in less than a handful of businesses while he was on the
show, the fact that he had chosen to invest in me made quite a strong statement.
What are the main factors that have contributed to your success? I think we’ve done a good job of building a great network of contacts in the London tech scene that we try to keep in touch with, especially when we’re releasing new products.
I don’t think there’s just one key to success – if there was, a lot more people would be successful. I think a balance of passion, good contacts, a great product and a healthy dose of personality goes a long way. A bottomless wallet also helps!
What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years? I’d love to revolutionise social networking by enabling people to interact with people they don’t necessarily already know and connect people’s online and offline lives in an enriching and exciting way. I suppose making my fortune would also be nice.
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
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BEST PRACTICE BRANDING
BEST PRACTISE: BRANDING 36
When it comes to branding, many believe it’s all about the logo and possibly – if you want to be a little flash – a catchy slogan. Oh no. There’s much more to it than that. In fact, branding is involved in everything you and your employees do – from answering the phone to advertising, and posting updates on Twitter. Confused? Never fear, we’re here to help ... Words Rianna Fry
herever you are, take a look around and experience special?’ Artus adds. you’ll witness branding in action. Whether Brands must think outside the box, it’s the packaging on your lunch, business and agencies must create cards picked up from a networking event concepts for their client, based or stationery on a client’s email, it’s a way on the client’s needs and not their of communicating a message to the own wants. ‘It’s not that difficult if consumer, letting them know what you you look at the problem have on offer and providing them with a holistically, but herein lies the corporate promise. ‘It is the DNA of a problem; silos internally and silos product as well as the tone of voice in externally trying to work together but which that brand expresses itself,’ says with slightly different agendas.’ Mark Artus of 1HQ. There’s no question that branding is a It’s important when you start looking continually evolving process, however the one at branding that you consider the wider thing that remains the same for a great brand picture. In order to stand out today you’ll is what it stands for. ‘The brand should need to make a serious impact differentiate you from everyone as, let’s face it, consumer else,’ says Artus. ‘In a world expectations do nothing of indifference, branding but rise. ‘One hard branding; is absolutely critical.’ question that brands –noun *the process of creating For start ups it’s vital should be asking a bespoke name and image for an to get your branding today is ‘how do we organisation to implant in a consumers right from the offset, make our mind, mainly through advertising, with instantly making an a fluid theme. The aim is to build a impact when significant differentiated presence to delivering your attract and maintain loyal customers. message – if it * In layman’s terms it’s all about doesn’t work, your www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk reflecting a positive company company is likely to for more adVice from carolyn image that’ll draw experience difficulties. customers to you. When you first begin michel on getting your logo right to focus on branding, have at the back of your mind who
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
top tips for triumphant branding
Consider your branding to be a living being that requires constant nurturing for it to grow.
you are as a company, and where you’re going. You must have an attitude of insurgence and be able to distinguish an influential moment. I’m sure you’ll recognise the crude expression for the inability to shine something of no value? Well, that stands with branding. A great idea is a great idea, nothing less will be worth investing into. You must have a clear message to communicate and to do this, research will
be required. It won’t be enough to merely snap your fingers or twitch your nose to generate something magic – sorry chaps. ‘In this climate, if you’re able to go a little deeper into the understanding of what defines culture, you can get a deeper insight into ensuring that you’re creating the right idea,’ adds Artus. Once this is established, you’re ready to look into your options and to translate it via branding that’ll succeed. For many, the first stop is to create a logo, which will give an impression of your services to all who see it, so it must be well-designed. If you’ve ever considered selecting an image from Microsoft Clip Art, then shame on you! ‘There are some great examples of businesses that have skimped on the logo and then moved into the big time, stuck with their initial design,’ tells Carolyn Michel, logo designer and partner in Logopro. ‘It didn’t stop them succeeding but perhaps it made a difference to the speed at which their business blossomed. Then there are those businesses that didn’t make it off the starting block because they failed to make their business, service or product distinctive in an effective way.’ You can get a professional logo created from around £250, which could well be one of your most valued investments – after all, it’ll be used on a daily basis. At the primary stages of starting up, cash may well be in short supply. However this is no reason to skimp on branding. ‘A positive brand image comes from a good idea and the right attitude - and those are both free,’ advices Artus. Social media is a great platform to establish a positive brand image, yet you must be intelligent with your use of it. Essentially it’s all about your company, who you are and what you offer. It’s important to manage how you portray yourself, your company and the behaviour of your employees – they are a great representation of your brand. Ultimately, branding isn’t an isolated entity or a measurable addition to a new company. In reality it merely serves your company, encapsulating the essence of what’s on offer. Get it right and you’re on to a winner.
Be crystal clear from the offset as to who your customers are, and what you can offer that others can’t. Once these two things are understood, stick to them.
Identify the most effective way to communicate your customer promise. If you’re short on cash, smart PR is a great way to get exposure, and to generate word of mouth amongst consumers (just ask the founders of Innocent).
It’s never been more important to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. Don’t just say what you do – do what you say!
Wherever possible, take a distinctive stance in the market in which you operate – occupying the middle ground only leaves you open to attack from more angles.
Continually expand your knowledge of your customer, but don’t expect answers from them, only clues.
Remember there will always be an emotional, sometimes irrational component in a customers’ relationship with your brand. It can’t always be controlled but understanding it will allow you to influence it.
Change is inevitable. Brands must evolve with the times, yet this mustn’t tempt you to abandon founding principles in favour of latest trends.
After the deepest recession, trust is in short supply. Brands with authenticity, responsibility and integrity will prosper. With times still difficult and budgets still tight, focus is essential. Often we spend too much time coming up with answers, and not enough on ensuring we’ve got the right question.
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TAKE ONE COMPANY FEATURE
IN WITH THE IN CROWD
With youth unemployment taking centre stage, Will Akerman was inspired to create opportunities and build futures 39
ill Akerman, MD of MyKindaCrowd, has a background in education and training; most recently as MD of CragRats (UK), which provides training to students in schools, colleges and universities in employability and career skills. ‘I firmly believe that audience engagement is the bedrock of learning. CragRats delivers with a blend of live theatre, facilitated workshops, e-learning and media,’ he explains. In early 2010, based on the insight in education he’d experienced, Akerman realised that students consistently fail to meaningfully connect with the world of work. ‘Of course there are exceptions; perhaps an
individual teacher or lecturer has strong links with an individual employer, but these are exceptions,’ he tells us. ‘Furthermore, this is not new. The bottom line is that two interdependent communities fail to connect.’ Two years ago, Akerman noticed niche industries utilising crowd-sourcing to improve efficiencies. ‘A kit-car manufacturer tried asking its previous and future customers for their input in designing the next model. Everything from the body shape to the engine was open to the ‘crowd’. Good ideas stuck, whilst bad ideas got kicked out. The end result was the most successful model and highest number of sales to date.’ At that moment, he knew crowd-sourcing could bridge the gap between students and the working world. The www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
FEATURE TAKE ONE COMPANY
BETTER TO HAVE A ROLE TO FILL THAT’S COSTING YOU LITTLE .... fACt file:
Will AKerMAn’S ApprOACh tO buSineSS:
Company founded: June, 2011 Start up capital: Bootstrapped toughest challenge: Managing a very big vision on a very tight budget Advice for start ups today: Ask for help from the very best – great people like helping Most frustrating red tape: Employment law, it lacks flexibility required by start-ups Motivation: One is to really change the world for young people and two, profit. One thing that would help start-ups: Clarity on lending facilities – the Enterprise Loan Guarantee Scheme, 75 per cent underwritten by the Government, is a complete red herring for small companies. We’re encouraged to waste time applying for something that we have no chance of getting
‘believe in your vision, journey began. MyKindaCrowd has believe in yourself. With a vision received recognition be passionate about what you do. to change the and backing from treat everyone with respect. world by connecting leading organisations Always be the customer.’ students in schools, who have signed up to colleges and university with the site. ‘More magazine employers, Akerman created are heroes for believing in MyKindaCrowd. It’s a website us so early,’ explains Akerman. that utilises the crowd-sourcing ‘As are Thales, and now Fujitsu, concept in a new and mutually beneficial way. Arup, Logica, and IBM. ‘ Companies set relevant real life challenges, Having spent modest amounts on PR and students respond with ideas and and marketing, word-of-mouth and social solutions. In return, they receive rewards media have got the company noticed. including work-experience, internships, ‘However we hope to increase our profile in prizes and even jobs. the future pro-actively, through great Initially Akerman felt that it was challenges and proof of just how valuable imperative to have the right team on board, the site is,’ Akerman says. which he’d recommend other start-ups also During the setting-up stages of the take into account. ‘Hire slowly, fire quickly company, Akerman found getting the site (and fairly!) – better to have a role to fill that built to be the biggest challenge; ‘It was is costing you little, than a filled role that is hugely frustrating, and hugely expensive. I costing you your business,’ he advices didn’t budget for all the inevitable setbacks,’ Although the company didn’t seek he said. However, as with all companies, initial financial backing, Akerman still felt many lessons were learned along the way, there were enough resources available to the biggest of which for Akerman was to him. ‘Support is out there, you just need to believe in himself. ‘If you doubt an expert’s look. If you’re very lucky you’ll avoid time advice and your instincts are telling you wasters. The trick is to go on otherwise, go with it! It’s more likely you’re recommendations and don’t pay for advice right and they’re wrong – don’t be deflected or support.’ Since it was launched, by other people’s visions.’
The concept was put to the test in June when the site launched – just 12 weeks later, 70 per cent of universities and 15 per cent of all schools and colleges have signed up. ‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime concept. People get it. People believe in what we are trying to do. Our team stretches from the office to every teacher and student, right through to everyone who’s given us help and advice. And the same is true of companies who are setting challenges; these are companies who are part of our journey.’ As it stands, the company is now seeking expansion capital. ‘We’ve received great support from angel networks, including E-Synergy, and social business network, ClearlySo,’ Akerman says. ‘We’ve received expressions of interest from high net worth individuals right the way through to VC funds. We’ve also been approached by a corporate giant interested in taking a majority stake – I explained that they couldn’t afford us!’ MyKindaCrowd’s future looks set fair, with the site expected to evolve within five years, into a global destination, raising the career aspirations of young people all over the world. And turnover wise? Akerman forecasts funds of £100m plus.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FEATURE SALES TRAINING
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS Author and sales management guru, John Treace looks at what not to do when managing a sales team I have been part of many business turnarounds in my career, and in all situations I’ve noted the errors consistently made by sales management, all of which negatively impact team morale and sales. Here’s my seven deadliest sins:
Conflicts with marketing”
‘We have all heard of the traditional conflict between sales and marketing. The sales team says the product is priced too high or not what the customer wants, or that the marketing programmes are ineffective. Marketing may say the sales force is not well trained, too small, ineffective, or offer a myriad of other complaints. Sometimes these are valid complaints, and good management will identify and address them. But if they aren’t valid, or if they are merely excuses for poor performance, it is imperative that management recognize this situation. ‘There is nothing worse than having the sales and marketing departments at each other’s throats. This is a formula for business failure, and powerful management will work to create collaboration and understanding between the two groups. ‘I was once employed to affect a business turnaround in an organisation that had conflict in the sales and marketing departments. Since the overall corporate sales results were lacking, both groups blamed the other for the failure. Prior management was unable to fix the situation, and the blame game expanded to serious inter-departmental conflict. ‘To overcome this situation, we employed a consultant skilled in strategic planning processes and team building. We conducted a two-day offsite meeting designed to bring the sales and marketing groups together and show them they must function as a team for success. As a result, the relationship evolved so that if marketing was late introducing a new product, sales management would pick up the slack with promotions on existing products. Conversely, if sales anticipated a tough quarter, marketing would work to release a new product ahead of schedule. Teamwork between sales and marketing isn’t a sometimes thing; it is critical to the success of a high-velocity organization.
Poor people management:
Powerful investment groups don’t invest in companies; they invest in people. People are the most important ingredient in any organisation. At the heart of highperformance organisations is management that obtains the willing cooperation of others to achieve its goals. To gain the willing cooperation of others, employees must see that management genuinely cares about them, that they can trust management’s word, and that management focuses on distinction in all aspect of the business. I once worked for a company whose upper management failed in all those respects. At this company, management continually changed policies, to the point that the sales team no longer trusted its leadership. Sales reps came late to meetings and were unprepared. In short, the message management sent to the sales force was that they didn’t care, were not to be trusted, and were not committed to building a powerful business. This company had a continual revolving door of salespeople, and it eventually failed. Another common mistake is not acting on low performers fast enough. In every failed business I have worked with, I have found a number of sales people who should have been moved to another position. You do no favours by keeping a failing employee around, unless you are confident a correction can be affected. One word of caution, though: most failing businesses do not have metrics that effectively judge individual sales performance, so care should be taken when identifying low and high performers. Another error—the reverse of too few terminations—is aggressive termination. To avoid both extremes, remember that it isn’t who you fire that counts, but who you hire. The proper hire will not need to be terminated. Always look for a track record of success in candidates. Hiring the proper people and creating a culture of mutual trust is a vital component of good people management.
Not holding people accountable:
Holding people accountable for their performance is a cornerstone of powerful organisations, but
you would be surprised at the number of companies that don’t consistently do this. This is especially true during trying times, when management is inclined to lighten up on performance standards. During a downturn, it is better to reduce quota requirements than look the other way on non-performance. When we don’t consistently hold people accountable for their performance shortfalls, it sends a message that management is weak and not confident in the goals it sets. This will erode morale as well as confidence in management.
Poor award programmes:
Award programmes need to be seen as achievable and fair. Reps need to see that the playing field is level and that everyone has a shot at winning recognition. It is amazing how many companies have award programmes that are slanted in favour of a few preferred individuals. This sends a morale-damaging message to all reps, including the favoured ones: that some are valued over others.
Changes to the sales process:
The sales process includes all the steps and procedures a company puts in place on its way to having the product delivered and invoiced. When the sales process is changed or modified, expect the sales force to need time to adjust. For example, the sales team might be required to fill out new reports or obtain price quotes from the corporate office, even if they previously had the freedom to do this themselves. During a period of adjustment to a new process, expect sales to be impacted. When the sales process is changed, all of management should expect sales as well as sales forecasting to be affected and in a direct proportion to the degree and type of change, at least for the short term. Additionally, sales reps generally dislike change. They dont want to spend time learning a new process; they realise that learning the new system will detract from their current efforts. If they see the change as inhibiting their sales, this will impact morale—especially if the change is a non-sales requirement.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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SALES TRAINING FEATURE
If you are faced with needing to modify the sale process, quantify the amount of time the average rep will need to spend on the new non-sales activity, calibrate this lost selling time to lost sales, and advise senior management on the anticipated impact. All management needs to be aware that changing the sales process will affect sales.
Metrics are the numbers that tell us where we have been and where we are headed. They should act as the radar that lets us know well in advance of impending problems. A large number of sales management teams get into trouble due to ineffective metrics—or in extreme cases I’ve seen, no metrics at all. Usually, when we find poor metrics, it is because sales management doesn’t appreciate their value or does not know the business well enough to develop them. Good metrics should allow sales management to confidently predict the quarter’s sales, identify high- and low-performing reps, and develop solutions to problems. In today’s
high-velocity markets, it is imperative to have a solid dashboard of metrics to guide the sales ship and keep it out of trouble.
Lack of understanding:
Failing to know the business at a deep level is one of the surest paths to failure. This has been a prime issue in every struggling business I have worked with. Management that does not know the business at the customer, product, or service level will have difficulty identifying solutions to problems and will lack confidence in the directions they take. At one company where I worked as a sales rep, our regional sales managers were unable to make any presentations to customers, and they didn’t bring any value to the sales process. At another, they were able to present products to customers better than most of the reps. The company with management that had a better understanding of the customer and products was much more powerful. The sales force could not use excuses for poor sales, and conversely,
management understood the valid problems the sales force faced and worked to correct them without blame. The sales force was confident with this management group, but not the other. When sales are going well, the lack of deep business understanding usually does not appear as a problem, but when business is challenged by sagging sales, it is. These are the times when a thorough understanding of the company’s customers, products and services, and sales process is critical. Without it, sales reps cannot be confident in the course taken by management. Changes in the sales process, poor metrics and award programmes, ineffective management, conflicts with marketing, and a lack of business understanding are all deadly to the performance of business. In today’s tough business climate, wise management will review these topics frequently to ensure excellence in their organisations.
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GOING GLOBAL: EMBRACING E-COMMERCE Words Rachel Holland
If you’re not already using e-commerce as a tool for increasing sales and reaching new customers all over the world, you’re going to get left behind. E-commerce is now global, and for savvy entrepreneurs, there are rich pickings to be had
hether you’ve embraced it or side-stepped it, e-commerce is here. ‘Since the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index was launched in April 2000, around £315bn has been spent online, with £69bn estimated to be spent in 2011 alone,’ says David J Smith from IMRG. ‘Having an e-commerce channel is already seen as a must have for retailers and roughly £80bn is expected to change hands between businesses and consumers in 2012. And, despite the recession, it is estimated that domestic e-retail will grow by 18 per cent in 2011,’ he says. Even if you haven’t embraced e-commerce yet, the chances are your competitors have. With potentially valuable revenue to gain and the opportunity to reach new customers the around the world, why wouldn’t you want to get educated in e-commerce? ‘Many people think that e-commerce is somehow completely different to a traditional bricks-and-mortar business it’s not,’ says retail consultant, Bill Brown. ‘All of the same marketing principles apply,
and whatever is currently working for you will continue to work for you, you just need to add a few factors into the mix.’ Whether you are transporting large quantities of perishable goods that require speedy delivery, or you’re selling your own professional services, it all starts with your website. You can either create your own or pay somebody else to create it for you. Just ensure that you check out the track record of whoever you engage to develop your website. ‘One of the major pitfalls facing new start-ups is being fleeced by disreputable web developers,’ says entrepreneur, Jake Cheung, a web start-up consultant and organizer of London’s Entrepreneur Meetup. ‘I’ve seen people being ripped off with some truly dreadful websites that aren’t fit for purpose’. ‘I’ve personally known of horror stories where entire websites have been lost overnight,’ says Brown. ‘This happened quite recently after a website designer failed to host the site with a reputable hosting agency. The site crashed and there was no back-up. Everything was lost: customer database, images, content – everything.’
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
keep improving your site. There are plenty of free analytics tools available, such as Google Analytics. ‘Look at your exit paths and cart abandonment rates,’ says Neal. ‘See if you can solve problems by making changes to certain key pages.’
Another factor to consider as you plan your website, is ensuring it can cater to customers in different countries. ‘Develop a core global website,’ says Joanne Bethlahmy, from Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. ‘If you want to start selling across the borders, your website needs to include specific capabilities for worldwide e-commerce, such as translation functionality and foreign exchange calculations.’ ‘Customers are becoming more educated in their purchase decisions, and they expect key information such as shipping, company history, and your returns policy to be quickly accessible and clear,’ says Angela Neal, who helps businesses create a more effective online presence. Aim to ensure your potential customer can get to any of the information they’ll need in a maximum of two clicks. Trust is a major factor in making online sales. To nurture this trust, put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. They may be inclined to purchase what you are selling, but they’re still going to want direct
Social media, if used effectively, can be helpful way to build and hold on to potential customers. Entrepreneur, Gareth Mitchell, who runs Tree2mydoor.com, uses social media to engage with his customers and start a dialogue with potential partners and suppliers. ‘We use social media a lot. We’ve got a fast growing Facebook presence, lots of great content on our blog and create videos for our YouTube Channel’, he says. Facebook and Twitter can help spread word about your company and, by maintaining a company blog that’s sprinkled with some choice ‘No o keywords (for search engine N to f e waNt optimisation) you can increase corp rieN s your website visitors. Just don’t orat d a hear ioN o get carried away. ‘Too many t h iN ac at ma r businesses are blogging and c g o g doiN uNts ie tweeting for the sake of it,’ says marg a hal is Cheung. ‘No one wants to friend atho f N’ a corporation or hear that Maggie answers to the in accounts is doing a half marathon. following questions: Is Use social media for something this company legitimate? meaningful, such as improving your What if I pay for the product customer service; asking for customer or service and they don’t send it? Who do I feedback; asking customers what you’re contact with a question or complaint? How doing wrong, what you’re doing right. Use do they handle returns and refunds? Get it to deal with customer complaints in these important issues covered and your real-time; offer give-aways to customers potential customer is going to feel to show that you appreciate them. Use comfortable buying from you. Make sure your social media as a platform to demonstrate website provides plenty of contact that you take your customers seriously.’ information. There’s nothing more infuriating than, on closer scrutiny of a company page, Delivering the goods finding the only point of contact with the company is the webmaster’s email address. Online shoppers the world over want value for money, and offering ‘free delivery’ when Show your full company address, phone and where you can is a guaranteed way to numbers and email addresses. boost your sales. If you are selling goods online, factors such as size, weight and Get some analysis perishability need to be (literally) weighed Harnessing the potential that e-commerce up. Look at how your competitors or people can offer you should be considered a work in similar industries to you are doing it. in progress. Only by analysing what you Delivery carriers such as Royal Mail’s are doing, and constantly innovating, will Parcelforce, UPS, or DHL Express all offer you keep up with your competitors. By downloadable software on their websites finding out as much information as you that allow you to track customer orders. can about your website visitors, you can
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
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NOW TALK BUSINESS THE FINAL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Taking an open and honest look at the fight that entrepreneurs face to reach their success, Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those battling through the day-to-day struggles of the current climate.
CYBER WARS FEATURE
Mark Weston, partner at Matthew Arnold and Baldwin, highlights how to prepare for - and defend against - cyber attack
he recent news cycle has been focussed very much around international dangers that have local repercussions. Yes, this has been primarily around the fate of the Euro and the knock-on effects for the UK. But within the same bracket there has also been concerns expressed about cyber attacks from abroad, and the very real economic effects such attacks have on UK companies.
Major-General Jonathan Shaw, the head of the Ministry of Defence’s cyber security programme, has been quoted as saying that cyber attacks represent the biggest threat to national security and that British firms are routinely having valuable commercial information stolen from them by overseas rivals, costing the economy £27bn. Foreign Secretary, William Hague recently convened a major international conference on cyberspace, at which he pushed for a ‘global coordinated response’ to the threat from cyber security attacks. Any organisation with online access
should be quaking in its digital boots – and doing something about it. Even the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the CIA as well as the likes of Sony, Nintendo, Fox and the US Senate have been successfully attacked by the likes of the relatively informal hacking group LulzSec. So what organised groups of foreign government cyber spies (particularly, it has been reported, based in China and Russia) can do is very much a matter of serious concern. LulzSec has now self-avowedly shut up shop, but reports of British companies’ secrets being
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
FEATURE CYBER WARS
plundered through hacking from outside the UK are pouring in. Attacks tend to take two basic forms: technological and human blagging; and as we see below, the latest forms of attack blend a mix of the two, using social networks. If an organisation is hacked for information (rather than just shut down, which is normally the purview of bored teenage hackers or which that organisation is obliged to provide contrarian political groupings) there are information or data, personal or otherwise, commercial and legal implications. from its website or systems – and it cannot Commercially, valuable research and do so because its websites have been hacked development and intellectual property (IP) can - then, according to how most commercial be plundered and a company can easily go out contracts are drafted, if this has occurred of business. Recently for example, a firm in because of something that was within that Warrington, Cheshire, that had designed a organisation’s control – and proper revolutionary blade for wind turbines, went precautions were not taken – there is a bust after hackers stole the blueprint and possibility of being sued for breach of manufactured a cheaper version of it. contract. Any loss or damage suffered by Legally, the responsibilities break down the contracting party could be down to the into three areas: the law on personal data, careless organisation and recoverable from it. which has been created by legislation; the Thirdly, there is the more general ‘duty of law governing anyone the organisation may care’ for someone an organisation does not have a contract with (the law is based on have a contract with. In law, a duty of care is hundreds of years of case law]; and the law owed to anyone sufficiently ‘proximate’. So if on assuming a ‘duty of care’ to others the there is an expectation that someone uses organisation may not have a contract with, services on a website and data on that site is which comes from 79 years of case law. compromised because a site has been In the UK, the law on personal data is hacked, and a user suffers a loss, if the based on eight principles, which come from website operator has been negligent – and the European Data Protection Directive. assuming that user is sufficiently The seventh of those principles states that: ‘proximate’ to that operator - the operator ‘appropriate technical and organisational can find itself being sued for negligence. measures shall be taken against Technological hacking attacks work unauthorised or unlawful processing of because known (and sometimes unknown) personal data and against accidental loss vulnerabilities are exploited. For known or destruction of, or damage to, personal vulnerabilities, the answer is to make sure data.’ In other words, if an organisation has all systems are properly patched. However, personal data on its system, it must make foreign governments are adept and have sure it is secure. the resources to exploit vulnerabilities that How secure is secure? That depends are unknown and not documented. The UK on an understanding of the word ‘appropriate’ Government invested an extra £650m into in that sentence. But it must be right that if developing deterrents to hostile viruses hackers access systems because - split between the GCHQ centre they are not properly patched, in Cheltenham, which is the ‘If an upgraded, virus-checked or hub of Britain’s cyber organIsatIon firewalled, then not enough defence, and the MoD. Is hacked for has been done. The fines Companies without those InformatIon, from the regulators, the kinds of resources must there are reputational damage and look to buy insurance and commercIal the loss of business are otherwise manage the risk. and legal more than enough incentive Human blagging ImplIcatIons’ to invest in securing IT. hacking attacks exploit Secondly, if an organisation people’s trust, often gleaning has a contract with someone, by passwords and valuable data
through skilful and convincing manipulation of an unsuspecting victim who assumes the person they are speaking to is someone else, such as a bank or a Microsoft employee. Gleaning passwords is one route into systems. However, the cyber link also comes in because often convincing emails are sent to trusting victims, with attachments which, when opened, carry viruses or emails with links, which, when clicked access a website with malware which compromises a user’s system. More recently, researchers have also demonstrated a new technique to steal personal information from Facebook using ‘socialbots’, computer programs that mimic real Facebook profiles to harvest vast quantities of personal data – using a mix of technological and human blagging hacking. This data can then be used to further exploit victims using the other methods above. There are various risk minimisation strategies. These include: education educating people and staff about the risks and how to avoid being blagged; not to open attachments to dodgy emails; not to click on links in emails; to scrutinise and control social network use. Implementing security technology, for example, installing firewalls and DMZs, installing virus checking software and security programs. Finally, running external penetration testing to show up vulnerabilities. However, one thing is clear. As hacking attacks become more audacious and commonplace, and as foreign governments throw more and more resources into a cyber war, the only sure way to keep the most vital corporate data secure, is to ensure it is not online in the first place. And in the modern age, the limitations this implies may not make this a practical solution. Data can be electronically racked and stacked but it may inevitably also be hacked.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FEATURE PITCHING TO INVESTORS
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
PITCHING TO INVESTORS FEATURE
PITCH PERFECT Pitching to VCs, business angels and other investors is a skill that all business owners need to perfect, says Dave Howell
aking a pitch for finance is often cited as the single most stressful component of running a business. Few people have the innate presenting skills of the late Steve Jobs for instance, but even if you feel your presenting and pitching skills leave a lot to be desired, you are not powerless, as with training anyone can infinitely improve the pitches that they make. Glen Goldsmith, director, 2thefore who has helping many early stage and prerevenue businesses in the past decade, says: ‘Certainly some people are better at presenting than others, and it may not always be the guy or gal at the top. I’ve worked with some organisations – especially start-ups – where the original founder should ideally go nowhere near the pitch presentation. Some early stage companies feel obliged to put their founder or inventor forward, but that’s not ‘the ability always the best strategy.’ to present In some cases there confidently and will be people in your eloquently is company that have an a great asset innate skill when it comes for any to pitching or presenting. entrepreneur’ These people seem to have the ‘gift of the gab’ as Claire Shiels, a communications www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
FEATURE PITCHING TO INVESTORS
RUN IT BY OTERS AND BE PREPARED TO MAKE CHANGES BASED ON THEIR FEEDBACK consultant and qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing explains: ‘The ability to present confidently and eloquently is a great asset for any entrepreneur. Whether pitching for a contract or meeting with a finance provider, your audience needs to have absolute faith in both what you are saying and in your abilities as a businessperson overall. In most instances, effective speakers have developed their abilities through a mixture of experience and training.’
Preparation is the key to a pitch that receives the investment that is needed. Matthew Owen, director, Sovereign Capital comments: ‘In an average year I’ll meet anywhere between 50 and 100 new companies for the first time, and at 75 per cent of those meetings, the person won’t have prepared anything. So the 25 per cent who have done the prep work instantly look more business-like.’ An easy way to instantly improve your pitch was explained by Goldsmith who continued: ‘Run it by others and be prepared to make changes based on their honest and constructive feedback. Not just once or twice, but possibly three or four times. If a pitch is worth doing, then it’s worth doing well.’ Lyndon Nicholson and Dale Smith, founders of Article 10 Presentations also commented: ‘We’ve all experienced a boring, wordy and uninteresting presentation. At Article 10 we’re trying to re-invent this concept – we want to break away from linear presenting. We encourage our clients to visualise their initial presentation concept, break it up in small pieces, throw it up in the air and deliver what’s relevant. This allows a fluid, engaging presentation that frees the presenter from talking about something that’s boring their audience or simply not relevant.’ Your audience is also looking for validation especially when a pitch for finance is made. Using case
studies in your presentation are always attractive, but even more so in a financial context, as they show evidence that your company has delivered on its promises in the past.
Death by PowerPoint Too many businesses spend too much time on developing their supporting flip charts or presentation slides and not enough on their own personal presentation of the information. Ed Percival, business coach with Shirlaws Binfield commented: ‘Presenters default to thinking about a presentation and going away to write the slides. All the feedback we see in practice is that audiences love to hear a presenter’s stories, not see the slide. If slides are that important, why don’t you just print them off and hand them round? The truth is that slides have become a crutch for lousy presenting.’ The technology that you use to support your presentation or pitch is just that - only supporting material, as it’s you that makes an impression on the VCs or business angels you are pitching. ‘During a presentation, an audience will only retain about 10 per cent of the words you deliver, but around 35 per cent of the sound of your voice and approximately 55 per cent of your body language, said, Steve Thomson, executive coach at Unlimited Potential and author of The Sticking Point. ‘Your voice then is one of the main things people will remember about your presentation. Make it sound as attractive as possible by slowing it down, breathe from the diaphragm and keep your throat, neck and shoulders relaxed.’ Sarat Pediredla, co-founder and partner of Hedgehog Lab agrees: ‘Like knives, PowerPoint itself is not a good or bad thing. Death by PowerPoint is a classic case of when someone feels that the tool can take away the difficult job of building great presentations. Too many people focus on silly slide animations, gimmicks, and slide designs when simple black and white
slides can still shine through if the content is interesting. I don’t think there is any problem with relying on technology. I think technology allows us to take presentations to the next level by combining audio, video, and images. Multimedia is the key to great PowerPoint presentations.’ Of course technology today can allow any business to pitch or present to individuals that could be on different continents. Cisco, in partnership with Birmingham Science Park Aston (BSPA) and Keiretsu Forum (KF), has launched the International Investment Forum (IIF). The IIF will, for the first time, enable international investors to be able to see, discuss and evaluate new companies with serious growth potential in multiple markets face-to-face, without the need to travel. The IIF has been developed to connect entrepreneurs looking for funds to a global network of investors – the model will help to pioneer cross-border and intercontinental investment opportunities. Phil Smith, CEO Cisco UK&I, said: ‘Location and travel budgets are no longer a barrier to companies getting in front of the best and most appropriate investors. Through advances in the Internet and ICT, opportunities now exist to bring multiple parties together via different forms of video collaboration and enable them to engage and do business. Alongside our partners BSPA and KF, Cisco is pioneering a model of “innovation hubs without walls” that supports cities and regions as the nucleus for economic growth and impacts growth acceleration.’ A clear understanding of what your audience is expecting from your pitch or presentation is the foundation onto which you build the information you will impart. How you deliver your pitch will be unique, but all pitches and presentations should be concise, informative and above all else engaging.
2thefore www.2thefore.biz Claire Shiels www.claireshiels.wordpress.com Sovereign Capital www.sovereigncapital.co.uk Article 10 Presentations www.article10.com Shirlaws Binfield www.growyoursme.com Unlimited Potential www.unlimitedpotential.co.uk Hedgehog Lab www.hedgehoglab.com
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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GADGETS SMART PHONES
Smart phones keep getting smarter …. although some of the latest are definitely cleverer than others Words Tom Holmes When the iPhone launched, it was something of a novelty, expanding on the simple text and call handsets that were the first mobiles for most of us. it brought with it a new level of functionality, sparking the growth of phones that are closer to miniature computers than they are to traditional telephones. inevitably the iPhone
spawned a number of copycat products, some of which have proven more successful than others. in fact, it could be argued that apple’s rivals have had more success against the range of ‘i’ products in the mobile phone market than they have had anywhere else. Here we take a look at some of the contenders.
nokia lumia 800
The Finnish comms giant has suffered a fall from grace in the last two years, surrendering its market-leading position to Apple, HTC, RIM and Samsung (in no particular order). However, critics are suggesting that the company could be about to make up some of the lost ground with the Lumia 800, scheduled for release imminently. The phone runs on Windows 8 and boasts an impressive 40,000 apps and has also been compared favourably with HTC and Samsung models operating on similar platforms, which is no mean feat. Combining the sleek Nokia design with Microsoft technology makes the phone a suitable mid-market upgrade, or for those making the transition from less functional handsets.
BlaCkBerry Curve 9360
SamSung DouBle Time
HTC’s handsets have enjoyed a lot of success since launching in the UK in 2010, living up to the company’s ‘quietly brilliant’ tag line. The Titan, released in the UK on October 7, runs on Windows Phone 7.5, and boasts a 4.7-inch screen, the largest of any handset using the platform. Despite being on the large size, the Titan has a slender 9.9mm waist, though at 160g is certainly no featherweight. Even if the big screen isn’t for you, there’s a lot to like. It features a raft of elements, including multi-tasking and the ability to group together your friends and connections. It also boasts a revised edition of Internet Explorer.
Blackberry has been treading water of late, and did in fact sink briefly in October when an outage cut service on handsets for three days. With that in mind, RIM needed to pull a rabbit from the hat, which it appears to have done with the Curve 9360, an upgrade of the 9300. The affordable and stylish handset reinforces Blackberry as one the top dogs in the business phone market, though it will have to continue on this streak if it’s to keep up with Apple and HTC. The 9300’s 3G, GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and BBM are all accounted for in an 11mm case, which weighs just 99g.
The DoubleTime is a clamshell, dual screen handset that flips out to unveil a QWERTY keyboard. It runs on Android 2.2, a marriage which has worked well for both organisations. As you’d expect from Samsung of late, the DoubleTime is a nifty little mover, combining leisure and business functions seamlessly. For those with larger fingers, the 3.2-inch screen may prove rather small, though once the device is flipped open the inside screen is easier to navigate with the directional pad.
December 2011 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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TEAM BUILDING FEATURE
TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM
Friday Woods looks at different team building options and how they could prove more important to business than ever before
n these tough economic times, you’ve probably had to make some difficult decisions, perhaps even say goodbye to loyal colleagues. So where does that leave your remaining staff? If they are stressed, dispirited or despondent, now may be the time to offer them a little time to regroup. So how do you rejuvenate your woebegone workforce? It seems that the days of regular corporate binging may be behind us – unless of course, you happen to still work in the banking industry. The need for most now is to consolidate, to rebuild your team’s spirit through addressing genuine, measurable business objectives, by fulfilling training needs and CPD. And that’s where team building events could really come into their own. It’s tempting to think of team building events as something frivolous or ‘a good laugh’, but carefully selected and honed bespoke events can produce remarkable results. One doesn’t have to look too hard to find original team building events that really deliver tangible CPD, and more besides. So here are a few great ideas that you might not have thought of, together with reasons why your staff - and consequently your business - will benefit and have lots of fun to boot.
Guinness World Records You know the book and you probably remember the TV show. Now, one of the world’s most recognisable brands has moved in to the team building business. In one crazy day of overachievement, Guinness World Records Live will challenge your team to break up to six world records. It’s all done in small teams, with yet another challenge for the entire team as a finale. The challenges are not necessarily on a grand scale, but the sense of achievement is immense and provides a truly memorable event.
Good for: bonding | communication | listening | leadership | achievement | food memories Contact: www.guinnessworldrecords.com/live
RADA Team building through drama has long been accepted as a relevant and highlyeffective method. So if you’re considering this route, why not go straight to the top. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts can provide bespoke team building events created around your training criteria. Using a respected organisation like RADA will add gravitas to the event, which has a positive effect on your teams’ ‘buy in’. And you know you will be working with the best in the business. Good for: communication | confidence | listening | public speaking | improvisation| creativity Contact: www.radaenterprises.org
Learning to listen Horse whispering? Bet you hadn’t thought of that one. Learning to Listen is the brainchild of Sarah Kreutzer who has
worked with horses’ behavioural problems and has been featured in BBC, ITV and Channel 5 programmes. Trained in the US with Monty Roberts, Kreutzer has applied the techniques she’s learned to help people improve relationships. ‘Equine Assisted Team Building (EATB) may seem like a bizarre concept until you understand that horses have to live together as a herd to survive,’ she says. ‘They must get along and work together because their lives depend on it. They will give you the most honest feedback you’ll probably ever get, as well as offering an incredible insight into the blockages to your own development.’ Good for: communication | self awareness | bonding | change management | personal development | building trust Contact: www.learningtolisten.co.uk
Stand up and deliver Ever thought of your team as a bunch of comedians? Well here’s the chance for them to prove it. Jack Milner is a multitalented comedian, performer, writer, facilitator and creator of Stand Up and www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk December 2011
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FEATURE TEAM BUILDING
Good for: public speaking | communication | improvisation | listening | creativity | bonding | confidence Contact: www.standupanddeliver.co.uk
Sniff and Spit
Deliver, a comedy-based team building event. Don’t worry, he doesn’t make you stand up and deliver gags. Rather, Jack uses comedy to bond your team through the creation of a comedy show. ‘Your team will learn to appreciate their own talents and those of their colleagues,’ says Milner. ‘Uncover hidden talents within the group (often the shyest people are the best performers), realise the joy of working as a group towards a common creative goal and understand how mutual support within the group contributes to its success.’
Perhaps having a few bevvies on the boss does have a place, providing of course it has some structure and delivers tangible business benefits. Sniff and Spit’s events do just that. Rebecca Dunphy and Roger Mallindine have devised a selection of ‘off the peg’ team building challenges, or they can even create a bespoke event which addresses specific needs. Either way your team is bound to enjoy learning about and tasting wine and whisky. Good for: communication | listening | educational | bonding Contact: www.sniffandspit.com
Fox Poker Club Over the past few years, the popularity of poker has most definitely been on the up, so perhaps a trip to Fox Poker Club – London’s only licensed poker venue – would appeal to
& Web Development
your team? Here they can don dark glasses and a green visor, and learn to play Texas Hold’em just like a pro. A poker tournament will pit the wits of the staff against each other individually or in teams. It’s a game of skill and subtlety that requires a sharp mind and a steely nerve. Can your staff take the heat? Good for: communication | negotiation | body language | listening | bonding Contact: www.foxpokerclub.com
One World, One Team Kaboura Events has created an event which uses the talents of your team to change the lives of others. One World, One Team focuses on local action with a global reach as teams work together to create, produce and pack gift boxes for distribution via Children in Need. It’s an event that changes the lives of children in developing countries around the world. An extraordinarily valuable day that will leave you team with a warm glow. Good for: social responsibility | leadership | communication problem solving | bonding Contact: www.kabouraevents.co.uk
IN BUSINESS FISTICUFFS ... NO BLACK EYES ALLOWED Unsurprisingly, unarmed stage combat is one
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of our most popular team building activities. But, it’s not about being aggressive or dominating in order to win. It’s about building complete TRUST,
developing CONTROL of the mind and
body and demonstrating
RESPECT for the
strengths and vulnerabilities of others. To learn more about this and our other exciting and powerful team building activities, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7908 4819 www.radaenterprises.org
Business Class Phone Line
Business Class Broadband
Up to 24Mb speed
XLN line required
Business Gas & Electricity save up to
Sivaran Gill Joined XLN April 2003
Card Processing Services save up to
Exclusively Small Business
“I’ve saved a lot of money over 8 years with XLN....line rental alone has saved me 30%.“ Sivaran Gill
XLN works exclusively with UK small businesses to help you save money. We cut your telephone, broadband, gas, electricity and card processing bills while making sure you get top class service every step of the way. You get the best for less because we buy big and pass the savings on to you. Call now and find out why more than 130,000 small businesses have switched to XLN.
Call us and start saving today
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December's issue of Talk Busines Magazine