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W W W . T A L K B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . C O . U K

FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR

BY THE ENTREPRENEUR

February 2014 ÂŁ4.50

The

eco issue

LEADING A LEGACY Rob and Paul Forkan lost their parents to the 2004 tsunami. The brothers tell us how they launched Gandys Flip-Flops in their memory, a social enterprise helping orphans around the world

Being green How can SMEs boost their eco credentials?

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Weather the storm More than 185,000 commercial properties are at risk of flooding in the UK

Fixing the future The founder of Sugru reveals how she created the self-setting rubber

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SPONSORED ARTICLE

WHY Relocate to JeRseY?

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ersey has a long-standing reputation for attracting successful individuals and companies to its beautiful shores. A location for those who want to work in a thriving, international centre of excellence, but who seek a life of more than just work – in our Island the work-life balance really is achievable. Finding a location that offers the very best tax advantages might be your driving force, but choosing a jurisdiction that is to become your home is about much more. The key is to settle somewhere that works for your wealth, but more importantly, works for you and your family too.

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Locate Jersey is committed to the development and growth of enterprise and entrepreneurialism across all sector of the Jersey economy and inward investment necessary to ignite and sustain this. We are the government organisation responsible for promoting, attracting and retaining inward investment for Jersey. As part of the Department for Economic Development we advocate sustainable economic growth, diversification and generating employment within the Island. The Locate Jersey Team provides a comprehensive, confidential and free service to facilitate, support and guide companies and individuals through the process of moving and setting up their operations in Jersey – from pre-location information and advice, to aftercare once you are established. Get in touch Wayne Gallichan, Director of Inward Investment and International Trade Development: w.gallichan@gov.je

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TALK strategy

18

iNSIDE

53 The branding column Rich With 54 Going green Eco & ethical issues 59 Thinking inside the box Patent law

75 Talk image 95 Create the right first impression Image

63 How to value a business Sales and mergers

96 Look the business: ecowarrior wear Fashion

64 SMEs selling big Exits

98 Hot spots Locations for SMEs

69 The five A’s of sales Adam Caplan

talk technology

14 News & Events

73 The sales doctor Solving your sales problems

101 Our man in the valley David Richards’ tech column

TALK Success

75 Are you in a danger zone? Climate change

103 Moto X: the review Brand new product

18 Goody two-shoes Rob and Paul Forkan, Gandys flip-flops

talk MARKETING

105 Does your SME website look dodgy? Website security

11 Editor’s letter 13 Letters

24 Take one company Belu bottled water 27 Introducing… TB grills a young up-and-comer 29 Electrifying the world BBOXX 35 Book reviews 138 He said/she said What are the entrepreneurs saying this month?

talk MONEY 37 The funding expert Money matters 39 The importance of integration M&A 42 Bank on SME lending 45 A done deal? Informal agreements 47 Be prepared: come rain or shine Insurance

77 The marketing column Kimberly Davis 79 Ten steps of Twitter Step four: website click through

106 Playing the cloud computing game Rob Law on the cloud

81 Why go green? How to be eco-friendly

109 Virtual meetings Video collaboration

82 Five steps to save time Public relations

111 I’ve got an app for that… Our fave business apps

talk people

112 Six energy saving gadgets Business needs

85 The people column Lee McQueen

TALK FRANCHISE

86 Secret diary of an entrepreneur A week in the life of the founder of Oorla Jewellery 89 Fixing the world Sugru Q&A 91 Key changes for employers in 2014 HR Insight 93 HR headaches Human resources

117 Franchise news 119 Reaching agreement Franchise law 121 Spotlight Southern Fried Chicken 123 The fran man Can franchising be good for the planet? 125 Take one franchisee The Creation Station

talk aDVICE 127 Ultimate finance 130 Accountz

49 Before you sign on the dotted line… Increasing value

132 123 Reg 134 Century 21

51 A day in the life Diary of a Start-Up Loan recipient

136 Talk Business Directory

54 009 OPENER Contents.**g**.indd 9

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editor’s letter

Scan this QR code to subscribe to Talk Business

EDITOR

Dawn Murden dawn.murden@astongreenlake.com

DESIGN

Paul Christopher Daniels paul.daniels@astongreenlake.com Heather Rugeley heather.rugeley@astongreenlake.com

INTERN

Christian Muhika

WEB DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Mitchell Finlay mitchell.finlay@astongreenlake.com

SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Scott Hartley scott.hartley@astongreenlake.com

SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER Trystan Hurley trystan.hurley@astongreenlake.com

ACCOUNT MANAGER

Aaron Whelan aaron.whelan@astongreenlake.com

MANAGING DIRECTOR Stuart McCreery

Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd T: 0203 617 4680 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ © Copyright 2014. 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 Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation.

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A fair trade P [head]

reserving the planet’s resources, protecting human rights and living sustainably are such huge issues that they sometimes seem impossible to tackle. But they shouldn’t be ignored. I don’t want to preach, but according to the Global Footprint Network the earth is in the red with resources. Approximately 780 million people lack access to clean water, and the UK is falling behind in meeting the legallybinding European renewable energy targets set for 2020. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. As an entrepreneur, you have a lot to think about. With a todo list longer than your arm, eco-issues can get bumped down the list of priorities. What are other SME owners doing? Turn to page 54 to read our investigation into how other businesses are improving their eco credentials, and setting realistic targets for the future. For many businesses these issues are at the very heart of what they do. Take our Face on the cover, on page 18 for example. Rob and Paul Forkan tragically lost their parents in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, while they were travelling. The brothers founded Gandys flip-flops, and 10% of the profits fund their Orphans for Orphans initiative funding education, healthcare and support for orphans in developing countries. Our Take one company, Belu bottled water has saved more than 20,000 lives with clean water projects. Despite

accruing loses of £1.9 million in its first five years, the company is sustainable and all its profits go to the charity, WaterAid. On page 24 CEO, Karen Lynch reveals how she turned its fortunes around. If you didn’t initially build your company on these values, it can be hard to implement them. After all, where do you begin? Remember small differences can make a big change. We all have to start from somewhere. On page 89 we speak to Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, creator of Sugru, the colourful mouldable silicone that can fix almost anything. Rather than accepting our throwaway society, she’s encouraging a community of fixers. Plus we reveal the six energy and money saving gadgets your business needs on page 112. It is time to be eco-friendly and ethical, because in the long run it won’t just preserve the planet, it will help your bottom line. Take care of business for now.

Dawn Murden, editor

@TalkBusinessMag

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

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Contributors & LETTERS

Our ecochampions

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Aad Dekkers is the EMEA director of marketing at EVault. He has extensive expertise in the IT industry and more than 20 years’ experience as a marketer. In his role at EVault, he is responsible for developing and executing integrated marketing programmes across the EMEA region. Before joining EVault, he served as chief marketing officer at MTI Europe, where he was responsible for marketing, business development, strategy, and acquisitions in Europe. Previously he held director and manager roles at NetApp, Sun Microsystems and Tulip Computers.

Dee Blick is a multi award-winning Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing with 30 years marketing experience. She is an international bestselling business author, and runs her own company, The Marketing Gym. Dee’s third book The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses For Your Small Business was one of Talk Business Magazine’s six Best Business Books of 2013, which featured in the December issue. You can find her tweeting at @deeblick

Polly Gowers OBE is CEO and founder of Everyclick Ltd., a technology company that is helping charities stay in step with the way we live our lives online. Everyclick’s flagship product is Give as you Live, which enables online shoppers to raise money for charity without putting their hand deeper in their pocket. For each Give as you Live purchase, the retailer pays a commission, a proportion of which is donated to the shopper’s chosen charity. The technology is free to any UK charity. In 2012, Polly was awarded the OBE for Services to Philanthropy, and in 2013 Computer Weekly named Polly as one of the most influential women in UK IT.

Rob Law MBE is the founder and creator of Trunki, the much-loved children’s rideon suitcase. His company is dedicated to the invention and distribution of iconic, yet attainable products for tots on the go. All its creations are designed in England and distributed worldwide; including the unique Trunki ride-on and BoostApak, the innovative booster seat that doubles as a backpack. You may recognise Rob Law from his failed appearance on Dragons’ Den; since then Trunki has grown worldwide and sold more than two million cases.

Read his article on climate change and cloud disaster recovery on page 75.

Turn to page 81 to read what she has to say about being eco-friendly and going green.

Find out what she had to say about preserving the planet, human rights and sustainability on page 54.

Rob Law reveals how switching to the cloud gave his business a huge boost on page 106.

FEBRUARY 2014

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MAILBOX

If you’d like to send us your thoughts about Talk Business, or anything else that’s happening on the SME scene, just get in touch: email: dawn.murden@astongreenlake.com snail mail: Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited, William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ

This month our readers are talking about starting businesses, how to approach the banks and tweeting about our Best Business Books of 2013

Face your fears Dear editor, I really enjoyed reading about Stephen Fear last month in the Face on the cover feature. For a long time I’ve wanted to launch my own business. My product is great, but leaving my job has just seemed like too much of a risk. However, after reading Stephen’s story I have jumped ship and pursued my dream. I should have done it years ago, like Stephen did. Now I am. Thanks!

R OF E T T E L MONTH THE

A new entrepreneur

Following on Twitter The articles in your Ten steps of Twitter series are great so far. I like reading about how to improve mine, but then seeing what you have physically done. It makes it easy to follow and copy. Regards, Dan Martin Founder of Marketeers

Learning to loan

Banks are conservative in their lending, and I do believe they could lend to more SMEs. However, I think SME owners should do more to ensure they understand the whole process, and get all those relevant figures ready before they even consider asking for a loan. Some SMEs don’t prepare and then wonder why they’ve been let down. Bank manager, At one of the big five

Tweets 0F the month... @TheBusinessShow Massive congrats to our #TB2014 keynote @deeblick whose new book is one of @TalkBusinessMag Best Business Books of 2013 @Midas_UK Useful advice about online business as featured in @TalkBusinessMag @jamescaan @TalkBusinessMag Thanks very much, it’s a great honour! @TalkBusinessMag Delighted to hear that @jamescaan is in #LinkedIn’s top 10 most #followed #bloggers – one of only three Brits! @Fasthosts Get an insight into how our customers view their @Fasthosts #webhosting in the January issue of @TalkBusinessMag @Gandysflipflops @TalkBusinessMag Nice to meet you too, you’re welcome anytime! @cocoalocochoc @deeblick @TalkBusinessMag Delighted to hear that you loved our chocolate! @deeblick Reading @TalkBusinessMag Enjoying the news on my book being their best biz book & @bradburton arguing the case for casual clobber @Intercity_UK Read “Five Misconceptions About 4G” in @TalkBusinessMag – answering some commonly asked questions

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

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NEWS & EVENTS

Dates for the diary Sterling Integrity 13 February The Future Inn, Bristol 7 March The Village Hotel, Coventry 28 March The Village Hotel, Cardiff sterlingintegrity.co.uk

The HR Business Summit & Awards 4-5 February ICC, Birmingham hrevent.com The Ideas Factory 6 February RADA Studios, London 3 April RADA Studios, London theideasfactory.com Business Junction Networking Events 13 February Henry’s, Canary Wharf 19 February The Royal College of Surgeons of England, London businessjunction.co.uk

The Franchise Show 14-15 February ExCel, London thefranchiseshow.co.uk Sales Job Expo 22 February London salesjobs-expo.com

Internet Retailing Expo 26-27 March NEC, Birmingham internetretailingexpo.com The Business Show 2014 15-16 May ExCel London greatbritishbusinessshow.co.uk Online Retail Conferences 16 September Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington orevents.com

Watchdog warns Dragons’ Den star about advert THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS Authority has warned Bannatyne Fitness about a misleading ad on one of its websites. The company has been ordered not to use the promotion after ad adjudication upheld a complaint about closing times. The online advert for one of the entrepreneur’s clubs stated closing times were 11pm Monday to Friday and 10:30pm at weekends. The complainant said this was misleading because members were expected to get changed half an hour earlier. Bannatyne claimed it was a private club and, as part of the terms and conditions, members were expected to stop using exercise equipment half an hour before closing. The adjudication said: ‘The information appeared on Bannatyne Fitness’ own website and was

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accessible to all consumers whether or not they were already members. ‘The information that the facilities would close 30 minutes prior to the stated opening times constituted a significant limitation to the stated opening hours, which should have been included in the ad. ‘Because it was not, we concluded the ad breached the code.’

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Small business battling for funding, shows Bank of England data DESPITE ATTEMPTS BY the Bank of England to boost finance, business lending fell towards the end of last year as banks continued to squeeze funding to SMEs. Lending figures from the Bank of England show that businesses paid back £4.3 billion more than they borrowed in the three months to the end of November. The worst affected by the brake on lending were small businesses. This trend has persisted despite the Bank adapting its Funding for Lending scheme last April in favour of smaller businesses. Government Ministers are likely to be disappointed by the figures, which show a deteriorating trend after net credit contracted by £3.7 billion in November. Banks have increased their lending in the mortgage market, which has rocketed recently, but it appears they

have failed to expand the credit going into the corporate sector. Large companies have access to the growing market for debt financing in the bond market, while small businesses are limited to, and often reliant on, the high street banks, which since the 2008 crash have become more conservative with lending. Small firms consistently report credit is either refused or offered at high prices. The average net monthly flow of lending was only slightly less negative in 2013 through to November than it had been in 2012. The Public Accounts Committee of MPs criticised Government departments for running a series of ad hoc schemes to boost lending, but failing to build them into a coherent plan. ‘There is no common understanding about which parts of

the SME sector are generating the most growth and where Government support would do most good,’ the chair of the Committee, Margaret Hodge, told the Guardian newspaper. ‘[The business department] intends to give nearly £3 billion of financial support to SMEs between 2011-12 and 2014-15 through its six main schemes. It helped nearly 6,000 firms during the last financial year, but more could have been helped if the department had done more to ensure that SMEs are aware of the potential financing options available to them.’ Many SME owners are now seeking alternative forms of funding, such as crowdfunding, pension funding and trade credit from suppliers, instead of relying on the bank. This has sparked a growth in the popularity of alternative funding.

Most popular password online is “123456” ACCORDING TO AN annual survey by mobile software developer, SplashData the most popular password is “123456”. SplashData has collated a list of the most popular passwords used online from the data revealed by high profile hacks in 2013. The main source for this year’s list was the cyberattack that hit Adobe in October, thought to have targeted 38 million customers.

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This year, “adobe123” and “photoshop” make their first appearance on the list. “Password” was relegated to second place, followed by “12345678” in third, and “qwerty” in fourth place. Other favourites that also appeared included “abc123”, “letmein” and “111111”. There was also a brand new entry at number 24, “trustno1”.

FEBRUARY 2014

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FACE ON THE COVER

TALK SUCESS

Goody two-shoes

The 2004 tsunami claimed the lives of 230,000 people, including Paul and Rob Forkan’s parents. The brothers tell Dawn Murden why they started Gandys flip-flops, a social venture helping orphans in developing countries

ave you heard of Gandys flip-flops? Well, I can assure you once you’ve read this article, you won’t forget them quickly. Attending music festivals, travelling the world and wearing flips-flops, brothers Rob and Paul Forkan are not typical suitwearing businessman. They are not governed by profits for their pockets, because there is so much more to what they’re doing. The brothers embarked on an education in the “university of life” when they were 13 and 11-years old, with their family. Their parents, Kevin and Sandra took them out of school for the trip of a lifetime; travelling India and parts of the sub continent. After years of volunteering in India, they went to Sri Lanka to spend Christmas in a fishing village. But the day after, one of the most deadly natural disasters ever recorded struck, the 2004 tsunami. Rob, Paul, and their younger brother and sister managed to hitchhike 125 miles to the national airport, but their parent’s were tragically claimed by the tsunami. Their lives changed forever. Rob and Paul returned to England, but they could not shake the travel bug. When they got older, they paid tribute to their parents by visiting everywhere from Australia to Thailand and Bali, learning a lot about misfortune in the world. During that time, the idea for

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Gandys flip-flops was born while Rob was at a festival in London. ‘One of my friends woke up claiming he had a mouth like “Gandhi’s flip-flop”, which gave me the idea,’ Rob told me. ‘We decided on flip-flops because most people own a pair – they’re the most worn shoe on the planet!’ The brothers knew this would be the perfect way to create something sustainable, and a brand based on the their beliefs. 10% of the profits from sales would go to their Orphans for Orphans initiative, and fund education, healthcare and support for orphans in developing countries. Back in London, the brothers pursued their dream. For a long period they went at it alone, but once they’d gained good reception from retailers, consumers and the media, they organised their Dragons’ Denstyle investor meetings. They “unsettled the suits” in a cool bar wearing shorts and flip-flops to find an investor who had the same values as them. They chose Dominic List, who appeared on Channel Four’s Secret Millionaire. He had worked with charitable causes and had a passion for social enterprise, like the brothers. Gandys is gaining momentum. Its flip-flops can already be found in Selfridges, and it is working on collaborations with retailers like Accessorize and Monsoon. Money has already started

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

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TALK SUCESS FACE ON THE COVER

going to orphanages too. ‘A girls’ orphanage in India doesn’t have to worry about money for three years now,’ Rob told me. Their plans are big; by the end of this year, the brothers want to open their own orphanage in memory of their parents. The opening of the first orphanage will mark the 10th anniversary of the tsunami. Their ultimate goal is to have Gandys orphanages all over the world. Rob and Paul have turned the biggest tragedy of their lives into something positive. Meeting them, I could see their passion and dedication to Gandys is not only unwavering, it’s infectious. They are a dynamic and fun duo, governed by doing good. DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW THAT YOU’D WANT TO DO SOMETHING AS A RESULT OF YOUR EXPERIENCES WHEN YOU GOT OLDER? Paul: Our parents always wanted us to know how other children lived around the

tics Vital Statais ny was

Date the comp ary 2012 founded? Janu r? £1.2m Current turnove rofit? n/a Current Net p Rob (left) and Paul Forkan (right)

There has been a range of activities and events, from celebrating International Flip Flop day with Richard Branson

world, which was why they took us travelling at a young age. They definitely taught us the importance of making a difference in other people’s lives. I think we always knew we wanted to do something that created a positive impact on the world. Rob: I think we probably got our ambition to become entrepreneurs from our parents too – our dad set up his own business and then a social enterprise, so I think he gave us that desire to succeed in business. HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START-UP CASH? Paul: Initially we used money that we had saved up from working, and then we interviewed potential investors on why they should be allowed to get involved in what we were creating! We set up our very own Gandys den in a beach bar. WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST STRUGGLES AND CHALLENGES YOU FACED AS A NEW BUSINESS? Paul: One big challenge was definitely other people not believing in our idea. We had a lot of friends and family telling us that we were crazy to start a flip-flop company in the UK! It’s really important to stick to your beliefs and keep going. I was lucky as I had Rob to carry me through, and I did

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the same with him. I would definitely recommend any new entrepreneurs to have a business partner. Rob: Another big challenge was not having many resources. At the beginning, we didn’t have much money and it was just the two of us trying to do everything, so it was pretty tough competing against big brands. When we started, we were in our flat in Brixton with one of us on the sofa. We did our first product shots on our iPhones with the bath as a backdrop. It just goes to show that if you have a good idea and lots of determination, you can still achieve great things though. Paul: We’re both pretty determined so giving up didn’t really cross our minds – then the dream really started to become real when we signed up the likes of House of Fraser and Selfridges at the end of 2011. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT MARKETING THE BUSINESS? Paul: There has been a range of activities and events, from celebrating International FlipFlop Day with Richard Branson and the whole Virgin brand in our “Necker reds” to attending some of the summer’s greatest British festivals. We’ve also had pop-up stores and grown our dedicated student following because Rob and I

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TALK SUCESS FACE ON THE COVER

often give talks at universities, schools and colleges across the UK to inspire young people to follow their dreams and set up their own businesses. WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? AND THE WORST? Rob: The best thing would be that no two days are the same! As we run the business, we have a lot of room to be really creative and come up with crazy ideas.

Paul: Never being able to switch off can get annoying. The best thing is being able to see what has been achieved and knowing that you made it happen.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami, so our goal for the end of this year is to build our first children’s home

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WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO FIRST TIME BUSINESSES EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTIES IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE? Paul: One of the reasons why we have got where we are today is because we never take ‘No’ as a final answer. We always tell our team a “NO today is not a NO tomorrow” – if someone gives you a rejection, then that doesn’t mean that your idea or business is wrong, it just means that it is not for them at that point in time.

Rob: And if you go to someone else with your idea, and they say “No”, then it might be that your idea or business just needs a small adaption to make it successful. AS WELL AS YOUR ORPHANS FOR ORPHANS SIDE OF THE BUSINESS, DO YOU ENSURE OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR BUSINESS ARE DRIVEN BY ECO-FRIENDLY, ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE REASONS? Paul: Our flip-flops are produced sustainably at the moment – they’re 100% FSCcertified rubber, which means that the rubber is from a sustainable source and they’re completely recyclable. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE BUSINESS? Paul: This year is the 10th anniversary of the 2004 tsunami, so our goal for the end of this year is to build our first children’s home. We’re really looking forward to the milestone – it’s going to be so rewarding to see that all of our hard work paid off by helping thousands of children who need support. Rob: Plus this year is the international launch of our brand, which is really exciting for us! This spring, we are launching into over 30 new countries across the world, from Germany and the USA to China and the Philippines. Eventually, our goal for the business is to make it a household name and through doing so, be able to start projects all over the world. Contact: gandysflipflops.com

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TALK SUCCESS TAKE ONE COMPANY

TURNING THE elu was founded in 2004 by filmmaker Reed Paget as an environmentally friendly bottled water business. Investors included The Body Shop founder, Gordon Roddick. It was a simple idea – that there was a better way to do business by reducing environmental impact and using all profits to fund clean water projects. Despite sales growing, Belu’s profitability was disrupted by the banking sector collapse. By 2009 the company had accrued losses of £1.9 million; change needed to happen, and fast. Based on its history, Belu wasn’t viable; it was losing money. Belu needed ongoing funding for survival, but it had already had dozens of rounds of funding, there was no more money. If Belu couldn’t be selfsustaining and make profit, enough was enough – the investors were out. Enter Karen Lynch. She saw an advert for a marketing director role at Belu in a newspaper, and applied. ‘I joined in August 2009 and ended up writing a business plan, which outlined a new beginning as a viable business. By the following spring, I was the CEO,’ Karen says. ‘The business as we know it now started in 2010.’ Karen took the idea and essence of Belu, and turned it

B

24

TIDE

Dawn Murden meets Karen Lynch, the CEO who turned around the fortunes of bottled water company Belu, and helped it save more than 20,000 lives

The company had accrued losses of £1.9 million; change needed to happen, and fast

into a true social enterprise. It operates as a limited company on a triple bottom line, fulfilling social aims while remaining financially sustainable. Karen had worked for big brands like Barclays, and left as head of merchandising at Audi UK to join Belu. What attracted her to the company? ‘I thought about the wasted resources and materials in the world, and had a lightbulb moment in my head – I wanted to make a difference with my business skills,’ Karen says. ‘A charity didn’t feel right for me. Belu was a small business with a great idea, but it hadn’t been executed well.’

She believed everything from the branding to the communication hadn’t been done in the best way, and the increase of interest rates hadn’t helped. Belu used to sell directly to customers, but this was one of the first things Karen changed. ‘A successful water business should deal with wholesalers. ‘In order to compete with other water businesses, Belu needed to be smart, flexible and more creative with a small budget,’ Karen says. ‘I came from big brands that spent more in a day than Belu did in a year.’ Karen changed the model from direct selling, to selling via wholesalers. She changed the branding too. Before she joined, the Belu message was “Penguin approved, no global warming”, and now the message is “Water with ethics.” ‘We had to create a product with a clear message. Consumers were missing the point,’ she says. She also agreed a deal with WaterAid, an international charity that transforms lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation. Belu is

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Vital statistics Company founded: 2004, restructured in 2010. Start-up capital: Dozens of rounds of funding from original investors. Turnover: £4 million Profit: £400,000 Growth rate: Now trading as a limited company. Annual revenue growth rate of 30%. Biggest achievement: Belu is talked about as a shining example of a social enterprise, and as a water business. We seriously compete in the market of water, and inspire models in every sector. its exclusive partner. This was a huge turning point for the bottled water company. ‘We signed a three-year agreement to give at least £100,000 a year. It was a big promise because Belu had never made money. ‘Consumers want you to prove how you’re being ethical, and WaterAid gave us those credentials.’ Karen admits coming to Belu was a struggle. ‘We didn’t have the luxury of time. The investors wouldn’t hold on for long,’ Karen says. People had to go, suppliers had to change – there were a lot of changes to implement. And there were only three people in the business to make it all happen. Even now, although over 14.5 million units sold last year, there are only seven people. ‘People have the impression we are huge, but we’re only small,’ Karen says. How did Karen keep going? ‘When there was a bad day, I got out that original plan and read why the business made

sense and why it was going to work,’ she says. ‘For a long time, we kept our head down and worked, we didn’t do any public speaking or PR – we wanted to make the company something we could truly be proud of first.’ Belu became a premium brand. ‘It will never be the cheapest, but it has the added value of the social projects,’ Karen says. It is stocked at Sainsbury’s, Café Rouge, Jamie’s Italian, and Leon, just to name a few. The brand is very strong in London. ‘Now we are proud, we are happy to tell our story,’ Karen says. All of Belu’s profits go to WaterAid, and they have now signed an agreement until 2020. ‘For us it’s a forever partnership,’ she says. They have produced a very detailed 2013 social impact report, which covers a wide range of issues. On a social level, they have created 30 jobs, and have transformed the lives of more than 20,000 people with WaterAid.

We signed a three-year agreement, to give at least £100,000 a year

They also use 50% recycled plastic in their bottles, and are the first UK bottled water company to be 100% carbon neutral. They do not export or import products, keeping miles and emissions down. This is only a snapshot – the report is 11 pages long and covers every aspect of the business. It is specialised stuff, but Karen believes it should become the norm. On top of this, Belu has launched an ethical glass business, which will sell to its competitors. Karen’s advice to business owners is to keep ideas simple, and don’t get bored. ‘Some people don’t start a business because they can’t think of something new, but bottled water isn’t new. ‘Try and find something eco/ ethical to help with, then focus on that in business, using your best skills. Knowing you’re doing good in the world makes you happy, and happy people deliver great results.’ Karen changed the fortunes of Belu and has helped the company make waves. She says she has the best job in the world. ‘I get to put my money where my mouth is, and do something I’m passionate about,’ she says. One day, Belu hopes, all bottled water companies will be socially motivated, like it is. Contact: belu.org

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UP-AND-COMING

TALK SUCCESS

Introducing Henry Patterson This month we interview Henry Patterson, one of Britain’s youngest entrepreneurs, aged just nine, about his sweet company called the adventures of Sherb and Pip (published in March). I got all my ideas from my grandma and parents. I realised that the way children buy sweets and play these days is totally different from the olden days and I wanted to bring it all back.

enry Patterson founded Not Before Tea, a confectionary company, which sells creative jars of sweets and accessories like aprons, bags and jewellery.

H

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR BUSINESS? My business is called Not Before Tea because that is what my Grandma used to say when I asked for sweets! All products are themed on a story I wrote about a mouse and an owl

The hardest pitch I had to do was to Sainsbury’s

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS TRYING TO GET AN IDEA OFF THE GROUND? Have a stall at a car boot sale or a fete to get some basic business experience. Once you know how to display things, pricing, calculating money and how to talk to customers, you can get started on your business. I’VE HEARD YOU’RE GOOD AT PITCHES - HOW DID YOU LEARN YOUR SKILLS AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE? My singing teacher at school always tells me to look at the back of the room and project my voice; that helped me when I had to speak at a conference. I also use postcards with my pitch on. I write down the facts and talk around them. I tend to sound like a robot if I read a script. The hardest pitch I had to do was to Sainsbury’s. I had to talk for 20 minutes (on my own) to a panel of four people and then watch them try my edible Mud and Worms. It was nerve

wracking waiting to find out if they liked them, but they did. IS THERE A ROLE MODEL WHO INSPIRES YOU? I love David Walliams. Business wise, I think Alan Sugar is very funny. I also love Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden. WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR TO-DO LIST? To publish my book, and to prepare for my first trade show at the Spring Fair 2014 in February. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED? Being handed the microphone on stage, when I collected my award at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. No one else had been invited to speak so it totally took me by surprise.   WHAT’S BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT? At the awards! I spoke about how the Government needs to provide more support for young entrepreneurs and the media dubbed it quote of the night! WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE?   I want to bring the Not Before Tea shop to life. It will be one of a kind and children will love it. Contact: sherbetpip.co.uk

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BBOXX

ansoor Hamayun, Laurent Van Houcke and Christopher Baker-Brian, met while studying electronics engineering at Imperial College London. All three had travelled and recognised the lack of electricity in the developing world. In response, the trio founded the student-led charity e.quinox, through which they began to develop and distribute solar-powered battery packs to off-grid locations. After this success, the trio founded BBOXX, a for-profit organisation with the same aim, equipped with the business and finance resources to achieve results faster.

TALK SUCESS

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WHY WAS SETTING UP A COMPANY THAT HELPED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IMPORTANT TO YOU? There are currently 1.4 billion people without access to electricity. Being an engineer, I always had that problemsolving mentality. I believe that engineering and science can improve human life. I’m originally from Pakistan – I saw people living without electricity there. The other founders have slightly different backgrounds, but are also driven by engineering and how it can help people. WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA FOR A FOR-PROFIT ORGANISATION? I was chairman of e.quinox. I’m no longer an active member but still get involved time to time.

Electrifying the world Dawn Murden spoke to Mansoor Hamayun, CEO of BBOXX, a profitable company bringing electricity to the developing world The charity is great but if you want to scale up, it has to make sense economically. Having a capitalistic business solution is the only sustainable way to give people access to essential quality of life with electricity, quickly. BBOXX has brought electricity to 150,000 people in 30 countries, including Congo, Uganda, and Kenya. WHY WAS CHOOSING TO EXPAND THROUGH A FRANCHISE MODEL IMPORTANT? Partnering with local businesses helps us get into the markets, which can often be difficult. It helps us reach our full potential.

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TALK SUCCESS BBOXX

HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU NOW EMPLOY? We have 22 UK-based employees, eight in China and around 150 in other countries.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR BEST BIT OF ADVICE TO ANY BUDDING ENTREPRENEUR? Entrepreneurs are not conforming. They take huge personal risks but failure is key. You have to fail, you have to try and learn from it. That’s the learning cycle. You get better. You need to be humble, understanding and open. These are far better qualities than being aggressive and arrogant.

first ded: een the ny foun Compa – 2007, betw rsity. e x e.quino nd year of univ graduation. o c re e s fo , be and – 2010 0 BBOXX apital: c 200,00 Start up – we raised $ x e.quino 122,000) tudents £ ith 45 s d w , g in (aroun fundrais ur through n it. o put all o working £5,000, we – BBOXX gether. to million. money ver: £2 ke even. o n r tu t Curren et profit: Bro tN Curren

istics t a t s l a vit

HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR COMPANY IS ECO-FRIENDLY, ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE? We spend a lot of time and money on training. From shopkeepers to technicians, to factory workers in China. We are parading a new industry, so prior experience is rare, and we need to ensure everyone we work with is aligned with our vision. They all go through the same material – why are we doing what we are doing? What are our principles? What morals do we need to uphold?

Contact: bboxx.co.uk

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FEBRUARY 2014

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Holidays, Bank Holidays and Part Timers confusion and calculation. It’s a frequent question to our HR team, with many variations: • What is the holiday entitlement for a part timer? • How do we calculate bank holidays for someone who works two days a week? • What happens with holidays and the long term sick?

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et’s start with the most recent change in the law around holidays: 1st October 2007 was the date when the Working Time Regulations (1998/1833) came into force. This gives 28 days (or 5.6 weeks) leave to people working 5 days per week.

As I’ve already said, there is no statutory right to take time off on a bank/ public holiday. The change that came into effect on 1.10.2007 means that all holiday calculations take place around the minimum 28 days leave (which includes the 8 public holidays).

It may come as a surprise, but there is no statutory right to have bank holidays off. So, these 28 days INCLUDE the 8 (occasionally more) bank holidays each year.

Let’s say your employee handbook states: ‘You are entitled to 28 days’ paid holiday in each complete holiday year inclusive of bank and public holidays’

The main issue managers have is calculating holiday entitlement for people who work part time. The full entitlement of 28 days per year is for 5 day/ week workers. So it is a simple calculation for different working patterns, see the table below:

A full time worker gets 28 days leave per year. If your holiday year starts on 1st January and they take off 1st January (bank holiday) and 2nd January (not usually a bank holiday in England and Wales) then they will have 26 days holiday left.

Days worked/ week

Days holiday per year

1 2 3 4

5.6 11.2 16.8 22.4

Another way of looking at this is that employees get 5.6 weeks of holiday during the year, whatever their normal working week is. So if they work 3 days per week they get 5.6 weeks of their normal working week (3 days per week) paid leave per year.

If that same worker used their remaining 26 days prior to Christmas and Boxing Day then they would not be entitled to take those days as paid leave. They would have to agree to work them, or take them as unpaid leave. Employers that are closed on Christmas/ Boxing Day should always give notice to employees that they have to take holidays on these days. Holiday requests should be refused if that would result in insufficient leave for those two days.

Sick Leave: Holiday leave accrues while an employee is off sick. If an employee is off for a full holiday year then they will have accrued 28 days of leave. That brings me on to my final point: Creating an annual leave policy that works for the business, is fair to employees, is applied equally and is legally compliant. There are a lot of factors to take into account. Examples include: • What has gone before (Custom and Practice) • Any changes that result in workers being worse off must be consulted on. • If policies are not applied equally to all workers then problems will follow. • Should leave be carried from one holiday year to the next? For how long? • Who grants holiday requests? • How do you deal with everyone in a team wanting the same days off? • Does holiday entitlement increase with length of service? I have only scratched the surface of this subject (our internal notes stretch to 34 pages of guidance!), So you can see there is a lot to consider over and above the legal minimum.

Hope that’s clear!

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Get FREE employment contract template Download now, valued at ÂŁ200 with detailed notes . Every employee needs their own written employment contract within 12 weeks of starting a job. It is the law. The penalty is a 25% uplift in any employment tribunal payouts. Ensure you are compliant by downloading our employment contract template. It comes with all the notes you need to fill in job titles, salary and all of the other legal requirements. Ensure you are compliant - download your copy now.

Author: Neil Atkinson has twenty years experience starting and growing businesses. He started Deminos in 2007 with his (CIPD Fellow) wife, Louise. The Deminos team now provide practical HR and Employment law advice & support to hundreds of businesses of all sizes from just one employee to thousands. For guidance on holidays or any other employee issues call us on

020 7870 1090 To download a compliant employment contract template with full guidance notes for free go to

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BOOK REVIEWS

Book reviews

About the author: Fergus O’Connell has a first in mathematical physics from University College, Cork. His company ETP, and his project management method has influenced a generation of project managers. In 2003, this method was used to plan the Special Olympics World Games.

Our verdict:

About the author: Andrew Reynolds is a former Surrey Business Person of the Year who originally started out with an idea for a business that he could run from his spare room at home. He has since won an award for Best Small Business of the Year.

Copy This Idea is published by Capstone, priced at £9.99 in paperback and e-book.

The Power of Doing Less by Fergus O’Connell Our verdict:

Copy This Idea by Andrew Reynolds

We say: We don’t want to sound greedy but any book with chapter one named The First Million, intrigues us. Andrew flatly admits he’s nothing special, but this book can start any wannabe entrepreneur on their journey.

TALK SUCCESS

Have A Crap Day The Service Revolution

We say: At the end of every day, do you feel exhausted? The author teaches you how to forget that endless to-do list and just do the important stuff. A good read if your time management needs shaping. The Power Of Doing Less is published by Capstone, priced at £9.99 in paperback and e-book.

Begins… by Jez Rose Our verdict:

About the author: Jez Rose has worked worldwide as a behaviour change consultant for ten years, representing clients such as the BBC, Lloyds, Vodafone and Kraft. He teaches organisations how to get the most out of people through behaviour changes. We say: The author boldly states; ‘If you have customers – you need this book.’ Award-winning entrepreneur, Jez Rose talks about saving customer service from the evil grip of clingers, the Floatatron and Doctor Moodio Bitchio. A useful, entertaining read. Have a Crap Day is published by Gent, priced at £12.99 in paperback.

We’ve got one of each book to give away FREE. Be the first to follow and tweet us, quoting the book name @TalkBusinessMag & we’ll send you a free copy!

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money

Money ver the last ten years, we’ve seen the emergence of the social enterprise. Like the for-profit company in many ways, except it has a clear social, environmental or ethical mission and some or all of its profits are reinvested towards that mission. Think Elvis and Kresse, which started making bags, belts and wallets from decommissioned fire hoses and donate 50% of its profits to the London Fire Brigade, or Divine Chocolate, the highly successful fair trade chocolate company, 45% owned by cocoa farmers sharing in the profits. The rise of the social enterprise tracks the evolution of the consumer, which is no longer solely focused on the price tag of an item. Having seen numerous food scandals and read horrific stories of exploitation in emerging markets, the conscientious consumer is prevailing over the conspicuous consumer. This trend supports the social enterprises doing good through their actions and having sustainable financial models that do not rely on financial donations. Alongside the growth in social enterprise, we have seen the emergence of a new asset class in social investment funds being deployed by those who assess potential investment opportunities based on a different set of criteria, including the social impact of

O

matters

This month our funding expert, Julian Smith talks about the rise of the social enterprise

Investment opportunities based on a different set of criteria, including the social impact of the enterprise

the enterprise, as well as the financial returns. Ethical companies who address the conscientious consumer can make themselves highly desirable to larger branded groups looking to add younger, innovative and fastgrowing brands to their stable. One of the earliest examples was Green & Blacks – the organic chocolate company – that was sold to Cadbury Schweppes for £20 million in 2005. Between 2009 and 2013, the founders of Innocent smoothies sold their interest in the company to Coca-Cola in different tranches for an aggregate value thought to be well in excess of £100 million, leaving them free to spend more time on the charitable arm of the business. A social enterprise must live by a stricter set of rules, where everything about the company must be coherent with the company’s social mission. Without this, the company would expose itself to criticism of hypocrisy. However, the flip side of that coin is a powerful motivating factor, which can foster a very loyal customer following and attract and retain talent who share company values, which

makes it easier to preserve that unique culture. If you’re not a social enterprise, it doesn’t mean that your company cannot “give back” or adopt some of the behaviours. There is evidence to support the thesis that brands, where some of the profits are donated to a charitable cause, do better. In the 16 years since Yoplait (a General Mills company) has been running its Save Lids to Save Lives and other programmes, it has donated more than $34 million (about £20 million) to the cause. Business is always about the money or else you won’t have a sustainable future, but on the journey it’s very important to consider how the money should be allocated between stakeholders (or causes), shareholders and other providers of finance. Julian Smith is The Funding Expert, offering workshops, consultations and public speaking on finance. He has been advising companies for more than 18 years on how to position themselves for investors, raising finance, mergers and acquisitions. Contact: thefundingexpert.co.uk Twitter: @lefundingexpert

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M&A

TALK MONEY

The importance of Integration Stuart Crowther, managing director of Specific People, a consulting services company, talks us through the integration of an acquisition rowing evidence of a sustained economic recovery in the UK has many business leaders focusing their attention on acquisitions and mergers as a route for growth. Although there are still some good bargains to be had, finding the right target for an acquisition is only half the story. Ensuring the new business is integrated quickly and efficiently is the true measure of a successful acquisition. It’s important to remember that the decisions taken at the beginning of any integration project will determine its success or otherwise. Responsibility for the project must reside at the top of the business, because: • Significant decisions will be made by department heads, and these must be shared at executive level. • Many cross-departmental issues will need resolving and the CEO can chair these meetings. • The integration project will generate reasons to communicate to employee groups, and these messages

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need to be prioritised and agreed at board level. • Ultimately, these streams transition into day-to-day management, and this board will be home to any outstanding actions. The board can start designing and delivering the project, but must recognise that energetic team leaders will want to begin building their enlarged departments. However, their energy must be channelled to ensure a consistent pace of change across all departments. The next step is building a plan that fully describes all the activities necessary to complete the integration and deliver the desired benefits. The plan shares understanding of all the required actions and encourages buy-in from those responsible for delivering the project successfully. PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST Integration must follow the same stages across all departments: people; propositions; process and systems. This ensures the critical and most difficult

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TALK MONEY M&A

element - the people is addressed first. Typically, the people aspect of any integration yields the highest synergy savings through reduced head count costs. Failure to get this right from the start burdens the new business with this extra cost. Adopting a consistent approach to departmental plans will ensure firm-wide initiatives are distilled from the plans, namely: • Building an organisational structure that really works for all departments. • Communicating to stakeholders and most importantly, employees. • Implementing new business processes, which can be a point of tension, like adopting a single document management system. • Integrating IT systems – a significant project in its own right. Departmental plans need validating by someone with experience of having successfully managed integration projects before. This ensures the plans will deliver the expected synergy savings and achieve successful integration. ALLOCATE EXTRA TIME Creating a single organisational structure takes time, and merging two businesses will always throw up complications, particularly when comparing roles and experience across both businesses. It is quite surprising how two businesses in the same industry can take radically different approaches to similar business activities. It also takes time to rationalise terms and conditions across complicated and contrasting businesses. It must be done in the first phase of the integration, with easily understood and comparable pay scales developed.

40

If it takes longer than a couple of weeks for the individual departmental plans to be finalised, the project sponsor should worry. A project review cycle is imperative to identify blockages preventing progress, interdepartmental issues and threats to the expected synergy savings. This regular, often weekly, review helps integration, thanks to the competitive nature of departments, with leaders wanting to deliver against set targets and deadlines, rather than be seen failing to do so. A project’s pace matches that of the slowest department. If any department lags, it will delay announcement of the new organisational structure; problems will surface and multiply. EXPLAIN IT CAREFULLY With plans finalised and the acquisition ready to be announced, the following points must be addressed with a consistent, structured approach, and in this order: • Staff – senior managers must visit staff at all the offices, make presentations and leave something that explains in more detail, what is happening and why. This offers everyone the chance to read through the plans when they are over the initial shock. • Customers – key clients should be told in person or on the phone, with an email to all others. • Suppliers – key suppliers should be told in person or on the phone, with an email to all others. • Everyone else – web sites for all impacted businesses should have updates, prepared in advance, ready to go once initial contacts have been made. Acquisition and integration can be unsettling, and the senior

board must listen carefully to employees’ fears and understand their issues. Employees will feel a loss of control - and decisive action with clear communication will be needed to put their collective minds at rest about the future. Some individuals will choose to leave the business, but the majority will stay if they understand what benefits the future of the integrated business holds for them personally. A comprehensive communication presentation can be made to all employees, but typically the only slide remembered is the one displaying the employee’s name – it’s best practice to hand out copies of all slide material.

The senior board must listen carefully to employees’ fears and understand their issues

SIGNS TO LOOK FOR Lack of communication is the most commonly voiced failing of integration projects, with gossip and misunderstanding filtering back to the management team – true for both internal and external communications, with each causing its own set of issues. Unexpected attrition rates amongst employees, and a lessening of interest from those responsible for delivering integration indicates the project is failing. SEEKING ADVICE Many businesses might consider integration as just another internal project, but a growing number are seeking external expertise, recognising the benefits this delivers. External integration project managers have no aspirations of career longevity within the business, enabling tough performance-based decisions to be made that challenge long held views and opinions. Contact: specific-people.co.uk

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30/01/2014 16:42


TALK MONEY SME LENDING

here has been a lot of negative press about the lack of lending to SMEs by the banks, but recent articles in the national press suggest the fault could lie on both sides. SMEs and banks need to better understand one another’s position; it often seems dialogue is lost in translation. Some SMEs don’t appreciate the risks the banks take, or fully understand the loan process, and banks are often not clear about their processes. However, some SMEs and banks are achieving harmonious dialogue and building good professional relationships. Four entrepreneurs – with businesses old and new, big and small – tell us how they secured loans with Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, and the growth it’s injecting into their ventures.

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Bank on Four SMEs tell us how they found funding on the high street to grow their business

HARRY’S RESTAURANT A restaurant founded in 1993 by the Pound family. Samantha Pound took over the restaurant in 2004 from her parents. Did you look into other funding before Lloyds? Yes. Why did you approach Lloyds? I was introduced to Lloyds through my accountants, Kirk Hills Chartered Accountants. How did Lloyds help? They

BAYBERRY HOLLOW A café, and home interiors and crafts shop, founded in 2013 by Marie Race and Joanne Connolly. Did you look into other funding before Lloyds? Yes. Why did you approach Lloyds? The previous bank we had applied to took too long, so we approached Lloyds and had a quick response. How did Lloyds help? Provided a six-figure

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provided finance for business independence. I agreed the decision to get a commercial mortgage was the best option and it means I don’t have to worry about security in the future. My lease was rapidly running out, but now I have the mortgage I can continue to grow the business. I have the freedom to make changes and develop the business further.

commercial loan to purchase and renovate the new premises. We approached our relationship manager from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking with our business plan, and he just got it straight away. He was able to agree the funding within a few hours and has truly believed in our business and supported us from day one, which has been a huge boost for us.

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SME LENDING

THE ACCOUNTANCY AND TAX CENTRE An accountancy firm that provides accountancy tax services to SMEs and individuals, founded in 2006 by Jackie Bligh. Did you look into other funding before Lloyds? Yes. Why did you approach Lloyds? Another bank refused my application as I didn’t have the 30% deposit. Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking was prepared to take a risk and it turns out that they made a good bet. Had it not been for Lloyds, I wouldn’t have built my little empire.

How did Lloyds help? They provided the initial funding, two expansion loans, and then the most recent loan to allow me business independence from the franchise I was originally in.  This is my fourth loan from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. Without the bank’s help I would not have been able to grow my businesses to where they are today. My relationship manager is a great contact and was instrumental to my success. I know he is always at the end of the phone if I have any questions or worries.

DANSCI DANCE STUDIO DanSci Dance Studio offers amateur and professional dance classes, for babies to retired people in Exeter, Devon. It aims to promote the health benefits of dance participation as well as being a hub for health information for local dance practitioners. It was founded by Ava Barron Thomas in 2013. Did you look into other funding before Lloyds? No. Why did you approach Lloyds? A franchise of Babyballet Ltd was set up with the support of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. I had approached a different bank in 2010 but chose Lloyds Bank

Ian Thompson, relationship manager for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking in Durham, comments on his client, Bayberry Hollow: ‘It is both a well-run business and a great place to visit, and the thought and care that Marie and Joanne have put into it really shines through when you walk through the door. ‘Their combined previous experience and well-researched business plan enabled me to put

TALK MONEY

Commercial Banking due to its fast customer service. My husband and I also had previous personal accounts with Lloyds Banking Group. How did Lloyds help? Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking provided the loan and walked me through the steps up to being accepted. I have continued support from my relationship manager. To own a dance studio is a dream come true. Without the loan from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, I wouldn’t have been able pay for a 10 year lease on the property. My relationship team has been very supportive.

in place the funding required to help them, and the initial results have demonstrated that they have created a business that really resonates with their customers. ‘Small businesses like Bayberry Hollow play a vital role in driving local economies, and as part of our commitment to supporting SMEs, we have supported 65,000 start-ups since January 2013 and we approve eight out of ten loan and overdraft requests.’

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INFORMAL AGREEMENTS

TALK MONEY

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contract, in whatever shape it might present itself, is a legally enforceable agreement. Although we might traditionally think of a contract as a written document, in which two parties or more agree to a set of terms by signing along a dotted line, contrary to common misconceptions, they do not always have to exist in this form (except in certain limited circumstances, for example with the sale of land). In fact, there are many “informal” agreements confirmed over the phone, by email and text that, unbeknown to you, can be considered legally binding contracts. Of course, having a point of reference in a formal written layout does have its advantages – namely that it provides very clear evidence as to what exactly was originally agreed, leaving little room for ambiguity in the case of a fall out between the parties involved. The key word above is “evidence”. It is this that will determine what the terms of the informal contract are, when these have come into question. Clearly, in the absence of a “traditional” or “formal” contract, a written agreement of some (or any) sort is preferable. This can include anything from email trails to messages sent via networking sites or social media – even a series of text messages will be useful! Presenting any of these in court will allow the judge to form a decision based on solid evidence of what has been agreed under the terms of the informal contract. When there is no written proof available, it is also possible to refer to permanently recorded evidence, whether a taped telephone conversation or video. While considerably trickier, it is even possible to enforce the terms of an informal contract

A done deal? Joseph Long, a commercial solicitor at QualitySolicitors Clapham & Collinge, discusses what makes an informal agreement binding

We might traditionally think of a contract as a written document

when no permanent recording – verbal or written – exists at all. However, this can be difficult, not to mention time-consuming, and situations can easily deteriorate in to a “he said, she said” scenario. Under these circumstances, the judge will usually look at the parties’ actions or “conduct” after the agreement was made – i.e. what each party did under their understanding of the terms of the contract – and base their decision on this. In any event, whether the contract, or its terms, are in writing or not, it is important to bear in mind that, for an agreement to be legally binding, it must have the following characteristics: 1. There needs to be an offer. For example, I will pay you £X to do Y. 2. There needs to be an acceptance. The other person confirms, either verbally, in writing, or by their conduct, that they will do what was asked. 3. There needs to be “consideration”. I.e. “payment” for what was

asked for. This can be money or “money’s worth”, such as goods or other services – anything that has a value – even as low as £1. 4. There has to be an intention to create legal relations. This will depend on the facts of each individual case, but there has to be some kind of intention that the agreement will be legally enforceable. You can imagine, in the case where a father tells his son he will give him pocket money to clean his car, that there is unlikely to be such a legal intention! 5. Certainty of terms. The major terms of the agreement have to be sufficiently certain. If a judge cannot work out what has been agreed or there are simply too many “blanks” that haven’t been filled in, then there can be no contract. So long as the above characteristics are met, and you have sufficient evidence to prove this, then the terms of the contract can be enforced. Contact: qualitysolicitors.com/ clapham-collinge

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30/01/2014 16:45


INSURANCE

ccording to statistics, SMEs account for 99.9% of private sector businesses in the UK, with many being run from commercial premises. Last year’s St Jude storm and the continued bad the weather at the start of this year highlights the importance of having the right insurance to cope with unforeseen circumstances, including energy service interruptions, floods and other forms of damage.  Most homeowners understand the importance of having home and contents insurance, with protecting personal property and possessions often a primary concern, and mortgage providers only keen to lend to those with adequate cover.  It is equally important for SMEs to get insurance that looks after their interests with the right cover. For most SMEs, being unable to trade for an extended period of time or suffering damage to stock and equipment can have serious consequences. Here are a few tips to help you avoid disaster:

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TALK TO AN EXPERT Every year, SMEs across the UK are left out of pocket through having inadequate cover. Specialist commercial insurance brokers will take time to understand exactly what you need to protect your livelihood. Often, they will be able to negotiate a good rate with some of the UK’s biggest insurers, so there’s nothing to lose. BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE This isn’t always offered as a standalone product, but is usually available with commercial premises or public liability insurance.  In the event of a SME being unable to trade due to

TALK MONEY

Be prepared:

come rain or shine Andrew Jackson, director of retail broking at One Insurance Solution, gives tips for protecting your business against the elements

unforeseen circumstances, it provides two options; either you will be found alternative premises or you will be reimbursed your loss of profit. It’s important to note that this type of cover is most suitable for medium- to long-term business shutdowns, with most policies taking 48-hours to activate.

Every year, SMEs across the UK are left out of pocket through having inadequate cover

STOCK AND CONTENTS COVER This is particularly useful for small retail operations. Again, this type of cover can be added to premises insurance, and protects damage to, and theft of stock and equipment. FREEZER AND FRIDGE COVER Hospitality, food and beverage businesses rely on their ability to freeze and refrigerate perishable materials and ingredients. If a storm were to cause a power failure, it could mean that thousands of pounds worth of stock can no longer be used. Setting up business insurance to cover any such

eventuality means that there’s less need to be scared when the lights go out. CALCULATING LOSS It’s important that business owners are well versed in calculating loss. There are two methods that can be used; topdown and bottom-up. Top-down takes lost sales and subtracts the expenses saved during the time of loss, whereas the bottom-up method works in reverse by taking the loss period’s net income and adding expenses through the loss period. Although the bottomup method is more complex to calculate, it is much more accurate and therefore gives a realistic idea of the level of cover you can expect to gain. Taking the time to get all the insurance that you need shouldn’t ever be too much trouble, it could be the best investment that an SME makes all year. Contact: oneinsurancesolution.co.uk

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CAREFUL CONTRACTS TALK MONEY

Before you sign on the dotted line…

hen an asset is not being managed properly, it can easily become a liability. By considering the value of your business and changing a few habits, you are more likely to do asset-generating activities and increase the value of your business in the long term. Here are four easy habits to cultivate a higher value for your business and make your investment in it even more worthwhile.

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1. HAVE A CLEAR VISION AND STRATEGY During World War II, Winston Churchill said; ‘He who fails to plan is planning to fail.’ If you don’t have a realistic vision of your business, then you may get sidelined with irrelevant actions, make decisions that do not add value to your business, or worse, diminish its value. A clear business strategy allows you to see what is really important and the actions required to achieve the vision. The Strategy-on-a-Page video series by Business Growth International is a useful free tool to plan and hold you accountable to your strategy, track your growth and allow you to see potential gaps in advance.

NaviStar Legal founder, Jo Rogers lists four habits that will increase the investment value of your business

Before taking on any finance, get guidance from a lawyer or accountant on tax breaks (SEIS or EIS), personal tax options, finance options (http://bit. ly/1lZgLWW) and available grants in your industry (http:// granttree.co.uk/) to ensure that you are making sensible choices.

A clear business 2. GET EXPERT WISDOM strategy allows We find many people decide to take on external finances without you to see what is really giving any thought to their finance options, their tax position important and worse, the approximate value of their business. Many businesses find themselves stuck with finance providers who have significant equity stakes but do not understand or share the longterm vision or strategy of the business and end up costing more money than they invest. Getting expert advice is essential and can help you build a better business from the start.

3. KEEP YOUR BUSINESS IN GOOD WORKING ORDER A well maintained business is more valuable to potential buyers and investors. Some ideas for maintenance: Make sure that all employees, consultants or contractors have signed a formal written agreement to comply with the law, and ensure that your relationship is clear. Deal with complaints, disputes and any threatened litigation early to avoid wasting valuable time, money and energy. Ensure that you have appropriate insurance to cover products or services.

Know relevant legal requirements, such as dealing with consumers or data protection (http://bit.ly/18640li). Keep your financial books up to date and know your key performance indicators to ensure you are on top of your cash. 4. KEEP ADDING EVEN MORE VALUE A good way to increase the value of your business may be by investing some additional funds in key areas, such as intellectual property. Registering appropriate patents, trademarks or other valuable intellectual property may increase its value if you get advice on how this can be achieved.

Jo Rogers is an in-house lawyer for SMEs. Her vision is to create a tribe of next generation lawyers that provide affordable wisdom to businesses. Contact: navistarlegal.com

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31/01/2014 09:49


START-UP LOANS

TALK MONEY

A day in The life

DEAR DIARY My phone alarm rings every morning at this time. As I turn it off, I have a quick look through Banhmi11’s social media pages to check messages from our friends and followers, and comments about our food and services. We are a very interactive brand, so I want to make sure we are as responsive and engaging as possible.

06:30

I usually start the day by brewing a drip-filtered Vietnamese coffee (a signature item on our drinks’ menu). I have stopped looking at emails and instead look at my to-do list, and plan how to work through it.

07:00

I cycle or take the 38 bus to Banhmi11 on Elm Street. We opened this tiny, but mighty market kitchen in May, and it has changed the way we operate. I check in with our kitchen manager to ensure that morning deliveries happened according to schedule and production levels have been calculated correctly.

08:00

Our marketing manager, Linh swings by the shop to go through our plan for the week. She updates me on the upcoming local business marketing campaign, as well

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as customers’ reviews and feedback of our business. I have a meeting at the studio of one of our catering clients in Shoreditch. We ask a lot of questions to find out what kind of cuisine they want to have at events, and how the Vietnamese food will add culture and meaning to their theme. This always makes me happy as it brings creativity to every single recipe that I make for clients.

12:00

I arrive at our first shop on Great Eastern Street during the lunch peak. This is the best part of the day for me, seeing the familiar faces of our customers and helping my team to serve up portion after portion of fresh Vietnamese cuisine.

13:00

Rush hour calms down, and I sit for a late lunch with our team to finalise our Market Special. We have been testing a beef lemongrass curry - light and spicy - which I think would be perfect for the winter menu.

15:00

I meet up with one of our suppliers for dinner at the shop. We work really closely with our suppliers; many of them are friends or fellow traders. We sometimes find weird

19:00

This month our Start-Up Loan recipient, Van Tran reveals an average day running her Vietnamese food company

In Profile Entrepreneur: Van Tran Business: Banhmi11 Web: banhmi11.com Concept: A Vietnamese food stall, restaurant and cookbook. Start-Up Loan: £14,000 and wonderful ways to use produce, for example the organic chicken carcasses from Broadway Market that we use to make stock for pho (a special Vietnamese noodle soup). I get back home and prepare the to-do list for tomorrow. I check the daily report from my shop manager as we finally hit closing time. Then I look through my favourite food and travel blogs and cookbooks as bedtime reading before falling asleep.

22:00

The Start Up Loans Company is a Government-backed scheme that provides funding and mentoring for budding entrepreneurs to help their business succeed. With the help of this initiative, more than 30 new businesses are started daily in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Contact: startuploans.co.uk

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29/01/2014 11:21


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30/01/2014 15/01/2014 16:46 17:04


Strategy

Get some inspiration

ack in the office after the festive break, as always there are a slew of emails to wade through, and inevitably the business gurus are chucking out the same old info as they did last year. You know the kind of email that starts “Hey Rich, let’s make 2014 the best year you’ve ever….” Snore! What’s apparent is that all of this advice is sound, and would improve your business if only you could be bothered to do it. Take for example the wellworn piece of advice about writing a book. Of course it’s all made to sound so easy. All you have to do is stop doing all those things you used to do that constituted your so-called life. Next, write thousands of words, and spend your hard earned money on getting it proof-read, designed, possibly printed or Kindle-ised. And yes, in January too, when the VAT bill is looming, the kids need new shoes and it takes a G4S van of Krugerrands just to pay your gas bill. Done? Great, now sell your soul on whatever blog or

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This month Rich With, creative director of The Grow Creative Company, laments the lack of inspiration others have

Don’t just say you want your brand to be different – actively make it so

news site will let you type an excerpt, as well spending hours on Twitter, hoping that a publishing agent has just had a slot open for a niche publication about your experience of beetroot tasting in Inverness. Simple, right? Of course it isn’t, which is why less than 1% of the population has ever bothered to write one. Next, start a profitable speaking career. Let’s gloss over the fact it’s resolutely terrifying standing up in front of a bunch of business people who frankly would much rather be watching The One Show than listen to you drone on about “changing your mindset”. And yes that applies even if you have written a book about it too. It’s all very well me being deliberately misanthropic, but do I have an alternative solution that will transform lives? No, of course not, but what I do know is doing the same thing over and

over again expecting a different result is akin to lunacy. So let’s have a little inspiration in 2014. Let’s do things differently – even if that does mean you finally inflicting the world with your self-published tome on social media, making that video (even if it’s just filmed on your iPhone with a cheap clip-on mic and edited by a surly teenager). Stop worrying that you’re not tweeting enough, or that your Pinterest board needs more funny cats. Pick up the phone and call that client that you’ve been telling yourself you should call for the last 15 months, and offer to take them for lunch. Don’t just say you want your brand to be a different – actively make it so. Face your fear, write, speak, pick up the phone or whatever, but have the inspiration to finally make a change in your life. That’s advice that we can all heed. Contact: justgrow.co

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onsumers as a whole have become more aware of the environment, ethics and sustainability. Rebecca Taylor is head of research at Responsible Trade Worldwide (RTW), a sustainability and ethics consultancy, and also a founding partner of the Ethical Fashion Forum. She says: ‘Consumer awareness of how products are produced is at an all-time high – people are acting with their conscience as well as their wallets. ‘They want to know where the products they are putting in their baskets have come from, who made them, and in what conditions.’ As consumers, we have come a long way. Think of domestic recycling as an example. Something that a minority practiced ten years ago, has now become the norm. Consumers are changing, but are businesses keeping up with consumer attitudes, expectations and change? Mike Hogg, managing director of Dong Energy Sales, an international sales organisation, which offers a range of energy products and

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Going green Preserving the planet, human rights and sustainability are big issues. Dawn Murden investigates what SMEs are doing to boost their eco credentials

They want to know where the products they are putting in their baskets have come from, who made them, and in what conditions

solutions, comments: ‘When I joined the energy industry in 1973, environmental and ethical factors were not mainstream issues in business. Of course, the environmental impact of exploration and production activities was understood, and companies were obliged to manage and minimise them. In reality though, economic outcomes were prioritised. ‘However, there has been dramatic change. Environmental and ethical issues are now key boardroom issues and businesses know that corporate and social responsibility (CSR) carries huge weight for all stakeholders – including prospective employees, customers and governments. CSR has moved up the priority list.’ Judi Marshall is a professor at Lancaster University

Management School, and co-author of Leadership for sustainability: An action research approach. She says that organisations now appear to be devaluing the word “sustainability” to sometimes only meaning their own financial longevity. ‘Even companies with the biggest ambitions around sustainability find it difficult in an “unreformed” environment of irresponsible economic and corporate systems. ‘Previous “successes” can be watered down, co-opted into activities that look more like “business as usual”, and there continues to be public scepticism of corporate social responsibility and what looks like “greenwash”.  ‘This combination of pressures means that not enough companies are taking positive

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ECO & ETHICAL ISSUES

action or even considering how what they do affects the world around them. But, saying that, more and more companies do have responsibility and sustainability on their agenda. More individuals recognise these issues matter and there are growing numbers of internal and external “activists”.’ For many companies eco, ethical and sustainability are at the very heart of their company, such as our Face on the cover, Gandys and Take one company, Belu. Richard Hiblen, managing director of Green Square, a housing, regeneration and social investment agency, says the logic behind launching a business on sustainability just gets “stronger and stronger”. ‘Green Square’s 12-month experience of installing heating systems across the south-east reflects this,’ he says. ‘The Renewable Heat Incentive comes into operation in April, offering homeowners attractive returns to install the kit we sell. Politicians can panic about subsidies, a tendency which makes some entrepreneurs wary of businesses that depend on Government support. Two key differences we see though, are that the RHI is limited in term, and is intended to bring a mix of proven and new technologies to commercial scale.’ For many companies, being ethical is not at the forefront at what they do, and yet the most surprising companies are breaking the mould. Paul Bates, managing director of Cleankill Environment services, says: ‘Pest controllers are not usually associated with being green, but recently it has become a real focus for us for several reasons. ‘Customers want “greenfocused suppliers”; it makes

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good business sense to reduce C02 emissions and we genuinely want to reduce our impact on the environment. ‘We’ve done things like purchase blue motion vehicles, reduced our pesticide use and looked for green pest solutions, reduced our office energy consumption, as well as reducing paper usage and recycling everything we possibly can. We even have staff who use Boris’ bikes to get to appointments in Central London.’ As our funding expert, Julian Smith talks about on page 35, the number of businesses with a social enterprise ethos is rising. For Aaron Jones, director at Fikay Fashion, a company that makes wallets and other accessories from recycled materials, having an ethical and eco approach is the lifeblood of his business. ‘I believe the new recipe for success is conscious consumerism with community at the heart of our decisions. The community is business’s biggest stakeholder, without whom we are all in trouble. ‘Our consumers are part of something much bigger than they could achieve on their own and this is what keeps our loyal customers coming back. This is when we win. Repeat customers bring their friends and become brand ambassadors, who tell our story for us. Being eco-friendly is also saving us stacks of money.’ Polly Gowers OBE is the CEO and founder of Everyclick. Everyclick’s flagship product is Give as you Live. For each Give as you Live purchase, the retailer pays a commission, a proportion of which is donated to the shopper’s chosen charity. ‘I believe that it’s a simple business decision to link profit to purpose. Being an ethical business is about more than just

More companies do have responsibility and sustainability on their agenda

TALK STRATEGY

helping society, though that is, of course important. ‘For retailers, good CSR has been shown to drive sales and increase customer loyalty. Our own research has found that nearly half of Britons (49%) would spend more money with a retailer if they donated to a charity, for example.’ Being eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable may seem like a minefield of issues, but start with the small simple changes. For example, the Energy Saving Trust is still working hard to phase out inefficient light bulbs across the EU. The majority of the 650 million light bulbs in UK homes are inefficient. Replacing these inefficient light bulbs can make a real difference to our national energy consumption. Not only that - by swapping all your inefficient light bulbs you could save around £55 a year, a saving that would no doubt increase greatly in a commercial property. Of course, companies still have to think about their bottom line. Martin Chilcott, CEO of 2degrees, the sustainable business community, whose members include Tesco and Asda, says: ‘The good news is that changing course does not have to stunt growth or herald a return to the dark ages.

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TALK STRATEGY ECO & ETHICAL ISSUES

‘Changing course provides businesses with a real opportunity to cut costs, reduce risks, innovate and grow by being more sustainable. Recent research has uncovered compelling evidence of the operational savings to be made through increased collaboration between companies trying to be more sustainable. ‘One study found that the UK manufacturing sector could save £1.9 billion on energy by working collaboratively with their supply chain; another that manufacturing companies undertaking collaboration initiatives can boost profit margins by 12%. ‘Walkers Crisps saved its supply chain £1.15 million by reducing energy use related to how farmers prepared their potatoes, while Tesco runs a buying club for its suppliers, which realises up to 25% savings on equipment cost and results in an approximately 80% reduction in lighting energy bills.’ Even established global companies are making the environment, ethics and sustainability a priority. Tim Griffin, vice president and managing director of Dell UK says: ‘In 2012, we launched a commitment to create a new sustainability strategy for Dell – the 2020 Legacy of Good Plan. The plan means that we focus on three main

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The ethical question is an interesting one, as it can mean different things to different people

areas: we take action to benefit the environment, strengthen our communities, and engage our people in a diverse and inclusive workforce.’ Some companies are actually becoming greener without even knowing it. Darren Fell, founder of Crunch Accounting says: ‘The widespread adoption of cloud services is not only cutting down massively on paperwork, but is more energy efficient than running servers on site. ‘Recycling is also now the norm, and the Government has several incentives in place to encourage adoption of green measures (reduced VAT on solar panels, allowances for electric vehicles etc.) ‘At Crunch, we’re putting a cycle to work scheme in place, and we always try to use local suppliers where we can. The ethical question is an interesting one, as it can mean different things to different people. I think the key is making sure you’re contributing to the local area – you want your business to be a boon, not a burden.” Judi Marshall, professor at Lancaster University Management School, says the best way of going forward is making small changes and building on them for a green future.

‘SMEs are in a wonderful position to integrate economic, environmental and social purposes. ‘They have the opportunity to build responsible networks of connections, and to focus on creating the basis for a responsible business. Larger firms are also under pressure to demonstrate the responsible basis of their supply chains, and so SMEs with “good” credentials are at an advantage for winning contracts. ‘Despite the urgency that businesses start to take appropriate action, we’re all in this for the long game, and a good deal needs to be learnt as we go along. Alongside leadership, learning is the key issue as individuals and organisations, and developing our ability to learn in challenging contexts when the odds may appear to be against change.’ Statistics taken from: The Department of Energy and Climate Change, Department for Transport, The Energy Saving Trust.

FEBRUARY 2014

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Business Junction, London’s premier Business network, invites you to a Free networkinG event Business Junction is offering all talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of our Business Junction offers all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of the 5 august networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). following February Business Junction networking events in London which are also listed on our website. networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at tower Hill

Thurs 1st Aug

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Nearest tube: Tower Hill

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Thurs 6th Feb Thurs 8th Aug 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch at Babble City networking & Babylon restaurant Nearest tube: Liverpool Street at High st. kensington 45 Old Broad Street, EC2Nlunch 1HU at the roof Gardens

Thurs 13th Feb Wed 14th Aug 12.30-2.30pm

Networking lunch at Casa di Fiori networking lunch at Freemasons Hall at covent Garden 22 Woodstock Street, W1C 2AR Nearest tube: Bond Street

Thurs 22nd Aug

Wed 19th Feb 8-10am

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60 Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ

Nearest tube: Holborn

Champagne Taittinger networking breakfast at the Royal College of Surgeons networking lunch at the Happenstance at st. paul’s The Royal College of Surgeons 1A Ludgate Hill, EC4M 7AA Nearest tube: St Paul’s 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields tube: street Leicester Square London, WC2A 3PE networking lunch at dirty dicks atNearest Liverpool

202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR

Nearest tube: Liverpool Street

Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk with the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: talkbusiness2/13 now in its 12 year and with over 450 member companies, Business Junction is London’s leading independent business network. we run 80+ pan-London networking events each year including a weekly lunch, a monthly champagne taittinger breakfast and 6 evening events, all at different high quality central London venues.

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PATENTS

he legislation introducing Patent Box came into force last year, and companies can now seek to apply a lower rate of corporation tax to profits earned from its qualifying patented inventions and other innovations. Here, I outline the key considerations for any company wishing to benefit from this scheme.

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WHAT ARE THE PREREQUISITES? As the name suggests, the Patent Box regime is primarily concerned with companies that own or exclusively license-in patents which meet the qualifying criteria discussed below. Additionally, Patent Box is only beneficial if your company or the wider group is liable to corporation tax and makes, or will make, a profit from exploiting those patented inventions. THE BENEFITS Patent Box offers qualifying companies a reduction in corporation tax to 10% on worldwide profits generated from the exploitation of eligible patents (albeit the reduced rate is being phased in over five years and will not be fully available until 2017, as shown by hmrc.gov.uk/ct/formsrates/claims/patent-box.htm). It is also worth noting that the regime is an elective one, rather than being automatic, so a company wishing to benefit will have to take positive steps to claim the reduced rate. HOW DO YOU QUALIFY? In order to qualify for Patent Box, there are three questions that must be answered: 1. Do you have a “qualifying right”? 2. Are you the owner/exclusive licensee of an “eligible patent”? 3. Do you satisfy a “development

TALK STRATEGY

Thinking inside the box

Martin Spiller, partner with Jenson Solutions, angel investor, and finance lecturer, explores the benefits of the Patent Box regime condition” (and if applicable the “active ownership test”)? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then Patent Box will not apply. QUESTION 1: DO YOU HAVE A QUALIFYING RIGHT? In order to have a qualifying right, your company must own or exclusively license-in patents granted by: • the UK Intellectual Property Office. • the European Patent Office. • the following countries in the European Economic Area: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Sweden.

Patent Box offers qualifying companies a reduction in corporation tax to 10%

STEP 2: ARE YOU THE OWNER/EXCLUSIVE LICENSEE OF AN “ELIGIBLE PATENT”? If you are the valid owner of a patent, then the test should be relatively straightforward. Have you established or transferred

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TALK STRATEGY PATENTS

the relevant ownership rights to your company? Situations are more complicated where the use of the patent is granted under license. In these cases, the license must be granted by the owner (or an “exclusive” licensee) and must be “exclusive” in that it: Confers one or more rights to the exclusion of all other persons. Grants exclusivity throughout at least one entire national territory in a particular market segment. Gives the right to bring infringement proceedings or receive the whole or greater part of any damages awarded. There is therefore a significant onus on ensuring, for Patent Box purposes at least, that the license agreement grants valid rights to satisfy the requirements of the regime. Based on our experience to date, this has not often been the case, and license owners may wish to conduct a review or instruct professionals to review prior to making the Patent Box election, given the potential cost of failure. It is also worth noting that modified arrangements are in place for intra-group licenses. The general view is that no formal license agreement would necessarily be required if “exclusivity” is clear from the way the business operates, although again a prudent approach might be to ensure that in all situations, a valid license agreement is in place. STEP 3 Part A: Do you satisfy the “development condition”? In addition to the above, your company must also have made a

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“significant contribution” to the development of the qualifying patent. The legislation appears to wish to prevent dormant holding companies simply acquiring patents and benefiting from the Patent Box. The guidance provided by HMRC makes specific reference to one or more factors, such as cost, time, effort, value and impact as relevant considerations and also provides particular guidance in change of ownership situations. For full details see hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/ cirdmanual/CIRD210100.htm. Part B: Does a group claimant company also satisfy the “active ownership” test? The requirements go further than just seeking to prevent claimant companies from being a passive intellectual property holding company, by requiring (even in a group situation) that they play an “active role” in managing the qualifying rights held. In particular, the claimant company must be involved in planning and decision-making activities associated with developing and exploiting eligible patents. WHAT IS “QUALIFYING INCOME”? Assuming that you meet all of the above criteria, then the Patent Box benefits, namely the reduced 10% corporation tax, can be claimed on the following “qualifying income”: • Sales income from eligible patented items, as well as non-patented items that incorporate eligible patented items or other products wholly/mainly designed to be incorporated into above. • License fees/royalties earned

Clearly, for SME’s there is now ever more reason to examine the benefits of patents

from licenses granted under eligible patents. • Receipts from infringement proceedings or damages/ insurance proceeds/other compensation in regards to eligible patents. • “Notional royalty” income from sale of services/goods produced using a patented process. In conclusion, for a company that owns one or more patents, then Patent Box represents a potentially attractive tax regime. This is particularly true if your patent covers a small innovative component of a larger product, as the worldwide total income from that product could be deemed as “qualifying income” and all of the earnings would subject to the 10% tax rate. Clearly, for SME’s there is now ever more reason to examine the benefits of patents, over and above the legal protections offered, particularly considering extending patent protection to cover the process and technology used to benefit from the wider coverage the regime offers. For those that license-in intellectual property there should be a focus on ensuring that your licenses are drafted with care so that the rights conferred fit with the requirements of the regime. Either way, those involved in patentable technology should not only be thinking outside the box, for the first time they should perhaps be thinking about how to stay inside it as well. Contact: jensonsolutions.com wo

FEBRUARY 2014

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SALES AND MERGERS

TALK STRATEGY

How to value a business

Mark Hildred, managing partner at Moore Thompson Chartered Accountants, discusses how you can value your business for sale, exit or merger

ith the economy seemingly on the road to recovery, many business owners may start thinking again about resurrecting their exit plans. When thinking about an exit strategy, it is important to think about the possible routes open to you, which may include a trade sale, merger, management buy-in (MBI) or buy-out (MBO). When planning a sale, merger, MBO or MBI, it is important to correctly value your company. As seen by the recent sale of Royal Mail, even the Government can get it wrong. It’s important to consider all the business valuation techniques. Here’s a basic overview of the five commonly used techniques to value a business:

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1. MULTIPLE OF EARNINGS VALUATION The most commonly used business valuation method is based on the earnings a buyer will be able to extract from the business before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). The valuation of the

business model that a buyer might reasonably expect to apply. A reasonable annual growth in revenue and costs is projected, based on the current operation but adjusted to reflect the current position in the economic cycle and the costs that a buyer will incur.

business is therefore a function of the EBITDA and a multiplier. The multiplier used depends on the industry sector. 2. MULTIPLE OF TURNOVER VALUATION As the name suggests, it simply calculates the value of the business as a multiple of its annual turnover. In some cases, the turnover will be adjusted to reflect just the turnover that is derived from the contract agreements or regularly repeated client needs. 3. NET BOOK VALUE This is used mainly for manufacturing or engineering sector businesses where there are significant tangible assets in the form of machinery and/or buildings. It looks at the net book value, which is the sum of the assets less total liabilities. This figure is then adjusted to reflect the circumstances, real value of assets, the value of debtors to the purchaser, and goodwill. 4. FORWARD-LOOKING BUSINESS MODEL VALUE This looks at the future

As seen by the recent sale of Royal Mail, even the Government can get it wrong

5. SIMPLIFIED DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW VALUE This method is based on the sum of the dividends forecast over a certain period of time in the future, plus a residual value at the end of the period. The value today of each future dividend is calculated using a discounted interest rate, which takes account of the risk and the time value of money. When you are deciding on the bottom-line valuation of your company, you should also think about what type of investor you are looking to attract. The value may differ whether you are selling to an individual or company, or merging with a rival. Contact: moorethompson.co.uk

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TALK STRATEGY EXITS

SMEs selling big We look back at some of the biggest small business sales BEN & JERRY’S AND UNILEVER Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield met at school, and when they left they didn’t get very far. The two knew nothing about running a business, but split the cost of $5 for an ice cream-making course, then they combined $8,000 life savings and secured a $4,000 bank loan to open their business in 1978. The company grew from strength to strength and was acquired by Unilever in 2000 for $326 million (around £197 million). AVIATE AND YAHOO! Aviate is a company that makes software that replaces the standard home screen on Android devices. It was founded in 2011, and before it had even finished developing it’s product, it became a target for acquisition. Yahoo acquired Aviate for an undisclosed amount last year. Reports have recently indicated that Yahoo paid $80 million (around £48 million).

SUMMLY AND YAHOO! Last year Nick D’Aloisio finished developing the newsreader app Summly, which was purchased by Yahoo. The deal was not formally disclosed, but the London Evening Standard reported Yahoo would have paid the 17-year-old between £20 million and £40 million. Nick started making the app when he was 15, and the sale was likely to have transformed him into one of the world’s youngest selfmade millionaires.

INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK Instagram was launched in 2010. In 2012 the firm had more than 30 million users uploading more than five million new pictures every day – at which time Facebook took over. Facebook’s chief executive pledged to continue Instagram as a separate brand, to rival other networks. At the time of writing, Instagram has 150 million users uploading an average of 55 million photos a day.

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THE BODY SHOP AND L’OREAL The Body Shop was founded by Anita and Gordon Roddick and the first shop opened in Brighton in 1976. With it’s ethically-sourced products, it was one of the icons of the high street in the 1980s. In 2006 The Body Shop became part of the French L’Oreal Group.

FEBRUARY 2014

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We challenge you and your staff to take our sales assement. Everybody that takes the assessment will be enrolled onto our Sales Training Academy, for free. At www.usptraining.co.uk we have a very exciting offer for anyone looking to improve their or their sales team’s sales skills. We offer you the chance to test your sales skills against our sophisticated online sales assessment. We are also offering you the opportunity to join the USP Training Academy for free where you can access the Adam Caplan sales training and assessment modules. This sales training material is innovative and our clients see tremendous results from it. If you want to improve your existing staff, find out how good they are or bring in more salespeople, we will deliver results unlike anything you’ve experienced previously apart from the good old days when customers were queuing up to buy from you.

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Our innovative sales training and sales assessment programme is going to be free to access for readers of Talk Business. Use the username TALK and the password BUSINESS to access our sales training and assessment site at www.usptraining.co.uk We offer specialist sales recruitment, sales training and sales assessment services from our new London offices.

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ADAM CAPLAN

TALK STRATEGY

The 5 A's of being ace at sales This month sales author and coach, Adam Caplan discusses the five attributes needed to be successful in sales

hat is the most important quality of a sales person and their subsequent success? Attitude, ability, aptitude, assiduity or audacity? Let’s look at each in turn, before looking at how you can assess their strength in each area.

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ATTITUDE: DO THEY WANT TO? If you are a salesperson or employ a salesperson, you might think it is a given that all salespeople want to do it. Selling gives you terrific rewards. A successful salesperson can earn more

money than an administrator; in fact you can award yourself a pay rise by simply selling more and earning larger commissions or bonuses. A great salesperson can have a tremendous amount of work-based satisfaction as each sale that goes through provides excellent feedback and affirmation that, in turn, can be extremely motivational. However, not all salespeople seem to really want to do it. They appear not to enjoy it. Paralysed by fear or rejection, they go through the motions, needing to be pushed the whole time. Let’s look at the other areas to see if we can discover why this could be.

Do natural born salespeople exist?

ABILITY: DO THEY HAVE THE SKILLS? Perhaps the problem with the salesperson is that they do not know how to sell correctly. We often see a huge improvement in attitude postsales training. If you get more successful at something, you enjoy it more, and therefore want to do it more. Selling is easy, if you know how to do it the right way. However, even after salespeople have been trained, some of them will still not be successful. They now know how to do it correctly and yet still need pushing.

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TALK STRATEGY ADAM CAPLAN

APTITUDE: DO THEY HAVE THE TALENT? This is a real bone of contention in sales training. Is it all about the talent? Do natural born salespeople exist? Can you learn the talent that the natural born salesperson appears to have automatically? What makes a salesperson successful? Are there certain traits that make one salesperson more successful than another? Are there aptitude tests that can ascertain if someone can sell? My opinion is that, while there are certain personality traits that are beneficial to being a good salesperson, it doesn’t mean that you cannot be successful if your persona doesn’t include these traits at the start of your sales career. Talent is nothing without application. You only have to look at the undisputed talent of the footballer, George Best compared to the lesser talent but greater application of Paul Scholes. Best won three major trophies in his career at Manchester United compared to the 25 of Paul Scholes. Best’s career lasted ten years, whilst Scholes’ first class career lasted nineteen years. If Best had Scholes’ application, who knows what he could have achieved? What talent, should a salesperson be imbued with? I’d say that the ability to react quickly to opportunity, and being able to identify what the customer wants is more important than charm or personality. If somebody has the ability to think quickly, has learnt the skills and wants to sell, they are probably succeeding, however it’s not the whole picture. What about their assiduity or audacity? ASSIDUITY: WILL THEY STICK AT IT? Even talented, motivated and capable salespeople can fail. They start off brilliantly and score early successes, yet like the

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Courage in sales is needed when salespeople experience rejection and bad sales calls

fable of the tortoise and the hare, the slower plodder ends up with bigger sales volume and still in employment years down the line. Why do great salespeople have the staying power and some potentially great, just fade away? Part of the answer lies in how strong their attitude, ability and aptitude are, however, part will be down to their assiduity. If they have the tenacity to keep going when it’s not easy, if they have the strength of character to persevere, this will mean they will endure. All of these attributes will mean nothing if there’s a lack of courage. AUDACITY: DO THEY HAVE THE GUTS TO DO IT? Here’s where it comes to the crunch. Does the salesperson have the courage to do the job? Courage in sales is needed when salespeople experience rejection and bad sales calls. Here’s the funny thing, the more skilled they are, the more positive their attitude is, the more confident they are, the better the sales calls. If the sales

calls are better, it means that the outcomes will be better, which means less rejection. Ultimately this means there is less need for audacity in the first place. There will always be the requirement for a salesperson to ”go for it” in sales calls. They will need to have the courage to ask the questions, to close the deals and to pick up the phone in the first place. However, if they do the job correctly and utilise all of the first four A’s in this article, there will be less need for just courage. In summary, a good salesperson needs to exhibit all of these attributes to be successful. Contact: cellularattitude.co.uk Adam Caplan runs international sales training company, Cellular Attitude, as well as his sales recruitment company, Unique Sales Professionals in Leicester Square, London.

FEBRUARY 2014

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ADVICE

The Sales Doctor

TALK STRATEGY

How do you recruit great sales staff on a budget? Sales doctor, Tony Morris gives his tips

Q: A:

Dear Sales Doctor, We want to recruit more sales staff to build our team. We don’t have a formal HR department and we also don’t have the money to pay big recruitment fees. Can you give us advice on recruiting the right people on a limited budget? Finding good sales people with a proven track record is challenging. The most important characteristic to look for when meeting candidates is a genuine positive attitude. This is something that cannot be taught, and is quite rare to find. Skills can be taught. As you’re on a budget, recruitment companies are not going to be an option for you. If their fee is that low that it becomes affordable, then you could probably do as good a job as they’ll do. I would recommend being crystal clear on the type of sales person you are looking for and then write a job description and advert. To help you, look at job boards, such as Reed. Once you are satisfied with your job advert and description: upload it on the job boards. I would recommend Gumtree as it is £30 for the month and can be very successful. Depending on your budget; either try this for a week and see the response you get, or post it on one of the top job boards too. I’ve had the best response from Reed when looking for sales people. On the advert use a phone number that goes directly to a voicemail you have set up. The voice message should clearly

welcome them to the recruitment line and ask the candidate to leave their name and number and in a couple of sentences why they feel they are right for the job. As a good telephone manner is an important part of sales, this idea will immediately screen about 40% of candidates. You then call back the approximate 40% of candidates to politely tell them they haven’t been successful, and thank them for applying.  With the remaining 60% of candidates, call them back and organise a telephone interview that afternoon. Provide them with a time slot and separate these by 15-minute intervals. Approximately 30% of the candidates will not bother to call back. These two screening processes remove the time wasters. After you’ve carried out your phone interviews, invite the successful candidates to a first stage face-to-face interview. Just before you invite them, say “we have been inundated for this job, if you would like to go away and think about it, that’s absolutely fine, just let me know what you’d like to do.” Again it’s another process to remove the ones that are not fully committed. Then hold your interviews and choose who impresses you most. Some key things to look out for in a successful sales candidate are: 1. Their appearance - have they dressed the part? 2. Ask them a few things about your company - if they haven’t done their homework, they are not that committed.

3. Have they prepared some questions to ask you about your company and the job? This demonstrates how interested they are. 4. Do they close at the end by saying something along the lines of “What is the next step?” or “Do you think I’ll fit in with your company?” Best of luck finding your team. TONY MORRIS, sales doctor Tony Morris is the director of the Sales Doctor, a sales training company based in Covent Garden, London. Contact: wedosalestraining.com

Need a diagnosis?

Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ‘FAO the sales doctor’: dawn.murden@ astongreenlake.com

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Creative marketing, Communication and design. Your point of difference. To view our full range of services visit: www.symbiancreate.co.uk or call 0844 880 6790 William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex CM24 8AJ London address: 6 Mitre Passage, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0ER

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CLIMATE CHANGE

odgy summers aside, the UK is pretty lucky with its weather. The temperature usually stays within a 30-degree range and rarely sees extreme conditions. Such events, and their disastrous consequences, are normally seen on the news, and are a rare occurrence here. But this country isn’t likely to stay clear of weather-based disasters forever.

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and power outages seem to be in people’s minds – but these are things a company can protect itself against; there is little anyone can do to shield a business from weather-related disasters. For every hour your business is out of action following a disaster, your company may be losing money – and customers – fast. But cloud disaster recovery can help.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR WEATHER? In February last year, the UK experienced an earthquake in Durness, the largest to hit the area in 120 years. Yet quakes aren’t the biggest threat to the UK. Over 185,000 commercial properties in the UK are at risk of flooding. The threat of climate change means that one in six buildings, both residential and commercial, are in danger of damage or destruction by flood. And figures are set to climb. Experts say sea levels will rise as a result of melting polar ice caps; meaning coastal lowlands are the most vulnerable areas. River flows will increase due to frequent rainstorms. The Environment Agency expects an average 20% increase in river flows by 2080. Worryingly, offices have been built in areas susceptible to flooding for many years, and many business owners are not even aware that they are at risk.

WHAT IS CLOUD DISASTER RECOVERY? Cloud disaster recovery involves keeping copies of data outside the local disaster zone in a remote data centre, and in the event of a disaster, when your servers are down, restoring your systems in a cloud environment before physically replacing ruined onsite equipment. In short, your critical business applications remain accessible through a secure online connection. Cloud recovery is faster than restoring physical servers. Another benefit is its flexibility. It enables a business to decide how often data is backed up, and to plan how fast and in what order data must be restored in the event of a disaster. The more important the data, the lower the recovery time objective (RTO). The advantages of cloud disaster recovery are compelling, and one of the greatest arguments for the solution is protecting businesses from our changing environment. Read the papers, listen to the news, or take a peak outside: the temperamental British climate is getting worse and we can no longer afford to be complacent about the potential for natural disaster.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESS? It’s easy to forget natural disasters when drawing up a disaster recovery plan. When listing risks, threats like burglary

TALK STRATEGY

Are you in a danger zone? Aad Dekkers, EMEA director of marketing at EVault, a provider of backup solutions, discusses climate change and business risks

The advantages of cloud disaster recovery are compelling

Flooding, earthquakes and fires are very real threats that can destroy your business unless the necessary precautions are taken to protect company data and to ensure its speedy recovery. Contact: evault.com/uk/

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mARKETING

What makes you unique? Y ou may just think of it as the stuff you throw on a salad, but at more than £100 per 100ml bottle, genuine traditional balsamic vinegar, or “balsamico tradizionale”, is known as “liquid gold”. I recently visited the Pedroni Family Vineyard, in Modena, Italy, to learn, taste, and experience the difference between “real” balsamic and the imitators in your grocery store, and find out why and how it can demand such a high price tag. It’s not just the taste, but also the long list of unique selling points that makes this condiment one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. The more unique selling points you have, the more valuable your products and services become. Here are balsamico tradizionale’s USPs and my corresponding tips:

1. Balsamico tradizionale is the only balsamic vinegar with nothing added to it. It is just grapes alone, which are aged for a minimum of 12 years. Imitators will often add sugar, honey, and additives. It’s thought to have medicinal purposes too. In fact, Modena is the only town that wasn’t affected by the plague. Tip: The key here is to keep it simple. One thing done perfectly can have tremendous value. 2. It can only be produced in the Emilia Romagna/Modena

Kimberly Davis, founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, discusses how having clear USPs can help your business region of Italy. There is something about this patch of earth, which is only 10 miles in circumference, that creates the perfect conditions for these unique grapes. There are only so many grapes you can grow over 10 miles. This limits the supply and increases the demand. Tip: Is your location important to your product? Can it add value? If it can – use it.

One thing done perfectly can have tremendous value

3. There is a special commission of expert tasters who must pass and approve each batch of balsamico tradizionale before it can be released for sale. If it doesn’t pass the test, it doesn’t get released. Tip: Can you add a stamp of quality guarantee to your product like this? If so, it builds trust in the brand, thus increasing the value in the mind of the customer. 4. Modena is also the home of the Ferarri car company, and car designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro created the unique bottle for balsamico tradizionale. Only approved, balsamico tradizionale can

and must be sold in this 100ml bottle. If you see this round bottle, you know it’s the real deal. Again, this builds trust, offers exclusivity, and greatly increases value. Tip: Is there another company or celebrity you could team up with to give your product extra value and status? Endorsement, a special design or partnership can help a brand expand. To learn more about how to strengthen your USP and increase your value, even if you don’t think you have one, contact Sarsaparilla Marketing.

Kimberly Davis is the founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, an author, and speaker. Contact: sarsaparillamarketing.com

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TEN STEPS OF TWITTER

TALK MARKETING

Ten steps of Twitter Step four: Website click-through Dawn Murden sets out to improve the Talk Business Twitter - follow our journey and improve yours too ast month, Joel from Brandwatch instructed me to focus on getting some visually engaging images onto our Twitter feed. Content that our followers would find valuable, so they would retweet and engage in conversation with us. ‘Your tweet about smart vs. casual attire worked well,’ Joel said, ‘It had six retweets. ‘It has a clear message and a good image.’ Instead of just posting links to our features and news stories, we’ve started adding relevant pictures too. It takes more of the timeline and a picture often captures attention. ‘This month I want to concentrate on driving people to the website and setting goals,’ Joel said. ‘Sometimes people can get too caught up using social media, just for social media’s sake.’ This month my goal is to find out how much traffic has been

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coming from Twitter. ‘For us, we have measured how much traffic comes from Facebook and Twitter, and for us we know Twitter is better,’ Joel said. Joel suggested I use Bitly and Google Analytics to measure how much traffic comes from Twitter. We are already using Google Analytics, but I was unaware of the benefits of Bitly. We previously used TinyURL to shorten our links, but with Bitly you can track how many clicks each link gets, and where they are being clicked. ‘Google Analytics has richer insight, but Bitly is really easy to use,’ Joel said. ‘You just create a profile and make shorter links to post onto social media.’ ‘We often tweet the same link three times. Once with just the title, the next day we include a quote, and a few weeks later we might add a picture or something totally different.

I want to concentrate on driving people to the website and setting goals

‘Then we use Bitly to track which one has worked best.’ From doing this you can learn what your audience likes best, and tailor your output in the best possible way. This works for small businesses, but if you’re larger you will want to give each tweet a different Bitly link, so it’s easier to track, rather than trawling through thousands of tweets. After my call with Joel, I used Google Analytics to see how many visitors had come to our website from social media over the past 12 months. I then added the total number of each month together for the past year, and divided them by 12 to work out the mean average. This average has given me a number to hit monthly. Once I have worked out which tweets work best with Bitly, I can then set myself the target of increasing this by 5% every month. Brandwatch solutions are used by leading brands and agencies around the globe, including organisations such as Dell, Kellogg’s, and Digitas. Contact: brandwatch.com

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BEING ECO

or some businesses, operating on eco and environmental principles is everything. Their processes, products and services can withstand the scrutiny of even the most zealous defender of the planet. However, for many businesses the idea of reviewing their business through an environmental lens is daunting. There are however strong commercial reasons to be an ecofriendly, green business, not to mention the obvious incumbent on every one of us to protect our planet and its precious resources. So, if you’re wondering how you can embrace green and eco-credentials, here are some practical tips, based on case studies of some of my clients.

TALK MARKETING

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1. Ask your suppliers for their eco and environmental policy. If they don’t have one, find out what they’re doing anyway. You don’t want to be in the same position some brands have found themselves in – namely grabbing the headlines because suppliers are polluting rivers or providing sweatshop conditions for workers. 2. Audit what you’re currently doing that would give credibility to the eco/ environmental label. At a meeting with the directors of a white goods retailer, I was met with blank stares when I asked for their environmental policy. Digging deeper, I discovered they recycled all cardboard packaging; they’d invested in a machine that compacted the polystyrene packaging and had found a supplier willing to recycle it. Staff had been trained in how to advise potential customers on the environmental merits of each appliance, and they’d managed to reduce their skips for landfill from 20+ a month, to two.

Why go green? Dee Blick, founder and MD of consultancy The Marketing Gym, talks about how to start being eco-friendly Another client, a pest controller, was offering heat and steam treatments and chemical-free products long before European directives had come into force. Interestingly, until I pointed it out, it hadn’t dawned on any of these businesses that they already had the makings of a credible environmental policy

Add your eco and environmental statement to your website

3. When you’ve reviewed your processes, products, suppliers and business environment, you should have some ideas for making positive changes. Establish big goals among the easier to attain quick wins. Cocoa Loco makes organic Fairtrade chocolate products. When the founder, Sarah Payne started out making chocolate brownies from her kitchen table, her goal was that every item in her range would be

Fairtrade. Realising she couldn’t achieve this in one hit she began converting more products to Fairtrade ingredients, until in 2013 she reached the magical figure of 100%. 4. If you hit a brick wall, scrutinise your competitors. What are their eco and environmental initiatives? This may be enough to give you a starting point. Don’t forget to let the world know. Add your eco and environmental statement to your website. Include it in your presentations when pitching for business. Market your eco and green credentials with enthusiasm and pride to help secure new business and retain existing clients. Contact: themarketinggym.org Twitter: @deeblick

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TALK MARKETING PUBLIC RELATIONS

5 steps TO save time hat would you do with a free halfday every week? Visit the galleries and museums you fly past on your daily commute? Go to the playground with your children? Or tackle another important part of your business that you keep putting off? Let’s face it; none of us would be stuck for things to do with an extra half-day. And yet for most of us the idea is little more than an idle fantasy. One day we will have time for culture, exercise, family and so on. Until then the UK’s PR professionals are stuck on an endless treadmill of client meetings, press release writing, media sell-ins, and AVE calculations. Here are five things every PR professional and business owner can do today to save time. Some involve a new (but free or inexpensive) technology or service; others simply require a shift in mindset. Why not pick one and start doing it today?

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1. LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE INBOX Studies have proven just how addictive email can be. Dr Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after an email

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What would you do with a spare afternoon? Hisham El-Marazki, CEO of media analysis firm PR Gym, reveals how PR professionals and business owners can claw back hours interruption. So if you check your email every five minutes that is 8.5 hours a week you spend trying to remember what you were just doing. It is time to take action. Turn off notifications so email no longer invades your space. Resolve to only look at your email twice a day, and let people know that is what you are doing – set up an autorespond message if necessary. And surprise people by responding to their email with a phone call. It cuts down the number of back-and-forth email exchanges, and will encourage some people to call you next time they need to make contact.

It takes 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after an email interruption

2. GET SOMEONE ELSE TO DO YOUR AVE CALCULATIONS (CHEAPLY AND ACCURATELY) There are many services out there. Ours at PR Gym offers a simple online system. Users input their coverage, detailing publication, page position, sentiment, use of key messages and so on. The system then calculates AVE and PR Value, and compiles it all into a professional-looking report, which the user can generate as and when they need it.

The most obvious benefit of using our service is the time saving. You no longer need to spend days collecting all this information on AVEs, circulation numbers, CPMs etc. Although technology may be able to gather explicit terms, implicit coverage may be missed as automated machines cannot understand a writer’s wit, style, or a double entendre. 3. WORK OUT WHAT STEALS YOUR TIME For anyone who has worked in an agency, to hear timesheets mentioned in the same breath as time saving might seem odd. For agency staff, they are the irritation at the end of the week that stops them completing client work or going home. Yet, toggl.com is a tool that allows you to quickly track what you are spending time on, and essentially to produce your own timesheet. Try doing it. You may be surprised at what actually takes up your time. Once armed with this information, it should be easy to trim an hour off one of the many time-stealing, unimportant activities.

FEBRUARY 2014

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4. ACCEPT THAT NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE PERFECT Everybody wants to do their best at work. No one likes producing work, which is just good enough. Yet, this constant striving for perfection can be highly damaging, not only to our work-life balance, but also to our performance. If we aim for 100% on everything we do, there is no scope to prioritise the most important work or the most urgent tasks. We would be far better off re-focusing on what truly matters at work. So, resolve to assign a priority to each task that lands on your desk. Consider whether it is important or urgent. If both, then put it near the top of your ‘to-do’ list. If neither, put it towards the bottom. If one but not the other, think about when you need to do it.

save days of online searches. Which one of those five ideas will you take away and start doing? Each one alone will save you at least an hour a week. Do all five and you should easily find yourself with an afternoon a week to spare. Then comes the really difficult part of working out how you will spend it! Contact: prgym.co.uk

Talk Business Tip We tried out Toggl and IFTTT for ourselves – check out our verdict online here: talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk/ timesaving

Very few of us use the internet as time-effectively as we could 5. PUT THE INTERNET TO WORK FOR YOU Very few of us use the internet as time-effectively as we could. We spend hours scanning shopping sites, opening and re-opening banking apps, refining our Google search terms, and flicking through irrelevant social media updates from people we barely know. If This Then That – ifttt. com – is an ingenious platform that allows you to set up a series of rules, so that what is interesting to you on the internet comes to you rather than you having to go out and find it. For example, you can set a rule so if a photo of you is posted to Instagram you receive a text message. It sounds simple but it can literally

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hen it comes to being eco, ethical and sustainable in business, I have to confess I’ve not made conscious changes or introduced anything radical. However, we are doing things for the good of the company, which are eco-friendly. Like a lot of companies, we are using less paper and becoming more technology driven. In fact, this year, we have a lot of digital-driven plans. We are asking ourselves how we can deliver more user-friendly information, and give potential clients and customers information with just the click of a button. Our staff don’t go anywhere without paper and a pen. Constant information gathering is very important for us. We want to take away paper. It can easily get lost and often the knowledge transfer can be time consuming or difficult. For example, what if you can’t read someone’s handwriting? One of the first changes we’ve made is giving staff dictaphones.

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Lee McQueen, founder of the Raw Talent Academy and BBC’s Apprentice season four winner, discusses being eco-friendly

If everyone does a little, it makes a big difference

We interview every candidate face to face, and now rather than scribbling notes, they can record the conversation and transfer that data electronically. This has made the process paper-less. We have also just invented a new database, which is in the cloud. This is very important for us, because we have 5,000 videos of candidates; the cloud is perfect for this as it has a lot of space. Unfortunately, due to our location, a cycle to work scheme is not viable. However, something we actively promote and practice is a car sharing scheme. Many of our staff travel to work and meetings together, and we organise back-to-back meetings to limit car usage. On a personal level, I feel recycling is very important. I handle it all at home, but unfortunately as a business, we’re not that great at it. We have lots of cabinets filled with paper, and have got into bad habits. However this is something we are looking

to change. Not only are we looking to recycle paper waste, but also, because we are moving a lot of data digitally, this means we will use less paper, reducing the need for recycling altogether. Although we are not doing anything radical, we are doing our bit. If everyone does a little, it makes a big difference. Influencing people and change can often be one of the hardest parts. Some people are very traditionalist, and don’t feel the need to be more ecofriendly or adapt digitally. They are set in their ways. My advice to any SME would be to start how you mean to go on. Growing your business with an initial concentration on eco, ethical and sustainable values will ensure staff are in that mindset from day one. A company with 200 people who have been there 15 years will find it hard to introduce new initiatives. Contact: rawtalentacademy.co.uk

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TALK PEOPLE SECRET DIARY

Secret diary of an entrepreneur O xford art graduate and former primary school teacher, Oorla Morgan had been making jewellery for friends and family for many years alongside her day job. She finally took the plunge and set up Oorla Jewellery in 2010.

DAY ONE: DAISY CHAINS Once the children have been safely deposited at school, I come home to the comparative peace and serenity of a working day. I respond to emails and Facebook comments and add new orders to the book. I’m a Facebook addict. I love sharing articles and photos and building relationships with my customers and other small business owners. The feedback I get from my followers has helped me with many decisions from design choices to sourcing attractive recycled packaging, but I don’t need to check it every 20 minutes. I have to restrict myself to twice a day or I’d never get anything else done! My husband has converted a section of our dining room into a workshop. It is a shrine to beads and beauty. At the moment I’m working on a new daisy range for spring. I bear in mind colour and style trends, but I prefer to test ideas out on Facebook to see what people are looking

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Oorla Morgan, founder of her self-titled handmade jewellery company, gives us an insight into her working week

I take a break from squinting at tiny beads and work on a press release

for. I like my designs to be wearable and simple whilst retaining a quirky individuality so I love the symbolism of motifs and gemstone meanings. My aim is to make jewellery that is contemporary, but not fast fashion. Creating pieces that will often have personal significance and stand the test of time. Some of my all-time favourite commissions have incorporated charms and beads from old pieces of broken or unworn jewellery. I take a break from squinting at tiny beads and work on a press release – I check the brief and the journalist’s name, and that my selected product is a good match, write the copy, attach photos, check the links work, and hit send. I also check my marketing plan and create a mail shot to be sent out this evening. DAY TWO: SNAP HAPPY Today I take a trip to Sunbury antiques market at Kempton Park, to pick up some props for product photography. It’s a real treasure trove of curiosities, but you need to get here early to beat the dealers so I’ve missed all the best bits. I still manage to pick up a couple of lovely vintage bottles and a picture frame.

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SECRET DIARY

TALK PEOPLE

Back at home, I test out my finds to photograph the new daisy range. I also try a piece of bark with moss, which works well with the spring theme and my old faithful slate roof tile. DAY THREE: SOURCING SUPPLIES I get a commission for a 40th birthday. Ideas are emailed back and forth and we eventually decide on lapis lazuli and turquoise, which are both gemstones associated with friendship and loyalty, gorgeous blue tanzanite (the modern birthstone for December) and a tiny silver heart. I spend a couple of hours sourcing beads and charms from my favourite suppliers and place a few orders for upcoming commissions. I buy from British suppliers where possible, but I still have to order gemstones and some gold-filled items from abroad. I also like to use beautiful handmade beads from the hill tribe artisans of Northern Thailand. They have a wonderful organic feel and fit very well with the aesthetic of my work, which has a slightly imperfect beauty that adds warmth and character – the opposite to the cold clinical uniformity of machine-made mass production. DAY FOUR: SETTING UP SHOP I work at The Art Shed in the Medicine Garden, Cobham once a week, where I am a member of an artists’ cooperative in the beautiful Victorian former kitchen garden. I feel a sense of serenity descend whenever I walk through the gate. Having a permanent space to display my jewellery and meet customers face-to-face is amazing. I complete a couple of orders and package them ready to send out in the morning. In the evening I spend some time working on the website and

I also try a piece of bark with moss, which works well

add my new range. It has been an enormous learning curve building the site, with some hairy moments along the way but I am proud of the result. DAY FIVE: INSPIRATIONS I meet with my business mentor, Clare YarwoodWhite this morning. She has provided much-needed support with planning, branding, marketing and record keeping. She keeps me focused and fired up and has even enabled me to see the beauty in a spreadsheet!

I leave her house raring to get to work on a new set of goals. It’s a sunny day so I head off with my camera in my bike basket to Bushy Park. I find macro photography fascinating – the detail that you could so easily miss in the every day; flagstones with lichen, moss on bark and peeling paint on old wood magnified and abstracted into patterns, colour combinations and textures. I feel a new range coming on! Contact: oorlajewellery.co.uk

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Q&A

ugru is a patented multipurpose silicone, which resembles plasticine and can be used to fix and customise anything, from snapped plastic to making hooks. It took six years to develop and was launched in 2010.

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF SUGRU? While I was studying product design at the Royal College of Art back in 2003, I realised that I didn’t really want to design new stuff. There’s enough stuff in the world! So I thought about the stuff we already have, and what makes us want to replace it. I pictured a space age rubber that people could easily form into any shape, which was really durable and versatile. The first version of Sugru was pretty horrible — made from smelly silicone caulk and waste wood dust from the wood workshop. But it helped me hack my kitchen sink plug, and make a knife more comfortable. I knew it was the start of something bigger. HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS TO RE-USE/ FIX THINGS RATHER THAN THROWING THEM AWAY? Looking to a future that’s economically and environmentally uncertain, our behaviour around “stuff” seems to be changing. The recession has played a big part in this. There’s a noticeable attitude change towards excessive consumption – there’s a feeling that we’re smarter than that, and that we want to be in control of what we consume. HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED WITH THE REACTION TO SUGRU? The enthusiasm from people around the world has been overwhelming. It’s not surprising

Dawn Murden spoke to Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, creator of Sugru, the colourful mouldable silicone that can fix or customise almost anything

Fixing the world I pictured a space age rubber that people could easily form into any shape

that people are interested in fixing and making – the maker movement is so strong right now – but the continued support from the Sugru community constantly amazes me. Hearing what our users do with their Sugru is my favourite part of what we do.

DO YOU USE SUGRU YOURSELF? Of course! My house, our office and my bike are covered in it!

WHAT’S THE MOST INNOVATIVE THING YOU’VE USED IT FOR? In 2012, I attached my bike light to my handlebars with an old magnet and Sugru, and it got such a great reaction from the team that we’ve been researching and developing the idea since. We’re now about to launch our very first kit, with Sugru and magnets!

WHAT IS THE GROWTH RATE OF SUGRU? We’ve been overwhelmed by our growth. From sweating away with friends and family in our tiny lab, packaging everything ourselves, to moving to our factory and offices in Hackney, we’ve come a long way. Sugru is now used in more than 140 countries, sold in more than 1,000 stores, and we employ around 40 people. WHAT’S YOUR BEST BIT OF ADVICE FOR A START-UP? Make sure your idea is one that gets you really excited, and one that will make a difference in the world. The road will be full of ups and downs, and challenges you can’t even imagine, and it’s this feeling for the change you want to make that will carry you through. The best piece of advice I’ve had along with the way was when a friend advised me to “start small and make it good” – we try to apply this as often as we can in the projects we do here at Sugru, from videos, to packaging to new ways of working together as a team.

Contact: sugru.com Twitter: @sugru

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HR INSIGHT

here are expected to be interesting developments for employers this year. Some changes are already coming into force, and Whitehall’s focus on reducing the regulatory burden on businesses is likely to lead to more new Government initiatives in the field of employment law. New TUPE regulations came into force from the end of January. Although TUPE will continue to be a legal minefield for employers, the changes are generally quite positive. For example, buyers and sellers of businesses will no longer lose constructive unfair dismissal claims just because the buyer of their business is at a different geographical location and an employee who should transfer cannot or does not wish to move to the buyer’s location. There will also be greater flexibility for employers to make changes to transferring employees’ contractual terms.

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FINANCIAL PENALTIES FOR LOSING EMPLOYERS Tribunals will have the power to fine an employer up to £5,000 (payable to the Government) if they lose a claim and their case has “aggravating features”, such as unreasonable behaviour. The Government is clear that this is not intended to punish genuine mistakes, but it is questionable how far this will protect employers. Most employment disputes revolve around whether or not an employer’s behaviour was “reasonable” and we wonder whether this might make employers feel pushed into settling claims for fear of a fine if they lose. INTRODUCTION OF COMPULSORY PRE-CLAIM CONCILIATION Employees wishing to make a claim will need to submit details of

Key changes for employers in 2014 Heather Matheson, managing director of HR Insight, discusses changes in employment regulations their dispute to ACAS first. They will then be offered pre-claim early conciliation for a period of one month. If conciliation is refused by either party, or is unsuccessful, the claimant will then be able to present their claim to the Employment Tribunal. This could be a very positive development, as it has the potential to encourage settlement talks at an early stage, as long as would-be claimants enter into the spirit of this, rather than treating it as a necessary procedural step before claiming.

Tribunals will have the power to fine an employer up to £5,000

ABOLITION OF DISCRIMINATION QUESTIONNAIRES Discrimination questionnaires are designed to prevent unnecessary claims and prompt a quick resolution. Employers should welcome the abolition of these questionnaires. They can be extremely costly and onerous for employers to

complete, and are too often used by claimants (and solicitors) as a tactic to increase the costs and pressure placed on employers – with the sole aim of getting a settlement offer. EXTENSION OF FLEXIBLE WORKING RIGHTS The Government plans to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees and remove the current statutory procedure for considering requests. Instead employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner and have the right to refuse requests on business grounds. In theory, this should be a good thing for employers, as it removes a layer of bureaucracy; however employers will still need to show that they have considered requests reasonably. Contact: hrinsight.co.uk

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HR

TALK PEOPLE

mall businesses often struggle with HR as they have to cope with many of the same rules and regulations as their larger counterparts, but with fewer staff and smaller budgets. Even companies with just one or two members of staff are subject to the same laws regarding making redundancies, pensions and so on. Here are some of the biggest challenges and how to overcome them:

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FILLING SKILLS GAPS According to research by ORC International, more than 70% of HR professionals say there is a skills gap within their organisation. For small businesses, increased competition for staff may result in them missing out on the employees they need to help their business grow. They can’t always offer full time or permanent contracts, or the same benefits as larger firms. However, working for a smaller organisation has a number of perks you can advertise. Employees typically get a wider range of experiences and the opportunity to work closely with senior management – something they would rarely get in a larger company. SICK LEAVE Sick leave has a huge impact on businesses of all sizes. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests it costs UK employers as much as £29 million a year in lost productivity. Small businesses tend to suffer more than larger firms as limited staff numbers mean they can’t provide adequate cover. To keep the impact of inevitable sick leave to a minimum, all businesses – regardless of size – should have a clear policy for employees calling in sick. It’s also worth monitoring

HR headaches James Hardy, head of Europe at Alibaba.com, a platform that helps small businesses find manufacturers and suppliers, discusses HR in small businesses absences. If you can identify trends, there may be actions you can implement to help improve attendance, for example offering mobile working. Small businesses can be more flexible. If someone is off sick for a serious reason, you may decide to pay them something on top of statutory sick pay at your own discretion.

70% of HR professionals saying there is a skills gap within their organisation

HEALTH AND SAFETY All companies need to take steps to protect the wellbeing of their workforce. Any organisation that employs five or more people is required by law to have a written Health and Safety plan. Employers also need to carry out assessments of risks to employees that are caused by work activities and locations. Small businesses can implement their own plans, such as organising running clubs, in-office fruit baskets, or even outsource it to experts.

This service does come at a cost, but you can recoup some of it as effective health and safety management can lower business insurance costs and reduce sickness rates. PATERNAL LEAVE As of April 2015, new mothers and fathers will be allowed to share their 12 months of parental leave as they see fit. This is likely to put an extra strain on small businesses. While parents do have to give employers a breakdown of how they plan to share their leave eight weeks before it starts, they can also change their proposals twice during the year, making it challenging to plan ahead. However, the Government has suggested that employers will be able to turn down requested leave patterns if they are unable to accommodate particular requests.

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Swiss movement, English heart

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ashions come and go, however when it comes to business, the way in which you and your colleagues dress can have an impact on the way your customers, suppliers and peers perceive you and your company’s overall brand. It is therefore important to determine what visual impression you want to project, and ensure that this is consistent for all of your team. After all, as the old saying goes, “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. In today’s corporate world, uniforms continue to play a major role. In fact, when recalling a number of national brands, their uniforms quickly spring to mind, for example Virgin Atlantic, Mercedes Benz or Persimmon Homes to name just a few. Their strong visual brand identity is made up of many factors, including their work wear. The concept of corporate dressing doesn’t however only apply to large corporates. For entrepreneurs running SMEs, the way in which you and your staff conduct yourselves will speak volumes, and you will be judged as a result. It is therefore important to carefully review what dress code is applied. While many firms today operate a more casual approach to dressing in the workplace, recent research of 1,000 workers found that 70% felt wearing scruffy jeans to work could hinder career prospects, while 61% believe that senior management should take a smarter approach to their work wear. As well as the overall brand perception, applying a dress code, uniform or similar has wider reaching benefits than just branding or visual identity. For example, the motivational impact of a corporate uniform

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Create the right first impression Teresa Stedman, managing director of Stedman Corporate Clothing discusses how to make the best first impression

You only get one chance to make a first impression

should not be overlooked: if you dress smartly and feel good in what you are wearing, this can have a positive impact on confidence levels. A uniform also saves money for staff members who don’t need to fund their own work wardrobe, and is instead enjoyed as an additional perk to the job. I’ve seen this reported elsewhere as the “Apple Store effect”, meaning that if staff feel aligned to the business, they demonstrate higher levels of loyalty and commitment – which ultimately creates a better impression for customers. I would agree with this, having seen it take place with many clients that we have worked with over the years. If you decide that a uniform or dress code is right for your business, what do you need to consider to get the ball rolling? The first step is to not only consider the form, but the function. Yes, the garments have got to look the part and

project the right image, but does it work for you and the job in hand? You need to think about the tasks your team undertake every day, and to assess exactly what is needed. The garments must be versatile, provide warmth for those that work outside, yet not be too hot for inside. Make sure they are comfortable in what they are wearing, and also take into account care of the garments – can they be washed instead of dry cleaning? Perhaps get the team involved at the outset so they are involved in the design and selection process – this can help engender support in the process. Ultimately, the way we dress in the workplace continues to be an important matter. It’s therefore important to get it right at the outset and ensure that your first impressions speak volumes, but for the right reasons. Contact: stedmancc.co.uk

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FASHION

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House of Marley Billet watch, £139.99, WatchShop The House of Marley is built on the principles of superior quality, earth-friendliness and a commitment to global charitable causes. A percentage of proceeds from product sales support 1Love.org, which aims to make lives better around the world. Small leather doctor’s bag, £75, My Green Bag My Green Bag is a London-based ethical bag company and part of Accelerator, the specialist business incubator. Alpaca mix textured scarf, £25, Tradecraft Tradecraft is a UK-based company that offers a wide range of Fairtrade products. It sells everything from clothing to groceries. Arda Green Double Zip, £70, Wilby Wilby was founded in 2012. Its clutches are made with animal-free products that are certified for legitimacy, as well as being eco-sensitive and environmentally aware. It uses green materials where possible, such as organic cotton lining, recyclable cloth, and eco-friendly backing. Stockists: watchshop.com, mygreenbag.co.uk, tradecraftshop.co.uk, wilbyclutch.com

Look the business:

Eco-warrior wear Ladies and gentlemen, here’s our selection of green products that will look after the environment and keep you looking smart

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HOT HOt SPOTS spots

We feature the best locations in the UK for SMEs to meet clients, stay away on business and hold events, as well as hubs and offices to set up shop

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LOCATIONS

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Opposite: Central & Co. Clockwise: Barnsley Digital Media Centre, The Mermaid Conference and Events Centre, Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa

MEET AND EAT CENTRAL & CO Where? Marlborough Street, Soho. What? An all-day brasserie split| into a casual ground floor restaurant and a chic basement bar. The Britishinspired menu brings together comforting classics like fish and chips, and locally sourced modern plates. Why choose Central & Co? It’s in a fantastic West End location, perfect for London meetings. The great food, brass chandeliers salvaged from an art deco Czech hotel and Carrera marble tables make a stylish meeting place. Contact: centralandco.com AWAY ON BUSINESS ROOKERY HALL HOTEL & SPA Where? Nantwich, Cheshire. What? An award-winning country house hotel with 70 bedrooms, a 2AA

Rosette restaurant, swimming pool and fitness facilities. Why choose Rookery Hall? It is well located, being 15 minutes from the M6 and 45 minutes from Manchester, making it the best choice for conference venues in Cheshire. The hotel also has its own conference and event facilities. Contact: handpickedhotels.co.uk EVENTS AND GATHERINGS THE MERMAID CONFERENCE AND EVENTS CENTRE Where? Blackfriars, on the north bank of the Thames. What? Previously operating as a theatre, the venue has since become a popular choice for receptions, conferences, Christmas parties, AGMs and exhibitions. At the heart of the centre is the auditorium, with tiered seating for 600 delegates.

Why choose the Mermaid Centre? It offers full AV and catering services, an in-house technical team providing full scale lighting design and layout. Delegate rates start at £65 + VAT per person. Contact: the-mermaid.co.uk OFFICES AND HUBS BARNSLEY DIGITAL MEDIA CENTRE Where? Barnsley. What? A £10.5 million landmark building situated in the heart of Barnsley, offering a vibrant office and meeting space for businesses. Virtual office prices start from £60 a month. Why choose the DMC? Businesses based at the DMC, including the virtual office customers, benefit from affordable office space and a range of support services designed to help growing companies. Contact: barnsleydmc.co.uk

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D R A W TES A I E S C B U E D W O R Online Retail Awards G P N I E Winner 2013 N W IN W - eCommerce Development - Web Development & Design - Mobile & Responsive Development - System Integration - Application Development Quote Talk Business magazine and receive a free appraisal of your website www.dotninesolutions.com 0115 727 0670 enquiries@dotninesolutions.com

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tECHNOLOGY avid xpert, D e h c te t en are and Our resid incumbents bew s says shoulder Richards n eye over their a to keep

he world doesn’t sit still for long. Disruption is the norm and you are constantly thinking about how your firm can stay ahead of the changing trends. At the turn of the millennium it seemed unthinkable that the top tech firms – Yahoo, Nokia and Dell – could ever be knocked off their perch. Just 14 years later and it’s all change. When a truly disruptive idea or product hits the market, the competition is forced to play catch up. Think of how it must have felt to be Blackberry back in 2006, with Steve Jobs standing in front of you presenting the iPhone to the world for the first time. Blackberry had successfully introduced handsets that offered both high-speed internet and email capabilities, while Nokia had predicted the importance of mobile gaming for the sector with its Gameboy-comesmartphone device. But it was Apple’s iPhones that caught the imagination and combined all of these tricks in one neat little box. iTunes was instrumental in cementing Apple’s dominance, bundling its first foray into the phone

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Less than seven years after the iPhone’s launch, and the tech giant’s competitors have more than caught up

marketplace with a service that was already in wide use thanks to the iPod. Whisper it quietly: change is afoot. Less than seven years after the iPhone’s launch, and the tech giant’s competitors have more than caught up. Samsung sells more handsets than Apple, while recent figures show an increasing number of smartphones in Europe use the Windows operating system. Even iTunes is starting to look like having a shelf life – consumers are now just as likely to stream their music and films through Spotify or Netflix. Incumbents love being seen as disruptors, but the reality is they love the security provided by status quo even more. Take renewed customer appetite for cloud technology, which has led to an increasing number of firms investing in software that will allow them to meet that demand. And as the world switches on to the cloud, you can expect to see a whole wave of companies emerge that will make this transition easier – firms whose services we don’t appreciate today will become the next Twitters and Facebooks, major players who experience explosive

growth in short timespans. Trying to identify the next major disruptor is the talk of Silicon Valley and a favourite game to play at dinner parties in Palo Alto, San Ramon, and the rest.   All this is what makes working in the sector so exciting, and why it has such a pull for those willing to take a risk. Technology is the one industry in which game changers are created overnight and incumbents are the most vulnerable. For their sake I hope they’re looking over their shoulders’. Contact: wandisco.com

David is CEO and co-founder of WANdisco, a software company based in both Silicon Valley and Sheffield.

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HTMLBlueprint

Back in 2005, HTML Blueprint started on a small scale with freelance work for family and friends. In 2006 we secured our first major project and this one man operation quickly evolved into what it is today. HTML Blueprint officially launched in 2010 and has since become an established force at the forefront of web design, hosting and SEO services. In 2011 we became a limited company and due to our fantastic service and knowledge we have also been able to extend into the world of print and marketing to ensure all of our customers get the best, personal care they deserve.

Web Design For over eight years, HTML Blueprint has been setting new standards in web design. Each member of our team has a deep commitment and an unrivalled passion for web design and can create anything from a simple but elegant Portfolio website to showcase your work to fully functioning E-commerce website. We can also design and create your website so that it is mobile friendly and works across all web browsers and devices including tablets, iPads and mobile phones.

Meet the Team Our designers are responsible for creating all of the visual elements that you require; whether it is for a website or printed advertisement these guys are bang up-to-date with all the latest trends and design concepts that can help benefit you and maximise your business.

Our research team are experts in their field and play a vital role. Firstly, whether researching for your design or marketing, each proposal must be fit for purpose and it's down to these guys to make sure that what Search Engine Optimisation you want can be achieved. Secondly, they test the suitability of your Competition is everywhere. Millions of people use search engines product/service or design for the given target audience. Finally, and every day to find a whole host of different products and services so maybe most crucially, they analyse your competitors and adapt your how can you be sure you are getting the attention you deserve? marketing schemes to give you the edge. The truth is, you cannot, not by yourself anyway. But the team at HTML Blueprint can. They can take a series of Described as the architects of websites, our web developers are keywords relevant to your business and push you to the very top of all responsible for writing the code that lies behind every webpage. Using their extensive technical knowledge and creativity, they plan, major search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo! build and maintain the structure of a website. Social Networking Social media goes far beyond the personal uses of Facebook and Our content writers are responsible for all of the text that features Twitter. Having an online presence is a huge asset to any business on your website or advertisement. It is their job to complement those to firstly get noticed and most importantly interact with customers fantastic designs with specialized content; after all, the written text and clients. We can offer an extensive web presence that will cover is often the first point of contact between customer and business. all of your needs including (but not limited to): The creation and maintenance of all major Social Networking sites including Facebook, Marketing and branding is a key aspect when it comes to business. That's why our marketing and branding team can help you get the Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. recognition you deserve. Through planning, social media promotions, advertising and distribution of advertising materials, our team can help promote you and your service so it can achieve the very best.

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To find out more about our services and what we can offer you, visit our website or email us an enquiry.

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BRAND NEW

TALK TECHNOLOGY

Moto X: the review Our production assistant, Christian Muhika went along to the launch of the new Motorola Moto X smartphone, which goes on sale this month MOTOROLA MOTO X Price: £380 SIM-free, or from £25 a month on contract Features: 4.7” display, 2GB of RAM and a custom processor designed to contend with phones like the Galaxy S4 and HTC One but at a cheaper price, 10-megapixel camera, “touchless” Google Now integration, “twist your wrist” feature to launch camera, an extension for Google Chrome, which lets you see and respond to notifications and texts from your desktop computer or laptop, and 16GB or 32GB on-board storage. We say: Having been around for more than 30 years, Motorola has somewhat fallen behind in the mobile phone market. A lot was expected following Google’s acquisition of Motorola two years ago. On a superficial level, the phone didn’t disappoint. It looked sleek, stylish and had the feel of the popular sought-after iPhone 4. It is small, stylish and easy to operate in one hand. There is also no microSD card slot, because Google is keen to steer users to the cloud. The phone has a futuristic air – no more extendable aerials that’s for sure. It has two great techy features. First, the “touchless” Google Now

integration - Motorola claims all you need to use the phone is your voice. To most it may just seem like another “Ciri”, but this feature does make the phone totally hands free. Without touching it at all, you can ask it about the weather, your calendar, send an email, and so on – you just say “Ok Google Now” to activate it and then state your command. The second is the “twist your wrist” feature to launch the camera. Once it’s loaded, you can touch anywhere on the screen to get the shot. Despite the innovative features, we doubt this will be enough to put Motorola back on the mobile map. The performance and display resolution of the phone does not compare to the Samsung S4 or HTC One. However, at a lower price than the top smartphones, this is a sound mid-range choice. Rating: 7/10 Moto X will be available in black from 1 February from Phones 4u, Carphone Warehouse, O2, Amazon and Techdata. Moto X will also be available in white exclusively to Phones 4u customers for the first three months. Prices vary but start from £25 per month on contract or £380 SIM-free.   Contact: motorola.co.uk

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31/01/2014 11:00


WEBSITES

Does your SME website look dodgy? Osca St Marthe, UK&I senior director for information security at McAfee, tells you how to avoid being mistaken for a scam his seems like a no-win situation. Cyber crime against small and medium enterprises is on the rise – yet even if your security holds up, potential customers are getting increasingly paranoid and starting to boycott all but the most secure-looking sites. It’s no wonder that customers are wary about who they do business with online. According to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, it is estimated that nearly half of the people in the UK have been targeted by a criminal scam of some sort. At the same time, recent research has shown that in the past year, 87% of small businesses had a security breach. If your site doesn’t look 100% safe, the chances are that potential customers will surf elsewhere – and take their custom with them. To follow are four aspects that signal your website looks dodgy – and how to fix it.

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BAD PUBLICITY Potential customers are increasingly likely to do their research before purchasing from an unknown brand, and negative reviews or ratings can throw a spanner in the works. FIX Key to avoiding this is a quick and responsive online presence, happy to deal with customer queries.

87% of small businesses had a security breach

BAD WEBSITE APPEARANCE If a website is poorly designed, overly busy, pixelated or has grammar and spelling mistakes, customers are unlikely to be convinced of its legitimacy. FIX The web is a unique opportunity for SMEs to play in the same arena as the leading giants – but only if the look and feel can compete. SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE It is only fair to want to showcase your fantastic products or services on your website, but beware of pushing too hard. Great deals often come with great risks, as cyber criminals will advertise “deals” as a means

TALK TECHNOLOGY

to lure customers into giving account and payment details or personal information. FIX Be factual, and avoid words like “genuine” or overly flashy offers, as often this will make customers suspicious. NO SECURE METHOD OF PAYMENT OR VISIBLE SECURITY Trust is everything. Before entering into a sale online, customers need to be confident of a retailer’s security and privacy status, and have visibility into how the merchant protects customer information. FIX Gaining customer confidence from the moment they arrive on your site is key. For example, an independently qualified secure logo positioned on your homepage will mark your business as a safe place to shop. Make sure the URL starts with https:// not http:// – this will show customers that it is a secure site, and therefore trustworthy. Once you have earned a potential customer’s trust, you will need to back it up with a sound security strategy. Simply using nti-virus software and a firewall is not a suitable solution for a growing business handling customer data on a daily basis. Incorporating cloud-based solutions that are installed on site can help eliminate unwanted or dangerous content before it reaches your network – leaving you and your customers safe in the knowledge that your business, and its data are well protected. Contact: mcafee.com

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Playing the cloud computing game

Rob Law, founder of Trunki, discusses how any entrepreneur can make the most of technology without being a techie

ike many entrepreneurs, my passion is creating new and exciting ideas. So much so, I did a degree in product design at Northumbria University, which is where I came up with my concept for a ride-on suitcase for children in 1997. I saw a gap in the market for something, which suited both a parent’s need for function and children’s need for fun – lo and behold, Trunki was born. Clearly, it takes more than just a good idea to build a business. At Trunki this is something we understand better than anyone – we faced up to it very early on, being famously rejected by the BBC’s Dragon Den panel. To turn Trunki into a success story, we had to move out of our comfort zones and up-skill ourselves.  The best example of this is our move into the cloud, a term that I’m sure most SME business owners have heard but may still be unsure of; both in terms of what it is, and how to make it work for them.  We realised we needed to grasp it with both hands when it became apparent our on-premise

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Sage software, as well as the Excel spread sheets that we were using, were unable to support our international ambitions; they simply couldn’t keep pace with the scale, complexity and speed of our growth. After researching our options, we realised that if we wanted our systems to grow in step with the business, we had to move to the cloud. We decided to implement NetSuite and now have a single system. This underpins all our day-today activities, including CRM, inventory management and order management, business data and e-commerce, in multiple languages. Hosting all these systems in the cloud means that we don’t have to take responsibility for any servers in the office, can easily add new functions, access information from any mobile device and scale the system up as we go, without the hassle of IT to maintain in different offices around the world. As I’m sure you can imagine, this makes day-to-day working life a lot easier for me and my non-technical team.

A lot has changed since then. We’ve sold over two million of our much loved ride-on suitcase across 97 countries worldwide, have developed a whole range of complementary products, and have partnerships with big retailers, including John Lewis, Amazon, Argos and Halfords. What was once an operation run by myself, has now grown into a fantastic team of 33 big kids. We learnt a number of lessons when moving to the cloud. Here are the four key points that other entrepreneurs should consider: DON’T BE SENTIMENTAL ABOUT YOUR OLD TECHNOLOGY It may have been there since your business began, but if your old system can’t match your new growth plans, then it simply has to go. Our old system was comfortable with our workforce but when it began to slow our expansion, we knew that it was time to move on. It’s also far easier to work from one allencompassing business system in the cloud than trying to tie all the loose ends together with a hairball of old on-premise systems. We used to waste a lot of valuable time compiling information from different sources. Now it happens automatically, giving us realtime visibility into financial and operational data, which we couldn’t get hold of with Sage.

We learnt a number of lessons when moving to the cloud

TAKE THE LEAP SOONER RATHER THAN LATER The challenges that your business is experiencing are identical to your industry rivals – and it’s likely that they too are looking to the cloud for a quick and easy way to expand their business, both in terms of scale and international reach. Failing to act means you are gifting your

30/01/2014 13:40


THE CLOUD

rivals a competitive edge. Too many businesses are willing to play the waiting game instead of taking the initiative themselves – after all, if you’re first to the market you can carve out a strong position and put your competitors on the back foot. It’s worth remembering that cloud computing has been around for nearly 15 years, and since 2011 has established itself as the dominant technology for SMEs and corporates. It’s hardly a plunge into unknown waters.

DO YOUR RESEARCH It’s important to know exactly what you’re buying. You can come unstuck both on the cloud label and in what the application actually does. Some suppliers are guilty of “cloud-washing” – hosting traditional applications on the internet and slapping a “cloud” label on them. These will not bring many of the benefits of true cloud applications, as they’ll face many of the same limitations as the original applications did, including fragmented systems, disparate reporting and higher management costs. The second potential problem is in the application itself. Even if it is a “true” cloud application, if it only supports one aspect of the business, you can end up trying to create links between several cloud apps

Cloud computing has been around for nearly 15 years

TALK TECHNOLOGY

(customer service, inventory management, customer support and management for example), or potentially (and even more complicated) between cloud apps and on-premise apps. This hairball of application links can be as time consuming and inefficient to run as an onpremise application. SQUEEZE EVERYTHING YOU CAN OUT OF THE CLOUD Remember, the cloud is famed for its flexibility. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, and working with your provider to customise the system to suit your business needs can have a big impact on your bottom line. But be warned – don’t simply migrate your old system into a cloud environment. Use this transition as a chance to re-evaluate the way your business operates. Ask yourself: are all my old processes really necessary? The move to the cloud can represent an opportunity for disruptive change that extends far beyond the confines of the application itself. Contact: trunki.com

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Sponsored Article

THE CLOUD; EVERY ENTREPRENEUR’S BEST FRIEND Many aspects of business are increasing happening in the cloud, thanks to its flexibility, scalability and costeffectiveness. Harness the power of collaboration and increase productivity. Save time and heartache when it comes to IT support and admin and grow your business quickly by utilising the power of faster connections and cloud computing. Here, Axel Nilsson of Fortnox Software gives a brief overview of the top five benefits that cloud technology can offer the entrepreneur and small business owner. Increase Security Most SMEs don’t have adequate security and backup procedures in place. Today’s reputable cloud services providers are secure; using the latest encryption and backup techniques to ensure your data is always protected. What’s more, data centres, where cloud servers are housed, are often secured physically 24/7 too. Save Time Cloud allows business owners the time to manage their company, without the worry of maintaining their own IT infrastructure. It allows applications or even the entire technological infrastructure to be hosted off the premises, creating a level playing field when it comes to IT. Cloud allows transactions to take place in real time, even away from the premises, and this makes for streamlined business processes, saving both time and money. Save Cash Entering the cloud means that you don’t spend out huge sums in capital expenditure and the only ongoing

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costs are subscription fees. Cloud can be used with legacy equipment as powerful machines are not necessary in most business scenarios (CAD aside). Software licensing is paid for monthly, so there’s no outrageously expensive outlay for the software products you love to use. Increase Productivity Tighter collaboration makes for a more productive and happier workforce; utilising cloud services enables you to work with colleagues in different locations or when on the move easily, as long as there’s an internet connection. Have an office in a different city but need to work on the same project? With cloud that’s not a problem, simply work in real time in a group workspace or allow field workers to connect via a mobile device to keep colleagues in the loop when it comes to sales and ideas. Simple and Scalable With a huge array of services, on offer you’ll be able to match cloud offerings to your exact needs and only pay for what you want when you want – and when you don’t need it – or need more – just alter your subscriptions. This

allows for a sense of financial stability as cloud has the flexibility to grow and shrink with your business, without any financial penalty. About Fortnox Fortnox provides small businesses with online software covering applications for accounting, invoicing, order management, time tracking, customer relations (CRM) and document management. Today, Fortnox is used by more than 60,000 businesses.

Contact: fortnox.co.uk

30/01/2014 16:04


VIDEO COLLABORATION

TALK TECHNOLOGY

Virtual meetings Tom Perry, marketing director of Connect Communications, a unified communications consultant, says new video technology is key for flexible working

oday, mobile technology means that your working environment can be almost anywhere you like. It is the laptop or mobile device and the network that dictates how you communicate and work. The location is becoming less relevant. It’s possible to work from home, on the move, in coffee shops or in any other kind of third party premises. It’s also normal to work out of the office except for meetings, but now the latest video collaboration technology adds powerful new dimensions for virtual meetings, which is making communication between geographically dispersed teams more effective than ever. The generation that uses Skype to call their kids will use something similar for work. A system where you just click to initiate a video call to colleagues or co-workers, with the added dimension of being able to share documents and diagrams or designs, and watch the reaction of the other parties. High definition video means you can see the other participants’ faces and gather their non-verbal reaction as well as their spoken feedback. The new conferencing and collaboration tools arriving could make “video calling” as ubiquitous as the voice phone call. There are conferencing software products on the market from vendors like Avaya, Apple and Microsoft that are designed for business use, and which can

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all be used on a corporate scale. Some of these offer enterprise grade security and management tools that businesses will be looking for before they commit to adopting video calling and conferencing on a wider scale. Video collaboration products take us one step further than a conference call. Adding the video element means you can share the desktop and see what’s being discussed – looking at pictures, graphics and diagrams with the other participants as well as hearing the conversation, and it is not difficult to use. Some casual, one-to-one calls can simply be initiated by clicking an icon on a screen, whilst bringing a larger team together will need just a little more consideration and scheduling. If we could use video to replace some of our faceto-face meetings, it would have a massive impact on our working routines. There are massive savings to be made in time, transport and travel, and accordingly huge benefits to the environment and carbon savings from travelling less. For people who have embraced social networking and virtual social relationships as an extension of their social lives, this could be a logical next step, and many will welcome the opportunity to work from home more; to work for employers further afield, and to cut travelling time and fuel costs. The next changes to our working environment look

likely to be dictated by the availability and speed of our networks. With fibre optics and fast 4G networks arriving, we will be able to choose where we work – which means video is set to be key.

Video collaboration products take us one step further than a conference call

Contact: connectcs.com

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30/01/2014 18:14


APPS

TALK TECHNOLOGY

I’ve got an app for that… This month our featured apps will help you build the ultimate to-do list, and analyse important business data

Remember the milk Price: FREE Compatible with: Anrdoid and iOS The gist: Remember the milk is another feature-rich to-do list to help you manage your time and tasks. It enables you to manage your tasks

from anywhere, on the go. You can set email, SMS or IM reminders, manage your tasks offline and synchronise it with your Google Calendar. And the best bit? It’s completely free. Downloadable from: rememberthemilk.com

Roambi Analytics Price: FREE Compatible with: iOS The gist: At the moment “big data” and “analytics” are big buzzwords. But as an SME on a budget, how do you start looking at this important information from your

website and other applications? Roambi is free and easy to use. It will turn hard-to-read data into charts or graphs, making that data more meaningful, all on your iPhone. A great introduction to data. Downloadable from: roambi.com/business

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TALK TECHNOLOGY GADGETS

Six energy-saving gadgets your business needs L How can technology help small businesses save energy rather than using more? We reveal these six gadgets to get you started

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ife is more convenient in the digital age, but tablets, smartphones and computers consume a lot of energy. Are you keeping tabs on your usage? If not, this can be bad news, both ecologically and economically. All business needs are different, but here are six bill-busting gadgets to get your energy saving started...

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GADGETS

TALK TECHNOLOGY

LIGHT SWITCH TIMER Timer switches are perfect for stairwells or other communal areas where a short burst of functional lighting is required. This one from lyco.co.uk is just £13.99, and you just replace your old switch with this one. Security lights have been around for a while. This model from Light Switch Timer, priced at £30.99, fits over the existing wall switch so there’s no need to re-wire anything. It’s designed to come on when it’s dark and switch off in the day. It will not only help with security, but will turn off the light if anyone forgets to. Available from: lightswitchtimer.co.uk

SMART METERS Lots of energy companies recommend using them, and it’s not just about electricity. Their prime aim is to reflect fair cost, but they could also potentially save a lot of electricity, gas, and ultimately money when you become aware of your usage patterns and work out what you can cut down.

ENERGY SAVING LIGHT BULBS Replacing just one traditional light bulb with an energy saving one can save you, on average £3 a year. By swapping all light bulbs, a typical household could save £55 a year – so imagine how much a commercial property could save. Bulbs are available from just £1 and last longer than filament bulbs too.

LAPTOP SAVER Keeping laptops plugged in constantly not only uses a lot of power, but it can also damage batteries. The Eliminata laptop saver from energyreducingproducts.com checks how much charge the laptop needs and only gives it that much. There’s no need to trickle charge when the device is at 100%, so no extra damage. You could expect to save £15 per year, per laptop.

RADIATOR BOOSTER Heating is an issue for everyone at this time of year. Most home workers and those in small offices will appreciate the Radiator Booster from tangogroup.net. It has a small fan to dissipate heat from the radiator around the room. Priced at £24.99 and costing just 30p a year to run, it should save energy and money.

ENERGY METERS Energy suppliers such as E.ON and British Gas also offer their customers an energy monitor, designed to help you see exactly where and when energy is being used and how much it is costing you. Customers can request the latest wireless electricity monitor, which displays how much energy different devices are using in a business, and allows them to measure energy use by cost, kilowatthours and even CO2 emissions.

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FROM Y–FRONTS TO YVES SAINT LAURENT – CUSTOMER SERVICE IN WAG LAND Richard McConnell, The ZipYard Altrincham

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he ZipYard offers a professional tailoring and alterations service in a clean, purpose build environment. Our award winning business is all about outstanding customer service. Whilst there’s no other specialist alterations and tailoring centre in the area there’s numerous businesses offering similar services and competition is great. As the top performing ZipYard and 2012 Franchisee of the Year we have raised a total of 22,500 invoices. Turnover in the first year was £174,500 from 9978 customers. In the 10 months to date of our second year we are at £238,000 from 12,675 customers and on track to hit our target of £274,000 by year end.

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EARLY DAYS As a former driving instructor I was used to dealing with members of the pubic and took pride in my level of service, so when I decided on a career change I already had a very strong customer service ethos. When we first opened it was easy to turn jobs round incredibly quickly. But as word got around and our customer numbers soared, ensuring that customers were happy 100% of the time became more difficult. We soon expanded our team of seamstresses from two to five and now employ eight full time. Working in Cheshire we are dealing with high end customers with high end expectations and it’s a great responsibility working on designer garments sometimes worth over £1,000. Famous footballers and TV celebrities

including Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor and presenter Gordon Burns bring their garments to us. Everton player Marouane Fellaini is one of our regulars. We once stayed open to fix a black tie for an awards ceremony that evening and he turned up later with chocolates for the girls to say thank you. ADDED VALUE We want our customers to believe that nothing is too much trouble. We don’t charge any extra for the express service and often carry out additional minor repairs for free. If one of the seamstresses notices a button needs replacing whilst they are turning up a hem it takes very little additional time to do the complementary work – and customers are always surprised and delighted.

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Frequently people come in off the street with a button that’s just come off – we’ll fix it there and then – again for no charge confident in the knowledge that he or she will regard us as a lifesaver and talk about The ZipYard to others. SYSTEMS The sophisticated till system included as part of the ZipYard package has a customer relationship management feature which tracks customers each time they come in and allows us to make notes. If a regular is getting ready to go on holiday I can input this into the system. Then I can wish them a happy holiday when they pick up the clothes and ask them about it the next time they’re in. Building relationships is paramount– and as a result the average repeat customer visits us about once a month. Some have used us over 200 times spending several thousand pounds. Outstanding customer service means that we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes. Last year a groom and his entire male entourage turned up the day before the wedding in a panic because they had only just discovered their suits were ill fitting. We stayed open through the night to finish the work and to get the party to the church on time and looking their best.

Another customer spent over £400 altering her wardrobe after a successful diet, and an elderly lady brought in all of her clothes to be taken in - all bundled into storage boxes and carried up the high street to us. Nowadays very few people have the time or skill to mend their own clothes –and a lot of our work involves repairs - but even I was surprised when one of our regular customers brought in a pair of her son’s Y fronts for us to fix a tear! For many of our customers we have become their ‘personal’ tailors. One wellheeled man left a message on our answering machine to say his wife was bringing in a ball gown the next day so ‘please leave space on your machine’ for her. They expect a very fast service and we rarely disappoint. A regular moved out of the area but saves up his repairs until he comes back to visit friends – travelling over 160 miles for our quality of service. Grateful customers send flowers, wedding cake, thank you notes and gifts.

THE FUTURE Managing customer expectations isn’t easy and it has been a big challenge for us to be able to turn round work quickly as the volume increases. Recently we dealt with 90 paying customers in one day which is ten an hour! We already open seven days a week and are looking to employ another seamstress to focus full time on express work and have installed a second till to cope with the queues that had begun to form outside the door in busy periods. We are looking ways to extend the range of services we offer including a paid for delivery and collection service which will appeal to our busier user clientele. At the moment I manage ZipYard with the help of one other but I will be recruiting additional customer facing staff to free me up to do more marketing and work on plans to open another ZipYard in the North West.

CUSTOMER STORIES

“To Danuska with eternal thanks. You u saved my day. It means so much more than words could ever say.” - Breeda (bride) We frequently see brides who have bought a dress form the internet. On one occasion a woman came in to the centre in tears with a dress that fitted terribly –by the time we had finished she was parading up and down with a big smile on her face.

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Contact: Janet Matthews T: 01530 513307 E: jmatthews@thezipyard.co.uk W: www.thezipyard.co.uk

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12/11/2013 16:59:27


fRANCHISE

fRANCHISE NEWS The Franchise Show opens its doors

Sector grows to record heights FRANCHISE BUSINESSES ACROSS the UK have reported record highs in turnover according to the 2013 NatWest British Franchise Association (bfa) survey. The research, which looked at the five years since the country entered recession in 2008, shows 20% growth compared to 2.5% contraction in the overall economy in the same period. The survey found that the sector contributed £13.7 billion, or just 1% less of UK GDP to the economy in the last 12 months. More than a quarter of a million full-time jobs were recorded for the first time in UK franchise history out of total employment in excess of 560,000, an increase of 20% during

the last five years. With around four out of five brands operating a franchise model in this country being UK-owned, domestic success is translating into export success with one in four expanding abroad. Franchisors expect their growth to continue through 2014. Brian Smart, director general of the bfa, commented: ‘UK franchising offers thousands of people each year the opportunity to take on their own sustainable business, in turn creating employment for many thousands more – a success that has continued through hard economic times while other parts of the economy have struggled.’

THE FRANCHISE SHOW, the UK’s largest free franchise exhibition, returns this month. The Franchise Show, taking place on the 14 & 15 February 2014 at the ExCel, London, will showcase over 100 of the world’s best franchise brands and host 60 free seminars and workshops to visitors from around the world. Expecting over 10,000 visitors, the two-day event, welcomes both those new and experienced to the franchise world. Visitors can explore the best UK franchises, and see the latest international franchise opportunities aspiring to enter the lucrative UK market. Franchises from all different industry sectors and for all different investment levels will be on show. There will be 60 free seminars and workshops available to all attendees, aimed at helping visitors understand the legal, financial, business and administrative support essential to succeed in franchising. For more information visit: thefranchiseshow.co.uk

Two new companions of bfa confirmed AT THE ANNUAL Chairman’s Charity Gala Dinner, outgoing bfa chairman, Michael Eyre announced two new Companions of the bfa. Derrick Simpson and Andrew Quail join the roll call of franchising’s finest. Both have had exceptional careers that have seen them add much to the UK franchise landscape. Companionship is reserved only for those who have made a significant

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contribution to the UK franchise industry, and are a rare accolade indeed; only 13 had previously been bestowed before the two lynchpins of UK franchising were surprised by Michael’s announcement on 12 December. Derrick and Andrew spent part of their careers together, as leaders of the Kall Kwik franchise management team for much of the 1990s.

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TALK FRANCHISE

Reaching agreement Nick Lockett, CEO of ADL Legal, discusses the importance of a sound franchise agreement

he United Kingdom remains one of the few remaining jurisdictions, which does not directly regulate the franchise industry. This creates a selfregulatory arena that makes the role of the franchise lawyer particularly important, and English Law and jurisdiction the natural choice for many European Franchise Agreements. A typical franchise agreement can run over 100 pages including annexes, and some franchise agreements use clever language to make harsh clauses seem innocent. The interpretation of some highly complex clauses can even challenge expert commercial lawyers. However it is the franchise solicitor who is to ensure from the franchisor’s point of view that the brand is fully protected, and from the franchisee’s point of view that they understand the obligations and restrictions imposed under the agreement. Franchise agreements transfer limited control of core knowhow and intellectual property from franchisor to franchisee as well as limiting post-termination use seeking to prevent creation of “copycat” businesses, but such controls are notoriously difficult to enforce.  While franchising allows easy territorial expansion without undue financial leverage for the franchisor, it can also provide a competitive edge, sometimes significant, for the franchisee, but only where the territory is properly defined and protected. It is essential within the agreement that issues of internet sales and passive sales outside the territory are properly addressed as well

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as the question of social media marketing, such as Twitter. Franchise parties also have to watch for direct and indirect competition law issues, such as setting minimum pricing. The lawyer’s role is to minimise litigation risk, jurisdiction challenges as well as dealing with claims for misrepresentation and breaches of franchise agreements. Rights of termination are also areas that need particular attention, and that often lead to litigation and injunctions. By ensuring that the franchise agreement is clear about these provisions and that they are fully understood, and negotiating appropriate remedial clauses, a good franchise solicitor can ensure that termination is a last option. Early advice on any potential breach of contract or misrepresentation and any remediation opportunities is essential to avoid expensive and complex claims for damages. With the rapid growth of franchising, a wide variety of franchising models are now adopted and the correct representation right from the outset ensures a harmonious and fully understood legal relationship to the benefit of both franchisor and franchisee. A good franchise solicitor can be invaluable in helping you negotiate a franchise contract that best suits your business goals and priorities. If all goes wrong and the franchise agreement does not perform as promised, or is operated unreasonably, that solicitor is also well positioned to help you find legal relief.

The correct representation right from the outset ensures a harmonious relationship

Contact: adllegal.com

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Ultimately, as a sales business, you are in control of your future and Bartercard becomes your product partner

Matt Harding, a current franchisee, started his career with Bartercard in 2000 as a regional sales franchisee. Matt has since invested in three different sales franchise areas, and now proudly owns the Bartercard Essex and Kent district franchises.

Matthew Harding Brokerage Director Bartercard Essex & Bartercard Kent

“The franchise framework is a good starting point and offers a good ongoing template and support to run with. I would say the best attribute of the Bartercard opportunity is the product, which can suit any business. In addition the competition is non existent, therefore we are not under pricing pressures that other businessess suffer from� Matt explains. If you are a highly driven, sales focused individual with a modest amount to invest, the potential returns are enormous! Contact Brian Whitford today for a discussion, via Brian.Whitford@uk.bartercard.com.

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SPOTLIGHT

WHY DID YOU PICK THE FRANCHISING BUSINESS MODEL? The franchise model evolved from a licensing model that we had already from the early 1980s. The franchise model added more brand control for the franchisees and us, so that standards were monitored more closely. We also found that franchising became a way to enter into new and exciting markets more easily, using local partners with knowledge and understanding of cultural needs and tastes. Franchising allows us to concentrate on refining systems, find the best possible prices for almost everything and then pass on the benefits to our global network. In return, our franchisees can concentrate on their business development in the safe knowledge that we are looking after many of the daily tasks. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES OF FRANCHISING A BUSINESS? Maintaining the brand identity. We have to protect the impression and experience that customers have - and get - when they enter any one of our restaurants. We also have to continue to monitor the market, and communicate the required changes to the network; sometimes this means a fundamental change for the benefit of everyone, but not everyone likes change. DO YOU OFFER TRAINING AND SUPPORT? We offer comprehensive training so that our franchisees know how to deliver that liplicking flavour all day, every day. We also train them on the administration of a restaurant and how to maintain the facility. Support is crucial to our business, and we provide

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TALK FRANCHISE

Under the spotlight

Andrew Withers, Southern Fried Chicken Andrew Withers, managing director of Southern Fried Chicken discusses the success and future of the fast food restaurant franchise the Middle East. This, with the huge success we have in Russia and the old Eastern bloc is where we see our short-term success. We expect a further 400 stores internationally within the next five years.

regular visits to ensure that our franchisees have face-to-face help as well as the support team at head office that assist with procurement, marketing design and executive advice. HOW MUCH WILL A FRANCHISE SET ME BACK? It is always difficult to define the entry cost, but we believe that a standard location will require between £120,000 and £130,000 to equip and convert into a great looking SFC outlet. This includes the training, start-up supplies, wall design and signage. On top of that, any business will need working capital as they grow and cover daily expenses and we suggest £20,000 minimum is put aside to take the pressure off the first few months. WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE? While the UK will develop over the next decade, we are expecting dramatic growth in our international presence and already have key operators identified in North Africa and

We offer comprehensive training so that our franchisees know how to deliver that lip-licking flavour

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT IN BUSINESS? Any one of hundreds of moments could be called our proudest moment. It could be the opening of the first rebranded store, the opening of one of our franchisee’s 30th store in Russia, or the first international store all those years ago. This is an ongoing journey for the SFC steamboat, and at every port or call there is the potential for a proud moment as we navigate the choppy waters that businesses face. Contact: southernfriedchicken.com

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Looking for a new challenge with the safety net of a proven business model? You could set up your own business, with the full support of a collaborative network guiding you every step of the way. Due to a bucket-load of government funding available this year to support what we do, many businesses are planning to grow and will be needing the services of a Business Doctor. As a direct result of increased demand for our services, we are actively seeking new franchisees to join our network. If you think you could enjoy sharing your professional experience with others and you would like to be a part of our growing network, we would love to hear from you.

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30/01/2014 18:26


THE FRAN MAN

TALK FRANCHISE

Can franchising be good for the planet? n issue that’s being raised more frequently by potential franchisees is that they want to have a business that, as well as providing a good return and a rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle, is also ecologically sound and sustainable. In addition, more and more companies that may be customers of the franchisee are seeking suppliers who can demonstrate their green credentials. A franchise owner who can demonstrate this may well have an advantage in the marketplace. When choosing a franchise, it is important to look at the environmental policy of the franchisor. There are some who market their offering with this in mind, for example a children’s yogabased franchise that sources ethically sound, fair trade products, or a car paintwork repairer that uses soluble, water-based paints. Even if the actual business sector is not directly providing a green product or service, the franchisor should have an environmental policy that the franchisee can use when marketing locally.

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Tony Mundella, founder of Franchise Management, a business development consultancy, talks about how green a franchise can be

It is important to look at the environmental policy

In addition, there is a strong argument that franchising can be naturally ecologically sound. Firstly, one of the keys of most franchise systems is to provide a very local service. This means that the franchisee will be operating within a specific geographic area and therefore minimising the carbon footprint through less travel, whether carried out by the franchisee to visit customers to deliver the service or by customers visiting the outlet. Secondly, many franchised outlets employ staff from a local area who may travel to and from their place of work by public transport. The franchisee themself, will also be able to have a significant impact on the environment. In most cases they will be responsible for many of the aspects of the business that can affect this. These may include; the type of vehicles used – in an urban

environment, low emission or even electric vehicles may be an option. The choice of premises – well insulated, low power consumption units will be preferable (as well as more economical to run). Also the use of recycled paper products, as well as having an office policy of recycling consumables where possible. All these things can be under the control of the franchisee, rather than the franchisor. When looking to invest in a franchise, it is therefore important to ascertain the environmental credentials of the franchisor as well as the ecological “greenness” of the product or service that you will be offering. Contact: franman.co.uk This is the sixth instalment in a series of articles written by Tony Mundella, who has 25 years’ experience in the world of franchising. Next month Tony will give advice on investing in a franchise.

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T1F

TALK FRANCHISE

Take one franchisee

Jackie Farrow, The Creation Station

Talk Business speaks to Jackie Farrow, franchisee of The Creation Station, which runs arts and crafts classes for children WHY DID YOU BECOME A FRANCHISEE? Previously I worked for The Guardian newspaper as a researcher. After, I moved to WWF, the environmental charity as the information manager there. My previous roles were public facing. I was working with people all the time, which is another important part of what I do now. I wondered whether I should be looking at a franchise or going back to my old job. My children were very small at the time – only three and one – and I was wondering whether I could realistically devote time and energy to my old job. The nice thing about running the franchise is that when the kids are home for school on holidays they can come with me to work, and I don’t have to put them into childcare. DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY… I run two classes a week on Tuesdays, so on Monday nights I will be preparing. Tuesday

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morning I go and set up the hall. I have a few helpers that I can call on to come and help me – they are local mums who are CRBchecked and know the ropes. As the children start to arrive, I take over the entertainment. For a Creation Station party, they start off by decorating a bag, then I gather them around me to look in the “magic ideas box” and we find arty activities to do. For the first hour of the party, I keep them engaged in an arty activity and parents can relax, help the children, or just talk to their friends. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORK/LIFE BALANCE? It is very time consuming, maybe more so than I had anticipated. But the flexibility is brilliant, which is one of the reasons I chose this because I can set my working hours. HOW DO YOU MARKET YOUR BUSINESS? Now that I’ve been going for a few years, most of my marketing is done informally, through word of mouth. People

You have to really enjoy it, because it is hard work

come, and then they tell their friends and family. I also use social media. I do pay for one advert in the local families magazine, which I know brings people in for the classes – so that is worth the investment. When I first started, I paid for quite a lot more advertising to get the ball rolling but I’ve cut back on it now. WHAT ARE YOUR OUTGOINGS? My outgoings are the hall hire, the annual insurance, plus all the materials and equipment. There is also a monthly management fee – for that you get on-going support, a presence on the website, any national marketing and an annual conference. WHAT MAKES AN IDEAL FRANCHISEE? You have to really enjoy it, because it is hard work and the more you put into it, the more the children respond to it. Contact: thecreationstation.co.uk

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ONLINERETAILCONFERENCES On February 10, 2014, the Royal Garden Hotel in London is home to the first ever Online Retail Conference. Entitled ‘Case Futures’ a roster of expert speakers will deliver an absorbing and informative day of content, allowing delegates to take a peek over the near horizon for online retailing. A second conference will take place in London on September 16, 2014. For full information or to book online visit: www.orevents.com/orc-casefutures

ONLINERETAILAWARDS On September 16, 2014, the Royal Garden Hotel is also home to the Online Retail Awards dinner and ceremony. Following the success of the 2013 event, the 2014 Awards will be a hot ticket for online retailers who make the shortlist. Entries open on January 1 and the deadline for entries is March 31. Categories have been fully refreshed for 2014, and you can preview them, or find all the information you need to start preparing your submissions, online at: www.onlineretailawards.com

ONLINERETAILNEWS New on the online retail scene is the Online Retail Newsletter, known colloquially as ORNews. The newsletter aims to keep everyone interested in the Online Retail Awards and Conferences fully informed on the events and their content. Published every fortnight, ORNews will also report on the success of Awards finalists, or announce news from supporting companies and media partners. You will automatically receive your personal copy of ORNews by registering online at: www.orevents.com I www.onlineretailawards.com

Online Retail Events is indebted to the supporting partners and media partners:

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ULTIMATE FINANCE

TALK ADVICE

Grow with invoice finance

Jeremy Coombes, CEO of Ultimate Finance, a leading independent provider of cashflow solutions, shares ideas to rethink cashflow and get your business growing

ou started the New Year full of fresh ideas, eager optimism and recharged batteries. And January’s issue of Talk Business gave you added impetus with uplifting stories and inspirational ideas to help you on the road to success. But the truth is that business success never gets any easier, and the chances are, coming into February, your energy is already starting to flag. So we’d like to share an idea – one that is sure to put the spring back in your step. We’re not talking about a miracle detox to boost your metabolism, or a new mindset to reboot your entrepreneurial spirit. It’s something rather less glamorous – but almost certainly more powerful.

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You have to wait so long to get paid after supplying your goods or services

GOING SLOW What’s one of the most dispiriting situations you can encounter in business? The fact that you have to wait so long to get paid after supplying your goods or services. Another is being presented with a great opportunity to grow your business, but having to let it go simply because you didn’t have sufficient working capital to grab it with both hands. Both are caused by the same thing – sluggish cashflow, and the solutions are often unpalatable. You can spend more of your valuable money chasing debtors, but that takes you away from the things you are good at, which generate revenue and which build your business. Another traditional route is to go to the bank for a loan or overdraft, the trouble here is it again takes

a huge amount of time. At the end of all those meetings you may still get a “no”, or terms so unattractive that you decide to leave it well alone.

FAST FORWARD A lot of SMEs are now waking up to the fact that there’s a better way - invoice finance. Actually, it’s not one way, but many – there are many different variations to suit different types of businesses and industries. However, they all share one very attractive feature, invoice finance is a relatively simple way to release the money tied up in your unpaid invoices. Instead of waiting weeks or months for payment, and coping with all the frustrations this means, as much as 90% of the invoice value can be

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in your bank account within hours of you issuing the invoice. What’s more, you receive the balance (minus a pre-arranged fee) once the invoice is eventually paid. TAKE YOUR PICK The two main types of invoice finance are discounting and factoring. With invoice discounting, every time you invoice your client you send a copy to the finance provider and they pay the pre-arranged advance into your account. It is then your job to manage your sales ledger and get your client to pay. With factoring, the process is exactly the same, except that with this facility the finance company manages your sales ledger and deals with your client. This type of arrangement is becoming increasingly popular with a wide range of SMEs – once seen as a slightly alternative form of finance, it is now being widely accepted as perfectly normal and entirely sensible. What’s more, specialist lenders in this field are becoming far more sophisticated and flexible, with a huge number of very successful SMEs not just viewing invoice finance as a quick cashflow fix, but as very much part of their long term business model. GET LEAN The attraction for many SMEs is not just that they speed up their cashflow, but that it enables them to outsource part of their accounts function, instead of having to employ their own accounts staff, with all the attendant costs and hassles this involves, they can keep the business nice and lean by getting specialists to do it on their behalf. What’s more, in certain industries the nature of the work means that the accounts function

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is especially complex and problematic – and outsourcing it is a huge advantage.

Invoice finance is a relatively simple way to release the money tied up in your unpaid invoices

NICHE PROVIDERS Take the building trade. Subcontractors often work on projects that extend for many months, and getting interim payments is very difficult. The work has to be certified by a quantity surveyor employed by the debtor, so there are long delays. Very few specialist building finance providers solve this problem. One way would be by advancing funds against uncertified applications for payment, which would cut out those long waiting periods. In the recruitment industry, where an agency supplies temporary staff or contractors, completing the time sheets and then issuing the invoices is hugely time consuming if done manually. Automated systems are available but the best ones prove too expensive for smaller agencies (of which there are huge numbers). By outsourcing everything to a recruitment finance specialist with best of breed software, the agency saves itself huge

amounts of time, money and grief. This frees it up to concentrate on the fee-paying work of placing candidates. SHOW ME THE MONEY If you want to give your business a boost, then check out invoice finance and explore the different possibilities. If things have been a little tight after Christmas, or you really want to pick up the pace of your business growth as the spring approaches, then there’s nothing like an injection of cash, drawn from your own unpaid invoices, to make a positive impact. Contact: ultimatefinance.co.uk

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FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR

BY THE ENTREPRENEUR

October 2013 £4.50

Football’s first lady Karren Brady on West Ham, The Apprentice and what holds women back in business

15% of SMEs are female-led

Does the UK lack entrepreneurial women?

£70 billion unclaimed We reveal the ultimate tax rebate

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Talk Business talks to John Talbot, non-executive director of accounting software company, Accountz about the company’s growth and the internet

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e live in an age where everybody is connected. Over 2.2 billion individuals have access to the internet, allowing around a third of the people on the planet to reach out to the furthest corners of the earth. Information, which otherwise would have been lost or forgotten, is at the fingertips’ of any person with a smartphone.

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For instance, even in Antarctica, with only 1,000 research staff at any one time, people still have the ability to communicate their experiences and photographs with not only loved ones, but the entire world, from one of the most desolate and unliveable continents on the planet. When Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, it

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was based on a system, which had previously been used by the US, for the Department of Defence to share information. By making this system commercial, he connected the entire planet. This has had roll on effects for business. The World Bank has estimated that a 10% increase in broadband penetration would increase the GDP of any low- or middleincome countries by 1.38%. Plus in October 2013, 10% of all retail sales were made online. So if it has had such a large impact, how has the internet affected how businesses behave? We pose the question to John Talbot, FCA. He is well known as an expert in turning round and restructuring companies, most recently as executive chairman of Johnson Service Group plc. He now utilises his experience in finance as a non-executive director of the international accountancy software company, Accountz, which started in 1999. HOW HAS THE RISE OF THE INTERNET AFFECTED THE WAY IN WHICH ACCOUNTZ IS RUN? As it has been with most software companies, there has been a change in the way we sell our product. We are moving away from boxed copies of the software, which were cumbersome and reduced flexibility in bringing the ongoing development of our product straight to our customer. We now focus on downloads, allowing our customers the freedom to purchase whenever it suits them. This also has the benefit of reducing our costs, which we can pass on to our customers. DOES THIS MEAN MOVING TOWARDS MORE OF AN INTERNET-BASED SYSTEM? In some ways yes, but we never want to take control and

responsibility for holding the data away from the customer. This differentiates us; we use the cloud but our customers access so data is not compromised. If there is failure in net connection, their data is always available. We feel there will always be security issues if you are solely reliant on an internetbased system. When it comes to protecting an individual or company’s financial information, we feel there is no better place to keep data than on your computer - but with good back up.

We host our own forum so we can advise all our users for free

WILL COMPETING WITH ONLINE PACKAGES NOT BECOME MORE DIFFICULT? For those who wish, we do offer a cloud system to maintain a copy of the data. This enables customers on the move to access their data and to give their accountant or bookkeeper easy access if appropriate. Our business model allows us to provide our software to either users who wish for flexibility, or those who wish for complete security. THE INTERNET HAS ALLOWED BUSINESSES TO EASILY CONNECT WITH CUSTOMERS. IS THIS THE CASE WITHIN ACCOUNTZ? Definitely, not only through aiding our ability to provide an outstanding product to users anywhere in the world, but by

TALK ADVICE

allowing us to keep in contact with our user base. We regularly use this to send out surveys to our users, allowing us to tweak the software to their needs. It also helps in keeping customers informed of any services or features we provide, for instance our new subscription service or business blog. HOW ELSE DO YOU KEEP IN CONTACT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS? Through several mediums, and most use the internet in some form. We host our own forum so we can advise all our users for free, as well as take suggestions for future upgrades and features. We offer free help and support over e-mail, utilising screenshots. We also use a system called Teamviewer to guide customers through the features of the software while they are on the phone. Upon request, our bookkeepers even make sure a user’s books are correct before they submit them to HMRC, which is a very popular service. AS YOUR COMPANY HAS BEEN ACTIVE SINCE 1999, YOU WOULD HAVE EXPERIENCED THE BOOM IN GLOBALISATION. DID ACCOUNTZ BENEFIT? Of course it did. We went from a company, which predominantly sold boxed software through UK retail outlets, to one that serves users in 88 different countries. The logistics of shipping the software to some of our more distant users would have been difficult for the small company we were back then. Now, by utilising our web space, we can provide our software at the click of a button, and we can support the customers too. Contact: accountz.com

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Is your business ready for new domain names? Matt Mansell, group managing director at 123-reg, a domain name registration and hosting company, talks about the new domain names coming into play he start of a new business year is one of the most exciting times for an owner, as plans and strategies are put in place for the year ahead. The start of the year is also a great time to look at what is going to change in the market, and 2014 is set to be a landmark year for online businesses because of the imminent launch of 1,400 new generic Top Level Domain Names (gTLD’s). So what are new gTLD’s? Simply put, these are suffixes on URL’s that appear to the right of the final dot in an address. For nearly a decade, the not-forprofit group, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been lobbying to expand the internet. 2014 marks the first major expansion of the internet since the approvals of .mobi and .tel in 2002. The new gTLD applications include industry terms such as .cloud, .software as well as geographical terms, such a .london and .nyc. These new and groundbreaking changes will see the largest expansion of the internet in recent memory. Currently, there are a vast amount of domains to

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choose from with the most well known and widely used being .com, .org, .net - and for the United Kingdom, .co.uk. There is certainly no need to panic if you own one of these domains – they are not going anywhere. But if you look at it another way, if your business sells a particular product or service, wouldn’t it be great if your name on the internet was related specifically to that? Well, over the next couple

2014 marks the first major expansion of the internet since 2002

of years that is exactly what is going to happen. These changes will allow website owners to purchase a domain name that is individual to what they do. For example, location-specific domains like .london and .berlin will become available. Industry specific domains like .cafe and .insure will launch and hobby-specific domains like .golf will become available over the coming years. These changes are important for any business owner online, because they will allow business to be identified within their specific industry immediately. A large part of this will see business owners gain greater flexibility over their own online image as well as their individual online naming strategies. Whilst it is fair to point out that many will be happy with their existing domain names, business should look to purchase a more specific domain name to supplement their online presence, and use this to reach a more targeted audience. The new gTLD’s will change the way individuals and businesses both present and promote themselves online. Now is definitely the time for businesses to begin thinking about their own strategies. Some domains, including .bike, .clothing, and .singles

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are now in their sunrise phase; whereby trademark holders can register the domain names first. These domains will enter their general availability phase at the start of February 2014, which will see the great internet shakeup really take shape. As such, it is important that business owners understand that it will take time for every single domain name to launch. Despite this, business owners should scope out what domains they would want and pre-register with a reputable provider who is not looking to take money from you up front, and will inform you when the preferred domain names become available. Remember, the vast majority of these domains are not yet available – so do not hand over any money just yet. Competition on the internet has increased massively during the past ten years, and grabbing a new gTLD may be the perfect partner to help businesses enhance their online brands. There is certainly no need to purchase every new domain name. Rather, individuals and business owners should look at what domain names are specific to their industry and pick which suits best. Remember that the .com and .co.uk domains are not going away and businesses should always look to buy these, but also keep a budget available to purchase domains that will enhance both brand and message. The internet is changing and so is your address. Do’nt get left behind.

TALK TADVICE

Remember that the .com and .co.uk domains are not going away

Contact: 123-reg.co.uk

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THE PROPERTY MARKET: A LOOK AT THE YEAR AHEAD Rob Clifford, chief executive at CENTURY 21 UK, an estate and letting agency franchise, looks at the year ahead in the property market ll the signs from the UK economy are that we appear to have finally turned a corner. 2014 could be the year when the initial green shoots of recovery we saw last year will really start to bloom into something more substantial. Certainly a large number of economic indicators, such as falling unemployment, increased business confidence, and the credit markets opening up all point to a period where we will be able to say we are some way from the global recession. With many sectors likely to experience positive growth this year, it’s now possible to drill down into specific areas that present on-going and significant opportunities for business people and entrepreneurs.

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The renaissance in the property market is a relatively recent phenomenon

One of those areas has to be the property market, which, after a number of years in the doldrums post-credit crunch, now appears to have bumped itself off the bottom and is looking to deliver strong growth in the months ahead. The renaissance in the property market is a relatively recent phenomenon – indeed if you were to go back to the start of 2013 you would get few commentators espousing the view that the UK property sector was picking up pace. However, due to a number of factors, not least the continued focus and support given to the market by the Coalition Government, we can see that properties are being bought, demand is growing, there is

greater access to finance and we are moving back towards a fully functioning sector. Of course, the beauty of working in the estate and lettings sector is that there is money to be made whether people can afford to buy or not. It’s true to say that the number of potential home-owners who can get on to the housing ladder through purchasing is growing. However we also have many individuals who either cannot or do not wish to purchase, and therefore the private rental sector continues to play an increasingly important part in the life of the UK property market.

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CENTURY 21

To many people, whether it is an investment or a place to live, property – bricks and mortar – represents the best place to put their money. And it is estate and lettings agencies that are facilitating the whole process, with business opportunities available across a variety of different areas. The stimulation and progress of the UK property market reached such a point during the tail end of 2013 that some were suggesting we are on our way to another house price boom (and subsequent crash). There are ongoing fears that initiatives like the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme – which is designed to let those borrowers with small deposits secure mortgages – will inflate prices, keeping them out of the reach of other potential first timers and making home ownership even harder for many. There are a number of points to be made here. Firstly, we

believe a house price bubble is not likely and indeed, in many parts of the country, prices have only recovered slightly since their fall a few years ago. London and South East prices have grown significantly in the last year but, taking aside the fact that London is a unique property market, there is no reason to suggest that a crash is imminent. A number of house price indices have recently suggested that UK average house prices are likely to increase by between 6-10% in 2014, and this still puts prices some way short of the peak of the market in 2007. The Government has certainly done all it can to stimulate the property market, and is such an important contributor to UK plc. The fact that this stimulation is starting to work is good news and it will be positive to see an increased number of purchase transactions, greater house building and an

We have been busy throughout 2013 opening franchised offices from London to Scotland

TALK ADVICE

increase in mortgage lending throughout 2014. These positive factors all contribute to considerable business opportunities within the property market right across the country, which makes starting your own estate and lettings business more attractive than ever. Here at CENTURY 21 UK, we have been busy throughout 2013 opening franchised offices from London to Scotland. Our franchisees recognise the fluidity and positive nature of their local markets, and want to help a range of purchase and rental clients to secure the properties and homes they want to live in. All in all, 2014 looks set to be a strong year for property professionals; we urge any individual who is looking to enter the market, and seeking strong support and resource to do so, to contact us now to see how we can make this a reality.

Meet CENTURY 21 UK The National Franchise Exhibition, Stand E140, 14 & 15 February Birmingham NEC Contact: century21uk.com/business-opportunity

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DIRECTORY FEBRUARY 2014

Your HR Partner is a unique HR Consultancy which works together with your business to address HR issues. Whether you need help in drawing up HR Policies or Contracts of Employment; dealing with poor performance; or making redundancies we will work together with you, understanding your business issues and finding solutions. T: 020 8346 8686 E: info@yourhrpartner.co.uk W: www.skhr.co.uk

We offer friendly IT Support. We have options to suit all, from fully managed to P.A.Y.G. Other services include Google Apps and Hosted Exchange, VoIP, Mobile Comms, Data Comms and Backup Service. Clients range from single user offices to multi national corporations. T: 0330 999 1337 E: help@totallytecy.com W: www.totallytechy.com

From a single desk for one day to a whole building for 25 years Bruntwood provide office space, serviced and virtual offices, meeting rooms and retail premises throughout Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Cheshire and Birmingham. T: 0800 731 0300 E: info@bruntwood.co.uk W: www.bruntwood.co.uk

• Hosted and Fully Managed Service • Our Certified engineers provide complete management and administration service for all of your: - Hosted Servers - Hosted Applications - Hosted Database Systems • Or if you prefer - self-managed T: 01223 832227 E: sales@focusonhosting.co.uk W: www.focusonhosting.co.uk

As the UK’s longest running organisation for professional leaders, we are dedicated to supporting our members, encouraging entrepreneurial activity and promoting the highest levels of professional business conduct. T: 020 7766 8888 E: membership@iod.com W: www.iod.com

INDEZ specialises in producing high-growth, high conversion e-commerce businesses, capable of dominating niche areas and selling profitably into global markets. We offer e-commerce consultancy, e-commerce design and build and e-commerce marketing. T: 0141 204 5297 W: www.indez.com E: info@indez.com

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Bespoke HR for your business. Professional, honest and easy to understand HR consultant support and advice that suits you. Regular and ad-hoc advice to HR audit Carruthers HR can help. T: 07930153940 E: sarah@carruthershr.co.uk W: www.carruthershr.co.uk

We craft compelling websites and persuasive media strategies. Through an in-depth and collaborative process, we will discover what is unique about you, then shout it from the virtual rooftops. T: +44 20 8399 4948 E: hello@joyandrevolution.co.uk W: www.joyandrevolution.co.uk

FEBRUARY 2014

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DIRECTORY

Affordable HR Solutions Stellarise help ambitious smaller companies become leaders in their field through the innovative use of IT. We are a leading provider of affordable IT support, effective project delivery and strategic advice. . T: 020 3137 3550 W: www.stellarise.com

Affordable HR Solutions can take care of your ad hoc people issues enabling you to focus on your core business. Visit our website to see our range of services. T: 01304 366340 W: www.affordable-hrsolutions.co.uk E: Info@affordable-hrsolutions.co.uk

Hampden provide a complete client focused IT solution tailored to your business. We provide a complete service that combines technical expertise with experience and knowledge for cost effective IT solutions. T: 01865 233000 W: www.hampdensolutions.co.uk E: sales@hsluk.com

Turner Business Consultants Ltd services are always flexible tailored to your specific needs. • Health and Safety Management • Fire Risk Assessment • CDM Coordination • Asbestos Management • Quality Management • Environmental Management • Information Technology Security • Business Continuity Plans • Business Strategy Development • Civil Engineering Consultancy services T: 01268 649006 E: info@turnerbusinessconsultants.co.uk W: www.turnerbusinessconsultants.co.uk

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KashFlow Software Limited is a privately owned company based in London, England. We provide online accounting software for small businesses owners — ­ the emphasis always being on ease of use, automation and integration. We’re widely regarded as a pioneer of the SaaS business model and as the leader in web-based accounting. T: 0800 848 8301 W: www.kashflow.com E: sales@kashflow.com

We create effective and meaningful Web, Design and Print for small to medium sized businesses creating big results. We enhance customer experiences and help businesses grow through effectively designed communications. Based in the South East, we work for clients both local and across the UK. T: 01438 369882 W: www.gtm-uk.co.uk E: sales@gtm-uk.co.uk

Complete Office Search is committed to providing clients a complete office space search solution from our first contact to occupation of your office. Unlike other office finder companies we do not refer you or your details to every single business centre and landlord under the sun. T: (0)208 868 1959. W: www.completeofficesearch.com E: info@completeofficesearch.com

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Our business is focused on providing exceptional design, web, hosting and print • Online Marketing • Website Updating • Content Management • PPC • Ecommerce • Email • Business Cards • Flyers • Stationery • Leaflets • Promotional Items • Posters • Banners T: 01865 600 366 W: www.nervenet.co.uk E: info@nervenet.co.uk

We are passionate about making our customers’ working life easier, therefore we act as the platform through which they can access a full array of virtual services, such as: • Virtual PA and Admin Services • Graphic Design • Web Solutions • IT Support • Translation • Marketing and PR

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Through working in partnership with you, and by understanding your business and providing bespoke support, we add value and provide commercial HR solutions that contribute to your bottom-line. T: 07973 958149 or 01604 688757 W: www.hrbespokesolutions.co.uk E: phil@hrbespokesolutions.co.uk

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

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TALK SUCCESS AND FINALLY...

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He said she said This month, the entrepreneurs are tweeting about awards, phrases their gran taught them, and getting ready to rhumba. Opinions (and spelling mistakes) all their own Karren Brady @karren_brady When I was 3 my gran told me I should never look down on anyone unless I was helping them up – I’ve lived my life but that message x Lovely bit of advice for life and business.

Lee McQueen @LeeMcQueen Great news & well done to my team @RTA_rec, made the finalists for this years @Onrec Awards! #HardWork #Passion A massive well done to Lee McQueen and his team.

Will King @KingofShaves @ChrisWStokes Thanks Chris. It’s for sure a “moment”. Not often you get chance to game change in an industry as monopolised as razors :-/ Will King spent a lot of time tweeting about his new Hyperglide razor – set to shake up the shaving world.

Jane Ni Dhulchaointi @Janeonbike Chuffed to be featured in this @Telegraph biz article. Apparently you should watch out for me this year :) We agree with the national newspaper too, hence why we featured the founder of Sugru on page 89 this month.

Deborah Meaden @DeborahMeaden On train to Birmingham to join fellow strictlyans for @SCD_Live_Tour Getting ready to Rhumba (actually Cha Cha cha but didn’t work so well!) Deborah Meaden may have been voted off BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing early on, but she’s getting right back into swing of it.

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David Cameron @David_Cameron It’s welcome news that inflation is down & on target. As the economy grows & jobs are created this means more security #forhardworkingpeople Let’s hope there’s more good news to come Mr. Prime Minister.

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e u q e h c e Th n i is ! t s o p t he Frustrated by sluggish cashflow? We can release the money you have tied up in your unpaid invoices. This gives you extra working capital to grow your business and means you can concentrate on making money instead of chasing it.

Call 0800 121 7757 or email info@ultimatefinance.co.uk www.ultimatefinance.co.uk Untitled-3 1

31/01/2014 11:22

Profile for Talk Business

Talk Business Magazine February 2014  

Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...

Talk Business Magazine February 2014  

Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...

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