TALK BUSINESS FEBRUARY 2012
CLAIRE YOUNG SMART, SAVVY & SUCCESSFUL, THE APPRENTICE FINALIST HAS A PHILANTHROPIC SIDE TOO
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FEBRUARY 2012 TALK BUSINESS
71 92 7 COVER STORY: CLAIRE YOUNG 09 INTRODUCTION
39 TURNING THE TABLES
Editor, Gill Anderson takes a look at what’s affecting the business community
Seven steps to choosing an investor
11 ON THE MONEY
42 BEST PRACTICE
The latest Manpower survey and plans for teaching IT in schools
45 CARELESS TALK
14 FACE ON THE COVER
Creating an effective communications strategy
Apprentice finalist, Claire Young shares her thoughts with Talk Business
50 TOP TIPS
22 TAKE ONE COMPANY
Get the most out of meetings
‘ONCE YOU’VE DONE IT WRONG ONCE, YOU WON’T DO IT WRONG AGAIN!’ CLAIRE YOUNG
71 MAKING MEDIA MOGULS Margot Bloom shares tips and advice on getting under the media spotlight
79 TOP OF THE CLASS The benefits of training
ClassDojo is taking classrooms across the US by storm
54 EASTERN PROMISE Launching a new company overseas
80 FINGER ON THE PULSE
25 KEEP A LID ON IT
58 THE BORED ROOM
Outsourcing various elements of the business is a sound choice
Mandy Haberman’s multi-million pound company – from a feeder cup
Delivering tangible results instead of bored staff
86 IT’S FOR YOU
31 BOOK REVIEW
61 THE FRANCHISE SHOW
Communications systems that grow with you
This month’s selection includes Nick Davies’ How To Be Great At Stuff You Hate
The event for anyone considering taking on a franchise
91 MONEY FOR NOTHING
35 MONEY MATTERS
66 KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Neil Poulton of Conceptia discusses ways OSS can help a start up
Clive Lewis FCA, ACMA discusses an alternative to approaching the bank manager for start-up capital
Be forearmed with the latest guidance from the IP Office
92 GADGET GUIDE The high tech gadget future www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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COMMENT TALK BUSINESS FEBRUARY 2012
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Foot-in-mouth syndrome or just the painful truth? As I write, the news includes a report of another potential gaffe from London Mayor and loveable buffoon, Boris Johnson. The tousle-headed champion of the Capital has reportedly told one of our national newspapers that the youth of Britain should learn from the hardworking foreigners who’ve taken their jobs. Johnson is quoted as saying: ‘Look at Pret a Manger. If you’ve been to one recently, how many native Londoners served you? What’s going on?’. While I’d be a fool to suggest that every youngster in London – or the rest of the UK – is keen as mustard, happy to work for peanuts and just so determined to get onto the corporate ladder that he’ll polish the boss’ shoes on his own hanky every morning, I think Boris has called it wrong on this occasion. Take, for instance, the story we’re covering this month of two young chaps who trained as educators in the UK and then upped sticks and moved to Silicon Valley in order to create a software-based training aid for school kids and their teachers. They will, I’m sure forgive me for pointing out that they’re hardly older than the kids they’re helping, but they had the drive and determination to move eight time zones, find somewhere to live, start a company and have such an immediate success that within six months of start up, they won awards, were allocated cash prizes, found investors and even got themselves on national TV with a prime slot on The Today Show. Now that, I’d suggest to Boris, is not British youth who are too lazy to get out of bed in the morning ...
Another successful young company hitting the headlines this week is Cad and the Dandy. Former bankers, and co-founders of the upmarket tailor, James Sleator and Ian Meiers have shaken the establishment and their Savile Row neighbours with their unusual approach, which includes taking the brand mobile, visiting British universities and now the US to fit those too busy to visit the store. Sleater’s cross-Atlantic commute can’t be referred to in any other way than heroic – and I doubt a ravenous dog could find a lazy bone in either of them. So my point: we should be celebrating the success of our nation’s small businesses, and helping budding entrepreneurs of all ages to succeed, rather than assuming we’re breeding a nation of bed-loving ne’er-do wells. GILL ANDERSON EDITOR www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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Cruel to be kind? Will Davies, co-founder of property maintenance company, aspect.co.uk has suggested that the current high numbers of small business casualties are proving a bonus to other start ups. He explained: ‘I’m afraid that a tough financial climate will always result in a high number of bankruptcies, but many of these firms are potentially very good businesses. ‘They just need to be run in the right way to ensure that they generate profits, manage their cash flow and receive the correct level of funding to keep them afloat through rough times.’ Davies bought his own company out of a Company Voluntary Arrangement, financed the deal himself because the banks weren’t interested in providing capital and now turns over more than £10m a year. He cherry-picked assets (including leased vehicles, ladders and drainage equipment), the goodwill in the trading name and the debtor book and took on most of the staff. He was able to recover nearly £50,000 for the debtor book, and managed to pay back the loans he needed to buy the business in three months.
Play to the gallery Heart of the South West has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UK Trade & Investment, making it the official Government body responsible for coordinating foreign direct investment across the area. HOTSW, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Devon and Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay will be working closely with UKTI to promote the area to potential overseas investors. The Memorandum represents an important milestone, illustrating the Government’s commitment to LEPs direct role in inward investment. The MoU has established a protocol
about how leads are handled between the two organisations; it also allows the LEP to direct potential investment to the best locations, matching skills and expertise across Devon and Somerset. Tim Jones, chairman of HOTSW said: ‘Heart of the South West is committed to ensuring foreign direct investment into the patch. This Memorandum will give a firm basis for economic growth across the area, streamlining processes and enabling us to be in touch with potential investment opportunities across the globe. ‘It will allow foreign investors to get the best possible service - it’s a significant step forward and will generate greater levels of inward investment to the area.’
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www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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DIARY DATES Forum welcomes IT announcement
The Forum of Private Business has welcomed the Education Secretary’s plans to overhaul the way IT is taught in classrooms after Michael Gove announced plans to invigorate the way the subject is taught across England and Wales, describing the current teaching as ‘harmful’ and ‘dull’. It is part of a drive by the DfE to increase take-up of the subject in further and higher education fields by capturing pupils’ interest earlier in their school career. The not-for-profit business support group has said its own member research shows employers are keen for education providers to teach youngsters the right skills demanded in the workplace, and has applauded the Government’s intervention as a step in the right direction. ‘This is exactly the kind of change to the education curriculum that our members tell us they want to see,’ said the Forum’s chief executive, Phil Orford. ‘A targeted approach to what secondary school pupils learn in the classroom with an eye on the types of skills, employers require is exactly what we need to see more of. Our own research has shown that there is a gap between what businesses need and what businesses get when it comes to education standards.’ He added: ‘The future is digital, therefore there’s a clear requirement for more workers who are already skilled in this area, and who will want to take their studies in this subject further. Small businesses are desperate for employees with the right skills, and this seems a significant step in the right direction from Government to achieving that aim by helping improve the calibre of school leavers in a key area. If the private sector is to drive and grow the economy in the future, we need well-educated innovators and entrepreneurs who can deliver in key growth areas, such as IT.’
The Franchise Show 2012 24-25 Feb 2012 ExCeL, London www.thefranchiseshow.co.uk
Internet Retailing Expo 21-22 March 2012 NEC, Birmingham www.internetretailingexpo.com
Growing Your Own Business 2012 16-17 March 2012 Olympia National Hall, London www.sme-events.com
HR Software Show 2012 20-21 June 2012 Olympia Two, London www.cipd.co.uk
The British & International Franchise Exhibition 2012 16-17 March 2012 Olympia National Hall, London www.franchiseinfo.co.uk
Marketing Week Live 2012 27-28 June 2012 Olympia Grand Hall, London www.marketingweeklive.co.uk
Business 2012 18-20 March 2012 O2 Arena, London www.business2012.com
THE FRANCHISE SHOW, EXCEL, LONDON
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The event, which runs over two full days from 24 – 25 February 2012, brings together more than 150 brands from the UK, as well as a contingent from the US and Australia that are new to the UK market. A selection of franchises to suit all budgets are represented, and the event is supported by experienced franchisees who will share their knowledge with you. A must attend for anyone considering a franchise, the 2012 show will feature industry-specific speakers and experts who will hold workshops and seminars.
PAYS TO BE A FOREIGNER?
According to a survey of 2,100 British employers, the prospects for job seekers are at their lowest level for three years. The Manpower survey discovered that only one in five employers had any plans to hire staff within the next three months. However, many UK employers are reporting that there is actually a drop in the number of applications they are receiving – particularly from British workers.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FOCUS ON SUCCESS FACE ON THE COVER
HEADS Talk Business caught up with Apprentice finalist, business entrepreneur and philanthropist-in-the-making, Claire Young in order to find out more about her work with young people, her own entrepreneurial skills and her ideas for putting the business world to rights
Words Emma Morgan
laire Young is a no-nonsense businesswoman who became a household name when she reached the final of The Apprentice in 2008. Since then she’s worked non-stop setting up numerous business ventures, including www.schoolspeakers.co.uk and www.girlsoutloud.org.uk. She is passionate about promoting entrepreneurship and enterprise to our younger generation and founded TeenBiz the UK’s first business start up scheme for under-18s. Young works hands on in schools, from primary through to university age, and across multiple Government
organisations, helping students to raise their aspirations, take off the blinkers and think big. She supports the National Apprenticeship Service by heading up their Young Ambassador Network, and works in partnership with the Peter Jones Foundation, supporting Tenner Tycoon and Global Entrepreneurship Week. Recently she met with the Prime Minister for roundtable talks and has been invited to join the House of Lords Youth Unemployment taskforce. Young was nominated for the Queen’s Enterprise Award 2011, and represents the UK in The European Network of Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors. She is honorary president of Young
Chamber UK a not-for-profit social enterprise organization, which is dedicated to ensuring that young people of all levels of ability and background are equipped with the skills needed to fulfill their aspirations and achieve their goals. Now a successful young businesswoman she hopes that her story will motivate others to realise that with hard work, drive and determination, anything is possible. Young is an experienced TV presenter, previously presenting on GMTV and Day Break, and regularly contributes to a variety of magazines. She currently co-hosts BBC Radio Leeds’ Saturday lunchtime show – Something for the Weekend.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FACE ON THE COVER FOCUS ON SUCCESS
What were your first steps in business before The Apprentice? I graduated from Bristol University with BSc, applied for 83 jobs and started on the graduate scheme for L’Oreal. I climbed the ladder, working for Colgate Palmolive and then AS Watson – the retail giant, which owns Superdrug in the UK, before applying for the 2008 series of The Apprentice.
Have you always been business minded?
I’ve always understood the value of money, the need to work hard to gain anything and to take a risk – always grabbing opportunities! I had no idea though I would be an entrepreneur.
What made you apply for The Apprentice? Boredom! I had itchy feet in my role and was sick of the corporate world. Screaming at the TV watching The Apprentice, I said I could do a better job – only way to prove it? Apply and find out.
What were the highs and lows of your experience on the show? Highs – I learnt a huge amount about myself and about a new industry (media); I decided to start my own business; everyday of the experience was a challenge – but fun; it really is a-once-in-a-lifetime experience. Lows – long days of 20-hours back-to-back; no sleep; very little contact with home; being in a team which is managed badly; being thrown out of the board room by Lord Sugar was hardcore!
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON SUCCESS FACE ON THE COVER
What long-term benefits has it created for you? The Apprentice opened a huge amount of doors, and gives you a profile, however, it’s not a golden ticket and things don’t happen overnight. My success has been down to old fashioned hard graft and persistence.
Do you think you would have made it as a successful businesswoman if it hadn’t been for The Apprentice?
I was a successful businesswoman before the show. I was in a senior role working for the biggest global health and beauty retailer.
After The Apprentice, what was your next move? It was a career minefield finishing the show. I turned down over 500 jobs, more reality TV offers and took a risk to start my own business. You have to be focused and have a plan – do not get sidetracked.
What is your educational background? How has this helped you to establish yourself as a businesswoman? I attended a traditional all-girls’ school and aside from being academically strong, our head mistress told us to be the best, the brightest and to have real ambition. Everything we wanted to achieve was possible, it was down to us to make it happen.
How important is education to a successful business? This is a difficult question, as many successful entrepreneurs did not engage with school. Personally, the confidence, emotional resilience and soft skills, which were embedded into us at school every day made a huge difference to
Working with youngsters holds real appeal for Young
me. I appreciate that not all schools are like the one I attended though!
Can you tell us about your businesses? School Speakers launched in October 2010 and Girls Out Loud launched April 2010
What was the reason for launching these ventures? School Speakers – I saw a gap in the market to help teachers find good speakers for events and workshops across the curriculum. With Girls Out Loud, being a young woman I constantly worry about things in schools relating to girls – such a bullying, teen pregnancies, drugs, drink etc., and I felt compelled to do something about it. My fellow directors wanted to do the same and Girls Out Loud was born!
What research did you do before launching? What part has this played in the success of your business? Lots and lots of research - see if there is any competition, what’s the gap in the market and therefore where is the opportunity, process and funding.
How did you secure funding? School Speakers was funded by me, and Girls Out Loud is a social enterprise, so we apply for a whole range of grants. Funding is a definite skill!
What advice could you offer to those who are currently
trying to secure funding? Where is the best place to start? The first question is to ask do you want private or public sector funding – as there are different pathways depending on that answer. For private funding, contact Business Angels, Banks, individuals, venture capitalists. For public money, you really need to find someone to help you as it is a minefield.
What sort of marketing did you undertake? Are there any marketing suggestions you can recommend to our readers? We are constantly talking to teachers through PR, social media and direct emailing. It’s important to keep your communication relevant, punchy and to the point. All marketing should have a ROI – return on investment – so we measure everything which we do.
How do you ensure your business is different to others in a similar field? Good customer service! Replying to customers promptly and will all the information, plus more and following up. We have a customer service wheel for every event.
What advice can you offer start-ups who need to stand out from their competition? Make sure you have a clear USP, talk to your target consumer and listen to their feedback, keep up to date with the market and don’t become lazy.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FOCUS ON SUCCESS FACE ON THE COVER
ONCE YOU’VE DONE IT WRONG ONCE, YOU WON’T DO IT WRONG AGAIN!
How many staff do you have? When did you take on your first member of staff, how far into the business were you? I have two permanent members of staff and we employ additional people on a freelance basis. The staff I have were needed straight away.
What do you look for in an employee? Is there something in particular that makes a person stand out?
Positive attitude; hard work ethic; flexible - in a small business it’s all hands on deck - and a sense of humour.
What was your biggest challenge when launching your business? How was this overcome? Cost control, always watching what you are spending. There is the temptation to spend money on marketing - start ups cost and before you know it the budget is blown. A 12-month business plan needs to be your best friend.
It’s well documented that the first two years in business are the toughest. Would you agree? If so, what advice can you give to those going through this launch period? Yes I agree. I started my first business straight into a recession. If you have a bad day, draw a line underneath it and start afresh the next day. Also don’t flog a dead horse - if something is not working then have the sense to change.
How did you gain the knowledge to set up a business? Did you get advice from experts? Please explain. I work on instinct and also have a number of business mentors – with
different skill sets – who I constantly ask for advice. Saying that, the best way to learn is through mistakes. Once you’ve done it wrong once, you won’t do it again! Always think ‘what have I got to gain; what have I got to lose?’ It makes decision planning easy.
What is most important factor when starting a business? A clear USP.
What should budding entrepreneurs take into consideration? Cost, the time involved, and the reality that it will take time to get things moving. Millions don’t roll in overnight.
What tips can you give for pitching to investors? Be prepared with all the key facts and figures, have passion, be polished and be yourself – investors often invest in the people and not the idea.
What are the biggest pitfalls for those starting out? How can they be overcome? Spending too much money and not paying attention to finances - get help with your accounts and make sure you have a basic business plan.
How important is advertising to a new business? What options are available? In your experience, what is the most effective form of advertising? Please explain. The world of marketing has now changed. Consumers are savvy and aware of blatant advertising. Word of mouth, social media and a more subtle approach tends to get better results for my business. Plus advertising can be very expensive,
and you need to ask whether you’ll get a return on it.
From your experience, if you could give one bit of advice for a business start up, what would it be? Do thorough research and have a plan before you dive in with an idea – it will potentially save you a lot of time and money.
At what point should an ambitious new business look to expand? And what elements should they have in place before doing so? That’s a hard question as every case is different – I wouldn’t like to give a definitive answer.
There is still a lot of emphasis on the difference between men and women in business; have you found there to be any disadvantages and/or advantages to being a female entrepreneur? I’m asked a lot about being a woman in business and to me it makes no difference. I don’t feel that I’ve ever been disadvantaged due to my gender. I usually stick out a mile in meetings, as I’m young, a woman and a northerner – that’s good as people remember me. The number of woman in business is still very low though, we need more role models going to schools so teenage girls can aspire and see it’s possible.
Have you always aspired to be a business leader and entrepreneur? Please explain. What sparked your passion for business? I had no idea what I wanted to do until I was 21 and landed my role at L’Oreal. The penny dropped and I thoroughly enjoyed
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FACE ON THE COVER FOCUS ON SUCCESS
What do you believe is the answer to unemployment in this country? This is a huge question to answer in a few words. There needs to be immediate action – not schemes starting in a year as numbers are rising NOW. And it needs to be more targeted – not just a blanket approach, which seems to always be the answer. Students need better, consistent careers advice in schools so that they know all the options post-16.
How important is it to encourage the younger generation to start their own business? Please explain.
my work – I realised that business was what I wanted to do with my life.
You are the honorary president of Young Chamber UK. Can you provide further details about the organisation? What do you get out of it and what do you bring to it? There are nearly 200 Young Chambers set up in the UK, but we need more. The Chambers help engage young people in enterprise projects and make connections with the business world. It’s a really fantastic scheme. There is a somewhat outdated perception of the Chambers that they’re outdated and a bit stuffy - this couldn’t be further from the truth so hopefully I’ll bring energy and a fresh approach.
What are you motivated by in business?
The challenge of taking an idea from my head and making it happen!
How would you describe your business style? Professional; confident; straight to the point; energetic; and results-orientated.
Do you think the Government is doing enough for start-up businesses? What more could they do? I think the Government is lost when it comes to entrepreneurship. There has been a 15 per cent increase in 16-24-year olds starting businesses over the last two years and there is no support for them. As a start-up business you get no tax breaks, VAT benefits or anything to actually encourage you! The Government needs to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to flourish and get the economy moving.
Going to university used to be the immediate answer young people would choose when they left school. Now, due to cost, it isn’t an option for many. We desperately need more career options for young people and starting a new business is one of them. Generation of new business is the only way the UK will move out of debt.
If you could set up any business, what would it be - and why? I’m always racking my brains for new ideas – I’m sorry I can’t share them as they could be worth millions one day.
What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years? I’d like to have an impact on young people’s education and leave a lasting legacy.
CONTACTS: www.youngchamber.com www.schoolspeakers.co.uk www.girlsoutloud.org.uk www.teenbiz.org.uk www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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onsumers like to receive door drops more frequently from retailers than any other sector, new research has revealed.
A new study for Royal Mail Door to Door revealed:
n 92% of consumers are happy to receive unaddressed mail from retailers n 81% said their preferred frequency was up to twice a month. One quarter said they are happy to receive unaddressed mailings a few times a week or more from retailers n Door drops from FMCG brands are next most popular with consumers. Nearly three quarters (74%) are happy to receive mailings up to twice a month n This was followed by restaurants where the score was 50% and local services on 46% The study, conducted by FreshMinds Research, explored the attitude of consumers to receiving unaddressed communications through the letterbox. It also revealed the strong cut through delivered by door drops. 89% of consumers remembered receiving a door drop communication in the previous two weeks. This is more than any other marketing channel. Only 80% of those surveyed reported recalling a TV or radio advert. And the research revealed the place of door drops in many people’s everyday lives with 45% keeping leaflets on a pin board or
in the kitchen drawer. Philip Ricketts, Royal Mail’s Head of Strategy, Marketing and Sales for Door to Door, said: “This research demonstrates the numerous strengths of door drops. Key is the fact it is a physical and tactile media, making it highly memorable. It is also very popular with consumers who can keep it in a visible place and refer to it when required. This is particularly important when you consider we are all becoming increasingly adept at filtering information via screen media. “We also found through our conversations with consumers that certain kinds of door drops, particularly those advertising discounts at local supermarkets, are regularly anticipated and retained and used by consumers - in many cases forming an integral part of their weekly routine.” “Unaddressed communication is proving to be a particularly import method of delivering information that is locally relevant, It is a form of advertising that is set to play an increasingly important role in
local communications with the footprint of local newspapers in decline.” Royal Mail Door to Door recently launched a solution, in partnership with Digital Space, to help businesses make their post interactive using digital watermarking technology. A digital watermark can be embedded into pictures on leaflets and mailings enabling marketers to integrate their print and online material without the need for barcodes or QR codes. Combining state-of-the-art technology with history and heritage enables people to link from their post to a company’s online content, such as a website, video or Facebook page, in seconds. People receiving the digitally-enhanced post simply scan the mail with their 3G phone to start an online journey. Contact us to find out more. www.royalmail.com/what5pbuys Tel: 0845 611 2666 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON SUCCESS TAKE ONE COMPANY
ClassDojo is a digital teaching aid that’s been adopted by more than 800,000 teachers and students in just 12 weeks
lassDojo is a successful student behaviour management tool, which was created by Sam Chaudhary, the youngest ever teacher in Charterhouse’s 400-year history and his business partner, Liam Don. ClassDoJo is a system of continuous testing and feedback to boost student achievement. It is used by teachers to build good behaviour in the classroom and provide real-time feedback loops, with some basic game dynamics, to award positive or negative points to students, and overtly displaying these to the class. Crucially, it engages parents to fix behavioral problems in the home as well. The business secured £1.03m in funding from top-tier institutional venture-capital funds, angel investors and education investors. ClassDoJo also won a £48,500 Citigroup Innovation prize as ‘Best Education Technology Startup of 2011’. Chaudhary and Don are both British, but have relocated to California’s Silicon Valley, where schools place a lot of importance on the development of personal characteristics, as well as achieving good grades. However, they have already seen through British pick up of ClassDojo that this is a move that is slowly being followed in the UK, but the pair believe more can be done. It is a radical change from the current UK system, but
there is a growing school of thought that believes a shift to place more emphasis on character building will prove more effective than measures of cognitive achievement at raising standards and providing the kind of employment skills needed. The theory being that ‘the majority of jobs are not intellectually complex,’ but as Nobel Prize winner, James Heckman pointed out, ‘do require collaboration, confidence and motivation’.
startup with an ambitious vision,’ comments Chaudhary. ‘We are helping teachers, students and parents achieve their full potential.’ And in the meantime, they’re making starting a business look like a Grade 10 lesson in economics.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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hard, and the emotional highs and lows really take their toll on you: we’d wake up one day full of optimism, and the next we’d be terrified that we were making the biggest mistake of our lives! ‘Its important to have people around who can help you keep the rollercoaster in check - we underestimated the importance of that in the early days, and it was tough. Striving to maintain a work/life balance certainly helps!’
Start up advice from the experts Don’s advice for start-ups in the UK is pure common sense. ‘Start by making sure that you’re making something people want. The best way to do that is to choose a market you know something about and then interview your potential customers systematically to find their most difficult problems. For teachers, one of the top answers was behaviour management in the classroom. At this point, thinking of a solution should be easy - your potential customers will probably be making suggestions already. ‘Launch early, learn fast and move quickly - especially if you’re working in an area like software where change is cheap. The main advantage you have is speed of execution, and it is critical to take advantage of that.’ When discussing the formal structure of the company, there appears to be a hole in the planning, but not one that’s caused a problem to date: ‘We didn’t really have a business plan, or certainly not anything formal,’ admits Don. ‘We wanted to start with a real, genuine problem within our market,
‘WE NEW WERE IN WIT COUN A ANDH NO FRI TRY, NETWNO SUP ENDS PO O T RK, T RT COMO STARTRYING PA A SCRANY FROM TCH’
work out a great solution in collaboration with our customers, and then deliver it in the best way we could. ‘Business plans in large companies are a prediction of the future based on past performance and some data on what has worked previously. As a startup, you have no past performance, so your plans are likely to be inaccurate at best, and pure fiction at worst. Our objective was always to help teachers and students to be more effective - we wanted to solve problems for them. We found that the best investors – the ones who understood startups - never asked us for a business plan.’
Putting it all together When it comes to their approach to the business, the pair have strong ideas on what does – and doesn’t work. ‘Work with only the very best people. Never compromise on this,’ asserts Don ‘It’s important to make 70 per cent accurate decisions quickly, rather than delay for the 100 per cent accurate decision. Mistakes are usually easier to correct than you think.’ Chaudhary adds: ‘Work harder than anyone else you know and don’t discount serendipity - put yourself in situations where you could be exposed to serendipitous events. We’ve found some of our greatest successes this way.’ When it comes to setbacks, there may have been one or two, as Chaudhary explains: ‘We joined ImagineK12 in June, and worked hard to get the first version of ClassDojo out by July, determined as we were to release early and iterate
quickly. The problem was, when we released ClassDojo in July, there were no schools in session: we couldn’t get any feedback from teachers, as the teachers weren’t there! ‘Deprived of feedback for four weeks or so, we had to call summer programmes and schools in Australia to get the feedback we needed to build ClassDojo’. When it comes to motivation and success, Don says: ‘The most important thing that drives both of us is the chance to actually have an impact and make a difference in a way that we’ll be remembered for. That’s a part of the reason we’re using a strategy that focuses on growth over revenue in the early stages - because in a high growth startup, the reach and potential are greater. Of course, the risk is greater too, and that’s certainly a big part of what motivates us to work hard! Finally, we asked the pair to come up with one ‘magic wand’ law or policy to aid start up companies. The response? ‘When you’re working in a high tech area, which demands specific technical skills, it’s frustrating to have immigration rules which prevent you from hiring the most appropriate talent. Current immigration laws for highly skilled workers severely limit the available talent pool, especially for startups, which don’t have the same resources and clout as a multinational. ‘If we could put into place one law or policy, it would be to open our doors to the global market in high tech talent.’
CONTACT: www.classdojo.com www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
022-023_TB05_Take One Company_v1gh.ga.indd 23
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FOCUS ON SUCCESS INTERVIEW
KEEP A LID ON IT A mother-of-three’s simple but effective brainwave and subsequent refusal to be beaten has led to the launch of a multimillion pound company – and some very clean carpets across Europe ou’d be forgiven for thinking that a child’s trainer cup (the one with a lid that’s one step up from a feeding bottle) is just that. But entrepreneur and mother, Mandy Haberman saw the opportunity to design something much more practical – and launched a company in order to do it. We found out what makes the company – and the woman behind it – tick.
When did you have your so-called light bulb moment? Prior to my invention, a trainer cup consisted of a cup, lid and a spout with a row of holes. Turn it upside down and, ‘hey presto’, it became a watering can. Children loved that and used to sprinkle juice everywhere, making a sticky mess – a parent’s nightmare! I had personal experience of the problem. I had three children and the stains on the carpet to prove it. I had my light bulb moment when Emily, our youngest, was 10 years old. I remember the moment vividly. We were at a friend’s house for tea. The house was immaculate, with pale peach upholstery and cream coloured shag pile carpet. To the horror of our hostess, a visiting toddler ran across the room with a trainer cup of blackcurrant juice, leaving a trail of sticky pink stains on the carpet. It suddenly occurred to me that what was needed was a cup that sealed by itself, the moment it came out of the child’s mouth. From that moment of realisation onward, I was determined to find a solution.
From thinking of the initial idea for the Anywayup cup, how did you go about getting the invention into production? Finding a way to solve the problem involved making numerous Blue Peter-type models in my kitchen, before having rudimentary parts manufactured to properly test my concept. Once I was convinced that my idea would work, I searched the patent databases to see if this problem had been addressed before. I paid a patent agent to do a professional search for pre-existing patents relevant to my invention. Nothing came up, so I set to work. Having made a reliable working prototype, I visited at least 20 companies, offering them a license for my technology. Everyone thought it was great but it was a new, unproven product, and they were all risk adverse. No one took a license so I ended up walking around with the cup in my bag for about a year. I remember thinking: ‘This is ridiculous, I know every mum wants one. I have to get it out there!’ Eventually, frustrated, I decided to have a go at doing it myself.
How were you so certain that your invention had the potential to succeed? For others in similar situations, can you suggest what elements create a successful invention? Parents spent hours clearing up the mess from conventional trainer cups. Kitchen floors had to be moped every
25 day and fortunes were spent on dry cleaning and laundry. There was always an element of anxiety in case your child made a mess in some one else’s home. I knew that if I could solve the problem, my cup would be a winner – a ‘must have’ product for every family. Cups rarely get passed down from child to child, and every toddler would need not just one, but probably four or five each during their training stage. To be successful, an invention needs to answer a real need that isn’t adequately met in any other way. People will only spend their hard earned cash to buy your invention (especially in today’s financial climate), if they absolutely must have one. Reliability and ease of use are also important factors. Your product must do what is says on the tin! Good design can make a huge difference – educating consumers about your new technology is so much easier if you can attract customers to look at it in the first place.
What research did you carry out before proceeding further? My first step was to go to the Patent Library (now at the Business and IP www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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INTERVIEW FOCUS ON SUCCESS
Centre at the British Library) to do an initial search to see if my idea had been thought of before. I couldn’t find anything, so started working on the practicalities. At every stage I tested the market. In the beginning I did research to measure the significance of the problem: Q: Just how irritated by trainer cup spills were mums and dads? The answer was unanimous – Exceedingly! Q: If something existed that didn’t spill, how much would they pay for it? Answer: ‘Whatever it cost’. I did further research when the prototypes were ready for testing. I had only produced a few and, in reality, they were just early stage working models – so far from perfect. Nonetheless, after trying them, mums refused to give them back! Finally, to test market reaction before going into production, I took the working prototypes to two major nursery exhibitions (one trade and one consumer). I took £10,000 of advanced orders! With orders in the bag, I was able to get a bank loan and set up production.
What advice do you have for those wanting to launch their own invention? Do your homework. Inventing and patenting is expensive in terms of both time and money. You don’t want to waste your resources on something that no one will buy. That sounds obvious but I’ve met so many optimistic inventors with hopeless products that have cost a fortune. It’s simple - put yourself in the shoes of your potential consumer and ask; ‘if this product didn’t exist, what else could I use, or do, to get around the problem?’ If there is an alternative that costs less, chances are you wouldn’t buy your own product! If your invention passes that test, then get along to the BIPC for help, advice, support – and go for it!
How did you raise funding for the project? Was it via investors or personal savings? The Anywayup cup wasn’t my first invention. I self-funded its development from money that I’d made from my
previous invention – the Haberman Feeder (there is a whole other story about that and how I funded it). At the exhibitions, we had taken £10,000 of advance orders based on the prototype of the cup and, in those days (mid 1990s), it was relatively easy to get a bank loan and overdraft facility. I have set up a new company to launch a full range of products, including an innovative new feeding bottle, under the Anywayup brand. The new venture involves setting up our manufacture and distribution centre in the UK. This business is on a different scale to anything I‘ve done before, and we have secured substantial investment from private equity. The range will be on the shelves in spring of 2012.
What are your top tips for inventors seeking funding? How should it be approached? Remember that your potential investors are human – they like human-interest stories, get bored easily and most of them glaze over if you get too technical. Make your business plan and presentations interesting, concise and passionate. You must have convincing figures and should show full spreadsheets but put them in the appendices. Be realistic with your figures, but strike a balance between being too conservative and too optimistic. Investors don’t want to take risks with their money but they will only be interested if they see a good return for their investment.
Protecting your IP is vital. How did you gain your knowledge of the minefield that’s the patent system? When I started, I knew very little. Like most people, I thought that once your patent was granted, that was it – you had an automatic 20-year monopoly. That is not the case. A patent is a piece of paper that gives you the right to enforce a monopoly at your own cost and, just because a patent is granted, does not necessarily mean that your patent is valid. I had a rude awakening to these facts the first time my patents were infringed.
I commenced litigation but was shocked when the other side countersued, claiming that my patent was invalid and should never have been granted in the first place (meaning therefore, they could not be infringing it). This, apparently, is normal practise. My patent was examined again, in court, and could have been revoked. In the UK, the loser pays both sides’ costs so, even in a simple case, the liability can typically be well over £1m. I had to risk my home in order to enforce my rights. Thankfully, my patent was judged to be both valid and infringed – so I won the case!
How important is protecting your IP as an inventor? It is essential to protect your IP. There are lots of forms of intellectual property, and many are much cheaper than patents. However, you need appropriate and sufficient protection. Without it, if someone copies you, there is nothing you can do about it. If I had not been able to stop companies copying my invention, I would not have been able to protect my position in the market and I wouldn’t have made a bean.
What advice can you give to those who have been a victim of infringing? I’ve met many inventors who claim that they have been infringed, but the legal reality is very different. If you think you have been infringed: Go to the UKIPO and ask for an opinion on both infringement and the validity of your patent, before your risk taking legal action. Try to settle the dispute out of court through mediation or ADR. Take a cold commercial view, and only commence legal proceedings if it is financially worthwhile to do so or, if stopping an infringer is essential to the survival of your own business. Make sure that your potential opponent has the capacity to pay what he owes if you win.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FOCUS ON SUCCESS INTERVIEW
is much cheaper than the High Court. In the PCC the costs are capped – but so are the damages that can be recovered. Remember, legal action is very costly – both financially and in man-hours. It saps creative energy, which you could put to better use.
What is the best way to protect your invention? Register appropriate IPRs and also consider taking out IP legal costs insurance – to cover you if you have a dispute with a licensee, if someone accuses you of infringing their patent or, if someone infringes yours.
You have established yourself as a successful entrepreneur, what do you believe are the main factors that have contributed to your success? When I was a seven-year-old, I was taught two things that have remained with me. One, if you fall off the horse, you have to get straight back in the saddle and two, when you are learning to ride, you fall off 10 times before you’re a real rider. That taught me that it is OK to make mistakes before you succeed (in fact you can expect to make mistakes) and that if you want to achieve something, you have to keep at it, despite the knocks and bumps along the way. So, for me, the main factors are: Determination to succeed Hard work Passion Making your own luck The courage to take risks Originality A great team of people around you Hard work Balls (..yes, women do have them!)
How did you build your business and brand? I started out as a one-man-band from my kitchen table, but once I had developed my product and patented it, I teamed up with two marketing guys and together we set up a company to bring the cup to market. We started out by supplying the orders placed at the two trade fairs we’d
attended. Those customers were independent shops and people who ran nurseries – small fry. However, for our business to be viable we needed big volume sales and that meant getting into the supermarkets (online selling wasn’t an option at that time). The problem was that the supermarkets were not interested in dealing with a one-product company. They all rejected our advances. Determined not to be defeated (and because we had nothing to lose!) we took a risk. We filled an Anywayup cup with concentrated Ribena, put the lid on and placed it inside a large white cardboard box without the protection of poly-bags or cling-film. It was just a cup of juice rolling around inside a box. Then, we posted it to the head buyer at Tesco, with a little note that read: ‘If this reaches you as a soggy mess, then we have shot ourselves in the foot. BUT, if it reaches you without spilling, please call us!’. I’ve never spent a more anxious four days, waiting for the ‘phone to ring. My partners were chain smoking whilst I ate my body weight in muffins. Then … the ‘phone rang! Putting the cup into her hands had made the magic of Anywayup real. She ‘got it’ and we were on the shelves within weeks. Once your product is accepted and successful in one supermarket chain, the rest tend to follow. By the end of our first year, we were in two supermarkets, we had sold half a million cups, and our business was in profit. We then commissioned Sebastian Conran to redesign the range, so that it had added ‘stop me a buy one’ appeal. As a result, sales boomed. Within 18 months, we had 40 per cent market share in the UK and 75 per cent in Germany. Our advertising budget was almost non-existent but we had lots of PR. This
was helped by the media coverage I had as a result of the court case against the infringer. It was a David and Goliath case, and it caught the attention of journalists. So, although it was terrible at the time, that particular black cloud had a very beneficial silver lining. I‘ve recently set up a new business, which is due to launch in 2012. My experience has taught me the massive value of PR. I intend to keep advertising to a minimum this time too!
At what point should a business look to expand? Managing growth is a challenge, particularly in today’s financial climate. Cash flow can make or break you. So, you need to plan how your growth will be financed, well in advance of needing the cash. I worked on a shoestring in the past, which has its pros and cons. I am very careful with money but when I’ve looked at all the figures and my gut tells me to take a risk and invest, I listen. The money men (and women) are always exceedingly cautious, but if you really believe in yourself and your business, you should be able to persuade investors. It is certainly easier to raise investment for growth when you have an established order book, than it is to raise investment for a start-up.
For those wanting to expand in the future, what is your advice? Make sure the money is there to support your growth. Sell equity if you have to. It is the old adage – better to have a smaller slice of a bigger cake, than all of nothing.
How can an inventor improve their chances of success? Go along to the Business and IP Centre at the British Library. They provide all the resources, advice and skills training that you need. They will hold your hand all the way through the process. For personal inspiration and encouragement, I used networks like: www.moretolifethanshoes.com; www. shesingenious.org and www.ideas21.co.uk Good luck!
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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BOOK REVIEW FOCUS ON SUCCESS
How To Be Great At The Stuff You Hate: You have to do it… you might as well enjoy it, by Nick Davies No one likes a pushy, smarmy salesman – but most of us need to sell to some extent. How else can we get any business? We all have to do it now, whether we’re lawyers, accountants or start-ups. But don’t despair. As a trainer in business development skills, Nick Davies knows that the vast majority of non-sales people think that selling is something that you ‘do’ to someone. Furthermore, they regard it as some kind of dark art, practised by pushy, manipulative and basically dishonest people who can, using their powers, make people buy
things they don’t want. How to be Great at the Stuff You Hate demystifies the whole thing and makes it clear that selling is a process rather than an event and something that is done with people. The whole book is based around an easy to follow model that works: target, connect, meet and ask, whilst following up at every stage. The approach is simple. The flow diagrams, quotes, matrixes, graphs, tables and other confusing nonsense that some writers insist on using aren’t there. And there’s no reference to a higher power or divine inspiration either.
According to the author, all you need to do to succeed: ‘is cut the crap, be yourself and win some business’. About the author: Nick Davies is a former barrister who now works as a business trainer and speaker. In 2008, he started up The Really Great Training Company to provide people with no nonsense, practical training in key aspects of communication skill, delivered in a way that is effective, engaging, remembered and bursting with useful, practical information that’s based in the real world. Davies’ plain-talking, humorous approach has led to several
accolades, including Trainer of the Year 2007/08 by LETG, and Best Conference Speaker Award at the KMUK European Conference 2009/10. He has also just been appointed to train members of senior staff within The Royal Household at Buckingham Palace. Published by Capstone in paperback. ISBN: 9780857082435, priced £12.99
Stop Talking, Start Doing, by Sháá Wasmund with Richard Newton
There’s never been a better time to start doing the things you want to do. Perhaps you feel your career is stuck in a rut – or maybe you’re in the wrong job altogether? Or maybe you have a great business idea
but something is stopping you from actually getting started? You may already be running a business but struggling to get to it to where you want it to be. Or perhaps you just want to be more successful in general – without knowing exactly what your vision of success is – yet! If you want to do something but secretly fear you’re never going to do it, whatever that might be, then this book will help you. Stop Talking, Start Doing is a short, clear and cleverly illustrated book that will inspire you to take action. Whatever you want to achieve, this is the guide you need to get to where you truly want to be.
You need true inspiration from someone truly inspirational! Sháá Wasmund’s formula for success is: if you want results, you need to take action. Stop Talking, Start Doing is for anyone who wants to be more successful. Wasmund shares her experiences of working alongside some of the world’s most successful and famous business people. From being the only female boxing manager at 21, to Internet entrepreneur at 38, this book will show you how to fulfill your potential in every area of your life, including: The confidence to make your goal a reality The courage and
motivation you need to take action and make a start Do everything in this book and live the life you really want About the author: A graduate of The London School of Economics, Wasmund runs ‘Smarta Business Builder’, a groundbreaking cloudbased subscription model toolkit for business. She is also the author of The Smarta Way to do Business. Stop Talking, Start Doing is published by Capstone in fully illustrated paperback and e-book formats ISBN 978-0-85708-173-5, priced at £9.99
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON SUCCESS BOOK REVIEW
Personal Best: How to achieve your full potential, by Marc Woods
It’s not always easy to embrace life, to get up and go, to follow your dreams and make things happen. Marc Woods overcame personal challenges to become a four-times Paralympic Gold medalist after losing a leg. It’s that determination and dedication that he shares. His inspiring story is the motivation budding entrepreneurs need to start being the best they can be. Woods comments: ‘In writing Personal Best, I wanted to share my life experiences, to relate how I dealt with, and overcame the different challenges that I faced and then went on to achieve success. ‘If you are lucky, life teaches you what you don’t
learn at school. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve learnt some tough, but invaluable lessons about life on my journey. I’d like to share those lessons with you’. Personal Best will help you: Set specific, measurable and achievable goals Learn to forge supportive teams and communicate with those around you Find role models and follow their example Learn to ignore other people’s prejudices and not let them hold you back Deal with change — change that you choose and change that you don’t Manage stress levels Woods’ courageous story continues to inspire and motivate the thousands of people he speaks to around
the world, where he shares the wisdom he has learnt throughout his continual journey. Be inspired by his courage, commitment and unwavering determination and discover how you can enhance or develop these skills to realise your own ambitions. Marc Woods was a member of the British swimming team for 17 years, winning 33 international medals, despite his left leg being amputated below the knee when he was 17. He was a founding member of the British Athletes Council and serves on the Board of the Youth Sport Trust. He now works extensively with individuals, teams and global businesses, encouraging them to develop
best practice within their given areas of interest. Approximately 25,000 people each year watch his inspirational presentations. Woods also runs a development consultancy, SladenWoods. Personal Best is published by Capstone on January 22, 2012. ISBN 978-0-85708-287-9, and is available in paperback and e-book formats, priced at £10.99
Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company from Concept to Creation in 54 Hours, by Marc Nager, Clint Nelsen and Franck Nouyrigat
What can you accomplish in one weekend? The book contains best practices, lessons learned, and empowering examples derived from Startup Weekend’s experiences
for individuals and small businesses to follow as they launch businesses. From a reliance on trust to an aversion to unwieldy structure, each of the key beliefs has yielded powerful results. Each section will focus on: Trust and empowerment Keeping the structure flexible The power of experiential education Action-based networking The result and the future Apply these simple actionable principles to launch your own startup revolution.
About the authors: Marc Nager, Clint Nelsen and Franck Nouyrigat are the directors of Startup Weekend (www.startupweekend.org), a non-profit organization with a mission to educate entrepreneurs, strengthen communities, and launch startups. Startup Weekend holds weekend events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startups come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and create startups in 54 hours. Startup Weekend
began in June 2007 and the core team has grown to eight full time and three part time employees, along with a network of over 120 Startup Weekend volunteer facilitators and organizers who plan and lead Startup Weekends and events around the world. To date, over 25,000 people have attended over 210 Startup Weekend events in 35 countries since 2007. Startup Weekend is published by Wiley in hardback ISBN: 2011978-1-11810509-2, priced £16.99
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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CLIVE LEWIS FOCUS ON MONEY
‘PEOPLE WHO KNOW AN ENTREPRENEUR PERSONALLY MAY BE MORE SUPPORTIVE, PARTICULARLY IF THEY HAVE RUN A BUSINESS’
Clive Lewis FCA, ACMA discusses an alternative to approaching the bank manager for start-up capital - raising finance through friends and family
here are certain things that always seemed to cost more than you had imagined: holidays, moving home, evenings out with friends. Setting up in business is no exception. If an entrepreneur has enough of their own capital – and is willing to dig into it – then convincing others to invest in the business is not an issue. However, when seeking finance, an entrepreneur will need to present a convincing picture of the business’s financial condition and future prospects. Personal funding for a new business may come from any shares that the entrepreneur has, personal savings, money released from personal assets or from the entrepreneur re-mortgaging their home. Raising finance through friends and family is another option. Start-up businesses that are unable or unwilling to borrow from a bank until the business is established with an income and certainty of cash flow, usually find this the best way to help finance their new business. Asking for finance from friends and family may be a sensitive issue that can test relationships, but people who know an entrepreneur personally may be more supportive, particularly if they have run a business.
How long should you borrow for?
The length of a loan from a family member or friend will depend on the reason the entrepreneur is borrowing the money. If they need the money to get over a short-term funding gap – such as a customer delaying a big payment - or the business wants money to finance a new project with a quick pay back, a loan for 6- or 12-months might be sufficient. But they must be very confident that they will be able to repay the loan after the specified period. Limiting a loan for 6- or 12-months might be optimistic in some cases. However there might be a clause in the agreement that the entrepreneur might ask for an extension provided the lender is comfortable with it. www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON MONEY CLIVE LEWIS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Drawing up a written agreement
It is advisable to draw up a written agreement on issues such as how you intend to repay them. This makes it clear that their funding is an investment and not a favour, which should help avoid any misunderstandings. To draw up a formal written agreement it is essential to include the following points: n The parties to the agreement – the names and addresses of the lender and the entrepreneur. n The amount of finance involved. n The nature of the advance - is it a loan or is it to buy an interest (a share) in the business. If the finance advanced is a loan: over what period are the repayments? It is not unusual to allow a ‘repayment holiday’ for the first year or possibly two. In any event a repayment schedule should be included showing repayment amounts and dates. n What rate of interest will be payable and when (monthly, quarterly, annually)? Will the rate of interest change if national rates increase or decrease? n If it is a loan, it is usual to include a clause, which specifies, if the business cannot repay the loan on the scheduled dates, what rights the lender has? In larger businesses it is not uncommon to term the loan mezzanine finance. This is initially a loan but if the repayment conditions are not met, the lender has an automatic right to convert the loan into shares giving them an interest in the business. n Is there any security (such as assets) if the entrepreneur is unable to repay the loan? If the finance advanced is to buy a share of the business, it is usual for a limited liability company to be formed so that the purchaser will be issued shares. n What percentage of the business will be offered? Owning shares means having the right to any dividends on the shares, as well as any increase in the worth of the business. n What rights do the shares have compared with other shares? Are the voting rights (at shareholder meetings) the same? This is important when deciding issues such as dividends payable on shares. n What rights do the shares have if the business is wound up – do the shares have priority of repayment over the other
(entrepreneur’s) shares? n What ‘oversight rights’ are attached to the new shares (see below)?
Investing rather than lending
If a family member or friend is thinking of investing in your business, you need to determine the percentage of shares in relation to the amount of money they are lending you. You must also consider any financial liabilities associated with this. People who consider investing in a business usually want to see a business plan identifying the important aspects of the business, such as the forecast sales, costs, profits, cash flow, assets, people, etc. Potential investors must understand that if they buy shares in a business, there is a risk that the business will fail and they will lose some, or all, of their investment. If the amounts of money involved are large, the potential investor would be wise to have the business plan checked over by a chartered accountant and have a discussion with them about the valuation of the shares. The valuation is usually the sticking point when it is in a new or early stage business. If the business has no track record or a short trading history without being able to demonstrate a consistent profit record, valuing how much a new investor’s stake is worth is very difficult. Investors must be convinced that the business will prove its worth. They may want to keep a check on their investment, so what oversight of their investment will they want: n Will they want access to regular financial information, such as monthly or quarterly management accounts as well as annual financial reports? n Will they want to become a director of your company? n Will they want regular meetings with you to discuss the progress of the business? n Will they want a role in the running of the business, perhaps part time?
The main issue with friends and family finance is to ensure that both parties are clear about the terms of the finance offered. That is why a written agreement is essential. If a written agreement is not
Clive Lewis is chartered accountant (FCA) and a chartered management accountant (ACMA). After qualifying in public practice he spent twenty years in financial controller/ director roles in various sized businesses mainly in the electronics sector. His last position prior to join the ICAEW was as finance director of a quoted electronics PLC. He joined the ICAEW in 1993. At ICAEW, he is head of enterprise, where he has conducted a number of surveys on business issues, including the annual ICAEW Enterprise Survey, now in its fifteenth year. He writes regular articles for the media using the feedback from surveys of, and more informal contacts with, ICAEW members, and his experience in business. In addition he makes presentations to business audiences on current enterprise topics and small business issues.
drawn up, it is likely that there will be misunderstandings, disagreement and possibly legal action. The extent of the detail in the written agreement will depend on how much money is involved, the nature of the advance as well as the reason for it. New businesses are long on potential but short on trading history. First time entrepreneurs can be unrealistically optimistic. That is why it is best if the person approached is experienced in business and understands the potential pitfalls. Chartered Accountants have wide experience of start-ups and young businesses, and their advice should be obtained if the amounts involved are large or the parties cannot agree on terms of the agreement. If you’d like a free consultation in how to draw up a written agreement, or help with writing a business plan, visit www. businessadviceservice.com and search for an ICAEW chartered accountant in your area.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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AMS Accountancy Ltd you should talk to us….
Starting up in Business?
Starting a new business requires focus and energy and is not for the faint hearted. It’s a time when you need to think about how to create sustainable profits.
Small and Medium Businesses (SME's) are the lifeblood of the UK economy. We have worked with small businesses for over 25 years and understand that entrepreneurs know what they want to achieve. Our job is to work with them to help make it happen.
AMS Investments & Pensions Ltd is our sister company which provides advice on all aspects of investments, protection, pensions and mortgages. Peter Fulcher, is our Independent Financial Adviser.
You should talk to us: To find out which structure will suit your business, Sole Trader, Limited Company or Partnership. Don’t underestimate the financial importance of this decision.
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Minimising tax bills – ensuring that the maximum tax relief is claimed.
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Business plans - the better the plan the more likely you are to succeed. Management accounts – keep track and measure against your targets.
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You should talk to us if: You are looking for a reasonable standard of living when you retire. You are looking for a mortgage or re-mortgage deal that is clear and transparent. You need general insurance for your business or personal protection. AMS Investments & Pensions Ltd is an appointed representative of Business & Personal Investment Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and entered on their register under firm reference number of 425865
Peter Fulcher Pensions & Investments
AMS Accountancy Ltd. Delta 606, Welton Road Swindon SN5 7XF 01793 818400 www.ams-accountancy.co.uk
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CHOOSING INVESTORS FOCUS ON MONEY
he nG t ice, i t t ‘Ge ey is n G it mon GettinronG but the w ld be ou from le cto the p o e p atal e’ f pris r e t en
TURNING THE TABLES
Simon Clark at Fidelity Growth Partners offers seven steps to choosing an investor
very potential investor will want to carry out detailed research on your company before committing funds. The term of art for this is due diligence, and any business person who has ever raised money will tell you that it can be a painful and drawn out process. An investor will want to go through the accounts and the forecasts in detail, understand the intellectual property in the business, interview key staff, customers, suppliers and prospects, and get a sense of the market
opportunity and competitive landscape. All of this takes time and much of it takes money, but it’s an essential part of giving a new investor the comfort that their money is being invested wisely.
But what about the entrepreneur? How does the owner of the business get comfort on the quality of their prospective new investor? When a founder is trying – often anxiously – to raise the funds the business needs to grow and prosper, the quality of the investor behind an offer of money may be the last thing on his mind, but it shouldn’t be. A new investor will usually take a seat on the board, will have a voice in the strategy
and direction of the business, will need to support any future fundraising, will have all sorts of vetoes and control rights and, crucially, may be able to fire the founding team. Getting the money is nice, but getting it from the wrong people could be fatal to the enterprise.
So what is a founder to do? After all, checking out a potential investor is not that easy. There are websites like TheFunded, which rate venture capitalists, but this is hardly TripAdvisor. The founder really needs to dig in and do some work to find out what kind of partner he is signing up. Here are seven questions, which an entrepreneur should ask before taking an investor’s money: www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON MONEY CHOOSING INVESTORS
THE LAST THING YOU WANT IS TO BE HOBBLED ASKING FOR PERMISSION TO MAKE CHANGES TO THE BUSINESS BECAUSE YOU AGREED TO TIE YOUR HANDS IN RETURN FOR A FEW EXTRA POUNDS IN VALUATION
Does the investor keep his promises?
At the courtship stage, most investors will talk about how they can help the business: they may refer to useful contacts, past experience that could be relevant, or prospects they can introduce you to. Take them up on all of these and see if they can deliver. You will probably be talking to a lot of potential investors and seeing if they deliver is an easy way of filtering out those who just talk a good game.
how Does the investor treat FounDers?
I have never met an investor who doesn’t claim to be a friend of all founders, nor one who isn’t prepared to take action if a business is floundering, including sometimes firing the founder. The question is whether they help and support the founder in building the business, or just complain and criticise, and the way to answer the question is to ask other founders that the investor has backed in the past. Insist on getting names and contact details of a wide range of founders and then call them. Don’t delegate this - this is a vital reference.
what terms are on oFFer?
If you have the luxury of multiple offers, you will notice that price is only one – and often not even the most important – term. Investors will have different approaches to the terms of their investment: these will include a valuation of the business, but also return preferences, controls and vetoes. Look at all the terms in the round, and be prepared to trade price for simplicity. The last thing you want is to be hobbled asking for permission to
make changes to the business because you agreed to tie your hands in return for a few extra pounds in valuation.
how olD is the FunD?
This a subtle, but important point. Most venture funds have ten-year lives. If you raise money from a fund in its first year, then they will probably be more patient than if you have raised money from a fund in its fourth or fifth year. All investors want to sell eventually – after all, that’s how they are paid, but you need to know the timetable they are working to – and make sure it fits with your own.
are the prepareD to Follow their money?
Of course your plan shows that you will never need money again, that everything will grow smoothly, that all the curves go up and to the right. But real life is never like that. Your business will hit bumps and encounter surprises and may well need more cash at some point. You need to know that your investors are prepared for the surprises and will stand by the business if needed. To do that, you need to find out what the investors have reserved for follow-on investments, and what their processes are for making such decisions.
how Does the investment Firm work?
If you are raising money from an angel, you know exactly who you are dealing with, quirks and all, but if you are raising venture capital, you have a whole partnership to consider. Understanding the dynamics of the partnership is crucial if you are to avoid nasty surprises. You might want to ask a few
questions: how does the partnership make decisions? Who is sponsoring your investment? What other investments do they have in this market? What’s the history been of those investments? Is there a dominant voice in the firm? Where does the firm’s capital come from and what do their investors want to see? All the questions will give you an insight into the pressures and challenges that your new board member will be feeling and a better sense of what will matter to him.
Can you get on with your new investor?
And finally, the most important question of all: you are going to be working together for many years while you build a business. In the end, choosing an investor you respect, who understands your business, who will stay calm in tough times and be demanding in good times, and who you think will help you make your company more valuable than you could have made it on your own, is the key to a happy and productive relationship.
Fidelity growth partners www.fidelity.co.uk
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FOCUS ON STRATEGY BEST PRACTICE: ECRM
Felix Velarde, managing director of Underwired explains how to identify and prioritise the eCRM practice
postage, then the switch to email will n a tough economic climate, save you an instant £40,000, and more marketing can be a difficult area for start-up businesses; the second time you do it. costs, digital options, return on investment – there’s a Getting it right lot to consider, which is why But making this kind of switch can be email Customer fraught with costly mistakes. Making Relationship Marketing decisions about what to do requires – or eCRM – may be the intelligence, experience and a clear way forward. In a recession, view of what the expected returns are the pressure on marketers likely to be, and that’s difficult for most can be intense and every penny has to marketers new to channels like eCRM. be justified. Boards and finance While the conversion from postal to directors are constrained by a natural digital seems like a no-brainer, your conservatism based on the desire to brand and your customers may not be reduce risk to the business as much suited to email at all, and you may have as possible. a major flop on your hands if you make On the other hand, there’s an the switch without some testing. ECRM, imperative towards cheaper, more which provides marketers with total auditable marketing channels. In tracking from customer to email sent, theory, digital presents the greatest response behaviour and eventual opportunity. For example, if value, lends itself perfectly your company traditionally to testing and uses direct mail to experimentation. ‘ECRM pRovidEs total communicate with your If you want to find tRaCking fRoM customers, there are out the answer to a CustoMER to instant savings to be yes/no question, and EMail sEnt, made simply by you want to test it REsponsE switching from post before you make a bEhaviouR to email. If you’re decision based on the and EvEntual sending 100,000 answer, then you will valuE’ mailers out, with each need a minimum of 383 costing 50p in print and people in order to get an
answer you can be 95 per cent confident of and which reflects your entire database. So if you want to test whether you’ll get the same response rate to an email version of your campaign versus your direct marketing campaign, send the email version to 383 people in your database - selected at random. If you run segmented campaigns, do the comparison between 383 people in each segment and your control. Only once you’ve got the answer should you roll out the change across the whole customer base, but by then you will have numbers you can show to the budget holders, which justify the change based on cost savings and minimised risk. There are of course a number of different things you can tweak to great effect. For example, you could spend money on improving segmentation, open rates, the effectiveness of calls to action, switching people from call centre sales to web sales and expanding your database.
Increasing value in different ways All of these are potentially valid ways to increase the value you get from your eCRM activities. In some instances the value can be enormous. Say you’re sending a million emails a month, and getting 2142 orders worth £50 each.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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top fivE ECRM tips
Increasing your open rate from 15 per cent to 16.5 per cent and your clickthrough rate from 15 per cent to 18.75 per cent will take your annual revenue from nearly £1.3m to almost £1.8m – an increase of around 38 per cent. That half a million in incremental revenue is enormous - provided it costs less than the profit margin on it to make the changes required. Again, it really comes down to how you decide what to focus your energies and investment on. In my experience of working with brands like Tesco Kitchens, Harveys, Laithwaites Wines and Sony, there are always a number of changes you can effect. As you can probably tell, I’m a stickler for the numbers; I always want to know what levers I can pull, and what effects that will have on the revenue. Given a variety of possible improvements, all of which will come at some cost, then you clearly need to know what to focus on first. Once we have identified what these opportunities are for a given company, we will always try and attach some numbers to them, and I believe that when you are planning what you do during 2012, when your focus should be on lowering risk and increasing the returns you get from marketing, this is a critical first step.
So how do you go about it? Well, we have constructed a very simple system for doing this. It’s essentially a table, which starts with the value of the product line you are selling. The table contains things like purchase frequency, segment size, conversion rates, campaign costs, improvement costs and so on. Once you have populated this table, you should have something that gives you your current
ROI for a given product and its associated marketing campaign. You can then focus very simply on tweaking the numbers. For example, if you could improve your conversion rate from seven per cent to eight per cent, what is the effect on the resulting revenue? Does that increase give you sufficient incremental revenue to invest in actually making the improvement? If not, strike it from your list of potential activities. If it does justify itself on the other hand, put it on your potential activities list for this year. Pretty quickly you will build yourself a list of possible activities, with what amounts to a business case for each. You will also pretty quickly identify activities and improvements that will have greater effects than others. In my experience, this prioritisation process will always throw up some very unexpected results - things you will immediately see that you absolutely must do right away. The benefit of this methodology is not just identifying what your quick wins and lowest hanging fruit are, it’s a set of business cases you can share with your financial director and board. This gives you the power to make decisions based on lowest risk, highest reward activities, now that you’ve got a table filled with numbers, which double up as an inbuilt set of key performance indicators. And in uncertain, recessionary times like these, having confidence in your marketing plan is what differentiates you from your competition.
the quickest win is to move from print to email - the cost for a million mailers goes from £300,000 to £3,000. Test it first of course, with a random but statistically valid sample from your DB - your product may lend itself uniquely to postal DM.
getting segmentation right gives you the second quickest win. We always get a 70 per cent increase in results when we do the first three-way segmentation, and this tends to pay for the first year’s programme on its own.
people easily focus on 90-day plans, but eCRM is long-term programming. So do three things in parallel - a short-term win, medium-term and long-term. The first will deliver the results that will justify waiting for the others.
before you set targets and KPIs, make sure you’re measuring everything. Setting KPIs without measurement capabilities means you can only guess whether you’re achieving your aims.
and before that, make sure you’re providing a value exchange when people sign up to your newsletter. Just saying, ‘sign up for news,’ begs the question, ‘what’s in it for me?’
www.underwired.com www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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YOUR SMALL BUSINESS SOFTWARE FORCE MULTIPLIER OR HANDBRAKE? 44
In this article Easify Ltd Director and Lead Developer Richard Moore discusses some of the basic design considerations that they applied when developing their small business software package Easify, and how those considerations can be applied to your own business needs... When we set out to design and develop Easify, we had many complex design decisions to make but ultimately our criteria for deciding whether an idea or feature made it into the final product boiled down to the following:
n Does it make everyday business tasks easier? n Does it make everyday business tasks quicker to do? n Does it in some way help to make or save the business money? These simple rules of thumb allowed us to develop an application that is easy to use and a tangible benefit to any small business; they can be used as a yardstick for any other small business software solution.
Never enter data twice Don’t type a quote and then re-type it as an invoice, and then re-type it into an accounts package. If you use a word processor for creating quotes you’re wasting valuable time. Your software system should allow
you to put the details into a quote, and not have to re-enter them at every step through production and billing. If you have a website and a backend processing system, do you have to manually raise web orders? Web orders should flow directly into the backend. Entering data twice wastes time and is error prone; make sure your software systems are integrated or at least capable of data export and import.
Look at your current business software, does it save you time? Does it let you do more work with fewer staff? Does it allow you to make or save money in a way that would not be possible without it? If you feel that you spend more time entering data into a software package than doing valuable work it is probably time for a review. Remember that business software is just a tool like a desk or a chair – if it is not being useful it is just getting in the way.
Make sure everyone in your business can use the software
Business software as a force multiplier
Over complicated software can take time to use (slowing you down) and also cost time and money in training. Software should not be so complex that only qualified staff can use it, you should be able to teach staff how to use the system in house without the need for external trainers. Can everyone in your organisation use the software? A good software system will be usable by all staff, allowing everyone to contribute towards getting the paperwork done.
Easify software is a small business force multiplier that allows you to do more work with fewer staff and ensures that as you grow your business, your software takes the strain allowing you to scale profits and not losses.
Does your business software earn its keep?
Contact Richard Moore e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: @EasifyUK w: easify.co.uk
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
TELEPHONE MANNERS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
‘Th oncere w e a w we hen pa Tim s n for T on eople Tw holi e we day couand no ld g o on eks of y eT hoe ou’ ld
Every small business owner knows that time is money, but are you efficiently using the communications within your company? Dave Howell reports
esearch carried out by T-Mobile about how small businesses use their telecommunications makes for stark reading. On average a business owner will spend 45 minutes a day, or four hours a week on the telephone. When this is related to the UK as a whole, almost three million working hours a week are taken up with these conversations. Eighty-six percent of small business owners said they waste time every day talking to suppliers, customers, colleagues and partners who don’t get to the point. The vast majority (91 per cent) see themselves as straight talkers and have very little patience for those who do not take this approach. Almost three quarters (74 per cent) www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON STRATEGY TELEPHONE MANNERS
admitted to switching off after just five minutes if they feel someone isn’t straight talking and one in five (19 per cent) will not listen at all. One in ten even prefer to skip pleasantries altogether and get straight to the point in all business meetings. Martin Lyne, director of SME marketing at T-Mobile comments: ‘Thirty per cent of the small businesses we polled, stated half or more of their suppliers are not straight talking. As a supplier to many of these UK businesses, it’s important to us that we know how to best engage with them and this research clearly highlights the price being paid for a lack of straight talking in business. We recognise the importance of allowing them to get on with what they do best and not waste their time with jargon or complex products and services.’ Alex Polizzi, Channel 5’s The Hotel Inspector, is renowned for her direct approach to discussing and tackling business issues. Commenting on the research, Polizzi said: ‘I’ve always advocated a straight talking approach in business, and T-Mobile’s research shows just how much it matters to small business owners. ‘It has nothing to do with being rude to people and everything to do with saving time - and ultimately money. No matter
what the market conditions, small business owners simply don’t have the time to waste and, in tougher times, straight talking is all the more important. Suppliers to small businesses have an important role to play here.’
Brief encounters Today of course, your business has multiple channels of communications that are also increasingly becoming mobile. Ensuring every minute you spend using these channels is productive, is a commercial imperative that all business owners must place at the top of their agendas. Efficiency within your market sector is now critical, as only those businesses that are agile enough will survive what looks set to continue to be an economically testing environment. Says Neil Lancaster, partner at Adams Moore Accountants in Tamworth, Staffordshire: ‘You really do have to discipline yourself to not keep looking at your Blackberry, smart phone or laptop. There was even once a time when people went on holiday for two weeks and no one could get hold of you!’ One of the main factors that have
MY TIP: TARGET AND MONITOR
driven the need for more efficiency with the communications your business uses is how customer service has evolved over the last few years. With the arrival of e-commerce, and with m-commerce about to become mainstream, consumers have come to expect rapid responses to their queries. Improving your own use of the communications channels within your business not only delivers better time management to your enterprise, but also improves its customer relationships as well.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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TELEPHONE MANNERS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
TH KEY TO EFFECTIVE THE COMMUNICATION IS CO TO KEEP IT SI SIMPLE AND CLEAR TO UN UNDERSTAND Time is money
‘The key to effective communication is to keep it simple and clear to understand in order to reinforce your business objectives and goals,’ advised Ty Kiisel, manager of social outreach at AtTask, which develops work management software. ‘Over-complicating communication (whether that is with customers or employees) is likely to lead to a misunderstanding of your business or product proposition, a risky approach given today’s economic background and competitive marketplace.’
Focusing efficiency efforts on your sales team can also be productive. ‘Within the sales environment, it is paramount that the sales executives are monitored and know that these facilities are in place,’ says John Pooley, joint CEO and founder of The Data Partnership. ‘This cuts back on unnecessary personal calls and allows you to see how the exec is performing overall. I change targets from a profit-based target to a volume of calls in order to keep sales people on their toes. ‘A joint target is a good idea with some form of reward – normally leaving early on a Friday or a trip to the pub. I find that if targets are not set for calling then sales people slip into a rut of communicating to their clients by email. This is most impersonal and is something I try to get all sales execs to avoid doing. It is very difficult to monitor emails over the course of the day. People can make themselves look very busy typing all day with very little productivity at the end of it. My tip: target and monitor.’ Of course inefficient telephone usage will have a knock on effect across the other communications channels your company uses. A recent One Poll revealed that the average office worker spends 21 minutes a day looking for information. This equates to two weeks every year! AtTask’s Ty Kiisel continued: ‘A significant part of a person’s work life consists of managing requests from peers, multiple bosses and small, unstructured projects that arise. This is not something that can be effectively managed by email alone. Generation-Y wants
collaborative work spaces, and access to the latest and fastest technologies, preferring tools and equipment where they can share, comment and collaborate as equals. The advantages of new tools and management methods are also beginning to be realised across the knowledge worker spectrum.’ Christine Knott, MD of training and field marketing firm, Beyond The Box concluded: ‘The chicken and egg situation becomes evident here as technology which can save time requires an investment in time to learn how to operate it and then practise using it. ‘The process of learning and practicing takes up the valuable time, which means more time is needed! Managers can address this by clearing a time in their diary to learn and practise the new skill. They need to accept that this period will add time to their working day and that if they cannot cope with working the extra time they may need to put plans in place that support them during this time. Short term pain, long term gain.’ Ultimately business owners should try and match the kind of communication they need to carry out with the appropriate channel. Think about the last long telephone conversation you had. Was this productive? Would it have been better to send an email, or set up a time for a teleconference? Often, a telephone call may be the most convenient method of communication, but it’s up to you to ensure it’s also the most efficient.
conTacTs: www.t-mobile.co.uk www.adamsmoore.com www.attask.com www.thedatapartnership.com www.beyongthebox.co.uk www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON STRATEGY TOP TIPS
MIND YOUR MANNERS James Campanini of Cisco WebEx looks at the way meeting
etiquette has evolved – and provides a series of useful tips to help get you thinking about your own behaviour in meetings
With external and internal meetings taking up a third of our working day and the increasing availability of collaboration technology, the way many of us conduct meetings has changed. Collaboration and communication has proved to be key for businesses and employees seeking a flexible working environment while maintaining efficiency. But, with a change in meeting style, comes an inevitable need to adapt meeting etiquette. The onus for adopting collaboration technology should not necessarily fall on the organisation. Increasingly, we are seeing individuals within businesses taking the initiative and purchasing their own licences and tools. By introducing elements such as video, live document sharing and virtual meetings, they are able to improve the quality and productivity of their own meetings and stand out from their peers. As improving efficiency is a priority for most, and travel restrictions and reduced budgets have become commonplace, virtual meetings are increasingly more frequent. Thanks to this growing trend, managers need to learn new skills in order to keep people engaged and to use the time and technology effectively – providing a platform to deliver productive meetings with tangible outcomes. With that in mind, have you considered whether or not your employees think attending meetings is a good use of their time? And are they conscious of adopting meeting etiquette across all meetings, whether face-to-face or otherwise? There are many ways to improve and maintain your meeting etiquette, which result in real benefits for both the company and employee.
01 03 Pay attention
Having your laptop in front of you in a meeting can be beneficial, but don’t let it distract you. Try not to check emails that aren’t related to the meeting, stay on task and concentrate on any possible actions that you might have to do. Likewise avoid being distracted by your phone, keeping it switched off for the duration of the meeting.
If you have documents to share or ,specific points to raise in the meeting make sure you’ve prepared them in advance. That way you won’t have to struggle to find the documents after the meeting, improving speed and efficiency. Ensuring that all unnecessary documents are closed on your laptop is essential to avoid embarrassment and confusion.
02 04 actively ParticiPate
Before entering any kind of meeting, try to make sure you have at least one point to contribute to the discussion. Contributing makes you look proactive, willing and interested in the subject, and bodes well for when people need to rely on you to deliver on actions.
Don’t take notes, recorD insteaD
While notes can be useful and help you to stay on task later on, they can be distracting and draw you away from the meeting. Try to use a recording function and only take notes of your own actions, then you can listen to your recording later at your own convenience. Alternatively, allocate one person to take notes and ask for the minutes to be sent after
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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TOP TIPS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
the meeting. This ensures maximum efficiency for the duration of the meeting.
impressions count, even when meeting over video.
05 07 Use mUte
If you’re on a conference call and you’re in busy surroundings such as an office, or even a public place, use mute to remove any background noise that could cause disruption to the meeting. Ensuring you are ready to speak when required is equally important, so be alert and prepared.
Being prompt applies to all meetings; video conferencing, teleconferencing or face-toface. Joining the meeting five minutes early won’t hurt anyone and shows you’re prepared, on task and efficient in the way you manage your work load, ensuring meetings are ready to start on time and so therefore avoiding time wasting.
06 08 Presentation is key
Whether you will be seen on webcam or face-to-face, consider the clothes you’re wearing, the way your hair looks and the way you act. Looking scruffy and dishevelled could make other participants think you’ve just woken up and are unprepared for the meeting. Never underestimate the power of presentation, first
Use viDeo aPProPriately
With flexible working now the norm, not all meetings are face-to-face and the great advantage of using video conferencing is that you can use it almost anywhere. Working at home is the preferred choice for many people these days; however calling with the washing machine purring in the background can be distracting
for others in the video conference. Make sure your surroundings are appropriate to avoid causing a different discussion than the intended subject of the meeting.
aDaPt meeting style
Adopting a style suitable to your meeting audience is important to manage and build relationships to ensure you achieve what is required from the meeting - whether it is with clients, suppliers, colleagues or otherwise. Manage your choice of meeting platform accordingly, leveraging the use of video conferencing where most suitable.
ensUre all meetings are necessary
Eliminating meetings that are unnecessary and
ensuring invitations are removed from calendars ensures maximum productivity without wasting time. Consistently questioning meetings to make sure they are critical to delivering your objectives and achieving targets is important in making the transition and reviewing those meetings which are no longer required – it is easy to get stuck into a pattern without stopping to think about the reason for conducting the meeting in the first place. To manage meeting etiquette across all sectors and areas of the business, a top down approach is required whereby such a programme is championed by decision makers. It’s important to ensure employees recognise the importance of such etiquette regardless of meeting location and style – being consistent, proactive and reliable will provide a solid ground for business productivity and efficiency whilst providing results for the individual.
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON STRATEGY TRADING OVERSEAS
EASTERN PROMISE 54
Making the decision to launch a business abroad can be tough. Faced with the prospect of a new market and uncertain financial climate, a move overseas can be confusing. Talk Business spoke exclusivity to someone in the know; Lalit Choudary, a young entrepreneur who is taking the Indian luxury market by storm
he luxury market in India has experienced extreme growth with figures set to increase at minimum rate of 25 per cent per year and expand three fold, solidifying India’s position as one of the world’s most illustrious destinations. With the market expected to reach an estimated £9.6bn by 2015, Choudary saw the opportunity to sell luxury cars and products across India back in 2006. A graduate of IIM Calcutta, he had previously worked as an investment banker in Hong Kong for eight years, before relocating to India in 2006 to establish an Indian operation for the bank. Choudary took advantage of the growth market and established Infinity
Cars in 2006 with a BMW dealership in Mumbai and subsequently Madhya Pradesh State. In late 2009, he initiated dialogue with Aston Martin with a view to bringing the brand to India. The British marquee’s sports car has since been successfully introduced to a discerning Indian audience. Here he discusses how to make a foreign market work for you:
What influenced your decision to relocate to India after eight years in investment banking overseas? I relocated to start Lehman Brothers’ banking operation in India. The fast growing economy at the time attracted me to relocate. I generally feel at home in India, and had complete trust in myself that the decision to move was right and the business would
succeed. Thankfully, my first instincts proved true.
What was the biggest business lesson you learned during this period? As an entrepreneur, I learned that you have to be comfortable doing any and every job required within the organisation. As the company objectives evolved, I found that I needed to become more flexible and adjust my job description to suit the changes as they occurred.
How do you feel your previous career as an investment banker contributed to your current success? My years in investment banking shaped me as an individual. They taught me to focus on the larger
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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TRADING OVERSEAS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
that have shown great entrepreneurial spirit in overcoming various challenges.
How did you come up with the idea for launching Infinity Cars Private Limited? Having spent many years living and working as an investment banker in Hong Kong, I was exposed to the proliferation of luxury products, and particularly cars in the city. It seemed obvious to me that luxury consumption was set to grow in India. With this in mind, I reached out to various companies, including BMW. During the course of this dialogue, I moved to Mumbai to start the Lehman Brothers offices. Once in India I was even keener to venture into the luxury car sector; we were fortunate to be awarded the franchise for BMW in South Mumbai, which resulted in us forming Infinity.
picture. To articulate organisational goals and ensure they are achieved. To attract the best talent, treat employees fairly and build a meritocracy. Also, it showed me the importance of following global best practices and how to manage the company’s finances in a fully compliant manner.
It sounds as if you were in the perfect role, yet you decided to go it alone. Have you always aspired to be a business owner and entrepreneur? Yes, my parents owned their own business when I was growing up, which gave me a great insight into what it takes to be an entrepreneur. That left an impression with me and prompted me to become one. I also draw inspiration from many successful businessmen in the country
BMW can’t be any easy partnership to win. After coming up with the idea, what was the next step? The next step, when launching, was that we had to build the business case for a dealership and then start locating the properties ideal to establish the franchise. Ultimately we had to convince the manufacturer that we would make a suitable partner.
When founding the company, what were the biggest issues you came across and how did you overcome them? Finding suitable real estate in the city was the most difficult task. Mumbai had very few retail spaces of
international standard. In the automotive business, finding the right retail and after-sales spaces in a rapidly evolving and urbanising city that remains extremely tight on the supply of suitable infrastructure is always a challenge. So ultimately, we had to take a cinema theatre and refit it to become a new benchmark for car retail space in India.
Why did you choose India as the location for your business? Firstly India is my home market and I was already in the country setting up the Lehman Brothers’ offices at the time. So choosing India as the ideal location for business seemed like the most natural thing to do. India was a fast growing economy and the opportunity to launch a luxury automobile business in Mumbai, India’s most high profile and competitive city, excited me.
How does doing business in India compare to in the UK?
India is a dynamic and rapidly evolving market. There are plenty of opportunities to set up a business. However, the market is extremely competitive and inefficient in respect to infrastructure, human resource, capital costs and taxation. In contrast I would imagine the UK to be fairly efficient but slow growing in conventional ‘The key To success is industries. persisTence, I suppose one being level would need a lot more headed when innovation to thrive in overcoming the UK. In India the obsTacles, market growth carries coupled wiTh the day and many paTience’ inefficiencies are glossed over as a result. www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON STRATEGY TRADING OVERSEAS
IT IS GREAT WHEN ENTREPRENEURS CAN USE THEIR NATURAL FLAIR FOR BUSINESS TO HELP AND GUIDE OTHER EXISTING STRUGGLING COMPANIES Do you believe the Indian business market is more ‘start-up friendly’ than the UK? With regards to India, the various regulatory approvals and filings can be a drag on any entrepreneur’s ambitions. Raising capital is difficult, as banks tend to lend only against asset collateral. Being in a developing market, there is a dearth of qualified manpower across roles. Lastly, the differences in taxation and laws across states can also be difficult to navigate.
Do you think you would have had the same success if you had launched in Britain? Yes and no. No, because the automobile mark et is very mature in the UK and opportunities available to a newcomer are limited. And yes, because the same level of entrepreneurial aggression would possibly have yielded better results in a more efficient marketplace with less obstacles to disrupt functioning.
How did your collaboration with Aston Martin come about? While we settled into the car business, it was increasingly apparent that there was a market for high end, luxury sports cars. Various brands were yet to enter India. That prompted us to reach out to them. Among them, we liked what we saw at Aston Martin the most. Likewise, Aston Martin had several applicants from India but saw merit in our candidature.
How do you stay ahead of your competition? We win customers by staying focused and giving the business a personal touch. We retain customers and get terrific word-of-mouth referral
business by ensuring quality aftersales support. To get all this is done, we ensure high employee satisfaction and low attrition levels.
Once you’ve had the idea and established a successful business, how do you progress it? What’s yur plan for sustaining growth? Our business has been blessed with a rapidly growing market environment. The challenge for us is to continue to manage the growth effectively, as we scale from a start-up to a small- to medium-sized business. We continue to look for additional brands to represent, while we invest in adding new locations to our current brand portfolio. Further, we try to create new revenue streams, such as insurance brokerage, related to our current business.
What do you believe is the main factor a start-up business should consider when first launching - and why? It is important for anyone, before launching a business, to look at the size and growth prospect of the market category in great detail. Also it is wise to have capital in the bank to see the business through any difficult phases and fund any contingency plans. All these factors will ensure a new business has the best chance to thrive and operate efficiently.
What is your top tip for a start-up business? While I think there is a great market opportunity for businesses to start up with innovative fresh ideas, I think there is also a similar opportunity for companies that can introduce new and efficient ways of running prevalent businesses.
It’s great when entrepreneurs can use their natural flair for business to help and guide other long existing, but struggling companies.
In your opinion, what is the key to success? The key for success is persistence, being level headed when overcoming obstacles coupled with the patience to pursue growth opportunities only when the business allows for it. It’s important to have absolute conviction in your business or the company that you work for.
Describe your business style in three words? Transparent. Empowering. Aggressive.
What is your favourite thing about launching a new business? Giving birth to an organisation and having the opportunity to build a business from the ground up, evolving with the company as it moves from being a start-up to a medium scale enterprise. It gives me great pleasure to take an idea and see it through to fruition, creating customers, employment opportunities and attractive returns on capital invested.
Where would you like to be in ten years, in terms of business? I want to continue to build up from our current platform, to become the largest and most profitable automotive dealer group in India. I find the future as an ambitious businessman exciting, not only for myself but for the organisation as a whole.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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LAW OF ATTRACTION NAME YOUR SELF LOOK PRETTY SHOUT OUT BRING IN THE BACON
Getting your business noticed is what most start-up companies struggle with. Turn on the TV and you will see adverts pouring with high street brands. For most SMEs this is a huge achievement but first we need to get the cart rolling, bring in revenue and squeeze your existence in the market. Identify yourself
the seriousness of your business.
This is where most start-up company individuals have the urge to pass the task of logo designing to their toddler niece. They might have a creative imagination but you need to remember your logo represents your business, your customers, values, products and services. Keeping this in mind, try and get a logo produced with the upmost creativity reflecting your business objective. While designing a logo you need something that will get noticed and stick in peoples mind, if not instantaneously but eventually.
Now it’s time to get your site designed, this is where your web designer comes in to play. Find sites you like and dislike and inform them. Allow them to render their creativity on the site. Let them come up with designs which you can tweak according to your likes and dislikes, but do not let them intimidate you to accept something you don’t like. It’s similar to when you go shopping for that extra special occasion; you won’t buy anything that’s less than perfect.
Step into the online world It’s important to get a domain name related to your business. These days you can pick up a .co.uk domain name for as little as £2.99. Get your own custom email address; email@example.com is most definitely more attractive than firstname.lastname@example.org. This portrays professionalism and highlights
Besides being attractive ensure your site is easily navigable; it will be very difficult for a viewer to get in touch with you, if your ‘contact us’ button is hidden behind some fancy animation. Consider how your site will represent your business.
Small fish, big pond Do you remember the paper directory, the
big fat yellow book that’s now used as your bedroom doorstopper? No one uses them anymore. Yes it’s important to be listed in directories but it is essential that you get yourself listed in search engines such as Google and Bing. Just think, what would you do if you wanted an accountant? You won’t be sifting through your Yellow Pages, that’s for sure.
Control your finances Taking control of your finances is top priority. Keep track of everything you’re spending. There are companies out there that can get you started with all the above services for as low as £300, but be sure everything is done professionally and it’s vital you capture second opinions. After all, all of these are just to make your business more attractive in the market.
www.altsplash.com 08448848818 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
FOCUS ON STRATEGY MEETINGS
THE BORED ROOM Meetings are an inevitable part of business culture. Often lamented as a waste of time and resources, meetings can, however, deliver tangible results if managed correctly says Dave Howell
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
MEETINGS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
For the smaller enterprise in ens of millions particular, ensuring that every meeting of meetings take is as productive as possible is vital. The place each day, meeting certainly has its place in but often these business culture, but it must be treated gatherings do as a tool that is designed to achieve set not produce any goals. It’s all too easy for unstructured tangible benefits. meetings to sap time and resources Research by that would be better spent developing Microsoft that your company. looked at the global workplace showed that on average, businesses hold about six hours of meeting each week. Within Meeting mania your organisation if a culture of endless For companies that have fallen into a meetings has taken hold, now is the culture of endless meetings, breaking time to look closely at how this time can this habit can be difficult. Generally the be rationalised. root cause has been a misunderstanding Erin Achilleas Walls, client services of what meetings are for and how to director, Ward Williams Chartered operate them effectively. Accountants commented: ‘There are Phil Anderson, a client director at various reasons that employees take Ashridge Business School advises: ‘It’s issue with meetings. In my experience all very well having an agenda, but if the main reasons are: meetings take you don’t follow it, then it’s worthless. time, the busier you are the more The chair or indeed other members of annoyed you get at being called into a the meeting group need to be clear meeting as it eats up valuable hours. about ground rules. One of them must Outcome: the meeting needs to have a be that they will follow the agenda. If, clear aim or outcome, as many people as often happens, one item goes over feel they attend meetings that achieve the expected time, then, the chair nothing. Relevance, as if called into a needs to consult with the group as to meeting that is not directly relevant the appropriate course of action. to you; the outcome has no Do they stop there and affect on you or your work continue next meeting? ‘WHEN SMALL – you question the point Do they extend the BUSINESS OWNERS of the meeting. And whole meeting and READ ABOUT previous experience push back other items TELECONFERENCING of meetings simply - thereby causing THEY MUST because if all the problems for those UNDERSTAND THAT meetings you have arriving later? Do they IT IS NOT JUST attended before were ask those responsible ABOUT VIDEO long, unstructured or for forthcoming items to CONFERENCING’ boring – then you expect reduce their time to allow that of all meetings.’ for the extension?’
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
FOCUS ON STRATEGY MEETINGS
In addition, Ben Hobby, general manager EMEA - BT Conferencing Video Business Unit said: ‘I am certain that everyone has left many meetings that they thought was a waste of time. There are two keys to a successful meeting – clear objectives or outcomes, and an agenda. If you have neither of these, then don’t attend. With both of these agreed at point of meeting initiation, you are at least starting for potential success. It then requires proficient management, during the meeting. Human discipline is at the heart of a successful meeting.’
Virtual meetings The use of video conferencing and its big brother, telepresence offer an opportunity for companies large and small to hold meetings with geographically dispersed sales teams for instance, and also avoid expensive national and international travel. Tim Duffy, CEO, MeetingZone, an independent conferencing and collaboration service provider commented: ‘There is a huge amount of hype around video conferencing and telepresence technology, both of which fall under the teleconferencing banner. When small business owners read about teleconferencing they must understand that it is not just about video conferencing. Integrated audio and web conferencing solutions are perfectly affordable for their business and deployment will enable them to reap the same benefits of conferencing and collaboration, as do larger enterprises. They must consider just how often they really need to see the people they are meeting with.’ Using teleconferencing technology has clear business benefits. Erin Achilleas Walls at Ward Williams Chartered Accountants outlined one
Cicso’s Telepresence systems are now available in a wide range of platforms to suit every need
case: ‘Neoco, a marketing agency in Piccadilly has a key member of their team that lives part of the week in Norway. They keep in contact using the telephone, Skype and other online communication tools (most of which are totally free). This is essential for business, keeps the cost down and allows the employee in question to spend time with his family. Prior to the advances in teleconferencing, this would have been impossible and the company would have been forced to make the employee make a tough decision - work or family.’
Future gatherings Various methods of improving the efficiency of meetings have been tried over the years. Meetings held standing up; meetings where minutes are taken by a designated person and photocopied at the end of the meeting to avoid yet more emails circulating across the company; and even meetings that have a fixed timeframe that is very short, allowing only a few topics to be discussed. BT’s Ben Hobby concluded: ‘Future meetings will continue to increase at a pace of adhoc-ness. As business models continue to evolve from traditional full time employed resources, toward at will expertise being applied to achieve results, people with the skills needed to get a job done will congregate via various forms of technology. The technology piece itself will become more ubiquitous as the consumer and business user demand
it. Unified communications is the key development that companies will witness over the coming months and years. The ability to see each other, share documents and work collaboratively anywhere in the world will revolutionise not only the meeting room, but the way businesses of all sizes operates generally.’ The meeting as a business process will remain part of your organisation as it gorws, but how meetings are managed and how they physically take place has changed out of all recognition. Face-to-face gatherings still have merit, but for many businesses, virtual meeting technology has delivered massive efficiency gains. Technology may have transformed how meetings now routinely take place with groups of people who could be on separate continents, but it is still critical to get the basics right: meetings should only be called when a clearly defined need has arisen; an agenda should be prepared; and the chair of the meeting must ensure that timekeeping is adhered to. Implementing these simple rules will ensure all of your future meetings are efficient and deliver concrete results to your business.
Ward Williams Chartered Accountants: www.wardwilliams.co.uk BT Conferencing Video Business Unit: www.btconferencing.co.uk Ashridge Business School: www.ashridge.org.uk MeetingZone: www.meetingzone.com
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
EVENTS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
THE FRANCHISE SHOW Itâ€™s the event that provides a platform for bigger and better start ups. Take a look at what to expect at this yearâ€™s Franchise Show
f you are planning to start your own business, you have to consider franchising. And there is no better place to start researching than at the Franchise Show, taking place at Excel, London from 24-25 February. The exhibition offers the chance to meet with experts from 120 franchise brands, covering a wide variety of sectors and experience, as well as being able to attend up to 100 seminars. The event will showcase a selection of brands new to the UK from countries including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Canada. A recent survey showed that 90 per cent of franchise businesses are
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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Retailing a fantastic range of high quality canvas pictures InsideOut operates in shopping centres, high streets and at exhibitions selling an eyecatching display of canvas images at up to 75% less than other high street retailers. Already proven successful with over 30 outlets already operating, InsideOut is looking to expand by offering a business opportunity to selected individuals. It’s a cash business, simple to run with a low investment, and high returns.
> no franchise fee > start-up from £5,000 > 30 outlets already operating > established 2003
InsideOut retail canvas pictures in four ways > pop-up shops > promotional spaces > shows > or you can operate with flexibility of all three To learn more and receive a brochure, contact David Hoskins, Mobile: 07802 777224 · Office: 01572 768064 or email email@example.com InsideOut · North Witham Road · South Witham · Grantham · NG33 5QQ
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EVENTS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
AS WITH ANY FRANCHISE, THE TRAINING PROVIDED IS INVALUABLE. YOU CAN BRING A STRONG CORE SET OF SKILLS BUT MOST FRANCHISEES DO NOT HAVE A BACKGROUND IN THIS TYPE OF WORK profitable and the failure rate is miniscule when compared to go-it-alone businesses. Subsequently banks like franchising, and will offer loans of up to 70 per cent for a franchise start up. Last year saw 8,000 visitors, but this year’s show is currently 300 per cent up on registrations and well on the way to 10,000-plus visitors. Yusuf Yusuf, of London House Services, discussed why he chose to expand, and why he opted for the Franchise Show to help him do so: ‘I
was looking for something extra to supplement my income and I had visited shows like Business Start Up. After doing all my research, I decided to go to The Franchise Show at Excel specifically to meet the team at London House, and thought perhaps that I may stumble across some other interesting opportunities whilst I was there. I had visited the show in previous years but I found it much more beneficial when I had done my research beforehand as you can
spend time with the top three on your list. ‘As with any franchise, the training provided is invaluable. You can bring a strong core set of skills but most franchisees do not have a background in this type of work.’ This year’s show has a fantastic line up of seminar speakers. Taking to the stage will be Robert Dick, managing director of Cirrus’ UK operations, who will discuss how to minimise your commercial property costs; Tony www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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V St isit an u d sa 53 t 1
Back in Motion offers the exciting opportunity of franchise ownership in a business combining the healthcare and leisure industries. Back in Motion is new to the UK marketplace and represents a profitable and rewarding business for anyone passionate about helping people to get the most out of life.
We combine Physiotherapy, Pilates and other companion therapies to ensure that our clients are able to see real lifestyle improvements through our proven ‘Results for Life’ model. Our services are available to people of all ages, and to those who have all sorts of expectations, from elite athletes to the pensioner who wants to be able to walk to the bus. Back in Motion is a trusted brand, operating a chain of branches in East Anglia and we believe that we are ideally placed to capitalise on the changes currently happening within Physiotherapy – both in the increasing
private marketplace and in the NHS. Having negotiated these changes ourselves, we are committed to ensuring that our franchise owners are fully equipped to make the most of the opportunities available. You don’t have to be a healthcare professional to build a successful Back in Motion business and our franchise offers you plenty of scope for working on building the business rather than working in it. We look forward to talking to you about your aspirations, and how a Back in Motion franchise could be the way to achieve them.
0845 474 1193 • www.backinmotionfranchising.co.uk • firstname.lastname@example.org
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EVENTS FOCUS ON STRATEGY
WHAT THE EXHIBITORS SAY ...
LOUISE WILKINS, WILKINS CHIMNEY SWEEP
‘We received a lot of targeted interest – people who had read the brochure in advance and headed towards us specifically. Our first two franchisees came from the show – they registered their interest at the show and are both on board and finalising their training.’
Goacher, franchise sales director for Driver Hire Nationwide speaks of what to expect from a good franchiser; and Nick Lyons, co-founder of No Letting Go, tells how to choose and build a lucrative home-based business. The Franchise Show has covered all areas, and will have a specific focus for more than 19,000 people who left the armed forces last year, many of who are looking to start their own business. Franchising is becoming an increasingly popular option among service leavers. The Royal British Legion will be exhibiting alongside Quest and Pathfinder, to provide guidance for ex-service personnel whose traits are known to be compatible with the business environment; leadership, self-discipline, willingness to work and tenacity. However, these tend not to be so well trained in spreadsheets, marketing and finance, which makes franchising such an attractive option to the modern service leader. With large amounts of ground to cover, we suggest heading down early to make the most of the exhibitor stands, workshops, conferences and seminars. Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to your favourite business magazine; we will be on Stand 526. See you all there!
RICHARD HOLDEN, LLOYDSTSB
‘I was delighted with the number and in particular, quality of visitors to the show. I presented at a several seminars, which were well attended by generally very well informed potential investors. Lloyds TSB Commercial has assisted a number of visitors at the show to invest in their chosen business opportunity and we are delighted to confirm our attendance at the 2012 show.’
JOHN WARREN, DRIVER HIRE
‘We recruited two franchisees from the Excel 2011 show and we were really pleased with the number and quality of visitors to the show.’
ROBERT DICK, CIRRUS TENANT LEASE SERVICES
‘The idea of us exhibiting is to have an opportunity to speak and meet with franchisors. I thought the show was good value for money and as a direct result of the show we have four more franchise companies promoting our services to their franchisees.’
FROM TAKING ORDERS TO BEING YOUR OWN BOSS, WE MAKE THE TRANSITION EASIER. Are you thinking about setting up your own business or have recently done so? Could you make use of £250 to research and test your business idea? Do you need funding of up to £30,000 and business start up support? WE CAN HELP! SHOULDER TO SHOULDER WITH ALL WHO SERVE. To find out more, visit www.civvystreet.org/betheboss or call us on 0800 678 5787 Registered Charity No: 219279
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON STRATEGY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
The Intellectual Property Office has supplied a collection of guidance and information on how understanding and protecting your ideas can grow your business – and the dangers of not setting things in place from the very beginning
ntellectual Property is a term that is often heard but not always understood. Widely speaking, Intellectual Property (IP) allows people and businesses to own and protect their ideas, whatever form they come in, and as a result, it is a vital investment for businesses wanting to maintain market share and grow their offering. Intellectual Property breaks down into four types: Patents protect the features and processes that make things work. This lets inventors profit from their inventions. A patent gives you the right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, and importing your invention without your permission. The existence of your patent may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit your invention. If it does not, it gives you the right to take legal action to stop them exploiting your invention and to claim damages. The patent also allows you to: sell the invention and all the IP rights
license the invention to someone else, but retain all the IP rights discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around it Trademarks are symbols that distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors. They can, for example, be in the form of words, brand names, logos or a combination of all. You can use your trademark as a marketing tool, so that customers can recognise your products or services. A trademark must be distinctive for the goods and services you provide. In other words it can be recognised as a sign that differentiates your goods or service as different from someone else’s. A registered trademark must be renewed every 10 years to keep it in force. Design is all about the way an object looks: its shape, its visual appeal...it’s all in the design. A registered design is a legal right, which protects the overall visual appearance of a product in the geographical area you register it. The visual features that form the design include such things as the lines, contours,
colours, shape, texture, materials and ornamentation of the product, which give it a unique appearance. Copyright protects many types of work, from music and lyrics to photographs and knitting patterns. Copyright can protect: literary works, including novels, instruction manuals, computer programmes, song lyrics, newspaper articles and some types of database dramatic works, including dance or mime musical works artistic works, including paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps and logos layouts or typographical arrangements used to publish a work – for a book for instance recordings of a work, including sound and film broadcasts of a work The majority of people, including business owners, think of IP as relating only to inventions and patents, and as a consequence, are unaware of the profit and protection that can come from registering trademarks, designs and respecting copyrights. There are also several myths surrounding IP protection; that it is expensive, takes years and acts
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FOCUS ON STRATEGY
IT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION TO STOP THEM EXPLOITING YOUR INVENTION AND TO CLAIM DAMAGES
and individuals to look after what is unique to their company; if they don’t, their competitors will, and will leave them behind in the process. There is huge scope for businesses and business owners to make the most of what they have created and own, in order to give themselves a competitive edge and become known for their ideas and creations.
What is it and where is it in your business?
only as a badge or certification of something you’ve produced. The reality is hugely different; protecting your creations is vital, and will protect you from anybody else claiming credit, or more importantly, profiting from your ideas and products. As for cost and time, many types of IP measures are very cost effective, and there are options for accelerating applications and achieving pending status even if the registration is not yet complete. The most important message about IP is that is an investment well worth whatever amount of money and time you choose to spend on it. Especially in today’s difficult economic climate, understanding and exploiting intellectual property should be a major priority in business, as it allows firms
Are you an inventor, business owner, entrepreneur or designer? Have you created a brand, business identity, invention or design? Do you want help and advice on how to protect these pieces of intellectual property? If so, you may want to read on and discover what action you need to take next: There are four main types of IP, which are managed at the Intellectual Property Office (part of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills). It is the official Government agency responsible for the administration of IP rights in the UK. These rights can be used to protect your businesses investment, and hopefully support the commercialisation of your intellectual assets, into a popular and profitable product or service.
What is intellectual property? In simplified terms it is: Any form of original creation that can be bought or sold - from music to machinery. Assets associated with intellectual creative effort or commercial reputation and good will. Creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.
Each of these can be legally protected using one of the four main types of Intellectual Property Rights - patents, trademarks, designs and copyright.
Where do I start with my IP? All businesses have some form of IP. The first step is knowing what your business has, and understanding its value, as well as how to protect it. The IP Office has a very handy – and free - way of helping businesses check their own IP status with the online IP Healthcheck tool. The quick and easy-to-use service identifies a company’s IP and suggests some next steps that are specific to its needs, based on the answers you give.
where To go For more aDvICe:
If you want more detailed information on one particular area of IP, visit the Intellectual Property Office website at www.ipo.gov.uk and discover how intellectual property can be simpler and cheaper than you may think. You will also find an event diary, detailing FREE events run by the IPO or events its staff will be attending, which you may want to visit to get some face-to-face advice from one of the experts. Alternatively, you can contact one of the IP advisors who can answer your questions. Call them on 0300 300 2000, or email them at email@example.com
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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love to create GLOBALFIRE PRODUCTIONS ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE
WHY VIDEO IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR COMPANY 68
There are a whole host of reasons we could tell you why your company needs to be using video on a regular basis, but there are 3 main things that stand out in the times we are in Revolution
Global and green
The first one would be obvious. It has to do with the technological revolution and the advancement of social media. You don’t need to be a genius to see that the way we communicate has changed radically in the last few years and this has had an effect on the way we do business. Smart phones are so commonplace now that YouTube has become the second largest search engine (Google’s first). When we want to search for a new product or find out about a brand, many of us will head straight to a video to find out what it looks like and what others are saying about it. Video is everywhere and accessible to the masses no matter where they may be. Video on the web is growing exponentially and with the advent of new mobile devices there has never been a better way to get your message directly to your audience.
These days we are encouraged and sometimes even forced to change our travel behaviour. This could slow your business down. However, today’s technology enables high quality visual communication that can make us more productive and more effective in how we do business. Efficient visual communication means less costly and timeconsuming travel and will reduce your carbon footprint. For example, a client of ours was to host an event with their international team. They wanted to fly in a team of 20 from various places around the world for a two day ‘all hands’ conference. The costs were in the tens of thousands. We suggested doing a video webcast for the main points, giving execs the chance to share with the opportunity for live feedback. We followed this with a series of videos explaining the vision for the year ahead and looking back to previous achievements. Feedback from this was fantastic and savings were substantial – which meant one happy customer.
Video connects with people on an emotional level The most important thing for any company is your brand. It has to be something people are talking about. If done well video has the power to move an audience, to excite and inspire them to buy a product or get behind your vision. Effective communication is power. You want to connect to your customers, whether internal or external, on a deeper level. We are often swamped with emails, memos and endless power point presentations: video enables you to communicate more efficiently, on a more personal level.
Video is literally changing the way we communicate. Please get in touch and our team would love to help you communicate in a new, exciting and innovative way.
To summarise …
Global Fire Productions Love to create.
We are a creative team of video producers, editors, designers, developers, communication specialists and writers specialising in interactive video applications.
Contact us to find out more. T: 0203 551 7878 T: 02392 299 069 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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SILK PURSE OR SOW’S EAR That’s the difference between good design and bad design. How can you tell when design is good or bad? EASY. Good design will differentiate, influence and deliver tangible results. Your brand identity represents one of the most effective ways of influencing the marketing perceptions of your organisation.
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One team, one vision: delivering what our customers want
If your identity truly reflects the organisational culture, then staff and potential customers will clearly see what your business stands for. Your identity is the means of managing perceptions and influencing purchasing behaviour. With over 25 years of experience designing and implementing brand identities, we will market position, differentiate you from your competitors and work with you to build a long term corporate asset. If you are planning to launch a new business, a product or a service, or need to increase demand for an existing one, we are in the business of turning marketing objectives into realisation with the strategic use of design.
“ White Design was initially engaged in 1999 to design and develop our corporate identity and we’ve been working together successfully ever since. They have a creative talent that seems always to be well attuned to our business requirements.” David Williams, Chief Executive Ability Housing Association
What you do is your business. Effective communications is ours. Call Malcolm White our Managing Director: 0845 658 9192 www.whitedesign.co.uk
MARKETING FOCUS ON STRATEGY
Margot Bloom, founder of Blooming Fabulous PR has some sound advice to share on ways to get the media spotlight on your company, and how to take advantage of it
MAKING MEDIA MOGULS
here are many interpretations of the word media, but in a nutshell it means to broadcast your message to a wider audience. From national press to blogs or talking to a group of people, it’s all media. Although there is a great amount of kudos to be had from being featured in the national press, in terms of footfall to your business, a humble blogger with a dedicated audience will probably do more good. Over the last few years, G PR has changed, the popularity N I C S ‘VOI PINION L of social networks has made it O CIA U entirely possible for YO RTHE SOWILL businesses to handle their OVERWORKSEPTH, NETE YOU D OSE own PR and bloggers are now GIV UT CHO IONS so much more than a handful B OPINY’ of conspiracy theorists, L YOUR WISE they are an invaluable source of information on any number of subjects and their readers are vital to most PR campaigns. www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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Come on in..... We believe that great design gets things done. Whether it’s increasing your sales, positioning your brand or simply raising awareness.
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FOCUS ON STRATEGY MARKETING
TREAT IT AS YOU WOULD ANY OF YOUR OTHER BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION It is worth saying that the online world in which we all now live and work is very distracting, and for those working alone from their home base it can be a double-edged sword. We may be at our desks (or the kitchen table) with the first cuppa of the day, able to connect to the world of business but distracted by online chatter until well past the time we should be working, and have had to spend the evening catching up? So my point is this; social networks are where itâ€™s at as far as DIY PR is concerned, but it does need to be structured. Treat it as you would any of your other business administration and not as an excuse to chat or, heaven forbid, as an afterthought.
Careless talk costs contracts When starting a new business it is essential to create a buzz and to quickly establish yourself as a credible expert in your field. You will do well to remember that, as a business owner everything you say in public and online, whether it relates to your business or not, is PR. People like to do business with people and establishing a relationship via social networks will give potential clients the confidence to do business with you. It also gives them the reassurance of direct access to you should something go wrong. Voicing your opinions over the social networks will give you depth but choose your opinions wisely! So letâ€™s start with the social networks; they are by far the fastest way to establish yourself and your business. Your profile should let people know immediately who you are and what you do. Use sites such as Tweet stork and Twiends to follow like-minded people, who in turn should follow you.
Know your limitations As well as searching for people within your field, also look for bloggers who may review your product or maybe allow you to www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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Sparky Media Productions Making video work for you
Engaging, entertaining, and dynamic, video is the most effective way to promote your business. Let us help you develop your video content to drive your business forward.
“Being in the business of document process transformation means it’s often a challenge to bring our messages to life visually. But Sparky’s creative expertise and technical skills have helped us to successfully share our core capabilities and partnership approach with our customers, potential customers, and employees across Europe.” Javier Diez-Aguirre, Director, Corporate Communications, Ricoh Europe PLC
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MARKETING FOCUS ON STRATEGY
SOCIAL NETWORKS ARE WHERE IT’S AT AS FAR AS DIY PR IS CONCERNED
coverage that you have received and current press releases – will bring its own benefits. Some press release sites will provide you with the HTML code to embed a press room into your website. And of course, if you are lucky enough to be featured in a national newspaper or magazine, make sure that you add ‘as seen in’ on your home page. write guest blogs for them. Writing articles and guest blogs with links back to your site is worth the time investment. If writing really isn’t something that you are comfortable with, there is no shame in asking a copywriter to help you as long as you provide a clear brief and add your own voice to the finished copy. When tweeting, use the hashtags relevant to your business, and also keep an eye on the #journorequest timeline as journalists will use it when looking for information. You can also use this hashtag to draw journalists’ attention to your news. In order for your social media to work effectively, it needs to be attached to a ‘shop front’, which will be your website. It is absolutely vital that your website is finished and working before you direct traffic to it. There is nothing more frustrating to a potential client than a page that says ‘under construction’. The same goes for ‘call us for more information’ – clients don’t want to call, they want to be able to see at a glance if your product or service is for them. Adding a price list is also useful for potential clients to prioritise their budgets. Using the themes that your website host provides is acceptable; most can be customised to your specifications and branding without too much time and effort. Adding a ‘press room’ to your site - a page where you can add links to articles that you have written, press
Impactful press releases Once you have your shop front and lines of communication sorted out, the next step is to cast your net a little wider in the form of a press release. A press release is not a way in which to directly sell your product or service (that is a job for your mailing list). Your press release must be newsworthy; are you providing products to help the community? Has your business just gone green? Is there a big news story that you are qualified to comment on? Does new Government legislation impact on your business? Etc etc … There are a number of online press release sites to choose from and they all have their merits. Some will charge while others are free to use. You may have to try a few to see which suits you best, but as with most things, you do get what you pay for. A good press release will run to about 400 words, the title should tell the reader what to expect and the first few lines of the text should convey your message and inspire the reader to continue. Research has shown that images and other multi media will increase your visibility by a significant amount, so make sure that you add them to your release. Although using the online press release sites is an easy option, you may want to direct your press releases to a more targeted audience and to do this you will either need to pay for the
service or set aside some time to build yourself a news mailing list. Research is key; if you send your news to the wrong journalist at a publication, they are unlikely to pass it on to the correct person. Make a list of publications that you want to target, include trade magazines, radio and TV editors. Once you have your list, it is a case of trawling through the websites to find the name of the best person to send your releases to, although in many cases you will need to make a call and ask for this information. Service providers such as Mail Chimp can provide you with a way in which to keep your mailing lists in order. Journalists receive a large number of emails every day, and as you can imagine, reading them all is very time consuming, so make sure that you keep all of the information in the body of the email as they are very unlikely to click on links, keep it relevant and target with care. If you would like a publication to review your product, in my experience, emailing to see if they would like to is a waste of time - just go ahead and send the product along with all the relevant information. PR is, for the most part trial and error and a case of throwing out relevant information to as many people as possible. Keep records of your site visits and sales figures against the type of PR that you are using, and it will soon become clear what is working for you and where to concentrate your efforts. It is also worth mentioning that the press is fickle, just because they have said no once, don’t stop sending your news to them. Next time, you may just catch them on a slow news day, or with a space to fill!
Margot Bloom www.bloomingfabulousmedia.com www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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Strategic Design Brand Identity Online Digital Print
From prestigious boutique lingerie retailers to start-up hairdressers, high quality event caterers to passionate expert growers of natural animal feeds... just a selection of businesses we have helped express their brand values through effective marketing and brand communications. Give us a call to talk about your business ideas and how we can help you develop and grow your business.
T: 01759 319471
80% of the start-up clients we had in 2004-05 are still clients today.
We work with you to make sure that the expression of your business best reflects what makes it
Great branding should combine consistency with clarity and personality. It must be
and distinct; itâ€™s about your customersâ€™
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05/01/2012 08/02/2012 15:51 12:03
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TRAINING FOCUS ON PEOPLE
TOP OF THE CLASS
The statement ‘most training doesn’t work’ sounds like a verbal own goal from the CEO of a training organisation. Shaun Thomson of Sandler Training tells us why he believes it’s true
same old, tired patterns and phrases hen you think being repeated. It becomes merely a of training in numbers game that is reinforced by its traditional business being won, despite what you form, a have said or done. The important thing one-day to remember is people love to buy but seminar or they hate to be sold to. So while you may workshop comes to mind. Trainees then be winning some business, you will also move on, go back to their day job, file be missing opportunities to sell more. away their professional development This is a good example of where folder and focus on their to-do list. We training can enable a business to adopt believe this is why training doesn’t work a completely new approach, a different for many companies. The short-term, way of doing things. Sales need to be checklist mentality is something we’re put back on to a platform where the constantly looking to redress. buyer and the seller treat each other Our experience shows that where as equals. This requires change on the businesses see sales and leadership salesperson’s part; this is difficult and training as a long term commitment, we tend to fall back on what we know. the results follow. Training works when Therefore, to create lasting change, we it is embraced as a process that need to do more than work on some genuinely addresses the behaviour different sales techniques. and attitudes of individuals, rather than Let’s explore how we can dig deeper, registering them on a sequence of disparate theoretical sessions. The only to understand the behaviours and attitudes that need change, and look way to do this is to commit to at evolving these to become more participatory and recurring training collaborative and customer focused and strategic business development rather than having a ‘quick win’ programmes. In this way, businesses mentality. But for this to happen, adopt changes that achieve sustainable businesses must have the ambition and measurable results. to embrace a new system underpinned Similarly, this approach needs to be by committed, ongoing training. cascaded down throughout a business, When it comes to effective so employees feel confident in training, an issue we come moving away from simply up against – especially ‘ticking a box’ in their ‘LET’S EXPLORE working in the SME training programme. HOW WE CAN DIG space – is the Let’s look at sales, DEEPER TO perception that specifically. As UNDERSTAND THE investment in training businesses go into BEHAVIOURS AND can be high risk; many another tough year, ATTITUDE THAT are held back by the sales teams will be NEEDS CHANGE ...’ threat of investing in an feeling the pressure to employee who then leaves deliver results. And yet, the organisation. But, the we consistently see the
question is, why settle for mediocrity? Can a business afford to? Businesses need to see the value in training. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, cluttered by products and services with confused messages, holding on to market share is challenging enough, let alone growing it. Up-skilling staff is therefore a necessity, not an option. At times like these, improving the skills set of a business’ most precious resource – its people – is directly linked to business growth. Besides the obvious benefit of a workforce better equipped to respond to the challenging environment – more creative, more innovative, more resultsled development opportunities are vital to overall employee satisfaction. Investment tells employees they are valued, appreciated and committed to for the long-term - a powerful message in today’s economic climate. What’s more, they know you believe in them and will respond to this with loyalty and commitment to your business. You are giving them the freedom to be the best they can be. As business owners and leaders, we must keep the bigger picture in mind. Take a step and look at the four pillars of your business; skills, structure, strategy and staff. Now understand the role – and potential - that training can deliver across these areas and how, by getting this right, you can be one step closer to business results you only dreamt of. With this in mind, you can’t afford for your training not to work.
CONTACTS: www.uk.sandler.com www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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FOCUS ON PEOPLE OUTSOURCING
FINGER ON THE PULSE 80
Outsourcing one or more functions can make all the difference between success and failure for a new business. The trick is in deciding which to hand over, and to whom
Words Nick Martindale
ne of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur is how quickly to develop their operation. Taking on new staff or developing in-house functions is an important step for small businesses, but doing so too early can divert attention from growing the business and incur overheads which could prove fatal. This is just one of the reasons why outsourcing might appeal to small business owners. ‘The flexibility that outsourcing delivers allows businesses to expand or contract their requirements to meet the business needs, and reduce the fixed element of the salary cost,’ says Bobby Lane, partner at business advisory group, Shelley Stock Hutter. There are other reasons why outsourcing might appeal. Siobhan Riley, head of outsource at Sage HR & Payroll,
suggests companies can become more efficient by focusing on their core functions, rather than having employees tied up in administrative processes. ‘Having a dedicated outsource provider can also increase the skillset of an organisation, by giving them access to experts who not only have an intimate understanding of their business processes, but who can navigate any legislative changes,’ she adds. There are though, potential downsides, which entrepreneurs will need to consider. Lane, for instance, admits there can be a perception of a lack of control and that outsourcing can appear expensive if broken down to an hourly rate and compared with the cost of taking on an employee. Chris Harland, director at Blackburn-based business advisory and accountancy group, Pierce, says most outsourcing relationships which fail tend to do so because they are not
being used in the right way. ‘Outsourcing is a delegation of a task to a third party, not an abrogation of duties,’ he explains. ‘The business owner still needs to take an active interest in controlling the quality and output of the process. They will only get out what they put in.’ Some aspects of a business are undoubtedly better suited to being kept in-house. Mike Robinson is director of Berkshire Consultancy, and both an advisor on, and user of outsourced services. His view is that anything central to the core function of the business should be retained, and the cumbersome processes or those requiring in-depth knowledge that does not need to be built up in the business, outsourced. ‘We buy in legal services, so if I’m negotiating a lease for a building I’ll buy in a lawyer,’ he says. ‘But people management is too central to our business, so it’s not something we
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
OUTSOURCING FOCUS ON PEOPLE
would consider outsourcing to an HR provider. It would be wrong from a cultural point of view to say the administration of our most important asset can go out to someone else; it just wouldn’t work.’
Making the right choice Other functions, though, are ripe for delegating outside the company’s four walls. Accounts are often the first area entrepreneurs consider, as these processes can be both time-consuming and time-sensitive, suggests Lucy Beck, UK sales director at accounts software firm Palette. ‘Allocating that responsibility to someone else can be a huge relief for any business,’ she says. ‘More importantly, dealing with company accounts requires an in-depth understanding of a highly regulated industry, where failing to comply can lead to serious consequences such as large fines and penalties.’
Within this area, payroll is an obvious category, suggests Tracy Ewen, managing director of commercial finance provider, IGF. ‘The payroll function of any small-tomedium-sized business – where the internal staff resource will tend to be limited in capacity, experience and financial expertise – is now also an option that almost any small business enterprise can consider outsourcing,’ she says. ‘Services that small firms might want to run alongside this could range from tailored invoice production and collection services through to invoice finance.’ IT is also an attractive candidate for outsourcing, particularly as it requires a degree of expertise many start-ups don’t have. The advent of the cloud, too, means businesses can avoid hefty capital investments in equipment while being able to scale up and down as required. ‘We estimate that over 80 per cent of small firms will move part, if not all, of their infrastructure and applications to
the cloud by 2015,’ says Jon Milward, director of managed and support services at IT consultancy, Northdoor. He warns, though, that this is one area where specialist advice is essential, as there are often extra costs around licensing, transition and connectivity, which aren’t immediately apparent. Stephen Bentley, chief executive of Granby Marketing Services, suggests outsourcing customer relations, including contact centre operations, as one way of enabling small firms to compete with larger rivals. ‘Having an experienced, flexible and scalable service means they can give the impression of being a much bigger and more professional organisation,’ he says. ‘All contact centre work from answering calls, emails and web enquiries to promotional customer acquisition can be achieved successfully.’ Marketing is another strong candidate, particularly when it comes www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
FOCUS ON PEOPLE OUTSOURCING
OUTSOURCING IS THE DELEGATION OF A TASK TO A THIRD PARTY, NOT AN ABROGATION OF DUTIES
to email and social media campaigns, where a degree of technical expertise is required as well as the creative thinking element. ‘To create effective online marketing campaigns takes time and resources; something in short supply for busy small business owners,’ says Annette Iafrate, UK managing director at Constant Contact. ‘Outsourcing the heavy lifting, including the technical side, can be a great way to ensure companies stay front of mind with customers through engaging and effective online marketing campaigns.’
Do your research Entrepreneurs, though, need to do their homework before committing to any outsourcing arrangement. Ewen at IGF says setting a clear objective is essential. ‘If a company is thinking of outsourcing, it needs to decide where it wants its business to go before handing over the function to someone else to run,’ she says. ‘Firms should try not to outsource problems as it usually leads to disappointment. If the strategy is to tidy up a problematic payroll function and then bring it back in-house a few months later once it’s sorted out, then it is likely to be a painful process that will not benefit the business.’ Finding the right partner is also critical, particularly in ensuring there’s a good cultural fit. Robinson says his approach is to agree criteria internally and to assess submissions against them. These include the level of chemistry that exists in the relationship and the degree of flexibility a provider can offer, as well as more conventional measures such as price. ‘It’s about them getting their heads around our business and how they need to fit into it,’ he says. ‘We’re a management consultancy so we spend a lot of time out of the office, so we don’t want an
organisation looking after our IT that is going to want a director’s signature every time something goes wrong.’ The contract is also a potentially tricky area, as entrepreneurs and their partners need to find the right balance between specifying what is required and being overly-prescriptive. The use of key performance indicators and service level agreements can give structure to the relationship and will be a useful point of reference should disagreements arise. ‘Service level agreements ensure that firms don’t just get the level of collaboration that they want, but the level that they need,’ says Riley at Sage HR & Payroll. ‘They provide the benchmark from which the relationship can be evaluated. But businesses are also recognising the value of having a dedicated account manager, with an intimate grasp of their particular business processes.’ Agreeing the most appropriate payment structure is also important, although this is likely to vary according to exactly what is being outsourced. ‘In our experience the best contract is retainerbased,’ says Lane. ‘Paying a retainer is like paying a salary, as you would to a member of your team. Even when outsourcing specific roles, each person working for you, be they an employee or not, should be considered part of the team. It is only with this mentality that the relationship will truly succeed.’
A BALANCED APPROACH TO OUTSOURCING
John Sollars, founder of printer ink company, Stinkyink.com, has never been afraid to outsource certain elements of the firm’s operations. ‘Since day one I’ve always outsourced payroll,’ he says. ‘The effort of keeping up-todate with the latest diktats from the Government is too much, and it also means that when HMRC wants to inspect our books, we can point them to our payroll provider.’ As well as this, he regularly makes use of marketing and HR consultants, and also draws on the services of an external PR agency. One area he is reluctant to let go, though, is the company’s accounts. ‘I feel passionately that every business should control its own financial information,’ he says. ‘The first person I employed was my bookkeeper. I now have a financial director who can present a trustworthy profit-andloss report within 10 days of the end of the month, which is worth its weight in gold to me.’ Sollars advises companies to choose an agency or consultant that is geared towards working for their particular size firm. ‘A big agency is more likely to side line a start-up or microbusiness in favour of clients with bigger budgets and more clout,’ he warns.
CONTACTS: www.shelleystockhutter.com www.sage.co.uk www.pierce.co.uk www.berkshire.co.uk www.palette.co.uk www.igmarkets.co.uk www.northdoor.co.uk www.granbymarketing.com
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY COMMUNICATIONS
IT’S FOR YOU Buying a communications system that the company outgrows in the first year or two can be a costly mistake. So do you stay mobile or invest in a fixed system?
‘Upfront investments and long term commitments are particularly painful in the start-up phase, so business owners need to hunt for a flexible solution with a low upfront cost when it comes to setting up (and later expanding) mobile communications,’ says Martin Stiven, VP for business at T-Mobile. He goes on to suggest signing up for a short-term phone plan, such as six months, or even SIM-only, as being ideal for start-ups as it is flexible and allows them to adapt quickly to the economic climate and the success of their business. ‘They are not locked in to a long term plan and can update the next plan according to how the business has developed, potentially adding on short-term users for temporary employees as well. With costs being front-of-mind – and often limited – a free phone is also very appealing to small businesses.’ Vodafone’s OneNet Express brings together a business’s landline and mobile communications, allowing its customers to reach the person they want first time on one number, regardless of location, and employees only have to pick up messages from one voicemail box, which they can do from any device. Increasingly this will be a smartphone, enabling access to email and work resources as easily on the move as from the office.
What are the benefits? OneNet allows a business to outsource its entire communications infrastructure, so they do not have to invest in and manage hardware. A unified communications system can
make a small team more effective and enable it to react more quickly to customer or new business calls. This ability to react quickly is a key advantage when you consider how critical responsiveness is to business success. Research conducted in the UK last year showed that not responding to one new business enquiry could cost a company an average of £30,000 in lost revenue. Worrying when you consider that a third of business people surveyed expected a response from a potential supplier within the hour. If signal strength is an issue, Vodafone Sure Signal is a clever device, which boosts a 3G signal for the home or small office. Working through a broadband connection, it can be invaluable in rural locations, basement offices and other mobile black spots. Sure Signal is an example of how groundbreaking technology is being used by providers to improve mobile telecommunications.
Mobile not necessary? If you’re looking for a fixed solution, Toshiba’s Strata CIX40 is a flexible and feature-rich system that allows the user to improve efficiency and project a professional corporate image. Built-in scalability allows for growth while features and functionality can be updated as needs change. A full range of applications includes built-in uniform call distribution and traffic reporting, messaging solutions, call recording, interactive voice response,
computer telephony integration and networking Whether you decide on mobile, static or a combination, director of siptel, Steve Rasmussen, suggests getting professional help to find the right solution: ‘It’s difficult to find a one-size-fits-all system, and there are a number of solutions available in the marketplace that allow a level of flexibility and room for a company to grow,’ he says. ‘Although as a very small business with perhaps only a couple of employees, you won’t want to look at a big initial capital outlay on telecoms as cash is always tight to a start-up firm. ‘It’s best to talk to a solutions provider with a range of customers across different industries and sizes so you know they have experience across the board. Ultimately a business will be looking for a solution that lowers the cost of ownership, is simple to manage whilst enhances staff productivity and differentiates customer service. ‘At siptel, we consult with companies to understand what solutions best fit their requirements, discussing with them what their mid- and long-term goals are, so we know what will work best for them now and, say in three to five years’ time. For example, one technology we offer that’s ideal for mid-sized enterprises and suits a number of our clients who have grown in recent years is the Avaya Aura Solution. This helps businesses rapidly deploy and integrate communications media, including voice, video, messaging and social networking.’
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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COMMUNICATIONS FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY
case stUdy ToShibA
llwynbedw & Cathedral View Medical Centre is a partnership of four GPs in Wales. The practice team is spread across two sites, which allows the medical staff to provide services to more patients in the local community. The two centres work closely together and increasingly share resources, with all staff working at both locations to cover illness or shortages. It became increasingly important to be able to communicate effectively between sites to ensure staff gave their patients a seamless experience. The medical centre was recommended two Toshiba Strata CIX systems, one CIX40 and one CIX100, as well as a range of digital feature phones. The system offered a hybrid solution; an IP link running over the business broadband network providing free inter-site calls, with external calls made over the traditional line. The centres use an ISDN line to enable them to transfer calls directly between the two CIX systems for back-up purposes. The ability to add further services in the future, as needs change, means the system will continue to support the centres in years to come.
case stUdy Foehn
Ah!Media needed a system that was scalable, improved its customer service and maintained its level of connectivity, but wouldn’t break the bank. The company wanted to easily manage any increases in staff or office spaces, without the stress of adding extra lines. Foehn introduced the company to hosted telephony. By removing PBX maintenance costs and lowering call charges with hosted telephony systems based on IP, businesses can enjoy a lower cost of ownership, security and flexibility to grow. Hosted telephony has given Ah!Medi a system that is sophisticated and can grow with it, resulting in a 10 per cent increase in sales through the ability to monitor and train staff from call recording.
case stUdy VodAFone
FitMama, a pregnancy, exercise and education specialist in the south of England has, in the last two years, hired its first employee, but the business is punching well above its weight. Founder, Marie Behenna used to return to the office between training sessions and classes, which take place in a variety of locations, to deal with email enquiries and voicemail messages, or manage the company’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. This tied up a large amount of time in administration. OneNet Express helped consolidate FitMama’s communications. In addition to saving an estimated 50 per cent on call costs, Behenna can now deal with emails, landline calls and social media on the move. Not only has this helped free up her time to focus on the business, it has also enabled her to deal with enquiries and other communications more quickly and effectively – much like a larger business would. The company’s professional, customer-centric approach has also led to other business opportunities, such as a training programme for new instructors and prospective publishing projects.
‘We didn’t need to pay up front for 100-150 extensions we didn’t need. It allowed us to start small and scale up as we needed. And as it’s all hosted offsite, we didn’t have to worry about hardware costs either,’ said Fahran Ahmed of Ah!Media. ‘Traditionally, we’ve seen slower uptake on the telephony front as it’s not the first business service that springs to mind when considering moving over to the cloud. But that’s quickly changing. It simply doesn’t make sense for small businesses to have to invest the upfront capital and on-going maintenance in a central on-site telephone system. Now we can give them an alternative by ending the guesstimate of future telephone needs and capacity,’ explains James Passingham, MD of Foehn.
case stUdy T-Mobile
Splats entertainment organises circus, play and magic days across the UK. The company has grown into a mobile workforce of 15 and the directors, Mike Redwood and Stephen Richards are always on the move, barely seeing each other face-to-face. The company works with a variety of freelance staff and by having BlackBerry smart phones, Redwood and Richards can set up, rearrange or cancel events in minutes. ‘I am always on the phone with my business partner and fortunately, by being on a tailored T-Mobile plan, we can call each other free of charge,’ explained Redwood. ‘By working on the go, we have no need for permanent office staff to take messages, and extra office space with all its equipment. This is saving us in the area of £80,000 and that is a lot for a company of our size. With his business partner always on the move, most communication takes place over the phone. ‘We have a tailored T-Mobile plan with reliable access to email and the Internet, so searching for a venue when we’re lost or confirming last minute details over email is not a problem for us.’ Being a company that gets most of its business through word of mouth recommendations, the business relies on being able to deliver the highest quality of service, which means being responsive and available at all times. ‘People expect a rapid response when they make their enquiries. If we can answer them straight away, we usually make the sale. This gives us a real edge over the competition,’ says Redwood. ‘We switch off for Christmas Day, but that’s about it.’
T-Mobile www.t-mobile.co.uk/business Vodafone www.vodafone.co.uk Toshiba www.telecomes.toshiba.co.uk Siptel www.siptel.co.uk Amdocs www.amdocs.com Foehn www.foehn.co.uk www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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ProcessFlows ProcessFlows Outsourcing Outsourcing Services Services
The Low Cost, Low Risk way to Expand Your Business ProcessFlows will help you reach your strategic goals by providing a low-cost, low-risk outsourcing capability for your organisation. We will help transform your business in a seamless and cost-effective way by providing the resources you need, when you need them, without the commitment and risk associated with hiring new staff or expanding your existing facilities. Outsourcing will enable you to expand your business simply and reliably, in any area where you need additional resource; Administration, IT, Finance or even Sales & Marketing. Our outsourcing services are flexible and scalable. You decide for how long you want to use each service. Costs are fixed and payment plans flexible. There is no minimum to the number of staff you can engage through us. No organisation is too small to take advantage of outsourcing.
Why outsource with ProcessFlows? � Low cost, low risk way to employ additional resource - without the normal employment constraints � Experiment with new ideas, without the up-front investment - your business will be more flexible and able to alter direction swiftly to meet changing business trends � 'Switch-on, switch-off' - flexible resources when you need them � Enhance your services with round-the-clock, multi-lingual staff, providing your organisation with that all important competitive edge � Manage your resource directly, or pass over processes to us and just monitor results � Focus on core business activities, rather than administrative processes, to maximise your operational efficiency � Improve business controls with tighter fiscal resource management Please visit our website www.outsourcing-processflows.co.uk for more information. Alternatively you can call us on 01962 835053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with us and find out how we can help you business to grow.
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ITIL Training Zone Case Study Partnering with Managed Services provider ProcessFlows, to supply remote administrative resource to support online IT Service Management students, has enabled ITIL Training Zone to sustain rapid growth and maintain profitability.
Over 10,000 online student 'customers' ITIL Training Zone has grown fast since its incorporation in 2007 and is already recognised as an online training specialist for the globally recognised ITIL IT service management qualifications, with over 10,000 students, some as far afield as the US and Australia, currently studying online. "There are no limits with an online business like ours, as long as you have the resource to meet growth demands" comments Claire Agutter, MD and joint founder of ITIL Training Zone. A successful business needs good quality staff to underpin growth. As more people signed up to their courses, the amount of communications with students, ramped up substantially. Quick growth is generally a good thing, but the Company is very aware that too much growth, too soon, can be detrimental to the overall health of any business. A high level of customer service is paramount in order that ITIL Training Zone can continue to deliver the consistent and positive study experience that students have come to rely on. Their success is based on this, so they needed more people to help deal with the increasing workload. It was a dilemma. Additional permanent staff would be great, but it is an obligation and funding them would be costly and not without risk. A move to larger premises in due course, to accommodate them was also a possibility, which would incur further costs.
The best use of resource The other option was to use someone else's resource. The decision was made that an outsourced, pay-as-you-go administrative services contract, with fixed costs and tight Service Level Agreements (SLAs) would deliver the consistent and high level of customer service required. It would also be affordable and risk free.
A strategic business partner An outsourced business model gives small companies and start-ups access to the same skills, resources, 24hr operations and business processes and services as their larger competitors, at a fraction of the cost of setting up in-house. The Company is confident that the tailor-made administrative outsourcing package that ProcessFlows is providing will enable ITIL Training Zone to continue to grow their business exponentially, with the minimum of investment. "I view our relationship with ProcessFlows as a partnership, rather than a client/supplier association. ProcessFlows took time to understand our business needs, budget and future plans, before coming up with a proposal that met our exact requirements and SLAs." ProcessFlows' outsourcing model for ITIL Training Zone provides an administrative resource, that takes full responsibility for all ITIL Training Zone's customer email exchanges - course enquiries, student communications etc. The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) team process emails as 'virtual employees' of ITIL Training Zone.
Scalable BPO services are totally scalable. As business grows (or retracts), monthly spend can be adjusted to fit the changed level of business. "I have been so impressed by the quality of staff ProcessFlows assigned to our project" said Claire. "The time taken to train and educate them about our business has been well invested. They go the extra mile for us without even being asked. They are proactive, coming up with new ideas, advising our students and following up to check that a problem has been resolved, or they have received information sent." Claire is already planning to outsource some of her marketing activities to the ProcessFlows Bulgarian team. Get in touch with us and find out how we can help your business grow. Tel: 01962 835053 or email email@example.com
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OPINION FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY
MONEY FOR NOTHING
Neil Poulton, managing director of IT solutions provider, Conceptia asks whether using open source software can help your business?
pen source software (OSS), like cloud CONCEPTIA computing, is LIMITED a buzz phrase Conceptia has been that has slowly delivering innovative drifted into the IT solutions since conscious of 2002, and offers business owners over the past couple of unrivalled industry years. Like most of these terms, however, knowledge, there is often little understanding of what underpinned by OSS is, and the benefits it can bring to a strong range of your organisation. interrelated products Most business owners recognise which enables them to that using the right software will help deliver full IT computing run their organisation more effectively and telecommunications and efficiently. Particularly as most solutions. SMEs are unable to buy in-house IT expertise – using the most suitable software from the outset will save OSS is also flexible because it allows valuable time, resources and money. users to make changes to the code, so Put simply, the main benefits of OSS it can be made to evolve in line with are flexibility and cost effectiveness – user requirements. This also means two vital components to either a start that things like add-ons and version up or established SME. Ready-to-use versions of many open source packages updates are available free of charge. We also find that for the most part, are available as downloads – our clients who have switched to OSS, completely free. What’s more, unlike find it more secure, reliable, faster and proprietary software, where you must easier to use. There is a certain pay for user licenses, OSS allows amount of ‘getting used to it’ when multi-user access without any cost initially adopted, but we have found this whatsoever. This allows businesses learning curve to be a small drawback to upscale and downscale according when set against the benefits OSS to their needs. provides. Our clients are huge So how do the publishers make advocates of OSS, and we’d money? It’s simple. They certainly recommend charge support fees to big talking to some fellow businesses and other ‘LIKE THE UK business people that large organisations GOVERNMENT, are using it to get an with highly technical WE BELIEVE THAT understanding of the requirements – such OSS HAS A LEADING ROLE TO PLAY IN day-to-day as NASA, Toyota and DELIVERING THE IT practicalities. the London Stock NEEDS OF Perhaps the most Exchange. Therefore, BUSINESSES ...’ encouraging signal to the rest of us get to date that OSS has become enjoy their high quality a mainstream alternative to software for free.
expensive proprietary software, is the Cabinet Office publishing an open source procurement tool kit in an effort to increase its adoption in the public sector. The tool kit contains information on procuring open source software as well as a guide to vendors and the sort of costs that are likely to be associated with adopting the open source route. The tool kit, which is available on the Government website, contains information about OSS, including FAQs, OSS options, CESG guidance on open source and total cost of ownership. Like the UK Government, we believe that OSS has a leading role to play in delivering the IT needs of businesses and other organisations. If you use an outsourced IT supplier, they should be able to run you through the benefits as outlined above in more detail and provide a rough cost comparison versus the traditional option.
T: 01245 330123 W: www.serversandnetworks.co.uk www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY GADGETS
The Consumer Electronics Show is a feast of all things tech, and this year’s edition was no exception. We’ve picked some of this year’s best launches, guaranteed to make any tech-savvy businessman weak at the knees SONY XPERIA S
Sony has only recently entered the smart phone market, having bought Ericsson’s share of Sony Ericsson in early 2012. If the Xperia S is anything to go by, it will offer serious competition to Apple and HTC, the current market leaders. The handset is beautifully designed, resembling the iPhone 4, and comes with Sony’s Bravia screen technology already loaded. It also boats a 12-megapixel camera and 1080p HD video recording capability, which all runs on a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm dual-core processor.
DELL XPS 13:
Throwing its hat into the ultrabook ring, Dell unveiled its first offering at CES to much fanfare. The XPS 13 is predictably slim at 18mm, and weighs 1.4kg, housing a 13.3inch screen. The edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass gives it the durability required to withstand a life on the road, while the Intel Rapid Start Technology ensures quick boot up times. The Dell XPS 13 hits shelves in March at £899.
MOBEE MAGIC FEET
Anyone who uses the wireless Mac peripherals will attest to how annoying frequent battery charging is, especially if it’s during the middle of the working day. Help though, is at hand in the shape of the Magic Feet from Mobee Technologies, an inductive charging station that wirelessly powers your Mac keyboard and mouse, together or individually. Handily, one six-hour charge will last ten days, meaning you can cancel the job lot of batteries. The gadget is out now, priced at £123.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
GADGETS FOCUS ON TECHNOLOGY
Samsung’s latest desktop resembles the Apple Mac Mini, ‘though whether it performs as well remains to be seen – tech specs have yet to be confirmed. It is known, however that the device will use the Google Chrome OS operating system, and will come with a wireless mouse and keyboard, and five USB ports – ample room for attachments and the like. A UK release date hasn’t been confirmed either, ‘though rumours suggest that it will sell for upwards of £220 when it becomes available. Well worth a punt, if only for the sleek design.
Huawei isn’t a household name in the UK, though fans of slim phones may want to familiarise themselves with the brand – it’s just wrestled the ‘world’s slimmest phone’ crown from Motorola. The Ascend is the mobile equivalent of a size zero, measuring just 6.69mm wide. It is of course far more than just a tiny handset, running on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and boasting a Super AMOLED touchscreen display. Nothing has been confirmed price-wise, though it is slated for an autumn release.
ASUS MEMO 370T
It seems that every new device that is launched is billed as a ‘market-leader killer’, and the Asus Memo is no exception. It’s touted as a major rival to the Amazon Kindle Fire, though comparisons are somewhat unfair, given that this 7-inch tablet is a perfectly worthy product in its own right. Running on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the 370T hosts an impressive 1280 x 800 resolution display, and packs the same NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. It also has front and back cameras, a hefty 1GB of RAM and Android Market and Google support. Price and release date are tbc.
Whether or not Sony’s latest gadget will catch on is open to debate, though credit where credit is due, it’s quite a clever device. The watch connects with Android smart phones, displaying texts and tweets, while also doubling up as media player, facilitating the streaming of music from your handset to your earphones. You’ll also be able to customise your Smartwatch through a range of apps. Expected to hit shelves imminently, priced at £100.
www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk February 2012
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Tech IT Solutions: Company Name Here Our aim Tarioisin tocon provide re restem small cuptat and medium enlhimus businesses aboris illat. throughout Arum quae Cornwall estrum destiam and Devon illitiure with acoreped single point itatin of corum contactidformagnis all IT destiamservices. related illitiure Tech coreped IT Solutions itatin corum offerid a range magnis of estem auria solutions from eperferum technical support ent moditesed to management quias ipsumqu untiam outsourcing and now di temporit cloud service face stiuhhggmqu. provisioning. T: 0845 00000680 000000 4023 E: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com W: www.techitsolutions.co.uk www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
FEATURE FINANCIAL ADVICE
THE DAILY GRIND
Stuart Hardy asks a well known entrepreneur twenty questions about his work, inspiration, life and a few other things of no particular importance. This month, Paul Morris, MD of Addmaster, supplier of additive technology, takes the hot seat Where in the world are you right now? In my office, in Stafford.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Life and the opportunities it presents. I get a real kick out of trying things no one else has done before. Fear of failure is usually the only reason people don’t try things, so my philosophy is that if you’re not scared of failure, then there’s never anything to be afraid of. In a literal sense, I’ve never had a problem getting up in the morning; I find it’s the best time of day. I’m much more alert in the mornings and try to hold any creative meetings as early as possible in the day.
What do cereal (sic) entrepreneurs have for breakfast?
My usual is two poached eggs, from my own chickens (we hatch our own hens every year) on brown toast and a cup of tea.
Who or what inspires you the most? My family is the source of all my energy. Everything I do is for and because of them.
Gordon Gekko famously said that ‘lunch is for wimps’. Do you do lunch?
I’d rather say only stupid people skip lunch. A good entrepreneur should know that not eating disrupts your brainpower and decision-making skills. I tend to graze all day from breakfast and often start my lunchtime sandwiches, much to my staff’s amusement, at 9.30am. The traditional
ABOUT THE COMPANY:
lunch hour now seems to have disappeared from business life. I have twenty minutes, which I spend reading business magazines, such as Talk Business (loved the recent John Griffin story) or watching a TED presentation on line.
Choosing to do something I enjoy so I can throw myself into it.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, and from whom?
So, you’re an entrepreneur? Why don’t you go out and get a proper job?
I’ve been lucky to meet the two of the UK’s top entrepreneurs, Phillip Green who said ‘go to bed late and get up early’, and Richard Branson who said ‘never, ever do it for the money, do it because you believe in it and the money will come’. But the best advice I have in business was from my Dad, who used to buy and sell bikes to be able to afford Christmas presents. My job was to look sad when he was selling the bike, a ploy to make the customer think it was my bike we were selling, so they wouldn’t haggle. I remember asking how we could buy the same object at a low price and sell it at a higher price and he told me: ‘Because we are the happy men! We make those selling to us happy or they wouldn’t sell, and we make those buying happy, or they wouldn’t buy.’ It’s a great tip and one I’ve used throughout my career to remind me to value my suppliers as much as our customers.
and the worst?
Believing the words ‘trust me.’ I’ve learnt the hard way to make sure you get everything written down and agreed - no matter how much you know and trust someone.
Addmaster provides additive masterbatches, compounds, and liquid or powder dispersions for any application, including the Biomaster range of silver-based antimicrobial technologies. The Biomaster brand is incorporated into many products worldwide, in markets such as healthcare, medical, domestic appliances, paints & coatings, bathroom accessories and catering equipment. www.addmaster.co.uk
What has been your most effective business tactic?
I’d like to see the advert for my job. It would read something like: ‘Get up as early as you can, work as hard as you can with no fixed hours then pay everyone else, including tax and you can have whatever’s left over.’ But seriously I love what I do. Whatever proper job you are doing, make sure you enjoy it!
If you could have your time again what would you do differently?
I’d be braver when I was younger in making key decisions. My bravery only came in my mid twenties when I realised that only you can control the direction of your life.
How many entrepreneurs does it take to change a light bulb?
We only change the bulb if we think someone will buy the old one from us.
What would you say is your most important skill?
Being able to see around corners when making a decision. People tend to focus too much on business plans, only thinking about what happens if they do X. An entrepreneur is able to see what happens after you do X and what Z looks like too.
Do you have anything to declare?
Some businessmen live to work and neglect home life, but my family is my first priority, and that makes me stronger, not weaker. I do have a real fascination for business and how it works, I’m very proud of being an entrepreneur and not embarrassed about declaring my love for the corporate world.
February 2012 www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk
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February's issue of Talk Busines Magazine