W W W . T A L K B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . C O . U K
TALK BUSINESS JANUARY 2013
FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR JANUARY 2013 ÂŁ4.50
BY THE ENTREPRENEUR
Planning for payroll changes
New year, new rules: get prepared for the latest business policies
In thebag Julie Deane on the meteoric rise of The Cambridge Satchel Company ISSUE 16
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PLAYING MUSIC? MAKE SURE YOUâ€™RE LICENSED.
Music creates a better working atmosphere 77% of businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and creates a better working environment.* If you play music in your business, it is a legal requirement to obtain the correct music licences. In most instances, a licence is required from both PPL and PRS for Music. PPL and PRS for Music are two separate companies. PPL collects and distributes money for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers. PRS for Music collects
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9 Editor’s letter 11 Letters 13 New Year’s resolutions 14 News & events
Focus on success 17 Face on the cover The Cambridge Satchel Company founder, Julie Deane 22 Take one company Hyper Recruitment Solutions, Apprentice winner Ricky Martin’s new venture
74 The face-to-face book Real word-of-mouth vs social media 77 Trust me, I’m an expert Thought leadership
Focus on people
25 Introducing… TB grills an up-and-comer
81 The people column Lee McQueen
26 12 steps to success Carly Ward shows us step 7
83 Keep your friends close Staff retention
29 The interview Wayne Hemingway MBE on UK startups
89 The staff appraisal Performance reviews
33 Book reviews
93 New year, new rules Employment law changes for 2013
34 The big business reads of 2012 Our top books from the past year
94 Secret diary of an entrepreneur Launch week of Oscar & Hooch
130 He said/she said What are our entrepreneurs saying this month?
Focus on money
71 Online minefield Internet advertising
36 Finger on the pulse Financial gamechangers for 2013 39 RTI: are you ready? Our RTI special on the coming payroll changes
Focus on technology 97 Our man in the valley David Richards’ tech column 99 Where’s IT all going? IT changes for 2013 103 The future of IP Moving to IPv6 105 The 4G effect What 4G means for your SME
47 The future’s bright? Martin Spiller on financial forecasting 109 I’ve got an app for that… Our fave business apps 51 Before you sign on the dotted line… Material agreements 110 Nokia vs HTC This month’s best smart phones
Focus on strategy
113 Franchise news
55 2013: the year ahead This year’s business strategy
115 Spotlight Riverford Organic’s latest devotees
59 It’s a culture thing Why culture beats strategy
118 Take one franchisee The Creation Station’s Melanie Dawson
65 From small acorns… How to grow a business
Focus on marketing 68 The marketing column Kimberly Davis
115 009 contents.ga.indd 9
Focus on franchise
53 The branding column Rich With
121 Question time Questions to ask franchisors 123 Tea for two TB looks to new tea chain, Tea Monkey
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A fresh start There is something about a new year that I find overwhelmingly exciting. Maybe it’s those brand new resolutions, all clean and shiny and just waiting to be broken. Perhaps it’s the tantalising promise of unknown adventures waiting just over the horizon, the ones I’ll keep chasing without ever quite reaching them. Whatever the reason, January always feels like a period of unique opportunity; a chance to “turn over a new leaf”, “make a fresh start”, and essentially refer to life as if it were one long clichéd proverb. This year though, it is not just a feeling – things really are going to be radically different in the world of UK business. With SMEs high up on the political agenda, there are a veritable plethora of legislative changes coming into play in 2013. From pensions to payroll, it’s a lot to keep track of, especially if you’re a small business owner; after all, it takes all of your time and energy just to keep on top of the day-to-day stuff. And although many of the proposed changes are aimed at making things easier and simpler for businesses in the long run, the implementation of these reforms looks to be a bit of an upheaval in the short-term. So in this New Year special, we look to what’s coming, providing you with information and tips on the application of these fast-approaching changes. The first step is awareness: familiarise yourself with the possible, probable and definite changes to employment law on page 93. From there, flip to page 99 for info on the disruptive technologies with the potential to shake up the SME scene. But the big news is happening on the money front; starting on page 36, check out the coming financial gamechangers, before reading up on the massive changes to payroll coming your way. Happy New Year,
Helen Coffey Editor
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Meet the experts René Carayol, born in Gambia, is one of the UK’s leading
businessmen. He has extensive board level experience and has used this to build his own business philosophy, with a focus on inspirational leadership, culture and business transformation. Today he is chairman of Inspired Thinking Group, a marketing services provider. In the past, René has served as an executive on the board of directors for companies including Pepsi and the Inland Revenue, and in 2004 received an MBE for outstanding service to the business community. He has now established himself as a business guru and has worked with leaders including Bill Clinton and Sir Richard Branson. Read his thoughts on business culture on page 59
Justine Vaughan is founder and director of Triangle HR, a
Shropshire-based HR Consultancy. Triangle HR offers a full consultancy service in all areas of human resources and people management, and provides a professional, cost-effective solution for businesses across the UK. Justine has both operational and management experience across all levels of business, from the shop floor to the boardroom. She brings her 15 years’ human resources knowledge to improve and develop effective people, policy and process, achieving successful business performance and productivity. She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD). Read her opinions on performance reviews on page 89
Mark Paraskeva is CEO of the SME division at IRIS Software
Group. His remit covers software development, marketing, sales and customer support. Prior to joining ISG, Mark spent eight years at Autodesk where he was responsible for sales and marketing across Europe. Before this, Mark worked at Mentor Graphics as marketing director, general manager software development, and UK sales managing director. Previous roles saw him work for Cadence Design Systems, Digital Equipment Company and Siemens Plessey Roke Manor. Mark has a first class honours degree in electronic engineering from Southampton University and is married with two daughters. Read his advice on the coming payroll changes on page 43
Paula Volkmer is an associate at Fox Williams LLP. She advises
on HR and employment-related matters, including executive service agreements, disciplinary and grievance issues, termination packages and compromise agreements. Paula’s experience includes advising companies on the employment, employee share scheme and pensions aspects of corporate transactions. She has advised both employers and pension scheme trustees on pension issues including benefit changes, age discrimination and employer cessation debt obligations. Paula took her law degree at University College London and graduated with an honours degree before completing the Legal Practice Course at BPP Law School. Read her feature on employment law reforms on page 93
10 January 2013
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It’s a new year and a new perspective. Let’s see what our ever-growing community of switched-on Talk Business readers have to say about business in 2013…
A BIG CHEER FOR CSR
LETTER OF THE MONTH
Dear all, I liked reading about SMEs being encouraged to invest in CSR [Every little helps, December]. It is one of those things that small companies often shove to the very bottom on their list of priorities. Honestly though, the way the world operates now, it is not enough to bury your head in the sand. You are never too small to try and run your business in a responsible way, whether that is by letting your staff volunteer for charity or implementing a paperless office policy. No matter what your business, no matter what your industry, there are always things you can do. Regards,
THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER…
Well, despite your feature pronouncing ‘2012 the year of the SME’ [December], I have to say, for my fellow entrepreneurs and I, it was still a pretty tough year. Funding, as has often been said, was extremely hard to come by – I was turned down for a loan by several high street banks, who claimed the venture was too ‘high risk’ for them to invest capital. It is good that business is more talked about, yes, but we still need to acknowledge that, in a very fundamental way, start-ups are not getting the support they need and deserve. Too much waffle about how great small businesses are for the economy, not enough hard cash.
NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT Dear Talk Business, In the much anticipated Autumn Statement, the Chancellor has said the UK is making progress, yet growth is set to be lower, and borrowing higher than previously thought. I am not convinced that Britain is currently heading ‘in the right direction’, as Mr Osborne says. I fear that adhering to the current programme of austerity and cutbacks in spending will have an inevitable knock-on effect, shrinking the economy as a whole. The economic recovery of the UK hinges on investment in start-ups and SMEs. The UK has many small- and medium-sized companies, which have the potential to become world-class enterprises, and many firms are expanding, investing and creating jobs. However, very much more needs to be done to support our wealth creators of tomorrow in their efforts to build enterprises fit to compete and succeed in a global marketplace.
If you’d like to send us your thoughts about Talk Business, or anything else that’s happening on the SME scene, just get in touch: email: email@example.com snail mail: Aston Greenlake, 6 Mitre Passage, 8th floor, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0ER
the month… @AlliesCom Great news from @TalkBusinessMag: ‘Survey finds rise in confidence of small businesses’ #SME @Prime_Advantage The CEO of HBVP predicting growth in 2013, despite slower Christmas sales #business @TalkBusinessMag @marketest Great to meet @ideasfactory_uk @GrowthAccel @TalkBusinessMag yesterday at @TheBusinessShow. Hope you all have had a good day today as well. @PolycomEurope Increased tech adoption changed way we communicate at work. #Remoteworking to become the norm by 2022. @TalkBusinessMag Bobby Lane @sshllp See my blog on #autumnstatement in @TalkBusinessMag… why there was not much for SMEs to be thankful for #AS2012 Nicola Potzas @YourVASupport Drafting an article I’m writing in @TalkBusinessMag January issue. It will be about virtual assistants. Look out for it! #entrepeneur #VA CSR info @schwild RT @EutheniaTouch: Latest @TalkBusinessMag, the year of the SME. Read more about #CSR for smaller businesses in my article, pg 64... @MartinRSpiller Shameless self promotion! My article “Bank says no” is on pg 47 of the fantastic @TalkBusinessMag
Dan Wagner, CEO and chairman, mPowa talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 11
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Well, we all know what our own resolutions should be: drink less, exercise more, grow the business. But what should the UK’s leading politicians and entrepreneurs be popping down on their New Year’s lists? Take note, Alan and co…
David and Samantha Cameron Davey and SamCam love to present a united front – it’s what they do best. But surely even the most united couple shouldn’t look exactly alike, unless they are in fact twins (in which case, they probably shouldn’t be a couple. No judgement, it’s just that casting the net a little wider than your own gene pool usually produces better results). Note to the Camerons, your resolution for this year:
“We, the Camerons, power couple and all round A-listers (trust us, you should see who comes to our dinner parties), solemnly swear to start the lengthy process of separating out into two individual humans. We will vary mannerisms and facial expressions to create the illusion that we are distinctly separate entities. We will stop kissing passionately in front of the paparazzi to convince everyone that we are sickeningly in love. We will not always wear coordinating, or worse still, matching outfits when out in public. However tempting it might be to ensure that David’s tie subtly picks out the colour of Sam’s dress… damn it, it’s too hard. Maybe we’ll just spend more time together instead.”
Richard Branson Who’s cooler than Richard Branson? When he’s not skydiving strapped to a pregnant kangaroo, he’s wrestling a shark, trekking through Peru or sending pandas into space, and all while making a million pounds every five seconds*. But that’s the problem – he’s a little bit too cool. It’s something of a downer for the rest of us, for whom an exciting evening involves meeting an old friend for a pint. Yes Mr Branson, if you wouldn’t mind pledging to be just a little more normal this year, it would take a weight off all our minds: “Richard here. Just snowboarding down a sand dune in the Sahara. Got a quick trip up to Mars planned later to shoot a little promo vid for Virgin. Oh, I’ve already broken it, haven’t I…Sorry,
Lord Sugar Good old Alan, he’s a British institution – but despite having been made a Sir, then a Lord, he still looks pretty miserable most of the time. Especially for someone reportedly ‘rolling in it’ thanks to the well-oiled Apprentice PR machine. We think his New Year’s resolution should read thusly:
sorry, won’t happen again. I resolve that in 2013 I will pretend to be like any other CEO or runof-the-mill entrepreneur. I will go into an office every day, wear a suit and tie, and feign concern about the collapse of the Eurozone, or whatever the latest crisis is that seems to be getting everyone who’s not me all hot and bothered. I will look at numbers, and graphs, and will spend no time whatsoever chilling on private islands or having adventures. The beard stays though. End of. *Warning: potentially wildly inaccurate statement.
“I, Lord Sugar, resolve to look less cross in 2013. I will probably still be cross – can’t change the habit of a lifetime, eh? – but will try to keep this hidden. I will: 1) smile once a day, minimum. OK then, in the interests of realism, once a day maximum. 2) tell contestants on The Apprentice that they aren’t too awful once in a while. Maybe even give them a ‘well done’ for trying hard when they’ve spent all day running around London buying baby bibs before pulling an all-nighter to customise them for some ridiculous trade show. 3) stop having high profile rants at fellow celebrity types on Twitter. It’s not big, and it’s not clever. Naughty Alan.”
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News & events
THE BIG LOTTERY
Dates for the diary Ebony Inspired UK: A black entrepreneurs network 16 January London www.eventbrite.co.uk The Art of New Business 17 January London www.eventbrite.co.uk The CFO Summit 22 January The Dorchester, London www.economistconferences.co.uk Intellectual Property for Tech and Startups 22 January The Google Campus, London www.eventbrite.co.uk The Mobile Enterprise 24 January Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel, London www.eventbrite.co.uk The Business Growth Show 29 January Leeds www.thebusinessgrowthshow.com
The Business Growth Show 1 February Northampton www.thebusinessgrowthshow.com Business Travel Show 5-6 February Earls Court, London www.businesstravelshow.com 42 Under 42 Dinner 7 February Birmingham www.insidermedia.com Dealmakers Awards 2013 7 February Crawley www.insidermedia.com The Supply Chain Logistics Event 7-8 February Celtic Manor Resort, UK www.scl-event.com The CPO Event 7-8 February Celtic Manor Resort, UK www.scl-event.com
THE BIG LOTTERY Fund (BIG) awarded almost £7m to further grow the successful Lloyds Banking Group Social Entrepreneurs Programme. This additional investment will enable the programme to deliver an impact worth over £14m in the UK, increasing the number funded to more than 1,000, who in turn aim to benefit over 120,000 people within their communities. Building on the original £6m investment from Lloyds Banking Group with additional funding from social investor, Nominet Trust, the new investment from BIG increases the ambition of the programme to recruit and support participants who have the potential to create well over £20m in social value and generate 4,000 jobs each year. The expanded programme will allow the social entrepreneurs to tackle UK societal issues from 14 different locations over the next five years. The additional grant enables the programme to provide a wider range of financial support and educational training at all of the Schools for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), and sees the number of delivery locations double from seven to 14 sites. Speaking about the grant, Nat Sloane, England Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, said: ‘The School for Social Entrepreneurs is all about finding and supporting innovative ideas that will bring about real positive change to local communities, a mission that the Big Lottery Fund fully supports. ‘In these times of tough austerity, I am delighted that BIG is joining The Lloyds Banking Group Social Entrepreneurs Programme, a partnership that demonstrates how the private and charitable sectors can join forces.’
14 January 2013
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MERGER CREATES UK’S LEADING CROWDFUNDING NETWORK TWO SOUTH-WEST rewards-based crowdfunding websites teamed up in December to create the UK’s leading crowdfunding network. Exeter’s Crowdfunder, run by Crowdcube, the world’s leading equity crowdfunding company, joined forces with Plymouth’s Peoplefund.it, launched by KEO digital, the makers of rivercottage.net, fishfight.net, landshare.net and energyshare.com. They will combine technology and marketing platforms, branding and teams to create a platform to rival other new entrants to the crowdfunding market, including US-based Kickstarter. ‘It’s a game-changing move for Peoplefund.it and makes us the UK’s leading crowdfunding network,’ says Nick Underhill, Peoplefund.it’s co-founder. ‘Our aim is to inspire, engage and transform communities through enterprise, and following the arrival of Kickstarter in the UK, this is another huge step forward for British crowdfunding.’ ‘The merger of Crowdfunder and Peoplefund.it makes a huge amount of sense for UK projects that need funding,’ says Crowdfunder founder, Darren Westlake. ‘It will deliver scale, expertise and marketing reach – essential for those who want the best funding platform possible.’
UK IS TOP FOR
300,000 new ONLINE SMEs needed SHOPPING
A NEW STUDY released shows that 300,000 new SMEs are needed to restore the UK economy to its pre-recession peak. Valuable Assets, published by RSA and conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), revealed that SMEs are contributing more than half of private sector GVA to the UK economy. Private enterprise will grow faster than the UK economy as a whole over the coming years. This will help the UK to offset the effects of fiscal austerity measures, such as Whitehall spending cuts of 1% next year and 2% in 2014. Tara Kneafsey, SME director at leading insurer RSA, said: ‘Our study shows that an “enterprise army” will be the driving force for growth, providing a much-needed shot in the arm for the UK economy.’ The entrepreneurial spirit is certainly alive and well here in the UK, with individual
entrepreneurs contributing an average of £130,000 to the UK economy in 2012. While the number of large businesses has declined by 11% over the last ten years, the number of small businesses has risen by 35% over the same period, showing the growing strength of the burgeoning SME population.
OFCOM HAS RELEASED a report revealing that shopping online is more popular in the UK than any other country in the world, with uptake being driven by mobile and tablet devices. The report also discovered that UK consumers have now broken the £1,000-a-year spend barrier on Internet shopping – more than any other country in the research. In 2011, the per-head spending on e-commerce was £1,083 in the UK, up 14% from £950 in 2010. Ofcom revealed that UK adults like to shop on the move, with over a fifth of UK smart phone users using their devices to visit retail websites – the highest level out of the five largest European countries. Mark Haviland, MD of Rakuten LinkShare, commented: ‘The fact that Brits are spending more online compared to the rest of the globe shows our huge appetite for Internet shopping, and brands can clearly see the value of the online and mobile channels as a result.’
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Focus on success
Made in Britain From a Cambridge kitchen table to New York Fashion Week: Helen Coffey discovers the incredible story behind ‘The Brit It Bag’ and its creator, Julie Deane, founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company
ou could argue that every entrepreneur’s journey is its own unique, fascinating tale, what with all the highs and lows, the euphoric ups and devastating downs. But not every entrepreneur’s story is interesting enough to attract the attention of Google, let alone be
deemed riveting enough to form the basis of its latest ad campaign. If you think Julie Deane, founder of the phenomenally successful Cambridge Satchel Company, looks strangely familiar, it may well be because she and her family starred in the recent Google Chrome
campaign; it followed the ascension of the business from kitchen table venture to the hallowed pages of Elle magazine, demonstrating that “the web is what you make of it”. Well, if a story’s good enough for Google, it’s good enough for us. And it truly is an enchanting tale, which saw Julie, spurred on by the need to make money to move her daughter to a new school, start up her Britishmade satchel business on just £600. Five years on and it’s a different story. I go to meet her at the company’s Cambridge offices, where a bustling staff are busy taking orders, wrapping bags, and dealing with the media circus which has rolled into town since Julie’s high profile ad appearance. However, I feel duty-bound to stress at this juncture that, despite rapid growth, success and international acclaim, things haven’t changed in essence at The Cambridge Satchel Company: Julie’s mum, involved since the very beginning, is still an active part of the business. Rupert, beloved family dog and unofficial company mascot, still lounges around the office as if he owns the place, nonchalantly following his mistress from room to room. There is nothing “corporate” here, nothing clinical or soulless – it has the unmistakable feel of a family business. Julie herself is reassuringly down-to-earth and humble, still constantly surprised by the new accolades that seem to flood in on a daily basis: ‘I’m shocked every single time. I see our bags holding court next to the Prada shop in Paris, and I just can’t believe it!’ Now a firm catwalk favourite, the gift of choice for the cast of Mad Men from the producers
019_022 FOTC.ga.indd 19
when they wrapped last season, and the beloved “It” bag of fashionistas the world over, it seems Julie will continue being shocked at her satchels’ success for a long while yet.
How did it feel to go from your kitchen table to seeing your bags stocked in Bloomingdales?
Weird. Really weird. We’d gone out, my children and my husband and I, for New York Fashion Week in February, and I said to my children: ‘Who can be the first one to spot one of our bags?’ We were passing Bloomingdales and my son said he’d seen one. There was one in a shop window in green, one in pink, one in yellow – we had seven shop windows. And they had ‘The Cambridge Satchel Company’ up on every single window, which was absolutely amazing. They also put us HUGE in the New York Post with these words – ‘The Brit It Bag’. Can you imagine? It was incredible!
Do you feel surprised when you see things like that?
Yes. I’m shocked, every time. And I always wish that everybody from here was standing with me – because I want them all to see it. I take photos on my phone and send them back and say LOOK AT THIS! And then equally, the people down in the factory in Leicester as well, because if they weren’t doing such fantastic work then our bags wouldn’t hold their own in places like Bloomingdales. For the people on the sewing machines to see that the bags they’re making are ending up being displayed in shops like that is incredible.
going to start my own company. I hadn’t decided what it was, but I know I would have started my own business anyway. But there’s a huge difference when suddenly there’s a deadline and a reason for doing it. You’ve got to stop the excuses of: ‘I’ll just look into this’, ‘I’ll just read this book by Peter Jones’, ‘Ooh, this business link website’s very interesting’. You can fill so much time “looking into things”. But my circumstances with my daughter put a very sharp, tight deadline on it, and a real sense of: ‘OK, stop messing about. You have to do something and you have to do it now, because there’s someone you love more than anything who needs your help.’ Sometimes you just need a bit of a kick.
“I know this business inside out because I have literally done every single job in this place”
You needed to make money to move your daughter to a different The business has had a really rapid school as she was being bullied. Would you have started a business expansion. How did you deal with scaling up the model so quickly? without that pressure? I had been talking to my mum for a year and a half before that happened, telling her I was
I think at each stage there are several steps, and each step brings different challenges. One
18 January 2013
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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER
thing that I always say to people is, you don’t need to know what the challenges are in the later steps. You just need to focus on the challenges that are facing you right at this minute. I’m really glad I didn’t know all the things that were coming!
How did you get your start-up cash? I’m not somebody who likes to have debt. I don’t like to feel that I have huge financial pressures, so everything that I’ve done has been selffinancing. I started off with £600, and never borrowed at all. The only way that you can do that is by keeping your overheads really low. Work from home as long as you can. And yes, it’s tough economic times: but it’s never been easier to start a business, because if you have a computer, like the Google Chrome advert says, the web is what you make of it. That computer can get you noticed all over the world.
How did you keep your costs down? The logo, I designed myself. The name, I came up with myself (that’s why it’s so straightforward!). The first website, I just Googled “How to make a website course free”. I taught myself over a few nights on the sofa, after the children had gone to bed. It puts you through a really interesting exercise – I feel like I know this business inside out because I have literally done every single job in this place.
“You can’t really claim to be the Brit It Bag if you’re having it made in Pakistan”
“I don’t imagine there’s going to be the Cambridge Satchel lemonade drink”
It seems viral, the way the business opportunity to stop and think: was picked up by the press. Was ‘Would I actually be happier there a point where you realised it doing something for myself?’ had really taken off? Just think, if you could do Yes. I think we were really lucky, because we were featured in a national paper in September 2009. Then in November, The Guardian put us in their Christmas Gift Guide, and I think it was because there were two things back to back: people really started to notice us. It was at that point that we decided it was time to move out of the kitchen. When we first came here, I remember saying to my husband: ‘It’s more than we’ll ever need, but at least we’ll never have to move.’ Haha! Famous last words.
Do you think we’re becoming a bit better at encouraging entrepreneurs in this country now?
I think that it’s become quite a sexy thing to do now. Where I would like to see it expand more is with middle-aged people. I think more people who have maybe been made redundant should consider it. Before you start looking at your next job that’s exactly like the one you just left, then perhaps if you have had some severance pay or something, take that as an
anything, what would you do? It might take some tweaking back, but there probably is a version of it you can do from your own home.
Did you ever feel pressure to make a bigger profit margin by outsourcing manufacturing abroad? We don’t make it easy in this country to find a manufacturer. I would go through Yellow Pages and Yell.com, and Google and Chambers of Commerce, trying to find somebody who could make leather satchels. It was really, really difficult. And meanwhile, people from Poland and Portugal and Taiwan would be emailing me constantly, saying, ‘We see you make leather bags, we can make leather bags for you’. It’s very difficult if you’ve got a demand that is outstripping what you can supply, to resist the pressure of saying, ‘Let’s just get them to make them, at least then my customers will be happy.’ I think that’s something that could be really improved upon. A manufacturing directory, particularly where the
How did you market the business?
When you don’t have a huge budget to start with, it makes you think creatively about ways of getting the word out. I emailed the fashion editors and the bloggers, but I couldn’t send them the bags – I only had six prototypes, so I couldn’t be sending them all over the place! I sent them photographs instead, and I told them the story: you just engage with people. That’s how you can get the really good feedback about how to grow.
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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER
manufacturers on that directory were guaranteed to subscribe to certain ethical standards, would be a huge leap forward.
Do you think there should be more of an incentive for businesses to make things here in Britain?
It’s up to the individual really. Some people are very profitorientated, and if they can get something made for 50p less that’s OK, even though they seem to be surprised when they see relatives made redundant, and companies going under – they don’t necessarily see the link. I think there has been a bit of a culture of getting things made overseas, even if it’s only a small margin cheaper. But you get it made overseas and it’s a lot less hands-on. If I have a problem with a supplier or a manufacturer, I can just go and visit them. I can sit, face-to-face, and
say, ‘This is the problem we’re having – how can we get around it?’ Well, you’re not going to have that instant rapport with someone a long way away.
Is it important to you that the bags are made here?
Yes; I really like going to the factory, and seeing people sitting there, using their skills and their craft to make bags for us. I love that. And the fact that we bring all these orders and keep all these people busy doing what they’re really good at, and what they enjoy – it’s a big plus. It would lose a huge amount to me personally if the bags were coming from somewhere the other side of the world; they could be widgets, they could be anything. These would just be things that I have no emotional attachment to. And you can’t really claim to be the ‘Brit It Bag’ if you’re having it made in Pakistan!
What’s the future of The Cambridge Satchel Company?
There are lots of exciting things underway. We’re doing an amazing project with Disney at the moment. And there’s a new shape coming – and did you see the transparent ones? They’re the ones that went to London Fashion Week. We are working on a couple of other projects, which hopefully should be really successful for us next year. But I would say that, like French Sole, who do the pumps and are known for just doing those and doing them really well, we do satchels – I don’t imagine there’s going to be the Cambridge Satchel lemonade drink! We’re the Cambridge Satchel Company. We think that we make the best handmade satchels that you can get; we don’t forget our roots, and we don’t forget what we do well.
“Yes, it’s tough economic times: but it’s never been easier to start a business”
20 January 2013
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Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY
You’re hired! Ricky Martin, he of the ridiculous name and infectious smile, is not only the winner of The Apprentice 2012: he is now the driving force behind his winning business idea, Hyper Recruitment Solutions
t’s not many who are on the receiving end of those two magic words, ‘You’re hired’ – at least, not when they’re coming out of the hardto-please mouth of Lord Sugar. Ricky Martin is one such lucky recipient, having fought his way to the top on last year’s series of The Apprentice to clinch the winning prize of Alan Sugar’s sterling endorsement. Well, that and £250,000 to fund his fledgling business idea, Hyper Recruitment Solutions. With all the back biting and bitching that goes on in the TV
“I admire anyone who’s started a business”
show, Ricky stood out for being, to put it in layman’s terms, a decent bloke; and there’s not many who would begrudge him the much coveted title. ‘At the start, I stood out for the wrong reasons by bigging myself up,’ says Ricky. ‘But I think as the weeks wore on, people started to see the way I really am, which is a lot more humble. ‘I started to stand out for the things I was doing, not the things I was saying.’ Now The Apprentice is finally done and dusted for Ricky, the ridiculous tasks finished and
the whacky ideas put to bed; now the next part of his journey has begun in earnest. Ricky says: ‘The Apprentice was hard, but in comparison to starting up a business it was easy. ‘Lots of people think that you have loads of money and success after winning. Real business people understand that it’s about putting in the hours and putting in the effort: getting in on the first day to an empty office and having to sort out the phone lines and the Internet access and the heating bills. ‘I admire anyone who’s
22 January 2013
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Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY
“What makes us unique is my credibility and my passion”
started a business.’ He’s no stranger to hard work though, and has his eyes wide open when it comes to running a business. As a child, Ricky’s inspiration was his dad: ‘He was a bricklayer, and he taught me the harder you work the more money you can get. As a kid I didn’t know what my business would be, but I always knew I wanted to run my own company.’ It seems that Ricky has now found his niche, having settled on the recruitment industry: more specifically, recruitment for the science and technology
sectors. It may have seemed like a fairly staid idea for Lord Sugar to invest in – but HRS isn’t just any recruitment business, as Ricky is quick to point out. ‘What makes us unique is my credibility and my passion; I’m a scientist myself, and a member of the Royal Chemists Society,’ says Ricky. ‘We’re driven top down, and everyone else needs my passion for science. A lot of agencies are focused on recruitment and try and learn a little bit about science to get clients, but we are passionate about science.’ Indeed, Ricky is keen for the HRS name to be synonymous with credibility and genuine knowledge of the sector: ‘Our brand is all about being an absolute expert in science recruitment. We’re not just looking for a way to make money without caring about the industry.’ Of course, the other element that sets it apart is having arguably the most famous entrepreneur in the UK as its backer and partner. That’s got to be quite a commendation for a new business run by a fairly green entrepreneur, albeit it a dedicated and driven one. Has it helped Ricky launch HRS? ‘Yes, definitely. I was always going to start this company, and I could have done it alone: but I couldn’t position the way we are right now,’ he says. ‘Lord Sugar has given us a lot of money, but more than that, he’s been a very instrumental part of the company. He’s there in an advisory capacity.’ So he’s not there to do tea runs then? ‘He’s not part of the day-to-day, 9-5, no – but that’s because it’s my vision, and my area of expertise. It’s science recruitment and that’s my specialism, but we certainly couldn’t have come so far so fast without Lord Sugar.’ Ricky is confident in his skills when it comes to the science recruitment sector, and knows just what it will take to succeed in his market. As an
entrepreneur, he admits he is happy to stick to what he knows, and to what he is good at, in order to succeed. He says: ‘I personally think you really need to have an interest and expertise in what you’re doing. ‘It’s good to be innovative, but I think you’ll be more successful if you know what you’re doing – you can give a much better service to your customers. ‘I’m not against going out and thinking of big, new ideas, but I think you’re in a much better position to provide a good service if you know about it.’ And in fact this is the very reason Ricky pipped his fierce competition to the post last year; he convinced Lord Sugar that he knew the industry, he knew how to provide a first-rate service, and his business idea would be guaranteed to provide a solid return on investment. HRS is a very young business, and it’s far too soon to say whether or not it will be a roaring success. But Ricky’s enthusiasm for his industry is infectious, and he is a man with the brilliant combination of having big ideas but both feet planted firmly on the ground. When asked about the future of the business, he is confident about what he can do, and is clearly in it for the long-haul. ‘I always want to be part of the business,’ he says. ‘I didn’t do it to get rich quick – I want to be the company of choice for anyone recruiting in the science sector. I want to be known as a recruitment specialist, where you’ll always have a good experience, doing things in the right way and giving a really high level of service.’ With such dedication and admirable values in place from the outset at HRS, it can’t be too long before Ricky Martin is known for his fast-growth business, rather than for being Lord Sugar’s latest sidekick. Contact: www.hyperec.com
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Focus on success UP-AND-COMING
Introducing…David Hill We celebrate our first up-and-comer of 2013, the genius behind footwear design enterprise, Sneakerly, which uses a crowdfunding business model to sell indie sneakers
Sneakerly, the brainchild of David Hill, is the coolest idea we’ve heard about in years. Based on the crowdfunding model, it basically allows you to buy new footwear that’s designed and chosen by you. OK, let us explain: anyone can submit artwork to be printed onto sneakers, and Sneakerly showcase the designs on their website for consumers to decide which ones they make. Each design has 25 days to receive 250 pre-orders, called “endorsements”. If a design reaches this goal, the designer gets $2,500 (about £1,600) and they manufacture the sneakers to fulfill the orders. They’ll also make extra stock to place in their online store and to distribute to selected retailers.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea came while shopping for some new and original sneakers; it felt like all I could find were sneakers I’d seen before. In the same store there were hundreds of t-shirt designs that I’d never seen, some of which were designed by independent artists. I left the store asking myself why wasn’t the same true for footwear? Why couldn’t I own sneakers that had been designed by independent artists?
What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs trying to get an idea off the ground?
Share your idea with people you trust, get their feedback and then learn as much as you can about the market. Start with small experiments to test your ideas and don’t be afraid of changing direction.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be doing today?
I’d still be designing products. I guess I’d be doing it from within a design consultancy like I used to though.
What’s been your worst ever job?
The summer jobs spent in warehouses unloading lorries and stacking pallets would have to be the worst!
What’s top of your bucket list?
To live in San Francisco and Tokyo. Tokyo is my favourite city, it has such a different and fascinating culture.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a young entrepreneur?
As a small start-up with a limited budget, getting the press to listen to you is by far the biggest challenge.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
How much does money motivate you?
If money was the motivation I’d have been a banker. Money isn’t the motivation, creating solutions to problems is. I guess that’s why I’ve always designed.
What’s been your proudest moment? My girlfriend and I spontaneously cycled 4,334km from Cairns to Melbourne. That was an adventure I’ll never forget, and the feeling we both had when we arrived at our destination 38 days later was immense.
What’s your vision for the future of Sneakerly? To build a great community of people that have fun creating and supporting indie footwear. To develop a range of different sneaker styles. Contact: www.sneakerly.com
My life I’m watching: I rarely watch television, but I do watch a lot of online tutorials I’m reading: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries I’m listening to: Deftones I’m surfing: Sneakerly.com…I use Flipboard a lot too
Music. Why use an annoying alarm sound when you can wake up to your favourite songs? talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 25
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Focus on success 12 STEPS
The steps to success: Step 7 Is there a secret to success? Apparently so. And this month Carly Ward, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Society, is prepared to share it with us in the seventh step from her accredited entrepreneurial qualification
If I told you every thought you are thinking is creating your future, you might laugh and tell me I’m mad: but there really is a certain amount of truth in it. “The Secret”, or the “Law of Attraction” is all about things that you attract into your life, simply from the way you are thinking. Try turning your thoughts into a more positive form of thinking about what you want rather than what you don’t want.
“The Secret is not just positive thinking or wishful thinking”
How can you do this? It could be anything: relationships, personal goals, health, weight, education, career, recreation, money, hobbies etc. Let me explain. For example, a negative thought process would be: I don’t want to struggle financially. A positive thought process, in contrast, would be: I do want to be financially stable. Negative: I don’t want to argue with my brother/sister/parents/friends. Positive: I do want to have a good relationship with my brother/sister/parents/friends. You may have heard of the “The Secret” before – if not, then you will understand why it’s called this! “The Secret” is huge in America but not so much here in the UK. As a nation, we are generally not as positive as the Americans; if we were more like them we would have 900,000 more businesses trading (quoted by Lord Young). Do you class yourself as a positive person or a negative person? Do you surround yourself with people who add value to your life and have a positive influence? Or do you surround yourself with negative people who blame everyone else except themselves for the things that go wrong in their lives, and who zap all of your good energy? Be careful who you award the privilege of being your friend, business colleague or partner. You become the
average of the five people you spend most of your time with. Now, that’s a scary thought isn’t it? “The Secret” is not just positive thinking or wishful thinking. If I sat here all day dreaming up huge sums of money being paid into my bank account, even if I felt really positive about it, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t happen – unless, of course, I had the intention of making it happen by working extremely hard. There is no point thinking positively unless you have proper goals to be positive about, but most importantly, you need to intend to reach your goals and take action. So, my recipe for the “The Secret to Success” summed up in an equation: Think positive + surround yourself with positive people who want the most out of life + set goals + intend to reach your goals + work hard + take action = SUCCESS. Read The Secret andThe Power by Rhonda Byrne; they will be the best investment you ever make. And let me know how you get on, I would love to hear from you!
Contact: www.yesnetwork.co.uk Twitter @carlyyes @yesteam
26 January 2013
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Focus on success THE INTERVIEW
BUSINESS, THE HEMING WAY Wayne Hemingway, MBE is a British legend, having started his first design business, Red or Dead, from nothing. Now at the helm of social housing business, Hemingway Design, he talks to TB exclusively about starting out and moving forward
ayne Hemingway, MBE is an accidental entrepreneur. ‘There’s no such thing!’ you might well say. But when he and girlfriend Gerardine decided to empty their wardrobes and sell their clothes on a stall in Camden Market, they were not motivated by a burning desire to change the world, nor an unquenchable passion for design and retail: they were just broke and needed cash.
‘I was simply responding to the fact that I needed money fast, and that was it,’ says Wayne. But pretty quickly things changed; by the end of that first year they had 16 stalls, with shipments of second-hand clothing and footwear brought in from all over the world. International acclaim and success weren’t too far behind, and the pair, by then married, sold the business in a multimillion pound deal.
“We come from very hard working families, and that upbringing worked very well”
With their second venture Hemingway Design, a social housing business with attractive design and sustainability at its heart, nothing has been accidental. They have used all of the valuable lessons learned first time around to inform how they do things, and have proven that they can do buildings just as well as boots. Wayne shares their incredible entrepreneurial tale, spanning over 30 years of hard graft.
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Focus on success THE INTERVIEW
When you started out, were you motivated by a love of design, or an entrepreneurial spirit?
I hadn’t even heard of the word “entrepreneur” – it wasn’t in my vocabulary. The love of design grew; at first I was simply motivated by survival, and wanting enough money to be able to stay in London with my girlfriend and carry on the adventure we’d started on. We enjoyed it from day one: to be young and make money from something that didn’t seem like hard work was great.
What were the biggest struggles and challenges you faced as a new business?
It never felt like there were any challenges. It genuinely felt like, ‘Wow, we didn’t know life could be like this!’ We just worked our way around problems. There are always the challenges of trusting someone to look after things and spreading yourself too thinly. But we managed to get through that.
How did you get from a market stall to UK department stores?
We’ve never been afraid to make friends, to take advice, and we’ve always been decent folk when it comes to suppliers and manufacturers. People generally liked working with us because we get on with people, and we’ve always been grateful for the talents of the wider team.
How did you make the transition from clothes to buildings? It’s the same question as: how did we make the transition from no training to selling clothes? We believed we could do something better when we saw the state of mass market housing, and we did it. You don’t need to be a genius – everyone’s lived in a house and knows how they want it to be. It’s not like flying a plane or being a heart surgeon. We were just as capable as anyone else.
What comes first with your designs – aesthetic, sustainability or practicality? The first thing we look at is: is this something we or our
families would use? And is it deliverable? You can waste a lot of time on things that aren’t deliverable. Practicality comes first, but we also want it to look and feel fantastic. So all three are important to us, but the first step is using our own experiences to decide whether we would like things to be a certain way.
Are big corporations truly embracing sustainability yet?
Most of them do embrace sustainability, because they know that the bigger you are the harder you fall. I’ve met with McDonald’s and Coca Cola, and let me tell you, I’ve never met such sustainable thinking businesses. It’s because they have to be. They’ll be the first to be pulled from pillar to post by the media and by the public if they don’t.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Being in control of your own destiny is nice, and being your own boss and the freedom that gets you is a big positive. You’ve got no one to blame except for yourself if things don’t work out. There’s never a dull moment, and if you thrive on change it really suits you. The reason it worked for me was doing it with my then girlfriend, now wife. We’re partners – it was a meeting of minds and a meeting of complimentary skills, and
it would be hard to imagine attempting it without each other.
What would your advice be to first-time businesses who are experiencing difficulties in the current climate?
“It never felt like there were any challenges. It all felt like a big adventure”
The important thing is to look at as many sources of income as you can – diversify. People shouldn’t be afraid of working part-time; there’s no shame in working in a restaurant in the evenings. The main thing is to stay afloat, even if it means doing some things that you don’t really want to do: that’s life. I had a very thrifty upbringing – without a doubt, the grounding I had was invaluable. Those lessons of never getting into debt or borrowing money stood both of us in good stead. We come from very hard working families, and that upbringing worked very well.
What’s the future for the businesses?
The business now, it’s growing pretty substantially, and our eldest two kids are getting involved in it. We just really hope it will become something they’ll be as happy in as we’ve been for the last 20 years. Contact: www.hemingwaydesign.co.uk
30 January 2013
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Focus on success BOOK REVIEWS
STARTUP COMMUNITIES: Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in your city by Brad Feld
Startup communities are popping up all over the world. Startup Communities documents the buzz, strategy, long-term perspective, and dynamics of building communities of entrepreneurs who can feed off each other’s creativity and support. Entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, Brad Feld, uses his experience in the field – as well as contributions from innovative startup communities – to explore what it takes to create an entrepreneurial community anywhere, at any time. Along the way, it offers insights into increasing the breadth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
He says: This book is aimed at anyone who wants to be involved in creating, building, and sustaining a startup community in their city. Because entrepreneurs are at the heart of every startup and every startup community, this book is for every entrepreneur. Startup communities consist of many more participants than just entrepreneurs. Government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers, and large companies play key roles in the development of a startup community. This book is also for anyone in those organisations interested in entrepreneurs and startup communities.
We say: Startup Communities is designed to engage and inspire entrepreneurs everywhere. Using his hometown of Boulder, an active startup community, as a case study, Feld demonstrates the dynamics of building this kind of ecosystem. What sets this book apart is that it includes a set of clear approaches to make this happen, as well as laying out the set of attitudes that are needed to underpin a startup community. Definitely worth a look if you’re feeling fired up about looking beyond the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ to create real hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity in the UK.
Startup Communities is published by Wiley, priced at £17.99 in hardback and e-book
THE POCKET MENTOR: An entrepreneur’s on-the-go guide to life and business by Chelsey Baker
The Pocket Mentor is priced at £24.99 in Print-on-Demand and e-book
Rockstar Mentoring Group, the UK’s number one mentoring organisation for entrepreneurs, has launched The Pocket Mentor by Chelsey Baker. The book is designed for anyone running their own business, written to guide entrepreneurs through every stage by providing definitive solutions. The chapters are aimed at providing practical on-the-go answers to fast-track your business, from optimising focus, defining identity and being pitch perfect, to increasing market visibility and implementing powerful strategies. It acts as a personal business mentor to help answer key questions throughout day-to-day business life.
She says: I have successfully mentored many businesses throughout the UK for the past decade as a media and marketing expert, and now I have condensed all my knowledge and experience into a no-nonsense book – providing entrepreneurs with immediate answers, advice and 24/7 assistance to all their key challenges. For those who want to deliver outstanding results in their business, maximise their profits and reach their full potential, this book will be their perfect partner to achieve all this and more, whilst I will act as their personal mentor and motivator throughout.
We say: The Pocket Mentor does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a business book in miniature, filled with concise, easy-to-flickthrough chapters which cover everything you need to help you succeed with your business. Much of it is focused around you: helping improve confidence, learning how to look after yourself as well as your business, exploring the unplumbed talents you have hidden away. While a useful extra resource, it complements rather than replaces working through business issues with a real-life mentor; it covers lots of the universal business problems, but obviously is not tailored to you and your business.
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Focus on success READING LIST
THE BIG BUSINESS READS OF 2012
We reviewed a whopping 32 books over the last year here at Talk Business; but we don’t expect you to plough through them all. Here’s a list of our very favourites for the ultimate entrepreneur reading list
Start Your Business in 7 Days: James Caan Price: £12.99 Published by: Penguin in paperback original
The Rebel Entrepreneur: Jonathan Moules Price: £14.99 Published by: Kogan Page in paperback original
What’s the story? The face of the Start-Up Loans outlines how becoming your own ‘Dragon’ by grilling yourself about your business idea can save wasted time and heartache. He guides you through a process where you spend just seven days deciding if you have a bankable business idea. Good if…You’ve just had your billion dollar business idea, and the excitement is blinding you to potential pitfalls. This book will help keep your feet on the ground while you coolly assess whether it has legs.
What’s the story? Using examples of countless successful entrepreneurs who’ve made it by challenging conventional wisdom, Jonathan Moules explains how doing things differently and breaking the mould can turn your business into a world-beating organisation. Good if…You’re not one for sticking to convention. This book encourages those who don’t do things the “right” way, showing how brands from Jack Wills to Apple have thrown the rulebook out the window to achieve their phenomenal success.
Entrepreneur. How to Start an Online Business: Lucy Tobin Price: £12.99 Published by: Capstone Publishing in paperback original
Culture Shock: Will McInnes Price: £14.99 Published by: Wiley in hardback original and e-book
What’s the story? This handy little book tells the stories of some of the most successful Internet businesses, including Moonpig, Groupon and GoCompare. With interviews, practical advice and insights, it is designed to provide useful and applicable tips as well as inspiration. Good if…You’re about to start an Internet business. Learning from those pioneers who have made a success of trading online can help you avoid mistakes, and can be a great reminder that even the big boys started out small.
What’s the story? Will McInnes, MD of Nixon McInnes, wants us all to work in places that are supportive, open, motivating and conducive to creativity. Here he maps out ways to create an uplifting work culture and to understand, mould and implement a 21st century business model. Good if…You are looking to shift the culture of your business, to create a workplace that is underpinned by a different ethos: one that actually makes your staff spring out of bed in the morning, rather than subscribing to a lethargic presenteeism.
Think Big Act Small: Jason Jennings Price: £11.99 Published by: Portfolio in paperback original
Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table: Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker Price: £14.99 Published by: Simon & Schuster in hardcover, paperback and e-book
What’s the story? Management guru, Jason Jennings, explains why the best companies never stop acting like start-ups. Taking the example of nine businesses that have managed to grow by at least 10% for ten consecutive years, he puts their practices under the microscope to find the secret of their success. Good if…You’re a medium-sized business and, having achieved moderate success, you’ve become stuck in your ways. This book will inspire you to try and recapture that start-up spirit.
What’s the story? The founders of notonthehighstreet.com tell the tumultuous story of how they went from being a kitchen table enterprise to an Internet sensation. They share the lessons they had to learn the hard way, in the hopes that you won’t have to. Good if…You’re trying to juggle mother/fatherhood with starting up a new business venture. These extraordinary women remind us that we’re all only human and we all make mistakes – but it’s still possible to achieve your goals.
34 January 2013
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Focus on money
Finger on the pulse We can’t predict the future for you, but we can prepare you for those financial game changers that will definitely affect your business in the year ahead. Darren Fell, founder of Crunch Accounting, gives us a financial preview of 2013
he start of a new year is always a nice time to be running your own business. Fresh from a relaxing Christmas break and a (hopefully scandal-free) office party, it’s a great time to evaluate and refocus. To effectively plan for the year ahead though, it helps to know what’s heading your way. As the Government swerves this way and that trying to kick the UK economy back to life, new rules and regulations are being introduced on a regular basis – staying on top of them can be a full-time job!
There are a couple of big financial changes businesses need to know about, mostly to do with the way payroll is operated. The first, and largest, is the introduction of Real Time Information (or RTI) for employee payroll. This scheme has been introduced by HMRC to make sure they are holding more up-to-date information on all company employees, as part
36 January 2013
038_039 2012 Finance.ga.indd 38
of a larger modernisation of The Revenue’s services. The rollout of RTI means companies must submit salary and tax information about all their employees to HMRC on a monthly basis (on or before payday), rather than yearly. (See our features on what RTI means for you on pages 39 to 45.) Next year also sees the introduction of the Universal Credit, which will amalgamate six existing income-related tax credits. This new programme is designed to simplify the tax credit process, and also make it easier for the unemployed to return to work by limiting the amount of credits they will lose when entering employment. The Universal Credit won’t begin to be implemented until October 2013, and will see a staggered rollout over the following four years. Elsewhere, your employees’ (and your) personal allowance will be climbing to £9,205 at the beginning of the new financial year, and those lucky enough to be on the Additional Rate of income tax (earning over £150,000) will see it fall from 50% to 45%. There are also changes to Capital Allowances taking effect as part of the Finance Bill 2012 – now would be a very good time to consult a specialist to make sure you’re taking full advantage of this tax break, which can total up to 30% on any investment into new plant and machinery. At the time of writing, David Cameron has just announced a new “supply chain finance” scheme, allowing banks to release funds to SMEs once their client has notified their bank of their intention to settle an invoice. This could potentially alleviate many of the short-term cashflow problems faced by small businesses. Details are not yet forthcoming; however, this scheme could be one to keep an eye on.
There are whole rafts of employment measures coming into force in 2013, which all
“New rules and regulations are being introduced on a regular basis”
“Early and effective communication is key”
business owners must be aware of. As with the financial rules, we will likely find out a few more headline changes during the 2013 Budget. The Government has already set a specific date for many legislative changes, or at the least promised an introduction in 2013. These are some of the major new measures we know about: The introduction of pension auto-enrolment will continue for larger businesses throughout 2013. Pension auto-enrolment is designed to ensure more employees are saving responsibly for their retirement by paying into a pension scheme. Employee pension contributions (which must be a minimum of 3% of their monthly pay packet) will begin automatically after 12 weeks of employment, and will be topped up by additional payments from their employer and the Government. The scheme started some time ago, and is being rolled out over several years (it won’t be fully rolled-out until 2018), starting with larger businesses. During 2013, businesses with between 500 and 50,000 employees will have to start auto-enrolling their workers. For specific dates, search for “Pension auto-enrolment staging dates” online. If your business’ staging date is in 2014, or even 2015, next year could still be the time to start thinking about auto-enrollment. Tim Jones, chief executive of the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) estimates it will take businesses 18 months to fully prepare for the introduction of their schemes, and that some larger businesses already operating an auto-enrolment scheme took two years to get it in place. Early, effective communication is key – a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) late last year revealed that only 53% of employees had even heard of pension auto-enrolment. A separate survey just a few weeks
ago indicated that number had risen only slightly, to 61%, despite TV advertising campaigns starring Theo Paphitis. Another big change is that, by March 2013, the amount of parental leave available to full-time employees will have increased from three months to four. Parental leave allows parents to take unpaid time off work to take care of childrearing duties such as visiting schools, or simply to spend more time with their kids. By summer 2013, the Government is also planning to introduce fees for employees to take their employer to Tribunal. These fees are designed to encourage employment disputes to be settled during mediation, and to discourage employees from bringing frivolous claims to Tribunal. Critics claim these changes erode employees’ rights, and could lead to more breaches of low-paid workers’ rights, as their employer will know they cannot afford to take them to Tribunal. At some point next year (the precise date is still undecided at the time of writing) the Government will introduce “protected conversations”. This provides a mechanism for employers to have “off the record” discussions with their employees, which cannot be used as evidence should the employee attempt to claim for unfair dismissal. If it is not derailed, next year will also see the introduction of George Osborne’s controversial “shares for rights” scheme, where employees can trade their unfair dismissal, redundancy and other rights in return for shares in their company. More changes will undoubtedly be announced in 2013, changes that will have an impact on how you run your business. Keep your ear to the ground, seek expert advice where necessary, and you should be just fine! Contact: www.crunch.co.uk
038_039 2012 Finance.ga.indd 39
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Focus on money PAYROLL CHANGES
ARE YOU READY? Have you heard of RTI? While you certainly should have done, it turns out a worrying number of you remain oblivious to the biggest payroll change to happen in 70 years. Never fear, our RTI special is here…
recent study by the All-Party Parliamentary Taxation Group (APPTG) found that only 34% of respondents had heard of Real Time Information (RTI), and those that had didn’t really understand the repercussions it would have on their business. Ouch. Considering RTI is quite literally the biggest thing to hit payroll since PAYE in 1944, you’d think people would have sat up and taken notice a little more. So, just in case you are one of those bemused 34% (and there’s no shame if you are), what is this mysterious RTI? According to HMRC, from April 2013, employers will be
legally required to report PAYE in real time. This means that information about all PAYE payments needs to be submitted to HMRC online each time a payment is made as part of the payroll process, rather than at the end of the year as they are at the moment. Simple, right? WRONG. This will have a huge impact on businesses of all shapes and sizes across the UK, and you need to start preparing now if you want to be ready for the coming changes. Luckily, we’ve gathered expert advice and info from IRIS Software Group, providers of software and accountancy solutions to UK SMEs for over 30 years, to make sure you’re clued up and ready to roll come the spring.
041_049 RTI.ga.indd 41
Focus on money PAYROLL CHANGES
Always be prepared Why bother to prepare for RTI? Good question. Here’s an octet of very good reasons
1. Not all payroll software will
be RTI compliant There are an increasing number of payroll software providers who are announcing that their current software will not be RTI compliant by the time the change occurs, and many smaller companies are ceasing trading as they cannot get their products prepared in time.
2. It’s NOT optional
New PAYE schemes set up from November 2012 should start
submitting RTI from the time they register the scheme, and all businesses with 5,000 or fewer employees must start reporting in real time to HMRC by April 2013.
3. You are responsible
Employers will still be responsible for all tax deductions and calculations but will have to submit this data to HMRC whenever they make a payroll run (weekly, fortnightly, or monthly), rather than once a year.
4. There are new processes to learn Year-end process will be changing (no more P14s or P35s), and new starters and leavers will now be reported via a system called a Full Payment Submission. 5. Added pressure
With pension reforms occurring at the same time as the introduction of RTI, large numbers of customers will be requiring upgrades and training. This added pressure on software providers and accountants means training resources and consultancy fees will be at a premium in the first quarter of 2013. A recent survey at IRIS World found that almost two thirds of accountants are planning to increase fees due to RTI.
6. Data accuracy is key
There are a number of implications for both employers and employees if incorrect data is submitted to HMRC.
Employers: • More time spent dealing with employees and their tax affairs • Increase in the amount of tax code update rejections • Missing data could lead to your submission being rejected Employees: • Could be incorrectly taxed in-year • Risk seeing over- or underpayments produced in the future • Could affect the accuracy of universal credit calculations and employee’s entitlement to a state pension
7. A happy workforce
If you do not comply with RTI, your employees could be taxed the wrong amount and subsequently under- or overpaid throughout the year – and this could lead to a pretty disgruntled work force.
8. You face financial penalties
And just in case you needed even more persuading, fines of up to £2,000 could be incurred for late or incorrect submissions of data to HMRC. All info must be submitted on or before each payroll run. There is no escaping; RTI is happening and it will affect you. The best thing to do is to get educated, fast, so that you can plan ahead to make the transition smoother!
To find out more information about Real Time Information, download the IRIS Software Group’s free RTI guide.
40 January 2013
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Focus on money PAYROLL CHANGES
Keeping it real… HMRC is in the process of implementing the biggest change to payroll since PAYE was first introduced in 1944. Real Time Information (RTI) will affect companies of all sizes and will be compulsory for all businesses with 5,000 or fewer employees from 6 April 2013. In the more immediate future, HMRC has recommended that start-ups begin the migration to RTI compliancy from 1 November 2012 onwards. Under the new guidelines, employers will no longer be able to just submit records to HMRC at the end of the financial year; starting from April, data will have to be reported on or before each payroll run (be that weekly, fortnightly or monthly). According to HMRC, the overall aims of RTI are to reduce burdens on employers, improve tax and benefit administration, and improve the overall taxpayer and employer experience. Once the change has been implemented, and companies have had time to adjust their payroll processes, this may be the case: but the action of migrating to RTI
“Almost two thirds of business process outsourcing providers said they were planning to increase fees”
compliant payroll software and processes is likely to cause many businesses a wide range of issues. If you are currently running your payroll in-house, you will need to ensure that you fully understand the legislation and the new processes you will have to start undertaking. There are four new processes that need to be implemented by employers when reporting information in real time: 1. First there is an Employee Alignment Submission (EAS), and this is a one off for each PAYE reference. HMRC wants this to be submitted before any further data, signifying you have officially joined the RTI scheme. 2. A Full Payment Submission (FPS) will include a range of employee data, year to date and payment values and must be reported every time a payment is made. 3. Employer Payment Submissions (EPS) will replace current P35s and will inform HMRC of any reductions to be made to the values in an FPS, or if there is no payment made for a specific period.
4. The final new process is a National Insurance Verification Request (NVR), which can be sent by employers to trace a national insurance number or confirm if one is correct. Another issue currently being faced by employers across the country is whether or not their payroll software supplier will be prepared for RTI. A growing number of suppliers are announcing that some of their products will not be compliant with the new legislation by April (Sage has already announced its intention to retire its TAS software due to this issue). Certain smaller companies are even having to withdraw due to the fact that they cannot cope with the transition to RTI (Payexcel has ceased trading after 10 years because of this). Companies who outsource their payroll will still face issues with the implementation of RTI; one of the biggest of these being a potential increase in prices. A recent survey IRIS conducted found that almost two thirds of business process outsourcing (BPO) providers said they were
041_049 RTI.ga.indd 47
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“It is vital that you understand the legislation”
planning to increase fees due to the added work RTI would involve. Furthermore, 36% of respondents view the legislation as a “headache”, with another 29% seeing it as “unnecessary red tape”. The amount of planned price increases varied, with some firms only planning increases of 2-5%, while others are intending to raise their fees by up to 100%. If your business does outsource payroll, it is important to speak to your BPO as soon as possible and find out if it is planning to increase its prices. If it is, it could be a good idea to see if you could save money by running your own payroll in-house. HMRC has also recently released information about two potential penalty schemes to be put in place for employers who submit late filings or late payments from April. These penalties are set to be issued automatically, with penalties also being issued manually for incorrect submissions. HMRC stated that it wants the new penalty regime to be ‘as simple as possible’ to encourage compliance and for the penalties to be ‘fair, effective and influence behaviour’. For late filing there was a basic and advanced penalty model announced: the basic model involves an immediate fine at the default date, with penalties received for each individual default. More penalties would follow for outstanding returns at the six- and twelve-month points. The advanced model would see penalties based on the size of the employer instead of the defaults. A warning would be issued in place of the first penalty, with future penalties going out quarterly, rather than instantly like the basic model. For late payments, HMRC only intends to amend the existing penalty model, not change it completely. The suggested amendments included: automatic penalties on a monthly or quarterly
basis; fixing the penalty level to the number of defaults in the financial year; changing the date for late penalties to the day after the due date; and altering the legislation to reduce excessive penalties. HMRC is still in discussions about these schemes, and is planning to release further updates soon. As mentioned earlier, regardless of whether you run your payroll in-house or outsource it, RTI will still have an effect on you and your business, so it is vital that you understand the legislation. HMRC urged employers in October to start preparing, but recent polls have shown that a quarter of small businesses are still oblivious to the imminent arrival of RTI. With pension reforms occurring at the same time as the introduction of RTI, demand is only going to increase and training and consultancy fees could reach a premium in the first quarter of 2013. It is vital that employers educate themselves on the legislation as soon as possible in order to make the transition in April less of an upheaval.
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Focus on money FINANCIAL FORECASTING
Creating a realistic picture of the sales and profits of your business can be harder than it looks. Martin Spiller, a partner with Jenson Solutions and angel investor, explains why financial forecasting is more an art than a science
n the last two months, my colleagues and I have been fortunate enough to participate in a number of investor forums and have seen pitches from a variety of sources, including MBA classes, start-ups and established businesses seeking development capital. It has proved beyond any doubt that entrepreneurialism is alive and well, and the energy, enthusiasm and creativity on display has been nothing short of inspirational. The consistent issue, seen in a majority of cases, has been the quality of the financial forecasts presented, in particular the headline sales and profit forecasts. Almost without fail the predicted performance of the businesses has been incredible. Yet, far from exciting the investors in the room, it has often served to undermine the otherwise
excellent presentations, raising real issues for the entrepreneur to overcome. There is a fine line between being positive when forecasting and being unrealistic, and it is vital to understand that far from being a science, financial forecasting is an art form: when painting the picture for investors, there are a number of key points to consider.
Start at the top
Creating credible financial forecasts starts with revenue. If sales are not carefully considered, then no matter how good the remaining assumptions, the business plan is likely to be doomed to fail; especially in terms of securing investment. The most common mistakes include: • Assuming sales will be “instantly on” from the beginning of the business, when in reality it takes time,
resources and effort to build a customer base. • Adopting a bottom up approach, whereby the expenses of the business are forecast and sales are added as a balancing figure required for the business to be viable. Invariably this creates issues, as with no reference to any market data, the projections are usually wildly optimistic. • Incorporation of the “magic hockey stick” where relatively slow revenues are suddenly transformed by an unexplained revolutionary breakthrough. In reality this rarely occurs, and most investors have seen it presented far too many times to be anything less than sceptical. There are a number of steps an entrepreneur can take to improve the accuracy of their projections: • Reviewing companies in comparable sectors or which
“Common sense has a strong role to play”
051_052 financial forcasting-1.ga.indd 51
Focus on money FINANCIAL FORECASTING
operate in industries with similar characteristics. A vast quantity of data is available from accounts, IPO documents, brokers notes or sector reviews. • Analysing independent industry reports to sense check planned market growth and market share by reference to the overall market size. • Running alternative scenarios, known as sensitivity analysis, to appraise the effect of delays or failing to achieve forecast sales, e.g. plans to review the effect of 10%, 25% and 50% reductions. For existing businesses, particularly those with a B2B focus, our approach is to critically appraise and segment the sales pipeline by: • Only including customers with signed contracts or those in the final stages of doing so at 100% of their contract value. • Discounting probably or highly likely customers to around 50%-75% of the contract value to reflect likely dropout. • Including early stage opportunities at a maximum of 25% of the likely sales value. Any increase on this should be approached with caution and would normally require detailed justification. If any of the assumptions underpinning the final forecasts are significantly different to the industry and comparable company data gathered, then it must be explained and supporting evidence provided.
It’s all about the margin
The next critical area is profit margin. As most early stage businesses fail as a result of cash flow difficulties, accurate cost forecasting and management is a critical skill. Our suggestion is to start by comparing the forecast gross margin to similar businesses or the sector average. Any significant variations should be reviewed, and justifications for the differences prepared and critically assessed. This is particularly important for start-ups, as the absence
THE BIG FIVE 1. Do not make claims that cannot be substantiated 2. Use a top down approach and try to avoid the “magic hockey stick” breakthrough 3. Use common sense when comparing forecasts to company, sector or market data. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is
4. Be sensible and cautious with cost forecasts as getting these wrong can be fatal 5. Make sure everything adds up, that percentages are properly calculated, and if
data is copied from other programmes, that all the links have correctly transposed
“There is a fine line between being positive and being unrealistic”
of historic data means care must be taken when forecasting materially different margins to existing businesses which may already benefit from economies of scale and efficiencies not necessarily available to newer entrants. Trading businesses should be cautious of making wholesale improvements in gross margin, as investors will critically assess these claims. Credibility and attractiveness are immeasurably enhanced by a considered and detailed analysis of where improvements will be made, and supporting evidence is critical.
Watch the overheads
Operating costs often cause particular issues and offer a number of pitfalls to unwary entrepreneurs. Perhaps because of the advent of technology, less care appears to go into forecasting overheads of the business than ever before. Common mistakes include: • Failure to account for employers’ National Insurance contributions within wages and salaries, a significant omission given that it adds to 13.8% of additional cost to the business. • Maintaining an unrealistic cost base structure over the forecast period, especially with regard to directors’ salaries, costs of attracting and retaining key staff, and core fixed costs, such as rent. • Incorrect treatment or omission of key items, such as bad debts, depreciation, and provisions for contingencies.
Common sense has a strong role to play. For example, in a business plan reviewed recently, the forecasts suggested that directors’ salaries would, after five years of hard work, remain at the current level of £30,000 per director, despite sales increasing from £150,000 to over £24m. While the employees increased from four to a forecast 95, rent expense remained constant throughout based on the year one serviced office cost. All of which was immediately exposed by the improvement of operating margins from a healthy 21% to an unbelievable 45%, and which was fully endorsed by a confident MD, at least until the errors were revealed to him.
Financial forecasting is not a straightforward task. There are a number of factors to consider, and a lot of potential errors to make. Most critically, in seeking to attract investors, entrepreneurs have a fine line to tread to ensure that they attract investment without making claims that are unrealistic.
Particular thanks in the writing of this article go to Andrew Harwood, a partner with Jenson Solutions, for his invaluable input and assistance.
Contact: www.jensonsolutions.com Twitter @MartinRSpiller
48 January 2013
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Focus on money CAREFUL CONTRACTS
Before you sign on the dotted line… This month NaviStar Legal founder, Jo Rogers, advises us on minimising the impact of our material agreements another serious effect such as insolvency or (at the most severe) have criminal sanctions imposed.
“Implement processes to minimise the impact of those agreements on your business”
The likelihood that an agreement will come to an end is then also rated on a scale from one (unlikely to end) to four (may imminently come to an end).
A “material agreement” for any company is usually an agreement, transaction or commitment (verbal or written), that has a value, length or is of a type that would be likely to cause substantial, irreparable, financial or reputational damage to a company if it came to an end. It is good practice to determine which agreements are “material” in your business in advance and to implement processes to minimise the impact of those agreements on your business.
What is a material agreement?
A material agreement is likely to be an agreement that either: • Contains high liability for the company • Contains a special discount for customers • Has a fixed term of more than six months • Cannot be terminated within 60 days (with or without payment) • Is unusual or abnormal in nature such as a joint venture agreement • Has an aggregate sales value
representing in excess of 10% of the anticipated turnover of the company in the next 12 months. You can use the following simple formula to consider the risk of any agreement: potential costs x likelihood = risk
The potential cost is an estimate of the costs that may be incurred if the agreement comes to an end. This may include any financial costs (including lawyer fees, fines or penalties) as well as the cost of someone’s time to deal with the issues or repair your reputation. You can rate each agreement on a scale of costs from one (low risk) to four (devastating risk). Depending on the size of the company, a “low risk” agreement could cost a maximum of £100; it would not cause the loss of any additional clients and would require a minimal amount of anyone’s time. A “devastating risk” agreement could cost the company £100,000+, or have
Clearly, those agreements rated ‘16’ will have a higher impact on your business and need minimising further than those rated as ‘1’. Depending on your company’s appetite for risk, you can then agree internal approval processes for the signing, monitoring, and immediate resolution of issues relating to these agreements. For example: • If there is more than one decision-maker in your company, then decide not to allow material agreements to be signed without review by at least two decision-makers • You may want to have all material agreements to be drafted (or at least reviewed) by a commercial lawyer before they are signed • You may want to consider taking out insurance (if available) You will certainly never eliminate all legal risks in business, but determining and mitigating material agreements is a good start. Contact: www.navistarlegal.com
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Focus on Rich With
Branson, ’Bucks and the Big Smoke
Who came out on top, and who had a serious PR fail in 2012? Branding boffin Rich With kickstarts his first column of 2013 with a look at the lessons we can learn from what went down last year So it’s the start of a whole new year, and we’re all flush with enthusiasm about how we can take our brands forward in 2013. But before we all leap in with both feet, let’s see what we can learn from last year. If you were looking to piss off hipsters in 2012, then your branding role model was surely Starbucks. Even though it was brought before the Public Accounts Committee alongside Amazon and Google on tax avoidance queries, it managed to take the brunt of the flack (probably because the public still need to buy Christmas presents, but they can find somewhere else to drink their coffee). The “Branding Whiz Who Looks Like he Slept in his Car” Award goes to Mike Dubin of Dollarshaveclub.com. Who’d have thought that the year’s best viral marketing campaign would be promoting monthly subscriptions for razors? 2013 is going to be about content marketing more than ever. The John Lewis Award for Christmas Campaigns goes to…surprisingly, John Lewis. Another spectacular end-ofyear campaign that can be summed up as “snowmanon-a-promise” has meant the firm and ad men, Adam & Eve/ DDB, could pat themselves on the back this crimbo. As well as the ad, there was also a social media campaign (#snowmanjourney) and in-
store promotions to carry the brand forward. To the public, Richard Branson is essentially “God’s Vicar in Charge of Entrepreneurship”, so he can hardly do any wrong. As well as pushing his Virgin Galactic brand forward, he continued to thumb his nose at big business and even Government in 2012. Pointing out the serious flaws in the West Coast mainline bid process, and then gallantly stepping in while giving all the profits to charity, should see the Virgin brand still holding a place in people’s hearts in 2013. The London brand is the star of 2012. The World’s Greatest City™ held a soggy jubilee weekend, a bonkers Olympics, and a lifeaffirming Paralympics – and it even managed to host a future unborn King or Queen. 2012 was truly London’s year, and it achieved all of this with wit, gusto and panache (and thankfully no major traffic cock-ups).
“The public still need to buy Christmas presents, but they can find somewhere else to drink their coffee”
So what can us SMEs learn from these brands? At face level it’s fairly obvious: good customer service, a cracking philanthropic attitude and a big hunk of creativity. But look deeper and there’s always two sides to the story. Tax avoidance is carried out on a far greater scale by organisations that don’t just sell coffee for a start. Some would argue that it’s all a question of PR, but even the best PR can’t hide the truth for ever. My own highly insightful advice for your brand in 2013 is this: be creative, content led, use social media properly and think what you can give to your clients. And while you’re at it, best to steer clear of working for drug barons too. Happy New Year. Contact: www.gohoot.co.uk
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Trading online is one of the biggest things in business today? “Why?” We hear you say, “But how” we hear you cry? Check out these statistics to see why e-commerce is the biggest thing in business today and how we can help your business grow
10 Amazing Statistics About E-commerce
“The UK is globally No.1 for e-commerce.” — Wall Street Journal “The value of e-commerce in the UK is £485 billion with a 15% growth rate” — UK ONS “The average UK online shopper spends £3,370 per year” — WorldPay “85% of the European online population has purchased goods online” — Mashable “Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba made $3billion sales in one day” — China Daily “B2B sales account for 85% of total e-commerce spend” — The Drum “If you do e-commerce, then for every £1 you import, you export £2.80” — BBC “INDEZ clients export in volume to over 70 countries” — INDEZ “The average turnover of INDEZ clients grew 70% last year” — INDEZ E-commerce sales via INDEZ clients totaled eight figures in 2012:
Jenier Teas Just one B2B sale was worth £0.5m
Zero to eight figure turnover in 5 years
Have trebled sales in last nine months
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Focus on strategy 2013: THE YEAR AHEAD
The year ahead David Sturges, chief operating officer at hosted desktop company, WorkPlaceLive, discusses what companies can do to ensure their business remains competitive in 2013
hile figures show the UK officially came out of recession in the third quarter of this year, the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, has warned that the UK economy risks suffering a triple-dip recession next year. This is traditionally a time of year when business owners are planning budgets for the year ahead, and questioning the seemingly impossible dilemma of how to increase efficiency and also keep costs down. Tough trading conditions are predicted for the next few years and this factor, combined with more dynamic players in the market and demanding clients, means companies need to ensure they do all they can to stay ahead of the game. According to business leaders around the world, technology is the single most important differentiator for successful organisations; a view that is
“Adapting working culture is going to be the key to success”
held by 75% of 1,709 business people that took part in the 2012 IBM Global CEO Study. BT Business has recently predicted that the “move to the Cloud” and the “consumerisation of IT” are the two megatrends that will transform the way businesses think about their IT. So what can businesses take from this, and how can they ensure they remain successful and competitive in 2013?
Changing work patterns
Advances in technology should have made our working lives easier. However, the fact that smart phones, tablets and laptops are pretty much constant companions, even when people are away from the office, means that many people are working 24/7 and that work will fall apart if they are not constantly online. These devices do allow flexible working for many people, which can help
improve productivity; however, businesses need to ensure their employees are working more smartly but not necessarily longer hours, just because they have the potential to be available 24/7. British workers clock up some of the longest hours in Europe – averaging around 42.7 hours a week – which many believe isn’t good for our health. Research by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that those working days that were longer than the traditional eight hours had a 40-80% greater chance of heart disease. The same research team also found longer hours meant an increased risk of dementia in later life. Equally, clients are becoming more demanding and expect faster responses from businesses and better customer service. All of this has meant that working patterns in Britain have changed, with a move
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Focus on strategy 2013: THE YEAR AHEAD
away from the traditional nineto-five office day. Increasingly, employees need to access data and answer emails away from the main companyâ€™s office, or even respond out of office hours. However, to date, UK businesses have been reluctant to promote flexible working, and research has shown that the UK lags behind countries such as Finland, Sweden, Australia and the United States in offering flexible working arrangements. Research of 2,000 workers from Skype and You Gov earlier this year found that 70% of people want to work from home more often, but over half of these worked for companies where this was not allowed. With more employees demanding greater flexibility from their employers, companies will soon have to start adapting to support flexible working. A recent study by analysts Gartner revealed that 84% of organisations in the UK have a remote workforce to some degree, and this trend is set to continue.
We are also increasingly becoming a global economy, which means many businesses need to have their workforce available at all times of the day in order to compete. UK executives are also travelling more frequently. According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the UK has the second highest level of spending on business travel in Western Europe, with $40.2bn spent in 2011. GBTA also predicts a 2.3% increase in spend on domestic business travel in 2013 and a 3.9% increase in international outbound business travel. A growing number of companies are therefore considering offering flexible working, and are turning to solutions such as virtual hosted desktops to support their increasingly nomadic workforce. To ensure
that employees can access their files on the move, these kind of cloud computing technologies are much more reliable than simply using broadband, and are less costly, especially when overseas. Employees with a hosted virtual desktop are able to access all their files and emails from any device with an Internet connection anywhere in the world, which means that productivity levels and workloads are never compromised by business travel.
One small company that has recently expanded its business following the implementation of a hosted desktop solution is IT recruitment company, Nicholas International. Founded seven years ago, the company has a head office in London, but has added offices in Paris and, more recently, Poland. The company has expanded rapidly and has 25 consultants, many of whom travel extensively. The move to a hosted desktop service has allowed its consultants to work seamlessly while on the move, improving productivity and business performance. One of the key attractions for the firm was getting rid of its servers and no longer having to do any IT administration, including software updates and IT security management, as well as having all three offices on the same IT system.
â€œCompanies need to ensure they do all they can to stay ahead of the gameâ€?
can support flexible and remote working, enabling employees to be productive from any location. Adapting their working culture and embracing new technologies is going to be the key to success for many companies over the coming years. Those that do so will reap the rewards, especially as the economy starts to grow, and they will be in a much better position to compete on the global stage. Contact: www.workplacelive.com
With the Bank of England only forecasting 1% growth for the UK economy and the world economy predicted to remain sluggish for many years, it seems we are not out of the woods yet. Companies need to do all they can to ensure they survive in what has been the longest economic downturn in history. The good news is that advances in technology have made it increasingly straightforward for companies to implement an IT system that
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Focus on strategy CULTURE
It’s a culture thing René Carayol, chairman of Inspired Thinking Group and respected business guru, argues that, when it comes to building a successful business, culture beats strategy every time
t can be tempting for businesses to overemphasise the focus on strategy, while inadvertently underplaying the power of culture. I would argue that culture is in fact more important than strategy. Culture is all about the psychology, actions and beliefs of a group of people. I believe there are two definitions of the kind of culture that creates momentum for any business. The first one is: “Culture is what happens when
the CEO leaves the room”. The second definition is: “The way we get things done around here.” It is all about the attitude of those working for your company. The most important thing about culture is that it’s the only sustainable point of difference for any organisation. Anyone can copy your strategy, but nobody can copy your culture. So why would you leave it untended? The values of any business should be nurtured and used
“It is better to take attitude over skills every time. We hire for attitude, we train for skills”
to define and then enforce the culture of a company. The best businesses are the ones that have a culture that has grown to be bigger and stronger than any one individual. If your culture is strong, it gains power through inspiring your people to conform to it. It becomes the thing that links everyone together, no matter what department they’re in. If your people become engaged with the company, the strategy is more likely to be “owned” by all and focused upon. Culture is ITG’s biggest weapon; it is the fuel that drives the whole business forward. It is our culture, not just our strategy that makes us brilliant. In employing new talent, you have to be discerning in what you’re looking for. I would suggest that it is better to take attitude over skills every time. We hire for attitude, we train for skills. It is more beneficial to hire someone with the right mind-set who will fit in with the culture of your company, than someone with strong skills and great experience, but an inappropriate mind-set. The banks have been going wrong, perhaps because they are far too focused on individual success rather than a teambased culture. They’ve become too profit-centric, rather than customer-centric. No industry is exempt from the importance of culture, which is a key part of a brand’s reputation. The selling off of Lloyds’ 632 branches to the Co-operative Bank may well prove this. Co-op stands for values. Virgin Money’s acquisition of Northern Rock will again bring their values to the fore. I think that we’re starting to see clear shifts now. If you ask people the question, ‘Who would you want to bank with, Lloyds bank or Google?’ They’d probably choose Google. If you said, ‘Royal Bank of Scotland or Apple?’, they’d probably choose Apple. We are going to see some interesting collaborations in the future, where the “front end” might be a supermarket and the
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Focus on strategy CULTURE
“back end” might be a traditional bank. It will take many years for the banks to lose the stigma of the last five years. The biggest shift we’re seeing is from product-centricity to customercentricity. The companies that just push products will wither away; the companies that have clear values and seek to discover what the customer wants, and then deliver it, will win. Some companies have managed to get the balance of being performance-driven and values-led spot on. Google is one of those companies. They are hugely performance-driven, but if you speak to their people, they love working for Google. One of Google’s mantras is: ‘Don’t be evil.’ I think they have been able to successfully embed this in much of their organisation. Virgin, and maybe more surprisingly, McDonald’s, have also managed to nurture a strong set of values throughout their organisations. In creating an inspirational culture, successes must be celebrated. At ITG we spontaneously celebrate every success. One of the most valuable parts of our culture is that we focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. We catch people doing the right things and shout about it. The only reason why we would be interested in mistakes is because we can learn from them. This culture has to originate somewhere though. It doesn’t just happen. It is a leader’s responsibility to identify a cultural vision for the company, to live and breathe it themselves, and then help to steer the rest of the company in the right direction. Culture comes directly from the behaviour of the leaders, and it is their duty to involve and inspire the whole organisation. You show me a risk-averse leader, and I’ll show you a riskaverse business. You show me a risk-embracing leader, and I’ll show you a risk-embracing business. So Branson’s businesses will always be
“Anyone can copy your strategy, but nobody can copy your culture”
risk-embracing, Mervin King’s businesses will always be riskaverse and cautious. Having Bob Diamond as a leader means it’s going to be seriously profit-embracing, and fairly audacious – it’s not necessarily breaking the rules, but it might well be bending them. If you’re going to change your culture, you have to start at the top. You’ve got to use symbols of success and symbols of change by bringing in people who exemplify the cultural behaviour that you’re looking for. Bring in people with high values, people who don’t expect a bonus for doing the right thing. Bring in people who think about the customer, people who care about their people. The
rest of the business will then start to change. Close proximity to a positive role model is a very powerful driver of change. The rise of the discerning customer and the fragmentation of the media have made culture even more important. Anyone with a mobile phone and Internet connection is now effectively a member of the paparazzi, a photographer and a blogger. The messages individuals and consumers are exposed to have changed. Before, if one customer was really upset with your product or your service they would write you a letter, or maybe even email you. That kind of complaint was containable. One tweet, however, can easily
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Talk the talk with these great call handling services for your customer calls! If you have customers calling you on your phone then here is a list of some handy tools out there that are available for your company. It doesn’t matter if you are a one man band or a large multinational business, these are all affordable services that do not require any kit and will make your life a lot easier.
1) IVR (Interactive Voice Response) – The recorded auto attendant doesn’t have to be dreaded. Set up your departments so callers can choose which department they want to be put through to by audio or key pad choices. Don’t make them too long and convoluted. 2) Call queuing – Don’t miss those all important customer calls. The worst thing a caller can get is an engaged tone. Queue your customer calls and direct them to the correct person. Just make sure you have enough staff to answer as people don’t want to queue for too long. That’s bad! 3) Fax to email – be greener and cleaner. Don’t
waste paper. Its far more secure and you can save your faxes electronically.
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4) Time of day routing – If you’re open Mon to Fri
9am to 5pm then route all out of hours calls to another call centre, voicemail or even to your mobile. Stay in touch with your calls.
5) Diverts on busy – your main line busy? Then divert to another line or even to a mobile if you’re out of the office. Set calls to multi out dial to the whole team so the first one to answer gets the call. Great for home workers. 6) Call whisper – we love this service. Record an audio prompt that only you hear while customers hear the ring tone when a call is made through your business number so you know how to answer the call. Great if you use your personal mobile for business calls. These are just a few facilities you can employ on your phone system which are easy to set up and use. Be in touch with your calls, your customers and your phones. To demo any of these services and see how you can get your business connected speak to Direct Numbers today.
Every Visit Counts E
very website needs a purpose, a reason for existence. The days of brochureware are well and truly over with the adoption of multiple device access and the merging of online and offline into a single user experience. A site needs a goal and that goal needs to be measured and monitored. But if you ask site owners, I’d bet you the vast majority will give you a narrow vision of their expectations. “It’s there to sell,” or “It’s an enquiry generation tool” would be common responses. But if you ran your business on such a narrow footing, you’d be out on the street in no time at all.
Over the next few months, I’ll be looking at how to put your website at the centre of all that you do making it an invaluable business tool, bringing down cost of sale and increasing ROI. The great thing is that none of the techniques I’ll be discussing are bank breaking. Many are common sense, but if you do them well, you’ll surprise yourself at the difference they make. To simplify the processes, I’ve broken them into six areas and each month, we’ll tackle a new area. These will be: Acquire We’ll discuss how best to attract traffic to your site. We’ll look at search engines (and their fickleness!), devices and the impact of mobile. We’ll look at other traffic sources and how to best leverage them profitably both online and offline.
Convert With the majority of websites converting at under 2%, you have to ask, what happens to the other 98%? What could you do to sway that figure in your favour and just imagine the impact it would have on your bottom line. Delight If I buy a product or service, I expect to receive what I bought. The occasions that stand out are when a supplier has gone beyond the expected. Normally, it isn’t a grandiose gesture, but a simple thoughtful, yet low cost, addition to what I was expecting. It is those occasions that we all remember and it is those suppliers we are likely to return to. Everlasting Custom It is common knowledge that selling to existing customers is easier and more profitable than recruiting a new
customer, but just what can you do to encourage repeat business? Whatever you are selling, how can you change your customer from one off purchasers to consumers of what you provide? Friendly Referral There’s nothing better than receiving a call out of the blue saying “a client of yours told me I had to call you!” You know you are half way to a successful deal already. In this article, we will look at some tools and techniques which will help, enable and encourage existing customers to put their networks in touch with you. None of this is rocket science. It is simply a methodology of reflecting how you do business in the real world more accurately in the virtual. But it is a process. It takes time to implement and evaluate. It needs to be measured, monitored and refined. It doesn’t come entirely without cost, either financial or as an investment in time, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Peter Clapperton Searchsmith Director
Searchsmith is a team of digital marketing experts who work with clients across a range of sectors and sizes to expand their digital marketing horizons and increase their ROI.
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Befriend Many websites sell too hard, too fast. As the majority of surfers are in research mode, this can be a real turn off. If I’m not ready to buy, I will not appreciate you stuffing your product or service down my throat! In this article, we will look at different techniques you can use to add real value and turn yourself into a trusted advisor rather than a common salesman.
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Focus on strategy CULTURE
“If you’re going to change your culture, you have to start at the top”
hit 100,000 people. You can no longer simply say: ‘Oh, we’ll deal with that next week.’ Businesses must now wear their hearts on their sleeves, and demonstrate their values openly and honestly. It is so much better that you listen to the initial whispers on social media: otherwise you’re going to have to listen to the crowd shouting. There’s no hiding place anymore. So the question is: how do businesses cope with this? I
once ran a conference where the brand director from Orange was speaking. He said their most helpful method of understanding how customers felt was through a website that they had set up. On this website they posted every single complaint that Orange received via social media, on paper, email or telephone. It was their most popular website because it gave the brand an air of transparency. They published
the things that went wrong and customers were able to share how they thought they could put this right. Honesty with your customers is a crucial part of a values-led culture. I believe this is the most effective method of customer-centricity that I have come across. The days of ‘we know best’ are officially over. If you’re not listening to your customers, someone else will. This is what ITG is built on – we think if we can listen to a customer and anticipate their needs then they will stay with us forever. If we get things wrong, we’re the first ones to tell our clients; they don’t have to find it out somewhere else. We’ve realised that people respect you for that. What they don’t respect is when there’s a problem and you haven’t told them. The culture of a company relies on there being a clear set of values, strong leadership and a sense of transparency and honesty between the company and the public. These factors will be the ones that differentiate your company in times of austerity and increased competition. Of course strategy is important, but this must be accompanied by a strong culture if lasting success is to be won. To become truly durable, your company must inspire every single one of your people and win a place in the hearts of the public. By far the best way to achieve this is through culture.
René, born in Gambia, has served as an executive on the board of directors for companies including Pepsi, IPC Media and the Inland Revenue, and in 2004 won an MBE for outstanding service to the business community. He has now established himself as a business guru and has worked with world famous leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton. Contact: www.inspiredthinkinggroup.com
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PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS FROM COPYCATS – A GUIDE TO TRADEMARKS.
very year the average business in the UK will spend thousands on marketing, PR and branding. The success of this is often measured by your customer’s ability to distinguish your brand from your competitors. But since you’ve worked hard to build your brand to represent your businesses unique selling points, the question you must ask is how do you stop others from copying your brand and using it to their advantage? HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BRAND. A registered trademark will protect your brand name, company name or logo. Unfortunately having the domain name for your brand and the name registered at Companies House is not enough to prevent others from using it. WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER A TRADEMARK? One of the greatest risks for many businesses without a trademark is the risk of a new entrant or a competitor registering your name as a trademark before you. It’s precisely when times get tough that competitors and new entrants to the market will start looking at your brand and the way you do business to work out ways to copy or use it to their advantage. Many smaller businesses believe they don’t need trademark protection because it’s for bigger brands where there is something tangible to protect. It’s easy to forget that protecting the brand is one of the main reasons those
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companies got to where they are. A trademark will help your business protect the investment you make in its branding by turning it into a protectable asset. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? • Once registered, your trademark becomes an asset. Any investment you make in your business which uses your trademark will add to its value. The stronger and more successful your business becomes, the more valuable the trademark is. • Many banks recognise the value of trademarks as a business asset and will lend against them. • A trade mark can be sold, licensed, or franchised generating extra revenue for your business and is indeed one of the key things a potential investor will look for • You will have legal exclusivity to prevent a third party using the same or similar trademark without permission.
symbol on products, packaging and advertising that uses your trademark to deter third parties using your trademark. WHAT ARE THE COSTS? It costs a lot less than you would expect to protect your brand in the UK and EU with Watertight Legal’s total fees for expert advice, assistance and registration starting from £399. There are a number of legal requirements that need to be satisfied first before your trade mark can be registered. For extra peace of mind, Watertight Legal can provide a full trademark search and examination service to assess the feasibility of trademarking your brand before proceeding with a full registration. The fee for this service is £49. If you like the sound of highly professional and refreshingly modern legal support – and would prefer to pay a fixed-fee that’s not going to cost a fortune – then feel free to get in touch for a free, no obligation chat on 02380 011767 or visit www.watertightlegal.co.uk
• You will have greater power to take action against competing websites using a domain name that is similar or identical to your name. There have been cases in the past which have allowed trademark owners legal rights to prevent others using their trademark as a keyword on search engines. • You can use the registered ®
Focus on strategy BUSINESS GROWTH
n today’s uncertain economic climate, just keeping a business going can be a challenge. But people come to work because they want an interesting career and to make a difference, and so, by its nature, business demands progress: expanding market share, seeking opportunities, and pursuing new customers needs to be the goal.
From small acorns… Peter Gradwell, founder of leading telephony and Internet provider, Gradwell, shares his knowledge and experiences on how best to grow a business in today’s rapidly changing environment
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple – once you’ve had the idea, start a company around it as soon as you possibly can. This allows you to get into the right frame of mind and work out the commercial potential of your idea at an early stage – therefore laying the foundations for future growth. I started Gradwell while still studying and, while it was hectic, it gave me the business training and experience I needed to take my ideas forward with confidence. Starting a small enterprise doesn’t need to jeopardise a career and could potentially be the beginning of your own tailor-made career path. Next – task yourself to be the very best deliverer of your service you can be, and place your efforts firmly here, rather than being concerned with growing too fast. I taught myself how to design websites while at university, and I sold this service to others that I knew – therefore developing good, meaningful business relationships and getting a really good sense of the local market. After a while, I realised that selling my time would limit my workload capacity and therefore profit-making ability. I realised that as more and more websites coming online would create a need for more servers, so I started a web hosting service from my flat. It sounds obvious, but another crucial exercise is to very quickly identify and find paying
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Focus on strategy BUSINESS GROWTH
Peter’s top tips: • If you have a business idea, work out its commercial potential at the outset • If people are prepared to pay for your product or service, you need to be able to quickly deliver; this is where your focus should lie as you start out • Research your finance options, as whichever you choose can have a significant impact on how your business functions • Utilise your own knowledge and skills in the right ways as your business grows – and think carefully before ceding too much control customers – you don’t really have a company without people paying for your wares. Fourteen years ago, I was selling to a small number of customers from my bedroom. I successfully identified a niche audience and exploited my skills to give Gradwell dot com Ltd an advantage in the market. From its inception in 1998, Gradwell grew by at least 30% year on year; this meant that as demand grew, the need for more facilities and manpower to assist in meeting this demand needed to grow simultaneously. In order for me to be in a viable financial position, which would allow for a move out of the bedroom into the boardroom, I sold Gradwell’s domain name registration business and moved into telephony and VoIP services.
Finance for expansion
When looking for finance, the first option I would always recommend is to go to the bank. I sought a bank loan for Gradwell initially but was turned down, wanting to do too much too quickly, but this didn’t deter me – rather it made me focus on my business plan and forced me to work through those elements that represented the greatest risk. Of course banks don’t turn every new enterprise down, but the message is this: if your business plan contains significant elements of risk, you need to be prepared for rejection and to adjust things accordingly. An important element of growing is also around control
– and this has implications for which finance route you seek. When you’re starting out and looking to grow, you want to retain control of the strategy of the company, and this is a very healthy thing. A regular bank loan isn’t intrusive, and unless you have a very unsound business proposal is unlikely to have a major impact on exactly how your business develops, especially in the early years.
Funding: the alternatives
We’re all hearing more and more about angel investors and crowdsourcing right now – both of which certainly offer advantages. But any growing business needs to understand the ins and outs of either form of investment carefully. Crowdsourcing your funding is a really interesting new approach. It’s ideal where you need a fairly small amount, you have a business idea that is simple for investors to grasp, and the concept is proven. You need to do your homework when it comes to investors – there are lots of options out there and it’s worth spending the time to work out which one is right for you. You could end up securing an investment that means you gain a high level of involvement from the investor, and this may not be the best fit for your company. If SMEs are looking for a substantial sum, then it obviously makes sense to seek professional advice to discuss the available options – this is where a corporate finance
advisor can help. Good advice can be pivotal in financial decision-making because these people do speak a different language, and the structures are complicated. Finally, timing is an important consideration – attract investment too soon and your business idea might end up going down a quite different path to the one you originally envisaged. Ideally you want to get established and lay the right ground work first.
“An important element of growing is around control – and this has implications for which finance route you seek”
Funding is nothing without the right knowledge. I’ve always had a natural interest in technology and developing solutions for people where these haven’t before existed. Yet as Gradwell developed, my focus has been on being a good managing director – running the business, rather than just developing the technology. I’ve always been very clear here though, and maintained my technical knowledge at the edge of my field; I am of the firm opinion that having the technological knowledge, rather than purely the business experience, is what helps my company grow and be successful.
“Ideally you want to get established and lay the right ground work first”
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Focus on marketing
Taking back the testimonial
Our marketing columnist-in-residence, Kimberly Davis, is back, ready to help you kick-start your 2013 marketing strategy through the power of the testimonial
ne of the most effective and powerful marketing tools is the testimonial. It builds trust, credibility, and can sell a product or service better than any salesman. Yet very few companies are taking advantage and using this amazing resource. Most who do are using them ineffectively. In fact, most companies don’t use testimonials at all. Why not? Think about it…isn’t what someone else says about you so much more influential than what you say about yourself? Of course it is! No one wants to read your self promotion about how and why your product and services are the best. It’s hard to trust those words when they are coming out of your own mouth. What you need is an independent source, unaffiliated with your business, who had a problem similar to your target market, and whose life was made easier through your work. You need someone who is proud to shout about you from the rooftops. The best salesmen will always be your happiest and most loyal clients: but only if you motivate these people properly and use their feedback in the right way. Here are five things you need to know to make the most of your testimonials:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask
Clients are usually flattered that you value their feedback, and if they are happy with your products and services, then they will sincerely want you to succeed.
They will also be thrilled to know their company name will be listed on your website.
2. Don’t twist the truth – or
people’s words It might be tempting, but twisting the words of a testimonial to fit your needs is a bad idea. If your client sees this and is unhappy with your changes, no matter how small, it can destroy the relationship. If you need edits or updates, make sure you get permission from the source.
them everywhere: the home page of your website, in your bio, in e-shots and flyers, etc. Remember, what someone else says about you will always be more powerful than what you say about yourself.
To download more FREE MARKETING TIPS from Kimberly, visit her website. Contact: www.sarsaparillamarketing.com
3. Less is more
One of the common mistakes most businesses make is that they collect tons of testimonials and just think the more the merrier. Absolutely not. Quantity does not equal quality. The best testimonials are the ones that address and overcome the misconceptions that people have of your business.
“The best salesmen will always be your happiest and most loyal clients”
4. Write it for them
Your clients may want to help you, but writing a testimonial is just not at the top of their “to do” list. So why not make their life easier by writing out what you want them to say and using it as a suggestion when you write to them with the request?
5. Keep it short
Get straight to the point as quickly as possible. Keep your messages as short and sweet as possible for maximum impact. Once you’ve assembled your testimonials, be sure to use
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Focus on marketing ONLINE ADVERTISING
Online advertising can be a complicated affair for start-ups and SMEs. Sean Riley, CEO of global ad marketplace Ad Dynamo, guides us through the murky world of the Internet ad campaign…
Online minefield “They’re bombarded with a plethora of meaningless buzz words”
mall businesses, startups and entrepreneurs need online advertising companies to be straightup with them. ‘What’s your budget?’ is a question that has derailed an enormous amount of conversations new businesses have had with online ad companies. No business wants to hear it. They want to know how much a campaign costs up-front, and what they’ll get for that price. That’s it. They don’t want to feel that the online ad company is trying to squeeze whatever they can
out of them. New businesses need transparency, and unfortunately the online ad industry has become extremely adept at making things more opaque. That needs to change, and not just in terms of budget. New businesses investigating advertising online often find it difficult to get straight answers, both on budgets and exactly what an online ad campaign entails. Online advertising now has such complex targeting technologies, and offers so many various options,
that unless a small business somehow has in-house expertise it effectively gets shut out. Often they’re bombarded with a plethora of meaningless buzz words, awkward acronyms and bewildering terminology. It’s asking too much of new businesses to work out whether they should go for a CPC, CPA, CPM, behavioural or contextual campaign – or how to measure return on investment from the mountain of variables the online ad industry offers. With limited resources, smaller businesses can’t afford the time to learn even the meanings of these
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Focus on marketing ONLINE ADVERTISING
terms, let alone invest their time in the constant budget management and attention such campaigns demand. That doesn’t mean that small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs should miss out on the incredible benefits online ad campaigns deliver. As large advertisers depart trade magazines and local papers, print titles are disappearing. This means that businesses that want to do print advertising may not be offered a channel that accurately hits their market, which is where online advertising should be filling the gap. Smaller businesses should receive an easy transition into the digital environment that many print titles are migrating to. Instead, online ads have become so overwhelmingly complex that they’ve forcibly rooted many SMEs’ marketing activities in traditional forms, often resorting to expensive telemarketing or direct marketing via the increasingly costly postal service. Some just rely on their listing in the local phone directories. Potential customers spend more time on the Internet than ever, and it’s critical for businesses to reach potential customers in the online environment. Unfortunately, the online ad industry has been making this extremely difficult. As Ad Dynamo’s new research shows, three in five small- and medium-sized enterprises feel they don’t have the expertise, time or money for online ad campaigns. For a small business, start-up or entrepreneur to start running an effective online ad campaign, they need to follow these basic steps: • Define a marketing strategy Will people seeing the online advert be enough, or do customers need to click through to the website as well? • Define a brand identity Construct a corporate identity, with associated messages and values, to run through all ads.
• Design and make a banner Pull together visual and textual concepts for an online banner ad that’s compellingly clickable. • Decide where to place banners Figure out where online banner adverts will best reach the target audience. • Work out their budget commitment How much will it really cost for success? How long will it really take to see a good enough return? • Define a daily budget Log in every day to manage the budget, with flexibility to experiment to determine the best ROI. • Incorporate social media Ensure that the campaign hits people who are truly relevant to the business. These are just the basics. But even these steps require a level of expertise that’s beyond most business owners and managers, and certainly will take time to learn. What smaller businesses really need is for someone to do the work of running an effective and cost-efficient online ad campaign for them. Most new businesses know whether or not they want to prioritise getting people through to visit their website, or whether they want as many people as possible to see the ad. In fact, the only decision a small business, start-up or entrepreneur should really have to make about an online ad campaign is how big they want
it to be. A good online ad company should take care of everything else, using their expertise to design, produce and distribute compelling banner ads that drive real, measurable results for a business. That expertise should just be part and parcel of the service online ad companies provide. Small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs need transparency, efficiency and simplicity, but they also need to know what they’re paying for. Ad Dynamo’s new price plan packages provide a guaranteed number of results for a set price. These enable smaller businesses to cut through all the clutter of online advertising to understand their budget in clear-cut terms. Small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to worry about any of this – there are more important things for them to be focusing on. After all, they have a business to run.
“The online ad industry has become extremely adept at making things more opaque”
Online ad expert Sean Riley is CEO of global ad marketplace Ad Dynamo – which provides a no-nonsense one-price-for-all ad system specifically designed with small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs in mind. Contact: www.addynamo.com
72 January 2013
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Focus on marketing FACE-TO-FACE
FACE-TO-FACE BOOK We’re constantly bombarded by assertions that Twitter, Facebook et al. are the future. Ed Keller and Brad Fay are here to argue that face to face communication, not social media, is the best way to build your brand
ocial media today represents the latest shiny new toy, with many businesses and marketers desperate to play with Facebook and Twitter, hoping that the playground cred will rub off on them. But they haven’t read the instructions properly, and are chasing an immense social wave that is not yet fully understood, according to Keller Fay in a new book, The Face-to-Face Book.
It’s easy to see why: businesses have always been aware of the power of word-of-mouth, and its ability to impact sales and brand health. We are social animals, and for decades consumers have consistently indicated that they trust recommendations from friends and relatives far more than advertising or other marketing messages. And people talk about brands a lot. In the UK, adults on average reference
“It’s tempting to focus your efforts around that shiny new toy, but don’t neglect the old favourites”
around 10-12 brands a day in conversations with their friends, colleagues and family. We are a talkative bunch, generating a collective half a billion brand impressions through word-ofmouth each and every day here in the UK. Today, social media gives those same consumers the opportunity to spread the word (good or bad) to lots of friends in one click – hence brand owners’ desire to
74 January 2013
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Focus on marketing FACE-TO-FACE
embrace it, often downplaying traditional communications channels as a result. Missed in the frenzy is a far bigger opportunity, with much greater impact to connect with people – consumers, voters, supporters – in more impactful ways. While the growth of social networking sites is impressive, the largest social force is literally right beneath our noses: in the conversations that happen in our kitchens and living rooms, in pubs and cafés, by the office water cooler and at the school gates. And all powered by the intimacy of face to face communications. Social media is a powerful and growing communication tool, but its impact on brand word of mouth is considerably less dramatic than it first appears. Firstly, not everyone is a social media junkie – according to the IPA’s authoritative TouchPoints research (which monitors British communication and media habits in great detail), less than half of UK adults use social media in a typical week, let alone every day. Secondly, social media for many is about sharing broader life experiences – photos and personal news – with friends and family. Brands have a place here, but they are generally not central to the discussion. The net result is that more than 90% of the conversations about products, services, and brands that take place every day in the UK happen offline. In contrast, Facebook and other social media represent a tiny slice of the brand conversation pie. Not only is real world buzz much bigger, it is different in so many ways to the posts seen and shared in social media. Social media discussion about brands tends to focus on a few product categories, either because the content is inherently focused around digital media (i.e. films, TV, music), where there is a strong technological orientation (devices, telecom/broadband services) or around “brands”
such as Manchester United. Businesses in almost every other category might conclude that their brands can’t truly reap the benefits of viral marketing. Look at offline word of mouth and a different picture emerges. The most talked about product category in the UK is food and dining, and other everyday categories figure prominently. Even brands in relatively mundane products and services – household cleaners, utilities, personal care – can get talked about in large numbers, and the most talked about brand in the UK is not Apple or Facebook itself, but Tesco. Our research also shows that many offline conversations are casual, spontaneous affairs, whereas for many, discussions in social media are either about social signalling (‘Guess what everybody, I’ve just bought a new iPad’), or where a point has to be proven (‘All banks are dishonest’). As a result, social media buzz is often more polarised, giving the impression that only something really dramatic can have any impact. We urge businesses to understand that all media is social. By that, we mean that if you want to stimulate brand buzz, there are many routes you can take. Our research (confirmed externally by independent analysis) indicates that all kinds of media activity can stimulate positive brand conversations. Yes, social media can do this – we are not saying that Facebook is a completely ineffective channel. But so can traditional media, and often on a much bigger scale. In fact, television advertising sparks more brand conversations than any other form of media or marketing. In the digital space, brand websites are often referenced in peer to peer conversations, and we strongly advise brand owners not to neglect their own digital properties and focus inordinately on social media. And packaging or POS activity can have a surprisingly
THE BIG 10
TOP WORD OF MOUTH CATEGORIES
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Food and dining Media and entertainment Drinks Sport, recreation and hobbies Shopping, retail and fashion Technology Telecoms Travel services Health and healthcare Financial
“Facebook and other social media represent a tiny slice of the brand conversation pie”
large impact – lots of brand conversations take place in store, or are stimulated by what people see when shopping. In fact, every form of marketing can drive word-of-mouth, if executed well. The key is to start with an understanding of people and how, why, and where they talk about your brand, and use that information to set your strategy, rather than starting with the tools and technologies. Indeed, as Paul Adams, brand experience manager of Facebook, has said: ‘You need to reorient your business around people, not technology. Don’t have a Facebook strategy, or a Twitter strategy or a Foursquare strategy. Map to human behaviour and not to technology.’ Online social media networks have a role to play, but they are just one social channel among many. It’s tempting to focus your efforts around that shiny new toy, but don’t neglect the old favourites. The primary sparks for face to face conversations are elsewhere in your marketing toy cupboard.
Ed Keller and Brad Fay are co-authors of The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace. Contact: www.kellerfay.com
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Focus on marketing THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
T “They want to talk to people who have knowledge and insights, opinions and ideas”
he Confederation of British Industry has predicted that UK GDP will grow by 1.4% in 2013 and, although we are officially out of recession and this figure is positive, no economists are predicting huge growth for 2013. This means that business owners will have to continue working hard to engage customers in an uncertain market. Thought leadership is becoming an increasingly important tool used by businesses to attract and win new customers. Wellinformed business buyers are increasingly sophisticated when it comes to their buying decisions. Companies that can demonstrate they offer unique ideas and insights, and have true expertise in the markets
they operate in, will stand out from their competitors; they are far more likely to find an open door to those hard-to-reach decision-makers. Thought leadership in the B2B context is about businesses demonstrating that they have unique insights into both their own markets, and the needs of their customers, in order to position themselves as “experts” in their chosen field. Why bother? Thought leadership is increasingly important because B2B buyers today have more information sources than ever before, thanks to the Internet. They don’t need – or want – to engage with suppliers simply to learn about products. As a result, many sales teams
don’t get the opportunity to speak to a customer until late in the customer’s decisionmaking process, with limited opportunity to influence the customer’s thinking or decision criteria. Recent research, published in Harvard Business Review, revealed that on average nearly 60% of a B2B purchase decision is made before a customer even speaks to potential suppliers. However, B2B buyers are still looking for “trusted advisors” who can help them understand the bigger picture and navigate the mass of available options – and they are willing to engage with suppliers that may challenge their existing thinking, and bring new ideas and insights to the table. So B2B suppliers are increasingly investing in
Trust me, I’m an expert
Phil Brown, director at B2B marketing agency, The Channel Partnership, discusses what thought leadership is and how companies can use it to their advantage in 2013
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Focus on marketing THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
A lot of salesforce.com’s early communications efforts were focused on changing the way that people thought about software, and promoting the concept of “Software-as-aService” (SaaS).
thought leadership initiatives to demonstrate their own unique insight and opinion, and help them open the door to key decision-makers and influencers. One reason that thought leadership plays a more important role within B2B than B2C is the complexity of the decisionmaking process, and the fact that multiple stakeholders will often have an influence on the decision. Relevant thought leadership content can help a customer gain alignment internally regarding the problems they are facing, and understand the responses they should be considering. The thought leadership provider benefits through raising their profile with a broader group of decision-makers, being perceived as a supplier that can add value, and helping to shape the debate in a way that makes their particular solution more relevant and desirable. Thought leadership also plays an important role when a company is seeking to promote new and disruptive products that may require buyers to think differently. The objective of thought leadership in this context is to change the buyer’s frame of reference for their purchase decision, to create an opportunity for the new product. For example, when salesforce.com first introduced its ground-breaking, web-based CRM product in 1999, as well as convincing potential buyers that its product had the features they needed, it also needed to persuade them that using software you accessed via the web was actually a good idea.
“The ultimate objective of thought leadership is to gain a competitive advantage”
The components The ultimate objective of thought leadership is to gain a competitive advantage, increasing growth and ultimately sales. A well designed thought leadership programme, when fully integrated into the broader marketing plans of an organisation, can deliver benefits in multiple ways: brand awareness, competitive positioning, broadening their contact base, lead generation, employee recruitment and engagement. A successful thought leadership programme consists of these core elements: • Clear point of view Based on analysis of the issues impacting their target audience, businesses should decide which topics they want to position themselves as thought leaders on. The point of view needs to be relevant and interesting to the target audience, insightful as well as credible, and connected to the overall marketing strategy. It needs to provide customers with actionable advice on what they can do to overcome challenges posed. • Content creation The creation of thought leadership content can come from a variety of sources, such as utilising internal knowledge and expertise, commissioning primary research, or acting as the facilitator of a debate involving external experts. • Content dissemination Content distributed can take a variety of forms, including white papers, blogs, research reports, articles, social media posts, speaking opportunities, seminars, videos, round tables,
“how to” guides, useful tools and templates. As with any communications activity, the dissemination needs to be well targeted and selective. • Generate leads While a thought leadership programme has a role to play in building brand awareness and competitive positioning, generating new contacts and leads should be a key objective. You need to consider what actions you want your target audience to take, in order to convert interest in your opinions and insights into genuine sales opportunities. • Internal education Ensuring employees are equipped to be thought leadership ambassadors for the company is crucial. This is particularly important in a customer-facing role. There’s no point generating sales opportunities off the back of some insightful thought leadership, if the salesperson that sits in front of the client is not equipped to discuss those insights. • Review and modify As with any marketing activity, thought leadership is a learning process. Businesses won’t get it spot on first time, so they need to establish some relevant metrics to track and to continually monitor the impact of the programme, refining where necessary. Customers don’t want to engage simply over product benefits and price; they want to talk to people who have knowledge and insights, opinions and ideas. With only small economic growth expected in 2013, thought leadership could be the secret weapon to keep your business afloat.
Research report,‘What Channels Need to Succeed 2012’, undertaken by the Leadership Foundation on behalf of The Channel Partnership. Contact: www.thechannelpartnership.com talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 79
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BENEFITS OF WORKING
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THE VA PLUSSES
he demands of a small business owner are many and whilst at the helm of your enterprise it can be incumbent on you to tackle a wide range of tasks. Be it research, marketing, copywriting, sales, administration or blogging - you name it; it’s a full time job covering your bases. Many entrepreneurs find themselves helplessly bogged down by the administrative aspects that accompany the essential management of their companies. A virtual assistant is able to take the brunt off these taxing but necessary tasks, to enable you to focus on core operations. Virtual assistants mostly have administrative backgrounds supporting Director Level and above. They are selfemployed, work remotely with home office set ups and have the latest software and backup systems in place. Many specialise in
certain areas, from typing through to social media. Whatever you need support with, you’ll find a virtual assistant who fits the bill. So, what are the many benefits of hiring a virtual assistant? You will only pay for the work we do (there is no downtime) – you’d be amazed at what a virtual assistant can accomplish in just one hour. You don’t need to worry about PAYE, finding office space, funding sick leave or training expenses. Having a good virtual assistant is an investment in efficiency. Consider how much you pay yourself per hour, and then look at how much time you spend on administration or other repetitive tasks. These time-consuming yet essential tasks could be outsourced to a virtual assistant, saving you a small fortune in both time and money - allowing you to focus on your business and your clients. Working with a virtual assistant is like having your own employee, but without all the potential aggravation that goes with it. It doesn’t take long for a relationship to be established and your trust to be gained. A virtual assistant will endeavour
to know all they have to in order to support your business efficiently. A good virtual assistant will be able to offer suggestions that will ultimately benefit your business. Most virtual assistants offer a retainer (fixed monthly hours), pay as you go contracts or fixed project/ package rates. It really depends on your needs as to what contract you go for. Often, tailor-made packages can also be discussed. There are various online directories listing virtual assistants and their services. Be sure to have a look at their websites to view services offered and more importantly, their testimonials. Why not start 2013 on a positive note and outsource those tasks that are taking too much of your precious time? Contact: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on: 01273 275 372
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Focus on Lee McQueen
Apprentice winner Lee McQueen shares his sales process with us, from sourcing leads and building relationships to that all-important close
Make a connection
We use social media to source leads. Facebook and Twitter play a part, but the majority of our leads come through networking on LinkedIn. As I’ve said in this column before, I’m a keen believer in relationships, building and keeping them. Just because someone isn’t useful to you right now, it doesn’t mean they won’t want to work with you in a few months; so keeping in touch with people can really help you long term, over a 12-month period. We’re currently planning our strategy for 2013 – a lot of it is around how we go about making money and making sales, and a key part of that is networking, meeting people and strengthening your contact list.
The big pitch
“If you don’t have the knowledge to qualify, you’ll never close”
I’ve got a saying: that on the phone you’ve got 20 seconds to sell to someone, face-toface you’ve got 20 minutes to sell to them. Whether you have 20 seconds or 20 minutes, it’s really important that you establish what it is that client needs in that time. A hook, if you like. Knowledge is the most important thing: you need to know the needs and wants of that business. It might take five or six calls to that business to find out what the hook is for them before you go in and pitch. Some people think they can just go in and wing it, but that’s pitching blind: pitching what you have to sell rather than what they need to buy, which is useless.
Every salesman will have heard excuses: I’m interested but I’m too busy, we’ve spent all our budget etc. Testing the client’s commitment is a good way to find out if an excuse is genuine. So if they say, ‘I’m busy but send over some information,’ I would say I’m happy to do that. But I’d add: ‘While I’ve got you on the phone, let’s book in a meeting.’ If they don’t seem keen, they’re probably not genuinely interested. Sometimes you’ve got to gauge it, and not waste time on people who are basically messing you around. Test their commitment – you’ve got nothing to lose.
Seal the deal
Closing is one of the most difficult things. But closing really starts at the beginning of your involvement. It’s negotiation – if you can qualify what you’re selling against their needs. Up front it seems like a lot of questions to find out what those needs are, but if you have that qualification then closing is an awful lot easier. It’s almost like a tick sheet: you need this, this and this and we can solve those for you. If you don’t have the knowledge to qualify, you’ll never close. You can only close if they’re willing to buy, and they’re only willing to buy if you’re selling something they want. It’s simple really. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.co.uk
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entagon HR has gone from strength to strength since we started trading during the spring of 2009. Focussing on the SME marketplace, we have built an exemplary reputation by ensuring that the service we provide to CEOs can’t be matched by others. We fully understand what a minefield employment law can be and we work closely with our clients to ensure that they are fully compliant with the appropriate requirements – we build trusting and long lasting relationships built upon mutual respect. But we won’t simply provide advice and guide you in creating procedures we become part of your team and can be seated with you when dealing with sensitive employee issues – during those difficult conversations with staff that could be scrutinised at a later date and when what is discussed and even the language used must be carefully considered. And because when issues arise, they are often not confined wholly to normal office hours, neither is the service that we provide to you - our phones aren’t switched off at 5pm and so delicate conversations that must be held in private, can be – away from other office staff, or simply at times that won’t intrude into busy schedules. That’s why our portfolio of clients has grown and grown – people like and appreciates the way that we work, but rest assured, our personal service hasn’t been compromised because of it. In fact, our clients are so happy with Pentagon that around 90% of our new clients have come through recommendations: from one business owner to another. With a wide understanding of business needs, we have developed a service to match, with everything from contracts to handbooks; from TUPE to redundancy; from working with start-up organisations to established companies, we offer professional, straight forward advice and assistance. Our flexibility is something that we are proud of too: we work on-site with some clients for a day a week; others once a month; others simply as and when required, with most advice being provided remotely - but all clients are reassured in the knowledge that we are always at the end of the phone. Once your business has grown we can work together on your strategic needs, in addition to operational HR - the best (and most appreciated) HR functions are driven from the needs of the employees
pentagon advertorialJAN.indd 26
Here’s a few comments from some of our clients (and we didn’t have to pay them either!) “Anne is one of the most down to earth, practical and pragmatic people I have ever met. Her knowledge of and advice on employment matters has been invaluable to many of our clients.” Jeremy Holt Partner Clark Holt
“With Anne and her team by our side we know that we always get the best advice and solution that we need. Anne is a true professional with the management and HR skills required to be an asset to our business. Anne understands our business and that’s paramount when dealing with our employees” Dane Wilde Managing Director IDess Retail
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH and so, as examples, we can assist you in preparing and analysing employee surveys, 360 feedback projects and succession planning, ensuring the outcomes steer you towards becoming an employer of choice status. In fact we have built such a reputable and client focussed business, we recently launched two new services – Health & Safety and Recruitment - who could be better to understand your culture and values ensuring that you get the right staff for the right job; for H&S we help to build your business, assisting with accreditations such as ISO14001. Both have already made positive impacts for our clients. Can we help you? Our MD, Anne Egleton, is qualified with the CIPD Postgraduate Advanced Certificate in Employment Law and is also a member of the CIPD. Anne’s working history includes a large PLC where she set up and successfully ran a central HR team for 1,400 employees in 25 UK locations. She furthered her career as a Chief People Officer with an online media organisation where she led the HR, Recruitment, Training and Payroll teams.
“Pentagon HR has been an invaluable resource to my organisation. Anne’s knowledge of employment law and working practices helped quickly identify our areas of risk. Within a week we had employment contracts, an employee handbook and all the documents we required to ensure we were compliant. The team also assisted in ensuring that all other documents that every business should have was in place in relation to our staff. Anne’s great sense of humour and infectious personality really makes her a joy to partner with and we continue to work with her and the team” Mike Edwards Managing Director Komfort Services
“We needed help with our HR and Pentagon was recommended to us. Anne now works with us on site 1 day a week and has made such a positive impact to the business in respect of our staff. With her HR and commercial business experience she knows exactly what we need and works with the senior management team and in fact with everyone in the business to make it happen. Pentagon’s recruitment team has started to work with us in advertising specific roles.” Karen Walton Chief Accountant Redtray Solutions
Is it time that we met to see how we can help your business prosper?
Contact us: Tel:01784 247059 / 07976 809682 Email: Anne@pentagonhr.co.uk / Claudia@pentagonhr.co.uk Website: www.pentagonhr.co.uk
Focus on people STAFF RETENTION
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE, AND YOUR
STAFF CLOSER Holding onto your staff should be a top priority if you want your business to soar, according to Daryl Willcox, founder and chairman of DWPub
mployee retention may not be high on the entrepreneur’s priority list. But if your objective is to be a growth company, then your objective also needs to be to retain knowledge, skills and customer relationships. It’s an old but true saying that people do not do business with companies, they do business
with people. So the quality of your team is paramount. It’s not always the case that the longest-serving people are the best, but it certainly is true that if people stick with an organisation for longer then they develop deeper product and industry knowledge, and closer relationships with clients – both valuable assets that
contribute to better business. And, at the opposite end of the scale, high staff turnover is both costly in terms of recruitment and training, but perhaps more significantly, a big turn-off for clients. So how do you keep staff? First off, you need to reflect on your own perceptions of your workforce. What is your attitude to your people? Are they simply there as hired labour who clock in at the beginning of the day to dig at the coal face until they clock off? Or are they critical components of your team who help you to develop and enhance your business? If you think the former then there’s probably not much hope for you, but if you think the latter then that’s a good start. It sounds trivial, but it’s a good idea to ditch the word “staff” and use “colleagues” instead. It helps create an environment where each individual is valued and it’s also a constant reminder to you that your people are a valuable asset that is worth looking after. Once you’ve thought about, and possibly changed, your attitude to the people around you, the next step is a rather obvious one but is often overlooked: it’s the quality of your recruitment. Good recruitment is all about matching the right person to the job. It doesn’t matter how smart someone is, what fantastic qualifications they have or what brilliant experience they bring, if they aren’t matched up properly to the job they will perform. Some years ago I was experiencing quite high turnover among a particular team in my company. We were finding some people settled in well once they started and would stick around in a way consistent with our overall low staff turnover, but some would barely last weeks – sometimes days. The main problem lay in our recruitment process. We solved it by bringing in a human resources consultant who advised us on a more thorough
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Focus on people STAFF RETENTION
“Job satisfaction is clearly an important element to successful retention, but so are the little things”
“A very common cause of colleague unhappiness is simply not having enough to do”
process, and one that made it abundantly clear to each applicant what their role in the business would be. In this case, the role required intelligence and initiative but it was also quite repetitive. The new recruitment process ensured that anyone who had any doubts about the job would drop out before the final interview, making sure that those we did offer jobs to were ready for the challenge. Some of the people recruited at this time we still employ today. Using a freelance employment consultant to help establish some simple recruitment processes is a great way for a smaller business to improve its people selection without the need for a costly – and in my opinion largely pointless – permanent human resources capability. You may need to pay around £800 a day for an expert consultant, but the return on investment is significant if it results in better retention. And it’s much more effective than getting an administrator or secretary to do human resources when they don’t have the relevant skills in this specialised area. Improving the recruitment process was not the only thing we did to resolve the retention issue I mentioned. We also looked at the role itself – which, as a repetitive research job, had a whiff of the mundane – and added a more interesting element to the job which takes up proportionally much less time, but gives each member of the team a little bit of extra job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is clearly an important element to successful retention, but so are the little things; you can help ensure greater loyalty by simply creating an atmosphere in your company where colleague welfare is something that is thought about. These little things can be as trivial as making sure there is free tea, coffee and soft drinks, or a little more generous like giving people the day off after their birthday.
One thing is for sure though: whatever you do to improve retention, there will still be times when colleagues are unhappy. Chances are you will be totally oblivious to this, as people tend to bottle up their frustrations unless they are given a suitable opportunity to express them. This opportunity is the appraisal meeting. These should be done at least annually, and preferably every six months. And it must be remembered that this is also an opportunity for the colleague to give feedback about how things are going – not just specifically about their job, but the team they are in and the company as a whole. You can learn much from your team, and simply listening to their wider thoughts on the business helps them understand that they are valued. Though it’s often not said explicitly in an appraisal meeting, a very common conclusion of appraisals is that a person is not being pushed hard enough. It’s a common misconception that people enjoy “easy” jobs more than hard ones. Except for the lazy few (who you’ve hopefully weeded out in your recruitment process), most people are actually happier when they’re working hard. So a very common cause of colleague unhappiness is simply not having enough to do or not having enough pressure. Unless in the extreme, pressure is good – it leads to job satisfaction and therefore loyalty. Improving retention does not need to be an expensive exercise. If you can incorporate some of the above ideas into your business and adapt your company culture to be more empathic with the needs of your team, then it’s not just about becoming a “nice” company. It will also be a more dynamic, and therefore more profitable, company. Contact: www.dwpub.com
84 January 2012
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Focus on people APPRAISALS
The Justine Vaughan, founder and director of Triangle HR, offers her advice and guidance on how performance reviews can have a huge impact on your business
ith businesses across all industries within the UK likely to suffer from inadequate staff performance at some time, it is vital that managers recognise the importance of regular performance reviews among their workforce. They are undoubtedly the best way to tackle any arising issues before they become critical. Managing performance can have a huge impact on a business, ensuring it maximises and increases productivity, and ultimately the bottom line. With reasons for employees performing poorly ranging from a lack of recognition, a lack of communication, and an actual inability to undertake the role in hand, businesses should be encouraged to consider their current review processes and how these could be enhanced for the benefit of both management and staff. Research time and time again proves that productivity and performance are significantly affected – both positively and negatively – by a business’ working environment; embracing a spirit of openness and ongoing communication between managers and employees can help to create constructive working conditions where staff feel respected and valued.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to conduct appraisals and performance review meetings on an annual basis to tie in with salary reviews, bonuses and promotions. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a long time for an employee to wait before hearing how well or how badly they are performing. Our advice is that managers should be looking to hold regular performance reviews, even as often as quarterly, as this really helps to maximise an individual’s performance and drive their level of commitment. Waiting 12 months can be such a long journey for both the employee and manager, and doing reviews more frequently will help to recognise, record and monitor performance in the workplace more effectively. The popular saying that ‘a firm is only as good as its people’ is certainly true, and having the wrong people in the wrong jobs can be a real recipe for disaster, resulting in inefficiencies, internal conflict and low morale. While many companies find themselves having to spend valuable resources restructuring or recruiting, a solution to this could simply be to take a closer look at their existing workforce
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Controlling your costs
At Plain Talking HR we pride ourselves on providing simple and straightforward HR advice and help to SMEs. We use our 50-years of combined HR and Employment business knowledge and experience to ease the burden of people management for smaller companies who cannot justify the cost of in-house expertise. We can come to you or if you prefer you can visit our offices. Our meetings are all about taking the pain out of making sure you are legally up to date and in control in case of unexpected employment issues.
Feel that you can’t afford your own HR department, we have an affordable solution for you. Sign up for a one year contract and we will credit you with 12 hours of bespoke HR consultancy. For many SMEs you will go for two or three months without needing any HR advice, until there is a disciplinary or absence problem. So you can draw down from your pot of 12 hours. Our research shows that 12 hours of consultancy will cover the majority of SME needs in a year. By signing up for a year contract you can control your costs by spreading it across the year.
Focus on people APPRAISALS
“It’s clear that undertaking regular reviews is a true win-win situation”
“Having the wrong people in the wrong jobs can be a real recipe for disaster”
by making sure that the right people are in the right roles to suit both the needs of the business, and the appropriate skills of the staff themselves. Developing and maintaining an organisation that is efficient, profitable and successful requires the specific skill sets of a workforce to match the individual roles people are in. By regularly evaluating and appraising staff, an employer is able to clearly identify any training or other businessrelated needs. Reviews give managers the platform to point out areas of outstanding performance, strength and improvement, and to reward a ‘job well done’. It is, of course, human nature that people respond well to praise and recognition. By pointing out the positives, a manager is going some way to boosting their employees’ enthusiasm, loyalty, and overall job satisfaction – all critical factors in keeping valuable workers happy, especially when pay rises may not be possible. On a similar theme, regular performance reviews enable managers to clarify expectations with an employee, as well as giving them the opportunity to tackle any
specific issues that need addressing. Certain employees may not be carrying out their exact role, but rather than letting the issue fester away, managers can spell out the individual’s precise job description, and also put in place any training or support required to enable the employee to carry out their duties more effectively. It also empowers employees to really influence their careers moving forward by outlining how they would like to develop or progress in the months and years to come. Another area where carrying out more frequent appraisals can prove advantageous is the opportunity they give managers and employees to set and re-prioritise goals. Some individuals may be classic overachievers who quickly meet any targets or aspirations that have been set; regular reviews can ensure new goals are put in place so that a person feels suitably challenged and motivated. At the other end of the spectrum, for employees who perhaps haven’t achieved goals set previously, a regular review is a chance to take stock, re-focus, or even reprioritise objectives to reflect a change in circumstances.
Conducting regular performance reviews can also help to foster an atmosphere of openness across an organisation. While an office, shop, or warehouse may be bustling with everyday general chit-chat, the chance to sit down one-on-one with a member of staff gives a manager the chance to openly discuss where they see the employee currently and in the future, as well as enabling them to address issues both in and outside the workplace. Many employees feel uncomfortable or unable to talk about “office dramas” or difficulties with a co-worker. By building up a good rapport through regular performance reviews, they could be encouraged to start to speak more openly and honestly. It’s clear that undertaking regular reviews is a true win-win situation. As a business owner or manager, they provide the perfect platform to assess and reward an employee’s good performance and work out any areas of weakness or aspects where training and development is required. This, in addition to conveying an approachable, accessible and effective attitude, makes for a much better working environment. From the individual’s perspective, it obviously lets them know exactly where they stand, what their future prospects are, and how they will be supported and encouraged to reach their full potential.
Justine Vaughan is founder and director of Shropshire-based Triangle HR, which offers a full consultancy service in all areas of human resources and people management and provides a professional, cost-effective solution for businesses across the UK. Contact: www.trianglehr.co.uk
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The Employment Minefield With legislation covering every aspect of employment from recruitment to termination, how are you avoiding your minefield. Trusting in luck is one option but are you sufficiently informed about employment matters to be safely get to the other side? Managing employment issues is onerous, time consuming, complicated and keeping up to date a real challenge and the problem is even greater for smaller employers without the expertise, time or money to employ their own HR resources. So what’s the solution?
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Focus on people EMPLOYMENT LAW
There’s a lot going on in 2013 when it comes to employment law. TB consults an expert employment lawyer to bring you all the possible, probable and definite reforms coming your business’ way this year
New year, new rules We were bombarded throughout the autumn with news of the Coalition’s proposals on reforming employment law, via various initiatives, and from a range of Government departments. Get ahead of the game by checking out this snapshot of the proposed reforms, from those that are simply being thrown around, to the ones that are set in stone. “Get ahead of the game by checking out this snapshot”
Most of these have not yet been confirmed and are only at the proposal stage. Most of them are intended to make life easier for employers: • Introduction of “employee owner” status – whereby employees would be offered shares in their employer worth from £2,000-£50,000, which would be exempt from capital gains tax, in exchange for giving up some of their employment rights (e.g. unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy payment). • Repeal of the obligation for employers to protect employees against third party harassment and to respond to discrimination questionnaires. • Introducing a public interest requirement to gain protection for whistleblowing disclosures. • Changes to the rules on collective redundancy consultation, including reducing the 90-day
minimum consultation period to either 30 or 45 days. Changes to the “without prejudice” rule so that offers of a settlement in the context of issues with conduct or performance will not be admissible as evidence in unfair dismissal cases, even if there is no dispute which has arisen at the time of making the offer. This will not apply in discrimination or whistleblowing claims. Statutory code of practice for the use of settlement agreements to be introduced. The current cap of £72,300 in relation to the compensatory award for unfair dismissal to be decreased. Changes to employment tribunal rules to introduce more effective case management; a reform of the costs regime; new tribunal guidance; new powers for the tribunal in relation to dispute resolution; changes to time limits.
The Government has indicated that it intends to: • Make changes to flexible parental leave and pay, including: 1) the right for parents to share between them 50 weeks of leave as they choose (in agreement with employers). This includes a new concept of flexible parental pay so that the current entitlement to statutory maternity pay can be shared between parents, and
2) changes to adoption leave,
including making it consistent with SMP and flexible parental leave set out above. • Extend the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks’ service.
Also don’t forget the changes that are definitely going to come in: • Hearing fees to be introduced in employment tribunals. • Changes to the Working Time regulations to reflect European judgments on holiday carry over for employees on longterm sick or maternity leave. • An increase in the total amount of unpaid parental leave that can be taken per child from 13 to 18 weeks (up to four weeks of this leave can be taken per year). • Continued roll-out of the pensions auto-enrolment: employers with between 50 and 249 workers will have to autoenrol from staging dates running from 1 April 2014-1 April 2015. Employers with fewer than 50 workers will have to auto-enrol from 1 June 2015-1 April 2017.
By Paula Volkmer, an associate in the employment department at Fox Williams LLP. Contact: www.foxwilliams.com
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Focus on people
Paul Steckler, founder of distinctive dog accessories producer, Oscar and Hooch, shares his jam-packed business diary the week before the company launch
Secret diaryof an entrepreneur H “I love seeing the products being made, and seeing all the elements come together”
aving identified the huge opportunities to be found in the pet industry, Paul Steckler, ex-commercial director of Pfizer UK, recently founded Oscar and Hooch. Named after his own hounds, the company produces smart, distinctive and resilient products for dogs. He shares his diary with Talk Business, detailing the stress-filled, exhilarating week before the big company launch.
Day 1: Monday “It was another early start to pick up the collars, before heading back onto set”
After a last minute phone call on Friday from ITV regarding a new show, Top Dog Model, Monday became rather dominated by it! The request was to quickly make some dog collars for the six finalists. This was slightly challenging, as it turned out the collars and ‘TDM’ dog tags were needed for filming on Tuesday…I left early on Monday morning for filming
at Northbrook Park in Farnham, Surrey. Monday was spent on set getting to know some of the contestants and dogs (and trying to very subtly gauge sizes, bearing in mind 11 dogs were going down to six overnight). On my way back to the office, I needed an impromptu meeting with my product developer to ensure the order could be fulfilled – by lunchtime the next day – and also that our new range of collars and leads were on track for photography on Friday. From our meeting it emerged that manufacturing would need to take place overnight, and I would collect the collars en route to Surrey.
Day 2: Tuesday
After a somewhat broken night’s sleep, it was another early start to first pick up the gold ‘TDM’ dog tags, and then the collars, before heading back onto set. Things were very tense on day two,
with contestants’ nerves fraught and judges wondering if the right decisions had been made. Filming was somewhat behind schedule, with the products not needed until later that day. This gave me a great chance to catch up with some of the judges, crew and the contestants. It was during these conversations that I realised there is a definite need for diamante on some dog collars, so I made a quick mental note to research the best quality diamante – and, of course, it turned out Swarovski was the answer. Later that day, I was in a position to help allocate the right collars for the correct dogs. Sizes, on the whole, had worked out rather well, and everyone was very pleased with the exception of Lucky – a lovely Chihuahua whose neck was clearly much smaller than I remember. Luckily for Lucky, and for me, it added some amusement to the show: it all worked out for the best!
94 January 2013
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Focus on people SECRET DIARY
When filming finished later that evening, I headed home to prepare for another early start in the morning…
products and the stylish design and colours. I left reassured that we’d got it right.
Day 3: Wednesday
After three days of intense marketing, I was needed in our Devon-based factory. I love seeing the products being made, and seeing all the elements come together. Today the full range was being finished, ready for photography on Friday. The atmosphere in the factory was extremely upbeat, with all of us excited about our first photo shoot. It turned out to be a long day to ensure we had enough sizes and colours to demonstrate the full range – challenging with two ranges of collars and leads, each with 10 sizes, in nine colours. 8pm and everything was complete. I headed to the pub back in Somerset for a much needed drink!
One of the goals of the business was to always give something back, so that others can benefit from its success. We were very keen to embrace a charity with a strong relationship to dogs, so when I got the opportunity to meet Claire Guest, chief executive of Medical Detection Dogs, I was extremely excited. After the long drive to Buckinghamshire, it was great to get such a lovely welcome from all of the working dogs and staff. Claire is so passionate about the work the dogs do, and the lives of the people that the detection dogs are saving. There are two important arms to the charity. The first is the alert dogs that support people with life threatening illnesses, such as diabetes, trained to recognise low blood glucose levels and then warn to help prevent an attack. The second involves cancer detection dogs. It is jaw-dropping how acute these dogs’ sense of smell is; they are trained to pick up the smell of different types of cancer in a laboratory setting. It is hoped that this research will help further our understanding of cancer, and its diagnosis. I was very pleased to be able to supply all Medical Detection working dogs with free collars and leads made in their own colours, utilising the unique logo. It also made sense to sell this range online with a donation back to the charity for every item sold. On my way back, I decided to stop in at Dogs Palace – an upmarket dog grooming salon and boutique just outside Bristol – to discuss some product samples. The meeting was excellent, and an order was placed. It was great to hear our own product attributes being reiterated: manufacturing in Britain, as well as the practicality of our washable
Day 4: Thursday
Day 5: Friday
Another early start as I headed over to Dorset to the studio, accompanied by my own labradors, Oscar and Hooch, the inspiration for the business. We also had two beautiful Hungarian vizslas coming to model the products. As much as I would have loved to use Oscar and Hooch, they really cannot sit still! This was very quickly proven when we tried to get a picture for the ‘about us’ page; after much perseverance, I accepted we wouldn’t get a shot of the boys looking at the camera. 10am, and the other two dogs, Harley and Daisy, arrived. To my relief they were happy to sit and pose until we got exactly the shot we wanted. The pictures were extremely important as they will be used across all of our wholesale literature, point of sale, advertising, and our website. After a day of shooting I was extremely happy with the shots, and very excited about the official launch next week. Contact: www.oscarandhooch.com
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OUR MAN IN THE VALLEY Our Sheffield lad turned Silicon Valley techpreneur, David Richards, laments the limitations of focusing all British efforts on Tech City Not so long ago, David Cameron announced plans to invest £50m in Tech City, to create ‘the largest civic space in Europe’ for tech start-ups. As a British software entrepreneur working out of California, I suppose it’s only natural that I often get asked for my thoughts on the UK’s new technology “hub”. Part of me admires the desire to get behind British tech by creating a dedicated centre of specialism around Old Street. I’m sure the supporters of Tech City have nothing but good intentions. But another part is not so sure. Not only is Silicon Roundabout a fairly laughable epithet (the US has an entire valley – the best we can muster is a traffic junction?); the fact many have chosen to focus their intention on a single corner of London is telling of a broader and much more serious lack of ambition and imagination. It’s typical of British provincialism at its worst. A case in point: when we opened our software development centre in Sheffield, I gave some of my American colleagues a tour round the town. One of them asked how far Sheffield was from London, at which point a Sheffield employee said, ‘Oh, it’s miles away – two hours by train.’ This, to a Californian used to six-hour flights to New York! Many in Britain forget just how small our island is. So small, in
fact, that we may allow ourselves the luxury of thinking beyond our roundabout and turn instead to promoting and supporting technology ventures throughout the UK as a whole. But, more to the point, it’s time we realised that the world is, in every respect, as networked as it’s ever been. We at WANdisco get this. Our very livelihood depends on it, as we’re a company built on the notion of collaboration. In case you didn’t know, our name isn’t meant as a party joke, some sort of 70s hark-back picked on a whim or to chase headlines (though I admit it’s a sub-editor’s dream). Instead it refers to “Wide Area Network Distributed Computing”. Simply put, our software allows developers from around the world to work on projects in real-time, saving time, increasing efficiency and improving security. For Marvin Gaye, wherever he lay his hat, that was his home. Forty years later, wherever there’s a plug and an Internet connection, you and I can work in collaboration as far afield as San Francisco, San Sebastián or Saigon. The very notion that we should set about creating “hubs” where likeminded individuals can work together in harmony is not forward thinking – it’s practically archaic. However noble a cause, there’s simply no need for us to limit
our ambition to a single square mile in the East End. It’s time we started to think a little bigger.
David Richards is CEO and co-founder of British software company, WANdisco “The US has an entire valley – the best we can muster is a traffic junction?”
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Focus on technology 2013
2012 has seen a series of conflicting demands placed on businesses’ IT requirements. Economic pressures have forced organisations to cut costs and demand even more from their investment in technology. Yet in stark contrast, the pace of technological change over the past year has meant that businesses must invest in their IT service management to keep pace with the changes, not least to enable them to support initiatives such as Bring Your Own Device, social media and cloud solutions. Social media in particular has started to have a big impact. Businesses at large are starting to utilise social media outlets including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. These platforms have become a firm staple in the communication strategies
of many organisations, and this raises concerns around support and security.
Changing the guard
I’ve witnessed many forward thinking companies react positively to the pressure to keep up with changing technology requirements: for example, by making more of their IT service management investment. This year there has been a shift to implement formalised change management processes, which has enabled many organisations to invest in IT efficiently and effectively, while ensuring that risks are reduced. The move towards improving processes has led to IT service management playing an increasingly pivotal role. IT departments are considering how to do things better, and become more process driven.
Stretched too thin
In 2013 I believe the struggling economy will place even greater pressures on businesses, and many departments will become increasingly stretched. IT must respond with resourceful and tenacious technology solutions, to support the short-term tactical initiatives and evolving strategic needs. Businesses will look to consolidate systems, selecting vendors that can provide solutions for multiple departments, and support processes that span departments and integrate data silos. Businesses will begin to take a holistic view of IT, and this change in approach will see more organisations adopting flexible business platforms, which promote agility and are capable of changing in response to new conditions. This will be particularly important
“IT must respond with resourceful and tenacious technology solutions”
WHERE’S IT ALL GOING?
James Gay, CEO of ICCM Solutions, looks at the important IT trends of 2012, and takes a quick gander in his crystal ball to make some predications on the crucial technologies coming in 2013
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Focus on technology 2013
as the pace of technology change increases, and places greater need on solutions with the ability to rapidly adapt processes and services to keep up with market innovations. I predict that over the coming year the speed of market change will continue to prove a conundrum. More organisations will consider technologies which can deliver their longterm strategic objectives.
Smart, agile, hybrid
Further adoption of hybrid IT and cloud computing will begin to change the role of IT as it becomes a centralised function, coordinating related activities across departments. I also envisage further growth of Smart Process Apps (SPAs), and I believe this will become a talking point of 2013. SPAs combine formal processes, collaboration capabilities, contextual awareness, data analytics and advanced information capture. These
apps change frequently and typically span multiple business functions. This new application software is designed to support business activities that are peopleintensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change. The emergence of SPAs makes collaborative processes the next frontier for organisations. Over the coming year we will see many more CIOs beginning to utilise them to maximise the scope for re-using the investment throughout the organisation.
A customer focus
Over recent years there has been a plethora of new technologies, some of which have had a major impact on businesses. As pressure grows over the next 12 months, businesses cannot afford to ignore the increasing demand for new technologies, but their adoption must be actively
managed. To do this, the IT function must be able to easily modify the services and support it offers, as well as its policies on security and usage. 2013 will also see customers’ demands on technology increase, and IT must respond. I believe this will require an increased flexibility throughout the organisation to meet customers’ changing needs. Customers will expect the service and support functions they rely on to provide intuitive, consistent services built on accurate, up-to-date information. Patience for IT that does not deliver will be minimal, and customers that do not receive the experience they desire from technology will, in all likelihood, go elsewhere. Organisations must meet these requirements through innovation, and seek differentiation through continual service improvement processes, that allow them to provide more efficient service delivery and an enhanced customer experience as a result. The strained economic climate will mean that businesses will continue to face cost pressures. However, they must still have the capability to respond to greater demands on customer experience. I believe that improvement initiatives will also see an upsurge, and organisations will expect their service management platforms to be able to support these. Over the coming year, I foresee businesses increasingly shifting their approach to focus on the big picture. Organisations will look at how IT can be used across the company, enabling collaboration between business functions and effective, continual service improvement to take centre stage in the journey to deliver a superior customer experience.
“The speed of market change will continue to prove a conundrum”
100 January 2013
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Focus on technology IPV6
future of IP What is IP management and why is it important for your business? Axel Pawlik, MD of RIPE NCC, explains what IPv6 means for small businesses and gives us his top tips IPv4 exhaustion
Each Internet-enabled device requires an Internet Protocol (IP) address, a unique identifier that enables a device to communicate with others via the Internet. Everything from your laptop to PDAs and smartphones need an IP address in order to connect to the Internet. But did you know that the vast number of devices accessing the Internet has had a significant impact on the remaining IP address space? Today’s Internet is mainly based on IP version 4 (IPv4). However, there are a limited number of IPv4 addresses available, and we have nearly run out in Europe. To ensure more devices, and more businesses, can continue to connect and communicate online, it’s vital that the next generation of IP addresses, IPv6, is widely deployed. However, IPv4 and IPv6 are not directly compatible. Therefore, in order for your entire network to be IPv6-ready, you need to ensure that all hardware and software is running IPv4 and IPv6 (the technical name for it is “dual stacking”).
IPv4 in your network
Many small businesses operate their own networks, either for customer use or for internal operations. The extent to which your network needs to be
upgraded to IPv6 will depend on your specific setup. Make sure you can answer these questions: • Are you and your IT staff aware of IPv6? • Is your Internet Service Provider (ISP) ready to provide IPv6 connectivity? • Is your own network equipment IPv6 compatible; if not, what steps are necessary to make it IPv6 compatible? • Have you considered IPv6readiness in your technology upgrade cycle?
Where are you now?
The first step is to assess where you are in relation to IPv6. Your ISP may already offer IPv6 connectivity, or you may already be operating hardware and software that is IPv6 compatible; but you won’t know until you research it. The following checklist is a rough guide: • Talk to your ISP • Identify the network components that will need to be changed or upgraded • Identify the training needs for you and your team • Determine costs of new hardware and software • Select suppliers and consultants • Draft a project plan and start implementation.
Talk to your ISP
Your own network’s IPv6 requirements and deployment schedule will depend on your provider’s IPv6 readiness, so it is important to understand what they can provide and when. Ask: • Do you currently provide IPv6 connectivity? • If not, when do you plan to deploy on customer networks? • When will our website be available over IPv6?
“There are a limited number of IPv4 addresses available”
The first step is to identify which equipment (routers, servers etc) needs upgrading or even replacing. Your hardware vendor should be able to help you with this process, and advise you on how to make the necessary changes.
A great deal of software already on the market is IPv6-ready, by default. But if you have purchased software from a third party, you’ll want to get in touch with the provider to check if the product is already IPv6 compatible or if there’s an upgrade available. Contact: www.ipv6actnow.org
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Focus on technology 4G
Martin Stiven, vice president of business at EE, reveals how small businesses can get the most from 4G: the new superfast mobile network
The 4G effect ‘W
“What excited us was the end result of that speed for businesses”
“Nearly half said the mobile network saved their company money”
hat small business doesn’t want to improve productivity, boost efficiencies and cut costs?’ This is the mantra my team and I obsessively focus on as we roll out the UK’s first 4G network. We knew it was all too easy to get fixated on blazing fast download speeds, but what excited us was the end result of that speed for businesses. To help outline 4G’s potential to transform business, EE commissioned Arthur D Little to investigate how small firms in countries like the US, Japan and Germany are benefitting from 4G. The study, based on 14 in-depth interviews with 4G-enabled businesses worldwide and responses from more than 1,200 business decision makers, gives British firms the inside track on how best to exploit the new superfast network.
Productivity on the move
More than eight out of 10 US small businesses surveyed (86%) get more work done on the move with 4G. This is
because employees can browse the mobile Internet faster than before, access files in the cloud more quickly, and communicate with colleagues and customers using high quality video conference calls while on the move. For instance, 40% said sales staff can now get deals completed in the field, without having to come back to base. This remote working trend continues to gather pace in the UK, with an estimated 20% of employees (over 6.5 million people) working out of the office, according to the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). With 4G’s faster download speeds, more small businesses will be able to work on the move as more data can be sent and received over the superfast network. For example, a 20MB document takes on average 8.3 seconds to download with 3G. Downloading the same attachment using 4G will, on average, reduce this wait to less than a second. These time savings have a positive impact on the rest of the business. Take the small
photography firm, which was involved in our 4G Cumbrian trial. It slashed the time it took to send large images to clients from five hours to one and a half. This transformed the business, vastly improving productivity and increasing customer satisfaction as files could be sent to clients quicker than ever before.
With more employees using 4G to work remotely, the report also found that businesses in other countries are using their expensive office space more efficiently. One small business based in Los Angeles saved $100,000 (£62,000) by introducing 4G devices and hot-desking, and then reducing office space as a result. Cost savings like this were at the heart of many small businesses rolling out 4G. Nearly half (47%) said the mobile network saved their company money, with one small business reducing print costs by encouraging staff to transfer documents between smart phones and tablets rather than printing them out.
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Focus on technology 4G
4G can also help speed up the amount of time it takes to get a business running. Many small firms can’t begin trading until they have an Internet connection. So rather than wait 40 days for a fixed line to be installed, they can set up instantly using a 4G mobile WiFi device. This gives fixed line speeds for up to five employees to connect to over WiFi. This is a revolution for small firms setting up for the first time, or for retailers looking to create pop-up shops. This instant connectivity means small businesses can also keep their files backed up to the cloud, regardless of size. Large presentations, images, videos, settings and address books can always be kept in sync, without the need for a WiFi connection or the hassle of coming back to the office.
Realising the potential of 4G
This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s clear from the report that there are a variety of ways 4G can help small companies increase mobility, improve productivity, and boost efficiencies.
I’m positive our nation’s small firms will find their own uses for 4G, supercharging their businesses in the process. Contact: www.ee.co.uk
Some of the most exciting 4G uses uncovered by the report were those firms creating game changing innovations. Over three quarters of US-based respondents in our report (76%), agree 4G has helped their firms innovate and jump ahead of the competition. In the US, small firms are using video to market their business, and this is improving online visibility while capturing the human element behind the company. 4G’s superfast upload speeds mean small firms, like street food sellers, can instantly upload videos of new recipes being tested, food being cooked or the stall being set up to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. One mobile burger van in America uses 4G to update its Facebook and Twitter pages with its location in real-time, so that customers always know where to find it. With 4G, content like videos and images can be quickly and easily uploaded from anywhere; and the more interesting and regularly updated it is, the higher the company’s site will be positioned on Google search rankings.
106 January 2013
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Focus on technology APPS
I’ve got an app for that… It’s all about making your travel seamless this month. Introducing two all-new apps for booking taxis and hotels, saving you time and money on the ubiquitous business trip
Price: FREE Compatible with: iPhone, Android and BlackBerry The gist: Business trip run over? Research has shown that 22% of business travellers have been forced to book unscheduled overnight hotel stays. But the new JustBook app is connecting travellers with hotels that have empty rooms, enabling them to save up to 50% on last-minute stays. Every day, the JustBook team handpicks three exclusive deals on boutique and high-end hotels in each of six UK cities, including London, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as major European cities. You get up to 50% off the usual price, but the deal is that you have to book between midday and 2am, and stay over that same night. Downloadable from: www.justbook.com
Price: FREE Compatible with: Apple and Android The gist: TaxiTastic enables users to hail private hire taxis from their smart phones while offering key safety and cost saving benefits. Set to revolutionise the way people book taxis, the app calculates the journey distance and provides an accurate estimate of the fare based on data from over 10,000 taxi firms. The app pinpoints the nearest taxi companies, enabling easy booking and faster pick-up times, as well as helping customers to avoid paying inflated prices or being taken the long way round by rogue drivers. The app also displays the saving users make by booking with private hire firms (which can set their own rates) compared to black cab firms whose rates are governed by their local council. Downloadable from: www.taxitastic.co.uk
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Focus on technology GADGETS
Battle of the brands: Nokia vs HTC
A new year calls for a new smart phone, surely? And this year could well see an end to Appleâ€™s stranglehold on the market, with two sexy numbers stepping onto the scene: say hello to the HTC One X and the Nokia Lumia 920
110 January 2013
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[What they say]
Focus on technology GADGETS
Nokia Lumia 920
4.5in PureMotion HD+ display
Designed to wow: show off with vibrant colours, a one-piece polycarbonate body, ceramic zirconium camera detailing and side keys. It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the Lumia 920 is bold, bright and – heck – it’s fun, a quality too many smartphones have been missing
8.7 megapixel camera sensor, with 3552 x 2448 pixel camera resolution. Video camera resolution: 1080p (Full HD, 1920x1080)
32GB and 7GB in SkyDrive
The highly-anticipated Windows Phone 8
“Our flagship Lumia smart phone with Pureview technology with Carl Zeiss lens, captures blur-free videos even if the camera’s shaking or in low light. The PureMotion HD+ display is the world’s brightest, clearest, fastest touch screen. And it’s sensitive enough to respond to your fingertips, even when they’re covered up.”
[VS] [Price] [Screen] [Width/weight]
HTC One X From £379
4.7in super LCD 2 display
HTC calls the design “minimalist”, which is perhaps their way of saying it’s not a show stopper. Perfectly respectable, with subtly curved corners and a simple display, HTC, true to form, has concentrated more on packing in great features while keeping the One X streamlined and light. And who can blame them?
8.0 megapixel camera with auto focus, smart LED flash, and BSI sensor for better low-light captures
32GB, RAM: 1GB
Android™ 4.0 with HTC Sense™ 4
[What they say]
“Brace yourself for lightningfast web browsing, remarkable picture quality and seamless gaming visuals thanks to the powerful quad-core processor. You’ll love the minimalist design and the camera that captures every moment (even in low light) with crisp, vivid, beautiful photos. It also lets you take a photo while shooting HD video.”
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Focus on franchise
Franchise news Enterprise Rent-A-Car launches franchise
Bfa AGM looks ahead to a brighter 2013
ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR HAS started to franchise for the first time since it was founded, 55 years ago. The business has appointed Guerin Car Rental Solutions as its franchisee in Portugal. Guerin has been a leader in car rental in Portugal for over 20 years, and has offices at the country’s major airports in Lisbon, Faro, Porto and Madeira. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the flagship brand of Enterprise Holdings, which also owns the National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car brands. Beginning with Portugal, the company now has plans to expand by franchising throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In the US, it has more than 5,500 offices within 15 miles of 90% of the US population, and in Europe has a fleet of 100,000 vehicles. Enterprise Holdings and its subsidiaries is the largest car rental company in the world measured by revenue, fleet size and employees.
THE 2012 BRITISH Franchising Association (bfa) AGM reported back on the successes and challenges of the past year, as well as looking forward to 2013. It took place in Birmingham on 6 December, where chairman Michael Eyre, director general Brian Smart, and the chairs of the bfa committees recapped on 2012 to an audience of over 70 attendees. Sean Derrig reported on behalf of the Finance and General Purposes Committee on a difficult year for the bfa, as recession once again took hold of the UK economy. Berkeley Harris commented on the work of the Quality Standards Committee, reiterating the importance of the Association’s standards, why they are in place and how they are improving the quality standards of the industry as a whole. Brian Smart will once again be working tirelessly on behalf of the industry in the coming
year to develop its relationships with those in Parliament, and Associations from Europe and across the world. He highlighted the significance of this international work in developing markets and partnerships and promoting UK franchising ethics. With appearances on national and local television networks, numerous regional and tradespecific PR activities, franchising looks set to continue its upward trends throughout 2013.
Franchise founder wins Farmer of the Year THE FOUNDER OF Riverford, the organic veg box franchise, was named BBC Farmer of the Year. Guy Watson received the accolade at the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards ceremony, held at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham. The award recognises Guy’s passion for organic food and his innovative and inspirational approach to running a sustainable business. He was specifically commended for rising to the challenge of sustainable intensification – producing more
food using fewer resources. ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to receive this award,’ he said. ‘From the outset, my aim has been to produce organic food with flavour, look after my team, my suppliers and the land, and encourage people to eat seasonally. ‘Twenty five years on, Riverford has shown that all this is possible.’ The winners of this year’s BBC Food & Farming Awards were revealed by some of the biggest names in food and farming, including Adam Henson and Raymond Blanc.
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Focus on franchise SPOTLIGHT
of fuel consumption and route and time management are important considerations for us.
We take a look at one couple’s franchise journey: Steve and Lynn Allen, who bought their Riverford franchise selling organic fruit and veg just six months ago
Did buying a franchise resale make things easier?
It’s true that buying a resale requires a lot more investment, but that’s because so much of the hard work has already been done. We needed the expertise and systems of an established company, and we needed a solid income from day one, so a resale was the only real option for us. You’ve got an established customer base, and a clear idea of profit and potential.
Have you received enough support?
UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT… RIVERFORD In August 2012, long standing Riverford Organic customers Steve and Lynn Allen decided the time had come for change. Tired of the constraints of employment in Nottingham, and with a new family to look after, they decided to start their own business as a way of achieving a better income and greater flexibility. Matt Pigott interviews:
We’d already been Riverford customers for about five years, and loved getting our organic food boxes delivered each week, mainly because of the excellent quality and flavour of the food. When we decided to look at buying a business, it seemed natural for us to start with a company we knew, that we believed in and that we knew offered a franchise opportunity.
Did you get a good return on investment?
Because of the cost of the franchise, which was high for us, we were nervous about making the investment – but we knew that we would bitterly regret it if the territory went to another buyer. Now that the purchase is behind us, and we’re Riverford franchisees, we’re happy with the decision we made.
Was it tough starting out?
Whenever you start something new, there are a lot of things to learn, particularly with an area the size of ours. We cover the whole of Cornwall; the geography is challenging where we are because you’ve got houses down tiny country lanes that are quite remote, so the logistics
“You’ve got an established customer base, and a clear idea of profit and potential”
Riverford head office and the company’s field team have been on hand to help us from day one. We’ve also had support from other franchisees in the network. We’ve never felt as though we were going it alone, which is one of the best things about being a local business and part of a national network.
How can you grow the business? One of the best ways to grow the business is to attend local food and farm shows where we’re able to meet potential customers, and tell them about Riverford. The shows take effort, and we have to do them on the weekends, but it’s the best way to engage with visitors – and it’s fun!
What are your plans for the future?
The turnover of the business when we bought it was just under £1m. Over the next three to five years we’d like to push growth to £1.2m. Our aim at the moment is to keep the business steady while we get to grips with what we’re doing, then work towards increasing our net profit through careful marketing. Contact: www.riverford.co.uk
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was really cross when I found out I’d been made redundant. I thought it was a job for life and I didn’t know what to do with myself.” Jill ”ran away” back to Germany for a couple of weeks, and spent time ”mulling things over” on her return. HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE ZIPYARD? One day Jill’s husband Gerald returned home clutching an advertisement he’d seen all about The ZipYard. He was very excited but Jill admits her initial reaction was ”But Gerald I don’t even sew!” HAD YOU CONSIDERED RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS BEFORE? “I wanted to be my own boss, manage my own time and benefit from my own efforts” Jill agreed to contact Nigel Toplis, franchisor of The ZipYard, to get more information but still felt she needed a bit more time to think it over. Nigel suggested she pay a visit to Richard McConnell, owner of the ZipYard in Altrincham. We visited Richard’s Centre and were very excited by what we saw and I felt I could manage this kind of business. WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH? “We opened on Monday 21 May 2012. I was nervous, but quietly confident. ”
FROM REDUNDANCY TO THE ZIPYARD Jill Phillips (46) admits to being ‘very cross’ when she was made redundant from her job in credit control for a major US corporation in September 2011. However, in under 12 months Jill became the proud owner of The ZipYard in Basingstoke and admits it was probably the best thing that ever happened to her.
HOW IS IT GOING? “I’m really happy. Our sales figures are good and the feedback from local people is so encouraging. People say to me This is just what Basingstoke needs. Thanks for opening here.” HAS THE FRANCHISOR BEEN SUPPORTIVE? “Yes the whole team has been fantastic. From the training, to the huge level of support I’ve had, it’s all been great. Although it’s my business, I’ve never felt alone or out on a limb. It’s been teamwork from day one.”
116 January 2012
DPS advertorial V1.indd 116
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS? “Once this business has been up and running for a while I’d love to branch out with another one somewhere else. For now I’m happy focusing my efforts on Basingstoke and making a success of it. I’ve just taken on another seamstress so the business is growing already.” WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE ZIPYARD TO OTHER POTENTIAL FRANCHISEES? “Most definitely, I’m learning all the time and it’s such a sociable business. I really enjoy talking to the customers and I get such a feeling of satisfaction from seeing how happy they are when their clothes fit properly.” ANY ADVICE TO OFFER OTHER WOMEN THINKING OF SETTING UP A FRANCHISE? “As a woman I can recommend the business. All I’d say is you have to want to succeed and know what your own capabilities are.”
KEVIN OLD THE ZIPYARD BOURNEMOUTH HOW DID YOU COME TO INVESTIGATE FRANCHISING, AND WHY ZIPYARD? ”Having been involved successfully with franchising before I was aware of its many benefits with regards to recognition and support. The ZipYard appealed to me as it had very strong branding and as important the franchisor had a good reputation within the industry and were members of the BFA.” WHAT ASSISTANCE DID YOU RECEIVE? WHAT SUPPORT HAVE YOU RECEIVED, BEFORE AND SINCE OPENING THE STORE? ”The process was fairly simple and straightforward, assistance and advice was given with regards to the site and its location together with rental and lease negotiations etc. Prior
to this I had spent a week at head office and in store training which was very comprehensive and thorough.” HOW IS IT WORKING OUT SO FAR? WHAT BENEFITS COME WITH RUNNING A RECOGNISED FRANCHISE AND PREMISES? ”The store is running very successfully and above target. The main benefits from running a franchised business are the almost immediate recognition from customers of your business together with the support and back up provided by the franchisor.” HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE FOR YOUR BUSINESS? ”I see a very bright future with the planned expansion to three to four more units within the next 24 months.” WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE CONSIDERING FRANCHISING WITH ZIPYARD - AND FRANCHISING IN GENERAL? ”The best advice to any potential franchisee of the ZipYard would be to talk to as many existing franchisees as possible. Be aware that this is a very simple business but customer service is of paramount importance. With regards to franchising in general be prepared to follow the franchisor guidelines, do not be tempted to deviate under any circumstances unless you discuss it with the franchisor first, be prepared for some serious hard work, and follow what I call the recipe book, if you do that you are more than likely going to bake a successful cake!”
WHAT’S THE TOTAL COST? Total Cost: Approx. £33,000 + VAT plus shop fit
THE SERIAL BUSINESSMAN Having been involved successfully with franchising before Kevin was aware of its many benefits with regard to recognition and support. The ZipYard appealed to Kevin as it has very strong branding, the franchisor has a good reputation within the industry and are members of the BFA. Contact: Janet Matthews T: 01530 513307 E: email@example.com W: www.thezipyard.co.uk
DPS advertorial V1.indd 117
Focus on franchise TAKE ONE FRANCHISEE
“I loved the fact that I didn’t get a corporate feeling during my research ”
my business around the demands of my little boy and family commitments. I also wanted to do something with children – so The Creation Station really ticked all the boxes for me. I loved the fact that I didn’t get a corporate feeling during my research, and dealing with the franshisor, I felt that they were all very hands on throughout the initial stages. They have also followed that through afterwards.
What support and training was given?
A three-day training course at head office and ongoing support via the network and head office. We receive weekly emails to help grow and strengthen our business, and we have access to a franchisee forum too. I can’t fault the support which I receive, which even goes so far as to check through any contracts I might be required to sign with potential partners. Head office is always on the other end of the phone or email if I need them.
How is the business going so far?
TAKE ONE FRANCHISEE: The Creation Station, Wimbledon
Melanie Dawson, Wimbledon franchisee for The Creation Station, tells us why her business running arts and crafts sessions for kids gives her the perfect work/life balance What’s your background?
I worked in the travel industry for 13 years, doing various roles: admin; sales; accounts; and organising conferences and events for large firms travelling to Southern Africa
really know where to go from there. Franchising was appealing as I would get continued support along the way. Brand awareness is also important, and with a good network all over the country I get extra support there too.
Why The Creation Station?
I chose franchising as I wanted to run my own business, but I wasn’t sure where to start and didn’t
I wanted something that was flexible and that would allow me to choose my own hours, to run
It’s going well. As my son is quite young, I am only running my business at a capacity to suit my needs. I see potential to grow my business once he is at school and I have more time to concentrate on marketing. I am currently looking for staff so that I can concentrate more on the marketing of my classes.
Would you recommend franchising to people considering starting a business for the first time? Yes, definitely; the support you get means it is much less difficult, and having a network of other franchisees is really reassuring.
What does the future hold: would you buy more franchises?
I am looking to purchase another franchise that will enhance my current business. I hope that will all fall into place in a few months’ time. Contact: www.thecreationstation.co.uk
118 January 2013
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They laughed when I said I wanted to own a cleaning company... Want a complete franchise business with no hidden costs? Want to be part of the country’s favourite cleaning network? So did all our existing franchise owners! Now they enjoy the security of offering a unique, tried and tested, cleaning system that really works. Combine this with a Cleaning Doctor branded vehicle, specialist equipment and training, ongoing technical and business development support, and you’ve taken the first step towards business success.
How big a success? That’s down to you! The more effort you impart, the more profit you will make. It’s a win-win formula for everyone.
...but look who’s laughing now!
“ Operating the many benefits listed below, we did £125K in our first year of business. We love it! ” An in-demand, home-based business serving your local community Providing rewarding services to homeowners and businesses Training in marketing, sales, services, customer care and business administration
A better lifestyle for you and your family
A comprehensive state-of-the-art equipment package Ongoing 24/7 support Fitting out and livery of your service vehicle Proven, easy-to-use marketing strategies A personal business mentor Affordable start-up investment Low overheads, high profits Cashflow from the start of the business
Stuart & Pauline Hamer, Cleaning Doctor, Carpet & Upholstery Services
UK/GB Call Mike Wilson FREE 0800 695 0544 UK Head Office (01494) 792 016 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Continual training and development Long-term growth and potential
N.Ire Call William Little 028 6634 1288 ROI Call William Little 048 6634 1288 Email email@example.com
“Patent Seekers are responsive and good value. I intend to continue to use them as my first port of call for many patent searches”. Barker Brettell
We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, so we thought we’d let our clients do it for us. “Patent Seekers have provided us with a patent search service that is professional, cost-effective & responsive”. Mewburn Ellis
STATE OF THE ART
Patent Seekers is the UK’s fastest growing specialist search company. We work in teams to ensure attention to detail, each follow meticulous processes as well as utilising multiple databases. If you have a requirement for any of our services or want to find out more information about Patent Seekers, please get in touch. Tel: +44 (0)1633 816 601 Fax:+44 (0)1633 810 076 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.patentseekers.com
The UK’s Fastest Growing Patent Search Company
What is the greatest challenge you are facing with your business right now? Christopher Catt is an experienced Business Coach who listens and supports you to accelerate your business growth.
What can I help you with?
• Want to develop your idea into a ‘real business’ • Want to create a vision that will drive everything you do from deep inside of you • Want practical straightforward solutions that you will implement • Want to be supported with the challenges you face so you succeed
What do I do next?
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120 triple ad layout.indd 1
Earn a six figure income Full training and ongoing support Proven business model Unique loyalty card Zones in prime business hotspots
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Focus on franchise FRANCHISEE RESEARCH
You can view the video of this interview, which was filmed by FranchiseSales.co.uk, on the Talk Business website
Question time What should a potential franchisee be asking of a franchisor? Be smart enough to ask the difficult questions, advises Ian Wilson, managing director of Martin & Co lettings franchise We catch up with Ian Wilson, managing director of Martin & Co, to find out the questions you should be asking if you’re considering buying a franchise.
the way, holding your hand to get you out of your first year and into your second and beyond.
What worries potential franchisees?
Speak to franchisees who have just gone through the process and ask them if this is a franchisor who keeps their word. Are they there when things are difficult? It’s great to talk to people who have been in the brand for many years – they’ve got swanky cars, and they’re making lots of profit – but actually, that’s not really the best group to talk to. Talk to the people who have just gone through the process and are having the hardest time, and see if the franchisor is there for them.
When people approach us they’re reasonably sceptical, concerned. Paying a franchise fee is a substantial amount of money, and by the time you’ve raised finance and put other cash into the business, you’re talking about a big investment. What people are worried about is that you’re going to be there for the sales process, then not there for them when they start their business and when they start having difficulties: because they will. The first year can be like Death Valley. It can be a long, hard, dark road to travel, and you have to know that your franchisor is going to be alongside you every step of
How can you get the best advice?
What would you be looking for?
What I would say now is that if you’re thinking of joining any franchise group, ask them what
they’re doing online. Ask them what they’re doing with their adwords, their website, their SEO strategy – because unless they’re going to be supporting you there, particularly in the first year of the franchise, frankly, it’s going to fail. You’ve got to be straight at the top on Google, you’ve got to be noticed online.
“It can be a long, hard, dark road to travel, and you have to know that your franchisor is going to be alongside you”
Top questions Martin & Co franchisees James Gough and Michael Malloy share their best questions: • • • • • •
How’s it going? Do you enjoy it? How hard is it? Is it as hard as you thought it would be? Are you making any money? When did you make your money back?
129 franchise questions.ga.indd 129
URBAN RURAL or
Youâ€™ll find our business tailored to you At Ovenu we really do give you a tailor-made package to enable you to manage your business just the way you want to. We will provide you with full ISO 9001 training and the best tools and systems to do the job. You will have your own personal website, local adverts and your exclusive protected local area, so your customers come straight to you. Weâ€™ll even tailor the package to take into account your location - urban or rural. It all adds up to an irresistible package - our successful brand, your successful business.
01325 251455 Simply the largest oven valeting network in the UK
Focus on franchise NEW FACES
Fancy a cuppa? TB checks out the new franchise on the block, Tea Monkey, the UK’s very first high street tea chain
Tea for two The UK high street tea chain, Tea Monkey, has launched its highly anticipated franchise business. The award-winning brand is now offering franchisees a key role in the development of Tea Monkey as it rolls out its funky tea cafes across the UK. Tea Monkey was set up by Tracey Bovingdon in 2011, to bridge a gap in the market for a high street chain that provides a high quality and extensive range of teas served in a modern environment. To this end, Tea Monkey serves over 40 types of loose tea and an extensive range of pyramid tea sacks and wellness teas. It also serves award-winning coffee and hot chocolate, and a selection of fresh foods prepared on site. Tracey says: ‘As a nation of tea drinkers, and as somebody who loves tea, I wanted to create an ethical brand of cafes to quench the British thirst for a new way to enjoy tea.
“I wanted to create an ethical brand of cafes to quench the British thirst”
‘The community aspect of drinking tea is of particular importance to Tea Monkey, so as well as running several flagship stores, we’ve now launched the franchise arm of the business. We are aiming to launch 6-12 franchises over the next year in five major cities across the UK. The launch of the franchise division marks the next step in the company’s development as it aims to become the largest chain of tea cafes in the UK and overseas within the next five years. ‘What really sets Tea Monkey apart is our service and desire to delight our customers, so we are seeking dynamic people who are keen tea enthusiasts and, like us, are dedicated to developing the brand and its values to create a social hub within their own communities.’ There are a range of franchise entry levels on offer, dependent on investment, with members
of the Tea Monkey group being given full support and training, as well as national marketing and PR. They will also have access to Tea Monkey’s stateof-the-art online ordering, stock and staff rota software. Tea Monkey cafes are welcoming to all and have a contemporary feel, with iPads on the wall and free WiFi in every store. Tea Monkey is an award-winning chain and was recognised in 2011 as the Best UK Tea Cafe by the Beverage Standards Association. This year, Tracey’s stores won the Best Tea Experience at the Grab and Go Awards (sponsored by the Rainforest Alliance) and received a 5 Cup Award at the Beverage Standards Awards 2012. Tea Monkey was one of five outlets that won the “5 Cup” accreditation, the maximum available at the awards. Contact: www.tea-monkey.com
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Talk business double pageJan TGa_Talk Business double page Nov12 07/12/2012 10:49 Page 1
Business opportunities for the entrepreneur
Start and grow your own PROFESSIONAL LAWN CARE BUSINESS “Their business model and professionalism was more evident even from my very first discussions with individuals in the business.” Karen Burdett, Franchise Owner since February 2012 TruGreen Milton Keynes & West Northants
TruGreen is an exciting business opportunity for individuals looking to develop their own professional franchise. Catering for residential customers and small commercial properties, this franchise has the potential to become a multi van operation. As a TruGreen franchise owner, you will be trained to diagnose and treat a host of lawn ailments, enabling you to offer a full range of services aimed at improving poor lawns and maintaining them in top condition. Treatments include scarification, aeration, weed & feed and hard surface weed control.
Determination, enthusiasm, ambition, ability to follow a system and good communication skills are just some of the required attributes of a TruGreen Franchisee. Above all, a willingness to work hard, being prepared to work flexible hours and having a desire to build and develop your own business will make ideal qualities. With 25 million homes in the UK, of which approximately 90% have gardens, there’s a great deal of market potential for the lawn care industry and TruGreen franchise owners.
Why choose a TruGreen franchise?
• Potential for significant future growth
• Ongoing training and business support
• Proven systems and procedures
• Marketing assistance
• Brand name recognition
• Regular seminars with fellow franchise owners
• More than 30 years turf industry experience
• Part of a multi brand franchisor
• Supported by a franchisor with over 50 years • Commitment to ethical business practices franchising experience
• Low cost start-up
For further information on this fantastic business opportunity, contact us today!
0116 275 9005 www.servicemaster.co.uk/talkb Twitter: @SM_Franchises Untitled-2 2
From new and ambitious, to established and growing, we talk business to two TruGreen business owners A recent TruGreen journey
Building a multi-van business
Karen Burdett operates the Milton Keynes & West Northants
Ed Lawrence operates one of TruGreen’s most successful
franchise and is one of our newest business owners, having
multi-van businesses and has been the Director and Franchise
been a TruGreen franchise owner since February 2012.
owner of the Hertfordshire area since 2004.
After working for over 20 years in a commercial environment,
After attending TruGreen’s comprehensive training ‘Academy’,
Karen was looking for a business which would give her a career
Ed was delighted when, following an initial marketing campaign,
change and a sensible return on investment.
work started coming in straight away. “The business started
“My passion is the outdoors,” says
Karen. “I was more than happy when one of the areas I reviewed
to grow quickly and was going so well that I soon had to take on extra help”, says Ed. “The business was going from strength to strength!”
came out on top and I decided on
Despite the economic climate, the business has continued to
succeed. “The business benefits from a very high level of
research on four lawn care brands,
customer referrals and continues to grow every year mainly
through its recommendations.
business model and professionalism was more evident even from my first discussions with individuals in the business.” “It was also learning that Steve Welch, TruGreen Network Manager, would be my support mechanism that really swung it for me, as Steve is a highly respected figure in the turf and sporting industry. His ambitious vision for TruGreen also appealed to my own personal drivers and my commercial objectives.”
We have had yet another
fantastic year despite the financial climate.” “We’re at the point where more staff would be helpful and I’m considering adding a further van and technician in the future. I believe the more you put in to the business the more you get back.” “I’d recommend TruGreen as a franchise; it keeps you busy, fit and working outside away from a desk. Every day is different and you meet all kinds of people.
“TruGreen has ambitious growth plans and is looking for
Every year has been different so
like-minded, driven franchise owners who want to succeed as
far due to our ever changing
part of a professional network. We need to work together to
climate so there’s always a
drive the TruGreen brand to No.1 in the lawn care market. If this
challenge to get stuck into.”
appeals to you and you are fit (you need to be), then TruGreen really is a franchise I would recommend.”
TruGreen is part of the ServiceMaster Family of Brands and is a fantastic business opportunity for individuals wishing to develop their own lawn care franchise. Further exciting opportunities available in the ServiceMaster Family include van, home and office based and management franchises across the domestic and commercial sectors.
Your future depends on what you do today! Stop dreaming - Take action - Contact us!
0116 275 9005 www.servicemaster.co.uk/talkb Twitter: @SM_Franchises Untitled-2 3
Directory JANUARY 2013
Your HR Partner is a unique HR Consultancy which works together with your business to address HR issues. Whether you need help in drawing up HR Policies or Contracts of Employment; dealing with poor performance; or making redundancies we will work together with you, understanding your business issues and finding solutions. T: 020 8346 8686 E: email@example.com W: www.skhr.co.uk
We offer friendly IT Support. We have options to suit all, from fully managed to P.A.Y.G. Other services include Google Apps and Hosted Exchange, VoIP, Mobile Comms, Data Comms and Backup Service. Clients range from single user offices to multi national corporations. T: 0330 999 1337 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.totallytechy.com
From a single desk for one day to a whole building for 25 years Bruntwood provide office space, serviced and virtual offices, meeting rooms and retail premises throughout Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Cheshire and Birmingham. T: 0800 731 0300 E: email@example.com W: www.bruntwood.co.uk
• Hosted and Fully Managed Service • Our Certified engineers provide complete management and administration service for all of your: - Hosted Servers - Hosted Applications - Hosted Database Systems • Or if you prefer - self-managed T: 01223 832227 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.focusonhosting.co.uk
As the UK’s longest running organisation for professional leaders, we are dedicated to supporting our members, encouraging entrepreneurial activity and promoting the highest levels of professional business conduct. T: 020 7766 8888 E: email@example.com W: www.iod.com
INDEZ specialises in producing high-growth, high conversion e-commerce businesses, capable of dominating niche areas and selling profitably into global markets. We offer e-commerce consultancy, e-commerce design and build and e-commerce marketing. T: 0141 204 5297 W: www.indez.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Bespoke HR for your business. Professional, honest and easy to understand HR consultant support and advice that suits you. Regular and ad-hoc advice to HR audit Carruthers HR can help. T: 07930153940 E: email@example.com W: www.carruthershr.co.uk
We craft compelling websites and persuasive media strategies. Through an in-depth and collaborative process, we will discover what is unique about you, then shout it from the virtual rooftops. T: +44 20 8399 4948 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.joyandrevolution.co.uk
126 January 2013
Directory JANUARY 2013
Affordable HR Solutions Stellarise help ambitious smaller companies become leaders in their field through the innovative use of IT. We are a leading provider of affordable IT support, effective project delivery and strategic advice. . T: 020 3137 3550 W: www.stellarise.com
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KashFlow Software Limited is a privately owned company based in London, England. We provide online accounting software for small businesses owners — the emphasis always being on ease of use, automation and integration. We’re widely regarded as a pioneer of the SaaS business model and as the leader in web-based accounting. T: 0800 848 8301 W: www.kashflow.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Directory JANUARY 2013
World Addresses is a hosted web service that delivers international address lookup data to any website or in-house system from the input of a Postcode, partial address or ZIP code. T: 01508 494488 W: www.worldaddresses.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Netsense focus upon providing honest and trustworthy IT Support / Solutions allowing your employees to concentrate their key skills, making your business thrive, and our own to grow with you. T: 01444 848160 W: www.itsimplified.co.uk E: email@example.com
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At Forge Dynamic, we understand the challenges that small and medium sized businesses face. This is why we aim to provide the highest quality service we can offer, while keeping costs as low as possible. We endeavour to offer flexibility in our working practises and to work closely with your business to develop solutions that suit you best. In addition, our partner network means we are able to offer additional services, creating an all round IT Support to your company. E: email@example.com T: 0845 564 6883 W: www.forgedynamic.co.uk
We can help you: • Surface and resolve team working issues • Achieve Behaviour change • Get projects off to a flying start • Get teams to adopt new processes or procedures • Unite geographically remote team members We have a record of achieving significant results with teams large and small through specially designed events and development programmes to achieve outcomes agreed with you. T: (0)1869 347558 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.hendrytraining.com
Providing insurance broking and risk management services since 1932, our priority is to offer peace of mind, value for money and to provide a personal service with a named contact and in the event of a claim, a hassle free, speedy service. T: 0844 346 0224 W: www.moffattsaunders.co.uk E: email@example.com
Do you want more sales, business or leads from your website? If so you need search engine marketing and / or social media optimisation. Remember, “When you work with Serendipity, there’s no long term contact, no hassle and no hype, just good business.” T: 0845 170 1800 W: www.serendipity-online-marketing.co.uk
Skipton Business Finance is a leading receivables financier with offices in Skipton, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. The company’s award-winning service spans factoring and invoice discounting, boasts independent status and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Skipton Building Society, a mutual that has been serving its members for over 150 years. T: 0845 602 9354 W: www.skiptonbusinessfinance.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s your brand. It’s your business. And with help from Avery, it’s your success. Avery have a product catalogue which includes laser and inkjet labels and cards, printer consumables, desktop accessories and filing products. T: 0800 80 50 20 W: www.avery.co.uk
At Flyerzone.co.uk you’ll find great designs ideas to easily customise online. Your business gets great design, printed and delivered from £7. Whatever your business, we’ve got a design for you. T: 0800 122 3003 E: email@example.com W: www.flyerzone.co.uk
Cartridge World is the UK’s largest specialist provider of high quality printer cartridges. Cartridge World offer massive savings on inkjet and laser toner cartridges without compromising on quality. W: www.cartridgeworld.co.uk
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I.T.S Telecom Ltd is part of the I.T.S Group of companies, comprising of I.T.S Support Ltd, I.T.S Internet Solutions Ltd & I.T.S Telecom Ltd. We provide a comprehensive range of IT and communications solutions to the Corporate & Education sectors. T: 0800 008 7009 W: www.its-telco.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are a brand new mobile website development company specialising in the development of mobile phone compatible websites (they’re also known as .mobi sites too). It doesn’t matter if a customer is on their PC, laptop, Mac or any smartphone, the correctwebsite will always show up. T: 01642 946 649 or 07811 337 222 W: www.mrmicrosites.co.uk
KariaTec is a leading IT support companyhelping businesses focus on their‘business’ rather than worry about their ITsystems.With our innovative solutions, our clientshave been able to maintain maximum uptime. T: 0203 137 6669 W: www.kariatec.com E: email@example.com
DynaCom IT Support was established in 2003 to give a personal service to a high business standard, serving Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. We use a combination of remote and onsite support where appropriate – our aim is to resolve your issue in the shortest time with the least inconvenience to you. Remote and telephone support is great for monitoring and simple fixes, but we believe you can’t beat an engineer on your doorstep! T: 01376 342787
Juke Media is a full service marketing agency based in Lincolnshire, registered as a trading UK Limited company in May 2010. The owners of the company formed Juke Media after all having separate interests & experiences in the digital world, noticing a niche in the market where Juke Media could place itself effectively. T: 01476 468393 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.jukemedia.co.uk
we are an integrated direct sales and digital marketing company. Essentially, this means that whatever your lead generation and sales needs are, we’ve got you covered. We have 7 years’ B2B sales experience, we are Nimble CRM and Eloqua Partners and we are also Google Adwords Qualified. T: 0808 189 0789 E: email@example.com W: www.konvertis.co.uk
With Barclays Business Abroad, you get a package of educational material, discounts and tools, including free Currency Current Accounts. In addition, you get a 25% discount on the cost of making and receiving international payments, reducing overheads and making it easier to trade internationally. It’s free until 31 December 2012 after which a fee of £5 + VAT per month applies. W: www.barclays.co.uk/businessabroad
Into Somerset is the inward investment organisation for Somerset. Its resourceful and independent team offers unbiased advice and support for businesses considering moving all or part of their business to somerset. T: 0845 1222066 W: www.intosomerset.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 5 years ago, we set out to build an independent energy brokers that focused on delivering quick, free, impartial advice to both small and large businesses, on what is the best gas and electricity deals available. T: 0800 043 0423 W: www.utilityhelpline.co.uk E: email@example.com
With over 30 years experience supporting SME’s we are proud to be able to offer a wide range of outsourced IT services and support. Our services range from hardware and software provision, tailored business communication platforms to the latest cloud services and applications, all designed to increase your productivity for a fraction of the cost of in-house T: 0845 880 2634 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.orbitalnetworks.co.uk
We supply computer network installation and support in the West London area. Our services cover all aspects of networking from consultancy through design, installation and integration to support. We specialise in the small business support market in the West London area, providing installation and maintenance of computer systems and networks T: 07885 595774 W: www.sevagram.co.uk E: Itony@sevagram.co.uk
Karbonite designs and develops professional and fun Bespoke Websites at great prices, ensuring you get great value for money. Karbonite is based in Chelmsford, Essex and specialises in E-commerce, CMS and SEO. Our services range from personal ventures to professional business Web Design. Bespoke static Web Design From £199 T: 01245 600 075 W: www.karbonite.co.uk E: email@example.com
And finally… HE SAID/SHE SAID
He said/she said Inappropriate sausage comments and slapstick moments abound...it doesn’t look like our outspoken entrepreneurs are going to grow up just because it’s a new year (phew!). Opinions (and spelling mistakes) all their own
Ricky Martin @RickyMartin247 It was -4 oC when I got up for the gym at 06:00. Don’t let the weather affect your mood it’s going to be a good day Nice sentiment Ricky – but you won’t catch us hitting the gym in sub zero temperatures anytime soon.
Holly Tucker @HollyLTucker It’s on days like this that I feel like curling up with a hot chocolate but, alas, there is lots of work to be done!
Peter Jones @dragonjones Think I might regret saying “partial to a bit of sausage”... Really, Jonesy? We can’t imagine why…
Richard Branson @richardbranson Fell flat on my arse while dancing to the @rollingstones! Well worth it, 5* performance
Hilary Devey @HilaryDevey My white jacket from Dragons Den is being auctioned for Children in Need - it must be worth more than £92! We quite agree: those shoulder pads alone must be worth a few quid?
Francis Boulle @FrancisBoulle What are the ideal qualities women look for in a man? I did a LOT of market research for #boullesjewels Hmm, we bet you did Francis…
130 January 2013
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