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



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11 Editor’s letter


13 Letters 15 News & events

Focus on success 18 Face on the cover Wonga founder, Errol Damelin

18 31

24 Take one company Private jetshare, Fly Victor 26 Introducing… TB grills an up-and-comer

81 What I learned from Steve Jobs Sales lessons inspired by the branding master

29 12 steps to success Carly Ward shows us step 5

82 The ugly truth Web marketing that works

31 The interview Tatty Devine co-founder, Rosie Wolfenden

84 Conference confidence Getting this marketing minefield right

37 Book reviews 139 He said/she said What are Britain’s entrepreneurs saying this month?

Focus on money 39 Cut costs, not staff Five money-saving tips 44 Top tips: securing investment Funding for your business 51 Going to get myself connected Choosing the right phone plan 55 Before you sign on the dotted line… Always put it in writing

Focus on strategy 57 Claire catches up with... Claire Young chats to fellow entrepreneur Mike Hamilton 59 The branding column Rich With 60 Shout it from the rooftops Stefan Boyle on content marketing 64 The perfect storm Conducting the perfect brainstorm 66 Expect the unexpected Contingency planning for SMEs 69 School’s out? The benefits of an MBA 72 Follow the leader Creating the business leaders of tomorrow

Focus on marketing

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79 Catch that prospect Tailoring your pitch

87 The research revolution Innovative market research tools

Focus on people 89 The people column Lee McQueen 90 Are you being served? Exceptional customer service 96 Two heads are better than one Why SMEs should hire consultants 99 Bored of the job board? The future of recruitment 100 Secret diary of an entrepreneur Liz Taylor’s Cairo diary

Focus on technology 103 Our man in the valley David Richards’ tech column 106 The security time bomb Best practice for print security 108 I’m with simple Elegant online user experiences 113 Become a hacker’s worst nightmare Five steps to stay secure 117 I’ve got an app for that… Our fave business apps 118 Battle of the brands Ultrabooks: Dell vs Lenovo go to head to head

Focus on franchise 123 Franchise news 127 Spotlight Longcroft Cat Hotel

74 The marketing column Kimberly Davis

128 Take one franchisee Kall Kwik’s Stewart Green

76 Press release pointers Crafting an editor-friendly release

132 Finding your franchise Picking the right franchise

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 09

31/10/2012 16:41


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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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Scan this QR code to register for your free copy of Talk Business EDITOR

Helen Coffey helen.coffey@astongreenlake.com DESIGN

Stephanie Allingham stephanie.allingham@astongreenlake.com Ross Trigg ross.trigg@astongreenlake.com PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

An Truong artwork@astongreenlake.com WEB DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Mitchell Finlay mitchell.finlay@astongreenlake.com ADVERTISING MANAGER

Scott Hartley scott.hartley@astongreenlake.com SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER

Damien Ward damien.ward@astongreenlake.com ACCOUNT MANAGER

Trystan Hurley trystan.hurley@astongreenlake.com MANAGING DIRECTOR

Jay Boisvert jay@astongreenlake.com Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Limited T: 0203 617 4680 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Aston Greenlake Limited. Floor 8, 6 Mitre Passage Peninsula Central Greenwich, London SE10 0ER T:02036174681

Age before beauty If you were wondering whether the Government was ever going to get off its backside (excuse language) and do something to encourage entrepreneurialism, wonder no more. Last month saw the official opening of the Start-up loans scheme, launched last May; it’s finally open for business, offering £2,500 loans that work much like a student loans, designed for budding young entrepreneurs. Young being the operative word. You need to be aged 18-24 to apply for the £80m scheme, making it more of an alternative to university, rather than a viable option for older people who have been made redundant or who are simply keen to finally work for themselves. I’m not one for needless Government-bashing – the initiative is a big step forward, and an encouraging sign that enterprise is increasingly becoming a priority – yet I can’t help but feel it’s a shame that older generations, equipped with perhaps better business savvy and a more mature attitude, are prohibited from benefiting. Of course, you could argue that they are more likely to be able to find funding from other sources, such as savings or redundancy packages. But that doesn’t account for the fact that they’ll miss out on the key positives of the Start-up scheme: expert guidance from mentors, as well as resources, such as virtual office services and accounting software. That’s why here at Talk Business, we aim to provide a resource with as much info and practical advice to kick-start or improve your business as possible. If you’re not in the first flush of youth, so what? You may not be eligible for a Government loan, but on page 44 you’ll find out everything you need to ensure you secure that much-needed capital. You may not have a high profile mentor, but turn to our Success section, starting on page 18, to read the inspirational stories behind thriving businesses Wonga, Tatty Devine and Fly Victor. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Enjoy,

©Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. No part of Talk Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk.

Helen Coffey Editor

Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Aston Greenlake Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation.

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A big thank you to… Liz Taylor is the founder of event company, the Taylor Lynn

Corporation. Having been in the events business for over 25 years, she has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the very best venues available to her wealth of business and private clients. She set up her business as a single mum with a budget of just £200 in 1987 (TLC Ltd broke the £4m turnover barrier a few years ago), and has organised events for the likes of UEFA, Mercedes Benz, Selfridges, and worked with Gary Barlow to stage a spectacular Children in Need fundraising event last year. Read her Cairo diary on page 100

Simon Thompson is managing director of ConferencesGroup.

A strong believer in continuous personal development, he says you are never too old to stop learning. He set up his first business, AccommodationforStudents.com, in 2000 after experiencing first-hand difficulty finding student accommodation. Today the website attracts over 750,000 unique visitors in peak months. Since then, he has set up three more businesses in just eight years: Conferences-UK.org.uk (part of ConferencesGroup), DirectFireplaces.com and Aircon247.com Read his feature on organising a conference on page 84

Nic Ricketts has over 20 years’ experience in marketing. He

has run two successful advertising agencies, and consults for large organisations on how to leverage brands for effect. Currently director of 1st Objective, he is first and foremost a copywriter, advising on branding at a high level. His business’ recent projects include the launch of Visa’s new brand to its member banks in Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, the creation of sales materials for the entire product portfolio of the newly formed Nokia Siemens Networks, and joint promotions between Avis and British Airways. Read his thoughts on website usability on page 108

Rosie Wolfenden is co-founder of Tatty Devine, the go-to

brand for lasercut jewellery. After meeting business partner Harriet Vine at Chelsea School of Art, they set up the company in 1999, and still run it completely independently. Their original and fun designs are instantly recognisable and collectable. They still design every piece, and 99% of the jewellery is made by hand in Tatty Devine’s own workshops (one in London and one in Kent). Each year, two main collections are launched at London Fashion Week, and their pieces are worn by everyone from Claudia Schiffer to Jessie J. Read her success story on page 31

12 November 2012

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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: e: helen.coffey@astongreenlake.com snail mail: Aston Greenlake, 6 Mitre Passage, 8th floor, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0ER


You got mail! Let’s sneak a peak at November’s mailbag

Tech thumbs-up Tweets of

the month… @HollyLTucker Delighted to have been featured in this month’s @TalkBusinessMag with @SophieVCornish @UnleashTeam Something for the #weekendread? How about the latest issue of @TalkBusinessMag featuring our very own Therese Kinal @YEnterpriseLive Looking forward to seeing Talk Business at the show! @MartinRSpiller #ff @TalkBusinessMag because its a great magazine for entrepreneurs not because it features me this month. @Simpologytweets “Don’t let a first impression become the last” Relevant in all areas of business, especially your website @SophieVCornish Wishing all a bright and sunny Friday @JohnRebholz @TalkBusinessMag > mentoring is the way to help #Newpreneurs

Hi, I just wanted to say that last month’s gadget page was great, very up-to-date and modern-looking [Battle of the brands, October]. Plus I’ve been trying to decide which way to go when I upgrade smart phones, so very helpful to get all the facts. It would be cool to see more stuff like that in future.


(by email)

What about us?

It is good to see so many shows for start-ups and franchises etc. But what about events for SMEs who are trying to grow it to the next stage? Maybe there is provision out there that I haven’t come across, but it always seems to me that prospective entrepreneurs and start-ups seem to have a shed-load of resources thrown at them, while we businesses who have actually built something profitable up over many years of graft are largely forgotten about. I’d love a show or conference designed to educate me about taking my company to the next level, how to take it internationally or corner more of the market share here in the UK. It’s easy to hit a plateau; I’d like real, expert advice on moving forward.

Stephen C (by email)

Feeling inspired Dear Editor, ER It was great to read the story of Holly and Sophie in your latest issue ET T H E L [High street honeys, October]! They are completely inspirational OF TNTH businesswomen, and I think the way they’ve handled their business and MO raising families and everything is just amazing. I’ve recently started my own business from home to have something to do now the kids are a bit older, and it has been very hard going so far. But to hear them say that things are never perfect, even when they are so successful, has spurred me on. It is clear that, despite everything, they are very happy and that the hard work has paid off. Yours,


(by email)

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News & events

UK’S TOP 100


REVEALED THOUSANDS OF WORKERS have revealed what working for their employer is really like, in the most detailed review of the UK graduate employment market to date. Anonymous career review site TheJobCrowd.com asked 3,000 graduates in their first three years of employment to score their company on a range of criteria, including responsibility, progression opportunities, colleague interaction, training, work-life balance and benefits. Microsoft came top, after scoring particularly highly on progression, culture and training. Finance specialist, Newton Europe, came a close second followed by National Grid, FDM Group, The Co-operative Group and Sky. TheJobCrowd.com Top 100 is expected to provide university students with a new weapon in the hunt for employment, as it allows them to access genuine feedback from their counterparts inside companies. The list comprised a mixture of established multinationals and smaller employers, with an emphasis on the realities of the day-to-day graduate roles, rather than a prediction as to how they believed the role would be. This differs significantly from other graduate recruitment studies. Keren Mitchell, co-founder of TheJobCrowd.com, said: ‘Extremely specific questions were asked of participants, and we feel we’ve been able to develop a clear understanding of the key benefits and limitations of working for a wide variety of different employers.’ Find full ratings for each company at: www.thejobcrowd. com/top-companies-to-work-for

Dates for the diary Entrepreneur 2012 13-16 November ExCeL Centre entrepreneurs2012.co.uk The Business Show 15 November Milton Keynes thebusinessshow-south.co.uk Business Startup 22-23 November Olympia, London bstartup.com The Great British Business Show 22-23 November Olympia, London greatbritishbusinessshow.co.uk East Midlands Franchise Show 23-24 November Leicester and Nottingham eastmidlandsfranchiseshow.co.uk The Business Growth Show 28 November Bolton thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk

Imperial Business Insights Series (a series of speaker events: sustainable energy business) 29 November Imperial College, London www3.imperial.ac.uk/businessschool/events The Business Growth Show 30 November Gloucester thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk The Business Growth Show 4 December Solihull thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk Ovum Banking Technology Forum 5 December Grand Connaught Rooms, London bankingtech.ovumevents.com The Business Growth Show 11 December Swindon thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk

Reflex Limited Technology Day 28 November Emirates Stadium, London reflex.co.uk/td12

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SME LEADERS WASTE 50+ HOURS A MONTH NEW RESEARCH HAS found that, on average, small business leaders across the UK are spending almost a third of their day on tasks that aren’t core to business operations. The research, launched by Ingenious Britain, found that one in four SME business owners spends 50% of the day on non-core activities, and one in ten is guilty of spending up to 90% of their time on activities that aren’t directly related to driving business growth. In response to these findings, small business community, Ingenious Britain, has launched a new initiative to encourage SMEs to think about the steps they can take to maximise their time and capacity to achieve growth. Mark Moore, founder of Ingenious Britain, said: ‘Striking a balance between running a business and growing a business is an age-old challenge for SME owners and managers. But in a tough economy and double-dip recession, it’s more important than ever that business owners take a step back and reappraise where their value in the business lies.’

British produce promoted in Paris ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY, Owen Paterson, is leading a trade delegation to Paris to boost British food and drink sales in France. British produce has been getting more popular with the French in recent years: since 2000, UK food exports to France have doubled from £1.1bn to £2.2bn, including four times the sales of cheeses such as Stilton and Cheddar, and triple the amount of whisky and beer. English sparkling wine is rivalling Champagne in top awards, and is increasingly served in leading Paris restaurants. The delegation will promote British food at a “St George” reception, and Mr Paterson

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will meet the French Food Minister and accompany British producers to SIAL, the world’s biggest food trade fair. Mr Paterson said: ‘Whether it’s fromage or fizz, our top quality produce is proving to be a match for world-renowned French cuisine. They’ve got a growing appetite for our food and drink, putting our industry in a great position to increase exports.’ Food and farming is worth £89bn to the UK economy and employs 3.5 million people. Last year UK food and drink exports increased by 9% to £18.2bn, marking the seventh year of record growth. In January, Defra launched the Farming, Food and Drink Exports Action Plan to help more companies venture into overseas markets.

WORK ETHIC BEATS AMBITION? THE MAJORITY OF UK HR directors believe that work ethic is the single most important attribute for employees to display if they want a promotion, according to new research from Robert Half UK. Ambition wasn’t the top choice for HR directors, with just over one in three choosing this trait after work ethic and leadership skills. Looking at the least valuable traits that employees should display when pushing for promotion, HR directors did not value internal networks or a sense of humour as highly in deciding whether an employee deserved to move up the ladder. Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK, said: ‘Technical skills are always considered important by an organisation. However, in today’s economic environment, candidates need to demonstrate their value to the company, with soft skills becoming a more critical differentiator between employees. ‘Work ethic has become critical for individuals to demonstrate that they are committed to the company’s overall success.’

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Focus on success

18 November 2012

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31/10/2012 14:56

Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER

THE ART OF WONGA Errol Damelin, the business brain behind pay-day loan giant Wonga, tells Helen Coffey why, far from making a fast buck, he wants to revolutionise the future of UK banking


espite the influx of payday loan companies that have emerged in the post credit crunch UK, Wonga has had by far the most publicity. And, it has to be said, not all of it positive. The short-term loan phenomenon has been pretty polarising, with many strongly arguing against the businesses that encourage this high interest type of borrowing. While there has been much outspoken criticism of the industry, this doesn’t seem to be reflected at all in the uptake of these services. Clearly this business model is addressing a very real need, one that no amount of negative press can curb. Whether or not you agree with it on principle, there is no arguing that Errol Damelin, founder of Wonga, has delivered the concept better than anyone else in the business. The website is supremely clear and functional, and whatever the critics say, it is completely upfront about the amount you’ll be expected to repay. ‘We feel very comfortable about the level of transparency,’ Errol tells me as we take a seat in the sleek and stylish boardroom at Wonga HQ.

“What we’re doing here is reimagining what financial services looks like in the digital age”

‘When you compare it to any other financial product – you look at the way Wonga provides transparency, and it’s fantastic how much control we give people.’ He is keen to dispel the image of Wonga as a “legal loan shark”, describing its brand values as being focused around authenticity. ‘We never oversell credit – we’re never about encouraging people to take on more credit than they want,’ says Errol. Rather than wanting its proverbial pound of flesh, Wonga sees itself as an occasional solution to a shortterm problem, designed to help out when people are caught short for a few weeks. With smart sponsorship choices (first Blackpool FC, more recently Newcastle United), along with those memorable TV ads of joyless elderly puppets, Wonga has proved itself a brand to be reckoned with; straight-talking, yet off-beat and modern. And with a whole host of other financial services products in the works, there’s no doubt it will continue to shake up the industry: ‘reimagining what

financial services looks like in the digital age’.

You’re a serial entrepreneur. Did you always know you wanted to get into business?

It wasn’t just about business. I always wanted to be centrally involved in the life I was living. So when I was young I did a lot of sport. When I was a student, I ran lots of student organisations. So for me work is just a more adult form of organising and doing stuff in the world; it’s not that I grew up wanting to run a business. I just want to do things. Whether they’re for profit or not for profit – I just want to make impact, and one of the ways of making impact is to build a business up, because you get to give people alternatives that they didn’t have before.

What was the inspiration behind your first business? It was the first time in my life that I came across a much better way of doing something that hadn’t been done before. This was in the late ’90s, and it was around using the Internet to connect businesses to each

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8/10/2012 12:09:47 PM

Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER

And people like our little loans, and like being in control, and like the transparency. The strength of Wonga is all about customer satisfaction. We measure satisfaction ratings almost religiously, and we’re in the zone of Apple and Google in terms of making customers happy. That’s critical for us – that’s what drives us, that’s what motivates us.

How do you deal with all the criticism in the press? Is it easy to shut it out?

“It doesn’t surprise me that people have really strong views on this stuff”

“People don’t consume any more because brands tell them what to consume”

other. I built a platform that allowed different companies to share industry information in real time, and order between themselves and see each other’s ordering patterns. I thought there was a brilliant opportunity to use technology to cut out the waste and do things differently. And that was the impulse – as soon as I thought there was a better way to do it, I thought I was as capable as anyone else to do it.

What was the inspiration behind Wonga?

I had a strong feeling that computing power had become affordable, and that people’s expectations as consumers had changed dramatically with regards to the web and mobile, thanks to Amazon and Google etc. I looked at financial services and it was

just appalling how little choice customers had; the idea of using data and technology to dramatically change how people managed money was really compelling. We looked at the banks and the credit card companies, and it was just so antiquated. Why should you only be able to have three kinds of mortgages? Why do you have to fall into overdraft late fees a couple of times a year and pay astronomical amounts? When you see Wonga and you see Wonga for Business and the future products that we roll out, you’ll see what they have in common is speed and convenience because of technology, but also that they put customers in control. And one of the ways we do that is by being super transparent. That’s all new stuff in financial services.

If you ever change things in a very fundamental way to what’s always been done, there are people who find change really difficult to bear. So it doesn’t surprise me that people find change difficult, and it doesn’t surprise me that people have really strong views on this stuff. Consumer credit, in general, is an area that people have strong views on. We live in a democracy and people should have different views on different issues. But we feel brilliantly about how we do it. We know that we’ve totally transformed the way financial services are delivered. Like every organisation we make mistakes, and journalists sometimes get typos into articles. Occasionally we lend to people we shouldn’t have lent to, and we haven’t lent to other people we should have lent to – but we acknowledge that. As soon as it comes to light we always jump on it and try to make it better for next time. The feedback we get is dramatically more positive than negative, so I think it’s easy to misunderstand the perspective on how people feel about Wonga – we’ve got a million customers plus, who overwhelmingly feel very positive about what we do. We’ve got a couple of critics on the other hand, and that’s fine, because that’s what democracy is. But in our minds they’re not equally weighted voices.

Why do you think you’ve managed to become so much more well-known as a brand than your competitors? Because I think we’re focused, and we’re honest, and we’re

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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER

bold. We’ve got a sense of what our customers want from us, and we’ve been willing to stay really focused on that. We use data constantly; we’re a very data and technology-orientated business. Subjectivity isn’t an important part of what we do; we always tend to use data to solve problems. And that’s helped us be successful. When we look at developing new products and optimising our current products and how we deliver them, we’re using real information about how people really feel about us. On the other hand, we’ve built a brand that’s a breakthrough stand-out brand, because it stands for something. I think that we live in an age of authenticity. Advertising when it’s disconnected from reality works less and less. The idea of having a business and then getting an ad agency offer to make it seem like something different, like Mad Men, worked at a particular point in human history – I think we’re living now in an age of authenticity where you can’t disconnect reality from perception. We were willing to live what we talk about. So the fact that we’re straight-talking and believe in control is exactly what we live and breathe and talk about.

Has the TV campaign pushed you further forward in terms of brand awareness?

We think about it in a very multichannel way. We think about the totality of how we talk to people, to customers and prospective customers. So TV’s always only been one element in that. We help people when they occasionally need extra cash. We never oversell credit – we’re never about encouraging people to take on more credit than they want. That’s why we created a product where people can pick and choose the amount of credit that they want. It was only ever created as an occasional product, and so creating context for people is important. We advertise so that

the next time people are in that situation, they remember Wonga. But TV works for us because we’ve got an offering that people want ultimately. If you’re trying to sell something that people don’t want, or need, or value, it doesn’t matter how much TV or anything else you do. People don’t consume any more because brands tell them what to consume, they consume what they want to consume themselves.

What have been your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur? Have you ever thought it was too difficult?

No! There are moments when you suffer – with running marathons it’s the same thing – but there’s not really an option to stop. Building a great team is a challenge. We built a team literally person by person. So it’s a real challenge to build a team of hundreds of people who are all amazing.

What advice would you give to new start-ups in the current economic climate?

I never focus on the macroeconomic issues – ever. My last business I started in what in historical terms would have been the dot com bubble, and by the time I’d really got going it had become the dot com collapse. That doesn’t matter. As an entrepreneur, if one believes that one is solving an important problem, one can’t control what happens in the Eurozone – so you’ve got to choose to focus on what you can control in the world. If a business is so marginal that it could only work in a good economy, it’s probably not the right idea. If you’re trying to build something of meaning in the world, for me that means something sustainable – it needs to work in different economic cycles. If you’re building Amazon or Google or Facebook, it doesn’t just work in good times or just in bad times; because you’re solving real problems for people.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur? “If a business is so marginal that it could only work in a good economy, it’s probably not the right idea”

Having a much greater degree of control over your life and your environment. I don’t think one ever has total control over it – but in general, I wake up every morning and go out and try and build the world the way I want the world to be. That’s an amazing thing to be able to do. It’s a privilege and it’s something I value massively.

How’s your work/life balance?

I’m not good at boundaries. My work is what I do, as much as living is what I do. For me, I think a distinction is artificial. This is me and it’s an extension of me – I look at it holistically, I don’t think of it as a contradiction. Work and fun, for me they’re the same thing. This is fun, so it doesn’t feel like work. This my art – the art of Wonga. Contact: www.wonga.com

22 November 2012

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02/11/2012 16:07

Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY

Come fly

with me… M

In the two years since Clive Jackson first launched his private jetshare community, membership has gone from seven acquaintances to over 2000 travellers worldwide. TB finds out the story behind Fly Victor

ost entrepreneurs come up with their business idea to meet a need they see in the world around them. In Clive Jackson’s case, he experienced this need first-hand, when two airlines in quick succession cancelled the flight routes that took him to his holiday home in Parma. It wasn’t a potential problem that people might encounter – it was a very real and immediate issue, that he and his fellow passengers were grumbling about while stuck on a British Midlands jet. ‘That started me thinking: is there an alternative, and how much it would cost?’ says Clive.

24 November 2012

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Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY

‘The guy next to me asked if I ever chartered. I said, what about the extra seats; can I have a lift? I asked the other people what they thought and stepped off the flight with seven business cards and a vague promise that, if it works, count me in.’ That might well have been that if Clive had been a regular wage slave. But already a serial entrepreneur, he decided to see if this idea could really fly: the idea of creating a community of travellers who could charter and share the price of a private jet anywhere in the world. ‘Overall, this is my ninth business. I’ve been in the Internet space for about 20 years, before the Internet was fashionable, so I knew how to build the technology and the platform, what I wanted from the brand, how I would go to market, and the kind of partnerships that would help scale the business.’ Having an experienced entrepreneur at the helm undoubtedly helped speed the growth of Fly Victor; but the factor that enabled the business to take off at such speed was the fact that there were many others out there who, just like Clive, were desperately seeking an alternative to mainstream flight paths. Clive said: ‘In 2010, that first seven people grew to about 100 in 90 days, just from word of mouth. I thought, maybe there’s something here. And it could work anywhere in the world – anywhere you can’t fly direct.’ He’d judged the gap in the market correctly, and there was clearly a demand that was there to be met. And yet, it didn’t come without risks. ‘To start a business that had never been done before, with a lot of reasons why it could go wrong, and at the mercy of technology too, which is always the Achilles’ heel…it was a bit of a gamble. ‘I thought if I could build a proof of concept and get it

“That first seven people grew to about 100 in 90 days, just from word of mouth. I thought, maybe there’s something here”

“We’re not BA, but we’re well into the hundreds, and that means it’s working”

working, then I’d stand a chance of making some money.’ He was right. What he put together mirrored the business that Fly Victor has evolved into: a marketplace for those that want to charter a private jet, request a quote, compare a quote, with total transparency to see the fee and have the security to be able to pay online. Clive adds: ‘The philosophy is that it’s designed by people who charter jets for people who charter jets. ‘One of the big bonuses is that if you choose to sell any spare seats on that jet, you can now do that legally through Victor. That opens up private jet travel to a new audience, making it more accessible and affordable.’ Private jet firms did not leap on board with the alacrity that Clive might have hoped at the beginning though, and one of his biggest struggles with the business was persuading them that this was a great, groundbreaking idea, rather than a threat. ‘The main struggle was to persuade the jet operators that this was wonderful,’ he says. ‘That it was an idea that could work. But it’s a highly skeptical market, and it was really hard to convince them that we were actually going to promote them, not hide them behind a garden wall.’ The way Fly Victor got around this was to give them a free platform, and to live up to their word – ascribing to the belief that the only way to build trust is by continuously proving your trustworthiness. ‘You start to build credibility. It’s 11 months since we launched in Europe and in that time we’ve done a good few flights – I mean, we’re closing on for 300. We’re not BA, but we’re well into the hundreds, and that means it’s working.’ It certainly looks like it. In two years, Clive has built the business from those seven names on his fellow

passengers’ business cards to an ever-growing online community of 2333 members (at the time of going to press), chartering jets all over the world. Their members are largely entrepreneurs – business-orientated people who don’t have the time or the patience to spend hours checking in every time they fly on business, and who like the luxury of stepping off the plane and being as near to their end destination as it’s possible to get. And it isn’t just Clive or his members who have cottoned onto what a brilliant idea this is. When asked what his biggest achievement has been, Clive named the funding Fly Victor secured earlier this year for the business. ‘That was a measure that people believed in Victor, or believed in me, sufficiently to want to invest. But that clearly comes with its own pressures…’ Despite those pressures to succeed, Clive is thinking big, and knows that the concept has the potential to become huge. He is very sure of future plans, and the next few years are all about expansion. ‘Victor is what I’m focused on seven days a week at the moment, and I will do so until we’ve made it a success,’ he says. ‘There’s not just me now, there’s eight people who are equally dedicated. We want to take it worldwide, and we will be adding South East Asia and transatlantic flights. The future for the business is to become a global trading platform and marketplace, and by the time we get there we’ll have close to 150 employees. I know the challenges we’ll face, and we’re still at the beginning of that journey, but it’s hugely exciting.’ Contact: www.flyvictor.com

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 25

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Focus on success UP-AND-COMING

My life I’m watching: Be your own Boss and Dragons’ Den I’m reading: Lean Startup by E. Ries, Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson I’m listening to: Arcade Fire, Foals, When Saints Go Machine, Joshua Redman I’m surfing: Eventhread.com, Facebook, Angel.co, eBay, LinkedIn, Etsy

Where did the idea come from?


Renata Pilikinaite and Tadas Labudis Eventhread founders and Shell LiveWIRE finalists Renata Pilikinaite and Tadas Labudis are this month’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs; we find out what makes these social platform creators tick Ever missed a gig by your favourite songstress, or overlooked that amazing exhibition you were dying to see? There’s always so much going on in today’s hectic world, it’s easy for events to pass you by. This is the problem that Eventhread, the online platform dreamed up by Renata Pilikinaite and Tadas Labudis, aims to address. The site aggregates event data from different ticketing and event listing websites and makes personalised event recommendations.

We arrived at the current idea and product by developing, testing and learning from our previous idea – Studyman. It was an event discovery platform for university students and societies. We realised it could never become the big thing we wanted it to be because it was targeting a very specific audience; so we decided to expand beyond student events.

What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs trying to get an idea off the ground?

Don’t be afraid to tweak your initial idea as you go. Always be proactive and persistent. People tend to ignore you when you’re new to the business world, so just keep looking for opportunities and persistently network with people.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be doing today?

RP: I would probably have been a musician. I used to play violin and cello when I was younger, and it was hard to decide whether I would like to take my music further… TL: I would probably be a drummer. At school I seriously considered following in my father’s footsteps and becoming a jazz drummer.

What’s been your worst ever job?

RP: Waitressing at an old hotel that was about to shut down. TL: My first and worst job ever was at a furniture factory when

I was still at school. I worked 10 hours a day, and was spending more on packed lunches than I was earning.

What’s top of your bucket list? RP: Visiting San Francisco and Sydney, and learning French. TL: Moving to a sunny place to work on my start-up.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

RP: The thought of what’s next. I’m excited about opportunities to learn more, and I love the feeling of completing a task. TL: Completing and ticking off tasks on my to-do list, and coming closer to my dream of building a successful start-up.

How much does money motivate you?

We are more motivated by success, recognition and achievement than by the money itself. At the end of the day, if Eventhread is going to be successful, the money will come as a result without chasing it.

What’s your vision for the future of Eventhread?

Our ultimate goal is to become the Foursquare for events. Instead of allowing people to simply discover new places, we plan to take it a step further by providing people with live event information. Contact: www.eventhread.com

26 November 2012

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07/08/2012 11:28

Focus on success 12 STEPS

Carly Ward

The steps to success: Step 5 Carly Ward, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Society, tells us how to reject rejection in the fifth step from her accredited entrepreneurial qualification

“Rejection helps you to improve, so you need to look at it as an opportunity”

Rejection is something we all have to deal with: not just in business but in our personal lives too. The method of handling it is, however, exactly the same, no matter what the situation. What is rejection? It is how you feel when someone has refused to accept you or your idea – it is a personal thing and there is nothing scientific about it. We all have different feelings inside us, and while you might be devastated by a rejection, someone else in the same situation might not feel upset about it at all! Rejection is someone telling you things are not quite right – at least, not for them, right at that moment. They may be right or they may be wrong, but we need to examine the reasons for the rejection, instead of getting emotional and frustrated about it; and we need to see if perhaps they might actually be right. It provides a great opportunity to improve on your presentation or idea because, if they are right, you need to take action and change what you are doing. Sometimes people can be a little blunt in their delivery of a rejection, but you must keep emotion out of it and look at the facts. Rejection helps you to improve, so you need to look at it as an opportunity – not as an insult. Rejection can actually help you to make things fantastic, as opposed to just good. People that feel as though rejection has demolished them are people that need to work on

their confidence levels. This is the next step, and I will tackle it next month. If you are not a confident person, you need to work on your self esteem and have a better sense of self belief. If your idea or proposal is just not good enough, then you need to improve on it. On the other hand, your idea or proposal might just be too fantastic for anyone to understand. You need to have a balanced view of yourself and your ideas and see them for what they are, and again, remove the emotional side of your feelings and stick to the facts. Rejection doesn’t really exist; it is just a state of mind. We all react differently to situations. This is where strength of character comes in big time, and being an entrepreneur means you must be

emotionally strong, because you are going to get rejected many times before you make it. The top seven qualities for being a successful entrepreneur (step 1) must come into play, and you must have the whole package to withstand the challenges that will be thrown at you. Providing you believe in yourself and have the confidence to keep going, rejection will make you and your idea better and better all the time. I have been rejected countless times, but the result was that my product became better and better, so I’m now confident that it really does work. Contact: www.yesnetwork.co.uk Twitter @carlyyes @yesteam

talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 29

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26/09/2012 14:00

Focus on success THE INTERVIEW

All that Artists turned jewellery makers Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine took their offbeat designs from Camden market to Vogue in just a few months, to create iconic cult brand Tatty Devine. Rosie tells TB their incredible story


umble beginnings

We started straight out of college; we studied painting at Chelsea School of Art, and neither of us wanted “proper” jobs. We wanted to be painters. We were magpies, and loved collecting and making stuff; we were making things rather than envisioning a business. We started with a market stall, making vintage items before the vintage boom had started. We found this

sample book of leather in every colour and texture imaginable, and started making wristbands. We had a stall at Camden market and sold a few and thought, well, this is good. That was in July ’99. By September we were in Whistles and Vogue. We found our roles very quickly: Harriet was very good at making, and I was very good at selling. On the market stall we met Urban Outfitters, and we’re still working with them

today. We very quickly realised that we wanted to take our idea further. It just made us want to go onwards and upwards. We first started using acrylic in 2001 when we went to New York and went to a sign shop. We didn’t want to mass produce our jewellery, we wanted to carry on making it independently.

“I’d like the business to grow, but the challenge is to grow but retain the specialness”

In Vogue

Getting our name out there was a really organic process. We got

 talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 31

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Focus on success THE INTERVIEW

“Every day is different, and every day is fantastic”

the press going very early on, because they were hungry for interesting stories, and in the late ’90s there was an interest in creative things. The Vogue thing came about because I was wearing a headpiece on my head that I’d made, when the stylist from Vogue walked into the shop I was working in on the King’s Road. She said: ‘Wow I love it, where’s it from?’ When I told her I’d made it, she asked us to come in with our “collection” – we made it over the weekend! I went to other magazines off the back of that. There is an element of luck, but also taking advantage of as many opportunities that come along as you can, both in sales and in marketing your business.

because we weren’t retailing, we were wholesaling. You’d make all this stuff for people, but then you had to wait for them to pay you. So we had literally no money, and we said: ‘What are we going to do?’ And we had to get a jobs, which was a bit of a backwards step. We had to borrow from our families to pay the rent. But other than that time, we’ve always made just enough. It’s been really challenging to stay independent, because we’ve grown so much this year. Keeping the team strong and happy and recruiting new people is hard. There are huge changes, restructuring and looking at the brand; it’s such a strong brand it needs handling really well. We don’t want it to lose the originality, the playfulness. We have always been independent, rather than mass-produced, and we have managed to do it organically, step by step.

Being the boss

I absolutely love being my own boss. Every day is different, and every day is fantastic. There is no routine. I’m in exciting meetings all the time, and you never know what’s going to happen that day. It keeps us all really engaged. Also creating

something from nothing – that is really important. I’ve often pondered what I would be doing if I wasn’t an entrepreneur, because both of us wanted to go off and do an MA in painting. I was on the list to do one at Royal College, but a place never came up. It would still have to be something creative; Harriet would be doing something with her hands. We both come from a long line of self-employed people, so we had a sense we’d make our own job, and be our own boss.

Looking ahead

In the future, I’d like the business to grow, but the challenge is to grow but retain the specialness. Whenever we do focus groups, our customers don’t want us to lose the independent feel; they like to feel they’ve discovered us, that we’re special, rather than being a mass market. Contact: www.tattydevine.com

Challenging times

We started out with nothing – we were graduates and didn’t have any money. We had no responsibilities or expectations. Initially, nothing really mattered, so it was very exciting – any money we made we could put it all back into the business. However, the problems came

32 November 2012

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Focus on success BOOK REVIEWS



Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker are the founders of notonthehighstreet.com, an award-winning, multimillionpound online marketplace. But six short years ago they were maxing out their credit cards, trying to secure loans and crossing fingers that their big idea would take off. Now they’ve written down all the lessons they had to learn the hard way: from finance and marketing to PR and getting your workspace right. With startling honesty, they lay bare the truth about getting started while raising a young family at the same time.

They say: Perhaps you’re a high-flying corporate exec who wants to escape the rat race, or a parent who wants more time at home with the children but still needs to bring in (at least) half the household income. You might be happy to sweat your 9-5 for a few more years but want to keep the creative spark in you burning bright. If you’re any of these people – this book is for you. We know, because we did it ourselves – mistakes and all – and this is the book we wish we’d had when we started. We say: A fantastic combination of really practical, hands-on

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Build a Business is published by Simon & Schuster, priced at £14.99 in hardcover, paperback and e-book


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Pinfluence shows marketers, entrepreneurs, retailers, bloggers, and others how to use Pinterest and convert followers into buyers. It offers step-bystep, actionable guidance for beginners, and more advanced advice and ideas for seasoned Pinterest users, including: how to set up Pinterest for maximum business exposure; how to develop a targeted Pinterest strategy; advanced Pinterest marketing techniques; and Pinterest for B2Bs. Pinfluence is for anyone who wants to harness the marketing power of Pinterest to grow their business.

She says: My goal is to give you lots of ideas for marketing in a creative and compelling way using this new social platform. I’d like you to come out of this book with a strong grasp of how Pinterest works so that it will spark ideas for your marketing team, customer service team, or fundraising group. You can enter Pinterest’s dynamic and interesting room of scrapbookers and collectors, and if you’re smart and considerate, you can use Pinterest as a powerful marketing tool to grow your business, make more money, and build powerful, loyal communities around your brand.

We say: A nice, simple guide to a huge social media platform that is often overlooked by businesses. While many entrepreneurs are Facebook and Twitter literate, far fewer understand how to tap into the marketing opportunities offered by image-sharing website, Pinterest. Aimed specifically at businesses, Pinfluence takes you step-by-step through setting up an account, attracting followers and interacting with potential prospects, and turning interest into sales. If you were considering using a more visual platform for your social media but didn’t know how to get started, this is the book for you.

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31/10/2012 15:45

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26/09/2012 14:31

Focus on money

Cut costs, not staff When times are hard, the first instinct is often to reduce your workforce. Here James Constant, chairman of the Energy Forecaster and MD of Business Juice, gives five tips for cutting costs, not staff


recent survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed that two-thirds of companies believe they will have to cut jobs if the economy does not improve over the next 12 months. However, as most businesses are acutely aware, while reducing the payroll may be necessary, there can be negative ramifications: skills shortages, impact upon resourcing, damage to morale and so on. With that in mind, we at Energy Forecaster started to look at what else companies can do to cut costs, and were surprised to find that there are many different options – which could easily add up to one or more salaries. Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Move offices

Many companies are paying too much for their office or business premises. This could be because they are leasing too much space, or because they are paying a premium for the location. Significant amounts of

money can be saved by moving offices, or at least downsizing the space you are renting. For example, renting a 300 square foot office space in central London could cost you around £10,250 per annum, compared to an office of a similar, or even larger, size in somewhere such as Camberley, which could cost closer to £3,500. However, moving your premises is not always an option, and if this is the case then you should also consider re-negotiating with your landlord or leasing empty desk space to freelancers and other small companies. Potential saving – £6,750

2. Reassess your expenses policy Although many companies scaled back their expenses policy at the start of the recession, this is still a major area for unexplained costs that often cannot be charged back to clients or customers. The Global Expense Benchmark Report 2011 found that around £1.3bn is being lost by UK businesses annually due to fraudulent and out-of-policy expense claims; businesses

need to have strict policies in place for expenses, including exactly what can be claimed back, how it needs to be claimed back, and when it needs to be claimed back by. Potential saving – £28 (£1.3bn divided by 4,542,765 businesses in the UK)

3. Renegotiate supplier costs

Often businesses will have been using the same suppliers for a number of years, and do not realise that they are in a

“While reducing the payroll may be necessary, there can be negative ramifications”

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31/10/2012 15:48

Focus on money CUTTING COSTS

good position to renegotiate costs. This can be anything from stationery suppliers, to the milkman, to who you buy your energy from – which is our specific area of expertise. For example, for an average customer, the least competitive energy rates on the market are 70% higher than the cheapest ones available. This could be for a number of reasons: for example, a business could be paying out-of-contract rates, which are typically double the best price on offer. Usually though, it is simply because they do not research tariffs enough to know if they are getting a good rate or not. The average saving for someone who switches is £784.40. However, by switching from the highest electricity unit rate to the average, a business using 25,000 kWh a year would save £4,130. Potential saving – £4,130

4. Source your own staff

Despite the recession, there are occasions where a company will have a member of staff leaving, and the position still really needs to be refilled. If this is the case, then businesses can save thousands on recruitment agency fees by sourcing their own new staff member. The average cost of hiring a new employee in the UK is around £5,300 according to a recent survey, with the majority of these costs being spent on the use of recruitment

agencies. Although it may be easier in some cases to rely on a consultant to fill a role with specific or specialist skills, social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn are often where agencies look themselves anyway, so businesses shouldn’t be afraid to approach people directly using these platforms. They can also advertise jobs on their own website, which many companies no longer do. Some businesses that have turned to social media and other more direct methods of recruitment have been reported as reducing their recruitment costs down to £1,700 – a significant saving. Potential saving – £3,600

5. Review your pay, bonus and

benefits processes Although this is likely to be a blow to staff, the majority would probably rather lose some of the perks they receive than lose their jobs. Ways of cutting back include reducing bonuses for the year (however they may be structured), reducing or culling staff entertainment, and cutting back on nonessential benefits, such as gym memberships. These changes do not need to be permanent but can go a long way to helping a business through a recession. Furthermore, the majority of employers in the UK could be wasting the money they spend on salaries and benefits by leaving employees in the dark about the true value of the total

“Businesses will have been using the same suppliers for a number of years, and do not realise that they are in a good position to renegotiate”

package, according to a study by the CIPD. The average benefits package in the UK is estimated to be between 20% and 30% of the employee’s annual salary, yet when asked, the majority of respondents would guess at 10%. So by improving communication between you and your employees, you are likely to be able to make them aware of the true value of their benefits package, and be met with understanding and acceptance from employees when you cut back on these perks. By reducing your employees’ benefits package to 10% of their salary, you could make a significant saving. Potential saving – £4,898 (when benefits are reduced from 30% to 10% of the average UK salary for SMEs, £24,491)

Total saving – £19,406 So as you can see, by making just a few changes to your business strategy, it is quite possible that you will be able to make savings equal to at least one salary. While some of these tips may not provide a long-term solution, they do offer alternative options to redundancies when businesses are looking to save money. Contact: www.businessjuice.co.uk

40 November 2012

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31/10/2012 15:48



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19/10/2012 15:59

Focus on money FUNDING

Top tips: securing investment Getting investment is the holy grail for most start-ups and SMEs. Ian Barratt and Keith Chaplin-Mabbutt, both partners at Profectus Capital LLP, offer their seven top tips for raising finance

44 November 2012

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Focus on money FUNDING


ou’re most likely reading this article as either an entrepreneur looking to launch a new start-up, or as an existing business owner seeking to expand and develop your current enterprise. Whichever camp you’re in, there are a number of steps you should ensure you take in order to give yourself the very best possible chance of success in raising the finance you now require. Here, the partners of training and investment company, Profectus Capital, discuss their seven top tips to secure the funding you need:

1. An effective executive

summary and business plan

An executive summary is normally a one-page summary of your business idea or business plan. This is a crucial marketing document and should be viewed and written as such. Your aim with this summary is to give the investor a taste of what your business opportunity is all about in a short and concise manner, and should both promote the viability of your investment proposal and entice the investor into reading your complete business plan. It’s best to stick to the core facts and not to elaborate too much at this stage. Your business plan is a written document that describes your business venture in greater detail. It will typically include the objectives of your business, key strategies, the market you are in, and outline your financial forecasts for the business. The document should be a detailed summary of normally no more than 30 pages, presenting information on all of the important aspects of your business and the investment opportunity.

“It is about the founder first, the idea second”

“It always helps your position if you can demonstrate revenues already achieved”

2. An elevator pitch

What is the unique selling point (USP) of your business? Think carefully about this. Is it the price? Product? Perhaps the management team? Once you have identified this it will enable you to differentiate your business offering from your competition. Though this

044_046 Secure Finance.ga.indd 41

“The golden rule is to be realistic”

is only the first part. You next need to be able to articulate it easily and effectively. Profectus Capital provides “investor presentation days” to selected businesses, and when it comes to meeting with investors you must ensure you have your elevator pitch fully prepared. This should be a short, 60-second description of your business that you could relay to anyone at any given time, and have that person fully understand what it is your business does. Picture the scenario. Imagine Richard Branson steps into a lift with you at ground floor level. It’s only you and him. Richard turns to you and asks: ‘So what do you do?’ You’ve got the time it takes the lift to reach the top floor to deliver your marketing message and it needs to be crystal clear. Be cautious and avoid the “so what” element.

3. Get educated

Many people start their businesses following employment or a personal experience they have had. So you’d think having the key product knowledge and industry expertise is all you need to secure your required investment, right? Not quite. When you start your new business venture, it’s normally the case you are not only the founder of your business but also the marketing director, sales director, operations director and finance director – all manner of different positions crucial to the success of your enterprise. It’s vital that you give thought to this and get educated about the investment process to understand its implications. Ask yourself the following questions: • What do I know about selling (and can I sell)? • How much do I know about marketing? • Do I completely understand my numbers? • Can I pitch to investors with my knowledge of the above? If you cannot, hand on heart, answer these questions confidently and well, you need to take action and get educated prior to seeking

investment. Profectus Capital works with entrepreneurs and business owners on exactly this; we call it the funnel funding process. A staggering two-thirds of small businesses fail within the first year of trading, largely due to lack of planning (leading to poor sales activity), preparation and financial management. If you want to grow your business through investment, you must demonstrate that you understand and can offer the key competencies, such as sales ability, marketing expertise and financial acumen – or know how to attract any of these qualities – to then be able to engage and progress with interested investors.

4. Early sales (initial proof of concept)

When approaching investors for funding, it always helps your position if you can demonstrate revenues already achieved, no matter how small the collective sum. This will make a much bigger impact with investors than providing a business plan on its own. It proves to the investor that there is an appetite for your product or service. If, however, this is not applicable to your position (e.g. you are in start-up mode), then demonstrating you have secured a contract or entered into a credible strategic partnership that offers an easy route to market, can help you to appear desirable. Letters of intent from sources such as suppliers, customers and partners, are also beneficial.

5. Know your numbers

First of all, have you invested any of your own money into your business? If so, how much? When? And what was it used for? If you have already invested your own money into your business, this gives an investor a great deal of confidence. But you need to know how to convey just how it’s been used. Beyond this, investors will also want to know every line on your cash flow forecast and profit and loss account. No idea what these

31/10/2012 16:09

Focus on money FUNDING

are? Get educated and be in the know. Profectus Capital can help you on these through our workshops. You need to know your projected turnover (sales), profit and/or your break-even point. Often we ask entrepreneurs to be prepared to describe what would happen if you only achieved half of your sales forecast and if your costs doubled! Not a nice thought but if you can show an investor you have covered every eventuality, you are less likely to be caught out by those surprise questions.

6. How much equity is on offer?

Angel investors will almost certainly want to take an equity stake in your business. The capital you raise is therefore classed as an equitable investment. The amount of equity an investor will take will depend on several factors, but mostly will concern the amount of money you require, the level of risk and the maturity of your business, and whether it’s currently making any money. Typically, the younger your company, the higher the risk, and the greater the equity stake an investor will look to take. For example, companies which are already profitable will normally need to give away less equity than a pre-revenue company. Angel investing is usually viewed as high risk, so the investor’s equity stake and estimated return on investment will normally reflect this. The golden rule is to be realistic. As an indication, angels are usually looking for businesses that have the potential to return at least 10 times their original investment within a three- to five-year period. You therefore need to value your business realistically, otherwise an angel investor will find it very difficult to justify pursuing your investment opportunity.

7. How will the investment be used?

If an investor was to write you a cheque today for the full amount you require, what would you spend the money on? When would you spend it? Investors will want to

know what their money is going to be used for, and over what period of time. Though it’s worth noting that depending on the particular investor profile you seek, angels may even be able to help you reduce your start-up or expansion costs. Giving clear thought to the utility of their money and how and when you will use it for the benefit of the business, as well as what value is derived from the activity, will give investors greater confidence.


The most important thing to keep in mind is that with most equitable investments, it is about the founder first, the idea second. Angel investors need to be confident that you are the right person to lead and drive the business forward. To help you further, expect these types of questions from a hungry investor: • What compels customers to buy your product or service? • What problems does this product or service solve? • Why is it better than the alternatives? • Why this price? • Why hasn’t anyone else done this before? • What makes you believe you’re the right person to drive this business? • What value do you put on the business today? • How did you come to this figure? • If I wrote a cheque today, what would you do with the money? Do your homework on your numbers, get educated on the fundamental areas required from an investor to secure their funding – and be ready to deliver a perfect pitch. Profectus Capital provides access to a large number of angel investors, many who are looking to invest in the right business now. Make sure your business is one of them.

Ian Barratt

Keith Chaplin-Mabbutt

Contact: www.profectuscapital.co.uk

46 November 2012

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02/11/2012 16:32

Focus on money PHONE PLAN

Going to get

myself connected… When you’re starting out, choosing the right mobile plan for your business can be instrumental in keeping costs down and keeping connected. T-Mobile’s VP for business, Martin Stiven, gives his expert advice


t doesn’t matter whether the company is just starting out, or if you’ve been trading for several years, and it doesn’t matter which industry you’re in. There are two things which every business has in common: cash and communications, both of which play a big part in how you decide on the right mobile phone plan for your business.

Communication breakdown

Every business relies heavily on good communication. Whether it’s internal or external, keeping information going to the right places can make all the difference. With small businesses, good communication is a great way to stand out from the crowd – a personal touch with suppliers or customers is what can set you apart.

Cash is king

Managing cash flow is important for the success of any business, but it’s especially important with the tight margins involved in small businesses. Being careful with your expenditure will allow you to invest in resources that help to grow the business over time. Consider purchases which will help the business in different ways over time. For example, a new smartphone may help you keep up with business emails,

stay on top of finances on the move using budgeting apps, create marketing literature with word processing apps, as well as enabling you to manage your online presence.

Cutting the cord

A big question is, what kind of communication system do you need? This decision usually comes down to fixed landlines versus mobile phones. We recently conducted nationwide research into the

working habits of microbusiness owners, who employ one to nine people. The results show a big rise in mobile working – 40% said that they need to work from home regularly, and a further 17% said they are on the road and travelling on a daily basis, so needed a flexible communication method. Mobile clearly has something to offer if you’re frequently on the move, with a massive 78% of microbusinesses saying that they had seen a number

“Mobile clearly has something to offer if you’re frequently on the move”

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Focus on money PHONE PLAN

“With small businesses, good communication is a great way to stand out from the crowd”

of benefits from using mobile phones. These ranged from the ability to work from anywhere, to being able to deliver quick customer service, and enjoy better relationships with customers and suppliers. The benefits didn’t stop there – 34% said that in the last year having a mobile phone had helped them to actually grow their business, with people taking advantage of increasingly sophisticated devices like smartphones so that they can use email on the go, and search for information using their handset.

How to plan with your mobile plan

Choosing when and how much to spend on a specific service

is a big decision. A large upfront cost and long-term commitment may leave you without resources to channel elsewhere, and your needs may change before the end of the contract, leaving you stranded. It can be particularly painful to part with money during the first year or two of a new business, so new businesses should look to find the most flexible offering, with low upfront costs. Even for an established business, being locked into a long-term contract can be hazardous as the economy may change over time, or the business may change direction. Flexibility in a mobile phone plan is important; there’s little point in investing money in something you’ll outgrow before the end of the agreed term. You’ll either up end paying extra as you go over the built-in allowance, or you’ll find the business is constrained and unable to grow without the additional capacity, making it harder to service new and existing customers. Short-term plans can often be a sensible choice for start-ups and small businesses – these offer a lot of flexibility and leave you room to adapt. It’s a difficult decision to make, because not only will the mobile phone plan you choose affect your cash flow, it’s also going to affect how you conduct business – if you’re constantly worried about going over your plan’s allowances, you’ll find yourself hesitant to take advantage of your phone as much as you should. It’s especially difficult as a start-up to predict exactly how much of a balance between voice minutes, texts, and data you’ll require. A growing business may see more benefits from a contract which includes free networkto-network calls, allowing employees on the same network to speak whenever they need at no extra cost.

Decision time

The key for small businesses is to keep their options open, take time to do their research, and choose a plan which is flexible so it can adapt and grow with them, instead of repeatedly having to completely change their mobile phone plan. Make sure that the plan is clear and you understand all of your options. At T-Mobile, we’ve taken the time to understand the needs of small businesses and lay things out in simple terms. For example, we offer a wide range of plans as short as six months (we’re the only network to offer a free smartphone with a six month plan), and we also offer business plans such as the “Full Monty for Business” which is designed for small businesses. It’s £35 per month and provides unlimited cross-network calls, mobile Internet and texts, allowing you to keep the business running wherever you are in the UK. Businesses also have a range of smartphones which they can have for free on the plan, helping time-pressured small business owners to multi-task by having access to their work emails, the Internet, and even spreadsheet apps to help them manage budgets. Choosing the right option for your business is important. Your communications tools are part of the backbone of the business – they ensure you’re able to focus on relationships with customers and suppliers, helping to keep your business moving forward. Contact: www.t-mobile.co.uk/business

52 November 2012

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Before you sign on the dotted line…

NaviStar Legal founder, Jo Rogers, tells us why creating a paper trail can help protect your interests in the third installment of our series on careful contracts An agreement doesn’t have to be in writing to be legally binding, but getting something on paper is a simple way to avoid issues in the long run. Here are three good reasons why:

1. Clarity

Putting the terms of an agreement into writing gives all parties a greater level of clarity and understanding. When a service is non-standard or bespoke, both parties need to be very clear about the specifics, and putting everything in writing gives everyone the opportunity to discover any gaps in understanding. A written document provides a basis to work from to give both parties the time to ask questions and to discuss the “what ifs?”; this in turn reduces the likelihood of disputes, broken promises and severed relationships.

2. Record

It is important to store the original agreement and any amendments to that agreement in one place, so that it can act as a record and a reminder of what was agreed at the time.

3. Evidence

A good legal principle to follow in business is to avoid going to court to settle issues. However, in the event of a dispute, having an agreement (or at least evidence of an agreement) in writing prevents having to dispute someone else’s word against your own. In particular, it shows that there is an agreement in place and sets out the details the terms of that agreement.


It may seem obvious, but having something in writing is not a substitute for trusting that person. If you wouldn’t trust someone to enter into an agreement with you on a handshake, then perhaps you shouldn’t be entering into an agreement with them at all, written or otherwise!

“In writing”?

Having something “in writing” ideally means physically having another person’s original signature on paper in your possession. At a minimum, get a copy of their original signature in PDF up front and ask them to follow with the original. In

certain circumstances, having something on email may be enough and amount to a signature, but why not just get a proper signature to begin with?

Read it in full

Ideally we try to deal with service providers and clients on our own template terms and conditions, so that we know how the agreement operates and the compromises we are prepared to make. However, if we receive someone else’s standard agreement, then we make sure that we read it in full and understand it fully. This seems simple, but I bet that we have all ticked the box online that says: “I have read the terms and conditions” when we haven’t! As a business owner, if you sign or agree to terms and conditions, you will be deemed to have read and understood them. Make a decision to read agreements in full in advance, and if you can’t read it or don’t understand the agreement, then pay someone who will and who can.

“Having something in writing is not a substitute for trusting that person”

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06/11/2012 14:08

Focus on

Claire Young


Claire catches up with… Mike Hamilton

Combining her column with her social life, Claire Young catches up with friend and fellow entrepreneur Mike Hamilton, founder of Commando Joes’, about fatherhood and facing the Dragons Commando Joes’ is the brainchild of former commando and army personal trainer, Mike Hamilton. The organisation was founded in 2009, and has quickly established bases across the UK. Offering specially tailored, military-style fitness and team building sessions to students, Commando Joes’ has built up a strong track record of instilling discipline and fighting exclusion in some of the country’s hardest to reach schools. So, what makes Mike tick?

I have ever undertaken – long hours, late nights. It’s a 24/7 job to start with until you succeed, and even then the to do list never gets smaller.

What gave you the idea? I always wanted my own business, and prior to leaving the army I had the idea for the Commando Joes’ concept. Working with young people and really making a difference is a great feeling.

You recently became a father, how do you strike a work/ homelife balance? It’s really hard at the minute, as we are so busy going from a small business to having staff across the country. My advice is to try to have a cut-off time at night to stop working.

What do you most enjoy about running your own business? I enjoy the fact that we are working with young people who really need intervention, inspiring and motivating them to do well. When I watch one of my team delivering a session in a school classroom or playground, that’s where I get my satisfaction. Any down sides? Like anything in life, if it’s worth it, it will be hard work. Running a business is the hardest challenge

What’s been your biggest challenge? It’s currently under way; we are growing the business from eight to 45 staff in the next year. We are part of the Government’s initiative to inspire young people in the most deprived and hard to reach areas across the UK to learn.

essential in running a business: leadership qualities for working with staff, discipline to ensure everything is done to the best of your ability, endurance when you are mentally drained as well as physically.

“Running a business is the hardest challenge I have ever undertaken”

What does the future hold? Hopefully, by the end of the year we will have a turnover of around £1.3m, a huge rise from the 40k I made in my first year. Ultimately I would like to create shareholder value and then use my experience to invest and help other young people with their business ventures. Contact: www.commandojoes.co.uk www.schoolspeakers.co.uk

Serving on the front line or pitching to the Dragons: which was more daunting? Serving on the front line was far more daunting. I think it’s a great programme, and the Dragons have great experience and contacts, but I feel they are sometimes a bit harsh on the budding entrepreneurs! Are there similarities between the business world and the army? The army was a great place to learn key skills, which are

Mike Hamilton

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25/10/2012 14:26

Focus on strategy THE BRANDING COLUMN

Rich With

Fun: optional?

Branding aficionado and founder of Hoot Creative, Rich With, slates the safe rebrands popular with big corporates, and advocates having fun with your business’ identity

We all love eBay. It’s the only shop in the world where I can buy new speakers, Mexican beer and a life-sized chicken suit under one “roof”. A quirky online marketplace where searching for things to buy can be an adventure, and provide real excitement when a bidding war ensues. Now, its previous brand identity was bad (why the big ‘Y’ for a start, plus the complete lack of flow within the various scattered letterforms and weights). Yes, it looked cute stuck in the corner of your screen while you bid on a pair of second-hand Jimmy Choos, but don’t let that fool you – it sucked. However, it was almost forgivable because it helped to establish one of the most popular and iconic websites with a firm foothold on the Internet. It was of its time, and sums up the early e-commerce pioneer vibe that so many others tried and failed at: but it was essentially conceived to be squashed into the top corner of your browser rather than be billboarded. In this multi-brand world we live in, it seems obvious that the corporate beneficiaries and shareholders wanted something that could be expanded from the virtual to the real world, so they recently unveiled their new brand identity. The logo was designed by US branding agency Lippincott. They’re big boys – they know what they’re doing. The execution of the logo is good

enough, but only because it would be difficult to totally screw it up. Nothing wrong with this logo at all, but there’s also a complete lack of excitement too. Where did the fun go: did they get outbid on it by a housewife from Penge? Ultimately it’s not just eBay. The last few years have seen a glut of dull rebrands, and in all cases it seems both the suits and agencies involved have let the equity of the existing identity and its strategic position be sidelined. These companies seem to have forgotten that people fell in love with them all those years ago because they were trail-blazers. As a designer, it’s par for the course. You go to meet the company who babble on about “blue-sky thinking” and “bleeding edge concepts”, only to ask when seeing the results: ‘Can we try it in Arial?’ I’ve seen beautiful, edgy work bounced because someone in HR wasn’t “feeling it”. For

“I’ve seen beautiful, edgy work bounced because someone in HR wasn’t feeling it”

another example of this, Google the potential rebrand Hewlett Packard bottled out of. I really hope this is part of some evolutionary brand cycle that we have to go through – an era of banality and corporate bean-counting interference, where the final brand is signed off by an executive who’s more concerned with attracting indifferent customers than inspiring their brand advocates. It’s so important for our brands to be different, to be edgy, take chances and even risks. The irony is eBay, Gap and the like thought they weren’t taking risks with their rebrands, only to be criticised for their lack of risk-taking. We need to be pushed – to come up with something that will excite our clients, their clients and everyone in between. Contact: www.gohoot.co.uk

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Focus on strategy CONTENT MARKETING

Stefan Boyle

Shout it from the rooftops TB regular and founder of PrintRepublic.co.uk, Stefan Boyle, tells us why small businesses need to blow their own trumpets a little more When Emilie Sande sang her hit record, I wanna sing, I wanna shout at the Olympics closing ceremony, the lyrics really hit home to me:

“I don’t think that the majority of small businesses really do scream and shout loud enough from the rooftops”

You’ve got the words to change a nation/But you’re biting your tongue/You’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silence/Afraid you’ll say something wrong/If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song? So why am I quoting song lyrics in a marketing article? Well, I’m certainly not going to ask you to hold hands with your work colleagues and have a bit of a sing-song (but then again…). I don’t think that the majority of small businesses really do scream and shout loud enough from the rooftops, or even try to spread the word about their business. I speak to many business owners who are often not actually doing any real marketing.

Getting the word out

An effective content marketing strategy is the quickest way to connect with people. If done strategically, taking your visitors down a marketing funnel by giving them highly valuable and useful content, the opportunities are endless.

What is it?

Simply put, it is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling to them. It is the opposite

of traditional brand advertising, where you try and push your brand in people’s faces. It is focused on a concept of noninterruption marketing. In other words, instead of just trying to pitch your products or services, you are delivering information that helps educate your prospect about the products and services you provide. The underlying essence of a content marketing strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. The first hurdle that we have to overcome is the inclination to keep our best knowledge to ourselves. If you give away your second best knowledge, tips or ideas to a new reader, that person is none the wiser that you are holding anything back: they will simply think you are second rate. The next bridge to cross is how to deliver your content. Of course, many assume that it is primarily online, and to a certain degree I think that is correct, as the Internet is still a wild west, with unclaimed territory waiting for you to place your name on it for others to find. But for me, marketing works most effectively if you use a variety of channels, obviously taking into consideration the market you are in and having worked out where best to reach your perfect customer. It is vital to work out your story. Content marketing needs to be focused on creating an overriding

story, reinforced by smaller stories that re-iterate the point. Case studies are a great way to demonstrate your success and can be delivered in a multitude of ways: blogging, social media, email marketing, white papers, reports, articles, videos, interviews etc. So get started and sing and shout from the rooftops!

Need help spreading the word about your business? Get Stefan’s free seven-step course at: www.Marketing-for-Business.com Contact: www.printrepublic.co.uk

60 November 2012

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02/11/2012 16:47

Focus on strategy BRAINSTORMS

THE PERFECT STORM Professor Dominic Swords of Henley Business School shares his expertise on conducting the perfect brainstorm. Here’s his simple guide to generating great ideas

New research commissioned by Orange has found that small businesses are struggling to create implementable ideas. Three quarters are generating more business ideas now compared to five years ago – However, over half of these ideas aren’t practical and can’t be implemented. To help start-ups and entrepreneurs create implementable ideas, I’ve gleaned insights into how some of the world’s most innovative firms, including 3M, Diageo and BUPA create great ideas. From this I’ve developed a guide on how to run the perfect brainstorm. Here are my key findings: KEEP IDEAS FOCUSED Be clear about what you want to achieve from the brainstorm. Whether this is coming up with ways to cut costs, creating new product ideas or identifying a new target market, make sure you know what you want the ideas to do. Then, irrespective of who is taking part in the brainstorm, write a brief. Don’t spend ages drafting a hugely detailed one – a single sentence will do. TAKE PARTICIPANTS OUT OF THEIR NORMAL ENVIRONMENT Get out of the office and break the daily routine to encourage creativity. 3M, the technology firm, revealed it used the London Eye for a team brainstorm. Giving employees a different perspective away from the office like this helped inspire staff to create new business ideas.

come up with better initial ideas than groups, therefore send your one-sentence brief to four or five people who are participating in the brainstorm. Ask them to spend no more than 30 minutes coming up with ideas they can bring to the group. This will ensure you’ll get straight into the innovation process. It will also encourage “quiet reflectors” to contribute. BUILD ON THE BEST IDEAS Get the group to work on one idea at a time and develop them into testable concepts. Encourage participants to use ‘yes, and’ to build on each idea. Eliminate the use of the negative phrase ‘yes, but’ which can drain energy from the session. ROAD-TEST YOUR IDEAS An idea is only an innovation if it’s useful and can be implemented. So the next stage is to test it. Ask your customers what they think. Watch how they react and ask for feedback. Allocate the ideas you want to take forward to specific people or teams, or alternatively set a deadline to review them by. Identify the business benefits each idea will generate, and how well it fits into your business plan. Finally, keep a record of all ideas generated in the session. In six months, one idea might have an application you hadn’t previously considered. Contact: www.orange.co.uk/innovation

THINK OF IDEAS AHEAD OF THE BRAINSTORM Research proves that individuals

64 November 2012

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Joe Brown, head of Hiscox’s speciality commercial insurance, looks at why SMEs need contingency planning, following research which found that almost half fail to plan for the unexpected


hat is contingency planning?

Contingency planning is an important “what if?” question every business should consider as an essential part of the dayto-day management of their company. There are a multitude of things to think about when setting up a business, and prioritising the short term goals can take much of the focus. From the word go, SMEs need to consider the broader issues that may affect their business to ensure they are prepared for any eventuality, and put in place contingency planning. Regardless of the size of a company, a serious incident can prevent it from continuing with business as usual. The interruption could be caused by a fire, freeze, flood, or even riots and civil disorder. With the correct planning in place, businesses can be well placed to get up and running with minimum disruption and at minimal cost if something were to happen. Knowledge is power, and taking the time to understand how you can prepare for a disaster can be invaluable in building a robust plan. Contingency planning doesn’t need to be onerous or expensive, rather it should be a practical road map on who does what if

something goes wrong. The first 24 to 48 hours are crucial, and if everyone in the business is aware of the contingency plan and their role, the interruption to the business can be significantly reduced.

What should a contingency plan include?

When businesses are unable to provide their normal services, the consequences might range from one unhappy customer to heavy, even business-breaking, losses. A contingency plan doesn’t need to be complicated. It should include what to do in an emergency and nominate who will be responsible for carrying out the tasks and the processes to use. For example, if there was a fire at the office, whose responsibility is it to inform staff, and how will they do this? The plan should also include options on alternative work arrangements if the normal premises are not accessible. This includes putting in place systems so the team can work from home or at a hot office – an off site shared office space. Down to the most basic details – who will actually let the team know if there has been a fire – this means that as soon as an incident occurs staff can be contacted to stay at home and work remotely. This basic communication can save the time of people turning up to work only to be told to go home, and helps keep the daily

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business activity running. The plan should also consider how customers and suppliers will be informed. Even when there is nothing to communicate, keeping the lines open can help customers understand what has happened and what it means for them. Regular updates are crucial in retaining goodwill and loyalty in what can be a difficult time. Having a robust business contingency plan in place ensures companies can remain up and running through most kinds of business interruption.

What steps should businesses take?

List all possible disasters that could affect your business, e.g. floods, snow, power cuts, fire, IT failure. Assess the likelihood of each happening, and what impact each would have. Draft an emergency plan, with key actions including: • Investigate hiring a “hot site” – a shared office space that your key staff can use if your own premises are unavailable. This could be useful for office-based professionals, such as recruitment consultants or estate agents • Identify which of your staff can work from home, and make sure they have the infrastructure to be able to do so: i.e. remote log in and an Internet connection • Make sure you have clearly documented all details of the plan, such as staff contact phone numbers, key staff roles and the address of alternative accommodation • Test your plan on a regular basis to see if it works and remains relevant and the information cascade runs effectively • Establish the lead time and source for specialist equipment crucial to the running of the business, for the eventuality that it could be damaged in the original event

Why don’t some businesses prepare?

The reasons why SME owners don’t prepare for such events varies, but it can often be put down to a lack of understanding and awareness of the risks they face. It is essential to understand these risks and consider how to minimise them with a plan of action. Drawing up a contingency plan doesn’t have to be expensive, and almost anyone can put a basic plan in place. Risk managers, insurers and brokers can help small firms establish their needs and identify these risks. However, as they grow in size and gain more customers and suppliers, the more complex their needs will become, and they may need to seek the professional advice of a risk management consultant. The objective of contingency planning is not to identify and develop a plan for every possible event, as this would be impossible to predict and a huge waste of time. Rather, the objective is to encourage small business owners to think about any major incidents and their possible responses. Most situations never happen according to the assumptions of a plan. However, those who have given thought to contingencies and possible responses are more likely to be prepared to keep the business running.

When should businesses start planning?

Effective emergency or contingency planning should start long before any problem occurs, and every SME should have a robust plan in place to deal with every likely loss scenario. In addition, a customised business insurance policy that not only helps a business get its operation up and running quickly and back to business as usual, but that can also pay out in the event of a loss of income, should be an essential part of business interruption risk management. Contact: www.hiscox.co.uk/businessinsurance

“A contingency plan doesn’t need to be complicated”

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Focus on strategy MBA S

To MBA or not to MBA? Franck Dubarry, founder of numerous enterprises including luxury watch brand, TechnoMarine, breaks down the benefits of business schools for budding entrepreneurs

School’s out?

“An athlete has to train his skills in order to maintain and improve performance”

Franck Dubarry had every reason to be sceptical as to what a business school could offer him. By the age of 23, he was one of France’s youngest CEOs and by 45 he had already founded, managed and sold three companies. On initial examination there was little to compel Franck to enrol on a business school course. However, he is symbolic of a growing trend among both aspiring and proven entrepreneurs, who feel that studying for an MBA can play a key role in progressing their entrepreneurial ambitions. In 2010 he opted to embark on the TRIUM Executive Global MBA Program, a partnership between three of the world’s leading business schools: HEC Paris, London School of Economics and NYU’s Stern School of Business. There is plentiful debate surrounding the issue of what an MBA can offer entrepreneurs. Many will say that being an entrepreneur is something that cannot be taught: that you

have to be born with the innate willingness to take risks, and an eagle eye for new opportunities. Although business schools cannot forge entrepreneurs out of thin air, an MBA can complement and solidify their business knowledge, allowing them to make more informed business decisions. These were the reasons Franck articulates for his decision to enrol on the TRIUM course. He used the analogy of sport: ‘An athlete has to train his skills in order to maintain and improve performance. I felt this was no different to the world of commerce, and my business skills would improve from instruction and practice. ‘Like all entrepreneurs, I made mistakes when evaluating investment opportunities; an MBA presents entrepreneurs with the tools to prevent these mistakes recurring.’ It is often the case with entrepreneurs that they excel at the hands-on, initial stage

of assessing opportunities and growing a business, but when it comes to making calculated quantitative examinations, they are far less proficient. MBA courses can equip entrepreneurs with the exact quants-based knowledge to assess business opportunities without having to go through consultants regularly. Franck says that since studying his Exec MBA he is able to personally oversee his acquisition of a new company. ‘I was able to calculate the premoney valuation of the company and could challenge investment bankers on this, something that was never possible before.’ The advantages of studying for an MBA are becoming more sought after by those wanting to start their own businesses, and the business school world accommodates this. Schools such as EM Lyon now focus their attention on ‘educating entrepreneurs for the world’ and specialise in an experience tailored to fit the needs of such candidates. Harvard Business School has noted this trend as well, and has stated that by 2008, nearly 50% of its MBA grads were entrepreneurs by their 15th reunion. The outdated notion that entrepreneurs have no real place in business schools is rapidly being proved wrong. Adding a greater depth to the knowledge base of even the most seasoned entrepreneurs can produce huge benefits to their businesses.

Contact: www.franckdubarry.com

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Digital Marketing Digital marketing changes every day; constant change means that businesses of all sizes must carefully evaluate the real benefits marketing streams offer, a decision made more difficult with ever decreasing budgets. This article looks at existing marketing methods and some less expensive, yet equally productive and easy to use options that are available at a very reasonable cost. Search Engine Optimisation is a term that covers many things, including coding disciplines, inbound and outbound links, social networking and much more. In addition to this vast remit, SEO companies have to respond to constant and rapid changes to search engine algorithms. These changes have had the effect of making some web masters’ previous SEO investments on link building worthless and, even worse, damaging to their search engine ranking. An SEO company with the necessary expertise will require considerable investment, normally around £750 - £1000 per month minimum. Don’t be fooled by companies offering hundreds of links for a few hundred pounds – whilst they may appear to help your site initially, in the long run they are much more likely to incur a search engine ranking penalty and harm your business. Successful businesses Other more identify their customers, traditional forms build relationships with them of marketing such and work to bring in new as print and online customers with services advertising can such as Email reap some rewards Marketing... when a product or service is closely linked to the content. Prices, however, are highly dependent on location and circulation (impressions if online) and vary considerably with online advertising ranging from £100 - £1,000 and print from £200 - £4,000. Again, beware. Low cost print advertising may see your advert located at the back of a magazine with a ¼ page advert or online it is likely to be located several clicks away from a site’ss home page.

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02/11/2012 16:55

Focus on strategy LEADERSHIP


leader W

Richard Bosworth, founder of What If Forums, looks at how a fresh leadership planning approach could create a new breed of world class business leaders “A braver, more innovative approach is needed to produce a new breed of world class leader”

e know great business leaders are relentlessly driven to create economic growth and stability. Exceeding business’ best targets is their motivation, but in a challenging economic climate, what do they do when they hit a wall? When existing business and leadership models are found wanting, a braver, more innovative approach is needed to produce a new breed of world class leader, capable of consistently outperforming and beating the rest. The achievements and the razzamatazz of the London Olympics may be over but, in this important legacy phase, if the skills and experiences of the sports psychologist transfer to leadership planning, companies could harness a new and more potent way to achieve the results they crave.

Conventional business thinking and business schools have historically led current leadership development, but now is the time to widen the horizon and study how sport, as a global industry, seeks out and nurtures talent. The Olympics provided a good case study in how the development of world class talent creates winners. The business leaders that are seeking to push the boundaries of convention can learn from the sporting world, and from sports psychologists who encourage and coax consistent outstanding performance. Three vital ingredients are needed: The leader knowing what their role is Today’s business world will pull leaders in many different directions, but not all of them actually require the leader’s time and attention. Key to

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Focus on strategy LEADERSHIP

success is to identify the tasks that only the leader should do, and ensuring they work ‘on’ as opposed to ‘in’ their business. Influential serial entrepreneur Walt Sutton maps the leader’s rightful business territory in his book, Leap of Strength. This covers: • Securing the future of the business by actively researching and seeking out new opportunities and markets. • Navigating the rivers of cash by keeping a constant eye on where and how the business generates its revenue, thus informing timely decisions about which to abandon and which to expand. • Doing the big deals and staying involved in all transactions that could have a significant impact on the business and its financial health in both the long and short term. • Promoting and protecting the culture of the business by ensuring the values and best practices are continually upheld and adhered to. Leading sports psychologist, performance coach, author and Be World Class founder, Simon Hartley, who was commissioned as the sport psychologist with GB Olympic swimmer Chris Cook for seven years, draws on the sports analogy “two lengths of the pool” to help business leaders focus exclusively on the activities their role demands. The ability to identify and jettison the 60% of time and effort that is invariably wasted on activities that do not contribute to the “two lengths of the pool” target is a useful strategy for leaders determined to achieve outstanding, worldbeating performance. The leader focusing on the right processes It is vital for leaders to understand the key processes that will have the biggest impact on them consistently achieving their “two lengths of the pool” target, and

eliminate unexpected drops in performance. Every leader’s challenges are different, and in adopting the swimming analogy, the key processes for a short distance swimmer are different from a long distance racer. If the role of the short distance swimmer is to swim two lengths of the pool as fast as they can, endless hours spent swimming lengths may not be as vital as focusing on the start, the turn, body alignment, pacing and mental conditioning. The nutrition, eating patterns and training programmes will also be different. Leaders need to find the processes that work for them – processes which do not need to be business-related. Working with a sports psychologist, embarking on yoga or doing Pilates help many to keep on top of their game.

drive the business forward – and rise above the turbulence. Harnessing and sustaining this process will catapult their companies, themselves and their teams to new heights. “Key to success is to identify the tasks that only the leader should do”

Richard Bosworth is a What If Specialist and What If Forums founder, who helps owner managers and family firms to kick start their business. He asks the difficult questions, in order to uncover dynamic solutions and liberate them from the problems that hold them back. Contact: www.whatifforums.com www.whatifspecialist.com

The leader seeking mental toughness The turbulence of the past four years has demanded that leaders demonstrate remarkable mental toughness, faced with setback after setback and having to seek out new ways around unexpected obstacles while continually rallying the troops to raise their game and deliver more with less. With a bumpy road still ahead, now is the time to get managers, supervisors and team leaders on board who have demonstrated resilience. People who can keep going when things are tough, bounce back from setbacks and inspire their people to stay the course – even when everything is stacked against them and when giving up is the easier option. Sports and sports psychology has been fine-tuning how to seek out, hire and coach top talent with the resilience, knowledge and skills to constantly push themselves out of their comfort zones. Current leaders can learn and develop this key process to enable them to liberate the new talent to

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Focus on marketing

Kimberly Davis

High five Our maverick marketer Kimberly Davis shares her five rules to ensure you’re going in the right direction when representing your business

“I don’t understand how anyone can start a business without doing research”


erhaps you’ve heard me define marketing before as, “Anything and everything that is a representation of your company, from the way your staff behave, to company logos, branding and brochures.” So, how do small businesses create this reality? Here are my five rules of marketing to make sure you always follow:

1) Research

Often, I will ask a client if they have done any research to find out what their customers really want – and they go, ‘I just know’. I don’t understand how anyone can start a business without doing research. Research doesn’t mean hiring the most expensive company in the world to undertake a census. It could just be a few surveys in the street. But it has to be unbiased and directed to the people who you want to buy your product. Research helps you figure out who your clients are and what they need, so that your business can provide it for them.

2) Target market

Now for the second rule. Do you know who your target market is? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve asked a client: ‘Who is your target market?’, and they have replied, ‘Everyone’. So many small businesses want to appeal to everybody,

but in reality you’re always going to have a majority in one area more than another. Think about Apple. Anyone can use an iPad and iPhone, from teens to grannies, but even Apple knows who its target market is, and it’s not teens and grannies. Can you pinpoint your ideal client? Try this test: • Give this client an age (within a ten-year range) • Is your target client male or female? • What are their habits? What do they do? Where do they go? What is their routine? • If your target market is of working age, what’s their job title? What kind of salary are they making? Does your product suit these earnings? • What motivates your target market? Not just to buy, but in their everyday lives. Are they highly competitive? In trouble due to the recession? What gets them out of bed in the morning? This may seem like excessive detail, but by painting a detailed picture of this person, you’ll be able to create powerful, targeted marketing campaigns to draw them in and make them buy.

3) Check out your competitors

Always look at what your competitors are doing and try and work out how to firstly find a gap in the market, and secondly, use their failings to your advantage. You’d think that a big

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supermarket chain would want to open a new store far away from a rival branch. But if you are ASDA looking to create a foothold in a Tesco area, the worst thing you could do is take premises miles away from an existing store. The best place to open your store is right next door. If customers can’t find what they want in Tesco, they’ll go to you. Look at your relevant competitors: think local at first with a plan to grow.

4) Find your USP You must be truly unique, otherwise you will always be just another (insert your business here). When I go into a business and ask, ‘What are your unique selling points?’, they often reply, ‘Great customer service’. Anything

else? ‘Well, we really know our stuff.’ These answers always upset me. Everyone expects good customer service and that you know what you’re doing. You need to work out what’s different about YOU. Without a unique selling point, your business will never stand out. Domino’s has become the largest pizza chain in the UK. Why? It was the first and only pizza company to promise to deliver your pizza within 30 minutes. Domino’s did its research and found customers want their pizza hot and they want it now.

5) Avoid diluting your brand

Your branding is the promise you make to your customer, so treat your brand with the utmost care. Every time you change your

logo or colours, you’re diluting your brand. You’re taking away from that trust that your customers have in you. The more consistent and secure your brand is, the more it will be burned into the mind of your customer. The more they see your brand, the more they remember you; the more they remember you, the more they trust you and are likely to do business with you.

“You need to work out what’s different about YOU”

To get Kimberly’s free report,“10 ways to use social media for business”, go to her website. Contact: www.sarsaparillamarketing.com

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Focus on marketing PRESS RELEASES

Press release pointers Phil Turtle, MD of technology PR expert turtleconsulting.com, shares his secrets on the art of issuing the ultimate editor-friendly press release


reat! You’ve decided to have a go at doing some PR to get your company written about in the trade media. Congratulations; it will pay you dividends if you follow these simple but essential rules. Before you start, you need to realise that press release writing is very different to what you’re probably used to. It is nothing like sales copy or report writing. And, for once, it isn’t about you. The target for your press release is the all-powerful editor. He or she has total power over whether your information goes on to the pages of Widgets Weekly or into the trash. Generally speaking, your press release has about six seconds of his or her attention before that decision is irrevocably made. So it needs to be well crafted. The editor is looking for a good story that their readers will want to read. It needs to be written in the style that the magazine or news website normally uses to report news. In fact, it needs to be written just how the editor would write it if only he or she had the time – which they don’t, and they don’t have time to re-write your stuff either, so you need to make their life easy or someone else’s news, not yours, will be reported instead. The editor isn’t going to publish any of your hyped up sales or advertising copy.

Look at the writing style in this magazine and your other key ones, and simply mimic their writing style. Make sure you write in the third person (he, she, they: not I or we), and write it so that the editor can use it word for word. So with those words of warning, let’s look at some simple rules to writing press releases that editors will love.

1) Headline: Make it short. Less than 12 words which give the editor a pretty good clue what the “hook” of your story is. As a general rule, the editor will write a new headline in the magazine’s house style – so the sole purpose of the headline is to grab enough of their attention to get him or her to scan the first paragraph. That’s against a backdrop of the editor receiving hundreds of press releases every week – so you need to work on the headline. 2) First paragraph: If you’ve managed to get the editor’s eyes from the headline to the first paragraph, you’ve got about four seconds left to convince him/her it’s a story with legs. Encapsulate the whole story into the first paragraph. Use the journalist’s mantra: ‘what, who, where, when, why’. Let me add one to that – ‘how’. Not only does the editor want to know the answer to all of these immediately, but so

“The editor isn’t going to publish any of your hyped up sales or advertising copy”

“It needs to be written just how the editor would write it if only he or she had the time – which they don’t”

does the reader if he or she is going to be hooked into reading the story. Write it from the perspective of what’s new or unique for the reader. So instead of: ‘Acme Industries is pleased to announce the launch of its new pink widget...’, think: ‘A new pink widget, which cuts installation time by half, has been launched by Acme Industries...’

3) Body copy: In the remaining paragraphs, explain the benefits to the reader of the new product, market news, collaboration arrangement etc. But – and this is different to everything you’ve ever written – put the most important stuff in para two, less important stuff in para three and even less important stuff as you go down. This is so that the editor can simply cut the end off your press release to make it fit into whatever space they make available. They don’t have to mess about re-writing your stuff to fit (they won’t anyway, they’ll simply use a properly written press release instead). And also you win because, by putting your most important info at the top, it doesn’t get chopped. Simple. 4) Quotations: Many editors like a quote because it gives a human angle. My personal preference is to put it in paragraph two so that it survives the knife, but to give the spokesperson something important to say – like

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Focus on marketing PRESS RELEASES

explaining the key benefit of the new product, contract etc. Avoid ‘I’m really pleased to announce...’, ‘It will bring an exciting new dimension to…’ and all that sort of drivel beloved of PR people. Make it real (also avoid quotes from marketing and sales people – readers don’t trust them). For example: According to John Smith, chief engineer with Acme: ‘The new pink widget cuts installation time in half by using our new push-click fixer instead of fiddly nuts and bolts. Three seconds and the widget is fully secured.’

5) Finishing touches: At the end of the body of the release (and we’re talking no more than 250-350 words) on a fresh line, put =ends= just to

make the editor’s life easy. After that, put a heading “Notes for editors” and list the phone number plus email address of a person who will definitely be available if the editor needs more information. Follow this with a note to say “Photo available” if there is one, and either a hyperlink to download it, or the email address to request it from. Cut and paste the press release into the body of an email. Under no circumstances send Word, PDF, photos or any type of attachment – all your hard work could be deleted without being read. For the subject line, use a short version of your headline – you have about six words to hook the editor.

6) Web links: If you want the editor to put a web link to more information, do not use a 17ft long address. Use a link shortener, like bit.ly. Some digital media allow one or two “anchor text” hyperlinks in the body – the words but not the links will appear in print media. The only link that stands a (fairly small) chance of being printed is a very short one without the http:// and the www. So, now you know the trade secrets of a good, hardworking press release, it’s time to put finger to keyboard and get your company out there amongst the giants. Contact: www.turtleconsulting.com

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30/08/2012 14:41

Focus on marketing PROSPECTS

CATCH THAT PROSPECT Dr Paul R Holmes, founder of Advanced Training, explains how to create a strong networking pitch that will leave your prospects wanting more

“You are trying to stand out from the crowd, so don’t say what anyone else could say”

How often do you go to a networking meeting and hear one person after another recite a boring, tedious, repetitive introduction? How often do you remember what any of them said? You don’t want to be like that; but how can you avoid it when everyone just copies the style that everyone else uses? Being a bit different makes you stand out from the crowd. Being a bit different gets you noticed. Most people haven’t thought clearly about what they want to say when they attend a networking group, so the first thing you should start with is your message.

ONE THING What’s the one thing you want the audience to know and remember about you? When you’re competing with a lot of others, or simply with the natural distractions any member of your audience has, you need to be clear, simple and straightforward. Condense your message to a single phrase or sentence, preferably an active one, that captures the essence of what you provide in an appealing way. This

can be, if you like, a slogan for your business. Add to this some interesting supporting information that’s relevant to your audience: • What, specifically, have you done for people like them? • What’s different about your product or service? • What does it say about them when they choose you? Say what you want your audience to do: ‘Call me to learn how you can benefit,’ or ‘See my website for our current special offer.’ Remember, you are trying to stand out from the crowd, so don’t say what anyone else could say.

SCRIPT YOUR MESSAGE When you’ve got your message, write it down. If you neglect to do this, chances are you’ll waffle just like everyone else when it’s your turn. With a script, you are much more likely to say what you mean. Practice is hardly a popular idea, and you might think that with only a minute or less to speak, practising is not worthwhile. How wrong you are. Practice will make you more confident, and

more importantly, it will make you sound and look more confident to your audience. Remember, this is a performance, where how you speak matters. Confidence comes across in both your voice and your body language. Stand tall, smile, look people in the eye. Pause before you speak while you take a breath and wait for the audience to turn their attention to you. Make your voice strong, clear and interesting, using the “four Ps” that make up vocal colour: pitch, pace, power and pause. End your introduction by repeating your name, your business and your slogan. Why? Few people will remember your name from the start of your introduction. If you’ve said something interesting, they’ll want to know who you are when you get to the end. Dr Paul R Holmes of Advanced Training is a member of Pure B2B – masterminding your business to the next level. Visit www.pureb2b.co.uk Contact: www.a-t.co.uk

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02/11/2012 16:59

Focus on marketing SALES LESSONS

From a sales point of view, I admired Steve Jobs’ ability to release new products that people didn’t even realise they needed until he released them – at which point they became must-buys (and that’s said by the owner of an iPod, iPhone, Macbook Pro and iPad 2). So, what sales lessons can we learn from the legendary Jobs?

Don’t be afraid of being different

Steve Jobs was never afraid to be different and stand out from the crowd. To pursue ways of doing things that other people thought were stupid…until he did them and people stood back and applauded. In a sales context, what aren’t you doing right now because other people think it’s stupid?

Love what you do

One of Steve’s favourite sayings was, ‘love what you do’. My question to you is: do you love what you do? The answer for most sales people, and most people in general, is: ‘Yes – when things are going well’. I’ve always said that sales can be the best job in the world when things are going well, and the worst job in the world when things are going badly. So, for those of you that don’t currently love what you do, you need a more compelling reason or outcome for doing what you do.

Turn your TV off

I remember Steve saying: ‘We think you watch television to switch your brain OFF, and work on your computer when you want to turn your brain ON’. When I ask most salespeople, ‘how much time do you spend on trying to improve your sales or your sales career, compared to the amount of time you spend watching TV?’, guess which one is normally most popular? Most sales people I meet rarely work on their career outside work, and even during work they rarely

What I learned from Steve Jobs

With last month marking the one-year anniversary of the death of Steve Jobs, sales expert Andy Preston explains the sales lessons that can be learned from the master of branding

work on improving it; they just end up doing it.

Create a buying experience

Steve Jobs and Apple were fantastic at creating a “buying experience” every time you bought one of their products. Pretty much anyone who’s bought from Apple will confirm this. An Apple store experience is just that – an experience. The majority of people on the shop floor know exactly how to answer your query, or find someone who does in a minute. Does that have any impact on how many people buy more products from Apple? Of course it does.

“Sales can be the best job in the world when things are going well, and the worst job in the world when things are going badly”

Don’t fear failure

The majority of people have to deal with failure at some point. Therefore most people also have to deal with a fear of failure. One of the things that I do when I work with an individual or sales team, is to look at what failures they’re afraid of. Number one on this list is usually cold calling, or in some cases, any kind of sales calls at all. How many of you or your team are putting off calling a prospect that could be a really good source of income for you, because you feel like you’re not ready? Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar. Contact: www.andypreston.com

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01/11/2012 09:41

Focus on marketing WEB MARKETING

Charlie Hutton, owner of Hutchinson webdesign, shares some of the secrets that can help double the response a business gets from its web and online marketing, converting casual visitors into committed customers

Stop traffic According to the latest statistics, 70% of customers looking for local business information conduct an Internet search first, and rarely have a specific provider or supplier in mind when they do so, with many quite happy to sit on the fence waiting for the perfect company to present itself. This is great news for businesses; with fantastic website copy, and exceptional testimonials, they can take those fence sitters and pull them into their camp. SEO devotees shout about how important it is to be at the top of Google rankings, but while it’s all very well having thousands of visitors to your site each day, what is the point if they leave and purchase from a competitor? It’s quite simple: if you don’t generate a response, you have achieved nothing. So how can you turn web traffic into leads? Customer behaviour is always very predictable, and there are three common considerations customers have when it comes to making a buying decision: • The provider of the goods or service is trustworthy, knowledgeable and provides great guarantees. • The provider gives an experience that makes the whole transaction an enjoyable process. • The provider makes the customer feel important during and after the sale. And, before you suggest that price has anything to do with consumer behaviour, you are mistaken. For example, 68% of people will choose one supplier over another because

of ‘perceived indifference’ to the service or product provided. Back to the lead generator itself, your website. How can you utilise this vital marketing tool to its full benefit? It’s not the colour, the size of the page, a particular font, or a cool logo that creates website response…

1. Landing pages

These are easy-to-read web pages that offer prospects quick access to EXACTLY what they are looking for; it is essentially a page that shows how you can solve their perceived pain or fear.

2. Call to action

Simply a statement telling the visitor what to do. Establish what exact action you wish the prospect to take, and make sure it is labelled LOUD and CLEAR on your web page.

3. Customer guarantee

Adding a guarantee will provide added confidence in your service or product, demonstrate your credibility and likeability, and ensure a prospective customer should feel satisfied they are making the right decision.

4. Establishing a USP

Developing a unique selling point is the key to keeping prospects coming back to you, time and time again. Identify it and put it into words, using a short video message that can be posted on your web page.

must flow and talk to your prospect in their language. The more they read, the more you can include why you are the best people for the job. So, if you’re an accountant, include benefits such as: ‘I’ll send you details of how to get an extra £10,000 free this year on your return’. Remember: identify what it is you can provide for the prospect. To find out more practical tips, download my free guide from: www.charliehutton.co.uk/ talkbusiness

“It’s quite simple: if you don’t generate a response, you have achieved nothing”

Contact: www.hutchinsonwebdesign.com

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82 November 2012

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07/11/2012 11:53

Focus on marketing CONFERENCES


t doesn’t matter what business sector you work in: organising a conference can be stressful for any entrepreneur, as there is pressure in making sure it is successful for the company. The planning involved prior to the day should never be underestimated, and on top of that you have the actual conference to contend with and post-event work to consider. Thorough planning and communication is the key to ensuring your conference goes smoothly and will help you deal with any problems that might arise, potentially avoiding any type of crisis. As if it wasn’t hard enough already with today’s event audiences having such high expectations, in addition you may have had to perhaps restrict your budgets due to tough economic times, so everything has to now be done to a greater standard, while keeping running costs to a minimum. But there are a number of ways to avoid costly mistakes. Holding a conference does not have to break the bank. Conferences are a vital part of any marketing strategy, so should never be shunned completely. As long as you are smart in the way you work and are as flexible as possible in the decisions you make throughout the process, you should be able to get the most out of your budget, from securing the best rate for a venue, to getting the added extras thrown in. You will often find that if you are having to work with less money than you are used to, it forces you to be more creative as you have to do extensive research to try and find a bargain or two. From the outset you need to be clear on your overall budget, so you know what you have to work with, and ascertain your objectives early on. What type of conference is it going to be? What experience would you like your delegates to have? Once you have this established in


CONFIDENCE Conferences can be a key marketing tool. Simon Thompson, managing director of ConferencesGroup, advises on organising and promoting one without breaking the bank

“Make sure you use the marketing tools available to you to help make your day a success”

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Focus on marketing CONFERENCES

your mind, then you can focus on getting the basics right. Remember not to lose sight of why you are holding the event in the first place. Refer back to your objectives regularly to help keep you on track. Getting the right venue at a rate that meets your budget requirements means you are halfway to a good event already. With information so readily available via the Internet, sourcing a venue now couldn’t be easier. Since the arrival and quick growth of the World Wide Web, the way people plan an event has changed dramatically. It has of course helped the industry to work on quicker turnaround times, enabling organisers to leave things much later and manage a project at short notice. However, when working within a tighter budget, it does require a little more research, and experience tells us that it is always best to plan well in advance to give yourself as much time as possible to find the perfect venue at the right price. The potential for discounts is much higher if you make a booking in advance. Check out a variety of venue options to uphold your aesthetic and basic needs, and be sure to ask each for their best possible package. Almost everything is negotiable, so discuss prices and don’t be afraid to ask for inclusion of extra services. It is also a good idea to check with each venue if there are any major local events being held on the days you want to book as this could push up the price. A venue-finding agency can do all this on your behalf if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, and it will also help save you time and money. They can negotiate rates and favourable terms, and will meet your requirements with thousands of venues to choose from, including unusual and bespoke properties. Once you have a better idea of what is available to you, having a look around a venue before

the conference date is always a good idea. If you have a shortlist of venues, then go and visit them to help you make your final decision: but only if this is realistically possible. Before making that decision however, it is vital to take into account where your delegates are travelling from. Consider how far they have to come and what mode of transport they will be using. Try and make it as easy as possible for the majority by choosing somewhere close to a mainline station, or a venue that offers overnight accommodation. Having a venue that is practical and convenient is more important than securing an impressive area code or handsome building; remember to focus on somewhere that fulfils your basic requirements. You can always add the allimportant wow factor a different way. For example, you could hand out goody bags filled with contents that are out of the ordinary. This will make your event memorable without the hefty price tag of hosting it in an expensive venue. As well as the hire cost for a venue, refreshments for your delegates can add another big cost if you’re not careful. Grand lunches can be expensive, and if you ask delegates to eat a heavy meal and then sit and listen all afternoon, they may well fall asleep. It is wise to keep refreshments light for this reason, as well as to ensure outgoings are kept down. It can seem like there is a never-ending list of things to consider when organising an event, and pressure can quickly mount, so make sure you use the marketing tools available to you to help make your day a success. In the past few years, in our industry as well as most others, we have witnessed a huge growth in the use of social media. You should add social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs to your marketing

“Remember not to lose sight of why you are holding the event in the first place”

strategies, and you can even encourage online activity at your event. For example, you could have a live Twitter question and answer session during a presentation. Social media can be used before the event to help gain exposure and create interest, and to also help your website’s SEO. You can also use these tools post-event to gain imperative feedback for all future events that you organise. Contact: www.conferencesgroup.com

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How many of you use a SatNav in your vehicle or use your Smartphone for directions on foot, bike or car?


n surveys, over 40% of Smartphone owners said they utilise their devices for turnby-turn directions and some 70% of drivers use some sort of electronic navigation device whilst others print off AA Route maps. Why? Because we all want to get to where we are going simply and effectively. In short, getting lost costs us time and money! Yet top accountants agree that only 15% of businesses have a route map – or business plan - for their business and less than a third (3-4%) of those actually use one regularly. Many of our customers tell us they suffer from a lack of time, focus and clarity in their business and often complain about business relationship issues or failing to reach the success they deserve. Having an up-to-date business plan - personally written by the owner – is proven to launch businesses

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forwards, increasing performance and productivity, whilst reducing risk of failure, missed opportunities or wasted time and money. Business Development Partners was created this year by a group of very experienced business people, consultants and professionals to help Business Owners and Directors of Start-ups and SMEs to build better business; to be more effective, sustainable and profitable. One (small) company Director reported to us a 41% increase in turnover in 12 months from simply rewriting their plan and sharing it with staff, whilst a larger Financial client noted ‘£21.7million worth of value’ from reviewing their development plan and strategies with us. We offer one-day Business Proposition and two-day Business Plan public events and in-house programmes to help you write –

or rewrite - business plans and strategies to give you the ownership, clarity and energy to accelerate the business, engage with staff and clients, and create an even better business. In addition, we deliver a variety of leadership, people and business development programmes and coaching to support you and your people through the changes. As a first step, call Paul Stevens, for a chat, or download the free Business Fact Find questionnaire at www.businessplan.co.uk Even just thinking about the answers may prompt useful information for you, whilst writing them down will yield even better returns. If you want to discuss your results, send your completed form to pj@businessplan.co.uk At Business Development Partners, we think that a credible business plan is the most important document you will ever write.

06/11/2012 13:34

Focus on marketing MARKET RESEARCH

The research revolution

Martijn Nijhuis, co-founder of start-up Roamler, considers why it is vital for all brands to undertake market research in 2012, and what new and innovative tools are available

“When budgets are tight, loyalty is less of a priority, and customers will be more price- and promotion-led”

As the global economic crisis continues to bite, marketing spend is often one of the first areas of a business to be reduced. However, this may be a short-sighted approach; sales could be affected if you do not reach out to potential customers during tough times. To do this, it is essential that businesses – whatever their size – undertake consumer insight to fully understand the requirements of their target audience. Market research has significantly evolved over the past few decades and there is now

a plethora of tools available for companies to gain insight into new or existing audiences without investing significant funds. One consequence of the recession is that consumers have become more fickle and, when budgets are tight, loyalty is less of a priority, and customers will be more price- and promotionled. This means that companies have to always be on the front foot; any mistakes may lead to an instant decline in sales, and clawing back those customers will be a challenge. Additionally, brands may be completely unaware of how their product or service is being represented by third parties, and in tight times it is simply not practical or affordable to regularly assess every distributor. However, the emergence of technology over the past few decades has provided companies with a number of innovative tools to undertake market insight quickly, cost-effectively and accurately. DIY research, for example, has revolutionised the way businesses can undertake consumer insight. Products such as Cint Access allow users to deploy their own survey to a specific demographic of individuals within minutes, and offers immediate transparency of the cost. That way, if you are worried about how popular your services are within a specific geographical location, or among a certain demographic – be it students, mums or music-lovers – you can find out instantly. Such research can be performed

entirely online and turned around in a matter of hours. Gone are the days when finding out about your target market took reams of paper, questionnaires and allocating team resources to knock on doors. The explosion in smart phone technology has also had a huge impact on how 21st century companies undertake market research. Roamler, our crowdsourcing iPhone app, has been created for brands ranging from SMEs to blue-chips, such as PepsiCo, so that they can assemble a mobile workforce to act as brand ambassadors on their behalf. These Roamlers gather valuable objective insight on their iPhones to report back on the customer service received, placement of products in store, the best use of promotional or point of sale material, the quality of the product they enjoyed and any other useful feedback. In these competitive times, brands come and go depending on trends, but ensuring you are giving consumers what they want is essential in order to have any chance of longevity. Technology affords us the tools to undertake consumer insight at the touch of a button, whether for new product development, to compile a marketing strategy, or to establish how goods are presented by third parties; therefore businesses would be short-sighted not to explore the solutions available. Contact: www.roamler.co.uk www.cint.com

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Focus on people

Lee McQueen

The young ones Our resident recruitment man and Apprentice winner, Lee McQueen, reveals why finding and nurturing raw talent can give your business a boost


“Anyone could be your next future superstar”

Recruiting raw talent is great; and it’s really important. That’s why I built my business around it. Having said that, you do need to have a balance between fresh talent and experience – a combination of both is what makes a great business. However, with raw talent there are huge benefits: it’s about moulding and shaping people into the staff you want. You can train recruits to be passionate, enthusiastic and work in the business the way you want them to. They haven’t picked up any bad habits yet, they have no preconceptions or ideas about how to do things. They’re completely mouldable, they’re fresh. Particularly in sales, they haven’t had their fingers burnt yet, and they haven’t become burnt out. These young employees are fresh and hungry, with a desire to build a successful career; they are fantastic to take on.


This is the difficult bit: finding raw talent. That’s why we have such a robust process here at Raw Talent Academy. The hard thing about it, or the beauty of it – however you want to look at it – is that they could be anywhere. They could be unemployed, working in a bar or restaurant, or just out of university. Talent is everywhere, wherever you look. Anyone could be your next future superstar. It’s about casting the net wide to catch them. There are sometimes certain walks of life you wouldn’t associate with finding talent, but scrape the surface and you’ll often find that there’s a lot of passion and enthusiasm there. People have preconceived ideas, but you have to get underneath those judgements. That’s why unearthing raw talent can be difficult.

You also have to look in multiple places: you can’t just look in one. We go out there, and we look in places you normally wouldn’t, and that’s how we find the best undiscovered talent.


So how to get the best out of your raw talent once you’ve found it? It’s all about keeping them motivated and setting goals and objectives – not wild ones that they can’t possibly reach but ones that are achievable. It’s also about giving them incentives to reach their targets. It’s really important that everyone knows what they are there to do. That way, they have a purpose, and it’s a way of making everyone feel wanted and that they are part of something. Someone working in admin should feel that they’ve still got a really important part to play – without them the business wouldn’t run smoothly. It’s about making them feel part of the bigger picture. Just because someone is raw talent – employed as an apprentice for example – they shouldn’t feel like they are a lower level worker. It’s essential to make them feel that they’re playing a really strong role. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.co.uk

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01/11/2012 10:21

Focus on people CUSTOMER SERVICE


Are you being served

Customer service should be the easiest part of your business to get right, says Alastair Kight, managing director of leading winter risk management specialist, GRITIT


xceptional customer service is a badge that everyone wants to wear, but few people get right. In my opinion, it isn’t difficult to provide a service that customers find exceptional. The answer is easy – put your customers at the heart of everything you do. Satisfied customers are the Holy Grail for any business. With high levels of support, customer churn is minimised and existing customers not only buy more from you, they recommend you to others. Sounds easy, but what practical steps do you need to take to achieve that?

Building up trust

Good customer service is about having the right product, the right people and a reputation

for doing a great job. With all these in place you will build a trustworthy brand that becomes like a personality that people rely on and identify with. GRITIT provides specialist gritting and snow-clearance services – where the Highways Agency teams finish, we pickup. So we keep a variety of sites clear of snow and ice, such as car parks, business and retail parks, hospitals, supply chain distribution centres, manufacturing sites and water treatment plants. In an average winter we will undertake more than 100,000 service visits to public and private sector sites across the UK. We’re focused on keeping our customers operational during adverse weather conditions, as well as preventing accidents, reducing

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Focus on people CUSTOMER SERVICE

“Brands can be quickly damaged by poor service, or what people perceive to be poor service”

“You need to enable every member of the team to do the job to the standards you demand”

the unnecessary costs of injury, and protecting our customers’ budgets. The service we provide is critical but, by its nature, is delivered in the toughest conditions. We have to get it right every time and ensure that every job has been completed to the very highest standards. Last winter, our annual endof-season client survey showed 99.2% satisfaction with the service they received, and this is down to ensuring the whole team is doing the best job they can. This high level of satisfaction has helped us to grow the business tenfold in the last five years, which led to us being listed as the 37th fastest growing business in Britain in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 in December 2011, off the back of an 83% increase in sales. Just as there are rewards for getting it right, there can also be huge repercussions for getting it wrong. Brands can be quickly damaged by poor service, or what people perceive to be poor service. It might be an old saying, but it’s true that you can spend years building a brand and just seconds destroying it. The secret is simple – build your business around your customers’ requirements and continually listen to them so you understand the challenges they face and can respond with innovative ideas to help them.

Keeping staff motivated

After happy customers, your second biggest asset is your staff. Having motivated and passionate people representing your business will mean they’re always doing the best job they can for you and your customers, and they’ll often go the extra mile. Ensuring your staff are dedicated is down to two things: recruiting the right people and then keeping them motivated. We select everyone we work with based on their attitude, skills and knowledge (ASK) – in that order. Having a ‘can do’

attitude is essential for us. We believe it’s easier to teach people the skills needed for the job than it is to change a person’s work ethic, and the team continually proves to us that this is the best approach. Our operations staff work under the most extreme conditions: through the night, during the most severe winter conditions, and they’re on call 24 hours a day. Yet every member of the GRITIT team will happily tell you they love what they do, and this passion means the job is delivered to the customers’ satisfaction every time. Keeping staff motivated is a challenge all businesses face, and we’ve found that the answer is to keep them closely aligned to your business. We have an open management style and freely share information with the team, as we find they make better decisions when they know the big picture about the business. It’s also vital to give people an opportunity to grow and learn new skills within the business. We have development programmes for each member of staff with the aim of keeping them motivated and engaged. This includes a mentoring programme that encourages GRITIT team members to unlock talent and help others succeed. In addition we have extensive training schemes in place, and opportunities to learn new skills and extend roles. We also reward staff members for going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety of others, by presenting an award for the most selfless act. Winners will typically include members of staff who have helped the public, for example a member who stayed late to remove snow piled against a fire exit, despite not being contracted to do so.

Creating robust systems

Having robust systems and processes in place is also vital. You need to enable every

member of the team to do the job to the standards you demand, while being as flexible as possible to meet individual customer needs. As technology improves, the possibilities become endless – so never again should staff need to say ‘computer says no’. Finding the right processes is unique to each business. We’ve invested heavily in proprietary software and have integrated additional systems to provide us with fully customised technology for our specific needs. In order to protect our customers from injury claims, our systems have been developed to automatically activate our service process once ground temperatures are forecast to drop to zero or below. This means it’s not an arbitrary decision to provide gritting and snow clearance, it’s based on accurate weather data. The whole process is automated, so weather data is processed, jobs are dispatched to the teams based in areas where service is required, the customers are alerted, our vehicles are tracked, the team then log when the service has been delivered and a communication is sent to the customer. Our robust systems mean that 99.98% of our service visits are completed incident-free.

Planning for growth

By focusing on customers’ needs rather than your own, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the market and anticipate the challenges your customers are likely to face. This provides an opportunity for strong growth and expansion, but you need to plan two to three years in advance to ensure it is rolledout in a tightly controlled and managed way. Growing too fast without careful planning means you risk mistakes being made, which can cause irreversible damage to your hard-earned reputation. We recognised that the challenging economic situation 

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Focus on people CUSTOMER SERVICE

“There is nothing more satisfying for you and your staff than a customer being delighted with the work you’ve done”

was going to impact our customers’ budgets, and the unpredictable nature of winter weather in Britain meant they found it impossible to plan costs. Our response was to introduce a variety of pricing options, which include a fixed cost model that means our customers’ costs are set for the winter, no matter what the weather brings. We even provide rebates to customers on certain packages, if the weather is milder than average. Planning growth in advance also means you’re able to spend time putting the right people in place. Most business leaders will have experienced the problems caused by rushing to

fill a senior position, only to find the person you hired is not the right fit for your business. This often impacts on your entire operation and customers suffer as a result. Having time to plan the team structure you need to grow the business and find the right people to execute this plan is vital. The person with the right attitude, skills and knowledge for your needs is out there, but it’s rare to find them straight away.

Be proud of what you do

We are extremely proud of the partnership we have with our customers, and it’s all down to putting them at the centre of everything we do. And, of

course, it’s not all about the bottom line; there is nothing more satisfying for you and your staff than a customer being delighted with the work you’ve done and telling you so. With the recession leaving a legacy of consumers and businesses demanding more value for their money, customer service has never been more important. Those who will thrive will not just make customer service one of the things they do, they will ensure their service delivery is based entirely around the customer. Contact: www.gritit.com

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01/11/2012 10:24

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02/11/2012 17:06

Business Coaching

Business Growth Strategies

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02/11/2012 17:08

Focus on people CONSULTANTS

That is where a consultant with relevant expertise can help.

Two heads are better than one Daniel Callaghan, founder of MBAandCo.com, explains why every business needs consultants at some stage in its life cycle

“Used correctly consultants can be a hugely empowering and costeffective tool for companies in every sector”

What a consultant can do Business consultants possess a critical eye, an outsider’s perspective and specialist experience, all of which can benefit struggling or fastgrowing small companies. Primarily problem solvers, they can identify issues, provide an objective review of the business, implement structure and systems from the most basic to the most complex of operations, streamline communications processes, and mediate with different personalities to ensure they interact with each other in the best possible way. Essentially, consultants should be used as an additional resource for businesses – an extra pair of hands to tackle specialist or specific projects. They can also be called in to train up staff, tailoring programmes to suit the

business and its employees. A consultant bridges gaps, both internally and externally. Externally, this may be done with the customer or end user via a communication plan – so the gap between the two is narrowed – or during external crises with clients or customers. Internally, this may include mediating internal disputes where there is no HR manager. Consultants can be particularly useful for small businesses. Entrepreneurs may know their product or service inside out – and how to make money from it – but do they have the expertise to grow a business quickly and achieve maximum productivity from staff? And if, months down the line, they implement new technology, how will their employees learn how to use it?

When to hire a consultant A small business can benefit from a consultant during periods of rapid growth – when it may find streamlining operations particularly difficult – or when it is struggling. Of course, when cash flow is tight, consultants’ fees can be an expense business owners may be reluctant to pay for. But a dysfunctional business may only need to address a few factors, such as allocation of funds, using employees’ existing skills, or altering processes, to function at maximum efficiency. As for paying for outsider expertise, freelance consultants that can work on-demand and remotely, on a project-by-project basis, and who are not tied to an agency, are much more affordable and are becoming more and more popular with SMEs who cannot afford to retain a consultant. The flexible talents of a consultant lets companies manage the variability of workloads, rather than taking on under-utilised full-time staff or even more expensive interim staff. All in all, used correctly, consultants can be a hugely empowering and cost-effective tool for companies in every sector and everywhere. The challenge is to find the right one.

MBAandCo.com is a global marketplace of top tier candidates with MBAs and PhDs that can be hired by businesses for shortterm project-based work. It gives small businesses access to the top 1% of talent at a much lower cost than hiring consultancy firms. The company has now signed up more than 10,000 freelance consultants from around the world who, last year, delivered work in more than 25 countries Contact: www.mbaandco.com

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01/11/2012 10:34

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02/11/2012 17:10

Focus on people JOB BOARDS

BORED OF THE JOB BOARD? Are our current job boards fit for the future? Better shape up if you want to recruit the best according to Tony Wilmot, co-founder of staffbay.com

“To be blunt, social media should be seen as a constructive rocket up the arse for job boards”

A recruitment industry survey earlier this year showed that half of UK jobseekers now use social media to help them look for jobs. Meanwhile research firm, Potentialpark, has found that in Europe, close to 100% of young jobseekers would like to interact with employers online, and that in the UK, Facebook is favoured over LinkedIn as the most popular way of connecting with employers. It seems obvious, then, that forward-thinking recruitment firms and job boards should harness this new technology and let it not only drive profits, but – just as importantly – make it easier for people to find jobs. To be blunt, social media should be seen as a constructive rocket up the arse for job boards. They should have begun to modernise

four to five years ago. The mere fact that the public is prepared to be more be open and willing to push the boundaries of personal exposure shows us that putting a boring old CV on a boring old website no longer cuts it. Have the big job boards realised this? We presume not, as they still only present boring, prehistoric CVs to the disgruntled paying customers. Back to basics for a second: recruitment will always be just that, and is ultimately led by the employers to decide how they prefer to look for staff. However, despite employees’ preferred methods, it will always come down to the same criteria: candidate quality, time to hire and cost. Indeed, during the economic downturn, cost has been even more important. Staffbay.com is a bringing together of modern day web 2.0 functionality (socially acceptable platforms to show yourself off), recruitment, and the world of work. All of this makes it very hard to understand just how the big job boards, which are now as established as job ads in newspapers were just a decade ago, can be ignoring this progressive means of recruitment. One of the most common complaints we hear from jobseekers is that they feel ignored when they apply for jobs. With employees complaining of hundreds of people applying

for even the most low-paid jobs via job boards, it’s perhaps no surprise that jobseekers don’t always receive acknowledgement of their application. But while this might not seem so important to bigger boards, it can be terribly demotivating to jobseekers. ‘Any response would be good. Often no response is worse as you hang on to hope,’ one jobseeker told us. So, how can jobseekers make their voices heard – and how can they ensure that they’re not coming up against a brick wall time and time again? Most people looking for a job these days look online – gone are the days of picking up the local paper. So, if employers are changing the way they’re advertising jobs, shouldn’t employees be changing the way they promote themselves to employers and, more importantly, shouldn’t job boards be embracing this change? Since launching a year ago, we’ve seen a wholesale change in the way the candidates on staffbay.com promote themselves; the use of video has become more and more popular. Job boards are out of date, and that is hampering both employees and those looking for talent. Contact: www.staffbay.com

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01/11/2012 10:54

Focus on people SECRET DIARY

Event specialist and founder of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, Liz Taylor, heads to Egypt to prepare for two exclusive events – an incentive trip for a leading law firm and a birthday party for a millionaire businessman

Secret diary of an entrepreneur H

aving been in the events business for more than 25 years, the Taylor Lynn Corporation’s Liz Taylor has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the very best venues available to her wealth of business and private clients. With two clients – a local wealthy businessman looking to celebrate a landmark birthday, and a UK law firm planning an incentive trip – both keen to hold events in Egypt early next year, Liz heads to Cairo and then on to Sharm El Sheikh for a busy few days of site visits and supplier meetings.

Day 1: Manchester-Cairo

After a busy day in the office I set off on the short drive to Manchester Airport to board the mid afternoon BA flight to Heathrow. With a couple of hours to kill before the connecting flight to Cairo, I use the time to talk to my team in Manchester who are putting the finishing touches to a big wedding we are organising this weekend, and work the business lounge, talking to as many fellow loungers as I can. I am constantly networking and love it! My flight arrives in Cairo around midnight but, thank goodness, it’s only a five minute drive to the lovely Fairmont Heliopolis Hotel, where I get a good night’s sleep.

Day 2: Cairo

Up early and I manage to fit in a quick work out in the hotel’s gym before enjoying a breakfast of coffee, local pastries and fresh fruit. I leave the hotel at 9am and make for Egypt’s famous pyramids. As always, I use the car journey to catch up on emails and phone calls. My client has asked me to help plan his forthcoming 60th birthday celebrations, and, already a big fan of Egypt, he has decided that what he would really like to do is treat family and close friends to an amazing celebration dinner at the pyramids, brought to life with a spectacular fire and light show. At 6pm I meet up in the hotel’s bar with the first of two local suppliers I am looking to work with. My client is keen to treat his guests to the best that Egypt has to offer during their brief visit, and has asked me to organise a desert safari. The company I am meeting with comes highly recommended, and I am impressed as they show me footage and talk me through a choice of desert quad bike or jeep safari tours. This evening I am enjoying a rare luxury – dinner in the hotel’s restaurant with an old friend who is currently working in Cairo. To be successful in the events business, you simply have to love what you do; it’s

“Riding a quad bike through the desert by night is not something I have ever done before – nor thought I’d ever try”

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Focus on people SECRET DIARY

more of a lifestyle than a job for me. But I also think it’s really important to snatch some time just for me, when the rare chance arises.

Day 3: Cairo

I’m up at 7am for a quick swim before an 8am breakfast meeting in the hotel with another local adventure company. This company offers the option of a desert camel trek followed by tea or dinner in a Bedouin tent. Definitely one to suggest to my client! After finding out I have a free evening, they immediately invite me to join them for a night-time quad bike safari followed by dinner in a Bedouin tent. How can I resist? Next it’s a two-hour morning cruise on the River Nile. The boat can be privately chartered for lunch excursions and I have arranged an onboard meeting with the operator to discuss menus, expectations and standards, and to get an overall feel for the experience. After a productive morning on board, I head off to a favourite Cairo restaurant, Sequoia, which my client is also considering as a lunch option. This stunning, tented restaurant is well known for its amazing food, service and ambience. I meet with the restaurant’s manager for a private lunchtime menu tasting. Riding a quad bike through the desert by night is not something I have ever done before – nor thought I’d ever try – but I love driving so, after lots of sitting in the back of cars checking up on emails, how can I resist this thrill? It’s a truly exhilarating experience, but I do decline the chance to hop on the back of a camel. Dinner in the Bedouin tent is relaxed and out of the ordinary; my fellow diners and I are invited to sit back, relax, sip delicious mint tea and enjoy a wonderful half an hour of guided star gazing while our food goes down.

Day 4: Sharm El Sheikh

I leave at 8am to drive to Sharm El Sheikh. My client and I enjoy a briefing over coffee in the resort’s stunning Four Seasons Hotel, which she is keen to use for the planned incentive trip. We then meet with the hotel’s event team to determine which of the different rooms is the best option for the firm’s incentive dinner. Lunch is a tasting of the hotel’s banquet menus, and this is followed by a tour of the private beach. In a perfect world I would be flying home tonight, but instead I have a 7.50am flight booked to Heathrow the following morning.

love travelling, there really is no place like home, and I think it is essential to find time to unwind. Besides, I am back up at 6am tomorrow morning as I have a fabulous wedding to attend to! Contact: www.tlc-ltd.co.uk

Day 5: London-Manchester

My flight to Heathrow lands just before midday. Knowing I would have time to spare, I have scheduled a meeting with the food and beverage director of a top London hotel, which I will be using for an event in 2013. Back to Heathrow for the 4.30pm return flight to Manchester. I head straight home to spend time relaxing with my family. As much as I

“My fellow diners and I are invited to sit back, relax, sip delicious mint tea and enjoy a wonderful half hour of guided star gazing”

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01/11/2012 11:08


New Biz Express helps entrepreneurs jumpstart business ventures


he prospect of being a successful entrepreneur can be downright intoxicating as people dream about financial freedom, taking charge of their own destiny and perhaps even leaving a legacy behind for their family. Then reality hits. Starting a new business is hard work. It requires developing a solid business plan, learning about legal obligations, determining start-up costs and tackling many other demanding tasks that can take a toll on one’s time and financial resources. The good news is that entrepreneurs aren’t alone. Russell Conneely has launched New Biz Express, an invaluable one-stop business service that reaches out to those just starting their entrepreneurial journey.

Helping others on the path to success

Russell knows all about the joys and pitfalls of opening a new business. Six years ago he left behind a thriving

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career in the legal profession to set up shop in a small back bedroom of his home. With only a computer and small printer, Russell was able to nurture his venture into one of the largest vehicle hire agencies in the UK. After that company was sold, Russell decided to use his vast experience to assist others. A devoted husband and father, he wanted to help new business owners avoid costly mistakes and poor time management choices that could potentially put stress on their own families.

What New Biz Express brings to the table

New Biz Express gives people the tools they need to make their mark on the business world right from the beginning. The company’s start up business packages features: • A bespoke, professionally designed website and .co.uk domain of one’s choice • An expertly designed bespoke logo • A bespoke designed and printed

stationery package that includes a company letterhead, business cards and other business supplies • Access to a comprehensive online business planning application • A complete year of website hosting duties • Unparalled access to hundreds of legal document templates • A business bank account with guaranteed approval • Advice from highly respected accountants and solicitors. • And more... By negotiating with various suppliers, New Biz Express is able to keep the cost of its business start up business package amazingly reasonable – from £480 initial fee and then £10 per month hosting fee. We are offering 10 percent off our popular start up package. To take advantage of this offer, simply reference BS10 when placing an order.

To learn more about New Biz Express, please ring us at 01943 889 192 or log on to www.newbizexpress.co.uk.

02/11/2012 13:30

Focus on

David Richards


OUR MAN IN THE VALLEY Our tech columnist David Richards, CEO and co-founder of WANdisco, tells us why it’s time for Britain to embrace its new Brunels

Us Brits have an obsession with the industrial revolution. Danny Boyle’s Olympic drama, with its haunting chimneys and the spectre of Branagh-cumBrunel, showed the world that we remain as awed as ever by this process of creative destruction. Great Britain was cast in the furnace of industrial turmoil. Turn the clock forward 200 years and it is clear that Britain has failed to make the step into the modern age of industry. In the global race to innovate, we have fallen off the pace. Part of the problem is that we have ceased to be a nation of expert industrialists, and have become a nation of generalists. An example, you ask?

Well, take the funding of early start businesses. In the US, venture capitalists tend to be former entrepreneurs. These are individuals who have successfully built and exited businesses, who have a wealth of expertise in early-stage companies. British VCs, by contrast, have more in common with accountants – individuals well trained in balancing books, but with little or no personal experience of taking the germ of an idea and bringing it to market. Accountants are good at examining past trends and making plans on the basis of what they see. It is the future that they struggle with. The future belongs to the entrepreneur. At the heart

“Here’s some tough medicine. Britain needs to embrace the lunacy of the unknown”

of every great business is a great idea that looks beyond the confines of the present, predicting demands and needs that don’t yet exist. Part of the reason why there aren’t as many cutting edge, trendsetting businesses in the UK is because our VCs either can’t spot these ideas or are too risk-averse to back them. The process is self-perpetuating. Without investment in the disruptive ideas that shape our future, how can we hope to produce the cash-rich creatives we really need to make those investments in the first place? Well, here’s some tough medicine. Britain needs to embrace the lunacy of the unknown. It needs a new generation of confident industrialists with the strength of will to succeed in the face of scrimping accountants and naysaying cynics. If our obsession with the Industrial Revolution is anything to go by, then all is not lost. Only a few years ago, the same cynical Brits who would scoff at outlandish tech startups voted Brunel as the second greatest Briton of all time. Clearly we still admire our industrial heritage. The trick is to stop reliving past glories, and instead embrace the Brunels of our time. Contact: www.wandisco.com

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his shocking figure can be altered in your favour if you know how to improve your website. There are many factors to consider when reversing this trend but the first step is to know which pages work well for you and which do not. This process starts with monitoring your website’s performance. Why Monitoring Your Website Is Important Websites should always be monitored and analysed to give you the best possible ROI for your marketing spend. If the content is poor, the design too complicated or web marketing features do not work, you will be missing opportunities to convert website visitors into taking action. Programs such as Google Analytics will allow you to analyse your website to see what areas are working well and what aren’t. What You Should Look Out For Analytics packages provide a wealth of knowledge, but are sometimes overwhelming. Therefore it’s good to know some key metrics to look out for. • Bounce rates – This is the percentage of people who leave a page without interacting at all. Whilst there are reasons

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for this (e.g. just looking for a phone number), a high bounce rate often means the right information doesn’t exist or is hard to find. • Conversion rates – Look at which pages on your site convert visitors best. Conversions can be many things such as visiting a particular page, filling in a form, purchasing a product etc. The pages with low conversions need your attention. • Traffic sources – Check where your visitors are coming from and which pages they are looking at. Search engines like Google, enable you to see the keywords visitors use to find you, so you can identify whether the pages they ‘land on’ are correct for that type of visitor. What To Do Next Once you’ve identified the pages you want to improve, you can make the necessary changes. Your website should not be hard work for the visitor, or worse intimidating or confusing. With this in mind: • Make sure it is obvious what you want visitors to do next with clear calls to action; too often we see website pages leaving visitors in limbo without an easy next step.

• Break up your content with great images and subheadings so it is easier on the eye; no long words or rambling paragraphs, as large blocks of text puts people off quickly. • Link directly to other pages for visitors needing more detail, rather than forcing it all onto one page. • Use the language your visitors used in their search for you. If they searched for “blue widgets”, say “blue widgets” on the page. • Avoid industry speak and confusing acronyms; most visitors won’t have a clue what your jargon means. Websites are an evolving process not a static product, so continual measurement and analysis is necessary for improvement, to remain current and relevant for your visitors and to secure clients. Do not neglect to do this once your website is live. Additional information can be found on our blog by visiting www.splicemarketing.co.uk/ blog Call Splice Marketing on 02380 983673 or visit www.splicemarketing.co.uk/cro for more information about how we will help you gain more business.

02/11/2012 17:13

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06/11/2012 13:42

Focus on technology PRINT SECURITY

The security

time bomb

Quentyn Taylor, director of information security for Canon Europe, outlines the very real data risks inherent in using the modern-day printer. Here he provides expert advice to businesses on managing this overlooked security threat


n January the European Union’s new Data Protection Directive stated any major data breaches must be reported within 24 hours to national dataprotection authorities, putting increasing pressure on SMEs to have strict procedures in place. When it comes to data loss, many SMEs are focused on high profile data loss issues such as viruses, credit card fraud or hacking of company

websites. But there is another, often overlooked, security threat in today’s workplace that is much closer to home than many would expect – the next generation of advanced printers within SMEs. A shocking 70% of European organisations have suffered one or more printing-related data breaches, according to a Quocirca survey, pushing print security rapidly up the political and

business agenda. Unsurprisingly, only 15% of European organisations believe their print system is secure. But do they understand that they need to be smarter when it comes to how documents enter their business, and how these documents are subsequently managed? A good starting point is to clean up the antiquated ideas many SMEs have of printing: businesses using modern MFDs are not using “humble office printers”. Instead, the printer has been transformed into a networked communication hub, with an inherent security risk – a security time bomb if not managed correctly. MFDs now have the ability to transfer data to devices on the company network and are often equipped with hard disk drives and web servers,

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Focus on technology PRINT SECURITY

just like PCs and laptops. Each scanned, printed, or faxed image can be stored on an MFD’s hard drive forever. Just think of the things which could be viewed should the wrong person get their hands on that hard drive – financial files, HR content, customer details, contracts and much more. If not protected, this information can be subject to internal and external network attacks, bringing serious financial or legal and reputational ramifications to SMEs and their customers. And these customers already have a rather critical opinion about businesses when it comes to data protection. In fact, a recent study by research and insights consultancy, ICM, has revealed that just 12% of consumers believe businesses are doing enough to protect their personal data, while a staggering 76% would be likely to leave a business or service provider if it leaked some of their personal data. This clearly puts pressure on office managers to protect this data and take the appropriate security measures, including securing MFDs. The fact that technology-loaded MFDs are effectively PC servers with print functionality as an integral feature does not make this task simple. While MFDs have experienced a technological renaissance, security strategies must not be left behind and need to evolve as well. There are seven simple steps that can be taken to avoid common security pitfalls:

Raise awareness of MDF security

SMEs need to understand the risk they potentially expose themselves to by leaving MFDs unprotected, as well as the positive impact on security MFDs can provide. They should produce a configuration guide for employees and guarantee it is adhered to at all times. This will ensure all functions on the MFD are looked at critically and can be enabled or disabled as required. It will also mean third parties fully understand

the configurations and do not disrupt them.

Separate the print server from the network “How frequently are printouts left in the output tray, leaving them for anyone to pick up and read?”

As viruses can attack computer software, the print management software of MFDs is also vulnerable to attacks if not managed correctly. For example, traffic can be intercepted when documents are in transit from the PC or mobile device – via the print management software – to the MFD. By separating the print server from the network server, the office manager can limit and control what traffic is going over that part of the network, therefore restricting access and reducing the risk of an attacker exploiting it.

Securely release print jobs with passwords

“The printer has been transformed into a networked communication hub, with an inherent security risk – a security time bomb”

Just ask yourself, how frequently are printouts left in the output tray or dropped into the recycling bin without being shredded, leaving them for anyone to pick up and read? Using a “secure job release” function at the MFD means that print jobs are locked in a queue on the device until the corresponding user PIN or password is entered. This ensures that only the person who printed the document can release it at the device, minimising the danger of exposing sensitive paper documents within the workplace. SMEs must ensure employees have strong, unique passwords which are changed every 90 days for accessing their print jobs. These should ideally be between 8-10 characters long, and include a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols, rather than a dictionary word, which can easily be remembered.

Encrypt all traffic

When a document is in transit to the printer, it is travelling from one server to another as outlined above. Data encryption should be a key element of any SME’s

security policy. This will ensure that, if compromised, the data can only be seen by authorised people and will reduce the impact of the breach.

Ensure patches are up to date

The security threats facing SMEs change on a daily basis, and print management software needs to be treated in the same way as any other software platform within the IT environment. It is important that the print server is configured with defined security standards, and a security patch update procedure that tackles the latest vulnerabilities.

Control any unauthorised network monitoring

A “network sniffer” can read data travelling between the PC or mobile device and an MFD, exposing the print job and routing addresses. If not already enforced, SMEs should monitor and investigate any packet sniffing or port scanning behaviour on the network to recognise irregularities or unusual printing and document management behaviour. This includes monitoring any print, fax, scan and copy activity passing through the company to determine whether access, or the ability to send the document on, should be permitted or not.

Dispose of MFDs securely

Lastly, it is very important to consider what happens to the device at the end of its life. Would you simply throw away a laptop once you’d finished with it, or would you clean the hard drive to remove all your data such as photos and music? The hard drive of a MFD must be erased and securely disposed of at the end of its life to avoid sensitive data being disclosed. Contact: www.canon-europe.com

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01/11/2012 11:12

Focus on technology WEBSITE USABILITY

I’m with simple The key to moving towards beautiful and elegant online user experiences is simplicity. Nic Ricketts, director of 1st Objective Ltd, explains why he is definitely a fan


mazingly, it seems that despite all these years of the Internet, the user experience has not really improved in some areas. When you buy something online from a major brand, it’s usually fairly straightforward to navigate the site. These online retail experiences reflect the physical presence of such brands on the high street and maintain their brand promise at what is increasingly the major point of sale. Why is it then, that such sites are far less frustrating to use than those offered by Government departments? It’s because they have to be. They need to be easy to use when a competitor’s offering is just a click away. The web hasn’t actually made consumers more fickle, but certainly it’s made it easier for them to be so. Around ten years ago, we had to put up with badly built sites in almost every area. ‘Print is dead,’ they said, with the result that every graphic designer

threw him or herself into a self-taught course on designing websites. Usability was at the bottom of the pile in terms of importance. Today, if not usability, then at least functionality gets a higher billing. What companies once regarded as a cheap way to present their wares to the market has become something they now believe can deliver customers. The advent of social networking has changed online repositories of product description into sites with intuitive pathways and customer journeys. So, how do you learn about usability? Much of it is common sense, but it does necessitate vision and good decision-making when first commissioning a site. Testing is also key, and if the site is flat enough – and flexible enough – then changes can be made easily. But it really boils down to understanding who your customer is and placing yourself in their shoes. Once you’ve done that, then there

“It really boils down to understanding who your customer is and placing yourself in their shoes”

are a few books out there to help you, and one of the best yet is Simple and usable – web, mobile and interaction design by Giles Colborne. Like Steve Krug’s seminal Don’t make me think, this book is a slim volume, and rightly so for a primer on how to eschew mystification and deliver more from less. But while Krug’s book is full of humorous ‘aha’ moments, Giles Colborne’s Simple and usable takes a more forensic view of user expectations and perceptions. In this sense, it shows just how far online marketing has matured in the 11 years since Krug’s book was published in its first edition. But equally, how so little has changed in our understanding of the way people buy, behave and interact online. Colborne splits the task of creating simplicity – and in so doing, enhancing usability in web design – into four strategies, entitled Remove, Organise, Hide and Replace.

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02/11/2012 17:15

Focus on technology WEBSITE USABILITY

To illustrate how this works he redesigns a physical item we’re all familiar with, the DVD remote. This immediately hits the right tone. For anyone like me who never resorts to reading the manual, the intense frustration DVD devices have caused me – and continue to cause me – has almost resulted in violence, albeit directed at inanimate objects. It’s always when you’re in a hurry, caught on the hop, or late for an appointment that you remember to record something and find yourself in a real pickle, dealing with the vagaries of an AV equipment designer’s mind. The upshot and thought bubble hanging over you reads: ‘But why won’t you let me do that?’ It’s the same with websites. It seems developers can’t help themselves adding more features or bells and whistles that work against user immersion in the online world. This is probably because of a disconnect between specifiers, designers and developers. While most savvy online retailers have usually got the user experience nailed, their aspirations for online behaviour is controlled by branding and routes to market. But in the B2B world the call-toaction is not so pointed or obvious. Reading Colborne’s words about complexity, I was reminded of those terrible PowerPoint presentations we’ve all sat through where the amount of data on each slide was almost a firing offence. Many sites still overcomplicate, or frustrate your flow, forcing you to make unnecessary choices – and, more importantly, working against their own business objectives. Colborne distinguishes between different types of user, breaking them down into experts, willing adopters and mainstreamers, and describing their attitude to technology and the motivations that drive them. He takes anecdotal examples from the likes of Apple and Pixar, and the way these

companies think laterally about the user experience. It’s clear that putting yourself at the user’s POV is key, but users don’t buy on intuition alone; you still have to lead them to make the decisions you want them to make. Simple enough you’d think, but where the book shines is in telling you how to do that – in a clean way – without appearing condescending or controlling. Colborne manages to make his points with a lightness of touch that can be directly applied online. Simple and usable is required reading for anyone involved in – or just interested in – web design and usability, and that’s pretty much anyone with a browser at the end of a broadband connection.

“It seems developers can’t help themselves adding more features or bells and whistles that work against user immersion”

This tightly written, insightful book will get you thinking about your own site, and the sites of your customers. But, more than that, it might even lead you to simplify a lot more in your business interactions, whether they are with partners, suppliers or customers.

Nic Ricketts has 25 years’ marketing experience and has run two successful advertising and integrated marketing agencies. He now heads up brand consultancy 1st Objective Ltd, which specialises in optimising marketing services to support business objectives and create sales growth. Contact: www.1stobjective.co.uk

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01/11/2012 15:05

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05/11/2012 09:26

Focus on technology HACKERS


Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of Dashlane, the personal security expert, takes a look at how you can protect your personal data online in five easy steps

“Let’s be honest, many of you frequently use the same password and login details all over the place”

It’s not a revolutionary thought: personal information is meant to be private. But private data on the web is vulnerable, particularly to hackers. In the last few months, major consumer websites, such as LinkedIn, Last.fm, Yahoo!, Gmail, AOL, eHarmony and more have all been hacked, compromising the passwords and personal data of millions of users. Hackings cause grief and hassle for companies and users alike and, once in motion, intentionally cause a domino effect of problems. Once hackers have broken into one account, they can access others that use the same login details – and let’s be honest, many of you frequently use the same password and login details all over the place – affecting security across multiple web accounts. Here are our five top tips for making your accounts hackerproof and preventing your private information from going public or simply landing in the wrong hands:

1. Use strong, unique passwords Most websites have caught on to this, and are helpfully doing the job for you, encouraging you to pick a password that’s not so

easy to guess or break. Mix up numbers and letters, include capitalisation, don’t use dictionary words, and don’t use the same password for more than one website. Yes, it can get annoying to have to remember them all, but you can use a password manager for that.

2. Beware public Wi-Fi Public Wi-Fi hotspots are some of the least secure places you can get online, simply because you have no idea who you’re sharing the network with. A potential hacker might be waiting for someone to access the same open network they are on, and log into their bank or credit card company so they can peek at the account numbers. Don’t access your vital accounts from public Wi-Fi – and, if it’s an emergency, at least make sure the site is using https. Also be sure to take the time to change your home Wi-Fi router’s admin password from “password”. 3. Make sure links go to the right website If you get an email from your bank, or PayPal, or eBay, or any place that is going to want your personal info, mouse-over the link and make sure it’s going where

you think it is – and not to a suspicious almostcorrect address like “peypal.com” or “paypal.net” instead of paypal.com.

4. Don’t store card numbers on websites Every online store or merchant offers you a convenient option to store your personal info for later transactions. It can be an attractive option, saving you precious minutes every time you need to pay your bills again or grab a new pair of shoes online. However, it also means anybody who gets hold of your password also gets access to all of that stored information. 5. Don’t store personal data on your browser Do not store logins, passwords or financial information on your browser, because then it’s accessible to anyone else who might touch your device – not to mention a browser provider like Google Chrome, which will have access to all your personal data if you sync it to the cloud. Contact: www.dashlane.com

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01/11/2012 11:15



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05/11/2012 09:30


Don’t know where to start ? Want to freshen up your business ? Take it to the next level ? Rob Barsby - Creative Director at Shinx Creative explains how Success Story Sovereign Horseboxes -


We started by implementing marketing strategy’s, branding, new brochures, promotional literature, data capture initiatives, website’s (New and Used vehicle website), email campaigns, social media, photography, video and even offered networking opportunities whilst working closely with Sovereign to maximise there ROI for the show.

First we undertook a review of their business, products and services to establish their position and unique issues. After meetings and discussions a strategy was developed to compliment their goals and to highlight missed opportunities. With a strategy and timescale agreed it was time for action! The “Horse of the year show 2012 at the Birmingham NEC” date was not fare away so the team at Shinx went into action.

Sovereign have received a great response exceeding their expectations. With new opportunities for business development and growth, Sovereign could not be happier with the results from the show. Shinx are now working on post event activity and looking at capitalising on it with promotions, retention tools and other events for longer term initiatives and growth.... know that the foundations are in place 2013 is looking like a landmark year for Sovereign Horse Boxes and their initial concerns have gone as they are busy building more lucrative horse boxes.

www.sovereignhorseboxes.co.uk overeign Horseboxes are a bespoke British horsebox manufacturer from the West Midlands with a good reputation for quality and service. They were doing ok, but wanted to compete with well known brands in the industry such as Oakley and Whittaker.

shinx.adver.indd 26

Shinx has also introduced monitoring incentives with review meetings on a regular basis to look at ROI and on going initiatives. As the Creative Director it gives me great pleasure to be involved and to see positive things happening with clients and knowing we played our part. The world is pregnant with opportunities for business, it’s who you choose to work with that can make the difference. Our belief here at Shinx is if we make you successful we become successful ourselves - simple ! Win ! Win ! ..... Whether your are a start up business or an established SME are you getting your full potential and finding the right opportunities. Friends, family, mates are great to a point... but to achieve serious business you need the right partners. We have packages and budgets for all sizes of business, its about you ! Give us a call for a no obligation chat over a Coffee - Tel: 0116 2237711 or www.shinx.co.uk

05/11/2012 16:21

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02/11/2012 14:12

Focus on technology BUSINESS APPS

I’ve got an app for that… Introducing November’s superstar apps: both good for business, both 100% free. What are you waiting for?


Price: FREE Compatible with: Apple and Android devices The gist: Mila App transforms a smart phone into an online office connecting small businesses and the self-employed to the global marketplace. It is the first app to link cloud computing, social media and web semantics, the Web 3.0. Once your industry, profile and offer are placed on the web via Mila, the app starts to search social media for clients and potential business partners – and makes a connection. With the help of templates, Mila helps you produce a profile of your company complete with logo and photos. This profile is then immediately put on the web, already optimised for Google. When Mila comes across a possible match for your product or service while searching social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, you receive a notification. www.mila.com

Hiscox Informed

Price: FREE Compatible with: iPhone, iPad and Android tablet devices The gist: The businesses with the best chance of success are those that are aware of what’s going on around them. Hiscox Informed is a branded social magazine app that provides small business owners with access to expert opinions and advice on all aspects of running a business. The app has been designed by specialist small business insurer, Hiscox, and tech start-up, Better Than Paper. The app aggregates relevant information and practical tips from selected media sources, respected business leaders and entrepreneurs themselves, to provide live, up-to-the-minute news and content while on the move. It also allows users to bookmark their favourite articles for later reference and access their social networks to stay on top of their news feeds and share content with peers. www.hiscox.co.uk/informed

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01/11/2012 11:17

Focus on technology GADGETS

Battle of the brands: Dell vs Lenovo The age of the Ultrabook has officially dawned, and both Dell and Lenovo have their own ideas when it comes to this sleek and multi-functional machine. Which will make it onto your Christmas list?

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06/11/2012 09:10

Focus on technology GADGETS

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 From £999 13.1in display 1600 x 900 resolution 3.3lbs At first glance, the Yoga looks like any other notebook – the beauty in the design is to be found in the 360° hinge, which, as the name suggests, makes for a super flexible machine, which can be seamlessly transformed from laptop to tablet RAM – 4 GB (max 8GB)

Graphics processor – Intel HD 4000

256 GB (Max. config SSD)

Windows 8

The Yoga’s 13-inch screen can flip all the way around and fold flat on the back, turning the laptop into a tablet. Or, it can stand on its front edges like a tent. Or, it can be used with the keyboard side down and the screen bent back, becoming almost like a tiny tabletop touch-screen all-in-one

“Four awesome modes. One incredible machine. Yoga 13 combines the productivity of an Ultrabook with the touch experience of a tablet, taking full advantage of the Windows 8 functionality. The screen flips a full 360 degrees into four modes that make it easy to create, share, or consume content”

[VS] [Price] [Screen size] [Weight]


[Memory] [Audio/video] [Storage] [OS]


[What they say]

Dell XPS 12 From £999 12.5in display 1920 x 1080 resolution 3.35lbs The XPS 12 would be attractive as a standard notebook, with a black base set in a silver aluminium frame. But what makes it really special is the way the screen flips inside the hinge like an easel to take it to tablet mode RAM – 4 GB

Graphics processor – Intel HD 4000

128 GB hard drive

Windows 8

The XPS 12 uses a flip hinge design to convert from a 12-inch laptop into a 12-inch tablet. The flip hinge on the XPS 12 places the 1080p touchscreen on top of the keyboard, maintaining the same basic laptop form silhouette in the process

“Break the boundaries of work and play. Transform your XPS 12 Ultrabook to a tablet with a fluid, flip-and-fold motion. Have the best of productivity and entertainment right at your fingertips”

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You’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. We’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

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31/10/2012 11:53




hree words that are regularly used to describe the OVENU oven cleaning and oven valeting franchise opportunity. And rightly so! Here’s an opportunity which is bucking the economic trend with franchisees reporting record levels of enquiries, bookings and profits. But this fantastic achievement isn’t just reserved for the OVENU franchisees, not by a long chalk, as Ovenu Franchising Limited (the franchisor company) has also recently posted excellent year-onyear trading results at Companies House. Knowing that the franchisor is in a sound financial position is (or certainly should be) a key factor when researching various franchise opportunities. When asked to describe the successes of both franchisees and the company as a whole in a couple of words, Rik Hellewell, founder and MD of OVENU, suggests that: ‘Just one word will do, and that is Quality’.

advertorial v1.indd 3

Rik says: ‘We look to recruit great quality franchisees, who will offer a premium quality service to their clients. We’re building a solid, robust and reputable network throughout the UK and beyond, based on these founding principles’. Ian Wood, a recently appointed OVENU franchisee who is now successfully trading in the rural Moray area of Scotland, adds: ‘As a part of my due diligence process I spoke with many other operators in the oven cleaning sector and spent time, effort and money undertaking this research. My final visit was to meet with Rik Hellewell, and I’m so pleased that I did! ‘I was given more quality information about running a business in the first hour with him than I’d managed to squeeze out of all of the others I’d seen before, put together. The figures that we ran through were thorough, factual and realistic. Following our initial

meeting I was invited to spend the following day with an existing franchisee to see the entire OVENU process “up close and personal”. ‘I quickly established that the system was pure quality from the superbly fabricated hygiene-grade process equipment, the bespoke products and tools, and the service extended to clients. All designed to ensure quality results time after time.’ The OVENU franchise represents a superb investment into a quality brand and, with a Rural Package starting from just £11,800 (plus VAT), there has probably never been a better time to invest. For more information about this potential £5,000 a month turnover business, call Ken on 01325 251455 in the first instance to receive your FREE INFORMATION pack, or visit www.ovenufranchise.co.uk

31/10/2012 11:53


0845 345 1064 www.emcadgifts.co.uk Sales@emcadgifts.co.uk






NEW Derwent House • 1064 High Road • Whetstone • London • N20 0YY Untitled-2 37

05/11/2012 09:36

Focus on franchise

Franchise news ChipsAway brand recognised in YouGov poll

EFF hosts European franchise conference

A YOUGOV POLL has confirmed that the brand best known to the British motorist for automotive paintwork repairs is franchise ChipsAway, with almost half of those surveyed citing the company’s name. The research confirmed that the potential marketplace for minor paintwork repairs is vast, with 67% of those questioned indicating that their car had damage that was suitable for a ChipsAway repair. ChipsAway chief executive, Tim Harris, said: ‘YouGov is a well respected indicator of views and attitudes across Britain, and we’re delighted to discover that awareness of the ChipsAway brand is up again this year, with 46% of motorists citing the ChipsAway brand without being prompted.’ ChipsAway is the UK’s longest established automotive paintwork repair specialist, with a nationwide network of around 300 specialists providing on-the-spot repairs to minor damage, such as paintwork scratches, bumper scuffs and kerbed alloy wheels.

THE EUROPEAN FRANCHISE Federation (EFF) is to host a conference for franchisors at the Hotel Thon in Brussels on 29 November. Three panels, Q&A sessions and professional opinions are to be delivered by renowned franchisors and expert advisers, including the UK’s Karl Sandall from TaxAssist Accountants, Hamilton Pratt’s John Pratt, and former bfa chairman, Mike Goddard. The 90-minute panels will each focus on a key area of franchise development, including: innovation for sustainable growth in franchising; franchising and the Internet, including the implications and challenges of online sales on a network; and cross-border franchising in Europe. The conference will open with introductions from some of the EFF’s senior figures, including its executive director, Carol Chopra and chairman, Guy Gras. Brian Smart, bfa director general, said: ‘I hope that bfa

members will take this excellent opportunity to meet with some of Europe’s leading franchisors and professional experts. ‘Anybody in the process of expanding into Europe, or thinking about doing so in the future, stands to gain valuable advice and networking opportunities by attending. I look forward to seeing them in Brussels.’ Time is also set aside for networking, including drinks scheduled following the conference. For more information, go to: www.eff-franchise.com

Printing.com partners bfa THE BRITISH FRANCHISE Association (bfa) announced Printing.com as the latest of a select group of brand partners for the Association. With Printing.com’s BrandDemand system and cost savings to members, the new brand partnership helps support members in further developing successful franchises. Simon Davies, regional director of Printing.com, said: ‘From the outset of franchising Printing.com, we’ve been actively involved with the bfa. As we move forward offering

other franchisors sophisticated solutions for their printing needs, we felt it was important we found ways to do this via the bfa. ‘The brand partnership enables us to do that, to promote our special offering and give something back to the franchise community.’ Printing.com will work closely with the bfa to deliver advantageous services to the industry, which benefit members of the Association in recognition of their investment in, and dedication to, ethical franchising.

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Talk business double page2_Talk Business double page Nov12 05/11/2012 12:08 Page 1

Franchising with

Could you be our next franchise business owner? Franchising works by combining the drive and energy of the entrepreneur with the experience and expertise of the Franchisor. As franchises are tried and tested businesses with ready-made solutions, they are recognised as a safer route into business than setting up on your own. Leading banks recognise reputable franchisors and, as a result, are happy to lend a substantial percentage of the initial investment. By investing in a ServiceMaster franchise, you not only benefit from over 50 years franchising experience but, a proven business model, a system to make it work, the value of a recognised brand name, and a dedicated team of people whose job is to help you, the franchisee, to grow a successful business.

W s c

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ServiceMaster is a world leading, multi-brand franchisor with over 50 years of experience and is one of the founding members of the British Franchise Association: • More than 800 franchise licences • Over 5,000 employees in the UK • Over 50 head office support staff

Top 10 reasons for choosing a ServiceMaster franchise • • • • • • • • •

Experienced: franchising for over 50 years in the UK Brand name awareness Proven systems & procedures Comprehensive training Growth markets On-going support network Operational, technical & marketing support National sales programs Cross selling through the ‘family of brands’

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• Commitment to ethical business practices

Our opportunities lie in management and business services or involve working in the commercial or domestic sectors. If you are looking for an exciting business opportunity which you can grow and develop, a ServiceMaster franchise could be for you.

Replicating a system lies at the heart of a successful franchise model. The key for sharing in the success is to follow the system. This in turn benefits you the individual, and the network as a whole as the brand value increases.

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Self-motivation and determination with an ambition to grow and manage your business are some of the skills required. Additionally, we look for personable individuals who are quick to learn. This is an exciting management franchise, providing an opportunity to create a successful business with a good income and lifestyle whilst building equity.

By following the ServiceMaster model, we have enjoyed a lifestyle that has far expectations and have a business that has value for the future.

exceeded our initial

Simon Taplin, ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services Mid Anglia

Domestic Cleaning Franchise A Merry Maids franchise is not only a fantastic management business opportunity; it’s also about being part of a growing network of franchise owners whilst supported by experienced individuals. Our knowledgeable staff will provide you with practical support and guidance in the development and growth of your business. A people management business, building relationships with customers is the key to providing a professional domestic cleaning service. Whilst this opportunity lies within the cleaning industry, the franchise owner’s role focuses on sales, marketing, customer service and the employment, training and management of staff. Enthusiastic, with motivation to develop your home cleaning franchise as well as a proactive attitude are some of the key qualities we look for in our business owners. Combine these qualities with the ‘I care’ and ‘I can do’ approach and a proven business model and unparalleled training to give you the ingredients for a successful business.

The ethical nature of the business and the support and help from everybody at ServiceMaster, including neighbouring franchisees, means that this is an organisation that I am proud to be part of. Helen Cook, Merry Maids Sutton Coldfield

Professional Lawn Care Franchise This professional lawn care franchise offers a business opportunity with a potential to become a multi van operation. Serving residential customers and small commercial properties, you will provide tailored lawn care treatments to treat a host of lawn ailments and maintaining lawns in top condition. As you develop your business you will need to take on supporting staff together with extra vehicles and equipment. We will help you manage your business growth. We provide unparalleled support and are committed to helping you build a successful lawn care business. Determination, ambition, ability to follow a system and good communication skills are just some of the required attributes for a TruGreen Franchisee. Enthusiasm, a positive outlook and an enjoyment of the outdoors are also needed. Above all, a willingness to work hard, being prepared to work flexible hours and a desire to build and develop your own business will make ideal attributes for a successful TruGreen franchisee.


As a Contract Services business owner, your primary role is to develop your business through sales and marketing, employing and managing teams of cleaners to provide a regular, quality commercial cleaning service to businesses in your area.

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Whether you consider yourself as an entrepreneur or are looking to become one, this management franchise is a significant business opportunity. We will combine our experience and expertise across the franchising industry and cleaning sectors to help you to build a successful business.

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Contract Cleaning Franchise

The last six years have not disappointed. We enjoy our work, have made friends with many of our customers and enjoy a great deal of job satisfaction. The support we receive from fellow franchisees, our business mentor and from ServiceMaster Ltd has been superb. Bob Anderson, TruGreen Yorkshire


Your future depends on what you do today! Stop dreaming - Take action - Contact us!

scan here!

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‘We Send Anything, Anywhere!’ Pack & Send are the market leading retail packaging and freight forwarding business founded in Australia in 1993. Our network of stores provide specialist packaging and freight forwarding solutions to a broad range of business and domestic customers. We are unique in what we do, and are now expanding across the UK

1. Experience and Reputation

• Established in 1993, Pack & Send is an an Australian market leader that is a growing success in the UK too. • Our ‘no limits’ culture has resulted in an enviable reputation. • ‘We Send Anything, Anywhere!’

7. Profit Potential •

transaction values.

8. Low Investment Entry Level

• From £100,000 the Pack & Send business is one of the most affordable retail franchises on the market.

9. The Power of the Brand •

power and customer pulling power and assists you to build your business.

2. Our Niche

• We exclusively dominate our niche market of packing and sending fragile, large, awkward, and valuable items in the multibillion pound Freight Logistics sector. • We have real USPs and no direct competition!

3. Our Customers

• Everyone is a potential customer of Pack & Send. • We service some of the world’s largest companies through to small businesses and householders and tourists.

4. Variety and Enjoyment

• Our store owners tell us they love the variety and business trading hours. • Every day in a Pack & Send business is different and exciting.

5. Impressive Growth

• Our rate of sales growth is the envy of the industry and illustrates the value our services bring to the marketplace.

6. Comprehensive Support

• Our unique retail model is underpinned by a business system that has been honed to the highest level of proficiency. • First class support and resources.


Expanding across the UK

PACK & SEND very Days o c is D e is h c n ra F ions covering: tat Informal Presen portunity Op et rk Ma - The s Works es sin Bu - How the chisees m Current Fran - Experience fro liers pp Su d an rs stome - Input from Cu t es tW ut from Na - Financing Inp ll 0118 958 4628 book a place, ca To learn more or chise_discovery an cksend.co.uk/fr or visit www.pa

To find out more about our UK opportunities call our Franchise Development Team on 0118 958 4628 or email them at franchises@packsend.co.uk www.packsend.co.uk Untitled-6 1

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17/2/09 15:18:30

Focus on franchise SPOTLIGHT


From cat lover to cat hotel franchise owner: Jill Reynolds took a bold step in signing up to become the very first Longcroft Cat Hotel franchisee. Here she tells us what makes the franchise special, and why she has no regrets in making a business out of her passion.

that we spent that wasn’t absolutely necessary: we just felt that we wanted to enhance it a bit. Obviously, there was an initial franchise fee, but that takes into account all the marketing, all the specialist knowledge, all the training and all the logos.

How did you get involved in the franchise? I actually came to Abi with a view to boarding my cats when I went on holiday, and I was just blown away by it; I just knew as soon as I found out that she was franchising the business that I wanted to be a part of it. I had several meetings with Abi, along with my husband. We discussed it, she drew up a contract and we took it from there. I’m just such a cat lover, so it was my ideal business. I love cats, and to combine my passion with earning money is just an absolute dream come true for me.

How’s business going? Even before the hotel was built, Abi was taking bookings for me, because she was so busy that she couldn’t accommodate everyone. So from that point of view, I had the business up and running before it was even built.

Let’s talk wonga… It cost me about £50,000, but about £5,000 of that was money

What inspired you to open a franchise? We actually thought of doing a very similar thing about 20 years ago, but we just didn’t have the vision, and family got in the way, so it got put on the back burner. This has given me the opportunity to realise my dream. It’s made me realise that I can do anything that I put my mind to, but I have had an awful lot of help from Abi. She’s been very supportive, it’s been brilliant.

“To combine my passion with earning money is just an absolute dream come true for me”

What have you learnt? I’m now more experienced with spreadsheets – I was never able to operate a spreadsheet before, but I can do that now. It’s quite straightforward, and Abi’s given me lots of training in the day-to-day running, cleaning, the vaccine protocol that we follow. So she’s been very helpful in giving me lots of information in that respect – there’s nothing you can’t learn. What are the pros and cons? The worst bit is that you’re covered in hair all the time, and saying goodbye to the cats. Apart from that, it’s all good, really positive. I think the most important thing for this business is to be an animal lover. That’s what has motivated me to become a franchisee. I never thought I’d be a businesswoman, so I’m quite impressed with myself.

The transcript of this interview was provided by FranchiseSales. co.uk, filming at The Franchise Show Contact: www.longcroftcathotel.co.uk

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Focus on franchise TAKE ONE FRANCHISEE

Take one franchisee:

Kall Kwik, Bury St Edmunds Picture perfect: Stewart Green gives us the inside scoop on almost ten years in the printing business as a Kall Kwik franchisee Stewart Green, 52, was born in Cheshire and has lived for the past 17 years in Colchester with his wife Karen and two teenage children. Winner of the Business of the Year 2012 Award by the British Association for Print and Communication (BAPC), Stewart has grown his franchise business significantly since joining the Kall Kwik family in September 2003. Before moving into the world of printing franchise, he worked in the agricultural sector for more than 20 years.

Why leave agricultural supply?

I wanted a new challenge. I had a lifelong ambition to run my own business and I’d always been interested in the printing business.

Why franchising?

Franchising offered me the opportunity to run a printing business by providing all the training, support and expertise I would need to succeed. Also being part of a well-known brand is a door opener: you’re not starting from scratch.

How did you pick the right franchise?

When I was 22, I saw an advert for Kall Kwik and sent off for the franchise prospectus, but at the time I couldn’t afford it. I still have the brochure now! I visited the National Franchising Exhibition in Birmingham and dropped by four print franchises, including Kall Kwik. I drew up a list of the

strengths and weaknesses of each franchise and Kall Kwik stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

What training did you receive?

When I first started I had a business development manager working alongside me for the first week to help with any teething problems. That was very useful as it all felt very strange and new. I also attended numerous training courses, covering everything from the technical side of printing to marketing and administration.

How did you choose your territory?

I looked at which Kall Kwik franchise territories were available, and Bury St Edmunds appealed to me as there are a large number of SMEs in the town, which means a big target audience.

Any low points?

There haven’t been any major low points, but there have been some challenging times. Staffing issues call for difficult decisions to be made sometimes. Also we have to work very hard and that can mean working until very late at night (or even until the early hours) to get a job done.

“Being part of a well-known brand is a door opener: you’re not starting from scratch”

Advice to potential franchise owners?

Do your research, not just about the franchisor, but also about the market and the local territory you want to operate in. Also look for any opportunities to develop the business into the future. Contact: www.kallkwik.co.uk

How’s business?

During the recession we’ve had three record years, the result of hard work in the beginning years building client relationships. We’re not a get rich quick enterprise – we’re in it for the long haul.

What have been the high points?

When I took on the business, we leased a property and it had always been a target to own our own premises, which we achieved this year when we moved into a 3,000 sq ft space.

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05/11/2012 09:39

Focus on franchise CHOOSING FRANCHISES

Sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself: ‘What am I good at?’ Do you enjoy working with your hands or does the thought of manual labour fill you with horror? Are you happier in an office environment or would you prefer to be out on the road every day? Do you need the company of other people or are you happier working alone? Then move onto the more practical questions: How much time are you willing to commit to the business? Are you looking for a full-time or part-time business? Are you looking for a van-based, home-based or premisesbased business? How much money can you invest? What lifestyle are you looking for and how much are you prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goals? It is essential that you are 100% honest with yourself at this point, as it will form the basis of your search in the coming months.

Do your research


your franchise

So you’ve decided you want to go down the franchising road. But how on earth do you know which one’s right for you? Martyn Ward, franchise manager for Alex Clark Lettings, tells us how to pick the perfect opportunity


ith so many different types of franchise in the marketplace today, how do you go about choosing the right one for you?

Strengths and weaknesses

Probably the most important thing when looking at different franchise opportunities, before you even open a magazine, visit a website or attend an exhibition, is to be totally honest with yourself about your own abilities, your strengths and actually more importantly, your weaknesses.

Once you’ve identified the type of business you are interested in, it’s research time. Research is the most important part of the process, so make sure you do yours thoroughly. Leave no stone unturned, and make sure you are 100% satisfied by all the answers you are given. Sadly, as in any walk of life, there are bad franchisors out there, and your research will help you identify them while also teaching you huge amounts about the sector in the process. Once you’ve settled on a sector, start by contacting a number of different franchisors, and thoroughly research the market and all the businesses in it. Any ethical franchisor should give you the chance to speak with their existing franchise owners and help you identify franchisees with similar backgrounds to yourself. Take this opportunity to talk to their franchisees: both the ones they have volunteered to put you in touch with and any 

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05/11/2012 09:43

Focus on franchise CHOOSING FRANCHISES

“If something appears too good to be true, then it probably is”

“Remember, it is imperative that you take legal advice before you sign anything”

of the others in the group you feel you would like to talk to. An ethical franchisor will be happy for you to talk to any of his/her franchisees, not just the ones they’ve suggested.

Hit the pavement

Go and visit the franchise in their head office. This will give you a chance to meet their staff and to get an understanding of what levels of training and ongoing support you can expect. Look at the background of the company: how was it started? How has it grown? Have they lost any franchisees? If so, why? What are the company’s core values? What skill-sets are they looking for in their franchisees? Take a list of questions with you, and make sure you get satisfactory answers to every one of them. Be wary of any franchisor that asks you to make a financial

commitment at the first or second time of meeting; this process should be a mutual research process, ensuring that the fit is right for both parties, and it should take a good few meetings before any money changes hands. Remember, this is a partnership that can result in a five or ten year commitment, so it is imperative you get it right. Ethical franchised businesses are never a “get rich quick” scheme; if something appears too good to be true, then it probably is.

Take professional advice

There are a number of professional advisers that can help you when buying a franchise, from an accounting, banking, and legal standpoint. Remember, it is imperative that you take legal advice before you sign anything. You can find a list of these service

providers in any of the franchise magazines, or on the British Franchise Association website.

The bfa

The British Franchise Association (bfa) should be your first port of call to look for franchises that have been independently measured, using established membership criteria, to encourage ethical franchising. Only those franchise models that meet its strict criteria are accepted and, while bfa membership is no guarantee of your business’ success, you have the peace of mind of knowing that its franchise model has been tested against bfa standards.

The business plan

Once you have chosen your franchise, you need to create your business plan. Business planning is a critical part of your research process; not only does it help you gain necessary funding for your new business, but it also provides you with a roadmap for the first, second and third years of operation. Make sure your plan is realistic; it’s always better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed. Franchising is a thriving industry in the UK, seeing a healthy 8% growth last year, and your decision to be part of it is a sound one. Couple this with an honest personal appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses and a thorough research of your intended franchisor, and you are well on your way to owning a successful franchise in 2013. Contact: www.alexclarkfranchise.co.uk

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Find your

dream business with


FranchiseSales.co.uk - the leading online resource for franchising Browse the directory by category, keyword or investment level. Contact franchises directly through the website. Find advice, articles, interviews and the latest franchise news.

Work for yourself not by yourself. Buying a franchise will allow you to take your first steps towards financial freedom and business independence. FranchiseSales features thousands of opportunities all over the world and contains everything you’ll need to become a successful business owner.

Here’s just a few of the franchises we work with:

Visit FranchiseSales.co.uk now to start your search

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Directory NOVEMBER 2012

Suppliers of branded merchandise to help generate awareness of your product or service, raise your company profile, stand out from your competition and allow your clients to feel valued. T: 01249 650869 E: sales@cbgltd.co.uk W: www.cbgltd.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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: enquiries@worldaddresses.com




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Directory NOVEMBER 2012

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: info@skiptonbf.co.uk

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: hello@flyerzone.co.uk W: www.flyerzone.co.uk

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

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

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

we 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: info@konvertis.co.uk 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

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

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: enquiries@intosomerset.co.uk

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: info@orbitalnetworks.co.uk W: www.orbitalnetworks.co.uk

WebinaWeek specialises in affordable website design, development and hosting for Small and Medium Enterprises. Our unique technology is fast and highly effective. Packages from £10 to £75 per month. T:0844 8023093 E: info@webinaweek.biz W: www.webinaweek.biz

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And finally… HE SAID/SHE SAID

He said/she said This month Britain’s entrepreneurs have been contemplating new hairstyles, watching themselves on telly, and making important wardrobe decisions. Opinions (and spelling errors) their own Richard Branson @richardbranson The @Guardian poll reckons 78% of you would prefer a new bald look for yours truly. Really?! Always good to try something different Rich.

Deborah Meaden @DeborahMeaden I am going to try and watch @BBCDragonsDen but don’t like watching self on TV. See how long I last. Later… @DeborahMeaden OK..how is it that even directly after a show I invest in I get tweets saying I never invest unless by never they mean 34 times? Lord Sugar @Lord_Sugar I am being presented with the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Technology ‘award at the T3 Gadget Awards 2012 tonight ,so on my way there. @Lord_Sugar problem is many guests at T3 awards were not born when I made my first innovative electronic product. I might put on a Zukerberg mask

Hilary Devey @HilaryDevey Do you all think I should wear my DD Blue jacket on @C4HotelGB or should it be preserved for DD fans? Xx We think everyone should get the chance to benefit from those mind-blowing shoulder pads Hilary…

Richard Reed @richardreedinno What do fruit juice entrepreneurs do at the weekend? They go camping. In the wet. @richardreedinno Basically Branson has Necker Island. I have a tent in a sodden patch of Cumbria. Oh well.

Jacqueline Gold @Jacqueline_Gold Catching up on x factor liking Nicole’s unexpected comments & gary being more candid Even successful entrepreneurs enjoy a bit of rubbish tv it seems…

138 November 2012

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Profile for Talk Business

Talk Business November 2012  

Novembers issue of Talk Busines Magazine

Talk Business November 2012  

Novembers issue of Talk Busines Magazine