W W W . T A L K B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . C O . U K
TALK BUSINESS OCTOBER 2012
FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR
BY THE ENTREPRENEUR
The event special The hottest dates for your business diary
Clash of the smartphones iPhone 5 vs Galaxy SIII
Trend setters ISSUE 13
Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker on starting an online revolution with their Internet marketplace, notonthehighstreet.com
OCTOBER 2012 ÂŁ4.50
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DID YOU KNOW? AN AVERAGE COMPANY LOSES UP TO 80% OF ITS SALES PIPELINE BECAUSE OF POOR MANAGEMENT
ost businesses are unaware that they are effectively throwing away between 40 and 80% of their sales opportunities each year (Yankee Group Study, Eloqua Grande Guides To Lead Nurturing). Fixing this would be a top priority at any time, although this is especially true during challenging economic times and increased competition. Essentially, nowadays you need to make every lead and opportunity count - you simply wouldn’t throw away 80% of your profits, would you?
The Source Of The Problem
At the heart of this problem is the fact that the vast majority of the prospects you talk to are not ‘sales ready’. This means that although they are interested in your service and may be researching, they are not at the point where they are ready to purchase. In fact, according to an Eloqua Study, only 20% of prospects are sales
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ready when you talk to them - the rest will re-enter the market within 24 months. Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because this type of lead - the kind of lead that isn’t ready to buy just yet - is more often than not pushed to the side and forgotten about in favour of leads that are sales ready. In short, most sales people and businesses think about what will help them hit target this month or next, not what will happen 6 months or more down the line. Therefore, the vast majority of opportunities are simply being wasted.
How Do You Fix This?
As widespread as this problem is, the solution is actually fairly straightforward - lead nurturing. All this requires is a little planning and organisation. Essentially, the process of lead nurturing allows you to automatically keep in touch with leads and prospects who are at the earlier
stages of the buying cycle. A well designed strategy will move prospects through your sales funnel via individually targeted communications until they are ready to re-enter the market again. This way, you make sure that when they are ready to purchase, they come to you first and not your competitors. Just how important is this you may ask? Well, as we mentioned at the start of this article, you wouldn’t throw away 80% of your profits, would you? If you need help with any of this process, please contact a member of the Konvertis lead nurturing team and we’ll be happy to help.
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11 Editor’s letter
13 Letters 15 News & events
Focus on success 18 Face on the cover Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker, founders of Not on the High Street 24 Take one company Love Da Popcorn 27 Introducing… TB grills an up-and-comer
70 Bestsellers Selling tips from the National Sales Awards
29 12 steps to success Carly Ward shows us step 4
75 Pitching to the press How to deal with journalists
78 Getting your words’ worth 30 Getting back in the game Writing good copy to secure a sale Ketan Makwana on recovering post-recession 83 It’s a mobile market 32 The interview Embracing mobile marketing This month: Bank of Dave star David Fishwick 35 Book reviews 130 He said/she said What are entrepreneurs saying this month?
Focus on money
Focus on people 87 The people column Lee McQueen 89 Rock solid Building a sturdy HR foundation
36 Timing is everything When to sell your business
95 Like/unlike Social media recruitment
39 Taking a gamble The credit rating lottery
96 Secret diary of an entrepreneur Unleash’s Norwegian diary
43 Show me the money Funding options for start-ups 46 Incoming… Income tax return mistakes to avoid 49 Don’t miss out Consider HMRC as a funding source
Focus on marketing 68 The marketing column Kimberly Davis
50 Before you sign on the dotted line… Next in our series on careful contracts
Focus on strategy
Focus on technology 99 Our man in the valley David Richards, our new techie columnist 100 Head in the cloud Are you making full use of the cloud? 105 Wild wild web The next evolution of design: responsive websites 107 Tap the app market Developing your own app
53 Claire catches up with… Claire Young chats to a fellow entrepreneur 111 I’ve got an app for that… Our fave business apps 55 The branding column 112 Battle of the brands Rich With The iPhone 5 vs the Galaxy SIII 56 Join the dots Focus on franchise Multi-channel marketing 115 Franchise news 58 Sustainability: the next generation The National Business Awards look at 116 Spotlight sustainable business Fit4Less 63 The early bird… Time to look to 2013’s business plan
119 Take one franchisee FASTSIGNS’ John Harvey
65 Show off Sneak preview of the Business Show
121 Life support How to manage your franchisees
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Jay Boisvert email@example.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 ©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. 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.
Show stopper If you were ever in any doubt that entrepreneurs and start-ups are finally getting the attention they deserve, you only have to look at the plethora of shows, conferences, festivals, awards ceremonies and networking opportunities celebrating entrepreneurialism and small business that are taking place all over the UK. As a member of the press, I am in the rather privileged position of being invited to most of them, and let me tell you – there are a lot of them. Which is definitely no bad thing. There has been a noticeable increase in these events over the past few years, providing much-needed support, inspiration and, perhaps most importantly, helping to build a sense of community within the UK SME sphere. What’s really exciting about this is that it really does seem to be reflecting the changing attitude towards entrepreneurs here. The mind-set is shifting, and British culture is beginning to embrace those brave souls who start up their own business, rather than discouraging them with a disappointed shake of the head at what was previously thought of as “rash” behaviour. This shift needs to continue and develop if we are ever going to truly foster enterprise here, instilling an ecosystem which supports start-ups. On page 99, our new columnist David Richards reports from Silicon Valley, explaining why the culture there is so great for entrepreneurs – but he also emphasises that ‘Britain has the ingredients to become a vibrant hotbed for businesses of global significance’. We just need to become a nation where they are given the encouragement to start, grow, and thrive. In this, our event special, we pay homage to just a few of the upcoming dates for the entrepreneur’s diary; turn to page 65 for a sneak preview of the Business Show, check out sales secrets from the finalists of the National Sales Awards on page 70, and go to page 58 to discover how businesses can become more sustainable, as the approaching National Business Awards celebrate the recently announced finalists for the ICAEW Sustainability Award. Enjoy,
Helen Coffey Editor
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The boys are back in town David Richards is the CEO and co-founder of WANdisco. He
has more than 15 yearsâ€™ experience as an executive in the software industry, and sits on both boards and advisory boards of Silicon Valley start-up ventures. He is a veteran of several successful start-up companies in enterprise software and is recognised as an industry leader in both EAI and EAI standards. He has spoken and written widely about standards in application integration and the adoption of open-source technologies. Follow David on twitter @davidrichards
Jason Ball is the director of Qualcomm Ventures. He looks to
invest in companies focusing on wireless communication technologies and products serving consumer, enterprise, and vertical markets worldwide, for both hardware and software. His background is in chemistry and biology, with crossover into technology through direct experience in early-stage software start-ups. Jason takes an active role with Qualcommâ€™s portfolio companies, providing operational experience and contacts in the US and Europe. Check out his blog on all things venture capital at www.jasonball.com
Mark Fraser is the founder and CEO of zappit, a technology
firm that provides a platform for brands, agencies and media owners to maximise their engagement with new and existing customers using NFC, QR and mobile payment technology. He looks to always recommend clients the most innovative, yet efficient solutions. There must be something in the gene pool, as he comes from a long line of entrepreneurs: his grandfather had a fashion retail company, his dad owned a chain of pharmacies and his mum owned a childrenâ€™s retail shop.
Ketan Makwana is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate
about developing the employment and enterprise sectors. He has a vision to bridge the gap between education, employability and enterprise, to develop stronger enterprising mind-sets, and to support the development of the next generation of SMEs who will transform global economies. With extensive expertise in electronics, IT and healthcare, over the past few years he has gained experience of starting, scaling and selling his own businesses.
12 October 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: firstname.lastname@example.org snail mail: Aston Greenlake, 6 Mitre Passage, 8th floor, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0ER
Check out the delights of this month’s Talk Business mailbag
No to networks?
the month… @MartinRSpiller “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin @project_EV “Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” Thomas A. Edison @MattGubba Do something today that your future self will thank you for. @simplybusiness I believe todays social media allows every business owner to attract a new crowd. @ManagersDiary “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple & learn how to handle them, & pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck #business @blackbullion haha!! IMHO LinkedIn is the nerdy kid, the quiet achiever that just gets stuff done with minimal fuss and jazz! @kirstenmaw_xx Love love loving the sunshine – makes me feel happyyyyy :) xxxx @carlyyes starting@ TalkBusinessMag Column, month 4 - watch out for it ;) all about Goal Setting, top tip ---> set your goals around BE DO & HAVE
Although I generally like Kimberly Davis’ no-nonsense approach when it comes to marketing, I have to say I disagree with her when it comes to networking groups [The marketing MOT, September.] She implied that these are a waste of time, but I have to disagree – I have been with a group for two years now, and it has really helped me to grow my business. Not only through new clients but, more significantly, by being on hand to give me advice when there’s a bump in the road. Lots of them are more experienced entrepreneurs, so have come up against the problems I am encountering now in the past, therefore they are well placed to advise on the best way to deal with it. I agree that you can spend a lot of time schlepping around different networking lunches and business conferences, but if you find the right group for you and concentrate on cultivating really strong contacts there, it can genuinely help support and grow your business: and it needn’t eat up more than an hour or two a week. That’s nothing when you consider the benefits. Regards,
Philippa Reynolds (by post)
Dear Talk Business, Really enjoyed the app pages in September’s issue, hope it’s going to be a regular feature from now on. There’s tons of apps deigned for SMEs out there – and with so many of them free to use, I say why not take advantage of all the help you can get? Keep it coming.
L ET T E OF T H R MON T E H
Everyone’s a critic Dear Editor, I’m sick of everyone slating the Government for not helping small businesses enough. Whatever they do, people always seem to criticise – they just can’t win. People say there’s not enough funding for entrepreneurs, so they dedicate over £80m to providing loans to start-ups. But instead of giving them credit for attempting to address the issue, all anyone can do is complain that the money isn’t enough/that the launch has taken too long etc. It seems like some people just live to carp and complain; but I for one think at least the Government are putting start-ups up there on the agenda.
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News & events
UK BUSINESSES WORK TOGETHER
THE KEY TO helping businesses grow could be working with competitors, according to a survey of UK small and medium sized businesses. The survey, commissioned by JUST EAT, found that working with companies in the same industry or location is more important in helping business grow in the next 12 months than a resolution to the Eurozone crisis. Nearly a third of UK SMBs said that working with competitors would help their business grow most in the next year, compared to just over a fifth who felt that a resolution to the Eurozone crisis would help. The survey also found that many businesses were already working in some way with other businesses from their industry or local area, with just 14% never working with competitors. David Buttress, MD UK for JUST EAT, said: ‘We’ve uncovered a real culture of collaboration in businesses in the UK. These are the sort of small, ambitious companies that have been identified as being the key to kickstarting Britain’s economy, and it’s heartening to see that a significant proportion are looking at what they can do with their competitors to grow business, rather than relying on Government handouts or nonexistent bank funding all the time.’ When it came to businesses that hadn’t worked with competitors, just over one in ten would consider working with others if it meant access to services that would otherwise be too expensive. However, ultimately more money would help convince the anti-collaborators – 31% said increased profitability would push them to work with a business they share customers with.
Dates for the diary The Business Growth Show 12 October Walsall, W Midlands thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk Youth Enterprise Live 12-13 October Earls Court, London www.youthenterprise-live.co.uk IdeaLab! 2012 The Founders Conference 12-13 October Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany www.idea-lab.org The American Bankruptcy Institute International Insolvency and Restructuring Symposium 18 October Hotel Parco Dei Principi, Rome, Italy www.abiworld.org/conferences.html Newcastle Be World Class 2012 conference 18 October Life Science Centre, Newcastle www.beworldclassconference.com
Yorkshire Be World Class 2012 conference 25 October Royal Armouries, Yorkshire www.beworldclassconference.com The Business Growth Show 26 October York thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk The Business Growth Show 31 October Bristol thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk The Business Growth Show 2 November London thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk National Sales Awards 2012 6 November Grosvenor House, London www.nationalsalesawards.com The Business Show 2012 – Midlands 9 November Villa Park, Birmingham www.thebusinessshow-midlands.co.uk
Imperial Business Insights Series – a series of speaker events 18 October-July 2013 Imperial College London www3.imperial.ac.uk/businessschool/events
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News & events
JAMES CAAN TO HOST
SMALL BUSINESS TV SHOW JAMES CAAN IS to host a new TV series on CNBC, designed to help small and medium sized businesses grow and prosper. The Business Class is a new seven-part series that will see entrepreneur and investor James Caan, joined by experts from a cross section of industries, look at the challenges and opportunities faced by six UK businesses. The featured businesses are at different stages in their lifecycle, from start-ups to those looking to raise finance, expand internationally and those considering flotation or selling their business. The show will discuss the key issues facing today’s SMEs, the resources available to them, and what is needed to become successful. ‘Lots of people think about becoming an entrepreneur and starting their own business,’ said James Caan. ‘This series will take a look at real businesses and help them navigate their way to greater success.’ The Business Class debuts on 17 October at 10pm. For more information, go to: www.businessclass.cnbc.com
Top health technology companies
picked for Boston business mission TWENTY OF THE UK’s top health technology businesses have been awarded their place on the Future Health Mission to Boston. Once there, they will benefit from a packed agenda of investor, supply chain partner and customer meetings, and networking opportunities. Previous missions have secured more than US $200m for UK businesses and provided critical links to overseas interest. The Future Health Mission is made possible by key partners, the Technology Strategy Board and UK Trade and Investment, and is organised by The Long Run Venture and the Co-Sponsorship Agency. Its objective is to secure partnerships and overseas investment opportunities for the diverse array of transformative medical products chosen. Trade and Investment Minister, Lord Green, said: ‘The UK has one of the world’s largest and most productive life science sectors. We have identified it as a key growth sector, and it will play a central role in our plan to get
100,000 more companies exporting by 2020. The 20 companies taking part in the Future Health Mission will fly the flag for British innovation and demonstrate to a global audience that UK entrepreneurialism and UK life sciences are in better shape than ever.’ New concepts and products coming from this year’s winning companies include highly innovative diagnostic devices for lung cancer, lifesaving postoperative technologies, and emergency triage systems. For a full list of the winning companies, go to: futurehealthmission.com
FIRST GOVERNMENT START-UP
LOANS GO TO YOUNG
ENTREPRENEURS THE GOVERNMENT’S £82.5m Start-up Loans scheme has opened its doors to young entrepreneurs in England. The scheme, announced in Budget 2012 and launched in May, initially has £10m worth of loans to give to young start-ups in this, a pilot trial. Should the trial be successful, a further £32.5m will be made available next financial year 2013-2014 with another £40m in the tax year 2014-2015. Speaking at the MADE entrepreneurial festival in Sheffield, Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, met the first young entrepreneurs to benefit from the Startup Loans scheme. ‘With more young people than ever before looking to start their own business, Start-up Loans will provide the support they need to help get their business ideas off the ground,’ said Mr Cable. ‘Money is going out of the door now, so those who want to take advantage should apply today.’ The aim of the scheme is to encourage more young people to start their own business, and will lend £2,500 to any 18-24 year-old who is unemployed, in education or working and who has a business idea that can be turned into a viable business plan. For more information, go to: www.startuploans.co.uk
16 October 2012
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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER
HIGH STREET HONEYS The powerhouse women behind notonthehighstreet.com, Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker, talk business books, championing British entrepreneurs and the ‘having it all’ myth with Helen Coffey
alking into the beautiful offices of Not on the High Street, they are just as you would imagine them to be: stylish, homely and packed full of uber-quirky cushions, wall hangings and throws with that quintessentially British charm which is the signature style of the beloved online marketplace. A stamp-themed rug here, a personalised picture there – the love of lovely things is clearly more than a money maker. It is a passion. Founders Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish have turned their venture into a runaway success, but only because of their enduring loyalty to the business Holly tells me: ‘We laugh and we call it our child together, and I suppose the love and the loyalty you have towards it is exactly like that. You wouldn’t give up on your child, and you’re not going to give up on your business.’ They met while working at an ad agency, before both moving on to more entrepreneurial pursuits. Holly started the business that was to be the foundation and inspiration behind notonthehighstreet: Your Local Fair. Bringing together local talent to sell their unique wares at upmarket fairs in and around London, Holly saw the potential but sensed the need for it to develop via a different platform – one without unexpected rain showers and rugby matches ready to disrupt the enterprise at every turn.
“You basically can give up at any stage. I’d quite happily go to bed right now! You have to stick with it”
Discussing her dream of an online marketplace over a coffee one day with Sophie, she snared her partner in crime, and the Not on the High Street rollercoaster ride truly began. It’s had its ups and downs, juggling business, motherhood, homes and partners, but both women wouldn’t have it any other way. They share their incredible story, and fascinating insight into building a business from scratch, in their new book, Build a Business from your Kitchen Table (look out for the review in the next issue of Talk Business).
Was setting up notonthehighstreet how you imagined it would be?
“If you are the sort of person who wants to have a business, a family, a home, a you, then you’re never going to find a balance”
HT: Sophie and I had coffee one day, and I realised that I couldn’t go it alone; I needed complimentary skills. So we had a coffee and I think pretty much within an email and 24 hours we were all systems go for what we thought would be a fairly simple ride…[girls burst out laughing] It really hasn’t been! SC: And never is. It never would be, not now, not ever. HT: On the journey we thought, ‘Oh poor us’. Because you can’t reflect, and there aren’t many female entrepreneurs out there, and we’re both mothers. My son was three months old when we started. On the journey you think you’re more isolated than you actually are, and that other people didn’t go through that pain.
What were the biggest challenges?
HT: It’s a boring one but it’s the most significant – money. We actually thought we were pretty smart and had a contingency plan. We had a financial advisor right from the start, so we very much thought we had planned for the eventualities of running out of money. SC: We thought we had our eyes wide open… HT: And we really didn’t. Technology moves so quickly. Back in the day when we started in 2006, so many technologies weren’t available to us then that would be now. There wasn’t single basket technology that you could buy off the shelf; we had to create it all and that was very, very expensive. So we ran out of cash quite quickly. That led into the challenge of raising capital. SC: And I think the other challenge is such an obvious one – it’s just so much work. It’s enormous, and we were taking on something which we absolutely wanted to do right and well. There’s no point in doing it badly, and there’s no point in half doing it. But it was so much greater than we could have ever anticipated. And probably a good thing that it was, because that would have been pretty daunting – if we’d had the big “to do” list from day one, we probably never would have started! talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 19
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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER
Did you ever consider giving up?
HT: There were dark moments absolutely, we mention them in the book, where Sophie and I would lock ourselves in a room and have a good cry and not let the staff see. We were paying them with our credit cards because we just needed to bridge the time before we raised capital. But I would say never once did we consider it, except for external influences, e.g. running out of money and the business going under; but even then, we still weren’t going to allow it. The nature of our business is it’s not just us, it’s not just our staff; it’s the small businesses that we’re supporting. For some reason Sophie and I have taken the beacon for helping kitchen table entrepreneurs, females in the difficult position of what to do after a career. You didn’t feel like you could give up because you knew how you were going to enable and change lives. SC: Not an option. And we’re not quitters! Sometimes annoyingly, as our partners would say. We can’t let anything drop.
HT: We wish! SC: And you think, brilliant, excellent, all you have to do now is wait for the cash to flow through and you’re away. Sadly, it is not that simple. You can hit on a magic formula without producing the results at the rate you need them.
Are there any skills/ attributes you need to run a business?
HT: Many. If I was going to name two, firstly it would be an understanding of money. That’s not in the sense of being a CFO, but someone that can have an analytical brain and understand the heartbeat in numbers and figures of the business at an early stage. Loyalty is another one in terms of sticking with it. You basically can give up at any stage. I’d quite happily go to bed right now! You have to stick with it, and your loyalty is the thing that threads it all together.
SC: It’s definitely tenacity. I think not being quitters is something that Holly and I hugely have in common – whatever hits you, you can visualise getting past it. And never considering anything but getting to where you need to get to, whatever it is.
What’s your advice to start-ups in today’s climate?
HT: If you know your customer well enough, you can ride this situation that we have in the economy at the moment. If you can say you 120% know the customer, then you’re going to start everything on a good footing, whether it’s a business
“If we’d had the big ‘to do’ list from day one, we probably never would have started”
My life – Holly I’m watching: Downton Abbey I’m reading: Clare Balding’s autobiography, My Animals and other Family I’m listening to: The Buddha-Bar Best Of Lounge I’m surfing: Net-a-porter
Did you get a following quite quickly?
SC: It was very quick on both fronts. On the day of launch we had 100 or so businesses who’d all signed up with us because they absolutely recognised that it was going to fit with what they needed. By the same token we were very sure through our various experiences, through Holly running her fairs and through me having been a journalist writing shopping pages, that we knew what the appetite was amongst the consumer audience. Sure enough, come launch day we had a substantial amount of publicity, word of mouth had already travelled, and we had 16,000 visitors to the site on day one. And I suppose the difference is you hear and read about these instant hit businesses, but A and B do not necessarily equal C.
20 October 2012
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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER
plan, setting up your offices, knowing what marketing you’re going to do – it helps you answer all those questions. SC: And it’s really fine to count yourself as your top customer. Some of the best businesses are built on putting yourself at the heart of that. Holly and I love this business because it’s what we want as customers.
What would you be doing if you weren’t entrepreneurs?
HT: Sleep! What else would I do? What would you do Sophie? SC: I’d say, ‘But I am’. It’s what I do. I couldn’t do anything else. You don’t wake up or you’re not born thinking I’m an entrepreneur – but you realise, whatever you do, whatever you touch, you start to think: ‘What could this do, what could that be?’ Holly’s the extreme of that, but even I do it. HT: And it is extreme. I’ll go into the local coffee shop and want to buy it and turn it over and then suddenly it’s like, you could create a franchise, and it could go global – and then I have to think, ‘Forget it, forget it, I’m not even buying it, I’m just having a latte!’ It’s a bit uncontrollable.
There can be a misconception about entrepreneurs having more time to spend with the family…
SC: I know, I know! And it’s one of my crusades. I just want to shatter that myth. HT: Well she did. An entire chapter in the book is on that point! It is a myth: if you are the sort of person who wants to have a business, a family, a home, a you, then you’re never going to find a balance. One will always give, and that’s normally yourself. That sort of ridiculousness that you read in articles, where they talk about home-made muesli that they made for the kids, they’ve done a yoga session, they’re on their iPad, their husband gives them a kiss, they get into the office for 10am, they’re going out in the evening and they’ve got their Jimmy Choos and they’ve done their hair…You’re just like, where are you sister? I mean, that is ridiculous! And it doesn’t do us any favours. SC: When we wrote the book, it was so important to us that we were really honest about it: this is the real life experience and we’re not super human,
My life – Sophie I’m watching: Homeland I’m reading: The Social Animal by David Brooks I’m listening to: Ed Sheeran I’m surfing: Huffington Post
and we don’t know everything, we just get on with it. And, you know, we do OK.
Are there many other female entrepreneurs? And do men respect you as businesswomen?
“We’re not superhuman, and we don’t know everything, we just get on with it”
HT: Over 90% of our businesses are female. So it’s almost like there weren’t many women entrepreneurs and we’ve created 2000! We have all these small businesses who we’ve given a platform to. On the other side is the females in industry issue. We go to awards where we’ll win; but they’re awards for female entrepreneurs and we’re the only women in the room. You realise that it is a man’s world out there. But I would say it’s a place of strength, because you are unique – you instantly stand out and have a different approach, and you can work that. Sophie and I have always found it an advantage.
What’s your favourite thing about being an entrepreneur?
SC: The best and worst thing is that you are your own boss – you define and shape what it is you think is important and then you do it. By definition you are able to work at what you believe in every day, and that makes it not work, that makes it instinct, pleasure; whatever you want to call it. It’s also the toughest thing, because you are the toughest boss there is. And you’re always with you: your boss is always there. We both wake up in the night and think of something we haven’t done – it never stops.
22 October 2012
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Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY
TOP OF THE POPS
TB catches up with Dragons’ Den success story, Love Da Popcorn, about the whirlwind journey that has taken them from making small batches at home to gracing the shelves of Waitrose “The three most profitable things in the world are cocaine, Kalashnikov guns and popcorn. After failing at two of the three, we gave popcorn a go”
’m out’. This was the response that Christian, Martin and Tom were met with in the Den, as Dragon after Dragon took themselves out of the running to invest in the boys’ homemade popcorn business. All but one – Peter Jones took the plunge, warming to the founders’ combination of enthusiasm, quirky charm and advertising know-how, and seeing a business opportunity where the others saw a hobby. Fast forward two years and Love
Da Popcorn has scaled up in size incredibly quickly, transforming from a product hand-popped in the founders’ kitchen for bespoke events, to being stocked in 251 Waitrose stores across the UK. Although an amazing opportunity, this level of growth has come with its own set of challenges. ‘It’s funny. Many people think when you go on Dragons’ Den that you will automatically make it as millionaires. What it did for us was give us an unnatural
growth,’ says Martin. ‘It proved challenging as we didn’t have a long trading history, and are three young guys – so it can be hard to get people to take us seriously.’ The guys’ background is in advertising, and creativity infects everything they do. Originally brought together by the desire to win a competition run by Ben & Jerry’s, they organised a flashmob-style “urban picnic”, where they rolled out turf to create a green space in the middle of central London. In a slightly circuitous fashion, this led to them selling popcorn: ‘The turf was pretty expensive. Christian then remembered one of his friends telling him the three most profitable things in the world are cocaine, Kalashnikov guns and popcorn. After failing at two of the three, we gave popcorn a go! But we then started taking it into work and to local parks and it took off from there really.’ This creativity and commitment to thinking big has influenced the entire brand, from the retro packaging to the playful, offbeat website, in a way reminiscent of
24 October 2012
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Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY
People think when you go on Dragons’ Den that you will automatically make it as millionaires”
the Innocent smoothie concept. As the business model has changed, so too have many of the issues that come with running a company – but the biggest challenge of all has remained the same, despite the scaling up of their processes. Martin admits the main problem has always been money. He says of the early days: ‘For us it was all about being
Vital statistics: Date the company was founded: August 2010 Start up capital: About £2k Current turnover: Estimated £3.5m on RRP Current net profit: Still working that one out! Growth rate: In the past two months we have produced more than three times the amount of popcorn we did in the first 20 months Biggest achievement: Dragons’ Den investment and getting our first listing with Waitrose
seen at the coolest events; this would build the reputation of our brand. ‘It became really stressful when we had no events planned, as we needed to keep people talking about us and maintain momentum. In order to get into events we often did them for free or for next-to-nothing, which put a lot of strain on the business.’ Despite a cash injection of £70,000 from the bank of Peter Jones, this particular challenge has remained; although they have more capital these days, they also have far more expenditure than when they were popping corn by hand. ‘Further down the line, the biggest issue continues to be cashflow. Managing the growth of the company is very tough.’ Having experienced this first-hand, Love Da Popcorn recommend start-ups to have it on their radar from the very earliest stages when setting up. ‘Manage your cashflow,’ advises Martin. ‘Push for better payment terms from clients and suppliers, get credit where you can, and really keep your head down and power through. ‘Think of any way you can improve your customers’ experience that will add value and help justify your price, but also make you stand out from competitors.’ Sage advice in these rough times, and a lesson that has had to be learned swiftly by the founders, having developed so rapidly from a business with virtually no outgoings into a full-blown retail operation. With expansion, the Love Da boys
have experienced the best and worst elements that come with making a living as an entrepreneur. ‘It is a massive learning curve, as you need to manage everything in the business – there is nowhere to hide,’ Martin confesses. ‘The best thing without doubt is being your own boss. You don’t have to do what other people think is right – you do what you believe is best, which makes it a lot easier to give it your all. ‘The worst thing has to be the situations you find yourself in where it feels like there is absolutely no way out, and also wondering where rent is going to come from.’ Despite this, the Love Da team are clearly loving the rollercoaster ride, and are still as mad about their product as ever. With a strong brand and powerful personalities in the driving seat, who knows where the adventure will take them? ‘Hopefully in the next year we can increase distribution and become the biggest popcorn brand in the UK,’ Martin says of their future plans. ‘A couple of years down the line, who knows? We do love the idea of Love Da Popsicles…and Love Da Airlines too. Imagine a big candy-striped plane!’ Yes, just imagine: with such infectious enthusiasm, passion and talent on their side, there’s no doubt we’ll all be boarding a Love Da jet in the not too distant future… Contact: www.lovedawebsite.com
My life I’m watching: The Social Network I’m reading: A book about Innocent: Our story and some things we’ve learned I’m listening to: Rizzle Kicks and Justice I’m surfing: I spend most of my time checking out Facebook groups, like Handpicked London, to stay on top of new events that are happening. A good old bit of the BBC is also part of the daily routine
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Focus on success UP-AND-COMING
Having graduated from Cambridge, Rob Blythe and Felix Mitchell were both frustrated by the lack of opportunities for recent graduates to gain experience and skills in enterprising and innovative small businesses. Their brainchild, Instant Impact, was designed to provide just such chances, uniting dynamic SMEs with the best possible graduates for internships and permanent positions.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea was born in Sydney where we were working six months after graduating from Cambridge. Having both enjoyed working for small businesses previously, we were frustrated by the lack of exciting options for recent graduates – we set up Instant Impact to do something about it.
What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs trying to get an idea off the ground? Don’t be tempted to overcomplicate the idea – launch with the minimal viable product. Our first website was way too complex, to the extent that the internal pages were completely impractical; it is much easier (and cheaper) to build on a simple platform than it is to strip back functionality!
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be doing today?
Aside from vain attempts to be a professional tennis player, I always thought that I would set up my own business.
What’s been your worst ever job?
A summer internship I did at a big investment bank after my penultimate year at university. I wasn’t given enough work to do and my grand expectations for “The City” weren’t realised.
What’s top of your bucket list?
It may only be a pipe dream but
Introducing… Rob Blythe and Felix Mitchell October sees not one, but two Shell LiveWIRE finalists grace our up-and-coming page, thanks to Instant Impact, their recruitment company with a difference I want to watch England lift the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham in 2015…
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a young entrepreneur? The doubters. As a young entrepreneur with all of your mates taking more “stable” or “traditional” routes into the working world, the biggest challenge is dealing with the minority of people who question your decision to set up a company straight out of university. You need to have conviction in both your idea and ability to implement it.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Being my own boss, meeting new people and learning about exciting new businesses.
How much does money motivate you?
Success and making a difference is much more of a motivator for me than money.
What’s been your proudest moment?
Captaining Cambridge to a 13-8 victory over Oxford in the Mens’ first team Varsity match!
What’s your vision for the future of II?
We want to be the first and only stop for the UK’s most exciting companies to find interns and graduates. We also want to achieve real change in the minds of young people starting their careers and encourage them to see the benefits of working at SMEs. Contact: www.instant-impact.com
My life I’m watching: Remember the Titans I’m reading: The Evening Standard I’m listening to: The XX I’m surfing: BBC iPlayer
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Focus on success 12 STEPS
The steps to success: Step 4 This month Carly Ward focuses on your goal achievement plan, step 4 of her entrepreneurial qualification
“If you set a goal that is attainable without much thought or work, you are stuck with something that is below your true talent and potential”
Did you know that only 3% of people in the world set goals? Guess what – they are the people who achieve the most and become the most successful. Don’t be one of the 97% that don’t set goals and just wander through life with no direction! Not having goals is like going on a long journey with no road map; how would you get to the destination without knowing where you’re going? Life is the longest journey we will ever go on, so be clear about where you want to go and how you are going to get there. THINK BIG, set big goals and have no limits. The only limits you face are in your own mind – something is only impossible until it’s possible. Set little goals in order to reach the bigger ones. You have to set goals that are almost out of reach; if you set a goal that is attainable without much thought or work, you are stuck with something that is below your true talent and potential. The best way to set your goals is around BE, DO and HAVE. The “have” stuff is easy. ‘I want to have a nice house, have a nice car, have nice holidays...’ (you get the picture). But if you’re not going to BE anyone or DO anything, then you’re going to find it very hard to ever HAVE anything. Think about where you want to be in five years. Think about your career, where you live, the clothes you’re wearing, perhaps it could be your level of fitness, how much money you
have or something to do with family or personal relationships. What level of motivation do you feel when you think about your life in five years? You have got to be excited about your goals, otherwise you will never achieve them. They need to be exciting but scary at the same time – if your goals are too easily achievable and don’t create a bit of a challenge they are not ambitious enough. Remember you can always set smaller goals in between the bigger ones; the small ones are there to help you actually achieve the big ones. Why not sit down for an hour or so and set your top seven goals? Make a vision board: this can help make your goals real and keeps you on track. Cut out pictures and words to do with your goals and stick them onto a big piece of paper, even stick them on the fridge, all around the house, anywhere where you see them. You need to constantly think about your goals, walk, talk and breathe them. Your goals are what is going to give you the freedom and happiness you want out of life and the quality of life you deserve. Remember, life is a journey; it begins when you do. Do what you love and love what you do. Contact: www.yesnetwork.co.uk Twitter @carlyyes @yesteam
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Focus on success ENHANCING PERFORMANCE
Relight the torch for supercharged sales
Sales are fundamentally the most important part of the survival kit for businesses; without cashflow there can be no business flow. Crucially, as confidence starts to appear in the market, businesses need to be smarter in the way they market, approach and service their customer base. The 80/20 rule still applies, but businesses should consider applying more focus than before on the 80% of the market that they are not servicing. It is important to build on the smaller customer base and, over this period, develop them to become one of your top 20.
Stop directing and start leading
Often, more senior members are immune to the opportunities and risks that their business is engaged in, as they do not spend enough time on the front line. This leads to a gap in their knowledge and understanding of how the sales team is driven, motivated and what support they need. Break the mould, get out with your sales team to see customers, re-ignite the passion and energy of closing a sale. This will stimulate you more and give you crucial exposure to the real truth about your business.
Blueprint to success
Reconsider your strategies, and align them to the current climate and market demands. Build better sales maps for your team so they are not disorientated and wayward. Create realistic and achievable milestones for your business, so you remain motivated and focused on your mission.
Back to basics
Simplicity is the key. Do not over complicate your offerings and bamboozle your clients with overhyped promises. Your customer needs assurances of service, and by being clear and simple with your provisions you will be more successful than your competitors.
IN THE GAME
Ketan Makwana, director of Enterprise Lab, considers how businesses can get back on their feet to enjoy success, security and growth as we continue to fight our way out of recession Be creative, not deflated Let your customers do more of the talking – get into their world and understand their issues and concerns. This is priceless information, which will enable you to form stronger relationships and, in turn, forge more business. Develop ideas and service provisions which appease these issues and remember: for every problem there is a solution.
Re-train to retain
Invest in your prize assets: your sales team. Work with each member by identifying where they feel they need support and what they want to achieve. Produce a personal development plan around this. It is as important to retain staff as clients; without them you are only half a business.
Watch the pennies If the recession has taught businesses anything, it is to cut unnecessary spending. Only furnish business needs, not wants, and be more stringent on how you finance the needs too.
Don’t alienate…collaborate “Create realistic and achievable milestones for your business”
We have all heard the saying ‘two heads are better than one.’ It is worth considering strategic partnerships, alliances and opportunities of working with other companies that offer services that you do not have, that your customers are looking for. This represents a growth opportunity for both businesses and a more comprehensive approach to the customer solution. Contact: www.enterpriselab.co.uk
30 October 2012
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Focus on success THE INTERVIEW
Meet David Fishwick, the man with a (mini)van who set up his own “bank”. From minibuses to money lending, the star of Bank of Dave tells Helen Coffey his story
YOU CAN BANK ON DAVE D
avid Fishwick is lovely, just lovely. It may seem an odd choice of word to describe a self-made man from Burnley who made his fortune selling minibuses, but I stand by my decision. Recently having starred in his own Channel 4 show, Bank of Dave, he could well be forgiven for being a bit snippy, bored by now of the whole media circus, complete with round after round of identikit interviews. But he is quite the opposite: open, friendly and refreshingly honest about his strongly-held opinions regarding the state of banking in the UK. Am I gushing? Perhaps just a little. Well, I do love a Lancashire accent… Rewind to the beginning, and David tells me he was, like many entrepreneurs, not particularly invested in academia. ‘I always thought the world outside the classroom looked a lot more interesting than inside,’ he tells me. ‘I regret it now – an education does set you up better. I do talks in schools now, telling kids to get their qualifications first.’ It didn’t stop him from building his minibus empire
though, now the UK’s largest supplier of new and used minibuses and minicoaches. At just 16, he started on the road to becoming an entrepreneur, buying cars, fixing them up and selling them on for a profit. ‘When I started, I had £200 and a Ford Capri. I wanted to do something to do with cars; I just didn’t have the money. So I had to borrow the cars at first. But I got a regular job, and saved up £27, which was a week’s wage. ‘I went straight back up to the garage and learnt a very valuable lesson at 16: that if you have the money upfront, you can negotiate.’ This experience proved invaluable: ‘I learnt at the coalface, at the sharp end,’ he says. David knows better than anyone that it’s a tricky time to set up a business – one of the primary reasons he set up Burnley Savings and Loans was because his clients were being refused bank loans to purchase minibuses. He too found funding an issue when he was starting out, and admits it was one of the biggest challenges. Regardless, he believes you have to dive in head first if you’re looking to start your own
“When people rob banks they go to jail, when banks rob people they get a bonus”
business, taking a long-term view rather than focusing on the current problems. ‘There’s no perfect time to start a business,’ he says. ‘If you wanted to buy a farm today and have it for 35 years, and someone said in 34 years there might be a drought, would you still do it? Of course! ‘You can spend ten years talking about doing a business. You’ve just got to jump in with both feet.’ What he doesn’t advocate is jumping in without knowing where you’re going. David is a firm believer in setting your goal before you start out. He says: ‘Self belief is the main thing – having a goal, looking where you want to be, seeing how you get there. Reverse engineer how to get there, set the satnav button and away you go!’ Minibuses to banking is quite a leap, I remark. Once you get David going on the topic of this country’s banking system though, there’s no stopping him – he is a passionate advocate for a new way of handling people’s money which will benefit the entire community.
32 October 2012
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Focus on success THE INTERVIEW
‘We put a team together and thought, “We’ll have a go at this”. I can’t use the word bank, or deposit, because I’d go to jail, but slowly I found ways around it. ‘I’m helping pensioners to achieve 5% on their savings, and then I use that money to loan to hard working people who I trust to pay it back. It’s for the people, run by the community, and it supports the community with charitable giving.’ What’s revolutionary about the concept is that it retains none of the profits – any extra money is put back into the community, supporting local charities. No big bonuses here then? ‘It’s amazing: when people rob banks they go to jail, when banks rob people they get a bonus,’ says David. ‘The banks should be more socially responsible. They’ve forgotten why they’re there in the first place; they should be helping people. ‘It’s the only business in the world where, if you do well, you keep all the money, and if you do badly you keep all the money. I’ve created different business models where the shareholders lose the money, not the people. If the banks were run like that we’d never have had a problem.’ It’s a persuasive argument, and one which has undoubtedly shaped the way that they do business at Burnley Savings and Loans. Believe it or not (and I’m inclined to), David goes out to potential customers’ homes, making his decision over a brew. ‘If we’re not sure about someone, we’ll spend the time finding out. A bank 300 miles away will never take the time to do that. ‘Technology’s fantastic, but it can’t sit having tea for half an hour. You can definitely tell.’ Handing out loans to people who have been turned down by traditional lenders may sound a little risky; what if it all goes wrong? David seems genuinely confident that they will have very little trouble recouping the money
“People want to pay us back, because it’s going out to people who need it, not to buy us private jets”
though, again citing the personal touch and community culture of “Bank of Dave” as the guarantee. He tells me: ‘People want to pay us back, because it’s going out to people who need it, not to buy us private jets. ‘And I tell them, “If you don’t pay this back, Betty won’t get her pension.” That way they know they are responsible.’ David has spotted what is surely the biggest current need throughout the UK, and addressed it in a unique and inspiring way. You can’t get more entrepreneurial than that, and David clearly loves what he does. ‘The best thing is it gives you choices – you can do what you want, when you want. It’s hard work, and it’s a tough old world, and you live, breathe and eat it, but you get up in the morning and have choices.’ Could David’s innovative approach be the future direction of British banking? It’s too soon to tell, but you can bank on Dave to give it his best shot. Contact: www.burnleysavingsandloans.co.uk www.davidfishwick.com
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Focus on success BOOK REVIEWS
The social media handbook for professionals by CIPR
More than 20 of the UK’s leading practitioners in the field of digital communications and public relations have contributed to Share This – a crowdsourced social media book, from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). The book includes insights and practical guidance into how professional communicators can utilise social media, networks and platforms to engage directly in conversation with audiences. The book is split into 26 chapters, with each one having been contributed by one of the foremost experts in the given subject area.
They say: Share This is one of the most exciting publications ever produced by the CIPR. The biggest names in digital communications and public relations have come together to create a complete guide on every aspect of social media, and this book is a testimony to what can be achieved when working together. Many of the chapters in the book are fundamental skills needed for 21st Century professional communicators, but these are proficiencies and techniques that anyone with an interest in making the most of communicating via social networks, be that by Twitter or Facebook, can benefit from.
We say: Covering everything from the best networks to use to using social communication tools to improve employee engagement, Share This is a comprehensive handbook, which would be useful for anyone looking to get to grips with social media, or even to simply further develop the way they use it as a communication tool. Enlisting the help of industry professionals ensures that each chapter is written by an expert in the field. The only drawback is that, due to the number of contributors, the style differs from chapter to chapter – but as each one is designed to be standalone, this isn’t hugely problematic.
Share This is published by Wiley, priced at £16.99 in hardback and e-book
LEGALLY BRANDED by Shireen Smith
Legally Branded is published by Azrights Media Ltd, priced at £15.00 in paperback
Legally Branded is a new title which provides accessible and easy to understand explanations about intellectual property law and brand law for business owners. The book addresses how to avoid infringing on the copyright and design rights of others, the most effective ways to use domain names and SEO, how to retain the rights you need when engaging staff or outsourcing, and how to create and maintain a successful online brand. She says: I wrote the book as there are currently no accessible books for business owners on the legal aspects
of branding. For example, there is a world of difference between suggestive names and names that describe a product or service. Business owners should know that suggestive names are desirable brands names, and that descriptive names should be avoided at all costs. Using insights from the book, business owners will be better equipped to avoid common problems, such as having to rebrand for infringing on the rights of others, or having inadequate branding that fails to serve their long-term entrepreneurial dreams.
We say: Tackling an area frequently overlooked by small businesses until it’s too late, Shireen Smith’s book covers not only intellectual property law, but also a whole host of related topics, such as the importance of proper rather than descriptive names when it comes to protecting your brand, how the Internet affects your legal position, and how copyright works in the cloud. Devoid of complicated legal jargon, each chapter is illustrated with a real-life case study or example using a fictional company to explain how the law works in practice.
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Focus on money
Planning and preparation are vital when selling your business – delay can be deadly. Martin Spiller, a partner with Jenson Solutions and angel investor, advises on getting your business ready for sale
elling your business is difficult. Whether selling the whole or just part of it to secure funding, it’s a process that requires a significant investment in time, energy and money. As owner – and most often key management – entrepreneurs can find the experience challenging. Balancing the competing needs of running the business with the requirements of potential interested parties is emotionally draining, and being questioned over an extended period about something with which you have very strong connections can be especially bruising. Particularly if, at the end of it all, the process is not successful. In our experience, the primary deciding factor of whether a business will be sold or receive investment is directly linked to the length of time it takes to complete the process. Timing, as they say, really is everything!
The honeymoon period
As with anything in life, the start of any transaction is usually very positive. The courtship process creates a honeymoon period in which all parties believe anything is possible. Inevitably this will not last, and it is critical to capitalise on this early positivity to build momentum to overcome the problems that will arise. This is particularly true during these difficult economic times, where there is a prevailing conservative strategic outlook and most organisations adopt a cautious approach. Any delay can break
the momentum and materially increase the chance of a “deal breaking” issue occurring, with the parties involved failing to reach agreement. So, why is time such a critical success factor in this process? As the details of most transactions are confidential, it is difficult to be entirely accurate, but estimates suggest that the average time from initial discussions to completion for a sale or investment is 21 weeks. In theory, if the process extends by three weeks it increases the risk of failure by almost 15%. In fact, the risk increases exponentially for each week that the transaction extends, and it is important to note that delay will normally benefit the buyer or investor and not the entrepreneur.
1. Unanticipated decline in performance Probably the most common cause of transaction failure. This could be a temporary setback due to a delayed contract, or a more permanent issue, such as a key customer loss. Alternatively, over optimistic forecasts that prove difficult to meet can create an impression of decline. Whatever the reason, the result is nearly always fatal. Confidence and momentum are lost, the acquirer will usually seek to renegotiate key terms, such as price, and often it will raise questions over other business areas with which they were perfectly happy previously. This is particularly true when working with large corporates
36 October 2012
036_037 Timing is everything.ga.indd 36
Focus on money SELLING A BUSINESS
or venture capital providers that tend to be less emotionally invested. Re-submitting investment committee or board approval papers to reflect lower-than-anticipated trading results is unlikely to achieve a favourable outcome. If they remain interested they will usually reflect the changed circumstances by reducing the price offered. Business owners do not react well to price reductions, leading to a rapid breakdown in the relationship. 2. Macro-economic shock Since 2008, one of the most significant factors in transaction failure is the constantly changing economic climate. This increases the risk of the performance issues outlined above, creates an uncertain business environment, and impacts overall confidence and outlook on investment. At the time of writing, the European debt crisis continues and the outlook for UK growth remains unclear. The resulting lack of consumer and business confidence creates a very unstable position for ensuring a smooth and efficient transaction process, and the longer the process, the increased potential for more bad news to have an effect. 3. Strategic and management change Without wishing to be too precise, the average tenure of a CEO or senior manager is four years. Therefore, during a 21 week process there is a 10% chance a senior team member of the interested party will exit or change position, and in the majority of cases we reviewed, this usually resulted in significant process delays, a change in strategy and more often than not a failure for the process to complete. Again this is more common when dealing with large corporates or venture
capital providers where the need for an internal sponsor to manage the process throughout is critical. The key question therefore is: what can you do about it?
Get all your ducks in a row
“The longer the process, the increased potential for more bad news to have an effect”
“The courtship process creates a honeymoon period in which all parties believe anything is possible”
Ideally, you would be in control of when your business is sold. In reality, most often the starting point is a result of issues – positive or negative – arising in the business, or because of an opportunistic approach by a potential interested party. Regardless, it is critical that you do not proceed without establishing if you and your business are ready, ensuring that once the process begins you are in a position to manage and control it. Pre-sale preparation is vital, not only to ensure that the maximum valuation for the business is realised, but also to achieve a successful conclusion at all. The focus should be on addressing or eliminating risk factors associated with the business which may reduce attractiveness or which might interrupt the sale process.
• Create a disposal/investment team that focuses on managing the process, while others remain focused on running the business which is a critical success factor.
ensuring that all key contracts are up to date, signed and in place (e.g. clients, intellectual property, employment, supplier). Be critical and honest, as highlighting issues early enables them to be addressed and ensures your internal control systems are robust. • Critically assess the most likely deal breakers in the process and develop a contingency plan to address them. The key is to attempt to pre-empt issues, and to demonstrate strong management skills by managing issues as they arise during the process. Overall, the key to ensuring that your business has the best chance of being sold or securing investment is down to planning and preparation. While there are no guarantees of success, given the current economic climate, delay, more than ever before, has become deadly.
Particular thanks in the writing of this article go to Paul Jenkinson, the managing Partner of Jenson Solutions, for his invaluable input. Contact: www.jensonsolutions.com Twitter: @MartinRSpiller
• Develop a project plan that outlines areas of responsibility, determines which advisors will be used, and how confidentiality and communication with staff, customers, suppliers and key stakeholders will be managed. Maintaining control over the process is crucial. • Complete an internal compliance review to ensure the fundamentals are in place, starting from the most basic statutory requirements (e.g. liability insurance and health and safety information), to
036_037 Timing is everything.ga.indd 37
Focus on money CREDIT RATING
TAKING A GAMBLE With all the talk of the struggles faced by UK SMEs, the one thing that never gets a mention is the credit rating lottery holding them back. Bobby Lane, partner at Shelley Stock Hutter LLP, discusses the elephant in the room
“A company was given a zero credit limit by one agency, £6,000 by a second, and £68,000 by a third”
A day doesn’t go by without you reading something “new” on the plight of small business lending and how the Government is progressing with further initiatives to boost Britain’s SMEs. Yet what fails to get mentioned in any headline speech by politicians is the lottery small businesses are facing when being assessed by credit ratings agencies. Recently, my firm conducted an investigation into the ratings and limits suggested by three well known credit agencies among 100 SMEs in the UK. With an average variation of 150%, the differences found were far from insignificant. For example, a company was
given a zero credit limit by one agency, £6,000 by a second and £68,000 by a third. At a time when businesses are having to prove their viability to everyone, from suppliers to banks to investors, an incorrect rating will seriously affect the ability of a company to trade. When a supplier is looking to extend credit terms, an incorrect rating could mean additional pressure on working capital, as terms may be reduced or even removed. On the other hand, agreeing to supply a potential customer where the reality of their position is masked by an inflated limit could have catastrophic consequences. Businesses across the UK continue to base their decisions on the information and suggested limits received from a credit agency. There is a widely held belief that the market is not only regulated, but also that all agencies calculate ratings or limits in a similar way. It’s understandable that different agencies will have different methods for calculating the financial risk associated with a company. But one would expect moderate differences in limit – not huge disparities. Yet without a uniform set of agency rules or criteria, getting a credit rating is – and will remain – a lucky dip for businesses. Surely the time will have to come
where the agencies must be forced, through a code of transparency, to identify how they are arriving at their recommendations, either through industry regulation or Government initiatives? This would ensure agencies show Britain’s businesses how they have arrived at their recommendations, but also bring these variances into line. Businesses also need to be accountable and provide the agencies with as much information as possible to ensure the suggested limits are a fairer reflection of the reality. Remaining a closed book, filing abbreviated accounts and refusing to supply information – which has been a consistent theme found in many SMEs – will not help their cause either. Business owners should also be aware of the less obvious factors that can affect their limit: things like changes in accounting reference date, changes in officers of the company and moving a registered office. If the SME sector is truly going to be the area of the economy to drive the country out of recession – or a potential triple dip – the hurdles being placed in their way must be removed. Contact: www.sshllp.com
039 good credit ratings.ga.indd 39
Contact: Janet Matthews t: 01530 513307 e: firstname.lastname@example.org Total Cost: Approx. £33,000 + VAT plus shop fit Type: Retail
ichard McConnell, 33, opened his clothing alterations, repairs and tailoring franchise, The ZipYard, in Altrincham in September 2011. Although well established in Ireland, Richard’s business is the first ZipYard centre in England, bringing on-site repairs and alterations to the high street in purpose-designed premises with fully trained staff. Originally from Derry in Northern Ireland, Richard moved to the UK in 1997 to study for a Management & Accountancy degree at the University of Huddersfield. Richard is married to Marie and their first child, Darcey, was born in October 2011.
up his own independent driving instruction business for 5 years.
Education and early career
Why did you choose ZipYard?
After University, Richard travelled and worked across Australia, Asia and Europe, often taking up jobs involving either door to door or telephone sales. “It takes real inner strength to do those kind of jobs, because you are constantly being turned down. You have to put up with a lot of rejection and negativity but it does build character!” In 2003, Richard moved back to Huddersfield to work in recruitment for 4 years until deciding to branch out and become a driving instructor. “I was 24 years old and I wasn’t enjoying the groundhog-day feeling of working in an office. I craved a new environment and wanted to get out and meet people. I was looking for work when an advert for becoming a driving instructor in the local newspaper grabbed my attention.” “I liked the flexibility that the job offered along with working my own hours and being my own boss.” Richard joined a franchise operation for 3 years before setting
advertorial v1.indd 26
What led you to switch from being a driving instructor to running a ZipYard centre?
“My wife and I wanted to start a family, but my hours as a driving instructor were really unsociable, mainly during evenings and weekends. We didn’t think this would fit in well with family life so I started looking around at different opportunities. We had saved up a bit of money and thought that investing in a franchise was a less risky option.” “We did lots of research in the franchise press and online, and looked into a wide variety of franchises.” “My wife noticed the ZipYard advert and she thought it was a fantastic idea. We did some research and quickly realised that there was no real competition in our area. Most of the time clothing repairs are done as a bolt-on service at dry cleaners. The turn-around time isn’t very good and they don’t offer a very wide range of services.” “We went to meet Nigel Toplis, the franchisor, and we visited a centre in Wales. We were impressed by the professionalism of the franchise. The brand is very strong and the shop fit is amazing, from the fitting rooms to the equipment and layout. They really know what they are doing and can cater for every kind of alteration and repair on site.”
What kind of support have you had setting up your franchise? “Both myself and my wife, Marie, have received comprehensive training, at the ZipYard training centre in Belfast and more ‘hands-on’ experience in a
working centre. The training covered everything from administration and office processes to employment contracts, employment law, pricing, tills, equipment maintenance and the general day to day running of the centre.” “Nigel and his team helped us to source the right premises and even helped us to negotiate the lease. There are so many areas that I knew nothing about, such as break clauses and other contractual technicalities where Nigel’s team have been invaluable. I’m so glad we weren’t on our own.”
How is it going?
“It’s going brilliantly and we are getting busier every week. In the first 6 weeks we saw our sales rise by 600%!” “The reaction from customers is amazing. They seem genuinely ecstatic that we are here and their faces light up when they come in to the centre. They are delighted that we can breathe new life into clothes that they can’t wear or that are damaged in some way.”
What are your future plans for the business?
“Once we’ve got this centre up and running to full capacity we would love to open up a second one. Marie would also like to get more involved with the business once Darcey has grown up a bit.”
Would you recommend a ZipYard franchise to potential franchise owners?
“Absolutely, no doubt about it. It is one of the most unique franchises available, with a professionalism and quality that just shines through.”
sful s e c c u s t s o The m tion a r e t l a t n e garm K U e h t n i e franchis and Ireland Who? • Are you ambitious to run your own business? • Customer driven and well organised? • Can you follow a proven business system?
Total Cost: Approx. £33,000 + VAT plus shop fit* One-off licence fee Franchise package: – Corporate branding
– Production equipment
All Zip Yard franchises are finished to a distinctive specification and you are presented with a fully operational and fully supported business with trained staff and comprehensive brand marketing from day one.
– Comprehensive marketing launch programme
Support Includes: • • • • •
Marketing and promotion tools Group purchasing power Internet and web support Ongoing training programmes Continued concept and product development • Day to day troubleshooting
– Opening stock – Bespoke electronic point of sale package and software – Computer Training and project management Ongoing business support
“After meeting the franchisor, Nigel Toplis, we were very impressed by the professionalism of the franchise. Since opening the reaction from customers has been amazing and business is going so well that we are looking to open a second Centre, and possibly a third after that.” Richard McConnell, The ZipYard Altrincham
For further information call Janet Matthews on 01530 513307 e: email@example.com w: www.thezipyard.co.uk * The exact shop fit cost will be determined by the size and standard of the premises
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Focus on money START-UP FUNDING
SHOW ME THE MONEY
Struggling to get a loan for your start-up? Jason Ball, Director of Qualcomm Ventures, is here to give us the low down on some of the alternative funding options available for today’s entrepreneur
he number of new UK start-ups is now exceeding the start-up growth rate before the recession began, with 122 companies established in the fourth quarter of 2011 according to a report by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Many of these will have taken the route of vying for attention and funding from either venture capital (VC) or angel investment. If successful, this type of backing can give a business profile a huge boost. From an image perspective, if a VC has seen your business plan and chosen to invest, it shows the outside world that they believe in you and your business and that it is worth the risk to get involved. This really adds credibility, improving a business’ profile and even
“With most investment competitions, funding is just the start”
helping to attract new customers or additional investment. Furthermore, it enables entrepreneurs to approach more experienced, high performers in the industry to help build a solid team, something that will really make a difference in the more vulnerable early stages. VC or angel investors can also bring experience and knowledge of the industry, as well as providing valuable support and counsel. For start-ups that are lucky enough to gain VC or angel investment, they can really benefit from that powerful platform. But let’s not forget that obtaining this investment is a hard fought battle in the first instance, and very few start-ups can actually rely on this being a viable funding option. It has long been argued that there is a shortage of strong investors
in the UK, particularly in the technology market, and thus European entrepreneurs have looked instead for investment in Silicon Valley. The recent opening of the Silicon Valley Bank in London serves to add fuel to this fire. Other opportunities for funding new businesses come in the shape of incubators; programmes designed to support the development of start-ups through providing resources and services either by itself or its network of contacts. Vodafone, for example, just launched a new technology and incubation centre in London’s Tech City – offering financial assistance, technical expertise and logistical support to startups in the mobile internet and creative media industries. Business incubators can differ
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Focus on money START-UP FUNDING
in how they operate and deliver their services, and even the types of businesses they serve, but as the name suggests, this type of programme gives vital support in the early stages to develop a company. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 87% of businesses that have completed an incubation programme are more likely to stay in business, in contrast to 44% of all firms. An alternative funding option that is growing hugely in popularity is both private and public investment competitions. Private investment competitions such as Qualcomm’s QPrize or Amazon’s Start-Up Challenge give entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their business ideas or plans to a panel of industry judges, with often large sums of funding on offer for the winners. There are also innovation agencies, which most countries have, such as the Technology Strategy Board in the UK, a public body driving innovation. They tend to have a higher risk appetite as they don’t need to make a profit for investors, often funding proof of concepts for example. With most investment competitions, funding is just the start. For businesses that win, it is the beginning of a very significant relationship that will solidify the development of the business, and often result in the success of a company. Investment competitions enable access to industry contacts and insider information that start-ups would never normally be privy to, even technology, roadmaps and plans for example. Some competition winners even get introductions to senior contacts of other potential investors and partners. Furthermore, if you win an investment competition with a large company or brand, you have the opportunity to really exploit the spotlight and ride the coattails of publicity around the competition. Even if your business isn’t crowned the winner, there are
Alexander Trewby, co-founder of Enterproid
“It has long been argued that there is a shortage of strong investors in the UK, particularly in the technology market”
numerous advantages to taking part in such competitions. The panel of judges tend to include heads of business development from various companies in that target market, and they can take a personal interest in one of the semi-finalists. There’s the added publicity that involvement in such a competition automatically brings, and let’s not forget that these types of competitions are simply great training for hunting for VC investment. They encourage entrepreneurs to work up a clear business model and elevator pitch and then practice it in front of a live audience. Finally, there’s always the option of crowdfunding – not the traditional method of choice, but one that is growing in interest. This enables start-ups to crowdsource equity capital from friends, family and third-party investors through online sites. An example is the recent UK launch
by Seedrs; it creates a free online listing for your business, and investors can choose to get involved and receive a percentage of the equity raised if the business is successful. For an investor, the mission is to accelerate and influence the growth of its particular market, while supporting its own corporate and business strategic goals through seeking out the right investment opportunities. For an entrepreneur, it’s about finding the best fit for you and your business to ensure you get the best head start. Funding is a huge challenge in getting a business off the ground, so it is really worth taking the time to consider not only the options, but the additional opportunities and benefits that come with each one. Contact: www.qualcommventures.com
In practice… Enterproid was a little-known mobile software start-up in 2010; now it is a burgeoning technology company that raised an $11m Series A round. The company accredits its hugely successful start to the QPrize competition launched by Qualcomm Ventures – a venture investment competition which aims to identify and fund the industry’s most promising, early-stage technology companies. Enterproid, which secures, enables and accelerates BYOD mobility, was the global QPrize winner (as well as the North American regional winner) in 2011, which it says ‘totally changed the game’. Not only did the company win $250,000, giving them significant financial investment, but Enterproid also gained valuable access to Qualcomm’s vast network, were introduced to relevant contacts, given resources, and were provided with sound advice.
44 October 2012
043_044 funding for startups.indd 44
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Focus on money INCOME TAX
John Leyden, owner of Carbon Accountancy, is here to highlight the top mistakes made on income tax returns. Avoid at all costs if you fancy saving time and money this year
Incoming… Looking at the HMRC website, the “common mistakes” they urge you to avoid in terms of filling out your tax return include: remembering to sign and date it; checking each page; adding your tax reference number if you downloaded the form; using the right form for the right tax year and not scribbling notes on the form like, “information to follow”. Fine – if you are in a school exam! but not so helpful in terms of understanding where most people go wrong and how you can avoid some of the common pitfalls. Here, from years of (sometimes bitter, but usually helpful) experience, are my top tips in terms of that annual headache – filling in your tax return.
1. Employment benefits
Probably the most common mistake is to forget to include your employment benefits on your tax return – things like company cars and private medical insurance may seem obvious, but many people omit them. And remember that other benefits like gym membership are taxable too!
2. Pensions The most frequently occurring mistake I see in terms of pension contributions is either forgetting to include them at all, or putting the incorrect amount in. Most pension contributions are paid to the pension provider
on a net basis – so £80 of pension contribution is £100 of gross contribution. Often people get these figures mixed up so make sure you know which is which.
“Not claiming enough is the problem here rather than not declaring enough!”
3. Gift aid A large number of people fail to include their charitable donations on their income tax return – if you are a higher rate taxpayer, you are missing out on getting a tax refund for this, so always keep a record. 4. Small amounts of dividends and interest Many people forget to include interest and dividends from small deposits and shareholdings. Take the trouble to go through every small account you may have forgotten about – it helps to keep records or files so that there aren’t any half-dormant accounts left out because you don’t use them a lot. 5. Rental income wear and tear allowance Not claiming enough is the problem here rather than not declaring enough! The most common form of mistake
for rental income is not claiming the 10% wear and tear allowance (which reduces your taxable rent by 10% for furnished lettings). That can make a big difference, so make sure you claim this every time.
6. Rental income mortgage interest Another common rental income mistake is claiming the full mortgage payments instead of just claiming interest paid on the mortgage. Remember that you are only allowed to claim for the interest payments, and not the capital repayments. 7. Claiming capital losses In terms of capital gains tax, the thing that most people get wrong is not including losses, thinking that this isn’t relevant as no tax is payable. However, by claiming losses you can carry them forward and reduce capital gains tax in future years, so don’t just leave them out – it could cost you in the long run. Contact: www.carbonaccountancy.co.uk
46 October 2012
046 Income tax return.ga.indd 46
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Focus on money TAX CREDITS
OUT At present, the Bank of England is reducing growth forecasts for the UK and we are in a double dip recession (with the threat of a lasting period of little or negative growth). An issue being highlighted, time and time again, is the real or perceived experience that the UK’s banks aren’t providing enough finance for growth to UK companies. Many companies seem to be overlooking the fact that taxbased funding is often readily available from the unusual source of HMRC. Tax-based funding is the provision of funding to companies via the corporate tax system. In the same way families receive tax credits to supplement their income, companies can also receive corporate tax credits for certain activities. What differs significantly between individuals and companies, is the value of the tax credits available. Viewing HMRC as a source of funding will appear to be a huge contradiction to most businesses. However, central Government funding has increasingly moved away from being provided in the form of grants into being provided in the form of corporate tax credits.
Have you considered HMRC as a source of funding for your business growth? Alastair Wilson, tax partner at Tait Walker LLP, tells us more about corporate tax credits Since 2000, a broad range of tax reliefs which can be used to generate corporate tax credits have been introduced. A corporate tax credit is exactly what it sounds like: a cash credit will be given by HMRC to companies who qualify, even if the company isn’t profitable. For example, corporate tax credits are available equivalent to 28% of the cost of an R&D project, 19% of expenditure on energy efficient plant and 16% of the cost of land remediation. These corporate tax credits can be a hugely valuable source of funding. We recently worked with an engineering group to secure more than £700,000 in R&D tax credits. Those credits will provide a flexible and fast source of funding for their future expansion. But remember: HMRC won’t promote corporate tax credits to companies, acting as the gatekeeper of the funding rather than a promoter. The promotion role is left to the company’s
adviser, in particular their accountant or tax adviser. A good adviser who specialises in corporate tax can add real value to a business in the current economic climate by significantly reducing or extinguishing the need for a company to secure bank funding altogether. There are some key differentiators between corporate tax credits and bank funding. The tax credits are based on activities which the company has carried out, not on activities which it is going to carry out. No covenants will be set, and no guarantees will be required. As the funding is based on activities which have occurred, at no point will HMRC ask what you plan to do with the money, nor will you find that the company is placed in “intensive care” if current budgets are missed.
“Many companies seem to be overlooking the fact that tax based funding is often readily available”
049 HMRC Funding.ga.indd 49
Focus on money CAREFUL CONTRACTS
In this, the second in our series on careful contracts, NaviStar Legal founder, Jo Rogers, drives home the importance of knowing where the other party is based before you sign anything
Before you sign on the dotted line… In most agreements, the details of the parties are the first things that you see: “ABC Ltd, registered at 123 Address Rd and incorporated in England and Wales (company number 123)”. This wording provides us with valuable information about a party, but is often not considered fully. In this, the second article in our Careful Contracts series, we consider the important three questions and consequences relating to where another party is based.
1. What is the other party’s
address? This seems like an obvious question to ask, but when things go wrong, there is nothing more frustrating than only having an email address and telephone number for a business that owes you money and ignores you. It is therefore important to get a system in place to ensure you find out the actual address of the business in advance. The registered address of a company is usually at the beginning or in the “Notices” provision of the agreement. Although formal legal notices can be sent to the registered address of a company, registered offices may just be a mailing address, which will not give you access to someone face-to-face if things go wrong. Therefore, find out online in advance if the company has a physical location, i.e. an office or a principal place of business. If you are given a PO Box or mail box address or even (I have seen it) a website address as the address for notices, then make further enquiries.
2. Where will litigation be?
“There is nothing more frustrating than only having an email address for a business that owes you money”
Since different countries have their own legal procedures and rules, as a domestic company dealing with a party incorporated outside England, Wales or Scotland (a nondomestic company), you should check the agreement and, at the very least, ensure that the agreement states that: a. the language of the agreement is English b. the law of England will govern the agreement c. the courts of England will have exclusive jurisdiction over the agreement
3. What if the party is a non-
domestic company? We don’t intend to consider the intricacies of international disputes here. However, note that you should engage a lawyer to perform a full company search of the non-domestic company, particularly if: a. the agreement is of a significant commercial value to your company or,
b. there are significant consequences if the agreement is broken. If English law doesn’t apply to the agreement, then the local lawyer should also perform a review of the agreement. It may be worth noting that if you are forced to make or defend a legal claim abroad then additional costs i.e. transport, paying for local legal advice and potentially extensive translation, can be a hindrance. However, be particularly wary if you are dealing with a non-domestic party in a country that has a worse-than-average reputation for corruption or bribery, since adhering to local “business customs” (usually bribes) may breach English anti-bribery provisions and have criminal penalties. Contact: www.navistarlegal.com
50 October 2012
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Claire catches up with… Lynnette Peck Bateman
Combining both her column and social life, this is the first in a series of mini interviews, where Claire Young meets up with an entrepreneur pal and gets the goss on everything from shopping to super powers Lynnette Peck Bateman had a successful 20-year career in journalism, as a magazine editor and fashion, health & beauty director before setting up her own business in March 2011. Spotting a gap in the vintage market for a retail website that sold trend-led vintage fashion, Lynnette launched Lovely’s Vintage Emporium – the name came about as her husband, Nick’s nickname for her is “Lovely”! She now boasts singer Nicki Minaj and TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Dawn Porter as clients. If you could have any entrepreneurial super power what would it be? I would love to be able to fly like Superman: then I could travel all around the world sourcing fabulous vintage pieces for Lovely’s Vintage Emporium in an efficient, swift way. When you have a really tough day and feel like giving up what inspires you to keep going? I have to be honest and say that I never feel like giving up. I have so much passion mixed with obsession for Lovely’s Vintage Emporium that it keeps me going. I have always been motivated by vintage fashion and I was an early adopter when it came to the Internet, so to have managed to combine the two into a business is just a joy.
What’s your top tip to pass onto others? Never give up, unless of course you are repeatedly losing money. Then you must look at whether it is really viable. During these tough economic times, I am managing to go beyond all the targets I set for myself, and my tip is to ensure your business is one you love, because then you don’t mind working all hours of the day. What’s been your most costly mistake? I haven’t made any huge costly mistakes, but if I could go back in time I would not have bought so much initial stock. I was so excited that I spent too much. How important is social media to your business? My business simply would not be where it is so quickly without social media. My Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr all lead to sales. As Lovely’s Vintage Emporium is an Internet boutique, it means that I can instantly post new products, offers, news and do flash sales at the click of a button.
Do you still love shopping or have you reached saturation point yet? I will NEVER reach saturation point when it comes to shopping. I think I need therapy.
“I will NEVER reach saturation point when it comes to shopping. I think I need therapy”
How do you switch off from the business? My husband would say I never do, but I sometimes switch off when I am at a pilates class or going on a long walk with Miss Polar Dog. What is success to you? When people come across the website and get excited by it – often they’ll tweet me. Plus when someone in the public eye wears a Lovely’s dress, I can be found skipping around my office with joy. Contact: www.lovelysvintageemporium.com
If you had £1 left, what would you spend it on? A bone for my rescue dog, Miss Polar! It was love at first sight when I walked into a Dogs Trust rescue centre and saw her... man Lynnette Peck Bate
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Focus on strategy THE BRANDING COLUMN
Thongs of Praise What personal brand are you rocking? Branding columnist Rich With explains why you don’t need to blend in to get ahead I recently went to a networking dinner where the conversation turned to personal branding and my own brand, whereby the independent financial adviser I was sitting next to sneered at my “scruffy” appearance. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating we all go to work in fancy dress, but isn’t it time to show a little personality? Even if you take notable bastions of conformity like the banking sector, it’s worth noting that the real characters, like Justin Urquhart Stewart (who’s never seen without his trademark red braces), won’t let the dour institutions dampen their flair. In my parents’ day, everyone who worked in an office wore a suit, but my parents’ generation are approaching or have embraced retirement. My generation and the generations after me don’t want to deal with dull clones. We want the firms we deal with to be enthusiastic, to have passion and be excited by the products or services that they sell. To build a powerful brand, business owners need a dirtygreat streak of individuality. Look at the entrepreneurs we all know. From Richard Branson to Hilary Devey, be it beards or industrialsized shoulder-pads, there’s always something we can identify with them and their brand. But don’t get carried away. At the same time we also have to be relatable – your clients still need to identify with you. If you don’t have common ground with your customers and influencers, they’re unlikely to bond with your brand.
To the IFA ,I looked a little scruffy: but that’s my personal brand. I have to be comfortable to let my mind come up with creative ideas. I never wear a suit unless there’s a marriage, death or court appearance, and ultimately I don’t feel I need to. My personal brand is laid-back, cheeky and in search of the endless summer – a shorthaired hippy who’s happiest with a couple of days of stubble and a comfortable pair of thongs (as my antipodean friend calls them) or flip-flops. My business tone of voice reflects my personal brand, but I’d even go so far as to say my “personal brand” is just an over-the-top alternative description of my personality. For every potential client that wouldn’t touch me with a bargepole, there’s two that love what I do. The IFA would never buy my branding services because he can’t identify with me.
“I never wear a suit unless there’s a marriage, death or court appearance”
Conversely, his chunky gold jewellery, perma-tan and coiffured hair channelling the spirit of David Dickinson mean I’m unlikely to engage his financial advice. (By the way, if you’re a financial adviser that drives a classic muscle car, hates sprouts and has completed Modern Warfare 3 then email me pronto). So if you’re a people person, look at your own personal brand. Be yourself – and maybe a little bit more so. Try to be passionate, engaging and influential. Remember the creativity and the inspiration, and most importantly the difference between you and your competitors. Be comfortable in your own brand and attract the clients you want. Contact: www.gohoot.co.uk
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Focus on strategy MULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING
Join the dots Strategy regular, Stefan Boyle, explains why joined up marketing reaps rewards. Go ahead, give multi-channel marketing a whirl
“This can be hugely enlightening, and provide gold dust information to use in your future marketing”
It’s fair to say there is a lot of choice when it comes to deciding on which marketing channel to use these days. Where on earth do we start? Online, offline, editorial, advertorial, press ads, newspaper ads, e-marketing, direct mail, social media, blogging, video marketing, article marketing, PR, public speaking, print…deep intake of breath. There’s not a simple answer of course, as you probably need to step back a few paces before considering what option is most effective for you. The starting point is thinking carefully about the niche or target market that has the biggest demand for your product or service. Many people make the mistake of thinking about discounts, special offers and similar incentives to try and attract new customers. I’m not saying this never works, but if you really think about the current client base you have, profile who is buying and why they buy from you, then almost every time trends become quickly apparent. And if they don’t, then there is one simple way of finding out why your customers use your service…ask them. Online services like Survey Monkey can be used easily, but if your business is face-toface, you can simply ask your customers directly. This can be
hugely enlightening, and provide gold dust information to use in your future marketing. Once you’ve established the who and the why, it’s far simpler to structure an offer that fulfills your best customers’ needs, as well as working out where to go to find more of the same. The “where” is the next step: choosing which marketing channel you should use. If you know the type of customers who love your business, it’s a much easier task to reach more of those prospects. Working out where those people go both on and offline is simpler when you know who they are. There is often more than one way to reach most markets, so it’s important to test different techniques to see which are most effective. The way to significantly improve your results is to use multi-channel marketing. This can be seen as being very complicated but, like all things, it is often made to look so by those who are charging you to set up a campaign. It can actually be surprisingly simple. As long as you have the correct information on your database or CRM system, a simple campaign can involve an email series, followed by a direct mail piece and then a tele-marketing follow up. Almost any business can get these ducks in a row.
According to Paul Cross, head of retail for thomsonlocal.com, integrating marketing channels such as email and direct mail can give companies ‘a much better chance of turning a lead into a sale.’ He said: ‘The most successful campaigns are those that use the full range of channels available to marketers.’ Wise words indeed. So create a simple plan, ensure you have joined up all the dots in the message and style of your communications, and test with a small section of your database. Refine the results and roll it out to ever-increasing numbers once you know what gives you a satisfactory return on investment. Contact: www.printrepublic.co.uk
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Business Growth Strategies
Focus on strategy NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARDS
THE NEXT GENERATION
As the National Business Awards announces ten finalists for the ICAEW Sustainability Award, NBA’s Alex Evans and ICAEW’s Michael Izza discuss the rewards of embedding sustainable practices into businesses
ocusing on the policies, processes and activities enabling corporate longevity, the ICAEW Sustainability Award was designed to highlight those organisations that are truly committed to long-term growth. Hoping to inspire by example, the National Business Awards and ICAEW invited thought and practice leaders in sustainability to share insights on the commercial impact of green growth strategies. ‘A truly sustainable business is one that will be around for a
long time,’ said Alex Evans. ‘By investing in its people, carefully managing costs and reducing supplier risk, an organisation can continue to adapt and grow.’ Early adopters of true sustainability are motivated by a range of factors, from futureproofing in anticipation of new green legislation to differentiation from competitors, according to Michael Izza. ‘Businesses listed on the LSE will now have to report their emissions, but what is the
“SMEs will play a key role as the economy shifts to a greener footing”
impetus for private businesses and SMEs?’ he added. Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Under Secretary of State at DEFRA, said SME-specific guidance on how to measure and report greenhouse emissions was already available. ‘Emissions are an issue of increasing interest, especially to the investment community, and this was one of the reasons why the Deputy Prime Minister and I announced at the Rio+20 summit that we would introduce mandatory reporting
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Focus on strategy NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARDS
of GHG emissions by quoted companies,’ said Lord Taylor. ‘Although only quoted companies will be required to do this next year, I would encourage SMEs to see the potential benefits and opportunities they could gain from actively managing their emissions and other environmental impacts from now.’ While more businesses of all sizes are voluntarily measuring, managing, and publicly disclosing their carbon emissions, this is only one aspect of sustainability, said Michael Izza. ‘To date, the business case for sustainability has sometimes been weakened because it is based on the marginal improvements in ecoefficiency,’ he explained. ‘Many companies are now realising that there are much bigger gains to be made from more radical repositioning. There is money to be made in positioning well. And there is plenty of money to be lost through getting it wrong.’
Testing new models
Putting its money where its mouth is, ICAEW co-developed an initiative with the WWF to test new sustainable business models through a network combining hundreds of social enterprises and FTSE-listed companies. Called the Finance Innovation Lab, it provides various forums throughout the year to increase their knowledge about achieving more with less, and how to work more collaboratively with suppliers, customers and partners. Michael Izza asked one of the Lab leaders if sustainability in the context of resilience and growth was truly embedded in the collective consciousness of business. ‘This perception of sustainability is relatively new,’ said Jen Morgan, founder and co-convener of the Finance Innovation Lab. ‘When the Lab launched two years ago, it had a very ideological approach. Now we need a complete reframing of business sustainability. It’s about businesses looking years ahead, considering various scenarios and working backwards.’ But have perceptions among the
business community changed, particularly at board level? ‘Pension funds investing in businesses are interested in their resilience and longevity; they want businesses with strong leadership and a long-term strategic vision with sustainability at the forefront,’ Jen Morgan explained. ‘People want authentic leadership that empowers others.’
value from Interface’s ecoefficiency, Michael Izza asked if businesses should reassess their understanding of sustainability. ‘There seems to be some stigma around the profit motive and sustainability which must be dispelled,’ Lindsey Parnell explained. ‘Companies have to make profit to survive and invest in sustainable strategies. The profit P is just as important as the planet P.’
Leading on sustainability
Recognition for excellence is one indicator that a business is succeeding, and someone with the credentials to back up his commitment is Lindsey Parnell, CEO of modular flooring specialist, Interface – winner of the ICAEW Sustainability Award in 2011. He said: ‘The optimal mix for achieving transformational change includes a powerful vision and passion from the top, with commitment and leadership from right across the organisation to help make this vision a reality – this is one of the reasons why we created our Sustainability Ambassadors Network, to nurture leadership potential.’ Lindsey Parnell explained that when Interface embarked on its Mission Zero to ‘put back more than it takes from the environment and from the community’, it was with clear aims around cost management. ‘Reduced energy usage and process innovations at our factories have allowed us to manufacture our products more efficiently and therefore save money,’ Lindsey explained. ‘In 2011 alone we saved $1.7m from avoided waste costs. ‘Mission Zero has proved to be a tremendous source of inspiration for our design teams, spurring them on to come up with lots of great innovations,’ Lindsay added. ‘It’s also been hugely beneficial from a talent point of view, allowing us to attract and retain some of the best people in the industry. It has also had a very positive effect on our corporate reputation, attracting new business.’ Having demonstrated broader
Stakeholder value “There seems to be some stigma around the profit motive and sustainability which must be dispelled”
Chemical giant, Johnson Matthey, won the NBA Coutts Large Cap Business of the Year in 2011, because it clearly demonstrated to the judges how it was going to sustain growth and continue creating value for stakeholders. CEO, Neil Carson, explained the motives behind its commitment to sustainability. ‘Our Sustainability 2017 vision is underpinned by six challenging targets relating to the financial, environmental and health and safety performance of our business, which we continuously monitor and report on both internally and externally,’ said Neil. ‘Four of our nine Group Key Performance Indicators directly relate to these Sustainability targets.’ But how accountable does he feel the Board, or he as leader, should be? ‘I believe that we must report to our employees and to the world on our performance against these targets, so that we are encouraged to go and do better or explain why we cannot,’ Neil Carson said. He added that, while accountability is important, sustainability targets should be continuously reviewed.
Small firms thinking big
Representing 99% of businesses in the UK, and providing half of all private sector employment, SMEs will play a key role as the economy shifts to a greener footing, said Lord Taylor. ‘DEFRA research estimates that UK SMEs alone could save £10bn a year by using raw materials, energy and water more efficiently,’ he explained.
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Focus on strategy NATIONAL BUSINESS AWARDS
‘SMEs can also contribute to long term green growth in many ways, from the development of low-carbon technologies to the creation of environmental goods and services, and improvements in the way in which natural resources are used.’ Talented people are looking beyond the pay cheque and prospect to what the company stands for and what it’s doing to ensure corporate longevity. ‘Fast-growing SMEs understand the need for valued people to buy into the company’s founding principles – not only embedding sustainability into growth plans, but engaging innovative employees in design and delivery,’ said Alex Evans, who recalled exemplary businesses recognised in the past. He explained, ‘Two firms shortlisted in 2010 showed how industry leadership around sustainability helped to engage staff by sharing best practice. ‘Recruitment consultancy Morgan Hunt set up an industry recruiter forum to share and benchmark best practice – which boosted its reputation as an ethical company. Commercial, the UK’s largest independently-
owned office services and supplies company, built its CR strategy around ten ‘Green Angel Commitments’ – not only achieving a 92% reduction in waste to landfill and a 70% reduction in carbon emissions, but over 95% staff engagement in the programme.’ ‘It’s not just about generating profit for a lot of companies, but defining values through new business models,’ said Jen Morgan. ‘They want to serve a wider purpose, generate greater employee engagement and attract talent.’ But it’s much easier for SMEs to achieve this than big businesses, said Michael Izza. ‘Sustainability has been part of business discourse for years now, but it’s still a major transformation for long-established corporates.’ ‘It’s much harder for big businesses to reframe overnight due to competitive pressure, but SMEs can be more agile,’ added Jen Morgan. ‘However, big businesses are increasingly collaborating with SMEs and social enterprises to test new innovations and business models.’ This view is endorsed by Gideon Hyde, founder of growth strategy consultancy Market Gravity, which
facilitates such partnerships and helps to incubate and accelerate Big Society projects for large and small businesses. ‘Innovation is a vital part of sustainable growth and big companies are exploring new ways to develop their internal entrepreneurs,’ he said.
“It’s about businesses looking years ahead, considering various scenarios and working backwards”
Talent development is a big component of sustainability, added Alex Evans. ‘Some of the big corporations entering the Awards are engaging staff through community or pro bono projects – where talented employees gain experience of more complex projects that enable the company to secure new clients. A win for everyone involved,’ he explained. Collaboration is transforming businesses, and the organisation of the future may look very different, concluded Jen Morgan. ‘The world is so complex that it requires people to work together in new ways, enriched by better ideas and informed decision-making.’ Contact: www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk
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Focus on strategy 2013 PLAN
Think it’s too early to start considering your 2013 business Every idea counts of the most valuable traits plan? Think again. Rachael Cotton, head of trade and One of a brainstorm facilitator is corporate sales for Alton Towers Resort, explains why now acknowledging each and every is the time to focus on the year ahead contribution made by your
The early bird…
“If you don’t know where you’re going, then how can you know how to get there?”
It may seem early to some, but now is the time for you to consider your business plans for 2013. Start looking ahead to what next year will bring and think carefully about what you want to achieve. If you don’t know where you’re going, then how can you know how to get there? On-going business planning means monitoring and
measuring, setting and achieving targets and managing business priorities to achieve success. These actions directly influence growth, so how can you take action now to get ahead?
Bring creative minds together
Brainstorming is a powerful motivational tool which encourages ideas sharing. Coming together as a team to discuss future plans for the business can bring tactical initiatives to light, ones that may have remained hidden within your talented workforce had you not created an opportunity for them to be shared. Find an environment that removes you from your day-today workplace, as this can help promote a relaxed discussion which, by extension, can enhance individuals’ willingness to think big and get creative. Productivity is thought to be higher when meetings are held in a stimulating, external environment.
The power of fun
Build in time throughout the day where you break away from your brainstorm and carry out a group activity that is completely un-related. These periods of downtime are when ideas discussed earlier develop and moments of inspiration emerge. It’s said that this is because when you’re engaged in activities, the brain will subconsciously transfer information and connect ideas and thoughts from unconnected objects to the problem or situation.
team. Appreciation helps people become confident in sharing their thoughts and ideas. Even if the idea they come up with may not be the most suitable or tangible, the contribution should be acknowledged as being valuable as it may well lead onto that killer idea which has the ability to transform your business.
The brain is a hungry organ with its cells requiring twice the amount of energy than any other cell in the body. To work well and efficiently throughout the day, energy levels must be kept high enough to avoid mental stress and exhaustion. Food should never be an afterthought; opt for something healthy as well as tasty, as this will keep your team alert, happy and engaged.
Set up to succeed
Map out a structure for your day and come with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and what you want to take away. Establish a timeframe for the experience and stick to it. Circulate an agenda in advance and task your team members to come armed with potential solutions to a challenge you’ve posed. Within 48 hours of your meeting, follow up on the actions planned and the ideas discussed to demonstrate that your team’s ideas were of value and that you now have a plan with which to move forward. Regardless of the style of your brainstorming session, where it takes place or how much time you invest in it, you will reap the rewards if you start to plan for 2013 now.
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Focus on strategy START-UP SHOW
From a watertight business plan to a shiny new brand, November’s Business Show can help you kickstart your company. With high profile speakers and practical seminars, take a glance at just some of this year’s highlights
tarting or growing a business is never a walk in the park, but with free resources on everything from a perfect business plan to clever marketing, all packed into events like The Business Show, has there ever been a better time to be in business? New businesses are popping up all over the place, and even those already trading are moving into bigger premises, investing more in their marketing campaigns, and exploring new markets. The age of the entrepreneur is well and truly upon us, and there has never been more relevant information so easily accessible to today’s entrepreneurs. The Business Show has long equipped start-ups and SMEs with everything needed to start and grow a business – from access to the latest profit-enhancing products,
to innovative ideas for revolutionising your sales – all completely free, and all under one roof. The next event is fast approaching, taking place at Olympia London, on 22 and 23 November, so if you’re looking to start, grow, or improve your business, make sure you’re part of November’s event.
What’s on at November’s Business Show?
The Business Show organisers are an innovative bunch, relentlessly thinking up new ways to help your idea get off the ground and ensure your business reaches its potential – be it a workshop on a gamechanging piece of cash flow software, or some top advice on reenergizing your marketing strategy – it’s all in November’s Business Show. You’ll find opportunities to network, innovative exhibitors, educational workshops, an
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Focus on strategy START-UP SHOW
all-new speaker line-up and lots more at the UK’s biggest business show, all for free. So if you have aspirations of becoming the next James Caan, see his seminar in the Keynote Hall; if you have designs on boosting your online presence, go to an Internet marketing workshop delivered by the experts; if you want to find out about the latest technologies and business tools available, talk to a specialist exhibitor. The Business Show really does offer everything you could possibly need to start or grow your business. Over the last 12 years, the event has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, and in that time it has welcomed more people through its doors than any other business show in the UK. Today the event is more ambitious than ever, determined to help drive your business, whatever your industry or idea.
Book your place
If you’re starting or growing a business, The Business Show is the must-attend event. Most aspects of the show require you to book in advance (except seminars – you can just turn up for those), but everything tends to book up extremely quickly, so best to act fast to avoid disappointment. You can book online at: www.bstartup.com
“Over the last 12 years, the event has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity”
“You’ll find opportunities to network, innovative exhibitors, educational workshops, an all-new speaker line-up and lots more”
The details: What? The Business Show Where? Olympia, London When? 22-23 November How much? Free Contact: www.bstartup.com (starting a business) www.greatbritishbusinessshow.co.uk (growing a business)
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Focus on marketing
Toxic clients Are toxic clients destroying your business? Marketing columnist in residence Kimberly Davis looks at why it’s sometimes better to walk away from a deal
“You must not take their negativity on board. When you do, they win and you lose”
ne of the biggest things holding small businesses back is “toxic clients”. If you’ve been running your business for any amount of time, chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about and the wrinkles in your forehead are deepening right now as you read this. Toxic clients are the people who expect everything for free. They usually have no money, or refuse to pay. They are always negotiating you down on price. They practically make you beg for their business and once they do finally commit to the work, all they do is complain. They don’t appreciate anything you do, or your skills. They pick at every little detail and want you to cater to their every whim. You spend endless hours working on items that should only take minutes. The list goes on. Toxic clients are like Dementors from Harry Potter, sucking the life, joy and money out of you and your business. If you’re not careful, they can destroy your business, make you ill, or even worse, make you want to give up on your dreams. Don’t let them win. Here’s three steps to get rid of “toxic” clients:
1) GET DUCK FEATHERS
There will always be people in
this world who live to complain. They are only happy when everyone around them is miserable. This comes from unhappy childhoods, lack of self worth and a whole bunch of things that keep psychologists in business. I’ve had all sorts of negativity in my life, from being bullied so badly in school they had to put a chaperone on the school bus to being called ‘obese’ in front of 10 million people when I appeared on The Apprentice. And you know what, I didn’t cry a single tear or lose a wink of sleep. Not because I’m a strong lady, but because I realise that people will always have issues and they have nothing to do with me or you. What you need are duck feathers. When water falls on a duck, it slides right off their back and the duck remains perfectly dry. BE THE DUCK! You need to remain unaffected. You must not take their negativity on board. When you do, they win and you lose. I know it may seem hard at first. No one likes criticism. No one wants people to be unhappy with their products or services. But you have to realise that every business will attract negative nellies and wackadoos.
2) DON’T NEGOTIATE
You have value. I don’t care what you do, who you do it for, or what the current state of the recession
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Focus on marketing KIMBERLY DAVIS
is. If you are helping someone solve a problem and improve their life, then you have value. So why do so many people give their services away or let themselves be talked down on price? It’s crazy! The moment you start negotiating is the moment you start telling people you aren’t worth what you say you’re worth. You become a liar. So why should anyone respect you? Why would they not try to take advantage every chance they get? When you open the door, you are inviting toxic clients in and you only have yourself to blame when they come in and walk all over you. If you’re a good business person, you’ve done your numbers and you know how
much time, money, and energy goes into your product or service. Make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve and what you need to keep your business going.
3) WALK AWAY
Here’s where the New Yorker in me gives you the hard truth. YOU let toxic clients in and only you can detox your life of them. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be one or two that push through the door, but if you know what to look for and what to do, you can surround yourself with high-quality, paying clients who value your skills and pay what you’re worth. Too often, we are so horrified at the thought that anyone is upset with us, we let them hold
us prisoner. We are scared they will bad-mouth us, or not pay, or something horrible will happen. We just want to make everyone happy. It’s impossible. If someone doesn’t want to pay you for your time or pay the prices you quote, or work in the way that you know is best, let them walk away. I don’t care how desperate you are for business. DO NOT LET TOXIC CLIENTS IN.
“Toxic clients are like Dementors from Harry Potter, sucking the life, joy and money out of you”
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Focus on marketing NATIONAL SALES AWARDS
THE BIG SELL As the UK’s best sellers are revealed as finalists for the upcoming National Sales Awards, we get some top tips from the best in the business
he leading sales professionals in the UK have recently been revealed by the National Sales Awards in partnership with Huthwaite International, as the finalists for the 2012 programme were announced. The shortlist includes some of Britain’s most high profile businesses including BSkyB, Virgin Media, LivingSocial and Royal Mail, who are finalists across 17 categories including Sales Team of the Year, the Customer Collaboration Award and Newcomer of the Year. Finalists were chosen from the hundreds of businesses and individuals that entered, to win the sought after titles. Entrants then deliver presentations to a panel of expert judges who will determine category winners that will be revealed
at the awards ceremony on 6 November in London. ‘This year we have seen a much wider representation of British businesses entering the awards, showing that companies are recognising the importance of – and celebrating – their sales functions. It’s great to see a diverse mix of companies entering and the entries becoming more innovative, as the industry becomes more sophisticated,’ said Steve Lane, National Sales Awards business director. Tony Hughes, CEO of the sales training experts Huthwaite International, added: ‘These sales professionals are representing the very best in the industry, setting industry standards and leading the way to creating a more solid economy.’
“People buy people first. You are the company you are representing”
Now in its 16th year, the National Sales Awards recognises the outstanding collective contribution of the UK’s sales teams and individuals to the economic recovery with a focus on ethical, smart and professional selling. ‘The Sales Awards recognises that being a successful salesperson requires flexibility and continued development. In 2012, salespeople have to utilise cutting-edge technology, respond to increasingly detailed market research, and absorb ever-more sophisticated training. Salespeople need to be constantly evolving to keep up with the industry landscape,’ said Russell Ward, CEO of sales consultancy, Silent Edge. The National Sales Awards has distinguished itself by its robust judging process, with
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Focus on marketing NATIONAL SALES AWARDS
around 50 directors and sales professionals participating as judges. This year the judging panel includes Lee McQueen, founder of Raw Talent Academy, Maria Armstrong-Gimblett, director of London sales at Marriott Hotels International, and Kim Leitch, business development director at the Institute of Customer Service. This year’s awards will see the Field Sales Executive Award judged live at the National Sales Awards event. The six finalists in this category will be given two minutes to prove their superior selling skills, by delivering their most impressive sales pitch to the audience and the judging panel, who will then vote for their favourites to decide the ultimate winner on the night. Apprentice winner Lee McQueen, a judge for the Field Sales Executive Award, said: ‘It’s great to see such a high calibre of sales people entering these awards and getting behind the industry. I’m looking forward to the live judging at the event in November.’ Earlier this year, the National Sales Awards asked the sales industry for their top selling tips in the length of a Tweet, using the results to compile a top tips guides:
1. Always learn about your customers’ hobbies. That way one can always start a conversation with some friendly banter and build a dialogue.
achieve theirs. Don’t be afraid to walk away if a win-win situation can’t be reached.
6. Listen – 2 ears, 1 mouth; use that ratio. Trust – get it, keep it; deliver promises. Respect – everyone. 7. Sales is all about 80% listening to the customer’s needs and wants and 20% talking. 8. The best salesmen never
sound like they are selling. They sound like they’ve listened to your problem and might have a solution.
9. Be tenacious! The next sale is the only one a person ever has to make. 10. Remember to smile while you
dial. People buy people first. You are the company you are representing.
sales director for contact centre services in Serco’s new UK & Europe Business Process Outsourcing business, judged the sales tip. He selected his favourites to help compile the guide. Dallaglio said: ‘It’s fantastic to see so many people get behind something that’s driving awareness and interest in the industry. The guide offers real insight into how sales people can perform better, and it’s interesting to see a lot of people emphasising the importance of listening and building relationships – something I consider key to doing well in sales.’ Contact: www.nationalsalesawards.com
Lawrence Dallaglio, former England rugby captain and
“Sales people need to be constantly evolving to keep up with the industry landscape”
2. Utilise the public domain and gain insight and understanding of your key stakeholders in more depth, around business & personal life. 3. It’s important to be enthusiastic, listen, understand the customer’s needs and wants and to build a relationship with that customer. 4. Under promise, over deliver. Ensure you keep your customers happy by exceeding their expectations. 5. Be passionate, know your goals and help your client
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Prepare Your Company & Payroll for RTI Do not underestimate the changes that HMRC’s introduction of RTI - Real Time Information will have on your HR & Payroll procedures and processing. Protect your interests through using our range of HR & Payroll Services.
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We can readily transition from your existing Sage or Pegasus payrolls to ensure that you are ready for RTI immediately after the Tax Year End in April 2013 . To learn more about RTI and the benefits of switching to using Roskear Payroll Services contact us today on :
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Offices in London & the Midlands ad v1.indd 1
A member of t he TopSource Group of Companies
TAX PLANNING AND AVOIDANCE IN DIFFICULT TIMES
ax avoidance has received a lot of bad press recently. Artificial schemes where income is received and tax avoided is clearly wrong and immoral. Organising your affairs legitimately to utilise reliefs and minimise the impact of taxation is however your legal right. With income tax being a significant expense, we obviously try to minimise the impact of the new higher rate taxes, not only the new 50% tax for income over £150,000 but also the 60% tax band on income between £100,000 and £114,000. This 60% band is the effective rate of tax being paid as a consequence of losing personal allowances.
Simple It can be as simple as a company director reducing his remuneration or dividends to avoid these higher rates. Pension planning has proved to be an important part of this process, many clients choosing to use Self Administered or Self Invested Schemes (SSAS or SSIP). An employee or owner manager will take a pension instead of remuneration. There are a few important planning points:
1. The current annual maximum that can be paid into a normal scheme is £50,000.
2. For the current tax year and up to 05 April 2013, subject to conditions, this can be increased to £200,000.
advertorial v1.indd 26
3. One not so well known point is
that your SSAS or SSIP arrangement could be a defined benefit scheme and under the defined benefit rules it may be possible to pay a significantly higher contribution into your pension scheme.
4. With property values being as low as they are, many directors are transferring their commercial property into their pension schemes, the advantage of this being the rental income that they were previously receiving subject to higher rate tax, is now received by the pension scheme in a tax free environment. This also releases capital and can assist in reducing the need to draw income.
allowances to consider this point as soon as possible. Of course no action should be taken based on this article alone, we would be happy to arrange a free of charge initial consultation with you to discuss any action you wish to take on the above matters. For further details please visit our website www.gary-sargeant.co.uk or contact us on 01322 614681
Capital Allowances Ensuring Capital Allowances are maximised is now more important than ever. It has always been possible to claim capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery associated with the purchase of freehold commercial property, but because of the relatively low amounts involved, these have not always been claimed. We should remind ourselves that with the current tax rates it is important to revisit any previous acquisition to see whether there is the availability of claiming capital allowances. The ability to backdate claims may be withdrawn. It is therefore important for anybody who has purchased a commercial property in recent years who hasn’t claimed all of their capital
Focus on marketing PITCHING TO JOURNALISTS
Alex Garvey of London PR explains how to get reporter-ready with your pitch, securing those vital column inches that every SME needs to stay ahead of the game
HOW TO TALK
to a journalist A
ll business owners think their company is the best in the world – and so they should. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in business in the first place. However, very few are keen to tell the wider world, through a variety of journalists, just how great their business is and why. Some people don’t pitch because they fear immediate rejection. Many business owners simply don’t want to be told their firm isn’t noteworthy by journalists – and of course that makes sense. But wouldn’t it be better to at least give it a go and know for sure? This might sound negative, but at London PR we’ve worked
“The fewer snags there are in the process, the more likely the story is to sail onto one of their pages”
with hundreds of businesses – many of whom have sent over their failed efforts to tempt journalists. The frustrating thing is, it’s the same common mistakes which are being made time after time, regardless of whether the firm is selling wellies or windscreen wipers. Here, I list my top tips on how to maximise your chances of snaring a journalist’s interest and gaining a juicy feature for your company, regardless of how interesting the business seems on the surface.
Know your strengths
It might sound sad to say, but most businesses aren’t as interesting as their owners think they are – in the same way that
most people don’t find stories about other people’s children as interesting as telling ones about their own. However, what can also be said emphatically, is that there is always a way of finding something interesting about a business; it just might take some work. If you’re the first to do something new in an industry, that may be of interest. If not, are you and your company’s story to date interesting enough? After all, we love nothing more than to read about other people, so why not put yourself in the story and see if that works?
Do your research
There are now more media outlets than ever before, and
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Focus on marketing PITCHING TO JOURNALISTS
each has its own agenda, style and hot topics – so have a think about your strengths as a company and try and align yourself with the publication which best fits this message. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to drill deeper, searching for journalists at that publication who write about the category in which you best fit. Most businesses won’t have access to the types of detailed media databases used by PR firms like ourselves, but there’s no harm in perusing websites or even calling up and asking, ‘Who would be the best person to send stories to?’
Send them a nice package
No not literally, we aren’t at the bribery stage just yet – what we mean is send in, via email, a neatly constructed package, which includes the story and supporting images in the main body of the email. This way the journalist can see how the story could work without having to struggle through sizeable attachments which are often blocked by extra sensitive firewalls. Give them everything in one go and if that isn’t enough, start again. Journalists are busy, busy people and the easier you can make their job for them, the greater the chance you have of getting featured.
Timing is key
Journalists usually have pretty routine deadlines and approaching them when they’re on one (usually late afternoon) means you will get none of their attention, and ultimately none of their time. Instead, approach them first thing in the morning so that they can run the story suggestion (if they like it) past the rest of their team during morning conference. If it gets the green light at this stage, then they may well come back for more info or images, so be prepared to provide both immediately. As previously
mentioned, the fewer snags there are in the process, the more likely the story is to sail onto one of their pages.
Sometimes the media gods will send you a gift so glaringly beautiful it would be a crime not to take advantage of it, so keep your eyes on the news agenda on a daily basis and look out for relevant stories you could tie into. If you find one, quickly explain why it is relevant to you and why your view should be considered. For example, if you manufacture luxury chocolate and the price of cocoa beans goes through the roof overnight, you may well become a very interesting case study for the press. Stay sharp, and if the opportunity arises move quickly to reach journalists while the story still has some mileage in it.
“Sometimes the media gods will send you a gift so glaringly beautiful it would be a crime not to take advantage of it”
Know the journalist’s style I appreciate this is difficult for first time pitchers and does come with practice, but when a journalist picks up the phone you need to assess by their tone whether or not you have any time to play with. Invariably the answer is no. Some journalists, those you may have spoken to before,
Never be over familiar
You know how people say it’s always better to be too smart than too casual? Well the same goes for pitching to the press. If you don’t know someone, do not, under any circumstances, call them “mate”. Similarly, asking how somebody is doing might sound friendly enough, but again you’re wasting time on what may have been their 100th call that day. A simple, ‘Hello [name], can I quickly run this story by you?’ will suffice as an opener.
Know when to press the eject button
We all know that it’s rude to interrupt, so when making first contact with a journalist – who may be 1,000 words deep in a gritty exposé and is keen to avoid all distractions – send your pitch in by email first. That way they can look at it in their own time and, if of interest, come back to you when they have more time on their hands. I know hardly any journalists who prefer initial contact to be made over the phone; however, I would always opt for this method when time is of the essence and you can’t afford to wait for a journalist to sift through a thousand emails before coming back to you.
may well want to discuss the weather or the latest football results. But for any first time pitch, get straight to the point and tell them why your story is of interest to them and how it relates to the topics they are paid to cover.
“If things aren’t going to plan then it’s time to politely push the ejector button”
As with all things in life, sometimes what we expect to happen is not what does happen. For whatever reason, you may get caught in a situation where the journalist clearly isn’t interested in your story and is about to get annoyed with you. If things aren’t going to plan then it’s time to politely push the ejector button: ‘OK, well thank you anyway, goodbye.’ You might have the perfect story for them in future, and there is absolutely no valid reason to anger a journalist just because they don’t like what you have to say in the first instance.
Mirroring – reflecting the other person’s tone and manner – can help smooth things along. If they talk in really short, to the point sentences, then so do you. They tell you about their child’s sports day, you talk about something similar, at the same pace. This can often help endear you to the journalist, which can be of great benefit when pitching in story.
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Focus on marketing PITCHING TO JOURNALISTS
Ask for feedback
If you’re speaking with a journalist and they say they can’t see the story working for them currently, it’s fair to ask, ‘Is there any way we could make this work for you?’ Sometimes it might not take a lot to turn a dud into a goer, and it’s in the journalist’s interest to find a story which works, so see if you can find common ground. Breaking a milestone as a business is a common reason to cover a story, so it’s worth knowing when it might be worth returning to re-pitch.
Bend over backwards
You want coverage and the journalist wants a story; however, you are at a much greater disadvantage in this mutually beneficial relationship, because journalists are bombarded with story suggestions every day. Therefore, if a journalist requests something from you, you need to pull out all the stops to make it happen. If it can’t be done for a week, be open with them and tell them that. It might still be fine. Just remember, for you to get great coverage there’s a fair chance it’ll take a bit of work your end. Still, it’s much better than paying for an expensive advert.
Manners cost nothing
If you do all of the above and manage to secure some coverage then well done: it isn’t an easy thing to do, especially with no prior experience. Be sure to thank the journalist for working on the piece with you – manners go a long way, and it isn’t going to harm your chances of another feature in future either. Good luck! Contact: www.londonpr.co.uk
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Focus on marketing COPY WRITING
Phil Turtle, MD of turtleconsulting.com, explains the science of writing a website and brochure that will tantalise, not turn off, your prospects
ow often have you read a potential supplier’s sales brochure or website and thought: ‘Oh, that was interesting…not’. Or it’s made you yawn because it’s so dry and boring – all about their factory and not about your problems – and then consigned it to the large round file, otherwise known as the wastepaper bin on the floor? Is this a familiar scenario? Yes, because most copywriters compose their brochures from their company’s point of view not from their prospects’ perspective.
The A4 sales person
Reflect for a moment on the purpose of a sales brochure or website. It is there to perform a selling function. And in most cases it must do this when there is no sales person accompanying it. We can assume that if your target or prospect has taken the trouble to leaf through your brochure or browse your website, you have – for a brief few minutes or seconds – grabbed their attention. And if
the brochure is merely scanned and then dropped into the bin or a filing tray, or the website is clicked off, you have just lost a sales opportunity. Now, let’s look at taking a structured approach. If you have ever had the benefit of formal sales training, you will already know the magic formula. This same prescription can be applied just as effectively to copywriting:
1. Identify with your prospect 2. Answer their questions 3. Knock down any objections 4. Close the sale So, let’s take a look at how we apply the four basic steps of selling to write compelling sales copy:
Identify with your prospect
First of all, realise that your reader thinks of themself as an individual, not as part of the frequently, and in my opinion, insultingly referenced animal
“As my grandmother taught me, if you don’t ask, you don’t get”
“the customer”. So don’t refer to “the customer” in your writing – talk to them in the first person singular. And talk. Use the same emotional language you would person to person. Don’t start with a history of your company. Paint a picture that makes your reader think: ‘Hey, this is about me – they’re talking my language, they understand my problems’. By doing so you immediately engender the opinion that you understand their needs, problems etc.
Answer their questions
If you’ve done your homework before starting to write, you will have developed a sketch of your target person. So you can readily work out what your readers’ problems are (that your service or product can solve) and exactly what they need to know about how your product or service solves them.
Knock down objections This part is not easy, but be honest with yourself. What
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Focus on marketing COPY WRITING
Quick tips: • Use sub-headings: then your reader can dip straight into the areas that particularly interest them • Use short sentences: don’t be afraid, occasionally, to treat a phrase as though it were a sentence. It makes more impact • Never make your reader have to read a sentence twice: replace difficult words with easy words • Avoid acronyms: if you must use them, write out in full at their first appearance with the initials immediately after in brackets • Remember: you and your company are not the targets of your brochure – it is for your prospective customer – so only let the directors comment on technical and commercial accuracy, but not on style and grammar factors will put your prospective purchaser off? Bite the bullet and tell them why these are not reasons not to buy. Turn these negatives into positives. If you need help, talk to one of your sales people – they combat the same set of objections in virtually every sales negotiation they conduct. Find out how they combat them and write your copy the same way.
Close the sale
This is usually the part of selling that people dislike the most. It seems that most people just don’t like to ask for the order. But, as my grandmother taught me, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So, having just persuaded your prospect that your service or left-handed widget really is the best thing since sliced bread, we can either let them file the brochure and do nothing or leave your website. Or we can attempt to make them take some form of action. So finish your brochure with a call to action. On your website, try to get the reader to fill in a very simple contact form. Emphasis on the “very”. Tell your reader that your brochure/website has only been able to tell them a small part of the story. Persuade them to email a response to you asking for more information. Then you’ve got a warm lead to pass to your sales force. Better still, suggest that they phone and speak to a technical
“Use the same emotional language you would person to person” advisor (don’t say salesperson). If they do this, you’ve got a hot lead. And don’t forget to put the contact details right there in the copy, to make life easier for your prospect. Congratulations! You have now created the main ingredient of an “A4, full colour, glossy sales person” instead of another boring brochure or worthless website. Contact: www.turtleconsulting.com
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Focus on marketing MOBILE MARKETING
Businesses of all sizes and industries should embrace mobile marketing, says Mark Fraser, founder and CEO of zappit. He explains how the rise of the smartphone provides opportunities to engage with customers
IT’S A MOBILE
y the end of 2011 there were more than 32 million smartphones in the UK, according to mobile research company, mobileSQUARED. That figure is expected to double by 2015. Further research showed that more than 17 million people in the UK will go online using their mobile in 2012, rising to around 20 million by 2015. So mobiles are a part of our lives in ways that were previously unimaginable. They are always on, always with us and being used for a variety of tasks, from banking and booking holidays to making payments for goods. This affords a real opportunity for businesses of all sizes to engage with customers and prospects like never before, and I would suggest that mobile should be the primary marketing channel for the majority of businesses. Think how much you use your phone. For many people it is the first thing they reach for on waking each morning. They may have a final browse before they go to sleep at night, and they have it about their person for the entire day. Using mobile as a marketing channel gives you every opportunity to reach your target audience, and there are a variety of tactics and technologies you can use to go about it.
“With NFC, users can access rich content and interact with a brand seamlessly”
Reaching your audience
Getting to grips with those tactics and understanding their full potential can feel daunting. Almost everyone is familiar with SMS of course, but marketing via text message is limited in scope and is frequently perceived as spam, even if people have registered to receive SMS. Social media – more than half of the UK population access Facebook via their mobile – is a powerful marketing tool, but can be time-consuming, as it requires
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Focus on marketing MOBILE MARKETING
someone to be engaging with followers and creating and sharing content on an on-going basis. This leaves Quick Response (QR) and Near Field Communication (NFC) as mobile marketing technologies to be deployed. Neither are new, and both have been touted as the next big thing in mobile for a while now, but 2012 is set to be the year that businesses will really begin to see them make an impact. Smartphone manufacturers are including the technology in their devices, consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits associated with QR and NFC, and related services such as mobile wallets are further driving demand for NFC-enabled phones. QR codes are scanned and read by a smartphone before directing the user to undertake an activity, such as going to a website, opening a map or sending a text. They are now being used in billboard and magazine advertisements, with on-screen media and on in-store displays and table-top talkers (an object that sits on a table in a restaurant or café). The potential is enormous, as they offer a quick and simple way for a business to interact with its customer. While some businesses might not be able to afford a billboard or national media QR campaign, it is straightforward and costeffective to have something on a smaller scale in an office, shop or restaurant.
The future of mobile marketing
But if QR is the door opener, it is NFC that adds real substance to the business/ consumer engagement, generating richer data for the business and providing a better user experience for the customer. NFC is a wireless technology that allows a mobile to communicate with either another device or a target of some type over short distances. This target can be a point-of-
sale (POS) system in a shop, or indeed anything with an NFC chip embedded, such as a tag, sticker, poster or card. It is a huge advance on QR codes, which require a consumer to download an app and then open that app each time they scan a code. With NFC, users can access rich content and interact with a brand seamlessly – all they have to do is tap the smart phone on the NFC tag at the POS or elsewhere. For companies and brands wishing to market their products or services, this means that they can connect and engage with customers better, and it also provides an opportunity to capture consumer behaviour and preferences in real-time, in the real world. The integration of marketing with POS, allowing interested parties to make an immediate purchase, makes NFC potentially the most powerful marketing tool available to a business. Earlier this year, zappit was involved in the world’s first large-scale deployment of NFC-enabled advertising media, supplying the technology for the JCDecaux ‘Test the Near Future’ NFC trial in Reading. During the four-week trial, 3,000 people interacted with ads on one of the 306 six-sheet posters on Reading’s streets or in the Oracle shopping mall – the equivalent of one million people if the project had been run nationally.
Seventy eight per cent of people who connected to a poster using NFC said they were positive about the experience, citing the ease of use of NFC as the reason for the trial’s success. It is this ease of use for the consumer that makes NFC such a potent marketing tool for businesses of all sizes and industries. They can capitalise on NFC by offering compelling content to their customers and prospects. The bigger the reward they receive, the greater their engagement and the higher the likelihood of remaining a loyal customer. By 2013, NFC will be the dominant mobile marketing technology, delivering instant value to consumers, such as coupons, loyalty and products and providing brands with richer data, anytime anywhere mobile payments, and the ability to make more relevant and personalised offers. Given the popularity and ubiquity of smartphones, using NFC to target consumers with offers via their phone is surely a no-brainer? Contact: www.zappit.co
“The potential is enormous, as they offer a quick and simple way for a business to interact with its customer”
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Focus on people
First impressions count Recruitment specialist Lee McQueen reveals what he looks for in potential candidates, and explains why you never get a second chance to make a first impression
we’re looking for, I want someone to be taking it in and writing it down. You can only sell off the back of knowledge.
There’s a saying that has really stuck with me: apparently, somebody will form an opinion of you within the first 7-10 seconds of meeting you. And that opinion is really tough to shake. There’s a reason they say first impressions count. So what do I look for?
If I’m looking for a face-to-face sales role, I want them to look smart and professional. I’m looking for presentation. There’s nothing worse than someone coming in dressed in a suit and a tie who still manages to look scruffy. First and foremost, I’m looking for people that have made the effort, who are looking the part.
I look for enthusiasm. The first question I ask is, what are they passionate about? Because if you are passionate and can get that passion across, that’s what engages people and enthuses them. I would always look for that. If a candidate mumbles
Being prepared to interact is key. Some candidates think of an interview as a one-way conversation – but it’s two-way, especially in sales. If you can’t talk to the interviewer, how can you do a sales role where you’re having two-way conversations every day?
and sounds bored, that’s never going to sell me anything; I want to see passion coming across. So they need to look the part, be professional and be passionate.
They have to have knowledge. I might come across as rough around the edges, but I always have the knowledge I need underneath it. If you’re going to persuade a customer to spend £10,000, you’ve got to know about their business. It’s the same when candidates come in for interview – they need to know about my business.
It sounds ridiculous, but my biggest turn-off is someone that comes in without a pen and paper – because it’s a listening game in sales. It’s all about using the two ears God gave you. I say come in and write notes, there’s nothing wrong with that: it means they’re taking an interest. If I’m saying this is what the company does, this is what the role is, this is what
“They need to look the part, be professional and be passionate”
I do interviews personally and I do them for other people. Our process is quite robust; we do a series of tests to see if they’re consistent, to see if they can work as a team and individually, to see if they can sell. It’s like a mini The Apprentice. The hardest part of working with raw talent is knowing how to set the bench mark. A good indicator is if they play competitive sport, because it uses a lot of the same attributes: competition, teamwork, leadership and dedication. If someone was captain of their rugby team at school for example, all the skills are completely transferrable, so it flags up that they may well have what it takes to do the job. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.co.uk
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Focus on people HR GOOD PRACTICE
When building a business, HR seems to get bottom billing in the list of priorities. Lianne Lambert, founder of Lighter Business Solutions, explains how building a solid HR foundation that will stand the test of time is crucial
uring the early years of any business, the pressures are immense. There are so many things to take care of. The key driver is always about increasing revenues and working to ensure the business has a future, and then there are all of the compliance issues that need to be addressed. Everyone knows the importance of effective HR management, but this is something that very often gets pushed down the priority list and becomes “nice to do” rather than “must do”. However, delaying putting a solid HR foundation in place can be a big mistake. Not only do you significantly increase the risk of finding yourself facing expensive and stressful employment tribunal claims, but you may also be losing out on getting the most out of your employees.
Here are some numbers that might help you to justify either to yourself or to others, the importance of addressing HR: • The maximum award for an unfair dismissal claim is now £72,300, and the basic award is £12,900 • There is no maximum award for discrimination claims, but as a guide, a one-off incident of discrimination can attract an award of £5,000, while a sustained campaign can see this increase to £25,000 and it could be much, much more.
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Focus on people HR GOOD PRACTICE
• If you fail to provide your employees with the required written particulars of employment, then they can be awarded four weeks’ salary. On top of these actual awards, you need to consider the time and attention fighting claims can take up, as well as the legal fees. Many individuals see the HR function as something that is biased towards the employee. There is a degree of truth in this. Employment legislation has evolved over the years to protect employees from unfair working practices and unscrupulous employers. However, employers are also protected from unscrupulous employees, but they need to be more proactive in order to benefit. Contracts of employment, as an example, can be structured in such a way as to ensure that businesses are protected both during the employment of an individual and afterwards. Clauses relating to non-competitive practices and confidentiality are a vital part of ensuring that your business protects its hard work. Without these clauses in place, you are exposed to an ex-employee stealing your customers, ideas and even your products. Another key benefit of spending some time and money on HR practices is the increased efficiency you can achieve. Having defined policies and processes can make managing people far less time-consuming and stressful. Employees who are clear as to how they are expected to behave and perform, and who understand the administrative policies that they need to follow, can spend more time focusing on the job they were employed to do.
What are the key elements?
There are six areas that businesses should look to address when building their HR function. They are:
• Employment contracts • Employment policies • People management processes • Role definitions • Performance appraisals • Employee communication There are going to be elements of the above that you can address internally, but there are some key elements where it would make sense to get expert support. Budgets are always going to be a consideration, but there are areas where the risk to your business of getting it wrong really should justify hiring external help.
This is particularly true in the area of employment contracts and employment policies. There are templates available on the Internet, either free or sold for a very low price. Many of these would be better than having nothing in place at all, but they will not have been tailored to address the needs of your business. You also know very little about where they come from and how legally sound they really are. When it comes to this area, you would be better to use either an employment lawyer or an HR professional to put in place everything that you need to
“Having strong policies and processes in place really only offers your business any benefit if your employees actually know about them”
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Focus on people HR GOOD PRACTICE
“Delaying putting a solid HR foundation in place can be a big mistake”
“It can be uncomfortable, but the earlier an issue is raised, the better it is for everyone”
meet your legal obligations and protect your business. When it comes to people management processes, this is something that you may well be able to address internally. There will already be a number of processes happening in your business, even if it’s just by luck. As a starting point, it’s worth documenting the steps you go through to deal with basic day-to-day HR administration. For example, how do you induct new employees? How do you manage absence? How do employees book holiday? What steps do you go through when someone is underperforming? Getting these things documented and shared helps employees to feel confident that they know what to do when a particular situation arises. From here you can look at how things could be improved. You could get ideas through your own network, or again, consult someone externally to give you some support on improving efficiency. Role definitions or job descriptions are something that many organisations shy away from. There are many reasons for this. Some businesses want to ensure that everyone is flexible and that no one can go down the line of “It’s not in my job description”. Others feel that the process is too timeconsuming and complicated. Others just don’t really see it as being particularly important. Managing performance is a fairly challenging area, and becomes even harder if an employee has never been made completely aware of what is expected of them. Role definitions do not have to be complicated and lengthy. A simple template detailing the following key areas will be sufficient: • Job title • Reporting line • Line management responsibility • Overall job purpose • Key day-to-day activities You can take this to the next level and look at experience
requirements, objectives and targets, and the personal characteristics that you want employees to display, but the basics will help you both during the recruitment process and when it comes to assessing performance. Performance appraisal is another area that employers often shy away from. There is a perception that these systems need to be complicated and involve 360-degree feedback and all sorts of other “latest HR thinking”. There are clearly benefits to be gained from many of the different models that businesses use for performance appraisal, but something is always going to be better than nothing. Initially it’s always useful to keep it simple. Consider a basic form looking at what an employee has done well and what they need to improve on. Look to capture any training requirements. The most important element is to have a conversation with each employee, at least every six months, and ideally on a quarterly basis, where they receive feedback on their performance. Giving feedback isn’t something that always comes naturally to business owners, and it can be uncomfortable, but the earlier an issue is raised, the better it is for everyone. Raising issues and making sure they are documented can really help you if you get to a point where you need to start disciplinary action. Ignoring the problem and then reaching a point where your frustration gets the better of you, and you decide you want the employee gone now, can only help you find yourself in an employment tribunal. The final element of your solid HR foundation is a structured approach to employee communication. Having strong policies and processes in place really only offers your business any benefit if your employees actually know about them. Employee communication is
such a vital part of business success that it warrants an article of its own. Employees who feel that they understand where the business is going and the part they play in its success can make a fundamental difference to business performance. As a business owner, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of believing that everyone instinctively knows what the business is trying to achieve, as it’s something that you live, sleep and breath. It’s second nature to you and so obvious that you can’t believe your employees are in any doubt as to where the company is going – and how they will help it get there. It’s better not to assume this. Speak with them at every opportunity. Schedule regular meetings where you talk about both the successes and challenges facing the business, and about any changes that are coming along that may have an impact on them. Putting these six elements in place really doesn’t need to cost you huge amounts of time or money. If you can afford expert help then that’s great, and when it comes to the legal elements it would definitely be a worthwhile investment. However, you know your business and may have plenty of people in your team that can help you to address some of these areas. Use your resources to help you build a solid HR foundation that supports your business as it grows. Contact: www.lighter-businesssolutions.co.uk
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Focus on people RECRUITMENT
Like/unlike Lisa Holmes, director of technology, projects and change division at Assured Recruitment, looks at the latest trend: using social media as a recruitment tool
“Each social media site functions in a unique way and it’s important to understand how they operate”
Everybody seems to be jumping into social media, but should you follow suit or be cautious? According to research conducted by Google, 71% of senior managers believe social networks help businesses attract and retain the best talent, yet only 16% of the companies involved actually use social tools. So how can businesses utilise this type of social recruiting to recruit the best talent, and will it be a help or a hindrance in the long term?
Understanding social networks
Each social media site functions in a unique way and it’s important to understand how they operate before you can start to tap into their resources. Let us consider LinkedIn, for example. The interconnected network, which has 65 million users and is largely targeted at experienced professionals, represents a community made up of like-minded individuals eager to connect and collaborate with others to accomplish particular goals. Facebook is the largest social networking site with over 900 million active users. The site, which originally started as a way to communicate with friends,
family and colleagues, has grown to embrace organisations that are keen to engage with their client base. Twitter is the most popular microblogging site on the web, with approximately 175 million accounts. Twitter’s hook is the limited word count allocated to each tweet.
Social media as a recruitment tool
So which platform is right for your business? Take into consideration the various ways in which people use sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and how you mould your messages to fit the form of each networking site. One of the most attractive benefits of Facebook is its affordability, with the facility to post free job listings on Facebook Marketplace and build pages to create an identity for your business. Facebook also offers more targeted recruitment tools, such as Facebook Ads, which enables businesses to choose the exact audience and tailor advertising to individual characteristics. This type of targeted platform comes at a price, but is perhaps one of the most beneficial tools if you want to fill a particular role; if you have the budget, go for it.
LinkedIn also provides various opportunities to scout new talent and promote your business. The LinkedIn network is largely business-minded, with the majority of users either publicly affiliating themselves with an organisation, or looking for new opportunities. A clear advantage of LinkedIn is the ability to post on its job boards, automatically enabling you to attract the right person for your business. In terms of engaging directly with your target audience, no social networking medium does it better than Twitter. By effectively using the hash tag, you can filter through information with ease and make your tweets stand out. Your Twitter account is also an opportunity to keep potential hires up to date, but beware: your tweets speak volumes about your company, and about the topics that are important to you.
Is it all worth it?
Using social media as a recruitment tool takes time and effort, but it really can provide long-term benefits for your company, allowing you to get to know potential candidates more in depth prior to interview. Contact: www.assuredrecruit.com
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Focus on people SECRET DIARY
This month Therese S. Kinal, managing director and co-founder of Unleash, is kind enough to share the business diary documenting her travels across her native Norway to meet potential clients
of an entrepreneur
Therese S. Kinal started Unleash together with cofounders, Robert Thong and Corrina Kane, in June 2011. Unleash works with businesses to execute strategy, innovate and grow by unleashing latent potential, energy and commitment. After only a little over a year in business, the company has already tripled in size and is expected to reach £1m in turnover by the end of the year. Therese recently visited her native Norway to meet with potential new clients and run a three-day strategy offsite.
Day 1: Lier, Norway
Since my whole week will be spent in Norway, I decided to take the last SAS flight to Oslo from Heathrow on Friday and spend the weekend. This gave me the chance to check progress on the house we’re building (our escape from London) and enjoy a bit of country sunshine in between bursts of work. Several years in the making, it’s incredibly exciting to finally see real progress on site, even if it’s just in the form of excavation, reinforcing and concrete for now.
Day 2: Oslo, Norway
The day starts with the 7.15am train into Oslo S which, after significant regeneration, is a lot more hospitable than when I lived here 16 years ago. The area to the south of the station, Bjørvika, is now home to PwC, Bjørvika Conference Centre and the much talked about Oslo Opera House. Snøhetta’s Italian marble clad design is meant to appear to rise from the sea. Completed in 2007 ahead of schedule and 300m NOK under budget, it still cost a whopping 4.1bn NOK (£400m). Like all of Scandinavia, Norway is an early rise nation so even at this hour, the station is heaving. I make my way to the Thon Opera to find a quiet place to sit and work before a tcon at 9am. This morning I have a Skype (the on-the-go entrepreneur’s best friend) meeting with the team back in the UK to discuss the upcoming interviews they have in Houston, Texas. En route to a different part of town, Skøyen, I call Sam to discuss some research she’s been doing for the client we’re seeing tomorrow. A few minutes early, I camp out at Brødbaker’n, a bakery/coffee
“One gorgeous (and much too filling) lunch later and the offsite kicks off”
shop, while waiting for Robert who took the 7:20am flight into Oslo and is on the airport express into town. The place has a steady stream of people taking a mid-morning break over homemade cinnamon swirls. The cinnamon delights combined with free WiFi makes this a place to note for the future. Robert and I are visiting a former client who, although based in Oslo, is, like most of our clients, a global business. A speciality pharma with roots in cancer and dermatology, we worked with them a couple of years ago to help prepare for their next stage of growth and expansion into the US. After a working session to help our clients finalise their presentations for the next day, Robert and I head to Aker Brygge for dinner. Here we’re meeting a former client of Robert’s who’s currently CFO of a Danish biotech. Over some Riesling and a decent plate of moules frites at Bølgen &
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Focus on people SECRET DIARY
Moi, we discuss the biotech/ pharma industry, what it’s like to run a small, listed company, managing investors, the economy, consulting and making strategy happen.
Day 3: Tjøme, Norway
In the car en route to Engø Gård in Tjøme, Robert and I discuss the offsite with our client, the CEO of a consumer health company. The company is undergoing significant changes to focus its strategy, restructure the business and deliver significantly higher dividends to its owners. The theme of the strategy offsite we have designed for them is value maximisation, strategy execution and leadership. One gorgeous (and much too filling) lunch later and the offsite kicks off. With two new VPs in the room, we kick off with a reflection of the strategic journey they’ve gone through over the past few years. While it is fantastic to get new and fresh perspective into a discussion, clients often underestimate the effect a new team member can have on a team that is in the middle of a journey. It is important to manage this process
well so the team can move forward together, rather than as a disjointed group of individuals. Several hours, presentations and breakout sessions later and it’s gone midnight, and I’m really starting to hurt. Tomorrow will be where we need to make a big lift to help this management team come together on where they want to go and how they will get there. I excuse myself as soon as dinner’s finished and collapse into bed.
Day 4: Tjøme, Norway
A 7am pre-meeting with one of the breakout groups before they present their results to the whole team. I got up at 5:30am to write up the previous day’s discussions and now we’re back to where we left off yesterday evening. The team’s challenge is to decide which areas to focus on from a channel, customer, brand and technology perspective. It’s important to trust your instincts. Some of the clients didn’t think a session on how to lead the execution of their strategy was important, but as it turns out, it was one of the most useful discussions of the day. They had tried to force a fairly autonomous process into a matrix
“A mixture of fatigue, worry about the challenge at hand and determination is washing over the clients’ faces”
organisation, and then layer on a top-down “control” mechanism that were all at odds with each other. Through the discussion, we draw a rough draft of how the project teams can be given the autonomy and ownership they need, while still enabling the management team to steer and guide them as they go along. The day is drawing to an end and a mixture of fatigue, worry about the challenge at hand and determination is washing over the clients’ faces. Tomorrow will be the final day, where we need to lift them back up so they can see for themselves the insights they have actually come to: they’ve evolved the retail strategy, they’ve created win-win strategies for how to work with their customers, and they’ve put consumer pain points more at the forefront of innovation…but it’s always easier to look in from the outside, and it is our job to pull together and align them so they can take the next leap together as a team and as a business. Contact: www.unleashteam.com
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OUR MAN IN THE VALLEY
A warm welcome to our new technology columnist-in-residence, David Richards, CEO and co-founder of WANdisco. A former Sheffield lad now based in Silicon Valley, David will dish the dirt on life as a tech company across the pond… Back in 1999, I packed two suitcases and boarded a plane to California. My girlfriend and I wanted to try living in Silicon Valley for six months. Thirteen years later, we’re still there. We’re married, we have two kids – and I’m running a business worth £37m. I’m Sheffield born and bred – my grandfather ran one of the city’s steel factories. But for a technology entrepreneur, this is the best place in the world to pitch your tent. It was in Silicon Valley that I met my business partner, Yeturu Ahhlad, who had previously worked for Sun, Netscape and IBM. We got chatting at a drinks party in Palo Alto and he told me that he had a great idea for a piece of technology that he’d been working on for five years. It was his 20-page proof that formed the algorithm around which our company – collaboration-software firm WANdisco – was built. Those types of “chance meetings” happen all the time in the Valley: everywhere you turn, there’s a potential business partner, a possible investor, a great new contact. Another example: the other week, I asked the local art gallery to professionally hang some photos in our office. The gallery owner himself arrived at our HQ. He’d worked for some of the world’s largest software firms and he had been through three IPOs. I ended up hiring him. While there’s no doubt Britain produces brilliant technology
businesses, many hailing from Silicon Fen and the Silicon Roundabout, these areas will never be more than pale imitations of Silicon Valley. The ecosystem here is utterly unique: it churns out MBAs from Stanford University, who go on to become venture capitalists, and it attracts great technologists and computer scientists. Put those two types of people into a giant melting pot and you get brilliant, disruptive, fast-growth businesses. The UK, it’s safe to say, is not blessed with a Twitter, nor a Facebook. In fact, if you think of the world’s leading tech firms, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with more than a few Brits among the beasts. But that’s not to say that UK businesses are doomed to be small fry. Silicon Valley it ain’t, but Britain has the ingredients to become a vibrant hotbed for businesses of global significance.
Just look at my own business. Though the vast majority of our sales are generated in the US, all of our technology is made in Sheffield, by a committed and talented workforce that would be the envy of any Californian conglomerate. The tricky task for Britain is to hang on to employees like these. To do that, we need to work hard as a nation to train yet more technological whizz kids – and by that I mean engineers and scientists, not just designers and creatives. We need to build an environment in which they can flourish without the need to pack their bags and jump ship, like I did all those years ago. And a Silicon Roundabout shouldn’t be the scale of our ambition. We need to become Silicon Britain.
“Silicon Valley it ain’t, but Britain has the ingredients to become a vibrant hotbed”
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Focus on technology CLOUD COMPUTING
Head in the cloud Cloud computing is being used to reduce costs, improve efficiency and increase security; so why have UK SMEs been slow on the uptake? David Sturges, CEO of Workplacelive, investigates Research has found that the UK SME sector has been slower than Europe to embrace cloud computing, with 48% of British SMEs adopting it, compared with 60% in Europe. Now Britain is back in recession, SMEs need to get to grips with the technology in order to find new ways to save money and expand the business. Cloud computing could be the answer. SMEs tend not to have IT specialists who can analyse the risks in moving into the cloud and address any perceived worries about data security, compliance, implementation, service levels or nervousness about outsourcing data. So what are the main benefits of adopting a cloud computing technology such as a hosted desktop solution, and why should SMEs do it? Cost is probably the main driver. By adopting a hosted desktop solution, a company can significantly reduce the cost of maintaining and updating its IT systems and reduce IT capital expenditure – plus it removes the need to have a server in the office.
The provider will manage the company’s IT systems and equip the team with the latest software and security. It will also be responsible for software updates, IT maintenance, data backups and disaster recovery. The cost of such a service can be controlled, as businesses only pay for what they use, and have the option to add or reduce users depending on need. Using a hosted desktop service, employees can work anywhere: ideal for SMEs that use freelancers, have employees that travel a lot or want to offer home working as a benefit to employees. Security is another benefit. Until now, one of the biggest barriers to adoption has been fears over security. Understandably, companies have felt nervous about outsourcing data and information to a third party. It is difficult to eliminate risk completely. Intruders may still hack into files, hard drives may fail and laptops may be lost or stolen – all major security breaches which could threaten businesses. The cloud can be more secure. If organisations want to move into
“Employees can work anywhere: ideal for SMEs that use freelancers”
the cloud, security considerations should of course be prioritised. For companies to have confidence in the security of their data, they should work with a trusted provider that can manage and store data in a secure UK centre behind firewalls to ensure it is watertight. SMEs will often not have the most up-to-date software and security, simply because they can’t keep pace with such a fast moving area. The provider, however, will constantly update software and firewalls – it’s their job to keep abreast of new developments. Cloud computing is not going away, and SMEs should, for the sake of their business, look into the options that are out there for them. With the option to save money, free themselves of IT administration, enjoy greater working flexibility, plus the added security benefits, it would seem foolish not to embrace the cloud with open arms. Contact: www.workplacelive.com
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Focus on technology RESPONSIVE WEBSITES
Designing websites that deliver brilliant user experiences has always been a fantastic challenge – and one I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with over the past 10 years. But it’s now more challenging, and so we have to be more creative than ever. The way we access the Internet has evolved dramatically. Screen sizes have been getting both bigger and smaller at the same time, with the increased popularity of smartphones and tablets, as well as netbooks and large desktop screens. It’s not only the size. Orientation along with touchscreen technology has really evolved the way that we interact with our devices and websites. As consumers, our expectations around website functionality and design has also dramatically increased. We now go online from wherever we are, expecting to find the information we need, book those important tickets, or even pull up the map to find out where we are going – and all in an instant. So, how can we ensure we deliver outstanding creative web design that guarantees brilliant experiences to all our visitors, regardless of browser, device and screen size, without building multiple websites? The answer is in the next evolution of web design – Responsive Website Design (RWD). RWD is where the site adapts seamlessly to browsers, userbehaviour and screen size. Creatively using fluid rather than fixed grid layouts, adaptive image sizing and intelligently recognising the size of the screen, we can now build a single website that will work across the devices available – not to mention the new “must have” gadgets that we haven’t even thought of yet. RWD is growing and there are some great examples out there already. Have a look at Smashingmagazine.com, Forkcms.com, or Lancs.ac.uk. If you
“The site adapts seamlessly to browsers, user behaviour and screen size”
open them up on your screen (in a browser that supports HTML5), you can resize the screen and watch the website respond to your screen size. But it’s not just about the layout and images; we must also consider the content. It’s not always necessary to show all of the content when your visitor is using a smartphone. In fact, it’s likely that a mobile visitor will have a different requirement to that of a visitor using a desktop. RWD is about creative thinking and making sure each visitor has what they need at the right point quickly, easily and without having to search too hard. There are a number of benefits to adopting a responsive web design approach. There are efficiency benefits, as you do not need to create or maintain two or three different websites. There is also
less opportunity for inconsistency errors across desktop and mobile website versions. Your customers can share URLs with each other from different devices, and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that the new visitor will see the website in the right format rather than having to zoom in, avoiding images being blown up out of scale or displayed at very poor resolution. RWD is another step towards ensuring your customers and prospects have a brilliant experience at every touch point. Contact: www.jacobbailey.com
Get to grips with the next evolution of web design – responsive websites. Rob Manning, MD of Jacob Bailey, is here to help
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Focus on technology DEVELOPING APPS
Business angel, John Howson, invested in Masabi to create the “train ticket in your pocket” app used by thousands of train travellers every month. Here he offers his top tips to budding app entrepreneurs BUSINESS MODEL
Charge or give away? The first and biggest decision is whether you are going to charge for your app or give it away. If you choose the former with a B2C model and charge your consumers, then you need to spend as much time on marketing and promotional activity as you do on tech development. Up-sell If you go for B2C, don’t forget to capture the details of customers who download the app – you may be able to sell them other apps. You will need a secure payment system and sufficient security that your system cannot be hacked. Selling the
app also needs a payment system to satisfy HMRC when submitting a tax return. B2B deals If you give away your app, you’ll have to make money through other means. The simplest may be to offer your app as a service to established players who have gaps in their portfolio and to charge them for each sale. This is the model Masabi uses; the train ticket purchasing app is used by train operators in the UK and US. Every time a passenger buys a ticket using the Masabi app, the operator pays a small fee. Keep control of the IP Issues to consider in the B2B
scenario include: do you “own” any contacts with end users, or will the distributor keep control of them? If you have no control over marketing, do you need a price at the start that rewards your effort, or do you want to gain a name for your company? Make sure you keep control of the IP you develop, and that companies know they will have to pay for upgrades even if the original app is either free or very cheap to attract customers.
“There’s little point in devising an app for a small number of customers unless someone else is paying”
TECH DEVELOPMENT AND DELIVERY
Which platform? The present technological era with its wide choice of consumer devices, including mobiles, tablets and
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Focus on technology DEVELOPING APPS
laptops, means there are many different platforms to consider for your app. Before opting for the universal app, which would be expensive to develop and support across multiple platforms, it’s worth researching whether the target market is predominantly Android, Apple or BlackBerry. If the app succeeds on one key platform you can invest some of the income to expand to other platforms in order of importance. There’s little point in devising an app for a small number of customers unless someone else is paying. If you are selling an app to other businesses, make sure they understand this point and the cost implications, since if they don’t understand the technology, they may think everyone can use the same app and view costs on that basis. Debug and debug If your application launches with bugs and other problems, customer reviews will expose them and create negative publicity. Listen to the feedback of your customer reviews and adjust the product accordingly. Make sure you iron out all of those details before releasing it to the wrath of the App Store or Android market. Monitor the reviews on app marketplaces to see what customers like, dislike and want added. Masabi added features such as train platforms and running times to their ticket app to appeal to passengers. And for our train operator customers, we added the ability to link to their websites and sell multiple tickets. Encourage user feedback, even if it’s not always what you want to hear. Users may suggest additional features that hadn’t occurred to you.
You may have the best app in the world, but unless potential users know about it, then you won’t make money out of it.
The problem for start-ups is they don’t usually have much cash left for marketing. Happily there are two key routes that are absolutely free; reviews that are favourable and, increasingly, social media. Get users to tell friends via their social media contacts, especially if the app is aimed at those who are big users of Facebook, Twitter etc. Pre-launch Hype and publicity before the app is released is as, if not more, important than postlaunch promotion. Building a buzz around your app and allowing users to become aware of its release will add to the success of an application. You can do this promotion and marketing yourself through iPhone forums, social networking platforms such as Twitter, and by creating individual web pages dedicated to the application itself. Reviews Identify review opportunities in blogs and print publications likely to be read by the target audience for the app. It is amazing how you can make an apparently specialist app potentially interesting to a wider audience. A music app could be reviewed in a gardening magazine, for example, by showing how it helps readers either listen or select music better when in the garden than anywhere else. A catch phrase also helps: Masabi’s is, “the ticket machine in your pocket”.
• Post a video of how to use the app with different phones, and get as much publicity as possible.
• Waste time creating the perfect app. The app needs to be as good as necessary for consumers to want to use it, but not necessarily perfect. • Ignore the other parts of the business, especially where income is concerned. • Assume any early success will continue without effort.
“Start-ups don’t usually have much cash left for marketing. Happily there are two key routes that are absolutely free”
• Assume that competitors won’t try to nick your market.
John Howson is an investor in Masabi and founder of Education Data Surveys, bought by TSLEducation in 2009. He is the managing director of DataforEducation and a visiting professor at Oxford University. Contact: www.masabi.co.uk
• Work out how you are going to make money from the app. • Check the competition; what are the unique features of your app that make it better than the others? • Use social media and viral technology to alert possible users.
108 October 2012
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Focus on technology BUSINESS APPS
I’ve got an app for that… We’ve looked around the marketplace, checked out the talent on offer, and come up with our two top picks of the best business apps this month. Check them out
Price: £4.99 Compatible with: Apple devices The gist: ZAPP, produced by Zoom Creates, is the mobile app designed to support professionals in creating a great presentation. It aims to enhance individuals’ ability to present to any size group – regardless of content, context, audience or timing. The app is currently compatible with Apple devices, and the content and process has been tested with 71 international businesses and organisations, including Starbucks, 3, Sapient and Argos. Once ZAPP has been downloaded, users will be asked a short series of questions about their presentation, including ‘what is the purpose of your presentation?’ and ‘who are you presenting to?’ They will be guided through a series of options that enable them to custom-design a brilliant presentation in five minutes. www.zoomzapp.com
Close My Deal
Price: £3.99 Compatible with: Apple devices The gist: From Lord Sugar to Dragons’ Den, whether it’s negotiating with suppliers or securing a long-term contract with overseas clients, in today’s climate knowing how to get the best from a deal is crucial. Clive Rich, a former barrister who has negotiated more than £10bn worth of deals over a 25-year career, has launched the first app of its kind specifically aimed at helping business owners and entrepreneurs arm themselves with the tools needed to succeed in negotiations. Close My Deal provides tips, such as how to secure the highest investment, identify your “aces” and when to play them, and spot your opponent’s weaknesses through how they behave. Features include a series of 24 interactive “scenarios”, designed to gauge your effectiveness at negotiating. Visitors are given multiple choice answers and receive feedback and expert advice on how to improve their negotiation style depending on what they choose. www.closemydeal.co.uk
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Focus on technology GADGETS
Battle of the brands: Apple vs Samsung The big boys go head-to-head this autumn as the Samsung Galaxy SIII does battle with the much-anticipated iPhone 5…but who has the edge? We take a look at the facts behind these power players
112 October 2012
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Focus on technology GADGETS
iPhone 5 From £529 4in, still retaining 326 pixelsper-inch density and now with 44% better colour saturation. 7.6mm/112g Similar to the 4 and 4S, but the all-glass back has been given a metal centre: anodised aluminium on the black model and raw aluminium on the white. The dock is the smaller Lightning, the headphone jack has moved from the top to the bottom and the speakers are larger.
[VS] [Price] [Screen size] [Width/weight]
Samsung Galaxy SIII From £450 4.8in, 306 pixels-per-inch density with deep contrast, vibrant colours and true blacks. 8.6mm/133g
A matter of personal opinion, of course. But there is something very pleasing about the Samsung Galaxy SIII’s minimal and organic design, reflected in the smooth and non-linear lines of the device.
8MP main camera capable of 1080p video, and front camera capable of 720p video. It can take stills while shooting video. It also features a new integrated panoramic shooting mode and a sapphire crystal lens cover, improved image stabilisation and A6 CPU, offering better photo processing.
8MP main camera capable of 1080p video, and front camera capable of 720p video. It can take stills while shooting video. The Galaxy SIII is a certified camera heavyweight, offering excellent quality, crisp detail and rich colours.
16GB, 32GB and 64GB options.
16GB, 32GB and 64GB options. The Galaxy SIII’s microSD slot also gives the option of increasing that by up to 64GB.
The Galaxy SIII currently uses Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which isn’t the newest version of the OS (Jelly Bean is expected to be available on the SIII soon), and has Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI laid over the top.
[What they say]
“Designed for humans: Samsung GALAXY SIII just gets us. Little things, like staying awake when you look at it and keeping track of loved ones. Designed for humans, it goes beyond smart and fulfills your needs by thinking as you think, acting as you act.”
The iPhone 5 uses the new iOS 6, which includes improved Siri, FaceTime over 3G, Safari tab syncing over different devices and slicker Facebook integration. Google Maps has been replaced with Apple’s own map solution, which offers a new 3D building fly-over mode and turn-by-turn navigation. “It’s hard to believe a phone so thin could offer so many features: a larger display, a faster chip, the latest wireless technology, an 8MP iSight camera, and more. All in a beautiful aluminum body designed and made with an unprecedented level of precision. So much went into this iPhone. So you could get even more out of it.”
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“Owning a Signs Express franchise has been the best move I’ve made.”
Mark Kendall - Signs Express, Southampton
“I have pride and satisfaction as my own boss with the added benefit of being part of a national brand. Through training and support I am able to focus on growing my business and have the flexibility to spend time with my family and enjoy life!”
Signs are our business, make it yours.
Call 0800 731 2255 or visit www.signsexpress.co.uk/franchise to find out more.
Investment level from
£90,000 - £100,000
etting up a new business can be daunting; but what about if you had your family working alongside you? It’s not every day you come across families who work and play together. Dave and Kim Nurse own Signs Express in Leeds. They chose to jointly set up a business franchise and have been successfully working together for nine years. With a business franchise they benefit from ongoing training support and advice whilst building an asset that can either be sold or passed down to their next generation.
come across a family that works together so successfully. So what’s the secret of their success?
Dave and Kim Nurse have been married for 25 years; since 2003 they have been co-owners of Signs Express Leeds. They have two children: Rick, 24, and Michelle, 21. Rick has been working within the family business since 2004. They are a winning team: in 2005 named ‘Signs Express Newcomer of the Year’ and in 2007 ‘Signs Express Franchisee of the Year’, plus a clutch of other accolades to their name. It’s not every day you
So, what does the Nurse family feel are the benefits of working together? “Knowing that you are working with people you can absolutely 100% trust is a definite bonus”, says Dave. Kim believes that working with family members has afforded her greater flexibility, with regard to working hours. And in Rick’s view he has had great training prospects, being encouraged to grow in the area of the business that most interests him: sales.
To find out about Signs Express franchise opportunities call 0800 731 2255 or visit http://franchise.signsexpress.co.uk
Dave Nurse sets the scene: “I had always wanted to run my own company; the thought of being my own boss really appealed to me. In the past I had worked as a supplier to the sign industry with two major organisations and my responsibilities were diverse. I oversaw salespeople, warehouse staff, drivers, stock, P&L, and so on. At the time I didn’t realise it, but these skills were highly transferable.”
Focus on franchise
Franchise news Former England rugby captain joins SureLet
Theo Paphitis singles out A-Star Sports
RUGBY UNION LEGEND Phil Vickery has become a director for SureLet, the lettings agency franchise. After a successful rugby career, starting his own clothing range, and winning BBC’s Celebrity MasterChef, Phil was ready for a new project. He said: ‘I have been aware of the firm for a number of years as I’m a close friend of Colin Poole, SureLet’s managing director. I’m taking on this role looking to soak up the skills, experience and market-leading knowledge of the SureLet team and hopefully impart my skills in the business world into their model.’ This year marks SureLet’s 10th anniversary, and there are now 24 franchises across the UK. Mr Poole said: ‘Having Phil on board is the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned, and I’m looking forward with a refreshed sense of optimism to the future of SureLet.’
THEO PAPHITIS CHOSE A-Star Sports, UK-wide sports coaching franchise, as a winner in his renowned Team #SBS. Team #SBS stands for Small Business Sunday, and is the Twitter creation of the Dragons’ Den star. Each week he rewards small businesses that tweet him @TheoPaphitis and describe their business in one tweet. Only tweets made between 5pm and 7.30pm on Sundays are considered, and the best are selected by Theo. A-Star Sports is approaching its first birthday, having been established in November last year. It offers sports coaching for children between two and ten years old, teaching them to play individually and in teams. ‘This is the moment of glory for us,’ said A-Star co-founder,
Sharon Bassett. ‘Team #SBS is a fantastic and generous community and new Twitter followers are increasing by the minute. Theo has more than a quarter of a million followers, so being an #SBS winner will have a massive impact on our business.’
London franchisee wins Subway President’s Award
THE SUBWAY RESTAURANT chain has announced London-based Hamed Al-Naqeeb as the winner of the 2012 President’s Award. Mr Al-Naqeeb was presented the award by SUBWAY president and co-founder, Fred DeLuca, at the recent 2012 SUBWAY convention in Orlando. Originally from Kuwait, Mr Al-Naqeeb comes from a family business background in the manufacturing industry. He carried on the entrepreneurial tradition when he joined the chain in 1996 as a franchisee, owning three restaurants in London before becoming a development agent. Chiefly responsible for building and managing a geographical territory for the restaurant chain, SUBWAY development agents, known as DAs, provide local
franchisees with the necessary support and expertise to help them launch and run a successful business. Mr Al-Naqeeb oversees and manages more than 200 stores in his territory, which stretches throughout the Greater London area. Development plans for this region include 25 restaurant openings in 2012, and 30-35 additional restaurants each year after. ‘Hamed is a gifted innovator, and has worked closely with SUBWAY headquarters to develop several important concepts to help improve the profitability of our 37,000 stores,’ said co-founder and president, Fred DeLuca. ‘I love new things, new challenges, and especially creative challenges,’ said Mr Al-Naqeeb. ‘That has translated into my team.’
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Focus on franchise SPOTLIGHT
Talk us through your franchise
We launched the franchise in 2008 in response to the fact there was a change in the economy. After the financial crisis, it was clear that there was a real opportunity in the fitness market in the UK to offer something that was at a really low cost – sub £20 a month. From a franchise point of view you didn’t have to open a club with a huge amount of facilities or a studio, swimming pool, sauna, steam-room etc. We just concentrate on what people were after, which was a great low-cost gym.
How do you offer value for money?
We find great property, that’s obviously part of the equation. But we don’t have facilities other than a simple gym proposition. We have a partner called Precor, who supply great gym equipment. Because the space is used exclusively for gym, without having to use extra space for things like studios, we can make it that much cheaper than the big operations already in the marketplace.
What do you look for in franchisees?
We have franchisees from every conceivable background; from bankers through to people that had worked in the postal service and even people from other franchises. We recently brought new franchisees on board who had previously been in the fast-food business. They had been putting calories in and perhaps they’re now looking to take calories out of their customers!
Let’s talk wonga…
We’re looking for people with around £100,000 minimum investment level. We then look to match this funding with the banks and we have some great leasing arrangements. As this is a property-based franchise,
investment numbers vary based on the size of the premises we choose. Our franchisee in Tower Hill (Central London) would have input more money than perhaps somebody opening in another part of the country where it’s cheaper.
What makes Fit4Less special?
One of the things that differentiates us in the marketplace is that we’re a UK born and bred company. We have significant head office infrastructure, with roughly around 30 people in our head office. From a franchisee perspective, that means that there’s an expert in every area; whether in property, sales, marketing, operations report, training or health and safety. We have experts in all of those fields giving franchisees that reassurance of a team behind them. Also, being a group that has almost 100 clubs means there’s a great franchisee network – franchisees helping franchisees. All of our franchisees come together at a quarterly development meeting and share best practice, which really helps everybody move the business forward.
The transcript of this interview was provided by FranchiseSales.co.uk, filming at The Franchise Show
“There’s a great franchisee network – franchisees helping franchisees”
David Beattie, brand and marketing director for energie group, talks us through the low cost gym opportunity launched in 2008, Fit4Less
Under the spotlight…
116 October 2012
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Focus on franchise TAKE ONE FRANCHISEE
soon after we started. We went from fax to email and the Internet in a short space of time, and that has revolutionised all business practices. In the same way, sign production technology has developed so much. The training was excellent, so we felt well equipped to do the job. Since then, FASTSIGNS has been very supportive, keeping us up to date with the latest technology advances.
How is the business doing now?
We have done really well, with only the last couple of years proving to be a bit difficult, as is the case for most businesses. Our son, Tom, now works in the business as a sign designer, and he’s studying for his A-level in graphic design on day release. I’m hoping that our other son, Max may also decide to join in once he’s finished his studies.
Take one franchisee: FASTSIGNS Guildford John Harvey tells TB how redundancy pushed him to start up his own business and buy into the FASTSIGNS franchise John Harvey, 61, and his wife Eileen set up their FASTSIGNS Guildford franchise in 1995 after John was made redundant from British Gas at the age of 45. John had worked for the company since leaving school at 15 years old; although offered an alternative position in Manchester, John chose not to uproot the family, deciding instead to take on his own business.
Why franchising? “They seemed to be a much sleeker, organised outfit than the others and it just felt right”
I never got the call of selfemployment, but I was 45 and I thought: ‘What am I going to do?’ I hadn’t had an external interview for over 30 years, and the redundancy meant that we had a lump of money to invest. I thought the franchising model sounded interesting and
a way to earn a decent living, while keeping it more under my own control. The franchising exhibition at Olympia was only a couple of weeks away so my wife and I decided to go and see what was on offer.
I spent about an hour with the other franchises and seven hours with FASTSIGNS, because they showed me everything. I got a really good feel for the set up, the equipment and the kind of people I’d be working with. They seemed to be a much sleeker, organised outfit than the others and it just felt right.
How was it in the early days?
We have grown up with technology, which exploded
What’s your customer base like?
We have a varied customer base, with businesses of all types and sizes, and lots of repeat business. We do all the signs for Surrey Police and a large proportion of Guildford Borough Council’s signage, and both customers have been with us from the early days.
Plans for the future?
I’m getting to the age where I’m considering retiring in the next few years, so I’m hoping that the boys will take over. We’ve made a good living from the business and there’s still a lot of potential for development and growth, especially with new technologies appearing all the time.
Any advice about running a B2B franchise?
It was quite a learning curve. You can’t be scared in a B2B environment. You have to be confident about what you are doing. Contact: www.fastsigns.co.uk
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Franchise master 59555:Franchise master 59555
Lloyds TSB can help you with your franchise plans. Whether you’re buying into a franchise or franchising your own business, it’s important to have the right kind of support and guidance before you take the next step. That’s why we have a team of specially trained franchise managers who have a wealth of knowledge, and can offer you practical support and guidance. To find out more call:
0800 681 6078 lloydstsb.com/franchising
Calls may be monitored or recorded. Lloyds TSB Commercial is a trading name of Lloyds TSB Bank plc and Lloyds TSB Scotland plc and serves customers with an annual turnover of up to £15m. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority under numbers 119278 and 191240 respectively.
Focus on franchise MANAGING FRANCHISEES
Martyn Ward is the franchise manager for Alex Clark Lettings Franchise. He has 20 years’ experience in the franchise sector and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the market place
Life support Finding the right franchisees for your business is only the start of the story. Supporting them as they develop is a whole other matter. Alex Clark Lettings and Wilkins Chimney Sweep give their expert advice on managing your franchisees Louise Harris will tell you that when she and husband Peter started out on their franchising journey, the one message that came through loud and clear was that franchisee support was critical; but what exactly is the support, where does it start and where does it end? For Martyn Ward it begins in the recruitment stage. ‘Recruiting the wrong franchisee, who is not going to be able to work with the franchise model, is not going to make for happy partnering. You want your franchisees to work within the model, rather than try to re-invent it, which is
why I think the best recruitment process is a succession of small meetings where you learn about each other, warts and all. It’s crucial that you determine whether the potential franchisee is going to prosper and succeed at that early stage.’ He also cites expectation management as crucial at this stage, saying: ‘You need to ensure the potential franchisee is 100% aware of the pitfalls involved in running a business, from potential first year losses to the inevitable phone call after six to eight months saying ‘I’ve made a mistake...I want out’. These are all well documented cycles in the process of becoming a successful franchise owner; you’ve seen it all before, but you need to make sure any potential franchisees are aware of the peaks and troughs.’ So, you’ve recruited your franchisee, he/she knows the potential pitfalls and is happy to work within the model – now what? Is it happily ever after? Not quite; Louise and Martyn both describe a process of franchisee development which Louise likens to human development (baby and toddler to teenager, young adult and finally to mature adult) and which Martyn Ward refers to as the “Glee-Fee-Me” cycle, taken from Greg Nathan’s book The Franchise E-Factor. The Franchise E-Factor succinctly describes how the franchisor/franchisee relationship changes over the course of time. • Glee – The franchisee is somewhat nervous about their new venture but is also excited and optimistic about the future. • Fee – The franchisee starts to become sensitive and
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Focus on franchise MANAGING FRANCHISEES
Louise Harris is the franchise director for Wilkins Chimney Sweep. She and husband Peter franchised their business in late 2012 and now have seven franchisees operating across the UK. She was previously a franchisee so has first-hand knowledge of the situation from both sides concerned about the value of the fees being paid to their franchisor or the costs of services or products received. • Me – The franchisee concludes that their success is due mainly to their own efforts and plays down the contribution of the franchise system, or, if they are struggling, they play down their own deficiencies. • Free – This stage is characterised by the franchisee’s need to demonstrate his or her competence and assert their independence, thus testing the franchise system’s boundaries. • See – Through frank and open discussions, the franchisee and franchisor better understand and respect each other’s points of view. • We – The franchisee recognises that success and satisfaction come more easily from working with, rather than against, their franchisor. It is important to recognise each and every stage of this natural growth process, whichever labels you want to give it, so that the correct amount of help and support can be offered to the franchisee at each stage. Louise Harris says: ‘While the above is probably a fair assessment of a franchisee’s development, it still didn’t initially help me define what support we would have to give. I remember when I was a franchisee, I had an incident that left me very upset: I called my franchisor from the ladies’ loo in Sainsbury’s and had a good cry down the phone. They were so supportive during that call, which was really above and beyond the call of duty,
“You need to make sure any potential franchisees are aware of these peaks and troughs”
“I called my franchisor from the ladies’ loo in Sainsbury’s and had a good cry down the phone”
so I always think of that single interaction, because when the chips were down, my franchisor was there for me. Empathy, understanding, humour and kindness were key to their support mechanism, and are now key to mine too. ‘In my experience, there is only one common theme for support: that everyone needs something different. You can provide a structured programme of training, visits and telephone calls, but the content of any interaction will be entirely driven by the franchisee and, as a franchisor, you have to listen, empathise, encourage, laugh, cry and sometimes argue with them – not that dissimilar to a marriage.’ But is it possible to be over supportive? Louise says yes. ‘I’ve had to be careful in the past not to dash to the aid of a franchisee struggling with reporting or marketing and just roll up my sleeves and do it myself; the goal is to enable the franchisee to be able to run the business without me. It’s a dichotomy since there’s value in a franchisee needing you, but this must be balanced with allowing them to walk unaided.’ Martyn cites field visits as another opportunity to support franchisees. ‘It is easy enough for a franchisee to tell you all is going well over the telephone, but by visiting them in their territory, you get a first-hand view of exactly how well things are really going. Field visits are a great way of offering support in a very hands-on way.’ Running a team of franchisees is never easy, and most franchisors will recognise
the 80/20 rule: 80% of your time will be spent supporting 20% of the team. A poor performer will suck resources dry and may never appreciate the support being offered. As a franchisor, you have to take a business view on whether it is worth nurturing some people or if their needs are just too great. Martyn says: ‘Support takes many forms: training, auditing, nudging to improve customer service, nagging for reports, none of which may feel like support, but that are all still an important part of the process. It’s also lending an ear, giving guidance on how to handle a situation, being a think tank or a sounding board.’ Louise’s final thoughts on supporting franchisees? ‘Franchisees are humans too; they have good days and bad days. You need to be there for both options. What average level of support needs to be provided? Find me an average franchisee and I’ll tell you.’ Contact: www.franchisechimneysweep.co.uk www.alexclarkfranchise.co.uk
122 October 2012
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In 2012 your web site needs to work on all devices. Web sites these days are viewed on a wide variety of devices. For this reason it is no longer sufficient to a have a web site that works on just a desktop computer - it must perform equally well on:
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Directory OCTOBER 2012
Your HR Partner is a unique HR Consultancy which works together with your business to address HR issues. Whether you need help in drawing up HR Policies or Contracts of Employment; dealing with poor performance; or making redundancies we will work together with you, understanding your business issues and finding solutions. T: 020 8346 8686 E: email@example.com W: www.skhr.co.uk
We offer friendly IT Support. We have options to suit all, from fully managed to P.A.Y.G. Other services include Google Apps and Hosted Exchange, VoIP, Mobile Comms, Data Comms and Backup Service. Clients range from single user offices to multi national corporations. T: 0330 999 1337 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.totallytechy.com
From a single desk for one day to a whole building for 25 years Bruntwood provide office space, serviced and virtual offices, meeting rooms and retail premises throughout Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Cheshire and Birmingham. T: 0800 731 0300 E: email@example.com W: www.bruntwood.co.uk
• Hosted and Fully Managed Service • Our Certified engineers provide complete management and administration service for all of your: - Hosted Servers - Hosted Applications - Hosted Database Systems • Or if you prefer - self-managed T: 01223 832227 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.focusonhosting.co.uk
As the UK’s longest running organisation for professional leaders, we are dedicated to supporting our members, encouraging entrepreneurial activity and promoting the highest levels of professional business conduct. T: 020 7766 8888 E: email@example.com W: www.iod.com
Urban Media employ a considered and individual blend of Website Production (including Website Design and Website Development), Online Marketing and Bespoke Application building to deliver the results each Client requires. T: 01494 538441 W: www.urbanmedia.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Outhouse-UK is a premier provider of virtual Company Name Here con re restem back office support forTario smallinbusinesses. With a cuptat enlhimus aboris from illat. diary Arumbookings quae estrum wide range of services, to destiam corum services id magnis accountsillitiure admin,coreped our fast itatin and efficient destiam illitiure itatin corum id magnis free up your timecoreped to concentrate on core estem auria eperferum entthings moditesed quias business activities and the that you do ipsumqu untiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. best. T:T:00000 000000 0121 663 0564 E: W:email@example.com www.outhouse-uk.com W: E: www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to find out what an award winning accountancy firm could do for you, we are happy to provide a free, no obligation consultation. • Business start ups Tario in con re restem Company Name Here • Accountancy cuptat enlhimus aboris illat. Arum quae estrum • Auditillitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis destiam • Bookkeeping destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis • Taxation estem auria eperferum ent moditesed quias • Payrolluntiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. ipsumqu 01322000000 614681 T:T:00000 email@example.com E:E:firstname.lastname@example.org W:www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk www.gary-sargeant.co.uk W:
On-site computer support Company Name Here Tariofor in small con re restem businesses and home Surrey, cuptat enlhimus aboriscomputers illat. Aruminquae estrum Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Software destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis installation and coreped upgrades, Hardware destiam illitiure itatin corum id magnis installation/advice, Networking and quias estem auria eperferum ent moditesed broadband, PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad support ipsumqu untiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. 01628000000 762765 / 07931 363457 T:T:00000 E:email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org E: W:www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk www.redsquirrelsupport.com W:
Company Name Here Tario in con re restem cuptat enlhimus aboris illat. Arum quae estrum destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis Quickfund provide working capital to grow estem auria eperferum ent moditesed quias your business with minimal qualifications. ipsumqu untiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. £3500 - £100k T:T:00000 01279000000 759470 E: W:email@example.com www.thecfgroup.eu W: www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bespoke HR for your business. Professional, honest and easy to understand HR consultant support and advice that suits you. Regular and ad-hoc advice to HR audit Carruthers HR can help. T: 07930153940 E: email@example.com W: www.carruthershr.co.uk
We craft compelling websites and persuasive media strategies. Through an in-depth and collaborative process, we will discover what is unique about you, then shout it from the virtual rooftops. T: +44 20 8399 4948 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.joyandrevolution.co.uk
126 October 2012
Directory OCTOBER 2012
Affordable HR Solutions Stellarise help ambitious smaller companies become leaders in their field through the innovative use of IT. We are a leading provider of affordable IT support, effective project delivery and strategic advice. . T: 020 3137 3550 W: www.stellarise.com
Affordable HR Solutions can take care of your ad hoc people issues enabling you to focus on your core business. Visit our website to see our range of services. T: 01304 366340 W: www.affordable-hrsolutions.co.uk E: Info@affordable-hrsolutions.co.uk
Hampden provide a complete client focused IT solution tailored to your business. We provide a complete service that combines technical expertise with experience and knowledge for cost effective IT solutions. T: 01865 233000 W: www.hampdensolutions.co.uk E: email@example.com
Turner Business Consultants Ltd services are always flexible tailored to your specific needs. • Health and Safety Management • Fire Risk Assessment • CDM Coordination • Asbestos Management • Quality Management • Environmental Management • Information Technology Security • Business Continuity Plans • Business Strategy Development • Civil Engineering Consultancy services T: 01268 649006 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.turnerbusinessconsultants.co.uk
Hamilton’s Asset Management services enable customers to: • Optimise usage of IT assets by improved asset allocation • Manage and measure IT operations and initiatives • Identify and mitigate risk (e.g. under-licensing of software products) • Minimise procurement costs • Improve maintenance activity and costs • Maximise the value of surplus IT equipment utilising Hamilton’s expert remarketing team T: 0203 327 2390 W: www.hamilton-am.co.uk E: email@example.com
KashFlow Software Limited is a privately owned company based in London, England. We provide online accounting software for small businesses owners — the emphasis always being on ease of use, automation and integration. We’re widely regarded as a pioneer of the SaaS business model and as the leader in web-based accounting. T: 0800 848 8301 W: www.kashflow.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
We create effective and meaningful Web, Design and Print for small to medium sized businesses creating big results. We enhance customer experiences and help businesses grow through effectively designed communications. Based in the South East, we work for clients both local and across the UK. T: 01438 369882 W: www.gtm-uk.co.uk E: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
At Infinite Brush everyone has a creative mind. We make sure every technical and creative decision we make can help you make a sale. T: 01753 251 241 W: www.infinitebrush.com E: email@example.com
Our business is focused on providing exceptional design, web, hosting and print • Online Marketing • Website Updating • Content Management • PPC • Ecommerce • Email • Business Cards • Flyers • Stationery • Leaflets • Promotional Items • Posters • Banners T: 01865 600 366 W: www.nervenet.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are passionate about making our customers’ working life easier, therefore we act as the platform through which they can access a full array of virtual services, such as: • Virtual PA and Admin Services • Graphic Design • Web Solutions • IT Support • Translation • Marketing and PR
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W: www.proficientva.co.uk E: contact@ proficientva.co.uk
Through working in partnership with you, and by understanding your business and providing bespoke support, we add value and provide commercial HR solutions that contribute to your bottom-line. T: 07973 958149 or 01604 688757 W: www.hrbespokesolutions.co.uk E: email@example.com
Directory OCTOBER 2012
World Addresses is a hosted web service that delivers international address lookup data to any website or in-house system from the input of a Postcode, partial address or ZIP code. T: 01508 494488 W: www.worldaddresses.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Netsense focus upon providing honest and trustworthy IT Support / Solutions allowing your employees to concentrate their key skills, making your business thrive, and our own to grow with you. T: 01444 848160 W: www.itsimplified.co.uk E: email@example.com
DSIS is a computing and IT company specialising in ensuring the smooth and effective operation of all your computer equipment, programs and networks. We have decades of knowledge, from hardware replacement and data recovery through to hosting websites and dealing with email viruses. T: 0141 4382030 W: www.dsis.co.uk
We are a technology services company whose aim is to “Make IT perform for small to medium size businesses”. We help our clients select, implement and support the best and most appropriate information technology for their needs, based on a close understanding of their business requirements, their ambitions and constraints T: (0)20 7787 1199 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.microsolv.co.uk
At Forge Dynamic, we understand the challenges that small and medium sized businesses face. This is why we aim to provide the highest quality service we can offer, while keeping costs as low as possible. We endeavour to offer flexibility in our working practises and to work closely with your business to develop solutions that suit you best. In addition, our partner network means we are able to offer additional services, creating an all round IT Support to your company. E: email@example.com T: 0845 564 6883 W: www.forgedynamic.co.uk
We can help you: • Surface and resolve team working issues • Achieve Behaviour change • Get projects off to a flying start • Get teams to adopt new processes or procedures • Unite geographically remote team members We have a record of achieving significant results with teams large and small through specially designed events and development programmes to achieve outcomes agreed with you. T: (0)1869 347558 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.hendrytraining.com
Innovative and flexible Web and IT Development for SME’s in Buckinghamshire and surrounding counties. We provide you with a ‘one stop’ solution for all your technical requirements, whether Web Design, Hosting, IT support or solutions. T: 01628 478 429 W: www.arisia.biz E: email@example.com
Do you want more sales, business or leads from your website? If so you need search engine marketing and / or social media optimisation. Remember, “When you work with Serendipity, there’s no long term contact, no hassle and no hype, just good business.” T: 0845 170 1800 W: www.serendipity-online-marketing.co.uk
Skipton Business Finance is a leading receivables financier with offices in Skipton, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. The company’s award-winning service spans factoring and invoice discounting, boasts independent status and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Skipton Building Society, a mutual that has been serving its members for over 150 years. T: 0845 602 9354 W: www.skiptonbusinessfinance.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s your brand. It’s your business. And with help from Avery, it’s your success. Avery have a product catalogue which includes laser and inkjet labels and cards, printer consumables, desktop accessories and filing products. T: 0800 80 50 20 W: www.avery.co.uk
At Flyerzone.co.uk you’ll find great designs ideas to easily customise online. Your business gets great design, printed and delivered from £7. Whatever your business, we’ve got a design for you. T: 0800 122 3003 E: email@example.com W: www.flyerzone.co.uk
Cartridge World is the UK’s largest specialist provider of high quality printer cartridges. Cartridge World offer massive savings on inkjet and laser toner cartridges without compromising on quality. W: www.cartridgeworld.co.uk
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Directory OCTOBER 2012
I.T.S Telecom Ltd is part of the I.T.S Group of companies, comprising of I.T.S Support Ltd, I.T.S Internet Solutions Ltd & I.T.S Telecom Ltd. We provide a comprehensive range of IT and communications solutions to the Corporate & Education sectors. T: 0800 008 7009 W: www.its-telco.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are a brand new mobile website development company specialising in the development of mobile phone compatible websites (they’re also known as .mobi sites too). It doesn’t matter if a customer is on their PC, laptop, Mac or any smartphone, the correctwebsite will always show up. T: 01642 946 649 or 07811 337 222 W: www.mrmicrosites.co.uk
KariaTec is a leading IT support companyhelping businesses focus on their‘business’ rather than worry about their ITsystems.With our innovative solutions, our clientshave been able to maintain maximum uptime. T: 0203 137 6669 W: www.kariatec.com E: email@example.com
DynaCom IT Support was established in 2003 to give a personal service to a high business standard, serving Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. We use a combination of remote and onsite support where appropriate – our aim is to resolve your issue in the shortest time with the least inconvenience to you. Remote and telephone support is great for monitoring and simple fixes, but we believe you can’t beat an engineer on your doorstep! T: 01376 342787
Juke Media is a full service marketing agency based in Lincolnshire, registered as a trading UK Limited company in May 2010. The owners of the company formed Juke Media after all having separate interests & experiences in the digital world, noticing a niche in the market where Juke Media could place itself effectively. T: 01476 468393 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.jukemedia.co.uk
we are an integrated direct sales and digital marketing company. Essentially, this means that whatever your lead generation and sales needs are, we’ve got you covered. We have 7 years’ B2B sales experience, we are Nimble CRM and Eloqua Partners and we are also Google Adwords Qualified. T: 0808 189 0789 E: email@example.com W: www.konvertis.co.uk
With Barclays Business Abroad, you get a package of educational material, discounts and tools, including free Currency Current Accounts. In addition, you get a 25% discount on the cost of making and receiving international payments, reducing overheads and making it easier to trade internationally. It’s free until 31 December 2012 after which a fee of £5 + VAT per month applies. W: www.barclays.co.uk/businessabroad
Into Somerset is the inward investment organisation for Somerset. Its resourceful and independent team offers unbiased advice and support for businesses considering moving all or part of their business to somerset. T: 0845 1222066 W: www.intosomerset.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 5 years ago, we set out to build an independent energy brokers that focused on delivering quick, free, impartial advice to both small and large businesses, on what is the best gas and electricity deals available. T: 0800 043 0423 W: www.utilityhelpline.co.uk E: email@example.com
With over 30 years experience supporting SME’s we are proud to be able to offer a wide range of outsourced IT services and support. Our services range from hardware and software provision, tailored business communication platforms to the latest cloud services and applications, all designed to increase your productivity for a fraction of the cost of in-house T: 0845 880 2634 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.orbitalnetworks.co.uk
We supply computer network installation and support in the West London area. Our services cover all aspects of networking from consultancy through design, installation and integration to support. We specialise in the small business support market in the West London area, providing installation and maintenance of computer systems and networks T: 07885 595774 W: www.sevagram.co.uk E: Itony@sevagram.co.uk
Karbonite designs and develops professional and fun Bespoke Websites at great prices, ensuring you get great value for money. Karbonite is based in Chelmsford, Essex and specialises in E-commerce, CMS and SEO. Our services range from personal ventures to professional business Web Design. Bespoke static Web Design From £199 T: 01245 600 075 W: www.karbonite.co.uk E: email@example.com
And finally… HE SAID/SHE SAID
He said/she said
What have Britain’s gobby entrepreneurs been saying this month? October’s all about young talent; we find out which role models are most inspirational for the next generation James Eder, founder, The Beans Group @thebeansgroup It’s important that young people see what other young people have achieved and understand that setting up a successful business is something that they actually can do. We need public figures like James Caan and Lord Young to bring entrepreneurship to the forefront.
James Caan, chairman, Start Up Loans @StartUpLoansUK The Start Up Loans Ambassadors demonstrate that age and funding are not barriers to starting your business. They all started their businesses between the age of 18-24 on £2,500 or less. They have come from fashion to food, digital to the arts – whatever your passion, if you want to be an entrepreneur, there’s a business for you. Raspinder Singh, founder, The Gradpreneur Club @gradpreneur Typically, when young people think about business, celebrated names such as Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Reed come to mind. It’s great to take inspiration from these famous names, but it’s unlikely that these guys will be able to support your journey into business. Instead, connect with local entrepreneurs and business minds whose experience will equal, if not exceed those of celebrity entrepreneurs.
Jonathan Lea, senior associate, Bargate Murray @jonathanlea Despite the changes happening in society, the current education system does not develop entrepreneurial skills and thinking. Listening to talented entrepreneurs talk so frankly about their experiences and being able to ask questions and interact with them cannot fail to motivate students and graduates to want to begin their own startup journey.
John Haworth, CEO, Hireducated @Hireducated Tangible role models are of ever-increasing importance as individuals are subject to an ever-increasing gap from inspirational leaders.
Nitzan Yudan, co-founder, Flat-Club @flatclubcom It’s clear that the experience of high profile names is super valuable to raise the profile of entrepreneurship and could help any entrepreneur, but as a student I was most inspired to see others like me that graduated just a few years ago and decided to take the risk and go for it. Not everyone can be Bill Gates, but also not everyone wants to be.
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PLAYING MUSIC? MAKE SURE YOUâ€™RE LICENSED.
Music creates a better working atmosphere 77% of businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and creates a better working environment.* If you play music in your business, it is a legal requirement to obtain the correct music licences. In most instances, a licence is required from both PPL and PRS for Music. PPL and PRS for Music are two separate companies. PPL collects and distributes money for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers. PRS for Music collects
and distributes money for the use of the musical composition and lyrics on behalf of authors, songwriters, composers and publishers. A PPL licence can cost your business as little as 19p per day. For more information on how to obtain your PPL licence visit ppluk.com or call 020 7534 1095. To ďŹ nd out more about how music can work for your business visit musicworksforyou.com. *MusicWorks survey of 1000 people, conducted May 2012.
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Octobers issue of Talk Busines Magazine