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




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11 Editor’s letter


13 News & events 16 Letters

Focus on success 18 Face on the cover Moonpig entrepreneur Nick Jenkins 24 Take one company Inspired Thinking Group 26 Introducing… TB grills an up-and-comer 28 12 steps to success Carly Ward shows us step three


71 The Google gurus Improving your rankings

30 Here come the girls Three businesswomen tell their success stories

77 Stop the press! How to use B2B PR

33 Writing the business book How to stand out from the crowd

80 You’re how much? Managing prospects’ expectations

35 Book reviews 130 The daily grind printed.com’s Nicholas Green

Focus on money 36 Beating a bad rep Recover our banks’ reputations 40 Growing pains Seven steps to profitable growth 45 Go with the cash flow Six top tips 49 Before you sign on the dotted line… First in a new series of legal features

Focus on strategy 51 Baby talk Claire Young on balancing business with a new baby


Focus on marketing 68 The marketing column Kimberly Davis’ marketing MOT

52 How’s your social life? The importance of social media strategy 54 The branding column Rich With on keeping it sexy

Focus on people 85 The people column Lee McQueen on networking 87 The baby boom Maternity cover 90 Culture shock Cultural assumptions in the workplace 95 Take a load off Dealing with executive stress 96 Secret diary of an entrepreneur Caroline Stanbury’s Paris and Milan diary

Focus on technology 98 Enhancing the online experience Building a superior website 103 How smart is your site? Smart phone-compatible websites 105 I’ve got an app for that The best business apps around 110 All together now Collaborative technologies

57 The 50 Shades phenomenon Learning from a marketing marvel

112 Gadgets to sigh for Our favourite cases for tablets and laptops 58 Good things come in micro packages Running a micro business 60 A new lease of life 114 Commercial leases for your business 115 63 Don’t waste your energy Business energy costs 118 64 Lost in translation Entering foreign markets 121 66 A tale of three businesses Social media case studies

Focus on franchise Franchise news Spotlight Cartridge World

Take one franchisee Recognition Express’ Jan Chidley Driving your business Pros and cons of franchising your business

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

Helen Coffey helen.coffey@astongreenlake.com DESIGN

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

An Truong artwork@astongreenlake.com WEB DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Mitchell Finlay mitchell.finlay@astongreenlake.com ADVERTISING MANAGER

Scott Hartley scott.hartley@astongreenlake.com ACCOUNT MANAGERS

Damien Ward damien.ward@astongreenlake.com Trystan Hurley trystan.hurley@astongreenlake.com FINANCE DIRECTOR

Stephen Jones stephen@astongreenlake.com MANAGING DIRECTOR

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

Back to school I don’t know about you, but I definitely have the back to school blues. Who knew I’d still get them when school was but a distant memory? The summer of Olympic glory, bursts of transient sunshine, festivals, holidays and long weekends is officially over. It’s time to turn the ‘out of office’ off for good, put the sandals and sunglasses back in cold storage (literally), and get back to the serious business of, well, business. The back breaking labour of keeping a company going certainly doesn’t disappear over the summer, but things inevitably mellow a bit, with both suppliers and customers unreachable as they head off on vacation. Accompanied this year by Olympic fever, the season has felt like one long street party at times, with real life taking a back seat as celebrations took precedence. So it is natural that the idea of normal life resuming once more can make even the most positive amongst us feel a little melancholic. We must remember though, that with the new “term” also comes fresh opportunities to initiate bold new ideas and ways of doing things, and brand new chances to innovate and win clients. If you can remember back to your school days (tough, I know), the new school year was also an exciting time, where anything seemed possible. See it as a time to re-engage with staff and customers, to improve and set goals for the year ahead; a time for renegotiating with suppliers and chasing new leads. This issue of Talk Business is right behind you, helping to refresh and reinvigorate with ideas and advice to improve your business. Take inspiration from the story of Moonpig founder, Nick Jenkins on page 18, find out how to use PR properly to give your business a facelift on page 77, and peruse some of the best business apps on the market on page 105. And if all else fails, cheer yourself up with some new pens and a novelty eraser for the new term. It always used to work for me. Enjoy,

Helen Coffey 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.

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New faces Caroline Stanbury is a straight-talking, well-connected

Londoner. The founder and CEO of the Gift-Library, Caroline is respected around the world as an authority on luxury gifting and style. Having built a successful personal styling business over ten years, Caroline developed a large and loyal clientele with designers and artisans across the globe. In 2008, Caroline launched the Gift-Library, a bespoke service providing select luxury gifts from more than 100 elite designers. Every single product is handpicked by Caroline.

Zoe Cairns is a social media wizard who helps individuals

and small businesses to create an online awareness. How? By providing in-depth, step-by-step coaching via videos, webinars, and one-to-one mentoring on social media. She has helped many individuals and businesses establish their online presence and attract new clients within their niche, which in turn has increased their business profits and built their email list. Her motto: “content is king, and video is queen”.

Stephen Archer is a founding partner of UK business strategy

and leadership consultancy, Spring Partnerships. With 30 years of business building, marketing and strategic implementation behind him, he has been described as ‘the most accurate forecaster of the current recession in the UK.’ He has consulted for CEOs, boards and senior management of FTSE 100 and multinational companies, including Nestle, GE, KPMG, Carlsberg and Oracle among others. Stephen is also a regular commentator in the media, providing analysis on breaking news affecting businesses.

Neil Thompson is a well seasoned, all-round marketing

specialist. Commercially minded with an insightful and innovative attitude to problem solving, he is high on results and low on maintenance. He started life on the spanners, working in an engineering shop in Bolton, toying with large Meccano industrial gearboxes. After an epiphany he sought out the bright lights of a marketing agency in London. He loves watching the mighty Saints, spoiling his daughter and enjoying a pint of the golden nectar that is Carlsberg Export.

12 September 2012

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News & events



NEW RESEARCH CONDUCTED by ICM on behalf of Boox highlights the misconceptions of the self-employed lifestyle, revealing the true work/life balance of the self-employed worker is far more workcentric. The number of self-employed workers in the UK and Ireland has reached a 20-year high of 4.1 milllion (12% of the working population). These latest results indicate that 24% of self-employed workers take no holiday at all each year, compared to 5% of permanent workers. Additionally, 11% of contractors have never taken a holiday due to work demands. Research suggests that when on holiday they aren’t able to switch work mode off, with 45% of self-employed admitting to working while on holiday, compared to only 23% of those in permanent employment. Phillip Venn, Managing Director of Boox, said: ‘The reality is that when we are in charge of our own business, the stresses and strains of securing our next contract or missing a deadline play a much greater role in our lives. This makes it harder to take time out and if we do manage to get away, retreat anxiety makes it that much more difficult to switch off from our work life.’ However, despite 48% of self-employed workers taking less time off than permanent employees, 56% believe that they still have a better work/ life balance when compared to those in full time employment.

Dates for the diary The Business growth shows 11 September Telford thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk

Data Days Conference 2012 1 October Nhow Hotel, Berlin www.data-days.com

Lectures from two of the world’s leading economists 12 September, 9.30am Cass Business School www.cass.city.ac.uk

The Business growth shows 2 October Maidstone thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk

MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival 19-21 September Sheffield City Hall www.madefestival.com

The Big Business-Get-Ready Event 3 October Cole Court Centre, Twickenham www.fabulous-women.co.uk

The Business growth shows 20 September Birmingham thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk

The Business growth shows 5 October Coventry thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk

Optimize 2012 26 & 27 September Andaz Hotel, Liverpool Street, London www.casewise.com/ optimize2012

The National Franchise Exhibition 5 & 6 October NEC, Birmingham www.franchiseinfo.co.uk

YES Network “Social Media – What Every Start Up Should Know” 27 September Holborn Summit House, London www.yesnetwork.co.uk/book

National Achievers Congress London 2012 5-7 October London Excel Centre www.nationalachieverscongress. co.uk

The Business growth shows 28 September Worcester thebusinessgrowthshow.co.uk Meaning Conference 1 October The Brighton Dome Corn Exchange www.meaningconference.co.uk

Internet Retailing annual conference 9 October Novotel, Hammersmith, London www.screenevents.co.uk/ IR2012/index.html

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News & events



AVOID TUITION FEES THE LATEST FINDINGS have shown that British young people are increasingly choosing to become entrepreneurs rather than going to university. A survey of 16-29-year-olds, conducted by the newly launched social enterprise BizBritain, indicated that around 70% would like to start their own business if they had adequate support. According to BizBritain founder Matt Gubba, the organisation has seen a large increase in the number of young people who are not prepared to commit to the financial burden of university when there is no guarantee that it will result in them landing a well-paid job. Matt Gubba, founder of BizBritain, said: ‘The notion of going to university without any real idea of how a degree is going to be used is fast becoming obsolete. We need to take a fresh look at ways in which business and entrepreneurship can help our next generation of young people to succeed in life, and create value in society.’

For more information, go to: www. BizBritain.org

Barriers to women’s career

progression identified THE CONCEPT OF a single glass ceiling is outdated and no longer reflects the realities working life for women, according to a poll conducted by Ernst & Young. The survey of 1,000 UK working women aged 18-60 revealed that two thirds believe they faced multiple barriers throughout their careers, rather than just a single ceiling on entry to the boardroom. Ernst & Young has identified four key barriers to career progression for today’s working women. These barriers are: age, lack of role models, motherhood, and qualifications and experience.

Liz Bingham, Ernst & Young’s managing partner for people, said: ‘Professional working women have told us they face multiple barriers on their rise to the top. As a result, British business is losing its best and brightest female talent from the pipeline before they have even had a chance to smash the glass ceiling.’ Delving into the findings behind the barriers, the survey identified age – being perceived as too young or too old – as being the biggest obstacle that women face during their careers. Thirty two percent of women questioned said it had impacted on their career progression to date, with 27% saying that they thought it would inhibit their progression in the future. Women in the early stages of their career seemed to be most acutely impacted, with half of respondents between 18 and 23 saying age had been a barrier they’d already encountered in their career.

SMES URGED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OLDER TALENT EMPLOYERS ARE BEING urged to recruit more old talent after new research showed that 65% of jobseekers aged over 50 would be willing to work for free. In a survey of 441 over 50s, the over 50s jobsite skilledpeople.com found that there was a strong willingness to do work experience for no pay, other than expenses, to help secure a new position. Over three quarters (75.5%) of those surveyed said they would accept a lower salary than they had earned in the past, to secure a new full-time or part-time job. Skilledpeople.com’s Managing Director, Keith Simpson, said: ‘It is indicative of the very deep frustration felt by the over 50s that, even with their skills and experience, most would work for nothing. ‘This is good news for small and medium sized businesses who can cherry-pick fantastic older people to fill skills gaps at modest cost. ‘Graduate training schemes and youth internships abound, as the country wrings its hands in dismay at youth unemployment, but what of the forgotten over 50s?’ Skilledpeople.com is run on social enterprise lines to connect businesses looking for experienced, skilled employees with suitable people aged over 50 who are more job-satisfaction orientated than money-motivated. For more information, go to: www.skilledpeople.com

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If you’d like to send us your thoughts about Talk Business, or anything else that’s happening on the SME scene, just get in touch. e: helen.coffey@astongreenlake.com snail mail: Aston Greenlake, 6 Mitre Passage, 8th floor, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0ER

Tweets of

the month… @BradBurton To make your first million you have to first make £1,000... £10,000... £100,000... There are no short cuts. @GeoffAlexander1 Remember “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” @PamMktgNut “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar #quotes @ApprenticeKim Very proud to announce that I’m the official marketing columnist for @ TalkBusinessMag! Follow them and keep a look out! @Rich_Hoot My new article in @TalkBusinessMag...it’s blinkin’ marvellous @LynnSerafinn DELIGHTED to have @TalkBusinessMag as sponsor for #7GGC conference, showing their commitment to #ethics #CSR @MartinRSpiller Submitted an article for @TalkBusinessMag today. Feel like I am about 15 again submitting work for my tutor....hopefully it’s good enough! @BizCircuit Sometimes Being an Entrepreneur Can be Lonely. But it Doesn’t Have to be


After almost a year on the scene, we thought it high time that our thriving Talk Business community had a place to air their opinions on all things business Dear Talk Business, TECH First of all I would like to comment on how relevant SAVVY and helpful the editorial has been for my own

businesses development. I am currently in the process of upgrading the hardware in the office and implementing a more mobile system to enable my staff to work on site or at home. Your piece on ‘All systems go’, outlining the best mobile operating systems, has been a great help as it clearly states the features of the different options in a language that a non-techy such as myself can easily digest. For a company such as my own, which is in its second year of trading, keeping the costs low is a must, so reading an article such as this has given me an insight into the best tech available for my buck! Great stuff and keep up the good work. LETTER OF THE MONTH Yannik Schtott, copywriter (by email)

AT A GLANCE Thank you for sending me the August edition of Talk Business Magazine. I have just had a quick flick through it and I am really impressed with the quality and content. Looking forward to reading it properly later on! Thanks,


www.thelovelyroom.co.uk (by email)

Branding fan

Hi, I really enjoyed Rich’s column last month, as always. In the B2B industry, it’s all too easy to blend in and become one of the crowd. Rich’s points that you should try and stand out, rather than becoming a business clone, were key, I feel. I’m in the process of rebranding my business right now, and the most important thing for us is to have a real personality, that really puts us ahead of the competition who all look the same. I’m not sure we’ll be dancing around the office any time soon though!

Ryan, consultant (by post)

Women on top

Just a quick note to say how much I’m enjoying reading the magazine. It looks classy, is very engaging and the content is appropriate and interesting. I love seeing Julie Meyer on the front cover too – it’s so refreshing to see women on the front cover of a business magazine, especially Julie who has been seminal in the Internet industry. I look forward to the next edition! Anne www.easynet.com (by email)

16 September 2012

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Focus on success

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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER


CARDS RIGHT Nick Jenkins, the man behind legendary personalised card company Moonpig, talks risk taking, redundancies and Russia with Helen Coffey, and reveals why he’ll never be a workaholic


ove it or loath it, there was a time when you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the unconscionably jaunty “Moonpig, dot com!” jingle issuing from the mouth of an ecstatic-looking pig in a space helmet. Seemingly overnight, the previously unheard of personalised card company was all over our TV screens and, before long, all over our mantlepieces proclaiming personalised birthday messages. Moonpig was officially a hit. But not an instant hit, it must be said. In reality, the innovative online business had been slogging it out for five years, reliant purely on word-of-mouth and repeat business, before exploding onto the retail scene with its TV campaign; the rest, as they say, is history. I meet founder Nick Jenkins in central London on a swelteringly hot morning, just days before the Olympics are due to begin in our fair city. It is something of a privilege that he has agreed to an interview, particularly as he tells me he is currently taking time off from business to ‘recharge his batteries’. Somewhat unusually for a super successful entrepreneur (at least in my experience), Nick is not a workhorse with a BlackBerry permanently attached to his hand like a freakish, Terminator-esque extra limb. ‘I’m not a workaholic, I’ve never worked that hard,’ he tells me with a shrug. ‘I try to work

intelligently – as a general rule I try not to do things personally that I could pay someone else to do.’ If not hard work, what then is the secret of his success? ‘The key to the success of it is the product, always has been. It basically does a much better job than a card you buy in the shop, full stop,’ says Nick. You can’t say fairer than that. And with the slow demise of former card giant Clinton finally coming to a head this summer, with the closure of its last 76 shops, it seems the British public agrees.

“There weren’t many people with more experience in the Internet. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”

So tell us, how did Moonpig come about?

I’d always wanted to start my own company. I went off to work after university – I went out to Russia, which was quite exciting. But I always knew I wanted to do my own thing. So when I came back, I left my job and decided to start my own business. It was at the time of the dot com boom, so it seemed logical to do something with the Internet. I came up with a number of different ideas; Moonpig seemed like the most sensible of those.

You knew you wanted to do something online – what next?

At the time there weren’t many people with more experience in the Internet. That was a big advantage. As they say, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed

man is king. And I had at least run a business before – I’d run a subsidiary of Glencore out in Moscow. I narrowed down all the things that could be done on the Internet. If I was selling digital cameras, I realised that I would end up with lots of price competition, and that would ultimately squeeze my margins; because the camera I’m selling is no different from the one in the shop. I had to be able to create something online that was different: certainly different from everything available in the shops. That told me that I had to do something to do with personalisation. It was a great idea, but it worked because of the timing with the growth of the Internet.

What other advantages did Moonpig have?

“Giving up your job in banking and setting up an innovative dot come idea is risky on so many levels”

It was a small product that could fit through a letterbox, and it meant that it could be delivered while people were out – it could be posted not couriered. Greetings cards are a very sentimental product; if you can get it right, if you can produce a card that shows that you’ve really, really thought about it, it’s just worth so much more money than an ordinary card you buy in the shop. That made it quite a high margin product. The other great advantage of the Internet is you get paid up front and you pay your suppliers after 60 days. It’s a perfect business model.

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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER

Any serious struggles along the way?

The biggest challenge of all was getting customers. Any muppet can set up a business that does something; getting enough customers is another matter. Because the equation is: what does it cost you to get a customer, and what is that customer worth to you over time. And what the customer is worth is a factor of two things: are they going to come back, and are they going to tell their friends? The wonderful thing about Moonpig is that it was inherently a viral product, in that with a card, I buy it to give to someone else. Most of our business in the first three or four years really came through word of mouth.

“Any muppet can set up a business that does something; getting enough customers is another matter”

are entrepreneurs?’ But there are so many different types. There are some that are complete workaholics – but I’m not a workaholic, I’ve never worked that hard. I try to work intelligently – as a general rule I try not to do things personally that I could pay someone else to do. And then I focus on the things only I could do, and that seems to work. But the most dangerous way to start a business is to try to invent a new product. It’s the most risky way of doing it. Moonpig was in a sense a new product. People buy cards, and it’s an improvement on an existing product, but to some extent it was a fairly innovative idea.

Would you say you’re a risk taker then?

Yeah. The risk doesn’t bother me. If you open a bread shop, you always know that people buy bread – provided that your bread is OK, and at least as good as the next person’s bread shop, you’ll make money. Your chances of having a complete runaway success is greater if it’s innovative, but your chance of success is probably greater if you’re working in an existing market. Most people that make money do so by starting a business in their own field, so they know the market, they know the customers. Giving up your job in banking and setting up an innovative dot come idea is

Did the business grow quickly?

It was just a steady growth of 30-40% a year, because our customers were staying, and they were getting their friends to come. And that made up for the fact that I struggled for the first four years to find any cost-effective form of marketing. We just relied entirely on viral growth, which was slow. That’s why it took us five years to make any money. But I realised that it was going to be cheaper to allow the business to grow virally than it was to try and grow it by spending on marketing initially. Then finally when we’d broken even, we decided to experiment with TV advertising. And, by good fortune, Moonpig cards seemed to be a very good product for advertising on television.

Where did the start-up money come from?

I had money of my own which I’d made from my Russian business. I had shares in Glencore which I sold. And I raised some money – £2.5m in total.

Is the key to being a successful entrepreneur having a strong product, or is it dependent on the personality and ambition of the entrepreneur? It’s a mixture of all those things. People say: ‘What type of people

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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER

in the keys and walk away. There is an enormous sense of responsibility to your employees, and you don’t have that option of just throwing in the towel.

the rent and put food on the table for six months, you’re going to struggle.

What would your best piece of advice be to start-ups trying to make it in today’s tough economic climate?

How do you switch off from that feeling of responsibility? I’ve never thought about it really…

It just comes naturally?

As long as you feel as though you’ve done your best. Inevitably it’s always there, the ideas and thoughts are always sort of whirring away – but I think that’s the same with people in employment as well as entrepreneurs.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what do you think you’d be up to?

risky on so many levels. But it works for some! I was never that worried about the business from the point of losing all my money – I’m not married, I don’t have any children. It’s easy to shrug off your own misfortune. It’s harder if your business failure means you take your children out of their school, or you have to sell the house or your daughter’s pony or whatever. But when it’s just you, it’s fine. We start in life with nothing.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Probably that there is no ceiling. You’re limited only by your own ability. That’s not true in a normal job – at a certain point you come up against your boss. Also the fact that it keeps you on your toes; you can’t cruise in the same way.

Anything you don’t like about it?

When things are going wrong, it’s very difficult to get out of it. You can’t just throw

I can’t imagine being in the corporate world anymore. I’ve always naturally gravitated towards doing my own thing.

Do you think everyone wants to be an entrepreneur these days, what with Dragons’ Den et al?

A lot of people aspire to it but don’t ever quite get out of their comfort zone. It’s very difficult to give up a well-paid job and venture out into the unknown. I know so many people who would love to do it, and they always say they’re waiting for their big idea. The truth is it’s just too difficult to give up a comfortable well-paid job. Very often the catalyst for doing something is redundancy. Redundancy can be a really positive thing for some people.

What do you think stops people?

The biggest problem is money. I never underestimate how lucky I was that I had money. If I hadn’t had that money from Russia, the business wouldn’t have worked. I frequently come across people who want to start their own business, and they’re starting it with nothing. It can be done, but it’s incredibly hard. If you can’t pay

“If you have any slack in the business whatsoever, make the cut early”

I can just commiserate! I suppose the only piece of advice I would give would be that if you have any slack in the business whatsoever, make the cut early. A lot of people are very reluctant to let go of people or to start that process. But the fact is you just need to take a deep breath and get it done as quickly as possible, because otherwise you are draining money.

Did you ever have to make those tough decisions?

Yes – I had to make some redundancies in Moonpig early on, because we weren’t going to survive. It’s not easy, but I realised it’s not my responsibility to feed people. A lot of people fall into the trap of believing that they need to put food on their employees’ tables. The truth is, most of these people will find jobs elsewhere. It’s more a question of how you go about it, and giving people ample time, and treating them well.

Are you working on any business ideas at the moment? At the moment I’m just taking a bit of time off. I get approached by lots of ideas, but I’m just trying to avoid them all! I’m taking some time to recharge my batteries.

Do you think you’ll go back into the entrepreneurial sphere again? Almost certainly, because it’s good fun!

My life I’m watching: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen I’m reading: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese I’m listening to: I’ve got to go back and listen to a CD of Alison Balsom I’m surfing: I’m not a big social networker actually – more than anything it would probably be Youtube

22 September 2012

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05/09/2012 13:46

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11/09/2012 10:54

Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY

That’s inspired We’re getting all inspired this month by Inspired Thinking Group. Here founder Simon Ward shares something of the business journey that has seen him win huge high street clients, and achieve £37m turnover in just three years

A “Quitting was never an option, that is for sure”

young start-up company that comes in second only to Cath Kidson in terms of annual growth has to be doing something right. Right? This is precisely what Inspired Thinking Group, the brainchild of Simon Ward, did last year – and with 2012’s projected turnover hitting the £37m mark, it shows no signs of slowing down. The inspiration for ITG, the marketing company with a difference, came while Simon was working in marketing himself. ‘I realised there were so many

ways in which marketing could be improved. Firstly, nothing was joined up and this caused problems,’ he says. ‘I could not believe how disorganised it all was. There was also an obvious barrier as marketers and IT technicians do not speak the same language.’ These obvious foibles inherent in his industry convinced Simon that there was another, much more logical and productive way of doing marketing: one that joined the dots. And clients agreed. Right off the bat, Simon was paying for the business by

winning business: ‘We started generating turnover by taking on some work, doing artwork and one or two other bits. ‘We won some business and generated some more cash. So, all the money was self-generated.’ Hence ITG was born, a company that used the latest digital and data technologies to help consumer-facing businesses improve their marketing operations. The challenges were there from the outset, as they always are: but failure was simply not an option according to Simon.

24 September 2012

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05/09/2012 13:50

Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY

Vital statistics Date the company was founded: October 2009 Start up capital: £0 Current turnover: £37m Current net profit: £3.1m Growth rate: 75% per year No. of employees when company started: Three Current workforce: 200 Biggest achievement: We have quite a large shareholder base, and I do like to share the wealth

‘Getting any new business off the ground is hard work. Trying to get the momentum at the same time as building processes and procedures is very difficult.’ Having had a fairly long and illustrious career already in business, Simon was well aware of the task at hand, and had the confidence in his ideas to ensure they stayed the course. ‘Quitting was never an option, that is for sure. We had to give up some of our ideas, but the core strategic values, the reason why we set up ITG, were well thought out, well considered and strategically correct.’ Simon puts this success at overcoming obstacles down to ITG’s remarkable passion and commitment to achieving their aims – right from the outset until a project is complete. He says: ‘When you hit a barrier, as you always do, you just have to look at it from a completely different perspective. ‘If people can see that you’ve got that drive, ambition and sheer, bloody determination to really make a difference, most people will give your ideas a go. Especially if they can see that you believe in it yourself.’ This self-belief has certainly worked wonders for ITG if its client list is anything to go by; it has won some of the biggest names in the consumer marketplace, despite being in its inaugural three years. Boots, Sainsbury’s, KFC, and Marks and Spencer (to name but a few) have all come knocking. This sort of

“Culture is the most important thing; if you get the culture right, the whole business will work”

speedy success story can leave one open-mouthed in disbelief one moment, and on hands and knees begging for the magic formula the next. Simon’s best advice for businesses looking to win in today’s market is surprisingly straightforward and refreshingly honest: oldfashioned hard work. ‘If you are willing to work the long hours to get yourself a core base then it pays off. We had to work 20 hours a day for the first year. If you are willing to work hard then the world is a great place, recession or not.’ A solid work ethic underpins everything ITG does; this is no “how to make a fast buck” operation, but rather a labour of love from people who are driven by the desire to make things work better. If he wasn’t an entrepreneur, Simon confesses he would ‘probably be driving someone else mad’. ‘My brand of passion where you “get up and go” would not work in the corporate world. I always want to make something happen, and I have found that colleagues in the corporate world always find a way of stopping you.’ Luckily, he is putting all his energies into implementing ideas and finding ways to continually drive ITG forward – a pastime that suits him down to the ground. ‘I would much rather answer to myself and set my own rules and regulations. Within ITG, we’ve all got direct responsibilities, but as a business you can set the

standards, tone, culture and the attitude right from the word go. Culture is the most important thing; if you get the culture right, the whole business will work.’ It isn’t all a bed of roses though, as any business – be it a start-up or a seasoned entrepreneur – knows all too well. ‘There are very high highs when things go right, and very low lows when they don’t,’ says Simon. ‘It can be quite soul destroying when something does not quite go your way, but you have to keep believing. If people can see that you believe, then there’s a bigger chance your ideas will succeed.’ The moral of the story is, seemingly, to believe in yourself and in your business. Simon and his team clearly believe in ITG 100%, and make no mistake: they have plans, big plans. ‘We have such a small percentage of such a huge market that there is plenty of space to grow. There are plenty of opportunities within the Inspired Thinking Group services and core software products. ‘We’ve hardly started; we can, and will, keep getting bigger.’ Fighting talk indeed, and looking at what he’s managed to achieve in just three short years, undoubtedly on the money. Feeling inspired? I know I am… Contact: www.inspiredthinkinggroup.com

My life I’m watching: I’m an obsessive film watcher; I watch at least one film a day. The last film I went to see in the cinema, rather shockingly, was Mirror Mirror as I took my daughter I’m reading: I listen to audio books in my car. At the moment I am listening to Stephen Fry’s autobiography I’m listening to: The only music I listen to is my daughter’s. She is often in my car and I let her control the radio I’m surfing: I’m a huge sports fan and like to surf sites like BBC Sport and Sky Sports

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05/09/2012 13:50

Focus on success UP-AND-COMING

would be very disappointed – so why put up with instant tea? I would compare your standard dusty teabag with instant coffee, whereas our whole leaf teabags are like whole bean coffee. You really can taste the difference.

What’s your advice to other young entrepreneurs?

Do as much research as you can, have a look at the market, talk to people and even try to talk to buyers. Be prepared to change your idea with the feedback you get. Start small and don’t invest too much; do local markets and print your own labels.

What’s the future of The *TeaShed (in an ideal world)?

This month it’s the turn of Shell LiveWIRE finalist Jules Quinn, who’s bringing back the nation’s favourite drink with her online, design-led teaware company, The *TeaShed


JULES QUINN Jules Quinn was still at university when she came up with The *TeaShed concept as part of her fashion marketing final year project. Spotting a gap in the market for trendy tea, the idea was born for a design-led tea company, born and brewed in Britain. Well, Geordie land to be more precise. With quality whole leaf tea in silky pyramid bags, packaged innovatively into paper cups (so you already have a receptacle with which to drink your brew), The *TeaShed packs a serious punch…

Where does The *TeaShed fit into today’s marketplace? Nowadays if you were served instant coffee in a café, you

To be national, and then international. To keep going with exciting new products and always bringing our customers something new. Oh, and also to do more pop-up *Tea Sheds!

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you’d be a… I don’t think I could do anything other than run my own business…

What’s been your worst ever job?

Haha, I definitely shouldn’t answer this question!

What’s top of your bucket list? Take my mum and dad on a cruise. Since I was young it’s something I have always said I wanted to do when I earned enough money. I’m not sure they actually want to go on one, but they are going!

What have been your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

It’s hard not being able to see your friends and go out on the weekend because you have a market or work to do the next day. In some ways you do give up “being young”, but I know that three years down the line, I will be much better off than if I had spent these years out every weekend drinking.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? My dogs barking. So annoying but so cute.

How much does money motivate you?

Money alone is definitely not what drives me. I think it’s quite hard to pull apart what is motivating; ultimately it’s the success of The *TeaShed. This is determined by the size of the business, market share, growth and of course profitability. Therefore I think it is money among other things that motivates me.

What’s been your proudest moment?

Telling my mum, dad and sister the size of the John Lewis order. They have believed in me and my teabags from day one, and it was so nice to show them that they were right. Contact: www.the-teashed.co.uk

My life I’m watching: Dont trust the B**** in Apartment 23 I’m reading: I have a million magazines still to read/ pull bits out of – these are great for keeping up with trends and getting ideas I’m listening to: My sister’s iPod I’m surfing: Our website. We have just redone it so I am checking for any more improvements

26 September 2012

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05/09/2012 13:54

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06/07/2012 11:37

Focus on success 12 STEPS

“Purpose, vision and goals” is the name of the game this month, as we take a look at Carly Ward’s third step on the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur

The steps to success:

“What is going to make you bounce out of bed in the morning? What do you love so much that you would do it for free?”

No one ever got rich just to get rich. Charlie Mullins is a prime example of this. Charlie is London’s top plumber and founded Pimlico Plumbers. He is a multi-millionaire and employs more than 200 people. From the age of nine he had a passion for plumbing and bunked off school so that he could go to his local plumbers yard and hang out. This is how he started on his entrepreneurial journey – with an obsession for plumbing, a desire and passion so strong that nothing was going to stop him. There is no doubt Charlie enjoys being wealthy. However, without that life purpose of being a plumber, he probably would never have been rich. We all need to have a purpose in life. Some find it by accident, some just know what they are meant to be doing, like Charlie did. We are all here for a reason and we must seek out that reason. Your purpose in life could be a desire to change something, invent something that doesn’t yet exist, to improve something: anything that you really feel very strongly about and think you might be in a position to change. It needs to be something that excites you – what is going to make you bounce out of bed in the morning? What do you love so much that you would do it for free? Can you make money doing it? It is essential to do something you love, otherwise you either won’t do it or you will do it badly. No one becomes successful by doing things badly.

Step 3 Once you can determine your life purpose, you can then start to visualise what it would look like if you brought it all to life. My vision is that every young person aged16 to 18 has the chance of learning entrepreneurial skills, so that they have another career option in life. I can see many more businesses being started than ever before, and the UK economy turning around with more businesses creating more employment opportunities. I can see it. You need to be able to see exactly what your journey destination is, how it looks, what’s been achieved, and even how it’s changed the world! In order to get to your journey destination (your vision), you must set goals. It’s rather like setting off on a journey across Europe in your car without a Satnav or road map. If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up in the wrong place. Goals keep you on track and give you achievable milestones along the way. Cut it down into small bites but set the large goal first. You have to start somewhere. As Julie Meyer once said to me: ‘Start small, think big and move fast’. Great advice, and I use it all the time. Only the top 3% of successful people in the world set goals – don’t be one of the 97% of unsuccessful people who don’t. Contact: www.yesnetwork.co.uk Twitter @carlyyes @yesteam

28 September 2012

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05/09/2012 16:42

Focus on success THE INTERVIEW

HERE COME THE GIRLS Three women, three nationalities, three companies. Cecile Bonnefond, Mairead Molloy and Jackie Golden are very different businesswomen, but they all have one thing in common – they are at the very top of their game


heir chosen businesses span high class dating, luxury Champagne, and project management consultancy. They have their origins in Ireland, France and the U.S. They have different approaches, attitudes and leadership styles; but regardless, these international businesswomen have well and truly made it to the boardroom and proven that there is no place for ‘frailty, thy name is woman’-type thinking in the 2012 global marketplace. First up we have Mairead Molloy from Ireland, client director and founder of Berkeley International, the world’s leading and fastest growing introduction agency for wealthy professionals. Next is Cecile Bonnefond of France, a long-standing prominent figure in the French luxury sector who has just taken the reins as CEO of prestigious Champagne houses PiperHeidsieck and Charles Heidsieck. Finalement, from across the pond we have Jackie Golden, currently VP of Global Services for AtTask, which is just the latest in a series of high profile business roles which have seen her grow profit margins for some of the biggest companies in the world. Let’s go and say hi…

Luck of the Irish: Mairead Molloy, Berkeley International founder

Berkeley International was born from spotting a niche in the market for high-end luxury introduction agencies. The company idea was already there, and I just developed it, so I didn’t need any money starting out. You don’t always need money to start, just a phone and a computer. Trying to grow the membership, and being able to pick out the people who were suitable and those that weren’t, was tricky at the beginning. Also, people are very fussy! They say one thing and mean another. You become more astute and aware as time goes on. You’re dealing with human nature, and that’s difficult. I’m a networker so I actually went out and met people to grow my client base. It wasn’t hard, it was just a lot of work. I worked 16 hour days at the beginning. The freedom is the best bit of being an entrepreneur. The ability to use whatever talent you feel you have to the best of your abilities, without bureaucracy. For me, there’s nothing hard about it. It’s a joy, because it’s

“The freedom is the best bit of being an entrepreneur”

what I love. Obviously it’s a lot of responsibility, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My advice: work hard, keep your feet on the ground, take risks for sure. Don’t invest too heavily. Have an intelligent eye and be a hard worker, be one step ahead of the game, keep an eye on your competitors. Be frugal, and don’t get into debt – if you’re in debt then you’re not free.

30 September 2012

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05/09/2012 13:59

Focus on success THE INTERVIEW

French connection: Cecile Bonnefond, Piper-Heidsieck CEO

Many of my family members are in business, so it was an obvious option. What I wanted to do was to work in the food industry, because it was about daily choice from the consumer. When I began it was the start of people being aware that what you put in your body has to do with your health, and it also has to do with your social life. There are a lot of motivations beyond hunger. I found that fascinating. I’ve been in the food and drink business for over 30 years and I still find it absolutely great. Especially working globally – you realise how different it is country by country and continent by continent. Moving to Champagne was in some ways the same because what you do with grapes is not so very different from what you do with corn or milk. What makes it very

different is the fact you are talking about French luxury, which means a lot of heritage. If you think about PiperHeidsieck it’s been around since 1785. 1785! We still had a King and a Queen. Looking at what made it possible for me to progress – certainly the word passion would come. Passion, work hard and seize opportunities. There’s not one CEO model. Everyone goes at it with their own personality. But there are some of the obvious competencies – know your business, listen to your clients, respect your consumers, be a good leader. We in France have a reputation for cooking, cuisine, perfume, everything which has to do with the art de vivre (the art of living), and if you’re lucky enough to be involved in that area, it’s a big honour. It is very demanding, but it’s also very enjoyable.

“I’ve been in the food and drink business for over 30 years and I still find it absolutely great”

American Dream: Jackie Golden, AtTask VP of Global Services

“You really do get very quick at identifying the right questions to ask and how to get to the bottom of things”

My degree is in business. I was always one of those people that every time something was manual, I thought: ‘There’s got to be a better way!’ So I’d go and look for a system, and I’d learn a programming language, and I’d start programming to figure out a way to make our jobs easier. I used my business background and my financial background and my love of technology and went out and started my consulting career. I ran across AtTask, and got a call from the founder. I thought he was calling to hire me to consult, and he wanted to hire me full-time. AtTask started because the founder had a company and wanted a project management solution to manage all the million things that were going

on – marketing, IT, finance...It helps organisations to realise where the waste is in people, time, and money. I’ve been in the consulting business for 15 years now, and you see a lot of companies, a lot of different models, a lot of different ways of approaching the market. When you see that much, you really do get very quick at identifying the right questions to ask and how to get to the bottom of things straight away. Ever since I’ve been at senior director level, I’ve usually been the only woman in the room. I speak to customers all the time, and every VP I’m speaking to is male. You have to play it very differently as a woman. Unless I’ve got short hair and look like a guy, when I walk into a room of men I have to intellectually stay on top of my game, and actually outsmart them to earn their respect.

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07/08/2012 09:54

Focus on success BUSINESS BOOKS

and, more importantly, your wisdom and views on key issues within the market.

Once upon a time…

No ghost writing please

How do you make your business book unique and ensure it stands out from the hundreds of thousands on offer? Leading book coach Mindy Gibbins-Klein shares her know-how

Customers want to hear your own beliefs, in your own words. This doesn’t mean you should go out and look for a ghost writer to do the hard work for you though. It’s a common misconception that using a ghost writer will save a significant amount of time. To achieve a really accurate portrayal of the topic, you would need to spend time briefing the writer, then looking at various drafts, making comments and amendments and reviewing it again. With the right plan, structure, techniques and guidance, anyone can write a great book in as little as 40 hours.

Marketing is not enough

“To get a real competitive advantage you need to get vocal as well”

I often hear business people saying that, as the market has been so badly hit by the recession, they can’t really afford to take time out to write a book. My response is, quite simply, you can’t afford not to. It’s precisely when times get tough that customers start scrutinising their purchases and looking for the best value for their money. In a market that is already competitive, shrinking demand means fewer pounds flowing around, and those pounds will

go to the exceptional companies, those that stand out. I write this because time and time again I see truly inspirational thought leaders lurking in the shadows when they should be up there on their soapbox, demonstrating why they are the leading light in their field. In a downturned market, you need to be making a big impact by being bold and opinionated in order to stand out. You need to be able to share experiences and knowledge

Differentiation can obviously be achieved with marketing, but to get a real competitive advantage, you need to get vocal as well. It is impossible to delegate the critical task of thought leadership to someone else. What we desperately need at the moment is REAL thought leadership: content which asserts your views and opinions on important issues and provides a vision that inspires confidence in both you and your business. Think about the business leaders that stand out in your mind. Chances are, they have been writing, speaking and quoted in the market. Being visible and vocal is the only way to raise your credibility and stand out from the crowd. It goes beyond strategic marketing; this way you get your own voice heard. It shows faith in yourself and your brand and that is very attractive to a customer. You’re probably thinking: it can’t be as easy at that. I can assure you, it is. It is exactly this kind of boldness that will lift your book and your unique message over and above the thousands of competing titles on offer. The real question is, are you willing to rise to the challenge? Contact: www.mindygk.com

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05/09/2012 14:04

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05/09/2012 16:45

Focus on success BOOK REVIEWS


A proven way to win business and create a following by Kevin Allen


Whether you are pitching your company, services, ideas, or simply trying to convince a friend to try a new restaurant, veteran ad-man Kevin Allen argues that success is contingent, almost exclusively, on your ability to tap into the unspoken emotional motivation of the person on the receiving end – their hidden agenda. In this Wall Street Journal best seller, Allen offers the blueprint to elucidating the not-so-obvious motivations and desires of a client.

He says: The single most important thing I’ve learned is that there is no magic formula, trick or technique of hypnotic persuasion that will make people do anything you say like a bunch of zombies. Instead, behind every decision to buy is an unspoken emotional motivation. People don’t follow you because they’ve been hoodwinked; they follow you because they believe in you. This book is about how to unlock your target’s hidden agenda and connect your core strengths, values, and ambitions with your prospect in a way that resonates, engages, wins.

We say: Split into three sections labelled Who?, What? and How?, this book is designed to help anyone and everyone find a formula for connecting with prospects’ unspoken emotional desires, therefore winning them as clients. Allen’s theories are based on his many years as a pitch man for some of the top ad campaigns, and he obviously knows his stuff. What remains to be seen is whether his natural gifts for genuinely empathising with clients and “getting” them in terms of their hidden agendas, can be emulated by less sensitive, insightful souls than he.

The Hidden Agenda is published by Bibliomotion, priced at £20.99 in hardback original


A handbook for 21st century business by Will McInnes


Culture Shock is published by Wiley, priced at £14.99 in hardback original and e-book

Business has changed profoundly – fuelled by aggressively advancing technology and a volatile global economy. And a new generation of workforce are looking for something different. So why has most business culture remained unchanged? Will McInnes, MD of Nixon McInnes, is here to make a change – he wants us all to work in places that are supportive, open, conducive to creativity, motivating and fun. In Culture Shock he maps out ways to create an uplifting work culture, and to understand, mould and implement a 21st century business model.

He says: We have to start operating our businesses in new ways. Because what good business has to give is so, so needed. In this book you will find out how different companies are doing things better, right now. Not theories, but real world realities. The benefits of these new progressive business practices are substantial and broad – from improved financial measures like lower costs, higher customer lifetime value, through to the less measurable but more meaningful, like providing purpose and satisfaction to people and helping the world become more sustainable.

We say: You can’t help but be fired up by McInnes’ call to action: ‘We need you. Come and change the world.’ The whole book is designed to inspire and excite, proving that doing things differently really does help businesses thrive, and that this evolution of the business model is integral if we are to move past former economic mistakes. Outlining a manifesto, which includes democratic decision making, open book accounting, social media tools and “change velocity”, the idea of responding and adapting quickly to stay ahead of the competition, Culture Shock provides practical steps to implement radical change in your business today.

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11/09/2012 15:02

Focus on money


Stephen Archer, business analyst and director of Spring Partnerships, takes a look at how the banks can recover their reputation after the economic turmoil of recent years


“It should be equally important to determine whether candidates have the values and integrity to suit the job”

here are continued intakes of breath, tutting and shaking of heads at the antics of the banks. Barclays is in for the harshest criticism after the scandal a few months ago, but the banking community have been viewed as villains ever since Northern Rock was the first to have the wheels come off in 2007 – yes, it’s nearly five years since this all kicked off. Incredibly, the Bank of England has also become tainted by the latest scandal, and of course politicians cannot escape the howls of derision as their unseen hand in banking affairs is nonetheless detected. Let’s put a few less mentioned facts out there on Barclays. Firstly, that $450bn fine: $75bn of this was by the FSA, but the rest was US regulators, so let us remember that the bank is in the global cross hairs, not just the

UK. Though the bank has been accused of casino banking and mixing its investment and retail balance sheets, the rate-fixing problem related to the whole of Barclays and its relationship with the wider interbank market. Let’s also remember that, with Government support, Barclays bought the wreckage of Lehman Brothers in 2008 – so far the biggest bank failure in history. Diamond, his COO and the chairman resigned after the scandal broke, but will the removal of the head cure the rot among the other 140,000 employees? As is so often the case, the leadership carries the can (rather faster than politicians usually do), so that’s OK then – or is it? Do we really understand what has gone wrong? How far do the problems extend beyond and beneath the senior leadership? How do we prevent

such things happening again? Judging by the repetitiveness of bank management errors, it seems that the lessons are either not being learned or not learned fast enough. No matter what the failure, be it RBS under Goodwin or Barclays under Diamond, we put down the root cause of the failure as leadership. But how can we say it is leadership when a) Diamond had achieved significant financial results for Barclays and b) it was not him personally that fixed the rates? It appears that he was an effective leader, he got things done and huge numbers of people were marshalled to achieve good results for the bank. So was it a case of one error that he was punished for? This is highly improbable, which means that Diamond is what I call an EBL – an effective but bad leader.

36 September 2012

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11/09/2012 13:49

Focus on money BANK REPUTATION

We can point to many others in history in this category. Robert Maxwell is a great example. Generally, only effective leaders make it to the top, but because of narcissism, insecurities or other personal flaws, they are often really bad leaders. There are IBLs but they don’t last long. EGLs, well, we need more of them. More of the likes of Ian Cheshire, Lord Patten, Digby Jones, Barbara Cassani etc. Leadership effectiveness skills are well understood, demonstrable and in most cases trainable too. Not all of the great business leaders would be labelled as “born leaders” and not being a born leader is not necessarily an impediment to progress. But what defines a “good” rather than an effective leader? This is harder to measure, and the problem we

“It seems that the lessons are either not being learned or not learned fast enough”

have is that generally leaders are assessed on effectiveness and results. How they got the results and the price of what may be unacceptable or unworthy practice is very rarely evaluated. For example: some very successful businesses have very high staff turnover. It is a cost that may be “blind-eyed” if the results are good but it is a sign that leadership is not matched by followship and that the leadership is not sustainable. Bad leaders usually preside over, create, or tolerate a bad culture. Tellingly, before Diamond resigned he said that the conduct of the fixers was not in line with ‘the values or culture of Barclays’. This was one of the most significant statements that he made and it has not been picked up enough by investigators since. What he

was really admitting was that, given the amount of time that the fixing had been going on for, it was in fact exactly in line with the culture. What is culture? It’s “the way we do things around here”. Leaders may set the culture by their explicit instruction, tolerance and the sorts of things they reward. In doing so, the leaders set the cultural tone. This is why it can be very hard for the replacement leader to correct the flaws. They often have to remove far more management to enable progress – removing more leaders removes the disciples of the bad culture. Good culture in turn is a reflection of good values that are brought to life, day after day. It cannot be lip service or an act. It has to be authentic. When Diamond was hired, was he hired for his previous achievements or his values? How were these assessed? This brings us to the crunch question. How do we prevent this happening again? Clearly we need talent: skills for the business and the softer skills of leadership. But when interviewing it should be equally important to determine whether candidates have the values and integrity to suit the job. So the methods of recruitment, as directed by boards, will have to be expanded to gain far deeper insight into people. But this cannot be done before governing boards also assess the values and culture that is going to deliver the best results for the business, and in turn what leadership skills, characteristics and values are essential in senior management to deliver integrity as well as results. We really do have to start at the top, and right now Mike Rake, deputy chairman of Barclays, should be doing some soul searching of the sort that is not habitual in governing boards. Contact: www.springpartnerships.com

38 September 2012

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05/09/2012 14:23

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Step 2 – Energy: determination, passion, inspiration

The next step is to have a clear vision, purpose and set of values that engages everyone and gives the business an energy surge. Don’t be tempted to opt for a “cookie cutter” vision either plagiarised from another company, or to impose it on people without giving them the opportunity to respond. You need to create an authentic vision and purpose that is true for you, share it openly and allow your employees to challenge it, contribute to it and get their thumbprint on it. Only then will people share the future of the business. This shared purpose will be infectious and seep into conversations with customers and prospects, enabling sales at an unprecedented level. It also enables support staff and suppliers to experience being a part of your business and communicate your brand powerfully with all stakeholders.

Is your business achieving profitable growth? Ishreen Bradley, managing director of Bizas and co-founder of My Business Adventure, shares seven steps to make it happen

Growing pains W

ith news that the UK is back in recession, you could argue that entrepreneurs don’t have much cause for positivity. Many are complaining that it is hard to grow their business in these tough times, which is understandable. However, while market conditions have been better, they are not an excuse for lack of growth. Profitable growth is achievable even in the toughest of economic circumstances. By following a simple sevenstep approach, entrepreneurs

can go beyond the conversations and circumstances that hinder growth and start to realise their business ambitions.

Step 1 – Direction

Step one is to set the direction of the business. Having a onepage business plan outlining a clear vision, purpose, goals and quarterly milestones for each business area will enable a leadership team to engage with the future of the company, understand their personal accountability and view the company’s performance in line with its goals.

“Do you spend money on a whim, only to find that you don’t have enough to pay the bills next month?”

Step 3 – Finance: get the basics right

We are all in business to make money, so it is critical that we manage the basics of our financial health and monitor how we are doing. Review the costs in your business against what is needed to deliver your plan. Identify and remove any non-value adding costs and re-negotiate supplier prices where possible. Look at how you can do things more effectively and if you can improve efficiency. Have you invested in having accurate financial reporting at a frequency that fits the rhythm of your business? For some businesses, you need to count the cash daily, for others it could be weekly or monthly. Finally, do you have a financial forecast against which to track cash flow, or do you spend money on a whim, only to find that you don’t have enough to pay the bills next month?

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Step 4 – Your brand: invest in marketing to stay competitive and visible

There’s no point in having the most beautiful dress if you keep it in the wardrobe. If you don’t market your business, how will people know about the benefits of working with you? You need to track the return on your investment with your marketing and reallocate funds to marketing activities that result in profits.

Step 5 – Nail them: hold onto existing customers

This step is all about making sure you are managing relationships with your customers so well that they keep working with you. Are

you offering the best possible service? Are you delivering on your promises? Have you followed up to understand their experience of doing business with you and used that as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship, looking at how else you can serve them?

Step 6 – One and all: get everyone involved

This applies when things are tough and when they are going well. It is often said that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. This is very true in business. Of course, one must be careful to share the problem in a responsible way, so your team can actually do something about it – or they can see a way forward.

Step 7 – Win: look for opportunities to leapfrog your competition

Smart business people are always looking to grow. What is your competition doing, and what can you do to leapfrog over them? These seven steps, diligently applied, will ensure your business grows ahead of the competition – whatever the circumstances; whatever is happening in your industry or the economy.

“Reallocate funds to marketing activities that result in profits”

Forme Appre and m supers Davis her se showi the rip from t

Contact: www.mybusinessadventure.com www.bizas.co.uk

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he Virtual Business Centre is a family operated telephone answering and ‘virtual’ business Services Company, located in beautiful rural surroundings in Wiltshire. Over the past decade they have successfully grown their business by providing flexible telephony and support services - allowing clients to concentrate on growing their business whilst the friendly experienced VBC team answer their calls – truly providing a level of professionalism that all companies should expect.

Focused on our customers

Claire said “When we first set up VBC we worked out that about 90% of business transactions take place through initial telephone contact. We therefore decided to focus our efforts on working with SME and mediumsized clients, where we could make an immediate difference to their business in the way that their telephone calls are handled. All we then had to do was recruit the right call handlers.”

Professional, capable staff

The business has been successful by recruiting a team of professional support staff, providing flexible working as a means of attracting highly capable, enthusiastic and committed staff to work for The Virtual Business Centre. Claire said “As a busy working mother of three, I immediately saw the huge benefits of recruiting staff who maybe cannot fit into a typical corporate 8-6 working day because of family commitments, but who still want to contribute to the professional world. Recruiting a team based around such flexibility is a win-win situation all round. We get excellent staff and our clients get very professional, committed people handling their calls.”

When every call counts

Evidence suggests that 80% of callers hang up when their call is diverted to voicemail, even worse 70% of first time callers will not ring back if they get an engaged tone. It is therefore

reassuring to Claire’s clients to know that whilst they are busy getting on with their business, we will handle each of their calls personally and professionally. So the message is clear, The Virtual Business Centre provides an absolutely critical service to its clients. When over 1 in 3 businesses are unable to answer all their incoming calls, maybe it is time for them to ring the changes by calling Claire! “We can have clients set up very quickly using our state-of-the-art systems. In fact, we can be ready to take your calls within a single working day. This means that if you phone us today, you needn’t miss that vital call tomorrow”. Claire added. For further information please visit www.virtualbusinesscentre.com or call Claire Brewerton on 01666 511340. Alternatively, please send your enquiry via email at enquiries@ virtualbusinesscentre.com.

ê Sales Order Processing ê Disaster Recovery ê Holiday Cover ê Overflow Calls ê Event and Exhibition Response Handling ê Advertising Response Handling ê Recruitment Response Handling ê Virtual pa ê Brochure Response Handling and Fulfilment ê Telephone Answering for Franchises

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Focus on money TOP TIPS

grant credit to your customers it is costing you cash flow (as well as real money). Every time you negotiate credit with your suppliers it improves your cash flow (and saves you money). Credit terms should be negotiated early on, in your initial sales meetings. Make it your goal to be stingy when granting credit to your customers and pushy when negotiating credit with your suppliers. For new customers, ask them to pay on invoice, or in 14 days, before you go to 30 days. To help customers pay quickly, offer them discounts for early settlement and consider penalties for late payment (you are legally entitled to do this; go to the Business Link website and search on “late payment”).

2) Put together realistic cash flows and review them

Six tips to help you manage your cash flow by man in the know, Mark Byrne, MD of Calverton Finance

Go with the



“There is no room to be complacent in this market”

n the current economic climate, managing your cash flow is more important than ever. Mark Byrne is the managing director of Calverton Finance, an independent company that provides services including invoice finance to help with cash flow. He says there are many things that companies can do themselves to help keep their cash flow in good shape; here he shares his top six tips with Talk Business. If you have a business, you should be doing all of these...

1) Negotiate credit terms when you negotiate your sales price

Begin to think of your cash flow as the most valuable part of your business. Every time you

Even if it’s just for the next quarter, put together a cash flow detailing your future cash requirement. Review this every month (every week if cash is tight) and look at your actual position against your budgeted position. If it’s way out then find out why. Are payments slowing? Do you need to step up credit control? Are you making your margins on sales? Are you buying the right stock? Are costs under control? There are so many variables and so many ways for cash to move out of the business, you must be vigilant. Even if your cash position is healthy, there is no room to be complacent in this market.

3) Don’t pay lip service to credit control

A good credit controller is worth their weight in gold and, more than anything else, good credit control is about consistency. Most small companies allocate too little resource to proper credit control. Often it will be the owner-manager who will chase for payment – probably the most unsuitable and least qualified person in the business 

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Focus on money TOP TIPS

The big six: 1. Negotiate 2. Review cash flows 3. Be consistent 4. Run credit checks 5. Get insured 6. Be proactive

to be carrying out this crucial role. This means that credit control is sporadic and often panicky, e.g. the customer who hasn’t been contacted for 60 days gets a call threatening legal action. Good credit control works to a system of statements, letters, telephone calls and, only if completely necessary, legal action. Implement a system of consistent and regular contact with the customer; most people want to pay, you just need to make sure you are first on their list.

4) Credit check your customers

This is a must. Although credit checking agencies work on historic information, which may be a year or more out of date, they will give you a feel for your customer’s financial strength and will list County Court Judgments (CCJs) – a real and immediate indicator of financial problems. This is not just for new customers: remember things change quickly in this market,

and if you can get regular updates from a credit agency on your customers, then this will provide you with valuable information. If you do get negative information, then act on it: chase harder, put the company on stop, take legal action if necessary.

5) Consider bad debt protection

“If banks can fail, then your customers can fail”

The only reason for not taking out credit insurance is if you are dealing with the Government. If banks can fail, then your customers can fail. Credit insurance does not exist to pay for itself, it is there to protect one of the most valuable assets in your business: your debtors. Businesses will fail. If it is your customer, make sure that you are covered.

6) Keep your lender informed of your progress – before they have to ask

A disappointingly small number of our clients are proactive about keeping us informed of their progress. Those that

do tend to gain respect and credibility quickly, so if it comes to increasing a limit or arranging an overpayment, their applications are 90% there. Send your lender monthly management accounts with a brief commentary on performance. Inform them well in advance about required changes or increases in your facility. I wrote an article back in early 2010 on recession-proofing your business, which had a very similar message. It ended: ‘The most important thing to do is NOT TO DO NOTHING. Your motto should be: act quickly, act strongly and believe that this recession will last twice as long as everyone thinks.’ As Mervyn King said: ‘We are only halfway through this’. I get the feeling he’ll still be saying that next year. Contact: www.CalvertonFinance.co.uk

46 September 2012

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Before you sign on the dotted line…

Contracts can be problematic, what with the endless legal jargon and small print minefields. In the first of a series of articles on Careful Contracts, NaviStar Legal founder Jo Rogers guides us through the checks you need to make before you sign on that dotted line Who are you dealing with in business?

How well do we know the people that we deal with in business? A lack of scrutiny of the people and companies that we associate with can affect our reputation with clients, the public or other businesses. The first article in our Careful Contracts series asks: ‘Who are you dealing with in business?’ Even if a client or supplier is recommended to you by someone you trust, for all new business relationships, ask three basic questions: Who? What? Where?

1. Who are you dealing with? Know the full legal name of the business or individual and any key personnel.

2. What is the company’s full legal name?

For businesses, this will include Limited, Ltd, Plc, LLP, LP, or perhaps S.A or GmbH. Are they an individual trading under another name? (i.e. Jack Thorn, trading as JT Enterprises) NOTE: A website is not a legal entity; you must contract with the legal owner of the website.

3. Where are they based or incorporated?

Be careful to make a note of your findings, and if any serious issues arise then ask more questions, dig deeper and be prepared to ask the other party about them.

6. London Gazette: Check there

1. Website: Check the company

7. Regulation or membership:

are no winding up petitions, orders or administrators and liquidators appointed for the company at www.londongazette.co.uk

website for the legal entity name, address (is it a P.O. box or a registered office?) and note additional key individuals affiliated with the company.

2. Google: Check the company and key individuals for bad press or complaints.

3. Social media including

LinkedIn: Review the background of key personnel on the team.

4. Companies House: If it is an English company, go to www. companieshouse.gov.uk and “Find Company Information” and download details of the company, the directors and check the disqualified director register for the company’s directors.

“We lose nothing but a little time by asking, checking and asking again”

Do you expect the company or key individuals to be regulated, or be members of a regulated body? Check with that appropriate body. In summary, we lose nothing but a little time by asking, checking and asking again. We find that due diligence early on in a new business relationship shows that we are serious about having a long-term relationship and it will probably save us time, money and a few sleepless nights in the long run. Next month: Know where the other party is based Contact: www.navistarlegal.com

5. Solvency: Confirm that a

sole trader is solvent by going to www.insolvencydirect.bis.gov. uk/eiir

Know the address from which they operate and whether (or not) they are incorporated in England and Wales. The next step is to do seven public checks against the company and its key personnel.

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Focus on Our regular columnist, Claire Young, is back! And she’s been pretty busy in her time out. Here she explores the reality of balancing business with a new baby


Baby talk I’ve been quite busy since writing my last column. My greatest achievement to date happened in June: my daughter arrived! Eva Mary Rainbow (named after her great grandmothers) was born on 20 June after a somewhat difficult pregnancy, so she really was a labour of love. I’m often asked about women in business, balancing the boardroom with motherhood, and I’ve always replied: ‘Come back to me once I have a baby and then I’ll know.’ So here I am, laptop next to changing mat, quickly adapting to my new lifestyle. People refer to it as a learning curve. I’d say it’s more like a learning cliff; from the moment those little eyes meet yours, you are thrown into a brand new world. I’ve grafted nonstop to develop and grow my business, www.schoolspeakers.co.uk. An initial idea which sparked in my brain has been nurtured into an agency with over 200 speakers visiting schools across the UK. As a business owner, I sadly don’t have a fairy godmother who can come and babysit my ventures while I pop off for months on end, so I completed a

“Eva is totally in charge, and I am her around the clock personal assistant”

speaking event 10 days after Eva was born. I’m passionate about my career, love my work and don’t intend to disappear into a pile of nappies. It’s important for me to keep my brain active and interact with adults. I grew up with my mother working and she is a brilliant role model, so I want to do the same. I’m far from Superwoman though, and have had to learn the arts of compromising and delegating. In the past I’ve watched some women try to do it all, and when things slip, they beat themselves up about it. I listened to advice from a very successful female entrepreneur. She said: ‘By getting help, don’t see it as failing. You’re giving other people an opportunity that they otherwise wouldn’t have.’ I

liked this idea! And I have lived by it. I’m open to advice and a helping hand – I cannot do everything myself. I’m very lucky to have wonderful childcare from my family; we pull together and it’s a team effort. I’m a self-confessed control freak and life has been turned upside down in that respect. Eva is totally in charge, and I am her around-the-clock personal assistant. I’ve been on this planet for 33 years and she is brand new, so she’s allowed to make the rules while she gets used to things. I have learnt not to make early morning plans, to carry two of everything and not to squeeze too much into a day. I also don’t talk about Eva 24/7: when I’m doing business I’m there for that reason, not to discuss her sleeping patterns. I keep the two parts of my life very separate. Do I think women can have it all? Yes I do. You’ve just got to choose your priorities and work extra hard. As they say, no pain, no gain. I must go, I can hear rumblings and as you know, the Boss doesn’t like to be kept waiting! Contact: www.schoolspeakers.co.uk

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Focus on strategy SOCIAL MEDIA



Businesses: leave your cynicism at the door and get on board with social media, argues Zoe Cairns, founder of ZC Social Media

Lots of people approach sites, and consider these four us frustrated, under the areas that ZC Social Media impression that social media always discuss with its clients: doesn’t work and is all a BIG conversation, articles, tips, fad! In reality, it is actually a promotion. Don’t spam people new way that we communicate; by constantly sharing links a new communication tool we and selling. Share good quality can use to engage with existing information and content that and prospective clients online. can build a “know, like and The first thing we ask when trust factor”. This will help approached by a business that in inspiring people to come is not having much success and buy your products and with social media, is: ‘Have services. you got a social media strategy An important aspect of your plan?’ 99.9% of the time, the strategy is a blog. Blogging answer is no. will enable you to direct more In order for your social traffic to your website rather media activities and goals to than a third party website. be achieved, you need to put And lastly, let’s come on together a social media strategy to measurement; measuring for your company. your social media activities Your social media strategy and progress is essential. is just like your business Otherwise how do you know plan; it enables you to define if you are improving or your social media goals and achieving your goals? There objectives, and gives you a are various tools out there vision to head towards. that can measure parts of your Without these, what are you social media progress, from trying to achieve? Tweetreach that measures how Your social media goals far your tweets travelled, to should align with your business Hootsuite, which can analyse goals and objectives and be the number of new followers SMART (specific, measureable, on Twitter, company mentions attainable, realistic and timely). and how many people clicked You then need to do your on your displayed links. Your research; look at where preference will depend your competitors on which you use. “Your social are engaging, where Analysing and media your target market is measuring your social strategy is hanging out, and from media activities and just like your this determine which results will enable you social media pillars you business plan; to review and change it enables you anything going forward, should be using. to define your always making sure you Within your social social media media strategy, you keep an action plan. need to think about key goals and The biggest task of all objectives” centres of influence: with your social media key people who can get is to take BIG ACTION your message out to now by putting together your the masses. Who are the company’s social media strategy. key people who have a lot of Zoe Cairns is a member of Pure credibility within your industry? B2B – masterminding your These are the people to start business to the next level. Visit engaging with, to get your www.pureb2b.co.uk message out there. One of the most important areas to consider is content. Many people struggle with Contact: what to post and tweet. Look www.zcsocialmedia.com for industry blogs and news

52 September 2012

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05/09/2012 16:56


Branding regular Rich With shares his wisdom on sexing up your brand

This means phwoarrrrr! No matter what the politically correct beast inside tries to tell us, we do love a good-looking brand. Sex sells: we’re shallow, facile beings and if you want our attention, you’d better start showing a bit of leg (I apologise in advance for the cut-price crowbarring of sexual imagery…) As a business owner, of course you love your brand. It’s an important part of your life. But do you fancy your brand? If you were in a nightclub and you saw your brand gently sipping a cocktail, looking all fresh and sweet, would you surreptitiously sniff your armpits and bowl on over? Or would you smirk, shake your head and order another beer?

Take an ugly mate with you

A common misconception we have about the value – or basic – range in supermarkets is that the packaging is uninteresting for design and print costs. Although this is a happy by-product, the real reason for their uninspiring looks is to make their best mate look fit. These low-cost ranges could easily be prettified, but their purpose is to get the consumer to spend more by upgrading. Could you do the same thing with your brand, designing a pricing structure with a value range that entices people to upgrade to the higher-priced alternative?

Take a fit mate with you

The reverse can also be used to promote your brand. This one’s as old as the hills. Companies have always

used models and celebrities to endorse their brands, but as SMEs, we can also use our most attractive testimonials, and our most attractive clients, in the marketing of our products and services.

The cheap ones will give you a rash

Do you want your brand to look like all the others? You can buy all sorts of logos on the web for £25, and if you want the same as the cloned masses then why not have money left over for a night out? However, if you want something different, be prepared to invest. Businesses that ultimately want to build a lasting brand must seek out a branding company that will create a bespoke identity, one which is attractive and desirable to consumers. Something that will stand up, get admiring looks and have others drooling.

perhaps you need to trade it in for a new model and rebrand altogether. Whatever the reason, you have to keep the relationship fresh with your brand – ever-evolving and looking forward to a lifetime of happiness together. Contact: www.gohoot.co.uk

“Of course you love your brand. It’s an important part of your life. But do you fancy your brand?”

Spice up your brand life

There’ll come a time when you and your brand have been together for a number of years and things have been going quite nicely…but there’s a niggling feeling at the back of your mind that it’s just not as exciting as it used to be. Maybe your brand needs to lose a few pounds; over the years it’s become bloated and lost sight of what it’s meant to stand for. Perhaps it looks out of date and could do with a makeover and a confidence boost. Or, controversially,

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For your FREE consultaion, call 0808 189 0789 and quote ‘TALKBUSINESS’



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.

For more information, call 0808 189 0789, email info@konvertis.co.uk or visit www. konvertis.co.uk

10/09/2012 12:03


The 50 Shades phenomenon “When you watch someone achieve success like this, there are always lessons to be learnt”

What can businesses learn from the meteoric success of 50 Shades of Grey? A whole lot, according to Stefan Boyle

Unless you have been taking time out to re-invent yourself in a mountain retreat for the past six months, I imagine you can’t have escaped the phenomenon that is 50 Shades of Grey. Author EL James has taken the top spot in the Kindle store, having sold over two million e-books in just four months. Her print and Kindle sales combined make her the bestselling author of all time at Amazon, having even eclipsed JK Rowling. When you watch someone achieve success like this, there are always lessons to be learnt and applied to your own business. Here are my thoughts on what we can take from the 50 Shades phenomenon:

Don’t wait until it’s perfect If you’ve read anything of the book, with all due respect to EL James, it is hardly an epic piece of literature! Yet she is making millions. People often try and make everything perfect before they launch and end up never launching. Just take action, get your marketing content out there, and amend and improve as you go.

Target the correct niche

I’m sure you’ll have heard 50 Shades described as “mummy porn”, as it supposedly appealed to bored housewives. If you aim to appeal to everyone, then you end up appealing to no one.

Pick the right route to market

Let’s be honest, the majority of people would not want to sit in public reading an “adult” book. But with the huge growth in e-readers, whatever you’re reading is private. It’s also free to self-publish on Amazon, so the route to a huge market is quick, easy and cheap.

Learn from the success of others

It’s fair to say that not everything about 50 Shades is totally original. If you look at successful companies that are similar to yours and take the best elements from them, it’s going to give you far more chance of success.

Upsell more of the same

There isn’t just one book; there’s a trilogy, along with talk of a Hollywood blockbuster. Once you are hooked on the first book, there are two more to keep feeding your habit… If you find something that sells well, try and find other ways of selling similar things that satisfy the obvious demand you’ve identified.

Tell everyone!

EL James’ incredible success is partially thanks to social media. If you search on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, there are countless fan pages. Sure, if you sell rivets or your ideal customer is unlikely to use social media, then this is much harder to achieve. But it’s not always about huge numbers: better to have one targeted follower than thousands who never buy.

Ride the wave

Poor EL James. If you have seen some of her TV interviews, I wouldn’t say she’s a complete natural in front of the camera. But she is out there doing it, increasing awareness of her own profile and, in turn, her books. She is making the most of every opportunity. Whether a fan or a critic, the story is impossible to ignore and we can all learn from the tactics of EL James; deliberate or sheer fluke, they have certainly paid off. Contact: PrintRepublic.co.uk

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11/09/2012 13:52

Focus on strategy MICRO BUSINESSES



PACKAGES Georgina El Morshdy of the Micro Business Hub helps uncover the secrets of running a successful micro business Changes in the UK economy are encouraging more people to start a micro business. But what does it take to be successful? Firstly, let’s think about why the micro business model is so popular. A micro business is a business that employs less than 10 people (and often just one). As a freelance copywriter and micro business owner myself, I relish the many benefits of staying intentionally small. There’s flexibility. We can respond quickly to market changes or feedback from customers, and as a result

stay relevant, innovative and on the ball. In addition, flexible working hours mean you can run a business around family commitments, or avoid the 9-5 office hours for a different kind of work/life balance. Then, if you lack the skills or time, you can build temporary teams of highly skilled professionals by outsourcing, and avoid the expense and complications of employing someone. But what’s really interesting is how technological changes and online innovations have created

exciting new opportunities. And smart micro business owners are perfectly placed to exploit them. Here’s how…

“Successful micro business owners stay hungry”

Social media and ecommerce changed the rules Firstly, social media transformed the way we communicate. Through the various platforms, you can network, engage customers, listen, obtain feedback, build authority as well as market your products and services. The structure is there to widen your sphere of influence, and you can

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Focus on strategy MICRO BUSINESSES

reach customers and thought leaders for free. Secondly, ecommerce has been a revolution. Micro businesses have set up shop without the expense of a physical location to sell to customers locally, nationally and even globally. In fact, these innovations have arguably paved the way for niche businesses to thrive. Suddenly it’s possible to achieve the critical mass needed to be successful with a business idea that appeals to a particular type of customer. Times are still tough But while it’s an exciting time to be micro, there are significant challenges to overcome to achieve success. We’re in a double-dip recession; cash flow, building your reputation, and lacking the advertising budget to find and keep customers all present barriers. In fact, a scarily large number of micro businesses will fail within their first year. But alongside that, some businesses will achieve astonishing success. So what are the secrets to a wildly successful micro business? I think there are four key steps – learn, create, connect and succeed. Step 1: Learn Successful micro business owners stay hungry. They never satisfy their desire for new information because they understand knowledge breeds innovative thinking, problem solving and new ideas. It’s the way to keep a competitive edge. Heading up your “learn list” should be to understand your target customer. Be inquisitive. Ask probing questions to discover customer drivers, desires and concerns. Then, armed with this invaluable insider knowledge, tightly hone your marketing efforts to attract your target niche. Next, learn by reading, listening, and keeping an

open mind. Explore articles, relevant blogs, business books, forums, tweet chats, customer feedback…then work out how to apply your new knowledge to benefit your business and your customers. For example, get clear on what customers really appreciate about your business. They may reveal something unusual you can harness to hone your USP and stand out from competitors.

“Be brave. Hunt out opportunities to talk with people”

Step 2: Create Creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of successful micro businesses. But it’s not enough simply to have ideas. You’ve got to bring the best ones to reality. And that means you need to take time out to cultivate your creativity and nurture those fresh ideas that will drive your business forward. Discover what works best for you. It could be brainstorming with a trusted confidant, scribbling ideas on Post-It notes or going for a long walk to tease out the big idea. When you’re considering which ideas to ditch and which to develop, think like your target customer. The most successful ideas will be those that solve the real problems your customers experience. So make it a habit to find out what those problems are, and do what you can to be the fixer. Step 3: Connect You can’t run a business in isolation. Instead, you need to connect with customers and persuade them to do business with you. So be brave. Hunt out opportunities to talk with people and share how you can help. As people buy from people, develop a strategy for customers to know, like and trust you. This involves harnessing your personality to ensure it exudes out of you when

networking or delivering a sales pitch. Networking for a micro business owner is a must. You need to do it both on and offline with passion. Embrace the power of social media and become an active member of a face-to-face networking group. Remember strong relationships and a supportive network can keep you afloat during the bad days, and allow you to reach out when you’re sailing proud. Step 4: Succeed To truly succeed in your micro business you need to build authority in your chosen niche. There are numerous ways to achieve this, so create a plan of what you will do. Ideas include blogging articles on topics that matter to your customers, securing editorials in appropriate publications, and public speaking at networking events, business meetings and exhibitions. In addition, get clear on your business goals and plan how you will arrive there. Think big and never let fear of failure hold you back. Instead, embrace mistakes as an opportunity to learn invaluable information to move forward from. It starts and ends with you As the head of a micro business, you are in charge of your own success. So take the time to build your confidence and personal impact skills. Consider business coaching and develop the resilience to deal with knockbacks and disappointments. There’s no hiding in micro business, and the most successful people are those who are not afraid to take risks. Contact: www.microbusinesshub.co.uk www.gemwriting.co.uk

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05/09/2012 15:00

Focus on strategy COMMERCIAL LEASES

Confused by the commercial lease? Never fear, Dipinder Sehgal and David Nandhra of The Sethi Partnership Solicitors are here to share everything you need to know when renting premises for your business

A NEW LEASE OF LIFE Whether you are a landlord or a tenant renting a commercial space, it is an important responsibility; before you sign a legally binding lease, make sure that you understand and carefully negotiate the terms to meet your business requirements. Here’s an overview of the vital areas:

Rent: How much are you paying? “Before you sign a legally binding lease, make sure that you understand and carefully negotiate the terms”

It is important to negotiate the rent before the lease is entered into, and to be aware of whether charges, such as services, maintenance and insurance are included in the rent, or are required to be paid separately. The landlord may require provisions allowing rent reviews in the lease. The provisions by which the rent can be changed should be clear and reasonable, allowing the rent to be increased to the market rate unless expressly stated otherwise.

Length of the lease: How long do you have?

Leases may be for a fixed term or granted for a period which will then renew, i.e. monthly or yearly, and it is important to be clear on this at the start date of the lease. It is also essential to understand whether there are any break clauses in the lease, or whether you can ask for an extension of the lease on expiry, with the relevant notices

required to be served to the end of the tenancy.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954: Can you automatically renew?

Under the Act, a business tenancy will not come to an end on the contractual termination date, but will continue on the same terms until it is ended in one of the ways specified by the Act. A tenancy can be “excluded from the protection” under the Act if specific notices are served prior to the contract, allowing both parties to agree to exclude the security of tenure provisions.

Licence to assign: Can you hand over your lease to someone else?

The licence to assign is a legal document giving the tenant permission from the landlord to assign the lease to a new tenant. There is usually a provision in the lease preventing the tenant from assigning the lease without the landlord’s consent, and stopping the landlord unreasonably withholding or delaying consent.

Guarantee: Do you have any future liabilities? In all leases granted on or after 1 January 1996, a tenant is automatically released from any future liability once he lawfully assigns the lease. It is common for landlords to require the

outgoing tenant to provide an authorised guarantee agreement (AGA) to guarantee the incoming tenant’s lease obligations, i.e. rent and service charge, until the new tenant assigns the lease to another party.

Termination: How do you get out of the lease?

How a lease can be terminated will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of tenancy and whether there have been any breaches, such as non-payment of rent or failure to serve the correct notice. The lease will most certainly have a forfeiture provision allowing the landlord to retake possession of the premises if there has been non-payment of rent. The landlord may be required to make a formal demand for rent; the forfeiture provision should be confirmed to check the position, and the tenant may be able to claim relief against forfeiture if he pays all arrears of rent. We strongly recommend that you get legal advice if you are considering entering into a lease or granting one.

Contact: www.sethi.co.uk

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10/09/2012 16:48

Focus on strategy ENERGY USAGE

2012: the year to take control of energy

“This middle ground in business is set to become a forgotten army of companies”

Despite ever-increasing concerns over costs and sustainability, many medium-sized businesses (MSBs) still don’t have a strategy in place for their energy procurement, even though this is a key area where savings can be made. A recent npower report showed that MSBs see energy as one of their highest business risks, ranking higher than cash flow, legislation and security, and second only to sales. Despite this, many MSBs are still overlooking the potential savings on their energy costs that could be gained by having a proper energy strategy in place. One reason why MSBs are not maximising this opportunity could be that they don’t feel supported by the industry; according to npower’s research, nearly half (44%) of

MSBs feel that current products available don’t meet their needs. This research follows the CBI’s “Future Champions” report that suggested more should be done to support MSBs. It revealed that this middle ground in business is set to become a “forgotten army” of companies – either too big or too small to benefit from policies aimed at helping their smaller or larger counterparts. In fact, the survey supported this finding, showing that 71% of MSBs feel they are not able to benefit from Government policies tailored to organisations at the larger or smaller end of the spectrum. Currently, the biggest obstacle to more sophisticated energy purchasing for MSBs is a lack of time and expertise, as traditionally only the largest organisations have the expert resources to take advantage of price fluctuations in the

Don’t waste your energy Wayne Mitchell, npower’s industrial and commercial markets director, looks at how medium-sized businesses can take simple steps to seize control of their energy

wholesale energy market. However, with the latest energy purchasing tools, MSBs can tap into changes in wholesale energy prices without needing to become experts in the energy market. PriceWatch is one tool that allows businesses on fixed-price contracts to make a renewal decision based on the wholesale market cost, instead of renewing on a fixed date which could coincide with a peak in price. For businesses looking to explore the cost benefits of buying energy flexibly, Direct Budget Management (DBM) is a tool that tracks the market for a business and allows npower to buy their energy in line with a pre-agreed strategy. Aside from reviewing the options available when purchasing energy, businesses should always aim to make their organisation as energyefficient as possible. “Quick win” measures include turning lights and equipment off when not needed, and closer monitoring and measurement of energy use with the latest technology, such as smart meters. With staff engagement proving important when it comes to reducing energy usage and costs, many organisations find it useful to appoint an accountable “energy champion”. By understanding where and how energy is being used, effective improvements in energy efficiency be made. But, for maximum effectiveness, it is essential to have an energy strategy that covers both energy management and procurement, as this joined-up approach will enable the best savings on energy costs. Our research and that of the CBI shows that MSBs need the focus to be placed firmly on them in order to support growth, so perhaps the advent of more products tailored towards their exact needs will help them unlock their potential. Contact: www.npower.com/business

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Focus on strategy FOREIGN MARKETS

one mistake and you could be communicating a vague or even offensive message. This is one of the main reasons why using a local professional translator is key. Anybody can learn a language, but not everybody has grown up speaking one and knowing all the colloquialisms and idioms, and the skill of the translator is to understand these aspects in both languages. Check whether your message still makes sense abroad, check whether that country has words which fit the meaning, and check and check again that, most importantly, you’re telling millions of potential customers exactly what you think you are.

Lost in translation Mike Hunter, founder of translation company Betterlanguages.com, talks us through the importance of getting it right when entering foreign markets

Customer care

For both large and small UK companies, exporting can be an ideal way to strengthen sales, reach a new lucrative customer base, diversify risk and increase profitability. But there are many things which need to be taken into account when reaching out to new markets. Often one of the most overlooked is translating your product clearly, to ensure that your message is communicated correctly and cultural faux pas are avoided.

Legal compliance

The first thing to think about is ensuring that you don’t fall foul of a country’s laws with regards to product information. Many products are required by law to have certain information on the pack, instruction leaflets, product labelling, or all three.

If the information isn’t in the language of the country of sale, you are breaking the law. There are also regulations as to exactly what your product must expressly state on the packaging – this is particularly the case with food or children’s products.


Once you’ve got the legalities covered, it’s time to think about how to get your product message over to consumers in a way which will inspire a sale. Your product’s benefit is unlikely to have changed because you have entered a new market, but the ways in which people will understand it may have. Getting the language nuances correct to ensure you say exactly what you think you’re saying is essential;

It is becoming increasingly important to ensure you tell customers how they can look after their new product and what to do/who to contact if it goes wrong. To establish your firm in a new market and continue to grow, you’re going to rely heavily on repeat custom and word of mouth to validate your company and product. Therefore, it is essential that you communicate that you are able and willing to help with any problems that might arise.

Brand image

“One mistake and you could be communicating a vague or even offensive message”

In some markets, consumers are wary of buying foreign products. To overcome these prejudices, it’s essential that you offer your item in language they clearly understand. Packaging, labels and instruction books must all be easily understood by the end users. You can’t pretend your product isn’t British – and you shouldn’t want to! But you’ll only build your export sales if you can reach and engage your end customers without anything getting lost in translation. Contact: www.betterlanguages.com

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Cost effective IT Support, Computer Support Simon Hughes, Managing Director of Conran Estates, Greenwich, Eltham, Charlton said

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continuously work as there is never any downtime. I could not be any happier as Netsense have added value to my business as I no longer have any involvement in the day-to-day problems I had 4 years ago and this free’s up my time to run my business effectively and increase our turnover. Netsense are a lot more than a provider of IT services, they are problem solvers. I have thrown many problems at them and each time they work a solution to suit. Their expertise is crucial to my business and I am a client for life. Furthermore, when there are IT issues they normally deal with them in more than a timely fashion and the majority within minutes!"

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11/09/2012 10:59

Focus on strategy CASE STUDIES

Social media:

a tale of three businesses When it comes to social media, it can be tricky to come up with a strategy based on the general advice that’s on offer. Catherine James tells us the story of three very different businesses that have made social media work for them


f you are running a small business, it’s almost certain that you’re using social media to promote your brand, win new business and attract new customers. A survey by freelance work portal, PeoplePerHour.com, found that 91% of small firms now use it for business purposes: a huge rise from the 60% reported to be doing so the year before. But are they using it well? Not according to new research from Business Network International, which found that 75% of SMEs using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms in their marketing are losing business opportunities because they aren’t using it effectively. The Internet is awash with advice on how to do social media – “10 Dos and Don’ts of LinkedIn”, the “5 Tweets You Should Never Post” – and while they are interesting or even amusing, most are quite generic and of little practical value to an individual business. A better way of finding out how to make social media work for your business is to see how others have done it. Here are three enterprises, from three very different sectors, targeting different customers, but all with one thing in common: they have a social media strategy that works.


Chocolat a Toi, an online retailer of bespoke hand-made chocolates, founded by Tola Popoola in 2009

“It is unusual for a client to be won without the use of social media”

She says: ‘Social media is very important to my business as it gives me valuable insight into what my customers like and want to see more of. I started using it immediately, initially with Twitter, and my strategy was to use it to build a network of good contacts who know me, like me, and are happy to refer me. Of course, if a sale takes place in the process that’s an added bonus. ‘I didn’t start using Facebook actively until late last year, but that is now picking up very well. In terms of results, however, Twitter generates the best and is the platform I use the most. Any customers I’ve had as a result of Twitter always let me know that’s where they found me. It’s important to get that feedback from people about where they heard about you.’ The business also has a presence on Google+ and Pinterest; the former helps with its SEO rankings, and the visual element of the latter encourages higher levels of customer engagement. The Chocolat a Toi website also has an active blog; an

additional platform for sharing news or thoughts, which encourages visitor comment. ‘As with all aspects of social media, deciding what to share and how to share it is important. By using the same tools every day, you will discover ways of improving how you use them. You also need to look out for new social media tools, some of which can be a better medium for sharing content and engaging in a more effective way.’ Website: www.chocolatatoi.com Twitter: @tolapopoola

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Focus on strategy CASE STUDIES

Business services

Heather Townsend, business consultant and coach She says: ‘Our strategy aims to accomplish four key things. The first is driving traffic to our four blog sites: “How To Make Partner”, “Partnership Potential”, “Joined Up Networking”, and “Venture – Now”, to build awareness of our capability and keep us at the forefront of people’s minds when they want to hire a coach, consultant or trainer. ‘We do this by publishing between two and five blog posts each week on each of the four blog sites, which are then shared on Twitter and LinkedIn. Each month, we typically get around 12,000 page views across these four sites, with 15-20% of traffic coming from LinkedIn, and 50% from Twitter. ‘As a networking tool we use both LinkedIn and Twitter to meet and keep in touch with people. A strong presence on these two sites gives potential clients an easy way to get in touch with us.’ As author of The FT Guide To Business Networking, Heather also uses social media to drum up sales, free PR and other promotional activities, by syndicating her content across other blogs, on request. ‘The FT Guide sold 5,000 copies within its first year, putting it into the top 150 business books sold in the UK, and 95% of the marketing activity was driven through our social media strategy. ‘About 80% of all our work in the last two years has come to us in some way by the use of social media; in fact it is unusual for a client to be won without the use of social media somewhere in the business development process.’ Website: www.howtomakepartner.com Twitter: @HeatherTowns

Healthcare “Deciding what to share and how to share it is important”

“Trust is a large part of my business, and the videos of me on the site are a start to building that trust”

Southport Road Dental, a private dental practice owned by dentist David Hickey He says: ‘We use Twitter and Facebook largely to engage and educate, and it raises the practice profile. All our social media activity links through to our website, and adding new content, for example to Facebook, helps to optimise it. Twitter has also been a valuable tool for face-to-face networking, as a lot of the people we meet are Twitter users who follow us, who are potential customers.’ The practice is a member of the international charity scheme, Buy One Give One, which also helps boost their social media popularity: for every new Twitter follower or Facebook “Like”, a donation is made to one of the scheme’s many global projects. Twitter and Facebook are the platforms used most by Southport Road Dental, and activity is monitored through call tracker numbers. But the real key to the practice’s social media strategy is its use of

YouTube video, a social medium forecast to grow substantially over the next two years. ‘YouTube is the most important part of the site. It is the best and most cost-effective way of enabling potential new patients to see previous clients and their experiences, and to see and hear me before they pick up the phone, which has made a huge difference for those who are nervous. ‘Trust is a large part of my business, and the videos of me on the site are a start to building that trust. The other part of the strategy again is optimisation; fresh video content boosts your SEO ranking. ‘The practice has benefited hugely from an effective social media strategy, which is now a key part of our overall strategy. At times when we are busy and not marketing directly, it allows us to engage with those around us and keeps us in mind; I think we will see more and more dental practices starting to use it.’ Website: www. painfreedentistchorley.co.uk Twitter: @PainFreeDenta1

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05/09/2012 15:13

Focus on marketing

Our marketing mentor, star of The Apprentice Kimberly Davis, gives some sound advice on making your marketing count

The marketing MOT


f you ask people: ‘What is marketing?’, you’ll be amazed at how many different responses you get. Aside from blank stares, you might hear: ‘Marketing is advertising’, ‘It’s getting the word out there’, ‘It’s making things look pretty’, ‘It’s talking to people’. Close, but no cigar. Put simply, I like to define marketing as: ‘Everything and anything that is a representation of the company, from your staff’s customer service through to company logos, branding, brochures, etc. It’s all the things that contribute to the external experience and perception of your company.’ After all, perception is reality. Think of marketing as an umbrella, and under it falls all of its different elements, such as: • • • • • • • • • •

research branding and design writing and editing print and production online merchandising events and promotion public relations advertising direct marketing

Many people believe marketing is a creative industry. They make their product look pretty, and then randomly pick and mix from the elements above in an effort to try to get things right. They use their instincts or listen

to the promises of salesmen who convince them to buy tons of products and services they don’t need and that don’t work! It’s no wonder that most companies are wasting 80% of their marketing budgets or fail in their first year of trading. I view marketing as a science: something that should be carefully planned and measured. Creativity is just the icing on the cake. Don’t get me wrong, design and creativity is a key aspect

“I view marketing as a science: something that should be carefully planned and measured”

of marketing; after all, no cake would be complete without the icing. But great ideas need great implementation. What works for one company will not work for all. There are so many variables that affect these outcomes that it is impossible to have a one-sizefits-all plan. In fact, some companies have to alter their marketing plan from one city to the next to adjust for different markets. It is this mistake – the failure to understand what marketing is, how to create a proper marketing plan, how to link marketing to sales – that leads so many businesses to fail so quickly. One of my regular webinars is called “Marketing MOT”. In it, I reveal more than 20 ways in which companies regularly waste money. Here are my top three:


you to find me one person who has ever said, ‘I really need an accountant. Hmm, who should I use? I know, let me go and find that stress ball I received as a free gift and call THAT person.’ Never happens. Some will say that these items are given to keep the relationship on good terms…a little gift to remind clients that your business is still there. Again, I’d like to ask, who has ever found their relationship with a company dying out only

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Focus on marketing KIMBERLY DAVIS

to say, ‘I was going to fire that company, but they did give me this pen with their name on it, so maybe I’ll give them another chance.’? Avoid silly token merchandising at all costs.

2. ADVERTISING – Every day we are bombarded by more than 4000 brands and adverts. It’s no wonder that we’ve learned to block them out. Advertising is one of the fastest ways to burn through your marketing budget. There are a very few exceptions of when advertising can work, but these are few and far between and the odds are stacked against you. There are dozens of other, better ways to get your message out there. Stay away from advertising.


EVENTS – This one is going to hit a nerve with a bunch of people. But here’s the thing: the majority of the time, most networking groups and events are filled with people trying to sell, and very few of them are looking to pay it forward. Many morning groups do have a great referral attitude, but your success is limited to the contacts of that particular group. Take a hard look and ask yourself if networking is really getting you a return on investment considering the high costs of membership. If you spent four hours a week (the average amount of time you spend travelling to and attending a weekly networking

event) picking up the phone and making sales calls to the people you want to work with, wouldn’t that be a better use of your time and money? So ask yourself: how much of your marketing are you wasting?

You can download Kimberly’s FREE REPORT and register to Kimberly’s webinars today.

Forme Appre and m supers Davis her se showi the rip from t

Contact: www.sarsaparillamarketing.com “Avoid silly token merchandising at all costs”

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Focus on marketing SEO

website analytics to prove which words and phrases potential customers use to buy products and services from you, and it’s normally just a handful. Once you know your money terms, the world is your oyster. And businesses that do know are prospering despite the tough economic conditions.

“Use natural search to promote your money terms – effectively Adwords on steroids”


Everyone knows SEO is vital for getting ahead in business. But how to convert searches into cash? Leading digital agency, Fivesite, passes on its top tips for flourishing online


hen searching for information on Google, Bing or Yahoo, web users type a word or phrase – a “keyword”. If they want to be more specific, they will type two or three words – a “long tail keyword”. Generally speaking, the longer the search phrase the hotter the prospect. If you type “camera”, there are around 170,000,000 results; these are called “level six buyers”. However, if you type “Nikon camera” there are fewer results; these are level five buyers. “Nikon hi definition camera” finds fewer results still, level three buyers. A level one buyer (the hottest prospect) will type “Nikon SLR D5100 Milton Keynes”. This search activity is showing a clear intent to buy. The most important factor in making your business prosper online is discovering your profitable keyword phrase. This means using technical

What are my money terms? The first thing to establish is your conversion factor. For your business, what is considered a successful website transaction? For some it’s a telephone lead, for some an online purchase and for others an online enquiry form being submitted. Once established, a small piece of code is dropped into the page that deals with the conversion factor element. After a month, enough data is collected to be able to tell what words and phrases have lead to a conversion – most businesses are surprised by the results. Once you know your money terms, you can visit Google Adwords, which will allow you to place adverts on Google for quick, high visibility. You use the keywords you’ve discovered to trigger the adverts. For some this works well – they know for every £10 they spend on Adwords they will generate £200 in sales. To increase your conversion by up to 4500% compared to Adwords, you would use natural search to promote your money terms – effectively Adwords on steroids. This is where your website shows up in the main body of the first page of the search, all triggered by your money terms. If you were to think about it in retail shop terms, Google Adwords will bring two or three people through your door for every 100 people looking for 

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your particular product or service. In comparison, if your money terms put you on one of the natural search listings on page one of Google, then you can expect between 45-50 people to come through your door for every 100 people that walk past. Think about it – do you often search much further than page one? The logical question from clients that usually follows is, ‘Why bother with Adwords then?’ and ‘Why do Google make so much money from Adwords?’ Well, the answer is simple: getting naturally listed on page one of any major search engine is very difficult for a business to do, as there are 200 ranking factors, both onsite and offsite, which need to be considered. There are very few companies in the world that are able to achieve this for clients. Because of these difficulties, we have developed a unique proprietary system over the

past 10 years which compares and analyses the 200 ranking factors. This allows us to pinpoint precisely what needs to be done in order to achieve the page one objective for our clients. All of this usually takes from three to six months. As every good business person knows, there are many other benefits for page one listings. Brands on Google page one are considered the leading brands by consumers and, more importantly, are viewed as trusted brands. That said, Adwords does have its place and it’s not all bad. Unlike natural searches, you can switch it on or off, you can geographically target your adverts to only appear in a specific region of the country, and you can specify the time of day your advert appears too. For example, for B2B enquiries it’s often a good idea to run them during business hours only. Conversely, for B2C you may just choose to run your

adverts after six in the evening. The bottom line is you get much better flexibility, but that comes at a cost and with the drawbacks mentioned. We find Adwords is good for short campaigns, such as seasonal activity or if you’re launching a new product or service, and of course our favourite use is for money term keyword discovery. This is because, unlike a natural search where you can really only optimise a handful of phrases effectively, with Adwords it’s unlimited. Therefore you can place thousands of keywords and phrases into your program at a fixed cost. By using the discovery and conversion method mentioned earlier, you will quickly narrow all of those terms down to your handful of money terms in the space of 30-60 days. For some products and services, Adwords also provides a very nice scalable business model. After the keyword discovery phase, you can move to the bid phase. This is where you determine how much you need to spend on Adwords in order to achieve a commercially viable sale. Once you’re at this point you are in a very strong position, as you will know exactly how much you need to spend in order to get a sale. This means when you need more business you just ramp up your Adwords activity, and when finances are tight you just ramp it down again. Ideally any online business needs to strike a commercially viable balance between natural search and Adwords, and both of these will always bring us back to “money terms”. Happy Googling!

“Brands on Google page one are considered the leading brands by consumers”

Contact: www.fivesite.co.uk

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07/09/2012 12:03


A clean bill of health - IT consultants SpecTronics UK give home nursing company a full check up


hen a well-known care home owner came to SpecTronics UK with a home nursing business badly in need of an IT overhaul, the SpecTronics team were able to use innovative cloud computing solutions and a flexible approach to give his communications systems a clean bill of health. Their client’s focus was on having the ability to communicate with customers quickly and effectively, so the team worked with him to create a bespoke solution. As the client says, “ I was able to hand over to the SpecTronics UK team and trust them to get on with it – they went in whilst the office was being redecorated and did the lot, from network design through to installation of the network infrastructure, right down to computers, screens and telephones. I knew I could trust them to create a system that works perfectly for my needs.” In addition to sorting out hardware, SpecTronics UK moved the company from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps, saving their client money on

both software licencing and hardware maintenance. Company data is now located on Google Drive so it’s available to selected staff at the office and at home – and if an incident at the office damages the physical server, the data is still safe. And it wasn’t just about computers – SpecTronics UK’s Voice over IP telephone solution gave the client several VoIP numbers for different departments, providing routing, call recording, and hold music. This represented a significant cost saving over installing multiple BT analogue or ISDN lines. Their client was delighted, saying, “SpecTronics UK designed a system that works for us – not only that, but they saved us money in the process. I now know that my data is secure and my team can get on with what they do best, namely caring for our clients. The ongoing outsourced support provided by the SpecTronics team means we get IT management services we can rely on, without having to pay an IT manager’s salary.” SpecTronics UK’s Director, Ben Spector, puts the company’s success

down to their personal approach: “By listening to our clients rather than trying to impose a one-size-fits-all solution, everyone ends up with the result they want.” “We give customers a Company Contact so you’re always dealing with the same person, who really understands how your business works, and our support phone line is open 24 hours a day, so major issues can be resolved quickly. After all, nowadays if your IT doesn’t work, you’re losing business.” Cloud computing is growing. According to a recent article in Wired magazine: • A 2011 IBM survey of 2,000 midsize companies found that two-thirds were planning or had already deployed cloud-based technologies. • Worldwide IT spending on cloud computing has increased more than 25 percent from 2008 to 2012. • 30% of SMEs used cloud software in 2011. To find out how SpecTronics UK can help you, call them on 020 7183 6076 or visit the website at www.spectronics.co.uk

Sevagram 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 We realise that technology is vital to the success of any modern company but, too often this can be a distraction preventing you from concentrating on your core activities. Having been in the business for over 15 years our experience and expertise enables us to provide you with the advice you require. Whether you know what you need, or require guidanceon upgrading your existing systems, Sevagram is available to help you.

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05/09/2012 17:20

Focus on marketing USING PR


PRESS! Think you don’t need to advertise? Phil Turtle, MD of Turtle Consulting Group explains how and why SMEs should be using PR to win new business in the recession


e don’t need to advertise, we know all the people we need to communicate with.’ As a management and marketing consultant, I hear this from directors of companies on a weekly basis. Either that or they say: ‘We can’t afford to advertise’. Nearly always, they’re directors of averagely performing companies. The funny thing is that they know, and they know that I know, they are talking rubbish. We both know that what they’re actually saying is: ‘Look, we’re sort of managing at the moment. OK, so the order book’s down, margins are

“If you’re providing a flow of high quality press releases and feature articles, they’ll use it ”

low and advertising is really expensive, so we couldn’t afford it even if we wanted to.’ And of course, they’re quite right – so why didn’t they just say so? Well, to be fair, when your nose is hard to the grindstone you don’t really have the time or the energy to stop and spend time thinking laterally. And of course, believing your own defence statement gives you one less thing to worry about. But it doesn’t really give you less to worry about, because the order book’s still very thin and margins are tight and there are many active competitors, which may not be too bad when the economy is reasonably buoyant.

But when the pendulum swings the other way as it has done now, either you’re the supplier of choice in your marketplace (and you suffer a bit of margin erosion), or you’re much lower down the pecking order and your margins get decimated.

You don’t know everyone

Even though you and your sales people may know the most relevant decision makers in your customer base and some key prospects, they aren’t the only people who need to know about your company. And I’ll guarantee that most of them don’t know half of what your company does or is capable of. 

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Even in existing long-term customer relationships, people move and retire and new people come in. If they don’t know your company, they’ll tend to favour familiar suppliers, and many new brooms want to make their mark and sweep clean. And it doesn’t even have to be your direct contact that changes. It only takes a customer’s new MD to query a lack of competitive reviews. ‘Why aren’t we using so and so?’ he’ll ask, mentioning the name of a higher profile competitor. Of course, he doesn’t know that even though they’re always splattered across the pages of the trade magazines, they can’t do lefthanded gimbal plates as well as you. But why should he – you’ve never tried to tell him and the competition obviously has. So all of a sudden, your long-term

relationship is no longer secure and you find yourself being asked to re-bid for work.

It happens to big companies too

A classic example of a company being caught out by believing their own “we know everyone” mantra was former international car and truck brake manufacturer, Ferodo. They did indeed know many of the right people. Unfortunately, that didn’t help when several of their major customers decided, almost simultaneously, to relocate their R&D functions to Germany. Suddenly, the Ferodo people knew no one. Even worse, the new decision makers didn’t know anything about Ferodo. I was brought in to very rapidly implement an aggressive advertising, PR, direct marketing and high-level

“There is a more cost effective way for businesses to communicate with other businesses, and that is PR”

sales operation. In this case, the damage was successfully limited but it was an expensive exercise that could have been avoided by ongoing low-key, low-cost business-to-business promotion, centred on PR.

Who needs to know you?

There are various groups of people or audiences who it is in your best interests to make – and keep – aware of your company. They vary from the “must know a lot about us” specifiers and decision makers, to the “must think we’re a decent company” directors who sign off the purchase requisition. But all of these people need to know how good your company is, the breadth of products/services you offer, which of their peers you also work for, how working with you rather than your competitors

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helps them make better profits…and so on.

These people should really know about you…

But we still can’t afford to advertise…

• • • • • • • •

Advertising is not the only way to gain awareness, and it certainly would be a very expensive way to communicate with all of the people you need to reach. It has its place in the marketing communications mix, but there is a more cost effective way for businesses to communicate with other businesses, and that is PR.

Business-to-business PR

Sometimes called B2B PR, this is 100% different to the sort of PR you hear about with celebrities, paparazzi and Champagne. It’s even legal, decent and truthful! There’s a total culture difference and, thankfully, editors of trade magazines are not out to sell copies based on sensationalism – they’re in the business of providing high quality, relevant information to their readers about their market sector. Your market sector. In fact, because most trade journals actually have a staff of only one and a bit (the editor and a part-time advertising sales rep), they are almost totally dependent on material submitted by companies. So, if you’re providing a flow of high quality press releases and feature articles or case studies, they’ll use it. If you don’t, they’ll use your competitors’ material instead. Running a PR division, you’d probably expect me to tell you at this point that PR is a really difficult black art. But it’s not. Granted, we at Turtle Consulting have learned a trick or two over the years, which helps, but the core skill is simple hard work and gentle sales technique.

The B2B PR game plan is: (1) Analyse the journals in the sector (remember that many are online magazines these

“Write and distribute press releases on any real news stories you have – but don’t send rubbish”

The purchasing decision maker(s) Specifiers The purchasing officer The board Your competitors Your suppliers Your competitors’ suppliers Your staff

days) and understand what the editors want. (2) Brainstorm the subjects on which your company has something to say, and then speak to the relevant editors. (3) Write and distribute press releases on any real news stories you have – but don’t send rubbish. This way, editors will come to know that your releases will be worth reading and they won’t get binned along with the hundreds of dreadful non-stories they receive every day. (4) Keep a steady flow of material heading towards the editors. Properly done, you should be able to feature in the key titles 10 months out of 12 – maybe even 12 out of 12! (5) Use a cutting service to make sure you pick up on all the coverage you obtain. And don’t just file it; you can reprint into a direct mail and put it on your website or hand out items, which will provide excellent and authoritative ammunition for the sales force. (6) If you don’t want to do all of this yourself, then consider using a PR agency, but only one that specialises in your sector. Ask one of the editors for his/ her recommendation.

Budgets need to be in the hundreds of thousands to be effective. B2B PR on the other hand can start from £0 if you do it yourself, and as little as £15k a year using an agency. You can achieve editorial coverage valued at many times what you spend. We regularly calculate the advertising equivalent value for our own clients, and frequently achieve return on investment from 1000% – and upwards. Of course, there are also good reasons to advertise – particularly when you need to get over a message which is not “news”. And, of course, if no one advertises there won’t be any magazines left for PR to work in. So it is a responsibility to support sector magazines with advertising too. Contact: www.turtleconsulting.com

Cost effective

B2B advertising is far from cheap, with a typical colour page costing from £1700 to £2500, plus the cost of producing the advert. To be effective, it needs to be regular and in several magazines.

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Focus on marketing SALES

that. They might think it’s too expensive compared to their budget. They might think it’s too expensive compared to what they’ve paid in the past. They might think it’s too expensive compared to what they were expecting to pay. However, unless you deal with the fact that, right now, they consider you too expensive, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to win this deal and bring them on board as a customer. Fail to change their belief, and therefore their reality, and you’ll fail to pick up their business.

Sales tip 2: It’s not their fault

You’re how much? Leading sales expert, Andy Preston, looks at whether the objection ‘you’re too expensive’ is legitimate or not


recently noticed a fellow professional speaker post on his Facebook page that a potential client had told him that the fee he wanted to charge them to speak was too expensive. He went on to say he was a bit surprised, as he doesn’t normally get that kind of reaction. Now I know this particular speaker pretty well, and I know that he’s good value for money, but what was most interesting was one of the responses to his post. The person who commented wrote: ‘You can’t be too expensive. You are value for money! They must have cash flow issues’. Now, while I would agree the speaker concerned is most

certainly value for money, there are four quick things we can learn from the other person’s comment.

Sales tip 1: People’s beliefs

are reality – to them The problem I see here is that I think you can be too expensive. One of my favourite sayings when it comes to sales, and pricing in particular, is that people’s beliefs ARE reality – to them. What I mean by this is that if someone says, ‘That’s too expensive,’ it may be that, in the moment, they do consider you too expensive – as long as it’s not a negotiation tactic to bring your price down of course. Obviously there will be some context behind them saying

“Fail to change their belief, and therefore their reality, and you’ll fail to pick up their business”

– it’s yours If someone says to you that you are too expensive, make sure you do not dismiss them and the sales opportunity too quickly. As an ex-sales director, I often used to hear my team come back from new business appointments with excuses like: ‘They weren’t ready to buy’, ‘They didn’t have the budget’, and ‘Our price was too high for them’. My response was usually something along the lines of: ‘Ah, so you failed to deal with their price concern then?’ My belief is that the majority of the time, a price concern or price objection is the salesperson’s fault, not the prospect’s. It might be that the prospect doesn’t see enough value in your offering to think it worthwhile – YOUR FAULT for not positioning your value to them correctly. It might be that the prospect doesn’t have the budget to pay the price you want – YOUR FAULT for not finding that out, or speaking to the person who can make a new budget. It might be that the prospect has bought a similar product/ service in the past and not paid anything like the price you want to charge them now – YOUR FAULT for not finding out their buying history and positioning correctly against it. It might be that the prospect won’t get enough value from

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05/09/2012 15:50

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Focus on marketing SALES

your offering in order to generate the ROI needed to justify the purchase – YOUR FAULT for not qualifying the sales opportunity well enough in the first place. So, is there anything in the above four points that you and your team are guilty of right now? By looking at things you and your team could do to handle sales better, you could increase your chances of closing the deal.

Sales tip 3: Find out and (re)

set their expectations One of the biggest reasons people get price objections is that the price they want to charge isn’t what the prospect was expecting to pay. This often occurs when the salesperson fails to find out, manage or, on some occasions, set, the price expectations of the prospect. In the old days, sales managers used to lecture their reps to ‘make sure you get the customer’s budget before talking about price!’ While back then that was pretty solid sales

advice, these days people don’t always have budgets. They don’t always have cash available right now. But they always have price expectations, and if you don’t find out what they are, or even re-set them in some circumstances, then you’re always going to struggle with objections to your price. How well do you and your team set prospects’ price expectations at the moment? “The majority of the time, a price concern or price objection is the salesperson’s fault, not the prospect’s”

Sales tip 4: Qualify harder early in the process Another reason I find that salespeople come up against price objections, is that often they’re in front of, or speaking to, the wrong people: people that may not have the money to be able to pay the price the salesperson wants to charge, or who may not even have the authority and ability to find extra money if necessary. This is usually caused by a failure to qualify well enough or hard enough earlier in the process. This often results in the salesperson spending lots

of their precious time dealing with people that aren’t able to buy what they’re offering at the price they want to charge. This then leads to the salesperson becoming frustrated, having to walk away from a deal, or heavily discounting just to win the business – none of which are good outcomes for the salesperson. So, while it may indeed be possible for some companies to be “too expensive”, as long as you are doing your homework, speaking to the right people, managing their expectations and qualifying well enough, yours shouldn’t be one of them. Contact: www.andypreston.com

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Managed IT Support

Many companies rely on their web presence as their primary method of communication with new and existing customers. This can vary from brochure style websites through to full e-commerce websites or busy web forums with millions of visitors per month.

Modern businesses rely heavily on the processing power and communications functions of computers, so it’s critically important to keep your IT systems operating reliably and efficiently at all times.

Issues with websites can interfere with getting your message across to the customer. DSIS specialise in fully managed Linux based web development and hosting, providing complete service from the ground up.

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We actively manage servers, ensuring security and software is kept up to date, and monitor services and websites 24/7 allowing issues to be resolved quickly.

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Bespoke solutions and support on your HR and employment needs We can provide the support you need so that you can focus on your core business. Our services include: HR AUDIT

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Focus on people

It’s not what you know… It pays to network. Lee McQueen, director of Raw Talent Academy and former winner of The Apprentice, shares his know-how on building up a pool of contacts from scratch

“People will be far more willing to help a friend than a business acquaintance”

Business is all about building relationships, and networking is one of the best ways to build strong, lasting relationships. When starting out in a business, the first stage of building up a pool of contacts is to ask yourself who you already know. Out of your existing group of friends, who might be willing to share their experiences with you so that you can learn from them? And who do they know? The network that they have already established will help you to expand your own, as one name inevitably leads to another.

Be proactive when networking. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or to arrange face-toface meetings over a coffee, because the chances are that people will be more than happy to answer your questions and pass on advice. Once a relationship is established, make an active effort to keep in touch with them, rather than just contacting them when you need help. This isn’t just a case of asking how they are every so often; drop them a line to tell them about something you have found that might be of interest to them, and suggest meeting to discuss it over lunch. For those who are not born with the gift of the gab, the best approach is to do some preparation before networking opportunities. Decide who your audience is likely to be and work out the most effective way to approach your conversation with them. If you decide to focus on your product, you need to be able to talk passionately about it. Speaking with enthusiasm will not only ensure that your listener immediately understands what your product is, but will also help to create a dynamic business relationship with them. The conversation should not necessarily come across as a pitch; often an informal chat will be far more rewarding. Keeping the conversation away from business and in the realm of a friendly chat is often the best way to network, as it is far more natural to build relationships on friendship than around business. People will be

far more willing to help a friend than a business acquaintance. Building up a network of contacts has many advantages. Between them, these contacts contain a wealth of knowledge and experience which they will be eager to share with someone just starting out in their industry. Take advantage of this knowledge, and ask their opinion on your own business ventures. They will be glad to give you the chance to learn from any mistakes they have made – mistakes they wish someone had warned them against when they were beginning their career. Events that are held within your particular industry are often organised with networking in mind and are the perfect place to build on your base of contacts. At such events, people are expecting you to come up to them to ask for their professional advice or to exchange business cards, and these are great opportunities to get your name known. Social media is also extremely helpful. Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn are all designed as networking tools and so should be fully taken advantage of. A career or a business will go nowhere without a good pool of contacts to back it up, so make the most of every networking opportunity you come across. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.com

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Focus on people MATERNITY COVER

Darren Briers, managing director for Able Labels

Kavita Somaroo, marketing manager for Cool Logistics

Neil Thompson, MD of Rocket

THE BABY BOOM When it comes to marketing maternity cover, which is better – hiring or using agency staff? We take a gander at the pros and cons


o your marketing manager is heading off on maternity leave, for what may seem like an eternity, to focus on her new family. When she leaves it will create a gap in headcount; however, more importantly, it will leave a gap in your business’ skill set and experience, all of which are key to achieving your objectives and targets. Marketing covers such a broad remit, and affects areas you may not even have thought of – from marketing strategy to competitor analysis, your website to your advertising, business collateral to events and PR to name but a few. So, what should you do? Interestingly, businesses may have a choice they hadn’t thought of before. Marketing agencies have reported a recent trend in businesses requesting the help of a fullservice marketing agency to step in and support them

during their marketing manager’s maternity leave, a situation which potentially brings with it a host of benefits in the right circumstances.

Financial benefits “I could walk out the door on my last day knowing that my job was in safe hands”

The traditional route to cover maternity leave is to contract a recruitment agency. Businesses do this in the hope that the recruitment agency will find someone with the right experience, skills and attitude, who is based in the right location and is up for taking on the challenge of stepping into someone’s shoes for a short period of time. All of which is charged at a premium. Recruitment agency fees can range between 15-20% and beyond. It can also take upwards of two and a half months to find and recruit a maternity cover position, bringing with it uncertainty and requiring significant resources to manage the

process of interviewing potential candidates and giving feedback. A marketing agency, which can supply the desired amount of cover, obviously doesn’t accrue the costs associated with recruiting a person to fill the marketing manager’s position. In line with budget, a fixed monthly cost can be agreed for these marketing services to cover the marketing activities that are planned. This can be aligned to the monthly salary of the marketing manager, so no additional funds are required.

Skill set security

Bringing in a marketing agency also provides security. Businesses get the reliability of an experienced, wellestablished agency, pulling on the talents of a team of marketers with a greater sum and more varied knowledge than one full-time person. The risk is spread.  talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 87

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Outsourcing your HR requirements can help you make effective changes to your business If you’re looking for your business to be more effective there are almost certainly changes you will need to make. As a professional HR consultancy, Base HR can take the headache out of your employee issues and offer expertise during that time of change. Managed in the right way, HR change contributes to the success of your business working in line with your overall strategy giving you visible results.

Base HR is a leading consultancy firm based in central UK and we pride ourselves on our professional, discrete and trustworthy service We don’t use jargon and we work in partnership with you so you’re always aware of progress and can integrate seamlessly with your business. Our fresh approach to HR, combined with our knowledge and experience, always produces an outcome you’ll benefit from.

Our services are flexible, giving you the ability to choose the level of support you need. From Keystone Retainers – a secured number of hours with our multi-sector experts, Big Red Button – your emergency service for advice in isolated cases, to working with us on a consultative basis in your HR projects. We will help you build your future through successful people.

Call 0844 482 8882 for a coffee and a chat with us!

Giving businesses a platform to shout from At Badger PR we work exclusively with small businesses to offer strategic guidance and the right tools to get their businesses soaring out of the thicket. For further information on how we can work for you please contact us on: 020 3654 7881 or info@badgerpr.co.uk

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Focus on people MATERNITY COVER

People problems

Getting a marketing agency on board can actually overcome a host of people-related potential issues too. For example, it will save time on individual inductions, and no further company benefits will need to be offered (such as holiday, pension or allowing a new employee to be part of a profit share scheme). Time off due to sickness is no longer an issue – a marketing agency has access to a larger team than just one individual.


The marketing manager herself receives more flexibility with this option. The length of maternity leave is often unknown – the Government allows anything up to a year before maternity pay is affected, and maternity leave can still be extended after this time. Knowing that an agency is holding the reins, it can be a lot easier for the marketing manager to return either earlier or later to her position, depending on her own circumstances, without affecting another person’s arrangements. This allows the company to be more flexible for the new mother when she wishes to return to work, and with this flexibility of scaling down your requirements comes the option of a phased return to work and the handing over of current tasks.

“We actually have people internally who are keen to get into the attractive world of marketing”

their marketing manager’s maternity leave would be the best, most cost-effective and least disruptive choice. Kavita Somaroo, Cool Logistics’ marketing manager who has just returned from seven months of maternity leave, said: ‘This gave myself and the leadership team great peace of mind. Getting the experts to come in and drive our marketing strategy and campaigns, as well as running our PR, exhibitions and answering marketing queries, was a great choice for us as a business. I could also walk out the door on my last day before my maternity leave knowing that my job was in safe hands.’ ‘The birth of this new approach to solving a real headache for businesses is being seen as a breath of fresh air,’ said Neil Thompson, MD of Rocket. Jeanette Clarke, a CIPD senior HR manager agreed, saying: ‘Marketing support may not be delivered onsite but this can be easily overcome with today’s communication technologies. The rewards of this solution seem to deliver many more benefits, as well as peace of mind.’

When doesn’t it work?

There are always two sides to a story. Darren Briers, managing director of

Northamptonshire-based Able Labels, will soon be needing to arrange cover for the company’s marketing manager as she goes on maternity leave. Darren said: ‘We actually have people internally who are keen to get into the attractive world of marketing, and this proposal would take that opportunity away from them. It also may take a bit of time to get a marketing agency up to speed on the company and the way we work. Having said that, it’s the balance between providing an internal opportunity, and getting the experts on board.’

To conclude…

Reaching out to a marketing agency to cover maternity leave may not be for everyone. There will be occasions where a business could look to cover maternity leave internally, if there is the right skill set to fill the position. However, the option of getting a marketing agency to provide cover offers an alternative to costly recruitment agencies, and brings security, flexibility and access to a host of experienced marketers. Food for thought indeed. Contact: www.rocket-creative.com

Will the company really benefit?

Cool Logistics, a healthcare packaging manufacturer which specialises in the design of temperature-controlled packaging, recently put this set-up to the test. Cool Logistics expanded the remit of the ongoing support from its marketing agency. The board decided that, of the options available, asking their marketing agency Rocket to step up its support during

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05/09/2012 15:29


Leading diversity expert Mui Li talks us through the foundations of culture assumption, behaviour and outcomes in the workplace

Culture SHOCK “The effect of our behaviour can have immediate impact”

To be able to get a clear grasp of this topic, we must really go back to the building blocks (intended as foundations, but frequently barriers), of values and beliefs.

Values and beliefs

To value something is to place importance on it. Values are those things that are important to us. They permeate most of what we do, and they are the key to what we do and why we do it. Beliefs can change according to personal and professional experiences – they may change slowly or rapidly, dependent on the individual’s knowledge and skill in being able to take on new and/or conflicting information.

Values and beliefs can change life situations; how we think can create barriers as much as what we think. To know how best to communicate, one needs to know how a person thinks. Beliefs can change with experience and with specific events that have an impact on our thoughts and feelings, such as bereavement, ill health etc. A change in the way we think and feel about something can also be positive, such as birth, a change of environment, change of job, personal and professional achievements or change of circumstances. A lot will depend on the individual’s sense of self-worth, identity and confidence, as well as their ability to forgive themselves and others.


Our behaviour influences the behaviour of others. Our behaviour is what people see, and what others judge us by. We often don’t know what drives other people’s behaviour, but can, at vulnerable times, see it as something we have caused as opposed to thinking: ‘I really don’t know what is going on for them, and I will have to make a decision as to whether I choose to ask them about it or leave them be.’ Our behaviour is the outward manifestation of our values, beliefs, assumptions, expectations and experiences. The effect of our behaviour can have immediate impact.

The power of cultural beliefs

The term “culture” often refers to the system of assumptions, values, beliefs, sentiments and perspectives, many of them unconscious and taken for granted, which members of a group have in common. Most, if not all, cultures are in a state of change and development, and are affected and influenced by other cultures. We are products of our family, culture, history and social environment. This means that it is the experiences from these groups, and those that we encounter in our day-today lives, which influence the way we behave and the way we respond to others. Our values and other people’s values have a direct impact on the way we perceive ourselves, and the way we see others; the same is true for everyone. Those perceptions may be positive or negative. This is, in turn, given a more public form, by the way in which we end up behaving in the workplace. By being aware of what our values are, we can choose to behave in particular ways or not. Contact: www.muikaleadership.com

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THE RETURN FROM YOUR HR BUDGET… with Croner Simplify – a proactive HR SOLUTION that will allow you to: n Reduce risk n Cut administration n Save money Everything you need for best practice Human Resources and Health & Safety management – smart systems, sound judgement and deep insight – brought together in one practical and proactive service. It couldn’t be simpler.

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Looking for an affordable, professional and comprehensive Human Resource service? The Employers Choice for Outsourced Human Resources Are you getting the most from your workforce?

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Managing employment law and Human Resources is a full time job that requires expertise. Your business is only as good as the people you employ and the way that they are For more managed. If your business information on is to grow and prosper how we can help and if you want to your business call improve on the products and services you provide selecting the right staff is crucial. Under performing staff have to be managed effectively without the risk of costly litigation.Emplaw provide a unique, comprehensive and affordable solution to your HR headaches. This will bring measureable benefits to your organisation leaving you with the time and peace of mind to concentrate on your core business.

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Affordable HR Solutions Affordable HR Solutions can take care of your ad hoc people issues enabling you to focus on your core business. We work flexibly in terms of both location and hours and will tailor our service to meet your needs.


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Safety is our Goal! What’s yours?

Turner Business Consultants Ltd providing advisory services in all aspects of health and safety management including; • Risk Assessment • Workplace Inspections • Auditing • Competent Person Assistance • Fire Risk Assessment • CDM Coordination

At Turner Business Consultants we also run various training courses held at our own business centre, these include; • First Aid • CITB SMSTS & SSSTS• IOSH Managing Safely • PASMA • Asbestos Awareness • Ladder Safety

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09/07/2012 15:51

Focus on people EXECUTIVE STRESS

‘Stress at the top? I’ve never heard of it!’ This is the opinion of many entrepreneurs and business leaders, but since the economic downturn, more and more people in senior positions are falling under the pressures of executive stress. But how “If you choose does an entrepreneur get to ignore it, it stressed, and once it happens, can manifest how can you deal with it? Everyone can get stressed itself into more serious at times, but it’s how you deal mental health with it that matters. If you choose to ignore it, it can, problems” over time, manifest itself into more serious mental health problems further down the line. Many people find that they work years to get to the top of their profession and some find that they want to start their own business. However, just because you are a driven

person, it does not mean that you are exempt from the pressures of the job. When work becomes your life and your stress levels are crying out for help, it is time to stand back and take a deep breath. Worrying and stressing all the time can lead to lots problems, even problems with your physical wellbeing if persistantly ignored. In order to conquer executive stress, you have to balance your life to suit your needs. Ask yourself a few simple questions: • what do I want? • what do I need? • what would make me happy? • how can I achieve this? • is it realistic? Executive stress can cause all sorts of ongoing problems. It may start with stress, but can

Take a load off

We get the low down on the problem of executive stress from executive coach and stress-busting expert, Christine Elvin

quickly lead to anxiety and depression if you’re not careful. Many individuals aren’t aware of side effects that come as a result of stress; some may feel that they are constantly under the weather, some may have flu-like symptoms and some may have disrupted sleeping patterns. This, paired with a hectic work life, can leave you feeling emotionally unbalanced. When working with executives, I often find control issues are at the root of the problem. If they have control of every situation, they believe that the business will be a success. Letting go is normally a big issue, but if you can successfully delegate to your team, you will feel freer to focus on your own work. Delegating is about prioritising, looking at the talents and skills of your work force and trusting your team to do a good job. If you feel that your current team cannot cope with the pressure of delegation, perhaps it is time to look at expanding, or at least hiring interns to take a load off of your busy day. It may be hard at first, but lifetime changes are in order. It is important to stop depriving yourself of free time. At the weekend turn off your phone and don’t check your emails, find a hobby, engage with friends; make sure you have a life besides work. Self-awareness is very important when you have a demanding job: once you have insight of how you are feeling, take the challenge, look at the situation, set goals, overcome barriers and take the first step to change. Contact: www.christineelvin.com

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Focus on people SECRET DIARY

SECRET DIARY OF AN ENTREPRENEUR From Paris to Milan: September’s diary comes to us courtesy of Caroline Stanbury, founder of luxury gifting website, Gift Library, as she goes in search of more beautiful things for her online marketplace


aroline Stanbury founded Gift Library in 2008, after seeing a gap in the market for an international service that provided exceptional gifts at the click of a button. Despite launching a luxury business in the recession, Caroline has grown the company 100% yearon-year, and now employs 12 full-time staff, shipping to more than 80 countries. Caroline’s background in fashion has allowed her to court some of the best designers, and having strong luxury brands has set Gift Library apart from its competitors. Alongside this, with Gift Library being purely online, it retains the advantage of having its shop window in every household and office worldwide. Caroline is a hands-on CEO and hand-picks every item that is listed on the website. This role means she travels extensively, sourcing independent and established designers with the aim of finding beautiful things. We took an exclusive look at the diary from her latest business jaunt, which took her from Paris to Milan.

Day 1: Paris I am stopping off in Paris for one night only, before arriving at my final destination of Milan; it is Couture Week in Paris, which means many of the biggest names in fashion are in town, and it is a great networking opportunity for anybody in the industry. My first meeting is with Alex Azoulas, founder of Wijet, about a potential collaboration with Gift Library and his private jet business. We both have a strong stable of highnet clients, and there are many opportunities for us to work together, especially with the launch of Gift Library’s first catalogue later this year. I walk away from the meeting excited at the prospect of potentially moving things forward, and get straight on the phone to my London team to arrange another meeting for when I am back in the capital. For lunch, I meet with one of my mentors and close friends who is always a great sounding board for any new ideas I have. We meet at George Cinq Hotel – one of my favourite places in Paris – and I run through some of my

“I leave Milan exhausted, but pleased that I have achieved so much; I find it exhilarating”

“I still get a buzz from signing a new deal”

plans for the next 12 months. As well as a new website and catalogue, I have ambitious plans for the company in 2013, and am determined to grow the business further. For more than three hours we discuss various ideas and her input makes me feel confident that we are on the right track. Although it has been a long lunch meeting, I also meet people for dinner; I need to make the most of being here. I meet with Marigay McKee, chief merchant at Harrods, to discuss upcoming brands. It is my passion to foster new and emerging talent on Gift Library, and Marigay advises me on some designers to meet while I am in Milan. After dinner, we move on to a drinks reception where I meet a number of business connections. I have an in-depth chat with Santiago Gonzalez, owner of accessories label, Nancy Gonzalez, and we arrange a meeting to discuss business in a more formal setting. I have been in Paris for less than 24 hours, but am very pleased with what I have achieved.

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Focus on people SECRET DIARY

Day 2 and 3: Milan I am up early and on my way to Milan. The last few days have been manic, with me constantly on the phone to the office in London. I have a fantastic team, however we are currently launching a new catalogue and redesigning the Gift Library website, and everything needs my approval. I am very pleased with what I have seen so far, and I made some useful connections in Paris, so the madness has been worth it. I love Milan, and I’m here to meet some exciting new designers that are potential stockists for Gift Library. I regularly travel for work and I have already visited Milan a number of times this year. I have found that the luxury market is continuing to boom in Milan, despite the economic downturn. I founded the company more than

three years ago and have built up a strong stable of more than 100 brands on the site, from highly established names such as Rolex, to emerging young talents such as Bex Rox. I still get a buzz from signing a new deal, and love the fact that my job gives me the chance to meet with designers – and often customers too. Whenever I visit Milan I always stay at the Armani Hotel; it’s such a beautiful hotel but I sadly have very little time to relax when I’m on a business trip. As soon as I have unpacked it’s straight out of the door to my first meeting. I decide to do my first meeting over dinner. I head to Risacca, a famous fish restaurant in Milan – the best seafood in town. I am meeting with Fabio Borriello, who founded Les Privees, a new, modern brand from Milan which designs beautiful bracelets. The brand has been a success in Italy,

but has yet to come over to the UK, and I am keen for Gift Library to have the exclusive rights. The evening is a success and I leave with the Les Privees deal. The following day is back-toback meetings before heading to the UK in the early evening. I meet with Francesca Versace to see her new line of handbags, plus two other designers that I sign to Gift Library. I leave Milan exhausted, but pleased that I have achieved so much; I find it exhilarating. While waiting for the plane to take me back to the UK, I call my daughter for a quick chat – I have missed her over the last few days. I love travelling for work but it is hard when you have a young family. But Gift Library is my passion, and I can’t imagine life without it. Contact: www.gift-library.com

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Focus on


Succeeding online can be the key ingredient to growing a business through difficult times. Here’s how, by Vashi Dominguez, founder of DiamondManufacturers.co.uk




s the world economy continues to struggle, more and more companies are looking to the Internet to help their business performance. But just having an online presence is certainly no guarantee of success. Here are some of the best ways to succeed online in these difficult economic times:

Invest in your website “Today’s consumer is more techsavvy than ever before”

During a recession or tough economic times, it is natural to look to cut costs wherever possible, but your website should be one area where you maintain, or even increase, your investment. Today’s consumer is more tech-savvy than ever before, and the Internet is starting to play a larger part in many purchases. Consumers research online, compare prices, and obtain recommendations from experts and friends. If they come across your website at any point in their purchase process, then you need to ensure that you are giving them the best possible online experience to increase the chances that they will return. Conduct an in-depth review of your website: does it provide the information that your visitor is after? Do you make it easy for the visitor to contact you, make a purchase, or request more information? Does the site load quickly? Is the site welldesigned and engaging? Do you

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Focus on technology ONLINE SUCCESS

give clear guidance on what your visitor should do next? If the answer to any of these is no, then you need to make changes. The classic problem that faces most online retailers is the inability for the visitor to touch and feel the product. While it is impossible to completely remove this issue, there are steps you can take to limit the problem. Firstly, ensure that your product photography is as good as it can be and show the item you are selling from multiple angles to allow your potential customer to get a real feel for it. At DiamondManufacturers. co.uk, we are asking our customers to part with large amounts of money and make one of the most important purchases of their lives. In an effort to remove this barrier, we recently invested in the creation of 3D animation to display our products from all angles, and give our visitors the best possible view of their purchase. We ran tests to measure the success of the animations, and they resulted in a 30% increase in visitors adding to basket; the increase in our bottom line will far outstrip the initial investment.

Give the best customer experience

In a tough economy, consumers think more carefully about spending their money, especially online with a company that they may not be familiar with or have shopped with in the past. Online consumers who aren’t completely confident in making a purchase will actively seek out recommendations and reassurances for many major purchases. By giving your current customers the best possible experience, you have a greater chance of them passing on their experiences and their recommendations, reaching potential new customers that are searching for these reassurances. Online customer service is often lacking, so ensure

“Offer free delivery and returns or extended warranties, anything that will give your offering greater value”

that your whole company is geared towards satisfying your customers, and that your customer services team are targeted towards giving the best possible service and wowing the customer at each interaction. This will make your customers far more likely to not only shop with you in the future, but to recommend you to others. In the same way that a bad experience can easily be shared by a disgruntled customer through social networking sites, online review sites or blogs, a customer that you have delighted can do the same. At DiamondManufacturers. co.uk, we give every customer a dedicated account manager, who will talk them through each step of their purchase and do everything possible to ensure that they are happy. As a result of the commitment to our customers, we are consistently rated as the top jewellery shop on ReviewCentre.com, a website that gathers independent customer reviews. Our five-star rating has only come from the hard work of our customer services team, and it goes a long way to reassuring potential customers.

Offer unmatched value

In a recession, everyone tries to save money, so it makes

sense to offer the best value. However, this doesn’t always have to mean the lowest prices. Don’t erode your margins by offering the lowest prices, but look to add extra value to your customers: offer free delivery and returns, or extended warranties – anything that will give your offering greater value. From my strong supply chain contacts in the diamond industry, I am able to purchase diamonds at a lower price than our competitors and then pass those savings directly to the consumer. This enabled us to offer the Internet’s best value on diamond jewellery, while also offering the strongest guarantees. But we are selling top quality diamonds and jewellery, and if we focus too heavily on our low prices, we run the risk of making our offering appear cheap to our visitors. Customers clearly don’t want to buy an engagement ring that could be seen as cheap, so we balance our value message with a well-designed website and good images to ensure we get across the high quality products and service that we offer. Contact: www.diamondmanufacturers.co.uk

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Focus on technology MOBILE WEBSITES

HOW SMART IS YOUR SITE? Justin Hayward, business development director at Telnames, explains why small businesses needn’t fear the seismic shift that the smart phone is having on customer behaviour In one of the longest periods of recession we’ve experienced in the last century, and with little sign in the real world for much confidence, I’m often staggered by the amount of time that people are spending online every day on social networks, like Facebook and Twitter. In a time when we’re all looking to keep our jobs, working harder and longer, where on earth do they get the time? Of course, if you’re imagining a nation of people stuck in front of PCs in darkened rooms, or surreptitiously sneaking a ‘Like’ or re-tweeting while the boss isn’t looking, you’re dead wrong. The smart phone is taking over, and it’s something you’re really going to have to get used to. Here are some simple facts: according to YouGov research in May of this year, 47% of those adults that owned a mobile device owned a smart phone (an iPhone or Android equivalent in the main). YouGov anticipates that smart phones will dominate the market with a clear majority (over 55%) within the next 12 months. Think about that for a moment; there’s now a device in your customer’s pocket that’s more powerful than the first rocket to land on the moon by a significant factor, meaning that they no longer need to rush home or to work when they

want to shop, be entertained or be creative. Yet, it’s still costly for them to access the web, with over half of people still on pay-as-you-go subscriptions, so smart businesses are getting mobile-ready to minimise the cost to them. Here’s the reality for the majority of small businesses in the UK: according to more recent research conducted in June by Serif, a UK software company, well over a third of small business owners did not even have a website, and nearly four out of five didn’t have a mobile-ready website. This is an incredible mismatch between where customers are and what they’re doing, and how businesses are responding. There is a seismic shift in how consumers are shopping, engaging with businesses and recommending things they’ve bought to friends and colleagues. For whatever reason, small businesses are simply not reacting quickly enough to this. But react they must if they wish to survive in this economic environment. Addressing this need not be scary, time-intensive, or indeed costly. You simply need to have a place you control online that lets people know what you do, where to find and interact with you and how to reach you. Luckily, there are

organisations (like ours) that are also innovating how you can get online, get mobile-ready and do it in a way that won’t even make your bank account blink, let alone break. Start simple: get your own domain (not sub-domain) name that you control, with a mobile- and search-ready site, promoting the places where you can be found. Use it when connecting with your customers in social networks and on blogs, but prioritise the online marketing channels that work for you. Finally, don’t be scared of the huge opportunity ahead.

“There’s now a device in your customer’s pocket that’s more powerful than the first rocket to land on the moon”

Contact: www.telnames.tel

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Focus on technology APPS

I’VE GOT AN APP FOR THAT… The app is here to stay. And you’ll be surprised how many are out there, designed specifically to support you and your business. We bring you a select few that have caught our eye this month


ow fast technology progresses. Five years ago, very few of us had even heard of an app. Now it seems there’s one for just about every job imaginable – but rather than simply being a novelty feature, these days there are many ingenious tools to help your business, from calculating staff holiday to finding out if a potential client is going to be able to pay for your services. And the best part? Most of them are completely free, or can be bought for a negligible fee. Here are a handful of our favourites...

seeker Price: FREE

The gist: seeker is a free directory assistance-style app for iPhone and Android. Unlike most of its competitors, it does the job of both a directory enquiries and residential front. For entrepreneurs that are just starting out, it’s a further extension of the brand in the hand, which consumers increasingly rely on when out and about. Free for business of all types to add and/or update

their details, the basic listing includes a business’ address, telephone number and opening hours. The seeker app will make it easier than ever before for customers to find a business while they are on the go. For Londoners, tourists and travellers in and around London, seeker can also check the availability of the nearest Barclay Cycle Hire (in real-time).



Price: FREE (to download) The gist: aRMadillo is currently the only phone app in the world that gives business people instant access to company and credit reports on more than 200 million companies in 220 countries. About to sign a contract with someone but are unsure about whether or not they’ll be able to hold up their end of the bargain? You can use

aRMadillo to search for any winding up petitions or court proceedings in a matter of minutes. It’s free to download and free to search. Reports start from £3.99. aRMadillo is now present across all major platforms: iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.

www.armadillo.co.uk 

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A Simple Way to Get New Customers & Make More Sales. PLUS: See The App Developers on the BBC… These guys know sales, they know how to increase sales, and how applications become bespoke sales tools via mobile devices… +44 (0) 1234 834822 hello@the-app-developers.co.uk


reak the conventional way of thinking, an app isn’t a nice to have, or a quirky game, or only for brand awareness. It can be used to put money straight on the bottom line with measurable ROI. By investing in a product to sit within mobile devices in the pockets of people, businesses & clients, on a GLOBAL scale!” Sam Furr.

is fronted by Innocent Drinks founder Richard Reed. The show airs on 12th September, and runs for 6 weeks. So be sure to tune in! The BBC followed the creation of our business, and filmed us settings things up at app HQ. We’ve come a long way since then and the team grows stronger each week.

HOW DO APPS GENERATE MORE SALES? The golden question, and there is not one answer for it, the beauty of applications is the diversity of what can be created and the multitude of uses it can have for your business or brand. Each company is different, and so is each app we create! One example is an iPad Exhibition Display. Put some beautiful product or service showcases on iPad stands in your exhibition space, and people will be able to browse easily, fill out forms to be contacted in the future, and see more of your work… all without the inevitable ‘Salesman’s approach’ you know you face when approaching a stand! Apps can make sales, simple as that. Most probably not in the conventional sense though, so to understand how, give us a call!

SO IS RICHARD REED NOW PART OF THE APP DEVELOPERS? Without giving too much away, Richard Reed saw something interesting in us and now plays a role on the board of The App Devs! What a guy to have on board with us, we’re looking forward to working with Richard in the future!

THE APP DEVELOPERS ON THE BBC? WHY? WHEN?.. WOW!! Yes… We’re being featured on a BBC3 show called Be Your Own Boss, which

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PASSIONATE GEEKS, WHY DO YOU SAY THIS ABOUT YOURSELVES? Because we are! Everyone we meet says the same, never have they met anyone with the same passion and enthusiasm levels that we have! Great for us, and sets us aside from the rest, or so we’re told. We are passionate, we are geeks, we do believe in what we do, and the fact we’re a small business means that our reputation is on the line with EVERY project we complete. Yes we sit on beanbags, and play MarioKart on the SNES at lunch, & drink loads of Redbull, but we work long, hard hours and never let clients down.

WHY ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM OTHER APP AGENCIES? We won’t come to a meeting with you and spend the first hour telling you about us, in fact, unless you ask, we won’t bore you with anything about us! It’s not important, but what is important is how an app can help your business, and we can quickly illustrate that, and the benefits it can bring to your business. APPS ARE REALLY EXPENSIVE AREN’T THEY? No! Not when you start to look at the benefits they bring to your business! Plus, put in place steps to measure ROI and you’ll clearly see the benefit. Apps probably don’t cost as much as you think. How much is an app? Well… how much is a car? It depends what’s under the hood… Apps can tie in social media, gaming, brochures, store finders, product catalogues, shops, exhibition displays, web apps, Facebook apps, iPhone, Android, brand awareness, subscriptions, magazines, and much more!!! To learn more about how apps can help your business, or to laugh at us for acting stupid on camera, please get in touch!

www.the-app-developers.co.uk hello@the-app-developers.co.uk Tel: +44 (0) 1234 834822

04/09/2012 09:39

Focus on technology APPS

Audi Mileage Tracker Price: FREE The gist: Audi UK and Somo have unveiled a car mileage tracker app to help business drivers monitor and share the miles they travel. The Audi Mileage Tracker allows real-time tracking of car journeys using GPS mapping, then automatically calculates the expenses owed based on the claimable amount per-mile or kilometre entered by the user. The app can generate a spreadsheet

that logs journeys over a given period and is integrated into email for easy sharing and minimal paper waste. Drivers can programme regular trips into the app, recall them from the app’s log, or use the simple start/stop function to track new journeys. The app is available to download from the App Store now.



Price: FREE (for the first three employees, 50p per month per employee after that) The gist: Timetastic was built with SMEs in mind, allowing companies with between five and 50 employees to manage staff leave over the Internet or via a mobile phone app. Extremely simple and free to use, holiday requests are made online or via the app and the system automatically emails “the boss”. When the request has been approved, it automatically updates the system and emails employees

back. It’s that simple. Because it’s all online and automatic, there’s no paperwork, no hanging around and no confusion: it’s all in one place and real-time. The system can be tailored to each company’s needs, including holiday allowance allocation per employee and the days of the week each employee works.


Casio Business Portal Price: FREE (for trial period)

The gist: Casio has launched its new Business Portal, with five new software apps designed to help retail businesses get the most from their Android-based EPoS systems. In addition to software apps, the on-line store provides access to Casio’s UK dealer network and product information about new hardware and services. The first five apps will help retailers fight off growing competition from online shopping by improving ways to interact

with customers, make upselling simpler, help generate new revenue streams, and handle stock control and sales reports more efficiently. From YReceipts, which enables retailers to offer custom-designed email receipts in stores, to Hotelier Lite, an easy-to-use but comprehensive reservation management software solution, Casio Business Portal offers an inclusive package for retailers.


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View Your Web to Mobile Convertion

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What is a mobile site and why do you need one? E

ight million people in the UK access the Internet from their smartphone every day.* There are 23 million smartphones in the UK – almost 50% of all mobile phones. Does your business have a mobile friendly site? If not or if you’re not sure - you’ve come to the right place to get started. *Source: comScore, September 2011 When a potential customer visits your website on their smartphone, what will they see? At the recent Google ‘Think Mobile’ presentation Google reported a 400%

increase in the number of searches being carried out on mobile devices compared to the same time last year. This means that one in five Google searches is now being carried out on a mobile device or smartphone. The news is even more alarming for small business owners as one out of every three mobile searches is now local, that is somebody searching for a business, service provider or product in their local area. M Sharma MD of Blackjack Media says: “If you don’t have a mobile optimised version of your website, you are throwing away a large chunk of

your business into the hands of your competitors.” Smartphone usage is expected to overtake desktop usage by as soon as 2013. That means the majority of visitors to your website will soon be on a mobile device. The new generation of mobile users are not just surfing the web, but are looking for specific information about your business. Whether it is your opening hours, your location, phone number or services, if they can’t find what they’re looking for they will go elsewhere. This means your competitors win and you lose out!

What does your website look like on a mobile device? The problem with most standard websites is they are not designed for mobile phones making them hard to engage with for mobile users. Most take too long to load, key information is not displayed prominently, and users need to scroll up and down, zoom in and out to read all the information. Having a mobile optimised version of your website allows you to serve up your website to your mobile customers. All the information will be easily accessible right from the home screen. Customers can call you with just the click of a button and important information such as directions and opening hours are all easily found. The entire website is designed to automatically resize to

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fit all the most popular smartphone devices, so users don’t need to zoom in or scroll around. The simple design means the site jumps right up onto the screen quickly, which is very important for your customers on the move. The good news is creating a mobile website is faster, easier, and cheaper than you think. We’ll do all the hard work for you. Don’t let your competitors beat you to it. Think smart, think Smartphone! Think millions of potential customers. Contact us TODAY on: 01384 456433 / 07984787315 or email: info@blackjackmedia.co.uk to request your FREE sample mobile website.

10/09/2012 13:32


ALL TOGETHER NOW James Campanini, managing director of Cisco WebEx, explains how collaborative technologies can ease the pressures of running a business

There are 4.5 million SMEs in the UK, and despite the support of Government and independent initiatives, ensuring their smooth running doesn’t come without its challenges. Having collaborative solutions in place will not only streamline the running of your business or team, but can also facilitate its growth.

1. Selecting suitable premises

“Keeping on top of the latest tools on offer is hugely important for small businesses”

Finding suitable premises can be difficult and costly but, with remote working on the rise, we are seeing a reduction in the size of office many businesses require. For the smallest of enterprises, space is now available to rent at short notice, meaning owners are able to run their businesses more flexibly, avoiding high business overheads. For mid-sized organisations there are tools, such as file sharing, which enable employees to work remotely.

2. Sourcing the talent

Finding the right staff for your team or business can be challenging, particularly when it comes to taking the leap and increasing headcount – likewise,

accessing the right people with the required skills is often problematic. However, with the right collaboration tools and technologies, employers can reach employees anywhere, at any time, providing access to a talent pool which may not be available more locally. As a result, SME owners are faced with greater choice, able to employ skilled individuals globally and ensuring they have the best staff to fill each role.

3. Making your cash go further Small businesses and teams are under increasing pressure to ensure good cash flow management through keeping costs down and implementing the right processes and technologies. A good example of a tool which is helping SME owners do just that is video conferencing – it allows meetings to be conducted regardless of location, thus reducing travel costs.

4. Stand out from the competition

Competition is always going to be a challenge. In order to meet targets, constraints on day-today business tasks cannot be

afforded. Freeing up your time to attend several meetings in one day by hosting them online means you could sign four deals, not one.

5. Work/life balance

Starting a new business takes a significant amount of time and commitment. It’s very easy to run yourself and your personal life into the ground attempting to ensure the security of your business. Implementing flexible and collaborative tools means that you have the option to work from home, or adjust your hours for personal commitments. Today’s business owner needs the flexibility to adapt business processes, utilising technology that allows their business to run more efficiently: free from the constraints of traditional nine to five routines. XaaS applications are going a long way in providing SMEs with the infrastructure to enable them to do just this; offering a cost effective, highly secure solution with the flexibility to meet changing demands quickly. Contact: www.webex.co.uk

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Need a website? About us:

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 IT.

What we do: Communications - Business broadband (ADSL, Fibre, Annex M), VPN Services (Site-to-site, Remote Access) Cloud Applications - - Hosted Exchange 2010, Cloud Storage (virtual file server), Content Filtering & Malware Protection Support - Our cost effective support package allows us to become a virtual IT helpdesk for all users across your business, leaving you to concentrate on what you do best

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06/09/2012 09:51

Focus on technology GADGETS

Cases to sigh for…

If you have an A-class gadget, it’s only natural you want an A-class case to carry it in. Whether for a tablet or a laptop, there’s a case to suit every piece of tech and every taste

Aukward iPad case

Concrete Hook case

The aukward case is a British-made iPad cover, which is both beautiful and functional, offering all-round protection for the iPad. The rigid outer book-style cover gives the iPad protection while helping to keep British artisan skills alive and providing all the functionality you would expect of modern technology: automatic on/off facility as you open and shut your case, fold-over ability for ease of typing, and accessible ports and buttons, as well as some serious testing to ensure it keeps your iPad safe. The aukward case is designed to be carried with pride, much like a notebook or a leather portfolio case, rather than hidden away in a bag or briefcase. www.aukward.com

The Hook case is multifunctional and can be used as a hand or shoulder bag or as a backpack. Laptops or notebooks obtain maximum protection in a very strong design, beautifully made of soft leather and reinforced through the aluminium frame corners. The case also has a superb padded suede lining in colours that compliment the exterior, including forest green with purple-blue lining, antelope brown with cobalt blue lining, red-brown with black lining and charcoal-black with orange lining. Three types of handle are available in various lengths that can easily be attached to the chrome corners with specially manufactured carbine hooks. www.concretecases.com

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Focus on technology GADGETS

NUU iPad KeyCase

Crosskase Solar 15 backpack

NUU, the leading provider of accessories for the iPhone and iPad, has recently launched a new range of iPad3 cases with fully functioning keyboards. Heading up the range is the NUU KeyCase, which is equipped with a re-chargeable QWERTY keyboard, transforming the iPad3 into a portable office essential. The synthetic leather design provides unrivalled protection that cushions the iPad3, while boasting a stylish and attractive design. It comes complete with a stylus too, perfect for those working on the move. www.gonuu.com

As a business commuter, you’ll often need power to keep essential gadgets going, as well as a secure and protective way to carry your belongings. The Crosskase Solar 15 backpack combines these attributes in one stylish, feature-packed accessory. An integrated 3 Watt solar panel on the front of the bag soaks up natural light and stores the energy generated inside the internal battery. This can then charge most handheld devices on-the-go (phones, music players, GPS, pocket consoles) in just two hours. In-built pockets offer extra protection, including storage for 13”, 14” and 15” laptops and iPad/iPod devices. www.crosskase.com

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05/09/2012 16:01

Focus on franchise

Franchise news EWIF announces new leadership

Franchise Opportunities Live 2012 comes to Heathrow

ENCOURAGING WOMEN into Franchising (EWIF), has announced that the position of Chair will be undertaken jointly by Louise Harris, franchise director of Wilkins Chimney Sweep and Louise Bruce, managing director of Big Red Box. Louise Harris and husband Peter franchised their business, Wilkins Chimney Sweep, in late 2010 and they now have seven franchisees. Louise Bruce runs Big Red Box PR, specialising in offering PR services to the UK franchise sector. Former Chairman and founder, Clive Sawyer, said: ‘I am delighted that Louise Harris and Louise Bruce have stepped forward to take over the running of EWIF, an organisation I set up in 2008 and ran for four years. ‘However, I now feel the time is right for new blood to take it forward and I’m pleased to hand over the baton to the two Louises with my very best wishes.’ Clive will remain a director of EWIF.

FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITIES Live 2012, the event aimed at bringing together prospective franchisees with suitable franchisors in a more efficient way, will take place on 7 and 8 September at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel. Organiser, Venture Marketing Group, will match potential franchisees from its databases against the franchisee recruitment profile of attending franchisors. This will be followed by in-depth telephone conversations with prospects, and pre-arranging one-to-one meetings between the two parties over the course of the two-day event. Prospective franchisees attending the scheduled meetings will also benefit from one night’s free accommodation in the hotel and an invitation to an exclusive ice-breaker evening with franchisors on the Friday night.

Features of the event include a Franchisee Panel, where existing franchisees will discuss and answer questions about their own experiences, and a Business Plan Clinic, with financial experts offering advice to maximise chances of securing capital. Entry is free. For more information go to: www.franchiseinfo.co.uk/ exhibition/register

Last chance to enter Startups Awards 2012 FRANCHISE BUSINESSES looking to submit nominations for the Franchisee of the Year category of the ninth annual Startups Awards 2012, must do so by 14 September. Sponsored by NatWest and organised by Startups.co.uk, the awards recognise the success of British businesses which have been trading for less than three years. The Franchisee of the Year category is looking for a franchise owner who has already exceeded targets and satisfied customers, thereby representing the franchise in a positive light in the process. Former winner of the Online Business of the Year Award 2011, David Grimes, said: ‘Being named

as the Startups Online Business of the Year was an unbelievable feeling. ‘Being recognised by such a prestigious Awards scheme has done wonders for myparceldelivery. com and all the team here.’ There are 13 awards up for grabs this year, including two new categories: Trade Business of the Year and Freelance Business of the Year. David Lester, founder of Startups.co.uk, said: ‘As one in three start-up businesses don’t make it beyond the first year of trading, we are rightly proud of the Startups Awards, which recognise those that successfully negotiate these early hurdles.’

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05/09/2012 16:03

Focus on franchise SPOTLIGHT

“Each franchisee produces refilled cartridges on site, using the latest technology”

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT… Cartridge World It’s the turn of the UK’s largest printer cartridge specialist to go under the franchise spotlight. Paul Muxlow, franchise manager for Cartridge World, tells us what makes the brand so special With 200 spots left before the UK is at capacity franchise-wise, there’s still plenty of opportunity for those looking to buy into top cartridge specialist, Cartridge World. What does it take to succeed in a competitive market? Passion, dedication and cutting edge equipment according to franchise manager Paul Muxlow…

Talk us through your franchise

Cartridge World is the UK’s largest printer cartridge specialist, providing high quality products, which are both cost effective and environmentally friendly. We currently have more than 1,600 franchisees in 60 countries, including 200 in the UK. Each franchisee produces refilled cartridges on site, using the latest technology only available at Cartridge World, ensuring quality products for the customer and high profit margins for the franchisee.

What makes Cartridge World special?

We have years of experience in the printing industry and this, combined with the hard work and passion of our research and

development teams, has led to the creation of our own products and production equipment. We also offer a range of support to all our franchisees through: • regional meetings • online technical forums • monthly in-house magazines • annual conferences • technical and customer service hotlines • dedicated, field based business development managers to help with all aspects of the business

What’s the earning potential?

What do you look for in a franchisee?

Bigger and better things ahead?

We are looking for people who are passionate about developing a business in order to help our global brand grow.

Let’s talk wonga…

The total investment required depends on the model the franchisee wants to operate. Our initial investment is £29,950, which covers the licence fee, training and launch marketing. Other outgoings to take into consideration are the cost of equipment and stock, lease on a property, working capital and vehicle wrap among other ad hoc variables.

Printer cartridges are always in demand, with more than 50% of UK homes owning at least one printer. Cartridge World’s business customers also have a high turnover of cartridges. As a result, the company’s tried and tested business formula has the potential to turn over £500,000 a year. With a network average gross profit of 65% and net profit of 25%, the earning potential is dictated by the franchisee.

We estimate the UK capacity to be around 400 stores, which gives plenty of opportunity for any new franchisee to create a profitable territory. As well as opening satellite and concession stores, franchisees are encouraged to be actively involved in the business-to-business market. Therefore, owning a Cartridge World franchise enables the franchisee to run a scalable business which can grow to match their aspirations. Contact: www.cartridgeworld.co.uk

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Contact: Janet Matthews t: 01530 513307 e: info@thezipyard.co.uk Total Cost: Approx. £33,000 + VAT plus shop fit Type: Retail


Jill Phillips (46) admits to being ‘very cross’ when she was made redundant from her job in credit control for a major US corporation based in Basingstoke in September 2011. However, in under 12 months Jill became the proud owner of The ZipYard in Basingstoke and admits it was probably the best thing that ever happened to her.

From Redundancy

To The ZipYard


Jill Phillips lived in Hannover Germany from the age of 14 for over 20 years with her father, an Ex-RAF serviceman, and German mother. In 2006 after both parents passed away and Jill was working as a Business Manager for the Salvation Army, she made the decision to move back to the UK. It was then that she met husband to be Gerald (55) and became a Credit Analyst in the UK offices of a major US corporation based in Basingstoke.

Made redundant

After five years with the company and by then a Team Leader Jill was informed that she was to be made redundant. “I was really cross when I found out I’d been made redundant. I thought it was a job for life and I didn’t know what to do with myself.” Jill ‘ran away’ back to Germany for a couple of weeks visiting friends, and spent time ‘mulling things over’ on her return. “I watched This Morning every day and couldn’t really muster up much enthusiasm to do anything, then Christmas came and I thought ‘Right, you’ve got to get yourself going girl’.

How did you hear about The ZipYard?

“One day Jill’s husband Gerald returned home from a trip to the doctors clutching an advertisement he’d seen in a magazine in the waiting room, all about The ZipYard. He was very excited about it but Jill admits her initial reaction was ‘But Gerald I don’t even sew!”

advertorial v1.indd 26

Had you considered running your own business before?

“I wanted to be my own boss, manage my own time and benefit from my own efforts but I wasn’t sure doing what.” Jill agreed to contact Nigel Toplis, franchisor of The ZipYard, to get a bit more information but still felt she needed a bit more time to think it over. Nigel suggested she pay a visit to Richard McConnell, owner of the ZipYard in Altrincham. “Gerald and I went to stay in Altrincham for a Valentines weekend break and visited Richard’s centre. We were very excited by what we saw and I felt I could manage this kind of business. That was in the February and after that it all happened very quickly, finding premises, training, hiring staff and doing all the legal stuff.”

When did you launch?

“We opened on Monday 21 May 2012. I was nervous, but quietly confident. It’s scary setting up any business but in the current climate it’s particularly difficult.”

How is it going?

“I’m really happy. I’m in the right place. Our sales figures are good and the feedback from local people is so encouraging. People come into the centre and say to me ‘This is just what Basingstoke needs. Thanks for opening here.’ “ “Recently we were kept really busy due to the races at Ascot, altering garments for race goers and on behalf of department stores.”

Has the franchisor been supportive?

“Yes the whole team has been fantastic. From the training, which was very hands-on, to the huge level of support I’ve had, it’s all been great. Although it’s my business and the buck stops with me, I’ve never felt alone or out on a limb. It’s been teamwork from day one.”

What are your plans for the future of the business?

“Once this business has been up and running for a while I’d love to branch out with another one somewhere else. For now I’m happy just focusing my efforts on Basingstoke and making a success of it. I’ve just taken on another seamstress so the business is growing already.”

Would you recommend The ZipYard to other potential franchisees?

“Most definitely. I’m learning all the time and it’s such a sociable business. I really enjoy talking to the customers and I get such a feeling of satisfaction from seeing how happy they are when their clothes fit properly.”

Any advice to offer other women thinking of setting up a franchise?

“As a woman I can recommend the business. All I’d say is you have to want to succeed and know what your own capabilities are.”

10/09/2012 13:35


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: jmatthews@thezipyard.co.uk 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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10/09/2012 10/08/2012 13:35 15:01

Focus on franchise TAKE ONE FRANCHISEE

Take one franchisee: Recognition Express, Hull and East Riding We catch up with Jan Chidley about her first four years as a franchisee for the specialist producer of corporate recognition products, Recognition Express

Jan Chidley, a New Zealander by birth, first came to England at the age of 21 for a working holiday. She tried a multitude of jobs, including banking, working as a nanny and a credit controller, before meeting her husband Chris and starting a family. Having been a full-time mum providing stability for the children while they travelled the world with Chris’ job, Jan decided in 2008 that it was now her time, and set up Recognition Express Hull and East Riding. Jan had been out of the workplace for 18 years and was apprehensive about starting her own business.

Why franchising?

I had a business back in New Zealand with my father, growing apples. We sold it and I decided that I wanted to do something in the UK now that my family are nearly all grown up. I liked the idea of doing something that is my own business but where I am supported. My husband, Chris, is the CEO of a large nationwide franchise,

Driver Hire, and I could see the benefits of being part of a franchise. There is a list of support needed when starting a new business, and on a day-to-day basis, it is good to know you can pick up the phone and there will be help at the end of the line.

Why Recognition Express?

Nigel Toplis and the team are very supportive; there is a wide range of good quality products and hence a broad range of potential customers, and the business model is sound. My husband Chris was aware of Recognition Express and had met Nigel on several occasions. We both felt that it was the right sort of business for me.

How’s it going?

The support I’ve received from Recognition Express has been exceptional, so much so that at the end of my first year I had achieved all my financial targets. The business is going extremely well.

What advice would you give to other women thinking of starting their own business?

It is hard work, with a lot of commitment required, but if you get it right, it is extremely satisfying. It is all about meeting people on a regular basis, forming good relationships and being able to deliver the end product. Having my own business gives me flexibility around my home life – however, it is important to remain focused on the business and to continue to put in the time required to keep things on the up.

Would you recommend franchising to other women?

“It is hard work, with a lot of commitment required, but if you get it right it is extremely satisfying”

I would. While you have to do your homework before signing on the dotted line, you should be buying into a proven business model. For busy women this can be an appealing option.

Investment level: £30,000 + VAT Contact: www.recognition-express.com

118 September 2012

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05/09/2012 16:07

Find your

dream business with


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

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

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

Visit FranchiseSales.co.uk now to start your search

edit2.indd 1

02/07/2012 16:33:48


“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.

advertorial v1.indd 27

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.”

Come and visit Signs Express on stand G10 at The National Franchise Exhibition, 5 & 6 October, NEC Birmingham. To find out about Signs Express franchise opportunities call 0800 731 2255 or visit http://franchise.signsexpress.co.uk

30/08/2012 15:50

Focus on franchise PROS AND CONS


It’s a big step, deciding to franchise a business. Andy Alderson, MD of Vanarama, offers valuable advice on the benefits and pitfalls having franchised his vehicle leasing business earlier this year

Why do it?

“Recruiting franchisees is a selection process, not a sales process”

By definition, an entrepreneur wants to continue to build capital by taking risks. This is my main reason for franchising. I have developed Vanarama from a used car dealership to a leading online commercial vehicle leasing business in eight years. Despite living in the Facebook age, there are many customers who appreciate the personal approach when buying a big ticket item like a van. By launching a franchise with mobile salespeople going direct to the customer, we can reach a bigger market with capital gain for franchisor and franchisee alike. Before we decided to go down the franchise route there was lots of research to do. There were a number of questions that needed answering which any company

thinking of launching a franchise business would need to consider: • Is the business transferable? We are asking whether it can be done anywhere and can others be taught how to use it to make sales. • What will it cost to develop the franchise, versus the potential returns? I speak from experience when I say that there is a lot of time and money spent in developing a franchise business. From employing professionals, such as franchise lawyers to help with the set up, to time spent recruiting and on-going head office support for the franchisees; everything must be taken into account when realistically assessing your revenue. • What is the competition like? Will I attract franchisees for my business easily and how much will they be willing to pay?

• How will the franchise fit into the current business model? When selling a franchise, you are selling a whole package of business functions – training, marketing and customer support – not just the brand. What changes will need to be made to the current set-up?

Keeping it real…

I think this is my top tip to anyone considering franchising their business. Large doses of pragmatism were needed when answering the questions above – we all know that it can be easy to get carried away with a new business idea. After much deliberation with current staff and outside experts, we decided to move forward. The new franchise network would allow us to expand more quickly, and with more salespeople out there, we will be able to benefit from even greater economies  talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 121

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05/09/2012 16:09

Focus on franchise PROS AND CONS

of scale – helping us further improve our negotiating position with finance companies and manufacturers. We didn’t anticipate a recruitment problem and our franchisees, having invested £24,000, would have a passion to succeed, helping to reinforce our business. Having kept a level head in the decision-making process, the choice to franchise still seemed a no-brainer.

Testing, testing

Once we had resolved to franchise the business, it was vital to pilot the concept on a local level before taking it national. We always keep our nose to the ground for recruitment opportunities and appointed David Igoe to become our first franchisee. David already knew the Vanarama name well from previous experience in the motor trade, believed in the brand, and by being number one, ensured he had the choice of territories at his feet. We discovered that the pilot is a fundamental part of building the franchise. Any successful franchise is a strong partnership between franchisor and franchisee. It is my job as the franchisor to develop the business model and provide the necessary support to the franchisee in order to let him concentrate on developing his new business. Working closely with David in the pilot, we were able to more closely assess the training requirements, marketing and aftersales administrative support that would be needed for the national roll-out. The franchise was trialled in Barnet, North London with positive results.

“We discovered that the pilot is a fundamental part of building the franchise”

though, we are determined to remember that we need people with drive; a franchise is not your standard nine to five job, what with all the stresses, strains, benefits and advantages that running your own business brings. Our franchisees are free thinkers, which makes for a fine balance between allowing them free rein and providing support and guidance. All our franchisees start with a comprehensive training course covering sales skills, branding and aftersales support. This is invaluable in helping them get to know the business. The franchisees we are currently training know the franchise has been successfully piloted – they have bought into a tried and tested business. I think it’s fundamental for all franchisees to remember this; they have become a franchisee because they believe in the brand. While energy and new ideas are great, I advise our franchisees not to set about reinventing the wheel, but to take the knowledge and established business concept we have provided and concentrate on growing their territory steadily.

Driving forward…

So has all the hard work been worth it? Time will tell, but I know that as a franchisor, the story has only just begun. There are charlatans out there who see franchising their business as a way of making fast cash. However, franchisors have a responsibility to their business and their franchisees to continue to provide the support required to expand the franchise model effectively. Recruiting franchisees is a selection process, not a sales process. Our first franchisee, David Igoe, has been on the road for four months now and successfully runs his own territory, leasing brandleading commercial vehicles to business customers. After making such a significant investment, David was resolved to make his franchise work; his customers all benefit from this determination with exemplary customer service, from builders and plumbers to farmers and gardeners…the white van man and beyond! Contact: www.vanarama.co.uk

A happy balance

Despite the recession continuing to bite, the commercial vehicle market continues to grow year on year. It’s a profitable sector to be in and so we’ve had plenty of interested investors. In recruiting our franchisees

122 September 2012

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05/09/2012 16:09



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! With fully customised fixed price contracts or simple pay-as-youuse solutions, we deliver services in the following areas:

Small Business Server network solutions, connecting your users and making collaboration easy Health checks and upgrades Hardware supply to give a one-stop-shop. Web sites E-mail including hosted exchange, accessible anywhere anytime on almost any device End point protection -Antivirus, Antispam, Firewalls (hardware and software) Backup and Disaster Recovery, whether it be traditional tape or “cloud” based online backup


01376 342787 07730 617390 | enquiries@dynacomitsupport.co.uk

WWW.TALKBUSINESSMAGAZINE.CO.UK/SUBSCRIBE DynaCom is a Microsoft Certified Partner and a Dell Premier Partner.

123 triple ad layout.indd 1

11/09/2012 11:34


Why should I take card payments?


aying by card is increasing by the day, but there has always been an argument for taking or not taking card payments as a business. David Maisey, Managing Director of Chip & PIN Solutions, answers the most common questions about accepting card payments.

How much cash do people carry on them?

This can vary from person to person, however we live in in a society whereby the convenience of paying by card is considered the norm, which gives consumers the option of not carrying cash.

How much business is lost because the business cannot accept cards?

Do your customers notice that you do not accept cards and walk out without even asking? Unfortunately this is impossible to answer, however if you can prevent this from being an issue then it’s not one you will have to worry about.

How much business can I gain from existing customers by accepting cards?

Surveys have shown that card payments increase ‘impulse buying’ on average by 15%. This is due to the ease of paying

advertorial v1.indd 124

by card and the fact that credit card repayments have become a lot more flexible for consumers.

What are my competitors doing?

It is always advised to keep an eye on the competition, but also check to see if they accept card payments. If they do not then maybe you can use this to your advantage by offering a more convenient way for customers to purchase your goods.

What other advantages come with accepting card payments?

Firstly offering the choice of paying by card doesn’t stop at face-to-face transactions, you also have the option of taking orders by telephone, mail orders and over the Internet. This results in further opportunity to bring in additional business by selling to new audiences. At present, 90% of all UK Internet purchases are made via card transactions, which means selling online could ensure your business reaches its full potential. In 2011, £63 billion was spent in the UK alone on the web using card payments. Secondly, the security stamp your business receives for using card payments (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX)

will ensure that your shop or website is seen to be trusted by new and existing customers. This can only help your business grow in terms of credibility.


The idea of taking card payments may seem a little daunting for many businesses; however the variety of customers we work with has shown that no matter what size, type or offering, providing a convenient payment method for consumers can have a vast impact on revenue, credibility and potential growth. At Chip & PIN Solutions, we deliver full service payment packages to businesses of all sizes, working closely with you to establish the right solution to your payment needs. Our team of specialists provide support at each stage of the process, from initial set up to the on-going use of your payment solution. Our partnership with the Guild of Master Craftsmen, the National Market Traders Federation and Beauty Guild demonstrates our ability to work with all types of businesses. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about card payment technology, call us free on 0800 881 8104 or visit www.chipandpinsolutions.com.

28/08/2012 09:25


The essential tool for any business Sell your products to the world with Chip & PIN. We provide card payment solutions by tailoring a package to suit the needs of your business. To see how we can help you:

Call us on 0800

881 8104 or visit www.chipandpinsolutions.com Quote ‘Talk Business’ to receive exclusive rates.* *Terms & Conditions apply

advertorial v1.indd 125

28/08/2012 09:25

Directory SEPTEMBER 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: info@yourhrpartner.co.uk W: www.skhr.co.uk

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

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

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

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

Passionate geeks that make exceptional apps and games. Breaking the mold to show how mobile apps can help you sell more, for longer! We provide bespoke solutions to all, and put our heart and soul in everything we do. T: 01234 834821 E: hello@the-app-developers.co.uk W: www.the-app-developers.co.uk




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:xxxxxxxx@xxxxx.co.uk www.outhouse-uk.com W: E: www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk office@outhouse-uk.com

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

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

126 September 2012

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Directory SEPTEMBER 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: sales@hsluk.com

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

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: assetman@hamilton.co.uk

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

Scanbar offers a wide choice of CDD, Laser and long range barcode scanners as well as wireless bluetooth readers. As Wasp Barcode experts we also includes barcode printers, barcode label design software as well as complete inventory control and asset management solutions. T: 0845 500 9022 W: www.scanbar.co.uk E: mf@scanbar.co.uk

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

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

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: studio@infinitebrush.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: info@nervenet.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: phil@hrbespokesolutions.co.uk

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Directory SEPTEMBER 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: enquiries@worldaddresses.com

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: hello@netsense.co.uk

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: support@microsolv.co.uk 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: info@forgedynamic.co.uk 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: tony@hendrytraining.com 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: info@arisia.biz

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: info@skiptonbf.co.uk

It’s your brand. It’s your business. And with help from Avery, it’s your success. Avery have a product catalogue which includes laser and inkjet labels and cards, printer consumables, desktop accessories and filing products. T: 0800 80 50 20 W: www.avery.co.uk

At Flyerzone.co.uk you’ll find great designs ideas to easily customise online. Your business gets great design, printed and delivered from £7. Whatever your business, we’ve got a design for you. T: 0800 122 3003 E: hello@flyerzone.co.uk W: www.flyerzone.co.uk

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 SEPTEMBER 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: enquiries@its-telco.co.uk

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: info@kariatec.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: hello@jukemedia.co.uk 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: info@konvertis.co.uk W: www.konvertis.co.uk

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: angela@urbanmedia.co.uk

Into Somerset is the inward investment organisation for Somerset. Its resourceful and independent team offers unbiased advice and support for businesses considering moving all or part of their business to somerset. T: 0845 1222066 W: www.intosomerset.co.uk E: enquiries@intosomerset.co.uk

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: mail@utilityhelpline.co.uk

With over 30 years experience supporting SME’s we are proud to be able to offer a wide range of outsourced IT services and support. Our services range from hardware and software provision, tailored business communication platforms to the latest cloud services and applications, all designed to increase your productivity for a fraction of the cost of in-house T: 0845 880 2634 E: info@orbitalnetworks.co.uk W: www.orbitalnetworks.co.uk

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: info@karbonite.co.uk

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And finally... THE DAILY GRIND

TB asks a well-known entrepreneur about their life, inspiration, and a few other things of no particular importance. We put Nicholas Green, founder of leading online print shop printed.com, under the spotlight


GRIND Where in the world are you right now?

Flying from Ibiza to Naples with my family; we love sunshine.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I love growing a business. It is a massive motivator for me. Aside from that, it’s my wife or my three-year-old daughter.

What do cereal (sic) entrepreneurs have for breakfast?

“Anyone can start a business in my opinion”

I’m not really a breakfast person, so usually just a bottle of water and a single espresso keeps me moving until lunchtime.

Who or what inspires you?

My biggest inspiration has to be my dad – he not only built a great business but has kept family values at the forefront of all his relationships and looks at life with a positive attitude.

What single piece of technology could you not live without?

I couldn’t live without my iPhone – I carry my life in it – it’s like a limb.

Gordon Gekko said: ‘lunch is for wimps’. Do you do lunch?

Can ‘anyone’ be a successful entrepreneur?

Choose three dinner guests (alive or dead):

How many entrepreneurs does it take to change a light bulb?

Lunch is a great time to talk and get to know people. Taking a step back from work can make you all the more productive when you return, reinvigorated.

Ayrton Senna, Mark Zuckerberg and Puff Daddy.

What has been your most effective business tactic?

Trying to convince people I’m not a great negotiator; it’s true, so in the end I mean what I say.

Aged 11, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a tennis player.

What is your favourite smell (apart from crisp £20 notes)? It has to be minted lamb chops.

If you could have your time again, what would you do differently?

I would have started my business when I was 20. What a ride it would have been, and I can only imagine where we’d be today.

I believe the answer is yes. You just need focus and a little bit of luck, and you’ve got the makings of a successful entrepreneur.

Sadly, quite a few…

What would you say is your most important skill?

Motivating and encouraging other people to want to be successful. I believe in successful teams, so in the end the more people you are surrounded by who want to be successful, the more successful you end up being.

Do you have anything to declare?

I think we should change the word entrepreneur to “starter” – entrepreneur feels a little oldfashioned, or like an exclusive club. Anyone can start a business in my opinion.

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PLAYING MUSIC IN THE WORKPLACE? MAKE SURE YOU’RE LICENSED. If you are playing recorded music in the workplace, it is a legal requirement to obtain the correct music licences. Music is good for business – the simple act of turning music on can make a huge difference to productivity and sales. A survey revealed that playing music could boost profits by 5%.* PPL and PRS for Music offer music licensing solutions for businesses that play recorded music in public – in most instances a licence from both organisations will be required 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. Copyright protects music in different ways and businesses will often require music licences from both PPL and a separate organisation called PRS for Music. PPL collects and distributes licence fees for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers, whereas PRS for Music collects and distributes fees for the use of musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers. For more information on PRS for Music, visit prsformusic.com. To find out more about how music can work for your business visit musicworksforyou.com.

ppluk.com *MusicWorks survey of 2000 people, conducted March 2009. † If you play recorded music in your business without obtaining a PPL music licence you could incur a 50% surcharge on your PPL licensing fee.

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Profile for Talk Business

Talk Business September 2012  

Septembers issue of Talk Busines Magazine

Talk Business September 2012  

Septembers issue of Talk Busines Magazine