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Love him or hate him, the man shaking up UK politics, Nigel Farage, talks Europe and business
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THE CASE FOR CARDS As a dynamic payment solution, cards can help your business operate more efficiently whilst optimising working capital. Allister Mitchell explains.
he rise of consumer and business card payments has been driven by a number of factors including the industry’s response to tackle risk and the use of non-cash payment methods, such as contactless, mobile and prepaid.
instantly. These reports can be tailored to each business’ administrative processes, automatically linked with purchase orders and cost centres, and made accessible via mobile phones or tablets to support faster and more informed decision making.
Card providers are reducing business risk and maintaining efficiency by tailoring in-built controls that deliver a secure environment for a business’ transaction needs. This can include dual authorisation and the generation of unique payment numbers to protect against cloning.
While commercial card use rises, so has the focus businesses place on having functional and efficient reporting. So how are card payment providers responding?
Prepaid card systems are a further way of controlling risk. These enable funds to be managed and cascaded as required, providing a strong solution for businesses who are credit averse.
Increasing automation, maintaining data Technology and the internet have played major roles in changing the card payments space: automation has removed manual processing, helping to reduce input errors, while also reducing the use and reconciliation of petty cash. The transparency of online reporting also gives a clarity of spend that no other transaction payment method can match, allowing for analysis of comprehensive and automated management information almost
Supporting the supply chain while optimising working capital, card payments are also helping remove invoice processes.
This focus on combined programming helps reduce data fragmentation, making analysis easier. This provides greater data visibility and control and ensures all expenditure is captured and reported transparently and consistently. Rationalisation process There has been a growth in combined cards programmes which streamline business expenditure across purchasing, travel and entertainment. Our own solution, Corporate MultiPay, has been well received across the UK business community. Building control Supporting the supply chain while optimising working capital, card payments are also helping remove invoice processes, saving manual reporting while regulating a business’ trade cycle. Viewing different suppliers and spend enables businesses to concentrate spend on a preferred supplier list, supporting the negotiation of better terms.
The core efficiency, however, is the closer consolidation of stock and fulfilment processes, creating a stronger supply chain that is less open to disruption and less likely to fail or experience damaging gaps. Needs-driven solutions Card payment providers are placing a major focus on consultation as the key to understanding their customers’ requirements. This is fundamental to the approach of the cards team within Lloyds Bank. Only by understanding customer need can we deliver optimised card solutions which drive efficiencies for businesses of all sizes across the country.
Allister Mitchell Head of Virtual and Emerging Products, Lloyds Bank
Suppliers can also be paid immediately, providing further negotiating leverage, while the business itself maintains a deferred payment structure.
Lloyds Bank plc. Registered Office: 25 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HN. Registered in England and Wales no. 2065. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under Registration Number 119278. We subscribe to The Lending Code; copies of the code can be obtained from www.lendingstandardboard.org.uk. The Lloyds Banking Group includes companies using brands including Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland and their associated companies. More information on the Lloyds Banking Group can be found at www.lloydsbankinggroup.com
13 Editor’s letter 14 Contributors 17 News & events 20 Question of the month: are university degrees worthless?
LIFESTYLE 91 We love... stress free printing 92 Hotspots: London Locations for business stays, STRATEGY 51 Rise of the idiots
53 Freeze your spending, not your staff 56 Review your reputation Navigate the rough waters of
meets, and eats
59 Make your world a smaller place Powwownow 61 Don’t run before you can walk Why investor readiness shouldn’t
A very merry Christmas
Top tipples for corporate gifts
Leave the office behind
New Year adventures with Holiday Hypermarket
99 All I want for Christmas Get in the spirit for your
be a goal
MARKETING 63 Christmas cracker or just a pudding? Kimberly Davis analyses the
SUCCESS 22 Have you met the Marmite man?
Britain’s most controversial politcal leader, Nigel Farage, talks Europe, business and more
Connecting the dots
The man revolutionising queues
2014 Christmas ads
66 Festive frolics to increase social followers 69 You and what army? How to use your online followers
to promote your brand
Talking struggle and success with cancer survivor, Oladamola Babalola
TECHNOLOGY 101 Don’t cloud your version How to pick a home in the cloud 103 Will it make you ’appy? What should an app cost? 106 Tech review The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley 109 Is printing the forgotten victim of the mobile revolution? 111 I’ve got an app for that
FRANCHISE 113 Franchise news 114 Stand out from the crowd Get yourself noticed at
34 Brain blasts from the past Your lessons from 2014 37 Book reviews
PEOPLE FINANCE 39 The funding expert
How to value your business for investors
41 Ignorance is not bliss
Capital allowances: are you missing out on a pay day?
43 Managing employee expenses 47 A slice of the pie
49 A day in the life
Caner Veil - LiquiProof
71 Here to serve us
73 Money doesn’t make every world go round Incentivise employees without breaking the bank
76 It’s not rocket science Why quantum physics can help
79 81 84 87 89
grow your business
Avoiding staff conflicts
Sure fire ways to alienate your best staff
119 Sales doctor Your questions answered 121 Simple changes that improve web traffic 125 Legally speaking Wright Hassell answers your
127 You can’t grow until you say no Reduce free consulting 129 Let it go so you can grow Outsourcing for small business 132 Directory
Secret diary of an entrepreneur
Paul Young, chocolatier
New pensions, same old problem
OPINION 134 He said/she said
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Luke Garner email@example.com
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SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER
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MANAGING DIRECTOR Stuart McCreery
Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd T: 0203 617 4681 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. No part of Talk Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation. The opinions expressed by guests in this magazine are not necessarily the views held by Talk Business magazine, its publishers and its owners.
“And even when they refuse to listen, I’ll keep talking anyway, hoping on a slim chance that the things inside my head are worth something to someone.” Nadège Richards, 5 Miles
s the close of yet another tumultuous year for the UK approaches, the prospects for 2015 shine a little brighter. However, the turmoil and uncertainty within the economy and population as a whole continues unabated. It’s in such situations that the old status quo is challenged and, from amidst the ashes of the recession, has arisen a figure who is finally speaking out against the old ways of the political elite, and sparking a fire under a growing and vocal section of the electorate. That voice is our cover star, Nigel Farage. Many believe he offers a breath of honesty and fresh air against the stagnant rhetoric of the major political parties. Others are of much lesser opinions, some comparing him to a jester and a fool that frolics on the fringes of politics and the media. But at the heart of it, what Nigel Farage is doing is not radical, and it isn’t revolutionary, though it is different. He has listened to the electorate and their views on Europe and immigration, and acted accordingly. Similarly, those who succeed in business are those who take the time to listen to what their customers or the market
demands, and then tailor that into something people actually want. Whatever your views on Nigel, it’s worth discovering his views on the issues affecting Britain and the businesses within, and his explanation of why we would be more prosperous outside of the European Union, on page 20. Elsewhere this month, we’re gearing up for Christmas. That’s why we’re bringing you the best advice to help grow your business from across industry. Zoe Efstathiou speaks to you, the readers, on page 32, to find out what lessons you’ve learned in 2014. Get your social media messages in the festive mood too, but avoid cheapening your brand, with tips from Jasper Rosenau at Spider PR on page 64. Whatever the future holds for you and your business, I, and everyone here at Talk Business magazine, would like to thank you for joining us in 2014 and we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year! Luke Garner Contact: luke.garner@ talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk Tweet us @talkbusinessmag
is a highly accomplished marketing expert, author, business mentor, and speaker. She is founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing – the name comes from Kimberley’s fascination with the 1940’s; the music, the Hollywood glamour, the swinging dance moves, and the optimism. It helps established businesses, SMEs, start-ups, business owners, and employees, and has a very different approach to marketing. Strong opinions and a determination to restore credibility to an unregulated industry, have earned Kimberly a reputation as “the anti-marketing marketer”. Kimberley looks at this year’s Christmas ads from the leading UK retailers on page
won series four of BBC’s The Apprentice, and now runs Raw Talent Academy Recruitment. It encourages organisations to look at the wider raw talent in the UK, not just graduates. Lee, who has more than 12 years’ experience working in recruitment and eight years as an employer of salespeople, is passionate about giving job seekers an opportunity to earn a career. He’s a proud father of three daughters, and a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. Lee considers the pros and cons of pensions on page
Stephen Beard Gazprom Energy’s manager of SME business, Stephen Beard, has cultivated a significant knowledge of the wants and needs of small business customers during a diverse career spanning over 30 years. Specialising in sales and customer service, Stephen has worked within a range of large, complex, highly people-dependant and multisited operations, including the Chartered Trust, Parcelforce and Royal Mail. In October 2014, Stephen joined Gazprom Energy UK to focus on developing the SME market, which he does by balancing customer need with people, financial and performance management supported by a Balanced Scorecard approach. Read Stephen’s article on how to keep your energy prices low on page
14 December 2014
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NEWS Latest stories
A royally rewarding payday New royal baby to boost UK economy by £300 million
rince George has already pulled in almost £400 million to the UK economy, but the arrival of a little sister could generate even more, industry experts claim. Experts at the London School of Marketing (LSM) used data from retailers and advertisers to calculate how much money the arrival of Prince George generated for the economy. They found that the young Prince generated £390 million for UK plc. This included £80 million on souvenirs and toys, £70 million of books, DVDs and media sales, and £150 million in advertising value. The figures also took into account the young Prince’s impact
on the babywear industry, known as the ‘Prince George effect’. Experts at LSM currently estimate the amount of money the new royal will generate for the economy is at least £300 million. However, they believe that if the next child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a girl, the amount could be significantly higher. If it is a girl, her name will also have a significant factor on its economic impact as a Princess Elizabeth or a Princess Diana will have more power due to its historic connotations. Anton Dominique, chief marketing officer at LSM commented: “Whatever your views on the monarchy, it is hard to deny that the Royals have a massive,
positive impact on the economy. Our estimates show that in the Jubilee year of 2012, the ‘Windsor brand’ generated £26 billion for the UK economy, with £520 million purely from the Jubilee itself.” “Major royal events can generate anything between £250 - £600 million, and the birth of the new royal baby will be no exception.” Contact: www.londonpr.co.uk
UK SMEs not worried about EU referendum 71% don’t feel referendum will have a detrimental effect on their business
ost British SME businesses are largely unconcerned about the impact of an EU referendum on their business, according to a survey by Vistage. The majority (71%) of SMEs questioned did not think that the debate on a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU will have a detrimental effect on their business. However, 14% are concerned with the prospect
of a referendum, as revealed by the research into 400 business owners. Steve Gilroy, CEO of Vistage, said: “Our research shows that many of Britain’s business owners are confident about their performance, and that plans for an EU referendum are not a threat for most of them.” “Clearly, for those businesses that trade substantially with the EU, there is some concern
about the future direction, but the average British SME is now considerably stronger than it was a few years ago, more agile, more open to change, and more innovative. I think these qualities all contribute to higher confidence; whatever the future brings in terms of our relationship with Europe.” Contact: www.annectolegal.co.uk
NEWS Latest stories
news Targets regularly missed by 70% of salespeople Survey highlights business leaders’ frustrations
usiness leaders in the UK regard less than a quarter of their sales people as ‘star performers’ according to a survey from Artesian. The overwhelming majority reported that almost three quarters of their sales force did not achieve their quotas on a regular basis, and classed 30% as weak or struggling. The results of the survey, which was carried out by 115 senior decision makers at manager level
or above, highlight the frustrations that have existed for decades, reinforcing the ‘Pareto Principle’ that 80% of sales are delivered by 20% of the salesforce. This was further compounded by the finding that 90% of respondents felt that if they fired their weaker performers, it would not greatly impact revenue. “Sales organisations have not progressed in decades,” commented Andrew Yates, CEO at Artesian. “Especially when
we consider the advances in technology, and access to information now available - if the majority of the sales team is not performing to a high level, we have to urgently ask ourselves why. Why are we not focused on building vital traditional sales skills, and developing behaviours that we know result in sales success?” Contact: www.artesiansolutions.com
DATES FOR THE DIARY Business Junction Networking Events 4 December 2014 MSE Meeting Rooms 103a Oxford Street London, W1D 2HG 11 December 2014 Grosvenor Casino Barracuda 1 Baker Street, London, W1U 8ED 16 December 2014 The Clerkenwell Centre 61 Lever Street, London, EC1V 3AR 18 December 2014 Brewers’ Hall Aldermanbury Square London, EC2V 7HR www.businessjunction.co.uk
Sterling Integrity 5 December The Village Hotel Coventry 6 February Crown Plaza Birmingham 26 February Cheltenham Racecourse Cheltenham 25 March The Village Hotel Solihull www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk
The Franchise Show 20-21 February 2015 ExCeL, London www.thefranchiseshow.co.uk Sales Innovation Expo 13-14 May 2015 ExCeL, London www.salesinnovationexpo.co.uk
18 December 2014
From the Sant’ Anna’s ArsLab the artificial hand that can feel
ine years after an accident that caused the loss of his left hand, Dennis Aabo Sorensen from Denmark was able to feel natural sensorial information thanks to a prosthetic hand that was surgically wired to nerves into his upper arm. A prototype of this biomeccatronic limb was implanted in March 2013 during a clinical trial at Policlinico Gemelli, in Rome, Italy. It was named OpenHand and developed by ArtsLab of BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore San’Anna (Pisa, Italy) on the basis of a technology of Silvestro Micera and his team. The results of the study were published in the February 2014 issue of the “Science Translational Medicine” journal and represent a collaboration between several European universities and hospitals. In the trial, it has been demonstrated that the hand is able to connect directly with the patient’s brain by means of four trans-neural electrodes implanted into the ulnar and median nerves of the patient’s stump. Tactile sensors on the tips of his fingers sent to the brain digitally refined signals allowing Mr. Sorensen to feel the shape, the consistency and the position of different objects.
The prosthesis was implanted directly on the stump of the patient’s arm through a specifically tailored device produced by Ortopedia Italiana (Frosinone, Italy), one of the DTB2|NEUROHAND project teams. Paolo Dario (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) at the end of the ’80s started a project to develop a prosthetic hand with neural control – with electrodes implanted in the peripheral nerves of the arm – in cooperation with scientists from Stanford University, Brown University (Rhode Island, US) and the Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne (EPFL). Today his project has achieved an important outcome. Thanks to the scientific contribution of Silvestro Micera, at first assistant of Prof. Dario and now his successor, the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna has coordinated, and has been involved in, several European and international projects. Today Prof. Micera is the head of the Neuroengineering Area and of the activities concerning the neural control of prosthetic hands of the Biorobotics Institute of. Moreover, since 2011, he has been working in the new EFPL Centre for Neuroprosthesis and is the coordinator of the lifeHand2 project.
The Italian Ministery of Health has financed, for new young scientists, the research project that has made the NEMESIS (NEurocontrolled MEchatronic hand prostheSIS) trial possible. The Biorobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, EPFL, the Campus Biomedicus University of Rome (UCBM), the University Policlinic “Agostino Gemelli” of Rome, the Biomedic Microtechnology Laboratory of the Department of Microsystems Engineering (Freiburg University) and the IRCSS San Raffaele Pisano all contributed to this successful trial. Contacts: Piazza Duomo, 10 - 50122 Florence Italy T +39 055 4384859 / +39 055 4382425 F +39 055 4384135 email@example.com www.investintuscany.com
Invest in Tuscany | Regione Toscana | Directorate General for Presidency | Regional policies for attracting inward investments
QUESTION OF THE MONTH Hot topics
Has having a degree on an applicant’s CV lost significance now that so many people go to university?
THE NUMBERS GAME Here's what the rest of you thought:
Each month, we ask a selection of business leaders their views on an aspect of business. This month, we’re asking whether having a degree on an applicant’s CV has lost its shine with so many now going to university
This may be sacrilegious to say, but university is not always hard work, and for some it’s three years of good fun. Some graduates come out of university expecting life to be the doddle that was their three year ‘sabbatical’. They are simply not prepared for the workforce, and the first graduate scheme they enter is when they discover the facts of working life. PETER BURGESS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, RETAIL HUMAN RESOURCES,
With degrees now so common, the subject, the university studied at, and the result of the degree, all combine to influence my judgement on a candidate. I probably shouldn’t say it, but there is definitely a hierarchy amongst universities, and I would hold a 2:1 from a respected university in higher regard than a 1st from a random one. I do not, however, believe that the really academic universities (Oxbridge) churn out graduates who are necessarily better suited to many roles in working life. I look for rounded individuals that can offer a lot of experience outside their degree course. JOE FRIEDLEIN, DIRECTOR, BROWSER MEDIA
Too many people are going on to further academic study when they would be better suited to a vocational course or an apprenticeship. For me, a university degree is starting to lose its shine, but not because so many people are now going, it’s more about the issues around relevance, quality and the competition. University is, in part, about furthering and preparing students for the next phase in their life, yet there seems to be little connection with business or industry when students actually come to make the decision about further study. STUART YOUNG, EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PURPOSE
Having a formal qualification is certainly an advantage, not least because it proves you can listen and assimilate information. However, a university degree alone does not guarantee a fast-track route to success. The business world has become increasingly competitive, and it’s important that graduates realise their future success is also down to focus and persistence. STEPHEN FEAR, PHONEBOX MILLIONAIRE, ENTREPRENEUR, AND AUTHOR
What do you think? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter @TalkBusinessMag
20 December 2014
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SUCCESS Nigel Farage
Even now there are great swathes of the UK media who don’t get what is happening here, or continue to try to wilfully ignore UKIP
22 December 2014
SUCCESS Nigel Farage
Have you met the marmite man? Love him or hate him, there is no denying that UKIP leader and MEP Nigel Farage is shaking up British politics and getting people excited for the General Election in 2015. Editor, Luke Garner, caught up with him to discuss his strong views on Europe, immigration and their effect on UK businesses
SUCCESS Nigel Farage
n the past few months UKIP have made history by gaining their very first elected MP in Clacton. The victory by Douglas Carwell has put the icing on the cake for a party that has had phenomenal success in 2014 and has seen its coverage in UK newspapers and on news channels skyrocket. That success is largely down to the charismatic and sometimes renegade nature of their leader, Nigel Farage, whose wit and charm (though it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea) has helped to bring to prominence their cause. They say in life that timing is everything and that is certainly the case with UKIP. They have risen in the public consciousness with an uncanny sense of timing. With global recession, a general unhappiness with the ruling elite being effused by the voting public, and concern over unemployment and immigration,
of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Farage is never too far away from controversy. Whether it be hiring his German wife as his secretary, his views on the UK’s inclusion in Europe or his highly-publicised criticisms of David Cameron, there is always a sound-bite for the media to revel in. But throughout his interactions with the media he has not shied away from the issues or tried to ‘micromanage’ his PR like many of the other main political parties, and he certainly wouldn’t be caught letting a ‘spin-doctor’ do the talking for him. Honesty, says the former Conservative Party member, is always the best policy. “It’s funny, for years the mainstream media refused to really engage.” says Nigel. “In fact the general public did first. Even now there are great swathes of the UK media who don’t get what is happening here, or continue to try to
on the list of importance for any growing business and UKIP have set out their stall early on. “We want a simpler, fairer tax policy that attracts business and entrepreneurs and keeps money in this country rather than encouraging people to filter off profits via foreign loopholes,” explained Nigel. “We need a competitive rate of corporation tax, but we also need to create fertile ground for manufacturing and develop a strong skills base. Simply throwing up the rate of tax on higher earners to satisfy a braying crowd shows economic dyslexia and a rather simplified and dangerous form of economic populism.” Given the state of the economy, with stagnant wages and high unemployment, along with the recent dire warnings by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne about the Eurozone slipping into crisis once again, how does the
The massive PR operations in politics have created a beige group think where there are no distinguishable policies and no personalities. The British people are not stupid. They deserve to be listened to
along with discontent at Brussels meddling in UK affairs, UKIP’s message of moving away from European ties could not have come at a better time. It has captured the hearts and minds of many a discontented everyday Briton and caught the traditional heavyweight political parties resting on their laurels at a time when their leaders display neither charisma, nor enthusiasm. “It hasn’t been an overnight thing. We have been working hard for years, but perhaps it’s that moment when all of a sudden everything UKIP has been saying for the last two decades is suddenly clearly visible to the public. It was no longer possible to class us as ‘fruitcakes’ in the media when so many people in the general public were starting to realise we had a point,” explained Nigel. One of the founding members
wilfully ignore UKIP. I think if you just speak to people straight-forwardly, cut the spin and shake off the shackles of taboo and political correctness, people respect you for it. The massive PR operations in politics have created a beige group think where there are no distinguishable policies and no personalities. The British people are not stupid. They deserve to be listened to and spoken to.” Whilst UKIP’s views on Europe are well known, come the election in 2015, the voting public will want to know what lies deeper beyond this rhetoric. With small and medium enterprises contributing a significant proportion of the UK workforce, the business case may well be the difference maker for the party when the voters mark their ballots next year. As always, tax relief is high
UKIP leader feel the current government have handled things since they took power in 2010? “The current economic situation isn’t entirely David Cameron’s fault, but he isn’t helping either. Whatever the government try to do to help stimulate business in this country is always going to be overshadowed by the weight of the legislation from Brussels but, given that he wants us to stay in the club when it is abundantly clear we cannot significantly reform the EU shows how weak he is. A sensible leader would be waking up thinking ‘this isn’t working, I must do something’ and realise that it simply cannot happen all the while kowtowing to their every demand. The only way to rectify this is to leave the EU and its quagmire of directives.”
24 December 2014
SUCCESS Nigel Farage
So with an election on the horizon, and the electorate fully aware of the UKIP vision, what does the future hold for his party? “Politics is moving so quickly at the moment it is impossible to call. Six months ago after winning the European Elections, every single commentator said we couldn’t win seats in Parliament. Now we have one and now people are asking ‘how many?’ Who knows what the landscape will look like in another six months? I’m just hoping we can break through significantly enough to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament, and if we do, key elements of our policy will be delivered for the people of Britain, in particular, a referendum on EU membership.” That referendum, on whether the UK should be a leading part of Europe or not, and - perhaps most importantly - whether it
much every rule governing business is made by a remote, unaccountable pseudoParliament, forcing through one-size-fits-all legislation for 28 disparate economies, who created a single currency that was, and still is, doomed to fail, who prevent us signing our own trade deals, who apply onerous green legislation that is driving manufacturing abroad, who churn out tens of thousands of lines of legislation every year throttling small business... need I go on?,” says Nigel, with that trademark passionate demeanour. “It just doesn’t make sense why we, as the sixth largest economy in the world, with a language spoken in all four corners of the globe, with a legal and democratic system shared by many of the countries in the Commonwealth, with historic bonds in America, Africa, Asia,
The current economic situation isn’t entirely David Cameron’s fault, but he isn’t helping either. That he wants us to stay when it is abundantly clear we cannot significantly reform the EU shows how weak he is should be held to ransom by the lawmakers in Brussels, is a hot button issue at the minute. David Cameron has promised a decisive say for the public by 2017 - provided they vote Conservative in 2015. Nigel believes that this is just yet another case of empty promises and that the voters won’t be fooled yet again. “No Parliament can bind its successor. That became even more clear when James Wharton’s Amendment on the Referendum Act was not passed by Parliament. Why wait until 2017? Why should we trust him? He won’t get a majority in 2015. The only way to guarantee that referendum is by voting UKIP and pushing the policy firmly onto the agenda.” “I feel we should operate from outside the European Union. The points are too many to detail but when pretty
Australasia, why we need to be handcuffed to this illegitimate, undemocratic and incompetent mess of a political project.” Pro-Europeans are quick to suggest that, in the event of the UK leaving the EU, there would be a dire effect on UK business, particularly those that reply on exporting. However, Nigel believes that the importance of the UK to those countries within the EU that it does business with would soon lead to them seeking to negotiate favourable terms with the country and prevent any damage to their own trading and economies. “Within 24 hours we would have signed a free trade deal with the EU,” the MEP defiantly declared. “We can put in place transitional arrangements to wean the country off some of the greater dependencies, we can regain our seat on the WTO (World Trade Organisation).
SUCCESS Nigel Farage
The sooner we free ourselves from the stranglehold of Brussels and embrace the Commonwealth, the sooner we will ready ourselves for the 21st century and be able to profit from and compete with the big emerging economies.
We would have greater power in the region, and globally, rather than a voice diluted by Brussels.” He continued, “We now live in a global economy. The sooner we free ourselves from the stranglehold of Brussels and embrace the diverse countries of the Commonwealth, with whom we share common law and systems of democracy, the sooner we will ready ourselves for the 21st century and be able to profit from and compete with the big emerging economies. That will have a bottom up effect. When you look at the most vital minerals in the world, the emerging sectors of manufacturing, the hubs of innovation, they aren’t all neatly based in Europe for our ease. They are spread across the world. We should be engaging with that.” Mixed in amongst the furore is the issue of immigration and free movement across the EU, particularly given the rise of media scare stories about Romanian and Polish immigrants supposedly resorting to crime and benefit tourism within the UK. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made her views clear that she
would rather see the UK leave the EU than compromise over the principle of free movement if it broke away and other European leaders have followed suit in telling David Cameron that they won’t bend to the will of the UK or compromise. So, would Farage advocate an end to the Free Movement of Peoples and a similar immigration policy to much of the rest of Commonwealth, whereby immigrants are accepted through a pointsbased system according to qualifications and skills? “Yes. Don’t misunderstand me, we need immigration, it is good for the economy, but it should be a meritocracy. It should not matter which country you are from, the current system is deeply discriminatory. But for immigration to not just profit the government coffers but society as a whole, it needs to be sensibly managed, which again, can’t be done from within the EU.” Given their rise to prominence UKIP could very well find themselves as the decision makers at the next election and face the dilemma
that presented the Liberal Democrats in 2010. If there was a split vote again, considering the damage being in a coalition has done to the Lib Dems, would they consider a coalition at the next election? “Let’s wait and see,” he answers rather coyly. “Things are changing so quickly that it’s hard to predict what the political landscape will be, but believe me when I say UKIP wants to play a very active part. In five years time I’d love to see us rolling our sleeves up to fight another general election as a mature party which already has seats in Parliament.” Whatever the future holds, it certainly will be a wild and exciting ride for Nigel and UKIP. Even if they don’t succeed in the next 10 or 20 years in gaining power, their legacy of revitalising a downtrodden, distrustful and demoralised UK electorate and getting them excited about politics once again may have a much more far-reaching and positive effect on generations to come. Contact: www.UKIP.org
26 December 2014
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SUCCESS Crowd Connected
Connecting the dots Nobody likes queuing - not even the British, no matter how good they may be at it. James Cobb, CEO of Crowd Connected reveals how his business is using real-time data to provide a solution to wait times, and helping to make the live event experience better for the customer
ere’s the dilemma: you’re at an event, be it a music gig, a football match, or a conference, and you want to hit the concessions stand for a drink. There’s only one problem - there are a number of queues and you need to get back to the event as soon as possible so as not to miss anything. So how do you know which queue is going to be the quickest? The answer is, you don’t, but with the help of James Cobb and Crowd Connected, you may soon be able to find out. As his business, Crowd Connected, takes off, people across the globe are able to get real-time information on the length of a queue and the time they should be expected to wait. Not only is this useful to consumers, it is pure gold for event organisers, as it allows them to assess the situation on the fly, and send reinforcements to ease the flow of particularly heavy queues. “The idea came from an initial idea to turn a crowd’s mobile phones into pixels and form a map across a stadium,” explained the entrepreneur. “What we now have is a cloud-based service embedded into apps, which uses the data received to create a overall picture of crowd movement and activity.
But importantly, we allay any ‘Big Brother’ fears as it is all completely permissioned by the app user.” So far, the app has seen success on one of the biggest stages, giving James hope that it will soon gain traction in the wider public consciousness. “We tested out the system at Wireless festival in the UK, which was a huge, huge moment for us. To see it all come together so well, at such a highprofile event, was amazing. Standing at the Wireless festival
with the system working as it should, seeing it all working was great. There was also a team from LiveNation in the US present, and we gave them a live demonstration, which they were very impressed with,” explained James. Using mobile GPS data from users who have signed up to the app, James can find out the approximate location of each individual mobile and then map it onto a larger plan, which gives information of congestion and movements of those customers, when at an event. Due to the unique way in which the system works, it has been touted as a possible lifeline for the emergency services in a crisis, as it could potentially provide information about the whereabouts of missing persons, or even data on building exits and their use. However, before that can happen, there are a number of challenges Crowd Connected faces. “Originally, we wanted to pinpoint individual users, but at many events, things like internet coverage can be an issue. Whilst that is improving all the time with 4G services, the beauty of the system is that we don’t need to have everyone in a crowd passing on their location, just enough to give an overall
30 December 2014
SUCCESS Crowd Connected
I’d never have thought I’d need to use one before, but now I’d recommend it to anyone. I thought I was above it, but actually it has given me access to things I wouldn’t have before
Vital stats Age: 42 Previous businesses: Concert promotion, freelance production manager, founding director of stage lighting company, text messaging company (celeb news/ music based). Business set up: 2013 Start-up funds: £150,000
impression. Additionally, current technology can sometimes only provide an accuracy to within 10 metres, so you still might not be sure if they’re actually queuing or just standing near a queue watching an event. We’re trying to deliver solutions to this problem.” Those challenges are made a little easier thanks to help from a source that many start-ups are increasingly turning to for support. Business incubators are gaining in popularity, as they generally offer reasonably priced office space, mentorship, and accessible links and advice from other businesses, and James says it is one such programme in Surrey that has really helped to give his business a boost. “The tech incubator run by the University of Surrey was something I came across 18
months ago. It was an easy entry point into serviced offices, but much more than that, it provides lots of close links with the university, and opportunities. They helped by looking at the bigger picture, while I worked on the product, wider industry, funding routes and more,” he beamed. “I’d never have thought I’d need to use one before, but now I’d recommend it to anyone. I didn’t think I’d need one, I thought I was above it, but actually, it has given me access to things I wouldn’t have had before. It’s not just for people who are on their first rung of the ladder, and it’s not about hand holding.” It isn’t only at the incubator that James has been given gems of wisdom on his journey to success. He explains the best
piece of advice that he’s received, and it isn’t what you might think. “An old friend once told me that any piece of advice you get will always have something to take away from it, even if the person is largely wrong. Triangulate advice, many pieces of advice, and then use them to get a good overview of the actual situation.” Triangulation it seems, is the key theme for success. Maybe one day soon you’ll be being triangulated at an event by Crowd Connected too! Contact: www.crowdconnected.co.uk
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SUCCESS Up and coming
Fresh ideas because I believed that I would make it and graduate. It was a very difficult time for my body during the treatment, but made very interesting changes to my mindset. I braved all the treatment by getting in touch with my spiritual side, and comprehending that things happen for a reason. I was also helped by a charity, called CLIC Sargent, which offered a range of support from financial to personal one-to-one advice. This is the charity that I have teamed up with to develop the first set of workshops, once FreshRB studios is up and running.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE THE BUSINESS TO BE IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
This month, we talk to entrepreneur, founder of FreshRB C.I.C., and cancer survivor, Oladamola Babalola about his experiences in business WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO SET UP YOUR BUSINESS?
It provides creative space for people, between the ages of 18 and 24, who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses, to express themselves
The inspiration for setting up FreshRB C.I.C. was based on my passion for media and my desire to generate creative content (video, photography, and music) that will inspire and educate people.
WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED INITIALLY? Other than surviving cancer, it was getting others to believe in FreshRB C.I.C. during the preliminary stages. I learned people were more likely to believe when I’d developed a strong business plan and gained funding.
WHAT DOES YOUR BUSINESS AIM TO ACHIEVE? The aim of the business is to offer a 360-degree approach to media production, generating
fresh, creative, out-of-the-box thinking, and inspirational content for end users. From the C.I.C. perspective, it provides creative space for people, between the ages of 18 and 24, who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses (sufferers or survivors), to express themselves through media production outlets, and learn media production skills.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BATTLE WITH CANCER AND HOW YOU OVERCAME IT? I was diagnosed with cancer (non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) on 23 December 2009, in my final year at the University of Liverpool. I was put under cycles of R-CHOP and immune-chemotherapy at the Royal Hospital in Liverpool. Even though this happened in my final year of university, I decided to keep going without dropping out,
I would like my business to have a minimum of two FreshRB studios in the UK, with the vision for further expansion within the UK and, potentially, globally. From a C.I.C. perspective, I would like to have a substantial range of workshops and programs, working alongside charities, to offer terminally diagnosed individuals the chance to showcase their talents, learn more skills, and help them through their treatments.
YOU’RE QUITE YOUNG AS A BUSINESS OWNER. HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ANY PROBLEMS FROM THIS? I’ve made some hasty decisions simply because I wanted to start flying straight away, not realising that it’s sometimes better to take my time to ensure informed decisions are made. Hence why I am very grateful for my business mentor, Karen Gould, who is the CEO of Gateway2Enterprise, as she has given me invaluable advice and support with key business decisions. Contact: www.freshrb.com
SUCCESS Top business lessons of 2014
Brain blasts from the past
2014 was the year in which we supposedly saw the UK start to emerge from recession, and a lot happened in business. Writer, Zoe Efstathiou spoke to entrepreneurs and SMEs to discover the lessons they learnt during 2014
ntrepreneurs tend to be forward-thinking, dynamic individuals with busy schedules. Pausing to reflect may feel like an unnecessary interruption in our busy lives, yet taking time to cast your mind back over past experiences can help you to gain valuable insights into your business strategy. You may even learn lessons that enable you to save time and become more efficient going forward. Writer, Zoe Efstathiou spoke to entrepreneurs to discover the top business lessons they learnt during 2014.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt this year was how to deal with the reality that, in every aspect of the business, the buck stops with me. Being the driver in all areas of the business can be a challenge, especially in aspects that may be totally new and challenging. I’ve realised that not only do you need to learn quickly, but you need to engage fully to ensure that the less interesting or understood areas are not neglected.” Richard Hiblen, Managing director of renewable energy specialist, Green Square, www.greensquare.co.uk
In 2014, I learnt to let go. I’ve always been a very hands-on business owner, but in the last year we’ve hired really amazing department heads that have allowed myself and the board to step back and think more long term. Knowing our departments are in safe hands has really freed us up to think creatively, and we’ve already put together some amazing plans for the future.” Darren Fell, founder and managing director of online accounting company, Crunch Accounting www.crunch.co.uk I learnt the importance of treating your staff as you would your clients. Treat them with respect, be fair and reasonable at all times, and really listen to what they have to say. It may not always be what you want to hear, and some of it may seem unreasonable or just plain ridiculous, but sometimes it can make a big difference to staff morale and the success of the business.” Jill Pinner, chairwoman and founder of experiential marketing agency, Fizz Experience, www.fizz.co.uk
This year, I discovered the importance of hiring people who share my vision and possess the right attitude. In some circumstances, it is more important that a potential employee has the right attitude than the right skills. Provided that you have the resources, skills can be trained on the job. Changing someone’s attitude, on the other hand, can be next to impossible.” Ed Tyson, founder of screen-protector company, Expert Shield, www.expertshielduk.com
34 December 2014
SUCCESS Top business lessons of 2014
In 2014, I discovered that being successful in business is about taking consistent steps and actions to meet your business goals. There are days when I really don’t feel like it, days when I think, “What’s the point?” But on these days, I have to remind myself that it’s often darkest before the dawn but the dawn never fails. It’s important not to let one bad day or one bad client derail your goals and ambitions.” India Kang, dating coach, matchmaker and author, www.indiakang.com
A big lesson I’ve learnt this year is that the devil is in the detail. So many people think, ‘OK is good enough’, and in some cases, let’s face it, that’s fine. But you only get something 100% right if all the constituent parts are perfect, regardless of what it is you are doing. It’s so much better to be able to stand back at the end of a project and know that, hand on heart, you’ve given it your best shot and couldn’t have done anything more.” Property expert, Louisa Fletcher, www.louisafletcher.com
“This year I’ve learnt to be very careful when recommending other agencies or businesses to our clients. Any recommendations reflect on you, especially if the relationships you’ve brokered turn sour. We happily make suggestions to clients, but the final decision on who to hire is always down to them.” Jane Whitham, director of PR and marketing company, Cream Consultancy, www.creamconsultancy.co.uk
Exercise caution when expanding to new countries. This year we’ve been careful not to make major investments in new countries without being sure of the level of demand. We tested the waters by setting up country desks in London first, such as a Spain desk, so that the team can get things up and running with minimal risk. Only once demand is established do we move that team out to the country itself, and establish a physical office presence.” David J Brown, co-founder and CEO of e-commerce conversion company, Ve, www.veinteractive.com
My original plan for 2014 was to launch a new collection of wedding dresses, but on the advice of my mentor, I decided to continue selling my existing collection instead. I learnt that it’s important to be patient, and launch new products at a pace that suits your business, rather than simply trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing.” Dajana Basic, creative managing director of bridal wear brand, Dajana Basic London, www.dajanabasic.com
PUT YOUR PASSION ONLINE The right start to your business ends with .com Let us guide you with expert advice on how to build a successful online presence.
BOOK reviews 100 Ideas that Changed Advertising by Simon Veksner Our verdict: About the author: Simon Veksner is creative director at DDB Sydney. Previously he spent seven years at DDB London, where his work included a Cannes Grand Prixwinning ad for Volkswagen. He has won more than 50 industry awards, and is a frequent D&AD juror. We say: This publication by renowned advertising expert, Simon Veksner is a delightful journey through the ages, with stops at the important junctures in marketing, for any
The New Rules of Sales and Service: How to use agile selling, real-time customer engagement, big data, content, and storytelling to grow your business
by David Meerman Scott Our verdict:
About the author: David Meerman Scott is an internationally-acclaimed marketing and sales strategist, whose books include The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Newsjacking, and World Wide Rave. A graduate of Kenyon College, he is a marketer in residence at HubSpot. We say: Step by step, The New Rules of Sales and Service shows how to make the
We’ve got one of each book to give away FREE. Be the first to follow and tweet us, quoting the book name @TalkBusinessMag and we’ll send you a free copy!
advertising fan. Unlike other offerings in this genre, each subject or idea is well explained, and illustrated with excellent examples, and the author engages you in the story of each event or concept. It tells the story of advertising, and the thought processes that go into each decision, supremely well, whether it be a tiny campaign by a one-man-band, or a multi-million pound one by the biggest conglomerates. Concepts such as the publicity stunt, product placement, and celebrity endorsement, are explored and illustrated, with examples from world-famous companies, including John Lewis, Apple, and Dyson. A must-read for any advertising, branding and marketing enthusiast! 100 Ideas that Changed Advertising is published by Laurence King Publishing, priced at £19.99, and is available as a paperback.
transition from the old ways of selling to the new realities now defining how people buy and do business. It also touches on how the balance of power has been shifted for the salesperson since the advent of the internet, whereby the customer now has access to vast depths of knowledge that were previously the domain of the expert seller only, and how to deal with this seismic shift. This includes how to use social media to target, reach, and engage with more customers at once than ever before possible. As Scott explains: “Most organisations are using traditional selling models that were developed decades ago. This needs to change, or organisations will suffer.” Ignore him at your peril! The New Rules of Sales and Service is published by Wiley, priced at £18.99, and is available as a hardback and e-book. talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 37
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FINANCE Funding expert
What’s it worth? Funding expert, Julian Smith takes a look at ways to value your start-up for potential investors
ou will care how your start-up is valued - it’s recognition of the value that has been created up to that point, but, more importantly, it’s often the price at which a founder starts giving away a stake in the company; otherwise known as dilution. Valuing companies is not straightforward. There is no single answer, and valuation is very subjective, not least because it reflects different views about the future, which is inherently uncertain. There are various methodologies underpinning arguments for valuation. Remember though, a valuation is merely theoretical unless validated by a market transaction - literally the price at which a transaction clears between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Before going into a negotiation or setting a price, the founder should do some homework with their advisory team. I would suggest three different approaches to help build the overall case:
FUNDAMENTAL VALUATION/ DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW A company is worth the present value of its future cash flows. How much cash do you have to put in, and how much cash
will it generate, over what period? The discounted cash flow model can be built from the financial model that will be required for any investor dialogue. The principal drawback is the importance of long term assumptions, about which it is hard to be confident as a start-up.
VALUATION MULTIPLES Your start-up is unlikely to be profitable for a couple of years, but it may be possible to look at similar companies that have raised money. It may be possible to read across from the relationship between the valuation and their key metrics to establish a similar relationship (eg. value to active users for an advertising-based scalable tech business). You can discount that future implied value at the rate that an investor would need to be compensated for making the investment. You are not looking for perfection here, but clues that will act as reference points for your negotiation.
COMPARABLE COMPANIES The third approach is to look at the pre-money value similar
Valuing companies is not straightforward. Valuation is very subjective, not least because it reflects different views about the future, which is inherently uncertain
start-ups have successfully raised. There is no directory that you can look up here, so a bit of detective work may be required to dig out the information. Experienced angels, VCs and crowdfunding platforms will all have different data points to support their views. The arguments used will depend on the information available, and the ultimate valuation achieved will be the price you can persuade the investor(s) to pay. As a founder, you want to keep your options open so that you are not left with one or two investors dictating terms to you. Your negotiating hand will be strengthened by keeping some competitive tension in the process, until the price and terms sheet have been agreed. One final take away: valuation is important, but it’s not all about the money. There may be other factors (e.g. networks or experience) to take into account, where certain investors might add more value to your business going forward. Contact: www.thefundingexpert.co.uk twitter @lefundingexpert
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FINANCE Capital allowances
Ignorance is not bliss Don’t forget your capital allowances, says Mark Tighe, managing director of capital allowance specialist, Catax Solutions
t’s no secret that acquiring and owning a business property can be complex. Size, location, future-proofing, and running costs all need to be considered, so it goes without saying that the purchaser should be looking to drive a hard bargain when it comes to negotiating the price. Something else that should be considered at the purchasing stage, but which often goes unchecked, is the little known area of capital allowances. Such an assessment has the potential to be extremely lucrative to new commercial property owners. Unfortunately due to a recent change in the law, if they’re not researched properly or, indeed, overlooked, there could instead be significant consequences for the owner and their legal representatives.
SO WHAT ARE CAPITAL ALLOWANCES? Capital allowances are, in essence, a form of tax relief that can be claimed by commercial property owners incurring capital expenditure when building, buying, or refitting their commercial property - from lighting fixtures and heating, to pipe work and lifts. For example, an office block with a value of £2 million could
be expected to contain capital allowances of approximately a fifth (20%) of the purchase price, or around £400,000 in qualifying items. For a limited company paying a corporation tax rate of 20%, that would equate to tax relief of around £80,000 - a substantial amount of money that any business would gratefully accept.
NEW LEGISLATION Until the introduction of the Finance Act of 2012 in April of this year, there had been little pressure to identify these allowances. However, the changes to regulations governing capital allowances have added an additional twist to an already complicated area. Now, any individual or business that owns a commercial property must identify the capital allowances in that property at the point of purchase or sale, or they could be lost permanently.
CONSEQUENCES So far, Britain’s commercial property owners are virtually unaware of the change that the Act has instigated. As a result, vast amounts of money are being lost every month, and it doesn’t look as though this will change any time soon.
Analysis of HMRC property transaction figures shows that somewhere in the region of £165 million has been lost in tax relief since April
Recent analysis of HMRC property transaction figures shows that somewhere in the region of £165 million has been lost in tax relief since April, with as little as one per cent of eligible commercial properties having had tax relief claimed against them. Unfortunately, the Finance Act is quite complex, so it’s not surprising that many of the parties involved are struggling to identify where allowances can be found. Even to the experienced eye, the legalities are exceptionally convoluted. Hence, concerns are growing that this is the tip of an iceberg, that could quickly reach melting point, with the possibility of potential lawsuits for negligence not far behind, as property owners become aware they could be missing out on vast sums.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE? Put simply, anybody involved in buying or selling a commercial property should look to identify capital allowances. With a potentially significant financial gain to be had, it would be senseless not to. Contact: www.cataxsolutions.com
FINANCE Managing employee expenses
Make expenses less expensive Rich Wagner, CEO and founder of Advanced Payment Solutions, helps you to get your employees’ expenses in order in time for Christmas
The issue with this approach is that whilst it does remove some of the dangers of fraud, it depends on employees advancing money from their personal accounts
f you quizzed small business owners, probably almost all would place the freedom and liberty of being their own boss as one of the key benefits of striking out on their own. Whilst some entrepreneurs may well get rich with their successful business ventures, many choose the path of setting up their own business to escape from the structures and rules imposed by corporate roles. Some small- to medium-sized enterprise decision makers, however, are discovering that a lack of structure and procedures can make it difficult to manage basic accounting functions for their business, and potentially have an impact on their bottom line. One area that can prove particularly difficult for companies to manage is employee expenses, as it requires a streamlined and efficient work process, that includes approval and verification of paper documents and receipts. Many small companies tend to ‘wing’ this part of the accounting process, relying on staff to produce receipts in a timely manner to claim back their work-based
outgoings. The issue with this approach is that whilst it does remove some of the dangers of fraud, it depends on employees advancing money from their personal accounts. For younger team members or those that travel often, this can have a significant impact on their finances, and make it difficult for them to manage on their salaries. In addition, there is an expectation that employees will carefully store and then retrieve receipts, which could prove to be more than a month old. A final negative point is that manually accounting for staff receipts is time consuming for admin or accounting staff, and can also make accurate monthly forecasting of outgoings almost impossible for a company. Some companies do consider simplifying the expenses process through providing corporate credit cards. In most cases, however, company cards tend to be the preserve of the most senior layer of staff, meaning that more junior staff continue to shoulder the burden of managing their expenses. In addition, even the most trusted or senior of employees can be tempted to take advantage of their company’s plastic. talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 43
FINANCE Sub head
In a recent report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, published in 2014 and titled Occupational Fraud and Abuse, small- and mediumsized companies are far more vulnerable to fraudulent use of corporate credit cards than their larger counterparts. Within smaller firms, 16.5% of fraud investigations involved expenses reimbursement fraud, compared to 13.1% within companies with more than 100 employees. It’s worth bearing in mind that these figures only cover those cases that were significant enough to be considered worth reporting, and they could simply represent the tip of the iceberg. Chilling thoughts when you consider that even the slightest expenses fabrication can have a monetary impact on a small company’s bottom line. Given the importance of making sure a company’s expenses process is both streamlined and effective, with minimal opportunity for fraud, the following points represent best practice for managing and tracking expenses claims:
1REAL-TIME TRACKING Expenses are traditionally tracked on a monthly basis, but this approach is liable to mistakes, as staff can forget or mis-label the details of their outgoings or, in worst case scenarios, lose receipts
Expenses are traditionally tracked on a monthly basis, but this approach is liable to mistakes, as staff can forget or mis-label the details of their outgoings or, in worst case scenarios, lose receipts. This process is also highly time consuming for finance or admin staff with the month end becoming a bottleneck, as they’re forced to manually input data, or pester their fellow employees for details of expenses to meet the monthly deadline. Small business owners can simplify this system by
introducing real-time expenses tracking. Today, there are a range of software solutions available that enable companies to log their expenses data as transactions are made, and in some cases, these tools can be downloaded as apps, and used remotely as well.
2 CENTRALISED CONTROL
Whilst providing employees with company credit cards depends on a certain level of trust, so too does giving responsibility for managing or approving expenses to one single finance staff member. It is highly recommended that SME owners instigate centralised expenses management, whereby the business owner or authorised personnel can log on and have a comprehensive overview of the status of expenses.
3 PREDETERMINE LIMITS
For efficiency, it is important to have clear limits agreed for expenses allowances. This is because simply giving a card to an employee with no agreement on limits can result in overspend on expenses. Rather than preparing guidelines and asking employees to follow protocols, one of the simplest ways to approach the setting of limits is by applying a pre-paid limit to card transactions. This way, there is no risk of having to take cards from staff members who misuse them, as all limits are pre-defined and definite. By imposing constraints on the type of transactions that are possible, small businesses can also greatly reduce the risk of fraud. Contact: www.apsgroup.com
44 December 2014
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BCRS Business Loans – a non-bank lenders perspective on accessing finance for your business
n times of market volatility when accessing finance for your business seems to be non-existent, there is hope, writes BCRS Chief Executive, Paul Kalinauckas.
I believe for a growing business one of the biggest milestones they will reach is the point when they are ready to take it to the next level - expand operations, recruitment, purchasing more equipment or securing new premises. Few small businesses can afford to finance this type of change through working capital alone, but once in place, they know the positive effect it will have on their cash flow and future prospects. This is the moment that business owners need to turn to financing as a way to move their business forward. Fortunately, obtaining finance for a small business does not have to be challenging. No matter the size of your business or its cash flow situation, there are plenty of options for financing your growth. BCRS Business Loans is one of those options! BCRS provides access to finance for businesses through its Business Loan Fund. Set up twelve years ago,
BCRS has helped many businesses grow and prosper. Loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 are available to viable businesses turned down by mainstream lenders. BCRS’s sole purpose is to provide access to finance to enable businesses to grow and prosper. Our loan fund has been especially designed to help businesses. We understand that getting business finance can sometimes be a problem. Lack of track record, unreasonable security arrangements, past financial problems or simply not meeting conventional credit scoring methods may be hindering the process. This is where I believe BCRS comes into its own. There is a lot that my team and I can do to help Midlands based businesses and we are looking to connect with them as their local business loan fund. The BCRS model is of an approachable lender and we assess each individual case on its own merits. We operate very much with a traditional lending ethos rather than impersonal computerised credit scoring. A BCRS loan can be used for a wide variety of projects including working capital, purchasing equipment, recruitment, startups and marketing. We lend into most market sectors including construction, engineering, IT services, manufacturing, service providers and wholesalers.
A quick response for your lending requirements is available through the enquiry form facility at www.bcrs.org.uk or call us on 0845 313 8410.
FINANCE Shares for employees
A slice of the pie Giving your staff a stake in the ownership of your business can bring benefits to both parties, says Talk Money’s Adam Aiken
he idea of giving your staff a feeling of belonging within your organisation is simply good business sense. Engaging them by following basic steps, such as giving regular feedback and listening to their point of view is something that all good businesses should be doing. But if you want to go one step further, you could consider introducing an employee share scheme - giving your staff a share in the ownership of the company. If this is a road you want to go down, you will be joining an ever-growing club. Robert Postlethwaite, a director of Postlethwaite employeeownership lawyers, believes a lot of companies are becoming receptive to the idea of setting up an employee share scheme. “There has been something of a cultural revolution over recent years, and many more companies now think it’s a good idea,” he said.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR YOU? The most obvious benefit for the employer is that you are tying the fortunes of your staff more closely to those of your business. There is
a closer link between employee performance and company performance. The better your employees perform, the better the company performs, and the better their reward will be. Postlethwaite added: “The benefits include improved productivity, enhanced resilience during harder trading conditions, and longer-term employee loyalty, with higher retention rates.” There is also a potential tax benefit (depending on the exact scheme that is chosen) for both parties. “If they decide they want to introduce a share scheme for their employees, most companies will do it anyway, regardless of any tax advantages, but the scheme will work even better if it has a taxadvantage because there’s more reward for employees,” said Postlethwaite.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT SETTING IT UP? This isn’t the sort of thing you can do without taking proper advice, but the good news is that advice is available. Your local business-networking group might be able to give you a lead, or your accountant might be able to point you in
the right direction. Failing that, there’s always an online search you can fall back on. But, as with any financial initiative you want to explore, it will help if you do a little bit of preparation first. Postlethwaite suggests there a handful of questions you would do well to think about before sitting down with an expert, such as: • Why are you doing it, and what benefits do you want from a share scheme? • Who’s it for? Will it be for a relatively small number of key people, or do you want share ownership to be fairly widespread within your business? • Do you want your employees to be able to turn their shares into cash? • Will your employees be in a position to be able to pay for their own shares? The answers to these questions will play a strong part in pinpointing what the best sort of scheme is for you.
The most obvious benefit for the employer is that you are tying the fortunes of your staff more closely to those of your business
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A day in the life 5.30AM: Most days start being woken by our six-month-old miniature dachshund, Reggie. Unfortunately, only five hours sleep since my mind switched off. My fiancée gets up to tend to him and get ready for work. This is when I check my phone for any emails that may have come in from overseas clients or customers.
6AM: I have breakfast and espresso in front of the TV and iPad, checking stockists and competitor websites to see where our products are placed, and if anything can be improved. I also look through yesterday’s sales.
10:30AM: I’m currently in the middle of organising our Christmas promotions and new product launch. Suppliers, creatives, designers, and couriers need chasing, and it seems nobody realises how much is resting on the project being completed on time.
12:30PM: Calls to our European sales agents to see what’s in the pipeline, and if there’s anything we need to work on for next week. I wish I could speak to them in their language or have time in the future to learn.
2:30PM: A Whatsapp conversation takes place with my designer about creating artwork for the website and Instagram, as Liquiproof recently won Top 10 Most Innovative Business in the
O2 Smarta 100 Awards. It’s a great achievement, and it’s recognition that strengthens our story for new customers who can’t believe how effective our footwear protection is.
3PM: I head off to the warehouse where filling, labelling and packing of our product is currently carried out. We are understaffed at the moment, so I roll up my sleeves. I know we have come a long way
In Profile Name: Caner Veil Company: LiquiProof Concept: Footwear protection/ waterproofing Start-Up Loan: £25,000 but I still like to be part of the whole process, keeping on top of quality control and batch testing. It’s also slightly therapeutic in a weird repetitive way.
5:30PM: I’m on my way to London to speak at a start-up event in front of 15 entrepreneurs who are right at the beginning of their journey. I check emails and posting on Instagram a video that one of our customers sent in of Liquiproof preventing their expensive £1,500 trainers being ruined by ketchup. It gives me a warm feeling inside, knowing I’ve made someone I’ve never met, happy.
Suppliers, creatives, designers, and couriers need chasing, and it seems nobody realises how much is resting on the project being completed on time
Caner Veil lets us delve into a day in his working life at footwear protection company, Liquiproof, winner of the Smarta 100 Awards 2014's Most innovative business award 10PM: In bed and on the phone, looking through last minute emails. I ask for advice and guidance from my fiancée, who isn’t happy as I promised I would turn my phone off. She’s been supporting me through this hard journey, and I really need to dedicate more time for us. As the hours drift past I can’t switch my brain off. I keep a notebook by the bed for jotting down ideas, otherwise I wouldn’t get any sleep. Is having just five hours per night healthy? Contact: www.liquiproof.co.uk www.startuploans.co.uk
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE RECENT HOLIDAY PAY RULING ON YOUR BUSINESS?
arlier this month in a landmark judgment the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that employees were entitled to have their overtime pay factored in when calculating how much holiday pay they should receive. At this early stage the full implications of the judgment remain unclear but claims could run into millions of pounds crippling businesses across the country. As a reader of Talk Business, we would like to offer you a free half hour discussion with one of our employment law experts to help you to understand more about this ruling either by telephone or at our Guildford office. To take advantage of this opportunity, call 01483 887766 or email email@example.com. There are a limited number of appointments available.
STRATEGY Rich With
Rise of the idiots “Can we all just calm down and show some restraint please?” asks Rich With
love the internet. It’s a great resource for finding out stuff. But something has been troubling me recently. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it has crossed my radar with everincreasing frequency lately. You see, the internet is populated by idiots. Time and again, I’m staggered by the sheer levels of ignorance. Controversy seems to have taken the place of rational debate, as formerly clearminded, erudite individuals are reduced to braying mobs, in an attempt to get their voice heard. Pay a quick trip to any ‘comments’ feed on a UK newspaper’s website and slightly grumpy ‘nimbys’ will be reduced to a seething mass of bile as they pontificate on anything from immigration issues to what size Kim Kardashian’s backside is this week. Recently in the US, a girl took a picture of a young chap working at Target, who bore a passing resemblance to Justin Bieber. It then went viral under the hashtag #AlexFromTarget. So viral in fact, that Ellen DeGeneres decided to interview him. Then a media company claimed they had instigated the whole thing. Except they didn’t. What possesses a company to take credit for something they hadn’t done? Not only does it make you look fake and slimy,
jumping on the bandwagon, it makes you look like gloryhunters who aren’t to be trusted too. As a business, it’s not enough to be known - you need to be liked and trusted too. A client of ours recently found a comment on their Facebook feed that said “My children weren’t entertained while they waited for their food”. Erm, it’s a takeaway love, not the queue for Space Mountain. While another client - also a restaurant - received a vicious complaint on Trip Advisor that “all of the specials were sold out”. It turns out that it was 9:45pm - fifteen minutes before the kitchen was closing. Psychologically, there’s a sense of detachment. We daren’t make a complaint at the time, but we become a vitriolic keyboard warrior the moment we get indoors, venting our anger at a perceived slight by a business or establishment, under the safety of anonymity. There are signs of hope though. Chelsea fan, Joe Davis recently Instagrammed John Terry in response to a claim by Jose Mourinho that the fans at a recent game showed little support. Davis succinctly put his case that high ticket prices, over-zealous security, and fan segregation were prime factors. Terry responded in person and listened to the fan’s comments, empathising with him and
even trying to find some solutions. (John Terry and empathy in the same sentence who’d have thought it?) If anything, this shows that there’s still a place for clear and thoughtful dialogue, and that even in this age of trolling, it’s a way to get your voice heard in a logical manner. Nevertheless, brands and businesses need to get on top of this, and have a strategy in place for dealing with idiots, otherwise there’s a potential for livelihoods to be upset over a Facebook status update.
Brands and businesses need to a strategy for dealing with idiots, otherwise there’s a potential for livelihoods to be upset over a Facebook status
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STRATEGY Reduce energy usage
Freeze your spending, not your staff With the colder weather and shorter days, it’s only natural that energy bills for businesses within the UK start to increase in line with the extra usage. Stephen Beard, SME sales manager at Gazprom Energy, breaks down the various ways in which SMEs can reduce their energy usage over winter.
By putting measures in place to save on lighting alone, SMEs could collectively save up to £700 million
nergy costs make up a significant amount of SMEs’ spending. Collectively, small to medium businesses in the United Kingdom spend £3.5 billion on energy bills each year. On average, a typical SME receives an electricity bill of £2,500 and a gas bill of around £3,200. As the winter draws in, and energy bills rise, savvy businesses will be looking to make savings where they can. But first, where is all the energy being used, and what can be done to keep costs down?
ENERGY WASTAGE Lighting is usually one of the biggest culprits, particularly in workplaces that don’t make use of LEDs, or those that leave lights on overnight. By putting measures in place to save on lighting alone,
SMEs could collectively save up to £700 million. Office equipment can be another drain on business’ finances. When equipment is left on standby during bank holidays and weekends, it can cost the average SME up to £6,000 annually. Workplaces can lower this cost by 12% each year, simply by ensuring that non-essential equipment is turned off at the end of the day, rather than left on standby. It’s not only the energy used in the workplace that can be reduced to make savings; by cutting the energy dispelled through services and transport, businesses can make significant savings while making a difference to the environment.
WINTER BUSINESS ENERGY-SAVING TIPS Heating the workplace during the
winter months is unfortunately unavoidable. Unless you want the entire team to be working in coats and woolly gloves, sometimes the most effective ways of saving business energy are the most simple. For those looking to put considerable effort into reducing their business energy usage, investments could be made into energy-saving products, such as special light bulbs, sealants to reduce drafts, and, if applicable to your workplace, eco-showers. If heat retention is a big problem, now is the time to act. Cavity wall insulation could be an option in some buildings. While costs can be high, it can be a good longer term investment - often paying for itself within a few years. It’s not unusual for businesses to feel overwhelmed by the energy-saving options available to them, and if this
STRATEGY Reduce energy usage
implements various methods of increasing employee engagement, you can ensure that everyone within the workplace is doing their bit. Split staff members into teams, and offer incentives and prizes to those who perform the best, and make the most substantial savings.
SWITCH TO SAVE
Office equipment can be another drain on business’ finances. When equipment is left on standby during bank holidays and weekends, it can cost the average SME up to £6,000 annually
is the case it could be worth talking to a consultant or broker who undertakes energy saving surveys or audits. Seeking help from someone with extensive knowledge on the topic, can be a great way of kick-starting new energy-efficient habits.
ENGAGING ENERGYSAVING EMPLOYEES 89% of small businesses have begun to take note of the impact that their energy use can have on, not only their finances, but also the environment. As a result of their research, these businesses have begun to put sustainable practices into place, making sustainability a top priority for 2014. By making energy efficiency a team effort, Marks and
Spencer recently cut energy usage throughout 600 stores by 19%. This was achieved by implementing an employee engagement campaign, and providing staff with the necessary skills to help drive the project forward. Staff members have been trained to help combat climate change and waste, to trade more ethically and encourage healthy living. In an attempt to raise awareness of their commitment to economic and corporate social responsibility, many businesses have become more open with regards to their sustainability efforts. Sainsbury’s, for example, releases its yearly sustainability plans to make its efforts public. By developing a plan that
Switching to another business energy provider can help you to make big savings too. A change in contract can make a huge difference if you find the right deal and decide to switch supplier. You’ll not only benefit from lower bills, but there’s also potential for a better term, a higher quality service, and, in some cases, providers may offer added incentives for you to join them. Monitor your monthly usage, or use the data that’s available if you have automated reading technology installed, and call regular meetings with your employees or colleagues to assess progress and implement changes if necessary. When a business puts adequate time and resources into reducing its energy usage, substantial gains can be seen. It can start with something as little as switching off lights and equipment at the end of the day, or introducing company-wide initiatives to get the whole team on board. Not only can businesses benefit from a reduction in costs, but, at a time where sustainability is becoming a popular target for many, they’ll give the environment a much needed boost too, which can also improve how customers and other companies perceive their brand. Contact: www.gazprom.com
54 December 2014
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STRATEGY Managing reviews
If the amount that was spent on UK advertising each year was turned into pound coins and placed sideby-side, it would stretch around the earth almost eight times
Review your reputation With so many people relying on customer feedback, a bad review online can cause irreparable damage to your business, but there are ways to mitigate the risk. Editor Luke Garner explains how
56 December 2014
STRATEGY Managing reviews
whopping £14 billion is spent on advertising in the UK alone each year, as brands and companies attempt to make their product the foremost item in consumers’ minds when they’re making purchasing decisions. That’s more money than Israel spends on its military each year, and more than the GDP of Iceland, Monaco, and The Central African Republic combined. Amazingly, if that sum was turned into pound coins and placed sideby-side, they would stretch around the earth almost eight times. But beyond all of the cash, beyond the celebrity endorsements, even beyond the soft, furry meerkats and plush toys, it seems that the old ways of word of mouth and recommendation still hold sway in an increasingly fast-paced and technologicallyadvanced marketplace. So much so that the Local Consumer Review Survey 2014 found, incredibly, that almost nine out of every 10 people will use reviews and word of mouth as a vital deciding factor when making purchasing decisions. With so much at stake, especially for SMEs to be able to compete with the big boys with huge marketing budgets, that’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to surviving on review sites, and how to ensure you get the best opportunity to showcase your business or product in a positive light online.
BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU ALLOW REVIEWS You won’t always get the chance to choose how and where your products or services are reviewed and talked about, but one place in which you can is on your company website. Using a service such as Feefo allows you to respond to any criticism in a direct and timely manner, allowing other potential customers to see your excellent customer service in action. Unfortunately, some review sites don’t allow for the company or business to respond to criticism (or in some cases positive comments), which means that really you’re a sitting duck for anyone with a chip
on their shoulder - justified or not. If using a marketplace to trade and sell your products and services, it’s wise to use a reputable site such as eBay or Amazon that only allows reviews once a genuine purchase has been confirmed. This doesn’t solve everything, but can lessen the risk.
BE TIMELY Put out fires before they get out of control. If a customer happens to have a complaint and leaves it on a review site or in a comments section, make sure that you use the reply button at the earliest opportunity to try to rectify the problem. The longer a bad review is left unchecked, the more damage it can do to your reputation. Often, if a reply is posted, the customer or service user will see that the complaint wasn’t the norm or was easily rectified. Occasionally, reviews will be embellished and will stretch the truth, and, for a negative review, replying early can mean you can clear up any misnomers or anomalies and be seen by other customers to actually care about providing a quality service.
DON’T AIR DIRTY LAUNDRY IN PUBLIC Whilst it may be at tempting at times to say exactly what you think when a review is left that you think may be unfair, or is from someone who had unrealistic expectations - particularly common in the hospitality business - sometimes it’s best to try to deal with the situation in private. For example, simply apologising for what they perceive to have been bad service etc., and then saying ‘if you contact our customer service team on soand-so number ,we can help to find a solution to your problem’, allows you to not only be seen as taking an interest in the happiness of your customers, but can also help to prevent it escalating further. This is especially true on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which can see issues such as bad customer service go viral. This is what happened to Easyjet when staff tried to refuse boarding to
a customer who complained of delays on Twitter, only to see the issue begin trending as an example of bad service.
MIMIC THEIR TONE It might seem obvious, but one of the best ways to build a rapport with a customer who feels they’ve experienced bad service is to mimic their tone. If they’re angry and serious, don’t make light of their complaint or brush it off with a joke, as this can do more damage than ignoring the complaint completely (in some cases this can be done, but it is very risky and needs to be near perfect for success). Always think, “how would I feel if I were that customer?” and respond accordingly.
YOU CAN’T WIN THEM ALL Believe it or not, the human race isn’t full of mild mannered, spiritual saints who would drop everything to help a little old lady cross the street (who knew?). This is even more apparent on the internet, where some people will try their best to disparage your business for no good reason. Often this is referred to as ‘trolling’, but sometimes people will just have unrealistic expectations, or will be in a bad mood and will intentionally leave unfair, vindictive, or deliberately negative feedback as a way to make themselves feel better. In this situation, especially when being trolled, you can ask the site where the review is hosted to take down the review, but sometimes it is best just to leave the person to it and concentrate on drowning out their vitriol with positive comments. You can’t win every battle, but you can win the war after all. As mentioned, using a review site that checks for genuine purchases before allowing customers to post anything, can help mitigate this issue. Whilst you can’t control everything, if you take these simple steps you give yourself every chance of overpowering the negative reviews with the positive ones. And remember - providing a good product or service in the first place prevents all!
Whilst it may be tempting at times to say exactly what you think when a review is left that you think may be unfair, sometimes it’s best to try to deal with the situation in private
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STRATEGY Handling overseas agencies
Make your world a smaller place Jacqui Keep, head of content marketing for Powwownow, explains how you can successfully manage relationships across international borders
It’s important from the outset that, when working with any agency, you set clear objectives so everyone knows they’re working towards common goals
anaging relationships with agencies well, is vital for business success. So how can you make sure you effectively manage an agency, when you are based in different locations, or even different countries? What are the keys to making the relationships work? Here are my top tips on how to manage a successful crossboundary relationship:
SET CLEAR OBJECTIVES It’s important from the outset when working with any agency, that you set clear objectives so everyone knows they’re working towards common goals. This becomes even more important when the client/agency are separated by distance, as having clear objectives at the beginning of your relationship will mean you can assess how well they are doing, and whether you need to evaluate activity.
HAVE REGULAR CATCH UPS To make sure that you and your agency keep a good relationship going, have regular chats. By speaking regularly to the team, you can keep up-to-date with
activities, as well as discuss any potential issues that they may be having. I speak to our German agency on an almost daily basis via email, with weekly conference calls at the same time each week, so we know when and how we’re speaking to each other.
UTILISE TECHNOLOGY We live in an era where technology is at the heart of our everyday lives, so we should be utilising it. Conference calls, video conferences, and instant chat are all ways of bringing together the client and agency, even if distance is an issue. Video conferencing especially, allows you to speak to your team as if they were in the same room, without the cost or time requirements of travel.
MAKE THE AGENCY PART OF YOUR TEAM It’s important to try to integrate your agency as much as possible. This can be done by sharing business objectives, and sharing progress throughout the year. It’s also important to highlight how the agency’s work feeds into the overall results. As well as having regular
one-to-one catch ups, we also have a bi-weekly, all-agency meeting, where all our different agencies conference call and discuss activities we’re working on.
MEET WHEN YOU CAN Being able to see someone’s face when speaking to them makes the relationship a lot more personal. I find the better my relationship with an agency, the harder they will work for me, and the better the results they will achieve. If you’re in the same area as they are, it’s worth finding the time to meet up for a quick coffee to get to know each other.
PRAISE THEM WHEN THEY DO WELL People like to be praised and thanked, especially when they’ve worked hard towards something. By praising them for their good work, you’ll encourage them to want to achieve these results again. They’ll also begin to learn exactly what results you’re looking for, so they can aim to produce more work of the same calibre moving forward. Contact: www.powwownow.co.uk
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STRATEGY Investor readiness
Don’t run before you can walk Why getting your business ‘investor ready’ from the outset is a mistake, according to Kenny Fraser of Sunstone Communication
uch is written and spoken about being ‘investor ready’, especially in the start-up community, where it is considered by some to be the holy grail. However, take a step back and you’ll realise that it’s really a red herring. Investors, first and foremost, want to invest in great businesses or businesses which have potential. Nowhere on the internet, or in books will you find investors, angels, or VCs stipulating ‘investor readiness’ in their key criteria. Start-ups should therefore focus their efforts on creating a great business first, and the funding will follow. Most millionaires didn’t set out with the goal of becoming millionaires. They found something they were passionate about or excelled at, and the money was almost a by-product of this. By the same token, if start-ups concentrate on building a great team, and have a product or service, which can be sold profitably, and the business can be scaled up, then the funding offers should start to flow. Remember that investing in a start-up is a partnership. You
shouldn’t feel that you need to go, cap in hand to investors, and be grateful for whatever they offer. The investor has scarce resources of money and expertise, but the start-up offers something which is perhaps rarer - great people and an innovative business. It’s a symbiotic relationship - investors need start-ups as much as startups need investors! If you want to raise money, be prepared to spend a lot of time on preparation. However, the key thing is not to lose yourself in the ‘investor ready’ process. I have seen many pitches and business plans refined and improved by expert advisors, which are designed to answer every question in the book. Sooner or later, the investor asks a question which is not in the book, leaving the founder exposed. Securing investment is an exciting moment for any business. Remember, you are an equal partner in that investment, and what you bring to the party is the idea and the passion. Lose these, and the investment will be a disaster for you and the investor. Keep them and we will all have fun!
Remember that investing in a start-up is a partnership. You shouldn’t feel that you need to go cap in hand to investors, and be grateful for whatever they offer
Top tips for dealing with investors: • Investors have different preferences (preor post-revenue, tech or non-tech, etc.). You need to find a fit with your business. • Every investor will talk about the importance of the team. You need to convince the investor that you know what you’re doing, and are passionate about it. • Don’t take investment from someone who ‘doesn’t get it’. • Investors want to know how you intend to make money. Have you a revenue model, and how will you scale up sales? • Is there a market for your product/service? Just because an industry expert says there is a multi-billion pound sector, does not prove there is a market for your idea. Make sure you carry out proper market research.
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MARKETING Kimberley Davis
Christmas cracker or just a pudding? Marketing guru and founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, Kimberly Davis, looks at which Christmas adverts have hit the spot, which have flopped and how you can learn from them
I Lidl is known for being the cheapest of all the supermarkets. As the cheapest, the assumption is that they also have the poorest quality. A reputation they clearly want to change. So, this year they enter the game with an advert that has a large family gathered for Christmas dinner. They are having a good time and discussing how good their meal is. They try to guess where such a delicious meal has come from. They name all the competitors, and in the end, are surprised to find it’s Lidl. VERDICT Lidl are fighting a near impossible battle. They have established themselves as the cheapest of the stores. What’s wrong with that? Embrace it. M&S and Waitrose already dominate the high end of the market. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be what you are and be the best at it.
t’s the big countdown to Christmas and the extended “storybook” adverts have begun. Companies like John Lewis and M&S spend millions of pounds trying to recreate the magic of the Cadbury gorilla and CocaCola polar bears. Whilst you might think that these adverts are responsible for driving millions of pounds in revenue to their respective companies, this is simply not true. It’s a common misconception that advertising is used to build brands and sell products. Whilst
that does happen from time to time (usually by accident), the real purpose of advertising is to build a wall around a pre-existing brand. In other words, it’s a way for companies to flex their muscles and send a message to other companies, saying, “Back off. I’m the leader and you can’t catch me.” So most of these adverts are just art. That being said, I’m breaking down this year’s big shopping adverts to see which ones have the greatest chance of success and why, and what tips you can gain from them.
Two little fairies are showing up for work and bringing magic sparkle to the people of Britain. With a snap of their fingers, everything becomes sparkly and they get their way. VERDICT This is 104 seconds of my life that I will never get back, and I’m a little bitter about it, in all honesty. The M&S fairies will do nothing to bring M&S any sales. Nor will it be a big talking point. This is more filler than anything else, which is a shame, because
they had done such a lovely job with their marketing in recent years. It is too safe, and that doesn’t create the required buzz to get people excited. Bring back Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Helena Bonham Carter, and David Gandy! talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 63
MARKETING Kimberly Davis
It’s a stroke of genius on John Lewis’ part, and a lesson in the art of cross-promotion This commercial has a very simple and clear message. A young girl struggles to get her Christmas cookies right. A kind Waitrose rep helps her until, finally, she does get it right. The advert ends with the message, “Everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose, so they care more.” VERDICT I love a simple message, I love filling a niche, and I love a unique selling point. This advert does all the above without any special effects or huge budgets. They know that the people of Britain will pay more for excellent customer service. That’s what Waitrose does best, and they prove it with this simple message. That annoying “Bom Bom” song is back again in this very bizarre advert. It’s panto with Myleene Klass and Christopher Biggins. VERDICT There is too much going on in this advert. It’s cluttered, busy, and I can’t focus on any of the featured products. And perhaps, most importantly, I thought this was M&S at first (which is not good for M&S as this cheapens their look). Myleene needs to pick a side, or M&S needs to drop her, as this sort of disaster will only lose them business. A little boy and his best friend, Monty the penguin, can’t be separated. They do everything together. But the young boy notices that his buddy is lonely and craves true love. On Christmas morning, under the tree, waits a female penguin, and we realize that the young boy now has a new penguin toy to match his worn one.
Happy holidays, everyone! Contact: www.sarsaparillamarketing.com
VERDICT On its own, this advert would just be a beautiful and moving piece of art. But John Lewis has hit a stroke of genius by giving Monty his own life and line of products in their stores. You can buy a children’s book, gift bags, cards, and even your own stuffed Monty plush doll, so that your kids can have the same experience as the boy in the advert. Plus, Monty has his own Twitter page, phone app, and more. It’s a stroke of genius on John Lewis’ part, and a lesson in the art of cross-promotion (similar to Compare The Market’s famous Aleksander the meerkat campaign, which features an alternative Compare the Meerkat website, plush toys and more).
64 December 2014
MARKETING Festive social media tips
Festive frolics to increase social followers Jasper Rosenau, head of digital communications at Spider PR, looks at how you can embrace the festive season through social media, without devaluing your brand
rumble all you like about mince pies appearing on supermarket shelves in September, but a look at Google Trends will show you that this is when people start searching for terms like ‘Christmas present’. The fact is, consumers gear up early for Christmas, and you’d be crackers not to follow suit. This is great news for businesses, and the opportunities for growth provided during the festive period can put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest Grinch. In the digital age, social media has a big role to play in this, with shoppers looking to it for inspiration on purchasing decisions, as well as shareable content from friends - and from trusted brands.
66 December 2014
MARKETING Festive social media tips
THE PITFALLS OF FESTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA - AND HOW TO AVOID THEM Social media might seem easy, but getting the balance between engaging and annoying can be easier said than done. Here are some of the social media pitfalls some brands make during the Christmas period: Consumers gear up early for Christmas, and you’d be crackers not to follow suit
This is one of the golden rules, and you should aim for a split where just 20% of what you post is salesoriented
THEY CRAM THE FESTIVE SEASON DOWN THEIR COMMUNITY’S THROAT Much like that third slice of Christmas pudding, it’s important not to overdo it, as you might regret it later. Some people love Christmas, others not so much, and it’s important to strike an even balance. Posting too frequently about Christmas, or simply using the occasion to repeatedly promote your brand, is a turn off. THEY BITE OFF MORE THAN THEY CAN CHEW Christmas promotions are a great way to give back to your community, but if all your messaging is focussed on this, it may become boring. Also, make sure you don’t set the closing date and winner announcements of competitions, too close to the big day - do it well before or wait until things have calmed down. THEY DEVIATE FROM THEIR USUAL TONE OF VOICE Consider very carefully how your brand would discuss Christmas if it were a person. Would it, for example, spend the whole of December telling everyone about how great it is, and how everyone should try it? No, and if it did, it wouldn’t be invited to many Christmas parties. The key is to blend in with, and compliment, the chatter coming from friends and family. THEY DON’T DO ANYTHING FOR CHRISTMAS Understandably, as it is at a busy time, many brands seem to ignore Christmas, or at least do
the bare minimum, but the fact is that even a small degree of effort can reap big rewards, not just in December, but carrying through the rest of the year.
TOP TIPS FOR A HAPPY SOCIAL MEDIA CHRISTMAS As well as avoiding the pitfalls, it is crucial to make the most of the opportunity to engage and grow your community, and ultimately, increase sales. Why not try the following to bring some cheer to your social media channels this December?
5 USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO DRIVE PEOPLE TO YOUR WEBSITE Engaging people on social channels is valuable from a brand awareness perspective, but they should also feed in to a point of sale, such as a website. Likewise, websites should feed into social media channels, creating a closed loop. 6 GET THE CONTENT MIX RIGHT This is one of the golden rules, and you should aim for a split where just 20% of what you post is sales-oriented.
1 PLANNING IS KEY Some businesses spend the whole year building up to December, but this isn’t always possible. You should, however, plan as far ahead as possible to make use of the opportunities presented. Christmas is invariably the busiest time of the year, so the sooner you have a content plan in place, the sooner you can focus on other aspects of the business.
7 CONSIDER ENLISTING HELP With everything else going on, it may be worthwhile hiring an external social media consultant or agency to make the most of the opportunities available.
2 LEARN FROM LAST YEAR’S SUCCESSES What worked in 2013? Which posts and ideas received the most audience engagement? Can you build on it this year? Can you avoid making the same mistakes?
9 EMBRACE THE CHRISTMAS COMPETITION Reward your community by offering prizes. This could be one grand prize, or a higher volume of stocking fillers. Either way, people love freebies - especially at Christmas - and this is a great way to give back, whilst swelling numbers of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’.
3 SET YOUR OBJECTIVES It is vital to set measurable objectives and goals, so you can look back later to see what worked, and what didn’t. This will enable you to learn about what your community wants. It’s also important that social media objectives are aligned to wider marketing objectives. 4 UPDATE DESIGNS ON SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS Cover images and headers are great Christmas billboards use them to promote your best sellers and services for Christmas.
8 MAKE USE OF FESTIVE OFFERS Make purchasing decisions easier, by rewarding loyal community members with exclusive offers.
10 CONTINUE TO KEEP YOUR COMMUNITY ENGAGED Once you’ve done all the hard work, remember to keep your audience engaged into the New Year. Growing a community is an ongoing process, and can’t be neglected at any time. Just because you’ve met targets for Christmas, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue the goodwill beyond that. Contact: www.spider-pr.com
Cambridge Judge Business School Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning
enabling the best entrepreneurial minds to transform ideas into real action and new enterprises At Cambridge, we aim to nurture the best entrepreneurial brains, taking you on a journey of self-discovery and building the right business skills, knowledge and networks to enable you to transform your ideas into real ventures. Find out more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship via our web site: www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/ diploma/index.html Contact us T: +44(0)1223 766900 E: email@example.com
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MARKETING Social selling
You and what army? Gideon Lask, founder and CEO of Buyapowa, looks at how you can turn your social media following into a powerful army of advocates to sell your brand
good social media strategy can create new growth channels, maximise the value of your customer base and above all, publicise your business without sapping your income. But, with the ASA reporting that SMEs wasted a whopping £2.5 billion on ineffective marketing last year, it’s clear that small businesses need to avoiding splurging their precious (and limited) cash on questionable tactics that don’t deliver any real return on investment. The great thing is that, as an SME, chances are you’re quick on your feet in a way that the lumbering giants of the high street are not. Here are a few social selling strategies to consider that will turn your most valuable asset - your customers - into an army of advocates.
CUSTOMERS 1ENCOURAGE TO RECOMMEND YOU Customers are no longer just dots on a graph or lines on a spreadsheet, so winning their hearts and minds is more important than ever. Your message needs to be clear, and needs to inspire not only purchase, but also referral. In other words, your product and
Customers are no longer just dots on a graph, so winning hearts and minds is important. Your message needs to inspire not only purchase, but also referral
message needs to be strong enough to inspire your customer to recommend you to a friend. This could mean offering discounts for those that recommend you, making your content exceptionally sharable, or offering privileges for your most loyal fans. Simple right? In a sense we’re going back to a simpler time, where success relied on quality, personal recommendation, and good old fashioned word of mouth.
CUSTOMERS 2 MAKE PART OF YOUR DEVELOPMENT TEAM Social is a land of opportunity for small businesses. Rather than wait until after customers have purchased your product, why not get fans involved at the beginning of the product development process? Ask your fans what they want, make it, and chances are they will go on to buy it. It seems obvious, but this level of engagement is surprisingly uncommon. One example that caught our eye was Brewdog, and its #mashtag campaign. This bespoke brewer created a whole line designed by its consumers. Relying on your fans to create
a product is a risk, but it can pay off hugely.
3 DISCOUNT CLEVERLY
Discounting can be a great way of bringing in new customers but, more often than not, it’s a blanket approach that can damage your bottom line, and fail to take into account the unique nature of both your product and your customer. You want loyal customers that will come back and value your offering, not deal hunters. This doesn’t mean that discounting is completely dead in the water. Make people earn your discounts, either via the traditional lottery system (your products are free for the 500th customer), or via a gamification system, where customers win discounts for referring a certain number of friends to your products. Everyone loves a competition and a sense of chance, and it’s more cost effective to execute. What’s key is ensuring that you’re protecting the value of your brand, and making money, not simply pushing price slashes or big red sale signs. Contact: www.buyapowa.com talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 69
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PEOPLE Servant leadership
eading an online discussion, I came across the following comment; “I am tired of hearing politicians say ‘when we come to power’. What happened to ‘when we have the privilege to serve’?” I agree; political leaders should serve the public, the nation - not themselves, the media, or their party donors. Indeed, should not service be intrinsic to all leadership and, if so, why has the ‘servant leadership’ concept not gained more traction? The ability to support and empower is a cornerstone of servant leadership. And, whilst important within the leadership lexicon of large organisations, think how much more important it is in SMEs, where your team experience your support, integrity and leadership directly, personally and daily? However, it’s not an easy call. Servant leadership requires putting your ego aside, and your team’s needs to the foreground. Instead of applying coercive control, you nurture and inspire your team. Instead of driving or manipulating your staff down a prescribed route, you give your team options, flexibility, and autonomy to deliver desired outcomes. Robert Greenleaf (the 1970s guru of servant leadership) argued that whilst coercion only generates resistance, servant leaders are “functionally superior, closer to the ground, they hear things, see things, know things” and their ‘intuitive insight becomes exceptional”. Furthermore, it works in practice. I recently interviewed a former international software project manager. Her guiding principle was that project managers were not there to dominate or instruct the technicians, but to support and empower them. Project managers managed the clients’ expectations, provided clear requirement specifications to the software engineers, and ensured the team had everything possible
to enable them to deliver. The team was highly successful and, years later, her then-colleagues claim it was the best work experience of their lives. Empowerment is considered beneficial. However, Greenleaf recognised organisations’ need for order and consistency, and that empowering staff must not create ‘free-for-all’ chaos. Institutions, he argued, require “administration for order and consistency and leadership to mitigate the effects of administration on initiative and creativity…”. The leader’s challenge being to “keep this tension at a healthy level that has an optimising effect”. In SMEs, where you are closer to your team, achieving this
structure/creativity balance offers a huge opportunity, and is far more sustainable than command-control dictatorship. In fact, in the SME world, servant leadership is perhaps far more prevalent than we realise - we just don’t call it that. Perhaps the concept’s name is the reason no-one much talks about servant leadership in the world of big corporates. After all, how many ‘captains of industry’ or politicians would like to consider themselves ‘servant’ to their staff or electorate? Maybe it’s a case of ‘great concept, shame about the name’? Contact: www.leadersforleadership.co.uk
Should not service be intrinsic to all leadership and, if so, why has the ‘servant leadership’ concept not gained more traction?”
Here to serve us? Dr. Deborah Benson, leadership development consultant at Leaders for Leadership, asks whether business owners should serve the employee more often?
PEOPLE Money’s not the driver for retention
Money doesn’t make every world go round
It can be difficult to keep the best people, but the good news is that money isn’t the main driver. Business owners can offer employees other incentives that won’t break the bank
here’s a whole new dynamic at play in the world of business today. The fact is that, thanks to the recession and the internet, mediocre businesses will cease to exist. Through technological advancement, the playing field has levelled, and competition has never been greater. Businesses must provide exceptional products, services, and the ultimate customer experience. In order to do this, they have to employ exceptional people. With 25 years’ experience of leading international business at the highest level and mentoring many start-up and SME business owners, I know how difficult it can be to recruit, and keep, the best people - and to keep them happy and motivated. The good news is that, in my experience, money is not the main driver. Business owners can offer employees other incentives that won’t break the bank. Here are some of those other motivators that can help you to build a great team, and retain the best employees:
PRAISE Motivate and reward staff with a simple ‘thank you’ when things go well. Praise is a basic human need.
Roger Harrop, CEO, expert, and author of WIN! How to succeed in the new game of business, looks at how to recruit, motivate and retain staff without throwing handfuls of cash at them SHARE YOUR VALUES The best talent has a choice today, and will not work for an organisation whose values they don’t share. Everyone in your company needs to be clear as to how you live by them, and be constantly seeking to do better.
ASSESS BEFORE YOU RECRUIT You cannot afford to have any passengers. You need people who score 10 out of 10 throughout your organisation - especially those charged with the job of recruiting other members of your team. I recommend using one-day assessment centres to evaluate talent.
INSPIRE FROM THE TOP Employees want to be impressed by the belief, passion, and courage of their boss - not scared. They want to see evidence of fair discipline across the team, and do not value soft management.
SET CLEAR, AUTONOMOUS ROLES FOR EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR TEAM Employees want clearly defined job descriptions, and clear direction when it comes to succeeding in their role. They don’t however, value micromanagement, but expect a degree of trust and autonomy.
EXCITE THEM Employees want to be excited when they come to work; spending more time awake at work than at home certainly requires a degree of enthusiasm.
IN IT TO WIN IT Employees want to feel part of a winning and dynamic organisation; they want to go home at night and say “Yes! We’re getting there!” Let them see the results of their hard work, and the successes they have achieved, through positive feedback sessions.
Contact: www.rogerharrop.com For more information on how to recruit and retain good people download Roger’s free white paper: Seven Ways Not to Hire Turkeys.
PEOPLE Understanding quantum physics
It’s not rocket science
uantum physics tells us that we’re simply clouds of atoms that interact with each other on a physical and personal level. I call this ‘quarkiness’. But what does that have to do with team motivation? Quarks are incredibly small, sub-subatomic particles; quarkiness concerns small, usually unintentional, subsubconscious behaviours, mostly negative, which cumulatively have a corrosive effect on employee engagement and results. Quarks are so tiny that they are almost impossible to see. In a team meeting, silent, inadvertent, covert messages are almost imperceptibly exchanged. This is ‘quarky behaviour’. Those small, negative message clouds (strange quarks) have an adverse impact on the recipients. Whereas positive messages (charms) have a positive impact. In other words, we get a better return from the same amount of energy by being positive. Strange quarks can be an eye-roll, a frown, a facial tic, an intake of breath, or a certain tone of voice. It all adds up to that feeling of being burdened with someone’s disapproval.
Have you ever experienced a situation where a small act of disrespect affected you for the rest of the day? I remember delivering an important presentation, in which my performance was badly affected because of the way the CEO, sitting in the front row, was looking at me. That’s the impact of strange quarks. A single quarky act of disrespect is hardly felt, but cumulatively, it can have a corrosive and damaging effect on the motivation and performance of teams. It also has huge implications for workplace issues, such as diversity and inclusion. So, how do we make ‘quarkiness’ work for us rather than against us?
Get the ‘language’ of quarkiness onto the corporate table. It then becomes significantly easier to confront it when it happens.
Appreciate the value of our role as observers of quarky behaviour. It is a lot easier and less uncomfortable to bring this stuff to people’s attention from a third-party perspective.
Spread the word. Create discussion groups to share colleague understanding, and experiences of quarky
behaviour. Be prepared to deal with some strong feelings.
Gain commitment from team members, to focus on reducing the level of strange quarks that they transmit to each other.
Focus on a positive shift to charms. By looking at quarky behaviour - even on the tiniest of levels - we can help improve team motivation and performance by feeding them positive, not negative, energy.
Consider and agree the value of small nods of approval, appreciative smiles, congratulatory highfives, and other affirmations. They cost nothing, require minimal energy, and yet they have such a positive and energising impact on others. By tackling quarkiness, and ensuring we make steps to move from negative to positive quarky behavior, we can help ensure our teams are motivated and inclusive and, in turn, this will improve productivity and work satisfaction.
Understanding quantum physics can help you to develop a motivated team, says Kieran Hearty, author of How to Eat the Elephant in the Room
76 December 2014
PEOPLE Understanding quantum physics
Quarks are so tiny that they are almost impossible to see. In a team meeting, silent, inadvertent, covert messages are almost imperceptibly exchanged
A single quarky act of disrespect is hardly felt, but cumulatively, it can have a corrosive and damaging effect on the motivation and performance of teams
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PEOPLE Conflict in the workplace
Calming the storm
onflict in the workplace has a negative impact on everyone. It can affect morale, and lead to talented people leaving organisations. So what should you do to better manage conflict in the workplace? The first thing is to step back and assess how a situation escalated. Remember the saying “it takes two to tango” - any conflict, whether between the boss and a colleague or two colleagues, will always have two sides. It’s worth all parties taking a step back and examining what went wrong, and for both parties to take ownership of their contribution to the conflict. With careful evaluation often comes the realisation and the understanding from people, that perhaps they have both contributed to the situation. On a more positive note, it can also lead to the knowledge that the damage may not be irreversible. The root cause of most misunderstandings at work is poor communication. Take, for example, the employee who decided not to overload his manager’s inbox by only copying his boss on emails when he needed to escalate a situation. The problem here was that the manager only ever received negative communications. Whilst the boss was only updated on a fraction of the problems, all the communication was
Marielena Sabatier, CEO and founder of www.Inspiring-Potential.com, discusses how business owners can manage conflict in the workplace negative, which made him doubt his employee’s ability and competence. Communication from staff must be balanced if they are to get a fair representation. To avoid conflict, managers The root cause need to encourage open and of most mishonest communication that is not understandings confrontational, and encourage an at work is poor environment in which everyone communication. feels they can discuss issues People assume openly and safety. they understand Here are some other tips for others’ avoiding conflict and creating intentions, harmonious teams: but in reality, they don’t THINK BEFORE YOU ACT
for people to assume that others have ill intentions, rather than finding out what they really are.
ADMIT MISTAKES AND RIGHT WRONGS Often, people are afraid of admitting mistakes because they don’t trust others to treat them fairly. However, they need to take responsibility for their failure, and not blame others or circumstances. Taking responsibility means that people learn from the mistakes, and take action to remedy them.
People need to assess a situation’s potential outcomes before taking action. This involves asking how they would feel if they were in the other person’s shoes. Looking at the situation from another’s perspective can allow language or behaviour to be modified to avoid conflict.
DEFINE INTENTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS
If a conversation is deteriorating, people need to take a break, and re-group to finish the conversation once emotions have calmed down.
One of the main reasons that conflict occurs at work is when people assume they understand the intentions of others, but in reality, they don’t. A common mistake is
To encourage good communication, managers need to provide feedback to their teams ,and ask for feedback. It should be done calmly and constructively, without engaging defensive emotions.
KNOW WHEN TO CALL A TIME OUT
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PEOPLE Horrible bosses
henever I can, I ask our customers what finally pushed them over the line to strike out on their own and start their own business. The often well-rehearsed response can be predictable. Typically, it’s a variation on the theme of making your own money, making your own decisions, or making your passion your living. Sometimes, it’s a combination of all three. What’s really fascinating is the backdrop to these decisions. The personal stories are rarely the same. How they finally broke the news to their partner, what they have left behind, and how different and satisfying life is now, above and beyond the initial reasons why they decided to go it alone.
Having started, and grown, several of my own businesses over the past 20 years, I am more excited than ever by the prospect of helping others give it a go. To understand how best to do this, my company, Moonfruit recently commissioned a poll to get to the bottom of exactly why people start their own business. Was my experience of talking to business owners reflective of the country as a whole? Turns out by and large it was. It also confirmed that many of us hate our boss. Depressingly, far too many can’t stand those in charge all day, every day. Some feel stressed, others invisible and worryingly, quite a few, intimidated. That’s unhealthy. If even a fraction of the 50% of people who told us they hate their boss go on to start their own business, or test drive their
Don’t be seen as The Grinch by your employees this Christmas, and don’t drive away your best talent, says Richard Dennys, director of marketing at Moonfruit
Want to lose the total respect of your team; dress them down in public, endlessly shift the goalposts, and bully them into thinking it’s your way or the highway
dream by starting up online, and then remember during the inevitable periods of hard work and pressure what it means to be a good boss, we’re already better off. Because it’s not always easy. On the one hand, starting your own business means not having to answer to someone else, but on the other, who do you continue to learn from? Our poll of what makes a good boss versus a horrible one was as eye opening as it was eye wateringly obvious. Want to be a good boss? Regardless of Myers Briggs profiles, be honest and trustworthy, and publically show concern for your workforce. Even make a cup of tea once in a while, and don’t be afraid to reveal your sense of humour. Want to lose the total respect
PEOPLE Horrible bosses
of your team; dress them down in public, endlessly shift the goalposts, and bully them into thinking it’s your way or the highway. Other pet hates include taking the credit for others’ hard work, spreading gossip, and fostering a climate of fear. These are the quickest ways to driving your best talent away to go it alone. Remember that for many of your employees, they may not share the passion and drive for the company that you do. After all, it is your company, and their financial and emotional investment isn’t as strong as yours. Therefore, don’t get angry and shout if they don’t show as much passion. Their main concerns may simply be money, providing for family, or even just having something to do all day. That doesn’t mean their work isn’t of value to you, and that they won’t work hard. Try to get them to understand your vision for the business, and make them as passionate as you are about the company’s future in other ways. For example, you can offer bonuses for good performance, or even introduce a share scheme that means employees gain as the company does for their hard work. Another way to alienate employees is to not let them know when they have done well. Christmas is the perfect time for this. It might simply be a cash bonus, or a small gift, but anything that makes an employee feel valued, and their efforts seem worthwhile, will help to create an emotional connection with the company. Your best employees might not say so, but everyone loves a compliment. For even the most cash-strapped of businesses, a simple “Well done” or “Thank you” can go a long way. Perhaps most importantly of all though, is to remember
It might simply be a cash bonus, or a small gift, but anything that makes an employee feel valued, and their efforts seem worthwhile, will help to create an emotional connection with the company
that everyone has bad days. Sometimes, an employee will not be at 100%, and their work will suffer. Rather than shouting and bawling at them, why not try to find out how you can help make things right. You shouldn’t take your troubles to work, but your staff are human beings, and problems in their home lives can have an effect on them. This works both ways
too - when you’re having a tough time, don’t take it out on your employees! If you keep these things in mind, you’ll not only be able to retain your workforce, but you’ll have a happy and productive environment, pushing your business forward. Contact: www.moonfruit.com
82 December 2014
PEOPLE Secret diary of an entrepreneur
DAY ONE THE NEXT BIG THING?
Secret diary of an
Master chocolatier and entrepreneur, Paul A Young takes us through a week in his business life, making delicious treats and confectionary in London
It’s still dark, and as part of my morning ritual, my dog Billi and I go for our walk - it’s a great way to start the day. I get into my Soho shop on Wardour Street early to prep for my new production manager’s induction day, a new role for the business, and for my team of chocolatiers. The pair of us embark on a quick tour of our flagship store and production kitchen, before we move on to the real chocolate talk; how we manufacture and create all our products by hand, in store, plus a tasting of a few brand new autumn collection chocolates for quality control; including the apple, rosemary and stilton, and the coconut molasses truffles. My afternoon is focused on Christmas, and finalising any new recipes, product specification sheets, and staff training that may need to be done ready for the busiest period of the year. In the evening, I have an interesting event looking at ‘The next big thing in food’ with the Financial Times.
DAY TWO CHOCOLATE TASTING TRAVELS Every Tuesday, I make sure I visit each of my shops, so first thing, I hop onto the tube to Islington, where I opened my first shop in 2006. There, I meet with my retail and production team, check on product quality, shop displays, and get a full update from them after the weekend rush. I then head back onto the tube to my city shop in the prestigious Royal Exchange Building, again to catch up with the team and to meet customers, as well as having a few more chocolates. At lunchtime, I make sure to fit in a 1km swim - as well as great exercise, it gives me time to think through all of my latest ideas.
84 December 2014
PEOPLE Secret diary of an entrepreneur
I find it so exciting to see how passionate my customers are, and how hungry they are to be taught about fine chocolates After a visit to my Heal’s store on Tottenham Court Road, the afternoon is more artistic, with some time in my development kitchen back in Soho. I’m working on my Valentine’s 2015 collection ideas and flavour combinations. This is the part of the day I love, as I still enjoy being hands on with the chocolate, and never really know what will come out of the creative process. When it comes to generating new flavours, I will try every ingredient I possibly can; I’m now infamous for my Marmite truffle!
DAY THREE THINKING CAPS ON I’m working with my production team in Soho today, discussing new ideas with everyone, while jotting down their ideas on the wipe clean walls. It’s a great way for me to involve creative people, and for
the whole senior team the opportunity to come together and update each other on any business-related matters, and any immediate or long term decisions. An hour later, my monthly managers’ meeting takes place with my kitchen and shop managers, where we analyse the past month’s sales and production, and plan ahead. Again, I go for a lunchtime 1km swim. This afternoon, I have a packed schedule of press interviews plus a TV crew filming us making our multiaward winning sea salted caramels. We were actually one of the first to make sea salted caramels in the UK, and bring them to the forefront
DAY THREE WHAT’S IN STORE? Up early for a breakfast meeting with my business partner, James Cronin, to discuss our strategy for 2015/16, and where we will take the business. It’s an exciting meeting, abuzz with lots of ideas and some decisions, which have us both eager to get started. For a Friday lunch treat, I order a Heartbreaker Burger from Tongue ‘n’ Cheek, situated on Berwick Street, just around the corner from my Soho shop. Made with 40% beef heart, minced in with the beef, it’s not to everybody’s taste, but I think it may be the best burger I’ve ever had. The rest of my day is spent at my Heal’s shop, on Tottenham Court Road, with my amazing baker Ceyda. I love working with her to When it comes to generating new flavours, I will try every ingredient I possibly can; I’m now infamous for my Marmite truffle!
my team to have a say in what we create for the shops. It’s a very productive day, with six new concepts and recipes. In the evening, I make time for a 10k run. I recently completed my first half marathon, and am trying to maintain my physical fitness over the winter - vital when your job involves tasting so much chocolate!
DAY FOUR STARS OF THE SMALL SCREEN Our weekly 9am senior managers’ meeting gives
of the chocolate scene here, following my win at the Academy of Chocolate Awards. It’s an exciting afternoon, as my chocolatiers can show off their incredible skills, making the day dynamic and fun for everyone involved. My evening is spent in the Soho shop kitchen with 12 chocolate loving guests, for an evening of chocolate making and tasting. I find it so exciting to see how passionate my customers are, and how hungry they are to be taught about fine chocolates.
create new products, and the open kitchen gives customers a chance to watch us at work too. Together, we make our new double chocolate and peanut cookies, cocoa nib florentines, and brown sugar scones with salted caramel, which are prepared for my recently-launched Sea Salted Caramel Cream Tea. The peanut cookies never made it into the display jar - customers bought them warm from the oven as the whole shop filled with their comfortingly familiar smell. Contact: www.paulayoung.co.uk
NEED A BETTER PLACE TO MEET?
A SPACE FOR PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATION Conversations can spark ideas, develop plans and drive sales, which is why meetings have such a vital role to play. Whether it’s a confidential one-to-one or a lively group debate, a secure, professional environment is often conducive to a successful meeting. Meeting in a neutral environment away from the hum of computers and the ring-ring of the telephone, you can focus fully on the task at hand. Take control of your meeting atmosphere by renting a meeting space, you can take advantage of the professional, relaxing environment it affords. Renting a professional meeting room will allow businesses to make better use of meeting times making them productive, efficient and rewarding. Select a seating style that suits the number of attendees and creates exactly the atmosphere you want, choose from these options: Theatre
As a further bonus, you can enjoy a coffee and an assortment of catering options that allow the business to have the coffee shop atmosphere too. While not every business has the luxury of their own meeting room, there are plenty of alternatives to explore in your friendly local Business Centre. … read more in our recent blog post at
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PEOPLE Lee McQueen
New pensions, same old problem? Lee McQueen, founder of the Raw Talent Academy and season-four winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, says people need to understand exactly what they’ll get from their pensions - and what they won’t
here are big changes coming in for pension saving. The Government’s autoenrolment scheme will affect every small business and all their employees. But while I understand the reasons for encouraging people to save for their retirement, more needs to be done to help people understand the situation, and to give them guidance on what they need to save for later life. The first thing to say is that I myself don’t save into a pension scheme. I own a couple of properties, as well as my home, and I see them as being my pension. I think I’ll get more out of them than I would out of a pension fund. Also, my company doesn’t offer a pension scheme to our staff at the moment, so we are one of those businesses that are going to have to address this as the changes come in.
I don’t know if I’m talking for small businesses as a whole, but pensions have never seemed to be the priority for us when we’re recruiting people. It’s obviously a big discussion point at the moment, but it hasn’t previously been top of the list. I guess that’s part of the reason why the Government has taken action though. My concern about the new Government-backed scheme is that people will get themselves into a comfort zone, where they think everything is taken care of - only to find out at a later date that they fall short of what they need. For years, we have been promised this and that about what pensions would provide for us, but too often it has resulted in disappointment. For example, my dad was a milkman for 42 years, but he couldn’t retire at 65 on a state pension because it simply didn’t pay him enough for what
he needed to live on. On the one hand, that is a reason to encourage more people to start saving for their futures now. But I’m worried that some people might think that just because they are in the new autoenrolment scheme, they can sit back and it’s job done. It is all about planning ahead. If expectations If people are going to use their aren’t managed employer’s pension schemes, today, there they need to start by working could be huge out what they will need to disappointment retire on, and then working and anger backwards to find out how tomorrow much they need to put aside to give them the best chance of achieving it. But there are no guarantees, and those saving into a pension scheme need to be fully aware of that fact. If expectations aren’t managed today, there could be huge disappointment and anger tomorrow. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.com
PEOPLE HR Insight
t’s the age old ‘Catch 22’ conundrum; can’t get a job without experience, and can’t get experience without a job. Apprenticeships were well used in our parent’s and grandparent’s day, and are slowly making a comeback, particularly within the ever-dwindling manufacturing sector, but have internships replaced these by creating a new way of skilling the workforce? The recession saw a 20% decline in university sandwich courses, meaning that graduates were entering the marketplace with no relevant experience. Those without any experience in their desired field may have been lucky enough to join management training programmes, but these aren’t for everyone. Many were left with limited choices in an uncertain economic environment, which resulted in unpaid internships being enormously oversubscribed.
WHAT IS IT? Essentially, an employer will offer an internship agreement to someone with limited skill and experience in a particular field. The intern will gain vital knowledge, and the employer will have the advantage of extra labour to assist with projects and general work. This is a training agreement however, and therefore employers must offer on-the-job training in return.
WORKER STATUS Internship programmes have received some bad press previously, and this has been due to some high profile employment tribunal cases. If an intern has been given a job to do, where they are mainly unsupervised, and not continually developing their skills, they may successfully argue worker status. This could result in them taking legal action against the company, where recent successful claims have meant the
employer has had to make a backdated payment for every hour worked at the current minimum wage rate (£6.50 per hour for over 21’s). Interns have six years in which to bring such a claim through the tribunal services.
ASSESSING THE INTERN There are no hard and fast rules about how the training should be provided, or assessed. However, there are some general rules of thumb that employers should endeavour to establish. Ensure you have an adequate intern agreement, which sets out the guidance regarding the relationship between the two parties and, most importantly, provides the intern with an avenue to follow if they feel they are not getting the training you promised. Meet regularly with the intern. It is advisable to meet at the end of the week (every week) and discuss what they have undertaken and learnt so far, and what you are planning to give them the following week as well. Also, don’t promise an intern a position at the end of the placement. You may have ambitions to plan ahead, and might wish to recruit your best interns, but they should not expect this. Remember, they are doing an internship to improve their skills, not necessarily to get a job from you.
Internal affairs Are you providing your intern with valuable experience, or are you merely exploiting free labour? Richard Cummings reveals all
PAID OR UNPAID You can pay interns if you wish, or not at all. You may elect to pay for expenses and other living costs, but a true intern is not bound by minimum wage regulations. Don’t be put off. I have a whole host of clients who run successful intern programmes. They benefit from the additional labour, and the interns benefit from an excellent training scheme, and many of them do end up being employed due to their drive and commitment.
LIFESTYLE We love...
We love... printing
Start 2015 the right way by winning one of these amazing printers for your business. To be in with a chance of winning, simply visit our website, www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk, and look out for the competition details. You can also keep up to date with all of our news, views and competitions on Twitter @TalkBusinessmag.
The lifeblood of any business, creating everything from invoices to ‘out of order’ signs on that pesky coffee maker, printers make the business world go round. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the best on the market for your company, no matter what your budget
CANON MAXIFY MB5350
RICOH AFICIO SG 2100N
OKI A4 MC362DN
A powerful all-in-one from one of the biggest names in office and home technology. Perfect for the most demanding small office environments, it features smartphone usage controls, and cloud connectivity. Not only will it look great in the office, with speeds of up to 23-pages per minute, it is fast and efficient whilst printing to a high standard - vital for when you have customers waiting. Additionally, for the cost-conscious, you can print up to a whopping 1,500 colour or 2,500 mono pages from each of its XL cartridges. This gives great economy at a time when every penny counts for a growing business. Price: £319.99 Available from: www.canon.co.uk
With a print speed of 29-pages per minute, and a 250-page capacity, the Aficio SG 2100n from Ricoh, allows you to print all of those vital jobs in quick succession. The fast-drying liquid gel technology, which reduces the risk of smudges associated with wet ink, also means that you get sharp image quality on plain paper every time, without additional wastage, which can lead to lower costs. You’ll find it hard to get such a good performance from such an inexpensive printer anywhere else on the market, and it is perfect for both home and office. Price: £45 Available from: www.viking-direct.co.uk
Perfect for the small or medium business, the MC362dn is a versitile multifunction printer which delivers a high level of productivity alongside low running costs. With outstanding features to support your business needs such as Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print compatibility, automatic RADF and double-sided printing and easy to use menus and controls, it also benefits from a free 3 year on-site warranty for complete peace of mind. Price: £477.55 Available from: www.pcworldbusiness.co.uk
LIFESTYLE Hotspots - London
Hotspots This month we explore some of the best places to eat, greet, and lay your head in our nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capital - London
MEET AND EAT GOUCHO SLOANE Where? Sloane Avenue, London Why? When describing the experience of Goucho Sloane, it almost feels as though words alone will not do it justice. An indulgent experience in how the other half lives, this Argentinean-themed restaurant is not a cheap knock-off attempt at South American culture. They truly do believe in bringing the Latin spirit into every mouthful. With a succulent array of steaks, in the finest cuts, sourced from Argentina itself - certainly one of the highlights of a delicious menu - along with the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best wines (many from their very own vineyards in the heart of the country), it really is an authentic experience that will leave you wanting to go back for more. Perhaps one of the biggest delights of Goucho is the seemingly limitless knowledge of the staff when it comes to the menu. All staff are required to attend a training course to learn about the company and its offerings, and it truly shows. Whatever your choice of meal, they can pair it perfectly with a wine that suits sublimely, and for those of you with a lessthan-extensive knowledge of Latin American cuisine (guilty as charged!), they can help you work your way through the wide-ranging menu. The chic decor, with cowskin-backed seats and dimmed mood lighting, adds to the atmosphere of relaxed, fine dining, and simply enhances this truly decadent establishment. Although it may stretch the budget, it is worth every penny! Contact: www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk
92 December 2014
LIFESTYLE Hotpots - London
AWAY ON BUSINESS 17 TEMPLETON PLACE
EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS OLYMPIA Where? Kensington, London Why? Forget the 02 or ExCeL, Olympia in Kensington is probably one of the best venues for events and exhibitions in the country, not just the capital. With a capacity of 10,000 in Olympia Grand, you’ll often find an array of exhibitions and trade shows on offer throughout the year, including The Business Show, and the BBC Good Food Show. Additionally, there are a number of other rooms for hosting events and entertaining clients, to suit almost any need. The Olympia Conference Centre can seat 449 people for talks, lectures and presentations, whilst the grandiose Pillar Hall features ornate Corinthian Pillars and is the perfect setting for a high-class drinks meet and greet. Contact: www.olympia.co.uk
Where? Earl’s Court, London Why? When you’re on business in an unfamiliar city, nothing quite reinforces the feeling of being away from home like visiting faceless hotel room after faceless hotel room. But that’s where 17 Templeton Place, from SuperCity Aparthotels, comes in. If you’re going to be staying a while in London, Templeton Place is a self-sufficient, fully-equipped apartment, that you can make feel like home, rather than a stuffy hotel room. There is a coffee machine, washer/dryer, oven with hob, and a full complement of plates, glasses, and cutlery in each apartment, as well as a large living room equipped with widescreen TV, office desk, kitchen table, and comfy sofas. The decor itself is modern and edgy, with contemporary slogans adorning the walls, and bold, bright blocks of colour hinted at throughout. The quality of finish competes with the best hotels in the area, and the bathroom, with both bath and shower, is of a similar high standard. Perhaps best of all, the apartment is conveniently located to be your perfect base for operations around the Capital. Just a few minutes’ walk from Earl’s Court underground station, you are just moments away from accessing all London has to offer. Down the road is Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, and Olympia Exhibition Centre is in the neighbouring borough of Kensington. It is also not far from Kensington Palace and The Natural History Museum, should you wish to indulge in a little culture during your time in London. Contact: www.supercityuk.com
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LIFESTYLE Christmas drinks guide
A very merry Christmas
L-R: Anno Elderflower & Vodka, Herbert Hall Brut English Sparkling Wine, Raisthorpe Manor Damson Port Liquer, Balblair Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, Chinalife Teas selection
Impress your staff and clients by gifting these amazing tipples from British producers
t’s so hard to choose a quality gift for staff and clients that shows you’ve put thought into it, but without breaking the bank. That’s why we’ve put together this selection of some of the finest, lesser-known, but still excellent, boutique beverages that would make great gifts this Christmas. Not only that, but we’re also championing the best of British with each of these offerings. Rule Britannia! Before dinner: ANNO ELDERFLOWER & VODKA, £32.50 www.annodistillers.co.uk @annodistillers Hot on the heels of its awardwinning gin comes this fantastic tipple from Kent-based Anno Distillers. This wonderfully fresh spirit has an exceptionally aromatic bouquet on the nose, and a delightful smoothness in the mouth. It is perfect on its own, or superb when mixed with Prosecco or sparkling wine to give an exciting edge to the Christmas day feast. During dinner: HERBERT HALL BRUT ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE, £28 www.herberthall.com @EnglishVigneron No Christmas dinner would be complete without a bit of bubbly, and this excellent offering
from Herbert Hall in Kent, is the perfect complement to any special occasion. Described as one of the “Top Ten Sparkling Wines of the World” by the Wall Street Journal, the Brut is a quintessential English treat. With dessert: RAISTHORPE MANOR DAMSON PORT LIQUEUR, £16.45 shop.raisthorpemanor.com @raisthorpemanor Awarded three stars by the Great Taste Awards 2014, this damson port is handmade in North Yorkshire. The palate is fabulous - pure, clear, simple in the sense of having great fruity clarity, yet complex from the hint of the fruit stone. Damson port is the perfect after dinner drink, or a great companion to any cheese board. As a nightcap: BALBLAIR HIGHLAND SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKY 2003, £42 www.balblair.com @Balblairwhisky No Christmas would be complete without a good whisky on the rocks. Perfect for an evening unwinding in your favourite chair after a heavy dinner, Balblair Vintage 2003 is fused with floral notes and hints of citrus fruits, apricots, and honey; it is a full bodied and well balanced whisky
that combines orange, lemon, honey and spice. For the morning after: CHINALIFE TEA MASTER SIGNATURE TEA SELECTION, £44.95 www.chinalifeweb.com @chinalife_uk For the client or staff member that doesn’t drink, this quaint and mystical set of teas from Chinalife is the perfect gift. Not only can they get a taste of the Orient, but they’ll also learn about some of the fantastic ways in which people have been making tea for years. From Oolong to Silver Needle, they’ve got almost every delightful taste covered. Okay, so it is hardly British, but at the end of the day, what is more British than enjoying a good cup of tea?
one of these great drinks! As a special Christmas treat, we’re giving away these drinks to our fabulous readers. To win, simply follow us @TalkBusinessmag, and the company that makes the beverage you’d like to win, and then tweet us the name of the drink. So for example, if you’d like to win the Anno Elderflower and Vodka, just follow @TalkBusinessmag and @AnnoDistillers, and then tweet us with something like “@TalkBusinessmag I want to win @AnnoDistillers Elderflower & Vodka”.
LIFESTYLE Office escapes
Countdown to new experiences Forego the usual tired old fireworks and TV specials, and experience what the rest of the world has to offer in the way of exotic New Year celebrations
o, the treeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been up that long its gathering dust, the wheelie bin is overflowing with wrapping paper, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve polished off the last of the Quality Street (other chocolates are available) as you prepare for another New Year with your friends and family. How do you fancy trying something different this December, and spending New Year like you have never done before?
96 December 2014
LIFESTYLE Office escapes
As the clock strikes 12, the beach is the place to be. Why not take a midnight dip in the Atlantic Ocean? You won’t be alone either, as the sea fills with like-minded party-goers
SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT
FLIGHT TIME: SIX HOURS
FLIGHT TIME: TWO HOURS AND 30 MINUTES
FLIGHT TIME: THREE HOURS AND 50 MINUTES If it’s not sun you’re after this New Year, then Reykjavik is a must. Wrap up warm for this destination - after all, you are in Iceland. With Father Christmas packed up for another year, it’s time to bring the New Year in with a bang. Most hotels offer a gala meal to start the evening’s festivities off, or if you want to see what Reykjavik has to offer, then why not dine at one of the countless restaurants? But of course, no trip to Iceland is complete without a search for the elusive Northern Lights. This magical natural light spectacle will leave you speechless as you toast the New Year in true Icelandic style, ‘Hamingjusamur Nýtt Ár!’
With an average temperature of 23°C, this is one place where you can swap your winter woollies for your favourite swimwear. Imagine spending New Year’s Eve snorkelling in the warm Red Sea instead of rushing around grabbing the last of the nibbles for your New Year buffet. Hotels in Sharm really push the boat out, and offer gala meals and live entertainment. Or, if you prefer to venture further than the hotel walls, head down to the award-winning SOHO Square. Here you’ll find chic bars, cafés and restaurants filled with top-class entertainment. And when the clock strikes 12, get ready to shout ‘Kul ‘am waantumbikhair!’ (assuming you’re still sober enough to do so).
If you love a spot of golf, then the Algarve is worth a visit. With 80 golf courses,you won’t be disappointed. Or, how about a jeep safari through the picturesque Portuguese countryside to discover the country’s hidden gems before you prepare for a night of New Year festivities? Although not as warm as Egypt, the climate is welcoming, and there certainly isn’t a snowflake in sight. As the clock strikes 12, the beach is the place to be. Packed with revellers bringing in the New Year, why not make this year one to remember and take a midnight dip in the Atlantic Ocean? You won’t be alone either, as the sea fills with like-minded party-goers. And if that’s not enough, sit back and watch the entire coast come alive with fireworks lighting up the evening skies. ‘Feliz ano novo!’, as the locals would say.
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LIFESTYLE Fun Christmas Fashion
’Tis the season of goodwill and questionable fashion choices, so we’re bringing you these amazing Christmassy clothing options and accessories to make sure you’re in the spirit for the office party TESCO F&F SANTA SNOW SCENE & HOW TO GROW A SANTA BEARD TIES
TOPMAN CHRISTMAS ELF & SANTA SOCKS £3 per pair Even if your Christmas party is a formal affair, you can add a little fun with jolly toe warmers from Topman. They’d even make a great tongue-in-cheek gift for employees, with Santas’ for your managers and elves for other staff. www.topman.com
£3 per pair These two festive ties from Tesco’s F&F clothing range are not only budget friendly at just £3, but also bring a whimsical touch to any formal Christmas party. www.clothingattesco.com
All I want for Christmas
ETSY REINDEER CUFFLINKS NEXT HO HO HO JUMPER £26 No end of year party would be complete without the obligatory Christmas jumper. Get in the spirit of things with this fun, yet still tasteful, offering from Next. www.next.co.uk
£11.48 These classic cufflinks add the perfect touch of magic and wonder to any shirt sleeve. Available in bronze or silver. www.etsy.com
THE CHRISTMAS SHIRT CO. PENGUIN PALS SHIRT £28 Want to be the centre of attention at the party? With the penguin theme on trend in this year’s TV adverts, this festive, but rather eye-catching, number from The Christmas Shirt Co should ensure that you’re the talking point of the evening. www.christmasshirts.com
TECHNOLOGY How to pick a home in the cloud
he phenomenal growth in cloud-based service delivery is changing data centre requirements. For any SME looking for a data centre to support this critical new business model, issues such as resilience of connectivity and power, as well as security, are critical. While every cloud clearly needs a home, it cannot be just any home. Here are my five keys to finding the right cloud:
LOCATION It’s not just about avoiding the flood plain or flight path. SMEs should also consider the time it takes engineers to travel to and from the data centre. From adding new customer equipment, to the need to ensure any issues are immediately addressed, the speed with which engineers can reach the data centre is crucial.
With many SMEs and start-ups looking to grow their business, it’s essential to look for a home that offers flexibility. For example, can the data centre run high density and low density racks side by side? Without this, an organisation might struggle to adapt without the upheaval of moving, when the time comes to scale up.
CONNECTIVITY Cisco estimates that by 2017, global cloud traffic will reach 5.3 zettabytes (one zettabyte of data is the equivalent to the information stored on around 250 billion DVDs). In this environment, the issue is not only the reliability of the connectivity, but also latency. The ability to offer transmission time in nanoseconds fundamentally transforms the quality and type of solutions that can be offered. In terms of resilience, every data centre offers multiple Tier 2 carrier options. Few, however, are able to offer multiple Tier 1 carriers. This means that the connectivity is still reliant on a single fibre provider typically BT. Without diverse fibre connections, the back-up options are limited: any damage to the underlying cable network - for example, during road works - will take out every Tier 2 connection using the same last mile from BT. SMEs should look for a data centre with multiple Tier 1 carrier options, as well as Tier 2 carrier services, in order to achieve full resilience.
POWER SUPPLY All data centres can be expected to have a dual power supply from the grid, but how many in London can offer dedicated 33kv transformers? Most urban data centres are limited to 11kv tapped into one
Don't cloud your vision Matthew Dent, CEO of Volta Data Centres, shares his top tips for finding the right home in the cloud
main grid substation. If that goes out, they will lose both A and B grid feeds. A data centre should take dual feeds from different substations to provide true resilience. By 2017, global cloud traffic will reach 5.3 zettabytes (one zettabyte of data is the equivalent to the information stored on around 250 billion DVDs)
SECURITY From a bomb-proof building to multiple levels of access security to the building, a depth of security facilities is key to support the changing threat risk. Given concerns regarding the data security in the cloud, it’s essential SMEs are highly confident in the procedures in place. Moving to the cloud is a business critical decision, and organisations should be continually looking for more from providers. Isn’t it time to unlock the right home for your cloud? Contact: www.voltadatacentres.com
TECHNOLOGY How much to develop an app?
Will it make you ‘appy? Jason Gaved, managing director of mobile app developer, Lexel, looks at whether you really need an app, and how much you should expect to pay for one
aving a mobile presence is crucial for the vast majority of today’s small businesses, especially as the way people access the internet while on the go is changing all the time. A recent survey by app analytics provider, Flurry revealed that mobile web surfing has declined in 2014, while mobile app usage has increased. So how can small business owners, who aren’t blessed with the coding gene, or don’t have the inclination to learn how to programme, create a custom app for their company? Generally speaking, they’ll hire an app company who’ll build it for them. Whether you’re building an app in house or outsourcing the job, here are the most important questions any business owner must ask themselves before taking the plunge and spending money on creating an app:
DOES YOUR COMPANY REALLY NEED TO BE MOBILE-BASED? If your app doesn’t take advantage of smartphone
functionality, it probably isn’t worth the investment. So for example, if it doesn’t use ‘native’ mobile features, such as the camera, GPS, or ‘PUSH’ notifications, it will probably be rejected by Apple. Native features are the basic functions of a smartphone - so if an app doesn’t incorporate these, there isn’t a lot of point creating it, and Apple won’t see the point in approving it. Often, small businesses apply for apps to be created when all they really need is a mobileoptimised website to increase their mobile presence. Apps are only needed if you want to provide unique functions or content that a mobile website can’t offer.
HOW MUCH DATA ARE YOU SENDING AND RECEIVING THROUGH THIS APP? If the point of your app is to send and receive huge quantities of information, it will work far more efficiently than a mobile website, as it doesn’t rely nearly as heavily on the internet. On the other hand, if you plan on making frequent
Are you an established enough brand that people will search for your app? If not, you cannot expect a huge volume of downloads
updates, it might be best to stay clear of app technology. Updating an app can be a laborious process, as these have to go through the approval process of the App Store. If the point of your mobile presence is so your users can access the most recent information, a mobile website will suffice.
ARE YOU TRYING TO RAISE YOUR WEB PRESENCE AND BOOST YOUR SEO? Do you want to drive traffic to your site and increase visibility among search engines? If so, stick with a mobile website. Apps are part of a closed environment, and won’t directly affect your search ratings. Mobile websites are much more ‘findable’ because their pages can be displayed in search results.
TECHNOLOGY How much to develop an app?
This comes back to a key factor - are you an established enough brand that people will search for your app? If not, you cannot expect a huge volume of downloads. And so another reason not to invest in one, potentially. ‘Share-ability’ is another factor to consider. Most website URLs are easily shared between users via a link. An app cannot be shared in this way. If your aim as a small business is to spread company news, or sale offers, a strong social media following on Facebook or Twitter may be a better investment of time. If you wish to create an individualised experience for regular, niche users, then the app is a logical next step. Because mobile apps are always connected to the user’s device, there are more opportunities to tailor the experience, with the app storing an individual’s information. On the other hand, if you are still in the stages
of promoting your brand to as many users as possible, it makes more sense to channel your effort (and funds) into a strong brand mobile website.
HOW MUCH DO I EXPECT TO PAY? Broadly speaking, mobile or responsive design costs less to create as it’s quicker to develop, and only needs one code base to work across all devices. Between £6,000 and £10,000 will get you a basic app, which uses native features in the simplest way (e.g. an app which allows you to take and submit a photo). Going up to between £10,000 and £15,000 would buy you a more complicated app, which connects to different services and phone features, such as GPS, and your handset’s camera. Essentially, the more phone functions it integrates, and services it links these to,
the more expensive the app’s development. For example, an app which allows you to upload an image of a car number plate, recognise the number plate, and contact the DVLA to get the car’s details, allowing the app owner to store information on the driver, would cost upwards of £15,000. The more data being sent back and forth, the higher the price tag. The decision to invest in an app purely because apps are all the rage is a bad one - and a bandwagon that too many small businesses are jumping on. If the point of your app is to boost following and SEO, this can often be an expensive waste of time. But if the point of your app is to provide a service through the actual functions of the phone - often for an established or niche following - it might be the best investment you ever make. Contact: www.lexel.co.uk
The decision to invest in an app purely because apps are all the rage is a bad one - and a bandwagon that too many small businesses are jumping on
104 December 2014
Are you looking for a beautifully built mobile application? Well you’ve found the right agency. Lexel is an established digital agency based in Brighton and London specialising in Mobile App Development. Have you got a project? Why not give us a ring.
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TECHNOLOGY Ortis Deeley
Each month we give Ortis Deley, from Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, a gorgeous piece of tech to test drive. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, he’ll give you the lowdown on the best gadgets money can buy MOTOROLA MOTO X SMARTPHONE PRICE: £420.00 AVAILABLE FROM MOST MOBILE OPERATORS AND STOCKISTS
Gentle prompts during set up and initial use made the phone feel more like a little friend than a phone
’d only just recently made up my mind what my new phone was going to be, and had received it a day before the Moto X 2014 arrived, so I was nervously excited to get hands on with Motorola’s tweaked unit (earlier this year saw the release of the ‘X’), and see what the fuss was about. Though excited, I was secretly hoping I hadn’t made the wrong choice. I’d looked at the new iPhone 6, the award-winning HTC One (M8) and the lauded Sony Xperia Z3. In terms of what’s under the hood, the leading handsets all pack comparable tech with similar specs. Final choice usually comes down to cost, design, and brand loyalties, among other personal preferences. So, now that the 2014 version can enter the ring with the heavyweights on specs, what
has Motorola done to distinguish its unit from the rest? Well, in the hand, the heft and feel reminded of the HTC One (M8): a nice metal, premium finish - customisable with leather or bamboo, if desired. It feels comfortable, with no real issues, reaching the far corners of the overly vibrant 5.2 inch AMOLED screen. The recessed ‘M’ dimple on the back, which acts as an anchor for your finger, is a nice touch. I find nano-sims fiddly, and don’t like that the handset lacks an expansion slot (you’re stuck with 16Gb or 32Gb), but at around £420, it’s cheaper
than its immediate rivals, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3. It is essentially a stock Android handset with frills, but what frills! Just waving over the handset partially wakes up the display, giving you an option to wake it up fully, or just have a preview of what’s occurred. This is great for checking the time without having to pick up the unit and/ or swipe/double-tap the screen. This same wave can silence an incoming call too, which is always helpful. Gentle prompts during set up and initial use made the phone feel more like a little friend than
106 December 2014
TECHNOLOGY Ortis Deeley
a phone. This included tips on customising Moto Voice, which works like, and with Google Now (and also launches some apps); using various ‘Assist’ modes (such as ‘Sleeping’ - which silences the phone between preset night-time hours), and; a highly entertaining, interactive animation. It all felt politely done and not too invasive. The camera is decent enough, though I didn’t like the layout, there weren’t enough modes for me, and the front-facing camera struggled in low light. Video options include slow motion at 120fps and Ultra HD at 30fps.
I didn’t pack the unit with battery draining apps, but I did stream content and use it as a tether for a few hours, and I had a very long phone call to BT (don’t ask!). I got a good day’s use from it, before plugging it in. It’s worth noting that, although the phone is aware at all times, this aspect of its energy demand on the battery is low, due to its utilisation of a co-processor (for low energy events), and the AMOLED screen, which doesn’t need lighting up in its entirety to bring up the time or a few specialist icons.
VERDICT: The Motorola X 2014 has a lot of features similar to other phones, but they’ve succeeded in packaging them in a friendly, easy to utilise way. The award for interfacing definitely goes to the Moto X. I love that the Moto X felt as though it had more personality than most phones I’ve had, and is a complete workhorse. So do I regret my purchase? Ask me again when lollipop arrives.
Do you have a product that you would like Ortis to review? Get in touch at email@example.com
on all print using this code: FDM-X5PYW
You do the business, we do the print. www.instantprint.co.uk
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TECHNOLOGY BOYD print revolution
Is printing the forgotten victim of the mobile revolution? Andrew Hall of Oki Systems UK, discusses how BYOD is driving mobile print apps
ebates about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon usually focus on either security worries, or how to divide up the bill between personal and business calls. However, in all these discussions, one aspect of the BYOD trend has been forgotten - the impact of increased mobile working on our need to print hard copy paper documents. Is printing a victim of the mobile revolution? According to Microsoft, 67% of us now use our personal devices at work. Also, 42% of companies now have a BYOD policy, which addresses the security and financial issues surrounding their use for business purposes. But whether we are talking BYOD or not, in many jobs, smartphones and tablets are becoming more prevalent in the office than laptops and PCs. Analyst firm, IDC even predicts that tablets will outsell laptops this year. A survey carried out by Oki Systems UK showed that employees are now expecting to be able to connect to office
printers from their own smartphones and tablets. Of the 24% of respondents who brought their own phones and tablets into the office, a substantial 45% print from these devices to the office printer. But often thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a need to print on the nearest device when visiting a client ,or generally when on the move. So how does this work? Cloud or mobile printing works by connecting to a network, wireless, or web-enabled printer through a smartphone or tablet, allowing you to print remotely, anywhere without having to connect directly to a printing device. Today, increasing volumes of multi-function colour printers are Google Cloud Print ready. Users can wirelessly print documents to cloudconnected printers from any mobile phone, laptop, tablet, PC, or other web-connected device. They can also connect to traditional printers plugged into a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer with internet access, using the Google Cloud Print connector in Google Chrome.
Also, mobile print apps enabling direct printing from mobile devices running on Android, are now coming on stream - and allowing users to bypass the cloud. iPhone, iPad or iPod users can take advantage of Appleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s AirPrint, as it is embedded natively in these devices. This means that, instead of having to transfer a document to the app itself, users can print directly from wherever the document or image is stored. Icons within the device will inform them whether there are any AirPrintenabled printers in the vicinity. Other apps, which enable mobile printing from nonApple devices include Cortado Workplace and E-print, which enables printing via a website that will find nearby wireless printers. It seems certain that mobile printing will gain in popularity and, in line with this, many printer vendors will be expanding their range of compatible printers over the next months and years.
Employees are now expecting to be able to connect to office printers from their own smartphones and tablets
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I’ve got an APP for that This month we’re looking at an app that helps tradesmen to produce invoices and more, plus an app to pass the time with childish whimsy when visiting different places for business POWERED NOW
Price: FREE (Premium version available at £4.99 per month) Compatibility: iOS The gist: Whether you’re a plumber, heating technician, builder, electrician, or anyone in the trade really, the issues that come with creating invoices and quotes can be a real pain in the neck. Thanks to Powered Now, you no longer have to worry. It runs on your mobile or tablet, and is great for mobile invoicing, quoting, or managing your customers. No one goes into business because they like paperwork (except maybe accountants), so Powered Now has been designed to save you time. Time normally equals money. That’s why, by allowing you to take payment by credit card or PayPal, with address entry with postcode lookup, easy invoice, quote and worksheet creation and much more, you can now throw aside the mounds of paperwork, and take your weekends and evenings back, while being more efficient and professional when on the job. Downloadable from: www.powerednow.com
Price: FREE Compatibility: iOS The gist: Ever been in another city, somewhere unfamiliar, and had a few hours to pass before your next meeting? With Sighter you can relive the fun of childhood with this cool ‘find and seek’ photo treasure hunt app. Across hundreds of UK cities (and some foreign ones too), users have submitted photos of interesting locations and all you have to do is find them. Choose your city, select a land-mark to search for, and then the app will give you handy ‘hot or cold’ signals to tell you how close you are. Is it a tad juvenile? Yes. Is it tons of fun? Certainly! But not only will you have fun, you’ll get to explore incredible and interesting sights of a city off the beaten track, that only the locals generally visit. Downloadable from: www.sightergame.com
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Why buy a coffee franchise? Coffee is big business: 800,000 people in Britain buy coffee at least 4 times a week It makes lots of money: Total turnover for this sector reached £5.8bn in 2012 And it’s growing: Analysts predict that the chain market will grow at least 6% by 2017, hitting 7,000 outlets and £3.7bn in sales revenue.
Visit FranchiseSales.com to find out more about buying a coffee franchise – and more!
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FRANCHISE Franchise news
NE W S Caremark franchisee scoops second major award in two months
Bardon Group CEO, Nigel Toplis recognised by local and trade media The former bfa chairman has been named in two 2014 rankings of prominent UK people
igel Toplis, CEO of The Bardon Group, former bfa chairman, and occassional contributor to Talk Business magazine, has been named in two 2014 rankings of prominent people: The Leicester Mercury’s ‘Most Influential People in Leicestershire’; and Print Week’s Power 100. The Leicester Mercury recently provided a list of the 200 most influential people in the county, which included key people in business, politics, public services, the charity sector, and religion. Ian Griffin, Mercury business editor, said: “While some of the entries, such as bosses of major companies and leading politicians, will come as no surprise, the list also includes people who are less known, but have a major influence in their chosen field.” Toplis’ successful reversal of Kall Kwik’s fortunes after it fell into administration, earned him a place as a new entrant to Print Week’s Power 100, ranked 89th. He acquired the firm in 2012, having previously been its managing director until 2002. Contact: www.thebfa.org
Twice as nice for home care franchisee
ynda Goldsmith, national training manager with home care franchisor, Caremark Limited, has been recognised as ‘Most Outstanding Healthcare Executive in the UK 2014’, for her contribution to the training, learning, and education of home care workers. It’s the second major award that Lynda has scooped within the last two months for her work in training and development of home care staff within the domiciliary care industry, after she was honoured by
NASHiCS in September. Receiving her award from Esmonde Crawley, international speaker for the UK Over 50s Housing Awards, Lynda said: “I am really delighted to receive such an important award, which gives the recognition to Caremark for our outstanding training, learning, and service delivery. My inspiration comes from all our wonderful care workers, who provide such fantastic care and support to older and vulnerable people.” Contact: www.caremark.co.uk
Franchise solicitors in gruelling charity triathlon 36km event hopes to raise money for cancer charity
hree members of the franchise team at bfa-accredited Owen White Solicitors are taking part in a gruelling offroad triathlon on Saturday 6 December 2014 in Camberley, Surrey, to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The team, made up of directors, Andrew Hayward and Russell Ford, and associate, William Anderson, will be running for 10km, riding for 25km, and kayaking for 1km, around Hawley Lake in Surrey in chilly December temperatures. “We’re all delighted to be taking part in this event, albeit slightly nervously, as we spend far more time at our desks and in Court, working on legal franchise issues, than we do kayaking, cycling or running. However, it’s for a good cause and will be fun to compete as a team,” said Andrew. Contact: If you would like to support the team in their charitable venture, please visit their Virgin ‘Just Giving’ page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Owenwhitesolicitors
FRANCHISE Making your franchise stand out at exhibitions
ADVERTISE IN ADVANCE
Stand out from the crowd How can you interest potential franchisees in your offering at exhibitions? Nickey Tatley from Dynamis takes a look at the challenges franchisors face
aking your franchise brand to an exhibition provides a unique forum from which to promote your opportunity and find excellent potential franchisees. For that reason, and to some extent because the process also incurs costs, it’s never enough to settle for a neutral encounter
where your brand image is merely ranked alongside that of its rivals. Success is generally the result of careful preparation in two key areas: confidently answering the range of questions prospective franchisees will ask, and presenting your franchise in a way which will particularly appeal to the type of investors you wish to attract.
Before the event, do as much as you can to ensure that the right sort of people will turn up. Seasoned PR and marketing consultant, Norman Grossman, whose clients include the highly successful cost management franchise, Auditel, strongly advocates the importance of advance publicity. “Before the exhibition, add the event to your own website, and ask rented websites to do the same on your profile page. Circulate a news release to go to rented websites and magazines, and add to your own website blog. Notify the event on your existing database, and provide a link to the show website so that tickets may be ordered,” he says.
PREPARE AND PREDICT Your aspiring candidates are likely to be well informed, eager to research and sample a range of franchise options, and keen to hear your answers to questions such as: • What is the total investment required? • Does the deal include sources of financing? • What are the anticipated earnings? • Is this a full-time working commitment, or is remote ownership acceptable? • At what point will the operation move into profit and produce a positive cash flow? • How happy are your existing franchise operators? • Can you outline the projected growth strategy for the franchise as a whole? • Does this franchise opportunity include a protected territory? Being able to answer such questions quickly and informatively will create a favourable impression.
114 December 2014
FRANCHISE Making your franchise stand out at exhibitions
In explaining the franchise benefits, your responses should show a clear understanding of the potential franchisee’s perspective. The ability to customise the franchise information to reflect the individual concerns of each interested candidate will strongly influence the likelihood of a positive outcome.
BE SHARP AND SIMPLE Nigel Toplis, a franchise expo veteran and managing director of the award-winning Bardon Group, has plenty of advice for franchisors seeking to attract and engage would-be franchisees attending exhibitions. “Remember, the vast proportion of attendees at shows are there to get ideas, pick up information, and find out more - very few are at the stage of making a decision. You and your stand are key to attracting attention. I’m a great believer in ‘less is more’. Most people are walking, not standing around, so you need to catch their attention quickly. Make the stand bright, with only one or two messages, and ensure staff are well turned out, wearing a uniform and/or badges,” explained Nigel. Nigel also advocates ‘bold branding and sharp concise messages’, and relaying positives, such as ‘multiple income streams’, any awards and ‘excellent and reputed ongoing support’. You should also make sure that you take staff who are thoroughly familiar with the franchise ,and what it offers, so that conversations flow easily.
PROVIDE PAPERWORK A simple, uncluttered fact sheet will help to summarise and reinforce the core elements of the franchise opportunity, supply
answers to the most common questions, and provide a means of ensuring your essential messages are given due prominence. Furnishing some information in advance can also free up time for a useful, and far more valuable, two-way conversation. For interested attendees with real potential and a desire to move forward, a carefully prepared, factual prospectus or franchise disclosure document with substantive financial projections will do much to promote confidence between potential partners. Such information is a legal requirement in many countries beyond the UK, and helps candidates to understand financial trajectories, and thus formulate a practical business plan.
PITCH PERFECT There is always a delicate balance to be struck between a sale and a selection process, and pitching this correctly is vital for maintaining brand integrity. Alex Waite, of the Dream Doors franchise, believes that a more considered approach is the best way to find the right franchisee. “It certainly pays to stand out,” he says, “but we’ve never been a company that just grabs people. We want to meet serious and like-minded investors, who want to be part of our brand. Most of those people have done their research before even coming to the exhibition. Our approach is more subtle than some franchisors, who employ
For interested attendees with real potential and a desire to move forward, a carefully prepared, factual prospectus or franchise disclosure document with substantive financial projections will promote confidence between potential partners
BRING BRAND CHAMPIONS For potential candidates, the opportunity to discuss the franchise scheme with a successful franchisee is usually the ultimate brand endorsement. Hearing the real life experience of a fellow entrepreneur who has already made the journey can add the kind of authentication, which even the most professional presentations cannot match. Similarly, if your company scheme has major strengths, such as training or mentor support, key staff from those sectors, who are involved in the implementation of such programmes, are also likely to prove your most effective and convincing ambassadors.
actors, dress their staff up in costumes, or even use scantily clad women to hand out flyers!” It is important to set the tone carefully at exhibitions too. Avoid overselling your brand, and make all potential franchisees aware you plan to select only the best candidates to join your elite franchise. Remember, successfully exhibiting your franchise can never be left to chance. Achieving the franchise-sales outcome you seek requires detailed planning, a nuanced sales pitch, and a targeted follow up to convert gold standard prospects into substantial franchise development.
For potential candidates, the opportunity to discuss the franchise scheme with a successful franchisee is usually the ultimate brand endorsement
SPONSORED ARTICLE SPONSORED ARTICLE
Unprecedented Success For Thames Valley Expo
From ShipYard to ZipYards
here is a latent desire in British people, particularly in unsettled times, to create jobs rather than tackle the employment market from the outside. Franchising gives people the opportunity to work for themselves, reducing the risk but at the same time it brings all the benefits of running your own business. It also acts as a springboard into markets and alleviates the laborious aspects of disrupting them; probably one of the most daunting prospects of going at it alone. Nigel Toplis, Managing Director of The Bardon Group, says: “Where you have a good franchise system, you really
have a marriage, whereby you have a proven business system, collateral, support and training from the franchisor, and you have the dynamism, the ambition, the drive and the skillset of the franchisee. “Put them together and you really have a husband and wife; two people with two distinct set of skills, but one distinct objective.” ZipYard is one such success story. After a botched tailoring job, two entrepreneurs saw a gap in the market and used an empty shop opposite Belfast ship yard to set up their own business, which duly inspired the name. “From there they decided to franchise the concept in
Northern Ireland, then master licence in Southern Ireland and then we took the Master Licence from them to run Great Britain and we started trading in 2011,” Toplis says. ‘ZipYard has an ‘open kitchen’ approach, in that the store is open plan and workers are very much out in the open, rather than confined in a back room. There is also fitting rooms on site and an automated processing service, where the garment are tracked by barcode throughout the process and a text message is delivered to the customer upon completion’. Toplis believes it has “professionalised the industry”, adding an extra element of
SPONSORED SPONSOREDARTICLE ARTICLE
Experienced in Sales and marketing, Graeme Mulheron took the decision to buy the ZipYard franchise for Bedford in summer 2014 and hasn’t looked back since. By the time local Mayor Dave Hodgson unzipped a six foot giant zip to declare the specialist garment alterations and repair centre officially open, the business was trading at almost full capacity and recruitment was underway to add a third seamstress to the team. Graeme is no stranger to the franchising business model. authority to an already He was previously an award talented workforce. winning Cash Generator owner “We’ve very much made it running multiple branches. a professional, open, high “The time was right to move street operation,” Toplis adds, on and give my career a new which explains growth of 15 direction. I was proud of the new centres in the last two #TVExpo Cash Generator businesses that years and an expectation of I had built up. but as a marketer, getting 50 Centres open I am always on the look out for within three years. innovative ideas and the ZipYard model ticked all of the boxes.” Richard McConnell opened www.thamesvalleyexpo.co.uk The Bedford ZipYard is ideally The ZipYard in Altrincham located in the town centre and in September 2011 and in 2013 was a finalist in the bfa Franchise of the Year awards At the time of writing there – having won numerous local are 16 ZipYard Centres in the business accolades. UK and a plan to have 50 within From a turnover of £174,000 three years. ZipYard Centres in his first year to £270,000 carry distinctive yellow and plus in his second, growth has black branding and offer a top been exceptional and such quality garment alterations has been the progress of the and repairs to members of the business that this one-time public as well as local retailers, driving instructor has opened businesses with uniformed staff, a second Centre (Wilmslow) – hire and bridal shops and even which is also doing very well. schools in a clean and purpose
within days of opening its doors, customers began flocking in. He said: “ I had read about the ZipYard’s arrival in the UK and was vaguely interested, but it wasn’t until I had to get a suit altered to go to a business awards dinner that I realised just how much the local area needed a top quality alterations and repair service “I searched high and low for someone to carry out the repair and eventually ended up in the middle of an indoor market at a stall having the alterations pinned in full view of other shoppers’’ It dawned on me that there must be lots of other people out there just like me with clothes needing altered and nowhere to take them so I decided bring the ZipYard to Bedford. “I have been extremely pleased by the success of our ZipYard store so far. As with any business if you can combine excellence in service with excellence of products you @thamesvalleyexp have a winning formula and we certainly have that here at the ZipYard Bedford.” designed retail environment with on-site seamstresses and private changing rooms. Territories are being snapped up fast but there are still opportunities available for the right candidates. Contact: Emma Downes T: 01530 513307 E: email@example.com W: www.thezipyard.co.uk
102 DIRECTNUMBERSPRINT.indd 29
ADVICE The sales doctor
The sales DOCTOR Sales Doctor, Tony Morris, gives advice on how to get past the gatekeeper in any business Dear Sales Doctor, I constantly find myself frustrated by, and unable to get past, the gatekeeper (usually a receptionist) at a business when I’m trying to make a sales call to the decision makers at the company. How can I get around this obstacle?
The amusing thing is these gatekeepers have been trained to stop sales people getting through. Most sales people are under the impression they have to speak to them in a certain way - normally with no respect. This couldn’t be further from the truth, so the first thing is to treat them like a human, ask for their help and they’ll normally - though not always - respond positively. One common objection a gatekeeper may give you is that they have a ‘no name’ policy - meaning if you haven’t got the contact’s name, they can’t put you through. The solution for many of these cases is to type the name of the company into LinkedIn. Here you will find a tab for employees, which provides a few names. If your chosen contact isn’t there, call up and say; “I have spoken to ‘X’ and he/she wasn’t the right person, who would you recommend?” Failing that, here are some great ways to overcome the no name policy:
1 MAKE UP A NAME You: “Good morning. Can I speak to Mike Beard please?” Them: “We don’t have a Mike Beard here.” You: “I have him down as the sales director. Who has taken over his position?”
2 GO ON THEIR WEBSITE There will usually be a name mentioned somewhere in ‘meet the team’, or news pages. It might not be the contact you’re after, but you can use that name when you call back.
3 TIMING IS EVERYTHING If you have the director’s name, but the gatekeeper won’t put you through, call during times the gatekeeper is unlikely to be there (e.g. before 8:45am, between 12:15pm and 1:45pm, or after 5:30pm).
4 JOKE ABOUT THE ‘NO NAME’ RESPONSE This must be done with charm and wit, or you’ll get called a variety of rude names like I have in the past. So, when the gatekeeper says, “I’m afraid it’s a no name policy,”
simply respond with, “I understand that, and sorry, who am I speaking with?” When they reply with their name, say, “I think you may have just broken your policy!” I normally get a curt response and a dead phoneline, but it has worked on occasion.
5 If you have the contact name and the gatekeeper asks, “Are they expecting your call?”, always say, “No, I am returning their call.” Always ask for them by first name too, as this gives the impression you know them personally. With these tips ,you should have no problem getting past that first, and toughest, hurdle, on any sales call. Contact: To develop your sales ability further, check out Coffee’s for Closers and Dear Sales Doctor, written by Tony Morris; director of the Sales Doctor. Find them on his website - www.wedosalestraining. com - under the ‘shop’ page. www.wedosalestraining.com
NEED A DIAGNOSIS? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ’FAO the sales doctor’: editor@talk businessmagazine.co.uk
ADVICE Increase your web traffic
terrific traffic Ryan Walsh, CEO of Ryan C Walsh SEO, looks at how you can implement simple steps to boost your websiteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s traffic
t is a common misconception that, if your website is lagging behind the competition, to outperform them you must invest heavily in search engine optimisation services (SEO). Although this may be the case for competitive keywords, there are plenty of solutions available to a small- to medium-sized business owner to help them to start climbing the ladder within the major search engines, such as Google and Bing. Simple site changes, and using your in-depth understanding of your own business can be
combined into a winning formula that can increase your rankings. Here we shall explore some of the practical and - perhaps most importantly for SMEs with budget restraints - low-cost methods you can easily implement to your website to engage your target audience, and yield more traffic to your website.
THINK TITLE TAGS AND SAVVY KEYWORD PLACEMENT Title tags are vitally important in letting the search engines know the meaning and purpose behind
Title tags are vitally important in letting the search engines know the meaning and purpose behind the content of your website
the content of your website. These are a sacred tool in your arsenal in allowing you to rank for varying keywords and make your mark in those rankings. We always use the example that a business owner currently receiving traffic from a niche geographic area can start to use keyword placement and the correct use of title tags to start receiving traffic from different areas. So, for example, instead of looking at your immediate location for targeted traffic, you could start implementing keywords from neighbouring
ADVICE Increase your web traffic
cities, and therefore start to receive targeted traffic from a wider geographic region.
THINK ABOUT BLOGGING, AND THINK ABOUT WHAT IS SOCIALLY CURRENT You should always use your own blog within your website as a communication medium to spark conversation with your target audience. This tool is vital in attracting traffic to your website and, if utilised correctly, can engage your target audience to a conversion later on down the sales road. What you must be aware of is that, as a small- to mediumsized business owner, you must keep your finger on the pulse as to any marketing opportunities in the news or current media that could be exploited to your advantage. By doing this, you can use any current or topical debate that people have an interest in - and are therefore likely to search the internet for more information about - and weave this into a blog article to help start a conversation with prospective new customers. If this is carried out correctly, it can also be shared and communicated on social media to further enhance the reach of your communication channel. In particular, using popular hashtags about a relevant news story can help extend the reach of your blog posts, and consequently, your website (though be careful not to simply cram any random
hashtag into a Twitter post as this will annoy and disengage genuine users and potential customers). This is not only good for SEO purposes, as content will be current and laced with keywords, but it also makes good business sense as it is a very affordable way of attracting new business.
THINK ABOUT BEING CRITICAL ABOUT YOUR OWN WEBSITE One of the huge bugbears of overcoming poor website design is to reduce what we call the ‘bounce rate’. This is the rate at which visitors to your website leave (or ‘bounce’) without navigating any of your content. To reduce the bounce rate, you quite simply need to engage your target audience more so they are inclined to stay on your website for a longer period of time. We believe the most effective way of reducing the bounce rate is to gain critical opinions from those close to you; friends, family or business associates. Let them cast a critical eye over your website, and be honest if they can see any immediate or glaring issues that need your attention. Receiving criticism from friends or those close to you regarding your online business or website, can give you valuable insight into how others portray your online presence, and can also save you a fortune over approaching a marketing
Receiving criticism from those close to you regarding your website can give you valuable insight into how others portray your online presence
consultant, who will do the same thing but charge you for the privilege.
THINK ABOUT CALLS TO ACTION Many websites and e-commerce shops look impressive, and can really persuade a potential customer to purchase. But there is a common pitfall that website designers fall into on a regular basis. This mistake is that web designers view a website in terms of appearance, and how it looks aesthetically. Instead you must always analyse a website by how it converts prospective customers into sales from a SEO point of view. This may sound like common sense, but often, if you are advertising a product or service, there will be a greater opportunity to place ‘buy now’ buttons or features to ask questions about a product. If you can answer customers’ questions, or allow them to purchase a product in an easier way through incorporating a neater and slicker sales funnel, then you will have a higher conversion rate to your website, as opposed to something which just looks aesthetically pleasing. Remember, you don’t have to break the bank to compete with the big boys. Give consideration to these simple tips and watch your web traffic soar. Contact: www.ryan-c-walsh-online marketing-seo.co.uk
122 December 2014
INTERNET BUSINESS SCHOOL
imon Coulson MBA climbed the corporate ladder with BT PLC for 14 years before quitting the city life. He started a series of internet businesses and has now successfully built five 7-figure online businesses. Simon has generated a fortune of over £12 million pounds since leaving BT. The first £2 million were from the spare room in his house! The self made and self taught multi-millionaire, known for adopting a number of internet business models including information products, membership sites, online retail, online training and online transaction services, will be sharing some of his secrets to success this november as a keynote speaker at the Olympia Business Show (Stand 316). Simon has also become an established public speaker on Internet Marketing and has spoken around the world to audiences of up to 7,000 including at Londons o2 arena. After mentoring some friends to start their own successful internet businesses, the first of which has now generated £3.5 million itself, Simon decided to roll out a coaching program to a wider audience and launched the Internet Business School in 2007. This organization has trained 1,000′s of entrepreneurs and created many successful online
businesses. The Internet Business School has been accredited by NCFE as a diploma awarding body in Internet Marketing and has also been accredited by CPD. Simon has appeared at: • Entrepreneur Bootcamp (London O2 Arena) • The Business Show (Excel) • UK Internet Entrepreneurs Summit • BStartup show (Excel) • Unlimited Power Online(Dubai) • Power To Achieve (London, Ireland, Malaysia) • Wealth Workout • Money Masters • Ultimate Marketing Seminar • Internet Masters • Entrepreneur Weekend • Traffic Generation Summit • UK Internet Entrepreneurs Conference • Ultimate Business Seminar and many more ! To find our more information about Simon please visit www.internetbusinessschool.com or come and and say hello, we’ll be on stand 316
Simon has shared the stage with world renowned experts including: • former USA President Bill Clinton • Sir Richard Branson • Lord Alan Sugar • James Caan • Caprice • Mike Harris • Tony Robbins • Brian Tracy • Dan Kennedy • Ted Nicholas • Bill Glazer • Bob Proctor
First 4 Apps (Part of Freecom Internet Services Mobile Division)
Smart apps for smartphones We build & provide mobile applications (apps) for both iPhone & Android platforms, which between them cover 96% of the smartphone market giving you an excellent ROI. Competitively priced, our apps are built and hosted on our own custom platform, allowing you to update, add content, or send push notifications easily. Whether you have a ‘Brand’ to market, or ‘Products’ to sell, Freecom’s mobile platform is the platform for you. With its powerful ‘e-commerce’ capabilities, it defines the mobile experience required by your customers. Existing customers range from TV celebrities, sports, including a premiership football club, to small businesses, car dealerships, and large mail order outlets to name a few. Just get in touch for more information. Quote TB10 when calling and receive 10% discount.
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ADVICE Legally speaking
Legally Legally speaking speaking Each month, Emma Wellard, from solicitor, Wright Hassall, takes a look at a different dilemma for small businesses from a legal perspective. This month she looks at how toasty you should keep your workplace.
“My staff are complaining that our warehouse is too cold. Are there any rules on the minimum temperature at which they can work, and at what point must I supply appropriate clothing/workwear?” The short answer is no, there are no minimum or maximum temperatures for working environments. However, understandably, there is a requirement (governed by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992) for employers to assess the environmental conditions of the workplace, and make suitable adjustments if practicable. There is an expectation that indoor working temperatures should be ‘reasonable’, which is broadly defined as being a minimum of 16ºC - or 13ºC depending on the work being carried out. Given that you are operating in a warehouse environment, I would judge 13ºC would be considered reasonable, as I would assume that some of the operations will include physical work. Employers are required, under health and safety law to ensure that, not only is the temperature kept at a reasonable level for the type of work being done, but also that clean, fresh air is supplied.
HOW TO ENSURE THE COMFORT OF YOUR WORKERS Most of the HSE’s recommendations about providing a comfortable temperature are governed by common sense. Given that your employees have already approached you with concerns about the temperature, then there are a number of steps you would be advised to take: • Monitor the temperature during the working day to see where and when the ‘cold spots’ occur. • Provide additional heating where appropriate. • Review working practices – can some processes be carried out differently, or in different areas? • If practical, insulate areas and reduce draughts where workers are relatively inactive. • Allow enough breaks, enabling workers to warm up and have hot drinks. • Ensure that you know about any medical conditions that may affect the tolerance of some workers to cold.
PROTECTIVE CLOTHING Many businesses have ‘corporate’ clothing so that workers do not risk damaging their own clothes,
There is an expectation that indoor working temperatures should be ‘reasonable’, which is broadly defined as being a minimum of 13ºC
particularly those whose jobs require a degree of movement. Such clothing can include warm fleeces and similar items if working in lower temperatures. Although you are not legally obliged to provide warm clothes you should probably consider doing so.
IN SUMMARY Your obligation as an employer is to be aware of the problem, and do what you practically can to resolve the situation. Ensure that you communicate the results of any temperature survey and what you propose to do. Supply your workers with suitable clothing, such as fleeces and gloves - providing that it doesn’t impede their operations - and ensure that they have sufficient breaks to enable them to warm up. Providing you have behaved in a reasonable and considerate manner, it’s very unlikely that any claim against you about temperature would be successful. Contact: www.wrighthassall.co.uk Got a question you want answered by the legal team? Email editor@ talkbusinessmagazine with the subject line “Legal lifeline”
Simply better email marketing
Karen, lives in London Loves eating out Birthday next week
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ADVICE Reduce free consulting
You can’t grow until you say “NO” Shaun Thomson, CEO of Sandler Training in the UK, tackles the tough subject of how to get out of the costly habit of giving away free consulting
ree consulting is a silent business killer, and unfortunately many businesses don’t even recognise there’s a problem until it’s too late. But think about it – how much time does your business waste in convoluted proposals and overservicing? It soon adds up and let’s face it, time is money. The key is identifying where the time is being wasted. This is normally quite easy. In order to win business, you find yourself pricing services as low as possible, and then over-deliver with free consulting. The fact is, cheapest and best are not the same thing. This is why you must focus on value, not price. After all, customers do not want the cheapest option, they want the best. Obviously, changing habits isn’t easy and once a precedent has been set, it’s hard to change a relationship. But with some simple steps, you will soon find yourself saving time - and raising revenue as a result. Set the tone from the beginning; if you’ve provided the
client with all the answers as part of the tendering process, why would they hire you? In reality, the criterion for appointing a company is not who has all the answers, but who feels like the right fit, and who can deliver long term value. Recognise you have a choice: you have the power to change an unprofitable relationship. You can make the conscious decision not to be dragged into the game of free consulting. Your advice, intellectual property, or product, has a price tag, so do not give into requests for free trials or pricecuts to get contracts signed.
DON’T PUT IT OFF It is harder to change the tone of an existing relationship, especially one where the power is badly off-kilter. But the longer you wait, the worse it will be. If you are doing a good job and delivering value, then you are in a good position to discuss the working relationship. An honest face-to-face meeting works best to discuss it.
EVIDENCE THE SUCCESS
The fact is, cheapest and best are not the same thing. This is why you must focus on value, not price
Ahead of this meeting, make sure you have prepared evidence on the value of your work, and instances where excessive time has been spent. Have suggested processes at the ready, that will make the relationship more mutually beneficial moving forward.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO PART WAYS For those clients that don’t take kindly to having a more balanced relationship - well, it may be time to part ways. If the client has unrealistic expectations, and is costing a business money, then the relationship cannot continue. At the end of the day, to truly combat free consultancy you need the confidence to push back. It’s time to face the truth - a business can’t grow before it learns to say ‘no’. Contact: www.sandler.com
Four simple steps
to video sucCess Video production We could run through all the details - how having video on your website can improve your engagement with customers and your SEO, how YouTube is not only the second biggest search engine (owned by Google, the biggest) but is also one of the best forums for increasing brand awareness and domain authority. Much has been written on this and it is well worth checking out! Instead we want you to consider these four simple steps when planning your all-important videos to avoid common pitfalls. Who are your audience? Knowing your target audience is vitally important. Understanding them should shape your entire project. The chances are you know them better than anyone else, so it’s worth thinking long and hard about how best to reach this select band of people. What sort of things do they watch, where do they watch, how do they watch? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are the audience. Once you understand your audience better then you can begin to look at what it is you want to tell them. What is your message? Most online videos are short, one or two minutes, and if it’s a Vine you have six and a half seconds to deliver. So, you are going to need a short core message. Don’t overload the viewer - you can have supporting facts, but no other core messages. If you’ve got lots to say, just make another video.
If you don’t say it, no one will hear it seems simple? One short, memorable sentence that your audience can take away with them should be what you are aiming for. But don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘that’s it, job done’. Just saying your core message accounts for less than 90% of the delivered message, it is not going to be enough. Video is a visual medium and your audience will be getting most of their information from what your film is visually implying, not by what someone in the video is saying. The imagery must support the message. Its relevance to the subject matter, in content and tone, is paramount. As well as carrying your message, these same images must also keep the audience engaged. The use of interesting, relevant content, eyecatching imagery and the style in which the footage is shot and edited in needs to work hard to hold the audience’s attention from beginning to end. How much should your video cost? One of the biggest preoccupations of anyone considering video is the budget. It’s a fact that a bad video could do more harm than good, and if you don’t have the budget for certain concepts they won’t be practical. If you can’t afford the video that will deliver your message, then it’s probably better not to make one. The good news, however, is that the most expensive option is unlikely to be the best. Small budgets are a great way of provoking creative thinking. So, the chances are if you’re
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Web
Twitter @BigYellowFeet Facebook www.facebook.com/ bigyellowfeet
only looking at the expensive option, you’re not looking hard enough. Ethos and Values Similar to the budget, the ethos and values of any organisation are often considered high priority, and it is important to understand these values. However, a more pertinent point is usually ‘what are the values of your intended audience’? If they are the same as yours then great, but they may not be, which brings us full circle know your audience. Big Yellow Feet is an award winning video production company.
Let it go so you can grow Paul Burns, director at Core Fulfilment, explains why outsourcing is no longer just a strategy for big business
â&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve often heard entrepreneurs talk as though outsourcing is an exclusive tool for big businesses, preferring to try and handle all aspects of their start-up themselves. Not only is this time consuming but it can hinder growth. The internet has given people from many walks of life the opportunity to work for themselves, and turn something they are passionate about into something profitable.
With such an increase in the number of emerging start-ups, outsourcing has become a strategy for the small business owner, as much as it has for larger organisations. On top of this, technological advancements mean that new businesses can often work globally without setting foot outside the UK. Outsourcing is therefore a means for them to get the job done, without having to be in different territories to oversee employees. Further, following the recession, many highly qualified and skilled professionals who have left the corporate arena are now available to freelance for small businesses looking to grow.
Knowing when to outsource can be a difficult first step. The first hurdle is usually one of control with ownermanagers finding it difficult to let others control aspects of their business
THE BENEFITS OF OUTSOURCING Outsourcing has a number of benefits for the small business owner; increasing efficiency, bringing in new expertise, and delivering a more experienced service. On top of this, personally employing staff can be difficult for smaller businesses that may not have the space or money to grow in-house. Outsourcing noncore competencies enables the permanent staff you do have to concentrate on what they do best. Networks and services like odesk, elance, 99 designs ,and fiverr are testament to the fact that the demand is there for cost effective and flexible outsourced solutions. They also show just how popular, and routine some elements of outsourcing are becoming.
WHEN TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP Knowing when to outsource can be a difficult first step. The first hurdle is usually one of control - with owner-managers finding it difficult to let others control aspects of their business. This is as much an emotional decision as it is a business one,
and is especially true for those embarking on their first start-up, who haven’t experimented with ‘letting go’ before. The emotional attachment to your own business is both natural and understandable, but over-protectiveness can hold you back. Take stock of what your core competencies are, right from the outset. The earlier you get through that ‘letting go’ stage, the more you’ll be able to trust your partners and move forward. A similar conundrum can face larger businesses that reach a tipping point, whereby managing all functions in house may no longer be viable from a business, practical, or economic perspective. Knowing when this tipping point might occur helps you to plan through it, and decide what it is you will need third-party support for.
WHAT SHOULD I OUTSOURCE? Smaller businesses often assume that outsourcing only applies to skills that they don’t have in house, for example, design or accountancy. What they often forget is that they are already managing tasks in house, which,
if outsourced, could actually save them time, improve customer service, help them to focus on business development and, crucially, grow the bottom line. If you already have employees handling behind-the-scenes tasks, such as pick-and-pack, and fulfilment for example, but the time involved is preventing them from taking orders or prospecting, then outsourcing that function might be more profitable. Similarly, if you and your staff are beginning to struggle to meet the needs of your growing business, there is a risk that customer service might suffer as a result. Outsourcing will not only give you the time you need to focus on moving the business forward, but it also puts specialist tasks into the hands of experts, whose sole purpose is to provide excellence in their specific field. Outsourcing comes in many guises, so make a list of what you can and can’t do to maintain profitability. No-one can do it all, so letting go early might be the best business decision you ever make. Contact: www. corefulfilment.com
130 December 2014
Next Shows… Outstanding Sales and Marketing Opportunities
• 5 December 2014 COVENTRY SHOW The Village Hotel • 6 February 2015 BIRMINGHAM SHOW Crowne Plaza • 26 February 2015 CHELTENHAM SHOW Cheltenham Racecourse
The Sterling Integrity Business Show is a fantastic opportunity at various locations throughout The Midlands, The South West, and South Wales.
• 25 March 2015 SOLIHULL SHOW The Village Hotel
Please contact Neil on 0777 202 6592 or go to www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk
Business Junction, London’s premier Business network, invites you to a Free networkinG event Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of Business Junction is offering all talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of our our 4 June networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 5 august networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 4 December 2014 8.00-10.00am
Champagne Breakfast in Oxford Circus Nearest tube: Oxford Circus MSE Meeting Rooms, 103a Oxford Street, London, W1D 2HG networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at tower Hill More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/champagne-breakfast-in-oxford-circus
11 December 2014 Thurs 8th Aug 12.20-2.30pm
Networking lunch in Baker Street networking lunch at the roof Gardens & Babylon restaurant at High st. kensington Grosvenor Casino Barracuda, 1 Baker Street, London, W1U 8ED Nearest tube: Marble Arch 99 High Street Kensington, W8 5SA Nearest tube: High Street Kensington More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-baker-street
Thurs 1st Aug
Wed 14th Aug
45 Prescot Street, E1 8GP
Nearest tube: Tower Hill
networking lunch at Freemasons Hall at covent Garden
16 December 2014 5.30-9.00pm
Christmas60 Networking Evening Event 5AZ in Clerkenwell Great Queen Street, WC2B Nearest tube: Holborn The Clerkenwell Centre, 61 Lever Street, London, EC1V 3AR Nearest tube: Old Street networking lunch at the Happenstance at st. paul’s Booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/christmas-networking-evening-event-in-clerkenwell
18 December 2014 Thurs 29th Aug 12.30-2.30pm
Christmas Networking lunch in Moorgate networking lunch at London, dirty dicks at Liverpool street Nearest tube: Moorgate Brewers’ Hall, Aldermanbury Square, EC2V 7HR 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR Nearest tube: Liverpool Street More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/christmas-networking-lunch-in-moorgate
Thurs 22nd Aug
1A Ludgate Hill, EC4M 7AA
Nearest tube: St Paul’s
Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk with the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: talkbusiness2/13 now in its 12 year and with over 450 member companies, Business Junction is London’s leading independent business network. we run 80+ pan-London networking events each year including a weekly lunch, a monthly champagne taittinger breakfast and 6 evening events, all at different high quality central London venues.
www.businessjunction.co.uk 020 3667 6776 Business JunctionDecember14.indd 1
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148 November 2014
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OPINION He said/she said
He said / she said This month, the entrepreneurs are tweeting about penguins, politics and profits. Opinions (and spelling mistakes) are all their own Stephen Fear @FearStephen Just goes to show that profits can still be made by keeping prices low as more & more people turn to @AldiUK @AldiUSA
Theo Paphitis @TheoPaphitis It’s #SBS ! Tell me about your business between 5-7.30pm using #SBS tag & I will choose fav 6 to RT tomorrow & invite to #SBS event !
The battle of the supermarkets in the run up to Christmas, gives a lesson to all SMEs that sometimes cheap can still be best, without compromising quality.
The Dragon’s work doesn’t stop when the cameras stop filming. Theo calls out to his followers for their favourite SMEs to champion at Small Business Sunday.
Nigel Farage @Nigel_Farage
Kelly Hoppen @IMKellyHoppen
Ed Miliband is due to give a speech tomorrow in which he will yet again attack UKIP for standing up for British people. Unelectable. A joke.
It’s tempting to pursue multiple markets - Don’t. Begin by focusing on one or two markets. #ExportWeek @UKTI @GREATBritain
This month’s cover star, Nigel ruffles yet more feathers amongst the political elite. Whatever you think of him, he’s certainly made politics interesting again!
Dragon’s Den star, Kelly dishes out great advice to her followers and aspiring entrepreneurs. We agree - overstretching yourself early on can leave you and your resources spread too thinly.
Kimberly Davis @ApprenticeKim
Karren Brady @karren_brady
As a marketer, you’d think I’d be immune to Christmas adverts. But I have to say, Monty won my heart. Bravo @johnlewis http://ow.ly/E28UY The Christmas adverts are out in force again and the Twitterverse is going crazy for John Lewis’ penguin-themed offering. See Kim’s run down of all the ads, and what you can learn from them on page 61.
I’m partnering @PanteneUK to help women shine strong with a new £20,000 #SHINESTRONG Fund. Apply here http://on.fb. me/1pYpMPO #ad One of the UK’s most well-known female entrepreneurs is giving back by championing women in industry.
134 December 2014
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