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



June 2014 £4.50

Office, sweet office Discover the hottest work spaces for London-based start-ups

You’re hired! ... Sort of BBC Apprentice winner, Lee McQueen tackles zero hours contracts

NAKED TRUTH Following a year in which turnover grew by £20m, Naked Wines founder, Rowan Gormley reveals the secrets behind his success

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INSIDE 11 Editor’s letter 14 Letters 16 News & events

61 Day tripper Navigating

London’s transport network

65 PowWowNow London tube

strikes: a modern take

66 Office, sweet office We find the best locations

TALK SUCCESS 20 Naked truth Secrets of success from

Naked Wines founder, Rowan Gormley

28 31 33

Family fortunes Charlie Pragnell Jewellers

Young entrepreneur We interview a rising star

Book reviews

TALK MONEY 35 The funding expert The London conundrum 37 Winding up a business The six-step guide 43 Retiring from business Ensuring your legacy 49 A day in the life Utter Nutter take us through

a typical day

50 Simplify the law Six ways to increase profits


TALK STRATEGY 53 The branding column Rich With tackles

user experience

55 58

Born to sell: the natural sales method Adam Caplan

Fighting the tide How to avoid drowning in debt

for London start-ups

69 Sales doctor TALK MARKETING 71 Marketing on a shoestring Kimberly Davis 73 Research runner Growing an idea from scratch 76 78 81

Thames Valley Expo guide Don’t rely on Google Google Translate gone awry

Make the most of advertising Unlock your untapped growth

TALK PEOPLE 85 Lee McQueen Tackling zero hours contracts 87 HR insight How to succession plan 89 10 reasons to hire an apprentice 90 Secret diary of an entrepreneur Farmers find fun funding

foreign flats

93 Hire right Sparing you the cost of

a bad hire

TALK IMAGE 95 We love... tea Speciality teas to try 96 Look the business Fashion blazers

98 Hotspots Locations for business

stays and meets

TALK TECHNOLOGY 101 The accelerator John Bradford talks software

engineer shortfalls

103 Pulp friction How to reduce time wasting 107 Securing your business Top tips to avoid password fails 109 Use the cloud Easy route to mobile

customer service

111 I’ve got an app for that Our favourite business apps 113 The domain game What can .London do for you? TALK FRANCHISE 117 Franchise news 121 Benefits of franchising 125 The fran man Tony Mundella prunes rotten

franchise branches

TALK ADVICE 126 Ultimate Finance 128 Starting a business for exit Isosceles Finance 131 I don’t need PI Professional Direct 134 Beginner’s guide to VoIP

Level seven

136 Talk Business directory 138 He said/she said

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Scan this QR code to subscribe to Talk Business


Luke Garner luke.garner@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk


Louise Salisbury artwork@astongreenlake.com

WEB DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Mitchell Finlay mitchell.finlay@astongreenlake.com

SALES & MARKETING MANAGER Scott Hartley scott.hartley@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk


Trystan Hurley trystan.hurley@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk



Laura Cole laura.cole@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk


Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd T: 0203 617 4680 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.

Printed by

Once all is said and LON-DONE


ut viam inveniam aut faciam.” Those famous words attributed to the great Hannibal, the man who did the unthinkable and crossed the Alps with his army of elephants, roughly translates to “I shall either find a way, or make one.” For any entrepreneur this phrase will strike a chord as the attitude required in order to make a success of any venture. There will always be people who will tell you “it cannot be done” and yet so many businesses have still prospered, despite the nay-sayers. One man who, time and time again, has done what people said was impossible and has taken risks to get where he is today is Naked Wines founder, Rowan Gormley. We spoke to him about the risks he took leaving Virgin Wines to set up Naked Wines, and the radical business model that revolutionised the world of wine purchasing (page 20). For all the complaints that London is too powerful and too much of the UK’s business interests are centred within the M25, there is no getting away from the fact that the capital drives growth and innovation in the British “

Isles more than any other city. And it is this exact problem that can create such a conundrum for start-ups in the UK. The cost of basing yourself in London can be eye-wateringly steep, but sometimes it is difficult to ignore the positives, such as the networking opportunities and close proximity to a huge customer base. We go in search of the best neighbourhoods to open your offices in the capital - taking into consideration cost, location and commitment. Will you find your ideal home (page 66)? We also catch up with BBC’s The Apprentice series four winner, Lee McQueen as he tackles the controversial issue of zero hours contracts (page 85), and find out from FastHost’s Simon Yeoman why your business should be looking to take advantage of the new geographical domain names, particularly .London (page 113).

Contact: luke.garner@ talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk Tweet us @talkbusinessmag

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The EXPERTS Get the inside scoop on our contributors to Talk Business this month


has worked in a design environment since leaving college. After spending time in editorial, print and web design, he began freelancing at agencies in both London and the Caribbean. He set up his own studio – Hoot Creative – last year. Based near Southend, he works with MDs of established and start-up SMEs who have a problem getting noticed in an overcrowded market. Rich likes Massive Attack, Jeff Buckley, smoothies, photography and wine-gums. He is not fond of Brussels sprouts. You can follow him on Twitter @Rich_Hoot. Join Rich on page 53, where he discusses how to make your branding a 3D experience.


is a highly accomplished marketing expert, author, business mentor, and speaker. She is founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing – the name comes from Kimberly’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 antimarketing marketer”. Get the hottest marketing insights from this former Apprentice star on page 71.


is the general manager of Fasthosts Internet (www. fasthosts.london), a leading web hosting provider and cloud computing specialist, and has worked for the company since September 2008. As general manager, he has overall responsibility for the company’s performance. Simon has widespread experience at executive level in the internet, IT and telecoms sectors. Simon is also a Governance Board member of the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), a cloud computing industry body, with responsibility for overseeing CIF’s Code of Practice. Previously, Simon has held several management positions at mobile operator Orange. Simon is married with children, and is a keen sportsman. Discover what the .London domain boom could mean for you on page 113

12 June 2014

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If you’d like to send us your thoughts about Talk Business, or anything else that is happening on the SME scene, just get in touch: email: editor@talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk snail mail: Editor, Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited, William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ.

This month, our readers are discussing great shows they’ve attended, accounting nightmares, and are tweeting about our stories

PUTTING ON A SHOW Dear Talk Business, It was great to meet your team recently at the Business Show at ExCel in London, and see you getting involved at the grass roots of business. I thought the seminars were great, and Brad Burton’s seminar was particularly inspiring. I already have his book, Get off your arse, (which I highly recommend), and it was amazing to hear his thoughts in person. Any chance you’ll be reviewing it in your upcoming edition? Mike Aviles General manager Highway Imports Ltd. We had a great time at the show too thanks! It’s always great to see entrepreneurs actively engaging in shows and learning so much from them. We actually reviewed that exact book in a previous issue, which you can view online (along with all of our other past editions) at www.talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk.

HELD TO ACCOUNT Hi, Thank you so much for your article on how small businesses can ease their accounting struggles in your May issue (page 49). It was an absolute life saver, and has helped me to cut down the time I waste on doing the finances. Time is money after all! Emily Porter Sanguine Solutions Glad we could help Emily! Look out for Carl Faulds’ tips on avoiding debt and how to invoice efficiently on page 58 in the Talk Strategy section of this issue.


of the month @WillItMake “Business Owners Still Missing Trick When It Comes to Energy Comparison” from @ TalkBusinessMag http://ow.ly/ wtOCb #Management #Green @Shaw_Consulting “Should you acknowledge sick leave when an employee falls ill whilst on holiday entitlement? http:// fb.me/15G6WWQ2O  @AccountAsYouGo Delighted to have @TalkBusinessMag as a Media Partner for #richmondexpo on 6th June http:// bit.ly/1m7R1Xo @MidasClick To Manage Your Paid Search Marketing In House, or to not; That is the Question! @ TalkBusinessMag - http://bit.ly/ P6DMel?T5rHI  @tweakvideo @topleftdesign Read your article in @TalkBusinessMag - About as useful as a china teapot!! - so... REALLY useful :) Wordpress Rocks! Matt. @ThamesValleyExp Join @symvolli @ TalkBusinessMag @portsmouthuni and be involved in #TVExpo #Thamesvalley #Businesshow #FREE2ATTEND http:// www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-thamesvalley-expo-tickets-10661435641 …

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NEWS Latest stories

NEWS Vince Cable signals zero hours re-think The Business Secretary proposes giving zero hours workers’ right to request fixed contracts


usiness Secretary, Vince Cable has said that he is considering giving workers on zero hours contracts the right to request fixed term contracts, following accusations that employers are abusing the rights of workers. Zer -hours contracts allow employers to hire staff with no guarantee of work, and are especially prevalent in the catering and events industries. Whilst the flexibility they offer provides great benefit to companies where work can be demand-driven or seasonal, many

believe that they can leave workers financially unstable, and with few, if any, employment rights. According to Government sources, the average zero hours contract offers 25 hours paid employment per week but, following Labour leader, Ed Miliband’s promise to ensure workers could demand a fixed hours contract when they had worked regular hours over six months for the same employer, Cable noted: “It is an area in which we need to move forward, and we are looking at how best to do it.”

£1MILLION BROADBAND FUND MADE AVAILABLE TO WOMEN Superfast broadband is vital to helping female entrepreneurs get ahead, says Campus for Mums


£1 million fund has been set up by the Government to provide female entrepreneurs with access to superfast broadband with the aim of encouraging the growth of female-led start-ups. Women-led operations represent 20% of all SMEs in the UK in 2014, up from 12% in 2010. This has prompted the Government to build on the encouraging trend, with Minister for Women, Nicky Morgan declaring: “This fund will give women the practical help needed to get their businesses online and take advantage of superfast broadband. This will include online mentors, business clubs and training courses, so that women all over the country can benefit from the kind of help Campus for Mums is giving.”

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NEWS Latest stories


SMEs to inject £80 billion into economic recovery Almost four in five are confident that the UK provides a positive environment for business growth right now


survey by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks has revealed that SMEs across the UK are expecting to invest up to seven per cent of their turnover in 2014, into things such as new staff, equipment and training, in order to capitalise on an improving economy. These funds are being spent

as businesses predict a 10% growth during the coming year, which equates to a turnover increase of £160 billion across the UK, or £34,000 per SME. The agricultural, manufacturing and construction sectors are leading the way, displaying the most growth ambition, with 79% of those surveyed believing that the UK is a positive environment for growth,

and that now is a good time to grow the business. “An increasing level of confidence is playing a critical role in fuelling the recovering economy,” explained Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks’ director for business and private banking, Paul Shephard, adding; “The SME segment is actively preparing to change up a gear to take advantage.”

DATES FOR THE DIARY Business Junction Networking Events 05 June The Hide at the Bull 4 Devonshire Row 12th June Greens Restaurant & Oyster Bar 36 Duke Street 18th June Aveqia, 2 St. Bride Street 26th June Bumpkin Chelsea, 119 Sydney Street www.businessjunction.co.uk Richmond Expo 2014 6th June Twickenham Statium www.richmondexpo.co.uk

Thames Valley Expo 12th June Windsor Racecourse www.thamesvalleyexpo.co.uk Cloud World Forum 17-18th June 2014 Olympia National, London www.cloudwf.com Sterling Integrity 19th June Godstow Road, Oxford 27th June Crown Plaza, Birmingham www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk

The Mobile Innovations Awards 8 July Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London. themobileinnovationsawards.com Online Retail Conferences 16 September Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington orevents.com eCommerce Expo 1-2 October Olympia, London ecommerceexpo.co.uk Successful Selling Expo 16 October RICOH, Coventry sales-expo.co.uk

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SUCCESS On the cover

20 June 2014

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SUCCESS On the cover

NAKED TRUTH South African Rowan Gormley is the brainchild behind Naked Wines, which has enjoyed a bumper year, increasing turnover by £20 million. Adam Aiken quizzes him on the secrets of his success

WHAT FIRST IGNITED YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL SPARK? When I worked in private equity it was very exciting, but I always felt that people running the business were having even more fun than I was. Being young and thinking that I knew better than everybody else, I always thought I could do a better job than them, so it was probably a combination of naivety and inexperience that led me to think I could be an entrepreneur.

BUT YOU’VE MADE A PRETTY GOOD FIST OF IT, HAVEN’T YOU? There have been an awful lot of mistakes along the way. After setting up Virgin Money and then The One Account, I set up Virgin Wines, but the biggest mistake I made was

believing my own press. We worked hard to get good PR, and all the PR was saying, “What an amazing management team this is, setting up yet another business”. But when the numbers came through, they really weren’t any good at all. Instead of looking at the numbers and saying, “We need to fundamentally change what we are doing here”, I ended up sticking doggedly to the original idea, even when the numbers showed it was wrong.

BY THE TIME YOU LEFT VIRGIN WINES, HAD THINGS PICKED UP? When we launched, I just thought that with the combination of the internet, Virgin and wine, what could possibly go wrong? They were the three sexiest words you could imagine! But all we did

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SUCCESS On the cover

The biggest mistake I made was believing my own press

was launch an online wine shop. It didn’t really offer the customer anything genuinely better. The numbers were poor. We raised a pile of money at the height of the internet boom, but we blew it all on fancy head offices and advertising campaigns that didn’t work. After we’d been in it for about two years, we’d spent all the money, and by that stage even I could no longer deny that the original business idea was flawed, so we completely changed the business model. We did it because we had to, but really I should have spotted it a long time before. As an overall career, I am very proud that there are four companies around that wouldn’t have existed if I and the team I was with at the time hadn’t got them going. If I knew then what I knew today though, there are a lot of things I would have done differently.

BUT ISN’T THAT PART AND PARCEL OF BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? YOU HAVE TO BE VERY LUCKY NEVER TO FAIL. Absolutely! If you don’t fail at anything, it means you’re not being adventurous enough. You are never going to get everything right. The key to being a successful entrepreneur is not having creative genius or Steve Jobs’ design flair – it’s the ability to pick yourself up when you’ve been punched in the face and say, “We’re going to do that again, but this time we’re going to do it differently and make it work”. Having that persistence and having that ability to remain positive in the face of adversity are the key attributes of entrepreneurs. I have met and worked with people who are much more creative than me, who are much cleverer than me,

who are more gifted financially than me, but a lot of them have never made it. Some of them just talk themselves out of it in advance because they think, “Oh there are a whole load of potential problems”. Others give up after they have their first setback. It requires a dogged determination to keep going.

WHEN YOU LAUNCHED VIRGIN WINES, YOU CAME FROM A BACKGROUND OF THE ONE ACCOUNT AND VIRGIN MONEY. WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF SWITCHING INDUSTRIES? The biggest challenge is always people. When I was at Virgin Money I was very lucky in that I was working with an absolutely fantastic team. When we set up The One Account, we had the benefit of the same team. But when I set up Virgin

22 June 2014

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SUCCESS On the cover

Wines I had to recruit new people. Some of them worked out, some of them didn’t, and it was the first time I realised how important the team is. One of the best bits of advice I ever got was always to work with a very small number of very good people. They can achieve way more than an enormous team of mediocre people.

If you don’t fail at anything, it means you’re not being adventurous enough

YOU LEFT VIRGIN WINES AFTER FIVE YEARS AND QUICKLY LAUNCHED NAKED WINES. WHAT DID YOU DO DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME ROUND? It was 2008, and Lehman Brothers had just gone bust, Iceland was about to go bust, Ireland was bust, and Greece was bust. It forced us to be really radical. There was no point setting up a slightly better version of Virgin Wines – we needed to do something dramatically better. We figured out that we needed to do the opposite of what the wine industry was doing. Typically, the industry makes its money either by screwing the winemaker or by screwing the wine drinker. So instead of screwing the winemakers, we decided we needed to

fund them. The only way we could get them to make genuinely better wine for genuinely better money was to help them solve their financial problems, and the only place we could get the funding for this was from our customers. We had to give our customers a reason to pay for winemakers they had never met, to make wines they had never tasted. We had to be transparent, and let the customers meet the winemakers and speak to other customers. And that’s why we ended up with the name “Naked” – what you see is what you get.

VITAL STATISTICS Name: Rowan Gormley Nationality: South African Company: Naked Wines Founded: 2008 Turnover: Approx. £60 million per year Previous companies: The One Account, Virgin Money, Virgin Wines

SO WHAT ARE THE BASICS THAT HAVE MADE YOUR IDEAS SUCCESSFUL? The first principle of launching a new business is don’t bother, unless you have something that is genuinely dramatically better than what is already out there. People should not have to pay to be sold to. The big problem for an awful lot of companies is they get caught in a vicious circle. They start with a product that is decent value, but they spend so much selling it that the product becomes expensive, so nobody buys it. Particularly in the case of financial services, they make the product so complicated so they can hide the true cost of it. Then, when people find out exactly what they are paying, they are furious and they lose trust in the organisation.

IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO A BUDDING ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT WOULD IT BE? It’s the “single-pint test”. You’ve got to be able distil your idea down from Powerpoint presentations and graphs and everything else, into something you can explain to another human being over the course of a single pint of beer. If it’s more complicated than that, it’s probably never going to work. If you just stick to one core, simple idea, you’ve got a much better chance of success. Contact: http://www.nakedwines.com

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How do you go about targeting a specific demographic in Scotland?

Through our in-depth knowledge of the country and our unique audience research tools we know how people travel around Scotland and how this differs depending on the area. Moreover, we have first-hand experience of what targeting the influential audiences found in Scotland can do for your brand. With specialists in all audiences and business sectors, and experienced account managers who know their area inside-out, we can make specific, tailored recommendations based upon what we know works. In short, we do the hard work so you get results! To find out how Exterion Media can ensure that your local area knows about your business visit

www.exterionmedia.co.uk/local for the whole story. Source: * Scotland.gov.uk, * work.shop.play, * CACI’s Retail Dimensions, * TGI 2



27/05/2014 14:51 16:52 29/05/2014

SUCCESS Taking over the family business

Charlie Pragnell is the third generation to run the family business – a fine jewellery operation based in the heart of Shakespeare country.



lthough the passing of the baton from grandfather to father to son might appear to be an entirely natural process, it wasn’t always on the cards that Charlie Pragnall would stay in the family business. Indeed, his entrepreneurial skills nearly took him in a completely different direction before he ended up at George Pragnell, the Stratford-uponAvon business that is celebrating its diamond jubilee this year. While he was studying politics at Bristol, Charlie’s ability to spot a niche in the market saw him set up a business promoting student accommodation letting agents, and running club nights.

“It was slightly by design,” he said. “My father was very keen to ensure that I had less money than my contemporaries, so as to encourage me to get a part-time job or find a way of creating a business to earn some money while I was at university. “At one stage, my company was running 10 club nights a week. It was our job to set up the theme for the particular night, or the drinks deal, or the DJ, or the music - or whatever, and to promote it to get people through the door.” Charlie sold his share of the business as he approached his finals so he could concentrate on his degree – and then set about looking to find something to do next.

I think it is very difficult for somebody to come into the fine jewellery business from scratch

Again, though, he chose a somewhat offbeat way to research his options. “I didn’t really start thinking about what I would do with the rest of my life until I had left university,” he said. “I thought I would probably quite like to work in the City, so I got a job with a company that recruited students for the City, and that gave me the chance to see how the different sectors worked. It was a way of trying to see which job would be most appropriate for me.” However, Charlie soon realised he didn’t want any of the jobs available in the City, and he decided he wanted to recapture the enjoyment he’d had while he was running his

28 June 2014

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SUCCESS Taking over the family business

own business at university. “I wanted to work somewhere that was fun, and it didn’t take me long to realise there was a family business sitting there that should be fun,” he said. “Rare watches, antiques and fine jewellery together made it seem an attractive option, so I began the training to go into the family business.” Charlie’s training began at the Gemological Institute of America, followed by a year in New York’s diamond district. After spending time in London’s West End learning about the mechanics of a jewellery shop, he was ready to join the family business. But along the way, he realised just how much he had subconsciously absorbed during his childhood. Before his grandfather founded George Pragnell in 1954, he and his wife had trained at Biggs of Maidenhead – the jeweller to Queen Mary. One of the first memories of George’s son, Jeremy (Charlie’s father) was of the move to Stratford-uponAvon, and it wasn’t long before he himself was immersed in the world of jewellery. Jeremy later married Charlie’s mother, who was a sixth generation Bond Street jewellery manufacturer, so it’s no surprise that Charlie had picked up a large amount of knowledge by the time he realised he wanted to follow in his family’s footsteps. Not that he is alone. After all, family businesses tend to dominate the world of jewellery – and that’s because of the knowledge that is accumulated over the generations, according to Charlie. “I think it is very difficult for somebody to come into the fine jewellery business from scratch, because there is just so much to learn,” he said. “Unless one has an extremely attentive, helpful and diligent master, an apprentice will find it very difficult to learn all he needs to know. Usually, the master comes from the previous generation of the family business, and he is much more likely to be caring, patient

and attentive when it comes to the apprentice’s education. It takes a long time to learn all the different information, and you never really stop learning. Those companies that hand over from one generation to another subsequently retain an awful lot of that knowledge.” Another reason that so many businesses keep it in the family is pure enjoyment. “One is dealing with beautiful objects, unique articles and interesting history, with fascinating stories attached to them,” said Charlie. “One is also dealing with all sorts of customers, from all sorts of backgrounds, with all sorts of opinions. It’s so colourful, and it’s no wonder that it keeps people’s interest and makes them want to stay in the business. “Not all family businesses are attractive to the next generation, but this industry seems to be.” The flip side of that, of course,

is that there is a threat to the continuity of the operation if the next generation doesn’t want to continue the family heritage. “Customers want to have a jeweller for life, and one of the things they find attractive is when they can keep dealing with the same family for the rest of their lives. “So it’s obviously a threat if the next generation leaves the family business. It would appear that my children don’t have much of a choice! “In all seriousness, though, it was made clear to me as I was brought up that there was no obligation to remain in the business – I am here through choice and I’m terribly keen

It takes a long time to learn all the different information, and you never really stop learning

that my children don’t feel an obligation, either. “If they want to go into the family business, then I would be thrilled, but there will be no expectation for them to do so.” Any future Pragnells that keep the family tradition going should find themselves in a business with great potential, Charlie said. “We are dealing with things that are tangible, high value and, most importantly, rare. These are goods that don’t devalue with age, and don’t deteriorate physically. “Although we have all been affected by the recession and the economic climate over the past few years, a lot of people have taken flight from financial instruments and the financial markets, and have moved to tangible things that maintain their value.” Charlie added that although there was a finite amount of fine jewellery and top of the range

watches available, the number of people who appreciate them is growing. The basic rules of supply and demand mean that the things Pragnells deals in will increase in value. “Just as it seems in the property world that rarer, higher quality properties are more than holding their value, so that will also be true of watches and the jewellery world,” he said. “If there is another economic crash, what would you like to be holding? A stocks and shares voucher or a diamond ring? The ring remains permanent. After all, diamonds are forever.” Contact: www.pragnell.co.uk

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29/05/2014 12:34


Conventus is an online platform which enables businesses to:

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28/04/2014 10:18

SUCCESS Young entrepreneur


Kemi Boutique is a plus-size bridal studio in Tooting, south west London, specialising in bridal dresses in sizes 14-24, and creating a warm, friendly and personal service, exclusively for curvy brides-to-be. I am also founder of Loving Your Curves – the UK’s only plus size bridal expo, and Loving Your Curves Bridal magazine. Kemi Boutique’s slogan beautifully expresses the ethos and passion of both businesses: ‘Kemi Boutique Loving your Curves … Loving You’


When I was looking for my own wedding dress, I was saddened to experience that most bridal shops only hold stock dresses in sizes 8-12, and as a size 18, I was not able to enjoy the same fairytale experience of my slimmer counterparts. So returned to college to retrain in tailoring and fashion. Having established Kemi Boutique, I was further surprised to find that with the vast variety of wedding events and publications, there was nothing that reflected the bride-to-be with curves, especially as the average woman in the UK is a size 16. Inspired by the desire to bring quality services and choice to women at one of the most important times in their life, I founded Loving Your Curves.


the flexibility to diversify, that are able to weather the storms as well as flourish in the good times. Also research, research, research. Market research is vital to understanding your market, so make sure you pop down to City Business Library and contact Business Launchpad; they are a great resource for start-ups, and free!


If I was not a designer I would still be an entrepreneur. I would have still found a creative outlet through life’s journey to express myself in enterprise. Being dyslexic, I knew very early on that I was naturally suited to enterprise.


I believe that all experiences have a gem of wisdom and life lessons so even the jobs that have been less enjoyable have provided a positive outlook for my business.

This month, we talk to bridal studio owner, Kemi Farquharson secure a deposit in advance, negotiate extended payment terms from suppliers, and build good working relationships with other small businesses.

GETS YOU OUT OF 8 WHAT BED IN THE MORNING? I love what I do. I have come to a place in my life where I only expend energy on things I love.


In itself, I am not motivated by money. For me, money allows for opportunities to travel and experience new adventure in life, to help others and to facilitate the necessities of life.

Life is an adventure and an adventure is never wasted

TOP OF YOUR BEEN YOUR 6 WHAT’S BUCKET LIST? WHAT’S PROUDEST MOMENT? 10 I don’t have a bucket list. My dad shared with me something that his dad had shared with him - “Life is an adventure and an adventure is never wasted”. I live and see my life, marriage and business as an adventure, and try to create moments and memories in my life, rather than try to set goals before I die!

Easter 2012. I spent it in Nigeria with my husband and my dad. We had such a lovely time together, and it was the last time before my dad’s passing. It was everything to me that, as fellow entrepreneurs, we had made it to the place of realising our dreams at a shared point in time.



Start with a passion. What is important to you? Business is hard and presents a breathtaking journey of highs and lows. It is the entrepreneurs that are driven by passion and have

Money! Managing cash flow is probably one of the main challenges for a start-up. To keep a healthy cash position, I regularly review my monthly reportings,


For both Kemi Boutique and Loving Your Curves – to grow and be small giants.

Contact: www.kemiboutique.com www.lovingyourcurves.co.uk

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29/05/2014 12:36

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27/02/2014 09:57


LATEST releases

Book reviews

BOOK reviews Telling The Story: The Heart & Soul Of Successful Leadership by Geoff Mead Our verdict: About the author: Geoff Mead is the founder of Narrative Leadership Associates, a consultancy focused on the use of storytelling for sustainable leadership. After a successful police career he discovered the magic of stories and began to explore their power to liberate the human spirit. He has also designed national public service leadership programmes and served on the faculty of the Prime Minister’s Top Management Programme.

The Biteback Dictionary of Humorous Business Quotations to both Inspire and Amuse

We’ve got one of each book to give away. Be the first to follow and tweet us, quoting the book name @TalkBusinessMag and we’ll send you a FREE copy!

We say: A different way of looking at the art of leadership. Rather than a top-down, command-led structure, this book advocates the notion of letting the entire workforce “lead” as a collective to increase participation and inspiration amongst the rank and file. Although perhaps overly wordy at times, which is somewhat of an anathema to some of the themes involved, it does a good job of explaining how the language and metaphors that we use through the telling of stories can influence our actions, and change how we and others think about the world. Telling The Story is published by Jossey-Bass, priced at £24.99, and is available as a hardcover and an e-book.

About the author: Fred Metcalf is the author of many titles, including the Penguin Book of Modern Humourous Quotations and the Penguin Book of Jokes.

of the rare few to achieve success. Whether you’re writing a speech and need some wisdom, you’re trying to find a way to break the ice for an office presentation, or are simply looking to break the monotony of a long workday, this book provides many chuckles, whilst also planting the seeds of inspiration for new ideas. The sharp, scathing wit of some of the quotees will elicit numerous knowing grins as you relate to their situation and you will empathise with them as you guiltily attribute their intented meanings towards others in your office.

We say: Few books of this kind actually manage to deliver on the promises they set out in their title, but the Biteback Dictionary of Humourous Business Quotations is one

The Biteback Dictionary of Humourous Business Quotations is published by Biteback Publishing, priced at £9.99, and is available as a paperback.

by Fred Metcalf Our verdict:

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29/05/2014 12:02

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Planning for Auto Enrolment Are you ready? As Auto Enrolment reaches the one million mark, many SME’s are now facing this new challenge and the additional workload it creates. esl and Friendly Pensions have together developed a complete auto enrolment solution which is simple, cost effective and efficient.

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29/05/2014 15:18

MONEY Funding expert


hen it comes to choosing a location for your business there are a number of considerations: costs; access to talent; proximity to customers and suppliers (especially for B2B companies), and access to capital. From an international standpoint, London has some unique advantages. Unlike the US, where New York is the financial centre, Washington the legal heartland and Silicon Valley the home of tech, London has all of these centres within one city. This leads to vast numbers of investors, legal firms, tech companies and other service providers being packed in tightly knit clusters. This cluster-effect has provided a deep pool of talent and fantastic networking and co-working opportunities, which has enabled mentoring and shared learning to accelerate the development of start-ups. However, London has two acute problems, both of which create inflationary cost pressures and will delay the “time to profitability” of fledgling companies, whilst depressing margins. The newspapers are full of house price inflation stories and the potential instability that it may bring to the financial market. The same is true of the commercial property market. For example, Tech Hub has been relocated from its base by Old Street roundabout in Shoreditch to make way for Derwent London’s ambitious new 17-floor, 270,000 square foot development - playfully dubbed the White Collar Factory. To deliver the returns investors in that development expect, the rents paid by tenants will need to be significantly higher, even as they try to retain some semblance of a start-up facade. Secondly, there is a real talent shortage in London for tech professionals. Despite groups such as the Tech London Advocates (TLA) Group

The London

CONUNDRUM Funding expert, Julian Smith considers what impact locating your business in London can have financially

driving the agenda for coding to be taught in schools and other academic institutions, it will take many years for those efforts to deliver results. These two aforementioned issues threaten to strangle the development of many growing businesses unless they are satisfactorily addressed. Outside London, there are centres of excellence that continue to thrive. The Cambridge cluster is world renowned for its development of scientific technology businesses, from the unique Abcam to the recently floated Horizon Discovery. Liverpool will this year host the International Festival of Business and, together with Manchester, has created a strong pool of talent in the North West. Scotland has its own entrepreneurial scene too

This creates inflationary cost pressures and will delay the “time to profitability” of fledgling companies

with some exciting companies emerging from both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Any business located outside London will have cost advantages, both in property costs and employee costs. Even if the business and customers are located outside London however, companies should still consider the benefits of accessing London. Given the size and importance of London on an international scale, there are events and networking opportunities not matched elsewhere across the UK. To stay at the forefront of any industry, it makes sense to participate and contribute to the debate in the capital city no matter where your business is based. Contact: www.thefundingexpert.co.uk Twitter: @lefundingexpert

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29/05/2014 12:38

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30/05/2014 13:21

MONEY Wind up business

Six steps to successfully winding up a business


here is such a huge stigma attached to a business ‘failing’ and often, it becomes something much bigger, more complicated and stressful than it needs to be. This doesn’t mean you aren’t a good business person, you’re ideas aren’t valid, or you business couldn’t be a success if things were done a little differently. It just means what you’ve got right now simply isn’t cutting it.

Jonathan Kettle is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of successful online businesses, TaxiCode. com and TaxiPriceCompare.co.uk. In the past, Jonathan was involved with a venture, which didn’t have the same bright prospects and so he made the decision to wind up the business. Here Jonathan provides tips for those facing the same dilemma; do you carry on, or is it time to call it a day? I think its fair to say that it happens to every business. Just about every business will, at some point, fail in some way or other. It doesn’t have to spell the end. In fact, many go on to re-emerge as newer, stronger businesses, which have a

greater focus on the things that make them money, and less on those that don’t. So, if you’re plodding along, feeling like something just isn’t right but don’t know what to do, here’s a few tips to help you move through this difficult phase:

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29/05/2014 12:40

MONEY Wind up business

Make sure you look after the people who looked after you.


Even if you close your eyes, start your new business the very next day. Only this time the problem is still there you will be a little bit wiser If there’s a problem, ignoring and much more experienced. it won’t make it go away. The best thing you can do is accept Don’t assume your it, so you can start to plan your creditors will be after next step. When you are too your blood entrenched in the struggle of As long as you have tried trying to find new of ways to your best to address your make your business work in its debts and not sucked all the current format, you are bogged money out of your company, down with negative thoughts. you have nothing to fear. A Once you accept it’s time to limited company means limited move on, you will see much more clearly what steps you need liability; it’s there to protect you from the company debt, as to take, and things will seem long as you have not taken on brighter and more positive. any debt personally. Once you know what your plan is going Don’t be afraid of forward, speak to people and let administrators them know what the situation Most people are petrified of is. They will generally be more administration companies, understanding than you expect. but believe it or not, they are there to help. Their initial Don’t take on unnecessary advice will be free, and you battles with multi-nationals will be surprised by what can Try not to get on the wrong side be achieved. Be 100% honest of the multi-nationals. If you with them; they have heard deal with big multi-nationals, be and seen every scenario, and careful, as often, they won’t play their experiences will help you by the rules, and if you get into through it. If you don’t have disagreements with them there many assets, you can probably will be little or nothing you can do. close your old business and




5 Treat your staff right

My advice would always be to pay your staff first. Make sure you look after the people who looked after you. If the company is going bust, the Government redundancy scheme will pay your staff any reducing and/or notice period money owing.

evaluate, plan 6 Stop, then move on

If you’re going to start a new company, make a list of everything you need to do, tick it off and keep track of what you’re doing. You might want to think about using new providers, but it all depends on the relationships you have had, and the circumstances you are in. Have a back up plan if the current provider decides they wont deal with you in the future. Contact: www.taxicode.com www.taxipricecompare.com

38 June 2014

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29/05/2014 12:40

P E E R - TO - P E E R B U S I N E S S F U N D I N G

Surprise me. What did the bank say? If your bank genuinely supports your business, consider yourself lucky. According to Harry Wilson, Banking Editor at The Telegraph* “half of all small businesses applying for a loan have been turned away by their bank”. If you need funding to capitalise on a precious opportunity or grow your business, call us at Freedman & Partners. We can help you secure the loan you need without the banks.

With direct access to independent lenders from the ThinCats Business Loan NetworkTM, we’re keen to meet you and learn about your business (if you’ve had no luck with the banks you’ll realise what a radical concept that is). QUICK, SIMPLE & TRANSPARENT We can assess your business and prepare your case to help ensure you receive full funding quickly and easily. We aren’t weighed down by rigid systems and have supportive lenders waiting to help you. With professional resources on tap, including accountants, lawyers and professional advisors, this really is a robust and easy solution that will give you and your business the lucky break it deserves.


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* www.telegraph.co.uk September 2013

23/04/2014 10:03


Mark Egginton Sales & Marketing Director Vyke Business

MOBILE VOIP IS READY FOR BUSINESS Consumer Mobile VoIP services like Skype, Viber, Vyke and WhatsApp are enjoying accelerating growth. Mark Egginton, sales & marketing director from Vyke, investigates why enterprise is rightly feeling left out.


outing calls over the internet is already common within enterprise. Most office telephone systems have been routing calls this way for many years. ‘Voice–Over-Internet-Protocol’ (VoIP) in business has not made the jump to mobile devices. Why? Consumer smartphone mobile VoIP (mVoIP) apps have been around for 10 years, with growth driven by low cost or free services. mVoIP adoption will grow to 1 billion users globally by 2018. It’s become commonplace to use apps to call or send messages, rather than use more costly mobile carrier services, accepting both parties need to have the same app, and both need internet connectivity is a price worth paying in return for ‘free’. It’s also possible to call ‘out’ to mobiles or landlines from your app, at significantly lower rates compared to mobile carriers, and also make calls when roaming abroad. mVoIP has come a long way over the last few years, but it’s fair to say using an app to call hasn’t always been a great experience. Latency caused conversations to become ‘out of sync’. The delay was caused by slow or unreliable internet connectivity, compounded by the

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time taken by early smartphones to process VoIP, and often resulted in a frustrating hang up. Jitter occurred when parts of a conversation were lost by poor internet connectivity or mobile data. Older 3G networks struggle to handle mVoIP bandwidth, especially when others are trying to connect at the same time. 3G data networks are not designed to provide continuous data, essential for a good calling experience. High Speed Internet. Broadband speeds have dramatically increased over the last few years with the continued global rollout of fibre. Over 70% of the UK now has access to over 30Mb broadband access. Wi-Fi hotspots are forecast to quadruple globally to 5.8m by 2015, with hotels leading the push with free Wi-Fi access. 4G Mobile Data. New, super fast, 4G mobile data networks are rolling out everywhere and offer true ‘broadband on the move’. Faster, widespread smartphones. It seems everyone has a smartphone these days, especially businesses users, opening up access to a multitude of different apps, with super fast quad-core

processors commonplace, reducing mVoIP latency experienced by their early predecessors. All these improvements contribute to a much better experience than ever before, with reduced latency and jitter, and reliable call quality now comparable to mobile carrier calls, but at a fraction of the cost, especially when calling abroad. So why has enterprise been slow to adopt mVoiP? The financial benefits are compelling. Domestic mobile rate plans are competitive but international call rates are both excessively expensive and highly profitable for mobile carriers, which is why many cost conscious businesses prevent employees making international calls from their mobiles, opting to encourage free PC based services or office landline instead, which may not be any cheaper than using a mobile. Limiting your workforce to a laptop or office phone to make international calls is not a productive use of their time. Vyke believes any employee should be able to use their mobile to call

29/05/2014 15:14


whoever they want, whenever they want, wherever they are, without any concern over cost. A possible solution to mobility is to extend your office system using a smartphone ‘soft phone’ app, however, upfront costs and licensing fees can be high, and international call rates are no less expensive than using the office phone. So it’s likely these types of mobile solutions will only appeal to larger corporations looking solely for increased productivity. Enterprise struggles to combine the concept of ‘Low Cost’ with ‘Business Standard’, but it is possible. App based mVoIP services can save up to 80% compared to mobile carrier international call tariffs, so represent an easy opportunity to reduce a chunk of indirect spend. mVoIP services are nongeographic and can be used when employees travel abroad, so no more roaming fees. mVoIP apps also offer interesting innovation potential. So which mVoIP services should you consider? Here lies the stumbling block. Most mVoIP services are designed for

TB33vykeadvertorial.indd 41

consumer use, not for enterprise. All involve direct individual relationships, therefore expensed calls, with no central control over how, or where, calls are made. Vyke understands mVoIP has great potential for use in business, so has developed the VykeBusiness solution to meet the specific needs of enterprise. Add any number of iOS, Android or Blackberry 7 smartphone devices to your VykeBusiness account to create your own company calling circle. Calls and Instant Messages within your circle are free anywhere in the world, when connected to Wi-Fi. Low cost international calls can also be made to any mobile or landline with call charges added to the central account. Your appointed administrator has a dashboard view of usage in real-time and can simply pay the company invoice at the end of each month. The app comes with a host of other useful features. Charges are transparent. There are no connection feeds, no set-up fees, no monthly license charges and no contractual commitments. Just pay for the calls you make. The administrator also sets the automated connectivity logic to suit

the businesses fiscal policy, so the employee just makes a call without any fuss. Vyke Business app complements, rather than competes with mobile carrier SIM service, so there’s no need to change SIM providers, which is a hassle for any business. For added security, all call data is protected by TLS encryption.

To start using Vyke Business today, visit www.vykebusiness.com or contact Mark Egginton, sales & marketing director at mark.egginton@vyke.com

29/05/2014 15:14

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29/05/2014 15:54

MONEY Retiring from business

It’s not all about the money How to sell your business and retire, while ensuring its legacy

Business owners can step into retirement confident their company will continue to prosper long after they’ve gone


elling on a business at retirement is often seen as the crystallisation of a lifetime’s work, but for many it is often not just about monetary gain, but also preserving their company’s legacy. For the post–war baby boom generation who benefited from the period of rapid growth in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the time has come to settle into a work-free life, whether it’s to spend more time on the golf course or the grandchildren, or just enjoy a well earned rest. And with the UK

economy growing at its fastest rate since the recession began in 2007, there has never been a better time to plan for the future and how to exit your business. However, selling on your lifetime’s work can be problematic. All too often, business owners face ‘transfer failure’, i.e. they are unable to find a suitable buyer, resulting in their firm going into liquidation or the employer delaying retirement. In 2011, The Corporate Finance Network revealed that more than 80,000 businesses in the UK with a turnover of

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29/05/2014 12:42

MONEY Retiring from business

Plan your exit strategy well in advance

less than £10 million run by over 60s, are wound up when they could have been sold on. This is nothing new. In 2004 the Department of Trade and Industry’s Small Business Service reported that 100,000 businesses a year close due to ‘transfer failure’. If you are unable to pass on your business to a family member, then chances are you may look to a business broker to administer a trade sale. Business brokers still operate in an unregulated market, and often take significant up front fees for writing the ‘sales document’ and marketing

activities, generating revenue and profit regardless of whether or not this effort results in a sale. Ultimately, you will rarely get a fair price for your business, and could have to work through an earn-out of three to five years. Of course, it is not all about the money. It is only natural to feel a sense of responsibility to your management and staff, some of whom will have worked loyally with you for many years, and the community your business has served economically, and in terms of employment. There is also every chance a trade sale will see your business sold to a competitor, or at least see a rival firm acquire information on finances, customer base or intellectual property, which could be used to its advantage during the marketing process. Any such takeover would likely result in redundancies and significant changes, which may not match the traditions, ethos, and foundations on which your business was built. Management buyouts (MBOs) are another option, but it has become increasingly difficult in recent years with banks cutting back on lending. This could mean your management team having to give their house up as security, or you raising the necessary money through a venture capitalist. The latter can put pressure on your business as the timescale of exit can be very tight, with the investors wanting to drive up the value of the business and sell it on in a short space of time. There are also the additional disadvantages of no immediate pay out and little support in assisting the management in running the company. Bearing all this in mind, it is therefore important to

plan your exit strategy well in advance, typically three to 10 years, depending on the size of the organisation. It has been suggested that business owners should think about how they will sell their company from the moment they start or take ownership, in order to attract buyers further down the line. Another key factor in preparing for sale is to ensure you have the right people in place, which again will help in finding a suitor, as well as retaining, or even enhancing, the company’s value. This can be achieved by reducing your role in the day-to-day running of the business, or hiring to fill skills gaps, which will both make for a smoother transition. In addition, it is important to undertake due diligence in terms of finance, to offer assurance to any potential buyer. Having a clearly defined growth strategy will also attract investors. As an alternative to traditional methods of exit, SG Berkshire has developed an innovative and ethical solution aimed at retiring vendors. Management Involved Buyout (MIBO) and Management Employee Involved Buyout (MEIBO) involves SG Berkshire taking a majority share of the company with the incumbent management team (and employees, in the case of MEIBO) taking significant equity. In doing so, the vendor is allowed to leave straightaway and the management continue to run the business. With investment secured from SG Berkshire and the management/employees, the business owner can step into retirement confident their company will continue to prosper long after they’ve gone. Contact: www.sgberkshire.com

44 June 2014

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27/05/2014 15:39 21/05/2014 17:02

Cloud Computing for Business

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TheinCloud help your business: The overhead in developing, maintaining and investing an IT will network thatthat is highly available and We have designed and implemented a secure and highly available platform delivers a range of secure is a challenge every business faces. By moving to a Cloud based solution you are removing services depending on your specific requirements. The Cloud will help your business: •these Improve flowwith by moving a monthly subscription service issues cash together costs oftoinvestment in infrastructure and maintenance, freeing you up •to focus Easeon of your access from any internet connection across multiple devices core business. • Improve cash flow by moving to a monthly subscription service • Improve scalability and flexibility of your IT • Ease of access from any internet connection across multiple devices •We have Increase revenue greaterasales, faster time-to-market and a more mature and simple designed andthrough implemented secure • Improve scalability and flexibility of your ITand highly available platform that delivers a range of to use application delivery channel services depending on your specific requirements. The Cloud will help business: • Increase revenue through greater sales, faster time-to-market and your a more mature and simple • You only pay for the services or infrastructure you require to use application delivery channel •• No issues withflow failure & associated downtime moving toinfrastructure a monthly subscription • Improve You only cash pay for thebyservices or you requireservice Ease of access from any internet connection •• No issues with failure & associated downtimeacross multiple devices We also store your and dataflexibility in the cloud andITprovide online back up. If we store your data for you, • can Improve scalability of your you’ll be ablerevenue to sharethrough and access data, more quickly, from multiple locations. This removes any •We can Increase greater sales, time-to-market and a more andfor simple also store your data in the cloud and faster provide online back up. 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For free legal guidance and to draft your own documents, for free, visit

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17/02/2014 17:22

MONEY Start-Up loans

A day in the Life This month, our Start-Up Loan recipient, Katie Sargent reveals a typical day running her peanut butter business, Utta Nutta

In Profile


I wake up at 6am every day and, truth is, very often my first waking thoughts are about peanut butter. Not just any old peanut butter. MY Utta Nutta peanut butter. I’m head-over-heels in love with my project and the product itself, so much so, I actually had to undergo a course of hypnosis in order to stop eating the stuff at a rate of knots! Sadly, this is true. Perhaps I am the Utta Nutta.

06:30 I wake my teenage son, George at 6.30, and together, George and I eat breakfast.

07:30 I begin to convert

what was, just now, a family home into a peanut butter emporium. It always strikes me how I am some kind of Clark Kent figure, one minute mother, the next a peanut butter impresario, the next, an art teacher. It also strikes me how much I love all these roles.


I begin the process of roasting the nuts - and this is art, not science. Some might say alchemy. The art is roasting the nuts to a point where they give up their incredible flavours. Unfortunately, this is a high risk process, the moment at which the magic occurs is a nano second before they burn. High stakes!

Entrepreneur: Katie Sargent Business: Utta Nutta Peanut Butter Concept: Peanut butter manufacturing Start-Up Loan: £5000

10:30 My Rolls Royce

milling machine, hot from the South of France, purrs into action and again, timing is everything. Got to mill those little devils before they cool off, or all is lost.

11:30 Start to fill the jars

by piping the warm butter into each jar individually. I am developing biceps more akin to Popeye or Geoff Capes!

12:30 Label the jars by

hand. Anyone ever tried this? Even half of one degree off square makes the jar look tipsy. I don’t enjoy this part.

14:00 Load my cavernous

Mini with my prized possessions, and off I go to deliver to my lovely customers. And they are lovely. They have been so appreciative of my product and have been really supportive. I get repeat orders on a regular basis and I am so proud of this one thing alone.

14:30 Have tea with Annie

of Bloggo, and chew the fat about deli world and peanut land. Discuss ever-increasing demand for Utta Nutta, how this demand is coming from further and further afield, and worry about how to meet this demand, maintain quality and deliver!

16:00 Convert my peanut

lab back into some semblance of a home. I quite like my double, even triple life, but very soon now Utta Nutta is going to dictate terms to these other lives. I am quietly looking forward to this day.

17:30 My sunny George

comes barrelling through the door. He brings me back to earth and I begin to unwind, cook a big supper, visit my bonkers-butlovely neighbours, who always try to foist a glass of wine upon me. Usually they succeed.

21:00 An episode of Game of Thrones. Bliss...

22:30 Lights out and off

to the land of nod dreaming of peanutzzzzzzzzzzz. The Start-Up Loans Company is a Government-backed scheme that provides funding and mentoring for budding entrepreneurs to help their business succeed. With the help of this initiative, more than 30 new businesses are started daily in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Contact: www.startuploans.co.uk talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 49

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30/05/2014 13:39

MONEY Simplify the Law


Six ways to increase your profit - legally Simon Hetherington leads the legal author team for simplifythelaw.co.uk, a company that helps SMEs solve legal issues without lawyers. Here, he explains the protections that arise for consumers who deal with businesses, and the steps you need to take to make sure you’re compliant


ast month we talked about how to get a contract that works for you. This month we look at the particular considerations that arise when your customers are consumers.

• Be clear – and free from legal jargon. • Make prominent any terms that are detrimental to the consumer. • Not contain any terms which contravene the provisions of consumer protection legislation.

WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT CONTRACTS WITH CONSUMERS? The first thing to remember is that at the heart of contracts between businesses and consumers lies the principle of ‘fairness’. The extra regulation that governs consumer contracts is designed to make sure that there is no imbalance in the rights of the parties to the detriment of the consumer – particularly in standard form contracts. As more businesses – even small ones – deal with consumers remotely, it is increasingly the case that there is no negotiation possible in the formation of a contract. You will have to remember that even if your business is small and operating out of domestic premises, you are subject to the rules about dealing with consumers. To follow, you will find some useful guidance on how to manage a website through which your consumer dealings might take place.Whether online or otherwise, contracts with consumers should:

Fair commercial practices are essential when contracting with consumers

CONSUMER TERMS AND CONDITIONS Consumer protection legislation – especially the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 – sets out the terms (or kinds of terms) which are not permissible in contracts with consumers. Some apply to all contracts with consumers, and others apply only to terms that have not been individually negotiated. This means that standard terms and conditions need to be carefully drafted, as it is unlikely that a consumer will be able to negotiate these. As a general guide (and not an exhaustive list), you should give careful consideration to any provision which may: • Limit or exclude your liability to a consumer. • Have a detrimental effect on the consumer. • Impose disproportionate penalties or unreasonable deadlines on consumers. • Give you discretion to change the contract without the consumer’s consent.

• Give you a significantly more advantageous position than the consumer under the contract. If your contract includes provisions, which create a significant imbalance in the rights of the parties to the detriment of the consumer, consider whether they comply with the various consumer protection regulations. Seek independent legal advice if you are unsure, as such provisions may be unenforceable if included in a contract. Or read the Government advice on the regulations.


Fair commercial practices are essential when contracting with consumers. These would typically include giving accurate and complete information about your product or service. The key point is that it might be unfair if the consumer is not able to make an informed decision. Clearly, practices which involve harassing or coercing a consumer to commit to a purchase would be unfair; practices which could be deemed to be aggressive can be criminal offences. The list of practices which are regarded as unfair in all circumstances is extensive. They do not relate only to specific dealings that you have with a particular consumer, but extend to the claims you make in your advertising, general statements about price, or endorsements, giving misleading impressions as to the obligations that a consumer may be under, visits to people’s

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MONEY Simplify the Law

homes, advertising targeted at children, and plenty more. You should have systems in place to reduce the likelihood of falling foul of these provisions. For example: • Policy manuals. • Training records and materials. • An audit trail. The existence of these may give you some protection if you are accused of an offence. But the safest course is to consider whether a third party would regard a practice as fair to the consumer or consumers generally, and to make sure you and your staff act accordingly.

DISTANCE SELLING When you sell to consumers at a distance, or if you enter into contracts or provide services online to consumers, you must supply specific information to the consumer. ‘Distance selling’ is where the supplier and the consumer are not physically in the same place. It includes selling through a catalogue and on the ‘phone. The information you need to provide to the consumer includes: • The straightforward contact information for your business. • Registered details. • VAT numbers etc. However, you also need to include information about more complex issues such as: • How the contract is to be formed. • Pricing. • The right to cancel, and returns/replacement policies. The information you need to supply also differs according to how you are selling. You can use our drafting tool at SimplifytheLaw.co.uk to create consumer terms that reflect how you trade.

WHAT ABOUT TRADING VIA A WEBSITE? As online shopping and purchasing of services becomes the first choice for many consumers, businesses which build and operate websites become exposed to legal and commercial risks. The law is

designed to protect both you and your users. Managing website risk is a twofold strategy: it protects you against the sanctions to which you may be liable – which in turn risk your time, money and reputation. Moreover, you need to protect the valuable IP assets that you have. If you trade through the website, the terms upon which you trade will need to be clear and enforceable. Where permitted, you should consider limiting your liability to users of the information or services you provide. In setting up and designing your website, you should make sure you think about the following general points – in addition to any specific considerations that your own industry raises: • The collection and use of personal information (data protection). • Displaying company information. • Disabled access. • Consumer protection (including considerations specific to distance selling). • Advertising standards. • Specific terms of use relevant to the website. Draft your own website terms and conditions using the drafting tool at Simplify the Law.

DATA PROTECTION Dealing with consumers almost always involves processing personal data. The definition of “personal data” is very wide, as is the definition of “process”. At its most basic, handling information which identifies a person amounts to processing personal data about them; you must be very careful about doing so, and mindful of your legal responsibilities and the rights that those individuals (“data subjects”) have. Generally you are not permitted to retain personal data for longer than the time you need it for the particular dealing with them. And remember – data is not just electronic information. Paper records are included, too.

CONSUMER CONTRACTS CHECKLIST To make sure your dealings with consumers are fair and effective, ask yourself the following questions: 1 Do we have a company policy for dealing with consumers? 2 Are staff familiar with this policy? 3 Do we give consumers an opportunity to negotiate terms of a deal? 4 If not, would a neutral third party regard my standard terms and conditions as fair? 5 Are all my commercial practices fair? 6 Are we engaged in distance selling? 7 Do we comply with distance selling requirements? 8 Do we have a website that has: • Clear terms of use? • Clear pricing? • Contact details? • Returns and cancellations information? 9 Do we have a data protection policy? 10 Are the relevant staff trained in the handling of personal data? If you know the answer to these questions, and it’s ‘Yes’ in each case, your approach to dealing with consumers is on the right track. If you’re not sure, it’s really important that you get up to speed. The sanctions for getting dealings with consumers wrong can be heavy and damaging. And then visit www.simplifythelaw.co.uk to solve more legal issues for yourself, draft some of the essential documents that you need, and avoid the expense of lawyers’ fees.

And these obligations extend, incidentally, to suppliers of yours who are individuals. It’s a good plan to have data protection and privacy policies, and to train your staff in handling personal information. You can find out more for free at Simplify the Law. Traders must display Terms of Use (sometimes called an acceptable use policy) to ensure that users know what they can, and cannot do, with the site. Make sure that the commercial terms for ordering goods and services online comply with relevant consumer regulations and form an enforceable contract. Next month we will look at how to deliver on the deal, managing the data, working with software and avoiding disputes.

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29/05/2014 16:01

STRATEGY The user experience

Make your brand 3D, says Rich With, creative director of The Grow Creative Company, and you’ll be as happy as a room without a roof


hen working on web platforms, we often talk about user experience, or UX as we call it in the trade. It’s a buzz phrase that is bandied around quite freely often in a similar way to the misuse of “branding”. Everyone says you’ve got to use it, but few have a clear idea of what it really is. Although the reality of user experience is far more straight forward than descriptions of branding (it’s simply the way in which visitors to your website experience your site), the aim is to provide people with a clear and concise experience, and give them what they want, when they want it, in the most attractive and functional way. I recently gave a talk where I argued that companies need to look to creating an holistic brand experience for their customers. Letting them interact with the products and services in ways they previously have never thought about can make the

Perfecting the user experience

user experience a threedimensional process, whereby companies relinquish some of the control of their brand ideals and let customers shape the company externally. And therein lies the confusion. It’s often difficult trying to convey to a “suit” how you can manifest their brand’s experience on traditional and non-traditional platforms. Often it’s a simple thing, such as the number of steps it takes someone from seeing your product to being able to buy it (hint: as few as possible), or it’s more esoteric, such as providing the client with the ability to rave to their friends about how cool your product or service is. Imagine the pitch meeting where Pharrell Williams told executives there was going to be a 24-hour music video of “Happy” and most of it wouldn’t be of him. The user experience of the brand is no longer just centric to the website. It needs to be

The user experience of the brand should no longer just be centric to the website

considered across the entire sales cycle, from the moment they discover your company (whether through your website or a flyer in your local newsagent’s window), to the way you interact with them via social media. It is even in the way in which your product is delivered, from the packaging to the freebies, and so on. As small companies, we shouldn’t dismiss this process as something only big companies do; we should seek to emulate them and take a lead from them. Great examples are Zappos, with their legendary customer service and Moo.com with their cute products. The way they take a simple enquiry and turn it into a sale, and then convert that sale into a client who becomes a fan, who then tells everyone they meet how fabulous your brand is, truly is superb. So here’s to creating a user experience that will really give your clients something to get happy about. Contact: www.justgro.co

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29/05/2014 13:02

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29/05/2014 17:22

STRATEGY Adam Caplan

chapter 2: The Salesperson’s perfect day Sales coach, Adam Caplan reveals a snippet of his book, Born To Sell – The Natural Sales Method


icture this: You wake up, full of excitement for the day ahead. You quickly dress in your gym attire, your work clothes are already in the car because you prepared the night before. You leave your home, the home you’re so satisfied with as your ongoing sales efforts meant you and your family are living in safety, security and happiness. It doesn’t matter if it’s a house, a semi-detached, a flat, etc. It’s the home you wanted. You start up your car, the car you’re so happy with as you bought it with a recent bonus earned from your efforts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flashy Ferrari, a big expensive Range Rover, Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, it’s not important what the car is, what’s important is that it’s the car YOU wanted. You drive to the gym, it’s on the way to work, it’s early, there’s no traffic. You’re still a bit sleepy but getting ready for the day. It’s early. There are few road users. At the gym you swim, run or workout followed by a sauna. Doesn’t matter exactly how you work out, you’re getting ready for the day in a positive way. You shower and get ready for work, leaving the gym highly energised and full of positive motivation. You get to the office early despite your visit to the gym, perhaps picking up an espresso or smoothie on the way. Perhaps you have a Nespresso machine in the office. You spend some time planning your day ahead and then you start making that day happen. You call customers. The telephone is a mighty tool for ALL salespeople and you are extremely adept at using it to it’s full potential. You have no fear of the phone. It’s your favourite tool and you wield it like an expert. Within ten minutes you’re in the swing and talking to customers.

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STRATEGY Adam Caplan

You know exactly what to say to them, how to react to every situation, you are the master of the call. You make the day’s target (of sales, appointments, leads, whatever your target of the day was) by lunchtime. This was handy as you’ve been able to make a face-to-face appointment with a client for that afternoon. You lunch healthily, an energy giving lunch that doesn’t leave you groggy all afternoon. This is important as you’re off to see a potential lucrative prospect. You arrive at the prospect’s offices in good time, confident with just a little buzz of anticipation to give you that important edge in the meeting. Whilst you’re waiting you visualise a positive meeting going exactly how you want it to go. You enter the meeting. It goes exactly as you wanted it to go, you leave with the client moving your relationships with their company on to the next stage. Everybody is delighted. You drive back to the office, feeling on top of the world. Which is a standard day for you, if you’re being completely honest. When you get back to the office, you update your paperwork, make some extra calls to set tomorrow up nicely and before you know it, everybody else is sloping off home. You’re not quite finished as you’ve got your plan for tomorrow to write up. It doesn’t take long and you choose to leave the office, extremely pleased with your day and already looking forward to the next one. The drive home is pleasant, even if the traffic is heavy, as you are reviewing the client meeting that went the way you expected. Let’s be honest, you’re in comfort and listening to whatever music meets your mood. It’s likely to be uplifting and positive, it’s the soundtrack to your life after all. Everything in your life happens as you want it to happen, you have everything you need, you have lots you still want to have and enjoy and you are well on the way to achieving this and all of your goals. Your relationships with everyone at work and at home are superb, everyone treats everybody else well and you are loved and loving. You are in control, happy, secure and have an unbridled enthusiasm for your existence. You just know that there can’t be many happier people than you are at that precise moment. Except you, yesterday, the previous day and probably the you’s every day in the future as well. It’s a blessed life because the ‘salesperson’s perfect day’ is every day. As you read this you might be thinking that this person doesn’t exist. I can tell you that they do. You might think that this can’t relate to you and that you couldn’t be that person. I can tell you that you could be. You might think that people just can’t be that fortunate that everything in their life is perfect. Perfect job, perfect money, perfect friends and loved ones, perfect customers and perfect motivation. I have to ask you… Why not? Furthermore, why not you? If you’ve read the ‘salesperson’s perfect day’ and thought “That’s the sort of day I want to have, then keep reading this serialization of my next book, Born To Sell. Because the ‘Born To Sell salesperson’s day’ is like this every day. I know as my days are like that. Every single day!

Next month we will look at Adding An Absolutely Amazing Attitude.

Adam Caplan runs Ups Training, a sales training and assessment business that specialises in training, assessing and developing salespeople.  56 June 2014

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29/05/2014 17:33

STRATEGY Avoiding debt

Fighting the tide


unning a successful business is challenging, it’s a marathon – not a sprint. Planning ahead to avoid future problems, or at least minimise their impact, can mean the difference between success or failure. Cash flow is the oil in the business engine and keeping a tight control on when income is due, when payments have to be made, understanding what might go against you, and having a contingency plan can help you to avoid business debt leading to insolvency. The key starting point is to produce a cash flow forecast for at least six months in advance. Committing this information to paper (or a spreadsheet) adds reality to your thinking and gives you a clear idea of when money is coming in and going out of the business. If your numbers don’t look very pretty, don’t start trying to find excuses or fiddle the figures. Be realistic, and don’t be afraid to admit a problem. By seeking professional help from the right advisor at the earliest opportunity, you will probably be able to find a solution to overcome the problem. Not seeking advice and pretending the problem doesn’t exist is where most businesses fall down. However there are a few simple things that you can do for yourself to avoid a cash flow problem:

INVOICE EFFICIENTLY Often, small businesses suffer business debt from overdue or unpaid invoices. Bizarrely, some are so disorganised they even fail to invoice at all! By invoicing immediately the work is complete or goods supplied, you can avoid this situation, which is largely brought about by not keeping up with the paperwork and moving on to the next customer before invoicing the current one. Often, sales invoicing by a small business is still done on paper and sent by post, which creates delays in itself. Taking time to research and provide an initial financial investment into an automated system can create a seamless, more costeffective invoicing process. As a very basic step, setting up an invoice template on your computer and sending invoices by email avoids any ‘lost in the post’ excuses. It also provides a complete record of the invoice, when it was sent, and even when it was opened, which will help to make sure you get paid promptly. If cash flow is a limiting factor that hinders your business, you could consider building a payment process that rewards early payment. Discounts for prompt payment can be built into your pricing structure, and conversely, you can emphasise penalties for late payments. If handled sensibly and with some thought, you can effectively

train your customers to adhere to your payment requirements. Most customers will want to take advantage of the discount and sometimes this ‘carrot’ approach is a lot simpler to implement than the ‘stick’ of trying to collect the money once it is already overdue.

NEGOTIATE WITH YOUR CREDITORS If your business is suffering more than just initial cash flow problems, all is not lost

Sometimes this ‘carrot’ approach is a lot simpler than the ‘stick’ of trying to collect overdue monies

If you are suffering from cash flow problems despite your best efforts, or perhaps as a result of the nature of your business with high up-front costs and long delays before payment is received, then you may need to start negotiating delayed payments with your suppliers to ensure the business doesn’t spiral out of control into an insolvent situation. At the end of the day, all creditors will want to be paid to prevent their own business debt problems, and most will be willing to work together with you to ensure this happens. In some cases you can agree to skip payments in quieter months, which particularly suits those operating a seasonal business. One of the most common pitfalls will be struggling to pay HMRC VAT and PAYE arrears. It is well documented that HMRC is not the most lenient of creditors, so, to stay out of debt and avoid a possible winding up order, an advisor can help you to negotiate a ‘Time to Pay Agreement’, spreading your arrears over a longer period.

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STRATEGY Avoiding debt

Managing Director of Cashsolv, Carl Faulds, gives us his top tips for keeping business debt at bay

INTRODUCE A LINE OF CREDIT Sometimes it is not possible to anticipate a future cash flow problem; perhaps a vehicle breaks down, you lose a major customer, suffer a bad debt, or even win a significant contract that requires more stock or production costs to be incurred up front. Used sensibly, short term business loans can help in this situation, providing a quick injection of cash to overcome an unexpected situation. If you anticipate struggling with payments from customers, then invoice factoring and discounting are alternative options. This financing method provides up to 85% of your invoice value immediately, to be repaid when the debt is collected from the customer by you or the lender.

WRITE OFF UP TO 75% OF YOUR BUSINESS DEBT Finally, if your business is suffering more than just initial cash flow problems, has built up unaffordable debt and you fear insolvency, all is not lost. A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) can help a viable business overcome historical debt problems and provide breathing space. It is a debt management solution, with up to 75% of your unaffordable debts being written off. Numerous companies have benefited from implementing a CVA and gone on to build a prosperous future free from business debt.

Carl is managing director of Cashsolv, whose services help businesses resolve cash flow problems in a way that causes minimal business disruption and gives the best chance of future success. Contact: cashsolv.co.uk

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STRATEGY Navigating London

Day tripper A guide to getting into, around, and out of London on business


hether it’s a quick business meeting in Central London or a three-day stayaway for an industry event, non-natives can find navigating the Capital a daunting experience, so we’ve put together a series of tips to help you get the most out of your visit – however short.

JOURNEY PLANNING It may sound simple but, if you’re not familiar with London’s geography, plan your journey before you book meetings rather than just before you set off. If you’re scheduling three or four meetings during the day, then you need to ensure you’re not criss-crossing back and forth across the city, wasting time, money and energy. If time allows, book the furthest away first, and work back towards your hotel or departure point – and always

leave enough time for unforeseen disruptions to travel plans. Pre-book train tickets (including tube and bus elements) to save on standard fares, and travel outside of peak times. The difference in cost can be surprising. Maps are readily available to download from Transport For London’s (TFL) website www.tfl.gov.uk - which show everything from tube, DLR and National Rail stations to bus routes and cycle hire points.

BUSES GO THERE According to Transport for London, there are now 2.4 billion individual journeys undertaken annually on London’s buses, and the numbers have been growing year-on-year since 1959. A recent study shows that the Capital’s bus stops tend to be less than 120m from 97% of users’ destinations, so hopping on a big red Routemaster will save time, shoe leather, and

cash for most journeys. As Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “Buses play a massively important role in keeping London moving, ferrying huge numbers of people around every day. Without the efficient movement of people that our network allows, London simply wouldn’t function as smoothly as it does.” A point to note, however – from 6 July, all London buses will be cash-free, so don’t wait at the bus stop jingling a pocket full of change; it’ll leave you red-faced and walking. Pre-paid Oyster cards or concessionary tickets are taking over.

TUBE ACCESSIBILITY “Mind the gap” is a phrase that London’s commuters hear countless times a day and, for the most part, ignore. But for the less agile, that gap can be a real impediment to travel. So it’s good to know that trains across the entire network are

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Picture: Bambax/Shutterstock.com

Navigating London

“Mind the gap” is a phrase that London’s commuters hear countless times a day and, for the most part, ignore

PAYING FOR THE PLEASURE A pilot scheme has been introduced to provide contactless payments for passengers using London Underground and rail networks. Around 5,000 passengers are expected to take part in the project later this year. Payments will be made using debit or credit cards, with users simply touching them against a reader. TFL plans to allow users to view their journey history and fares paid, as well as being able to request refunds, online. In the meantime, the simplest way to pay for all public transport in and around London is with an Oyster card. The system allows the user to top up with credit for travel on buses,

tubes, trams, DLR and National Rail services throughout London. It’s also price capped, so reach your daily limit and all further travel that day is free!


Picture: Padmayogini/Shutterstock.com

going to be easier and safer to access from this month, with the addition of bridge-style ramps, which will effectively close the void between the train and the platform. The roll out begins on the Jubilee line - at Kilburn, Stanmore and Wembley Park - with more stations to follow throughout the summer. Isabel Dedring, deputy Mayor for Transport commented: “We’ve been determined to create a ramp, which works at those tricky stations where there is a gap and step down from platform to train. This innovative design is a UK first, and will make a real contribution to boosting accessibility - opening up more Tube stations to more people.”

MESSING ABOUT ON THE RIVER …Or over it, if you’ve a head for heights, by making use of the Emirates Air Line cable car, a 1.1km line, which traverses the Thames from Greenwich Peninsula (beside the O2) to Royal Victoria Dock. Alternatively - and more sedately – take the Thames Clipper River Bus, which plies its trade from St George Wharf, Vauxhall to Greenwich and Woolwich, or west to Putney, departing every 20 minutes. Both modes of transport are free for one trip with the purchase of a pre-loaded visitor Oyster card too.

A to B quickly and cheaply. For intrepid cyclists, simply find the nearest docking station terminal, pay for your period of hire (of up to 30 minutes), using a debit or credit card, and take to the streets. Be aware that the bike release code provided when you pay is only valid for 10 minutes, so don’t linger once you’ve booked. Lights come on automatically, and bikes should all come with good tyres, brakes and a bell. A word of caution however – if you’re unused to riding through busy city streets, it may be worth considering a less energetic mode of transport. Few out-of-towners would consider driving into the city, but in case you feel the need to, do remember you’ll be liable to pay the daily Congestion Charge if you enter specific zones. A map of the area covered by the charge is available online at TFL’s website. The cost is £10 per day if paid in advance or on the day of travel, and £12 if you pay the following working day. Payments can be made online, by SMS, phone or by post. Free passage is offered before 7.00am, after 6.00pm, on weekends and public holidays, as well as the period from 25 December to 1 January, inclusive. For more information on travel throughout London, visit www.tfl.gov.uk

Navigating London: fun facts • 2.4 billion individual journeys are undertaken annually on London’s buses. • Tuesday, 29 April saw the highest number of buses operating on the city’s roads since 1953 – a record 7,961 vehicles.


• The Emirates Air Line cable car, which traverses the Thames from Greenwich Peninsula (beside the O2) to Royal Victoria Dock, is a massive 1.1km long!

Or to give it the correct name, Barclays Cycle Hire, is a quick and easy way to get from

• The famous “Boris’ Bikes” are actually called Barclays Cycle Hire.

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STRATEGY Powwownow

London Tube strikes an unnecessary impact

ON BUSINESS The Federation of Small Businesses estimated that the London tube strike in April 2014 cost small businesses about £600 million in lost working hours, business and productivity. Its estimate of the financial impact of the strike was based on a poll of its members that found businesses took a hit of about £1,297 each, due to cancelled meetings, staff absences, and difficulty transporting good and services.

Jacqui Keep from leading free conference call provider, Powwownow discusses why these costs could - and should - have been avoided by simply having a flexible working plan in place


here is no longer a need to cancel meetings and struggle getting into the office, with the simple and easy-to-use technology that is now available to businesses, remote working is no longer a ‘nice to have’. Many business people can work from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. In our 2012 Smarter Working survey, we found that 70% of SMEs would rather video conference than travel to meetings. Video conferencing gives you the luxury of being able to still visually engage with your audience, without the hassle and time wasting of travelling to meetings. That time saved goes back into the business’ bottom line. Obviously we are aware that not all job roles lend themselves to remote working. Shop assistants for example need to be in store, and so will have to travel. However, when the city is held to ransom by tube strikes, as it has been twice already this year, if all those businesses that could work remotely, did, the

The Government plans to extend the option of flexible working to all employees

strain impacted on running the system would be greatly reduced, allowing those that absolutely have to get to their place of work a much less stressful journey. The way in which we work is definitely in a switch-change at the moment, as businesses look for smarter ways to operate. As technology continually develops to allow us to be more mobile in our approach to work, having multiple working environments will likely to become common practice. It might mean that people work in offices as well as at home, and in third spaces when on the move. We aren’t saying that people should never leave their homes and work completely virtually, but using technology to your advantage means, as a business, you can stay one step ahead of the competition, being switched on as and when you need to, rather than being forced to stick to the 9-5 archaic way of working. Powwownow has noticed an increase in demand for its services over the past few years, with increased growth

year on year. People are looking for different ways to collaborate with each other, and we have noticed an increase in demand for our services, not just audio services, but our collaboration solutions and video conferencing solutions. Businesses are looking for ways to save money and time, and want to start to work smarter. The Government’s plans to extend the option of flexible working to all employees, rather than just those who are responsible for bringing up a child or carers of adults, look set to be introduced this year. This widening of Government regulation will be interesting to watch, to see if the trend of remote working continues to grow, and how many employers are prepared to get on board with this approach to working. It would certainly help those that absolutely need to travel the next time the unions decide to strike, and London is forced to a standstill. Contact: www.powwownow.co.uk

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STRATEGY London start-ups

To push for growth, get a bigger office than you initially need, because it will force you to take risks and fill those desks as quickly as possible


NAME: CONTAINERVILLE 1 WHERE: Regent’s Canal COST: Desks from £320 per month CONTACT: www.estateoffice.com/ containerville

WHY: “Instead of thinking small,

Choosing the first home for your business can be a daunting task. For London-based start-ups, we’ve just made it that little bit easier


erhaps one of the biggest challenges many start-up entrepreneurs face is knowing when to make the leap from home office to furnished premises. There is so much to consider - whether it be questions about floor space, cost, or perhaps most importantly, location? Thankfully for the London-based start-up, there

are a plethora of options available, but this creates a conundrum in itself and it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice. So here at Talk Business we’ve put together a selection of some of the most innovative and highly sought-after hubs for the business that is just venturing out into the big wide world of office space.

always strive to do more and grow. You’ve got to think big: if you think about just surviving, you’ll be selflimiting your growth. To push for growth, get a bigger office than the one you initially need, because it will force you to take risks and fill those desks as quickly as possible,” explains Adam Ludwin of digital advertising start-up, Captify. An innovative project, ContainerVille sees 30 storage containers put together to form a vibrant hub close to Shoreditch and Hackney. Providing ample options for growth, you can start with a desk from just £320 per month, and then expand into a whole container for £1200p/m, giving your business the flexibility to branch out.


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STRATEGY London start-ups

Signing a lease today is sometimes regarded in the same way as a marriage commitment – how do you get out of it if things change drastically?



2 NAME: THE BRENTANO SUITE WHERE: Hendon COST: Desks from £495+VAT per month (all inclusive) CONTACT: www.thebrentano suite.co.uk WHY: Conveniently located for the M1 at Brent Cross Gardens in Hendon, The Brentano Suite offers all sizes of office from single-desk rooms to fully furnished spaces for up to six people perfect for the growing small business. As CEO, Stephen Spitz says, “Signing a lease today is sometimes regarded in the same way as a marriage commitment – how do you get out of it if things change drastically? This short term commitment strategy is a very strong trend in the business world that seems to mirror what is going on in the domestic market, where people now prefer to rent rather than buy, hence the demand for serviced offices.” The Brentano Suite is the perfect solution for North London SMEs looking to make that short-term commitment until they become the big fish in a small pond.


NAME: HUCKLETREE 3 WHERE: Shoreditch COST: £35 per day PAYG CONTACT: www.huckletree.com WHY: What makes this chic space really stand out from the crowd is the incredible flexibility it presents for those on the road who need a place to rest their head(sets). Desks can be hired on a pay-as-you-go basis from just £35 a day, meaning it offers the utmost in convenience for start-ups, with less commitment than a Katy Price marriage proposal. Right now you can even try it out for a day totally free by contacting them on Twitter @huckletree, giving you a feel for the workspace before you make any longer-term commitments. Based in Clerkenwell, on the doorstep of East London’s Tech City, Huckletree is a creative co-working space and collaborative ecosystem built around a network of innovative start-ups, entrepreneurs and freelancers. As well as all of this Huckletree is perfect for anyone with a green conscience, being London’s first SKA-certified co-working space, meaning it’s 100% eco-friendly.




www.citystarters.co.uk/hangout WHY: This novel idea is a City University London initiative, which provides free working space to current students and graduates less than two years removed from the university. It is also available at very cheap rates to entrepreneurs (preferably with a tech background), that are looking to get involved somewhere with a vibrant, energetic atmosphere. Entrepreneurs can also get access to interns to help with their work, and in return they can offer support and guidance to students. Who knows, perhaps you may even find your next great staff member working alongside you? Manager of The Hangout, Parveen Dhanda, explains the reasons for setting up the scheme, saying: “ It provides an unrivalled opportunity for entrepreneurs and talented students to work together, learn, and connect. Many of the students are using the space provided to get their own start-ups off the ground, and being in such close proximity to entrepreneurs and others in industry creates a real atmosphere of learning and support for the next generation of business owners.”



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STRATEGY The sales doctor

The sales DOCTOR


What’s the best way of inspiring a new starter to get away from reading the pitch word-for-word, and get some small talk/banter into the conversation?

This is a challenge for many people new to sales, as the pitch becomes their comfort blanket. So there are a couple ways to inspire and teach  them to get away from reading the script. Firstly, I would encourage them to find one thing out about the person they are calling, which will force them to ask questions. Secondly, I would get them to use a technique called ‘tag on’ questioning. As an example, if I was to say, ‘That’s not in my top three  priorities right now’, my tag on would be, ‘So what are in your top three priorities at present?’ If the response was, ‘I’m looking at cutting costs at present’, I could respond with, ‘What activities are you undertaking to cut costs?’ This technique enables the sales person to create a natural, flowing conversation without having to read the questions or the script.

Another technique is the ‘statement question’. To make it more conversational and less of an interrogation, you make a statement prior to some of the open questions you ask. So, I may say something like, ‘I always struggle with tasks when there are no urgent deadlines in place, how do you go about doing this?’ A good suggestion to help new starters is to have a list of all the open questions up on a poster, where it’s visible to them - ‘how, what, why, where, when, who, which’. This should encourage them to ask open questions and have real conversations, as opposed to a scripted questionnaire. My finally tip to relax them and ensure they don’t just stick to the script is to play a game - the first person to name a song title within the call. This can be good fun and helps the sales person relax and get into a real conversation - ‘Guess that’s why they call it the blues’ was my best achievement on a sales call!

Tony Morris is the director of Sales Doctor, a sales training company based in Covent Garden, London. He is also the author of Coffee’s for Closers, a sales book with techniques you can put into practice. Contact: www.wedosalestraining.com

NEED A DIAGNOSIS? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ’FAO the sales doctor’: editor@talk businessmagazine.co.uk

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MARKETING Kimberly Davis

Marketing on a SHOESTRING


eople often ask me, “What’s the best marketing tool?” What they really want to know is, “What is the one miracle cure to all of my business and cashflow challenges?” My answer… there is none. If there were one magic solution that could instantly skyrocket your business from zero to success overnight, I can assure you, we would all be doing it. The truth is that no one area of marketing can work on it’s own. While there are areas that are more important than others, they key is finding the most vital areas, and ensuring they work in perfect harmony with one another. It’s like asking, “What is the most important part of your body to keep you alive?” There is no one vital organ that can do everything. You must have a brain, heart, etc., and all of these must work seamlessly with one another in order to keep you alive and functioning. The same is true with marketing. If you are truly marketing on a shoestring, than here are a few tips to keep in mind:

INVEST PROPERLY Whether you have £500 or £5,000,000 to spend on marketing, the key is always to ensure that every penny you spend, makes you two or more pennies back. Marketing should be

Kimberly Davis , founder of Sasparilla Marketing, on how to make the most of your marketing with a limited budget nothing. There are more effective marketing tools you can and should be using to deliver the results you are looking for.

an investment, with a clear return, not an expense. Don’t take uncalculated risks.

DON’T CUT CORNERS You get what you pay for. “Free” marketing or using favours, is almost certain to cost considerably more in time, money, and stress. It’s much harder to go back and correct mistakes. You’re better off finding the funds and doing it properly from the beginning, with professionals.

GET A SYSTEM You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, or go on a journey without a map. So why would you spend money on marketing without a clear guide to get you from where you are now to where you want to be? You need a proven system that can help you link and convert marketing into sales, quickly and easily.


You need a proven system that can help you link and convert marketing into sales quickly and easily

80% of marketing is wasted. Why? Because marketing is not a regulated industry, and it’s filled with unethical “cowboys” that I call “The Flash, Fluff, and Fakers”. You need to find someone you trust. You need someone who understands how to give your marketing, function, not just create art for art’s sake. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself bankrupt in no time.

FORGET WHAT YOU KNOW There are more areas of marketing that waste money, than make money. Things that you think will bring you money, such as newsletters, blogs, etc. are all working against you. Yes, they increase your SEO, but the amount of sales you get off the back of them will be minimal to

To learn more about how to make money from your marketing, please visit www.sarsaparillamarketing. com, or call 02071479960.

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GET YOUR BUSINESS OFF TO A FLYING START Take advantage of a set of brand packages, created by a leading design agency, especially for start-ups A professionally designed logo should be high on the shopping list of any new business. It should be thought of as an investment and adequate funding set aside as part of your business plan. When your new venture has become established and is successful your brand mark will be an invaluable asset in itself and it’s vital that you own the copyright and that your design is unique.

At Logo Marketing and Design we start by understanding your business - what makes it special, how you will differentiate it from the competition, how you see it growing and who’ll be buying its products or services. You’ll have a dedicated account manager and we’ll work with you through a series of concept and development stages using screen sharing, conference calls and emails to arrive at one great design solution.

But a well-designed logo is just the start… it will form the cornerstone of your visual identity, helping to build your brand wherever it’s seen – in print, on line, on signs etc. Logo Marketing & Design have been established for over thirty years with a team of over twenty very qualified and talented designers, web developers and account managers, with the experience to help you get your business off the ground and grow.

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MARKETING Growing a business


orking with entrepreneurs as well as being entrepreneurs themselves, the brains behind Research Runner are well placed to give advice on growing a business. Since founding their company four years ago, Julian and Tracey Haste have seen Research Runner grow from little acorns to become the large multi-service operation it is today. The rapid rise by the support-services consultancy has been aided by diversifying their portfolio of options and it now has three vital offerings: business development, market research and management cost-saving. The company started its life by focusing on the research side of things, with Julian having spent more than 15 years working in market research for the likes of Mintel. It quickly expanded as his plans to diversify paid off. “Everything that I’ve created has seemed to work,” smiled a clearly proud Julian. “When I first started, I built several revenue streams in the hope that at least one thing would not fail, but it’s all come together now as a single consultancy company.” On the business-development side, Research Runner has dealt with clients from all walks of life. They have also done business with everyone from mega-companies that employ 10,000 members of staff, right down to one-man outfits that are just starting from scratch. “We’ve worked with a company that has turnover of £2.5million a year that has been with us since day one, which is a great testimonial,” Julian said. “They had a large client who dropped out after five years with them for no reason other than the client always switches every five years. We have helped that company to get a constant stream of new business potential.” At the other extreme, Research Runner has also

worked with a start-up healthcare agency. “The MD at the agency couldn’t afford to bring in business-development personnel,” explained founder Julian, adding; “If you are looking for someone with the right experience, you are probably looking to pay £60,000-plus a year basic salary. This is very prohibitive for many companies so we came in and helped set up meetings for the managing director and now his agency has a solid pipeline of business.” As a consultancy, Research Runner “morphs” itself into its clients to better integrate themselves into the machinery of the business. He clarified by saying, “When we work with these businesses, we become them. We work for them, as them. We can either help existing sales teams to drive new business or help smaller companies start that process, fitting in across the whole sales cycle.” As far as the market-research side of things goes, Research Runner offers both B2B and B2C support. “Whether the research involves consumers or say, IT professionals, we can help run it – online, by telephone or face-to-face,” said Julian. “The research we run is global, so if someone wants to find out who in China wants to buy their product for example, then we can do that.” When it comes to costsaving support, the enthusiastic entrepreneur tells how Research Runner has joined forces with Auditel to offer excellent service. “This part of the business ties in really well with our other services as I always enjoy working with leaders in their fields. What we can do is go into a business that doesn’t have any budget for business development and find ways to free up that budget from somewhere else.”

The way you act as a leader has an effect on everything

There are many waves to ride when running a business

As well as its UK operations Research Runner already has a significant client on the east coast of the US and is talking to a large media company in New York. The aim is to expand the business around the globe. “Our long-term goal is to set up offices in the US and Europe, and to serve Asia as well,” said Julian. “We believe that we are the only company in our sector doing what we are doing. We started off just doing market research and targeting researchers, but it’s become broader and we now talk to MDs, CEOs and sales directors across many different sectors.” Any support given by Research Runner – particularly in the field of business development – will be of benefit only if the client has already got the groundwork done, however. “Sometimes you need to help yourself. Get the basics sorted out first – get your website sorted out and have a real think about all the things you can do. Then we can come in to help drive business to you,” he explains, continuing; “There are lots of aspects when it comes to success, and it’s always different in each sector, but a lot of it is down to the leadership.” “For example, I can walk into a company and find that the leader is not dressed appropriately, and then you find that the whole company is managed in the same way. The way you act as a leader has an effect on everything. Really, the main thing is attitude. Keep doing what you believe in and have lots of enthusiasm but don’t think that change is going to be an overnight thing. Don’t rush things.” Tracey added: “Passion and persistency are key in running a business. You have to believe in what you are doing to succeed. We all know there are many waves to ride when running a business, but having a can-do attitude will keep you ahead of the game.” Contact: www.research-runner.com

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Can video help your business? Do you need...  promotional video of A your company? A video testimonial from a client? A video to show off your latest product or service? A campaign video to gain awareness and improve your SEO?

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29/05/2014 10:32


Unprecedented Success For Thames Valley Expo


e are delighted to announce that following the huge success of its launch in 2013, The Thames Valley Expo is back for its second year on Thursday 12th June 2014, at Royal Windsor Racecourse. The main objectives of this year’s Thames Valley Expo is to highlight the region’s economic zone as well as the region’s pro-active business culture. The main key areas that will be featured at this year’s expo are as follows: • We want to attract investment opportunities for The Thames Valley • We want to provide a platform that encourages business and job creation • We want to develop a network of established regional businesses who are focused on developing and nurturing the economic infrastructure of the regional geographic. The event will also provide the delegate (regional business owner/director) with the opportunity to be motivated as well as educated. At this year’s expo we aim to provide seminars and workshops which are educational and informative for the delegates to attend, free of charge.  

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The following is just an example of what we will be featuring at the event: INDUSTRY LEADING WORKSHOPS: Why not attend one of our industry leading workshops, all of which have been designed to address issues that affect your business? Not only have our workshops been created to be an interesting and enjoyable way of gaining practical hands-on experience, they are also a way of picking up the knowledge that your company may be lacking. The following are a list of workshops that we will be holding on the day: • Email Marketing 101 Understanding how to use this platform correctly • Companies House advising on how to incorporate a limited company • IPO advising on how to protect your corporate brand and identity • LinkedIn Bootcamp Discover how to use LinkedIn for business • Workplace Pensions Explaining why it is time to act and how • Go Global Discovering the importance of international trade

• Understanding Cloud discovering the importance and benefits of the Cloud. KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: The Thames Valley Expo understands the value and the impact that the right speaker can have on our event. Ultimate credibility comes from individuals and subject matter experts who have performed at the highest level in changing corporate environments. Only they can give expert insight and empathy on the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis. We have carefully selected Brad Burton, Neil Clough, Jackie Chappell, Warren Cass and Jon Davey as they are known for delivering thought provoking presentations focusing on a number of business related topics such as leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing, communications, change, innovation and customer service.   NETWORKING At the Thames Valley expo we have purposely accommodated the traditional fast-paced Speed-Networking, where the aim of the game is to increase your business network in quickfire succession, in a relaxed open-networking, where you can decide who you speak to and at what speed.

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BUSINESS INTERFACE WALL Thames Valley Expo is passionate to encourage networking across the region. This is the reason why we have created the Business Interfacing wall. The idea is simple. You write down what your business is looking for (an accountant, book keeper, training provider, web designer, an office space, etc), and then pin it to the Business Interfacing wall, along with your business card. Then you come back at the end of the day and collect all the other cards pinned to yours. It really is that simple! By the end of the day you will have invaluable contacts of the people and companies who can help provide whatever it is your business is looking for. The system has been designed to work both ways so, if you see a business that may like your help, pin your card to theirs and pick up some extra clients!

The one-day event is aimed to attract businesses whose primary agenda is to improve and expand their business, develop key relationships through networking with other regional business leaders, and increase their skillset through our free industry leading seminars/practical workshops. Our aim for The Thames Valley Expo is not for it to be a one-off expo, we are looking for it to become the fastest growing expo within the region. ARE YOU A STARTING OR EXPANDING BUSINESS? If so join us at The Thames Valley Expo, which is free for anyone thinking about starting a business or expanding a business. With over 50 exhibitors, advice, opportunities, and much more, can you afford to miss out? Thames Valley Expo is the ideal way to enhance your business, to grow, prosper and thrive across the region. Join hundreds of powerful,

influential businesses and make incredible deals. Engage with new suppliers and get that initial contact in order to build long lasting business relationships. Thames Valley Expo are pleased to be in partnership with Windsor Racecourse. As a result of this partnership we will be giving away 2 free Windsor racecourse tickets worth £40.00* to every delegate that attends the Expo on the 13th June 2013. We are also delighted to be in partnership with Talk Business. As a result of this partnership we will be giving away a 1 year free subscription to Talk Business Magazine worth £40.00 - to every delegate that attends the Expo on the 13th June 2013.   If you would like to register to attend The Thames Valley Expo, (Grand Stand, Royal Windsor Racecourse, SL4 5JJ) call on 0843 289 4634



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29/05/2014 17:42

MARKETING Translation

Why do not you Google Translate to rely on By Frank Hartkopf, head of European content at Axonn Media, a leading multilingual content marketing agency

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29/05/2014 13:16

MARKETING Translation


ou have probably spotted it immediately. But just to clarify, the headline is not a combination of typos on my part, but rather a translation courtesy of Google Translate. Fittingly, this was the result when we translated, from Afrikaans to English, ‘Why you shouldn’t rely on Google Translate’. As regular business travellers, many of us will have seen poorly translated airport signs, or dishes which don’t make sense on the menu, that made us chuckle because their meanings are hopelessly lost in translation. It goes without saying that businesses should never completely rely on a computer programme to translate their website and marketing content. Yet, a surprising number of businesses are trying to cut corners when it comes to reaching customers abroad. Recent predictions by CSA Research have suggested that companies could be losing out on $30 trillion of sales, simply by failing to localise their website content. The same study revealed that 85% of consumers are more inclined to buy a product when confronted with information in their own language, with 54% saying this was more important than the actual price. Good localisation increases in importance alongside the value of the product on offer. You might tolerate a faulty English menu in the Chinese restaurant down the road from your hotel in Shanghai, but if found on

a website offering big ticket business products, you’ll think more than twice whether to do business with them. And your non-English prospects feel the same.

DOGS ARE NOT UNIVERSALLY CUTE Understanding cultural specifics is essential if you want to use multi-lingual content marketing to attract new customers from overseas. A prime example is a British company that wanted to expand its successful online shop selling baby products to the Arabic speaking world. It learned the hard way that, while its bibs decorated with puppies might have been bestsellers in the UK, they were a complete no-go with buyers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Jordan. In the Islamic culture of course, dogs are considered to be unclean, and carry different connotations to here in the UK.

TRANSCREATION, NOT TRANSLATION Since technology has made it easy for anyone to reach out globally via the internet, some companies perhaps need reminding of an old business traveller’s truth: you can’t sell to whom you don’t understand. It is vital to have a clear international marketing strategy in place, and to decide which market to target first. The problem, however, is the sheer quantity of online content that gets produced every day. Having it properly translated by a professional

Businesses should never completely rely on a computer programme to translate their website and marketing content

agency can be costly and take too much time. What’s worse, even the best translation of your online content does not engage and convert foreign audiences, because the contextual message is not conveyed into the local culture. Word-plays often get lost in translation, as do figures of speech. This is why, in order to attract audiences from non-English speaking countries, it is better to invest in the transcreation of your content assets instead of simply translating. The process of transcreation avoids the problem of translating an article simply word for word. Instead, you brief the native speakers of your target countries as to the key messages and context of the article, and they will write it from scratch, using their own words, cultural concepts and metaphors. They know how local consumers tend to use the internet, which content and imagery is relevant for them, and which online search queries are trending in their market. Thanks to transcreation, your global campaign could even ensue simultaneously in several markets around the world. Over the next few years, digital marketing will become increasingly multi-lingual, and to succeed, businesses need a multi-lingual content marketing strategy. Computer assisted translations certainly have their place in modern business, but if you want to connect with new prospects and engage your global customer base, you should never rely on Google Translate. Contact: www.axonn.co.uk

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29/05/2014 13:16

Exhibitions • Portable Displays • Engagement • Live Events

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20/05/2014 16:34 09:45 30/04/2014

MARKETING Unlock growth with advertising

Making the most of advertising to unlock

GROWTH Karen Fraser, director, Advertising Association


he UK’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been identified by the British Government as playing a pivotal role in revitalising the economy. Their contribution is certainly significant, and between 1998 and 2010, SMEs accounted for 77% of all job creation. However, just 35% of these businesses survive their first three years, threatening the ongoing struggle of reducing unemployment levels.

Although there is a strong support network in place for SMEs, and much is being done to ensure their success, often the role of advertising is overlooked. This is despite the fact that SMEs that advertise are much more likely to realise growth. These findings from the Advertising Association report, Advertising Pays 2, also reveal that spending an additional £1 on advertising will benefit an SME nearly eight times as much, relative to its size, as an equivalent £1 spent by a larger business.

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MARKETING Unlock growth with advertising

Companies are able to use many cost effective channels and platforms, which allows them to talk to new customers and develop new markets.


Local media offers a cost efficient way for businesses to target potential customers in a small area

Advertising offers significant benefits to SMEs looking to expand, and although they represent a staggering 99.9% of all private sector companies, SMEs account for just 18% of total advertising spend. As part of the report, we spoke to 1,000 SMEs and discovered that the main reason behind a lack of advertising was cost. Whilst this is understandable, creating an effective advertising campaign doesn’t have to break the bank.

REDUCE THE COST Minimising outgoings and maximising profits was exactly the challenge that awardwinning SME, Riverford, faced. The company decided to use digital advertising as an affordable route to increasing brand visibility and sales. Riverford created a social media competition to promote its Christmas products. The cost of the campaign was modest, but the results were considerable. Riverford secured 2,000 new visits to its website, and quickly sold out of the gift hamper advertised. Sales of promoted products increased by seven per cent in just one day, and half of all competition entrants opted to hear more about Riverford, thus developing prospects. Digital channels have revolutionised advertising, and now even the smallest businesses can take advantage of these new possibilities.

Many of the SMEs we polled revealed that they had achieved success by advertising across multiple channels. Multi-channel advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. Local media offers a cost efficient way for businesses to target potential customers in a small area. For example, combining local newspaper and radio adverts with a direct marketing campaign can give a company a big voice in a small area – perfect if operating in a particular town, city or region.

STICK TO THE LONG TERM PLAN Similar to a structured and carefully planned marketing campaign, advertising should never be seen as just a short term measure to increase sales. The Advertising Pays 2 report revealed that many SMEs don’t develop consistent, planned advertising campaigns. This can lead to less long term value from advertising.

REINFORCE BRAND IMAGE Every advert should reinforce brand image. Even if a company only advertises occasionally, making sure there is a consistent style, tone and feel to all brand communications is vital. Changing approach every time a new advertising campaign begins is like introducing customers to an entirely new company, and is not advisable. A clear brand image helps to establish heritage and loyalty. Customers will be quick to notice if a brand’s style is consistent – ensuring repeat business. Exposure to

the same messages over time will also drive sales among new customers as they come to recognise and trust the brand.

REMEMBER TO MEASURE EFFECTIVENESS Measuring the effectiveness of advertising is crucial to the success of the strategy. SMEs are much less likely to measure their advertising results than larger organisations, meaning that they often remain in the dark as to whether the campaign offered a worthwhile return on investment. This process can seem complicated and daunting, but all agencies and media owners should be able to help calculate whether advertising is working. This will not only save time and money in the long run, but also allow improvements over time.

USE ONLINE INSIGHT Online adverts are just one way of tracking responses, and using this insight can help when undertaking re-marketing – showing adverts to people who have already visited a website – an excellent way of converting interest into sales. However, even exclusively online companies understand the benefit of building up an offline presence as well. Don’t think that, just because a company is online that the advertising has to be. With the right research and support, SMEs can take advantage of a range of advertising opportunities that are affordable, yet valuable. For businesses that choose to go down the route of advertising, undertaking a simple and effective campaign can certainly make achieving those growth goals that little bit easier. Contact: www.adassoc.org.uk

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29/05/2014 13:20

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29/05/2014 11:45

PEOPLE Lee McQueen

You’re hired!


Lee McQueen, founder of Raw Talent Academy and season-four winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, discusses zero hours contracts


he concept of zero hours contracts has been in the news quite a bit recently, with a growing number of businesses hiring employees on such terms. It has become something of a political hot potato, with concerns being raised that employers are taking advantage of workers and not giving them a fair deal. In certain circumstances, a zero hours contract is a sensible way forward and can prove useful – particularly in situations where the amount of work that needs doing ebbs and flows. However, it is important that the idea is not abused by employers. Having worked in recruitment for 15 years, I can see the benefits of having a type of resource that you can turn on and off. It’s like having a virtual substitutes bench of people that you can call on, without having to make any long term financial commitments or deal with things such as paid holidays.

They are knowledgeable about your business and understand exactly what you are about too. Employers need to make sure they weigh up the costs and benefits though. In many cases, if you want to attract the best people, you will need to offer them traditional contracts. If you are trying to tempt people to work for you, it is likely they will want to move to a job that has stability. It is all about balance, and it probably depends on what type of business you are in. For example, if you are looking at a one-off, short-term project, such as building a single website, employing someone on a zero hours contract might be the best way forward. But if you are building lots of websites, and you are continuously winning more work, you might decide you want to employ someone on contracted hours. There is also a difference between recruiting someone on a zero hours contract and changing existing contracts. I think employees being made to change their employment terms

It’s like having a virtual substitutes bench of people to call on when needed

would find it very difficult. I employ 18 people and they are all on contracted hours. If I told them they were moving on to zero hours contracts, it would be a huge change for them to swallow. They would wonder why they were no longer guaranteed permanent work, and even if they didn’t see it as being a step backwards on a personal level, they might start to think “What’s going on here?”. They could start asking questions about the financial stability of the business and their long term prospects, and they may start looking for alternative employment. It all depends on circumstance, but as a rule of thumb, I would have thought that if you have people on permanent contracts and suddenly you tell them they are on zero hours contracts, and that next week they might not be required to work, they will start to wonder about how they will get their food on the table and pay their mortgages. Contact: rawtalentacademy.co.uk



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30/05/2014 10:29

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29/05/2014 16:23


Succession Planning: a job for the future? If you don’t plan for succession in the positions held by your top team, what do you do when your top talent leaves and you have no-one ready to step into the role? Who are your successors? Whilst tempting to focus succession planning on only the most promising individuals, this approach can demotivate or alienate large portions of your workforce, affecting the ‘discretionary extra’ you get from high levels of employee engagement. Succession works best when it is integrated into every function, as part of your normal business activity. So, if you’ve already identified two or three candidates for your business’ top positions, engage your functional leaders to do the same for their teams. And, if you haven’t given much thought for the top positions, do so, and then move deeper into your organisation.

Who do you target? Succession should target individuals who possess the attributes and skills your organisation will need in the future. This makes sense and seems obvious. Why then do so many leaders target employees who mirror, or who have the capacity to mirror, the attributes and skills of the current leaders? There are tools and processes that can easily be utilised to help identify, and get evidence of, the competencies we’re looking for

in our next generation, but fresh thinking is needed to ensure we ‘build’ leaders of the future, and not just work to re-invent the leaders of our past.

Succeeding the first generation owner-manager? The difficulties in getting this right cannot be underestimated. First generation owners trying to identify an individual to succeed them often believe they need to find someone like themselves, and believe anything else won’t provide the business with the dynamism needed to grow. Wrong! Many of these traits are linked to entrepreneurism and are great for getting a business started and growing, but possibly not what is needed in the long term. Think critically about what skills and behaviours are needed for the next stage of growth in your business and focus on identifying people with the right management competencies.

When to start? Don’t wait. Think about integrating succession planning into your normal business activities. Consider it when recruiting, promoting or investing in employee development. Talk about it with managers; engage them in the process. No longer are jobs for life - and certainly not the same job.

How to start Consider the external factors that will impact on your business over the next three years. How will your clients expect to communicate and trade with you? How will your workforce need to be structured to deliver this? What skills and behaviours will they need? How will they need to be led? Map these answers onto your current organisation, and you have started the process.

Succession works best when it is integrated into every function as part of your normal business activity

Contact: www.hrinsight.co.uk



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30/05/2014 10:28

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). 5 June 2014 12.30pm

Networking lunch in Liverpool Street at The Hide at the Bull Nearest tube: Liverpool Street 4 Moorgate London, EC2R 6DA networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at tower Hill More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-at-liverpool-street

12 June 2014 Thurs 8th Aug 12.30pm

Networking lunch in Mayfair at Greens Restaurant and Oyster Bar networking lunch at the roof Gardens & Babylon restaurant at High st. kensington 10 Godliman Street,London, EC4V 5AJ Nearest tube: Green Park 99 High Street Kensington, W8 5SA Nearest tube: High Street Kensington Booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-mayfair-2

Thurs 1st Aug

Wed 14th Aug

45 Prescot Street, E1 8GP

Nearest tube: Tower Hill

networking lunch at Freemasons Hall at covent Garden

18 June 2014 8am

Networking at Street, Ludgate Circus 60breakfast Great Queen WC2B 5AZ Nearest tube: Holborn Aveqia London, 2 St. Bride Street, London, EC4A 4AD Nearest tube: London Blackfriars networking lunch at the Happenstance at st. paul’s Booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-breakfast-at-ludgate-circus

26 June 2014 Thurs 29th Aug 12.30pm

Networking lunch in Chelsea at Bumpkin networking at dirty dicks atNearest Liverpool tube: street Sloane Square 119 Sydney Street, London,lunch SW3 6NR 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR Nearest tube: Liverpool Street booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-chelsea-1

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 JunctionJune14.indd 1

30/04/2014 11:43



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29/05/2014 16:25

PEOPLE 10 reasons to hire an apprentice

Top ten reasons to hire an APPRENTICE By Glen Patterson, managing director, Custom Enterprises Limited


esearch from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has quantified the business benefits of apprentices. Indeed, last year, apprentices delivered around £1.8 billion of net economic benefits to UK organisations. But what does this mean for individual companies like yours? Here are the reasons why, in the experience of Custom Enterprises, apprentices make good business sense:

workplace don’t have the skills they need. Hiring an apprentice is your opportunity to train up an individual with precisely those skills your business requires.

• Something for everyone Businesses of all sizes, in all sectors can benefit. Companies can be quick to dismiss apprenticeships, seeing them as the preserve of industries such as hairdressing, plumbing, and manufacturing. However, there’s a whole new world of ‘non-traditional’ apprenticeships in, for example, accountancy, finance and HR.

• Immediate benefits Often, businesses fall into the trap of thinking that apprentices take a long time to start delivering for their business. In my experience, the opposite is true, and this is validated by research, which shows apprentices bring benefits to business even while they are still in training.

• Bottom-line boost Figures from AAT show that each apprentice hired brings a significant bottom-line boost to the organisation taking it on around £2,000 once training costs and wages have been factored in. • The right skills for your business Business leaders complain that young people entering the

is often fully, or partly, covered by Government. The amount depends on your sector and the candidate’s age, but training costs for many 16- 18 year olds are 100% covered.

• … and the attitude to match Our apprentices have always been ambitious, motivated and keen to progress. Apprentices are with you because they have a genuine desire to learn and get ahead – those are exactly the kind of people any business would want to employ.

• Loyal employees Our apprentices have repaid the time we have invested in their development with loyalty and commitment to our business. They are much less likely to move on as quickly as graduates. • Financial support is available Businesses can be put off by the perceived cost of training an apprentice. However, the cost

• Enhanced corporate image Hiring apprentices has proved to be good for our reputation. Clients and employees (current and prospective) respond well to the fact that we are giving young people a chance.

Last year apprentices delivered around £1.8 billion of net economic benefits to UK organisations

• Better products, services and increased productivity Don’t just take my word for it. In research from The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (August 2013), high percentages of employers reported improved product and service quality (72%) and enhanced productivity from hiring apprentices. • You’re not alone Help is available, so if you do decide to take the plunge, you will be able to get the support you need. The National Apprenticeship Service is a great place to start. The professional body for your industry will also be able to help. Contact: www.ce-l.com



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30/05/2014 10:28

PEOPLE Secret diary of an entrepreneur

Secret diary of an ENTREPRENEUR Nigel Evans and Bill Ridge are Pembrokeshire dairy farmers. In 2006, they started Evanridge Properties LLP, with friend and tax accountant, Huw Evans. The fund invests in Swedish property and has been so successful delivering steady returns of 12% per annum, that it is now open to public investment


eight years ago, the three men were sitting round a table in west Wales discussing ways to secure their own financial futures. Their situations were much like any other business owner, wanting to start building up their assets and plan for the future. The group investigated investment opportunities in European countries before identifying Sweden as the strongest contender, with one of the most stable economies, despite the economic downturn. They started to invest primarily in residential ‘buy-to-let’ properties, and have since built up a portfolio worth more than £28m.

DAY ONE: FARM WORK Evanridge Properties is a huge part of our working lives, but Bill and I are still farmers, and the day-to-day farming life

involves getting stuck in. Our day begins at dawn, before the cockerels have even crowed, planning the day ahead on the farm and our Evanridge priorities for the week. We are very hands on in both businesses, and regularly talk to investors and prospective investors to update them and answer questions. The day-to-day running of the farming business has sharpened our business acumen over the years, and to a large extent, taught us the common sense involved in securing our financial futures. We work with tangible assets and investments on the farm - dairy cows and hectares of land. It’s very much like working with property investment, so it doesn’t take much to switch mindsets between farmer and fund manager. We see our Swedish property fund much like a ‘vertical farm’ – it’s essentially

the same business model as contract farming.

DAY TWO: INVESTMENT MEETINGS Our third fund, Evanridge Sweden 3 AB, is currently open to investors, and 95% of our investors come through word of mouth. We spend a great deal of time speaking to potential investors. This week we’ve been invited to the Anglia Farmers HQ in Norfolk to talk to farmers and local business people. We have achieved strong returns of 12% per annum, but we are well aware that we are asking people to commit a significant amount of money for the longer term. People usually invest with us for at least seven years, and the fund requires a minimum investment of £25,000. When you’re asking people to make a commitment, you have to be willing to commit time to them; that’s

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PEOPLE Secret diary of an entrepreneur

why we spend the hours on the road and the phone talking directly to investors. That said, we’re not hard sellers; our ethos is rooted in transparency and honesty and we try to bring the down-to-earth approach we learned in farming to managing the fund. We have obviously invested significantly in the funds ourselves, and everything we do is with the long term gain in mind. We are very hands on in both businesses, and regularly talk to investors and prospective investors to update them and answer questions

DAY THREE: PRACTICAL MANAGEMENT During the week we liaise extensively with our full time Swedish team, who are highly experienced and manage the property portfolio, which comprises blocks of apartments, rather than individual flats and houses. The real opportunity in Sweden is the residential rental market, where properties are in short supply. Less than a third of British people rent, whereas in Sweden the figure is more than 65%. Mr and Mrs Jones in the UK usually own their property, whereas typically, Mr and Mrs Eriksson in Sweden will rent. Thanks to our team in Gothenburg, much of the day-to-day property management is now handled locally, freeing us up to continue operations at the fund and on the farm.

DAY FOUR: FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT I regularly meet with my co-director, Huw Evans, who is a former tax accountant. We review the finances and ensure that our fund and our investors’ money is secure. The Swedish market is much more predictable than other economies. Rents are set by local authorities and inflation-

linked, which gives our investors a very solid, transparent, and predictable return, and allows for a steady, above-inflation rent increase each year. This is obviously a significant advantage compared to other markets, in that we can predict rental returns, year on year.

DAY FIVE: MARKETING / PR Today it’s all about the more exciting side of the business. Every year we run trips to Sweden so our investors can see the portfolio of properties they’re investing in; it’s a bricks and mortar investment, and they like to be able to kick the stones of the buildings that are keeping their money safe and growing. This week, we’ve been busy organising a trip for the media to come with us to Sweden, see the properties and

experience the food and culture for themselves. We are planning an exciting itinerary to show them the potential of Gothenburg. Much of the day will be taken up organising tours of the Trollhättan and the beautiful city of Gothenburg. We’ll also be planning for our guests to meet our local team, and see the properties in Trollhättan, Uddevalla, Vargön and Vänersborg. It’s time consuming work getting it all planned and getting people along, but it’s a great opportunity to show off the culture and beauty of this Swedish region we’ve come to know so well. Contact: http://evanridge.co.uk/ contact-us



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PEOPLE Hire right

Sparing your business THE COST OF A BAD HIRE John Hackston, head of R&D at OPP


rom the ‘war for talent’ to the UK’s baffling ‘productivity gap’, the challenges facing a growing business – despite cautious economic optimism and Osborne’s ‘Budget for business’ – remain significant to say the least. That is, of course, not forgetting the numerous other barriers any ambitious entrepreneur must overcome. One such risk that business owners and HR departments can mitigate for, however, is the cost of a bad hire. This age old challenge has been plaguing growing businesses for many years, and recent research suggests it still affects more than 60% of British companies – some even report related costs in excess of £50,000. There are, however, a number of steps that can be taken to avoid making a ‘bad hire’.

Know exactly what attributes or competencies an applicant will need Defining the qualifications or specific experience needed for a job is difficult enough, but what about the more intangible factors – exactly what skills, attributes or behaviours will someone need to be successful in the role? The word “exactly” is important; phrases like “a good personality” aren’t particularly useful. If you fail with this first step, even the most reliable tests can be very

effective at selecting the right person – but for a different job to the one you are recruiting for.

Beware of relying on unproven methods The cost of a bad hire has been plaguing growing businesses for many years

Many successful business owners cite gut instinct as a key to their success – recent research even found it is playing an increasing role in recruitment decisions, which is a dangerous game to play. Organisations also often fall back on using unstructured interviews – even though these predict only around three per cent of later job performance. If you use a poor selection tool, you probably won’t know you’ve risked making a bad hire until you’ve paid the price.

Tests do work – but often require expertise No assessment method is perfect, but independent research shows that psychometric tests are much better at predicting job success than almost all other methods. If you want to get maximum utility for minimal time and effort, you won’t go far wrong if you combine a job-relevant ability test, a personality questionnaire, and a structured interview (one that asks standardised questions about the competencies actually needed to do the job well). Historically, the need for

niche expertise has limited the use of psychometrics. But now, we can embed much of this expertise in software systems. When OPP developed its own system, Sirius, for instance, it was able to create an online platform that takes a manager through the structured process of selecting the competencies required for the role, and then administering the relevant psychometric assessments online to candidates. The results are used to sort candidates by their likely suitability for the job, making it easier to decide who to invite for interview.

Minimise risk by using multiple methods If you do use psychometric assessments, deploy them alongside other methods. Each tool will give you a slightly different view of the candidate’s suitability and potential performance, so combining evidence from a variety of methods will help you to make the best decision. These rules may not eradicate the chances of making a bad hire altogether, but should certainly go some way towards minimising the risks and giving you the best chance of building a team to drive your business forward. Contact: www.opp.com



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IMAGE Tea for all tastes

teapigs matcha

Matcha is an organic green tea ground to a powder; essentially a super powered green tea, which is packed full of antioxidants and helps to boost the metabolism. According to the company, 99% of people would recommend teapigs matcha to a friend after taking matcha daily for two weeks in January, 91% said they felt more energised and 85% found that matcha helped their health routine and diet. It can also improve the condition of skin, hair, and nails, so you can be in overall great shape for summer. As well as being served as a hot tea, matcha can be served as a latte, or added to juices and smoothies. Who said tea was a winter drink? Available online at: www. teapigs.co.uk

Løv Organic

Long-favoured by tea lovers around the world, Løv Organic is launching a fruit tea gift box assortment for summer, featuring four vibrantly-coloured little boxes. There’s Wild Berry Fruit Tea for a tangy touch; Exotic Fruit Tea, a delightful drink with a tropical twist; Citrus Fruit Fruit Tea, a bracing blend; and last but not least, Apple-Cinnamon Fruit Tea, characterised by its fruity, spicy flavours. Perfect, then, for a summer pick-me up. Available online at: http:// www.lov-organic.com

This month we feature three teas guaranteed to keep productivity and spirits high

Ringtons Signature Tea

Following the successful launch of its specialist Signature range of loose teas, barista-quality coffee, and fruit and herbal infusions in 2013, British tea and coffee company, Ringtons Beverages has launched a personalised packaging option for its exclusive collection. The Signature range was developed using 100 years of expertise in tea buying and blending. The collection was launched to meet market demand from clients who wanted to sell Ringtons products to their own customers in smaller packs for them to enjoy at home. In our book, a branded box of tea would make an ideal gift for your loyal customers. Businesses are able to buy Signature products for their own needs and for resale via www.ringtonsbeverages.co.uk.


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IMAGE Hot spots

Hot Spots The best locations in the UK for SMEs to meet clients, stay on business and hold events.

AWAY ON BUSINESS COWORTH PARK, ASCOT Where: Set amongst 240 acres, just down the road from Ascot. What: Dorchester Collection’s luxury country house hotel and spa, Coworth Park is a luxurious country house hotel bordering Windsor Great Park, offering high-end style without the stuffiness. Why: If you’re looking for a country bolthole with great transport links to central London, Coworth Park is the perfect spot. Not only does it offer bespoke meeting and event spaces, it’s an idyllic place for a romantic retreat and a favourite with families seeking a relaxing break with a dash of adventure. If you’re looking to truly dazzle your staff or clients, this is the place for you. Contact: dorchestercollection.com/en/ ascot/coworth-park

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IMAGE Hot spots

EVENTS AND GATHERINGS THE LOWRY HOTEL, MANCHESTER What: A stylish venue in the heart of Manchester’s Lowry district, with excellent transport links and plentiful parking. Capacity ranges from 10 to 400 guests while the hotel boasts a designated conference and banqueting floor with 15 flexible spaces, all equipped with the latest audio-visual technology. Why: If you’re looking to host an event, The Lowry’s dedicated conference and banqueting floor has everything you need, and caters for a smorgasbord of occasions, including celebrations, retirement dinners and conferences. Preferred rates and parking discounts are available for delegates who choose to stay at the hotel too. Contact: roccofortehotels.com/ hotels-and-resorts/the-lowry-hotel/ meetings-and-events

MEET AND EAT THE GILBERT SCOTT, LONDON Where: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, St Pancras Station, Kings Cross What: Evidently inspired by its unique setting in one of Britain’s finest examples of Victorian architecture, the restaurant and bar pay homage to the heritage of this impressive space. Why: With its own entrance through a revolving door on Euston Road, the bar is a destination in its own right. Complete with soaring ceilings, The Gilbert Scott is the perfect spot for a quick coffee meeting. Alternatively, the Marcus Wareingcurated menu in the main restaurant is sure to set the right tone for a formal tête-à-tête. Contact: www.thegilbertscott.co.uk


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Building better networks since 1979

DOES SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS LIE IN THE CLOUDS? Cloud computing has come a long way to become a mainstream technology tool for businesses, and it is predicted that the cloud services industry will grow to a whopping $95 billion by 2015. With that in mind; we still see a number of our clients struggling to understand how this tool can be useful to their business. For some it s all about confusion, whilst for others it s a fear of not being able to see and touch a physical server and/or data centre where their company data is stored. But what exactly IS the Cloud? Contrary to popular belief, it s not just a fancy new word for the internet. Quite simply Cloud is a term coined for a combination of technologies and services which give end users and organisations access to data and applications instantly and from a variety of internet enabled devices. So why are businesses like yours moving to the cloud?

• • • • •

“Can our software do that?

Low monthly subscription costs No hardware maintenance or replacement costs Anytime, anywhere access ‒ from almost any device Rented applications and software options ‒ taking away hefty licensing costs Built-in anti-virus and spam fighting technology

The trend for companies allowing (in fact - encouraging) their employees to work from home or on the commute is one we all have to recognise. Being a business in the Cloud allows your staff to access files whilst on the train home, in

a café ‒ anywhere with internet connection. Lots of start-up companies use a virtual office (i.e. they don t have physical office space that they share with fellow employees). Dropbox is a handy Cloud file-storage provider which can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It goes without saying that Cloud is a major cost-cutter for new businesses, saving on rent for office space and in some cases, devices for staff. We all know that when it comes to giving your business the competitive advantage, technology is a key driving force. Historically, technology used by larger companies was not available to smaller companies, but now, for the first time, there is technology available that doesn t require hardware or lots of technical expertise ‒ and that s another reason Cloud is so popular amongst SME s. It s our job to advise business owners on the benefits of moving their physical servers into the Cloud, using our famously popular brand of jargon-free plain English. Indeed, for many small businesses; up in the clouds seems a pretty good place to be. Trisoft are an established national provider of IT Services. We ve helped many of our clients get to grip with the cloud, but we also deliver many more tailored IT solutions to suit your business, including: Virtualisation Office 365 IT Support Web and Software Development Network Services IT Consultancy

For more information on the Cloud or any other IT Services, give our friendly experts a call on

0115 822 3456 To see our full range of services visit www.trisoft.co.uk today

TECHNOLOGY The Accelerator

The ACCELERATOR Our tech columnist; Jon Bradford, managing director of Techstars, says we need more (software) engineers


here are good and bad habits. What are the lessons I have learnt from some of the smartest entrepreneurs and investors that I have worked with? How do they handle their workload more effectively? What are the tricks of the trade? How do you stop yourself from going insane?


Stop making decisions, to help you make better decisions. On any given day, there are a finite number of decisions that you can consider and make. If your life is full of trivial matters, these will ultimately slow you down and damage your ability to deal with more important decisions. Simplify your life; get an assistant to help with your travel plans, wear similar clothes day to day, eat the same breakfast - this way you reduce the clutter, freeing yourself to make key decisions.


Start early or late. Learn when you are most productive. Find a time in the day outside of the “9 to 5” cycle when you can hammer through your backlog. Download any outstanding emails and then switch off your mobile and internet. My preference is first thing in the morning SPONSORED BY

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- for others, the calm late night works best. I also wear headphones or earphones just to block out the background noise. It maybe only be an hour, but it can become hyperproductive and reduce the overall stress levels.


Switch off notifications. Everyone has had one - a needy boyfriend or girlfriend, constantly looking for gratification or support. A constant nagging and need for attention. They eventually get “binned” or gain sufficient confidence that the demand for attention goes away. So why do so many of us put up with this on a regular basis from our mobile phones? Switch off your notifications on your mobile. You don’t need reminding that your inbox is constantly on the edge of melt-down. Deal with emails when you want to, not when they demand your attention - very few emails require immediate action.


Be a ninja. In all the best Kung Fu movies, the hero is attacked by a hoard of ninjas coming from different directions. Sounds familiar? Yeah, sounds like a regular day to me. There are two lessons to be learnt; firstly, you can only fight one ninja at a time, you cannot

fight them all, so only deal with a single task at a time. Secondly, disable the ninja, deal with it permanently. Don’t put them off temporarily, if you do, they might come back to disable you when are least expecting it.


Be present. A constant challenge for any entrepreneur is finding a balance between your social and work life. Yes, we all tell ourselves that we have the best job in the world, and we wouldn’t swap it for anything - but it is equally important to have a life beyond work, with your friends and family. It is an individual decision about how you split your time, but it is essential that you remain present in what you are doing at any point in time. Commit yourself to all that you do, but be present in your work and your personal life.

A constant challenge is finding a balance between your social life and work

Jon Bradford is managing director of Techstars in London. He is also co-founder of f6s, the largest community of start-up founders in the world, and tech.eu, a dedicated tech blog for start-ups in Europe. Contact: www.techstar.com Twitter:@jd

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27/05/2014 16:23


Pulp I Friction Chris Potts, Marketing Director at ANT Telecom, outlines how telephony can help reduce waste and improve the customer experience.

Friction squeezes the life out of the customer experience


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t’s a common cliché: the customer is King. But, with improving ‘the customer experience’ and reducing ‘Customer Friction’ common global business priorities, the fight to secure customer loyalty remains a battle royal. Customer Friction is an intriguing concept. It’s a buzzphrase with typically corporate grandeur and complexity, but one that’s seemingly resolved by common-sense solutions. Yet few companies recognise the most obvious solution of all. The telephone. Customer Friction is the wasted time spent on hold or in a queue. It is the constant duplication of scripted ‘personal identifier’ questions, being transferred from one department to another, or awaiting the email response that never comes. It’s the automated email that places you back in another 48-hour queue, or the perennial inability to communicate with a human rather than a machine. Friction is poor customer service. It squeezes the life out of the customer experience and it can have an irrevocable impact on customer loyalty and brand profitability. And the stats back it up. More than half (53%) of UK businesses believe that customer service has become more important in the last year1, but just 25% of consumers think that it has improved in the past three years2. 90% of UK consumers walk away from a purchase if they get bad customer service3, whilst 89% of customers stop doing business with companies if their post-sales customer experience is poor4. Given that it’s far more expensive to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one, the price of bad customer service is high. If the customer really is to be King, businesses’ customer engagement strategies need to improve royally. And the good, old-fashioned telephone may just be the answer.

HOLD THE PHONE In the wake of the rapid surge towards electronic and digital media, there is a risk that telephony becomes one of business’s most under-valued communication tools. Yet it provides a simple and costeffective solution to many of the root causes of Customer Friction. Despite this, a company’s decision to change telephone systems is too often based on secondary drivers, and leads to replacement systems that fail to respond to key organisational needs. Commonly, businesses only seek to buy new telephone systems when the maintenance contract on their existing service has expired, or when line capacity needs increasing due to company expansion. In many cases, companies opt for like-for-like replacements and fail to give due consideration to the communication needs of their organisation. In the process, telephony is often considered a commodity purchase and is therefore a product-focused, rather than a solutions-based, decision. Bells and whistles, enhanced functionality and leading-edge features may impress the IT contingency responsible for the purchase, but if the utility is not aligned with identified business needs or help address customer and colleague challenges, it just becomes another example of corporate waste. But companies should not consider replacement telephony as an end-of-life purchasing decision. Having a telephone system that is fit for purpose is a constant requirement in a modern era where customers expect high-quality customer service, real-time communication and immediate response. Email was originally introduced to bring speed and efficiency to business correspondence, but companies are increasingly forcing customers to communicate electronically. Some organisations now choose not to publish telephone numbers on their corporate websites, while many personal email signoffs fail to include full contact

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details. As a result, the immediacy of the online channel is being undermined. The true speed of customer service is often massively at odds with the instant automated reply. This is having a damaging effect on the customer experience. So despite the undoubted advantages of digital and social media, there is nothing more immediate than traditional human-to-human interaction over the telephone. Evidence repeatedly shows that, at a global level, customers with a complex customer service enquiry prefer to speak to a real person than to use the web or email5. In fact, data shows that 85% of people who make a complaint online never receive a response6.


You need to find out what works and what doesn’t so you don’t waste money

104 June 2014

But the advantages of telephony go way beyond the dying art of human engagement. Modern telephone systems can provide companies with significant efficiency and productivity gains. Integrated systems can link with in-house CRM solutions to provide immediate caller recognition, sparing both customers and customer service representatives the need to go through time-consuming personal identifier scripts. Moreover, this intuitive technology can help ensure calls are routed to the most appropriate department, based on real-time customer information. This minimizes the time spent on hold and reduces the need for customers to be routinely transferred from department to department – and forced to re-start their enquiry from scratch.   The most effective telephony systems will provide robust call metrics, helping companies measure call activity and resource departments according to identifiable trends and likely customer demand. These analytics can provide crucial operational intelligence, whether managing a small 5-person team or a large call centre. And further, in an era where remote and mobile working is growing rapidly, integrated systems can provide seamless connectivity with remote workers – ensuring staff can easily

access colleagues irrespective of their location. This enables mobile employees to be contacted by customers directly via their standard landline number, or be accessible to help answer colleague queries in real-time rather than play the waiting game of email. If necessary, remote workers can even be conferenced into live conversations with customers to give a call an added dimension or accelerate decision-making. And beyond this, telephony can play a vital role in providing business continuity when unexpected technical failures or adverse weather conditions threaten to lock down offices and damage organisational productivity. Building resilience into a telephony system and integrating it into the data network can help companies maintain business as usual and prevent avoidable damage to the customer experience. After all, a missed call could be a missed opportunity. The implications are expensive, but despite common misconceptions about the cost of telephony, the solutions don’t have to be.  


The customer friction that scars the business landscape is actually an opportunity to win competitive advantage. By leveraging telephony capabilities to design systems that reflect real-world operational needs, companies can overcome common customer pain points and drive renewed brand loyalty through improving the customer experience. The question is: how? Companies with the best reputations for delivering optimal customer experience will undoubtedly have strong telephony at the heart of their operations. But their solutions will not have happened by accident. The smartest companies will design their telephony system around the identifiable needs of stakeholders across their organisation. Designing an effective customer contact strategy depends upon a thorough appraisal of how an organisation works, and how that reflects in the customer experience. Therefore, before

implementing a new telephone system, companies should consider a variety of factors. How do your customers expect to be treated? What’s their perception of your service? Who are your customers? How do they contact you? Who answers the calls and how do they respond? How do you identify and manage your key customers? Can you personalise your approach? In which areas do you get most calls, and how do you resource that? The answers to these key questions will cascade down to create a further set of more granular considerations – all of which can inform the telephony solution that best suits your organisation. The whole process requires comprehensive and intelligent employee engagement, as well as an holistic practical and technical understanding of the common pain points that can damage customer communications. This is best achieved by taking a solutions-focused, rather than product-based, approach to telephony – and partnering with telecommunications experts that can provide consultancy and capability to develop telephony systems that match customer needs.  


To succeed, and to deliver a consistent customer experience that eliminates customer friction and encourages brand loyalty, companies should take a more proactive, strategic approach to telephony. With communication a key determining factor in the customer experience, it’s clear that companies must maximise all available routes to the customer. The telephone will continue to play a dominant role in customer engagement as part of wider multi-channel communications strategy. In a competitive environment where consumers are abandoning brands that fail to offer personalised and immediate customer service, telephony can significantly enhance the customer experience. And what’s more, it can help pulp friction. Contact: www.anttele.com SPONSORED BY


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TECHNOLOGY Securing business



ith the increase in cyberattacks and data breaches, the spotlight has focused on IT security. Once a concern limited to large companies, now all businesses are looking to create a more secure environment. In the age of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and a greater reliance on cloud computing, businesses should be focusing on what they are trying to protect. Research suggestions the cost of a data breach can range from £16,000 to £4.8m - with smaller businesses at as much risk as large ones. The truth is that simple, passwordbased security alone doesn’t cut it anymore. Many recent data breaches, such as the recent one at Tesco, are caused by hackers simply trying their luck – attempting to log in using existing username and password combinations. That hack caused more than 2,000 customers’ log-in names and passwords to be shared on a text-sharing site. It is important to note that nothing ‘went wrong’ at Tesco; this was not a system SPONSORED BY

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Tom Colvin, CTO, Conseal Security malfunction, which produced the problem. No single person worked around the security of the site. The vulnerability here is the password itself. Part of the issue is whilst there are other forms of authentication, they are most definitely not developed enough to be rolled out en masse. This leaves us with little choice but to use the username and password combination which, it is noteworthy to add, is what most online services in the business world support. For example, business tools such as Gmail, DropBox, Twitter, Outlook Web Access, Microsoft Office 365, Remote Desktop, Exchange, Salesforce, all require (at least by default) nothing more than usernames and passwords. Businesses need to educate users to the fact that passwords are insecure. If you use the same password for multiple services, then any breach of one will naturally permit access to all the others. Businesses need to seek out services, which provide a degree of control over location. For example, if every employee is UK-based, and an attempt to

access the data is made from abroad, it is probably malicious. It is also important to use services, which permit logging of access attempts. If something does go wrong, a business must know where, how, and the extent of the disclosure/breach. It is often preferable, from a security perspective, for organisations to host their own cloud services rather than rely on public ones. This provides the organisation’s administrators with complete control over who accesses them, and could, for example, limit that access to the local network. This would require anyone from outside the organisation to use the VPN to get access to the log in screen – adding an extra layer of security to the existing authentication challenge. The first step to take is always to ensure every employee, from IT to frontline staff, is on board. But it is now also essential to actively take control to secure the business environment and assets to protect against data breaches.

Businesses need to educate users to the fact that passwords are insecure

Contact: www.consealsecurity.com

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Do you want to start your own business?

If you are a budding entrepreneur with a great business idea but not sure how to make it a reality then the team at Enterprise First can guide you through the process! We’ve been helping people start and manage their businesses for over thirty years. We have experienced business advisers who can offer you FREE independent advice on HMRC and tax, marketing, human resources and funding. WHY WORK WITH ENTERPRISE FIRST?

We have a 97% client satisfaction rating – something we are very proud of! We’re not a big consultancy and we won’t give you a sales pitch either. What we do offer is advice and mentoring for anyone who wants to start a business or for existing businesses who need a bit of support. Our clients set the agenda so they get the most out of their meetings – our aim is to help you be successful after all.


We run practical workshops on marketing and finance as well as providing clients with an introduction to numerous networking opportunities. A member of the Cavendish Consortium and The National Enterprise Network we are also delivery partners for the following national programmes: Ready for Business, Virgin Start Up Loans and Growth Vouchers.


Growth Vouchers This is a government initiative to help businesses grow and develop. Businesses who are eligible can apply for £2000 to be spent in one of five key growth and development categories: finance, recruitment, leadership and management, marketing and understanding digital technology. We are the delivery partner in the South East for the Growth Vouchers programme.

Virgin Start Up Aimed at potential entrepreneurs living in England who are seeking help and finance to start a business, Richard Branson’s latest venture has already helped a number of people turn their business ideas into reality. The programme also offers support in the form of business mentors. We are the official Virgin delivery partner in the South East.

Ready for Business Our Ready for Business programme provides pre start-up businesses with vital information for success. This is done through advice, training and expert support. We will help you create a robust business plan in preparation for external funding and future business success. Part of this programme is the free Barclays Ready for Business seminar.


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TECHNOLOGY Cloud mobile

Neil Titcomb, UK and Ireland sales director for cloud at Genesys, looks at how the cloud is enabling companies to quickly and easily offer customers a truly mobile service


t used to be the case that the contact centre used more advanced technology than the consumer. Now, contact centres are in danger of being left holding the landline phone while the customer tries to contact them on any number of channels, and increasingly, via their mobile. According to research, 7 in 10 people in the UK now own a smartphone, and this isn’t the preserve of younger generations – as more than half of 54 to 65-year-olds also own a smartphone. Despite these figures, recent Genesys research found that only 20% of companies currently have a mobile customer service app.

Here comes the cloud Customer service has to bridge the gap between the smart consumer with the smartphone, and the contact centre. Even though mobile applications are becoming increasingly powerful customer touch-points, many companies are failing to leverage them in order to engage with consumers. The cloud provides a quick and simple solution to integrate mobile with customer service,

Perhaps you have a member of staff that wants to take a sabbatical

providing the customer with a seamless link to the contact centre agent, as well as allowing the agent to view previous exchanges and contacts with the company. Genesys is in the vanguard of unifying the cloud, mobile and customer service in order to provide a seamless customer experience. The cloud provides the bond between the app and the contact centre, thus simplifying the process for the customer of obtaining service, and for the enterprise, of supplying the service. The app itself is not hosted in the cloud – the customer just downloads the app from their devicedependent app store as usual – but there is a Genesys widget within the app. When a customer using the app needs to contact customer service, they simply tap on the Genesys-powered contact icon, while remaining in the app. They then simply choose the preferred method of contacting the agent and the app will open up the selected communication channel. All relevant information is stored, and can be used to route the call to the most appropriate agent to resolve the issue. The agent will thus have a full overview of who the customer is, and what the customer has been trying to achieve prior to the contact. This process

ensures that the customer communicates with the best agent available to resolve their concern, while the agent will have the necessary information to resolve that concern - and to resolve it quickly.

Raising the bar on personalisation Ultimately, integrating the smartphone into customer service has to provide a seamless experience for the customer. It enables companies to raise the bar on personalisation, delivering a customer experience that is increasingly dictated by the customer – when they want service, where, and over what channel. Cloud can help in this process, by providing the vital link between a mobile app and the ability for companies to offer a truly personalised customer experience. Contact: www.genesys.com

The easy route to providing mobile customer service – USE THE CLOUD SPONSORED BY

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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! If ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ then how much is a moving picture worth? Peter Curtis, Managing Director of Take 1 Media Productions Ltd has been producing videos for companies for over 20 years, and provides a brief overview on how on-line video is proving to be a valuable marketing tool for companies of all sizes.


t used to be that having one or more videos produced for a company was pretty expensive. As well as the production costs you had the duplication costs. Before we had online video, companies had to distribute videos on DVD or VHS which added to the production costs. There was then no guarantee that the end user would even watch it. Fortunately, all that has changed over the last few years with on-line video becoming available to everyone. Production costs for videos have also become more cost effective with improvements in technology making it easier and quicker for professionals to shoot and edit high quality productions. It’s also interesting to see that the actual style and content of video is changing as well. We are now finding that videos are a lot shorter than they used to be and are very much targeted at providing specific pieces of information, perhaps on a particular product or service, rather than a general ‘company overview’ video. Companies are also using video to provide nuggets of

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information that their clients would find useful. A great example of this is a series of ten short videos which we are currently producing for London Stone Securities, an FCA regulated stock broking company that provides free market research and expert advice on UK and overseas equities including the latest IPOs. They wanted to engage with their clients by producing a series of ‘top ten trading tips’. As CEO Ranjeet Sandhu from London Stone explains “Our job is to provide easy to understand market news flow to investors so they can make an informed decision about their shares. Part of this process means educating our clients about the basic rules of investment. One of the ways we can do this effectively is via online video. With a subject like top ten trading tips, we feel that giving this information out a cross a number of short videos, would be much more effective than having large amounts of text on our website. It makes our website more attractive and entices people to come back for more.” As well as video becoming a cost effective marketing tool, there are some pretty

compelling benefits to having video on your website: • A visitor to a website will stay on average 5 minutes longer when they watch a video compared to reading the site’s text. • A video on your website increases the chance of a 1st page google listing by 53 times • A video is one of the most measurably effective tools when launching a company or product. One of the key things to producing a successful video is to understand your target audience - who are they, what do you want them to learn whilst watching the video, and what do you want them to do after watching the video. Once this has been agreed, we can work with the client to develop a treatment and script. At this point, we consider the most effective ways to keep the audience engaged and this could involve using animated graphics, interesting filmed footage and even a little bit of humour! One other thing to keep in mind is to keep the video short and sweet - a well-made video consolidates all of the important details into one place in a just a few minutes.

“We are now producing videos for companies of all sizes, including people who are just starting up their business and see on-line video as a vital marketing tool.”

Peter Curtis Take 1 Media Productions Ltd PO Box 6010 Chelmsford CM1 2FT Tel: 01245 614161 Email: info@take1.co.uk Web: www.take1.co.uk

30/05/2014 10:57

TECHNOLOGY I’ve got an App for that

I’ve got an APP for that This month we’re looking at apps that will help you to keep track of those pesky expenses, and save you time with inputting contact details into address books.

EXPENSIFY Price: FREE (some services billable) Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry The gist: Whether it’s train tickets, meals out or petrol receipts, it can be a nightmare to keep track of your expenses, especially when you are on the

go. Expensify is the expenses report in your pocket and lets you update your records away from the office. File reports, send invoices and even scan receipts directly into the app from your camera. International travellers can even input data in almost any currency! Downloadable from: help.expensify.com/mobile

CAMCARD Price: FREE Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry The gist: Ever come home from a show, event or meeting with a huge stack of business cards and thought “I really can’t be bothered to put all of those names and addresses into my contacts book”? Well CamCard is the solution to your problems! Using your


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phone’s camera, this simple to use app will scan any business card and then extract the key data (name, email, telephone etc.) before adding it to your contacts, saving you the time and stress! You can also personalise an individual’s contact file allowing you to add a photo of someone as you are chatting directly to them! Downloadable from: www.camcard.com

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29/05/2014 16:48

TECHNOLOGY New Kid on the Block

The domain GAME Simon Yeoman, general manager of Fasthosts Internet explains how dot-London could be a great asset for your firm


his Summer sees the release of the dotLondon domain, which aims to give Londonbased businesses a push by referring to London directly in their web identity. A recent YouGov survey of 1001 London-based SMEs found that 26% of respondents said they were likely to register a dot-London domain. Some 48% likely to register also reported that they were proud to be London businesses and wanted to associate their business with the Capital. Across the whole market, an estimated 50,000 - 100,000 registrations are anticipated.

THE APPEAL OF DOT-LONDON More businesses are learning that regional online identity can be a real advantage for them. London has an incredibly strong, positive image, both domestically and abroad, and London’s firms can now profit from this directly from their web address. All indications are that .London will become a real mark of trust. Assuming that awareness continues to rise steadily, it is logical that Londoners will be attracted to the benefits. SPONSORED BY

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London as a brand is highly desirable, viewed globally as successful, modern and prestigious. These values can now be utilised to the advantage of all businesses through the association of London as a capital, strengthening their brand nationally and internationally. The result for firms will be great new potential for capturing traffic and developing their digital branding, and for consumers, a key factor in obtaining useful search results. Internet psychologist, Graham Jones, believes these new geographical domain names will have an important future to play in how we browse the internet. He said, “As the majority of internet activity is focused locally, regional domains will be very important. Being able to instantly associate a website with our own regional identity will appeal to consumers.”

WHO GETS PRIORITY? During the London Priority Period from now until August, the registry for dot-London applies a tiered system for priority in awarding the domains. The four categories of priority for applications are:


Trademark holders verified with ICANN’s Trademark Clearing House database.


Those with a physical address in London or its 32 boroughs, with a UK trademark or rights to a name, such as proof of business or trading name, charities and personal names.

3 London as a brand is highly desirable, viewed globally as successful, modern and prestigious

Those applicants with a physical address in London or its 32 boroughs, without the corresponding right for a domain name.


Applicants without a physical address in London or its 32 boroughs.

If two or more applications are received for the same dotLondon domain name, you will be asked to provide proof of business/trading name and address. If a domain is applied for by two or more applicants with the same level of priority, these will go to auction after the close of priority applications. For more details about dotLondon domains, or the full range of Fasthosts new gTLDs available for pre-registration, visit www.fasthosts.london.

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Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9HT 01206 854545 @ColSeedbed

Top Tips when letting business premises

St George’s Business Park

Castle Road, Sittingbourne ME10 3TB 01795 432605 @StGeorgesMgr

Every new business venture is a journey into the unknown, and identifying the type of premises right for your business can be a daunting and time consuming task. This month on www.spaceforgrowth.co.uk we discuss the benefits of licencing vs leasing your business premises.

Churchill Square Business Centre

• What is a licence? A licence is essentially a ‘permission slip’ to carry out an activity at specific premises or on a piece of land.

Waterhouse Business Centre

• What is a lease? A lease is a legally binding agreement allowing a tenant the exclusive use of specific premises, in return for the payment of rent. • Consider the image created by the location and its neighbours – address to impress! • Never cut corners – finding the right place to work from is like finding the right home! • Formalise your agreements, lease or licence before moving in – documentation is important. • Always seek professional legal advice before entering into a lease agreement, terms can be restrictive. • Check the terms of any leases carefully – make sure it’s written in terms that are straightforward. Why growing businesses choose a licence? Flexible licencing provides the ability to relocate to larger or smaller premises as demands of the business change. Providing a low-commitment solution for start-ups, monthly pay as you go charges for the services provided can be beneficial when businesses are in early growth stage. …. read more in our recent blog post on www.spaceforgrowth.co.uk

Kings Hill, West Malling ME19 4YU 01732 523415 @CSBCmanager

2 Cromar Way, Chelmsford CM1 2QE 01245 392000 @WaterhouseBC

Capital Business Centre

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Foxhunter Drive, Linford Wood MK14 6GD 01908 698700 @MKBCmanager

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FRANCHISE Latest stories

Picture: FeatureFlash/Shutterstock.com


Franchise NEWS Domino’s preparing for a bigger slice of the action 1,300 extra staff recruited to deal with the World Cup rush

Dame Kelly Holmes to speak at BFA Annual Conference The two-time Olympic gold medal winner will give a presentation to guests


ame Kelly Holmes, twotime Olympic gold medallist and one of Britain’s most celebrated athletes, will deliver a presentation on day two of the event, which has a theme of ‘Going the distance: get on track to achieve excellence in franchising’. Taking place at Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire on 26-27 June 2014, the Annual Conference is the biggest event in UK franchising, and will feature expert speakers, interactive seminars and round table discussions with industry leaders. Aimed at franchisors old and new, and affiliate members alike, you can purchase tickets to the event at the bfa website. Contact: www.bfa.org

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ith the kick-off to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil rapidly approaching, fastfood chain Domino’s Pizza is planning to recruit 1,300 extra members of staff across its 800 franchises in order to deal with the anticipated surge in customers. Experts at the franchise-model brand expect to sell nearly six million pizzas during June and July, which would stretch from London to Rio de Janeiro and back again. This is great news for the economy at a time when unemployment numbers are just

starting to show signs of recovery. As head of operations at Domino’s Pizza UK, Stuart Lauderdale, pointed out, it is promising for the new employees too; “Over half of our current store managers started out as delivery drivers themselves,” he explained. With England kicking off their campaign against Italy on Saturday June 14, a competition they haven’t won in 48 years, Domino’s will no doubt be hoping hiring the extra staff will mean customers won’t have to wait as long as the Three Lions for a delivery. Contact: www.dominos.co.uk

TGI Fridays sold for £475 million After 40 years, hospitality giant Carlson finally parts ways with the restaurant chain


entinel - owner of Pizza Hut and American fastfood chain, Taco Bell - has purchased TGI Fridays from long time owner, Carlson. Whilst the exact sale price wasn’t released, the Wall Street Journal recently valued the company at $800 million (£475 million). “We are proud of the Fridays brand and strong marketplace momentum that has been created over the past nearly four decades,” said Carlson CEO, Trudy Rautio. “This transaction frees up resources that the company

can deploy to focus on, and accelerate the growth of, its hotel and travel businesses, at a time when significant opportunities exist in these markets.” The first TGI Fridays restaurant opened in 1965 in New York City, building a brand known for handcrafted American food and legendary drinks. Carlson acquired TGI Fridays in 1975 when the brand had just 12 restaurants. Since that time, TGI Fridays has become a global brand, with more than 900 restaurants in operation across 60 countries. Contact: www.carlson.com


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he ZipYard offers a professional tailoring and alterations service in a clean, purpose build environment. Our award winning business is all about outstanding customer service. Whilst there’s no other specialist alterations and tailoring centre in the area there’s numerous businesses offering similar services and competition is great. As the top performing ZipYard and 2012 Franchisee of the Year we have raised a total of 22,500 invoices. Turnover in the first year was £174,500 from 9978 customers. In the 10 months to date of our second year we are at £238,000 from 12,675 customers and on track to hit our target of £274,000 by year end.

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EARLY DAYS As a former driving instructor I was used to dealing with members of the pubic and took pride in my level of service, so when I decided on a career change I already had a very strong customer service ethos. When we first opened it was easy to turn jobs round incredibly quickly. But as word got around and our customer numbers soared, ensuring that customers were happy 100% of the time became more difficult. We soon expanded our team of seamstresses from two to five and now employ eight full time. Working in Cheshire we are dealing with high end customers with high end expectations and it’s a great responsibility working on designer garments sometimes worth over £1,000. Famous footballers and TV celebrities

including Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor and presenter Gordon Burns bring their garments to us. Everton player Marouane Fellaini is one of our regulars. We once stayed open to fix a black tie for an awards ceremony that evening and he turned up later with chocolates for the girls to say thank you. ADDED VALUE We want our customers to believe that nothing is too much trouble. We don’t charge any extra for the express service and often carry out additional minor repairs for free. If one of the seamstresses notices a button needs replacing whilst they are turning up a hem it takes very little additional time to do the complementary work – and customers are always surprised and delighted.

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Frequently people come in off the street with a button that’s just come off – we’ll fix it there and then – again for no charge confident in the knowledge that he or she will regard us as a lifesaver and talk about The ZipYard to others. SYSTEMS The sophisticated till system included as part of the ZipYard package has a customer relationship management feature which tracks customers each time they come in and allows us to make notes. If a regular is getting ready to go on holiday I can input this into the system. Then I can wish them a happy holiday when they pick up the clothes and ask them about it the next time they’re in. Building relationships is paramount– and as a result the average repeat customer visits us about once a month. Some have used us over 200 times spending several thousand pounds. Outstanding customer service means that we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes. Last year a groom and his entire male entourage turned up the day before the wedding in a panic because they had only just discovered their suits were ill fitting. We stayed open through the night to finish the work and to get the party to the church on time and looking their best.

Another customer spent over £400 altering her wardrobe after a successful diet, and an elderly lady brought in all of her clothes to be taken in - all bundled into storage boxes and carried up the high street to us. Nowadays very few people have the time or skill to mend their own clothes –and a lot of our work involves repairs - but even I was surprised when one of our regular customers brought in a pair of her son’s Y fronts for us to fix a tear! For many of our customers we have become their ‘personal’ tailors. One wellheeled man left a message on our answering machine to say his wife was bringing in a ball gown the next day so ‘please leave space on your machine’ for her. They expect a very fast service and we rarely disappoint. A regular moved out of the area but saves up his repairs until he comes back to visit friends – travelling over 160 miles for our quality of service. Grateful customers send flowers, wedding cake, thank you notes and gifts.

THE FUTURE Managing customer expectations isn’t easy and it has been a big challenge for us to be able to turn round work quickly as the volume increases. Recently we dealt with 90 paying customers in one day which is ten an hour! We already open seven days a week and are looking to employ another seamstress to focus full time on express work and have installed a second till to cope with the queues that had begun to form outside the door in busy periods. We are looking ways to extend the range of services we offer including a paid for delivery and collection service which will appeal to our busier user clientele. At the moment I manage ZipYard with the help of one other but I will be recruiting additional customer facing staff to free me up to do more marketing and work on plans to open another ZipYard in the North West.


“To Danuska with eternal thanks. You u saved my day. It means so much more than words could ever say.” - Breeda (bride) We frequently see brides who have bought a dress form the internet. On one occasion a woman came in to the centre in tears with a dress that fitted terribly –by the time we had finished she was parading up and down with a big smile on her face.

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Contact: Emma Downes T: 01530 513307 E: edownes@thezipyard.co.uk W: www.thezipyard.co.uk

12/03/2014 10:21


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28/04/2014 15:58

FRANCHISE Benefits of franchise

Benefits of investing in a


Nigel Toplis, managing director of Recognition Express, ComputerXplorers, The ZipYard and Kall Kwik, and past Chair of the British Franchise Association, discusses the benefits of investing in a franchise over starting your own business


ranchising is neither an industry in its own right, nor even a business. It is though, one of the fastest growing and most consistently successful methods for distributing products and services. It’s a crazy mixture of conformity and individuality that combines the best elements of big business and small operations. To be successful, a franchisee must comply with the franchise system, and yet such compliance will enable the franchisee to achieve a greater level of fulfilment, and financial independence. There is no template for being a successful franchisee – except perhaps the following: • Willingness and propensity to work hard. • Acknowledgement to follow and adopt the franchisor’s system. • A desire to succeed. Successful franchisees have possessed experience ranging from cattle ranching in Patagonia to being a

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greengrocer in Chiswick or a flight attendant for BA. The phrase ‘in business for yourself, not by yourself’, really does capture the essence of franchising. If you open your own business, you are responsible for absolutely everything, whereas with a franchise, the franchisor offers experience, know-how, proven operation methods, marketing tools, sales training, and technical guidance, as well as a corporate identity, trademarks and the all important brand. Nobody wakes up in the middle of the night and exclaims ‘Eureka! I must become a franchisee’ – it simply does not happen. Rather, people come to the conclusion over a period of time that they want to own/run their own business – for a host of different reasons: • Stretch personal ambition. • Rewarded directly for your efforts. • Build valuable capital asset. • Greater job security. • Learn new skills. • Work with your family. • Be a pillar of the local community.

Nobody wakes up in the middle of the night and exclaims ‘Eureka! I must become a franchisee’

With franchising, you get all the benefits of ‘corporate’ head office support and you’re part of a network of people who can swap/share best practice, advice and insights. The franchisor is there to provide both guidance and advice, but also training, marketing tools, programmes, collateral, procurement (if relevant), plus technical and sales support throughout your period in the franchise. There is a very good quote from a book called Growing Pains, that compares running a franchise to own an independent business. ‘... about as easy as navigating uncharted waters in a leaking rowboat with an inexperienced crew while surrounded by a school of sharks. The crew might be glad to know that others before them have made the voyage successfully, and to hear (and learn) of the lessons that other voyagers learned in the process. So, apart from gaining from the experience of those who have gone before, what are the advantages of being in a franchise?


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FRANCHISE Benefits of franchise

Here are 16 specific benefits:

9 Sales/ marketing

The business model will have been tried and tested to ensure it performs.

Getting access to sales and marketing concepts, tools and collateral – which are regularly updated, improved or added to – is one of the major benefits of being a franchisee. As an independent business owner, you will almost certainly not have the time or resource – or maybe even the skills – to develop these yourself.

3 System and tools

10 Improvement to the system

One of the most important benefits is access to a proven business model, and the tools created to support the system.

It is in the interest of the franchisor to continuously improve the system – which of course benefits all franchisees.

4 On-going support

11 Funding

A good franchisor will be available to offer guidance, advice, and help throughout your tenure as a franchisee, and will have personnel and systems to support key areas of the business.

Franchisors should have good relations with all banks, and as such, it is often easier to get funding as a franchisee rather than as an independent owner.

1 Proven business model The franchisor will be able to show that other franchisees are trading successfully through following the system.

2 Tested concept

5 Investment in R&D As an independent business owner, you may not have the funds, time or skills to research new opportunities, nor to launch new products. A good franchisor can - and will.

6 Training New techniques, new markets and new products may require additional training. If you employ staff, they will need training; you yourself may, at times need a refresher course. A franchisor can provide appropriate and on-going training.

7 Brand identity/investment It is very much in the interest of the franchisor to build the brand and to invest in its development and growth. As the brand grows, and the number of franchisees grow, then the greater the benefit for each individual franchisee.

8 Economies of scale A franchisee can benefit from the franchisor’s group purchasing power – enabling franchisees to have a lower cost base.

12 Formal business planning Often, the franchisor will act as a non-executive director of the franchisee’s business, and work with the franchisee to do regular business planning.

13 Best practice One of the most significant benefits of being in the franchise is the opportunity to network and share best practice with other franchisees.

14 Management information It is often said that information is king in business, and certainly the opportunity for the franchisor to collect, collate and distribute management information on anything from new market opportunities to levels of marketing activity or financial benchmarks is a huge benefit to franchisees.

15 Exit route planning Few franchisees stay in the business for the whole of their lives; at some point they will want to sell, management buyout or pass it on to children. The franchisor will have experience in this area and can provide a route for the franchisee – though it is not the

Nigel Toplis is managing director and major shareholder of The Bardon Group, a multi-franchise business that owns and runs four companies. • Recognition Express • The ZipYard • ComputerXplorers • Kall Kwik Nigel has written two books on franchising, was previously Chairman of the bfa and is a Fellow of Lancaster University.

requirement of the franchisor to sell the business on behalf of the franchisee.

16 Leadership and vision The franchisor will provide leadership, vision and strategy for the growth and development of the brand. Franchisees may not agree with every nuance of the vision or every aspect of the strategy, but nevertheless, by following the leadership, they will ultimately benefit as the brand becomes stronger and more robust. Looking at the flip side of the coin, there are some disadvantages to being a franchisee. The franchisee must: • Use franchisor systems to capacity. • Work hard and dedicate fully. • Treat customers, staff and suppliers well. • Build market penetration. • High level of repeat business. • Be honest in all dealings, including the payment of ongoing fees to the franchisor. • Not use the excuse ‘I did not know what to do’. • Co-operate with the rest of the body of franchisees. • Take pride and contribute to the achievement of the franchise as a totality. Note: mavericks do not make good franchisees! Franchising is not for everyone, but when 80% of start up businesses fail within two years (NatWest/bfa survey), and more than 90% of franchisees are still in business in the same period, there is an overwhelming case in favour of franchising; and one thing remains absolutely true about franchising – it allows you to be in business for yourself; but not by yourself.”

Be in business for yourself; but not by yourself

Contact: www.recognition-express.com

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122 June 2014

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ur mailing lists are accurate, detailed and up to date. In addition to very good data, our approach has always been to listen carefully to what our clients want to do, and only then do we apply our experience to select their list of contacts. We also help clients optimise the value of their existing business lists, be it updating and enhancing what they already have, adding newly researched sites or ensuring their data is compliant with current legislation. Figures show that approximately 10% of companies move every year, even more people move within companies so updating your prospect list makes good sense, and can save a lot of time and money. We hold the firm belief that the more accurate and relevant a mailing list the better the

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response it generates. The task of producing our accurate and detailed business information has always rested on our team of dedicated and well trained telephone researchers who check and validate names, job titles and any other useful details. Whilst it is a routine job our researchers work diligently to ensure that names and contact details are correctly spelt, and revalidate information on a regular basis to capture any changes in decision making personnel. All this helps our clients target more of the right people doing the right jobs. Speaking to us and using Corpdata lists helps avoid many of the less obvious pitfalls of using poor data; the impact of names spelt incorrectly, very often results in mailings thrown straight to the bin. The cost of gone-aways make you look stupid, not only wasted mailings

to people no longer there but also the lost opportunity to connect to the right people. The impact on a telesales team when they use an out of date list or a list with missing or inaccurate information, they won’t be impressed and they may sound the same. If you intend to market to other businesses we have a range of databases from our Corpdata Business Premium, Corpdata Trade files to our Focus files packed full of hard to obtain detail. Each and every file is designed specifically for direct marketing; thousands of sites and some with up to 14 decision making contacts to give real choice. Just have a look at www.corpdata.co.uk

28/05/2014 09:25

FRANCHISE The fran man

PRUNING the tree The fran man, Tony Mundella, delves into the fraught-with-danger issue of problem franchisees

M They might try to create negative publicity, which is very easy nowadays via social media

pizza delivery hise with

any franchisors put a lot of time, effort and money into recruiting franchisees and last month I stressed the need for recruiting the right person to be a franchise of your network. However, with all the best efforts and checks, there can be times when it goes wrong. The first thing to consider is why it has gone wrong; there can be many reasons but I am working on the basis that the underlying franchise offering is robust, there is a continuing market for the products or services, and the franchisees are not price disadvantaged in any way. In other words, the issue is with the particular franchisee, not the network. In my experience, franchisees that have strong businesses producing good returns usually do not cause problems. They can be argumentative and seek to change things sometimes, but they know that their business success is linked to that of the franchisor, and will

not rock the boat too much. Therefore, the issues that arise with problem franchisees are often with the poor performers who are perhaps struggling financially, or working long hours for little reward. When this happens, they often look for someone to blame and the most logical person is the franchisor. Sometimes they will be up front and say that the business model does not work, their area is unviable, they were misled when they bought the franchise, or similar concerns. These people can sometimes be turned around with a bit of intensive care, and if that gets their business back on track, then it is worth the investment of time in working with them. If it cannot be done - they may have lost all drive and confidence or were just the wrong person to start with - then the best option is to try to effect a resale of the business. However, they need to hold it together until that can be achieved. The worst case is where a franchisee is not communicative

with the franchisor and tries to undermine the franchisor’s business and reputation. This might start by trying to whip up the other franchisees to complain to the franchisor, or spread discontent throughout the network. They might try to create negative publicity, which is very easy nowadays via social media. The only response here must be swift and decisive. It should not happen if there is continuing contact and dialogue so that any dissatisfaction is identified and addressed early on, but if it does come to a head, then the credibility of a franchisee who has had his agreement terminated quite legitimately, is significantly less than one who is still part of the network. As always in such cases, detailed notes of what took place, how the franchisor responded, and taking legal advice before any action, will mitigate any backlash to the franchisor. Tony can be contacted on tony@franman.co.uk, 01622 844320 or 07785 111272.


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A smarter way to finance your BUSINESS


Nick Smith, group sales director of Ultimate Finance, uses a case study to explain how invoice finance can help ambitious businesses to grow.

ith the economy roaring forward, SMEs are hungry for finance, but banks are not bending over backwards to lend. Many businesses have started to explore alternative forms of lending, one of the most popular being asset-based finance. Providers of assetbased finance solutions take a much less rigid approach when viewing the assets of the potential borrower. One such asset is the cash tied up in the sales ledger, and the lender can provide an advance against the value of unpaid invoices. This is a very cost effective way of speeding up cash flow, and giving the business additional working capital. What’s more, the finance provider will often take over management of the company’s sales ledger and provide credit control, which in many instances is preferable to handling it all in house.

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The business relationship I’ve had with Ultimate is by far and away the best

HOW PAPERFREE USED INVOICE FINANCE TO BUILD A GLOBAL BUSINESS Paperfree is a forward looking business that has pioneered the development of the e-portfolio in the UK. Like any new business, especially one that revolutionises an established way of doing things, the early years were tough, with a number of cash flow challenges. However, with the help of Ultimate, things are now on the up. Managing director, Bob Smart explains: “When BMW bought Rover back in the mid-nineties they wanted to measure the competencies of 8,000 staff against a national framework, without it interfering with productivity. I headed up the project and developed Europe’s first ever e-portfolio programme for the assessment of vocational competencies.” The Paperfree business grew from there, and clients now include about forty FE colleges, eighty training providers, and a number blue chip global clients like BT, Rolls Royce, the Ministry of Defence, and part of the Canadian Government.

THE PAIN OF SLOW PAYMENT Despite the fact that he was first to market with a great product, cash flow was a real challenge. “Many of my clients are colleges, and while they are not going bust, they can take forever to pay,” explained Bob. “I can’t sell stock or materials to raise cash. All I’ve got is a few staff and I can’t lay them off,

but they need paying! So cash flow has been a major headache.”

Rover, BT, Rolls Royce and First Group - and I can honestly say the business relationship I’ve had with Ultimate is by far and away the best.”

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR “I started using an invoice finance company in London, but they would only fund a small portion of the invoice because there was no asset to secure it against.” continued Bob. “When I was introduced to Ultimate, their attitude was different – hugely different. It wasn’t ‘You want £10,000; what asset can we secure it against?’, instead they listened carefully, they understood my business model, they noted the fact I’d never had a bad debt, they realised my clients weren’t going bust, and they said they think there’s a way they can help. Their flexibility and creativity was so refreshing, and I thought, “Wow, that’s exactly what I want”. That relationship has grown over the last eight years, and even when I’ve had a few problems, they’ve been fantastic. I had a major client who completely messed up the purchase order process and the willingness of Ultimate to help was extraordinary. The owners and the decision makers are accessible and I can speak to them myself. “The service has been exemplary, the friendliness, the professionalism, the willingness to help. Even if you can’t get hold of your particular client relationship manager, everyone else kind of knows your business. In all my years in business, I’ve worked with a variety of clients and partners including Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW,

It would be fair to say, without their help, I’d be in a very different place

A WHOLE NEW WAY OF LOOKING AT ASSETBASED FINANCE Clearly delighted with the service provided, Bob went on to declare: “The way I look at it, I’m buying a service. I can outsource my admin, I can outsource my programming, why not outsource my accounts department? I can’t do as good a job in house, it would cost me more money and my account manager at Ultimate is much nicer than me on the phone, so I get great CRM as a bonus! I don’t have to send the nasty letters or make the nasty calls, and when I raise an invoice I have nothing to worry about – you can’t put a price on that! Even as the business gets bigger I’d be stupid to change that arrangement.”

A BRIGHT PAPERFREE FUTURE The business is now going from strength to strength and Bob is delighted with Ultimate’s contribution. “It would be fair to say, without their help sometimes, I’d be in a very different place. Right now, we’re really growing, with some very big developments coming to fruition, and Ultimate’s assistance has been invaluable.” Contact: www.ultimatefinance.co.uk

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SPONSORED ARTICLE Starting a business for exit

Starting a business FOR EXIT Mike O’Connell, CEO of Isosceles Finance, advisor to entrepreneurs, explains how decisions at start-up could significantly impact a successful exit


ne of the current hot topics of debate among business commentators is “should the first time entrepreneur start a new business venture with the exit in mind?” In truth, the answer very much depends on the type of business being set up, and why it’s being set up, but in my opinion, for the ambitious entrepreneur the answer is an unequivocal “yes”. In recent months I have lead on the completion of two transactions with entrepreneurs who have successfully sold for a second time. It is no co-incidence that in both cases the founders grew larger businesses second time around in about half the time. There is much we can learn from the path already blazed by the successful entrepreneur:


First time entrepreneurs often start with only a vague idea of a good business concept. They enter the maze of developing a business without a map. Some get lucky, stumbling

along the right path by chance, but some take a wrong turn, retrace steps, and some end up back at the beginning. The successful entrepreneur, on the other hand, having been through an exit, is acutely aware of the need to plot their entire journey from start to finish. They know that the foundations put in place from inception are pivotal to a successful exit – and getting their money out.


Successful entrepreneurs imagine their business as the large company it will be at exit, and not as the small start-up it really is.


They understand that the painful, and what seems pointless, areas of business administration are in fact early priorities: • Structuring the shareholding to incentivise and attract the right staff. • The three-year plan, forecasts and budgets are habitual and mandatory and more than simply nice to have.

• Control over costs and recruitment are established early. • Management accounting processes are put in place from the outset. • Supplier and customer contracts are standardised. • Consistent employment contracts, which conform to current legislation, are adopted. • Proper CRM and lead tracking processes are established. • Company filings are completed and kept up to date. Successful entrepreneurs know that loose ends will unravel at the most inconvenient and unexpected moment – normally during due diligence, presenting the buyer with an opportunity on a plate to renegotiate in their favour.


They create their own luck, but do this by taking calculated risks. They consistently cap the downside and know when to stop investing. They are not simply blind, compulsive gamblers.

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SPONSORED ARTICLE Starting a business for exit


They identify and concentrate a disproportionate amount of resource on value enhancing activities. First timers tend to martial resources to douse fires, and service those who shout loudest.


Successful entrepreneurs are: • Realistic in setting themselves a timescale to exit. • Pragmatic about what can be achieved in this time. • Sensible about what value they can expect for their business in this time. • Honest about what their key strengths and key weaknesses really are.


They move quickly to recruit excellent people. They are less governed by budget and more concerned about quality. They understand that the real cost is pace of execution.


Successful entrepreneurs will spend more time

outside the office developing a wider network, talking to customers, partners, intermediaries, competitors and industry experts - since it is from this group that an acquirer will emerge.


They spend less time trying to prove a point and don’t get bogged down in points of principle. They are pragmatic and crystal clear about what is nonnegotiable in the way they run their business. By beginning with the end in mind, the second time entrepreneur is less likely to be distracted, and is ruthlessly focussed on the plan and what they need to achieve. Not all second time entrepreneurs are successful. The key differentiator between the successful and the unsuccessful is the understanding that luck is an important factor. The successful second time entrepreneur is open to luck

First time entrepreneurs enter the maze of developing a business without a map

and embraces it. They know how to exploit this luck and still deliver the business plan. The unsuccessful tend to believe that their success was all through self determination, and therefore because they are successful first time, they must be successful second time. All they need to do is keep spending money and time, and they must surely be successful again. My advice to any first time entrepreneur would be to really consider what a successful exit would look like, and to incorporate this into their business planning from the outset. Every year, as part of the budget process, imagine if you wanted to sell this business in 12 months’ time, what would it look like, where would the value be, and who would you need to talk to? Contact: www.isoscelesfinance.co.uk

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SPONSORED ARTICLE Professional Direct

I don’t need PI Professional indemnity insurance can protect you and your business, says Stuart McNab of Professional Direct. Would you risk everything by not being covered?


irstly, I should explain what PI is. It stands for professional indemnity and it is an insurance cover that could help protect both you and your business from allegations from your clients or customers of wrongdoing, mis-advising, or failure to perform or deliver. Pretty simple huh? There is probably a simple way to buy

it online too, a no brainer. But hold your horses; most businesses should probably have this insurance but don’t think they need it... Surely they are right? I mean, I’m a professional and I don’t make mistakes do I? Ever? What kind of business would I be in if I made mistakes. But what about those subcontractors, or the new staff

Professional Indemnity Insurance it’s a no brainer

that are settling in, they don’t make mistakes either? Wait, I could be sued if they do, or if my client thinks I have, even when I haven’t. Professional indemnity insurance wouldn’t cover me if they did sue anyway... Hold on, that’s not right. It does cover me? Even if I didn’t do anything wrong? This argument isn’t going very well...

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SPONSORED ARTICLE Professional Direct

Luckily for me, my clients are all lovely, and if I made a mistake or something didn’t go quite right, they wouldn’t dare sue me, they would understand and everything would be resolved quickly. No lengthy expensive legal proceedings here, thank you very much. We don’t have a compensation culture and people are not encouraged by TV adverts to claim if they can blame, right? Oh wait, was that another lawyer advert on TV... Professional indemnity can cover me for legal expenses as well as any compensation that I might have to pay? Even if I didn’t do anything wrong. This is starting to sound like something I can get on board with. No wait ,there are still more reasons I don’t need PI... Terms and conditions! Yes, my terms and conditions will save me. I

mean, why else would I have them? They clearly state who is responsible for what, and show what my clients can expect from me and they probably agreed to them too. Everything is clear and transparent, no problems here then. But if my client thinks something has gone wrong, maybe they think I gave them the wrong advice, are they going to remember my terms and conditions and are they going to care? After all they might be out of pocket. Those terms and conditions don’t pay my legal fees, but PI cover could... another wrong turn. I know, money... professional indemnity insurance is really, really expensive. Especially if I want something tailored to my profession or trade. I bet it costs much, much more than paying all the legal fees (those low cost, reasonable legal fees that aren’t

Professional indemnity can cover me for legal expenses as well as any compensation that I might have to pay?

£150 an hour) that might come up, and compensation... Sure, I can pay that out of my own pocket, I’ll just sell my car. I like long walks in the rain. Oh wait, clients don’t take too lightly to me being late, and my clothes do look better if they are dry... PI cover could be just a few hundred pounds a year? Probably better to get PI then... one more chance. PI cover could protect me from claims made in the year I pay for it, but what if I have made a mistake in the past that I don’t know about, or what if a client thinks I have. I bet it can’t cover that? Nailed it! Professional indemnity insurance isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Argument won. Thank you and goodnight! But wait, what’s this word, retroactive... sounds like an evil villain in the latest Spiderman film. It isn’t? Being covered retroactively can protect me for work I have done in the past? Oh. Well that does sound good. Cover for this year, and if I have been trading for a while without professional indemnity insurance, I can get cover for that too. It looks like professional indemnity insurance is worth it after all; I should probably get it sorted in case I make a mist cake. Contact: www.professionaldirect.co.uk

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Sponsored Article



ichard Myers, director of Transmit Start-Ups has been an entrepreneur since he was a teenager and now with fellow directors Damian Baetens and Ian Straker his business is playing a major part in helping the next generation of businesspeople. Transmit Start-Ups is part of the Government’s national start up loan initiative and has already given £2m loans to get 300 businesses all around the country, up and running. The service Richard’s company offers is simple. If an entrepreneur needs a small injection of funding to get it started Transmit is able to give the all-important initial loan.

Maria Caruana Galizia, MD Candle and Bell, with Transmit Start-Ups directors, L-R: Damian Baetens, Ian Straker and Richard Myers Often it is a relatively small sum that allows someone to become self-employed, the average figure is around £6k. There are also specialist business advisers on hand to give support as well as general advice on finance and one to one mentoring. Here are three examples of people who achieved their ambitions of running their own businesses with Transmit Start-Ups’ help: Maria Caruana Galizia is a 30 year old Newcastle film-maker who has worked on the Game of Thrones TV series and major feature films. She runs her business, Candle and Bell Limited, from Clavering House in the

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L-R: Barry Jackson, his daughter, Cyd, his wife, Ed and TV presenter George Clarke outside the Hivehaus centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, and has a wealth of experience behind her. She has invested her Transmit Start-Ups loan primarily on marketing her film, animation and video production services. Maria said: “I shopped around to find the best place to get business support and decided Transmit Start-Ups was ideal for me as the directors are all so experienced in the creative industries. They are really pro-active with me. I know they have been in some of the situations I need help with and always nudge me in the right direction.” Success has also tasted sweet for a County Durham tearoom, The Cake House. This business is the owner Tracy Parnaby’s first step into full-time self-employment. Formerly a manager with Durham County Council Tracy had started making cakes as a hobby. She took advantage of the opportunity to be made redundant then took the plunge to launch her dream tearoom. Tracy was given a loan from Transmit Start-Ups without which she admits she could not have opened her tearoom. The loan helped to fund her fixture and fittings such as the refrigeration and cookers

needed to operate. Another entrepreneur who has benefited from financial help, Barry Jackson from Lancashire, has seen his innovative modular living space idea, the Hivehaus, featured on Channel Four’s George Clarke’s Amazing Places. As a result he had 1,000s of enquiries from all over the world. His loan gave him time to develop the Hivehaus concept away from his day job as a self-employed builder. He said: “The Transmit Start-Ups funding has been really invaluable as it enabled me to really concentrate on my prototype and not worry about how I was going to pay my bills. I was able to hit the ground running with my idea which has been fantastic. Their support has helped me get Hivehaus from an initial concept to launch in just 18 months.” For more infomation contact us at info@transmitstartups.co.uk or visit transmitstartups.co.uk

17/04/2014 17:31


A beginners guide TO VoIP

What is VoIP? If you are involved in the business world in any capacity, it is likely that you have heard the term ‘VoIP’ mentioned at least once. Plenty of people have heard of the technology, but far fewer are familiar with what it is and how it can help your business. VoIP stands for ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’. You may have heard it referred to by

other names as well; some people call it Voice over Broadband (VoB) or Voice over Networks (VoN), while others simply refer to it as Internet Telephony. This all sounds complicated, but VoIP’s purpose is simple: it enables people to communicate via the internet. In the past, a physical exchange was needed to communicate by telephone, and

this technology is still in use in many workplaces. However, it is no longer necessary. Instead, VoIP uses an internet connection to carry and transport your voice to the person you are communicating with. Why are businesses switching to VoIP? This technology would not have been developed if there were not significant advantages to using

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it. VoIP is better than traditional telephone communication in many ways, especially for businesses that often have to keep many people connected at once. The first advantage is the cost. VoIP enables you to communicate using the internet, just like sending an email, liking a Facebook post or commenting on an article. You may have noticed something that connects all of these: it doesn’t cost anything to do them. Similarly, internet calls don’t cost you when you communicate using VoIP. Landline telephones in the workplace typically require equipment to manage all of the calls, as well as a physical connection to the employees. If the business expands and more people are hired, then more cabling has to be installed to connect them up. Often, the call managing equipment also has to be upgraded to deal with the extra call volume. VoIP eliminates all this. The equipment necessary to manage the calls comes in the form of servers, which are located with the VoIP provider. A business does not have to worry about maintenance, expansion or upgrades; all it needs is a working internet connection for employees. If you have a good quality broadband connection, as most businesses do, then VoIP can increase the quality of your calls. Because your conversation is transmitted digitally, the technology can make use of voice encoding algorithms to ensure excellent sound quality, whether you are talking to international clients or colleagues across the office.

VoIP and mobile devices Of course, landlines are not the most popular way of communicating at the moment. Most people use a mobile phone of some kind to get in touch. This is very advantageous, particularly as they can be used on the move, and many businesses might not opt for VoIP as they would rather have the portability of mobiles. However, it is entirely possible to combine the two. VoIP typically comes with a mobile client that allows you to install it on a variety of smartphones so you can communicate with your office while out and about. As with any internet call using VoIP, this will not cost you anything, making it perfect for busy employees who spend a lot of time away from the workplace. How does VoIP save you money? One of the key advantages of VoIP is how much cheaper it is than traditional landline telephones. As previously mentioned, the technology allows for free calls over the internet, which is a big money saver. However, there are plenty of other advantages. Although calls that are made to traditional landlines are still charged, they will usually be much cheaper than usual as they can be routed via the internet. Often, firms like VoIPstudio also offer ‘one second billing’, which means the cost of the call will not be rounded up to the nearest minute. If you have spent five minutes and 17 seconds on the phone, you will be charged

for that amount of time, not for six minutes. Of course, you will also find that the amount of money you save by not having to maintain and upgrade the equipment for a physical landline connection is significant. In fact, you can usually just ‘pay as you grow’, and add new accounts to your VoIP service at any time. How does VoIP improve office productivity? The money you will save is not the only advantage of switching to VoIP. It can also improve the VoIP uses productivity of your office by a an internet surprising amount. VoIP has a connection number of features that can make to carry and your business more efficient, transport your especially if making calls is voice to the a large part of your day.For person you are example, VoIPstudio’s product communicating can be fully integrated with a with. number of programs commonly used by businesses, such as Sage ACT!, and Salesforce. This often means you can combine contacts for both programs with ease, and simply click on clients to call them straight away. Conclusion Hopefully you are now well versed in what VoIP is, and how it can help your business that you will understand why so many companies have been switching to the service. Of course, there are many other features of VoIP that have not been covered here, so it is well worth researching to find out more. You might find it is just what you need to improve your business. Contact: www.VoIPstudio.com

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SUCCESS He said/she said

He said / she said This month, the entrepreneurs are tweeting about purchasing gaffes, naming charities and the FA Cup. Opinions (and spelling errors) are all their own Richard Branson @richardbranson So sorry for the families of #CheekiRafiki crew. At least they now have closure having done all they could to help bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25539...

Theo Paphitis @ TheoPaphitis Not a good day in the #office for French rail co! pic.twitter.com/ WMhmmpKqqr

Richard, a keen sailor himself, sends out his condolences to the families of the missing sailors of CheekiRafiki.

Theo has a chuckle at the revelation that French Rail ordered 2,000 trains that were too big for their platforms. A valuable lesson in proper planning!

Lord Alan Sugar @Lord_Sugar

Kelly Hoppen @ IMKellyHoppen

@piersmorgan Hi Piersy I’m polishing the cup up for Hull,maybe in vain. If u win it today, I expect apology to Wenger

A big thank you to all the entrepreneurs who came through the @OfficialDenLift these last few weeks without you there’d be no @ BBCDragonsDen

Lord Sugar has a little fun with Arsenal fan, Piers Morgan by goading him before the FA Cup final. We doubt Wenger ever got that apology though.

That’s a wrap! Kelly finishes up filming series 12 of Dragon’s Den. Time to get your pitches ready for series 13.

Lee McQueen @LeeMcQueen

Holly Tucker @HollyLTucker

An English Legend... Good luck in retirement Jonny Wilkinson! RT if you remember this historic moment #2003 #RWC Huge sports fan, Lee is overcome by nostalgia as he pays tribute to the retirement of one of rugby’s greats, Jonny Wilkinson.

Please help think of a name for charity we are starting. We are 1/4 way through building a school for these children. Founder of NotOnTheHighStreet.com, Holly Tucker, appeals for a name for her new charity in Africa. We like “Afri-CAN”. How about you?

138 June 2014

TB33SUCCESShesaidshesaid.ga.indd 138

30/05/2014 09:15













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29/04/2014 14:55 10:31 29/04/2014

Profile for Talk Business

Talk Business Magazine June 2014  

Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...

Talk Business Magazine June 2014  

Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...