W W W . T A L K B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . C O . U K
TALK BUSINESS MARCH 2013
FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR
March 2013 £4.50
BY THE ENTREPRENEUR
Cloud nine… The business case for cloud computing
James Caan on the life-changing funding for entrepreneurs
Start-Up Loans special
Go big orgo home Freelancer.com founder Matt Barrie talks world domination
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8 Questions you need to answer while planning your promotion & 1 Completely unique product.
What can your customers do to ensure that their merchandise based promotion runs smoothly? Depending on the complexity and scope of the campaign you may not need to consider all of the following but these are the seven questions we believe you need to answer when planning your promotionâ€Ś
1. Who am I targeting a. Is it your key demographic or are
you trying to attract a different sort of customer? b. Is it an internal or external campaign? c. Age, Gender, Location, Language?
2. What is my message a. Raise awareness b. Loyalty reward or thank you c. Gift as an apology 3. What response do I want a. New enquiries b. Put your details within reach for when needed
c. Amuse your contact 4. Distribution/Fulfilment a. Do you want something to go
with your mailings or be given out by hand? b. Would you like us to assemble and fulfil a package of goods and send on your behalf? c. Would you like to buy for a single campaign or buy a stock of goods for us to hold and send out on your instructions?
5. Packaging a. Are you happy with the standard packaging or would you prefer
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something more bespoke?
b. Do you require mailing cartons? 6. When are the goods required
This is where planning ahead really can get you significant returns, with a longer lead time your budget can go further enabling you to add bespoke features and packaging at a similar price or taking the standard product at a discount. However, these savings are only realistically achievable on orders of more than a few thousand pounds. For the majority of orders we would advise giving your supplier a month for stock items and 6 weeks for far east air imports to ensure that they hit your deadline. Donâ€™t forget any time to be added after you have received the goods for packing and fulfilment (unless your supplier is fulfilling for you). See the table opposite as a guide.
proactive in the current climate ensuring that we retain and add to our client base. Our customers, both existing and prospective, know that the majority of products we sell are available from multiple sources so we have to differentiate on our service. We have recently subscribed to an online feedback service so we can keep track of how we are doing in our customersâ€™ eyes in an open and independent forum (see link from our homepage) and so far I am pleased to say we have received 99% positive feedback on the service provided. Particularly pleasing are the individual members of staff in our sales and artwork studio teams who have been thanked through this system for their effort on behalf of their clients.
7. What is my budget
Quite often the starting point but your budget may be determined by the answers to the other questions, particularly when looking at what it is that you wish to achieve and how many people you wish to achieve it with! That said, you will need to know where your bottom line is.
8. Are you using the right supplier
This is a hard one to answer you can start with a basic price comparison, but ensure that you include any hidden costs including carriage as this can make a big difference to the total spent. Look at incentives to buy more regularly such as free storage and distribution at cost. From our own perspective at EMC Advertising Gifts we are being more
What is Possible
4 Months Plus
16 weeks or more is in most cases long enough to develop a completely new product adding a function to an existing product. This could include making a bespoke mould for a hard plastic or metal product and arranging bespoke packaging for a retail quality finish. For larger quantities the price should be similar to the standard product. There is time to receive a fully finished pre-production sample also for any safety certification required for the new product.
12 weeks is adequate time to buy an off the shelf or marginally redesigned product from the far east and ship by sea saving a large cost on bulkier orders. There is also time for safety certifications required. There should also be time for a pre-production sample if required.
This is enough time for air freight orders from far east. These will usually be lighter consignments although more bulky goods can be sent with an increased carriage cost. Typically you will have a selection of options from a range of colours, materials and fittings. Moulded products made from PVC and small metal goods such as badges and medals are also available in this timescale.
Choice of over 150,000 off the shelf product lines from UK and European warehouse stocks finished to your specification and printed, embroidered, embossed or engraved with your design. There are also made to order products available in this time such as leather and PU folders, umbrellas, pantone matched mugs, USB drives, full colour printed pens, plastics (from available moulds), laminate bags, paper products and watches.
Less Than 2 Weeks
Many of the off the shelf items are available in as little as 24 hours on request so if you have been let down or take advantage of a late booking for an event just give us your artwork, budget and the delivery time and we will give you a range of options. In some cases you may be charged for express delivery to cover extra costs incurred surrounding the printing and upgraded courier deliveries.
What have you got that’s new? As I’m sure is true in many businesses the majority of our sales come from a core line of goods that are tried and tested and put forward as trusted options, however the question we are most asked particularly at trade shows is “what is new”? This year we have many new products but one in particular that stands out as completely unique. I was approached by Northern Irish engineer and designer Joe Maginness with a range of goods that focus on the need for the traveller to rest and sleep while travelling in the upright position and in relative discomfort on planes trains and automobiles. He started by designing a cushion which rested on the persons thighs supporting their neck and through many iterations this has become the napsac travel bag. The bag contains a hard spine and
soft neck cushion and by simply turning the bag round and wearing it across the chest it enables the traveller to rest their head forwards in a half foetal position while remaining straight and comfortably within their seat. Placing the bag on your front also has the added bonus of making it inaccessible to thieves. Having tested it myself I can confirm that it really works. These are being trialled through airlines for inflight and preflight sales but we are in the great position of having exclusive access to the bag for companies wishing to use as a give away for clients or their own employees. The bag is made from tough polyester and features two internal pockets and two exterior mesh pockets as well as an internal laptop compartment. Please contact us for more details.
Contact: E: Simonkay@emcadgifts.co.uk T: 020 8492 2200 W: www.emcadgifts.co.uk
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11 Editor’s letter 13 Letters 15 News & events
Focus on success
18 Winner takes all Freelancer.com founder, Matt Barrie 24 Take one company Nimbletank, the award-winning mobile agency 27 Introducing… TB grills an up-and-comer 28 12 steps to success Carly Ward shows us step 9 31 From balcony to boardroom David Pearl’s business journey 35 Book reviews 130 He said/she said What are our entrepreneurs saying this month?
Focus on money 37 Start-Up Loans special James Caan’s inside story, top tips for your application and inspiring success stories 45 Maximise your money Best ways to maximise your turnover 47 CFO to CEO? The finance-savvy CEO
51 Before you sign on the dotted line… Legal agreements
Focus on strategy
86 One good intern deserves another… The benefits of internships 89 The personal touch Face to face meeting 92 Secret diary of an entrepreneur Wazuko MD’s trip to Guernsey
Focus on technology 95 Our man in the valley David Richards’ tech column 97 Wowed by the cloud Business case for cloud computing 100 Mobility = profitability? Remote access tips 103 The back up plan: part 2 Keep your business online 105 I’ve got an app for that… Our fave business apps
55 Going global International ecommerce
106 Canon vs Fujitsu This month’s best mobile scanners
58 The product life cycle Keeping up with shorter lifespans
109 Franchise news
63 Growing pains Growth routes for start-ups
111 Spotlight The detective project
Focus on marketing 69 Closer to home Nurturing your customer base
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83 Why don’t HR leaders make it to the top job? HR director to CEO
53 The branding column Rich With
67 The marketing column Kimberly Davis
Focus on people 81 The people column Lee McQueen
Focus on franchise
115 Take one franchisee Martin & Co lettings 117 Best of both The benefits of the franchise model
72 Death of a travelling salesman Technology’s impact on sales
118 Roll up, roll up… The British and International Franchise Exhibition
74 The crash course: PPC Navigating Google Adwords
120 IGF on cashflow assistance
79 The sales doctor Solving your sales problems
123 Cashflows on switching payments processor
Focus on advice
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Scan this QR code to register for your free copy of Talk Business EDITOR
Helen Coffey email@example.com DESIGN
Stephanie Allingham firstname.lastname@example.org Ross Trigg email@example.com PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
Natasha Singh firstname.lastname@example.org WEB DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Mitchell Finlay email@example.com ADVERTISING MANAGER
Scott Hartley firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER
Damien Ward email@example.com ACCOUNT MANAGER
Trystan Hurley firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING DIRECTOR
Jay Boisvert email@example.com 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 Ltd. Floor 8, 6 Mitre Passage Peninsula Central Greenwich, London SE10 0ER T:02036174681 ©Copyright 2013. 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.
Loan nation Spring may not quite have sprung here in the UK thus far, but things are looking up as we officially say goodbye to winter. I am well used to being told by SMEs that there is no money out there for the struggling start-up – in particular, that it is nigh on impossible to get finance as a young, inexperienced entrepreneur. Yet they are ignoring a massive source of funding right under their noses; one which is designed for young business founders, and which comes neatly wrapped up with mentoring and all kinds of extra resources and support. With the news that the Government Start Up Loans scheme has just supported its 1000th young entrepreneur, we at Talk Business thought we’d celebrate with an inside look at how it’s all working so far. The phenomenal James Caan talks to us exclusively about why he got involved with the scheme on page 37. We get the inside story of some of the Start Up Loan recipients who have launched their fledgling businesses, and we give you the best bits of advice when it comes to applying to ensure you succeed in getting your loan approved. For those of you looking to grow rather than launch your business, we have advice on capturing a slice of the international ecommerce market on page 55, and the benefits of different routes to growth are given a once over on page 63. Plus, head to page 97 and check out our in-depth feature on getting the best out of the cloud for your business. Enjoy,
Helen Coffey Editor
Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd cannot be held responsible for such variation.
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Power players James Caan is one of the UK’s most successful and dynamic entrepreneurs. He is the founder and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw, which specialises in buyouts, venture capital, turnarounds and real estate investment in the UK. In 2007, James was invited to join the panel of BBC TV show Dragons’ Den, where he invested in a diverse range of businesses. James has always believed that the UK is an excellent platform for British entrepreneurs, and is passionate about the SME sector. Read his inside story on why he became the face of the Government Start Up Loan scheme on page 37
Liz Elting is the co-CEO and co-founder of TransPerfect,
the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services. She has earned numerous awards for her outstanding entrepreneurship, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and American Express and Entrepreneur’s Woman of the Year Award. She is featured regularly in the media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, O (The Oprah Magazine), Financial Times, Reader’s Digest, and Crain’s New York Business. Read her advice on taking advantage of the international ecommerce market on page 55
Simon Drew, a qualified accountant, is CEO of InterResolve,
the claims mediation expert. He became chief executive of the company following a year as CFO and COO at the core of the business. Simon has over seven years’ experience in the insurance industry, working with the large US-based global corporate insurance broker, Aon, as head of management accounts and US reporting, and smaller private equity backed insurance intermediaries as FD. Prior to the insurance sector, Simon spent 13 years in the logistics arena with P&O. Read his feature on why CFOs make the best CEOs in times of trouble on page 47
Jo Sellwood-Taylor and Sharon Mullen co-founded the
Mullwood Partnership. Both senior headhunters with over 40 years’ combined experience, prior to this they have both held board leadership positions with prominent executive search firms. In 2000 they created a highly successful executive search business, predominately focused within senior executive/ board level global HR assignments. They sold to a leading international group in 2008 and continued to lead and grow the business until exiting in 2011. Read their study on why HR directors shouldn’t be overlooked for CEO status on page 83
12 March 2013
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What’s on your mind this month? We had a rummage in the Talk Business inbox and picked out our favourite musings
If you’d like to send us your thoughts about Talk Business, or anything else that’s happening on the SME scene, just get in touch: email: firstname.lastname@example.org snail mail: Aston Greenlake, 8th floor, 6 Mitre Passage, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0ER
GOOGLE FAIL Dear Talk Business, I can’t believe how much Google have turned their back on small businesses with the move to paid clicks on Google Shopping [The big debate: paying for Google, February]. They have totally done a 180, and gone against everything they used to say they believed in – like a better search engine shopping experience for both consumers and businesses. How is a small online seller like me supposed to compete with the massive ecommerce companies?
@Vault49 are proud to have designed the cover of @TalkBusinessMag - see it here, and the interview with V49 on p68
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
LETTER OF THE MONTH
Dear editor, I was really impressed and inspired by the story of Rachel Lowe in the last issue of Talk Business [The daredevil, February]. She is an amazing example of how entrepreneurs can get back on their feet, even when they think they have hit rock bottom. I have had a similar experience with my first business, which went bankrupt. I felt ashamed about having failed, and a lot of people told me I shouldn’t try again. It takes a lot of courage to pick yourself up. You shouldn’t listen to those that say you’ll never succeed though – you learn a lot from the mistakes you make the first time around, and if you refuse to give up, the experience just makes you a stronger entrepreneur. Yours,
STOP HORSING AROUND Hi, After the horse meat scandal last month, I think UK businesses can learn a lot about brand management and damage control. Obviously, mislabelling your product or lying about it in any way is just not acceptable. We should all be aiming for transparency with our customers; deception, as we’ve seen, always comes back to haunt you later. However, the bigger question here is how much brands such as Findus will be damaged by a scandal like this. As we’ve seen countless times before, consumers have pretty short memories when it comes to favoured brands. We all make mistakes after all: the big differentiator is how we respond. With our own businesses, the key is to always apologise and try and make amends wherever possible. That way, we can limit the damage which is done to our brand when we make a mistake. Thanks,
the month… @growthfunders Coffee break read... British SMEs end the year cautiously optimistic c/o @TalkBusinessMag @MaxAimMatt @peterg Just seen your article in Talk Business. An interesting read @AxiomEPM_UK @TalkBusinessMag investigates how #business can better deal with the impact of bad weather @TheBusinessShow How did you end your year? @TalkBusinessMag report British SMEs end the year cautiously optimistic @businessawards “British SMEs end the year cautiously optimistic” @TalkBusinessMag - great insight to the future for UK SMEs @JaneMLee Grt article by @darylwillcox in @TalkBusinessMag on staff retention. Tip: ditch ‘staff’ & use ‘colleagues’ :-) @timewisejobs Brits struggle to balance family and work - says new study (via @talkbusinessmag) What’s your experience? @fidelitygrowth Read the thoughts of @SimonLondonVC on hiring great talent in this month’s @TalkBusinessMag
David Pilling talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 13
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News & events
BRITAIN’S SMES ARE YOUTH LOVES SLAVES TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP SMARTPHONES SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS are feeling overwhelmed by the intrusion technology causes in their personal lives, according to new research from specialist business insurer, Hiscox. The study analysed how UK business owners were coping with the ever-changing technology landscape, and how they are handling the impact on their personal lives as they seek to keep up with the changes. Despite 89% of those surveyed feeling they have mastered the use of technology in their business, 38% admitted they have difficulty switching off and are working even when they shouldn’t be. This negatively impacts on their private lives. Alan Thomas, small business insurance expert at Hiscox, said: ‘As SMEs seek to keep their business running at all times, the option to clock off at 5pm is fast diminishing, and being “switched on” is becoming a normal way of life. ‘SMEs have become masters of technology but slaves to their work’. The research shows that SME owners are maintaining an “always on” attitude when it comes to their business, with 64% having made or received work-related communications when it may not have been appropriate. As a result, 37% said they found work intrusive on their personal lives. Small business owners are so connected to their technology that they are regularly accused of not being able to relax or wind down, with 24% admitting that if they go for too long without checking their work emails and messages they start to feel anxious. See the results at: www.hiscox.co.uk
Dates for the diary Valiant Business Fair Spring 2013 7 March Rugby www.valiantbusinessfair.co.uk
The Business Growth Show 19 March Leeds thebusinessgrowthshow.com
Cass Business School Debate: The future belongs to female leaders 7 March London www.cass.city.ac.uk
Entrepreneurship and Content Marketing Day Event 20 March Google Campus, London www.meetup.com/search-london
SMILE: Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise 2013 11 March London simply-smile2013.com
The Business Growth Show 27 March Birmingham thebusinessgrowthshow.com
Deal or No Deal: Legal Best Practice for Tech Start-ups 14 March London mofodealornodeal.eventbrite.co.uk
The Business Growth Show 12 April Walsall thebusinessgrowthshow.com
London Business School Private Equity & Venture Capital Conference 15 March London www.londonpevcconference2013.org Russian Business Week 2013 15-16 March LSE, London www.rbwforum.com
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News & events
CABINET OFFICE BACKS TECH ACCELERATOR EUROPE’S FIRST ACCELERATOR for technology-based social ventures, Bethnal Green Ventures, in partnership with Nominet Trust and Nesta, is to receive support from the Cabinet Office’s Social Incubator Fund. Bethnal Green Ventures will receive a £1.8m investment – from the Cabinet Office, Nominet Trust and Nesta – to back, over the next four years, up to 80 early stage technology start-ups tackling social and environmental problems. Bethnal Green Ventures will offer £15,000 of investment to 20 early stage social technology ventures per year, enabling successful applicants to concentrate on their start-up full time for 12 weeks. During the programme, the ventures will take part in workshops and receive mentoring, legal and administrative support. The ventures will be based in a newly refurbished start-up space at Nesta, and will also have use of Google Campus in Shoreditch. Applications for the summer 2013 programme open on 6 March for early stage technology ventures seeking to tackle problems in health, ageing, education, employment and sustainability.
Late payments hold businesses back UK BUSINESS OWNERS are seeing their cashflow tested to the limit by late-paying clients according to new research. Alternative finance provider, Platform Black, surveyed hundreds of SMEs to discover the scale and the impact of late payments on Britain’s businesses. Nearly two thirds of those polled said that their clients are taking longer to pay their invoices than they did a year ago. A third said that at least half of their clients routinely pay their debts late. Most prominent was the extent to which late paying clients are stretching payment terms: 78% of late payers were found to pay more than 10 days late, with three out of 10 paying more than a month late. One SME owner commented: ‘Clients now see it as their right to pay late. ‘This cripples cashflow and damages our confidence. ‘We work in constant fear of taking a big hit.’ Platform Black CEO, Christopher Shaw, said: ‘Our
research confirms what many businesses have long suspected – that growing numbers of SMEs risk falling into a doublepronged liquidity trap. ‘Even vibrant companies with a strong order book are being stretched to breaking point by a perfect storm of late-paying clients, and banks that are reluctant to offer credit.’
GOVERNMENT FUNDING TO help businesses take on an apprentice has led to the creation of at least 18,900 new apprenticeships in England in the past year. This is according to provisional data covering the nine-month period since the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers of 16- to 24-year-olds (AGE 16 to 24) was launched in February 2012. The figures also show that around two thirds of the grants awarded were to recruit an apprentice aged under 19. AGE 16 to 24 was introduced to help small and medium-sized businesses take on an apprentice and secure the skills they need to grow. The £1,500 grant is available to employers who have never employed an apprentice before, or have not done so in the last 12 months. David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: ‘Apprenticeships can deliver the skills that businesses need to grow and I would therefore encourage more organisations to explore the funding available.’ To find out more about apprenticeships, visit: apprenticeships.org.uk
16 March 2013
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Focus on success
Winner TAKES ALL The insatiably ambitious Aussie entrepreneur, Matt Barrie, tells Helen Coffey why he won’t stop until one billion people are using his freelancing marketplace to find a job
“I am fundamentally unemployable”
“We want to be in every country, every language, every currency, with every job”
normally insist on meeting our cover stars in the flesh, but I am prepared to make an exception in Matt Barrie’s case. Well, he is based in Australia. I wasn’t quite sure I would manage to get a 20 hour flight through expenses without a raised eyebrow or two. This rule of mine is based on some pretty bad experiences with phone interviews – there’s something about the lack of intimacy that makes the subject clam up. Not so Matt Barrie; even across a distance of 10,000 miles, I can tell he is a barely contained whirlwind of energy, giving me the story of how he built up the world’s biggest outsourcing marketplace with gusto (and very little prompting). Funny, effusive and charming, I don’t need to be sitting opposite Matt in an overpriced coffee shop to get a very real sense of his overwhelming enthusiasm for this latest business venture, and his rock solid belief that he can turn his site into one of the most visited on the planet. ‘The days of being average are over,’ he asserts with confidence. ‘It’s world domination on a shoe-string budget! It’s all about
growth – triple digit growth – year on year.’ It’s an ambitious plan, but it seems to be working for Freelancer.co.uk thus far – a fact Matt attributes to hiring smart people with an appetite for risk, and a scientific approach to testing every stage of their process. It seems like the sky’s the limit, and Matt’s goal is very clear: ‘I want to have an impact on one billion people. I want to get one billion people a job.’ There are no apologies and no excuses here – only raw ambition. Perhaps, as Matt remarks, there is no second place in this ultracompetitive market. Winner really does take all. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR FREELANCER? My background was in engineering. I came out of Stamford, and I was running a company for about six years, in what is probably one of the most complicated industries. I was looking for a new project and was designing websites, and one I was working on was a directory, filling in a spreadsheet with 1000 businesses. I was looking for
someone to do the data entry for me and I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to do it, and I didn’t know how to find someone to do it. In frustration I went to the Internet, and stumbled across a Swedish freelancing website called Getafreelancer. There was a lot of activity on the site, but it looked a bit rubbish. I posted the job details, and in three hours I had 34 emails in my inbox offering to do it. I didn’t have to pay anything in advance, the job was done in three days, and it cost me a lot less than it would have done to hire someone locally. I had no idea that globally there was such a discrepancy in salaries – that’s why someone was happy to take my job for $300 for three days’ work. I thought, this industry will be huge – why isn’t there an eBay for jobs? This was back in 2008. And I thought, I need to get into this. I wrote some software, and then hired freelancers from Getafreelancer to actually copy the site! HOW DID YOU EXPAND? I knew I needed venture capital, so I put together a spreadsheet
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Is Human Resources the new Marketing Department? Well of course not. The real question should be, how can Human Resources complement the Marketing Department, and the business in general? Every organisation relies on its brand reputation. What makes a brand reputation? Attributes include consistently high service to our clients, value for money, respect. What delivers on the above values – PEOPLE. Over the last couple of years, businesses have moved on greatly. Many now recognising the importance of attracting and retaining the best people as key to their business brand, have placed their people at the heart of their organisation. Get your people management right, empower your people to succeed and believe in your employer brand and customers see the benefit. It is absolutely right that people management should be at the heart of any successful business, to quote Jack Welch “how many of you
have received an honest, straightbetween-the-eyes feedback session in the past year, where you came out knowing exactly what you have to do to improve and where you stand in the organisation?” As an HR professional your role is to be a business manager. There should be no distinction in the board room between you and your peers – no matter what discipline. How do you make difference in any aspect of a business? It is simple: your responsibility is to really understand, and drive the business, the business success is your success. I was once told that HR is a transactional function responsible for providing contracts of employment, dealing with grievances and conduct issues. If that is what you believe and what you want it to be then that is what it will be – FOR YOU. For me, HR is there to drive your business to succeed, to lead change, and to work in partnership with you as your trusted advisor. On occasion we will give it to you fast and straight but if we have a relationship
built on trust and your confidence that we understand the business and the need to protect your brand, this should not be an issue. As HR professionals we can help your brand and contribute to your business through three steps: • Create the relationship with your business and leadership team • Gain trust through engagement with the organisation – without this how will you be able to demonstrate that your business is a great place to work – and so a great business to do business with? Engage with Business Development opportunities, I do, working with an organisation Global Business Develop Groups • If you are in HR, stopping thinking that – you are in business – embrace this. I’d like to finish with one last quote relating to how we deliver business “Quality is not an act, it is a habit”. Who is to argue with Aristotle..?
Gareth Williams Business Development & HR Director
T: 0207 232 5044 M: 07850 882163
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Focus on success FACE ON THE COVER
and a business plan and costings. I did some further research and found there were two American businesses that did something similar. I thought, maybe I need to buy rather than build. There were hundreds of these little job marketplaces: lots that were very small, but half a dozen that were a bit bigger. A couple said yes, including Getafreelancer. It had loads of traffic, but monetization was poor and it was horribly designed. I discovered that a Bangladeshi doesn’t care what the site looks like if he can make a month’s salary in three days. So I negotiated and bought it, and redesigned it so that people from the UK and US would trust it. We doubled the revenue very quickly, to employ 240 employees with offices in London, Sydney, Jakarta and Buenos Aires. We started acquiring competitors, including Freelancer.co.uk. in the UK. Last year in June we bought the 50th biggest marketplace. Now we’ve got almost seven million users and $1bn worth of jobs. It’s been a rollercoaster ride over three and a half years. HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START UP CASH? My previous company was a traditional high growth company with nine VCs, and if they weren’t
fighting me they were fighting each other. I walked out and it was quite acrimonious, with conflict on all sides. I didn’t really want to go down that route again. And word around town about me was very negative. I tried to get a bank loan – and they said they’d never lend money to an Internet business because they didn’t understand it! A friend of mine developed a company called PC tools. He sold his business, and I knew I needed some credibility to try and raise money, so I put him on the board of directors. It was funny because the VCs were far more interested in getting him to invest in their funds – so he got fed-up and lent it to me instead! HOW DID YOU DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF IN THE MARKETPLACE? It was an incredibly fragmented space where you had hundreds of little guys, some mediumsized businesses, and a couple of major players. It’s a space where winner takes all – the freelancers go where the most jobs are, the contractors go where the most freelancers are. We’re constantly improving and testing. We do A/B testing to compare different things, we use growth hacking techniques. At the beginning, we had a lot of traffic, but it was so badly
monetized: I thought, if I can find a way to optimise that traffic better, then there’s a good headstart. We used the site to hire freelancers to do our PR – the incentive was the better it works, the better it works for us. I only hire smart people who are hungry and driven. We have these young, hungry people who have massive talent – my vice president is 25. He’s 25 years old and he’s a VP working on a top 300 website globally. Fifteen years ago there were no web developers. Ten years ago there was no SEO. And today this stuff is only five years old, so the experts in this industry are making it up as they go along. The tactic we’ve had is to hire really smart people and let them get on with it.
“You can do crazy things now; it’s never been easier or cheaper to start up a business”
WERE YOU MORE INSPIRED BY INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY OR RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? I ended up running a business from a process of elimination – I am fundamentally unemployable. I never knew what I wanted to do, I just knew what I didn’t want to do. I liked technology, and this whole industry is new, so if you want to be in it you have to run your own business or you need to be at least involved in a start-up. All the biggest businesses are owned by software companies these days. I went into it by default; I never really knew that being an entrepreneur was a career path. People kept asking, ‘When are you going to get a real job?’ YOU’VE BEEN QUITE OUTSPOKEN ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN RETAIL SCENE. WHAT CHANGES NEED TO BE MADE? We’re in a bubble in Australia. All these old-school retailers are bickering – they can’t even run a one-day sale. As a retailer, unfortunately, unless you’re able to give a stand-out experience,
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Focus on franchise FACE ON THE COVER
“Running a business is the most incredibly rewarding thing you will do in your entire life”
it’s time to get rid of the bricks and mortar. Once they figure out how to sell women’s clothes online, there will be nothing left in shopping centres. They’re figuring it out already: these former shopping malls will become apartment blocks. You’ve got to go niche and unique. You’ve got to be disruptive, bigger, stronger, faster or have incredible customer service. I think the world is clamouring for something a bit different. It’s all the same brands; I long for the quirky, different thing. You’ll never compete on price, so you need to find something that people can’t find elsewhere or replicate. We’ve got things like Kickstarter now – you can manufacture a product with presales, not equity or debt. It’s down to mass-customisation. You can do crazy things now; it’s never been easier or cheaper to start up a business. But you’ve got to use your imagination. WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST STRUGGLES YOU FACED? The biggest challenge is always finding great people, people that are going to take risks. Which is tough – you’ve got to attract them and get them to join you. And as you grow the business, it’s harder and harder to get risk-taking, entrepreneurial
people and keep them. That challenge changes over time. As you grow you get very mature, risk-averse people. WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO FIRST TIME BUSINESSES IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE? Number one – running a business is the most incredibly rewarding thing you will do in your entire life. But it’s not easy. Otherwise everyone would be doing it. What I’d say is, particularly for young people, they come out of university and there’s nothing to lose. You might still be broke in two years, but you’ll have had a brilliant experience. The second thing is that it has never been an easier time to start up. There’s lots of information and advice out there. Go online and read everything: devour the information. You can learn it all for free. Many economies are having a tough time, but the one bright spot is technology. There’s two billion people on the Internet, and those two billion people are customers. If you have a website or an app, two billion people have access to that. The opportunities are going to get better and better. It’s not unrealistic to think that a business which starts today
could make £1bn in its first year. You just need the idea that everyone loves. DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO BALANCE BUSINESS AND PERSONAL LIFE? It’s impossible, but thankfully I love what I’m doing. We’re changing the world around us. I’m at work until 10pm every night, but I love it. When it’s a global business, people can have problems 24/7, so the work never stops – but if you love it, it doesn’t feel like work. My granddad said: ‘Don’t do what you like, like what you do.’ But I disagree. WHAT’S THE FUTURE FOR FREELANCER.COM? BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS AHEAD? We want to be in every country, every language, every currency, with every job. I want people to make their month’s wage in a day, and to open up jobs in technology that are not available to people locally. And at the same time, I want to help small businesses in the US and the UK; I want to be the powerhouse that powers small business. That’s the goal.
22 March 2013
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Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY
Chris Minas founded his mobile digital agency, Nimbletank, just one year ago, but the business has already generated big brand name fans due to its combination of innovative strategy and design
Think fast! C
hris Minas was already working in the digital sphere when he first came up with the idea of starting his own agency. The difference between him and the companies he was working for? He was a man who could see the writing on the wall. And that writing said: mobile is the future. ‘It was always obvious to me where mobile would evolve to once the initial wave of apps hit the mass market after the introduction of smartphones,’ he says. ‘I observed how even the largest digital agencies were only considering mobile as a last
minute add-on to much wider brand marketing strategies.’ Unlike these larger agencies, Chris connected the dots and realised that the mobile channel had to be at the heart of any brand’s strategy moving forward. Not only that, but the future of digital agencies would lie in constantly evolving, moving as quickly as the fastpaced market while offering robust strategies and solutions for clients: ‘Hence why we are called Nimbletank!’ Twelve years as working as a CTO for digital agencies stood Chris in good stead for setting up on his own in the
mobile technology space, and the business did not rely on any start-up cash whatsoever to get up and running. ‘We have been self funding through organic growth since we started,’ says Chris. In fact, he suggests new start-ups avoid borrowing as much as possible, advising: ‘Always try and avoid loans and investment unless absolutely necessary, and definitely not as an easy option, until you prove your business proposition has value that people are prepared to pay for.’ Sound advice based on his experience and, considering Nimbletank experienced a 500%
24 March 2013
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Focus on success TAKE ONE COMPANY
“I started my teenage years as a longhaired rock guitarist”
growth in the first three months after launching, definitely the right option for the business. Despite seeming to have effortlessly floated onto the digital scene before rocketing to success in a matter of months, Nimbletank, like every new business venture, had its own challenges to contend with. ‘The biggest struggle was to get the work through the door and compete with the already established mobile production companies. ‘Getting our first case studies was key to our success.’ As an untested proposition, Nimbletank had to put in the time to ensure its website, designed to work best on smartphones and tablets, really showcased what the team could do for forward-thinking brands. Chris says: ‘We spent our first six months developing a mobile website with a difference. ‘A site that would look and feel like an app, a site that would push the boundaries of HTML5, a site that would excite users about mobile browsing.’ Nothing about the creative, interactive and engaging site they painstakingly put together was accidental. ‘Building our site in the way we did was a deliberate strategic move to provoke a reaction in the market,’ asserts Chris. ‘It helped drive awareness of the agency, increase interest in our strategic thinking, demonstrate our leading technological skills and ultimately create new business.’ This kind of strategic thinking and careful consideration has
contributed to Nimbletank’s swift success, enabling it to secure big name clients such as ASOS, BBC and Universal. But Chris also puts it down to keeping close control of the business until everything was in place, rather than handing over responsibility and power before the business was secure. He advises: ‘Reduce dependency on third parties where it makes sense. ‘Get involved in the detail as much as you can personally, and trust no one until you are sure you can back away.’ Why? ‘There is nothing worse than saying: “But I thought we made £££ profit because my accountant told me so”.’ For the most part, Chris loves being an entrepreneur, with his favourite thing about it being ‘developing something out of nothing. The change and disruption. I love both.’ He adds: ‘I hate standing still, so change is important to me – as is delivering quality and having something to look back on and be proud of.’ However, despite all of the positives, he is not exempt from the odd grumble. ‘The downside to being an entrepreneur? I guess sometimes the feeling of being in it alone, the “no one gets it” syndrome!’ Chris and the Nimbletank team are, as you would imagine, thinking big for the future of the business. There are plans to do more work on the Windows 8 and BlackBerry 10 platforms, and to win more overseas contracts from both Europe
and the US. Not quite world domination, but close enough: ‘We plan to be front of mind for brands who want to get noticed for amazing mobile experiences, and become even more established for delivering effectiveness through solid results. ‘Nimbletank’s journey has only just started.’ Prepared for every eventuality, Chris has already devised a Plan B to fall back on if it all goes a bit Pete Tong: to become a (sort of) rock star. ‘I started my teenage years as a long-haired rock guitarist and did not quite make it to world star status, so went into technology,’ he says. ‘Now my retirement plan (although less glamorous than global rock star) is to play once or twice a month in a rockblues band.’
“Trust no one until you are sure you can back away”
Vital statistics Date the company was founded: Dec 2011 Start up capital: None Current turnover: Privately listed company Current net profit: N/A as first year accounts due Growth rate: 500% in first three months after launch; 20% per quarter predicted 2013 Biggest achievement: Winning European Excellence award in Dec 2012 for best newcomer agency. Winning Eurobest Gold award for best mobile site, Nov 2012
My life I’m watching: Nothing special at the moment, but looking forward to Ridley Scott’s remake of Blade Runner. We can only hope it is better than the remake of Total Recall I’m reading: Too many technical books, some philosophical books, and the odd brain teaser now and then I’m listening to: Having a revival of my youth. So old school rock: Led Zep, Stones, Tull and Genesis I’m surfing: Mainly cool looking sites from the FWA
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Focus on success UP-AND-COMING
Introducing… Lucy Aldrich-Smith A communications company with a difference: Big Green Plan only promotes socially responsible and sustainable businesses. We quizzed Shell LiveWIRE winner and founder, Lucy Aldrich-Smith, on her novel enterprise Big Green Plan is not your average communications company. Combining ‘the science bit’ with appropriate and creative internal and external communications, it specialises in helping SMEs improve their environmental credentials and promote their achievements. All stages of the environmental programme are covered, from baseline review and the design of a sustainability plan, through to the implementation of various actions, review and promotion of successes. It’s a good call. In a tough economic climate, saving costs, adhering to legislation and standing out from the crowd should be on every smart entrepreneur’s list of priorities, right?
Where did the idea come from?
I’ve always been really interested in corporate responsibility, and decided to find ways to improve the sustainability of my family business. It was so interesting to find small changes that made a big difference, saved cash and helped a company become more sustainable for the long term.
What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs trying to get an idea off the ground?
In my experience so far, it’s been all about networking.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your contacts with years of experience for a second opinion – it’s really helped me see things from other angles.
world by itself, but it’s all the small actions by many that will make the real difference.
How much does money motivate you?
I love dance, so if I hadn’t gone to university to study Environmental Sciences, you might have found me on the stage!
You only live once and work is a big part of that time, so in my view it’s important to enjoy going to work every day. I’m good at making a limited budget go a long way, so I take this philosophy to work with me too.
What’s been your worst ever job?
What’s been your proudest moment?
What’s top of your bucket list?
What’s your vision for the future of Big Green Plan?
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be doing today?
I’ve had boring tasks as part of every job, but you just have to suck it up, get on with it and focus on the good stuff.
I love travelling and experiencing different cultures; I went to Central America last year and hope to do South America when I get the chance. I find travelling a huge inspiration.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a young entrepreneur?
Initial start up costs and the confidence to go for it. Winning the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur Award has been a fantastic boost on both counts.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My motivation is to do my bit to reduce the burden of our actions on the planet. Big Green Plan isn’t going to save the
Starting my own business and winning the November Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur Award.
SMEs account for over 64% of pollution in Europe, so there is a massive market out there…I’ve always been ambitious!
My life I’m watching: The latest BBC Africa series was incredible I’m reading: Shantaram – it’s based in India which brings back amazing memories of my trip there a few years ago I’m listening to: Loving Ben Howard and Ellie Goulding, and I’ve just bought the latest Muse album I’m surfing: www.biggreenplan.com is a work in progress at the moment! In the meantime check our Facebook and LinkedIn page for more details
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Focus on success 12 STEPS
The steps to success: Step 9 Step 9 is all about marketing your business. Founder of the YES Network, Carly Ward, outlines a comprehensive marketing plan for your start-up business
need “to You find out
what works and what doesn’t so you don’t waste money
If no one knows your business exists, how are you ever going to sell your product or service? The challenge with marketing is that it can be very time-consuming and expensive, so we need to try and think of ways we can get the word out for very little or no money at all! Before you start doing your marketing, have a think about how large your target market is. How many other companies are doing what you are doing? What should your pricing be? Make sure you have a USP and have a think about what your niche market is. You need to raise awareness of who you are, what you do and how your potential customers can find you. In an ideal world you would probably advertise yourself everywhere you can think of, but you need to find out what works and what doesn’t so you don’t waste money. In the beginning it’s best to look at ideas that are free. Here are some ideas on how to get free/low cost marketing: • Tell people you know. • Start building a database (we use Dotmailer as it’s the only email marketing system with telephone support). • Contact journalists at your local newspaper. • Enter awards and competitions.
• Offer to write an article for a newspaper or magazine. • Speak at events. • Email everyone you know (and some you don’t!). • If you know people with a website, can you get a mention from them? • Go to networking events and get as many business cards as you can. Then add every email address to LinkedIn. • Contact your local radio/TV station and see if they would like to interview you. • Promote and engage via social media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube etc. • Do some crazy things and be different; you will stand out from the crowd and journalists might pick up on your story. • Have an ‘exclusive offer’ – everyone loves a bargain. • Get a website with a newsletter sign up, give away something free if you can – keep in touch with people. • Use promotional material, business cards, flyers etc. • Pick up the phone. No one particularly likes cold calling, but we have got 99% of our business this way – IT WORKS! (eventually). Finally, measure your success with the above to see what
marketing systems are working for you. For more tips for your business, check out our next event on 11 April: “Your Biggest Business Challenge Solved”. We have lots going on for young entrepreneurs under 35. Get access to a Start Up Loan of up to £15,000, find out about a business opportunity which could earn you a fortune, and get some mentoring from top YES Network mentors who will help you get your biggest business challenges solved. Tickets are only £20 and can be purchased at: www. eventelephant.com/yesnetwork Contact: www.yesnetwork.co.uk Twitter @carlyyes @yesteam
28 March 2013
028 carly ward.ga.indd 29
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Sales Training & Motivational Coaching Let me ask you a simple question...
Do you want to grow your business in 2013? If I could show you how to do this, attract new customers, generate more sales from your existing customers and motivate your entire company whilst doing this, would that interest you? What if all you needed to do was visit www.cellularattitude.co.uk, watch my films, testimonials and read my articles before making any decision? Why not come and see me at Stand SD102, at SMP2013 show June 6th & 7th at the Excel, London, where I shall be delivering keynote speeches on both days as well as launching my second book: Cellular Selling?
My book is now available to buy with free P&P at www.cellularattitude.co.uk. It can be also be downloaded as an e-book from Amazon.com or Apple.com This 292 page personal development guide is already making huge changes to the way people think and live their lives. It will make you more effective, productive, happier and less stressed. Look at these testimonials: What can I say? It just works! Jeff Gold, Sales Director at The Marwood Group. I’m in awe of this. Andrew Kitchen, Railtec. It’s changed my life completely and I’ve turned myself around. Eddy Mashishi, Aegis. I now use some of Adam’s material in my own work. Dr Bob Rich PhD, MIPSA, MAPS. We went from revenue of £32k for the month to £38k the Thursday after he’d delivered his sales training programme. Phenomenal. A guru. Tracey Wood, Head Of Marketing, Lexis Nexis.
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Focus on success ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY
FROM BALCONY TO
boardroom Revolutionary creative consultant, David Pearl, tells Talk Business the spell-binding tale of his journey from professional opera singer to accidental entrepreneur
ast month I was kicking off Google’s Think 2012 conference in Spain with a song. Yes, I know. I was booked as keynote speaker, not singer. But a full-throated love song seemed the thing to do to encourage CEOs on a journey of renewal and rethinking; especially Latin CEOs in a land where the serenade was born. My job, if you can put a label on it, is advising businesses. Not from a commercial perspective, but from a creative one. You see, bridging arts and business can have more benefits than you might think. It took a rather unconventional career path for me to realise this. Twenty years ago I was clearing my throat and about to head off on an unexpected journey of my own. North London isn’t known for its serenades. The weather’s not good enough and the people like their emotion toned down. But there I was standing awkwardly in the garden listening to my friend Danny unsuccessfully cajoling a woman called Jo to the window. At the time I was an experienced event organiser and copywriter by day – but an opera singer by night. Yes, inside this angular six foot five frame is a
swarthy, rounded Italian tenor dying to get out. I had been singing since the age of eight when I was first spotted and flung onto the stage of Covent Garden next to a barrel-chested young Spaniard, who turned out to be Placido Domingo. So many years of performing had led to this moment. Why didn’t I feel better prepared? The temptation to run was strong, but the window opened and before I could scarper there was the person I had been brought along to serenade. Jo had always dreamed of being sung to – ideally by Fred Astaire – but evidently I would do. I sang, she cried, she invited me in. And I never left. It wasn’t just the extraordinary adventure called marriage that started that night. A few months later, Jo was looking for something less tedious and more lucrative to do and so we tripped over the idea of setting up a serenading service. Something very high class, honouring the rich tradition of Mediterranean serenading, yet adapted for the drizzle of London. The strap line was: ‘If you love opera or love someone who does’. The papers got to hear about us and then the television. And we were off.
“Bridging arts and business can have more benefits than you might think”
“Shakespeare was, after all, a manager as well as a playwright”
Accidental entrepreneurs! To this day I find it hard to define the moment our business – in its current form – actually crystalised. But the various creative strands are easy to spot when you look back at it. The grounding in opera, the writing for screen, the television presenting, and the stage improvisation. All a million miles from the disciplines traditionally associated with business. And yet we found ourselves pioneering, albeit in a stumbling manner at first, a fusion of the arts and business worlds. Very soon, I became convinced that what could be learned from the world of arts could be directly relevant to business and commerce as well. That is to say, the key to successful creative output could be used to unlock greater business potential too. We imagine business advisers to be experts in just that: business. We assume they should speak the language of profit optimisation, of waste reduction, of production efficiency – and so on. But successful business is, in essence, about human communication and interaction. At Pearl Group, we ditched the business jargon and focused on
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SALES A PROFESSION TO BE PROUD OF
am proud to be a sales professional and, proud to be training and coaching others to become successful sales professionals themselves. However, I find myself spending a lot of time thinking and talking about the tight spot our profession seems to have gotten itself in. There has been, and continues to be, much malpractice – people selling unscrupulously, only interested in a fast buck with no interest in their customer or long-term partnership; other people selling without enough knowledge of their products, services or customers. Additionally the sales industry has not done a great job of becoming a profession and has fallen behind the buying community when it comes to education and skills development. We think this is changing. We believe there is a better way – something we call Selling at a Higher Level® VALUE YOUR TIME Feedback from training and coaching sessions, seminars and conversations tell me that too few sales people appreciate or value their own time. I have drawn the conclusion that we are told so often that we are an interruption, or that our call has not come at a good time, we become passive observers. We start to think of ourselves as interrupters rather than business professionals trying to provide an answer that will lead to improved business results. This has to change.
BUSINESS FIT. BUSINESS VALUE. DEVELOPING LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS. This durhamlane mantra will change your approach to sales overnight. No longer will you feel like you are interrupting someone. No longer will you feel like you are making a cold sales call. Everything you do will be focused on identifying whether business fit and business value can be achieved. Your aim is to help the people you want to serve, build rapport and dialogue with those you know you can support, design and deliver solutions that make a positive and measurable difference to your customers. POSITIVE SPIRALS The power of this mindset change is extraordinary. You see, in order to approach a client with this new mindset, it is imperative that research has been done so that you can identify where a potential business fit might exist. Without any pre-work it will not be possible to estimate where we can potentially add value. If we are armed with this information we can set about validating our estimates, always with the intention of developing long-term relationships. durhamlane are investing our precious time to see if a win-win situation can be nurtured. PROFESSIONAL, HUMBLE, COURTEOUS. PRO-ACTIVE, HUNGRY, AMBITIOUS. When you approach a client this way they cannot fail to be impressed. You are no longer having a sales conversation; you’re having a
business conversation focused on building value. Which would you rather have? durhamlane is a true 360º sales performance company. We help organisations increase their revenues, profits and build stronger customer relationships through sales performance solutions. We review and improve sales processes, develop sales skills through targeted training and in-role coaching and deliver outsourced business development services that enable you to acquire key accounts and open up new market sectors.
To find out more about what we do visit www.durhamlane.co.uk. Better yet come and see durhamlane in person at the Business Show, Excel London 6-7th June.
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Focus on success ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY
the areas that business and the arts have in common: - creativity and invention; - sustained high performance; - delighting and inspiring your audience; - creating powerful, meaningful and lasting connections. A lot of what we share with clients, I learned in those formative years. And when I am asked, ‘When did you leave the arts for business?’, I tell them I never did. Businesses are every bit as dramatic as theatre. Shakespeare was, after all, a manager as well as a playwright. When I am asked whether I am an artist or business person, I answer: ‘Yes’. A creative approach to business will not only
re-energise, it will broaden your horizons. To think in purely business terms is to constrict and to be potentially blinkered. To view your business from an artistic perspective can help give a fuller picture. By challenging our perceptions of what defines us, our company, our products, our society, even our economy, we are able to truly reinvent. So there I was in Madrid, with Google’s guest CEOs staring back at me. I was booked in as a speaker, but a speech didn’t seem quite powerful enough for this pivotal moment. We needed something to reach into the soul of these business people and twang their entrepreneurial spirit to life. Time for a song!
David Pearl is a creative consultant, helping individuals and businesses be more inspired and inspiring. He offers highly creative and practical solutions to some of business’ most pressing problems. He is also author of Will There be Donuts?, tackling the global affliction of poor meetings. David blogs at davidpearl.net Contact: www.pearlgroup.net
David’s top ten meeting tips 1. 2.
Every meeting is ‘your’ meeting: take ownership
There is no such thing as ‘a meeting’: different types of meeting need to be handled differently (debate, problem solving etc.), rather than mixed together
Know WHY you are there: have a clear agenda
When you are done, stop: don’t let meetings drag on for no purpose
Meetings need leaders: if no one else is taking charge, you need to do it
Bad meetings always have ‘good’ reasons: try and understand the reasons behind your bad meeting habits to help you change them
Create value: ask yourself how you can create extraordinary value for those taking part
Less meetings, more meeting: it’s all about quality, not quantity
If it’s bad, make it worse: deliberately make your colleagues wake up and realise how bad your meetings have become. Then change them
10. Bore no more: good meetings should be exciting. Relationships are made, problems are solved and future wealth is generated
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Focus on success BOOK REVIEWS
THE CUSTOMER RULES: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service by Lee Cockerell
Every business spouts about how much it values its customers, but few really demonstrate it. Often, customer service is left to the most junior members of staff, because senior management are bored with the basics (or think themselves above it all). Cockerell’s book is a remedy to this approach – or lack of it. So, how should we approach customer service? Some of Lee’s rules are commonsensical but surprisingly uncommon: ‘Be nice’. Others are perhaps more unexpected: ‘Be an ecologist’, ‘Be your own Shakespeare’ and ‘Have a geek on your team’.
He says: The Customer Rules is focused entirely on one ultimate goal: to help you, no matter what your position or job title, serve customers with such consistency, integrity, creativity and sincerity that they will not only keep coming back for more, but eagerly recommend your business to their friends, families and colleagues. It draws upon everything I’ve learned, from my days as a frontline service provider to my years as a top-tier executive at companies with worldwide reputations for service. The end result is 39 easy-to-follow yet essential rules that can improve service at every level of a company’s operation.
We say: You can’t beat Disney for great customer service; they are the masters. And Lee Cockerell, as former VP of Disney World, is well acquainted with putting customers at the heart of everything he does. This little gem of a book reminds you that, no matter what your business, there are always extra things you can be doing to give your clients or customers an incredible experience when buying from you. At a time when the big companies can nearly always undercut you on price, the USP that SMEs should be offering is the very best service – and this book can provide invaluable inspiration.
The Customer Rules is published by Profile Books, priced at £12.99 in paperback and e-book
THE CULTURE BUILDERS: Leadership Strategies for Employee Performance by Jane Sparrow
The Culture Builders is published by Gower Publishing, priced at £25 in paperback
As with many people-orientated initiatives, employee engagement remains an emerging science, with as many advocates as detractors. In The Culture Builders, Jane Sparrow shares the insight of her research and experience into how companies are creating an engaged workforce. Along the way she looks at the evidence, the case for engagement and how organisations are measuring and defining it. Having an engagement strategy is merely a first step; the book explores how to enable the manager-as-engager. Alongside the practical models and guidance, there are stories and examples from organisations like John Lewis and Sony.
She says: My research in writing this book has given me insight into how some of the world’s largest (and smallest) companies are building cultures and creating an engaged workforce, and how they’re linking this directly back to performance for the organisation. As engagers, we all face one reality – you can’t hire engaged people, you have to create them. A strong brand and good compensation package will attract the interested and motivated, but they won’t build within them the sense of loyalty, purpose and connection that high-performing individuals display. You have to work to create these – to understand what to do, when, and in what frame of mind.
We say: Culture in terms of the workplace seems to be an emerging buzzword. And it’s easy to see why; successful, forward-thinking companies understand that it’s not enough to hire good people. If you want your staff to thrive, they need to be positively engaged with the company’s goals. Jane Sparrow clearly knows her subject very well, having extensively researched by studying companies that take culture very seriously, and talking to a range of CEOs and thought leaders. However, it’s quite heavy going – not one to dip in and out of at whim.
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the inside story Over 1000 businesses have been given the head start they need with the Government’s Start-Up Loans initiative. Will you be joining them?
“There’s clearly an entrepreneurial spirit that is spreading”
If you’re aged 18-30 and you have an idea for a business, you should be seriously considering the Start-Up Loans scheme: access to a £2500 cash injection, as well as mentoring and all kinds of added extras means it’s the perfect way to get your business up and running. Over the next four pages, we take an in-depth look at the scheme; for starters, cast an eye over our exclusive chat with Start-Up head honcho, James Caan… HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE SCHEME? Lord Young called and invited me to Chair the initiative. I sit
on Vince Cable’s Entrepreneur’s Forum, and feel passionately about encouraging young people into business, so I was honoured to have been asked.
committed, and confident in your business plan. StartUp Loans can help ensure your plan is robust and your confidence warranted.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE THE FACE OF THE STARTUP LOANS? It was a no-brainer for me – backing 25,000 young people to start their own business through a programme that provides not just money but mentoring – who wouldn’t want to be involved with something like this?
WHAT’S THE NUMBER ONE ATTRIBUTE YOU LOOK FOR IN A START-UP LOANS CANDIDATE? Passion for their bright idea and willingness to learn.
DO YOU THINK WE’RE BECOMING A MORE ENTREPRENEURIAL NATION? Definitely. In the past two years we have started more companies than ever before. Entrepreneurship is much more appealing and recognised now because of shows like The Apprentice and Dragons’ Den. People are far more aware of what it is to start a business. I meet so many people now who want to pitch me their idea and there’s clearly an entrepreneurial spirit that is spreading. We have only just started; this is barely the tip of the iceberg. UNIVERSITY OR START-UP LOAN – HOW CAN YOUNG PEOPLE DECIDE? It’s not necessarily one or the other – you can do both. It’s up to each entrepreneur what works for them. What I would say to a young person is if you have an idea, make sure you’re ready,
WOULD YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR THE LOAN IF IT HAD BEEN AROUND WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNG ADULT? Oh yes. I wish there had been initiatives like Start-Up Loans when I was starting out. It reduces the impact of the three most common barriers to business success: money, knowledge, and access to good resources. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO CRITICS OF THE SCHEME? The three principal concerns raised to date are: slow uptake, lack of awareness of the programme, and that £2,500 is not enough to start a business on. We have invested the time to ensure we can meet the needs of young people, giving every business the best possible chance of success. We have established a network of delivery partners to ensure the programme is delivered consistently across England. Everything is now in place and our new focus is raising the profile of Start-Up Loans, so that everyone with the passion to work for themselves can find the programme.
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FANTASTIC FOUR We meet four of the superstar entrepreneurs who have received a Start-Up Loan to help kickstart their business, and hear how the scheme has been instrumental in their success
LADYNOM “Research is the most important tool for a successful business”
ENTREPRENEUR:Alexandra(Lex) Smith AGE: 25 BASED IN: Altringham LIKES: Wake boarding, snow boarding, walking her dogs ADVICE FOR START-UPS: ‘Plan and research. A great idea only gets you so far; you have to make sure your customers will like it. Research is the most important tool for a successful business’ AMBITION: To work with renowned chefs
STORY: Alexandra loves cooking and working with people to help them realise their tastes. Focused on her own goals, Alexandra chose catering school over A Levels. She then went on to do business studies at the Entrepreneur Business School, and gained handson experience managing events at Manchester United Football Club’s bar. Alexandra then researched her market, including putting feelers out to universities before she
set up her catering business in Altringham. Alexandra invested the funds received from Start-Up Loans into developing an interactive and user-friendly website. Social media and word of mouth have also played an important part in helping her business grow. Initially she struggled to get customers, however now things are starting to work out and she is looking forward to recruiting at least five people this year.
JOSH HAYES LONDON
“You need a little bit of professional mentoring help”
ENTREPRENEUR: Josh Hayes AGE: 23 BASED IN: West Sussex LIKES: Design, photography, Formula One ADVICE FOR START-UPS: ‘There are so many elements involved in starting a business, such as drawing up financial
forecasts and understanding the relevant tax implications, that you need a little bit of professional mentoring help’ AMBITION: To produce the bestselling line of luxury designer phone cases. STORY: A passion for creative design and motor sport led Josh to launch his own business as part of the StartUp Loans scheme. Josh Hayes supplies mobile phone users with luxury designer phone cases that make the perfect accessory to the latest catwalk fashions. He lives with his parents in Burgess Hill, working from home to create designs for mobile cases that complement the latest
trends and styles, from those on the high street to those found in glossy magazines. He loves design, and his business allows him to indulge in this passion. A Start-Up Loan of £3,200 was the boost he needed to get things off the ground. A key turning point for Josh was his foray into the world of Formula One. His skills with a camera were spotted by the Force India team on Twitter, and he ended up providing photography at a number of F1 parties and social events. Photographing some of the most talented, glamorous and wealthy people in the world helped inspire Josh’s idea for a luxury range of mobile device cases.
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Focus on money START-UP LOANS SPECIAL
SMART SUITS ENTREPRENEUR: Kane AGE: 21 BASED IN: London LIKES: Embracing technology, online retailing, quality tailoring ADVICE FOR START-UPS: ‘Seek support and business advice as soon as you can, as it helps eliminate basic errors’ AMBITION: To be successful retailing online, and create a brand that is known for quality and reliability STORY: Kane, a great grandson of a family-owned tailoring business, has worked in all aspects of the business; sweeping floors, making tea and taking orders since the age of 15. It would have been easy for Kane to sit back and work in the family business and wait for his father’s retirement. However, his father frequently challenged him to come up with an innovative business idea.
After testing the concept of “First Suits” to the youth market on eBay, Kane found success with £100,000 of orders. Knowing the market was there, Kane needed to work out how to fulfil this gap. He pitched his idea to Bright Ideas Trust, who were truly impressed by Kane’s knowledge and the product quality. They offered £7500 to purchase initial stock and packaging. Kane has taken his family business and brought it up to date via online retailing. The target market initially is for young men who are buying their first suit for sixth form, interviews and special occasions.
“Seek support and business advice as soon as you can”
NORFOLKHAWKER ENTREPRENEUR: Chris Davies AGE: 24 BASED IN: Hulme, Manchester LIKES: High end fashion, menswear ADVICE FOR START-UPS: ‘It’s great to have someone who has been successful in business give you positive feedback about your ideas and plans for the future’ AMBITION: To see his clothing range on a London catwalk in the next five years STORY: Chris’ company, NorfolkHawker, designs and
produces bespoke high end men’s fashion clothing, using the finest quality British materials, including leather and sheepskin. Following his appearance on a number of media channels, including Channel 4 News talking about his Start-Up Loan, Chris has already had interest from America and is hoping to sell a distinctive sheepskin jacket for £2,000. While in his final year studying fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University, Chris was approached by a large
“Have someone who has been successful in business give you positive feedback”
fashion designer but, put off by the idea of working for a large corporation, he decided to set up his own business and launched NorfolkHawker in 2013, manufacturing and using materials that can be sourced within the Greater Manchester area whenever possible. Fashion is an incredibly competitive industry, but Chris believes his collections stand out from much of the menswear already on the market because they are all based on people’s experiences.
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Focus on money START-UP LOANS SPECIAL
Application, application, application
Yes, form filling can be tedious – but it’s vital to nail the application bit if you want to be approved for your Start-Up Loan, and get started on the path that leads to running your own business. Take heed from these top tips
Research the market for your product. Don’t just rely on feedback from close friends and family – they may not always be totally objective. Ensure that enough research has been carried out to demonstrate a demand for the product or service being offered. And remember to research your competitors thoroughly; you need to ensure you can differentiate your product or service from those of your rivals, or offer something unique to customers that will make them buy from you rather than someone else. Know your sector! Research, learn, plan.
Always allow for a contingency in your forecasts, and sufficient working capital to allow you to trade freely. Ensure that all your finances, including sales, cost of sales, and overheads have been thought out carefully; do a cashflow forecast and make sure that you ask for enough money at the beginning, as it is not always easy to come back
for more later. Enough money is needed to support you and the business until the money starts coming in. Be realistic! Have achievable short- and long-term goals.
Think through how the business will work in practice – i.e. on a day-to-day basis. Sketch out what your processes will actually look like, including those for sales, admin, finance and so on. Preparing your business plan gives you the opportunity to have a dry run, working through all the different elements you will be bringing together to ensure your business is successful, profitable and sustainable. Think of all the things that might go wrong and how you would deal with those issues. Know the barriers, and the deal breakers!
To apply for a Start-Up Loan, check out the Facebook page or go to: www.startuploans.co.uk
40 March 2013
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FIND FINANCE TO
THE BUSINESS IN YOU
Whether you’re just starting up or aiming for expansion, use our Business Support and Finance Finder to find the right funding. From Start-Up Loans and Seed Enterprise Investment to Enterprise Capital Funds for more established companies, you’ll find the advice, support and funding to get you going and growing.
Search online for “business in you”
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CHOOSING THE RIGHT ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE FOR YOUR BUSINESS
here are scores of accounting software packages currently available and often it’s very difficult to know which one to choose for your business. Emily Coltman ACA, Chief Accountant to FreeAgent - who provide an awardwinning online accounting system for small businesses - gives her top tips for how to choose the best accounting software that’s right for your business.
WILL IT SAVE YOU TIME? Think about your business’s current processes. Does it take you a lot of time, for example, to list and sort all your receipts for costs that you pay from your own back pocket? Or to enter your expenses into a spreadsheet? Many modern online accounting software packages have ways to help save you time - such as integrating with apps that enable you to photograph receipts through your mobile phone and log them directly into your accounts. Make sure you find the system that helps you manage your processes most effectively.
it a hassle backing up your data and sending your figures over to your accountant? How do you know who has the latest information about your business, and do you and your accountant have to remember when you can start making entries again? Using online accounting software, such as FreeAgent, will let you chase automatically customers who haven’t paid, by sending reminder e-mails at intervals that you choose and with your own wording. So if you have slow payers, you can make your invoices get progressively firmer in tone! You can also give your accountant access to your books to let them work with you proactively in real-time and revolutionise your relationship with them - allowing them to be a valuable and trusted adviser, rather than simply crunching numbers.
IS IT RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS NOW?
WILL IT SAVE YOU HASSLE?
Different software packages cater best for different business types, so think about what your business needs now. Do you sell goods or services? Do you need to run a payroll? Do you need to be able to create quotes for customers and then convert them to invoices or projects?
Do you tear your hair out phoning up customers who haven’t paid you? Is
Thoroughly check through the specifications of every accounting
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software package you’re considering and see which one is the best fit for your business. There’s no point in paying extra for features or functionality you won’t ever need.
WILL IT BE RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS IN THE FUTURE? However, you will need to think about how your business itself will change, and how its environment will evolve. And you’ll need to consider whether your software will be able to adapt to those developments. For example, if you want to grow by taking on staff in addition to freelance workers, can your chosen software package run a payroll, and will it comply with the new PAYE rules that are coming out in April 2013? Remember, flexible accounting software can be a better bet if you think your business’s needs will change in the future. Emily Coltman ACA is Chief Accountant to FreeAgent, who provide an award-winning online accounting system designed to meet the needs of small business owners. Try it for free at www.freeagent.com
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Focus on money MAXIMISING TURNOVER
Maximise your money Most businessmen have one aim in mind when they launch a company, and that is to generate sufficient turnover to produce a profitable business. They will have differing strategies on the best way to achieve this. No matter which path they choose, they will need to grasp the basics of their business in order to maximise their sales effort. If you are preparing to set up a company, first do the following:
Define your proposition
Before approaching anyone else with your business idea, you need to fully understand your business proposition. This sounds obvious; it’s your idea, after all. However, if you can’t verbally and succinctly convey your offering – in what is often called the elevator pitch – then how can you communicate it to your customers? It happens again and again. Entrepreneurs have great ideas, but wordy websites and offerings that are overly complicated and difficult to understand turn potential customers off.
Recognise the value
You know what you’re selling – now you need to consider why you’re selling it. What value does
Clive Kahn, CEO of CardSave, shares the best ways to maximise your turnover as a new business
your product or service add that no other company does? Start by listing your differentiators and then think about how you can best explain your value to your prospects.
of product or service you’re selling. If you’re retailing products, then open a shop in a location with a good concentration of prospective customers. If you intend to sell products through the web, you will need to develop a marketing plan to drive prospects to your site. Whatever you decide, be sure to do your research before committing to an investment.
Identify your market
Your business may be amazing in your eyes, but you’re not the one who is buying your product. It is essential that you identify your position in the market and consider the size of your prospective customer base. This will help you to assess the potential and viability of your offering. You need to be realistic. If your plan shows you signing up over 10% of your target demographic in the first year, you are likely being overly optimistic. If your plan depends on this to be viable, it’s not too late for you to go back to defining the proposition. Start again in order to identify your market.
Route to market
Now you have the basics in place, begin thinking about your route to market. How will you communicate the value of your offering to the prospects that you have identified? You can do this in a number of ways, depending on the type
Make sales “Ensure that your sales are profitable and convert to cash quickly”
It’s time to make some sales and build your turnover. None of this messaging and communication will be worth anything if it doesn’t lead to converted sales, so be determined in your pursuit of leads and execute your sales well. A word of warning: maximising turnover is not always best for your business. You need to ensure that your sales are profitable and convert to cash quickly. However, if you get the above basics right, you will be in the best position to succeed.
Clive Kahn is CEO of CardSave. CardSave supplies card payment services to small businesses in the UK. Contact: www.cardsave.net
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Focus on money CFO
CFO to CEO? The modern chief executive: Simon Drew, CEO of InterResolve, tells us why the current economy calls for finance-savvy CEOs who know their figures
“The skills of the FD at leadership level have become fundamental”
n the current economy, where huge pressure is being laid upon chief executives to perform financially, it is no wonder that finance directors and chief financial officers are increasingly rising to the helm of their companies. With talks of a potential triple dip, CFOs have become increasingly influential across businesses, possessing the practical financial skills required to keep a company afloat. According to executive head hunters firm, Odgers Berndtson, the rise in the number of CFOs that have become CEOs in the last three or four years is substantial. Since 2008, the emphasis in many businesses has been forced to shift. The goal of fast growth has almost disappeared in place of robust financial leadership, which has become critical to the health and survival of businesses. Reduction of overheads, controlling costs, and increasing profitability have become the essential priorities, turning finance directors into the indispensable element of any company’s success. With the economy in crisis, senior management have been forced to seriously examine the structure of their business. In order to make it through the downturn successfully, they have had to think carefully about whether they are functioning effectively and what change is necessary to ensure their future. The economic crisis has acted as a vigorous catalyst for a
change in leadership emphasis within business. When a company’s financial security is called into question, it is often the person that has an acute understanding of finance that is turned to. They hold the keys to a business’ financial security, placing them in a perfect position to lead the company and ensure its progress. They comprehend the levers that need to be pulled in order to make it profitable. If a company is able to bring together the analytical eye of the FD alongside the broader strategic and visionary outlook, then it is likely to have an ideal chief executive. The latest annual survey of CEO succession from global management consultancy, Booz and Co, reports that the turnover of chief executives in the last year has increased from 12% to 14%, as boards push out those who are not delivering. The economic situation therefore comes as good news for ambitious CFOs and FDs looking to become chief executives, providing they are willing to take up the considerable challenge of turning a struggling company around. The CEO succession research shows that in fact CFOs create far more value for shareholders compared to CEOs. During more fruitful times any successful business requires sound financial backing: that is a given. However, the overall leadership from the chief executive does not need to hinge on this.
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Focus on money CFO
During a recession, it is a very different story. A sound financial head must be at the forefront of the business. I believe the reason such a large number of businesses have gone under since the recession began is because they have not confronted the realities of what is slowing them down. When the sales aren’t coming through the door, then serious changes need to be implemented before it is too late. As a commerciallyminded qualified accountant, I have been able to drive our business forward because we identified the signs early and planned for them appropriately. Those running companies in the current climate need a broad spectrum of skills, from understanding how customers think, and how to plan pricing, to how to react when a contract is lost – the fundamentals of any successful business. They need to be realists. The generation of chief executives that are forging a successful path through this recession are those that can make decisions while understanding their true financial implications. The skills of the FD at leadership level have become fundamental. For example, I cannot reiterate enough the importance of looking at an organisation’s costs and then looking at them again: a natural act for any financially-minded leader. Businesses need to challenge every overhead in their business, from staff and premises to suppliers and other major outgoings. They need to ask the question: does it add value? If it doesn’t, remove it from your business. The cruel fact of a recession is that if you want to be successful, you have to streamline costs – even if that means personal relationships are affected. Alongside sound financial awareness, many companies over the last few years have been scared to make direct and bold decisions, which has often led to the downfall
of struggling businesses. In harsh competitive times, a chief executive needs to set down a robust direction and act on that decisively. They need to be able to look at the numbers, project for the future, and inform their opinions based on the bottom line to ensure success. There is no time for prevarication, as waiting will lead to the competition overtaking you. Recessionary times often exacerbate the dog-eat-dog mentality of business. A successful chief executive must also ensure they surround themselves with wise advisers – trustworthy confidants that can be relied upon for experienced advice, gathered from across a broad range of sectors, to provide an outside view. There are six pieces of advice in particular that have served me well, that I would impart with any business leader struggling to drive their business forward during the difficult economic times: be decisive; look at your costs and look again; take a balanced view drawing on wide expertise from a range of sectors; take time out to think strategically; surround yourself with good people; and, most importantly, listen to what they are saying. As UK businesses continue to struggle through the worst recession to ever hit this country, a new breed of chief executive is required, and those who lack the relevant skills and grounding will find it incredibly challenging to forge a path out of this economic crisis.
Simon Drew, chief executive of InterResolve, the claims mediation expert, became chief executive of the company following a year as CFO and COO at the core of the business. For further information on InterResolve and its fight to make the personal injury claims process fairer, visit the website.
“The economic situation comes as good news for ambitious CFOs and FDs”
48 March 2013
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Focus on money CAREFUL CONTRACTS
Before you sign on the dotted line… Careful contracts: NaviStar Legal founder, Jo Rogers, tells us how to pay attention to detail without losing sight of the bigger picture While beneficial if the clause is in your favour, the danger is that you will unnecessarily limit – or worse, expose – your company if these are restrictive. These clauses should be considered carefully.
“If you don’t expect them to enforce the clause, then don’t sign the agreement!”
When I set up my business, NaviStar Legal, I was warned that if I was to be a “true” entrepreneur I would have to stop focusing on the detail. I was told that, as a business owner, you must make quick decisions, learn through mistakes, see the bigger picture and be prepared to get it wrong. On the other hand, the role of a lawyer is to minimise risk, focus on the detail in agreements and, most importantly, NEVER get it wrong! So how do we, as business owners, maintain a healthy level of attention to detail when reviewing an agreement, without slowing down business too much? The first step is to know what is important when reviewing an agreement:
agreement operates and the compromises we are prepared to make. If we are forced to use someone else’s standard agreement, then we must make sure that we read it in full and understand it.
1. Read the agreement
Limitation of liability and exclusion: Limitation of liability clauses operate to limit the amount of damages that a party to a contract can recover. Exclusion clauses seek to prevent the other party from recovering damages in certain situations.
It is an important point that is often overlooked – we must always try to deal with service providers and clients on our own template terms and conditions. This allows us to know how exactly the
2. Identify red flags
Once the agreement has been read, identify those clauses that cause particular concern. These clauses give a warning signal for the risk that you may encounter. In particular, limitation of liability clauses and indemnity clauses are not always reviewed, understood or negotiated. Reviewing, understanding and negotiating these areas will mitigate some risk.
Indemnity clauses: An indemnity is a promise by a party to a contract to compensate the other party for any loss or damage caused by them (or by a third party). If your company is expected to give an indemnity, then be clear about a) the types of acts or omissions you will compensate for, b) the extent of the loss you are prepared to cover, c) who bears the costs of those losses, which may include legal costs, damages, and other fees and d) who is responsible.
3. Don’t make assumptions Sometimes, businesses don’t negotiate these clauses because they believe (often mistakenly) that the other party will not enforce them. Don’t make such an assumption, and, if you don’t expect them to enforce the clause, then don’t sign the agreement! In my experience, while lawyers can look too much into the fine print, business owners can overlook important clauses that may cause problems further down the line. Finding a balance will keep your business out of the danger zone. Contact: www.navistarlegal.com
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Focus on strategy
Meat. Sandals. Jordan. Nightmare
How do you respond when someone tries to take your brand to the cleaners? Rich With is on hand with a mop and bucket
At the time of writing this column, the UK food industry is being smothered by an equine blanket of cheap lasagne and burgers. One by one, many of the UK food industry stalwarts are forced into clearing shelves and going into damage limitation mode – and it’s possible that some major brands won’t be able to recover. It’s a sad state of affairs for everyone, and no one is laughing (except vegetarians). With brands no longer owning their “brand stories”, it becomes increasingly complicated to keep track of – and control – all the comments about our brand. In the past, if you gave someone a bad experience, they simply wouldn’t use you again – or at worst would tell a few friends. Now, perfectly mild-mannered individuals can be transformed into a seething mass of toxic rage, with numerous methods of social media through which to vent their spleen. Avenues of lunacy that were previously limited to the likes of “Disgruntled of Bournemouth” and “Major Ramblings” are now everywhere on the web. There are unfortunately always going to be people who aren’t wildly enamoured with your service or product. So what should you do? Recently Katie Price took to her Sun column to moan about the honeymoon experience she had at Sandals Royal Bahamian resort and spa. She alleged she was
mistaken for a porn star by an employee and: ‘Our wedding tent was made of plastic too. It looked like it had come straight out of a B&Q flat pack’. Sandals responded in quite possibly the most perfect way: ‘Without an international profile, the resort team were oblivious of Ms Price’s fame and welcomed her with the award-winning service given to all its guests.’ Ouch. But it didn’t end there. ‘Sandals Resorts is disappointed that Ms Price was not happy with her stay and, as a gesture of goodwill, are willing to offer her a refund on condition that she does not choose our resorts for any future weddings or stays.’ A cheeky tactic, but beautifully executed. Yes, Price has many fans, but she has her critics too. Sandals took her comments on the chin, but they also managed to infer that she’s a stroppy little madam while grabbing a full yard of column inches. If you have a potential PR nightmare on your hands, how do you handle it? Does the client have a reasonable gripe? If yes, to a certain extent you should capitulate – but you also have to take into account the level to which you’re willing to compromise your integrity. Yes, I’ll give you back your money, but don’t think I’m willing to blight everything I’ve worked for just because you’re throwing a tantrum on Facebook.
“They managed to infer that she’s a stroppy little madam while grabbing a full yard of column inches”
Is it worth sticking to your guns, or admitting you were at fault while assuring clients that you are instigating sweeping changes to make sure this never happens again? You have to be completely honest with yourself, the client and the world at large – if not, these situations have a habit of coming back and biting you ten times as bad. Contact: www.gohoot.co.uk
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0844 558 0389 www.responsivedigital.co.uk
15% Untitled-2 37
RESPONSIVE WEBSITE BUILD 26/02/2013 16:12
Focus on strategy INTERNATIONAL ECOMMERCE
Going global Liz Elting, co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect, gives her top translation tips on attracting the international ecommerce market share
L “Too often, businesses focus on translating words without thinking about the impact of all the elements”
eading analyst firm, Euromonitor International, revealed in a recent study that global consumers rank language as a significant factor in their online purchasing decisions. When it comes to high-end purchases like electronics or luxury goods, this is especially important to non-English speakers. To engage this fast-growing audience of international online shoppers, businesses must provide positive experiences in multiple languages, delivered through relevant, localised messages and images that are in line with the cultural preferences and practices of the targeted region.
What’s the difference between translation and localisation? Here’s an example: one financial services company, while preparing to open offices in Japan, designed a document that included a large photograph of a bridge in Tokyo. While the image was both local and striking, the bridge-building project was a topic of debate and criticism in the city. In short, it was a very big risk for a financial services company to associate themselves with such a controversial topic. Too often, businesses focus on translating words without thinking about the impact of all the elements of their communications in diverse cultures.
UK businesses have begun investing in integrated language translation and localisation as part of their overall ecommerce globalisation plans. For example, easyJet recently translated its online materials to better communicate with an increasingly international customer base. Translation and localisation helped the airline ensure a unified brand voice in Spanish, Catalan, Czech, Danish, German, Dutch, Greek, French, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese and Turkish. For the 55 million passengers who fly easyJet each year to more than 110 destinations, this means they can continue to see easyJet as a service-orientated organisation that both recognises and cares about customers’ individual needs. In the past, only the big players could afford to invest the time and strategic resources needed to localise their websites for global markets. This is no longer the case. A rapidly growing number of businesses are realising that consumers prefer to communicate in their own language, and will happily engage with companies that demonstrate cultural understanding and awareness of current word usage. Some experts say that the online sales conversion rate can be boosted by up to 40% by investing in language translation and localisation. Furthermore, customers who are presented with positive experiences in their own language will return for future purchases and even share brands with friends and colleagues. There are several best practices businesses should follow when it comes to translation and localisation:
1. Words matter
Businesses operating in global markets must choose the words that best convey who they are, what they do, and why multilingual customers should care. Web copy optimisation and proper keyword selection is the first item that should be on the minds of companies that want
055_056 international ecommerce.ga.indd 55
Focus on strategy INTERNATIONAL ECOMMERCE
to build relationships with nonEnglish speaking audiences. It is essential to validate keyword choices before going live in other languages.
2. Computer says no It takes skill and training to choose content that maintains both the tone and the purpose of the original source language. Machines cannot accomplish that, and when companies rely on machine translation, their multilingual search engine optimisation (SEO) shortcuts become apparent to a native language speaker. Machine translation is not adept at catching this kind of subtlety – and it can make or break a campaign. 3. Consumers want choices Automatic redirects to a particular language may also put you at a disadvantage when it comes to website translation. In many pan-European countries, residents of varying regions speak multiple languages and dialects. A drop-down language menu is a simple but thoughtful way to avoid customer frustration. 4. Get found Once a company has made the decision to invest in translation and localisation of online content, the next question should be: ‘Will our audience be able to find us through a simple Internet search?’ SEO is not a strategy one should employ after the fact. Rather, it should guide the overall content development and site architecture strategy. Otherwise, you’re building a website based solely on what looks good, rather than what conveys the most accurate information. Only when international SEO and design are done in conjunction can a company clearly answer the above question. The pay-offs for businesses that globalise and localise are great. To reap the rewards, organisations must put in appropriate effort on the front end of their website projects.
Professional translation services offer businesses the means to truly localise their communications, and hence their brand voice. This demonstration of authentic interest in local markets is directly related to increases in revenue and sales figures: an attractive outcome in any language.
Liz Elting is the co-CEO and co-founder of TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services. She has earned numerous awards for her outstanding entrepreneurship, including the Working Woman’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Customer Service, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and American
Express and Entrepreneur’s Woman of the Year Award. Liz is profiled in several books, including The New York Times bestseller “Succeed by Your Own Terms” (McGraw-Hill), “Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs” (Dearborn Trade Publishing) and “Straight Talk About Starting and Growing Your Business” (McGraw-Hill). She is featured regularly in the media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, O (The Oprah Magazine), Financial Times, Reader’s Digest, and Crain’s New York Business.
“The pay-offs for businesses that globalise and localise are great”
56 March 2013
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Focus on strategy PRODUCTS
The product life cycle Karsten Horn, director of international sales for the materials management division at supply chain optimisation specialist, INFORM, tells us why the product life cycle is in decline; and why businesses need to ensure they can keep up
ollapse of the product life cycle product growth, maturity and
The product life cycle theory, established 45 years ago, asserts that all products have a limited lifespan and pass through distinct stages, each posing different challenges, opportunities and problems to the business. One of the most profound changes in the last decade is the dramatic shrinkage and, some would argue, collapse of product life cycles, which bear little resemblance to the world today, defined as it is by instant obsolescence. In some fastmoving industries, this can even occur during the growth phase. For example, 60% of Apple’s revenue comes from products that didn’t exist three years ago. This indicates that, certainly within the technology sector,
decline is becoming more rapid, and life cycles are shortening. This isn’t specific to the technology sector either; up to 50% of annual company revenues across a range of industries are derived from new products launched within the last three years. This suggests that long-term product “cash cows”, which stay in a company’s portfolio for many years, are becoming a thing of the past. The collapse of life cycles means that replacing a product or service line every two years is becoming the norm across many industries. Furthermore, if a business is not quick to introduce a product to market, it risks launching goods that have already been superseded by competitors.
“The collapse of life cycles means that replacing a product or service line every two years is becoming the norm”
This changing environment means that accurate demand planning and forecasting has never been more imperative, and businesses must take a more coordinated approach to supply chain management. Key to this is the introduction of technology that enables organisations to quickly and effectively manage operations and gain a greater perspective on the entire supply chain.
Strengthening the core
I strongly believe that businesses need greater awareness of every product in their portfolio, especially those that have been a mainstay of the product mix for a long time. This awareness is even more critical in an environment where the increasing speed at which
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Focus on strategy PRODUCTS
a product moves through its lifecycle means that demand can change dramatically. An accurate and timely demand plan is a vital component of an effective supply chain. Without this, it would be difficult to effectively allocate supply chain resources and produce correct forecasts, resulting in supply imbalances when it comes to meeting customer demand. The provision of a complete and accurate picture of demand can be used to evaluate where the product resides in its life, influencing strategic and tactical planning. In addition, this data can provide managers with the control needed to effectively plan and manage each phase of a product’s lifetime. For example, demand planning technology offers the capability to accurately forecast the demand of new products, short-life or seasonal products and end-of-life products, as well as optimise replenishment strategies as required. Managers are able to see how demand patterns will impact an entire supply chain. Decision support systems can also allow managers to pinpoint where unforeseen scenarios and hidden risks exist in the supply chain. This can enable businesses to alter operations dependent on changing product requirements, and avoid huge losses caused by surplus inventory or a backlog of orders. In my opinion, technology is critical for businesses to manage shorter product lifecycles. By keeping forecasts accurate and timely, an organisation can ensure that the right products are available at the right times, thereby maximising margin contribution from the product’s introduction, maturity, replacement, substitution and retirement.
Inventing a new supply chain
Inventory is one of the most valuable assets a company
“Accurate demand planning and forecasting has never been more imperative”
has; but if you ask me, many companies fail to manage it effectively. And as the nature of supply chains changes due to shortening product life cycles, so must the policies used to manage and optimise inventory. Technology support is becoming critical to selecting and executing a supply chain inventory programme. Companies should seek technology that allows them to optimise the positioning of inventory across the supply chain, and that enables collaborative inventory processes with suppliers, helping to manage and forecast these relationships more effectively. Improving inventory management practices calls for a high degree of collaboration and visibility across the supply chain, as well as more sophisticated optimisation. Companies that do not use technology to enable their supply chain inventory initiatives will not achieve the same level of performance. I feel the sophistication of supply chain management will continue to grow, with organisations increasingly using inventory principles along the entire life cycle of a product.
Add on a minute
There is an increasing market across all industries for product accessories, addons and upgrades, but with product lifetimes shortening dramatically, the window of opportunity to exploit revenue in this market is small. It’s vital that organisations attempt to maximise life cycle revenue profits through the after-market, such as upgrades to existing products. Key to achieving this is through optimising the after-market with the correct decision-support systems, which will ensure best practice and enable strategic decision-making. By improving the performance of this division of a business, profit can be immediately driven into the company
through increased revenue.
Commitment to competitiveness
Shortening product life cycles makes time-to-market critical; businesses must utilise technology to ensure a greater perspective and tighter control of the supply chain. This approach will force organisations to favour a greater degree of crossfunctional working, speed up response times to market, and reduce risk through increasing visibility of demand in the chain. As a product proceeds through its life cycle, the demand characteristics change, and organisations must be committed to changing the supply chain strategy to maintain competitiveness at a moment’s notice. This can be achieved through the use of forecasting and planning technology to monitor a product as it proceeds through its life: matching a product to the most appropriate supply chain strategy for the next stage of its existence. The most successful organisations will have a strong grasp of shortening product life cycles within their industry, and will put strategies in place to allow them to adapt quickly. Businesses that fail to react will risk falling behind competitors, ultimately facing a struggle to remain relevant in a fasterpaced world. Contact: www.inform-software.com
058_059 Product Life Cycle.ga.indd 59
A new series of articles aimed at growing your business, from sales and marketing author, coach and motivational speaker, Adam Caplan.
Do you want to grow your business?
If the answer to that is yes, these articles could help you really make a difference to your business throughout 2013. My sales training and executive coaching business concentrates on helping my clients grow their businesses, and these articles are designed to do the same for you. In my personal development book, Cellular Attitude: the 9 step guide to a happier life, I talk about the importance of knowing where you are now when first looking at improving your emotional wellbeing. It’s exactly the same for your business, where we will try and improve your financial wellbeing.
Where is your business now?
“There are two customers, the company and the decision maker: you should consider both”
The very first step in growing your business is working out where and how you want to grow it. It’s always best practice to spend some time really evaluating your business. We are often all so busy running the business that we seldom look at how we run it. Most businesses are reliant on sales. Without the revenue that sales bring in, there is no business. Sales are generated by customers and clients. It therefore makes sense to start with customers and clients as our first port of call when looking at growing our business. It might sound as though I’m teaching you to suck eggs; however, by going back to basics in this manner, you may
realise that you have forgotten some fundamental reasons that your business actually exists. The question that most of my clients ask when I first start working with them is: ‘How do I get more customers?’ My answer is always the same: ‘I don’t know. Fortunately,you do.’ I then ask a series of questions that help my client start the process of getting more customers in.
Who are your customers?
This might be obvious, but take a moment and consider who your customers are. Why do they buy from you? What do they want? I’d really like you to think about this for a moment. Who are they and what do they want? This can be broken down into two parts if your business sells to other businesses as opposed to end consumers. If you are B2B, consider both the company you are selling to and the decision maker you sell to. For example, if you are selling a service to a company that helps the company, it will be buying that benefit. However, the decision maker who actually buys your product will get a different benefit out of using you. For my clients, you could say that their company gets a better trained salesforce and more sales revenue while the sales director who booked me gets peace of mind, the satisfaction of seeing his team improve, approval from the CEO, etc.
There are two customers, the company and the decision maker: you should consider both.
What do you do for your customers?
How does your product or service benefit your customer? What does it do for them? This is an extremely important question for you to address. There’s a big difference between what your product does, and what it does for the customer. If you sold portable alarm clocks, your product would make a noise at a specific time set by the user. That’s what an alarm clock does. What it does for the customer is different, isn’t it? The alarm clock gives the customer the peace of mind that they will not oversleep for work the next day and therefore reduces worry and ultimately makes their life easier.
What benefits does your product or service provide to make your customer’s life easier?
Once you’ve identified these, look at your marketing and promotional material. Does it mention these benefits? If not, you might want to think about including them. If you don’t use marketing and promotional material, does your website focus on these benefits? Do your customers really understand what your product or service does for them?
How many new customers do you want? The next stage is to identify how many more customers
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“There’s a big difference between what your product does, and what it does for the customer”
you really want. This should be simple, yet many people never identify this specifically. Step 1: Decide how much more profit you want to make Step 2: Calculate your average profit per customer Step 3: Divide Step 1 by Step 2 to get the number of new customers you require Simple! You’d be amazed by how few people do this simple mathematical exercise. Now you have the quantity of extra customers you want, you have to identify if there are enough customers in your market to cover this increase. I won’t go into detail in this article on how to do that as it is a very specific exercise, If there are enough potential customers, your next step is to decide how you will approach them, which I’ll cover in the
next article. Before then you might want to consider how you approach customers at the moment.
How do I contact customers?
List all the methods that you currently use for customer generation. Explore how successful each method is and, if you can, list how many customers each method gets you and how much it is currently costing you per new client acquisition. If you can’t calculate that at the moment, don’t worry: the next article will show you how to do this in detail. In many respects, what we are doing in this article is starting to create a new sales and marketing plan for your business. Over the next 12 articles we will create this plan,
put it into action, look at the results of what we’ve done, and react appropriately. Please visit my website for more information about my book, Cellular Attitude: the 9 step guide to a happier life, and my sales training services. You can also sign up to my free monthly newsletters there and note that I’m delivering key note seminars at the Sales, Management and Performance Exhibition on 6 and 7 June. Talk Business readers will get free entry; if you are a subscriber attending the show, say hello at my stand SD102 and I’ll have a complimentary motivational CD for you.
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26/02/2013 21/02/2013 16:20 17:05
Focus on strategy BUSINESS GROWTH
Taking it to the next level: Bobby Lane, a partner at Shelley Stock Hutter, talks us through the various stages of growth for small businesses
“After the initial excitement, the growth tends to plateau”
his is easy!’ and ‘I can’t believe I waited this long!’ are phrases that I hear regularly from clients during their first year of business. During the initial start-up phase, owners tend to find there is a flurry of activity, and clients or customers are easier to find. This arises because the owners are putting lots of energy into pursuing prospects, recommendations and exhausting their existing networks. People will want to help you get started and will generally be very supportive during the early stages in the life of a business. However, after the initial excitement, the growth tends to plateau. It is at this stage that
owners need to look closely at their business and decide what the future looks like and how that is going to be delivered. But what are the options? The key to choosing the right option and deciding where you are going is in developing a clear strategy of what you want to achieve and what your end goal is. The journey that you take and its requirements will change dramatically, depending on if you want to have a 20-site chain of shops, or if you want to grow one existing site or build a reputable brand. Whichever route you choose, there is no alternative but to prepare a detailed business plan. This will focus your mind and energies on what you are trying
to achieve, the reasons for doing it, and the financing that you will require to reach your goals. Part of the process will also help you identify the most appropriate options open to you. You should make sure your business plan spans a minimum period of three years and includes the following information: • The vision and objectives for the business • The products or services on offer • An organisation structure • A market analysis • Marketing plan • Financial plan The financial plan should also include a forecast of the profit and loss, a balance sheet and a cashflow statement, which will clearly identify the working capital or investment required to deliver the plan. This will demonstrate whether the business is able to grow via its own reserves, requires new facilities, or needs a radical change in the way that the business is funded. Once this has been established, there are two options to growth: organic or acquisition.
This is the hardest way to grow a business, but one which carries a lower level of risk. This will mean putting all of your efforts into growing your income
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Focus on strategy BUSINESS GROWTH
within the existing business. You should identify the possibility of developing your existing revenue streams or look at new markets, products or services that will take your business to the next level. The key is to look at all aspects of the business and identify ways of delivering additional income or profitability. Consider doing the following: • Increase marketing efforts to bring in new clients or customers. This could be via sales promotions, local marketing or a planned PR campaign. • Identify new staff who can join the business, and who may bring their own client base that you can cross sell your existing services to. • Identify new potential revenue streams which could be: expanding into new geographical markets, new product ranges, new services, additional sites. • Look at new suppliers that could improve not only the product, but also the margin. If growth is going to be based on expanding operations from a single site to a multisite operation, the good news is that, as a more established business, you will have learned many lessons with the first site (and hopefully will be able to avoid repeating many of the mistakes you made the first time round). The learning curve for delivering a profitable second site should not be as steep as when you were in the start-up stage. However, one of the major mistakes that businesses make when expanding is adding to the
“One of the major mistakes that businesses make when expanding is adding to the chaos”
chaos. You must make sure that the infrastructure, systems and processes within the organisation are sufficient to support the growth of the business, and that everything is in place. A well-run business has more chance of success when growing than one which is badly run; the additional revenue, staff etc. cause huge issues. Simply stated, make sure the finances, infrastructure and processes are in place, and that any growth is delivered in a controlled, managed and strategically planned manner. Growth will throw up not only financial, but management issues as well.
The quicker route to growth is via the acquisition of another business. This is a far riskier
strategy as you will be buying an existing business or its assets, rather than setting up from scratch. This is where it becomes vital that you have a strong legal and accounting team around you that are able to look into the potential target and identify any issues that you may face through the due diligence process. In the case of an acquisition, not only do you have to manage the process and fund the purchase, but on completion, you also have to manage the transition into your business. Do not underestimate the time and effort that it takes to manage this process.
A further option that many businesses have adopted successfully is franchising. This is where you sell the rights to a third party to use your business model. This can be a fast way to grow your brand and expand your operations with a reduced funding requirement. But remember: with the lower risk comes a smaller share of the profit. Furthermore, if you enter into an agreement with a bad franchisee, this could have a negative effect and damage the brand. The British Franchise Association website (www.bfa.org) is a good source for more information on franchising. Whichever route to growth you select, your success will be determined by the time that you spend now in developing the strategy and planning your future.
Bobby Lane is a partner at accountancy firm Shelley Stock Hutter.
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Focus on marketing
Sensory overload Technology is all well and good, but if you want your business to really thrive, the key is in experiential marketing: Kimberly Davis tells us why we need a business which appeals to all the senses
“You can make a fortune – without getting out of your pyjamas”
It’s amazing how far we’ve come in such a short time thanks to technology. Now, I’m no spring chicken, yet I find myself saying things like: ‘When I was your age, we had to pick up the phone on the wall to call people. We used a typewriter and correction fluid to write reports. And we had to actually use a real paper map to get places.’ What was once Star Trek fantasy has become the mainstream tool of the common man. A camera in a pen? No problem. A wireless communicator? Hello mobile phones. But how has this technological world affected business – and, more specifically, marketing? There is no denying that technology is shifting the balance of power from major corporates to the little one-man-band.
Thanks to technology, business owners can manage finances with online banking, promote products and services via social media, take payments via PayPal and even hold “face-to-face” meetings via Skype. If you can build a website, you can make a fortune – without getting out of your pyjamas! But have these advancements really helped, or have they actually hindered our ability to communicate? One of the key ingredients of successful marketing is communications. Without great communications, you can’t: • Convince people to buy your products • Leave a lasting impression that gets others talking about you • Provide good customer service • Nurture relationships so that people refer your business to others. All of this technology was developed to help us to communicate more. But in reality, we are communicating less. Texting, social media and automated recordings are creating virtual realities that replace actual human contact, deaden our senses, and destroy vital body language and written skills. As a marketer, this creates a major challenge. But, where one door closes, another one opens, thus leaving business with a tremendous untapped opportunity…. If you want your business to succeed in the real world, you
need to give an experience that appeals to all of the senses. It’s called experiential marketing. If you think about it, all the businesses which are thriving, despite this recession, are the ones which sell experiences rather than just objects. Does Yo Sushi make the best Japanese food? No. But the fact that your food moves on a fashionable conveyor belt around the restaurant is exciting. Apple, itself a technology company, nevertheless has physical stores where you can play with the latest gadget, attend a free class, and have an expert (not a ‘computer says no’ chimp) help you overcome any issues you might have. It’s like an amusement park for adults. If you want to save your business, you must ask yourself, ‘How can I give my customer a unique experience?’, and then deliver it with the perfect balance of technical ease and human interaction. Ignore this rule at your own risk. It could be the difference between your business’ success or failure.
Kimberly Davis is the founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing. To download more free marketing tips from Kimberly, visit her website.
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Focus on marketing CUSTOMER BASE
Before you embark on that costly new business drive, why not look a bit closer to home? Phil Turtle, MD of turtleconsulting.com, focuses on a frequently overlooked source of much easier profit: your existing customer base Cheaper to retain than gain
Study after study has shown that it costs far less in your marketing budget and sales manpower to keep an existing customer than to gain a new one. Some say it’s eight times less, while others say it’s ten times cheaper. Try working out how much you make by keeping customers for six months longer. Prepare to be amazed…
Foot in the door
In fact, it’s more like your entire leg that’s in the door. If they are already buying from you, they must be convinced you are doing something right. They’re pleased with the current product or service that you are supplying them with, so offer them something different as well. They are more likely to buy
from you than a competitor who is still untested.
important customer from under your nose.
Read all about it?
OK, so you think you’re on pretty friendly terms with them. But what if a key contact leaves and suddenly you are faced with a stranger who has their own loyalties to another company? You no longer automatically hold favourite supplier status; you better start talking up your offering pretty darn quick.
Beware the wandering eye
Customers are not impervious to the promotional attempts of your competitors. Everyone has a wandering eye, and if your competitors are putting themselves about a bit, you’d better make sure your efforts at least match up to theirs. Don’t let a rival snatch an
“Don’t let a rival snatch an important customer from under your nose”
Let’s be realistic: everyone has less and less time these days, and reading trade magazines is a luxury people can only indulge in now and again. So, while it’s imperative to get your message in every issue of your key trade media, take the trouble to send out your press releases and features directly to your customers. And, when you do get stuff published, send them a personal copy.
Taken for granted
Don’t ever assume customers will remember and realise how good you are on their own. You don’t notice half the good things people do for you; your customers are no different.
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Focus on marketing CUSTOMER BASE
So you need an orchestrated way of reminding them just how amazing you are, just how few problems they have with you compared to what they would have with competitors – and just how much pain and extra work you take off their shoulders.
unresolved complaints or niggles. Asking for these is some of the best free market research you can get. Plus they’ll be genuinely surprised and impressed that you took the trouble to ask them and take action.
Make their life easier
Nectar points, loyalty cards and the like actually work. Otherwise the big retailers wouldn’t invest millions in them. So how can you take the idea of incentivised loyalty into your sector? How about retrospective volumerelated discounts to keep them buying? Points-make-prizes schemes work really well too.
I have my office in Brighton. Yet I get all my stationery from Angela Collins Stationery in Manchester. Angela sorts stuff! I just phone and say: ‘I need something to do so-and-so’. Within an hour she has found me whatever I need and it’s with me next morning. Service like that is priceless. Be the same for your customers!
Enhance their experience
In most cases, current customers actually get totally ignored as targets of marketing campaigns. Make sure they see all of your advertising, PR, new brochures, etc. And, because they are so important to your company’s success, put some real effort into it and present it well.
Ask for complaints
Make it personal
One of the things that can make customers look elsewhere is
Re-earn their trust
How can you transform working with your company into an experience which is on a completely different level to your competitors? Brainstorm all of the things that aren’t “normal”, but which would make working with your guys ten times better: more fun, more interesting and more rewarding than the people who work for your competitors.
in business many of us try to pretend we’re not. Seemingly daft little things can make a massive difference – like a little cake on their birthday, or a hand-written thank you note.
“Seemingly daft little things can make a massive difference”
Business relationships can be a bit like a marriage. You take each other for granted, you get bored, your eyes begin to wander…So spice it up a bit. Do some unexpected things that delight your customers. If something goes wrong, don’t just put in 110% to sort it out – put in 150% and astound them.
Don’t just read this and “have a go” for a couple of weeks or months – this needs to be done month in, month out, year in, year out. All of which will be amply rewarded with a long-term boost to your bottom line.
Humans are essentially emotional beings, even though
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Focus on marketing TRAVELLING SALES
Death of a travelling salesman Martin Wilson, founder and director of Asset Bank, discusses how technology is changing the lives of sales executives forever
hen Arthur Miller wrote his play Death of a Salesman in 1949, the Internet hadn’t been invented and telephones were much less reliable than they are today. Whatever it was that Willy Loman sold (Arthur Miller wasn’t explicit), you can be sure that if he wanted to engage with potential customers, he needed to travel to meet them, face to face. Even as recently as 10 years ago, when we first started selling Digital Asset Management software, we would pursue almost every viable lead
by travelling onsite to meet with prospective customers. That has all changed. Today, our sales executives spend most of the time in our office conducting teleconference calls and online presentations. This is a result of a number of key technological and cultural changes, most of which have been made possible by the Internet. Tools such as WebEx, GoToMeeting and video conferencing have improved communication and enable sales presentations to be conducted online very effectively. Email has become
“It is a question of getting the balance right”
an acceptable (and even the preferred) method of business communication, enabling sales executives to react quickly to provide considered responses to prospects’ questions. Emails also provide an audit trail, ensuring that requirements and commitments are not forgotten. Technology enables companies to offer online demonstrations and free trials. YouTube footage of how a product is used is common and, for software products especially, free trials are almost de rigueur. For example, we always
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Focus on marketing TRAVELLING SALES
encourage potential customers to try out our software before they commit, so they can see the benefits for themselves. A trial allows the product to sell itself and prevents us from selling a solution that doesn’t meet a client’s requirements.
Less travel, more time
One obvious advantage of having to travel less is the time it saves – sales executives can deal with many more potential clients in one day. Prospective clients benefit too, as their sales contacts are much more likely to be in the office and therefore able to respond to questions quickly. It also means fewer expenses for travel, overnight stays and subsistence, all of which reduce a company’s profits. A recent report by the Carbon Disclosure Project suggests that teleconferencing could result in huge savings for companies, both in terms of money and in terms of carbon footprint. As the advantages of face to face meetings diminish, smaller companies can make the most of an international market; they can compete with local or global companies that previously would have had the advantage of being able to more easily travel to meet a prospect in person.
Face to face: waste of time?
Having said that, face to face meetings are still the most effective way to interact with prospects and clients. Technology is not yet able to convey the nuances and subtleties that we all rely on in face to face communication. Human relationships form more quickly in a face to face meeting, and are likely to be deeper. And, until technology catches up, some meetings are just much more productive when attended in person: for example, those with numerous participants discussing complex issues. It is a question of getting the balance right. The Internet has enabled us to sell effectively
without leaving the office. However, if we want to present our company in the very best light, or ensure a positive outcome for a business interaction, only a face to face meeting will do. Nevertheless, the trend for fewer face to face meetings will continue as the technologies of communication improve further. Imagine the day when hologram software is so good that it is hard to tell whether someone in a meeting is present in person or virtually… That will be when business travel ends almost entirely.
Do we need sales executives?
One definition on Wikipedia of the role of a salesperson is: ‘communicating the necessary information that encourages a buyer to achieve their goal at an economic cost’. In the past, this role was fulfilled almost exclusively by sales executives. The Internet has changed this. A massive 90% of people trust recommendations from people they know and, increasingly, this means virtual contacts too. Reviews and recommendations on social media and websites, such as Amazon are hugely important. This is having a positive effect on consumers – in the past, unscrupulous vendors could get away with having a great sales and marketing team but substandard products. Now they would risk almost immediate online condemnation. Conversely, quality products can sell themselves through this virtual word-of-mouth. In some cases the role of a sales executive has disappeared already from the sales cycle – take the obvious case of Internet shopping. The sales executive’s role has been replaced by search engines, user-generated reviews and the product vendor’s website.
rather than diminishing it. Sales consultant, Fraser Sim, who sells Creative Advertising, attributes the change to a phenomenon he thinks is a variation of “analysis paralysis”. There is now so much choice and so much information, consumers find it difficult to make a buying decision. They are often faced with a choice between a number of products which, on paper, look very similar. Most people lack the skills (or desire) to process all this information, and instead look to humans for help. For lower-value products, this help can be provided by reviewers and comparison sites, but for highervalue products it is usually provided by sales executives. Relationships are important to people. A prospect trying to decide between two similarlooking products will almost certainly choose the one sold by the sales executive who was the most friendly and helpful. For many consumers, post-sales customer service is almost as important as the product itself. They want a good on-going relationship with the vendor, and the best indication of whether or not this is likely to be the case will be determined by their interactions with the sales executives. The Internet will continue to change how companies sell their products. The stereotype of a pushy travelling salesman belongs firmly in the past – nowadays sales executives are most likely to operate from their office, and will provide an increasingly rare, yet essential, human element to business transactions.
“Face to face meetings are still the most effective way to interact with prospects”
Not dead, just different
However, some think that the Internet has changed behaviour in a way that is redefining the role of sales executives,
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Focus on marketing PPC
The crash course: PPC Saira Khan, a non exec director at digital marketing agency Push, shares her PPC know-how to help you navigate the murky world of Google Adwords
s a business owner, I’ve used the very latest Internet marketing techniques to grow businesses over the years. Tellingly, all of the successful businesses I’ve worked with are getting one thing right: Google. One of the most common questions Push gets asked when speaking to new clients is if they should invest in PPC or SEO. This is essentially the wrong question, as businesses need a strategy for both. If you have a new website, or this is the first time you are investing in marketing on your site, Google Adwords (PPC) should be the only area you invest in for the first few months. Adwords makes up over 85% of online searches in the UK, and has the most sophisticated advertising
platform. Your PPC campaigns, once planned and set up, will be visible straight away.
Get your structure right
When using Adwords or other PPC campaigns, it is absolutely essential that you get the background structure right. All too often this is the mistake that stops people using Adwords as a marketing channel. Campaigns succeed if built properly so they can be managed properly. Structures should be built with the following in mind: • Intended settings • Landing pages • Key products and services • The most popular and relevant terms Make sure you understand whether having the default Google content network running
is the right thing for your business. It probably isn’t to start with, but Google enables this by default.
What are you testing?
TEST, TEST, TEST! It is incredibly easy and cost effective to test stacks of stuff that will get your Adwords campaign converting at its maximum level. You should be testing different landing pages, multiple adverts, different keywords and much more. This is a key feature of Adwords, which allows you to be in control of what keywords you want to come up in searches for; you can test sending them to a page which is relevant to that keyword, testing different ad copy. Ensure you structure the tests so that when the improvements come you know
“It is incredibly easy and cost effective to test stacks of stuff that will get your Adwords campaign converting”
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Focus on marketing PPC
You really want to be getting LOTS of usergenerated content, so think about the following: • Sign up to review tools, as you will get links back to your site and good reviews lead to more sales/leads • Think about Social Signals, as these tell search engines that your site is popular and should be ranked higher. Build fans on Facebook, and followers on Pinterest and Twitter • Google+ is growing and this is its social platform, so if you want to be rewarded with higher listings on Google, it makes sense to spend time building your company profile and authorship online • Highlight an online spokesperson within your business. By setting up Google Authorship, you can tell Google you are a content contributor to your website, other social platforms and other websites. As you post more relevant content around your business, Google will reward your increasing authorship profile with better rankings
which changes led to the better performance.
Tailor your features
To help ensure you don’t waste your budget on non-relevant clicks, Adwords is packed with features such as: • Ads can only be shown at certain times: ideal if, for example, you mainly receive calls but are only open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday • Making sure your adverts only appear in certain geographical areas that are in the region you cover • Setting up mobile-only campaigns means you would pay a lower price for those clicks than a setting for all devices
Measure your performance
Make sure you have set up conversion goals properly, and then track, measure and make more informed decisions about where to focus your marketing money. Don’t just think about conversions as an actual sale or contact form; they can include many things. PDF downloads, telephone calls and email signups are all examples of conversions. With telephone calls, definitely make sure you know the Google keyword searches that are leading to the actual calls.
Decrypting the data
Your Adwords data, if set up and managed properly, should be able to tell you with some certainty information that would look like the following: Spend: £1000 per month Cost per visitor: £.20p Number of visits: 5000 Conversion rate: 3% Number of leads: 150 Keyword 1: 20 contact forms completed, 12 phone calls Keyword 2: 12 contact forms completed, 14 phone calls (etc.) From this data you know which keywords are the ones that work best for your business. You can then increase your budget on those successful keywords.
Now it’s time to think about your SEO strategy, as ideally you want to appear in natural searches for those keywords that you know work well for generating business. Too many businesses prioritise SEO before knowing this, and it is one of the most common mistakes in search marketing. Push has client studies that show if you have a PPC advert and a natural listing on page one for a selected keyword, your sales and leads grow exponentially, as much as 30% in some cases. It is important that you have a strategy for both, rather than thinking that one replaces the other.
What does SEO mean?
SEO is about building your company’s profile online and then being rewarded for it. It has changed a great deal in just the last 12 months, with the days of businesses trying to dupe Google by buying endless links that are spuriously relevant thankfully long gone. If you want your search optimised, it’s better to think of Google judging your website as if it were an individual, earnestly looking to see how relevant your site is to the search term used. In many ways, building relationships with your target clients through social media is the “new” link building. Time management is key. You need to set aside a good chunk of your time each week to manage your PPC and/or SEO properly. If you don’t have the time or expertise, seriously think about engaging an agency that understands both.
“If you want your search optimised, it’s better to think of Google judging your website as if it were an individual”
Saira Khan is a non exec director at Push. Push is a Google Certified Partner based in London which has been managing PPC and SEO campaigns for over six years.
www.pushgroup.co.uk/talk Twitter @PushGroup
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If you are currently running any Paid search campaigns why not take advantage of our FREE account health check, or if you are looking to trial an new account then we are offering £75 of FREE Google clicks to all Talk Business readers, simply visit our site and enter ‘TBFREE2013’ in the contact form.
“There is no escaping PPC” “
Mike Collins, Managing Director, Tropical Sky (www.tropicalsky.co.uk)
Click Vision Media have made understanding PPC and Search Engine Marketing our business for a collective two decades. Quite something in such a young, changeable industry, where rules are made and discarded with each roll of the dice. We can tell you is that in 2013, companies need to combine a dynamic PPC initiative with an equally comprehensive SEO model to address their market – any market in fact, which seeks to increase leads or direct online sales. It is no longer about mastering SEO to save money on PPC; as an integral part of any marketing campaign, each is interdependent, as the above stat illustrates. And there is no point making like an ostrich, the growth in the paid search market is reflected in stats which indicate clicks to sponsored ads have increased by 220% from 2007 to 2012.* And looks set to continue, there is no escaping PPC!
With continual algorithmical changes in the way that search engines define organic rank like the recent Panda & Penguin updates- PPC, or Pay Per Click has become a critical part of any companies marketing mix and now more than ever, professionally managed to compete properly a necessity. No longer can Organic rank be seen as the FREE listing, as agency fees soar to increase position to the elusive No.1 spot PPC has to feature. PPC clicks convert 2.6 times more than organic ones are you visible? With a balanced programme of PPC including innovative formats such as re-marketing, display & video advertising , you can make marketing money work harder for you and there isn’t a more accountable advertising tool. Reaching beyond traditional methods of marketing, however traditional your product or service is the key to profit. In fact 70% of all traditional advertising is now used to drive customers online. It is extremely tough for SME’s in the current economic climate but PPC in whichever format (Facebook, Google even LinkedIn.) HAS to be a part of their route to market in the quest to seek out new business. Key benefits that attract so many SME’s are the instant effect of placing your site in front of potential new customers, it can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch, and far more important is that companies have control of advertising spend and are not dictated to (with charges of £000’s regardless of outcome)
I loved the fact Click Vision Media became an arm of the business – we never really felt that we were outsourcing.
Dan Simpson Finance Director, Simpson Travel (www.simpsontravel.com )
We tried and tested Click Vision Media on a small budget and reaped the rewards. We wouldn’t have had the time to learn what we were supposed to be doing ourselves – in fact pre-Click Vision Media, we wasted thousands when we first dipped our toe in.
Click Vision Media has done very well for us and that’s why Dave and his team are still here three years later!
If there is no right hand column, almost half of people (45.5%) can’t tell the difference between organic and paid search results. (SEO Book 2013) So what? What does this mean for you and your business?
Chris Hawkins, Managing Director, Blue Lizard Travel (www.bluelizardtravel.com)
At Click Vision Media we understand that running a small to medium sized business already has you running short of time and space to understand new media. That’s as it should be, unless of course, your business is new media! From inception we understood the need for more face to face time and a deeper understanding of clients businesses (after all they were the experts in their field not us) so that we could create tailored paid search campaigns for SME’s that allowed them to compete with the big boys & succeed. By bringing Click Vision Media into your business, you bring in expertise and tried and tested know-how. My ethos was always that we become an extension of our clients’ business, matching need to action & also that our clients will know who we are, their account manager is the technical expert and importantly we get to know your business first hand. We know the best route to take with our clients’ budgets & the best platforms to find the highest ROI’s, mixed together this becomes their tailored strategy. We don’t hide behind agency fees or personnel heavy set-ups –we left that behind many years ago.
If you are a small to medium sized business looking to grow, you need the expertise of Click Vision Media, who will guide you through PPC. In challenging times marketing budgets are as accountable as any other part of your business and that’s where we come in.
Call us on 08432 894063 or check out our website at www.clickvisionmedia.co.uk and let’s talk. ad v1.indd 37
Focus on marketing ADVICE
The Sales Doctor Got a sales problem? Never fear, the sales doctor is here. Our sales expert and agony uncle Tony Morris is a whizz at solving sales quandaries. The doctor will see you now…
Dear sales doctor,
I recently started my sales career, and at first I enjoyed it – there’s nothing like closing your first sale. However, as I have increasingly felt the pressure of meeting targets to hit commission, the other guys have encouraged me to do whatever it takes to make a sale.‘Whatever it takes’ here really means lying or exaggerating about the product to get a client on board. I am not sure how comfortable I feel about this: is telling a little white lie just part and parcel of being a salesman? If everyone else is doing it, should I be doing it too?
A Need a diagnosis? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ‘FAO the sales doctor’: helen.coffey@ astongreenlake.com
Under no circumstances should you lie; you will get found out, and then all credibility is lost and your company’s reputation is damaged. Part of being an exceptional sales professional is finding out your clients’ real needs, and then highlighting the relevant benefits of your product or service around their needs in the most favourable light. I would change the word exaggeration to passion: there is never a downside to speaking passionately about your offering, and if you can back up your claims with case studies, even better. If you can’t, do not lie or exaggerate – again, you will get found out. On occasions, I may say to a prospect I am speaking with X company, which gives the impression I am
dealing with them; however, the truth is that I am simply speaking to them about a project or trying to work with them, and they are yet to choose me. I haven’t lied, I just haven’t elaborated – there’s a difference! Rather than lie to try and win more business, invest your time and energy into analysing how you have won business in the past. If it’s by going on meetings, then make more prospecting calls and therefore attend more meetings. If you are winning business but have low conversion rates, then look at what you need to tweak to improve these. Ask one of your top performers if you can attend a meeting with them to see what they doing differently to you to win business. I would suggest emailing the prospects where you have
lost the deal to ask for detailed feedback. Say that you are always looking to develop and improve, and any feedback would be sincerely appreciated. Equally, do this for customers that you have won against your competition. Email them asking: ‘So I can learn from this experience, can you please share with me the main reasons you chose me over anybody else you saw?’ The knowledge you gain from both these exercises will win you more business in the future. Normally it’s the little things that make a big difference, so focus on what little things you can change to meet and hopefully exceed your targets.
TONY MORRIS, sales doctor
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THE FRIENDLY FACE OF WEB MARKETING
n our experience, 95%+ of your site visitors will leave having done nothing useful. And the chances are, they won’t be back again. Of course, conversion rates vary enormously from site to site and sector to sector and, not least of all, by how “hard” the conversion is. But if 95% of people are simply leaving, you have to ask the question “why”? Of course, there can be a multitude of reasons but today, I am going to focus on just a couple. ARE YOU TOO PUSHY? Imagine you are planning on commissioning a new website and you invite in a couple of local companies to tell you about what they can do for you. The first guy comes in and you can instantly see he is old school sales. He is determined to close this deal and do it as quickly as possible. He fails to answer your questions sufficiently and doesn’t inspire confidence. Once he’s gone back to his office he refuses to take no for an answer. There are times when dogged persistence is a positive trait, but if he hasn’t explained and positioned his offering in sufficient detail, he will soon become nothing more than the pestering, annoying salesman. He is always pushing for a deal he hasn’t a chance of winning because he wasn’t allowing for any type of sales cycle. And there’s the rub. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a penknife or an hotel, everything has a sales cycle. It’s just that one is significantly shorter and less complicated than the other. How does that impact on web marketing? The truth is that the majority of websites are pushy salesmen. They layout their stall and shout “Buy me now!” There is so much wrong with this approach it is difficult to know where to start. Firstly, the Internet is a pull media not push. Surfers request information, products or services but they react badly to them being rammed down their throats.
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LISTEN, LEARN, ENGAGE Lets step back from the web marketing for a moment and think about the second web salesman you invite in. He doesn’t start with a long description of his company, its date of incorporation or pour over his company creds. Instead, he listens. He coaxes information from you, your aspirations, audience types and more. He tries to learn your decision making cycle, who’s involved, what the key drivers are and what your timescales are. When he goes back to the office, he smoothes the wheels of the decision making process instead of trying to force it. He develops a highly focussed proposal and supports it with additional information. Is the FD on the decision making team? Lets send through some financials, or a cost benefit analysis. What would they value? How can we influence them positively with insightful and valuable information? He doesn’t expect to close the deal today or tomorrow, but builds his credibility so that, when decision time comes, he is the only viable supplier. The same goes for websites. 95% of people are demonstrating that they aren’t ready to buy. That’s not surprising (unless you are selling penknives!). Most people need time to come to a purchasing decision. They will go through the phases of concept formation, research, evaluation and, finally, purchasing decision. EARN THEIR TRUST But what can you do to influence them? The truthful answer is nothing without some degree of contact details. I don’t mean get them to sign up to a newsletter. That’s broadcast rather than narrowcast. It will never meet their needs nor address the questions that arise in their stage of the decision making cycle. The first thing you need to do is earn their details. Most of us guard our contact information jealously, so you have to offer something pretty special
to get us to part with them. DRIP FEED EXCELLENCE The next thing you should do – and this will depend on your offering – is to develop a series of carefully crafted messages which you can send out at set periods defined by the average length of your sales cycle. Each message needs to add value. It needs to be useful and tangible. You want to make sure that these messages will be missed if they’re stopped. If you do this and do it well, you move from high pressure salesman to trusted advisor and you will get the sale. It takes effort and time, but is well worth it in the long run. PAYBACK TIME You’ve spent a huge amount of time and effort in getting the traffic there, you owe it to yourself to make the most of it. Don’t let the 95% disappear into the ether. Recognise them for what they are and help guide them to the goal that, ultimately, both of you want. They want a solution to their problem or requirement that you can provide, and you want the sale. Befriending them early in the cycle only makes this more likely.
Peter Clapperton Director, Searchsmith Searchsmith is a team of digital marketing experts who work with clients across a range of sectors and sizes to expand their digital marketing horizons and increase their ROI.
searchsmith.co.uk email@example.com 08458726573
Focus on Lee McQueen
MEN BEHAVING BADLY
There will always be times when you have to step up and deal with the tricky issue of underperforming employees. Lee McQueen shares his thoughts on encouraging staff to raise their game
“Try and get to the crux of what the problem is”
However slick your recruitment process is, and however much you try to weed out the bad apples at interview stage, there will always be one or two people who slip through the net and don’t quite live up to expectations.
them back down to earth, to where their responsibilities are. Remind them that their purpose is to deliver a service or solution to their clients, and that’s where their focus needs to be.
How long you give someone to turn things around all depends on the type of person they are. There’s a guy I’ve employed, and the results just aren’t coming. But his work ethic, commitment and drive are second to none. He stays late, he puts in the time, he works hard. With someone like that, I’d give them all the time in the world, because I know it will eventually happen for him. With someone who is not putting in the time and who isn’t really trying though, I’ll pull them up on it once or twice; but if they haven’t taken it on board, it shows they’re not prepared to change, or they’re not listening.
First and foremost, you need to make it clear what the standards are. A lot of businesses are caught short because they think it’s clear, but it’s actually not. When someone comes on board, you need to have a strong process so that they know what they need to deliver and what is expected of them. I call these “minimum expected standards”. Then, when it goes wrong, you can say: ‘Hang on, this is what we both signed up for – you knew this is the minimum we would expect from you’. When they aren’t meeting the standards laid out for them at the start, just talk to them about it. Try and get to the crux of what the problem is: it could be a bad client, a problem at home, that they’re not feeling motivated. It might be a confidence thing; they’ve been knocked back a few times and they actually need you to comfort them a bit and help build them back up. But transparency is the key. A common issue in sales is that people can have pretty big egos. They can sometimes have a bit of an attitude. Now, I have no problem with confidence, but they have to be professional. Sometimes you need to bring
Letting staff go depends on the type of business you’re in. Big corporations will have huge HR processes in place, but with small start-ups, it might be done over a coffee. We’ve got about 10 staff, and we’ve had to let two or three go. The best way is to be honest, and ask if they think it is really the right job for them. It’s essentially a relationship breaking down, and if it’s a performance thing, you’ll both have seen the writing on the wall. Contact: www.rawtalentacademy.co.uk
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Simple, Straightforward HR Support for SMES, at affordable prices.. Controlling your costs
Friendly advice with a personal touch
ur HR services are always up to date and available whilst you get on with running your business. We can take the headache out of being the boss by letting you concentrate on what you do best, and by you letting us help you with any HR needs and issues you might have. We can also draft letters, help with recruitment, contracts and risk assessments. We can give you all sorts of support either for a one off project by the hour or with our increasingly popular ‘Retainer Service’.
t Plain Talking HR we pride ourselves on providing simple and straightforward HR advice and help to SMEs. We use our 50-years of combined HR and Employment business knowledge and experience to ease the burden of people management for smaller companies who cannot justify the cost of in-house expertise. We can come to you or if your prefer you can visit our offices. Our meetings are all about talking the pain out of making sure you are legally up to date and in control for unexpected employment issues.
eel that you can’t afford your own HR department, we have an affordable solution for you. Sign up for a one year contract and we will credit you with 12 hours of bespoke HR consultancy. For many SMEs you will go for two or three months without needing any HR advice, until there is a disciplinary or absence problem. So you can draw down from your pot of 12 hours. Our research shows that 12 hours of consultancy will cover the majority of SME needs in a year. By signing up for a year contract you can control your costs by spreading it across the year, and it will also help prevent your from racking up an bill you haven’t budgeted for, if you have to deal with a serious matter.
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Focus on people HR DIRECTORS
‘WHY DON’T HR LEADERS MAKE IT TO
THE TOP JOB?’ Sharon Mullen and Jo Sellwood-Taylor of the Mullwood Partnership ask why a staggering 83% of HR directors never get promoted to the role of CEO
hen we looked at broadening the CEO selection pool, we found that, despite two-thirds of HR directors harbouring ambitions to become chief executive, only a fraction of those interviewed work for companies where the HR director has been awarded the top job. Having spent the last 20 years identifying the best HR leadership talent for leading UK and international organisations, and knowing that most HR directors want to test themselves in the role of CEO, we found ourselves asking the question: ‘Why don’t HR leaders typically make it to the top job in business?’. In our experience, dynamic HR leaders combine specialist skills with broader commercial experience and well-honed leadership skills. Yet few become CEOs. We know that half of the world’s CEOs come from just three key backgrounds: finance, operations and marketing, while the remaining 50% come from
“HR will bring a magnificent cocktail of capabilities to the boardroom”
23 backgrounds, ranging from legal to IT and strategy. Only 5% of those CEOs are accounted for by HR directors. We wanted to know why so few made that jump. We set out to discover the underlying reasons for this, and the barriers HR directors face, by interviewing 135 respondents on a global basis, with the majority from the UK. We wanted to explore their traditional career paths and ask them how the role has changed and adapted over the last five years: the pressures, both internally and externally, put on them by stakeholders, and the impact changes in the economy have had on their job. We also wanted to find out, as the role evolves, what skills and qualities now made the “model” CEO. When we studied the role of CEO over the last five years, four clear themes emerged in terms of how it has changed: the nature of the role; shifts in the wider business environment; evolving standards for leadership; and a greater focus on specific external relationships with stakeholders.
Of those CEOs questioned, 45% say the area of their role that has encountered most change is the environment in which they operate. They said that accelerated pace of change, combined with faster and more dynamic communication and pressure from stakeholders to outperform the market, are the biggest changes to the environment in which they work. They say that economic volatility demands multiple strategies, and forces them to maintain a competitive edge reliant on agility, creativity and innovation. Interestingly, a quarter of those asked say it’s their role which has changed the most, with a requirement for greater transparency. The general feeling emerging from research is that the recession has led to customers having higher expectations in terms of social responsibility from big companies, particularly in the banking sector. Following the RBS scandal, exorbitant salaries, bonuses and pensions, banking talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 83
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Staff problems?! Need some advice?!
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Focus on people HR DIRECTORS
has seen customers take on the role of watchdog. They have a new-found sense of ownership, which CEOs must respond to. Most of those surveyed say that, compared to five years ago, customer expectations on standards of behaviour are much higher, and therefore there is a greater need for transparency. A fifth of CEOs surveyed say creative people leadership is the biggest change in reshaping the role of CEO. They have to have the ability to be peoplefocused by building diverse talent and leadership capability, and inspire and mobilise the whole organisation as well as create a culture of innovation: all qualities which are natural to HR practitioners and thus areas where they can distinguish themselves as CEOs. With people leadership skills becoming increasingly fundamental to success, we think CEOs from traditional backgrounds could be left behind. When we asked our participants what skills and experience were essential to today’s CEO, the majority said people leadership. That means things like leading diverse teams and connecting and engaging with people at all levels of an organisation. When we asked them to list common personality traits that make the “model” CEO, they identified 12 – with authenticity, strategic ability, inspiration and passion in the top four. They also said it was important to be a visible relationship builder and an effective communicator, which are both skills closely associated with the role of HR director. Jonathan Chapman, Aviva’s audit director, planning, resources and risk, defines the role of CEO simply as: ‘The ability to take people with you on a journey’. He adds: ‘You can have the best strategy in the world, but if people don’t want to follow you, then you won’t be successful’. The need for strong people skills and leadership makes the lack of HR directors reaching top jobs all the more surprising. We already know that 63% of HR
leaders want to move beyond their role. But only 40% have been offered the opportunity throughout their career to do it. The big question for us as HR experts is, why? It has got to the point where businesses run the risk of losing talent; 24% of those interviewed admitted they would have to leave in order to become a CEO, either at a smaller company or by setting up on their own. A significant barrier to HR professionals getting the top job appears to be the way the function is viewed. The single biggest reason for HR people not getting promoted is a perceived lack of desire or confidence. The 12% of HR leaders who have made it were able to demonstrate accountability, appetite and commercial acumen, together with a real desire to lead combined with being fortunate enough to work in organisations which look beyond functional backgrounds and concentrate on individual ability.
We feel it is only a matter of time before talented HR individuals have the opportunity to demonstrate the positive impact they can make on the wider organisation. In doing so, they will change perceptions of the HR function. For those people with the drive to succeed, they need to share their career ambitions with others, build a breadth of experience beyond HR, and demonstrate strategic thinking and strong commercial acumen in order to be in the running for senior roles. If they do that at a time when people leadership and talent management is regarded as the single most important success factor for a CEO, HR will bring a magnificent cocktail of capabilities to the boardroom. Let’s tap into this often overlooked talent source and access a broader CEO selection pool.
“We think CEOs from traditional backgrounds could be left behind”
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Focus on people INTERNS
One good intern deserves another… More trouble than they’re worth? Emma Clarke, an intern at Wolfestone Translation, argues that internships, contrary to popular belief, can help businesses and young people alike
nternships have had their fair share of bad press. Recently, Tony Blair’s office was threatened with an investigation over its use of unpaid interns; businesses that employ interns have been accused of being immoral by campaign groups. Do internships help to mentor young people, or is it a case of companies taking advantage of the current economic situation? One company in South Wales believes they are an important way for young people to progress in their careers, and fast-track their success. Wolfestone Translation takes around 40 unpaid interns each year, and latest figures from the human resources department showed that 92% of interns went on to either full-time employment or full-time education.
Be aware of the climate
The current situation for young people is bleak. The rate of youth unemployment did fall to 21% in 2012, but the situation is still difficult for under 25s. It has been forecasted that during 2013 youth unemployment will rise to one million. Young people can get trapped in a vicious cycle of having no experience – and no easy path to gaining it. And to compound the issue, in the current climate businesses have become risk adverse, and are less likely to employ inexperienced staff. It becomes a difficult sell for candidates with little
experience. How do you even know that you will perform well in a job if you have no experience? Well, this is where internships can really help young people.
Internships help you discover what you enjoy doing and what you don’t. Ensure that you are open-minded: just because you lack experience in one area, don’t write it off. For example, if you’ve never written a blog before, don’t dismiss the idea. It shows future employers your written skills and interests. It could even be useful in an interview. Work experience offers you a unique opportunity to find out about every aspect of a business. Not sure what people in marketing actually do? Find out. Shadowing another professional would help you to see whether you would like to do that job, and what kind of experience would be relevant.
Invest in your career
Even if the rate of unemployment is high, don’t give up hope: your dream career is worth waiting for. Gaining experience in the career you really want ensures that you will be more successful. Employers look for enthusiastic people who treat a high salary as the icing on the cake – not as the reason to turn up in the morning. As well as gaining relevant IT skills that may have gone
rusty since school or University, working in an office helps you get used to the 9-5 day. Punctuality and people skills are important wherever you work. It is also useful for picking up the business lingo. Jenny Green was an intern before impressing enough to be offered a full-time position at Wolfestone. ‘During my internship, I shadowed the sales department and learned a lot of relevant vocabulary and how the company worked as a whole,’ she says.
Make the most of mentoring
A mentor is an experienced professional who is happy to give advice. Listen to them and let their experience help you. Mattia Ruaro was a translation intern who went on to get a job at the company: ‘Having a mentor really helped me because I could ask for her advice.’ You shouldn’t confine your networking to your mentor. It’s important to make contacts in the company and connect to them via LinkedIn. Companies will be able to see if your work colleagues have endorsed any of your skills. Mattia was an intern who Wolfestone went on to employ; it sees the internship scheme as an opportunity to pick up the best talent, showing that internships can lead directly to jobs. Other businesses should also consider the benefits of viewing interns as more
“It sees the internship scheme as an opportunity to pick up the best talent”
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Focus on people INTERNS
possible job advertisements and ask your mentor how to get those relevant skills. Edoardo Martoni found a job after working as an intern. ‘All the marketing interns have gone on to secure jobs,’ he says. ‘My mentor looked at my CV and gave me valuable advice, which ultimately helped me get another job.’
than free labour, but as a great way to recruit; you have the advantage of testing out candidates on the job to see if they fit with the company, before employing the best ones to work for you full-time.
When some people think of internships, they think of making tea and being a general
dogsbody. Sadly, there’s no smoke without fire, so you have to make sure that the agreement is mutually beneficial. Do your research and ask the company relevant questions concerning future job prospects. It’s important that you have a mentor and that they review your progress regularly. Three months passes quickly, so it’s a good idea to look up
“Young people can get trapped in a vicious cycle of having no experience”
You won’t be paid, but with degrees costing up to £9000, it will definitely end up being cheaper than pursuing academia to put yourself ahead of the pack. Although it’s true that in certain sectors it can be useful to have a degree, on the whole, employers are more impressed with on-the-job skills and experience. Aim to become someone who is confident, with a proven track record and who won’t need too much training. See 2013 as the year to try something new and get the necessary experience. Ambitious young people should take advantage of the internship schemes out there to gain experience, and businesses should take advantage of the wealth of young talent available by taking on interns; these mutually beneficial opportunities mean a win for both parties.
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Managing and Supporting your HR needs Contact Sean Molyneaux â€“ 01932 786066 firstname.lastname@example.org www.personnelmanagement.co.uk
The Employment Minefield With legislation covering every aspect of employment from recruitment to termination, how are you avoiding your minefield. Trusting in luck is one option but are you sufficiently informed about employment matters to be safely get to the other side? Managing employment issues is onerous, time consuming, complicated and keeping up to date a real challenge and the problem is even greater for smaller employers without the expertise, time or money to employ their own HR resources. So whatâ€™s the solution?
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Avoiding the Mines Engaging with experienced HR Managers to help you navigate minefields is a solution and weâ€™ve helped hundreds of employers both large and small deal with their complex employment contract, procedure, discipline, performance, redundancy and TUPE minefields. We take a pragmatic approach to HR, providing services tailored to your needs, often within fixed price service arrangements, ensuring that employment issues are managed effectively - helping you to steer through the minefield.
Focus on people FACE TO FACE
The personal touch Is face to face meeting a thing of the past in business? Definitely not, argues David Vaughton, EEF Venues director
I “Nothing beats the power of meeting clients and colleagues face to face”
n the current economic climate, travel and meeting budgets are one of the easiest things for companies to cut. However, successful businesses know that conducting meetings via video conferencing or phone, without the personal touch of that face to face meeting, could cost them clients in the long run. It’s often felt that meetings are a waste of time – not starting on time, boring, too many disruptions and costs are highlighted as some of the challenges. As such, many businesses are looking at alternatives to the
traditional face to face meeting, alternatives such as Skype or teleconferences. So what are the advantages of meeting in person for businesses, and why should they bother? ‘Nothing beats the power of meeting clients and colleagues face to face,’ says David Vaughton, EEF Venues director. ‘Regardless of the industry you work in, you still have to deal with people on a daily basis, and being solely reliant on technology to create and maintain good working relationships is not the answer.’ He continued: ‘Obviously meeting face to face isn’t always
going to be possible, and no one is naïve enough to suggest there is a pot of endless cash for businesses to use for travel expenses. It’s simply a case of common sense and thinking: “Would a meeting face to face save this project,” or: “Will it improve working relationships with my team?”’ EEF Venues, specialist in the business of business meetings, take you through some of the positive outcomes of holding that all-important meeting in person: 1. People get inspired and are motivated when taking part in face to face meetings – it’s a
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Focus on people FACE TO FACE
great opportunity to step away from day-to-day work and focus on big goals or objectives. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss any delicate matters “off the record”. A new surrounding frees people up to be more creative or talk about issues they have concerns about. 2. The general small talk that you get meeting face to face can’t be replaced. That conference that you’ve been putting off organising or attending could lead to meeting an important potential client in a more informal setting. Chats about family, TV or holidays enable you to learn something about your colleague or client that could be useful and important in the future – you may even get an insight into other events, product launches or sales promotions that would be of interest to your client. 3. The engagement you get from live events and the immediacy of reaching your audience can’t be replaced by Skype or telephone calls. 4. The power of face to face meetings to change behaviours and attitudes, as well as create an emotional connection, is invaluable. Clients or colleagues can be swayed by your passion and enthusiasm, which only truly comes across when meeting face to face. 5. Understanding and responding to a client or colleague’s body language can be a vital tool in business. As body language is a form of physical non-verbal communication, meeting in person will ensure you really see how they are feeling. There are nuances associated with hand gestures, voice quality and volume and facial expressions that are simply not captured in other forms of communication; all can be a key indicator to how your client is actually feeling and responding to you.
6. There is less scope for misinterpretation. If you don’t understand what is being said, you can ask immediately for clarification. It ensures everyone within that meeting or conference walks away with the same clear messages. 7. Face to face meetings allow less opportunity for distraction, as the audience’s attention is much more focused – whereas on the phone to a client they could easily be listening with just half an ear while they check their email. 8. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, meeting face to face helps to build trust and develop strong working relationships. There are always opportunities for relationship building and networking between sessions, and you should grab the chance to take part. These relationships really help strengthen your business, as the promises and understandings you make are rarely achieved via other forms of communication. A survey commissioned earlier this year by the Economist Intelligence Unit asked 862 senior executives their feelings about face to face meetings. A majority of 89% felt communications where all parties could see and respond to each other were a benefit, both internally and when dealing with customers; 54% felt meetings with customers had the greatest impact on their business. One client of EEF Venues who also believes that face to face meetings are vitally important to the working cohesion of their management teams, is Bristol University. Mary O’Connell, senior executive assistant at Bristol University, said: ‘Getting away from the office environment, with its pressures and interruptions, to a venue such as Engineer’s House, is a major factor when planning all-day meetings.
‘Staff stay focused on the objectives for the day and temporarily disconnect themselves from other pressures. It also provides the opportunity for openness and honesty, which may not be so forthcoming on home ground.’ So no matter how busy things get and how tight budgets are, sometimes you have to find the time and money for that all important face to face meeting, as it could be the vital step in ensuring your business continues to flourish.
“Clients or colleagues can be swayed by your passion and enthusiasm”
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Are you a small to medium sized business or new start-up without an in-house Human Resources department?
Are Â you Â a Â small Â to Â medium Â sized Â business Â or Â new Â start-Ââ€?up Â without Â an Â in-Ââ€?house Â Human Â Resources Â Are you unsure if your business complies with current employment legislation? department? Â Â Are you spending more time con Human Resources when you should be focused Are Â you Â more unsure Â and if Â your Â business Â omplies Â with Â current Â employment Â legisla<on? Â on growing your Â business? Are Â you Â spending Â more Â and Â more Â <me Â on Â Human Â Resources Â when Â you Â should Â be Â focused Â on Â growing Â your Â Are you looking for that personal service from somebody who understands your business? business? Â Â GAIA HR Consultancy works across the South East of England with SMEs and start up Are Â you Â offering looking Â for Â that Â personal Â service Â rom Â seffective omebody Â w ho Â uadvice. nderstands Â businesses expert, tailored and fcost HR Weyour Â helpbusiness? Â businesses
Â thrive and grow. With over 18 years experience in recommending and delivering GAIA Â HR Â Consultancy Â Â works Â across Â the Â South Â East Â of Â England Â with Â SMEs Â and Â start Â up Â businesses Â oďŹ€ering Â strategic HR solutions, GAIA HR Consultancy work with clients on a â€˜pay as you goâ€™ expert, Â tailored Â and Â cost Â eďŹ€ec<ve Â HR Â advice. Â Â We Â help Â businesses Â thrive Â and Â grow. Â Â With Â over Â 18 Â years Â basis, projectto-project, on short or long Â Gterm contracts. experience Â in Â recommending Â and Â delivering Â strategic Â HR Â solu<ons, Â AIA Â HR Â Consultancy Â work Â with Â clients Â on Â aTo Â â€˜pay Â as Â out you Â gmore oâ€™ Â basis, Â project-Ââ€?to-Ââ€?project, Â n Â on Â stogether hort Â or Â long Â contracts. Â find about how we canowork toterm Â simplify your HR and to benefit Â from our current offer of one-Ââ€?hourÂFREEÂconsultancyÂwhen you book five hours, To Â ďŹ nd Â out Â more Â about Â how Â we Â can Â work Â together Â to Â simplify Â your Â HR Â and Â to Â beneďŹ t Â from Â our Â current Â oďŹ€er Â please us. contact Â us. Â of Â one-Ââ€?hour Â FREE Â consultancy Â when Â you Â book Â ďŹ ve Â hcontact ours, Â please Â Mona Â Smith, Â Director Â GAIA Â HR Â Consultancy Â Ltd Â Mona Smith, Director GAIA H Consultancy Ltd 19 Â Meavy Â Close, Â Loudwater, Â Bucks Â HP13 Â 7BH Â 19 Meavy Close, Loudwater, Bucks HP13 7BH T Â 01494 Â 814858 Â | Â M Â 07769 Â 114012 Â |email@example.com Â T 01494 814858 M 07769 114012 | firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Â us Â on Â T| wi`er: Â Â @gaiahr Â Follow us on Twitter: @gaiahr
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Focus on people SECRET DIARY
SECRET DIARY OF AN
entrepreneur Fundraising in the Isle of Man: Simon Hill, MD of Wazoku, shares his business diary of attracting investors
imon Hill is the MD and founder of Wazoku, an idea management firm that launched in 2011. Wazoku’s Idea Spotlight is a cloud-based Software as a Service platform, that helps organisations to capture, discuss and develop the best ideas. The company already works with organisations such as Hackney Council, publisher, Faber and Faber and broker, ICAP as well as larger global brands such as Wal-Mart and Diageo. But expanding into new markets requires funding, which is why Simon found himself in the Isle of Man recently.
As a start-up seeking funding at the seed level, at this stage it is really about finding the right networks and pitching, pitching, pitching. There are many networks of this type out there and all of them are pretty competitive in terms of getting accepted to attend. There is typically an application phase that results, if successful, in a call or prescreening meeting, which might take you from 100 applicants down to 20. The successful ones from this stage will then be invited to a more formal pitching event: typically this will be two to eight companies. During the Wazoku funding round, we were pretty selective about the networks we applied to. The core focus for us was Cambridge Angels, HBS Angels,
Keiretsu Network, and a small private group based around some of the UK’s smaller enclaves. It was one such network that took us to the Isle of Man to a pitch event with five other companies.
DAY 1 AM: LONDON-DOUGLAS Until arrival at the event, we wouldn’t really know who the other companies were, or much about the format and structure, other than that we would have around five minutes to present the business and then a few minutes of Q&A afterwards. It is not a long time to get key messages across, but you refine and perfect the skill of the micro message with plenty of practice. So I arrived in the Isle of Man on a small propeller plane basking in sunshine, and was greeted by a very friendly local taxi driver, which made me realise immediately that I wasn’t in London anymore! I got a full history of the island from my cabbie, from the famous Isle of Man TT bike race to the lowdown on all of the key sights as we drove into Douglas to my hotel.
DAY 1 PM: DOUGLAS
The event kicked off at the Claremont Hotel, with drinks and a chance to mix with the other businesses due to pitch. There was a real mix, including an online arts business, a new theatre production, a retrofit solution to make London buses hybrid, and Wazoku of
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Focus on people SECRET DIARY
“I arrived in the Isle of Man on a small propeller plane”
with the investors and set up further meetings for the next day. This lasted a few hours, and was a good mix of the formal and informal (more of the latter as the drinks flowed!), also allowing those genuinely interested to approach you for more information. The evening was a more social affair, time for the core group to mingle, get to know each other and explore the delights of Douglas. The bars and all-night casino were great fun, and a perfect antidote to the stressful day. I think everyone came out cash up, not a bad start to the investment trip!
DAY 2 AM: DOUGLAS
“The bars and all-night casino were great fun, and a perfect antidote to the stressful day”
course. The investors were local residents – all experienced investors – and very interested in the broad mix of businesses presented to them. As expected, the format was fairly intense. I did a pretty good pitch and was happy with the message, tone and reception. I also took some feedback that would help me polish the pitch more in the future: namely to set the scene quickly, and get to the numbers fast! The key part of the evening was the dinner, where there was ample opportunity to mix
The next day, a less spritely group had to be up early for prearranged meetings with potential investors where they would go through the business in much more detail than previously. This was a much more structured day, with set meetings and lots of good conversation looking at the business plan, the numbers, the traction to date, growth projections, team etc. We had a handful of meetings that day and set up more for a London meet-up in the week that followed. These meetings were typically part of a much wider process, gathering potentially interested investors who would do their own due diligence before joining the list of prospective backers. From this point an investor lead would conduct
far more in-depth diligence of the whole business, before finalising the syndicate involved.
DAY 2 PM: DOUGLAS-LONDON After an exhausting but productive two days, it was time to return home, although not before sampling some of the famous Davison’s Manx ice cream! Despite it not quite being ice cream weather, it went down a treat. These funding trips are hugely demanding but offer great potential to emerging businesses. As we boarded the propeller plane for the return flight home, I was hopeful that the Isle of Man would be a fruitful visit for us. The Isle of Man was also a great place to visit; not somewhere I expected to end up when we started looking for finance in London, but a very pleasant surprise!
We were very fortunate to make the final cut of all the groups we applied to, and were ultimately over-subscribed for our funding round. The trip to the Isle of Man was very worthwhile: we met some great entrepreneurs, some amazing investors and contacts, and several of our final investor group came from our visit. Not bad for a two day trip. Contact: www.wazoku.com
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OUR MAN IN THE VALLEY Artists or analysts? TB tech columnist, David Richards, argues against the idea that entrepreneurship is more art than science
“The chief data analyst will be the future king of the boardroom”
There are some people in life who think starting a business is a creative endeavour. Steven Blank, professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford University, is one such person. ‘Entrepreneurship,’ he contends, ‘is more of an art than a science’. According to the argument, to be a real innovator – to create businesses that don’t so much fit into the world around them as to actively shape it – requires the capacity to take an imaginative leap. You need to belong to the “crazy ones” who refuse to bow to convention and instead charge ahead into the unknown, with nothing but their faith to comfort them. If this is all reminiscent of Apple’s classic Think Different advert, then it’s hardly surprising – there can have been no stronger champion of the misfit than Steve Jobs, a man fond of saying that ‘you can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them’. It’s an admirable sentiment. I’m all for championing those with the courage to pursue an idea – those who remain resolute in their convictions in spite of adversity or prevailing mood. But though it’s tempting to think that customers can
be told what they need by an imaginative, entrepreneurial, white knight, business doesn’t always work like that. Asking your customer what they want can never be a bad policy. After all, anyone who builds products that other people don’t want to buy won’t be solvent for long. The customer is king – always has been, always will be. In today’s day and age, you don’t need to go and knock on your customer’s door to find out what they want. They’re already telling you. Repeat readers will know that last month I wrote about the importance of “Big Data”. Modern businesses have a staggering – and baffling – wealth of information at their fingertips. Information that, if made sense of, can hold the key to understanding just what it is that their customers most desire. They’re sitting on gold: they just have to mine for it. Increasingly then, businesses will live or die by their analytical skills. Forget the CEO, CFO and CIO of old – the chief data analyst will be the future king of the boardroom. A far cry from the creative rebels that we often like to idolise, they’ll be more scientific than artistic, able to make insightful commercial conclusions
based on empirical evidence. But in reality, this isn’t so very different from how it’s always been. Few successful businesses have ever relied on a hunch. Even our initial proponent of the artistic thesis, Professor Blank, admits as much. ‘People attribute radical decisions to their guts,’ he explains, ‘but there is actually a lot of hard thinking and information processing that goes on subconsciously.’ The success of a Steve Jobs product wasn’t borne out of his refusal to ask his customers if they wanted it. They really did want it – he was just so skilled as to not need to ask. Like Jobs, the most successful and revolutionary entrepreneurs are wired to draw new and imaginative connections from the human information they interact with. They are all, in essence, chief data analysts.
David is CEO and co-founder of WANdisco, a software company based in both Silicon Valley and Sheffield. Contact: www.wandisco.com
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Focus on technology CLOUD COMPUTING
Wowed by the
cloud Max Meiklejohn, head of product innovation for Freedom Communications, presents us with the business case for cloud computing
he world of business is changing. Workforces want immediate access to applications, documents and services, from any location and on any device. At the same time, with the trend of flexible and remote working continuing to grow, organisations are becoming increasingly reliant on web-based storage facilities that are accessible at any time to employees, across a variety of locations and departments within the business. Cloud computing is a much touted concept, and businesses can reap a range of benefits from investing in a cloud deployment. Not only is information easier to share and access, but communication lines can also become streamlined with customers and partners, leading to a more collaborative working model, both internally and externally. However, the cloud is by no means a one-size-fits-all
approach, so unless SMEs invest in an appropriate cloud model and method of deployment, the perceived benefits may elude them. This article aims to dispel the myths of cloud computing, and at the same time provide informed guidance on how SMEs can realise the genuine benefits associated with the cloud. This starts with choosing the correct model for your business, and continues throughout the process of working alongside a hosting partner to ensure that your company gains maximum value from its cloud deployment.
The business case
Combining networking, storage, management solutions and web-based business applications, a cloud computing platform can transform the IT function from a cost base to a revenue generator. As a core element of an organisation,
“The cloud is by no means a onesize-fits-all approach”
cloud computing will create new communication and collaboration possibilities that enhance productivity and competitiveness and generate cost efficiencies: • Businesses can transform ideas into marketable products faster, as designs and market plans can be accessed by multiple teams across regional and national borders. • Rapidly expanding businesses can merge operations and migrate from one platform to another, by providing teams in dispersed locations access to centralised data and a unified communications platform. • IT budgets are focused on what a business needs and uses, and IT models can be scaled up or down, so ROI is realised almost immediately. • Cost savings from lower energy consumption, minimal overprovisioning and a reduced carbon footprint. • Management of information is less time consuming and, due
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Focus on technology CLOUD COMPUTING
â€œA cloud computing platform can transform the IT function from a cost base to a revenue generatorâ€?
to centralised security, remote system backups and firewalls, invaluable data is protected.
The cloud in practice
Cloud is not a new concept â€“ millions of people have been using cloud-based email services like Yahoo! Hotmail for decades. But as the adoption of ondemand services continues to grow, more structure has evolved around how these cloud platforms are delivered for organisations of all sizes. Before choosing the right cloud for your business, it is important to consider the options available to you:
1. Private clouds
Private clouds operate solely for one organisation, where they can specify data and
online storage requirements. This model is favourable to large enterprises and public sector organisations with large amounts of confidential information and a complex business model, requiring a customised and sophisticated cloud computing model. While larger organisations will benefit from a private cloud due to economies of scale on a cost level, there are also cost benefits available on a smaller scale to SMEs. However, investing in a private cloud requires dedication from the IT department in terms of management and maintenance, so it is only recommended to businesses with a complex IT and communications system in need of streamlining.
2. Public clouds
At the opposite end of the scale, public clouds are open to the general public or large industry groups. A public cloud is usually the best model for SMEs, as it provides better value in terms of cost and focuses more on the business model rather than the IT structure itself. While public clouds are at times regarded as less secure than private clouds, by choosing the right hosting partner, an SME can maintain control of its own privacy and security when deploying and using a public cloud model.
3. Hybrid clouds
A solution that can be considered a middle ground between the two models outlined above is the hybrid
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Focus on technology CLOUD COMPUTING
cloud – a combination of two or more clouds (private or public). Ideally, this model is suited to large enterprises with vast amounts of data of varying levels of sensitivity. For example, blue-chip companies will almost certainly have some data that must be shared publicly by law, or that they are simply happy for their customers and business partners to have access to. On the other hand, these organisations will also have strictly confidential information that must be kept private and secure, meaning a tightly run private cloud model is more appropriate. While a hybrid cloud combines the benefits of both public and private, it also brings with it the maintenance and deployment costs of two completely different cloud services, and for an SME this is a lot to ask of an IT department, where the primary concern is often budget.
4. Community clouds
Finally, there is the option of a community cloud infrastructure that is shared by several organisations. This model is particularly appropriate for public companies with intrinsic relationships (armed forces, government organisations etc.) as separate businesses can access the same information. However, for SMEs that are heavily reliant on collaborating with partners and suppliers, the community model may be an interesting option to explore; by choosing the right hosting provider, it may be possible to tailor this solution in a cost-effective manner for multiple organisations involved. That said, this option does not make business sense from the perspective of a standalone business with a variety of customers and partners. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to each cloud model, and making a decision is not always easy. One method of ensuring a deployment is successful is
to roll out your chosen solution to a small section of the organisation as a pilot. For smaller businesses, which cannot afford to run two conflicting services for even a short period of time, at least gain feedback on the solutions available from your employees in order to form a proof of concept. This gives the IT department a head start on how to get to grips with the challenges involved in the deployment, and what advantages are most important to the organisation. This not only assists the process of choosing the right cloud model, but also the right cloud hosting partner.
The hosting partner
Although the guidelines above give an overview of how different cloud models work for certain businesses, it is crucial that your cloud hosting partner is able to advise on which model it recommends, in order to deploy the service effectively. This is true for two reasons. Firstly, because it is beneficial to gain an expert and external opinion on which cloud model best suits individual business needs. Secondly, choosing the correct cloud hosting partner can be just as important as choosing the correct model: especially if you are choosing to place applications, or even your entire IT infrastructure, in the cloud. With this in mind, the following factors need to be considered when selecting a partner, to make sure your cloud strategy can meet the evolving needs of your business: • Customisation: it is essential that your partner can provide the necessary capability to tailor the solution to meet your specific business needs. With a number of solutions available, and no one-size-fits-all approach, every business has individual requirements in terms of communications, infrastructure and security. • Implementation: partner with a company that will assist with
“Choosing the correct cloud hosting partner can be just as important as choosing the correct model”
implementation and migration from existing infrastructure to the new solution. While it is preferable that the native IT department has a degree of control over the deployment, it is important that your hosting partner has hands-on involvement in the cloud deployment from an early stage. • Guaranteed SLAs: align with a partner that will not only guide you through maintaining and updating new solutions, but stand by their service level agreements. All too often hosting partners make unrealistic claims and are unable to follow through on providing the quality of customer service that your business needs for a cloud solution to flourish. • Expert support: your partner should provide a team of technical experts for ongoing consultation and support for your cloud platform and services. A hosting partner must offer counsel, not just during the implementation process, but also as the cloud model begins to mature and the business considers further expansion and integration. • Flexibility: choose a partner who is committed to working with you in the long-term and can offer cost options and a diverse range of services scaled to meet your requirements. Even when clearly defined, business needs are subject to change, even if they are only reactionary and short-term. With this in mind, it is crucial that a hosting partner has the necessary expertise and resources to provide a flexible range of solutions: firstly to meet different sectors of the business, and secondly to accommodate the business at different stages of the deployment.
Freedom is a solutions provider delivering expertise in networking, telephony and leading-edge IT and communications solutions.
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Focus on technology REMOTE ACCESS
PROFITABILITY? Remote access – a bold step, but tread carefully. Clive Taylor, operations director at IT outsourcing specialist, Quiss Technology, looks at the positives and pitfalls of allowing employees remote access
emote access offers the opportunity to do as much work as is practicable during office hours, before heading off for a little time with friends or family, before picking back up at home to complete unfinished projects. This redressing of the work/life balance is creating a generation of well-rounded team players, committed to their firms and the concept of delivering excellent client service, even beyond normal office hours. Organisations are reporting increased productivity from individuals working from home, with many seeing a faster response to client issues and an improvement in client relationships. However, this relies on individuals being able to access their work files and documents any time of the day or night. Of course, working from home has always been possible, but it used to involve carting huge numbers of potentially sensitive documents around, with the attendant risks that they might get lost or stolen. By lengthening the working day, some organisations with in-house IT resources have identified support outside normal office hours as a problem; after all, enabling remote access is pointless if technical errors prevent anyone from taking advantage. This situation just guarantees increased headaches for the
firm’s IT department, as the lack of remote access now equates to lost working hours, rather than merely an inconvenience. The unlimited help on offer from outsource service providers ensures technical problems are generally overcome more quickly than with in-house resources, and delivers the out of hours cover needed for individuals working at home. The benefits of remote access also apply to businesses operating from more than one location that want a single system, accessible to all, rather than duplicate servers in separate sites. This ensures it is far easier for individuals to collaborate effectively, despite working in different offices or from home (when considering the benefits of remote access, we must also consider those who prefer to work from home on occasion to avoid the common distractions of a busy office). An organisation with a strong remote access policy will also discover a major added benefit, should there be a repeat of the events of recent years that have kept workers from their offices, such as flooding, civil unrest, acts of terrorism or major events that cause disruption to commuters. Workers can stay at home and work as normal; as far as clients are concerned, it’s business as usual. The ability to talk to remote workers on the phone during
“Mobile technology is blurring the divide between personal and professional time”
normal office hours is essential, and the technology to deliver the solution is available without having to resort to expensive mobile calls. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the answer, and allows remote workers to be called with their office direct dial number or extension number as if they were in the office. IP telephony ensures they are “virtually” in the office, and no one need know they are not. This technology not only delivers real connectivity to remote workers, but also reduces costs and helps improve efficiency and productivity. Many IP telephony systems incorporate secure conference call facilities, to ensure businesses can get all the right people on the line at the right time to discuss work issues and share information. Some systems even allow the broadcast of documents, photos, graphics etc, to bring added value to these discussions, with clients unaware of where the individuals involved are located. Anyone choosing, or having to work from home can take an office phone home with them and connect it to the Internet; all calls through the network are free and can be transferred as if the individual were in the office. Alternatively, workers can use “softphone” technology on their laptop or PC to ensure
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Focus on technology REMOTE ACCESS
that, wherever they are in the world, a client can ring the same office number and get hold of them. The growing convergence of IT and telephony technology is also evident in the services offered by outsourcing providers, with telephony solutions offered alongside traditional IT outsourcing, helping clients reduce the number of suppliers and ensuring more competitive pricing of the converged solution. Mobile technology is blurring the divide between personal and professional time, with some organisations announcing the widespread deployment of tablets in an effort to take control of the situation, now that many individuals are using their own devices for work in the office and at home. This modern phenomenon, dubbed BYOD (bring your own device), has created an even greater headache for IT managers as they cope with increasing demand for remote access and the need to keep systems secure.
In our experience, the key to a productive mobile working strategy is finding the right balance between safeguarding the system against security threats and creating an engaging environment for remote workers: particularly those who are perhaps less technically inclined. The issue surrounding theft of smartphones or laptops that contain remote access privileges is becoming far easier to address, with software that enables the remote wiping of devices, or which can render stolen or lost laptops totally unusable. The growing list of individuals granted remote access privileges is another potential security risk, with many security breaches attributed to exemployees who have not had their access rights removed. If we make security too complex, with too many passwords for different applications and logging on, then users are tempted to circumvent security: even if that’s just writing down their passwords.
“Enabling remote access is pointless if technical errors prevent anyone from taking advantage”
If security is lax, businesses can expect to be compromised. Cyber criminals can steal data and sensitive information from the comfort of their bedroom, with a far reduced risk of discovery. Setting different levels of access for users is a good way of limiting any potential risk, as it’s unlikely every remote worker will need full access to the entire system. So, speak to the people responsible for managing your IT and, rather than find excuses for not creating a more productive mobile work force, seize the opportunity before your competitors do.
Quiss was founded in 1988, at the dawn of the information technology revolution. The vision at the outset was the same as it is today: to exploit technology to deliver commercial advantage to organisations of all shapes. and sizes. Contact: www.quiss.co.uk
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Make your website easier to find. If nobody can find your website, it makes things quite difficult for you. And that’s not good. What is good, however, is that we’re here, with a range of online marketing services to make your website work harder. We do Pay Per Click. We do Conversion Rate Optimisation. We do it all really. But where we really shine is with Search Engine Optimisation. We’ll take you where you deserve to be. The top.
Make your website easier to find.
Heard it all before? Probably. Heard it from a nationally recognised, specialist search company?
If nobody can find your website, it makes things quite difficult for you. And that’s not good. What is good, however, is that we’re here, with a range of Probably not. Mediaworks have been recognised as one of the best SEO agencies two years online marketing services to make your website work harder. We do Pay Per Click. We do Conversion Rate Optimisation. We do it all really. But where running at The UK Search Awards. Our clients range from the world’s 5th biggest e-tailer to we really shine is with Search Engine Optimisation. We’ll take you where you deserve to be. The top. What’s more, we’re based in the North East, regional sofrom getand in where touchyou with ustoand add yourinclude namesome to aofvery successful Searchso get in touch so we understand where start-ups, you’re coming want go. Our clients the biggest names inlist. the region, Google for ‘mediaworks’. We’re easy to find. with us and add your name to a very successful list. Search Google for ‘mediaworks’. We’re easy to find.
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Focus on technology TOP TIPS
3. Monitor your website
Monitoring your website is just as important. If a customer comes to your website and it is down, there is a good chance they will find an alternative. So investing in website monitoring now can really save you in the long run. When setting it up, it is important to choose the right metrics and decide which pages you want to monitor. If you have a large website, then monitoring all of your subpages is neither feasible nor recommended. Keep monitoring to a few critical pages, such as your home page, your online shop and your most important product pages.
4. Reinforce your security
The back up plan Part 2
Firewalls and anti-virus programs can lull companies into a false sense of security. Despite having the software installed, malware attacks on corporate IT networks still happen and often go undetected until the later stages. A network monitoring solution can work as an early warning system, providing an instant alert when specific thresholds are exceeded. Analysing network traffic, for example, gives you a comprehensive view of what is going on in the network. You can also locate the source of any unusual activity, allowing you to deal with any problem before it escalates and affects your customers.
The second part of our top tips for keeping your online business up and running: courtesy of Dirk Paessler, CEO and 5. Have a recovery plan founder of network monitoring specialist, Paessler Although it is a worst case 1. Serve through a CDN
The basic idea of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is to deliver content faster, by hosting the files at various locations around the globe. This minimises delays caused by geographical distances. When someone enters Paessler’s URL into their browser, their computer will connect to the closest CloudFront server. This edge server will only connect with our web servers if it doesn’t already have a recent copy of the webpage. Using a CDN not only has speed advantages: it’s also more reliable.
2. Monitor your network
Once you have all your plans in place, monitor the status of your systems for early detection of any network problems that could affect your business and total peace of mind. This includes your IT infrastructure, including all crucial hardware components, your network connections and your servers. Start by monitoring availability, speed, bandwidth usage, temperatures, Central Processing Unit (CPU) and disk usages. You may also want to think about monitoring your business processes.
“Investing in website monitoring now can really save you in the long run”
scenario, disasters such as flooding or fire can bring your business to a halt – and create massive work spikes to recover or recreate data – so it’s important to plan for them just in case. If, for example, your office is damaged by fire, then you need to ensure this won’t affect your website and that you have the necessary things in place for your employees to continue working. Remote desktops and a replicated datacentre will help here.
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Focus on technology APPS
I’ve got an app for that… Two of the very best apps for SMEs: access your backed-up files from anywhere, and manage your employees’ travel expenses without breaking a sweat. These apps are the business
.Price: FREE for those with a Mozy account Compatible with: iPhone and Android The gist: We love this app! Mozy is the online backup service that continuously backs up the files on your computer or server. It gives small businesses the space to back up all their computer and server files, so owners of SMEs know their files are retrievable, even during a data loss crisis. Mozy’s app means you can access your backed-up files from your mobile. Firstly, it allows you to securely access the files you protect with Mozy. You can send files as an email attachment, as well as view files (for file types that your mobile platform can render). Secondly, it allows you to quickly view photo thumbnails, and download the full file (higher resolution) of those you want to see in complete detail. Downloadable from: mozy.co.uk
SAP Travel Expense Approval
Price: FREE Compatible with: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry The gist: Speed decision-making and responsiveness by enabling managers to process travel expense reports anytime, anywhere. With this travel expense app, managers can view and approve or reject travel expense reports from their mobile devices. You can: receive notification of travel expense reports awaiting approval; view a list of all travel expense approvals in a manager’s workflow; view policy violation details to ensure adherence to company policy; and accept or reject travel expenses. This app connects to the SAP ERP application and allows managers to act on travel expense workflows in a timely manner right from their smartphone. Downloadable from: sap.com
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Focus on technology GADGETS
Battle of the brands: Canon vs Fujitsu
We say hello to the super portable mobile scanners that would look just dandy on any MDâ€™s desk. They take up minimal space, but deliver maximum impact
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[What they say]
Focus on technology GADGETS
Canon image FORMULA P-208 £135 excl. VAT
Colour (200dpi): 8 pages per minute / 16 images per minute
312.5mm x 55.5mm x 40mm Weight: approx. 600g
10 sheets (64g/m²)
This latest Canon scanner is just so compact, we can’t help being won over. Sleek, black and so slim you could mistake it for an overblown paperweight, if minimalism’s your thing this is definitely the gadget for you
“The compact and stylish P-208 mobile scanner is the perfect choice for travelling executives and home users. A 10-sheet ADF and high speed duplex scanning ensure productivity is always maintained”
[VS] [Price] [Speed]
[What they say]
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i £209 inc. VAT
Colour (200dpi): 9 pages per minute / 18 images per minute
284mm x 99mm x 77mm Weight: 1.4kg
10 sheets (80 g/m²)
More robust than Canon’s offering, the Fujitsu equivalent is nevertheless still on the skinny side. The more space-age matte silver finish also works well – but Canon probably just clinches it in the looks department
“At nearly half the size of a sheet of paper, the ScanSnap S1300i is built for convenience and ease of use. A one-button approach allows for scanning of multi-page, double-sided documents whether at the desk or on the road”
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Focus on franchise
Franchise news Natures Purest opens first franchise
Franchising survey results released
ORGANIC BABY PRODUCT business, Natures Purest, has announced the imminent opening of its first franchise store in Eton, Berkshire. Since launching the franchise side of its well-established business at the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in October, Natures Purest has reported strong interest in the franchise opportunity. The first franchise will be run by Berkshire resident, Harina Bassi. Company founder and managing director, Jane Albon, commented: ‘We were told that not much happens within the first year of launch, so we are thrilled to be opening our first store after just five months.’ After an initial meeting, Harina was delighted to discover a perfect location on the high street in Eton. On joining the Natures Purest network, Harina said: ‘I just can’t wait to get started. Now the shop fitters have been in to measure up and I’ve got a few of the beautiful baby products, it all seems very real and exciting!’
FRANCHISE DIRECT, THE UK’s largest online franchise directory, recently completed its UK Prospective Franchising Survey, in which it requested responses from site visitors. The survey was used to gauge the opinions, experience, aspirations and demographics of the prospective franchisees that frequent the site. Participants were asked a range of questions spanning five categories: professional background and research done, financing, support, franchises interested in, and demographics. Topics examined by the survey included what franchise industries most appealed to prospective franchisees, how they intended to fund their franchise, whether they had management experience, and whether they had ever attended a franchise trade show or expo. The survey yielded some interesting results. Some 80.1% of respondents had past management experience and the drive to be their
own boss was their main incentive to take up franchising (confirmed by 53.3% of respondents). Furthermore, 50.4% of respondents are currently employed by another organisation, while 30.8% are selfemployed and 18.8% unemployed. The 2012 survey sought to update and build upon its 2011 counterpart, in which Franchising Direct tried to gain information from its site visitors about a range of subjects, including their background, financing plans and franchise industries of choice. For a full introduction to the survey, go to: www.franchisedirect.co.uk
A-Star Sports scoops Guardian award A-STAR SPORTS, THE UKwide multi-sports coaching franchise business, has added to its awards tally by winning the Guardian newspaper’s Small Business Network’s Best Practice Exchange category Starting Up. The company, which is just over a year old, was founded by three couples – Gary and Sharon Bassett, Kevin and Caroline Key and Alister and Lorna Ramm. The latest accolade from the Best Practice Exchange allowed A-Star Sports to share useful, informative examples of best
practice in starting up a business with the Guardian’s readers. Sharon Bassett said: ‘Everyone in the A-Star Sports family is delighted to have been recognised on such a significant platform for the UK’s thriving small business community. ‘Best practice is vitally important for growing businesses, both from an ethical and from a practical point of view, and it was important for us to demonstrate how we pass this on to our franchisees through our best practice manuals and policies.’ talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 109
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Focus on franchise SPOTLIGHT
What will franchisees get for their money?
Under the spotlight… The Detective Project
A franchise worthy of investigation: Jenny Williams tells us how she started her new franchise, The Detective Project, to educate children and adults about science through a fun, interactive workshop
The Detective Project, which provides fun, science-based events based on “scene of crime” analysis for children and adults alike, has launched its nationwide franchise operation. The Bristol-based business is the brainchild of Jenny Williams, a former career detective with the Metropolitan, and Avon and Somerset police forces. She combined her knowledge of scene of crime methodology with her experience as a mum, to launch the event business two and a half years ago. The concept sees children and adults don their SOCO (Scenes Of Crime Officer) outfits and start detecting; it has proved so successful that The Detective Project, which is already a winner of Mumpreneur 100 and a 2012 What’s On for Juniors Award, has doubled its turnover in year two, and is now working to meet demand across the UK.
What led you to franchise your business?
There are very few companies offering my services, so since starting out in 2010 I have always been asked to travel far and wide. I was soon being offered more work than I could manage, and considered sub-contracting before realising that franchising was a much better method of replicating my workshops. Franchisees can use their local knowledge to target markets specifically in their area, setting their own goals and being their own boss.
What have the biggest challenges been so far?
Balancing working on, against working in, the business. I run the Bristol franchise and still work hard at detective party events and workshops here. Then the franchising work and administration is waiting for me at the end of the day.
Franchisees receive a ‘business in a box’, including all manuals, storyboards and kit. They also receive comprehensive training, start-up and operational support, and a full on-going support programme. Each franchisee also has an exclusive territory and a dedicated page within The Detective Project website.
Do you offer training and support?
Yes, we provide five days of classroom and practical training at start up, followed up with regular meetings focusing on business development, newsletters and updated manuals and storyboards on a regular basis. Plus we provide unlimited support during office hours.
How much will a franchise set me back?
It costs £9995 for a five-year licence in an exclusive territory.
“I was soon being offered more work than I could manage”
What is your vision for the future of the franchise?
A network of franchisees covering the country, providing a wide range of quality workshops for children and adults alike, working with individuals, schools, clubs and businesses. And for those franchisees to be happy, promoting and providing a fun, educational product in a business that works for them.
What has been your proudest moment in business? Every time someone books a party on personal recommendation.
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was really cross when I found out I’d been made redundant. I thought it was a job for life and I didn’t know what to do with myself.” Jill ”ran away” back to Germany for a couple of weeks, and spent time ”mulling things over” on her return. HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE ZIPYARD? One day Jill’s husband Gerald returned home clutching an advertisement he’d seen all about The ZipYard. He was very excited but Jill admits her initial reaction was ”But Gerald I don’t even sew!” HAD YOU CONSIDERED RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS BEFORE? “I wanted to be my own boss, manage my own time and benefit from my own efforts” Jill agreed to contact Nigel Toplis, franchisor of The ZipYard, to get more information but still felt she needed a bit more time to think it over. Nigel suggested she pay a visit to Richard McConnell, owner of the ZipYard in Altrincham. We visited Richard’s Centre and were very excited by what we saw and I felt I could manage this kind of business. WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH? “We opened on Monday 21 May 2012. I was nervous, but quietly confident. ”
FROM REDUNDANCY TO THE ZIPYARD Jill Phillips (46) admits to being ‘very cross’ when she was made redundant from her job in credit control for a major US corporation in September 2011. However, in under 12 months Jill became the proud owner of The ZipYard in Basingstoke and admits it was probably the best thing that ever happened to her.
HOW IS IT GOING? “I’m really happy. Our sales figures are good and the feedback from local people is so encouraging. People say to me This is just what Basingstoke needs. Thanks for opening here.” HAS THE FRANCHISOR BEEN SUPPORTIVE? “Yes the whole team has been fantastic. From the training, to the huge level of support I’ve had, it’s all been great. Although it’s my business, I’ve never felt alone or out on a limb. It’s been teamwork from day one.”
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WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS? “Once this business has been up and running for a while I’d love to branch out with another one somewhere else. For now I’m happy focusing my efforts on Basingstoke and making a success of it. I’ve just taken on another seamstress so the business is growing already.” WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE ZIPYARD TO OTHER POTENTIAL FRANCHISEES? “Most definitely, I’m learning all the time and it’s such a sociable business. I really enjoy talking to the customers and I get such a feeling of satisfaction from seeing how happy they are when their clothes fit properly.” ANY ADVICE TO OFFER OTHER WOMEN THINKING OF SETTING UP A FRANCHISE? “As a woman I can recommend the business. All I’d say is you have to want to succeed and know what your own capabilities are.”
KEVIN OLD THE ZIPYARD BOURNEMOUTH HOW DID YOU COME TO INVESTIGATE FRANCHISING, AND WHY ZIPYARD? ”Having been involved successfully with franchising before I was aware of its many benefits with regards to recognition and support. The ZipYard appealed to me as it had very strong branding and as important the franchisor had a good reputation within the industry and were members of the BFA.” WHAT ASSISTANCE DID YOU RECEIVE? WHAT SUPPORT HAVE YOU RECEIVED, BEFORE AND SINCE OPENING THE STORE? ”The process was fairly simple and straightforward, assistance and advice was given with regards to the site and its location together with rental and lease negotiations etc. Prior
to this I had spent a week at head office and in store training which was very comprehensive and thorough.” HOW IS IT WORKING OUT SO FAR? WHAT BENEFITS COME WITH RUNNING A RECOGNISED FRANCHISE AND PREMISES? ”The store is running very successfully and above target. The main benefits from running a franchised business are the almost immediate recognition from customers of your business together with the support and back up provided by the franchisor.” HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE FOR YOUR BUSINESS? ”I see a very bright future with the planned expansion to three to four more units within the next 24 months.” WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE CONSIDERING FRANCHISING WITH ZIPYARD - AND FRANCHISING IN GENERAL? ”The best advice to any potential franchisee of the ZipYard would be to talk to as many existing franchisees as possible. Be aware that this is a very simple business but customer service is of paramount importance. With regards to franchising in general be prepared to follow the franchisor guidelines, do not be tempted to deviate under any circumstances unless you discuss it with the franchisor first, be prepared for some serious hard work, and follow what I call the recipe book, if you do that you are more than likely going to bake a successful cake!”
WHAT’S THE TOTAL COST? Total Cost: Approx. £33,000 + VAT plus shop fit
THE SERIAL BUSINESSMAN Having been involved successfully with franchising before Kevin was aware of its many benefits with regard to recognition and support. The ZipYard appealed to Kevin as it has very strong branding, the franchisor has a good reputation within the industry and are members of the BFA. Contact: Janet Matthews T: 01530 513307 E: email@example.com W: www.thezipyard.co.uk
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Focus on franchise TAKE ONE FRANCHISEE
outlay, which made it much more viable for me. So I made the phone call, came in for the interview and the rest is history; the online opportunity has allowed me to become a franchisee and take the business forward. It’s all done online, so I meet applicants and landlords at the property. I’ve only had two people in the last year outside my house asking where the office is. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING FROM HOME? Working from home online creates issues. My wife expects me to be a full-time houseworker, when I am trying to run a business – but in turn the flexibility that working from home provides is really helpful. For example, I can work all hours and it doesn’t feel that bad at all, although it can be quite disorientating not having other people around. DO YOU EVER GET CABIN FEVER? Well, because you’re often out meeting people on viewings, it’s not that bad. People are always calling, it’s quite active – I don’t just sit at home, so it’s not such an issue. Although I do find myself being overly talkative on viewings. It’s a danger we all face!
TAKE ONE FRANCHISEE:
MARTIN AND CO
WHAT ARE YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS? I have made a long-term plan, as I certainly do not want to exit this business in five years. Although I am online at the moment, I do intend to move to an office when my cashflow will support it, as I don’t currently want to strain the business too much. I think my territory could support multiple offices.
Be your own boss, from your own home: the benefits of an online franchise far outweigh the drawbacks according to James Gough, online franchisee for Martin and Co lettings With an ever-expanding network of over 185 agents in the UK, Martin & Co is now the largest property management franchise business in the UK. With a strong high street and online presence, the property agency is nationally recognised for its award winning service. Over the past seven years, the buy-to-let market has grown by 8% per year on average, but in the same period the Martin & Co property franchise group has grown by 20% per year.
WHY AN ONLINE FRANCHISE? It was completely new to me. I used to be a solicitor, which was terrible, I didn’t enjoy it at all. I wanted my own business, but I had no direct experience. When I started looking at Martin & Co, I actually decided not to go down the franchise route on the basis that the start-up costs were too high. I subsequently received an e-mail from head office advising that they’d opened up the online franchise opportunity, which was significantly less capital
“I do find myself being overly talkative on viewings. It’s a danger we all face!”
You can view the video of this interview, which was filmed by FranchiseSales.co.uk at the National Franchise Exhibition in Birmingham, on the Talk Business website. Contact: www.martinco.com
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Focus on franchise NEW OPPORTUNITIES
BOTH Been dreaming about starting your own business but afraid to take that first step? The British Franchise Association encourages you to consider franchising, the option that offers both freedom and support We all know what happens in January – after reflecting on the year just passed, thoughts turn towards the coming 12 months and how things are going to be different. New Year’s resolutions often take the form of healthier eating, visits to the gym, keeping in better touch with friends – and changing career paths. As a result, every January sees a surge in entrepreneurial thinking, with more people considering starting up their own business, fuelled by a desire to be their own boss, work doing something they love and take charge of their own professional life. In a sluggish economy and jobs market, that’s an even more compelling thought. The problem is, many of those who thought about setting up on their own back in January lack the confidence and experience to go it alone. By the time February and March come around, the pie in the sky dreams have been shelved and it’s business as usual. Perhaps this sounds like you at this point. But what if you didn’t shelve those ambitions? What if you could act on those feelings, so
“By the time February and March come around, the pie in the sky dreams have been shelved”
strong back in January, and run your own business doing something you love? And what if there was a way to do it, but with backup and support that gave you the confidence, skills and training necessary to be successful? The good news is that this is exactly what franchising can do for you. You own and run your business, but with initial and ongoing training and support packages from somebody who has tested the market, proved their concept works, and established their brand. If you prefer stats to make a case, there are plenty of those too! Annually, and for the last 15 years running, around 90% of franchisees have reported a profit, and less than 4% of franchise businesses commercially fail. That’s particularly impressive when it’s reported that between half and three quarters of independent SMEs close within three years of starting up. When you look at the numbers regarding the franchise industry’s performance since 2008, when the UK economy began to struggle, you can truly see the ability of the sector to buck national trends and turn business dreams into business reality. In that timeframe, franchising has created 130,000 new jobs, increased its turnover by £2bn to £13.4bn, and the number of franchisees has risen by 10%.
It’s a long time since franchising was the expansion model of choice for only fastfood chains (though they’re still here too). There’s now a myriad of businesses and sectors to choose from for prospective franchisees, covering everything from web design to children’s activities. Whatever your passion, there’s likely to be a franchise waiting for you. Visit the British Franchise Association website to take a look at those brands which have passed the bfa’s stringent accreditation process, which looks at their operations, franchisee support and track record. Whatever the year brings, the pathway to becoming a business owner has never been easier – so what are you waiting for? Finally act on those January dreams, and walk through the door of opportunity. Contact: www.thebfa.org
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Focus on franchise EVENT
Find international business opportunities at this month’s major franchise event: The British and International Franchise Exhibition
“A packed schedule of interesting features gives visitors access to experts”
The British and International Franchise Exhibition will showcase a variety of exciting franchise opportunities, both in the UK and abroad, when it takes place on 15 and 16 March 2013 at Olympia, London. The UK’s leading international franchise event has franchise businesses exhibiting across a wide range of sectors, including food and drink, property, finance and travel. Some of the confirmed exhibitors so far include McDonald’s, Platinum Property Partners, Leisure Leagues, Kumon International, Gautier, Weight Medics, Chesters International and Value Doors, with further major names to be announced soon. The exhibition is the only London event of its kind supported by the British Franchise Association (bfa), and only companies adhering to the bfa’s code of ethics can exhibit. Visitors can therefore have full confidence in all of the franchise opportunities on offer. New to the exhibition is the introduction of a pre-booked appointments system. This enables budding franchisees to plan their visit and ensure they are able to meet and spend time with the exhibitors that really interest them. The International Zone is a main focus for visitors at the exhibition. It is aimed at those considering becoming a UK master franchisee to bring a foreign brand into the UK, or taking a UK brand overseas.
It is also a great resource for UK business owners considering expanding their business overseas through franchising. The zone will have valuable information on what opportunities are available abroad, advice on how and where to start a franchise, and how to gain funding. The International Zone also boasts a comprehensive conference covering all aspects of franchising on an international scale, as well as a dedicated VIP area, giving visitors the chance to network and relax during their time at the event. A packed schedule of interesting features gives visitors access to experts offering valuable guidance and support. Real Franchise Stories is a popular feature, where visitors can hear first hand accounts from people who have made the transition from employee to franchisee. These franchisees will share their experiences, including anecdotes, useful tips and the next steps. Experts at the Careers Clinic can assess visitors’ experience and guide them on carving out their next career move. The Finance Clinic has a host
of experts to help budding franchisees get to grips with key finance issues, as well as perfecting their business plan, the document that plays a key role in helping to secure funding. Visitors bringing their families to the event can keep them entertained at the children’s activity centre; run by the award-winning Creation Station, this free exploration class allows children to get creative along with a parent, while their partner takes the opportunity to discover more about franchising. Admission for the exhibition is £15 on the door, and pre-booked tickets are free in advance by using the promotional code DDL13 when registering at www.franchiseinfo.co.uk.
For the latest news and updates about The British and International Franchise Exhibition, follow the exhibition on Twitter @ukfranchising, join The Franchise Exhibitions Group on LinkedIn, or become a fan on Facebook. Contact: www.franchiseinfo.co.uk
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The Dwyer Group®, one of the world’s leading franchise organisations with over 1,600 franchisees, is expanding its Mr. Electric® and Aire Serv® brands in the UK. This could be your opportunity to explore business ownership in the demand-based services industry. Both Mr. Electric and Aire Serv have developed detailed systems in the areas of marketing, operations, human resources, finance and technology that not only start you off on the right foot, but will put you quickly on the path to success. Our programmes provide top-notch training and ongoing support, which is designed to help you reach your goals, whether you are new to the industry or an existing business owner.
For more information, please contact us at:
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04/02/2013 10:40 1/30/13 12:33 PM
Focus on advice IGF
Tracy Ewen, managing director at IGF, the leading independent commercial finance company in the UK, gives her top tips on improving cashflow
imes remain tough for UK firms. Company directors and their advisers are working hard to return to growth, however, right across the SME market, business confidence remains worryingly low. Many SMEs we’re speaking to seem hesitant to take on new financial commitments in the current environment, because they are unsure as to what the future might hold and are scared of over-extending themselves. Generally we are seeing that industries such as haulage, construction and printing are particularly cautious in terms of their predictions for growth this year. Having said that, a large proportion of our clients have increased their turnover over the past few months and are predicting at least some growth over the coming year, which is a positive sign.
Certainly, smart entrepreneurs and company directors are right to remain cautious. Banks are still not lending freely to individuals or businesses and yet cash remains king. Although many SMEs are still hoping that the Government will step in and help ease this funding bottleneck, the wait for good news in this area is likely to be a long one, as SME lending is likely to remain a contentious issue between the banks and the Government for the foreseeable future. The National Loan Guarantee Scheme may look like an attempt to address this issue. But the cynics among us might think that, if Project Merlin hasn’t worked – and this scheme looks like an admission that it hasn’t – then why would The National Loan Guarantee Scheme be any better?
“Do your research and ensure you find the most suitable option for your company”
At first glance, the Business Finance Partnership also looks like a reasonable way to help SMEs to access growth finance. However, the reality of trying to access funding for an average, solvent British SME paints a dismally bleak picture. Until the Government’s words are put into action, and unless this happens very soon, we cannot expect much to change. Certainly, businesses need to know exactly what sources of finance and credit are available, and what their cashflow looks like on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis. Businesses need to know what sources of finance are available to them in order to take advantage of the improving economic outlook.
Planning your cashflow projections – whatever might
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Focus on advice IGF
be happening in the economy – is absolutely fundamental. If you get it right, this process will alert you to any potential problems well in advance. There are some simple processes that make it easier for you to get paid. Businesses should make sure all invoices are correct before they’re sent out, to ensure that customers have no excuse for not paying. You also need a strong process for chasing up your invoices. Always balance your credit terms versus your cashflow needs, and make sure you tell your potential customers upfront about your credit terms. Many businesses fail to look out for bad debt. This is a big mistake – the more you can anticipate bad debt risks, the more profitable you will be longterm. Also, don’t automatically associate higher sales with better cashflow. It is sometimes the case that, if large portions of your sales are made on credit, when sales increase your accounts receivable increase, but not your cash.
Different borrowing options
“Don’t automatically associate higher sales with better cashflow”
The recent economic downturn was caused by a worldwide withdrawal of credit availability. This situation remains a major problem, and it has restricted the options available to SMEs. So what are the options?
1. Bank overdrafts
These have long been the default credit option for most SMEs but, post credit crunch, overdraft borrowing has become scarcer and more expensive. An overdraft may still be worth considering, but the deals are not as competitive as they used to be; it may be sensible to look into other options.
2. Invoice finance
This is borrowing money against your sales ledger. In practice, it means cashflow situations improve with every new customer signed. The two main types of invoice finance, factoring and invoice
discounting, are broadly similar in the access they give to funding: though factoring also includes the outsourcing of the business’ credit control function. With invoice discounting, there is less work for an invoice finance company to do. This will reduce the administration costs associated with the service provision and ultimately this will prove to be a cheaper option.
3. Asset-based lending
This enables a company to fund the high debtor levels associated with expansion by unlocking the potential of the assets on its balance sheet. Any asset may be considered: machinery, equipment, sales invoices, or a whole host of other options. With ABL, SMEs can ease their cashflow through regular payments over an agreed period of time. Most importantly, do your research and ensure you find the most suitable option for your company. Do not just look to the
short-term in reviewing your borrowing options and managing cashflow. Rather, be prepared for what may occur months or perhaps years down the line.
IGF is an independently managed commercial finance company, specialising in the small- and medium-sized business market, particularly companies from new start-ups to £10m turnover per annum. Part of the Greater London Enterprise Group of Companies, an economic development and investment company owned by the London Boroughs, IGF was established in 1997 and provides working capital funding, sales ledger management facilities, credit control services, bad debt protection, direct debit facilities, debt recovery services, payroll facilities and commercial finance for companies, nationwide.
Tracy’s top tips • Plan, plan, plan! Prepare cashflow projections for next year, next quarter and, if you’re on shaky ground, next week. • The key to managing cashflow is to be aware of any problems as early and as accurately as possible. Financial services providers are wary of borrowers who suddenly need to have money today. • Finance problems can often be self-inflicted. It seems obvious, but companies which send out incorrect invoices often find that their customers return an invoice, requesting a new one. • Protect yourself against bad debts. Bad debt protection cover provides clients with protection for up to 90% of any loss suffered by reason of the failure of a debtor to pay, owing to insolvency or protracted default. • Balancing credit terms versus cashflow needs is something many businesses struggle with. Be sure to tell your potential customers upfront about your credit terms – before you provide your product or service. • Don’t always associate higher sales with better cashflow. If large portions of your sales are made on credit, when sales increase, your accounts receivable increases, not your cash. • You may be able to raise cash by selling and leasing back assets such as machinery, equipment, computers, phone systems and even office furniture. However, you could lose your assets if you miss lease payments.
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Focus on advice CASHFLOWS
Neil Graham, chief executive of CashFlows, gives 10 reasons to switch your payments processor It has been well reported that businesses are very hesitant to switch banking providers, let alone the payment processor they use for online credit and debit card acceptance facilities. Given how complicated many banks make it, who can blame them? To help businesses demystify the process of switching their payments processor, CashFlows has compiled its top 10 reasons why being a switcher could be good for your business:
1 Price can be negotiated Even though you may think your current payments processor is offering you the best rates, it is a good idea to research alternative supplier costs. Even if you aren’t contemplating switching, you should still contact your current provider to see if you can negotiate your current rates or if they can offer any additional services. 2 Remittance terms Getting paid quickly is paramount to a business. If your business’ current provider pays your funds daily, 10 days in arrears, seek out a provider who pays seven days in arrears, thus greatly improving your cashflow. 3 Integrated services When researching alternative providers, an important factor to consider is whether they offer an integrated service. An integrated service will save you valuable time when reconciling your accounts, and will crucially give you more access and control over your cashflow. 4 Switch and save
“Look out for providers who excel in putting their customers first”
By switching provider, you could save through reduced monthly fees, reduced transaction and gateway fees, reduced or waived point of sale monthly fees, or in having an integrated solution that will save you money through aggregating services.
5 Solutions that grow with your business Many providers offer bundled packages that can include ecommerce payment processing services, a virtual
terminal and e-invoicing. Research the providers that offer these bundled packages as they will save you time, money and hassle.
6 Offers galore Most providers will be able to offer you a compelling introductory offer. Ensure that you know all the costs once the introductory offer ends, and that the ongoing fees at least match your current provider. 7 Switching support When you decide to switch, look out for providers with a dedicated switching team, to guide you through the process and assist with any integration required. 8 Customer service matters Look out for providers which excel in putting their customers first. This can include bespoke technical support, regular communication on product and service updates, listening and acting on comments on services and how they can be improved. 9 Reliability of service Disruptions and gaps in your card processing service are not only very frustrating, but can also lose your business vital revenue. If your provider is notorious for intermittent service, it may be time to change. 10 Terms of service Look around for alternative providers that offer you better terms, including requiring a lower reserve amount from your business or a shorter-term contract that doesn’t have high penalties for early cancellation.
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Focus on advice CASHFLOWS
Ditch and switch
CashFlows advises on how to go about switching your online payment processor Ecommerce is fast becoming the preferred shopping channel for both consumers and businesses. To ensure you maximise this payment channel, your business needs a payment processor which is both reliable and supportive of your business. The decision to switch payment processor is a big one but, if done properly, it shouldn’t have a big impact on your business…
your business needs to support your ecommerce function? • Do they offer additional products or services that would help your business? Top tip – Most payment processors will let you demo their card payment processing system before you commit to switching to them. Take advantage and ensure it fits your needs.
Once you have decided which provider you would like to go with, follow these easy steps to sign up: • Check the fine print – make sure you are happy with the terms and conditions. Be sure to check the length of the contract to ensure you’re not locked in with hefty penalties for leaving • Raise any bespoke requirement issues – advise the prospective provider of your bespoke requirements so they can accommodate your needs • Review your banking arrangement – some payment processors offer a business bank account alongside their card processing services. Investigate this before finalising the application process Top tip – Check how long the application process normally takes, and when you can expect to be live and trading. This can vary dramatically, from three days to four weeks.
When looking at card processing alternative providers, it is essential that you not only consider what kind of services your business needs, but also what credibility the potential provider has. Consider the following when researching alternative providers: • Do they adhere to industry regulations, such as PCI compliance and money laundering regulations? • Are they FSA regulated? • Do they have competitive rates that match or beat your current provider? • What terms will they offer your business? • Do they offer excellent technical and customer support? • Do they have easy to use reporting and administration facilities? • Do they integrate with your current shopping cart and gateway? • Do they offer all the services
“Your business needs a payment processor which is both reliable and supportive of your business”
Once your application has been accepted, you are ready to switch over. Follow these steps: • Cancel your current provider – inform your current service provider that you will no longer be using their service and agree on the switching date • Integration into new solution – your new provider should support you through any integration required • Get testing – test the payment processing service with a test card to make sure transactions are authorised as they should be • Going live – before you go live, your payment processor will need certain details to activate your account. These normally include your bank details where settled funds are paid to, and written confirmation that you want your account to be activated. After this you’re ready to go! Top tip – If you have a cross over period with both old and new payment provider services, you can have both links on your website so customers can choose which one they pay with. Once you have fully migrated to the new provider, simply remove the old provider’s link. For more tips and guidance on switching – #beaswitcher Contact: www.cashflows.com
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Directory MARCH 2013
Your HR Partner is a unique HR Consultancy which works together with your business to address HR issues. Whether you need help in drawing up HR Policies or Contracts of Employment; dealing with poor performance; or making redundancies we will work together with you, understanding your business issues and finding solutions. T: 020 8346 8686 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.skhr.co.uk
We offer friendly IT Support. We have options to suit all, from fully managed to P.A.Y.G. Other services include Google Apps and Hosted Exchange, VoIP, Mobile Comms, Data Comms and Backup Service. Clients range from single user offices to multi national corporations. T: 0330 999 1337 E: email@example.com W: www.totallytechy.com
From a single desk for one day to a whole building for 25 years Bruntwood provide office space, serviced and virtual offices, meeting rooms and retail premises throughout Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Cheshire and Birmingham. T: 0800 731 0300 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.bruntwood.co.uk
• Hosted and Fully Managed Service • Our Certified engineers provide complete management and administration service for all of your: - Hosted Servers - Hosted Applications - Hosted Database Systems • Or if you prefer - self-managed T: 01223 832227 E: email@example.com W: www.focusonhosting.co.uk
As the UK’s longest running organisation for professional leaders, we are dedicated to supporting our members, encouraging entrepreneurial activity and promoting the highest levels of professional business conduct. T: 020 7766 8888 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.iod.com
INDEZ specialises in producing high-growth, high conversion e-commerce businesses, capable of dominating niche areas and selling profitably into global markets. We offer e-commerce consultancy, e-commerce design and build and e-commerce marketing. T: 0141 204 5297 W: www.indez.com E: email@example.com
Outhouse-UK is a premier provider of virtual Company Name Here con re restem back office support forTario smallinbusinesses. With a cuptat enlhimus aboris from illat. diary Arumbookings quae estrum wide range of services, to destiam corum services id magnis accountsillitiure admin,coreped our fast itatin and efficient destiam illitiure itatin corum id magnis free up your timecoreped to concentrate on core estem auria eperferum entthings moditesed quias business activities and the that you do ipsumqu untiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. best. T:T:00000 000000 0121 663 0564 E: W:firstname.lastname@example.org www.outhouse-uk.com W: E: www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk email@example.com
If you would like to find out what an award winning accountancy firm could do for you, we are happy to provide a free, no obligation consultation. • Business start ups Tario in con re restem Company Name Here • Accountancy cuptat enlhimus aboris illat. Arum quae estrum • Auditillitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis destiam • Bookkeeping destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis • Taxation estem auria eperferum ent moditesed quias • Payrolluntiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. ipsumqu 01322000000 614681 T:T:00000 firstname.lastname@example.org E:E:email@example.com W:www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk www.gary-sargeant.co.uk W:
On-site computer support Company Name Here Tariofor in small con re restem businesses and home Surrey, cuptat enlhimus aboriscomputers illat. Aruminquae estrum Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Software destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis installation and coreped upgrades, Hardware destiam illitiure itatin corum id magnis installation/advice, Networking and quias estem auria eperferum ent moditesed broadband, PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad support ipsumqu untiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. 01628000000 762765 / 07931 363457 T:T:00000 E:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com E: W:www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk www.redsquirrelsupport.com W:
Company Name Here Tario in con re restem cuptat enlhimus aboris illat. Arum quae estrum destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis destiam illitiure coreped itatin corum id magnis Quickfund provide working capital to grow estem auria eperferum ent moditesed quias your business with minimal qualifications. ipsumqu untiam di temporit face stiuhhggmqu. £3500 - £100k T:T:00000 01279000000 759470 E: W:firstname.lastname@example.org www.thecfgroup.eu W: www.xxxxxxxxxx.co.uk E: email@example.com
Bespoke HR for your business. Professional, honest and easy to understand HR consultant support and advice that suits you. Regular and ad-hoc advice to HR audit Carruthers HR can help. T: 07930153940 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.carruthershr.co.uk
We craft compelling websites and persuasive media strategies. Through an in-depth and collaborative process, we will discover what is unique about you, then shout it from the virtual rooftops. T: +44 20 8399 4948 E: email@example.com W: www.joyandrevolution.co.uk
126 March 2013
Directory MARCH 2013
Affordable HR Solutions Stellarise help ambitious smaller companies become leaders in their field through the innovative use of IT. We are a leading provider of affordable IT support, effective project delivery and strategic advice. . T: 020 3137 3550 W: www.stellarise.com
Affordable HR Solutions can take care of your ad hoc people issues enabling you to focus on your core business. Visit our website to see our range of services. T: 01304 366340 W: www.affordable-hrsolutions.co.uk E: Info@affordable-hrsolutions.co.uk
Hampden provide a complete client focused IT solution tailored to your business. We provide a complete service that combines technical expertise with experience and knowledge for cost effective IT solutions. T: 01865 233000 W: www.hampdensolutions.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Turner Business Consultants Ltd services are always flexible tailored to your specific needs. • Health and Safety Management • Fire Risk Assessment • CDM Coordination • Asbestos Management • Quality Management • Environmental Management • Information Technology Security • Business Continuity Plans • Business Strategy Development • Civil Engineering Consultancy services T: 01268 649006 E: email@example.com W: www.turnerbusinessconsultants.co.uk
Hamilton’s Asset Management services enable customers to: • Optimise usage of IT assets by improved asset allocation • Manage and measure IT operations and initiatives • Identify and mitigate risk (e.g. under-licensing of software products) • Minimise procurement costs • Improve maintenance activity and costs • Maximise the value of surplus IT equipment utilising Hamilton’s expert remarketing team T: 0203 327 2390 W: www.hamilton-am.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
KashFlow Software Limited is a privately owned company based in London, England. We provide online accounting software for small businesses owners — the emphasis always being on ease of use, automation and integration. We’re widely regarded as a pioneer of the SaaS business model and as the leader in web-based accounting. T: 0800 848 8301 W: www.kashflow.com E: email@example.com
We create effective and meaningful Web, Design and Print for small to medium sized businesses creating big results. We enhance customer experiences and help businesses grow through effectively designed communications. Based in the South East, we work for clients both local and across the UK. T: 01438 369882 W: www.gtm-uk.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Complete Office Search is committed to providing clients a complete office space search solution from our first contact to occupation of your office. Unlike other office finder companies we do not refer you or your details to every single business centre and landlord under the sun. T: (0)208 868 1959. W: www.completeofficesearch.com E: email@example.com
At Infinite Brush everyone has a creative mind. We make sure every technical and creative decision we make can help you make a sale. T: 01753 251 241 W: www.infinitebrush.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our business is focused on providing exceptional design, web, hosting and print • Online Marketing • Website Updating • Content Management • PPC • Ecommerce • Email • Business Cards • Flyers • Stationery • Leaflets • Promotional Items • Posters • Banners T: 01865 600 366 W: www.nervenet.co.uk E: email@example.com
We are passionate about making our customers’ working life easier, therefore we act as the platform through which they can access a full array of virtual services, such as: • Virtual PA and Admin Services • Graphic Design • Web Solutions • IT Support • Translation • Marketing and PR
• Finance and accounting. T: 0845 6805156
W: www.proficientva.co.uk E: contact@ proficientva.co.uk
Through working in partnership with you, and by understanding your business and providing bespoke support, we add value and provide commercial HR solutions that contribute to your bottom-line. T: 07973 958149 or 01604 688757 W: www.hrbespokesolutions.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directory MACRH 2013
World Addresses is a hosted web service that delivers international address lookup data to any website or in-house system from the input of a Postcode, partial address or ZIP code. T: 01508 494488 W: www.worldaddresses.com E: email@example.com
Netsense focus upon providing honest and trustworthy IT Support / Solutions allowing your employees to concentrate their key skills, making your business thrive, and our own to grow with you. T: 01444 848160 W: www.itsimplified.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
DSIS is a computing and IT company specialising in ensuring the smooth and effective operation of all your computer equipment, programs and networks. We have decades of knowledge, from hardware replacement and data recovery through to hosting websites and dealing with email viruses. T: 0141 4382030 W: www.dsis.co.uk
We are a technology services company whose aim is to “Make IT perform for small to medium size businesses”. We help our clients select, implement and support the best and most appropriate information technology for their needs, based on a close understanding of their business requirements, their ambitions and constraints T: (0)20 7787 1199 E: email@example.com W: www.microsolv.co.uk
At Forge Dynamic, we understand the challenges that small and medium sized businesses face. This is why we aim to provide the highest quality service we can offer, while keeping costs as low as possible. We endeavour to offer flexibility in our working practises and to work closely with your business to develop solutions that suit you best. In addition, our partner network means we are able to offer additional services, creating an all round IT Support to your company. E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 0845 564 6883 W: www.forgedynamic.co.uk
We can help you: • Surface and resolve team working issues • Achieve Behaviour change • Get projects off to a flying start • Get teams to adopt new processes or procedures • Unite geographically remote team members We have a record of achieving significant results with teams large and small through specially designed events and development programmes to achieve outcomes agreed with you. T: (0)1869 347558 E: email@example.com W: www.hendrytraining.com
Providing insurance broking and risk management services since 1932, our priority is to offer peace of mind, value for money and to provide a personal service with a named contact and in the event of a claim, a hassle free, speedy service. T: 0844 346 0224 W: www.moffattsaunders.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you want more sales, business or leads from your website? If so you need search engine marketing and / or social media optimisation. Remember, “When you work with Serendipity, there’s no long term contact, no hassle and no hype, just good business.” T: 0845 170 1800 W: www.serendipity-online-marketing.co.uk
Skipton Business Finance is a leading receivables financier with offices in Skipton, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. The company’s award-winning service spans factoring and invoice discounting, boasts independent status and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Skipton Building Society, a mutual that has been serving its members for over 150 years. T: 0845 602 9354 W: www.skiptonbusinessfinance.co.uk E: email@example.com
It’s your brand. It’s your business. And with help from Avery, it’s your success. Avery have a product catalogue which includes laser and inkjet labels and cards, printer consumables, desktop accessories and filing products. T: 0800 80 50 20 W: www.avery.co.uk
At Flyerzone.co.uk you’ll find great designs ideas to easily customise online. Your business gets great design, printed and delivered from £7. Whatever your business, we’ve got a design for you. T: 0800 122 3003 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.flyerzone.co.uk
Cartridge World is the UK’s largest specialist provider of high quality printer cartridges. Cartridge World offer massive savings on inkjet and laser toner cartridges without compromising on quality. W: www.cartridgeworld.co.uk
128 March 2013
Directory MARCH 2013
I.T.S Telecom Ltd is part of the I.T.S Group of companies, comprising of I.T.S Support Ltd, I.T.S Internet Solutions Ltd & I.T.S Telecom Ltd. We provide a comprehensive range of IT and communications solutions to the Corporate & Education sectors. T: 0800 008 7009 W: www.its-telco.co.uk E: email@example.com
We are a brand new mobile website development company specialising in the development of mobile phone compatible websites (they’re also known as .mobi sites too). It doesn’t matter if a customer is on their PC, laptop, Mac or any smartphone, the correctwebsite will always show up. T: 01642 946 649 or 07811 337 222 W: www.mrmicrosites.co.uk
KariaTec is a leading IT support companyhelping businesses focus on their‘business’ rather than worry about their ITsystems.With our innovative solutions, our clientshave been able to maintain maximum uptime. T: 0203 137 6669 W: www.kariatec.com E: firstname.lastname@example.org
DynaCom IT Support was established in 2003 to give a personal service to a high business standard, serving Essex, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. We use a combination of remote and onsite support where appropriate – our aim is to resolve your issue in the shortest time with the least inconvenience to you. Remote and telephone support is great for monitoring and simple fixes, but we believe you can’t beat an engineer on your doorstep! T: 01376 342787
Juke Media is a full service marketing agency based in Lincolnshire, registered as a trading UK Limited company in May 2010. The owners of the company formed Juke Media after all having separate interests & experiences in the digital world, noticing a niche in the market where Juke Media could place itself effectively. T: 01476 468393 E: email@example.com W: www.jukemedia.co.uk
we are an integrated direct sales and digital marketing company. Essentially, this means that whatever your lead generation and sales needs are, we’ve got you covered. We have 7 years’ B2B sales experience, we are Nimble CRM and Eloqua Partners and we are also Google Adwords Qualified. T: 0808 189 0789 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.konvertis.co.uk
With Barclays Business Abroad, you get a package of educational material, discounts and tools, including free Currency Current Accounts. In addition, you get a 25% discount on the cost of making and receiving international payments, reducing overheads and making it easier to trade internationally. It’s free until 31 December 2012 after which a fee of £5 + VAT per month applies. W: www.barclays.co.uk/businessabroad
Into Somerset is the inward investment organisation for Somerset. Its resourceful and independent team offers unbiased advice and support for businesses considering moving all or part of their business to somerset. T: 0845 1222066 W: www.intosomerset.co.uk E: email@example.com
Over 5 years ago, we set out to build an independent energy brokers that focused on delivering quick, free, impartial advice to both small and large businesses, on what is the best gas and electricity deals available. T: 0800 043 0423 W: www.utilityhelpline.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
With over 30 years experience supporting SME’s we are proud to be able to offer a wide range of outsourced IT services and support. Our services range from hardware and software provision, tailored business communication platforms to the latest cloud services and applications, all designed to increase your productivity for a fraction of the cost of in-house T: 0845 880 2634 E: email@example.com W: www.orbitalnetworks.co.uk
We supply computer network installation and support in the West London area. Our services cover all aspects of networking from consultancy through design, installation and integration to support. We specialise in the small business support market in the West London area, providing installation and maintenance of computer systems and networks T: 07885 595774 W: www.sevagram.co.uk E: Itony@sevagram.co.uk
Karbonite designs and develops professional and fun Bespoke Websites at great prices, ensuring you get great value for money. Karbonite is based in Chelmsford, Essex and specialises in E-commerce, CMS and SEO. Our services range from personal ventures to professional business Web Design. Bespoke static Web Design From £199 T: 01245 600 075 W: www.karbonite.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
And finally… HE SAID/SHE SAID
He said/she said The Valentine’s magic has obviously gone to our entrepreneurs’ heads this month: it’s all got a bit raunchy. Think threesomes and ‘going all the way’…gulp. Opinions (and spelling mistakes) all their own
Theo Paphitis @TheoPaphitis Thank you for all your good wishes will miss @BBCDragonsDen and the team but it felt like this was the right time.
Peter Jones @dragonjones He may be leaving the Den but he’ll always be my little peeps...even if he does always try to break things! Will be missed Awww Jonesy, we didn’t know how much you cared! Loving the Theo/Peter bromance
Jacqueline Gold @Jacqueline_Gold Asda to capitalise on onesie craze with bunny-themed Valentine’s ‘twosie’ – maybe we should look at designing a threesomesie Blimey, time for a cold shower…well, we’d expect nothing less from the CEO of Britain’s favourite ‘erotic’ shop
Richard Branson @richardbranson Just because the England team travelled to the game with a company called Virgin, doesn’t mean they won’t go the whole way!
Kimberly Davis @ApprenticeKim I’ve just been filled with overwhelming joy at the thought that someday there will be a @Singalonga @LesMiserables. MAKE THAT HAPPEN GUYS! Or just wait for the DVD and put the subtitles on…
Hilary Devey @HilaryDevey just had an hours exercise then off to the souk followed by Irish coffee and cocktails at Cafe la Poste in sunny Marrakech xx We aren’t jealous at all. Grrr.
130 March 2013
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SOFT Â MESSAGE
PLAYING MUSIC? MAKE SURE YOUâ€™RE LICENSED.
Music creates a better working atmosphere 77% of businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and creates a better working environment.* If you play music in your business, it is a legal requirement to obtain the correct music licences. In most instances, a licence is required from both PPL and PRS for Music. PPL and PRS for Music are two separate companies. PPL collects and distributes money for the use of recorded music on behalf of record companies and performers. PRS for Music collects
and distributes money for the use of the musical composition and lyrics on behalf of authors, songwriters, composers and publishers. A PPL licence can cost your business as little as 19p per day. For more information on how to obtain your PPL licence visit ppluk.com or call 020 7534 1070.
can work for your business visit musicworksforyou.com. *MusicWorks survey of 1000 people, conducted May 2012.
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March issue of Talk Business Magazine