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July 2014 ÂŁ4.50
From Boots To Beats When ex-footballer Dion Dublin invented a musical instrument, he was laughed at, but now heâ€™s dancing to the beat of his own drum
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Saint Or Sinner? Have you committed the seven deadly sins of innovation?
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INSIDE 11 Editor’s letter 12 Contributors 14 Letters 16 News & events
TALK STRATEGY 49 Born to sell Adam Caplan’s latest
54 59 63
Seven sins of innovation Protecting your big idea
How to keep your ideas safe
Day dream believer Everybody needs to daydream, says Andrew Jenkins
journey from footballer to inventor
28 31 33
Take one company Piers Ridyard Nifty MiniDrive
Up and coming All a buzz about Hiver beers
TALK MONEY 35 The funding expert Bridging the funding gap 37 Auto-enrolment Pension preparation 40 Funding your growth Equity vs royalty 42 6 ways to increase your profit legally 45 A day in the life LaunchPad Labs take us
through a typical day
47 Are you off the record? Adam Aiken talks the value
of record keeping
suit your shape
93 94 96
We love... Health and fitness Just in case
Best business travel bags
Hotspots: Birmingham Locations for business stays and meets
TALK TECHNOLOGY 99 Don’t worry, be ’appy How to develop an app 103 Tech Star John Bradford on all
TALK SUCCESS 20 From boots to beats Dion Dublin describes his
TALK IMAGE 90 Dress to Impress Ladies, get the look to
TALK MARKETING 65 The science of selling yourself short Crafting the perfect email
67 69 71 75
Sales Doctor Online marketing nuances Kimberley Davis
Interaction dissatisfaction Customer service gone awry
10 steps of Twitter Step 8: Echo your community
TALK PEOPLE 77 Lee McQueen Tax: Paying your fair share 79 Sickness bene-fit Keeping staff happy, healthy
and fit with yoga
An end to commissionfree holiday money Tax doesn’t have to be taxing
SJ Males & Co. discuss tax return issues
88 Secret Diary A week in the life
104 Planning ahead Hire now for your future
107 I’ve got an App for that Our favourite business apps 108 Battle of the brands Smart tablets 111 Laser vs inkjet Should you switch printers? TALK FRANCHISE 114 Franchise news 117 Are you introvert or extrovert? How personality type affects
your business decisions
121 How to research a franchisor 124 The fran man Tony Mundella ponders
attitudes towards franchising
TALK ADVICE 128 Excaliber 130 Caridon 132 Talk Business directory 134 He said/she said
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Passion is the real mother of invention
s we get older it is very easy to get pigeonholed as one thing or another. He is a just a schoolteacher. She is just a receptionist. She is a stay-athome mum. Dion Dublin was just a footballer. When he came up with the idea for the Dube, a unique sixsided wooden drum devoid of a traditional skin, he was, by his own admission, routinely laughed at and mocked. By friends, by colleagues, by those he thought would always be on his side. A footballer who thinks he can be something else, in this case an inventor and musician? How absurd! But, as many of you out there as entrepreneurs and small business owners know, you will always have people telling you that “you are wrong”, that “it’ll never work”, that “you don’t have what it takes”. It is those that can ignore the naysayers - for it is far easier to criticise than to create - that are the ones that often find success. With his passion for music and a belief that had already helped him reach the top flight of English football, Dion pressed forward and proved his detractors wrong. It is an inspiring attitude for anyone from any walk of life to witness, and the idea that you can always change perceptions, and be whatever you want is certainly comforting to us all. Dion’s inspiring story of self-belief
and the journey he took whilst following his passion for music, despite the cynics, is on page 20. A passion for what you do is an underlying theme in the most successful of businesses. Without it, there is rarely the drive to keep pushing the business forward. This is certainly the case for Piers Ridyard, inventor of the Nifty MiniDrive (p28). With an ingrained passion for technology, Piers contacted Apple when his MacBook became full to upgrade the memory, but they refused to do so. Armed with a need and the knowledge, he set about making his own solution, and eventually it spiralled into an international business. Finally, with holiday season on the horizon, we’re dreaming of faraway shores this month to bring you some summery delights. With the hotter temperatures come more formal events to attend and, for all you ladies out there, we’ve got some great advice for finding the right dress to suit your body shape from GirlMeetsDress.com on page 90 - plus a fabulous money saving offer! And once you’re ready to jet off, check out our tips on the best suitcases for business travel on page 94.
Contact: luke.garner@ talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk Tweet us @talkbusinessmag
CONTRIBUTORS Our regulars
The EXPERTS Find out more about our contributors to Talk Business this month
founded Outside In back in 2003, a successful innovation and training company, which helps clients worldwide challenge their preconceived ideas on insights, propositions and innovation. In the last 11 years, Outside In has consulted on B2B and B2C innovations in 27 countries. Mat has worked on countless innovation projects with market leaders such as GE, Philips, Citrix, Electrolux, Coca Cola, Nestle, Tetrapak, P&G, Belkin and Navteq. He has also worked with service providers, agencies, universities and startups, and his extensive expertise led to him being asked to train the MBA faculty at Washington University in insight and proposition development. Find out Mat’s seven deadly sins of innovation on page 54.
launched disruptive eCommerce business, Girl Meets Dress in 2009 after realising that women only wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. Girl Meets Dress provides millions of women with the ability to rent designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of the retail price, allowing them to look and feel beautiful for all of their special occasions. Anna has spent the last 10 years working in the fashion industry, from InStyle magazine, The Telegraph magazine, and Harpers Bazaar, to luxury French brand, Hermes where she worked as UK PR manager for three years, before launching Girl Meets Dress. You can follow her on Twitter @AnnaBance_GMD Join Anna on page 90 where she gives our female readership advice on finding formal dresses to suit their body shape.
specialises in leadership studies and is interested in practical measures of value-led behaviours of managers and employees. She is currently working on identifying the effects of leaders’ sacrificial behaviours on followers, as well as reviewing the implications of the shifting work paradigms for individual career trajectories and organisational purpose. Ksenia’s background is in organisational psychology and management studies. Before joining CIPD in April 2013 she spent three years as a researcher at The Work Foundation, examining the presence of good work in modern workplaces. It is important to hire for the future of your growing business, today, says Ksenia on page 104.
12 July 2014
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MAILBOX This month our readers are discussing Scottish independence and settling down with a nice glass of wine.
OCH AYE THE NO Hi, I fear that Alex Salmond is leading our friends in the north down a blind alley. No matter what study or spokesperson speaks out, he always claims it is wrong and ignores the facts. Take the example of European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso saying an independent Scotland would struggle to get into Europe. Mr Salmond told him he was wrong, which is absurd - he’s the European Commission chief, I think he’d have a fairly good idea! Alex appears to be putting his desire to be on the winning side ahead of the best interests of the Scottish people. Let’s ignore his rhetoric and keep our Kingdom United for everyone’s sake! Chris Worthington Comcore Training Initiatives For 307 years Scotland and England have stood side by side. We’ve fought together, we’ve died together, but now there are elements that are looking to break a union that has largely been successful for all involved. Whilst the economic downturn has perhaps made many question the financial benefits of the union, there is no doubting that both sides of the border are stronger together, particularly in Europe. Let’s hope that when Scotland goes to the polls the electorate can see beyond the bluster and rhetoric of all parties involved and make the right decision.
FEED A FEVER Hi Talk Business, Reading about how Rowan Gormley started his Virgin Wines empire whilst sat here drinking a nice glass of Chianti (from Virgin Wines of course!) is the perfect remedy to all of this World Cup nonsense. Cheers! Sarah Tully Colchester We can’t say we’re not hugely excited by the football in Brazil, but we definitely like your style. Perhaps accompanying it with a nice English wine would be patriotic and might spur our boys on?
of the month Utta Nutta PB @uttanutta - Thanks @ TalkBusinessMag for your “diary day” article on page 49 (in June’s issue) about my peanut butter making life. Check it out on our website - www. talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk Want to win all of these goodies
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14 July 2014
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NEWS Latest stories
NEWS Half of SMEs rely on trade beyond our borders The importance of overseas sales has been highlighted with a survey showing that exporting is now the biggest business growth area for one-ﬁfth of UK SMEs.
n independent study has revealed an average 54% of SMEs now sell products or services abroad, with those in the manufacturing sector very much leading that charge – 68% of them export. In light of the latest Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Small Business Index showing that almost twothirds of small firms expect to grow over the next 12 months, it is interesting that exporting is now the
biggest growth area for 19% of the UK’s 4.8 million SMEs. The survey of 453 SME leaders also lends support to Chancellor George Osborne’s efforts to get 100,000 more British businesses exporting by 2020. The results showed that 68% of those who currently export saw export sales increase in 2013 on the previous year. Among these companies, exports now make up at least 10% of total sales for over half of UK SMEs.
MEN AND WOMEN DIFFER OVER SICKNESS ABSENCE ATTITUDES Six out of ten women cited worry over sickness absence as the biggest reason for returning to work before they are fully recovered, compared to just 48% of men.
he study, commissioned by PMI Health Group among 600 UK employees, showed that the financial implications of sickness absence are a more pressing concern for male staff. Almost half (44%) worried their employer would not pay statutory sick pay after three days’ absence, compared to just 29% of women. The study revealed a trend towards presenteeism across the board. More than half of all employees claimed they felt under pressure to return before fully recovering. “Employees returning to work too early can lead to potential relapses and further longer-term absence problems, so sensitive management and a workplace culture that doesn’t place staff under undue pressure are essential,” said Mike Blake, Director at PMI Health Group. “Early intervention by occupational health professionals ensures employees receive expert advice and support in order to make a smoother transition back into the workplace. “If a return-to-work plan is not implemented and managed correctly, it can become a costly mistake for a business in the long run.”
16 July 2014
NEWS Latest stories
London to become leading centre for Chinese currency trading Months of talks between Chinese and British officials leads to landmark trading deal
fficials have announced that London will become the base for the first clearing bank outside Asia for Chinese currency, providing a timely boost to the UK’s attempts to become a leading centre for offshore renminbi trading. Beyond China and Hong Kong, two out of every three renminbi currency payments take place in London, according to Chancellor
George Osborne. “Connecting British firms and markets to China’s extraordinary expansion is a key part of our economic plan, because it brings jobs and investment to our country. This deal will be hugely important in underpinning the future growth of London’s RMB business,” he added. One of the “big four” banks, the China Construction Bank, has been appointed as the clearing house.
DATES FOR THE DIARY Sterling Integrity 3rd July Cheltenham Racecourse GL50 4SH 11th September The Future Inn Hotel Bristol, BS1 3EN 25th September Worcester Cricket Ground WR2 4QQ www.sterlingintegrity.co.uk Business Junction Networking Events 03 July Be At One Guildhall 48 Gresham Street London
10 July 2014 Obikà Mozzarella Bar 19-20 Poland Street, London 16 July 2014 St. Barts Brewery, 66 West Smithfield, London 24 July Barrio East, 141-143 Shoreditch High Street, London 30 July Boujis, 43 Thurloe Street London www.businessjunction.co.uk Mobile Innovations Awards 8th July Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London www.themobile innovations awards.com
Online Retail conferences 16th September Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington www.orevents.com eCommerce Expo 1-2 October Olympia, London www.ecommerceexpo.co.uk Successful Selling Expo 16th October RICOH, Coventry www.sales-expo.co.uk IP Expo 8-9 October Excel, London http://www.ipexpo.co.uk
18 July 2014
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SUCCESS Face on the cover
Dancing to the From spherical footballs to a cube-shaped drum, Dube inventor and former England footballer, Dion Dublin has certainly travelled one of the more unusual paths after retirement. We catch up with him as he tells his inspiring story of personal unwavering belief winning out in the face of cynical naysayers
20 July 2014
SUCCESS Face on the cover
beat of his own drum
oke or Pepsi? The lift or the stairs? Left or right? Referencing MIT scientist, Edward Lorenz’s work on Chaos Theory, Robert Redford in the 1990 film “Havana” famously claimed that “a butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean”. It is probably the most iconic example in film of the huge differences to the world that such small, seemingly insignificant actions can have (known as the butterfly effect) and has been repeated constantly in popular culture. The latter of those original decisions - that of taking a left or right turn was one that presented itself to former England footballer, Dion Dublin when leaving a training session with Norwich City eight years ago. That turned out to be Dion’s butterfly and the decision would, unbeknownst to him at the time, change his world forever. For some unknown reason, that day, instead of taking a left and carrying on home like he had
hundreds of times before, he took a right and went to a Jewsons hardware store. An idea had festered in his head for three years prior, lain dormant and pushed aside by the immediate necessity to focus on his career as a footballer. However, on this day it emerged from its cranial cocoon and Dion bought himself the raw materials to make the very first prototype Dube, a unique six-sided drum devoid of a traditional skin. “I don’t know what made me finally decide to do it, or why I decided to take that left turn instead of going right as usual, though I’m glad I did. I’d put it off for a while, but I went and bought six pieces of wood and some nails, and just went to work putting this idea in my head together. That’s how the Dube was born,” explained Dion. “I still have the original prototype from that day, but I have to say, it is probably the most dangerous instrument out there - there are nails sticking out all over the shop!” he laughed. Today the Dube has had countrywide success, has featured on a number of TV shows, such as Soccer AM, and has been played by many big stars of music. It has expanded from its humble beginnings as a rough wooden prototype that Dion made in his workshop, to the point where there is now a whole family of Dubes in different sizes and even Dube “shakers” (think along the lines of maracas) on the way to market too. And the jazz enthusiast has a surprisingly straightforward answer to
whether he’d rather watch people play his invention or score a goal in front of a packed football stadium. “Scoring a goal is a great feeling, but it doesn’t even compare. Even when I scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Wembley for Cambridge United in the 1990 play-off final - which was an amazing, euphoric experience - it doesn’t come close to the joy of watching someone smile and bring enjoyment to others by playing something that I’ve created. I’ve been there and done that with the football thing, and the Dube is where I am now and it is thoroughly enjoyable,” he smiled. “The biggest highlight for me so far has probably been getting to have a jam session with Stevie Wonder. To see one of my heroes playing my invention - and to be there playing along with him - was just incredible. A truly unforgettable moment! Watching the supremely talented Jon Hamilton play the Dube on stage at a JLS concert was a very humbling experience also.”
When I first told people about my idea, probably 85% of them just laughed at me and openly mocked me
SUCCESS Face on the cover
It’s just a box” they would say, but I told them in no uncertain terms “maybe it is, but it is my box
However, it wasn’t always such an easy path to travel for the former England star, who also donned the colours of Coventry City, Aston Villa, Leicester City, Norwich City, Manchester United and Celtic in a varied 20-year career. “When I first told people about my idea, probably 85% of them just laughed at me and openly mocked me. “It’s just a box” they would say, but I told them in no uncertain terms - ‘maybe it is, but it is my box’. I was determined to make it work,” explained Dion defiantly. “The lessons from my playing days really helped too as they taught me everything
you need to be a successful entrepreneur. You need to be resilient, you need to know how to overcome hurdles and you need to know how to talk to people.” Having travelled the path to success, Dion, who has been an Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust for 20 years and is currently touring the country with the Dube for Dion Dublin’s Ball of Sound Tour 2014, has some sage words of advice - along with a stark warning - for any entrepreneurs looking to follow in his footsteps. “Make sure the money is there to back it up from
the start, because it will drain everything you have. That is something I learnt from experience,” noted the Leicester-born man, adding; “I had doubts along the way too obviously - everyone does and always will - but if you believe in the product, someone else will too eventually. I had the belief all along and knew it would work. The more people you can get to believe in you and the product, the more it snowballs, and those doubts become a thing of the past. “You have to make mistakes in order to reach your goal too,” he went on to explain; “The
22 July 2014
SUCCESS Face on the cover
I had a jam session with Stevie Wonder. To see one of my heroes playing my invention was incredible!”
product is always evolving, but you need to have made the mistakes in the first place to see where you are at, what won’t work, and what the next steps should be. The worst thing you can do is to be afraid of making mistakes, as it stops ideas in their tracks and you’ll never get them off the ground. Just go for it!” “Just go for it” as Dion says, is the advice he would give to anyone with an idea and a passion to make something happen. It is also the advice he gave to Roy Hodgson’s men at the World Cup in Brazil this summer. The Establishment, a band that
Dion manages, put together a song for the tournament called “The Winner In You”, a catchy cover version of the New Radicals’ “You Only Get What You Give”, which the Dube inventor hoped was going to help football fever to sweep the country and inspire England. Despite the three lions’ early exit in Brazil, at least the beat goes on for Dion and his Dube empire. Contact: www.thedube.com You can purchase tickets for Dion Dublin’s Ball of Sound Tour at www. diondublinsballofsoundtour.co.uk
Vital statistics Name: Dion Dublin Career goals: 183 England caps: 4 Company: The Dube Year founded: 2011 Start-up capital: Six pieces of wood and nails
24 July 2014
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SUCCESS Take one company
It took Piers Ridyard around a day to create a prototype for his product idea. It took a few minutes to place it on Kickstarter. It took less than the blink of an eye for it to skyrocket past its original £11,000 target, and overnight Piers went from a tech-savvy consumer with a problem, to an international entrepreneur. The Nifty MiniDrive inventor gives us the low-down on how and why crowd-funding made all of this possible
Vital Statistics Date the company was founded? May 2012 Start-up capital? £225,000, followed by a seed-round of £150,000 Current turnover? £1 million Current net profit? £100,000 Biggest achievement? Putting together a team that is as passionate as I am.
My Life I’m watching: True Detective I’m reading: Thinking Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman I’m listening to: My most recent audio infatuation is Cash + David I’m surfing: www.Airbnb.co.uk - it truly is amazing! I'm totally hooked on it and you get to see some great cities so cheaply, it's unreal
28 July 2014
SUCCESS Take one company
Good things come in MINI PACKAGES
t age 25, Piers Rudyard had a problem. He had managed to fill his MacBook’s 128GB memory and needed more space. So he called Apple to find an answer. A solution was not forthcoming. But instead of doing what most in their midtwenties would do - namely accepting the situation and moving on - he had other plans. “The idea for Nifty MiniDrive was born out of necessity really. Apple refused to increase the memory from 128GB to 256GB, so I thought I’d have a go at doing it myself. The only other solutions were to pay for an expensive memory upgrade, carry around an external hard drive, or use an SD card that stuck out of the computer, ruining the design. So I set to work and made my first prototype at Fab Labs (a start-up centre for budding entrepreneurs) using their 3D printer. Once I knew the idea was feasible, it filled me with the confidence to push on,” said Piers. The creation that emerged - the Nifty MiniDrive - fits seamlessly into any computer or laptop’s SD card slot, without poking out of the side, which would make it susceptible to damage, and increases the memory of that device by 50%. Despite being relatively young in business terms, Piers believes that his inherent belief and drive to succeed made the difference in getting his idea to become reality. “I know a lot of people who have ideas but never have the confidence or drive to make them succeed. The ones that make it, the people that become successful, are the ones who have that unwavering belief in
what they are doing and just go for it. Of course there are always some doubts, but that’s why we put it on Kickstarter. It was a way of us having that conversation to find out if it was viable. It’s a really soft way of going into the market.” One obstacle that often holds people back is getting hold of the required funds to make their dream a reality. This is where Kickstarter projects come into their own, a process Piers heartily recommends, as an alternative to the traditional bank loan. “With a bank loan you always have that worry of having to make the payments and it is a lot of added pressure when you start and don’t have any customers yet. The great thing about Kickstarter is that it gives you a real sounding board at an early stage in the process for whether your idea is any good or not. I thought we’d only end up making a few hundred, and at the time it was simply just a solution to a problem that I had as an individual. We were hoping to get around £6,500 so we could put together a small number of the product, but we were blown away with the interest and need that was expressed. Eventually we came out with almost £235,000 in funding and thousands of orders. Without Kickstarter we may never have gotten further than being a very niche company with a small, but dedicated fan base,” explained Piers. Across the world there are people with ideas for businesses day in and day out, but only a miniscule fraction of these ever see the drawing board. So what stops people from taking that leap of faith? “Fear is the biggest factor
that cripples ideas,” argued the former law trainee. “There are generally two camps; most people are afraid someone will steal their idea. If they think it might be good enough to start a company, they are equally worried it will get stolen. If we’d worried about someone stealing our idea, then we’d now only have a large part of something very small. “Secondly, there is the fear of failure. The solution is to not worry about having your ideas stolen; go out and ask people who know the industry and market, be it friends or just picking up the phone. Talk to the people you know will give you an honest answer.” It wasn’t all plain sailing though. He readily admits that there were some pretty huge challenges placed in his path, which were somewhat of a culture shock at the time. “Not knowing a thing about manufacturing was definitely an obstacle, but logistics was probably the biggest thing. It’s something you really don’t think about when you set out; you can be quite green behind the ears. Because of the huge, surprising success we had on Kickstarter, we suddenly had to figure out a way to deliver 15,000 products to 78 different countries. That’s a huge task in itself, but of course you have to make sure that every single one of those works to the quality you would expect, reliably and consistently. It may seem boring, but it is the fine details like that that make the difference between long term success and failure.”
The ones that make it, the people that become successful, are the ones who have that unwavering belief in what they are doing.”
Kickstarter gives you an invaluable sounding board at an early stage as to whether your idea is any good or not
Contact: www.minidrive.bynifty.com talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 29
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SUCCESS Up and Coming
Show me the HONEY This month we catch up with Hiver Beers founder, Hannah Rhodes, to ask what all the buzz is about
id you know that the honey produced in every beehive tastes unique? The taste can vary depending on the flowers that the bees collect nectar from and the climate that the bees live in. This is one of the reasons that Hiver Beers founder, Hannah Rhodes, takes such a keen interest in beekeeping and making sure that only the finest ingredients go into making her honeyinfused product.
Where did the idea come from? I was lucky enough to be hands-on with beekeeping on the roof of the Tate Britain. It was there that I was taken by the idea of doing something holistic and natural. Having worked in craft beers previous to that I thought I had a chance
to combine a passion with my knowledge. Fortunately there was a gap market and so Hiver Beers was born.
What has been your proudest moment to date? In March I won a competition called “Britain’s next top supplier”. It was a long process and at first I was just happy to make it to the final 10 where I had to give a Dragon’s Den-style pitch to top Ocado’s executives. When I found out I’d won it was unbelievable! Now Hiver Beer is being stocked in Ocado for 6 months and I receive £10,000 for marketing, which is invaluable when you have a tight budget. I was surprised how much it meant to me to get the personal recognition. It kind of snowballed after that, with Selfridges picking up the product during the competition too.
How do you create a niche in the crowded drinks market? I think sticking to your guns in terms of ethos and quality. I’ve
already worked for premium brands so that has helped me to get a sense of how to produce and market them. Going the extra mile to ensure the product is quality is vital. I’m proud that the product is British - ingredients and all. A lot of other craft beers go to great lengths to be produced in Britain, but get lax when it comes to sourcing ingredients.
Going the extra mile to ensure the product is quality is vital
What has been your biggest challenge? Success looks very different at each stage of the business, but managing cash flow has been tough. People want the product right now so you have to pay for it, but they have 30 or 60 day terms, which can leave you with just pennies in the bank at times!
Where are you hoping the business will be in 5 years? I’d love to see Hiver add a couple of flavours and to be in draught form, hopefully as the national craft beer of choice.
How many times have you been stung? Actually not that many. I got stung about six times in the same spot once, but I’ve been lucky enough to avoid it for the most part. It still hasn’t put me off though! Contact: www.hiverbeers.com talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 31
BOOK reviews Building The Pyramid: The winning (formula) approach to delivering success on your organisation’s growth journey by John Stein Our verdict: About the author: John Stein is an award-winning practitioner who has ample experience of working with tens of thousands of leaders in small, medium and large organisations. His clients have achieved more than £500 million in sales using teachings highlighted by John. We say: Building The Pyramid describes the journey facing a Pharaoh and his
Network Advantage How to unlock value from your alliances and partnerships by Henrich Grieve, Tim Rowley and Andrew Shipilov Our verdict: About the authors: Henrich Grieve is a Professor of Entrepreneurship and the INSEAD Chair of Organization and Management Theory. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Tim Rowley is a Professor of Strategy and Operations at the University of Toronto and teaches competitive advantage and corporate governance. Andrew Shipilov holds a Ph.D. from Rotman School of Management, Toronto University.
We’ve got one of each book to give away FREE. Be the first to follow and tweet us, quoting the book name @TalkBusinessMag and we’ll send you a free copy!
subjects in their quest to realise the king’s vision and build the perfect pyramid. Unlike almost any other book in the business genre, the metaphor used by Stein allows the reader to immerse themselves in the fantasy of the Pharaoh, whilst drawing parallels to their own business, in a fun and interesting way. It almost introduces an element of fiction writing into a factual genre. In contrast to the many heavyweight business books, the style of the book is easy to get into and would work well as a teaching aid for managers in any organisation. Building The Pyramid is published by The Winning (Formula), priced at £9.99 and is available as a paperback. We say: For anyone looking to unlock the most from their company’s partnerships, Network Advantage is an invaluable tool. The key to much of business is not what you know, but who you know, and this book contains some useful insights and tips on how to maintain, nurture and grow your professional partnerships, and get the best advantage long-term. It even includes the tools to help you shape your alliance portfolio, giving you a framework towards building greater business partnerships. Insightful case studies also provide timely examples to help illustrate the benefits. Network Advantage is published by Jossey-Bass, priced at £24.99 and is available as both a hardcover and e-book.
Are you looking for legal services for your business? Hart Brown has a well established and respected commercial team providing legal services to an expanding and diverse range of businesses. Each piece of work is led by a partner and backed up by a talented team with a wealth of knowledge and experience. We can help if your business needs advice on: Supply of goods and services Contracts Dispute resolution Commercial agreements Commercial property Starting a business
Business structures Funding Investment Mergers Acquisitions Sale of a business Insolvency Employment
Contact us today to arrange a consultation 01483 887766
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MONEY Funding expert
I wouldn’t bank on it Our funding expert, Julian Smith, discusses the rise of online lending sources
recent study by AXA Business Insurance highlighted that half of SMEs polled were planning to invest in resources over the next year, and that 60% of those anticipated looking for external funding. However, the latest Bank of England statistics indicated that lending to SMEs reduced by £723m in Q1 of 2014. This after the Bank of England amended the Funding for Lending Scheme on 28 November 2013 to apply solely to business lending, with most banks having taken advantage of this facility to make new residential mortgage loans. The divergence in demand and supply points to a significant funding gap, which has been estimated at £4.3bn. So how can that gap be filled and who should growing companies turn to? The big high street banks have been through tremendous change structurally and operationally. They are focused on managing their lending books to larger corporates, and as such, their willingness to respond to the flexible needs of a growthoriented SME are limited. Challenger banks are a new breed of banks that are seeking
to differentiate themselves in some way from the big four household names, although some are actually owned by those big four, but with their own independent brands and identities. Aldemore Bank and Shawbrook Bank are two that are focused on the SME finance market, whereas Handelsbanken is part of a larger Swedish bank and has a distinctive decentralised branch approach. The impact of the financial crisis has not only led to the rise of the challenger banks, but also the establishment of an alternative funding landscape. Harnessing technology, this new breed of financial entrepreneurs have built crowdfunding, peer-to-peer (P2P), and other lending platforms that enable entrepreneurs to access funding via more userfriendly processes. They have disintermediated the banks by allowing individuals to choose which companies to invest in or lend to. The yield pickup over alternative deposits/ investments during this low interest rate environment is proving attractive for cash-rich investors. In May of this year, the amount of finance lent by the p2p platforms in the UK crossed
the £1.5bn threshold, up 50% since December 2013, which gives an indication of the pace at which this industry is growing. Many of them are now positioning themselves in specific niches, as the following table suggests: P2P business/commercial lending platforms Area of focus
Secured (floating charge over accounts receivable) and insured lending, min. £75k size
Property and SME loans
Unsecured lending of £5k-£1m for various uses, min. two years trading
Secured property finance
Platform Black Working capital/invoice trading ThinCats
Sponsor nominated loans, £50k-£3m
The starting point for anyone wanting to raise funding is to understand what the finances of the company look like, what the capital will be used for, and what assets exist within the company which can provide security to the lenders. Then you can set about choosing the best funding for your business. Contact: thefundingexpert.co.uk
Growing SME business,
with secured property lending
Thanks to Cambridge & Counties Bank, the Cambridge business J Green Properties is accelerating its plans for new developments and acquisitions in the city. Alistair Green, a local Cambridge man behind the business founded in 1968 by his late father Jack, says he has been impressed by the ‘can do’ attitude of the Bank. The newly arrived customer said: “Taking our banking to Cambridge & Counties has meant our plans can move forward. We have projects in the pipeline and can now proceed unencumbered thanks to the Bank.” The business is currently building six flats plus one commercial unit in a development at Thoday Street in Cambridge. “We had a long and good relationship with our previous bank but they had a change of focus and no longer wanted to lend to the sector we are in,” said Alistair. “We had a two year hunt for an alternative lending source. Then last October I saw an advert for Cambridge & Counties Bank in the Cambridge Business magazine and got in touch
with John Hall, who knew of my business from his time at another bank. “It was clear straight away that Cambridge & Counties were very keen to talk. The Bank appreciated the loan-to-values that we work with, the rental coverage we have and have been forward thinking rather than running scared from property. “It has been a thorough process – the Bank are not going to just give away money – but everything has been prompt and straightforward. John Hall has been very helpful and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending him or Cambridge & Counties Bank.” J Green Properties both builds and buys properties in Cambridge and beyond to Ely and Thetford. The portfolio, usually numbering between 35 and 40 units, is split roughly 60:40 commercial and residential. “The portfolio is mostly based in Cambridge,” said Alistair,
“because the market is so much stronger. “What we try to do is buy properties with potential and develop, using a network of local sub-contractors some of whom we have worked with for more than 30 years. “Local connections and knowledge are very important to my business. It is extremely helpful that the Bank knows
Cambridge and understands the local property market, a market totally different to almost all other places in the UK. “Cambridge’s property market has not taken much of a hit over the last six years. I had a problem with other banks appreciating that. Cambridge & Counties – and John – viewed our business with local insight. That knowledge made the difference.”
Cambridge & Counties offers secured lending for commercial owner occupiers, commercial investment mortgages and residential investment loans to professional landlords. The Bank has dedicated Business Development Managers covering the East Midlands, East Anglia, West Midlands, South West and the North.
To find out how Cambridge & Counties Bank can help you visit www.ccbank.co.uk/tb or call 0844 225 3939
Time waits for no man (or woman)
utomatic enrolment is the biggest single change to pensions in decades, and over the coming years it will affect businesses of all shapes and sizes across the country. Its introduction presents accountants and payroll bureaus with a large task, but you can avoid trouble if you plan ahead.
Make sure you are as prepared as possible In the 2014/2015 financial year alone, around 32,000 businesses will have their staging dates for automatic enrolment, meaning the number of organisations looking for advice and support in achieving legal compliance will rapidly increase. With potential fines of up to £10,000 per day for non-compliance, taking a few steps yourself to make sure your business is prepared makes sense.
Don’t try to go it completely alone Automatic enrolment is complex, so it is expected that businesses will have questions about the best ways for implementation. Recently, we polled the opinions of 186 accountancy firms and payroll bureaus on the subject.
When asked to describe their level of involvement, 37% of respondents said they would be carrying out the required duties on behalf of their clients, with a further 21% saying they would provide technical advice. Look to seek out available information online, but getting help from accountancy firms is advisable - they are the experts after all! IRIS can help by offering a free auto enrolment health check.
Cut through the Complexity Confusion reigns about which individual within a given business should be made responsible for auto enrolment. The results of a more recent survey that we conducted spell this out. The survey asked nearly 100 enterprises that are staging imminently; “Who is primarily responsible within your organisation?” While 39% of respondents answered that payroll would hold primary responsibility, a significant majority felt that auto enrolment would involve collaboration between payroll and other departments, including HR and finance. 23% believed that finance alone should be responsible, and 10% answered HR. Ensure that accountancy
With heavy fines for non-compliance, Mark Paraskeva, CEO, SME division of IRIS Software, provides us with his top tips to avoid pension auto-enrolment disaster
practices cut through the complexity and provide a clear path forward. Know exactly who is responsible for what.
Ensure it happens in payroll In our view, to be effective, automatic enrolment has to be done in payroll, as the department has access to employees’ PAYE information, and the payroll calculations must be completed before assessment can take place. If you already have a payroll service provided, ensuring you have educated yourself and your team on automatic enrolment and the processes involved is still important. Having solutions in place, which will enable you to handle certain duties yourself, such as employee assessments and key communications, will give you a great advantage and save you time and money.
Fines of up to £10,000 per day for noncompliance are not to be taken lightly
MONEY Royalty vs equity
Royalty vs equity
Editor Luke Garner provides a quick run-down of the two investor funding options so you can decide which is right for your business.
t some point in the lifespan of your business it is likely that an additional input of significant funds will be needed, whether it is to cover low cash-flow, fulfil an influx of orders, open new premises or any number of other things. With many banks still not lending following the downturn in 2008, and the pressing restraint of having to make repayments from day one, it is understandable that many entrepreneurs and SMEs look for alternative sources of funding. So, we’ve taken a look at two of the more popular options - Angel investing via equity and royalty deals - to help you decide which is right for you.
So which is right for your business? Well, if you’re in dire need of cash right now and feel as though you’ll never take the next step without it, but are uncertain as to the timeline of a return on investment, then a royalty deal may serve you well. It is far better to be paying a royalty on something very successful forever than to have a small company that misses out on taking that big leap. For a company with only a small amount of sales at present this may not be too much of a hindrance as you’ll only begin to pay back towards the investment as you succeed - a win-win for both investor and business owner! However, if you feel that the company is on the verge of
big things and don’t want to handcuff yourself in the future, or risk giving away too much money in the long-run, a percentage equity deal makes sense. This way you have a very clear idea of what you’re getting and exactly what you’re giving up, allowing greater peace of mind and clarity. You can draw up a timeline for repayment on the investment ( mostly for the investors benefit), and set a plan in place to meet this, whilst still ensuring success. Both deals present a positive that whoever invests will have a ingrained interest in seeing your business succeed too, but both carry some risk too. If in doubt, try asking around to see if anyone else has been there and done that before.
40 July 2014
MONEY Royalty vs equity
EQUITY Typically, equity deals involve a lump cash sum being paid to the business owner in return for a percentage stake in their business and, eventually, a large return on their initial input.
It is clear what the investment is from the outset (transparency) and a good way to get a large chunk of change upfront.
V WHAT IS IT?
An investor is likely to bring experience, ideas and enthusiasm to your business as they now have a vested interest in its success.
Return times on investment can provide a daunting deadline, and often investors expect a greater return than debt providers would.
Allows your company to grow without repayment obligations eating away at cash-flow.
The investor usually does not have a say in day-to-day running of the company without equity, leaving you in control of the vision.
No pressing immediate or regular obligations compared to the payment schedule of a loan.
Issues with having to balance the needs of the business with the wishes of the investor, and possible disagreements in terms of direction and ideas.
Usually this involves an investor paying a lump sum, and then instead of you returning that investment (plus interest) after an agreed period, they accrue a return by taking a cut of every sale you make.
You only pay back significant proportions of the investment if you succeed. If your business doesn’t ever manage to take that next step, there is no obligation to pay back that huge lump sum, and therefore a lower risk.
You can give a clearer valuation of the company and what a percentage stake is worth (e.g. a 10% stake at £100,000 values your company at £1 million).
There is the possibility of losing majority control of your business.
You are only making repayments when money comes into the company.
Generally royalty deals are in perpetuity (forever), meaning you often pay back more than you initially wanted to gain in the first place. (e.g. If you want £10,000, sell your product at £20 and the investor takes a £2 royalty each time, by 10,000 sales you’d have paid back £20,000.) Often the investor will have little input in the business, meaning you miss out on extra experience and insight.
MONEY SImplify the Law
STEP FOUR: DELIVERING ON THE DEAL
Six ways to increase your profit, legally Simon Hetherington leads the legal author team for simplifythelaw.co.uk, a company that helps SMEs solve legal issues without lawyers. Here he explains step four of six - the basic things you need to remember when planning for delivery on contracts HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DELIVER ON THE DEAL? You’ve got your deal. Now you need to make sure that you hold up your side of the bargain. And of course you want to avoid costly disputes, which could disrupt your business, damage your reputation, and cause you problems where it really counts: on the bottom line. So to avoid issues, follow these straightforward guidelines.
KEEP TALKING AND STAY INFORMED The first thing to remember? Don’t put the contract straight into the filing cabinet! Your contract is a live document. Everyone who will be involved needs to be fully aware of the terms, and to understand the responsibilities that everyone
The first thing to remember? Don’t put the contract straight into the filing cabinet!”
has. Although team members have probably been involved in pre-contract discussions, it’s important that everyone understands that the contract is the base-line document. It’s also a good idea for the team to meet when the contract is settled, and regularly thereafter, to review progress and discuss any issues. No matter how well things seem to be going, reviews are invaluable. When things are on track, a positive message to the team promotes and maintains effective teamwork. Because the unexpected does happen, it’s much better to air problems early on. Keeping lines of communication open helps get problems fixed at the right time. If things go wrong (or look like they might), you should have a dispute resolution plan in place.
TALKING TO YOUR CUSTOMER Another excellent practice is to have regular reviews with the other parties. There are many ways to sustain a good dialogue, including: • Keeping to administrative deadlines – e.g. submitting paperwork and holding periodic reviews. • Asking for feedback and explaining how you are going to act on it. • Dealing with complaints promptly – negative issues can be turned into positive experiences with good customer service. • Keeping your clients informed of changes that may affect them – such as your personnel changes.
42 July 2014
MONEY Simplify the Law
draft your own software development agreement by using the online tool at Simplify the Law. You should also consider whether it would be prudent to place the software in escrow. Doing so offers licensee protection if you depend on the operation of that software and the owner becomes insolvent or ceases to maintain the software.
Software and IT Your ability to deliver on a deal may well depend on how well your IT works. In the early days of your business you can rely on off-the-peg packages, which are well supported by the owners and offer flexibility. Niche businesses, or those growing larger, may need bespoke software. You will need software development agreements in place with the creator of the new program and/or the original software. As you’d expect, these are highly technical agreements, containing detailed provisions about delivery, testing and milestones. The requirements of software development are prone to being changed as they go along, so the agreement needs to contain clear change control procedures. You can
Before the detail of a deal is finalised, parties will often sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so they can share sensitive information, though this does not always happen. Perhaps it’s a contract not requiring the exchange of information early on, or a simple agreement for the supply of services. But obligations of confidentiality may still arise. (You can draft NDAs for free at simplifythelaw.co.uk). Make sure you comply strictly with the terms of the NDA; and remember - there may be circumstances that imply confidence, even if it’s not in the contract. Employees are usually bound by their employment contracts not to disclose commercially sensitive information about your business. You should explain to them that any information about the other party falls within the same scope. If your deal allows for you to sub-contract any part of the work, make sure sub-contractors are subject to the same confidentiality arrangements.
Data protection A well as commerciallysensitive information, you have legal obligations governing the way you handle personal data – whether it’s about people in your business or another’s.
DELIVER ON THE DEAL To make sure you can deliver, ask yourself: 1 Have we got the right people, equipment and systems? 2 Are there regular team meetings scheduled to review progress? 3 Have we got regular check-ins scheduled with the client? 4 Does the team know individual responsibilities? 5 Have we got the right software? 6 Are there plans to handle feedback and complaints? 7 Is everyone aware of the confidentiality level of the deal? 8 Do we have the right system for handling personal data? 9 Have we reviewed working practices to ensure we deliver? 10 Are our sub-contractors up to the job? If you know the answer to these questions, and it’s ‘yes’ in each case, then you’re thinking about the deal in the right way.
We mentioned last time that when dealing with consumers, you have to be very careful how you use their personal data. The same is true if you’re dealing business-to-business if your contract brings you into contact with the details of the other party’s staff or customers. Assuming that you are permitted to see and use such data, remember: • You can only do so for as long as you need it for the purpose for which you acquired it; • You cannot transfer that data outside the EU - unless the country concerned has an adequate level of data protection. Visit www.simplifythelaw. co.uk to solve more legal issues for yourself, draft essential documents, and avoid the expense of lawyers’ fees. Next month we will look at how to handle disputes if they arise, and learning from your mistakes.
DO WITHOUT LAWYERS
For free legal guidance and to draft your own documents, for free, visit
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MONEY Start-Up Loans
A day in the life This month, our Start-up loan recipient, Eddie Holmes reveals a typical day running his subsidised business workspace charity, LaunchPad Labs.
I arrive at our ‘Pad’. Luckily the weather’s been good so I didn’t get soaked through on the bike ride in. First job is to make sure everything’s clean and tidy, ready to open the doors at 8am. I have a stash of bananas in our reception desk which I eat as I go through the morning emails. This is the point where my task list, which I write the night before, pretty much doubles! I respond to the necessary emails before deciding that it’s much more fun talking to our members about the progress they’ve made on their projects, so the rest of the tasks go on the back burner.
a bit early today so I can go to a meeting at the Ministry of Justice to discuss us hosting a ‘legal hackathon’ in the near future (I’ve dressed smarter than usual for the occasion – I hope it’s appreciated). I use the time on the tube for last minute preparations.
I get back to LaunchPad and sit down for a strategy chat. It doesn’t take long as we plan the bulk of the week on Monday, and just fit in any additional tasks as and when they arise. At the moment we want to focus on increasing our on-demand mentor roster, so we discuss the best Just got off the phone avenues to attract experienced entrepreneurs who could fill with Hackney MP, Meg Hillier, who wanted to see how the group the gaps in sector-specific of sixth form college students got knowledge we have identified. on at our launch party last Friday. Deskbeers have just It’s great to have the support of issued a prize on Twitter of a such an influential person from free case of their premium craft the area, especially as she’s just beers, for the first person who told me that she mentioned us brings them two burritos to in Parliament! Old Street station. Not one to Our communications pass up a challenge, I rush out to find some. Five minutes later manager has come into work
In profile Entrepreneur: Eddie Holmes Business: LaunchPad Labs Web: www.launchpadlabs.co.uk Concept: a charity providing free and subsidised workspaces for pre-start and early stage businesses, on-demand mentoring and access to finance Start-up loan: £10,000 I make it to their pop-up stall, burritos in hand - WE WON!
Time for another brainstorming session. This time we’re throwing around ideas for possible fundraising events. We have a lot to live up to since our ‘finance guru’ completed the torturous UTO Swimrun in Sweden recently. I suggest bungee jumping; there were no takers.
Closing time and it’s time to wind down from the day by having a beer with our members. This is a great time to get some feedback on how they feel about our space, and if there’s anything we could do to improve it. Contact: www.startuploans.co.uk
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MONEY Record keeping
Are you off the record?
Record-keeping helps with your legal requirements and makes life a lot easier, says finance expert Adam Aiken.
I Simply handing a box full of random receipts to your accountant results in a lot of work – work that you’ll have to pay for
f you’re starting a new venture, or even just at the stage of thinking about it, keeping your paperwork and records in order is a priority. A tidy desk leads to a tidy mind, and good recordkeeping can help with your legal responsibilities, your tax affairs, and the efficiency of your day-to-day operations. It’s important to get into the habit right from the start. Indeed, it’s often during the early days of a venture, when you might be doing several things at once, that record-keeping is at its most important. And stay up to date. If you get a backlog of records, things can quickly get out of hand. Simon Wood, a technical adviser at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, says one of the most important reasons for record-keeping is tax. “Paying the correct amount of tax is paramount for any business,” he explained; “If a business pays too much, it’s a
waste of valuable resources and working capital. If a business pays too little, it’s leaving itself open to further and unexpected tax liabilities in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs inquiry.” Meanwhile, it is a legal requirement that correct records are kept for VAT purposes. “As well as keeping accurate records of VAT charged to customers, businesses cannot claim input VAT on expenditure incurred unless they have supporting invoices to back up any input tax claimed,” said Mr Wood. Away from the legal obligations, though, there are also the day-to-day practicalities of running a business. Having good records will enable you to manage your cashflow and know exactly what you are owed, how much is owed to you, and how much you owe your suppliers. “Sound cashflow management is critical for any business, particularly in the early stages of its life-cycle,” Simon said; “Many businesses
fail due to poor cashflow management and good recordkeeping may help avert a crisis before it is too late.” Record keeping can also help a fledgling business access finance, and on better terms. A good business plan is often the clincher for a lender weighing up whether or not to offer finance. It will be more likely to lend if the business has full and up-to-date accounting records. And then there are the cost implications. Simply handing over a cardboard box full of random receipts is going to result in a lot of work for your accountant – work that you will have to pay for. If a business has good business records, this will lead to reduced costs - it will be much easier for your accountant to prepare the statutory accounts and tax returns from a well ordered set of records rather than an incomplete set of records. So keeping a good set of records is a no-brainer – but make sure you get into the habit from day one!
STRATEGY Adam Caplan
chapter 3: Sales developed the whole world Sales coach, Adam Caplan reveals a snippet of his book, Born To Sell â€“ The Natural Sales Method
eople have been selling for a very long time. In terms of mankindâ€™s history though, itâ€™s been around for less than a fifth of our 200,000-year existence as a species. For nearly all of that we were primarily hunter gatherers. Sedentary urbanisation started in Levant (the eastern Mediterranean area that ran from Egypt to Turkey, with the main concentration in modern Israel) as people started to put down roots. However, around 7 thousand years ago something strange started happening to people. It was the first time that people left their farms, homesteads, and tribes to join together and live in the first cities. One of the very earliest was called Uruk. Based in southern Iraq, an unprecedented sixty thousand people coalesced in Mesopotamia. It must have been something, almost as if it had sprung up out of nowhere. Never before had people collected in a single area in such density. The city lasted 500 years. Many large public buildings, temples and others were built - some of which still stand today. Restless building and rebuilding that expressed their new social structures abounded. Why did this city appear and grow so fast? Not for the heady ideals of gods or idealistic concepts, but as a direct result of trade in food and other things. Agriculture sped up as intensive farming was possible due to the Euphrates being managed in a different manner, so that crops could be harvested in larger quantities. This farming led to excess food being created, which was then bartered for other goods that non-farmers might be creating. Thus the traders would start to meet somewhere and, soon enough, a group would all meet on a certain day so that they could trade together. Light industrial units appeared as traders offered the convenience of ready-cooked food to the market people. Bevel-rimmed bowls were invented so workers be given food in return for their work.
STRATEGY Adam Caplan
Now you could get paid for work, but how could you keep track of wages? The solution was to invent writing! Once writing was invented it was only a matter of time until someone came up with the idea of money. All of a sudden, industry and trade could flourish. Uruk had walls to protect the citizens, and professional soldiers to police them. This allowed specialists to thrive within the city, better at their task than others. In the previously small groups, everyone had to be able to do every task; hunt, skin, farm, mend tools, etc. Within the larger group, people could concentrate on becoming experts in a single task. There was no need for everyone to have the same skill-set, and thus the first craftsmen developed. New cities were born which became extremely wealthy, often due to the luck of local geography and resources. Once cities had wealth, they needed a military to protect it. With a military they could invade other cities. Empires were born. Empires started trading with each other and, as bronze became the main product, it became important to trade. Copper and tin are not usually found together, so a nation that had tin would need copper and vice-versa. Driven by the needs of trade, mankind developed and pushed the boundaries of technology to improve goods, make jewels and of course, improved weapons to defend the wealth - or to conquer and take the wealth of others! So trade carried the concepts of civilized behaviour all over the ancient world and helped forge the modern world. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the Radhanite traders were the only source of communication between east and west. Their continual trade routes helped maintain ties between civilisations, but with the collapse of the Silk Road as a result of war in China, the Radhanites were unable to continue their trade. Once trade routes stopped, many spices that were regularly seen on European tables disappeared for centuries. Trading is transferring the ownership of goods from one person or entity to another, by getting a product or service in exchange from the buyer. There’s that word - “Buyer”. In modern terms, if there’s a buyer, there must be a seller. Trading is therefore, selling. It always was. Selling has been the force behind developing the world we live in. As a salesperson, it’s important to remember that what you do is ancient, venerable and ultimately responsible for our civilized world. It’s no coincidence that when societies crumble, the first thing that collapses is trade and commerce. It’s also no coincidence that societies that are fundamentally militaristic or are religiously extremist, have significantly less trade with the rest of the world. In summary, we salespeople have been a fundamental benefit to the world!
Adam Caplan runs Ups Training, a sales training and assessment business that specialises in training, assessing and developing salespeople. SPONSORED BY
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STRATEGY Seven deadly sins
54 July 2014
STRATEGY Seven deadly sins
Beware the 7 DEADLY SINS of innovation Innovations consultant for Outside In, Mat Shore, tackles the cardinal sins of product development.
nnovation is a concept that means different things to different people. Everyone loves the idea of being innovative and creating something revolutionary, but how many companies actually know how to develop a concept for the mass market? All too often organisations commit one or more of the deadly sins of innovation, which hobbles the product’s chances of success. So what are they, and how can we avoid them?
Pushing not pulling
There’s often tension between marketing and product development. When developers make a product that is unfit for purpose, marketers have to try and sell something that customers don’t want or need. Product developers meanwhile, argue that marketers aren’t telling them what people actually need. To use a 1940s analogy that is still relevant today: nobody ever needed a drill, they only needed a hole. Now, if you
Do you think your significant other wants to know that her perfume contains whale vomit?
don’t understand the difference between the two, you’ve missed the point of innovation. If you think the customer needs a drill, you will ask the question “How can we improve our existing product?”. While you may get recommendations, you will make a drill no matter what. Instead of asking about the drill, imagine you ask them about the hole and why they need it in the first place. Seeking to understand the desired outcome (customer pull) is more important than pushing the product we think they should have. Always think about the customer, and make sure you ask the right questions first.
slide. They say it will eliminate up to 99.9% of bacteria on your screen. What is missing here is understanding of customer need. To what degree are dirty screens an issue? On the other hand, YotaPhone has created a smartphone with a second e-ink screen on the back that can keep displaying critical phone numbers or maps indefinitely, even when the phone battery runs out. In innovation, manufacturers have to ask two questions: “Who is going to buy this?” and “What is it being used for?”. If the answer to either of these is unclear, go back to the drawing board.
Trapped by myths Not understanding Sin and beliefs needs
Ultimately, insight without motivation is just observation. What most people in product development fail to do is look behind the observable customer activity to what is driving the customer’s behaviour. NueVue’s anti-microbial protected phone case claims to clean the screen with every
Some people confuse customer insights with accepted customer beliefs; something that customers accept as true. These preconceptions may have been learnt, be cultural, or be based on prior product performance that can change over time. For example, the general consensus in the
STRATEGY Seven deadly sins
Is this any less innovative because the insight is great but the technology is not complicated?”
shaving sector is, the more blades on a razor, the more effective it is. Manufacturers continue to put more blades on the razor head because they perceive this to be what the customer wants. They perpetuate this belief to the point it becomes selffulfilling, and although they want to get out of the hole, the competition continues to feed the consumer belief. Are five blades better than four? Why not try six, or seven? That is why understanding customers and what drives their habits is vital, even if it’s not logical to you. The mistake is to base decisions on your own opinion as this won’t always reflect the overall customer beliefs.
BELIEVING YOU CAN CREATE NEEDS
Some manufacturers believe the customer doesn’t know what they need, so they create a completely new need that never existed before, despite customer insights. One manufacturer conducted research into whether cats can taste. Studies found that they do not differentiate by taste, but rather by texture. So the manufacturer created dried cat food with no flavour. Did this interest the customer? No. That’s because it is not the cat buying the food; the owner is, and if they think their cat can taste, they like to have flavours that look as good as they taste. Often these requirements are based on human needs and aspirations. Humans are illogical and contradictory, that’s what
makes marketing so interesting. Creating products based around facts does not always lead to successful innovation.
5 OVER COMPLICATION
Simple innovations can be beautifully elegant. In South Korea, S-Oil put balloons in car parking spaces so when you drive into it, the balloon disappears under the car and when you leave, it rises up, letting others know the space is free, thereby saving thousands of wasted hours and millions of litres of wasted fuel. Is this concept any less innovative because the insight is great but the technology is not complicated?
6 CUSTOMER IS NAIVE
The BIC Cristal pen made for women claims to be designed for smaller hands and can write twice as much as a normal BIC. You only have to look at the feedback on Amazon to realise that the customer recognises the absurdity of the product, which in turn damages the reputation of the brand. They see it as lacking insight and patronising. Never assume the customer is a fool, because they are wise to poor innovation and will turn to forums and social media to inform others about the flawed concept.
7 FUNCTION NOT EMOTION
Remember, the customer doesn’t always want to know how a product is
made if it reflects poorly on the brand identity. In Scandinavia, people search beaches for rocks called ambergris, which the whale has regurgitated. Some people pay millions of dollars for it because ambergris is a key component in fine fragrances. Do you think your significant other wants to know that her perfume contains whale vomit when you present it on Valentine’s Day? Remember, it’s important to sell the emotion, not the function. Mat Shore is a professional innovations speaker and founder of Outside In, a consulting and training company specialising in creating competitive insights and value propositions. Contact: www.outsideincompany.com SPONSORED BY
56 July 2014
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STRATEGY Protecting a patent
Evasion of the IDEA SNATCHERS One of the scariest times for any inventor or entrepreneur can be that time between having an idea and taking it to market, mainly due to the worry of intellectual theft. Nick Wallin, patent attorney at Withers and Rogers, tells you how to avoid falling foul of the idea snatchers. PROTECTING YOUR BIG IDEA With increased global competition and accessibility of information over the internet, it is more important than ever that businesses protect their intellectual property (IP) to prevent it from being used by competitors. Patents can be obtained to protect the features and processes that make their products unique for a period of up to 20 years. Despite the commercial opportunity this presents, many companies donâ€™t bother to seek patent or trade mark protection at all, and as a result, fail to maximise the value of the investment they make in developing new products or
services. Here are some of most common mistakes companies make regarding IP protection.
EARLY DISCLOSURE It is important that a patent is applied for before any information regarding the product becomes public knowledge. Although entrepreneurs and corporations are often tempted to begin selling and advertising their brilliant new product, doing so prior to obtaining a patent can have serious consequences. Disclosing information to outside parties can cause a patent application to be rejected, or even invalidate an existing patent, if evidence of this is uncovered afterwards.
If a business wishes to consult an external party on issues regarding their product before a patent has been applied for, they must ensure that there is a robust confidentiality agreement in place. Where possible, talks should be delayed until a patent application has been filed.
SEEK EXPERT ADVICE The strength of a patent application depends upon the quality of the legal document itself. The most unique and innovative products can fail to gain approval if the application is poorly written. Even if a patent is granted, the terms of the granted patent may be so limited that competitors can
It is rarely necessary to go to court. Informing an infringer of your registered rights is often a sufficient deterrent
STRATEGY Protecting a patent
In the US, entrepreneurs receive a one year ‘grace period’ in which they can share information about their product before patent application
easily design around it. The application must clearly describe the product, how it works, how it is produced, and why it is unlike anything else currently on the market. Most importantly however, the claims of the patent must define only the essential features of the invention. Furthermore, it must be drafted with an eye on being able to prove infringement if necessary later on. In almost all cases, it is a good idea to seek counsel from a specialist patent attorney, who has a relevant background in science or engineering, in addition to understanding the patent system.
Consider international law Many businesses buy and sell goods in an international marketplace, and as a result, are likely to have international competitors. Such businesses should consider that IP laws are not the same in every country, and take action accordingly. In Europe (including the UK), early disclosure rules are strict; but in the US, entrepreneurs receive a one year ‘grace period’ in which they can share information about their product before patent application. However, disclosing information via the internet (where it is accessible to UK users), could prevent a US-based business from getting patent protection in the UK later on.
In addition, having patent protection in one country does not prevent your product from being copied and sold in another country. For this reason, it is best for businesses to map out their potential expansion plans from the outset, and work to gain patents in those countries of interest so that they are not pushed out of these markets by competitors.
Don’t be put off by the costs The commercial benefits of patents largely outweigh the costs of obtaining them. For instance, a patented invention can be sold in order to generate a return on the company’s investment. Alternatively, the invention can be licensed to a third party, backed by a licensing agreement. Of course, many companies still choose to use the patent to manufacture and sell the product themselves. In cases of infringement, it is rarely necessary to go to court. Informing an infringer of your registered rights is often a sufficient deterrent, and where necessary, it is usually possible for the parties involved to reach a commercial settlement. To protect against any litigation costs, IP insurance policies are also available, so businesses shouldn’t be put off by fictional tales of the cost of IP enforcement.
Take a multi-layered approach Whilst patenting is key in protecting a new technology, it may be worth investing in a multi-layered approach to intellectual property protection. For example, trademarks can offer a badge of origin for a brand which is valid indefinitely, provided renewal fees are paid every 10 years. A recognised trademark can enhance business reputation and create market protection - even without a patent. Design rights are also worth considering, especially if a product has innovative packaging or a distinctive logo. Patents provide a vital degree of legal protection to businesses and entrepreneurs wishing to market a novel product or service. Other considerations, such as preventing early disclosure, investigating international IP rights, and possibly integrating patents with trademarks or design rights, can further maximise potential. Laying out a clear strategy, as well as seeking specialist advice can ensure that a business is competitive and well placed to capitalise on an invention’s market opportunity. Contact: Andrew Darby - 020 7940 3600 or email@example.com SPONSORED BY
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STRATEGY Daydream believer
Daydream BELIEVER Every business owner needs to daydream, says Andrew Jenkins, author of You Are More Than You Think
he late Walt Disney knew all about the importance of daydreaming. He attributed his phenomenal run of film release successes to his creative threestep process, later termed “The Disney Strategy”. Daydreaming is an important part of the process of strategic planning and envisioning your company’s future direction. Daydreaming has no boundaries, walls or barriers – anything becomes possible. By spending time daydreaming, you’ll get insights into what’s really going on, where you want to be, and how you will get there. Andrew has helped many businesses to daydream, plan ahead and enrich their thinking by using a variant of Walt Disney’s approach. Here’s how it works:
DAYDREAM STAGE This is where the team collectively brainstorms new ideas and explores potential goals and intentions. No idea is rejected, anything goes and above all, there is no criticism. Ask: what is wanted, why, to what benefit, how will it be recognised, and when can it be expected?
REALIST STAGE Questions here focus on: what are the main chunks of activity? What evidence is needed to know it has worked? How will risk be mitigated and how will it be tested?
CRITIC STAGE This is where constructive critique, challenge and critical thinking are allowed. Questions considered here include: what objections might there be? What could stop the plan? What’s the intent behind any critique? Finally, it is important to revisit the daydream stage to determine if it still stacks up, or does it need rejecting and a new daydream considering? This is a powerful process that engages both parts of our brain at different times. Imagine for a moment that we each have a mental slider in our heads that enables us to use different modes of thinking. At one end of the slider we are able to relax our mind and engage our creative thinking parts. At the other end of the slider we engage the critical thinking part, and this takes mental effort.
Critical thinking is important. However, it doesn’t work well when people become leaders and business owners. This is because the focus of thinking subtly shifts when a leader’s role broadens from working ‘in’ the business, to a role that encompasses working ‘on’ the business, and spending time contemplating its future. As leaders and business owners, it is vital that you give yourself permission to daydream and envision the future. To do this you have to learn to push the mental slider and develop your creative and intuitive side. So does this mean that you no longer need to push your mental slider back to using your critical thinking? Certainly not. Dayto-day operational decisions still need your experience and critical brain. However, your success will come more easily if you deliberately make time for daydreaming too. The mark of a successful leader is one who knows how to shift easily between modes of thinking. The more adept you become at moving your mental slider, the more your business will benefit.
The more adept you become at moving your mental slider, the more your business will benefit
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MARKETING Email etiquette
The science of selling yourself short Paul Ford, VP of product & marketing at SendGrid, explains the science behind writing the perfect short email subject line
e’ve all had emails land in our inboxes, taken one look at the subject line, and then promptly trashed it without a second thought. For many small businesses, just trying to get an email opened is an eternal struggle, and email subject lines are your first chance to make a good impression. If you don’t use the right words, you’ll end up selling yourself short, no matter how good the content of the email. While engaging customers with the right words matters, the number of words is just as important, particularly as we shift to opening more email on mobile devices. Companies looking to boost engagement rates should have brevity and relevance at the forefront of their minds when composing email subject lines. Here are five tips on how to entice customers to engage with offers, click-through and convert.
LESS IS MORE A recent study by Retention Science cracked the subject line code by analysing 260 million delivered emails. According to
the study, subject lines with between six and ten words yielded the highest open rates at 21%. Five or fewer words yielded an open rate of 16%,while 11 to 15 words had open rates of 14%. When it comes to subject line relevancy, less is more. Brevity is important because customers are increasingly using mobile devices to open email – 41% of all email is now opened on mobile devices meaning less of the subject line is often displayed on the device’s smaller screens.
MAKE IT PERSONAL Taking a personalised approach in the subject line will help engage customers. Of the email campaigns studied by Retention Science, those which contained the recipient’s first name in the subject line delivered a 2.6% increase in open rates. They found that including a user’s name is a safe practice, but it’s worth trying to up your game with details like reservation numbers, past purchases, or location information, which will make your reader feel as if the message was customised for them.
ASK QUESTIONS Asking a question in the email subject line can pique curiosity, especially if your question promises the solution to a particular problem. For example, recruitment companies often ask questions such as, “Does your CV make you look old?”
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT THE OFFER IS Be clear about what the email contains, and don’t go for the ‘bait and switch’ option, which will not earn your company any points with customers. Make sure the subject line directly correlates to the content of the email.
Subject lines with between six and ten words yielded the highest open rates at 21%
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MARKETING The sales doctor
The sales DOCTOR Sales doctor, Tony Morris gives advice on how to raise your prices without alienating your clients
Dear Sales Doctor, Since I started a year ago, I have been selling my product at low margins to get it out into the marketplace. Now I feel that the product is worth more. How do I raise prices without upsetting regular customers and losing their business?
t’s always a challenge when you enter the marketplace with low margins to generate business. There are a couple of suggestions I can recommend though, as I have had a few clients with this exact challenge. I am confident in the one year you have been trading, you will have received testimonials about how great the product is and - most importantly - the benefits your clients have gained as a result of it. Use these testimonials in all correspondence with any new customers. It will instil confidence in them and they will be more than happy to pay the price you feel your product is now worth. Now, in order to raise your prices with your existing client base and avoid upsetting them, they will expect something extra in return, irrespective of if you feel your product is worth more now than a year ago. What you need to think about is what you can give
away as extra value, which is perceived as high value to your existing clients, yet costs you very little? For example; as the owner of a sales training company, I have raised my prices and in return have provided Skype calls with the sales managers to help them with any ongoing challenges they had with the sales team that I trained. I have delivered a 30-minute webinar for a couple of months to refresh the team and to give them the opportunity to ask me any sales questions. The only cost here is my time and it allows me to charge my clients what I feel my training is worth, not what I charged eight years ago when I went to market. As for existing clients whom you have a great relationship with, I would suggest having a conversation with them faceto-face if possible. Honesty is the best policy - I’m sure if you explain the situation, that you cannot afford to charge
Tony Morris is the director of Sales Doctor, a sales training company based in Covent Garden, London. His new book, based on the Sales Doctor series, called “Dear Sales Doctor - the 66 top answers to the sales questions you’re afraid to ask”, is available now from www.wedosaletraining.com.
what you did when you entered the market, they will respect you for that. Unfortunately it’s inevitable that you will lose some clients along the way. However, as you grow and gain new clients, it will allow you to cherrypick who you want to work with, rather than who you need to work with.
NEED A DIAGNOSIS? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ’FAO the sales doctor’: editor@talk businessmagazine.co.uk
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MARKETING Kimberly Davis
Turn the inbox into big buck$ Kimberly Davis, founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, discusses the nuances of online marketing mail-outs
’m going to confess something. I hate technology. I hate learning all the tiny details of how to make something work, knowing it will only become obsolete in a year or two, and I know many of you feel the same way. Technology can be boring, tedious, and even intimidating to many. Yet, there is no denying the vital role it plays in keeping business alive. Apple knew this when they launched their first home computer. All you had to do was plug in the computer and it would work, with no programming necessary. Technophobes like me went flocking to buy a Mac and we never turned back. It’s no wonder that Apple now has more than twice as much cash as the US Government, according to numbers released by the US Trust. Every day technology is finding ways to make our lives easier, especially in the area of marketing. It was only four years ago that you were at the mercy of graphic designers and developers to build a website, often at astronomical prices. Now you can easily build basic websites yourself using a set template, for a fraction of the price. Perhaps the most important advancements though have been made in helping businesses automate their processes, especially when sending mass emails (we call them e-shots).
Gone are the days of keeping your list of contacts in an Excel spreadsheet and emailing them individually. Now you can build your database or send emails to everyone easily with just a few clicks of a button, using programmes such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft and more. Even better, you can set up an auto-responder sequence that automatically sends additional emails, days, weeks, or even months later. Some people argue that this takes the human touch out of your marketing, but I disagree. If you write the email and all that changes is the name of the person that it’s addressed to, what does it matter if you send it out to each person individually or all at once? Believe me there are better things to do with your time than copying and pasting. A word of warning though; please be aware that, because systems like Mailchimp are free, there are a lot of spammers out there using it to send out junk. As a result, many systems block any email that comes in from these servers. This means that only a small fraction of your emails may get through. If you want your emails to reach everyone on your database, you’re going to need to invest in a more robust system
like Infusionsoft (feel free to contact us - we can introduce you and get you a discount). There’s no denying it, technology is here to stay, so we need to embrace it. The good news is it has never been easier. Start with these automated systems and watch how much more successful you’ll become overnight.
Some argue this takes the human touch out of marketing but there are better things to do with your time than copying and pasting
Kimberly Davis is the founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, an author, and speaker. Contact: info@sarsaparillamarketing. com or 020 7147 9960
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MARKETING How not to do customer service
The interaction dissatisfaction Editor Luke Garner dissects the biggest mistakes you can make as a company when it comes to interacting with customers “
he customer is king”. You’ll hear that mantra espoused in a plethora of marketing books and by heads of business across the world. Unfortunately, not everybody got the memo. From rude anonymity to suicidal escalation, from the tiny SME to the giant behemoths of industry, everybody has put their foot in it at some point. Here are our tips to keep the egg firmly off your face.
BE CAREFUL WHICH COAT TAILS YOU CLING TO Being topical is a great way to
get interest in your brand. A tweet about how your prices have been axed, just like the latest star from The Apprentice is a great way to muscle in on a topic and gain attention for your brand. Tweeting “How you can #SupportJapan. For every retweet we will donate $1 to Japan quake victims up to $100k”, like search engine Bing did in 2011 following the earthquake in Japan, is not. The Twitterverse saw this as a company exploiting a terrible human tragedy for their own marketing gain. By using this topic, although they had the best of intentions,
the poor execution meant they came across as unfeeling and inhumane, damaging their brand image. To avoid this, before you release any kind of marketing message, read what you are about to release as if you were a potential customer of a different brand. Would you be offended? Is it in bad taste? Are there any ambiguous meanings that could be misconstrued? If the answer to any of these is yes, then hit the delete button (or scrunch up that paper if you’re feeling particularly old-school) and start again.
MARKETING How not to do customer service
DON’T POUR FUEL ON THE FLAMES
Ignored customers soon find alternative avenues through which to spend their money, which is preventable with a split-second of effort
DON’T TREAT THE CUSTOMER AS “JUST ANOTHER NUMBER” I am sad to say this one is from personal experience. Dealing with customers can often be a lengthy, timeconsuming process, and it is easy to be tempted to take short-cuts. Don’t! I recently contacted Ryanair and, after filling in their contact form with my name, writing a charming email, which was signed off with my name and then including my booking information, which also displayed my name, they replied to my request with “Dear customer”. For a company that some already see to be unconcerned about the welfare of its customers and more about the bottom line, this type of attitude where “we couldn’t be bothered to personalise our reply” becomes standard leaves the customer feeling cold, ignored and unimportant. Ignored customers soon find alternative avenues through which to spend their hard-earned, costing you money for what would have been a split-second of effort. Many mass-marketing templates now include formulae as standard to insert the customer’s name, and this personal touch lets them know you have taken them and their concerns seriously.
MAKE SURE YOU FULLY UNDERSTAND TRENDS BEFORE APPROPRIATING THEM The “meme” craze exploded in the latter half of the previous decade, with internet users across the globe using these universally recognised images to express themselves through an idea, style or action, often for comic effect. Ranging from grumpy cat - a cat whose grumpy face comes with pessimistic quips - to trollface, which is used when you are messing with someone for the fun of it or “trolling”, the trend shows no sign of going away any time soon. So naturally, companies are keen to use memes to their advantage. There is nothing wrong with this strategy (as long as you adhere to proper copyright laws), and marketers have been jumping on and off bandwagons for centuries, but if you are going to do this you need to make sure you fully understand the meme. Don’t make the mistake of countless others who have used a meme they didn’t understand properly, which gave the actual message the complete opposite meaning of that which they intended. For help, visit knowyourmeme. com/memes.
Back in the airline industry again, this time with Easyjet, another low-budget airline which doesn’t seem to have grasped that low-budget doesn’t have to mean low-service levels. When Mark Leiser, a law lecturer, columnist, and Easyjet passenger tweeted about his flight being delayed as he sat in the airport lounge, he thought nothing of it. After all, he wasn’t famous and was merely venting his frustration that he might miss his connection. So it came as a huge surprise that, when he began queuing to board his flight, he was stopped by Easyjet staff and told in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t be allowed to board his flight because of the tweet. Aside from the absurd idea of stopping someone from boarding a paid for flight because of a random member of the public’s fairly innocuous tweet, nobody at Easyjet stopped to think that if they confronted a man who was using Twitter to complain, then he might just use Twitter to complain even more. What should have been a nothing tweet about a delay that very few people read suddenly exploded into a national scandal, bringing scorn and mockery on Easyjet. People will always complain to release frustration at situations that are out of their control (that’s not to say they often don’t have just cause) but sometimes, left to their own devices, their venting is harmless. By engaging and needlessly escalating the situation, Easyjet managed to make a mountain out of a molehill. Contact: luke.garner@ talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk Tweet us @talkbusinessmag with your stories of poor customer service. SPONSORED BY
72 July 2014
Business Junction, London’s premier Business network, invites you to a Free networkinG event Business Junction is offering all Talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of Business Junction is offering all talk Business readers a complimentary invitation to one of our our 4 June networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 5 august networking events in London which are all listed below (and on our website). 10 July 2014 12.30-2.30pm
Networking lunch in Soho at Obikà Mozzarella Bar Nearest tube: Oxford Circus 19-20 Poland Street,London, W1F 8QF networking lunch at the Grange Hotel at tower Hill More information and booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-soho-5
16 July 2014 Thurs 8th Aug 8-10am
Champagne Breakfast at St Bart’s Brewery networking lunch at the roof Gardens & Babylon restaurant at High st. kensington 66 West Smithfield,London, EC1A 9DY Nearest tube: Barbican 99 High Street Kensington, W8 5SA Nearest tube: High Street Kensington Booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-breakfast-in-west-smithfield-1
Thurs 1st Aug
Wed 14th Aug
45 Prescot Street, E1 8GP
Nearest tube: Tower Hill
networking lunch at Freemasons Hall at covent Garden
24 July 2014 12.30-2.30pm
Networking in Shoreditch at Barrio 60lunch Great Queen Street, WC2B 5AZ East Nearest tube: Holborn 141-143 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JE Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street networking lunch at the Happenstance at st. paul’s Booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-lunch-in-shoreditch-4
30 July 2014 Thurs 29th Aug 5.30-9pm
Networking evening in South Kensington at Boujis at dirty dicks atNearest Liverpool tube: street South Kensington 43 Thurloenetworking Street, London,lunch SW7 2LQ 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4NR Nearest tube: Liverpool Street booking: http://www.businessjunction.co.uk/events/networking-evening-in-south-kensington
Thurs 22nd Aug
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Please email Fiona@businessjunction.co.uk with the event you would like to attend and quoting the reference: talkbusiness2/13 now in its 12 year and with over 450 member companies, Business Junction is London’s leading independent business network. we run 80+ pan-London networking events each year including a weekly lunch, a monthly champagne taittinger breakfast and 6 evening events, all at different high quality central London venues.
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MARKETING 10 steps of twitter
TEN STEPS OF TWITTER
Step 8: Echo Your Twitter Community Our quest to improve the Talk Business Twitter account, and provide you with some handy tips, continues with advice from Joel Windels of Brandwatch.
any people create a business account on Twitter assuming they will grow a follower base that will naturally comment, favour or re-tweet each and every post. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marketers are constantly searching for the ultimate tweet that fosters engaged discussions amongst yourself and your followers. Sometimes, you could spend hours crafting a tweet which fails to resonate with your audience. You don’t want to end up like the “45 day tweet”, with little engagement after it had been in the making for nearly two months. No, you want an Ellen or Barak Obama tweet:
Obviously, you can team up with co-stars or have a celebrity take over your account to achieve such popularity. For
example, the Baltimore Ravens recruited Olympic medallist Michael Phelps, one of their most popular fans, to live-tweet a football game against the Minnesota Vikings. But for those of you who don’t have enough resources or budget, there is a better idea: echo your community’s tone of voice on Twitter. On Twitter, the quality of your content ultimately determines how engaged your followers will be. You are what you tweet. Mirroring your community’s style and tone will lead to greater recognition. You wouldn’t speak in an informal manner, using slang or colloquialisms, to those working in politics when speaking to them in real life, so don’t try that approach online. If you manage to mirror their preferred tone flawlessly, you could win greater respect of your community. British retailer Argos showed off its street cred in an epic Twitter reply to a request about PlayStation 4, echoing the language of the disgruntled customer. Argos has been re-tweeted more than 9,500 times. They set a wonderful example of responsive, human customer service in action, gaining them huge praise and much respect from the online community. Keep in mind that you should adapt your tone, not your voice.
Your voice sets you apart from the rest. For instance, Whole Foods has built an authoritative brand voice around all things healthy living. Reading Popchips’ Twitter feed is like hanging out with your life-of-the-party friend. However, your tone should vary depending on the situation. You speak to different people in diverse ways, yet remain yourself. Your voice will be totally different depending on if you’re meeting the Prime Minister or catching up with friends. The same goes for brands. When a customer expresses disappointment on Twitter, your tone may be more sympathetic. The frozen pizza brand, DiGiorno Pizza, has an exceptionally distinct tone on Twitter. They often live-tweet events while making pizzarelated observations. Some brands have witty voices, others have informative voices, but the best ones are approachable, genuine and echo their communities.
You are what you tweet. Mirroring your community’s style and tone will lead to greater recognition
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PEOPLE Lee McQueen
The big corporation cop-out
here has been a debate raging about the pros and cons of multinational businesses that are registered overseas for tax reasons. These huge players set up their affairs in such a way that allows them to make vast sums of money from their UK operations, while managing to pay next to nothing to our tax man. There is nothing illegal about what they are doing, but it is not a level playing field and they are benefiting from rules that are unavailable to most of us. These big companies claim that, by paying lower taxes, they can lower their prices and pay their staff better. But there’s no transparency in the system and it is near impossible to prove that is happening. It reminds me of how the energy companies tell us their prices are linked to what they spend on the wholesale markets, but things are never quite transparent enough for us to be able to tell if that’s really the case or not. The bottom line is that many of these companies make a lot of money from the UK, so they should be paying the right
Lee McQueen, founder of the Raw Talent Academy and season-four winner of BBC’s The Apprentice, says UK-based businesses should all pay their fair share of tax
amount of tax over here. If you are trading in the UK, you should be paying taxes at the UK rate. All small businesses have to do that, and HM Revenue & Customs will quickly crack down on any of us who try to avoid paying our fair share. SMEs and entrepreneurs who are just starting up are losing out. They don’t have the ability simply to open up head offices overseas, in countries such as Luxembourg. We all have to do everything by the book, and rightly so. So why should the multi-nationals be allowed to come in and play by different tax rules? I suppose that part of me says good luck if you’ve found a loophole – but the rules are not the same across the board. Of course, one way to encourage these big businesses to pay a greater share of
Why should the multinationals be allowed to come in and play by different tax rules?
their taxes in the UK is for us to make our tax rates more competitive. There will never be a one-size-fits-all system, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t try to have a tax rate that is more aligned with the lower rates that are available overseas. There have been many studies showing that lower tax rates ultimately end up raising greater amounts of tax overall. There is clearly a discrepancy between our tax rates and the rates available in some other countries. So, if we want everyone to make a fair contribution to our society and stop looking for loopholes, perhaps it’s time we made the UK a more competitive places for businesses to be based. Contact: rawtalentacademy.co.uk
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PEOPLE Workplace yoga
SICKNESS BENE-FIT! Keep your staff happy, healthy and motivated with workplace fitness, says David Elliott, managing director of The-Mad-Group
or most business owners, the cost of covering staff absences is a worry, and in these times of economic recovery, every little helps. So what can you do to ensure your workforce remains healthy and motivated so that the time they spend at work is as productive as possible? Ever thought about yoga? For employers and busy employees, the thought of introducing yoga
to their lives in 2014 seems a bit of a non-starter – “what’s in it for me?” being the standard response from both parties. Well, yoga potentially has a very important and beneficial role in the workplace. Busy professionals have a lot of demands on their time, and allocating a portion of their leisure time to yoga just doesn’t factor in the scheme of things. But what if employers realised the potential benefits to their work and home lives, and made some time in the working day for yoga in the workplace? Let’s look at the economic argument. According to figures in the Health and Safety Executive Annual Statistics Report for Great Britain 2012/13, a total of 22.7 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health during the period,
Improved fitness and flexibility can reduce the number of work-related injuries through manual handling
and of these days, the single highest contributing factor was mental ill health. In today’s workplace, stress is a major consideration for employers, and anything that has the potential to alleviate this is of potential benefit to both employers and the employees. Less-stressed employees will be more productive and are less likely to need time off through illness. They are also likely to have happier home lives, and this in turn leads to increased productivity, along with increased camaraderie with their colleagues. I firmly believe that yoga is not only an activity you should put in your life, but one that employers should actively encourage, either by establishing classes, or even allotting time in the work day for sessions. I brought the yoga mat to the
talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 79 connecting talented people
PEOPLE Workplace yoga
UK market in the early 1980s and I often quote Yoga Journal, which goes as far as listing 38 direct benefits from practising yoga! High in this list are benefits such as dealing with stress and anxiety, creating inner peace, calm and presence, weight management, flexibility, managing pain and improving your breathing. But don’t just take it from me - many business people swear by it, affirming that yoga’s stretching exercises help to avoid injuries, and its holistic approach helps workers focus when needed, and relax when the job is done. Two scientific reviews in 2005 on yoga’s effects on anxiety and depression found that yoga helps moderate reactions to, and perceptions of, stress, as well as significantly lifting depression. It bumps up levels of the neurotransmitter, GABA, which lifts mood and suppresses anxiety. Yoga also reduces cortisol levels, known as the stress hormone, responsible for creating anxiety. Presence is important in business to command respect; in yoga it’s about connecting yourself with the present moment - being in tune with your surroundings. Yoga is proven to improve concentration according to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1979. It is also claimed that it helps with co-ordination, reaction time and memory.
All will help to create more productive, happier employees, improving efficiencies in your business, and ultimately your bottom line. For manual roles, the increased flexibility brought about through exercise can be of benefit. Over time, ligaments, tendons and muscles lengthen and this leads to increasing elasticity in your body’s movement. Improved fitness and flexibility can reduce the number of work-related injuries through manual handling, and reduce the number of workers unable to carry out their every-day duties. Yoga provides cardiovascular benefits too, by lowering resting heart rate and improving oxygen uptake during exercise. The breathing practice, known as pranayama, helps you to slow down and deepen your breathing Finally, yoga can ease pain. Practising postures (or asanas) and meditation reduces back and neck pain, or more serious conditions including arthritis or multiple sclerosis.
Less-stressed employees are more productive and less likely to need time off through illness. They are also likely to have happier home lives, which leads to increased productivity
time and can’t commit, there are starter kits with DVDs available, which are ideal for beginners to pace yourself in your own time, maybe at home. Yes, there will always be yoga sceptics who dispute its benefits, but studies show the results – yoga can relieve stress, improve health and save you money. Convincing hard-nosed business people can be difficult, but surely investing in your body and state of mind is the best investment you can make this year – it’s got to be worth a try? Contact: www.yoga-mad.com
So how do you get started? I suggest the first thing you do is check out your local yoga class – see if they can accommodate a session for your staff, or even come and offer a class at your premises. Typically, they run for about 45 minutes a time. The British Wheel of Yoga is a good place to find a class at www.bwy.org. uk. Or, if you are pushed for
80 July 2014
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PEOPLE HR Insight
Workers earning commission will now be entitled to it on holiday pay too. HR Insight's Richard Cummings discusses the implications
he European Court recently ruled that if a worker’s pay normally includes commission (or other allowances), then holiday pay should also include allowances for these, because the employee should receive comparable pay to their normal pay whilst on holiday.
Why the change? Without it the worker may be dissuaded from taking annual leave as pay will be lower. The Working Time Regulations were established to ensure that workers take adequate rest away from the workplace, and this ruling reinforces that aim. What are the implications? Businesses should urgently look at workers’ pay and assess whether they receive any variable payments, such as allowances or commission, during the normal working week. If they do so on a regular basis, it is advisable to review your commission or allowances policy. Think about averaging out any variable payments across the previous month, quarter or year, and factoring it into holiday pay calculations. That way, the business can minimise the risk of a legal challenge by staff on the back of this case.
An end to commission-free holiday money Who will be affected? Any worker who receives allowances or commission payments as part of their employment. They can have these payments factored into the calculation of their weekly pay when they take annual leave. The ruling referenced a case where the employee was heavily dependent upon commission and may be financially disadvantaged by not receiving these payments while on leave. In the future it’s possible that, where commission is an added incentive rather than a fundamental part of expected remuneration, this ruling may not apply. Workers who received regular commission throughout the year, such as fees earned each month on historic sales, should not be affected by the ruling as the commissions are paid this way already, meaning they are not disadvantaged when taking holiday.
How should I calculate holiday pay now? The exact process for calculation has not been determined by the ruling, so employers now need to find a solution that works for their business. It will be essential
that, whatever approach is decided upon, it is used consistently for all workers. There are various ways you may wish to use: An average week’s commission If, for example, a worker is averaging £100 per week in commission, a week’s holiday pay should include the basic salary, plus an additional £100 of anticipated commission earnings. Last 12 weeks’ average Use the last 12 weeks’ commission earnings and define the average commission payment. Then pay the basic salary plus an amount equivalent to the average weekly commission.
The process for calculation has not been determined by the ruling, so employers need to find a solution that works for them
HRi Advice This decision will be of concern for many businesses that pay commission to their workers. Steps should be taken to consider what parts of pay should be included in the holiday pay calculation, and to implement this. It may also be wise to review commission structures to decide if they should be varied following this ruling. Contact: hrinsight.co.uk SPONSORED BY
82 July 2014 connecting talented people
PEOPLE Tax returns
Tax doesn’t have to b Sarah Males of SJ Males & Co, chartered certified accountants, takes a look at how you can avoid tax return issues - even if you've missed the 2013/14 deadline
here are rarely two words that strike the fear into entrepreneurs and SME owners like the words “tax returns”. With seemingly frequent changes occurring to reporting procedures, and an often complex system to determine exactly what you should pay, and to whom, it sure can be a scary and confusing process. So to help, here we break down what you need to do, to comply with current PAYE submissions, and what to do if you’re already behind on reporting your real time information (RTI).
Do you need to make a final 2013-14 PAYE submission? Under HMRC’s new system of reporting PAYE information, known as RTI, most employers would submit the final Full Payment Submission (FPS) either “on or before” their last pay day of the tax year, which ends on 5th April.
If you haven’t yet made this report, you can now only report and correct your PAYE information for 2013/14 by submitting an Earlier Year Update (EYU). To do this, the majority of employers will be able to use their existing payroll software. If the software doesn’t allow you to send an EYU, or you use the Basic PAYE Tools to run your payroll, you can use the Basic PAYE Tools to complete and send an EYU. The Basic PAYE Tools guidelines produced by HMRC for submitting an EYU alongside commercial software are extremely user friendly, and can be located at www.hmrc.gov.uk/payerti/ payroll/bpt/eyu-other.pdf. But if you’re still struggling it is best to get in contact with an advisor or accountant to guide you through the process. After all, paying a little bit now is better than paying a lot in fines!
not correct, then you will simply need to submit another EYU! Remember that the difference to be reported will be based on the difference between the figures, incorporating the previous EYU sent, and what the figures should be. Don’t get mixed up and make the situation worse. Again, seek help if necessary rather than struggle alone. The HMRC business dashboard should show the latest figures within two days of receiving the EYU, including showing the adjusted Month 12 charge.
Is there a late filing penalty for 2013-14?
You may run the risk of a penalty if you haven’t filed yet, but this shouldn’t happen if the EYU is submitted to amend your previously submitted final FPS figures. Despite a reputation for being hard nosed, HMRC is sometimes accommodating if you keep them informed and up Remember not to to date. The less work you create duplicate your for them, the more likely they information when are to be sympathetic. sending an EYU If you haven’t submitted your The EYU should only report final RTI report for 2013/14, the differences between what then it is very possible that you have already submitted penalties are accruing. Penalty and what the figure should be. notices are expected to come If the figure should have been out in September, which will less, remember to use a ‘minus’ be, by then, four months late, sign to indicate this clearly, so act now to stop the penalties otherwise you may find yourself accruing. There are no excuses having to complete yet more for late payments by this point, forms, costing you both time and you don’t want to waste and money. your company’s hard-earned on If, following the EYU something that takes little time submission, the figures are still and effort.
Making sure you plan well in advance is the best way to avoid getting any nasty surprises from HMRC
84 July 2014
PEOPLE Tax returns
o be taxing But what if the error affects the employer payment summary (EPS) only? If you have reported incorrect information on an EPS in a previous tax year, you must submit another EPS to report the correct total year-todate figures for all recovered payments within that tax year. You can submit an EPS for up to six years after you filed your original FPS or EPS. If you need to correct errors for an earlier tax year pre-RTI, you can do so. If the old-style forms, P35 and P14 were originally filed, you will need to submit amended forms showing the difference between what was reported and what should have been reported. Keeping abreast of the relevant dates for filing, and making sure you plan well in advance is the best way to avoid getting any nasty surprises from HMRC. The tax year always begins and ends in April, so there really should be no excuses for not filing in time. For further information see HMRCâ€™s new flowchart for correcting a 2013-14 submission in real time at www.hmrc.gov.uk/ news/paye-correcting.pdf
If you havenâ€™t submitted your final RTI report for 2013/14, then it is very possible that penalties are accruing
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talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 85 connecting talented people
For mergers & acquisitions... To get it done right and for the right price... Whether you are buying or selling... You need timing and structure... James Lamont, Head of Corporate and Commercial at Hart Brown solicitors looks very briefly at these two cornerstones of any corporate deal making
In January 2008 Facebook was valued at anything between $3 billion and $15 billion. In January 2011 Facebook was rumoured to be valued at $50 billion. In August 2013 that figure was $100 billion. We do not tend to cover deals with a billion dollar price tag but the importance of timing in a sale, acquisition or investment remains of paramount importance in nearly every transaction that comes across our desks and can result in significant cost savings (both in price and fees). In terms of getting the best price and incurring minimal professional fees, if at all possible, when looking to sell your business:• Sell when the business is going well • Sell when you don’t have to • Sell to someone who desperately wants you • Sell to someone who has the funds to buy you and when looking to buy a business • buy when they want to sell more than you want to buy. In addition to timing we would nearly always recommend you agree full (but not overly detailed) heads of terms. These heads of terms will set out the parameters, positions and requirements of each party and will hopefully avoid confusion further down the line and flush out what each party hopes to achieve from the
of the possibilities always worth considering are as follows:• Cash up front / no cash up front • Earn-out / no earn-out • Buy / Sell part now with option to buy / sell part later • Don’t sell side-line business • Take / offer a stake in acquiring entity Structure • Sell for less but aggressively In 2012 the walnut specialists limit potential future liability Diamond Foods, having already As part of agreeing the acquired the distinctly British structure and timing we would Kettle Chips put together a deal nearly always recommend you to buy Pringles, of the once agree full (but not overly detailed) you’ve popped you can’t stop heads of terms and take tax fame, from Proctor & Gamble advice. These heads of terms will in a deal worth $2.35 billion. set out the parameters, positions The deal included Diamond and requirements of each party Foods taking on $850 million and the proposed timings and of debt and the shareholders in subsequently agreed structure. Proctor & Gamble owning 57% This will hopefully avoid confusion of a new company set up to hold further down the line and flush Pringles’ business. The deal out what each party hopes to ultimately failed as Diamond achieve from the transaction. For Foods became embroiled in an the buyer or seller it is the first accounting scandal. chance to set out not only what the We do not cover deals of deal is but also the opportunity to quite this size but what this see what you can get away with one does is give us another (!) how the deal will be played example of the types of deals out and agreeing this all from the that regularly come across start can significantly affect the our desks and shows how any actual deal that goes through and business wishing to sell, or the way that the deal is actually to restructure, or to merge played out. with another, may be able to structure the deal for present For further information, contact and future benefit (monetary or James Lamont on 01483 887766 otherwise) rather than merely or email email@example.com selling the whole, for a set price, in a single sitting. The list of structural recipes are many but (and remaining non buyer /seller specific) some
transaction. For the buyer or seller it is the first chance to set out not only what the deal is but also how the deal will be played out and agreeing this from the start can significantly affect the actual deal that goes through and the way that the deal is played out.
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Entrepreneur Day One On your bike
Our research and development department, MorphLabs, is headed up by an ex-NASA scientist
I live and work in Edinburgh. The Monday starts with a cycle across town (all downhill on the way, murder on the way back!) which is a great way to blow off any remaining cobwebs from the weekend. Once in the office I start the day going through our website sales report from the week before. The main KPIs are traffic, conversion rate and revenue. Our biggest countries are the UK & US. We’ve recently launched augmentedreality Marvel Morphsuits, such as Spider-man, Captain America and Iron Man, so they’re a big focus. We’re a very modern company in-sofar that despite the fact we have only thirty people, we are spread out over six locations. We can’t just shout across the office, so we spend a lot of time on Skype. We have a marketing team catch-up every Monday where we go through the priorities for the week. When I worked at Procter and Gamble we had docs called OGSMs (Objectives, Goals, Strategies, Measures) which
was a brilliant 1-pager with everything you needed to focus on for the year. In our business it’s very easy to get distracted so we use that approach a lot to keep us on track.
Day Two Ghouls and guerrillas Right now the focus is Halloween. Though it’s four months away, it’s our biggest sales period, so we spend a lot of time building our marketing plans around it. In the past we’ve relied heavily on Facebook for driving awareness. However Facebook has changed EdgeRank (their algorithm) which has had a significant effect on our business. Three years ago, each post went to a massive majority of our fans, today each post goes to around 6% of our fans. We’ve had to find new ways to drive awareness. That led us to start work with Mr President, who are a marvellous creative agency based in London. They are very bright, very creative and they’re as passionate about MorphCostumes as we are.
I also meet with Manifest London who are the best guerrilla PR agency in the business and have delivered a huge amount of coverage for us in the past two years. If time allows, I’ll pop into the Business Growth Fund, who have a minority stake in our business. They’re our partners and have been a great enabler for the business, providing the resources for us to invest in licenses, people and premises. They have a terrific network of contacts which led to us bringing in our Chairman Ralph Kugler, who is ex-Unilever and on the board of Mars.
Day Three Cosmic ideas Innovation is a huge part of our business so we spend a lot of time focusing on it. We call up our research and development
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Founded less than 5 years ago, Morphsuits recently stormed in at number 18 on the Fast Track 100 of Britain’s fastest growing private companies. Sales now stand at £11 million and they have just been awarded a business growth investment of £4.2 million. Founder and inventor, Gregor Lawson, takes us through a week in the life of Morphsuits.
department, MorphLabs, which is headed up by Mark Rober, an ex-NASA scientist. Yes, you read that correctly. Mark got into costumes when he made a costume for Halloween using two iPads and a shirt with a hole on the front and a hole on the back. He taped one iPad to his stomach and one iPad to his back, linked the camera on the front to the screen on the back and vice versa. He then put on the shirt and added some blood and gore. The end result was that it looked like he had a hole blown right through him. He posted it on YouTube and it was seen by millions of people. Obviously not many people have two iPads or are willing to take them out on the beers, so he fine-tuned his idea using mobile phones and specially designed T-shirts called Digital Dudz. Nowadays, Mark spends his time talking to consumers to understand exactly what costumes they want for the big occasions, such as Halloween, Christmas, Spring Break, Charity runs, German carnival and World Book Day.
Day Four Life moves fast online Selling is what it’s all about and leads me to focus on our website and our customers today. It is tough keeping up with the latest e-commerce trends because they move so fast. Ali, Fraser (my co-founders) and I are no e-commerce experts, but we got by for the first three years. With the scale of our business now, and the increased speed that e-commerce is moving, it has led us to bring in Mike Traille who is a bit of an online guru. For the past three months he has been working on overhauling our website and I spend a lot of time working with him on it. On the customer front I still manage a few accounts which goes back to the early days; I love the mix of sales and marketing and it’s a great way to keep up with customers’ needs as well as the latest trends in the industry.
Day Five Fit Friday We’re big believers in healthy body, healthy mind. Our Edinburgh office go out for
Cross-Fit (basically circuit training) on a Friday morning. It is tiring but it’s a great way to get out of the office as a team and prepare for the weekend. The rest of the day is spent tying up loose ends before the weekend.
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IMAGE Dress to impress
Apples, pears and plunging necklines Anna Bance, co-founder of designer clothes rental company Girl Meets Dress, shows you how to get that red carpet look for the business formal - no matter what your shape!
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hen I was working as UK PR manager for Hermes, I, like most women, had that daunting feeling of trying to look for appropriate dresses for my work formals. I would scour the internet for hours, often leaving me feeling tired, frustrated and out of resources. After I left
Hermes, I launched the UK’s first online dress hire service, GirlMeetsDress.com, which allows women to hire the hottest designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of the retail price. Whether you’re an apple, pear or any other shape from the fruit bowl, you shouldn’t panic about what to wear. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be dressed to impress.
Perhaps the most challenging body type to find good fitting dresses for, the apple is a shape that women often feel too scared to confront. Major worries include picking the wrong fabric or pulling focus to the wrong body parts – but you have wonderful assets to be flaunted! Simple tricks can help emphasise what God gave you. Pick dresses that draw eyes to your top half, like our NLY Mya dress in red, which will define your bust line and elongate the rest of your body. Don’t be afraid to experiment with
something a little bit out of your comfort zone for work formals; if you follow the rules it will pay off and give you confidence to dress up time and time again. Flowing fabrics are your best friend when it comes to apple shapes - especially if they’re hung from your bust - but this doesn’t mean you should go for unflattering, shapeless dresses that cover your entire body. These can make you look larger than you actually are. Stick to dresses with gathered fabric that emphasise your bosom and avoid tight fitting clothes.
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IMAGE Dress to impress
As an hourglass, you may think that you don’t have any issues when it comes to finding that perfect dress (and for the most part, this is true), but did you know that short waists can make you look larger than you actually are? Hourglasses are those lucky ladies with curves in all the right places, so embrace this by accentuating everything you have. The Gorgeous Couture Bailey maxi dress in Blush is a figure-hugging jersey dress with ruched detail and stretchy fabric, creating an elegant silhouette.
This is perfect for a black tie work formal when you want to look sophisticated, while still channelling sex appeal. Emphasise your small waist by thinking about dresses with belts, like the Stella McCartney pleated stretch dress, or dresses that incorporate pencil skirts like the Ariella Andrea dress. Stick to tight fitting dresses for night, whether you decide to go long or short. Stay clear of baggy, unflattering dresses and think about those plunging necklines.
Good news for pear shapes: fashion is changing and more designers are acknowledging that pear is the most common female body type! This means dresses are being created with you in mind. Don’t get stuck in a rut and think pear means you’re overweight as this is not the case. Pear shapes come in all forms, and it simply means your bum or thighs are bigger than the rest of you. Emphasise your top half by going for dresses with generous skirts like
the Libelula Long Gee dress. The low neckline will keep eyes up top and the slimming black skirt will balance out your bottom half. Try to avoid pencil skirts and other dresses with tight hips that could make you look larger than you are. The main areas of your body to concentrate on are your back, boobs and arms, so when it comes to choosing a dress make sure you are emphasising them naturally.
Whether you’re an apple, pear or any other shape from the fruit bowl, you shouldn’t panic about what to wear.
RECTANGLE If you’re more of a rectangle (also called “straight”) body type then you are lucky as you don’t have to use any special tricks to hide disliked features. In fact, you are required to do the exact opposite! Being rectangular means you don’t have much in the way of a waist, tummy or bottom, so to combat this you should try to introduce a little shape and some curves. Structured dresses that hold a shape will be perfect for you, like the Opulence England sequin
prom dress. If you’re looking for something a little less jazzy, why not try the Amanda Wakley Niara Scuba gown, which has fringing on the sides to create more emphasis on the hips? Go for dramatic cuts, and try to avoid any shapeless dresses, or dresses that hang straight down. A-line dresses will work well for you, and don’t forget to include some big accessories.
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Simply write to us about anything business related that’s on your mind. Whether it be a comment on an article in Talk Business or something you’ve seen on the news, the best letter will be picked as our “Letter of the month” and will win the whole lot! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write us at: Letter of the month, Talk Business magazine, William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodﬁeld Terrace, Stansted Mountﬁtchet, Essex CM24 8AJ
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CYCLONE MILK For the gym buffs amongst you, it can often be a pain to get all of the nutrients you need. Well now you don’t have to worry any more as the good folks at MaxiNutrition have created Cyclone Milk - the world’s first creatine delivery system, available in delicious chocolate or strawberry flavours. With 30g of protein and 3g of creatine, you can get everything you need to help get those biceps bulging. Now, what’s the company policy on sleeveless suits? Price: £27.99 Where can I buy it?: www.maxishop.com
SOLE SPORT FLIPS Flip flops are a must-have accessory for any adventure abroad, but after days of pounding the pavement along the seafront, your poor feet can feel in needof TLC. Sole Sport Flips not only look great, but cushion your feet with their built in orthopaedic footbed moulds, meaning an end to aching tootsies. Available in eight colours, now all you have to worry about is the dreaded flip-flop tan line! Price: £50 Where can I buy them?: www.yoursole.co.uk talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk 93
JUST IN CASE: best business travel bags Best For: Meetings abroad Samsonite black rolling tote - £269 “With compartments galore, this bag means business as it cleverly files all your essentials for work within its very compact body. You’ll never have to leave anything behind again, and it is handily on wheels too - perfect after a day schlepping across the airport tiles.”
Best For: Long-haul Delsey 4-wheel spinner - £235 “In a tantalising choice of red, silver or black, this 71cm suitcase is capacious enough for longer business trips and equally good for combining business with pleasure. Bon voyage!”
Best For: Cabin carry-on Rimowa Salsa Air multi wheel - £355 “Less is more for this lightweight, triple layered polycarbonate case from the original ‘groovy’ brand. Featuring the multi 4-wheel system for a quick turnaround, you won’t have to worry about the rush to the check-in desks as you can slalom through crowds seamlessly.”
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Travelling can be stressful at the best of times, but packing your bags shouldn't be adding any anxiety. So we asked the experts over at leading luggage website, Caseluggage. com for their recommendations on the best new cases for business travellers. Here's what they said...
Best for: avoiding the queues Tumi Classic Alpha garment bag - £495 “Tumi’s garment bag is specifically tailored for the business traveller. Its interior is large enough to carry-on a week’s worth of hanging garments or suits, meaning you can ditch the queues at the baggage carousel and guarantee your luggage arrives unharmed. Impressive!”
Best for: laptop only Bric’s olive laptop sleeve - £75 “Have computer, will travel (light)! Smooth and sophisticated are the best words to describe this olive-skinned, leather-handled case. Ideal for a laptop or tablet on those short hops.”
Best For: overnight business trips Tommy Hilfiger Dale 24-hour duffel - £385 “Brown is the new black, so make sure you turn heads in the airport lounge with this roomy, but easily transportable duffel bag that will take you from bedroom to boardroom in style!”
Case Luggage is one of the UK’s leading travel goods and luggage retailers with more than 40 different quality brands available at www.caseluggage.com Visit www.caseluggage.com for free, fast, UK delivery of quality brands with reserve & collect option, plus special offer of 10% off your first order.
IMAGE Hot spots - Birmingham
Hot spots This month we head to the heart of England, with the best places to eat, greet and lay your head in Birmingham and the surrounding area. AWAY ON BUSINESS MALLORY COURT Where? Harbury Lane, Leamington Spa. Why? A grandiose grand Lutyen-style manor set in 10 acres of upmarket Warwickshire real-estate, Mallory charms her guests with handsome bedrooms, stunning grounds, unobtrusive service and simply exquisite food. This location is simply unbeatable for entertaining important clients who expect nothing less than the best, and with opulent views across the undisturbed Warwickshire countryside out of every window (and I mean EVERY window), it really does give you a real impression of what country manor living was like all those many years ago (but with the modern amenities thankfully!). Equipped with multi-purpose conference facilities, the Knights Suite comprises four interconnected rooms, which can be taken individually or opened out to create one generous space for up to 160 delegates. It is the perfect location for an awards dinner, ceremony or conference. Additionally, quaint but spacious meeting rooms are available for smaller groups, though it is hard to imagine anybody being able
to focus with such stunning natural beauty out of every pane of glass. Being a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence winner for 2014, coupled with three AA rosettes, places Mallory Court into the top 200 hotels in the country, and with prices starting from ÂŁ100 including breakfast, it is certainly worth a visit to this quintessentially English hotel. Contact: www.mallory.co.uk
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IMAGE Hot spots - Birmingham
MEET AND EAT SAN CARLO
EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS NATIONAL MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM Where? The Junction 6 island of the M42, opposite the National Exhibition Centre (NEC). Why? Perfect for any motorcycle aficionado, the National Motorcycle Museum is located just down the road from Birmingham International airport and train station. With conference halls and meeting rooms that can cater for up to 950 people, the museum has been hosting events since 1985. Despite losing part of the building and some artefacts to a fire in 2003, the centre has come back strongly and the vast range of motorcycles on view from all eras in the museum adds an interesting and quirky touch to any event. Literally hundreds of fully restored British motorcycles are on hand to provide an extra attraction for your conference or seminar. What a bonus! Contact: nationalmotorcyclemuseum.co.uk
Where? Temple Street, Birmingham (near the Cathedral). Why? Founded by Carlo Distefano in 1992, from humble beginnings San Carlo is now a UKwide brand that serves sumptuous Italian food in a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. Despite country-wide expansion, it hasn’t veered away from the classic formula of “ottimo cibo, grande famiglia” - meaning great food and great family, which the flagship restaurant successfully espouses to this day. The walls are adorned with pictures of the famous celebrities to have sampled San Carlo’s delights, and authentic Mediterranean waiters greet you at every turn. The food itself is nothing short of delightful. The antipasti is exquisite, cooked to perfection. In particular, the scallops have a melt-in-yourmouth texture, with the accompanying spinach soufflé being deliciously light and airy - a must try for any diner! However, the subtle touches are what make San Carlo a delight to dine at. The seasoning is sublime, from the fish dishes to the bruschetta. At a time when service with a smile seems to be a distant memory in the chain restaurant business, the staff at San Carlo genuinely appear to be enjoying what they do and their positive, jovial demeanours shine thorough. The atmosphere is ambient and you are encouraged to take your time and to savour your meal, in the traditional Italian way. Despite the generous, hearty portions, you will still find it hard to resist tucking into the fine selection of desserts. As with most of the dishes, they never try to overcomplicate things, sticking with the tried and tested method of quality ingredients, cooked fresh. The simplicity of the pannacottas, red berry cheesecakes and home-made Sacher chocolate cakes hit the spot faultlessly. Contact: www.sancarlo.co.uk/birmingham
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TECHNOLOGY How to develop an app
Don’t worry, be ‘appy! Maarten Schuiling, chief commercial officer of JMango, explains how even the smallest SME can get in on the app development game with ease
t’s amazing that, in just a few short years, mobile has evolved from a simple communication device to a complete information and entertainment medium. We are well past the PC era. If you’re keeping track of your website’s performance through a proper set of analytics, you should be able to see a rise in the number of visitors using a mobile device to view your site compared to those using a traditional desktop or laptop. Assuming that you already
have a mobile site, why would you need a mobile app?
Apps are great for promoting your products and services Your website (mobile or desktop) is a great way for you to showcase your wares and services, but a mobile app can let you actually promote them. To elaborate, your website can only sell your wares to your customers when they visit it. Now, if they had your app in their mobile
device, you can actively seek them and communicate with them, even if they don’t have The extra your app open. One of the great things about interaction today’s modern smartphones apps give is the ability to receive push younger notifications. Through an app, people helps you can send your latest deals to keep them and promos to your customers, engaged or inform them if you have a branch nearby, and the app doesn’t need to be opened to do this. You can still use email to send your customers notifications of your latest and greatest deals,
TECHNOLOGY How to develop an app
Case study: Ivy & Liv Ivy and Liv (www.ivyandliv.com) are one of the leading lights of Amsterdam’s fashion industry creating original, beautiful jewellery from the heart of Holland and shipping worldwide. With a young, upwardly mobile female audience, they had toyed with the idea for an app since the start of the smartphone revolution. While appreciating the benefits of mobile for their audience, initial meetings with traditional agencies and specialists had resulted in prohibitively high expenses and long lead times. Through a mutual business contact, Ivy and Liv founder Isabella Machinè was introduced to JMango360 and started developing her own app, despite having no programming skills.
“I was slightly nervous to start with as I am a jeweller with pretty limited technical skills. However, with some familiarization, I found the app builder extremely easy and intuitive, so much so that within a few hours I had our very first Ivy and Liv smartphone app, which showcased our beautiful jewellery,” explained Machinè. Deployed to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, the Ivy and Liv app allows customers to access and order their extensive range of jewellery direct from their phone. Customers can also save their favourites items to a wish list, check out the latest arrivals, receive offers and discounts, find their physical store and create a lookbook, and purchase using Paypal. You could do all this too with your own app!
but email doesn’t have the urgency and the speed of letting them see your message on their notification panes.
or search their bookmarks for. It’s all about making it easier for them to do what they need to do and what they want to.
An app can be an extra revenue channel for you The convenience of using a Having mobile device make apps a great your logo amongst your revenue producing channel. Your customers can begin customers’ shopping the moment they apps draws open your mobile app. If you them back paid attention to your app’s user to you better than a mobile interface, purchases can be easily made through an app, and it’ll site whose address they’ll be easier and faster than loading a website. Your mobile website need to keep can do the same thing, but typing in mobile apps are faster by orders of magnitude; and in mobile, speed is an absolute essential.
An app keeps you in your customer’s mind more than a mobile website Having your logo in your customers’ app drawer would draw them back to you better than a mobile site whose address they’ll need to type in
An app resonates well with younger audiences If young people are among your target demographic, a mobile app might be for you. Younger people tend to be more in tune with their devices, and the extra interaction apps give them helps to keep them engaged.
Getting started Until recently, mobile apps have been primarily the domain of large retailers and specialised teams of developers. That’s all changing. New mobile application development tools are now available that provide start-ups and SMEs with an easy and cost-effective way to build, launch, and commercialise their own mobile apps. A Google search will reveal a number of options and you will likely find it difficult to work out which app development tool to use. As for most software
purchases, I’d recommend that you spend some time looking at the type of companies which are already using a particular app development tool. Find a retailer similar to your own, check out their app for ideas and see if they have publicly recommended their supplier!
It’s an appy, appy world The world of online retailing is advancing quickly, and those that will continue to grow in an increasingly competitive global market share a common characteristic: a willingness to embrace new technology. Building an app should no longer be something to dread and put off again and again. SMEs do not need advanced IT skills to develop their own app, which can stand alone or complement existing web shops. So what are you waiting for? Contact: www.jmango360.com to develop and test your own app at no charge.
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TECHNOLOGY The Accelerator
Burning PLATFORMS David is giving Goliath cause for concern, explains Jon Bradford, managing director of Techstars
or those old enough to remember the original dotcom boom, you will recall the heady days when vast sums of money were invested into early stage businesses, but also the rush of corporates to sprinkle start-up pixie dust on themselves by claiming their dotcom and having a website. For most it ended with a very expensive website, which did little more than digitise their paper brochures. Fifteen years later, history is repeating itself. Corporates are entering the market, taking an active interest in start-ups. But this time it is different.While being part of the start-up culture is hip, there has been a fundamental shift in business economics. As I have previously stated, there has never been a better time to be a tech start-up. The costs of starting a business are dramatically lower, scalable solutions are much easier and faster to deploy, and distribution to a market with social networks is easy. These highly disruptive businesses are undermining older legacy businesses and ripping up the rules. There are many incumbent businesses that, whilst currently profitable, can foresee their impending demise. These are
businesses, which would not exist in their current form if they were to start today. Examples include businesses such as newspapers or banks. Who would start a publishing business that included physical newsprint? Who would start a bank that included branches? What were previously considered to be competitive advantages are now dead weights around their necks. Whilst they remain very profitable, they are acutely aware that their businesses are â€œburning platformsâ€?. These businesses are like supertankers - the time that it will take to correct course will be too long to save them. Using their current cash reserves and profitable businesses, many recognise the need to find new platforms on which to rebuild themselves, using many of the lessons learnt from the startups, which compete with them. And this is the massive shift happening in the market. Corporates are no longer playing with start-ups as a curiosity, but working alongside them to better understand what the future of their industries might look like. In the finance sector, many of the financial services are unravelling themselves; disaggregating into businesses that do one thing only.
A good example of this is TransferWise, which lets people send money abroad at a fraction of the price that banks currently charge. International money remittance is a lucrative market that many financial institutions have profited from for decades. Start-ups, without legacy overheads and a laser focus, have capacity to disrupt industry incumbents, and the speed of change is accelerating. Corporates have long been considered safe havens to weather economic storms. They are now, more than ever, vulnerable to market changes caused by technological disruption. The businesses on which many of them have long profited have no long-term future. They need to find a new platform to jump to - many of which are the start-ups that are causing the disruption.
Corporates are no longer playing with start-ups as a curiosity, but working alongside them to better understand the future of their industries
Jon Bradford is managing director of Techstars in London. Alongside this he is also a co-founder of f6s, the largest community of start-up founders in the world, and tech.eu, a dedicated tech blog for start-ups in Europe.
TECHNOLOGY Planning ahead
Sooner rather than later
Ksenia Zheltoukhova, of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD,) explains how to go about hiring the necessary skills for your future business right now.
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TECHNOLOGY Planning ahead
You don’t have to have all the answers. Many SME leaders find that some of the best creative decisions actually come from front line employees who are closest to your customers
anaging business growth will be a pertinent issue for small businesses in the coming year. In May, we published new figures showing that SMEs predict a hiring spree – they are five times more likely to recruit extra staff in the next quarter than large organisations. However, without the right people management skills, small firms will struggle to realise their growth plans. Indeed, research by NESTA found that almost half of highgrowth firms believe that a deficit of management and leadership competencies are an obstacle to business growth. Based on the findings from our research with SMEs, here is our advice on how SME leaders can ensure that they have the right skills to sustain their business as it develops.
organisation grows, you need to be prepared to spend more time developing and communicating the business strategy to the new joiners, perhaps in a more directive manner. At this point you need to devolve leadership responsibility to junior managers and employees.
Hire in the passion
In small businesses it’s even more true than normal that your people are your business. When you’re recruiting, try to ascertain early on not just the technical capability of the candidates, but also whether their values are aligned with those of the organisation. People who genuinely care what you do as a business are more likely to be enthusiastic, motivated and able to work more autonomously. Once on board, allocate enough time to tell them about what you do, what you stand for, and Devolve your your company’s values, and leadership and to identify and develop the transfer the skills necessary for the job, so knowledge that they can become quickly In the early days you’ll often immersed in your organisation. find yourself juggling multiple When you select individuals, roles and involved in every measure them against a defined aspect of the organisation, as list of professional competencies, you balance the day-to-day and leadership potential, and skills. strategic needs of the business. Identify the skillset needed at But, over time, the short-term the top of your organisation now ‘survival’ tasks may become and the skills that will be needed overwhelming and you’ll find down the line in the future. you can no longer sustain this Then you should consider how hands-on approach. Initially you these skills can be developed can rely on the enthusiasm and internally, as well as brought in the buy-in of your co-founders from outside the organisation. and other employees who have You never know - you may find been with the business from the that your future leaders are beginning. However, as your already working for you!
Embrace shared leadership You don’t have to have all the answers. Many SME leaders find that some of the best creative decisions actually come from front line employees who are closest to your customers. So don’t be afraid to involve your workforce in setting the business objectives. There can be a tendency for startups to be led by one person or just a select few. However, if everyone in the business has the opportunity to voice how they think the business should grow, you will end up with your entire workforce leading for growth, helping to identify leadership talent and possible gaps where talent needs to be brought in.
People who genuinely care what you do as a business are more likely to be enthusiastic, motivated and able to work more autonomously
Ksenia specialises in leadership studies and is interested in practical measures of value-led behaviours of managers and employees.
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I’ve got an APP for that This month we’re looking at apps that will help you to provide customer service online 24/7, or to scan on the go
ZENDESK Price: from £15 per month Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry The gist: Ever wanted to stay in touch with your customers whilst out and about? Well now you can with Zendesk. Receive and reply to questions in real time with your mobile or through the online website, helping you to put out fires before they start. Serve up customer service with an online destination for 24/7 support to help your customers answer
their own questions. With Help Centre you can build a knowledge base, community, and customer portal that fits in seamlessly with your brand. You can collaborate online with other members of your staff to solve issues too, as well as getting stats on the efficiency of your service. Downloadable from: www.zendesk.com
TINY SCAN Price: FREE Compatibility: iOS. The gist: Whether you’re on the tube, working remotely from your hotel, or in a client’s reception area, scan important documents and email them
on the spot. Simply by using your iPhone camera you can create PDFs of any document, without the need for multiple devices. Superb for meeting preparations or presentations. Downloadable from: The app store
Battle of the Brands Two mobile phenoms have dipped their toes into the smart-tablet waters, in an attempt to rival the behemoths - the iPad Mini and Google Nexus 7. We pit the efforts of the oldguard Vodafone vs new-pretenders to the crown EE, to see which comes out on top.
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EE EAGLE £199.99 214.4 × 120.7 × 7.9mm 329g
V PRICE DIMENSIONS WEIGHT
VODAFONE SMART TAB 4 £125 209 x 122.8 x 7.99mm 328g 8-inch screen, 3G capability, 2MP rear camera and VGA front camera, 1.2Ghz quadcore processor, 1GB RAM (expandable up to 64GB with micro SD card).
8-inch screen, 1.6GHz quadcore processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage (expandable by a further 32GB with micro SD card), 4G capability, front dual-speakers, 5MP camera.
The Eagle from EE features a premium metal design in silver, is extremely light and also super slim - so you really can carry it anywhere. With specs to rival the best tablets on the market, but at our great low price, it’s perfect for getting fast, reliable internet on the move - anytime.
With a perfect screen size of 8”, the Smart Tab 4 is just right for your browsing on the couch as well as your gaming on the go. The device is simple and intuitive to use and gives you instant access to apps and services that help you keep up with your busy life as well as letting you unwind with some entertainment or social media.
The EE Eagle is almost identical to the Huawei Mediapad 11, and running an old version of Google’ Platform , which means it isn’t as lightening fast as you would like (an update to KitKat has been promised but no date set). That said, you still get a lot of tablet for not a lot of cash, the camera is solid, and the 4G capability is certainly worth a second glance.
It sadly also runs the outdated JellyBean 4.2 that hampers its rival, but similarly an upgrade to KitKat is promised soon. It is hard to argue with that price though and, if you’re not fussed by the faster speeds of 4G, then it is a perfectly sensible option. Then again, Nike never sold many pairs of trainers off the back of “sensible”.
OUR VERDICT It’s a close one and the budget-conscious may be tempted by the Vodafone offering. However, while the Smart Tab 4 wins on price-point and is capable enough, it really is worth spending that little bit extra for the quality, features and 4G of the EE Eagle.
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TECHNOLOGY Laser vs inkjet printers
NOT SO BLACK AND WHITE Oki Systems UK's Andrew Hall, gives us the low down on the battle between inkjet and laser printers for business use
hen the first commercial laser printers went on sale in the 1970s, they were the size and price of a small family car. Now laser printers fit on a desktop and are priced well within the means of small and micro-businesses. There are even models that print in colour up to A3 size that will fit snugly on a table in the corner of a small office. These too have dramatically dropped in price, making it much easier these days for small business to print their own marketing materials. As a result, when it comes
Inkjet Strengths: • Small initial investment. • High quality colour, especially for materials with substantial photographic or graphic content. • Can print on many types of paper, including cheap office paper. • Consumables are cheaper at low volumes. • Little or no warm-up time needed.
Weaknesses: • Inkjet cartridges may only last around 200 pages. • Slower processing speed and throughput print speed (PPM). • Can present problems if not used regularly, as print heads will need to be cleaned before use (consuming large quantities of ink). • When printing in duplex, output quality can be seriously affected.
to renewing printers, many small businesses are wondering whether to go for the cheaper inkjet models found in many homes and home offices – or whether to change to one of the new, small-footprint laser printers. Instead of looking at initial financial outlay only, they are looking at total cost of ownership – particularly as many inkjet cartridges now only print around 200 pages; fine for occasional domestic use, but expensive for regular business printing. So let’s examine the strengths and weaknesses of the contenders:
Laser Strengths: • Despite their higher cost, some laser toner cartridges can print up to 3,500 pages, leading to bigger savings in the long run. • Shorter time taken to print first page of a job. • Higher paper capacity and speeds for big workloads. • Generally more dependable, in terms of paper pick-up, paper fee and print head reliability. • Typically more robust with higher duty cycles, delivering longer periods of uninterrupted service. • More suitable for doublesided printing.
Some laser toner cartridges can print up to 3,500 pages, leading to bigger savings in the long run
In addition to traditional methods of purchasing, managed print services are becoming increasingly popular. It eliminates the headache of maintaining disparate devices and timely ordering of cartridges to avoid downtime. These services involve an inclusive monthly fee, and include advice on using energy saving technology. As a result, return on this investment is usually rapid. Ultimately, the choice between laser or inkjet comes down to what your business needs. For high-volume, text-based printing, Weaknesses: choose laser. For smaller • Traditionally more expensive, quantities, or lots of graphics, but there are now colour laser printers available for under £150. inkjet is your friend. • Tend to be more suitable for Contact: printing text than high-def www.oki.co.uk graphics.
TECHNOLOGY British inventions
Rule Britannia, Britannia Rules the Brainwaves! We may no longer have a sprawling empire on the map, but our tentacles still reach far and wide in the realm of patents and inventions. We take a look back at some of the greatest British inventions that have contributed to the world over the past century.
Housewives (and househusbands!) everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Hubert Cecil Booth. Before his invention, cleaning floors was a tedious and time consuming job. So when, in 1901, he came up with the electric vacuum cleaner, the world became a brighter - and cleaner - place.
A little under the radar this one, but Harry Brearley is the Brit responsible for the first commercially available stainless steel. That might not sound too
impressive, but without it we wouldn’t have marvels such as the Empire State Building in NY, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, or the Gherkin in London.
Chances are you’ve been looking at one at some point today. By 2009, 78% of households had at least one. Some would argue that, whether for good or bad, nothing has changed modern family life like this invention. We are of course talking about John Logie Baird’s 1925
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TECHNOLOGY British inventions
invention, the television. The first few cost around £35 each, which might sound cheap, but that equates to about £1500 nowadays. The most expensive TV set ever? - The 18-carat gold, diamond-encrusted Stuart Hughes Rose Edition, priced at an eye-popping £1.4 million!
Want to visit Rome? That’ll be a 3 day journey from London by car. Or, thanks to Sir Frank Whittle and his 1937 invention the jet engine, today you can now make that short hop across the Alps in a mere 2 hours. Apart from the immediate advantages that helped the RAF to dominate the skies over Great Britain during WW2, the jet engine has been one of the key factors in globalisation and the boom in international business dealings.
able to boil the water for a brew without having to stand idly by. His automatic kettle was simple but brilliant, with a bimetallic strip that bends as the water boils, breaking a circuit and switching off the kettle. Milk and two sugars please!
Some of the greatest icons in music have owed a portion of their unique sound to Jim Marshall. “The Father of Loud” as he became known in the music industry, suffered a traumatic childhood riddled with debilitating illness. During 1962 he sat down with Ken Bran and Dudley Craven to concoct the Marshall amplifier and speaker stack, which went on to be used by legends such as Jimmy Hendrix, The Who and a whole host of others.
Perhaps one of the most influential things in halting the Nazi war machine during World War Two, Tommy Flowers’ Colossus computer not only deciphered encrypted Nazi messages, but was also the first electronically programmable computer in the world. Today there are estimated to be almost 2 billion computers in the world, though most are significantly smaller than the one ton Colossus.
Louise Brown, the first test tube baby, was born in 1978. Since then an estimated 5 million more babies have been born thanks to the work of British scientists Robert Edwards and Dr Patrick Steptoe. Their pioneering work led to the invention of the method for In vitro fertilisation (IVF) and has brought happiness to millions of childless couples across the world. Edwards finally received a long-overdue Nobel prize for his efforts in 2010.
Ask any Brit the best thing about returning from a holiday abroad and they will invariably say “Getting a proper cup of tea”. Even before those ne’er-do-well Yankees poured shiploads into the Boston harbour, the Brits were mad on the stuff and, thanks to Peter Hobbs, since 1955 we’ve been
It may have arrived late in the decade - 1989 to be precise - but any list of great British inventions would be remiss without the inclusion of the world wide web. Invented by Tim Berners Lee, there is an argument for it single-handedly changing the way the world communicates. Perhaps the
most impressive but often overlooked aspect is that, through the internet, people now have access to information on a scale never before possible. The balance of power has shifted in many business sectors from those with the specialist knowledge, to just about anyone with internet access. Whilst those such as estate agents, who are seeing a rise in people negotiating their own house sales thanks to information gleaned from help websites, may disagree, most will agree that this “shared knowledge database” is a huge advantage to the human race.
“Merry Christmas”. No we haven’t gone mad here at Talk Business, we know it’s summer. That was the first text message ever sent, way back in 1992. As part of a project at mobile phone company Vodafone, Neil Papworth was instrumental in the innovation of texting (SMS messaging), and his input led to what is the bane of teenager’s parents at dinner tables across the world today.
The most expensive TV set ever? The 18-carat gold, diamondencrusted Stuart Hughes Rose Edition, worth £1.4 million
Legionnaire’s disease infects an estimated 400 people each year in the UK, most of whom contract it abroad. In 2008, Ian Helmore invented SteriSpray, a shower that kills off the disease-causing bacteria in water pipes, effectively stopping the bug in its tracks. Now used across the care profession by the NHS and others in the UK, Legionnaires outbreaks are becoming rarer and rarer. Ian’s invention even featured on the popular BBC tv show “Dragon’s Den”, receiving investment from Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis.
FRANCHISE Latest stories
Franchise NEWS British gas and bfa agree new partnership
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
Fairer energy price calculations for franchises that leverage network advantage targeted
he British Franchise Association has secured a new collaboration with British Gas after the energy provider became just the fourth Brand Partner of the Association. With energy costs consistently cited by both franchisors and franchisees as having a significant impact on their bottom line in the annual bfa/NatWest Franchise Survey, the new partnership provides a welcome opportunity to drive down running costs for operators in the sector. British Gas has created an energy solution specifically tailored to
franchise brands and their ability to leverage the buying power of their network – quoting prices based on the combined energy spend of multiple businesses, rather than looking at an individual outlet’s spend. Dean Ewart, director of business markets at British Gas, said, “We know that many franchisees are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills. By using the buying strength of an entire network, we’re excited to be able to offer a solution which should help franchise business see their energy prices fall.” Contact: www.bfa.org
Jay puts his success down to “belief in the Papa John’s brand and its concept of ‘fresh ingredients, better pizza’ , as well as employing some great staff. Training is also key, particularly where there has been a lot of recruitment with the new opening. Next year I have plans to open a further outlet and, after that, who knows where it could end?” Papa John’s is one of the largest pizza companies in the world, with more than 4,450 stores worldwide. Contact: www.papajohns.com/franchise
Papa John’s franchisee, Jay Singh, opens his third franchise following previous successes.
The rail franchise has been awarded to Richard Branson’s company after original decision was overturned. fter months of bidding and political wrangling, the West Coast Rail franchise saga has been concluded with its awarding to Richard Branson’s Virgin, which has run the services out of Euston since 1997. The government overturned the original ruling that awarded the franchise to FirstGroup, after concerns were raised about the bidding process. The franchise is expected to generate in excess of £400 million for the Department for Transport, and the new agreement runs until March 2017. Branson’s Virgin, which runs services in joint-venture with Stagecoach, has pledged a number of improvements, including £20 million towards modernising stations and better WiFi connectivity on trains.
Three is a magic number for pizza franchisee eading Pizza franchise, Papa John’s, has announced that franchisee Jay Singh has opened his third Papa John’s store. The latest opening, on East Street in Farnham, will employ up to 18 staff to deliver pizza to the Hampshire town and surrounding area. “For seven years, I worked for one of Papa John’s leading franchisees and in 2010 I was able to buy my first store in Basingstoke,” explains Jay Singh. “Because of my experience, running my first Papa John’s was straightforward.”
Virgin wins out in West Coast rail saga
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Are you an introvert or extrovert? (and how this affects your choice of business)
Personality type plays a role in all aspects of our lives, including work. Before you choose the type of business you want to get involved in, try to understand your own tendencies, as well as your potential colleagues', says Matt Skinner of Dynamis
The thoughtful, more empathetic nature of introverts actually makes them good leaders
uch has been made, over the past few decades, of the effects of introversion or extroversion on our behaviour, and for a time it was considered that you were either in one camp or the other. However, Carl Jung’s initial study on these personality types, formulated a century ago, actually stated that ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ were at the extreme ends of a sliding scale and that most of us fall somewhere near the middle
with tendencies towards one end or the other. An ambivert sits comfortably at the very centre of this scale. Further to this, more recent studies have eschewed ingrained, one-dimensional stereotypes – (introverts are shy, extroverts are outgoing), in favour of a broader analysis of the motivations behind the behavioural tendencies of people who fall near either extremity of the scale. The focus here is more on where people get their strength and inspiration from than what
they actually do. An introverted type will feel more able to perform well and contribute effectively if they have had quiet time to reflect and re-charge. An extrovert will prefer to head straight for the action, with a double espresso on board, and get stuck into some productive banter. That’s not to say that more introverted folk don’t enjoy other people’s company, or feel energised after brainstorming or attending a business function, it’s just a matter of thresholds.
Where’s your baseline? without carefully considering
Interestingly, ambiverts (those who share equal traits of both types) seem to make the best salespeople
Think of it in terms of sensitivity to stimulation. If you’re an introvert, you’re more likely to feel over stimulated by intense or prolonged social interaction—and retreating at this point to digest thoughts and feelings is vital. An extrovert has what ‘60s psychologist, Hans Eysenik described as ‘a lower base rate of arousal’ - meaning they have to seek a lot more stimulation to reach the ‘normal’ state that introverts can achieve quickly. They will therefore take more risks, and embrace and effect change more readily than their more cautious counterparts. However, neither type should be considered better in terms of business. Making the most of our characteristics is key. Susan Cain’s worldwide bestseller “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, published in 2012, has helped erase the long standing stigma of introversion. Bill Gates named Cain’s TED talk one of his all-time favourites, and also embraced the notion that you can learn to incorporate advantageous behavioural aspects of either type into your work practices (hence extroverted introverts and vice versa) in order to perform better. So what does all of this mean if you are thinking of investing in a new business?
Think before you buy Think carefully about your personality type, and if it’s suited to the day-to-day interactions of the role you will play. Reflective introverts have a head start here – but extroverts beware! Don’t rush in to buying a business that excites you
the financial/practical aspects of the venture. It seems fair to say that businesses where an exuberance of character will encourage repeat custom corner stores, post offices, ice cream parlours, coffee shops and hair salons – would be a good fit for extroverted types. Introverts might get exhausted by front of house roles, so internet businesses, B&B’s, and gardening and maintenance businesses might be more appealing.
Can you be the boss? Whilst it was long assumed that extroverts perform better as leaders, recent studies have confirmed that both types have advantages in these areas. Introverts may not feel comfortable interacting with people all day long, but are fine to own a business and manage staff. The thoughtful, more empathetic nature of introverts actually makes them good leaders. In studies made by Adam Grant (Ph.D.) and his colleagues for his book “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success”, it was revealed that the success of extrovert bosses could be hampered by a lack of empathy: “Extroverts had the enthusiasm and assertiveness to get the best out of passive followers, but they hogged the spotlight in ways that stifled the initiative of proactive followers, leaving them discouraged and missing out on their ideas. Introverted leaders thrive by validating initiative and listening carefully to suggestions from below,” says Adam in an interview for The Huffington Post.
Consider the personality types of your staff Understanding our own tendencies is a good start when buying a business, but effective communication in the workplace will require making room for your employees’ personality types as well. Be aware that highly extroverted employees, though full of bright ideas, might elicit negative emotions in other staff members and inhibit teamwork. Managing extroverts requires a delicate balance of giving them the encouragement and praise they crave, whilst ensuring they don’t drown out other, quieter opinions. On the other hand, introverted staff may need time to absorb new information and should not be hounded for instant answers to questions. They are more likely to crumble if they are publically reprimanded and should be given the space to work out how they can best do their job. Interestingly, ambiverts (those who share equal traits of both types) seem to make the best salespeople. In Daniel H. Pink’s book “To Sell is Human – The Surprising Truth About Moving Others”, he reveals that extroverts tend to dominate conversations and put people off, whereas introverts can be too reserved and feel uncomfortable pitching - something to consider when hiring, if your business depends on trade. Whatever enterprise you are in, or hope to be, keep one simple thought in mind – that business is ultimately about people, and you have the power - whatever your type - to harness the best in yourself and those around you. Contact: www.dynamis.co.uk SPONSORED BY
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e u q e h c e Th n i is ! t s o p t he Frustrated by sluggish cashflow? We can release the money you have tied up in your unpaid invoices. This gives you extra working capital to grow your business and means you can concentrate on making money instead of chasing it.
Call 0800 121 7757 or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.ultimatefinance.co.uk Untitled-3 1
Effective Solutions for Auto Enrolment you can trust
Planning for Auto Enrolment Are you ready? As Auto Enrolment reaches the one million mark, many SME’s are now facing this new challenge and the additional workload it creates. esl and Friendly Pensions have together developed a complete auto enrolment solution which is simple, cost effective and efficient.
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Let esl and Friendly Pensions provide you with guidance on your own Auto Enrolment Journey. This is your opportunity to engage your employees and help provide for their future. To find out more contact esl call 01628 526304 or email us at email@example.com
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FRANCHISE Benefits of franchise
FRANCHISOR In order to assess a franchisor, it is ﬁrst necessary to understand the essence of a franchise, says Nigel Toplis, managing director of Recognition Express
ranchising is neither an industry in its own right, nor a business. It is though, one of the fastest growing and most consistently successful methods for distributing products and services. It’s a crazy mixture of conformity and individuality that combines the best elements of big business and small operations. To be successful, a franchisee must comply with the franchise system, and yet such compliance will enable the franchisee to achieve a greater level of fulfillment. The 2013 NatWest/British Franchise Association Survey into franchises across the UK highlighted that; there was a market turnover in excess of £13.7 billion, over 560,000 people employed (more than the armed forces!), and in excess of 900 active franchise systems. In Britain, there is a latent but massive and increasing desire to run our own business, and this goes across culture, race, age and social background. There is no template for being a successful franchisee – except perhaps a willingness and propensity to
work hard, acknowledgement to follow and adopt the franchisor’s system, and ultimately above all else - a desire to succeed. In franchising, success comes from the successful marriage of franchisor and franchisee. The phrase ‘in business for yourself, not by yourself’, really does capture the essence of franchising. If you open your own business you are responsible for absolutely everything, whereas with a franchise, the franchisor offers experience, know-how, proven operation methods, marketing tools, trademarks, and much more - including that allimportant brand! When selecting the right franchise for yourself there are six steps you should go through: 1 Suitability 2 Investment level 3 The industry 4 The franchisor 5 Professional advice – legal/financial 6 Making the decision All six steps are important, but we will look specifically at assessing the franchisor. A good franchise should have, at the very minimum, the following attributes:
It is not to say that non-members are poor franchisors, but bfa membership gives you added peace of mind
PROVEN BUSINESS 1 AHISTORY
Ensure the franchisor has been successfully trading for at least two years. Ask to see evidence of their trading history and their annual accounts and meet with other franchisees to get their opinion of the success of the franchisor.
DOCUMENTED 2 WELL SYSTEMS
The franchisor should have their business system documented by way of a manual (or manuals).
Ask to see the manual(s) before you sign the Franchise Agreement, and be comfortable that the systems are well thought-out, professionally presented and easy for you to understand and follow.
3 EFFECTIVE TRAINING
The franchisor should provide you with training in all aspects of the business system, including (but not limited to) sales, marketing, operations and finance. Ask to see a copy of the training programme for new franchisees.
OF 4 SECURITY TENURE
Make sure that the franchisor does actually own the franchise or at least has the rights to
FRANCHISE Benefits of franchise
operate the franchise. It is not unusual for a franchisor to run the business under a Master License agreement from another country.
Ongoing support 5 structure Ongoing support is critical and - whilst it is true that you are buying into a brand and a business system - even more you are buying into the franchisors intellect, knowhow and support. You need to be clear that they have this support structure in place.
6 bfa membership
The British Franchise Association under-go vigorous checks on franchisors before allowing them to become members. It is not to say that nonmembers are poor franchisors, but bfa membership gives you added peace of mind. You can answer a number of questions about a franchisor by doing diligent ‘desk research’. Check with the bfa, Companies House, franchise magazines, and ask the following: • Are there other franchisors in the industry? If not, why not? • Is your preferred franchisor the largest operator or a key player? • Are they an insignificant
newcomer but with a brilliant new slant? • Does it offer the best package to you as a customer? • Do the products or services enjoy repeat business? • What is the typical value of a sale – and the typical profit? • How many customers would you need to meet your minimum business projections? • Does this franchisor seem profitable? • Does this franchisor offer the best potential for growth? However, there is no substitute for meeting with the franchisor face-to-face to ascertain the real facts and figures. Try asking about: • Profitability – ask for two/three years of reports and accounts. • Knowledge – question them on the market and market trends. • Success – how long have then been in business/how successfully? • Vision – are they a serious player – or full of platitudes? • Support – ask to see detailed support plans; examine the company organisation chart; note improvements made to their systems (or not); are you forced to buy company product? Do they have the manpower and intellect in each key business area?
10 key questions to ask franchisees: • Are you making money? • Are you working long hours? • Do you get on with the other franchisees? • Has the business affected your family life? • Does the franchisor offer good support? • Do you enjoy the business? • Is the business giving you what you expected when you first came on board? • If you knew what you know now, would you still have joined the franchise? Also get a copy of the franchise agreement – they won’t change the document to suit you, but you need to be aware of its contents. Once you have met with the franchisor and if you are still happy to proceed (and they are happy to meet with you), then ask to visit/speak with some existing franchisees. So in summary, look for a franchise where the franchisor has a proven history, good systems, effective training and bfa membership; that they are a business you think you may be interested in; that you have some or most of the skills required; the investment required is within your compass; and that the industry meets your specification in that it’s large, growing and sustainable.
However, there is no substitute for meeting with the franchisor face-to-face to ascertain the real facts and figures
Contact: www.recognition-express.com SPONSORED BY
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To book your table, visit nationalbusinessawards.co.uk For more information call 0207 560 4225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Awards Partners
FRANCHISE The Fran Man
A franchise -
The ‘Fran man’ and founder of Franchise Management, Tony Mundella, looks at how franchisees view their prospects when entering the industry
ith more than 25 years in franchising, and having recruited and been involved with hundreds of franchisees in a variety of business sectors, at differing investment levels over that time, it is clear to me that there are some franchisees who take on a franchise with a business head and see it as an investment for the future, as much as an income today. Others, predominantly in the lower total investment category - but not exclusively so - look on it as a means of earning an income with a degree of security. In my opinion it should be viewed as an investment and, if it is a strong ethical franchise system that is building a brand and a good reputation in its sector, then that is what it can be. Unfortunately, there are some franchisors that promote the “job” culture in a number of ways: they will probably be relying on selling a number of franchises for their income, rather than building a strong network
or a job? If the franchisor recognises this, harnesses each franchisee’s strengths, and supports them appropriately, then the network will be much stronger that delivers a continuing and growing royalty stream; they will probably have a sizable churn of franchisees, allowing the weaker ones to give up and then sell the area again; and they will be likely to treat their franchisees more like employees. This is bad franchising. A good franchisor will work alongside his franchisees, listen to their ideas, encourage innovation and growth, and treat them as significant team members. Of course there must be the right attitude from the franchisee. This should be part of the recruitment process to ascertain that the prospective franchisee has the understanding that it is their business and that they are responsible for its success within the constraints of the franchise system. If they cannot see the value in the initial investment, and only view the bottom line, then they see it as a job. These people may be successful in their own terms by delivering the service within their area and earning an
income, but are unlikely to add to the growth and development of the brand, or be of benefit to the network as a whole. When speaking to prospective franchisors who are considering developing a franchise network, I advise them to view franchisees as investors in their business; a franchisee is putting money in and buying “shares” - in this case the rights to operate under the brand in a defined area. In any network, there will probably be a mix of dynamic entrepreneurial “investors” and steady operators who deliver the services and do a good “job”. As long as they both provide the required level of quality, professionalism and customer service, then this is how it should be. Every team needs a mix of drivers and do-ers. If the franchisor harnesses each franchisee’s strengths, and supports them appropriately,then the network will be much stronger. Contact: www.franman.co.uk Email: email@example.com SPONSORED BY
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FROM Y–FRONTS TO YVES SAINT LAURENT – CUSTOMER SERVICE IN WAG LAND Richard McConnell, The ZipYard Altrincham
he ZipYard offers a professional tailoring and alterations service in a clean, purpose build environment. Our award winning business is all about outstanding customer service. Whilst there’s no other specialist alterations and tailoring centre in the area there’s numerous businesses offering similar services and competition is great. As the top performing ZipYard and 2012 Franchisee of the Year we have raised a total of 22,500 invoices. Turnover in the first year was £174,500 from 9978 customers. In the 10 months to date of our second year we are at £238,000 from 12,675 customers and on track to hit our target of £274,000 by year end.
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EARLY DAYS As a former driving instructor I was used to dealing with members of the pubic and took pride in my level of service, so when I decided on a career change I already had a very strong customer service ethos. When we first opened it was easy to turn jobs round incredibly quickly. But as word got around and our customer numbers soared, ensuring that customers were happy 100% of the time became more difficult. We soon expanded our team of seamstresses from two to five and now employ eight full time. Working in Cheshire we are dealing with high end customers with high end expectations and it’s a great responsibility working on designer garments sometimes worth over £1,000. Famous footballers and TV celebrities
including Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor and presenter Gordon Burns bring their garments to us. Everton player Marouane Fellaini is one of our regulars. We once stayed open to fix a black tie for an awards ceremony that evening and he turned up later with chocolates for the girls to say thank you. ADDED VALUE We want our customers to believe that nothing is too much trouble. We don’t charge any extra for the express service and often carry out additional minor repairs for free. If one of the seamstresses notices a button needs replacing whilst they are turning up a hem it takes very little additional time to do the complementary work – and customers are always surprised and delighted.
Frequently people come in off the street with a button that’s just come off – we’ll fix it there and then – again for no charge confident in the knowledge that he or she will regard us as a lifesaver and talk about The ZipYard to others. SYSTEMS The sophisticated till system included as part of the ZipYard package has a customer relationship management feature which tracks customers each time they come in and allows us to make notes. If a regular is getting ready to go on holiday I can input this into the system. Then I can wish them a happy holiday when they pick up the clothes and ask them about it the next time they’re in. Building relationships is paramount– and as a result the average repeat customer visits us about once a month. Some have used us over 200 times spending several thousand pounds. Outstanding customer service means that we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes. Last year a groom and his entire male entourage turned up the day before the wedding in a panic because they had only just discovered their suits were ill fitting. We stayed open through the night to finish the work and to get the party to the church on time and looking their best.
Another customer spent over £400 altering her wardrobe after a successful diet, and an elderly lady brought in all of her clothes to be taken in - all bundled into storage boxes and carried up the high street to us. Nowadays very few people have the time or skill to mend their own clothes –and a lot of our work involves repairs - but even I was surprised when one of our regular customers brought in a pair of her son’s Y fronts for us to fix a tear! For many of our customers we have become their ‘personal’ tailors. One wellheeled man left a message on our answering machine to say his wife was bringing in a ball gown the next day so ‘please leave space on your machine’ for her. They expect a very fast service and we rarely disappoint. A regular moved out of the area but saves up his repairs until he comes back to visit friends – travelling over 160 miles for our quality of service. Grateful customers send flowers, wedding cake, thank you notes and gifts.
THE FUTURE Managing customer expectations isn’t easy and it has been a big challenge for us to be able to turn round work quickly as the volume increases. Recently we dealt with 90 paying customers in one day which is ten an hour! We already open seven days a week and are looking to employ another seamstress to focus full time on express work and have installed a second till to cope with the queues that had begun to form outside the door in busy periods. We are looking ways to extend the range of services we offer including a paid for delivery and collection service which will appeal to our busier user clientele. At the moment I manage ZipYard with the help of one other but I will be recruiting additional customer facing staff to free me up to do more marketing and work on plans to open another ZipYard in the North West.
“To Danuska with eternal thanks. You u saved my day. It means so much more than words could ever say.” - Breeda (bride) We frequently see brides who have bought a dress form the internet. On one occasion a woman came in to the centre in tears with a dress that fitted terribly –by the time we had finished she was parading up and down with a big smile on her face.
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Contact: Emma Downes T: 01530 513307 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.thezipyard.co.uk
SPONSORED ARTICLE Excaliber
Keep your head
IN THE CLOUD James Phipps, CEO of Excalibur Communications, discusses what you should be looking for in the cloud
What is cloud computing? Cloud computing is a way for a small business to access enterprise productivity platforms without the capital expenditure traditional onsite models demand. The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) put together this concept that sums up cloud computing rather nicely: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, ondemand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage,
applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
What does it mean for you? When you use a cloud computing solution, you’re renting server capacity on the vendor’s network. That capacity is flexible, always available and accessible wherever in the world you may be. There are several specific business benefits provided by cloud computing.
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Cost Operational budgets can be controlled with a much lower demand for in-house IT, maintenance and development. With less being spent on supporting your business, you have more to spend elsewhere. As you only pay for what you use, cloud computing is an exceptionally costeffective solution in almost every situation.
Speed Cloud solutions are built around being fast and responsive. Most quality cloud solution providers can provide full, unrestricted access to applications within hours.
Availability By using the cloud model, you can access your applications on the move or from anywhere in the world. You can also access them from a mobile, tablet, laptop or any connected device with the capability to use a web browser.
or service level you pay for. I don’t know of many in-house IT solutions that can provide that amount of reliability! Cloud computing is also useful for disaster recovery. As applications are accessible from anywhere, they are ideal for contingency planning.
The challenges of cloud computing The key to successful implementation of cloud solutions is not to concentrate on the risk, rather the results. No risk is ever too great to prevent you completing the task at hand.
Security A responsible cloud computing vendor should provide defence in depth that includes physical perimeter security, network security, encryption, data security, data segmentation and application-level measures such as dual authentication. Data storage must be secure against physical and logical
constraints on firms trying to go about their business. The EU Data Protection Regulation and the SarbanesOxley Act (SOX) in the US are just two of many pieces of legislation concerned with data security. The EU Data Protection Regulation is new legislation expected in 2014, which drastically strengthens the demand for data protection. It will significantly impact how we all treat customer information.
Quality of service With cloud computing being such a fast moving industry, there are many new companies being set up to provide it. With a continuously evolving business model and everimproving technologies, it’s hard to keep track of standards. Contact: ex-c.co.uk
Cloud computing isn’t an “all or nothing” solution.
Smaller businesses can begin with modest deployments and gradually increase as they grow. If you’re a seasonal or responsive organisation, you can scale up to meet demand and scale back down to reduce expense.
You can select individual applications, platforms or parts of your infrastructure. You can also access enterprise-level platforms you may not otherwise afford or be able to justify the expense.
Reliability Reliability works alongside availability to provide 24/7/365 access to the applications you need to maintain productivity. When you use the right provider, you should have in excess of 99.9% uptime regardless of the tier
error, and damage and diversity must be built into the entire fabric of the solution. Encryption should come as standard.
Compliance Compliance places increasing
Excalibur Communications (GB) Ltd provides complete IT, landline and mobile solutions to 5,500 businesses in the UK. With 20 years in the industry, it provides professionally managed, tailored solutions to all business sectors.
The journey of an entrepreneur Founded five years ago, Caridon was recently awarded the accolade of Best Service Provider in the Private Rented Housing Sector at the 2014 UKLAP Awards. Founder, Mario Carrozzo takes us on the journey of how he came to create it Early Years Mario was born in South London in 1972 to Italian immigrants and was involved in the family business from a very young age. At the age of eight, he worked in his parentâ€™s restaurant peeling potatoes in the kitchen and serving customers. His father would take him out of school sometimes to attend property auctions, and so his passion for property was nurtured very early on. This proved to be invaluable in later years. Whilst his parents were
supportive, his father had the ethos that nothing in life should be given for free, so when he left school at 16 to take over the family restaurant alongside his older brother and sister, it was only under the proviso that when he was legally old enough to get a mortgage, he would have to purchase it. Two years later he did just that, and added the first property to his portfolio. Less than a year later he had also added his first rental properties; a derelict commercial unit with an empty flat above. Mario was
not afraid to get his hands dirty and so worked alongside the builders daily, so much so that he earned his NHBC certificate, which enabled him to source the best contractors and understand every aspect of the building game. He developed both the flat and the shop himself and leased them out separately. With the combined equity from the freeholds he attained a buying power that had previously been out of his reach, thus enabling him to buy, redevelop and sell numerous residential and commercial
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SPonsored article Caridon
Mario learned an invaluable lesson that the vital component in sustaining development was cash flow
properties as well as building up a huge portfolio of rental properties. Today, he owns a multi-million pound portfolio.
overseeing contractors, and this was to remain his focus for the next five years.
Croydon Council Contract
When the recession came in 2008, like most property developers, Mario was hit quite hard, but with the support of the banks ,and through sheer determination he was able to retain the majority of his portfolio. Mario learned an invaluable lesson that the vital component in sustaining development was cash flow, especially in a market that could no longer rely on sales.
It was during this time that Mario founded his own catering company. Using his extensive background within the industry, he quickly won several tenders, including Croydon Council, Croydon Town Hall and Croydon Magistrates Court and, at the height of its success, was providing services for 5,000 of their staff. One of the last functions he catered for was a VIP event attended by thenPrime Minister, Tony Blair as guest of honour. But whilst it proved to be lucrative and was fundamental in providing cash flow for his projects, especially through the recession of the early 90s, after eight years of hard work his heart wasn’t in it and, as the recession ended, he returned to his main passion - property. He first started providing accommodation to Croydon Council’s Housing Department in 1998 and forged links with the Council are still withstanding.
Property Development Through a move to HSBC Private Bank, he was able to arrange a portfolio-related facility, which gave him a lot more buying power and flexibility. With this facility in place, he entered a new area of property development - land acquisitions and new build developments. He was directly involved in all aspects of the work, from applying for planning permission to
Caridon Property Ltd During the crash, he found it difficult to sell the development properties that he had fought to hold on to. Buyers couldn’t get mortgages or were scared to invest. He started to look towards the rental market. He found the process of dealing with management agencies tedious and inefficient and he could see a gap in the market for a new type of agency, one run by landlords for landlords, and so, in the midst of the recession of 2009, Caridon Property was born. Mario set up his desk in a small serviced office in South Croydon and started offering what, at the time, was a unique concept; guaranteed rent. Initially it was difficult to get landlords to believe this was not a scam, but once the first satisfied landlords were on board it was plain sailing. Through word of mouth and reputation, Caridon currently guarantees rent on 1,000 properties throughout all 32 London boroughs. In 2012, Mario acquired the freehold of Wrencote House, a Grade
II listed building in the heart of Croydon, and now has a team of 75 staff that ensure the smooth running of Caridon.
Family Man Mario is true to his Italian roots, and family is his number one priority. He is married with two daughters whom he hopes will take over the business one day when he decides to take a step back. Every weekend is dedicated to a local youth sports team of 8-17 year-olds. Caridon sponsors the team and Mario also helps to train the children.
Full Circle Five years on from Caridon’s inception, Mario has gone full circle and has re-focused on acquiring freeholds for conversions to new build; he currently has 500 units in the process of being converted in and around Croydon. He is proud to be part of Croydon’s ongoing transformation and the exciting changes coming over the next two years. Mario Carrozzo is a Croydonbased entrepreneur and CEO of Caridon Property, with more than 20 years’ experience in the property business.
His father would take him out of school to attend property auctions, fuelling his passion for property very early on
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SUCCESS He said/she said
He said / she said This month the entrepreneurs are tweeting about gigs, their current app fascinations, and making hard-working Brits a priority. Opinions (and spelling errors) are all their own Richard Branson @richardbranson When companies lose touch with customers, you can be sure they’ll soon lose customers http://virg.in/mks
Bill Gates @BillGates Ever wonder if mosquitoes pick on you? Well, they do. @HankGreen explains how they single you out: http://b-gat.es/UbHyWM
Words of wisdom from the Virgin founder and entrepreneur. Read our tips on customer service faux pas on page 75
Microsoft multibillionaire, Bill Gates is obviously in a summery mood as he contemplates those pesky mozzies
Dion Dublin @DionDublinsDube
Deborah Meaden @DeborahMeaden
A ”Dion Dublin Presents” event is coming to Cambridge University Arms Saturday 5th July, 1 room for live music all day & football in the other Cover star and ex-footballer Dion Dublin urges his followers to join him in Cambridge for his Ball of Sound Tour, in aid of the Prince’s Trust charity
Piers Linney @pierslinney My favourite app really is enterprise #UC & collaboration via @ Microsoft #Lync on any device http://video. ft.com/3619612717001/ What-s-your-favouriteapp-/companies … #fflondon @ravmattu #FT Dragon’s Den’s Piers reveals the app that has his fingers twitching right now. View our apps of the month on page 111
No giggling, my first job was as fashion showroom model. Didn’t enjoy but it got me out there and I learnt a lot #firstjob Now why would we giggle Deborah? The still foxy Deborah Meaden proves that where you start out isn’t always where you end up!
Ed Miliband @Ed_Miliband Those who work hard to create our nation’s wealth should share in it. If you agree, add your name here: http://labour. org.uk/pay-rise The Labour leader shares the sentiment of many hardworking Talk Business readers, whilst urging his followers to sign up to create change
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29/04/2014 14:55 10:31 29/04/2014
Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...
Published on Jul 1, 2014
Talk Business is bursting with inspiration, tips and advice to assist those entrepreneurs battling through the day-to-day struggles of the c...