Talk Business Magazine May 2014

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May 2014 £4.50

The Business Show Guide Don’t miss these highlights

Considering redundancies?

10 ways to avoid job cuts

THE START-UP ENTREPRENEUR Serial investor and entrepreneur, Raj Dhonota tells us why he’s pledged £1m to launch two start-ups every week in 2014 1

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

57 TALK strategy

Talk image

53 The branding column Rich With

95 We love… exhibitions Our favourite accessories

55 Don’t control your staff, influence them Flexible working

96 Look the business: smart shirts Fashion

57 10 ways to avoid job cuts Advice

98 Hot spots Locations for SMEs

60 Have no fear Handling redundancies

talk technology

63 Thames Valley Expo is back Preview

20 TALK Success 20 The start-up entrepreneur Raj Dhonota, serial entrepreneur and Apprentice candidate 28 A call back The Call Centre interview 31 Introducing… TB grills a young up-and-comer 33 The Business Show guide 10 of the best

65 Challenges of reaching China China and the internet 67 Born to sell: chapter one Adam Caplan 71 The sales doctor Solving your sales problems

talk MARKETING 73 The marketing column Kimberly Davis 75 Ten steps of Twitter Step seven: crediting authors 77 Avoid the junk folder Tips on email marketing

101 The accelerator Jon Bradford, the tech expert 103 Should HR be doing more video interviews? Interview methods 105 Improve internet security Web tips 107 Enhancing the fan experience User experience 109 I’ve got an app for that… Our fave business apps 110 3D printing for the masses Gadgets

TALK FRANCHISE 113 Franchise news

35 Book reviews

79 Save your marketing team Job cuts

117 Researching a franchisor Assessment

138 He said/she said What are the entrepreneurs saying this month?

talk people

121 The attributes a franchisor looks for Franchisee tips

talk MONEY 37 The funding expert Going public 40 Step two: getting the contract right Series by Simplify The Law 43 A day in the life Diary of a Start Up Loan recipient 45 Money matters The economy and current affairs 47 Make or break a business Cash flow

81 The people column Lee McQueen 83 Why do you need HR? Nine reasons 85 36% of staff leave due to a disruptive colleague Powwownow survey 87 Dealing with the job market HR Insight 88 Secret diary of an entrepreneur A week in the life of the founders of Claudi & Fin

49 A numbers game Accounting tips

91 Brought to you by Basepoint Top tips on redundancies

51 Pros & cons of forming a limited company Formation options

93 An insider’s view to director disputes Handling disagreements

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123 Take one franchisee Michele Austin, LighterLife 125 The fran man Recuriting the right franchisees

talk aDVICE 126 Barter Card 128 130 Ulimate Business Cash 132 KMC Software 134 ActionCOACH 136 Talk Business directory

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Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd T: 0203 617 4680 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. No part of Talk Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation.

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Great employees make a great business ay is a good month for most; as the weather begins to get warmer, and two bank holidays approach we can think about taking a load off for a few days. However, this is not always the case for SME owners. Figures for the financial year are in, teamed with adjusting to the introductions from The Budget. If the figures are good and the new introductions have had a positive effect, then all is well. If not, then May can be a very difficult month evaluating the future. Financial losses, limited profits and a lack of funding can haemorrhage your business. It may trigger unavoidable cut backs, such as down-sizing your office, cutting distribution, terminating projects, and making the tough decision to let valuable staff members go. Our Face on the cover, Raj Dhonota knows what it’s like to be down and out. After 18 months of trying to make his first business work, he was forced to admit defeat - not only going into liquidation but also filing for personal bankruptcy. He reveals how he bounced back on page 20. If you’re in trouble and redundancies seem like the only answer – think again. Read our ten tips on avoiding job cuts on page 57. There may be a way to save those key workers yet. Remember great employees make a great business. Unfortunately, on occasion redundancy is the only way. If this is the case, turn to page 60 to read what David Evans, an employment law expert says about handling it in the best possible way.


When it comes to losing important members of staff, it’s not always due to redundancies. Research from Talent Q, a psychometric assessment specialist, found that 37% of staff are planning to leave their job this year, because organisations are failing to retain them. With economic recovery and the job market picking up, comes ambitious employees less willing to stay in a job where they don’t feel valued. Do you have an HR department or representative? How can you run the company and assure your staff are looked after? On page 83 we outline nine reasons why you need HR, from saving money to managing performance. Plus, on page 81 Lee McQueen discusses how he regularly rewards his staff. Take care of business for now,


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Contributors & LETTERS

The experts Michelle Wright is founder of social business, Cause4. Launched in May 2009, Cause4 offers strategic support to charities, philanthropists and social enterprises. The company has worked with some of the country’s leading charitable organisations, including the Southbank Centre, National Gallery, and the National Theatre. In summer 2013 Michelle was awarded a Fast Growth Award from Unltd, and was invited by Lord Young of Graffham to become an Accelerate 250 member, as well as part of the Silicon Valley UK 100 Club for small businesses showing rapid growth and potential. Read her article on how cash flow can make or break a business on page 47.

Steve Ruffley is the chief market strategist at spreadbetting and CFD trading platform, InterTrader. Steve has had his own account on some of the biggest trading floors in Europe during the last decade, from investing for high net worth individuals at PriceWaterhouseCoopers to mentoring and risk managing the top city traders at Refco. Steve has run the trader education programme at InterTrader for several years, developing structured webinar courses to help traders identify and maintain their trading edge.

Andrew Johnson is finance director at Powwownow, a free conference call service provider in the UK. He has 11 years’ finance experience from the aviation, shipping and property sectors, including four years within telecommunications. Andrew joined Powwownow from Urban Wimax Networks PLC, where he was financial controller, and worked as a key member of its senior management team. Andrew is a chartered accountant and has a degree in accounting and finance.

Turn to page 45 to read how three stories dominating the headlines will affect our economy.

Read his article on page 85 on how 36% of staff leave their job due to a disruptive colleague.

Richard Cummings is managing director of HR Insight; he joined the firm as a human resources consultant in 2011 and has worked his way up. Richard leads a team of HR consultants, payroll specialists and employment law practitioners. Richard and his team provide HR support to clients. This support covers everything from contracts and polices to change management initiatives, including reorganisation and redundancy. Increasingly the team is working on people strategies, which include changing the way the businesses view recruitment, reward, employee relations and development. Richard discusses the basics of handling redundancies on page 87.


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

This month our readers are discussing direct debits and mumpreneurs, and retweeting our stories

Wasting time, wasting money

Tweets 0F the month... R OF E T T E L MONTH THE

Dear editor, Direct Debits (DD) and Direct Credits (DC) have undoubtedly become a cornerstone of the UK’s payment processes over the past decade, with almost six billion payments processed each year. Yet most organisations’ DD and DC set up processes are clearly still inadequate: almost a quarter of individuals (23%) have experienced a problem setting up or amending a DD or DC in the past 12 months. According to research undertaken by Redshift Research on behalf of Bottomline Technologies, 43% of finance teams spend over four hours every month fixing failed transactions, and 11% take more than 10 hours each month. Human error is unavoidable; it is only by imposing real time control that organisations can flag and address mistakes up front to reduce DD and DC failure and truly realise the benefits of more predictable cash flow. Richard Ransom Product Marketing Manager Bottomline Technologies

The rise of the mumpreneur I really enjoyed reading the news story last month [April] about the rise in the number of women with a family starting their own business. Going back to work after having children can be extremely difficult. Starting your own business gives you that flexibility that you need. Keep up the good work mums! Christina Brault Mum of two, entrepreneur of one


@KarenBrightHR An entrepreneur’s guide to hiring (and firing) staff via @talkbusinessmag @CPLondonCity @TalkBusinessMag Exciting. Can’t wait to read the #May issue. @zacharythomas This BLEW MY MIND! Fascinating. RT @BluesCityLLC: Understanding the #millennial generation http:// understanding-millennial-generation/ … via @talkbusinessmag @cleanhomeuk We’re in the #franchisor spotlight section (p.123) in @TalkBusinessMag April edition http:// @FreemanClarkeTW We share our thoughts on successful IT project management within SMEs in @TalkBusinessMag: http://bit. ly/1gGKON8 #CEO #SME @ResearchRunner Are you thinking of starting a #business? Today is the day via @talkbusinessmag Why not give us a call! @awillige Reading: ‘How to manage IT projects successfully as an SME’ - by @FreemanClarkeTW (client) in @TalkBusinessMag

MAY 2014

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Dates for the diary

Business Junction Networking Events 14 May Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe 28 May Century Club, Shaftesbury Avenue 5 June The Hide at The Bull, Bishopsgate

19 June Puma Hotel, Oxford

The Business Show 2014 15-16 May ExCel London

Kent 2020 Vision Live 14 May Kent Event Centre, Maidstone

Thames Valley Expo 12 June Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon

Sterling Integrity 16 May The Village Hotel, Solihull 6 June The Village Hotel, Swansea

The Mobile Innovations Awards 8 July Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London.

Online Retail Conferences 16 September Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington eCommerce Expo 1-2 October Olympia, London Successful Selling Expo 16 October RICOH, Coventry

A third of employees plan to leave their current role in 2014 NEW RESEARCH FROM Talent Q, a psychometric assessment specialist, reveals that organisations are failing to motivate employees and retain staff adequately. Talent Q’s latest report, Putting the ‘I’ into engagement, is an indepth survey of 1,255 employees, across sectors and job roles, which examines post-recession employee attitudes and individual workplace concerns. Research in the report reveals 37% of employees are planning to leave their job in the next 12 months; suggesting UK companies are on the brink of a mass talent exodus. It also reveals nearly a third (30%) of employees are unmotivated in their job, with 10% claiming to be “very unmotivated”. Lucy Beaumont, solutions director at Talent Q, comments: ‘The overriding message here is that, across the board, a significant proportion of employees are unmotivated, disengaged and ready to leave their current role.


With 81% of employees agreeing they would be more engaged and energised if employers understood their motivations, it’s clear that understanding what motivates an individual employee is a key piece of the talent management jigsaw that cannot be overlooked. ‘Our research clearly highlights the need to assess individual motivation. It also clearly demonstrates the need to empower line managers with tools and resources to engage with employees. Looking closely at line manager relationships with staff, more than half (51%) disagreed with the statement “my line manager adapts their working style to suit me”, suggesting that line managers are failing to get the best out of team members’ because they are not treating them on a personal and individual level.’ For further information visit: drives/?s=drives

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Technology “blind spot” is risk for SMEs, new research reveals THE LLOYDS BANK UK Business Digital Index showed that there is a positive correlation between digital maturity and SMEs’ confidence in their own enterprise; however, almost a third of small firms believe going online is irrelevant for their business. It also found that only half of SMEs have a website and on the whole, those that do are only providing basic functionality, while a third of businesses are without basic online skills and don’t invest money in improving digital skills. Lloyds Banking Group director for digital, marketing, and customer development, Miguel-Angel RodriguezSola said: ‘Most businesses do use digital technology in some shape or form. However there is a real blind spot for many firms who are doing the basics but can’t see the benefits of doing more. ‘Businesses that are willing to invest for the long term could reap huge rewards from digital technology. Some of the benefits are quick wins, but businesses that really do focus on making digital technology a priority may

even find that they can capitalise more easily on growth opportunities, and that their confidence continues to rise.’ However, the study showed more than a third of SMEs felt they were already doing all they could to maintain

and improve their digital presence. On the whole, the region with the most firms without basic online skills is the North West (38%) followed by East Midlands (35%), Yorkshire and Humberside (34%).

31% of businesses expect to grow through M&A THE GRANT THORNTON International Business Report (IBR) reveals that global M&A activity has risen from this time last year. The results confirm that leaders of the world’s most progressive businesses view acquisitions as an important means to supplement and boost their existing operations. The IBR data shows that 31% of businesses globally expect to grow through M&A over the next three years, up from 28% in 2012. However, this rises to 55% of dynamic businesses, and is a pattern repeated across all regions. In addition, the last year has shown businesses putting these plans into action, with 39% confirming that they have seriously considered at least one acquisition during the past 12 months.


Mike Hughes, global leader for M&A at Grant Thornton, said: ‘The results are important on three levels. Firstly, the global increase in forecast M&A activity is another sign that the recovery is on a firmer footing, and that the focus of businesses is moving away from simply staying afloat towards a growth agenda. ‘The second is how important M&A is to the fastest growing businesses in the world, as they seek to access new markets and new pools of talent and technology to maintain their competitiveness. ‘Finally, the evidence that these businesses are actually investing time and funding into investigating acquisitions now, rather than just stating an aspiration to acquire in the future, is a great indicator of a robust market.’

MAY 2014

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The Start-Up Entrepreneur

Serial entrepreneur and investor, Raj Dhonota tells Dawn Murden how he bounced back from bankruptcy, and why he has pledged ÂŁ1million to help launch two start-ups a week in 2014

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It was a traumatic rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t change it

aj Dhonota is a serial entrepreneur and investor, and it’s clear his passion lies in SMEs and start-ups. You may recognise him from the first series of BBC’s Apprentice, where he featured alongside candidates like Lee McQueen. Even though the series put him in the public eye – he maintains it was “the least enjoyable experience” of his life, because the show does not portray real business. Raj studied law at Anglia Ruskin University. When he finished his degree he went to work in a bank, but soon realised it wasn’t for him and set up his own company, H for Homes. Unfortunately, after 18 months the company was making losses and Raj had to make a tough decision. He put the company into liquidation and filed for personal bankruptcy. ‘It was a traumatic rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t change it,’ he told me. ‘It made me more appreciative.’ He quickly picked himself up and tried for three years to launch



another company. Success came after The Apprentice with his company, Global Proximity – an outsourcing company. Within three years he grew it into a multi-million pound business before selling it to focus on other ideas. Raj is involved with a number of ventures; one of these is Igniva Solutions, a software development firm, which, as CEO, he has helped grow to a team of 400 with a turnover of £2 million per year. Raj’s main interest is helping people start a business, and he says this stems from his first failed business. ‘I want to help people,’ he told me. ‘I believe if I had the help of a mentor and more funding, my first business would have been successful.’ And that’s why he has set up the Start-Up Entrepreneur on his website, pledging a fund of £1 million that he will invest in entrepreneurs and start-ups, of any age and sector. Raj is looking for ventures that offer something new. He also explained he is not risk-averse, meaning he will enjoy backing the more riskier options, rather than simply the ones offering the safest ROI. He has been accepting applications since January and aims to help launch two startups each week during 2014. We met Raj to find out more about his first venture, and how it shaped his future…

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WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS VENTURE? After I graduated from law, I didn’t want to go down that path. I worked at a bank for seven months, but I didn’t like the politics. Employment wasn’t for me. So I did my own thing, called H for Homes. It was a new age estate agents, with local realtors and no high street shop, like the US model. We launched across Kent and South East London. We had people with a local path, canvassing. We went from zero properties to 400 in 18 months. But even after 18 months we were making losses. It was a struggle from day one. We had to go into liquidation and I had to file for personal bankruptcy. It was my first business, and my first failure. There are now examples of this model in the industry doing well. My idea was right; I just needed a mentor and more money. HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START-UP CASH? I bootstrapped with personal loans, credit cards, and savings from my gap year. WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST STRUGGLES AND CHALLENGES YOU FACED AS A NEW BUSINESS? Finance was always an issue. There are more funding options available now, but even so, to access these you need to prove your concept before you secure investment. If I had a second chance with my first business, I would have executed it differently. I think it’s important to have a mentor – to help guide you. When people come to us for funding, when we talk about our experience, they want the expertise more than the money.


HOW DID FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY AFFECT YOU? I kept going with the business, determined to make it work. I didn’t know how or when to stop. I should have stopped sooner. Bankruptcy is the biggest setback in your life. I felt like I’d not only failed myself, but my family too. The desire was always there to come back. It made me more determined. I spent three years trying lots of businesses but they didn’t work. The only thing that got me through was

perseverance. I went from a middle class family to living on a council estate. I’ve never been materialistic and it wasn’t about the money, but my biggest fear was looking back and realising I hadn’t tried. I had to try.

I think it’s important to have a mentor – to help guide you

WHAT MADE YOU LAUNCH THE START-UP ENTREPRENEUR? I love to take an idea and develop it, add value and see it succeed. I have met a lot of talented people who don’t have confidence, money, the means, or know-how. It’s not just about the funding, we help businesses grow, and prevent them from failing. When I went bankrupt, I lost my flat, but I was lucky, I didn’t have children. Some people can’t afford to go bankrupt. In every business you have setbacks but we are there to guide them. I’ve always had the passion to help start-ups, and people from every walk of life. I’ve been investing on and off for a number of years. YOU ARE CEO OF IGNIVA, A SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT FIRM. WHY DO YOU TAKE A BIG ROLE IN THE COMPANIES YOU INVEST IN? It’s a similar business to StartUp Entrepreneur, because it has a big focus on SMEs. I am an active investor, so I like to have a steer on the business. I don’t go out and sell services, but I become a big part of the strategy and expansion. I believe in aggressive growth, and I make sure everyone is focused on what needs to be achieved. It also safeguards my investment by being active. The start-up stats are risky – I think around 50% of businesses fail. IS THERE EVER TENSION WHEN YOU TRY TO STEER BUSINESSES? We do get resistance. I remember we had a guy from

MAY 2014

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My life I’m watching: Only Fools & Horses – I love Del Boy and Rodders. I’m reading: The Economist & Talk Business. I’m listening to: Eminem – I like his lyrics and listening to him at the gym. I also like ‘80’s and ‘90’s music, because it reminds me of university. I’m surfing: The BBC for news. I like reading blogs to see how people’s opinions differ from my own, and entrepreneur forums.

France pitching for £250,000 for a mobile app he’d created. I tried to work with him, and suggested a soft launch with a start up budget, and then make it bigger gradually, but he thought I was trying to strip his business down too much. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE INVESTING? We invest in people. A great idea helps, but what really matters is the person. I’ve seen great people make a not-so-great idea work. I like hungry people. They have to be motivated. And be able to deal with setbacks. I’m looking for drive. If a person comes in and just expects to be the next Facebook or Twitter, that’s no good. ON YOUR WEBSITE YOU SAY THE APPRENTICE IS ONE OF THE “LEAST ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCES” OF YOUR LIFE.


I’ve seen great people make a not-so-great idea work

WHY IS THIS? It was marketed as a challenge, being pitted against the 14 best entrepreneurs in the country, and I liked the idea of the challenge. But that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t about business; it was a reality TV show about ratings and entertainment. I’m not interested in celebrity stuff, and it bored me. There were some highlights, but I think the show gives business the wrong impression. It can be damaging due to the way it’s edited, portraying someone in a particular way. Like editing loads of “umms” and “errs” together. I would steer clear of it, and I told Alan Sugar that too.

DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO YOU SWEAR BY? Yes; if you believe, have the confidence and perseverance to do it. I also love the quote on

my website: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” by German writer and politician, Goethe. YOUR NEW BUSINESS, STEPOVERSEAS IS LAUNCHING THIS MONTH, TELL US ABOUT IT… It’s a platform that will help SMEs take advantage of other economies, like China and India. First it is launching for the property market – it will be kind of like Rightmove, but on a global scale. A global audience will be able to view residential and commercial properties, lets and land in their language, and SME’s will be able to advertise their properties to a global audience, with translation included. We will also be launching platforms for wholesalers, retail, etc. Contact: Twitter: @Raj_Dhonota

MAY 2014

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Tony Ramirez, Head of Sales at Exterion Media tells us why Outdoor advertising in London is important for any business.


Why should I be using Outdoor advertising in London?

Not only is it easily the UK’s largest urban area, Londoners themselves are a unique audience. They’re younger, hyper-connected, opinion leaders with high levels of disposable income. There’s also a huge amount of them! London represents over 12% of the UK’s population* so by advertising in London you can easily extend the reach and visibility of your campaign. What’s more, Outdoor advertising and London go hand-in-hand. With 24 million journeys being made across the TfL network each day,** Outdoor advertising reaches and engages with audiences in ways other mediums simply cannot match.


Surely only larger brands can afford to advertise in London?

Absolutely not! In fact, with our huge range of formats across the capital, advertising in London with Exterion Media is so much more accessible than you might think. We tailor our advertising solutions to your budget, whatever its size, to make sure your budget works as hard as possible for you. Plus, advertising in London isn’t just for London businesses. We can give your business the presence and stature of a national brand by placing advertising in areas where you will be seen by the capital’s influential audiences.


Why should I use Exterion Media to reach the London audience?

From the iconic red buses and London Underground, to the


WE KNOW YOUR LOCAL AUDIENCE shopping Cities of Westfield, we dominate London with our media and provide unrivalled access to the capital’s valuable audiences. Quite simply, we are London. What’s more, we’re single-minded in our commitment to understanding Londoners. Our unique play. online urban community of over 6000 Londoners provides us with up to the minute behavioural and attitudinal insights on a wide range of subjects. We also know how best to reach them using our London Worker Planning Tool - the only media neutral way to target London workers.


which stations people use, and the advertising sectors they’re most likely to be receptive to. Moreover, we have first-hand experience of what targeting influential Londoners can do for your brand. With specialists in all audiences and business sectors, and experienced account managers who know their area inside-out, we can make specific, tailored recommendations based upon what we know works. In short, we do the hard work so you get results!

There’s such a varied and extensive audience in London. How do you go about targeting a specific demographic?

Through our in-depth knowledge of the capital and our unique audience research tools we know how people travel around London, and where different audience types will be at each point in the day. We know

To find out how Exterion Media can ensure that your local area knows about your business visit for the whole story. Source: *ONS ** TfL

28/04/2014 17:55 10:24 25/04/2014

Credit: Interview Hub and BBC

You’re either a leader or you’re not

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or Nev Wilshire, the businessman at the middle of BBC Three’s fly-on-the-wall show, The Call Centre, it’s a life of ups and downs. Since embarking on a tumultuous career in the world of sales, he has gone from being an entrylevel rep straight out of sixth form, to a no-nonsense manager who owns his own company. We spoke to the larger-than-life boss and found out what it is that drives him. ‘Yes, I would consider myself a natural leader,’ the booming Welshman tells us. ‘I think that leadership quality is in me. You’re either a leader or you’re not.’ Currently the CEO of the Swansea-based Save Britain Money Group, an award-winning business that also spawned its own BBC TV show, it’s fair to say that Nev has the credentials to back up his beliefs. Described by some in the media as a reallife version of David Brent from The Office, Nev Wilshire was catapulted into fame when a documentary about the working day in his company was aired. Behind the workplace bravado, on screen sackings, and spontaneous requests for office karaoke, however, we wanted to know more about the man who describes himself as a “footballkicking, catchphrase-loving, man of the people”… ‘My first inclination of wanting to be a businessman was when I was about 17. I was doing my A-levels and I thought that was what I wanted to be. I did my A-levels and then took a year out to make some money and just get a job – and of course, once you’ve started earning money it’s difficult to give it all up!’ he says. ‘By the time I was 19, I was repping for a company. The sales were good, and they were going up and up. The division I got involved with was number



A call back We meet Nev Wilshire, the businessman at the heart of hit BBC Three programme, The Call Centre

By the time I was 28, I was a millionaire; by the time I was 38, I was bust

14 in the area out of 23 when I started, and I got it to be number one within two years. However, because I was so young, I was getting paid less than everybody else, which I took exception to. So when I was 24, I decided to branch out and go on my own.’ Grabbing life by the scruff of the neck as a young man, Nev went on to describe the reality of going it alone. ‘So, I started my own business when I was 24. By the time I was 28, I was a millionaire; by the time I was 38 I was bust,’ he exclaims. ‘It’s life. When you’re 17, you know it all. When you’re 19, you could run the country. When you’re 30, you don’t know quite so much, and when you’re 40, you realise you know nothing, when you’re 50... you realise what you did know, you’ve forgotten!’ On television, Nev’s riotous personality has gained him a devout fan following. His managerial style oscillates between enforcing strict rules, before encouraging people to break into song to improve office morale – “Happy people sell” appears a mantra. Also well known to the cult following of the show, is Nev’s allegiance to Swansea City FC. With a sigh he tells us, ‘It hasn’t just been an up and down season, it’s been a down and out season!’ But he also reinforces the fact that he knows the “Swans” will come back. It seems that his faith in the boom and bust cycle is apparent in all aspects of his life. Similarly, Nev goes on to describe the situation his company

is in when it comes to making long term business models. ‘Well, obviously we have plans as to where we want to take the business, but when we’re dealing with Government grants, all of a sudden the Government will change the grants and there’s nothing we can do about it. You’re up one minute and down the next. It’s just the way they do things.’ A sensible man might doubt Nev’s cavalier approach to the world of business, but his “who dares wins” attitude seems to be working for the self-made man from South Wales. Indeed, as Charles Darwin wrote “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” So, perhaps Nev’s fearless approach to the cutthroat world of business will help him adapt and remain successful. Oh, and we’re told that a spot of singing is conducive to a happy office... The Call Centre airs on BBC3 from 8 April at 9pm and series one is available on DVD from 14 April

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24/04/2014 14:56

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reative Writing Magic Money Cards are sold to schools and families. They help 9-15 year-olds improve their English skills and score top marks in exams. Parents write to Crawford telling him that the system has really improved their children’s results, and some adults add that it has helped them too.


WHERE’D THE IDEA COME FROM? In my last year of primary school, I wanted to improve my own creative writing and my test scores in class. When my idea and the system I developed worked well for me, then I thought that it might be able to help others. Experts offered me some great advice, including the chief executive of a leading printing company who luckily had children my age. For two years my idea was successfully tested with families and schools and then we launched.


This month we speak to Crawford Johnston about founding Creative Writing Magic Money Cards, aged just 16


Crawford Johnston

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS TRYING TO GET AN IDEA OFF THE GROUND? Young people have fertile imaginations creating plenty of ideas. Some of those ideas might be able to become businesses. If an idea works really well, and if the market is big enough (you develop useful skills when analysing the potential size of any market), then I would say, “go for it” – but listen to all the expert advice you can get before

Young people have fertile imaginations creating plenty of ideas

you push the “spend button”. Depending on the market, legal protection is important, too. I was fortunate enough to have city lawyers lead me through the process after inviting me to speak at their business club. Ask for advice in all directions – and listen hard. IF YOU WEREN’T AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING TODAY? I am 16 and just about to sit my GCSEs, so I’ll be at school, and then hopefully university for the next few years. I love science, but I haven’t decided what route to take yet - but as a music scholar, music is and will remain, a big part of me, so I’ll say “I’d be a musician.” WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED AS A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR? I met Mike Greene, from Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire, at a charity launch where I had been invited to perform, and he gave me his book and some great advice: to write down my challenges and aims. This advice means that my biggest challenge for my business will always be my next aim.

WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING? My iPad alarm, which sings the weather forecast for the day! Failing that – my mum. HOW MUCH DOES MONEY MOTIVATE YOU? Money is not at the top of my list, but it certainly doesn’t come too low down (because university fees are looming).

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT? Just getting this far with everything makes me pretty proud. It’s great to have sales’ across five continents, and I am getting quite a kick out of how many islands have customers using my system – from the Shetlands to Singapore and from Ascension Island to Manhattan. WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE? I will have to learn and experience a great deal more before I can answer that question – but always having something to aim for will certainly be part of the answer. Contact:

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The Business Show – 10 of the best EXHIBITORS The show floor will be packed with 360 market-leading exhibitors, featuring the biggest brands in business alongside innovative SMEs. Here is our top ten with their stand numbers: • 3M - 2126 • Alibaba - 2520 • Experian - 2320 • Intellectual Property Office 2790 • Rockstar Mentoring - 1956 • Royal Bank of Scotland - 1980 • - 1750 • School For Startups - 1526 • Start-Up Loans - 1916 • Verisign - 2380 SPEAKERS Learn from the best. Britain’s leading business experts share their secrets in an exclusive schedule of more than 250 seminars. Make sure you don’t miss these essential addresses: • Charles Rolls, founder of international premium drinks brand, Fever-Tree • Clive Rich, the £10bn negotiator • Doug Richards, former BBC Dragon and serial entrepreneur • Facebook • Graham Corfield, the UK managing director of JUST EAT • LinkedIn • London Stock Exchange • Martyn Dawes, founder of Coffee Nation • Saatchi & Saatchi X • Will King, multiple awardwinning businessman and founder of King of Shaves WORKSHOPS There will be 170 interactive training sessions across the two days of the show – all led by experts. There’s workshops on:

Planning to go to the show? Here’s our quick guide, which shows you what not to miss at ExCeL, London on 15-16 May • Branding • Business planning • Cloud computing • Email marketing • Franchising • Get online • Mentoring • Protect and grow your business • Raising finance • Start-up strategy ALSO DON’T MISS… Llive show features, from networking events to your chance to pitch for investment: • Angels Den Pitch to a panel of multimillionaire investors and grow your business fast. • Business Connections Connect with thousands of new prospects, partnerships and suppliers. • Businesses For Sale Live Everything you need to know about buying or selling a business. • Facetime From branding to tax; your problems solved by an expert. • The Growth Strategy Boardroom Troubleshoot your business with like-minded individuals, led by an expert. • Midas Touch 5 minutes. 4 millionaires. 1 pitch. Will they invest in your start-up? • Speed Networking Meet 40 new contacts in 40 minutes. • Tweet Meet Bringing your social media contacts into the real world. • 4Networking 121 Roadshow Make real contacts and grow your business network fast.

CO-LOCATED SHOWS Giving you even more opportunities to establish or expand your business, running alongside The Business Show and Business Startup this May will be: • Accountex The UK’s only national exhibition for accountants and finance directors working in practice, business and the public sector. • Global Enterprise Mobility, Workforce & Travel Management 2014 Entirely dedicated to international trade – including enterprise mobility management, workforce management and travel management. • Going Global Going Global is the top UK national exhibition for businesses that are looking to expand internationally. • Legalex The UK’s only exhibition for solicitors and legal professionals, dedicated to the business needs of your firm. • Office Management & PA Giving office professionals, buyers and decision makers an educational and inspirational day out of the office. • Sales Innovation Expo The largest UK event for sales leaders equips you with the latest systems and tools to improve sales performance. FREE TICKETS Tickets are completely free and available at: thebusinessshow. or call 08000 686970

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Book reviews Forget Strategy. Get Results.

How Top Management Organizes and Mobilizes for Innovation By Jean-Philippe Deschamps & Beebe Nelson

About the authors: Jean-Philipe Deschamps is an innovation management practitioner with 40 years of international consulting experience. He joined IMD in 1996 as Professor of technology and focuses on research, teaching and consulting. Beebe Nelson has worked as an innovation and product development consultant and facilitator for the past 25 years. She has given lectures on innovation topics.

Our verdict:

About the author: Michael Tobin is CEO of the data centre provider, TelecityGroup plc. In October 2007, Michael successfully floated the company on the London Stock Exchange, and now it is a major FTSE250 technology stock.

Forget Strategy. Get Results. is published by Wiley, priced at £16.99 in paperback.

Innovation Governance

Our verdict:

Radical Management Attitudes That Will Deliver Outstanding Success By Michael Tobin, OBE

We say: This book is controversial, thought provoking, and at times, very entertaining. Michael provides a fresh way of thinking to successfully manage any sort of business.


Get Things Done What Stops Smart People

Achieving More and How You Can Change By Robert Kelsey

We say: Innovation governance (defined by the authors as organisational leadership at the corporate level) is a hot topic in the business world. The authors say it is often neglected in many companies. Innovation Governance is published by Jossey-Bass, priced at £29.99 in hardcover and e-book.

Our verdict:

About the author: Robert Kelsey is a successful writer and entrepreneur. Robert’s failures lead him to become a self-help addict, and inspired him to write his own books. Roberts first book What’s Stopping you? has sold 50,000 copies to date. We say: Many of us have the greatest intentions but find ourselves procrastinating, which results in low attainment and frustrated ambitions. This book examines why readers might have these tendencies, and teaches how to overcome them. Get Things Done is published by Capstone, priced at £10.99 in paperback.

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

035 SUCCESS Book 55


29/04/2014 15:58

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

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

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


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money or most of the last five years, the IPO runway has been fog bound, with brief breaks in the weather when a few of the queuing planes have been able to get off the ground. For about a year now, the fog has lifted and the number of companies taking off has dramatically increased. With most performing well in the after-market, investors have been making money, which provides a healthier environment for other companies considering a public listing. To put it in perspective, in the first three months of 2014, 28 UK companies floated on either AIM or the main market, raising £3.7 billion, which compares against 13 companies raising £1.6 billion in the same period last year. This is good news for investors and companies, providing another route for an exit as opposed to selling to a different set of private investors or another company. But what are the considerations for companies?


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS? There are numerous benefits for companies and management teams, but to name just a few of the main ones: • raising new money for the company • providing a tool to motivate and retain talent – equity in a private company is difficult to value and illiquid; not so a public company • exiting without a change of control – an IPO may enable large shareholders to sell down a proportion of their shareholding, but retain an exposure to any further increase in value • enhancing the credibility and reputation of the

Going public as a viable exit option Our funding expert, Julian Smith discusses the benefits of IPOs company through increased disclosure and discipline from regular reporting • giving another currency for acquisition The benefits will differ on the specific circumstances, and of course, need to be weighed against the costs or downsides of pursuing an IPO.

28 UK companies floated on either AIM or the main market, raising £3.7 billion

REASONS NOT TO IPO It mostly comes down to capital. If you do not need to raise money, either to allow investors to crystallise their investment or to raise capital for the company, then maybe the other benefits are not appealing enough to offset the increased cost and scrutiny that comes with being a public company. WHICH MARKET TO IPO ON? There is more than one market place for companies to list their shares, with the three principal marketplaces being ISDX (operated by ICAP), AIM and the Main Market (both operated by the London Stock Exchange). They all have different requirements for companies to list and to adhere to thereafter. The Main Market comprises larger and more established companies, but has recently introduced the High Growth segment to appeal to mid-sized technology companies that might not meet the minimum 25% free float (shares in public hands) test, and was recently used by Just Eat in its successful IPO.

AIM and ISDX are more suited to younger companies with more flexible requirements for listing. In terms of size, there is no minimum and you certainly do not have to be a huge company to have a successful IPO and aftermarket. By way of example, Blur Group floated in October 2012, raising £4 million at a £20 million valuation. Today, it is worth six times that at £130 million. SO WHAT DO YOU NEED? Firstly, to attract investors, you need a strong equity story – and that’s largely about having a credible growth plan with a defensible market position, a strategy in place, and a team to execute it. Secondly, you need to appoint an external team to help you – you are likely to have an accountant and a lawyer in place, but are they qualified for the job? You will also need a financial adviser/broker to provide advice on the relevant listing rules and to help you sell the shares to investors. The process of going public is a bit like stripping an engine, checking that all the right parts are where they are meant to be, putting it back together again and publishing the manual for investors to read. Once the team has been appointed, its time to buckle up and enjoy the ride that will take up your life for four months or more… Contact: Twitter: @lefundingexpert

037 MONEY Funding 37


24/04/2014 15:02

Do you want your customers to feel appreciated, remain loyal to your brand or service and reorder regularly?

Promotional products make almost six times as many recipients feel appreciated than the mediums of Print, Web, Direct Mail or TV*

Promotional products motivate over twice as many recipients to take action than the mediums of Print, Web, Direct Mail or TV*

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What could effective use of promotional products do for your business this year?

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Step two:

Getting the contract right ast month we talked about how to negotiate a good deal. This month we talk about turning the deal into a contract without losing sight of the goals.


WHY DO WE NEED A CONTRACT? So, let’s say that you’ve done the hard part – negotiating the deal. After all, that’s what we’re all in business for, isn’t it? You know you have an agreement in principle, but now you need to be sure that it is going to give you the benefit that you want for your business – and that’s where the nitty gritty of the contract comes in. Getting the contract right is key to getting the best from your deal: it makes things clear and certain and sadly, necessarily sets out what will happen should things go wrong. Sometimes, merely seeing what the consequences of problems will be, helps the parties take extra care to make sure they don’t arise. The most important thing is that both (or all) parties are clear about everything they are agreeing to. A signed or electronically authenticated final version of the contract, showing that everyone intends to be bound


Simon Hetherington leads the legal author team for simplifythelaw., a company that helps SMEs solve legal issues for free. Here he explains how to make your contracts work for you

Getting the contract right is key to getting the best from your deal

by it, will ensure that there is no doubt about that later on. The contract may contain, in the same document, all the terms that cover the agreement, and in a small contract that may be most convenient. But it is also very common to incorporate a party’s standard terms and conditions (‘T&Cs’) by referring in the main contract to a separate document, in which the standard T&Cs are set out. Typically, they tend to be on the reverse of an order form or on a website. HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TERMS TO USE? First you need to be aware that the terms and conditions that are likely to be appropriate will depend on a number of factors: 1. Is the other party a business or a consumer? This sounds like a pretty straightforward question, and indeed it is, but it’s really important. For example, if you are dealing remotely – via the internet, say – and you are using standard T&Cs, then it may not always be obvious in what capacity the

other party is contracting. It makes a difference to the terms you can have in your contract, and the law protects consumers in a number of ways that may not be mentioned in the contract (we’ll be covering the particular issues about dealing with consumers next month). 2. Does your business sell goods or provide services? There are various differences between these, which the contract will need to deal with – for example, how you measure when the contract has been satisfactorily performed, both in terms of time and quality. 3. Is this a one-off deal or a continuing arrangement? An on-going relationship between two parties would be best contained in a ‘supply contract’. If it is a long-term deal, there will need to be particular provision for its duration or termination. STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS Chances are that, although your business will have dealings with

MAY 2014

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Make sure that you can deliver your side of the bargain

many other people, you will often be covering much the same ground in each case. For this reason, you can develop your own standard T&Cs to fit your business, without wasting valuable time. And many terms, especially those to do with payment, termination, quality of work, warranties and intellectual property rights, can be drafted using variations of established contractual clauses. Some of the things you may need to consider, either as part of the standard T&Cs or as part of the main contract, include: price (VAT, postage & packing costs), payment terms (including interest for late payment), warranties from the seller, etc. Standard T&Cs do not usually include specific details, such as price or delivery dates. Those clearly need to be set out in the principal contract documents. Anything intended to form part of the contract should be clearly referenced and incorporated. Whose standard terms take precedence? If you are dealing with another business, you may both have your own set of standard T&Cs. There is no rule saying that the buyer’s take precedence over the seller’s

040_041 MONEY Evident 41

or vice versa; generally the last set of standard T&Cs referred to in negotiation will apply. So you should always attach your own standard T&Cs in correspondence and refer to them specifically; and specifically reject or accept the other party’s T&Cs before the contract is acted on. Make sure that you can deliver your side of the bargain. And especially, if you are using the other party’s T&Cs, make sure that there are no terms in it that you couldn’t meet – overdemanding delivery schedules for example, or unrealistic service level thresholds. If you think there may be a need to change the terms of the contract later, make sure that the T&Cs allow for a variation without undue penalty. We’ll talk about how to manage problems and disputes in a future article. ADMINISTRATION Contracts do not have to be physically signed to be legally binding – electronic confirmation may be enough if it is clear that it is intended to confirm agreement. But it may be good practice, especially if the contract has a high value, to have signed hard copies to avoid doubt. Unless you agree otherwise, you should assume that the date of the contract is the date on which the last signature is applied. If the parties meet to sign the documents, this issue does not arise. And don’t forget – the contract is not a dead document as soon as it’s signed. Make sure that you and your staff or subcontractors review it regularly so that it remains a good guide to how the deal is going and how to head off any difficulties before they arise.



To turn your negotiated deal into a binding contract on the right terms, ask yourself the following questions: 1. Am I dealing with a business or a consumer? 2. Is this a one-off deal or an ongoing relationship? 3. Are you selling (or buying) goods or services? 4. Is it clear where all the contractual terms are set out? 5. Are the main terms clear: price, time, duration and termination? 6. Is it clear how the contract is to be carried out, and what constitutes satisfactory performance? 7. Do my standard T&Cs cover this deal? 8. Do I need to add any specific clauses to the standard T&Cs? 9. Have I ensured that I have referred to my own T&Cs in all correspondence, and rejected the other party’s, if appropriate? 10. Is the other party trying to impose obligations that I can’t fulfil? 11. How is the contract to be signed: electronically or on hard copy? 12. Do I know what to do if things go wrong later? If you know the answer to these questions, you’re well set for a good and profitable business deal. If you’re not sure where things stand, take the time to check your negotiations and correspondence and get the right terms down in the right contract to ensure that this deal delivers the benefits you need. For more information, and to draft the above mentioned contracts, visit:

Next month: Doing business with consumers: the pitfalls and protections that you need to be aware of.

24/04/2014 15:06

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A day in The life This month, our Start Up Loan recipient, Alex Schlagman reveals a typical day running his personalised shopping app

DEAR DIARY Breakfast is the only thing that never changes day to day. Tea and a banana while talking to my co-founder, Colin as his train chugs through South London towards Waterloo. We discuss priorities for the day ahead and any questions that are keeping either of us up at night. This morning I’m meeting my CFO, David to go through our updated financial forecast. We have decided to make a significant update to our product strategy that affects our revenue model just as we’re getting ready to pitch for angel investment. Everyone involved is excited by the update, but the pressure is on to get our business plan aligned ASAP. David is delivering. He’s burnt the midnight oil updating our P&L and cash flow projections. Within an hour, we’re both confident the numbers match the words. I leave David to run some sensitivity analysis on the updated model. Over the weekend, Colin has designed mock-ups reflecting our updates to the product strategy, and all three of us have noted the features we should focus on now, next, and later. It’s decision time and while we initially disagree on a few points, we find common ground and agree the new scope for version one of Zim – our minimum viable product for public release.




I’m meeting a professional investor called James in under an hour, but beforehand I need to add our updated financial summary and the new product demo to our investment pitch deck. I do most of this sitting on a Central Line train. I end up arriving 30 minutes before James. We were introduced by one of my mentors two weeks ago. I’ve already had a call with him and shared a one-page executive summary. Now it’s time to blow him away with our pitch! I’d planned to take him through a carefully constructed presentation outlining and validating our investment thesis. This goes out of the window as I jump around the story following his questions. He agrees there is a big market opportunity here. We arrange to meet again in two weeks to introduce Colin, my head of technology, go through in more detail regarding our plans, and update on our progress. After update calls with Colin, David and a couple of my mentors, I head to the gym for a swim, steam, shower and a change of socks! I’m going to an event at Google Campus, where I base myself most days. At this Dragons Den-influenced event, five start-ups present on stage in turn before being grilled and rated by four angel investors. I’m aiming to connect with useful new contacts and see if this is an event I want to apply for next month. I enjoy the event, eat lots of free pizza, and meet three of the four “Dragons”.





In Profile Entrepreneur: Alex Schlagman Business: Pocket High Street Web: Concept: A personalised mobile shopping application Start-Up loan: £9,950 My head’s still swimming in work when I get to a bar close to home, to see a good friend who also recently set up his own business. We put the world to rights over a couple of Kopperbergs in under an hour before heading home. Although I’d planned to write a few emails that I’ll need to send tomorrow; my priorities change as I start thinking about all the things I’d heard and seen today. Two hours later, I’ve updated our investment pitch, and sent Colin a set of new questions and ideas to discuss in about eight hours’ time.


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

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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.

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UKRAINE The situation in the Crimea is one that could drag on for years. While the EU and US have placed sanctions on Russia, there is a certainly an air of caution. Our reliance on oil, gas and electricity from Russia is clear. Moreover, from property to finance, Russian money is flowing into London at a massive rate. The UK and London know the significance of Russia, and Russian money, so they are very unlikely to rock the boat. After an early dip in the main indices, it seems like the rest of the world is carrying on as normal. The much bigger economic concern of the FED continuing to taper QE has seen losses retraced, and is now sending the main markets to new highs. The biggest short term risk is a huge spike in oil and natural gas process. The only saving grace is that we are approaching summer. FCA – PAY DAY LOANS The introduction of short term loans at first became a joke for people to talk about over a coffee. An APR of more than 1,000% - people would be mad to do that, wouldn’t they? Unfortunately the “what you want, when you want it” culture is still firmly in the mind-set of the UK population. Where there is supply there will be demand, and these loans are no exception. Currently, there are six million people in the UK that have lost control of their finances and have “unsustainable debt”. Although pay-day loans are a factor, they are a very small part of the overall problem. With the Bank of England keeping rates artificially low to stimulate growth, we have created a breeding ground once again for toxic debt. The FCA will certainly do its job and tighten up the


Money matters

Steve Ruffley, chief market strategist at spread betting and CFD trading platform, InterTrader, outlines how three stories dominating headlines are affecting the economy regulation, but the profit has been made - and the damage has already been done.

We have created a breeding ground once again for toxic debt

THE NHS The problem with the NHS is the amount of waste within the system. This waste is not from the nurses and front line support, but from the management consultants and mis-management of resources behind the scenes. The constant restructuring of staff, paying over-inflated redundancies and then hiring the same staff back on contracts, is crippling the

NHS and wasting money. The UK prides itself on free point-of-contact health care. However, with an aging and rapidly expanding population, how can we realistically continue to fund a cost-hungry machine? The answer is, we can’t. History has seen the UK systematically privatise the public sector, and the health system could be next. This could dilute the care for the most in need and send the base level cost for the consumer up. Contact:

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Does cash flow make or break a small business? hen I started my business, Cause4, four years ago, a wise entrepreneur reminded me of the well-known adage; “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash flow is reality.” As it turns out, this couldn’t be truer. Cause4 has grown well with a turnover just shy of £1 million and, with this experience of growth in mind, I now know that all fast-growing small businesses face the same two challenges. Firstly, managing cash flow when growing fast, and secondly, recruiting talented staff quickly enough to cope with demand. The fundamentals of running a business are the same universally, whatever sector the business operates within. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if you pay your team on the first of each month as well as invoicing clients on the same day – with the standard 30-day payment period – your income might lag some four to five weeks behind your payroll. That’s if you’re lucky enough to have clients that pay on time. When faced with paying a high monthly payroll against a backlog of income, even the most optimistic entrepreneur can start to panic. Cash flow


Michelle Wright, CEO of Cause4, a fundraising partner for charities, philanthropists and social enterprises, discusses how money can make or break your business Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash flow is reality

is the lifeblood of the business and if you run out, you go under – even if the business is profitable. All too often the cash needed for growth is tied up in working capital – and the cold sweat of making the payroll is a painful reality. I quickly had to learn a few things about cash. My top tips are: • KNOW YOUR NUMBERS The one thing that an entrepreneur can’t lose sight of is the numbers. Prepare cash flow projections for next year, next quarter and – if you’re on shaky ground – next week. An accurate cash flow projection means that you can make decisions well before trouble strikes. • MAKE EDUCATED GUESSES Cash flow plans balance a number of factors, including customer payment histories, upcoming expenditure and suppliers’ terms. As you grow, this all needs adjusting, and seasonal sales fluctuations are also important. I now know that over the Christmas period – and well into the January “hangover recovery” – we

simply won’t get paid. That needs planning for. • PRE-SELL PRODUCTS OR SERVICES If we all got paid for services the minute we delivered them, then cash flow would never be a problem. In our service-based business, we can’t always presell our services like schools or membership clubs that ask for payment in advance. However, we can improve the cash flow through prompt invoicing at the end of the month, and adding charges for clients that pay late. It’s all in the terms. • ENCOURAGE GOOD KARMA – PAY ON TIME No accountant would agree with me here; however, we’ve always been good payers, and I believe that encouraging good karma is crucial. If we don’t pay on time, how can we expect our customers to pay promptly? We need to make sure that we encourage good cash management. After all, what goes around, comes around… Contact:

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Helping your company to manage it’s finances and keep the cash that you need!

“5 Ways To Access The Money You Need To Survive, Grow And Expand In Business.” A recent report showed that business owners were taking on personal debt via credit cards and mortgages rather than asking their bank. In many cases the money needed already exists within the business hidden away, if you can find it you can use it! 1) The biggest asset most businesses have is their customer list. Typically businesses are owed up to 80% of their annual turnover. Typically a business turning over £50,000 per month with a two month average wait to be paid can get up to £80,000 in 24 hours, with the balance paid a few days later. 2) If your business takes credit card & debit cards then you can release extra funds from this source also, called merchant cash advances it’s a particularly flexible form of finance based on the average of the last 12 months. As an unsecured form of money it can be effective instantly. 3) Re-finance your existing plant & equipment, even your vehicles. If you have any machinery, in your factory that you own. It is possible to value those items and borrow against them. Even if they are still on finance themselves. You’ll typically get up to 85% of the value as extra cash introduced into the business. 4) Many businesses have stock tied up in warehouses that is slow moving or bought for a special client on a call-off arrangement. Whilst it’s sitting there it’s dead money and you can often borrow cash against it’s re-sale value. With say 80,000 of stock you can release up to £40,000 cash. 5) Lastly the most often abused source of money. Everyone hates paying tax and whilst many companies save the money that they need for their VAT, PAYE and Tax bills, sadly many do not. They use the money as a sort of unapproved overdraft. HMRC are getting tough and imposing interest, fines, and pre-paid bonds on companies that are persistently late. But there are lenders who will pay your VAT and tax bills for you and let you spread the cost of re-payment over 4 months for vat and up to 12 months for tax. Of course we also help companies with other forms of money management to help you keep the cash that you need. We have access to lenders who are willing to help any business from start-up to venture capital. We’ve got the best rates for bridging finance, commercial mortgages, unsecured loans and banking products.



A numbers game ven with a return to economic stability, entrepreneurs are faced with a number of pressures to ensure business survival. The key to longevity is to eradicate common business problems, including day-to-day frustrations, such as managing accounts, which can be time consuming and costly due to cumbersome accounting requirements and processes. So how can you improve your business’ accounting efficiencies?


REPORTING Small business owners often waste valuable time due to accounts systems, which are incapable of sufficiently updating information. Using a system that allows owners, staff and accountants to look at the same information in real time gives true visibility of cash flow. This, in turn secures the company as a whole by informing important business and investment decisions. DUPLICATION IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL It is important that small businesses focus on saving time, improving accuracy and removing duplication. Fundamentally, automating processes such as cash flow and payroll can allow small businesses to save resource whilst eliminating the risk of mistakes caused by human error. ACCESS FOR ALL Ensure your accounts are easily accessible and can be updated by more than one person in the business, so you can see an accurate picture of the finances

Phill Robinson, CEO of IRIS Accountancy Software, gives top tips on how small business owners can ease daily accounting struggles

Small business owners often waste valuable time

at any time. This also allows the bookkeeper, business owner and in fact, anyone else in the company who needs to access the accounts, to update information in their own time. ONE SIZE DOESN’T ALWAYS FIT ALL Customers are individuals and every business is unique. Therefore, don’t fall into the trap of working from software that has non-specific accounting processes, as it won’t be tailored to the requirements of the business. For example, the software may contain mandatory fields for data that isn’t necessarily applicable to your business, which can result in time being wasted entering information that is redundant. KEEPING ON TOP OF IT It is important that business owners keep on top of

accounting. Keeping a box of receipts that piles up and is sent to the accountant once or twice a year isn’t time- or costeffective for anyone. CASH FLOW IN THE CLOUD Cash flow can cause problems for businesses of all shapes and sizes. However, moving accounts away from traditional desktop software to cloud solutions can provide business owners with the flexibility to submit an invoice or receive a full update on cash flow, from wherever and whenever. Setting up and growing any business can incur unexpected costs, which can in turn affect your cash flow. This is why cash flow management is absolutely vital to overall business success, and without it, your business could be at risk of failing to meet its true potential. Contact:

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The Fabulous Life Ladder What is your vision for your future? - how to make it a reality. Learn how emotions and programming impact success and discover the essential daily activity that improves your business. Effectively identify and remove blocks to money, success, and failure that keep you trapped. Sign up for our FREE introductory workshop at the Elite Business Exhibition on the 10th or come and visit us at stand 102.

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The pros & cons of

forming a

imited companies and sole traders are the two most popular types of company chosen by UK business owners. The first step for anyone setting up a limited company is to register with Companies House, which oversees the registry of companies. There are more than two million limited companies registered in the UK, with 300,000 new firms set up every year. Each limited company must have at least one director; however having a secretary is no longer mandatory. There is no legal obligation for companies to trade using a particular entity, but there are differences between them.


ADVANTAGES OF A LIMITED COMPANY STATUS The term “limited” adds weight, so it seems bigger, both to potential investors and consumers. INVESTORS They are more likely to take a chance on limited companies, as opposed to sole traders or partnerships. A limited company gives them more security. SECURITY Banks tend to favour limited companies and they are given the

limited company

Dawn Murden gives the argument for and against forming an LTD chance to take out extra security by lodging a “floating charge” over the company’s assets. That means that if the terms and conditions of a loan are breached, the bank has the first claim on the assets. SHARES Provided there are no unusual clauses in the shareholder’s agreement or company’s articles, transferring shares in a limited company is generally easier and more straightforward than it would be in a partnership or for a sole trader.

Banks tend to favour limited companies and they are given the chance to take out extra security DIVIDENDS

The dividends of a limited company are not subject to National Insurance and are at a lower rate of tax than self-employment income.

and the directors can still be liable for the company’s debt. ADMINISTRATION Directors are also expected to deliver statutory documents to Companies House, so anyone failing to do this is subject to late filing penalties, and could be deemed to have carried out a criminal offence. LESS PRIVACY Becoming a limited company means accounts and other details are held on public record so anyone, including competitors, can access company information, although it can be restricted.

WITHDRAWALS Making withdrawals from the company can also pose a problem in terms of tax, as it is difficult for shareholders EFFECTIVE TAX RATES and directors to separate If you intend retaining some of their finances from those of the profits within the business, then it might be best to go limited the business. as this reduces the tax rate. ACCOUNTANCY FEES One expense bound to be DISADVANTAGES OF A higher for limited companies LIMITED COMPANY is the accountancy fee, as LIABILITY Banks will still require personal reporting requirements tend to be bigger. guarantees from the directors,

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indfulness. If we want to go erudite for a second, it is, according to the Buddha, one of the seven factors of enlightenment. For those of us that aren’t quite so attuned to the cosmos, it’s about being in the present. According to the 2014 JWT Trend Report (the annual barometer of what’s going to be “in” this year) mindful living – people questioning the depths of their digital immersion – is set to be an emerging movement. It’s not difficult to see why. We live in an age of constant information overload; we tweet while watching TV, Facebook while we should be writing a report, or read a review while we watch a film. It often feels like we are compelled to be doing something alongside the activity we choose. It’s not enough to be at an event or talk, we have to engage on social media while someone is talking. Depending on your point of view, this can be both rude and pointless as we could miss valuable points of interest. Does any of this actually make our lives better? Although, this is not the first time people are predicting the demise of the


Head up for mindful living M

This month Rich With, creative director of The Grow Creative Company, stops and thinks for a moment, for a change

Does any of this actually make our lives better?

information age, and having information at our fingertips is certainly helpful, it’s hard to argue with those advocating this critical mass of often pointless guff needs to be stemmed a little. Interestingly, brands are also picking up on this movement. The bastion of forwardthinking that is the American automobile market, (or Buick anyway) recently unveiled it’s #InTheMoment campaign – suggesting people look up from their phones and have a real conversation, share a meal or enjoy the world around them. They even issued a pledge that they hope people will sign up to. Is Buick a step ahead of the curve and simply cashing in on something that’s possibly set to be an active influence on more and more of us? Possibly, but all irony aside, it’ll quickly be found out as people stop and ponder that question. With new devices, such as Google Glass, the user experience will mean our heads will start to look up again (rather than down at our phones or tablets). It’s more than likely that apps in cars on a HUD

(heads-up display) will inform us of outstanding areas of natural beauty, or Michelin-starred restaurants on our journeys. We’ll start to figure out how to use the constant barrage of social media to our advantage, so it is not constantly demanding our attention. These “glanceable user interfaces” are set to help as they convey relevant information to the user with the minimum of fuss. And when branding is at it’s most subtle and also it’s most useful, it can breed real love for the company.


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Don’t control your staff, influence them S Philip Vanhoutte, senior VP and managing director of Europe & Africa for Plantronics, talks about the fears of flexible working and how to overcome them

marter working is now a reality in the modern workplace, with employees across the country being empowered with the flexibility to work in an environment that suits them, but this new way of working can be daunting for managers and employees alike. When staff have no fixed working hours and migrate away from their office desk, as they do at Plantronics, not being able to physically see your team to ensure results can create an air of losing control, and a resulting lack in productivity. On facing tough decisions in how to intelligently manage employees to their fullest potential, our solution has been to retrain and coach everyone as part of a smarter working change to achieve complete trust management. Trust is the number one driver of employee engagement, and we have created and nurtured a new working culture. The move to smarter working required a shift in management style from “controlling” to “influencing”. This isn’t always easy. But if you identify the correct training agent to support this required change, and help managers to embrace managing a distributed workforce, you will build a high performing, distributed team. We found Role Assessments a huge asset and put them in place to avert

managers from being subjective in their decision as to who could or could not participate in our smarter working practices. Implementing the right technology and finding the right space are the basics, but also consider the following essentials for establishing trust: • Training A clear understanding of goals, practices and procedures in this new way of working, to learn how to deal with a dispersed team and be coached to “trust” employees. • A structured change management programme Assumptions about how work is done will be challenged. Meetings, processes, teamwork and management techniques will all need to be rethought. • Set clear objectives Define how employee contribution will be measured. Clarify expectations. Plantronics is using the now renowned software, SuccessFactors to define, align, cascade and monitor business performance. • Stay connected The right technology is essential to ensure teams are always contactable. Unified communications makes this easier. • Communication Working practices will significantly change – more e-communication, performance measured by results rather

Implementing the right technology and finding the right space are the basics

than presence. Providing clear guidelines on the new working practices will support employees and help managers retain control. The journey to smarter working requires enlightened leadership and a well-integrated, multidisciplinary approach but central to this all is a great opportunity to review and redefine what work means for people. If it isn’t clear already, I am a true smarter working convert. Today, our award-winning offices are at the forefront of the flexible working movement, incorporating smart office design, technology for collaborative communication, and the recognition of human factors that impact how we work, like BYOD, hoteling and remote working.

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10 ways to avoid job cuts nfortunately, not everything goes the way we planned it to, especially in business. Whether it’s the uncertainty of the economy, troughs in business, or an unpredicted sector disrupter, it can lead to business owners contemplating job cuts and redundancies. However, redundancies can hurt the business’ reputation and affect overall employee morale and performance. Plus you hired that person for a reason, and losing them could be detrimental to the business.


1. CREATE A CONTINGENCY PLAN If your company does not already have a contingency plan, develop one now. During an emergency situation, it is much better to have a well thought out and developed plan. 2. NEGOTIATE PAY Unless in a set contract, it may be beneficial to consider lowering employee pay for a certain amount of time. Although employees may initially become angry, chances are they will take less pay over no pay. Consider offering repayments or bonuses when business picks back up. 3. LOWER BENEFITS Often, offering health insurance and other benefits to an employee can be detrimental to small and

Everything doesn’t always go the way you planned, so Talk Business gives top 10 tips to avoid job cuts even large businesses. Consider asking the employee to contribute a larger portion. 4. OFFER UNPAID VACATION TIME During the holidays or even over the summer months, employees may just want to spend extra time with their families and children, or perhaps you have a member of staff that wants to take a sabbatical? Your company can save money and the employee will return well rested from a vacation.

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

5. OFFER EARLY RETIREMENT Rather than letting employees go, consider offering a severance and early retirement option to a top employee near retirement age. 6. COMMUNICATE Communicate with the employees and find out ways to save money and ask if they have any ideas. They will respect your honesty and may surprise you with great ideas. It will also give you an indication of how enthusiastic they are about their job. 7. HIRING FREEZE Consider a hiring freeze until business picks back up. This will allow the company to consolidate several positions or departments. It can also serve as an opportunity to restructure

departments. Also, if an employee does retire or quit, you don’t need to necessarily replace their position. Instead, you could divide the work between other employees. If you choose to do this, remember that you may need to adjust salaries for employees absorbing a larger workload. 8. OFFER PART-TIME WORK Full time employees may jump at the idea of going to part time status for a set amount of time. Continue to offer them benefits and fair pay. When business does pick up, you will have a number of skilled employees ready to return to full-time. 9. FLEXIBLE WORKING Considering offering flexible working hours and adjusting salary accordingly – this may help you claw back enough money to avoid making redundancies. 10. RELOCATION It may sounds drastic but consider relocating or downsizing your office. There are some great office deals to be had, and perhaps you could even down size and have some staff working from home, or if you’re a very small company, a virtual office might suit. It’s a great way to save money.

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New Franchise of the Year Phil Collett and Chris Roberts of Belvoir Bury, affectionately known as ‘The Bury Boys,’ give their reactions to winning one of Belvoir’s top awards! Q. How did it feel for Belvoir Bury to be shortlisted as a finalist? Amazing! We felt really honoured to be recognised for the efforts we have put into our business over the past 12 months.

Q. What has been your biggest achievement? Achieving breakeven point before year-end and completing 144 move-ins during the first year.

Q. How important is good customer service to you? We strongly agree with Belvoir’s core values and display them on the office wall for all can see. Customer service can be measured by how many word of mouth referrals you get. You know if somebody says: “This person recommended you” that the customer service you provided has had an impact and this is why they are in front of you looking for the same level of service that you offered their friend/ family member. We always give everybody 110% of our efforts, as this is how we want to be treated by others. As landlords and tenants ourselves we know the level of service we want.

Q. How are you faring against local competitors and how do you stay ahead of the game? Each week we are ranked between first and third for new instructions on Rightmove. We have joined all local networking meetings and are part of the town’s “Best of Bury”

Q. What does winning this award mean to you? It means the world! No words can really describe how we feel but it is a massive achievement and we have put so much hard work into our branch that this will motivate our team and encourage us so to do even better in 2014!

Q. What impact will winning a Belvoir award have on your business and your team? We can hardly find words to describe the impact! It will just prove to the team that Belvoir sees us as the best new start and that their contribution toward us winning has not gone unnoticed from franchisor level.

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marketing scheme, which we believe helps to give us the edge.

Q. What are your future plans? We have recently taken on a second branch in Oldham. This office has had a couple of owners in the past and we can see the huge potential it has. Oldham has just been linked to Manchester city centre, which we think could mean that it will be the next town to grow fast! We aim to be the number one agency

of choice in the town and will give it all our efforts to make this happen. Within the next two years we would like a third territory in a larger town so that we may open a main office and a satellite. work into our branch that this will motivate our team and encourage us so to do even better in 2014!

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Have no fear David Evans, partner and head of employment law at Cripps Harries Hall, gives his guidance on handling redundancy the right way

There is no need for businesses to fear the redundancy process


lthough the economy is showing signs of recovery, many businesses, small and large, are facing the need to make redundancies in order to preserve their future. The Post Office announced recently its intention to cut 1,600 jobs, and Honda has announced plans to cut production at its Swindon factory, with 500 jobs under threat.



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Understandably, the redundancy process is often considered a minefield for employers to navigate. Indeed the financial consequences of getting it wrong can be huge. An employee with two years’ service who claims that their dismissal was unfair could claim up to the lower of one year’s pay and £76,574, in addition to their notice and a small basic award. There is no financial cap on discrimination claims. However, provided that there is a genuine need to make employees redundant and the appropriate procedures are followed, there is no need for businesses to fear the redundancy process. IS THERE A GENUINE REDUNDANCY SITUATION? Redundancy is considered a “no-fault” dismissal, and employers are often keen to label a dismissal a redundancy when in reality it is due to poor performance or discipline. It is important to ensure at the outset that your business faces a genuine redundancy situation. Redundancy can occur in the following situations: • on the closure of a business • on the closure of an employee’s place of work • where there is a diminished need for employees to do the available work ARE THERE ANY ALTERNATIVES TO REDUNDANCY? Before starting the redundancy procedure, you need to consider whether there are any steps you could take to avoid the need for redundancies. This could include putting a stop on recruitment, reducing overtime, inviting volunteers for redundancy, reducing the use of casual or contract staff, and transferring staff to work in other parts of the organisation.

any suggestions they make. It is a good idea to keep notes of your meetings, and write to the employees at each stage of the process to confirm what has been discussed. Employees have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union official. The purpose of the consultation process is to: • Allow the employees a chance to give their views on the redundancy proposal, and any ideas that might help to avoid making redundancies • Inform employees of the selection criteria used and their individual score, and invite them to comment on them • Consider whether any alternative employment is available within the business for the employee (at the same or a lower grade)

If your business cannot avoid the need to make redundancies, you should follow the steps outlined below. There are additional steps that need to be taken when 20 or more redundancies are proposed. SELECTION POOL You will need to identify which of your employees are at risk of redundancy. This group is often referred to as the “selection pool”. If you are closing your business, this will be a simple task. Where you face a reduced need for employees to do the available work, your task will be more complex. The pool should include all employees who do the relevant type of work, and any employees who do similar or interchangeable work. SELECTION CRITERIA The next stage is to agree your selection criteria - and apply them fairly and consistently to the selection pool. Employers are free to draw up their own selection criteria, but they must be primarily objective and verifiable by reference to attendance records or appraisals. Commonly used selection criteria include: • skill and knowledge • attendance records • disciplinary records • skills and experience • quality of work Different weighting could be applied to the criteria chosen, depending on what is more important to your business. INDIVIDUAL CONSULTATION Having identified those at risk of redundancy, you will need to start the consultation process. There is no set time limit, but it is important that you meet individually with all employees at risk of redundancy at least twice, and properly consider


It is important that you allow the employee to appeal against the decision

CONFIRM REDUNDANCY Having completed the consultation process, you will need to confirm to those employees selected for redundancy that their employment will end. It is important that you allow the employee to appeal against the decision. You will need to pay the employee for their notice period (or in lieu of it), and any other contractual entitlements, such as accrued holiday pay. If they have been employed for two years or more, they will also be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. It is never pleasant to dismiss an employee, particularly when they are not themselves at fault. However, sometimes it is necessary to enable the business to continue. Our experience is that thorough preparation, transparency and proper consultation is key to making this process as smooth as possible. Contact:

060_061 STRATEGY 41


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Thames Valley’s biggest business exhibition is back WHY THE THAMES VALLEY REGION? The region is home to a community of established and aspiring global brands. With the Thames Valley being situated on the doorstep of London, it boasts an impressive business community. It is home to 10 of the top 50 global organisations, and 13 of the world’s top 30 billion-dollar brands. Attend this year’s expo and discover why some of the world’s top international brands and most innovative, fastest growing companies are choosing the Thames Valley region as European hub and headquarters. With so many ambitious business people in one place – 50+ exhibitors, five keynote seminars, 20 workshops and six networking sessions – the atmosphere is always electric. EXHIBITING Exhibiting at the Thames Valley Expo offers you the opportunity to meet key influencers and decision makers from the region face to face. Over the years it has become clear that exhibiting is believed to be one of the most cost effective ways to promote business. The Thames Valley Expo can help you to win new business by delivering a high calibre of decision-makers direct to your stand. WHAT’S AT THE EXPO? • Well known UK motivational business keynote speakers. • Networking opportunities throughout the day. • Educational/interactive workshops, seminars and clinics.

Following the huge success of its launch in 2013, the Thames Valley Expo is back for its second year on 12 June at the Grand Stand, Royal Windsor Racecourse

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• “Berkshire Begins a Year of Commemoration for World War I Centenary” – a look at how business has developed over 100 years across the region. WHO’S AT THE EXPO? • Neil Clough – 2013 BBC Apprentice star. • Brad Burton – motivational speaker. • Jackie Chappell – first Women CEO of British Rail and Sue Ryder Business Women of 2013. • Warren Cass – founder of Business Scene.

Join hundreds of powerful, influential businesses and make incredible deals, engage with new suppliers, get that initial contact in order to build long lasting business relationships. Register by visiting or call 0843 289 4643 Find out more about exhibiting by contacting Alec Jones-hall on 0843 289 4634, or by emailing

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The challenges

of reaching China

ith half a billion internet users in China representing 40% of the population, it offers a growing opportunity for businesses selling goods and services online on order to reach this target market. Disposable incomes are rising and business opportunities are increasing, so it makes sense that cloud application providers, eCommerce brands, and financial service providers want to reach China. But, if not done correctly, the investment could be wasted. One of the biggest challenges is the “Great Firewall”. The Chinese Government implemented the firewall as a form of internet censorship to protect its citizens. Web property owners and brands need to respect the firewall and understand the restrictions and guidelines, as well as monitor and localise their content - not just from a language perspective, but also to tailor to the firewall. Both when crossing the Great Firewall, and once inside China, there is a high risk of websites being blocked if they contain adult content, gambling, or political views, which are strictly forbidden. Clothing, jewellery, and fragrance brands must ensure that photography on their websites is tasteful, and that models do not bare more skin than is deemed necessary. It’s also worth noting


Jeff Kim, president and COO of CDNetworks Americas/EMEA, discusses the challenges of reaching China with your website

One of the biggest challenges is the ‘Great Firewall’

that online shoppers in China are more likely to seek the opinions of others, so blogs, forums, and ratings are important, although they must be continually moderated for inappropriate or political comments. On the positive side, China’s Ministry of Internet Technology, and Ministry of Commerce are finding ways to support and promote foreign investment in eCommerce. Even though China encourages eCommerce investment, navigating website regulations can be daunting. An extensive list of requirements includes verifying what licenses to procure and where to display them on your website, as well as determining acceptable and unacceptable content. Most organisations pay third party consultants and lawyers to help navigate the requirements and ensure compliance. However, without continuous compliance oversight, websites could still be blocked as new content is added and unblocking is extremely difficult. Hosting outside China is also problematic. A typical website hosted in the US or EMEA takes 20-40 seconds to load in China. No website user will stick around for that kind of web performance. Even if you host

a data centre in Hong Kong and one in Singapore or Tokyo, you still have to go through the Great Firewall, adding 10-15 seconds. The Network Bench chart shows loading a web object from a data centre located in Hong Kong vs. one inside the Great Firewall is 50% slower. Connections between different areas in China also pose a problem. Not all end users are in the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Millions of potential customers reside in tier two and tier three markets. China’s internet infrastructure has limited peering points, fragmented network topology, and poor connectivity. Consequently, setting up data centres in major cities is just not enough. Performance will not meet your - or your endusers’ - expectations. If you want to build a customer base in China for your application or brand, one effective solution is to work with a content delivery network provider that has points of presence in mainland China, and local expertise to help with licensing, advice on content, and keeping websites from getting blocked by content governing bodies. They can also provide a service whereby they constantly monitor regulatory changes, from both business and technology perspectives.

065 STRATEGY Reaching 41


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chapter 1: About a boy who wanted to be a man Sales coach, Adam Caplan reveals a snippet of his book, Born To Sell – The Natural Sales Method don’t know when I decided that selling was what I wanted to do with my life. I remember wanting to be a soldier. I think at some point I wanted to be a geologist. I know I wanted to be a professional waterskier. However, fortunately I found myself working in the fashion business, at the ripe old age of 17. I was a ‘runner’. That meant I took samples and swatches to buying offices whenever the sales director wanted something taken. This might sound boring, however, we were garment manufacturers of ladies clothing. The buyers, assistant buyers, buyer’s assistants, merchandisers, assistant merchandisers, merchandiser’s assistants, quality controllers, assistant quality controllers, etc., were all, in the main, ladies. Being an affable, charming, and cheeky lad helped me get past the receptionists who wanted me to leave my samples there and allowed me into the inner sanctum of the buying floor. I didn’t realise this at the time, however, the skill of getting past the receptionist (The Gatekeeper, if you will) is one of the MOST important skills of the salesperson. I didn’t understand why everybody else was stuck at the gate and not allowed free reign to wander around the sales floor, building relationships and have the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time. The skill of getting past the gatekeeper will be discussed in great depth. It’s one of a salespersons most important skills. Perhaps I considered it a challenge, perhaps I didn’t even think about it. Either way, I never left my sample at the door and always delivered by hand. As a result, I got access to professional buyers at a very young age. I got to know them, to know tomorrow’s buyers (the junior buyers of today are tomorrow’s senior buyers) and to understand what it is they wanted from their suppliers. The ability to understand what a buyer wants will be discussed in great depth in this book. It’s another of a salespersons most important skills.


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I wasn’t really selling anything as I was only delivering samples. I wasn’t negotiating prices, styles, delivery dates, etc. All I was doing was taking a sample to my boss’s customer. Yet I was still performing two of the most important functions that a salesperson needs to perfect if they are going to be a force in the world of sales. I was getting past gatekeepers and building relationships. After a while, I wanted to do more, to earn more and wanted the respect of my peers in the office. As the junior to everyone else by at least twenty years, I could see that I’d have to think outside the box if I wanted to progress. There were three salespeople in this business, my boss, who ran the retail accounts, another director who handled mail order and another senior salesman who looked after concessions in the major retailers. In the 80’s that was the entire fashion mainstream marketplace in the UK. There was no online retailers or outlets. It was a competitive and crowded marketplace with dozens of manufacturers chasing a very small pot of clients. However, there was mainland Europe, sitting off the coast of Dover, completely untouched by our business. In my ignorance, I didn’t consider if the competition had sewn the market up. I could see that there was an opportunity and I went for it. I wasn’t interested in the competition, what you do for the customer is more important than whatever your competitor does, unless he does it better than you. (If that’s the case, you better find out how to do it better than them if you want to survive). My attitude was one of positivity and I was completely convinced that the buyers would be only too pleased to buy from me. Attitude is vital to sales success. We will look at this later as well as how being convinced that your buyers will buy from you positively affects the sales process. Without mandate from the company, I started thinking about how I could sell to the European retailers. At this point I feel I should explain how the world of 1989 was fundamentally different from the world today, 25 years later. We had no email. Windows and PC’s were uncommon. Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg was five. Channel 4 had been available for 18 months. The internet was still four years away. The Berlin Wall still stood at the beginning of that year but SKY didn’t exist. Rain Man won the Oscar for best picture. The Game Boy was released. Wal-Mart opened their first store and at the end of that year, the first full length Simpsons episode was broadcast. Today it’s easy, then it was very tricky. Before I could even start I had to find out who the customers were and how they operated. I was so ignorant that I didn’t know how much I didn’t know! When I look back on that particular decision, I am always amazed that I succeeded. How did I do it? In summary, I found the right people to speak to, called them, asked them the right questions, got the right answers, made appointments to show my samples, went to see them, found out what they wanted, supplied it to them and repeated this as often as I could. Sounds simple? It is if you know how to do it, which is exactly what this book is about.

Next month we will look at how to achieve the salesperson’s perfect day.

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


MAY 2014

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odays mad paced business world is all about deadlines and performance figures and pressures. The Sales Director has to push the team to ‘hit target’ and the team have to push themselves, squeeze in calls, speed up proposals and the selling is fast and furious…. But it’s the wrong way!! Now, I know that is a controversial statement and Sales Directors everywhere will shout back ”what are you talking about, we have to have figures, targets and it needs to be pushed”…but let me ask you a very straight forward question:


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When YOU are buying do you like being pushed? No!! None of us do!! So pushing is directly contrary to buying…so why the heck is our sales driven commercial mentality killing the market and alienating the prospects with an energy and drive that is selfish and unpleasant??? It has to change” says Ben Kench, author of ‘Selling For Dummies’ and Sales and Business Growth Specialist.. “The bottom line is sales teams and companies that are stuck in the ‘old world’ cut and thrust of driven selling will gradually find it increasingly difficult and less effective to continue with urgency and push and deadline mentality”. “It would appear that although such labels as ‘consultative selling’ are banded around and preached about, rarely are they truly practiced…and as a result very few potential customers are willing to entertain the salespersons visit” says Ben, “ and the result of the resistance is a response to ‘push harder’ from the selling directors! Its leaving a bad taste and putting off prospects. A better way for the new ‘information rich’ age is to genuinely help, genuinely serve and genuinely sell what is right for the client at the right time for the client. That way

relationships last and long term value is increased. To gain sales, teams need to slow down and nurture” If you are a business owner whom resists salespersons approaches then you will resonate with the idea… but as a business owner you also need to sell and hit targets! It’s a challenge - but the good news is it is one you can win! For more ideas and a chat about increasing business and sales performance connect directly with Ben on or visit www.

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The Sales Doctor Sales doctor, Tony Morris gives advice on motivating your sales staff with great incentives

Q: A:

Dear Sales doctor, I’d like to show my sales team how important they are to the business. Have you any advice about incentives? What’s important to find out first, is what would incentivise your sales team? Without knowing this, it’s very difficult to incentivise your people. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the sales manager to know exactly what motivates each person in his/her team. I have a client who runs a 150seat call centre, and they do daily competitions where people can win a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, a duvet day, and many more prizes. After doing a survey with the staff, it was found the incentive valued the most is the £10 trophy that was given out on close of play on Friday for the performer of the week. You would never have guessed that people actually cared about this trophy. When choosing the right incentives for your team, you have to consider the sort of environment and culture you would like on your sales floor. If you want a loud and exciting sales floor, then I would recommend a points system, which I call a sales ladder. You decide on a list of categories that you would like to incentivise your team to achieve, as it’s important to not just reward the top sales performer, otherwise people will start to resent that person and give up when they realise they can’t win. To follow is an idea of categories that an IT hardware client of mine uses: • Most calls made in the week • Most proactive referrals gained in the week

• • • • •

Most meetings made in the week Most quotes sent out in the week Most business closed in the week Highest deal closed in the week Most testimonials received in the week • Hardest worker of the week – managers’ discretion You need to allocate points to each category: each could be worth 10 points and you then decide the value of a point i.e. one point = £1. Only one person can win per category, therefore it incentivises the team to compete. You can have a big whiteboard up in your office with a list of all the categories down the left hand side and the names of the sales team at the top; this way they can personally enter their figures on the board at close of play every day and take ownership. Many of my clients insist the sales team have to accrue their points for a minimum of three months before cashing them in. They are allowed to gamble them at the end of the month if they wish i.e. double or nothing, and you can put a dartboard in the office; again this all depends on what environment you want on your sales floor. One final thought to add to the sales ladder is to have a plaque in the office saying “Top sales performer of the month” with a framed picture of the sales person above it. You can choose the salesperson who achieves the most points in the month, or this could be for the person who brings in the most revenue; again this needs to be decided by management. Another great incentive to think about is team-building days.

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

Need a diagnosis?

Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ‘FAO the sales doctor’: dawn.murden@

071 STRATEGY Sales 61


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Marvel at this Kimberly Davis, founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, discusses the marketing genius of Marvel hile most girls love a good rom-com, I’m a sci-fi geek. I’d much rather be watching Batman, X-men, or Star Trek. But there is more to this genre than special effects and action. Sci-fi has been leading the way for new and innovative marketing ideas for years. For example, did you know…Star Wars was the first movie to incorporate merchandising into its marketing plan? The studios didn’t think the idea would work, so they let George Lucas pass up a $500,000 (£298,000) director’s fee in return for keeping licensing and merchandising rights for himself. A wise move for Lucas, as the merchandising rights have made $20 billion (£11 billion), exceeding the revenue from the films. More recently, there was another huge stride forward in sci-fi marketing. In the original Marvel comics, Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and Captain America were all independent characters who were later brought together to create The Avengers. This strategy proved highly successful in the comic world,


and Marvel predicted it could do the same in film. So they put together a plan to create and link all of these franchises together. Marvel wisely tested the waters in the modern market by creating the individual movies. It started with Iron Man in 2008, followed by The Incredible Hulk (2008), Thor (2011), and Captain America (2011). Each was a huge success. But this was just the first step in this brilliant marketing plan. Marvel also planted the seeds for growth by including minor secondary characters in these movies, which die-hard fans would recognise as the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The characters were barely noticeable to those who were new to the stories, but these characters were the glue that would quietly tie the series together. Now it was time for phase two… the release of The Avengers, which featured the stars and characters from all the individual movies in one blockbuster hit. The movie became the sixth highest grossing movie of all time. This allowed the company to move on to step three. The release of the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show

Marvel wisely tested the waters in the modern market

featuring the minor characters from the movies. The real genius is that Marvel has found a way to seamlessly cross promote and link the story lines of all of these movies and shows together perfectly while allowing them to stand independently. If you’ve watched one, you want to watch them all. It’s all wrapped up in one perfect little marketing package. I applaud Marvel for making such a complex process so easy and elegant. We can all learn from its marketing ingenuity.

Kimberly Davis is the founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing, an author, and speaker. Contact:



24/04/2014 15:24

Technology for Startups Starting up your own business can be a challenging, hard but ultimately rewarding experience. In today’s business world the reliance on technology to deliver your product or service to clients has never been greater. So with a wealth of products and services to choose from, what should the new startup look out for to help them? We are going to concentrate on six items we feel would aid any startup.

Office Software

Remote Desktop Access

Having an office suite is fundamental to the running of any business. With the advent of cloud services, products such as Google Docs or Office 365 are a great way to get started with your office applications. Alternatives such as Open Office, which are freeware or open source allowing your budget room to breathe!

Flexibility and the need or the desire to work from anywhere but still access the files you need has never been easier. Whether you need to access your desktop from a clients location or your own iPad or laptop you can with services like LogMeIn or TeamViewer.

Online Storage or Backup All-in-one printer Rather than having a separate scanner, printer and fax machine, save space and reduce costs by investing in a decent All-In-One Printer. Most good performers come in under £150 and with running costs being pretty low they are a vital piece of equipment for any new business.

Cloud services like Dropbox, Microsofts OneDrive, Google Drive or mean there are many ways to make sure you can acces vital files where and when you need them most. You can also use some of these services as methods to back up those files too.

MailChimp Book Keeping Software Another fundamental element in your new business is book keeping software. There are many products out there, but depending on your individual needs, you may be able to use one of the online services rather than the desktop applications. From our experience we’d recommend something like Sage One or even Instant Accounts.

MailChimp is a great service that allows you to keep your clients up to date with your latest offers, products and services. With a really easy drag and drop interface to create your email shots, you can easily create effective campaigns and track their success. The fact that the service is free for accounts with up to 2000 contacts and the easy way to integrate it into your website are all added bonuses! Outside of the above items another great thing to have to hand is someone to help you with all of your technology meaning you can concentrate on running your business. For more information you can visit us at

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Ten steps of Twitter Step seven: crediting authors Dawn Murden sets out to improve the Talk Business Twitter – follow our journey and improve yours too ast month, Joel from Brandwatch told me to focus on “being more human”. ‘What I want you to do is take pictures of the office, meetings or events you attend,’ Joel said. Joel explained that using #InsideBrandwatch, and then tweeting about something in the office like a birthday or a funny debate has been hugely popular for them. He explained it was about displaying to your followers you’re not a corporate company; but a group of friendly humans, who are approachable. I found the tip hard this month, because there were no office birthdays and not many events, and so it was rather quiet. I did however do a review on a hotel, which I tweeted about, and went on


a skiing event that we posted pictures of. ‘And how did that go?’ Joel asked. It went well – the hotel retweeted and a few other people favourited, but it wasn’t hugely popular. I went on to tell Joel that I thought that particular tip wasn’t something you could implement straight away, as I didn’t want to fabricate anything. I said it was one of the tips that we have to work on and develop as things happen, and he agreed. This month Joel said he wants me concentrate on using the @ symbol to credit authors. Be it from our own articles on Talk Business, or from blogs, national newspapers, SME websites, etc. ‘Tweet about an article saying: “A great article by @X on X – you have to read it” with

Concentrate on using the @ symbol to credit authors

the link,’ Joel said. ‘The author should retweet it.’ The author should feel encouraged to retweet, and therefore it will build up your audience and engagement. And also the author will appreciate it. In terms of tweeting our own stuff vs. other sources, Joel reminded me that 80% of tweets should be about other sources, and around 20% from ourselves. However, he also said publishing houses usually tweet more of their own stuff. As an extra bit of advice, Joel also mentioned that emojis (cartoon images) are now being used on Twitter. ‘I suspect this will really take off,’ he said. ‘When we use symbols on our tweets, they seem to get more attention – perhaps this is because people have a visual mind.’ He told me to visit and then just copy and paste them into Twitter. So for the next month, we’ll be tweeting lots of business authors about their articles with smiley faces and more. Contact:



24/04/2014 15:25

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Avoid the junk folder MAKE AN IMPACT – WHETHER SUBSCRIBERS OPEN YOUR EMAIL OR NOT Even if your subscribers don’t open your email, its presence in their inbox has a tangible impact on brand awareness. Sending an email communication featuring your brand name, and a subject line that communicates what’s in the email and how that benefits the user, can still influence a purchase decision. MAP OUT YOUR MESSAGING STRATEGY IN LINE WITH THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY Because most recipients won’t read every email, it is much more useful to think about connecting consecutive subject lines with one another. Core brand messaging and tone of voice should be present and consistent in every subject line. As each new email pops up in your subscribers’ inboxes, recipients will learn more about your brand over time. AVOID BEING DUMPED IN THE “JUNK” FOLDER Keeping a “clean” list of email subscribers is one of many important ways of ensuring that your messages land in the inbox. That means mailing your subscribers on a regular basis and, if emails to the same address bounce back a few times in a row, it’s time to remove them from your database. There are many other ways to ensure and improve inbox placement, so it’s always good practice to seek help from an email expert. AVOID BEING BLACKLISTED AS A “SPAMMER” According to our analysis of 13 billion sent emails tracked by Return Path, less than one

Dela Quist, CEO of Alchemy Worx, a digital marketing agency, gives his top tips for successful email marketing

From sending four emails to eight per quarter could be as much as £1.3 million

subscriber in every 2,000 will mark an email as SPAM. So, if you are receiving a higher rate of SPAM complaints, it is likely that you are making some basic errors. One common mistake is to send emails to relevant subscribers from a sister brand. Recipients who don’t recognise the “from” address or the branding are more likely to mark you as SPAM. By all means, let your subscriber list know about other offerings, but keep the “from” address familiar.

REMEMBER THAT MOST UNSUBSCRIBES ARE HEALTHY It’s only natural that some subscribers will outgrow your business. Yet, when “unsubscribers” are asked why they are opting out of marketing emails, they often complain about “receiving too many emails”. If a recipient has become uninterested in your business, they’ll probably feel that one email per month is too many. However, for a list of one million subscribers, the potential additional revenue of the increase from sending four emails to eight per quarter could be as much as £1.3 million. In comparison, the potential loss in revenue from the number of consumers that might unsubscribe from the email list is only £18,000. Some unsubscribes are a small price to pay for the benefit of a successful email programme. And those people who do unsubscribe were probably not going to buy from you anyway. Contact:

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A professionally designed logo should be high on the shopping list of any new business. It should be thought of as an investment and adequate funding set aside as part of your business plan. When your new venture has become established and is successful your brand mark will be an invaluable asset in itself and it’s vital that you own the copyright and that your design is unique. At Logo Marketing and Design we start by understanding your business - what makes it special, how you will differentiate it from the competition, how you see it growing and who’ll be buying its products or services. You’ll have a dedicated account manager and we’ll work with you through a series of concept

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Save your marketing team ‘In businesses – whether they be small, medium or large – there is often a temptation to cut marketing and communications costs and staff first when you need to make savings. This is a futile approach; at a time when things are hard you should be pumping more money into these functions and not less. Cost effective marketing and communications can help build internal morale and motivate employees. Such investment can also enhance your reputation with customers, help generate sales leads and sell more goods or services. In today’s social media obsessed world, having a strong presence in these channels, and engaging with your audiences can mean the difference between success and failure. So put more money into your marketing and communications, not less. It is an investment and not a cost.’ Michael Murphy, freelance business adviser and mentor ‘It has been reported that 37% of SMEs do not have a website and only 1% use social media to generate revenue. These shocking figures highlight the digital skills gap that still exists. If companies are to know their infographics from their social commerce, understand the impact of their viral campaigns, react to figures from Google Analytics and know their pokes from their three p’s, they need marketing departments with digitally savvy employees.’ Dr Marie Griffiths, director of the Centre for Digital Business, Salford Business School Contact: ‘I remember when we first started bringing in large amounts of new business (as a result of my marketing efforts), we were struggling to serve all of our customers and I ended up spending a lot of my time getting caught up helping out with the day-to-day running of the business. It is something I regret now. Had I spent those few months growing our customer base and enquiries, we would now be seeing a massive increase in profitability. Yes, we would have lost some business in the short term, but would have seen far more benefit in the long term if I had spent my time doing what I do best. This is why the idea of cutting your marketing department in order to save money in difficult times seems so absurd to me. Look at areas that are inefficient and restructure your marketing department to make it more effective, but making arbitrary cuts is just going to create more difficulties in the long run and is often a very short-sighted approach.’ David Bird, marketing director, Online Mortgage Advisor Contact:

When redundancies are inevitable, don’t look to cut the marketing department first – here’s why… ‘The argument that marketing doesn’t matter implies a lack of understanding, a history of poorly executed campaigns, or simply a blind optimism of just sitting back and waiting for results. If you can’t inspire people, then it doesn’t matter how many products you have or how great your services are. The world is drowning in products and services, so marketing is vital to help you earn attention over others. Yes, marketing is difficult. It requires research, planning, vision, imagination, powerful stories, hard work, time and money. If it were easy then every company in the world would be getting it right. But no ideas have ever worked without being shared with the right people. Good intentions are not enough. Marketing is an investment in your organisation’s journey forward.’ Michael Chidzey, head of digital marketing & PR at Chillisauce Contact: ‘Like any relationship, the relationship between a business and its marketing department will only reach its full potential through commitment and stability. Just as a temporary spending binge on marketing is almost always a poor use of funds, so cutting the marketing department represents a false economy, and can seriously hamper the business’ ability to recover from temporary stresses. If a business is to grow in a sustained manner, it must tell a consistent story about itself, and that requires a long term, sustained and sustainable investment in the right resources. Changes at a company generate lots of “white noise” – media chatter, competitive slurs and internal communications – which all make it harder to protect the brand and hold together the team. Communicating the right messages, both internally and externally demands dedicated time and specialist skills.’ Steve Eveleigh, director of marketing at Mhub Contact:

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For free legal guidance and to draft your own documents, for free, visit Simplify_Sept_FP_v1.indd 1

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Friends and colleagues s I write this I’m feeling a little delicate after our quarterly staff night out. I think incentives, especially in a sales environment are rife. However I believe they should be a big part of every company. Of course when times are tough, the rewards may go on the back burner, but it’s important to ensure, when you can bring them back, you do. At Raw Talent Academy we always have a quarterly night out, and last Christmas we went go karting. One Monday I also surprised the team; I got them to come in early at 8am, and didn’t tell them what it was about. Then, when they all came in to the meeting room I asked; “So how do you think it’s all going?” They started to give answers, but I stopped them and lifted the first page of the flip chart, and on it I’d written, “We’re going to the spa.” We spent the whole day there, and they couldn’t believe it! I do believe in the motto “work hard, play hard”, and I


Lee McQueen, founder of the Raw Talent Academy and BBC’s The Apprentice season four winner, discusses staff bonding

If there are no rewards or fun for staff, then it can lead to bad morale

think if there are no rewards or fun for staff, then it can lead to bad morale. It’s good to get everyone out of the office, not only to reward them for their hard work, but to get them chatting and bonding. Last night it was great seeing people speak who don’t usually communicate much in the office. It’s also a good way to introduce new starters. Another thing we do in our kick off meetings is give out awards to staff, like “best newcomer” decided by management, and “players’ player” as voted for by the team. I believe colleagues should get on together and be friendly. It’s important to get on as a team, and it can produce better work. I prefer a relaxed atmosphere, and I’m not one of those managing directors that, when I walk in, it all goes quiet. However when it come to managers having to show their authority, you need to get the

balance right, because if you’re too “matey” they may think they can get away with things. Some people may think I’m soft in the way I manage, but I think a better way of having authority is by ensuring everyone in the business is aligned with the company goals, their job role, and their individual targets. That way everyone is clear on what they are doing, there are rarely any problems, and if there are, there’s no excuses because they know exactly what they were meant to do.


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Why do you need HR?

We outline nine reasons why you need an HR department or representative

they can easily ask for help or support on their hours, pay, requests for flexible working, and so on. This also means managers or directors won’t be bothered with questions they might not have the answers to.

any directors and managers try to take on HR themselves, but it can be detrimental to a company. HR isn’t a role that can be shared, especially with new employment law being introduced. You need an expert. Here’s why…


SAVE MONEY They can implement an HR strategy that can support business goals. They can manage sickness and absence – and offer advice on solving problems if there are patterns, through suggesting flexible working or “duvet days”. MANAGE PERFORMANCE They can introduce and manage an effective appraisal system, with the company goals in mind. This can also help retain staff, because if there is a good appraisal system in place, then consistently good performance can be easily be monitored and rewarded. SUPPORT STAFF Having a proper HR department or representative that staff can go to, means

Get it wrong and staff will leave

HELP AVOID LEGAL CASES Through sound employment law advice, a good HR department can ensure companies avoid tribunals. HR departments and representatives can act as good mediators, especially if there is tension. TRAIN AND DEVELOP HR can help support training and development initiatives by assisting with a company-wide skills analysis, developing and coordinating a training plan, identifying courses currently on offer, and delivering workshops. This will constantly move staff, and the business, forward. RECRUITMENT Every company needs good staff. HR departments can provide support for recruitment while ensuring equal opportunities and all legislation is adhered to.

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Employees need to be fully engaged with the company brand, message and goals in order to complete their job to the best of their ability. HR can distribute employee handbooks, and conduct employee attitude surveys and interviews to find out how they really feel. ASSISTING WITH CHANGE Whether it’s a company restructure, redundancies, relocation, or a re-structuring of roles, a, HR department can help things run smoothly. HR can advise on redundancy and TUPE, and also ensure all contracts, job roles, and so on, are written up properly. REWARD AND RETAIN Rewarding staff is important for employee retention. Get it wrong and staff will leave. Although financial reward is important, it is not everything. Other rewards, such as job satisfaction, challenge, flexibility, days in lieu, incentives, team bonding, and so on, are important. HR can help recognise when and how rewards should be given.

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e all know a person in the office who isn’t the most helpful. The individual who appears to go out of their way to be difficult and hinder activity. The impact of these people is much more detrimental to a company than previously thought. A recent survey of 2,000 people conducted by Powwownow, a leading conference call provider, has proved that a large number of British workers take drastic action, and go so far as walking out on their job to avoid the frustration caused by a colleague. Very few would have believed that more than a third of people have gone to such lengths, but the stats prove these individuals are management’s worst nightmare. Recruitment is one of the most arduous tasks that a company goes through. It is essential that every member of the team has the correct skills, fits in well within the business, and has a suitable personality. For that all to be undermined by people working away at some of the business’ prime assets is as unhelpful as it is wasteful. The survey went in depth to unveil that the most “annoying” person in a UK workplace is uncooperative, unhelpful, and attempts to hold others back. All fairly obvious, however the profile of this individual female (54%), named Sarah (4%), is 44 years old, (30%) has brunette hair (31%) and works in human resources (18%). Before taking the final step off the company cliff and quitting, the working public resort to venting their frustration by shouting or screaming in private or asking management to move seats. These efforts are obviously not as drastic, but provide evidence that there is a culture within British business’ to simply “suck it up” and carry on regardless. While on one hand, this shows




of staff admit to leaving their job due to a disruptive colleague Andrew Johnson, finance director discusses how disruptive staff members’ affect businesses

The profile of this individual female (54%), named Sarah (4%), is 44 years old

a steely resolve, it is clear that these actions come as a result of a significant psychological issue and will have a detrimental impact on productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. In terms of the person who is actually limiting one’s performance through the act of bullying, competition between the same sex is apparent, with the large majority of both female and male respondents confessing it is a colleague of the same sex who they find the most obtrusive, stating they tend to compete with this person for an ‘alpha’ role in the workplace. This is especially interesting as it suggests an internal battle before one party becomes victorious. Could it be that workplace hounding is simply the outcome of the dominant individual overcoming their prey? In my opinion, no. While this might be true in some cases, my experience has shown me that certain individuals are disruptive

as a defence mechanism, often seeing a new colleague as competition and working underhandedly to put them down before they settle in. What is absolutely sure is that this disruptiveness and uncooperative characteristics have a major impact on the business, causing unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Issues of this magnitude are where true HR management is vital to continued performance and success. Confronting the workplace tyrant needs to be handled astutely to ensure that it doesn’t cause a further tear in the fabric of the business, resulting in widespread distrust amongst other employees. The problem first needs to be identified - when they have been found out, this behaviour often is resolved immediately - then isolated, limiting the individual’s exposure, before finally sewn up, which either involves weaving them back into the business or simply cutting your cloth.

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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 May 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). 8 May 2014 12.30pm

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e have heard that the UK jobs market is recovering from the effects of a double dip recession, however, according to the latest CIPD Labour Market Outlook (LMO), a “productivity hangover” has hit UK employment growth, forcing a slowdown in job creation in the first quarter of 2014. The survey of more than 1,000 employers, shows the number of organisations planning to recruit falling to its lowest level in the nine-year history of the LMO, with one in five employers also planning redundancies in coming months. In light of this latest survey, we take a fresh look at what constitutes a fair redundancy process.



WHAT IS REDUNDANCY? Redundancy is triggered when work of a particular kind has, or is expected to, cease or diminish. This may happen in a re-structure of business activities, in response to a decision to stop performing a particular function or when a business, or part of a business, closes. Care must be taken to identify situations where TUPE applies, however. Where a business is sold, part of a business moves or a contract is awarded to another organisation, the people associated with that contract may be transferred to that employer, rather than be made redundant. TUPE Under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations, (TUPE), employees have the right to transfer with the work if their working time is associated with that work. This saves employers the redundancy costs, although

Richard Cumming, managing director of HR Insight, discusses the basics of redundancies

Dealing with the job market there are serious liabilities if the situation is not identified and the correct TUPE consultation procedure not followed.

Redundancy triggers a legal obligation to consult with employees

CONSULTATION Redundancy triggers a legal obligation to consult with employees about the situation and about their jobs being at risk. The consultation procedures to be followed vary depending on the number of positions at risk of redundancy. The steps below address situations where 19 or fewer employee positions are at risk. PROCEDURE • Document business reasons for the change and the impact this will have on positions held • Identify if the positions are standalone, or whether employees should be selected from a pool • If a pool, create selection criteria to measure which individuals will be placed at risk • Consider alternatives to redundancy and other opportunities that may be available • Hold one-to-one ‘at risk’

meetings with the individuals, informing them of the situation, advising on obligations of both during consultation and providing an estimated payment schedule. Be available during consultation (at least two weeks) to consider any alternatives that are proposed • At the end of the consultation period, invite the individual, who has a right to be accompanied, to a meeting, and if no alternatives have been identified, issue the formal notice of redundancy • Confirm the redundancy and the right of appeal SUPPORT Any support that you can offer during the notice period (which you may or may not require them to work) can help achieve positive outcomes. This may include: • Help with information on the local job market • Providing a reference • Help with a CV • Allowing reasonable time off for interviews Contact:

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Secret diary of an entrepreneur L ucy Woodhouse and her co-founder, Meriel Kehoe, founded their frozen yoghurt lolly company, Claudi & Fin in July 2012 using funds from their savings. In September 2013, they were winners in a Sainsbury’s and Start-Up Britain competition, Pitch Up Sainsbury’s. Their delicious, Greek-style frozen yoghurt lollies go on sale exclusively in 250 Sainsbury’s stores nationwide on May 25. DAY ONE: FINDING A PR COMPANY We’re still on the journey to the supermarket shelves, and it’s quite an adventure. We are working around the clock to get things organised for launch, so no one day or week are the same. If something needs doing it tends to need doing now; so it’s all four hands on deck. As a start-up, funds are tight, so we’re not in a position to pay ourselves let alone another person. However, in the last few months we’ve really benefited from the amazing services of some hugely talented freelancers, including graphic designers and web developers. Today we’re interviewing three freelance PR people over the telephone, who have left large agencies behind to go it alone. Once they’ve had a brief, we’ll then meet up with them in person, get them to try our delicious frozen yoghurt


Lucy Woodhouse, co-founder of Claudi & Fin, reveals a typical week running her frozen yoghurt lolly company lollies, and ask for their PR recommendations. Because we don’t have a massive marketing budget we’re planning on putting a lot of energy into our PR, and as a first to market product, enriched with vitamin D, that’s

produced by two mums, we feel we‘ve got a lot of topical pointers for journalists to pick up on. DAY TWO: CREATING A LASTING IMPRESSION If you love our lollies the

We come up with the idea of buying an ice cream van to brand up and tour

MAY 2014

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like it might work and has the retro feel we’re after, we start contacting a number of car wrap companies.

chances are they aren’t going to hang around for long, and therefore we’ve been thinking of how to create a lasting impression for all the journalists and bloggers; something they can keep on their desks or take home with them. So we have a brainstorming session and come up with a number of entirely inappropriate items, and then settle on children’s t-shirts, stickers and cotton shopper bags for the mums. We’ve had such positive reactions to our branding, with people really falling in love with the lolly characters, Claudi & Fin, that we can’t wait to see it out and about! The rest of the day is spent briefing our lovely designer, Amanda and getting the best quotes for our marketing tackle.

We launch in Sainsbury’s in May, with a multi-pack available in two delicious flavours

DAY FOUR: NO. 10 We’re off to Downing Street! Not your average Thursday but what an opportunity for Claudi & Fin. We are members of Enterprise Nation, an organisation run by the brilliant Emma Jones, helping Britain’s start-ups in every way possible. Emma has run a series of discussions at No.10 with UK businesses and the Prime Minister’s special advisor on business, Daniel Korski. The focus of the meeting was “small businesses supplying big businesses”. And what a hot bed of discussion it was, with many small businesses describing the difficult trading terms advocated by big businesses and the impact this has on suppliers’ cash flow. Anyway, the highlight of the day, other than hearing Emma champion our causes, was meeting all the other entrepreneurs. We felt so


inspired and invigorated again that we skipped back to our office (kitchen) with refreshed enthusiasm. We also realised how important it was to talk to other entrepreneurs and businesses, because they have so many valuable insights to offer and are going though all the same challenges we are. DAY FIVE: RECIPE NPD We launch in Sainsbury’s in May with a multi-pack available in two delicious flavours; strawberry and mango. Perfecting the recipe was a challenge and eventually took us two years, but the flavour and texture is unbelievable. However, we don’t want consumers to wait too long before our next flavour launches, so today we’re working on two new potential flavours; blueberry and Greek yoghurt and honey. The quality of the ingredients is integral to our brand, and we’ve fought to keep the list of foods natural and nutritious. The day is a lot of fun, mixing and whizzing - and it should be, we make lollies after all!

DAY THREE: A MARKETING WAGON Being frozen means getting our lollies into the hands of journalists and bloggers isn’t quite as simple as putting them in the post. So we do a lot of research into frozen courier vans, dry ice and an ecoalternative called Wool Cool. We come up with the idea of buying an ice cream van to brand up and tour around the UK. We then spend probably longer than we should thinking of delicious tunes to blast out of the van (brand appropriate of course). The choice and range of prices for ice cream vans is unbelievable. Once we’ve found something that looks

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10:18 23/04/2014 09:43



WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS? If making 20 or more redundancies, you have to engage in collective consultations with representatives of affected employees – try to avoid that.

Redundancies – Top Tips

IS THERE NOW, OR LIKELY TO BE, A REDUNDANCY SITUATION? The next thing you should do – work out whether a redundancy situation actually does or will exist.Why does it matter? If you make someone redundant but a tribunal find that it wasn’t in fact a redundancy situation - dismissal could be unfair.

Rayner Jones, partner at Kemp Jones Solicitors LLP, and a Basepoint Business Centre resident, gives his top tips on redundancies

REDUNDANCY POLICY? Do you have a redundancy policy, and is it binding? If you do, and it is, it might tie your hands regarding selection criteria, or oblige you to pay enhanced redundancy payments. Redundancy policies are a bad idea – if you don’t have one, don’t introduce one. DO YOU NEED TO INVITE VOLUNTEERS FOR REDUNDANCY? Unless you are bound by a redundancy policy – no. Very often asking for volunteers is a bad idea. You tend to get volunteers who you do not want to lose, or those who will cost you a lot in notice and redundancy pay.

will score each employee. It is not necessary to have objective criteria - such as discipline; attendance; productivity, etc. Those criteria are more suitable in a different era, such as the industrial era,where components of the job could be measured.Use two assessors to ensure impartiality

Redundancy policies are a bad idea – if you don’t have one, don’t introduce one

POOLS You may not need a pool if the employees affected are in unique roles. If a pool is required, you must be able to show you have considered who should be in it. But you do have flexibility.

CONSULTATIONS Once you have done your provisional scoring, you then need to get on with actually implementing the redundancies. You need to consult with individual employees. However, you don’t need to consult with everyone in the pool, just those selected. As a general rule, consultations should take a minimum of one or two weeks, unless an employee wants to shorten the time.

SELECTION CRITERIA If you have a pool, you have to devise criteria against which you

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT? At the first meeting, you could offer an enhanced redundancy

payment in the event they are made redundant, provided they sign a settlement agreement. It is a very good way of short-cutting the process and avoiding claims ALTERNATIVE EMPLOYMENT Offer any available vacancies that are within staff skills and capabilities. But please note, even if the employee accepts an alternative job, he can still bring a claim of unfair dismissal arising from the termination of his previous job. TRIAL PERIODS Where you offer suitable alternative employment, and the employee accepts, they have a four-week statutory trial period in that job. PLANNING Key to success – avoiding claims and defeating them – is planning. Choreograph the whole process before you speak to any employees.

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An insider’s view to

director disputes

Jonathan Kettle, serial entrepreneur and founder of and - having experienced director disputes and mediation - gives his tips on how to handle them

TAKE A TIME OUT Try and sit down as friends - just the two of you. Talk about where you started from and how you got to this point, trying to reconnect the friendship, and agreeing that fighting will just be costly. Legal action from both sides will quickly add up, and if at any point you think you can resolve an issue, just pick up the phone and talk to the person. Your solicitor might advise against, it but don’t fear sending out an olive branch. In truth, if it did get to court and you are seen as the person trying to resolve the issue, you will look better in the judge’s eyes.

hen I was running a previous business, I was unfortunate enough to be involved in a dispute with another director. It was eventually resolved, but not before a substantial amount of stress and disruption occurred, which could have easily been avoided had we approached things differently. If you find yourselves embroiled in a director dispute, here’s a few words from someone who’s been there and done it.


TALK If you fall out with a fellow director or shareholder - talk. You need to find a resolution, as the problem will not just go away. The most common reason for a dispute is dissipative effort when one person thinks they are contributing more than the other. Ask yourself if you knew this would be the case before you started. If not, you need to resolve it. If your initial attempts of communication fail and you receive a solicitor’s letter, you’re heading down a rocky road. A dozen letters and a few thousand pounds later, you will wish you had talked more.

A dozen letters and a few thousand pounds later, you will wish you had talked more

EVALUATE DIFFERENT WAYS TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE If you end up in mediation, be ready for a long day. Try not to get into an argument about the rights and wrongs of who did what. Agree that the aim of the day is to come to an agreement. Don’t be scared of playing your hand first. Making an offer will tell the other person where you’re at, and it might save a lot of wasted negotiation. My experience of mediation

was that it wasn’t going to get resolved, and it would have been a wasted day, and I was going to be £3000 worse off. My resolution was to get my fellow director in a room on our own with just the mediator to listen. We talked, and agreed no grudges if we could resolve it. Don’t be scared of apologising even if you have done nothing wrong. Remember your goal. To get the matter resolved so you can forget it and move on. Remember the other person does not want this any more than you do. This is the part of them you need to appeal to. DON’T BE STUBBORN FOR THE SAKE OF IT Before you decide that you don’t want to resolve the issues, work out the cost of, say, six solicitor’s letters over a three-year period, and then add in the cost of your health. You have your base line for cost upon which you can make an offer to end the dispute before it even starts. Mediation will cost anything up to £5,000, and then Court costs will run into the tens of thousands, so you need to be sure that the fight is really worth it.

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We love…

exhibitions This month we feature the essentials to get you noticed at exhibitions

COMPETITIONS, CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS A great way of collecting contacts and data at an exhibition is by using a fish bowl so people can pop their business card in. However, what’s even better is having an incentive to persuade potential clients and customers to pop them in. Run a competition with a business partner, and/or offer up your own products or services – and persuade people to enter by popping their cards in. You’ll get the data, contacts and will be able to build a rapport with the winner(s). Dunelm stock an optic fishbowl for £9.99. Contact:

BRAND AWARENESS Promotional items are great for exhibitions. The best types for the day are cotton shoppers or paper bags, and pens, because people are likely to use them while they walk around the show, advertising your brand. Balloons are likely to attract attention, while branded Rubiks cubes, smart notepads with pens, and message blocks are likely to be used by clients long after the show. A great promotional material company is:

SELL, SELL, SELL Exhibitions are as much about finding prospective clients as they are about selling there and then. If you can finish a show knowing you brought in some revenue, it’s paid for itself. An easy way to take payments on the day is by using a card reader that connects to your mobile phone. The PayPal card reader is just £99, and then 2.75% for every payment accepted with Chip and PIN cards or PayPal check-in. Once the payment has been made, it can also send receipts via email or text message. To find out more about the PayPal card reader visit: webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader

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Look the business:

Smart shirts Gentlemen, this selection of shirts will have you looking the part

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Paul Costelloe Living Men, £50, Dunnes Stores Best of British shirt, £99, Marks & Spencer Straight collar shirt, £29.95, Land’s End Shadow Stripe shirt, £65, Jaeger Smart shirt in red, £20, ASOS




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Hot spots We feature the best locations in the UK for SMEs to meet clients, stay away on business and hold events, as well as hubs and offices to set up shop

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Opposite: Under the Bridge. Above, clockwise: Bearwood House & Cottage, Mews of Mayfair, Huckletree

MEET AND EAT MEWS OF MAYFAIR Where? Mayfair, near Bond Street. What? Four floors, consisting of a lounge bar, cocktail bar, brasserie, and a cosy outside seating area. The menu features fine food, signature cocktails, vintage Champagnes, and a wide selection of wine. Why choose Mews of Mayfair? The Mews is a stylish place to meet clients in a top London location. A short walk from Bond Street, you pass distinctive places like Claridges. The restaurant is classy and quiet, while the bar has more of a buzz. It’s a meaty menu with dishes like fish & chips, steak, guinea fowl and ox cheeks. There’s not much choice for veggies. Contact: AWAY ON BUSINESS BEARWOOD HOUSE & COTTAGE Where? Herefordshire What? A half-timbered house and cottage in an idyllic rural setting. Features include an open log fire,

pool table, table tennis, dart board, hot tub, bicycles, garden furniture and a barbeque. Why choose Bearwood House? If you have to do business in Herefordshire or the surrounding area and want to take your family with you, this place if perfect to extend your stay and enjoy this part of the country. Or if you’re looking for a unique staff incentive – why not take your team here for a treat? Or you could raffle it off to one staff member to enjoy with their family. Contact: EVENTS AND GATHERINGS UNDER THE BRIDGE Where? Stamford Bridge (Chelsea football ground), Fulham Road What? A chic venue in an iconic location (especially for Chelsea fans). Capacity is 500 standing, 250 seated, 300 as theatre, up to 500 for a dinner, and 250 for a cabaret. Why choose Under the Bridge? If you’re planning to hold an event, the

venue has a range of versatile packages, which cover everything from food to lighting, to build the style you want. It also gives charities a 50% discount. Contact: OFFICES AND HUBS HUCKLETREE Where? Clerkenwell, near Farringdon Station What? A 3,000 sq ft office offering energy efficient office and workshop space for 40 workers. It features video-call booths, meeting rooms and a large boardroom for eight people. Each floor has a different atmosphere; “hang out”, “collaborate” and “focus”. Why choose Huckltree? Environmentally friendly, it is the first co-working space in the UK to be Ska accredited. It also has a simple pricing structure, with low-cost flexible access options, with prices starting from £200 per calendar month, or £35 per day. Contact:

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24/04/2014 15:46

Sponsored Article


ood managers are essential to any successful organisation. An exceptionally good manager achieves a hard working, productive and effective workforce that punches above its weight in its performance. What a good manager will not do is: • Hire people who don’t fit • Hire people who make them look smart in comparison • Treat employees like untrustworthy fools • Not deal with a problem quickly and efficiently • Never say ‘thank you’ for a job well done So what makes a good manager? A key to successful management is the relationship between the manager and his or her staff. It’s the manner in which managers manage people that separates the ordinary from the good and the exceptional. Good relationships are based on trust, commitment and engagement, and a good manager’s essential role is to build these relationships for the benefit of the organisation, so that the tasks that are set are completed with enthusiasm, effectively, on time and with the energy to do more. What good managers do is: 9 hire exceptional staff who may be smarter than they are because these people can add value to the team and do the job well! 9 make the organisation a preferred employer by attracting exceptional staff who can do an exceptional job

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MANAGING PEOPLE IS EASY – OR IS IT! for the customers 9 treat their staff like adults – communication is key so they get to know their staff, find out what motivates them as it is not the same for everyone! 9 give praise when and where it is due 9 deal with problems quickly so that they are nipping any issues in the bud before things get out of hand 9 support and coach all the members of their team By doing this a good manager is more likely to have staff who are engaged, committed and ‘go the extra mile’. They are, by default, less likely to have de-motivated staff who cause lots of problems. They will also be more likely to manage any member of the team who is causing problems so that these are dealt with and either the employee is helped to improve or is managed out of the organisation in

a fair and effective way. A good manager is also good at managing and developing themselves. They recognise that there is usually room for improvement in themselves as well as their team so that they: • achieve good results • are assertive and communicate well • are clear thinkers and effective speakers who are good at influencing others • are decisive, good at negotiation and problem solving • excel at time management • spend time in self-development Management is a skill that can be learned. If any of your managers or supervisors need to improve their management skills, then contact us and discuss training for these individuals so that this benefits the business. Square Circle HR Ltd can provide either one to one coaching or design in-house training which can be delivered to a group of staff. See more at, email or call Alison Welsh alison@ or 0141 248 7826.

28/04/2014 15:33

Theaccelerator arlier this month, a debate broke out on Newsnight between Eileen Burbidge, a partner from Passion Capital, and Andrew Orlowski, editor of The Register, about the need for more “engineering” driven culture around start-ups. As is the case with most good television debates, both parties have equally valid points. As technology entrepreneurs, we do a really bad job of explaining what we do, leaving movies such as the Social Network and television programmes such as Dragons’ Den to fill in the gaps. Whilst they might help to popularise technology and entrepreneurship in the mainstream – their oversimplification can lead to massive misinterpretation. Steve Jobs hasn’t helped either, with the “appification” of the tech sector that has created this simplification – reducing highly sophisticated hardware and software to the press of a small icon on an iPhone or iPad. It belittles the hardcore engineering (both software and hardware), which has gone into the creation of this technology. Two world class software businesses based in TechCity that punch well above their weight on a global stage are Swiftkey and CityMapper. Both apps can easily be dismissed as frivolous, but both are built on some extremely hardcore algorithms that are being calculated in real time.




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

As technology entrepreneurs we do a really bad job of explaining what we do

For those who are not familiar with either app, Swiftkey is a keyboard that uses artificial intelligence technologies that enable it to predict the next word the user intends to type, whilst CityMapper is a journey planner that makes the large complicated city transportation systems simple and usable. But let’s not get carried away, we are as much at fault. We can’t help ourselves but make life difficult. Let’s start with the fact that we call ourselves software developers. To clarify, developers are builders who buy and sell property hoping to make a good profit on the way through. We, as a community, have a responsibility to call ourselves software engineers – not software developers. Software engineers that build software products that can be (frictionlessly) exported around the world at a push of a button - no different from manufacturing in the past. Embracing this new found description as software engineers can be extended into education. As was argued, we need many more engineers, yes software engineers, and they are not going to come through the current education system. I believe that we need to adopt the historic approach of training engineers through apprenticeships, opting out of university, and working and learning in parallel to build

the skills and experience for a career during the next 20 years. This is no longer optional, and from September 2014, computer programming will be taught in primary and secondary schools, making England the first country in the world to mandate this. Kids from the age of five will be taught to code, through to at least 16. Never underestimate the power, wonder and sophistication of the technology at your fingertips. As Jony Ive describes perfectly: ‘When something exceeds your ability to understand how it works, it sort of becomes magical.’ Contact: Twitter: @jd

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, a dedicated tech blog for start-ups in Europe.

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Why should you be “Content Marketing”? Content Marketing is the creation and sharing of unique content (written and visual) that helps your business communicate key messages and encourages your audience to believe the things you want them to about your brand. Sounds like magic? It is a bit. Which is why so many businesses are adopting it as a key part of their marketing strategy. It’s no longer enough to just tell people that you are great at what you do and the right choice. You need to prove it. And content marketing is how you do this.

Let’s go back into yesteryear In the “olden days” businesses used to have websites, and that was it. In my design agency, we created many high quality websites – to share what made a business great and unique and to show personality. A few years ago, we started to integrate blogs and social media too – which was the beginnings of content marketing. Now it’s time to think beyond blogging and social media. It’s time to think content marketing.

This requires an audit and a cleanup - and a 6 point checklist: 1.

Your website and email communications should be responsive (that means the layout is fluid and automatically adjusts for mobile devices, browsers, tablets etc to be visually appealing and easy to read).


Ideally, your website should be built in WordPress (our favourite CMS which allows you to easily update the site).


All your communications should be fresh and visually appealing – using great use of space, typography, layout and images.


Throughout our marketing, you should include social media (links to great profiles, social media sharing, and of course, your people need to be familiar with the tools).


You need a seamlessly integrated blog (where you can write articles, embed video, embed PowerPoint files and include images/infographics).


Your website should be content marketing ready - which involves regular content coming from your team and your business, distributed via social media and on your site, combined with new ways to engage and listen.

Content includes: Blogs Social Media Updates Ebooks White Papers Reports Infographic

Great, unique and relevant content lets you do all these amazing things for your business: Consistently remind people you exist

Want to learn more? Ask us for an invite to our upcoming seminar “The Content Marketing Game Plan” in Soho, on the 21st of May. Be sure to mention “Talk Business” for extra special perks!

Show yourselves as experts/thought leaders Answer frequently asked questions Allow people to get to know the personality and personalities in the business

Get in touch

Attract the right customers

020 7036 0560

Smart content marketing takes time, creativity, energy and strategy. It takes the development of your marketing muscles. The first step is recognising the value and the possibility. Then you need to make sure you have the right online environment to support your content marketing activity.

Keren Lerner | CEO of TLD

Illustrations by Tamlyn Hall

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Should HR professionals be doing more video interviews? THE BENEFITS The primary benefit of video interviews is that you can cast the net wider. You can see people from further afield, who may not have the time or inclination to travel a long distance for what might be a speculative interview. Recruitment, is, or should be, about casting the net widely. The best of 100 potential candidates will always be better than the best of 50. With that said, that also means you can save the huge cost of candidate expenses, particularly if they do have the will to travel from abroad seeking a career in the UK. In 2012, employers in the UK spent an average of 10 working days interviewing, 16% of the working week travelling to meet candidates, and £3,286 reimbursing candidates’ travel

Peter Burgess, managing director of Retail Human Resources, examines how business owners can make use of the growing trend

Recruitment, is, or should be, about casting the net widely

expenses, according to a survey carried out by Cammio - a Dutch company specialising in online video services. In terms of logistics, video interviews mean that you don’t have to book a room to conduct the interview. Whilst they should be held somewhere quiet with no interruptions, this is another task that doesn’t have to be added to the to-do-list. The key is to ensure that the interviewers are trained to interview in this way, and that the equipment and connection is as good as it can be. Of course the latter will depend on the interviewee having the right capacity with their connection too.

ARE VIDEO INTERVIEWS TRICKIER FOR THE CANDIDATE? People are always selfconscious about how they come across on camera. How many times have we watched a video of ourselves and thought, “do I really sound or look like that?” The key is to break through that barrier - and that’s where the practice comes into play. In today’s media-savvy and techworld, the trick to making a good impression; for some businesses an interview may be less about what you know and more about how you come across on camera. Contact:

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We know employment law inside out. Whether you’re looking for hands-on help in dealing with absence or performance issues, need a tailored employment contract or need solid advice to enable you to meet your obligations as an employer, we can provide you with all the support you need

Our straightforward, results-led approach offers the following benefits to your business: • Improved employee performance, leading to increased business efficiency and productivity. • Cost savings as a result of reductions in absence and employee turnover. • Time saved dealing with Human Resources issues. More time available to run your business. • Confidence that your HR systems and documents meet legal requirements - reduced risk of tribunal or prosection. • No more HR headaches!

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Top ten tips to improve internet security Nick Chowdrey, a finance and accounting writer for Crunch, an online accountancy firm for freelancers and small businesses, gives his top tips on web security 1. INSTALL LATEST WINDOWS/OSX Having an outdated version of your operating system is a bit like driving a rickety old car. Not only does it look like it’s from the past, in many cases it’s also not very safe. The latest versions boast the most cutting-edge security software, so if your OS is stuck in the ‘noughties you should seriously consider an upgrade. 2. BIN INTERNET EXPLORER We realise some people have been using Internet Explorer since the world wide web was first spun, but we hate to break it to you… it’s rubbish! IE users are targeted because the bad guys know they’re not likely to be very web-savvy. But don’t despair, there are plenty of free (and better) alternatives to choose from. 3. CONSTANTLY KEEP YOUR BROWSER/OS UP TO DATE Constant update notifications can be a pain in the modem, but ignoring them is just foolhardy. Virtual bugs are just like real life ones, they’re constantly evolving to find different ways to infect you. All the latest know-how is crammed into those updates, so it’s really important to stay up to date. 4. IMPROVE YOUR PASSWORDS If a hacker discovers your email login is “johnmail86” they’ll probably guess that

For maximum security, use a random combination of upper/ lower case letters

your Facebook login is “johnfacebook86”, (sorry John, better change those passwords!) For maximum security, use a random combination of upper/lower case letters, numbers and symbols and download a password logger to keep them safe. 5. TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION It may sound a bit swanky, but this just means that logging in requires two ways to check your identity, usually a password and a reference code sent to your phone. You can set this up on many websites, including Twitter and Gmail, in the privacy settings. 6. INSTALL ANTI-SPYWARE AS WELL AS ANTI-VIRUS Spyware and viruses are two different things and you should get programmes that deal with both. There’s loads of free software to choose from. 7. MAINTAIN RESTORE POINTS Ever wished you could turn back time? Well computers kind of allow you to do that, giving you

the chance to rewind to before things went horribly wrong. Your computer will usually create restore points on its own, but it’s a good idea to do it yourself every time you install an important program. 8. BACKUP DATA External hard drives are pretty cheap nowadays, and virtual storage, such as offered by Dropbox and Google, can be even cheaper. 9. INSTALL AN AD BLOCKER Internet ads aren’t only annoying; they often contain links to nasty sites that will inject all kinds of unwanted things into your computer. Most browsers nowadays have a pop-up blocker installed, but ad-blockers go a step further, removing ads that appear on the page as well. 10. BE A VIGILANT BROWSER To be honest, this point could make up a whole new tip sheet. But in a nutshell, try to stick to browsing sites that you trust. Sites listed higher up searches are more likely to be safe because more people have used them. There are some dark and dingy corners of the internet. Just try and stay away.

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Enhancing the fan experience eople are more connected than ever, and that trend will continue at an increasingly rapid rate. It is estimated that by 2015, there will be 5.6 billion mobile devices in use globally, accompanied by a projected increase of 2,600 per cent in mobile data transfers. Clearly, there is an increasing appetite for media-rich experiences delivered on mobile devices. These trends are arguably most obvious in the sports and entertainment realm, resulting in a host of new experiences for fans and business opportunities for teams, leagues, stadia and arena owners, as well as their partners. There are a growing number of sports-related social networking websites and applications that create instant access to the latest scores and allow users to post and share images and videos of games and events. With this comes a rise in demand for these amenities to be available in venue to complement the action. Fans expect their mobile experience to be as good, if not better than, the experience to and from the event. However in most sports and entertainment venues today, existing wireless and cellular technologies, such as 3G and 4G, are not optimised for the reliable delivery of these services to such a highly concentrated group of users, leaving


Nigel Collier, managing director of digital innovative, Studio Skylab discusses how to improve the fan experience with technology

According to Google, 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones while in a physical store

thousands of fans with limited ability to share video and access mobile data applications. The need to create a seamless and uninterrupted stadium Wi-Fi experience has become one of the primary focuses for industry executives. As a result, there is an increasing need to address the requirement for seamless and reliable connectivity, and the emerging business opportunities associated with the event and venue-specific applications. The opportunities for increased levels of interactivity to engage fans in compelling ways are endless. Sporting venues can offer exclusive location-based applications such as concierge services, and revenue opportunities like realtime concessions, merchandise, and ticket ordering, while uninterrupted voice and text services will allow fans to enjoy the event like never before. But the rewards for offering an enhanced mobile experience do not remain online, as venues are increasingly offering instant prizes for fans who access, and are actively involved in, their social media campaigns. Digital sales will account for 11.5% of the total retail sales within the UK this year - one of

the highest in the world - and in the UK, more than half of us now own a smartphone, and 6.5 million of us regularly access retail stores on it. But those figures are set for explosive growth. Mobile devices will continue to drive shopper behaviour as consumers use them to price check, access product placement, view recommendations and explore social media to inform their purchasing decisions. According to Google, 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones while in a physical store. This won’t just generate online sales, but will transform the way that consumers shop in a multi-channel world.Apps create interactive experiences, and this can be replicated to stadium or event merchandise stores, giving SME’s the opportunity to sell products to an engaged audience before, during, and after a live event. 2014 will be the year that forward thinking retailers see mobile not just as another retail channel, but instead as a personal gateway to the shopper that can inform, inspire and excite by enabling a richer and more targeted experience. Contact:



24/04/2014 15:50

Sponsored Article



S has proven to be the preferred cloud platform for businesses to build and deliver CRM solutions.

applications provide, out-of-the-box, a deep and broad set of functionality to meet almost every need. However, its implementation typically requires some level of configuration,

customisation and integration - to ensure that the package fully meets your specific business needs. To achieve this, you’ll need expert resources who have the requisite skills and experience in delivering high value solutions. Some organisations decide to establish their own internal team. Others decide to engage an external Salesforce. com Consulting partner firm. BUT - experiences have shown that there are some drawbacks and limitations with each of these approaches:



This could involve cross-training existing staff AND/OR recruiting new staff with right skills and experiences. This approach gives you full control of your own talent pool, which you can flex to meet the changing needs of your business. However, this option could also involve: • Recruiting and Training Costs • Retention Costs (and associated risks) • Project Delivery Risks (particularly during unplanned sick, holiday or other leave) • Sub-optimal utilisation What’s more, your capabilities are limited to the incumbent skills of your team - and hence might need to engage additional staff to support other, or more complex needs.

This approach will give you access to the resources and complete suite of skills you need – and the potential ability to deliver a project, aligned with best practice, in a shorter timespan. However, these folks: • Can introduce high costs;

So, in response to these issues, Hyphen8’s IN:GAGE programme provides organisations access to a flexible, scaleable and retained resource service – all year round. It provides experienced technical experts, and business consultants

IN:GAGE - A BETTER WAY The IN:GAGE programme is a fully managed “One Stop Shop” service, that operates almost like your own in-house function. It includes: • Designing, developing and supporting CRM applications to meet your immediate and longer-term business meets • Providing guidance, knowledge, methods and advice to help ensuring users are fully trained and engaged to make best use of with extensive experience in helping organisations deliver transformational change. IN:GAGE is a fully managed “One Stop Shop” service tailored to meet your ongoing business needs (details in the green box).

Contact Hyphen8 now to explore how can be tailored to meet the needs of your business, in the Cloud! Tel: 0207 608 5671 Email: Web:

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• May not be cognisant of the culture and workings of your business; and, • Don’t have any vested interest in helping you truly deliver business benefits. Furthermore, you may still need to recruit some staff to provide ongoing support and maintenance!

application capabilities • Helping you ensure rigorous data quality management processes are in place to deliver reliable information that can be trusted • Advising at a strategic and operational level to ensure your organisation gets the best value from the solutions in place • All of the above would be delivered and managed within a robust governance and risk managed framework. Hyphen8 is a UK based CRM consulting firm that specialises in helping businesses and not-for-profit organisations get the best value from their investments in cloud computing, based on the platform.


hyphen cloud consulting

17/03/2014 11:02



I’ve got an app for that… This month, we’ve chosen apps to help you track flights, and scan documents with your smartphone

CamScanner Price: FREE Compatible with: Android and iOS The gist: CamScanner is a mobile document scanning and sharing app, already installed on 60 million devices in 208 countries. It allows you to scan, store, sync and collaborate on various content across

smartphones, iPads, tablets and computers using your smartphone camera. It includes its own image cropping and enhancing algorithm for clearer images, and you can even extract particular sections of text froma document. It’s great when you’re on the go. Downloadable from:

Flight Track 5 Price: £2.99 Compatible with: Android and iOS The gist: It gives you real time departure info, delays, and gate numbers at a glance. International coverage allows you to track flights worldwide. It even informs you of cancellations and helps you find alternate flights when you’re stuck.

Users get push notifications with flight updates, and can view terminal maps to help navigate to the gate. With FlightTrack, you can search flights by number or route in the search field, create trips with multiple flights and passengers, and view the progression of an entire trip within a single workflow. Downloadable from: flighttrack



24/04/2014 15:51


3D printing for

the masses Dawn Murden reports on The Micro 3D printer, which prints jewellery and toys at the click of a button, and will retail at just £150



Nokia has released schematics for printable phone covers

have printed whole dresses using them, while Nokia has released schematics for printable phone covers, and Rolls Royce is looking to print engine parts. Printers are currently being developed for medical use as well – imagine being able to print teeth and joints, for example. The reason 3D printing has become a buzzword more recently is because the printers are becoming more accessible to the masses. The cheapest models used to be in excess of £2,000. However, now there are models for £1,000 or less, available from high street stores such as Maplin. But last month, there was a model in the news that took the tech world by storm. A firm in Maryland created the Micro 3D, which costs just £150. The designers have been working on the printer for a number of years, but launched it on

Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects last month. In just 11 minutes, the Micro 3D had achieved its target of $50,000 (£30,000). The campaign runs until May 7, and at the time of writing, the M3D has already raised more than $250,000 (£156,00) in funding – smashing its target. The printer weighs just 2.2lbs (1kg), and will print objects up to 4.6 inches (117mm) tall. It comes ready to use, so there’s nothing to assemble or set up – unlike many of the other budget 3D printers available at the moment. The designers of the M3D say it is not just lighter than existing printers, but 10 times more efficient – they say they took all of the features they like from existing printers and redesigned everything else. ‘At M3D we knew at some point in the future these tools

Picture credit: M3D/Kickstarter

here has been a real buzz about 3D printing during the last few months. The actual concept of 3D printing for most seems mind boggling. It involves converting a computer-generated image into a solid object through “sequential layering” – building your creation through thousands upon thousands of microscopic horizontal layers. Watching one of the videos of the printers in action makes me think I should be watching a scene from a futuristic sci-fi film. The technology is still in its relative infancy. Despite emerging around 30 years ago, it has only taken off in the past decade. Now some are saying 3D printing is the “third industrial revolution”, claiming it is the biggest invention since the Internet. There are many examples of how 3D printers are being used already. Fashion designers

MAY 2014

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Picture credit: M3D/Kickstarter


would be a part of everyone’s lives, so we asked why not now?’ said founder Michael Armani. ‘In order for [3D printers] to live up their potential, they need to be affordable and completely effortless to use. ‘There hasn’t been a truly affordable consumer printer that’s easy to use; where you plug it in and press print, until now. And that’s why we made the Micro 3D printer. ‘The Micro 3D is for everyone. We designed it to be perfect for beginners and experts.’ So how did the company keep the costs down? Co-founder, David Jones said: ‘We’ve managed to keep the cost of the Micro low by ensuring that it’s space- and power-efficient, compact, and lightweight. ‘It uses as much power as a tablet would use, without compromising on reliability, consistency, or accessibility.’

The firm did offer “early bird” printers on eBay for $199 (£109), but these sold out within minutes. It’s clear 3D printing is very popular right now. So what sort of things can you make with the printer? Well, the demo video includes examples of custom-made pastry cutters, and replacing broken shower hooks. It can also print custom toys, jewellery and food, including chocolate - bringing a range of manufacturing options to your business. If you run a productbased business, it could be revolutionary for you in producing prototypes, and in some cases the real thing. It will bring your creation to life right before your eyes, and no longer will you have to use wood and glue, rely on a manufacturer, or injection moulding. You may think if you run a services company that you

If you run a productbased business, it could be revolutionary for you in producing prototypes


have no interest in this type of technology – but what about printing promotional material? Without the help, and cost, of another company, you could produce models, jewellery and badges for shows and exhibitions. 3D printing is definitely something SMEs should be considering to grow their business, especially when the Micro 3D goes on general sale. There’s no doubt competitors will try to rival it, opening up the technology to the masses, and you, even further. To find out more about the Micro 3D visit: Visit the Kickstarter page here: m3d/the-micro-the-first-trulyconsumer-3d-printer Next month, we’ll take a look at the best 3D printers on the market right now.

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fRANCHISE NEWS Driver Hire reports best ever year

Franchisee of the Year Awards open for entries THE BRITISH FRANCHISE Association (bfa) has launched the bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards, with two new categories, as the oldest awards in UK franchising celebrate its 25th anniversary. The bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Award is given to the UK’s most outstanding franchisee, selected from the winners of the six categories below: Award for Franchisee Customer Service Recognises excellence in customer care, identifying the franchisees that have gone above and beyond to deliver exemplary service to their customer base. Young Franchisee of the Year Award Identifies the country’s pioneering young franchisees. The category is for those under the age of 30, and will celebrate the triumphs and enterprising nature of the nation’s young talent. Micro-Business of the Year Award Showcases the excellent business practice carried out by the country’s smaller franchises. Mobile and home-based businesses run by a single operator or couple are eligible for this category. Female Franchisee of the Year Award Champions the commitment and drive present in female franchisees across the country whose passion and skill makes them stand out from the crowd.

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Olderpreneur Franchisee of the Year This award provides an opportunity for franchisees above the age of 55 to celebrate the ways in which they have used their knowledge and expertise to create new avenues of growth for their business. B2B Franchisee of the Year Highlights the franchisees operating in a business-to-business environment. It will commend franchisees who can demonstrate how they have leveraged their relationships and expertise to create a profitable business delivering high-quality service, products and savings to their clients.

DRIVER HIRE HAs had an excellent year. Another strong set of weekly turnover figures for the final week in March completed an outstanding 12 months, helping the transport and logistics recruiter to smash its previous best (set in 2007/08) by more than £1 million. Overall, network turnover for the year ending 31 March 2014 was £78 million, an outstanding 19% up on the previous year. Even more impressively, 38 offices increased turnover by 25% or more, and within that number were 18 offices who achieved growth of 50% or more. The Driver Hire network also had 29 offices passing the £1 million turnover mark. And, with the network’s average growth running at 27.5% during the final weeks of 2013/14, it looks as though the franchise will make a flying start to the new financial year as well. Commenting on the achievement, Chris Chidley, Driver Hire’s group chief executive, said: ‘Whilst there’s no doubt that the economy is improving, our rate of growth is easily outpacing it. ‘Breaking the record is a fantastic way to celebrate our 30th year in business.’

Franchisors have until 28 May to nominate franchisees, before finalists are invited for interviews with the judging panel in July. The winners will be announced at a black tie ceremony in Birmingham on 2 October 2014. Brian Smart, bfa director general, said: ‘The bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards provides the bfa with the perfect platform to celebrate the individuals making a difference and progressing in the industry. They celebrate the forward-thinking business practices carried out by the country’s most impressive franchisees. We urge franchisors to nominate their favourite franchisees, so their successes can be celebrated at a national level.’ For more information visit: franchise-awards/franchisee-awards




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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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n order to assess a franchisor, it is first necessary to understand the essence of a franchise. Franchising is neither an industry in its own right nor even a business. It is though one of the fastest growing and most consistently successful methods for distributing products and services. It’s a crazy mixture of conformity and individuality that combines the best elements of big business and small operations. To be successful, a franchisee must comply with the franchise system, and yet such compliance will enable the franchisee to achieve a greater level of fulfillment. The 2012 NatWest/British Franchise Association Survey highlighted the following: • Market turnover in excess of £13.4 billion. • 590,000 people employed (more than the armed forces!). • Approximately 40,000 nondairy franchise units in UK. • 929 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 the following: • Willingness and propensity to work hard. • Acknowledgement to follow and adopt the franchisor’s system. • 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

Researching a franchisor Nigel Toplis, managing director of four major franchise companies, including Recognition Express, gives tips on how to assess a franchisor

There is an increasing desire to run our own business

offers experience, know-how, proven operation methods, marketing tools, sales training, technical guidance, as well as a corporate identity, trademarks, and the all important brand. When selecting the right franchise for yourself, there are six steps you should go through: • Suitability • Investment level • The industry • The franchisor • Professional advice – legal/ financial • Making the decision All six steps are important, but in this article we are looking specifically at assessing the franchisor. A good franchise should have at least the following attributes: 1. A PROVEN BUSINESS HISTORY 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 and get their opinion of the success of the franchisor.

10 KEY QUESTIONS FOR 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? • Are you lonely? • Do you enjoy the business? • Is the business giving you what you expected when you first came on board? • Is your family still supportive? • If you knew what you know now, would you still have joined the franchise?



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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?

The British Franchise Association under-go vigorous checks on franchisors before allowing them to become members 2. WELL DOCUMENTED 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. 4. SECURITY OF TENURE Make sure that the franchisor does actually own the franchise or at least has the rights to operate the franchise. It is not unusual for a franchisor to run the business under a Master Licence agreement from another country. 5. ONGOING SUPPORT 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, know-how 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 does give 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? 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? • How often does a consumer buy the product or service? • Do the products or services enjoy repeat business? • What is the typical value

However, there is nothing better than meeting with the franchisor face to face and 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? 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. Plus make sure that they are a business you are interested in; that you have some or most of the skills required; the investment required is within your compass; and the industry meets your specification in that it’s large, growing and sustainable.

MAY 2014


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The attributes franchisors look for in franchisees t is true that the key to every business’ success is unique. However, there are some universal attributes that will appeal to all franchisors.


1. DILIGENCE Franchisors are successful because they have honed their core business down to a method that can be easily replicated, and which breeds confidence in customers. A franchisee who diligently follows these rules, consults training manuals, and takes on board franchisor advice will be a great asset. From cleaning franchisor, Ecocleen: ‘Our proven business model gives you the opportunity to develop a substantial and profitable business from launch. You will benefit from our proven capability and experience.’ 2. POSITIVITY Franchising is not for the layabout. Entrepreneurship and innovation is important to success. However, highly motivated franchisees who can use their initiative to hone the rules to drive sales will be valued. From the children’s play franchisor, Creation Station: ‘It helps if you have a positive attitude…[but] if you’re the type of person who would fall at the first hurdle, then going

Sarah Louise Dean, editor at, reveals the top five attributes franchisors looks for in franchisees in to business for yourself probably isn’t the right choice.’

Entrepreneurship and innovation is important to success

3. FRIENDLINESS Whether it’s with the franchisor, suppliers, customers or staff, franchisees will get the best out of their work if they have good customer service skills. A franchisee is a business partner not an employee, so being courteous, happy and friendly in all relationships, from monthly meetings to customer complaints, is a skill that franchisors seek - as this benefits the entire enterprise. From organic food franchisor, Riverford Organic: ‘We’re looking for people with a love of customer interaction. Friendly, approachable people that can build relationships with their customers. Because it is all about retaining the customers you get.’ 4. SALES AND MANAGEMENT SKILLS In any business, the ability to sell a brand is fundamental to long term growth and success. Also, a franchisee with a good reputation, great integrity, and the ability to carefully manage accounts, wages and sales, will do well. Those without business experience can

still demonstrate these abilities – a good credit record and a keen, personable nature can win a franchisor over who can then provide sales training. From kitchen re-fit franchisor, Dream Doors: ‘We’re looking for someone with sales and management skills. We don’t look for people who come from the kitchen industry.’ 5. LEADERSHIP Following a franchise model should lead to easy sales, but a franchisee must lead the business to really excel. This not only includes managing staff, but striking the balance between being a team player and leading with authority. This is particularly important as a management franchise owner – providing leadership and supervision for staff will make sure that the day-to-day running of the business is carried out most effectively. From office skills training franchisor, Pitman Training: ‘You want someone who is fairly driven, to be successful and competitive. Because the staff are an integral part of the business, you will need to be able to manage and motivate staff.’



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WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TAKE ON A FRANCHISE? I initially decided to work with the franchise business model as this was the first time that I had ventured into the business world without the security of being employed. The benefits of this model for me are that the brand is already out there in the public domain, and the umbrella organisation can offer intelligence, e.g. research into obesity. I also like that there is a back up team of professionals that can assist me, such as a qualified medical team. It’s also great is that there is a regional business development manager that I can obtain support/ideas from, and that there is considerable brand awareness, as LighterLife has a presence in England, Scotland and Ireland too. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES? For me, working within protocols when initially setting up was an adjustment, and when client numbers are low it can be frustrating. It can also occasionally be very demanding having to carry out almost all the responsibilities myself, while trying to stay motivated. At times, when client numbers are lower than you would like, you end up working really long hours and of course are not reaping that financial reward. I have been known to enlist the help of family at times like these, including my 82-year-old mum, to help label and deliver magazines and leaflets for me. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR YOUR MONEY? New franchisees are fortunate enough to have great support and free supervision for the first year, which always helps you get off the ground. You get

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Take one franchisee

Michele Austin, LighterLife We speak to Michele Austin, franchisee for LighterLife, a weight loss management programme, about her business in Cambridge the learning and development advantages, as well as a recognised qualification in what you do. Plus you gain the professional knowledge and understanding of the business as well as learn all about product development.

I recall one saying that I had saved the person’s life

HOW MUCH DID THE FRANCHISE SET YOU BACK? From my personal experience, about £12,000, and if like me you buy the goodwill of the existing practice, a further £11,000. WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE? In an ideal world I would like to purchase a second area, and to at least double my client base. Personally, I would just

like to be known for working successfully with clients and keeping boundaries tight – that is my aim. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT IN BUSINESS? To be honest it is the little things really. I once had a card sent to me saying “I love you more than cheese” and I just loved it! I get e-mails occasionally, and I recall one saying that I had saved the person’s life, as they were no longer on medication – that was just so touching. Seeing individual’s change as they lose their weight and gain just so much selfconfidence is amazing, it makes every day worth it.




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he most important element in building a franchise network is the attraction and recruitment of the RIGHT franchisees. There are many franchise networks that have failed because they have focussed on recruiting numbers rather than quality. This may have given them short term cash flow, but has then caused significant costs and taken up management time dealing with unsuccessful franchisees. It can be even more serious as it can adversely affect the recruitment of further franchisees when prospects speak to disaffected franchisees, who will usually blame the franchisor and the system for their own failings. Recruiting a franchisee has similarities - and also significant differences - from recruiting employees. In both , you want the very best person for the role and should apply at least the same rigorous standards to both, I have been amazed on occasion that a company seeking a franchise support manager has spent a significant sum with a recruitment agency and put the candidates through a two- or three-part interview process, with presentations to be prepared and psychometric profiling carried out, while a franchise is granted on a single meeting and evidence of the ability of the candidate to stump up the initial fee! The key areas to consider with a franchise application include: 1. Can the prospective franchisee deliver your product or service to the standard required? 2. Can they build the business successfully? 3. Can they manage the business on a day-to-day basis with minimal intervention from the franchisor?



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Recruiting the RIGHT franchisees

Tony Mundella, founder of Franchise Management, a business development consultancy, gives his advice on recruiting a franchisee

Recruiting a franchisee has similarities - and also significant differences from recruiting employees

4. Will they be a good ambassador for your brand? In order to meet these criteria, he or she will need the relevant skills and experience (not necessarily in the industry sector but the transferrable skills of sales, people management etc.), the personal financial stability to carry them through the initial phase of setting up and developing the business, and the emotional strength to be selfreliant, resilient, confident and consultative with the franchisor. Their relevant skills and experience can be gleaned from their CV and the interviews (at least two with different people in the organisation including the most senior person available, ideally the MD or CEO). The financial position requires some sensitive probing and personal questions. I have made the mistake of taking on a franchisee without such detailed enquiries, and whilst his business was moderately successful, it transpired that he had significant debts from a previous venture and almost

all his profit was going to service that debt, making him continually live on the edge of insolvency, which prevented him investing further in staff and resources, as the business demanded. Finally, the personal skills can be evaluated in part through the interview process and getting to know the candidate (including meeting their family if possible), as well as using such tools as are available to assist; such as an external assessor, possibly an experienced franchise professional, and psychometric profiling, which can be invaluable in highlighting areas of concern and issues that need to be probed deeper. One system that I would highly recommend is Success Dynamics: This is the seventh instalment in a series of articles written by Tony Mundella, who has 25 years’ experience in the world of franchising. Contact:


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Forget crypto currencies make bartering your business currency From cash to trade pounds – Brian Whitford, marketing service manage at Bartercard, introduces the 21st Century business tool you shouldn’t be working without

artering is likely as old as civilisation itself. This is why, for some, it conjures up the image of the earliest business transactions taking place in a busy marketplace, and often involving a passionate stall owner and a camel-owning tradesman. However, there are limits to the traditional model of bartering – not least that people’s wants seldom match up exactly, whether that be due to timing, value or transaction control. This is where a trade exchange comes in. Bartercard is the world’s largest business-to-business trade exchange. It provides members with an initial interest-free line of credit, which is used to swap goods and services with each other, without valuable cash changing hands. There are many benefits to this – the ability to use up spare capacity, to meet a group of like-minded business people to trade with, and the ability to protect cash flow. So how does this work? Imagine a hairdresser who needs to hire an accountant to complete a tax return. The hairdresser can use his interest-free line of credit to pay the accountant and then



repay it by providing barbering to new customers, bought to him by Bartercard at a cost that is a lot less than the cash cost would have been. The accountant then uses the trade pounds to buy business cards from elsewhere in the network. The hairdresser has filed his tax return; the accountant has got her business cards – and no money has changed hands. Bartering, then, is an alternative source of finance – something especially attractive at a time when the banks have not fully returned to lending. It contains many of the advantages – but less of the financial risk – of other techniques, such as invoice financing, or asset-based lending. Bartering is also a great way to use spare capacity, be it goods left unsold, or work that staff members’ can do when they would otherwise be twiddling their thumbs. Finally, it is a great business network. There are 55,000 Bartercard members worldwide, of which thousands are in the UK. They are brought together by business development consultants and helped by personal account managers, who facilitate and encourage bartering. In addition there are regular

And no money has changed hands

networking events and trade nights plus an online trading portal for members to use. As a result, the network becomes a great way to meet like-minded businesses to trade with and grow your firm. In fact, bartering is booming. The global barter economy is worth an estimated $12 billion (£7 billion) per year, and trade exchanges – not least Bartercard – are available in countries all over the world. As a result, Bartercard itself is growing.

MAY 2014

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The company is undergoing a franchise-based nationwide expansion programme, tapping into the increased appetite for bartering and franchise ownership across the UK. Bartercard franchise owners have the potential to succeed by engaging SMEs with a way of doing business that not only makes particular sense in the current economic climate, but can also prove valuable regardless of the state of the economy. Not only is the product

The global barter economy is worth an estimated $12 billion (ÂŁ7 billion) per year

compelling, but there’s also a full support programme to help franchise owners to thrive, including a comprehensive training plan, along with administration, management and marketing support. During the next five years Bartercard is appointing 200 new business development consultant franchises, all tasked with the role of recruiting new trade exchange members, and 40 district brokerage franchises to facilitate trading across the

UK and Ireland. There is no better time to get on board and start bartering. The result is hopefully a win-win situation for both Bartercard members and those who join the network as franchisees. In a world where new products, such as cryptocurrencies catch the public eye, it is often the oldest ways of doing business, which remain the most stable. Contact:

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Working the UberOffice way Keiran Brown, founder and CEO of, discusses how collaborative working is the revolutionary new way to do business

ollaborative working is the future of business. Led by a new generation of office space, the trend is transforming corporate London into a modern and accessible marketplace. As rent soars for private office space, this cost effective arrangement is opening the door to burgeoning start-ups, and keeping small businesses in the game. Cubicles are abandoned in favour of shared desks. Meeting rooms belong to no one and break-out areas to everyone. Networking is encouraged and coffee is free.


AFFORDABLE AND FLEXIBLE Collaborative environments enable businesses to avoid the long term financial commitment of typical office space. A one-month rolling contract


is the new standard. This gives start-ups the flexibility to expand by adding more desks with new employees, while having the ability to move on when the business outgrows the shared environment. This is a critical advantage, freeing up capital that would otherwise be locked away in a dedicated office with high overheads. Short contracts are also low risk; providing an easy exit if the venture doesn’t work out or the space isn’t suited to the business. BIG BUSINESS ADVANTAGES A collaborative space offers the big business experience at a fraction of the cost. Along with desk space, premium facilities offer meeting rooms, break-out areas and communal kitchens. Add to that a site receptionist, IT

As rent soars for private office space, this cost effective arrangement is opening the door

technician and cleaner. Throw in printing services, mail handling and complimentary tea/coffee and you’ve got the ultimate no-hassle workplace. It’s a far cry from operating from your cramped home office or meeting clients at the local coffee shop, and gives a far better impression. NETWORK FROM YOUR DESK Collaborative spaces are a breeding ground for innovation, attracting a crowd of likeminded entrepreneurs and business folk with varied skills. Under one roof, it becomes easy to trade expertise and ideas, as well as motivation. These are motivating environments where all desk renters, whatever their trade, are striving for business success and helping each other to achieve it.

MAY 2014

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ABOUT UBEROFFICE.COM ‘ is radical. It’s an energising, inspiring environment that provides the ultimate launching pad for new businesses,’ says Keiran. The first opened its doors in Victoria earlier this year. ‘This is a prestigious address with state-of-the-art facilities, the kind start-ups and small teams couldn’t afford, until now,’ says Keiran. ‘I believe in the sharing economy. At, our residents pay a flat desk rental fee and access all of our services on a fair use policy.’ ‘With one-month contracts, it’s what you need for as long as you need it. Easy in, easy out,’ he says. was designed for start-ups and small businesses that have been stifled by corporate London. ‘Our residents have big ideas and need a space that supports their individuality. What we offer is the absolute opposite of the sterile, cookie-cutter office space that dominates London,’ says Keiran. Keiran aims to grow the portfolio to four London locations within 2014. His latest venture follows the 2012 launch of the phenomenally successful Uber London Apartments, providing luxury flexible rentals as an alternative to hotel accommodation.


Entrepreneur, Keiran Brown is founder and CEO of

Collaborative spaces are a breeding ground for innovation

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New online finance solution promises to

show SMEs the money Anthony Persse, head of Ultimate Business Cash, explains how an innovative online solution is giving SMEs a much needed boost

MEs are the lifeblood of the economy. And the lifeblood of our SMEs is what? It’s finance – without appropriate funding, sufficient cash flow and working capital, it is very hard for a small business to survive, let alone grow. Yet despite all the well intentioned initiatives from the Government, and all the positive noises coming out of the banks, SMEs still find raising finance a frustrating and slow business. That, however, is set to change thanks to a new online service that gives entrepreneurs almost instant access to cash.


HELPING SMES MAKES SO MUCH SENSE The UK now has around 4.8 million SMES. With unemployment at about 2.3 million, if just half our SMEs added one person to the payroll we’d be at full employment. This would dramatically reduce the country’s benefits bill, massively boost tax revenues, and turbocharge retail spending.

SMEs still find raising finance a frustrating and slow business


SLOW CASHFLOW A CONSTANT CHALLENGE So what’s stopping our SMEs? Each one will have their own particular challenges, but cash flow, or lack of it, will feature prominently. On the one hand they are probably suffering from the slow payment of invoices - recent research from

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Bacs Payments Ltd suggests that the average SME has to wait up to eight weeks beyond the due date to see any money (the due date, not the date of issue). On the other, growing a business requires cash injections, as you have to hire staff, buy materials and purchase equipment long before you see any return.


The banks, despite expressing an eagerness to lend, remain cautious

SMES BEING STARVED OF CASH FOR GROWTH Most SMEs still turn to the banks for funding. And the banks, despite expressing an eagerness to lend, remain cautious - they require huge amounts of data and are in no hurry to reach a decision. Even those SMEs willing to go through this lengthy and time consuming process are likely to be disappointed – the recent Albion Ventures Growth Report 2013 showed that 40% of SME applications for bank finance were being rejected. INTRODUCING INNOVATIVE NEW FINANCE SOLUTIONS FOR SMES Those SMEs smart enough to look beyond the traditional overdraft or bank loan will discover a host of innovative alternative funding solutions. One of the most exciting is Ultimate Business Cash, a purely online service that slashes away the tedious administration and frustrating delays. Businesses simply use the dials on the home page to select the sum they need, and the repayment period they’d like. There’s no paperwork, no meetings, no telephone discussions, just a decision - normally within a matter of hours - with the money transferred in minutes once the loan gets the green light. Contact:

About Ultimate Business Cash is part of the Ultimate Finance Group, a well-respected company with 10 years’ experience in providing cashflow solutions to SMEs. These include Ultimate Invoice Finance, Ultimate Asset Finance, Ultimate Trade Finance, Ultimate Construction Finance, Ultimate Transport Finance and Ultimate Recruitment Finance. Ultimate Finance is also accredited by the Government to offer Enterprise Finance Guarantee-backed (EFG) loans to SMEs.

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Finding the right partner Keith Mifsud, managing director, KMC Software, says bespoke software is more cost effective than you think or many, or even most, business managers, the word “software” has an association of expense. Some of the biggest software companies produce renowned software in packages that cost hundreds, or even thousands of pounds. Bespoke software can be in excess of this. Not only can the cost be initially off-putting, but if you are not a developer, getting your own software tailored specifically to your business sounds like a daunting and complicated task. The reality is that these negative associations with cost and complexity are myths, and I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why. New business start-ups are automatically stepping into a highly developed and competitive world. Existing businesses are being forced to adapt. More and more applications to your business are a requirement to be able to utilise the available platforms on which you connect with your clients. Analysis and integration is required to connect these different functions of your business. There are two options for how this can be done – automation, or manual processing. It’s possible to create bespoke software that can handle



every aspect of your business operations. While the price of this may be considered high at first, generally speaking, the cost of commissioning your own tailor-made software is less than the annual salary of the staff that would be required to perform the same function – or, in the case of small businesses where you yourself might need to do this, the investment of a software solution frees up that valuable time for the things you really should be doing. In order to monitor your business performance in areas such as accounts, sales, marketing or logistics, you need to have a system that combines all the analytics and reporting of your key performance indicators and preferably one that adapts to your organisation and not the other way around. Without the appropriate application, this is hours and hours of manual work. If you don’t have time for this, you need to hire staff to do it. But if you have an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software solution, or BIS (business intelligence software) this will be done for you. Not only is this more cost effective, but another advantage to this kind of intelligence is that it eliminates human error. Understandably, the thought of commissioning your

New business start-ups are stepping into a highly developed and competitive world

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The right organisation will offer you total convenience and comfort


very own software may be rather intimidating, but the right organisation will offer you total convenience and comfort. This is why careful consideration should be taken when choosing the company that will develop your software for you. I recommend that your first rule of thumb is to find a company that fully understands your business model, and focuses on providing you with the most comprehensive, yet simplified solution. Your software development partner needs to allow you to step in on any phase of the development life cycle, and encourage transparent communication. A good company would have systems and operational strategies in place to enable you to request changes, even during the development itself. For this reason, at KMC Software Ltd, we use what is known as “agile� software development, which promotes strategy and evolution in a time-boxed approach that keeps progression on target, yet facilitates flexibility in response to changing scenarios. Our systems allow you to look at the progress of your application at any time, and make changes as you wish. We pride ourselves on customer retention through the continuation of our service provision, including round-theclock technical support and data centre facilities. Just as your bespoke software should make your work as easy as possible, so should the process of developing it. Make sure that the development partners you choose to work with have your convenience and quality of product as their priority. Contact:

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ActionCOACH told us about Pam Featherstone, their franchise partner based in Hull, covering Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Coaching SME businesses am Featherstone was comfortably retired, with an impressive property portfolio, when she came across the ActionCOACH franchise. One of her property investment contacts, Chris Fordy, was actually consulting with an ActionCOACH franchise partner, so Pam enquired about the opportunity further. This interaction persuaded Pam enough to re-think her retirement plan! ‘Because I had over three decades of experience, and really enjoyed motivating and inspiring people, I wanted to know more about the ActionCOACH business and how it worked,’ explains Pam. Pam’s main background wasn’t a straight forward precursor to business coaching.



She had previously owned and run laser clinics until July 2009, as well as many other types of businesses, including retail and service businesses. It is often the case with ActionCOACH franchise partners, that their backgrounds are not an obvious springboard into business coaching. There franchise partners come from many different walks of life, but they all have two things in common, a passion for business and a love of helping people succeed. Pam continues ‘I actually met with Brad Sugars [founder of ActionCOACH], who I found to be one of the most inspiring and charismatic people I have ever encountered. I decided to come out of retirement to become an ActionCOACH. My training took place in Brisbane, Australia.’

After all those years of having to do everything myself, this really is a dream

The transition for Pam was straight forward, she received world class training as well as continuous support. ‘I continue to be amazed at the level of support, and the many ideas and strategies that are shared amongst our coaching community! After all those years of having to do everything myself, this really is a dream,’ Pam says. ‘The initial training at the ActionCOACH University was intensive, and like no other training programme I had ever attended.’ ‘I am a really decisive person and love all things business-related. Having met Brad Sugars, and other coaches, as well as attending an ActionCOACH conference, I knew for sure that it was the right decision for me.

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‘After joining ActionCOACH, I contacted Peter Boolkah, the number one coach in the UK, to get him to coach me until I was the number one coach in the UK and knock him off his perch. I am congruent with what I teach and believe to be the best me that I can be, it is important to have a coach. ‘I had been a successful business owner for over 30 years, but I still found that I learnt a lot through Peter’s expertise and guidance. His incredible intuition is matched by his immense integrity. ‘I found his desire to inspire and empower over 100,000 people in creating long term sustainable wealth truly inspiring, and I have no doubt that he will achieve this, as he truly understands people and what drives them.’ WHAT CHALLENGES HAS PAM FACED SINCE BECOMING AN ACTIONCOACH? ‘When I meet business owners who feel that having a business coach means they don’t know what they’re doing, or it is a sign of weakness, I explain to them that this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. And that a really successful athlete’s performance is vastly improved by having the right coach keeping them at the top of their game; it is similar to how I help business owners to be at the top of their game. ‘If they keep doing the same thing every day, they can’t expect their business/life to improve. I inspire their self-

belief and motivate them to take action. To have a fresh look at their business, and so the coaching process begins, helping them to consciously create their future.’ AND WHAT HAVE BEEN HER HIGHEST MOMENTS? ‘For me, the coaching itself is both a huge privilege and a huge responsibility. My clients trust me and allow me, not only into their businesses but also, into their lives. It’s not always an easy process, but the benefits are unquestionable. Yes, better and stronger businesses with more profits, better team results and also a better work/life balance for them and their families. ‘I have a passion for sharing my enthusiasm, energy and knowledge with business owners. They may feel they have lost heart, or are not sure what their next step should be. I show them how their business can enhance their life, not be their life.’ Pam doesn’t just get personal ‘highs’ from her coaching she has also broken into the Top 50 ActionCOACH franchise partners, worldwide. Pam now has a team of three, who are helping her extend her business. Pam’s business banks, on average, £30,000 per month and is increasing every month.

My passion is to help 1,500 business owners


‘I am a complete workaholic – I love what I am doing and never feel like I go to work.’ WHAT WOULD PAM SAY TO SOMEONE THINKING OF BUYING AN ACTIONCOACH FRANCHISE? ‘Be sure that you are selfmotivated enough to run your own business, and genuinely care about helping others. ‘It is important to get all the information and go through due diligence before making a decision, as it is an important and long term commitment that you are making. Telephone: 01284 701648 Email: freedom@actioncoach. com Head to the link below to watch our six-minute overview video: overview

SO WHAT ARE PAM’S PLANS/ ASPIRATIONS FOR THE FUTURE? ‘My passion is to help 1,500 business owners improve their businesses by 2015.

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He said she said This month the entrepreneurs are tweeting about same sex marriage, terrible customer service, and why Tottenham Hotspur are getting it wrong. Opinions (and spelling mistakes) all their own Karren Brady @karren_brady Well done Warwick School, Under 15’s joining U18’s in the FINAL of NatWest Cup. Amazing try Paolo, so PROUD of you son x Well done to Karren’s son – seems the family is full of talent!


Peter Jones @dragonjones Better late than never. Fantastic news for all! RT @wonderlandmag: It’s finally legal! #equalmarriage Good to see a Dragon talking about a huge issue like this.

Kimberly Davis @ApprenticeKim Horrible customer support from @MicrosoftUK today. All I want to do is set up office on my new Mac. Simple, yet I’ve been hung up on 4 times Unfortunately some of the biggest companies need to work on their customer service. Kim got there in the end, and thank goodness, as we’d miss her article!

Richard Branson @richardbranson It’s 38 years today since I met my wonderful wife Joan. Here’s to many more years of love, life & laughter pic.twitter. com/196JxslLEz He’s not all aout business by any means; he has a soft side too!

Lee McQueen @LeeMcQueen @marceljonmoss @Paul_NewmanDM I think that’s our point... We never ‘lost’ the players we sold them! Levy needs to take responsibility If you didn’t already know Lee is a ‘Spurs fan. Shame he hasn’t got much to celebrate about at the moment…

James Caan @jamescaan Whether you’re a CEO, employee or a freelancer, good presentation skills are a must. Here’s my top tips: http://linkd. in/1dUwLc5 Very good advice from Mr. Caan as usual!

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